Obviously, this owes a great deal (understatement of the century candidate) to George Lucas, and to Michael Stackpole's "X-Wings" series of novels. Wedge isn't mine, but the others here are.
No copyright infringement is intended.
The open transport moved slowly over the uneven ground and through the brush. Wedge wondered about that; he’d thought brush was short, like knee-high, but this was shoulder-high, head-high, taller in places. He watched it go by with interest, glad enough to be riding though he’d rather have not been there at all; he’d never been anywhere so overgrown, so wild, so ... so planet-like. He didn’t even want to guess what lived in the trees beyond this brush. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t be over the side of the transport in a heartbeat if he got the chance, but considering that he was cuffed and between two watchful Imps, that chance was hardly likely to come up.
Something caught Wedge’s eye, something dark moving through the brush. One of the lizards the Imp major had mentioned, perhaps. Wild animals were something else Wedge had no experience with.
Suddenly, the transport slewed around, feeling out of control. Wedge caught his balance and looked at the driver, just like most of them in the car were doing. He was slumped over, something sticking out of his throat. An arrow? Wedge had never seen one except in holofilms, but he thought that was what it was. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the dark shadows in the brush and realized what was happening. Across the floor of the transport an Imp was aiming his force rifle at the attackers; Wedge, without conscious thought, launched himself at the soldier and knocked him sprawling over the edge of the vehicle. He lost his own balance in the doing, though, and the last thing he saw was another soldier swinging a rifle butt at his head...
When Wedge came to, head aching and a painful strain in his shoulders, the first thing he saw was two aliens, crouched on the ground and paying much more attention to what looked like a dice game than to him. He hadn’t gotten a good look earlier, but he figured these were the ones who had jumped the Imps. That meant he was predisposed to like them, but he knew the reverse didn’t necessarily hold true. Of course, he wasn’t dead yet, and that was usually a good sign. On the other hand, he was tied to something, and that usually wasn’t.
He leaned back carefully, easing the strain, and looked at the aliens, trying not to draw their attention away from their pastime. He didn’t recognize their species at all. They had to be what the Imp officer had referred to as “the lizards”, although at the time Wedge had thought he meant animals of some sort. But these two were clearly reptilian, bipeds with balancing tails and slender, almost delicate, hands; forward-facing eyes of bright yellow; no visible ears; and plenty of sharp-looking teeth in their long jaws. One of them had a crest of iridescent skin draping from his skull over his shoulders (or hers), the other didn’t, though her (his?) body was covered in traceries and shadings of greens, blues, and whites, while the other was a more sedate olive. They weren’t wearing clothes, but they were wearing knives, bags, and pouches on leather straps, and their slender lower legs-they stood on the balls and toes of their feet-were cross-tied with narrow straps to which feathers had been attached. Yes, they were definitely people.
Which might not be so good for the home team, all things considered, he reflected as he tested his bonds. They felt like still more leather straps. Low tech, but they got the job done. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Oops. The green one whipped his head around to look at him. Forward facing those eyes might be, but their peripheral vision must be pretty good. Green stared at him for a moment, and then said something to the other one, who moved her slim shoulders in what might have been a shrug, or a nod for that matter, and scooped up the dice. She dropped them into a pouch and laced it up with agile, slender fingers, and then picked up a bow and a quiver full of arrows, which she slung across one shoulder and belted across her torso under the other arm. Low-tech, Wedge reminded himself, didn't necessarily mean primitive. Or stupid. Green meanwhile was reaching for a spear lying on the ground. They both stood up, moving in different directions with a swift, head-bobbing gait. Green came at Wedge, the other disappeared into the brush.
The alien came to a halt about a meter away, cocking his head and then turning it as if getting several different angles of view were important to understand what he was seeing. His nostrils flared, and his jaws opened a little, showing the edges of his teeth as he sucked in air as though tasting it. He wasn’t threatening though; he grounded the spear butt-down on the grass. He seemed more curious than anything else. Wedge breathed a little easier and took a closer look himself.
Green stood about as tall as Wedge, though he undoubtedly massed twice as much. His hands were three-fingered, with an opposable thumb, and blunt claws which were, Wedge realized, painted with lines of black and red. The claws on his toes were unpainted and much longer, and halfway up his lower leg the cross-strapping opened around a curved and very sharp looking claw that was probably a formidable weapon in its own right. A few beads were strung on the narrow leg straps as well as the long, brightly colored feathers that trembled constantly in eye-catching reaction to breeze and movement. His yellow eyes had long, narrow pupils and an unblinking stare, and Wedge couldn’t even guess what he was thinking.
Suddenly the alien pounced forward, leading with his feet and swinging his tail to one side. Wedge’s reaction was instinctive and futile and slammed his head into the tree he was tied to. The alien landing sitting on his whole feet and dropped his tail across Wedge’s legs, pinning them quite effectively. His crest spread, stiffening in a fan around his head and pulsing crimson, and he hissed. This wasn’t how Wedge had planned to die, but he wasn’t sure what he could do about it. He didn’t take his eyes off the alien’s; if he was going down, he was going down facing it.
Green reached out with his empty hand (he still held his spear) and slid his fingers inside Wedge’s shirt. He took hold of the gold chain around Wedge’s neck, on which Mrendy’s ring was threaded, and tugged lightly, hissing something as he did.
“No,” said Wedge, jerking his head sharply to the side and pulling the chain through the alien’s light grasp. “No way.”
Green gave an open-jawed hiss, reaching again for the chain.
Wedge dropped his chin and glared back. “You want it, you can take it,” he said, “but I’m not giving it to you.” He wondered at his own audacity, and then, as the alien stared but didn’t move, he realized where it had come from: they hadn’t stripped it off him, the way they had his weapons. Green must need him to give it up. He’d figured that out before he’d understood it. Of course, he didn’t know whether that applied if he was dead. But although Green hissed again, he didn’t make any other moves.
Then somebody else hissed, a hiss with a yowl in it, and Green, who at this close range filled Wedge’s field of vision, reacted, turning his head, his crest fading and starting to droop. Before he could get all the way turned around, however, a tail, almost black, slammed into the side of his head and knocked him sprawling. Half a dozen other aliens had arrived, led by the smaller one who’d been dicing with Green. In front, finishing a pivot-turn to face Wedge, was a big dark one, whose leather straps were nearly covered in beads and feathers and whose claws gleamed white. Four of the others were also some shade of dark green, none as light as Green or as dark as the one who’d downed him; the remaining one, also smaller, was the same mottling of brighter colors as Green’s partner, though this one, too, was wearing a lot of bead- and feather-work. The leaders had arrived, Wedge surmised.
Green got to his feet and moved away, his crest very dull and limp. He was ignored by the others as the brighter of the leaders approached Wedge, who held himself still. Her (he was pretty sure now) hands were empty, her claws painted a bright blue. She crouched down, reached out, and delicately tucked the gold chain back inside his shirt. She then fingered the shirt, cocking and recocking her head, moved her fingers to his hair, and then touched his right boot, rubbing the brown leather as though wondering if the color would come off. She spoke then, a clear liquid trill more birdlike than Wedge was expecting, and patted him gently. Then she pulled out a knife and sliced through the straps binding him to the tree. Backing away, she gestured to the others.
Wedge got to his feet, carefully but without hesitation. He pulled the straps loose from his wrists. Now he hesitated, because all of them were staring at his hands, waiting for him to do something, and he didn’t know what. He had three options: drop the straps, hand them over, or keep them. She hadn’t taken them, just like Green hadn’t taken the gold... He was guessing the straps were valuable, especially since she had cut them right at the knot. He shrugged to himself: they’d killed Imps, and they hadn’t killed him... what the hell. He held the straps out to Blueclaws. She took them with another liquid line of song and a featherlight touch of her hand against his.
They all seemed to relax then, tails lowering and twitching, and a few of them murmured to each other. Blueclaws tucked the straps carefully away in a pouch, and then reached towards Wedge and turned the gesture into an obvious beckon. Wedge only paused a minute; true, what he really needed was to figure out where the Imps had taken Leia and then how to get there, but at the moment he didn’t even know where he was. And he wasn’t armed, either. So he might as well go along.
As it happened, she only wanted him to come over to the edge of the clearing. He checked abruptly at the sight of a dead Imperial officer-Torkyn. That answered a few questions, and raised a few more. Torkyn was rather bloodily dead; Wedge wondered how many casualties the aliens had taken.
Blueclaws paused by the officer’s body and then gestured back and forth between it and Wedge. Suddenly her earlier actions made sense; certainly his Corellian clothes bore no resemblance to an Imperial uniform, in cut or color, even his boots were different. And his hair was far too long for the Imperial military. He toed the body and made a gesture of repudiation towards it, hoping that if ‘come here’ was similar enough for him to guess it, so, too, would ‘not mine’ be recognizable to her.
It seemed to be, as she echoed the gesture. She then turned and gestured toward one of the other green ones. He, reluctantly it seemed, pulled a blaster off one of his belts and handed it to Wedge. He took it eagerly; it was his own and the charge indicator glowed full. Another one returned his holster, the belt neatly wrapped around it. The big dark one held out a blaster to compare it. Wedge guessed it was Torkyn’s sidearm, standard Imperial issue and very different from the lightly made Pechora. He buckled it on and tied it down, glad he didn’t favor a BlasTech like most of his compatriots, including Booster. Big-Dark shoved his blaster back into one of his belts and said something to his followers, one of whom grabbed Torkyn’s body and disappeared into the trees with it. Wedge reminded himself not to ask about the menu if he was invited for dinner.
Big-Dark then turned back to Wedge and trilled something long and, unfortunately, completely incomprehensible at him.
Wedge shook his head. “Sorry, sir,” he said, the honorific a mix between natural respect for his position and caution in case they understood Basic the way so many other aliens did, “I don’t understand a single word.”
But Big-Dark apparently didn’t understand him, either. He stared at Wedge unblinkingly. Just as the young Corellian was wishing for either some decipherable emotional expressions on their faces or a trained diplomat-don’t worry about Leia, worry about the next step-and noticing that the previously helpful Blueclaws and the other female had vanished, Big-Dark’s tail starting slashing back and forth.
Before Wedge could do more than notice it, the alien did, too, and, lifting one foot almost jerkily, he stepped heavily on the tip to hold it still. “Whatever you think that’s betraying,” Wedge said ruefully, “your secret’s safe with me...”
Big-Dark spoke again, no more intelligibly than before, and Wedge shook his head, holding his hands out in front of him. He wished Torkyn’s corpse was still there, he might have figured out a way to get them to point him at the compound.
One of the others stepped forward, head held low and still rather than bobbing. Wedge was a little surprised that it was Green, but he realized none of the others, even Big-Dark, had seemed to pay any attention to the light-colored alien after he’d been disciplined... damn, Wedge thought. I bet he’s a kid. His own father had been like that: whack him (though only figuratively, in Grey’s case) and then it was done with; forget it and move on. Smallest, lightest, least decorated, Green was probably an unruly teenager. Or, of course, on the verge of dying of old age and so senile nobody pays him any mind at all, he reined in his imagination. Or just short and incompetent.
But Green stood in front of Wedge and reached out one of his slender hands, one finger pointing at Wedge. Then he flattened his hand out and, crouching, held it almost on the grass, parallel with the ground. Watching Wedge, he raised his hand slowly in a vertical line, and then, suddenly, turned it on its side and swooped it away in a great curve, making a harsh sound as he did.
Wedge ran his hand through his hair in frustration, finding, and immediately wishing he hadn’t, the sore spot where the rifle butt had made contact. For some reason that motion had stirred a ghost of recognition in him. He felt like he ought to know what the alien meant by it. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I don’t understand.”
Green hissed slightly, but it seemed self-directed. He brought his hand sweeping around again, but this time he jabbed it through the air in short, savage jerks, making a staccato noise. Once again Wedge watched, on the edge of knowing, and then Green flung up his head and pointed at Wedge’s blaster. “Kheeeeeeee,” he said, pointing at the blaster again, and then at his hand, which he raised over his head and shook, pointing his claws down at himself. “Kheeeeeeee,” he said again, and then clutched his throat theatrically and mimed falling.
“Dead stars!” Wedge swore at himself. “A ship! Damn it, of course. A ship. Yes,” he said, arcing his own hands through the air and giving the aliens the sound of atmospheric engines that he’d perfected as a child, interrupted by the sound of laser cannons. Two of them took a step back, and then they all slapped the ground with their tails, except Green, who repeated the motion with his own hands, and tried for the same sound.
Big-Dark interrupted with a trill that sounded preemptory.
Green turned his head back to Wedge and pointed at him again, and then made a short hand motion for a ship.
“Do I have a ship?” Wedge guessed. “Not here, fellas, sorry.” He held his hands up emptily.
Green made the short, self-directed hiss again and paused, thinking. He touched Wedge’s hand lightly, pushing it a little and making the ship noise, and then flicked it away. Immediately, he mimed his own ship again-his own ship? Wedge’s attention sharpened. Green gestured at Wedge, and then at his own hand and looked expectantly.
“I’m not quite there,” said Wedge, gesturing empty-handed again.
Green pointed at him, and then held his hand out, middle finger bent back and outer two pointing down, and rested it on his ship-hand. Wedge stared, and then he realized: legs... and tail. It was a person on the ship... oh, yes. Oh, yes...
He held out his own hand in the two-fingered ‘person’ that every human recognized, and, to make it clear, touched it and his chest several times in succession with his other hand. Then he made a ship of that one, and put his ‘person’ on it, and dropped the ship out from under himself. Reaching out, he touched Green’s ship-hand and gestured between the alien and the hand. Swallowing hard, he carefully put his ‘person’ onto the alien’s ‘ship’ and then clasped it lightly. “Oh, yeah,” he said, for what it was worth, “if you have a ship, I’m your pilot. Oh, yes.”
Big-Dark took one immense stride forward and touched their linked hands, and then said something. The other three joined in-the phrase ‘a parliament of birds’ drifted through Wedge’s mind from somewhere-and he and Green stood and waited. The difference, of course, was that Green understood what they were talking about. Wedge noticed that Green was standing on the tip of his tail now.
Finally, Big-Dark seemed to convince the others. Their reptilian faces had no expressions, at least none Wedge could read, but their body language was expressive; not that he was really sure he knew just what was being expressed, of course. But two of them seemed truly convinced while one seemed to be going along because the others were. And Green was practically dancing with excitement as Big-Dark gestured to Wedge, ‘come along.’
Again Wedge figured he might as well go along, the more so because now he was armed, and by them. It seemed a safe bet that they hadn’t untied him and returned his blaster just to make killing him more interesting. And surely Green’s little charade was to a purpose other than amusement. Although, Wedge cautioned himself, you don’t really know what that was about. Maybe he just wanted to know if you were a pilot, if you could fly the Imps’ ships if you got one. It doesn’t mean he has one for you.
They walked for a couple of hours through the trees. Surprisingly to Wedge, there was little if any growth in the dimness under the branches, but the trees grew pretty thickly together. The aliens-natives, Wedge corrected himself, he was the alien here-seemed able to walk forever, their head-bobbing gait, awkward as it looked, covering the ground a lot more quickly than Wedge could, even trotting. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to mind stop-and-start travel; they’d get almost out of sight and then stand around chattering to each other, tails whipping, until he caught up, and then start off again. Wedge couldn’t figure out a gesture for ‘how much further?’ so he just kept going, though he reverted to a walk after about twenty minutes. Every now and then he found himself brought to a standstill by something: a brilliant lizard-like flying creature in shades of orange and crimson, or flowers as big as his head, or-just once, thank Sathembi-a mottled serpent that looked big enough to handle Green with ease and that raised its flat head and stared with yellow eyes eerily like Wedge’s guides’. The whole place was unnaturally alive.
Just when Wedge was thinking about figuring out a way to ask for a rest, they stopped on their own, standing silent and still. When Wedge caught up to them, Big-Dark said something short and pointed to their left. Wedge looked into the trees and raised an eyebrow. That looked like ... couldn’t be ... he walked closer. It was a field storage shed, a large one, lightweight waterproof skin stretched over a skeleton of metal poles. There was no way that was native to this planet, but it didn’t look like Imperial issue, either. Wedge turned back to the natives, who hadn’t moved.
Big-Dark, his tail held out stiffly behind him and his head canted at a sharp angle, simply stared at Wedge. The others did likewise. When the Corellian started back in their direction, they hissed but otherwise didn’t move, except for Big-Dark. The leader raised his hands and gestured sharply at Wedge. Go, go on, go in. It was unmistakable.
Wedge looked over his shoulder at the shed, and then back at the natives. Big-Dark gestured again, his crest stiffening and turning so dark a red it was sullen. They weren’t coming a step closer, that was clear. Well, Wedge thought, whatever it is, they sure want me to see it... What the hell. He turned around and headed for the shed, circling it to look for the entrance. He saw some markings on the fabric around the corner and paused to look at them; they were like nothing he’d ever seen before, none of the standard Trade or Imperial alphabets. He wondered if maybe he’d stumbled into some retro group, some low-tech cult or even a game, if maybe this planet actually had the ability to build a shed like this, move it into the forest ... put a ship in it? He quickened his pace.
When he found the entrance, he drew his Pechora and edged the door opened just enough to slip inside. Where he found himself standing and staring, unable for a minute to move at all.
There was indeed a ship in the shed. Not a big one, not one native to this world and these people, but a deep-space capable ship
And it was a ship he knew.
It was an Incom T-65, commonly called an X-Wing, hyperdrive-equipped, four laser cannons, proton torpedoes... Wedge knew its specs by heart, even though he’d never laid his eyes on one before arriving on Dantooine, let alone his hands. Still hadn’t touched one, for that matter.
But it was a T-65 unlike any he’d ever seen before. Instead of standard white and grey, with squadron-color piping, this one was black. More than black, somehow, a darkness that seemed to swallow the light, a flat absence of color with no brightness, no reflections, no shine to it. It almost felt like it was a hole in the air rather than a tangible object, except for its detailing. Iridescent purple, magenta, and teal, irresistibly reminding him of Nirago, dazzled even in the dimness of the shed.
“Living stars,” he said, finally. Even to him his voice sounded hushed. He holstered the Pechora and walked toward the X-Wing, his hand held in front of him almost reverently. He didn’t think he’d ever seen anything so beautiful, so attractive, in his entire life. He’d never thought of himself as a fighter pilot, a snub jock as they were usually called, but he felt the desire for this ship like hunger, deep inside him.
He touched it gently, running the tips of his fingers along the cool black surface. But his native caution was reasserting itself and he resisted the impulse to open the hatch and just jump in. Instead, he began a walkaround, as if for a pre-flight inspection, noting every detail. Amazingly, the fighter looked to be in excellent condition. It was clean, just a slight film of dust, as though it had only been there a day or so. That puzzled him until he noticed the three-toed tracks on the much more dusty floor. They were smaller, more slender than the ones Big-Dark and company had left in the forest, and Wedge guessed that the females must have not been afraid to come in, even though the males were. Or maybe afraid wasn’t exactly the right word, maybe it was just forbidden or maybe he really had stumbled onto a group of technophobes.
He hoisted himself up onto one of the foils to inspect the engines and weapons. There was plenty of fuel, but it wasn’t full up, and there were only two torpedoes left. One of the laser cannons, the upper port, had sustained enough damage that Wedge didn’t think it would fire. And now that he was looking for it, there was other evidence of damage: a few faint burn marks in that incredible black paint job, more detectable by feel than sight; breaks in the fluid lines of the detailing; a slight unevenness in the surface. Whoever’d brought this T-65 here had fought someone along the way.
Whoever... he’d head the rumors about Incom, of course. They’d lost their Imperial Navy contract nearly a decade ago, when the decision was made to go to the faster, non-hyperdrive TIE fighters produced by Sienar Fleet Systems. Incom produced other ships, of course, from the T-16 skimmer and T-31 backsystem runabout to the T-84 ground attack vessel still carried in Imperial inventory, but the T-65 had always been their bread and butter. And they still produced and sold them, to Planetary Guards was the official line but not many PGs need hyperdrive. Oh, sure, Incom said they were used by Sector-spanning governments, but the word was that Incom sold T-65s to anybody with cash in hand. Certainly they sold them to the Rebels, the X-Wings were the mainstay of that fighter force, although Incom always claimed the Rebels must be buying through go-betweens or straw companies. Right. But the most heatedly denied rumor was that Incom sold to aliens from outside the Empire.
Maybe they do, Wedge thought, looking at the magenta line of what almost had to be lettering along the edge of the starboard foil. He could read a half dozen alien scripts well, recognize four times that many, but this was like nothing he’d ever seen before. Of course, he reflected as he dropped back to the floor, the galaxy was full of things he’d never seen before. Sith, this planet’s full of things I’ve never seen before, come to that.
And none of this was making it any easier to decide what to do, no choices were being ruled out. Still, Wedge mistrusted his desire to climb into the X-Wing. For one thing, it must belong to somebody. And for another, he’d never flown one before. He’d probably kill himself, which wouldn’t do anybody any good. But, on the other hand, if he could figure it out, he could probably find Leia. And the Wings of Organa. And even if he couldn’t find that ship, he could get offworld in a T-65, offworld and to somewhere where he could figure out how to get back to Dantooine. And if he couldn’t find Leia, back to people who could. Or at least would know how to go about looking for her.
Which meant, of course, that his decision was made: he had to try to fly the thing, no matter how treacherous they were to learn. But Wedge rather respected that quality in a ship, because it usually really meant high performance and delicate controls and instantaneous responses. If it was easy to fly, if anybody could drive it, and then it didn’t have much to give. Standing there, looking at the iridescent vessel, Wedge realized that he’d always wanted to pilot a fighter, always wanted that little extra. And, he admitted, the cannons were a big plus...
Of course, he wasn’t going to get very far without a helmet. All of a T-65’s systems fed into helmet receivers. A flight suit wouldn’t hurt, either; it got pretty cold with only a thin sheet of plex and a magcon field between you and space. Maybe Stardogs could dance between the stars, but people needed air and warmth out there. Wedge looked around the shed but didn’t see anything useful, so he shrugged and pulled himself back up onto the foil to look into the cockpit.
There was a suit there; he could see it and the helmet resting on top of it only because the seat itself was a soft teal in color. The gear was the dead black of the paint on the fighter, almost Imperial but without any of the sheen that marked the Navy’s equipment. He didn’t waste any time wondering if it would fit, or what he’d do if it didn’t, he just popped the latches on that side and scrambled over the hatch to get the starboard ones. Then, since that was after all the only crucial point, before he did anything else he reached down and toggled on the systems power-up switch.
Under his hands he could feel the T-65 come to life. A light tremor, a slight warmth, a faint glow from the instruments: he released a breath he hadn’t known he was holding and reached for the helmet. Lines in teal and magenta along the polarizing faceplate showed up as he turned it around. The faint sound of comms crackle proved the linkage circuitry was intact inside the shell. It had been made for a human, or someone with a human-shaped head, which made things a lot easier. He could, of course, almost have counted on that. Almost. You couldn’t be much taller or much shorter or much deviant in any way from the human norm and still fit inside a T-65. Still, many beings who were four to six feet tall had weirdly shaped heads. But this helmet fit snugly, lightweight and comfortable.
He broke off to go and push the main doors of the shed open. They stuck, clearly hadn’t been opened in a long time, and he had to put his back to the left-hand one and push with all his strength to make enough space to get the fighter out. Big-Dark and the others were nowhere in sight, even when he walked around the building. He was sorry he hadn’t come back out immediately and thanked them, he felt ungracious and a bad representative of his people. Mrendy wouldn’t have been happy with him. He stood under the trees for a few minutes, thinking they might show up, but they didn’t. Finally, he went back inside and started looking ahead rather than back.
The helmet might have fit, but the flight suit was a different story; its owner had been half a foot taller than Wedge and much, much bulkier. It could have been worse, he reflected as he pulled it on. Whoever could have been short and skinny. Really short and skinny, he thought, laughing at himself as he fastened the suit up. He couldn’t join the sleeve to the gloves (four digits instead of five, but fat ones; he could get his little and ring finger into one together), because if he shoved the sleeves up far enough then his arms were hampered; he had to roll the cuffs up instead. But he didn’t think his hands would get too cold, there was enough material there after all. He was glad, when he was done, that there was neither a mirror nor an audience, he expected he looked like a clown. But after he closed up all the tabs and pulled all the lacings and ties as tight as they’d go, he thought he could get by.
He eased himself into the seat and pulled on the helmet. He switched on the comms, and a sudden display of graphics and figures across the faceplate startled him. Suddenly, he had a meaning for the term ‘heads up display’ that he hadn’t before: not just something you could see without looking down, but something that put your head up... He found the toggle that turned the display into Basic, but that didn’t help much. How in seven sectors did anybody fight with that in their face, he wondered. But they did, so he could. He sat there for a couple of minutes, fighting with it, and then, just like that, found the way. The display didn’t vanish, but he could see through it, and just as quickly readjust his depth of focus to read it when he wanted. This is gonna work, Antilles, he thought. And felt himself smiling like he hadn’t in a long time.
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