Disclaimer:  I don't own any of the characters in this story.  They are the creation of George Lucas, Aaron Allston and Michael A. Stackpole.  I'm just borrowing 'em for a moment to vent a little of my own creative energy.  No profit is being made from this story, and no breach of trademark or copyright is intended.  Kirney's recording is the creation of Aaron Allston.

Chapter 1:

You can't look dignified if you're having fun.  Wes' words drove through Myn's alcohol-fogged mind as he walked, tiredly, into his quarters.  At this moment, he looked anything but dignified.

So, he must have been having fun.

The bright, new patch on his shoulder labeling him as a member of Rogue Squadron seemed so much newer than the rest of his uniform.  He decided that he liked it.  He would miss his squadmates on Wraith squadron, but his new team, the Rogues, seemed more, him, somehow.  Like he fit there in a way he had never quite fit with the Wraiths.

He had a message on his console.  He ignored it for the moment, since it almost certainly wasn't anything which required his immediate attention.  Nobody in their right mind seriously expected him to respond tonight anyway.

The massive celebration of the "dissolution" of Wraith Squadron, as well as the defeat of Zsinj would still be going this time tomorrow night.  Wedge also had reason to celebrate.  He'd been allowed to dodge a promotion to General.  Myn had joined them for most of the night, but had politely excused himself.  He needed a moment to reflect on everything that he'd been given in the last few days.

And everything that he'd lost.

Lara.

Three days ago, Lara Nostil, or Gara Petothel, or whatever her real name had been was working alongside Zsinj, she'd been an enemy, but she'd been alive.

Now, she was dead, killed saving Wedge Antilles.

As justice went, it wasn't unpoetic.

If, that is, justice was what you were after.

It had taken Myn a long time to accept that he no longer wanted justice for Talon Squadron.  It had taken him longer to accept that he didn't even want Lara Nostil, a woman he'd come to admire; perhaps even, he had to admit to himself, to love; punished for her role in their slaughter.

Instead, he would honour the sacrifice of Talon Squadron in the only way that mattered: by being worthy of it.

Perhaps, with the death of Gara Petothel, the souls of Talon Squadron had found some peace.  His own, however, had not.  It was as if in the last few days he'd both gained and lost everything that really mattered.

He'd gained his self respect, the respect of his comrades, and a place in life.

But he'd lost Lara.

No matter how many times he turned it over in his mind, he always came back to that.  What does it matter that you've found your place in life if you have nobody to share it with?

He sighed, heavily.  He would find someone, he supposed.  Someone who would add that missing piece to his life.

That knowledge did little to lift the weight on his heart; or to replace the piece that was missing right now.

He looked at the data stream that came with the message on his console.  It had been sent by a woman named Kirney Slane on Corellia.

Do I know anyone named Kirney Slane?

He knew a number of people on Corellia, of course.  He'd grown up there.  But he hadn't been back in many years.

And he was fairly certain the name was foreign to him.

He shrugged, and commanded the console to play the message.

"Hello, Myn."

Myn froze.  He heard the voice before the face really registered on his consciousness.  He hadn't seen her in weeks, but she'd managed to send a single message to him during her time with Zsinj.  He'd heard her voice.  Hell, he heard it every night in the back of his mind before he fell asleep.  Even through the Corellian accent, it was unmistakable.

He quickly scrolled back, trying to find out when the message had been sent.

Yesterday.

Three days after she'd died.

"I'm back on Corellia now, after a few years of knocking around the galaxy."

The woman in the holo was red-haired, not the dark hair he remembered her having.  It hung in a long braid down her right shoulder.  But she herself, the shape of her face, her mannerisms.  It was her.

A few years?  She'd died only a few days before.

His heart was pounding.  You could fake a holo transmission, of course.  The Wraiths had done it on a couple of occasions themselves.  But that didn't feel right.  Why fake a transmission to him from someone he had every reason to hate?  Why change her name?  Why go to all the trouble to go after him?  It wasn't like he was terribly important, or had access to particularly confidential information.  It wasn't as if his getting killed would be a major coup for the empire.

It's her.  It has to be.

"I'll be here, at the address given in the message header, for a few weeks."

The voice sounded… different somehow.  There was something that he'd never heard in her voice.

Hope.

At the same time, there was a sadness on her face which showed that deep down, she didn't honestly expect to see him again.

"Contact me, visit me— do whatever you feel you have to.  I'll accept whatever you decide."

I could say twelve words, and when I was done, the very least you would do is turn away and leave me alone forever.  Her voice from so long ago rang in his mind.  He knew now that she was right, at the time.  In fact she had greatly overestimated the number of words she would have to say.  Four would have been sufficient at the time: "I am Gara Petothel."  At the time, he would likely have attempted to strangle her with his bare hands.

Now that he knew who she was…

He had to see her.  He knew that.

He just didn't know what he would do when he did.

Myn was a little stiffer than usual, Wedge noticed, as he walked briskly into his office the next morning and stood at attention in front of his desk.

"Sir, I'd like to request two week's leave of absence."  He announced as soon as Wedge gestured for him to speak.

"Granted."

"Sir, I would like to take some time to…" He stopped, realizing that his request had been granted.  He'd put together a story as to why he needed to get away for a couple of weeks.  It was pure Hutt-shit, of course, but Myn had figured that it would go over far better than 'I'm going to meet someone who's wanted for high treason.'

"Is there anything more, lieutenant?"  Wedge looked up at him.

"Sir, no.  No, sir."  Myn struggled to gather what was left of his composure around him.

"Very well, dismissed."

Myn, looking somewhat confused spun around and marched towards the door.

"Oh, lieutenant?"

Myn stopped and turned to face his commanding officer, "Sir?"

"Landing on Corellia in your X-wing is bound to attract a little attention.  We have a few Headhunters we use for training.  You can requisition one of those."

"Yes, sir."  Myn nodded, stiffly.

 "Are you qualified to fly one?"

"I haven't since the academy, sir, but I'm sure I can pick it up again."

"I'm sure you can.  We're spread a little thin on missiles, so I can't give you any for a pleasure cruise."

"Understood, sir."

"So, if you run into a Star Destroyer, run.  But a Headhunter will get you through most minor skirmishes."

"Yes, sir."

"And be careful, lieutenant."

"Yes, sir."

"Dismissed."

Myn spun around and again stalked towards the door, allowing it to close behind him.

It wasn't until he had made it a good thirty meters down the hallway when he realized that he had never actually told his commanding officer where he was going.

As he sunk slowly into the astromech socket behind the bubble-canopied cockpit, Clink decided that he had a fondness (if that was the right word) for antiques.

The Z-95t, one of the most recent variants of the Z-95 Headhunter, was still, by his standards, a rather crude device.  Nothing compared to the T-65 X-wings that he'd clocked most of his time in.  But as he interfaced with the computer, he decided that the old, but robust, machine was a much more pleasant conversationalist than Myn's X-wing.  This machine was humbly aware of its obsolescence; whereas Myn's X-wing was thoroughly, and sometimes arrogantly, convinced of its superiority.  The upshot of that was that the Headhunter was willing to learn a few new tricks, while Myn's X-wing seemed bound and determined to remain static.

Scrolling quickly through the coding of the archaic computer, Clink could see at least a half-dozen small optimizations he could do which would rather dramatically increase the performance of the craft.  A few basic manipulations of the way the power was distributed, and a little tweaking here and there, and he could get some rather impressive performance out of this ship.  Nothing on the par with the X-wing, of course, but a definite improvement.

Keeping a starfighter flying, Clink had discovered, was an art of fractions.  Add a fraction here, take off a fraction there.  With a fine touch and a little patience, you could create a result which was far greater than the sum of its fractions.  In his time in Myn's X wing, Clink had found no fewer than ten thousand small adjustments he could make to vastly improve the fighter's performance, but the X-wing wouldn't hear of it.  After all, he was just an astromech, what did he know of operating a starship?

Having a counterpart who was a little more… flexible was a joy.

After having modified the Headhunter's core programming, he set about plotting a course to Corellia.  Myn was busily loading the cargo compartment of the small fightercraft.  He wasn't wearing his flightsuit, or his uniform.  Instead he'd donned a light-colored leather vest, and had a blaster pistol strapped to his right thigh.  At a glance, he appeared to be your standard smuggler or bounty hunter.  One of the thousands of faceless individuals who passed through Corellia every day.  Clink watched, with some surprise, as he tucked his sniper rifle into the cargo compartment.  It didn't seem that it was a weapon Myn was likely to use extensively, but he appeared to want it with him; and he wanted it badly enough to take up a few kilograms of the Headhunter's rather limited cargo room.  Perhaps the pilot simply felt safer having it nearby.

He looked at the course the Headhunter's computer had suggested, and tweaked it a little bit.  It wouldn't speed up their transit much, but Clink prided himself on his attention to detail.

The throwback from the clone wars rocketed from the Mon Remonda's hanger bay into the void of space.  He swung the fighter craft into a few aerobatic maneuvers, refamiliarizing himself with the controls.  The Headhunter seemed faster and more maneuverable than the one he remembered training in.  It was no X-wing, but it would do nicely.  He wasn't expecting much in the way of trouble anyway.  He was just going to visit an old…

Well, what was she, really?  A friend?  A lover?  Both?

Neither?

He supposed he would find out.

He forced himself to relax as the vehicle catapulted itself into hyperspace.