Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Star Wars - X-Wing - Krytos Trap

Michael A. Stackpole





  CAPTAIN Tvcno CELCHU (human male from Alderaan)

  CAPTAIN ARIL NUNB (human male from Sullust)

  LIEUTENANT CORRAN HORN (human male from CoreIlia)

  LIEUTENANT PASH CRACKEN (human male from


  OORYL QRYGG (Gand male from Gand)

  NAWARA VEN (Twi'lek male from Ryloth)

  RHYSATI YNR (human female from Bespin)

  ERIS DLARIT (human female from Thyferra)

  GAVIN DARKLIGHTER (human male frons Tatooine)

  RIV SHIEL (Shistavanen male from Uvena III)

  ASYR SEI'LAR (Bothan female from Bothawui)

  INYRI FORGE (human female from Kessel)

  M-3PO (Emtrey; protocol and regulations druid)

  WHISTLER (Corran's R2 astromech)

  MYNOCK (Wedge's R5 astromech)




  (Mon Calamari male from Mon


  GENERAL AIREN CRACKEN (buman male from Contruum)

  IELLA WESSIRI (human female from CoreUia)

  WINTER (human female from Alderaan)



  FLIRY VORRU (human male from CoreIlia)

  Dmic WESSIR1 (human male from CoreIlia)

  BORSK FEY'LYA (Bothan male from Bothawui)

  HALLA ETrYK (human female from Alderaan)

  QLAERN HIRV (Vratix from Thyferra)


  MIRAX TERR1K (human female from CoreIlia)

  LIAT TSAYV (Sullustan male from SullusO



  (human female from Coruscant)



  GENERAL Evm DERRICOTE (human male from Kalla)

  Commander Wedge Antilles would have preferred the cere-

  mony to be private. Rogue Squadron had come to mourn the

  passing of one of its own on the week anniversary of his

  death. Wedge wanted the gathering to be small and intimate,

  with Corran Horn's friends all being able to share remem-

  brances of him, but that was not possible. Corran's death

  had come during the liberation of Coruscant. That made him

  a hero from a company of heroes, and while a small memo-

  rial might have been what Corran himself would have

  wanted, it was not heroic enough for a figure of his posthu-

  mous stature.

  Even though Wedge had known things would not go

  quite the way he wanted, he had not anticipated how out of

  control they would get when he requested permission to hold

  the ceremony. He had expected a number of dignitaries

  would come to the pseudogranite barrow that marked where

  Corran had died when a building collapsed on top of him.

  He even anticipated people lining the balconies and walk-

  ways of nearby towers. At the very Worst he imagined people

  might gawk from the beds of hovertrucks.

  His imagination paled beside that exercised by the bu-

  reaucrats who organized the memorial service. They took a


  ceremony based on heartfelt grief and made it into the focal

  point of mourning for the entire New Republic. Corran

  Horn was a hero--this they proclaimed loudly--but he was

  also a victim. As such he represented all the victims of the

  Empire. It didn't matter to them that Corran would have

  rejected being labeled a victim. He had been transformed

  into a symbol--a symbol the New Republic needed badly.

  Rogue Squadron likewise underwent iconization. The

  unit's pilots had always worn orange flightsuits in the past,

  or, as supplies became harder and harder to find, whatever

  had been handy. Corran's flightsuit had been green, black,

  and grey, since he'd brought it with him from the Corellian

  Security Force. In homage to him, that color scheme was

  used to create new uniforms for the squadron evergreen

  overall, with dark grey flank panels, black sleeves, leg stripes,

  and trim. On the left sleeve and breast rode the Rogue

  Squadron crest. It had also appeared on the evergreen

  hawkbilled caps designed by a Kuati, but Wedge had vetoed

  their addition to the uniform.

  The makeup of the Squadron had also been adjusted.

  Asyr Sei'lar, a Bothan pilot, and Inyri Forge, the sister of a

  dead squadron member, had both been added to the squad-

  ron. Wedge would have gladly welcomed them, and they had

  been crucial to the success of the mission to liberate Corus-

  cant, but they had been pressed upon him for political rea-

  sons. Likewise, Portha, a Trandoshan, had been made a

  member of the squadron despite his inability to fly. He was

  attached to the unit as part of a previously nonexistent secu-

  rity detail. Each of them was appointed by bureaucrats as a

  reward to various constituencies in the New Republic, and

  Wedge hated their objectification.

  The ceremony grew out of all proportion until special

  grandstands had to be grafted to the nearby buildings and

  color-coded for the various levels of access people were to be

  accorded. Holocams had been stationed at various positions

  so the ceremony could be recorded and replayed on countless

  worlds. Despite the very real fears about contracting the

  highly contagious Krytos virus, the stands were packed to


  He looked up from his position on the reviewing stand

  and out at Rogue Squadron. His people were bearing up well

  despite the bright sunlight and unseasonably warm weather.

  The recent rains had raised the general level of humidity until

  clothing clung and the very air lay like a smothering blanket

  over everyone. The thick air seemed to deaden sounds and

  suppress emotions, and Wedge was tempted to allow himself

  to imagine that Coruscant somehow also mourned Corran's


  In addition to the members of Rogue Squadron, Cor

  ran's other friends stood on the platform nearest the barrow.

  Iella Wessiri, a slender, brown-haired woman who had been

  Corran's CorSec partner, stood next to Mirax Terrik. De-

  spite being the daughter of a notorious Corellian smuggler,

  Mirax had managed to become friends with Corran. Mirax,

  who had known Wedge since they had both been kids, had

  tearfully confided in him that she and Corran had planned to

  celebrate the liberation of Coruscant together. He could see

  she'd fallen hard for Corran, and the lifeless expression on

  her face made his heart ache.

  The only one who is missing is Tycbo. Wedge frowned.

  Captain Tycho Celchu was a long-standing member of

  Rogue Squadron who had served as the squadron's executive

  officer. He'd surreptitiously joined the mission to Cor

  at Wedge's request and had been instrumental in bringing the

  planet's defenses down. His action was the latest in a string

  of heroic missions Tycho had carried off during his Rebel


  Unfortunately, Alliance Intelligence had developed evi-

  dence that indicated Tycho was working for the Empire.

  They blamed him directly not only for Corran's death, but

  for the death of Bror Jace, another Rogue Squadron pilot

  who had died early on in the Coruscant campaign. Wedge

  had not been fully apprised of what the evidence was that

  they had against Tycho, but he did not doubt the man's inno-

  cence for a second. Still, his innocence might mean nothing

  in the long run.

  In spite of the liberation, Coruscant was not a pleasant

  or stable world. A hideous epidemicrathe Krytos virus--was

  ravaging the non-human population of the planet. It had

  struck at the non-humans in the Rebellion and was hard

  enough on some species that even coming down to the planet

  was an act of extreme bravery. Bacta, as usual, could cure

  the virus, but the Rebellion's entire store of bacta was insuffi-

  cient to cure everyone. This resulted in panic, and resentment

  against humans for their apparent immunity to the disease.

  The memorial service had become an important event

  because Coruscant's population needed something to unite

  them and to get their minds off their suffering, even if only

  for a moment. The fact that Rogue Squadron had humans

  and non-humans working together in it showed the strength

  of unity that had allowed the Rebellion to prevail. Non-

  humans coming together along with dignitaries from various

  other worlds to mourn a dead human acknowledged the debt

  the Rebels owed humans. Speakers devoted themselves to

  exhorting their fellows to labor together in building a future

  that would justify the sacrifices made by Corran and others.

  Their words raised things to a philosophical or metaphysical

  level meant to soothe away the anxieties and worries of the


  Those were noble messages, to be certain, but Wedge felt

  they were not the right messages for Corran. He tugged on

  the sleeves of his uniform jacket as a Bothan protocol subal-

  tern waved him forward. Wedge stepped up to the podium

  and wanted to lean heavily upon it. Years of fighting and

  saying good-bye to friends and comrades weighed him

  down--but he refused to give in to fatigue. He let his pride in

  the squadron and his friendship with Corran keep him up-


  He looked around at the crowd, then focused on the

  mound of pseudogranite rubble before him. "Corran Horn

  does not rest easy in that grave." Wedge paused for a mo-

  ment, and then another, letting the silence remind everyone

  of the true purpose of the ceremony. "Corran Horn was

  never at ease except when he was fighting. He does not rest

  easy now because there is much fighting yet to be done. We

  have taken Coruscant, but anyone who assumes that means

  the Empire is dead is as mistaken as Grand Moff Tarkin was

  in his belief that Alderaan's destruction would somehow

  cripple the Rebellion."

  Wedge brought his head up. "Corran Horn was not a

  man who gave up, no matter what the odds. More than once

  he took upon himself the responsibility of dealing with a

  threat to the squadron and to the Rebellion. Heedless of his

  own safety, he engaged overwhelming forces and by sheer

  dint of will and spirit and courage he won through. Even

  here, on Coruscant, he flew alone into the heart of a storm

  that was ravag ing a planet and risked his life so this world

  would be free. He did not fail, because he would not let

  himself fail.

  "Each of us who knew him has, in our hearts, dozens

  and dozens of examples of his bravery or his concern for

  others, or his ability to see where he was wrong and correct

  himself. He was not a perfect man, but he was a man who

  sought to be the best he could be. And while he took pride in

  being very good, he didn't waste energy in displays of ram-

  pant egotism. He just picked out new goals and drove him-

  self forward toward them."

  Wedge slowly nodded toward the rubble pile. "Corran is

  now gone. The burdens he bore have been laid down. The

  responsibilities he shouldered have been abandoned. The ex-

  ample he set is no more. His loss is tragic, but the greater

  tragedy would be letting him be remembered as a faceless

  hero mouldering in this cairn. He was a fighter, as all of us

  should be. The things he took upon himself might be enough

  to crush down any one person, but we all can accept a por-

  tion of that responsibility and bear it together. Others have

  talked about building a future that would honor Corran and

  the others who have died fighting the Empire, but the fact is

  that there's fighting yet to be done before the building can


  "We have to fight the impatience with the pace of

  change that makes us look nostalgically on the days of the

  Empire. Yes, there might have been a bit more food avail-

  able. Yes, power outages might have been fewer. Yes, you

  might have been insulated from the misery of others--but at

  what cost? The security you thought you had froze into an

  icy lump of fear in your gut whenever you saw stormtroopers

  walking in your direction. With the liberation of Coruscant

  that fear can melt, but if you forget it once existed and decide

  things were not so bad under the Emperor, you'll be well on

  your way to inviting it back."

  He opened his hands to take in all those assembled at the

  monument. "You must do what Corran did fight anything

  and everything that would give the Empire comfort or secu-

  rity or a chance to reassert itself. If you trade vigilance for

  complacency, freedom for security, a future without fear for

  comfort; you will be responsible for shaping the galaxy once

  again into a place that demands people like Corran fight,

  always fight and, eventually, fall victim to evil.

  "The choice, ultimately, devolves to you. Corran Horn

  will not rest easy in his grave until there is no more fighting

  to be done. He has done everything he could to fight the

  Empire; now it is up to you to continue his fight. If he is ever

  to know peace, it will only be when we all know peace. And

  that is a goal every one of us knows is well worth fighting


  Wedge stepped back from the podium and steeled him-

  self against the polite applause. Deep down he would have

  hoped his words had been inspiring, but those gathered

  around the memorial were dignitaries and officials from

  worlds throughout the New Republic. They were politicians

  whose goal was to help shape the future others of their num-

  ber spoke about. They wanted stability and order as a foun-

  dation for their constructions. His words, reminding

  everyone that fights were yet to be waged, undercut their

  efforts. They had to applaud because of the situation and

  who he was, but Wedge had no doubt most of them thought

  him a politically naive warrior best suited to being a hero

  who was feted and used in holograph opportunities to sup-

  port this program or that.

  He could only hope that others listening to what he had

  to say would take his message to heart. The politicians re-

  quired stability, and the way they acquired stability was to

  ignore instability or patch it over with some quick fix. The

  citizens of the New Republic would find their politicians as

  distant as the Imperial politicians before them. With their

  new-won freedom, the people would be able to let their lead-

  ers know what they thought, and might be tempted to pro-

  test if things did not move swiftly enough in the direction the

  people wanted.

  A rebellion against the Rebellion would result in anar-

  chy or a return of the Empire. Either would be disaster.

  Fighting for progress and against reactionary forces was the

  only way to guarantee the New Republic would get a chance

  to flourish. Wedge dearly wanted that to happen and hoped

  the politicians would look past their efforts to gather power

  to themselves long enough to take steps to provide real sta-

  bility and a real future.

  Over at the grave site an honor guard raised the squad-

  ron flag, then backed away and saluted. That signaled an end

  to the ceremony, and the visitors began to drift away. A

  cream-furred Bothan with violet eyes crossed to where

  Wedge stood and nodded ahnost graciously. "You were quite

  eloquent, Commander Antilles." Borsk Fey'lya waved a

  hand toward the departing masses. "I have no doubt quite a

  few hearts were stirred by your words."

  Wedge raised an eyebrow. "But not yours, Councilor

  Fey'lya ?"

  The Bothan snoted a clipped laugh. "If I were so easily

  swayed, l could be convinced to back all sorts of nonsense."

  "Like the trial of Tycho Celchu?"

  Fey'lya's fur rippled and rose at the back of his neck.

  "No, I might be convinced that such a trial was not neces-

  sary." He smoothed the fur back down with his right hand.