The Fountain
Diana DeRiggs

Hobbie felt awful, but he had to do it. Wes was behaving in a manner rather more intolerable than usual for nearly a month. He would laugh, cry and scream all at once, and then suddenly run off, disappearing for hours or days. Hobbie often found him at their favorite tapcaf, but sitting behind pillars, in the shadows. The quarters they shared were becoming hellish for Hobbie - screams would punctuate the night, or absolute silence. More than once, Wes had crawled in through a window and barely had time to get himself together before morning parades. But unlike the Wes of old, the one always out for a good time, or on the make, this Wes was different. Wes was behaving like he was either haunted, or hunted.

Either way, Hobbie was going to have to let Wedge know about it.

Wedge noted the formality with which Hobbie stood at attention outside of his door. Normally dour-looking, Hobbie looked more mournful and more miserable than usual. He invited Hobbie into the office, and Hobbie's still, formal bearing compelled Wedge to address him by rank.

"Lieutenant?"

"Commander, I regret I have ... observations to report about a member of the squadron," spoke Hobbie, as he returned Wedge's salute.

Wedge was concerned, "Criminal?"

"I don't think so, sir," replied Lieutenant Klivian, "I have observed no criminal activity. But his behavior is inconsistent with what I know about this individual, sir."

Wedge sighed and any pretence of military bearing left him, "Hobbie, sit down. It's about Wes, right?"

"Yes, sir," the miserable-looking officer mumbled.

"I've noticed he's been out of sorts. He hasn't pulled a prank on me in over a month, and come to think of it, he hasn't spoken to me at all in that time, either." Wedge put his elbows on his desk, and his head on his hands. "Hobbie, please sit down. Don't you start acting odd, too."

Hobbie at last took a chair, "Sorry, Wedge. I've been psyching myself up for this for a few days. I feel like I'm telling on Wes. I mean, we're friend, buddies, brothers! You're one of us, too, of course, but I still feel like I'm ratting on him." He let out a long, deep breath. "Okay, thanks, Wedge. I feel better. What do we do?"

Wedge rubbed his eyes, "You'd think he would've been shot down before becoming senile, wouldn't you? I have to call Tycho. Unless you have a reason I shouldn't."

"I thought you would," Hobbie looked more miserable than before, "yeah, call him. But, Wedge, I was thinking that the fewer of us knew ..."

Wedge waved him down, and tapped in a secure comlink sequence that automatically routed through directly to his second-in-command. "I know, that's why Tycho, and him only. I could ask the whole squadron, but let's start with those who have had the privilege to know Lieutenant Janson best."

They barely had time to discuss a few other things when Tycho appeared at the doorway and saluted, "Yub Yub, Commander?"

Hobbie twisted around in his seat, "No, no, no. Tycho, that's not you, that's Wes!"

Tycho took a seat beside Hobbie, "No, it's Lieutenant Kettch, and Wes let him go. A couple of weeks ago, he told me... how did he say it? 'Tycho,' he said, 'for your valor in saving my ass more times than I deserve, I bequeath you the rights and properties of Lieutenant Kettch, with all due responsibilities and privileges, thereof, etc.' It was a touching thing, I'm surprised you weren't there."

Wedge and Hobbie both looked startled. "See?" moaned Hobbie, "He does things like that now, in addition to all the other stuff like hide in closets till morning or rig the refresher so the water runs continuously to drive me crazy or climb up elevator shafts to get to the next floor. He only used to do some of that stuff before, and never more than a couple of times in a row, and always at a target, but now he does it just because. And he does it over and over and over, and he looks wall-eyed and giggles and screeches a lot."

Wedge poured a glass of water from a richly decorated glass and gemstone Thyferran carafe given to him by Mirax Terrik, the woman with whom he had spent his childhood, and who was married to Corran Horn, another member of Rogue Squadron. He handed it to Hobbie, who had broken out into a sweat. Neither Wedge nor Tycho had ever seen Hobbie so agitated.

Tycho started tapping his index finger on Wedge's desk, "It's not a woman?"

Wedge looked thoughtful, "Not necessarily. Wes tends to be kind of free and easy with the women, but then again, I try not to get too involved. I never want to reprimand him for how he treats women unless it's obviously my business. But from what I know, he's generally considerate and charming to them, and not more than a handful have wanted to kill him after the relationship ends."

"He certainly does love their company," said Tycho. He looked over at Hobbie, "Has he been with anyone over in the past month?"

"No!" said Hobbie, more forcefully than ever usual with him, "That's what I mean! He sneaks off, but I don't think he's spending his nights anywhere... special. When he comes back, he's covered in dirt and twigs. He hasn't asked me to leave the quarters, and there's been no normal noises coming from his bedroom at any time. Its either absolutely quiet, or he's screaming."

"Screaming? Shrieking, or just yelling, or what?" asked Wedge.

Hobbie thought about it, "He screams like he could have had something but it didn't work out. Like when he's frustrated, like when his favorite fan-mags are ordered, but they tell him on delivery day that the PX is all out. Or when the woman turns out to be 'not as advertised,' like most of his blind dates. You've heard him. Only its louder."

"'Not as advertised,'" repeated Tycho, "he's maybe in a female situation that's not to his liking?"

"I don't think so, " said Wedge, "it would require him to actually have a preference regarding them, and Wes is just not capable of that. You know his motto: 'so little time, so many women, so many species'?"

"Hobbie, we're going to install a holocamera in your quarters--"

Wedge stopped, because Hobbie had started sobbing, "My life sucks."

***

Within a few days, the holos, combined with security images taken on previous days, had concluded that Wes was indeed roaming around, but analysis found it was periodically -- every few days, he would disappear for the night. When tracked, they discovered he always walked the same route, stopped at the same places, always looked disoriented, always re-injured the same cuts and bruises, and always come back the way he'd gone -- through his bedroom window. Under normal military procedure, a physical was ordered, and extra blood was drawn from him and tested, but showed no signs of known drugs, and no unusual chemical signatures. While missing, he didn't ingest anything, but he did get giddy, and always at the same time and place.

"It's as if he's rehearsing for the part of a madman in a play," wondered Tycho, "or at least was following a script."

Wedge looked up from the scrap of flimsi he was toting up numbers on, "And only on dates whose numbers are divisible by six, which explains that little glitch at the end of last month."

"But he's not normal on any other day, either, right?" queried Tycho.

"Nope. I've considered taking him off the roster, but he's been flying and fighting better than ever. It hasn't affected any other duties either. He even shows up to parades in the dress uniform and doesn't whine." Wedge frowned, "Something ... there's something oddly familiar about this. I've read about this or heard ... something ... is Corran around?"

"No," replied Tycho, "he's off with Luke to develop some training exercises. Why, you think he knows?

"Maybe Mirax. You know, nothing like the Force tingles through me, but --"

There was a loud crashing thud, then banging outside the door. It slid open and Hobbie fell into the room, blood streaming from wounds in his chest and head. Out of the largest wound in his ribs protruded a japor snippet, honed into a rough star shape with needle-like points. Both Wedge and Tycho ran to him and pulled him up. Wedge thumbed his comlink and called for med support. Hobbie was deathly pale.

"I tried to talk to him, and he started throwing these things at me," rasped Hobbie, plucking at the star, "he's possessed, I know it! The Wes I knew would never do this ... he would've punched me, sure. But he shrieked and threw these sissy stars at me!"

"Calm down," ordered Tycho, "you're going into shock."

"And he kept saying not to disrupt him, that its the only way to find Lilja again," babbled the wounded man, "that he needed to find her and the only way was to keep looking when. I told him he can't look when, only where, and he had a hissy fit!"

Tycho and Wedge looked at each other and said, simultaneously, "Ooryl!"

***

The medics had stabilized Hobbie and taken him away for a few days in bacta. The injuries were worse than they looked, involving his lungs and a few other internal organs. Hobbie kept mumbling about how unfair it was the he needed to be dipped when he hadn't even flown in combat this time. It seemed that Hobbie, like some droids, was made to suffer.

Ooryl watched Hobbie's repulsorlift gurney turn a corner down the corridor, out of sight. The Gand tapped his carapace with a clawed finger and entered his CO's small office. "Gand regrets the speed at which he could not come at your call, Commander. I came as quickly as I could."

Wedge gestured for his friend to sit down. "No problem, Ooryl. I need to ask you something, and I need you to keep it absolutely quiet." He paused, knowing Ooryl was reliable and the least likely of his pilots to breach any confidence. "One of the pilots is acting 'strangely,' and we were at a loss to explain why, but we seem to have a clue now. It's a clue that might have much more meaning to you than to anyone else in the squadron."

Ooryls mandibles split into the learned approximation of a human smile, and bowed, "You flatter Ooryl."

"No, Ooryl," said Wedge, soberly, "It's Wes. He beat up Hobbie, and kept saying things about having to look for someone or something when. Not where, but when."

Ooryl looked thoughtful, "This is an unusual way for humans to speak of time. Wes normally never speaks of time, other than noting being late for something. It must have been taught to him."

"Like your smile?"

"Yes, Commander. But there has not been the time to internalize it. Something traumatic happened to embed the idea. I suspect it was a person, of a sort. Perhaps I could go into when to discover who this might be?"

Tycho nodded, "We were hoping you'd offer."

Ooryl casually parted his mandibles again.

***

Hobbie had just been removed from the bacta and was sloughing off the sticky liquid, "Wedge, that means he... time travels?"

"No, it's not like that," replied the commander, "but he might have met someone once, and he's looking for her again. He seems to think he'll find her."

"If the time is right," thought Tycho. "Ooryl explained that something happened to Wes in the recent past - he described it as 'seeing through the mists' -- and though he wasn't explicit about it, he thinks it was some strong, multi-layered experience, probably sexual."

"Here's the rub -- Wes is actually sane. I've had him medicated," Wedge winced at what he had to order done to his old friend, "and I've had a reasonable talk with him. He knows he's behaving like he's insane, though he has no memory of what he did to you, Hobbs--"

"That forgetful bastard," muttered Hobbie.

"And he admits sometimes he feels insane. He's confirmed Ooryl's supposition, in that he saw someone, had incredible sex with her, and she disappeared. And like Ooryl, Wes thinks she'll return, but only when the time is right."

"Makes her sound like some ghoul or something. So you find her and this is all solved. Or check his body for prints and traces," Hobbie tossed the towel aside and was folding himself in a bathrobe.

"Not so simple," replied Tycho, "she, ah ... apparently never touched him."

Hobbie stuck his fingers in his ears and tried to clear them. "Sorry, Tycho. Bacta plunge does this sometimes. Though you said that he had mind-blowing sex, and she never touched him."

"He did," reiterated Wedge, "and he never touched her. Makes you curious, doesn't it?"

***

Wes wondered if he'd ever forget her. She seemed to have seared herself into his memory, so that he could do nothing else but think about her. He tried to recall when he first saw her - in a clearing, not far from the base. He'd been confined to barracks for something or another, and had crept out of his window and rappelled down the side of the building to go to a bar. He'd jogged across the bridge, turned into the gardens, and was stopped by a humming noise.

There, Lilja appeared, standing fully clothed by a fountain. He was struck by the perfectness of her body, and didn't even consider how strange it was to see her there. He stood, stunned by her beauty. She looked over her shoulder and made eye contact with him. She was without fear or embarrassment as she stepped into the sprays and showers of the fountain.

Her confidence and comfort in this situation excited him; confident women always did that to him. He realized he was already smitten with her. He wanted to walk up to her and embrace her perfect body, but he was unable to do anything but stay in the same spot and watch her.

It could only be described as a strip show of the most erotic sort. Her name was Lilja, but Wes couldn't recall how he knew that. Her pale brown eyes never leaving his, she stood as the water seeped up the fabric of her flowing dress. The breeze blew, adhering the dress to her perfect, pearly skin, and he could see she was completely naked beneath. Down the front were what looked like a hundred little buttons, and she slowly and sensuously undid them. As her fingers unhooked the ones by her breasts, her hands roamed inside the dress, each hand slowly rubbing the opposite shoulder. Her head was tilted back, and her eyes closed, and her lips let out a sigh of ecstasy.

Wes shivered - he realized he was very aroused. The pressure in his trousers had built very fast, and he longed to undress, too. But he could only stand and look at her.

He imagined his hands where hers were, moving gently over her small breasts with the large, dark brown nipples. He made believe he was cupping his fingers under each one, and rolling the hardening tips. He wondered what they tasted like, and how she would respond if he bit them, very lightly.

As if responding to his imaginings, she moaned - a smooth, light noise that sent an electric pulse through his body, concentrating on his now throbbing erection. It was so hard that it seemed to grow harder and larger than its normal dimensions. Wes found it painfully delightful.

Lilja continued undoing the buttons, varying her speed, savoring each button, then stopping to rub her softly rounded belly - just as Wes might have imagined the perfect belly, not quite flat, but soft and pliable - feeling the tingle of her fingers. She lightly fluttered over her navel. She brought her fingers to her lips, licked her fingers slowly, and rubbed them around her bellybutton, simulating intercourse with a feature Wes never thought of as sexy before. He only thought of them previously in terms of what they lead to, but this time, he recognized it as a sexual organ on its own. He was dangerously close to losing control ...

The buttons were opened, one at a time, while her body undulated with sexual need and satisfaction at the same time. Wes knew this was the sexiest strip tease he'd ever experienced; but he knew it was no tease. Her acts themselves were the very equivalent of making love. By the time her fingers were probing and finding their way past her mons, Wes felt the familiar roiling of his ejaculate deep in his groin. He was so hard, so turned on, that orgasm was not the usual release it normally was - the pain that accompanied it was sharp and extended. His climax seemed to split his phallus as it burst forth. He hadn't moved, he hadn't so much as touched himself, but his ejaculation was intense and full. His head was ringing and he saw little bursting lights. And still his eyes stayed on her.

She was still in the fountain, covered now only in moonlight and the spraying waters of the sprinkler jets. She smiled at him - a content, happy smile. She put her lips on the tips of her fingers, and blew a kiss toward him that he swore he could feel on his hungry mouth.

And then, she was gone.

He didn't know what else had happened to him, but he finally came to, climbing half-way up the barracks building toward his window. He nearly fell in his shock at finding himself there. But he made it up to his room. As he pulled the rope back up, he wondered if he's had too much to drink. Funny, but he didn't feel drunk. It occurred to him that he hadn't had anything to drink, and hadn't even made it to the tapcaf off base.

But he needed to change his clothes, and knew that something had happened.

He sought her out, tried describing her to some of the other pilots, hoping one of them might know what he was talking about. Maybe he was being too subtle, but no one seemed to have any idea who he might be describing. He was despairing of every finding her again, when nearly a week later, he felt compelled to climb out the window again.

And again, he walked across the bridge and turned toward the fountain. And she was there again. And again, he couldn't make himself speak to her, or get closer to her. She had pale, yellowish blond hair; last time, he thought she was a brown-eyed, dark-haired beauty. And her nipples were a pale pink now - weren't they brown? The questions glimmered only at the edges of his mind, because he found himself staring at her again, as she removed her dress. No buttons this time, but little knotted ribbon ties, with her creamy skin showing through the weaving. She undid the ties and pulled the ribbons slowly, sensually. And again, he managed to orgasm without doing anything more than stare at her.

He tried dreaming of her, but she wouldn't arrive. He eventually couldn't sleep, since he could only elicit her when he was awake. He was becoming afraid to sleep, afraid to lose her.

But nearly a week later, Lilja was there again.

And almost a week after that.

Wes never grew tired or frustrated. Every time was like the first.

He tried, but he couldn't find her when he wanted her. He knew she would call to him, like the sirens of ancient myth. And he would eagerly go, helpless to resist.

***

"It's kind of a strange coincidence to have so many cases within the same area," insisted Hobbie, "and all of the patients are relatively young, male and single. Some have killed themselves. Most have just become insane, and none seem to be able to have sex at all."

Tycho flipped through pages of the report, "Seems like even masturbation is out for these patients, too. So what could disable a large portion of this demographic at once?"

"If it's an illness, it should have affected more than just Wes. I mean, this is a military base - there are plenty of people with the same specs as Wes for it not happen to more people," Wedge was pensive. "Do you suppose he was ... maybe chosen?"

"Ooryl believes this is possible," said the Gand Findsman, "Ooryl has found that Wes is being called, or summoned. This is how he knows when to find this woman. The where is always the same."

"But we've had the comlink transmissions under surveillance, and there's been nothing," sighed Hobbie.

"Ooryl begs your pardon, but there are a variety of electromagnetic devices that can receive messages. The human brain or any number of biochemical systems could be receiving triggers or messages. You recall the case with Delta Source on Coruscant during Grand Admiral Thrawn's campaigns - an organic microphone was used to spy on the senate. Foods or chemical or even electromagnetic fields could be manipulated to change a body's perceptions and output."

Tycho's eyes widened as he came to understand, "We've traced his food, and made sure we all ate what he ate. So that's out. We know he hasn't been drugged. That leaves electronic fields. But shouldn't that affect all of us? Or at least Hobbie, too?"

Hobbie glowered, "My life so sucks."

Wedge looked thoughtful. "What if those situations Wes experienced were like a beacon? You know, the highly unlikely nature of the fantasy or thought is what a scan might be looking for?"

Ooryl nodded, "I recommend continuous brain scans for Janson."

***

The next time the little committee met, Wedge had good news.

"We have confirmation that when Wes thinks of the girl in the fountain, there is an alteration of his brain energy output. Certain frequencies are inhibited, and others increase by ten-fold." Wedge showed the graphed output to the others, "And I have an idea, and it will involve including Corran in this. He's a Jedi, and his family's line, from what I understand, are not telekinetically gifted, but they can create images in the minds of others."

Tycho nodded, "He did it to me while he was away looking for Mirax, back when the Jedi Academy was starting. The Rogues encountered a pirate group, and Corran let me know he was in one of the pirate fighters. I later asked him how he did it, and he said he detected me because he knew me well, could detect how I was thinking. He projected a picture of the ship he was flying, and morphed it into a green X-wing with his call number on it. I was impressed that he could pick out my mind out of the nearly 100 in the immediate area, and could give me such a vivid picture."

"How did it feel?" asked Hobbie.

"What did?"

"How did it feel when he invaded your brain? You know, did it tickle or something?" asked Hobbie again.

"Good question," answered Tycho. There was a slight pause, "It didn't tickle, but I was somewhat aware that I hadn't created the image myself. It felt kind of forced, not a pun. But it was as if I'd tried to climb into my pajamas and found someone else already in my bed who wasn't me. It was a little invasive, I guess, but more subtle. I didn't know it was Corran doing this to me at the time, but I know I didn't come up with the image myself."

Wedge leaned toward him, "Do you think Corran would be able to tell if someone was probing around in Wes's mind?"

Hobbie had his head on the table and had folded his arms over it, "Go ahead, call him. Soon, we'll have the whole squadron in on this. Wes is going to kill me if he ever gets better."

***

Corran Horn had been concentrating on Wes Janson's mind for several hours. It was exhausting work, even knowing the techniques his grandfather's notes had outlined for surveillance of minds. That, and the fact that Janson's mind had been jumping around the whole time. He knew that Wes was excited, and determined that he'd been waiting for a summons of some sort.

And suddenly, Corran felt it. He followed Wes's mind as the man climbed out of his window and headed across the bridge. He felt when Wes spotted Lilja and knew when Wes was standing to watch her play with herself for his benefit.

But there was something else. Something beneath the visual spectacle Wes was absorbing. A kind of humming and pinging.

With a start, he came of his trance. Corran realized that a message was being uploaded - into Wes Janson's mind.

***

The next time it happened, they were prepared. Wes consented to wearing electrodes tapping directly into different parts of his brain, as long as he was able to meet Lilja again. When the show started, his brain energy readouts started showing distinct patterns. When the patterns were analyzed, a distinct output resulted.

By now, Admiral Akbar, head of military operations, and General Cracken, head of Intelligence, were called in. The output described the location and placement of a stolen data feed. When Cracken ordered the location searched, they found what they were looking for. Hobbie wept bitterly that his friend should be thus exposed at so high a level.

Leaders within the Bothan intelligence networks were contacted. Though their questions were vehemently denied at first, their findings were eventually confirmed by none other than Borsk Fey'lya.

At a closed-door briefing, Fey'lya explained that Bothan engineers had been researching ways to get messages across different types of interfaces. Conventional ways had not always been effective, and resulted in an unacceptable number of deaths, as in the case of the information that lead to the destruction of the second Death Star over a moon of Endor. Since the biologically-based, so-called "Delta Source" had been revealed, Bothan Intelligence had been experimenting with altering organic biorhythm outputs for storing and transmitting data packages.

Their ingenious solution entailed uploading data directly into the brains of complex, living organisms. The input would not require the knowledge or permission of the being, but the being had to be located in an area free from certain and numerous types of electromagnetic interference. Therefore, the subject had to be manipulated to stand at a particular spot, for a finite amount of time. The transmission would be made from any direction - from a space platform, from underground, or as a narrow-beam datafeed, modified for higher frequencies to be stored within any tissue that can output electromagnetic waves. For some reason, moving water enhanced the transmissions, thus the need to be near a fountain. Nerve and brain cells are almost ideal, but sometimes the tissues would be damaged by the intensity.

Then Fey'lya addressed the question of why a particular member of a high-profile military squadron was singled out, and all hell broke loose.

***

Wes blinked at the small crowd before him, "So I'm 'ideal'?" He heard Hobbie snort, loudly.

Wedge, his knuckles bruised and clothing torn, smirked at the thought, "They'd tried this on a number of other young, male test subjects of varying species, but they either went insane or killed themselves."

Tycho, sporting a split lip and a black eye, was indignant, "They thought a battle-hardened veteran pilot would be of hardier stock than the general population. Apparently, the fantasies they needed to transmit had to be really outlandish but addictive, so you'd heed the call. But to single you out from the other perverts in proximity of you -"

"Hey!" interjected Hobbie, "my fantasies are the purest of their kind!"

"- you were given a high-grade fantasy featuring very strong, erotic overtones that created a distinctive brain wave pattern. In that way, their instruments and agents could track you and send the broad beam signal for you to move."

Wes was exhausted from not really sleeping for over six weeks, but this was too incredible to ignore or sleep on, "So what did I do with this data?"

"You would walk to another location, and the data would be downloaded from you. They subtract the fantasy they inserted at the same time, and they basically get clean data," Wedge rubbed his head, where'd he'd been struck, "you kept the fantasy only, which would sustain you till the next message needed to be picked up. You, being a pilot, had the potential to transmit the data even during battle. Nice, huh?"

"Oh, so that's why she kept changing a little bit each time," exclaimed Wes, suddenly realizing something, "I am so glad that I'm not nuts. I mean, the details were too wonderful to forget! They were tweaking parameters on me! Like one time, her nipples and the aureoles were this deliciously chocolaty shade of brown and then the nex-- "

Hobbie pulled his hands up, as if to ward him off, "Too much information, Wes! I am bitter enough that you attacked me and gave me a free trip and unnecessary trip to BactaWorld, and then turned out to be getting sex all that time while I had to suffer. I do not need the details, and anyway, Corran told us already."

Wes flashed him a big grin, "See, even when I'm being manipulated, the quality and quantity of my sex life is superior to yours. So, when our cuddly Borsk told you this, you decked him?"

Wedge and Tycho giggled, "No, Akbar did."

"He didn't!" exclaimed Wes and Hobbie.

Tycho roared with laughter, nearly choking himself, "You should have seen that fuzzy ol' Bothan's eyes when Akbar's rubbery, wet fist made contact! I don't think even when the admiral wound up his fist that Feyl'ya really believed he'd make contact! And then we all piled on, trying to beat him senseless, or at least kill him!"

Hobbie looked on, disbelieving, "So why do you two look so terrible?"

Wedge shrugged, "It was a small room."

***

Hobbie had been trying really very hard to take care of Wes, but his patience had run thin. He'd felt guilty about getting so many officials involved in Wes's problem, so was attending to his many silly whims. True, without moving up the chain of command, Wes would still be prisoner of the apparition he'd seen.

Wes looked at Hobbie with sad eyes whenever Hobbie addressed the issue, "But can't you see, Hobbs? I'm still her prisoner. Whether she was real or not, it was the best sex I've ever had. I'm living with not ever being able to know if she was real. Could I have had normal sex with her? Or was it all in my mind? What's the point of sex, anyway?"

"Procreation."

"I know that! But I feel ... so alone. I miss her. I need her." Wes stared misty-eyed.

***

Hobbie had had enough of his friend being pathetic. He grabbed Wes by the collar and was dragging him, struggling only lightly. He tossed him headfirst into a speeder and drove off without waiting for Wes to sit upright. Hobbie refused to say anything to his upset friend, but 15 minutes later, they pulled up behind a large building in a seedy part of town.

Some big men and scantily clad women surrounded the speeder and took the screaming Janson with them. Hobbie tipped them, gave them his comlink frequency, and drove off.

***

Two days later, Wes was back in his room, sleeping soundly. The whistling snore was music to Hobbie's ears - Wes hadn't slept properly the whole time he was being used by the Bothans.

At last, Wes's brain would have a chance to heal. Hobbie had no concern for his friend's heart - he recognized the symptoms as strictly lust only, twisted into some corruption of romance or something scarier. Many pilots normally proposed to their girlfriends at this stage of insanity.

From long experience, he knew Reina's stables would shake Wes out of this. He smiled, and hoped that his friend would be as good to him someday.

FINIS



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