Gillian F. Taylor
This family story makes a nice companion piece with Necessary Separation.
Mirax: "A general? Oh, Wedge, your folks would have been so proud." Isard's Revenge
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"In the kitchen."
Jagged Antilles crossed the living room and stood in the doorway to the compact kitchen. His dark-haired wife was busy preparing the evening meal. She paused and glanced over her shoulder at him.
"I didn't hear Wedge come in. Is he still in the repair shop?" she asked.
Jagged shook his head. "He's out with Booster." At Zena's questioning expression, he added. "Flying that old Headhunter." Zena pushed a dish into the oven and programmed the settings with quick, sharp taps of the controls.
"Booster won't let him come to any harm; he loves Wedge the way we love Mirax," Jagged said. "Besides, Wedge is a fine pilot, especially for his age."
"That's what worries me," Zena admitted. She came over to her husband and looked at him anxiously. "The more he flies, the more he loves it. I worry about where this love of flying might take him one day."
Jagged put his arm around his wife and led her into the living room. Looking at her, it was plain to see where their son had inherited his dark hair and slender build. The expression on Zena's face now was very like that of Wedge when he fretted about his exam results.
"Wedge does love flying," Jagged agreed. "We can't try to stop him. We made that mistake once already."
There was sorrow in Zena's eyes. "Syal was seventeen when she left us. Wedge is sixteen already. Veggies, our baby boy, will be leaving us before long." She sighed and rested her head against her husband's broad shoulder. "Our baby is planning what he want to do when he finishes school, the year after next."
"I think he's still set on being an architect," Jagged said, hugging his wife softly. "If he changes his mind, he can stay here on the depot and spend his time around ships. He's getting good at fixing them, and his ability at maths will be useful for running the business."
"Managing a fuel depot and fixing freighters isn't the same as flying," Zena insisted. "Wedge loves to fly, and especially small ships, starfighters. What if he wants to become a starfighter pilot, Jag?"
Jagged thought before he answered. "If he wants to fly starfighters, we can't stop him. Once he's eighteen, we can't control what he does. If he wants to apply to a military academy, there's nothing we can do about it. And if we fight him, we could lose him like we lost Syal."
"I know. It's not the flying that really bothers me; it's the thought of my boy climbing into a starfighter and risking his life in battle. I don't want to get a holomessage from some Navy officer I've never met, telling me that my son has been vapourized by a laser cannon." Zena was speaking louder, faster, her fears pouring out. "Wedge doesn't even really care about the Empire. He just likes to fly starfighters, and the Empire will teach him to do that, and give him a fighter. He wouldn't even be fighting for anything he believed in."
"Which is why he's not likely to join the Imperial Navy," Jagged reassured her. "Wedge loves to fly, Zena, but he's not stupid. He understands the risks of becoming a starfighter pilot. He's young; he's got too many reasons to live." Jagged chuckled. "If he does start talking about military training, we just have to point out that the first thing the Imperial academy will do is shave all his hair off. That'll put him off quicker than anything else."
Zena couldn't help smiling. Wedge didn't pay too much attention to his appearance, but there was no doubt that he was vain of his long, dark hair. Jagged bent his head to press a quick kiss to her lips.
"I guess I'm worrying too much, about something that'll probably never happen," Zena said. "But I'm his mother. It's my job to worry about him."
"Some parents would ask us what we've got to worry about. Wedge is level-headed and responsible, works hard at school and doesn't fool around with girls. I'd say he's turned out pretty well."
Zena considered that for a moment. "Of course he's only sixteen. There's still time for it to all go horribly wrong." She grinned and hugged her husband. "You're right, Jagged. Whatever Wedge chooses to do with his life, he'll choose wisely. And we'll be proud of him."
Jagged smiled too. "Wedge Antilles: Ace Architect. I can't wait to see that headline."
They heard the front door open and the familiar, rapid thud of their son's feet in the hall.
"Mom? Dad? Is dinner ready yet?"
Smiling, Zena and Jagged Antilles went to greet their son.
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