Gillian F. Taylor
Authors Note: This one was originally written in response to an evil 'what-if?' challenge. It's a bit bleak, but then it was an evil challenge ...
Mirax finished beating her pillow into a more comfortable shape, lay back and looked over to see what Corran was doing. Her lover was still standing by the small viewport, gazing out at the tempestuous grey surface of Yag'Dhul as its three orbiting moons sowed storms through the cloudy atmosphere. His thoughts seemed even further away than the planet. Well, they all had a lot to think about. Getting Isard off Thyferra was an absurdly difficult and dangerous task, but yesterday's destruction of the Corrupter had been worth celebrating.
Mirax smiled to herself as she thought of the two men who had drawn her into this war. Corran had started it, by resigning in order to fight for the freedom of the Lusankya prisoners. It was an impulsive, reckless move, but typical of his loyalty to those he'd promised to help. Then Wedge had done the same, willingly abandoning his military position in order to follow his principles. The New Republic couldn't interfere in internal Thyferran politics, but neither could Ysanne Isard be allowed to control the galaxy's main bacta supply. Where Wedge led, the rest of Rogue Squadron followed, and now they were here, on this old space station, working hard to bring Isard down.
It was late, but Mirax was willing to bet that Wedge was still awake and working, probably with Tycho, Booster, or both. There never seemed to be enough time for him to do everything he needed to. Not like when they'd been children, when there'd been time for them to play and relax. They'd become like brother and sister, with Wedge's mother filling the role of the dead mother that Mirax could hardly remember. After the death of Wedge's parents, Booster had acted as father to the young man, helping him find his feet and survive on his own. Wedge was the older brother who'd teased her, the youth who'd grieved openly for his lost family, and Mirax had seen him survive and grow into a leader who inspired devotion in some of the finest people she knew. Mirax was immensely proud of Wedge, and believed that time could only make her more so.
Her feelings for Corran were growing as strong, but in an entirely different way. He and Wedge were much alike in many ways, not only much the same height and build, but intelligent, loyal to their friends and dedicated to doing what they believed to be right. Corran gave her a sense of security and steadiness in her life. Mirax loved her father, but she rarely ever knew where he was or what he was doing. Deep down, she felt that Corran would always be there, a part of her future.
Right now though, she was in bed, and he was standing by the viewport, abstracted in his thoughts as he'd been most of the evening.
The second call got his attention, bringing those striking green eyes to bear on her.
"What is it?"
Mirax smiled. "You must be getting cold, especially with Father keeping the temperature down. Come to bed and let me warm you up."
Corran blinked. "I was ..." He glanced briefly towards the door, then seemed to change his mind. "All right."
Three strides brought him to the bed. He slid off his robe, letting it puddle onto the floor, then slid under the covers as Mirax held them up for him. Mirax gallantly wrapped her arms and legs around him, sharing her warmth with him. He kissed her lightly.
"What were you thinking about, standing there getting so cold?" Mirax asked.
"Wedge," Corran replied. "I have to ..."
Mirax cut him off with a deep kiss. When she broke the kiss, she whispered.
"I love Wedge, but I don't want him in bed with us. Let's make the most of this time we've got together. Don't think about Wedge until tomorrow."
A bright intensity burned in Corran's eyes as he looked at her.
"I love you, Mirax."
"I love you," she answered, breathlessly as his arms closed around her in a fierce hug.
Corran's mouth closed on hers, and suddenly he didn't seem so cold.
* * * * *
Mirax woke softly, without moving. She opened her eyes, and found the room's lights were on low. From where she lay, she could see Corran out of bed and getting dressed. He was moving carefully, slowly, obviously trying not to disturb her. A quick flick of the eyes towards the chrono confirmed Mirax's first impression that it was early in the morning. She lay still and wondered where her lover was going, so quietly. It was possible that he just needed to make a trip to one of the communal refresher stations, but she didn't think he'd be getting fully dressed just for that. As she watched, Mirax saw Corran had the same abstracted air he'd had the night before.
Well, he said he'd been thinking about Wedge then. She recalled that he'd said he had to do something in regard to Wedge. Perhaps he intended to call on Wedge early, before other demands were made on his commander's time. Mirax half-smiled: Wedge tended to be an early riser, but she hoped Corran would have the sense to take a mug of caf with him if he was going to call before breakfast.
He was being so quiet, so careful not to disturb her, that Mirax kept still, not wanting him to know she was awake. Corran reached into his travelling and bag and removed something. Mirax couldn't see what it was from this angle, but she got the impression he was tucking it into a pocket on the front of his light jacket, or into the waistband of his trousers. What she could see of his face was oddly blank, expressionless. There was something secretive about the way he moved, a tension in his muscles. As Corran turned her way, Mirax closed her eyes again and feigned sleep. She stayed that way until she heard the bedroom door open and close.
When she opened her eyes again, the room was in darkness. Mirax frowned as she listened to the faint sounds of Corran leaving the small suite of rooms they shared. Every instinct told her than Corran's behaviour was out of the ordinary. A new idea occurred to her. She'd asked for Corran's input on finding whoever it was who had leaked information to Isard. Maybe he'd found or guessed something, and was after more evidence. It would be like Corran to go after anyone he found suspicious.
Mirax made up her mind; she wasn't going to let Corran go off and maybe get into trouble on his own. Sliding out of the bed, she ordered the lights to come on, and reached for her own clothes. It only took a few moments to slide on her jumpsuit and a pair of boots. Mirax strapped her blaster pistol on, and swiftly headed after her lover.
* * * * *
Wedge ran his hand over his freshly-shaved chin, and pondered on the reviving effect of a good, hot shower. He hadn't even had any caf yet this morning, but he already felt pretty well awake and ready to tackle the day's problems. Being one of the first up was definitely an advantage in places where refresher facilities were communal. Wedge had enjoyed the peace of being the only person in the showers, and hadn't even seen anyone in the corridors on his way back to his quarters.
The privacy of his quarters appealed, but now he'd had his shower, Wedge found the idea of caf increasingly tempting. He decided to nip out and fetch some caf, and maybe a roll, and bring them back to his quarters. With any luck, he'd be able to enjoy them in peace, before the full demands of this war took over his day. A glance at his chrono told him that if he wanted a quiet breakfast, he'd have to be quick, or there wouldn't be time to enjoy it. His mind made up, Wedge ignored the datapad waiting on the table, and tugged on his boots.
Which was when his luck ran out.
The hiss of his door opening startled him. Wedge turned sharply, and saw Corran walking into his parlour. His right hand was down by his side and out of sight.
"Corran! Is there something wrong or have you forgotten basic manners?"
Anger turned to bemusement at the strange look on Corran's face as the other man came towards him.
"I'm sorry, Wedge," Corran said.
"For walking into my quarters without knocking?" Wedge asked, trying to read Corran's expression as his pilot halted in front of him. The strange behaviour was triggering Wedge's subconscious reflexes, making him uneasy, though he didn't know what there was to be worried about.
"For, for ... Lusankya!"
Corran lunged forward as he shouted the last word, thrusting a vibroblade at Wedge's chest.
Wedge reacted without thinking, twisting aside and feeling the sting of the blade scraping across his ribs. For a moment, he was as close to sheer panic as he'd ever been, then the calm nerve that served him so well in combat took over. As Corran pulled back to attack again, Wedge grabbed his knife arm and his shirt, pushing his leg between Corran's as he continued to swing around in the direction he'd turned. Corran tried to shift with him but caught his foot against Wedge's leg and overbalanced. Wedge didn't dare let go, but fell with him, landing mostly on top of Corran.
Corran barely seemed to notice; recovering far faster than Wedge expected. He rolled over, throwing Wedge off him and trapping Wedge's right arm beneath his body. At the same time, he tried to bring the knife up to Wedge's neck. Wedge hung on grimly to Corran's wrist, exerting every ounce of strength to keep the blade from reaching his throat. That word, Lusankya, told him he was fighting for his life. Corran's eyes blazed with unreasoning hatred, forced into him by Ysanne Isard. There was no way of reasoning with his compulsion to kill. The only sound was harsh gasps for breath as the two men wrestled for control of the vibroblade.
The deadlock was broken by Wedge. He brought his left knee up sharply, trying to hit Corran's groin. It wasn't a clean impact, but he hit hard enough to make Corran flinch. Wedge seized the momentary advantage to push Corran's knife hand away from himself, and to roll away. He scrambled to his feet, as Corran did the same. Wedge was barely off his knees when Corran swung the vibroblade at him again. A frantic lurch backwards saved him. Catching his balance, Wedge seized hold of Corran's knife hand, as it passed in front of him. He pulled the arm further in the direction Corran had been striking, turning the other man round. Wedge threw himself against Corran, using his weight to push him forward and into the nearby table.
Corran grunted, losing his breath briefly as Wedge rammed him against the tubular frame. Wedge slammed Corran's hand as hard as he could against the edge of the table. The vibroblade jolted from Corran's grasp and clattered to the floor. Bracing himself against the table with his other hand, Corran shoved backwards hard. Wedge staggered back, letting go of Corran's wrist in order to maintain his balance. Corran straightened up and whipped round in one move. A moment later, his hands closed on Wedge's throat, cutting off his breath.
The strangling pressure jolted fear through Wedge's body, but he didn't panic. He brought his arms up inside Corran's, then pushed outwards, hitting the inside of Corran's elbows so the joints buckled. Wedge circled his arms out and down, pulling Corran's hands free from his neck. As Corran tried to lift his arms again, Wedge jabbed a short punch into his nose. Corran cried out as he reeled back, giving Wedge the chance to dive for the vibroblade.
He snatched it up and turned on his dazed opponent. Wedge swung hard at Corran's head, intending to reverse the vibroblade and use the hilt to club Corran down. He knew he had no choice other than to hurt Corran, but he didn't want to kill him. Maybe, if he subdued Corran, they could find some way of breaking his conditioning. Wedge had to try at least; Corran deserved that chance.
* * * * *
Mirax had nearly lost track of Corran when she left their rooms. Luckily, the station was so quiet in the living areas at that hour, she had been able to hear his footsteps at some distance, and had known which direction to go. To her surprise, he didn't head away from the living quarters allocated to the Rogues, but instead headed to sub-level 25, the lowest on the station. Puzzled, she followed at a good distance, relying on the sound of his footsteps, and the hiss of doors opening and closing, to track him. She just had to hope that he didn't notice the sounds she was making herself, though she was trying to be as quiet as possible.
As Corran kept moving, Mirax began to think that she'd guessed wrong about his motives. He was definitely heading in the direction of Wedge's quarters after all. Mirax slowed down, feeling a little foolish. She had no idea what Corran wanted to discuss privately with Wedge, and at this hour, but she was sure that he'd have told her if he thought it necessary for her to know. Possibly he would talk to her after discussing whatever it was with Wedge. In any case, Mirax was beginning to think that it would be more tactful not to intrude. She was certainly curious to know what was happening, but she didn't want to get caught skulking in the corridor outside Wedge's quarters.
Mirax paused beside the turning to Wedge's rooms, wondering what to do. As she paused, she heard thuds, and other sounds from around the corner. Peering round, she saw the door to Wedge's quarters was open, and she heard Corran's voice, crying out in pain. Drawing her blaster, Mirax sprinted to the door.
For a moment, she could hardly believe what she saw inside. Corran, dishevelled, with a bloodied nose, and Wedge, in the act of swinging a vibroblade at Corran's head. Mirax saw Corran's danger and instinct took over. At the last moment, she changed her aim, firing at Wedge's legs instead of his body. He screamed, twisting as his leg collapsed and he fell. Corran dropped to his knees beside him, paying no attention to Mirax's sudden arrival. Mirax's eyes were fixed on Wedge; she began to feel sick as she realized she'd actually hurt him. She didn't even look to see what Corran was doing, until he shouted one word.
Mirax looked up in time to see him plunge the vibroblade into Wedge's chest. Shock froze her as Wedge cried out, his body jerking under the blow. Shock multiplied as the meaning of Corran's cry sank in. He wrenched the blade out and lifted it, ready to stab again. Wedge could do nothing to defend himself, he just lay as he'd fallen, overwhelmed by pain. Mirax fired: two shots or more. She couldn't tell. When she stopped, Corran was slumped on the floor. She stepped forward a couple of places and halted, the blaster still in her hand.
Corran's green eyes were open, but he was dead. Her blaster shots had torn through his chest; any one would have killed him. She'd killed her lover, the man who made her feel safe, and special. Mirax stood motionless as she gazed at him, remembering the sound of his voice, his smile and the touch of his lips against hers.
"M ... Myri ..."
The familiar sound of her pet name from childhood broke through the shock. As she turned to Wedge, his words broke off in a fit of coughing. Bright blood bubbled around his nose and mouth as he struggled to breathe.
"Veggies!" Mirax hurried to him and knelt by his side. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, dropping the blaster to wipe the blood away with her fingers.
Wedge coughed again, his familiar face contorted with pain. Mirax's mind started to clear as the necessity of helping sank in. She rose and grabbed the jacket Wedge had left draped over the back of a nearby chair, and folded it for a pillow. With his head raised, Wedge stopped coughing on his own blood. Mirax pressed the flat of her hand over the wound in his chest, stopping the air from entering and making it easier for him to breathe.
"You're going to be all right, Wedge," she reassured him, fishing in her pocket for her comlink. "We'll take care of you."
Tears slid down her face. Mirax didn't dare look at Corran's body. There would be time to mourn him later. There would be time to scream, and weep, and swear vengeance on Ysanne Isard for tearing her life apart. Time to look back and wonder how she might have stopped this from happening. How she might have somehow known that Corran had succumbed to Isard's tortures. Time to regret the misunderstanding that caused to her shoot Wedge, giving Corran the chance to obey his conditioning. There would be too much time to remember the smell of blaster bolts and blood, and Wedge's moans of pain, and the sight of the two men who meant most to her, lying together on the floor like broken dolls.
The blaster shots and screams had attracted attention to Wedge's quarters. From behind Mirax came the sound of Tycho's voice, using his own comlink to call for a med team.
"Don't die," Mirax whispered, feeling the irregular rise and fall of Wedge's chest under her bloodied hand. "I can't lose you both like this."
Wedge's eyes were closed, the pain fading from his face as he slipped towards unconsciousness.
"What in the name of all the stars happened here?" Tycho demanded, joining Mirax at Wedge's side.
Mirax didn't answer; there would be time for explanations later. Now, it was more important to concentrate on Wedge, in case there would be no later for him.
Corran's future was already over.
Mirax's tears fell faster.
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