Star Wars: X-Wing:
Lusankya — Chapter Sixteen

Rating: R
Shadow Chaser

Author’s Warning: This fic is rated R for heavy graphic violence, torture, and imprisonment.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Star Wars characters except those of Akiba Muune, Lieutenant Dysune Tayib, and Captain Falco Avin. All other characters belong to Lucasfilm and their respective authors. I am not making a profit out of this story, it is only written for fans to enjoy.

The steady dripping of liquids going through an IV band was rhythmic, soothing, and somehow, made Tycho feel at peace.  He could tell it was an IV band because of an acute pain that was pressed against his left wrist.  The next feeling was that a rather large fuzzy cotton had been shoved into his mouth and his throat was very parched and dry.  He slowly cracked open his eyes, and blinked a few times to clear up the blurry vision he had when he first opened them.

Slowly, the medical room he had been placed in came into focus and he looked around.  For reasons unknown, a slow welling of panic filled him as he looked around ... part of him demanded to know if this was a trap and another part of him was puzzled as to why he would think the medical room was a setting for a trap.

"Good evening Captain," the gentle modulated voice of a Two-OneBee droid suddenly spoke up to his left and his eyes darted to see its blue clamshell head glancing down at him before looking around to the monitors that surrounded him.

It was then that he finally noticed that not only was his wrist hooked up to an IV drip, his body was covered with different diodes and wires connecting him to various electronic equipment.  And part of him realized that some of the equipment weren't really for medical purposes ...

Putting that thought in the back of his head, he instead focused on the droid who made a few notes a data center near his bed.  "Where ... " he croaked out before clearing his throat, "where ... am I?"

"Medical bay, room 1138, aboard Home One sir," the droid replied before moving over and handing him a small bottle of water with a sip-straw on the end.  Tycho's lips took the proffered straw and he sucked greedily on the water before the droid pulled the straw out and placed the bottle back on a small end table.

"Thank you," he replied grateful that his throat didn't hurt as much anymore and the cotton-like feeling within them was starting to dissipate.

"Sir," the droid tilted its head in acknowledgement, "if you are well enough, General Cracken would like to see you."

"Cracken?" Tycho blinked before wincing as flashes of various images flitted through his head.  He saw what looked like a mission file he had been handed ... the bright streets of a bustling city ... mismatched blue and red eyes that had a malicious look to them ...

"Sir, sir," he didn't realize that the OneBee droid had been calling to him until he blinked and stared at the droid.

"Y-Yeah ... I'm fine ..." he said, feeling a bit shaky.

"Are you sure sir?"

Tycho nodded, suppressing a grimace.  He didn't understand why his memories were so fuzzy ... he knew he had been sent on a mission to Courscant ... but what had happened afterwards, he couldn't exactly remember.

A few minutes later, after the medical droid had left, the door to his room hissed open and the familiar form of General Airen Cracken walked in.  Tycho made a move to salute and sit upright when his whole body exploded in pain, protesting the movement he was trying to complete.  He barely managed to keep himself from yelping out in front of the general, but was only half successful in keeping the grimace of pain off of his face.

"Don't worry about moving, Captain," he glanced up at the General who gave him a smile and held up a hand to prevent him from doing anything else, "I'm surprised that you wanted to see me since you've just woken up."

Tycho leaned back against his pillows, feeling very odd that he wasn't sitting up and facing the General and instead, was staring at him while lying down.  The pain was starting to ebb away and he let himself relax slightly, only moments later, frown at the General's words.

"The droid said that you wanted to see me," he said, confused.

The General stared at him for a few seconds before nodding, "Good to know that your brain hasn't addled in your time away from us."

"Sir?" Tycho felt confused and in that confusion he could feel a slight bit of panic well up.  He didn't know the source of the panic, but it made him feel scared for some odd reason.  He knew that he had no reason to be scared of the General.  He forced himself to relax instead of causing more pain to his already protesting body.

... He had already tasted the blood in his mouth, and breathing in its coppery scent was an old habit right now as his cheek slipped slightly from the red crimson streaks that was already there ...

... A flash of a white hair and sparkling green eyes flashed across his vision and Tycho attempted to shake his head, but everything hurt ...

... Musty and damp was what the place smelled like. Its deep earth-enriching sense reminded him of his times in his family's Crevasse City estate ...

... The scream was inhuman ...

"-to which we found your TIE drifting ... Captain?" fingers suddenly snapped in front of his eyes, startling him from the surge of memories and he blinked rapidly, forcing himself to focus on General Cracken's weathered face.  It was also then that he realized he his breath came in short gasps and the monitors hooked up to him were beeping like crazy.

Suddenly a mask of pure oxygen was shoved over his mouth and nose and for a split second, Tycho tried to fight it off before he forced himself to remember that he was in Alliance care, not in that horrid prison or-

His thoughts suddenly ran into a blank wall and he realized that he knew he had been tortured, and from the way his body was reacting to everything, it was a very bad and probably long torture ... but enough that he couldn't remember where he had been tortured ...

... Lusankya ...

The name whispered like a lover's kiss in his mind and he hadn't realized that he had spoken it out loud until he saw Cracken's eyes widen like saucers and the General stepped back before staring at him with shrewd narrowed eyes.

"Captain, are you all right?"

Tycho could see the suspicion hidden in the man's eyes even though he tried hard to contain his surprise and knowledge of what he had just said.  Somehow, a part of him knew that this was real, and no matter what, he would not submit to another round of Iceheart's tortures even if it was a simulation — the thought of that puzzled him for a second — even if it was fake.

"I ... was at Lusankya ..." he said quietly, a part of him alarmed that he sounded so cool and detached, like his body wasn't his own, before flashes of images started to appear before his eyes.  He could feel tendrils of pain crawling up and down his skin, touching every fiber of his nerves.  The well of panic that he had felt earlier returned full force and he tried to scrunch his protesting body up together as much as he could, trying to will the pain away.

... Lusankya ... Lusankya ... Lusankya ...

The name whispered like a horrid chant in his mind, tormenting him, and he could see flashes of molten red, then icy blue ...

... Lusankya ... Lusankya ... Lusankya ... Lusankya ...

Then just as suddenly, he was thrown into a blissful blackness ... and drifted ...

* * * * *

General Airen Cracken prided himself on not reacting to the direst of situations and maintaining a level, cool head during the worst crisis.  He had flown through the Death Star as one of the gunners of the Millennium Falcon, keeping his cool as Lando Calrissian and Nien Nunb flew through the harrowing and narrow corridors of the space station to reach the core and back out, barely escaping the flames of the dying station.

But now, watching the sudden calmness of Tycho Celchu turn into a frenzied, hyper-induced panic attack disturbed him.  No, it was more than disturbing, it worried him.  Worried him to see a man he knew to be strong, cool, calm, and an efficient growing leader within the New Republic, reduced to something as trivial as this ... a panic-attacked man who had been tortured in Lusankya, Isard's little house of horrors, and possibly broken.

He nodded to the Two-OneBee droid who knocked Celchu out, the man's shivering and convulsing body suddenly falling limp before all of his shrieking monitors returned to their normal state.  "Please keep me informed and let me know the next time he wakes," he informed the droid.

"Sir, it would be advisable to keep Captain Celchu sedated for a while.  His brain scans indicate that he had suffered from both mental and physical trauma," the OneBee droid replied.

"It would, but we want him to heal naturally.  Keeping him sedated would probably enhance the mental trauma that he had suffered," he replied, "plus I would like to question him some more."

"Yes sir," the OneBee droid nodded once before adjusting the flow of one of the nutrient IV and returned to monitoring the unconscious Alderaanian.

Cracken left the room and made a beeline towards Admiral Ackbar's quarters.  It was a good thing that he hadn't told Commander Antilles or Winter that Tycho had returned yet.  He did not want them seeing Captain Celchu in such a state and also he didn't want anyone finding out that Celchu had spent some time in the company of Iceheart, even though he knew not to trust the man's words in its entirety.  And even if Celchu had spent some time in Lusankya, he was still suspicious.  No one from Lusankya ever remembered their time in there, nor did they say the word Lusankya until their act of sabotage was done.

So then why was Celchu muttering about Lusankya and why in such a moment of perfect and calm clarity did he say that he had been in Lusankya ... ?  It was disconcerting to someone like him who was a broker of information and intelligence.  Though he wasn't trained to examine the mind or pick out the inconsistencies as the psychologists the Alliance had within the medical wards, he did have some training to a degree when he had rejected his father's offer to become a starfighter pilot.

Instead, he had chosen to pursue a career in the more intellectual sense, first as a budding holojournalist in the Imperial Academy on Carida working for the Academy's holostation, then with his hunger for knowledge turn those skills towards working for Contruum and finally the Rebellion when he couldn't stand the Imperial propaganda anymore, especially with the Emperor's announcement of the Jedi Order attempting to assassinate him and scarring him for life.

From what he had learned through life's lessons, there were two distinctive categories the aliens and humans of the universe fell into.  Leaders and followers.  While most colored the grey areas of the categories, being both leaders and followers, there were those, especially in the Rebellion, that were most definitely leaders and not followers.  Leaders who inspired others, who helped those before they helped themselves and leaders who carried the heart of whatever their cause was.  Celchu and almost every member of Rogue Squadron before it had been disbanded, was a leader.  Twelve leaders working together for a common goal.

But to see leaders fall in the middle of battle psychologically scarred both followers and other leaders for life.  Cracken felt he was witnessing a leader's fall ... and he knew watching Celchu was scarring him; the knife of confidence plunged deep into him and twisting ever so slowly.

He knocked once on Admiral Ackbar's office before the rubbery Mon Calamari voice told him he could enter.  The door hissed open and Cracken didn't realize he had a deep frown on his face until he saw a warped reflection of his own face in the globe fish tank in Ackbar's office.

He forced the frown to at least lighten a bit and nodded a greeting to the Mon Calamari Admiral.

"General, what can I do for you?"

"It's related to the Celchu problem," currently only a handful of technicians knew that Tycho had returned from his ill-fated mission to Courscant and he made sure if the techs ever breathed a word to anyone they would be shot into space without any trial or due consideration.  However, he had also immediately informed Ackbar of Celchu's return, hoping the two of them could go over what happened to the mission.

This was an intelligence mission he wanted to look at personally and trusted no one else to sift through the data.  While he had the data Tycho transmitted out during his two week stay on the city-wide planet, he had now copied those data files to himself along with every recorded conversation he had with his contact, his agent Iella under the guise of being Ella Westerly, forwarded to him.

"Ah," the Admiral immediately picked up a small device he kept hidden in a cleverly concealed part of a vase near his desk and activated it.  After a few seconds, the device blinked a green and the Admiral nodded for him to continue.

"He claims to have been in Isard's Lusankya facility," Cracken said, watching the Admiral carefully.

Ackbar was certainly shocked by the news, his already buldging eyes growing wide before his jaw dropped slightly, the barbells twitching in surprise.  "Has he said anything else?"

Cracken shook his head, "I would think that Isard did a number on him, he was convulsing rather badly."

"Or he could have been put through extensive torture and made to hallucinate that he had been in Lusankya.  I remember one of the agents who betrayed us was whispering the name after he had blown up the Reverie but it was proven that he had not been in Lusankya like the other agents we've found," Ackbar didn't look too happy, "and I take it that you came to me to warn me of stormy waters?"

"Have you told them yet?" Cracken raised an eyebrow.

"I was about to, but this, as you say, complicates things.  If I tell Commander Antilles his executive officer is still alive, he would want to put him in the new roster he is creating for Rogue Squadron, unless you consider Captain Celchu a security threat to the Fleet?"

"I don't know," Cracken rubbed his chin for a moment, "he will definitely have to be debriefed and then we'll send in a psychologist to analyze him.  I was wondering, since you know Luke Skywalker better than I do, if he can come and figure out if Captain Celchu is really a Lusankya agent."

"A tall order," Ackbar tilted his head, "but I will see what I can do.  General Skywalker's whereabouts are currently not known to me."

They both knew that what he had just asked would not be asked for someone who wasn't as important as Tycho Celchu.  The Alderaanian never knew it and probably wouldn't for the rest of his life, but he was consider to be a symbol to the Rebel Alliance, one of the rare few that could inspire others.  In fact, almost the five legendary pilots of Rogue Squadron that had survived Hoth were symbols in their own right.

That was why he took so many precautions ... if Celchu was truly a Lusankya spy, then faith and hope in the Rebel Alliance would shatter in an instant.

"I say let Antilles know but make sure you stress to him the importance of not spreading this to anyone.  I will let Lady Winter know on my end," Cracken decided.

"I take it you're shipping her out on another mission soon, am I not correct General?"

Cracken blinked in surprise at the Admiral's words before a crooked smile worked its way up his face.  "If I thought any less of you then I would have thought that was a grab for my seat."

"Only our mutual friend Fey'lya does that, General.  I only aim to make the waters calm once more," Ackbar laughed, a rubbery popping sound.

"Yes.  You know as well as I do, Courscant is nearly within our grasp.  The only piece left in the puzzle is for Rogue Squadron's final roster to land on your desk."

"If things are going well with Commander Antilles, I daresay it would be within another month or two before Rogue Squadron can be sent out on its first mission," Ackbar replied, his expression serious once more.

* * * * *

Wedge wanted to scream in frustration as he stared at the current list of pilots that had applied to join Rogue Squadron.  The conditions he was given beforehand said that he could not accept any former member's application so that meant telling Wes, Hobbie, and the others that their applications were declined.

And it left him with a giant pile of applications to which he really needed to sort out.  He also knew that he have to choose his new executive officer from the same pile.  He had gone through most of it in the initial phase, but still there was a lot of pilots that fit the requirements General Cracken and Admiral Ackbar had handed down to him.  If they were going to retake Courscant, he didn't know where to start.

The only thing he knew was that he definitely wanted a squadron of pilots first and foremost.  Rogue Squadron was more military than intelligence and there was no way Cracken would get his hands to convert the squadron to an all intelligence unit, not while he was still in command.

He wished Tycho was here, sitting with him, going through all of the files.  It was much easier to bounce ideas off of another person, especially someone like him since he was so good at reading others.  He sighed and raked a hand through his hair ... perhaps he should start by finding a new XO.

There was one Captain Aril Nunb, sister to Nien who had flew with Lando in the Falcon during their assault on the second Death Star, and she had excellent records.  Perhaps she would be a good fit for the squadron ...   Surprisingly he was a bit shocked to find Captain Pash Cracken's files amongst those that wanted in with the Rogues.  He knew Pash's reputation was with A-wings after he had defected to the Alliance and was puzzled.

There were a couple of other candidates, but somehow, he felt that they weren't going to be a good fit.  It was then that he realized why he was mentally scratching them out of his mind.  I'm comparing them to Tycho and how well they would work with me like Tycho did with me ...

He gritted his teeth in frustration and angrily dumped the files on his desk once more.  He knew that his own reasoning of trying to somehow force the Alliance to show that they had Tycho's body was eating away at him.  Though he had not vocalized it to anyone, a part of him desperately wanted to see his former second-in-command's body just so he could have closure and move on.  It was also then that he realized just how much Tycho was like a brother to him, his best friend and counterpart.

When Tycho had initially joined the Alliance right after Yavin, he didn't trust the Alderaanian, even though he sympathized with his loss of his homeworld.  To him, he was just too Imperial, too by the book, and too ... perfect was the only word he could think of at the time.  There was something about the Alderaanian that made his hackles rise each time he was within his presence.  He had seen the rest of his squadmates and Luke included slowly embrace the young man.

It was only until they had barely escaped the ambush of the Redemption to Imperial forces that he had truly began to respect Tycho and become friends with him.  Their posting at Hoth with Luke and the other Rogues only help tighten their friendship with each other and made them a tighter group, especially in the wake of the loss of Commander Narra and most of Renegade Flight.

A soft beep from his comlink startled him out of his dark thoughts and he flipped it on.  "Antilles here," he steeled himself to sound cordial, but instead found that his voice was sharp and still full of anger.

"Commander, please meet me in the Medical Bay immediately," if Admiral Ackbar sounded offended, his gravelly voice did not show it.

"Yes sir," Wedge replied before shutting the link off.  He got up and grabbed his nerf-hide flight jacket before exiting his office, for once, glad that he was interrupted.  He really did not want to look for another XO right now.

* * * * *

Author’s Notes: Torturing the psyche of characters is more fun than torturing them physically in my opinion.  But if you can do both, why not go for it!  ^_^  Yes, I am a bit warped.  No, I do not have a degree in psychology (though almost everyone I've talked to says I should).  Yes, I am a journalist and therefore have done some research and have a very overactive imagination.  And yes, I have finally updated in Lusankya.

To Chapter Fifteen | To Chapter Sixteen

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