End of an Era
Maybe at a different time, a different place, a different person even, the situation would have been happier. As the young man sat in the back of the lounge, as he always did, Flight Officer Myke "Wolf" Krenn watched the end of an era. The era where a wonderful collection of people had once gathered at that table to play a game of sabacc, to swap war stories, just to talk. Now they were all gone, and all that was left were the echoes of a time long since passed.
He'd watched it all, sitting quietly in the back corner of that lounge. The pilot hardly made himself noticed, never inviting anyone to sit with him, nor accepting invites from others. They had all come and gone, the youngsters and hotshots, but there were a core of those who would never die. They, and they alone, would be the ghostly crew that would forever haunt the Liberty.
Wolf watched as things began to change and the old guard retired from active duty. Sometimes he felt like it was all ending. Despite the danger, they'd had the time of their lives, but now it was time to move on, make more memories. Still, some of those memories, some of those people, were hard to forget.
She was there the day his battered X-wing arrived on the CRS Liberty. In fact, she'd been the first one of the Liberty crew to meet him. Aradia "Slicer" Emerson had been there, and now she was leaving.
When the news came that Slicer was leaving the Wing, Wolf was crushed. She was one of the few he felt he could talk to. She was the only one to hear about Rieko, leaving Myomar, and the splintering of the Phantoms. Slicer was like a sister he'd never had, and now she was leaving him.
The day of her departure had come and the entire wing had assembled in the hangar to see her off. The entire wing, save one. Wolf was lying in his bunk, staring at the ceiling, when his quarters' buzzer went off.
"Enter," he said, pushing himself up onto his elbows. The door opened and in the doorway stood Slicer, leaning slightly against the wall. Her auburn hair hung like a halo around her shadowed face. He couldn't see her expression, but he knew that posture well. She always crossed her arms tightly against herself when she was agitated.
Slicer walked deliberately to the unoccupied cot next to him and sat down, arms still crossed. She looked down at the floor, her hands tightly knit together as she searched for words. Before she could begin speaking, Wolf broke the silence.
"Listen," he said, tearing his eyes away from their stare at the doorway. "You don't have to say anything. This is your call. It's what you need to do. We both knew that this group wouldn't be together forever."
Biting her lower lip, Slicer gripped her hands tighter, their knuckles becoming white from tension. Releasing her hold, she placed them on her knees and sighed loudly. "I don't want to leave, honestly I don't."
"I know. Hell Slicer, I wouldn't want to keep you from a career opportunity where you could be blasting Imps three times over what you're doing here. Talk of a major offensive seems to be in the air. I hope you get to the front lines."
Buccaneer's former executive officer smiled, but it was more of a grimace. "I don't. This isn't about blasting more Imps. It's... stang, I'll miss everyone so much. Guardian, Corsair Leader, Rogue Leader, all the way down to the punk kids like you who think they own the skies."
Wolf chuckled slightly and she smirked, but the amusement didn't last long.
"The circle of friends we have here, I'll remember it forever. I've had the time of my life. I know I'll spend many nights alone out there, thinking of all of you. I'll probably even cry, me! Can you believe it?"
Wolf shrugged. "I believe it. I've seen a softer side of you," he hesitated. "Once in a while."
"I'll never forget it, as long as I may live," she looked deep into his eyes. "You won't forget me, will you?"
He looked at her seriously for a second, then smiled a little. “I guess not, you still owe me 10 credits from our last game."
Slicer rolled her eyes. "Don't be an ass when I'm trying to be serious. You don't forget, I know that. You still pine for that damn girl who ditched you, don't you?"
Before he could respond, she snapped off one of Wolf's blood chits from around his neck. "I don't want to die alone, kid," she said and reached into her pocket.
Wolf looked away. "Someone I knew once said that too."
"I know Wolf, I know. Here —" she squeezed one of her own blood chits into his hand —"If I die, please, just, someday think of me, and remember." Wolf promised her that he would. The chronometer beeped.
Slicer looked at it quickly and stared at the floor again. "I have to go. I really hate goodbyes."
"No goodbyes then," he said quickly and looked her straight in the eye. "They mean that I'll never see you again. I'll see you around."
Slicer smiled. "Yeah, right, see you around, kid."
She stood up and went to the door, but then turned back, smiling. "And every time I see a junky old X-wing without any markings, I'll even hail it, just to see if it's you."
Wolf looked at her, a smile of his own shining on his youthful face. "I'll be listening."
"I know, Wolf, I hope you find her. You deserve that." She smiled one last time and left.
As the door shut behind her Wolf hung his head and whispered, "Goodbye."
He had not gone to her departure. Wolf had long ago decided against seeing friends leave, because he knew that he would never see them again. Goodbyes were so final to him... he preferred to keep the hope that someday this ensemble would once again be sitting together at the Sabacc table, nostalgic stories being retold. Wolf knew that would never happen.
He pulled out the chain with his blood chit and looked at the new one looped alongside it. Slicer's information blurred as he blinked away the sting of tears. She was leaving because she had to. If he had the opportunity to find Rieko, wouldn't he? No, Slicer wasn't leaving him. She was doing what she needed to do. He was just lucky to have known her.
He stuffed the chits back under his flight tunic. Ordering another caf, Wolf closed his eyes: envisioning that Sabacc game, seeing everyone again. It was those ghosts that he'd never forget. He could not forget. Oh how he'd miss it, how he'd miss it all when this time was gone forever.