he worried over his next job. More, he worried about the job after that, and the one after that. He worried about his daughter, about how she’d get the care she needed when he—he saw it as inevitable now—died on one of his jobs. The hole he lived in seemed to be getting deeper all the time, and he got no closer to digging his way out.
The instrumentation beeped a signal to indicate the end of the jump. He de-tinted the cockpit canopy as the ship came out of hyperspace and blue gave way to black.
The ball of Vulta’s star burned in the distance. Vulta was visible through the canopy, its day side shining like a green-and-blue jewel against the dark of space.
Arriving in Vulta’s system made him feel immediately lighter. The part of him that kept work at bay reasserted itself. The thought of seeing Arra always did that for him.
He engaged the engines and Fatman sped through the empty space between him and his daughter. When he neared the planet, he turned the ship over to the autopilot and waited for planetary control to ping him.
While waiting, he called up a news channel on the HoloNet. His small in-cockpit vidscreen showed images of the peace negotiations on Alderaan. He’d forgotten about them. Since mustering out, the war between the Empire and the Republic had become little more than background noise to him. He knew Havoc Squadron had accounted well for itself on Alderaan, but not much more.
Footage of the Sith delegation entering the council building filled the screen, commentary, then footage of the Jedi delegation doing the same. He thought he saw a familiar face among the Jedi.
“Freeze picture and magnify right.”
The vidscreen did as he’d ordered, and there she was—Aryn Leneer. She still wore her long, sandy hair loose, still had the same green