,()()()!


eyes, the same hunched posture, as if she were bracing herself against a storm.

Which she was, Zeerid supposed, given the keenness with which she felt the emotions of those around her.

He hadnt seen her in years. They had become friends during the months theyd served together on Balmorra. Hed come to know that she could fly pretty well and fight very well. He respected that. And because he fought pretty well and flew still better, he thought she had respected him. She never drank with Zeerid and the commandos, but she always hit the cantina with them. Just watching them.

Zeerid had assumed she came along because she liked the emotional temperature of the commandos when they drankrelief and joy at having survived another mission. She always had an openness to her face, an expression in her eyes that said she understood. Her openness had drawn drunk soldiers like sweet flies to nectar honey. Theyd wanted to look in her eyes and confess something. Zeerid imagined it must have been exhausting for her. And yet shed always been there for them. Every time.

The vid cut to a shot of Coruscant and a commentator said, Until today, when an attack

The ships comm unit chimed receipt of a signal and Zeerid killed the vid. Expecting planetary control, he reached for it but stopped halfway when he realized it was the encrypted subspace channel he used with The Exchange.

He considered ignoring the hail. Speaking to Oren so near to Vulta would soil his reunion with Arra. He did not want business on his mind when he saw his daughter.

The steady, red blink of the hail continued.

He relented, cursed, and hit the button to open the channel, hit it so hard that he cracked the plastoid. He tensed for what he would hear.

What? he barked.

For a moment Oren
  






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