It had been a month since the jump into hyperspace.
The first few days had been the worst, at least for Chev. The others had been confined to the hospital area of the base while they recuperated. They were unconscious much of the time and he was too busy being debriefed by Alliance Intelligence to visit them much anyway. When he wasn't telling his story over and over again he fled to his quarters to avoid having to talk to anyone. In many ways however, the solitude was worse. He found himself constantly haunted by those last few hours on Questal. After a week when everyone was pronounced fit for light duty, he had tried to talk to them each individually about what had happened, but it only served to make things worse.
The high command in its infinite wisdom had elected to have commendations attached to the personnel files of the team, including Tiree's. Apparently they were ecstatic about the fact that the group had seemingly destroyed a major Imperial source of duranium and knocked out the entire planetary garrison in one fell swoop. It mattered little that they had simply been fighting for their lives and had no control over what had happened. Victories were good for morale. That Tiree was unconscious for almost all of the major events was handily overlooked.
As the days passed however, the truth about what had happened on Questal began to surface. The Imperial Navy had blockaded the system and nothing was being allowed to leave or enter. The Imperial Ministry of Truth had announced that Questal had been swept by a virulent unknown plague and was therefore being quarantined for "reasons of galactic safety". The Alliance immediately moved to determine what was really happening through its network of spies in the fleet. Chev already knew some of what they would discover.
The spies reported that only a handful of ships had even attempted to leave Questal and run the blockade. The ones that did had exhibited all the characteristics of being piloted by madmen. One had even activated its hyperdrive while still inside the planet's gravity well and imploded. Classified Imperial casualty figures put the death toll in the millions, including the entire military garrison and ISB contingent. A half dozen TIE pilots and the crew of a customs frigate had escaped, apparently because they were on patrol and far enough from the surface that the energy waves hadn't affected them. Perhaps most disturbing was the report of one agent indicating that the Empire had sent at least three expeditions to the surface of Questal, attempting to determine what was happening. None of them had returned. The third attempt was composed entirely of stormtroopers, who had reported in only once after landing.
The report had apparently pushed Tiree to his limit. The next morning it was discovered that he had stolen an X-Wing and left the base without permission yet again. Chev knew where he was going.
"Questal. To run the blockade," he said to the others over the evening meal.
"He'll die then," Harn stated simply.
"Probably so," Chev said resignedly, "But maybe that's what he wants."
"What if he manages to get through somehow?" Chaar asked.
"Not bloody likely," Miles mumbled under his breath.
Chaar glanced at Miles. "But, I mean, what if? Do you think Tyerle and Rogan and the others could still be alive somehow?" He looked around the table. Harn stared at him with no expression. Alexis seemed preoccupied with her food. Miles averted his gaze and made a production out of adjusting his cigar. The Wookiee's eyes came to rest on Chev.
"They're dead," Chev said in a voice that allowed no room for debate. "All of them. Tyerle. Rogan. Lani Pegaan. All of themů"