Read an exclusive excerpt from Lydia Kang’s “No Big Deal.”
It’s a new life for Joss and Pikka Adren.
The former contractors helped build the Starlight Beacon, and bravely helped in the fallout from its destruction. Now members of the Republic Defense Corps, the husband-and-wife team must face real galactic threats. In StarWars.com’s exclusive excerpt of “No Big Deal” by Lydia Kang, an original Star Wars: The High Republic short story included in Star Wars Insider #222, we find the duo headed for a meeting on their next adventure…
Being on solid ground is supposed to be a comforting thing, especially on a planet like Eriadu. Here, everything on the planet was inviting – from the tavern-laden streets of the various cities, to snow-dusted mountains hiding their inner riches of lommite ore. The place begged you to keep your feet planted and stay.
For Joss Adren, feet solidly on the ground and with a foaming ale before him, he was nonetheless anxious to get back to the Aurora III, the Longbeam cruiser he and Pikka piloted for the Republic Defence Corps. Pikka and ship – that was comfort. That was home. She’d always patted the Aurie, as they’d nicknamed it, thanking it for saving their lives so many times. Speaking of Pikka, where was she?
He glanced around the commissary, busy with species from across the Mid Rim and Outer Rim territories. Two Ugnaughts, arguing over bowls of stew, another group of RDC officers rubbing their chins and occasionally glancing at Joss. He didn’t know them. There were more and more RDC personnel on the planet these days, but they were trying not to stick out too much. Eriadu wasn’t a place that enjoyed having a lot of off-world military muscle about. So it was no surprise that heads turned his way when Admiral Kronara and a young ensign at his side parted the crowds by the door and sat before Joss at his tiny table.
Joss was slowly growing accustomed to the rank and files formalities now that he and Pikka had been in the RDC since the fall of Starlight Beacon. But as soon as Joss began to stand, Admiral Kronara barely shook his head. Joss understood. This was not a time to bring attention to themselves.
“Good to see you again,” Kronara said in his gruff voice. “This is Ensign Ebbe Casset. New to the RDC, after working in the Malastare-Sullust Joint Task Force for a few years. Ensign, this is Captain Adren.”
“Oh!” Joss tried to rein in his surprise. “Casset… as in…”
“Yes, Hedda Casset was my aunt,” she said crisply. Not a sign of sadness on her unlined face. More like resolve. She probably got this response all the time.
“Wow. That must have been… wow,” Joss said. The young woman nodded with slight irritation, or perhaps sadness, before the steely resolve returned. Joss turned his head this way and that, looking for Pikka. Where was she? He was not good with being face to face with the discomfort of what had befallen Hedda Casset. If not for her, more would have died during the Great Hyperspace Disaster. She was a true hero. But she was also a reminder of how many lives had been lost in the last two years. Sometimes, Joss shivered at the thought that he and Pikka could have easily been on Starlight Beacon when it was destroyed a little more than a year ago.
“Where is Pikka? The other Captain Adren, that is,” Admiral Kronara said. “I believe she was going to be in this meeting?” He waved for a service droid.
Pikka had excused herself to wash up before sitting down, but it had been more than fifteen minutes. What was she doing? Pikka wasn’t the type of person to preen before a mirror. More likely, she had found a poorly constructed electrical circuit and was telling someone to get it fixed before they had a wire-fire on their hands.
A slim hand squeezed Joss’s shoulder and Pikka Adren slipped into the chair beside him. Joss tried not to beam, as he was wont to do whenever Pikka entered the room. He was terrifically proud of his wife. If it weren’t for Pikka, they wouldn’t have been able to change the operational code of their Longbeam when fighting the impossibly fast Nihil ships during the Battle of Kur. She pushed her wavy, deep brown hair away from her temples, her blue eyes glancing at Ebbe. Of late, there were dark circles under them. She’d been working too hard, but as always, Pikka never complained. She nodded to the admiral. Of course, she knew to play it casual so as not to bring attention to their group.
Pikka and Ebbe introduced themselves. Pikka’s eyebrows went up slightly at hearing Ebbe’s surname.
“Thank you for joining the RDC. It means a lot to many people,” Pikka said quietly. Unlike Joss, she always knew the right thing to say. Ebbe nodded, her eyes glazing for a moment with moisture. The wait staff droid arrived.
“We’re technically on duty, but I wouldn’t say no to an ale myself,” Admiral Kronara said, running a hand through his silver-streaked hair. “A round for the table?”
“Not during work,” Ebbe said, eyeing Admiral Kronara.
“In that case, two jogan juices,” Pikka said. She waved at the departing droid. “And some salted wuli nuts! I’m starving. So.” She leaned in close. “I take it you’re not telling us we have a well-deserved holiday coming. You have a mission to discuss?”