The fiery orange inferno of what used to be Starkiller Base was a magnificent sight to see. Following close behind the Millenium Falcon, Jaycob Flesio a.k.a. Blue Leader, an experienced A-Wing and B-Wing pilot born and raised on the outer rim world of Nar Shaddaa, initiated the hyperspace sequence. Launching into the bright blue abyss, he took a glance down at his singular small NavComputer screen. With the twist of a knob, the screen's images switched from a Targeting Computer to an up-to-date roster of his squadron of A-Wings. Shaking his head, Jaycob closed his eyes in both sadness and disappointment in himself, after realizing only 5 of his 12 interceptors were still standing. He transferred the casualties to a file card which he would reveal later, during the debrief, if there was one.
"General Organa isn't gonna like this."
he thought and spoke aloud. Without realizing his comms were still on, it came as a surprise that his squadmate, Jessika Pava, replied.
"Isn't gonna like what Jay? Lighten up a bit. We just destroyed Starkiller! I'm sure that'll count for something right?"
She stated enthusiastically. Jaycob had took into account destroying the base as a way to "cushion" the bad news he was inevitably bringing, however it didn't go over so well in his head. On another note, Jessika had always been Jaycob's friend, ever since he joined the Resistance. She always brought this upbeat, ecstatic tone to his life that he so desperately needed. She was the polar opposite of him, personality-wise. This was beneficial to their relationship since they kept each other in check, and balanced each other out.
"Leia said everybody comes home...and I couldn't accomplish that. Once again, I put my personal hatred towards the FO before my responsibility as a leader. She wouldn't like this."
He replied waving around the casualties card. When Jaycob first joined the Resistance, there were 20 A-Wings in total. Poe Dameron, commander of the fleet, hand-picked Jaycob to lead the A-Wing corps due to his prior experience back on Nar Shaddaa. Sure Jaycob's flown earlier models of the A-Wing while competing in races and what not, he was good with it. But he's never been placed in a leadership position before; briefing his team, making detailed plans, making sure their morale was high, and most importantly, dealing with loss were all things he didn't deal with, until now. Every pilot he doesn't bring home is another friend or family member that won't ever be seen again. That thought alone placed enormous pressure on his shoulders.
"Jay, don't worry about that now. Be IN the moment. Stop making yourself feel like it's your fault. You'll never grow as a leader that way."
Taking a deep breath and slipping the card into his flight suit pocket, Jaycob responded,
"You're right Jess. I'm sorry."
The lightspeed journey was long and restless. Finally seeing the green lush forests of D'Qar was a sight for sore eyes. Initiating the landing sequence, Jaycob couldn't think of anything other than his deceased comrades, and sleep. As he touched down, he opened the cockpit and took off his helmet. He sat idly in his seat, letting the sun rays engulf his face, enjoying the warmth. Jaycob's mind flooded with the fond memories he'd shared with those squadmates that were killed. These memories overwhelmed his emotions so violently that he couldn't help but shed a tear. He knew some of them had family waiting for their return, one that would never come. And even worse, some had children.
Tears trickled down like the waterfalls of Naboo, as he cried silently. One part of him wanted to be left alone and part of him didn't.
"Hey. Are you alright?"
A familiar voice said. Thinking it was Jessika again, he didn't bother to look up.
"I don't know if I can take much more of this. I feel like I...I don't have what it takes to lead this squad anymore."
"You know at time likes this, my father back on the farm on Pippip 3 would tell me one thing. Remember the good times you've had with those people, but don't dwell on it. What's done is done."
That was strange. Jaycob knew for a fact Jessika didn't grow up on a farm, and certainly not from Pippip 3. Out of curiosity, he opened his eyes. Standing beside him was the new girl, Tallissan Lintra. She rested her arms on his A-Wing's left laser cannon, looking at him with caring eyes. Her, along with many other newbies, were assigned to Jaycob's squad mere moments before the Starkiller attack. He was embarrassed that the first face-to-face encounter they would have started with him crying. Quickly, he tried to wipe away his eyes with his gloved hands. The fabric poked his eye, causing him to let out out a small wince of pain. She saw this, and giggled.
"You don't have to act tough around me. I already know you're one of the best pilots here."
"Really? Who'd you hear that from?"
"Nobody. That's just what I think."
Jaycob smiled at the compliment. He was familiar of her and her aid missions helping out with Cobalt and Crimson Squadron, and the mission to eliminate pirates in the Cassander system, but he's never talked to her or seen her in person before. Looking at her now, he was astonished at how beautiful she actually was. He was mesmerized in a trance of admiration towards her in a way that couldn't be described. Her warm smile, her dirty-blonde hair(tied up in some sort of bun), her beautiful facial features, and her petite body all seemed...angelic. In just a matter of seconds, Jaycob already formed a strong affectionate attraction towards her.
"I think you're a fine leader. We got the mission done and that's all that matters. Now come on, we have a debrief in the meeting hall."
The debrief was drawn out and boring, listening to the other pilots discuss their experience wasn't all that entertaining. Jaycob sat next to Tallie in the, now almost empty, circle of chairs with a hologram table in the center. He was on the verge of dozing off when he felt a poke in his side. It was from Tallie, reminding him that his report was up next. General Organa spoke first,
"Blue Leader, do you have the casualty report?"
Giving a short glance down at the ground and onto his flight suit, he pulled out the card, stood up and walked to her. Handing it to General Organa, Jaycob was unable to look her in the eyes. His inability to keep his promise ate him alive. Keeping his head down and his arms crossed, he waited for the general to insert the card. Once she did, she let out a loud, drawn out sigh.
She simply stated. Looking up at the holograms of 5 A-Wings and 7 X's, Jaycob also let out a deep sigh. The room was dead silent. He cleared his throat and said,
"Blue 2, Blue 3, Blue 4, Blue 9, Blue 10, Blue 11, and Blue 12 were all killed in action. It was my fault they were destroyed. When Commander Dameron was making his attack run into the Thermal Oscillator, I commanded my squad to cover from outside the trench and engage any turbolasers in his path. I didn't send anyone to cover us from the TIE's...without cover, we were picked off one by one."
Yet another hole in one of Jaycob's many flawed tactics. Looking through the hologram he could see Jessika, her eyes also down, looking the most hurt out of every other pilot in the room. Jaycob wanted to say he was sorry, but he maintained his composure.
"Our fleet is spread thin as it is. The bombers from Crimson and Cobalt will be returning shortly from the Atterra system. Tallie and Jessika, I want you to brief them on what happened while they were gone. Everybody needs to be on the same page. Jaycob, I need to speak with you privately."
General Organa concluded. As the debrief was dismissed, Jaycob watched as the two girls and the rest of the pilots exited the building, leaving him alone. Whatever the general was about to say to him would not be good, Jaycob braced for the worst.
"You're wreckless Jaycob, much like Poe. No wonder you two are such good friends. But, I know what it feels like to lose family. You cannot keep using your brother as an excuse to avoid responsibility. We're part of something much bigger than you and I, you have people that are counting on you to bring them home. I know it's a lot to take in but you need to get that through your head."
Jaycob looked away at the mention of his brother. Jaysen was on Jakku, aiding in the recovery of the last piece of the map. A map which would lead to the legend that is, Luke Skywalker. Jessika was obsessed with the myth and would never let Jaycob hear the end of it. Babbling on and on about laser swords and lifting rocks and destroying the Death Star, he was slightly sick of hearing it. Jaysen was killed along with Lor San Tekka and the rest of the villagers at the hands of the First Order and Jaycob vowed that he would kill every last one of them until his brother was avenged. Amidst his fury, he would create over-complicated plans that put his entire squad at risk. Thus, killing 15 Resistance pilots in total.
"Walk with me."
She commanded. They walked and talked in the direction of the bomber bay. General Organa and Jaycob spoke about their past, their adventures, and their achievements. Jaycob was astonished at the level of maturity and responsibility the general had when she was his age, taking note. Eventually, they stopped at the empty bomber landing pads, where Jessika and Tallie awaited the fleet's return. The landing area was meant to store the Resistance's fleet of MG-100 StarFortress SF-17's, which were coming back from a relief mission to the twin planets of Atterra. General Organa dismissed Jaycob, now concentrating on the bombers coming into orbit.
Uninterested, Jaycob turned around and decided to head back to the barracks to catch up on some much-needed R&R. His personal quarters were small and he was roommates with Poe Dameron. Opening the door, Jaycob wasn't surprised to see that he was still working on stitching his jacket back together from when the previous user tried to fight Kylo Ren one-on-one. Changing out of his flight suit, Jaycob asked,
"How's that jacket coming along?"
"It's y'know, getting there. But what I wanna talk about is that debrief. What did Leia tell you afterwards?"
"Nothing really, she brought up my brother as an excuse on why I'm making all of these terrible decisions. But that's not true, my brother isn't the problem."
Poe stopped sewing and looked up with a sarcastic face.
"Are you sure? Before I told you your brother passed away, you were an ace pilot and a good tactician. That's the reason I chose you to be Blue Leader. Now, you're just an ace pilot."
"Thanks for that."
Jaycob replied letting out a snicker. Once in his normal clothes, he fell onto his bunk face-first, and let out a deep sigh of relief. Even though it wasn't comfortable, the bunk was still something he could sleep on. Almost drifting off, Poe cut into his trance and asked,
"So what do you think of the new girl?"
Obviously referring to Tallie. Jaycob turned his head to face Poe, but stared off into a wall. He was trying to find the right words to describe her.
Jaycob replied stupidly.
Poe said chuckling.
"Uh, at flying of course. She's a great pilot, she almost beat my kill count."
Jaycob tried to recover.
"Yeah alright buddy. Just be careful, you know how relationships go in the Resistance."
"Careful? What do you mean careful? Relationships? I just met the girl!"
Jaycob could feel his face starting to heat up as he realized how naive he sounded.
"Oh shut up. She's hot, I'll give you that."
Poe was right, but Jaycob wouldn't let him know it.
"Can we talk about something more relevant please? Like those B-Wings? How are they coming along?"
Jaycob eagerly tried to change the subject. The revived B-Wing program was currently underway in the Resistance workshop. A few had been assembled with all the necessary upgrades, but the goal was for an entire squad. The original plan was to have Jaycob take the helm as commander of White Squadron: a squad of purely B-Wings to be used as "destroyer-killers". In other words, they would be able to take down the capital starships of any fleet. Jaycob would have to give up his commanding seat as Blue Leader and elect one of his teammates to take over the A-Wing regiment. Blue 2 was his first choice, but he was killed in battle, leaving the job still up for grabs.
"Actually, I think we'll have a functioning squad up by tomorrow morning."
Poe replied, still attempting to sew the jacket together.
"Good to hear."
Jaycob stated. With that, he shut his eyelids one last time to get some sleep.