This is a work of fan fiction. No monetary profit has been gained from its production and no copyright infringement is intended. The Star Wars characters and events used in this fan fiction are the property of George Lucas. Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston invented or shaped most of the characters with whom I'm playing, so my special thanks go to them for writing such great novels and comics. If you would like to republish the fanfic, please ask me. Any comments are very welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hobbie pulled his blanket over his head, trying in vain to ignore the sobs from the nearby bed. He sighed. He wished he could help his brother, ease his pain. He knew very well how he felt, but there was nothing he could do. *Damn.* The kid didn't deserve to be treated like this. With sudden determination, Hobbie got up and tiptoed to his brother's bed.
The boy's sobs stopped as he slowly turned his head to his older brother. In the pale moonlight that fell into their room the tears glistened on Kolya's face.
"It hurts so much, Hobbie."
"I know." He knelt down beside the bed. "I know. But it will soon get better. You've survived worse." He awkwardly patted the boy's head.
"I really did my best this time. I've worked so hard, but I will never fulfill his expectations. I'm just too dumb."
"Stop talking such nonsense. It isn't your fault that--" Abruptly Hobbie fell silent and listened intently. He thought he'd heard someone in the hallway. Suddenly the door opened with a soft hiss and a person entered the room. Hobbie tensed. With the brightly lit hallway behind, he could only detect a dark silhouette. The door closed again.
"It's just me."
The familiar voice made Hobbie's heart jump, and he had to restrain himself from yelling. "Sid!" He leapt up and enthusiastically flung his arms around the other's neck. "Sid! What are you doing here?"
"I've got leave." He hugged Hobbie closely.
Kolya had followed his brother and now stood before Sid, too, his shoulders slumped. Kneeling down, Sid carefully grabbed Kolya's arms. The boy managed a weak smile, but the tears were still streaming down his face. When Sid drew Kolya toward him and embraced him, he began to weep again bitterly.
"It's okay." Consolingly he caressed Kolya's back and tousled his hair. The boy buried his face in Sid's jacket and held him tight, as if he expected him to suddenly disappear again. Sid looked up to Hobbie.
"I know. Kessy told me." Sid sighed.
"I really tried, Sid. I worked so hard. Last term I spent almost every evening at my desk, and my marks +did+ improve. They're much better than last time, but he doesn't care. He doesn't accept anything but excellent. But I can't do better."
"You did great, Kol. Ignore Father. You don't go to school for him, but for yourself. You did your best, and you improved. That's all that counts."
"I wish I were as bright as you are, Sid. And as strong."
"You are, little brother, you are." He carefully lifted him up and carried him back to his bed. "Try to sleep now."
"Will you sleep in my bed with me, Sid? Please."
His brother smiled. "I will." He lightly kissed him on the forehead, then turned to his other brother. "Are you okay, Hob?"
"Yeah, I am. I missed you." He sat down on the bed next to Kolya. "I thought you wouldn't get leave for another three months."
His brother started to undo the buttons of his jacket. "Well, the +Agitator+ is in orbit around Ralltiir, and everyone got two days off to spend dirtside. I'm just lucky that my family and friends live here."
"The +Agitator+? I thought you were on the +Devastator+?"
"I was. I've been transferred recently."
The sound of steps in the hallway interrupted Hobbie. Quickly he returned to his own bed and slid underneath his blanket. All three held their breath, but the steps soon retreated again.
"We'd better be quiet, guys. Good night."
"Good night, Sid."
*It's as if he'd never been away.* Hobbie smiled slightly, but a lump formed in his throat when he remembered that Sid would leave again the next morning. Kolya and Kessy huddled against their oldest brother, giggling quietly when Sid told them about a joke a fellow cadet had played at the academy. Lahika, his other sister, sat cross-legged beside Hobbie, her head on his shoulder, smiling happily.
Sid sat up carefully, tousling his siblings' hair. "I'm afraid you guys have to do your homework now." Apparently noticing the disappointment on their faces, he added, "You'll get into trouble if you don't. I'll take a walk through the city, and when I'm back and you're done with your work, I'll tell you another story. Okay?"
His siblings nodded, but nevertheless they were very reluctant to return to their desks. Sid had to gently shove his sisters out of the room. He then returned to Kolya who stared sadly at his math book. "Will you manage?"
The boy shrugged. "I don't know."
"Try it, okay? I'll be back soon, and then I'll help you if you have trouble with something."
When he was at the stairs, Sid turned around to Hobbie who was following him. "You don't have homework to do?"
Hobbie shook his head. "We are working on a project this week, collecting historical evidence on how much Ralltiir has profited by the New Order." He'd tried to keep his voice neutral, but judging from his brother's warning glance he apparently hadn't succeeded. He quickly changed the subject. "Can I go along?"
Sid smiled. "Sure."
After visiting a few places in town, the two brothers climbed up to the top of the cliffs which rose steeply behind the narrow sand beaches on both sides of the city. Most people never bothered to walk up there, and Hobbie loved the silence. He often sat there for hours, overlooking the ocean. When he'd still been at home, Sid had sometimes joined him, but generally his brother was more of a people person who felt best with lots of friends around him.
But he had changed. Most of his friends whom they'd met in town probably hadn't noticed, but Hobbie sensed an uneasiness that was very unusual for his brother. Even when the trouble at home had become almost impossible to bear, Sid had never lost his optimism and good humor.
"Do you still come up here often, Hobbie?"
"Yes, I do. As often as possible. I sometimes just need to be all by myself."
"I don't think I've been alone even once in the last three years, except in the cockpit of a TIE fighter." Sid buried his hands deep in his pockets and thoughtfully looked across the ocean.
"Do you like flying?"
"In simulation, yes. In reality, no. I probably would if I could forget that it's a weapon I'm flying, not a toy. And if I didn't know that every mistake could be my last one."
"You are scared?" Hobbie couldn't hide his surprise. *Sid, afraid?*
His brother sighed. "To be honest, yes, I am. I've seen a lot of people die around me, and I'm all too aware that every day might be my last one. I don't want to die, Hobbie. Not now. There is so much I still want to do in my life." He hesitated. "But more likely than not I won't survive the next months."
Hobbie just stared at him for several seconds, too shocked to speak. *What had happened to Sid? Why did he talk like this?* "Sid, what... You can't be serious. You won't die. Why... what has happened?"
"The +Agitator+ will take part in a mission which is meant to put an end to the Rebellion, once and for all. I don't know any details, but they have doubled the number of TIE wings on each ship. Rumor has it that they expect many casualties among the pilots."
"You're going to fight against the Rebels?"
The tone of Hobbie's voice caused Sid to raise his eyebrows. He'd always known of his brother's Rebel sympathies, but he didn't share them. "Yes, I will. You apparently still spend too much time with idealists like Yegori. Most of the so-called Rebels are nothing else but ordinary criminals, smugglers and pirates."
Hobbie didn't reply. They'd had this argument more than once, and he hadn't any proof that Sid was wrong, of course. And he didn't feel like fighting. That his brother expected to die soon had shaken him to the bones.
Sid examined his brother's features closely before he continued. "I'm glad I got transferred to the +Agitator+. I asked for the transfer. It's dangerous, but it's the right choice." He sighed deeply. "I know how you think of the Rebellion, and in part you are right. But demonstrating for changes is one thing, starting a civil war is another." He fell silent for a long time. "And at least the Rebels will be able to fight back."
"What? What do you mean?"
"Two months ago the +Devastator+ was sent to Rednilyc. There had been riots for weeks, and the Empire sent a Star Destroyer to show strength. But our captain wasn't content with threatening, he wanted to demonstrate the Empire's power. So we were ordered to fly against the rioters. Most of them were unarmed, Hobbie, and there were children among them. And we slaughtered them. +I+ slaughtered them. I shouldn't have. I should have refused. I'm sure if one of us had refused, most of the other pilots would have followed his lead. But I didn't. I got my orders, and I executed them. And I hate myself for it. After we had left Rednilyc, I requested a transfer. And I got transferred."
"To a suicide mission."
Sid smiled, but his voice betrayed the helplessness he felt. "Yes."
Hobbie grabbed his brother's shoulders. "Don't go, Sid. Run away. There are people on Ralltiir who would hide you."
"Desert? No, never." Abruptly he turned away from Hobbie. "I might be scared, but I'm no coward."
"But you know the Empire is wrong. If you find out you're fighting for the wrong cause, you have to stop. There is no shame in deserting, there is shame in staying."
His brother whirled around angrily, and for a moment Hobbie was sure he would hit him. But he didn't.
"Shame in staying? I have friends up there on the +Agitator+, and on other ships in the fleet. I can't desert them. And most definitely I can't fight against them. How can you ask me to betray them?" Sid inhaled deeply a few times and continued in a calmer voice. "I know things are happening in the Empire that are wrong. But it's not the whole Empire. It's huge, and there are always people like the +Devastator's+ captain who overstep their limits. And the Emperor can't oversee everything. I'm sure if he'd known he'd have stopped the slaughter."
Hobbie snorted. "How often have I heard that argument? If the Emperor knew... he is the Emperor, it's his job to know what's going on!"
"The Empire is big, Hobbie. And I don't deny that there are also principal problems which can't be blamed on a single person. I really respect people like Yegori and his parents who are committed to reach reforms peacefully. But the Rebels bring war to the galaxy, and many people die because of them."
His younger brother bit his lip for a while before he eventually answered in a very tight voice. "Yegori's mother is dead."
"What? What happened?"
"She was arrested after the last riot, about a year ago, and she died in custody not much later. She was already ill, a result of the many years she'd spent in prison before, and that new arrest was too much for her. And Yegori was expelled from school. Our principal doesn't want any students whose parents are rioters." Frustrated Hobbie turned around and kicked a stone over the edge of the cliff. "I suppose Father had a hand in this; he is always trying to separate me from Yegori."
Sid gently put his arms around his brother and rested his chin on the smaller boy's shoulder. "I'm sorry to hear this. Please tell Yegori that I'm sorry."
He was silent for a few minutes. "I understand that you are angry, Hobbie. But you know only Ralltiir, and just this part of it. I've met many people from other planets at the academy and in the Navy, and I've learned about many good things the New Order has brought. During the Clone Wars many planets suffered, and afterwards the people were poor, and there was no one to protect them from pirates and marauding bands of mercenaries. They were glad when peace and stability returned to the galaxy, and they still are. The things we both don't like about the Empire will improve, I'm sure of it. Be patient."
When Hobbie didn't reply, he turned him around and cupped his chin in his hand. "Be careful, Hobbie. I don't want you to be imprisoned or die because you want too much at once."
"I am careful, Sid. Too careful, probably." Hobbie rested his head on his brother's shoulder. "But you have to be careful, too. You can't die out there, you can't. What would we do without you?"
Sid regarded him seriously. "If something happens to me, you have to take care of Lahika, Kessy, and Kolya, Hobbie. Try to help them as good as you can. And please don't tell them what I've just told you. I don't want to scare them." He sighed deeply. "Since I learned about our mission a few days ago, I am afraid, really afraid. I never knew how much I love to live. I'll do my best out there, but if it's not enough, it's not enough."
Hobbie hurried back home. During the ballgame with his friends he had lost track of time, and now he was late. Tardiness was one of the many things his father didn't tolerate at all. He was about to cross the street in front of his home when he noticed two stormtroopers leaving his parents' house. That itself wasn't unusual; as head of the city's security forces his father often dealt with the stormtroops, but somehow Hobbie knew that this time something was wrong. With a very bad feeling he strode across the street and entered the house, barely in time for dinner.
The whole family was already assembled around the dinner table. His father frowned at him, but didn't comment on Hobbie being just in time. He sat down, and the bad feeling intensified when he noticed the tense atmosphere. His father's expression was neutral, but his mother looked pale, and his siblings seemed to be confused.
His father cleared his throat. "I have to announce bad news. We have been just informed that your brother was killed in action eight days ago."
*No.* Hobbie just stared at his plate, his mind and body completely frozen. *Not Sid. No.* He barely heard the rest of his father's speech.
"Your brother's unit was ambushed by so-called Rebel forces. Our men were victorious over these cowardly terrorists, of course, but there were heavy casualties. I have been assured that our Navy pursued and destroyed each and every Rebel ship that was involved in the assault, so your brother can rest in peace, his murderers have met their just fate. He gave his life for the Empire, and we all should be very proud of him."
No one spoke. Hobbie glanced from one to another. His sisters looked very pale, and Kolya had tears in his eyes. Underneath the table he gently touched his brother's leg, hoping that the boy would manage to suppress his tears. Their serving droids brought the meal, and Hobbie started to eat mechanically. There was no way to comprehend what had happened. Sid would never return, never. The two days they'd spent together almost two months ago had been the last.
Hobbie flinched involuntarily when his father suddenly stood up angrily and moved around the table. But he wasn't the target, Kolya was. His father raised his hand and slapped the boy in the neck, hard. "Stop crying. You're such a baby. What would your brother think if he would see you like this?"
Kolya didn't reply, he just ducked a little. Hobbie knew that his little brother tried to stop crying, but he didn't succeed. Tears were still running down his face.
"I said stop crying." His father raised his hand once more, but before he could hit Kolya again, Hobbie leapt up and intercepted the blow. His father stared at him in utter disbelief, too surprised to say anything.
Hobbie ignored him -- and his trembling knees -- for the moment and turned to his brother. "Kolya, go to our room. Now." His brother hesitated a second, but then he jumped up and ran out of the room. Hobbie let go of his father's hand, certain that he would taste it instantly. But apparently his father was too surprised to punish him immediately. He lowered his hand.
"How dare you oppose me, Derek!" His voice was harsh, but there was still a hint of disbelief noticeable in it.
"Kolya is a child, and you just told him that his brother is dead. How can you expect him not to cry?" To his own surprise Hobbie's voice was calm.
Before his father could answer, his mother intervened. "He is old enough to control his emotions. We are all sad about Sidrek's death, but instead of crying, he should be proud of him and take him as a role model."
"Your mother is right. Listen to her. Both you and Kolya have a very long way to go before you are such a man as your brother was." His father stepped back a little. "Go to my office and wait for me there. After I've finished dinner, I'll teach you some discipline."
Hobbie looked at him defiantly for a few more seconds, then cast down his eyes and did as ordered.
As Hobbie left his father's office he slowly let out the breath he'd been holding. After the door had slammed shut behind him, he stopped in the empty hallway. His shoulders slumped, and he covered his eyes with his right hand, allowing himself to give in to the pain for a moment. The house was completely silent, not even one of the droids was hurrying around. With a deep sigh Hobbie braced himself again and slowly walked to the stairs.
His siblings were all assembled in his room when Hobbie entered. All three jumped up and ran to him, clinging to him as if he were a rock in a wild river. He hugged all of them closely and held them tight, but he couldn't think of any consoling words to say. *Oh Sid. I wish you were here now.*
Hobbie jumped when his comlink beeped. "Yes?"
"Derek, come down to my office immediately," his father ordered.
"Yes, sir." There was no other possible answer. With a sigh he stood up from his desk. Kolya had glanced at him quickly, but he had already returned his attention to his homework.
Hobbie paused for a moment, trying to read his brother's expression. The boy looked pale and sad. In the four months since Sid's death Kolya had become more and more quiet, bottling up his feelings. Sometimes he reminded Hobbie more of a droid than of a child. He had never cried again openly, but sometimes at night Hobbie heard him sob quietly. It tore him apart to see his brother like this, but he had no idea how to help him. Sid had always found the right words.
With some effort he pushed away the sad thoughts. It was better not to keep his father waiting.
When Hobbie entered the office, his father shoved away the datapad he'd been working with. He scrutinized his son for a moment, than he gestured at a chair in front of the desk. "Sit down."
Hobbie did his best to hide his surprise. Being asked to sit down was very unusual, and it made him feel uneasy. Something was up. Silently he sat down and waited for his father to explain what he wanted from him.
"Derek, your mother and I think it's about time to decide upon your future. Your last year in school has just begun. We have discussed this topic over the last several days, and we've come to the decision that it will be best for you to attend the Imperial Military Academy like your brother."
Hobbie felt his stomach slowly folding on itself. *No, please, no. I don't want to become an Imperial soldier, and I don't want to die like Sid.* He clasped the armrests of his chair and tried to remain calm.
His father obviously didn't expect any comment from his son; he continued without a pause. Hobbie barely noticed what he was saying.
"This will be a very beneficial experience for you. You spend too much time day-dreaming, and some of your so-called friends have a very bad influence on you. The academy will form you and make you a better man and better citizen of the Empire. You'll get the chance to serve our Emperor, and to see what's really going on in the galaxy, how important strong military forces are for peace and stability. I know that some of the rioters' arguments held a certain fascination for you, but you'll soon learn what would happen if their demands were met. The Empire needs a strong hand, otherwise it'll fall into anarchy." He stopped and regarded his son intently.
Hobbie remained silent.
His father took a datacard from a drawer of his desk and held it out to him. "This is the application form for the academy. Fill it in by tomorrow. You may leave now."
Hobbie took it with a slightly trembling hand. If his father had noticed his unease, he didn't comment on it. "Thank you, sir." His legs felt like lead as he slowly left the room.
From his place high up in a tree, Hobbie watched Yegori carefully looking around as he slowly climbed up the cliffs. He was sure his friend was searching for him, but he didn't know if he wanted company. Since he'd learned of his father's orders he'd mostly kept to himself, avoiding his friends. He needed some time alone to come to terms with his feelings. But he also longed for someone to talk to, and Yegori was a great listener.
The other boy was approaching the tree now, and Hobbie whistled. Yegori looked around surprised, then he detected his friend in the tree and started to run.
"Here you are. I haven't seen you for almost two weeks, and I was worried. Is something wrong, Hobbie?"
"You could say so. Come up."
Awkwardly, Yegori climbed up the tree. Hobbie watched him with amusement. The other was intelligent and a quick thinker, but his fingers were all thumbs. With a worried expression on his face Yegori carefully sat down next to Hobbie. "Do you really need to climb up a tree for thinking?"
Hobbie smiled. "I like it up here."
Hobbie sighed. "My parents have decided what I will do after school."
"They want me to attend the Imperial Military Academy like Sid."
Yegori stared at him openmouthed. "You won't go, will you?"
"I hardly have a choice."
"But you can't. Hobbie, you can't join the Imperial military. You know what's going on. If you do that, you'll help the Empire to oppress its people. Do you really want to become a weapon of the Emperor, a murderer?"
"Watch your language." Hobbie glared at his friend angrily. "Sid was a soldier, and he was no murderer."
Yegori looked down for a moment. "I'm sorry. I know Sid was a great guy, and though we didn't agree on many things, I'm sure he meant well. Most soldiers probably do. But still they are part of the military, and without his military forces the Emperor would be nothing. He uses his soldiers to oppress his own people. You know that. If you join the Navy, you'll become a part of it."
"No, I won't."
"What do you mean?"
"I've thought about this thoroughly, Yegori. It would be crazy to run away from home now. Father would hunt me down, and not only punish me but especially the people who've helped me. If it were otherwise, I would have left home long ago."
"Your father's influence isn't that big. I know people who can hide you. Somewhere on the other side of Ralltiir. Or even off-planet."
"But you and your father would be on top of Father's suspect list. You know that. It's too dangerous. Besides, I don't think it would be wise to reject the opportunity to go to the academy."
When Hobbie noticed the other's stunned look, he smiled slightly. "As I said, Yegori, I've thought this through. At the moment, I have nothing to offer to the Rebels. I can't talk like you, can't convince people, and I have no other abilities. I can't slice computers or repair ships or fight. Yet. But at the academy they will train me. Piloting, shooting, tactics, everything. I'm not going to use it for the Empire, but against it."
"Wait, Hobbie, wait!" Yegori sounded as if he were close to panic. If he hadn't been scared of heights, he probably would have let go of the branch he was clinging to, grabbed Hobbie by the shoulders, and shaken him. "You want to become a soldier, and then defect and fight for the Rebellion? You can't be serious."
"Look who's talking. You are the one who's secretly working on overthrowing our current government."
"We don't want to overthrow it. We want democratic elections. And we'll reach this goal. Soon. And peacefully. The people become more and more impatient with the governor, and the support for our movement becomes stronger and stronger. But being part of a peaceful local political resistance movement is one thing, fighting for a galaxy-wide Rebellion is another." He fell silent for a while. "You know, Hobbie, my father thinks that fighting isn't the right way, that a civil war will bring pain and misery, but gain nothing. I'm not so sure. Maybe there is no other way. But it's dangerous. More likely than not, you'll never see the things you're fighting for come true. You've made a brave choice, Hob, but you have to know -- and accept -- the price you will probably pay."
Hobbie didn't answer immediately, but stared across the ocean for several minutes. When he turned around to face his friend again, he felt a seriousness and determination that he'd never thought he possessed.
"I know it, and I accept it. As much as possible. No one can really accept, or even comprehend, death. You know, Sid knew he would die. He knew it was a suicide mission, but he saw no other way. Dying in battle or oppressing and slaughtering civilians, those were the only choices he thought he had, and he chose death. It was a brave choice, but useless. He fought against the only people who might -- might -- overthrow the Emperor and bring back democracy. Maybe what I'm about to do is useless, too. Or even wrong. Perhaps one day I'll stand before the smoking ruins of a torn-apart galaxy and know I made the wrong choice. But right now I can't see any other way. Someone has to act."
"If you stick to your decision, I wish you the best of luck, Hobbie. But if you reconsider, come back. I have no idea how to contact the Rebels, but I know a lot of people on Ralltiir. People who will welcome and help you. Whatever you do, remember that I'll always support you."
Hobbie smiled sadly. He knew Yegori was very serious about it, and it felt great to have such a friend. But he also knew he would probably never see his friend again after he'd left Ralltiir. Not his friends nor his siblings. That was the worst part.
Yegori had apparently read his thoughts. "You think you'll never return, don't you? Don't give up hope. I'm sure Ralltiir will become democratic again soon, and there is nothing the Emperor can do about it. This is a core world, not some out-of-the-way planet no one cares about. Then you can come back, and we can fight together."
"Thanks, Yegori, and good luck to you, too. Maybe ten years from now we'll sit here again and laugh about the sad thoughts we had today."
Yegori smiled, but neither really believed this was likely to happen.
The faintly audible ringing of bells interrupted the silence. "Seven o'clock. When do you have to be home, Hobbie?"
"At six." Hobbie wasn't worried.
"What? Hurry home! Your father will be furious."
"I don't care."
"Hobbie." Yegori looked at his friend resigned. "Don't provoke him. It's not worth the pain."
Hobbie sighed. "Maybe it's not. But I always do what he wants. I never oppose him. And I'm sick of it."
"If you weren't opposing him, we wouldn't be sitting here talking."
"Yeah, but I only oppose him secretly, never openly. Only twice in my whole life have I dared to confront him, all the other times I just hung my head and obeyed. You know, Sid often opposed him, he even dared to shout at him, and while Father made him pay for it dearly, I think he secretly respected Sid for his courage. I'm a nothing. I just function. Unobtrusive. Unimportant. The best thing he expects from me is getting killed in action so he can brag of two sons who gave their lives for the Empire."
"Don't talk like that." Yegori sounded horrified. "Not even about your father. And go home now. Being late and getting beaten won't gain you anything. Except a lot of pain and several weeks of confinement."
"I know." Hobbie grimaced. "If you don't see me over the next weeks, you know why."
The two young men returned to town in silence, both lost in unpleasant thoughts.
With a last glance at the contents of his bag, Hobbie closed the zipper and shouldered it. He hadn't packed much; academy rules were very strict and few personal belongings were permitted at all. A few clothes and holos, that was it. He was about to leave his room when the door opened and Kolya rushed in, breathing heavily. Hobbie put down his bag again and smiled broadly.
"You're still here. I was afraid I would miss you. Today of all days Revlis wouldn't stop talking."
"It's okay. You came back in time." He intently watched Kolya, who, as always, looked completely misplaced in his boy troop uniform. Suddenly the full force of the realization that he'd never see his brother again hit Hobbie. With a lump in his throat he hugged the boy and held him tightly. Kolya buried his face in his brother's tunic, fighting against tears. Finally he looked up again.
"Please be careful, Hob. You have to come back, you have to."
Hobbie felt his eyes filling with tears, and the temptation to tell Kolya the truth was almost too big to resist. But he couldn't tell him. Kolya would keep silent, that he was absolutely sure of, but it could get his brother into serious trouble. It was too dangerous. "I will not die, Kolya." Hobbie hoped that he sounded more confident than he felt.
With a hiss the door opened again, and their sisters came in. "Father is waiting for you downstairs." Lahika's voice quivered, and Kessy was crying openly.
Hobbie squeezed his brother one more time. "Take care, Kolya." He embraced his sisters and kissed both lightly on the cheek. "You, too. Stick together, you three. And don't worry about me. I'll be careful." He reached for his bag. "You'd better stay here."
At the door, Hobbie turned around again and smiled at his siblings. "I'll write to you as often as possible. I promise." He hesitated briefly, then left with an inward sigh. He would find a way to notify them about his decision when he was with the Rebellion. He would.
Neither Hobbie nor his father talked on the way to the spaceport. Hobbie watched his surroundings intently, trying to memorize everything. Once he thought that he'd caught a glance of Yegori, but he wasn't sure. The town was the only place he knew in the whole galaxy, and he couldn't imagine he would never see it again.
At the spaceport they had to wait for half an hour before the ship was ready for boarding. Hobbie stared at the ground, glad that his father kept quiet. Finally his flight was called. At the gate he shook hands with his father.
"You have to work hard at the academy, Derek. Your brother finished as one of the top 10%, and I expect at least the same from you."
"I'll do my best, sir."
He had already turned around and was about to leave when his father said quietly, "Take care." Hobbie hesitated for a moment, but then walked on without looking back.
(c) Petra Genske, August 2001