The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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07.01.2012 , 04:04 AM |
Broan was afraid. He did not have in his heart, not truly, to hurt a person. Surely, he thought; were they not in the wrong? Without warning, Captain Istier had ordered the crippled Imperial vessel boarded and its crew captured. That had been proven easier said than done. He was alone on the bridge of that ship now, his accompanying soldiers dead around him. Perhaps the rest of the parties were faring better. Lightsabre ready, he turned in a slow circle. He tried to focus on his lessons, to remember what he had been taught about fighting stealth opponents. It was almost disturbingly quiet on the bridge; even the hum of ship seemed subdued. After a moment he saw what he thought might be a good defensive position.
Pain burst in his elbow. The shock caused his to loosen his grip on his weapon. It was a momentary mistake, but one which could cost him his life. There was clatter and then something struck Broan in the face. After the blinding light subsided, he realised something: his lightsabre was gone. Cursing his foolishness, he grabbed a nearby chair. There was no sign of his opponent, but still he threw the chair. It smashed into a communications console, the satisfying thud aided by the Force. He was lucky. The console shuddered and released a wave of electricity.
"Impressive," The Lieutenant stood just to the side of the console, his stealth generator heavily damaged. Despite Broan's fervent wishes, the other man did not have his lightsabre. "Are you going to show me what else you can do?" He produced a knife and pistol. Broan could not help but think the Imperial was not taking this seriously. Was he simply not threatening? The Lieutenant was smiling at him; he seemed almost friendly. "Well?"
Broan launched some scrap from the semi-destroyed console. It would have been a debilitating blow, had it a chance connected. Alas, his opponent dodged with almost preternatural skill and disappeared. A fierce jolt of pain went out from his elbow as he grabbed another piece of metal from the console. Broan bit down, trying to concentrate against the pain, to ignore it. He again started his slow turn, keeping a keen grip on the metal, having it slowly rotate in the air. There was no stealth generator for the Lieutenant to hide behind now, which only left the ruined remains of the bridge. The emergency lights were flickering, alternately plunging the bridge into near-darkness or a dull red. Neither provided enough light to cast shadow. He widened his slow circle, cringing a moment when his shoe splashed in a puddle. Looking behind him, he knew it to be blood. The prone form of an Imperial naval woman was about to trip him up.
"Don't you care?" He spoke softly, more to himself than to his opponent. The woman might have been beautiful in life, but in death, her face was a contortion of rage and pain. He wanted to kneel down, to brush the hair from her face and put her at peace. There was still work to be down, however. Broan pitied these people, who were laying down their lives for such a worthless prize. Something changed; there was a slight movement in the dead woman's eye. Instinctively he released the held metal, shooting it off toward the viewing windows. There was a muffled curse. Broan had just enough time to see the Lieutenant fumble his pistol. He tore from the other man's grasp. "Don't you care!?"
"Busy." A flash of anger and contempt came over the Lieutenant's face. His body jerked. It was only a slight movement, but it was warning enough for Broan in his heightened state. He was able to deflect the grenade easily. It flew wide, exploding relatively harmlessly at the far end of the bridge. In spite of the deaths of his squad and the anger flaring in his gut, Broan did not want to kill this man. He leapt, taking advantage of a momentary weakness. It was clear that the Lieutenant was attempting to reassess his opponent, but Broan would give him no such chance.
They fell to the deck in a pile, Broan on top, the Lieutenant pinned to the floor. Though they were both of similar build, Broan had the advantage of his armour giving him weight. He caught the Imperial's right wrist, twisting it painfully, but avoiding any real damage. He thought, for a moment, that he had the advantage.
"Oh? Jedi carry spare lightsabres?" The Lieutenant wrapping his legs around Broan's waist accompanied his teasing tone. Broan blushed. He was being too easily distracted. Cold, sharp metal kissed his neck. It was a precarious position and Broan cursed himself again. The situation was not helped by the playful smile that greeted him when he looked down.
"No?" The grip around his waist tightened, pulling him closer to the body beneath. Broan bent upwards, his back protesting from the awkward movement. The knife followed, staying at his neck. With his free hand, Broan groped for the knife arm, but the blade started to bite. He froze.
"You can't win. Surrender."
"Oh, I think I can." The knife pressed closer and Broan could feel it parting his flesh.
"I don't want to hurt you."
The look of contempt returned.
"Well, you could have fooled me," The sound of explosive charges interrupted their conversation. Broan flinched, shocked by the sudden noise. "Ah, my reinforcements." The Lieutenant rolled, taking advantage of Broan's surprise, and reversed their positions. His conceited look of triumph quickly turned to that of horror. Republic troops filled the door. Broan tried to grab the man, but a swift kick to the ribs dissuaded him. The Lieutenant only managed to put two steps between himself and his attackers when there was another explosion. It was smaller than the first, but it sent him flying. He hit the floor, cracking his head against the metal.
"Concussion grenade: non-lethal. He ain't harmed," The soldier walked over to assist Broan to his feet. He waved the woman off; he was enough of an embarrassment without needing help to stand. "Much." She rolled the Imperial over with the toe of her boot, keeping her gun trained on him, though he was clearly unconscious.
"Lt. R. Windthorpe." Broan was finally able to see the man who had caused him so much trouble: the man who had killed so many of his squad. Metal poles clamped into the man's skull behind his ear, partially hidden by dark red hair. He would be strikingly handsome, Broan idly considered, should the bruising recede.
"That's the one, take him aboard." Major Andrix motioned to two of her soldiers. A makeshift gurney was produced and the Lieutenant was rather unceremoniously loaded on.
"You know this man?" Broan took deep breathes, centring himself, calming his emotions. Major Andrix shrugged, an odd sight given her layers of armour.
"C'pain asked for him. Didn't say why. It matter?"
"Perhaps. Perhaps not," He wiped the sweat from his brow and turned to the remaining active consoles. "Is it possible to get these operational again? We should at least discover their reason for being in this region of space and why they were adrift."
Major Andrix laughed and her squad followed suit. "Already know the reason! Done up by a bunch of pirates, weren't they? On their way to bomb some orphanages, I'll grant. That's all Imps are good for. That and taking bullets," She waved her arm, making the complicated gestures that called for a slicer. "But, if you insist."
Broan winced at the slight burning sensation. The cut was only shallow, but the medics were not about to allow it to heal naturally. As one had said to him, 'there is a wealth of germs in space and your neck's an open invitation'.
"Where is the Lieutenant that was brought aboard? Is he not being treated for his wounds?" He rubbed the sore point on his neck, feeling the beginnings of a small scar. The medic looked at him, a small twinkle of mirth in his eyes.
"He wasn't too badly injured, so once we made sure he wasn't about to up and die on us, Major Andrix had him thrown in with the rest of them," There was a heavy click as the cauterising case was shut. "He did take a nasty bump to the head, of course. Still unconscious when they dumped him in there, from what I gather."
"I see, thank you Cilar." Broan could make out the man's quiet chuckles as he walked from the medical centre. In the corridor outside he turned, intending to go to the
's bridge. It was some forty minutes away, through winding corridors designed to confuse and disorientate any boarders. Broan often walked the maze that was the ship, finding the aimless wandering to be a far more effective method of relaxation than traditional meditation. Half way to the bridge, he changed his mind and instead made his way to Master Ashari's quarters. After another hour or so of rambling corridors, he found himself in front of a non-descript door, situated in a rather mundane part of the ship.
"Hello again, Broan. I see you are doing well." Master Ashari approached the door from the other end of the corridor at the same time as he. Ever present at her side was the youngling Madisha. The pair of Miraluka looked at him expectantly.
"Master Ashari, I was wondering..." He faltered, suddenly unsure of why he had decided to see her. He stammered a moment, but Master Ashari merely smiled serenely and permitted him entrance. "Did you... where you aware that Captain Istier knows the recently captured Lieutenant Windthorpe?"
"Oh, she does not know him, Broan," Master Ashari sat behind her desk, folding her hands on the surface. Every movement she made was calculated: pure in its intent. Broan had always admired that quality of hers. Madisha sat on the floor in the corner and began to meditate. "No," Master Ashari continued. "Captain Istier merely wishes to further the goals of the Republic and so the capturing of the..." She paused, calling up information on the Imperial ship via her desk holo-projector. "
," She raised an eyebrow at this, the arch of which Broan could see clearly over her veil. "Was justified and required. Any indication that Captain Istier knew the Lieutenant or any other members of the crew prior to the boarding is mere conjecture."
Broan crossed his arms, unconvinced by Master Ashari's words. "I still believe that there is something that we are not being told about this ship."
"Be that as it may," Master Ashari followed him, her gaze level, as he paced about the room. "They were on a course set for the frontline fighting in this system, likely to provide support."
"With blankets and snacks?" Broan snapped, whirling to face her. He jabbed a finger at the data slides littering her desk. "This is a transport vessel, from the records we found they carry civilians as often as they do Sith. They weren't supplying weapons, not on a route littered with slavers."
"Slavers which are likely in the employ of the Empire. Calm yourself, Broan. Their vessel was crippled, we did them a service."
"By butchering their crew?"
"Major Andrix has already stated that the force used was necessary. The Imperials put up a stiff resistance, they do not surrender willingly."
Broan began his pacing anew, thinking the situation over. "I wish to see Lieutenant Windthorpe."
"He is currently being interrogated by Security Chief Jarel." Madisha's voice was quiet, but firm and sure. Broan froze in his pacing, aghast at this revelation.
"What for? We know the reason for the
's presence in this system."
"He has connections to a particular Sith Lord, one who is wanted for crimes committed in Republic space." Madisha did not raise her head to look at him and seemed to be still deep in meditation. Master Ashari said nothing, but her face suddenly became hard and her lips white.
He walked from her quarters without another word.
Metal connected with flesh. Rochester bit back a whimper, pulling away from the pain. The rod came down again, smacking into his back and shoulder. He lay on the floor, the cold metal of it pressed against his chest. His right arm was quite useless, but he was not sure why. There was a garbled command and again the rod hit him in the back. A shadow passed over his face before his head was yanked up, fingers digging into his scalp, unable to gain purchase on his hair. The Twi'lek spat in his face.
"Where is she?" He slammed Rochester's head against the floor. Stars danced in his eyes and he groaned in pain. "She's your mother, you little bastard, now tell me where she is!"
"Let it go, Jarel, she probably dumped as a bairn for not being 'sithy' enough." Major Andrix pushed herself away from the wall and walked over to the Imperial. She poked him in the side with her boot, indifferent to the pain it caused.
"Maybe if I hit him harder..." Jarel lifted his arm thoughtfully. He was well built; a life of hauling heavy weaponry had made his arms as thick as trees. Rochester braced himself for another blow.
"What in the Order's name is going on in here?"
Jarel dropped the rod. It bounced off Rochester's back and rolled onto the floor. Broan stood in the doorway struggling, and failing, to control his anger. Major Andrix regarded the Jedi for a moment before speaking.
"Jarel and I are conducting an interrogation, Master Jedi." She smiled, but her expression was far from friendly.
"No, you are not. Get out." He stepped into the room, squaring up against Jarel. Jarel turned to Andrix, chuckled, and walked out.
"Perhaps you should speak with Captain Istier, Master Jedi." Andrix purred in his ear as she left.
"They stripped him and beat him. That was not an interrogation, it was torture." Broan kept his hands crossed against his top lip, not looking at Master Ashari. He sat leaning on the medical bed and she stood beside him. The Lieutenant was cuffed to the bed. The precaution was unnecessary; however, it was unlikely he would be able to go anywhere. Though his wounds were not necessarily fatal, they were certainly debilitating. His right shoulder had been dislocated, his ribs bruised if not broken. Captain Istier had refused the use of a kolto tank, citing the myriad of her own troops who occupied them.
"He is the son of a Sith Lord and an Imperial, neither is easily broken."
"Ah yes, this ever present Sith Lord. Tell me, what exactly are her crimes if they permit this?" He gestured to the broken man who lay on the bed, his contempt of the situation evident.
"It is a long and complex history, Broan, and not one to be discussed here," Master Ashari turned, effectively cutting off Broan's retort. "Captain Istier." She nodded to the other woman in greeting and then promptly left the medical centre. Captain Istier watched her leave, saying nothing. They were in silence for a few long minutes.
"Did you know your patient here is awake?" She said at length, snatching the breathing mask from Rochester's face. Immediately a change came over the man, he started to claw at the sheets and fight against his restraints.
"Give that back." Broan stood, sending his chair screeching across the floor.
"Don't do this Master Jedi, you don't want to fight me on this." She braced her arm as her grabbed her wrist, keeping the mask.
"Oh, I think I do."
"Are you getting angry with me, Master Jedi?" She stared at him, infuriatingly calm. Her eyes were unnaturally cold, something Broan had not seen before; it reminded him of someone dead. "Has it ever occurred to you, that Master Ashari and the youngling Madisha bear a remarkable resemblance to each other?" There were notes of sorrow and anger in her voice, but they did not seem to be directed at anyone in particular.
"Put the mask back," His anger was getting the better of him and Broan allowed the Force to influence his words. Almost mechanically, Captain Istier complied, replacing the mask upon Rochester, allowing him to breather once more. "Get out." She left.
Wearied, Broan retrieved his chair and took up his vigil once more. Grey eyes met his as he turned to the man on the bed. He sighed under the continued scrutiny, but said nothing.
This takes place several months before the events of Culture Shock, in case anyone was wondering.
P.S. It's only 2,781 words. It just looks longer >.>