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07.08.2012 , 10:17 AM |
, entry 3, because this knocked all kinds of ideas loose. Colran and Dolarra Niral. No spoilers. 1200 words.
5 BTC. The Niral compound, 200 km west of Kaas City.
Colran worked among the lilies in the Niral estate’s gardens. The gardens made a pleasant contrast to the turbulence of Kaas City, where he had spent close to nine years bailing against the bloody Sith tide.
He had dreamed last night. The third night in a row, blood on the snow. His dreams had gotten more vivid over the years. Many such dreams were random images; a few were scraps of something that felt like more. People, places, unfamiliar. He had never mentioned them to his schoolmates at the Korriban academy. His Jedi master had downplayed their significance…but always wanted to know what he recognized from them.
Once again, it was nothing Colran could make sense of. Snow was pretty universal. So was blood.
he wondered. He wondered that every few hours when she was out on a mission.
As if on cue, his holocommunicator buzzed. The holocall was from some obscured frequency. Likely Dolarra or one of her Intelligence colleagues, then. Colran hurried to the full-size holo inside the house and activated the line.
The image was somewhat sketchy, but it was Dolarra, bundled up in slightly bulky full-coverage clothes. “Hey, stranger,” she said. “How’s the lap of luxury treating you?”
“Awfully comfortable. Your daughter’s enjoying it, too. You should come visit sometime.”
She grinned. “What, and miss out on the march of civilization here? I have the honor to be addressing you from a brand new comm station, first one we’ve ever had around here. It’s all very posh.” Her tone softened. “We’re making progress, love.”
Where? Is it Imperial space, or at least some place we’re close to securing?
“Good,” he said. “Let me fetch Ruth, I’ll only be a moment.”
Their four-year-old daughter was the spitting image of her mother. Colran swept her up out of the playroom. “Guess who called?” he said.
Ruth’s eyes lit up. “Mum!” He never brought her to the holo for anybody else.
Colran carried Ruth back out to the holo room, but the image there was fuzzing and flickering, then filling out to a textured white, like snow. Before he reached the base the image flared and vanished.
He took a few seconds playing with the controls, trying to reestablish contact, but he had no luck. He had a bad feeling about it.
“Whoops,” he told Ruth, with more cheer than he felt. “Mum went and had to go work more.”
Ruth made a face. “Mum should work here.”
“Right here? In the house?”
“She wouldn’t have a lot to do here.”
“I could make Empire enemies. Mister Gundark could be an Empire enemy to fight.”
“Bah. I bet she could bring Mister Gundark around in three seconds flat.”
Ruth considered. She seemed genuinely torn as to who would prevail. “Maaaaybe,” she said doubtfully. “She should work here anyway. I miss her.”
“Me too, honey. Me too.”
“Can I have a cookie now?”
Trust Ruth to keep her priorities straight and focused. “Not now. Later, before bed, okay?”
He sent her on her way, then turned back to the holoprojector. He didn’t feel right about losing that call.
Some stranger at Imperial Intelligence HQ answered him. “Colran Niral,” said Colran, without giving the man a chance to start. “I just got off a holocall with my wife, Agent Dolarra. It cut off suddenly. I want to know why.”
“Was this call from HQ, my lord?”
“No, the field. Can’t you look up where she’s supposed to be?”
“That isn’t something I…”
“Something broke my wife’s call. I can’t reestablish contact. I want to know why. She’s a Cipher agent. Dolarra Niral.” There was a pause. “Hurry up already.”
“My lord, I’m not aware of any comms disruptions involving the agent you’re describing. Please calm down.”
Colran couldn’t seem to stop himself. “It was a new comm post someplace. You guys must have a record, you record everything you people do. It was less than five minutes ago, should be simple to look up, so just do it already.” A pause, while the man did something at a console. “Now!”
The man finally looked up. “I’ll need to transfer you,” he said.
His image gave way to that of a woman. Grey-haired, straight-backed, a creature of poise and determination. Colran had seen her once or twice in the five years since he had married Dolarra. This was Keeper herself, the spymaster of the Empire.
“Tell me she’s coming home,” said Colran.
“You realize I can only release limited information, but – “
“Tell me Dolarra will be coming home.”
“We’ve lost comms with the location at which she has been working. It’ll be eighteen hours at a minimum before we can bring in the resources to reestablish communications, and that’s assuming the area isn’t too hot to operate in.”
Blood on the snow.
“Where is she? Csilla? Hoth? Ando Prime?”
Tell me it’s someplace warm. Please, tell me I’m wrong. Tell me it’s someplace warm.
“You know I can’t release that information. As soon as we have reestablished contact with her team, we will notify you.”
Colran thought back to what Dolarra had been wearing. Maybe it wasn’t cold-weather gear. Maybe it was some kind of tool-filled commando outfit. Or something.
Keeper spoke up. “We lose communications with some locations all the time. Simple factors disrupt it, and once supplies are in we fix it up again. There’s no reason to be alarmed.”
Yes, there is.
“There’s more to it than that. She was in a high-risk area, wasn’t she?”
“There’s a war on, Lord Niral. Every area is high-risk.”
“Where did you send my wife to die?”
“We have no reason to believe that anything has happened to her.”
Lies. Lies. Colran raised his hand and found it easy to gather the rush of rage necessary for the effort of Force choking through a visual link alone.
It was with an eerie calm that the choking woman made a hand signal. The comm line cut out.
He stood very still and felt very useless for a little while. Keeper was right, of course. There was no solid reason to worry. Nothing. These people had it well in hand. Somebody would repair a relay somewhere and Dolarra would be right back on holo.
This sick feeling he had couldn’t have anything to do with whatever was happening a galaxy away, on the other side of silence.
He shook himself. Checked the time. He had better get Ruth to sleep. He headed back to the playroom.
Ruth was bashing Mister Gundark into the floor. “Take that, Jedi!”
“Oh, sweetheart.” Ruth looked up and beamed at him. “I told you, even Jedi have loved ones. You should try talking to him first. Maybe make him your friend.”
Maybe not shoot out his holo. Maybe not shoot.
Ruth made a face. “Tried talking. He’s still mean.”
“Oh. Kill him dead, then.”
When she was done meting out justice, Colran stooped, ruffled her brown hair, and looked into those perfect blue eyes. Just like her mother’s. He hugged her very tightly. “Let’s get you to bed.”
“You said I could have cookies first.”
“A cookie. I did.” Colran forced himself to smile. “Come on, then.”
His dreams that night were blank, as if there were nothing left to see.
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