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07.28.2012 , 07:18 AM |
with Wynston, Imperial Agent, spoilers through Act 2, 700 words.
Wynston considered his options. He was in a little bunker on Hoth, surrounded by representatives of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force. He was currently under compulsion to work for the Republic while pretending to work for Imperial Intelligence who was farming him out to the CEDF to infiltrate a rogue Imperial Army element and get…something. He didn’t even know what. The clock was running on the serum that might break his vulnerability to Republic commands. Maybe it would work before he damned more of his Imperial countrymen. Maybe it wouldn’t.
This was just another work day, and most days he could deal with it. But the Chiss had just driven him over the edge.
He was reluctant to do something as obvious as what he was about to do, but he was desperate. He located Kaliyo’s assigned footlocker and filched one of her flasks. The green vodka, she rarely drank that stuff anyway. It was more of an emergency reserve/conversation piece for her.
He headed down to a supply room and perched on the edge of a pallet there, letting the darkness whisper to him. He was tired of voices. Oh well. That’s what the vodka was for.
He didn’t care enough to get up when the door opened. “Wynston,” said Vector. The Joiner turned on the lights – ouch, dammit – and regarded him with unreadable black eyes for a moment. “We do not wish to intrude.”
“It’s all right. What can I do for you?” Wynston stashed the flask in his pocket.
Vector shut the door and came to sit beside him. “We are somewhat lacking in guidance here. We can deal with the CEDF as a military organization, but we know very little about the specific protocol.”
Wynston had some good ideas about what to do with the CEDF, but they were decidedly unprofessional. “Treat them like the Imperial military, but be aware that the Chiss have an even more highly developed superiority complex.’”
“You are not fond of them. It was…less than politic for you to throw Aristocra Saganu’s greeting in his face.”
“He had no business ‘welcoming me home’ to his operation. If Saganu or anyone wants to start rhapsodizing on what a proud son of the Chiss I am, he can bloody well…” Wynston stopped himself. It was hard; he was on his last nerve, and Saganu’s gall had really gotten to him. “You’re right, of course. I’ll tone it down.”
“It would ease things. You are doing well, all in all. We know this assignment has been very difficult for you.”
Oh, you really don’t.
“I’ve been behaving that badly, hmm?”
“That badly,” Vector said wryly, looking at the pocket Wynston had hidden the flask in.
Then they just sat for a while.
“You should understand,” Wynston said eventually, “in the Ascendancy my family and I were scum. You’d be surprised what it took to get rabble that poor and that low-caste off the old colony world at all. The Empire rewards merit. The Ascendancy simply suffocates or outright kills it if it starts in the wrong place. They may be our allies, but I won’t make them my friends.” He buried his face in his hands. “I’m not what I was then. I don’t need the reminder now.”
After a pause, Vector spoke gently, lightly. “And we always thought you sprang full-formed from the head of the Imperial Intelligence training program. This evidence to the contrary is unexpected. But your secret is safe with us.”
Vector gave him another few moments; then, in standing up, the Joiner laid a hand on Wynston’s shoulder very briefly and squeezed. Then he backed toward the door. “We will leave you be. We can do most of the talking with the Chiss tomorrow if that would facilitate matters.”
“No. No, I can guarantee you one professional Wynston in the morning.” He smiled as best he could. “We’ll do this right.”
“We have every confidence in you.” Vector headed out.
I think I might be working with an actual friend, thought Wynston, with some surprise. If they notice, and that serum I cooked up doesn’t work its magic soon, I bet they’re going to make me kill him.
You picked a hell of a time to get chummy, Vector.
Yay, having a friend! That brings Wynston up to two if he counts Ruth, who unfortunately can’t be around to support him on a regular basis. Meanwhile, this is one of the rare occasions where Vector discovers a temporary weakness in Wynston’s armor.
(For some reason Wynston doesn’t confide in Kaliyo, nor seek her out for reassurance, nor even consider her a friend in the I-think-you-would-have-my-back sense. Go figure.)
I actually have no idea what the Ascendancy is like, but, after seeing how aliens are treated in-game, I had to imagine a setting that would be so bad that a Chiss family would voluntarily immigrate to the Empire. Rigid social and economic inequalities could do the trick.
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