In which Quinn corners Pierce...
The next week passed by with little incident. Pierce continued to avoid him quite expertly for a man his size. Whenever Quinn tried to speak with him and no one else was around, Pierce would brush past him. If others were around he would quickly start up a conversation he knew would take hours to complete or he would go and pester Syla for “another round in the sack”.
Quinn was finally able to corner Pierce in the conference room one morning and block the exit, much to Pierce’s dismay. He could easily pick Quinn up, he was, what, a credit seventy-five? Instead, he crossed his arms and waited.
“I wanted to speak with each member of the crew personally about my actions aboard the transponder station and those concerning Darth Baras,” Quinn recited.
“No need, I understand,” Pierce said gruffly.
Quinn must have given him a quizzical expression because Pierce sighed dramatically and rolled his eyes.
“Imperial Intelligence ain’t the only ones with access to Castellan restraints, mate,” he explained with a sigh.
“That information is highly classified.”
“Not highly enough. I knew Cipher Nine before she dropped off radar,” he shrugged.
“You knew Cipher Nine?” Quinn asked in astonishment.
“Had sex a few times,” Pierce grinned. “Boy, the things they teach those Intelligence girls.”
Quinn looked at Pierce with a newfound respect. Not for his having nailed Cipher Nine (though she was quite pretty and he himself would jump at the chance, if only to pick her brain a bit), but for the fact he actually knew anything about Quinn outside of a “stick-up-the-*** killjoy in a grey uniform” (Pierce’s words, not his). Then, suddenly, a thought occurred.
“I haven’t told anyone about Baras’ use of my keyword,” Quinn said. Indeed he hadn’t. It was in his file, but that was for the eyes of the Dark Council only. In fact, Baras had to use the keyword only a handful of times before he trusted Quinn enough to carry out his will. Fear of a painful death caused by overuse of the keyword was what drove him most; his loyalty to the Empire came a sad second in his mind. What use what his loyalty if he didn’t have a mind left to be loyal with?
“I may have accessed a few files using Syla’s decryption codes a few times,” Pierce said shortly.
“How did you-?” he stopped when Pierce gave him a penetrating glance. Quinn snapped his mouth shut. He cleared his throat roughly and continued, “Alright then. That was all I had to say.”
“You owe me an apology,” Pierce said coarsely.
Quinn opened and closed his mouth several times. Pierce was right, of course. He owed everyone an apology, but getting them to listen to him was an entirely different matter. He pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger and squeezed his eyes shut. He never thought he’d apologize to Pierce for anything. With great reluctance, he straightened his stance and looked Pierce in the eye.
“I apologize for compromising the crew with my actions,” he announced hesitantly.
Pierce stared down at Quinn for a long moment. That was probably the best he was going to get from the small man under the circumstances. He grunted and waved Quinn off. He didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being forgiven, even if Pierce understood the reasons behind Quinn’s actions.
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Quinn said sincerely.
Pierce merely grunted and pushed passed Quinn. It was the longest conversation he had with anyone on board since being reinstated and it wasn’t filled with death threats. Something began nibbling at the back of his head. Why were they being so… calm about this?
Quinn accessed his personnel file later that evening in the relative privacy of his personal quarters. Curiosity, nothing more, he convinced himself. The file had been recently accessed and edited. Not good. With a measured breath, he opened his file and read the glowing screen.
Malavai Quinn, formerly Watcher 27. Removed from Watcher duty at the request of one Darth Baras. Tests show Malavai Quinn’s brain operates at ninety-seven percent capacity. Possible overexposure to SLV-16, Castellan restraints. Subject programmed at early age.
Recently transferred back into the care of Lord Syla. Lord Syla has agreed to leave Subject Malavai Quinn intact for study of long term-effects regarding Castellan restraints. Subject is believed to be operating below ninety-seven percent. Main cause appears to be post-traumatic stress from a near death experience involving Lord Syla. Opportunity to study subject’s brain may arise in the near future.
Quinn tossed the datapad across the room in disgust. It clattered to the floor, innocently still glowing with information. An unwitting test subject. Darth Baras. Everything in his life circled back to Darth Baras and his damned manipulations. When he didn’t die on the transponder station, Baras contacted him, gloating that no mere Imperial could take down all he had built. Didn’t he know better by now? Foolish boy. Syla would destroy him. Slowly. Baras would enjoy his pain until the day he could strike Quinn down permanently. Personally. Driving his saber through his Imperial skull.
The crew. The crew was avoiding him because he wasn’t worth the effort. A cracked Imperial, hyped up on medication to keep him mostly calm who suffered from night terrors and who would soon be dead anyway. Why bother with him? He wasn’t worth their time, their effort, their emotion. He wasn’t worth anything. Not to Baras. Not to Syla. Not to the crew. Not even to himself. Well, if that’s how they wanted to play it fine. No one would get to study his brain if he had anything to do with it. He would die worthless and stay that way.
He grabbed his datapad from the floor and began to gather his things. Lord Syla would leave in four minutes for Corellia and he wanted to be there in the thick of things. If he was lucky, he would freeze up and a kindly Sith Lord would chop his useless head from his shoulders. Ninety-seven percent, indeed. He met the crew at the airlock as they waited to depart. He nodded to Lord Syla. He was ready. She flashed him a toothy grin and opened the airlock. Pierce clapped him on the back in a friendly manner, if a bit hard (he refrained from breaking into a coughing fit by sheer will) and the rest of the crew silently accepted him into their ranks. He walked down the docking ramp with grim determination. To battle, Malavai.