Don’t Call Them Ruth-Less: Tales of Wynston and Quinn
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08.14.2012 , 04:52 PM |
September, 28 ATC: Getting a job
“Heavy fire on our left, sir.”
Malavai Quinn stood in the command center and scanned the real-time map of the sprawling city. “I’m well aware. Bring up our center reserve, I want to keep the others on hold in case the Republic tries to sweep clear around the end.”
Which it did. The left reserve was available to counter the Republic’s move after they thought they had skirted the whole Imperial line. The Republic was thoroughly crushed on that flank.
He was about to transition to wrapup activities when news came of multiple fresh Republic squads stabbing at the battle’s center. Oddly, irrelevantly, he thought of a sunny afternoon among the mountains of some Core World about six months ago, standing outside the brilliant mixed crowd of his wife Ruth and her Jedi and Sith allies, taking out yet another circle of the Emperor's planet-killing cultists. Stopping another planet from dying. It had been a triumphant day. And here he was now, reduced to spending a week in a titanic struggle to secure another square mile of another pointless planet.
“Sir! They’re slamming our artillery. Two guns already down.”
He turned to his aide. "You know something? I don't care."
"I'm finished. This war can drag on perfectly well without me." And had, while he was on a leave of absence to assassinate the Empire’s own head of state. It had been necessary, but still: so much for patriotism. He raised his chin a little, called over to his subordinate, Major General Vance. "General, you have the command." And with that, Quinn turned on his heel, headed to the spaceport, and took his personal ship out.
He had hyperspace coordinates he hadn’t really planned on using, given to him by an ally he hadn’t really planned on seeing again, after a conversation he hadn’t really planned on allowing. The agent Wynston was Ruth’s friend, not Quinn’s, and it was Wynston’s mysterious galactic-protection organization that had dragged Ruth into the hunt that had killed her.
Plus, the man was just annoying.
Still, in some ways the work it offered was the closest thing Quinn could have to carrying out Ruth’s wishes out there. She had always favored protecting people, all populations, regardless of affiliation. She had wanted a galaxy where people were safe from the whims of the Sith as well as other major powers. Quinn knew Wynston’s agency sought that goal as well. It was a way to continue her work. And the prospect beat another twenty years of crawling through infinitely repetitive battles that simply could not keep his mind busy enough to avoid other, painful topics.
Quinn got automated clearance to land in a hangar of the massive Imperial cruiser he dropped out of hyperspace next to. When he left his Fury, one person stood in the hangar waiting for him.
The Chiss wasn’t quite the scarred Wynston he had last seen, the natural, real one. He was similar, still rather short, but this greeter was a little more muscular, with a different, finer-featured, scar-free face. Not for the first time, Quinn found himself envying the permanent disguise technology Wynston had integrated into his cybernetics.
"General," said Wynston.
"Agent," said Quinn. "You mentioned something about a job opening in your organization?"
Organization. Yes. Welcome.”
“Let’s not mince words. Why exactly are you welcoming a ‘perfidious bastard’ who ‘can’t be trusted outside shiv range and, for that matter, can’t be trusted within shiv range’ and furthermore ‘constitutes the single most irritating liability to a cause you’ve ever met’?”
“What, are those all the lines you remember from our illustrious joint career?”
“I could continue reciting, but I don’t want to be here all night. The question stands.”
The Chiss didn’t demonstrate a trace of self-consciousness. “Ruth believed in you. And I think, by the end, I trust her in that.”
“Just like that.”
“If you want to call ‘hunting down and killing the Emperor’ ‘just like that,’ then yes.” He shrugged. “Effective operatives are rare. Effective, experienced, and endorsed by the likes of Ruth? If you want the work, I’ll take you.”
“Hm.” Quinn looked around the hangar; it was unremarkable in every way. He wondered what was set up elsewhere in the ship. “Very well. Where do I start?”
“Well, I was going to be courteous and say we can play this two ways. You can work with me. I show you the ropes, do some ops with you. Or, I hand you off to Imperial Affairs and we just don’t talk to each other. You still get meaningful work and we don’t have to endure each other’s company.”
Phrased like that, it was a hell of a choice. Not working with Wynston would be a relief and a pleasure. At the same time, it meant learning his way around a new organization, surrounded by strangers who outranked him, who had no idea why some greying set-in-his-ways soldier was looking so moody all the time.
Working with Wynston would mean working with Wynston, which was terrible; but the Chiss knew him, knew his methods, respected his intellect if not his ethics, and most importantly, had known and valued Ruth. Quinn wasn’t quite sure he was ready to be alone in that mourning.
“Better the devil I know,” he said at last.
Wynston grinned. “I’m flattered. I’ll try not to ‘toss the mission out the window the next time some pretty thing in a skirt wanders by’ or otherwise demonstrate the ‘flagrant lack of professionalism’ that will ‘compromise everything for a moment’s cheap pleasure.’”
“It would be appreciated.”
“Come with me. We might have a couple of hours to look around before the next crisis hits.”
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