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10.29.2012 , 11:36 AM | #124
CHRONICLES PRESENT, 41: In which the party gets started in earnest

Time period: After Quinn leaves

In the ancient temple courtyard amidst the blood-red sunset mists, Quinn was waiting.

The Mirialan Jedi Knight emerged from the great tunnel that pierced the outer wall. He had his expected cronies in tow: the looming Sith known as Lord Scourge, the slim Jedi Kira, the armored Chagrian Rusk, the little astromech T7-01 struggling noticeably with the mossy uneven stonework and the smarmy dead weight known only as Doc.

Rho stopped his friends with a gesture when he saw Quinn.

"The Hero of Tython," Quinn said coolly. He arched an eyebrow at Rho's companions. "And his little Doc, too."

"General," said the Jedi, eyeing Quinn's rank insignia. "It's been a long time."

"Yes, I had hoped you had developed the sense to stay out of the Empire's way after our last encounter."

"I must go where I'm needed," Rho said piously.

Doc was looking around suspiciously. "You didn't bring the Wrath with you, did you?"

Quinn scowled. "I do have a solo career, you know."

"Oh." Doc relaxed. "That's a shame, because she was a lot more pleasant to look at."

"I must ask you to stand aside," said Rho. "We have to stop the ritual that's happening in that building."

"What you think you have to do is of no concern to me. My concern is what you're not going to do, and here and now that is dictated by me."

"I don't want to hurt you," said Rho.

"Jedi, you couldn't manage to stop me when I was dead. You certainly can't stop me now."

"You have backup, then? I'll be honest, I expected to see you with the Wrath."

"My assignment took me elsewhere."

Weapons-grade compassion started oozing out of Rho's manner. "General, what happened to her? I sense the pain in you."

"Jedi," Quinn said coldly. "The last time you pressed me on the subject of the Wrath, I arranged an inescapable trap on six hours' notice and would gladly have killed you on the spot were it not for the fact that I had something infinitely more important on my mind." He took a step closer. "That moderating influence is no longer in my life. So take care not to irritate me."

Rho raised his hands defensively. "I'm just saying. Some people behave less like murderous psychopaths when they talk about what's bothering them."

"I'm not some people." Quinn returned to parade rest. "Return to Republic space. Get a job. Meet some nice Jedi girl who will give you fat Jedi children." Kira abruptly appeared to choke on something, but Rho didn't seem to notice. "Do anything at all, but don't do it where I might find you again."

"The Emperor's going to destroy the galaxy, you know. You should join us instead of opposing us. Your cunning would be a great asset in our fight to preserve life."

"Have you lost your mind?" said Quinn. "Associating with the incompetent half-Jedi that was Jaesa Wilsaam was pain enough for one lifetime. Two lifetimes, actually. Or rather one and a fraction. In any case, if you think I'm going to voluntarily ally myself with a Jedi again, you're even madder than the rest of your kind."

"So you would rather die with everyone than join your strength to our cause?"

"I don't fear death these days." Quinn flashed a white smile. "I should think you would have noticed that by now."

"That's great and all," said Doc, "but let's face it, Rho's gonna win this one. So before all that goes down and me right now here isn't death, don't get mad I still do owe you something from our Ord Mantell encounter." He swaggered up close, chest out, body language belligerent in every way. "This is for Balmorra."

Quinn did a conspicuously bad job of suppressing a smile. When Doc threw a punch, Quinn neatly sidestepped it, caught Doc's arm, turned him off balance and pulled him into a headlock, his arm hard against Doc's throat.

"Were you expecting that to go better the second time?" Quinn asked mockingly.

"Huh," Doc said nervously. "Actually, yeah. I kind of was."

Rho's Force wave separated the two, sending both sprawling. "I can't let you stop me," said the Jedi, starting quickly up the stairs to the Temple.

Quinn didn't bother standing up. "I'm not giving you a choice." He tapped his comm earpiece once, then slammed the activation on a personal shield generator.

The walls on all sides of the courtyard blew.

Quinn was moving even before the secondary collapse started rolling enormous chunks of masonry down over the site of the confrontation. A speeder prepared in a sheltered corner nearby brought him rapidly around to the shuttle pad where the rest of his team waited. As they took flight, a small wing of Imperial bombers appeared through the red-soaked mists to finish the job.

"We heard the whole thing," Rylon said excitedly. "That was great!"

"You all did well setting the charges as rapidly as you did. The interior?"

"We made sure the inner sanctum wouldn't take any damage," said Ritter.

"Excellent. This is exactly the kind of professional efficiency I had long ago despaired of finding."

"Give us a job, we do it," growled Ritter. "Simple as that."

"I wonder what 'ritual' the Jedi was talking about?" said Pandorr.

Quinn wondered, too. "I don't know. If the Wrath were here she could invite herself in and ask, but she isn't. We are here to take orders, not understand them." He had really disliked that aspect of traditional military life, but that was how it went.

"There is nothing to understand," recited Hareth. "Only to serve and "

"And die, yes, we know," sighed Quinn.

"Furthermore, what'd he mean by 'The Emperor's going to destroy the galaxy'?" mused Rutau.

"He's making it up," said Quinn.

"The Hero of Tython is too honest for that," said Hareth. "Perhaps he realizes that our glorious master will consume the galaxy in flame after all."

"Or, more likely, the Jedi is mistaken," Quinn said impatiently. "The matter is closed."

"At least we got to blow him up," said Rylon.

Pandar giggled. "We got 'im good."

"Serves them right for taunting us about Balmorra," said Rutau. "The Empire doesn't give up that easily."

"No," agreed Quinn, and allowed himself a small smile. "We don't."
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