The Demolitions' Man
Back on the ship, they got a predictable call from the ever-persistent Zane. Jorgan considered letting it go unanswered, but his anger over the Deadeyes’ intentional capture led him to accept the call.
“Captain,” Zane growled. “Senior Agent Zane here. Apparently I didn’t make myself clear earlier. Or perhaps you thought an unauthorized rescue mission didn’t constitute as interfering?”
“Torve told us about your involvement in the Deadeyes’ capture,” Prudii said, a deadly edge to his voice. The man didn’t tolerate messing with the Republic’s troops.
“Considering how classified that information was, I do hope you had to torture Lieutenant Torve, Captain. I understand you’re concerned for your comrades, but you morons are only complicating things!”
“You are addressing the commander of Havoc Squad, Zane!” Jorgan hissed. “You will show him the proper respect.”
“Apologies,” Zane said, and sounded genuinely sorry. “But this is a delicate operation, and your continued involvement will only jeopardize its completion.”
“I’m not going to stop,” Prudii said. “Those men don’t deserve what they’re going through.”
“Then you can expect far worse than holocalls,” Zane snapped.
“Your operation’s falling apart, Zane,” Jorgan said. “Now either rescue the Deadeyes yourself or stay out of my way.”
“I don’t take orders from grunts. This mission is over when I say it.”
“I’ve had it with this guy,” Jorgan said. “Permission to cut him off, sir?”
“Granted,” Prudii replied.
“Now, wait–” Jorgan cut the link.
* * *
There was no time to further pursue the Deadeyes, because Garza relocated them to Balmorra.
The intel they’d gotten from the agent on Tatooine was about an Imperial superweapon called the Gauntlet, and Garza wanted to complete Havoc Squad for the mission.
Their first new recruit was a man named Tanno Vik, a Weequay who’d had quite a number of bad marks on his record. Apparently he was something of a rogue.
Jorgan would put him in his place.
* * *
As soon as he stepped out of the shuttle, Jorgan had to duck in order to avoid a giant green insectoid. As it flew over his head, Jorgan fired his rifle up into its chest.
“Colicoids,” a female Twi’lek in armor said. “They’re mutants. Commander Madine has been expecting you, Captain.”
Prudii nodded. “Let’s not keep him waiting.”
Jorgan stood at rear guard, with Prudii at point. As they approached the base, they had to ward off two more Colicoid attacks. When they reached the base a team of Republic soldiers ran up to guard their rear.
One saluted. “Captain. Commander Madine is waiting inside.”
Prudii nodded and ducked into the base. Jorgan followed him, clipping his rifle to his backpack. He glanced around. The base appeared to be in shambles.
“What a mess,” Jorgan muttered.
“I heard that,” Commander Madine said. “It’s good to meet you, Captain Prudii.”
Prudii saluted. “Sir. An honor.”
“I’m glad to have Havoc Squad on Balmorra,” Madine said. “Good to see Garza’s finally taking my request for Special Forces assistance seriously. Let’s get down to work.”
“Actually,” Prudii said awkwardly, “Garza did not send me here to help you. I’m sorry, but there’s a case of galactic crisis mounting and it is more important than any one planet. I’m here to recruit Sergeant Tanno Vik to Havoc Squad.”
Madine’s face darkened slightly. “Are you saying you will not assist my forces, Captain?”
Prudii shook his head. “Never, sir. I am just saying I am not at your complete disposal–any mission you assign me must be within reasonable correlation to Tanno Vik.”
“Very well,” Madine said quietly. “There’s a man in the Balmorran Resistance–Ardon. Speak to him, he’ll tell you where Vik is. I’ll give you your correlating assignment when you return.”
* * *
“Scanning sector two…nothing,” said a man to a Twi’lek in a Resistance uniform. “Just like the others, Prand.”
Prudii stood by quietly, waiting. Dorne scowled under her helmet. The man Ardon had been rude and standoffish when asked about Vik. He’d provided the information, reluctantly.
“Excuse me,” Prudii said to the Twi’lek. “I’m looking for Tanno Vik. Can you help me?”
The man jumped a little. “Ah! Oh, you’re with the Republic. I thought we were dead meat.”
“Looking for Vik, huh?” the Twi’lek asked. “That Weequay scumbag’s long gone.”
“What? Gone?” Prudii grunted. He was not in a forgiving mood. “I need to find him immediately.”
“Vik was here earlier,” said the Twi’lek. “But he slipped away when we weren’t looking–along with our entire security team!” He shook his head. “All he left was this holorecording.”
Dorne watched in an increasingly sour mood–and was disturbed that Prudii’s mood was affecting hers so much. She turned her attention back to the recording. Vik was a scumbag, no doubts there.
“The Republic wouldn’t get a mercenary for a top secret op,” Prudii said when the recording ended.
Jorgan nodded. “Vik’s a total liar, and a piece of scum. I’d rather have a traitor like Fuse on Havoc than that man. Just barely.”
“General Garza chose Vik!” Forex said. “I am sure he is the best for the job.”
Prudii barked out a sharp laugh. “Right. Sure.”
What was up his afterburner, Dorne wondered.
* * *
Tanno Vik raised his rifle and shot the Imperial in the gut. The trooper fell. Tanno ducked around the corner and pulled his arm in as a hail of bolts flew into the building. What was taking that Havoc man so blasted long?
“Sir!” said one of the Resistance forces. “There are too m–”
A blaster bolt slammed into his throat, killing him instantly. Vik snarled. He had no emotional attachment to these men–but they were his. It made his blood fill with fury to have something that was his taken away. He whirled and fired his rifle on full auto.
It clicked empty, and he threw it down and drew his vibrosword he charged out and cut down two, then three Imps–and dropped as a stream of stun bolts slammed into him.
Vik tried to stand. An Imperial officer stood over him. A dark grin on his face, Vik drew his pistol and blasted the Imp through his throat.
Then he passed out.
* * *
Vik awoke with a bad feeling about this. He grunted as someone slapped him, and then punched him. He looked up. Brel Orus crossed his arms and smirked.
“Again!” he yelled. “Hit him again! Make the thieving liar pay!”
Vik grunted as the fist slammed into his face again. He looked up. The hitter was an Imperial soldier. Behind him was a guard. And behind him…
Vik grinned. The Havoc Squad captain bashed the butt of his pistol into the back of the guard’s head.
“Ah,” he said. “Well it’s been fun, guys. But it looks like my ride’s here. Nice knowing you.”
“Drop your weapon–now!” the Imp said, his rifle shouldered.
“No way,” Prudii said. “You drop it, or you’re dead.”
Oh, Vik liked him.
“Shut up!” Orus said. “We don’t negotiate with riffraff! The Empire fears no one, isn’t that right?”
“Yes, sir,” the guard replied.
“Hands up,” the captain snapped. “Now!”
“Enough! Shoot him, shoot him!”
Orus whipped out his pistol, but Vik watched as the Havoc captain shot the weapon out of his hand, and then blasted the Imp in the chest.
Orus ran to hide, and Vik laughed at him as the woman behind the Havoc captain came up and untied him.
“Well, that was exciting,” said Vik. “Good to finally meet you in person, Captain.”
“Welcome to Havoc Squad, Vik,” the Captain replied. “I’m Prudii. This is Lieutenant Aric Jorgan, Sergeant Elara Dorne, and combat droid M1-4X.”
Vik said, “That’s something I never expected to hear. What does Havoc do with worthless enemy bureaucrats?”
Orus cowered. “Uh…let’s not be hasty, now. I am a man of honor, despite what you may have heard.”
Something about that made Prudii mad, because he punched Orus. Hard. Vik liked him.
“Don’t talk to me about honor, auretii,” Prudii snarled.
Vik tilted his head. That was a Mandalorian word. Interesting. He liked even more.
“Yeah, nice guy!” Vik snarled. “You stole from your people and betrayed them to the Empire by accident!”
“I’ve made mistakes, certainly,” admitted Orus. “But allow me to make amends. A contribution of credits, say, to repay the Republic’s heroism on behalf of my fellow Balmorrans?”
Prudii punched him again. “I don’t want your money, traitor. Get out of here before I decide to finish it.”
* * *
Prudii rubbed his hand. Jorgan winced. Orus was a thick man, so those punches must’ve hurt. Jorgan wondered if Prudii had been playing bad cop, or if he’d really been venting.
Either way, they had Vik.
“Here,” Prudii said.
He tossed Vik a box he’d been lugging on his back the whole time they’d been on Balmorra. Vik opened it and removed a set of fresh white Special Forces armor.
“All right,” Vik breathed. “I like it.”
“Welcome to Havoc, Specialist Vik,” Jorgan said.
“Thanks,” Vik replied. “Now, seeing as we’re on the same team, let me fill you in on my little operation. The vault we blew open is full of pricey prototype weapons designed by the Balmorran companies. Orus had them hidden before the Imperial invasion to ‘keep them safe’.”
Jorgan frowned. He wondered if Vik was being level with them. He glanced at Dorne, and saw that she was thinking the same thing.
“Orus never told the Imperials?” Prudii asked. He seemed interested.
“Of course not,” Vik replied. “He wanted to make money off them. Orus planned to sell the prototypes for a tidy profit. We could do the same–after picking a few choice items for ourselves.”
So that was Vik’s angle. Jorgan sighed. He would really need to straighten this guy out.
“Those prototypes should be put to good use,” said Prudii. “Not sold for profit. Imagine how the Republic could use them against the Empire. Or the Resistance, to free Balmorra?”
“Quite right, Captain,” said Dorne. “Those weapons must be turned over to the proper authorities, in accordance with Regulation 87-C.”
Jorgan nodded. “She’s right, sir.”
“I agree wholeheartedly!” Forex said. “The Republic could use these to great effect!”
Tanno shook his head. “I think you’ll change your mind once those blasters are in front of us. Let’s just get to the vault. If we don’t hurry, the Imperials might find the prototypes before us.”
* * *
When they reached the vault, Jorgan looked around while Vik called Commander Madine on his comlink, requesting a pickup squad.
When the squad arrived, Vik said, “Here they are, Sergeant. Go ahead and bring your men through. It’s clear.”
The sergeant, a Zabrak like Prudii, nodded and pressed a hand to his ear comlink. Three more troopers came in.
“Captain, this is Sergeant Tong,” Vik said. “I took the liberty of calling his transport team in to get these weapons crated up and ready for transport.”
“I appreciate you coming all this way to help us, Sergeant,” Prudii said.
“No problem, sir,” Tong said. “Hostile pickup is our specialty. Where can we take this stuff for you, sir?”
Jorgan and Dorne glanced at Prudii expectantly, as did Vik–but he expecting something entirely different.
“Yeah, sir.” Vik tilted his head. “Where are they taking all these highly useful, highly valuable prototype weapons?”
Jorgan shot him a warning glance. Vik took the hint and backed down. He had potential, at least.
“Send the weapons to Commander Madine,” Prudii said. “Tell him they’re to be dispensed evenly–half to the Balmorrans, and half back to Coruscant for General Garza.”
Jorgan and Dorne nodded in approval. It was a perfect solution.
“Copy that sir,” Tong said. “Get moving, men.”