Dorne looked at Lieutenant Jorgan with concern. He was Prudii’s friend–and more importantly a fine officer and soldier. She had to keep him alive.
She patched him up and then pressed IV needles into his arm. She sighed and sat down in the chair beside him.
They were en route to Coruscant, and Prudii was in the cockpit with Tanno and Yuun. Forex was shut down in the cargo hold.
“Jorgan,” she said quietly. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but it is scientifically proven that men and women in comas can sometimes comprehend what is going on around them even if they cannot react.”
She sighed. “I have to get this off my chest. I need to talk to someone. It’s about Captain Prudii. Everyone aboard the ship by now should be aware we have feelings for each other, but I wanted to say it aloud to someone other than him.”
Jorgan made no sign of moving–his heart rate did not increase and his eye movement did not change.
She continued, “We only shared a few personal memories and stories. After a while we admitted our fondness for each other. I just wanted to tell you.”
She stood and left him to rest, feeling better.
* * *
Yuun sat at the small table in Carrick Station’s cantina. After returning to Garza, Prudii had been promoted to Major–Jorgan, for his valor, had made Captain–Yuun and Dorne been given the title of Lieutenant–Vik had been promoted from specialist to Sergeant.
Yuun analyzed the situation. He did not know why they had been praised so. Surely Jorgan did deserve it, but the rest of them…they’d all done only what was necessary.
He voiced his doubts to Dorne and Vik.
Vik snorted, but Dorne said, “That, in itself, is why, Yuun. When men and women do things that are necessary, because it is necessary and not for promotion or praise, then they are deserving of the promotion.”
Yuun tilted his head. “Yuun may understand. In Gand society, we may only earn the right to name by achievements, but they must be achievements recognized by the Gand community, not by the Gand earning the name.”
He continued, “Those with some achievements to speak of earn a single name–like Yuun. Others with more achievements earn a personal name in addition to the surname. Only those recognized by all or most Gand can carry the right to speak in first person rather than third person. No matter what, we cannot earn the right by doing what we feel is a great achievement, but…what is extraordinary because it had to be done.”
Dorne considered. “What did you do to earn your name, Yuun?”
Yuun frowned under his mask, but forgave her. “It is not spoken of, because it is considered to be bragging.”
“I’m sorry,” Dorne said.
* * *
Tanno crossed his arms and looked up as Prudii entered the mess hall. He had something to say, but…it was awkward.
“Sir,” he said. “Can we talk?”
Prudii looked over at him. “Sure.”
Tanno leaned forward on the table, feeling his own awkwardness. He hated telling people about his flaws, but this was important.
“Sir, I have to tell you something.”
“I established that,” Prudii said with a smile. “What’s wrong?”
“I never told you why I joined the army, did I?”
“I wanted off Nar Shaddaa. See…life wasn’t so good there, running from gang to gang, working for whoever was protecting my part of town. But I found an out, got off Nar Shaddaa, and found a way to keep using detonite.”
Prudii smiled. “Better than joining the Empire.”
Vik chuckled. “Yeah. I don’t think they tend to allow aliens as non-human as Weequay.”
“Why are you stalling?” Prudii asked.
“Because,” Vik said, realizing he’d have to come out. “I knew about the Gauntlet probably before anyone else did.”
Prudii’s eyes widened. “What? How?”
“When I stowed away aboard the cargo vessel, I overheard someone talking. He had an accent. He said the words ‘Gauntlet’ and ‘Empire’ a lot, and when I got closer I saw a hologram of the weapon. I never told anyone.”
“I…don’t know. But I never thought about it, not really. Not until Lieutenant Jorgan got hurt. And I started wondering: if I’d told the recruiter from the start, would they have dealt with it sooner? Would Jorgan not be hurt now?”
Prudii frowned. “It’s a good point, but you can’t dwell on it. Besides, I thought you didn’t like Jorgan. He…ah…explained things to you.”
Vik grunted. “He did. But I guess that earned my respect. I don’t like it when my teammates get hurt. I tend to react violently.”
Prudii nodded. “Then we’ll find some Imps really soon, okay?”
Vik grinned. “Sure.”
Prudii got up and turned to leave. “Oh. And I’m sure Jorgan will be fine.”
“I’m not gonna be his friend or anything,” Vik growled. “But…yeah.”