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11.26.2012 , 01:24 PM | #28
Chapter 20:
One Half Down

Garza assigned Havoc Squad to rescue a group of Senators captured by Imperial General Rakton–who had apparently been angered by the Gauntlet’s destruction. Dorne would have to stay on the ship to care for Jorgan, and Yuun would be aiding them from the Thunderclap–so it was just Prudii, Forex, and Vik for this op.

Vik loaded his rifle and calibrated the scope, but he put it back in its sling and drew his vibrosword–he’d really taken a shine to that weapon.

Grinning, he took a few test swings, slashing the air with the lethal blade. Satisfied, he held the weapon at guard position as Prudii guided the ship into the hangar on the tail of a Senatorial aide who had offered to cover for Havoc Squad.

Prudii said the man was brave, but Vik thought it was sheer stupidity.

The docking clamp sealed, and Vik and Forex charged in. Vik slashed through an Imp’s gut, the thrumming blade cutting through the armor like tin.

Prudii joined them in the entrance to the station. He glanced around and then flicked the safety off on his rifle.

“Let’s move, Havoc Squad!”

* * *

Yuun tapped his console patiently, eager to finish his task but also grateful for the chance to rest. He was a Findsman, so he seized a peaceful moment when he could–though that was difficult in the Republic Special Forces.

He hacked into the station’s security cameras so he would know when Major Prudii had reached the proper corridor. He frowned at what he saw.

Those Senators, for hostages, seemed rather calm, sitting in their seats around the table and talking to a holo of General Rakton.

“You have reached the passage from maintenance to crew area,” he said into his comlink. “Yuun now controls this door and all others, along with all security measures.”

He tapped several keys on his console. “You will be the only one able to pass from each room to the next. All Imperials will experience…” he pondered the right words, “technical difficulties.”

“Good job, Lieutenant,” Prudii said.

“Life sign scanners show many, many guards within the crew area,” Yuun added. The holocams in that area had been blacked out. “The battle to reach the hostages is sure to be fierce, Major–please, journey cautiously.”

“I will, Yuun,” Prudii promised. “Thanks.”

Yuun closed the link and turned to ponder this situation, as well as the war at large. Finally, he did not like the conclusions he was arriving at, so he stood to find company.

He walked into the medbay and found Dorne sitting in a chair beside Jorgan’s bed, a datapad in her hand. He sat on Jorgan’s other side.

“How is he?” Yuun asked.

“He is recovering remarkably,” Dorne said. “It may be his Cathar biology. In any case, he should be able to return to duty by the time we reach our next assignment.”

Jorgan groaned and sat up. “That’s good,” he said. “Because I don’t like being in here while the others are out there.”

“I know exactly how you feel,” Dorne said.

She and Jorgan exchanged glances, and Yuun realized that something had passed between them. He closed his eyes and considered. It was quite possible that Dorne had told Jorgan something while they had been alone.

Yes, he decided. She had. It had been about Prudii.

* * *

Vik cut down the last of the guards outside the main conference room. They could see inside, and Vik didn’t like what he was seeing. A pair of Imp guards stood around the table, and the Senators were treating them like sand panthers.

In the center of the table was a holo of General Rakton.

“Weapons down!” Prudii said. “Freeze!”

The Imps whirled and, of course, opened fire. Vik leapt in, swinging his blade. He cut one guard’s rifle in half, and then impaled the guard. Prudii and Forex blasted the other guard.

Abruptly, a squad of Imperials came in behind them. Vik whirled and caught one of the Imps’ shots on his shoulder plate. The shot ricocheted off and left a black scar. Vik sheathed his blade, pulled out his rifle, and opened fire. The three members of Havoc were formidable even without their squad mates. Soon, all Imperial ambushers fell.

“Who are you?” Rakton demanded. “Who are you?”

“Havoc Squad,” Prudii said proudly. “You’d best remember us, because we aren’t going to stop haunting you until you’re behind bars.”

“We’ll certainly be seeing more of each other,” Rakton growled. “I’ll make sure of that. You’ll face justice for all you’ve done. My men’ sacrifice will be avenged–and the Emperor’s justice will be served.”

Rakton’s holo vanished. Vik scowled and gently kicked the chair of one of the Senators. The man jumped up, as did the others.

“We’re saved!” one said. “The Republic has saved us! Thank you, thank you.”

“Shut your mouth, traitor!” said another man in obvious kingly attire. He was Nautolan–so was the aide who’d helped them arrive. “You don’t even deserve to breath the same air as the rest of us.”

Vik grinned. He loved watching bureaucrats fight.

Another man said, “These cowards were signing on with Rakton–they traded their planets to the Empire in exchange for lifetime leadership.”

Icily, Prudii said, “Is that true?”

The first man said, “What choice did we have? Our lives were at stake–our peoples’ lives!”

A fourth man interrupted. “Don’t hide behind your people. You gave up, betrayed everything we fought for–alliances we’ve held for generations.”

“We are at war!” The third man, who Vik saw was a president, agreed. “We don’t have room for cowards and traitors–you deserve to be executed!”

“Agreed,” the Nautolan put in. “Give these traitors what they deserve. If anyone asks, we’ll say the Imperials murdered them.”

Vik had not missed the political double talk. The politicians were ganging up against these so-called traitors, but other than the first man none had been identified by name.

“In the Republic, the accused stand trial,” Prudii argued. “They aren’t executed on a whim.”

Vik sighed, wishing to shoot one or two of them right here. But of course the Good Major would not allow that, and if Vik tried Jorgan would “talk it over” again when he was recovered.

“We are at war,” the fourth man reiterated, for no apparent reason. “We should not suffer allies who cannot be depended upon.”

Up until now, the Twi’lek man had been silent. Now, he said, “This will never happen again. Now that we’ve seen Imperial diplomacy firsthand, I don’t think we’ll take part in any future ‘summits.’”

Apparently it was best left at that.