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I Remember Me

Lesaberisa's Avatar

06.18.2013 , 11:37 PM | #21
I had to give the Justicars credit for one thing – as befit an organization made up primarily of veterans, they had a much better idea of how to run security than the Black Sun thugs did. Stricter control of access to key areas, varied patrol patterns that required much careful planning to avoid, even some heavier emplacements around the power generators before we got within sight of their headquarters. At least a couple of heavy APCs, too, which wasn’t something Garza had noted in her briefing notes.

Jorgan let out a sharp whistle at the sight of those. “Building themselves quite an arsenal here. Makes you wonder what they needed it for. Can’t imagine you need that kind of firepower for any of the local criminal gangs.”

We stopped in unison as a patrol went by. “Might need it if you were facing Republic troops, though.” I said quietly. We exchanged a look that said more than any words.

Another five minutes - and two unconscious guards we couldn't avoid – later, and we found ourselves staring across Valor Boulevard at the hive of activity that was the Justicar headquarters. Drav had set us up with cover identities, carefully crafted to shield us from anything but the closest scrutiny. I’d feel safer with a bigger blaster, though. Or a couple of SpecOps divisions, maybe. Jorgan seemed similarly uneasy, eyes flicking around the entry hall in one long sweep.

The cover identities got us through the outer checkpoints with ease, suggesting the Justicars might not be that much more capable than the Black Sun, at least not as much as I had thought. That, or Drav was better at organizing this sort of thing than I had thought. Not that I’ll ever admit that to him, if there were ever someone born with too much confidence… The security console we had to access for the information on Kardan’s hideout was behind more significant defenses than some bored Justicars, though. That’s where our friends in the SIS would come in handy – not for any kind of heavy operation, though. We didn’t need any heavy armor or large force on the ground for the kind of distraction we needed. All we needed was….

The building shook as the explosions from the bombs SIS had carefully planted rocked the area. There wasn’t much damage to the building itself, from what I could tell, but the Justicars inside were definitely rattled, even panicked. One damn near ran Jorgan over as he ran for the entrance, following the crowd of his compatriots in their mad rush to get a better view of what was going on outside. That gave us about ten minutes to get this done, get out and make it back to the safe house. Drav had offered to have his people hit the Justicars to give us a bigger window, but the SIS wasn’t built for a straight up fight. And if we needed that help, it’d mean the whole mission was karked anyway.

Grabbing the intel off the Justicar computer proved a lot easier than we anticipated, but I guess these were military wash-outs for a reason; couldn’t hack it in the real military, so they dressed themselves up in their fancy uniforms and paraded around in their little kingdom on Coruscant. Couldn’t fight a real enemy with a blaster that might fire back, so they threw their weight around against a bunch of scared civilians. These people weren’t the proud veterans they wanted to present themselves as; they were cowards who were as much enemies of the Republic as the Imperials were.

As if I needed more proof, their system was full of information that would ruin them if – when – it went public. Ties with the spice trade, the Black Sun, and other underworld organizations that were parasites feasting on the less fortunate in the Republic. Large financial streams coming from the Hutts. And, most interestingly to me – and to Garza, no doubt – an active coordination with an Imperial Intelligence agent on Coruscant itself as well as Jek Kardan and the Havoc traitors. File after file of damning evidence, but my datapad only had room for a select amount, and Garza’s patience would handle even less. Hopefully Drav would get some use out of it.

The hardest part about the trip back to the SIS was resisting the temptation to burn the entire place down before we left. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the ordinance and, even with the SIS distraction still working wonders on the Justicars. Still, I couldn’t help but puff my chest out with a bit of pride as we strode back into the safe house and handed the data over to Drav and his people. An enjoyable two hour relaxation break later, and we were in business.

“Their encryption was weak, very weak. If it weren’t the Justicars, I might actually question whether the information was just a plant, but…,” Drav’s voice trailed off for a moment, then came back even stronger. “Most of it is pretty standard underworld dealings, not much use to you guys, but very helpful for our own campaign against the Justicars. We’ll put it to good use convincing the local civilians of Justicar duplicity, and we can get the ball rolling for more significant support within the Senate and other governmental organizations.”

I nodded along. So far so good.

“Now, for the more pertinent stuff. The Justicars have definite ties to both the Imperials and Kardan, who in turn are definitely working with each other. As far as our analysts were able to determine so far, the Justicars are, in many ways, just a pawn for both Kardan and the Imperials, who are using them to funnel money, weapons and material. The Imperials have a pretty clear motivation for what they’re doing; it sows chaos on the Republic capital, makes us look bad, and so on. We’re not sure why Jek Kardan would be involved in this, but we’re not privy to the details of his betrayal.” He stopped talking, looking directly at me and raising an eyebrow.

I put both my hands out in front of me. “You know about as much as I do about Kardan, Drav, I wish it were different. This isn’t some ‘need to know’ load of sithspit or anything, Garza sent me down here to get more information for her. For all of us.”

Drav shrugged, fortunately missing the implication that I might know something about traitors other than Kardan. “Well, not much we can do without more information. We weren’t able to pinpoint the exact location of Kardan’s hideout, but we were able to narrow it down to a general area within the Works. Industrial area, not supposed to be much in the way of civilian habitation or anything. We traced some significant power surges to the following areas.” The terminal projected a holographic map of the district on the table between the three of us, outlining the basic structure of the Works.

I pointed at the highlighted area, the one SIS suspected was Kardan’s hideout. “Getting in will be a bit of an issue. Only one continuous path that doesn’t leave us open to easy ambush, and even that is being generous. Can you guys provide another diversion?” He stroked his beard, contemplating things. Jorgan coughed. “Something to add, Jorgan?”

The Cathar coolly looked us both over, then jabbed at another part of the map. “Kardan has to know that too, or else he’s a fool. We should send our diversionary effort in that direction, where they will expect an attack. We can find our own way in if we move quickly enough.”

I nodded in agreement. “That’s about the best we can do. We best get moving, though, I’m sure someone with the Justicars will have notified Kardan of the ruckus in the area earlier, and if he was smart enough to help found and run Havoc, he’s sharp enough to figure out there’s something else going on. What can your people do for us, Drav?”

Drav was unusually quiet for anyone, let alone the man once known as “the Mouth from Murkhana'. “We’ll send two squads up the route Lieutenant Jorgan recommended. I’ll coordinate with local command for additional assistance. You’re going to need it.”

As Jorgan and I left, having swapped our inconspicuous light armor for our standard Havoc gear, I slapped Drav on the back to cheer him up. “Relax, buddy. We’ll be back in no time, then we’ll get ourselves some extra time off, find some good beer and have a good time. Well, as good a time as we can with Jorgan around.” I made a jerking motion with my hand.

Drav laughed and slapped me on the back. Jorgan made some sort of strange gesture in response to both of us. Drav was still smiling as I lost sight of him.

The Works reminded me a lot of Ord Mantell – not many nice people, lots of smoke, and a foul odor that no armor or olfactory filters could quite keep out. One important thing did change, though – unlike every mission on Ord Mantell, our plan worked for the most part. The SIS attack on the main thoroughfare drew off most of the Justicar defense force, and Jorgan and I had reached the outer defenses of Kardan’s base without incident.

It was the helmets on the defenders that gave away that our smooth sailing was over.

“Imperials,” Jorgan whispered. “Four along the outer wall. Sounds like another three or four in the anteroom behind them.”

He motioned towards the entryway, then pointed at the grenade at his hip before pointing at one in my belt. I tapped my helmet twice to let him know I understood. Then, we went to work. The outermost troops never knew what hit them; those that survived my grenade were blasted into a million pieces by Jorgan’s. The two survivors from the others went down with holes in their helmets, never seeing my blaster firing death at them.

Jorgan and I pushed forward, past the corpses and wreckage, and found ourselves in a large room, half modern electronics and industrial construction, half rock. Across the way, still unaware of our presence, was a middle-aged man talking to an Imperial officer. Around them, arranged in a semi-circle, were eight Imperial troopers. I assumed the man was Kardan; I couldn’t remember what he looked like from the time I’d done research on him for a paper at the academy, but he had the swagger of a trooper.

We couldn’t risk another greeting-by-grenade, so I fired my pistol into the air once and motioned at Jorgan to let him know to follow. The incredulous look I got from the cam in his armor would have been hilarious if we weren’t so likely to die.

“Good evening, gentlemen. If y’all could kindly keep your hands where I can see them, we’ll just take you into custody. Nice and easy.”

The Imperial officer looked as if he couldn’t decide whether to be outraged or amused, Kardan seemed to be having the same problem. The troopers were unreadable behind their helmets, but I decided their armor looked pretty stupid anyway. I noticed Jorgan had flipped the modifications on his assault cannon back on to allow for a clean sweep of the room if we needed it. Even though I didn’t really care a whit for the Imperials, I hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

“Jek Kardan, in the name of the Galactic Republic, I am arresting you on the charge of treason.”

He smiled tightly at that. “Son, I know who you are based on that armor, does me proud to see someone brave like yourself wearing the Havoc colors. But you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, you don’t know why I’m here, and it’s pretty clear you never will. Turn around, walk away. You don’t have to die here.”

I grit my teeth. The man was certainly annoying enough to have rubbed shoulders with Garza.

“No can do, Sir. I know Tavus and the others were frustrated by the Republic, but that’s no excuse for treason. Not for them, not for you, not for anyone. You’re just helping the Imperials kill more good men and women right now.”

He shook his head. “What I’m doing is defending the good men and women who’ve been betrayed by the Republic they fought for. Fought for so long for it, too. I’m fighting for Tavus and his men and everyone who’s served under any command , the people the Republic has forgotten.”

“That’s a load of crap, sir.” I was getting annoyed, now. “I can respect loyalty to your friends, but are these guys your friends?” I jerked my thumb at the Imperial lieutenant, then pointed around the room at the other Imperials. “Last I checked, if Tavus and the rest of that bunch were so concerned with the future of the Republic, they’d have made an effort, any effort to try to change things. Instead, they tucked tail and ran, then turned rat and joined the Empire.”

I cut him off before he could get a word in.

"You and Tavus are just the same, always making excuses and trying to pass the blame off to someone else. The Republic ain't perfect, but last I checked it also wasn't run by a bunch of genocidal maniacs with weird facial tattoos. You want to sell us out, fine, but at least be honest about whose boots you'll end up licking. Not some glorious Imperial warrior, but some Sith that's just as likely to wipe a planet clean of life as they are to respect you."

His reddening face revealed I’d hit close to home, but he kept quiet. So did the lieutenant, who seemed out of his depth with any conversation lasting longer than a couple of sentences.

“General Garza wants you back. Alive.” Something flashed in his eyes, but too quickly for me to figure out what it was before it was gone. “She wants you to help us bring Tavus and the rest of his squad back in, alive if we can. She isn’t looking to make examples of them, but she is looking for them to answer for what they’ve done.”

He shifted uncomfortably on his feet. “You’ll bring them in alive? You swear?”

I nodded. “I swear it. On my honor, by the Maker."

"And you won't just bring them in to have them summarily executed?"

I shrugged at that. "I can't say what their punishments will be, that's way above my pay grade and not something I can guarantee. I can promise they'll be treated fairly so long as they're in my custody, and they'll be treated a helluva lot better than an Imperial defector to the Republic would be treated by the likes of our friends here."

His face seemed slightly less creased now, more relaxed. “If you harm them unnecessarily, I will kill you, I can swear that myself. But, you’re right. I didn’t sign up to work with the likes of these guys. Or the Imperial intelligence contact we have visiting, either. I know Tavus had his reasons for defecting, but I don't think he'd have wanted it to turn out like this."

I couldn't trust myself to speak, my heart was beating so quickly. So, I just nodded.

"Let me help you clean up this mess, son.”

Realization finally dawned on the face of the Imperial officer, but he was far too slow, and it was far too late. I nodded at Kardan; he, Jorgan and I all opened fire. The blaster bolts flew across the room, creating an awful symphony of shots and screams.

All eight Imperial troopers were down, with multiple blaster bolt holes smoking in their armor. The lieutenant was in worse shape; what was left of his face was almost as unpleasant to look at as Jorgan’s whole one. Kardan, for once, had kept his word – two of the kills were his, and I was pretty sure he’d scored a couple of hits on the officer too.

“Where’s the Intelligence officer?” My voice was rough, harsher than I intended it to be, but I was tired of the games. Tired of the treachery. Tired of the crap these traitors put good people through.

Kardan nodded over his right shoulder, some kind of small alcove with at least one computer terminal in it. I could hear some heavy wheezing coming from inside. We both pointed our weapons at the alcove Kardan had indicated. I announced our intentions as clearly as I could, enunciating through my helmet to be sure nothing was lost.

“To the Imperial Intelligence agent. You have five seconds to present yourself, arms raised and weapons dropped, before we open fire.”

A male voice answered. A familiar one.

“Ayrs, my boy! Is that you?”

I felt the bottom of my stomach fall into a pit, felt my hands instinctively moving to remove my helmet. No. No. It can’t be. Not him. Not here.The man slithered out of the small alcove, hands raised. I saw an old face, lined with age. A familiar face to go with that familiar voice.

Jorgan sounded confused. “You know this guy? How do you know an Imperial intelligence agent? Sir?”

My head was pounding, and my heart felt about ready to jump out of my chest. I could feel my jaw clench and my finger caressed the trigger on my pistol. I felt dizzy, felt like throwing up, but I wasn’t going to give the Imp the pleasure of seeing me so affected.

“Because I didn’t know him as an intelligence agent, I knew him as the mayor of my home town. As a friend, practically family. I don’t know what he is any more.” I spat at the man’s feet and then finally did throw up, aiming for him as best I could.

His eyes aglow with pride, Fillo MacTyre gave me a savage smile.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar

06.19.2013 , 02:16 PM | #22
Trigger: Violence/unpleasantness. Ayrs beats up a defenseless old man!


My fist caught Fillo on his left cheek, hitting him with enough force that he lost his balance and went down to one knee. Blood spurted from his nose, and he let out an audible gasp. Jorgan stepped forward, hesitated, began moving again and then stopped when I gave him a sharp look. I stepped towards the man and hit him a couple of times in the stomach, hard enough that I could hear the air sucked out of him. He doubled over in pain, so I hit him in the head again, then gripped him around the collar with both hands, lifting him clean off the ground so I could look him in the eyes.

“What did you do, you son of a *****? What did you do?! I shook him. He cringed, so I shook him again, only harder. “You were involved, weren’t you? You sold us out!” My usually mild voice was roaring in my ears.

Jorgan put a hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged it off. Fillo had apparently decided not to answer my questions, so I decided to give him some incentive, slamming him up against the wall and sliding one arm to press against his throat. “Answer me, you piece of filth.”

He finally responded to that, sort of, baring his teeth and giving a small chuckle. I dropped him, letting him fall unceremoniously to the ground, where he curled into the fetal position. I removed Mom’s old DV-22 from its holster and placed it against his head, digging into his skin. “Give me a reason not to pull the trigger.”

Jorgan’s hand returned to my shoulder. “Sir.” I tried to shake him off again. “Sir. We could use him alive. If not for our purposes, the SIS’. It's not worth it, sir.” He didn't sound entirely convinced, though.

My heart was still pounding, so I took a deep breath, then let it out. Then, I took another one. And another. I felt the weight on my chest lightening a bit, and let the barrel of my pistol slide off Fillo’s face. Stay cool, Ayrs. Don't let him win. He took a deep breath of his own, then finally managed a response.

“Come now, Ayrs, you are a dutiful Republic soldier. Surely you understand the necessity of behaving yourself in the present situation.” His friendly drawl was gone, replaced by the slimiest of Imperial accents. “Now, be a good little boy and deliver me to your superiors. They will be most displeased that you mistreated me. If your mother were still alive, I imagine she would be most disappointed with you right now.” I felt the blood rushing to my head again. His eye took on a demented glean. “So sad that she is no longer with us."

I hit him again, square across the face with my armored fist. He just laughed.

“When Imperial Intelligence assigned me to that backwater waste of life-supporting landmass that is Ithaca, I never dreamed it would be such an enjoyable experience. Naturally, the Empire was quite interested in an isolated colony populated at least in part by Republic veterans and their families, but it was such a bore for so long. Imagine my surprise to have none other than a Martell move to Eurycleia with her degenerate Jedi husband. Imagine my joy to be able to report on her growing family firsthand. No doubt, it played a part in moving Ithaca up our target list.” He smiled, licking his lips, then skewered me with his gaze.

I moved to strike him again, but Jorgan held me back this time. That seemed to amuse Fillo too.

“Ah, saved by the dutiful alien. No doubt he believes that if he behaves like a proper soldier he will be rewarded, but subhuman trash can never rise above the muck. If he is lucky, perhaps the Empire will stuff his corpse and display it in a museum one day, as a warning against non-humans ever presuming too much about their place in the galaxy.” I heard Aric snarl, even through his helmet. “My goodness, just look at his feral response. No emotional control, no self-awareness. It’s a wonder the Cathar didn’t genocide themselves into non-existence.”

My mind was still reeling. Too many questions, too few answers, too many bad memories, too much pain. Fillo MacTyre had been a friend to my family since I was old enough to remember someone other than my parents, he had been there at our birthdays, been there when we celebrated my acceptance to the academy on Corulag, been there when times were bad too. He was the one that was there when you found out about home too. Now, it seemed like he’d never really been there at all. Never existed at all either. The Fillo MacTyre we thought we knew was just a shadow on the wall, an act, a charade.

“The entire time you were just spying on us, for useful information or something to use against us. You pretended to be our friend so you could sell us all out to the Empire.” My voice was wavering, not from disbelief but sheer exhaustion. Fillo seemed to be taking pleasure from that, as well.

“Yes, my dear boy, initially I was simply to observe the planet and determine the potential value as a military target, as well as from a psychological and morale point of view. After getting to know your family and others, I realized what a sublime demonstration of Republic impotence an attack on Ithaca would represent. What more symbolic representation of the folly of your government than to see the charred corpses of her former servants lying strewn across the field on the holovids. Absolutely breathtaking, both as a concept and to be seen in reality.”

Kardan, who’d been entirely silent the entire time, looked like he was about to be sick, perhaps only now realizing the full implications of what Tavus and the others had done; what he had been about to do himself.

“Ayrs, you need not take this personally, it was a privilege to know your family. It is a shame that they chose the wrong side of the war, but let us not speak ill of the dead. Perhaps, someday, a Martell will understand the wisdom of supporting the correct government and MacTyre and Martell can be friends again. It would be pleasant to see such growth on the part of your family, and even more so to not have to spend years of my life speaking like an inbred peasant so as to not give away my true heritage.”

I hit him again. And again. Hard. He spat blood to the side and then smiled again.

“Or, perhaps not. It really matters very little at this point. I admit, it was slightly unsettling to find the bodies of your siblings in the charred remains of your family’s house, but I prefer to think of it as a blessing. Had they lived, they might well have grown into Republic loyalists themselves. A terrible fate averted, both for your siblings and the galaxy at-large! Merely a pity that I could not be the one to pull the trigger.”

My chest was heaving and my heart hurt. I could feel it pounding away, boom, boom boom. Aric had both of my arms under control, so there was nothing I could do, even as Fillo’s mouth curled into a half-sneer, half-vicious smile.

“I am told your mother did not die so well, but her years in the Republic military obviously left her unable to face the harsh realities of the galaxy. One of those responsible claimed she died screaming, and I do not doubt it.” I felt like screaming myself, but nothing came out of my mouth when I opened it. “Screaming like the harlot she was, I presume, the kind that opened her legs for the like of your father.”

It took all of Jorgan’s strength to hold me back.

“You…you helped kill them all. Not just my family, all those other innocent people. And you claim that’s strength? Wisdom? Virtue?”

Fillo wiped more blood off of his face with the back of his hand.

“What do you know of virtue, boy? Virtue is not meek subservience in the face of struggle, virtue is not the surrendering of strength to serve the weak masses, certainly not those you find in the Republic. It is not virtue that compels the Republic to allow the likes of that creature behind you to wear its colors. It is weakness, pride and sinful weakness. You wear your tolerance as a badge of honor when it is the herald of your destruction. You pretend as if that beast might be your equal when in reality he has the mental capacity for hard labor at best. The Republic is failing, the Empire is rising. We will bury you.”

This time it was Kardan that slapped him across the face, leaving him wheezing and gasping for air as he lay sprawled on the ground.

“Keep rambling, old man. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in your grave before we bring the Empire down. If so, I’ll be the first one dancing on it.”

His answer was unexpected. “Will you dance on your sister’s grave too?” He must have seen the confusion on my face, because he kept going. “Your sister slaves away in the service of the Empire, unwittingly assisting us in the destruction of everything her family held dear. Amusing, is it not?”

My…my sister? But…they’re all dead. I worried for my cardiovascular system, because my heart was beating about a million times per second.

“What’re you talking about?”

He laughed, spitting out some blood as he did so. “Your sister Veresia was on her way home when the attackers arrived in Eurycleia. She might have even escaped had she not taken it upon herself to avenge your family rather than wait for our departure. The things she did to the men before we could contain her. We never did determine how those burns were created...” His voice trailed off and he gave an involuntary shudder, the first sign of his self-control slipping I’d seen. “It took five of Lesankyo’s men to bring her under control, which convinced him she was better off being sold on the slave market than merely killed. A waste, I imagine, she could have had such more…pleasant…uses.”

I barely heard him. My knees, already feeling weak, felt like jelly, but the weight I had carried for all these years was suddenly gone. My eyes were watering from tears and rage, but my vision had never been more clear. I hadn't lost everything - almost, but not quite. I had time to make things right. And I would.

“It must pain you to know that she serves the Empire as a slave while you dance for your Republic masters, moving in tune with their strings as they are pulled. No doubt, some proper Imperial officer has acquainted her with the full range of activities an attractive young woman in her position must be open to. So terrible to know that, yet be unable to help in any way. It would almost be tragic, if she weren’t so richly deserving of her fate. If she is lucky, she will grow up to be a whore. Just like her mother.”

I laughed in his face. If only you knew the extent of your stupidity, old man. My sister is alive, and I would never have known if it weren't for you.

His smile wavered for a moment, then disappeared. "Your sister is like a trapped rat. No friends, no family, nowhere to turn. She blind and struggling, with no hope as she scrambles around in the dark." His smile turned into an outright sneer. "No hope, no future. She's all alone."

“Not alone, never alone. She has me.” I hit him with my pistol, knocking him out and silencing him for a while. Kardan caught Fillo as he slumped against the wall, looking half-ready to strangle the man himself.

She’s alive. She’s alive. She’s alive. My head was spinning. I will find you Ver, nothing will stop me. Nothing. Maker willing, we will be together again

Republic troops were pouring in the room when I woke from my daze, dozens of them with varying insignias. Drav must have really gotten to work. The man himself was leading the charge, sauntering towards me with that blasted smirk on his face. He paused as he took in the bodies on the floor; nine dead imperials and one living, then made his way to stand next to me. I wondered if he was contemplating the amount of paperwork this would require.

None of that matters. Only family does. Only Ver.

“Hey there, chum, I heard you wanted a diversion, but General Garza managed to one-up even me.” He winked at Kardan, which drew an annoyed snort in response. “We’ve secured the entire area, and the Justicars are throwing in the towel in their area. We’ll have the entire sector under Republic control in no time. All thanks to me.“

He leered at Kardan, who looked like he'd have rather taken a blaster bolt to the head than deal with the likes of Drav.

I nodded my heard towards my prisoner. “Drav, this is Jek Kardan. He has agreed to be taken into custody, peacefully. His conditions are known to me and acceptable, but cannot be shared.” My friend scratched his head; usually he was the one making vague, unhelpful declarations. “The worthless piece of crap on the floor is Fillo MacTyre, late of the Imperial Intelligence service. Do what you want with him, he deserves the worst.”

Drav eyed me warily and spoke even more carefully. “Didn’t you mention knowing a Fillo MacTyre from back on Ithaca?”

She’s alive. She’s alive. Stars above, she’s alive.

I nodded briskly. “We thought he was our friend, but he was working for the Imperials the whole time. He’s not as smart as he thinks he is, though.” Drav looked puzzled at that. “He let me know my sister is still alive, in Imperial hands somewhere. He thought it would make me feel pain, regret, paralyzed from fear. He was wrong.” I smiled.

I am not alone. Neither is she. I will find her, no matter what it takes. No matter how hard the fight or how lonely the path. We’ll face the future together, like Mom would have wanted.

“What did it make you feel, sir?” Jorgan piped in for the first time in forever

My smile grew ever broader, powered by the warmth in my heart and joy in my soul.

Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar

06.24.2013 , 08:41 AM | #23
For once, Garza seemed unequivocally pleased with our performance, even if it was Drav and the SIS who got to take official credit for the operation rather than Havoc.

"I have reviewed your report on the mission, Lieutenant, and I must say that I am very impressed with the results, as well as your ability to coordinate efforts with the SIS without compromising Special Operations or revealing unnecessary information that would jeopardize the entire organization. Agent-in-Charge Tallin was quite effusive in his praise for your conduct." She paused, but continued when my dazed expression indicated I had nothing to offer to the conversation. "In addition, you convinced Jek Kardan to peacefully turn himself in with nothing more than a promise we need not adhere to if it undermines our objectives."

I cleared my throat a bit nervously. "Sir, I intend on keeping my promise to Kardan; I gave him my word, and I am not a man who goes back on that. Certainly not just because it's convenient. Sir."

Her expression darkened at that, but - despite my good mood - I was not going to budge on this issue. Jek Kardan might be a traitor and deserving of severe punishment, but if I started breaking my word just to make my life easier, what else would I find myself doing? No, he should stand trial. They all should. I shook myself awake as Garza resumed talking.

"I must say, I was somewhat concerned with the future of this squad after your first few days on Coruscant. There was your disobedience in the matter of the cyborg threat to security, the fight in the cantina that shed unwelcome light on all of Special Operations, and - certainly not something to forget - the incident with the nerf steak in the barracks." My face flushed red at that remark. "Nonetheless, you have met and exceeded expectations, and done so with only one-third of a full squad. Your successes here on Coruscant have been extraordinary, and will serve as a reminder to all that the Republic fights on."

Her gaze moved over my shoulder to Jorgan, then returned to me. Some part of me hoped it made him as nervous as it made me.

"It is time to move on from these sorts of operations in the safety of the Core, though. Havoc Squad is more than a military unit, it is a symbol of everything the Republic stands for, and that symbol needs to be seen. Not just to stave off any rumors regarding Commander Tavus and the other defectors, but also to inspire the citizens that we defend and the service members we serve alongside. You will be the vanguard of the revival of a Republic that does not fear the Empire, is not afraid to challenge evil where it exists and restores the confidence of the freedom-loving populations of the galaxy."

Not a bad speech. Maybe 7/10.

"The task ahead is clear. SIS has been hard at work to determine where Tavus and his followers have gone and what they are planning to do. We do not have complete information, but we have a start. On my end, I will do everything within my power to bring the squad to full strength as soon as possible, and will coordinate efforts with other units to supplement your strength as needed. I have also requisitioned a BT-7 Thunderclap for transportation around the galaxy."

I cleared my throat, else I’d never have gotten a word in.

"Sir, I've had some basic flight training, but I’ve never even seen a Thunderclap before, let alone flown one." I paused, remembering the trip to Coruscant from a few weeks before. "There was a pilot, damn good one, who flew us here from Ord Mantell. A Flight Officer Stavros Nikolaidis, if I remember the name correctly. Good man, could use a break. I'd love to have him as our squad's pilot."

Garza looked a bit taken aback by what I was asking, but nodded.

"I will run the appropriate background checks and ensure he is qualified. If there are no issues, I will expedite the process." She leaned over her desk and punched a couple of buttons on her terminal. "I took the liberty of assigning your unit a droid that will assist in the more mundane details of your missions and handle various administrative duties for you.”

Oh joy, a droid.

“Thank you, sir. If I might ask, where is our first assignment.”

A frown crept onto her lips, but only a slight one.

“We have reliable intelligence placing Ryler Dorant – Needles – on the planet of Taris. Tell me, Lieutenant, have you heard much of that world’s history.”

Heard much of it? Hell, I had played simulations of the events surrounding the Taris of three centuries before. Who hadn’t spent countless hours playing “Revan, Knight of the Republic”?

“Yes, sir. I studied it on my own while I was growing up and took a class on planetary defense strategy at the academy. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I’m no stranger to the story. I’ve heard the Republic is working to rebuild it, make it a home for displaced refugee and what not.”

She nodded. “Indeed. Whatever Needles is doing there must be stopped; we cannot allow him to hamper the reconstruction efforts on that planet. They are imperative for demonstrating Republic strength in that sector. Your mission will be to confirm his presence on Taris, ascertain the purpose or purposes of his activities, and then eliminate him as a threat. If you can capture him and return him for interrogation, so much the better.”

This time, it was my turn to nod. “Sir, are we to coordinate with the local garrison, or are we operating on a need-to-know basis? I don’t want to compromise the bigger picture if I don’t have to.”

“You will be operating under the strictest security protocols – the last thing we need is to have stories of mass defections flying across the galaxy. With that in mind, I have already established contact with a senior officer in the Olaris Reconstruction Zone, a Colonel Gaff. He will be your primary contact while on Taris, though he is unaware of the specifics of your assignment.”

I tried and failed to suppress a laugh.

“Did I miss something, Lieutenant? I was unaware of any humor in my briefing.”

I bit my tongue, which seemed to work.

“Uh, no sir. It’s just….his name is Gaff, like gaffe, a mistake?” I chuckled nervously but didn’t hear Jorgan or see Garza joining in. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I waited for the blow to fall.

“I will…overlook...your comment. Report to Hangar Bay 256-C1 at the spaceport, your ship will be waiting.” She snapped to attention, we followed suit. “Good luck.” I pivoted on my heels and marched out, catching and then passing Jorgan, who seemed to be processing something.

“Everything alright, Jorgan? You seem troubled.”

He gave a slight grin. “Everything’s fine, sir. Just taking mental notes on how not to converse with a senior officer, is all.”

Maker, what did I do to deserve Aric Jorgan?

We managed some small talk during the ride to the barracks to pick up our gear, and then from the barracks to the spaceport. Nothing particularly significant, but I still wasn’t keen on inviting Jorgan to know my most intimate secrets. Still, he was decent enough company when he wasn’t whining about his demotion or bragging about his time with the Deadeyes, enough so that I was caught by surprise when we rounded a corner and found ourselves already at our hangar bay.

“Jorgan, one question. The Deadeyes were a sniper unit, yes?”

He nodded, as we passed through the first security check point.

“Then, if I might ask, why are you using an assault cannon now? Doesn’t going from something with a long, thin barrel to a massive gun like the one you have throw you off at all?”

He seemed unsure how to respond.

“I’ve been trained to use all weaponry, sir, so I was more than prepared for transitioning to a larger weapon.”

I contemplated that for a moment.

“Hmm, interesting. So you’re not just overcompensating for something with the cannon?”

The look on his face was well worth any future consequences, and his muffled growl carried on until we entered the hangar and got our first look at our ship. He whistled in dismay and I took a step back in shock.

“What did she call it, a Thunderclap? By the Maker, this thing is almost as hideous as you, Jorgan” I thought I saw the hint of a smile on his face, but it might just have been the shadows. “Certainly not saving the galaxy in style in this thing.”

"More like Thundercrap, sir." Jorgan's grin was killed by my side-eyed glance.

"That was terrible, Jorgan. Just terrible. Don't ever do that again."

A shiny golden droid was making its way down the ramp.

Oh, stars above. Kark this, it’s not just a droid, it’s a protocol droid. I wondered if the nightmare would ever end.

“Master, I am C2-N2, and I am pleased to report that I have been assigned to this unit at the request of General Garza. I am most honored by this assignment and will endeavor to serve as best I can in every way I can. I look forward to handling administrative duties for you as well as various cleaning of the ship and other tasks. I –“

“You will shut up. Now.” Jorgan’s groan reassured me that I was not alone in my feelings.

“But, sir –“

“Zip.” I put a finger over its “mouth”, before letting my arm fall back to my side.

“But, sir –“

“It.” The finger returned to its position in front of the droid, falling back much more slowly this time.


“Zip it. Zip. It. No more talky from you, do you get me?” I tried giving the droid as stern a look as possible before realizing that I was just wasting my own time. “The quieter you are, the less likely I am to deactivate you.”

I pushed past him and into the monstrosity that was now my home, making for where the blueprint said my cabin was. I heard a loud crashing noise behind me, heard the droid blurt something out, heard Jorgan yelling something in a language that I didn’t understand.

It was quieter in my cabin, thankfully. I dumped the bag with my personal effects on the bed and made my way to the holo-terminal. Holonet access almost makes up for having to fly around in this rust bucket. I punched in the appropriate code, and waited while the system dialed to Kuat.

An elderly man – clearly in his twilight years but with a fire that burned incessantly in his eyes – stared back across the galaxy at me. His expression softened slightly as recognition spread across his features.

“Ayrs, I had heard that you were in contact with Thalia. I had hoped you might get in contact with me at some point.” He cut himself off a bit awkwardly, but Demetrius Martell had never been known for his social graces even before he grew too old to remember what social graces were in the first place.

“Yes, sir.” I frowned a bit at the sir, something that came automatically even though I knew the man only from Mom’s stories. “I have news about…about Veresia.” His eyebrows raised almost imperceptibly. The words that followed came out in an uncontrollable rush. “She’s alive, sir. I…acquired information from an Imperial source, and she was captured on Ithaca, sold into slavery in the Empire.” I paused. “Not the best of news but, stars, there’s the chance we can find her. I need your help, though, the family’s help.”

There was an awkward pause before I realized he expected me to continue. Or had drifted off to sleep with his eyes open, I wasn’t sure.

“I don’t really have any information apart from the name of the pirate that captured her, a Lesankyo. I don’t recognize the name and his file is classified above my clearance level for some reason. If you could lean on some people, get some palms greased…I’d appreciate it.”

It was a rare day when Demetrius Martell smiled, and when he did it was said to be a terrifying sight for all those who saw it. I was happy to note that that particular story wasn’t true for me.

“I will see what can be done. Rest assured, if Veresia is alive, we will find her and bring her home. No pirate, no Empire, will stop us. Anything else?”

“If you need any assistance from a more covert area, I’m passing along the contact information for a friend of mine in SIS, Dravis Tallin. He’ll help as best he can.”

He nodded. “Understood. I will contact the appropriate resources and see what I can do. I will keep you posted.”

“I –,” I had barely even begun my sentence when the connection cut out. Stars he’s a hard man to deal with. No wonder Grandma ran away to Ithaca.

I heard a knock at the door. Jorgan’s voice filtered through the door. “Sir, we got a message from Garza, assignment came up that’ll detour us before we can head to Taris.”

I activated the door’s controls and stepped out to face him. “Update me?

“Situation’s come up at a place called Port Riga, they need us to spring a hostage. Garza will brief us when we get there.” A shadow crossed his face. “Also….earlier today, Fillo MacTyre escaped from SIS custody. They’re still looking for him, but with his expertise, who knows.” Jorgan’s voice softened a bit. “I’m sorry, sir, he deserves what’s coming to him.”

I unconsciously rested my hand on my pistol. “He won’t escape justice. He won’t escape me.” Jorgan took a step back at that, then turned towards the crew quarters. I called out to his retreating form, “I’ll see you at the briefing, Jorgan. Should be interesting, at least compared with going to Taris. Unless you’re a rakghoul enthusiast, what’s there to see on Taris?”
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

bright_ephemera's Avatar

06.25.2013 , 08:02 PM | #24
I read this start to current-point in one sitting. I should've started earlier, knowing how much I've enjoyed your SFC entries.

Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
The Devaronian was a Senator on the Subcommitee for Navel-Gazing or something like that
Great, sharp bit of characterization. - on Ayrs, anyway; less so for the unfortunate Devaronian. The entire graduation piece developed and tied up really, really well. That isn't a unique trait on this thread.

I'm loving Ayrs. His personality is vivid and consistent, the snap (mis)judgments, the bad jokes, the physical awareness during moments of tension...thoroughly readable throughout.

Aric "Demotivation" Jorgan
I almost died. Almost. Had to live to keep reading.

Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
The sound of Jorgan’s jaw clenching and then unclenching was what made life worth living.
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 90+ authors to date. 2500+ stories. New prompts weekly!
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Ceterum autem censeo, Malavai esse delendam.

Lesaberisa's Avatar

06.27.2013 , 06:15 PM | #25
@ Bright

General notes:

I plopped down into the seat next to Jorgan and stretched my arms well into his personal space, drawing what I was pretty sure was the Cathar equivalent of a dirty look in response. Not feeling particularly bothered by his continuing antisocial behavior, I languidly stretched my arms, this time safely behind me ,and slouched in my chair. His frown deepened, even as General Garza’s image flickered into view on our holo-terminal.

“Lieutenant, greetings. I apologize for delaying your arrival on Taris, but your presence is required for a serious situation on the independent space station Port Raga. Your former squadmate, Wraith, captured Senator Zorin Krasul and has imprisoned him somewhere on the station. Intelligence reports suggest she may view this as a chance to extract information about the Senate’s handling of the Ando Prime incident. Regardless, we cannot allow this type of brazen and criminal act to go unanswered.”

She paused, giving me the chance to interject, quickly. “Sir, if I may ask – what happened on Ando Prime? Commander Tavus mentioned it as he left Ord Mantell, but every time I’ve tried to research it in the archives I’ve been denied clearance.”

Her brow furrowed and her expression darkened. Reminds me of Mom a bit. I shrunk back into my chair.

“Never mind that, Lieutenant. We don’t have time for distractions. You will proceed to Port Raga, gain entrance using the identity being forwarded to your computer that the SIS has crafted, and rendezvous with Sergeant Jaxo on board, and she will brief you on specifics. Your mission is twofold; rescue Senator Krasul and return him to Sergeant Jaxo safely...and capture or eliminate Wraith. I trust in your judgement in that matter.”

Jaxo? My stomach did a roll to the left while my brain furiously tried to focus on the mission.

Jorgan and I both stood at attention, snapping off textbook salutes. “Yes, sir.”

Garza’s image flickered, then disappeared. An awkward silence followed, then we managd to collide with each other as we both moved towards the door at the same time. I moved to my left to give him space to move, but he anticipated wrong and followed me. We reversed directions and repeated our mistake on the opposite side. We stood, glaring at each other.

Finally, I took charge, and pushed past him to the cockpit to set our course.

Five hours later, and we jumped into the system. A couple of uninhabited plantets orbiting a faint star even less bright than the average Imperial trooper. I used the hour we had before entering Port Raga's admittance zone to prepare.

Unfortunately, my best efforts proved futile.

The conversation with Port Raga Control proved to be disastrous, even with the cover identity provided by Garza and the SIS. Twenty minutes in, and I felt like I was moving backwards.

"No, I don't have authorization, I'm coming in for repairs. If I didn't need repairs, I wouldn't be here in the first place. It's not I could get the authorization ahead of time, I couldn't exactly see a blown motivator in my future. Kark."

I grit my teeth in frustration, Jorgan momentarily flashed his in a grimace that showed he was as frustrated as I was. Senator Krasul was in that space station somewhere. So was Wraith. I didn't intend to lose either one of them because some glorified desk jockey decided that Port Raga needed to follow its own regulations, especially since - from what intel we had - it would be the first time in the station's history anyone did so.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple of new blips on the scanner. Probably some kind of patrol boats or something. The Thunderclap would probably be able to take them out, but it'd blow any chance we had at getting onboard without attracting any real attention

"Sir", the nasally voice over the comm replied. "According to my supervisor, the problem is you submitted a YR-11 form which is appropriate for repairs up to 5000 credits in cost but, by your own admission, your own repairs will cost somewhere around 5500. Port Raga does not recognize the vouchers your provided from Czerka, either. However, if I can suggest a possible solution, there is a subsection within..."

I felt my right eye twitch and there was a loud pounding in my head. It sounded like Jorgan was choking on something. Maybe a hairball.

" if you provide us with copies in duplicate of those forms, we should be able to being processing your request."

This was why I hated traveling undercover, couldn't just fast-track my way through stuff like this. Worse, neither Jorgan nor I were particularly good with this kind of sithspawned nonsense either. Luckily, the horrifying droid Garza forced on us had proven useful for once and was shuffling towards me with datapad in hand. It turned to look at me, so I decided to focus intently on the scuff mark on the floor.

"Sir, I am most pleased to report that I have completed the appropriate forms as you requested. I hope you are pleased with my work, as I only live to serve."

I looked up and stared at the droid for a moment; I could have sworn the droid's nose was slightly more brown than the rest of its body, but it had proven useful this time. I waved a hand at it, and it shuffled over to the main console to transfer the forms. Moments later, we got the approval. The droid didn't need to have its ego stroked, though, so I deactivated it for the time being.

"Hopefully your briefing with Jaxo is less awkward than your last one. Sir," I heard from behind me.

My eye twitched again.

The docking bay was empty, as were the corridors as we made our way to the rendezvous point. Strange, very strange. I tensed, unsure if the clear path was due to Jaxo and her people taking care of it or Wraith setting up a trap. Jorgan seemed to be having the same doubts, though, judging from the way his head moved to scan up and down the hallway.

We reached Jaxo and her squad after another five lonely minutes. Her face lit up when she saw us, tying my stomach into knots. Possibly my large intestine too, I wasn’t so good with anatomy.

“Lieutenant! Boy, am I happy to see you are our backup. Can’t think of anyone else I’d like to see on this job. Although…I’d rather have caught up to you somewhere a little nicer.” She flashed a smile, while I wondered how well my armor would filter out the smell of my own sweat. She leaned in a little closer. "Maybe after this is all over."

I decided the best defense was a good offense.

“What can I say, I get things done. My spec ops skills bring all the girls to the yard.” The only sound was of my heart breaking. Kark me. “Uh, so what’s the situation, Sergeant?”

“Wraith has Krasul strapped to what appears to be a pretty sophisticated explosive device. She has some men stationed around that section of the station too, but not many. Haven’t seen or heard from her in a few hours, though. Probably holed up somewhere out back.”

Hmm, simpler than I thought it would be. Assuming it’s not all one elaborate trap. My mind wandered for a moment, picturing the explosive decompression from Wraith detonating the explosive. Jorgan was spinning over and over as he flew out into space. Not all bad, if that’s what happens.

We made our way towards the large cargo bay where Jaxo had indicated the senator was being held. Resistance increased the closer we got, but it was surprisingly lax even still. The men weren’t even Black Sun caliber, and I felt almost guilty as Jorgan and I mowed them down as easily as we had training simulators back at the academy. Ten minutes and we found ourselves outside the bay itself. I clicked the comm twice to let Jorgan know I’d open the door while he provided covering fire so we could enter. He nodded.

Here we go.

I tapped the code into the console, then placed my back against the wall as the door slid open. I pivoted on my feet as Jorgan opened fire with his assault cannon, taking down two grunts that had the misfortune of being in our way. I sprinted towards cover peaked around the corner of the console I was behind, and was surprised to see nothing but a lone figure strapped into a chair that was surrounded by some nasty looking equipment and wires. The senator. I scanned the room a second time, and then a third. Jorgan double-clicked over the comm. We’re clear.

We moved forward, still angling our weapons for the ambush we had thought would be inevitable. It never came. Krasul had some tape over his mouth, so I carefully and gently removed it.

“Ow!” Maybe not gently enough. The Cathar, who seemed even more antisocial than Jorgan, fixed me with a malevolent glare. “You’re it? You’re the entire rescue team the Republic managed to send? This is outrageous.”

I hated him already.

“Don’t worry, sir. We’ll get you out of here. The two of us and our trusty mouse droid running the show back on the ship.” His glare intensified and he bared his teeth. “We make an excellent team.”

I flashed a grin at him, then bent over to take a closer look at the explosives. I was no expert, but it looked surprisingly haphazard for any kind of SpecOps trooper, let alone someone that took the pride in her work that Wraith did. Speaking of which…

“Senator, where’s Wraith? The Mirialan who was holding you, that is.”

His mouth shaped itself into a vicious sneer. “She already left, probably found out your little amateur hour effort was on the way and took off. About thirty minutes ago, she’s probably almost to her ship now."

Jorgan and I exchanged a glance. We could go after Wraith, but we’d never manage to catch her and do anything for the Senator. We could stay here and save Krasul, but we’d never be able to catch Wraith before she escaped. Assuming we didn’t blow ourselves up, at least.. Not much of a choice, but we couldn’t afford to sacrifice people for the small chance at petty vengeance.

I knelt back down beside the Senator. Pressure plate, frasium-based trigger. Luckily for Krasul, I’d been the kind of student at the academy that paid full attention to detail in all my classes, not just the ones I found interesting. Clip the wire underneath the mechanism, double-check for an auto-trigger attached to the mainframe. Cut the wire. Not that one, you idiot. Good, good.

I looked up to see Jorgan and the senator both staring at me.

“Sir, you were talking to yourself…” Jorgan’s voice trailed off. I heard Krasul say something about deranged humans and what sounded suspiciously like a threat to get me discharged from the military.

No time for this. I inserted a metal tube into the trigger to brace it, then took a step back. I closed my eyes and counted to ten. Nothing happened. Good.

“Senator, I just need to take care of the secondary trigger and we’ll get you out of here and back somewhere safe.”

He regarded me with a look I’d seen on Jorgan’s face several times already, then nodded. I went back to work, carefully examining the device and trying my best to remember what Colonel Voros had said about redundant triggers that day at the academy. I think that was the one day I decided to pay attention to Rissa instead of the lecture. I worked through it carefully but efficiently; we didn’t have all day, either, since Wraith would no doubt figure out what was going on and institute any fail-safes she had.

At long last I found myself at the final decision; four wires and I had to cut one. Red, white, blue, magenta. Interesting mix. Something told me to go with magenta, but I wasn’t sure what it was; the Force? My generally reliable gut reaction? Possibly remembering one of those terrible Stevester Sallone action movies.I shrugged to myself, and ignored Jorgan’s muttering. I snipped the magenta wire and prayed.


“We’re not blown to bits, if you’re curious.” Jorgan sounded faintly amused. Even Krasul looked slightly less repugnant, and managed to flash an almost convincing quarter-smile as I untied him from the chair. “We should get moving, sir. Wraith will probably have something waiting for us.”

Fortunately, she didn’t. We made it to the hangar Jaxo had marked for us without seeing so much as a maintenance droid. Jaxo and her squad were milling about aimlessly, and didn’t see us approach.

I jerked a thumb towards Krasul. “We’ve got ourselves a bona-fide Republic senator here, show some respect.” They snapped to attention out of habit, and I couldn’t manage to suppress a grin at that. “Any word on Wraith? She bugged out before we got there but maybe you caught wind of where she went?”

Jaxo seemed more interested in me than my questions, closing the distance between us to little more than the thickness of our armor. Keep cool, you idiot.. “Smooth moves, Lieutenant. Maybe you can show me some more another time.”

Krasul was unimpressed, shoving me to the side and ruining what little of the moment had been spared by my awkward silence and refusal to remove my helmet. “I don’t have time for these games. Are you getting me out of here or not?”

Jaxo made a face, but motioned to her squad to lead the senator to their ship. Before she left, she turned to me and smiled, “Think about it.” She winked, then headed up the ramp. I hoped my silence was more eloquent than it seemed.

I heard a cough from behind me. “Good work, sir. I’m very impressed.”

That caught me off guard. I raised an eyebrow as I glanced over at Jorgan. Mostly, I wondered what his angle was. “Really?”

He nodded briskly. “Yes, sir. You managed to not completely blow your opportunity with Jaxo. Progress!”

I wondered whether strangling him would be worth the court-martial and possible death sentence.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar

06.30.2013 , 01:29 PM | #26

When I got my first look at the "safe zone" on Taris out the window of the Thunderclap, there was a good part of me that wished that we could turn the ship back around and make it the last view too. Ugly landscape, terrible city planning, and what looked like packs of wild animals roaming around right outside Olaris' gates. What a mess. Then again, Ithaca must have looked like that at some point. Hell, I bet some of the Core worlds looked like that too.

Still, I couldn't help but wrinkle my nose as we disembarked and got our first whiff of live, pungent, Taris air. I stretched my arms out languidly and pretended to be enjoying it.

"Welcome to Taris, Jorgan. You can check in any time you like, but the smell will never leave."

I wasn't quite sure what to make of the look he gave me, but it seemed slightly less sinister than the usual one so I assumed he appreciated the statement. We moved through the spaceport at a more leisurely rate than normal; neither of us were particularly enthused about being here. Unless it means nailing that son of a *****, Needles. Even Jorgan, who seemed to be driven by the twin goals of killing Imperials and driving me insane, seemed unusually subdued.

The place wasn't too busy, mainly military traffic, which made sense. They'd opened certain areas of Taris back a few months back, but there weren't many takers yet. Mainly refugees from other worlds, some drifters, and a few people claiming to be the descendants of the original residents of Taris. I’d seen a lot of commentators making light of those types, saying they were hanging onto memories of something they never had, that they needed to move on. I wasn’t so sure.

Then again, you’re too karked up to even go back to Ithaca. They buried your family without you even being there because you couldn’t handle it.

I sighed softly as we moved into the main waiting room, which seemed populated by a transient population and more droids than I could handle. I saw another C2 model protocol droid sidle by and quickly averted my eyes before it noticed me. Didn’t want to risk it thinking I actually wanted to talk to it. I noticed Jorgan did the same.

A large man, about seventy pounds overweight and wearing a shirt about that many sizes too small, stood waiting for us, hand outstretched.

“Hello, lieutenant, I’m happy to see you here on Taris. I come from Governor Saresh’s office, the governor was hoping you could come by and speak to her.”

I eyed him suspiciously. Damned politicians and their lackeys.

“We’re here on a classified military operation, I’m not sure I have time to be roaming around at photo ops and mall openings.” I plastered the most authentic fake smile I could on my face. “But maybe I could swing by if I get the chance.”

He didn’t seem particularly convinced, but his face brightened as he looked over my shoulder. My eyes tracked his view and caught sight of an attractive brunette in heavy armor covered in a brown robe, a small scar over her right eye revealing she wasn’t some sheltered Jedi like we’d run into lounging around the Senate back on Coruscant. Behind her was another female Jedi, redhead that looked about ready to tear my head off when she saw me looking at her. I decided to find somewhere safe on the ceiling to stare at, since Jorgan wasn’t taking the hint when I elbowed him to get us moving again.

The Jedi nodded at me as she approached, then reached out a hand. “Amitia Khoury, Jedi flunky extraordinaire, at your service.” She gave me an un-Jedilike wink before introducing her companion. “This is Kira Carsen, my partner in crime. I’m guessing your names, favorite colors and other information are all classified though.”

I heard Jorgan laugh, causing me to turn and stare at him in disbelief. Until now, I had been unaware he was capable of behaving normally in a social situation.]

“Heh. Name’s Ayrs Martell. This here,” I nodded back at Jorgan, “is Aric Jorgan. He’s the social butterfly of the squad.”

She giggled slightly at that, which Kira smiled at. “She’s not like most Jedi. That’s a compliment.”

Amitia furrowed her brow and suddenly had a thoughtful expression on her face. “Ayrs….Martell. Aren’t you the one involved in that nerf steak incident back on Coruscant?”

I flushed. “Yes.”

“And didn’t you -?”

“Yes.” Never had one word been so painful to say.

“You’ll have to tell me about that sometime.” She smiled and then made that shuffling motion people do when they have to go but aren’t quite sure how tell the person they’re talking to that the conversation is over.

I decided to be a gentleman, smiling and taking a step back. “Well, ladies, maybe if we’re lucky we’ll find ourselves at the same rakghoul housewarming party or something. Unfortunately, I have a briefing with one of the garrison officers.” I offered a short, half-formal/half-mocking bow, which provoked laughter from both of them. As I turned to walk away I had to call out over my shoulder. “Jorgan, let’s get moving. Move that jaw up and keep the drool to a minimum.”

He scowled, but took the hint. Well, not really a hint when you’re that blunt about it.

The trip out to headquarters was as pleasant as could be expected. Taris might not be home to many settlers yet, but it did have some of the most annoying indigenous insect populations I’d ever seen. Loud, flying in swarms, and bit almost as much as Jorgan did. Or, at least, as much as I assume he does. The air-conditioned cold of the military building was a welcome change, even for someone like me that had grown up on a warm world. I thanked the Force I didn’t have fur like Jorgan, who definitely looked fatigued.

We made our way through the endless corridors and rooms that would have looked exactly the same if it weren’t for the slightly different upholstery. When we finally made it to Colonel Gaff’s office I was half tempted to defect to the Imperials myself.

The colonel was a balding man with a grim face, thin arms cross in front of his chest. The Duro and dark-skinned man behind him looked equally unhappy to see us. A woman was hunched over a console to the side, though I couldn’t see much other than her blond hair in a bun from behind. Not that I’m complaining.

“Well, well. General Garza graces us with her finest.” Gaff sounded several degrees above annoyed. “Your CO sent orders to do whatever was necessary to support your mission, though she didn’t bother to fill me in on what that mission was. I don’t suppose you can shed some light on this top secret nonsense?”

I grimaced and braced myself for the explosion. “I’m sorry sir, but our mission is classified.” I heard Jorgan suck in some air.

“Typical Special Operations nonsense. Expect me to set aside the reconstruction of a planet to help with nonsensical cloak and dagger games. There is nothing unusual going on here, definitely nothing worth mucking up the efforts of my command.” He and his two men strode out of the room without another word, leaving Jorgan and me alone with the woman.

As if recognizing the situation, she turned and faced us with a determined look on her face, piercing green eyes and an accent that was decidedly Imperial.


“Patrol Teams Three, Five and Eight all lost, all without explanation.“ She paused, looking slightly embarrassed for a moment. “I’m sorry, sir. I’m Elara Dorne, sir, Sergeant First Class, in command of Search and Rescue Squad 204 here on Taris.”

“Lieutenant Ayrs Martell, Havoc Squad.” I favored her with a smile but it had no effect.

“Yes, sir. I briefed myself on the situation and would like to assist as best I can as per General Garza’s orders. I must apologize for Colonel Gaff’s behavior…not all men are meant to lead.”

I morphed my smile into a reassuring one. “I understand completely Sergeant. And, rest assured, I will make sure your helpfulness is noted on the record. Colonel Gaff’s breaking of regulations won’t reflect on you.”

She nodded briskly, then punched a couple of buttons on her datapad. “Sir, I have uploaded the last known coordinates of the missing patrol teams into your system and will monitor your progress through your armor cam. It is not much of a lead but, for the moment, it is the best I can do.” I bit my tongue to avoid making a comment about her watching me through my armor as she paused, looking outside through a window. “However, given the late hour, I would recommend finding accommodations for the night and beginning tomorrow. Taris is still quite unsecure, despite what the settlement advertisements would have you believe.”

I grimaced at that last bit, but that type of stuff was well above my pay grade.

“I appreciate all your help, Sergeant. Since it is getting late, Jorgan and I are going to head down to the mess hall and get something to eat. You want in?”

Her face turned pink, though her mouth twisted into a faint smile that looked good on her. “Thank you, sir, but I am still on duty for some time.” I nodded and Jorgan and I headed back towards the horrific maze that was headquarters. She called out after us, “Perhaps another time though.”

I smiled, a smile made easier knowing she couldn’t see it. “Definitely, Sergeant. Maybe we’ll rustle up some rakghoul burgers to go with it.”

Jorgan was unusually silent as we made our way to the mess hall, which could only mean he was about to say something annoying. And I was right.

“So, Sir, what were you telling me about drool earlier?” He had a smirk on his face.

“What’dya mean?” I was good at playing things cool. Really good.

“I saw the way you were checking her out. I mean, she’s a little uptight for my taste, but I can’t blame you.” The smirk grew and I desperately wanted to slap it off him. Control. Anger is of the dark side. Or something.

I shrugged slightly and tried my best to keep my voice level. “Just trying to be friendly, she’s the only one that bothered to try to help us. Plus, I’m curious about her accent, not often you hear an Imperial accent this side of the border”

He was eyeing me closely now and coughed out a laugh. “Of course, sir.” His voice lightened a bit and took on an almost mischievous tone. “Time to see if we can one-up the nerf steak incident?” He raised an eyebrow.

I nodded and grinned evilly as we stepped into the mess hall. I almost didn’t notice the horrifying fact that I was coming to like Aric Jorgan.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar

07.05.2013 , 06:43 PM | #27
We left Olaris early the next morning, partly to beat some of the heat, but also partly to avoid Colonel Gaff. I didn’t feel quite right leaving Sergeant Dorne at the mercy of the colonel, but I hoped that Garza could run some interference for her while we were there. The man had seemed several degrees worse than annoyed with us already, and I imagined his mood wouldn’t be improved by us co-opting his command staff.

Jorgan didn’t seem to be adjusting well to the climate; he hadn’t slept much and his fur was turning a sickly, grayish, color. He didn’t seem to want to talk about it, though, so I kept my mouth shut about it. We had enough on our minds as it was.

The first set of coordinates Dorne had provided for us was surprisingly close to Olaris – good for keeping us from wearing ourselves out, but with disturbing implications for the overall security of the rebuilding project. The area was deserted, not a trace of the missing team, just some left over equipment that I didn’t recognized. I focused my armor cam on it so Dorne could see.

“Hmm.” She seemed as puzzled as we were. “Those look like power converters, Lieutenant. But those are generally found on heavier machinery or even starships. They have no reason to be at your location.”

I shrugged, then realized that no one could actually see me doing it. Damned armor, makes life so difficult sometimes. I keyed over to her channel. “Copy that, there’s not much else to go by, but I’ll keep an eye out at the second location. Maybe something will come up there.”

“Confirmed. Good luck, Lieutenant.”

I noticed she said ‘lieutenant’ strangely, but I chalked it up to her accent, which Jorgan and I had agreed was Imperial. Probably was living on some border world that got liberated by the Republic or something.

Investigating the second set of coordinates proved no more fruitful than the first, although we did find a Republic-issue blaster pistol lying in the brush nearby. Not surprising, we went out assuming the teams were likely captured by some unknown force at first, but more likely dead. Still, it never felt good to see your peoples gear strewn about like that, knowing what it likely went. Dorne had confirmed there were several more of the power converters as well, adding to the mystery of what, exactly, had happened.

As we neared the third set of coordinates, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing. Something was off about the place, something was wrong. There were a ton more power converters, but there were also crates and other items turned over to form rudimentary defensive emplacements. I clicked twice over the comm to Jorgan, who nodded in response. We edged in closer, taking our time.

We were twenty feet from the little encampment when the entire thing blew, throwing my thermal sensors into overdrive. Blaster bolts came out of the explosion, but they barely dented our armor. I saw Jorgan raking the area with his assault cannon, heard a couple of screams and some moaning from up ahead. I leaped into action, using the hydraulics in my boots to vault the smoking ruin of the ‘wall’, landing amongst three shadowy figures that never saw me coming. Three blaster shots and they were down, just as Jorgan finished mopping up the rest.

I never saw the flash bang one of them got off, only felt it as I left my feet and was thrown against one of the crates. When I regained my balance, I took off my helmet to take stock. Everything seemed in order, but Jorgan was shoving me around for some reason.

“Sir, your comm.”

I gave him a puzzled look.

“Your comm, sir. Sergeant Dorne is attempting to contact you.”

I tried to cover my embarrassment by raising my voice. “Of course, Sergeant Dorne is trying to reach me. I’m just letting her stew for a bit. Builds character.”

Jorgan didn’t seem to buy it. “How does that make any sense?”

I didn’t really have an answer for that so I turned away from him and activated the comm.

“Lieutenant, report. Are you injured?” When I didn’t reply right away, her voice took on a note of concern. “Please respond, sir.”

That stupid part of me I mostly kept under control suddenly reared its ugly head, first seizing my vocal cords and then my communicator. “I’m here Sergeant, but I might be hurt. You better come rescue and search me.” That stupid part of my then decided to turn towards Jorgan and give him a thumbs-up, which sparked a strange grin on his face. Dorne was silent for a moment.

“Flirtation and other non-critical communication over priority holochannels are strictly prohibited by procedural guidelines, sir.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s a ‘no’, sir.” Jorgan was always so helpful.

I shook my head. “She only said it was prohibited over priority holochannels. Think about it.” I tapped the side of my head twice, the universal sign of clever thinking. Or maybe it’s the sign of being a *******, I always get those two confused. I heard Dorne over the comm channel again, I was relieved to hear no tension in her voice after my misstep.

“Sir, I have determined that your attackers were a band of scavengers. Colonel Gaff had them classified as non-combatants and as such they were not adequately studied as potential threats.” She sounded increasingly annoyed, but better it was directed at the colonel than me. “Clearly, that designation was inaccurate, and I will update our records accordingly. Armed attacks on Republic personnel clearly warrant a response, but it’s your call, sir.”

“Sergeant Dorne, I like the way you think. Do we have a fix on their base? They may have taken our soldiers back there.” The line went silent for a moment while Dorne accessed the information.

“I am uploading coordinates to your armor. Good luck, sir.” She paused. “I doubt you will require any, though. Dorne out.”

Jorgan was suddenly uncomfortably close to me, elbowing me in the ribs. “Looking good for you, Lieutenant. Maybe you were right about her after all.”

I slammed my helmet back on and made a profane gesture in his direction. “Worry less about my romantic life and more about the mission. And the fact you’re prematurely turning gray and look like a vampire.”

“So you won’t be inviting her to dinner with us again then, sir?” His voice was as innocent as his question was not.

“Shut up, Jorgan.”

I was pleased to note that he was actually listening to me when I told him to be quiet now. We made our way through the swamps relatively easily, aided by a supply camp Sergeant Dorne had pointed out, which had ended up having two speeders available When we arrived outside the scavenger compound, I commed Dorne, who said she’d be scrambling her SAR team to support us. In the meantime, Jorgan and I would get to have some fun.

We stormed through the front gate; subtlety was wasted when the scavengers had absolutely no grasp of basic tactics whatsoever. I blasted a pair with my rifle before wiping out an entire room with an ion pulse wave. Part of me was sickened; this wasn’t warfare, it was slaughter. Mostly, though, I was happy to see the scavengers get what was coming to them, especially as we got closer to their command center, where the ones running the show would be.

I turned a corner and was surprised to see several prison cells with what looked like modern force fields holding their residents in. Republic residents. I generally hated being proven wrong, but in this case I was more than happy to be. Jorgan covered me as I sprinted across the room to the power console. Once the field went down, one of the troops ran up to me, waving his hands excitedly.

“Sir, sir! Boy am I glad to see you here. I can't believe they sent Havoc Squad after us!"

I gave him an exaggerated frown. "Sorry to say, kid, we aren't Havoc Squad. Due to budget cuts, they sent Havoc's stunt doubles."

He stood there, staring at me in dumbfounded silence.

Deciding I didn't want to wait all day for a response, I studied the stripes on the tattered uniform he wore. “Glad to be here, corporal. Is the area secure? Just me and Jorgan here.” I made a vague gesture in Jorgan’s general direction, not wanting to distract my newest and biggest fan.

He glanced over my shoulder and then returned my gaze. “No sir. Most of them bugged out of here as soon as you arrived. They were pretty terrible about keeping secrets though, I mean –“ He cut himself off as Dorne’s voice rang out in the room.

“Torve, Gabbert, Jones, tend to their wounds. Simmons, Hebert, Porcello, cover the exits. We need to stabilize the patients and get moving as soon as possible.” She moved over next to me. I couldn’t help but be impressed at how quickly she and her men had made it out here. “Sir, Search and Rescue reporting as promised.”

The corporal was rolling his eyes. “Hey, look everyone, it’s Dorne. Here to make sure we’re bandaged according to regulations.”

I frowned at that, not sure where the animosity came from. Dorne seemed unusually ruffled by it, though, so I decided to push past it. “You were saying something about secrets, though, corporal?”

He looked over at Dorne with something approaching dangerously close to disdain. “Yes, sir. As I was saying before we were interrupted, they were spending a lot of time talking about their “friends” in the Empire. Turns out there’s Imperials operating on Taris.” He got a smug look on his face as he said that, which only got more irritating as he turned to Dorne. “Hear that, Dorne. You must be pretty excited, you’ll be able to double check all your old friends’ paperwork.”

I could sense how deeply that cut her even if her face didn’t reveal a thing. I also realized where her accent came from. She’s not from a liberated world, she’s from an Imperial one. Her response was to me, not the corporal.

“I was indeed born Imperial, Lieutenant. I trained and then joined the Imperial military, where I served for two years prior to defecting due to personal and moral differences of opinion with the senior staff I served under. I came to the Republic and was granted this position under the purview of Personnel Division. If you have any questions or concerns regarding my background, I would be happy to discuss them once we return to base."

The idiot was opening his mouth to say something else stupid, so I turned on him with a fury I hadn’t felt in a long time. “You will show respect to your superior officers, particularly those putting their neck out on the line for you. Another word along those lines and I might well leave you in here. Now, report!”

Sulking now, he continued his story. “Evidently they’re working for some guy named Needles, who’s running some kind of experiments. They’ll have some data on their system, they didn’t erase it in time. Locations, supply lists, all the good stuff.” He couldn’t resist giving Dorne a look out of the side of his eye, but it died when he noticed my death-stare.

“You said ‘Needles’? Are you absolutely sure about that?” I noticed Jorgan paying closer attention to.

“One hundred percent sure, sir. Needles was his code name.”

Jorgan and I exchanged a look, before he went over to start assessing the scavengers’ information.

“Dorne, check on that data, then report back to me at Olaris. Getting late for a second operation, and Jorgan and I could use some freshening up. Especially Jorgan.” I twisted my face into an approximation of a Cathar vampire. Dorne refrained from laughing, but only barely.

The debriefing back at base was quick but entirely satisfying. The mouthy corporal had been exactly right – the scavengers had left us with valuable intel on their own supplies and camps and also the precise location of the Imperial unit they were in communication with. We hammered out an actionable plan and tomorrow we’d take out Needles and whatever else lay in our way.

On our way out, it occurred to me that I’d almost forgotten to follow up from the previous night. “So, Dorne, you going to join us for dinner tonight, or are you ‘working’ again?” I made sure to emphasize the playfulness of my accusation.

“I believe I have time for dinner, sir. It would be nice to have some company.” Her voice was sad and hopeful at the same time. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, so I kept it cool. Like you always do, nerf-herder.

“We’ll meet you in the mess hall in twenty, then.” I noticed the barest hint of a smile crossing her face. “Also, you should smile more. That’s an order.”

She looked slightly taken aback, but I noticed that her smile grew slightly. “Very well, sir.”
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar

07.12.2013 , 08:48 PM | #28
Dorne ended up being better company than she would have seemed at first. Not surprising that she's so reserved, if she’s catching flak about her background. Some part of me was absurdly happy to see her happy, compared to the palpable sadness about the way Gaff and the others seemed to treat her regularly. I did wish I’d paid more attention to Rissa when she’d been talking about her medical stuff, I might have even made a good impression on Dorne.

Thirty minutes in, I excused myself for seconds. The food was surprisingly good, much better than anything the damned ship's droid could whip up. I also wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to avoid embarrassing myself in front of her with one of my jokes. For some reason, people never seemed to appreciate them as much as I did.

“Can I get you another cold one, sir?” Jorgan had snuck up behind me in line without me noticing.

I shook my head. “I’m going to stick with some juice tonight, keep my head clear. I also distinctly remember telling you to call me Ayrs or Martell off-duty, though.”

He shrugged as a conspiratorial smile crossed his face, made even more absurd by his sickly appearance and the white moustache he seemed to be growing. “First time I’ve ever seen you turn down a beer. Trying to impress someone with clear-headed conversation?”

My face felt a little warmer, so I turned to teh side and hoped he didn’t notice. “Just trying to be a bit smarter about my eating habits is all. Plus, remember the last time we were in a mess hall and I had one too many?”

“The nerf steak incident,” he replied flatly. I nodded solemnly, desperate to change the subject. He didn’t bite. “Still, I can’t help but wonder about you tonight.”

I glared at him, he glared at me. We both glared at the pasty-faced ensign that tried to cut in front of me in line. The poor man never realized what trouble he had gotten himself into until that moment, at which point he quickly sidestepped back behind us. Jorgan and I shuffled forward.

“Fine, get me a beer. Get me two beers even.”

He smirked, and wandered over to the area for beverages.

By the time we both returned to our table, I noticed Dorne had already cleaned her stuff up, arranging it in neat order. I had to bite down real hard on my lip to avoid a stupid grin.

“I’ve greatly enjoyed our meal, sir, but unfortunately I have several matters to attend to before I turn in for the night.” She gave a small, wistful, smile. “It was quite nice to change my normal evening routine, however.” I rose with her, only polite thing to do after all. Jorgan followed suit after giving me a dirty look.

As Dorne made her way to the exit, something occurred to me. “Sergeant, you wouldn’t be the same Dorne that wrote a paper for the Imperial Medical Journal or whatever are you?”

For the first time since we’d first encountered her, Dorne let her guard down, her lips twisting into an unabashed smile. “Sir, I – uh – yes, sir that was me. I was unaware you spent time reading medical journals.” I couldn’t quite tell if she was teasing me with the last bit.

“Um, no, a friend of mine did. But whatever you wrote really impressed her, and if you could really impress her, you impress me.” I hoped that sounded as good as it did in my head.

Apparently, it did, because her smile grew and her face brightened even further, and for a moment Elara Dorne could have outshone the twin suns of Tatooine. I gave her a roguish smile, which she wrinkled her nose at slightly before exiting the room.

“You going to eat that?” I felt Jorgan poking me with a fork, and turned to see him motioning at some of my pasta.

“Yes, yes I am. Go get your own damn pasta if you want.” I had the sneaking suspicion his faux-innocence was about to revealed as a sham.

“Well, I wasn’t sure. You seemed awfully preoccupied with making the sergeant feel good about herself, not so much with your food. I figured I might help you avoid unnecessary wasting of food.”

I frowned. “I had no idea you were so concerned about wasting supplies.”

“It’s not just my concern. Think of all regulations you’d be breaking, all the paperwork Dorne would have had to fill out. Of course, she seems the type to enjoy that. Should have thought it through.” His eyes betrayed only the slightest hint of amusement.

“Jorgan?” I kept my voice as light as possible.


“Shut. Up.”

“Yessir.” He fired off a salute and we ate the rest of our meal in silence.

The next morning was a decent one, lower temperatures and the sun wasn’t quite as blazing hot as it had been. Dorne had uploaded the information on the Imperial hideout into our system and wished us luck. She’d seemed slightly more chipper – if that word could ever be used to properly describe her – which seemed like a good enough sign that I’d made the right call in inviting her to join us. We made the right call. Jorgan had kept his mouth shut the entire time, and we’d managed to avoid running into Colonel Gaff as well.

All in all, quite the successful morning.

The hideout was located in part of some old complex that had been semi-renovated before being abandoned by the workers on Taris, not too heavily guarded either. Dorne had theorized that there might be large numbers of rakghouls in the area, though, which might make things interesting, though. The plan was straightforward – investigate the area, and proceed into the place to extract or kill Needles if the opportunity arose. Gaff had been brought into the loop, in case there were more substantial Imperial forces, though I doubted he would assist us if things got hairy. I didn’t much like the look he gave Dorne as he left, either.

When we got our first look at the place, I was fairly underwhelmed. The ‘complex’ that appeared on our map was nowhere to be found. In its place was a series of large pipes, probably some sort of sewage system from the Taris that had been. Plenty of rakghouls though, more than enough to qualify for some kind of award, if killing rakghouls was some kind of achievement.

Jorgan and I made our way through the system with help from Dorne, who guided us through as best she could from the maps she dug up. The rakghouls weren’t much of a problem, just a waste of time.

“I have to admit, Dorne’s pretty useful for helping us recover from Gaff’s incompetence.” Jorgan’s praise seemed sincere, so I nodded. “I can see why you like having her around.”
I bit my tongue and soldiered on.

We arrived outside the entrance to the Imperial’s hideout. Nothing fancy, just a reinforced blast door; not even any cameras outside to monitor what was going on. I couldn’t quite blame them – I doubted anyone would want to watch recordings of rakghouls moving about for hours on end – especially when their sloppiness was so handy. Jorgan placed a couple of charges on the door, then we high-tailed it out of harm’s way.

The door- not the sturdiest to begin with, let alone for dealing with military-grade ordinance - exploded in a spectacular pyrotechnical display. There were a pair of grunts behind it, still cowering in fear as my blaster took them out. Jorgan swept the room with his cannon, eliminating the remaining threats. The place was small, even smaller than we’d anticipated. From the readings my armor’s sensors were giving, we had only two rooms ahead of us, a command center of some sort, and a back entrance. We needed to move quickly to head off anyone trying to escape.

The second room proved to be completely empty, just some terminals the Imperials had left running in their haste to escape. The third held the majority of the ‘garrison’, such as it was. Four troopers and a couple of techs. Two of the troopers survived our grenades, and they both were cut down quickly. My sensors still showed someone up ahead in command center. I looked over at Jorgan, who nodded briskly and took up position on the opposite side of the door way.

I counted down on my fingers. 3...2…1…Jorgan kicked the door in. I strode in behind him, searching the room for its occupant.

It turned out to be easier than I had expected, as a middle-aged man with a frail-looking frame crawled out from behind the desk. He had his arms raised and was clearly no threat, so I lowered my rifle, not wanting to give the geezer a heart attack before he revealed any information he might have.

“Keep those arms where I can see them.” He nodded quickly, raising his arms a little higher. “Who are you, and where’s Needles?”

His voice shook as he spoke. “Wh-who am I? Just a lowly clerk. I-I don’t know anyone named Needles.”

Great, he’s trying to play the hero. I popped a holo of Needles from my armor for his viewing pleasure. “Ryler Dorant. Needles. I know you know him because we’ve been following a chain of evidence. Want to try again, old man?”

He nodded. “S-sorry. He’s doing ex-experiments of some kind. On creatures.” I raised my blaster pistol, just to scare him a bit and encourage a better memory. “Rak-rakghouls. Out in the swamps, I can show you where.”

My comm beeped furiously. Dorne. I wondered what she was up to, since she must have seen I was busy. I keyed over to her channel. “Sergeant?”

“Sir, do not trust this man. His name is Thorus and I served with him in the Empire. The man is a war criminal.” Her voice was cold with fury, and the man’s name seemed familiar for some reason. “If you would, please transfer this call to a projector so I may confirm my suspicion.”

I transferred the connection to the holopanel on the console next to us. A holographic Dorne popped into existence. Her jaw set more firmly when she saw the old man in front of me; he looked no happier to see her.

“Dorne….Dorne is that you?”

She ignored him, and turned her attention to me. “Sir, this is Colonel Bail Thorus. I served under him prior to defecting, and personally witnessed him ordering the bombings of civilian targets.” Her mouth twisted in disgust. “The man is responsible for deaths of thousands of civilians. He is a war criminal and must not be allowed to escape.”

Thorus’ eyes grew and went wild with fear. “I –I am a soldier, just like you.”

I pointed my pistol directly at his faith. “No, you’re not like me. Last I checked, I don’t go around murdering civilians or ordering their deaths.” Jorgan folded his arms in front of his chest and stepped behind Thorus, who threw a datapad in my direction.

“Th-there you are. A-all the information you need to track down Needles. I swear. Just let me go, I won’t stop you.”

I glanced over at Dorne’s hologram. “You know him better than I do, Sergeant. Your thoughts?”

She sounded angry, almost as angry as Jorgan had been the time I replaced his Corellian ale with tap water. “I respectfully recommend you discharge your weapon into his skull, sir. Men like Thorus don’t deserve to make deals.

Images flashed before me, from my time with the 23rd. Nemros IV. The pirate base with information on the attack on Ithaca. Their Imperial contact.

“Thorus….” I heard a low, guttural growl. A moment later I realized it had come from me. “What was Operation Forward Sweep to you?” He looked at me with a blank expression on his face, so I placed my pistol’s barrel up against his forehead.

That got a reaction.

“I-I was just a staff officer. I didn’t know anything at all.”

“********.” I shook him by his collar. “How were you involved, you piece of ****?”

“We a-attacked soft targets. Civilian targets. I assisted in planning the operation. For the Empire, nothing more.”

Jorgan cleared his throat. “Sir, we better get moving. My suit picked up a distress beacon that was activated. He probably has backup in coming. We don’t have time for a lengthy interrogation or for taking him in.”

My mind was racing. “Dorne, do you stand by what you said earlier?”

Her voice was a bit more collected this time. “Yes, sir. In my opinion, Colonel Thorus has never demonstrated any interest in reforming and would gladly leap at the opportunity to commit any of a number of heinous acts in the name of the Empire. He is a danger not only to the Republic but also to anyone that might prove to be an opportune target.”

I raised my pistol and pointed it at his head. “I’m going to have to agree with Sergeant Dorne on this one.”

Her image flickered. “You’re signal is breaking up, sir, I’ll have to reboot the system.” Dorne’s image faded away. Clever girl.

Thorus, finally realizing that I was entirely serious, tried to make a run for it. “No! It’s not fair! It’s not right!” His arms flailed as he made his futile dash for freedom.

I pulled the trigger. The bolt took him between the shoulders, lifting him off the ground and hurling him across the room and into the wall. “Don’t talk to me about fair.” My voice raised into a scream. “Don’t talk to me about what’s right!” I sensed Jorgan nodding his approval behind me.

We stood there in silence for some time. Finally, after hearing a pair of beeps from his armor, Jorgan gave me a funny look. It was only then that I realized my hands were shaking.

“Let’s go home, sir. We can tell me about it then.”
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar

07.17.2013 , 11:11 AM | #29

I was in that unpleasant place in between hung-over and merely feeling terrible when I woke up. I didn’t quite remember whether it was the number of beers I’d had or the fact the alcohol was probably made from rakghoul bodily secretions that had done the number on me, but I hadn’t felt quite this bad since back at the Academy. Fortunately, it seemed like Jorgan wasn’t much better off; I’d always assumed he’d have a stronger tolerance for alcohol than me, but I had realized it was quite the opposite. I can use every advantage I can get.

I couldn’t quite remember how much I’d said, how much I’d revealed, but it couldn’t have been much, judging from the look he gave me as he made his way to the refresher. I’d seen that look before from the foolish cadets that had challenged me at the pub on campus. Come one, come all, none can challenge the beer-drinking prowess of Ayrs Martell.

Our briefing with Dorne was scheduled to begin in a half an hour, so I regretfully pushed myself out of bed and rolled over towards the dresser, trying not to notice how bright the sun from outside was or how loud Jorgan’s breathing seemed to be. I slapped on my more casual jumpsuit at first, but Dorne had warned us that Colonel Gaff might be attending, so I decided discretion was the better part of valor. Just wish the proper uniform didn’t itch so much.

By the time Jorgan was done preening in the shower, it was too late to grab breakfast before the briefing. After I sufficiently outlined my completely justified disappointment in him, both as a roommate and a person, we made our way back to the command center. Jorgan kept scratching at his neck, but I assumed that it had something to do with whatever illness he seemed to have caught on arrival. He insisted it was just a bug and that the medics would patch him up just fine, but something was still off. Of course, if something wasn’t off with him, he wouldn’t be Aric Jorgan.

Dorne was on her own, which was a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t help but smile at her. Well, smile at her being there without Gaff, of course. Jorgan sounded like he was coughing up a hairball, but I chose to ignore him. Dorne noticed our arrival and smiled slightly at me, waving us towards a pair of chairs. There was an empty pair across the room from us, sparking a puzzled look that she must have noticed.

“In light of the increased priority of this mission, I requisitioned some additional resources for the operation.”

Even as I raised an eyebrow, our “resources” showed up, the Jedi from the spaceport and her far-superior-to-Jorgan sidekick. Jorgan and I both rose to our feet, me because Mom always taught me to be polite and Jorgan because he knew that you could never go wrong following in my footsteps. Mostly.

I reached out my hand to shake the Jedi’s. “Amitia, right? I’m good with names so you’re going to say yes.” I winked in her direction, which drew eye-rolling from everyone, even her.

“Ready to assist the Republic’s finest. And not-so-finest too, when the occasion calls for it.” She gave me a wink right back, which slightly lifted my crushed spirits. I thought I noticed Jorgan drooling out of the side of my eye, but I chose to ignore it. Amitia and Kira took their seats.

Dorne moved to the display with an expression that was a mixture of annoyance and amusement, one that I had a lot of experience with.

She used a laser pointer to outline Needles’ base, which seemed a lot less annoying to get to than the Imperial place we’d found Thorus at. “The approach will be relatively simple, particularly with two skilled Jedi assisting with the operation. Unfortunately, one of our advanced scouts reported what appears to be a Sith present, though we don’t know who it is or what their capabilities are.” She paused and looked apologetically at the two Jedi. “Hence our request for assistance.”

I leaned back in my chair. “Unfortunately, we won’t be able to use our usual tactic of scaring our enemies to death with Jorgan’s face, since the Sith feed off fear.” I looked around the room at stony faces. "Because, you see, scaring the Sith would..."

The room was silent for a moment before Dorne continued, shaking her head.

“Detailed satellite analysis has determined the outpost is not heavily guarded by a standard garrison, however it is entirely possible that reinforcements will arrive in the meantime. I will be monitoring the operation from this room and will have SAR teams at the ready should you require them. Are there any questions or other matters that I can attend to?”

The two Jedi shook their heads, as did I. Jorgan was too busy gawking at Amitia, so I elbowed him in the ribs to get his attention. He gave me a sharp look, then shook his head along with the rest of us. Dorne gave us a faint smile as we left; I liked to think it was a delayed reaction to my joke.

We travelled to the area around Needles’ base enjoying blasts of humid Tarisian air, thanks to Jorgan damaging the roof controls with his assault cannon when he got into the speeder. Neither of the Jedi seemed particularly concerned about the Sith Lord, but it worried me greatly. Not just because of its tactical implications – that’s why we had the two Jedi along, after all – but because it probably meant that whatever Needles was working on was probably nearing completion. And you don’t send a galactic-level creep like Needles out to Taris unless you’ve got something particularly nasty in mind.

The sitrep from Dorne’s scouts hiding in the rubble didn’t add much to our analysis – Dorne’s briefing was as thorough as ever, a welcome change from Garza’s attempts to get us to do the maximum possible with the least amount of information possible. Jorgan and I slipped our helmets on and crept ahead until the building came into view. There were two sentries in sight; I looked over at Jorgan and nodded. We both adjusted our weapons and sighted them on our respective targets.

I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder.

“We could take them prisoner instead, there’s no need for excessive bloodshed. These Imperial soldiers aren’t the ones we’re really after, and killing them will alert everyone else inside.” It was the older Jedi, Amitia. Her compatriot looked less than convinced, as was Jorgan. As am I.

“Maybe, but I’m pretty sure those spheres up above are cameras, so we’ll get seen either way. I don’t have any pathological need to kill Imperials, but I’d rather not jeopardize our mission.” I glanced over and saw her nod slightly. I made a hand gesture at Jorgan and we took our shots; both sentries went down. We sprinted forward, zigzagging a bit in case there were any other sentries in place covering the entrance. Luck – or maybe the Force – was with us, though, and we got through just fine.

The building, more of a bunker really, was a pretty standard structure with repetitive hallways and square rooms designed for economical use. We encountered only three more Imperials in the outer section, and we dealt with them easily enough. Amitia took point as we neared a large central chamber, just in case we ran into the Sith the scout had claimed was lurking somewhere inside. As luck would have it, we did.

He stood about six and a half feet tall, his red skin and strange facial features marking him as a pureblood Sith, first one I’d ever seen. His eyes were a glowing yellow and they looked capable of piercing armor if he looked at you just right. I turned to Amitia. “He’s probably the ugliest thing I’d ever seen other than Jorgan in his civvies.” She snickered silently while Jorgan futilely attempted to bore holes in my helmet with his eyes.

Kira and her exchanged glances, then shrugged their robes off so they could fight in the more practical armor they wore underneath. It made me wonder why they wore the robes in the first place, but I guess it was all part of the Jedi mystique. I wonder if I can get robes like that somewhere.

“We’ll take care of this one. Sith lords are our specialty.”

She smiled tightly at me as she strode into the room. Kira trailed behind with a slightly puzzled look. “They are?” By then, Amitia was already halfway to the Sith and whistled to draw his attention. His already frightening features twisting into a rage-filled grimace.

Jorgan and I took that as our cue to move on, so we slipped past the trio of angry Force-users and moved further into the complex. I heard lightsabers clashing, and said a silent prayer to the Maker for our friends. Our job was far simpler; the few Imperials that we encountered were clearly either new or incompetent, or both; we barely even broke a sweat as we swept the compound clear and headed for the command center. Our protocol droid could outfight these guys.

We found Needles in front of a bank of consoles, standing next to a rakghoul and a shaking Imperial officer who had a syringe hanging out of his shoulder. I raised my pistol and aimed it at Needles’ head as we walked into sight. “Keep your hands where I can see them, boys and…err rakghoul. Come in quietly and you’ll be taken care of as Republic prisoners. Don’t…and you’ll be looking worse than your rakghoul friend over here.”

Needles turned and smiled creepily. Of course, he did everything creepily. “Welcome, gentlemen. The young whelp returns to its master, and the mangy cat follows dutifully.” His lips twisted slightly as he got excited. “I was just running low on test subjects, and two able-bodied ones walk right in. Do try not to resist, it will make the process less painful.”

The Imperial that had been with them was writhing around and making weird noises. As we watched in horror, he transformed into a rakghoul quite like the one already standing next to Needles. I felt queasy, and heard Jorgan holding back his gag reflex over the comm.

“You’re sick Needles. And you’re about to be put down like the mad dog you are.”

He laughed. “Vorzoth, have fun with this one.”

The large rakghoul flew at me faster than I thought possible, knocking my pistol away from me and hurling me across the room. I hit the wall across the way with a loud crunch and felt dizzy as I tried to get up. I saw Jorgan take down the unfortunate Imperial with a clean shot to the face, but Needles’ fire was keeping him pinned down and the rakghoul that had gotten up close and personal with me was coming his way. I had to end it fast.

I pushed myself off the ground and drove forward, grabbing a grenade from my belt and pulling the pin. As I got into range and hurled it towards him, I called out, “Research this, Dorant,” and then ducked behind a console. He didn’t have time to scream. When I turned to Jorgan, I found him locked in hand-to-hand with the rakghoul, with his back blocking any kind of shot.

“Jorgan. Jorgan, I need you to get out of my line of fire.” He grunted but the rakghoul held him in place despite his best efforts. Sooner or later it'd find a way past his armor and...

I was still making my way over to help him when a glowing purple rod flew through the air and decapitated the rakghoul, who never knew what hit him. It returned from its source, which proved to be our intrepid Jedi friends, looking little worse for the wear. Amitia waved casually, as if she’d encountered us on a walk through a park. “Hey guys, thought you might need a hand.”

Jorgan pulled off his helmet and shook his head before looking her way. “Marry me.”

I smirked. “Might want to reconsider that. Pretty sure she was aiming at your head and just missed, Jorgan.” Surprisingly, even Jorgan chuckled at that.

We took stock of the situation. The decapitated rakghoul was down, the transformed Imperial was too. Needles was nothing more than a bloody smear on the floor, but his research was still somewhere in this system. I navigated through his computer until I found it.

“You know, Garza would love to get her hands on this stuff, might be able to find a way to use it against the Imperials.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Jorgan, you want…that to happen again?” I pointed at what was left of the transformed Imperial. “It’s ghastly, it’s inhumane, it’s not what we’re about.”

He shrugged slightly. “It also might save Republic lives. Just a thought.”

I felt distinctly uncomfortable, but he had a point. I felt Amitia’s eyes on me, more accusatory than any words could be. It was the same way Pa would look at me if I did something wrong or look at Veresia if she used her Force powers the wrong way. I know I didn’t want to let either of them down, and I knew they wouldn’t be the only ones if I made the wrong choice here.

“No…we can’t do that. If we start turning people into monsters, we become monsters ourselves. I’m destroying the research. Better for everyone that anything Needles-related dies with him.” Jorgan nodded and remained silent as I finished the job. “Let's go celebrate."

Amitia pumped a fist into the air.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

bright_ephemera's Avatar

07.17.2013 , 11:47 AM | #30
Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
Needles turned and smiled creepily. Of course, he did everything creepily.
And after all, isn't that why we love him? No? Just me?

Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
I pushed myself off the ground and drove forward, grabbing a grenade from my belt and pulling the pin. As I got into range and hurled it towards him, I called out, “Research this, Dorant,” and then ducked behind a console. He didn’t have time to scream.
Simple yet awesome.
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