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By: Dragon

Word Count: 4964

The clock struck 1:21 a.m., and my anxiety waltzed in like it owned the place. I could also feel the migraine approaching from klicks away. Since I was assigned to the Vigilant, my direct superior, a karking, clueless, pompous bureaucrat, decided the first order of business was to 'expeditiously' resolve the illegal booze situation that plagued the ship. We are supposed to be the blade in the dark that protects the New Republic from enemies known and unknown. We're not rent-a-cops. I've recently discovered an actual threat, but lard-ass wouldn't have it. Booze or bust, he said. So here we are.

I managed to ask for help, and it was extremely difficult. I even tried to dress up for the occasion, but failed. I ended up back where I started, in my NRI uniform. I glanced at the clock: 1:29 a.m. The wait was killing me.

As the final minute counted down, I wondered if I'd be stood up. Perhaps he was just drukking with me. We have clashed a few times in the past, and he seemed to enjoy pushing my buttons, but he was the best option I had.

He hadn't arrived yet, my anxiety wasn't backing down, and I was left wondering if I had made the right call. I didn't know who I could trust, but I took a gamble on him. After all, he's blunt to a fault. Liars and cheats couldn't do that. I checked the clock again, 1:30 a.m. on the dot. I sighed. He's not coming.

Not even a second later, I heard three knocks on my door. I felt a jolt in the pit of my stomach, and I couldn't help but smile. What's wrong with me? Why am I acting like a teenager? I shook my head and opened the door. He was there, as he said he would be, wearing combat fatigues and a leather jacket. Okay, just be hospitable and friendly. You know, the normal things people do when they have visitors?

"2nd Lieutenant Arcfire," I said. No! What are you doing, Darlene?! Why can't you be normal!?


"Right, of course," I nodded, and froze for a second. "Ah, yeah, come on in."

I sat down and pointed at my holo-terminal screen displaying graph lines, spikes, and . . .

"That's a lot of data," Dragon said. "What are you monitoring?"

"Transmissions originating from the Vigilant."

"All of them?"


"Why?" Dragon folded his arms.

I touched the screen and the graphs became less spiky. "Now, these are the Vigilant's legitimate transmissions. I've been watching for the past few weeks, and I'm almost certain someone's broadcasting something when our regular transmissions go out."

"That's definitely a problem." Dragon nodded. "It could be anyone, however."

"Yes, but our culprit is either a creature of habit, or got careless." I flicked through a few more screens. "As of late, most of these illegitimate transmissions originate from random spots in the maintenance or Hangar Bay areas. It could be a decoy, I'm aware, and there's a lot of ground to cover, but that's all we got."

Dragon frowned. "Why tell me all this? I'm not a slicer or a techie; Wizard, Ensign Troy, that is, would've been a far better option. Besides, I'm a high-ranking member of the Secret Order of the Emperor, remember?"

"You were," I added quickly.

"That was not your tune when you interrogated me about that salvage operation gone-to-the-porgs in the Ord Biniir Scrapyard." His eyes narrowed.

I massaged my temples as the stress kicked into overdrive and the migraine stomped like a hired primate running security for a dive bar. "I, l—look, I know . . . I—I'm s—sorry, okay?"

"Why call me, then?"

Oh, for kark's sake. I grit my teeth, trying to keep it together. He wasn't letting go, was he? Like a predator with his jaws firmly shut around the neck of his prey. You stubborn . . . you're starting to grind my gears now, you know that? But I will keep it together. I opened my mouth to speak. "B—because, well, you are the only one I feel I can trust with this."

"What? Why?"


I plopped down on my chair and buried my face in my hands. Yep, that went from zero to kark in less than two seconds. Way to go, me. I sighed. This was a terrible idea, I should apologize and . . . wait, i—is . . . is he l—laughing?

"Well Darling, I've never been accused of being hard to read." Dragon grinned. "Where do we start?"

What? "W—what?" I blinked. He caught me completely off-guard. I don't understand. I sat there, staring at him.

"Yeah." He pointed at the screen. "The investigation."

"The . . . oh." I finally snapped out of it. "Right, yes. Well, I've done all I can from this end. We should do some old-fashioned detective work, you know? Let's talk to the people in maintenance and see what we can find."

Dragon shook his head. "Since when did public relations become our middle name, Darling?"

I tried to get angry at the jab, but failed miserably. I almost found it funny for some reason. I smiled at him. "Come on, let's go."


CRS Vigilant: Hangar Bay

The atmosphere in the hangar bay felt thick, like breathing through a well-worn respirator in dire need of filter replacements. Maintenance techs came and went, and Dragon suggested checking in with Chief Wakachangi first. It made sense, and it was unlikely he would turn up as the culprit, but I remained apprehensive. I approached the wookiee, while Dragon stayed behind to keep an eye on things.

"Wyaaaaaa." Wakachangi let out a soft howl.

"Hello, Chief Wakachangi," I said. "May we have a moment of your time?"

"Harro," he growled.

"We are conducting an investigation over a series of events that may have put the Vigilant at risk in the past, and that could pose a grave danger in the near future. Is it okay if we talk to your techs? We found evidence that illegal activities may be underway here."

"Grrrrrupmprrr! Yyyuurrrrrrruuunghh."

I stepped closer to the wookiee and whispered. "I understand, but this is a very delicate matter." I looked into Wakachangi's eyes. "We suspect the presence of a traitor, or even an Imperial spy, but we need to talk to your techs."

"Arrrgrrr?" Wakachangi let out a sharp growl.

"Yes, we will let you know if we find anything, but you can't talk about this to anybody. We don't want to spook the culprit, if there's one."

"Mmmmmmrrrrr, grrrrrrrrgaahga." The wookiee nodded.

I walked back to Dragon, who'd been casually watching the ebb and flow of the bay. "That went well, I think. My Shyriiwook is rudimentary at best, but we managed to communicate." Dragon didn't acknowledge me at all. He seemed to be in some kind of intense trance, like that of a predator tracking prey. I looked in the direction he was so intently focused on, and saw bustling activity within the hangar bay; the sounds of welding, tools, hydraulics, footsteps, and chatter filled the air, but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.

"Keep an eye out on that one," Dragon whispered, nodding subtly with his head.

It was a nondescript human male, balding, with brown eyes, and a well-groomed beard. He was working on the engines of an A-wing. Fellow didn't seem like much, but appearances could be deceiving. "All right, I'm going to start with that group of techs over there. What are you going to do?"

"I'll go talk to her," Dragon pointed at a girl with long hair. "Her name's Ashley, an acquaintance of mine. She might know something."

Why does it bother me to know he's talking to another girl? I don't understand! "Okay." Grumbling, I set off to project my best public relations image . . . in an NRI uniform. I should've taken the dress. I raised a hand to get the techs' attention, and saw an immediate scowl on their faces. Oh, this is going to be great.

"Yeah?" said one of them. He seemed quite wary of my presence.

"We dun like spooks 'ere," growled the big, meaty one of the group. "Specially not dem from infernal affairs."

"I bet," I flashed my winning smile. "I don't like spooks either!" Fortunately, my winning smile, which has never won me anything but headaches, seemed to deflect some of the tension and the third tech chuckled.

"Oh, you can't be a spook then," the third tech said as he picked up a rag. "You have a sense of humor."

I'm sure Dragon would disagree, but who am I to argue with results? "You know it. I should've been a prizefighter, but life seldom goes the way we want, hm?"

"Ain't that the truth." He finished wiping his hands and tossed the rag onto the workbench. "How may we help you, miss?


"What'cha need, Darlene?"

"I'm conducting a routine investigation to make sure everything's working as intended in the Vigilant. Have any of you noticed anything out of the ordinary?"

The first tech responded quickly. "Naw, everything's quite normal down here. Patch them holes for the flyboys and flygals, and perform the odd miracle here and there."

"Well," the second tech interjected. "I saw dem lights losing power 'ere and there. Not like losing, losing, mind you, just dem don't glow as bright. Flickerin' sometimes, like a pattern. Zhelldays, I think, near end of shift, 'round 5 to 7 p.m."

Hm, someone is definitely using our transmissions as cover. "I'll make sure the lights get looked at promptly. Anything else?"

"Yeah," the third tech nodded. "There's this fella, Janseek Kodd. That one over there. He's been missing a lot of shifts lately, but no one seems to care."

I tensed up, but when I looked at the man the tech was pointing at, it wasn't the same one who Dragon singled out. It was also possible that the techs were just saying things to get me out of their way, or to have a laugh at my expense. Either way, it didn't matter. "Thank you for your help." Public relations? More like public rejections . . .

My leads were wobblier than a used sheet of flimsiplast, but I approached Janseek Kodd. The conversation was fruitless. It turned out Mr. Kodd suffered from Quannot's Syndrome, which explained his regular absences, and the patch of Perigen confirmed it. Unfortunately, that threw me back to square one, where I had no legs to stand on.

I kept talking to people with dwindling enthusiasm, and I got a feeling that this was just a giant wild bantha chase that would end up at lard-ass' desk alongside my forced resignation. Or perhaps not. Another tech, Misa Talzuk, pointed at the balding fellow Dragon was keeping tabs on. She said his name was Solan Ordona, and that he never talked to anybody. Not really enough to peg him as a suspect, but I got nothing else. I headed in Ordona's direction. The moment he saw me, he put his tools down and walked away. I picked up the pace.

Ordona glanced over his shoulder and then broke into a full-on sprint. I followed without thinking.

"Dragon!" I called out.

He was lagging behind, as both Ordona and I got a head start. I had no time to wait for him.


Ordona ran as if a pack of angry Rancors were chasing him, but he was not getting away, not from me. I pushed harder. I was faster, and I was gaining on him.

The chase led us out of the hangar bay and into the lower corridors, or subsectors, of the CRS Vigilant, and into the maintenance tunnels. I lost track of Dragon, but I couldn't afford to slow down. Ordona took a sharp left, and I followed, crossing a threshold . . . that shut behind me.

"Well, well, well, Ms. NRI Agent. Think you're clever?"

"Quite so," I said. In the low light I saw the telltale glint of a vibroknife. I had my A-180 blaster on me, but I wasn't going to be able to draw and shoot at this distance. Not without getting stabbed.

"Say goodnight, clever girl!" Ordona charged, bringing the vibroknife up towards my neck. I dodged to the right, using my left forearm to deflect and push his weapon arm away. I shifted my weight to my right foot as I brought my right arm close to my body. He swung the vibroknife wildly, and I felt the blade catch behind my left shoulder. Just a scratch. I threw a right-hand uppercut with all I had.

Ordona's eyes opened wide as my fist smashed onto his jaw.

He went down like a sack of Corellian potatoes, and his vibroknife clattered in the penumbra. I jumped on top of him, driving my fists into his face, one after the other, with really bad intentions. My purpose was to rearrange each and every one of his brain cells until none were left.

Suddenly, I felt pressure on my neck, which increased steadily. Breathing became harder, an ordeal, really, and my vision blurred. Choke hold! But who? Accomplice? I struggled on principle, but I knew I was done for.

"That's enough, Darling."

W—what? I struggled harder. I wasn't going down like this.

"Please, don't make me put you to sleep."

T—that, that voice is . . . "D—Dragon?"


I relaxed and stopped struggling, feeling relieved, annoyed, and wanting to cry—and I'll never admit to that last part—but mostly relieved. "Why did you assault a superior officer, 2nd Lieutenant?" Ugh, my attempts at humor might be worse than his pickup lines.

"Because the Captain was about to murder the suspect," he replied.

"Hmph, like you care about scum like him," I protested. "Had it been you, it would've taken us weeks to collect all the pieces."

"You're right, but there's a time and a place, and this is not the time. Are you willing to throw the investigation away? There's a bigger threat in the shadows."

"I . . . yeah, fair point." Why did I feel good being in his arms?

Dragon relaxed his grip, but held onto me until he was certain I could stand on my own. I felt a bit dizzy from the choke still, but it wasn't terrible. Solan Ordona, on the other hand, looked like a raw bantha hamburger gone bad.

"You definitely did a number on him," he said while applying bacta spray to my left shoulder. I tried to touch the wound, but he pushed my hand aside, giving me a stern look.

"He tried to kill me!"

"I know," he squeezed my uninjured shoulder gently. "Now let's get security and a medical team ASAP. We don't want Mr. Banthaburger here to die while we're chatting."

I nodded and pulled out my comlink. "This is Captain Darlene Orvan. I require security and a medical team in subsector 3-2579. We have a suspect in custody for treason and attempted murder."


CRS Vigilant: Medbay

Solan Ordona was successfully stabilized and put in a Bacta Tank, and then transferred to the recovery wing. A medical droid checked my shoulder wound and applied some sutures with a laser—protocol, it said. Dragon had been here with me the entire time, but he'd said next to nothing. Sometimes I wondered what went on in his mind. I didn't understand him. The clock read 7:45 a.m. We'd been here at least an hour and a half, and I didn't know what was taking so kriffing long.


CRS Vigilant: Solan Ordona's Room, Medbay

Solan Ordona opened his still-puffy eyes. He looked like the rear-end of the galaxy, and felt worse.

"Good morning, Mr. Ordona," said a grave voice.

"Wait, please, I can explain . . ."

The figure, dressed in immaculate white, walked to the right side of Ordona's bed. "Tsk, tsk, you know exactly what I think of excuses, and you have many. Should I remind you what will happen if you continue to tread that path?"


"Oh, so we've reached understanding, then?" The man in white produced a small, rectangular metallic object. "You will be released from this medical facility momentarily, but you remain in delicate condition. Strap this device to your wrist. It will monitor your vitals, and it will notify us in case of an emergency."

Ordona merely stared at the doctor with querying eyes.

"If at any moment you feel unwell, press this button over here. This is a matter of the utmost importance, of life and death, really. Do you understand?"


"Good. That lovely NRI Agent and his gruff companion seem eager to talk to you. Be mindful of your health, and of those who depend on you. I have told you this numerous times before, but you don't listen to medical advice. Please do try not to blunder again, yes?

"Yes, doctor."

"Perfect. I will finish the arrangements and the paperwork pertaining to your discharge from the facility. I bid you good day, and good health, Mr. Ordona."

"Thank you, doctor."


I felt pretty restless, having downed at least five cups of Kaf. This has got to be the cheapest stuff I've ever drank. I think antifreeze might be a notch or two above it. Grown and brewed for anyone who wishes to pull all-nighters, but lacks a palate. It works, but it's drukking foul.

A doctor stepped into the waiting room, someone I didn't recognize. Perhaps a new arrival? "Captain Darlene Orvan?" He said.

"That would be me." I nodded.

"The paperwork has been taken care of, and a security detail is ready to escort your prisoner to interrogation. I just need your signature." He handed me a datapad.

I read through the form. Regular discharge papers noting the condition of the patient, and a list of health considerations I didn't give a druk about. I signed the form and handed the datapad back to the man. "Thank you, doctor?"

"Oh my, where are my manners? It's Caltrel, Doctor Lonus Caltrel, at your service."

"Thank you, Doctor Caltrel."

Two security guards walked into the room at that moment, escorting our would-be murderer, suspected traitor or spy, or, potentially, the crashing and burning of my career—which might need more than beer to put the flames out after all was said and done.

"We'll be on our way then." I nodded.

"Please be mindful of the patient's condition, Captain Orvan. When we first saw him, we thought he'd been mauled by a beast."

Dragon grinned, the doctor had a smug face, Ordona merely looked away, and the guards were trying to keep a poker face with little success. I was too tired to care at this point. "Perhaps he was." I flashed my winning smile again. "You have a good day, Doctor Caltrel, and don't ever let the beast catch you, hm? Let's move out, boys."


CRS Vigilant: Interrogation Room 01

We arrived at Security Station Delta, where the interrogation rooms were. As per protocol, we had to store our blasters in a tamper-proof (yeah, right) locker. I never liked this, but I complied. To my surprise, Dragon relinquished his DL-44 blasters as well. I thought he'd refuse and either make a scene or just wait outside. Regardless, I was glad for the company. We headed in, hopefully to get some answers.

Time went straight down the drain. I hate interrogations. They are long-winded affairs that seldom yield any results. "I'm quite tired of this charade, Ordona. You're done for, so talk."

"You don't scare me, spook." Ordona laughed. "What exactly are you going to do? What exactly CAN you do? Beat me up again? Kill me? You could've got away with it earlier, but now it would be murder, abuse of authority, and brutality at the very least. Yeah, DO it. I dare you!"

Dealing with Dragon has helped me recognize what bait looks like, and I'm not taking it. "I can do this all day, you know?" I chuckled.

Soundlessly, Dragon stepped behind Ordona's chair and merely stood there. Ordona was too focused on his little diatribe to realize, but he must've sensed something because he turned around. He let out a pathetic little yelp, which I found particularly satisfying, when he noticed Dragon looming over him.

"W—what? W—what is this?"

I saw Dragon pierce Ordona's eyes with his gaze, and all of the man's bravado dissipated. I would know, I've been on the receiving end of that gaze. It's very uncomfortable. Yeah, I was quite glad Dragon decided not to wait outside.

"I see, I see! You think I'm scared, huh?" Ordona was shaking, and extremely uncomfortable, while Dragon continued to stare at him.

I looked at my nails. "No, I don't think you're scared. I think you're about to wet yourself."

"What did you just say!?" Ordona huffed. "You think you can abuse prisoners like this? This is the New Republic, and I have rights!"

Dragon let out a guttural chuckle that made Ordona shriek like a terrified schoolgirl. "You people aren't the Empire, remember?! You can't do this!"

"Are you sure about that?" Dragon bared his teeth in a predatory smile as he pulled up his left sleeve to reveal his tattoo. "I'd say as a high-ranking member of the Secret Order of the Emperor, I'm as close to being the Empire as it gets."

In full-blown panic, Ordona jumped out of his chair, and ran to a corner of the room. He frantically ripped a small, rectangular metallic object from his wrist and pushed a button on its surface. It transformed into a compact holdout blaster. "So, that Imperial bastard sent me here to die, huh? Well, I'm taking you down with me!" He fired at Dragon, but he missed by light years. I reached for my blaster, but it wasn't there. I froze when I met Ordona's maddened gaze. He had his blaster trained on me.

"YEAH! Who's scared now, huh? You're DEAD, you worm-ridden NRI schutta!"

I felt inevitability. He could miss, perhaps, but I was certain he wouldn't. I was so much closer than Dragon, and Ordona's fear had been replaced by outright madness. I wouldn't even hear the shot. I closed my eyes, and then . . . cursing?

When I opened my eyes, I saw a knife sticking out of Ordona's bicep, followed by Dragon slamming him hard against the wall.

"WHERE'D YOU GET THAT WEAPON!?" Dragon roared.

"Kark you!" Ordona whimpered.

Dragon pushed on the knife. "WHO DO YOU WORK FOR!?"

Ordona howled in pain. "Fine, okay! He made me do it, okay!? The Empire has my family!"

"WHO'S HE?!" Dragon didn't notice Ordona was bleeding profusely.

"The Doctor, Lonus Caltrel... he's an Imperial! Don't kill me, please!" Ordona began to hyperventilate, and collapsed shortly after.

"Karking brachial artery!" Dragon took off his belt and used it as a makeshift tourniquet before checking the man's pulse. "RAGNA SUR OKKAB!" he hissed. Ordona was dead. Dragon pulled his claw-knife out, wiped it clean, and put it back in its well-concealed sheath. He stood up, snarling like a feral creature. I'd never seen him this angry before. I pulled out my comlink. "Bridge, this is Captain Darlene Orvan. Code red, repeat, code red! Doctor Lonus Caltrel is an Imperial Spy and he's on the loose! How copy?"

I got no response from the bridge.

Security rushed in a little too late. We were only still alive due to Dragon's disregard of protocol, and I was determined to protect him from whatever fallout that came his way. I also wondered if the guards were involved somehow, and I made a mental note to check their records. Not a moment later, alarms blared throughout the ship, and the loudspeakers came to life. "Attention all personnel, this is not a drill. An Imperial spy, one doctor Lonus Caltrel, has been spotted entering the Hangar Bay. He's armed and extremely dangerous. All personnel are authorized to engage at their discretion."

"DRUK! He's making a run for it! Dragon, Hangar Bay on the double, let's go!"


CRS Vigilant: Hangar Bay

The Hangar Bay was in chaos. There were multiple fires, damaged equipment, multiple wounded, and at least one destroyed U-wing. I caught a glimpse of Lonus Caltrel as he took off in an A-wing, probably the same one we saw Solan Ordona working on earlier. Dragon hopped into his own A-wing without even putting on a flightsuit and, ignoring all launch protocols, flew out the hangar in pursuit of the spy.

I tuned my comlink to the pilot frequencies. My heart sank a little when Dragon finally broke radio silence. I feared the worst. He was seething with barely-contained rage.

"The karking spy managed to hyperspace out. I pegged him a few times, but it wasn't enough to bring him down. I'm on my way back to the Vigilant. Dragon out."


CRS Vigilant: Interrogation Room 01

Dragon was sitting down. He wasn't happy. He barely looked at me as I sat down in front of him.

"We really need to stop meeting like this, Darling," he grunted.

"Perhaps," I smiled. "I'm supposed to conduct an interrogation, but I'm not going to. I know exactly what happened and, as such, there's no need to waste time or resources on frivolities. Everything is in my report. I can send you a copy, if you care for it."

Dragon tilted his head to one side. Did I finally catch him off-guard? Is the armor off?

"New Republic Intelligence has determined the actions of 2nd Lieutenant Kell Arcfire were, without the shadow of doubt, in the best interests of the New Republic, and of the continued safety and prosperity of her people. As such, 2nd Lieutenant Kell Arcfire, has been acquitted of all charges of insubordination, willful disobedience, carrying weapons into forbidden areas, endangerment of personnel and equipment, and recklessness, levied against him."

"Maybe we should meet like this more often, Darling . . ." he said.

"The still, and all the appurtenances used to distill, prepare, and distribute booze illegally in the CRS Vigilant, as well as the one responsible for such heinous acts, have also been found."

Dragon looked almost offended by my statement.

I leaned close to him and whispered. "I'm not dumb. I've always known it was you."

As expected, he didn't react to that, and I continued. "Doctor Lonus Caltrel engaged in this highly illegal and heinous activity to ingratiate himself with the Vigilant's personnel, with the purpose of finding potential prospects to do the Empire's bidding and to undermine the New Republic. He also employed tactics like manipulation, the promise of great rewards, blackmail, kidnapping, and even murder. Unfortunately, even with 2nd Lieutenant Arcfire's heroic actions, the spy managed to flee into hyperspace, and potentially into Imperial territory. While Lonus Caltrel's whereabouts remain unknown, New Republic Intelligence has acquired a few solid leads, thanks, in good part, to 2nd Lieutenant Arcfire's decision to pursue, and fire upon, the spy's commandeered A-wing snubfighter."

Dragon would never admit to it, but I saw his eyes light up with surprise.

"Furthermore, 2nd Lieutenant Kell Arcfire was unjustly labeled as the prime suspect behind the illegal booze manufacturing and distribution activities taking place in the CRS Vigilant. Nonetheless, it has now been proven that he was not the culprit, and that any and all information singling him out as the mastermind of these heinous and horrific crimes was, in fact, planted by the Imperial spy, Lonus Caltrel, in an effort to sow discord in the CRS Vigilant. Henceforth, 2nd Lieutenant Kell Arcfire is acquitted of any and all charges related to the distillation, manufacturing, and distribution of illegal booze in the CRS Vigilant." To the chagrin of lard-ass, who isn't here today.

I leaned back on my chair, feeling very, very tired, but quite relaxed. "Today's a good day for the New Republic, Dragon. We rooted out a traitor, sent a spy running with his tail between his legs, brought security protocol flaws to the forefront, the case of illegal midnight hooch is finally buried, and I got a potential lead about my parents' murder."

"Your parents' murder?" Dragon said.

"Yeah, in the decrypted illegal transmissions I found our spy was targeting me to finish the job he'd started fifteen years ago."

I also wouldn't have to deal with lard-ass anymore, as he was given a stern talking to, a demotion for repeatedly wasting New Republic Intelligence resources in a pointless and callous manner, and an immediate reassignment to some druk job in the tail-end of the Outer Rim.

Dragon looked straight through me, and smiled. I couldn't help but feel that blasted feeling in the pit of my stomach again. It feels good though. "That'll be all, you're free to go, 2nd Lieutenant."

"Captain." He nodded, offered a salute, and started walking towards the door.

"Oh, one last thing, Dragon."

He stopped, but didn't turn to face me. "Yeah?"

"You're not too bad, for a flyboy. If you're ever around the SSD, I'll buy you that drink, even if you don't let me."

Dragon didn't look back, nor respond, but I knew he was smiling as he left the interrogation room, and so was I.