Paul 'Rogue' Sweet
Twenty two days after the battle of Endor.
1st Lieutenant Paul "Rogue" Sweet watched intently as the knife came towards his left eye. Time seemed to slow down as the Imperial Commando thrust the vibroblade at his face. Training had already kicked in and his right hand was already making contact with the rapidly incoming forearm of the Imperial Commando.
The strength and the speed of the Imperial Commando's thrust meant that the blade was still going to make contact with Rogue, just not where the Imperial had intended. The blade sliding across his left cheek, and as the flesh was cut, Rogue found himself thinking that this was probably going to hurt quite a bit once all this was over.
While the vibroblade raked his face, Rogue was bringing his left hand up with all his strength plunging his own blade into the Imperial's mid section.
The Imperial Commando only realised this as the hilt on Rogue's blade made contact with his midsection, forcing the breath out of him. He never felt the blade slicing through his skin and into his innards.
Before the Imperial had a chance to register the pain, Rogue was driving his blade up through the enemy's mid section with every ounce of strength he had. He drove the blade up through the man by several inches before the blade made contact with a rib and stopped. With the blade no longer moving, Rogue clenched even harder to the blade's handle as he rotated it a hundred and eighty degrees inside the Imperial's body before pulling the blade free.
The Imperial Commando dropped to the floor. His hands went to his stomach, dropping his own knife in the process. Blood and intestines oozed between the mortally wounded Imperial's fingers as he clutched and desperately, but hopelessly, tried to stem the blood loss and save his life.
Rogue didn't observe any of this as it happened; he had already switched his attention to his next target. His right hand darted behind his back to draw another blade from a concealed sheath. In one fluid motion, he had thrown the fresh blade in an under arm motion. The blade embedded itself into the throat of a female Imperial Commando who went crashing heavily onto the floor and didn't move once her body skidded to a stop.
The Commando who had been on the right of the female combatant had stopped advancing towards Rogue and had turned back towards his fallen colleague, shouting out her name in shock. The other Commando who had been to the left of the now-dead woman didn't stop and carried on charging at Rogue, intent on beating him to death with his bare hands and judging by the size of the man. It was probably a distinct reality if he got the opportunity to do so that he would do just that.
Captain Roy "Lock" Callahan let out a muffled gasp of air as the fist of an Imperial Commando that had targeted him made contact with his mouth. His head snapped back as he rolled with the punch, leaving a spray of blood coming from the split lip he had suffered from his assailant. The officer's cap that was on Lock's head came loose and fell to the floor with the blow. Luck however, seemed to be with him, as the spray of blood from his busted lip landed miraculously in his attacker's eyes, blinding him and causing him to flinch back out of reflex as he lost his vision. Not letting the opportunity pass, Lock placed a well aimed kick to the man's groin. The alusteel in the tip of his boots made solid contact with the man's genitals.
The Commando let out an anguished cry, falling down onto his knees and clutching at his groin area with one hand while his other continued to try to clear the blood from his eyes. His cry turned into a groan as the pain overwhelmed him.
Not letting up in his attack, Lock grabbed the back of the man's head with both hands and pulled it forwards with everything he had at the same time he was bringing his right knee up. The Imperial's face made contact with his knee, and there was a sickening crack as the Commando's face literally crumpled in on itself as not only the Imperial's nose bone shattered, but the man's jaw and some of his cheek bones splintered as well. The impact from the knee to the Imperial's face flung the man to his back on the floor, where he lay unmoving. Lock stepped towards his unmoving opponent, who made no effort to react to what was about to happen. Lock lifted up his left foot and brought the heel of his boot down hard on the man's throat, completely crushing the man's throat and ensuring that he killed him outright.
Rogue held a blade in his left hand at face height in a reverse hold while his right arm was up in a guarded position. He parried the first incoming attack with his right hand. This allowed him to dart out his left arm, drawing his blade over the Imperial's left bicep. The blade left a deep gash and blood began flowing freely. The Commando stepped back and pivoted slightly to his left. Looking at the man's stance, Rogue knew that the Commando was about to attempt to launch a kick into his midsection. As the Imperial's right foot left the ground and sped towards where Rogue's midsection was, he spun on his right heel which brought his back into the chest of the Commando. Rogue grabbed the Imperial's extended right leg with his free hand and with the blade still in the reversed holding position, slashed his blade down the man's inner left thigh. The Imperial's femoral artery was severed, causing blood to jet out almost instantly. Rotating the blade in his left hand, Rogue brought it up and plunged it into the right side of the man's neck. He pulled it out just as quickly, being rewarded with another healthy geyser of blood from this wound as well. The Imperial dropped to the floor, his eyes going wide with terror as he started to cough up blood as he tried to draw breath, but instead hastened his own demise.
The Imperial Commando that had stopped to check on his female colleague was still shaking her body to try and get a response from her despite the blade conspicuously sticking into her neck and her lifeless eyes staring away into nothing. The man was so focused on her that he never noticed Rogue moving in on him until it was too late.
Rogue grabbed a handful of the man's hair and pulled his head back. Once the man's throat was exposed, he drew his blade quickly and forcefully across the man's neck. The cut was long and deep, with blood erupting violently from the wound. The Commando slumped to the floor with a pool of blood starting to collect near his pale face. Rogue stepped over the dying man and retrieved the blade from the dead woman's neck. He wiped this blade clean on the back of her grey tunic, leaving blood smears before re-sheathing the blade in its concealed location under his own tunic. He stood up and looked over to Lock. "You alright?"
"Yeah, he managed to get a solid hit on me," Lock replied. "Busted my lip. You?"
"Just this." Rogue motioned with his blade to the left side of his face. Blood was still flowing from the slash made by the first Imperial. "Dig out the medi pack. We need to clean up and then set the charges."
"You got it." Lock headed toward the hold-all that was underneath his cloak that he had dropped when the fight had started and looked for the medi pack.
Rogue made his way over to the first Imperial he had dueled. The man was still clutching his midsection trying to keep his intestines from spilling out. His skin was pale and looked clammy to the touch. Rogue knelt down in front of the mortally wounded Imperial. "Nothing personal, but we can't have you raising the alarm once we're gone."
The Imperial locked eyes with Rogue. They were filled with hatred. "See you in hell, you piece of Rebel druk!"
"You first!" Rogue jammed his blade into the back part of the man's throat, driving the blade all the way up into the Imperial's brain. It killed him instantly. Rogue withdrew the weapon and again wiped the blood from the blade on the Imperial's grey tunic before putting the blade back in its sheath. As he stood, he reached up to his right eye and carefully removed the cybernetic overlay covering the eye. He tossed the red and black overlay onto the dead Imperial's body.
Lock handed Rogue a bacta dressing. "Where do you want the charges set?"
Rogue looked around the station. "Two by the main console, two either side of the main power conduit, two either side of that support column, and two by that locker."
Lock got to work planting the charges as Rogue dressed his wound. As he placed the last two charges, he looked over to Rogue. "What's so special about this locker? Why charges here?"
"Nothing currently, but that's where we're going to put the bodies," Rogue replied dispassionately.
"Copy that." Lock pointed to Rogue's ISB uniform. The pristine white tunic was now spattered with blood. Some of it was his teammate's, but the majority of it belonged to the dead Imperials. "Well there goes our ISB cover. No way we're talking our way out of here with you looking like that!"
Rogue glanced down and looked at the state of his tunic. "Yeah, we switch to our secondary escape option, both of us," he said as he pointed to Lock's chest.
Lock looked down and saw that blood from his busted lip had dripped down onto his ISB Colonel's tunic as well. "Well there goes the promotion. Mommy would've been so proud, too," he said with a sarcastic smirk. "That Lieutenant at the entrance literally drukked himself when you pointed back to me!"
Rogue gave a half smile as he thought back to when the pair of them made their entrance onto the base. "Let's shift the bodies first, then get changed."
Lock made his way to the Imperial he had killed and dragged the body over to the area Rogue had indicated while his companion grabbed another. There was one body left.
"What about this one?" Lock asked.
Rogue looked over at the body Lock was pointing toward. It was the body of a Captain, the one he had killed immediately after they had gained entrance into the secure bunker. "Grab her identification card and remove her right glove. We're going to need her palm print to access the database."
Lock located the identification card and threw it to Rogue who caught it and fed it into the decryption device Beth had provided him. He dragged the lifeless Captain's body toward the console and wrenched her arm gingerly to place the palm onto the reader. The angle wasn't working for his task, so he broke the dead Imperial's arm to make it reach the pad properly. "Ready when you are."
Rogue looked down at the display on the device, watching data readouts whiz by. "Got it!" He shouted as he removed the identification card and placed it into the required slot on the command console. Lock held the dead Imperial's right hand onto the palm print reader. "Sigma five seven, Omega one four eight, hyphen Delta six two three zero."
Rogue typed in the security clearance code into the console. A few seconds later, the screen changed to display a directory screen. "We're in, looking for the files now." He quickly searched through several files in the database. "Found them- transferring to a data file now."
The data card ejected from a data port seconds later. Lock pocketed the data card as he released the broken imperial's arm. "Making a backup now." As soon as the backup data card was ejected, he handed it to Rogue who also stashed his data card securely. "Anything else?" Lock asked.
"No, we've got what we need. Erase all data and corrupt the system." Rogue handed Lock a red data card, or 'shredder', which Lock slotted into another receiver.
"Program running, we've got about two minutes until it completes."
Rogue nodded. "Alright, let's set the charges to detonate in ten minutes. Should be the same time as the two we planted in the office. That should give us more than enough time to get off the base, and if not, it will give us a distraction to make our way out of here." They armed the eight explosive devices, and once that was done the two men removed their white tunics and tossed them into the locker on top of the bodies. The black T-shirts they both wore had the Imperial emblem and the motto of the Stormtrooper unit that was garrisoned there along with the Commandos that had interrupted them. The hope and the plan was that they would both look like off duty troopers moving about the base and not draw any unwanted attention. Rogue readjusted his two sets of blades so that they were now concealed under his T-shirt but still accessible.
Lock went over to the console. "Program's complete. Files erased and the virus is running." He picked up the knife that the Imperial Commando had tried to kill Rogue with and jammed the blade as hard as he could into the datacard and receiver. "Right, now comes the fun part- getting out of here. Ready?"
"Almost." Rogue dug down into the nearly empty hold-all and retrieved two hold-out blasters. He chucked the empty hold-all into the nearly full locker. He tossed a hold-out blaster to Lock, who placed it in his right pocket. Rogue did the same with his blaster. "Once we're out of this bunker, the dampening field won't affect our blasters anymore. I'm hoping we're not going to have to shoot our way out with these things, though. Disable the door controls once we've got the door open so it'll delay anyone nosy enough to try and get in."
"Copy that," Lock replied. The two men made their way cautiously but quickly toward the door. Lock pried the door control panel open, giving him access to the internal wiring. Rogue nodded, and Lock tapped the control. The door slid across the threshold, and as Lock exited the room he yanked on the wiring. He ripped them out of their connectors and caused a shower of sparks to briefly erupt. The door shuddered then slowly closed behind them as they headed away from the command bunker. Lock tossed the wires back into the wreck of a room they had just left, hoping to hide any evidence of the carnage that had just taken place.
Two days earlier, onboard the CRS Vigilant.
Rogue and Lock walked along the corridor towards the turbolifts. "Did we screw up again?" Lock asked his companion.
Rogue shook his head. "I don't think so. Did you screw up and try and use me as an excuse again?"
"What? How could you say such a thing?" Lock overly dramatised, displaying hurt feelings and pretending innocence. "Well not this time at least."
Rogue let out a short laugh. "Good to know." He pressed the button to call the turbolift.
Lock became serious as they waited for the turbolift to arrive. "Either we're very special or this is something official. I don't remember if we've ever even used a secure briefing room on the Vigilant before."
The turbolift arrived and both pilots stepped in. Rogue keyed in the destination into the turbolift's control pad once the doors had slid shut. "Into the belly of the beast we go, then!"
The turbolift arrived at the selected deck. Lock tentatively stepped out of the lift first, followed closely by Rogue. The two men made their way along the deserted and dimly lit corridor to the apparent briefing room. "They're really not selling this place to me." Lock quipped.
"Yeah, I think someone has been viewing too many holo dramas and thinks this is how a secure level should look!"
The two pilots reached the briefing room. Instead of the door opening automatically as was normal for these types of rooms, this one remained shut. "I guess we knock?" Lock said to Rogue.
Rogue shrugged and then used the toe of his boots and kicked the door twice.
Lock smiled at the bluntness of Rogue's actions. Movement could be heard coming from the other side, followed by the sound of someone pressing the door control on the other side. The door slid open silently.
"Come in gentlemen, and take a seat." Lt. Col. Chris "Jalb_k" Reynolds motioned to a row of chairs in the room. Jalb waited until both men had sat down before he operated the door controls, closing the door to the briefing room and then securing it. He then moved back towards the front of the room and noticed that Rogue was ignoring the other easily visible commanders included in this meeting, instead looking at the room's other occupant who was doing their best to go unnoticed by staying in the shadows.
Colonel Vince "Stryker" Rambo cleared his throat. "Before this begins, I want to also thank you on behalf of the rest of the wing command staff." He motioned toward Lt. Colonel Michael "Mighty" Tolle, Lt. Colonel 9-LOM "Syntax", and Lt. Col Bill "Jedi" Morrison, who both nodded toward the two junior pilots while Syntax canted his head slightly.
Lock smiled and nodded back to the commanders of Rogue, Buccaneer, and Corsair Squadrons as well as the Wing Commander and XO. Inwardly, he was very curious and nervous as to the clearly covert nature of the information they were about to see.
The Quarren also nodded in appreciation. "Just in case you have forgotten since our last meeting a few weeks ago- I am Major Mogazz Murg, Intelligence attache and Chief of Staff to Vice Admiral Vodani. I can assure you that the Admiral also appreciates your attendance at this meeting as well as your discretion with what is covered in this briefing," he said as he bowed graciously as he motioned for Jalb to proceed.
Jalb cleared his throat. "As they have said, thank you for coming at such short notice. I appreciate that this is both of your down time and that everyone's workload has increased over the last few weeks since Endor." He pressed a button on the podium, the holo projector came to life and the display of a planet came into view.
"That's Elrood." Rogue stated flatly. "The Radell Mining Corporation is based there. The planet has strong Imperial connections because of the corporate nature of the world despite it being in the Outer Rim Territories. The planet's ex-Senator-now-Governor, Cal Blomus, is considered quite moderate by Imperial standards, but hasn't done anything to warrant his removal by the Empire."
"Even the Empire is sometimes smart enough to recognize existing leadership structures when attempting to control a planet or sector," Lock added.
Jedi nodded in agreement. "Easier to just keep the beloved Senator of a dissolved Imperial Senate in charge than convince the entire population to trust a different leader."
Murg felt his eye ridges rising as Rogue reeled off the information about the planet, specifically what its main industry was and the identity of the local Governor despite having only seen the image of the planet for a second. This was also not lost on the rest of the commanders and the room's mystery guest, and the latter seemed to be shifting uncomfortably while still not trying to draw attention to themselves. Murg composed himself before speaking again. "Quite, would you like to swap places Lieutenant and carry on the briefing?"
Rogue gave a half smile. "No thanks, Chief. I think you bring a more dignified tone to the whole process, unless you'd like our guest spook to actually get involved instead of hiding in the shadows and trying for her to carry off the menacing-and-secretive operative act. Which.. you've totally kriffed up by the way!" Rogue directed towards the shadowy Alliance Intelligence Officer.
"That's enough, Lieutenant Sweet!" Murg warned Rogue sharply.
Lock's shoulders were gently going up and down as he stifled a laugh, covering his mouth with his right hand.
"Captain, for the love of the force- please don't encourage him." Jalb sighed.
"Sorry, Chief, I mean Lieutenant Colonel." Lock managed to just about say with a straight face.
"Enough, Captain," Syntax said curtly, removing the last remnants of a smile from Lock's face.
"Are you sure these are the best two that you can give us?" The woman walked forward, stepping into the main light and out of the shadows.
Rogue leaned over to Lock and kept his voice low, but still intentionally loud enough to be heard by everyone in attendance. "Do you think I ruined her big reveal? Damn I feel awful- her one moment just spaced!"
A snort of laughter escaped from Lock.
Murg's face started going a shade of red as his temper started to rise. He looked like he was about to let loose on both pilots until the Intelligence Officer raised her right hand up, palm open indicating for him to let her speak.
"Have you finished Lieutenant, or do you have a few more for me?"
"I've got a few more, but I'll save them for later and see if the situation warrants them, over to you, Captain," Rogue replied as he gestured toward the woman.
"Thank you Lieutenant. Everything you've said about Elrood is correct, which makes this briefing slightly easier for me in that regard. Pull up the images of Governor Blomus, please."
Jalb pressed a button on the control panel and the image of Elrood was replaced with several of the Governor at various locations and one showing his official profile picture.
"As you correctly stated Lieutenant, the Governor has always been a moderate individual by not openly criticising the Empire but not always giving it full support. That was until two days after the battle of Endor. For some reason, Blomus has started throwing his full support behind the Empire- denouncing what happened at Endor, the whole pro Imperial mantra."
Rogue pointed to an image of the Governor and Imperial officer speaking. "I'm guessing this happened after that image there, the one with the Imperial Colonel in it."
"Looks like the Colonel there has got something on the Governor and is using it to make him more Empire friendly. A pet Governor is easier to use and control than a new and unknown one, especially now. So let me guess, you need myself and the Captain here," Rogue pointed with his thumb on his left hand at Lock, "to infiltrate the base that the Colonel displayed in the holo is stationed at. Locate and remove whatever it is he has on the Governor there, destroy all recordings of whatever they show the Governor doing, make sure that the Imperial Colonel is removed as a threat to the Governor, and make contact with the Governor to let him know he's playing for us now. Is that correct?"
Again, the Alliance Intelligence Officer shifted uncomfortably before speaking. "Yes." "Thought so, anything else?"
"Just that we need you to make contact with our operative that is already established in the base undercover as Lieutenant Tella." The Alliance Intelligence Agent nodded towards Jalb, who pressed another button and the images were replaced with that of a man in Imperial uniform. He had blond hair that was cut to a neat military style, blue eyes, and a forgettable moustache.
"Your undercover operative getting their information out to you via the Bothan Spy Network?" Rogue asked.
"He is," the agent replied.
"Then you can forget it," Rogue said matter-of-factly.
"Excuse me?" The Intelligence Agent's eyes went wide.
"They're a joke! The amount of false information we were able to pass on to those egotistical druks when I was an Imp operative was unbelievable. Their over inflated opinions of themselves made it too damn easy. They just couldn't allow themselves to believe they were being played by us, so they honestly think they're that good! When the Chief of State told us that the information about the second Death Star had come from them I hoped against everything that they had got it right this time, but instead they royally kriffed up."
"Now hold on, Lieutenant." The Intelligence Officer's face had flushed red with anger and she had taken a few steps towards where Rogue was sat. "The information about the Death Star came at the price of some of the best agents we had!"
"No, Captain, I think it's you that needs to hold on. Just because the Chief of Staff seems to have a thing for using those useless krinks doesn't mean I do. You weren't at Endor, walking into the biggest trap ever sprung by the Empire. Seeing your squad mates getting slaughtered and seeing our capital ships being obliterated by a super laser that we were guaranteed wasn't operational either. So I'm sorry Captain Djarin, we won't be using your 'guy'." Rogue looked towards Major Murg. "Chief, is this a volunteer mission?"
"Yes, it is Lieutenant." Replied Murg.
It wasn't lost on the Captain that Rogue knew her name when it had never been mentioned by her or anybody else. She was now wondering how the Lieutenant knew her name and trying to hide her shock at the same time.
"Good, you want me and Lock to do what your guy can't, then it's my way or no way, your choice."
Captain Djarin turned to face Stryker. "I was promised cooperation Colonel. This is hardly what I class as cooperation."
Before Stryker could reply, Rogue spoke again. "Forget trying to get the C.O. to appeal or intimidate us. On this occasion you need Lock- but more specifically, you need me. Don't think it wasn't lost on me that your 'guy' hasn't got the skill-set to gain access to the command bunker where the data is kept. For that kind of work you need an Operative- one that used to be an Imperial Operative, to be precise."
For the first time in a while Lock spoke up. "What do you mean, Rogue? She needs you for this?"
Rogue looked over to Lock, his expression softening as he explained to his friend. "Your standard Imperial defector is made up largely of your disenfranchised, demoralised, or someone politically swayed towards our cause. The higher up the tier, like your senior officers, you're looking at financial reasons for coming over. Then there are people like yourself, trained to a higher standard that have been exposed to things that make them question their own values and that plays a major part why they come over. Finally you get to my type: highly trained, highly motivated, and politically solid to the cause. You can't disenfranchise or demoralise us. We can't be bought, because we're not in this for the money. As for being exposed to things that make us question our values, forget it- we're able to rationalise and compartmentalise our actions and move on. For those rare individuals, there's generally only one thing that can flip us to the other side."
Murg waited for Rogue to carry on talking, but when he didn't he couldn't help himself and spoke out without realising. "Well, tell us then!"
Rogue gave a wry smile. "That's for us to know and Captain Dajrin's lot to try and figure out. I'm guessing Captain Djarin, you've never met any other Imperial Operatives that have defected, have you?"
"No, I have not."
"It shows, as does your lack of field experience. That wasn't lost on me either." Rogue stood up and looked directly at Murg. "Chief, as I said, we'll do it but on my terms."
Murg clearly didn't like the way he was being spoken to by a junior rank, but he had the grace to go above the anger and nod affirmative. "If it has to be as you say, it shall."
Rogue smirked, and then looked toward the Renegade Wing commanders and stood up straighter. "Sirs, I need the deck crews to remove all insignia and colours from mine and Lock's fighters. Take them back to factory colours please, but done quietly. No official request and no talking by the deck crews afterwards."
Stryker looked over towards Captain Djarin, then back at Rogue. "I'll contact the deck chief and get them on it right away."
"Perhaps, sir, it would be best to utilize droids for this task in a service hangar," Syntax suggested.
"That's a good call," Mighty agreed. "Fewer loose lips, probably best to have it done in the auxiliary hanger as well."
"Anything else?" Murg interrupted.
"A few things, Chief. I need two false entries in the ships log; one stating that Lock's been sent on leave due to fatigue- say combat stress and will be on shore leave for a week. That'll also need to be the official line to the rest of Corsair Squadron. For me, put me through on a B-Wing conversion course away for the next two weeks, same script for my squad mates. Finally, you need to place Captain Djarin under arrest and have her confined to the brig so she can't contact her superiors and the information about myself and Lock somehow make its way to the Imperial forces on Elrood."
Captain Djarin's eyes went wide. "What the hell did you just say Lieutenant? Have you lost your mind? You can't seriously think that Major Murg and Colonel Rambo are going to lock me up on your say so."
Rogue ignored the Intelligence Officer. "She's the weak link in all of this, Chief. If we're not back in five days, you can release her as we'll probably both be dead by then."
"You're way out of line Lieutenant!" Captain Djarin yelled.
"Are you sure this is really necessary, Lieutenant?" Murg asked, but not nearly as indignant as Djarin.
"No it's not necessary!" Djarin snarled.
Jalb spoke after the Captain finished shouting at Rogue. "I'm sorry Captain, but he's right. We're not going to take any chances with this operation, and that includes you I'm afraid."
"You're all kriffing crazy!" Captain Djarin started heading towards the door to leave the room.
Stryker looked down at Lock and gestured towards the departing Intelligence Officer. "If you wouldn't mind please, Captain?"
Lock stood up and drew his Merr-Sonn type CC heavy blaster pistol from its holster in one fluid motion, as he took aim, his right thumb flicked the fire setting to stun. The blue stun bolt hit Captain Djarin in the centre of her back and she crumpled down onto the floor of the briefing room unconscious.
Rogue looked at Jalb and Stryker. "She needs to be kept in solitary, no access to anyone apart from yourselves. She'll also have some comms gear on her and probably a hidden backup as well more spook druk probably!"
Murg let out a sigh. "This is not how I saw my day going. You two cowboys better come back alive and with all the data on this damn Governor, or I'll have hell to pay."
"We'll do our best, Chief." Rogue turned to Lock who was in the process of holstering his blaster. "Roy, non standard flight gear, no patches, no rank markings, nothing. Just empty and dull."
"I've got a spare that will do." Lock answered Rogue.
"Good, we need to be good to go in two hours. Is that enough time for you, Chief?" Rogue looked from Lock to Murg. Murg shrugged with uncertainty and looked askingly toward Stryker.
"It's going to have to be," Stryker replied. He looked coldly at Rogue and Lock. "You two- get sleeping beauty to the brig." He looked at Syntax: "start getting things organised for their fighters." To Jedi: "cook up orders to explain their absences."
"I'll go ahead and make sure the hallways are clear to move the Captain without any extra witnesses," Jalb said as he palmed the door open and stepped smartly out into the hallway.
"What should I do, Colonel?" Mighty asked.
"Create new discipline procedures for Buccaneer Squadron to ensure this level of conduct doesn't happen again in a briefing full of superior officers- due on my desk in handwriting before lights out tonight," Stryker replied sternly.
Outside, Jalb could be heard snickering, a just-loud-enough "amateur- asking for orders," trailing down the hallway in the direction he had gone.
Mighty shot an icy glare at Rogue, before saluting Stryker. "Believe me, Sir, there will be some serious changes to the conduct guidelines after this display."
Murg nodded approvingly at that last exchange, but also realized something had been missed. "Lieutenant Sweet, if you could search Captain Dajrin and remove anything that she might be able to use to either escape or contact her colleagues, that would be great."
Lock spoke up as both he and Rogue started picking through the unconscious Intelligence Officer's pockets. "On it, like a Jawa all over a lost droid."
It had taken just over seven hours for Rogue and Lock to reach their destination. Using a low orbit insertion, the two pilots had managed to make landfall without being detected by the planet's local authorities and the two system patrol craft that were orbiting the planet. Rogue had told Shade to remain with the X-Wing and stay in contact with him in the event that the two fighters were discovered. As an added precaution, Lock's A-Wing had been slaved to his X-Wing so that if needed, Shade could control both fighters and fly them both.
The two pilots had changed out of their flightsuits and were now wearing non-descript spacer style clothing. After a few moments, they found themselves walking along a busy street. Bright lights from various signs flashed and displayed products and services they were offering.
"This place looks familiar. I swear I've been here before." Lock said.
Rogue nodded. "You very well may have been, mate, but you know I'm not going to tell you where we actually are. You get taken, what can you tell your interrogators? I was on a planet, that's it." He had made Shade to send the coordinates to Lock's A-Wing minus any system details, so even Lock's A-Wing held no records. "Standard operating procedures- you know that. Come on, we're almost there." Rogue took the next street to the right, this one started to lead away from the main thoroughfare and the amount of beings started to trail off, instead of shops, bars and places to eat, dwellings started to become intermixed between them. A left turn down a side alley and short distance in, Rogue made his way down some steps on the right hand side and stopped in front of a door. He raised his left hand and pressed the signaller.
A synthetic voice came from a speaker below the signaller. "Yes?"
"I have a reservation for two, under the name of Toledano for the all you can eat buffet."
"Certainly sir, we have your table ready for you." The door unlocked and slid open.
Lock followed his companion inside the now open doorway. As soon as he passed through the doorway, the door closed behind him and locked. His hand dropped down to his blaster only for Rogue to signal him that everything was alright. His hand moved away from his blaster but stayed near his belt.
The door ahead opened and Rogue walked through, once more followed by Lock. As they went through the next door, the room opened up into a cavernous workshop. Various items were on several workstations, and several holo displays were on showing different areas of the surrounding area and streets. At the centre of the room, a figure could be seen working on what looked like an Imperial Repair droid.
"I've almost finished reconfiguring this repair droid that you asked me to do for you."
"You're a star, Beth! Still working wonders after all this time," Rogue said with a smile on his face.
Beth gave a quick and dismissive wave of her hand and continued with finishing off the work she was doing on the small droid. About a minute later she closed up the access panel on the droid and set her tools down on the bench and stood up.
Lock watched as the woman rose and she stretched before turning around to look at both of the pilots. He could see that the woman was a Sarkhai female and looked heavily pregnant.
"Is this number three now, Beth?" Rogue asked the pale skinned woman as he walked up to her and embraced her warmly. "Long time no see, you reprobate!"
"Four." Beth replied as she returned the embrace with Rogue. The two came apart and she continued to talk. "Been a while- didn't think I'd be seeing you again with you swapping sides and becoming one of the 'good guys'."
Rogue laughed heartily. "I've always been one of the 'good guys'. So where's Rycar and the other little hellions?"
"He's upstairs with the kids. It's their bedtime so he's got the duty tonight while I work on this job for you."
"It's appreciated Beth, especially at such short notice. Did you manage to get the plans for the base?"
"Yes, full schematics- wasn't that hard. Cross-referenced the original schematics for the building plans back when the base was built plus some other boring slicing stuff. I've also included an area for you to touch down with your ships. It's a bit of a distance from the city though, but you'll not be disturbed when you land. As for the 'shredder'." Beth picked up a small red data card. "It's ready along with the two extras on it."
"How the kriff did you manage all this?" Lock asked. The look of surprise on his face was evident. "We didn't know about this operation until this morning and yet you've got things in place like it's been planned for weeks!"
"Trade secrets, mate!" Rogue answered his friend.
"So what else do you need?" Beth asked.
"Full ISB ID package." Rogue pointed at Lock. "Make him a Colonel and me a Major, please. Two skimmers that can fit in my X-Wing storage, concealable explosives, both timed and remote, a couple of hold out blasters, two T-shirts with the logo of the garrisoned Stormtrooper detachment on it, decryption device, and a medi pack."
"So not much then." Beth said with a wry smile on her face. "That'll take me a few hours to get together. You can make yourself scarce while I get things organised. Oh before you both leave, I need you to stand over there." Beth pointed to an open area.
The two men made their way over to the area that Beth had motioned toward and stood still. A small droid floated down from the ceiling. As it approached Rogue, a beam of light was emitted from the droid. The light started going up and down over Rogue eventually covering all of him, front to back. The same process was repeated on Lock before the droid made its way back up to the ceiling where it docked back into its housing.
"Right, that's you guys all measured up. I'll see you later." With that said, Beth turned her back on both men and made her way back to her work station and carried on working.
Rogue nodded and then made his way to the door that they had entered into Beth's workshop. Once the door had closed behind both of them, He turned and looked at Lock. "Once we're out of here, we don't mention Beth, we don't mention the Vigilant, any of our squad mates, anything. In fact- nothing to do with the Alliance or the Empire at all. We're just a pair of simple spacers, hauling cargo from one druk system to the next. We'll talk about fictional people doing stupid things or good cargo runs where we made a good profit and had good times celebrating with beings of loose morals- that kind of thing. I'm Toledano and you're Mitchgeos. They're the only names we'll use. Any questions?"
"Just one, is there somewhere here that actually does do an all you can eat buffet, I'm famished!"
Rogue laughed. "Typical Mitchgeos, always hungry. You're in luck my friend, I know just the place." The two men left the building and made their way back towards the busy area of the city.
Several hours later, the two pilots were making their way back to Beth's. Lock was in full character, telling Rogue a story loudly. "Then she looked at me and said, 'you told me I was the only one for you,' to which I said, 'you are, but only on this planet and there's lots of planets out there'!" The two men laughed genuinely at the end of his story. They had reached the stairs that took them to Beth's place and headed down. Rogue pressed the signaller again.
Once again the synthetic voice answered. "Yes?"
"Toledano here to pick up a takeout order."
"Your order is ready for collection, come through." The door unlocked and slid open.
After going through the second door into Beth's workshop, Rogue and Lock saw Beth relaxing and drinking a warm drink. "All items as requested." Beth pointed with her hand towards four bags of various sizes on a worktop. "The skimmers are waiting for you in your X-Wing. I had your astromech, Shade, let my droid place them in the cargo hold of your fighter."
"As always Beth, you're a star. What's the damage?"
"Four hundred and fifty large I'm afraid. I imagine that someone in your organisation will have a turn when you present them with a bill for this amount!"
Rogue smiled. "No, the bean counters aren't even getting involved in this at all. This one is purely self funded. Which account do you want the money transferred into?"
The statement caught not only Lock off guard, but Beth as well. "Someone has done alright for themselves switching sides."
"It's a story for another time." Rogue replied coyly. Beth handed him a datapad displaying the details of the account where she wanted the money transferred to. He quickly keyed in some information and then hit the transmit button before handing the data pad back to Beth. "I've rounded it up to five hundred- the extra fifty is for the new arrival." Rogue pointed at Beth's baby bump.
Beth pushed herself up and went over to Rogue and hugged him. "You big softy! Thank you." She pulled away from him and reached back onto her work station and grabbed a small container and handed it to him. "Almost forgot this."
Rogue opened up the container. Inside was an overlay for a prosthetic eye. This one was blood red, apart from a black crosshair where the pupil of an eye should be. "This looks interesting, what's it do?"
Beth smiled. "Once the repair droid has sliced into the mainframe, you'll have a feed directly to this cybernetic overlay. You'll see the name, rank, and serial number and a brief description of whoever you're looking at in the base. Also, I thought it'd be a nice touch and in keeping with that scar that runs down your face."
The scar that Beth was referring to ran straight down Rogue's face. It started centrally above his right eyebrow by a few inches and ended an inch or so away from the right corner of his mouth. The scar itself was fairly deep and was a slightly different shade in skin colour to the rest of his face. "I like it. People won't be able to help themselves and look at it- focussing their attention on my 'red' eye more than anything else." Rogue closed the lid and pocketed the small container. "Right, we've taken up enough of you and your family's time, Beth. Thanks again." He picked up one of the bags and then shouldered the other on his left shoulder.
Lock picked up the remaining two bags. "It was a pleasure meeting you," he said to Beth.
"Likewise, Captain Callahan. Stay safe, both of you," Beth said warmly.
Rogue leaned in and gave Beth a kiss on the cheek before he walked towards the door. "Let me know the name of the new arrival so I can tell Cally. She'll be made-up for you and mortified that she didn't know about number three."
"I will. Same channel that Shade used to get in touch with me?" Beth asked Rogue.
"That's the one. Take care, you reprobate." Rogue and Lock headed out of the room. Once the door had closed behind them, Rogue turned and faced Lock. "Beth, this stop over, the equipment, anything to do with this, never makes it into any type of report, ever. You understand?"
"One hundred and ten percent. This never happened. We managed to acquire the ISB identities we used and appropriated everything else through various means," Lock replied.
"Good, glad to hear it. I'd hate to have to kill you after all we've been through. Good friends are hard to come by these days!" Rogue stated as he turned and opened the door, heading out once more back into the alley above.
Lock let out a laugh and followed Rogue. "You're joking, right?"
Rogue went up the stairs and didn't turn around.
"Toledano? You're joking right? Toledano!" Lock quickened his pace to catch up to Rogue.
The flight and landing at the secluded area that Beth had identified for Rogue and Lock had been uneventful. Rogue had unloaded the two person-sized skimmers from his X-Wing and assembled them. After a short journey into the city where the Imperial garrison was located, the two skimmers were now hidden along with the pilots flight gear and weapons. The two pilots were now dressed in their ISB uniforms, both men now walking purposefully towards the Imperial garrison.
Lock spoke up as they neared the main gate. "I feel naked without my blaster. And tell me why the hell I have to carry the explosives, I'm supposed to be Colonel, that's what you're for as my junior officer!"
Rogue let out a snort. "Well 'Colonel', you got a cape so that hides the slimline backpack with the explosives and the other gear. As a lowly 'Major' I don't warrant a cape."
"You get that cool cybernetic eye, though," Lock replied smartly, eliciting another snort from his companion.
The repair droid that Beth had adjusted for them had already been set loose and managed to slice into the base's mainframe. Rogue had sent the droid to carry out the second part of its mission. He looked at the Stormtroopers guarding the entrance to the garrison. As he looked at the first Imperial soldier, the cybernetic overlay on his right eye displayed information about the trooper he was looking at. In this case, it was a lowly Private. He scanned through all of the armored troopers. There were a total of three Privates and a Corporal outside of the entrance. With his voice lowered so only Lock would hear it, he said "leave the talking to me, I need you to feign arrogance and importance."
"Obviously." Lock replied haughtily, already in character.
The Stormtroopers guarding the entrance noticed the approach of Rogue and Lock and stood straighter. Rogue could imagine that there was some hurried communication happening between the Corporal at the entrance and the junior officer on duty who was probably in the guard office near the entrance.
It was the Corporal that approached Rogue and Lock. "State your business here."
A half smile briefly appeared on Rogue's face before his expression changed to a more serious, almost predatory sneer. "Sir. You forgot to say 'state your business, Sir', Corporal Newburgh!" He was pleased to see the flinch coming from Stormtrooper in front of him. "If you value what's left of your career, Corporal, your officer will be out here and in front of me before I get to the number in my head that I am counting to." He watched as the Corporal stood there and stammered a few times. "Corporal Newburgh, I have started counting."
The Stormtrooper turned and doubled away past the four remaining Stormtroopers and disappeared inside the guard room. A few seconds later he was returning at the double, but this time being followed by a First Lieutenant, who was also doubling towards Rogue and Lock.
Before the Lieutenant could even speak, Rogue held up his right hand to stop the young Lieutenant. "First, Lieutenant Peverel, you will immediately arrange for Private Newburgh to be escorted to the stockade where he will be placed under arrest and held for two weeks. All privileges and pay that came with his former rank have now been lost."
The colour drained from the young Lieutenant's face. "Sir, if I may?"
"You may not, Lieutenant." Rogue replied.
"Did I stammer, Lieutenant, or speak in another language? Do I need to involve the Colonel back there? If I do, Lieutenant, you and your entire team will find themselves probably being lined up against a wall and shot on his orders." Rogue said in a low and menacing voice.
"Absolutely not, Sir." The Lieutenant's eyes were now as wide as they could be as he quickly glanced towards Lock and then back to Rogue.
"Then carry out my orders before you find yourself joining the Private, Second Lieutenant Peverel!" Rogue snapped at the young Lieutenant.
The Lieutenant signalled for two of the four Stormtroopers to come over to him. "Escort Private Newburgh to the Stockades, and place him in under arrest. Charges will be laid out against him later." One of the Stormtroopers removed the E-11 carbine from Newburgh's grasp before both Stormtroopers escorted him away to the stockades.
"Very good, Second Lieutenant. Now you will order a double watch on this and the other entrances, and you will make sure that these entrances are staffed by loyal servants of the Empire. Once that is done, you will escort the Colonel and myself to Colonel Yash's office. You will also not inform the Colonel of our presence if you wish to carry on drawing breath."
"Y-y-yes Sir, at once Sir." The Lieutenant stammered, before waving over one of the two remaining Stormtroopers at the gate. He then passed on the orders that Rogue had given him. The Stormtrooper quickly saluted before running off to carry out his orders.
"Well done Second Lieutenant, you very well may survive this day and still be an officer in the Imperial war machine. What Private Newburgh forgot is that the Empire is not just one person. Even if the Emperor is dead, the Empire lives on and the Colonel and myself are here to make sure that happens. Now is not a time for standards to drop. If anything, they are to be increased to show that we are still strong and determined. Is that understood, Second Lieutenant Peverel?"
"Yes Sir, absolutely Sir." Sweat was now starting to trickle down the young Lieutenants face.
"Good, then let us carry on towards Colonel Yash's office." Rogue said, softening his tone slightly.
Lieutenant Peverel pivoted smartly and marched back towards the main entrance with Rogue and Lock following a few steps behind. As they drew closer to the remaining Stormtrooper guarding the entrance, the Stormtrooper came to attention. As Lock drew level with the Imperial, he gave a dismissive gesture with his left hand and continued walking. The young officer led them along a pathway for a few minutes before entering what appeared to be the main command building. The pair of Stormtroopers guarding the main entrance stood aside without a word as the three men entered, and came to attention. Again, Lock dismissed them both with another half hearted gesture. Lieutenant Peverel pressed the call button on the turbolift and the door opened almost immediately. Once inside, he pressed the top button and the turbo lift doors slid shut and it began its journey up to the office on the top floor. Seconds later, the doors opened up into an office staffed by a Captain. The office also looked like it doubled as a waiting room, as there were a number of chairs located near the exit of the turbolift on the right hand side. Also on the right side of the room was a spacious meeting room with a large bay window giving a view over most of the capital. The Colonel's office was on the left side of the room, and to get to it you first had to get past the Captain stationed at the desk.
Rogue turned to face Lieutenant Peverel. "That will be all Second Lieutenant Peverel, you're dismissed." Rogue walked out of the turbolift followed by Lock and headed towards the Captain sitting at his desk.
The doors to the turbolift slid closed. Lieutenant Peverel raised a trembling hand to press the button that would take him back down to the ground floor and away from this nightmare.
"Captain Hoy." Rogue said.
Captain Hoy looked away from the monitor he had been focusing on. "Yes?"
A sadistic smile spread across Rogue's face. "Is that how you greet a superior officer?" He turned to face Lock. "It would appear that a general lack of decorum is rife at this facility, sir. Would you like me to deal with this poor excuse for an Imperial officer while you deal with Colonel Yash, sir?"
In as arrogant a voice as he could manage, Lock replied to Rogue. "Yes, Major, that would be appropriate. I will let you determine the now-demoted Lieutenant Hoy's fate." With that said, Lock walked past the desk that Hoy was jockeying and proceeded to enter Colonel Yash's office. As the door closed he thought he heard Hoy start to protest, but whatever was being said was cut off as the door to Colonel Yash's office slid closed.
Colonel Yash was sitting at his desk reading something on a datapad and looked up as Lock entered his office. His eyebrows rising slightly was the only change in his expression as he Lock walked towards his desk. "What can I do for the ISB, Colonel?"
"By resigning from your command with as much dignity that you can muster, which judging from what we've uncovered is probably nonexistent." Lock replied, still talking in a lofty and arrogant tone.
"Now, why would I resign my command, Colonel?" Colonel Yash asked Lock, a look of confidence and borderline contempt being displayed on his face.
"Colonel Obrist." Lock replied.
The confident look on Colonel Yash's face was replaced with one of uncertainty and a touch of fear. "I meant no disrespect, Colonel. I apologise for my lack of decorum and etiquette towards you."
Lock moved towards Colonel Yash. He kept his pace even and steady, trying to give the best menacing stare he could muster at the Colonel. "Did you think your treachery towards the Empire would not be uncovered by the ISB, even in these dark times? It's in times like these that we need officers that can be depended upon to carry on with the work of bringing order to the galaxy." Lock had reached Colonel Yash's desk placing his gloved right hand firmly on top of Colonel Yash's ungloved hand. The neurotoxin that was on the palm of Lock's glove immediately started working, spreading through Colonel Yash's body.
Colonel Yash looked down at his hand and then quickly back at Lock. "What?" Was all that he managed to say before the neurotoxin paralyzed him completely. His head landed on the desk with a dull thud.
Lock thought back to about twenty minutes before he and Rogue had entered the base. Rogue had told him to use the name Obrist if asked who he was. He had continued to tell Lock that Obrist was infamous within the ISB for being cruel and sadistic but also one of the ISB's top people. If he was coming for you, you were pretty much done for.
Rogue had given Lock the glove with the neurotoxin concealed on the palm. To deploy it, the person wearing the glove simply used their gloved thumb to remove the cover and the neurotoxin was ready in a single use delivery system. Rogue had also mentioned that the neurotoxin was also untraceable after two minutes of being administered, and if left alone would leave the victim unharmed and with no memory of the event ever happening after thirty minutes.
Lock rolled the paralyzed Colonel in his chair away from his desk to allow him to access Colonel Yash's desk drawers. The Colonel's blaster was in the top drawer, just where Lock thought it would be. He placed it on top of the desk for later. He then stuck his left hand behind and under his cape and removed two explosive devices. The first he planted directly under the desk, arming it and setting the timer. Next, moved Colonel Yash back to where he had been previously sitting. The second device Lock placed inside the computer terminal on the right side of the room by removing one of the access panels and again setting the timer.
Satisfied with the placement of the two devices, Lock walked back towards Colonel Yash. It was at this point there was a loud smacking sound which came from the office next door, quickly followed by a yelp from what sounded like the Captain in the main office. Then the sound of something hitting a solid object finally followed up by Rogue shouting something at the Captain in the main office.
Lock picked up Colonel Yash's blaster and with his other hand brought Colonel Yash's right hand up from his lap. Carefully, he curled Yash's hand around the pistol grip of the blaster and slid the Colonel's index finger around the trigger. Lock brought the muzzle of the blaster up and placed it under the Colonel's chin. When he was satisfied with the position, he squeezed the trigger. The blaster bolt burned through the top of the Colonel's skull and into the ceiling above, leaving a burn mark where it hit. He lowered the dead man's hand making sure that a grip was maintained on the blaster.
Lock strode purposefully out of the office. The Captain that had been sitting behind the desk was now standing, albeit supported by Rogue who was keeping the other man upright by the scruff of his collar. The Captain's right cheek was swollen and already turning a nasty colour, whilst blood was running freely from both nostrils. Lock looked back to Rogue. "Colonel Yash decided to take the dishonourable way out."
"Captain Hoy here decided that he was going to obstruct your investigation, Sir. I've taken the liberty of ordering six Commandos to secure the office while you continue your investigation." Rogue replied to Lock.
"Very good, Major. I have a feeling that there will be a lot more to uncover here." Lock turned to face the doors of the turbolift waiting for the summoned Commandos to arrive. Within a minute the turbolift arrived and six Commandos emerged. All were in full battle gear and heavily armed.
The squad was led by a Lieutenant who walked straight over to Lock and saluted him. "Lieutenant Vel reporting as ordered sir."
Lock returned the salute with a quick and informal one that senior officers often used when dealing with junior ranks. "Lieutenant Vel, I'll come straight to the point. Colonel Yash has decided to take the dishonourable option rather than face Imperial justice. I need you and your people to guard this area. No one is to enter the Colonel's office, including yourselves. I have a team of slicers coming to dissect the late Colonel's digital footprint. Colonel Yash confirmed that there were others here who were involved with him and also guilty of betraying the Empire. I want this miserable wretch taken to the stockades and held there with no contact with anyone else. I will be dealing with him personally." As if on cue, Rogue let go of Captain Hoy's collar and the man simply crumpled to the floor.
Lieutenant Vel pointed to the semi conscious man on the floor. "You two, take this man down to the cells. Make sure that the guards are under strict orders not to speak to him or let anyone else speak to him and then return here on the double. Is that understood?"
Both Commandos replied in unison. "Yes Sir." They hauled up the semi conscious Captain and dragged him into the turbolift.
The Lieutenant watched as the doors to the turbolift slid closed and then turned back to face Lock. "Is there anything else, Sir?"
"Not at the moment Lieutenant Vel, but I will probably have need of you and your squad later. Secure this floor, Lieutenant." Lock again gave an informal salute before heading towards the turbolift followed by Rogue.
"Understood, Sir." Lieutenant Vel returned the salute and positioned himself in front of the door to Colonel Yash's office. The remaining three Commandos deployed around the main office.
The door to the turbolift slid open. Lock and Rogue entered it and selected the ground floor. Moments later the door opened and the two men walked out of the building and made their way towards the command bunker. As they walked towards the building the command bunker was located in, Rogue turned to Lock. "Sir, we have just over two hours to change shifts. That should give us more than enough time to question the officer and others before we turn our attention to the other individuals here."
"Thank you, Major. This place does seem to be in need of our detailed attention." Lock answered Rogue letting him know that he understood what Rogue was telling him.
The two men received no challenges when they entered the building. The two Stormtroopers at the entrance quickly came to attention as Rogue and Lock walked in. A minute later they were at the security door that was the only way into the command bunker. Rogue pressed the communications button and waited for a response.
"Yes?" Came a terse reply.
"Colonel Obrist and Major Krell, ISB." Rogue answered.
There was a pause before a different person on the other side replied. "How can we be of service to the Imperial Service Bureau, Sir?
"By opening the door and not making me ask twice." Rogue replied coldly. About ten seconds later, the door to the command bunker opened by one of the Commandos on duty who stood aside and came to attention as Rogue and Lock walked into the bunker. Inside, the other five occupants also stood up at attention. In the centre was the Captain in charge. Her uniform was immaculate, not a crease where there shouldn't be one, and her service ribbons were perfectly in line. Rogue walked over to her while Lock however stayed near the Commando who had let them into the bunker. When Rogue was close enough to the Captain he just simply said. "Name?"
"Captain Yuill, Sir." The Commando Captain replied.
Rogue reached up with his right hand and removed his black officer's cap and tossed it to the console on the right side of the room. Captain Yuill's eyes and head started to follow the cap as it sailed through the air. He chose that moment while the Captain was distracted to act. He drew the left concealed blade from its sheath and rammed it as hard and deep as he could under the Captain's chin into her throat. When the blade had travelled the full length into Captain Yuill's throat, he gave the blade twist and pulled the blade out.
Captain Yuill instinctively brought her hands up to the wound as she collapsed onto the floor. She tried to say something but she only managed to cough up blood before her vision started to go dark at the edges. As she started to lose consciousness, she thought she could hear her parents calling her- telling her it was time to come home.
It had been several minutes since Rogue and Lock had left the command bunker after dealing with the Imperial occupants. Rogue and Lock, now sporting their off-duty storm trooper disguises, were heading to the base's northern exit. Having entered the base through the southern exit, they had agreed earlier that this would be their exit strategy from the Imperial base. So far they had not been stopped or challenged by anyone and had done their best of blending in with the rest of the people going about their business. Lock spoke up as they headed towards the northern exit. "We've got just over four hours until we need to be back here and ready for duty. Fancy heading out and getting something to eat?"
"Sounds like a brilliant idea. How about we try that new fast food food place? Some of the other guys have said that their chow is amazing- out of this world in fact." Rogue replied.
Lock smiled. "Good, I hate having an empty stomach when I'm on shift."
Rogue laughed. "Your stomach is always empty, mate."
Lock also laughed. "You know what, you're not wrong there!"
"You two men, where do you think you're going?" A voice shouted from behind them.
Both Lock and Rogue stopped walking and turned casually to see who had shouted at them. It was an Imperial officer, a Lieutenant. Rogue and Lock came to attention and Lock answered. "Sir, we're just heading into town to get something to eat that isn't from the mess hall. We're not due on shift for just over three hours sir."
"I don't know you two- what are your names?"
Lock replied first. "Sir, Corporal Seidel, Sir."
Rogue then answered. "Sir, Corporal Galatine, Sir. Sir we've only been on base for just over three weeks. We recently transferred from the ISD Harbinger, sir."
The name of the ship had a visible reaction to the Imperial officer. "My condolences to the loss of your ship and colleagues, troopers."
"Sir, thank you. We're just hoping that we get a chance to avenge our people, sir."
The Lieutenant regained his composure. "I personally guarantee that you will get your chance troopers. By the way, what happened here?" The Lieutenant pointed to Lock's busted lip and Rogue's dressed wound on the left side of his face.
Rogue answered. "Sir, we were in town the other day having a quiet drink, and several of the locals made some remarks about what happened at Endor being a good thing. Myself and Corporal Seidel took exception at this and helped them to see why they were wrong, sir."
The Lieutenant smiled. "Excellent work troopers, that's what I like to hear. Make sure you're both back here in plenty of time. I've heard there's two ISB parasites currently on the base and I will not give them an excuse to reprimand me or loyal troopers in any way. Is that understood, troopers?"
Both Rogue and Lock answered in unison. "Sir, yes Sir."
"Very well, enjoy your food. Dismissed." The Lieutenant turned and walked away from both men.
Lock and Rogue turned and started making their way back towards the north gate. "As Lieutenants go, he's not a bad one." Lock said.
"Yeah he's one of the better ones I suppose, but we need to get moving otherwise we're not going to have enough time to sample the delights of the new fast food place!"
The fake Imperial repair droid that Beth had supplied Rogue for the mission was secured in its final location. After slicing into the base's network, it had gone to the communications array and placed two explosive devices. It then made its way to its current location, the fuel depot where it had secured itself to one of the fuel tanks. The repair droid had no more explosive devices left to plant, but this didn't matter as the droid itself was programmed to explode when its internal timer counted down to zero.
Ten seconds after it arrived, the counter reached zero. There was a bright flash followed by a spark. The fuel tanker erupted in a deafening explosion. The blast wave and fireball tore through the surrounding area, killing and vaporising personnel in the vicinity and injuring countless others. As this was happening, the devices placed at the communications array detonated, killing two Imperials that were walking past and completely destroyed the array.
The noise from the explosions was heard throughout the base and the surrounding area. Lock and Rogue turned to see a huge fireball rising up into the sky with another smaller smoke plume going skywards at a different location. 'Kriff!" Rogue swore.
Everyone in the base had turned to look up and towards the fireball and seemed frozen in place. The fireball started to diminish and be replaced by thick black smoke and flames. The silence was broken again by another explosion, this time it came from the garrison's main building. The top floor of the building erupted and disappeared in flames and debris. Someone shouted. "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!" Before they or anyone else could say or do anything there was another explosion, this time it was a lot closer. The building that housed the command bunker literally blew apart.
Rogue and Lock threw themselves to the ground managing to be missed by the majority of the blast wave and debris. Rogue looked up to where the building used to be. Bodies could be seen strewn all over the place in various conditions. Wounded personnel were staggering around or writhing in agony on the ground with horrific injuries or completely missing limbs. A Stormtrooper whose armour had mostly been ripped off them came stumbling into view. Part of the man's face was missing along with his left arm below his elbow. What was left of his white armour was covered in the man's blood. He took several more steps before whatever life was left in him disappeared and he simply dropped to the ground, dead. Rogue pushed himself up and shouted to Lock. "Follow me."
Lock jumped up and ran after Rogue. "Where are we going?"
Rogue shouted back to Lock as they ran towards a large grey building two intersections away. "You heard that officer, we're under attack! We're going to the armoury." The two men ran as fast as they could towards their destination. At that moment, confusion was on their side as the Imperials had no idea as to what was going on and now idea who was attacking them or how many attackers there were.
Three other Imperials were also heading towards the same building and were slightly ahead of Rogue and Lock. They entered the building where the armoury was housed closely followed by the two pilots.
Rogue managed to get past the trailing Imperial and pull level with the two at the front, as he was running, Rogue unsheathed his concealed blade on his left side. He needed to make sure he timed this right. As he was sprinting and his right arm pulling backwards and his left arm forwards, in one fluid motion stopped running and with all his strength brought his left arm back and drove his blade into the Imperials chest and almost sliced the man's heart in two before quickly removing the blade. The blow dropped the Imperial like a sack of tubers, and he remained on the ground motionless. At the same time this was happening, with his right hand Rogue had unsheathed the concealed blade from his right side and drove it into the neck of the Imperial on his right. The man collapsed to the floor when Rogue withdrew the blade from the man's neck, blood spraying over the walls from the wound.
Lock withdrew the small hold out blaster from his pocket and placed it at the back of the third Imperial's head as the man came skidding to a halt after seeing what had happened to the two men infront of him. Lock calmly squeezed the trigger, sending the Imperial slightly forward as the blaster bolt burned through the man's skull and out of his left eye socket. The bolt hit the wall, leaving a small scorch mark where it impacted.
Rogue shouted as loud as he could. "THE REBELS ARE IN THE BASE! THEY'RE KILLING EVERYONE!" Rogue resheathed the blade in his left hand and waited a few seconds, nodded at Lock, and then the pair of them continued running towards the armoury. They rounded the next corner cautiously. The door to the armoury was open and inside were four more Imperials dressed in duty fatigues. Outside guarding the entrance were two Stormtroopers. Rogue looked over to Lock as they sped towards the entrance to the armoury. "Take those two, I've got the rest."
At the time, Lock was too busy shooting the two Stormtroopers to pay much attention to what Rogue was doing. It was only afterwards when he had a chance to think that he was able to reconstruct the events in his head to some sort of order.
One- Rogue reversed the blade in his right hand and charged past the two guards and grabbed hold of the nearest Imperial inside the armoury.
Two- Rogue slashed viciously upwards opening up the Imperial's stomach whilst simultaneously letting go of the Imperial's tunic and grabbed a thermal detonator from a bandoleer that was hanging in an open weapons rack.
Three- Rogue shoved the thermal detonator into the hole he had opened in the man, activated it, and left it there. He then shoved the Imperial back towards the other three Imperials in the armoury.
Four- The thermal detonator exploded, spraying the Imperial over his comrades. The bone shrapnel caused injuries to the three Imperials.
Five- Stunning them long enough for Rogue to bring his blade in a viscous arc, slashing their throats. An explosion of blood spewed out from the wounds inflicted.
Six- All Imperial soldiers were on the ground, either dead or bleeding out and would be dead in a few moments.
"Kriff me!" Lock exclaimed. "Remind me never to put drinks on your tab again!"
"We'll talk about that later. Gear up and make it quick." Rogue said as he grabbed another bandoleer of thermal detonators and slipped it over his left shoulder as he sheathed his blade. He secured to his waist a belt with an E-11 Carbine blaster and spare ammo packs and threw another one to Lock, who caught it deftly and did the same. Rogue made his way over to the back wall and removed a Stouker Concussion Rifle.
Lock had picked up a heavy blaster rifle that had a twin under-barrel grenade launchers. He was putting six additional rifle grenades into his pockets before he moved over to a shelf with explosives. He selected two and activated them. "How long?"
"Sixty seconds- let's move." Rogue replied.
"Copy that, devices armed!" Lock ran from the armoury, followed by Rogue. Both men ran down the corridors, heading out of the building. As they made their way out a group of Imperials were running into the building, presumably to go to the armoury. Lock shouted to them, "The armoury is open and they're issuing the good stuff, hurry!"
One of the running Imperials shouted back to Lock. "Understood." Before she disappeared into the building followed by the others.
"On me." Rogue said before heading away from the building.
"Where are we headed?" Asked Lock.
"Landing pad, we need to get airborne." The two men darted around a building and had managed to run a little bit further before the explosives in the armoury detonated. The resulting explosion tore through the corridors in the building, completely annihilating the group of Imperials that were approaching the armoury. Part of the roof collapsed in before secondary explosions from stored ammunition started to cook off, further adding to the destruction. They had almost made it to the landing pad when a squad of Stormtroopers appeared being led by a Captain, Rogue headed over towards them and stopped just in front of the Captain. "Captain, thank kriff we've found you! Rebels have infiltrated the base, they're killing everyone."
The Captain was sweating and was looking nervously about the place and flinching when an explosion was heard coming from the ruins of the armoury. "Are you sure? I've not seen any!"
"Yes sir, they're disguised as Imperial Commandos." Rogue answered.
"What? By the Ancestors! Those black hearted bastards!" The Imperial Captain seemed to become more nervous now, his eyes darting all over the place.
Lock spotted two squads of Imperial Commandos heading their way, behind the group of Stormtroopers and the Captain. "Captain, that group there. It's them, the Rebels!"
The Captain and the Stormtroopers spun round, aiming their blasters at the advancing Commando squads. The Imperial Captain shouted as loud as he could. "REBEL BASTARDS! DROP YOUR WEAPONS."
The two squads of Imperial Commandos stopped with several of them exchanging confused glances between each other, while others aimed their own weapons at the squad of Stormtroopers.
Rogue used the opportunity the situation had delivered. "Look out, they're going to fire!"
A Stormtrooper opened fire, hitting one of the Commandos square in the chest, killing him outright. The other Stormtroopers instinctively opened fire as well along with the Captain leading the squad. Within a few seconds, several Imperial Commandos had been mortally wounded. The Commandos returned fire and two Stormtroopers were killed. A firefight erupted with both sides trying to get into cover as best they could.
Rogue raised the concussion rifle to his right shoulder, aimed towards a group of Commandos and squeezed the trigger. The blue and white round hit a Commando in the mid section and detonated. The blast wave from the explosion blew the man apart and killed three more Commandos that were close to their colleague. Over the sound of blaster fire, someone from the ranks of the Commandos was shouting for them to fall back.
The Imperial Captain stood from behind his cover. "The Rebel's are falling back, follow me." He had taken no more than two steps forward when he was cut down by a blaster bolt from a Commando's weapon. The Stormtroopers faltered in their advance.
Lock aimed his heavy blaster rifle and killed the Commando who had just taken out the Captain. "You heard the Captain, forward! Kill them all!"
The Stormtroopers started charging forward, firing from their hips. The blaster fire was going wide of most of their targets, but it had the desired effect of forcing the Commandos to carry on falling back.
Rogue and Lock stayed back and watched as the Stormtroopers advanced on the Commandos. The Stormtroopers were joined by a few other Imperials who were now also targeting and shooting at the overwhelmed Commandos. "You almost had me joining them!" Rogue said to Lock.
"What can I say, I'm a natural." Lock replied before they both once more started running towards the landing pad.
With the base's communication network destroyed and people unable to talk to each other apart from directly face to face, several other firefights erupted across the base between friendly forces as the rumour of Rebels disguised as Imperials spread therefore adding to the general chaos that had enveloped the base.
Lock and Rogue neared the landing platform. On the pad was a Gamma-class ATR-6 assault transport. "That's our ride out of here." Lock shouted.
"Copy that." Rogue replied.
Maybe it was down to the panic and confusion that seemed to be spreading throughout the base or maybe it was down to instinct- whatever it was, a group of Imperials opened fire on Lock and Rogue as they approached the ATR. Most of the bolts were wide of the mark, but it was either a lucky or well aimed shot that hit Lock in his left leg. Lock went down hard, hitting the right side of his face on the ground and knocking the breath out of him as he skidded to a halt. Lock was dazed and struggling to draw in a breath, and time had seemed to slow down to a crawl for him. He blinked his eyes, trying to regain his vision and focus. He was aware of someone shouting his name but couldn't quite hear who it was or where they were shouting from. There was a dull thud that seemed to come from somewhere in the distance followed by more noise and shouting. Lock's hearing suddenly became a high pitched whistling sound which quickly changed to Rogue shouting his name, Lock blinked his eyes again and time returned to normal.
"Lock, you good? Answer me dammit!" Rogue shouted.
Lock didn't respond verbally. He quickly grabbed his heavy blaster and raised himself up onto his elbows. He aimed down the sight and squeezed the trigger for the grenade launchers, sending two grenades towards another group of Imperials. The explosions from the grenades killed the group outright, scattering parts of their bodies all over the area. "I'm good. Left leg took a hit."
Rogue slung his concussion rifle over his left shoulder so it was dangling from the shoulder strap. He used both hands to haul up Lock, then used his right arm to support Lock. "Let's move," Rogue said as he started making his way towards the ATR.
Lock grimaced as the pain from his leg travelled up the entire length of his body but didn't cry out as he did his best to keep moving. They reached the ATR and made their way up the ramp and headed to the cockpit. Rogue dumped Lock in the Co-pilot's chair and it was only then did he let out a yelp of pain. "Kriff me your bedside manner is awful."
"Suck it up princess, I'm starting emergency launch procedures. Once we're up you're on weapons." Rogue started flicking switches and pushing buttons and the ATR hummed to life.
"Copy that." Lock growled through gritted teeth as he activated the turrets on the ATR from the Co-pilot's chair, a targeting display came to life on the display in front of Lock as he strapped himself in. "Waiting for the turrets to power up."
Rogue engaged the repulsors and lifted the assault shuttle off the landing pad, at the same time he raised the boarding ramp and retracted the landing gear. "Weapon system is on line, you're hot to trot." Rogue said as he eased the throttle forward.
Lock targeted a Delta-class JV-7 escort shuttle and opened fire. A few shots later from the ATR's turreted lasers and the escort shuttle had exploded on its landing pad. He switched his fire to various targets of opportunity as the ATR started gaining speed.
Rogue armed the dual Krupx MG7 proton torpedo launchers and dumb fired two torpedoes at an anti starfighter battery, completly destroying it. He tilted the nose of the ATR up slightly and fully opened up the throttles. The ship lurched forward and headed away from the base. "Take the stick and come back around and do a strafing run of the base and make sure our escape vector takes us towards the skimmers." Rogue got up and headed back into the ATR.
Lock flicked a switch that swapped his control from controlling the turrets to controlling the ATR and started banking the ATR in a wide turn that would bring them back over the Imperial base and on a general heading in the direction of their stashed skimmers. As the Imperial garrison came back into view, he pointed the nose of the ship directly at the main building in the centre. It was the one they had killed Colonel Yash in and the top of the building was still burning fiercely. Lock dumb fired two more torpedos at the middle of the building. The two warheads hit and blew the building completely apart. He dumbfired the remaining four torpedoes at two other buildings obliterating them and the people sheltering inside of the structures.
Rogue came back into the cockpit and threw a gravity chute to Lock. "Put this on." Rogue started programming the nav computer and setting the auto pilot while Lock strapped himself into the gravity chute. "Alright, let's go." Rogue got up and dragged Lock up and out of the Co-pilot's chair and headed out of the cockpit and back into the main area of the ATR. He hit the door button and the door shot open. Taking a look through the cockpit window, "Here we go." Rogue pushed Lock through the open door before jumping out of the ATR himself. The gravity chute automatically activated and slowed both pilots down and brought them down to the ground several seconds later.
Lock winced as he put weight on his left leg. "Which way?" He asked Rogue.
Rogue simply pointed towards the group of trees on the outskirts of the town. This was where they had hidden the skimmers and changed into their ISB disguises. He supported Lock once more as they made their way to the tree line. Once inside, Rogue changed direction slightly and then carried on walking with Lock. A minute later they were at the location of the skimmers. Rogue lowered Lock to the ground and passed him the medi pack he had also taken from the ATR.
Lock opened up the medi pack and started using the cutters to remove the trousers around the wound. Once that was done, he started applying a bacta dressing to the wound. "What did you do with the ATR?" He asked Rogue.
"Set it to fly twenty klicks west before heading straight up into orbit before it jumps out of the system. After that, only the force knows where it'll end up." Rogue started to get changed into his pilot gear. He unclipped the E-11 carbine and dumped it onto the ground along with the bandoleer of thermal detonators. He slipped his arms through the twin shoulder holsters that housed his two DL-44 heavy blasters and patted them once he had adjusted them. He chucked Lock his own flight gear and helped him get dressed into it.
Lock placed the belt that held the E-11 carbine Rogue had given him from the bases's armoury with the other items and now discarded disguises. He ejected the two spent shells from the grenade launcher and slotted two live grenades into the chambers before he shouldered the heavy blaster rifle and finally attached his holster and his Merr-Sonn type CC heavy blaster pistol. "What now?"
Rogue shouldered his concussion rifle. "First, I set one of these detonators to go off in two minutes and destroy all this evidence, then I go and make a quick house call before we get the hell out of here."
It was dusk. Lock was trying to make himself as comfortable as possible as he adjusted the zoom options on the heavy blaster rifle's scope. They had managed to get near Governor Blomus' mansion over an hour ago. Rogue had told him that he would wait until dusk to make his entry and contact the Governor. During that time, Rogue had been scouting the area and the exterior of the mansion looking for possible ways in while Lock had been perched on the rooftop of a building nearby that gave him a full field of view of the front and right side of the Governor's mansion. Lock had used this time to monitor the guards patrolling the outside of the mansion and see if they had any routines or specific times they did certain things. He hadn't seen how or where Rogue had managed to get into the grounds of the mansion, but he was now tracking him using the scope on the heavy blaster rifle. "Guard about to pass your location." Lock said in a quiet voice. There was no reply, instead Lock saw Rogue emerge from the shadows and take down the patrolling guard and then drag the unconscious guard off the path and out of sight. "That looked painful!"
"He's going to be sore for the next few days that's for sure." Rogue replied. "Where's the next guard?"
Lock scanned the area and found the next patrolling guard. "He'll be heading to your location in the next minute." He watched as Rogue darted towards the corner of the mansion's external wall where he would be able to ambush the guard. "Be at your location in ten seconds."
Rogue had once again hidden himself in the shadows and made himself as small as possible. He heard Lock tell him that the guard would be at his location in ten seconds in his ear piece. He heard the guard's footsteps getting closer to his location. The guard came past Rogue without noticing him, He let the guard go several steps by before he made his attack. The first the guard knew anything about it was when Rogue's right arm wrapped around his neck followed by his left hand clamping over his mouth. Rogue grabbed hold of his own left shoulder with his right hand and pulled and squeezed against the now struggling guard. After twenty seconds the guard went limp in his arms and stopped struggling. Rogue removed the guard's communication device and threw it away into the grounds before dragging the guard out of sight.
"Alright, you're clear to the left side of the mansion. Haul ass and you'll be there in plenty of time for the next guard," Lock whispered quietly. The communication device nestled into his ear picked his voice up easily and transmitted it to Rogue.
"Copy that." Rogue replied and sprinted towards the left side of the mansion and took up position once there.
"He's on his way- contact in five." Lock told Rogue.
Rogue readied himself as he listened for the approaching guard. The guard appeared at the corner and Rogue landed a solid punch on the guard's lower jaw. The guard dropped down onto the ground and didn't move, knocked unconscious and snoring.
"Nice punch, out for the count in one." Lock said with a smile on his face.
"What can I say? Life day celebrations used to get out of hand back in the day," Rogue whispered in a deadpan tone. "Moving to take out the last guard. Keep an eye on the front and let me know if anything changes."
"You got it, good hunting," Lock replied. He watched Rogue disappear around the left side of the mansion and out of sight. He scanned the front and the right of the mansion and saw no further movement. He switched the scope to thermal mode, and he quickly picked out the three heat signatures of the guards that Rogue had neutralised. They were all out of sight and not moving. Scanning the main building he saw two moving heat patterns inside and what appeared to be two together upstairs in what would be the master bedroom.
"Guard number four is no longer an issue, making entry." Rogue reported to Lock.
"Copy. Just to let you know, thermal is showing movement on the ground and first floor with the target probably located on the second floor in the master bedroom." Lock passed on to Rogue.
"Received, heading for ground floor target." Rogue quietly closed the door that he had bypassed the security system on. His boots hardly made any sound as he made his way along the corridor. Inside the mansion, most of the lighting was set to a dim mode making the environment ideal for him to skulk through the place. His flight suit was a mismatch of dark and mottled colours, all various sizes and patterns. In low light it made Rogue extremely difficult to spot.
"Just up ahead." Lock passed on to Rogue.
Rogue carefully leaned around the corner and saw the guard walking away from him. He ran as stealthy as possible up behind the guard. He was almost at the guard when the guard turned around and saw Rogue running towards him. The look of confusion, surprise and terror quickly crossed the guards face. He hesitated, and that was all the opportunity Rogue needed. He jumped up and reached out with both hands grabbing the man's head and pulled it towards and downwards in one fluid motion. At the same time, Rogue's right knee was being drawn up towards the man's head. His knee made contact with the guard's nose. There was a loud crack, and the man's head flew back. The guard collapsed to the floor and skidded along it for a bit, rolling over and coming to a stop on his stomach.
The man let out an agonised groan and started to try and get up, but Rogue was instantly by his side. Kneeling down beside the prone guard, he grabbed a handful of the man's hair and slammed his head into the floor. There was a wet smacking sound as the man's head made contact. The guard's body went limp instantly. Rogue released the man's hair and leaned in, checked the man's breathing before rolling him onto his left side and putting him in the recovery position. "Making my way up to the first floor." Rogue said quietly.
"Yeah I think our friend up there might have heard something. He's making his way towards the stairs!" Lock reported. "Confirmed, target heading downstairs now."
Rogue didn't reply, he quickly moved away from the unconscious guard and located a decent ambush point.
The guard who had been patrolling the first floor was taking the stairs down to the ground floor two at a time. This was the first time he had ever had an uneasy feeling while being a guard at the mansion. He was hoping it was just Malik being a clumsy fool again and breaking another one of the Governor's ornaments. "Malik? Malik you alright, what've you broken now?" The guard drew his blaster and carried on to where he thought he had heard the sound come from when he was up on the first floor, he saw a shape lying in the middle of the floor. "Malik?"
Rogue leapt from his hiding place. With his left hand coming down in a sweeping arc, he made contact with the guard's right wrist. The impact sent the blaster tumbling out of the man's hand and clattering to the floor. Rogue followed up his attack by bringing his right elbow up and aiming for the right side of the guard's temple.
Deflecting the incoming elbow from his attacker by parrying it with his left arm, the impact from the assailant's elbow ran through the guard's body. He quickly shook his right hand to try and get some feeling back into it and brought himself into a fighting stance and sent a flurry of punches towards the person who had attacked him.
Rogue blocked the first punch and managed to deflect the second, but the third came in from his right side and connected with his midsection. He let out a slight gasp of air as the impact into the left side of his body ran through him. Rogue managed to land a solid hit on the guard's nose and was rewarded with the sound of cartilage breaking and blood flowing from both nostrils immediately.
The guard's head rocked back with the punch to his nose. "Kriffer!" The guard swore and launched a vicious assault on his attacker. Along with punches, he attempted to swipe the legs from under the man attacking him.
Rogue was once more on the defensive, dodging and blocking punches being sent his way by the guard. He saw the kick coming in from the man before he had even started it and was able block it easily enough. What Rogue didn't see in time was the punch coming in from the right side again. This time the guard's fist made contact with Rogue's face just under his left eye. The impact staggered Rogue backwards a few steps.
Seeing that he had a slight advantage, the guard pressed home his attack against the intruder with another series of punches and kicks.
Rogue went on the defensive and intercepted and deflected the incoming kicks and punches. His opportunity came when the guard went for a mid level sidekick. Rogue grabbed the man's leg just above his right ankle and stepped back slightly. This immediately threw the guard off balance. Rogue lowered his right knee and brought his right fist up in an upper cut into the man's groin.
The man let out a cry of anguish as he collapsed onto the floor clutching his groin, tears streaming down his face. Through his agony, he heard his attacker move towards him and forced his eyes open and lifted his head up slightly.
Rogue looked down at the man on the floor and leaned in towards him. "This'll help." He landed a solid punch on the guard's jaw line, knocking the man out completely. He straightened up and drew his DL-44 from his left shoulder holster and moved towards the stairs.
"Damn! You fight dirty!" Lock said as he watched Rogue start making his way up the stairs to the first floor.
"You better believe it. Any movement from the target?" Rogue asked.
Lock adjusted his aim to the master bedroom. "Negative, still two signatures. They're either real heavy sleepers or they've got some really good insulation in that room."
"I guess I'll find out soon enough, stand by." Rogue said as he made his way up the next set of stairs to the second floor and then headed towards the master bedroom at the end of the corridor. He reached the door and used his left hand to slowly and quietly open the door into the master bedroom. He was aiming his blaster into the room as he made his way through into the room. Towards the far end of the room was a large bed. In it Rogue could make out two people under the covers sleeping soundly. On the left side of the bed was Governor Blomus, on the right was his wife. Rogue walked quietly over towards the bed and aimed his DL-44 at the Governor's wife. He double checked the stun setting with his thumb and fired. The blue stun bolt briefly lit up the room before it hit the Governor's wife who jolted as the stun bolt hit her.
Governor Blomus awoke immediately and sat straight up. "Aurra!" He shouted as he looked over from Rogue to his wife.
Rogue moved in on the Governor and pushed him back down into his bed with his left hand while pressing the barrel of his blaster into the Governor's temple. "Relax Governor, she's only stunned. She'll be fine."
Governor Blomus was still trying to make sense of what was going on. He tried to sit up again but was instantly pushed back down. "Aurra." He said again.
Rogue let out a sigh. "I told you Governor, she's only stunned and will be fine. If you shut up and listen, you'll hear her breathing."
Cal stopped moving and listened, after a few moments he heard his wife's breathing was regular and normal. Cal relaxed into the bed and stopped trying to get up. "What do you want?"
Sensing that the Governor had calmed down, Rogue took his blaster away from the Governor's temple and stepped back. "I'm here to let you know that you're working for me as of now, and by me, I mean the New Republic. You're going to be our tame Governor and our voice of reason and look favourably in reaching out to us while no longer enforcing hardline Imperial policy."
Cal slowly pushed himself up and sat his back against the headboard. He tried to get a good look at the man standing in front of him, but the man's face had been covered in camouflage paint so he was unable to pick out any features. "I can't. Even if I wanted to do as you say. And that's a stretch, considering it's really hard to trust somebody that just stunned my wife in our marital bed."
Rogue smiled. "Is that because of your friend Colonel Yash and the file that he has on you by chance?"
Cal's eyes widened. "How do you know about him and what he may or may not have?"
"How's not important Governor. What is important is that there's no longer a Colonel Yash. There's no longer any information stored at Colonel Yash's base. What is important is this: I have the file that Yash made on you. That makes you mine now, Governor. Do you understand?"
Cal nervously licked his lips. "Yes."
"Here's the thing Governor, I'm not even going to look on that data file to see what the late Colonel had over you, because if it's something I don't like I'd probably come back and kill you. So it's safe to say that while I have it, I won't be paying you regular visits to threaten you or anything like that. Just know that I have the file and that should be all the motivation you need to do your part which isn't really all that different from what you used to do previously. Clear?"
A tear trickled down the Governor's left cheek. "Yes, totally."
"Glad to hear it, Governor. You're also going to have some explaining to your wife and your guards. Some of them are a bit battered and bruised I'm afraid." Rogue informed the Senator.
The look on Cal's face changed, hardening a little. "You're as bad as they are!"
Rogue gave a half smile. "Governor, this is all on you. If you hadn't been doing whatever it was that brought you to the attention of Colonel Yash, none of this would ever have happened. Besides, a skilled politician like yourself, you'll be able to talk your way out of this. So take some advice from me: whatever it was you used to do, stop doing it." Rogue took a few steps back. "One last thing Governor. You've got it wrong- we're the good guys!" Rogue said as he squeezed the trigger and another blue stun bolt shot out. It hit the Governor on his left shoulder, sending him slipping down the headrest back onto his pillows. He holstered his DL-44 and made his way out of the bedroom. "Heading out, what's it look like out there?"
Lock came out of thermal mode on the scope and scanned the area. "All clear out front." A minute later he saw Rogue making his way out of the mansion's grounds and then heading back towards his rooftop position.
A few minutes later Rogue was next to Lock on the rooftop. "How's the leg?"
"Sore, but not as sore as my face." Lock replied.
Rogue winced as he looked at Lock's battered and bruised face. "Sorry mate, there's not enough bacta in the galaxy to fix that mess. And that's before you decided to faceplant yourself!"
"Thanks buddy!" Lock laughed. "Can we go now?"
"Yeah we're good." Rogue helped Lock stand up and gathered up the rest of the equipment as Lock got himself onto his skimmer. Rogue handed him the heavy blaster rifle, which Lock shouldered and got ready to head back to their fighters. Picking up the concussion rifle, he took a last look around before he also shouldered his rifle and stepped onto his skimmer. The journey back to their fighters was quick and uneventful. He dismantled and stored the skimmers in the cargo hold of his X-Wing along with the two rifles. Rogue called up to his Astromech. "Shade, power up the converters and get ready to calculate the best way out of here." Shade gave a few whistles and beeps and carried out the task.
Lock slipped on his helmet and gloves as he limped over to Rogue. "How long until we get back?"
"We've got a bit of a journey, probably take us the better part of half a day." Rogue replied.
"That's perfect, I'm beat and I could do with the chance to catch up on some sleep." Lock said as he stifled a yawn.
"Your fighter is still slaved to Shade, so he'll do all the plotting and jump coordinations. You might as well take the opportunity while you can."
Lock limped back to his A-Wing and clambered into the cockpit. Once inside, he strapped himself in, sealed the cockpit, and ran through the startup sequence for the fighter.
Rogue used the lower right engine nacel to boost himself up to the cockpit and pulled himself into his X-Wing. He put on his helmet and gloves and closed the canopy. "All set?" He asked Shade. Shade gave an affirmative whistle. "Alright, let's head home." Rogue activated the repulsors for his fighter and slowly lifted it off the ground and noticed Lock did the same with his A-Wing. Rogue flicked the switch to retract the landing gear for the X-Wing. Moments later, three red lights turned green, indicating that the landing gear was now housed properly. Pulling back on the flight stick and easing the throttle forward, the fighter sped away from the clearing closely followed by Lock's A-Wing.
The two fighters stayed on their current heading and at low level for about ten minutes before they both shot upwards and headed away from Elrood and into space. A minute later both fighters had jumped to light speed and left the system.
The Vigilant hung like a jewel in space, shining and bright. Rogue and Lock were just over ten klicks away from their home ship.
Onboard the Vigilant, one of the bridge crew had been tracking the two approaching fighters after they had just reverted to real space moments earlier. She pressed a button on her console. "Unidentified fighters, this is New Republic Cruiser Vigilant. Identify yourselves and state your intentions before we consider you hostile and take appropriate actions."
"Transmitting codes now Vigilant." Lock replied and sent forth the coded identification.
On her console, the transmitted codes flashed onto the screen. Several things happened that slightly surprised the woman. Firstly, where certain details should have been displayed, all that was shown were the words 'classified'. Secondly, instead of being directed to land at the main hanger, instructions were shown for the two fighters to land in the auxiliary hanger. Lastly, Lt. Colonel Reynolds was to be notified immediately. The flight controller gave the approaching fighters the vector to land their ships in the auxiliary hanger and then contacted Lt. Colonel Reynolds. "Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds? This is Ensign Piancia. Two unidentified fighters have just jumped in. They've been cleared to land in the auxiliary hangar and I've been ordered to contact you."
Jalb responded immediately to the call. "Thank you Ensign. Wipe all information from the system concerning those two fighters. That's an order."
"Understood sir." Ensign Piancia replied as she complied with the order, removing all records of the two fighters that had just docked in the auxiliary hangar. "Just another dull day in flight ops!" Ensign Pancia said to herself.
Jalb made his way to the auxiliary hangar. Due to it not being used as a primary hangar there were fewer deck crew working there unless there were large scale operations underway. The doors to the turbolift opened to show an A-Wing and X-Wing parked with their canopies open. Both fighters had no markings on them to distinguish what squadrons they belonged to or any other features that pilots sometimes use to personalise their ships. He saw the two pilots of the ships, and both of them were dressed in non standard Alliance flight suits. One of them was half sitting on the nose of the A-Wing, the other was standing with his back towards Jalb. Looking at Lock he could tell that the pilot had been injured by the state of bruising and cuts on the right side of his face. The other pilot turned around and for the first time Jalb was able to see that the skin around Rogue's left eye was bruised and slightly swollen and there was also a bacta dressing on his left cheek. "Are you two alright? Do I need to get medics down here?"
"Probably for Lock, he's taken a bolt to his left leg. But that can wait for a moment." Rogue replied.
"Thanks buddy, glad to see you're always looking out for me," Lock replied with half a smile.
Rogue let out a snort. "Suck it up princess. Besides, you're too ugly to die." He looked away from Lock and back toward Jalb. "The mission isn't over, we've still got a loose end."
Jalb was slightly confused until he remembered Captain Djarin, who had been placed in the brig since before Lock and Rogue had left the Vigilant. "Yes, the Captain. She's going to be happy and pretty mad all at the same time."
From the exit of the hangar, Major Murg strode toward them. "Excellent, I can release our intelligence asset who has been unjustly detained in the brig," he said cheerily.
"No you won't I'm afraid, Chief." Rogue said.
Colonel Reynolds looked surprised by Rogue's reply and his tone. "I'm sorry, why not?"
"She's an Imperial agent. Her real name is Vella Teague. Her cover name is Djarin."
"How the hell can you know that?" Murg asked.
"I once saw her profile when I was an operative. She wasn't even involved in the operation I was in. Someone had an open display about undercover agents. Hers was the open profile." Rogue answered.
Jalb opened his mouth, then closed it again, shook his head before speaking. "Rogue, I know you've got an impressive skill set but you're telling me that you remembered all this from a brief glance, all these years ago?"
"This is highly unlikely," Murg said dismissively. "New Republic Intelligence is more thorough than to allow a mole into a role like Captain Djarin's."
"I'll ask you a question, Chief. At no point during that briefing did any of you mention her name. Yet despite that I knew who she was. How?"
"I don't know." Replied Jalb.
"When Lock and I infiltrated that Imperial base, we initiated a virus in their mainframe that did several things. The fact that I knew Djarin's name was eating away at me. I shouldn't have known it. Part of the virus was designed to hunt out and find anything out on Djarin. If she was who she says she is then there should have been nothing to find. Whatever the case, Lock has the answer." Rogue looked over to Lock.
Lock's eyes went wide. "Say what now? How the hell can I have the answer?"
Rogue gave a half smile. "The virus had instructions to send any information it received on Djarin to you. It guarantees the source of the information and also means that it's not just information coming from myself. You'll need to access a datapad and input whatever your clearance you use."
Jalb took out his data pad from one of his flight suit pockets and passed it to Lock.
"Thanks," Lock said as he input his personal details into the pad. He used his finger to scroll to a section and pressed down on the display. He gave a couple of flicks on the screen and selected a file. He scrolled through the information displayed on the screen. "Kriff me, it's all there like Rogue said." He handed over the data pad to Jalb.
Jalb spent the next few minutes looking through the information, re-reading certain sections several times. When he finished reading he simply looked up and said. Druk!" He passed the datapad to Murg, and the Quarren also took a moment to scan the information before closing his eyes in frustration.
"What are we going to do with her now?" Lock asked.
Murg sighed. "We officially charge her, I suppose. We've already got her locked up in the cells."
"No." Rogue said.
"No?" Lock asked, slightly confused.
"No." Rogue replied again.
"What the hell do you mean no, Lieutenant?" Murg asked, his voice raised slightly. "Are you suggesting we let her go?"
"Yes, but not in the way you're thinking, Chief." Rogue answered.
"Well what way are you suggesting then?" Jalb asked Rogue.
"Quite simply, this mission never happened." Rogue replied.
"I'm sorry, I don't follow what you mean." Jalb rubbed the right side of his temple. His head was starting to ache.
"There's too much at stake. There can be no official or unofficial record of this ever happening. We charge Djarin, then it becomes official. There's an investigation, there's records made, statements given, all sorts of things that can find their way out or into the wrong hands despite the best measures being put in place to prevent that from happening." Rogue answered. "No, the only course of action that we can take is for the Lieutenant Colonel to go down to the cells, release Djarin and tell her that Lock and myself failed and were killed during the mission and send her on her merry way. Besides, that was her plan all along, at some point after we left the Vigilant, she was going to make contact with her handler on Elrood, who would have arranged for our capture and interrogation. This would also have been used by Colonel Yash to reinforce his grip on the Governor, basically showing him that no one could help him. Also, some false information would probably be sent back via the contact that would probably have led either to some sort of ambush or something else unpleasant."
"So Djarin or Teague or whatever the druk she's called gets to fly away and go and try and sucker some other poor group into something similar?" Lock said.
Rogue looked down towards Lock. "You know me better than that mate. That's not even an option."
Murg felt his stomach start to churn. "You're talking about murdering her in cold blood Lieutenant! I refuse to endorse this outcome. I will allow you to choose if she stays and gets formally charged, or she goes free- unharmed."
Jalb nodded uneasily in agreement. "I agree with the Major, gentlemen."
Murg nodded, satisfied. "Excellent. I will go to the holding cell to ensure the option I refuse to endorse doesn't come to pass," he said authoritatively. He spun on his heel and exited the hangar quickly.
Rogue looked to Jalb. "I'm talking about removing an enemy combatant from the field, like we've done on countless occasions. She'll leave this ship, jump to lightspeed and never be heard from again. Records will show that she was here for three days as she outlined ideas. Records will also show that nothing came from these plans and that agent Djarin left and somewhere along the way home her ship must have suffered a catastrophic failure. A tragedy, but not an unheard of, and also plausible. By taking one life here, we save countless others. There's no other option. Give me twenty minutes Lieutenant Colonel, that's all this requires."
"I don't like it Lieutenant, not one bit." Jalb replied dubiously.
"Unfortunately, it's the only play that she's left us as an option," Rogue answered.
Jalb shook his head and then turned to face Lock. "You're alright with this, Captain?"
"Kriff yes I am, Lieutenant Colonel. We do it like Rogue says and then there's only one person getting hurt. We do it any other way and there's too many people getting hurt and that's not something I am willing to live with, knowing that we could have prevented it from happening in the first place." He pushed himself up and looked Jalb straight in the eyes as he spoke. "It might not sit easy with you, but it's the right thing to do. Hell, it's the only option as Rogue said."
"It's all on you now, Sir. You better give the acting performance of a lifetime. She needs to believe you one hundred percent that we're dead after getting discovered. The whole op went to druk, lots of death and destruction, followed by you telling her to get her arse off the ship for costing you two pilots and never to come back again. No more, no less. Can you do that?" Rogue asked.
Jalb stayed silent for a while before answering. " I can."
"Good, you'll also need to stop the Major from speaking to her as well, otherwise he'll blow the op with his good intentions." Rogue paused for a moment. "Once she's off the ship, we can deal with my and Lock's return. He's been sent back for getting drunk and managing to shoot himself in the leg and injuring himself in the process by falling down stairs. I'm back due to falling out with my instructor and getting into a fight with him over opinions on B-Wings and my utter loathing of them. I take it Djarin's ship is the YT-2660?" Rogue asked.
"Affirmative." Jalb simply answered.
"Figured as much. Twenty minutes, no more." Rogue said as he walked off.
Twenty five minutes later, Jalb was escorting Captain Djarin back to her ship. Captain Djarin was walking in the middle with two of the ship's troopers either side, escorting her. No one was speaking as the group of four marched towards the YT-2660 in the main hangar. The look on Captain Djarin's face was one of pure anger, her face was slightly red and her eyes narrowed as she kept pace with her two escorts. Jalb stopped short from Captain Djarin's ship, and he turned to face her. "Captain if you wouldn't mind." he gestured towards her ship.
Captain Djarin started making her way to her ship, then turned on her heel to face Jalb. "This wouldn't have happened if those two pilots of yours would have executed the mission the way I had wanted to do it. Now you've got two pilots dead and we've not got a foothold in Elrood."
"We'll never know will we, Captain. Who's to say that the Lieutenant wasn't wrong about your agent on the base being compromised because he was using the Bothan spy network. All I know is that I'm two pilots down thanks to you at a time when we're critically short of experienced pilots. So with absolutely no respect, get the hell off this ship and go kark up someone else's life!" He turned away from Captain Djarin and marched away followed by the two troopers.
Captain Djarin muttered to herself. "Go kriff yourself Reynolds, you piece of druk!" Djarin walked up the boarding ramp of her YT-2660 and made her way into the cockpit. Once seated, she strapped herself in and brought the ship to life and closed the boarding ramp. She contacted the Vigilant's flight operations. "Vigilant, this is the transporter Quisling requesting clearance for departure."
Ensign Piancia answered. "Quisling, this flight operations, you are clear to depart. Traffic in the area is light. Mind how you go and safe travels."
"Thank you Vigilant, Quisling out." Captain Djarin closed the communication link to flight operations and brought the ship's repulsors online and brought her ship off the hangar deck. She maneuvered the nose of the YT-2660 until the hangar opening came into view, then gently she pushed the throttles forward and raised the ship's landing gear. Once clear of the mag-con forcefield, Djarin pushed the throttles fully open and sped away from the Vigilant and plotted a course that would take her back to her base were she intended to have a serious discussion about how she had been treated. With the course plotted, she activated the hyperdrive and jumped out of the system. The blue and white of hyperspace rolled around the cockpit, casting its light throughout the cockpit. She closed her eyes and settled back into the pilot's chair and let out a long sigh. This was not the outcome she had been hoping for.
"Hello Captain Djarin, or maybe I should say Vella Teague." A voice said.
Vella's eyes shot open. "Who the hell?" She quickly looked behind her, Vella's right hand dropping down to her waist and reaching for her blaster. There was no one there. She turned her head back towards the front of her ship and that was when she saw the active hologram. It was the Lieutenant, the one that Lt. Colonel Reynolds said had been killed on Elrood.
"This is just a courtesy call to let you know that the mission was a complete success." The hologram of Rogue said. "In fact it gave us better results than we thought possible, it gave us you! Didn't you wonder how I knew your name? You probably thought that Colonel Reynolds may have let it slip when he called us down for your briefing, but the truth is- I recognised you from back in my time as an Operative. Anyway, we've decided it's best for all concerned if you simply disappear due to the amount of damage you could potentially inflict if we turned you over to New Republic Intelligence. Normally I would say it's nothing personal, but I assure you that this is very personal and when you play this type of game, there's always the potential for consequences. This is yours." The hologram of Rogue vanished.
Vella pulled back on the throttle to bring her ship out of hyperspace, but nothing happened. She tried it again and still nothing happened. It was at this point she heard a high pitch noise coming from the rear of the ship. She turned her head to look back into the ship. The noise stopped. The YT-2660 reverted back to real space, and suddenly the cockpit was filled with a bright light. Vella quickly turned her head back to look out of the cockpit, her ship was heading straight towards a star and accelerating. Veela yanked back on the flight stick, nothing happened, she tried different directions becoming more frantic as her ship sped towards the star. Alarms started to sound as the heat levels started to rise rapidly, Vella slapped at her harness but nothing happened, the release mechanism no longer functioned. Smoke and sparks started to escape from the control panel in front of her as the ship started to become superheated. The cockpit canopy started to creak and crack as the gravity from the star started to impact the YT-2660's integrity. The heat in the cockpit became unbearable and Vella watched as she started to pyrolyse and cried out in agony. Her cries of anguish were short lived as her ship disintegrated around her before it was consumed by the star and all traces of Vella Teague and her ship vanished.
In the main medical bay on board the Vigilant. "The dressing that was originally applied has been most effective sir. There's a good chance that there will be no scarring due to this. Report back here tomorrow for a fresh dressing to be applied." The medical droid instructed Rogue as it finished applying a new bacta dressing on the knife wound to Rogue's left cheek.
"Thank you." Rogue acknowledged the droid. "So, what's your prognosis, princess?"
Lock placed both his hands behind his head as he lay in one of the beds in the medical bay. "Staying in overnight and getting kicked out tomorrow. Got a couple of cracked ribs as well."
"I see, so no cure for being terminally ugly though despite your best efforts to improve your looks!" Rogue poked fun at Lock.
Lock laughed but winced due to the damage his ribs had sustained. "Yeah but it could be worse buddy, at least I'm not ginger!"
"Yeah you got a point there mate." Rogue said with a smile. "You need anything?"
"No, I'm good thanks. Besides, as I said, I'll be out of here tomorrow so I'm just going to get some sleep." Lock replied.
"No worries mate, see you tomorrow." Rogue turned and left the medical bay and made his way back to his quarters. Once inside he sat on his bed and picked up his datapad and started recording a message to his wife, Cally. He was able to let Cally know what had gone on, that he'd met up with Beth and that she was expecting her fourth child, and various other things all without actually saying what had happened or saying names. It was something that they had both mastered a long time ago before either of them had defected from the Empire. He signed off by asking Cally how her transfer request was going, aiming to get herself reassigned to the Vigilant. By not saying anything obvious, if the message was ever intercepted it wouldn't give any useful information to the person reading it. He got himself changed into a fresh flight suit, this one had all the patches and rank markings on it that it should. He placed the used one back in the wardrobe. "I'll deal with you tomorrow," Rogue said as he closed the wardrobe.
He picked up his holstered DL-44's and slipped them over his arms, adjusted them and headed out of his quarters and made his way to the SSD. Iggy was behind the bar serving drinks as always. Rogue made his way over. "Pint of Lomin Ale please Iggy."
Iggy's turned towards Rogue. "Certainly, meatbag." The droid went away and collected a glass to pour in the Lomin Ale.
Rogue let out a sigh. "That kriffing droid is getting worse."
"Head's up meatbag!" Iggy said as he finished pouring the drink.
Rogue turned to see the glass of Lomin Ale sliding along the bar at speed towards him. "Druk!" His left hand went out and he managed to grab and bring the glass of Ale to a controlled stop with none of the contents being spilled.
Gremlin was sitting at a table with Rev, both of them had been watching and were laughing. "I thought he was going to lose half of it when Iggy shot it across the bar."
"I thought he wasn't going to even stop it in time." Rev said. "What's Rogue doing now?"
The two pilots watched as Rogue motioned Iggy to come over to him. They saw Rogue lean over and speak to the droid in a hushed voice for a few moments before he stood up straight again. Iggy shuffled back a few steps until he bumped into the back of the bar area.
"Of course Lieutenant, it won't happen again Lieutenant." Iggy said before moving away from Rogue.
Rogue turned and walked over to Gremlin and Rev and sat down in one of the empty chairs at the table and then took a long drink from his Lomin Ale, almost drinking half of it. "Damn that's needed."
It was Gremlin who spoke first. "What the hell happened to you?"
"Yeah you look like you've been kicked around by a Wookie." Rev added.
"Humph, just got into a disagreement with one of the instructors on my B-Wing conversion course." Rogue replied. "He said some things I disagreed with, I said some things he disagreed with, I convinced him I was right."
"What exactly did you disagree with him on?" Asked Gremlin.
"Basically that the B-Wing is a pile of Rancor druk and handles worse than an overweight Hutt, or something along those lines. For some reason he didn't see my point of view."
"So what happened after that?" Rev asked.
"Well." Rogue took another swig of his ale. "I was told that I wouldn't be invited back even when the instructor would be fit to fly again, so here I am!"
"You're going to be hauled up in front of the brass, Rogue" Gremlin said.
"You'd think that wouldn't you, but no, the guy's a kriffwit and has managed to upset quite a few people so the whole thing is being hushed up." Rogue said as he drank the remaining contents of his ale. "So anything happened here while I was away?" The three pilots talked for a good hour or so mostly the talk was about previous missions and battles before the three pilots headed off and made their way back to their quarters. Rogue flopped down onto his bed, picked up his data pad again, saw that the file on the other person he had asked Beth to put in the 'shredder'. Rogue's finger hovered over the file for a few seconds before he turned the pad off. He looked over at Shade who was plugged in to the droid charging port in the corner of the room. "I think I'll deal with that another time, little fella. Kill the lights please."
Shade gave a few whistles and beeps, the room was plunged into darkness.
Rogue was asleep on top of the bed sheets in less than a minute, still in his flight suit with his boots still on.
General Adlard surveyed the scene in front of her. The main Imperial base on Elrood was a disaster zone. There was wreckage, destroyed buildings, fires still burning, and bodies all over the place. She turned to the person standing on her left. "So tell me what you've managed to find out so far Colonel."
"Yes General." Colonel Gilmour replied. "All security footage has been destroyed. Not just during the attack, but completely. A sophisticated virus was somehow installed into the base's main system and has destroyed the whole network. Not even our best techs have been able to restore the most basic of systems and probably won't ever be able to. We have no way of ever retrieving this information it would appear. That's not the worst of it either Ma'am. It would appear that the virus has spread to the surrounding security systems and all their data and recordings has also been destroyed."
General Adlard shook her head. "Whoever this was has made sure that their tracks are nearly impossible for us to trace. Go on."
Colonel Gilmour looked down at his data pad before speaking. "From statements taken from the base survivors, the place was either assaulted by two individuals, a platoon of Rebel Commandos, a unit of Rebel Special Forces, a section of the garrisoned forces defecting, elements of the garrison trying to form their own Empire, or my favourite, a Jedi Knight!"
General Adlard snorted at the last comment. "What about casualties?"
Colonel Gilmour scrolled through the display on his data pad until he got to the information he needed. "At this moment in time we have fourteen hundred and sixty four dead with another two thousand and eleven wounded in various degrees of severity. That number is expected to change as bodies and wounded are still being recovered from the locations of the explosions and ATR attack."
"Any success in tracking the ATR?" General Adlard asked.
"Unfortunately not General. With the garrison systems destroyed and combat still happening at the time all we have is vague directions of travel, most of them contradicting each other." Colonel Gilmour stated.
"Assessment of this garrison- is it still viable?" General Adlard asked.
Colonel Gilmour deactivated his data pad and placed both hands behind his back. "This base is lost and so is our position here. We should consolidate our forces at the other base on Elrood. It will cost too much in resources to rebuild- something we no longer have in the same quantities that we used to."
"I thought as much Colonel, I just wanted it confirmed." General Adlard said. "Start making the necessary arrangements. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can put this debacle behind us."
"Right away, General. " Colonel Gilmour saluted, turned on his heel, heading away to carry out General Adlard's orders.
General Adlard looked around, taking in the devastation around her. Whoever had done this had managed to effectively take out an Imperial garrison at the worst possible time for the Empire. With the Emperor dead and the Empire now splintering in some parts as Admirals, Generals and Moffs grabbed power for themselves, the threat of the Empire had become diminished. To make matters worse, they would probably never know who carried out this attack, if they had been killed while carrying out their attack or managed to make their escape. This was what frustrated her the most, the not knowing and not being able to target whoever was responsible or know that those responsible had already been dealt with. That was the core issue. There was no one to direct her anger at either, because she simply did not know who had done this. It was no longer a case of simply saying the Rebels were to blame because right now parts of the Empire were tearing itself to pieces. This could have been what happened here and the thought of that was more terrifying than this being carried out by two people, or a Jedi. The last thought almost threatened to bring a laugh of irony to the surface but General Adlard suppressed it immediately. Another dark day for the Empire, General Adlard thought as she walked back towards the Lambda shuttle that had brought her here.