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The Old Guard

By Wildcard

Word Count: 1035

[Nar Shaddaa; 12 hours ABY]

The Pau'an sitting at the end of the bar sought the answers to his troubles at the bottom of his dragonjuice. He swirled the liquid around in its glass, before draining it and gesturing absently to the barman for another. Once, Zylvan Zun had been a great revolutionary; a leader looked to in times of darkness; a man to admire. They had called him Sentinel: the man who watched over those in the galaxy who could not fight for themselves. Once, he had told those who followed him that the darkness would not prevail, would not triumph...

...That had been a long time ago, and the darkness had settled like dust in a dead man's abode. He had fought for so many years. Firstly alongside Chancellor Palpatine's clone army against the droid army of General Grievous, and then alongside nobody but his small band of followers against the clone army of Emperor Palpatine. Too many old friends had died, the fight was an uphill battle that got steeper every day. His planet had been occupied, and many of his people suffered. Suffering that was made worse by Imperial reprisals each time his increasingly diminutive cell struck a blow. Eventually, he felt it was time to give it up in hopes of easing the suffering of his people.

A new glass of dragonjuice was placed in front of Zun. As he raised it to take a sip, he could, for a moment, see his own face. Weary, pallid, finished. At the other end of the cantina, there was a hiss as the door opened, letting in a cold draft and the sound of speeders racing by. In the dull light of the doorway, he recognised the silhouette of a Bothan.

The Bothan sauntered slowly in, taking in his surroundings - that is, all three patrons scattered singularly throughout the premises. The man walked up to the bar and slid the barman a credit chit, saying nothing. He was presented with a red concoction served in an elaborate glass that seemed to smoke from the brim. The two men finished their drinks quietly, before the Bothan broke the silence.

"A moment of your time, stranger?" he said, eyeing Zun, who was, in his half-drunken state, stuck for a response.

"Hrm... do I owe you money?" he asked, slurring his words.

"I don't need your money."

"Well whaddya need?" said Zun, impatience in his voice.

"I need to speak with you in the booth for just a moment, if you don't mind."

Zun sighed, picking up his drink and stumbling his way to the corner booth. He sat down on the worn leather couch, and the Bothan followed him.

"Thank you, Lieutenant Zun. I'll get—"

Zun sat up straight now, panickedly checking to make sure they had not been overheard. "Have some discretion, will you?!"

"My apologies, but it is imperative that I make no mistake in confirming your identity. I have the right man, don't I?"

"You do," said Zun, wondering how disappointed the man must have been, "and I haven't even asked your name."

"You need only call me V. I do hate to be so rude, but it is a matter of security, I'm sure you understand."

"All too well, V. Now, can I ask what exactly is going on here? I can be of no help. I left the fight a long time ago."

"This is what I wanted to discuss: your rejoining the fight."

"No." Zun grumbled, shaking his head adamantly. Bad memories he'd been attempting to drown out with drink for years began to creep back into his mind's eye. He hurriedly took a long draught of his alcohol in an attempt to dull the edge.

"Zun. Listen to me first, and then give me your answer. Deal?"

"Deal," he replied dejectedly.

V removed a datapad from his coat pocket, which displayed some kind of encoded message. "I won't mince my words. For years, the Empire has been tucking away resources to develop a battle station, one capable of destroying an entire planet. They used it to destroy Alderaan, the whole planet is just... gone. We were transmitted this information from one of our relays on Toprawa, it included a detailed schematic of the battle station and its weaknesses."

"Who's "we"?" asked Zun.

"The network of Bothan spies within the Rebel Alliance."

Zun set down his drink. He had begun to tremble. The very idea of a weapon that could annihilate entire planets was a horror beyond imagination. Mixed with the news that there was an organised Rebel force, it was a lot to take in.

"There's an alliance...?"

"There is," said V, wearing a serious expression, "and earlier this morning the Alliance carried out an attack upon this battle station, known as the Death Star. After stealing the datacards with the plans, our forces were followed back to Yavin, which the station was set to destroy. Our side sent up thirty fighters and blew that thing into oblivion. The Rebellion's certainly made some developments since you left, old boy."

Zun had been sobered by the conversation. Things were changing, the fight was leveling out. It had taken years, but the galaxy was answering its call to arms.

"The Empire is staggering, but if we don't take advantage of that, once they regain their footing, we may never have a chance to topple them again. I've heard the stories, Sentinel. You're the kind of leader we need, and I want you to come with me."

In only a few moments, everything Sentinel thought he had left behind had come rushing back to him. And this time, rather than immediately reach for a bottle to dull the pain, he let it come with the hungry eyes of a hunter eyeing prey. His heart burned with the righteous flames of justice, the desire to set everything right in the universe or die trying. There were almost certainly many more things that V had planned to say, but he could see in Sentinel's eyes that he needed no convincing.

"Let's go," Zun said, finishing his last drink and standing up. "We haven't a moment to lose."

The End