- Posted On: Feb 19 2022 6:52am
Gevel sat and listened to what Carden had to offer. He kept looking from him to the empty plates on the table.
“Churhee,” Gevel said. “Do me a favor please and take off your shirt.”
Churhee looked over to him and made sure he had asked what he thought he had. Then, he set his blaster aside, and took off his shirt.
To say Churhee worked out would be selling it short; this was a man that paid rent to a gym. He was focusing on adding muscles to places that a lot of people didn’t have places. And he was marked. A lot of his body, actually. There was a chevron straight out of the New Republic print shop, sitting on his shoulder like he were an X-Wing, freshly stamped. There were callsigns and slogans, names of absent friends… and then, across his back, a statement suggesting several sexual activities that former Emperor Daemon Hyfe might want to attempt performing on himself.
“You see,” Gevel said, “my new Empire is a melting pot. I don’t care if you flew for Rogue Squadron or fought for the 401st, everyone is welcome as long as they fall in line, and defend this galaxy.” There was an unspoken “from The Cree’Ar” there, that Gevel didn’t need to say. It echoed off the dust just the same. “When you sit down at a table with Theren Gevel, you can count on the fact that you get up and leave, unmolested, as much as it is within my power to ensure so.”
He pushed his chair back, and stood up. “Thank you, Mr. Churhee. Please put your shirt back on,” he said. He waited until Churhee did so. “If you could be so kind, I smelt some fresh food cooking as we walked here earlier. Can you follow your nose and find us something to eat? Not sure about the Ambassador…”
Gevel trailed off and Churhee asked, “Are you buying?”
Gevel softly nodded. “Given the risk Mr. Carden took on getting us here, it would seem rude not to.”
Churhee grabbed his discarded blaster and left in search of food. Gevel and Jaeder stayed. Gevel played with the button of his uniform. “The packages,” Gevel said.
Jaeder nodded and offered Gevel a manilla envelope, which the Emperor grabbed.
And hesitated. He turned from Carden to Jaeder. “Nothing from Cisero?”
Jaeder shook his head in the negative.
Gevel turned to Carden. “Ambassador, these documents are classified Imperial documents meant only for internal distribution and consideration,” he said, holding an envelope close. “These are for authorized personnel only. By taking custody of these documents, you agree not to attempt to decipher or decrypt any Imperial code, and instead to deliver these documents, as they are, to the targets indicated, with all due haste. Do you agree to these terms and conditions?”
The Ambassador considered it for a minute and then nodded his ascent.
“Alright,” Gevel said. “Desperate times,” he said in Jaeder’s direction. He nodded his agreement. “Alright, I want you to deliver this folder to every corner of the Empire. Every planet worth a damn. I don’t know who will do it, but I need someone to do it.”
Gevel set the folder down. Carden, maybe by forced habit, went to open it, and then thought better of it. Gevel chuckled. “I can see you’re curious,” he said. “Go ahead.”
Carden, encouraged, opened it. “Move the basket,” Carden read. “There is a leak. Move and advise. Top priority.” Carden looked at it and shrugged, confused. “I don’t understand.”
“Well it wasn’t written for you, you nosy git,” Gevel added. “Any Imperial with a rank equivalent to mine will know, and carry out those orders. Meanwhile, you can sit and scratch yourself in confusion as to who is taking a leak where.” Gevel handed Carden another folder. “That one is for Vladet.”
Carden opened it and then closed it disappointedly. “This one is in code,” he said.
“Yeah, get used to that…” Gevel said. “This one is for Onyx Prime…”
Ahnk was walking along, a blaster at his back, when he felt a comlink buzz.
He thought about keeping it quiet, when instead, she asked “What is with the buzz?”
So no reason to keep things quiet.
Ahnk intentionally made accidental contact with one of the waiters, and then sprung into action. He oversold the backpeddle until he bumped into the gun, and then quickly snapped back, twisting his elbow into her face. The elbow connected then Ahnk pivoted on the opposite food. He twisted and grabbed the drink tray, holding it in his hand and swinging it around as a projectile, smashing it into the face of the gunman.
She went down, and Ahnk finished his turn, grabbed the cocktail before it fell to the floor, and downed it.
The gunman started to stir. Couldn’t have that. Ahnk stepped forward and kicked her gun away, then leaned down, putting his knee in her shoulder. As he pushed down, he grabbed her wrist, causing her to groan in pain as he wrenched that shoulder. “No struggling,” he said, “only answers.”
“You want answers,” she said, spitting. “Talk to Gevel.”
That made Ahnk stop. “Gevel sent you?”
“He didn’t have to,” she said. “He gave the green light on you, and the Cree’Ar want force users bad,” she said.
“Pity they have no use for you,” Ahnk said, drawing his hand back, and hitting her at the base of the skull. Then, she collapsed to the floor with a sigh, her body going limp like so many others on the floor of nightclubs in Coruscant.
Ahnk got back to his feet and saw a pair of bouncers. “Oh, don’t worry,” he said, handing them the empty cocktail glass. “I’ll be going; two is my limit anyway.”
When he was back out in the plaza, he grabbed the comlink. “Sihoyguwa, do you have a way offworld for me?”
“Maybe,” it replied. “Are you drunk?”
“I can drive,” Ahnk said, “but I am hoping I don’t have to. What’s the news?”
“At 1900 local time tomorrow, at the Seven Spires Spaceport, Sector Esk, Zone Two, Level 214, there will be a human man wearing green shoes and a red hat. Approach him, and he will recognize you. This man will provide you with transport offworld,” a mechanical voice suggested to him. “Do not expect another opportunity from us.”
“Level 214? That is 60 levels down,” Ahnk said, and checked his comlink, “and it’s in twenty minutes. For fuck…” Ahnk said. Then he sighed. “Sihoyguwa, don’t say I never stuck my neck out for anyone.”
“What do you mean by that?”
But Sihoyguwa didn’t get an answer, as Ahnk took a short run and then leapt up and over the railing, falling through a spacelane.
As the ambassador leaned back from the table, he offered his thanks via nod to the Emperor of the New Order.
Gevel returned the nod and then turned back to Jaeder. “Do you think we can trust him?”
Gevel shook his head. “No,” he said, bluntly, “but trust is a luxury we may not be able to afford. I trust him to act in his own best interest.”
Jaeder nodded. “Good idea, making decoy packages,” the Supreme Commander confirmed. “Very shrewd.”
“I’ve heard some rumors that the Coalition has some sort of new supercomputer, capable of computing thousands of algorithms, solving complex, deeply rooted equations, and finding the G-spot on a woman,” he said. “How the fuck do you hope that thing can’t crack your codes?”
“Seems a horrifying prospect,” Jaeder concluded.
“So you treat it like a mushroom,” Gevel said, “you feed it shit and keep it in the dark.”
Jaeder nodded his approval. “Give it so much disinformation and contradictory information that by the time he figures out what is what, it doesn’t matter anymore,” he continued.
Gevel nodded. He leaned in closer. “Have you brought in the commander?”
Jaeder looked over to the entrance to the restaurant, where the troops were returning with a frail looking man. “That will be him,” Jaeder said.
“Mr. Ambassador, I hate to stop your dinner,” Gevel said, “but I wanted to introduce you to someone. This is Commander Askrimov, Imperial Engineering Corps.”
The man was frail looking. He held himself up on a steel walking support, and two stromtroopers helped him move on each side. “Hello, Mr. Carden,” he said, slowly. He coughed after he finished.
Gevel looked on. “Tell them what happened,” he said.
“When the Cree’Ar attacked, they struck a Reign-Class Star Destroyer,” he said. “That vessel lost it’s sublight drives, and listed. I recognized the danger, and quickly engaged the planetary shield in that section, diverting emergency energy,” he said.
Gevel nodded. “Tell them what happened next.” Askrimov looked hesitant but Gevel nodded to reassure him. “It’s alright. This is what we agreed.”
Askrimov nodded. “The vessel impacted the shield, and it overloaded,” he said. “There was a… burst of radiation.”
“In that moment, Commander Askrimov absorbed enough radiation to kill him, five times over,” Gevel explained. “He is dying; it is irreversible. And from what I understand, incredibly painful.”
Askrimov nodded again. “Every time I pee, it’s full of blood,” he said. Then he coughed. “I am in constant agony. I just want my life to end.”
“Unfortunately, it’s going to need to get worse before it ends,” Gevel said. He started walking towards Askrimov.
Churhee eyed him and raised his blaster. “Gevel, what are you doing?”
“What needs to be done,” Gevel said. He stepped behind Askrimov. “Tell him.”
“I want to die,” Askrimov said. “Every second I am alive is just more physical torture as my insides liquify. Please… let me die.”
Churhee looked at him, conflicted, but did lower his blaster.
“First of all, I want to thank you for your service to the Empire,” Gevel said. “As a second matter, and a point of order, I would like Supreme Commander Jaeder to offer his ascent for a field commission to Captain, for Commander Askrimov, with all the privileges and responsibilities, that that rank affords.”
“I do so record, and offer ascent, to such a promotion,” Jaeder said, offering a verbal rubber stamp.
“Thank you,” Gevel said. Then, he reached out, and pushed a small knife into the man’s neck. Everyone watched, as Gevel moved his hand, slowly carving. When he was done, he pulled up his hand, and tossed a small object, a metal rectangle about an inch long, onto the ground, still dripping blood. “I’m sorry for this, Captain.”
Then Askrimov shouted. His body jerked forward, and then to the side, collapsing to one knee. Churhee went to prop him up, and then stopped. He saw the man’s face. He was smiling.
His body fell to the ground. Gevel knelt down, checked his pulse, and then reached down and closed the man’s eyes. “Each and every single Imperial, who was on Coruscant when the siege began, who was taken as a prisoner of war, processed in an Imperial hospital, or just otherwise had contact with the Cree’Ar, has one of those in the base of his neck,” Gevel explained. He reached out, grabbed it, and tossed it on the table, beside the Ambassador’s plate. “If it’s removed, or the officer in question is removed from Coruscant, they have a heart attack, and die.”
Gevel got up. Jaeder, meanwhile, turned, and raised his hair, showing the implant scar on his neck.
“That includes,” Gevel said, “myself, and Jaeder. So hopefully, that is evidence enough, that we have proverbial skin in the game.”
Gevel looked down the corpse of Askrimov, still warm. “And if that doesn’t buy us any trust, I don’t know what to tell you.”
Jaeder raised a comlink to his hand. “Point of order; Captain Askrimov to be buried in a ceremony befitting an Imperial Captain. He is to be paid the full pension, and 3 months wages, at the salary of an Imperial Captain. Note to self; draft a letter for his wife.”
Gevel then sat down, tired. “We’re in this together, like it or not,” Gevel said, to Carden.
With the deadline approaching, Ahnk made it to the indicated coordinates.
His method was somewhat unconventional, and allowed him to slip down behind the man he was suppose to recognize. “Is this recognition?” Ahnk said, as he put one hand on the top of the man’s head, and put a lightsaber up to his neck. “I would say you’ve been made, fair to say?”
Ahnk then let the man go, and pointed the saber at him very loosely. “Now, normally I’d want to trade on my strength; I’d take you out of position and unaware, maybe trade up the ladder until I found someone worth talking to. Because my guess is, you’re a nobody. They paid some homeless guy to wander a park with green shoes and a red hat on.”
Ahnk sighed. “But I’m tired, it’s been a long day, I’m drunk, and the stakes are too damned high, so I don’t want to trade up, and spend the time, I just want some guarantees,” Ahnk said.
“I want a guarantee from your government that you aren’t going to turn around immediately and give me to The Cree’Ar Dominion,” Ahnk said. “I want guaranteed safe passage off the planet, and into space.”
Ahnk then lowered the saber a bit. “And I want your guarantee, you’re willing to fly me into the heart of The Dominion in this galaxy.”