Title: False Truths - Updated 12/10
Description: The Rogues Go to Ralltiir
Jesina Dreis - March 8, 2005 02:31 PM (GMT)
Title: False Truths
Timeframe: approximately 14 years after ANH
(yes, like virtually everything else I write)
Characters: Rogues, OCs
Genre: Action, Drama, slight AU
Summary: The Rogues' newest assignment intertwines with Hobbie Klivian’s life before the Alliance when they are sent on a mission that throws them in with Intelligence.
Note: This story is completely independent of my Jesina series. Completely.
Note: I will add characters as they are introduced, if necessary.
General Wedge Antilles - Human male from Corellia
Colonel Tycho Celchu - Human male from Alderaan
Captain Alar Tre’fel - Bothan male from Bothawui
Lieutenant Karin Vev - Human female from Commenor
Major Wes Janson - Human male from Taanab
Major Derek “Hobbie” Klivian - Human male from Ralltiir
Lieutenant Kalara Sko - Twi'lek female from Ryloth
Captain Myn Donos - Human male from Corellia
Commander Corran Horn - Human male from Corellia
Captain Ooryl Qrygg - Gand male from Gand
Captain Inyri Forge - Human female from Kessel
Captain Gavin Darklighter - Human male from Tatooine
New Republic Intelligence
Major Lana Tierney - Human female from Ralltiir
Agent Garv Landis - Human male from Coruscant
Karl Desaten - President - Human male from Ralltiir
Ana Janik - Minister of Galactic Affairs - Human female from Ralltiir
Alek Cesra - Minister of Domestic Affairs - Human male from Ralltiir
Other Characters of Note
Alisse Cesra - Human female from Ralltiir
Disclaimer for SweetPea:
General Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any health problems developed by readers as a result of this story. By clicking, readers agree to accept risks to their person.
Jesina Dreis - March 8, 2005 02:32 PM (GMT)
Hobbie looked over the woman standing before the Rogues. Mid-thirties, auburn hair, blue eyes – she might be attractive if she actually smiled. Apparently, she’d caught Janson’s interest. He was making eyes at the NRI agent Cracken had sent over while Wedge and Tycho tried not to laugh at him – and Inyri stood behind him snickering silently.
The agent cleared her throat, narrowing her eyes at Wes, who squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. “My name is Lana Tierney. I’m a Major in New Republic Intelligence, where I’ve been since it was Alliance Intelligence. I was one of few Alliance personnel who escaped the assault on Ralltiir just before the battle at Yavin. And I know as much, if not more, about you than you do yourselves.” She turned her attention to Wes. “For example, Major Janson, the woman you had dinner with last night won’t be seeing you again.”
Red-faced, Janson slouched down in his seat as half of the Rogues burst into laughter and the other half watched her with some concern. Hobbie was torn between both. He enjoyed seeing Wes get rejected from time to time – usually the man deserved it – and the fact that this rejection was delivered through a third party made it that much more entertaining. But the fact that she’d mentioned his home world had piqued his interest. He settled for smirking in Janson’s general direction, but kept his eyes fixed on the woman at the front of the room.
He’d been sympathetic to the Alliance even as a teenager on Ralltiir, before he’d left for the Academy, though he’d rarely voiced his thoughts on the matter. That was a good way to get shot, and he wasn’t too keen on that idea. He hadn’t known any other Rebel sympathizers, though he’d known more than one person who strongly supported the Empire.
“I’m sure that you were all thrilled to hear that one of General Cracken’s people was going to address you about a mission.”
Thrilled is hardly the word I would have used, Hobbie thought to himself. More like…concerned, alarmed, terrified….
“The reason for that,” she went on, “is that you’re being loaned to Intelligence.”
The relative quiet that had reigned over the room ended at that moment. Hobbie kept his mouth shut, but he could completely understand why the others weren’t. Working with Cracken is bad enough…never mind working for him. He heard Janson exclaim, “Wedge, have you forgotten what happened the last time we worked for Cracken?”
Hobbie saw Wedge’s mouth move but couldn’t really hear the words. Apparently, Wedge realized he wasn’t getting across to them because the next thing he heard was, “Attention!”
Instantly, the room fell silent – though the silence lasted only seconds. It was broken when Janson’s chair, teetering out of Wes’ rush to salute their CO, finally succumbed to gravity and hit the floor with a crash. Wedge shook his head, returned the salute, and motioned for them to sit down again.
“I have my reasons for agreeing to this,” he said, focusing on each pilot in turn. “I’m not going to go over them at this point; I’m going to trust you all to trust me. If any of you have a problem with that, take it up with me personally. And kindly allow Major Tierney to brief you.”
Hobbie was surprised at that. Wedge didn’t pull rank like that very often – he was usually fairly open with the squadron. He couldn’t help but wonder what was different about this.
“Your assignment involves a trip to Ralltiir, my home world. There is a lab there that was mostly destroyed when the Empire…took out its aggression on the planet. We know where it is – just north of the capital city of Cambrielle. The problem lies in getting inside it. Recently, a highly placed minister in the Secretariat – the current, New Republic aligned government on the planet – has ordered it to be guarded, refusing to allow our personnel inside. He’s acting within his jurisdiction and the planetary president has elected not to get involved, especially considering we can’t say why we want to get inside.”
“Why do you?” Hobbie asked. This was his world, after all, even if he hadn’t been back in over a decade. “What’s there?”
She looked at him and tilted her head slightly to one side. Glancing back at Wedge for a second before returning her gaze to him she said, “Datacards. The information that they contain we can’t discuss, but it pertains to other…operations…that we’re conducting at this point in time.”
“Why us?” Inyri asked. “Why don’t you use your own people?”
“Yeah,” Wes said. “What about the Wraiths?”
“The Wraiths would be perfect,” Tierney replied. “Unfortunately, they are otherwise disposed at the moment. And we need people who can transport themselves on and off the planet – individually, if necessary – but who we know we can trust for such a delicate assignment. You’ve done good work for Intelligence in the past, and such activities as your roles in taking Coruscant speak highly of you.”
“Does this information involve Ralltiir?” Hobbie asked.
She looked a little annoyed. “That’s none of your concern.”
He opened his mouth to reply but saw Wedge shake his head and shut it. He didn’t like this.
“How are we getting on the planet?” Corran Horn asked.
“That information will be discussed in individual briefings at a later point in time,” she said curtly.
“How do you know the information is even there?” Hobbie asked. “Ralltiir was leveled fourteen years ago and the Rebel factions weren’t entirely successful in holding off the Imperials. A number of the planetary leaders and Alliance personnel were executed, as you mentioned. You said the lab itself was mostly destroyed. How do you know that the information actually is there and intact?”
“It was an Imperial facility,” she replied testily. “Not something that they would have intentionally destroyed. They attempted to evacuate it but were halted in their efforts by a Rebel team. It was sealed at that time and hasn’t been entered since.”
“How do you know the minister there hasn’t been inside? He’s clearly displaying an interest in it,” he persisted, not caring that all eyes were on him. This was his home they were talking about, and something felt wrong to him about this whole thing.
“We just know. I can’t tell you any more than that.” Her lips were set in a thin line and her eyes were narrowed almost to slits.
Catching sight of Wedge’s glare, Hobbie elected not to say any more. If he wanted to find out more about what was going on, getting everyone angry at him probably wasn’t the way to go.
“Now, we also need to find out why the minister – whose name you do not need to know at this juncture,” she added, glancing toward Hobbie as if she expected him to argue, “has taken a sudden interest in this facility. My people have been working on that but have, as yet, been unable to learn anything of value. That also falls within your mission parameters.”
Then, abruptly, she drew the meeting to a close. “That’s all for now. You’ll be told more individually, as your specific assignments warrant. Your commanding officer has the information pertaining to your cover identities, and you can rest assured that I will see you all again – several more times, most likely. Good day.”
* * * * * * * *
Lana set a brisk pace as she walked down the back corridor away from Rogue Squadron’s briefing room. All in all, that had gone rather well, with the exception of one potentially major complication in the form of one Derek Klivian.
Her assignment for the last month had been to monitor the activities of everyone in the squadron to best decide how to use them in this mission. She had to admit, sending one of her agents to get a feel for Major Janson had been entertaining. But nothing in what she’d learned about Klivian had suggested that he’d be nearly as persistent as he’d proven to be. Just the same, she knew enough about him – about who he’d once been – to not be surprised by his behavior.
She hoped Antilles could get him to settle down and go along for the ride. She had her old debts – that much was true. But this was her job and if he were to put himself in a position to jeopardize this mission, well, her job came before any debt she owed – no matter how old or dear to her heart.
Of course, if Antilles did his job and reined the man in, she wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of Klivian at all.
In the meantime, she’d have to keep an eye on him – especially when he found out who the minister was. She began to mentally rewrite the plans she’d made for conducting this mission.
* * * * * * * *
Wedge grabbed Hobbie – literally – as the Ralltiirian walked out of the briefing room. “My office, now,” he hissed.
He could feel the man tense and released his arm. Walking briskly to his office, he tried to think of a way to get through to Hobbie that he had to back off. When nothing came to mind, he elected to fall back on the fact that he was, after all, the squadron’s commanding officer.
Once they were inside his office with the door closed, he didn’t wait for Hobbie to speak. “Back off. From this point on, you only ask questions specific to what you are doing. Nothing general, nothing about why we’re doing this or what they’re looking for.”
“Wedge, you can’t expect me to not want to know what’s going on! We’re going to my home world! You wouldn’t just sit there and take ‘we can’t tell you’ for an answer if we were going to Corellia!”
Wedge sighed. Hobbie was right. He really was. But this…he was going to get himself into serious trouble if he kept it up. “You’re probably right,” he admitted.
“Probably?” Hobbie stared at him. “You know I’m right!”
“Okay, you’re right,” Wedge admitted. “I’ll give you that. But there’s a lot you don’t know. And I can’t answer your questions. You have to trust me on this. Back. Off.”
Hobbie stared him straight in the eye for a moment before spinning on his heel, slapping at the door and storming out of the office.
djcati - March 8, 2005 03:15 PM (GMT)
I haven't read any of this on TFN yet, cause 30+ pages scare me... but I should...
Or, I'll read it here as you post it!
Cause OMGHOBBIE <3
Jesina Dreis - March 14, 2005 08:08 PM (GMT)
Actually, it's, um, at 44 pages....
You can read it as I post here though. :D
Jesina Dreis - March 14, 2005 08:09 PM (GMT)
Hobbie sat down at the desk in his living room and logged on to the New Republic’s restricted database. Because of his position in Rogue Squadron he had access to information that the general population didn’t have – not that he needed it for this. All he was interested in – at this point, at least – was Ralltiir’s governmental structure, and that was public knowledge. Bringing up his planet’s profile, he went to the page that listed the makeup of the current Secretariat. Scanning down the list of names, he saw several that he recognized, most because they’d been politicians even when he’d last been on the planet. Of all of the names, though, there were only three that he really felt a need to pay close attention to.
The current President, Karl Desaten had been a minor politician back when he’d left Ralltiir. Desaten had been ambitious and an avid public supporter of the Empire, but in fact he’d gone to great lengths to aid the Rebel cells in their efforts. Hobbie had seen his name pop up here and there over the years and wasn’t surprised to see that he’d attained such high office. He was surprised, however, that he wasn’t cooperating with the New Republic on whatever was going on. He made a mental note to see what he could find out about him once they reached Ralltiir.
The next was the Minister of Galactic Affairs – a fancy title for the Ambassador to the New Republic, it seemed. Ana Janik had been a friend of his older sister. He remembered taking her to the spaceport after the fever epidemic. She’d hated the Empire after that; she was convinced that they could have saved more lives had they taken a more active role in combating the outbreak. At seventeen, he hadn’t been sure what more they could have done. But now, having lived through most of the war, having seen planets raised and half of Coruscant suffering from the Krytos Virus, he knew better. He wasn’t surprised to see her in such a position, either, even though it meant she’d returned to a world she’d never wanted to see again.
The name that meant the most to him, however, belonged to the Minister of Domestic Affairs. Alek Cesra had been a good friend of his growing up – their parents had been friends even before the two boys were born. When the fever had claimed his parents and sister, and Alek’s older brother – his guardian at the time – they’d supported each other through it. He’d lost track of the other man after he left for the Academy and had regretted it, but had never had the opportunity to repair the damage.
That Alek was now so highly placed surprised him, and he opened the file on his old friend. From the looks of it, he’d started his climb right after Yavin, helping out in the efforts to rebuild the planet once it had been liberated and was receiving aid from the New Republic. He wondered idly what had caused his friend to choose such a direction for his life. Maybe, like Ana, he’d blamed the Empire for the thousands of lives the fever had claimed.
Hobbie pushed the datapad aside and rubbed at his eyes. He felt strange doing this research. Normally, he’d have just sat back and gone along with whatever he was told. But this wasn’t a normal mission. This was about his planet, and he’d been told to stay out of it.
So, naturally, that was the last thing he wanted to do.
* * * * * * * *
Wedge punched the button on the comm unit. That woman was infuriating!
Lana Tierney had called to inform him that the Rogues’ cover identities were changing. Hobbie was supposed to have been paired with Karin, Rogue 4, and the two were going to pose as newlyweds on holiday. However, Tierney had just decided that she was going to go in Karin’s place, and Karin would now be with Janson and Corran.
Tierney had made it clear that she viewed Hobbie as a threat to this mission, and no amount of arguing on his part would change her mind. It unnerved him that she felt the need to watch over Hobbie like this. Sure, the man had asked a lot of questions. That was natural – they were about to go to his home world. But asking questions in briefing, as stubborn as he’d been in doing it, was a far cry from endangering himself or anyone else on a mission.
He called Tycho into the office. The Alderaanian was fairly levelheaded. Maybe he could make this all seem better than it actually was.
Wedge shook his head. Who was he kidding? This mission had disaster written all over it.
“What do you need?” Tycho asked as he walked into the office.
“To do this over,” he replied. “I shouldn’t have agreed to it.” He was regretting not talking to Tycho before accepting the mission. And even after accepting it, when he’d discussed the pilots’ cover identities with his XO, he hadn’t said much else – not that he knew a whole lot, but still….
Tycho sat down and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees. “Why did you?”
“Because Leia asked me to herself. I don’t even know what this is really all about. I just know she thinks it’s important.”
“Why did you come down so hard on Hobbie?” Tycho asked.
“Because I’d rather not see him get himself killed,” Wedge replied tiredly, and Tycho’s eyes went wide.
“What?” He straightened up slightly.
“All I really know,” Wedge said, leaning forward and resting an elbow on the desk, “is that they think this is important enough that they won’t let anyone find out what’s going on. Part of that woman’s job is, as she just so politely told me, to make sure no one asks too many questions – through whatever means necessary.”
Tycho looked concerned. “You don’t think she’d…”
Wedge sighed. “I don’t know. I’d rather not find out, though.”
“Hobbie’s not going to back off,” Tycho pointed out.
“He’s not going to have a choice,” Wedge replied, his frown deepening. “I just spoke to Tierney. She’s changing the covers – she’s going with Hobbie.”
“He’s gonna be thrilled. When you telling him?”
“When he gets here.”
Tycho got a faraway look in his eyes that concerned Wedge. “Hobbie really thinks that there’s something going on that he should know about, doesn’t he?”
“I can’t say I blame him,” Wedge admitted, nodding. He thought back to the conversation they’d had yesterday. “I’d feel the same way if it were Corellia. But he needs to play by NRI’s rules.”
“And if he’s right?” Tycho asked.
Wedge shook his head. “I don’ t know.”
Tycho fell silent again for a moment, eyes focused on the floor. “And if this turns into another Adumar?” he asked.
Wedge drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. “You mean with Intel stabbing us in the back?” He didn’t see Ralltiir disintegrating into civil war. It was, he supposed, possible that the Ralltiiri government might see fit to come after them if they learned of their activities though.
The truth was, he hadn’t thought about that. He didn’t really want to, either. “I’m going to make sure everyone has a way to contact the others. They don’t have to know their covers, but they need to be able to reach each other if necessary.”
“Tierney won’t agree to that,” Tycho pointed out.
Wedge shrugged. “She doesn’t have to know.”
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie kept his face carefully blank as he walked into Wedge’s office. “What did you need?”
“Close the door.”
Uh-oh. Hobbie did as he asked and then sat down in the chair nearest the door. “What’s going on?”
“You’ll be briefed on your cover identity later, but I wanted to let you know something in advance. For this assignment, you’re actually going to be partnered with Tierney.”
Yeah, uh-oh had been an appropriate reaction. “Why?” he asked, even though he knew the answer.
“She thinks you’re a danger to the mission. She’s afraid you’re going to ask the wrong questions and get yourself caught.”
Hobbie bristled. “I’m not stupid, Wedge. I asked questions in briefing – that’s what we’re supposed to do!”
Wedge gave a long-suffering sigh. “I know, Hobbie. But…like I said, there’s a lot that you don’t know here. There’s a lot that I don’t know. But Leia is the one who came to me with this. She’s the reason I agreed, and I trust her more than just about anyone. Try to go along with it.”
“We don’t have a choice in this, Hobbie. NRI is making the rules, and if you don’t follow them, you’re going to get yourself killed.”
“The last time we followed NRI’s rules we almost got killed anyway,” Hobbie shot back.
“Listen to me!” Wedge exclaimed. “Tierney has been authorized to use whatever methods necessary to keep this mission from being exposed. That includes a blaster bolt to the back of your head if you get out of line.”
Hobbie froze. Wedge couldn’t be serious…could he? Surely they wouldn’t… He shook his head. “Fine. I’ll be careful.”
“Just do your job, Hobbie,” his CO said warningly. “Don’t ask questions; don’t try to find out what’s going on. Do your job, and nothing more.”
* * * * * * * *
Lana sat in front of her computer, studying the list of files that Klivian had accessed the previous night. She noted at least seven names he should have recognized, and saw with interest that he’d reviewed the files of the three who were most important to this mission. Maybe she’d underestimated him.
Yes, she decided. She had underestimated him. Mentally, she upgraded him from the potential problem she’d categorized him as yesterday to a definite threat. She needed to watch him closely.
She stood and walked over to the bed, where her suitcase lay open. She removed the clothes she’d packed so far, and then walked to the chest of drawers against the opposite wall. Kneeling down, she opened the bottom drawer and drew out a small box. She opened it and examined the contents to make sure it had everything she needed.
Four small tracking devices, each the size of a button and with built in microphones. She expected she’d need more than just these four, but she could get more from her agents on Ralltiir. Bugs for each of the rooms, in case the Rogues managed to find the ones that her people had installed in preparation for their arrival. The receiver that would enable her to review any conversations the pilots had over their comlinks.
Yes, everything was there.
She stood and returned to the bed, setting the communications kit next to her suitcase, and opened the case’s false bottom. Then she slipped the equipment inside and closed the compartment. Replacing the clothing she’d removed a few minutes ago, she let her mind wander back to Hobbie.
Lana shook her head. Klivian. Not Hobbie. That would be a mistake. She couldn’t let herself think of him on a first name basis.
It would make it far more difficult to deal with him if the need arose.
She amended that thought. It was already looking more like “when” than “if.”
Jesina Dreis - April 5, 2005 06:32 PM (GMT)
Wedge blinked against the bright sunlight as he walked out of the spaceport on Ralltiir. He put his hand on the small of Inyri’s back, keeping her close to him.
The “couple” had made it through customs with little difficulty, and he had to admit that he found their disguises mildly amusing. He now had gray hair, about thirty extra kilos packed on, and better clothes than he’d ever owned – or wanted to own – in his life. It was all befitting the character he’d taken on, a wealthy businessman from Commenor off on a “business trip” with his much younger secretary.
As usual with these missions, his face had been of greatest concern. Temporary cheek implants, gray lenses to disguise his eye color, and a lot of makeup had taken care of that. The disguise wouldn’t have gotten him onto Coruscant during the days of Imperial control, but it was good enough for this assignment.
He glanced at Inyri, remembering the expression on her face when she’d seen what she was expected to wear. A low-cut, strapless top that showed off her stomach – she’d made some crack about being glad she worked out regularly – and a skirt that just barely covered her rear end. Added to that were boots that nearly reached her thighs and about fifty bracelets on each arm.
Her hair had been dyed red and run through with streaks of blonde, and Wedge was fairly certain that there was more makeup on her face than on his. Hers was just of the multi-colored variety. The sunshades she was wearing hid her eyes and helped make her unrecognizable.
The look on the customs officer’s face when Wedge had told him that they were there on business had been priceless. The man had stared at Wedge for a long moment, looked Inyri up and down, looked at Wedge, looked back at Inyri, and then said simply, “Yes, of course.” Inyri had scowled the entire time, and Wedge had fought to hold back his laughter.
Now, though, they were out looking for their ride to the hotel that would be their base of operations. He sighed as he looked at the endless line of speeders. All of the ones near them were drivers looking for fares. They’d been told that there would be a chartered vehicle waiting for them. He moved his hand to Inyri’s elbow and did his best to skirt the crowd.
As they walked, he heard a voice calling his name. Well, not his name, but his cover name. “Mr. Aaltak! Over here, sir.”
Inyri tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the speeder three up from them. “Over there.”
He waved to the man and quickened his pace but stopped when she jerked him back. “Slow down! I can barely walk in this thing.”
He glanced over at her and almost laughed as she struggled to keep her skirt where it was supposed to be. “I’m gonna end up getting arrested for indecent exposure,” she muttered under her breath, stumbling a little, unused to wearing such high heels.
Wedge thought about making a joke but decided he’d probably end up getting hit for his effort, so he kept his mouth shut. As it turned out, it was the driver, presumably their contact though Wedge wasn’t quite sure, who put himself in the line of fire. “Did the lady have a bit to drink on the trip, sir?” the man asked.
Inyri jerked her head in his direction and Wedge tightened his grip on her elbow. “Play along,” he murmured. If this was their contact, it actually made sense for him to say that. Inyri’s cover, Tiera Kalar, was supposed to be accustomed to dressing in that manner; she would not have had trouble walking. To the driver he replied, “I admit, we both took rather liberal advantage of the free drinks.”
The man nodded and held out his arm to Inyri. “Might I help you into the speeder, ma’am?”
She shook her head stubbornly. “I can manage by myself,” she replied haughtily, stepping into the vehicle and looking grateful for the chance to sit down.
“As you wish,” he replied and turned to Wedge. “Sir, I am Garv Landis, and I have been engaged to attend to your needs on this trip. If anything is not to your liking, tell me right away and it will be taken care of.”
Wedge shook his hand. “I’m sure everything will be quite satisfactory,” he answered, sliding in through the open door.
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie looked around the hotel room he and Lana would be sharing. “At least it’s a suite,” he muttered under his breath. That meant he might not have to spend EVERY waking moment in her company. Force knew he’d never be out of her sight outside the hotel.
Or, according to their covers, she’d never be out of his sight. Tierney was supposed to be Resa Elbex, the daughter of a politician from an Outer Rim world that Hobbie had never even heard of before. He was her bodyguard, Tem Bissen, a position that he found ironic since it was quite possible that she’d be trying to kill him by the end of this mission.
He checked out all the rooms, choosing the smaller for himself. A balcony ran the length of the room and he thought it might provide a necessary escape route somewhere down the road. Leaving his suitcase on the bed, he stopped to look in the mirror on the way out.
Tierney herself had done the harder parts of his disguise – the makeup and hair color – an experience he had no desire to relive, though he knew he would over the course of this assignment, several times more than likely. He was dressed all in black and the three blasters she’d told him to carry at all times were likewise dark in color. One was readily visible, in a belt holster that he was accustomed to. The other two were in shoulder holsters under the jacket he wore. The clothes were fancy, but comfortable, and he was grateful for that. He was, however, surprised she was letting him carry any sort of weapon. He wondered idly if she’d rigged one of them to self-destruct.
He headed back into the sitting room. “What do we do now?” he called.
“Nothing until the party tonight. You’ll be acting as my escort, of course. Most of the others will be there,” she replied from her own room.
“I take it this room is clean?” he said softly, walking into the other bedroom.
She turned, holding a dress in one hand and a pair of shoes in the other. “Yes, it is. We’ve had people here for a while – they’re the ones who arranged the rooms, transportation, etcetera. Rooms, vehicles – everything will be watched anytime it’s not in use for more than a minute or two.”
“If you have people here, why do you need us?”
“The people already in place on Ralltiir have set identities that they’ve cultivated for some time. They’re our regular operatives, monitors in a way. We need them where they are, and extensive involvement in ad extraneous missions would endanger their positions here.”
He was quiet for a moment, filing that information away for future use. He was surprised she’d told him that much. He’d expected her to say ‘Because we do’ or something equally vague and noncommittal. Maybe she’d start to trust him after all.
* * * * * * * *
“How do you want to do this?” Corran asked, referring to the room situation for him, Wes, and Karin. They’d been given a suite with two bedrooms. The desk clerk had apologized profusely for the room shortage – apparently, they were supposed to have been assigned an adjacent room but the hotel had double booked, so the three of them were sharing the suite as brothers and sister.
“You take one room,” Wes said, and Corran knew what the next words out of his mouth would be before he even said them, “and Karin and I can share the other.”
The blonde-turned-brunette fixed him with a glare. “Yeah, that sounds great. You can sleep on the balcony.”
Corran snickered and Wes looked properly abashed – for a moment anyway. “Karin,” Corran said, “you take one room. Wes, you and I can take turns on the couch.”
“I can trade off, too,” she pointed out defensively.
Corran sighed. Karin had been with Commenor’s special forces before she’d decided she wanted to spend time in space rather than on the ground. She was nice enough, but sometimes he wondered if she deliberately took everything the wrong way. No matter what any of the men in the squadron did, she twisted it around like they thought that, because she was a woman, she was weaker or frailer or less capable than they were. He understood that her reaction was probably owed to her time in the military on Commenor – it was still a male-dominated force – but sometimes he felt like the only reason she’d wanted to fly was so she could say that she could. Not that she hadn’t earned her place in the squadron, but…. “Fine,” he said. “We’ll all take shifts. Karin, you get the couch tonight.”
Wes smirked and Karin glared at them both in turn. “Fine,” she echoed, folding her arms as she dropped onto the sofa.
Corran sighed. This was going to be a long mission. “What’s on for tonight?” he asked.
“A party downstairs,” Karin replied, still pouting. “The desk clerk said that we could get in for free since they screwed up our rooms. We might as well have some fun on NRI.”
Wes grinned. “I knew I liked you for a reason.”
Corran rolled his eyes. This was going to be a long mission.
* * * * * * * *
Inyri looked up when Wedge’s “assistant” who, as it turned out, was an agent, walked into the sitting room of their suite. “You couldn’t have arranged for one with two bedrooms?” she asked dryly.
“It wouldn’t have made much sense for your covers, would it?” he asked pointedly, though he seemed slightly sympathetic.
“I’ll sleep on the couch,” Wedge told her, stepping out of the refresher. “It’ll still be more comfortable than some of the things I’ve slept on.” He perched on the arm of the sofa. “What’s our plan for now?”
“There’s a party tonight that the hotel is hosting,” Landis replied. “Most of your team will be there.”
“Shouldn’t we be keeping a low profile?” Wedge asked skeptically.
“Normally, yes,” the man admitted. “But the Minister of Domestic Affairs, a man named Alek Cesra – the man who is refusing to cooperate with us as far as the lab is concerned – will be here with his daughter. It will give you the chance to get a feel for these people.”
“How are we,” Inyri gestured toward herself and Wedge, “supposed to get a feel for a man as highly placed as that?”
“Cesra didn’t have a high-class upbringing. He got to be where he is by working closely with the New Republic as soon as it took a role in rebuilding Ralltiir. He hates dignitaries and functionaries and enjoys going to social events like this where he can talk to normal people, as opposed to, as he calls them, the pompous nerfs he deals with on a daily basis.”
Inyri snickered. “Sounds like he’d get along with Fey’lya real well.”
“They’d kill each other,” Landis answered wryly. “Personally, I think Cesra should be Ralltiir’s next Senator to the New Republic, but that’s just me.”
“Not really a fan of Fey’lya?” Wedge asked him.
“We’ve…had our moments,” the man replied. “And we’ve come to the mutual agreement that we ought never to speak to each other again.”
Inyri looked at Wedge. “I like him.”
Wedge laughed and Landis looked amused. “What is this party actually for?” he asked.
Their contact shook his head. “Nothing in particular. It’s just a social event. They hold them every few weeks or so. Your admission has been paid in advance, as part of the room fee.”
“What do we have to wear?” Inyri asked. If it was something like that get-up she’d worn earlier she was going to kill someone – slowly, and very, very painfully.
“Your outfits – clothing and shoes – are in the closet in the bedroom. If the sizes aren’t right, let me know and I’ll have someone take care of it. There should also be jewelry for you, Captain, in the top drawer in the chest. I’ll be in the office.”
The “office” was a small nook off the sitting room where Landis had a data terminal and comm unit set up. Inyri had given it a cursory glance and Wedge had said he planned to look over it a bit more once they managed to have the place to themselves for a while.
Inyri followed Wedge into the bedroom, stopping first in front of the dresser to see just how gaudy the jewelry was. To her surprise, it was actually quite elegant – completely opposite of the way she’d perceived her cover identity based on the outfit she’d been stuck with earlier. “I’m guessing this was supposed to be a gift from you,” she said to Wedge, holding up the box with the necklace and bracelet. “I don’t think Tiera has that kind of taste.”
He nodded. “I would say,” before covering the rest of the distance to the closet. There were only two sets of clothing hanging up. He pulled one out and moved to where the light was better. Inyri heard him mutter something under his breath and frowned.
“What is it?”
“It’s…nothing,” he finally answered, shaking his head.
Giving him a curious look, she walked over and stood beside him. It was a gray suit with lavender pinstripes, over a lavender dress shirt and matching, slightly darker, tie. “It’s…nice,” she said, not understanding what bothered him about the outfit.
He shook his head again and sighed. “He said everyone else would be there, didn’t he?”
She nodded. “Mostly. Why?”
“Just…if you see Janson…or Hobbie…go in the opposite direction.”
* * * * * * * *
As Lana dressed for the party, she began to wonder if partnering with Hobbie was going to turn out to be a mistake.
Especially considering that Alek was going to be there.
“Moment of truth,” she murmured to herself, before leaning over and securing a small blaster to her thigh.
If anyone died tonight, it was not going to be her.
She just hoped that….
Jesina Dreis - April 6, 2005 06:59 PM (GMT)
Loooooong Post for you guys.
“You think anyone else will be here?” Wes asked Corran softly as they walked toward the ballroom.
“It’s possible…doesn’t mean we’ll recognize them though,” the Corellian replied in a low voice.
They stopped talking as a man stepped up to them. Wes handed him their tickets and watched out of the corner of his eyes as Corran placed a hand against the small of Karin’s back. The dress she’d bought in a boutique off the hotel lobby was, well, it didn’t leave much to the imagination. After seeing it, he and Corran had had a short conversation and Corran had been more than willing to really take on the big brother role they’d been cast in. The last thing they needed was for some random Ralltiirian to ply her with alcohol and escort her back to his room.
Wes could just imagine having that conversation with Wedge. Um, yeah, so…we kind of lost Karin. Last I saw, she was with some guy. Blonde hair…real looker. That would go a long way toward endearing him to his CO.
He surveyed the crowd of people already inside. The party had started nearly an hour ago but Karin had taken forever to get ready. It had taken three threats from him and Corran that they were going to leave without her just to get her out of the refresher - and she’d still spent the entire turbolift ride down complaining about not having had enough time to do her makeup.
This was why he didn’t have serious relationships. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the idea of being tied to one woman. He just didn’t want to deal with all the obligatory nonsense that came from dating one woman. Over his dead body would he hold some woman’s handbag in a store…no matter how she planned on making it up to him.
He caught sight of a pretty brunette in a gown that looked like it might have been the other half to Karin’s and glanced at Corran while their squadmate’s back was turned. “I’ll…catch up with you later.”
“Just…try to make it back to the room tonight, will you?” Corran asked. Lowering his voice, he reminded Wes, “We do have covers to maintain.”
Wes shrugged. “Hey, if I don’t come back that means no one has to sleep on the couch.”
Corran glared at him and shook his head. “Just don’t get into trouble, okay?”
Wes felt hurt…for a moment anyway. He wasn’t an idiot…he just enjoyed female company. He was willing to bet Corran had his share of relationships before Mirax. Then he shook his head. He wasn’t about to let the short Corellian get on his nerves. “You just worry about her,” he replied, nodding his head at Karin.
She turned, almost falling in her heels, and glowered. “I can take care of myself just fine,” she retorted, snatching a glass from a tray as a waiter passed by and downing the liquid in one gulp.
Wes arched an eyebrow and looked at Corran again. “Like I said.”
* * * * * * * *
Wedge kept his arm firmly around Inyri’s waist - well, as firmly as he could given all the extra padding his disguise required. Slowly, they threaded their way through the crowd - a feat complicated by Wedge’s newfound bulk.
Inyri sighed. “Let me go ahead, darling,” she said, and it was all Wedge could do not to laugh at the voice she used. “I’ll see if I can’t clear a path for you.”
As she stepped away, he got a better look at her. Her dress matched his shirt, and he had to say the color looked better on her than on him. It was strapless and went to just above her knees, hugging every curve along the way. He wondered for a moment why she didn’t go out more - she was quite an attractive woman. Then he thought about the way she handled Janson and decided she’d probably intimidate any man who tried to date her. That, or…her and Janson? He shook his head. Nah.
“Aerex? Aerex!” He blinked and met her eyes.
“I’ve been calling you for the last five minutes,” she said.
“I’m sorry, dear,” he said. “I was…distracted.”
“By which blonde?” she asked snidely. “Or was it a brunette this time?” He wouldn’t have guessed it but she seemed to be enjoying the role she’d been given.
He frowned at her but didn’t reply as they made their way to the bar. Inyri ordered them a couple of drinks, holding her hand out to Wedge for money. “You need to tip, you know,” she said, giving him a long-suffering sigh. He dug into his pocket and brought out a few coins. She took them and held her hand out for more. “Don’t be so stingy!”
He rolled his eyes at her but obliged, then looked down the bar, nudging Inyri when he caught sight of a particular man. It was Alek Cesra - Landis had showed them some holo images of the Minister and his daughter. He had black curly hair cut short and dark eyes that seemed to take in everything that was going on in the room at once. He wore a light gray suit over a black shirt, but no tie, and looked far more at ease in such clothes than Wedge felt.
Wedge took the drink Inyri handed him and, seeing her nod slightly, moved away to approach the other man. “Minister Cesra?” he asked.
The man looked over at him, removing his hand from his daughter’s arm, and favored him with a curious smile. “I am. What can I do for you?”
Wedge held out his hand. “Aerex Aaltak, from Commenor. I own a construction firm there, but I’m here looking to expand.” He paused and took a drink of the wine Inyri had ordered and made a face. “I understand that there are parts of Ralltiir that were never reconstructed after the Imperials, shall we say, administered their unique brand of justice.”
Cesra sipped his drink. “Yes, that’s true. Many of the more rural areas that were hardest hit in the epidemic a few years before the Imperial assault hadn’t recovered, population-wise, by the time of the fighting. By the time hostilities came to a close, those regions were all but barren. The survivors - few in number as they were - left for the cities that, for some reason, had better withstood the struggle, and had no desire to return. Many of the others left the planet.” He took another sip. “Areas that are relatively void of population are low on our list of priorities. Much of the aid we’ve received from the New Republic over the last decade has gone to improving conditions in the cities and townships that are more heavily populated…low income housing, public assistance and the like.”
“But you’re looking into rebuilding them now?” Wedge asked. He made a mental note to find Hobbie and talk to him about what Cesra was saying. He knew about Lord Tion’s treatment of the world, and the information he was spouting now came from his cover briefing. Other than that, however, he knew little.
“Yes, we are. The cities have been overcrowded and there is growing interest in the rural regions. No one will move at this juncture, however, because everything is in such a state of disrepair.”
“Are you accepting bids for contracts?” Wedge asked. “It sounds like it would be quite a lucrative investment.” For once, NRI had done well with their cover identities - well, with his anyway. It was well suited to dealing with Cesra and it was something he knew about. He’d played a role in the rebuilding on Coruscant after Isard’s run from the planet.
Cesra’s smile disappeared instantly. “While we recognize that there are few people who will expend their resources for something that does not involve profit, we also have no desire to work with someone who seeks to become wealthy off of the misfortune of our people. We are not a rich world. We aren’t as badly off as some in the galaxy, and our economy has improved over the last few years, but we are not wealthy. We have no interest in paying exorbitant amounts to an off-worlder when the money could be much better spent caring for our own people.”
Wedge nodded slightly. “Of course. I merely meant that this might be a perfect opportunity for expansion…I’ve been looking for such a chance for some time.”
The other man looked at him skeptically but returned the nod. “Well, if you’re interested in employing our people in any new venture you establish here, we may have something to talk about. You’re staying here at the hotel?”
“I’ll have my assistant contact you. You’ll be here for the next few days?”
“I can be here as long as necessary,” Wedge replied. “Within reason, of course.”
“Of course. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I owe my daughter a dance.” He shook Wedge’s hand and turned away, holding his arm out to his daughter. “Shall we, Alisse?”
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie fidgeted with his tie. The suit he was wearing was better than the dress uniforms command forced on them - except for the silk noose around his neck. He watched as Lana mingled with people by the bar, keeping his hand close to the blaster that he was amazed she still had him wearing. Not only was the posture befitting of his cover identity, but it also made him feel slightly more secure.
He had to admit, as much as he disliked that woman, she could be very attractive when she wanted to be. Her dark blue dress clung to the curves of her upper body, flowing out around her knees. She was smiling and laughing, acting so much like the socialite she was supposed to be that he wondered if she’d had that kind of upbringing herself.
He shook his head and fiddled with the black jacket he wore. He was thinking about asking if he could hang onto this suit after the mission was over. Although, if Lana had her way he probably wouldn’t have need of it by the end. Of course, he could probably request to be buried in it. He was pretty sure that if he got the chance to tell Wedge that, he’d make sure they did it.
Sipping his drink, he scanned the crowd. He knew he wasn’t really Lana’s bodyguard - the woman was more than capable of taking care of herself, he was sure - but he felt the need to keep an eye on her anyway. She had a slightly high-profile cover and would make a good target for a hapless robber, and if anything happened to her he was in serious trouble. He still had no clue what was going on. How do they expect us to find out anything if they don’t tell us where to look? Or what we’re supposed to be looking for, for that matter?
He saw a heavy-set gray-haired man and a good-looking redhead approach the bar. “I can guess what that relationship’s about,” he murmured to himself. After the man got his drink, he moved toward another man, this one with curly dark hair. As the new person turned around, Hobbie did a double take. It was Alek Cesra. Even if he hadn’t seen his old friend’s picture the other night, he’d have recognized him - even with the scar that cut across the left side of his face. He wondered where that had come from; the biography he’d skimmed hadn’t mentioned it, and the holo he’d looked at hadn’t shown it.
He turned away slightly, unsure of whether Alek would recognize him as well. If the man was the one giving the New Republic trouble about that lab, then having Cesra find out he was here would be a problem. That, though, led to another troubling thought.
NRI had to know that he’d known Alek when they were younger. That wasn’t the kind of thing they missed, especially considering there were holos in the old school annuals of them together - they’d played all the same sports. They’d even been interviewed several times. So why was he here when he clearly posed a danger to the mission? The makeup job Lana had done on him was good, but it wasn’t that good.
* * * * * * * *
Tycho nudged Gavin and nodded his head toward a Gand and Twi’lek standing along the outskirts of the crowd. “Is that…?” Gavin asked, catching sight of them himself.
“I think so.” Tycho frowned, touching the irritating false mustache he was wearing. Neither Ooryl nor Kalara were disguised to a great degree. Kalara’s blue lekku were covered with the intricate tattoos that were unique to her race, but Ooryl looked just the same as he always did. Oh, his clothes were different, of course. Tycho would bet that Ooryl had never dressed like that in his life. But other than that…. He shrugged. He supposed that Gands and Twi’leks all probably looked relatively the same to most humans anyway.
“If they’re here, everyone else probably is,” Gavin observed.
“I would say so,” Tycho agreed, nodding. “And that’s a good thing, because I really don’t have a clue what we’re doing here.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” the younger man replied in a low voice. “I don’t understand. Intel doesn’t usually give us much information, but they don’t usually send us in blind, either.”
“I’m starting to get the feeling that we’re here as decoys,” Tycho said softly. “Look for anyone else in the squadron. Try to arrange a meeting with any of them you find. If you’re not sure if they’re who you think they are, ask them, I don’t know…ask them if you met them on Borleias or something. Most people won’t even recognize the name. Comm me if you find someone; I’m going to go talk to Ooryl and Kalara. I’ll arrange something and let you know what we come up with.”
Gavin nodded curtly as Tycho glanced in the direction of his other squad mates. By the time he turned back, Gavin had already slipped into the crowd.
* * * * * * * *
Myn downed the last of his glass of whiskey and looked around. This was the type of social event he usually tried to avoid. At least they were serving decent drinks. He set down his glass and signaled the bartender for another. Then he turned around and leaned his back against the bar.
He cast a sideways glance at Alar, surprised by how little he resembled himself. His normally white fur was dyed black, with mottled streaks of gray and white running through it. The fur around his eyes was white, and the white went around his head and down his face like sideburns. The Bothan had complained the entire time that he would never be back to his normal color.
His own disguise had not been nearly so complex. He was posing as a representative for a shipping company based off of Corellia.
“Not many non-humans here,” Myn observed.
“It is a human world,” Alar commented in reply.
“I know. It’s just…that means that if we really tried to find our own people…” he cut himself off when Alar nudged him as the bartender approached with his drink. Once he’d given him his tip and the man had moved on to another person, Myn opened his mouth to continue but Alar beat him to it.
“It should make it easier to find Ooryl and Kalara, at the very least. And if we can find them….”
“Chances are that the others can, too,” Myn finished. “So what do you say we go and try to figure out what’s going on, huh?”
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie had been shadowing Lana for most of the night, dancing with her on occasion, though she didn’t ask that of him often. But she kept going over to talk to Alek, which, fitting though it was for her cover, was just asking for Hobbie to get caught. He was starting to wonder if she was doing it intentionally.
So he’d spent much of his time chatting with people native to the planet, and he’d picked up quite a bit of information about Alek in the process. Apparently, Alek’s wife had died when their daughter was still an infant. The woman he’d married, Lynda Cavelhot, was the woman he’d been seeing back when Hobbie had left for the Academy. Lynda had gotten pregnant before they’d even made plans to marry, and they wed a few months before his daughter Alisse was born. Lynda had died in the fighting that had taken hold of the planet following Tion’s executions of the world’s leaders.
From the sound of it, Alek was well liked by those who knew him - into which category fell nearly all the Ralltiirians at this party - although it seemed that, of late, he had been on the wrong side of some kind of alliance between his colleagues, President Desaten and Ana Janik in particular. It could be nothing at all of importance - he knew from experience with the New Republic that high ranking politicians fell out of favor with each other all the time. But given the reason that they were here, and the fact that the New Republic had been having trouble with someone other than Desaten, it was-
He cut himself off mid-thought, spinning around.
* * * * * * * *
Corran scanned the crowd for Wes. He hadn’t seen the Rogues’ resident playboy in a while and he was starting to get frustrated. “If he’s taken off,” he muttered to Karin.
She giggled. “I’m sure he’s fine.”
He sighed. He should have cut her off a while ago, but he’d hoped she could hold her liquor, at least to a small degree. He’d been very, very wrong. “He’s probably much better than fine,” he replied, scowling.
Karin stepped toward him, nearly falling over. Clearly, she was not used to wearing heels while intoxicated. He caught her and she let him support nearly all of her weight. “We could be better than fine, too,” she murmured in his ear.
Corran swallowed and tried to help her stand up. “You’re far from fine, Bevin,” he said, barely remembering her cover name as he tried to catch her hands before they strayed anywhere unbefitting a brother and sister…or, for that matter, a single woman and a married man.
“I could be,” she mumbled. “If you were more fun.”
“Uh huh, sure.” Corran shook his head, mildly glad that Wes wasn’t here. He’d find this far too amusing for Corran’s own good. He needed to get her back to the room before she blew all their covers. “Let’s get you out of-”
He broke off as something caught his attention from across the room. “What-?”
* * * * * * * *
Wes was standing near one of the hors d’oeuvre stations watching a pretty girl with long black hair in a short black dress. He’d decided he rather liked Ralltiiri women, and thought it was a sad thing that Hobbie was a man. He’d found any number of attractive young ladies here tonight. But this last was more significant.
First off, she was too young for him - he did have some standards and fourteen was just inappropriate. But also, he’d learned from listening in on any number of conversations that she was someone of some importance. She was the daughter of someone relatively high up in the Secretariat, and he thought if he kept an eye on her he might pick up some kind of information of value…he might even get an idea of what they were actually supposed to be doing here, since Intel hadn’t seen fit to tell them anything significant.
Alisse - he’d learned her name after a carefully steered conversation - had spent much of the night glued to the side of a somewhat older man who someone had identified as her father. He hadn’t noticed any guards around her, but he had gotten the impression that her father - Cesra, he thought someone had said - was armed himself. So either Daddy thought he could protect her well enough himself, or he wasn’t worried about anything happening to her.
He wasn’t sure which was more likely. Ralltiir wasn’t exactly known for being a crime-ridden world. Then again, it was hardly known for being peaceful, either. And from what Wes had heard, Cesra was liked by everyone but the people he worked with. He’d bet a hundred credits that Cesra was the problem child of the Secretariat, the one who’d been making things difficult for NRI.
He glanced around, looking for anyone who might be paying attention to the girl or her father. There were a few glances here and there, but no one seemed to take much notice of their presence. If this had been a high-society party, that wouldn’t have struck him as odd in the least. But the fact that the hotel had given him, Corran, and Karin free tickets just for screwing up their reservations made him question it. If anyone and their brother could get in….
He turned to scan the other end of the room but something made him turn back. His eyes flicked around, searching for whatever had caught his attention. He lit on two men standing by the corner of a table and blinked as a sudden flash of light blinded him. Not waiting until he could see again, he ran for Alisse, catching her around her waist and pulling her down with him.
Jesina Dreis - April 6, 2005 11:21 PM (GMT)
Wes rolled with Alisse, struggling not to rest too much of his weight on her, as the room erupted into screams. He finally stopped against the bar, sheltering her body from the shards of glass raining down over them. He heard twice more the whine of a blaster, even over the panicked shouting, and felt the floor shake as people ran from the room.
A few moments after that, everything was silent. "Stay down," he whispered, feeling the girl tremble. "You're all right." He hoped, at least. He hoped he'd gotten her out of the way in time, and that he hadn't given her more than a bruise or two when he'd pulled her down.
He rolled to the other side and rose onto one knee. It was amazing how quickly a couple of blaster shots could empty a room. There were only about thirty people left and, as he focused on their faces, he realized most of them were members of his squadron. That figured. Of course they would hang around. Then he saw a hand appear in front of his face and took it, helping himself up. It was Cesra, the Minister he'd been watching. "Your daughter," he began, turning to look at the girl. "Is she all right?"
He knelt down once more, reaching out to her. "It's okay." He pulled her back from the bar. "Your dad's here." That got her attention.
She let him coax her up and then ran to her father. "Daddy," she whimpered, throwing her arms around his waist as Wes stood by awkwardly.
He felt a hand on his arm. Turning, he saw Corran. Karin was leaning against the bar behind him, looking very drunk. "What happened?" the other man asked him. "All I saw was movement, and then I heard shots fired."
"Saw light reflecting off a blaster." Wes nodded toward the now-overturned table. "Two men, about the same height, one with dark brown hair, one light brown. Couldn't see much more than that."
"You said you saw two men?" Cesra's voice interrupted their brief conversation.
"I…yes…I saw a flash of light."
"And you just knew that someone was going to shoot at my daughter?" he asked, eyes narrow.
Wes racked his brain, trying to remember his cover. "I…I was in the police force on Chandrila," he replied. At least Intel had given him a cover identity that fit him somehow. "It was instinct…the light, I knew it was off a blaster; I don't know how, but I did. And you and your daughter were the reasonable targets, and she was in a direct line of sight from them…" he trailed off, looking helplessly at Corran.
Cesra apparently noticed. "Who are you two?" he asked, glancing down as someone disengaged his daughter's arms from around his waist.
As the girl was led from the room, Wes struggled to remember his cover name. Corran seemed to sense his trouble and spoke up. "My name is Dorak Kesag. This is my brother Alon. We're here with our sister, hoping to move to Ralltiir - our mother was born here."
"I see." The Ralltiiri man frowned. "I am Alek Cesra, though I suspect you are already aware of that fact."
"We are," Wes admitted, running a hand through his hair and along the back of his neck. Feeling moisture, he pulled his hand away and glanced at his fingertips. They were dotted with blood. How had he not noticed that?
"You should get that taken care of," Cesra murmured.
Wes glanced at Corran, and then back at the Minister. "It's nothing," he mumbled.
* * * * * * * *
Tycho held Gavin back. "He's getting up. He's all right. And remember, we're not supposed to know each other."
"Wait," Tycho hissed. "Just…Wes may have already blown his cover as it is. We'd better try to preserve ours." They'd made the rounds and managed to talk to everyone, arranging a meeting - sans costumes - for late the next evening. From the looks of things, they'd have a lot to talk about.
"What if he did?" Gavin asked.
"Well, he couldn't exactly let the kid get shot," Tycho replied shortly, then took a deep, calming breath. He was the one who'd brought it up as it was. "If anything goes wrong, well, we'll deal with it." He sighed.
"You see what happened?" Gavin asked.
Tycho glanced at the younger man and shook his head. "No, but I plan on finding out."
Tycho glanced over toward Corran and Wes. "I'm not quite sure."
Gavin gave him a small grin. "Great."
* * * * * * * *
Alek frowned when he saw the blood on the man's hand and the surprised look on his face. Clearly, he hadn't noticed - and that in itself was quite telling. He'd have to watch this man closely. "You should get that taken care of."
Alon looked at his brother, a confused expression on his face, and then looked back. "It's nothing," he replied softly.
"I insist," Alek told him. "There's a doctor on call here at all times. He's just down the hall, and there'll be no charge. I'll take care of it. It's the least I can do."
"Go on," Dorak urged. "The doctor can at least make sure that there aren't any deep cuts."
Alek nodded, and turned to his aide. "Escort Mister Kesag to the doctor's office, and make certain that his needs are tended to." He glanced back at Alon. "I owe you a great debt, sir."
The man shifted from foot to foot. "It was nothing."
Indeed. It seemed that this Mister Kesag truly meant it when he said that. He watched as they started to leave and then called his aide back.
"Yes, sir?" Daraf asked.
"Get a sample of his blood," he said, keeping his voice low so that only his aide could hear the words. "Try for fingerprints as well. Something tells me he's far from who he claims to be."
Daraf nodded. "Yes, sir."
Alek watched them leave and then saw Dorak step back. He saw the other man's eyes flick around the room, never settling anywhere for more than a moment.
No, these men were not who they claimed to be.
* * * * * * * *
Myn slipped out the door a few moments before Corran walked out of the ballroom. He'd seen Cesra leave via another door and the rest of the Rogues had been filtering out over the last few minutes. He felt much better about this whole thing now that he knew the others' identities - and knew that Wedge and Inyri at least had an Intel contact.
He caught Corran's elbow, watching as the Jedi spun around to face him, Karin cradled in his arms. "Oh," the man breathed.
"Come here," he hissed, sidestepping around a corner and dragging the other Corellian with him. "What in the galaxy happened in there?" he asked.
"I wish I knew," Corran muttered. "But Cesra doesn't seem to think anything of it."
"What, of you and Janson or of his daughter getting shot at?"
"Either," he replied, shaking his head "And I'm not sure which worries me more."
"This isn't our job here," Myn muttered, glancing up and down the hall.
"Yeah, well, I think it just became part of it." Corran sighed. "Don't do anything until we talk to Wedge tomorrow night."
Myn glanced at his chrono. "I plan on sleeping until about twenty minutes before that meeting," he replied.
"Good. Probably safer that way," Corran said. Then he turned, struggling slightly as Karin shifted in his arms, and was around the corner in seconds. Myn waited a moment or two and then headed in the opposite direction.
* * * * * * * *
Wedge dropped onto the couch as Inyri perched on the arm. "What just happened?" she asked.
He shook his head. "I'm not entirely sure." He took off his shoes and massaged his feet. "Give me boots any day," he muttered.
She shot him a look. "You should try heels."
He glanced at her apologetically. "Yeah…no thanks." He took off his tie, tossed it on top of his jacket, and leaned back. "I got to talk to Cesra a bit before the shooting," he said.
"I was standing right there," she replied and he tossed a throw pillow at her. "You learn anything?"
"He got pretty offended when I suggested that getting involved in the rebuilding they're planning might be profitable. Then he told me that he'd have his aide contact me if I was really interested in contracting with them." He wasn't sure if it would be very useful, but it was a start. And Tierney had said that part of their job was to find out what was going on - not just to try to get into the lab.
"That's something," Inyri said, moving to sit beside him and leaning forward. "Maybe you'll pick up something from him."
"I'm hoping." He glanced around. "Landis?"
She shook her head. "I don't know where he is. Not that it matters, though. Tierney's probably recording every word we say, anyway."
"Yeah." He sighed. "Oh, well. Nothing we can do about it."
Inyri uncrossed her legs and stretched them out. "What do you say we get some sleep and figure this out in the morning?"
He nodded and yawned, giving her hand a squeeze as she stood up. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Today," she corrected him. "Later on today."
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie jerked his head up, looking from Lana to the black mark on the wall where her shoe had hit it. "Sithspit! What was that for?"
Her eyes flashed. "Of all the stupid things for that…that idiot to do! He should never have gotten so close to Cesra!"
Hobbie stared at her. This was it. He'd had enough. "Are you for real?" he exclaimed. "What would you have had him do? Let the girl get killed?"
"They wouldn't have killed her!" Lana protested. Then her eyes went wide and she turned, running into her room.
Hobbie was too stunned to say a word, though he wasn't certain what surprised him more: that she had slipped up so badly, or what her slip-up implied.
Sephrenia - April 6, 2005 11:36 PM (GMT)
Jes, I will be reading your story here. 40+ pages at Tf.n is a bit overwhelming :)
Jesina Dreis - April 6, 2005 11:39 PM (GMT)
:hugs: Thanks, Seph. Have I told you yet that I'm glad you made it over here?
You should introduce yourself in Welcome :D
Jesina Dreis - April 7, 2005 12:51 PM (GMT)
"How you feeling?"
Karin looked over at Corran through bleary eyes. "Like I got run over by a speeder," she mumbled, dropping onto the couch beside him with a moan. He head felt like her brain was going to pound through her skull.
"I'm not surprised." He paused. "You should have warned us you can't hold your liquor."
"Pilots are supposed to be able to," she murmured, her face flushing. "I didn't want you to think…" she trailed off, shaking her head.
"Tycho doesn't drink," he replied. "Well, not much anyway. I've only seen him drunk once, I think, but it didn't take much."
"Well, I'll remember that and commiserate with him when I get the chance," she retorted a little too loudly, and winced. "What did I miss last night?"
"You don't want to know."
She twisted around to look up and Janson and regretted it instantly. Jumping up, she just barely made it to the refresher in time to empty the contents of her stomach.
A moment later, she felt a hand on her back, rubbing in slow circles. "You okay?"
She got to her feet shakily, letting him help her stand. "I will be," she murmured, turning on the water to rinse her mouth.
After a few minutes staring at her ashen face in the mirror, waiting until she was sure her stomach wasn't going to rebel again, she rejoined the men in the sitting room. "What did I miss?" she asked again.
"Other than you hitting on Corran?" Wes asked her, arching an eyebrow.
She glanced between them both. "I-" She pointed at Corran, feeling her face grow warm. "I didn't," she finally managed to say.
Corran glared at Janson for a second before looking back at her. "Don't worry about it," he said after a moment. "You were drunk…it's no big deal."
"What…what did I say?" She didn't remember this at all.
The Corellian shifted uncomfortably. "It doesn't matter. We have other, more important things to discuss."
Wes sat down on the recliner next to the sofa, arms crossed, lower lip pushed out. "Sure, go ahead and spoil all my fun."
Corran glowered. "I will, if you don't mind. You are, after all, the reason we have something else to talk about."
Karin glanced between them, confused, but at the same time glad that they'd moved on to a topic other than her drunken transgressions. "What else did I miss?"
"It's not my fault someone tried to kill the girl," Wes protested, indirectly answering her question. He reached a hand up and rubbed gingerly at the back of his neck and she noticed for the first time that a bacta patch was affixed to his neck.
"What happened? Are you all right?"
"He's fine," Corran said. "Someone took a shot at Minister Cesra's daughter last night, and Wes played hero."
"Do you know who?" she asked, her mortification from moments earlier all but forgotten.
Corran shook his head. "I plan on finding out, though."
"You're a fighter pilot, not a cop," Wes replied, shaking his head. "Let's not get into anything other than whatever it is we're already mixed up in."
"First of all, once a cop, always a cop," Corran retorted. "And second, it's a little late to not get involved, seeing as I'd bet a year's pay that Cesra's going to be watching every step you and I take - and because of us, every move Karin makes."
"Would you have rather I let them kill Alisse?" Wes shot back.
"I love how you're calling her by name," Corran muttered.
"Well, I'm sorry, but 'her,' 'the kid,' and 'the girl' were getting a little annoying!" Wes exclaimed.
"Would you two shut up!" Karin finally yelled, hands over her ears.
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie scowled at the note Lana had left on the table in the sitting room. She'd "gone out for a bit." It was the kind of message a wife would leave for her husband when she'd left to run a few errands. He had little doubt that her early morning jaunt was nearly so innocent.
He wondered idly where, exactly, she might have gone, and just what her current absence meant for his life expectancy. She'd probably run off to tell whoever the men were that had shot at Alisse Cesra that they had a new target - him.
He scrawled out a quick note on the flimsiplast pad emblazoned with the hotel's logo, and then grabbed his jacket - and his blaster - and left the room, heading for the front desk. He needed to talk to Wedge, and it couldn't wait until tonight.
* * * * * * * *
"I trust you've learned something," Alek said as he walked into his outer office. He avoided working in the Secretariat building when at all possible. This, his home office, was much more comfortable and less prone to needless, time-wasting interruptions.
"Yes, sir." Daraf followed him into the office and remained silent until the door slid shut behind him. "It's actually quite interesting."
"I haven't time for embellishments," Alek replied, irritated. He was a busy man, and he had better things to do than play guessing games - like find out who had tried to kill his daughter last night. "Who is he?"
"His name is Wes Janson. I had Jana slice into the New Republic database. He's a starfighter pilot, a major in-"
Alek cut him off. "Rogue Squadron. Yes, I know. I'm…quite familiar with their roster, one of them in particular." He frowned. "The fact that he's here, using a false name…he's here for a reason, and he's not alone. Get a recording of last night's events. I planned on reviewing it anyway, to see if I could find out who shot at Alisse, but I want to see if I recognize any faces."
"Yes, sir. Will there be anything else?"
Alek was about to shake his head "no" when a thought occurred to him. "Actually, yes. Contact Mr. Kesag. Give him no indication that you know who he really is, and offer him a job as Alisse's bodyguard. See to it that he accepts the offer."
"Sir, are you certain that that is wise? Do you really want to entrust Alisse's safety to this man?" Daraf's expression made his displeasure with the idea quite clear.
That was, however, one of the things Alek liked about this man - he did not hesitate to call him on any decision whose merit he doubted. Alek didn't always agree with his reservations, but he appreciated the opportunity for discourse. "Yes, I'm certain. He risked his own life last night to save hers, clearly without any thought of the possible consequences. I highly doubt he would put her in jeopardy. And I much prefer to have him where I can keep an eye on him."
He thought for a moment. "Move him here as soon as he agrees to take the job. Move his brother to the guesthouse, but I want Alon - Major Janson - in the room across from Alisse's. And get me that recording immediately." With that, he sat down, an indication to Daraf that they were finished for the time being.
* * * * * * * *
Walking down the back stairwell, Hobbie fingered the note, trying to decide how to get it to Wedge without Lana's multitude of spies picking up on it. He'd been careful to shield what he was doing from any camera when he'd written it out - sadly, this spy stuff seemed to be rubbing off on him - but he was almost positive she'd have someone watching the desk. Whatever mistake she'd made last night, she wasn't stupid and he wasn't about to underestimate her.
If anything, the events of last night had made him even more inclined to be careful around her. She was dangerous - he had no doubt of that. And she'd just made him a threat. He sighed. He'd just managed to get himself in even more trouble - and it wasn't even his own fault.
He saw a man wearing one of the hotel's uniform shirts and was hit by inspiration. Stopping the man in the doorway he said in a low voice, "I'm in a hurry, but do you think you could drop a message off at the desk for me for one of the other guests? Just so long as they get it in the next hour or two…" he trailed off.
"I can deliver it myself in about half an hour, sir," the man replied, a fake smile pasted on his face. "I have several stops to make."
"Thanks." Hobbie made a show of pulling several credcoins out of his pocket in the hopes that anyone watching him from a hidden camera or some such would think it was only money changing hands here, and slipped him the note and the tip. The fake smile disappeared almost instantly, to be replaced by a genuine one. No doubt he rarely got that much of a tip for anything.
"Thank you, sir," the man replied, pocketing the note and the coins.
Hobbie nodded to him and hurried on, to keep up the pretense of being in a rush.
Blast it. This spy stuff was rubbing off on him.
* * * * * * * *
Lana kicked at the table leg, scowling. "How could I have been so stupid!" she exclaimed. "Force! I'm such an idiot!" She began pacing around the room.
"Calm down," Landis told her, seeing her wince as foot connected with the table. "This is very easily taken care of." He glanced pointedly down at the blaster he was cleaning.
She stopped mid-stride. "How? By putting him out of our misery?" she asked, narrowing her eyes. "Antilles would pull his people out in a second."
"I don't understand why we even need them here. It's more dangerous than helpful. Klivian was proving that before you all even left Corsucant."
"You know why we need them here," she said testily. "I want Hobbie where I can keep an eye on him until I have the proof I need."
"You just called him Hobbie." He elected not to point out - for the time being anyway - that Klivian was the one she really wanted here, and with him dead she'd have no need of the rest of Antilles' squadron.
She gave him a sharp look. "I did not," she protested, shaking her head stubbornly.
"Yes, you did. You called him by name." Landis tilted his head to one side. "Are you sure you can do this?" he asked gently.
"I…of course I am. It's nothing. He calls me Lana."
"He also doesn't know who you really are. Lana, we can get someone else in here if we need to. Cracken will understand. All things considered, he probably expects it."
"I'm fine. This…I have to do this, if for no other reason than my own satisfaction. I'm going to make him pay for what he did."
"You have considered that he's not going to want people to know what you're trying to find out, right? What do you think he's going to do when he realizes what you're really doing?"
"I've thought of that. I know what I'm doing, and I can handle him."
Landis shook his head but sighed. "You're the boss." There was no arguing with her when she got like this. He reholstered his blaster. "Back to work."
* * * * * * * *
"A gentleman asked me to deliver this to Mr. Aaltack," the bellman said, holding out a folded piece of flimsy.
"He's in the refresher," Inyri murmured, frowning. "Can you give it to me or do I need to get him?"
"No need," he said, placing it in her hand.
As she opened it, she reached into her pocket for money for a tip. Brewer's Mall, 1400. I'll find you. Frowning, she almost asked what the "gentleman" had looked like. But she remembered just in time that she there was a good chance that she wouldn't be able to recognize the description. That, and she didn't want to tip off whoever was watching them if this was from one of their squadmates. "Thank you." She handed him the coins, and then stepped back into the suite and closed the door.
She went and knocked on the refresher door, waiting until Wedge called for her to come in. Before saying anything, she shut the door, locking it, and turned on the sink and the shower. "Special delivery," she said softly, handing him the note.
Holding it at an angle that made it impossible for any cameras to see the words, he read it and frowned. "I don't know what that is," he murmured.
"Well, I think we'd better find out," she said. "Don't you?" She glanced at her chrono. "Two hours, twenty minutes," she told him.
Wedge made a face. "I hate Intel work."
Jesina Dreis - April 7, 2005 12:53 PM (GMT)
Wedge and Inyri left the hotel together an hour before the time they were supposed to meet whoever had sent the message, hoping that they were leaving themselves enough time to figure out where, exactly, Brewer's Mall was, and to lose anyone who might be following them.
By the time they found a store that sold such tourist-oriented things as glasses with "Ralltiir" emblazoned across them - and, hopefully, maps - Inyri was certain that they did indeed have a shadow - though only one that she could pick out. She followed Wedge into the show and toward a display of everything from detailed maps of Cambrielle to maps of the galaxy that she sincerely hoped no one would ever attempt to use to navigate the galaxy. Unless they'd missed out on a lot more than she thought in the short time since they'd left Coruscant, Bothawui wasn't a Core World.
"There," Wedge said, pointing at a spot on one of the local maps, being careful to keep his back to the store's window. "The city plaza, with all the shops and stands all around it."
She nodded and sighed. Brewer's Mall looked like it covered about a square kilometer. "Let's hope whoever's supposed to be meeting us knows what they're doing."
"Let's hope this map is more accurate than that one," he replied, pointing at the galaxy map. "If I remember correctly, Tatooine and Hoth aren't in the same sector."
She stifled a laugh as she looked over the map once more, before taking it from him and walking up to the clerk, Wedge following behind her. Pasting a flirtatious smile on her face, she dropped a few credits on the counter and pushed the map toward him. "Can you tell me where the museum is?"
He smiled in return and pointed at a spot without taking more than a second to look it over. "It's right there. It's actually pretty easy to find."
Inyri cocked her head to one side, well aware that Wedge was trying not to laugh. "Do you think you could just trace the route for us? I'm so hopeless with these things, and he has trouble seeing such small print."
The young man's smile broadened. "Sure. No problem." He picked up a stylus and drew a line through a couple of streets, ending by drawing a circle around the museum she'd randomly chosen. "There you go."
She slid the credits across the counter as she picked up the map, and murmured a quick thank you before stepping back and heading out the door, letting the smile disappear from her face.
Outside, Wedge took the map back from her. "I trust you don't actually plan on visiting the…" he looked at the circle on the map, "Historical Museum of Ralltiir?"
Inyri shook her head. "No. Nor do I plan on holding on to this much longer. This," she said, tapping the map in his hand, "is for the benefit of our unwanted guest."
"You noticed him too?" he asked.
She looked hurt. "Of course I did." Then she looked at her chrono. "We have thirty-five minutes until we're supposed to meet this person. And there are a couple of ways to get to the northern end of the mal, via a couple of side streets."
He glanced down at the map and then up at an intersection about a hundred meters ahead of them. "You go left, I go right, and we hope we lose him?"
She grinned. "And then we meet up here." She point at the northeast corner of Brewer's Mall. "Great minds think alike."
"We can pat ourselves on the back when and if it works," Wedge said. "Let's go."
She took the map back, folded it, and tucked it into her bag - just enough for it to stay in place until she wanted to get rid of it.
They covered the distance to the corner quickly, stopping at the intersection as if trying to decide which way to go. She nudged the map with her elbow, hearing but not turning as it hit the ground. "See you," she murmured, and darted around the corner as Wedge heading off in the opposite direction.
* * * * * * * *
"Mister Kesag, Minister Cesra wishes me to extend to you an offer of employment."
Wes frowned, glancing over his shoulder at Corran and Karin, who both shrugged, before turning back to face the comm screen. "What kind of employment?" he asked slowly.
"The attack on his daughter that you interrupted last night has him quite concerned. He has never before considered protection for her to be a necessity, but it certainly seems to be now."
"You're asking me to be her bodyguard?" Wes frowned. This seemed wrong for any number of reasons. "You know nothing about me."
"On the contrary. Your record of service on Chandrila is a testament to your abilities." The man folded his hands on top of the desk. "And the fact that you risked your own life to save Alisse last night, with no obligation whatsoever to do so, speaks volumes."
Wes' frown deepened. "I…I don't know."
"The Minister would like to meet with you tomorrow morning, if at all possible. You have until then to decide. The Minister is, I will admit, rather set on your acceptance."
Wes blinked. "Ah, yes, of course. I'll need to speak with my brother and sister about it." That was as good a reason as any to delay answering.
"Yes, your family. If you accept, you'd be living in the Minister's house, in a room near Alisse's. Your brother and sister would be moved into a guest home, one of a handful on the Minister's property."
Wes blinked again. This was getting more odd instead of less. "I'll let you know in the morning. How can I reach you?"
The man gave him a contact number, told him he'd be expecting his call the next morning, and terminated the connection.
Wes turned around slowly. "That was one of the strangest conversations I think I've ever had."
Corran gave him a pointed look. "Knowing you, I doubt that very much." Wes stuck his tongue out in response.
Karin stood and moved between the two before Corran could react. "Corran, stop instigating arguments with Wes just because your wife isn't around to put you in your place. Wes, stop antagonizing Corran just because you ended up sleeping alone last night." She was clearly going to continue but stopped when pillows hit her from both sides.
She fixed Wes with a glare, but he raised his hands in a submissive gesture. "Wasn't just me."
She turned to face Corran, who, Wes, saw, gave her an equally innocent expression. Then she threw up her hands and flopped back onto the couch, nearly landing on Corran. "Y'know," Wes said, "You could probably just ask him if you can sit on his lap rather than trying to break his legs."
Karin's eyes widened and she jumped to her feet, running into one of the bedrooms. Wes watched as the door slid shut behind her. "Oops."
Corran glanced toward the bedroom and then back at Wes. "Nice job."
"It was a joke," he muttered. "If I'd known…" he trailed off and shrugged.
"Known what?" Corran asked, frowning.
Wes stared at him, mouth slightly open. "For a Jedi, you sure are slow."
"What do you…no." The Corellian shook his head as Wes nodded.
"Karin's got a crush on you, you idiot."
Corran glanced at the door once more before burying his face in his hands. "We don't have time for this."
Wes shook his head. "Forget about it for now…I'll try to talk to her later. Unless, of course, you want to."
Head still in his hands, Corran shook his head. "Knock yourself out. Just, let's figure out this job thing first."
Wes moved to sit next to the Jedi. Speaking too softly for any listening devices to pick up his voice he asked, "Wait and talk to Wedge?"
"Yeah, that sounds good." Corran leaned his head back. "You really think-?"
* * * * * * * *
Lana walked into the suite and called out for Hobbie. Getting no answer, she shouted his name twice more as she checked both rooms. "Sithspit," she muttered, pulling out her comlink. Landis answered right away. "Tell me Antilles and Forge are in their suite."
"No, ma'am. Klivian gone?"
"Find them," she hissed through clenched teeth, but was unable to ignore the voice that told her that if Hobbie wanted to hide from her in the city, there was no way she'd find him. He'd known this place far better than she had when they were kids, and it hadn't changed much. "Find out where Dans is."
As she ended the conversation, she threw her comlink across the room. She was going to enjoy exposing Klivian for what he'd done to her - to all of them. And he could try all he wanted to stop her, but it wasn't going to work.
* * * * * * * *
Wedge saw Inyri standing in a doorway to avoid the rain. He headed in her direction and was a few meters away when he saw a dark-haired man in a black jacket approach her.
He reached automatically for his blaster before remembering that he didn't have it - a sidearm wouldn't have fit very well with his cover identity. But it didn't matter because Inyri apparently saw him and motioned him forward. The man standing in front of her turned slightly and Wedge saw that it was Hobbie. He'd thought it would be.
As Wedge joined them, Hobbie took Inyri's arm and walked a few storefronts down to a small restaurant. Wedge followed behind silently, and remained quiet until Hobbie spoke after they'd been seated in a back corner. He almost laughed at his friend's first words. "This is ridiculous."
"What's going on?" he asked softly.
Hobbie waited until a waiter droid had delivered them glasses of water before he replied. "I'm pretty sure Lana was involved in the attack against Alisse Cesra."
"How do you know?" Inyri asked, making slightly more sense than he had.
"Because when we got back up to our suite, she started ranting about how Wes shouldn't have gotten so close to Alek. I said he couldn't just stand there and let her get killed, and she said, 'He wouldn't have killed her.' Then she ran into her room and when I got up this morning she was gone."
"Wait…Hobbie, you just called him Alek." Inyri said, frowning. "Do you know him?"
The Ralltiirian nodded. "Yeah. We grew up together. Which is another reason for this to bother you - there's no way Intel doesn't know that. But they put me here anyway."
"There's a lot about this that doesn't make sense," Wedge muttered. "And not a lot that does. Be careful, Hobbie. Don't push it with Tierney. The last thing we need is for her to decide that you're too much of a threat."
"I think it might be too late for that," Hobbie protested. "She slipped up. She can't afford to have me know that she had anything to do with what happened to Alisse."
"That's why you did this," Inyri said softly. "Isn't it? In case she…" she trailed off, and Hobbie nodded.
"Someone else needed to know."
* * * * * * * *
"It is as I suspected. Rogue Squadron is here."
"Sir?" Daraf looked at him questioningly.
"This man." Alek froze the holorecording and pointed at a dark-haired man in a dark suit. "I know him. We grew up together; he was a close friend." A best friend, actually. They'd seen more than their share of difficult times together.
Daraf looked over a datapad. "He is…Tem Bissen, bodyguard to a Miss Resa Elbex." He leaned over the holo. "This woman," he said, pointing to a woman Alek recognized, having spoken to her several times at the party the night before.
He shook his head. "His name is Derek Klivian. He's a pilot in Rogue Squadron just as Major Janson is. That name…Bissen, you said?…is clearly a cover identity, which means that your Miss Elbex is as well. Find out."
"Do you know why they are here, sir?"
"If she is who I think she is, I have an idea."
"Yes, sir. Did you turn up anything about the men who shot at Alisse?"
"No, nothing more than Janson said. They were mostly hidden by the crowd."
"I'm sorry, sir."
Alek waved him off. "No need. If I'm right about that woman, I know what happened."
Sephrenia - April 7, 2005 11:26 PM (GMT)
Thanks for the welcome Jes :D
Ooo. Intrigue. I like :)
It's great to see the Rogues on the ground. They aren't too bad at Intel work actually... constant association with Cracken's people does rub off them.
Jesina Dreis - April 8, 2005 07:58 PM (GMT)
That's true, Seph. Also, the Rogues were created first as pilots but second as commandos... so their intel ability was taken into consideration at their creation. :)
Jesina Dreis - April 8, 2005 07:59 PM (GMT)
Hobbie walked into his and Lana's suite as nonchalantly as possible. He didn't actually expect her to think that his absence was even remotely innocent in nature, but there was no sense in being completely obvious about it either.
She was sitting on the sofa, legs folded under her, reading over some file on a datapad. "Where were you?" she asked, eyes remaining on the datapad.
"Out," he replied shortly, thinking for a moment how much they sounded like an estranged married couple. "No place special."
She finally looked up, eyebrow raised. "I'm sure."
He gave her a sarcastic smile. "Been gone a while. It's kind of nice to be back. Thought I'd look around."
"I'm sure," she repeated, setting aside the datapad and standing. "Look, Major, I'm not a fool and I'd appreciate it if you would refrain from attempting to play me for one. I know you met with Antilles and Forge, and I know why. And let me tell you, you've got it wrong."
"Really?" he asked, crossing his arms. "Because right now it seems an awful lot like Rogue Squadron's only purpose in being here is to take the fall for something - an assassination, maybe."
* * * * * * * *
Wedge and Inyri had just sat down when Landis walked into the suite. He stopped, looking over them both, and then said simply, "Very nice."
Inyri leaned back and looked at him askance. "What's nice?"
"You two, your little trip today. I admit, I underestimated you. We underestimated you."
"Well, I'm really the brains of the operation," Inyri said airily. "Wedge is just the pretty face."
Landis snickered. "Indeed."
"Well, you can't have everything," Wedge replied with a shrug.
The agent cast just the slightest glance in Inyri's direction. "Ah, but some are so blessed."
Wedge fought to keep from rolling his eyes. He saw Inyri's face flush and knew she'd heard the comment. Then a strange look passed over her face and she stood abruptly. "Wedge, can I talk to you?"
He nodded and followed her into the bedroom. "What's up?"
"He gave me a perfect opening," she said, being careful to keep her voice low enough that the microphones wouldn't be able to pick it up. "I can play into that like I thought he was really flirting, see if I can catch him with his guard down, or at least make him think I'm an idiot."
Wedge frowned. Landis was probably too much of a professional to fall for what she was proposing. Not only that, but it was dangerous. If he did fall for her - and Wedge had no doubt that Inyri could make him if she really tried - then it could end badly. And it wasn't any 'relationship' that they might have that he thought might end.
Besides, he didn't like the idea of her degrading herself like that. "I don't know," he said slowly.
"I know it probably won't work," she replied. "And I know it's risky. But I think it's worth a shot. Especially if I feed him little things here and there - nothing significant, but just enough to get him to trust me. I think it's worth a shot," she said again.
"Maybe, but if you go out there and start acting that way now, though, he's going to know something's up. Not that he won't anyway, but…" he trailed off as Inyri shrugged.
"So I'll ease into it."
* * * * * * * *
After waiting nearly three hours for Karin to come out of hiding, Corran had gone down to the hotel restaurant both to get food and to give Wes a chance to try to talk to her. He'd already tried four times, and had gotten progressively louder admonitions to leave her alone.
Wes knocked on the door. "Corran left, Karin. You can come out now."
A minute or two passed before he heard the door lock disengage, but by the time he opened it, she was back on the bed, lying on her stomach and staring at the headboard.
"Look," he said after a moment, "I'm really sorry about that. I didn't mean anything by it - it was just a joke."
"I'm such an idiot," she muttered, turning away from him.
He shook his head and sat down on the edge of the bed. He really hadn't meant to upset her. He'd thought that she had a crush on Corran, but this seemed to be a little more than just that. And if he'd known, he would have kept his mouth shut. "No you aren't," he finally said.
"Yes, I am," she mumbled. At least, that was what he thought she'd said. The pillow in which she'd hidden her face kind of muffled the words. "I'm stupid." He heard that clearly.
"No, you aren't," he repeated. "Now would you look at me?"
She rolled over and sat up, finally meeting his eyes. "Yes, I am," she said again, wiping away a few tears. "Falling in love with a married man is stupid!"
Wes didn't have anything to say to that.
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie wasn't sure exactly how long they'd been standing here like this, how long she'd been staring at him. But it was long enough that he was getting nervous.
Then, suddenly, she stepped toward him, close enough that he backed away until he hit the wall. "Don't you ever suggest such a thing again." Her voice took on a dangerous edge. "I would never be party to an assassination."
As much as he was thinking that he'd already gone too far, he didn't keep his mouth shut. "You'll forgive me if I don't trust anyone with Intelligence anymore."
She shook her head, eyes blazing. "No, I won't. I know what you people went through on Adumar and I'm sorry for that. But not all of us are like Tomer Darpen. Not all of us have our own agendas and, contrary to popular belief, most of us do care who gets hurt in the course of our assignments."
"Well, you could have fooled me," he shot back, but he heard his voice waver.
Her eyes narrowed to slits but the fire in them didn't die. She was so angry she was actually shaking. "You want to know why we're here?" she hissed.
"I realize that it might seem strange to you but I do actually like knowing what I'm risking my life for. So, yes, if you would be so kind."
"To see to it that a man pays for all the lives he ended." Then she turned on her heel and stalked out of the suite.
* * * * * * * *
Wedge looked around the warehouse Tycho had come up with for a meeting place. It hadn't been used in months, had no light except for the glow rods Tycho and Gavin had brought, and it wasn't very warm, but it served its purpose. "How'd you find this place?" he asked his XO.
"I had a feeling we might be doing this and Gavin and I had some time to kill." Tycho shrugged. "We scouted around for a place. I thought we'd better have an idea about where to meet for whenever we got the opportunity."
"Good idea." He glanced over the gathered squad members. "You get the feeling there are a few problems we don't know about?"
"Yeah. Something's up with them," Tycho told him, nodding toward Corran, Wes, and Karin. "And Hobbie seems on edge about something."
"I know what that's about," Wedge replied. "At least, I think I do. Something seems strange about Donos, too." Tycho raised an eyebrow and Wedge shrugged. "I don't know. But it might have to do with whatever's going on with Wes and Corran. He's been talking to them since he got here."
"Maybe," Tycho murmured.
"Pull them all together, will you? I want to talk to Hobbie for a second."
* * * * * * * *
Corran frowned. Karin still refused to so much as look in his direction. He was going to have to do something about that, and soon. Wes had told him what she'd said, and he'd been floored. Crushes, minor attractions…that was normal. But Karin… He shook his head. Too many complications.
He looked up as Wedge and Hobbie rejoined the group. "All right," Wedge began. "Does anyone have anything they need to bring up, before I get to what we," he gestured toward himself and the Ralltiirian, "already know?"
Corran pointed toward Wes and saw Myn do the same. They'd run into Myn on the way over and had told him quickly about what had happened. He'd expressed concern about the situation the night of the party, so Corran felt pressed to fill him in.
Wedge groaned. "This has something to do with the shooting, doesn't it?"
"No, actually, it's about what I had for breakfast," Wes said. "The hotel restaurant makes a wonder-" He stopped talking when Inyri's jacket hit him in the face. "Ow!"
"Then shut up and make sense," she told him, smiling sweetly.
He frowned at her for a second before looking back at Wedge. "Yeah, it's about the shooting. Cesra's assistant offered me a job."
"As court jester?" Inyri asked, eliciting snickers from most of the pilots.
"I'll get you back," Wes retorted.
Corran shook his head. And he calls me blind.
Wes turned back to Wedge once more. "As Alisse Cesra's bodyguard. He said Cesra was pretty set on my taking it, and he wants to move me into his house, in a room near Alisse's and move Corran and Karin into a guest house he's got."
"He's got to know who you are," Hobbie said, and Corran leaned forward so he could hear the man better. Hobbie wasn't quite the loudmouth Wes was. "Alek wouldn't be doing this otherwise."
"You think it's a trap?" Wedge asked.
Hobbie shook his head. "Alek wouldn't use his daughter like that. He probably wants you - all three of you, probably - where he can keep an eye on you. But if he's asking you to look after Alisse, it's because he really thinks she's in danger."
"How do you know this?" Corran asked.
"Alek Cesra and I grew up together," Hobbie replied quietly. "We were good friends, and I knew Alisse's mother well, too."
"So what do you think, Hobbie?" Tycho asked. "Should he accept it?"
The other man nodded slowly. "I think so. He'd never do anything to put Alisse at risk, and if someone is after her, then Wes can keep her out of the way, so she doesn't end up in the middle of what's going on."
"Speaking of, do we know what's going on?" Gavin looked confused and more than a little uneasy - which was more or less how Corran was feeling right now.
"We have theories," Wedge replied. "The first of which - and why I agree with Hobbie about keeping Cesra's daughter out of the way - is that our dear friend Major Tierney had something to do with Alisse getting shot at."
Unease just gave way to alarm. "What, are they trying to intimidate Cesra into cooperating?" Corran asked.
"Quite possibly," Wedge replied. "Hobbie flat-out asked Tierney if we were here to take the fall for an assassination attempt."
"Are you insane?" Wes interrupted, eyes on Hobbie. "What would you do a thing like that for?"
The Ralltiirian shrugged. "She's the one who said that whoever shot at Alisse wouldn't have killed her. And then she told me that I was jumping to the wrong conclusions."
"Tell them what else she said," Wedge said quietly.
Hobbie shifted from foot to foot. "She said that the reason they're here is to make a man pay for the lives he ended. Then she took off, and I haven't seen her since."
"I am wondering if she refers to Minister Cesra," Ooryl said.
Hobbie shook his head. "The way she said it, it sounded like mass murder, or genocide. Alek would never be a part of something like that."
"Then who?" Alar asked. "Has anyone else even been mentioned to us?"
"The President is a man named Desatin," Hobbie said. "But he was a huge supporter of the Rebellion when it was just starting out. I don't think he'd do something like that either."
"It's got to come back to Cesra." Wedge gestured toward himself and Inyri. "Our contact, a man named Landis, wanted us to cozy up to Cesra."
Corran was starting to feel almost physically dizzy. All the circular talk must be getting to me. He reached out for the wall, intending to sit down on an overturned crate, and missed. Falling to his knees, he heard a crash and thought he saw Karin stagger forward.
Then black crept in at the edges of his vision, and he didn't see anything anymore.
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 8, 2005 08:46 PM (GMT)
i found my way over here. this story is sad too, but its still great. you're not gonna hurt hobbie are you? you can't
Mirax_Corran - April 8, 2005 08:56 PM (GMT)
*smirks at Sticks*
I know what happens, and I'M NOT TELLING!
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 8, 2005 09:01 PM (GMT)
i've read this at the jedic council boards, so i know somewhat cause of what jes posted overthere
Mirax_Corran - April 8, 2005 09:07 PM (GMT)
Jesina Dreis - April 8, 2005 10:25 PM (GMT)
Yes, Yes, I am a Fiend...
Jesina Dreis - April 8, 2005 10:31 PM (GMT)
Wedge blinked. His entire body felt cold. And it hurt. His arms ached, and he couldn't move them.
He moved his head slightly, in a vain attempt to find some focal point in the darkness. But he could see nothing. He could feel nothing, except cold. Cold metal against his hands, cold duracrete against his back and legs.
After a moment, he was able to determine that he was sitting, at least, and that his hands were secured tightly behind his back. Where he was, why he was there, how he'd gotten there - those were all questions for a less fogged mind, which he didn't have right now.
"We'll do our best to make you comfortable, General," a disembodied voice said from somewhere in the vicinity of the ceiling. "You'll only be with us a couple of days, just long enough to teach someone a lesson."
"Tierney," he rasped, realizing for the first time how dry his mouth and throat were, "if this is you, what happened to Darpen will be nothing compared to what I'll have them do with you."
The voice laughed. "This is not 'Tierney,' General. But we thank you for giving us her name and confirming our suspicions." There was a pause. "And, to aid your peace of mind, we aren't too fond of dear Tierney either. We'll talk to you later, General. If you need anything, just yell."
Wedge blinked again and mentally added Ralltiir right below Adumar on the list of places he never wanted to see again.
* * * * * * * *
Corran felt something touch his arm and opened his eyes, seeing the face of his Gand wingman. "What happened?" he mumbled.
"Ooryl is not certain, but he thinks the room was filled with gas. Everyone but Ooryl lost consciousness." He gave an apologetic look and Corran wondered if he was feeling bad for them, or for the fact that he hadn't passed out too.
A second later, he realized it was something else. "What's-Wedge!" Their CO wasn't Force-sensitive by any stretch of the imagination, but he had a strong presence in the Force, strong enough for Corran to notice when he couldn't feel him anymore. He stood quickly and spun around - a very, very bad idea for a man who'd just been drugged - letting his gaze travel over the still forms of his squadron mates. Wedge was not among them, he realized, as he sagged back against Ooryl.
The other pilot slowly lowered him to sit back down. "What happened to him?" he asked.
"A man came in while Gand was checking on Kalara. Before Gand realized that he was here, he had grabbed Wedge and was dragging him away. Gand tried to shoot but missed, and he reached the turbolift before Gand could catch him."
That figured. The only thing in this building that still worked, and it had to help the other guy instead of them. "Wake up the others. Start with Tycho, Janson, and Hobbie. I'm gonna stay here until the room stops spinning."
Ooryl gave him an odd look. "The room-"
"Figure of speech, Ooryl." Corran sighed and slowly leaned back until he was lying flat on the floor. He made a mental note to ask Iella how she could stand to be involved in Intelligence when they pulled things like this.
It never even occurred to him to think that Intel might not be responsible.
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie stood shakily and looked around. Tycho was kneeling next to Gavin, and Wes was helping Inyri to her feet. She looked pale in the dim li- "Light?" he mumbled, glancing toward the windows. Then he looked at his chrono. 0500. They'd been out for nearly three hours.
He caught Ooryl's arm. "What did you do after whoever it was dragged Wedge out of here?" he asked.
"Qrygg tried to wake everyone. Qrygg went to each pilot several times. Qrygg thought it better not to leave the others unconscious and alone." He looked as if he regretted the decision. Sounded it, too.
Hobbie patted him on the arm. "You did the right thing. I just wondered, because I didn't realize we were out for so long."
The Gand glanced at his own chrono. "Qrygg did not realize either." He hung his head slightly.
Boy, but the Gand race really hammered humility and guilt into their people. "It's all right. Don't worry about it. Just…go see how Corran's doing. He doesn't look good." The man had been lying down but was now sitting on some overturned boxes, leaning over with his head between his knees.
Hobbie headed over toward Gavin, who looked about as bad as Corran. "How is he?" he asked Tycho, kneeling down.
"Looks like he reacted to it badly," Tycho said, reaching forward and putting a hand on the younger man's forehead. "His face is flushed and hot, and he's not responding when I talk to him."
"Not if we can avoid it." Tycho met Hobbie's eyes. "Someone needs to go to Tierney."
He stared at him. "Are you sure that's a good idea? Seeing as she most likely is the person behind this?"
Tycho shook his head. "I don't think she is. It doesn't seem like her style, and there's no way that kidnapping Wedge would help her. She's smart enough to realize that if she pulled something like that, our attention wouldn't be on doing whatever she wants us to anymore. It'd shift to finding Wedge and getting him back. And that would cause problems for her."
Hobbie sighed. Leave it to Tycho to think logically. "You think I need to go to Tierney?"
"There's no one better. Besides, your cover requires you to be around her anyway. Any of us trying to contact her would be risky."
"The woman already wants to kill me, Tycho."
The Alderaanian gave him a slight grin. "She hasn't yet, has she?"
Hobbie made a face. "I don't know who's rubbing off on you, Wes or Wedge."
* * * * * * * *
A hooded face appeared in the small, barred window to the room in which Wedge was being held. "Do you need anything, General? We really don't seek to make you uncomfortable. However, nor can we afford your escape - at this point, at least."
"Water would be nice. Food, maybe," Wedge remarked snidely. "Just those little luxuries."
"I'll see what I can do, General. And we'll see about moving you to more comfortable accommodations."
Wedge leaned his head back, pleading with his mind to make sense. Then he gave up as it occurred to him that none of this had made any sense even from the beginning.
* * * * * * * *
In the end, Hobbie had demanded that Wes come along with him. The Tanaabian had to arrange his meeting with Cesra anyway, and he just really didn't want to face Tierney alone. The others had stayed at the warehouse they'd met in, except for Corran who, once he was feeling better, had gone to the nearest store to get a small medical kit in the hopes that it would help Gavin.
It was 0600 by the time they reached the suite. When Hobbie keyed the door code and it slid open, the first thing they saw was Tierney, clad in a sleep shirt and pants, pointing a blaster at the two of them. When she realized who it was, she lowered the weapon. "Where in the galaxy have you been?" she hissed, grabbing Hobbie's arm and yanking him inside. "Get in here," she snapped at Janson.
"Where have you been?" she asked again, setting her blaster down on the end table.
"Getting Wedge kidnapped," Wes muttered. "It's nice to see you again, by the way," he added, sending an exaggerated smile toward the agent.
She turned toward him for just a second. "Shut up." Then she faced Hobbie, but turned back to Wes just as quickly. "What did you just say?"
Wes glanced at Hobbie and snickered. "She's a quick one."
"What did you say, Major?" she asked, biting out every word.
"I said," he replied, dragging out every syllable, "We were getting Wedge kidnapped."
She dropped onto the couch and hid her face in her hands. "This isn't happening."
Hobbie frowned. This wasn't what he'd expected. He'd made a bet with Wes that there would be blaster bolts - well-aimed blaster bolts - and a lot of yelling. Possibly bleeding, as well. He'd expected fury, not resignation.
"You mean it wasn't you?" Wes asked.
Hobbie's eyes widened. His best friend was an idiot. Wes had taken his side in the argument with Tycho over who was behind the kidnapping. That was one thing. Saying it to her face was another thing entirely.
For once, Tierney looked uncertain. "No, it wasn't me. Why would I do something like that?"
"Oh, I don't know…you've threatened to kill Hobbie any number of times - and anyone else who does something you don't like. You send us all here with no information, and most of us with no contact. Nobody knows what's going on, and that seems to be just fine with you. Minister Cesra's daughter gets shot at, and you more or less TELL Hobbie that you were involved. Yeah, I can't imagine WHY we would think that you had ANYTHING to do with it!"
He shouted the last words and Hobbie winced, the expectations of blaster fire and bleeding returning in an instant. "Wes, we have other things…" he started to say, but the now-angry Tierney cut him off.
"I don't have to defend myself to you, Major, and I won't. I have a job to do, and now you've gone and botched it all up!"
"Wait a second," Hobbie interrupted. If he was going to get shot, it was going to be because he shot his own mouth off, not because he happened to be the unfortunate bystander to Janson's ranting. "You're the one who brought me here when you HAD to know that Cesra would recognize me. And it's a short jump from knowing I'm here to knowing that the rest of Rogue is here. We didn't screw this up. You did."
Her lips were set in a thin line. "There's a reason you're here. There's a reason you're all here. And if you hadn't met with each other - and you're all experienced enough with this to know how dangerous a move that would have been - this wouldn't have happened."
"No, then they'd just have broken into Inyri and Wedge's suite and kidnapped him that way!" Wes retorted.
Tierney stood and turned away. "I don't have to explain myself to you. But I know who has Wedge, and I can get him back - as long as you all stay out of it." The edge in her voice was gone, and she seemed a little smaller and less sure of herself than she normally did.
"We're not staying out of it," Wes snapped. "Wedge is missing, Gavin's sick…"
She turned back. "What about Gavin? Is he all right? What happened?"
"Whatever they knocked us all out with, Gavin's had a bad reaction to it. He's feverish and unresponsive. He's still back where we were meeting," Hobbie told her, surprised by her reaction. She seemed genuinely concerned about the man.
"Take him to a hospital. I think I know what they used on you, and if I'm right, that's an allergic reaction. He needs bacta treatment. Otherwise, he'll die."
"Won't that endanger the mission? I mean, his cover will probably be blown," Wes remarked snidely.
She didn't answer him directly. Instead, she said quietly, "I'm not as cold as you think I am, Major. It's my job to see that a certain person pays for his crimes. Justice has been too long in coming for me to watch this mission fail now."
Hobbie took an involuntary step back, feeling as if her eyes were boring holes right through him.
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 8, 2005 11:52 PM (GMT)
not wedge anyone but wedge! :begging:
Mirax_Corran - April 9, 2005 12:06 AM (GMT)
You hadn't figured that out? Look at the first post in the Clan thread.
Jesina Dreis - April 9, 2005 07:49 AM (GMT)
Jesina Dreis - April 9, 2005 07:56 AM (GMT)
Disclaimer: No, I do not hate Corran. He's just a convenient victim...I mean, outlet :p for all the little tangents my mind goes off on.
Tycho rubbed the back of his neck, cursing uncomfortable hospital chairs not for the first time in the last hour. He'd been relieved when Hobbie had commed to say that Tierney had said for Gavin to go to a hospital - he felt better knowing the kid would be getting real medical care. The kit that Corran had brought back had had some medicine that helped Gavin's breathing and lowered his fever slightly, but he still had been unresponsive. Tierney's assessment of Gavin's chances, on the other hand, had him very nervous.
He looked up when Corran sat down next to him. "Any word on Gavin?" the Corellian asked him
Tycho wondered idly if they ought to still be sticking with their cover names, even talking like this, but decided it was probably mostly a moot point by now. He shook his head and sighed. "Not yet." He paused. "I don't think they bought our story." They'd told the emergency staff that he'd been working in a chemicals lab when there'd been a mishap of some sort, the nature of which they weren't aware. It was a badly crafted lie, but Tycho hadn't been able to think of anything else that would explain the gas the kid had inhaled.
"No?" Corran raised an eyebrow. "Can't imagine why."
Tycho chuckled. "Yeah, I would imagine they don't get many insomniac chemists in here." It was nearly 0800 by the time they'd gotten to the hospital, but they'd had to tell the nurse how much time had passed since he'd been exposed to the chemicals.
"Any word from Hobbie?" the Corellian asked, seemingly understanding Tycho's desire to talk about someone other than the pilot from Tatooine.
It was, however, the wrong topic to switch to. Tycho had tried to comm Hobbie, but had gotten no answer. He was beginning to wonder if sending his friend back to talk to Tierney had been a mistake. Sure, she'd been compassionate regarding Gavin's condition, but… He sighed and shook his head. "Nothing from Wes, eith-" At that exact moment, a comlink sounded.
"That's you," Corran said after patting his pocket. Tycho nodded and stood, moving away from the Jedi and hoping that the call meant good news.
"Celchu," he said. Screw the cover names.
* * * * * * * *
Wedge stretched his arms and sat back on the cot. His captors, whoever they were, had made good on their promise of making him more comfortable. He'd been moved to something akin to a guest bedroom, though the windows were barred and the door reinforced. If he decided to make an effort at escape, he'd probably be able to. But at this point, he wasn't sure he wanted to.
There was clearly something going on here that he was missing. He'd gotten the impression that the person his kidnappers were trying to teach a lesson was Tierney, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out why, and they hadn't seen fit to tell him yet. They hadn't interrogated him other than asking if Tierney worked for NRI, and when he'd refused to answer, they'd left him alone. Food and water had been readily available, and not one person had threatened him with any harm at all.
He wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of being separated from the rest of the squadron, but he had complete faith in Tycho. Besides, this might be an opportunity for him to find out a little more about what was going on.
Something about the things that Tierney had been saying to Hobbie didn't sit well with him. It was as if she expected him - or someone else in the Rogues, at least - to know what she was talking about. He was starting to wonder if maybe there was something Hobbie wasn't telling him.
* * * * * * * *
Wes adjusted the tie he was wearing for the fiftieth time as he fidgeted in the rear seat of the groundcar that Minister Cesra had sent for him. Cesra's aide was sitting in the front passenger seat, and had spent the last ten minutes turning around, shaking his head, and turning back to the front. "There's really nothing to be nervous about," the man finally said.
Sure there's not, he thought to himself. I'm walking into the rancor's den, here, but there's really nothing to be nervous about. "I'm not nervous," he said aloud. "I just hate ties."
"You can take it off. The Minister detests them as well, and only wears them for public functions and the highest of meetings."
"I like him better already," Wes said, forcing a smile. He loosened the designer strangulation device and slipped it over his head, continuing to toy with it just the same.
"Where were your brother and sister?" Daraf asked after a moment.
"I'm not sure," he replied honestly.
The man turned back to him, raising an eyebrow slightly. "You don't know?"
He shook his head. "They were gone before I got up." Then he shrugged. "They do that sometimes - go out to breakfast or something. I prefer to sleep when I get the chance, but they're morning people." That was true, actually. He thought of Karin the morning after the party. If he'd gotten that drunk, he'd have slept the entire day.
"Well, Alisse is by no means a morning person, though she doesn't have much choice in the matter. She has dance instruction before school in the morning."
"Does she study dance because she wants to, or because the Minister wants her to?"
"Her mother danced before she married the minister, and was planning to return to the art after Alisse was born, but she died before she had the chance."
"How did she die?" Wes asked slowly.
"She was a part of a Rebel cell and the Imperials learned her identity. She was shot - executed, really - in front of Alisse, and the child was kidnapped. Luckily, Alisse was so young at the time that she remembers none of it, and the Minister has elected not to tell her what happened until he feels she's old enough."
"How did he get Alisse back?"
"Another Rebel cell located her and rescued her, all but three of them dying in the process. As we found out, it was one woman in particular who risked her life to get Alisse back to the Minister, though we never learned her name."
As Daraf feel silent, Wes looked out the window. He was feeling better about taking this job already.
* * * * * * * *
"Who was it?" Corran asked when Tycho came back over to him.
"Hobbie. Finally. He went out and bought a comlink because he thinks Tierney put a tracker in his."
"He's getting paranoid," Corran murmured.
Tycho shot him a look. "Of all people, should you be calling someone else paranoid?"
Corran sighed. That was a good point. Paranoia and suspicion were pretty strong character traits of his. He just wasn't used to seeing them in the others. "Fair enough. What did he say?"
"That Tierney took off - again. She wants to meet with all of us when she gets back, provided Gavin's released by then. She seems to think she knows who has Wedge."
"You think maybe we'll get some answers from her?" he asked, though he was fairly certain he knew what the Alderaanian would say.
"Probably not anything useful." Yeah, that'd been his guess.
"She's going to lose it when she finds out about the offer Cesra made to Janson."
Tycho nodded. "She's going to lose it even more when we tell her we think Cesra knows who we all are."
"Well, she probably already knows our covers are blown on some front."
"And she hasn't killed Hobbs yet," Tycho agreed. "We might all survive this yet."
Corran nodded, his eyes wandering over the Rogues who'd come with them to the hospital. Of course, Karin had come, and it was driving him crazy. He couldn't think his way out of that problem with her constantly around.
"What's going on?" Tycho asked softly, and Corran looked at him sharply.
"What do you mean?" He knew exactly what Tycho was referring to, but was determined to play dumb for as long as possible.
Which, as it turned out, wasn't long at all. "You know what I'm talking about. You and Karin."
Haltingly, Corran told him everything that had happened, including what she'd said to Wes after he'd left the suite yesterday. When he finished, there was definitely something he didn't like about the expression on Tycho's face. "What?"
"Hmm? Oh, nothing. Just thinking."
"About?" Corran looked at him suspiciously, Tycho's good-natured ribbing of a few minutes earlier more or less forgotten. "Thinking about what?"
"Just…I've known people concerned about letting someone down easily…and I'm not sure that's what I'm seeing here."
Corran stood abruptly, eyes narrowing. "I resent that implication, Tycho." Then he spun on his heel, stalking past Karin without a word, hoping that putting some distance between them would quiet the nagging voice at the back of his mind, the voice saying that Tycho might be right.
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie willed himself to stop pacing, to no avail. If he kept it up, they were going to end up getting charged for wearing down the carpet. Then again, it was NRI's money, so why should he care? He kept pacing, altering his route slightly to go all the way around the sitting room, rather than just back and forth.
He wanted to know how Gavin was doing. He wanted to know where Tierney was. He wanted to know who Tierney was, because he was almost sure there was something very big that he was missing - about her, never mind the mission. He wanted to know just what the person they were there to punish was supposed to have done.
Yeah, that was the big one, especially considering he was growing more and more certain that the person she wanted to pay for his crimes, which he understood to mean 'die,' was him.
He sat down at the data terminal, determined to make some use of this downtime he'd suddenly been afforded, and brought up the birth and death records for the town he'd grown up in.
More and more he was getting the feeling that he knew Tierney - but not as Tierney. He'd bet a year's salary - not that he had a life to spend his credits enjoying anyway - that she was someone he and Alek had grown up with. Now he just needed to figure out who she actually was, and why she hated him so much.
* * * * * * * *
Karin bit her lip as she caught sight of her Corellian squad mate. He was sitting on a bench outside looking like the entire galaxy was against him. Slowly, she walked over, sitting down and sliding closer to him. "Feel like talking?" She couldn't believe that, after the debacle yesterday, she was initiating conversation with him.
He didn't look over. "Not really."
She put a hand on his without even thinking about it. "What's wrong?"
He glanced down at their hands but didn't move. "Just…something that-"
His words ended when she leaned forward, surprising both of them, brushing his lips with her own. Even more surprising to her was the fact that he didn't immediately pull away.
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 9, 2005 09:42 PM (GMT)
sure, Corran's always the "convenient victim". and of course i know shes a fiend, she just amazes me sometimes with her fiendishnes...ness.
edit: second page
Rowan Jade - April 10, 2005 03:08 AM (GMT)
"The Rogues Go To Raltiir"
I can just hear Wes in the background:
Wes-"Are we there yet?"
Wes-"Are we there yet"
Wes- "Are we there yet?"
Wedge-"Cut the chatter Wes"
a few seconds of silence later
Wes-"Are we there yet?"
Wedge-"Wes! Knock it off"
Wes-"But Daddy! I have to pee!"
Wes-"Yub yub, General!"
:wes: + :wedge: = :rofl:
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 10, 2005 04:23 AM (GMT)
:rofl: Thats great Ro! i loved it and i can really see that happening! :rofl: :rofl:
Jesina Dreis - April 10, 2005 08:32 PM (GMT)
Sticks - Corran just begs to be tortured ;)
Ro - Oh my goodness...
Jesina Dreis - April 10, 2005 08:33 PM (GMT)
Corran's eyes widened as Karin leaned forward, but closed almost instantly as her lips met his. Slowly, he leaned closer to her, slipping one arm around her back as he used the other to steady himself against the back of the bench. Just as she pressed against him, he heard footsteps and the sound of someone clearing his throat, and slid backward, eyes wide.
Tycho was standing a few meters away, mouth slightly open. Corran felt his face grow warm as Karin jumped to her feet, darting around Tycho before the Alderaanian could say a word. Sithspit.
He could feel nothing from the Rogue XO - no disapproval, anger, nothing. It was unnerving. "Tycho-"
The other man shook his head. "Don't. It's not my business, as long as it doesn't interfere with this assignment. I just came to tell you that the doctor said Gavin will be fine. He can leave in a couple of hours. Take Karin; go back to the warehouse, and tell everyone else to go back to the hotel."
Slowly, he nodded. "Yes, sir." Just what he needed - time alone with Karin. "I'll go find her," he said, willing his face to return to its normal color.
* * * * * * * *
"Well, what do you suggest?" Lana asked, lips set in a thin line.
"You got yourself into this," Ana replied. "Don't look to me to get you out of it."
Lana dropped back into a chair. "Would you rather justice wasn't done? We know he was involved. He was in the Rebel cell responsible - he was with them that night. You have the holos to prove it."
"I know." Ana nodded, fingering the datacard on which the images were stored. "And, of course, I want to help you get the final proof you need to bring it to trial, since that's what you're here to do. But I admit, I question the need for it now. It's in the past, Sera. You can't deny the good he's done in the years since the epidemic. Why don't you leave the past in the past?"
It took Lana a moment to remember that Sera was her. It'd been so long since anyone had called her that. "Because thousands of people died - thousands of our people. And no one knows why they gave their lives. No one knows the truth. To the entire galaxy it was an unfortunate, but natural occurrence. And that's unacceptable to me."
"Sera, Derek has had to live the last sixteen years with the guilt that his actions contributed to the deaths of his parents, his sister. Don't you think that's more punishment than the New Republic could ever dole out? If you try to bring him to trial for his role in that - and it would be only him, because the others are all dead - it would be a media circus. The holoreporters, the sludge news…they would try and convict him without a single thought paid to justice."
Lana crossed her arms, annoyed at the Foreign Minister's continual use of her old name. "Then maybe that's what he deserves."
Ana put a hand on her arm. "I don't believe for a moment that you actually think that. You were in love with Derek the day you left him. You were in love with him the day he left. And you're still in love with him."
She pulled away and the other woman walked back toward her own chair. "I'm…I have a job to do. This mission was sanctioned by General Cracken. He knows why I'm here, and he agrees that it's time the truth came out. So does Leia Organa-Solo."
"And are they both aware that Major Klivian is the accused?"
"General Cracken is."
Ana sat down behind her desk. "And you are determined to see this through to the end, even if it means sacrificing General Antilles' life?"
She shook her head vehemently. "Alek wouldn't…"
"Alek will do whatever he feels is necessary to protect Derek. He's sending a message to you, and no one else. The years have hardened him in a way you couldn't understand."
"I'm well aware of what time has done to Alek. I know about Lynda, and I know about Alisse-"
"Speaking of that," Ana interrupted her, and Lana scowled, knowing what her next words would be. "What in the galaxy possessed you to have Landis shoot at Alisse?"
"It was a scare tactic, nothing more. And it backfired, badly."
"I should say. The squadron's cover identities are useless now, and Major Janson has just been hired as Alisse's bodyguard."
"Wonderful." Lana leaned back in her chair, scowling.
"You brought it on yourself, Sera."
"Don't remind me."
* * * * * * * *
Wedge's captors had apparently decided that he at least deserved a slight explanation of why he'd been dragged away from his squadron, especially considering, as they told him, they couldn't care less about the squadron. One of the men, someone who seemed vaguely familiar to Wedge, had spent the afternoon - talking to him.
It seemed that, as far as these people were concerned, Tierney was digging into something that was better left buried. The man - who went by the name Lenn - had told him that she was on track to destroying a man's life, and that they were trying to protect that person. Lenn made it very clear that Wedge would be familiar with the man she was endangering.
He also confirmed that Tierney had been behind the attack on Cesra's daughter, as an attempt to scare the Minister into cooperating with her. It had not, according to Lenn, worked, and the man's words made Wedge wonder if Cesra was the one they were protecting, or if Cesra was protecting Hobbie from something.
It certainly was starting to seem like the latter. Tierney clearly had something against Hobbie. Cesra wasn't selling them out, no matter how much he didn't want to cooperate with the New Republic. And that fact alone made the man okay as far as Wedge was concerned. If Cesra was cooperating with Tierney, he'd be worried.
* * * * * * * *
"Corran?" Karin asked hesitantly. She was fairly certain that he didn't even want to be on the same planet with her right now - he'd said exactly seven words to her since the kiss they'd shared: 'Time to go' and 'I'll be in there,' with the latter being accompanied with a gesture toward the bedroom. Now she stood in his doorway, feeling more nervous than she thought she'd ever been.
After a long moment, he looked up. "Yeah?" he asked softly.
She took a few steps in, looking over him as she moved forward. He looked a little lost, but for some reason that made him even more attractive. She loved how self-assured he always seemed to be, the arrogance that showed through on occasion. But vulnerability…it only made her want him more. "I was wondering if we could talk."
"There's nothing to talk about," he said, glancing away and out the window.
Biting her lip, she crossed to the side of the bed he was sitting on and sat down half a meter away from him. "I'm pretty sure there is."
He looked back over at her. "No, there really isn't. What happened…that was a mistake. I'm married, Karin. I love my wife, and I know you know that."
"Yes, I do," she admitted, wincing internally at the words 'love' and wife.' "But I also know that she wouldn't have to know." She knew it was a harsh thing to say, but she didn't care. It was the truth, and she'd known more than one man for whom that would be a fine excuse.
She watched him swallow and heard him take a deep breath. "Karin, I love Mirax. We have a son together. She means the galaxy to me and I would never want to hurt her. It would kill me - never mind what she, her father, and Wedge would do to me if I ever hurt her."
"What she doesn't know can't hurt her." She reached forward and took his hand, and was disappointed when he pulled it away.
"I would still know, though, Karin." He sighed and looked away, as if searching for anything to focus on other than her. "I admit that I find you attractive, and I admit that I'm flattered that you're interested in me, but…" he trailed off and shook his head.
She slid toward him, taking his hand again. This time, he didn't pull away, instead running his thumb over the back of her hand. "Corran, this isn't a crush. I'm in love with you."
"You don't even know me."
"We've been flying together for over a year. How long did you know Mirax before you fell in love with her?"
She had him there, and he clearly knew it. "Well, then, I'm sorry to disappoint you, Karin."
"Then don't disappoint me." She leaned over and he pulled back for a moment before she reached out with her left hand, pulling his head toward hers. As their lips met, his resistance melted away.
She moved closer to him and his arms encircled her. She could feel his hands running up and down her back, pulling her closer to him, pressing her against his chest. Running one hand through his hair and keeping the other on his shoulder, she brushed her lips down his neck. He tilted his head back, clearly enjoying her ministrations.
She felt his hands settle on her waist and back. Then he leaned backward, pulling her with him until she was lying next to him on the bed, legs dangling over the edge of the mattress. He was truly an incredible kisser.
At that moment, his comlink sounded and he released her with a groan, grabbing blindly for it. "Horn."
* * * * * * * *
Inyri sat down on the couch beside Landis, a little unnerved by the fact that he hadn't even acknowledged her when she'd come in. "Wedge is missing."
He didn't look up. "I know. Lana told me." He shook his head, eyes still on his datapad. "You guys took a big risk, and it backfired on you."
"Yeah," she admitted.
That got his attention in a hurry. "What did you say?" His eyes were fixed on her face now and she was struck by the intensity of his eyes. She felt as if he was seeing right through her.
Maybe this little plan really was a bad idea. Probably was. She kicked herself for having thought of it. Oh well…she'd already started it. Not much she could do now. "I said yeah. You're right. But a lot of things are happening, and we needed to talk to everyone."
She thought for a minute. She knew they were planning on telling Tierney about Wes' new 'job', so that was a safe thing to tell him. "Janson got a job offer."
He raised an eyebrow. "A job offer?"
"Protecting Alisse Cesra. Because he saved her life the other night, Cesra thinks she's in danger, and he thinks that Janson's the right person to guard her."
He nodded thoughtfully. "A smart move on his part, especially if he knows who the Major is." Then his expression changed to one of suspicion. "And why are you such a willing fountain of information, Captain?"
She was quiet for a second. This was the hard part. She looked him over for a second. He really was an attractive man, probably a little younger than Wedge and the other senior Rogues. It shouldn't be hard to convince him that she could be interested in him. "Because I like you," she said, with a soft smile.
It didn't come out in the coy voice she'd intended. It sounded honest rather than flirtatious. I need to get out more, she told herself. I don't even remember how to flirt!
His expression changed once more. "No games, Forge. Don't try to play me like this."
"I'm not!" she exclaimed defensively. "You're the one who-"
"If you're referring to what I said to General Antilles in front of you, that wasn't…" He sighed. "Captain, I meant what I said. You are intelligent, witty, and very attractive. Just the same, I shouldn't have said it. It was a mistake - clearly for several different reasons." He picked up the datapad again, drawing his finger down the screen as if to find his place.
Inyri's eyes widened as her jaw dropped open. She'd have bet every credit she had that he'd been playing her the other day. It hadn't occurred to her that he might have been serious. "I…I didn't realize…"
He didn't look up. "Hmm?"
No, you Corran fans may NOT kill the author. :p :devil:
Actually, neither can the Hobbie fans. :devil:
Jesina Dreis - April 10, 2005 08:35 PM (GMT)
Wes frowned when Corran answered. He was out of breath and sounded more than a little distracted. "Everything all right?"
There was a brief pause. "Uh, yeah, it's fine."
Yeah, Wes thought. And the Emperor really did have the galaxy's best interests at heart. "Right. What happened?"
"Nothing. Everything's fine."
Wes keyed in his new bedroom's access code. Twenty credits said the situation with Karin had gone from bad to worse. But he wasn't about to bring that up over the comm. "How's-?"
"Out of the hospital in a few hours."
"Good. I met with the Minister for a few minutes. A car will be coming for you in," he glanced at his chrono as he dropped a datapad on the bed, "an hour and a half. They'll take you right to the guest house."
"When will we see you?"
"I'll bring Alisse by a couple of hours after that. I mentioned that you guys may need to do some shopping and, well, let's just say that even at fourteen Alisse is a typical female."
Corran laughed, but it sounded strained. Yeah, something was definitely going on there, but he didn't have the time or the means to find out now. "I'll see you then."
"See you," Corran echoed.
As Wes tossed his comlink on the bed as well, he decided that this was simply an affirmation that women really were more trouble than they were worth.
* * * * * * * *
As Corran tossed his things back into his suitcase, he tried to think about the trouble they were inevitably setting themselves up for by moving onto Cesra's property. He tried to figure out who might be holding Wedge, on the off chance that Tierney was telling the truth about not being involved. Basically, he tried to think about anyone - or anything - other than Karin Vev, but she refused to leave his mind.
He loved Mirax. He really did. And Valin meant the galaxy to him. No matter what he felt for Karin, she couldn't compare to the wife and son he had waiting at home.
But he did feel something for Karin, and it went beyond pure physical attraction, though that was definitely a part of it. She was a beautiful woman and with an edge that rivaled Mirax and Iella.
But at the same time, she had a vulnerable side, a need to prove herself that he'd first mistaken for arrogance. Normally her marked insecurity would have turned him off to even having a friendship with her, but somehow it was part of what drew him to her. He couldn't explain it, and didn't really want to, because that brought him to a place he didn't want to go - reassessing his marriage.
He sat down heavily, still holding one of his shirts - one Mirax had given him no less - in his hands. He loved Mirax and the thought of losing her for any reason truly brought tears to his eyes. But he couldn't deny the desire he felt for Karin.
Her voice broke into his thoughts and he looked up to see her standing in the doorway. "We should probably head down to the desk and check out."
* * * * * * * *
Tycho kept an arm around Gavin's shoulder and helped him into their suite. "Bed or couch?"
"Couch. I'm sick of laying down. Besides, I want to know what's going on, and if I lay down I'll fall asleep before you even get to tell me anything."
Tycho frowned. "If you're that tired, maybe you should get some rest."
"I've been resting. It's just…anytime I'm in a bed, I fall asleep. It's a psychological thing or something." He shrugged as he sat down on - more like fell onto - the couch. "Tell me what's going on?"
He thought for a moment as he lowered himself beside Gavin. Saying 'Tierney's going to kill us all' probably wouldn't be very informative, no matter how accurate an assessment of the situation it might be.
"Wedge was kidnapped - that's why they knocked us out - and Tierney claims that she wasn't involved. She's going to meet with us sometime soon - tonight or tomorrow. Apparently, she's decided that it's time we knew more about what's going on."
"Or does she just want us to not screw anything up for her? I'm not sure I like the idea of all of us meeting with her." Gavin made a face. "It sounds like a good way for her to get rid of us all at once."
"You're beginning to sound like Hobbie," Tycho admonished him.
"Yeah, well, I'm beginning to think that his outlook on the galaxy is the best one." He held up his hands as Tycho threatened him with the nearest pillow. "I was two hours away from dying! I'm entitled."
Tycho laughed. "To that end, I suppose Hobbie is as well." He took the pillow and tucked it behind the younger man's back.
"Do we know who has Wedge, if it really isn't Tierney?" Gavin asked as he leaned back against the new support.
Tycho shook his head. "What do you remember from before you passed out?"
"Everything after we got to the warehouse is a little fuzzy," he admitted.
"Well, Wedge had more or less come to the conclusion that this all revolves somehow around Alek Cesra, so he's a possibility. Hopefully if it is, Wes will be able to find out."
"The bodyguard thing?"
* * * * * * * *
"Are you the one who shot at Alisse Cesra?"
Landis didn't turn around, but his hands froze where they were over the data terminal's keypad. "As long as my orders don't involve the harm of innocent bystanders, I follow them, Captain. Alisse did not get hurt, and would not have even without Major Janson's intervention."
"Stop calling me by rank. I've got a name, you know."
"Let's not stray across the lines of professionalism again, shall we?" he asked as he began to type again.
Inyri kept her eyes fixed on him, even though it was only the back of his head that she was looking at. "I'm sorry for that."
When he didn't respond, she shifted back to the conversation's original topic. "What could you possibly gain by threatening the life of a fourteen-year-old girl?"
He turned to face her. "Alek Cesra is protecting someone who doesn't deserve his protection. He's preventing justice from being served, and he needs to know we're serious about putting a stop to his interference.
"And threatening his daughter is the way to do that? What if it doesn't work? Will you kill him?"
"A handful of guilty lives given to assure justice for thousands of innocent lives lost?" He shook his head. "My apologies, Inyri, but that is worth it to me."
"Is he the one who has Wedge?"
"Perhaps. Or it might be someone who thinks that they're doing him a favor."
"That's to imply that they aren't?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.
He shook his head again. "No, they aren't. Even if it costs General Antilles' life, we aren't backing down."
Her eyes narrowed and she fought to keep in check the string of nasty comments fighting their way out. "And what has Hobbie done that's so terrible that you'll let Wedge die just so that you can prove his guilt?" It was a gamble, but at this point she didn't feel like there was anything to lose from taking it.
Inyri watched with satisfaction as his eyes widened. That was it, exactly. But he wasn't going to say so, no matter how clear he'd just made it. "Nice try."
She might have smiled if not for the circumstances. "But it is him, isn't it?"
"Inyri, you're an intelligent woman, so you must know that I'm not going to tell you that."
It was worth a try." She paused. "Tell me, is it a requirement that you surrender your compassion when you join NRI, or does that just make the job a little easier?"
She turned on her heel and walked away, her step faltering slightly when she heard him say quietly, "Yes."
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie stared at the woman on the screen, eyes fixed on her face. Many years younger, with darker hair and brighter eyes, it was Lana Tierney. It was also the first woman he'd loved, up to and beyond the day she'd walked away from him because he'd admitted his hatred of the Empire.
He heard someone at the door and, leaving the image enlarged on the screen, he turned to face her. "Kliv-" she called, but stopped short as her eyes moved past him to fix on the screen behind him.
She bit her lip but otherwise gave no sign of having heard him. Finally she said, "Tell the others to meet here, tomorrow at 0700. Include Janson, if possible, but make sure that Horn and Vev, at least, are here." Then she moved on, heading briskly toward her room, pretending not to hear as he called her name.
As she walked away, he thought he saw a tear run down her cheek.
* * * * * * * *
Corran, would you at least talk to me?" Karin called, banging on his bedroom door. The house was clean, as near as they could tell, so she had no concerns about using his real name. "Corran!" It was really an interesting reversal of the other day.
Only apparently, though, he wasn't as stubborn as she was. A second later the door opened and she stepped forward, but he held up a hand.
"I just talked to Hobbie. We need to be at his suite tomorrow at 0700. Tierney's either going to kill us or she's going to finally tell us what's going on." Without waiting for her to reply, he sidestepped to go around her, and she reached out and grabbed his arm.
He shook her off and stepped away. "No. Karin, I have a lot to think about right now, and talking with you isn't going to help. Just, please, leave me alone for now. I need time to think."
* * * * * * * *
"This way, please, General. We need you to record a message to your people." Lenn guided him into an office and pointed to a chair that sat opposite a holorecorder. "Please, sit down."
As he sat, one of Lenn's people handed him a datapad. "If you would be so kind as to read this, looking into the camera."
He glanced down, scanning the words quickly, to find that they were almost exactly as he'd expected. Then he looked up, eyes on the man behind the camera. "You may speak now."
"This message is for Major Lana Tierney, New Republic Intelligence. I cannot tell you who I'm with at the moment. I can tell you that they are aware of your activities on Ralltiir and demand that you cease your actions within 72 hours. If you do not, they will kill me." He was amazed at how easy it seemed to say those words. "This same message is being transmitted to General Airen Cracken, Director, New Republic Intelligence, and to Colonel Tycho Celchu, New Republic Starfighter Command. The past is better left untouched, Major Tierney. Antilles out."
As the operator turned off the recorder, Wedge set the datapad down and glanced toward Lenn. "What happened to meaning me no harm?"
"My apologies," the man replied, bowing his head slightly. "We have, unfortunately, been forced to alter our plans. We have no desire to kill you, General. You are too good a man to die for this reason. But, unfortunately, you are the only bargaining chip in our possession."
"Tierney's not going to back down just because you threatened me."
"Then that is unfortunate for you, General. This is not an idle threat."
* * * * * * * *
Tycho watched the recording, the lump in his stomach turning into a solid block of ice. Reaching forward to turn off the vidscreen, he shook his head and sighed.
Under most circumstances, he'd disregard it completely, and under most circumstances that would be what Wedge wanted him to do. But these were not most circumstances.
He didn't know what was going on, and he doubted that tomorrow's meeting…he glanced at the chrono…today's meeting with Tierney would prove very enlightening. But whatever this was all about, he was damned if Wedge was going to die for it.
Wedge was in danger, Wes might very well have walked, eyes wide open, into a trap - and with him Corran and Karin. Gavin had just barely survived, and Tierney had threatened Hobbie from the outset. Too many lives were at stake for them to keep playing this game.
Tierney was going to tell them what was going on - he'd see to that. Either that or she was on her own with this crusade of hers, and their mission objective had just changed dramatically.
* * * * * * * *
Corran stood on the porch, ringing out his dripping shirt. The run had felt good and the rain, cold as it was, had been refreshing. But he was no closer to sorting out his thoughts.
He loved Mirax, but he wanted Karin, and those thoughts were difficult for him to reconcile. Her attention was flattering, especially given the gap in their ages. She was a very attractive woman with whom he was isolated, and he hadn't seen Mirax in two months, as she'd been away on business and then visiting her father with Valin.
He ran a hand through his wet hair as he pulled the door open. Hopefully, a hot shower and a decent night's sleep would clear his mind.
Not that he'd bet on it.
* * * * * * * *
Lana slid the power pack into the blaster, turning it over in her hands. One shot. All she had to do was pull the trigger once, and there would be one less worry in her mind.
Checking once more that the weapon was set to kill, she rose from the bed and padded out into the living room, crossing silently to Derek's door. She paused outside for a moment before pressing the button, and then stepped back as it slid open.
Hesitantly, she moved forward, hearing the slight whoosh again as the door closed behind her. The only light in the room came from the moon outside, but that was enough for her to see him on the bed. He was lying on his back, the sheet stopping just above his waist. One hand was up under his pillow, and the other was on his stomach. As she watched, he rolled onto his side, facing away from her, leaving her a clear shot.
Slowly, she raised the blaster, looking down the barrel at him, and took a couple of steps forward. Aiming at the back of his head, she took a deep breath. "Good-bye, Derek."
Then she pulled the trigger.
:devil: :devil: :devil:
Mirax_Corran - April 10, 2005 08:36 PM (GMT)
I reviewed this chapter like this when I first read it:
:sick: :sick: :sick: :sick: :sick: :sick: :sick:
I still think that. And this:
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 10, 2005 10:24 PM (GMT)
NO! don't do it Corran, don't do it! :sick: :cry:
are you sure we can't kill the auther, how 'bout the beta cause they let you get away with this fiendishness...ness..ness. i mean i'm corran fan AND a hobbie fan. :hobbs:
you love being fiendish and evil don't you Jes.
i don't want hobbie to die, want never mind i remember this postie and the next one. okay i'm fine, well as fine as i can be. :jenn:
Jesina Dreis - April 10, 2005 11:11 PM (GMT)
You two will get over it.
And I don't have a beta ;)
Rowan Jade - April 11, 2005 02:41 AM (GMT)
Jes is the Esteemed High Beta Queen! She don't need no stinking Beta!!
She does occaisionally need help finding titles and doing unusual research, but Beta, NOPE!
I see you can understand why I wanted you to read the reply I stuck up last night. I had a Lank moment and I wanted to share. I see you took my advice and offered us up TWO posts today. Sweet! Double my pleasure! And get to where we mutinied at JC faster! W00t!!!
I still don't think Karin's that bad. Apparently you and I are they ONLY ones that don't want to kill her, but what can ya say?
JainaSticksSolo19 - April 11, 2005 02:52 AM (GMT)
i say we KILL her!!!! :evillaugh: :evillaugh:
and i say that we use boomies to do it! :boom: :boom: :jenn:
edit: i have a better idea on what to do with her. i'll give you a hint "why do witches burn?" :jenn: :jenn: :jenn:
Jesina Dreis - April 11, 2005 06:26 AM (GMT)
No accounting for taste, Ro...
And no burning of Karin!!
btw, Sticks, I love your sig
Jesina Dreis - April 11, 2005 06:29 AM (GMT)
Lana blinked, staring at the black spot on the headboard as Derek sat bolt upright in bed. She froze, eyes moving from the weapon in her hand to the place where his head had been on the pillow. The blaster was still aimed at that single spot. But…she missed?
That wasn't the right question.
She knew the answer.
By the time she regained her focus, Derek was no longer on the bed. Instead he stood behind it, blaster in hand. His stance was steady, unwavering, and there was neither fear nor regret in his eyes.
Not that she could blame him. She had just tried to kill him. There was no reason he should feel badly at the prospect of ending her life. And she'd been unable to kill a sleeping man, so there was no reason for him to fear her.
"Why do you want me dead?"
She felt herself start to shake and had to fight to keep her grip on the blaster. "Because you deserve it."
"What did I do to you to make you hate me?"
She heard his voice crack and it almost brought her to tears. I can't do this. I can't do this.
"You left me. You left me because I joined the Rebellion." His voice shook more with each word.
"I left you because of what you did with them."
His face paled and he lowered his weapon. "That's what this is about?" he whispered.
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak, but fixed her eyes on his face.
He stared at the blaster she held for a moment before his eyes drifted up to meet hers. Then he did the last thing she'd have expected.
He tossed his blaster on the bed and turned his back to her.
* * * * * * * *
Karin stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she could feel Corran's hands in her hair, on her back. It was the most exhilarating feeling in the galaxy, to be held like that by the man she loved. Knowing that he was married, knowing that another woman had claim to him, only increased the excitement.
It also, of course, increased the guilt she felt.
She really did feel badly about what was going on. She'd gotten to know Mirax Horn a little over her time with the squadron. She'd been welcoming to her from the day she joined, generally encouraging her not to be shy about putting the men in their places. She didn't want to hurt Mirax, didn't want to ruin her marriage. But she wanted Corran more than she'd ever wanted anyone.
She knew he wanted her. She could see it in his eyes, feel it in his touch. Even the morning after the party, when she'd been hung over and sick, he'd been so kind to her. She'd known then that he felt something for her.
She just wondered if it would be enough.
* * * * * * * *
Corran finally sat up and glanced over at the chrono. Four hours. Four hours he'd spent attempting to sleep, and four hours he'd spent tossing and turning.
The few hours in the city with Wes and Alisse had been a welcome respite from the stress of being alone in the house with Karin. Alisse was a very intelligent young lady - Wes stood to learn a lot from her - and very engaging. As well, she'd taken quite a shine to them all - especially Karin. And Wes.
Yes. Alisse Cesra had, in the first three hours she'd known him, developed quite a crush on her bodyguard.
Wes didn't seem to find it very amusing, though Karin certainly had.
But then, she would.
He sighed. No matter what train of thought he started out on - and he'd tried many in the last few hours - everything always came back to Karin.
This would be so much easier if he actually knew how he felt about Karin.
It wasn't the first time he'd been drawn to a coworker - he and Iella had come very close, back when they'd been with CorSec. But he hadn't been married then, and things had already gone farther with Karin than they ever had with Iella.
And what he felt for Karin was different from that anyway. It wasn't stemming from nearly dying. It wasn't because he had no one else. It was, in so many ways, opposite anything he'd felt before.
He thought back to the women who'd entered into his life after Mirax had made her mark on his heart. There had been Erisi Dlarit. He'd recognized that attraction for what it was before he'd made a mistake - pure and simple lust. The only other woman who he'd come closer to being with was Leonia Tavira, and the outcome there had been the same. No matter what he'd tried to tell himself, it had been lust that drew him to her, and that was unacceptable.
But that wasn't what was happening here. What he felt for Karin was deeper than that. He wouldn't say it was love, though that was a closer description than lust.
If only it WAS lust. He could understand it, accept it, and move on. But it was more than that, and that was why he couldn't deal with it. It made him question everything - including how he truly felt about Mirax. He knew he loved her, but if he could feel like this for someone else, what did that say about his marriage?
Sighing, he swung his legs over and rested his feet on the floor. He leaned over, forearms on his knees, and put his head in his hands. Exhaling hard, he sighed. Maybe another run would help.
* * * * * * * *
Hobbie closed his eyes, clenching his fists as they started to tremble. How many times had his life been in danger? How many times had he crashed? More than he could remember. But he'd never felt like this. Maybe this was what it was like to know you were going to die.
He felt his entire body start to shake as he saw her reflection in the window. She'd lowered the blaster as he turned around, but now she'd raised it again. He closed his eyes, steeling himself for the impact he knew was coming.
His breathing was shallow, almost to the point of gasping for air. His heart felt like it was going to beat through his chest. He almost wish she would just pull the trigger, just to end the agonizing wait.
But she never did. He wasn't sure how much time had passed, how long she'd stood there with the weapon trained at his head. But when he opened his eyes, wondering why he was still standing, why he was still alive, it was just in time to see her lower it once more. "No," she whispered.
As she turned away, his knees buckled and he dropped to the floor, gasping in ragged breaths as his eyes burned. He could feel the tears running down his cheeks and made no move to wipe them away. At this point he couldn't have cared less.
Faces flashed through his mind. His father, his mother, Callie, Maura. Sera, almost Sera. And thousands of others whose names he'd never known. All dead, all because of something he'd done.
And this was why they were here: so Sera could prove him guilty. This was why Alek's daughter had been shot at. This was why Wedge had been kidnapped. This was why Gavin had nearly died.
Because of him.
* * * * * * * *
Tycho padded around the hotel room. It was more than two hours before they needed to meet with Lana, but he'd been up for an hour already. He'd barely been able to fall asleep after seeing the recorded message from Wedge's captors, and the first time he'd woken up because of noises outside, he'd known there was no way he was getting back to sleep. There was so much going on, so much to keep his mind busy, and it was all a muddle.
There was Wedge. He didn't know who had their CO, but was willing to bet that the people responsible were at least connected to Alek Cesra, and that posed a significant problem, considering that Cesra was the one giving the New Republic a hard time.
He walked into the refresher and filled a glass of water, then walked back out inot the living room, setting it down on the table as he sat on the sofa. He leaned back, resting his head against the top of the couch back, and put his bare feet up on the table.
Then there was the second problem. Wes, Corran, and Karin were more or less out of contact, and essentially in enemy territory. Sure, they were away from the watchful eyes of NRI, but Cesra was probably even worse. Not to mention that if the Minister decided that he'd be better off with the three Rogues out of the picture, it was highly unlikely that the rest of them would be able to act in time.
Third came Hobbie. Something was seriously wrong there. He didn't know what it was, but there was definitely something that Hobbie wasn't telling them, and it had to do with Tierney. He wasn't sure how, and he wasn't sure that Hobbie did either. But Tierney figured in it somehow.
She was the fourth problem. He wasn't ready to compare Tierney to Tomer Darpen, but the flashbacks to Adumar were getting stronger everyday. They were working without a net, and the rope they were standing on was fraying more and more everyday. Maybe Tierney would prove him wrong in a few hours. But maybe the rope was about to snap underneath them.
He drained the glass and set it back down, stretching his back and arms. For having been sitting for fifteen minutes, he was extremely stiff. Getting old, Tycho, he told himself.
Then there were Corran and Karin. Something was going on there, and far be it for him to interfere in the Rogues' personal lives, but he had a very bad feeling about this. He'd know Mirax Terrik long before she was Mirax Terrik Horn and while his friendship with her was nowhere near a caliber to rival Wedge's, but he still felt protective of her. And it looked like Corran was heading in a direction that could only end with hurting his wife.
He shook his head, glancing out the window at the dawning light. Corran and Karin were hardly the biggest problem facing them right now, but they were certainly a complication they could all do without.
He stood and picked up the empty glass, walking with it toward the refresher. He'd take a long hot shower, then wake Gavin, and prepare to have it out with Tierney.
* * * * * * * *
Inyri sat on the floor in their sitting room, legs out to her sides, stretching first toward one foot and then to the other. Just as she straightened, she let out a gasp of pain. "Ah!" She felt pain shoot through her back as tears sprang to her eyes.
Blinking rapidly, she pulled her legs in slowly, wincing the whole time, and tried to stand, clenching her teeth. But the pain only increased and she couldn't straighten up, falling back to her knees. Right at that moment, the door opened and Landis walked in, just in time to see her hit the floor. "Inyri!"
"It's my back," she murmured, teeth still clenched. "I think…I think I pulled it stretching."
"Isn't stretching supposed to keep that from happening?"
"You're real funny," she muttered. "Really. You are."
He snickered. "I thought so. Which side?"
"Left." She tried to straighten again but gave a little whimper. "Force that hurts."
He knelt beside her and a second later she felt his hand on her stomach. Automatically, she stiffened, but he said, "Relax. My sister had back problems after her first son was born. I'd tell you how many times I had to pick her up off the floor, but I can't count that high."
She laughed in spite of herself. "That gives me great confidence in the men and women we have serving in NR-OH!" Her sentence ended in a gasp as he pressed - hard - against a specific spot on her back. She arched forward. "Force! I hate you!"
"Sure you do. Try to straighten up."
She nodded and, gingerly, sat up a little straighter. "That…that feels better. A lot better."
He came around to stand in front of her and reached a hand down to pull her up. As she got to her feet, she stepped forward and pressed lightly against his chest. "Thanks."
"My pleasure," he said with a grin.
"I bet," she retorted. "I…" He apparently had decided he'd heard enough of her voice because he silenced her, pulling her even closer and brushing his lips against hers.
Mirax_Corran - April 11, 2005 03:44 PM (GMT)
Oooo, the plot thickens.
And on my half-birthday, too!!
Jesina Dreis - April 11, 2005 05:10 PM (GMT)
The plot in this is ever-thickening...