The battered hull of the CR90 corvette Argo emerged from
hyperspace in the Vergesso Asteroids, the dorsal hull was pot-marked
with impact craters from the shuttle debris. The dorsal turbolaser was
offline and the sensor array was non-functional, not exactly the type of
situation they wanted to find themselves in an asteroid field with.
"Steady as she goes," Derek instructed as he saw the asteroids come into
view through the port. The laser cannons began firing, explosions
erupting all around as a path was cleared through the field. Flying
through visual reference, the flight controller navigated the ship
through a winding, hazardous maze of asteroids before coming upon the
bulk of the Rebel fleet. "Bring us alongside the Comfort," Derek
ordered as he spotted the larger EF76 Nebulon-B flagship. He sunk into
his seat, dreading the encounter as he nervously watched the craft
maneuver beneath the frigate. Turning perpendicular, the corvette
elevated itself beneath the
frigate and the dorsal hatch connected to the ventral hatch of the
frigate. Both vessels shook for a moment, as he nervously adjusted his
collar. Once coupled, he exhaled in a deep and noticeable sigh of
"Your Mom? I though that was the back side of a Hutt laying on top of
six Wookiees and an opera singer!" Seekith and the two prisoners in the
brig erupted in laughter as he finished his joke. They had been telling
dirty jokes for almost half an hour now. At this point, almost everyone
on the ship had heard his jokes except for his two new captives. With
little else for a commando to do while a spaceship is in transit,
Seekith had found a way to amuse himself. As if on cue, he heard the
docking of the Argo with the Comfort and stood up, "Well
that looks like that is all for today. I'm probably gonna have to knock
you out now and then prepare for several hours of torturing you, so uh
Complications...there were always complications. Just when she
thought things were making logical sense...Alanya sat upon one of the
cargo crates, having just finished one of her marathon workouts. She
ignored the sweat that dribbled from her brow, staring down at the
deckplates and their reflection of the illumination above them. Nothing
was as easy or as simple as she had thought it was forty-eight hours
earlier. Now, everything had changed, and she was not sure if it was for
the better...or the worse. She wished Sha'lin was awake...but the
Twi'lek was still asleep as far as she knew, another trooper having
taken over guard duties. The heel of black booted feet bounced off the
sides of the cargo crate as she let her feet dangle off the edge,
just...staring. She was clothed in a pair of black assault pants, the
various pockets and pouches mostly empty at the moment. Dark grey
tank-top allowed air to brush along her bare arms, the stale recycled
smell not helped by the addition of her sweat. Black short-sleeved zip
up flight jacket lay next to her on the container, as well as her near
constant companion, that small black rectangular assault backpack she
always seemed to carry around. Blue eyes seemed lost, in another
place...another time perhaps.
General Vernan descended through the hatch, moving from
the Comfort to the Argo with slight ease. For the head of
Alliance Intelligence to make a visit such as this, something out of the
ordinary had to be occurring. He had been alerted to the ship's mission
and the data it was now carrying. Although he was very pleased, he
maintained a stoic impression as he walked through the corridors looking
at the extent of the damage. "Pity," he muttered to himself as he
stepped into the turbolift before descending down to Deck 3. Once there,
he made the short transit to the Meeting Room where he was pleased to
find Commander Atio already waiting.
Commander Atio nodded politely to the general, before thumbing down
on the intercom. "Commandos please report to the meeting room," he
instructed in a monotone voice. He was never comfortable hearing his
voice through the loudspeaker. He looked to the General and cleared his
throat nervously, his hands awkwardly fumbling around as he waited.
Alanya sat up, and grabbed her jacket. Slipping off of the edge of
the container she pulled it on. Zipping it up she glanced back towards
her pack which she picked up, slinging over one shoulder as she headed
towards the stairs, passing by the freight turbolift as it only operated
on this lower deck and the very uppermost deck. She moved up the stairs
quickly, legs churning as she took two or three at a time, climbing up
from Deck 6 to Deck 5, and only then did she move to one of the central
turbolifts, heading up the last two decks of her journey to Deck 3 as
she exited and turned left, heading around the corner behind the
turbolifts and towards the meeting room. Passing through the door she
almost did a double take, seeing General Vernan there.
Immediately she snapped to salute. "Sir. Trooper Alanya Rockturne
reporting as ordered, sir." She said, crisply, staring at one of the
bulkheads. Something was up, that was for certain...
Seekith was just a few steps behind Alanya. He too stepped up into a
tight salute as he spotted the captain. "Corporal Seekith Shardin.
General Vernan nodded to the familiar young woman, and
greeted her with a kind smile. He turned to the large Cathar and nodded
politely. "Well gentlemen," he began, "Shall we get started?" Being a
superior rank he felt comfortable usurping the Commander and exerting
his authority. "I believe you have something that belongs to me..." He
said to the Commander. His eyes scanning towards the datapad.
"Oh," Derek said as he grabbed hold of the datapad that contained the
comm traffic they had obtained from the Communications Relay Station the
other day. "Here you are, sir," he said, never being good at the whole
chain of command. On 'his' ship 'he' liked to give the orders, but ne
dutifully handed the datapad over.
Seekith raised a quizzical eyebrow as he glanced to Alanya. His look
seemed to say that he had no idea what was going on.
General Vernan looked at the datapad intently, his eyes glaring down
at the screen as he scrolled through it rapidly. He seemed to phase out
for a moment, oblivious that others were in the room. It would take
weeks, perhaps longer, for his staff to sort through these communication
logs. Something was clearly afoot involving Grand Moff Tarkin, but
whether or not there was anything tangible here would be difficult to
assess. "Did you look through this?" he asked the Commander, but
answered for him before he could reply, "No. You wouldn't have? Would
you?" The General was not an admirer of Commander Atio and would have
preferred to see someone more experienced in the command.
"Did you review Sergeant Judah's report, sir?" Commander Atio asked
the General, as he ignored the insult. He turned his head to the side
slightly, breaking eye contact for the time being. He cleared his throat
as he fought back the urge to comment further.
"Yes," the General replied in the simplest of manners. "I understand
she was," he paused for a moment to find the most diplomatic of words,
"...'displeased' with Trooper Rockturne's performance." The General
again paused, deciding how much he needed to inform the junior officer.
Finally, he decided that it was his prerogative to tell him 'nothing'
and that was precisely what he intended to do. "As an Infiltrator," he
continued, "Trooper Rockturne is often assigned tasks that go beyond
normal mission parameters. What those tasks are ... are 'not' your
concern, Commander." He nodded politely to the Trooper before returning
his gaze to the Commander, "Is that understood?"
Alanya remained unmoving, even when her name was used. Her hands
stayed clasped behind the small of her back, her eyes still staring a
hole in the bulkhead in front of her as she listened to the conversation
that was going on. Her eyes moved just slightly, glancing over to the
General as he nodded at her. She inclined her head slightly before her
eyes returned forward, stopping for a moment upon Commander Atio before
they resumed their gaze forward, wondering perhaps how he might take
that, or out of simple curiosity.
"Understood, sir," a demoralized Derek replied to the General
obediently. He squirmed noticeably as he turned his head back to the
General and put on his best, diplomatic smile.
"Now then, General Vernan continued as he looked around the room. "It
was a job well done," he said not just to Commander Atio, but the entire
crew, "But it will only be getting more difficult from this point on.
You will be receiving new personnel while you make repairs here in the
asteroids." He nodded to them all and then exited the room. "Good luck,"
he said as he exited the conference room to return to his ship. He was
optimistic, the Argo was developing an impressive service record
and was becoming a unit he could depend on.
Derek's attention turned to Alanya once the General had left, taking
a seat at the conference table to try and cool off a bit. "Could have
warned me about that," he said to her as looked down at the conference
table, rubbing the fingers of his left hand across his right hand
uncomfortably as he considered what the General had said.
Seekith raised his hand as he looked between Alanya and the captain,
"Permission to have the whole encounter explained to me as if I'm a
child. What did he mean 'we can utilize her in specific tasks'?"
Alanya would have to speak to General Vernan later. Instead she
remained at attention, not saying anything in response to Commander
Atio's dismay at the encounter with General Vernan. She thought it had
gone better than she had expected. She glanced over at Seekith, before
glancing back forwards.
"It means," Derek said to Seekith as if Alanya was not present, "That
she is serving two masters." His eyes peered to her, looking her over
more cautiously than he had before. He knew from the moment he met her
that she was an 'unusual' sort, but he assumed that it came with her
role as an Infiltrator and never assumed it could possibly be something
such as this.
"Great," Seekith explained loudly as if he really meant it, though
obviously sarcastic. "So that means mid mission she may have to switch
to take over her other master's wishes and leave her unit high and dry,
and possibly in a dangerous situation. Gotta' love the workings of a
rebellion. Just proves the you're never to small for political bantha
Alanya spoke aloud. "If the mission parameters demand it." She said
before her blue eyes shifted to Seekith for a long moment, before going
back to Commander Atio. "And we all only serve one 'master', Sir. And
that is Mon Mothma." She pointed out, although in a rather diplomatic
fashion. Pointing out that the Chief of State was also Commander in
Chief of the Alliance Military. She kept her face impassive, lips
pressed slightly together.
Derek looked at Seekith, realizing he was feeding into the animosity
and that it needed to stop. "I spoke out of turn, Trooper," he said
dejectedly, "...and I am sorry." He sighed and turned his head to Seekith, "She is only following orders ... as we 'all are. We cannot
place the fault on her." He was uncomfortable with having someone in a
dual role aboard the ship, but he would no longer share those thoughts
and feelings in public.
Seekith paused to let out a long sigh before continuing, "Understood.
Permission to go torture some prisoners? I mean transfer them over the
"All but the Twi'lek," Commander Atio instructed the Cathar heavy
weapons specialist. He had plans for her and would not be giving up such
a valuable asset to command given their upcoming series of missions. If
he could convert her, she would prove a valuable asset. If not, he could
turn her over to command at a later time.
Seekith nodded before departing.
Alanya opened her mouth to say something else. But closed it again as
Commander Atio answered her question for her and she glanced over at
Seekith again before looking back at the Commander. "Sir. May I have
permission to board the Comfort, sir? I have need to speak with
someone aboard, sir." She said, unsure if he would try to obstruct her
now or not.
"Permission granted, Trooper," Commander Atio said to her, as he
looked her over one last time. He then looked away, his thumb on his
left hand rubbing over his knuckles gently. He was in a state of deep
contemplation about the current situation. He would discuss it with
Captain Tong once he completed his assignment and get his thoughts on
Alanya nodded her head and turned, walking from the meeting room and
out into the hallway, headed towards the turbolift as she was trying to
catch up with the General. Something she hadn't filed a report about as
she had intended to slip it into the next burst transmission, but since
the opportunity presented itself for a face to face meeting, she was
going to take it. After a short ride in the turbolift she headed to the
airlock to cross into the Neubulon-B frigate...the General would want to
hear about this.
On the Comfort, General Vernan turned as heard the young woman
approaching. "Trooper," he said as he looked to her, his eyes darting up
and down the corridor to see who else might be present. "Do they
suspect?" he asked her, not going into specifics for reasons too obvious
to mention, even in private.
Alanya shook her head. "No sir. They do not.." She said, before
continuing. "But there is a...complication sir." She said, glancing up
at the General as she spoke. Not sure of how much detail she wanted to
go into...about Sha'lin. She kept her eyes watching the General,
wondering if this was the right thing to do.
"I do not like 'complications,' Trooper," General Vernan said in an
authoritative tone as his hand clenched 'round the datapad. He looked
down at her, his eyes cautiously going over her. It had better not be
anything serious. Too much time and resources had been invested in
establishing this operative.
Alanya stared at the General for a long moment. Suddenly thoughts
entered her mind, thoughts that had never been there before. Did he
really have her best interests...the best interests of her kind at
heart? Or where they pawns...just as much as they might be for the
Empire? Just another asset to accomplish a mission. It had seemed so
clear at the start...and now the waters were muddied. Would things be
any better is the Rebellion prevailed? Somehow, all of this came to her
just by looking at the General's face. His anger at the fact that
something might interfere with the operation had somehow cut to the core
of her very...self. It was hard to find, but it was there, buried deep
under protective layers. Her mouth opened but then closed again as she
took a moment longer to think, before she spoke again. "...It is nothing
too important, sir. I believe I can handle it without outside
assistance." She had made a choice...a conscious choice to betray
something she had pledged herself too. It was just a small step in a
direction that she was unsure of...where did it lead? She was not
sure...but she felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her
shoulders. She would not say a word.
"That's good, Trooper," the General said as he looked her over,
admiring the young woman. "We have high hopes for your continued success
aboard the Argo," he confidently explained to her, "...and 'we'
would be very displeased if anything were to jeopardize that." He nodded
to her, believing her assessment that she had the situation well in
hand. He was confident in her abilities, after all, he had 'personally'
seen to her training.
Alanya nodded her head slightly. "Yes sir. I will not let you down,
sir." She wasn't sure if that was a lie or not, but she was able to make
it more than believable. She tried to figure out why she could not tell
him the truth, about what she knew, about Sha'lin and about her mission.
But she could not...something ate at her. Nibbled at her from the
inside, that small voice that told her that not everything was appeared,
and that her goals might no longer be the same as those that nominally
commanded her. "I had better head back to the Argo, sir, before
Commander Atio starts to become suspicious, sir." She said, suddenly
eager to end this visit.
"If there is nothing further..." General Vernan said to her, the tone
of his voice indicating that he wished to end the conversation as well.
He nodded to her, and then proceeded down the corridor where he intended
to spend the remainder of his evening going over the data from the
communication relay stored in the datapad.
Alanya watched him walk off. She turned away, walking back towards
the airlock to board the Argo once again. Instead of resolving
the doubts she was having the meeting had only reinforced them, made
them deeper. She had taken a small step today, but who was to say she
could not go back? She could go back, she convinced herself. But did she
want too...would she ever want to?
With all personnel safely back aboard the Argo, the CR90
corvette detached from the umbilical docking hatch and maneuvered a safe
distance away. Now on the bridge, a more reserved Commander Atio watched
through the viewport as two asteroids slammed into one another in a
brilliant explosion of light. There was still great beauty to be had in
the galaxy it would seem, but as the war raged on it began to take an
increasing toll on the former cruise line engineer. He lowered his head,
scanning over the younger faces all around. "This was a young man's
game," he thought silently to himself as his thoughts dwelled on his
less-than hospitable encounter with General Vernan.