Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chapter Seven: Mission Recruitment

“No”, Kalira responded.

Sentinel continued to stare at Vader. “I said, ‘get out’.”

Kalira looked straight at Sentinel. “No.”

“You would be well advised to do as Sentinel says.” Vader rumbled dangerously. His hand hovered over his lightsaber, ready to pull it free of his belt. His eyes never left Sentinel’s. Sentinel’s right hand was open, the fingers pointed at the bed, where her own lightsaber moved slightly.

Behind Vader, Kip cautiously bent down and dragged the still gasping Commander Javel out of the room. Kalira watched this, nodding to Kip briefly when she caught Kip’s eyes. Kip looked at her anxiously, and mouthed, “get out” to her. Kalira briefly shook her head.

Sentinel’s lightsaber twitched again on the bed, without actually leaving the bedspread. That was enough to trigger Vader’s reactions, and his saber leaped into his grip and ignited, humming, pointed loosely in Sentinel’s direction.

Kalira gasped as it ignited, and watched Sentinel react, calling her lightsaber to herself. It ignited on it’s way to her hand, and she held it at the ready.

The two red lightsabers seemed more real than anything else in the room, shining with an unholy light, a near intelligence.

Kalira unconsciously started to dig her fingernails into the palms of her hands.

Vader and Sentinel started to approach each other.

“Stop!” Kalira shouted.

“Do not interfere.” Vader warned.

“I will not leave so two people who love each other can have a little privacy while they kill each other!” Kalira growled.

Vader and Sentinel both turned to face Kalira.

“I don’t care if you are both trigger-happy Sith. I don’t care about your posturing, your need to prove which of you is in charge, which of you has the bigger… lightsaber! This is stupid, and it solves nothing!” Kalira yelled. She alternated between glaring at Vader, then Sentinel.

Vader glared down at Kalira. “You should keep your nose out of things that are none of your business…” he growled, taking a step towards her.

“Do you love Sentinel?” Kalira asked.

“Yes!” Vader said. “But she must be taught to respect me.”

“She already respects you. So all your teaching her is that if she has an argument with you, she can expect a fight to the death.” Kalira stated.

“This is not merely an argument. And this is still none of your business.” Vader hissed.

“You are ready to kill my backup singer. You’ve made it my business.” Kalira said. Her gaze was steady, her voice strong, with just the slightest quaver.

Sentinel watched this interchange with amazement. She had never seen anyone other than herself stand up to the Dark Lord.

Vader stalked over to Kalira. Before Vader reached Kalira, Sentinel moved to stand between the two. “She only wishes us to stop arguing. To remember that we are on the same side”, Sentinel said, her own anger practically forgotten, her lightsaber held in a slightly more relaxed but still defensive position.

Vader stopped, staring down at Sentinel. With great difficulty, he reigned in his anger.

“If only that were true, Sentinel.” Vader growled softly. He turned, switched off his lightsaber, found a chair in Sentinel’s room, and sank into it.

Kalira visibly relaxed when Vader sat down. Sentinel switched her lightsaber off, hooking it to her belt, and gave a long silent sigh.

Sentinel crossed the room to Vader, and got down on one knee, her hands on his thighs, palms down, looking up at him. “I’m not in any danger, m’Lord. Commander Javel’s men are trustworthy. And I have no intention of revealing who I am to the natives… I will be wearing a trooper uniform. I will keep my lightsaber out of sight.” She bit her lip. “And I have never stopped respecting you.”

Vader touched Sentinel’s cheek with his gloved hand, cupping her face. Sentinel leaned into his hand, closing her eyes.

“I would not fear for you so much if you were Sith. As it is, you trust others too easily. And you are far too willing to sacrifice yourself on lesser altars.” Vader rumbled.

“And the greater altar would be?”

“To assist me in overthrowing the Emperor. To rule by my side, and in so doing, to bring order to the galaxy.” Vader spoke very softly, aware that Javel was somewhere in the other room, and aware that Kalira was just across the room from them.

“So, I should ignore helping people now, so I can help more people later by ruling the Empire?” Sentinel asked, speaking just as softly.

“Yes! And the best way to attain the power necessary to rule is through the Dark Side! You simply must see that!” Vader said, his voice rising with the passion of his words, in spite of his desire to speak softly.

“I do see that the Dark Side is powerful, my Love. I also see that it bends and twists its users to its own will. And I don’t trust its will.”

“I can train you to control it, to control yourself.” Vader said, emphasizing his point by clenching his fist in front of her.

“To control my temper, the way you control yours?” Sentinel asked, a faint smile playing across her lips.

Vader growled. “Those slips of my temper are inconsequential to the benefits gained by my eventual rule. But I cannot attain that rule without your help.” Vader paused, and then spoke much more softly. “I cannot defeat the Emperor alone… without you.”

Sentinel sighed, and looked down at her hands, which were still in Vader’s lap. She took a deep breath. She spoke so softly it was almost a whisper. “You don’t think I can help you defeat the Emperor if I’m using the Light Side of the Force? You don’t think I will be strong enough?”

“No. You will not. He has easily faced down and killed several well-trained Jedi. He is nearly invincible.”

Sentinel stared at Vader’s mask as he spoke, trying to see past it to his eyes. To see into his soul. She swallowed and cleared her throat. “I will think about it, m’Lord. But I can’t promise anything. And before I even begin contemplating once more being a Sith, I have to help Commander Javel on this task.”

Vader was torn between relief that Sentinel was willing to at least try the Sith ways once more, and frustration that she was still willing to involve herself in this dangerous and reckless task. “Why did Javel ask you to handle this? Why not request help from his superiors? Why ask you to put yourself in danger? To expose your presence here?!” Vader asked.

Commander Javel chose that moment to re-enter the room. His complexion was ashen. Sentinel sensed great fear from the man, but also great courage.

“Why don’t I answer that question, Lord Vader. If I may”, Commander Javel said.

Sentinel rose to stand beside Vader.

Vader looked up at Javel. “Proceed, Commander.”

Commander Javel cleared his throat, his hand rising unconsciously to his collar. “Lord Vader, we’ve had problems before that I haven’t had sufficient men to handle locally. I made the mistake on 2 separate occasions to request help. In both cases, we had non-local people, members of the Black Sun, who were trying to setup business here. In both cases, they were frightened off by the influx of offworld stormtroopers, but not before the offworld troopers had tortured and killed innocent locals they incorrectly identified to have something to do with Black Sun.”

“In any struggle to be rid of a criminal element, sometimes innocents will be harmed…” Vader started.

Commander Javel interrupted Vader. “There was no reason for this harm to have occurred. These offworld troopers raped women… even girls as young as 10 years old… in order to try to extract information from innocent locals… innocent people who knew nothing, who had nothing to do with the Black Sun. My troopers are instructed not to oppress the local populace in their pursuit of justice. My troopers care about the people here. Many of my troopers are locals, having signed up to serve the Empire, and then having requested a post here. Those that have been sent to serve under me have been instructed thoroughly about respecting citizens’ rights. And they have been informed that if I hear that anyone’s rights have been abused, the troopers in question will be… dealt with.”

“So… since your own troopers were insufficient to find this murderer, and since outside troopers would, in your opinion, make the situation worse, you chose the help of someone you could trust who would hopefully be powerful enough to handle this murderer…” Vader rumbled.

“Yes, Lord Vader.” Commander Javel said.

Vader sat silently, thinking.

“What have you done, with your troopers and other personnel to ensure Sentinel’s safety?” Vader asked.

Javel cleared his throat again. “I have instructed them to talk to me first if they see anything unusual. And I also told them that the backup singer bears a striking resemblance to the wanted criminal Sasha Yod, but that they should pay that no mind, as it is a merely a resemblance.”

Sentinel added, “My band name is Jeru Cantel.”

“Jeru…” Vader said softly.

“Jeru was my great aunt’s name,” Sentinel said.

Javel continued. “I understand that I should have spoken to you first about this matter, Lord Vader. I felt this would be a simple matter for Sentinel to handle, considering her own power and finesse. I did not consider how it would give you cause for concern.” The Commander bowed his head slightly.

Vader rose. His lightsaber was still in his hand. He smoothly hooked it to his belt, and walked right past the Commander, to stand in the doorway. He turned to face Sentinel and the Commander.

“Who on this base can be sent with Sentinel and be trusted to keep her identity a secret? Eventually she will probably have to draw her lightsaber or use her Force abilities.” Vader asked.

“I wasn’t planning… I didn’t think that…” Javel started.

“I am going alone,” Sentinel stated.

“That is unacceptable.” Vader thought for a moment. “I am coming with you.”

“My lord!” Javel exclaimed.

“I’m coming too. Sasha, I can’t believe you were going to go face to face with some insane murderer without any kind of backup.” Kalira snarled.

“You are not combat trained.” Vader said.

“Actually, I was in the local police force on my home planet for 5 years after I finished school. How do you think I paid the bills while getting the band started?” Kalira said, smiling.

“I’m coming too.” Sal popped his head in. “I’ve got military experience. I served for five years under General Bisbain.”

“We can all wear trooper armor. And you, Lord Vader, can go as… uhm… you.” Kalira finished.

“I can’t allow this. I won’t let you all endanger yourselves.” Sentinel said.

“No, but you’ll expect all of us to allow you to endanger yourself.” Vader growled. “And besides, this isn’t a bad idea. They have combat experience. They can be trusted to keep your identity a secret. I believe they even already have armor they have borrowed….”

“Well, no, Sal, Kip, and Drej all have armor… but Sasha and I didn’t borrow any as we wore our gowns last night.” Kalira said.

“A problem easily fixed.” Commander Javel turned and spoke a quick message into a comlink he pulled off his belt. Once finished, he said, “Someone will be here very shortly with an assortment of uniform and armor pieces to try on. Although, I must admit, I have reservations about sending band members – even combat trained ones – on a mission.”

“You had no reservations about sending the woman I love alone into danger.” Vader rumbled dangerously. Sentinel blushed furiously and happily at Vader’s public admission of his love.

“I, uh…” Javel stuttered, then simply cleared his throat.

“Guys, this is too dangerous. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.” Sentinel said.

“Too late. They have volunteered, and I am officially accepting. Kip, will you be joining us? I don’t think we have a helmet that will fit your… your head…” Vader said.

“Meesa liking da idea an all, but someone needsa stay with Drej.” Kip responded.

“Then it’s settled. I shall lead the team, you three will accompany me as my escort.” Vader announced.

Sentinel sighed, shook her head, and then looked up with a wry grin. “Wait, how did this become your mission?”

“Because I’ve made it my mission.” Vader softly rumbled.


Blogger Kenya Starflight said...

Whew! Kalira and Javel defused a VERY volatile situation quite well...

I REALLY dislike these offworld troopers. Grrrrrr...

So now the band and their big groupie in black (had to say it, LOL) get to go face whatever this is... best of luck to them.

I really liked this chapter. Vader's emotions, both anger and concern, were portrayed very well.

My one nitpick is you spelled Drej's name wrong -- at one point you use "Dredge." Other than that, I didn't see any mistakes.


10/16/2006 7:06 AM  

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