The 0200-0500 watch was always the worst. Either youâd been up for hours already and
had only caught a wink of sleep or you hadnât slept at all and were just waiting for the
landscape to become light again. In either case, most menâs brains shut down in these
wee-hours of the morning. This day, the only thing keeping the two soldiers awake was
the stims in their Caf. Their faceplates were kept up so they could bring the hot drink to
their mouths. The exterior of the dark temple was as quiet and serene as possible, though
the sense of foreboding danger never quite dissipated from the hearts of those who
Little action had been seen here since the templeâs recapture at the end of the last Great
Jedi War. The Iron Throneâs forces, augmented by the might of the Foxtrot Uniforms
from each of the Great Clans, had decimated the unexpected Jedi enemy that had
annihilated the Yuuzhan Vong. Both soldiers were veterans of those campaigns. One, tall
and handsome, recalled fighting up the very steps he stood atop, running at a full tilt into
a wall of Jedi Padawan. He followed a Tarenti Elder, providing cover fire until they had
reached the top steps and declared a victory.
âDo you ever feel like we donât get paid enough?â The tall one looked over at his
partner, who while shorter was far more muscular.
âI canât say that I get paid anything.â
âWell, youâre an exception. Someoneâs gotta pay for that wreck you left in the
shadowlands. I mean the rest of us though. Think about it. I signed a twenty-year contract
with these guys in exchange for housing, food, and enough compensation to keep me
inebriated on shore leave.â
âYou almost sound like youâre bragging.â The tall one sipped at his caf as he stared out
into the pre-dawn.
âDonât get me wrong, Iâm not complaining, just thinking out aloud.â
âYeah? Well, you should do less of that.â
Again some silence ensued between the two old-hands. The tall one shifted the rifle
on his shoulder to the other side, letting it hang there from the strap. The shorter one
fidgeted some and after a slight hesitation, nodded to his comrade before disappearing
behind a pillar. The trickle of liquid was easily audible in the early morning stillness. A
minute later the man returned and resumed his watch.
âI was just thinking.â The short one said after few minutes of quiet.
âI thought we talked about that alreadyâ¦â
âYeah, yeah, just listen. It doesnât take a Jedi to see the way things have been going.â
The tall one looked down at his partner and cocked an eyebrow questioningly, âWhat?â
âI mean it, youâre no idiotâ¦â The shorter of the two started.
ââ¦I could have told you that.â The short man ignored the interruption and continued
ââ¦you must be able to see it. The Clans are at each otherâs throats. So are the
Councilors. Cpl. Praestin says he was on leave last month when he overhead some
Foxtrot Uniform from one of the Clans bragging about his buddy stabbing a Sith from
another while naked before sabotaging their refinery.â
âYouâre going to believe that some Foxtrot-gorram-Uniform took his pants off and
âIâm not saying I do, not saying I donât. Fact is though, there are reports out of the
Dajorra System that suggest a massive explosion took place.â
The Tall man remained quiet, finally getting what his partner was hinting at. War. It
had been a few years since theyâd last seen major combat and no one was eager to see
it again. Still this was way above their pay grade. He wondered why the guy was so
âOk, suppose one of the clans did loose a refinery or something. Why difference does
that make to us?â
âYouâre not seeing the big picture though. They all hate each other and tensions are rising
my friendâ¦itâs only a matter of time.â
âUntil what exactly?â The tall one didnât want to think about it. They werenât paid to
think about it.
âMy point is that the Clans are reaching a breaking point. They will lash out at one
another and Darth Ashen will have to come down on them. Guess who will be the
instrument of his righteous fury? Us. Iâm not ready to fight against anymore Jedi. I nearly
didnât make it through the last one.â
âSo more money would make that better?â
The short man sized his battle-buddy up with a long, measured stare, âHow long you got
left in your contract?â
A little confused, the tall man hesitated before answering, âTwelve years or soâ¦ Why?â
âWhat if I told you that I knew a way out. A way out of this world, out of this life?â
âOf sorts. Letâs just say I was introduced recently to a man who has big plans. Heâs
promised to take care of us if we perform some small favors for him when the time
Three screeches pierced the night while simultaneous flashes of light emanated from
the Tall manâs weapon. Adrenaline coursed through his veins violently stimulating
every survival instinct in his body to readiness. The short man lay dead on the ground,
clutching his holdout blaster. Taking a moment to ensure the traitor was dead, the Tall
man called in to his superiors.
âThis is Spc. Garand Halsey, on watch: South Entrance. I need an immediate response
team to my position, non-critical. Alert the Master-At-Arms, we may have Womp-Rats.â
âCan you feel it?â
Eiko looked his Aedile in the face, with his own eyes, âI have. War is coming. What
concerns me most however is that despite all our work, the Jedi on New Tython still
exist, and if the latest intel is correct, theyâre in negotiations with the traitor.â
James studied his Quaestorâs face, or at least what he could discern through the light scarf
wrapped around it. It was a rare occasion indeed when he saw the Templar without his
mask. Here, in the cantina it would have attracted too much attention so it had been left
behind. The Aedile could see little beneath the scarf leading him to wonder what it was
that the man was hiding.
âI want you to post additional assets in each of the Clan and House Systems,â Eiko
continued, âWe have to know what is going on before they do.â
âAgreed. Iâve dispatched Sapharia, Dacien, and Valorian to buff our current assets. Iâll
follow up on that tonight.â
âGood. Iâll begin calling in the favors weâve earned, see if I canât secure us some relative
safety from fleet action.â
James stood and downed the remainder of his drink, âWill that be all?â
âYes. Oh, one more thing: ensure all operatives have reviewed the directives concerning
a Mynock Contingency. If that happens, weâll enact the Raken Protocol and go to
âYes, My Quaestor.â
The explosion shook the transport hard as it lifted off. A dozen or so Initiates glued
themselves to the windows to watch a ship disintegrate as their own vessel moved off in
the opposite direction towards New Tython.
A lone cloaked figure stared out a window at the carnage that ensued. A sigh escaped
his lips as he lowered his head; disappointed in the loss of such a fine ship and its crew.
Another explosion rocked the transport bringing forth an abrupt intake of breath from the
startled Initiates that shuddered through the vessel in a sudden wave.
The Fallen Spear appeared momentarily as whispers swept through the transport ship
among the Initiates that recognized it before moving evaporating under the power of its
The lone figured moved off to a quiet part of the transport unit and extracted a
communicator from his robes. He typed in a quick messageâ¦
Coded message for Loiraâ¦
Rendezvous at 0800, New Tythonâ¦
He sent off the message then returned the comm. to his robes. Liu looked briefly at the
Headmasterâs lightsaber he had won before settling in for the trip to New Tython.
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