“Orders” (Malavai)

Note #1: Nayel is Malavai’s cousin, known widely as Darth Nox

Note #2: The story takes place after the Wrath disappeared but before Malavai Quinn was imprisoned by Lorman.

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“Captain, Darth Milaris on holo.”

Captain Malavai Quinn looked at his second in command. “I’ll take it in my office, Lieutenant,” he replied, and headed for his room.

He didn’t think himself a coward but that Sith terrified him. She seemed to be worse than the sadist Lord Hargrev. No Imp life had any value to her beyond its practical usefulness. He was never a paranoid person but in this case he was certain Lorman transferred him to her service just to get him killed for refusing to abandon his search of the Wrath… his beloved wife. This fruitless assignment was no doubt also a piece of the same pattern to keep him away from the investigation. Not that it would work, Quinn swore.

He activated the holo, and bowed. “My lord.”

“Good, you’re here. I’m sending you co-ordinates.” She tapped something on her datapad, and his interface blinked, informing him of the information being received. He confirmed safe receipt, and his attention returned to her. “You will go over there, and destroy the small armada that is stationed over there.”

“An armada, my lord?” He was in command of a destroyer, not a frigate, but could he take an armada?

“Don’t fret, moron! It’s just a few small ships. And I want them gone! Report back to me when you’re done!” With that, she disconnected.

He frowned. He was tired of patrolling, and wanted to return to his search, but as much as he wanted to take on a few Republic ships, he was not sure he wasn’t being sent on a suicide mission. He was able to bite, and perhaps that was the only result Milaris expected, even if they all died outnumbered in the end.

He returned to the bridge with a datapad in his hand. “Helm, take us to these co-ordinates,” he ordered.

He stood behind the helmsman with his hands behind his back, and watched the main console. As soon as they left hyperspace, he looked up at the viewer, and what he saw in front of him made his heart skip a bit.

“Captain?” Lieutenant Thane look at him, surprised.

“Captain, their turbolasers are targeting us!” the tactician shouted.

“Captain?” Thane’s voice, and expression was on the verge of panic.

Quinn’s fury was endless, but he covered it.

They were looking at a couple of Imperial ships. Ships that seem to expect them, and understand what they’d come for.

“Thane, call all senior staff to my office. On the double!”

He turned on his heel, and headed back to his room.

He sat at his desk, and started writing a message to his cousin.

Nayel,

I’m going to get myself in serious trouble now that, most likely, will cost me my life. So be it. I’m only asking you to protect my crew. Most of them won’t even understand what’s happening, let alone be guilty of any wrong doing. It’s all on me.

Tell Mili to take care of Nil’awr. Help him. Find my son’s mother.

Malavai

He hit “send”, then moved to the conference table, and waited for his senior staff to arrive.

It didn’t take long for all of them to be present.

“Coming here, you all saw the ships outside.” They all nodded. “They are Imperials. They are us. When I received orders to report at these co-ordinates, I assumed we would be facing Republic troops, not our own.”

“Damn Sith infighting caught up with us,” Lieutenant Daks muttered.

Normally Quinn would react to it harshly, but this time Daks was fully justified in her assessment, regardless of how disrespectfully she phrased it.

“I will be blunt: I am going to disobey these orders.” He gave them a moment for the information to sink in, then continued, “Each of you has the right to protest, and not follow me in this. Court martial is certain, unless Lord Milaris kills me before the military can punish me. Your disagreement will be duly noted, recorded in your file, and an escape pod made available to you to leave, and avoid being present when this happens.” Another pause. “I will not look down on any of you, if you decide to take that option. The decision is mine, and you should not pay its price.” Pause. “If you want to leave, do it right now.”

Nobody moved. Bannik and Rot-nar looked at each other, but apart from that there was no reaction from anyone. He waited. He knew it was sudden, and their decision shouldn’t be rushed or pressed.

“Captain, I think we all made our minds,” Thane said eventually.

“Are you certain?” he asked, looking at all faces. More nodding. Serious expressions. They knew what they were getting themselves into. He was proud of them.

“In addition, I intend not to inform any more of the crew of our situation. They follow our orders, they don’t disobey, they do their jobs. The fault is mine. The orders are mine.” His voice softened. “I hope it can protect them.”

“Agreed,” Thane said.

“Are you all sure of that? It could be end of your careers,” he warned. He hoped Nayel’s position in the Dark Council would be able to protect them, but there was no guarantee.

“I’d rather lose my rank and uniform than fire at our own in the middle of the war with the Republic!” Rot-nar barked.

“Hear, hear!” Bannik supported the sentiment.

“My thoughts exactly,” Quinn nodded. “Return to your duties.”

Everyone started filing out of the room. Thane stayed behind.

“Captain…”

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

“It’s a good decision.”

He gave her an attentive look. “It will have a very high price tag attached to it.” Then walked to the bridge with her following him.

“They’re still targeting us, Captain,” the tactician reported.

“Hail them.”

A holo of the other captain popped in front of him. “So, what’s it gonna be, Captain?” he asked.

“Unless you have no choice, leave. Go patrol some other sector. Just… don’t be here.”

The other one observed him for a while. Then he said something to someone next to him. Quinn couldn’t make it out.

“Sir, their turbolasers are powering down.”

“No Imperial blood will be shed today,” the other captain said. Not yours, anyway, Quinn thought bitterly. “I’ll remember that about you. Captain Kim out.”

The other ships jumped to hyperspace. “Start patrolling the sector,” Malavai ordered. If the others were here on patrol, it could be a strategically important sector, and he had just sent away its protectors. The least he could do was taking over their task.

Now all he could do was waiting for the hell to break lose.

The wait wasn’t as long as he had expected. A couple of hours later a Fury, exactly the same class that always pulled his heart strings, and reminded him of his great loss, jumped out of hyperspace. She docked with his ship.

“Thane, clear corridors leading from the airlock to the bridge of all personnel.”

She nodded, understanding. Milaris would not lash out on anyone, if no one was around.

The Sith stormed the bridge. Her red eyes shone with fury, as she quickly walked to the front of the spacious room.

“I received no report of the enemy destruction!” she boomed.

“No, my lord,” he replied calmly. “Upon our arrival at these co-ordinates, we found no enemy to be destroyed.”

“Don’t lie to me, worm! They were here!”

“There were two Imperial warships, but no enemy.”

Her expression slightly changed. She understood he wasn’t trying to lie to her, but had made a statement.

“I tell you who your enemies are, worm!”

“With all due respect,” he began, making sure it was clear from his tone there was no respect at all, since she was not due any, “my highest duty is to the Empire. Attacking other Imperial ships is treason, and I am not a traitor.” Just kill me already, and be done with it, he thought.

She fumed for a long moment, then seemed to come to a conclusion. She whispered something to one of her apprentices, who was right next to her. He went to one of consoles, and started tapping. This didn’t bode well.

“Now you will pay the price for this insolence!” she barked.

He expected to be Force-choked but no such thing happened. Thane gave him a look that asked ‘what is she up to?’ He had no answer to that.

The apprentice left the bridge. Milaris just stood there, not doing anything. Waiting.

Quinn’s heart was beating hard. He knew whatever was coming, was going to be horrible.

He had no idea how horrible.

The apprentice returned with fifteen unlisted crewmen. They were brought to Milaris, and ordered to stand in a row. Their facial expressions were a mix of fear, and uncertainty. None of them had ever been on the bridge before, they were the lowest ranking people in Quinn’s crew. Bottom of the bottom of the chain of command.

Milaris took her lightsaber, cut three down, then slowly Force-choked the forth.

“My lord, they didn’t do anything wrong,” the captain tried to reason with her. “The decision was mine. They were not involved in —”

“That is the point,” she cut him off. “You will be here, and watch me kill every one of your crew for your disobedience. Killing you wouldn’t make you suffer enough. Killing them should be torturous, if I interpret your weakness correctly.”

He made a step toward her, not really knowing what he could do to stop her, but had to halt or be impaled on the lightsaber her apprentice pointed at him.

“Yes, it’s his fault you’re dying,” she told the crewmen, pointing at Quinn. Then one by one killed them all. “Bring me another batch,” she said coldly, and her other apprentice left the bridge.

He started to panic, desperately trying to find a way to save them, but his mind was empty. He was forced to watch in horror as she was bringing his men to the bridge to murder them. They didn’t even know why they were being slaughtered.

He didn’t register another ship appearing in space. He was barely noticing the lightsaber tip at this throat. The only thing he was seeing was faces of her victims. He wondered if she would kill him last to end his misery, or leave him alive to live with his heavy, bleeding conscience.

Suddenly she grabbed at her throat, gasping loudly for air, her legs kicking the air.

“I don’t like what you’re doing!” Nayel’s voice roared. His closed his fist, and Milaris fell dead on the floor. One third of Quinn’s crew too late.

Her apprentices were disposed of even faster.

The captain approached the bodies of his murdered crew. What was he going to tell their families?

“I came as fast as I could,” Nayel said quietly behind his back.

“Thank you. You saved many Imperial lives today.”

The Sith looked at the bodies. “This carnage has to end,” he growled. “Those idiots tear up the Empire from the inside, helping the Pubs in their task.”

Quinn didn’t say anything but he couldn’t agree more.

“Who’s your power base’s commander?”

The captain gave him the name. “Why?” he asked.

“I’m absorbing you. I killed Milaris, her possessions are now mine. You included,” he pointed at Quinn, and smiled slightly. “I needed to know whom I inform of this.” He paused. “What got you into this, anyway?”

“She ordered me to attack another Sith’s power base. To destroy other Imperial ships.”

“That’s treason in my book. She has been lawfully executed.” He looked at her body, stretched on the stairs of the bridge’s front. “Some more cleaning is necessary.”

Quinn knew what that meant. Killing other Sith. Sith infighting continues. Nothing changes. With Imperial lives caught in between.

But at least for today it was over.

He looked at dead bodies again. For some… it was over permanently.

oOo

“Admiral,” Quinn entered his superior’s office, walking briskly, and not hiding his irritation. “I have been informed that none of my letters to the families of the murdered crew were forwarded to their recipients.”

“That’s right.”

“May I know why?”

“I assume you told them the truth.”

“They deserve to know it.”

“No, captain. The truth is too ugly. A mid-ranking Imperial officer defied a Sith’s direct order, and lived through it only because having a more powerful Sith is his family. The Sith don’t want that known. It’s not good for ‘morale’. Nor is good the knowledge that one Sith sends her warships to attack another, pulling them out of war zone, and risking safety of the Empire.”

Quinn was stunned. “You’re going to lie?”

“It’s done, Quinn. Accept it. Write letters that say they bravely died in the line of duty, and they’ll be delivered. It’s better for the Empire’s morale.”

He disagreed but had his orders. “Yes, sir.” He knocked his heels, turned, and left the office, but already began plotting how to smuggle the true information out. Such cover-ups were not good for the Empire, and he would not stand idly and let them spread to do more damage.

Upon returning to the ship he asked Thane, “Can you find me the official information on the… incident?”

“Right away, sir.”

It took her a short time to put a figure on the holo. She activated it, and a recorded message was played.

Quinn recognised the figure immediately.

“Pierce…” he growled. “That propaganda tube! Calls me a bootlicker, but happily spreads fabricated lies because he’s told to. No personal courage whatsoever!”

He switched off the holo, and returned to composing another request to officially allow him search for the Empire’s Wrath. Lorman had to agree to it eventually.

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