“Are you utterly out of your mind?” I asked once I could catch my breath.
Ged smiled and settled back in his chair. “No, I don’t believe so.”
“You can’t expect me to believe that you seriously want to go to Coruscant to infiltrate the Imperial palace to look for secret prisons?”
“Belief or not it needs to be done. Extracting Jarack Behl is not just something I want to do it’s something I must do.”
“He is one of our best covert agents and he has information vital to my mission.”
“Which is?” I interrupted.
“That’s need to know and ...”
“And what...I don’t need to know?” I finished for him. I got up to pace around the room and sighed. “You know what Thrawn told me I would be doing here? He told me that I would be fixing ships not flying into enemy territory. If you want me to go with you on some crazy hell bent mission of mercy I had better damned well know why.”
“I thought that you knew Jarack?” Ged asked ignoring my sarcasm. “Thrawn told me you were close with the man.”
“Does Thrawn know what you want to do? What you want me to do?” I avoided his question because he was right.
“No I felt that given how shall I put this, how protective of you he is it would be better if he did not have this to worry about while he was trying to reclaim the Empire.”
“Great.” I muttered under my breath. “Ged, you cannot seriously be planning this.”
“I can, I am and I am asking for your help.”
I stared at him for a very long time assessing his words and weighing what he was suggesting with just turning around and heading back to Nirauan. I knew he was right about Jarack and that he was also my friend, a friend whom I had given up for dead was really alive and imprisoned by the enemy. While I might argue loudly I had already made my mind up but I also knew that Thrawn would not be happy about this, not at all. He had sent me here with the idea of keeping me out of harm’s way not so that I could fly straight into the heart of enemy territory.
“So you have a plan?” I eventually asked.
“More or less. It will depend on your knowledge of the palace.”
I nodded, “Okay well then I need to get some things from my ship and I will need a data pad.”
Ged smiled picked up the one which had been sitting on the tray and handed it to me. “It has already been coded to you.”
“How wonderful.” I took it. “Give me an hour.”
“I have some work to attend to anyway so let me know when you are done. We can meet for supper in my private dining room. It’s so much more civilised to discuss plans over good food, don’t you think? We have an excellent chef on board. Do you have any preferences?”
“No Corellian spiced cake.” I told him.
He gave me a smile that lit up his whole face and I suddenly remembered how handsome he was. He opened his mouth to say something then thought the better of it.
“What is it?” I asked.
He pursed his lips for a moment then said, “I wanted to say I was sorry.”
“I heard from your doctor when he transferred copies of all your medical files about your miscarriage. I’m sorry.”
“Ah.” I said suddenly having to swallow down a sharp pang of sorrow.
“You should have told me you know.” He pressed. “That the reason you refused the mission I was offering was legitimate.”
I felt a little flash of anger. “I should not have to justify anything to you. I am a civilian. I do not have to do anything you ask me nor do I have to tell you about any private medical information. My just saying no is a legitimate answer and if you don’t like that then you need rethink your strategy about having me help you.”
He stared at me for a second and then nodded. “Yes, of course. Forgive me.”
I looked at him. “You need to know I would have refused to help you regardless of being pregnant or not. I made a promise that I wouldn’t just run off and do stupid stuff anymore so what you are asking me to do is not only save a friend but betray a promise I made to my bond mate.”
“I understand.” He drew a deep slow breath then nodded slightly. “All the same I am sorry about your child.”
I had to clamp down on my sudden and inexplicable fury. “Ged, I like you, I really do, but you need to listen to me and really understand what I am about to say okay?”
“Do not bring up the topic of my baby again, do you understand me? Not ever.” I spoke through gritted teeth and my fury rolled off me in waves. I know he felt this because he took an involuntary step back from me.
“Okay then.” I said relieved. “Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get to work.” And before either of us could say anything else I spun around and stalked off to the docking bay furious without knowing exactly why.
Later after I had retrieved the data from my ship’s on-board computer and had unpacked my stuff into my new quarters I made my way to Ged’s dining room mentally preparing for dinner.
The meal was very good and the conversation polite and inoffensive. Once we were done eating, the dishes all cleared away and the stewards dismissed leaving us with a large caraf of fresh stim’caf we got down to business.
I placed the datapad on the table and turned it on. “These are blue prints of the Imperial palace including the hidden passages and secret places.”
“Do I even want to know how you came by these?” Ged asked.
“They were a gift from the late Emperor.” I told him flatly.
Ged gave me an ‘are you kidding me’ look.
“It’s a very long story and maybe one day I will get drunk enough to tell you but not now.” I said shuddering at the memory of the man who had once terrified me.
Ged nodded, “The intel that I have says that there is a secret prison somewhere deep under the Imperial palace and that is where the rebels detain their most highly prized prisoners.” He said. “We at least had the good grace to keep ours in a secret prison ship somewhere other than the palace.”
I shot him a look but kept my opinions on that to myself. “I don’t recall any secret detention centers but that doesn’t mean they are not there. It could be the rebels converted space in one of the subbasements for that use. I thought they were touting themselves as the good guys. Don’t they have this big campaign about not being like the Empire? ” I couldn’t keep the bitterness out of my voice as I said those words.
“The good guys?” Ged snorted. “There is no such thing. Every government gets their hands dirty. You think these guys are any different? Maybe on the outside they all seem squeaky clean but somewhere in the halls of the hallowed principles there are shadowy figures with very grubby hands.”
I tapped the datapad. “There are passages that go under the main buildings. They lead to a lot of different places including the Jedi temple and Lord Vader’s main Coruscant residence. There are a number of subbasements as well as secret passages in between the walls and in the middle of the palace there are also some pretty big secrets. I am willing to bet the rebels haven’t figured half of them out yet.” I said. “So how do you know about Jarack anyway? I mean I thought he was on some super secret undercover mission and no one knew where he was or how to reach him?”
“I have agents on the ground and all of our agents have a tracking chip implanted.” He said. “I knew when Behl went missing because his reports stopped. I have people looking for him because his chip is still sending transmissions this means he is alive but he’s too valuable to leave in the hands of the enemy.”
“Thrawn said he was looking to uncover a possible rebel agent here?”
Ged’s jaw tightened. “That was part of his work. Information was getting off this ship that shouldn’t have been. His job was to find out how and it led him to a cell on Coruscant. His last transmission stated that he was close to finding the leader and that was the last I heard of him. After that I had my people on the ground start looking for him.”
“Your people on the ground?”
“I have spies everywhere.” He said with such a grin I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not. “Really, it’s part of my job.”
“So what does that mean that you are the spy master?”
This made him laugh. “I suppose that’s one way to put it.” Then he took a sobering breath. “I have intel on where Behl could be and intel on his last location.” He said as he input the data into the pad. “So that puts him somewhere here.” He tapped the pad again and the image enlarged to show me. I synched the information and laid it over the blue prints I had.
“So, in theory, he should be somewhere here.” I said pointing to the general area. I looked at the blue prints and recalled the palace layout. “I can get you in there if things haven’t changed a lot and providing that Vader’s residence hasn’t been torn down. It would be easier to go from there than to try and get into the old Jedi Temple. I am pretty sure that Luke Skywalker has made that place more difficult to get in and out of.”
Ged looked at me and then he proceeded to tell me his plan. After about half way through I held up my hand to stop him.
“You really are out of your mind.” I said more rudely than I had planned. “If we do as you suggest we’ll be caught in seconds. Your whole demeanour screams Imperial officer and if you think taking a disguised shuttle is going to get us past Coruscant Space Control you have another thing coming.”
“Well then, do you have a better idea?” He asked folding his arms across his chest in that manner men do when their pride has been bruised.
“As a matter of fact I do.” I said and began to lay it all out for him. When I was done it was his turn to shake his head.
“And you call me insane?” He said.
“It will work and it’s way better than pretending to be smugglers in a stolen imperial shuttle.” I replied gathering up my datapad.
He thought about it for a bit and then nodded. “Very well then I guess this means you are in charge.”
I smirked. “Aye aye Admiral.”
“So can I tempt you with a brandy?”
I smiled as I picked up my datapad. “No. I’m tired and I have a lot to think about.”
“Of course.” He said as we both stood up. “We will have plenty of time together on the flight to Coruscant.”
I didn’t say anything to that as I left the dining room but I was pretty sure that Thrawn would be unimpressed by this entire situation and suddenly I missed him so much it hurt.
Three days later we were ready to go.
“Are you sure this thing can fly?” Ged asked for the tenth time and I went through my preflight check.
“Are you sure your ship can run without you there?” I countered. “This pretty unusual you know.”
“I have capable officers and a very capable captain they can do without me for a few days.” He answered dryly.
“Uh huh.” I said. “Flight this is the Ahnkeli ’Su’udelma requesting permission to clear docking.”
“Ahnkeli ’Su’udelma you are cleared.”
“Roger that. See you in a few days Virulent. Try not to wreck the ship while we’re gone.” I grinned shutting the com off before Ged could say anything about my unorthodox chatter and flew out of the docking bay into the beauty of space. As soon as I could I set hyper drive in the direction of Coruscant and then we vanished into the eerie light of hyperspace.