I woke up slowly and wished I hadn’t. I was lying on my side, curled up on a memory-foam mattress. My head pounded, my body ached and my hands were tied together in imperial binders. I was grateful they had not tied them behind my back but my shoulders ached anyway. I opened my eyes and blinked hard until the blurriness cleared. I was in a moderately sized, moderately lit room. Aside from the mattress the room was empty. I realised that there was no chem-toilet or wash-sink which meant whatever Vander had planned for us, it wasn’t long term. I sighed, struggled to sit up and swore as my head pounded viciously. I could not believe that I had once again been abducted and locked in a room somewhere, at least this time I wasn’t alone.
“Welcome back to the land of the living.” Ged said as he helped me to sit up beside him.
“What the hell..?” I asked trying to get past my throbbing head.
“Vander shot you.” He explained, “The stun’s effects should wear off soon.”
“Lovely!” I rubbed my temples. “How the hell did he even find us?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. But the datachip he gave to me might have been trackable.”
“Why did I not see that when I touched it?”
“Your little talent is not perfect?” He winced as he touched his head where he had been hit by the blaster butt. “And technology can be tracked easily enough.”
I nodded. “Are you alright?”
“You were not the only one on the wrong end of a blaster stun and my head isn’t immune to being smacked around either.” He said tartly. “And don’t ask me what time it is, they took my kit, chrono and your satchel.”
“So you have no idea how long we’ve been here for?”
“No, but stun blasts tend towards short term not long term so I’m thinking only a few hours maybe, unless the stunned us more than once, then it’s anyone’s guess.” Ged replied.
“Why did not he just kill us?” My mouth was dry and my chest hurt where the stun blast had hit me. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against his shoulder.
Ged shrugged ever so slightly, “Oh I’m sure he has his reasons. He’s a black ops agent, Mer... Amyshka, nice name by the way.” He turned his head to look at me, “He was trained by the very best and he’s been in the field for twice as long as most of my agents. We’re alive for a reason and you can be sure it’s not a good one.”
“Fantastic.” I hissed. “What the hell does he want from us anyway?” I asked, “Because none of this makes sense.”
“He wants something from me. You are just collateral damage.”
I lifted my head up to look at him, made a face and a gesture of distance with my thumb and forefinger. “You know right now, I hate you... just a little bit.”
Ged grinned and stroked the side of my face with the backs of his fingers which was not so easy to do with his hands bound together. “I know and it’s really cute.”
I made a noise of disgust, “Why are you not more concerned about this situation we’re in?”
“Because nothing has happened yet that we need to be concerned about.” He answered.
I stared at him for what seemed like forever. “He shot me!”
“Only on stun.”
“This day just keeps getting better and better. Seriously, if Lee Vander doesn’t kill you, I swear I will.”
He just chuckled. “Well, that will be a lot of fun but it will have to wait.” He said as he stood up. “Come on, you need to walk off the effects of the stun blast because I need you clear headed and focused, so get up.” And before I could tell him to go away he had pulled me to my feet and I found myself walking around the small room in circles until I felt dizzy while he kept studying the walls.
“Ged....what are you doing?”
“Shhhhhh.” He shushed me, leaned into me and whispered in my ear all the while slowly backing me into the corner furthest away from the door. “I’m getting us out of here so turn around, look at me and try to pretend you actually like me.”
I did as he asked and before I could stop him he looped his arms over my head and pulled me to him in an awkward and uncomfortable embrace, uncomfortable because my hands were still bound in front of me. I pulled them up to my chest with my hands under my chin because holding them straight down would have been even more awkward and embarrassing. He smirked.
“Here is what is going to happen.” He said in a hushed voice, glancing around, “I’m going to kiss you now, just so you know, and it would be a really good idea if you moved in tightly to me and didn’t touch the wall. I don’t want to hurt you.” he whispered, “And it would also be nice if you would try to make it look like you enjoy kissing me back because I want the guards to think this is just what it looks like and not something else.” and then before I could argue with him or ask what ‘something else’ meant he did exactly as he said he would except, instead of holding me tightly with his hands, he braced them on the flat of the wall behind us.
The last time Ged had kissed me he had taken me by surprise and the desire he had stirred up had been a shock. This time, even though I had been warned, the feelings that bubbled up inside of me still took me by surprise. I gasped at the rush of sensations that washed through me. Even with his warning I wasn’t ready for this.
Instead of just planning a big kiss on me, he teased me slowly, seductively with gentle lips, tasting mine with the tip of his tongue and it surprised me. I stared at him and a slight smile curved the corners of his mouth. For a split second the world stopped and then, seeing he had my interest he kissed me again but this time with heat and I gasped. It was so deliciously easy to get lost in what he was doing because he was good at it and I enjoyed it even though I knew this wasn’t right. I could feel the force well up between us in a rush of lust that might have drowned me except that he suddenly nipped my neck painfully with his teeth bringing me back to my senses sharply.
“Stay focused.” He hissed in my ear.
“That would be easier to do if you weren’t shoving your tongue down my throat!” I growled back. “And I know I’m not the only one affected by this.” I glanced downward and he grinned at me some more.
“A pleasurable side effect is all.” He smirked, “And so much better than the alternative.”
I raised both eyebrows in question. “Oh really?”
“Sweetheart, if you still want to play with me later I’m all yours but right I need you to stay focused and I need your help with what I am about to do so stop messing about and help me here.” He smirked and before I could argue or retort he kissed me again but this time I mostly ignored the wash of sensations that were running rampant through me in favour of figuring out what it was he was actually doing.
I could feel my skin tingle but realised the sensation wasn’t because of Ged’s kisses but rather through his use of the force. He was drawing power around, through and from me. Once I understood what he was doing I stopped fighting him and started to help him. I gathered the force through me and I fed it to him the only way I knew how and smiled inwardly when I heard him gasp. He wasn’t the only one who could create desire and I knew for a fact I could pull up a lot of power with it. That was what he wanted; power and I did my best to give it to him.
“Is that being helpful enough?” I growled as wild energy surged through us both.
He sucked in a breath, “Oh it will do.” His voice had taken on a warm husky tone, “Now shut up so I can concentrate.”
I could feel the sparkles of electricity run through him as he took all of the energy we were creating and focused it to flow through his palms which were flat on the wall behind me. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood on end and everything prickled. Flickers of reflected pale blue light danced from his hands. I could sense the path of the force lighting flow through the wall and around the room as he directed it and one by one he blew out all the surveillance equipment. When he was satisfied the cameras were broken he let out the breath he had been holding, I could feel the power withdraw like a waning storm. It left me shaky and momentarily exhausted and I understood that what he had just done was very, very difficult.
“Wow.” I whispered in awe when he relaxed against me for a moment to catch his breath.
He drew back to look at me and smiled. “Oh you have no idea what you are missing. We could be amazing together.” Then he kissed me lightly on the forehead.
“I was talking about your little force trick!” I snapped tried to pull back from him but his cuffed hands were still looped around me trapping me in a tight circle. “Now what?” I asked trying to get myself back into some sort of normal. I did not like the conflicts he stirred up in me and I felt all kinds of guilty about what had just happened.
“Now we pretend to make out some more until the two thugs who are outside come in to see what happened to all their spy equipment. They’ll see us still making out as though nothing had happened and hopefully believe we had nothing to do with it. Then we make our move, do you think you can handle one of these jokers on your own if I can’t get a blaster in time?”
“I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?”
“Oh and I don’t suppose you can use that delicious little trick of yours to distract one of them could you?”
“You need to buy me a little time,” I told him, “That little trick also takes a bit of work and I’m a little out of breath.”
“Oh you really do know how to make a man feel good about himself.” Ged murmured in my ear then moved just enough to avoid the kick I aimed at his shin.
“Feisty!” He grinned.
I made a face and hoped that the guards he was expecting got here sooner rather than later because I was getting a cramp in my neck and my chest hurt where the edges of the binders around my hands dug into me. Luckily for me I got my wish.
I was already in a heightened state, tapped into the force along with Ged so when the two armed men came in to see what was going on with the security system I knew exactly where they both were in the room without looking. Ged nuzzled my neck using it as a pretence to see what was happening. He could feel me tense and his teeth grazed my skin, reminding me to wait. He shifted slightly lifting pulling his arms over my head so I was no longer trapped, “We’ll only get one chance to get a clean shot at this.” He whispered in my ear “After that it will be messy. I don’t like messy.”
I was about to give him a rude retort but he put stop to that with another passionate kiss. I felt as though I had suddenly been drafted into a very bad holo drama but it did its job. For a long moment no one moved or spoke and then one of the guards laughed in that slightly embarrassed manner people do when they walk in on a couple making out. He watched for a moment and then he started making jokes with his partner about taking turns with me next. This had been Ged’s plan all along, sex put people off balance and turned men into idiots which was exactly what Ged had wanted.
I reached out with the force and showered the closer of the two guards with a blast of lust. I knew it had worked because I heard him suck in his breath and let his gun clatter to the floor. The change in mood took his partner’s attention away from us for a moment, but a moment was all Ged needed.
He spun around, pushed me back, force pulled the gun to him and opened fire. The two men were dead before they even knew what had hit them.
“Well, I’m glad one of us knows how to use that thing.” I told him.
For a second neither of us moved and then he was all business as he went through the pockets of the two dead men. He found what he was looking for, used it and the binders which cuffed our hands fell open with a soft snick.
“You really should learn, while they are not as elegant or beautiful as lightsabers they do come in handy sometimes.” Ged replied as he removed the ID tags and key-cards and then started stripping off the clothes of the guard closest to his size.
“Thrawn said the same thing once. I don’t like guns, they’re too loud.” I said taking one of the card-keys he held out to me.
“Too loud?” He just shook his head. “You never cease to surprise me, you know that?”
“Lucky me.” I replied dryly. “How long before what you did gets noticed?” I asked watching him strip off and change into the clothes from the man he had just shot.
“I don’t know but I don’t think we have time to dance if that’s what you are asking.” He said once he was dressed. “What do you think?” He asked modelling his new look as one of Lee Vander’s thugs.
“I think the colour is crap and that coat makes you look like a scoundrel from a Corellian smuggler bar.”
He grinned at me. “What’s the matter you don’t like scoundrels?”
“No.” I replied tartly. “I’m not a big fan of the scruffy and unpredictable.”
This made Ged grin even more. “So what you’re saying is I looked better with no clothes on?”
“You’re impossible!” I snapped.
“I get told that a lot.”
“So now what?” I asked picking up the second weapon, looking at it as though it might bite me.
“Here, that’s a modified carbine, it’s a good weapon. I guess Vander hasn’t completely gone rebel, this was an Imperial issued weapon.” Ged said and he showed me how to hold the blaster and where all the right switches were. “Safety, stun and kill. If you have this on kill try not to point it at me.”
“I’m not taking this!” I said trying to give it back to him.
“Yes, you are. This is not a good place for close hand to hand combat, no one else here will have a lightsaber so fighting with one, especially in a place like this, is like bringing a butter knife to a gunfight.”
I looked the weapon over. “Are you still taking the other one?” I asked hoping he wasn’t relying on me to be the shooter in this game because if he was we were lost.
He nodded. “It never hurts to have more weapons.”
“Me with a gun sounds like a really, really bad idea to me.” I grumbled. I turned the weapon over in my hands trying to decide where to put it.
“It goes over your shoulder, like this.” He said showing me.
So I slung the carbine over my shoulder and scowled at it. It was extra weight and unfamiliar but he was right, you could never have enough weapons and this was a fight against unknown enemies.
“It could be worse.” He said, “We could be facing an army. So far the only people who seem to know we are here are Vander’s and I think he’s gone rogue, running his own mission off any official grid.”
“Okay, do you have more brilliant plans?”
He grinned, “Do you want to pretend to have your hands tied behind your back or do I need to put the binders back on?” He asked as he dangled a pair of binders from a single finger.
“If you try to put those binder-cuffs on me I will kick your ass all the way to Tatooine.” I told him sweetly.
“So being tied up not your thing?”
“You’ll never know!”
“It could be fun!”
“Keep that up and I’ll actually learn how to use this thing by using you as target practice.” I tapped the blaster in my hands.
He laughed. “Okay so pretending to transfer you as a prisoner is out but do keep it in mind because I’m not wearing these clothes for the fashion statement and we might need a ruse if there are people around.” Ged said with a grin. “Come on, we need to go.”
“You have a plan? A different plan? One that doesn’t involve me in hand-binders backed into a corner making out with you?”
“As I said, doing that was better than the alternative.”
“Really?” I raised my eyebrows at him but he didn’t elaborate so I pressed the point. “So a plan? Do you have one?” I pressed.
“Yes, find that traitor Vander and kill him then get the off this planet before all hell breaks loose.”
“How do you even know where to go to find him?” I asked.
“Because I know exactly where we are and I know him. He will probably find me.” He replied as we walked out of the cell into the small detention processing area. He spent a few seconds at the computer then searched the small desk and smiled when he found my satchel along with his lightsaber and his chrono. He tucked his lightsaber into an inside pocket of the coat, put on his chrono and tossed the satchel to me. “This is yours I believe?”
I did a quick inventory and was relieved to see all my stuff was still there including my lightsaber. “Care to enlighten me?” I asked.
“This is the special operations command centre. It’s hidden deep under the palace. It was part of the Ubiqtorate.” He replied quietly as he checked to make sure the corridor outside of the room was empty. “I helped design this place when it was renovated.”
I glanced at him in surprise. “What? You what? How?”
He smiled gesturing for me to follow him. “Did you not ever think about why everything I did was cloaked in secrecy? When you lived here did you ever wonder why you so rarely ever saw me on Coruscant or why neither I nor my people have joined overtly with Thrawn’s fleet? Or did you really just think I was the Emperor’s pretty boy wonder?”
“Well, no, yes, maybe.” I shrugged, “It sometimes crossed my mind, especially when I was on board the Virulent, but I assumed Thrawn and you had your reasons and he gets testy when I bug him too much about all this secrety, cloak and sabre stuff.” I replied. “Mostly though I just thought you were another annoyingly, arrogant Imperial Navy guy with a nice ass and a cute smile.”
“You think I have a nice ass?” He shook his head at me in amusement then serious shifted in his features. “I ran a division of Imperial Intelligence that specialized in off the books black ops for the Empire when the Emperor was still alive.”
“The Bureau?” I whispered in awe. “You ran the Bureau?” The Bureau of Operations had been a very hush hush part of the Ubiqtorate that specialised in covert and black operations. No one spoke about the Bureau, the people who were in it or what they actually did openly or in any detail. They were like ghosts in the machine. Suddenly I looked at Ged through completely different eyes.
“Not the entire Bureau, no, I headed up the infiltration and counter intelligence divisions. I helped design this facility to augment our operations, with the Emperor’s approval.”
“Really for real?”
Ged nodded, “Really for real. Now I run the secret operations aspect of what is left of the Empire, what we’re now calling the Imperial Order. We had hoped to infiltrate the New Republic and deal with them on two fronts with Thrawn on the visible offensive and us behind the scenes” Ged explained while walking quickly with the security of a person who knew exactly where he wanted to go next.
“So what happened then, I mean you’re here and Jarack is dead.”
“Vital information started to get out from what should have been a closed system.” He replied, “Behl was the agent on lead, trying to ferret out the leak. We thought it was a rebel spy who had somehow managed to infiltrate us not the other way around.”
“So why did Vander turn against you?” I asked.
Ged’s jaw clenched tightly as he shook his head and I understood that whatever it was it was personal and I would not learn about it now.
“Okay then, I have another question.”
“Why am I not surprised.” He looked at me sideways and offered a slight smile. “Shoot.”
“Why didn’t you tell me any of this before?” trotting to keep up with him
“That’s easy, it was need to know only and you did not need to know.” He answered as we made our way quietly down the corridor.
“So if you’re really this all important super spy master why couldn’t you override the shuttle car controls?”
Ged just gave me a grin and waited for me to work it out.
I stopped dead in my tracks, “Oh I am so going kill you when this is all over! You let him capture us didn’t you? You knew at some point he’d figure out where we were and he’d find us. You knew that chip was trackable!”
“He is a traitor and he needs to be eliminated. He knows too much.” He said simply, his hand at the small of my back pushed me back into motion. “It was easier to allow him to take us than spending time to tracking him down.”
I gave him a look and decided to try again. “We have a deadline to keep to, remember?”
“I am well aware of that.”
“He should have killed you, killed us when he first had the chance but he didn’t so what does Lee Vander want from you?”
He looked at me for a moment and then said, “Codes.” He said, “He wants me and my command codes so that he can gain access to the mainframe. The mainframe contains all the information on everything we’ve ever done, all the missions, all the agents and double agents, everything. It would be invaluable to the New Republic and incredibly damaging to Thrawn and myself. He needs me and he won’t kill you because he thinks he can use you as blackmail to get what he wants from me.”
“Why doesn’t he just slice it? I mean I thought you trained your super sneaky spies to deal with that sort of thing?”
Ged laughed quietly, “You do have a way with words.” He said, “Because if he tries to do that the entire mainframe will self-destruct and he wants the information intact. When I designed the system I had the very best coders create it but the Emperor added something which no one else knew about to make sure it was virtually impossible to bypass the standard security.”
I suddenly remembered what the Emperor had done with the entrance to his secret museum room. “He added a force activation element didn’t he?”
Ged nodded, “Even the very best slicers in this galaxy would not be able to bypass the security. Only a force user can do that and only one with the right codes. And I am the only one left who fits these criteria. Vander is a brilliant agent but he is not force sensitive.”
We came to a turbo lift. Ged punched a long code into the keypad and the door opened. “Come on.”
I shook my head. “No way!” I hissed. “This is a trap waiting to happen, a trap, men with guns, a hoard of angry fuzzy things with sticks and stones and sarlacc knows what else could be waiting at the other end of where ever that thing stops!”
He shook his head in annoyance. “Oh, we do not have time for this!” he muttered and grasped my arm, yanking me into the waiting turbo lift. “Get in and shut up.” He said standing beside me in the lift, the door closed softly and before I could protest he punched in another lengthy code into the control panel and the lift jolted downward quickly.
“What the hell!” I snapped. “Did you not hear me mention all manner of nasty traps waiting for us?”
“I heard you.”
“So what you like getting hit in the face, tied up and stunned?”
“Not on my favourite things to do list.”
“Then why are you walking into a trap?”
“Are you sure?” I asked, “Because you didn’t know your best friend and super duper secret special ops guy had turned against you!”
He rolled his eyes and smiled, “Good point, but this time trust me it’s not a ....” He started but he didn’t have time to finish because the lift door opened and we stepped out into a dimly lit room full of computers and we were not alone.
I turned to Ged and punched him hard on the arm. “See? Trap!”