“Where, pray tell, is Captain Reendor now?”
Fleet Admiral Cantari Rast didn’t bother to keep the disdain from his voice. There were definite perks to being the highest ranking naval officer in the Sumitra Sector. Rast strode confidently from the turbolift, heading for the bridge view ports. Behind him, dressed in black, came Commander Xemus Drallig of the dreaded Imperial Security Bureau. Crewmen in their recessed work pits cringed as the imposing figures passed on the walkway above.
Commander Terek, officer of the watch and Reendor’s second-in-command, turned from overseeing the navigation team and saluted. “I will fetch him at once, sir,” Terek added smartly, hoping to assuage the older man’s anger.
Terek stepped toward a rear bulkhead and discretely thumbed his comm unit. “Bridge to Captain Reendor, the Admiral requests your presence at once, sir.”
“Very well,” came the groggy reply. “I’m on my way.”
Turning back toward the fore, Terek strode down the command walkway to join the Fleet Admiral and ISB Agent near the transparisteel windows. “The Captain is on his way, sir,” Terek said in his most accommodating and diplomatic tone. Rast did not acknowledge the information. Commander Terek came to a stop beside the flag officer. The trio stood in silence, staring out into space.
Looking down the length of the Indomitable Will always made Commander Terek smile. The distinctive wedge shape of the Victory-class star destroyer’s white hull came to a point some 900 meters in the distance. Beyond that Terek could see two of Indomitable Will’s sister ships, Demolisher and Protector, also in orbit above the blue-green planet of Boordii IV. To his right the imposing bulk of the system’s space station, to which the Indomitable Will was currently docked, filled the view ports. The Sumitra Sector fleet was a formidable weapon. If it could just be brought to bear on those elusive rebel scum, all of their problems would be solved in short order.
“Commander,” Fleet Admiral Rast interrupted Terek’s reverie.
“What is the state of my ship? How soon can you depart?”
Terek consulted his datapad. “We should finish the re-supply in two point three hours, sir.”
“Where is that blasted Reendor?”
“Here, sir,” came the reply as Captain Jirra Reendor moved to join them, still adjusting his duty cap.
“Ah, Captain. How nice of you to join us. I trust you had a nice rest?” The Fleet Admiral turned on the newcomer, sneering openingly.
A seasoned officer like Reendor knew enough to ignore the barb. He saluted crisply while waiting for Rast to continue.
“Somewhere out there,” the Admiral gestured out the forward view ports, “traitors to the Empire gather and plot against us. Moff Jusik is not amused by your failure to uncover them. I am not amused either.” Rast turned to let his anger encompass Agent Drallig as well.
“We need more time,” the raspy voiced Drallig began.
Fleet Admiral Rast cut him off brusquely. “I am not interested in excuses, Commander, I am interested in results.”
Eyeing up Captain Reendor, the old Admiral continued, “You will personally lead the sweep of the Thustra B Asteroid Belt. I want a full report in 48 hours. And you,” Rast growled, turning toward the frowning Drallig, “will get me more actionable intelligence. That is what you’re good at, isn’t it?”
“Yes, sir,” both men answered in unison.
The Admiral let his caustic gaze linger a moment on the pair of officers before turning to leave. “No excuses,” he reiterated as he crossed the command walkway back to the turbolift.
“We shall leave immediately, sir,” Lt. Commander Seena Yolon replied crisply, closing the commlink connection. Dressed in a black naval uniform, Yolon was an Agent of the dreaded ISB, Imperial Security Bureau. She had detected hints of annoyance and fear in the tone of her superior, Commander Drallig. Rebel activity in this sector was increasing, and it was up to the ISB to put an end to it. Swiftly.
She trotted across the cavernous hangar, motioning to Lieutenant Kiel. On cue, Kiel barked out an order and the Imperial Army platoon assigned as Agent Yolon’s escort leapt to their feet. The men had been resting among the tools and spare parts stacked neatly in a maintenance alcove along the edge of the bay.
As Yolon approached the open boarding ramp of her Sentinel-class shuttle, the nine white-clad stormtroopers of her personal security team fell into step beside her. The crew was already aboard the transport, preparing the craft for departure. The repulsor fields whined through their pre-takeoff warmup and she felt the familiar rush of pride and excitement build within her. On the hunt, again.
Yolon made her way toward the bridge, passing through the auxiliary weapons station. “Sir,” the three members of the gunnery crew snapped to attention and saluted as one. She ignored them and entered the cockpit.
“Sentinel shuttle Mindorian to Demolisher flight control,” the co-pilot spoke into the comm, “requesting immediate launch.”
“Roger that, Mindorian, you are cleared for take-off,” came the reply.
A green indicator on the flight console confirmed that the passengers were all aboard and the loading ramp was closed. Agent Yolon strapped herself into the chair near the secondary communications station, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. Suspected rebel activity in the Flax system. She would get to the bottom of it. She would make those traitors pay dearly, indeed.
The shuttle rose from the deck and rotated toward the huge, open blast doors. Beyond lay the blackness of space. The pilot eased the throttle forward and the vessel left the hangar behind.
“Plot a course for the Flax system,” Yolon said.
“Yes, sir,” the co-pilot responded.
The shuttle banked, picking up an escort in the form of a pair of TIE fighters. The trio flew down the length of Demolisher, an aging Victory-class star destroyer. Demolisher was small, by modern Imperial standards, but utterly dwarfed the Mindorian and the TIEs. The shuttle cleared the star destroyer’s bulk and turned away from the planet it was orbiting, Boordii IV, home to Sumitra Sector high command. In the distance, off to the right, Agent Yolon could see the imposing shape of Demolisher’s sister ship, Protector. On the other side, farther out, hung the Boordii IV space station. Currently docked for resupply was the sector’s flagship, a third Victory-class vessel entitled Indomitable Will. The powerful trio represented only half of the star destroyers in the Sumitra fleet. Yolon smiled, thinking of the potential destruction such capital ships could unleash. Finding them appropriate targets is the job of ISB, she thought. My job.
The TIEs turned back at the edge of the Military Exclusion Zone, leaving the Mindorian to join the steady stream of civilian vessels of all shapes and sizes heading to and from the planet-side starports. The shuttle vectored toward the flow of outbound ships heading for the popular hyperspace entry points. Frowning, Agent Yolon couldn’t help but feel some of the nearby transports must belong to rebels. Right here, under our very noses.
“Course set in, sir,” the co-pilot said.
“Engage,” Agent Yolon commanded. The stars stretched to long white lines then quickly gave way to the mottled blue and white backdrop of hyperspace. Another mission was officially underway.