Domus Prime:


Chapter III

DEVRON ZAL SAT at his desk and activated the floor and wall holograms, deciding to occupy his time with something useful. It had been several months since the Sith Invasion has been halted, and since that time most of his resources had been dedicated to the reconstruction of their world.

On the floor projector, Devron pulled up a three dimensional model of Domus Prime and some of the surrounding space set at around five minutes before the Sith ships arrived for the invasion. Pressing ‘play’, Devron sat back and watched the model for the arrival.

The Sith ships appear first as a pinprick of light stabbing down at Domus Prime. Devron stopped the recording, setting it back thirty seconds, zoomed in on the entry vector of the ships and pressed ‘play’ once more.

As before the Sith ships came, but this time Devron froze the holographic display as the first ship exited the hyperspace tunnel. He typed a few commands on one of his computers and a request for the exit vector illuminated one of the wall-holograms. After a moment the coordinates ’33’418/47’200/?’ shone brightly, indicating three separate coordinates tied in with each other. The final coordinate was missing though, the distance. Devron thought this over for a minute until he came up with an idea.

A smile crossed Devron’s face as he called up an astrochart of the known Galaxy. The hologram of Domus Prime faded out to be replaced by a map of the Galaxy, slowly revolving on its axis. He picked up his datapad and punched in ‘DomusPrime=hypspc-cont33’418/47’200/? =?’

A tiny sphere that hovered above his desk then replaced the Galaxy. A red line extended from that familiar planet, stretching across the Galaxy until it finally met with another planet. The line continued onwards, following the command given to it, until Devron stopped it. He called up the data readout and requested a holographic model of the second planet. 

A planet came into view on the primary holoprojector, and a few further commands saw it centred over Devron’s desk. The second panel on the wall displayed information on the planet. This data was headed by the name, ‘Toxtenkopp’.

Devron executed a search on that word in the dictionary of his datapad. The results were displayed almost immediately. 

“Tox.ten.kopp \’tak-‘sten-‘kop\ [Huttese] n: Death’s Head”

That sounded like a Sith name. ‘Confident little Sithies’, Devron thought, ‘Didn’t stop to cover their tracks.’ Smiling, he changed the planetary hologram to tactical mode, zooming it in on the nearest established military base.

The computer complied, adding features such as turbolasers and other tactically important features of the base as it zoomed in. When the base had been fully uncovered, Devron tapped impatiently at his datapad a few times until it created a full three dimensional hologram of the base on his desk.

Allowing himself one of the “insane-scientist” laughs usually only seen in old holovids, Devron set to work designing a strategy for the eventual takeover of Toxtenkopp. “Time to give them a little bit of their own medicine”, Devron said to no one in particular, scribbling “Operation Sick Patient” at the top.

Outside his dungeon Devron heard feet shuffling, which was unusual since he had not heard anything outside over the past few hours. He stood up, walked to his door and checked the small video screen feed by a camera showing the outside of his quarters. “Hmm”, he murmured thoughtfully, “no one there. What’s that?” 

Devron made the camera zoom in on the front of his door and saw a small object ornamented with a flashing light. The light blinks faster and faster, as Devron suddenly recognised it. 

“Oh my God! General Zal to security!” He shouted into his commlink as he backed away from the door. “Send a bomb squad to my quarters and seal off all exits.”

“Right away sir”, came the not entirely prompt answer.

Devron looked around for cover and was greeted by a burst of light and heat as the bomb exploded with an intense booming noise.

He awoke a few moments later. Luckily Devron had kept some experimental armour sitting in the corner of his dungeon. He evaluated it with a professional eye. “A few dents, but not too bad.” 

Devron looked around to see that all of his equipment had been badly damaged especially his computer systems. “Well shoot!” Devron tried his commlink only to discover that the explosion had fried the circuitry. “Where’s security?” 

Devron walked over to a mirror that was only partially broken, his heavy boots crushing the fallen pieces of glass beneath his feet. “What the -?” As Devron glared into the mirror, a small piece of metal shot forward and was inserted into his forehead. A jolt of pain raced through his body, and Devron fell to the ground, unconscious.

He awoke sometime later in the medical bay, recognising the sterile coldness of the room in which he lay. 

“About time you woke up”, said a man in white clothing that was probably some doctor, “You’re lucky that you’re alive.”

He looked closely at the doctor, trying to recognise the unfamiliar features. “What are you?” he asked, confused. Turning his head, he saw a woman seated near to his bed, wearing a formal robe of some description with a fancy silver circlet on her head. “And who are you?”

Her eyes widened in surprise. “What? Devron, are you joking?”

He blinked in surprise. “Who’s Devron?”

The doctor gestured the woman to one side, and they talked for a time. The doctor spoke a few words to the Queen. “He must have amnesia. After something like that it’s not too surprising, but I’m not sure how long it will last.” 

The woman walked back to Devron, her eyes shining with concern. “Don’t worry”, she said, and he realised that she had quite a pretty voice, somewhat deep and furry. “Everything is going to be all right, you will remember everything soon enough.”

He nodded at the sincere tone in which she spoke, not understanding why she took his hand with such a determined look on her face. “The Force will help you, my friend.”

Utterly confused, Devron lay back and let the woman beside him take his hand. He did not understand why she did that, or why she called him friend. He did not even understand why he was in the bed. 

‘Did something happen to me?’ he thought, the concept running its way around his mind. As Devron stopped to consider this, he felt something warm running through him. It was a pleasant feeling, much like taking your shoes off and dangling them in a nice, cool stream… 

The Queen placed her hand on top of Devron’s and started channelling the Force through the physical connection to his body in an attempt to heal him.

Devron finally drifted off to an uneasy sleep in which he dreamed of his childhood. 

…He’s sitting by his house with his back against a tree stump. He can hear flowing water from a small stream nearby. He walks to the water, takes off his shoes, and lets his feet down into it. The water feels nice, almost silky to his feet as they enter the slowly flowing liquid. On a whim, he decides to go for a swim. Stripping off his shirt, he dives into the cool water, his nine-year-old limbs moving effortlessly to take him upstream…

The Queen looks up at the doctor and smiles slightly, already feeling the strain of concentrating her thoughts on Devron’s memories for so long. “It is working,” she says. “His remaining instincts are accepting the Force as a healing medium.”

…Devron stops swimming upstream and lets the current take him down the river. His memories are present up to age nine, and he knows that his dreamland, so far mimicking his childhood perfectly, has the stream running into a lake nearby. He closes his eyes and lets himself float.

He hears rushing water, and opens his eyes, curious. What he sees is not a lake, but a waterfall, threatening to take him over the edge. Frantically, he swims upstream, but the current is too much for his undeveloped arms and legs, and the flow sweeps him into the air, free-falling.

He falls at an alarming rate, watching as his demise comes up to meet him. He squeezes his eyes tight, expecting to be dashed to pieces on the rocks… but when he opens them after a few seconds, he sees his dream has changed.

He is sitting at his desk in an easy chair, eating a quickly made dinner of “Add-Water-And-Heat” braised bruallki and other things, none of which tasted anything like the real item. His memories, like the one from the previous dream, are complete up to his age of 25. He watches a holo newscast, learning of the destruction rained upon the city of Surep by the Tuebor Rebels, or so they called themselves. As he begins to chew on another bite of the tough bruallki, he hears a knock at the door.

“Come in.”

Two armed soldiers belonging to the Tuebor Defensive Military march in, at rigid attention. One of them speaks. “Sir, the Tuebor Rebels have attacked a research and command post just outside the Surep city boundaries. We regret to say that your wife Ashliye was one of the many that were killed in the assault. The base was heav-“

He hears nothing more, slipping into a sort of light shock. When he recovers, he tries to speak, but can not get the words out for a few minutes. “…Ashliye. Was killed?”

“Yes, sir,” one of the officers says. “We’re truly sorry about this, but I’m afraid there’s nothing more we can do. She died almost instantly.”

Devron’s eyes glaze over, and when he speaks, his voice is dull and held in check. “Like hell you couldn’t. Leave.”

The officers both salute and step out, one of them closing the door lightly behind him.

Devron stays calm and composed for about two seconds longer. Then, in a fit of rage, he snatches up his dinner and hurls it at the door. It splatters against it, the bruallki sticking to the door and everything else falling to the floor. 

Then, with an icy calmness borne of a sort of shock leaving his emotions numb, he walks to the kitchen. Grabbing a couple of over-the-counter hypno-pills for getting to sleep and a glass of water, he swallows both pills and drops the water on the floor, not caring. Five minutes later, he is on his bed asleep, not wanting to deal with the problem immediately. His last awake thought is, ‘When I wake up, there’s going to be hell to pay…’

Slowly, he slips into another portion of his life… 

“Your Majesty, I came as soon as I heard!” Jester was a bit tired after his long run from one of the many scarred battlefields left over from the Invasion. “I would have been here sooner…” He broke off his apology to breathe heavily for a few moments.

“Do not worry. Devron has amnesia, he seemed to be recovering swiftly, but then it seemed as though he has hit an emotional block in his mind.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Yes, make sure that no one has left the Palace since the lock down. Go and check with Grand Admiral Riddler and see if any progress has been made in the capture of the intruders.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

As he began to run off she called him back. “Oh, and Jester”, she looked into his eyes and at that moment she felt what pain he had endured during their struggle. She realised that despite the time that had passed she had not taken the time to speak with Jester about what they had been through. “We will talk about your feelings later, but right now it is imperative that we focus our thoughts on General Zal’s recovery. I sense that he has discovered something very important and with the destruction of his computers only his lost memories know what that is.”

Jester ran out of the medical bay and the Queen again focused her thoughts on Devron, trying to get past the strange block in his mind to recover his lost memories. 

…Devron crouches in a circle with the rest of his commando team, preparing to infiltrate and capture a major command point of the Tuebor Rebels. All his team wears the Rebels’ uniforms, and the commanding officer has the entry code for passage into the gates.

“Now, if the base is alerted to our presence, we have to go all-out assault. We need six diversionary assaults, with two people there. The remaining eight can concentrate on the command base.” He gives off orders as to who goes where in the contingency plan. Devron nods, getting his assignment down. “Alright, let’s go.” The team stands up and gets in a troop transport, the commander getting in the driver’s seat. Devron sits next to Nevin, his partner for the diversionary assault on the communications centre. The transport’s interior is silent save for the occasional clicking of weapons as each man mulls over his own thoughts. Not content to just sit and wait, he starts to do a quick field-service of his favourite BlasTech A280. Meanwhile, the troop transport moves on its repulsorlift generators toward the base. 

Devron hops down off of the back end of the transport, following Nevin. Walking in an unorganised cluster, they move into the base complex, presumably coming off of a mission and going to put up their weapons, catching a quick meal in the mess room, and finally going to the command centre to debrief. Everyone they pass pays no attention to them, complacent in their well-protected base. 

They make it to the armory fine, and are just coming off the mess line with their trays of steaming hot food. Devron gazes down appreciatively at his real braised bruallki, thinking of how long it has been since he has had the opportunity to tear into one of the real things, when the alarms sound. “All personnel alert! Saboteurs have entered the base, getting past all security systems. Be on full alert.”

All around the team, everyone drops everything and rushes out the door. With a single sad thought at abandoning his bruallki, Devron tosses his tray on the floor and runs outside. Catching up to Nevin, he points toward the communications centre. Nevin nods, and the two rush towards the building. 

As he runs, Devron thinks of how he’s finally getting his chance to pay these Tuebor rebels back for killing Ashliye. Finally, he was getting his shot back at them. They will pay dearly for what they did, a fee that can only be settled in fire, pain and blood.

Deep within him, attuned to the rage building up inside him, his berserker abilities awaken from their stasis. They start to infuse their way through his system, like a chemical starting in the heart and being distributed throughout the body.

A faint tinge of red, too faint for Devron to realise, comes over his eyes. His fighting prowess is multiplied tenfold, and is at its peak when he reaches the door.

A single well-placed kick swings the door wide open. Following standard operating procedure, Devron flows into the room, his adrenalin slowing time down, making events pass in pictures rather than in time.

Look forward. Assess threat. None. Step in. Breathe. Turn away from door. Assess threat. One man, one woman. Aim at man’s head. Double-tap firing trigger. Breathe. Aim at secretary’s head. Double-tap trigger. No threat. Step forward and cover area behind door. Breathe. Assess threat. None.

“Clear, Nevin. Get in.”

Nevin steps in. “Sithspawn, how’d you do that? You never did a building insertion that well in practice assaults.”

“Don’t know. Come on, time to kick some Rebel ass and take some Rebel names.”

“Alright.”

They start up the stairway, pressing their backs against the wall. Slowly, they reach the door at the top that leads into the communications centre. Both men quietly set their weapon to stun, not wanting to damage the comm equipment. It could be of further use.

Nevin leans over, getting closer to him so as not to talk very loudly. “Double-prong insertion?”

“Copy. Don’t shoot unless I say. I’ll open the door.”

“Alright…” he says, not understanding but following along. “Let’s move.”

Devron stands on the right side of the door, Nevin pressing against his shoulder in the cramped hallway. He pokes Devron with the butt of his rifle, and casually, Devron opens the door and steps in.

Nevin follows him. Two of the comm technicians glance back at him before continuing on with their duties. The security officer, sitting at the door in a desk, looks up. “ID?”

“Yes, right here, sir.” Devron snaps off a salute, and barely manages to stop himself from grimacing in hate at the motion. Nevin follows suit, and both proffer their ID cards. The security official glances at them. “Alright. Cleared.”

Devron and Nevin move into the comm centre. It is a fairly large place, shaped like a square U. Devron moves over to the right side of the U, leans against the corner, and keeps his blaster rifle at the ready. Nevin does the same at the left corner.

“Nevin…Now!”

Devron levels his blaster rifle at the security officer and fires it. A blue stun bolt leaps out to strike the officer, who falls unconscious. Nevin picks off three of the five comm technicians in the centre with his rifle, and Devron finishes off the other two. Both then turn to their respective halls. 

As Devron turns, his berserker abilities take control of his body again. They discern that this is another time for finesse, not blind filling, and effectively work in conjunction with the finesse. 

Assess threat. Seven men. Six getting up. One running toward. Breathe. Aim at running man’s head. Double-tap trigger. Set rifle for stun arc setting. Aim at group of three. Double-tap trigger. Breathe. Aim at group of two. Double-tap trigger. Breathe. Aim at last man standing. Double-tap trigger. Breathe.

Nevin, having similarly finished off his group, calls back to Devron. “What now?”

“Put a blaster bolt in each sleeping beauty. I’ll save two for possible interrogation. Then, we lock the door and secure the area. Make it happen.”

A blaster bolt sounds as Nevin kills off one of the men. Devron puts two stun bolts in the two men he decides to save for possible torture and interrogation, then sets his rifle to kill to relieve the rest of the men of their lives. 

“Nevin, if you would be so kind as to receive any incoming comm calls, I’m going to get some information.”

“Alright.” Nevin looks at him, smiling knowingly. “Don’t get too brutal.”

Devron grins evilly. “Why shouldn’t I? These guys killed Ashliye. Besides, I have two. What’s it going to hurt to beat one to death?”

Nevin laughs and goes to check on his hall, leaving Devron to his fun.

“Alright, guys,” Devron says, rubbing his hands together, “here’s where the fun begins. Which one of you is higher-ranked?”

One of the comm techs speaks. “We’re the same rank.”

“More fun! Don’t we all love compartmentalisation? Fortunately for you, it doesn’t apply here, so I have no qualms about killing one of you. The other one who’s unfortunate enough to survive will be shipped back to my base, where they’ll be subjected to a more thorough interrogation. Any questions? No? Good, let me read you your rights. You have the right to speak at any time. If and when you speak, your words will be used against the Tuebor Rebels. You have the right to a beating if you do not speak. If you do not want the beating, then you must speak. Do you understand your rights?”

Both nod mutely. “Good. Let’s start with you.” He picks out the guy on the right. “What are you Rebels planning?”

“Well, we were getting ready to run a major assault in about a month.”

“And where was this assault going to be against?”

The techie summons up some spine. “I’m not going to tell you that. You’re an enemy to our cause.”

Devron shrugs. “Fine with me.” As the techie relaxes, and the other one gets a glint of defiance in his eye, Devron takes a metal pipe about a meter long by one end and swings it, bringing the hard metal of the pipe against the techie’s jaw. A sickening crack can be heard, and blood starts flowing out of a gash in his cheek. The techie screams. “You broke miee jahh!”

“A pity,” Devron says, all the casual conversation gone from his voice, replaced by cool hatred. “It would appear you can still talk, though. Answer my question.”

“No!” he screams, holding his jaw in one hand.

Devron smiles grimly, grabs the pipe in a smashball type of grip, and swings it with all his force. Upon impact, the tech’s forearm snaps, giving him even more to scream about. “That’s enough for you, I think.” He tosses the pipe away, having had enough of that toy. It lands on the stomach of one of the dead technicians and rolls off. “And now, after the brief commercial break advertising the consequences of having a spine when you’re a Tuebor Rebel, it’s time to play…. Question the Quarren!” He looks over to see Nevin coming over to him, chuckling at his announcer-thing. 

“Nevin, why don’t we tell Contestant Number Two the grand prize for answering all the questions correctly?”

Nevin picks up where he left off, delivering with even more of an annoying-announcer voice. “Well, Devron, the winner of Question the Quarren gets an all-expenses-paid trip to the Surep Command Base! There you will have lots of nights and lots of days staying at the fabulous Surep Prisoners of War Jail, where the towels are oh-so-dirty and the food meets your basic nutritional requirements, and tastes like something that just came out from your backyard! The winner also gets to take a daily tourist trip through the Museum of interrogation, and learn about new context of pain as our seven expert interrogators learn all your deepest, darkest secrets! Back to you, Devron.”

“All right, thank you, Nevin! Now, let’s play… Question the Quarren! Does Contestant Number Two have any questions?”

The unfortunate tech shakes his head.

“Then… Let’s start the questions!” Applause from Nevin, and the interrogation continues…

…Thirty to forty minutes later and a few “incentives” to talk given by a few well-placed, but hardly near fatal, shots with his rifle or other similar tortures, Devron had almost all the information he wanted. Nevin was grinning, knowing the last question Devron was going to ask.

“Which one of you helped plan an assault on the former Surep Command and Research Base?”

Silence for a few minutes. Then, the healthier of the two techs points over at the one with the broken jaw. 

“Is that true?”

Broken-Jaw nods.

Devron smiles. “So, you were the one who killed my wife. Even if it wasn’t direct.”

The tech blanches, his face going dead white.

Smiling all the while, Devron sets his blaster on the heaviest kill setting there is on the A280, which is a very powerful setting for a very powerful blaster rifle. “I’m sure you understand how hard it is to lose your wife. Especially if you sometime find the person who helped in it. Nevin?”

“Yes, Dev?”

“Do me a favour, and run this guy’s picture through the computers. Find his address, and tell me. His family’s going to pay.”

“Hell, Dev, you’re almost as revenge-minded as the Hutts are.”

“Thank you.” He turns his attention back to the techie, who stammers, “Pleasss, pleass, dunn kill miee wife and kids…”

“It’s only fair. You destroyed my life. Now I destroy yours.”

“Pleassss! Pleeassss!” His voice is slurred from his jaw.

“Shut up.”

“Pleasss! Ple-“

Devron snaps his blaster rifle into firing position. The crosshairs of his holographic sights line up directly between the man’s legs.

“Noooooooooo!”

Devron keeps his gun in that position and looks at the tech’s face, rather enjoying this moment of agony before the pain. Then, with no regrets whatsoever, he pulls the trigger.

With a slight kickback, a thicker-than-normal crimson bolt fires out of his weapon and hits right on target. The techie screams in utter agony.

“I’m sure your wife wouldn’t want you now.”

The techie manages to summon up enough strength to throw Devron the bird.

“Oh, that’s it, you grimy festering little piece of…” Devron picks up the pipe and starts beating the techie’s head in with it. After a few minutes of berserker-induced rage, he stops and hurls the pipe aside. The other tech, spattered with blood on his grey-and-white uniform, looks at Devron with pure fear lurking behind his eyes.

Nevin comes around the corner. “God, Dev, was it necessary to make that much of a mess?”

“He made me mad.”

“Oh.”

Suddenly, his commlink crackles with static, being roused out of its wait-state from an incoming transmission. “Devron, Nevin! This is Tewir, from the north sentry post. You have a force of twelve hostiles coming in to take over the comm centre. Do you copy?”

“I copy. Out.” He switches off his comm and turns to Nevin. “Put on your formal suit and get ready for a party.”

“Alright. What are we gonna do about him?” Nevin gestures to the techie.

“Stun him, if you will, and lock the door coming in here. I’m going to surprise them from the rear. When you hear an explosion, then shooting, open the door and shoot at them. Be careful not to hit me.”

“What are you doing?”

“Going out the window and coming in the front door. I’m going to throw a flash-bang in at them, then start shooting while they’re blind and deaf. It’ll be like shooting ysalamiri off a tree. Alright?”

“Copy that. Don’t flash-bang yourself.”

“Alright. Don’t shoot at me and I won’t shoot at you.”

“Alright.”

Devron walks to the window, getting ready. Devron fishes a ten-metre length of syntherope out of his utility belt and ties it to the windowsill. Then, he opens the window quietly and looks out. Waiting until the last of the men are in the building, he quietly climbs out of the window and slowly lowers himself down the wall.

He drops the last two meters and lands in a crouch, making almost no sound. Still crouched, he moves over to the open door. 

The last of the twelve are starting up the staircase. The first, which Devron assumes is the commanding officer, is knocking on the door and demanding that Nevin come out.

Quietly, Devron unhooks two of his Merr-Sonn Luma-Decibel grenades. Setting both for a two-second fuse upon release of the lever, he hurls both in the staircase at the same time, slams the door shut, and slides down with his back to it, holding his hands over his ears.

A flash comes from the window, accompanying a muffled bang that came from both the grenades. Quickly, Devron spins around, swings the door open, and begins to fire. He kneels against the doorjamb as to present a smaller target profile to protect himself from a stray friendly or hostile shot, targeting carefully before double-tapping his trigger.

In a matter of minutes, all the hostiles were dead. Both him and Nevin suffered no injuries. Locking the first door behind him, he sprints up the staircase and slaps Nevin’s upraised hand. “Good work, Nevin. Which window do you want to take?”

“What, you think they’re coming back?”

“They could be. Luckily, there’s only one door and the only two windows are facing front, on either side of the comm centre. I think we’ll have to play God.” He says this with reference to one of the best holovids made, in which a sniper was code-named God. Devron had the holovid in his collection, and watched it often.

Nevin nods, it being one of his favourite movies too. “I’ll take the right side. You can have left.”

“Sounds like fun. Let’s make it happen.”

Nevin moves to his window, and Devron follows suit after turning the lights out.

“What the…?”

“It’s alright, Nevin. I’m making it so we don’t have a silhouette in the window. You have your infrared helmet, don’t you? Put it on.” Devron follows his own advice, putting on his own helmet. He also runs a 5-metre cable from the helmet to his A280, tying the weapon in with a set of holographic targeting software. A targeting cross appears on his helmet, moving with his gun.

Using some obscure piece of techie equipment as a firing stand, he sets his gun upon it. Sighting with his IR imaging equipment, he settles down in a high-raised chair for the wait… 

The Queen drew her hand back from Devron’s head quickly, as though she had been burned. Even though she had tried to shield herself from his memories, out of respect for the normally gentle scientist and General, some of the more painful ones were still able to reach her.

There was so mush pain, so much suffering that Devron had been forced to endure. She knew now that it was the loss of Ashliye that had caused the first awakening of his berserker abilities, and that he grieved for her still. That was why he sometimes seemed so quiet and withdrawn. 

A commotion at the door caused the Queen to look up in alarm. The Grand Admiral was there, determined to speak with her, but it seemed as if the guards she had placed outside were in fact doing their duties as she had asked. With a sigh, she reinforced the sleep seal on Devron, and walked into the corridor.

“What is it?” she asked him, not unkindly.

“I must know what it is that Devron discovered.” The Riddler held out a small device and she shook her head, not recognising it.

“It is of Sith manufacture. They must have been monitoring him, for they could have attacked at any moment. There is a reason that the General is in this state, and we must know what it is.”

“So, the Sith were able to infiltrate the palace. Have you found his attackers?”

“Not yet, your majesty.” his head was bowed slightly.

“Then you must find them, and how they knew to attack. This threat to our sovereignty must end.”

“It will, but we must have the information that Devron found.” The Riddler pushed past the Queen into the room.

“What are you doing?” the Queen gasped.

“I will take the information by force. There is no other way. We must have that information.”

Instinctively, the Queen raised a hand, and the Grand Admiral could go no further into the room. Despite his struggles, she did not allow him to move forward towards Devron’s inert form.

“You would chance losing him forever for the sake of some information? Even if that data was the location of the Sith’s base I would never allow you to do that. His mind is a tangled mess at the moment, and I am doing all I can to sort that out. If you go charging in there, you could do permanent damage to Devron, and I thought you were his friend. You will have your information when the timing is right, for now, go and search for the people who did this, I no longer wish to speak with you.”

The Riddler had no choice but to leave and the Queen returned to her vigil, tears now falling freely down her face.

…Soon, Devron picks up movement in his peripheral vision. He swings his blaster rifle towards it, grinning with grim pleasure. He zooms in, taking a few extra seconds to look at the face. It was definitely a Tuebor Rebel face. Devron lines up the sights with the man’s chest and taps the firing trigger twice. His sighting dims out the blaster bolts as a built-in protection, but he can still see them clearly lance into the man’s body. He falls, and with a cry of alarm, more Rebels come pouring out of other buildings. To his right, Nevin starts picking them off. Devron swings his rifle to aim at another’s chest again, and a double-tap brings him to the ground. 

After a few more moments of hesitation, the Rebels drop to a knee and begin firing at the source of their death. Most of the bolts miss, though, and Devron picks off five more people. As he’s lining his crosshairs up on the sixth, though, a bolt catches him square in the shoulder. With a sharp cry of agony, he falls backward.

Nevin’s firing stops. Hurriedly, Devron toggles on his comm. “No! Keep firing…at them. It’s just a shoulder shot. I’ll be fine… It just hurts like hell.”

The sounds of Nevin’s firing commences again, and Devron smiles. He begins to get up slowly, but as he does, his memories advance to another part of his life… 

…”I have decided the verdict,” Judge Gen. Flechando says upon returning to his bench. “Under the circumstances, Devron, I’m sorry to say that we have to discharge you from the Tuebor Defensive Military on the charges of assaulting a commanding officer. Your defender gave good reasons, and you have been a great help to this military in stifling the Tuebor Rebels. So, I have chosen to make your discharge an honourable one.” He turns to the prosecutor, the commanding officer whose leg Devron accidentally cut off while in a berserker rage. “Colonel Lioroy, do you accept this, or do you wish an appeal?”

The Colonel stands from his chair, using a cane in lieu of his missing leg. “Judge, I also agree that Devron was a great help to our military, and I would be personally unhappy if Devron’s discharge was anything but honourable.”

The judge nods and suddenly the courtroom shimmers as Devron is transported into another stage in his life… 

…He’s sitting in the comfortable dewback-leather seat of his personal shuttle, the Berserker’s Discharge, preparing to take off. He flips the necessary switches and the engine cluster in the back thrums to life. The black shuttle’s rear end glows blue from the engine clusters.

“Berserker to Tuebor Space-Traffic Control, come in.”

“We copy, Berserker.”

“Requesting permission to take off from Landing Bay 13.”

“Permission granted, Berserker. Have a nice trip.”

“Thank you, Tuebor. Over and out.”

Devron shuts off the comm, grimacing at the feigned pleasantry of the STC personnel. He pushes the throttle forward, and the low roar of the engines increases as the Berserker’s Discharge rises into the air. He angles the nose of the sleek shuttle-shaped like a predator’s talon, which is one of the reasons he chose it- into the air, and it streaks into the cool, crisp night air of Tuebor.

After he leaves the atmosphere and is away from space traffic, he slows the engines to almost a complete stop and starts scrolling through his navcomp. He closes his eyes and hits the Down and Up buttons randomly, opening his eyes to see where he was going.

“Hmm… Domus Prime. Never heard of it. Oh well, it’s probably better than where I’m coming from.”

With a grimness characteristic of him nowadays, he lets the navcomp make its calculations and pushes the hyperspace lever forward. The Berserker’s Discharge shoots into hyperspace, leaving nothing behind it but bad memories… 

…”Beep beep beep beep beep…”

Devron grabs the hyperspace lever and drags it back. With a wrench, the Berserker’s Discharge moves from hyperspace to realspace. He looks down at a screen displaying the planet and distance, among other items of information.

The comm crackles to life. “Unidentified ship, this is Domus Prime Traffic Control Centre. Please identify yourself and your intentions.”

“This is Berserker’s Discharge, coming out of Tuebor. Intentions are to move to this planet.”

“Copy, Berserker. We have landing bays available to buy for 800 credits.”

“I’ll take one.”

“All right, Berserker, you are cleared to land in Docking Bay 68. A customs official will be present shortly to collect money and scan your cargo for contraband.”

“Copy.” Devron shuts off his comm and begins to pilot his shuttle along the short-range beacon guiding incoming ships to the landing zone…

…Fifteen standard minutes later, Devron gets the last of his boxes moved into a hotel suite, to stay for a couple of days until he can find cheap housing and a job. He powers up his datapad and starts searching through jobs available. Something catches his eye. 

“Designer Wanted,

Fuhenteki Na Shiro is looking for a designer to come up with new concepts for weaponry. An advanced education and job experience is necessary in one or more of these fields: Starship Design, Starship Design Specialised: Capital, Starship Design Specialised: Starfighter, Weapons Design, Weapons Design Specialised: Heavy Artillery, Weapons Design Specialised: Personal Weaponry, Ground Vehicle Design. Quarters supplied in the Palace. Apply in person from 9 to 6 at the Palace. Bring qualifications and a portfolio of designs.” 

Devron shuts off his datapad and jumps to his feet. Digging through a wall of boxes, he comes across one labelled, “Designing Tools.” Ten minutes later, he starts in at designing a new ground assault vehicle…

…After 5 cups of barely sweetened coffeine and an inspiration stint that used up a month’s worth of ideas and spanned the whole night and about half of the day, Devron was finished with designing things for his portfolio. He has a capital ship, three starfighters and two ground assault vehicles in his little file, all fully detailed and fleshed out.

Quickly, he takes a shower, dresses for the occasion (no executive suit; only under the rarest of circumstances does he ever wear a suit), snatches up his little file, and hops in his SoroSuub XP-78. As he pulls out onto the busy street running towards the Palace, he slides closed the canopy, activates the music system, and smiles as the heavy beat of the latest song by the band Emergency Deployment, called “Flight Control,” flows into the speeder, slightly shaking the seats and the steering console as he drives toward the Palace…

“Name?”

“Devron Zal.”

“Age?”

“29.”

“Education?”

Devron hands the slightly bored man behind his desk the paper of his qualifications. Upon seeing it, the man nods, perhaps in appreciation or in gratitude in being one step closer to the end of one of the thousands of interviews he has to handle. “Portfolio?”

The file containing drawings and specifications is set on the desk. The man thumbs through it for about fifteen seconds before looking up at Devron, surprise registering in his eyes. “Pretty good work you have here. Very detailed.” He slides a piece of paper over the desk. “Sign.”

Devron glances at it before bringing out a green pen and signing on the black line.

“Good. You have the job.” He brings out a commlink. “Opal, we have us a new designer. Come down, if you can, and help him find some quarters.”

A few minutes later, a delicately pretty woman walks in, wearing blue robes. She beckons him to her. “Come on. I’ll show you around.”

She starts taking him on a tour of the palace, and Devron’s sort of stunned. Nice place, this. She shows him into about every room. When they pass a stairwell leading down without following it, he stops her. “What’s down there?”

“A dungeon. It hasn’t been used for the past decade or so.”

“Can we go down there?”

“Yes, I guess.” She leads him down the stairwell, opens the door and flips a switch. Glowpanels illuminate a dank, stone room, with a hallway leading across to another room. On either side of the hallway and bordering the second room are cells that once held prisoners. Another hallway leads from the second room, this one shorter and ending in a good-sized room, maybe about 10 meters square.

“I get to choose my room, right?”

“Right. However, if you wish to choose now, we can…”

“I want this to be my room.”

She blinks. “This?”

“Yeah. It looks like it’d be a lot of fun to customise to my own wants and desires, and besides, it’s probably the biggest room in the palace. It wouldn’t take much to get this” he gestures to the 10 meter square room, “looking like one of the more conventional rooms. And the rest, I can do with what I please.”

“Do you want someone to come down and make up your room for you?”

It is his turn to blink. “Alright, I guess.”

“Surprised?”

He nods.

“Don’t be. With orders from the Queen, most anything can happen. And when the Queen sees your first designs, she’ll probably fall in love with your abilities. Should I send the people in now?”

“Sure.”

She leaves to summon the contractors, abandoning Devron to his new room and wild, ecstatic thoughts about how he’s going to get it fit to his own liking… 

…As he waits for the designers to come, he gets rather impatient and decides to take a free roaming tour of the palace. He walks up the stairs out of the dungeon and takes a right down the hall. There were a lot of portraits of the former royals hanging on either side. He came to a the last one and noticed that it was just one person, a young girl, “Probably the princess.” 

He looked down the hall back at the paintings, he saw that many of them were fading away with age, he also noticed the burn marks placed sporadically about them. “I wonder what made those marks?” He questioned himself as he took a closer look. “The burn marks are quite consistent with the burn marks of a…”

“Lightsabers comin’ through!” Devron quickly ducks out of the way with great agility. He looks up to see a man, or at least it looks like a man, with a rather strange looking hat on his head. The hat had three endings each with a bell and his shoes also came with bells. 

“Oh, hi!” The odd looking man turned off his two lightsabers and extended his hand. Devron did the same, “Name’s Jester. I’m the court entertainer.”

“You mean the court jester.”

“Ya, whatever! So, who are you?

“The name’s Devron Zal, I’m new here.”

“Really, where ya from?”

“Tuebor.”

“Oh, I’ve been there, small town about 16 miles south of here, right?”

“No.” He looks at Jester oddly, “It’s a planet.”

“Oh. So what ya here for?”

“New designer.”

“Like interior designs. Great! Come look at my room, I need a second opinion.”

“No, no, no. A weapons designer.”

“Oh.” Jester begins to trail off. “Hey! Are you coming to the palace Fair tonight? I’ll be performing!”

“I’ll think about.” Devron rolls his eyes and continues his tour.

His vision fades out, and his mind transports him to another stage in his life… 

…Leaning back in his chair, Devron props his feet up on his desk, datapad in lap. A few quick commands get Emergency Deployment’s latest album playing in the Dungeon and a few more brings up his holographic drawing program. After a few minutes of thought, grappling with his brain, an idea forms. Quickly, before it starts to fade, he begins typing rapidly. A 3D hologram starts to assemble itself.

A knock at his door resounds lightly, Devron, lost in thoughts, does not hear. 

The visitor outside knocks again, then finds the small red button and presses it.

Inside the Dungeon, an air-raid klaxon sounds, giving off a few loud noises before it ceases. He shuts off Emergency Deployment and flips a switch under his desk. The door swings open on servos, and his battle droid shows the visitor in to see Devron.

The visitor accompanying the battle droid is dressed in blue robes, which Devron recalls are the Queen’s Handmaiden’s robes. She walks over to him and extends her hand. He shakes it, smiling at her. A first impression of her runs through his head: ‘She’s pretty.’ 

“Hi, I’m Catherine,” she says in a light voice. “The Queen wanted to see how her new designer was doing, so I came down here.”

“I’m Devron, and down here, I’m the resident genius. I’m also the best fighter pilot in the Dungeon. Neither the droideka or my battle droid can kill me even when I’m in a chunky little ancient TIE Fighter with half its engine matrices blown and it pilots an X-wing.”

“I see”, she says, not getting it. “What are you working on here?”

“It’s a fully contained ground assault vehicle. It has no windows, and all of its sensors, weaponry and shield projectors are hidden inside niches. Sensors feed a 3D model of everything around the vehicle to the pilot and gunners. One set of shields protects the whole thing, and another set protects just the repulsorlift drives, giving them double shield protection. It has multiple emplacements for turbolasers, proton torpedoes and proton bombs. It carries, among other things, a squadron of the chosen bomber, three AT-ATs and five AT-STs. If you take the squadron out, you can put in thirty AT-PTs. If you want all troops, you can toggle a switch, and the partition between the starfighter and AT-series bays will slide down, and you can put ten dropships in there. The shield generators have double backups similar to those found in Mon Calamari MC80 Star Cruisers. The vehicle also has ion drives and a Class One hyperdrive system, so its massive size doesn’t hamper its manoeuvrability.”

She blinks once at the description. “Well, it sounds like it can definitely fight.”

“It can. Good, too. Want a demonstration?”

“Alright.”

He types rapidly into his datapad, and the lights go out. Instantly, a holographic landscape appears over his desk, and one of his creations hovers into view. A bit more typing, and the thing freezes. One of his side holopanels lights up with information such as payload, crew, weaponry, and how many meters over the ground (300), etc. Another rapid bit of typing, and the metal quadrilateral of death hovers across his desk. When it reaches the middle of his desk, it stops advancing over the desk, instead the landscape moving to simulate the creation moving. Soon, a group of buildings hovers into view, and X-wings deploy. The thing deploys its TIE Bomber squadron and begins firing at the X-wings while it moves. The Y-wings bomb the buildings and soon, the thing joins in, loosing proton bombs from 3 hidden chutes in its front section. Soon, the buildings are reduced to rubble. He types a bit more, and the landscape fades out, the creation fires a few turbolasers into the air, and text hovers in front of Catherine’s pretty face saying “Demonstration Ended. Have A Nice Day!”

She laughs and begins to say something, but he begins to move on again. In the pre-memory blackness, he remembers just before the war ended, when he decided he might be in love with her. But, as his next memory comes into being, the thought fades out, and he begins living out another part of his life, in his dreams…

It was growing late, and she had stretched her powers to the limit to try and track down the last of Devron’s memories without him noticing. Although she knew that sleep would be her best option at this moment, she had to give the Grand Admiral the information she had gathered. She sighed, and used the Force to block the worst of the pain from her mind as she stood up and left the medical centre where Devron remained, dreaming.

Jedi Nay and the other girl still stood outside and moved to follow her, but the Queen sent them back to their own rooms to sleep.

She shook her head lightly, and moved towards the dungeon where she knew he would be. 

Sure enough, at the bottom of the stairs sat the Riddler searching through a pile of rubble, trying to find some clue as to what had caused the explosion, and why.

“I am sorry for snapping at you before” he looked up, startled having not heard her come into the dungeon. “I was just worried for Devron. So much has gone wrong recently, and I am not sure that I can cope. Perhaps it would be better if I was not Queen.”

“You know that you are doing a fine job as Queen, it’s just that circumstances seem to be conspiring against you.”

“Perhaps”, she sighed tiredly. 

“How is Devron?” he asked, and she remembered why she had come down to the dungeon in the first place. She was just so tired, her mind kept wandering. For a moment she thought she would fall over, but she steadied herself and nodded.

“He will be fine in the morning. I came to tell you”, she started to lose her grip and fall, “I came”, her world was blacking out, and the Riddler quickly stood to catch her in his arms.

“What is it?” he asked concerned.

“‘Toxtenkopp’. I came to tell you ‘Toxtenkopp’.” 

And with that the Queen fell, succumbing to the darkness of a sleep that had eluded her for two days.

On to Chapter IV!

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