Chapter 14: "That all depends on you, Captain. No one else."

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Pina cursed. He ran toward the motionless figure who had risked everything to save the lives of his men. Even the battle didn't seem important any more.

He knelt by her side and carefully pulled her arm away from her face.

The Lady Jish looked at him through half closed eyes. Blood and mud coated her cheek.

"Promise me something, Pina," she whispered. "Promise me . . ."

"Don't speak. I'll take you to the Reaver. Our medical technology can–"

She winced at his words and shook her head. "No. Not the Reaver. Not your Empire." She grabbed his arm and the strength in her hand surprised him. "Promise me that there will no reprisals against my planet. Please . . ."

Pina nodded. "I do promise you that, if it is in my power. Karion provoked the situation. Perhaps he did so intentionally, but he did so all the same. But I promise you, the planet will not suffer any reprisals from the Reaver."

A faint smile lit her face up. "Thank you, Captain. That is good. Perhaps we are not so different?"

Whatever answer Pina was about to make was forgotten as Jish's eyelids fell shut. With a moan she slumped back to the earth, her breathing barely detectable.

King Garrand and Queen Myr arrived in their speeder, driven by a Farsalt guard. Two more followed. Queen Myr knelt by Jish's side and carried out a brief examination. For the first time Pina became aware that the sounds of fighting had ended. A quick glance back at the camp's wall showed no signs of any living being. Pina didn't know why that would be, but he was grateful of it.

He ordered his men back from the walls as quickly as possible, knowing the quiet might not last.

"Captain Pina, this was not our doing," King Garrand explained. "Farsalt should not be punished–"

"You won't be." Pina gestured to the unconscious form of Lady Jish. "Take good care of her. The best. I will send a medical droid from the Reaver to help."

"We have no need of that, Captain. And after today I am not sure any more Imperial intervention would be welcome."

"Imperial technology is the finest in the galaxy, King Garrand. Despite our politics, is it not worth the offer?"

Queen Myr looked up at the two remaining Sentient Fences.

"Your technology nearly got you all killed today, Captain. Without the help of my dear Jish, none of you would have escaped the anger of the refugees."

"I shall send the droid nonetheless. It is important to me that she makes a sound recovery." He looked Queen Myr in the eye. "She is a very admirable woman. Tell me, why did she help us? She damned me just a few moments before."

Queen Myr stood as the Farsalt soldiers put Jish on a stretcher and carefully lifted her onto one of the speeders.

"She did it for two reasons, Captain Pina. The first was pragmatic." The Queen's eyes narrowed. "And against my advice too. But she chose to save you because if she didn't, and you had all died, then the Reaver would have made an example of our planet. Hundreds, perhaps thousands would have perished from the Star Destroyer's cannons. The second reason is one which I doubt you will understand. She did it because she is a good person, who hates to see people in trouble. Even if those people are murderers who hide behind a uniform and act under the excuse of duty and orders."

She climbed aboard the speeder and sat next to the still form of Jish. With a mother's tenderness she stroked the young woman's hair. Tears appeared in the Queen's eyes.

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