Chapter 9

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 “Sir, I just sent a list of key personnel I want for my squad,” Kenobi said.

“I’m pulling them up as you speak, Commander,” Darius Trajan replied. He leaned back in a chair in his Westport office, and scanned through the selections. Til'trius... a slicer with an impressive record, at least for a Bith. He'd probably do. Next, a soldier on mandatory leave? Tarkin did recommend that one.

“I wish I could suggest a better group, but you’re aware of our restrictions.”

Darius frowned. As he knew too well, if they had any hope of freeing the hostages, it required using personnel located near Rodia’s Tyrius system. Kenobi didn’t sound confident in his selections. But how could he? Anyone I had chosen to lead this operation would struggle with only an hour’s preparation. Kenobi proved he was a leader in the clone wars, not some spineless Jedi underling. He was the right choice, given the options. 

“I’m intrigued you selected the droid over Elaroona Granjium,” Tarkin's hologram commented. “We’ve commissioned the Gotal for ops in the past, and she has proved very… effective.”

“I’ve listed her as a backup,” Kenobi responded, "as I opted for someone I’ve worked with in the past.”

Trajan raised an eyebrow. Someone? Interesting word choice for a droid.

"There’s no room for failure here," Kenobi continued, "so I’d prefer not to work with mercenaries, and their questionable loyalties, if at all possible."

Tarkin pursed his lips. “Then explain why you wish to enlist the help of a smuggler?”

Trajan rubbed his forehead. Tarkin was already at it with Kenobi, second guessing the Commander’s choices. This was Kenobi’s operation, and Trajan had brought in Tarkin to serve in a support role, chiefly to advise on the escape through Rodian space. He might need to remind Tarkin of that.

“A valuable precaution,” Kenobi said. “Employing a smuggler helps protect our cover in transporting us to and from Rodia. And again, I know the person.”

“Very well. Mission success is your responsibility.” Tarkin replied. "As would be its failure."

“Let’s assemble this team then,” Trajan said, cutting off further debate. “Commodore, you contact the slicer. Commander, arrange a contract with the smuggler. I’ll handle the rest.”

* * *


IG-68 painted one laser on his moving target’s left temple, and another just below his cheekbone. Ithorians were tough. There was no guarantee that only one clean shot to their hammer-shaped head would inflict sufficient damage.

The lasers were carefully below the visible spectrum of his target's and the guards’ eyes, but easily detected by his droid sensors.

The weapon in IG-68’s hands whistled a series of sinister sounds in a minor key.

“Ax, I admire your zeal to punish this vile reprobate,” the assassin droid soothed, “but two bullets should suffice to fulfill the demands of justice.”

She murmured melodically in disappointment. IG-68 was puzzled by how he had constructed such a maniacal droid. Perhaps it reflected something in himself, an exaggeration of his own passion to stamp out the depraved. Still, he couldn’t understand how that fervor could be so twisted.

IG-68 shook his head and pulled the trigger. Two mini fletchets launched from the weapon droid’s sides and zipped towards the target along the laser-guided trajectory IG-68 set. The smart bullet directed to the target’s cheekbone struck first, followed by the one fixed on his temple. They tore through the Ithorian’s head, a squirt of brains and bone fragments trailing after them.

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