The Conflict Resolves
Moricho never made it to the repair bay. He walked down the hallways of the Malignant
towards the main airlock, but once he was certain Loxar wasn't following him he changed directions and headed for the armory. There wasn't much activity on the halls as he walked down them. Most of the crew was off duty because of the repairs, and they seemed to all be using the time to sleep. When Moricho finally reached the armory, he quickly keyed in his access code and the door slid open with a swift hiss. An emergency light cast a faint orange glow across the otherwise black room. Moricho's hand went to the wall and he flicked on a small switch, causing the incandescent light to illuminate the room.
The ships armory was filled with racks upon racks of firearms, ranging from small handheld blasters to guns as massive as the Merr-Son Portable Missile System and bigger. He was not in here for guns though. Walking past the rows of weaponry he stopped at a small crate with a flipdown lid. Reaching down he gingerly opened the lid revealing what he had been looking for. Sitting at the bottom of an otherwise empty crate was a long spring-device with arm wraps that went all the way up it. On the main collar of the device, which wrapped around the wearers wrist, were four dart launchers, and farther up the arm was another springloaded catch, specifically designed for a combat viroblade knife. The knife, which appeared to be a perfect fit, was laying next to the device, and on the other side was a small black box. Moricho lifted the box and opened its clasp with a quiet click
. Inside were four rows of five darts each, two in the box and two on the underside of the lid. Moricho pulled out four and loaded them quietly into the dart mechanism on the spring device. Then, he rolled up his sleeve and strapped it to his arm. Finally, he picked up the viroblade and stopped.
I know what I'm doing. Loxar can't control himself anymore. If I don't do this now, the entire organization will crumble at the seams. If he wasn't crazy he'd want me to do this.
What am I thinking? This is crazy, he hasn't done anything to warrant that kind of accusation.
His hand wavered for a moment and began to set the knife down.
But then again, of course its crazy. Madness is the only answer to madness, and its obvious the captain has regressed into some deep psychosis that only I can free him from. I <u>must</u> free him from it. Its like a virus, and if I don't stop him from destroying himself he'll take the rest of us down with him.
Moricho snatched the knife back up and pushed it into its chamber. If he tensed his arm muscles a certain way the knife would jetison itself down into the palm of his hand. If he tensed his wrist a certain way, the darts would launch where ever his arm was pointed.
Where did he say he was going?
"Yes...I'll be in my new quarters on the station if you need anything."
Ah, thats it.
Pulling his sleeve back down over his arm, Moricho closed the crate, flicked out the lights, and walked out of the armory, now heading towards the Captain's Quarters.
Loxar yawned a long, drawn out Trandoshan yawn. He hadn't gotten to sleep in going on fourty-three hours and felt like he could barely hold his eyes opened any longer. He sat in the captain's quarters on board the Malignant
. It was a fairly large room with a luxurious bed and bathroom set with blue carpetting and white walls, quite different from the militaristic feel of the rest of the ship. He sat on his bed, to the left of it was a large dresser with a tall mirror standing beside it. A single light cast shadows around the room from a lamp sitting on the dresser. Looking into the large mirror Loxar noticed the deep pits swelling around his eyes. He couldn't keep doing this to himself. He had expected to be fully wired after the battle, but in reality it had drained him. All the stress and constant wondering had come down to that battle, and when the time came he found himself very apathetic. He had always hated the Empire, and had always hoped that the Rebellion would win, but at the same time he did feel a slight pang of guilt at the millions who died which were only doing their job. It was, of course, true that some Imperials genuinely enjoyed their status. They thrived when they knew others feared them or their power. They relished in torture and demoralizing the crew. But most, were infact normal people. They had families, lives, and things they liked doing. Some of them didn't like their government, others couldn't care less, they had their own problems to deal with. He was sure a great many people like that had died as well, not freedom fighters or oppresionists, but normal people--and that made him saddest of all.
Some change had come over him in the past week. It was dificult to place, but it felt like the opening of a window to a bright day. He had been in the dark, his heart festering and rotting in the darkness of his hatred. But now he felt lighthearted, and although fatigued he felt good about himself for the first time in a long time. Everything was going to turn out alright. Wiping his eyes one last time, he pulled the covers over his body, and turned out the light.
Normally the moment his door opened, the lights would have come on and the bed would have sent a gentle electropulse into his brain to wake him up, but tonight the lights didn't come on. Loxar lay peacefully asleep and Moricho Aerthur stood in the doorway, light streaming past him making his body into an eerie silohette.
I've got to do it now
, his mind jibed. I'll never get another chance like this, not when he's alone, not when he's so vulnerable.
Moricho's eyes glistend for a moment and he began to flex his wrist, readying the launchers. Then the lights cut on.
Loxar sat up in bed almost immediately and Moricho's reflexes kicked in. His outstreached arm snapped down to his side and his lunatic grin supressed into a blank stare.
"Yes? Yes what is it?" Loxar asked dazed, his eyes still hadn't adjusted enough for him to be able to see who the shadow was.
Moricho's mind raced...what could he say? "Just coming to report that repairs are going as planned," he heared himself utter. It was weak, but what else was there to say?
"You woke me up for that?!" Loxar hissed, obviously annoyed, but then his eyes locked with Moricho's and mistook the expression of disappointment for one of dispair.
Loxar's voice eased a little, "Ssssit down." he said finally, gesturing to a padded chair on the far side of the room.
Moricho sat stiffly.
One of the Trandoshan's scaly lips turned up into a smile, "Whats on your mind?"
Moricho was quite taken aback. Almost never had he had this kind of conversation with his Captain, in fact the only time he could remember it was during his first few months on board, and those had been private meetings. This was him barging in on his sleep, like a frightened child running to his mother after a nightmare.
"A lot," Moricho conceeded, the weight of the spring-mechanism was suddenly heavy on his arm. "I've been thinking a lot lately..."
"The past," Moricho put simply.
"Ahhhh," Loxar leaned back in bed, "the past. Thats always dangerous" he chuckled to himself, "I seem to have been thinking about the past a lot recently too, not always in fond terms though."
Moricho nodded but remained silent.
"Ahhh," Loxar said again, "I think I know whats on your mind. I suppose I should tell you, I owe you that much."
He's beginning to ramble, a sure sign of insanity
Moricho's mind started again, but then quieted.
"You want to know why I picked you on that station," Loxar's eyes looked up at Moricho expectantly and he managed a quick nod and what felt like a very fake smile.
"How'd you know?" Moricho asked.
"To tell you the truth, I've been thinking about it too. Maybe our brains are just on the same wavelength," he sighed and streached back, "I was first getting into my buisness when I found you. The Malignant
was brand new, the only ship I've ever bought legit in fact. I actually bought it from that prison a few months before I attacked it, one of life's little ironies I guess. Anyway, when I was scanning over the criminal reports, I realized that they were all pretty messed up people in there...except you. It seemed to me that you had commited almost nothing, something so trivial that the Empire's incarceration of you alone was enough to prove their hipocrasy of a 'fair trial.'"
Moricho thought back to what he had been imprisoned for, He and a couple of his friends, when he was in his late teens, had destroyed an Imperial research probe. It had been an accident, but the local athorities had claimed terroism and had all three of them sentenced to life. His two friends (I can't even remember their names now!
) had died in there, but he had survived, phisically at least.
Moricho nodded, "Thank you for clearing that up," he strained.
Loxar's eyes looked at him simpathetically, "Moricho...I...I'm sorry I got you involved in this. I should have turned you over to the rebellion or...or someone--It was wrong of me to use you as the posterchild of the Empire's cruelty. I had no buisness bringing on with me and turning you into a fugative...I see that now. I've begun to see a lot of things in the past few days."
Moricho suddenly felt a pang of guilt, and the once quiet voice now shouted in his mind, I love him like a father, like a friend. How did I ever even consider killing him?
Suddenly Moricho began to feel his own greif creep into him, "I...its...I wouldn't have had it any other way." He said finally with a genuine smile.
Loxar smiled back and stood up from bed in his pajamas, "Don't worry, it'll be over soon. Soon we'll get to rest."
Moricho's smile never wavered as he began to step out of the room, "I guess I better get back to those repairs...thanks a lot Captain. You don't know how much this means to me."
Loxars eyes were actually watering slightly, "I think I do. Goodbye."
Moricho then walked away, really towards repair this time, and the door slid shut.
Loxar's eyelids never got heavy again. Instead, he leaned back in bed thinking. He hadn't expected that back there, and he knew for a fact that Moricho had never intended on the talk. Maybe all he really wanted to do was give a report, but he had sat through the dialouge and Loxar had detected a profound change in him, as if a dense fog had finally burned away. He had, in fact, told the story mainly for self benefit. His guilt had been growing for a long time, and now he finally felt that he and Moricho were even. He had been suprised though, how stirred the story had made him. His greif and regret had flooded him, and it had taken all the skill he had to keep an outpouring of saddness inside. But he felt better now.
Stepping out of bed, he gave a mighty streach and let his joints settle again as he pulled on his uniform. He had to get out, go on a little stroll around the ship. It wouldn't be long until it and all this was gone. The Empire, in his eyes, was defeated--his purpose served. By the end of next week he was going to surrender himself and his people to the Rebel Alliance.
Moricho's step was quick and seamless as he walked through the halls of the shipyard. His mind was clearer then it'd been sence before--before what?
--before his incarceration.
He was starting to understand for the first time why Loxar had done the things he had...the pain was gone.
"Sir," a repair technician straighted as Moricho stepped by him.
His red eyes stopped for a moment on him, gazing at the man. It was an Ensign by rank, he was about five-five and had thinning blonde hair. His eyes were blue and his face unwrinkled. "I'd like a status update on repairs," Moricho said pleasantly.
The technician's eyes jumped for a moment and he ran through a large door, Moricho followed.
They were now standing in a large three walled room with the fourth wall made entirely out of glass. Outside this window was the massive Victory Star Destroyer's bridgetower. Hull repairs were apparently going by quickly, as the basic structure of the tower could be fully seen, and all of the scorched plating had been fully removed.
"We're currently 37% finished with all outer hull repairs, and 69% finished with system repairs. We should be done within six to nine days."
Moricho nodded his head, not looking at the technician but at the grandiose ship. "Very good, thanks for the update."
"Not a problem sir, would you like for me to take you on a tour of our workstations?"
Moricho turned back to the man and nodded, "Yes, that would be good."
"Yes sir, follow me."
Loxar's step was quiet as he plodded down the halls of the Malignant
. Slowly the sleep was beginning to creep back into his eyes and he felt like it might be good for him to go back to bed. Rubbing one of his eyes he leaned against the side of a bulkhead and tried to wake himself back up slightly. But before his hand hit the wall it vanished and he stumbled into a dark room, reeking of the odor of sex and lit only by a light blue glow on the far wall.
I've stumbled into one of my crew's rooms
he muttered. Very careless of them to have left their door unlocked like that. Must have been in a hurry to get someplace.
Deciding what they did in their rooms was private, Loxar began to gingerly step out--but then he heard it. A muffled scream from the far side of the room, apparently coming from behind the blue field. Loxar's eyes, now larger and able to see more clearly in the darkness, fell onto the bed. It was not made, and apparenlty all the sheets had been torn from it--there was a large bloodstain about halfway down it.
"What the hell went on in here?" Loxar whispered, and then remembered the scream and rushed to the blue forcefield. Curled up in fetal possition and sobbing was a naked woman. Blood was caked onto her thighs and her long brown hair was matted and tangled. She slowly looked up at him and locked her puffy, tear stung eyes with his.
"Your...your not him. Who are you?" she said finally, her voice cracked as she spoke--weak from crying.
"I'm Captain Loxar of this vessel. Who did this to you?" he asked, his voice was thick with disgust.
"Captain...Captain Loxar?" she muttered, "He mentioned you."
"Who, who mentioned me?"
"The pale man...I...I don't remember his name. He said he was going to...to kill...kill you."
Loxar's mouth dropped into a gape, "What, what did this pale man look like?"
He asked her, and for a moment he recognized confusion on her face, "You don't know? He, he acted like he was close to you. Said that you were going to be the end of him and everyone else...said that he had to kill you before you killed the crew."
A thousand questions were pulsing through Loxar's mind. It was apparent now that she was talking about Moricho. But why? Did he really want to kill him? Was she making this up? Was this really his doing? Was that why he was in his room tonight?
After almost a minute of silence the woman spoke again, "You...you didn't expect to find me here. How did you know?"
"I'm done answering your questions," Loxar retorted and walked away, before he did anything else he had to check who's room this really was.
"You're not just going to leave me here are you?!" she screamed back, "I know you. You're different. That's why he wanted to kill you, he said you were...were changing into something that couldn't function. You had developed morals."
The words hung in the air for a long time and Loxar remained motionless. Then he stepped back out into the hallway and looked at the door plate.
Room # 227
That was Moricho's room alright. Loxar stepped back inside, a deep pit welling in his stomach. "He told you all that did he?" Loxar asked, trying to sound skeptical but felt it was very thin.
"He...he didn't really. He thought I was asleep I guess...he has conversations with himself at night. I heard it all. The plans, the plotting, the mindless rantings about your procedures. It sounded like he really hated you."
Loxar shook his head slightly, "And where did he pick you up? I sure havn't seen you before."
She frowned, "I was on the station. He...he barged into our room and killed my Husband, and took me. I guess he killed my son too."
Loxar shook his head, "Did you're husband try to resist?" still trying to justify Moricho's actions.
"Of course he did, he had a family to protect and that man shot him dead for it. Even if he did claim that my husband was resisting, my son sure as hell didn't, and neither did I. I tried to surrender...but he wouldn't listen."
Loxar felt the entire experiance becoming slightly surreal, but finally managed to speak again. "He'll have to answer for his actions."
The woman's eyes seemed to light up, "Does that...does that mean..."
"You're free." Loxar nodded and walked over to the force field and switched its simple power device off. The blue glimmer vanished and the room fell into complete darkness. Bending down onto the floor, Loxar picked up a robe off of the ground and threw it to the woman, then flicked the bedside lamp on.
Reaching down to his belt, Loxar grabbed his comlink. "Repair Tech?" he shouted into it.
"We're here Captain."
"Send Moricho Aerthur to my quarters on the Malignant
, and have him escorted by a security force."
The technician's voice seemed to stutter, "Is something wrong Captain?"
"Don't question your orders, just do them," Loxar responded bitterly. He had trusted Moricho, pittied Moricho, and this was the thanks he got. That slimy little bastard wanted to kill him all the time. He was going to turn himself and his men over to the mercy of the Rebellion, but before he did so maybe there was one last life he'd need to take.
"Sir, theres a problem," the tech's voice came back meekly.
"And what might that be?" Loxar muttered.
"He left the repair zone about ten minutes ago halfway through his tour. Said that he was feeling tired and had to turn in. I'd suggest finding him in his quarters, if he's not there yet he should be any second."
It was then that Loxar noticed the door was opened, and Moricho Aerthur's sillohuette was blocking all light.
"Why?" Moricho asked quietly. "Why did you have to find her. Why did you have to come in here. Why did you have to TALK TO THAT SNIVELLING LITTLE BITCH!!!" His voice rose three levels to a demanding scream.
Loxar's eyes scanned him, but there was no weapon to be seen. "It doesn't matter Moricho, I'm sure theres an explanation which I'm dieing to hear."
Moricho chuckled, "You always had a way with words Loxar. Don't try to trick me, she told you everything. How do I know? Because thats just what little bitches like her like to do. I'm sorry Jes, it was fun" he paused, "but all good things have to end sometime." Loxar watched as Moricho reached out his arm and flicked back his wrist. Jes Meyolds collapsed to the ground, one of the poison darts protruding from her neck. Even in the dim light Loxar recognized the dart as a Cinanni Hunting Dart. The poison in that was strong enough to kill a Krayt Dragon in less then thirty seconds. She was dead before she hit the ground.
It was obvious now that Moricho was indeed armed, and Loxar had a sick feeling in his stomach.
"Why, why are you doing this?" He said finally.
Moricho let out a long, fufilling laughter, "Why? Why? Its because of you scaley, if you havn't figured it out yet. You've gotten too soft for the buisness, so like all pack animals when the leader gets weak the strongest takes his place." Loxar was about to say something but Moricho continued his voice cracking a little, "And the bitch of it is--You had talked me out if it!"
Loxar's eyes widened and his jaw dropped.
"Thats right, I was going to let her go. You're little speech to me in your quarters really did a number on me. I was going around feeling like I haven't felt in years, only to come back to the nice little suprise that it had all been a pile of bullshit. WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE STAYED AWAY!!" He shouted again. "I was going to let you live
, in fact I was willing to go with ANY
decision you made. I had finally decided that you were right, and that people weren't all bad. I had thought, 'maybe he isn't weak, maybe he's just found a differen't kind of strength.' Was I wrong as hell there. You know, it really hurts...I was starting to think of you as a...a father. A FUCKING FATHER! Can you believe that? I guess stuff really can be too good to be true."
Loxar's mind was swirling. Why had this happened? If Moricho was telling the truth, and he had no reason to lie about it now, then this could have all been avoided if Loxar hadn't rested his hand on the door. It could have all been avoided if he had just keept going or if he had just tried harder to go to sleep. "Mor..Moricho. It doesn't have to be like this. We can start, clean slate. I'll forget all of this ever happened and you can too. Lets go back an hour, back to the way it was before I fell through that door." He stared intently into Moricho's eyes. They seemed to be wandering away, almost disconnected.
I've still got a chance. Here's my lifeline. I can say yes and be myself again. Everything will be back to the way it was, and I'll be able to live with myself. I'll start to live my life the way I wanted to. Everything is changing. The Empire has already begun falling, Endor signified that. Maybe lives can be reformed, just like governments.
No. He's betrayed me and he's just too scared to die like a man. Everything he says is just a lie to save his neck. As soon as he gets to the bridge he'll have me arrested and executed. He's lied to me once, and he's doing it right now. The galaxy may change, but people never do.
Moricho's eyes focused once again on the Trandoshan captain, "I'm...I...must...no...won't"
Loxar felt a pang of hope. He was struggling. Some remant of sanity and morality was fighting back. He just had to make the right decision.
Suddenly the red eyes locked and it was apparent all of the internal conflict was over--permanently. One of the sides had completely taken over, and shut the other one out completely.
Moricho tensed his wrist and Loxar felt something like a stinger jab between the scales in his shoulder. In less then two seconds he was dead.
The bodies of High Captain Loxar was discovered in his room in bed the next day. According to the medics he had been hit with conjestive heart failure that night and died peacefully in his sleep. The repair technician never spoke a word about his interesting conversation. Jes Meyold's body, however, had been burned in an incinerator. It was pointless to have anyone find it, it would only bring out questions. Later that day, Moricho Aerthur scheduled a meeting in the main concourse of the Viraxo ship and trade yard. He stood, wearing his grey uniform with silver epillets on his shoulders, gazing out at the crowd.
"Men and Women, we have all suffered a tragedy today...one that we will not forget. High Captain Loxar was a good man, like a father to me, but we must not greive. I do not take the title on lightly, but I would like to now appoint myself as High Captain. It is what Captain Loxar would have wanted, I think." he paused for a moment before continuing, the massive crowd of men and women staring up at him intently, "There will be some changes which we shall work through in time, but we shall work through them. I have many ideas, and many dreams, and I believe I can build us into something Captain Loxar would be proud of...and something our enemies will fear. This will begin with the completion of repairs on the Victory Star Destroyer Draconic
. Our second goal will be to find an independent base whose location is not known by any government entity. I expect that after the current chaos boils down, we WILL see an Imperial visit. Do not worry though, if all goes well we should be gone and fully set up in a secure location in less then a month. Details on these plans will be given at a later date. Ship construction technologies from this base shall hopefully be able to be canabalized and fitted to the new base. My final point is to set ourselves an official name. As we begin to expand in our goals we shall need a name to be recognized. I submit, that from now till the end, we be known as the Phoenix Syndicate."
Moricho's skin was deathly pale as he scanned the crowd for impressions. After a few moments the discussion died away and the entire concourse was silent. Then the crowd erupted in applause.
Distantly, he heard calls from the crowd.
"Long live the Phoenix!"
"We'll make Captain Loxar proud!"
"Nothing will stop us!"
But througout all this, there was a steady cheering, "Hail the High Captain, High Captain Aerthur. Hail the High Captain, High Captain Aerthur."
Moricho then stepped down off of his podium, a deep grin spread across his face and a single thought sweeping through his mind. The Phoenix Syndicate was born.