The card game was going slowly, the journey was going slowly, hell since they had left Farpoint everything had slowed down. Andy was bored.
"I'll raise you 3." Casie spoke.
"I see your 3 and raise you 3." Cooper put a small rectangle on the table.
"Your 6, raise 4." Cora spoke
Andy looked at the cards in his hand, it was good hand so long as that little randomiser didn't squeak again.
"I'll see the ten and raise 5." He said.
"That's about a meal's worth in the Core." Cora interjected.
"Think the Naval academy will serve decent food?" Cooper asked.
"They didn't give any to the Naval troopers." Cora replied.
"Or engineers, doubt they'll be nicer to fighter jocks either." Casie added.
"So only one of us will get a decent meal inside the compound then." Cooper continued, "Command rank officers get treated nice, even the very junior ones." emphasising the junior.
"Not my fault I'm a high up now." Andy smiled.
"Least he can't use it to get free drinks, Deep Space Logistics isn't exactly a title that gets you noticed." Cora laughed as she placed down another tile.
"Kind of the point. Hello I'm Andy, I'm from the other end of the universe where I routinely fight things that would give you nightmares if you knew about them." Andy smirked as he laid down his cards. "I'm calling!"
One by one the players placed their cards on the table as Andy watched.
Cooper threw his down but Andy's were better.
Cora put hers down; even Cooper's were better.
Casie smiled and took the pot.
"Tonight I dine somewhere expensive." She smiled.
The shuttle sped toward the cityscape that was Coruscant, Andy hadn't seen it in years. Technically he'd been born here, that's what his birth file said. He had in fact been born in low orbit, not returning until he was five. He'd stayed for a while, enjoying the various levels and inherent hazards of this place until his family had found religion and spread to the stars again.
A grey tower with a perimeter of parade grounds and assault courses sprang into being amongst bright and colorful buildings. Why the Naval Academy was located in the middle of such a district Andy had always wondered, military personnel were forever being dragged back from casinos for some kind of punishment duty.
"Thinking of the good old days?" Casie asked.
"You get brought home from the lights much?" Andy asked.
"Not as much as some, knew a guy who tried to rig a game or two. Never did see him again after the walk to the CO's office." She spoke, almost smiling.
"Kicked out or moved to intel, either way lots of trouble for him." Andy laughed.
"The Obscure was nice as I recall." Cooper called from the background.
"How do you know about Coruscant casinos?" Casie asked wide-eyed.
"I introduced him to some night life the last time we pulled the shake-some-hands duty" Andy replied for him.
"You pulled this before?" Casie asked.
"Yeah, while I was a Wraith. Now I'm Hunter command staff I'm in a smaller pool of cards. 'Pick four officers and send them off to remind the boys and girls back home we exist, oh and pick us up some files of potential recruits for the squadron.' " Andy replied.
"When are we shaking the hands?" Cora enquired, hope in her voice.
"Tomorrow night." Andy smiled.
"Dump our stuff, clean up and hit the lights?" Casie asked.
"Remind me to put you in for a promotion." Andy smiled.
Andy's head hurt, he wanted to sleep, the bed was so comfortable, there was an arm over his chest, and he didn't recognise the room. It certainly wasn't in the Naval Academy; this was expensive and colourful rather than gun metal grey mixed with battleship grey.
There was something else, something bothering him, oh yes he thought the arm. He stayed still, who's arm was this and more importantly why was it on his chest. It was a soft female are, possibly human, the room was to dark to tell him what colour it was.
There was a flash of light and the woman jumped up and ran out, giving Andy a glimpse of green braintails bouncing out of the door, why was he in bed with a Twi'lek?
"Ah, you're awake Mr. Dune." A woman's voice came from the other side of the room.
"Who, what?" Andy tried to talk.
"No Mr. Dune, you will listen. If you don't do as my employer asks we shall send the picture of you and your new little friend to the conference organisers. Mr. High and Mighty in bed with someone who clearly isn't his red haired human wife. Don't worry you didn't do anything with her. You were drugged far too heavily for that." The woman continued, "My name is, well for convenience Miss Blue and for the duration of a day and your speech I am your assistant. If you give the speech we have written for you my employers may even clear your debt. I understand it to be considerable."
Andy looked around for his uniform, his comms, anything that could convince this woman he wasn't the man she was looking for. He looked back at her and noticed a bulge in her sleek outfit, the bulge of a small pistol. He then noticed the shadows, two of them, the kind of big bulky shadows that could break you in half even if they hadn't been armed.
"I'm not who you think I am." Andy spoke, little hope of her believing him.
"You expect us to believe your little lie you told our little Twi'lek? A Lieutenant Commander in this dive? Our droids saw through the Logistics lie, we have your picture, we know who you are, you know what you have to do. Now get dressed and we shall go to your office." She sneered.
The woman left the room, the shadows didn't move. Andy got dressed and walked out to meet his 'assistant'.
They walked silently to a large expensive looking office. The view from the window was stunning; the view gave you the impression that you were on the tallest spire on the planet, Andy wasn't sure where he was until he caught out of the corner of his eye the small grey sentinel that was the Academy.
"So near, yet so far." Andy mumbled.
"Yes you did nearly get away." She said, "Here's the speech, I'll leave you to get used to it. We're monitoring communications, we'll come in shooting if you try anything stupid."
Andy sat at the desk and read the file, something about computers and partitions.
"I've been mistaken for a computer engineer?" He spoke out loud.
A screen lit up in the desk, with a single sentence on it.
I'm sorry, I had to get out and you were too good an opportunity.
A small speech came up on the screen, presumably the original one. Andy couldn't help but smile.
If you can survive, please deliver this.
"So now what?" Andy mumbled.
He needed to get away from the three people guarding him, get back to the others or the Naval Academy. He looked at the Chono, he had 10 hours to do all this.
He walked out of the office and to Miss Blue. "Well Miss Blue I think before I deliver this I would like a drink to wake myself up."
"Certainly sir!" She sneered.
On the way to the bar they were suddenly accosted by a group of people carrying datapads, with pictures in them, pictures of Andy. Andy looked at these autograph hunters in shock and began to wonder if we was loosing his grip on reality. He signed each one with Miss Blue watching his every step, no time to write help.
"Cocktail sir?" A woman behind the bar asked.
"A great escape?" Andy asked hoping she was who she looked like.
"I'm sorry sir, we don't have all the ingredients for that one." She replied. "I can do you a sunset ride."
"That'll be fine." Andy smiled, remembering what kinds of drinks Cora was famous for.
"Anything for your aide and her friends?" She smiled.
"No… thank you" Miss Blue glared.
Andy sipped his drink and waited for the lightshow. His skin began to turn green, next would come yellow and then perhaps red, but he had to act now. He groaned and ran for the refreshers with his hand over his mouth. He could see the shadows following him now.
He ran into the refresher and stepped left, the first shadow was on the floor seconds after entering. Andy could see him clearly now, a human thug dressed head to tow in black, his large blaster in a leg holster. The second was a smarter Rhodian, he entered slowly, seeing his comrade sprawled on the floor he turned to Andy and raised his weapon.
"It was an accident!" Andy raised his hands in surrender.
He then showed the second Shadow how dirty a combat veteran could fight, he kicked the man in the shin, spun his elbows into his temples before smashing his head into the door. Lifting the blaster Andy stunned both men where they lay.
Andy carefully stuck his head out of he refresher to see Miss Brown arguing with a new member of bar staff, presumably failing to find out who Cora was. Andy frowned when he saw two men walk up to Miss Blue, her face went pale as one drew a blaster and pointed it at her head.
"He's in there." He heard her say.
"Great" Andy said, switching the blaster to auto fire.
Both men turned and saw him and instantly opened fire. Andy dived towards the nearest table, knocking it over. Andy saw the few people who had been there running out of the door.
"Well that makes it easier." Andy mumbled as he ran to the next table firing at the bar area.
The two men crouched down, not knowing Andy's true target. The bar exploded in flames and shrapnel. If that didn't set of some security alarms nothing would. Andy glanced over a table, the two men were down, he then looked at his blaster to see it was empty.
"Time to leave." He spoke to himself.
"I think not!" A small man surrounded by various dangerous looking creatures said from the entrance.
"How many people have you upset?" Miss Blue hissed from under another table.
"Me!? Not me, trust me if I ever meet whoever you think I am I'll arrange a very interesting death for him." Andy hissed back.
"If you and your assistant would kindly join me for breakfast?" The little man moved to a table, his guards making it clear that this was not so much an invitation as an order.
"Well Mr. Dune, where is my million credits then? You told me you'd have it today. I don't want to get uncivilised in such civilised surroundings." The man spoke; somehow ignoring the blaster holes and small fires his men were putting out.
"My name is not Mr. Dune, my name is Andy Novak" Andy replied, deciding not to mention the military connection to a man who exhibited every stereotype of a mob boss.
"Really sir, this is weak even by your standards. My money. Or perhaps you'd like to see your little friend suffer." He spoke coldly.
Miss Blue looked at Andy.
"I don't work for him I work for…. Some one else!" She finished.
Great Andy thought, two gangs are hunting me because I look like a computer nut.
"She's telling the truth. So am I but I doubt you'll believe either of us." Andy sighed.
"Correct!" The man nodded.
"It's in my office." Andy relented; a small plan came to his mind.
"Then by all means we shall go." The man stood.
The three of them walked to the office, flanked by the man's six guards. Andy wondered what they must look like. They pushed autograph hunters aside as they walked passed. Andy saw a small blue blur skid into and through the guards and bump into him. The blur was gone as fast it appeared, leaving nothing behind but two little objects that Andy pocketed.
Then a security team came round the corner, before Andy could signal, the small man's guards opened fire.
"So you did a deal with him then?" The man hissed.
"Who?" Andy asked frustrated at his alter ego once more.
"The Lieutenant!" He replied like it was a well-known man.
The three ran for the safety of the office, someone caught up and breached the guard's quondam. Andy turned when they got through the door, drawing the hold out blaster that Casie had gave him in the corridor.
There were four people in the office, the small man, Miss Blue, Andy and now a tall thin security officer.
"So you owe us all money then?" Miss Blue spoke, moving her blaster to try to cover all three of them.
"Owes me 1 mill, what about you?" The small man aimed his pistol firmly at the security man.
"Two million. Said he had a sure-fire scheme this time." He answered.
"Owes my employer a speech, I'm sure they'd be happy with your heads though." She smiled, almost licking her lips.
"He owes me, my identity, an evening and a uniform. I hope he's enjoying your money." Andy replied "For the last time, I am Lieutenant Commander Andy Novak, Deep Space Logistics, New Republic Navy."
The security man didn't react as the other's had. He paled noticeably for a second.
"You're lying! No way you're Black Ops!" He spoke, tying to convince himself.
"What do you mean Black Ops?" Miss Blue asked worried.
Andy activated the second device in his pocket and hoped Cooper was the pilot looking for him.
"Deep Space Logistics, it's a made up code. Always the secretive Black Ops types you never saw again. Prancing around, looking down on us. Like we weren't soldiers." The security officer spoke.
"You weren't, you were a security guard who couldn't be trusted to keep an empty room safe." The small man interjected.
As the three began to argue about what was going to happen Andy walked behind the desk and checked the tower lay out. There was an observation deck two levels down. He smiled and walked over to the window. Suddenly all three blasters were leveled at him.
"Yes?" Andy asked, setting his pistol to overload and placing it on the window ledge.
"What are you doing?" Miss Blue demanded.
"Finding a way out!" Andy replied, "Mr. Security there is right, I'm Black Ops. You saw me kill how many people?"
"He's trying to psyche us out. Cheap trick Mr. Dune." The small man waved his gun.
"Where's his blaster?" The security man asked as the blaster destroyed the window behind Andy.
Andy jumped out of the hole, landing 10 feet below. He looked up and gave the three goons a little salute as Cooper drew up in an armoured speeder.
"Lift for Novak?" Cooper smiled.
"Thanks, tell whoever is in the back to throw lots of stun grenades in the hole up there." Andy joked.
The room was very dark; she couldn't work out where she was. The bed was not comfortable, she was not in her normal soft clothes, it felt like a jumpsuit.
A spotlight came on.
"Hello Miss Blue." A man spoke.
"Who?" She said, tiredly.
"No, that is who you are. You said so yesterday. My name is Novak and I'd like to know who employed you and who the hell Mr. Dune is and why you didn't want him to give a speech on identity theft?"