Piett leaned back against the wall of the main hall of the
Imperial shelter and let his eyes wander over the assembled men. Like
himself, most of them were sitting on crates and boxes they had found
in the storage rooms of the shelter. Piett heaved a relieved sigh and
propped his feet up on another box. The shelter was not exactly
luxurious but after spending two days out in the forest, just being out
of the rain and having a box to sit on was luxury enough.
The Rebels hadn’t had found the building hidden beneath the gigantic trees of the moon and, for once, Piett was glad for the trees. Without their cover the Rebels would have certainly discovered this place as it was situated not even a mile from the bunker that had protected the shield generator. Piett was grateful that the shelter had been tucked away under trees, and he was particularly grateful to Commander Pellar who had decided to use the shelter as a storage and possible fall-back position. He probably had not expected that the situation would get as bad as it was, but Arin Pellar had made arrangements in case the bunker and the troops’ quarters there were damaged or, which was probably even more likely, in case they should receive reinforcements. The storage rooms were full of nicely ordered and labelled boxes and the bunk beds were clean and dry.
Of course, even Commander Pellar could not have foreseen all eventualities. He had not expected that a completely different group of Imperials would want to use the shelter, who had not been given clearance by him. They had difficulties getting into the shelter as the doors were shut and locked but one of the survivors from the Death Star had managed to short-circuit the key-pad. Piett wondered about what had happened to Commander Pellar, whether he was dead or whether the Rebels had taken him prisoner.
Now his troops and he were all inside, where it was warm and dry. A few men were outside on patrol and some were searching for food. As Major Remier had remarked there was not a lot there, and the breakfast Piett had had been pretty unpleasant, but it was food and his stomach had felt a lot better after eating it. They had boxes full of food in the shelter but it was just sensible not to use all of it at once and supplement their meals with the local victuals. They all had one proper meal after they had reached the shelter. Possibly even better than the meal had been the shower and shave Piett had afterwards. His uniform was still as grubby as it had been but he felt a lot better.
Piett grinned as he remembered General Ossory’s delighted exclamation when he discovered that not only were there proper toilets in the shelter, that they were in working condition, but that there was loo-paper as well. At his age, Ossory had explained, it was uncomfortable to the extreme to live without these small amenities.
Piett wiggled his toes in his newly shampooed and blow-dried socks. They had to find some way of washing their uniforms. So far they were all running around in their smelly, slept-in clothes but perhaps they would find spare clothes or at least some kind of washing detergent.
Well, who would have thought that he, Admiral Grigori Piett, second-in-command of Darth Vader, would face such problems as finding a way to do the laundry.
Not that he really minded. For the first time in he didn’t remember how many years he was content. Perhaps it would be too much to call it happy but he was content just to sit there and watch the men around him. Some were going through the boxes they had assembled trying to find whether the electronic equipment would enable them to construct a transmitter, others were loitering around and talking. Needa had had his chance to explain the full implications of Grand Moff Tarkin’s carpet slippers and a few theories of what had happened during and after the battle they had fought.
Needa had disappeared and was probably sleeping the sleep of the just by now, and Piett wondered whether he should do the same. But he was not tired enough to sleep yet, not tired enough to sleep despite General Ossory’s snoring. As the two highest ranking officers Piett and Ossory had been assigned the one room that had only two beds. Needa had of course immediately claimed that this was the room reserved for the Emperor and the Lord of the Sith. Which was obviously not the case but making up bed-side conversations between the two was amusing.
Given the circumstances, the fact that they had lost the battle and were stranded on this horrible moon, they had made the best of the situation. Perhaps they would be able to leave this Ewok-infested place behind. Actually, Piett realised with a jolt of surprise, he expected that somehow they would be able to get away. He was actually filled with … optimism. If he kept a diary he would probably mark this day for this.
Piett wrinkled his brows when he thought of the one point of their situation that was really worrying him: Commander Iddlem. Needa had been right, when he said that Piett had made an enemy in Iddlem. The Commander of the Ruthless had been making his opposition to whatever Piett said pretty clear. So far Iddlem had not openly criticised his superior officer or refused to obey orders, but Piett knew that this was just a question of time. He also knew that the only way to keep Iddlem in line was to come down on him hard, remind him and everybody else who the man in charge was, but that was just not Piett’s style. Somehow he hoped the situation would sort itself out, but as Rilla said, situations never sorted themselves out and if they did, not in the way you wanted them to.
Piett sighed. He did not want to dress down Iddlem in front of the troop, he hated shouting at his junior officers. Perhaps he should ask Needa to do that for him. Occasionally Needa liked shouting and if the person he had to shout at was an idiot like Iddlem he would certainly enjoy it.
From the backpack sitting next to his box Piett retrieved his weekie and turned it over in his hands. The little bird had survived the raid on an Ewok village and … five earthquakes. It was one of his better works, even if he said so himself. Perhaps he should make another one, or something else. He could look for another piece of wood and check on the patrol at the same time. Boost the morale of the troops, Needa would call it. Piett hoped there was something to it. He had always been scared witless when his superior officer had checked on him, but then he was not a black clad giant who wheezed a lot. With a small sigh he pulled on his boots and left the shelter.
The night was chilly but not dark. The debris floating in the upper layers of the atmosphere disguising the stars reflected the sun’s light sneaking around the moon. Piett strolled through the woods which enclosed the shelter on all sides, until he reached the first post. The man, one of the stormtroopers, nodded at him but said nothing. At least he seemed not to be intimidated by being visited by an admiral. Piett walked through the trees, occasionally picking up a bit of wood, but none were usable for his intentions. When he reached the man who was posted on a small tree-free elevation behind the shelter, the sentry called out to him.
“Sir, there is something strange going on. It looks like a meteorite.” The man, Piett assumed an officer of the Accusor , pointed over the trees in front of them.
There was indeed something falling through the sky, a red glowing lump.
“It looks … unusual.” The sentry handed Piett his pair of macro-binoculars.
The lump falling rapidly towards the moon turned out to be a lot further away and a lot bigger than Piett had thought. The thing was more than a mile long. It was indeed a strange shape, definitely not round, more square or … Piett zoomed the image as close as the binoculars allowed him, losing the clarity of the picture. But now it was plain that the meteorite was indeed wedge-shaped, that is was no meteorite at all but a Star Destroyer, a complete Star Destroyer. If the ship was still more or less in shape now it meant that the shields were up and in good working condition.
When it hit the ground the impact would be tremendous.
“Fuck,” Piett shouted, the man standing next to him jumped in surprise. “We have to get inside, now! Call the patrols, the men out. When that thing hits the moon …”
The man obediently lifted his com-link and shouted orders at the other patrols, already starting to run towards the door of the shelter, Piett following immediately behind. He just hoped that the men would not question the order. There was little time as it was. Through the trees he could see several dark shapes running towards them. When they were closer Piett could see the confusion written on their faces. But they had followed his orders.
Piett stopped at the door looking back. Damn, he couldn’t see the descending Star Destroyer from here. A few other men came running. If only he knew when the ship crashed, how long they could risk waiting… but the shockwave would reach them before the sound of the impact, the explosion would be hidden by the trees.The handful of men reached the door and piled through it. Piett thought he saw something like a flash of lightning and stormed into the shelter as well, throwing the door closed and activating the locks.
When he turned around he found himself facing a crowd of wide-eyed men, staring at him as if he had turned blue in front of them. They probably think I completely lost my mind, Piett thought. Perhaps he had lost his mind, perhaps the ship would cause no damage here.
Then, before he could even start to explain himself, an ear-shattering crash shook the shelter, the permacrete seemed to groan and the duroplass-windows exploded into the room. The air seemed to grow heavy and then it was sucked away, bursting the widow-panes on the other side of the shelter. For a few seconds complete silence settled, then the shelter shook in its foundation and seemed to jump up and down once.
With shouts and loud curses the men fell over and over each other. Briefly chaos reigned, the room was one mass of scrambling and screaming men, then when nothing happened the situation quieted down surpisingly quickly.
“What the hell was that?” Rezikiel asked and all the men turned to stare at Piett.
“That is what happens when a Star Destroyer with fully operational shields crashes on a planet.” he explained slowly.
“I don’t know why a Star Destroyer with its shields up crashed on the moon, I know it happened. I’ve seen it. Now we should make sure that the shelter was not damaged and find out whether all of our men outside have returned.” He turned and walked to the smaller room they had turned into their head quarters and communication centre, while the scene behind him disintegrated in complete mayhem again.
“Status report,” he ordered.
Two of the men working in the room had been sitting on crates with small communicators and computers propped on another pair of crates in front of them were just managing to reassemble their equipment. One of them grinned wearily at Piett. “Don’t know.”
“Very funny.” Piett glowered at the man who started hectically to check his communicator and avoided looking at his superior officer.
“Sir, we have been monitoring the Rebels’ communication channels” the other man said, Lieutenant Taman, one of the men from the Accusor, busily calling up some recording. “There is one message which might be interesting. It is very fragmentary.” He pressed a button and after some warbled noises and static a frantic voice became audible:
“… is powering up its engines.” More hissing sounds interrupted the transmission. “Seems to have played dead. There is indication … shields up and …” after a long warble the same voice continued. “The ship is out of control. It’s caught by the moon’s gravity.” Another voice interrupted. “Can’t we do anything?” – “Negative, we have not enough fire-power to shoot it down before it enters atmosphere. Not with their shields up.” – “We have a…” and the transmission disintegrated again into hissing and squealing static.
Piett frowned. A Star Destroyer which had played dead… the battle had happened two days ago, he would have thought the Rebels would have secured the remaining Star Destroyers, those which appeared to be dead, to add them to their own fleet. Just the amount of credits one Star Destroyer represented should cause the Rebels to lay claim of any of them, battered as may be, still around. They must have checked for life signs and … Well, whatever actually happened up there they would probably never find out.
A few other officers had assembled in the small room, among them Commander Iddlem. Piett frowned, just what he needed in a situation like this.
“We just picked this up a few minutes ago.” Lieutenant Taman explained.
“Sir,” the other man said. He was one of the two survivors from the Death Star Piett remembered, but he couldn’t recall his name. “There was also a communication between one of the ships in orbit and a shuttle. I …” He looked at Piett questioningly, then on his nod, pressed the appropriate button.
“This is shuttle Delta 8, we’re receiving your message.” A woman’s voice said sounding very much at ease with herself.
“Finally, thank the gods.” A man answered, exasperated. “Shuttle Delta 8 do not, I repeat do not take off now. I repeat, under no circumstances whatsoever are you to get airborne. There is…”
“We are already airborne, control. What…” Now the woman sounded confused.
“For fuck’s sake land, get down now,” the man shouted. Commander Iddlem humpfed disapprovingly at the man’s language
“Ok, ok, we on our way down, but wha…” the woman on the shuttle answered, then after a pause she whispered, “God almighty.”
The man continued to shout. “One of the Star Destroyers is going down, it has its shields up. Go down, land! Its impact…”
The woman interrupted him with a very curt “Too late.” Then the transmission disintegrated into static.
“Rebels!” was all Iddlem had to say to this.
A Rebel shuttle. It had been hit by the shockwave created by the Star Destroyers impact on the moon’s surface.
“Do we have any more information about the shuttle?”
Both of the men returned their attention to their computers going through the recorded messages they had picked up earlier.
“Sir,” a voice behind Piett said with the certain quiver in it that could only mean bad news. Piett turned around to find the man who had spotted the star destroyer. “We have checked whether all men who had been outside have returned in time, all men on patrol are back as is the group of Sub-Lieutenant Valan.” He paused. “Commander Stenson did not return.” After another brief pause he continued, “he refused to follow your orders.”
Damn. For a moment Piett felt just immensely tired. There he was in charge of this group for just over a day now and already the men were not following his orders. Just because he did not shout at everybody this did not mean that they were allowed to ignore his commands if they thought fit. And the stupid, idiot Stenson.
“Do you know what happened?”
The man who had brought the news shook his head. “No, Sir. We lost contact.”
Piett stared over windows which by now had been closed with armored shutters.
“How is it outside?”
“The storm is still quite bad, but we could risk going out.”
“Then try to find out what happened to Commander Stenson and his men.” Piett ordered. The man saluted and left. This idiot Stenson, damn him. If any of his men were dead and for some reason Stenson was still alive, Piett would be very happy to make an example out of him and personally strangle him, even if he had to use his own hands to do it.
Commander Iddlem leaned in a corner and stared at Piett disapprovingly. He would have left Stenson and his men out there to rot. But Iddlem was not in command, he could think what he wanted as long as he kept his mouth shut.
“Sir,” Lieutenant Taman interrupted Piett’s thoughts. “We have picked up a few fragmentary communications between the shuttle and one of the ships in orbit, but they only talk about us.”
Taman activated the recording. “Shuttle Delta 8. We have located two Imperial fighters near your location earlier. A TIE fighter and a TIE interceptor heading towards the shield generator. We lost track of them and assume they landed somewhere. I advice you to collect your passengers and leave immediately.”
“Our passengers,” it was the same woman who had talked in the other transmission, “are not here and we cannot contact them. We have orders to wait for them here.”
“We are less conspicuous when we stay on the ground. Why don’t you guys take care of the TIEs?”
Some static interrupted the transmission. “…when she will return. I wouldn’t dare to interfere with her plans.”
“We have to make sure that nothing happens to her. You …”
“You are the guys with the guns, you take care of the Imperials.”
Taman pressed another button to stop the recording. “That’s basically it. There are a few more bits and bobs.”
“Why haven’t you reported this immediately!” Iddlem emerged from his corner. “We could have captured the shuttle! Apparently they are not even armed.”
“Sir, with all due respect. This transmission was sent just as we had set up our equipment. The Rebels knew we were somewhere around, if we had moved to capture the shuttle they would have made sure we didn’t get it.”
Iddlem turned red on being reprimanded like that and by a junior officer to boot.
“Moreover, Commander,” Piett continued. “We need a transport a bit bigger than a shuttle to get all our people off planet. – However, the shuttle might still be our ticket out of here.”
“Now?” Iddlem looked at Piett as if he had turned into a particularly disgusting kind of insect. “Now after it crashed?”
“Commander Iddlem.” Piett said very calmly. “As you have heard, there is at least one important member of the Rebellion on this shuttle. If we rescue any survivors the Rebels will be happy to provide transport for us and our men. With the storm still raging and all the other debris that’s flying around in the atmosphere the Rebels wont be able to start their search before morning and by then most of the traces of the crash will be blown away. They will have to launch a major search, presumably starting at the place the shuttle landed before.” He turned back to Lieutenant Taman. “Do we know where the shuttle crashed?”
“No, Sir. We can track them until they were hit by the shockwave.” Taman called up a vague map of the area. The small dot representing the shuttle started off somewhere behind the shield generator and travelled in a straight line south. Then the dot winked out.
“Sir,” the other man said. “I think we could identify the ship and,” he paused and after some fiddling with his computer he continued, “it looks as if it was a Chandrillan Shuttle. It should be possible to find them once one is in close range. Most Chandrillan Shuttles have emergency beacons which are automatically activated when the main systems fail.”
Piett nodded at him and strolled back into the main room. He would go out and get whoever was in the shuttle – if they had survived the crash. For this he would need a medic, fortunately one of the medics of the Accusor had been on the bridge when the officers had decided to make a quick exit and somehow had ended up with the other fourteen in the escape pod. He should leave either Needa or McLaughlin behind to out-rank Iddlem, Ossory was probably not to keen on another hike through the forest anyway. He would of course prefer to have Needa with him but he assumed he should really leave him in charge. Better even: have both Captains here.
Just then he spotted Needa sitting on one of the crates, looking shaken and clutching something that looked very much like a bottle of Topelan Brandy.
“Ts, ts, ts. Drinking on duty, Captain Needa.” Piett slumped down on another crate opposite the Captain.
“I am not on duty.” Needa said glumly, for once not in the mood to make silly comments. He took a long gulp out of his bottle, and offered it to Piett.
“I am.” Piett shook his head. He would be interested where Needa got his bottle from. Turning to a stormtrooper standing next to him he said, “could you find Captain McLaughlin for me. And General Ossory, he should be awake.”
“No, he is sleeping like a baby.” Needa remarked. “I checked on him after the blast threw me out of my bed, but Ossory… he is snoring quite happily. But then the inner sanctum doesn’t have windows.”
“Than let him sleep, I guess we don’t need him. Captain McLaughlin, Major Remier and the medic from the Accusor.”
The trooper saluted and walked away.
“You really don’t want some?” Needa frowned, rubbing his forehead with his free hand.
Captain McLaughlin and Major Remier appeared from somewhere in the crowd, as did Commander Iddlem. He just can’t keep his nose out of this, Piett thought. After another few moments the stormtrooper returned to report that Sergeant Lasalle was at the moment taking care of some minor bruises and cuts a few of the men had received when the windows blew in but would be coming as soon as he had finished. Piett nodded. He looked at the officers around him, and seeing Iddlem’s defiant face he was sorely tempted to accept Needa’s offer.
“Now we will check oout the shuttle or what’s left of it. I am going, of course, and I will take Major Remier, Sergeant Lasalle and six other men with me. Captain Needa will be in charge of the men here.”
Needa frowned briefly but nodded.
“While we are gone, you should try to get some transmitter going to contact the Rebels if we find survivors.”
“You should take somebody who knows about communicators with you, you might be able to get the shuttle’s communicators back on line,” McLaughlin said.
“Right. Any ideas whether we have anybody who might be helpful?”
“Tob Ketelli,” one of the men standing around them said. “That’s me. I think I could be helpful.”
“Fine. Any other ideas?”
Needa shot a brief glance at Commander Iddlem and then stared at Piett with raised eyebrows. So, he should take Iddlem with him to keep an eye on him? No way, Needa could keep an eye on him here much better.
“So, we are going to sit here while you are playing the rescuing angel,” Iddlem muttered.
“Exactly.” Piett glowered at Iddlem. “Do you have a problem with this?”
“Yes, I have.” For a few seconds Iddlem hesitated, then his indignation overcame his respect for his senior officer. “We shouldn’t bother about bloody Rebels. They should die where they are. If anything we should make sure they are dead. Instead of running after crushed shuttles and possible survivors we should trap the people who will be looking for the shuttle, take their ship and get out of here and back to base and get reinforcements. Of course, we couldn’t take all the men with us but we will return in a couple of days and blast the bloody Rebels out of the skies.”
“You’re joking.” Needa said dryly. “You know that the Rebels would blast this place to bits if we did that.”
“No they wouldn’t. If anything they would try to follow us and once we reached the next base we could smash the few ships they have up there.” Iddlem became agitated, warmed to his idea. “We could destroy their ships, trap them. With a daring strike we could get off this moon and back to safety. – It’s just because you,” he pointed at Piett, “are too scared to take decisive action. We don’t have to make any deals with this scum. We can get away from here without bowing to the Rebellion. I wont disgrace myself by dealing with the enemy! And I refuse to follow the orders of any man who commands me to do so.”
Piett listened to Iddlems’ increasingly loud tirade, a cold anger rising in him. “Are you quite finished?” he asked, when Iddlem paused to take a breath.
“No, I am not finished with you!” Iddlem shouted. “I have suffered your incompetence long enough. I will be finished with you when you’re relieved of your post.”
“And who if I may ask will relieve me of my post? - You?”
“If there’s nobody else who dares to stand up against you, yes. You’re planning to collaborate with the enemy. That is treason against the Empire. It is our duty to remove you.”
“I guess in about five seconds it will be my duty to smack this bottle over your head.” Needa stated while carefully screwing the bottle shut and gripping it around the neck.
“Commander Iddlem.” Piett said calmly. “It may have escaped your attention that the Empire as we know it may no longer exist. We don’t know what happened after the Death Star blew. For all we know the Emperor is dead. The fleet is scattered and the Rebels have control of this sector of the galaxy. I think you should overcome your delusions of getting help from anywhere nearby.”
For some time Iddlem and Piett stared at each other quietly. Piett tried to gauge the situation, what the men would do. Needa was obviously on his side, as were most of the stormtroopers he hoped. A couple of them had sidled up, standing in an interested circle, like children watching a fist-fight in the school yard.
“We cannot collaborate with the enemy!” Iddlem turned his gaze away to address the rest of the group. “Just because he is incompetent and scared we don’t have to beg the Rebels for mercy. We don’t need the help of them. Collaboration with the enemy is a capital offense.”
“As is mutiny, Commander Iddlem.” Piett reminded him.
“You don’t deserve our obedience any more. You are a coward.”
Slowly Piett got to his feet, he was getting really tired of this.
“Commander Iddlem. It is not your duty to judge whether I deserve anything or not. I am your superior officer and I have to take the responsibility to decide what we do. I, as your superior officer, relieve you of your post and order you to go to your quarters where you will remain until I return.”
“Ha, and who will keep me there, once you’re gone.”
“I will.” Needa stood as well, his bottle of brandy in his hand. “And I tell you, I won’t be as patient as the Admiral.”
“You cannot make me do anything.” Iddlem shouted.
Piett spun around, grabbing the blaster from the stormtrooper next to him and pointing it into Iddlem’s face. “I think we can.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” Iddlem grinned. He was so sure that Piett would not shoot him, it made Piett pause for a second in disbelief. “You’re far too scared to kill me. Just because you were Vader’s second doesn’t mean you are him. For all you might try you cannot strangle insubordinate officers.”
“No, I can’t. Shooting your junior officers might look less impressive,” Piett said slowly, pulling the trigger. A red flash sparked out of the blaster’s nozzle straight into Iddlem’s forehead. “But you’re just as dead.”
Even now Iddlem didn’t seem to believe it. For a few seconds he remained standing, the same idiotic grin on his face, but with the addition of a smoldering hole above his eyes, then he collapsed on the floor.
The silence in the main hall was complete. When Piett turned around he saw that the confrontation had become the centre of attention, every single man was staring at him. Most kept their impassive expressions on their faces, but some grinned approvingly.
Staring down at the body of Commander Iddlem, Piett felt only relieved that he had this problem solved forever. “And by the way, Vader doesn’t strangle insubordinate officers but incompetent ones.”
Needa sighed deeply, unscrewed his bottle and drank. “Firelord.” He shook his head. “Give me patience with your patience. I would have nailed the bastard the first time he contradicted me. The man was a complete fool.”
“I know, I know.” Piett returned the blaster to the stormtrooper. “Well, where were we? Did the men looking for Commander Stenson return during our entertaining intermission?”
“Yes, Sir.” It was the same man who had first brought the bad news. He stood even more rigidly to attention than earlier. “We have found the bodies of Commander Stenson and the four men with him. They’re all dead.”
“Who were they?”
“Commander Wood, and troopers Lots, Curtis and Mohr. They were killed by falling trees, except Curtis, the shockwave threw him against the shelter.”
“That’s trooper Ben Lots?”
The man nodded.
Piett sighed. It was bad enough to get the report of losses as numbers, knowing the men made it even worse. And he had only talked to Ben Lots a few times.
“Well, tomorrow you can look after their bodies and his.” Piett pointed at Iddlem. After a few moments considerations he turned to the younger Captain, sitting on the edge of a crate looking uncomfortable. “Captain McLaughlin. Now the situation here is defused, would you mind keeping the fort with General Ossory?”
McLaughlin nodded, then shook his head. “ I mean, I don’t mind, Sir.” he said finally.
“No.” Needa moaned. “You want me to come along.”
“Yes, Captain.” Piett felt somewhat mean at dragging Needa out into the stormy night, but he would really like to have him along. Not just because he could trust him, because Needa was a good officer, but because Piett enjoyed Needa’s company. They had been good friends some time ago, when they had both served on the Annihilator. Needa had already then had a liking for cynical comments which helped both of them to get through the endless hours they had to play beigh with Captain Ozzel and listen to his speeches. “If the passenger of the shuttle is indeed a high-ranking official we should greet them appropriately.”
“Just when I started to be warm and comfy you have to drag me out into the storm.”
“Probably because you’re getting too comfy. And the officers have to give a good example to the men, right? So, Captain Needa, Major Remier, Sergeant Lasalle, Tob Ketelli are going to accompany me and we need another four men.”
“Sir,” the man who had brought the news of Stenson’s death said. “Troopers Dahn, Marl and White would be on patrol duty now. I guess they should go along. And I would like to volunteer.”
Piett nodded. “And you are?”
“Now.” Piett looked around. “All we need to do is to get our gear together and we can be off.”
With the help of his small group and the well-labelled boxes they had all they needed together in a few minutes: blankets, communicators, a tracking instrument, medical equipment, food, lamps and other odds and ends. By then the situation had calmed down surprisingly. Many of the men had gone to bed. General Ossory was apparently still sleeping.
Outside, however, a storm raged, no rain but fierce winds, blowing them nearly back into the shelter. Captain McLaughlin looked not very happy at the prospect of being left in charge. So Piett gave him his orders once more, as much for his own benefit as the ones who listened.
“Captain McLaughlin, I want you to stay put here and attract no attention of the Rebels. They will be around probably from tomorrow looking for their shuttle and we don’t want them to find us now.”
“Yes, Sir.” McLaughlin saluted.
Piett and his men stalked off into the night. It was after they had walked for a few minutes that Needa came up to him.
“You know what?” he shouted into Piett’s ear. “If we continue like this, you’re going to turn us into a comic double act.”
“Yes, you. Keeping an eye on me. Ha.”
“Well, or on your bottle of Brandy. And after all as senior Captain you are my second-in-command.”
“Am I?” Needa looked somewhat perplexed, “I thought that was Ossory.”
“Ah.” Needa walked on silently for a moment. “What do you like better, the Admiral and his Captain or Grigori and Angus?”
“As our name for the comic double act!”
“Gods, Angus, you’re sick.”
Needa just grinned.