Click Here for Era of Darkness Volume 2: Chapter 8
Click Here for Era of Darkness Volume 2: Chapter 9
The streets and markets bustle with activity here.
Sounds from every corner of the galaxy fill the cold damp air-
-Even while the Empire's reign looms over the planet.
Kane leads the former men of Able Squad through a narrow corridor, bypassing one of the many popular areas of Ethna City.
"They're full of it," says Kane angrily, his second hand surplus armor creaking with each movement.
"The Emperor himself? he shakes his head. "There's no way. Brior wouldn't attract that much attention."
"Maybe that's what made him the perfect Rebel," says Meade. "He didn't stand out."
"And none of it adds up," Haas mentions. "We get sent down there to that frelling ice planet, Dreya is there, and more Imperials show up in orbit at the same time.
"That's what happens when the Emperor is involved," says Meade quietly, shaking his head. "Everything is always perfect."
"There are no coincidences," adds Kalin, bluntly. "And we have to get the Hell out of here. The Imps, the Rebels, I don't care who is after us. We have got to move, and we have to move now."
"We don't have to do anything, Kalin," says Kane with frustration. "We just need to buy some more time," changing his dictation. "Figure out the situation. The-"
"Don't talk to me like you're still in charge here," replies Kalin, his calm damaged. "I left once, don't think I won't again. We need to go before anything else happens."
"Excuse me?" asks Kane, his temper boiling.
"You heard me!" shouts Kalin. "You're not a lieutenant anymore, sir."
Kalin's words fall hard on the man. Kane grips his fists closed, ready to fight. He draws a sharp breath through his nose, his brow furrowed and his lips pursed in a scowl under his old worn helmet.
"After all I've done," he says. "After all the betrayals, everything we've gone through? Everything!" he yells, pushing past Kalin, his anger getting the best of him.
"Calm dow-" begins Meade
"No," says Kane firmly. "He's right. I'm not your lieutenant anymore," he says viciously. "I'm not anyone."
Kalin chuckles to himself as he watches Kane leave. "He'll be back," he says sarcastically.
"Believe me, he will be."
Kane's mind wanders, full of emotion.
The sound of the hangar fills Kane's ears as it it were a fresh memory, like it were happening right then.
The old and intimate walls of past deployments surround him.
Long remembered places haunt him-
-As do familiar faces.
"Private Dreya," shouts an officer. "Do you understand why our work here is vital? Do you understand that without us, this ship would not be operational? Without us there would be no Empire?"
"Yes sir!" shouts the young woman, a service crew member, one of millions within the Empire.
"She knows," chuckles Captain Brior, passing the formation. "She's one of the good ones," he smiles, watching her. "One of our finest, right Kane?"
Kane keeps walking, with no regard for the future.
"Hey!" shouts someone, a static burst cutting through Kane's memories.
"Watch it!" shouts the Imperial, raising his rifle in defense. "Weren't you paying attention?"
"Sorry," apologizes Kane, still shaken. "My mistake," he growls, looking around, still stewing.
"Alright, really?" he sighs over the loud thumping music from the nearby establishments. "Are you intoxicated?" asks the trooper. "You're the third one this week," groans the man. "Come over here."
"Up against the wall," he says, prompting Kane towards it. "No sudden movements, okay? I'm gonna relieve you of that blaster-"
Suddenly, Kane disarms the Stormtrooper in a swift motion-
-Unholstering his own blaster at the same time.
"Please, no sudden movements," says Kane, sarcastically. "Come with me."
"Please-" begs the man. "I just-"
"Quiet!" says Kane angrily. "I want to know something, okay?"
The trooper flinches slightly, turning to face his assailant. "Anything," says the man trying to remain calm. "Just please don't shoot. I have family-"
"Shut up," says Kane shaking his pistol at him, a slight creeping fear in his voice. His eyes well up as he speaks, and he fights back his emotions. He pushes the man up against the wall.
Digging the barrel into the soldier's neck, Kane scowls under his helmet. He looks at the man through lenses that have seen countless atrocities. Countless engagements that always had a losing side.
"I want to know," begins Kane, emotion in his voice. "What you really think of the Empire."
"He's been gone for a few hours now," says Meade with concern in his voice.
"Maybe he just needs a break, you know, to clear his mind," add Haas.
"If you ask me, he's lost his edge," says Kalin. "We're out here alone, and maybe he finally knows that."
"I do," says Kane, his gruff voice startling the men.
"I'm sorry," he says immediately, causing a lengthy silence in the quiet corridor. "For everything."
"I've pushed you boys to your limits."
"I've over stepped my boundaries."
"And I didn't know the right course of action to take anymore."
The men listen to Kane, their eyes wide as he speaks.
"But I do now."
"You've all been through too much, on all accounts. You've been pushed to the breaking point, and I see that," admits the man."So don't feel any obligation to join me-"
"But I'm going to save Brior," he says intensely. "No matter what the cost."
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