Hyperion Squad had been called into the office of the Director of Special Forces, General Iri Camas. The sat around the meeting table, made of a dark blue stone that Destroyer assumed was sapphire. It was beautiful, Destroyer admitted, albeit somewhat ostentatious. He idly wondered who had ordered it. Certainly not Camas, Destroyer was sure that the General would have preferred a much simpler one. Destroyer had only met two Jedi, but the impression he got from them was that they preferred things that were simple and practical over flashy and elaborate. Then again, the first Jedi they had met had constructed a lightsaber out of bone, so perhaps that wasn’t a hard and fast rule.
“You’ve been assigned to protection detail. Senators Silya Shessaun of the Thesme Sector and Bruenor Kymeri of the Belsmuth Sector. You’re to ensure their safety as they’re transported back to their respective sectors.” General Camas informed them.
“Protection detail?” Jawbreaker balked “With respect, General, we’re commandos. Isn’t this something for the Senate Guard to handle?”
Destroyer got the impression that Jawbreaker didn’t think too highly of General Camas. That might have had something to do with the fact that the general had refused to allow Jawbreaker to try to take out the Nulls when they had seized Arca Barracks. Jawbreaker had been perfectly willing to have Hyperion Squad go in and attempt to neutralise the unruly ARC troopers, but General Camas would have none of it. He had said that they didn’t want the Nulls dead, just put back into place. Even after Jawbreaker had argued that the Nulls were dangerous and insubordinate. It hadn’t helped that Camas had called in Skirata and bowed to his demands.
For his part, Destroyer couldn’t bring himself to dislike Camas. But then, he wasn’t particularly fond of him either. He was simply an adequate commander. Although-and this was something Destroyer would never admit to Jawbreaker-he was somewhat glad that Camas had not allowed them to fight the Nulls. Destroyer was a good soldier, he knew that, and Hyperion Squad could be formidable in combat. The Nulls, however, were even better, in spite of their mental issues. Going up against them would have been as good as suicide.
“As a matter of fact, there will be a squad of Senate Guards assisting you on this assignment.”
Jawbreaker raised a brow “Well, then I’m really confused. Surely our involvement won’t be necessary?”
General Camas sighed “I agree that this is excessive, but both senators have received multiple death threats in the past week. Senator Kymeri is a strong Republic supporter and Senator Shessaun is crucial in keeping the Thesme Sector from seceding. Needless to say, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine wants to ensure their safety.”
“What kind of ship will we be taking?” Jawbreaker asked.
“The Consular-Class cruiser, Point of Light will be your vessel.”
Jawbreaker placed a hand on his chin “A little conspicuous, isn’t it? Why not just take an AA-9 freighter? We can hide them amongst the civilians.”
“And ditch the Senate Guards,” Genet added, his arms folded.
General Camas snorted “You’ve met a senator before, do you think Wodrata would have taken a common transport?”
Jawbreaker paused to think it over “Point.”
“As it is, this should be a simple mission, nothing to sweat over. Now, since you’ll be aboard a ship for most of it, you’ll be leaving the anti-armour attachment for your rifles behind. And of course, no grenades, barring flashbangs.”
Jawbreaker nodded “Of course.”
“Good, glad you understand. Dismissed, Hyperion.” Camas ushered for them to stand.
As they made to leave, Jawbreaker paused at the door, and the rest of Hyperion Squad stopped with him “General?”
Camas looked up “Yes, Sergeant?”
Jawbreaker hesitated for a moment, before he asked: “Any word on Epsilon Squad?”
Camas blinked, surprised. After a moment, he frowned and cast his eyes down onto his desk. For a moment, Destroyer felt his heart stop. “Ah, Epsilon Squad…yes. Sergeant Vinegar and Private Orar made it back, but Corporal Horax and Private Qyzen…did not.”
Destroyer let out a sharp intake of air. Hyperion Squad and Epsilon Squad had always been close. To think that half of them had been killed on Geonosis was unbearable. How would Vinegar and Orar possibly feel, knowing that their squadmates were dead? Destroyer shuddered, it was not something he wanted to consider. Hyperion had been lucky to escape the desert world with no fatalities, and they had some close calls while performing their mission. They had been tasked with escorting Senator Rogwa Wodrata to safety after the woman had second thoughts about joining the Separatists. Genet’s LAAT had been blown out of the sky as they were being deployed, and Destroyer himself had been shot. It was only because of the durability of their armour that they had survived.
Jawbreaker closed his eyes and clenched his fists “I see. Have they been issued new troopers?”
Camas picked up a datapad and glanced over it before answering “Yes, O-Four of Terantatek Squad and Sentry of Kandosii Squad.” Camas hesitated, before adding: “I’m sorry, Sergeant.”
Jawbreaker nodded “Thank you, General.” And at that, he swivelled around and strode off, the rest of Hyperion hurrying to catch up.
Cabur spoke up, placing a hand on the Sergeant’s shoulder “Jawbreaker, do you want to-?”
“No. I just want to get this assignment done with,” Jawbreaker said brusquely, shaking off Cabur’s hand.
“Maybe we can check in on them and see how they’re doing when we get back?” Destroyer suggested.
“Maybe.” Was all Jawbreaker said, his pace increasing.
Apparently realising that their sergeant didn’t want to talk about it, Genet chose that moment to change the topic.
“So, why do we have to work with a bunch of honour guards who have probably never seen combat before anyway?” Genet complained.
“They were probably assigned, same as us. Although I doubt they’re going to be any more pleased than us about this arrangement. They’re probably going to complain that we’re stepping on their toes.” Jawbreaker sighed.
“Maybe they’ll appreciate the help?” Destroyer offered.
“Would you?” Jawbreaker asked.
Destroyer’s mouth twisted in thought “Probably not, no. The experts being forced to work alongside some newbies with little experience in the subject. I guess that can’t feel too good.”
Destroyer suddenly felt very awkward. This probably wouldn’t endear them to the Senate Guardsmen. He just hoped that they wouldn’t be too sore about it. With any luck, they would be professional about the situation.
“All things considered, probably should have just let the Blue Boys babysit the senators. We’ve got better things to do. Other squads have been sent out already,” Genet muttered.
“Genet, don’t try to start anything with them.” Cabur warned “Last thing we need to do is make more enemies. Bad enough with the Separatists and the Nulls, we don’t want to get another group on our backs.”
Genet raised his hands “Hey, I won’t go and pick a fight with them…providing they do the same.”
“No, you won’t do anything, period,” Jawbreaker said, turning back to look at Genet “We’re professionals and we’re going to act like it. Understood?” He cast his eyes over each of them.
“Yes, Sergeant,” They said in unison. Genet was noticeably less enthusiastic than the others, and Jawbreaker gave him a long, hard stare.
“Genet?” Jawbreaker prompted, an edge to his voice.
Genet sighed, “Yes, Sergeant. No pre-emptive strikes or retaliations.”
Jawbreaker nodded “Good. Now, let’s get prepped.”
As General Camas had ordered, they had left their anti-armour attachments behind and had not bothered with grenades or high-powered blasters. They had also ditched their sniper attachments. Their jobs were just to ensure the safety of the senators while they were being ferried to their respective planets. Their jobs ended the moment the senators stepped off the ship, and snipers would just be cumbersome in such a small, confined space. In the end, they decided to only leave with their deeces and some flashbangs. Destroyer had also ran back to the barracks to collect something.
“Is the sketchbook really necessary, Destroyer?” Genet asked.
“Never know when you’re going to see something worth drawing,” Destroyer said with a shrug “Besides, I need the practice.”
“Honestly, I doubt you’re going to get much inspiration on the trip. All we’re gonna see is stars and some stuck up, pompous bureaucrats.” Genet pointed out.
Destroyer just shrugged again. He knew Genet was probably tight, but still.
They stood waiting for them at the landing platform. The two senators, five Senate Guards and two other beings. Behind them was their transport.
The Point of Light, a Consular-Class cruiser. A mainstay of the Republic Judicial Corps before the outbreak of the Clone Wars, the line had since been repurposed. Now they boasted a set of double turbolaser cannons and two concussion missile launchers to better defend themselves. In addition, it had been repainted, so that it was white with a red stripe running down its back.
The male senator, Bruenor Kymeri was a few years younger than Sergeant Kelborn, mid-fifties. He had black hair with grey streaks along the side and a carefully trimmed beard on his face. He stood ramrod straight, with his hands clasped behind his back. There were several medals pinned to his beige senatorial robes and looking closely, Destroyer could see the bulge of a concealed blaster pistol on his hip. He’s ex-military, Destroyer realised. The idea that someone could actually leave their army was a foreign concept to Destroyer. He was expected to fight for as long as the war lasted. After that, who could say?
Senator Silya Shessaun was much younger, in her early-thirties. She was blonde and wore blue Senatorial robes. She looked considerably more relaxed than Senator Kymeri, even somewhat bored. Her gaze flicked over Hyperion Squad one by one. Her lack of interest surprised Destroyer. One would think that threats against her life would bring concern, but she seemed quite nonchalant. Destroyer wondered if she was the kind of person who was cool under pressure, or just wasn’t taking the danger seriously. Destroyer sincerely hoped that it was the former, a reckless or stupid senator would be a nightmare to protect.
There was a young woman standing beside senator Shessaun. Considering it, Destroyer realised that she was probably an assistant of some kind. Her black hair was tied back into a bun, and she wore similar robes to her senator. The woman peered at them curiously. Destroyer supposed that he couldn’t blame her, this was all no doubt new to her. Still, the staring did make him feel somewhat self-conscious. It reminded him of his training days, after a breaking charge had gone off in his face. The results had left him badly scarred. The other cadets had stared then too.
The other aide was also a woman, perhaps in her mid-twenties. She was pretty enough, although not strikingly so, and had mousy, brown hair. Destroyer noticed that had tucked her right ear behind her hair, but the left was uncovered. Strange. Perhaps asymmetry was fashionable on Coruscant?
Senator Kymeri beamed as they approached and strode towards them in greeting “Ah, Hyperion Squad! So glad that you arrived!”
“Senator Kymeri,” Jawbreaker said evenly, nodding to the man.
Kymeri eagerly thrust out his hand for Jawbreaker, and after a second’s hesitation, Jawbreaker accepted it. Kymeri began to shake Jawbreaker’s hand vigorously. “It’s an honour to meet one of the new defenders of the Republic. It’s about time we had an army again. The Ruusan Reformation was a travesty, an absolute travesty. It left us so open and vulnerable, frankly I’m amazed that we weren’t dragged into war sooner!”
Destroyer had no idea what the Ruusan Reformation was, and judging by pause, Jawbreaker didn’t seem to either “Ah, yes, well I suppose the Jedi and the Judicial Forces have been doing an adequate job in the absence of an actual army.”
Kymeri shrugged, his expression suggesting that he was not convinced “Oh, well enough, I suppose. But they’re no replacement for the real thing. As I said, it’s a good thing you and your fellow troopers are here to defend us. I’m sure the planets of the Republic will be perfectly safe under your watch, as will we.”
“Yes, Senator, we aim to do our best.”
Kymeri leaned closer to Jawbreaker and clasped his hand “I’m sure you’ll be quite capable. I know I feel more at ease under your protection that I do with the Senate Guard.”
The Senate Guards bristled at that, and Destroyer inwardly groaned. That was just great, the Senator was inadvertently driving a wedge between Hyperion Squad and the Guardsmen. Looking past Kymeri, Destroyer could see Senator Shessaun frown.
“Oh…thank you for believing in us, senator,” Jawbreaker said, and Destroyer was sure that his sergeant had supressed a sigh.
One of the Senate Guards stepped forward and placed a hand on Kymeri’s shoulder “Senator, with respect, we should be leaving now. We’re on a schedule.”
Kymeri waved his hand impatiently “Yes, yes, of course. Well, if you’ll excuse me, Sergeant…?”
Kymeri paused, a look of confusion on his face “Certainly a strange name. Ah, well, I look forward to getting to know you and your squad. If you’ll excuse us, I’ll see you aboard.”
The lead Senate Guard turned to his subordinates “Retiko, Murst, Okram, escort the senators to the ship. I’d like to have a word with Hyperion Squad. Blaire, with me.”
As the senators and the guards made their way to the ship, the female aide tripped, seemingly on her own feet. She let out a brief cry of surprise, before hitting the ground, where she lay in an undignified heap. Senator Kymeri sighed and rolled his eyes. Cabur hurried over to help her up, but as Destroyer was closer, he beat him to it.
“Th-thanks,” The woman mumbled, turning her face away from Destroyer and hurriedly putting her hair back in place.
“Ketya, try to be less clumsy in the future,” Senator Kymeri snapped, his face wrinkling as he frowned at his aide.
Ketya bowed her head, her face turning red “Apologies, senator.”
“Well, hurry up, girl! We’re on a schedule!”
“Yes, senator, at once, senator.”
And at that, the aide scrambled to catch up with the others. Destroyer frowned, Kymeri certainly treated Ketya differently to how he treated Hyperion Squad. It had been somewhat uncomfortable to watch, and he felt bad for the young woman. He watched her as she got aboard, the last one to do so.
Destroyer turned his head as he heard Jawbreaker speak “Now, Guardsman, what did you want to talk with us about?”
“Sergeant Trevayl, trooper. And I wanted to let you know that I don’t particularly trust you. Not since your lot made such an embarrassing spectacle of yourselves at your base. You’re insubordinate, dangerous and the Republic shouldn’t have to be blackmailed by its own soldiers,” Trevayl said, jabbing his finger at Jawbreaker.
Jawbreaker peered down at the extended digit for a moment, before shoving it aside. “With respect, Sergeant, that wasn’t me, and that wasn’t my squad. And if I had my way, the shabuirs behind it would have been locked away for their behaviour.”
“Great, not even our second mission and we’re already getting flak for something those shabuir Nulls did!” Genet complained over the helmet-comm, a clear edge to his voice.
“Genet, quiet!” Cabur hissed.
Sergeant Trevayl cast his gaze up and down Jawbreaker, apparently appraising him “Prove me wrong, Sergeant.”
And at that, he and the other Guardsman turned and marched towards the Point of Light.
“I don’t like them,” Genet said after a moment had passed.
“So much for professionalism,” Destroyer murmured.