prompt: what does wilhuff do to relax? does he relax? and congrats on your milestone!
“That will be all, general,” Tarkin said, still gazing out the viewport of his quarters.
“That will be all, general,” Tarkin said, still gazing out the viewport of his quarters.
“Thank you, sir,” General Veers replied. “My men are looking forward to a bit of R&R after this long war.”
Tarkin hummed a non-committal reply.
Out in the glittering darkness of space, TIE Fighters occasionally floated across his vision, running drills no doubt. There was little else to do, after all.
In the days following the fall of the Rebellion at Yavin, there existed an anti-climactic lull in the galaxy. There was work to be done, yes, but the urgency that fueled the Empire’s actions for nearly a decade was now nothing more than galactic maintenance and the occasional rounding up of rebel deserters.
It was a time of peace, he supposed.
So then why do I feel so…unsatisfied?
Tarkin turned his head, arching an eyebrow at the general whom he assumed had already left him.
“That will be all, general.”
Veers did not move. He stood at attention, his officer’s cap tucked beneath his arm, chin up and jaw set. Always the iron-willed soldier, the general showed only the slightest hint of apprehension with a quick rise and fall of his Adam’s apple.
“Sir, if you have nothing pressing at the moment, might I suggest you take some leave yourself.”
Tarkin turned fully to the general, hands tucked behind his back and eyes narrowed. “I do not need leave time, general. Whether in peace or in war I am still the Grand Moff of the Empire and one does not take holiday with such a title.”
“With all do respect, sir, that is precisely the title that should earn a person a rather decent holiday.” Veers arched an audacious eyebrow. “We have won, sir. Our enemies have been crushed. We-”
Tarkin waved a dismissive hand and turned back to the viewport. “Thank you for your concern, general.”
“Yes, sir,” Veers replied.
Tarkin watched the reflection of the general in the glass. Giving a curt bow, Veers turned heel and strode towards the door. He paused in the doorway before turning back a final time. “If you change your mind, I will be in Hanger Bay Nine.” then as an afterthought he added, “and wear something you do not mind getting bloody.”
By the time Tarkin turned to face the general, Veers was gone.
Hangar Bay Nine was better known as a TIE Fighter graveyard where engineers stored, scrapped and repurposed the broken machines. The manner in which the vehicles were laid out resembled some sort of death-defying obstacle course. Fractured wings served as ramps, pods were hollowed out and filled with nests of frayed wires, and slabs of metal scraps were welded together like rungs on a ladder or bouldering footholds.
Tarkin arrived in the hangar wearing a simple black shirt tucked into a pair of deep green cargo pants and a pair of his most comfortable boots, the very same he wore on his Eriadu safari trips. The boots were scuffed and worn with definitive claw and tooth marks against the thick leather.
Tarkin found Veers sitting on an old ammunition crate that looked like it had not seen the light of day since the Clone Wars. Rather than leap to his feet, the general merely glanced at the grand moff before returning to his primary focus, tightening a screw on a handheld controller. “Governor, you made it.” He said.
The greeting was so casual that Tarkin had a mind to reprimand the general, but he held his tongue. Veers was no longer in uniform, now wearing a pair of mottled khaki cargo pants and an olive green shirt that clung to his sveldt army-sculpted form.
“It seems you had little doubt I would show,” Tarkin remarked, eyeing the ammunition crate next to the general. A black felt blanket cushioned eight blasters, two pairs of sporting blasters and two pairs of heavy blasters, as well as a row of energy cartridges.
“A hope rather than an assumption,” Veers retorted, rising to his feet, though still not acknowledging the rank between them. “Thank you for coming, sir.”
The relaxed posture of the general and the casual clothes between them gave Tarkin an ease he did not expect. In all logic, even out of uniform, he vastly outranked the military man, but this event seemed to not involve rank and so Tarkin allowed himself to settle into the informal setting.
Tarkin approached the crate, gliding his fingers over the cool barrel of the long-nosed sporting blaster. He noted the energy cylinder was stouter than average model with a pair of tubes connecting the cylinder to what looked like a small exhaust port?
“These are not the standard issue nobleman’s wampa shooter. They certainly are not weapons for the weak-chinned.”
A brief smile twitched at Veers serious face. “You noticed. No, these were among the intercepted cargo bound for Saw Guerra’s remaining forces. They modified the sporting blasters to shoot twice the range without sacrificing accuracy.”
“They will overheat quickly,” Tarkin remarked, picking up the blaster and turning it over in his hand, testing the weight. He glanced up at Veers to see the general kept his face neutral, though his eyes seemed to glitter with excitement.
His words came out quick and clipped, which for “Iron Max” it was as close to giddy as the man came.
“Yes, I deduced this as well. If you note, the small exhaust port in the back will allow for, I would say, eighteen to twenty blasts rather than the five or six expected from these blasters. However, after that, they will be little more than piping hot paperweights. This is why I have provided heavy blasters as back up. Still, I am eager to give these weapons a try, as I hope you look forward to it as well.”
“I am curious,” Tarkin admitted. “And what shall we be using for target practice?” Tarkin asked, surveying the hangar for cans or bottles or…perhaps rebel pilot helmets.
“Ah,” Veers said, holding up the small blue box. “Now this…will be a bit unconventional, sir, but again I hope that you will find this to your liking.”
The general pressed the center button and a low hum filled the air.
No…not a hum, Tarkin corrected. It sounds like…buzzing.
Ten metallic insects, the size of mouse droids, rose in the air from behind a cracked TIE pod.
“Hornet droids,” Tarkin said, arching an eyebrow. Instinctively, his body calmed, every muscle stilled. It was a technique that came as naturally to him as breathing despite not having hunted on the dangerous plains of Eriadu for nearly a decade. “Are they fully operational.”
Veers slowly hooked the controller to his belt, his eyes fixed on the insects. “Of course, sir.”
Tarkin allowed himself to indulge in the slight flutter in his chest. Hornet drones were used in Stormtrooper training courses and were modeled after Blaster Hornets of his homeworld. Their sting was not deadly, but very painful. A good five or six attacks would put a stormtrooper in the infirmary for a month.
“And how many of them are there?” He said in a low tone.
“There are as many as we wish until we run out of ammunition,” Veers replied, his brown eyes seemed to study Tarkin closely. “Will this be acceptable, sir?”
Tarkin turned to look at Veers, his gray eyes scrutinizing the general.
“How did you know I would come here?”
Veers did not shy from his gaze. Unblinking he replied, “You are the master huntsman of Eriadu. A living legend of sharpshooters. If ever there was an activity to soothe the greatest blasterslinger in the Outer Rim, it would be doing what he does best.”
The hornets split off into two groups, circling the hanger and the imperials who moved along with them. The pincer attack the drones were planning put Tarkin and Veers backs together.
“How shall we proceed, general?”
“Sir, I would be honored if you gave the order instead.”
Not since the Clone Wars had someone needed military stratagem from Tarkin and exhilaration swelled in the chest of this hunter-turned-politician.
“In that case, general..
” Tarkin fired five shots in quick succession.
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.
“…follow my lead, and try not to get stung.”
Five hornet droids fell to the ground, glowing eyes dimming, a blaster hole between her eyes.
Veers fired five shots as well, catching four targets. The fifth dove at Veers who slammed the butt of his gun into the head of the drone. It fell to the floor a sparking mess of wires.
“Yes, sir,” Veers nodded. “It will be a pleasure to see the legend in action today.” he remarked, which felt more matter-of-fact than flattery.
“You will not see a legend today, general.” Tarkin said, twirling the blaster on its trigger guard, already comfortable with the weapon in hand. “You will merely see a predator long overdue for a hunt.”
Ten more hornet droids rose in the air.
The two warriors merely smiled.
(Thank you so so much, @admfirmuspiett, for this prompt! I know Veers was itching for some buddy time with Wilhuff!)