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Note, this is part 3 of the story. Part 1: Wake up call Part 2: Going to extremes ----------------- It was a terrible idea for a mission, so of course High Command was very enthusiastic about it. Pose as mercenaries and help Black Sun destroy the headquarters of a competitor, in hopes of ... what? Gaining the trust of a criminal empire? I didn't want anything to do with it, but once we learned that Agent Goatm An had been spotted at the site, I had no choice. I infiltrate the base with a squad of Dark Troopers, dressed as Mandalorians; once inside I leave the squad and head for the maintenance hanger where Goatm's ship had been spotted. It's not long until I start finding bodies or, more accurately, pieces of bodies. For a second I suspect Goatm, but whoever killed these Ororo employees enjoyed it, and I can't see Goatm gleefully slaughtering unarmed civilians. Traitors or enemies, sure, but this seems too random, too unnecessary. I find their sentry around the next corner. Typical, Black Sun scum. It takes a special kind of stupid to bring a full-sized repeating rifle to a close-quarters battle. There's a pair of them in the next room. One thug's helmet partially deflects my first shot, but not the second. The big guy is faster than he looks. If he'd fired his blaster instead of swinging it like an axe, he might have gotten lucky. I guess this solves the mystery of the carved up bodies. The Mandalorian armor stops the blade, but I can feel ribs snap. That's going to hurt later. The thing about big guys, especially those that spend a lot of time in space, is they have weak joints. When he pulls back the axe, I drop to the floor and kick his knee so hard that the snap makes me wince. I don't know what series of poor life decisions led him to wear a helmet without full head protection, but I take advantage of it. As I turn to enter the utility tunnel I see him. Agent Goam An. Walking slowly toward the main hanger. I follow, cautiously. The hanger comes into view. I can see fighting on the far end of it, a combat walker and some heavily armored troops. Closer, a hooded figure wearing armor, running my way. Even as I start to raise my weapon, my brain dismisses him as a threat. His hands are empty, and his eyes are full of the kind of terror that can't be faked. And there, right in front of me, is Goatm. I could finish it now; his armor doesn't look strong enough to stop blaster fire. For some reason, I hesitate. I'm prepared to drop him if he makes a threatening movement, but I find myself calling out. “Agent An.” He stops, keeping his hands in view. The battle rages inside the hanger, and out in space, but my universe has contracted to this small bubble. I think I'm prepared for anything, but he says the one thing I don't expect. My name. “Sergeant Kirana.” I don't hear the explosion, but I feel it. The deck seems to lurch slightly upward, and dust falls from the walls. Then with a surprisingly quiet sound, almost a whimper, the magnetic shield at the mouth of the hanger vanishes and everything inside rushes into the void of open space. It gets chaotic for a few seconds, and then the blast doors slam shut. The last glimpse I get of Goatm, he seems as surprised as I am. I don't think the explosion was his doing, but it's given him an escape route all the same. I try to open the door - I have 30 minutes of air in my suit - but the safety overrides have locked all access. Damn. I walk to the window instead. A red ship flies past and dips it's wings toward me. Using the magnifier optics in my helmet, I can just make out Goatm inside the cockpit. Well, no reason to stick around here any longer; I have a feeling the entire base is going to become an unhealthy environment very soon. Better see if I can find the Shadow Trooper squad and hitch a ride home. I have a feeling Goatm and I will be meeting again. ----------------------