Locke winced at the sudden blaring alarm. It was less from shock and more at the fact that it meant they were discovered. He watched Aexod slowly cut through the false wall, his lightsaber seeming to move at a crawl.
“They’re going to be here any second,” Locke said.
“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Aexod muttered, still cutting the wall.
“Right,” Locke replied, looking around. The CEO’s office only had one entrance. It had a window opposite the desk, but that window was several stories up and likely protected in some way. It might have made a nice entry point, except that it would have alerted the corporation right away. That wasn’t an issue now, however.
Without really thinking about it, Locke summoned the Force. He grabbed the CEO’s nice office chair and yanked it toward the window. It slammed into the window and bounced off, only leaving a crack.
“Seriously?” Locke growled. He heard shouts in the distance. The Arcanist thought about using his lightsaber, but decided there wasn’t enough time. He pulled his slugthrower free of it’s holster and fired several shots into the window. The first three did nothing, then the next left cracks that spider-webbed out from their centers. Still, the window held.
Locke grumbled a curse under his breath and tossed one of his thermal detonators toward the window. He glanced at Aexod, intending to warm him. The Zabrak was still cutting, but had looked back at Locke after hearing the slugthrower firing. He arched an eyebrow just before the detonator exploded against the base of the window.
When it dissipated, there was no window. “Finally,” Locke said. He heard footsteps now and turned toward the exit to the CEO’s office, rolling another detonator that direction. He hoped the resulting explosion would keep security away for a few more moments.
The Arcanist stepped to the window and looked down, then up, ignoring the loud explosion behind him. The street was far below; a typical ledge far above them. That part of the building’s architecture would come in handy. He holstered his slugthrower and readied his blaster pistol.
Locke fired the SH-9’s ascension gun, the grappling hook launching up and catching on the ledge. He tugged it twice to test it and was satisfied that it held. Looking inside, the Arcanist noted that Aexod had nearly finished cutting a hole in the false wall behind the CEO’s desk.
“Aexod,” Locke said, getting the Zabrak’s attention. “When you’re done, use this to get safely to ground level. When you flick this switch, it will lower you, the other one raises you, got it?”
“Yeah, and where are you going?” Aexod asked.
Locke looked toward the door. “I’m covering your escape. Get the relic to our contact and report back to the Rollmaster. I’ll get in touch with him to make sure you got out alright and that the mission is successful, then report back to the Commissioner. Good luck.”
“Right,” Aexod said. “Don’t get killed.”
“Definitely not planning on it,” Locke mumbled. He stepped out of the office and slid the door shut behind him.
He was face to face with three security guards. Each carried blaster carbines and had them pointed at Locke.
“Howdy folks,” Locke said.
Please don’t recognize me.
They didn’t. They examined him, obviously noting the uniform. Perhaps they thought him some high level member of their organization.
“What were you doing in the CEO’s office?” one asked, voice tense.
“I heard sirens, so I came running,” Locke said. He chose his words carefully, trying to concoct a story on the fly. “The CEO isn’t there, but someone was trying to break in or something. I chased them out, though!”
The guard didn’t look impressed. “We still need to investigate, but it’s good that you are not harmed.”
Then there was a sudden loud thud from the office. Locke hoped that was Aexod breaking into the vault.
“What was that? Get out of the way!”
“Now now,” Locke said, voice rising in pitch, but tone staying even. “Are you doubting me?”
“There was a noise,” another guard said. “We should check it out.”
“The office was damaged,” Locke replied, “maybe it was a wall falling. It’s probably not safe in there.”
Another thud seemed to punctuate his statement. _Okay, I really hope that was the vault this time.
The guard wasn’t impressed. “Even so, it is our duty to check, even if you are an executive. Step aside. Now.” He gestured to one of the others, who stepped forward and pushed Locke toward one wall. The Bakuran let himself be moved, staying silent for now.
You’d better be done, Aexod!
As the two other guards passed by Locke, the third released him and followed. The Arcanist walked in behind them, quietly slipping his slugthrower out of it’s belt holster.
“There’s no one here,” one guard said.
Wait, Locke told himself. He really hated infiltration. The Arcanist summoned the Force, improving his senses. His hands became steady, his arms enhanced. He held that power ready.
“The vault has been opened!” another shouted.
Wait, Locke sized up the guards. One stood in the middle of the office, another behind the CEO’s desk. The third was slowly approaching the gaping window. The Force gathered within the Arcanist…
Remind me never to take another infiltration mission.
The third guard stepped to the window and pointed his carbine downward. “There’s someone out here!” he yelled.
Now. In one quick motion, Locke raised his slugthrower and fired through the back of the guard’s knee. He cried out and dropped to the ground, landing right next to the window. Locke moved quickly, firing at the guard by the vault, his shot entering the man’s shoulder. Finally, he aimed at the third one and fired.
The shot missed. “Kriffing piece of bantha puuduu,” Locke growled, advancing on the guard so the man couldn’t use his carbine. Locke threw an awkward punch at the man, but the guard easily dodged it. He grabbed Locke, and before the Arcanist knew it, he was on the ground in a chokehold.
His mind raced as Locke tried to figure out the best thing to do. He tightly gripped the arm around his neck, trying to amplify his strength with the Force. It didn’t help. The man was just too strong. It seemed that Locke might have no choice but to use a more overt form of the Force. Maybe, if it was quick enough, the guard would later doubt himself, and this would just be a rumor.
The Arcanist channeled his fury at being held like this. He added his anger at Aexod for killing that executive and seeming to not care for Locke’s orders. He used those emotions to fill himself with the dark side. Then he restrained it, and released a small burst.
For a moment, lightning crackled over Locke’s fingertips. The guard shouted a curse and let go, staring at his arm in confusion.
Locke scrambled to his feet. “Sorry, taser ,” he said. He heard more guards coming. “I’d really like to stay, but I don’t think I’m welcome.”
He risked a glance over his shoulder. They were several floors up. It seemed suicidal to jump out the window, but it was also his only hope. If he stayed, he would be captured. The mission would be a failure. His enemies would know where he was and the clan’s position would be significantly weakened.
Well, maybe I can use the Force to make this hurt less, at least.
Cursing under his breath again, Locke stepped out of the building. He dropped instantly, trying to focus on summoning the Force to strengthen his leg muscles. At the same time, he gathered the Force as if for a telekinetic burst, and aimed his palm at the ground.
Then, just before he hit, Locke released that energy. The Arcanist still slammed into the ground, feeling ribs crack, something in his forearm shatter, and the air knocked out of him. He stumbled and rolled, releasing the Force. The Arcanist struggled to his feet, pushing himself on sheer willpower alone. He coughed up blood as he hobbled into the nearest alleyway and did his best to disappear.
Hearing shouts behind, Locke zigzagged through alleyways, his own heartbeat growing louder in his ears. Finally, he turned a corner and sagged, sitting on the ground. The shouting did not grow louder. He still had his comlink and gripped it tightly in one hand, thinking about who he could call.
I can’t make a scene, and I can’t let someone capitalize on this.
He’d call Teu. He still had a code to reach out to his old master, and the worst thing she would do is scold him. The Arcanist turned the comlink on, keyed the distress code, and relaxed.
Some time later, Aexod found Locke. “I delivered the relic and it appears we’re in the clear,” he said. “Though, there’s a story all over the news about an armed robbery. They say two individuals used heavy explosives to force their way into their headquarters in a random robbery. One had a cutting tool that may have been a lightsaber, but they aren’t sure.”
“Great,” Locke breathed. “Mission accomplished.”
“Yeah,” Aexod said, “but you look like you lost a fight with a bantha.”
“I’m fine,” Locke lied. “Go report back to the Rollmaster. I’ll get out of here on my own.”
Aexod laughed, paused, and stood up. He seemed on the edge of some decision.
“You stayed behind so I could get out. That’s respectable,” he said.
“You did all the work,” Locke answered. “I just failed to talk my way out of the situation.”
Aexod chuckled and then departed.
Locke was thankful the other man had not attempted to take advantage of his injuries.
He reached out with the Force. He knew Teu was near, but would not be arriving for another hour or so. Locke would probably black out by then. He raised his comlink one more time. A familiar voice answered his query.
“Celevon,” Locke said through gritted teeth. “Mission complete.”
“Good,” the Commissioner replied.
“Tell the Dark Council,” Locke breathed deeply. “Tell them I don’t do infiltration.”
“You tell them,” Celeveon replied. Then he cut the connection.
Locke laid his head back and wheezed out a laugh. He would have to be careful next time. He had also learned a great deal about one of the clan’s new members, and hopefully instilled trust in the other man. There was one very important lesson he had learned from this, though:
Infiltration was not his forte.