Captain Benjamin Pierce stared at the boxes that sat atop the break room table. There were three in total. The first contained surgery supplies, best portable equipment money could buy. The second crate contained bandages and food, while the third was nearly overflowing with vital medications. For the first time in his career as a surgeon, he was dismayed at the sight of fresh supplies.
”We can’t accept this,” he said at last as he ran a hand through his greying black hair.
“Have you gone insane, man?” Frank Linville snapped. The man was a reasonably decent surgeon but was also a professional contrarian. If Pierce said the sky was blue, then he would have said it was green just to prove Pierce wrong. “Or are you simply drunk? We haven’t seen a supply shipment in over a month! Have you forgotten how low on supplies we are?”
Pierce did not bother to respond to his colleague. Instead, he turned his bloodshot grey eyes on the redhead who reclined in the folding chair across from them, with a decidedly smug expression on her face. “Who’d you steal these from?” he demanded.
“Nobody who needed them, darling,” Lucine replied with a wave of her hand. When Pierce responded only with a glare, she sighed. “Oh, very well. I have a friend who works in the First Order supply chain. He owed me a favor, and sent me these supplies to settle part of his debt.”
“How very convenient,” Pierce said dryly. “And what’s the catch?”
“Catch?” Lucine repeated, her eyes wide with innocence.
“Lady, I know how you operate. What are you gonna want in return?”
The Sith remained silent as she studied him carefully. “No catch, darling. Sometimes it is to my benefit to simply do things out of the goodness of my heart. This is one of those times,” she said at last. “It is a win-win situation. You get the supplies you so desperately need, and I get the warm fuzzy feeling one gets when they do a good deed.”
“There now, you see?” Frank put in. “Nobody got hurt and no strings attached. So, Major would you kindly stop looking this particular gift horse in the mouth?”
“We’re not in the 4077 anymore, Frank. Not that trying to pull rank on me worked even then,” Pierce snapped. “But fine. We’ll take ‘em.”
Gleefully, Frank grabbed one of the boxes and left to log the contents, leaving the surgeon and the Sith alone in the break room.
“You seem exhausted,” Lucine observed. “I cannot help but to notice that you seem unusually short-tempered. What happened to your usual sarcastic, devil-may-care attitude?”
“Tell ya what, sweet cheeks, you spend a few months doing meatball surgery in a war zone with minimal supplies and see how sunny your personality is,” Pierce replied shortly.
“Charming,” Lucine replied dryly. “Yet I cannot help but to think this has something to do with how we parted ways last time.”
Yeah, maybe,” Pierce said. The silence that fell between them was thick and awkward, as the Major weighed his next words. “It’s just—”
Whatever the surgeon was going to say next was interrupted as a wiry, well-dressed Chiss darted into the room. “Forgive my interruption, my lady, you might wish to see this.”
Lucine could not help but to raise her eyebrows at her butler’s abrupt entrance. It was very unlike him to behave so rudely. “Tabriss? What is it?”
“It appears there is a very large and angry-looking crowd assembling on the street outside,” Tabriss said.
Hurriedly, Pierce crossed the room to peer out the window. Sure enough, approximately two dozen people were milling about outside, despite the heavy gray clouds that hung overhead. Some carried light sources, others carried weapons. All looked angry. He rounded on the redhead. “Did you do this?” he demanded.
“Of course not! Believe it or not, I am not solely responsible for every terrible thing that happens in this city!” Lucine murmured as she peered at the crowd over his shoulder. “Oh dear, it appears their number is growing by the minute.”
Pierce scrubbed his hand over his face. “What could they possibly want?”
“The way Estle City has been lately? Who knows? But it cannot be good,” the Sith said with a shrug of her shoulders. “There is a heavy blanket of anger and fear covering this city. Something terrible is about to happen, and it appears we are right in the middle of it.”