Itaki had an idle daydream of defecting to her side and who wouldn't? He was lying next to one of the most beautiful women in the galaxy and certainly one of the most influential. She was mature and had a wit and biting cynicism that made him want more than just to be called up for random encounters. He was, after all, an Attache to a relatively important political group that did frequent business with the Empire. He felt he deserved something more meaningful. Love, even.
Not with this woman, though. This was strictly physical and he was just being used, not that he was really complaining about it. She awoke to an alarm and gave Itaki a cool smile, a thank you, maybe it was. He smiled back in a way not to kiss her ass – everyone else did that and she hated it. That's probably why she enjoyed these rendevous with him. He just treated her like a woman and nothing more grandiose. She went to the bathroom and turned on the shower, the door making a little click.
Itaki silently got out of bed and walked over to her data pad, inserted a device into it and a small light on the device started flashing red. He then walked over to the bed, examining her pillow, finding a hair , he placed into it a small baggie. He took her wine glass, careful not to touch it too much and slid it into another baggie. After putting these items in his briefcase he checked the device he'd connected to her data pad. It now displayed a green light so he pulled it out – all downloaded – and put this into his brief case with the other items.
When she reappeared in the room some time later he was dressed and sipping a cup of coffee that room service delivered. He'd ordered fruit and pastries as well. She was checking the time, “No time for breakfast, Itaki, I've got a big day. A big week!”
“Ok, but I still want a kiss”, he said. “Look who's giving orders!”, she exclaimed but put her arms around him with a smile and gave him a lip lock. She knew how to do that well. His daydream continued for a short moment. This woman moved him in a special way. But he also knew the side of her that the news media never saw. The ruthless decisions made and barbarism she possessed. It wasn't her fault though. It was the fault of the society she'd been raised in.
He grabbed his briefcase, saying, “Off to the embassy. Busy week for me as well.” She waved bye as she finished dressing and he was off down the hallway. Empire Protectorate agents roamed the halls, acting like hotel guests and employees but Itaki knew some of them by face. His palms were sweaty though his expression was business perfect. He slowed his pace down a bit to be more natural, in this, last rendevous. A shuttle ride to the hangar was uneventful, maintenance people milling about, cleaning, loading and refueling ships in the dawn light.
Itaki took his briefcase and stepped off the shuttle, noticing two men in suits, presumably Protectorate agents standing near the lift below his Federal Dropship. They were always there keeping it safe during these overnight stays and he was glad to say “Hi.” “Good morning, Mr Itaki”, said one of the men. “Hi, thanks for keeping an eye on my ship”, Itaki said in a friendly tone. Itaki started to climb up into the ship when the other man said, “I'm sorry, Sir but we need to clear your briefcase before you go. Standard procedure.” Itaki brushed off the request by asking the first man about his wife and girls as they had met in the Achenar system and struck up a conversation more than once. A bit of small talk and Itaki moved to slide up into the ship again and the second man repeated his request to search the briefcase. “Oh , right, sorry, I'm probably keeping you from more pressing matters”, Itaki said with a smile, “Is this some new thing? Never had my things searched before.”
The first man said, “They're cracking down on the rules these days. Perceived threats, I guess. It really...” He never finished the sentence because he now had two bullet holes in his head. The second agent staggered back and reached for his own weapon but succumbed to two head shots similar to his partner's wounds. Itaki put the gun back in his briefcase, closed it up and scanning around for witnesses, touched his personal comm. Two Imperial slaves, a man and a woman appeared from the cargo hatch and helped Itaki throw the bodies in the hold. 'No witnesses', he hoped, looking around the pad. “Make sure they're dead”, he said as he ran to the cockpit and suited up.
The ship lifted off the planetary pad even before the tower said, “November 8927, you're clear for launch.” The ship creaked and groaned like the mournful beast it was but away it went. Itaki maxxed the pips to engines and thrusted the ship straight up into the sky then boosted out past the horizon, seeing a speeding ticket notice registering on his hud. He cleared the mass lock about 2 ½ Km from the ground, set course for a prearranged system then jumped into hyperspace.
He was going to switch ships at a black market station and quietly disappear, probably forever into Federal retirement. Not that he was really a member. But now the comms panel lit up with a communication request. He opened the channel. It was the Protectorate. A pleasing woman said, “Commander, The Emperor would like you to immediately return for some unfinished business. She expects you back in 15 minutes. Protectorate out.” The screen went blank so Itaki made sure he was full throttle and lined up on the destination.
The male slave reported in by comms that the two men he'd shot were indeed dead and that all was well at their end of the ship. Yet another communications request and Itaki found himself staring at Arissa's angry face. “You son of a bitch! How long have we known each other?”
“God you're beautiful, Emperor”, he found himself saying out loud quite by mistake. “What!?” After a long string of obscenities...and threats...she said, “I should have expected as much. You aren't a real man, anyway.”
Itaki knew he was a dead man...well, a very soon to be...dead man, so he said, “You thought I was a real man last night...baby.” She glared at him then the screen went blank. “I think I pissed her off”, Itaki yelled back to his slave crew.
His body jolted and his teeth began to rattle while he saw his ship wildly moving all over the place out of control. He tried to keep from being interdicted but it wasn't working. His ship was blasted out of Supercruise into normal space where he found two Imperial Clippers taking down his shields.
He moved power pips to weapons and turned flight assist off to flip over and laser them back. Beams of destructive extremely coherent light slammed into his ship, overloading the shields and ripping into the hull. It made a horrible shrieking and tearing sound like Armageddon had been unleashed. Itaki targeted the power plant on the first one and alpha striked it with five beams while barrel rolling and dropping chaff.
For some reason the female slave was yelling at him to answer the comms. “What? Now?!!” He looked up and saw “Priority One Communication Pending.” He opened the channel. “Little busy now! What do you want?!”, he barked into the radio. The smiling face of Felicia Winters said, “Itaki, retract your hardpoints.” He continued firing. He almost had the shields down on one of the vessels. He was losing his own hull too fast though. “STOP SHOOTING AT US!”, Felicia yelled, her face making a horrible scowl he'd never seen before. With a stunned expression, his finger let go of the trigger. Before he could ask why they shot at him first, Felicia ordered him, “Pop your canopy. Now! And don't forget that briefcase!”
With his heart beating in his throat, he throttled down, blew the canopy open and with briefcase in hand floated into space. Thirty seconds later he witnessed his Federal Dropship explode about a kilometer away as the two Clippers finished it off. His heart hurt for his two loyal slaves until he noticed them climbing into the hatch of a nearby Eagle that had been hiding from his sensors. The crew of the Eagle hastened Itaki aboard and the airlock sealed.
Felicia looked damned good for being in her 70s, he thought. 70 was the new 35 after all, in the year 3302. “You're buying me a new ship, right?”, he halfway demanded. “I own them all, Itaki, I'll just give you one, ok?” He liked her style. He liked her social philosophy.
“These aren't slaves are they?” She gave him a stern glance, “Slaves are illegal and immoral. I assume you've been to some of Aisling's little speaking engagements about this issue?” Itaki asked the slaves, “Are you two slaves?” They both quickly denied being slaves and looked to the ground in a submissive, slave-like fashion. Felicia smiled, “Don't take any crap from this guy”, she said, pointing to Itaki with her thumb.
They sat at a small table in the galley, the slaves tending to them and serving them a snack. “Anyway, the data on the Emperor's pad should be invaluable to the Federation. Intel has been a little sparse lately.” Felicia tossed the pad onto the table and smiled at him. Itaki said, “Intel, ah yes, that's what friendly peaceful non-warring factions do, gather intel on each other.”
“There's always dirty work to be done, dear. We both know the perks and abuse government officials accept and dish out. You're working for the good guys, Itaki.”
Itaki leaned in close and said, “We could have some nice perks together.” She matter-of-factly grabbed him by the ear and yelled to two crew members, “I brought this one in the airlock without thinking. Can we get a do over?”
The Shadow President of the Federation and Commander Itaki laughed as best friends do and he asked what the Federation was going to do with Arissa's DNA. “We're going to clone her, Love”, Felicia answered. “You are NOT”, he started laughing. “No, Dear, that was just a little exercise to keep you busy while you downloaded the data pad. You don't think just about anyone has been able to get her DNA over the years? Not that hard, really”, she said. Itaki feigned a hurt look making Felicia roll her eyes in disgust.
“I want extra pay, then!”, Itaki protested. “So did you buy off those Clipper pilots or what?” “Something like that. I have my secrets. The Feds are everywhere, Itaki. Always remember that”, Felicia cautioned. “This operation never took place. I don't know you. You don't know me. Et cetra, Et cetra.”
“Now about your demise. We need to make sure it goes public. You'll be going into the Shadow President's Witness Protection Program...” She rambled on for a while and he wasn't really listening. He was glad though that he was loyal to a level headed leader. She really did care about the people, and him. He wasn't going to be moving to some quiet town though, no matter what she said.