Chapter 3

Silence. It was the first time Oorvo Glik had ever experienced anything like it. No orders, no chatter, no updates or information, only an enduring silence. He awoke to seeing blurred forms moving in and out of his vision, taking turns shielding his eyes from a blinding light behind them. With a few blinks, Oorvo's vision coalesced into normal sight, showing him just what was standing around him. His body stiffened when he realized just where he was, and his heart sank as he looked into the faces of his captors.

The ugly human faces encircled him, all of them half-hidden by medical masks. The light above them made their features hard to distinguish, but Oorvo was more concerned with his own inability to move. Using his stubby eye-stalks, he rotated his field of vision to assess his surroundings. As he had expected, he was lying in a medical stasis field. Above him was a medical spot lamp, and a droid hovering over him, scanning his body for any fluctuations. To his left, Oorvo saw a transparisteel wall, with several more humans staring at him and talking amongst themselves. He opened his mouth to trill a curse, then thought of the humans observing him and remained silent.

One of the masked humans, a female judging by the pheromones, adjusted the gyros of the table so Oorvo was repositioned with his back facing up. "Extensive burn damage to the upper thorax and wing housings." Said the female.

"The wings are irreplaceable, but that doesn't concern us. These other wounds, however seem mostly superficial. The chitin protected it from anything too serious." replied a more masculine voice.

Oorvo knew that he was the "it" the voice was talking about, and he silently wished a thousand curses on the owner of the voice.

There was a sudden pain on his back quickly followed by a cool soothing feeling that spread over the entire area. His vision narrowed as the female talked of an initial bacta and sedative treatment before unconsciousness enveloped him.

When he woke again, Oorvo Glikk found himself in a small durasteel room with a table and a single light source; the force-wall rayshield that made up one of the walls. A holding cell obviously, Oorvo thought. He paced for a bit, examining the table bolted to the floor and the wall sections surrounding the rayshield. It dawned on him how cold it was in the room. Peering through the red haze of the force-wall, he could just see a viewport at the end of the hallway. An unending stream of pulsing blue scenery lay just beyond. They were in a ship in hyperspace.

Panic started to fill his mind. Had he been connected to his hive, the resolve of his queen and fellow warriors would wash out any fear that tried to rise in him or anywhere in the hive. But the hive was—he paused, having difficulty even forming the thought—was dead. His hive was dead and his queen with it. The fear rose to a crescendo inside him and he huddled in a corner of the cell. His mind cleared somewhat when he heard the sound of boots on durasteel echoing towards him. From around the corner, two clone troopers turned, and made their way to his cell, "Hey buggie. Someone's here to ask you a few questions." One of the clones said, while the other began to make notes on a datapad.

No sooner had the clone spoken before the sound of boots was heard again, and both clones snapped to attention as another figure stepped around the corner and marched up to the cell. This one, a human with short, cropped black hair with matching hair near his mouth, wore no armor. Instead, he wore a grey uniform with some sort of Republic insignia pinned to the front breast. Thinking back to the various Confederacy of Independent Systems military leaders that he had guarded over the past few months, Oorvo could easily guess that this was a Republic officer. His bony hands flexed and he clicked impotently from behind the force-wall that separated them, wishing desperately that he could get some small vengeance for the death of his queen by killing this man.

The officer silently stared at Oorvo for some time, twitching the black hairs on his mouth like a pair of mandibles, then finally spoke, "You are currently and indefinitely a prisoner of war to the Galactic Republic." The brisk, monotone syllables paused as he studied the Geonosian again, then continued, "You are being held as a war criminal; helping and actively working as a member of the Geonosian species—native to the planet of Geonosis—with known enemies and seditionists of the Galactic Republic. Being charged with these crimes, you forfeit certain rights as a recognized sentient being, and may be subject to actions deemed illegal under normal questioning. Do you understand this?" He finished, with a look of smug victory stamped on his face.

Oorvo Glikk simply stood there, eying the human before finally responding in a clipped tone, making sure to emphasize each syllable and trill, "I am Oorvo Glikk; warrior caste and sentry to the late Regent Queen Vreefa of Geonosia. You will neither get answers nor satisfaction out of my capture, only the promise of my vengeance for murdering her Highness and the cultural genocide of my hive!"

One of the clones handed the datapad to the officer, who read it while glancing at Oorvo. Once he finished, he sneered, "Well, if we're doing grandiose introductions, then you should know the name of your captor and interrogator. I am second lieutenant Andradi, and though you say you will not talk, I promise you that I will get answers from you with or without your compliance."

He gave a predatory smile and added, "I'll be back in a short while. Then, we can talk some more."

Jedi master Razz-Nek-Tarr sat cross-legged in the private quarters he had been given upon his arrival aboard one of the Republic's new Acclamator-class assault ships; this one being named the Decisive. The setup for him within the ship was rather haphazard, but so was the entire situation he found himself in. He meditated on the whirlwind of events that had occurred in the past several hours; the capture of Jedi Kenobi, the unexpected outbreak of war in the galaxy, the clone army that appeared seemingly out of nowhere, his sudden promotion to general...

He internally winced at that last thought. Jedi weren't meant to lead troops into battle or coordinate massive fleet invasions, or even be involved in the military. Obviously the officers on-board thought so as well. While none of them showed it on the outside—a testament to their military bearing—his keen Jedi senses showed him the animosity that roiled off of them. Some resented him because of his "free promotion", some because he was a Jedi, and others because he simply wasn't human. The lumpy, oblong head of a Cerean definitely stood out among the rest of the all-human crew.

Of those humans, though, the clones almost felt like something else entirely. Human by species, not by birth, they showed none of the resentment of their non-clone superiors. Even with their helmets obscuring their expressions, Razz could feel their awe and child-like curiosity about him. He had to admit, he felt about as much curiosity towards them. On several occasions he had attempted to speak with one or two alone after their hyperspace jump from Geonosis, but was always whisked away or otherwise distracted by his new duties and responsibilities.

Just as he thought on that, the buzzer for his quarters sounded, announcing someone at the door. Razz rubbed one of his four temples and in a tired voice droned, "You may enter," and settled in for more demands and instructions.

The door parted with a hiss, and lieutenant Andradi stepped in. With a slight cough to garner the Jedi's attention, Andradi waited until Razz-Nek-Tarr gave his full attention. With his eyes still closed, the Jedi sighed, "Yes, Second Lieutenant Andradi?"

Andradi gave a short and somewhat strained bow, "Master Jedi," he began in a tone somewhere between uneasy and annoyed, "we need you to attend to your duties as General again."

"More troops to lead into glorious battle?" the Jedi replied dryly.

"Not exactly," Andradi replied with a smile that sent vaguely dark ripples through the Force, making Razz open his eyes to look directly at the man. "As you are aware, we jumped from the system after unloading our second-wave troops on the planet, and extracting our first-wave casualties."

"Yes, I was aware of the situation and was reading several reports on the subject earlier." Razz said evenly, waiting for him to make his point.

Andradi nodded, but continued, "A secondary objective, however, was given to our troops on the ground—an order to detain and question any Separatist or indigenous prisoners. We have what we believe to be a high-ranking Geonosian guard on-board in the detention block. I would like you to use your Jedi powers to make him tell us everything we want to know."

Razz-Nek-Tarr studied the lieutenant for a few moments, gently probing his consciousness as well as thinking on the possible consequences of taking such an action . He replied in a slow, cautious tone, "Jedi mind-influencing only work on the weak-minded. Wouldn't a guard of such stature be strong-willed? Even trying such a technique on individuals like this only tends to make them more tight-lipped."

Second Lieutenant Andradi frowned, but the frown quickly gave way to that same predatory smile, showing his teeth like an acklay thinking of its next meal. "In that case, I suppose I will have to change plans a bit. I will call you down in a short while. As for his 'strong will', leave that to me." And turning on his heels, Andradi left the Jedi with new matters to meditate on.

The cell swam back into existence for the third time now. Oorvo tried to focus his mind, and felt the mental fog begin to clear a bit. Earlier, the officer, Second Lieutenant Andradi, had threatened him. Soon after departing, he had made good on his threat. Oorvo was quickly strapped down to the durasteel table of his cell, and the interrogations soon followed. Focusing on the here-and-now, he once again took stock of his surroundings. Yes, he was still on a starship, and still in the same cell. The room was still dark; bathed in no light but the dull, red glow of the force-wall that gave everything a haunting look. He tried flexing an arm against the thick, leather straps that secured him when suddenly, to his right, a small yellow beam of light snapped on. Looking over, Oorvo recognized the faint pulsing glow of his interrogator's photoreceptors.

"Your vitals indicate consciousness, organic." Came the cold, metallic voice of the G-6 interrogation droid. "I will call down my master, Lieutenant Andradi. He will be most pleased to see you lucid again. Until that time, I shall keep you company, and you can tell me some more about your hive."

Several minutes of question, counter-question and pain passed by before Oorvo heard footsteps down the hall as Andradi arrived. The G-6 paused upon seeing him, one of its appendages hovering inches away from Oorvo's upper thorax; a vicious-looking green fluid beading at the tip of the limb's hypo-syringe.

"That's enough for now Jeesix," Andradi said casually to the droid, "You've had your fun. Now I would like to speak with our guest."

The interrogator droid tilted its head down, its vocabulator making a fair attempt at disappointment, "But sir, we were so close to a real heart-to-heart moment."

Andradi simply glared at the droid. It withdrew and tucked the needle against its chassis, pivoted, and rolled back into the corner before powering down. "You'll have to excuse my droid," he said in a smooth but mocking tone, "Gresh-Sixes are known to grow more precise and talented the longer they go without a memory wipe, however, they tend to develop a few quirks along the way." He strode over to the side of the table and pulled out a datapad, no doubt for a recording and translation of whatever Oorvo had to say. "But you know all about droids, considering the factories churning them out on your homeworld, correct?"

Oorvo thought back to his hive and its sacred assembly factories entwined in them. He used the memory to fuel his righteous fury, giving the mental strength to fight against the mind-numbing chemicals already in his system. He remained stubbornly silent, staring at the human with loathing in his eyes.

Andradi scoffed, "They used you, you know. Those Separatists used your planet and resources, and when war came, they dropped you like a rotten juma fruit. They saw our fleets and warships in the skies of Geonosis and ran, leaving you behind." He spoke those last three words as hardly a whisper, leaning in as if telling Oorvo a well-guarded secret.

The Geonosian's mind raced. Cut off from his hive-mind seemed only to intensify the stupefying effects of the drugs, but as he heard the words, and repeated them inside his mind, they made more and more sense! Weakly, he nodded.

"Yes, yes." Andradi coaxed, honestly looking as if he sympathized with his captive, "But now is your chance to get your revenge on them." He turned the datapad around so Oorvo could see the screen. A topographical map of his and several other hives were projected, with red points of interest dotting the landscape, "This map shows certain key factories the Separatists are using on Geonosis. They are too deep for our bombers, and are securely locked. You, being a royal guard, must know the codes to access these facilities. All you need to do is tell me, and I will make sure you get your revenge on that Separatist scum."

Oorvo tried hard to focus on why he was this man's enemy. He grasped for any reason why he would not, and should not give the man any information, but the fog in his mind was too much. Why shouldn't he just tell Second Lieutenant Andradi everything he wanted to know?

Andradi saw it in the bug's face: confusion, internal conflict, and behind it all, the answers he wanted. Now was the time, he told himself. One more push, one more lie, and the bug would sing like a bird. "Remember, Oorvo, they betrayed you. Yes, the Separatists built their factories in your hive, but that's not all. Rebublic intelligence traces it all back to your queen. She let them in! They were all in league; all willing to let you and your kind die as they escaped, your queen included. The Separatist betrayed you, and your queen betrayed you. And now, you are all alone. Show them the price of their treachery. Give me those codes!"

Andradi's statement struck Oorvo like a blow to the head. He mentally latched onto it, using it to clear the cloud in his mind. His queen would never betray her hive. This he knew as absolute fact. Everyone in the hive, even the lowest worker drone, would have known of any treason immediately through their mental link! The absurdity of what this human was saying caused him to strain against his bindings. In a high, frantic buzz, he called Andradi's bluff, "Human Republic lies and slander! My queen would never betray her children! The factories were blessed by all regent-queens of Geonosia, and by our leader, Poggle the Lesser. The deceptions and trickery of demons will not sway me!"

The last syllable trailed off into a feverish buzz as Andradi's sympathetic smile melted into a hate-filled sneer. "I see we require a bit more persuasion," he said in a cold voice, walking over to the deactivated G-6 droid. Plucking the syringe it had been brandishing earlier, he walked back over, "I honestly don't know what this one does," he said as he flicked the container, "or the proper dosage. Why don't we find out together?"

A sudden jolt of pain shot through the Force, clawing at Razz's mind as a desperate animal seeking any means of escape. The Jedi instinctively recoiled from the source, but he found that he couldn't break his meditation; the Force seemed to want him to see this. The other mind, the one in such turmoil, seemed as if it, too, wouldn't let him go. Somewhere on the ship, someone was in pain—terrible pain.

Reluctantly, he reached out with his senses, touching the tormented soul. He felt fear and pain and confusion roiling inside, but pushed through these surface feelings to try connecting to the mind itself. Suddenly, there was a flicker of something different pushing towards the creature's mind just as he was. Razz felt it as a thin needle made of malice, trying to pierce into the mind and weaken it. He felt his mind begin to connect to the one in pain, and the outside malice soon felt as if it was piercing into his mind. Inhaling deeply, Razz called on the Force to allow him mental focus, trying to find the source of the pain even as he tried to shield the other mind from it. He probed whatever was causing the torment, and felt a trickle of cold touch his mind.

Razz-Nek-Tarr knew that cold touch immediately, and the shock of finding it here and now snapped him out of the dream-like state he had been in, leaving him breathless and covered in a cold sweat. His mind raced. The Dark Side was here? How could such a taint of the Dark Side of the Force be on-board their ship? Razz stood, wiping his face with a towel from the refresher, and tried to focus on what all this meant.

He mentally put aside the obvious problem of the touch of the Dark Side, and thought about the catalyst: the mind that had called out to him through the Force. He had read accounts in the Jedi Archives on Coruscant of the Unifying Force connecting the minds of those who were close; friends, lovers, even masters and their apprentices. But the mind that he connected with had been utterly alien, let alone that it was someone he had never even met before. But that didn't matter in the slightest. All he knew was that this being was in pain, and somehow the Dark Side surrounded it. All signs pointed to the fact that it was his duty as a Jedi to investigate.

Razz slid his simple brown cloak over his light tunic, and grabbed his lightsaber from the lampstand next to the door. He opened the door to begin scouring the ship, when the door slid open, bringing him face-to-face with Second Lieutenant Andradi, his hand about to hit the buzzer for the door.

"Ah, Mast—uh—General Razz-Nek-Tarr, he said, lowering his hand from the buzzer and giving a sloppy salute as well as his unnerving grin, "I was just coming to see if you were in. I'm in luck to have caught you."

"In my profession it is said that there is no such thing as luck." Razz said dismissively as he tried to quickly sidestep the man.

Andradi adeptly moved in front of him, blocking his way, "Your duties are once again needed, General. I had said I would be back for your assistance with the prisoner, and now is the time." He stood poised, ready to block another attempt by the Jedi General to elude him, but Razz paused. The Force was tugging at him, giving a hint of guidance to go with the Lieutenant.

Nodding slowly, Razz obliged, "Yes. My duties again. I will do what I can for you. Take me to your prisoner, Lieutenant Andradi.