Disclaimer- I don't own Karen Traviss' Republic/Imperial Commando series nor George Lucas' Star Wars franchise. Parts of the quotes, however, are from Karen Traviss' Republic Commando series, book Order 66. Text can be found in chapter ten.
Summary- We all know the scene in Order 66 where Darman punches Kal'buir, and thanks to Vau's misdirection, General Zey assumes Kal was ripping off Republic funds and Vau stopped him. However, thanks to Zey's Force-radar and Vau having a sudden and inexplicable change of gender, General Zey draws a vastly different conclusion!
Arca Barracks, 998 days ABG
Zey was aware that the flapping of his robes as he half-ran, half-stomped down the corridor made him look like a bantha, but he didn't care. More and more as the war trudged on, Zey found himself caring less and less about all the little rule-bending and complete negligence of protocol that Skirata's bunch got up to, but this was over the line!
Zey, if he did say so himself, was very tolerant man. His proof? HE was in charge of Special Operations. HIM. Not, say Kenobi, who was noted for his ability to make peace but would have gone off the edge dealing with the blatant disrespect and migraine inducing abilities of the clones that Zey dealt with every day. Maze was an exception to the rule, and Zey made sure the ARC got the good caf. Everyone else got sludge. Still though, Zey was proud of his abilities to not only deal with, but dish back the snark of men like Kal Skirata.
All that being said, Zey was done. Finished. Finite. He would tolerate no more! Skirata and Vau might be Mandalorian thugs- though some part of his soul cringed at calling a woman as aristocratic as Vau thug, but he would not let them to continue to demonstrate their uncivilized ways in his building for everyone to see!
This was the military, frack it, and he WOULD. HAVE. ORDER!
Kal may have managed to duck his questions when Zey tried to stop him two corridors ago, but the man's face was a map of bruises and swollen parts. He hadn't even been able to stand up straight! As Zey couldn't dream of one of clone's raising a hand against the old sergeant, or anyone else insane enough to enrage Skirata, there was only one person to blame.
And she was right in front of him.
"Sergeant Vau!" he barked, ignoring the surprise from one of Delta Squad- Scorch?- beside her. "What in the name of the Force happened to Skirata? I've just passed him."
Vau, her whole being excluding the message that she was doing him a favor by slowing down, replied, coolly, exasperated, "He's fine."
Zey felt his temper start to bubble over his Jedi control. "He is not fine. He's badly injured. He can't even stand up straight."
The clone next to Vau twitched, then stilled. Vau herself, had she been the sort to ever lower herself to do something so common, was all but rolling her eyes.
"We were having a philosophical discussion, as Mandalorians often do, and I asserted that the only demonstrable reality was individual consciousness, but he insisted on the existence of a priori moral values that transcended free will. So I hit him."
Zey resisted the urge to blink. Say what? He needed more caf if he was going to deal with Walon Vau in full aristocrat mode.
"You're so witty." Sometimes, a man just had to get snarky. Yoda, he was sure, would understand.
Vau suppressed a sniff. "No, I think you should stay out of Mando clan business. It's for your own good. Now, do you want a report or not?"
Zey gestured her to a side lobby, mulling. The abrupt change of subject wasn't like Vau. She was always took the opportunity to be as condescending to Skirata as humanly possible. But if Vau didn't want to talk about, he wasn't going to press her. Some headaches he just didn't need to know. Besides, the Chancellor was very upset about this, and the sooner is was over, the better.
"I see that arrests have been swift," he said.
The tension from Vau eased a little, only to intensify. The older woman was wound so tight Zey's teeth hurt, but her tone was full of disdain when she answered.
"Some stupid clerk, General. So Skirata is not your traitor, even though he is a light-fingered little scumbag who'd steal your teeth if you smiled at him. But I don't think you'll see a continuation of his dishonest habits, because he now understands the error of his ways."
Translation: Kal had been skimming off Republic funds and kits he'd somehow gotten access to, but he wasn't the person they were looking for. Vau had found out, and gave him a good beating to discourage any further attempts, which Zey was grateful for. Force knows, the man never listened to anything he said, and Vau's actions- and ability to follow Skirata across the galaxy if necessary- was far more an effective deterrent than anything Zey could have done.
Once again, he found himself blessing the Force for the unexpected streak of military discipline Vau had. The woman might be a Mandalorian, cold, and haughty, but her squads were not only some of the best, they were disciplined. Though he was surprised Vau didn't have any marks on her; Skirata had never struck him as the type who wouldn't hit a lady back. Still, he was thankful that Skirata hadn't gone quite that far. The last thing he needed was the two's respective commando squads drawn into a private feud.
"I'm relived," he confided in her, feeling the tension drain from his shoulders. "I didn't want to think I was that misguided about his motivations."
Vau did not appear appeased.
"We still have a job to do, General. The suspect- this tax clerk the RDS is holding. The Chancellor can set up as many internal enforcement agencies as he wishes, but I have no faith in anyone's interrogation ability but my own. I'd like to talk to her."
Looking into Vau's cold blue eyes, Zey had no doubt the woman was an efficient interrogator. The tension that wound her so tight was draining away from her, as did the anger and embarrassment he had sensed.
Zey's brain started to tick as he answered her.
"Good luck. I'm just the Director of Special Forces. My wishes count for nothing."
Zey reached out with the Force, feeling Vau's emotions. Something wasn't right here…
"Exactly. So RDS won't share information with us any more freely than Intel does, so I'm planning to stroll over there and extract her if need be."
Zey felt briefly sorry for the clerk, but shut away his automatic sympathy. Vau's doubtlessly effective interrogation techniques weren't something he'd wish on anybody, but the clerk had broken the law and had to have known the consequences.
And then, just like that, the light bulb clicked.
Vau was embarrassed. Not because of Skirata's nature, not when she'd always shone such disgust before for the man, but because of something else.
Zey spread his head in mock helplessness. "My authorization will get you no farther than the front doors."
Vau's tone was neutral as she answered. "No, I mean authorize me for retrieval."
Zey struggled not to show emotion, even as he rejoiced at Vau's good sense of the way things worked in the military, Force bless her.
"That's extreme," he commented…and felt the pieces come together.
Skirata and Vau were both older, neither anymore in their prime, but in good shape for their age. Skirata wasn't a good looking man, but he wasn't passionate. And, while Zey didn't have any personal experience, wasn't there a trend in older, single human beings to search out a partner?
Then, the picture came together. A metaphorical light bulb went off above Zey's head, had Star Wars had lightbulbs.
Vau and Skirata had lived together for years on Kamino, and both cared for the clones they had trained. Both continued to be involved in the GAR. Both were Mandalorian. And Vau and Skirata always reacted so…passionately to each other.
Maybe Vau hitting Skirata had nothing to do with creds. Or maybe it did. Had Kal's injuries been the product of a lover's quarrel? Or had Vau been angry at her lover's actions?
Zey didn't see how he had missed it. Kal Skirata and Walon Vau were lovers. Violent lovers, would be his guess. It was so obvious! It was so obvious in fact that Zey nearly missed Vau's reply.
"So are the rumors I hear about a big enemy assault coming soon. I'll grab every source I can get."
Zey clasped his hands in front of him, restraining his smirk, and glanced sideways at Vau. Well, this unknown fact about her certainly changed his perception of her! Still, he wouldn't embarrass her by bringing it up. It was obvious she and Kal didn't want anyone to know.
Vau, however, read his actions as something else.
"Trying to sense the dark side in me, General?" she asked, no edge whatsoever to her voice.
The woman was completely calm, for all that she thought her superior was displeased. Zey was upset that such actions had to be taken- inflicting pain on any life being was something he disapproved on principle- but the culprit had to be caught, and wars weren't won by sentiment. This one had gone long enough. So he told her the truth.
"You don't feel remotely dark. Quite serene, actually."
She was quite the opposite of Kal, who always seemed to be a storm of anger, affection, and passion. Then again, Zey had heard opposites attracted each other. Not that he'd ever read that in a magazine or anything. It had been an official and very professional document that he had…found. Then, Zey was struck with a sense of alarm, so intense he almost missed Vau's comment.
"I've been told that before, and that should set off your warning bells, jetti. Your senses need recalibrating. None of you can feel darkness right under your noses."
Surely he had hidden his…document. No, he was sure of it. It was under his pillow, not lying on his table. Shaking off his errant thoughts, Zey resisted the urge to say something about Kal to Vau. What had she said anyway? Oh yes. She wanted to break into, covertly of course, an RDS prison.
"Okay, agreed. Do it. If it goes wrong- you're on your own."
Vau stiffened, offended.
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
Resisting the urge to start interrogating her, Zey strode away. One thing was clear. He needed to talk to Kal Skirata. The man needed advice on how to deal with a woman like Walon Vau, and Zey had done copious research on the subject.
This was all for the war, of course. After all, if Walon killed Kal, the Nulls would kill her, and Zey would loose some very good intelligence agents.
So, I'm not quite sure about this. It started out as a humorous idea, but got kind of dark because, well, hello the Clone Wars, especially in Traviss' books, definitely isn't light. And then it got cracky again.
As for Kal and Walon…you have to admit, if you didn't get an inside view on how much Vau and Skirata hate each other's guts, you'd totally think there was a violent love story there to.
Why is Walon Vau female? Because I want her to be and think she'd be a rocking chick.
Anyways I don't usually do humor, so tell me what you think!