Anfrali stepped out of the room, maintaining his posture despite terror and fatigue brought upon him by this latest development. Mind control? Really? There was a reason he worked for the Empire, and it was to stay away from this high minded crap. While the Sith and the general Empire were more or less separate entities, each acting independently and often despite the other, the Jedi and Republic were much more closely intertwined. He was now bound to the Republic's will, which meant he was also controlled by the Jedi.
The Jedi were beacons of hope and justice of the world. Wonderful bastions of light that stole and trained child soldiers. Pillars of honesty and equality who had killed his parents and taken his sister from him because she was a force-sensitive human-colored zabrak while he and his family were a shade too red for their taste. How gentle and good they were, the fucking hypocrites.
Don't get him wrong, the Sith were far worse, but at least they didn't pretend they were good. At least they weren't oblivious enough to get off on being the saviors of the galaxy after striking a treaty with murderers and slavers. The Sith knew they were evil, reveled in it even, but what's worse, gaining followers through fear or blind idolization? Either way you were sent off to war behind them, so might as well support a government not as caught up in its force group's morals.
Like peace, for example. Peace, they cry, cutting his family in half when they try to protect his sister.
And, not unexpectedly, mind control. How wonderful.
Anfrali closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, then looked out on the team. Did they know? he wondered, scanning their faces. Saber was staring at him rather defensively while Wheel didn't seem to be paying attention, just carrying on work in the background. Chance was looking pointedly away, unable to meet his eyes, and Hunter... Well then. The bastard was smirking at him, a glint in his eye, because hijacking someone's body was something to smile about, apparently.
He clenched his jaw and strode to the bathroom, wanting to run but knowing it would only make him look weak. He wasn't weak. Anfrali turned on the faucet of the sink and watched the water pour out, taking calm from its unceasing motion. He splashed some on his face and turned it off, turning to lean against the sink and put his head in his hand.
"Don't tell me we hurt your feelings," Hunter's voice drawled from the doorway, and as much as Anfrali never wanted to see the man's face again, his need to keep an eye on all threats was higher.
"What do you want?" Anfrali replied, hoping his exhaustion wasn't audible.
"Oh, nothing much," the SIS agent replied, stepping forwards and letting the door swing shut behind him. "Just a kiss."
Anfrali fell into a defensive stance by impulse, but knew he could do nothing. As much as he wanted to shoot the man until he was one giant hole he needed to concentrate on the mission. Not to mention the fact that Kothe had forbidden it. "Stop fooling around."
Hunter pouted, not ceasing his advance. "Don't be like that, babe, you know I hate it when we fight." He halted uncomfortably close to Anfrali and leaned against the wall.
"You touch me, you die," the cipher replied.
"Just making a point, Legate. To say I have doubts about you being genuine would be far beyond an understatement, so keyword: onomatophobia." Hunter's grin only grew as Anfrali's body unwillingly relaxed. "You will never give out information to be used against me."
"Your boss already took precautions," the cipher replied, the hate he felt not showing in his lax face. "Do you really think you're special enough to need more?"
Hunter shook his head, a short chuckle escaping. "You just get better and better." He turned to leave, but then paused and turned back to face Anfrali. "Oh, and one more thing. What I said earlier? I wasn't joking. Kiss me."
Anfrali's body leaned forward and touched its lips to Hunter's. The cipher tried to tear himself away, claw off his face, something, but to no avail. Whoever came up with the idea of mind control had it all wrong. Maybe that's what the Jedi did, planted thoughts so that the subject treated them as if they were their own, but this was more like body control. He was all too aware of the pressure on his lips, the hand on the back of his neck, and how he very much wished he could tear Hunter in half.
"See, that wasn't so bad," Hunter said once it was over, keeping Anfrali's face close to his. "But since you didn't cooperate earlier, you need a punishment. Of course, you didn't know, so let's just go with..." and with that the SIS agent licked a stripe up either side of Anfrali's face. "You don't exactly taste the best," the man stated, pulling a face at the expressionless cipher and scraping his tongue on his teeth. "No use standing around in here any longer. We both have work to do, so hop to it, Legate."
Once the door had closed and he regained control of his body Anfrali shoved his head under the faucet again, this time to cleanse instead of refresh. His fingers scrabbled at the handle of the sink and his breathing was erratic until the water touched his face. The problem wasn't kissing someone when he didn't want to, seduction was one of his tools, if an often neglected one. No, it was the loss of control. When Intelligence had trained him to withstand torture they said that regardless of what happened to him, his body and mind would remain his. That didn't exactly apply anymore. His mind remained in his possession, but what was the use if he couldn't do anything with it? When every action was controlled by someone else, could he even gain solace by knowing that his mind was intact?
Either way, Cipher Nine was getting away from this place right now. No more posing, no more confrontations with Saber, Wheel, or Chance. No more.
He took a direct route from the bathroom to the exit, only pausing to tell Vector they were leaving. Hopefully Hunter wouldn't take too much delight in Anfrali's bloodless face or tense shoulders.
"Agent, we have sensed a change in your aura. Is all well?"
For a moment Cipher Nine wanted to tell him everything, but of course his body would not allow that. "Everything's fine with me, are you well?" he replied, his voice uncharacteristically monotone.
Vector walked silently half a step behind him until they got into his ship, then stated, "Your voice does not mesh with the song. Your words are not your own, but we will not pry. Alert us if you wish to talk further." Then the man fled to the cargo hold, sending a last, inquisitive glance back at Anfrali.
The cipher stepped in front of the holoprojector and the new Keeper flickered into existence. "Beginning encrypted message. We have one minute until Republic intercept. Report, Cipher Nine. Did you make contact with the SIS?"
"Yes, but there is a... complication," the agent replied, distinctly not talking about the mind control. "I can't explain."
"You'll have to work around it," Keeper replied, and Anfrali caught a hint of fatigue in the hurried woman's tone. "Do not break cover until you know Arden Kothe's plan, am I understood?"
"Acknowledged and understood," Anfrali answered, his gut sinking as the projector powered down and Keeper vanished. "Do not break cover," he echoed to himself. That might be harder than expected.