Chapter 5: Zozridor Slayke

Aboard the Scarlet Thranta, in orbit of Coruscant

"Permission to come aboard, Captain," a pale human female with blue hair asked in a crisp formal Coruscanti accent. She stood at attention in the airlock, with her entirely non-human Judicial team behind her.

"Granted, but just call me Slayke." The atmosphere aboard the Scarlet Thranta was relaxed, and Captain Zozridor Slayke liked to keep it that way. The red-haired human had away from sunlight in space to still maintain a pasty freckled appearance well into his late 30s.

"Noted," the human sighed. "I am Agent Rheas Sekal," she said, introducing herself. She gestured to a brown furred Shistavanen male lumbering behind her, "this is Bakosh Ferenk," then to a yellow scaled Trandoshan female and a green scaled Trandoshan male "Veronis Ssip and Zosstor Sheth."

Slayke blinked, trying to keep track of the names of the non-humans. Ferenk is the canine, the lizards are Ssip and Sheth.

Sekal continued, pointing to a green-skinned Nikto male. "This is Lakatos Zsil, and finally," she added, pointing to a Caamasi female "this is Hepsiba Gine'vra."

"So…" Slayke muttered, walking into the airlock and getting a closer look. "Sekal, Ferenk, Ssip, Sheth, Zsil, and Gine'vra… That's Extraction Team Echo then."

"You got it sir," Sekal said in an annoyingly formal tone, standing at ease with her hands behind her back. "Now, if we're done with the formalities, can we please leave orbit? Sluis Van is quite a distance on a Corellian Corvette."

"Indeed," Slayke agreed. "We should be there in less than a day. I will show you your quarters."

o.o.o.o.o

Zozridor Slayke never liked Judicial Special Enforcement Officers, Extraction teams especially. The Extraction teams, he felt, always attracted the most unprincipled individuals— the ones who would follow orders without question, the ones who liked loud explosions, the adrenaline junkies. The worst of the worst from the peacekeeping corps.

Still though, there is sometimes need for them, Slayke thought grimly.

With the Scarlet Thranta in hyperspace, the nosy Captain sat in the corvette's makeshift signals room, alongside his navigation officer, a dark-skinned bearded human named Geb Antilles, and Extraction Team Echo.

The voice of Whorm Loathsom spoke from the comm. "I told you, you will get paid for abducted or killed Judicials. All you did was blow up your tapcafé."

Plastered on the main viewer were the faces the Kerkoidian Separatist Whorm Loathsom and the Sluissi shopkeeper Nandib Mekhol. Below their pictures showed various biographical tidbits, and next to the Sluissi was a warrant for an Extraordinary Extraction, signed by Mace Windu.

"This is ridiculous!" Shrieked the Sluissi voice of Nandib Mekhol, now the most wanted Sluissi in the Galaxy. "I risked everything! With that explosive residue, I am not even going to get insurance money! If I get caught, I am going to tell the Republic everything. I am sure they will want to hear about how the Retail Caucus paid me to—"

"—We did no such thing," Loathsom interrupted in his Expansion Region drawl. "The Republic has no paper trail connecting me to you. Now, had your efforts been more successful, I might have cause to tie loose ends. As it is, you have nothing. Might I suggest Tatooine as a good place to escape to? If desert isn't to your liking, perhaps Dagobah."

Slayke roared with laughter, slapping his knees at the irony. He and a team of Judicial Extractors were sitting aboard a Republic vessel, listening in on every word of their conversation. Should this ever go to trial…

Nandib yelled angry Sluissi curses into the line, sputtering furiously until the Kerkoidian hung up on her.

"Wow," Sheth hissed. "I have never lissstened in on a HoloCall so stupid. I wonder what other crimes this Loathsom will admit to."

"Our mission isn't Loathsom," Sekal grunted, parting her hair. "We go in, get Nandib, then get out. Leave it up to the ROCI to determine whether or not to go after Whorm Loathsom."

"Hooah to that," Ferenk snarled, slapping a blaster cartridge into the bottom of his carbine. He continued popping the cartridge back out, slapping it back in, playing with his blaster. "Kriff Sluis Van. The humidity is gonna kill me as it is," he panted dramatically, hanging his long tongue from his snout.

"Are you people joking?!" Slayke yelled in outrage, standing to his feet. "We all heard Whorm Loathsom admit to paying someone to attack the Republic! That Separatists admitted to funding an attack on a Jedi and three Judicials! Have none of you heard of Exigent Circumstances?"

"I agree with the Captain," Geb Antilles said gravely. "We can't let attempts on Republic personnel go unpunished."

"What are they even doing here?" Ssep hissed, narrowing her reptilian eyes at Geb and Slayke.

At that, Sekal snapped. "He's the Captain of this ship and you will show him some respect!"

"Sorry ma'am," Ssep murmured quietly, then turned to Slayke, "sorry sir."

"Now, sir," Sekal told Slayke, shaking her head. "Listening to someone admit to a crime isn't an exigent circumstance. I'd have to witness one to be obligated to do anything about it."

"There's only so much we can do," Gine'vra added with a shrug, her round Caamasi eyes wide and innocent looking.

To be obligated to, Slayke thought bitterly with an anguished frown. He imagined how many dozens of innocents would have died over his career if he had performed his duty to the barest minimum.

"We have nine hours to Sluis Van," Sekal yawned. "That means enough time to get… Well, more shuteye than I've had in weeks. The search might take days. I want all of you to have clear eyes when we drop in and say hello. Got it?"

"Yes ma'am," Team Echo chanted.

Ferenk was still playing with his carbine like it was a toy.

Slayke gave Ferenk a stern look. If I had a say, you wouldn't be allowed near a blaster. Sighing despondently, he told Geb "let's go," and stepped into the hall, leaving Team Echo the signal's room to themselves.