“I just don’t understand Sir”, Doren sputtered in earnest, “Have I done something wrong? I’ve received no report from the admiralty. I know I’m not popular but this hardly-”. “Captain, please, let me finish”, the holographic facsimile of Argus Kraiov spoke in a soft tone, “This should not be viewed as a punishment. As I was saying, you are being transferred to Pho Ph’aeh, effective immediately, where you will be installed as planetary governor”. “But Sir”, Vassyl implored further, “What about Moff Tamrin? Last I read he was the picture of health”.
“That was last quarter”, Argus grimaced, “During a recent protest, his troops fired on the locals, and thus I’m sorry to report that he and most of his guard unit have been… dismembered”. “Empress preserve us”, the Captain whispered in obvious disbelief, “But then, why send me, of all people?”. “The council, for the most part, was pleased with your work on Eshan”, the Lord Regent explained with a flair of the wrist, “Moff Retwin in particular spoke highly of your efforts”. Doren frowned. This was just the tip of the political iceberg, and he knew it.
“You haven’t answered my question, You Excellency”, Vassyl countered in a matter-of-fact tone, “Not really. Why did you select me for this task”. Argus offered the faintest hint of a sad, knowing smile, “Because the Empire is plagued with uncertainty, and I need someone I can trust in that region”. “Because of our neighbors in the Reach?”, Doren prodded quietly. “In part”, the Lord Regent nodded, “And because I grow more and more concerned with the Corporate Sector: Moff Durron’s hold over the core systems weakens day by day”.
“So yourself and the council want a buffer, just in case”, Vassyl grinned weakly with understanding, “You are too cruel Sir- I’m hardly in a place to say no”. “That is your right”, Argus commented as the two met each other’s gaze. “But you know I will not”, Doren announced in a louder voice. “Yes”, the Lord Regent answered, as a silence fell between the pair. Finally, a compact astromech unit waddled forth to break up the din, its front chassis opening up to extend a metal tray in which the Captain’s new rank placard flashed up at him.
“I’m certain you have your work ahead of you”, Argus declared more than commented, drawing his gloved hand up into a firm salute, “By the powers vested in me by the Empress, I hereby elevate you to the rank of Moff. Do us proud, Governor Vassyl”. Doren was quick to offer a salute in turn, but it took him some moments to express his gratitude. The words simply got stuck in his throat.
“We will be reverting to realspace over Pho Ph’aeh in half an hour Sir'', Lieutenant Torbough whispered off to the side of his superior in a somber tone, “Will you summon the others and share the news?”. “No, not yet”, Doren answered back, his eyes fixed on the azure ribbons of hyperspace barreling out before them, “I’ll make the formal announcement once we’ve achieved a proper orbit”. “Some of them may be angry with you Sir”, the Lieutenant suggested without much subtlety, “I should count myself lucky to be in the loop ahead of time”.
“Come now Vincent, they’ll be cross with me either way”, Vassyl groaned back, running a hand over his face, “It's hardly any easier on me”. “Some of them will demand to go with you”, Torbough speculated openly. “Doctor Anla will be joining me, at the least”, Doren elaborated, “The rest, I hope, will continue to man their stations: the fleet needs them”. “As the fleet needs you, Sir”, Vincent cross-examined under his breath. “There are plenty of people capable of taking my place”, Vassyl continued with a slight chuckle, “Smarter- more cunning, older, and wiser”.
“You have some idea who they will select then?”, the Lieutenant questioned further. The Governor paused and gave his contemporary a perplexed look, “Of course- I was given my choice of successors”. “Who will I have the pleasure of bantering with?”, Vincent continued to prod with a smirk. “Well I really don’t know”, Doren mused dryly, “That’s entirely up to you, Captain Torbough”. The width of Doren’s grin grew in proportion to the degree at which his comrade’s jaw fell toward the floor.
After some time, Vincent worked his lips as if to speak, but Vassyl lifted a hand to stall his endeavor, and explained, “There is no one in the host of the Empire I trust more with the Third, and no one whom I find more worthy of the position. For what little of our journey remains, let us travel as we are, and save the decorum for when we next meet”. Both men beamed with sentiment, as Doren turned partially to conclude, “And now Mister Torbough, one last time, let us prepare to disembark”.