Spliced onto the end of the other recording the image would spit out the Watcher sitting again in a chair, again with a cigarette in his fingers. He looked strung out and pale, thin and old. His eyes turned to face the recorder like a man facing his execution. “We got the the Base on Dromund Kaas, the largest Marine training station. It was a city in itself always moving and incredibly grey.” His lungs sucked deep the grey smoke before expelling it out at the recorder in a cloud acidic particles.
"They herded us off with the standard amount of barking and yelling. Pushups were done and the roll call was done. We were stuffed with a lunch of stale rations and water. The next week was a processing obstacle course. Checking our ears, eyes and bodies for defects. I didn’t worry they would find me out. I was too good." He smirked flatly, finding no joy in his achievement. "First week into the Empire’s service and I already had conned them into believing me. Not a bad start."
His long finger engraved with an Aurebesh G tapped ash away without care of making a mess. “After the whole week of bantha shit we started. Running, lots of running, I learned to like it. It felt good to spit up what the cigarette smoke had cased my lungs with. It felt good to just move without a purpose. Just follow the man in front of you.” He looked off camera, “I should run again.” He took another drag.
"My body got bigger, they only fed us protein and carbohydrates. With the calisthenics and the courses we ran I was soon pushing about 230 pounds by the peak of it." He glanced down at his thin tattooed arms, he couldn’t be more than one hundred and sixty pounds now. He flicked away the cigarette and lit another to hold between his lips while he spoke. "We started to shoot a few weeks in, standard issue blasters and pistols. Grenades, everything was pretty basic. I excelled in shooting and combat skills, Orange Thunder they called me when we took one another on the mats." He laughed quietly, almost sadly, but he kept it in check with an inhale of fresh smoke.
"I gained marksman status, expert with rifles and pistols. I didn’t really care, I just liked to shoot." He blinked slowly while he rolled the filter of the cigarette between his forefinger and thumb. "I saw him for the first time on the range. He was bigger than me, taller. Everyone around the base knew him. He was the Captain of a Recon Platoon. He looked… Invincible." He looked at the cigarette for a moment then broke off the filter and shifted deeper into the chair.
"I was infatuated with him. Pure childish wonder and fascination, I wanted to touch him so bad it made my hands hurt." His fists balled up and only relaxed after he took a deep breath. "Time went on, I finished training and finished my Specialization Program and became a sniper. I was attached to a Special Forces Group, everyone thumped me on the back and some hated me. I didn’t care either way. I just wanted them to leave me alone." His lip twitched and he quickly brought the unfiltered smoke to his mouth, moving fast enough ash dropped like filthy snow on his lap.
"But then he came back. I felt the same thudding in my chest and the same ache in my head and tightness in my throat. Sam… He had a good name." His lips parted to show his teeth and he shook his head, "So I got my confidence up, went to the Mess early and sat in the spot next to where I knew he sat. Of course I had done my reconnaissance for a few days. We ate silently, kindred spirits without knowing it. The chronometer moved and it was time to go, and we stood and our hands touched…" He closed his eyes slowly, speaking quietly now "It felt likefireon my arm it made my chest heat up and my loins ache. Then he looked at me, he gave me a shy smile and I returned it." He laughed just as quiet as he spoke, a near giggle. "Two large men sharing that look… It must have been a sight. But no one saw it. We were glad for that."
His eyes opened again and he took another inhale to rest before speaking again. Voice growing raspier and drier with each drag of the rough tobacc. “We started to run together. He invited me to. Miles and miles in silence, it felt good. Then we started to talk while we ran, then we walked and ran. Then we just sat and spoke. Always about the present and the future, never what happened before the Corps. We were purely in our own, only looking ahead. I was eighteen. He was Twenty four.”
He swallowed hard, “Our Captain called us to meet and told us of our first assignment, we were to be the forward operating platoon aboard a destroyer en route to Balmoraa. That was the first time I felt nervous. He told us we were leaving in two days. I found Sam and he was happy, he smiled and rubbed my arm…” His own hand absently stroked over his shoulder and outer arm. “He told me to be safe and be strong. That I was the best he had eve seen. Then we kissed. It was soft and he tasted like smoke and kaf. I melted into him behind the barracks he used. The sounds of humming transporters and discharging blasters faded away until I felt his strong heart thump into mine like it wanted to replace it. When we broke he smiled again. He told me something…” The Watcher blinked rapidly, looking away, “… That is for me though.”
There was a brief stretch of silence as he finished of the smoke and tossed it away. His dry soft voice spoke again as he met the camera with his eyes. “We boarded the Cathar Cutter and moved into Hutt Space to rendezvous with a small group of Imperial Intelligence Officers. Life aboard the vessel was mundane. Nothing happened worth noting, not in the beginning. We got a short leave and most of the Spec Ops guys, myself included, decided to head to Nar Shadaa. We went to the cantinas and fucked pretty girls. The last night we had I found myself alone in a Spice Den, dirty and quiet I sat awkwardly on a couch. The most beautiful Rattataki I have ever seen… No wait… Second most beautiful… Came up to me and told me for a few credits she could make me relax. I thought she was a whore so I gave her the money..” He laughed again a rasping sound, “She pulled out this needled and set to work on me… I didn’t complain.”
He sat up in his chair only to sag forward and rest sharp elbows against his knobby knees. “Before I knew it I was seeing colors I didn’t know existed and everything felt like ice and magma and electricity rolled into a ball and rubbed across your skin. Like an orgasm that didn’t end. Or you didn’t think it would. I fucked the Rattataki and she gave me another hit after I paid her twice. One for her and one for the Spice. I woke up the next day, I had two hours to meet back up with the Squad before we left. I bought some Ryll and met back up.”
His fingers idly rubbed at his bruised and tattooed inner elbow. “We got back and headed for Balmoraa, I did most of the Ryll by myself which is how I usually was. But I got stupid left it out and not in my sniper barrel like I usually hid it. ONe of the Officers found it, there was barely any left. I got a reaming, a reprimand and a hefty fine. I shrugged and they sent me back to my quarters. Nothing else happened until we got to the Core.”
The Agent fidgeted again and reached up to thread his hands behind his head. “I had been studying Balmoraa, I liked it. Interesting. The Resistance there and what cities they used to have. Now a toxic planet of violence and strife. I still like it.” He said that with a smirk. “We were the first off, Akk Squad, we called ourselves. We did patrols and the like, standard. But it started to chance when we got a New Captain. Yalza was his name. I was a Sergeant at the time and he didn’t like our No Fucks Given attitude. Thought we were no better than regular Army. We promptly told him to piss off. We ran a lot that day.” He laughed with an edge of humor at that.
"Things got bad fast… We started killing civilians." He said bluntly. "Dug mass graves and just blasted them and kicked them in. The funny thing about close range shot with blasters is there is no blood. It just cauterizes their brains and everything. A neat hole, bout this big." He held up his hands in a circle, index fingers connected at the tip and thumbs as well. "Men, women, few children. Didn’t matter we mowed them down all the same. You got numb to it." He rolled his shoulders stiffly. "But I still tired of the killing. Yalza told us to raid a house, it was a small little shack, couple Dewbacks out front and a kid in the yard. I just spit n his face and he kicked the shit out of me. I could have taken him. I was bigger, stronger… But I didn’t want to get discharged. I took the beating. It wasn’t bad, he hit like a pussy." He smiled around another smoke while his lighter hissed out a blowtorch like flame sparked the end.
"I got my first tattoo on Balmorra too." He pointed to his left arm, the swirling marks starting from wrist and going up until it was hidden under his clothing. "Then I got the other…" He pointed to the right, jagged black marks like lightning or tears did the same as the juxtaposed limb. "I loved them. Thought they were beautiful. I made my body a canvas for some of the greatest artists in the galaxy. It was an honor." He took a drag and blew it out his nose, "I was still hitting the needle, I managed to find it wherever I went." He said in an off hand manner.
"I was Twenty two now. We were back in the fleet aboard another destroyer, playing a lot of Sabacc. Then this tiny little guy in a pressed uniform brought me into his office. His name was Minder 55. I knew what he was before he said it. Imperial Intelligence are easy to spot. Stick up their ass to their gills and an annoying way of talking like they know they are better than you. They aren’t," He scratched his chest idly and continued. "He told me he looked over my record and showed me things I didn’t even know. It scared me… But It made me so… Intrigued. I wanted that power, to know everything. He told me I could have a spot in the next class at the Imperial Intelligence Training Program. He told me to sleep on it. I didn’t. I left the next day for Kaas city."
His hands flexed, two on the left hand keeping together to hold the cigarette. “I had to get a psych. eval. it was stupid. I blazed through it, jumped all the hoops and ended it giving them the middle finger.” His lips tugged into a grin again, “I got into the program and got trained up. Despite what many thing… This…” HE gestured with both hands, “Romantic idea of the training. It was mostly class work, a little field training but nothing I hadn’t done as a Marine. I didn’t take any notes and at night I studied to get a degree in chemistry. It would be harder to get Spice as an Agent.” He clenched his jaw and shook his head but didn’t say anything.
"IITP gave you schooling too, like university just at an accelerated pace. I got my certificates and all that. Boring. Terribly boring." He shrugged and began to look impatient. "They made me a field Agent. I was back on Balmorraa. I did a few missions, did them damn well and I got noticed. My Watcher told me I was on route to becoming a Cipher. I didn’t give a fuck, I just wanted them to stop talking to me." His hands ran through his orange hair and fell to his lap, now without a cigarette they were free to interlace.
"Operation Akk Fang. I was paired with these two Mercs I.I had apprehended. They had these slave collars on, but on the back… There was this blue container, needles in their spinal column pumping them with drugs. They were like droids but capable of more independent thought without too much of it. I was given control and we were told to go assist on a raid on a Republic Compound. Strictly disguised as a small Rebel faction. It was an Op that had taken years to set up…" A thin hand came up and pressed to his chest. "And I fucked it up." He said angrily, a sudden outburst of emotion. He stood up and kicked the chair over. The holo was knocked to the ground and it faded out.
When resumed the image was now of the orange haired addict sitting against a wall. Bare feet planted on the ground and his forearms resting on his knee caps. One folded back to rub at his forehead and then through his hair. “Operation Akk Fang.” He repeated again, slowly, deliberately. “I was posted on over-watch with the two drones. They were manning optics, scanning and reporting for me. A target pinged and they notified me.” He pulled his lips into his mouth and chewed them as he thought how to proceed.
"It was a small group of speeders. Three, unscheduled and they were coming near our S.O.G group. I leveled up, knocked the first one off his speeder easy. Hit the second, but the third." He closed his eyes tight and groaned softly. "I hit his fucking strut. I popped it and the other dug into the ground and he flipped and screamed. His speeder exploded when it hit a rock formation. The rest of the troops came pouring out just soon enough to see the S.O.G" He balled up a fist and pressed it to the bridge of his nose. "Shit hit the fan and it hit fast."
"I started to just let loose. I dropped dozens and dozens until my barrel started to go red. The two Mercs were getting their fill too. But.. It wasn’t enough." He shifted higher up on the wall while he spoke. "They obliterated the S.O.G Luckilly they were sterile and didn’t I.D them as Imperial. Thank the Stars for that at least. But they found our position and rushed us. I did what I can until they closed off. I threw the detonators I had to pin them down and popped the detonite nearby." Again his eyes dropped closed.
"It was hot as a star that day, and I remember the sky being blue… Then I just had this… Idea… Sudden brilliance." His eyes opened to show the gold rimmed portals of black. "I keyed up my map and told the two where to go. They ran without hesitation, bolts ripping by. I steadied myself and blind fired over my cover, rapid to pin them down. Then I ran. I just… Ran.." The Watcher looked off camera, "I ran for a few klicks then started to get tired so I tossed my rifle. I ran further and then cut off my vest and dropped my armor. I ran and ran until I made it to the field station."
He rose up, the camera following his moves, he began to pace in a small space. “I told them what had happened. The missed shot and the over running. I told them that I had to detonate the collars on the Mercs. It was protocol to destroy evidence. The Watchers and Minders and other Field Agents didn’t look at me for a while. I had gotten fifteen good Operatives killed.” He shrugged and took his chin in two fingers while he paced. “They gave me a medal. Bullshit about valor in the middle of confrontation and the death toll I had mounted on the Republic. It made me want to vomit when it touched my chest.” He clamped his jaw hard and shook his head.
"I met up with the two a few weeks later. They were nearly dead, drank all their water and ate their food. I planned for this and nursed them to health. Then I took off their collars and sent them to a connection I knew on Nar Shadaa, he owned a Spice Den and would take care of them. Get them hooked on real drugs and learn to be real again. They respected me after that, the two. We worked together for a while to earn extra credits. My own personal Merc Company. The Hangmen. Black lists and no names. It was perfect."
His long bare fingers slipped into his pockets as he squared up to the recorder again. Still standing, “Then when they offered me a Watcher position I pounced. They wanted me out of the field. Failure was not for Ciphers and that’s what I am. The man who killed Akk Fang and the Drone Project.” He shrugged apathetically, slim shoulders hunching upward.
"The Mercs either died or slipped off to do their own work. It doesn’t matter, I know they won’t betray me. I am the reason they live. I am… Was… Their protector." He looked away, giving the camera his profile. Long nose proponent against his small chin. "Here I am now. A Watcher. A failure. An addict and a murderer." His head slowly rotated to the recorder.
"And I fucking hate all of those things."
The image faded away with the tall and emaciated Watcher standing with hands hidden and back straight. A burning look of hate and sorrow plastered on his soft featured visage.