McFini listened to what Jacen said wordlessly, processing everything like so many times before. He wasn't sure how much to believe Jacen but given the lengths he was going through to inform him of all this, McFini assumed it was all true. What did the Supreme Commander possibly have to gain from lying right now, to the Grand Admiral who, regardless of whether or not his resignation was approved or not, would leave the Federation unless he got some satisfactory answers and plans with how to prevent the galaxy from turning entirely against the NIF he had spent the past four years fighting for.
McFini nodded to the woman who promptly poured him a glass of wine before handing it to him. He smiled appreciatively at her as he accepted it. "Thank-you."
She smiled politely back before turning to Jacen and asking if he wanted any. Sipping the wine, McFini realized this was probably the earliest he was drinking, given how, for him, he should still be asleep right now, or just on the verge of getting up, he was losing track of time and couldn't bother to check the chrono on his wrist. It was a good wine, probably very expensive, but even it did little to remove the sour taste left in his mouth from all the revelations that happened today.
"So the Commissariat has eyes and ears all over the Federation?"
McFini snorted in disgust, the idea that an ISIS-esque group was running around abducting people suspected of being a threat. "Or is the agency cooperating with the Commissariat?"
The thought that Crystala had a hand in this wouldn't really surprise McFini though he liked to believe the ISIS was somewhat noble, enough to think that the NIF didn't need
some other group. "I would have thought it fell under IntOrg's purview to deal with Eri..."
He lowered the wine glass and stared into it sadly before looking back at Jacen with a confidant expression. "But I still refuse to believe she would ever do anything to actively harm the Federation. She's given too much to be suspect of anything more than a loyal servant of the Federation."
The thought that the ISIS was seeing her as a suspect didn't sit well with McFini and the hint that she was trying to assassinate the Emperor, while extreme, didn't surprise him either.
He laughed briefly as a sad thought came to his mind, an old memory. "Though, as I recall, you probably didn't help her very much in the aftermath of Tsoss Beacon. From where I'm sitting, it seems there are three distinct groups running around in the Federation."
He held up a finger in his free hand. "There's the Commissariat. A completely unknown entity that seems to be moving around with near total impunity, based on a battle station, that looks an awful lot like a third Death Star, that pretty much no one knows about and is being kept that way as the station gets relocated."
A second finger unfurled to join the first. "There's the Dark Jedi: you, Thrakis, the late Mai, Kane, Crystala, Kyp, Thessalia and Force knows who else, who also run around the Federation with near total impunity, able to butcher anyone they see fit if they don't do as you demand. Ironically, it would also seem that there's some tension within your own ranks or is it just Thrakis who's out there?"
McFini asked, not really expecting an answer. He had seen the dossier in the aftermath of Sarapin revealing that the lone Dark Jedi had been declared a traitor and was to be captured (by any other Dark Jedi as they were really the only ones capable of pulling off such a feat) or killed and brought back to Kane. Thankfully McFini had more important things to worry about than trying to hunt down a lone Dark Jedi who probably possessed power enough alone to send the Intimidator
back to the repair yards (again) with but the snap of his fingers. "It would seem to me that the Commissariat would have been better served working as the old Inquisition, hunting down rogue Force users, but I digress..."
Lifting a third and final finger, he finished his list with no small amount of disappointment in his tone as he said, "Then there's the rest of us, people like myself, Xanis, Ibrahim, Eri, Kyle, Devan, you know, non-Force Users who, despite vastly outnumbering either of the two aforementioned groups combined, are constantly finding ourselves as victims to them. We're subject to all the laws and can now be whisked away for re-education on a whim. Thinking of it in that sense, I can understand Eri's feelings, especially now. As far as I can tell, the problems we're facing can be tracked back to one key problem, the fact that one person in the Federation wields all the power, power enough to control the two most influential groups that are keeping the rest of us in line, as I'm sure someone might put it in so many words."
He shook his head and sipped more of the wine. Times like this made him realize that the New Republic did have at least one thing going right for them, decentralized power so that, with the exception of the Divergent
, things like Death Stars couldn't be built without more people knowing about it.
"Then there's another concern,"
McFini began as another realization struck him. "How many other projects are being worked on that we don't know about? When they were building the first Death Star, the Maw Installation was hard at work with the Sun Crusher and it was only because Tarkin died that the knowledge of that station disappeared with him. How do we know this Death Star is the only thing out there? If it isn't and we destroy it, how many other superweapons does this Commissariat possess? Who keeps them in check? Who keeps the Dark Jedi in check for that matter?"
McFini gaze narrowed as he asked the more pertinent question. "Who keeps the Emperor in check? It's obviously not the senate because they're not even aware of what's going on, save one."
Admiral Natasi Daala arrived on the Intimidator
as soon as the order was issued, the sudden resignation by the Grand Admiral appearing out of no where as the man lost his wit and was no longer able to deal with the increasingly complex situation. It didn't surprise the woman as she strode into the bridge, her long copper hair tied in a single braid tailing behind her with each step. Grand Admiral McFini always struck her as someone who belonged more in the more sensitive New Republic, commanding one of those Mon Cal cruisers with his unorthodox ways.
a red skinned woman with short white hair saluted her crisply. "We are awaiting your orders to jump."
Daala nodded, already briefed on the situation and status of Third Fleet and her orders. "Initiate the jump Commander. Once we arrive, contact Vice-Admiral Sorannan and Commander Riinuuk and make sure they've been fully informed in the change of command."
Aurora nodded, hesitating for just a moment as she stood in awe of Daala's imposing presence. She must have paused for too long as the Admiral looked over, her green eyes looking at the XO with impatience. Turning away, Aurora walked briskly to the communication terminal after giving a swift nod to the helmsman to execute the jump to lightspeed.
"I don't believe he would just up and resign like that..." Ensign Hales muttered when Aurora had got within earshot. He had survived the betrayal of the ex-Captain -deCoverly and now had outlasted the Grand Admiral, an impossibility for someone who has been stuck as an ensign this entire time. "What's all this about?"
Aurora, having had the benefit of seeing the brief, glanced over her shoulder at Daala who was busy analyzing the last readouts of the fleet deployment and checking on the status of Task Force Justice. Looking back at Hales, she said softly, "I'm not at liberty to tell you, but suffice to say, it's bad."
That was all Hales needed to hear even if he could have pieced that together himself. It had to have been pretty damn bad to make the Grand Admiral walk out like that. What perhaps surprised him more was that McFini didn't instead just reject his orders and leave Third Fleet behind. He had firmly established the loyalty of everyone in the fleet and after seeing how bad Sarapin was, no one would question the Grand Admiral's orders if he decided to not go through with the jump. Now this new Admiral was in charge and Hales already got the distinct impression that this was going to be another Sarapin...
Aurora must have sensed his unease and put a hand gently on his shoulder. "Relax Ensign, where we're going, it won't be another bloodbath."
Her words helped reassure the communication officer though Aurora couldn't help but feel, with Daala now in charge, that she might decide to take matters into her own hands, like she had a nasty habit of doing, and attack the Death Star, McFini having expressed his doubts about any success of capturing the thing.