The tiling on the walls of the holding room, drab and gray as it was, sported invisible holes as his eyes drilled into them, trying to recount the last day's events.
His mind could not reconcile the reality of the present situation with what seemed a lifetime and career away now; only twenty hours ago, he'd been in position with his ground assault force on Endor, preparing to secure the shielding station which would enable the new Death Star. As it stood now, he was likely the prisoner of rebel insurgents and this did not sit well in his mind, or in his heart.
His cuffed wrists went up slowly to the metaphorical hole over his heart where the rank bar, which had been ripped away, left an odd and unfamiliar indention in his armor. He absent-mindedly fingered it, wondering if the rest of the men under his command had suffered a similar fate, where they were, and just what he was going to do about this situation.
He could recall some hazy, fragmented details: an oncoming, suicide-mission landspeeder which had swerved abruptly and slammed broadside into his AT-AT; the computer display flashing core overload warnings as he prepared to eject from the cockpit, and then the bright, brilliant roar of heat and light swirling under him as he was propelled upward toward the sky...
Was this the control station on Endor? It didn't seem like it, somehow. He glanced around the room, mentally noting old boxes and cartons stacked and collecting dust in the corner; the duraplast walls and cheap lighting fixtures; the dilapidated chair he was now seated on, and the cot he'd woken up in. The cuffs on his wrists weren't too tight, but the longer he wore them, the more the fire of indignation smoldered within him. This was simply unacceptable; he was an Imperial officer, not a common criminal.
He glanced up at the door as the locking mechanism engaged. It opened. He resumed drilling mental holes in the walls and didn't bother to look up to acknowledge his visitor; he saw no reason to do so.
"General Maximillian Veers?" the newcomer asked, more to convince herself than to address him.
He did not look up.
"I'm Counselor Leia Organa," she said, her voice grave and direct now. "Do you know where you are?"
General Veers tuned the intruder out of his consciousness. There would be no concessions.
Leia Organa quietly let her breath out as the door slid back into place, sealing off behind her; she took a few more steps into the room. There she paused to study the impassive face before her.
So, this was the infamous General Veers, she thought. His pale blue eyes were focused and hardened, staring past her as though she were not even present. His face, like a fine-chiseled bust, was unreadable. And except for the gash over his left eyebrow and an assortment of bruises, presumably from a rough and precipitous ejection from the walker cockpit, he seemed to be in relatively good condition.
An image of the ruined base on Hoth flashed in her mind; she'd heard it on good authority that it was General Veers who had strategically orchestrated the raid which broke that base down in short order. Not only did Veers have a penchant for decisive action, but apparently a will to survive that rivaled her own: he'd survived that battle to test the Alliance yet again. Leia's eyes flickered as she felt an unpleasant rush of coldness spreading within her...a response in recognition of this man.
She seated herself at the little table across from him, setting the datapad down in front of her.
His silent stillness was unsettling.
"General Maximillian Veers, I am here to advise you of your status as a prisoner of war and your forthcoming processing by Alliance authorities," she stated matter-of-factly.
Veers' stony gaze was fixed on the wall, as unyielding as a statue.
She continued: "You've been transported from Endor to an Alliance holding station, where warrants against you are being presently drawn. From here you'll be transported to Coruscant for a military war crimes tribunal."
There is no Alliance, only rebels, his mind recoiled in silent, acid response.
She stopped for a moment, waiting for a reaction. There wasn't any.
It was not lost on Leia that while the Battle of Endor significantly changed the situation for the Alliance now, there was still much work to do. The Imperial Fleet was not summarily disabled, and she knew very well there would be significant resistance coming. The future was not as secure as she would have hoped. She, Mon Mothma and the rest of the Alliance were still in uncertain waters and any type of help, whether be it in the form of assistance or merely agreement to refrain from confrontation, would ease the way for change. Therefore, if it were at all possible to gain even a modicum of support from someone like Veers, that would surely go a long way toward bringing a protracted struggle to a swift close. If he could be persuaded to give the appearance of even a tacit endorsement of the Alliance and the new provisional government, then perhaps the remaining Imperial forces would follow his lead. It was a long shot, but it would be worthwhile to at least try.
Leia shifted in her seat and looked directly into his eyes. In her most seasoned and eloquent diplomatic voice, she assured him, "General, I promise you that you will get a fair trial. The tribunal members adhere to the strictest standards of justice--"
He abruptly looked up.
"What would you know of justice?" his voice accusatory and cutting, the muscles in his jaw clenching. "You, who strained at every opportunity to vilify a legitimate government and defy its authority? You know nothing of the concept."
Leia stiffened slightly, half expecting such a response, but finding the force of his words stinging, nonetheless.
He resumed glaring at the wall behind her.
Veers knew their situation, too, and his resolve was as immovable as a mountain.
"General, surely you see at this point the tide has turned, in the favor of the Alliance now. Think of the lives at stake here, how many could be spared from future conflicts. More bloodshed is not our objective and so unnecessary," she added, in a lofty and regal air.
Veers looked over at her now. His eyes, like laser cannons, took deadly aim right between hers. After a moment he remarked contemptuously, "You may do as you wish. For now." He returned his gaze toward the wall, his face again impassive and impenetrable.
Leia sighed. This wasn't the response she'd hoped to elicit. She leaned forward, and in a more conversational, personal tone, approached him cautiously.
"General...all I am asking for is a little cooperation here. I understand your loyalty hasn't changed and I accept that. I may not agree with your position, but I do respect it. And, as I'll be testifying at the Tribunal's proceedings, can I...can I count on you then?"
Leia glanced down at the rank bar she'd been holding which had been removed from the General when he was captured, and then back up at him, waiting, hoping...
Veers brought his cold gaze back toward her, and slowly raised his cuffed hands, bringing them up and over the table, reaching across toward her. She noticed he was now looking intently at the Imperial symbol as she pressed it between her hands.
"General? Can we count on you?"
Veers regarded her with icy coolness. Even cuffed this way he had an aura of authority that obviously did not diminish even in his present predicament. It was perfectly clear that no one would rob this man of his dignity or self-respect. Ever.
He slowly reached out with his fingers and carefully grasped the rank bar from her hands, and drew it back toward himself. He stopped half way across table, covering it with his own hands.
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly.
Leia waited, uncertain as to what this gesture meant, looking expectantly at Veers.
The muscles in his jaw clenched and rippled, briefly, and he spoke again:
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