The technician dashed out of the control room, feet moving the second the light saber exploded. He had pinged General Hux the second Kylo Ren had stalked into the room with his shoulders hunched and stomp heavy, and sure enough the tantrum began like he thought it would.
He passed General Hux stalking into the room, glaring like he could channel the power of Starkiller base through his eyes.
The technician didn’t stop moving until he was halfway down the hall, and turned. There was no yelling yet, so it was a good day.
Until he had to fix that panel.
“You look out of breath,” one of his coworkers said, holding a toolkit next to her side. She looked down the hall, scrunching her nose. “What happened?”
“Oh.” Neither technician needed to explain. They all knew what “Lord Ren” meant in their line of work these days. “Did someone call the General to take care of it?”
“He’s already there,” the first technician said. He rubbed the side of his head and groaned. “That’s the third one he’s broken this week. It’s getting out of hand.”
There was a pause, and the second technician leaned in closer to the first, a smile on her mouth and a glint of something playful coming to life. The first technician leaned in to hear better, knowing there was something good coming.
“I’m starting to think he’s doing it for attention, and not just because of his awful temper,” the second technician said. She tapped the toolkit against her leg. “I mean, General Hux always comes running when he breaks something. I’m sure he’s noticed the pattern.”
“You’ve got a point,” the first technician said. “You think he likes that sort of thing?”
The door down the hallway opened and both technicians jumped to attention and turned to the panel on the wall, attempting to look busy. Lord Ren stalked by them, and there was no mistaking the calm gate and the almost light air that hovered around him. He looked like he was in a good mood.
After being reprimanded by General Hux.
As soon as the coast was clear, the first said to the second, “He’s totally doing it for attention.”
A snort answered in agreement, and they both headed back to the main room to assess the damage.
“Hey,” Thanisson said, grabbing Unamo’s sleeve. They stopped in the hallway and she turned to give him a glare. He ignored it and pointed, “Look! The General and Lord Ren are over there.”
Unamo looked to where her younger coworker pointed and raised an eyebrow. Lord Ren and General Hux stood side by side at the observatory windows, chatting over something quietly. They looked rather cozy next to each other, and it was hard to believe they’d snapping at each other on the bridge this morning.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Thanisson asked.
“It’s none of our business,” Unamo replied. She tugged on Thanisson’s arm and dragged him along. “Now let’s leave before they notice us.”
“Did you see the way they were looking at each other?” Thanisson said, smirking a bit. “There’s no way they would have noticed us.”
Unamo didn’t disagree, but Thanisson needed to learn when it was appropriate to comment on a superior officer’s date (Note: Not when they were standing within eye shot of you).
A technician paced back and forth while his coworker watched from a seat on the panel.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“He hasn’t broken anything in close to two weeks! Not a thing!”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“Not when it’s breaking the norm.” There was a pause. “It’s like a calm before a storm. He’s bottling all that rage up. That’s what’s happening and I’m afraid it all come out in one big tantrum that destroys the ship.”
“Or maybe he found another outlet.”
A snort. “Like what?”
“He’s been logging hours in the Officer’s gym.”
“I’m serious.” There was a small clatter as the technician looked through her tool kit for a disc. “The gossip around the officers is that their gym access has been cut short because Lord Ren keeps renting the room.”
“How about that.”
“But that’s not the best part.”
“General Hux has started using it more often, too.” There was a giggle. “I wanted to check for myself, so I looked at the logs.”
“General Hux almost always uses the gym during the times Lord Ren locks it for private sessions.”
“Oh, oh, that is good.”
Captain Phasma sighed as she looked over the reports on his desk. After that last attack by the Resistance had surprised the General and Lord Ren, the man had been most insistent on making time in his schedule to accompany the man on his missions with the regular foot soldiers.
She had thought they were already sleeping together with all the time they were “working out” together in the gym, but apparently General Hux was still courting if he was trailing after the Force User like a puppy looking for scraps.
Maybe if they started sleeping together, he’d stop this nonsense and she wouldn’t have to send extra troops to keep an eye on the man while they were attacking.
“I swear to you, the General flirts with Lord Ren,” a soldier said behind her. They were chatting quietly on the wall as she did work. She would scold them, but no one got better gossip than her troops. “I swear it with my life.”
“With Lord Ren. The guy with the mask,” the other trooper responded.
“That one,” the first said. “And it’s like he has no idea what to do with General Hux hitting on him. Do Force Users even have sex?”
“I don’t know, but the General must think he’s got a chance if he keeps flirting.”
“I thought they were already sleeping together,” a third voice said, picking up on the conversation. “Some technician said they’re always booking the officer's gym together, and it’s always for like an hour or more.”
“Then why would he keep flirting?”
“How should I know? Maybe it’s a weird thing they do.”
Captain Phasma stood up from her desk and all the troopers snapped back to attention. She looked over them all as she passed, and she could hear the chatter begin again as soon as she left.
She may have her hands full with an eager General, but at least the troops at something to keep themselves occupied with.
A technician grabbed her coworker and dragged him down the hallway. “You won’t believe what I just saw!”
“The General and Lord Ren went running out of the Officer’s gym together, right? And they looked tense and the General’s hair was messed up,” she said, half out of breath.
“It was suspicious, right? They’re never that obvious,” she giggled. “So I followed them and they both ducked into Lord Ren’s quarters!”
“I guess there’s no denying it now, huh?” The technician said, almost in awe. “I wonder if he’ll spend the night or sneak out?”
“Twenty credits he spends the night,” she said.
When they checked the door logs in the morning, the technician handed his coworker twenty credits, but he was too amused to care.
“It’s sort of romantic,” Thanisson said, filling out his paperwork. He whispered, glancing up at the General on the bridge every so often. Unamo sat next to him, attempting to ignore him, but he knew she was listening. She liked gossip as much as the rest of them. “Don’t you think?”
“Lord Ren went straight to the General’s quarters after he got back from that trip that ran long,” Thanisson said. He leaned closer. “You can already tell how much happier the General is this morning, too. He was awful all week, don’t you think?”
Unamo paused in her typing tilting her head ever so much. It had been true, the General had been out of sorts, snapping at Mitaka and Rodinon and everyone else when the Knight of Ren failed to report in after his mission ran over a week.
“I suppose it means Lord Ren missed the General as much as he missed him,” Unamo said, thoughtfully.
“I know. Like I said: romantic.”
A technician clicked a glass of cider with her coworker. “It’ll be like a vacation with Lord Ren down on Starkiller base.”
“You think this is like a honeymoon for them or something? Like, their own personal version of a getaway?”
“I don’t know, but I for one am looking forward to some other technicians having to have to deal with them.”
“Oh, just admit you’re going to miss checking logs to see how often they’re doing it.”
“No, that’s all you.”
Mandetat walked down the hallway with a technician in training. They needed to finish assigning quarters for the new officers that were moving down to Starkiller base in the next few weeks, which meant checking each open room and making sure all the systems were functional.
“Hey, you walked by this one,” the kid said, drawing Mandetat’s attention away from his work order.
“That’s Lord Ren’s room, kid,” Mandetat answered. “I checked it when he moved in at the same time as the General.”
“Isn’t this a bit small though? Wouldn’t he get a room with the other higher ups?”
“I got a tip off from the technicians on the Finalizer that Lord Ren spends more time in the General’s quarters than his own,” Mandetat said, yawning around his hand. “Rooms are limited, so we decided to give him a small one to avoid hearing a Lieutenant gripe his room is too small.”
“Didn’t Lord Ren complain when he saw it, though?”
Mandetat pulled out a stick and plugged it into the control panel next to the door. He pulled up a screen and turned it toward the younger man. “He’s never been in this room to complain about it.”
“So he’s been staying over with the General the entire time? He’s never even seen his room on Starkiller base?” the young technician asked, a blush covering his cheek. Mandetat nodded, licking the side of his cheek. The young technician hissed, “So that means they’re, you know?”
Mandetat had gotten a head’s up about that, too. Apparently it was one of those “Everyone knows, but don’t actually say anything about it or you’ll get killed with a lightsaber” sort of deals. Knights of Ren were shy about that sort of thing, apparently.
Or that was everyone’s prediction, because the General and Lord Ren were continuing to go to great lengths to keep up their bickering act in public. He’d never understand officer games when it came to that sort of thing. Mandetat stifled a yawn. But it was what it was, and if the General wanted to sleep with his rival, what business was it of his?
“But then why assign him a room at all? Just for the paperwork?” the younger man said.
“Because you never know when Lord Ren’ll get kicked to the doghouse and he’ll need somewhere to sulk,” Mandetat said, yanking his card out of the lock. “Come on, we’ve got ten more rooms to check.”
Rodinon paused on his way to his seat in the lunchroom, staring across the room Lord Ren’s helmet was on the table, and he was turned toward General Hux. His hood covered his face, but the man was eating lunch with the General with his face uncovered.
“Huh,” Rodinon said, catching the General smile.
He shook his head and kept walking. He’d heard the rumors that they were sleeping together, but he hadn’t realized they’d started being that blatant in public, yet.
The only reason Lord Ren would have his face visible to the General is if the man had seen it before.
He told the first person he sat next to at the lunch table and they frowned with a pout, slumping onto the desk.
“Nothing, I just had a bet going that they had sex with the mask on, and that sort of proves me wrong doesn’t it?”
Rodinon picked up a fork and asked, “Does it?”
“I can’t believe we got transferred to Starkiller base!” A technician said, looking around the hallways as they headed out of the shuttle bay hanger and toward their new quarters. They were one of the last groups to leave the Finalizer and it was too exciting. “How about you?”
“I’m just excited we can catch up on all the gossip,” she said. Apparently it really is like a honeymoon down here, because from what I’ve heard that General Hux and Lord Ren are even more blatant than they were before. It’s like they’re not even hiding it.”
“That’s really the first thing you want to talk about?”
“The only people left to gossip about on the Finalizer are Unamo and Mitaka, and we both know that’s not going anywhere,” she said back. “Do you actually want to talk about the difference in equipment on the Destroyer and down here on the base?”
“Of course you do,” she said.
“Hey, is that the General?” the technician said, pausing. The red headed man ran past them, his hair mussed and his greatcoat missing. His face looked flush with exertion, like he’d been sprinting the entire length of the corridor. “I think it was.”
“I wonder what happened,” his companion said.
A bad feeling twisted in both of their guts, and their thoughts turned to the worst as they wondered what could be awful enough to have General Hux running like a nexu was nipping at his heels.
Lord Ren had betrayed the Order.
Dopheld stared at the warning reports pouring in from the Starkiller base. General Hux had gone missing close to two weeks ago along with the Force User, and now only one of them was back with the Resistance at his beck and call.
They were making demands that the First Order should surrender. Their forces were under heavy fire, and Lord Ren himself was leading the attack to dismantle Starkiller base himself.
“We need to leave, Lieutenant!” Colonel Datoo shouted. “Stop staring at those reports and start doing your job! We can’t fight this many.”
“But what about the General?” Dopheld asked. “They haven’t. They haven’t mentioned him at all. Surely they must have him for ransom, right? Lord Ren must have taken him when he took off with his shuttle. It’s the only explanation.”
“The General’s gone,” Colonel Datoo said. “We should have realized it a week ago. This is our own fault for not realizing an attack was coming after those shields went down and we were abandoned by the General.”
“He did not abandon us,” Dopheld replied. “Lord Ren is the only one we have proof of betrayal.”
“He either abandoned us to run off with that traitor pet of his, or he’s dead,” Colonel Datoo said. He looked down his nose at Dopheld and asked softly, “Which one would you rather be the answer?”
“The General would have died before he betrayed the First Order.” Dopheld sucked in a breath and steadied himself. “Lord Ren must have killed him when he betrayed us all.”
“Exactly,” Colonel Datoo said. “Help Lieutenant Rodinon with the evacuations. We need to get out of here while we still can. Starkiller base is lost, and too many traitors have already fled to turn themselves in as it is.”
“Yes, sir,” Dopheld said.
He turned away, walking back into the chaos of everyone on the bridge and the technicians and troopers running in the hallways. It was a mass of white noise as far as Dopheld was concerned.
He caught one last sight of Starkiller base in a window before the Finalizer shot into hyperspace.
A year later, the General had returned. Lord Ren’s whereabouts were unknown, but all that mattered was their General had escaped.
A technician shared a lunch bar with her coworker as they sat in the hallway near an in-tact control panel. She hadn’t had much to talk about over the past year, with nothing but the Order scrambling to put itself back together.
She smiled for the first time in a year, leaning over near her partner. “Guess what I saw?”
“Lieutenant Mitaka sneaking out of his room,” she said. She broke her bar in half and grinned. “And he was seen headed toward the General’s quarters.”
The second technician relaxed his shoulders and nodded. “Good for them.”
“I know,” she said.
“I’m glad the General can move on after Lord Ren betrayed him. If it was bad for us, imagine how much worse it must have been for him,” the technician said. “I don’t know if I could have come back from that, myself.”
“Same,” she said.
“You think Lieutenant Mitaka will tell anyone?” the technician said. “We might actually get some details if it’s another officer.”
“You have met that man, right? We’ll be luck if he even admits it,” she said. “We’ll just have to use our imaginations.”
“Should be easier this time around at least.”
“We don’t have to try and figure out what Mitaka looks like without a mask.”
The other technician laughed, finishing her lunch with a giggle.
It was good to have things back to normal.