Ponree pondered a moment whether or not to answer. It was undoubtedly more bad news, but be that as it may, it was still news.
"Yes?" Ponree pulled himself upward, to display a more authoritative posture. Leadership, he had been taught many years ago in the Academy, should be displayed in all ways. Most notably in the voice.
"The Star Destryer had gone beyond our sensor's range, sir."
Ponree bolted upright. "How in the hell is that possible?"
"We don't know, sir. We're working on several hypothoses."
"Don't give me hypotheses, Gatling, give me that Destroyer! If we don't recover it before Lord Vader finds out..."
"Sir," Gatling interrupted, "Lord Vader already knows. He's on his way from Coruscant." Vader knew. With every passing second, the grip of fear in Ponree's stomach grew tighter. Vader knew.
"Gatling," Ponree said, trying not to let that grip affect him. It wasn't working. "Put out a call for the hunters. Perhaps--"
"Sir," Gatling interrupted again. "Lord Vader wishes to keep the recovery as quiet as possible. He has deployed Boba Fett here. You're to debrief him on his arrival."
Ponree was outraged. "Why wasn't I notified of any of this?"
"Lord Vader was specific in his orders, sir. He said not to tell you---until you asked." Vader knew everything.
"Very well," Ponree accepted. "Notify me when Fett arrives."
"Yes, sir." The comlink light dimmed slightly, and the room was dark again.
Ponree slumped into his chair further.
"What happened, Admiral Procter?" Fett asked. When he entered the debriefing room, Ponree had his back to the door, staring out the view window. Ponree didn't move. Fett took this as the action of a man who knew he was going to die.
"Fett, so glad you could make it. Can I...get you anything?" Ponree slouched slightly when he talked.
"No. Why am I here?" Fett stood motionless as well.
"A number of our men on the Star Destroyer Devastator defected."
"What does that have to do with me?"
"When they defected, they took the Devastator with them." Ponree turned around, and for the first time, Fett saw his face. It was pale and sullen. "The Devastator had attempted to confiscate a Rebel Frigate. They overpowered the Rebel ship. There were etimated 300 prisoners. As they were being shown to thier cells, a riot broke out."
"Yes, our last report from the Devastator declared that almost 500 of our own Stormtroopers began liberating the Rebels. They soon hijacked the whole vessel."
"How did 800 people overpower a whole Star Destroyer?"
"We don't know," Ponree lowered his gaze to the ground. "We arrived just as the ship--dissapeared. We don't know what happened to it."
"All you have to do is find the ship," a voice said behind Fett. He whirled around, blaster drawn, to see it was Vader. "You find the ship, and lead us to it."
Fett holstered his blaster, and walked over to the window where Ponree stood. Vader's sudden appearance has not helped his gaze. He looked even more despondent now.
"How much can I expect for this?" Since this was an Empire job, Fett reasoned the payment would be substantial.
"Three million credits, and the full help of the Empire. Just find the ship, Fett."
"Very well, Vader."
"Now, if you'll excuse us, I have a message from the Emperor for Admiral Ponree."
"Of course, Lord Vader." Fett nodded slightly to Vader on his way out. He could hear Ponree's screams all the way down the corridor.