Force of Wills: The Ties that Bind
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11.14.2012 , 01:44 PM |
Sith intelligence was buzzing with activity, but like a hive without it’s queen, the absence of Lord Kaervrek had left the remaining, minders, fixers, watchers and ciphers directionless. The Sith that had been recruited to the cause were more concerned with the power vacuum and their own ambitions to pay any mind to the disturbing reports that were coming in from across the city. Communications were down , and now the bodies of an Imperial officer and a fixer had been found near a secondary communications relay.
“Keeper, your Sith commander is missing, some presume dead, and you hand me this.” Rateah threw the investigation report at Keepers feet, who, to her credit, was standing stiff backed and eyes straight ahead, despite the angry welts that bloomed on her neck. “This is a farce, and an insult, do your job, or I’ll find someone who can.”
Heels snapped together with a smart click, and a low deferential bow, “yes my Lord.”
Once Keeper had left Lord Kaervreks spacious office, Rateah turned her alabaster glare on Marek. She stalked him in slow circles, still so young and reckless. She pointed her long and smooth fingers to towards the door Keeper had just exited from.
“Think. Force choking the force blind head of Intelligence will get you nowhere. That woman is infinitely valuable, and her allegiance is better earned through cooperation and respect, then brute force. Your grandfather knew this, and if you hope to rule from this seat as he once did, you must learn restraint. Fear is a flawed tool, temper it with respect from your subordinates and you will go far.” Teah observed the younger Siths jaw clench and unclench, his copper skin darkening to a wine red, his eyes boring golden holes in the window beyond her shoulder.
“The report…” He forced out.
“Was insufficient, I agree, and we will discover the truth surrounding your grandfather, I promise you. Flying into rages will solve nothing if all you’re left with are the corpses of your best operatives.” Rateah briefly contemplated taking Sith Intelligence for herself, Kaervrek had groomed her from childhood, she understood the language of subterfuge and deceit. The subtle game of words and manipulations was her home, and yet, even as a fully recognized Sith, she would not hold it for long. Her history as a slave and being an alien, would always deny her any overt position of power. Marek had the blood, and the legitimate claim to his grandfather’s holdings, inexperienced as he was. He loved her, that much she knew, albeit obsessive in nature, he desired her and respected her, she could lead from the shadows.
“My Lords.” They were interrupted by a tall and slim youth with nearly unblinking eyes and a serious sullen look to him, watcher eighteen. “There has been a security breech in the city.”
Rateah followed Marek to the operations room, where a giant screen blinked a constant stream of information. A map of the city filled the center of the screen where three blinking lights in separate sectors warned of inactive services. In the time it took to absorb the information a forth light began to blink.
“Report” Marek said, his black hair tinted blue in the light of the holo map, his piercings and face ornaments shimmering in the light. Teah had convinced him of simple utilitarian black armor instead of his preferred cape and spikes he thought instilled fear.
“My Lord, we now have confirmation that two of our teams have been neutralized by an unknown assailant. We have done as you asked and suspended all air and space traffic, though with the communications array down it has been difficult to enforce. We have been able to confirm the final report before we lost communications that there are indeed Republic cruisers in orbit, fleet outnumbered them three to one.” Keeper took the data pad from watcher eighteen.
“We also have confirmed reports that two unidentified light cruisers entered the atmosphere prior to communications loss, worst case scenario is a Republic strike force. Two squads were sent to the projected landing sights, neither has reported back.”
“It’s too small to be an invasion force, they would have sent more ships down if that were the case.” Marek brought a hand to his chin and narrowed his eyes at the map of the city, he turned briefly to Rateah who was standing a pace behind him, her full lips smiled slightly, she was pleased, and Marek held himself straighter. She was always telling him to think, to look below the surface, to marry instinct with information. If it was too good to be true, it probably was.
“They’re after something.” Rateah offered, Marek had a look she had seen many times over, though never on him. His mind was working, she dared not lecture or undermine him in public, for once she didn’t need to. When she saw him smile she knew he came to the next logical question.
“Show me the projected landing sites.” He demanded quickly, puzzle pieces snapping into place. Two bright green lights appeared on the map. They were well away from the city, in the jungle. “Widen the map.” The map fell back revealing more jungle, and uneven topography until a familiar imposing structure appeared on the screen.
Rateah took a step to stand beside him, and ran her eyes over the familiar jungle paths, “Keeper, has there been any notable movements among the Sith as of late, council members, any particularly difficult power struggles?” Rateah asked the question, though she knew it had been two weeks since Lord Kaervrek had disappeared without a trace.
“The Emperor.” Keeper spoke though her usual calm veneer was cracking.
“What of him?” Marek clenched his fists.
“He is currently in residence at the Dark Temple, his flagship and Imperial guard arrived two weeks ago. How could I have not seen it, remembered it?” There was fear in Keepers voice, something in her mind opened, that had been closed. The work of the Emperor himself, memories of clearing the entourage flooded Keepers mind, the cold sweat as the fear she had felt returned to her.
“They would dare? The Emperor cannot be defeated.” Even as Marek said it, doubt pulled at his chest. His mother’s disappearance, the huge empty estate that was her usual haunt had been left unattended, a large layer of dust had formed on the visible surfaces of the home. The slaves either fled or claimed by rival Sith with no one to oppose them. If the Wrath was missing, the Emperor was vulnerable, why else return to his ancestral strong hold.
“I want two full platoons ready to march on the Temple grounds within the hour, call in the reserves if need be, Cipher twelve and Cipher fifteen are in the city on leave, let them know it’s been cut short. Lord Marek and I will lead the offensive ourselves.” Teah placed a cool hand on Marek’s forearm, his open face twisted in anger and uncertainty. The touch brought him back to the present and he smiled a feral grin at Teah. She returned it, he looked so like his grandfather in that moment she could almost kiss him.
“The city’s getting hot, I’m counting two full platoons boss, and two light bats leading the charge. I like parties as much as the next guy, but I have nothing to wear, and these guys don’t look like the dancing type.” Gault spoke into his comm from his rooftop vantage point, rain mingling with sweat. He was being followed, somewhere behind him he heard a stealth generator, hard to hide from something he couldn’t see.
“Thanks Gault, get the kids and get out of there, I’ll have Blizz meet you at the enclave.” Ava’s disembodied voice sounding in his ear.
“You heard her, get going, I’ll see you in a few.” Gault felt the knife slide quietly into his side, puncturing lung. A hand plucked his head piece off of his head as he fell, drowning in his own blood.
“Enclave, got it, see you there.” A female voice replied through the ear piece. Cipher twelve dropped the headpiece on the gasping Devaronian. He knelt over the alien, blood pooling at his sides, fingers grasping for his side arm.
“I don’t think so mate.” He un-holstered the pistol and tossed it across the roof, pale shaking red fingers reaching, followed by wet coughing and gasping.
“I was warm, had the loveliest little twilek dancer all to myself, paid extra for a private dance.” He spoke companionably as his mark died, winking at him like a friend.
“You’re not nearly so pretty, and now I’m wet, and cold. Although, your little partner, does she look as nice as she sounds?” Gault managed to spit at the question in response. Cipher twelve laughed as he stood up, the deep red Devaronian shivered violently.
“Guess I’ll find out soon enough won’t I?” He shot his mark between the eyes, having lost his taste for blood and gasping. He headed down the lift to the main floor where a squad and his speeder were waiting.
“Comms won’t be a problem anymore, get to work getting them back online. I have a date at the Mandalorian Enclave.”
This chapter has been one of the most stubborn chapters to date. I think I attempted to write this a good five times until I finally found a version I am pleased with. That being said, I love how it turned out, and I hope my dear readers, you enjoy it to. Thanks Kabe for the quick Beta read and subjecting yourself to the poodoo I had written earlier.
Force of Wills
Force of Wills: The Ties that Bind