Thread: Aftermath
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11.22.2012 , 01:20 PM | #11
Part 8: In which there are no discoveries
(Several weeks later)

Pleasantly tired and relaxed after a couple of hours saber practice on the dummy, followed by a foot massage from 2V, Zier was lounging on the couch, randomly flicking through holovision channels and grouching about it. “Daytime holo never gets any better. 'Craziest Rancor Hunts', pointless now, no-one's ever going to beat that naked Rodian on roller skates …. 'My Pet is a Sithspawn', they should do an alternative for the pets – My Owner is an Idiot … why are there eleven whole channels just for huttball and another seven for swoop racing? … 'One Hundred Days With the Jawas', just why? ... and I can’t believe they’re repeating the last final of 'The Darth Factor', everyone knows it was Ravage’s choice that won, and he only forced her through because he fell for her pretty simpering missishness. Serevin’s boy was a lot better.”

Vette, who was curled up at the other end of the couch reading the latest news on her datapad, looked up. “Maybe it’s 'cause she fell for him too ... he pushed her off the top of the Citadel yesterday. Guess he got bored and went back to Sithy stuff.”

“Way to go, Ravage. That’ll really get us Darths a good name”, Zier grumbled. She was working herself up for a bit of a rant, but Quinn came down from the bridge and distracted her.

“My Lord, as you know I used your influence successfully and obtained access to the old Imperial Intelligence records, which should have been sufficient for our purpose.” He had an odd expression on his face.

“ ”Should have been” ?” enquired Zier. “You look puzzled, that’s not like you.” She switched the holonet off.

Vette giggled. “You’d be surprised what he looks like sometimes when you’re not around. Me and Jaesa can do all sorts of things.” She grinned impishly and winked at Quinn, whose expression moved from puzzled to annoyed and pinkly uncomfortable. He glared at Vette and adjusted his uniform tunic unnecessarily.

“Really? Tell me more of this.” Zier eyed Vette, who giggled again. “Maybe later, my Lord. Jaesa needs to be here too, it’ll be more fun.”

Zier glanced mischievously at Quinn. “Good point, we’ll wait for Jaesa. Meantime, Vette, go chase up those Lorridan crystals I ordered, or you’ll never get the upgrade to your pistols.”

“Piece of cake.” Vette unfolded herself and scampered off to call a shuttle.

“Ok Quinn, come sit down and explain.” She patted the couch next to her.

He sat down obediently, and she adjusted her position to nestle against him comfortably. “Forget Vette and Jaesa, they’re girls, they like teasing, and you’re very teasable, you know.”

“You have frequently demonstrated as much, my Lord.” Quinn smiled ruefully and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “But back to the matter in hand. The records are both complete and incomplete. We have access to everything, but there is no mention of Cipher Nine anywhere, nor of her known associates.”

“What do you mean? Have they been deleted?”

“No, my Lord. They never existed. Apparently.”

She twisted round and looked at him. “What do you mean, never existed?”

“All records leave tracks in other data, links to different files, cross references, consistency, record integrity, even in the way the data is stored. A deletion would leave a gap, and that would be visible or at least traceable.” He produced his datapad and showed her some examples.

“But in the Intelligence personnel records there are no data gaps. Everything is complete, and correct, but without Cipher Nine. I have full records of Ciphers One to Eight, and Ten to Twenty-seven, but for Nine there are the previous holders of the title but not the most recent one, only a note that the designation was unused without further explanation. The same with the records of Fixers. There were more than two hundred of them, and all are there with the exception of Fifteen. There is at least mention of the Hand of Jadus, but only as a temporary position in the organisation, with no personal details.”

“This makes no sense at all.” Zier looked bewildered. “It's not surprising that you can't find Kaliyo, from what little we knew about her that almost certainly wasn't her name anyway, and we didn't expect Protean to know about dealings with Baras. But they also claim they've never had a Dr Eckard Lokin connected to them, now apparently he and Cipher Nine never worked for Imperial Intelligence either. The Diplomatic Service say they have no Vector Hyllus on record, and the military deny all knowledge of a Raina Temple on Hoth or anywhere else. I don't like this, Mal, it's getting weird.”

“You do not need to tell me that, my Lord. It is most odd, especially since you and I both know that Cipher Nine existed, as do many others. The memories cannot be erased, the computer records apparently have not been erased, but are nevertheless not there.” He considered for a moment, then asked, “What about Darth Jadus himself, my Lord? Can you speak to him directly, perhaps?”

She shrugged. “I could, except I don’t know where he is, no more than anyone else does. Maybe that’s the explanation. Jadus took her and her crew with him and they’ve all vanished together.”

“I think not, my Lord. It would not explain the missing data, especially since Darth Jadus is most certainly there in the records.”

“So .... basically, what you’re saying is that we’ve discovered we can’t discover anything?”

“A fair summary, my Lord.” Quinn was clearly not happy.

Vette bounced back in at that moment, waving a small packet. “Got them! And I met the others at the port so we shared a shuttle back.” Jaesa and Pierce followed her in, rather more soberly.

Pierce leaned his rifle against the wall and stretched, joints cracking. “Decent fight, that, m’Lord. House Alde ain’t any more friendly than before, but we got in and out, no trouble. Walk in the park after the Bastion.” He grinned ferociously.

Jaesa looked tired and a bit distressed. “I didn’t enjoy that, Master. You know I don’t really like having to fight, especially on Alderaan.”

Zier’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I didn’t send you to enjoy it, I sent you to find information.”

She lowered her gaze submissively. “Yes Master, I apologise. I understand, really I do ... it’s just that it’s not that long since I was one of them. And it was all wasted anyway, the library didn’t have anything. I was sure it would, it’s the biggest repository on all of Alderaan, and it’s well known that Cipher Nine was here before she became the Hand of Jadus. You saw her working with Moff Sarek and House Thul, and that time on Voss she told us about how House Cortess was taken over by the Killiks. House Cortess and all the other people are there, but no mention of the Agent at all. Or the Joiner diplomat, Vector Hyllus. It’s like they never existed.”

“Curiouser and curiouser.” Zier looked up at Quinn, who was never comfortable showing affection in public and had vacated the couch in embarrassment when the others had come back.

He looked down at her almost helplessly. “Every place we look, there is nothing. I do not understand.”

Vette perked up a bit. “Hold on guys, you’re looking in all possible records for the Agent, yeah?”

Zier, Quinn and Jaesa all nodded. Pierce had vanished and some metallic clatters from the direction of the workbench suggested that he was busy banging out dents in his armour.

“So .... what you need to do, if there aren’t any records, is go where there aren’t any records.” She grinned mischievously. “The underworld, right? You know, smugglers, bounty hunters, slavers, pirates, tomb robbers, all those people ... I should know, I was one of them. I’ll go call the guys on Nar Shaddaa.” She bounced out again.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.