Part 18: In which the Agent meets the Republic and they don't kill each other
Corso ushered Deuchar, Standtrae, Taberon and Timmns into the room where Quave, Kaliyo and Cademuir were waiting.
Cademuir, dressed as usual in her casual leather jacket and slacks, was sprawled in one of the chairs around the meeting table. Quave, however, was standing stiffly next to her, wound up tight as a spring. She was dressed in very nondescript semi-camouflage, dull green and grey basic-looking armour, no insignia of any kind, as unnoticeable as it could get. Unnoticeable,that is, if you didn't observe the extremely high quality of the armouring and modifications, and ignored the lethal-looking knife at her belt and the top-of-the-range precision model sniper rifle slung on her back. Kaliyo lounged against the wall behind them, blaster pistol in her hand but hanging relaxed at her side.
The four newcomers stared at the two Human women. Quave stared back, cold and defiant, but Cademuir only grinned.
"Now I see you together, there are a few differences, but apart it would be impossible to tell", commented Deuchar.
Cademuir chuckled. "Yeah, we traded on that a lot, up 'til we were 15 and I got this fallin' out of a tree." She ran her finger down the old scar crossing her eye.
Timmns tilted his head. "If you, Captain got the scar falling out of a tree, how did you, Madam Cipher, get the same scar? I've heard of a lot of strange things happening with twins, but that seems unlikely."
"Lay off the personal questions, green man", said Kaliyo, raising her pistol slightly, though still leaning casually against the wall.
Timmns raised his hands in apology. "Forgive me, it was purely curiosity, nothing more. Allow me to introduce myself, Master Somminick Timmns, of the Jedi Council. My colleague, Jedi Knight Taberon, his brother Major Standtrae of the Republic's Special Operations Havoc Squad, their sister Deuchar, Captain of the Mistrunner, a smug..." he coughed "a free trading ship in the Core Worlds."
Deuchar eyed him, but decided not to comment.
"I know who you are", said Quave. "I came for explanations, not introductions. I don't take kindly to being hunted." Her voice, like her expression, was cold, and she had a clear and precise Drumond Kaas accent, which made Standtrae widen his eyes briefly.
"Aww, come on sis", cajoled Cademuir. "You can't blame them for wantin' to know stuff about us. Relax, sit down, listen up, and then clear out if you want. I ain't told them nothin', they don't even know your name, it's up to you if you want to explain the whys and wherefores."
Quave looked at Cademuir, and obviously some sort of communication flickered between them. She sat down, but without any of Cademuir's relaxation. "Talk then."
They all sat down, except Kaliyo, who continued to lean against the wall. Standtrae looked at the Rattataki, who winked impudently at him. "Name's Kaliyo. We can talk later, big boy, if you're interested", she drawled.
Quave turned a glare on her, and Kaliyo affected innocence. "What, Agent? It's not fraternising if it's on neutral territory."
Quave stared a second or two longer, then reluctantly grinned. "All right, you win." She looked back at the others, still wary but with the coldness gone. "Talk away then, and if you convince me, maybe I'll do a bit of explaining." She rubbed her finger over the implanted microphone in her jaw, sending a message to the ship in the simple code she'd set up with Lokin: Are you getting all this? The tiny double buzz in her earpiece confirmed: Loud and clear, Agent.
"I think it would be best to go right back to how I know Darth Drumelzier, and then go on from there", said Timmns, looking questioningly at the others. They all nodded.
"Very well ... I met her during an investigation I was performing on Belsavis, a planet which is, I regret to say, one of the Republic's guiltier secrets, but ..."
"I know Belsavis", interrupted Quave. "You can leave out the attempted justification of Republic crimes."
"As you say", agreed Timmns, without further comment. "It happened that my interests coincided with Lord Drumelzier's, and we made a temporary alliance. She was not what I had expected from a Sith, she was both honest and honourable, and we parted as reluctant friends. I reported all this to the Jedi Council, of course, which caused considerable debate." He rubbed his chin.
"Describe her", commanded Quave.
Timmns looked a little surprised, but complied. "Well, she is Zabrak, small with a round cheerful face but fierce yellow eyes. Red skinned with sharp jagged black tattoos. Her hair is dark, cut short, with some of it drawn up at the back into a jaunty little fan shape. She seems very young, but appears confident in her strength. She carries a single red lightsaber which she most certainly knows how to use, and has more Force power than I would care to face alone."
Taberon nodded. "The power radiates from her. I think even non-Force sensitives would feel it if she did not hold it in."
Quave nodded. "We've met. All right, I accept that you do know her. Go on."
Timmns went on to describe how Zier had contacted him asking for a meeting, and how he and Taberon had met her at the Elysium. He told how she had explained to them about being the Wrath of the Emperor, and how she now had political power which she wanted to use.
Quave listened intently, and at the mention of Zier being the Wrath, scratched a message back to the ship: Look into that. The acknowledgement buzz came back.
Timmns finished, and gestured to the other three. "I will now hand over to my young friends here to explain the rest."
Deuchar looked at Standtrae. "Going to do the honours as usual, Trae?"
He grinned. "May as well, I've had plenty of practice." He proceeded with the now familiar recounting of Baras's plans and the reasons for hunting Cipher Nine. Quave asked a few questions about Zier's hunt, some of which Trae could only shake his head to. "All we know is, Darth Drumelzier couldn't find a trace of you, so she thought of us. Well, Duke really, being a free trader and having contacts." He winked at Deuchar, who shrugged.
Quave produced a small brief smile. "I was intending to vanish completely, it's nice to know it worked, more or less."
"So ...", she looked at the four Republic people. "You can consider me convinced, but I need to talk to Lokin before anything else happens. However, on the basis that he will cooperate, go ahead and set up a meeting with Lord Zier and her people." She scratched at her jaw again, telling the ship she was turning off the transmission, and got the double buzz confirmation in her ear.
She tapped a brief note into her datapad and showed it to Cademuir and then Kaliyo, who both nodded. "See Akaavi", said Cademuir, and Kaliyo peeled herself off the wall and left the room.
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes, then Cademuir's holocom beeped. She answered it on audio only and Akaavi's voice came through: "It is done as ordered, Captain. And the Rattataki has gone to join Ivory and the bounty hunter."
"Thanks Akaavi", said Cademuir, and shut off the holo again, looking at Quave.
"Brief explanation then", said Quave, looking a bit resigned. "You can start." She looked at Cademuir.
Cademuir grinned. "Fair enough." She cleared her throat a couple of times, then spoke in a lower pitched voice with a perfect Drumond Kaas accent, sounding extraordinarily similar to Quave, apart from her irrepressible cheerfulness.
"Once upon a time, twin girls were born into an long-established military family on Dromund Kaas, up in the north country. Naturally, both were expected to follow the family tradition of service to the Empire, and both were quite content with that, not knowing anything else. They were a happy pair, very mischievous and much given to playing tricks involving substituting for each other."
"Usually with the older one starting them and the younger one following along", interposed Quave.
"Bah, you had as much fun as I did." Cademuir grinned mpishly. "Anyway, they did well in school, and were both initially picked for Imperial Intelligence. Imperial Intelligence quite liked the idea of having identical twins, but unfortunately the older twin had a scarred face. So they put the younger twin in for plastic surgery to make an identical scar, and that's how that happened."
Both of them simultaneously ran their fingers down their scars in weird synchronicity, then Quave took up the tale. "The younger twin took to Imperial Agent training like a duck to water, but the older one wasn't so happy. She didn't like slow and careful covert operations and information gathering, she wanted action, pure and simple. So after a while, she put in for a transfer into the military and went for pilot training."
"At which she was pretty damn brilliant", interjected Cademuir with a grin.
Quave nodded. "There isn't much more to tell, really. I carried on with Agent training, graduated with high marks in everything, was assigned to field work, and ended up as a Cipher. I was hand picked by Darth Jadus, and served him directly as his representative in Imperial Intelligence for several years, until it came to an end. I'm not going into any more detail than that."
She looked back at Cademuir, who carried on, reverting to her usual voice. "As for me, I won all the pilotin' awards I could find, got my first postin', didn't get along with the Moff, faked my own death, ran away. That's all you're gettin'."
"More than we expected", said Standtrae.
"Or deserved", added Timmns.
"Thank you for your trust"/"Thanks for trusting us", said Taberon and Deuchar at the same time, then looked surprised at each other.