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How to Bcome an Imperial Agent (In Four Easy Steps) | Step 0: Click the Link

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
How to Bcome an Imperial Agent (In Four Easy Steps) | Step 0: Click the Link

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 06:18 PM | #1
(( This has been a labor of love that's undergone numerous title changes and story revisions, and now IT'S FINALLY DONE! I hope you enjoy.

Oh and before I forget; Ariadne is running around on Lord Ardaas (US) under the name Ariane if anyone wants to say hello. ))


Step One:

Inadvertently Make the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic Angry


The wind whipped around Ariadne as she stood in the shadow of a building in the Senate District, a mask shielding her face from most of the gust. SD-550 stood next to her, though the assassin droid’s attention was elsewhere as it watched their target. They were both dressed in dark greens and greys, which hid them much better than plain black ever could.

The mark was aware she was a target due to a botched attempt by a different assassin, so they were being even more cautious than usual. Ariadne glanced to SD-550. “Well?”

The assassin droid paused a moment, whirring softly. “Target is sleeping in windowed room.” It clicked. “Security cameras and guards undetected inside room.”

“Wait… Seriously?”

“That would appear to be the case.” The droid whirred.

“It has to be a trap.” Ariadne said, removing her blaster-rifle from its case and readying it.

“Probable. However, I cannot detect it.”

Ariadne grunted unhappily, looking through the scope. “Send in a probot. I have a bad feeling about this one.”

The two waited until the probe droid had floated over, hovering outside the window. Ariadne took her time setting up the shot as SD-550 processed the information. “It cannot detect anything either. You are welcome to proceed.”

Ariadne examined the mark. She was a politician and, currently, sleeping soundly in an expensive looking room with the blinds half shut, the lights from passing speeders and neon signs illuminating the inside. The mark looked very peaceful in her nicely lit bedroom. Ariadne almost felt bad for ruining her night. Dumb-***.

The assassin squeezed the trigger.

“You missed.” The droid observed glumly.

“Yes, I know I kriffing missed!” Ariadne snapped. The window had cracked where the bolt had gone through it, and she’d managed to take out a lamp, the remains smoldering out of sight. The mark was definitely awake now.

“Two human males have joined the mark.” SD-550 said as Ariadne tired to pin down the mark to take another shot. It was too late, though. She was already out of the room. “Oh, look. They’ve spotted the probe.”

Ariadne shut her rifle in its case. “Time to go.”

They hopped into the airspeeder, SD-550 taking the wheel. Ariadne looked up just in time to see one of the guards jump out of the window and grab onto the probe droid in a moment of what Ariadne could only assume was temporary insanity. She watched as the probe droid struggled to hold the human aloft. “You didn’t call the probot back?”

SD-550 followed her gaze. “I considered it expendable.” It whirred, sounding vaguely annoyed.

The pair did not stop to watch the spectacle. SD-550 gunned the engine and within a few moments they were off, rejoining one of the lower skylanes. Ariadne directed the probe in the opposite direction. “Think we can still salvage this tonight?” She asked.

“It is probable. Security is not very tight. Ordinarily that would have been one of our smoother jobs.” It glanced at her.

Ariande flipped it the bird, though she had a feeling the gesture was lost on the droid as it steered the airspeeder back around. They pulled right up under the broken window. Ariadne tossed a stun grenade in and was rewarded with the sound of a body hitting the floor.

“Back in a flash.” Ariadne said as she climbed past SD-550 and into the building. She could have sworn the droid whirred something along the lines of ‘don’t miss’, but she couldn’t be certain.

Ariadne stepped over the body of the one guard that had been stationed at the broken window and slunk further into the building, drawing her pistol and unsnapping the safety catch. She opened the door and stepped from the darkness of the bedroom into a hallway. Following it, she soon came to a living room of some sort.

Staying out of sight, Ariadne listened. She could hear the sound of the politician speaking in a shaken tone. Drawing another stun grenade, she tossed it in. Then all she heard was silence.

Ariadne walked inside the room, shot the unconscious politician in the head with her blaster, checked her pulse to make sure the deed was done, and then walked out. It had taken three minutes at the most.

SD-550 was waiting for her when she hopped back into the airspeeder. “Done?” It clicked.

“Done.”

The roof of the airspeeder closed over them—and just in time, apparently. Ariadne grunted in surprise as something landed on the speeder, which wobbled at the impact. SD-550 hit the accelerator as Ariadne looked up to see one of the guards almost slide off. It was a different one, but apparently possessing the same amount of crazy.

“You would think the mark being dead would dissuade them.” SD-550 said calmly. “I advise you to hang on to something.”

Ariadne gripped the handle on the airspeeder door tightly with one hand, her pistol in the other as SD-550 suddenly stopped, the guard only barely managing to hang on. The droid let out a metallic sigh. “While I doubt we would be pulled over down here, I will refrain from future daring heroics to avoid attracting any more authoritative attention.”

Then a lightsaber plunged through the middle of the airspeeder. Ariadne screamed and SD-550 hissed as the blade hit it in the shoulder with a flash of sparks. The speeder swerved and then crashed into a street, the guard- and apparent Jedi- slaming into the ground few feet away, seemingly unconscious.

Ariadne sat there for a moment as the silence settled. Her leg hurt but nothing felt broken. Stuffing the panicky, hyperventilating feeling away, she glanced over at her droid. Only then she realized how quiet it was. “Sid?” She said softly. “Sid?”

She cringed as the droid made a series of jarring clicking noises, the lights behind its optics blinking on. “Systems functional.” It whirred, making to stand. Its arm did not move with it. SD-550 stared down at the severed limb for a moment. “Correction: Right arm non-functional.”

Ariadne grabbed the arm. It was heavier than it looked. “Come on. We have to get out of here before that Jedi wakes up.” She tried to stand and her world flashed white. She leaned against the airspeeder, dropping SD-550’s arm on the seat as she tried not to puke.

SD-550 eyed her but she waved him away, grabbing his arm and slinging it over her shoulder. The droid let her lean against it as they limped along. “Plan?” It whirred.
“Do not engage Jedi. Coordinates?”

The droid rattled off their location.

“We’re not far from Nadhira’s place. We’ll- ungh-“ Her vision blackened around the edges. Ariadne felt blood running down her leg. She swore softly. “We’ll make it up from there.”

The White Spade was big and flashy, an arched entrance with a white neon sign in the shape of a spade flashing up top. There was only a bruiser standing outside—the crowds had already made their way inside for the evening.

Ariande thought she and SD-550 made for a ridiculous sight- the droid had its remaining arm wrapped around her, holding her up as she held its severed arm while blood freely flowed down her leg- but the bruiser barely blinked once she tossed him a credit chip. “Guy coming in. Black hair, youngish. He’ll say he’s looking for someone. Don’t let him in.”

The bruiser merely nodded and Ariadne sighed in relief. That would buy them some time. Ariadne glanced over her shoulder as they walked into the club, her insides going cold as she saw the Jedi standing outside some distance away. And then he was joined by a second figure.

“Oh, sure. Now he waits.” Ariadne hissed.

“I have found that organics are consistently unpredictable.”

She grunted. “How much you want to bet that other one is a Jedi, too?”

The droid was silent for a moment. “Gambling is not included in my programming.”

“Ha. Ha.”

SD-550 gently pulled her over into a private booth and pulled the thick curtain across the booth’s doorway, muffling most of the sounds. Ariadne leaned back and tried not to pass out. Sitting up a bit straighter, she pulled the dark synthetic fabric away from the wound. A piece of the speeder had dislodged in the crash and gone into her leg.

SD-550 whirred softly as it looked the wound over. “I am not a surgery droid, but I am programmed in basic first aid.”

“Do what you can, Sid.” Ariadne murmured. She was tired. And thirsty, which was ironic considering where they were.

The droid nodded. “I require you to remove your lower armor.”

Ariadne grunted and began pulling her pants off, mindful of the piece of shrapnel in her leg. She hissed in pain when the metal caught in the fabric and SD-550 had to cut part of her pants anyways. She was just setting them aside when the curtain was brushed aside, a small figure appearing in the doorway. “... We have rooms in the back for this sort of thing, you know.”

“Yes, because shrapnel in the leg is terribly romantic.” Ariadne said through gritted teeth.

Nadhira gave the tiniest of shrugs as she stepped fully into the booth, her hands behind her back. Despite her petite figure, Ariadne felt her pulse quickening. “I know a few people who are into that sort of thing.” Nadhira murmured, examining the far wall—glass, with a built in holo-display that projected various shades of blue and purple across it. “You never know.”

Ariadne grunted, unable to think of a witty retort as SD-550 disinfected the wound. “What do you want, Nadhira?”

“How much did you trash this time?”

Ariadne and SD-550 both briefly paused in embarrassed silence.

“… I believe the final count would be the contents of two interior rooms, one airspeeder, and one street corner, the former taken out by the latter.” The droid finally said.

Nadhira smirked and peeked out of the curtain at her nightclub. “Your Jedi friend seems to be enjoying a drink at the bar, too.”

“He wha-?” Ariadne held her leg with both hand as SD-550 moved to pull the piece of metal out of her leg. Pain overloaded her senses for a moment as she squeezed her leg tighter, trying to stem some of the blood flowing out. “I p-paid the bruiser not to let him in.”

“You didn’t pay him enough to keep out a Jedi, much less two.” She took her time eyeing Ariadne up and down. “... Quite frankly, I doubt that you have that much on your person.”

Nadhira let the curtain fall back as SD-550 bandaged Ariadne’s wound. “But I have an idea. A mutually beneficial one, shall we say, as thanks for all your... Hard work.” One of Nadhira’s eyebrows raised as she glanced back to Ariadne’s ravaged leg.

“What is it, Nadhira?” Ariadne managed as SD-550 gave her a stim to help with the bloodloss.

“I will allow you to use the back door for a quiet exit.” She paused, meeting Ariadne’s gaze very pointedly. “Remember that the next time I call.”

Ariadne gritted her teeth as she pulled her pants back on. “I’m in your debt.”

She smiled in a way that made Ariadne’s skin crawl. “Take care not to forget that fact.” With as much ceremony as she’d arrived, Nadhira turned and left.

“According to my calculations, that went well.”

Ariadne grunted as she slipped her boots back on.

“Of course,” The droid whirred thoughtfully, “It could have gone a lot better.”

With Ariadne not actively bleeding out, she tied SD-550’s arm to the rest of it and fixed it a sort of sling. “It’ll have to do for now, let’s just get out of here.”

SD-550 stepped out from behind the curtains, Ariadne behind it. “I see one of our followers at the bar.” It droned quietly. “Engage?”

“No. Too risky. I doubt we’d be a match for a Jedi at our best, kriffin’ force users.”

Quietly, the two slipped out of the back door and into the night. If the Jedi were watching the front door, they’d be sorely disappointed. Ariadne got a grim sort of satisfaction of the two returning to find the mark dead.

Exhausted and wounded, the two headed off into the night to report their success.

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 06:27 PM | #2
Step Two:

Befriend a Mandalorian while carrying out an assassination for your boss.


"... I, I can't be with you, Jacen." The twi'lek said tearfully. "I... I'm pregnant with Pra'tari's child."

A kernel of popcorn was thrown at the holograph, but the characters didn't seem to notice. "Why would you sleep with him, you moron?"

The accusation remained unheard as the holocam cut to the human's face. Anger, than sadness flashed across his features.

"... I see how it must be. Kinsa, I love you. But I can’t do this. I'm leaving."

The twi'lek's face shone with perfect tears. Ariadne had seen a twi'lek cry, and they puffed up like most other species—and it sure as hell wasn't that pretty. "Where will you go?" She whispered.

"Away. I need to think." He looked at her for a moment before leaning down and kissing her passionately. Dramatic music played. "Goodbye." He whispered.

Kinsa sobbed as Jacen walked silently out the door. The ending song faded in as credits flashed across the front of the holographic display.

Ariadne threw another kernel of popcorn at it. One of her cats picked it up, tail twitching. "I- damnit, Snowball. You can't eat that."

The assassin stood up and walked over, grabbing the white furred cat. Ariadne had never actually seen snow, having lived on Coruscant her entire life, but she knew it was white like her cat in an offhanded sort of way. The feline meowed in protest as she pulled the popcorn away.

"No. You aren't allowed to pick up my eating habits."

Ariadne sat back down on the couch, cat in lap. She scratched Snowball behind the ears. "It's alright. Jacen is too good for her."

She was just reaching to change the channel when SD-550 landed behind the couch with a mini-crescendo of whirrs and clicks. "Incoming transmission from: Nadhira." The assassin droid droned.

Ariadne had a holographic display built into one of her bracers, which was currently sitting on the table between her and the 'proj. Ariadne nudged it upright with her foot.

All she could see was Nadhira's face but, really, that was enough.

"Ariadne." The crime boss’s eyebrows rose faintly. SD-550 clicked something irritable behind her.

"Nadhira." The assassin replied, painfully aware of her pajama pants, "Calcified Lichens" t-shirt and the happily purring feline in her lap.

"I have a job for you."

"Suppose I can't exactly say no, can I?"

Nadhira smiled in a way that made Ariadne’s hair stand on end and continued without comment. "I'm sending the information you'll need to your datapad.” She said instead. “I wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten your debt."

"Nope. Memory's as good as ever." Unfortunately.

"Good. I look forward to hearing of your success." Nadhira ended the transmission abruptly.

Ariadne sat there for a moment in silence. Her datapad beeped. Snowball lost interest in being petted and wandered off to do cat-things.

"... That woman really scares me sometimes."

"Only sometimes?" SD-550 inquired.

Ariadne grunted, picking up the datapad and scrolling through the contents.

"When are we leaving?" It wasn't referring to their job.

"Soon. Maybe after this one. Get a place on the other side of the planet, name change, standard procedure."

SD-550 did not follow her as she walked over to her bedroom. "I think Nadhira warrants a little more than standard procedure."

Ariadne frowned, hand resting on the button to close the door. "I know." She said softly.

"Oh, and I hope you like opera."

---

The dress was too tight. The neck sloped down, presumably to show off certain desirable feminine attributes, but Ariadne was lacking in that department so all it really did was make her shiver as they walked towards the opera house. She’d kill for a sweater.

Three weeks of careful planning had gone into this job. A private box had been purchased over the mark's own, a few employees had been bribed and blackmailed (mainly the Rodian who controlled the security holocams) and suitable outfits purchased.

"You are so lucky." Ariadne hissed to SD-550, "I hate jobs where I have to dress up."

"You look the part." It clicked. "That is all that matters."

There were no issues getting inside. Ariadne handed her blaster over to security and was allowed in. A protocol droid led her and SD-550 into an elevator terminal and then up to their booth.

The assassin droid had gotten a few odd looks, but it was an older model; presumably it was the very fine top hat it now wore that attracted attention rather than the rest of its appearance.

The protocol droid shut the door behind them and Ariadne sat down with a sigh. There wasn't much to do until the show started. At least the stage was pretty to look at, with golden neon shining around the edges and a chandelier hovering overhead. Their booth was also located near the very top. Ariadne refrained from looking down.

SD-550 sat next to her in case the protocol droid came back inside. Ariadne glanced over.

"You should wear that hat more often."

"I am glad you think so."

She eyed him for a moment. "Not a chance, huh?"

"None."

"Damn."

They sat in silence for a few awkward minutes. Ariadne stared at the program but didn't really register the words. Some information about actors she didn't really care about and how the opera being preformed was a timeless classic.

It was a profound relief when the lights dimmed.

A woman dressed in red and gold and a lot of jewelry stepped onto the stage. She began singing, alone at first but soon the orchestra joined in. Ariadne pulled a compact blowgun out of her purse and pulled the darts she'd decorated out of her hair, pulling the safety caps off.

SD-550 set to work drilling a hole in the floor. The music provided suitable cover. Ariadne just hoped there weren't any abruptly quiet bits.

The droid waved her over when it was done. Ariadne peeked through the hole as SD-550 disposed of the dust and bits of the floor it had amassed while drilling. The man sitting below her matched the physical description of her mark and he was directly below her. Ariadne was about to move her gaze away to use the blowgun when she spotted something roll into the box, right at her mark's feet.

"Wha-"

The resounding explosion knocked her unconscious.

---

"Mmmhfbb."

SD-550 stared down at her. The droid was carrying her in its arms. Its top hat was askew. "Welcome back."

"W-wuh happened?"

"There was an explosion, milady." Ariadne stared at the droid until she realized they weren't alone. SD-550 was carrying her down the service tunnel that also served as an evacuation route in emergencies. It had been their planned escape route after they’d quietly killed the mark, but now they were joined by nervous theater goers.

SD-550 gently put her down and she leaned against the wall, letting the crowd flow past her as she mentally outlined their next few steps. The droid had put a bandage over a cut on her head and she tried not to mess with it. A nice looking older gentleman stopped and asked if she needed any help, but Ariadne assured him she was fine.

"Alright, let's go."

Once they left the tunnel Ariadne looked around. She could hear sirens and see reflections of the flashing police lights against the building, but it sounded like the authorities were mostly gathered at the front of the opera house. She and SD-550 slunk away just as a CSF officer pulled up in his speeder, directing the crowd towards the front entrance.

They walked down the street in silence down to where they’d parked their airspeeder. Ariadne got in the back seat and sighed, just staring out at the city lights for a moment as SD-550 sat in the driver’s seat. “Why is everything so complicated?”

“I am afraid there is no easy answer for that.”

Ariadne rolled her eyes before she began to change out of the dress and into her usual clothing. “You are so helpful.”

“Philosophy is not one of my strong points.” The droid pulled off the top hat and set it aside.

Ariadne pulled a plain white shirt over her head and clasped on her bracers before zipping up her bolt-resistant jacket. Her pants and boots following soon after. “So there was another assassin.” Ariadne grabbed the blaster under the seat and let it hang from the holster around her waist.

“Affirmative.”

She activated the holographic display in her right bracer as SD-550 stared the airspeeder, putting some distance between them and the opera house. They drove parallel to the building, making sure it didn’t seem like they were driving away from it.

Nadhira took one look at Ariadne as the transmission flickered to life and sighed silently, leaning briefly out of frame to set down her ever-present glass. “What happened?”

“There was interference. The mark is dead, but not by our hand. Did you hire anyone else?”

The crime boss’s brow wrinkled faintly with thought. “No. Burin was not well liked, but I should have been notified if someone else took the job.”

“Yeah, that would have been nice.”

Nadhira inclined her chin. “See what you can find out and report back.”

Ariadne ended the transmission and looked up at SD-550. “Pull over somewhere.”

They ended up in an alleyway a few levels down, though not close enough to the underlevels to make Ariadne worried. She and SD-550 sat side by side, illuminated only by her datapad as they watched the news.

Coming to you live from the Galaxies Opera House in the Uscru District, this is Mira Kaal of Coruscant Local News.” The Mon Calamari stared at the screen solemnly. “Tragedy struck this evening when a small bomb went off inside the Opera House, killing several theater goers including Burin Vest, CEO of Vest Furniture and Co., and injuring several others. Authorities looking into the incident have suggested that the bomb was planted in order to assassinate the businessman. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but authorities are attempting to track down the few individuals who have been reported missing.

As the reporter was speaking, the holovision showed several overhead shots of the Opera House, smoking billowing from a window that had been broken in the blast. Apparently something had caught fire.

When it cut back to the reporter, Ariadne swore at the sight of her standing next to one of the Jedi Knights she recognized from their last job. “What’s she doing here?”

Here with me is Jedi Knight Keelu Afric. Jedi Afric, could you explain the presence of you and your partner here at the Opera House? Is the Jedi Council retaking interest in Coruscant’s affairs?

The Jedi smiled pleasantly, but it seemed rather strained to Ariadne, “The Council is handling its own affairs on Tython. Jedi Alen Isoder and I have chosen to remain on Coruscant in what we hope is a gesture of goodwill to the Senate. We believe this assassination may be related to the murder of Senator Kaila Madine. It is our sincere hope that this investigation proves successful.

The interview went on for a few minutes, but Ariadne learned nothing more of use. She shut her datapad off when the holonews moved on to a list of scheduled weather for the local sector. “I should have been paid a lot more for that job. Jedi trying to track us down is the last thing we need.”

“It is rather unfortunate development.” SD-550 looked at her. “Our plan?”

“Find Veitsi, see what he knows.”

Veitsi wasn’t his real name, any more than Ariadne was her own. He was a Bothan who lived near the underlevels, and the best slicer she knew.

The canine-faced bothan turned away from his many holonet screens to meet her with a smile as she and SD-550 approached. “Ariadne! My favorite killer-lady. What can I do for you?”

She carefully stepped over the many wires and spare parts lying on the floor. “I need you to get me some footage.”

Veitsi grinned and turned back to his many screens. “Can do, can do… Though I need you to be a bit more specific. Coruscant does have an awful lot of footage lying around.”

“Galaxies Opera House. Tonight. Booths… 3057 and 3055.”

“The Opera House? I heard about that. You weren’t behind that, were you?”

“I’m not that sloppy.”

The Bothan chuckled. It took him a few minutes, but eventually he was able to pull up the footage Ariadne wanted.

The holocam in booth 3057 showed an elderly couple sitting and talking happily. Veitsi fast-forwarded until they both looked over, alarmed, at the explosion. The woman placed a hand over her mouth in horror at something the cam couldn’t see. Probably Burin-bits.

“Check the other one.”

Booth 3055 was rented out to a lone human. He did not turn and face the camera, but then again, neither had the couple. He walked with the gait of a younger man and his hair was black; she couldn’t make out any traces of grey.

He sat calmly in the provided seat as the show began. Then he got up, pulled a helmet on, and walked over to the edge of his booth, where he casually tossed a grenade into Burin Vest’s own booth.

The man pulled out a blaster and shot out the holocam, but not before giving it a glimpse of the T-shaped visor on his helmet. The film went black.

“Subtle.” SD-550 droned.

“How the heck did he get all that stuff in there?” The bothan asked in disbelief.

“You can bribe anyone in this city if you have enough credits.” Ariadne sighed. It had been a very long day. “A Mandalorian… This night just keeps getting better and better.”

“You’re not lookin’ too great, either, hotshot. How’s the head?” She followed his gaze up to the bandage on her forehead.

“I’m fine.”

He gave her a concerned look, but accepted her payment without comment and let her go. Back in the speeder, Ariadne contacted Nadhira again.

“Someone hired a Mandalorian to kill Burin.”

“I know.”

Ariadne stared at the holograph. “You know? Then why-”

Nadhira almost smiled, but not quite. “Do you really think I got where I am today putting all of my faith in one person? You amuse me, little Ari.”

Ariadne frowned unhappily. “So now what?”

“I have people looking into it, but I’m already fairly certain he’s new in town.” Nadhira leaned back in her chair and propped her Crystal Snakeskin boots up on the desk. “I would like you to go find him.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to let the CSF handle that?” Ariadne was a staunch supporter of law enforcement when they worked to her advantage.

“CSF is a joke right now, thanks to our friends the Sith.” Nadhira smiled faintly. “It makes for smoother business, but I find myself taking matters into my own hands more often than I used to. Find him and make him an offer.”

“What about the one who hired him?”

Silence stretched long enough between them for Ariadne to pick out distant sobs and shrieking pleas from the rest of the background noise. Nadhira’s smile widened.

---

SD-550 broke the silence as they drove to where the Mandalorian apparently resided—Nadhira had sent some coordinates along, apparently from the one who’d hired him in the first place. Ariadne didn’t pity him very much.

“We should get out while we still can.”

“I know.” She said.

“Nadhira may provide good credits, but working for her is dangerous.”

“This isn’t exactly a safe profession, Sid.”

The droid clicked. “I am aware. However, the danger is not environmental. She is an organic who values control over others. It is her nature to attempt to bind us to her service.”

Ariadne smiled faintly. She watched as the city went by. “You don’t think we can outstep her?”

“I think we cannot do it forever.”

The Mandalorian was staying at a hotel that could be judged as modest by Coruscant standards. The lobby was empty—Ariadne had decided to talk to him in the middle of the night. Nadhira had been kind enough to include a room number, so they headed right up. The two stood outside his room. Ariadne fiddled with her hair. “I hate jobs where we have to talk to people.”

“Shall I do the talking?” SD-550 asked.

“No, no… I got it. Just nervous, is all.” She knocked.

Ariadne heard a woman’s voice pause. He wasn’t alone?

The man who answered the door a moment later had black hair and brown eyes. There was some stubble on his chin and his nose looked like it had been broken several times. There was also a large combat knife holstered in his belt.

Ariadne held her blaster to his abdomen and smiled politely.

“Hello.” She said. “I’d like to talk.”

The Mandalorian blinked a few times. “Didn’t realize room service came at gunpoint here.”

“Less ‘room service’ and more ‘aggressive negotiations’. Could I come in, please?”

He raised a scruffy eyebrow. "Do you mind if I turn off the holovid, first? I doubt you'd enjoy it."

"My droid can take care of it. Hands behind your head."

"Hmmm…” He made a show of eyeing her up and down. “Or what? You'll shoot me?"

"Yes, I would. And then I'd restrain you and call the CSF."

"I doubt they could fly up here. They weigh their speeders down far too much for that.”

"I have no qualms about dragging you down the elevator terminal if they can’t make it up here.” She nudged him with her blaster.

He looked at her for a moment longer, then did as she asked. “Fine. However, I must insist upon turning off the holovid. Otherwise it'll unpause automatically and that'd be just awkward.”

“I think I can handle a bit of awkwardness."

SD-550 reached forward and removed the Mandalorian’s knife from its sheath. The blade flashed in the light. Ariadne turned the bounty hunter around and noticed a blaster tucked in the back of his belt.

She guided the Mandalorian into the room with one hand on his shoulder, her blaster pressed to his back. SD-550 shut and sealed the door. She heard the bounty hunter grumble what sounded an awful like a string of obscenities and smiled.

The room was sparse, which was what she expected for a hotel of its quality. There was no one else in the room. She briefly glanced at the proj’ and saw some sort of holovid.

Ariadne pulled the blaster from his belt and motioned him onto his knees. SD-550 stepped forward, the switchblade in the droid’s arm coming out with a low ‘shnk’. It held it to the Mandalorian’s throat. Ariadne set his blaster on the nightstand and set herself on the bed in front of him.

"Let's start with names. I'm Ariadne."

He looked at her very seriously. "I am Prince Hinkenplutz. The lady on the projector over there is Isabel, a poor farmer from Dantooine who is doing anything she can to get by in the big c-“

He grunted in pain as her boot connect with his face, blood streaming from his mouth and nose. The Mandalorian coughed and spat it onto the carpet.

“Fine, Ariadne. I’m Cyric. Bounty Hunter.”

"I want to talk to you about the job at the opera house, Cyric.”

“What about it?”

"You ruffled a few feathers with that job, mainly because you got in the way of other people trying to do it. My... Boss wasn't happy, but she sent me to make you an offer. You work for her, or I leave you here and call th-"

The holovid automatically unpaused. “… I really need this job, sir. Are sure there’s nothing I could do to… Get ahead of the competition?

She felt her cheeks redden. “-call the CSF saying I know the location of Burin Vest's murderer.”

"Are you just upset because I beat you to killing the bastard?" He smirked at her. "I hate to say I told you so, by the way."

"I'm not upset." She said too quickly. There were a few suggestive noises from the proj'. It sounded like Isabel’s job interview was going very well. "I'm here because my boss thinks you'd be of use to her. It's either that or rot in a jail cell."

"Great. Jail or work for a dar’ijaa’yc boss."

"She's not that bad, really—she didn't pay me to kill you outright, for example."

"That really makes me feel better, thanks."

“I-“ There was a particularly loud moan from the holo projector. Ariadne raised her blaster and shot it. A few sparks and a puff of smoke rose from the device.

“… That's going to be on my bill now."

“You won’t be here in the morning, so it doesn’t matter either way. I'd like an answer, speaking of which.”

"You can wait while I think. No need to add pressure to this."

"I’d prefer not to stay up all night."

"Feel free to sleep. Not like I can escape like this.” He smiled at her. “As for an answer… It looks like I don't have much of a choice."

"Not really, no." She stood and flexed a bit. Something about the Mandalorian’s smile bothered her. “You'll have to come with me to speak to Nadhira in the morning."

"I'm looking forward to it oh so much."

"She pays well, if it’s any comfort." Ariadne looked around the room, picking up Cyric’s helmet and examining it absently. "Hmm. What to with you 'til morning."

"Beats me. I have the unenviable position of being held at knife point."

"It suits you." Ariadne tucked his helmet under her arm and walked into the bathroom, coming out with a towel. She tossed it to him. "Can't say the same about the blood, though. How's your nose?"

The bounty hunter caught the towel, wiping up the blood from his face, though he was careful not to bump SD-550’s arm—it still held the knife to his throat. "It’s fine." He reached up and reset it with a low crack. He winced, but no sound accompanied the grimace.

Ariadne sat down on the bed again. “If it makes you feel any better, you gave me this." She briefly touched the bandage on her temple. "I was in the booth above Burin's when it blew."

"I'd rather have done it to his face, but the employer was particular about making it a large public statement."

"Those jobs are the worst." Ariadne eyed the bounty hunter thoughtfully. She nodded at SD-550, who reluctantly stepped away from the man. She watched him carefully as he rose to his feet and nodded curtly. “What now?"

"We could stay here until morning. I need to keep an eye on you." She frowned slightly but shrugged. "Sorry."

"Not exactly the worst assignment.” That smirk again. “However, there isn't really much to do, is there?"

"Nope. Means I’m in for an all-nighter either way." Ariadne frowned. "Killing people outright makes things a lot less complicated."

"Indeed.” Cyric looked at her pointedly. “We could've continued watching that if you had turned the projector off rather than shot it."

Ariadne raised a brow. "For some reason, I still don't regret my decision."

"The story was rather nice."

"I'm sure you were just watching it for the plot."

"I don't come into so called 'civilized' space often. I'd heard about this stuff before, so I thought I should try it out. Honestly, it was rather dull."

"I'm sure." She leaned back against the wall. "So where are you from?"

"Mandalore."

"Out on the Outer Rim? You weren't kidding about not being in civilized space too often."

The Bounty Hunter shrugged. “Some of our greatest warriors have come from there.”

"You'll have to tell me more about them when it's not the middle of the night."

"If we're going to work together or some such, maybe I will."

Ariadne eyed him. "I don't usually work with others, my assassin droid aside."

"Good. Means I can go about jobs my own way without having to sneak around."

She raised a brow. "Is there something wrong with sneaking around?"

"Lacks honor."

"I think you'll be quick to find that honor gets you killed on this world."

"Mandos' are trained warriors, each worth twenty of any other military force. We can stand against Jedi one on one and we are feared throughout the galaxy. This isn't simply because of an honourable code but because of our skill. I don’t think I’ll be killed any time soon because I play by the rules."

Ariadne looked from the bloody towel on the floor, to his blaster on the nightstand, then back to the Mandalorian, who frowned.

"You caught me with my pants down. Quite literally, in f-."

"You can spare me the details.”

He chuckled and motioned to one of the many closets in the room. "If you open that, you'd see why Jedi do not stand a chance. Or those siit bastards. Honorless scum."

Siit? You mean the Sith?"

"Mhm. In that closet I keep a small collection of blades. Most are woven so that they are resistant against Lightsabers."

Ariadne glanced over at the closet. "Good to know." Her gaze flicked to SD-550, who briefly met her gaze.

"Mm. Well.” Cyric rolled one of his shoulders. “Feel free to sleep if you need it. I'm going to take a shower."

Ariadne let him go, though she didn’t relax, not even as she heard the sonic shower go on. Instead, she looked over at SD-550 and said, “What do you think?”

“Presumably he is capable of dealing with Jedi.”

“Yeah. That’s what I want him around for.”

“Organics introduce unpredictable variables into the equation. Working with him might beget... Complications.”

“I know. But those Jedi are still out there and looking for us. If they get the jump on us, I don’t want it to be just you and me. That would end very badly. We’ll keep him close for a little while and then move on.”

SD-550 nodded.

Ariadne sat there for a moment before she got up and opened the closet. She pulled out a case and flicked it open. “Gimme his knife.”

The assassin droid held it out to her, handle first. She selected a blade of roughly equal size and switched the two, tucking the lightsaber-resistant knife in an inside pocket of her jacket.

“I doubt stealing from him will garner you much of his support.”

“Yeah, well, if things go south with our Mandalorian friend I want a little extra security.” She shut the case and redid the clasps before she shoved it back in the closet.

Ariadne sat back down on the bed. She left Nadhira a message summarizing her meeting with the bounty hunter in case something happened to her en route. She’d given him several chances to attack her and he hadn’t taken them, so hopefully that meant he was smart enough to work for Nadhira for a while.

She half-expected Cyric to come bursting out of the fresher with a weapon wired together from various bathroom appliances, but his hands were empty as he stepped back out, fully dressed. They packed up his belongings (not much aside from the few weapon cases; she hoped he had permits for them) and left the hotel.

---

The White Spade was eerily quiet when they arrived. The sun was just beginning to shine through the smog, reflecting off the buildings that towered overhead. Ariadne stepped over a drunk passed out on the pavement as she walked inside.

"This way."

They walked across the club floor, a hushed expectation filling the air. The staff had cleaned up and gone to bed for the night. The bottles shone behind the shelf and the poles were free of fingerprints.

They headed up a staircase. Ariadne nodded to the heavily-armed bruiser.

"Cain."

"Ariadne."

He let them pass with a stifled yawn. They stepped onto the balcony, and though the rest of the club was still visible below, the glass around them was tinted a deep black to hide them from view. Nadhira's high-heeled boots rested atop her desk, one hand wrapped around the stem of her glass and the other tapping out a quiet rhythm against her thigh as she leaned back in her seat. Her eyes slid over the Mandalorian, impassive.

"So. This is him?"

Ariadne nodded tiredly.

"To use a cliche, I was expecting someone taller.” Cyric said. But he offered a respectful pose, standing at attention. Ariadne frowned at Cyric’s back as she sat down. She tried not to let her weariness show.

"That's what I hire people for." Nadhira replied smoothly. It wasn’t the first time Ariadne heard someone say that to her.

"I'm not about to be hired to stand on someone's shoulders."

"No. I hire people to kill other people, or, if necessary, bring them in screaming." She examined him over the rim of her glass, the corners of her mouth turning upwards in a way that reminded Ariadne of a snake. "You want a challenge?"

“Depends.”

"This is no businessman or civilian."

“Hmm... Go on.”

"Svok Ktam was one of my best enforcers, until he decided to leave. Ran to the CSF, not that they're of any use, and started spilling... Important information left and right. He's an Iridonian, trained extensively in hand-to-hand combat. He's been a thorn in my side lately." Her eyes narrowed slightly. "I want him dealt with."

The bounty hunter snorted. “You said you’d give me a challenge.”

"And I was told Mandalorians were intelligent, but if you underestimate him like that I was clearly wrong."

“What about the pay?”

Nadhira raised her eyebrows. "You’ll get it when he’s dead."

Cyric scowled. “Fine. Anything else?”

“Ariadne will accompany you.”

“... Great.”

“I presume that’s everything.” She smiled and simply stared at them.

Ariadne stood and placed a hand on Cyric’s shoulder. “Come on.” She said softly. Nadhira was done speaking with them.

The Bounty Hunter looked at the crime boss and gave a stiff bow. “Haat, ijaa, haa'it.” He turned and followed Ariadne down the stairs.

“What did you say?”

"It's a saying used after making a pact or a deal. Doesn't exactly apply in this case, really. Truth, Honor, Vision."

Ariadne laughed. “No, not really.” Her laughter faded down to a smile. “When do you want to head out?”

He shrugged. “Whenever you are ready.”

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’d like to get some sleep first. Food, too.” She glanced over at him. “Do you have a place to stay?”

“I do not.”

"You can spend the night at my apartment. The Spade isn't exactly the kind of place where you want to let your guard down for a nap."

"That would be kind of dishonorable, living at the home of a woman I hardly know."

"You could always stay here and get shanked in your sleep."

He smirked and ran a hand over his nose where she’d kicked him earlier. "As appealing as that sounds, I guess I could deal with the slight stain on my honor."

"Don't worry. I'll make you sleep on the couch and give you a stern lecture about getting any ideas." Ariadne winced as they stepped out into the sunlight. SD-550 moved off to get the airspeeder as she glanced over at the bounty hunter.

Cyric scanned the street in a casual manner that belied the awareness behind it. "I've already had plenty of ideas."

"... I also have an assassin droid that would be more than happy to stab you." She said idly.

"I'm sure the feeling is mutual."

"Sid does seem to have taken a particular shine to you." Ariadne smiled brightly. SD-550 pulled the airspeeder up and she climbed in the passenger seat. Cyric got in the back, grumbling something under his breath in Mando’a. “Where do you live, anyways?” He asked.

"I have an apartment in this district. I don't think my couch is as comfortable as a hotel bed, but as long as you aren't allergic to cats you'll be fine."

He snorted. "That would be.. Embarrassing."

Ariadne laughed again. “I guess we’ll find out.”

It only took a few minutes to get to her apartment. The main room was a hybrid of a kitchen, dining and living room, decorated mostly in muted greens. Another door led off to what was presumably the bedroom.

The sun was already well in the sky by the time they entered. Despite this, two of her cats came over to greet her, the other two hanging back and watching Cyric distrustfully. SD-550 moved past them to set the bounty hunter’s weapons down out of sight.

She watched Cyric’s gaze flick to the one window with the white curtain and the heavy door that led to her room as he bent down to pet Snowball. “It’s... Nice, I guess.”

Ariadne picked up the calico that came to greet her. “It’s home... And it’s a lot better than what most people have on Coruscant. That’s Snowball you’re petting, by this way. This is Shana and over there are Reign and Jazzy.”

"I don't doubt it's better than most. I'm used to a far less extravagant existence. Nice cats, though."

“Thanks.” Ariadne gently set Shana down. “Feel free to pet any of them, they’re all pretty well behaved. I’ll be right back.”

She left Cyric alone with SD-550 and the cats while she found a spare sheet and blanket, which she spread over the couch. “I’d give you the bed, but my room is a wreck.”

"It's quite alright. How long do you plan on keeping me here?"

“Until we get the job done, I guess. I just need to get some sleep and I doubt Nadhira would be pleased if I let the happy residents of the Spade have their way with you.”

"Ugh. No thanks.” He grimaced. “Sleep well. I'm sorry for any noise, but I'd like to make preparations for the mission tomorrow."

“It’s fine. I sleep pretty heavily... It’s one of the reasons I have Sid.” She smiled. “Night. Or... Morning, rather.”

"Good night."

The door closed behind her and Ariadne sighed. She undid the tie that held her hair up and let it fall around her shoulders as she walked into her fresher. She peeled off the bandage SD-550 had given her and she winced at the sight of the cut.

She sprayed it with kolto and applied a fresh bandage with the vague hope the wound remained uninfected. After brushing her teeth she walked back into her bedroom and unzipped her jacket, where it fell to the floor with a heavy thunk.

She picked up the cortosis-weave dagger and examined it more closely. The handle was a bloodied dark brown and the grip was good. It looked well used... And it hadn’t been damaged when she’d dropped it.

Ariadne set the blade under her pillow and pulled off her pants and boots. She started to mentally outline the steps she wanted to take for killing Svok, but Cyric would have most of the information on the mark on his datapad, once Nadhira sent it along.

Ariadne sighed and lied back. She stared at the ceiling, too tired to think anymore.

As the day began, she fell asleep.

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 06:35 PM | #3
Step Three:

Use aforementioned Mandalorian (see step two) to keep the Jedi from killing you.


Ariadne stepped out of her bedroom in the usual clothing that she wore for jobs. A blaster hung from one hip, her mask from the other. She saw Cyric sitting on the couch with a bowl of Ewok-O’s (“Now with new marshmellow shapes!”) in full armor save for his helmet. He was watching something on the holoscreen, but glanced at her and nodded as she walked in. “Morning.”

She followed his gaze back to the holoscreen for a brief moment to catch a glimpse of her favorite holodrama. "Oooh. This is a good episode." She watched for a moment and then walked past him, grabbing the bag of bread off the counter. Ariadne put a piece of toast in the therma-slice and pushed the lever down.

"Sleep at all last night?"

"A bit. Wasn't all that tired. I can get plenty of rest once I've killed that Zabrak."

Ariadne shrugged and poured herself a glass of blue milk. “There’s time to rest before the job, too. Sleep deprivation is a shi—tty way to end up making a mistake.”

“I will not make a mistake. Why doesn't she just kill that guy to be with the one she really loves?"

Ariadne glanced back up at the projector. She grabbed her toast and wandered over as she leaned against the back of the couch.

"She tries that in an episode or two. Poison. Very dramatic."

"Poison?! Bah! In fact, the man she loves should kill the other guy...” He gestured vaguely, “The one that knocked her up. Challenge him to a duel and slay him in single combat."

"They're civilians. I think any single combat would have to be styled as comedy." She reached over and patted Cyric's head. "Try not to overthink it."

"Mmmhhh...” He shifted his weight on the couch and frowned. “At the very least, this gives me valuable insight into your culture. I didn't realise Republic citizens were so... Dramatic."

She laughed. "If it makes you feel any better, most of them think this show is trash. I just have bad taste in holodramas."

"It's not really that bad, I suppose." He absently reached over, giving Reign a few pats on the head. The feline rubbed up against his armor, purring happily.

"Nah. It's pretty terrible." Ariadne grinned and finished the last of her toast. "I'm ready to head off when you are. Nadhira sent you the address through her datapad, yeah?"

Cyric stood and took his bowl of Ewok-O’s to the sink. That done, he put on his helmet. It was still painfully Mandalorian in style, but she’d made him recolor it—no doubt the CSF had seen the same holocam footage she had. "She did."

Ariadne nodded. "Good. Let's go."

---

They parked the airspeeder in an alleyway down the street and headed around to where the holodisplay of Svok’s apartment indicated there was a backdoor. The Works was a grimy place, choked with smog and ash. The alleyway was no better, covered in hastily scrawled graffiti and filled with trash.

They were almost to the door when something landed ahead of them with a clang, tossed down from the roof. It took Ariadne a second too realize was it was. A second to long.

“Get d-!”

The flashbang went off and there was no time for her to do anything but try and look away. Her ears rang and her vision swam. Someone grabbed her arm and tried to pull her to her feet—she hadn’t realized she’d fallen, but she certainly wasn’t getting up again any time soon.

They mumbled something in her ear and let her go. She moved backwards until the grimy alley wall hit her back. Then she turned to the side and ripped her mask off just in time to throw up. She blinked hard to try and clear her vision, fumbling for her blaster. She had it halfway out of its holster when someone grabbed her hands, moved them behind her back, and then locked them in binders.

Ariadne mused that this was not her best day ever.

Her ears still rang painfully and black spots clouded her gaze. She tried to move the binders around to her front but she was still too disoriented from the flashbang. Someone grabbed her roughly by the arm. Ariadne just managed to make out the features of the zabrak. “Get up.” He hissed.

She braced her legs like she was going to stand, then did so—though probably not in the way he intended. When her head hit his nose, there was a satisfying crack. Svok cursed.

He hit her hard enough to knock her out.

---

When Ariadne awoke, everything was dark and, more importantly, her wrists were still cuffed behind her back. They protested vehemently as she started to move, and she winced. She raised her head, and thankfully no wave of dizziness accompanied the movement. She seemed to have gotten her sense of balance back, though the darkness of the room wasn’t helping too much.

Ariadne started to try and push herself up into a sitting position but the pain from her wrists made her pause. She had to get the binders off. Then she could worry about where she was.

Her eyes watered as she strained her wrists against the cuffs, slipping them around her body. It took a few minutes, but in the end her hands were in front of her. Ariadne reached into her jacket and pulled out a key.

It wasn’t too well known a fact, but binders- even made by different manufacturers- all used the same key with rare exceptions. While the fact no doubt made things easier for law enforcement (who were good at making sure prisoners didn’t do things like move their cuffs around to their front) and for people who accidentally handcuffed themselves to things, it also made life a lot easier for Ariadne.

Her eyes had adjusted to the dark enough to make out the bright red rings around her sore wrists. She rubbed them and shook her hands before she put the binders back on, but this time much higher up on her arms. When they fell, she made sure she could pull her hands out when she needed to.

Ariadne sat back down and closed her eyes. She had no idea where SD-550 and Cyric were. Presumably they were alive, but...

The door opened and Ariadne winced. The zabrak walked into the room and kicked her in the side with little ceremony. She clenched her jaw and fell, unable to keep her balance with her hands behind her back.

“See where your assassin is now?”

Ariadne glanced up at the holographic display. She hadn’t realized Svok had taken her bracer. Nadhira’s holographic image looked down at her, reclining in her chair back in the White Spade. There was no expression to be read on the crime boss’s face—certainly not any pity or concern. “Well done, Svok. I expected no less of you. And what is your intent now?”

He sneered and turned the bracer around so he could talk to her. "My intent? How brazen! I have your pathetic assassin, and the contemptible Mandalorian and droid you sent with her have been killed—with no small amount of satisfaction, I dare say, by my allies.” He gave a harsh bark of laughter. "You know that dog, once given a taste of fresh blood, only lives to taste it again. I'd watch myself, were I you!"

Ariadne's expression did not change at the news, but she glanced away. SD-550 couldn’t be dead. And Cyric... Svok noticed the movement and grinned. "This is only the beginning." He looked back at Nadhira. "I'll see all of you behind bars for the atrocities you've committed."

Nadhira raised her martini to her lips, her eyes fixed solely on Zabrak. A smile hid behind the rim of her glass. "Perhaps we will, Svok. Have you told the CSF about your time in Lab B? Or about your activities before? You have some phenomenal stories to tell them about my atrocities." Nadhira tilted her head, smiling still.

The zabrak paled at the mention of Lab B, but his expression hardened. “You presume to—!" He bared his teeth. "You think you've achieved more than you have, wretch. Like a old wife's nagging words, you are soon forgotten!"

"You think very highly of yourself, Svok. Thinking you of all things are my measuring stick for achievements." A low chuckle followed and she took a sip from her glass.

Ariadne carefully moved her left hand out of the binder while the zabrak was distracted.

"As well I should!” Svok spat furiously. “You have no IDEA what I've managed to—"

She’d pushed herself up and kicked Svok’s leg. The zabrak went down hard and Ariadne made sure he stayed that way, grabbing the binders and shoving them against his neck before she moved behind him. She pulled the chain as tight as it would go.

Svok dropped her bracer but the holographic display stayed on. Ariadne pulled the binders so hard her hands went numb. She ignored the painful jabs the Zabrak dealt her with his elbows, but she was forced to jerk her face away as he clawed at her in desperation. She wasn’t quite fast enough, however—her cheeks and lips stung, and she soon tasted blood.

Nadhira watched and smiled.

It took much longer than she would have liked. Strangling was never her preferred method of execution. Svok’s thrashing slowed and his blows weakened as she cut off his air supply. The binders dug into her palm hard enough to draw blood, but eventually the zabrak stilled.

Silence settled over the room and was broken only by the sound of slow, deliberate applause.

"Well played, little Ari. I was almost afraid I would have to call Navine and her friend." Nadhira lifted her glass again, but did not drink.

Ariadne clenched her jaw and suppressed the urge to scream some very choice words at her boss. Instead, she let go of the binders with numb fingers, blood dripping from her palms. She took a few breaths and checked the mark’s pulse. He did not have one. “It’s done.”

"As you have supplied proof- in an... Unorthodox manner, but proof nevertheless- I will wire the credits to you immediately. And you may wish to know, my techs are still picking up SD's tracker signal. It’s still active. Svok got ahead of himself."

She spat out the blood that had dripped into her mouth and wiped the rest away before she nodded. “I’ll go meet up with it and see if the Mandalorian’s still alive.”

"Please do—and make sure to see the doctor, Ari." She smiled and cut the transmission.

Ariadne stood, the scratches on her face burning and her palms dripping with blood from the cuts. Her sides burned from where the mark had elbowed her and she walked with one arm wrapped around her waist. She wouldn’t be surprised if he’d cracked one of her ribs.

It took a few minutes of wandering around to find a door that led to the street. The holographic display showed a map of the area, and Ariadne limped towards SD-550’s signal. Svok hadn’t taken her far.

SD-550 met her at the entryway to the alley. The droid placed a hand on her arm as she walked by and she nodded. “I’m fine. Cyric in there?”

“Affirmative, bu-”

Ariadne stopped at the threshold of the alleyway. “Cyric.” She ran to him, her side burning as she upped her pace. The Mandalorian was lying on the dirty ground in a puddle of his own blood. With his helmet on, she couldn’t tell if he was dead or merely unconscious.

“Sid, go get the speeder.” There was no reply, only the whirring, clicking sound as the droid broke into a run.

She turned her attention back to the fallen Mandalorian. She carefully removed his dented helmet and set it aside, searching for a pulse. She couldn’t find one. Ariadne bit her lip and swore. She fought with the buckles and straps of his chestpiece and pulled it off. She winced at the sight of the jagged wound going across his chest. It looked like he’d been burned...

Ariadne glanced up at the two corpses sprawled on the ground. She stood and limped over. They wore dark brown robes, now stained with blood, and the male had an extinguished lightsaber resting in his limp hand.

The woman she recognized as Jedi Knight Keelu Afic, from the holonews broadcast. Ariadne looked back over at Cyric’s fallen form. “I’m sorry.” She whispered.

The repulsolift engine hummed as SD-550 parked the airspeeder just outside the alleyway. The assassin droid stalked over, whirring gently. “If he’s dead, we need to leave him, Ariadne. We cannot afford to traverse Corsucant with a cadaver.”

“I know, Sid.” She rested her head on Cyric’s chest, listening for a heartbeat. Ariadne didn’t trust her cut and bleeding hands to find his pulse—something she knew wasn’t easy to find even in the best of times.

There was a heartbeat. It was faint, but it was there.

“He’s alive for now.” She wiped her eyes. “We have to get him to Doc. Help me get him to the airspeeder.”

It wasn’t easy, but after some careful maneuvering they managed to get him in the backseat. Ariadne grabbed her mask, his helmet and after a moment of consideration the Lightsaber hilts of the two fallen Jedi and threw them in the front seat. She sat in the back with Cyric, letting him rest his head on her lap.

She was worried he would die on the way over. The fact that they had to go the speed limit didn’t help matters. They couldn’t risk the chance of being pulled over—there was no way the CSF would let them walk away with bloodied weapons and masks in the front seat and an unconscious man in the back.

Ariadne squeezed his hand gently. “Just a few more minutes and we’ll be there. Hang on.”

---

“Doc”’s real name was Lir’ik Kon. He was a grubby Caamasi and lived dangerously close to the Underlevels. Ariadne had heard the Caamasi were generally pleasant to be around, but there was always an exception to the rule, and Doc was that.

“Someone’s here!” He trilled as soon as Ariadne knocked on the door. The bat-faced humanoid grinned at her, showing far too many teeth for just one mouth. “Ariadne! Welcome to my humble abode, please don’t mind the mes-”

“Doc, it’s an emergency.”

He looked past her at the Mandalorian in SD-550’s arms.”Whelp, bring ‘em in!” The Caamasi examined him as SD-550 carried him inside. Ariadne trailed after.

“I’ll have to take ‘im into the OR.” He looked up, “Just nest yourself down comfort-”

“Go fix him up, Doc.”

Doc mumbled something under his breath and stalked away. SD-550 placed the Mandalorian on a stretcher and a surgical droid followed its master into the OR.

Ariadne watched them go. She stood there aimlessly until another droid approached her. “Do you require medical assistance?” It chipped.

Ariadne looked down at her hands, caked with died blood. It was all over her jacket, too. She’d be stopped on the street in a heartbeat if they were on any of the higher levels. “Just gimme a bandage for my hands.”

The droid beeped in acknowledgment and wandered off. Ariadne looked around and sat on a chair against a wall. The waiting room was lit only by a harsh light that made the greenish off-white walls and floor appear stark and dreary. She shifted her position slightly. Not that she didn’t trust Doc, but...

“I have the requested bandages.” The droid beeped. SD-550 watched it distrustfully as Ariadne held her hands out. The droid cleaned the blood from her hands and bandaged the cuts. She flexed her fingers. “Does Doc happen to have any clothing I could borrow?” She gestured to her bloodstained jacket.

The droid processed for a moment, then beeped again. “There is one thing. I shall return momentarily.”

---

Ariadne stared at the outfit the droid brought out. “... You’re kidding.”

The droid looked at her. “Is something the matter, miss?”

She took the outfit and examined it. “I... No. It’s just more... Frilly than- it’s fine, thank you. Is there somewhere I could change?”

“Right this way, miss.”

She could have sworn SD-550 chuckled as she walked away.

Ariadne knew she shouldn’t be surprised Doc had a nurse outfit lying around. She knew she also shouldn’t be surprised it wasn’t an “official” nurse outfit. While it showed far more of her midriff than she was comfortable with, she supposed she should be thankful it wasn’t worse. The top looked terrible with her pants (which had not gotten blood on them, thank the stars), but it’d do.

The spectacular rainbow of bruises forming along her ribcage was a different matter, but the medical droid had given her a kolto patch for that. Now that she felt like she wasn’t going to keel over, Ariadne called Nadhira again.

The human allowed her unnatural yellow eyes to flick over Ariadne. "The Doc must've gotten very good with the fine print in his contracts if he can get you to bang him. Either that or you really like that Mando'ad."

“I got blood on my jacket. I don’t want to be arrested the second a CSF officer looks at me when we head to the upper levels.” She shook her head. "But that’s not why I’m calling—why did you send me after Svok? What was his latest activity?"

“Why are you asking, little Ari?" Her eyes narrowed, almost imperceptibly, and her long fingers clutched a little tighter around the stem of the glass she had in hand.

"I believe he contacted the two Jedi I've been playing tag with and used them to set an ambush.”

Ariadne had the pleasure of watching Nadhira’s eyes widen. She looked away from the holo towards someone off of the camera. "Would someone care to explain how this information slipped through the net?" There was something mumbled in the background and she sneered before turning back to the holo. "We'll look into it." She said simply.

Ariadne paused and bit the inside of her cheek before asking the question she really dreaded. "Do you think there will be follow-up from the Jedi Council for this?"

"It's possible," Nadhira said, reclining against her usual couch and bringing the glass to her lips, expressionless. "We will keep an eye out. If they do bring consequences, they will not be on me." She raised her eyebrows pointedly.

Ariadne bowed her head briefly. "Understood."

"Nevertheless..." Nadhira lowered the glass again, examining Ariadne's holographic image. She smiled once more, slowly. "I have an idea."

The assassin raised a brow when the crime boss did not elaborate. "... Could I hear it?"

She shook her head. "Not until I know this could put me in danger. Otherwise it may well be a pointless waste of my resources. You do that enough."

Ariadne resisted the impulse to say something she’d regret. "Understood." She said again. "I'll keep an eye out for information as well."

"Keep me up to date, Ariadne. I'll let you know if I find anything on these Jedi. Tell the good Doctor I say hello—and Ari, darling? Leave those kinds of outfits to the models." She grinned and cut the transmission abruptly.

“Well, that was refreshingly clear.” SD-550 whirred.

Ariadne sat back in the chair and sighed, uncomfortable in the tight outfit. She was going to punch Doc when he came out of the OR. “We should at least get some sort of warning. Hopefully the Jedi Council realizes Coruscant is too hot.” She ran a bandaged hand through her hair. “Kriff, I should have never accepted that job from that Imp.”

SD-550 glanced down at her. “Speaking of Imperials... Perhaps we should attempt improve our reputation with the Empire. The Jedi Council is in no position to do anything about someone under their protection.”

She drummed her fingernails on the arms of the chair. “Depends on whether or not the Empire’ll
agree to giving me any protection. Nadhira sure as hell won’t lift a finger, the heartless bi—tch.”

“Still, it merits looking into.” The droid gestured to the doors that led to the OR, “He cannot protect you forever.”

“I know.” She said quietly.

The hours slowly ticked by. Ariadne browsed through a few Holonet articles lying on the table as she and SD-550 discussed their next moves. They could only plan so far ahead, though; the next move belonged to the Jedi Council.

Ariadne was dosing off when the door opened and Cyric limped out. His chest was heavily bandaged and he was leaning on a crutch, but he was alive. He looked at Ariadne in the outfit she’d borrowed from Doc and blinked. Several times.

“... Osik. I knew I died.”

Doc absolutely cackled as he stepped out of the OR after Cyric. “I knew keepin’ that ol’ thing around was a good id-”

He stopped at the sight of Ariadne pointing her blaster at him. “I swear by my frilly nurse outfit, I will shoot you, Doc.”

The Caamasi took a step backwards, hands raised. “No need to cause a fuss.”

She smiled at him. “Why don’t you go follow your own advice?”

Doc looked at her for a moment longer, then nodded quickly several times, “I’ll just- be back here- gotta...” He disappeared into the back room.

Cyric watched him, then looked back at Ariadne and SD-550. An awkward silence settled over the room.

“I... Uhh... I like the outfit, there.”

“That makes one of us.” Ariadne stood and shoved her blaster back into its holster as she walked over to Cyric. “Doc fix you up alright?”

He shrugged, then winced. “Can’t exactly complain. Everything still works.”

“Good. He’s a scumbag, but he does good work. It’s why Nadhira keeps him around. Ready to go?” She gave him a concerned look.

"I guess.. I think I'll need to take it easy though... Might need some.. uhh.. nursing."

Ariadne’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “You get away with that because you’re coming off the anesthesia.”

"Come off it. I killed two Jedi. You doubted I could do that. What chance do you think you've got, eh?" He grinned in a playful manner, but soon winced again.

She took his arm that wasn't occupied by the crutch and helped him walk towards the exit. "I beat you once, bounty hunter. I could do it again."

“I didn’t even try that time.” Cyric smiled at her as she helped him. "Thanks for actually, y'know, getting me patched up, though. Most would've just left me."

Ariadne glanced away. “Geez, Doc must’ve given you hell’va painkillers.”

"Naahhhh... Okay... Mayybe." He grinned.

"Yeah, I thought so." Ariadne watched SD-550 walk ahead of them as they headed out to the airspeeder. “You’re out of it.”

“Hardly. Did we get him?” She noticed him wincing as he walked. Ariadne frowned and let him lean against her. “We got him, Cyric.” She said.

"More like you did, anyway. Ow.. ugh. Hurts.” He leaned his head against her shoulder as they stopped in front of the speeder. “Sorry I couldn't.. y'know.. help more with the mark. All I did was slow you down and get us ambushed."

“You killed two of those Jedi.” Ariadne said as she helped him in the passenger seat. SD-550 had already cleaned off the stuff she’d thrown on it earlier “They would’ve made bantha fodder of me.”

“Probably should’ve done the same to me.” Cyric winced as he bent down to get in the speeder. He leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes.

“What happened to being Mr. Big-bad-Jedi-killer?” She bent down and kissed his forehead. “You did good.”

Ariadne put Cyric’s crutch in the trunk and slid in the backseat. "Well,” Cyric said, “When we get back to your home, we can put my helmet's holorecording on and watch. It might be.. amusing."

She laughed. “The only thing you’re getting at my apartment is some rest and a can of Hillindor Fowl Soup.”

"Aww, really? The only thing?"

“Hey, that soup isn’t cheap. You’re lucky you’re getting even that.”

"Oh, I bet.” He sighed. “Killed two Jedi and my reward is soup."

“Just because two of them are dead doesn’t mean I won’t be seeing any more of them.” She reached forward and squeezed Cyric’s shoulder. “Get some rest. You’ll want it before Nadhira talks to you, trust me.”

“Thank you.” He told her softly, relaxing under her touch. It wasn’t long before he dozed off.

The drive to Ariadne’s apartment didn’t take too long. She and SD-550 were mostly silent. They’d discussed everything they’d needed to in the waiting room. It was only midday outside, the sun shining off the many towering buildings that made up Coruscant.

Ariadne let Cyric lean against her again as they made their way into the large apartment complex. They got a few odd looks in the lobby, but Ariadne cultivated an image of eccentricity and no one asked any questions.

At least until they got to Ariadne's floor.

"Goodness gracious, child! What've you gotten yourself into?"

Ariadne looked over her shoulder—not an easy task when she was supporting Cyric. "Mrs. Shol? Uhm. I was at a costume party. My friend fell off his swoop on the way home, though. We just got back from the Medcenter."

"Well, let me know if you need anything, dearie. I'm just down the hall."

Ariadne nodded and smiled. "I'll keep that in mind, Mrs. Shol, now if you'll-"

"And wear a sweater next time, girl! You must be freezing in that costume. What are you supposed to be, anywho?"

"She's supposed to be a Mandalorian maiden.” Cyric answered for her. “I'm a Mandalorian warrior, as is obvious, ready to terrorize the galaxy. Rarrghh." Cyric grinned, but Ariadne could tell her was still hurting.

“Haha, yeah.” The lie came easily. “Unfortunately a friend of mine had a little too much to drink, all over my other shirt, so I had to borrow my friend’s. As you can see....” She smiled in a ‘what can you do?’ sort of way. “At least I fit in at the Medcenter.”

Mrs. Shol chuckled. “I’m sure all the young lads there weren’t complaining! Go get some rest, Ari, seems like you two have had quite the time.”

Ariadne nodded. “I’ll let you know if I need anything.” She headed into her apartment before Mrs. Shol could interrogate her anymore, chaining and locking the various mechanisms she had attached to her door without any real conscious thought.

"Should've seen the looks we were getting.” Cyric chuckled. “Most were at you. A few were at me. Which is kinda weird."

"Nonsense.” She said distractedly. “Good looking man like yourself, people are going to stare." Ariadne did the last of the locks and helped Cyric over to the couch. "Wished my neighbors were a little less helpful, though."

The Bounty Hunter lied back with a tired grunt, followed by a wince. "Helpful neighbours or not, I can’t thank you enough.”

"It was nothing. You need anything? I'm going to go take a shower real quick."

"I'll be fine. Feel free to leave the door open."

"In your dreams, Mando-boy." Ariadne pulled her hair down, letting it fall around her shoulders. "Shout if you need anything, I'll be out in a couple've minute."

As she walked into her room, Cyric called out, "I look forward to it!" She resisted the impulse to roll her eyes and shut the door behind herself.

The cuts on her hands stung when the hot water hit them, but she managed to get her hair and face washed without too much trouble. The water made her bruises look even worse, but Ariadne knew they’d fade in time.

She had to rewrap her hands once she got out of the shower, the slender cuts going from one side of her palm to the other. She hated being cuffed and hated strangling people even more, stupid ‘brak. Ariadne pulled her shirt over her head and stepped out of her bathroom. She was about to rejoin Cyric when the holographic display in the bracer she’d thrown onto the bed beeped. She had a message.

“Damnit.” Ariadne grumbled and walked back over, hitting the button to let it replay.

Nadhira’s image slowly taps a finger against the stem of her martini glass, remaining silent for the first five or ten seconds of the transmission. "I will assume you are doing something very important that you aren't answering my call.” Ariadne grinned despite herself. “No matter. It will make it much easier for me to explain this without your questions. I've received word, rather sooner than I expected, about the Jedi Council situation. They've sent someone after you, little Ari. I can't provide an escape route this time. Enjoy yourself with that Mandalorian you're so taken with."

The grin faded from her face. Ariadne felt her insides go cold.

Nadhira took a sip from her glass, her lips stretching slowly into a smile. "Lead the Jedi back to me and the next time I see you it will be in Lab B. In the meantime, little Ari, I highly suggest you run."

Ariadne stared down at the message for a few moments before she said the first thing that came to mind.

Sh—it.”

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 06:49 PM | #4
Step Four:

Find a Sith, make him promise not to kill you, and use his connections to get yourself in with the Empire.


Several Months Later...


The Lightsaber hummed softly as the Jedi held it near her throat. Ariadne didn’t dare move, not that she could. Her body felt heavy as she lied on the ground, staring up at her hooded executor. She’d been running so long from everything. Now it was all finally catching up with her.

“There has to be something you want.” She said. Her mind raced but got no where useful. “Credits. Power. Anything. I’ll repent. I’ll do anything you want.” Tears blurred her vision but the hooded figure was unmoved by her plea.

“Your have killed a reprehensible amount of people in your lifetime, including two Jedi. If your intention to repent was genuine you would have done it by now.” He raised his Lightsaber over his head.

Ariadne winced, unable to keep her eyes open. Her breath came in frantic gasps. She heard a beeping in the distance.

She blinked and opened her eyes. The hooded figure paused, raising his head to look out into the distance.

“I left my oven on.”

“Wait, wa—”

The beeping of the small holographic communication device on Ariadne’s bracer jerked her out of sleep. Within seconds she’d grabbed the knife under her pillow and raised it with a savage yell. Save for Snowball glaring at her from the other side of the room, her small bedroom was empty. And her bracer was still beeping. Ariadne grabbed it off the bedside table, holding the knife with her other hand.

Nadhira’s face and steepled fingers appeared in miniature, holographic form. She raised an eyebrow at the knife in Ariadne's hand. “... Is there a problem?”

“No. No. I was just... Gardening.” Ariadne threw the knife into the bed and out of Nadhira’s view. “What’s up?”

“Nothing good. Coruscant is quickly becoming undesirable local.” She leaned back in her seat. “The Jedi are returning and re-investigating matters—and they are straying dangerously close. And there is something else...” She glanced to the side briefly before her hawkish gaze returned to Ariadne.

“Regardless. I’m making preparations to move. My operations, and with them the White Spade, are relocating to Dromund Kaas.”

“... The capitol of the Empire?”

“I have taken precautions to make sure the Spade’s activities are... Overlooked in Kaas City. They needn’t concern you. What does concern you is your place in all this.” Nadhira frowned. “You have a way of getting... Results. Even if those results often come with significant collateral damage-” She eyed Ariadne pointedly, “-they are results nevertheless. I would enjoy it if you continued producing those results. Unfortunately your Jedi... problem creates complications.”

“But they wouldn’t... They wouldn’t send someone that deep into Empire space. I’d be safe.”

“And if I did intend for you to work exclusively on Dromund Kaas that would be the case, little Ari. However, I need someone to enforce my reach on other worlds. People can think that they can escape me; that I have limits. That is not the case.” Nadhira took a breath and exhaled slowly. “I can’t have you being followed by a Jedi to every world you go to, and believe me, the one hunting you will catch up with you eventually. Deal with him and I’ll make it look like you were never on Coruscant to begin with.”

She didn’t wait for Ariadne to respond, the hologram fading out abruptly and leaving Ariadne alone in her room.

---

Veitsi didn’t answer the door when she knocked, but that was normal for the Bothan. She didn’t know how he kept up with the dozen or so holonet screens he had running, much less listen for someone at the door. He’d given her a pass key after SD-550 had broken down his door after they’d waited outside his flat for an hour. Still, she kept a hand on her blaster as she slipped inside. You could never be too careful.

The bothan wasn’t alone when Ariadne walked into his apartment. A hooded figure stood behind him, barely lit by the holonet screens. Her first thought was ambush. Her second thought was to kill him before he got the chance to do the same to her. Her blaster came easily out of its holster and into her hand.

She pulled the trigger.

Veitsi screamed for his precious holonet screens as the figure turned—no, she realized, he’d already been turning before she’d even got her gun fully out of the holster. A beam of teal-colored plasma shot from the hilt in his hand and deflected the blaster shot, causing it to ricochet into the wall.

Before she could pull the trigger again he extended his hand. Her blaster jerked once before twisting out of her grip and into his. She didn’t give him a chance to do anything with it, drawing the Cortosis-weave dagger and charging. SD-550 moved beside her before jerking to the side, attempting to flank the Jedi. Instead of the Lightsaber swinging around like she thought, he flung her blaster back at her using the Force.

It hit her smack in the face and she went down hard. Her vision blurred and her nose ached as she gasped, trying to get her bearings. She looked around, spotting the dagger nearby. Her fingers closed around it just as a booted foot stepped down on them, the end of the Lightsaber coming to hover uncomfortably close to her face.

“I don’t take kindly to interruptions.” The Jedi said softly. He leaned forward and she suppressed a scream, a ragged gasp escaping between gritted teeth as her fingers were crushed.

“I don’t take kindly to assassins.” She spat past the blood running down her face. He must have broken her nose when he hurled her blaster back at her.

“He isn’t—” There was a grunt as Veitsi hauled himself out from under his desk, “He isn’t here to kill you!” There was a pause and then a noise of dismay, “… Oh cripes my equipment...!”

“What do you mean ‘he isn’t here to kill me’?!” Ariadne yelled back from her highly uncomfortable position on the floor. Her fingers had gone numb by now. “Why the hell is there a kriffing JEDI in your APARTMENT?!”

Her body seized up as an arc of Force Lightning was channeled into it, a cry of agony bubbling up out of her throat before it was over as soon as it had begun and she was left dizzy and breathless. “I am not a Jedi.” He said shortly. He stepped over her prone form before he paused, turning to look back at Veitsi. “I will expect news soon.”

The Bothan looked up from his ruined equipment, his expression dazed. A tiny squeak escaped him.

The Sith seemed to find that an acceptable answer, the apartment door sliding shut behind him.

---

Ariadne woke up in the backseat of her speeder with a strange taste in her mouth and a dull ache in her head. She watched the buildings go by for a long moment before she pushed herself up and winced as her sore body protested, the ache in her head making itself much more pronounced.

“I was wondering when you’d wake up.” SD-550 whirred.

“Mmm.” She took a breath, taking stock. She was sore all over, but the highlights had to be her face and hand. Ariadne glanced down and saw it’d been bandaged neatly. “... Great, just what I needed.” She rested her head back on the seat, trying to keep her eyes open. “How are you?”

“All systems functional. I was not damaged in combat with the... Sith.”

Ariadne snorted and then instantly regretted it as pain shot through her nasal cavities. Her eyes watered and she blinked a few times. “... I can’t believe he was Sith. In Coruscant. Aren’t there rules about them not having red Lightsabers or whatever?”

“Not that I am aware of.” The droid replied.

She sighed. “... Great. So how mad was Veitsi?”

“He was still in shock when I deemed it appropriate for us to make our leave.”

Sh—it, he’s going to be pissed. And if we can’t find someone who can take care of a Jedi through him...” Ariadne ran her good hand through her hair. “We’re in trouble.”

“It is highly probable that the Sith is more than capable of handling any Jedi sent after you.” SD-550 pointed out. “... But we would have to get him on our side.”

“I miss Cyric.” It was dangerously close to a pout, but Ariadne promised herself she wouldn’t. “He liked me.”

“And that is precisely why you had to cut ties.” SD-550 said, its optics staring ahead at the skyline as the sun set.

“I know.” She paused. “I feel like sh—it.”

“That is to be expected after what you went through. The effects of Force Lightning are hardly pleasant.”

Ariadne murmured a soft agreement before she curled up on the seat and closed her eyes, trying to block everything out.

---

It was a tense few days before she figured out her next move. She’d boarded her cats at the local vet and had been moving from one place to the next every few days. She was terrified of the Jedi catching her before she could get someone to help her.

But no one would reply to her requests for assistance as soon as she mentioned Jedi. She couldn’t really blame them, she’d do the exact same thing. In desperation, she’d sent a message to Veitsi requesting any information he could give her about the Sith. It was a long shot, but if anyone would be willing and able to kill a Jedi it would be their dark counterparts.

She used to time waiting to recover. There was only a lingering soreness in her hand and the bruises around her eyes from the broken nose were starting to fade. She still got tired more quickly than she liked thanks to the Force Lightning, but she was getting better.

Ariadne wished she could say the same for her mental state. She’d been short-tempered and increasingly frustrated. She missed her cats, her apartment, and the relatively stable lifestyle she'd had up until she'd gotten tangled up with Force-users.

When her datapad beeped, she thought it was from a fellow assassin she’d partnered up once with in the past, before she’d gotten SD-550. Instead, it was from Veitsi. She blinked and tapped the screen to display the message.

Ariadne,

You might want to wait longer after trashing my place before you ask me for a favor, sweetcheeks.

I attached the address of the place he’s staying at anyways because he wrecked my stuff too. Make him disappear.

-V.


She bit the inside of her cheek as she read the message. He thought she was going after him. Well, she was in a sense, and what Veitsi didn’t know wasn’t going to hurt him. She glanced up. SD-550 was watching her.

“Get the stuff.” She told him.

---

The apartment where the Sith was residing was located on the middle levels near the Senate District, nondescript and slightly run down. No one cared enough in a place like this to give her a second glance as she walked into the turbolift. She pulled out the featureless white mask she wore on jobs and slipped it on. She hoped that if the Sith didn’t instantly recognize her she’d have a better chance of saying what need to be said.

The doors opened and she stepped out, her boots muffled by the thin carpet. SD-550 was not with her. Sometimes it best served her out of the line of fire. This was one of those times.

She just hoped it wouldn’t have to through with what they’d planned.

Unlike with Cyric, brute force was not going to sway the Sith to her side. Her dealings with the Sith had been nonexistent up until this point, but she had some idea of what she was working with. The arm that wields the Lightsaber can be twisted all the same.

Ariadne raised her hand and knocked.

The Sith was an orange skinned Twi’lek, with narrow facial features, bright blue eyes and a body hidden behind a dark brown robe. He looked more... Ordinary than Ariadne had expected. She took a breath and started talking before he could interrupt her, her voice given a metallic quality as she spoke through her mask.

“Look, I have a limited time to say what I need to so just shut up and listen. If you kill me, I have a droid ready deliver this address and a description of your face to the Jedi Temple. Even if you run they’ll be on guard and you’ll lose any element of surprise you might have had.” She took a breath.

“I have a Jedi coming to kill me. Now, either you can help me get rid of him or I can go to the Jedi Temple myself and see if they’ll take information on the Empire violating the Treaty of Coruscant in the capitol itself in exchange for my life.”

He stared at her as he spoke, his expression going from bored and irritated to stonily cold. He was silent. Just staring. Ariadne was very glad he couldn’t see her terrified expression through the mask. He held her gaze for an uncomfortably long moment before he turned on his heel and paced back inside. The motion-detecting door hung open, and Ariadne hesitated only a moment before ducking in after him. Her legs felt like jelly.

“You have nice eyes.” Ariadne tried to sound nonchalant. She wondered how far she could push him before she got herself killed.

The apartment barely looked lived in. The furniture was standard and as far as she could tell there was no extra decoration or clutter. It was a familiar sight—she had places that looked almost exactly the same when she was on jobs, though she wasn’t quite as tidy.

“I’ve been taking steps to avoid this Jedi, but I’m pretty sure if I stop he’ll find me easily. You just need to be there when he does. He won’t suspect a Sith. You kill him and we both go on our merry way.”

"You are deeply, deeply idiotic." The Twi’lek snapped abruptly, making her jump. "... But I was no better, to reveal myself to you in the way that I did. I asked for this." He rubbed a pointed-nailed hand down his face. "Sit."

“I’m just trying to get out of this mess in one piece.” Ariadne pulled off her mask and slipped it inside her jacket. She eyed him for a moment before moving over to the couch. It smelled like old cigarra smoke.

"And what did you do to make the Jedi angry? Shoot him?" He asked blandly. Ariadne heard him move into the kitchen, glasses clinking together. She tried to relax, but her body was filled with a sort of numb, trembling terror. I’m blackmailing a Sith. "I killed a Senator they were protecting and the two Jedi guarding her."

"And now you really wish to entangle a Sith in this? To try to force my hand? You know, in the end, that you will regret this with every fiber of your being." He reappeared with a self-heating pot and two cups. "But I will kill your Jedi. One doesn't need to threaten a dog to get it to chase a cat.” He stared at her. "Though such actions are certainly not forgotten."

“I don’t expect to get away clean after bringing you into this, but I don’t exactly have any other options. I can’t kill a Jedi by myself and none of my associates will touch this situation.” Ariadne studied his face briefly. She considered apologizing, but he’d probably make her eat those words later.

"So long as we are in understanding.” She watched as he poured himself something warm and bitter-smelling before motioning in invitation for her to make use of the other cup. "Explain your details."

Ariadne eyed the cup for a moment, debating whether or not she could manage to pour it without her hands shaking. She decided not to risk it. “I’ll say I’m meeting someone somewhere for a deal and let word get out a bit. Somewhere out of the way. If everything goes according to plan he’ll be there to try and ambush me. That’s where you come in.”

“And if you die in the exchange?” He sipped his tea, raising a brow.

“I think it would be in your best interest if that didn’t happen.”

"So I not only get to kill your enemies for you, but I get to babysit you." He said dryly.

"I'm more than capable of keeping myself alive in a tight situation. I am here in front of you."

"By my own mistaken mercy. I could have used the lightning on you until you were a twitching husk." He smiled faintly. The idea was probably highly appealing at this point.

"Probably. My assassin droid was still a factor in that fight, but I think we're both aware that you could kill me with very little trouble." Ariadne leaned back slightly on the couch. She had more important things to worry about who could kill who when they were on the same side for the moment. "I appreciate you not turning me into a twitching husk. I didn't enjoy what I got from your weather powers."

His brow twitched in irritation. "Force lightning is not known for its therapeutic qualities. You're welcome, but it was a foolish mistake...” He pressed his lips together pensively for a moment. “I seem to be full of those, lately."

Ariadne shrugged, "We all make mistakes..." She paused and realized she hadn't gotten his name yet. "... Mr. Sith?" The corners of her lips twitched in what might have been a smile.

"... Kavre will do, for now." He said evenly. "And in my line of work, no, you do not."

"Ariadne." She replied. "And I hope you have a way to cover your as—s, then."

“I will work something out.”

She nodded and stood. "Good. I'll keep in touch and let you know when and where I'm going to set this all up."

"I'll be looking forward to it." His voice couldn’t have been any more unenthusiastic.

---

This must be what Nadhira feels like. All the pieces were in place. Unfortunately, she was one of them.

The alleyway was dark, lit only by a dingy street light on the bigger street running perpendicular to it. Graffiti was scrawled across the walls, mostly in Aurebesh but a few other languages were represented in the mess of spray paint. The alleyway was mostly clear of trash and debris, but a nearby pipe leaked steam, giving the alleyway an eerie atmosphere.

“My sensors have not yet picked him up.” SD-550 said, standing near her. Ariadne glanced over at him. She was incredibly fond of the droid. Ariadne wasn’t one to believe in an afterlife, but if she did, she’d miss the droid terribly if things went south.

“Maybe he got scared off.” She hoped not. She just wanted to get this over with. Ariadne glanced down, checking her equipment. Her jacket was zipped up and her hood pulled over her head. She wore her mask and her blaster hung comfortably from her left hip, her stolen dagger from the right.

Kavre was nearby, dressed like he belonged down here. It was weird seeing him without robes on, considering who he was. He was positioned at one end of the alleyway, slouched with his eyes closed like he was asleep.

“We’ll give it fifteen more m—”

A stream of purple ionic energy shot out of the mist and hit SD-550. The droid Ariadne had worked with for six years jerked and crumpled, its optics flickering before going dark. Ariadne stared down at it. “SID!”

She knelt next to the droid, grabbing its shoulders before she heard the sound of an igniting Lightsaber echoing down the alleyway. Ariadne turned, then froze.

Through the steam she could make out the outline of a blue Lightsaber, held to the side of a cloaked figure. He advanced towards her, the vapor billowing around him. “Ariadne Lekas, you are wanted for crimes against the Jedi Order.” He said as she slowly backed up, boots scr—aping on the filthy duracrete. “You are under arrest.”

She raised her blaster just as a dark shape ran past her. Kavre’s teal Lightsaber flashed before the Jedi raised his own, their blades meeting in a clash of sparks. The Jedi’s hood fell back, exposing white hair and surprised silver eyes.

Their clash was swift and brutal. Kavre fought with no mercy, driving the Jedi back. He’d started at a disadvantage and he was given no chance to recover with the Sith pressing the attack. The blades moved at rapid speeds, Ariadne’s eyes barely able to keep up. She grunted in frustration and looked down at SD-550. Smoke curled from between gaps in the droid’s armor and it still hadn’t moved. Ariadne was no expert when it came to droids, but it looked utterly destroyed.

Ariadne looked up at the two Force-users battling it out and wiped her eyes as she pushed herself to her feet. She gripped her blaster tight enough that her knuckles turned white. She wanted to make the Jedi pay, but they were moving so fast she was afraid she’d hit Kavre.

It was clear the Jedi was losing, however. Sweat ran down his pale face and he was barely holding the Sith back. The Jedi suddenly lost his footing and slipped, both of their sabers moving to the side and slicing directly into the leaking steam pipe.

There was a twin cry of agony as boiling hot steam burst out of the pipe directly onto the two Force users. “Sh—it! Sid, go-” She looked down at the wrecked droid and winced. Sid wasn’t going to be doing anything any time soon.

The steam was warm, and she could feel her hair frizzing as she walked into it. She kept the Cortosis-weave dagger held tightly in her hand, expecting a Lightsaber to come swinging out of the mist at any moment. She found Kavre lying prone on the ground. His face had taken the brunt of the damage, the skin angry red and blistered.

She shoved the dagger back in its sheath and hauled him towards the speeder, the heels of his boots scr—aping against the ground. He was damn heavy, but the speeder was close enough that she managed to get him inside it with minimal pushing and shoving.

The she drew the dagger once more and went looking for the Jedi. It didn’t take her too long to find him—he hadn’t gotten far. He’d also been scalded by the steam, the burns standing out angry-red against his pale skin. He turned to look at her as he leaned heavily against the wall.

“A Sith.” He managed as he struggled to keep his gaze focused on her. “... Wasn’t expecting that.”

“... Yeah, well. I’m full of surprises.”

Ariadne pulled out her blaster and shot him in the chest. The Jedi’s eyes widened before they rolled back and he fell hard.

The hilt of the Lightsaber slipped from his grasp and rolled to her feet.

---

It was a lonely drive to Doc’s clinic. Kavre was unconscious in the backseat, and SD-550’s chassis was in the trunk. She tried not to think about what would happen to the droid, or even if there was anything left of it to have things happen to.

The walls of Doc’s place were painted a greenish off-white. Combined with the stark white lighting overhead, it made everyone look like a corpse. Two medical droids brought Kavre in on a stretcher and Ariadne trailed in after.

“Ariadne!” Doc appeared with his arms stretched wide. “Another one down for the count, I see! You really need to stop going thro-” He stopped when he saw the look on her face, lowering his limbs when she made no move to return the greeting. He cleared his throat. “Auhuh. Right. What happened to this one?”

Ariadne rubbed her face tiredly. “Accident. Steam pipe burst right next to him.”

Doc nodded and rubbed his hands together. “I see, I see. Whelp, shouldn’t be too hard to fix ‘im up, although...” The Caamasi leaned close and examined Kavre’s scalded Lekku. “We might have to immerse ‘im in a Kolto tank for this.” He gestured for his droids to bring the Sith through the doors past the waiting room. “Let’s get to it!”

Ariadne watched him go before she walked over to one of the uncomfortable waiting-room chairs and sat down on it. She stared listlessly at the wall. She’d be talking with Sid now, if that damn Jedi hadn’t killed him.

Some people wouldn’t care. A droid was a droid, after all. Just get a new one. Ariadne stared down at the Lightsaber hilt, turning it over in her hands.

It wouldn’t be the same. It’d never be.

Ariadne had almost managed to drift into a doze when her bracer beeped. She raised her arm, and Nadhrra stared at her. Her face was pale with fury. “A Sith.”

Ariadne said nothing. It didn’t take long for Nadhira to continue.

“I am impressed, in the way that one is impressed by planetary bombardment, that you even managed to find one on Coruscant. But then you had the nerve to—”

“I DID WHAT I HAD TO!” Something inside Ariadne snapped. “I have always done what I’ve had to. You know that, and you left me to fend for myself anyways. If you weren't such a manipulative, arrogant, vile, stuck up piece of sh—it I wouldn't have to resort to this! Don't bi—tch to me about YOUR consequences, Nadhira!"

Ariadne then realized what exactly had come out of her mouth.

All she could manage was a strained, whispered, “Sh—it”.

“Indeed.” Nadhira hissed, fingers steepling and eyes going very narrow. “Did I not have other plans for you, little Ari, you would be sitting in Lab B for that tirade.” She leaned back in her chair and took a breath.

“As it stands, the handler of that Sith you’ve been so inelegantly blackmailing contacted me. You are very, very lucky she was impressed by your actions because as it stands, you are worth more to me dead than alive. You have been given a recommendation to the Imperial Intelligence Agency by the Sith’s handler. They will not ignore such a request, and neither should you. After what you pulled, your choices are very... Limited.” Her eyes narrowed slightly.

“The Sith assassin- who gave you the assumed name Kavre- will take you to Dromund Kaas, where you’ll be formally trained and then put to work. This is your ticket off Coruscant, I suggest you take it.” Nadhira sneered and cut the transmission.

Ariadne stared at the space where Nadhira’s face had been before she slowly took off her bracer and flung it violently across the room. It didn’t make it to the opposite wall, falling short with a clatter. She stared at it angrily for a moment but didn’t get up.

Well. She’d done it. She’d killed the Jedi sent to kill her and soon she’d be under the Empire’s protection.

It didn’t feel the way she thought it would.

---

It was a few days before Kavre was well enough to leave Doc’s care. He strode out of the medical ward with a droid walking behind him, metallic hands extended in case the Sith were the stumble. Kavre held his chin aloft as he waved the droid away, giving the impression of arrogant strength.

He looked like he was about to fall over any second.

Ariadne pushed herself to her feet and offered a little wave. “Hey, Kavre.” She said, watching him uncertainly. She’d spent the past few days camping out in the waiting room, searching for someone who could fix SD-550 while Doc fixed up the Sith.

Kavre stopped in his tracks and stared at her in surprise. “What are you doing here?” He asked carefully.

Sh—it. She’d really been hoping she wouldn’t have to break the news to him. “Guess you didn’t hear, huh?”

"I don't get very many communications within a kolto tank." He said dryly.

“Your boss and mine talked. She’s giving me a recommendation to Imperial Intel. You’re, uh, supposed to give me a ride to Dromund Kaas since I don’t have a ship of my own.”

"...I see." He said flatly, his lips a thin line. He didn’t look pleased, but then again, Ariadne couldn’t exactly blame him.

“We can go as soon as you’re ready, there’s just something I need to do first.”

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 06:51 PM | #5
Bonus Step:

Set your affairs in order.


The technician pulled the memory core out of her friend and held it under a lamp, peering at it through a lens. Ariadne waited anxiously. She shifted nervously in her seat as she looked around the shop. It was filled with various droid parts and droids themselves in various states of repair.

“Well?” She snapped.

“Still good.” He grunted. Ariadne breathed a sigh of relief. “‘Is chassis is completely fried, though. You’re lucky this much survived.” He scratched his beard as he spoke. “I can put the core in a new chassis but it might take a while if he’s an older model.”

“I don’t have time for that, I’m afraid, I need to get going.” Ariadne stood and took the memory core from him. She pulled a credit chip out of her pocket and handed it to him.

Ariadne stepped out of the shop with SD-550’s memory core in her hand, the wind whipping around her as she breathed in the smoggy city air. She took in the city lights and Coruscant’s cityscape that seemed to stretch on forever, aware she’d probably never come back. There were memories here that ran as deep as the under-levels, but sometimes memories were best left forgotten.

“Come on, old friend.” She whispered to the core as she slipped it in her pocket, making her way to the spaceport.

“Let’s see where this road takes us.”

Darth_Slaine's Avatar


Darth_Slaine
12.31.2011 , 11:00 PM | #6
Kinnu, it is great to see you back ! I can't wait to read this. I have always enjoyed your work. But really, leave Lord Adrass alone and come to Ebon Hawk. It is where all the cool people hang out. You can generally find me Imperial side as Hlemmur or Slaine.

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 11:37 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Darth_Slaine View Post
Kinnu, it is great to see you back ! I can't wait to read this. I have always enjoyed your work. But really, leave Lord Adrass alone and come to Ebon Hawk. It is where all the cool people hang out. You can generally find me Imperial side as Hlemmur or Slaine.
Thank you so much, Slaine! That really means a lot.

I'll definitely have to make an alt or two on Ebon Hawk once I get my initial 50s, though as it stands I'm really enjoying Lord Ardaas's community. I wish I'd thought to ask what servers you guys were going on earlier, but hopefully I will see you around in-game sometime soon!

Gestahlt's Avatar


Gestahlt
01.09.2012 , 09:41 AM | #8
Lardass is a terrible server because it has MG's terrible players.

Raven_Tyler's Avatar


Raven_Tyler
01.10.2012 , 07:54 AM | #9
This has to be one of the best stories I've read in a long time. Please write more about this character as I'd love to see where she ends up in the Empire and if her Mando friend ever makes another appearance.

Kinnu's Avatar


Kinnu
01.11.2012 , 02:17 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Raven_Tyler View Post
This has to be one of the best stories I've read in a long time. Please write more about this character as I'd love to see where she ends up in the Empire and if her Mando friend ever makes another appearance.
Thank you so much! Unfortunately Cyric's player and I are no longer in touch, so probably not. But you never know!

I am actually planning another story focusing on Ariadne's training with Imperial Intelligence titled Infiltration, Seduction, Assassination and How to Use Them if you want to keep an eye out for it. I don't think it will be finished any time soon due to real life obligations but I am working on it in my spare time and it's slowly coming along.
How to Become an Imperial Agent in Four Easy Steps

The Story of a Sniper and her Assassin Droid