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Formal Request of the Galactic Underworld (IC)

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Roleplaying > Roleplay and Play-by-Post
Formal Request of the Galactic Underworld (IC)

LogicLoup's Avatar


LogicLoup
02.03.2013 , 08:10 PM | #51
Ghost Shadow, low orbit above Nar Shaddaa


"Hello Banshee. I am Agent Zero, Imperial intelligence," a female voice was saying. "I am told you have already been contacted by one of our people regarding what we require. My partner and I are the field agents in charge of securing the object. We wish to arrange a meeting ASAP to discuss and plan the job. Call us at this number on a secure line and we can talk further." Then the transmission was cut.

Obviously, these were the Imperials Tuk'ata mentioned earlier. [i]Is it possible that these are the same people I was shooting at inside the Republic’s vault? wondered Serlynne. If it's indeed them, the meeting is going to be awkward. And potentially dangerous.

Alas, she had little choice in that matter. With each passing hour the situation around the holocron and the map on it kept getting more complicated. It was on the move, and Alecs and Nerama remained a factor since they too had been hired by Arthen. This, in turn, led Serlynne to the assumption that the the map referred not to a single object hidden somewhere, but to several pieces that were located in different places, and while Arthen had already told the assassin her own point of destination, Serlynne had no idea where else one should look for the other parts of the "treasure." To obtain this information, she needed the holocron, but, more importantly, the assassin needed someone who could retrieve these other objects while Serlynne would be busy getting her own piece. And since she always preferred to work alone and therefore had no trusted long-term allies of her own, the assassin had no other choice than to seek assistance from either the Republic or the Empire. The former had Rainbird and his blackmail, while the latter offered money and already provided the means to contact its agents.

There goes my neutrality, Serlynne thought bitterly. Never thought it would end like this. There was no way the SIS or the Republic's government would let her go unpunished for helping the Empire this time. Nevertheless, Serlynne simply couldn't bear the thought of contacting Rainbird instead of Zero. To do so meant to submit to his power, essentially becoming his pawn, as had happened with Serlynne and Jargo the Hutt so many years ago, except that Rainbird was far more cunning and dangerous than her former master could ever become.

Serlynne sighed and started to call the number that had been provided by Agent Zero. Time to meet my new allies.

********

Zero's secure holocom, which she only used for Intelligence business, went off. "Oh, great, that's probably going to be Keeper wanting a status update. What do I tell him, that I have been reduced to hoping to overhear gossip in some bar?" Mean surged at her. "Well, may as well get it over with." She picked up the holocom and turned it on. "Agent Zero here."

"Hello, Agent, this is Banshee," Serlynne said cheerfully. "Are you still interested in acquiring the object you mentioned earlier?"

"Ah, yes, Banshee." Zero tried her best to hide her relief that it was the Banshee calling and not Keeper, while Meanken, bored as usual, sharpened one of his knives. "Indeed we are. How much do you know about the object?"

"Enough to not discuss my knowledge via comlink," replied Serlynne. "Suffice it to say, I know what this object is and where it is now. If you are still planning on retrieving it, meet me at these coordinates as soon as possible." The assassin gave Zero the location of a landing hangar in Mezenti spaceport. "Banshee, out." She ended the call.

"Well, that was convenient," Zero said.

Mean looked over and shook his head. "Too convenient. She wants us to go... where?"

"A spaceport, it seems."

"Perfect place for a trap. How do we know this assassin is not on the Republic payroll, and just hoping to make a few extra credits off of us by handing us over? I was a bounty hunter for years before I joined you people, that is how they operate."

"We don't have any other options. If she tries to pull something, you are free to do whatever you wish to her. Now, come on." Zero got up and walked out, Mean following close behind.

********

Zero and Mean arrived in the hangar. Mean was looking around, looking for any sign of an ambush, while Zero walked over to the shuttle, waiting for the Banshee to make her appearance.

Serlynne had watched the duo since the moment they entered the hangar via cameras installed in her shuttle specifically for moments like this one. Much to her relief, neither the man nor the woman were the ones the assassin had encountered in the vault. But it also meant that they were not the only agents whom the Empire had sent for the holocron.

Serlynne checked her weapons and gear for the last time and then left the shuttle. Outside she paused for a second, glanced at Mean, then firmly went towards Zero and came to a halt a few yards from the woman, waiting for her reaction.

Zero saw her coming, and walked up to her. "Hello, Banshee. I should introduce my partner, Agent Meanken." She pointed behind her at Meanken, then turned back. "Pleased to meet you in person." She held out her hand while Meanken watched, staring at Serlynne with the same kind of glare a hunter would give his prey.

Serlynne shook Zero's hand while keeping an eye on her partner in the same time. "Aziure Lyris. Pleased to meet you as well," said the assassin. "Agent Zero, have you already found out who was offering the reward for delivering the object, or do you need my intel regarding this subject?"

Zero shook her head. "No names, but I have my suspicions. A Force user, probably exiled from whatever order they were in. They clearly have resources, if the reward for the holocron is any indication. furthermore..."

Zero suddenly stopped talking as Mean walked behind her and tapped her on the shoulder, whispering in her ear, "You are babbling again." She blushed a bit as Mean returned to where he was standing, continuing to stare at her as he had before.

"Sorry, sometimes I talk too much. You said you have intel? So, you already know most of this, I assume?"

"This Force user is a Mirialan, known to me as Arthen Cole," nodded Serlynne, then shot Mean a quick, curious look. "Apparently he is a former member of the Jedi Order who went rogue at some point, and now is either working for himself or for some unknown third party. He has an underground base here, on Nar Shaddaa, but it is of no concern to us at the moment, because the holocron you seek is not there."

Mean pushed Zero aside and walked up to Serlynne, getting right in her face. "Damn it woman, we don't have time to get jerked around with irrelevant information! Tell us where the damn holocron is, or you can kiss your credits goodbye!"

Serlynne, who didn't seem to be intimidated by his actions, looked past Mean at Zero and said evenly, "I have placed a transmitter on the holocron before it was stolen by Cole's minions, and have been tracking the artifact's movements ever since. If you would be so kind as to call off this partner of yours, I can show you the holocron's location on the map."

Mean looked even more enraged. "You think you can just ignore..."

Suddenly, Zero walked over and slapped him across the face. "QUIET! I am trying to have a civil conversation with a contact. If you have nothing constructive to say, kindly go stand by the wall and let me do business." Mean gave Zero a death glare as he walked away, and she turned back to Serlynne. "Sorry about that. While you show me the location, what can you tell me about these 'minions' of Cole's?"

"They are humans, smugglers, who call themself Alecs Beval and Nerama Sundrift," reported Serlynne, while producing a small datapad from one of her suit's pockets and summoning a map on its screen. "They travel on a ship called Fortune's Folly. I am pretty sure all these names are fake, but so far I haven't been able to conduct a thorough check on them to find the real ones. On Nar Shaddaa, this couple met another human named Dredd, most likely a bounty hunter, who took them directly to Arthen Cole.

Serlynne pressed a few buttons on her datapad, passed it to Zero, then continued, "The holocron was delivered to Cole's base, where it stayed for a few hours. Then someone took the artifact and left the base. As you can see, the source of the signal from the tracker is located here, in Mezenti spaceport, not very far from our position."

After all the issues I had getting to this point, our target is practically next door. How ironic. "Our orders are clear. Obtain the holocron at all costs. Whoever has it is probably moving off world. We need to move at once to intercept them. Come on." Zero started walking away, Mean following close behind.

Without saying another word, Serlynne followed the agents, staying behind their backs. Mean's threatening presence didn't bother her half as much as the fact that Zero never asked the assassin how did she get her intel.

********

"Oh my goodness, it's lovely!" Soleta squeaked as Quintus led her into the hangar. She stepped forward, gazing in wonder at the sleek lines of the ship waiting for them. "And it's truly ours?"

"Indeed. Truly," Quintus smiled. "Could not ask for a better ship for our task. A Phantom. The Veil."

"Well then, let's be on our way." Soleta started toward the ship, then paused, turning back to Quintus. "I'm not going to have to convince anyone we're allowed to have this, am I?" she asked, grinning impishly.

"Oh no, my dear Sith," Quintus' smile never dropped. "Not for either the ship or our prize. I just had a few friends in high places for the former. With this ship, we live like royalty."

"Fantastic," Soleta replied as she returned to Quintus' side, putting her hand in his as they headed for the ship's entry ramp.

"I am afraid I am going to have to stop you." Zero and Mean walked into the hanger. "I did want to avoid this kind of thing, hence why I had my partner ask you to work with us earlier. But, it is too late for that. So, let's cut to the chase. We know you have the holocron. Just hand it over and you two can continue with whatever you are doing."

Soleta threw her head back and laughed. "Honestly? That's the best you can manage? That's not even a credible threat." She gave Quintus' hand a quick, light squeeze before letting go and reaching into the bag at her side.

Zero shook her head "If you want a threat, I can let my partner here speak, I am sure he would love to tell you about all the horrible things he will do to you. But, standing here threatening one another is a pointless waste of time. My threats are not about to make you change your mind about whenever or not you are going to hand over the holocron. So, what is it going to be?"

Quintus allowed his hand to covertly slip into his lab coat while using his side to conceal it. "I believe you guessed correctly. Your pathetic threats make no difference. It is as I said back on Nar Shaddaa. You are more of a liability than an actual asset, let alone a threat. But by all means, keep spewing out your cliche threats. I'm keeping count, you know."

Serlynne froze at the hangar's doorstep behind the agents. The minute she recognized the people whom she had fought back on Coruscant, the assassin's eyes widened in shock. Then she realized what was about to happen and ran into the open space next to Zero.

"Stop it, you two! You too, Agent Zero," she shouted. "Please, listen to me! This holocron is not as important as everyone thinks. No need to fight each other because of it, while Cole gets what he really wants!"

Mean smirked. "Lady, you don't really get the issue, do you? Let me lay it out for you. These two work for separate Sith, both of whom want the holocron for their own reasons. We work for yet another Sith who wants it. So, the chances of us suddenly stopping and getting along are slim. But, by all means, try. Should be entertaining, if nothing else."

Zero looked over at Serlynne. "My superiors also disagree with your idea of the importance of the holocron. Unless you have information we don't?"

Quintus gazed at Serlynne and laughed, "Ten. Heard that kind of thing ten times. Bonus points for it coming from some cretin."

"Darling, everyone has information you don't," Soleta replied. "For example, I know how your charming new friend was in a position to learn about the mysterious Doctor Cole... unless she's already told you that she is in collusion with the pair of reprobates who made off with the cube to begin with."

Serlynne took a deep breath. "This holocron contains a map," she began. "I have reason to believe this map refers to several locations, and Arthen Cole already sent people to retrieve whatever artifacts are kept there. By the time you bring the holocron to the Empire and they decide to send their own men to the planets on the map, those artifacts will be long gone. The Empire will have nothing and your superiors will be really pissed."

Then she turned to Quintus, "By the way, one of the people Arthen hired is Alecs Beval, with whom you fought on Coruscant and whose life you foolishly spared. Who's the cretin now, Agent?"

"Thirty-seven," Quintus retorted. "Who said I wanted him dead, yet? You remain the cretin in this equation. I know you are in league with the fools to begin with. Even if your information is useful, you still are not prolonging your tenure in this galaxy."

Zero had finally tired of all the name calling and pointless arguing. "ENOUGH! Every moment we stand here arguing is another moment we give the scum whom we oppose time to get these items. You two, can you confirm what she says? If what she said is true, then we may have little choice but to work together for now. If we separate, we can all probably cover the points on the map and get to them before the criminal scum does. We can argue and kill one another over who gets to bring what to our bosses later. Agreed?"

"Use your head, Agent," said Serlynne to Quintus. "If I was in league with Arthen, I would just go to the planet he sent me and wouldn't bother helping these two agents. But in reality I was contacted by Imperial Intelligence to help obtain the holocron. If you don't believe me, just ask these two."

"I suppose, if you're all really that eager to be of use, we can find some way to get along," Soleta announced. "For the good of the Empire, of course. Agents, if you will give your contact frequencies to my colleague, one of us will contact you with your destination in due time."

"Of course." Zero walked over to Q and handed him a holopad with the contact frequencies "Glad we were able to work this out. It was nothing personal, you understand. Just part of the job."

"Glad to hear another voice of reason," smiled Serlynne. "Here is my contact info. Don't bother giving me a point of destination though. I am going to Hoth per Cole's orders so he wouldn't suspect me of working against him."

"I am going with you." Mean announced "No offence, lady, but I still don't trust you quite yet. Besides, I have... experence working on Hoth."

"As you like, I suppose," Soleta replied. "Assuming your handler is comfortable letting you out of her sight. Now, if you'll all excuse us, my colleague and I have quite a lot of work to do."

"One last thing," called Serlynne, unable to contain her own curiosity. "Do either of you have any idea what these artifacts are that we are after, or what possible use they may have to anyone?"

"You have your destination." Soleta grinned enigmatically. "We'll be in touch with further instructions as they're needed." With that, she turned sharply and started up the ramp to the ship.

Q took the contact information and stowed it in his briefcase as he too started up the ramp. "Indeed, we will be in contact when the situation requires it. Just remember this well: assist those two criminal cretins or Arthen or his other cronies in any way, then you sign your death warrant."

"I assume we are taking your ship. I will be waiting there." Mean walked out of the hangar without any further words, and Zero walked over to her. "If he gets out of hand, you have my permission to use any methods short of killing him to get him under control. Or, you can call me, and I should be able to handle it. Any questions before I leave?"

"Only one," replied Serlynne. "Do you really think our new allies will give you the necessary information? If I were you, I wouldn't let them go until they reveal all the planets on that map."

"You can't be sure of anything in this line of work. But, as you said, we need to work together if we are going to beat the criminals to the items. There is a saying you are probably familiar with: 'Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.' They will work with us, if only so they know what we are doing, and so they know we won't interfere with them. I must be going now, good luck."

"Good luck to you too, Agent Zero," said Serlynne. "I really hope your partner is not as reckless and unreasonable as he seems."

With those words she turned around and headed towards the exit from the hangar.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."

LogicLoup's Avatar


LogicLoup
02.05.2013 , 11:45 AM | #52
Phantom-class yacht Veil, Mezenti Spaceport, Nar Shaddaa


"To work, then," Soleta announced cheerily as she strode toward the main holoprojector, digging the datachip from her bag. She slid the chip into the projector and called up a clear still of the holocron's map and then, her fingers dancing over the controls, overlaid the image with a standard navigation map.

Quintus laid his datapad with the sliced translations of the Rakata translations on the table next to him, then examined the map of the galaxy. "The highlighted planet closest to you...I'm sure that's Hoth. I see Taris up close to the Imperial Worlds, and I see Ilum there in the Unknown Regions. The final planet remains scrambled, unfortunately."

"Hmm." Soleta squinted as she leaned closer to the display, flickering the navigation overlay rapidly off and on. "No... no, it's not scrambled, it's..." She leaned back again, grinning brightly. "It's not there!" she cheered, bouncing on her toes. "Nothing on any known navigational route, no matches in regional star catalogues, it doesn't exist!"

"Thrilling!" Quintus allowed himself a smile. "An uncharted planet... think of all the opportunity."

"As for the others..." She faded out the recorded holocron display, highlighting the navigation map. "The mercenary and the snippy little Chiss are already on their way to Hoth. I don't think we can trust Agent Zero — honestly, what kind of name is that? — on her own, so that leaves Ilum and Taris to the two of us."

"That is a cliche name for an agent at best," Quintus nodded, then sighed. "I have the strangest feeling that she would want to tag along with me, a fellow agent. I... will not be too happy, yet feel very obligated to keep an eye on her."

"I'm sure you're more than capable of keeping her in check," Soleta replied, smiling gently. "So which would you prefer? Toxic rakghoul nests, or frozen Jedi ruins?"

"I will defer the choice to you, dear Sith," Quintus smiled. "After all, I do not want to deprive you the chance to explore some Jedi ruins. Unless, of course, you fancy rakghoul hives."

"Oh... umm..." Soleta fidgeted, her pale cheeks turning pink as she looked down at the console. "I... would prefer Ilum, but... honestly, it's alright either way. I can go where I'm needed."

"Then I'll go to rakghoul land." Quintus chuckled brightly. "I know Ilum is more of your... thing. I would really hate myself if I took away an opportunity like that... from you," Quintus' cheeks too turned slightly rosy.

"So. There we are, then." Soleta forced her voice back into a light, careless tone. "I should start arranging transport to Ilum. History awaits!" She popped the datachip from the projector and tucked it back into her bag, starting toward the exit.

"Are you certain you don't need me to drop you off?" Quintus joked.

She spun back to face him, a nervous smile on her face as she clutched at the strap of her bag. "Oh, no. Thank you, but no. We'll need to spread as far as we can as quickly as we can, the better to catch up to whomever Cole's already sent out. No sense making you make an extra-long trip when I can find my own way."

"I'll say this... with compatriots of other teams I pretty much leave to their own. However, with you, I have grown attached, I must admit." Quintus froze, realizing he had made his feelings clear. "Oh... I did say that out loud... I'm sorry if you were not expecting to hear that from me..." The operative's rosy cheeks became profound.

"That's... very sweet of you to say, of course," Soleta said. "But we're partners, at least in this endeavor. There's no need for empty flattery. If there's something you need of me, just ask."

"Right... right, of course. I wasn't thinking straight, a bit caught in the heat of the moment." Quintus composed himself. "Now, you are certain you can find a ride to Ilum?"

"Quite certain, thank you," she answered as she backed away, toward the exit. "I'll check in with you as soon as I've arrived. You'd best contact Agent Zero, let her know of your plans." She turned again, hurrying for the hatch.

"See you around, Soleta," Quintus waved.

Without turning back, Soleta waved over her shoulder as she left the ship.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."

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drfumblez
02.05.2013 , 03:17 PM | #53
The Centurial Hawk


Nayar awoke with a throbbing headache, groaning as he sat up. The covers slipped from his chest as he heard snoring, looking down to see a blue Twi'lek sleeping next to him. All at once, last night came rushing back, and he grinned down at her. Shaking his head he gently woke her up, the woman yawning groggily as he slipped on his clothes. "Morning, sweetheart."

"Ugh, my head huuuuuuuurts," she groaned.

"I can relate, but I'm afraid our times over," Nayar grinned, dropping her clothes on the bed. "Dress up and head out. I'll set some caf for you to go."

Leaving his shirt off, he slipped on his jacket, walking over to the caf maker to activate the machine. Once it began to make cups, Nayar turned and sauntered to Maneera's room, opening the door quietly as he walked in, gloating, "So, this smoking Twi'lek was in my- OH, come on!"

"Don'wanna get up," Maneera muttered, " 'm cozy." Her head disappeared under the blankets as she snuggled closer to the Zabrak woman lying beside her, a willowy Nautolan spooning her from behind.

"Well, that's great and all, but I need you up and about, we got a job to do." Nayar flipped on the light switch, the lights flashing on as he did so.

"Organic = lazy // Other organic = loud," TR protested as he wheeled by behind Nayar, bumping into the back of his leg.

"Hey, I am not lazy," Nayar scolded, only for TR to whistle the equivalent of a sigh.

"Five more minutes, Boss," Maneera protested as she burrowed further beneath the covers, her protests nearly drowned out by the moans from the women curling up to either side of her.

"TR = fix // TR = only responsible being." The droid trundled out around Nayar, extending his grasping arm. TR grabbed hold of a bundle of cloth and rolled backward at full speed, dragging the blankets in his wake.

Maneera sat up slowly, her hands at her temples as the other two let out a chorus of startled squeals. "Just tell me there's caf," she grumbled, her disheveled hair shading her eyes.

"Okay, there's caf," Nayar smiled, ruffling Mans' hair before whistling out of the room, TR rolling behind him, indignant squeals about his oil problems.

"Duty calls, ladies," Maneera sighed as she pulled herself from their embrace, giving them each a kiss on the forehead before crawling out of bed. She grabbed a random assortment of clothes from the "clean-ish" pile, squirming her way into them as she padded barefoot to the galley.

A gorgeous blue Twi'lek sipped at a cup as Maneera walked in, giving a double-take as she saw her. "Whoa, who're you?"

"That's my business partner, Maneera," Nayar called out from the kitchen, 4 cups of caf out waiting on the counter. "I thought I explained that."

"Hey there," Maneera grumbled as she leaned against the counter, her oversized Frogdogs jersey slipping down one shoulder. She picked up a mug and inhaled the rising steam. "Real caf, Boss? What's the occasion?"

"Do not tell me you forgot about our new job," Nayar grinned as he came from the kitchen, two plates of eggs in his hands. "By the way, you know if your friends will want food? Tyriss here-"

"It's Thyrice," she interrupted.

". . . Right, Jyrice here said she didn't want any," Nayar finished.

"Uhh... didn't ask, but — hey gals, want some breakfast?" she asked as her companions walked in, dressed in the same not-much they had arrived in the night before, somehow managing to look perfectly put-together. "There's caf, and Boss made eggs."

"It's sweet of you to offer," the Nautolan began.

"But we should be on our way," the Zabrak finished. "Like you said..."

"Duty calls!" the Nautolan chirped.

Maneera's frown only just barely avoided turning into a full-on pout. "Oh. Well, can I at least walk you home?"

"No need," the Zabrak replied. "We'll have a ride waiting." The pair stepped in close and kissed Maneera on each cheek before turning to go, the fringe of tiny coins on their outfits jingling with each step.

Nayar grumbled something about luck and women, and moved back into the kitchen with his plate and caf. The Twi'lek stood up, blowing a kiss towards Nayar's back as she sauntered from the ship.

Maneera sighed, her chin propped in one hand, spinning her cup idly on the countertop as she stared off in the direction of the exit.

"TR = decided new names = organics," he beeped, rolling into Maneera's leg with a thump, "TR = deems female organic = Scars," he whistled, Nayar choking on a bite of egg as he laughed.

"Way to endear yourself, canner," Maneera grumbled as she kicked back at one of the droid's support struts. "You better have put the blankets back on my bed."

Ignoring her, the droid wheeled around to the other side of the counter and bumped into Nayar. "Male organic = new designation = Scruffy."

Nayar dropped his fork at that, wheeling on the droid. "HEY. I am not scruffy! I'm ruggedly handsome!"

"I dunno, Boss," Maneera snickered as she reached across the counter and slid the second plate of eggs toward herself. "You could do with a haircut."

"Oh yeah? Well. . . Bleh!" Nayar grumbled, finishing off his eggs to wash his plate in the sink, grumbling all the while.

Maneera laughed after washing down a bite with a mouthful of caf. "Bleh to you too, Boss. Any word yet from Doctor What's-his-pants?"

"None yet. Surprised, though. How do you think he has that much cash to throw around?" Nayar wondered.

"My employers are quite wealthy, and pay me great sums for my experiments, Alecs." The hologram of Arthen popped up in the holo-station situated in the center of the room. "I hope I'm not interrupting breakfast?"

"Dammit, TR," Maneera snapped as she turned around, her plate and fork still in hand. "How many times have you been told not to answer comms?" TR gave a condescending chirp as he backed away from the console.

"It seems I am not welcome at this particular time," Arthen smiled, bowing his head.

"Eh, don't worry about. Just tell us where to go, what to do, and we'll get it done," Nayar shrugged. "Remember, it's your creds."

". . .Right. In any case, you two will be heading to Ilum, and there you'll-"

"Gonna have to get geared up, Boss," Maneera noted, turning a bit to look over her shoulder. "Ilum makes Hoth look like a summer stroll."

"Ilum's Jedi territory. We're gonna stick out like a Twi'lek among Nautolans," Nayar called back. "Why send us?"

"I think more people would question a Mandalorian or a leather-clad thief then two normal freighters," Arthen answered, "and because no one will question you when you bring their scheduled drilling supplies." He grinned.

"He's kinda got a point there, Boss," Maneera replied before turning her attention back to Arthen. "But where exactly are we going to find this scheduled shipment?"

"I took the liberty of loading it into your ship after you went out drinking last night," Arthen off-handedly commented.

"WHAT?! You- You went- YOU TOUCHED MY SHIP?!" Nayar yelled out, breaking into a sprint form the kitchen to the cargo hold.

"Hey TR," Maneera drawled as she took another bite of her eggs, "go help Boss run the usual scan before he tears somethin' apart, yeah?"

"TR = tragically unappreciated," he hooted mournfully as he trundled off to the hold.

"Not exactly a stellar move there, Doctor," she addressed the hologram. "Didn't stop to think maybe we wouldn't want someone just waltzing in here where we live and messin' around with stuff?"

"I only touched the cargo hold, and that was nearly empty, save for a massive weapon collection in the very back, and that crate was bolted to the walls," Arthen answered. "I appear to have majorly underestimated how much a man prizes his ship."

"Empathy's not really much of a useful thing for Jedi, is it." Maneera glared down at her plate, stabbing the eggs with her fork.

Nayar trudged back, plopping down on the couch with a sigh. "Alright, nothing's missing," he sat up an pointed a finger at Arthen, "but you touch my stuff again, we'll be dancing, egghead."

Arthen casually spun his double-bladed lightsaber hilt in his hand at Nayar's threat, before replying, "I highly doubt that, Alecs. Now, here are the coordinates for your mission. It's an abandoned digsite that the Jedi gave up after it produced nothing valuable."

"What're we looking for when we get there?"

"It will be an ancient Rakatan symbol that will resemble a supernova. It should be on a door. Considering the planet, expect it to be frozen," he answered.

"So... what, we chip the symbol outta the door? Carry the door back?" Maneera turned to Nayar with a grin. "Hey Boss, can we get a tauntaun to haul the door for us?"

Arthen sighed as Nayar laughed, then replied, "No. Get inside, turn on the machine, and get out. That simple."

"And how many traps will there be waiting for us, Doctor?" Nayar drawled.

"Not too many, if this is like the other places. Best of luck." Arthen's hologram disappeared as the call ended.

"Well this is nerfsh*t," Maneera announced as she set her now-empty plate aside. "No way it's as simple as flipping a switch."

"Agreed. Now, let's go make a million creds," Nayar grinned.

"Then can we get a tauntaun?" Maneera snickered as she picked up her plate and carried it into the kitchen.

"Hell, I'll get you a dozen baby tauntauns with the million we have coming in. But they smell terrible, so, prepare for no women daring to step onto this ship again," Nayar jokingly warned as he headed to the c*ckpit.

Maneera heaved a deep, dramatic sigh. "Why can't they be adorable and smell nice? It's just not fair."

"Not much is! Now, go change TR's oil before he busts a nut about it." The silence stretched for a moment before Nayar said, "Okay, yeah, I could have worded that better."

Maneera laughed all the way to the cargo hold.

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LogicLoup
02.06.2013 , 07:43 PM | #54
Ilum, Republic Orbital Station


"And so, after the Trandoshan sneezed from the powder my partner threw at him, his snot, this big, yellow glob of just 'EW', managed to hit some flammable barrels, which, already precariously set-up by the Twi'lek dancers, totally fell over and emptied themselves on the floor right next to the blowtorch. Bye bye, Lizard-Boy," Nayar shrugged, multiple soldiers surrounding him as he leaned against a crate, multiple droids already unloading Arthen's cargo.

"Okay, yeah, I get how that works," said one of the soldiers, a man with lieutenant's bars and a refined Alderaanian accent completely at odds with his rumpled uniform. "What I can't figure is why he was naked in the first place."

"Oh, that's simple," started Nayar. "See, there was this —"

"Sir," interrupted a fussy-looking sergeant. "Is this really an appropriate avenue of discussion? There's a lady present."

"Oh, damn, there is?" said Maneera, stretching up onto her toes as she looked around the loading dock. "Where is she? Is she hot?"

"He was referring to himself, Mans," Nayar cheekily responded, causing a chorus of laughter and jeers at the now livid Sergeant.

"You arrogant nerf-herder! I'll-!" the sergeant began.

"At ease, sergeant," the lieutenant drawled, putting a hand on the sergeant's soldier as Maneera stepped in between him and Nayar. "Nothing to get a bug up your butt about. Just some guys... one of whom is a girl," he added, nodding to Maneera, who returned it with a smirk, "passing the time while we're waiting on a shipment to get unloaded."

"Sir, I must protest."

The lieutenant heaved a resigned sigh. "You know where the forms are." The sergeant stormed off in a huff, muttering indignantly. "Sorry about that. Command keeps sticking me with model soldiers in hopes some of it'll rub off eventually."

"Hope not. Republic needs more boys who can take a joke," Nayar answered back, the soldiers dispersing after the story was finished. "Especially on this frozen teat of a planet."

"Ain't that just the damn truth," the lieutenant muttered as one of the team of droids handed him a datapad. "Looks like everything checks out. Snowball Express is ready to take you down to the surface."

"Alright, Mans, let's get the snow gear. Uh, no Jedi are gonna run up and yell at us, right? I know this is a pretty big crystal planet. . ." Nayar drawled.

"Shouldn't have any problems. They need drills, you're bringing them drills. Worst I could see happening is maybe a pat down on the return trip." The lieutenant smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry. Master Shayal's pretty decent, as Jedi go. I doubt she'll give you any trouble."

"Whew. Good to hear. Hauling crates around the galaxy, Jedi get suspicious of my type. Don't understand why," Nayar grinned, offering his hand to the lieutenant.

"Haven't a clue," the lieutenant replied, taking Nayar's hand for a solid shake. "Stay warm down there."

"Come on, Mans. We got some sledding to do," Nayar cheekily bumped her arm as he strolled back to the ship.

"See ya," Maneera called to the lieutenant, tossing him a lazy salute as she turned to follow Nayar. "Well," she added, "that was less boring than expected."

"Well, this place is so kriffing boring, I could keep these boys entertained for weeks with stories alone," Nayar nonchalantly answered. "When we hit the surface, we grab tauntauns, then it's off to the digsite."

"Which is when we get jumped by gods only know what, in our attempt to flip a million-credit switch." Maneera shook her head, snickering. "The things people pay us for."

"I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over the one million credits we're about to make," Nayar said in a sing-song voice, stomping into the room.

"I'm not complaining about the payday, Boss, you know that." Maneera kicked off her boots and started pulling on the pair of heavy, insulated pants she'd laid out. "I'm just sayin', the man's tossing money around like he's the queen of Alderaan."

"You saw the place he lived in, right? The man could be Queen of Alderaan. Or would he be the King?" Nayar answered back, closing the fur-insulated jacket around his body. He slipped his targeting visor into the back pocket of his insulated pants, both pearl-handled blasters in their holsters.

"Oh hell, Boss, like I'd know." Maneera scowled as she wrapped a scarf around her neck and then shrugged into her coat. "Point is, this whole job is just weird. And not the awesome stories to tell gullible ladies over expensive drinks kind of weird, the 'where are we going and why am I in this handbasket' kind of weird."

"Tell ya what. When we get back, and are each half-a-million richer, we'll ask him. For now, we got a job to do. Come on, follow me to my crate," Nayar motioned, trundling through the hallways towards the cargo hold.

Maneera sighed as she fell into waddling step behind Nayar. "And you couldn't have done this before we got all bundled up?"

"You'll need the bulk to hide this," Nayar answered, opening the crate with his thumbprint. As the side slid open, he walked inside, the large crate holding all different kinds of rifles, pistols, scatterguns and even a sniper rifle. He picked up one of the smaller scatterguns, slapped a core in it, then flipped it handle over head to **** it as he caught, handing it to Maneera. "Flechette rounds."

"Oh wow... and it's not even my birthday," Maneera murmured as she gently cradled the scattergun. "Wait. Hang on. You've been sitting on an actual slug-thrower and didn't tell me? Boss, I'm hurt. Hurt and disappointed."

"Had to get the ol' girl back into shape. Rusted to all hell when I found 'er," Nayar shrugged. "Gave her a nice finish, cleaned up the rust, and bam! Little baby will kill pretty much anything she's pointed at." Nayar reached to grab two incendiary grenades, slipping them inside his coat.

Maneera smiled brightly as she wrapped Nayar in a heartfelt, if awkward, hug. "You're the best, Boss." She stepped back, her expression turning worried as she tucked the gun into place up the back of her parka. "What are you expecting to run into down there?"

"Hoping? Nothing. Expecting? Things that won't die easily," he grimaced. He grabbed a scattergun himself, loading the shotgun with its own rounds as he slid it behind his back. He grabbed a small blaster pistol, impeccably well cared for, and handed it to Maneera. "This thing's last resort, got it? 'Cause when this thing is fired, people die."

"Got it." Maneera gave a tight, short nod as she tucked the pistol into a holdout holster sewn into the lining of her coat. "Are we good to go?"

"Let's go skiing," Nayar cracked, turning to leave the ship.

"Right behind you," she chorused as she followed him to the waiting shuttle.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."

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LogicLoup
02.07.2013 , 07:18 PM | #55
Ilum, Republic Orbital Station


As the soldier seated beside her chattered away about how very very proud he was to be serving on his very first tour of duty outside the Core, Soleta sat in her pristine white robe — perhaps a little more scandalously cut than a proper Jedi would have countenanced, but what was one to expect when one was reduced to scouring the clearance rack at an adult novelties shop on Nar Shaddaa? — exuding an air of unflappable calm and wishing the boy would just shut his ridiculous mouth. Honestly, how could he not understand that he'd clearly offended someone or else he wouldn't have been assigned to watch ice crystals form out on the arse end of nowhere? Finally, the ship shuddered to a halt, and the crew hatchway opened out onto the hangar bay. The soldier leaped to his feet, rucksack slung jauntily over his shoulder, and snapped a precise, heartfelt salute before practically skipping off the transport.

Soleta merely sighed, shaking her head as she picked up the heavy duffel bag containing her arctic gear. Edging quietly along in shadowy corners, she slipped into one of the public change rooms and began pulling on the suit of insulated clothing, carefully arranging layers to ensure none of her was left without proper coverage. As she dressed, she worked to clear her mind, stilling her presence in the Force to match the placid exterior she had carefully constructed. When her protection was all in place, she pulled the robe back on over her snowsuit; worn open over the shapeless coverall, it was much less blatantly indiscreet. Satisfied, she made her way toward the surface shuttle.

A burly, blond-haired man with some extra decoration on his mussed uniform stood near the shuttle departure dock, chatting with the boy from the shuttle. At Soleta's approach, the younger soldier snapped to attention. "Master Girard," he started, his voice cracking halfway through, "allow me to introduce Lieutenant Cortess, ranking officer of this detachment."

"A Girard? Always a pleasure to meet another Alderaanian," the lieutenant said, sketching a bow, "especially so far from home."

"A pleasure and an honor indeed, Lieutenant," Soleta replied, her accent a near-perfect match for his own. "I'm certain your service does our world proud."

"Thank you, ma'am. I do my best."

"The shuttle's ready when you are, Master Jedi," the boy chimed eagerly. "Supply shipment just headed planetside a few hours ago, so we... I mean, you won't be crammed in with a bunch of crates."

"If you'll excuse me, Lieutenant Cortess, I wouldn't want to keep anyone waiting."

"Of course, Master Girard." The lieutenant saluted. "May the Force be with you."

"And with you as well, Lieutenant," Soleta responded, her smirk hidden behind the weave of her scarf as she nodded, turning to follow the younger soldier onto the planet-bound shuttle.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."

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DarthThuzad
02.07.2013 , 10:55 PM | #56
Phantom class ship "The Deathbaron", Mezenti Spaceport, Nar Shaddaa


Zero was sitting in a chair next to her holocom, having just finished typing out a report to keeper on the latest events. She had taken the opportunity to change back into her imperial officer uniform, and was quietly waiting for the call telling her where to go while reviewing the information keeper had forwarded on her new allies, trying to get a feel for what she could expect from them. I can't trust them, not fully. One is a sith, and they are unpredictable by nature. And the other one serves Darth Thanton. Both could be major threats in their own right. And chances are I will need to fight them at some point. The chances of Darth Jadus agreeing to any long term cooperation between other sith, and by extension their agents, are slim at best.

Zero's holocommunicator beeped, signaling an incoming transmission from the Phantom-class Yacht Veil.

Zero looked at her holocom That will be them now. Let's see where I am going. She picked it up "Agent Zero here."

A hologram of Quintus sprang out of the holocom. "Agent Q here, transmitting from my new ship. Do you copy?"

"I am here" Zero replied "Where am I going?"

"I hope you love Rakghouls," Quintus smirked, "for we are going to Taris. It has had quite the landscaping 300 years ago, I must say."

"We?" Zero asked "You want to come with me to the monster infested planet? I can handle myself, you know, I don't need an escort. Besides, I thought we agreed to split up, cover more ground.

Quintus shook his head, "the other planets are being accounted for so far. While you are a fellow agent...I simply cannot trust you to go off alone."

Zero shrugged, "Well, if you insist, I have no issues with it. Now, what do we know about the object beyond being on Taris? Shape, size, the location on world?"

"We do not know a lot besides the fact that our artifact is on Taris," Quintus sighed. "However, I believe the old Jedi academy there might have something. That is merely a hypothesis, take that as you will."

Zero nodded "Makes sense. Well, unless you have anything else to say, there is little point sitting here talking when we could be on our way to the planet."

"You took the words out of my mouth. I will be there in short order." Quintus cut the link.

Zero walked into the cockpit and plotted a course for Taris, taking off and moving into hyperspace Wonderful. Now I have to deal with this Q on top of the issues I am already going to have working on Taris, mainly rakghouls and whoever else is after the object. Maybe I should have kept mean with me after all, would have helped make sure Q stays honest and doesn’t try to betray me if he was outnumbered.....oh well, no use complaining now.

Imperial Orbital Station, Taris


The Veil, piloted by Quintus, docked into the Orbital Station, having arrived shortly before Zero did. The operative walked down the loading ramp, and pulled up a datapad, reading it. Satisfied, he moved out of the hangar and towards the planetary shuttle.

Zero quickly walked up behind him, having arrived shortly after he did, holding the case her sniper rifle was in. "Hello, nice to see you again.....it occurs to me I don't know what you prefer to be called. Do you have a preference?"

"For the sake of professionalism, go ahead and just refer to me as Q, for now," Quintus replied.

Zero nodded "Very well, Q. You can just refer to me as Zero, as most people do."

"And so it shall be, Zero." Quintus nodded. "Shall we proceed? The shuttle will drop us into the Toxic Lake Garrison."

"Yes, let's go, little point standing around here." Zero walked into the shuttle, with Q walking behind her. The shuttle departed the orbital station in short order.

Toxic Lake Garrison, Taris


The shuttle docked onto its landing pad, with Q and Zero emerging.

"Now that we are here, we shall begin," Quintus asserted.

"Of course." Zero replied, looking around "You have a location on this jedi temple?"

"I know from past research that it is a bit...far from the garrison itself, yet is somewhere up to the north. Beyond that, our best chances of figuring out is using a local map and some locals if need be."

"We may want to requisition some speeders and equipment as well. You have a weapon, of course? If not, I have a spare you can have" She grabbed a pistol off her hip and held it out for him.

"Way ahead of you," Quintus smirked as he twirled two of his knives, then flourished his Zabrak Tystel pistol. "Thank you for the offer, however."

Zero put the gun back "Not a problem. A bit of advice however, I would not use the knife against the rakghouls. If what I have read about them has any truth to it, a single scratch is enough to turn you into one of them."

"Ah yes, that is good to remember," Quintus remarked. "I can still take that extra pistol if you want. I always wanted to fight like a gunslinger at one point."

"Better safe than sorry" She handed the gun to him "I use my sniper rifle usually" She patted her rifle case "The pistol is mostly a backup."

"I see," Quintus holstered the other pistol. He then moved inside the main garrison and handed his credentials and a datapad to a requisition officer.

"Searching out the Jedi temple to the north, eh? Good luck, that place is infested with Rakghouls and Republic scum alike," the officer spoke.

"Noted. That does not deter us," Quintus replied.

"You two should be ready to go. Speak to the droid at the landing pad to rent your speeders. Anything else you two need?"

"No, I think we are good. We should be going." Zero walked over to the droid "Two speeders please"

"Of course. One moment please" The droid walked away to get the speeders, and Zero opened her rifle case, and started putting it together. Quintus checked his grenade and knife stock, stowed his scanner and datapad, and patted his labcoat. Satisfied, he walked towards the droid and the speeders and hopped on one, paying the deposit for both.

"Ready when you are."

Zero snapped the scope on her rifle, looked into it and took a shot to make sure it was calibrated. Satisfied, she strapped it to her back and got on the other speeder "Let's move" She turned it on and drove away in the direction of the temple.

Maaruin's Avatar


Maaruin
02.08.2013 , 10:49 AM | #57
Wastelands of Hoth

Hoth, a beautiful place. Quiet, miles of untouched land. The man who rode on his Tauntaun through the snow still liked this place. Even though he had seen it several hundred times.

Specialist Thabers Arnn was the technician of the 3rd Hoth Scouting Squad at Dorn Base. With the stretched resources on Hoth the three scout technicians had often to do single patrols to maintain the stationary sensors.
Transferred from Balmorra two years ago, he was one of the first to establish Imperial presence here. The Republic had followed shortly afterwards. And up to know both had adhered to the Treaty of Coruscant. He had observed some Republic outposts from afar and they sure had observed some of theirs too. But no hostile contact had been reported so far.

The pirates were a bigger problem. Ships who fell out of hyperspace were frequently attacked and forced to make an emergency landing. On the ground, these bastards took everything worth a credit from them and left the crew to die in the snow. Arnn couldn't imagine how difficult it would be when the Imperial troops finally reached the starship graveyard. How could they possible recover the valuable technology which laid there?
Well, hopefully they couldn't.

He guided his Tauntaun left to leave the patrol route for a few moments. There was an interesting rock standing out from the snow. He dismounted and walked around the rock. Then he found the point he was looking for and went two steps away from the rock. There he started to dig.

After half a minute he had found it: A grey capsule. A republic scout had left it here. Of course, not a normal scout. An SIS agent. Just like him.

He retrieved some datachips from the capsule, and replaced them with some he brought. Then he carefully hid them inside his cap. He didn't know what was on these chips, probably some encryption codes or messages. But his contact would know where to deliver them.
"I was one of many. We were servants of the dark side… Sith Lords, we called ourselves. So proud. In the end we were not so proud. We hid… hid from those we had betrayed. We fell… and I knew it would be so."
-Ajunta Pall

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drfumblez
02.08.2013 , 09:53 PM | #58
The Surface of Ilum, Republic Base


"Wow, it is colder than Princess' attitude out here, right, Mans?" Nayar grumbled, his feet already crunching the ice and snow as they stepped down from the ramp.

"At least she's someone else's problem now," Maneera muttered as she pulled up the hood of her parka. "Unlike this snowball."

"Alright, let's go grab some tauntauns. The sooner we're at the ruins, the sooner we can get warm again." They trundled over inside the Republic base, multiple soldiers strolling about of keeping guard, a Jedi meditating in the corner, a hood pulled over her eyes.

Maneera edged in closer to Nayar, her voice low as they passed the Jedi. "Okay, fine, but how are we going to convince them to let us borrow a couple tauntauns?" she asked. "Oh, hello there, Master Jedi, we have completely legitimate reasons for asking this, and you're totally going to hand over your adorable yet strangely stinky beasts of burden." She waved her hand for effect. "That only works when they do it."

"Don't worry about it, Mans, we have our ways. See, what we do is-"

"So, you must be the Captain that delivered our supplies," said a rich, authoritative voice, Nayar jumping in the air a bit as she spoke. "What brings you down to the planet?"

"Just wanted to make sure everything got offloaded properly," Maneera replied, holding out a mitten-wrapped hand. "Just part of the service we provide."

"I see," the woman smiled, taking Maneera's proffered hand with her own, before pulling her hand from her grasp into Nayar's now outstretched hand. "Master Shayal, and you two are. . .?"

"Alecs Beval," Nayar answered smoothly, lifting her hand to his mouth to kiss her gloved fingers before letting them slip away. "At your service, ma'am."

With a faint shake of her head, Maneera rolled her eyes. "Nerama Sundrift, ma'am," she answered. "Nice to meet you."

"Mmm-hmm, he's one of those types, I see," Shayal said with a roll of her eyes. "Well, you see that your shipment is here on the ground, already being unpacked. Any particular reason you're still hanging around?"

"Well, Master Jedi, you see, this might be one of the few planets I've never been to. And so, like tradition calls. . ."

"I'm afraid I have neither the time nor the manpower to devote to giving you the grand tour," Shayal replied with a bemused smile, "and for all its grandeur, Ilum can be lethal to the unwary. It would be... unpleasant, for all of us, if your first visit were to meet a violent end."

"My, my, Master Shayal, I had no idea you were so worried for my well-being," Nayar grinned. "But you don't need to worry, ma'am, I'm a big boy. I've learned to handle myself pretty well, I'd say."

"Yes, you do seem to be quite enamored of your bravado, Captain," she smiled, her eyes glistening with amusement as she crossed her arms.

"With respect, ma'am," Maneera chimed in, "we honestly do appreciate your concern, but we'd really appreciate the chance to take a bit of a stretch. Just a short run, maybe a couple hours, and we'll be sure to check in just as often as you need us to."

"Well, since you're so certain you'll make it back. . . I guess you'll just need to sign some forms so we can claim no responsibility if creatures tear you apart out there," Shayal sighed, turning to walk into a rather large room, terminals lining across the walls, a large table in the middle of the room where a Wookiee and a man with general's stripes argued. They ignored Shayal as she brought Maneera and Nayar holopads.

Maneera accepted the pad with a nod, muttering to herself as she skimmed over the text. "Loss of life, limb, health, sanity — too late there, I guess... including but not limited to hypothermia, frostbite, animal attack, hostile Force emanations... really? Ghosts?"

"We were sure to cover every potential hazard," Shayal replied with a serene smile and just the faintest hint of teasing in her voice.

"Huh. Well that'd be a new one, at least." Maneera shrugged as she pulled off one of her mittens, pressing her thumb to the pad. "Next of kin... hey Boss, what's Doc up to these days?"

"Last I heard, I think he was starting his own hospital with that Twi'lek girl," Nayar wondered as he scanned his thumb. "I'd give him a month before he bolts."

"You're giving her more credit than I would," Maneera replied as she scrawled in the contact information, "but at least that means he'll be around to take the call if we get attacked by a Force ghost while we're out today." She returned the pad to Shayal and pulled her mitten back on. "Anything else before we're cleared to go?"

"No, you're free to head out. Do be very careful though," Shayal answered.

"For a beautiful woman like you, Master Jedi? I'm always careful," Nayar murmured, grasping her hand to kiss it one last time, lowering it away from his frozen lips after he did so.

"Flatterer," she grinned, watching as as Nayar and Maneera left the room.

Nayar waited until they had rounded away from the base before saying, "Damn, I'm good."

"What you are, Boss, is completely and utterly shameless," Maneera laughed, following him around to the tauntaun paddock. "Flirting with a Jedi?"

"Hey, I'd like to think somewhere in between those thick robes and icy hearts, there's a woman, yearning to explore her. . . womanliness. Ya know?" Nayar chuckled, tossing his creds into the machine as he saddled his tauntaun.

"Hang on to that dream," Maneera snickered as she tickled her tauntaun's chin. "Hey there, Fluffy," she crooned, "we're gonna be the very, very best friends today, aren't we? Yes we are! Good Fluffy."

"Alright, let's hit the snow!" Nayar whooped as he hopped onto the back of the tauntuan. "We got creds to make!"

Maneera settled the saddle onto Fluffy's back before patting him on the shoulder and swinging up into place. "Right behind you!"

*******************************

"Okay, we're at the coordinates. . . but I don't see anything," Nayar scratched his head, lifting the scanner up to scan across multiple ruins. "You find anything?"

"Nothin' yet," Maneera replied as she eased Fluffy to a halt, hunkering down out of the wind. "But the drifts are so deep we'd have a hell of a time finding anything unless it was dead in front of us."

"Alright, you take the left side, I got the right. We circle until we find the door. Keep in touch."

Maneera nodded, nudging Fluffy back into a bouncy jog. Fallen columns and broken statues dotted the barren landscape, pale stone all but indistinguishable from the pebbled surface of the windblown snow. As she circled around a section of ice-slicked steps, her attention was drawn to a faint, pale purple gleam shining from behind the snow. She slid down from Fluffy's back, taking hold of his bridle to lead him alongside her as she cautiously approached the source of the glow. A few swipes of her mittens revealed the outlines of a solid, rectangular stone slab. "Hey Boss?" she called. "Think I found it."

"Be right there," his voice crackled over the radio, his tauntaun stomping through the snow as he arrived. He dismounted, leading his own tauntaun next to Maneera's. "Yeah, this is the place. I wonder how we open it?"

Almost as soon as Nayar spoked, the ice guarding the door cracked, heavy blocks sliding to the floor as the stone slab slid down into the ground. The smugglers jumped back in surprise, moving a safe distance away as the ice around collapsed. "Well. . . convenient?"

"Sure. Let's go with convenient." Maneera reached up to gently pat her tauntaun's muzzle. "You be careful out here, Fluffy, and take care of your friend," she added, with a pat to the other tauntaun's shoulder. Drawing in a deep breath, she stepped cautiously across the threshold. "Here goes."

Nayar reached up to tie the bridles to an icicle, following after Mans slowly. Runes covered the walls of the entrance, and Nayar tired to memorize some as he looked at them. "Wow."

"That's... one word for it," Maneera muttered in her no really, just look how unimpressed I am voice. "Any idea where the thing is we're supposed to be turning on?"

"Deeper," Nayar answered, drawing a blaster and firing a shot, the sizzling blue bolt peeling down the hallway as it illuminated the walls.

Maneera squinted against the glare of the blaster bolt as it temporarily drowned out the softer lavender glow — the same color as the holocron — that faintly suffused the corridor. "So, no idea then. Got it." She set off, tapping the floor ahead with each step before settling her foot fully.

Nayar repeated her steps, slowly moving down the dark hallway. As they reached the end, a door on the left slid open suddenly, causing Nayar to glance at Maneera. "Beginning to think someone, or something, wants us to find it."

"Because that's not ominous at all," she grumbled, peering cautiously through the doorway.

As they slowly descended down through the now-opened entrance, a low rumbling, followed by multiple thumps in timed rhythm, were heard.

"Definitely ominous. And of course, no decent lighting."

A light flared to life behind them, and both turned to see a robed figure holding up a portable lantern. "Glad I could help," a soft, feminine voice chimed from somewhere within the lumpy mass of robe and snowsuit. With a scarf coiled around the lower half of her face, and the robe's hood pulled down low, only her eyes and a shadowed sliver of her face were visible.

Nayar drew his pistols without thinking, pointing them at the robed woman. "Drop the hood and the scarf. I won't ask twice."

"And this is the thanks I get for coming all the way out here to make sure nothing had eaten you?" She pushed back her hood, revealing a mess of frost-rimed black hair. "Honestly, Miss Sundrift, I don't know what you see in him."

"Boss?" Maneera took a step away, reaching under the back of her parka.

"Guns away, Mans," he smiled, holstering his blasters. "It's just our old friend little Miss Mind-Kriff."

Maneera surged forward, shouldering Nayar out of her way to tackle Soleta. Even through the layers of heavily-padded clothing, the force of impact was enough to knock the breath from her. As Soleta lay gasping on the hard stone floor, Maneera pulled her own arm back for a punch.

Nayar caught the fist before it landed, hauling Maneera off Soleta. "Hey, hey, easy now, Nerama. Calm down."

"I will not calm the kriff down," Maneera shrilled. "Schutta messed with my head, tried to kill — Hey. Blackrobe. Where's the bastard with the knives?"

"Not here," Soleta rasped as she slowly pushed herself up to sit. "He's on Taris, looking for another piece of Doctor Kole's puzzle."

"So, you figured it out on your own, or followed us?" Nayar asked as he held Maneera back. "Dammit, Nerama, calm down! I can give you three kriffing reasons why!"

"They'd better be good," Maneera grumbled, stopping her struggle against Nayar's grasp.

"Reason number one: We're wasting energy trying to hit each other or escape," Nayar began. "Reason number two: She is a Sith. We'd be dead in seconds if she wanted us dead. And finally, Reason number three: That."

As everyone quieted, underneath the sound of rumbling and the thumps of machinery deeper in, came a soft, clattering, chittering noise. "We ain't alone."

"I'll give you the last one." Maneera pulled free of Nayar, drawing her scattergun from beneath her parka as she advanced a few cautious steps. Without a word, Soleta pushed herself up to her feet, taking her unlit saber in hand.

Nayar drew his blasters, signaling for both to stay behind him as he advanced slowly down the hallway. So engrossed as he looking for threats, he nearly fell down the stairs ahead. "Sh*t-!"

As Maneera scrambled to shift her scattergun into one hand and grab at the back of Nayar's jacket with the other, Soleta caught him in a Force lift, holding him steady as she settled him neatly to his feet. "Careful now," the Sith cautioned gently, pointedly ignoring Maneera's indignant glare.

"Thanks," Nayar replied as he readjusted his jacket. "Can you hand me the lantern?" As Soleta passed it forward, Nayar holstered one of his blasters to grab it. "Thank you kindly," he muttered as he held it in front of him, slowly descending the staircase.

"Quite welcome, of course," Soleta said cheerily as she slipped forward, edging around to lead the way down the stairs. "Chivalry appreciated, Captain, but this is my field of expertise." She laughed softly. "And I rather suspect your partner wouldn't appreciate you leaving your back to me."

"And you don't mind leaving your back to me?" he grinned, following her down, eyes twinkling with suppressed laughter as he lifted the lamp higher. "Who knows what devious plans my mind has in store. . ."

"As you so succinctly pointed out," she replied, her tone prim and proper, "I am Sith."

Behind them, the repeated click-click of Maneera flicking the scattergun's safety on and back off echoed against the bare stone walls.

"Indeed you are, my Force-wielding friend. But you're also a beautiful lady, one I am quite sorry for having shot at. I was under duress at the time," Nayar smoothly replied, his blaster spinning in his hand. "And such a powerful, gorgeous flower such as yourself would no doubt feel pity and forgive an insolent little insect such as myself, no?"

"Did someone announce 'Flirt with a Sith' day and forget to tell me?" Soleta sighed. "Honestly, it's unnecessary, and bloody embarrassing for all concerned. You most especially." There was a brief pause in the restless clicking as Maneera chuckled in spite of herself. "Wait a moment." Soleta held up her free hand. In the absence of Maneera's noise, the distant chittering was obviously nearer, more distinct. "That is... rather emphatically not good," she pronounced, igniting her lightsaber. "Weapons at the ready."

"Can't blame me for trying, Sith. But I wasn't lying," he drawled, blaster primed and ready.

"Ha," Soleta replied bitterly. She strode boldly forward, past the fuzzy-edged circle of light from the lantern. The red beacon of her saber blade lit her way as lightning wreathed her free hand.

With a screech, an Esh-kha burst from the shadows, rushing Soleta with a vibrostaff twirling in his hands. Another one tackled Nayar from the side, a vibroknife sinking into the ground inches from his face as a third one sprinted at Maneera from behind.

Soleta brought her saber up into guard position, a small, precise push all she needed to turn the staff aside. She released the lightning she had been holding, adding a burst of searing agony directly into the Esh-kha's mind as electricity arced over its body.

Watching anxiously forward, Maneera was blindsided as the third Esh-kha tackled her. She brought an elbow up and back as she was forced to the ground, sacrificing a controlled fall for a jab at her attacker's snout.

The Esh-kha grabbed its nose and howled as it rolled off of Maneera, Nayar punching the one attempting to stab him as he lay pinned beneath it. The Esh-ka back-handed Nayar, then lifted the knife for its stab, Nayar barely catching the blade as it n*cked his nose. "NERAMA-!"

" 'm okay, Boss," Maneera hissed in pain as she rolled onto her side. While the Esh-kha shook its head, she brought her scattergun to bear, waiting until the Esh-kha was almost near enough to touch before unloading a pair of high-powered bursts dead into the center of its chest.

Spurred on by pain and blind rage, the Esh-kha on Soleta shifted its grip on its staff, swinging low and knocking her feet out from under her. She pulled a shield around herself, the static bubble slowing the Esh-kha's heavy overhand enough that she was able to push it away before it could smash into her skull.

Maneera's attacker flew back, the shots crashing its body into a wall before landing it on the floor, a pool of blood showing. Nayar ducked his head away from the blade pointed at him, head-butting the Esh-kha off him. As the alien stumbled back, Nayar leapt to his feet, punching the creature hard in its stomach. "I got this," Nayar breathed. Maneera kept her distance, watching with her scattergun trained on the Esh-kha.

Soleta caught her Esh-kha in a Force choke, its legs pinwheeling wildly as she lifted it from the floor. "You... have... wasted... my... TIME!" she snarled, punctuating each word by slamming the creature viciously against the floor, bones shattering with each impact.

Nayar blocked a hit from the tired Esh-kha, slamming his elbow in its face. As it reared back, Nayar shrugged off his jacket, pulling his scattergun as well. When it leaped, he pressed the barrel of the shotgun to its stomach. "Now, let me put this in a way you'll understand," Nayar bit out, the Esh-ka freezing as Nayar's words left his lips. "I'm about to blow my load all over your insides."

The Esh-kha chittered in its tongue before, squeaking, "What-?"

"No h*mo," Nayar pulled the trigger, the shot imploding the Esh-kha's stomach as it shattered out of its back, impacting the wall behind it. The Esh-kha slumped dead to the ground at Nayar's feet. "Freaky alien genotype," Nayar muttered.

Maneera let out a strained, wheezing chuckle as she worked her way up to her feet. "Gods, Boss, how old are you? Twelve?" She winced as she tried to tuck her scattergun back under her coat, her left arm held stiff and awkward against her side.

"Hey, hey, HEY! Let me see your arm," Nayar stomped over to her, ignoring where Soleta had just cracked the last Esh-ka's head open on the floor. "Dammit, what the hell did you hit? A durasteel wall?"

"It's nothing," she answered, finally just giving up on trying to stow the gun and holding it upright, propped on her right shoulder. "Just a little sore from landing on it, that's all."

Soleta let the Esh-kha drop one last time before pushing it out of the way and going to join Nayar and Maneera on the steps. "Is everyone alright after that bit of excitement?"

"Fine," Maneera bit out in a harsh snarl, pushing forward to start down the steps.

meanken's Avatar


meanken
02.11.2013 , 11:04 AM | #59
Mezenti spaceport, Nar Shaddaa


Meanken was sitting next to the shuttle, sharping his knife and waiting for Serlynne to show up. Hmm.....maybe I should tell her about.....na, it's none of her business. Besides, do I really want to be spilling my life story to a woman I don't even fully trust yet? No, it should be fine, shouldn’t be on the planet long enough for it to become a factor. Now, if she would hurry up and get here so we can get this over with, that would be great.

Serlynne quickly approached her landing shuttle, only to find Mean sitting right next to it. She suppressed a sad sigh: since the assassin’s escape from Jargo’s palace, “Ghost Shadow” was the only place in the galaxy Serlynne truly considered her home. Due to her careful and secretive nature no one was ever allowed to step aboard that ship, much less Imperial Agents and people like Mean. Unfortunately in current circumstances Serlynne had no choice – she needed to stay on the good side of Empire and therefore she had to listen to it’s agents requests, no matter how uncomfortable they made her feel.

Mean looked up, seeing Serlynne walk in, "About damn time you got here".

Purposefully ignoring Mean’s presence, Serlynne went to a small panel near the shuttle’s sealed entrance, quickly entered the code, and went inside through the immediately opened door.

Mean rolled his eyes, "Oh, playing the silent game with me? Whatever." He followed her inside.

Still pretending Mean was not there, Serlynne passed between rows of lockets with weapons and gear, that stood on both sides of the passage and long low benches in front of them straight to the cockpit, where she hopped into the only armchair that was in the cabin and began to prepare the shuttle for the take-off.

“Hold on to something,” – she shouted, still not looking at Mean. “We are heading to the orbit. It’s going to be a rough ride.”

Mean grabbed on as instructed, and spotted a nice looking knife in one of the lockers, he pulled it out, admiring it, "Oh, this is a nice blade. Where did you get it?"

"From my suppliers, naturally" - reluctantly replied Serlynne. She wasn't going to share with the Agent any more information about her life and business, then it was strictly necessary.

Meanwhile, the roof of the hangar parted and the shuttle left the spaceport. It hung in the air above for a few seconds, before heading up and away,to follow the coordinates provided by "Ghost Shadow" navigational system.

"Fine, dodge the question with the most generic of responses. You think I can't tell? Whatever." He put the knife back and took out his own, starting to sharpen it.

"If you already know it, don't ask pointless questions,"- retorted Serlynne. "So you prefer knives to blasters?"

"Yes, I do. Blasters are just so....impersonal, you know? Too easy, too quick, too painless. With knifes, you can feel the flesh tearing, the screams of the victim, the blood flowing." Mean grinned rather sadistically as he spoke.

Serlynne only shrugged.

"To each their own," - stated the assassin. "I, for example, value speed and efficiency above all else and never let my personal feelings get in the way."

"Oh, great, you sound just like Zero," - Mean moaned. "Please tell me you are not a boring emotionless robot like she is"

Serlynne had to make an effort in order not to laugh out loud.

"My personality shouldn't concern you, Agent," - she said at last, smirking. "But our mission on Hoth should. Now, is there anything else you would like to share with me?"

"Not in the slightest. I don't suppose your "boss" told you anything about your mission beyond go to Hoth and get the item? Like where it is, what we can expect to see on the way, what it looks like, that kind of thing?” Cause I am damn sure not telling you about my time on Hoth.

"I don't have a boss," - replied Serlynne with a clear hint of annoyance in her voice. "As for the mission, our target is an ancient Rakatan cave of unknown purpose."

"A cave? That’s all they told you? hahaha, oh, I hope you have more than that. You have NO idea how many caves there are on hoth, do you? You walk into the wrong cave, and a wampa will rip your face off. Trust me, I saw it happen myself." Mean was clearly amused by the image he had described.

This time Serlynne actually laughed at his words.

"Oh, please, spare me your horror stories,"- she said finally. "I have worked on Hoth before. Any idiot who is incompetent enough to let a wampa get to him, deserves his fate."

"Oh, yes, I agree! Me and the guys in.....our group were laughing at that guy for weeks afterward." No point in spilling that piece of information, I have enough issues without her knowing about that

Serlynne was just about to ask Mean what he and his group were doing on Hoth in the first place, when the shuttle flew close enough to "Ghost Shadow" to start automatic docking procedures. The assassin slipped from the pilot's chair and went towards the exit from the shuttle.

"Very soon we will be aboard my ship," - proudly declared she, still not looking at Mean.

"Something wrong with my face?" Meanken grinned. "Don't tell me the knife scar disturbs you?"

The shuttle's door finally opened. Serlynne made a few quick steps down the corridor beyond, then suddenly stopped and turned to Mean for the first time since she met him. Then the assassin looked him straight in the eye and said slowly, but firmly, "Agent Mean, this ship is my home. Please follow me and don't touch anything. Otherwise you and I are going to have a very serious problem." Then, not waiting for Mean's answer, Serlynne turned around and headed to the ship's cockpit.

"Sure, fine. Nice place, by the way. I have seen much worse in my day." He said as he followed her into the ship.

Unlike Serlynne's shuttle, there were two armchairs in "Ghost Shadow" cockpit. The assassin jumped into the left one, gestured Mean to take another, and started plotting the hyperjump to Hoth.

"Guess I am allowed to touch the chair,"- Mean said sarcastically as he sat, "How long to Hoth?"

"Approximately two hours," - replied Serlynne. "I suggest we wait right here."

"You just want to sit here? And do what, twiddle our fingers? Seems extremely boring, and also a waste of time. You got a place on this ship I can practice with my knifes? May as well do something productive"

"Well, if you insist..." - Serlynne shook her shoulders, as if confused by Mean's suggestion, then left her chair. "Follow me, Agent Mean."

The assassin led him to the ship's main room, which was a strange hybrib between a living room and an arsenal: different weapons and gadgets, mounted on the walls, were in close proximity to average, although expensive-looking furniture, including a table, a sofa, and few bookcases.

"I am sure you'll be able to find both knives and target for them here," - stated Serlynne. "Just don't hit any stuff that is not used for combat. I'll be in the cockpit if you'll need me."

"I have my own." He said as he took out a pair of knives from his trenchcoat, which he then took off, revealing a body littered with scars on both sides from all sorts of weapons, with barely any part of his skin unscarred. Turning away from Serlynne, he began to whack on the target.

Serlynne lingered behind Mean's back for a few seconds, checking out his countless scars, then headed back to the cockpit. Once inside, the assassin slipped once again into the left armchair and pressed a few buttons on the keyboard. She still felt very uncomfortable letting a stranger walk around her ship, so Serlynne decided to take a couple of precautions. First, she locked down all parts of the ship, except for main room, the bathroom and the cockpit. Then the assassin activated security cameras, hidden all over the "Ghost Shadow", chose the feed from the ones located in the main room, enlarged the images they provided, and began to watch Mean with great attention.

Mean continued to hit the target, rapidly increasing his speed as he went on. Eventually he reached the point where he could no longer increase his speed. He kept up his pace until he managed to bury one of his knifes into the target. Cursing, he yanked at the knife for several minutes. When it finally came out, he stumbled backward into a wall, smashing his head against it. Cursing even more, he tossed his knifes directly at the target in a fury, burying them in the target again. Grumbling curses under his breath, he looked down to see one of the knifes had cut into his arm, and walked into the bathroom to wash off his arm.

Serlynne frowned. Her past experience suggested that people with anger management issues would be lousy partners in any mission. The assassin wondered, if Zero was thinking the same thing - she, did, in fact, permitted Serlynne to use any means possible to restrain Mean short of killling him...

The assassin's train of thought was interrupted by loud beeping of the ship's holoterminal. Serlynne looked at the frequency of the caller and swore under her breath - it was Rainbird. She quickly interrupted the call and then blocked the line. Rainbird, no doubt would be pissed off and full of suspicions, but there was no way Serlynne would talk with a member of SIS while an Imperial Agent was aboard her ship.

Mean finished in the bathroom and stormed back into the cockpit, after putting his trenchcoat back on, and sat back down in the chair "So, what boring crap did I miss?"

Serlynne, who switched off her cameras as soon as she heard approaching footsteps, made her best to look calm and relaxed.

"Just another client, who picked a wrong time to call me," - she said casually. "Speaking of boring crap, who were you after on Hoth? Republic forces or White Maw's scum?"

"You avoid my questions then expect me to answer yours? Funny. None of your business. Suffice it to say, I have quite a bit of experience working on Hoth. You don't need to know anything beyond that. You don't make a habit of telling people about your jobs, do you?"

"No, I don't," - admitted Serlynne. "But since I am a curious person by nature, I am willing to make an exception and offer you an exchange. I'll tell you about my time on Hoth, and you will tell me about yours."

Mean sat there a moment, considering "I warn you now, it is not a happy tale by any stretch of the imagination. There is no happy ending, or any crap like that, and it is not something I usually talk about. Even Zero does not know about it. If you are fine with all that, then I will tell you." He took out his knife again as he spoke, sharping it.

Serlynne could barely believe her ears. "Oh, for Hutt's sake, Agent, I am a freelance assassin, not a 5 years old girl!" - she exclaimed almost angrily. "Let's hear it."

Mean surged, then started talking, keeping his eyes on his knife the whole time "Well, I told you I have experience on hoth, more than most. That is because I was born and raised there. And I was raised by the white maw, no less. My father? He was the leader. As you might guess, I wasn’t exactly given a normal childhood. When I was at the age most kids were getting potty trained at, I was making my first kills and being taught in the ways of killing, torture, and whatever else you can think of. When I displeased my father, when I screwed up, or when he was just bored, He.....went to town on me, so to speak. You saw the scars, I am sure.

The white maw, and by extension Hoth itself, is a place of kill or be killed. Over time, I adapted to it, learned to appreciate the finer aspects of killing. But, I did too well. It reached the point where my father was afraid I was going to kill him and take his place. So, he sent me out to the snowy wastes with a few other people and tried to have them kill me. They failed, clearly. By the time I got back, they had left. My father had found out his assassins failed. So, I tracked them, using whatever means I had to in order to survive. Be it killing for shelter, stealing food, even a few instances of cannibalism when no food was to be found. After a few weeks, I tracked him to where he had moved, cut down any guards in my way, and shoved my knife up his ***.

Once he was dead, I took over his place for a bit. We started expanding. Back in those days, the white maw was not the powerhouse it is today. I was at the head of plenty of raids on all sorts of targets, and we started getting more people, more resources, and such. But, you have been to Hoth. Not much to do there, you know? I got bored eventually, started looking for ways to spice things up. That’s when I decided to break off, leave Hoth. So, I lead a raid on a republic base, and used the confusion to steal a ship and get offworld." He looked up from his knife "Satisfied?"

"Indeed," - nodded Serlynne, who was really impressed by Mean's story. "You have learned skills, that were necessary in order to survive, then done all you could to stay alive and eliminate your enemy, and you succeeded at both. To me, all this sounds like a satisfying tale with a happy ending." She paused and looked at Mean with a newly found respect. "I take it, now it is my turn?"

"Guess so, let's hear it" Mean replyed, putting his knife away.

Serlynne turned her armchair to the front window of the cockpit, and, staring into the open space beyond it, began to tell her story.

Imperial Intelligence sent me to Hoth a few years ago to track down and eliminate a Rodian named Xander Zann. Before he ended up on Hoth, Zann was a pirate, a drug dealer and a smuggler – in other words, a typical member of the galactic underworld. However, in addition to a usual piracy, Zann had a tendency to attack governmental convoys, Republic and Imperial alike, that were carrying food, supplies and weapons, and steal their cargo for himself or to sell it on the black market. All efforts to catch Zann failed, mostly because he was a good tactician and a careful opponent: Zann entered a battle with enemy fleet that he knew he couldn’t defeat. According to rumors, Zann had several bases of operations in the Hutt’s space, but he obviously was paying the Cartel part of his profits, so the Families wasn’t very forthcoming about their locations.

Then someone in the Empire had come up with a clever plan to defeat Zann once and for all. Intelligence spread rumors about a lousy defended convoy that was carrying supplies and weapons to the Imperial garrison on Hoth in order to help it fight against both White Maw and Republic troops. The convoy indeed existed and was sent to Hoth’s system, where it was eventually attacked by Zann’s fleet. The pirates quickly overpowered the defenders and proceeded to board the ships to retrieve their cargo. They were right in the middle of transporting stolen goods back to their fleet, when Imperial Navy entered Hoth’s system and immediately started to annihilate all the other ships, including the ones in the convoy. Zann’s entire rag-tag fleet was caught unaware and obliterated in a matter of minutes, but the Rodian himself managed to escape in a lifepod. He made it to Hoth’s surface, where his ship disappeared was lost in a snowstorm. Empire assumed that even if the pirate survived the crash, the planet would finish him and their fleet took off.

A month have passed, and the reports from Hoth began to indicate, that the attacks that White Maw carried out against both Imperial and Republic forces on the planet, suddenly became much more coordinated and efficient. Imperial sources inside the ranks of the White Maw reported rumors about a new commander that recently arrived on Hoth and is helping the pirates by planning their attacks. Imperial Intelligence checked their records, and failed to anyone who would fit the description, but then they remembered about Zann, and the fact that his body was never found. However, Empire still decided that whatever it was after on Hoth was more important, then hunting one pirate, and that’s when I came into the picture.

I docked Imperial Orbital station and took a shuttle to their base. Imperial Intelligence provided me with a fake ID, that pointed to me as one of their field agents. The commanding officer of the base offered me a speeder, supplies and a guide - I took everything except for the latter. Not only travelling without a guide was far more interesting challenge, but also I didn’t really need him. Imperial spies inside the White Maw were tasked with finding the exact location where Zann was kept, and before they were exposed and murdered, one of them managed to send coordinates of the area inside which I was going to find my target.

The place in question turned out to be full of rocks, cliffs and mountains riddled with dozens of ice caves – a perfect place to hide a person or even a whole base. Speeder was of no use there, so I left it. What I began to do next could only be described as a simple and boring routine: using my grappling hook I lifted myself to one of the caves, scanned it for any lifeforms, then used the hook to get to another. If the detector showed something, I quickly searched the cave before moving to the next one. For the most part the ice caverns were empty, sometimes there was a wampa or two inside, and a couple of times I stumbled upon small White Maw holdouts. Some of the pirates I was forced to kill immediately, others I was able to interrogate first, but they knew nothing of about Zann.

So I kept searching, stopping only to eat and to sleep. My supplies were slowly dwindling, but I couldn’t allow myself to return to the Imperial base, because I was afraid that after finding the spies in it’s midst, the White Maw could decide to transfer Zann to the entirely different location at any time, thus destroying my chances of finding him. I was starting to wonder if Wampa’s meet is edible at all, when I finally found what could be the location of my target. It was a small valley, hidden in the mountains, which surrounded it from all sides. There was only one cave inside the valley, and a pirate camp was located right in front of it. The pirates constantly were entering and exiting the cave - apparently a vital part of their base was placed inside.

I waited till the night, then used my stealth device and slipped inside the cave. Since I had no map, all I could do was to search this place and scan it’s residents in order to find which one of them was Zann. So I moved down the passages, avoiding or slipping past large groups of pirates and taking out staggers and loners. In both cases I checked everyone I encountered, but none was my target.

At last I entered a large cavern, that apparently served both a storage and a prison, because Xander Zann was there, chained to a chair, as well as a dozen other criminals, who were armed and minding their business. First few of them I picked up from stealth, but after being discovered I employed another tactics, that mostly consisted from moving quickly from one place to another, hiding behind crates and containers, and dispatching the enemies with few precise shots. One of the remaining pirates run to Zann and freed him from chains, only for Rodian to snap the man’s neck and take his rifle. While I was busy killing the last of his captors, Zann grabbed some grenades and ammo and only then attacked me. He tried to shoot me with his plasma rifle, and used grenades to keep me distracted, while staying in cover himself. But I was moving too fast for Zann to hit me, and the grenades soon caused a cave in, that sealed the exit. In the heat of the battle I considered it to be a good thing, because pirates in other parts of the cave definitely could hear the sounds of fighting and would come to aid their comrades.

Meanwhile the battle came to a stalemate. I got a few cuts and bruises, and still couldn’t get a clear drop on Zann, but he wasn’t able to finish me either. I can only guess, what run out first – Zann’s patience or his ammo. All I know, is that he threw last of his grenades in my direction, abandoned his cover and attacked me from behind. He kicked blasters from my hands and came at me with two combat knives in this hands. I didn’t carry my own knives for this mission, so I was forced to use my knowledge of martial arts. Before I disarmed him, Zann’s knives got to me a couple of times, but since the wounds weren’t fatal and I was taught to tolerate high amounts of pain, we continued to fight. Zann managed to break me a few ribs, and nearly broke my hand, but eventually his fear and anger took the best of him, while I stayed calm and focused, so in the end I won by nearly strangling Zann to death and then breaking his neck.

I checked the Rodian’s life sighs to make sure Zann was really dead, made a few photos of his body to serve as proof for my contact in the Imperial Intelligence, picked up my weapons and went to check the exit from the caverm. It was mostly blocked by the cave in, but I had no desire to meet with the pirates who no doubt were on the other side of it anyway. Instead I decided to check the cavern for any sights of a secret backdoor. I was still in process of searching it an hour later, when a part of the wall, that was undistingushable from the rest of it, slid aside and a small group of pirates entered the cave. Apparently they were scouts or messengers, but either way unlike me they weren’t ready for an attack. I left one of them alive so I could interrogate him about this secret passage. As it turned out, the corridor was leading through the mountains surrounding the valley to the open plains beyond it and served as a short way for delivering supplies and launching an attack against the enemies of the White Maw. After I finished my prisoner, I used this passage to leave the base, but not before I planted my own explosives inside it so the underground corridor collapsed beyond my back.

The rest was simple. I tracked down my speeder – which was easy due to it having his own transmitter, and returned to the Imperial Base. Commanding officer offered me medical help, but I refused and returned to my spaceship instead. There I contacted Imperial Intelligence, reported and verified the death of Xander Zann for them, made sure they transferred my well-earned money into my account, and spend a few days in the colto tank, before jumping to the other side of galaxy to complete another assignment for an entirely different client .

“I think, this pretty much sums it up, Agent”- said Serlynne, still staring into cold space beyond the cockpit.

Mean sat there silently as she told the tale "This Zann, he must have arrived after I left the White Maw, I have no memory of him. Tell you what; I think we got off to a bad start. How about we start over, so to speak? Understand my mistrust of you was based off of your job, it wasn’t really personal. I worked as a bounty hunter for years before I got co-opted into intelligence, and I rarely, if ever saw someone in the same job you could trust."

"I wonder if you still would be so friendly If I told you about my work for Republic instead" - thought Serlynne.

"Which is exactly the way it should be," - noted the assassin. "In my line of work trust can easily get you killed, so I chose not to trust anyone no matter who or what they are."

"Yep, I learned that lesson the hard way, some bastards in the republic used me for a job, then handed me over to the imps on a silver platter. You ever been in an imperial prison? Not a pleasant experience, and this is coming from the guy who grew up in the white maw. Never trust those hypocrites."

"I can assure you, Republic and Empire are not the only ones, capable of terrible things," - said Serlynne. "I used to work for a Hutt who was extremely good at torture and wouldn't hesitate to apply it even to his own servants. But even before Jargo... " The assassin stopped when she realized she started to reveal facts about her life she didn't intend to, and abrubtly changed the subject: "In any case, we will be entering Hoth's system very soon. I have to go and change into an outfit more suitable for cold climate."

She pushed a few buttons on the keyboard, unlocking the bedroom, stood up and went towards the exit.

meanken's Avatar


meanken
02.11.2013 , 11:08 AM | #60
Dorn base, Hoth

The imperial shuttle with Mean and Serlynne on board was rapidly descending into Hoth’s atmosphere. This time both of them were merely passengers, sitting behind the pilot’s chair. Serlynne’s own shuttle was left inside the “Ghost Shadow”, which was docked to Imperial orbital station. Mean was quietly staring at his knife as he sharpened it, his face showing nothing but his usual bored expression.

"I suggest we request two speeders from the the commanding officer of the base and move out to given coordinates." - said Serlynne, still looking at white abyss beyond the cockpit's front window. She was wearing her typical leather outfit, only this version was thicker and had build-in thermal systems, as well as a hood.

"Sounds like a plan. One of the few perks of this job is that I get to boss around lower ranked imps. It's always fun to watch them scramble like headless banthas to cater to your every whim. Also, gotta ask.....how many of those things you got? You ever wear anything else? I don't care how many thermal systems you got in that, it's not exactly suited for this kind of planet, you know? "

"This costume suits my purposes just fine, Agent, and it's the only thing that matters." - retorted Serlynne. "In truth, I am more worried about your knives. I hope you have other weapons as well?"

Mean pulled out a knife from inside his trenchcoat "Ya, I have guns and grenades and crap too. I can handle myself, don't you worry" the shuttle shook as it landed, and Mean stood up "Let's get this over with."

Serlynne left her chair as well, ready to follow Mean: "Like you said, you are the Imperial Agent, so it would make more sense if you are the one asking local administration for assistance. Lead the way."

"Oh, ya, about that....I really don't feel like explaining who you are to every damn guy I talk to, so we are keeping it simple. Until we get off this planet, you are Agent Banshee. Makes it easier for both of us. Now, let's go." He walked out of the shuttle and started yelling "Ok, I need to talk to whoever is in charge of the speeders and equipment in this base right now!"

A trooper nearby who had come to unload the shuttle turned to them. "That'll be Lieutenant Cibinel, you'll find him down this corridor, right side." he said. "Hoth Scouting Regiment is the label."

"Thank you, trooper” Mean flipped him a credit he walked down the hallway and entered the room "Lieutenant Cibinel? You in here? Intelligence has need of your services" Serlynne silently followed Mean and now was standing behind his back.

Two men looked up from their work. One was sitting on his desk, the other standing at a work bench with a scout droid in front of him.

"What kind of services does Intelligence require?" asked the man at the desk in a desintrested voice.

The man fixing the droid on the other hand strained his ears. He was Specilist Arnn, and if Imperial Intelligence had something going on here, he probably should report it back to the SIS.

"All you need to know is that we need 2 speeders and enough supplys for.....oh, let's say 2 days."

"Allright," said Lieutenant Cibinel. He looked some things up on his console. "I'll have the speeders and supplies prepared within an hour. I'll also dispatch one of my scouts as your guide."

"Sir," Arnn seized the chance. "I'd volunteer for that."

"There is no need,"- finally spoke Serlynne. "We know exactly where we must go"

Mean facepalmed as he heard the proposal Morons "There is also the rather important fact that what we are doing is classified"

"With all due respect sir," Arnn said. "The new speeders have a failure rate of almost 40% in Hoth's cold. Per day. Do you intend to call me over a comm channel and wait for half a day till I arrive to fix them up?"

He paused a short moment. Maybe I should have been more assertive? he thought while looking at Mean.

"In addition, if your mission is anything different from meeting a contact, I highly suggest to take advanced scouting equipment: electromagnetic, seismic and thermal sensors, two scout droids and two electrobinocular. Yes, every other kind of mission.
Also, if you plan the trip to take two days, you should get supplies for six days in this season."

If one of these two agents was a Sith, Arnn wouldn't have chosen this tone. Probably also if he had known they both had been to Hoth. The content would have been the same, though.

"I know how to fix a broken speeder, soldier," - replied Serlynne. Actually she was taught how to sabotage one, but this knowledge went both ways. "And we are not interested in your suggestions."

"You are familiar with the NR-302-'developed for arctic terrain'-failbike?" Arnn raised his eyebrow intrigued. (He actually exaggerated how intrigued he was.)

The NR-302 was a speeder developed by the imperial military for the use in polar regions and planets like Hoth. Of course, as soon as it had been delivered and the old speeders were gone, it started to not work in the cold. Well, it did work if you used it, but storing it in the cold to long and the repulsor lift generators got problems. Obviously, it was tested in extreme cold test chambers, but not for exceeded periods of time. The Hoth crew would surely succeed in adapting them, but that would take a few more weeks or month.

"Lets just say I am proficient in various technologies," - Serlynne answered evasively. "Such skills are necessary for performing my job."

"I have no doubt about it," Arnn said. "Still, I would be surprised if you had experience in, lets say, deiceing or changing a cold-deformed repulsor lift generator with a cold deformed conduit without it breaking when you restart the speeder. I ruined 13 RLGs until I had it"

Mean rolled his eyes at all the talk and walked up to Arnn, getting in his face "Perhaps you do not understand the meaning of classified. Let me spell it out for you. Classified-Crap Listed As **** Seriously Intended For Intelligence Ears *******. You cannot go because we don't know you; we cannot trust you with the sensitive crap we have to go deal with. Have I made my damn point clear? Cause we don't have time for this ****"

"I am sure the specialist is only trying to ensure your mission to be a success," said Lieutenant Cibinel. "The speeders are in the speeder pad." He waved to Arnn.

Arnn stood up, "Follow me!", he sighed.

Mean continued to roll his eyes as he followed Arnn, clearly extremly annoyed at the delay. Serlynne, calm as ever, went after him.

They reached the room at the other side of the base. Speeders were standing around there.

"Take your pick!" Arnn said sarcastically and leaned at the cold wall. Command had intended to do the troops on Hoth a favor with replacing all speederswith the new NR-302. Which hadn't worked out as intended.

"Take your pick? That your idea of a joke? They are all the same damn speeder!"

I could tell some of them appart by subtle differences, but I guess I would bore you, Arnn though, but he didn't say anything.

"To you, perhaps." - replied Serlynne and began to move slowly along the row of speedeers, looking narrowly at each as she passed. When the assassin reached the last one, she stopped for a second, then turned around and approached one of the NR-302 in the middle. Serlynne squatted down next to it, quickly checked a few things, then stood up and announced: "I will take this one."

Mean walked over to the one right next to Serlynne's, grumbling under his breath something about milltary funding: "Fine, guess I will take this one. Ready to get out of here, Agent?" He asked, grinning at Serlynne.

"Sure, Agent, as soon as we'll have our supplies", - she replied with a smile.

"Tracking device inside the main console, left side," Arnn said, still leaning at the wall. "You seem a little careless for a classified mission."

Mean, enraged, stormed over and slammed Arnn against the wall "I don't recall asking your opinion. Now...."He drew his knife and held it right in front of his nose "You have 10 seconds to explain to me how you knew about the tracing device without checking the speeder first."

Arnn stood silent in shock for a moment. He realized he might have brought himself into a dangerous situation. This agent was totally different from how he had allways imagined Imperial Intelligence.

As calm as possible and carefully avoiding any tone of mockery, he explained: "These are military speeders. They all have built in tracking devices so we can find them when someone crashes or gets lost due to environment condition or attacks. Naturally, I have checked several times that the tracking device is working as intended in the past."

"Agent Mean, please calm down," - called Serlynne. She didn't care about Arnn's life in the slightest, it's the reaction of the base's garrison to his death she was worried about. As for the tracking devices on the speeders, the assassin intended to find and remove all of them as soon as she and Mean will leave the base far behind anyway.

Mean moved the knife away and pointed at the speeders with it "Remove the devices. No one can know where we are going, not even the military. And be quick about it, we are in a hurry."

Arnn nodded and went over to the speeder. With a few quick movements he removed the entire main console.

"If you need to leave ASAP, you'll have to fly manually," he said while he moved over to Serlynne's speeder. He also removed her main console.

"This is about the artifact from the Formal Request, isn't it?" he asked knowingly. He didn't actually know it, it was a wild guess. The Formal Request was the only thing which could interest Imperial Intelligence he knew about from the Holonet, because the sender hadn't even tried to keep it secret.

Mean was starting to wonder about this scout. This guy is asking FAR too many questions. No real imperial asks this many questions to their superiors about things that don't even affect them. "It. Is. Classified. How many damn times do I have to say it?" He mounted his speeder "You had best learn your place, scout. Go back to your dead end job in the middle of nowhere, and leave the real work to the pros." Mean waited for Serlynne to leave, since she had the location of the cave.

I'm a terrible spy, Arnn though. He had used everything he could. If they left without him, he would inform the Republic as soon as possible. That's what I should have done from the beginning.

Meanwhile Serlynne got on the speeder, activated the engine and turned the vehicle towards the exit from the hangar.

"We are going to get supplies and head out," - she said to Arnn. "Get the scouting equipment you mentioned earlier, load in on your speeder, and meet us near the entrance of the base. It seems you are useful enough to accompany us after all. Agent Mean, please follow me."

With these words the assassin pressed a few buttons and her speeder proceeded to leave the hangar at full speed.

Mean stared at her, enraged that she had apparently completly disreguarded his desision. He violently started the speeder and moved after her at top speed.

Serlynne drove her speeder all the way back to the shuttle, accompanied by curious glances from the Imperials. Ignoring them all, she stopped and waited for Mean to catch up with her.

Mean drove up next to her, and stared at her with pure rage in his eyes "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING! DOES THE WORD CLASSIFIED MEAN NOTHING TO YOU? YOU THINK I WANT TO BE STUCK WITH SOME ODDLY CURIOUS SCOUT FOR THE DURATION OF THIS TRIP? THIS PLANET IS MISRABLE ENOUGH WITHOUT THAT!"

"Shut up and listen to me, Agent," - Serlynne said evenly. "First this scout volunteered to come with us. Then, when we refused him, this man insisted we took him because of his experience, even after I told him it is not needed. He even told us about the tracking device in order to gain our trust and learn about our mission. Finally. he went as far as trying to connect it to the Request, without having any proof of the connection. Do you understand what it can possibly mean?"

Mean threw up his hands "Of course I do! I am not an idiot, that guy was asking FAR too many qustions for an imperial. these are people who are trained to nod their brainwashed heads and say little more but yes sir to their superiors. So, Why in the HELL did you invite the guy to come with us? Just let me report the ******* to intel, and let him be someone else's problem."

"Because time is of the essence, Agent," - explained Serlynne. "We don't have any real proof that this scout is a spy and we certainly can't stay here and waste time with Imperial protocols for such matters. Besides, there is no telling if this man has any allies inside local command. So we will take the scout with us, interrogate him, and then deal with the man as we see fit"

Meanken grinned "Now you are talking. But if this backfires on us, you are taking the blame. Zero rails on me for enough things as it is."

Serlynne only shrugged.

"Hoth is a dangerous place", - she said, smirking. "If the scout will be shot by the White Maw or ripped apart by an angry wampa, how can we be held responsible for his own misfortune? Come on, Agent Mean, we have a treasure to find."

Meanwhile, Arnn loaded the second scout droid onto his speeder. He was... unsure about the whole thing. On the one hand he seemed to have convinced the female agent (he still didn't know her codename). He had mentioned something they could be after. So this probably ment they were after this artifact and it had somehow come from Coruscant to Hoth. So she thought that he knew it already, thus the classified was less important and she could take use of his tech. But the two agents played in all probability much more advanced spy games than he did. Maybe they had something different in mind. If he went with them, he couldn't inform the SIS right now. And if they discovered his true affiliation...

But, if he succeeded and could report back, it would definitly have been worth the risk. He fixed the droid in place and started the speeder.