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All the world's a stage


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Syart
03.21.2013 , 01:57 PM | #101
The weather was in their favour. It turned the next day, with a storm coming in from the west, sending cold grey curtains of rain sweeping down the valley and causing the cancellation of most of the available expeditions. They met Sgorr and Tuath at breakfast.

"I'm going to spend the day in the hotel spa, I think", announced Cirean. "A nice bit of pampering and preening where it's warm and dry."

"Very nice too, until the bill comes in", observed Twelve.

Cirean put on a pouty face. "Don't you want me to be beautiful?"

"You're already beautiful, my love." Twelve smirked and they all laughed.

"I think that's a wonderful plan", said Tuath. "Should you mind if I joined you, my dear?"

"Of course not!" exclaimed Cirean. "It'll be lovely, we can have a nice girly day of gossip without any men to complain at us."

All three men rolled their eyes.

"So what are you all going to do while Tuath and I enjoy ourselves?" Cirean asked.

"I shall put some work in on my insectoid samples and do some research on the holonet", said Lokin. "I might go out for a walk later, if the rain eases off."

Cirean made a face. "This is supposed to be a holiday, why do you have to work?"

"Once a biologist, always a biologist."

"True." Cirean sighed. "I remember all the worms you collected when we holidayed at Axial Park one summer and kept in the fridge."

"Only for a week!" Lokin protested. "Then I took them out again."

"Only because Mom made you!"

Tuath was chuckling. "You can tell me all these anecdotes in the spa, dear, in peace and privacy."

Sgorr, Twelve and Cirean all grinned, and Lokin sighed. "Fine, I suppose I shall just have to put up with your teasing and character assassination for the rest of my life."

"You've managed this far, big brother. You'll cope." She punched him on the arm, lightly and playfully.

"Hmph." Lokin stood up, brushing a few toast crumbs off himself. "I shall go and enjoy my work, leaving you to your own frivolous amusements." He stalked off in carefully calculated dignity, leaving a table full of laughter behind him. All was going to plan.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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

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Syart
03.22.2013 , 01:38 PM | #102
Tuath and Cirean had enjoyed the latest aromatherapy facials, a full body seaweed wrap, and a cleansing sauna. Now they'd had a light lunch and were relaxing in bathrobes by the swimming pool while waiting for their manicurist appointments.

"That brother of yours is quite funny, the way he's so obsessed with his biology", said Tuath. "I take it he's always been like that?"

Here we go, thought Cirean. Bait taken, now to land the fish. The disinformation game was one they'd often played and she was looking forward to doing it again. Tuath was an easy mark.

"Oh yes", she said, laughing, and proceeded to prattle artlessly about various things Lokin had done while they were growing up in Tyrena on Corellia, while Tuath laughed, gasped, or winced in vicarious sympathy, as appropriate.

As expected, Tuath followed on. "What does he do these days? Does he talk about his work much?"

"Hmm." Cirean frowned a little. "Now you mention it, he doesn't really. He used to, when he was working at the university hospital with Professor ... what was her name? ... Eilean something ... Assynt, that was it. There wasn't anything between them, you know? At least I never noticed it if there was. But I think he sort of hero-worshipped her quite a lot, and he was full of what they were doing. Not that I understood any of it." She grinned. "Then the Professor left, under a bit of a cloud I think, but I don't know what happened with her exactly. A bit after that Eckard changed jobs away from the university and now he does something for the government. He's very cagy about it, but maybe it's because of the war effort, or something."

"Of course, he'd have to keep things confidential, I'll not ask any more about that.” She smiled comfortably. “You said he was at the hospital, is he a doctor too?"

"Yes, the Coronet University Medical School and Teaching Hospital, to give it its full name. He did do medical training, but he never actually worked as a doctor. He started research under Professor Assynt instead, biochem, I think? I know genetics came into it somewhere." She injected a note of uncertainty into her voice.

Tuath chuckled. "Sciencey things are all very confusing. Let's change the subject a bit. He still lives on Corellia, doesn't he? You said there wasn't anything with him and his Professor, but has he ever found a nice girl to share his life with?"

"Yes, he's still in Coronet City and no, I'm not sure there's anyone suitable." Cirean grinned. "A couple of my friends thought he was quite good looking and very brainy, but when I told them about things like worms in the fridge they went right off him." She grinned again. "He says he's single because he has to travel too much and it's not fair to ask someone to put up with that, but I think it's more likely he just hasn't found anyone."

"Oh, he does a lot of travelling then?"

Cirean nodded. "All the time, he and the Professor were always wanting biological samples from weird places and kept going off together. I hardly ever knew where he was. Not so much with his new job but he still goes off from time to time. I think ... ", she looked around and lowered her voice, "I think he might even have been into Imperial space a few times, looking for stuff with the Professor. He's got this smuggler friend I met once, goes everywhere, no boundaries. And he says, Eckard I mean, says science isn't anything to do with politics, and knowledge should be freely shared with everyone, Empire or Republic, or Hutt Cartel, or whoever."

Tuath looked suitably alarmed and impressed.

Cirean looked around again. "But he couldn't ever be a traitor to the Republic, he's just an idealist and really terrifically loyal. He'd never do anything to hurt his family or friends." She put on a worried expression. "Please don't tell anyone else about that, I probably shouldn't have said anything about it."

"Of course, my dear, I'll not say anything to him and he'll never know you told me." Tuath smiled reassuringly, and Cirean noted the careful wording of the response with an inward grin. This was too easy. She produced a relieved expression.

"Thanks", she said gratefully. "He's my brother, and I do love him, even though he's a pest sometimes. I'm so glad he and Beinn like each other too."

Tuath smiled in a motherly fashion. "Yes it's always nice when everyone in a family gets on. How did you meet Beinn?"

"Well, we've known each other for ages, but we only got together a couple of years ago. We both work for the Core Worlds Central bank, and we were in the same section at the Corellian main office in Coronet City. Then Beinn got promoted and transferred to the CWC Tyrena branch, and then he realised he missed me, so he got back in touch, and I'd been missing him too, so I applied for a transfer back home and it just went on from there. Now we have an apartment in the next block to my parents." She smiled blissfully, not having to fake her feelings for Twelve.

Tuath sighed sentimentally. “I can tell you're very happy together, it's delightful seeing a young couple so much in love.”

The manicurists came to find them then, and the conversation switched to various colour fashions, and what handcare routine was best for healthy nails.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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

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Syart
03.23.2013 , 11:03 AM | #103
While Cirean sowed seeds of doubt about Lokin into the fertile soil of Tuath's suspicion, Twelve had not been idle. He'd got into the rooms either side of Sgorr and Tuath's, and into the maintenance ducts above and below, and got passive listening devices set up all around. He'd also bored a minute hole in the corner of the ceiling and got a pinhole camera with an ultrawide lens viewing the room. It was only 2D, but it could record and then the recording run through software which would make a pseudo-3D holoimage.

Lokin had already hacked into the hotel system, having needed the holocam recordings from the bar, so Twelve extended that into the hotel's local holonet, specifically the terminal in Sgorr and Tuath's room. He set up alerts for searches that might be done on himself and the others, and spent a while preparing convincing-looking records which could be inserted into the search results to show that the stories Cirean was busily feeding to Tuath were real.

Meanwhile, Lokin had spent the day calmly dissecting a few of his specimens, taking samples of the genetic material and various internal organs and storing them in small tubes, which he labelled carefully. This was genuine work, but he doubled up on the samples as he was going to use one set as a decoy later. He'd also done some research on the holonet about the insectoids and their evolution, as he'd said he was going to. He had no need to fake his interest. The insectoids were genuinely fascinating.

Knowing he was being observed by Sgorr, he used mostly Republic data sources: Scholarnet, Medisight, ResearchDB, and other similar infonets, but deliberately added a search of the Imperial BioNet, making sure he paused to make a cup of coffee while the Imperial logo was showing on the login screen, just to make sure Sgorr noticed it.

-----

Observed later:

"Did you have a good day, dear? Cirean was easy to get information out of, such a nice friendly lass, very ready to talk. I have quite a few things to check."

Always more taciturn than his wife, Sgorr grunted an acknowledgement.

Tuath tapped a few notes into a datapad, then, as expected, went to the holonet. Her searches were exactly as predicted, and Twelve's faked records of himself, Cirean and Lokin appeared seamlessly. They had no need to fake the information about Professor Assynt's defection.

"Well well, that explains a lot!" exclaimed Tuath as she found out that Lokin's putative boss had defected.

"What?"

"Eckard used to work very closely with a Professor at the Coronet University hospital. And she's defected to the Empire!"

"Mmm. Left him behind as eyes and ears?"

"That seems very likely indeed to me. For all Cirean thinks there wasn't anything between them, they do seem to have been very close, kept going off travelling together, and I'm sure his idealistic notions about knowledge being shared with everyone would have come from her. Cirean had her suspicions about them going into Imperial space, too. What was he doing today? You managed to keep him under surveillance all right?"

Sgorr nodded. "Did exactly what he said he was going to. Haven't figured who he's working for, but he's got accounts set up on a lot of scientific sites, so I'd not question that he's genuinely in research. One of them was Imperial, can't miss that nasty red logo."

"That does seem to settle it." She sighed.

"Problem?"

"They're a lovely young couple, Beinn and Cirean. I'm convinced the girl has no idea at all what her brother is up to, and they're obviously a close family. Such a shame."

Sgorr grunted.

"I know, we can't afford sentiment", said Tuath. "But it's all very well for the Empire to be cold and heartless. I think this is a great pity and I'd not want to make her unhappy. Do you think we could arrange things so he just vanishes and she never finds out what happened? That would be bad, but at least she'd not have to know he was an Imperial spy."

"Not up to us."

Tuath sighed again. "I know, we're only observer level. We'll just have to pass it up the chain and call in a proper agent."

Sgorr grunted again.

She then logged directly into an SIS hub to upload the information. Twelve, Cirean, and Lokin all shook their heads in bewildered fascination at the blatant incompetence of using an open holonet with no security precautions, as their hack recorded her login details.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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

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Syart
03.25.2013 , 01:17 PM | #104
The next day, very early in the morning.

"This is Fixer, non-secure line. Aphran IV samples obtained, request pickup details."

There was a short pause, caused by the signal being routed via the next star system around several satellites and relay stations to the recipient, whose signal was then bounced around a different route back to him. Then an anonymised droid-like voice responded: "Acknowledged, Fixer. Stand by."

There was empty static for a few minutes, while Lokin busied himself making a secure package of his decoy samples.

The com crackled and the anonymised voice spoke again. "Package drop at pre-arranged point 7-53, 2 days."

"Drop point 7-53, 2 days, confirmed." He ended the call without further ceremony.

The small, flat package, firmly sealed in an unobtrusive dark grey plastic wrapper, was barely bigger than his hand. He dropped it into the side pocket of his pack. Sgorr and Tuath should now be contacting their handler.

***

Cirean, who had been the anonymised voice, dropped her com unit back on the bed and went over to where Twelve was sitting, watching the visual from the pinhole camera and listening to the Mirialans through a headset. "Did they go for it?" she asked.

"Would a nexu go for a womp rat? This is hardly challenging."

She grinned. "It's fun, working together again like this. We do make a good team."

***

"Two days, that would be the day they're going home", said Tuath.

Sgorr nodded.

"We'd better inform Control, get him under observation. Do you think the drop point is at the spaceport? It seems quite likely to me, the sort of place I'd pick."

"Good place for it."

She was already setting up a holomessage. A youngish man in SIS uniform appeared, with a suspiciously open and honest expression, neatly trimmed beard framing a square determined chin.

"Ah, Tuath, and Sgorr. Good to hear from you again. Has there been a further development?"

"Yes sir. The doctor just contacted someone to arrange transferring the samples he collected. Sgorr did notice that he made two extractions of material from everything he'd got. It looks as though he'll be taking one set back for his work on Corellia and handing the other set to the Empire, probably for his Professor. We have the message recorded, but unfortunately I think it'll not be possible to identify his contact, there was no image and the voice was anonymised."

"No matter, it may take a few days but we'll get com records from the hotel and local relay stations and run some traceroutes. In any case, we'll watch him make the drop and then we can monitor the pickup, and of course keep an eye on the good doctor from hereon in. Quite a find, a couple of observers stumbling across an Imperial spy when you're on holiday, and then having the wit to react immediately and follow it up." The SIS man smiled approvingly. "With only basic training, you've done exceptionally well. I'll see to it that you're specially mentioned in the report. Do you think he suspects you at all?"

"Thank you sir." Tuath beamed and Sgorr grunted something inaudible. "And I'm sure he's not suspecting anything, he'd not have made that call just now if he thought he was being watched."

"Good. I'm already on planet, I'll join you at the hotel tomorrow, get a close up look at this doctor. You can introduce me as a friend, coincidental meeting, and all that. I'll pass on your information about the sample transfer to our local branch and arrange full observation."

"There is one thing ..." Tuath said hesitantly.

"Yes?"

"Well, I'm sure his sister and her husband don't know anything, and they're such a sweet young couple." Sgorr made a warning sort of sound in the background but Tuath shushed him impatiently. "It's just that, I'd like to know whether you're going to do something about Eckard, and if you are, can it happen without Cirean and Beinn knowing? I'd not want them upset, if it's possible."

The man chuckled. "Of course. We're the Republic. Unlike the Empire, we try to take care of our innocent citizens. Now that we know about the doctor, we'll just keep him under observation. If it looks as though he's going to do something dangerous, or go all the way over to join his Professor, we'll pick him up, but even then we'll keep it quiet. Otherwise, he won't know, they won't know. We should be able to use him, plant disinformation that he can pass on to the Empire, that sort of thing. Rest assured, no harm will come to your friends."

"Oh, thank you, I do appreciate that." Tuath smiled with relief. "And I'm so glad we could be useful."

***

"Do you think he actually means that?" asked Cirean in some disbelief.

"If he was Imperial Intelligence, certainly not", said Twelve. "Our Mirialan friends seem a little naive in that respect. Then again, the SIS are not the most competent bunch in the galaxy. Some of them do seem to think they need to maintain the softness of the Republic in reality as well as in public. But we can't take chances, we have to assume normal cold-blooded ruthlessness."

Cirean nodded. "So we have to assume that you and I will be under observation too from now on. But at least we can be reasonably sure that Eckard isn't on the verge of being arrested, at least not here on Aphran IV."

Twelve grinned. "Quite a pity. It would be an exciting experience for him, and getting him out of a holding cell would break the monotony of our lives."

"And totally bust our cover", Cirean pointed out, but laughing at the same time.

"A minor problem", said Twelve, waving his hand dismissively.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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

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Beniboybling
03.25.2013 , 03:08 PM | #105
Nice, love how you turned it around from a normal holiday to an Intelligence operation. Oh and the SIS are so very incompetent, gah, placing listening devices in lights *tsk* *tsk* - can't wait for this to blow up in their face.

Ventessel's Avatar


Ventessel
03.25.2013 , 06:02 PM | #106
Love me some good spy thrillers. For the longest time, Burn Notice fed my addiction, but eventually that got monotonous so I've been watching The Americans lately. Looks like your series here might be the next thing I keep my eye on.
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

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Syart
03.26.2013 , 02:26 PM | #107
Quote: Originally Posted by Beniboybling View Post
Nice, love how you turned it around from a normal holiday to an Intelligence operation. Oh and the SIS are so very incompetent, gah, placing listening devices in lights *tsk* *tsk* - can't wait for this to blow up in their face.
It's fun, being an Imperial Agent And it will blow up in the SIS faces *rubs hands with evil glee*

Quote: Originally Posted by Ventessel View Post
Love me some good spy thrillers. For the longest time, Burn Notice fed my addiction, but eventually that got monotonous so I've been watching The Americans lately. Looks like your series here might be the next thing I keep my eye on.
Thank you! Hope you continue to enjoy it

Thanks to everyone else reading too, nearly up to 5000 views
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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

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Syart
03.26.2013 , 02:31 PM | #108
The next morning the three agents and the Mirialans all met at breakfast, as had become normal. It was decided, after a bit of discussion, that they would all take a boat trip up to the small town at the other end of the lake on which the hotel was situated. There they would visit the botanic gardens which had rare Aphranian plants as well as samples of exotics from all over the galaxy. After that, they would look round some of the local shops and do some souvenir buying (the women's intention) or take a tasting tour at the garden's vineyard centre (the men's intention).

As they came out of the dining room and into the reception area, Tuath and Sgorr stopped in apparent surprise. "Why, Harson! Whatever are you doing here?!" exclaimed Tuath.

The man who was checking in looked over, also appearing surprised. "Tuath, I never expected to see you here, and Sgorr. I had a few days leave owing, picked a random place for some peace and quiet. Though if you're going to chatter at me ...."

Tuath chuckled. "I do like to go on a bit sometimes. But let me introduce you to some new friends of ours from Corellia, this is Cirean, her brother Eckard and her husband Beinn. Eckard is a famous biologist, all the children here call him the bug man." She chuckled again.

"Bug man?" queried Harson, looking interestedly at Lokin.

Lokin smiled self-deprecatingly. "I have an interest in the evolutionary abilities of some local insectoids, and a few of the junior members of our little community in the hotel had fun assisting me in gathering samples."

"Insectoids?"

"Giant beetle things", explained Cirean.

Lokin gave an elaborately weary sigh. "They are not beetles, I thought I'd made that clear."

Everyone else laughed.

"Well, perhaps you can tell me more later." Harson smiled politely. "I need to finish checking in just now. Very nice to meet you all."

"Why don't you come out with us today?" asked Cirean with planned spontaneity. "Unless you already have plans, of course. But any friend of Tuath and Sgorr's ..." she produced the friendliest smile she could manage.

"That would be lovely", said Tuath. "It'll be nice to catch up with you, Harson, I haven't heard from your parents in ages. We're not doing anything very strenuous, just a boat trip across the lake, going round some nice gardens, and then Cirean and I are going shopping."

"While us men go and sample some alcoholic delights at a vineyard attached to the gardens", added Twelve. "You'd be very welcome to join us."

"The more the merrier", agreed Lokin.

Harson chuckled. "Well, that's very kind of you. I accept with pleasure. I must say the vineyard sounds more tempting than shopping."

"Wonderful, then we'll not keep you any longer now but we'll see you a bit later. The boat goes in about an hour, I think?" Tuath looked at Sgorr who grunted confirmation.

---

"Throwing me into the gundark nest?" Lokin asked Cirean as they went up in the lift together.

She grinned. "Perfect opportunity. He's longing to get a good close look at you, may as well take advantage for us to get a good look at him too. Anyway, you'll love it, someone else to lecture about beetles."

He eyed her, and Twelve chuckled.

"All right, all right, they're not beetles!" She raised her hands in mock surrender and giggled.

---

They all had a very pleasant day. Harson naturally decided to become very interested in the insectoids and spent a long time talking to Lokin, while Twelve and Cirean recorded him from several angles, and watched him doing the same to Lokin. Fingerprints and DNA samples were easily obtained by both, via the simple expedient of handing datapads back and forth.

Harson was obviously much more highly trained in investigation, and consequently a lot more subtle in his questioning than Tuath had been with Cirean. Lokin rather enjoyed the fencing match, being as careful as he could to answer the questions apparently openly but in such a way as to make it obvious he was avoiding giving certain details, but at the same time without displaying any suspicion about Harson. The bland slipperiness of Dr Ruadh, cultivated since his academy days, stood him in good stead.

The SIS agent also spent some time talking to Cirean and Twelve. Cirean chattered freely, just as she had with Tuath, and she and Twelve were reasonably certain that his suspicion was allayed as far as they were concerned. Nevertheless, they didn't relax. Lokin confirmed later that Harson had been recording Cirean and Twelve too.

---

"I've missed this", he said later to Twelve and Cirean as they sat on the terrace in the warm evening after dinner, quietly talking over the day under the shield of his sound damper. "That adrenaline rush, living on the edge. Nothing like active agenting. Do you think they'll let me back in one day?" He sounded almost wistful.

"It's addictive, especially when you're good at it", Cirean said with a smile.

"Take heart though", said Twelve. "You're picking up useful information sniffing around the ISB. And you'll be let back in one day, don't worry. Imperial Intelligence needs all the good agents it can get."

"Hmph. Maybe." Lokin looked sceptical. "Not as long as Keeper is still there, he couldn't wait to kick me out."

Twelve shook his head. "You persist in misjudging him, but that's a discussion for another time. Are we all clear on Corellia tomorrow?"

"Indeed”, said Lokin. “I have all the safe house addresses memorised and Coronet City is the easiest place in the galaxy to lose a tracker. The rocket trams, that maze of multilevel streets and alleyways, the Selonian tunnels, all the shopping malls and offices and apartment blocks with multiple exits on different levels." He grinned. "It's been a while, but I can manage. All I have left to do is to choose a nice place round the spaceport here to drop my package before leaving."

"And then we leave the SIS to stew in baffled fury when they find out how we've duped them." Cirean laughed happily. "I wish I could be a fly on the wall of Harson's office when he gets all his reports back."

"Not a fly, you should be a beetle", suggested Twelve with a grin.

Lokin rolled his eyes theatrically. "I shall leave you to your ignorance. See you in the morning." He went off to his room, leaving Twelve and Cirean to enjoy their last evening together.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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

Ventessel's Avatar


Ventessel
03.26.2013 , 06:11 PM | #109
Another enjoyable installment. I actually have some subterfuge about to go down in Coronet City in my own story; as you said, it's the best place in the galaxy to lose a tail.
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

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Syart
03.28.2013 , 01:38 PM | #110
Quote: Originally Posted by Ventessel View Post
Another enjoyable installment. I actually have some subterfuge about to go down in Coronet City in my own story; as you said, it's the best place in the galaxy to lose a tail.
I'll look forward to reading it
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

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