Zakath was enjoying a rare leave of absence from the Nighthawk, and was currently in a second floor rented apartment within Estile City, sitting outside on his tiny deck, a cigar lit and clamped within his serpent-like lips as he gazed up at the darkening sky as night fell, the first stars of twilight appearing like diamonds within the velvet sky.
“Father?” A cool voice broke the silence as Nath Voth stepped out onto the deck, regarding her self-adopted father and Master with her inky-black eyes. “I have a mission for you.”
Zakath allowed a cloud of tobacco smoke to float out of his mouth in a slow drift as he exhaled slowly, before rolling his head sideways to glance at the Iridonian woman. “Did Edraven send you?”
Nath didn’t blink as the tobacco smoke drifted past her face, her pale hand dipping into her pocket to retrieve a datacard, passing it on to the Barabel. “He did.”
“Paid you well, I hope.” Zakath grunted as he took the card, popping it into the datapad he had laying on the table, his thick accent appearing as he continued to speak. “Really, I’m surprized you didn’t headbutt him for azking you to do hiz gruntwork.”
“I was in a good mood.” Nath replied dryly as she leaned against the fence ringing the small deck. “And he did pay well. Otherwise he might be dealing with a few holes in his face right now.”
The Sith Battlemaster merely snorted in amusement as he took another draw from his cigar before turning his attention to the datapad, his green eyes instantly picking up every word on the display screen. After a moment, he returned his gaze to his Apprentice, a toothy grin forming around the cigar.
“Edraven needz a intel broker killed.” Zakath let a harsh chuckle escape him. “Trained martial artizt too. Alright…”
Nath remained silent, cocking her head slightly as she regarded her Master, a slight smile touching her lips.
“Tell Edraven that I accept.” Zakath finished. “It’z been a while since I had a good fight. Perhapz thiz woman will provide an amuziing diztraction.”
“You can tell him yourself.” Nath snorted slightly. “I may be your Apprentice, but I’m not your lackey.”
Zakath merely sighed and rolled his eyes skyward as he took another puff from his cigar.
A rough male voice rasped out as Zakath stepped outside of the taxi speeder, tossing a credit chit with a hundred credits applied to it.
“Keep the change.” Zakath said to the cabbie, who nodded with a slight grin, pocketing the chit before driving off.
“Who are you?” The Sith asked as a middle-aged human male stepped up to him boldly, dressed in a dirty uniform remsent of a factory foreman.
“You don’t need to know my name.” The human replied with a slight smirk. “I’m an agent with the DIA. You are the asset that Commissioner Edraven contracted, yes?”
“Yez.” Zakath grunted as he crossed his arms, his green eyes beginning to be overshadowed by glowing violet light, a reflection of the Dark Side as the Sith drew upon it. “And I suggezt you don’t refer to me az an azzet again.”
The human swallowed, or rather tried to, only to find an invisible vice clamped around his throat. The man’s eyes bugged out slightly before Zakath let out a brief hissing laugh and released the agent. “…my apologizes, Chief Zakath.”
The Barabel merely nodded slightly at the apology. “Now, mizzion layout, you have a plan?”
“Yes.” The agent replied, clearing his throat. “This way please, we shouldn’t speak in public.
Twenty minutes later, Zakath followed the agent into a ramshackle apartment building deep within the Capac ring of Estile City, obviously built for the lowest of the factory workers that kept the Dajorra’s system economy humming. But as he followed the agent into the apartment, the Barabel found to his slight surprise that high-tech computers were set up everywhere, wires connecting them neatly tied off and out of the way, while agents manned each terminal, some analyzing streams of data appearing on the screen while others watched what appeared to be surveillance monitors stationed at key points around the city.
“As you can see, this operation has been under way for quite some time now.” The agent said to the Barabel as he picked up a datapad from what appeared to be the primary operations table, his gray eyes flicking down to read. “We’re watching several spies, brokers, and so forth. Your mission is to eliminate the Omwati woman, Maryia Q’enari.”
“Why uze me?” Zakath asked, his tone a skeptical hiss. “You have your own daggerz. Uze them.”
“We do have our own assassins yes, but we want to provoke several other targets into making moves of their own in a reaction, and we believe that the assassination of one of their own by a Sith will provide the desired result.”
“You want her death public.” Zakath replied, his lips curving into a serpent’s grin.
“And graphic.” The agent nodded in agreement. “You are free to use any methods necessary, but we would prefer a messy end, decapitation of the head or severing the limbs would do nicely. The result should incite fear into our targets and provoke them into making a rash move that would allow our agents to follow behind.”
“Very well.” Zakath said, his smirk widening. “You have her location?”
“And a plan.” The human smiled up at Zakath before gesturing to the table. “Let’s go over it now.”
Maryia Q’enari was a woman who prided herself on being well prepared for every possible scenario, having multiple escape routes laid out, and most important of all, having the instincts to know with a glance when something was about to go wrong. It was a talent that had saved her skin on countless occasions.
So when Maryia got off work from a part-time job in a dirty but functional cafe that she had acquired to provide a cover for her current stay in the slums of the Capac Ring of Estile City and began her walk home, alarm bells began to ring inside her mind as her vibrant blue eyes noted a few people that she had never seen before on her usual route.
The agents were good, she had to admit that. They dressed like and appeared to be tired factory workers that had just got off a long shift, and were either heading home to prop up their feet and have a beer, or were going to the bars and taverns for another evening of watching sports games on the vidscreen.
But Maryia did not get to where she was now by being sloppy in her observation skills. Certain tells gave the agents away, slight bulges in the uniforms revealed concealed weapons, their postures just a tad too stiff for the average factory worker. It all added up to one thing.
The DIA had finally located her, and were about to take her into custody.
She continued walking casually as her mind instantly went through her various escape routes, considering the merits and drawbacks of each one as she began to subtly change her route to head toward the transit center where speeders were waiting to convey people to Giletta Spaceport, where a private ship was waiting for her, covert pay-offs of spaceport officials ensuring that nobody paid too close attention to it.
Deciding on a plan, she fished out a communicator and activated a certain frequency.
“Hello? Yes, I would like to order some dinner.” The Omwati woman said calmly as she strolled along, shifting her bag upward on her shoulder casually.
“We see the agents trailing you.” Her contact replied back, his voice cold as usual. “Which plan are you considering for extraction?”
“I think a nerf steak with some yamok sauce, along with a bottle of Corellian brandy would do nicely.” She kept her pose as she spoke calmly into the comm, her eyes staying forward as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
“Divert agents once you hit the transit center, acknowledged.”
Within fifteen minutes, the Omwati woman had reached the bustling transit center. As she slipped through the lobby doors and went to purchase a ticket from one of the automated kiosk machines, she could see from the corner of her eyes that the DIA agents trailing her were beginning to pick up speed as they sensed that their chances of catching her were beginning to slip through their grasp. As she stepped up to tap the screen of the kiosk, several burly aliens stepped up to the various DIA agents.
“Hey buddy, got some credits?” One alien, a three-eyed Gran asked in his grunting language, his hand extended.
“No, get away.” The agent growled as he tried to push past the burly Gran. “I don’t hav-”
“Come on, now. I know you’re not exactly rich, factory man you are, but surely you can spare a credit for an unemployed worker!”
Another, a Rodian was pestering an agent about purchasing travel insurance, while a Twi’lek female was attempting to proposition another agent for a fun time.
Maryia smiled internally as she plucked the ticket out of the machine and hurried to the waiting transit shuttle, which was now announcing last call for borders. Suddenly shouts rang out behind her as the DIA agents discarded the pretense of being workers and shoved away the aliens, breaking into a run toward the woman.
But it was too late.
Maryia blew the agents a kiss as the transit shuttle doors closed on the agents’ faces, their dismay obvious as the shuttle began to move in the direction of the spaceport.
Now just need to get to my ship, and I’ll be free and clear.
Twenty minutes later, the Omwati woman could feel the taste of freedom on her lips as the spaceport came into view from the view port window. The shuttle soon began to slow down, and another few minutes, the doors opened to disgorge its passengers.
And yet, she could not shake off the feeling of unease that was now building up within her as she hurried into the bustling spaceport, sidestepping various aliens on her way toward the hangar bay, her eyes alert for any sign of DIA agents that would surely be in hot pursuit. So far though, there was nothing.
But why did it feel like something was about to go horribly wrong?
Zakath’s smile was a toothy one as he watched the Omwati woman slow to a stop upon seeing the Barabel waiting in front of her ship, an unusual retractable vibrosword already in her hand, its icy blue blade glinting as it slid out. The small woman regarded him for a moment, her blue eyes flashing like sapphires in the harsh lighting of the spaceport.
“It was a trap.” Maryia spoke, her normally light musical voice now heavy with resignation.
“Yez.” The Barabel agreed as he ignited his rancor-tooth lightsaber, the crimson blade springing into existence with a snap-hiss. “And you walked right into it. You will not be leaving here alive.”
“Are you so sure, Barabel?” Maryia’s lips curled up into a sneer as she raised her sword into a loose guard position. “I am well-trained in fighting, after all. And this is an Echani vibrosword, one of the finest weapons in the galaxy, more than a match for your lightsaber.”
“Yez, and it will make a fine trophy to add to my collection.” Zakath’s smile widened, his razor sharp teeth now on full display. “ But I am Sith. Next to me, you are nothing. If you wizh to fight, then so be it. I will grant you death in combat.”
“Very well then.” The Omwati woman agreed as she raised her sword up into a traditional Echani salute, turning her body sideways in the process. “Once you are dead, I will be gone from here.”
Zakath didn’t bother to reply as he brought his lightsaber up to an attack position, both hands on the hilt as he began to draw upon the Force, the sweet power of the Dark Side beginning to flow into him as his emerald-green eyes erupted into purple fire within a eye blink.
To her credit, Maryia did not so much as flinch at the display as she tracked the movement of the Sith’s lightsaber, her blade primed to catch any overt attack by the Barabel. The Barabel did not wait to disappoint her, his crimson blade blurring toward into a sideways attack designed to cleave her in half. But instead of directly blocking the attack as he expected, the Omwati woman flicked her blade to intercept the attack before spinning around, throwing the Barabel forward with the force of his deflected attack while the pommel of the Echani vibrosword smashed into Zakath’s side with a surprisingly strong hit.
Zakath snarled as he spun around, his crimson blade already rising to intercept the follow-through attack intended to impale him in the back. The two blades crashed together with an explosion of sparks, their eyes meeting each other as they froze into a saber lock.
“Imprezzive.” Zakath hissed as he began to apply his superior strength. “But it will not save you.”
“We will see about that.” Maryia said, her voice growing husky with the exertion of combat.
Before Zakath could reply, the Omwati woman spun away from the saberlock, her shimmering blade seemly moving to strike his side again. As the Barabel whirled to intercept the attack, Maryia retracted her blade suddenly, a fist smashing into his other side, causing a grunt of pain to tear from Zakath’s throat.
The Sith Battlemaster spun away and upon catching sight of the advancing woman, snarled again, raising his lightsaber into a defensive posture, while drawing upon the Dark Side, building up energy. Zakath had begun training in this particular technique of the Force, but was still a novice at it, and needed a few seconds to build up the pitch before releasing.
Lightsaber crashed against cortisis-weaved blade in an intricate dance as Zakath shifted onto the defensive, allowing Maryia to expend herself against him as the Barabel shifted from static blocks to deflective strokes as needed to delay the Omwati woman.
Feeling the Force thrumming within him, the Barabel whirled away again, removing one hand from his lightsaber as he turned in the direction of Maryia, seeing the woman advancing, a predatory grin on her beautiful face.
Zakath threw his clenched fist forward even as he closed his eyes, releasing the energy built up within him out through his fist, causing an instant flash of blinding white light to erupt within the hangar bay. Opening his eyes a half-second later, he grinned viciously as he saw Maryia stumbling backward, one hand waving in front of her face as if to clear away the searing white light from her eyes.
One quick stroke from his lightsaber, and the Omwati woman’s sword hand was severed.
Maryia pitched forward, landing on her knees with a shriek of pain as she clutched the smoking stump of her wrist against her chest, the pain clearing away her eyes as she stared down in horrified amazement at the severed hand before looking up at the Barabel, her mouth falling open.
The last thing she saw before her head was decapitated was a pair of violet eyes glowing like hot coals before a flash of red washed away her vision into endless night.
Staring down at the headless corpse, Zakath sighed slightly to himself as he reached into his belt and retrieved his communicator.
Good fight. Had she any ability with the Force, she would have been a dangerous enemy.
“Chief Zakath?” The agent was instantly speaking as the connection was established. “Is the intelligence broker dead as planned?”
“Yez.” Zakath said as he walked over to the decapitated head. “I am taking her head for proof, and her sword as my trophy.”
“Understood. Our agents will collect the body… after a time, and begin analysis of her safe house here, while we monitor the situation on the other targets. Thank you for your assistance, Chief Zakath. We will relay our compliments to Commissioner Edraven.”
“You do that.” Zakath said dryly as he picked up the head by the hair. “And tell him that next time, he should contact me directly inztead of uzing my apprentice to contact me. I am not that hard to reach.”
“…Understood. We will relay the message.”
The Barabel snorted to himself and shut off the communicator, returning it to his pocket before hefting Maryia’s head to eye level, examining the blank staring eyes for a long moment. Finally he let out a harsh chuckle as he turned to retrieve the sword, dropping the head down to waist level, and making a note to get a stasis container quickly to preserve the head for the Commissioner.