The Consul Bride
An Arconan–Odanite Tale of True Love and High Adventure
A group of people, some shimmering holoprojections themselves, sat in a dim room around a miniature holoprojector in the center of a rectangular table. On one side of the table sat the Odan-Urr delegation, which consisted of a longtime Chiss agent named Len Iode flanked by two holographic colleagues that had aided in his investigation. On his left was a Zabrak male and skilled Arcanist, Akaarn Tayl’cor, and on his right was an elderly Human Jedi who had lent his considerable talents in peering into the Force. On the other side of the table sat the Arconan delegation lead by a redheaded Human Sith named Lucine Vasano, flanked by two minions of her own; a half-Sephi Sith, Rulvak, and half-Selonian female named Eilen Jath who had piloted the other two to the particular location. Both Clans had sent representatives from what remained uncompromised of their respective intelligence branches, the Sentinel Network and the Dajorra Intelligence Agency, to the rare Lotus meeting, and the stakes had never been higher.
“As you can see, the interference in our affairs was subtle and indirect, yet nonetheless potentially has long-term consequences. They tried to attack us through pre-existing local enemies and even through a rogue Inquisitorius cell. Both have been dealt with, but they are still winning the war. Simply put, the Collective has successfully been building its assets and we have reason to believe that they are mounting for another attack,” explained Len.
“And why should that bother us at this juncture? We have been able to coordinate proper responses where needed thus far and kept you well-supplied with information from sources closer to, hmm, home. What is so urgent here?” asked Lucine smoothly, her polite visage impeccable.
“We believe that these smaller attacks may be symptoms of a more serious leak. We think they are going after you again,” replied Liam Torun matter-of-factly.
“We already drove them away. Why would they come back for more?” asked Rulvak.
“All evidence points towards a long-term game that won’t favor either of us. I can walk you through the data again,” offered Akaarn.
“No, darling, we understand the data perfectly well. What eludes me is how it is you believe it can benefit us to engage now. Are you quite sure of this intel? Your ranks were a bit more…ruffled than ours,” replied Lucine while Eilen shuffled and shifted uncomfortably next to her, large ears pressed flat to her head. “The DIA supports your hypothesis, of course, even if it is a bit academic.”
“We are very sure. And as you say, your investigations also support it,” Akaarn replied through gritted teeth. Rulvak was pensive, his usual silent self, as Akaarn and Lucine debated the finer points of just what exactly was ‘academic’ about the argument. Len simply watched his Arconan counterpart as she swiped through the report again, ready to answer her questions. Finally, the Jedi intervened in what was becoming a pointed discussion between the two as to the credit of one another’s agencies; tensions were still high following the defections before and after Nancora.
“Remember, we are all on the same side here. The Collective wants us to fight. Peace, my friends,” reminded Liam.
“…um," spoke up Eilen, her tail tucked tight and fingers jittering. “Forgive me if I’m not understanding, but, these Collective folk you’re talking about, you all beat them, right? Last time? That’s what I was told…”
“Yes, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping them,” stated the Chiss.
“We only cut off one head. A piece of one, even. We still must destroy the rest,” commented Rulvak quietly. He waved a hand, and more data appeared to scrawl over the holoscreens. “Our summit has been digging into the heads of each of the three pillars and their lieutenants. A few key assassinations would buy us much time to dismantle them while they regrouped.”
“Jedi do not assassinate their opponents,” Liam intoned gravely, surely speaking on behalf of the more moral-minded of the Light Clan’s legions.
The half-Sephi twitched his ears, his microexpression disdainful before it went back to smoothness. “Perhaps then Jedi should simply provide support for those of us intelligent enough to do our work, and not protest when it is done. Your hands can stay ‘clean.’”
“We don’t need your coddling,” snapped Akaarn, and before Len could focus the group again, Lucine waved her hand.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen…now now. We all have what we are best suited for, let us not argue about it when we could make each other richer simply by applying our skills most effectively. And, speaking of…Len, dear, you mentioned some additional reports off of that tip I sent you, no?”
“Indeed,” responded the Chiss. He pulled out his datapad, scrolling for a moment, before sending along more files. “Your contact returned favorably. We were able to access some of Capital Enterprise’s expense reports. The banking guilds respond rather more nicely to inquiries from a representative of the Vatali Empire.”
“As I said, roles that we are each best suited for.” Lucine’s smile put a pouncing nexu to shame.
The new data was put up on the holoscreens, temporarily quieting the room while everyone digested the additional information. After a moment passed, everyone simply stared at one another, the uncomfortable truth lingering in the air. Finally, both sides spoke out in unison, indistinguishable from each other.
“We have to do something—"
“An intervention is necessary—”
Len and Lucine both paused. The Chiss waited until the awkward silence passed between them, running through one of the many battle plans in his head. It had the best shot.
“An army marches on its stomach. We need to hit them where it hurts and get rid of their supply lines,” suggested the Chiss.
“Like I said before, a couple key assassinations would do the trick,” replied Rulvak, making a point to look towards the Jedi.
“That won’t solve anything,” rebuked Liam, staring sternly back at the Sephi.
“I mean, speaking literally, it will…” Eilen muttered.
“Besides," interrupted Akaarn, "that’s too obvious. The Collective will see it coming. Ideally, our hands stay clean in this and they are none the wiser until it’s too late.”
“Just a thought, if you guys like it — what about the credits? That’s what makes the galaxy turn, no?” chimed Eilen again, tapping her fingers against her hands.
Lucine grinned, unnerving the rest of the group. “Darlings, it is time to for a soiree.” Most of the room exclaimed in confusion, but the Sith woman simply continued speaking, “Yes. It is time for us to take a lighter touch. We mingle, we woo. Make them happy, and we make us happy. Business, you see? All of you are correct, of course, but the venue is what pulls it all together. I know many influential individuals in many circles, and little is more popular right now than the casino scene on Canto Bight. Well over half the customers there are weapons dealers that made their fortunes in war, in supplying the First Order…don’t doubt for a second they aren’t likely selling to the Collective too through Capital Enterprises,” she said as she brought up images of the city in question with a fan of her manicured nails.
“Huh, that’s not how I remember Canto Bight. When did they start wearing the funny hats?” asked the old Jedi, genuinely concerned at the overindulgence rampantly on display.
Various sounds of discontent were made as most people in the room thought of the ludicrous getup they’d have to don for the occasion. Each looked toward the other and tried to imagine them walking amongst the city’s denizens.
“Now, now, we must keep up appearances, darlings,” reminded Lucine with a smile before a comlink interrupted them.
“Loth cat in the fish bowl. I repeat. Loth cat in the fish bowl.”
It was as if a switch had been thrown. The holoprojections cut. Lucine leapt from her seat while Eilen ran to ready the ship and Rulvak and Len went about grabbing the databanks in the equipment and frying them with Force-born lightning or plasma shots. Everyone physically in the grabbed what they had brought and scattered in opposite directions, knowing their routes to get to the spaceport for extraction.
As they made for home, they couldn’t help but wonder who had tried to join them.