What starts out as a simple diplomatic mission for the leadership of Clan Naga Sadow- as well as an opportunity for several of their number let loose- turns into something far more dangerous for the Sadowans as a whole.
ABOARD THE WARHOST FLEET’S PERDITION
< REDACTED > SYSTEM
OFFICE OF THE CONSUL
His eyes darted between the hazel-eyed man and the blue-eyed Nightsister. The model of a planet and station hovered near the far wall of the small office. There was a tension in the room. Then again, there had been a tension in the room every time he had stepped into the improptu office room recently. The reports had been coming in over the last few weeks. The action on Felucia and Ambria had been discussed by both Consul and Proconsul at length. Fleet Admiral Simonetti had seen a lot in his time with Dlarit, with the Warhost, and with the Clan Naga Sadow through the years.
The fleet had been crippled at Orian and yet, the Sadowan spirit had not been broken. The Consul-Commander and his second had trusted Araic to keep things in order. His expertise had been instrumental in testing and running through numerous simulations over the last few months. Slowly, the Fleet Admiral handed the datapad clutched in his left hand over to the waiting flesh-and-blood hand of Bentre.
“Thank you, Fleet Admiral.” Stahoes nodded curtly, the words of the title stressed. “I look forward to reviewing your recommendations. If we may have some of your time, there are some additional simulations I wanted to discuss.”
Simonetti nodded slowly. “Are there additional parameters that need testing?”
Ashia gave the slightest of smiles in response, her eyes flashing in the pale blue light of the hologram… “We have received an invitation from a local system. We have a potential new platform of attack.”
Bentre lifted a mechanical hand in the air before making a fist… “We only have to reach out and grab it. The locals are willing to have us over for a bit of meet and greet, a bit of a chat, to see what kind of support they might be able to give us.” He dropped his hand to his side, not unclenching the fist. “After the efforts of either House it got us thinking. I mean, look at how much Sanguinius, Locke and Morax contributed to the capture of their House’s new Acclamator. As a mere Hunter Jinius Griffin, along with Vosiri, his Quaestor, and the rest of the House fought so hard to bring the Summit the spoils of their latest action on Ambria. If we can bring that kind of energy, that kind of drive back to the Collective on Orian-” he trailed off, his mouth twisted in a hungry smile as he nodded once.
The Fleet Admiral titled his head toward the Consul-Commander. “Did you review the other simulations that I submitted to your office, sir? We would need something more to ensure victory without causing some serious damage to the system itself.”
“We have a solution, Fleet Admiral,” Ashia motioned to the hologram. “Now, we have Telos to consider.”
Simonetti studied the hologram thoughtfully, nodding as he mulled over the implications. “How much support are you expecting from them? That could do a lot to help us recapture Orian.”
“Thaaat,” Bentre drew the word out, “depends upon the information that we received from Syntari and Calenhad. Both have been hard at work. They have provided us with details on both Collective operations and movements. For now, we are going to be stopping off at a station orbiting a planet there. Proconsul Keibatsu and I do the nice political prattle, while you run some more simulations and formulate some attack strategies based on the information we have.” The Corellian Consul lifted a black datapad in his flesh-and-blood hand. “”We do our respective jobs, the Sadowans get to play for a bit, and hopefully we all leave the system a bit happier.”
30 MINUTES BEFORE CONTACT
This whole thing is so weird. The young Twi’leki host leaned over, removing empty glasses and replacing them with full glasses. She topped off several of the water glasses with a sigh. The deliberations had been going on for a few hours now. All those wild glances from the man. He keeps letting that woman do the majority of the talking. She shook her head, causing one of her lekku to fall from its place on her shoulder. I really wonder what the Telosian Alliance is hoping to get out of these talks.
“Is everything okay, Qazi?” The girl looked up to see a grinning Sephi in a Security uniform.
“Yeah,” she shook her head and smiled back. “The talks with these new diplomats have been a real handful. I hope it ends soon.”
“At least you just have to serve up drinks. The captain has been driving us hard. He is unhappy that the diplomats brought along such a crew. We have been running around, putting out fights and squabbles between the regulars and the crew. He was already on edge before, with the military ships coming from Ruuria and Orian. One of them was just tagged en route.”
“Does he expect trouble out of a military outfit? Doesn’t he need you on duty, then?”
“Who really knows?” The security officer smiled. “All sorts of things can happen when there are too many bodies packed into a small station.”
The Twi’lek fidgeted. “I better get back in there. The Alliance Councilor talks a lot, leaving his throat pretty dry.”
“I am sure you have things under control, Qaz’.” The Sephi winked, prompting a smile from the girl. “We will go grab a drink once it is done.” With a small nod of his head, the man turned away to leave the Twi’lek to her job.
From the corner, an Umbaran in official-looking black armor stood watch. Syntari had watched the outside, ensuring the safety of those held inside. Up until now, there had been little to observe beyond the small-talk of the staff. This was the first time her steadfastness had paid off during this conference.
Pulling the commlink from her side, Syntari brought it up to her face and spoke softly. “Station crew have mentioned a military ship incoming. Go to code Besh.”
Bathed in the blue glow of the security monitors, Calenhad could feel a twinge of pain in his back. The others had set off to various parts of the station to relax. Even despite the orders of the Consul to try to take it easy, the Knight had remained vigilant. He and Syntari had both been hard at work. Even if the Telosians seemed nice, there was always an unseen danger.
Who has the time to sit around and piddle time away like this anyway? The Kel Dor used a finger to shuffle through the different portions of the datapad’s display, before coming to stop on the sensor grid monitor screening software. Something was setting off a sensor buoy around the system’s border.
The commlink at his side buzzed, drawing his attention away from the screen for a moment. Returning his gaze to the screen, Calenhad tapped the commlink to receive the call. “Station crew have mentioned a military ship incoming. Go to code Besh.” Syntari’s voice was hushed, but he could hear the stress under the low tones.
“Just saw something kick off the sensors on the borders. I will check with the Perdition, see if there has been anything else odd. If that checks out, I will cycle through common comm channels and see if anything comes up.”
Clicking off the comm, Calenhad adjusted the device for the Sadowan Fleet channel before clicking the comm back on. “-detected on patrol. Dispatch Howler and Massassi Squadrons to check out the situation.”
“This is Blackguard 2 to Perdition.” The Kel Dor spoke firmly. “Requesting a status report. Sensors here have detected an incoming object. Do any Sadowan assets have eyes on the object in question?”
The comm crackled. “Reports are coming in of a ship that matches the description of a ship formerly sighted during the retreat at the Orian system. We are sending squadrons to confirm.”
Calenhad silently cursed to himself. “That will have to do, Perdition. Will pass along the news to the Summit. Blackguard 2, out.”
The Knight shook his head. He would report back to Syntari to update her and then inform the Rollmaster of the situation as well. Afterwards, he would have to travel down to the cantina. It could all very well be nothing, but he could not be too sure. Once he passed the information on its way up the chain of command, he would have to make haste. The rest of the Clan had to be made aware.
Jinius Griffin had been hard at work. It had been this way ever since he had joined up with the Brotherhood. While the others had rested, he had continued his studies. When he was not studying, he continued to sharpen his combat skills, sometimes against training droids and sometimes by running drills.
Breathing deeply, the Gray Jedi took several steps, giving care to his footing. He struck out at the air, imaging striking at the limbs of imagined opponents. Moving back and forth from foot to foot, he stalked forward. He struck out one, two, three times - letting out a grunt of exertion with each strike.
A cough broke the rhythm of his strikes. The dark-armored form of a Kel Dor stood in the doorway. “Hunter Griffin.” Calenhad gave the man a nod as Jinius drew to full attention. “Good to see that someone else has been keeping busy when given a break. Time to put your training to work. We have a situation. We might have some company real soon. We have an as-of unconfirmed Collective ship. This station is its most likely target.”
The cantina scene had been a bit wild. Of all the patrons, many of the Sadowans had been the calmer parties. Morax Darkblade, for one, had found a solace of sorts. Several glasses, mostly emptied were arrayed around him. He had left the others to their own indulgences as they had left him in his place. Where he had once led the Dakhani house, the now-Markosian Anzat had still remained a creature of subtlety and distraction. He played in the shadows, until he was ready to strike.
The Anzat had a feeling that kept niggling at the back of his head. The situation seemed safe. All the pieces in play showed a Clan who had nothing to fear from the galaxy, at the moment. The whole situation was a nice change. It was almost even palatable. It was almost not going to last very long. If they stayed in one place for too long, this illusion of peace was bound to be broken.
A series of whoops pulled the man from his thoughts. Turning, he saw several humanoids, dressed in uniforms striding into the bar. Several were talking excitedly. He glanced around the room. His fellow Sadowans were adorned in a variety of outfits and uniforms. Compared to the soldiers, they largely blended in with the rest of the beings gathered here. It was possible they could go unnoticed.
The Anzat had taken very little time before he recognized the uniforms as those of Collective troops. Letting a hiss of breath escape between his teeth, the Anzat slid out of his chair, toward a far wall. There was a time to attack and there was a time for cunning. For now, he would observe. He would strike at them, but only when the time was absolutely right. He would not throw away his advantage without proper cause.
The atmosphere was completely broken now. There was an underlying tension in the room. Though very few of the occupants turned toward the Collective soldiers, it was clear their arrival caused some measure of discomfort for everyone. Though a group engaged in Pazaak continued their game, they continued to watch the men and women making their way up to the bar area. If the Collective’s men were here, that doubtlessly meant there was a Collective ship nearby. Morax knew without a doubt what kind of trouble that meant.