Plagueis RO - The Song of Discord


(Arden Karn di Plagia ) #1

Welcome folks to the Song of Discord, the latest entry in the Plagueis RO Series. As mentioned before, this will be a bit different from our last RO in that Ronovi and I will be seeding the RO with plot posts from time to time to guide the story along. Thus, we will have few guidelines for this event:

Plagueis Run On Ground Rules and Such

Unlike prior clan ROs, this one will be guided by the leadership to foster a cohesive, yet member driven clan plotline. In a sense, Ronovi and I will serve as “Gamemasters" for this RO (though we won’t be mercilessly murdering PCs for tears). In order to make this work right, there’s going to be a few ground rules we need you to follow .

  1. On a regular basis, Ronovi and I will create Plot Posts (which will be clearly noted) that serve to move the overarching plot along. We will try to provide notice when these are imminent (48-72 hours) so that you may finish up any posts you’re working on. We reserve the right to hold a place once we feel the need to lock down the story (likely no more than 6 hours before we post).

  2. As part of each plot post, we will provide a series of suggested avenues that you might wish to pursue. These are by far not the only things you can do, but there’s a better chance doing so will directly impact the story.

  3. If you have a plot thread you’d like to pursue that wildly differs from these, we ask you check in with the “GMs" first so we can make sure it fits.

  4. While you’re free to create, destroy, and do whatever you need with NPCs, there will some we do want to have some limits on.
    A. Named NPCs: This category applies to any NPC with a wiki entry or otherwise is specifically named in clan lore or fiction. Named NPCs can be used freely, but should not be killed, maimed, captured, etc. without checking with the GMs and getting specific permission.
    B. Protected NPCs: This will be a specifically enumerated list in a separate information document. Protected NPCs are plot driving individuals that are specifically for the use of the GM’s. They should not be used by others without specific authorization.

  5. Do not use assets or characters from other clans, DB Societies (ex. the Inquisitorius) or the Dark Council without specific authorization.

  6. Please contact other PCs before using them or their owned NPCs in a post. Coordination of this sort is essential to a cohesive narrative

  7. Wiki and CS links, lists of protected characters, and other useful information can be found ON THIS DOCUMENT

  8. You are free to reserve a post slot, but please only do so within 24 hours of a planned post.


(Arden Karn di Plagia ) #2

D&D Construction Yards
Aliso City
36 ABY

Aster Ventley slumped against her desk and stared at the cracks in the adjacent wall. It was her fifth week on the job, and nothing had slowed down yet. There had been quite a few large orders for duracrete and durasteel just within the past couple of days, as barracks were refurbished and new depots were being built. The name on the contracts in question simply read, “Karn & Co.,” and Ventley had been told on day one not to question any of it.

“Just sign the paperwork, dot your i’s and cross your t’s, and move on,” her superior had told her. Then he had given her an odd pat on the back before scooting out for a slug of brandy and a nap.

From her window, Ventley had a good view of the various Subjugates who loaded and transported fresh materials and cargo offsite. She watched them toil away in their blue uniforms, their faces blank and stoic as they worked. Her fellow members of the Willing - men who patrolled both the cargo area and the refinery - observed everything with keen eyes. They at least got to stand up and walk around, while Ventley was left in her cramped, stuffy office, the floor occasionally creaking when she shifted her weight against her boots.

One of these days, she thought, I’m gonna regret choosing a desk job. She fumbled for a pack of cigarras she kept tucked away in the top drawer of her desk. Jamming a limp stogie into her mouth, she fetched a lighter from her jacket and flicked it on.

A loud, explosive sound accompanied the emergence of the flame.

Ventley was so startled that she almost dropped her lighter, jumping out of her seat as screams could be heard from the direction of the refinery. She had a clear view of the cargo area now, watching as the yards’ supervisors moved every which way. More appeared as if they were moths drawn to a glowing light - cudgels and even blasters out, trained toward where some workers had begun to scatter in fright. The young woman fumbled with her commlink, turning it on and attempting to hear anything over the shouting.

“What happened?” she demanded.

Her supervisor’s voice crackled on the other side. “Small explosion in the refinery. Nobody hurt. But it was intentional.”

“Intentional?” Ventley’s upper lip trembled. “Like a terrorist attack?”

“No. This was one of ours.”

One of ours. That caught her by surprise. She turned off her commlink and edged closer to the window, not daring to leave her tiny office. At this point, both members of the Willing and a handful of Wraiths were crowded around the various exit points, the latter’s black armor glinting in the light. She stared as a disheveled slave, his indigo uniform torn and singed, stumbled toward them.

“Comrades!” she heard him roar. “I am doing this for our freedom! I am doing this for - ”

One shot to the head ended his tirade. And everything around Aster Ventley went quiet.


The Dread Lord has advised all Plagueians to be on the look-out for potential deviants in the slave population, due to a recent chain of attacks and documented rebellious tendencies. He is wary that perhaps the Collective may be behind it, and he insists that reconnaissance measures be taken.

Your possible objectives include:

  • Observing the slave population inside your house’s headquarters or in and around the Pinnacle, reporting any signs of disobedience
  • Exploring and examining specific locations of Aliso City - such as the D&D Construction Yards, the Sand Pit, or the Landsdown Docks - where slaves may be working
  • Exploring Aliso City at large, intending to find leads on any Collective spies who may be in the area
  • Ignoring the Dread Lord’s request and simply going about your business for the day

There is to be no killing of slaves - doing so is equivalent to destroying economic resources, which is unacceptable to the Dread Lord.


(blackhawk) #3

Above Aliso City

The shuttle desended upon the city. Blackhawk didn’t know what to expect, he only knew that there had been trouble of late.

“Unidentified shuttle this is Plagueis ground control. Identify yourself.”

Blackhawk turned his attention to the comlink of the HMS Liath.

“Ground control, this is Blackhawk aboard the HMS Liath. Request permission to land.”

“Permission granted. Prepare for a security scan upon landing.”

With that, Blackhawk had his droid bring the shuttle down.


(Furios Morega di Plagia) #4

The Sand Pit
Aliso City, Aliso
36 ABY

The patrons roared in raucous tongues, aggressively shouting encouragement at the two contenders in the arena. Some had credits in hand, wagering on a winner of the fight. Four large cage walls had been erected around the usually open arena, providing a barrier between the small mob of enthusiastic spectators and the two large humanoids brawling within. Krissok, one of the clan’s larger Trandoshan slavers and a rather heavy heavy-weapons specialist, had hissed a jeering comment about someone’s mother and things quickly escalated into a challenge to a one-on-one cage match. That someone happened to be the largest, angriest, one-eyed Wookiee spacer anyone had ever seen, who claimed to boast a lizard skin collection that rivaled the legendary bounty hunter, Bossk’s entire career of pelts. The metal barriers rattled as the latter had just thrown the former up against the cage wall for the third time in half as many minutes. Most of the patrons were crowded around the fight, but others stuck to tables tucked to the outskirts of the venue. Others still sat on the terraces above, able to see the fight over the more enthusiastic viewers. One such trio sat around their round table, chatting idly about the fight, steadily enjoying their drinks with relaxed boredom.

“D’you think ol’ Krissy has a chance?” Azmodius asked. His pale features smirked in the dim light, eyes shining in empty, white mischief as he leaned forward with ready excitement. His diminutive feline companion absently plucked away at his instrument behind the Arkanian’s chair.

“All he has is a big mouth.” responded the Kel Dor, TuQ’uan Varick, bringing his drink up to his mask and deftly tilting it just the right way to consume his beverage.

A primal howl from the evening’s main spectacle seemed to confirm this as Krissok had just fiercely bitten into his opponent’s neck, losing at least two teeth to the tough flesh of his larger opponent. Blood matted the Wookiee’s fur as he bellowed enraged insults about “lacking honor” or some such nonsense. The Trandoshan hissed his own, more vulgar gibes in reply, blood and saliva seeping and spraying from his toothy mouth. The crowd cheered in approval.

“He might,” stated Furios Morega, the tallest of the three, as he reclined over his chair, legs extended to the empty seat at the table. “Depends on if he sees that trick knee or not.”

The mercenary at the table tilted his head questioningly, his wide-brimmed hat shifting comically to the side. “The Wookiee has a trick knee? How can you tell?”

“I just can,” the Quaestor replied.

“He just can,” his Aedile echoed with a grin. His master shot him a perturbed look, scrutinizing the borderline boot-licking behavior.

“I call bantha poodoo!” the Aedile stated. “I’ll even give you 200 credits to go down there and prove it,” he followed enticingly.

No sooner had he made the challenge than a series of refreshed screams and roars erupted from the skirmish in the center of the Pit. Krissok’s arm was flailing violently though it was his hairy opponent who was flailing it. The poor Trandoshan was being beaten with his own scaly limb as the large lizard buckled and fell under the furious blows. The victor howled and roared in triumph as the slaver curled up in defeat.

“Well would you look at that,” chuckled Az. “Looks like it’s time for a new challenger.”

The Epicanthix pondered for a moment. “I’ll make you a better deal. For 1000, I’ll do it naked.”

“Now when are you going to get an opportunity like that?” the Aedile asked encouragingly. “I’ll even go half-in on it.”

“So you’re telling me,” the mercenary began. “That you want to give me the perfect chance to record blackmailing footage of you getting naked, up-close, and personal with an oversized Wookiee in a confined space and all it’ll cost me is 500 credits?”

“You’d probably be better off posting it on the holonet,” the Arkanian muttered casually.

The Epicanthix rolled his eyes and sat up to face is companions. “So are you going to pay me or what?”

“Yeah, I’m in,” Varick assured cooly. “Get your fuzzy wuzzy freak on and I’ll make the transfer.”

“Excellent!” declared the Epicanthix, slapping his hand enthusiastically on the table. He got to his feet and lifted his shirt, but as if on queue, his hip started beeping in indication of an incoming transmission. He sighed and dropped his arms, letting the shirt fall back over his toned abdomen. Pulling the communicator from his belt, he placed it on the center of the table. With the press of a button, the blue holo-image of Ronovi Tavisaen formed in the glowing light.

“Furios, are you and Azmodius at the Pit?”

“We are,” the Battlelord replied, turning the device to face his Aedile and the Rollmaster. “TuQ’s here too.” They waved.

“He was about to get naked and tangle with a giant Wookiee in a small cage,” the Arkanian said, pointing to his master.

“I’m going to record it,” added the Kel Dor.

“Hah! I know plenty of people who’d pay to see that,” she responded. The Quaestor turned the communicator back to face him.

“So what do you need, Madame Wrath?”

“There was a terrorist attack at the Yards,” she explained. “I need someone to investigate and retrieve any accomplices to the saboteur. He was shot by a Wraith. Why not you three, since you’re already in that area?”

He sighed and looked to the Wookiee in the Pit. Two of Krissok’s companions had jumped in to their friend’s rescue and were proving enough of a distraction to let the injured Trandoshan escape further dismemberment.

“We’ll head there right away,” the Obelisk answered.

“One more thing,” the Proconsul of Clan Plagueis added. “As of right now, slaves need to be kept alive. The trooper that eliminated the first insurrectionist was out of line and is to be non-lethally reprimanded. All Plagueians and Ascendant personnel are to adhere to this rule.”

His jaw dropped for half a moment. “You’re kidding right?”

“I wish that I were,” she said half-mockingly. “Dread Lord’s orders. How close were you going to get to this Wookiee?”

“About three inches,” he said with a huff and ended the transmission.

D&D Construction Yards
Aliso City, Aliso
36 ABY

Dust kicked into swirling clouds behind the black speeder as it approached the main gate. It glided to a halt alongside the guardhouse. The Willing guard inside recognized the summit members immediately, though he was forced to hesitate at their seating configuration and the site of the two and a half individuals crammed into the passenger seat of the Quaestor’s two-person speeder.

“Lord Morega, of course,” the guardsman inclined at the hip in greeting. The heavy gates pulled to either side of the entrance with a slow grinding motion. “I wasn’t expecting you so soon, I only just heard about the bombing from Command.”

“We were at the Pit,” Azmodius piped from TuQ’uan’s lap. “Furios was going to fight a Wookiee naked.”

The Willing did not respond, partially for fear of saying the wrong thing. The Epicanthix sighed and hovered the vehicle through the entrance. As it came to rest in front of the complex’s central offices. Everyone got out of the speeder, the Arkanian intentionally sticking his elbow and knee in awkward places as he freed the Kel Dor from his weight. The trio adjusted their garb and gear as they gathered next to the vehicle.

“How do we want to handle this?” the Aedile asked his fellow summit members.

“We’ll need to question everyone who was in the immediate vicinity of the explosion, both Willing and Subjugate, possibly everyone on duty in the complex,” the Quaestor stated. “Unfortunately that could take days, maybe weeks with the level of production we’ve been maintaining.”

“There’s also the bomb itself,” the Rollmaster continued. “It’s composition could prove insightful and maybe provide a quicker and more concrete lead than interrogation or hearsay.”

The Battlelord pointed at his former student, “We need to keep this place locked down until we’re done. You’re in charge of that.” He shifted his finger to point toward the mercenary of the group, “You take bomb analysis and I’ll talk with whoever’s in charge today and see if we can’t get some help controlling the masses. Then we’ll get this shakedown started.”

Ozzy Pawsborne hopped onto his friend’s shoulder and chimed in rhyme, “If the Willing guards are suspect, some outside help would be perfect.”

Azmodius continued, “There’s also the trooper who shot the bomber to deal with. Seems like we could use a bit of assistance, doesn’t it?”

“I’ll request reinforcements,” Furios replied. He turned to face their destination. “In the meantime, let’s make ourselves welcome,” he said as they walked through the automatic doors.


(Wrathus) #5

[Redacted]
[Redacted]
[Redacted]

The Inquisitor drew his lightsaber blade from the Twi’lek man’s chest and allowed his body to drop to the ground. The agent grabbed the scanner off his belt and used it to register the kill and confirm his target. The device blipped in response, affirming that this was the man he’d been sent to kill.

He was dragging the corpse to the side of the alley and setting up the scene to make it look like a fight when the comm on his wrist beeped.

“M’lord, the Voice is requesting your presence” a female voice with a thick Irish accent stated.

“Understood. I’m wrapping up here. Prep the hyperdrive - I’ll be no more than 10 minutes.”

“Very good, m’lord.”

The comm clicked off. The agent exhaled and double checked the scene. Confident in the scene, he grabbed the flare gun off the corpse and fired a luminescent red sphere into the air. Moments later sirens filled the air and a large number of footsteps pounded their way to the scene. The agent, however, was long gone and was soon striding up the ramp of a departing pitch-black Delta-class T-3c Shuttle.


Main Deck
DT-3c “Fury”
Hyperspace
36 ABY

The Inquisitor threw back his hood to reveal the white hair and fiery eyes of the Sith Battlemaster Wrathus. The Epicanthix knelt before the comm station as the hologram came to life. An image of the clean and trimmed half-Hapan Voice of the Brotherhood, sitting in a high-backed chair, filled the air.

“Dark Greetings, sir.” Wrathus bowed his head to the image.

“One-Three-Five-Two-Five. Report,” the Voice spoke curtly.

“Yes Sir. Target Four-Six-Eight, confirmed dead. Plant complete.”

“Very good. I’ll be brief: there has been an attack on Aliso. We don’t know who’s at play here. Our information is spotty at best. And with the lack of communication from the Plagueis Summit, we need eyes and ears on the ground. Proceed to Aliso, find out what’s going on, and take the appropriate actions.”

“Understood, sir.”

“Last thing, as with all your missions, no one is to know your motives.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Dismissed.” The image flicked off. Wrathus let a breath out before tapping the ship’s comm.

“Tadia, plot corse for Aliso.”

“Yes, sir.” The comm clicked off as the Sith stepped into his chambers to change out of his Inquisitor’s Armor and prepare himself to go undercover within his own Clan.


(Kelly Mendes) #6

Supply Station Omega
Aliso
36 ABY

Kelly Mendes stood in the command centre of Supply Station Omega and looked unusually worried. She’d been with Plagueis for four years and not once had such an event occurred. The slaves, or some of them at least, appeared to be rebelling against Plagueian rule. The Left Wing of Dread contemplated smashing something, but she had to work here, and Karn’s penchant for being economically efficient wouldn’t be pleased by it. So she held back. The Left Wing of Dread was kitted out in full military attire that consisted of a black double-breasted dress tunic and trousers with black gauntlets designed to evoke an image similar to that of the old officers of the Stormtrooper Corps. A black duty belt with silver buckle held up the trousers, and the look was complete with a pair of black leather riding boots with a buckle at the front stretching around the ankle. The tunic features the rank insignia for a Quaestor, six small, red rectangular shapes on a single line within a silver border. She was unsure as to what to do. If a slave revolt was going on, it would need to be addressed from the top, and she wasn’t sure what Karn and Tavisaen were going to do, but she needed to maintain her authority. She couldn’t just send Rhode or her Weequay enforcer down because they weren’t allowed to kill any slaves. So the Quaestor made her way over to the central console and pulled up the blueprints of the vessel. She had some planning to do.

Looking at the blueprints, Kelly then overlaid the image with security assignments, so she could see how the security was presently deployed. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so she took it down and called for the head of security to be brought before her. A few minutes later a middle-aged male in full uniform stood before her.

“As much as it pains me to admit, I’m no expert in these matters. But hypothetically, how would you suggest we do our best to non-lethally quell any potential spreading of a slave uprising to our home?” Kelly’s frustration was clear for her guard and the security chief to hear.

“Well, to do it non-lethally would be difficult, as it would require potentially exposing those under your command to a higher risk of attacks to protect the vital components of the ship. However, give the word, and the men will move immediately.” The security chief offered his opinion to the Left Wing of Dread.

“Do it. If they fall to slaves, they were never worthy of being under my command. What’s important is that this base survives. I just fear the idiots attack The Pinnacle and we have to divert our resources and leave ourselves vulnerable.” Kelly knew it might not end well for any rebelling slaves, but she couldn’t be held accountable for the actions of the hotheads she led. The Quaestor dismissed the chief of security and watched as those she cared about came into the command centre. Her mother ran up to Kelly and hugged her. Kelly reassured the elder woman that they’d all be safe.

“Tara, I know how you’re going to react, but I forbid you from going down there and trying to take this into your own hands. I know that voice in your head is telling you to do it, but if you love me, you’ll listen to me. I have everything under control, the ship will be safe, and anyone else will have to fend for themselves if the rebellion reaches our home. But you’re going to stay here with me, and I’m not letting you give Karn any reason to lash out at you to get to me.” Kelly bluntly told her wife. She didn’t think Karn would be stupid enough to try that, but his odd insistence that slaves were to be kept alive very strongly hinted that if he didn’t know more than he was telling, he valued the slaves above most everything else.

“As you say, my love. As long as you’re around, I should be able to keep it under control, but I trust you to do the right thing.” The red-haired Naboo responded to the love of her life. She had once acted as a mentor figure to Kelly, but now it was more like the opposite was true. Kelly was the only one ever to calm her down when she was in what they called her ‘Beserk’ state.

Kelly walked over to her wife and gently kissed her on the cheek before reassuring her, “We’ll stay here, maybe have a few drinks, maybe enjoy ourselves, and wait for all this to blow over.”


(Taranae Rhode) #7

Taranae watched as her wife walked across the room/ She would respect her wishes, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to stand idly by and watch this happen. Quietly opening her comms, she whispered,“Muse, are you there?”

“I’m here,” came back the reply, “What the hell happened?”
“It looks like the slaves are revolting,” the Sith replied, “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
“Yeah, some of them smell pretty revolting too. Do they even know how to wash?” she quipped. “What do you want me to do?”
“You’re in the thick of things down there,” she replied, “Being a grease monkey as well as a merc puts you in the perfect position to find out whatever you can. Mingle. See if you can catch a whiff of whatever is going down.”

“I’ll try my best,” replied the Twi’lek, “I just hope whatever is happening doesn’t happen to me too.”
The commlink cut abruptly as Kelly headed quickly in her direction.
“Ok Tara, what are you planning? I saw you whispering. Who were you contacting?”
“I was just working things out in my head and my mouth moved of its own accord.” she smiled. “But seriously, Muse is going to be our point of contact within the masses. She’ll find out what we can’t.”

She grinned at Kelly and Kelly grinned back. This should prove interesting.


(TuQ'uan Varick) #8

D&D Construction Yards
Aliso City, Aliso
37 ABY

“Some things never change,” TuQ’uan thought to himself with a chuckle. Furios was always one to take charge and give orders. It was what what made him a great leader for House Karness Muur. It was also what convinced the Kel Dor to go along with his former Quaestor’s plan, despite not exactly knowing much about how to investigate a bombing site.

The Rollmaster strode between the drab buildings of the D&D Construction Yards with such determination that everyone in his way quickly cleared a path. This little insurrection had to be quelled hastily, or it would grow much, much worse.

Rounding the corner, TuQ’uan found himself at the cordoned off blast site. Showing true Plagueian efficiency, any area not directly affected by the blast remained operational, and workers were forced to achieve double speed on production. A deep sigh escaped from the mercenary’s antiox mask; he had seen stuff like this happen before, and very rarely did this type of punishment work. In fact, more often than not, it pushed the workforce even further to the point of rebellion.

I’d rather be watching Furios get his karking butt handed to him by a Wookie right now.

The detonation point was hard to miss: A scorched, black crater sat near the middle of the floor. Heads turned to avoid eye contact as TuQ’uan surveyed the scene.

“Sir?” A young Subjugate approached the Overseer. “Sir?” he asked again but with a little more volume. “Excuse me, Lord Varick?”

TuQ’uan finally snapped out of it. He still hadn’t become accustomed to being addressed with such authority.

“Uhhh.” He thought back to something he read on the subject what felt like a lifetime ago. Clearing his throat, the Kel Dor spoke with a confidence that would have inspired any underling, “Clear out the area affected, create a perimeter of at least ten meters and make sure nobody leaves the area!”

Everyone within earshot exchanged nervous looks.

“Uh, sir, that’s already been done.”

If the mercenary’s face could have gone a deeper shade of crimson, it would have.

“Well, then tell everyone to stay out of my way!” TuQ’uan yelled at the unsuspecting Subjugate in an attempt to save face. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, channeling his favourite holovid detective, Di’iiktr’aicey.

His eyes opened, and he became focused, the hum of noise from the factory pushed out of his mind.

Slowly, he walked forward through the holotape warning unauthorized peoples not to enter the area. He was now standing on top of ground zero. Crouching down, the mercenary began his search for clues. Jagged bits of misshapen and warped durasteel lay embedded in the ground.

“Gloves,” TuQ’uan spoke in a matter of fact tone and reached his hand out. It was more of a statement than a request.

Nobody responded.

“Hey, uhhh, Babyface.” He snapped his fingers. “Get me some gloves.”

The young Subjugate looked around with confusion painted across his face.

“Yes, you! Get me a pair of gloves now, or do you want me to contaminate the evidence?”

Babyface frantically began searching through the pockets of his blue coveralls. A triumphant smile flashed across his face as he pulled a pair of black synthleather gloves from his pocket. TuQ’uan simply stared back blankly.

“Are you sure about that?” His smile slowly began to fade. The Kel Dor raised his four digit hand. “Want to try again?”

Babyface hastily ran off in the direction of the D&D equipment storage building, certain that he’d find an appropriate pair of gloves there.

The mercenary, now alone, took this opportunity to take in his surroundings. From what he could tell, the explosion hadn’t appeared to do any real damage to the production facility, and now that he was thinking about it, nobody had mentioned injuries. Well, except for the alleged bomber. Something was nagging him in the back of his head.

What would Di’iiktr’aicey do? he thought to himself. I need to see what happened here for myself. TuQ’uan began scanning the perimeter of the facility. There. The reflection off a glass pane caught his eye.

“Sir, your gloves.” The Subjugate had returned, and this time he had a pair of gloves that would fit the overseer.

“Finally, thank you, Babyface.” The Kel Dor took the gloves from the Corellian’s outstretched hand and slipped them on. “Tell me, Babyface, how many cameras have a view of this location?”

“At least six, sir,” he spoke uncomfortably. TuQ’uan considered this information for a moment before speaking again.

“Go to the director’s office and get me the footage from those cameras, you have my authority.” He let that sink in for a moment. “And Babyface? You had better not come back empty handed. Is that understood?”

The Subjugate nodded his head rapidly before taking off at a dash. The guy was starting to grow on the Overseer.

TuQ’uan set off to work collecting as many fragments of the explosive as he could find. It was tedious work but the majority of the fragments did not appear to have traveled far. Eventually the Overseer was satisfied with his collection of durasteel, small bits of copper and glass. The glass was the part that wasn’t sitting well with the mercenary. Slipping the shrapnel into his pocket, TuQ’uan headed back towards the front gate.

Footsteps pounded against the duracrete chasing after the Overseer.

“Sir, the footage you asked for!” Babyface cried after TuQ’uan.

The mercenary was so caught up in getting the fragments back to the pinnacle to be analyzed that he had almost forgotten about the Subjugate.

TuQ’uan reached out and took the data pad being offered. He watched all six cameras repeatedly as they showed him the events of the day. Something struck him as odd; the explosion was big, and being in the center of the facility, it was easy to see by everyone around, but nobody was hurt, and it didn’t actually destroy anything.

And finally, it clicked.

“Furios, I’m heading back to the pinnacle. I need to analyze what’s left of the bomb.” He spoke into his comlink. “Watch your back. I think someone is trying to send us a message.”

The mercenary began speed walking back to the entrance.

“Babyface, you’re with me.”


(Ronovi Tavisaen) #9

PLOT UPDATE #1

Dread Lord’s Private Office
The Pinnacle - Level 195
36 ABY

“But, Dread Lord, I didn’t…”

Arden drew some small pleasure in Tren Coltar’s perplexed look, but all it elicited was a slight smirk from the Dread Lord. The Ettian kept a firm, but level, tone, and he didn’t raise his voice in the slightest.

“Arx will know about this situation what I say they know about this situation. Stop presuming you’re the only Inquisitor on Aliso, or even the most senior one. This isn’t Marick’s problem - not yet, anyway. Are we clear, Coltar?”

The Inquisitor, ruddy-faced and dark-haired, still looked and sounded confused. “But if someone is orchestrating this, Arx could help.”

Arden didn’t change his expression in the slightest. “Arx will meddle, and I don’t need it. You go over my head on this, and the next time you leave my office, it won’t be through the door. Are we clear?”

Coltar gulped slightly as Arden glanced towards the window. “Very.”

“Good. Now get back to it. Fours will show you out.”

Arden gestured, and the door opened to reveal his personal security unit, KX-444. The hulking droid ushered the Corellian out just as Ronovi entered. The Wrath glanced at Coltar as he sidled by her and then looked over to Arden.

“What was all that about? Is he going to be a problem?”

Arden shook his head. “Not to me. Maybe to the cleaning and maintenance crews.”

Ronovi smirked in reply. “I see. He looked like you were going to defenestrate him. Are you sure that’s in the budget?”

Arden poured himself a drink as Ronovi spoke, and as he finished, he simply nodded. “Already have a line item for that. Anyway, I’m guessing you have a report from Morega.”

“Yeah, and it’s not much to go on,” Ronovi admitted, trying not to look frustrated but still giving herself away. “The suspect had begun exhibiting unusual signs of disobedience only hours before the incident. Hesitation at orders, unexpected body language. Morega pulled surveillance footage if you’d like to review it yourself, but the cause seems somewhat obvious.“

“The suspect’s conditioning had been compromised,” sighed Arden. “I’d come to the same conclusion, based on what I’ve seen. Is it still an isolated incident? “

“For the moment, yes,” Ronovi replied. “I’m making sure that’s being made clear to all relevant authorities, especially the ones calling this a revolt.”

Arden took a sip of brandy. “Agreed. This is far from a revolt at this point, and we need to keep it that way. Our first priority needs to be figuring out who is compromising our slaves’ conditioning, and how. Recover the suspect from D&D - I want a full autopsy. But do it quietly.“

“Understood,” said Ronovi. “Morega said there’s not much left, but we’ll let the lab geeks at him. Anything else?”

“Yes,” the Ettian answered, “but I think I need to contact someone real fast.”

He keyed up his comm panel, and a moment later, a hologram of a Bothan appeared. “This is Reg in Tech Ops. How can I be of assistance, Dread Lord?”

Arden smiled slightly at seeing the Bothan. “Reg, I need you do a full search of all new arrivals on Aliso in the last 45 days. Tap into any necessary databases. I want flags on anyone that has known military, intelligence, or underworld connections. I want a similar search running for all recent slave acquisitions in the last 90 days.”

The hologram nodded. “Got it. First part shouldn’t be hard, since we have the docks wired up pretty good. Second part might be a challenge. The Trandoshans don’t keep good records.”

Arden rolled his eyes. “Don’t remind me,” he griped. “Get me what you can as soon as possible. Dread Lord out.”

As the hologram disappeared with a snap, Ronovi glanced over to Arden with a look of concern. “Why Reg?” she asked. “Why not one of your fancy analysis droids? It can do the job just as efficiently.”

Arden grinned. “Because I like Reg. And I trust him. More than I trust you.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks,” Ronovi bitterly chuckled.


The Medina
Aliso City
36 ABY

Sevrin was exhausted when he returned to the Medina after his grueling shift, his arms aching as he sidled past the array of Ravagers patrolling the main entrance. He kept his eyes averted, in order to simulate obedience and complicity; he also didn’t like having to stare into a visor where he could detect no face. But there were no pat downs. No groping of his extremities. He supposed that either security thought the conditioning was working, or they were too stupid to follow orders.

Either way, it worked wonders for his plan. After all, the Aliso slave population was so dense, and so close to being unmanageable, that it was a miracle Plagueis could track any of them individually. With the help of the Collective, and the appropriate wardrobe, Sevrin was able to blend in easily. There was no questioning, no detection, no threat of chemical conditioning inflicted upon him. If he was acting the way a slave should and doing the work ordered of him, then why would anyone bother him?

After the Ravagers were finished staring Sevrin down, he was allowed back into the narrow tunnels that made up the slaves’ domiciles. All things considered, the place seemed to fit rats more than cattle. Cattle were lumbering, slow beasts, navigating to a central area and being primed for slaughter. Rats, on the other hand, were high energy - practically paranoid. Always scurrying about, but never finding an exit to the maze that they had been placed in.

His eyes adjusting to the dim light, Sevrin followed the jostling lines of slaves back to his personal quarters. For what it was, it offered more than he had anticipated: A somewhat comfortable bed, a table for him to eat on when he received his rations. He was allowed a sabacc deck, a Cerean puzzle cube, maybe a holovid when his scrappy holoprojector in the corner actually worked. He didn’t fraternize with the other slaves, not even when they huddled around in small circles to gamble what little they had. They weren’t exactly keen on engaging conversation.

Nor could they answer the most important question of all: Where Arin was. And in the weeks that Sevrin had been living in the Medina, he had never found him.

Recently, he had been assigned to the Landsdown Docks, working with droids and medical personnel if anyone needed assistance with ship maintenance or requested a specific tool or service. Sevrin’s job, mostly, was to nod and say, “Yes, sir,” or, “Yes, ma’am.” Then he would risk pinching his nerves or breaking his fingers doing the laborious repair work that pilots didn’t want to deal with themselves. Consequently, it was beyond impossible for him to go anywhere besides the docks or the Medina. Therefore, if Arin wasn’t in either of those places, then Sevrin couldn’t contact him. Not yet, anyway.

Still, working with machinery did keep some of his skills honed. In the little downtime he had, he would tinker with spare parts, scrounging up necessary scraps and sneaking them into the Medina with him. Again, without thorough body inspections, it was easy for him to flatten pieces under his sleeves and along his waistband and then reassemble them into an actual working device once he got inside.

And tonight, he was ready to continue what he started.

Once in his room, Sevrin shut the door and got to work. He first went to the easternmost wall of his tiny space, where tucked in a small nook was his comlink, which he had snuck in with, again, no consequences or repercussions. He rubbed the grime and dust off its surface, popped it into his ear, and tweaked with its settings until he could hear Kel Zar’s voice.

“Arce.”

Sevrin kept his voice low. “Any news?”

“A few incidents. Nothing big. There are a couple of rogue slaves that have either been rounded up or put down. Only one major attack so far. Some people are already screaming full rebellion.”

“Well, it’s not even close to that.”

“No, it’s not,” sighed Kel Zar. “But we’re working on it. Do you need any help with the disruptor technology?”

“I think I’ve got it.”

“Good. We’ll be in touch.”

“Wait,” hissed Sevrin. He wasn’t done yet. “What about my brother?”

There was slight static buzzing in his comlink as he waited for an answer. Then: “What about him?”

“Do you know where he is?”

Kel Zar sounded annoyed, which caused Sevrin to feel irritated as well. “Priorities, Arce. One step at a time. We agreed to help you as long as you helped us. That hasn’t changed.”

“And how patient do you expect me to be?”

He heard a grim chuckle on the other line. “For as long as it takes to make the whole system implode. Good night, sweet prince.”

The transmission disconnected, and Sevrin swore under his breath.

He knew he couldn’t argue too much with the Collective; one misstep, and he’d be a slave for life. But how else could he find Arin? That had been his mission, his main goal. Now he was being sidetracked. If the organization kept its promise, fine, but he was growing less and less confident of that by the day. Besides, if things got out of hand, it could jeopardize his mission entirely.

Sevrin exhaled sharply before removing the comlink from his ear and tucking it back into its safe spot. Then he began his hour or so of craftsmanship. From under his bed, he pulled out various metal hubs and wired nodes and stuck them together like he was putting together a toy. Then he tested it. The sonar it sent off was barely heard by him, or by anyone with a clear mind. But when activated properly, it broke the powers of persuasion. It disrupted brain waves beautifully. Exactly what he wanted.

Leaving his quarters for only a minute or two, Sevrin crept his way down one particularly bustling tunnel and slapped the device into a curve in the wall. No one would see it, but they would hear it.

And they would awaken.


In the aftermath of the initial terrorist attack at D&D Construction Yards and a handful of other minor disturbances, the Dread Lord has begun the first step in figuring out what might be breaking slaves’ chemical conditioning in order to allow them to become insubordinate. Members of Plagueis are reminded that there is no large-scale slave revolt imminent, and that they should focus on specific instances that differ from the norm.

Your new possible objectives include:

  • Participating in the interrogation process of any deviant slaves who have been caught in the act of rebellion or rebellious tendencies
  • Working directly with the clan summit to find the reason behind said deviancy - i.e. the breaking of their conditioning
  • Patrolling already affected areas of Aliso City and reporting back what you find

Older but still relevant objectives also include:

  • Continuing to observe the slave population inside your house’s headquarters or in and around the Pinnacle, reporting any signs of disobedience
  • Continuing to explore and examine specific locations of Aliso City where slaves may be working
  • Continuing to ignore the Dread Lord’s request and simply going about your business for the day

Again, there is to be no unnecessary killing of slaves - doing so is equivalent to destroying economic resources, which is unacceptable to the Dread Lord. Don’t add to the window repair budget.


(Zuser Whuloc) #10

Landsdown Docks
Aliso

Standing from on top of the Wraith, Zuser watched the unfamiliar shuttle hover down on its repulsors.

“Huh, that’s a new one," he said to himself. “Looks like we got some new blood.”

"Skull! Where’s that panel?” he bellowed.

“Here, sir,” the K-series droid drawled, as it lumbered over with a large panel for the top of the Ghtroc.

“Ah, wonderful, there it is. Stupid asteroid, taking a chunk out of the Wraith…all right, hold it up!”

The droid lifted the sheet of metal above its head. Zuser stretched his hands out and reached out with the Force, lifting the metal up and onto the exposed hole on top of the Wraith. Tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth, he gently set the panel down over the gap. Reaching for the spanner attached to his belt, his wrist comlink chirped. With a groan of irritation, the Obelisk lifted his wrist to his face.

“This is Zuser, what is it?”

The raspy voice of Tra’an Reith hissed before coming through the device.

“I want you to go assist with the Slave issue.”

“Ughhh! Seriously? Now?! I just landed in Landsdown and I have a literal kriffing hole in my ship that needs to get fixed! I’m busy!”

“Quiet! You can fix your precious ship later. Have you noticed anything odd lately with the Subjugates?”

Zuser paused, mouth closing in thought before raising an eyebrow and slowly surveying the docking bay he was in.

“Actually… Now that you mention it… things seem to be tense with some of the Subjugates recently, even here at Landsdown. I swear I’ve seen some even talking to each other, like while sorting parts for the shop down here. Aren’t they not supposed to do that?”

There was a fizzy pause from the commlink on the maverick’s wrist.

“…No, they shouldn’t be doing that. Keep an eye on them. No killing them.”

“Wait, what? Why not?!”

“Dread Lord’s orders. You have your assignment. Finish your repairs and scout the city.”

“Yes Master. I’ll stay in touch. Zuser out.”

Lowering his wrist, the pilot grabbed the spanner from his belt and began fastening the metal plate down.

“Best to get this fixed quick, then…”


(Wrathus) #11

Outside the Dread Lord’s Private Office
The Pinnacle - Level 195
36 ABY

Ronovi had just stepped out of the Dread Lord’s office when her comlink blipped. She unclipped it from her belt and held it to her ear, speaking into it in a rather old-fashioned way.

“Madam Proconsul?” a shaky female voice came through.

“Go for Tavisaen,” the Wrath responded. “More to the point.”

“Ma’am, this is Vitta Latt from the Pinnacle Spaceport. I have a rather large black droid here. He says he serves a ‘Lord’ Wrathus. His master wishes to speak with you.”

Lord. Ronovi’s eyebrows shot up. The man was pretty brazen to give himself that title. There was only one lord in Plagueis - the Dread Lord - and that truth buzzed in her mind. She had never met this “Wrathus” before, though she did know that he was a transfer from the now non-existent Tarentum. She sometimes forgot that her first clan had ceased to be.

The fact that Wrathus demanded an audience away from the Pinnacle was also intriguing. Ronovi either found such boldness admirable, or she would scoff at it, depending on the respectability of the person. Either way, this would be fun.

“Very well,” she intoned with a sneer. “Inform Wrathus that I’m on my way.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The comm clicked off, and Ronovi strode purposefully toward the speeder dock. As much as she had never spoken more than two words to the man, she knew one thing: Wrathus was a loner and wouldn’t be on Aliso without a reason.


DT-3c Fury
Pinnacle Spaceport
Aliso City
36 ABY

Ronovi followed the black IG-100 into the DT-3c Fury - a ship she had never made herself at home on. From a distance, it looked like an overgrown, yet geometric, bat. Once inside, however, it was cold and dark - perfect for the kind of person she was meeting. Once in the space, she could immediately feel the malevolent energy that permeated the room. It almost felt exaggerated, that pull to the dark side; Ronovi wasn’t used to it. Then again, she was more subtle about her Force radiation; she had the training to do so, and she preferred to show her sadistic side on her own merits than have people guess at it first.

She saw him - cloaked, hooded and masked - standing at the far side of the ship’s main deck. The droid walked over to him, and after speaking with it, the man turned and walked to meet the Wrath in the middle of the room. He slowly removed his hood and mask and tilted his gaze to meet Ronovi’s.

Being six feet, nine inches tall, Ronovi was accustomed to tilting her gaze to meet others, but it was normally tilted downward. So having to look up to meet the seven foot three man’s eyes was an unusual experience. She fought back the urge to ask him what gave him the right to be taller than she was, but then she remembered that Furios was a thing.

“Dark Greetings, Warlord Tavisaen,” Wrathus broke the silence.

Ronovi grinned. She wasn’t used to being called by her rank, rather than her title. It seemed a bit defiant. “You’re a member of Plagueis, aren’t you?” she asked. “Ronovi will do. Or just, ‘Wrath.’”

Had Wrathus shared Ronovi’s sense of humor, she would have expected him to make a quip about his name being too similar to her title for his liking. However, that turned out not to be the case. The white-haired Epicanthix simply stared back at her, unblinking, his stance stiff and proud: a warrior’s stance through and through.

“You know, I normally don’t come to people who request a meeting,” Ronovi said, smirking. “People come to me. It’s quite a trip from the highest floors of the Pinnacle to its spaceport - lots of stairs. So you may want to make this quick so you’re not wasting my time or yours.”

Wrathus stared down at the woman; sensing her sarcasm, he simply responded. “Sounds like a good bit of exercise. But enough of that. I came here to acquire some new servants - my last ones couldn’t quite keep up - but upon landing, I come to find out there’s a problem with the slaves here.” He watched her face intently for any indication that she knew why he was there.

“Some minor insurrections. Nothing too serious.” Ronovi waved her hand dismissively. “No, Wrathus, I feel like you’re here for more…ulterior motives. Tell me, who was it who sent you?”

“My home’s intendant. He informed me that our last batch of merchandise had failed. But you are not wrong, I am here for more than just new slaves.” He fought the urge to let his anger slip into his voice. “I’m here to see if the Ascendant Clan is as good as they claim, to see if I made the right choice in joining you.”

“Is that so?” simpered Ronovi. She leaned her back against the nearest curved wall of the deck, her breathing rhythmic and relaxed. “And what would cause any doubt about Plagueis’s power?”

“I often work with the less than savory elements of the galaxy. Rumors abound that Plagueis can’t keep control of their own city. People are worried.”

At this, Ronovi couldn’t help but laugh. It was true that a handful or two of dissidents were quick to chastise or even question the motives of the Ascendant Clan. But as it was, no machine ran smoothly all of the time. Plagueis had its fingers dipped in multiple pots, to the point that, despite their subtlety, they made entire regions of outer systems rely on them for both economic and military support and guidance. To hear this man state that Plagueis “couldn’t keep control” was amusing - and it simply emphasized his true intentions.

“Tell me, my good man,” the Wrath couldn’t help asking in a snide tone, “do you happen to know an Inquisitor by the name of Tren Coltar?”

“Coltar? Hmmm, Rank V if I remember correctly. I’ve met him once or twice. Loose lipped, no good with a secret. How he made Rank V is a mystery.”

Oh, this is too good. “Then I suppose you might be unsurprised to learn,” explained Ronovi, “that he’s already spoken with the Dread Lord and myself about Arx’s…concerns, to put it lightly. Guess he figured he’d be blunt. He expected Karn to get right onboard with the Dark Council’s devices, I presume.”

Wrathus could feel the rage boiling inside him. One low rank had compromised his entire mission. While he could keep his face neutral, he could do little to keep his energy from changing. Once cold and malevolent, it now flared to life with a heat that Ronovi could feel from a distance.

Leave it to that karfing fool to blow everyone’s cover. Wrathus’s fists tightened. I’ll rip him limb from limb when I find him.

“Wrathus?” Ronovi was now looking at him with a near blank expression, as if she was waiting for a rebuttal. “Hey, buddy. Wake up. You going to address this or not?”

“Where. Is. He?” His rage was all but explosive. Had this been anyone but a superior before him, he’d have them by the throat.

The Wrath, however, was very good at being as unhelpful as possible - and impenetrable. “Haven’t seen him since Karn threatened to toss him out the Level 195 window. Tell me - did Marick send you personally, or are there more of you creeping around Aliso?”

“Where. Is. He?”

“My goodness, you are a bundle of nerves, aren’t you?” chuckled Ronovi. “Look, let’s make this easy. Own up, and I’ll make sure the Dread Lord doesn’t chuck you out a window, either.”

The air around the warrior seemed to bend inward and darken as he took several deep measured breaths. The air cooled, and the tension died down some.

“Well, since the bloody lothcat’s out of the bag…yes, I was ordered here by the Voice. I was to assess the situation and report back. It seems that he is very much in the dark on this one.” His voice was dripping with malice. He made no attempt to hide his contempt, and Ronovi could tell that her rank and station were the only things keeping this exchange from turning violent.

“He is in the dark,” she snapped, “because there is nothing we need to bring to the light. Rumors of an outright slave rebellion are more than simply exaggerated; they’re dangerous and destabilizing. I can assure you, and all your friends back on Arx, that we have the situation entirely under control. And if you were to truly desire to help us, you would do so as a Plagueian - not as a kriffing spy sent by Tyris and Cantor. Does that make sense to you?”

“Since we’re being frank, I don’t believe the Voice gives two shards about the slaves. It was the bomb that got his attention,” retorted Wrathus, his voice slowly regaining its cold indifference. “I followed his orders since he held the high rank. But I don’t believe it’s any surprise that I hold no love for the Dark Council. They abandoned my home during the war, outlawed our history, and told us we weren’t worth it. I’d put my blade through each one of them, given the chance. But I’m not that bold, or stupid.”

Ronovi was caught off guard by the man’s brief tirade. If there was one thing she had to give Wrathus credit for, it was his candor. It was not often that the Dark Jedi of the Brotherhood wore their hearts on their sleeves. They tended to remain quiet about their past traumas, unless they served a useful purpose in battle, and they certainly didn’t rail so aggressively against the Dark Council. Then again, Wrathus was a former Tarenti; his clan had, admittedly, been wiped off the face of the galaxy, barely given a chance to survive. Ronovi could not blame him for his passion - or his desire to make things even.

Given the woman’s own tumultuous past as a former Councillor, however, she half-wondered if perhaps Wrathus knew about her history and was attempting to use it as a form of manipulation. Still, much to her chagrin, she felt a slight fragment of respect toward the Battlemaster in front of her. It was small, and reluctant - but it was there nonetheless. A sentiment she was sure her immediate superior would not share with her.

“All right, Wrathus,” she stated. “Let’s make you useful. You know all too well how much Karn prefers to keep the Council at more than an arm’s length. If you’d like to figure out the situation for yourself, then I’d recommend playing reconnaissance like everyone else in the clan. We have the scene of the initial attack under control; we have men on the ground, and I’m not one to divulge details without explicit authorization. But do your part, and perhaps I’ll convince your Dread Lord to abandon his plans to build a catapult for his window victims. Do we have an accord here?”

Wrathus said nothing as he weighed his position. After a tense minute, he let a low breath out.

“We do.” He slowly replaced his black and gold trimmed mask, its angular plates giving his face the appearance of a mechanical pure-blood Sith. “But first, I have a leak to plug. And a body to dispose of.”

As he drew his hood up, Ronovi remembered a note she’d read on his file when he transferred to Plagueis. This man was known to consume his victims in a sort of ritualistic manner. Without even asking, she also understood exactly whom he meant when he mentioned who he wished to “dispose of.” And given her state of mind, she was not one to refuse anyone their thirst for vengeance.

“You have your fun,” she agreed, tapping at her blue cybernetic eyepatch for emphasis. “But as soon as you’re done, I want you surveilling everything from the Medina to the Sand Pit. Plenty of slaves to track there. We’re on the hunt for whatever’s fracturing their conditioning and putting them into this unsavory state of mind.”

“Anything I should know about the situation? What are the limits of my mission?” Wrathus inquired, with a military precision.

“Oh, the limits are simple enough: Communicate with Karn and me alone. No messages back to Marick. Trust me, I’ll know about them.” Ronovi could sense that Wrathus wished to protest, but she was good at being resilient. “We will inform Arx of the situation when we feel like it. You can at least respect that request, can’t you?”

“He’ll want updates. I’ll do what I must to succeed. I’m not above lying to a superior. Especially to a filthy Gray.”

“Then I suggest,” hissed Ronovi, “that the ‘filthy Gray’ practice some patience. Don’t lie to him: Simply tell him, ‘I’ll give you the information when I have it.’ It’s not lying by omission if you offer him the facts when they’re good and ready. Simple enough.”

While she couldn’t see it, Ronovi could almost feel his grin. “Spoken like a Sith. I knew we were of a like mind. Very well. I will proceed as planned.”

“Good,” exhaled Ronovi. “Then we’ll be in touch.”

She turned deftly on her heel and strode out of the DT-3c, leaving Wrathus to both his orders and his personal devices. She would not miss Coltar; he wasn’t a guy she’d get a drink with. Still, suspicion and doubt abounded in her mind, as she heavily questioned the true goals of the former Tarenti. She knew all too well how members of her former clan operated - secretly, normally against leaders’ demands or orthodoxy. Ronovi could only hope that he keep in close contact with her, without going rogue.

She knew better, of course. But the Battlemaster could be surprising at times.

In the meantime, Wrathus pressed the button to activate his ship’s comm.

“Tadia, open a channel to the Voice. I have much to prepare for.”

He began the activation cycle of his speeder. Only moments later, the hologram of the Voice appeared.

“One-Three-Five-Two-Five. This is sooner than expected.”

“I know. That’s because I have a message from the Dread Lord and his Wrath. They send their regards.” And in that moment, he severed the connection and smiled wickedly beneath his mask.

It was time to hunt.


(Kelly Mendes) #12

“Very well, I don’t appreciate the initial lie you told me, but having eyes free to roam around should help maintain security, preventing any incidents on base. But there’s something else I would like to take the time to say. Recently, my Aedile abandoned his post, this left me running everything on my own. It’s far from ideal, and I know there are going to be those, potentially even on the summit, who disagree with what I’m about to do. I’m making you my Aedile with immediate effect. The bad news is with the current situation we can’t set you up in the Aedile’s quarters, the good news is that you’ll be sharing with me until such a time we can at least get your stuff put in there. Now, while I don’t think anyone knows of our marriage, people are going to talk. Technically I should’ve run it by Karn and Tavisaen, but we can bring them up to speed if they get in touch. Until then, you were summoned up here because I wanted to keep your temper away from places it could incite further violence.” Kelly paced the command centre as she spoke. She didn’t know when or if something would go wrong, but so far there had been no indication of escalation. Her plan had worked for the time being, so either the conditioning was still in place, or they weren’t suicidal.

“Well, that’s certainly a smart move on your part, but aren’t you worried making me Aedile in this way is going to draw criticism from the summit and other Plagueians?” Taranae responded to her wife and Quaestor.

“If Karn and Tavisaen don’t trust my judgement, they’ll get rid of us both as soon as they can. And if they get rid of me, Karness Muur will need a new summit too. I’m sure they wouldn’t be afraid to do it, but it compromises Plagueis unless they just appoint puppets. As for people who aren’t them, they should’ve shown themselves worthy and loyal like you have repeatedly.” Kelly calmly assuaged the redhead’s concerns and she could feel the woman from Naboo become more comfortable.

“Right, so Karn will probably require I send him the paperwork, so if anything comes up from Muse or the security, you are authorised to deal with it, I’ll still be in the room, just give me a shout and I’ll let the men know you are authorised to hear their reports.” Kelly then walked over to a not insignificant pile of paperwork and took it to her desk. If there was one thing Kelly disliked about Arden’s tenure it was that he was meticulous about paperwork and procedure. She sat down at her desk and let out a suspiration as she started on the paperwork.


(blackhawk) #13

Well, I’m here Blackhawk thought. Maybe this time he’d find himself more at home than previously.
The Clawdite’s initial attempt at inserting himself elsewhere had left nothing more than discomfort. Perhaps Plagueis would be more welcoming. Especially considering that, last he knew anyway, more former Tarenti had come here, including his sister apprentice, and his master. With that thought in mind, Blackhawk set off.
If I’m going to stay here, might as well look around. Maybe I’ll even run into someone I know.


(Dralin Fortea) #14

The Landsdown Docks
Aliso City
36 ABY

The bustle of a spaceport in the early morning was a familiar spectacle to Sevrin, but not from the perspective of an enslaved dockhand. Before his eyes, he saw the usual relief of arrival and anticipation of departure merge into the gray trudge of unrecognized labor. He was put to tasks that would have undoubtedly been performed by some barely intelligent droid on most other civilized systems in the galaxy, and his doubt and rage grew with each menial job.

Sevrin was, perhaps, a fool to have trusted the Collective at their word before being thrust into this situation with little hope of escape. The sting of starship exhaust in his nostrils served as his personal punishment for letting himself get put into this situation. Yet, his brother was still out there. The aging spy had to find him.

With oil stains on his fingers and grease smears across his nondescript smock, Sevrin weighed his options. In his time as a mercenary, he had certainly been stranded in more hostile environments, but this one came close to the top of his list. By posing as one of the least obtrusive members of the harshly enforced social strata, Sevrin was effectively cut off from the time-honored tradition of becoming a double agent. The locals, as he insisted on calling the ruling class in an attempt to keep the other slaves’ mentality from seeping in, would never meet with someone of his apparent standing, much less take him seriously. Even if they did believe him, he would be a dead man for his role in beginning the sabotage of their power structure. And that wouldn’t save Arin.

He was snapped out of his contemplation when the slave foreman, dressed in blue like everyone else, shoved a grimy datapad into his hands.

“This order takes priority,” snapped his superior, and Sevrin nearly dropped the datapad out of surprise. The poor living conditions, barely adequate food, and monotonous work was beginning to dull his senses, and the realization shocked him into attention.

The impostor slave checked the readout of what the foreman had handed him, and it seemed routine enough. A recent arrival, a YV-666, required refueling, but the readout suggested the ship was nearly topped off already. Sevrin didn’t see what was so urgent about the order, but he reminded himself that someone in his position wasn’t supposed to question that. Still, the oddity stood out in his trained mind, and oddities were always worth noting. He mentally filed the fact away as he got to work.

When he came upon the right docking bay, he was somewhat taken aback by what appeared to be a tall, ruined church with wings. The Lightbringer, as the datapad so named, was far less adorned and polished than what he had expected for a YV-666. The occasional rust spot held the only color on the bare, metal hull, and the bow looked bizarre, as if a column had been attached to the front, like a flying buttress.

Sevrin grabbed the large refueling hose from his receptacle on the nearest bay wall and dragged it behind him as he approached the ship. Before he could reach the fuel cap, however, the ramp opened behind the reinforced bow, as if a great whale were yawning before him. His determined trudge slowed as he heard the sound of wheels on the deck plating, and from within the gloom of the ship’s loading ramp emerged a ramshackle astromech. Its dome whirled for a moment as it took in its surroundings, and then it gave an aggressive chirp as its sensors settled on Sevrin.

The R3 unit sped toward Sevrin on its mismatched wheels, and he had to jump back to avoid getting slammed into. The droid’s gaze was fixed on the hose, and before the undercover mercenary could explain himself, a small appendage retracted from the droid’s chassis and leveled itself at Sevrin’s hands. There was a brilliant arc of light, and his teeth clenched as he jumped in literal shock. It had been a minor electrical shock, and a short-lived one, but his hands stung enough that he dropped the hose.

Satisfied, the droid turned back to the loading ramp, but it halted in place when it saw that its attendant wasn’t following. The astromech gave what sounded like a mechanical growl of frustration as it looped around the uncertain mercenary and started bumping into him, pushing him toward the ship’s opening.

“I get the hint,” Sevrin hissed as he plodded forward, and the aggressive droid kept its arcing tool at the ready, as if it were looking for an opportunity to use it.

His boots echoed through the docking bay as he ascended the metal ramp into the YV-666. Sevrin’s pulse matched the quick pace set by the pushy droid behind him as he was ushered into the darkness. His heart thundered in his ears as the ramp closed slowly behind him, taking all light with it. The Corellian’s thoughts began to race with stories of those captured and sold from aboard vessels like this one, and he worked to keep this line of contemplation from affecting his voice as he called out.

“Um, hello? I’m…here for the refuel.”

A single light suddenly snapped to life, and Sevrin was temporarily blinded. The mercenary dropped into a defensive pose before his eyes adapted to find a figure sitting at a small table directly below a hanging lamp.

“Good morning,” the figure replied. “Would you care for some tea?”

Sevrin stood still for a moment, still crouched in a reliable Imperial pose.

“I said, would you care for some tea?” the cultured voice repeated. It had taken on a slight edge of annoyance, as if the mercenary had demonstrated offense by not immediately accepting. “It won’t stay warm forever.”

The Corellian blinked. The man sitting at the table -which was, in fact, set with two steaming, beaten-up teacups - looked to be about ten years Sevrin’s junior. Reddish-brown hair had been pushed back absentmindedly, hooked behind one of the man’s ears and reaching the nape of his neck. A couple days’ worth of stubble covered the man’s face, and his once-fancy suit, though still expertly fitted, hung worn and threadbare from his frame. The detail that stood out most, however, was the man’s gaze. His cybernetic eyes burned into Sevrin, glittering black and emerald in the warm light of the hooded lamp.

The stranger gestured to the chair opposite himself, and Sevrin took a slow, tentative seat. He eyed the tea with suspicion, and he looked up when he heard an impatient tut from his mysterious host.

“Do you suspect it’s poisoned?” The Coruscanti man, if Sevrin placed his accent right, shook his head and took a sip from his cup before switching it for the other. He took a sip from that cup, too. “If I wanted to murder a slave in Aliso City, there are cheaper ways to do it than poison, I assure you.”

With a straight back and a level gaze, Sevrin took the offered cup and sampled the dark liquid. It was pleasantly spiced, he was surprised to find, with a woody aftertaste. Having established that his pride was still intact, Sevrin took another sip of his first quality drink since going undercover.

“Of course, you’re not really a slave, are you?” the man continued. “If you keep on the way you have, I’m afraid your cover will simply become your new life, but we both know that’s not what you’re here for.”

Sevrin froze, torn between relief that someone was treating him as something other than an object and alarm that anybody knew his secret. His mind flashed to Kel Zar, and the likelihood of being sold out by the Collective agent loomed over him, as if a dark wave were about to break above his head. He had already begun the process of slowly unraveling the conditioning on some of the population of the Medina, and strictly speaking, he wasn’t as necessary for the completion of the mission as the sonic devices themselves. Sevrin felt his stomach drop, but he refused to let it show.

“This…Collective.” The man used the word as if it tasted off, spoiling his tea. “Their ends were, in a word, irritating, yet I find their means admirable.” He shrugged.

“What do you want with me?” Sevrin demanded, having found his tongue now that the shock of discovery had passed. “If you know all that, and you haven’t acted yet, you must want something.”

The stranger smiled, and the mercenary couldn’t tell if it was meant to be warm or predatory.

“You’re a smart man. You’ll go further yet, I’m sure.” He set down his tea and steepled his fingers. “Once I figured out who you were, it was only a simple matter of figuring out why you’re here. What if I gave you what you wanted, in return for doing what you’re already doing, but for me rather than the Collective?”

“How could you possibly know what I’m here for?” Sevrin asked, his expression turning stony as he set his tea down with some force.

The stranger smirked.

“I’ll take you to Arin right now if you’ll turn coat.”


Dread Lord’s Private Office
The Pinnacle - Level 195
36 ABY

Arden’s comm panel flashed with an incoming message alert. The Dread Lord pressed a key, and a hologram of his favorite Bothan sprang into existence.

“Dread Lord, I apologize for interrupting your morning.”

“Nonsense,” Arden replied with an absent wave of his hand. “Report.”

“Regarding the first part of your instructions, I received a hit on a flag for those with military and intelligence connections who have docked within the last forty-five days.”

The Dread Lord signaled for Reg to continue.

“Do you know of anyone by the name Dralin Fortea?”


(Kul'tak Drol) #15

Unknown Regions
Aliso System
Aliso
36 ABY

As the vessel began its landing procedures, Kul lifted a gloved hand to stave off the gust of air blown towards him by the force of the thrusters. He stood a respectful distance away from the craft, though deep down he wanted to be closer. Not for the thrill of being nearly blown away by the vessel’s engine systems, but for what was aboard the craft itself. Or whom was on the craft more like. The anticipation sent a shiver up his spine and he had to keep himself from taking another step towards the gangplank before it had finished descending. At his side two Massifs sat on their haunches, their reptilian gazes taking in the surroundings with extreme prejudice. Kul knew he was relatively safe here on his clan’s homeworld, but one could never be too careful, especially on his clan’s homeworld. Intrigue was just another tool in the clan’s mighty arsenal of weapons and tricks to maintain their power. Whomever forgot that usually ended up the newest supply of slave labor.

As his expected arrival began to make their way down the carrier’s ramp, he sent a mental nudge to his pets and they began to flank his sides as he made his way over. With a light spring to his step the Zabrak met the Togruta he’d been expecting halfway across the landing platform. Her smile at his presence lit up her face, and he once again knew what the Light side was likely made of.

“Tahiri. Welcome back.”

From behind her lithe figure a familiar mass of muscle and fur creeped around to make itself known, slightly nudging Kul with a huff. He reached down and rubbed the Akul’s thick head lovingly.

“No I did not forget about you, Solan. I’m glad to see you, as well.”

The Akul padded over and sniffed at the Massiffs before the trio suddenly ran off, chasing each other, the larger Akul bowling over one of them in its hurry.

Tahiri giggled at the sight before turning back to Kul. Feeling more relaxed now on her new homeworld, she let a sigh escape her lungs that told Kul everything he needed to know about her mission results. He lifted a hand and softly placed it against her cheek, which she leaned into and closed her eyes. He poured his reassurance into the gesture and let her enjoy the moment before he dropped his hand again and gazed into her sulfuric eyes.

“The Collective will fall, of that I promise you. If I have to tear their halls down myself.”

Grateful, but also not naive, Tahiri smiled and laid a hand on Kul’s shoulder as she began to walk towards the direction of the Aliso Monastery.

“Yes, I want them gone, Kul, but not at the expense of anything or anyone else I care about.”

The pointed look she threw back at him sobered his blood lust, so he nodded and began to follow. His long strides brought him beside her quickly, and he let the now hanging silence engulf the claps of the boots on the durasteel. He peered at her from his peripheral, but wasn’t sure how to broach the subject he wanted to speak with her about. Finally, as they entered the port’s main building, he decided that straightforward was likely the best approach. He cleared his throat.

“Tahiri, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something, but it’s never really been a great time, what with the Collective appearing and all. I know you’re probably tired, so rest up, but then there’s somebody I’d like you to meet.”

Intrigued, the Togruta glanced up at him with an eyebrow raised.

“Please tell me you don’t need me to witness at a behavioral hearing again, Kul. What have I told you about getting too rough at the Sand Pit?”

Kul snorted, but could not exactly fault her for going down that line of reasoning. He admitted to getting a bit too rambunctious when it came to the fight pits. He waved a hand defensively.

“No, no, nothing like that. It’s a bit hard to explain, but you’ll like her I think.”

Tahiri stopped walking abruptly and the other brow went up. Her voice did not raise, but he could sense the implied meaning well enough. The Togruta could be an incredibly implied scary when she wanted to.

Her?”

If it had been possible, Kul’s face would have turned white as he blanched, cursing himself for his phrasing.

“Again, you’ll understand when you meet her. You have to trust me though, I can’t say too much where others might hear. When you get rested, contact me and we’ll meet at the Monastery.”

Boosting his stride, the Zabrak went off to corral his pets, yelling the rest behind him as he went.

“It’s good to see you back, though! You look ravishing today! See you later!”

Tahiri shook her head in exasperation. Sometimes she considered punching that Zabrak. She raised a hand to her cheek where he’d touched her and she smiled faintly.

Not today, though.

Aliso
Korada Monastery
Slave Quarters

“What do you mean I’m not allowed to enter?”

Standing before the two door guards in the black, well-kept armor, Tahiri could hear Kul’s tone beginning to inch dangerously close to violence. Flanking his sides were his beloved Massifs, who, due to their deep connection with their master, reflected his rising temper with hackles raised.

The soldier whom the question was directed at looked to his superior on his right, who gave a short, stiff bow.

“Apologies, my lord, but the orders are from the Dread Lord himself. What with the unrest and all.”

“Hmph. As an agent of the Dreadlord I think I have the clearance to enter the slave quarters of all places.”

The guard paused before answering. He was quite aware of his orders, but also aware of the rumors that followed the Zabrak beastmaster. A delicate answer would be required, otherwise the situation might devolve into a period of extended hospital stay.

“Under normal circumstances you indeed would, my lord. The situation is currently under investigation so the Dread Lord has asked that only a select few directly involved be allowed to enter freely, lest suspicion fall on the wrong parties. The Summit appreciates your cooperation while this matter is resolved.”

The tension was palpable. Tahiri could feel the pressure as Kul’s annoyance built, his musculature swelling slightly as he instinctively drew on the Force. She laid a reassuring hand on his forearm.

“It’s ok, Kul, I don’t mind waiting. She’s probably aware about the situation and will understand if you can’t visit…” The Togruta spared a glance at the blast door, a confused look on her face. “…Though I don’t quite understand why she’s staying in there to begin with.”

It was phrased as a question, and its purpose succeeded as Kul’s anger left in the wake of the distraction.

“It was a training test. If she can survive the slave pens, then she can handle more difficult assignments. It might seem harsh, but it’s necessary for her to survive within Plagueis’ shadow politics. Her own strength and wit will keep her alive when I cannot be there.” He grinned before continuing, “She tends to sneak into places she’s not supposed to be, so I’d thought I’d at least teach her how to do it right.”

The Togruta tilted her head to one side.

“She must be quite skilled for you to take interest in her.”

Kul swept a hand over his skull, lightly grazing the tips of his vestigial horns. He paused momentarily and glanced at the blastdoor before them.

“Actually our meeting was pure happenstance. I encountered her during a standard recon mission. She’s a bit quirky, like most humans, but she’s clever in her own way.” He flicked open his wrist comlink and typed in a specific channel before resting his gaze back on the senior guard.

“You said no one but the specified few were allowed in, correct?”

The guard nodded sharply. “Yes, my lord.”

Kul’s face broke into toothless grin. He drew the comlink to his lips and spoke.

Hiso, I’Sharee kep.”

Tahiri gave him a confused look as he closed his comlink and clasped his hands behind his back in a waiting pose.

“Was that Zabraki, Kul? I don’t recognize the phrase.”

His gaze now intently watching the door, the Zabrak just looked back at her and winked.

“Just give it a minute.”

Trusting his word, Tahiri shook her head and patiently waited. An awkward silence fell over the group as the guards became unsure if they should ask them to leave or satisfy their curiosity and see what they were waiting for. Solan the Akul lay resting behind his master while Kul’s Massifs changed stances, their senses picking up a familiar sound.

Tap, tap. Tap, tap-tap. Tap, tap.

The guards turned to face the blastdoor, and though their faces were covered it was clear they were unsure why such a sound would be coming from the other side of their post. Kul did however, and he approached the door. The guards considered drawing their weapons, but the Zabrak merely rested a knuckle upon the door and repeated the cadence from this side. After doing so he stepped back and rubbed his hands together.

“She should be coming any second now.” A moment passed. “Annnyyy second.”

When the door still did not open Kul frowned and gave a worried glance at the opening mechanism. He began to shift nervously and Tahiri thought he might be contemplating bashing the door down. She began to call out to him, but before she could the blastdoor whooshed open and a couple of bodies came careening out to either side of him. Already on edge, Kul’s reflexes kicked in and each hand caught a throat. Barely straining to lift the thin slaves, the Zabrak growled.

“Who are you and where is Reeka, mali?”

By this time the guards had actually drawn weapons and were debating at which party to point them at. Their attentions swiveled to the now opened doorway as a smaller slave came skipping out, long brown hair pulled to one side as the girl attempted to hide a small tool within it. She came to a sudden stop as she saw the scene unfolding and gave up on her hair, two tiny pale hands raised in defiance.

“Wait, Father! They’re with me.”

“Reeka?”

Tahiri glanced from the small human child to Kul. “Father?”

Kul ignored the question momentarily, still holding the slaves in an iron grip. Only his gaze weakened as it took in his adopted daughter.

“What do you mean they’re with you, little Reek?”

Reeka padded over, her bare feet slapping against the cold durasteel floor. She gazed up at the Zabrak, not an ounce of fear in her body. Tahiri had to stifle a laugh at the image of this tiny girl facing off with the much larger Kul.

She’s definitely acquired his recklessness.

“I meeeean that they said they wanted to get out. I told them that I was going to leave when you told me to, so I said I would ask if they could come, too.”

The slave in his left hand nodded vigorously. He was a another human, a lanky, middle-aged man with a scraggly beard. Unkempt hair shook as his head bobbed, a gesture that only forced his windpipes harder against Kul’s palms.

“Aye, she did, sirrah. Mighty kind of her, too. A right fine lassie you raised here’n.”

Kul flexed his wrist and the man stopped talking. In his other hand a Geonosian drone struggled vainly to pry open the Zabrak’s fingers, clicking erratically with its mandibles.

“So who’s this one, then?”

The scraggly man took this as directed towards him, and excitedly began speaking again.

“Oh that there’s Crackle. Or at least’n I call him Crackle. Don’t rightly know what his real name might be. What with the no speakin’ thing. But he helped me out on the inside so’s I thought I’d repay the favor. Good thing, too. They don’t treat the insect lookin’ fellers all too well in there. Must be something personal, I suppose.”

The senior guard cleared his throat, but wilted slightly as the Zabrak’s increasing aggravation was suddenly directed towards him.

“My, Lord. Apologies, but I’m going to have to ask you to return the workers to their designated areas. No one comes or goes without proper authorization.”

Kul felt his body heave as he let loose a suspiration. This whole scenario had gone completely backwards to how he’d planned it. Taking a step to his right so as to place Reeka out of the line fire, Kul inhaled deeply and then heaved one arm after the other and sent both slaves sailing unceremoniously back through the blastdoor. They landed in a small heap and made to get up, but Kul slammed a balled fist into the console and the door quickly snapped shut. As he turned the senior guard looked apprehensively towards Reeka, her attire marking her as one of the slaves.

“My lord. I must insist. All of them.”

Kul didn’t bother turning to face the soldier as he prodded his Massifs. They hunched down and snarled in unison, razor sharp teeth slathered in saliva, waiting for the command to kill.

“She comes with me. I insist.”

The two guards slowly let their blasters fall to their sides, their desire to escape the situation unharmed trumping their drive to perform their duty to its fullest. They took up their original positions and gave a brisk salute.

“As you wish, my lord.”

Tired of the whole situation already, Kul waved at Tahiri, who had chosen to remain silent through the last exchange. She imagined that the Summit would probably find out about this, but she knew such knowledge would not have changed Kul’s stubborn mind anyway. So, being the caring and loyal partner she was, she nodded and took up pace beside Kul and watched Reeka, who was busy attempting to climb on one of the Massifs. Kul gripped her by the slave’s collar around her neck and planted her back on her own two feet.

“That wasn’t how I imagined this going, to be honest, but Tahiri…I’d like you to meet Reeka.”

At the mention of her name, the young girl pranced around the Togruta woman and beamed up at her.

“Hi! I’m Reeka! Are you a friend of my father’s? Can I touch your lekku? I’ve seen lots of Twi’lek with some, but yours are different. Is this your pet? Can I RIDE him?”

Tahiri giggled as the energetic girl bounced around and tried to climb the Akul, who promptly turned and butted her off with his nose.

“Hello, Reeka, I’m Tahiri. Yes, I am a friend of your father’s.”

Reeka’s face scrunched up and she smiled impishly between Kul and Tahiri.

“So, do you like like him?”

Kul groaned and ran a hand over his face while Tahiri laughed.

“She’s cute, Kul. I like her.”

Kul watched as the tiny human zig-zagged through the Massifs while taunting the Akul, the only sign of her training being the constantly swiveling eyes and fingers flexing unconsciously from muscle memory. It would be easy to miss if one wasn’t looking for it. Sparing a glance back towards the way they had come, Kul could not help but feel like he had missed something. One of the things he had learned about Reeka was her sharp children’s intuition. Normally she would never go against his original orders, which in this case had been to survive and stay hidden, only leaving upon his command. He had not included any directives regarding the other slaves inside, so what had caused her to feel a connection with those two? Or yet a better question: why were some of the slaves exhibiting breaks in their brainwashing all of a sudden?

Tahiri, the ever watchful eye, noticed Kul’s glum features and leaned forward.

“Something wrong?”

“I’m not sure. This slave situation may end up being bigger than I thought.”


(Taranae Rhode) #16

Muse walked slowly, her eyes darting left and right. Something didn’t sit right here. The ships were being refuelled, repairs were being made; all what should have been happening was still going on as if nothing had changed. But for one thing. Atmosphere. The atmosphere had changed immesurably in the bays. Here and there she caught furtive glances between the subjugates. A whispered word here and there between others. There was a tension in the air as she slowed even further, trying to place
something else that was gnawing at her senses like a rodent with food.
After a few minutes of gazing at one particular bay, she calmly activated her commlink.
“Tara, I think there’s something going down in the docks. The slaves are talking amongst themselves. Doesn’t that seem odd to you?”

Taranae listened as Muse told her what she had seen and heard during her walk and her eyes widened as she realised things may be worse than they suspected.

“Thanks Muse. I’ll get the news to Kelly right away.”

Turning to the Quaestor, she gave a slightly lopsided smile and said, “Kelly, I think the poodoo may be about to fly.”

Kelly’s expression turned from nonchalance to shock as she was told the details and she immediately opened comms.

“I think we need to report this now,” she said “and nip it in the bud before it gets way out of hand.”


(Kelly Mendes) #17

Command Center
Supply Station Omega
36 ABY

“Or…we could wait until someone familiar with the situation provides us with information. I’m just waiting for Dr. Xu to pick up.”

Kelly appreciated that Taranae’s friend was trying to help, but it could’ve been her eyes playing tricks on her, and Kelly wasn’t going to report to Arden or Ronovi on the words of a normie, no matter how long her wife had known the Twi’lek. The Quaestor of Ajunta Pall tapped her desk with her fingertips, eager to get a report from Dr. Xu.

Suddenly, the visage of a small, scrawny man who had undergone more than a few ‘augmentations,’ as he would call them, appeared on the main holographic display.

“Ah, Lady Mendes. I was hoping to get through to you sooner, but there was a slight delay. My augments’ needed a spring cleaning,” Xu started, hoping he could tempt the Left Wing of Dread into getting augments of her own.

“Get to it, doctor. I trust you have something useful for me,” Kelly starkly responded. Xu wasn’t much of a real doctor, but given the privacy needed for the situation, Emar Xu was the best Plagueis had to work with.

“Right you are, my lady. Lord Morega brought me the body of a Subjugate that had allegedly become defective before his demise. I was able to confirm the suspicions of your colleague - the conditioning used to render the Subjugates docile enough for our needs had indeed been broken. What I am as of yet to determine is how. With a small sample size, it’ll be impossible to tell, and with a large sample size, well…how it happened won’t be the biggest problem you’ll be facing. I’ve already informed your superiors of my findings.”

The Doctor looked thrilled at the idea of a large sample size. No doubt he planned to experiment with his homemade augments; maybe he was crazy enough to think of reanimation.

“Very well, Dr. Xu.” Kelly shut the line down as soon as she’d finished speaking. She could see sweet little Taranae looking at her, expecting to be informed of the next move.

“You’re going to be staying here while I take a trip over to Aliso City to bring in some supplies for if the worst should happen,” Kelly instructed her Aedile.

“No, if you’re going out there, then I’m coming with you. Two of us is better than one,” Taranae responded, clearly not fond of the idea of remaining in charge alone while her Quaestor went into the city.

“I can handle myself. Besides, one of us needs to stay here to make sure the people know we aren’t abandoning them to chase a wild goose. For now, they aren’t to know what we know. If it comes down to it, we’ll inform them. The troops have already been given their orders. If anyone but me comes through that entrance, you’ve got the license to deal with them as you wish. If a slave gets too far, then it’s a security risk. If it’s one of the subordinates, they can’t have good intentions.” Kelly stepped up from her comfortable gundark leather chair behind her desk and stretched her legs. “Oh, and I’m not taking any weapons, it’s about time I reconnected with the Force.” She winked playfully at Taranae as she strode confidently over to the turbolift.

The durasteel doors slowly closed as Taranae seemed to have put her trust in Kelly, who hit the button to be taken to the Summit hangar bay where her ship, a mint condition H-type Nubian Yacht she’d named the Pride of Theed was docked along with Tara’s own ship. the Pride of Theed had also been retrofitted with an autopilot that allowed its owner to focus on more pressing matters. The doors opened and there she was, the Pride of Theed. Kelly strode closer to the ship as its long, immaculate ramp was lowered, a familiar silhouette stood at its apex. BT-5555 or 5s as Kelly had taken to calling him, was one of five B1 Battle Droids the Left Wing of Dread had found when she had been skulking in the former home of Plagueis’ Geonosian allies. They weren’t different from any factory models other than their bizarre paint job. He and his batch mates had been painted to look, rather ironically, to look as if they were wearing ARC Clone Trooper armour. Whatever the reason behind it, Kelly had 5s on the Pride of Theed at all times. 5s saluted his owner as she stood at the bottom of the boarding ramp. After being shown the sign of respect the Quaestor climbed the ramp, which lifted with an elegance found among vessels manufactured by the Theed Palace Space Vessel Engineering Corps, such was the prestige of their clientele.

As Kelly wandered towards the cockpit to set the H-type Nubian Yacht on its way, she found a note sticking to the side of the door frame to the cockpit, though like most, Kelly hadn’t bothered with having a door installed. Peeling the note from where it hung, Kelly moved it closer to just lower than her chin as she lowered her emerald green eyes to read the contents.

Hey, dummy, you can’t look all fancy without a full booze cabinet. Pick some up from the city, won’tcha? Don’t want to let Wrathovi come for a visit and see we don’t have any Whyren’s Reserve in, so make sure to visit Hak’s to see if they got the shipment in yet.

Signed

An Incredibly hungover Kelly

Oh, how could she be so foolish, of course she’d written it. And even included her amusing nickname for the Dread Lord’s Wrath. Vahl only knows what Ronovi herself would make of the nickname, but that was for Kelly to ideally never find out. Placing the note back where she’d found it, Kelly scrolled through the nav computer to find Hak’s Hideout on the list of pre-programmed destinations. As soon as the tip of her finger had selected the destination, the autopilot took over and gently ascended from the ground, retracting its landing gear before flying into the tunnel that ran underground into the Valley of Typhojem.

Kelly turned her back to the autopilot console as 5s was seated in the co-pilot’s chair, ready to take over should the autopilot system fail. As it was morning Kelly didn’t want the blinding light of Aliso’s star, Aliso I, to be the first thing she saw as the ship rose from the ground to the skies above.

The Quaestor took a seat on a couch she had imported from off-world. Aliso City had become more than a mere frontier city, but it didn’t quite match the artistic flair of the Naboo just yet. As the ship ascended out of the ground, the Left Wing of Dread wondered if the problems she’d been hearing about had spread as far as the largest non-military settlement on Aliso. It would definitely prove problematic and worthy of intervention.

The ship began to decelerate, signalling the destination was near. Hak’s was fortunately on the eastern edge of the city, far from the hub, but a potential trouble spot nonetheless, even if only for the drunks that had to be dealt with. The Quaestor stood and made her way to the already unfurling boarding ramp. Kelly called out to 5s to make sure the ship stayed secure, permitting him use of any weapons she’d carelessly left onboard. The ramp lifted and the Pride of Theed was left in the care of the droid. Kelly proceeded to make the short walk through the Bothan neighbourhood to Hak’s Hideout. A green, scantily clad Twi’lek female had set herself out in her usual spot. Kelly ignored her and entered the establishment.

Making her way through the mostly empty bar, a surprise even for the morning, Kelly headed over to the counter where Naesc the bartender was waiting. It was a little unusual to get booze from a bar and take it home, but Aliso had shockingly not received its own liquor store. So Hak’s was the place for booze, among other things, on Aliso. Kelly cleared her throat as if to announce her arrival.

“What’ll it be?” Naesc nonchalantly asked his customer without taking the time to look up as he was arranging the various sizes of glass.

Kelly proceeded to list her order which included a variety of wines, most prominently Domaine de la Maison sur le Lac, Kowakian Rum, Cantonican cactus Liqueur, Jogan fruit brandy and Whyren’s Reserve.

“I assume ya won’t be carrying it all yourself, ma’am.” Naesc asked, wondering if he’d have to trust this order to a delivery pilot or not.

“My ship is just outside the city, a H-type Nubian Yacht, your men have delivered there before,” Kelly responded. “The droid will let your boys onboard.”

“Aye, right you are ma’am.” Naesc responded as he began assembling Kelly’s order. Other bartenders came through to help. The quicker they got the order dealt with the more inclined Kelly would be to pay them a little extra. Something disturbed the Force user though. After she watched them carry her order out back, because it was closer to her ship, she thought she could hear a commotion coming out from the front of the establishment.

Kelly left enough credits to cover the alcohol plus delivery on the bar for Naesc and nervously made her way to the entrance. The sound was getting louder, her gut was telling her something wasn’t quite right. As she exited Hak’s she saw a man shifting his eyes around the area as he was leisurely making his way through the streets. He didn’t seem to be a new arrival, but he definitely wasn’t familiar with his surroundings. That was when Kelly noticed the collar around the man’s neck. He wasn’t a citizen, but a Subjugate who had somehow wandered far enough away from his assignment and seemed to be watching everything with an observant eye.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” Kelly spoke softly, so as to not come across as hostile to the Subjugate. The man looked up at her and blinked.

“Do I look like I need help?” The man spoke clearly, though with something of an accusatory tone. That was odd. The conditioning process at the very least dampened the natural curiosity of people, though this particular Subjugate had managed to overcome that. Kelly pulled her comlink out of her pocket and adjusted it to the frequency she communicated with 5s on.

“Hey 5s, that booze got there yet? I might be a little delayed in my return. Go ahead and ensure its delivery to my office. If anyone asks, I’m picking up a surprise.”

“The alcoholic beverages have been delivered intact ma’am. I shall do as you request.” The droid responded. Upon hearing the response Kelly did some more tampering and placed it over her ear.

“Kelly what is it?” A voice came from the other side of the call.

“Well, Wrathovi —” Kelly found herself interrupted by a slight laugh from the Wrath

“What did you just call me? Wrathovi? That’s amusing, I’m writing it down, you can’t see it right now, but I am.” Ronovi was amused that one of her subordinates had formed a portmanteau out of her name and position. “As you were saying…” The Proconsul’s voice trailed off to allow Kelly to resume speaking.

“Right, yes. I’ve just come out of Hak’s and there’s a man, not one of ours, one of the ‘workers’ he appears to have had his natural curiosity returned to him, could be a problem, you might want want to send some people to pick him up so you can see what you can learn from him. I thought one of you and Arden should know and he’s probably checking on the markets or something. Anyway, I’m without a ride back to base for a bit, so I’m going to try and contain the situation.” The Quaestor finished her report to the Wrath.

“Sounds good to me, the more of you we have who know what to look for the better, that said try not to cause too much damage, you’ll frighten the locals and a riot would only add to our problems.” The Epicanthix summit member responded.


(Ronovi Tavisaen) #18

PLOT UPDATE #2

Dread Lord’s Private Office
The Pinnacle - Level 195
36 ABY

Slowly, Arden leaned back in his chair. He smelled dust and stained wood as he settled his hands against the surface of his desk. His eyes stung as he focused hard on the tiny blue silhouette of the Bothan standing in front of him. He felt his teeth dance across his lower lip, only slightly scraping the skin. He was not expecting to hear that name.

“I know a Dralin Fortea,” he replied, a coolness sifting through the fog of his voice. “Not too well, but the name is familiar. He was a critical part of Plagueian operations during the Eleventh War. I didn’t expect to hear from him again.”

“The reason I bring him up is…simple, to be honest.” Technology really had advanced quite a bit, for Arden swore that he saw Reg’s hologram swallow a nervous lump in his throat. “As I was searching through transmissions and communiques, I couldn’t help noticing some…activity, for lack of a better word…on the databases. It was as if someone had managed to infiltrate the slave archives. Pull a few names. Perhaps even follow along with my own searches.”

“That’s impossible,” snapped Arden. “The encryption keys should be strong enough to keep anyone not aligned with Plagueis out.”

There was a pause as the Bothan’s image flickered almost ominously. Then, in a tender voice: “I may have…left some holes in the encryptions, my lord. Left a firewall vulnerable, if that makes sense. In my bold attempts to collect and provide you information.”

The air was chilly as it was drawn into Arden’s nostrils, as if he were sucking down a storm before it burst from every pore in his body. Reg had been sloppy. He was a good mechanic, absolutely, and a reliable lackey. But this was a rookie mistake. If he had allowed anyone to scan through the multiple lists of slaves and servants that Plagueis harbored, then that meant that the Collective could have gained access, too. And while Arden had no idea what Fortea had been up to over the past few years, he didn’t trust him enough to have such delicate information, either.

“Now, I can’t say for sure if Fortea was the one who breached the encryption keys, my lord,” Reg stammered. “But it might explain his arrival. Whether he’s here to help or not, I can’t tell you. But I figured you should know.”

“As for my instructions? Did you at least collect the data I needed?”

“Yes, my lord.” The Bothan noticeably gulped again. “I went through the most recent records, and there seem to have been a handful of new slaves integrated into the system. But I’m not sure if they’re entirely accurate. Would there be any chance - at all - of people just blending in with the slave population without being notated or documented?”

“What, you mean we missed getting their names entered into the records?”

“Yes, sir.”

Arden’s brow furrowed. “I suppose it would be possible. Spies could potentially find a way in. But Medina security should be sealproof. Even with the quantities of slaves we have.”

“Well, I have a few names. Mostly of what you’d consider high value arrivals. If you’re interested. ”

“Of course I’m interested,” barked Arden. “Send them my way. Oh, and one more thing.”

“Yes, my lord?”

Arden smirked. “You better be grateful that I like you, Reg. Or else…”

“Or else I would’ve been tossed out a window by now?”

“Precisely.” Arden waved his hand. “Away with you, you hairy varmint.”

With that, he pressed a button on his comm panel, and the tiny hologram of Reg disappeared with a soft whistle. Within a minute or so, he was staring at handpicked names of slaves that were considered educated or highly valued. Many of them, in fact, worked within the Pinnacle, as scientists or medical personnel. That meant that they were not included within the standard Medina ranks. They weren’t conditioned like the other Subjugates, and consequently, they needed to be kept close and frequently monitored.

As he scrolled through the list, one name caused him to stop his skimming entirely. It was a name that seemed familiar to him, and all at once, his brain raced in its attempt to figure out why. Arin Arce glowed in white letters from the screen that was projected from Arden’s comm panel. A highly qualified research assistant, one who worked within the deepest and most security-heavy levels of the Pinnacle. Apparently, he had been delivered to Plagueis by the Trandoshans five to six months ago and had been diligently managing experiments in the labs since. And he had a brother.

I mean, he has to have a brother. At least one, anyway. The last name rings a bell for me. I just need to figure out why.

The Dread Lord stared intently at the name for some time, then stood up and turned to face the viewing portal of his office. Outside, the morning was turning slowly into afternoon, the sun of the Aliso system rising and casting the spaceport below the Pinnacle in a warm, comforting golden hue. It was, perhaps, too comforting. More than ever now, Arden Karn felt on edge.

Then he remembered: The image of a five point star emerged in his mind. He cursed under his breath.

Going back to his desk, Arden began to pore over the latest general arrivals to Aliso that Reg had sent him. Fortea was not his issue anymore. But a certain mercenary with a hot head, deft hands, and a distinct reputation was.

Hello again…Sevrin.


Interrogation Chamber
The Pinnacle - Level 101
36 ABY

Gaius Julius Caesar waited patiently in a stark white room. Its furniture was purposely minimal: A table, a chair, a stool. Not much, but enough. The simply bare necessities of life, all in one secluded space.

The older man was fine with this arrangement. He licked his lips slowly, ignoring the phantom pain that almost pulsed from his prosthetic left arm. The groomed gray hair on his head bristled as the door to the room slid open, revealing the Goliath herself - the Wrath - with a perplexed looking slave in tow.

At least, he had to be a slave. And yet, such reluctance! Such bewilderment! Not at all what one would expect from a properly conditioned drudge working for Plagueis. A Human male, too - more bright-eyed than he should have been. Ronovi sat the slave on the stool, but he seemed hesitant when it came to obeying her gestures. This, Julius thought, would be an absolute treat.

His only regret was that the slave was not a Twi’lek. He was quite a fan of lekku torture.

“This is the one?” he asked, his voice thin yet bold, his green eyes blazing. The scar on his right forearm itched as if he were an addict ready for a hit. He set down the metal briefcase that he had brought along with a soft thunk.

Ronovi nodded. “A gift from Mendes. Fellow was taking a tour around the city when she found him. He seemed to be on an adventure.”

“Lovely,” Julius whispered. “A nice little romp for the slave. You’ve heard from Drol?”

“Not yet. What’s going on?”

Julius waved his hand dismissively. “Just a minor update. It appears that some of the slaves kept within the Monastery have been showing a bit of interest in their surroundings, too. And as we know, a bit of interest is too much interest entirely.”

Ronovi nodded. She turned to look at the slave, whose eyes were averted to the floor. Her voice was cold as she spoke to him.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

The slave didn’t look up. The collar around his neck was tight, and the veins were bulging from his throat. “Because I’ve done something wrong?”

“Good guess.”

“What have I done wrong?”

“Stand up, please.”

“Why?”

Ronovi stiffened. Her organic eye became a frosty, dim amber. “Excuse me?”

“Why do I need to stand up?”

Julius sneered. He liked an opening act before the main show.

“Did I give you permission to ask a question, slave?” snarled the Wrath.

“No, but - ”

“Then you will stand up, and you will stand in the corner with your back against the wall, hands behind your head.”

This time, the slave stood up. But he did not move toward the wall as Ronovi had ordered. His eyes betrayed him - he was displaying both confusion and defiance. “Why are you doing this?”

“Do not speak unless you’re spoken to.”

“I want to know why.”

“Stop talking.” Ronovi’s jaw was clenched. She was growing very rigid.

“But - ”

Stop. Talking.”

“No!”

Now a silence hovered in the air of the already frigid space. The Imperial-inspired commander had to fight back a laugh. This would be delightful. He was already debating what he would do to this broken toy of a servant. Perhaps eye cauterization, to start. Or maybe he would take his time, remove eyelids before searing the corneas beneath. He had come with some supplies, of course, and they could be fun if used wisely.

Julius kept his gaze on Ronovi, whose face was deceptively stoic. Still, he could sense the fury throbbing from her even without being a Force-sensitive. The Epicanthix let the obstinate word that the slave had uttered descend from her lips, a word tinged with both shock and utter ire.

“‘No?’ Is that what you just said to me, you sub-human filth? Did you just say, ‘no,’ to my orders?”

The slave’s eyes were wide. “I don’t want to do anything until you tell me why.”

That did it for the Wrath. Her boots scraping the pearlescent floor, Ronovi strode briskly toward Julius and looked down upon his cheerful face.

“This slave is dysfunctional,” she declared. “Reshape him, or dismantle him entirely. I’ll bring as many of them in as possible if it keeps up.”

Julius was still grinning. “Not going to stick around?” he asked. “Perhaps this isn’t your cup of caf.”

“I need to communicate this to Varick and Mendes. Rhode and Morte Tarentae will also be filled in. Everyone in the clan is now ordered to surveil the slave population, and do what they must to quell this irritating disturbance. No escalation. Karn won’t tolerate it.”

Resisting the urge to dramatically bow, the man only nodded. “As you wish, my lord.”

Ronovi seemed pleased with this reply, and with that, she left the interrogation room, letting the door slide closed behind her with a satisfying hiss. After that, Julius heard the familiar clicking sound of a lock shifting into place. He then rested his gaze on his victim.

No…his guest. That was a word he enjoyed using ironically.

“Well, then!” he announced, remembering the suitcase he had brought in. “Shall we get acquainted?”


Aliso City
Southern Outskirts
36 ABY

Kel Zar tucked her commlink into her ear and waited patiently for the transmission to begin. She sat among squat houses and complexes along the edge of the city, eyeing each stretch of pavement and rustle of sentient activity within the neighborhood pocket she observed. This place and its citizenry certainly felt new - at least, in a historical sense. It did not exude a past, but instead a stark, sure present. Of course, the Zabrak smirked at the idea of its future.

Poor things, she mused. So tolerant of monstrosities.

She held that thought as the voice of her superior crackled in her ear. The Nautolan was always timely when it came to calls. “Kel.”

“Ghafa.” Kel smiled. “You sound well.”

Ghafa Ordam sighed. The front-facing leader of Capital Enterprises was not one to make small talk. “Give me your update.”

“It seems we’re done with the most extreme reactions for now,” Kel informed her. “The attack on Plagueis’s construction yards was the result of their slaves’ conditioning eroding too quickly and too abruptly. It led to a rather violent outburst. Arce has been instructed to remold the slaves’ psychology more gradually.”

“Why? What’s holding us back from complete liberation and dealing some serious damage?”

The Zabrak operative took a deep breath. She knew how personally Ghafa took slavery, given that the Nautolan was a former slave herself. But the massive chip on her shoulder would have to just sit for now.

“Ghafa, the attack caught the Dark Jedi’s attention easily. Meaning they’re aware of the problem now. If we upset the conditioning incrementally, it becomes more difficult to detect. And consequently, the ability to organize and mobilize in the Medina is more feasible.”

“This Arce guy…you sure he’s got the skill?” asked Ghafa. “You think the devices he’s building from scraps really work?”

“He reported yesterday that he’s seen progress from the sonar waves. Hasn’t contacted me yet today, though,” Kel explained.

“Well, you keep him on his toes. He’s most likely impatient about finding his brother. I don’t trust a man with a personal motive.”

Kel briefly debated bringing up her boss’s own personal motives in this case, but she appropriately held her tongue. “I’ll keep you posted, Ordam. You’ll see results soon enough.”

“Good,” intoned Ghafa in a low, cruel voice. “I want to see some serious disorder.”


More slaves have continued to show a breaking down of their conditioning, and they have begun to question their surroundings and show signs of independent thought. While there is no notable threat of further attacks or retaliation, the Dread Lord has placed the clan on high alert and ordered all members to intercept any slaves who may be a disturbance or threat. Preventing another incident such as the one at D&D is crucial to the well-being of both Aliso City and Plagueis.

Your objectives remain the same as before:

  • Participate in the interrogation process of any deviant slaves who have been caught in the act of rebellion or rebellious tendencies
  • Work directly with the clan and house summits to find the reason behind said deviancy - i.e. the breaking of their conditioning
  • Patrol already affected areas of Aliso City and report back what you find
  • Continue to observe the slave population inside your house’s headquarters or in and around the Pinnacle, reporting any signs of disobedience and potentially bringing them to the Pinnacle for “questioning”
  • Continue to explore and surveil specific locations of Aliso City where slaves may be working
  • Continue to ignore the Dread Lord’s orders and simply go about your business for the day

Again, there is to be no unnecessary killing of slaves - doing so is equivalent to destroying economic resources, which is unacceptable to the Dread Lord. Don’t add to the window repair budget.