Plagueis RO - The Song of Discord

(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.

(Scudi Ferria) #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.”

(Muse Nashesir) #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.”

(Scudi Ferria) #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.

(Wrathus) #19

Streets
Aliso City
36 ABY

Wrathus sat in the passenger seat of his V-35 Courier. Adjusting the straps on his gauntlets he glanced over at the helm sitting on the seat next to him. It had taken months, but his new suit of armor was worth it. This was the armor of a true Sith, protective but intimidating. Everything about the suit was designed to terrify others. He could feel the speeder slowing, they had arrived at the drinking hole where he had discovered that Tren Coltar spent his free time. He clipped the Voice Modulator around his throat as the speeder powered down. The passenger hatch swung up and open to reveal his large black droid Gordon. The droid warbled a welcome, which equated to ‘We have arrived sir.’

Wrathus pulled his helm onto his head with smile. A click and hiss filled the cabin as the helmet sealed.

“Perfect. Let’s get a drink. Hehehe.” The words came out in a low, deep, rasp. It sounded like something out of a nightmare.


The Nimbus Room
Aliso City

The music pounded in Tren Coltar’s ears. He was thankful for it. It meant that, for a rare time, he felt that his mind was protected. He was a good information gatherer, a half-decent assassin, and not a terrible shot. What he wasn’t, was Force Sensitive. It was one of many reasons he hadn’t risen above Rank V within the Inquisitorious. All the skill in the world couldn’t compare to the power of the Force. The Force also offered its users access to knowledge blocked to others, even if the information was locked inside one’s mind.

He was sitting at a small round table in the back corner of the club. His choice of seat had reasons, it protected his back and sides while giving him a view of the entrance. He was staring into the glass of cheap whiskey he was sipping on when he felt the sharp burst of cold air as the door opened. Glancing up he saw two tall individuals walk in. As soon as the light hit them Coltar could see that the first was a pitch black IG-100 MagnaGuard. Those things didn’t come cheap, so Coltar knew that the other individual must have a decent amount of wealth. That was enough to catch his attention, but then he noticed the backlit figure behind the droid. IG-100’s were well over six feet tall, and the being behind it was even taller.

“Ey! No droids!” The bartender called out. “Get that thin-!” He was about to say something else when his voice was cut off with a choke. The man began to rise in the air and everyone else fell silent. The IG-100 stalked over to jukebox and turned it off.

The shadowed individual stepped into the light and Coltar felt his heart drop. That armor, and the left hand outstretched towards the barkeep, it could mean only one thing. It was a Sith, and the emblem embroidered on his cloak marked him as a member of Plagueis. His voice filled the now silent club. Even the most hardened killer would have felt his blood cool.

“Tren Coltar! Make yourself known to me! Or I will work my way through this club one by one until I find you!” Wrathus’s voice was loud, deep and terrifying. It was not human, nay, it wasn’t even natural. He punctuated the statement with a loud burst of vapor from either side of the mouth piece of his helmet. The rest of the patrons began looking around and a murmur spread through the group.

“You have five seconds to reveal yourself! Or this is the fate that awaits everyone here!” With one motion he drew his weapon, ignited the blades, and brutally cut a man in half to his right. The action caused everyone to drop to the group screaming. Tren felt the urge to drop with them and hope that he survived. But just before the Sith killed that man, Coltar caught a look at the cloak on the droid. The emblem emblazoned on its shoulder put any hope he had to death. A silver serpent clenched in a black gauntlet, the personal emblem of Wrathus, the Sith Warmonger. The man’s reputation was bloody, and proceeded him for miles. That alone was enough for Tren to remain standing. He was a coward and never liked taking risks, but something about letting all those people die just for him to die as well, seemed wrong.

“Oi Sith! I’m Tren Coltar! What do you want with me?”

Wrathus released the invisible grip he hand on the barkeep. Letting the man fall to the floor with a thump. Coughing, the man curled into a ball and hid. Deactivating his saber, Wrathus strode directly over to Coltar and roughly took him by the throat.

“You weeping piece of filth!” Wrathus slammed the man into the wall behind him. “You couldn’t keep your kriffing mouth shut! You blew the cover of every operative on Aliso!” He slammed him into the wall again. “I’m here to plug this gaping hole in the Inquisitorious!” As he spoke the droid walked over and grabbed the man’s wrists. Yanking them up over his head Wrathus released his hold on Coltar’s throat.

Everything in Coltar’s mind wanted him to beg for his life. Offer everything he had to the Sith. But he knew that he had nothing to offer a man like the Warmonger. So he did the only other thing he could think of. He lashed out with his legs trying to kick his way free. But it was in vain as Wrathus caught one of the flailing legs and with a savage downward strike, snapped the man’s femur with a sickening crack. Coltar screamed in agony, the sound was enough to get the crowd on their feet and fleeing out the door. Coltar looked down through tears as Wrathus removed his horrifying helm, revealing a face that was almost as fear inducing. The Sith then removed his gauntlets and with a pop opened his left forearm. He drew out a slender dagger with a red blade.

“I’m going to exact the payment for your mistake, one slice at a time.” He then violently tore the man’s shirt from his chest. Wrathus approached the man and slowly and delicately sliced a scrap of skin from the man’s chest. Coltar screamed once again in agony. And then Wrathus sliced another piece off, and another, and another, and Coltar kept screaming.


Hours Later

The first rays of Aliso I’s light were just peeking over the horizon when Wrathus and Gordon exited the Nimbus Room. The sun’s light illuminated the gruesome sight inside. Tren Coltar hung from the back wall by two shards of metal through his wrists. But that was only the beginning. Coltar’s torso had been flayed of all skin on the front, and based on the way his head was hanging, the man was dead. Emblazoned in red on the wall behind him was the Inquisitorious’s emblem, anyone looking could tell that it was painted in blood. Two guesses whose blood it was.

Wrathus climbed into his speeder and ordered Gordon to take him to the Medina. With a warble and a whir, the speeder sped off, leaving the bloody scene behind.

(Gaius Julius Caesar) #20

Interrogation Chamber
The Pinnacle - Level 101
36 ABY

“It is very important not to drown out their screams completely. You need to know the difference between levels of pain and anguish.”

Gaius had drawn a small audience of officers of The Willing and a few Dark Jedi in the chamber. They had heard rumors and stories about the old man and his unique ways of corrections and obtaining answers. None had hoped to steal his thunder; they were there merely to be amused. They watched keenly as the Commander started to peel the skin off of his subject’s left arm.

“Do you want to die?” whispered the old man.

“Yes!” The disobedient slave was barely able to muster enough oxygen into his lungs to let out a small shriek.

“Wrong,” Gaius smiled. “You aren’t allowed to want anything. You aren’t allowed to want, know, or think anything.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled a small vial, filled to the top with a thick, blue liquid. “Three drops of this will kill you,” he grinned as he pulled out the stopper and tipped it upside down on the human’s skinless arm, and shook it once. “One.”

Just as the man began to breathe in air to scream, Gaius drove a stiletto knife deep into his chest, directly puncturing his lung. A slight gurgle was the only sound that filled the room before the Commander began to chuckle.

Caesar addressed his audience once more. “Not all pain is expressed vocally. Do you see his hand? Do you see how each of the bones in his fingers are broken? He did that to himself.” The three or four remaining spectators laughed lightly amongst themselves.

“What do you want?” Gaius whispered to his subject once more.

“Nothi - ” was all that could be let out before Gaius twisted the knife sticking out of the man’s bloody chest.

“What do you want?” Gaius spoke louder, more forcefully.

“Noth - ”

He was unable to complete the second syllable before Gaius shook his vial; once more. Caesar felt the man’s violent reaction to the poison that was making its way into the bloodstream. His temperature was rising rapidly, it was his body’s last ditch effort to stave off the threat. The floor beneath him was puddled with blood and various other secretions. The stench could likely be smelled by those two levels above. The walls that were once white, were now artistically painted with splatter patterns. This was only the first torture of the day.

“What do you wan - ”

“NOTHING!” yelled the man desperate to live.

“What do you know?” The old man quickly continued.

“NOTHING!”

Caesar looked up at the remaining member of his audience, and motioned for his help. The young Cadet rushed to his side, overly eager to help.

“Get him to the med bay,” Caesar ordered his junior officer. Together, the two Plaguieans removed the bloodied restraints. They both reached for the knife sticking out of the man’s chest simultaneously, only for the old man to defer the excitement to his partner.

With the slave now on his feet, and his entire weight resting on the Cadet, Caesar began to ask his final question. “What do you think, Cadet?”

The younger man looked up, confused. “What?”

“I asked, what do you think, Cadet?”

“Sir?” the Captain paused and looked back over his shoulder.

“I think you’re trying to escape with my prisoner.” Gaius smiled as he drew his sidearm to shoulder height. The modified trigger on his beloved BR-5010 allowed Gaius to squeeze twice in rapid succession, spouting out two well aimed slugs through both men’s brains and into the wall on the other side.

Caesar reached back into his jacket pocket for his comm-link. “Both slaves have been corrected, my Lord.”

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(Ronovi Tavisaen) #21

The Pinnacle, Exterior
Aliso City
36 ABY

Sevrin was cuffed, chained, and shamed by this point. He dragged his feet as he walked, eyes averted, the heat collected in both his cheeks and his forehead. In front of him, R3 trilled and chirped as if singing a happy song of death and destruction to itself. The perpetual autumn air nipped at the man’s nose, his blue jacket still not layered enough to brave the chill entirely. He was embarrassed by his appearance, but if this went according to plan, it would - hopefully - be worth it.

Dralin Fortea led Sevrin gently by the arm as they traveled the less explored streets of Aliso City. Once around the military barracks of Plagueis, there were few regular citizenry or passersby: just countless swarms of Wraiths and the Willing, uniformed and helmeted, patrolling and not slowing much in their pace. His fellow slaves poured in and out of the few entrances to the Medina like sluggish insects, but Sevrin was distracted by the sight of the enormous tower ahead: The headquarters of the Ascendant Clan.

What he knew was that the Dread Lord was inside. What he didn’t know was that his brother was, too. Arin Arce had a rather cozy job compared to his slave counterparts; his background in research and scientific analysis made him suitable in a lab coat, and he would be working deep within the lower, restricted levels of the Pinnacle. That was not, however, where Dralin was taking his brother.

As the doors to the Pinnacle slid open, Dralin was greeted immediately by two armored Wraiths holding blaster rifles. As R3 screeched in defiance, Sevrin could hear the warped voices emerging from the helmets.

“State your purpose.”

Dralin didn’t blink, nor did he need to with his cybernetics. “My name is Dralin Fortea, and I come to seek asylum again with Clan Plagueis.”

“Your identity is acknowledged. What else do you want?”

“I believe if you check the records, you will see that I have arranged for a private meeting on Level 195.”

Sevrin wasn’t sure what that meant, but the Wraiths seemed to. They turned away and could be heard mumbling to one another, even if the words couldn’t be made out. One of them ultimately walked away, as if to check with the people inside. Dralin was patient. His grip was casual, yet still firm, on the crook of Sevrin’s arm. The Wraith returned and growled.

“Access granted. Is the slave necessary?”

Dralin let air whistle through his nostrils. “The meeting is useless without the slave. I suggest you let me escort him up.”

The Wraith nodded, and the two guards let the Dark Jedi and his “cargo” pass. As they approached the turbolift, Sevrin could only imagine what was to happen next, and whether or not he’d live to see his brother’s face again.

(TuQ'uan Varick) #22

Outside The Medina
Aliso City
Aliso
36 ABY

TuQ’uan adjusted his ill fitting blue overalls one last time, straightened his fake slave collar, and stepped out of a dark alleyway and towards the entrance of the Medina with Babyface still in tow. After leaving the remains of the bomb to be examined by the scientific minds at the Pinnacle, the Kel Dor thought he would be best put to use by searching for a cause to the slave problem.

“Stick close to me and keep your eyes open for anything suspicious,” TuQ’uan whispered under his breath to his Subjugate partner.

Babyface have a subtle nod in affirmation and averted his gaze from those around them. Hundreds of slaves were shuffling home towards the Medina, many of which kept their eyes on the ground in front of them as the Wraith guards herded them like cattle into the labyrinth of tunnels below ground. As they made their way past the guards, TuQ’uan was struck by a claustrophobic feeling inside the cramped hallways despite their immensity.

This was his first time stepping into the slave home, and he was going to have to rely on Babyface as a guide. First things first - the mercenary wanted to see some of the more densely populated areas, such as where the rations were served. As the two wove their way through the over populated corridors, TuQ’uan watched carefully, looking for any sign of cognition or dissidence from those around him. So far, nothing struck him as out of place.

After what seemed like forever, the two would-be spies emerged into a ration distribution area; in actuality, it was a three way intersection of corridors with what looked like a vendor stall built into one of the walls. Behind the stone counter stood a pair of Wraiths handing out rations to a never ending line of slaves. TuQ’uan would have considered these tiny rations as more of a snack then a meal, but he had the luxury of living in the monastery. As the continued to push their way through the people, the amount of filth built up in the Medina astounded the Kel Dor; everywhere he looked, someone or something was absolutely caked in dirt. He was definitely looking forward to scrubbing the stink of this place off of himself when all of this was done.

“We’re done here. Take me to some living quarters next,” TuQ’uan spoke softly enough for just Babyface’s ears, a touch of disgust and frustration weeping into his voice. He really didn’t want to be down here any longer than necessary.

The change in the atmosphere was subtle at first, so much so that the pair weren’t quite sure when it began, but as they got deep into the slave quarters TuQ’uan noticed it. The eyes of the slaves no longer seemed glassy but alert; the droning sound of mumbling slaves had turned to hushed whispers; and what seemed like the entire population of this area was watching the mercenary with far more interest than their conditioning should allow.

“This is it,” TuQ whispered. “Keep your eyes open and act natural.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Shhh, I was talking to myself.” The Kel Dor was uncomfortable; he felt like everyone was watching him.

The tunnel opened into another intersection of corridors. Every direction TuQ’uan looked, it felt like suspicious eyes were gazing back at him. This is worse than I thought. We need to get back to the Pinnacle right away.

“Time to go - ” Something caught the mercenary’s attention. It was small and innocuous, but there was a small home made looking device affixed to the wall nearest the Kel Dor. It didn’t look out of place, except for the fact that it had far less grime coating it than everything else down here.

Well now. That is interesting, TuQ’uan thought to himself, as he reached out to grab the device.

(Wrathus) #23

Dread Lord’s Wrath’s Private Quarters
The Pinnacle - Level 194
36 ABY

Ronovi was wrenched from her nap post-interrogation by the buzzing of her quarters door-comm. With a grumble, she swung her legs over the edge of her divan and stood up. Ignoring the cool metal under her bare feet, she trudged over to the door and punched the controls. The door slid open with a hiss to reveal a young female military aide.

No more than sixteen, she stood awkwardly and nervously clutched the bundle of datapads in her arms. A mop of auburn hair hung loosely over big brown eyes. One look and Ronovi could tell this girl was terrified. This did little however to dull the irritation the Wrath felt at being awoken from her Whyren’s induced nap.

“What?” Ronovi asked with an annoyed tone.

“Oh! Uh. Madam Proconsul, I have several urgent messages. All pertaining to what appears to be a single individual going on a rampage. Killings, maimings, and other horrible atrocities. Committed all over the city. We have found a connection and we have identified who the perpetrator is. It’s all here in the reports.” The girl held out the bundle of datapads in her arms with her head bowed.

Ronovi would have just dismissed her without a second thought. But then she saw the height of the stack: a half dozen or more datapads. This meant that with the office report on top, there was at least six different incident reports. With a sigh, the Epicanthix took the bundle and dismissed the girl, who quickly scurried away to somewhere she felt more at home.

Closing the door, Ronovi strode over to the refresher in her quarters. Leaving the datapads on the table as she passed. Pouring herself a fresh drink of Whyren’s - always a good thirst quencher after dozing off in the afternoon - she sat down at the table to look over this new crisis. Putting the office report aside for the minute she grabbed the first incident report.

“Rhel Brower. Age 26. Human. Found beaten severely with an eye gouged out. Working as a freighter. Believed to be an informant for someone.’ She set the report down and picked up the next on the stack.

“Essia Fess. Age 31. Devaronian. Found lying in a gutter with both arms torn off. Mercenary for hire. History with the Hutts. Known to have connections within the Inquisitorious.

“Kai Sol. Age 19. Mirialan. Throat torn open and missing a hand. Suspected smuggler. May be connected to the Collective.

Ronovi was moving quickly now. “Arian Corra. Age 57. Human. Found dead in an alley. Believed to have fallen from the roof. Cause of death; broken neck. Suspected underworld informant.

“Eryk Dravvad. Age 44. Weequay. Found with fingers cut off and shoved into his own eyes and mouth. Convicted pirate. Wanted for smuggling in connection to the Collective.’

“Tash. Age Unknown. Trandoshan. Found hanging unconscious from a roof by the ankles. Known to take money for violence.”

“Heh. Damn Trandoshans,” Ronovi chuckled.

As she put down the datapad, she contemplated who could be behind these attacks. And then she picked up the last datapad and she got her answer. All it took was her reading the name of the victim.

“Tren Coltar. Age 29. Human. Found crucified and skinned inside the Nimbus Room. Inquisitor Rank V.” She set the pad down and knew exactly who it was.

And Ronovi laughed. She bent over and laughed - guttural, gut-busting guffaws. Then she straightened up, wiping her one organic eye.

“Oh, Wrathus,” she groaned with a grin. “I did give you permission, didn’t I?” She should have known better - or perhaps she already did. She knew that if she delivered this news to Marick, his response would be, “It’s Wrathus. Did you expect anything else?” In the end, Wrathus had been given specific assignments, and he had taken one of them over the brink. This truly was an impressive crusade of carnage.

She finally picked up the office’s report. Looking it over she was surprised what she found. Upon further investigation, the office had been able to determine that every victim was in some way connected to either the Inquisitorious…or, surprisingly, the Collective.

“He’s cleaning house. Rather than let them be exposed by Coltar’s mistake, he’s eliminating them himself. But how does he know who’s connected to the Collective? There’s something he hasn’t told us.”

The Wrath scratched her chin before downing the rest of her drink and grabbing her comm.

“Operator, find me Wrathus.”

She didn’t even wait for a response before dressing quickly and heading for the speeder dock.

(Tahiri Thorn Morte Tarentae ) #24

Aliso
Korada Monastery
36 ABY

Tahiri, Kul, and Reeka, along with their companions, made it back to the Monastery in relative silence, other than the occasional question from Reeka. Most of the questions were aimed straight at Tahiri, even though Kul tried desperately once to silence the child. Tahiri laughed and told him not to worry, she was perfectly fine with the questions, winking to reassure him.

Tahiri even stopped and knelt down, so as to let Reeka touch her Lekku and Montrals, answering what questions she could before the curious girl asked about Solan, and then Tahiri’s relation to Kul again. Tahiri looked back in amusement to Kul, only to find his face buried in the palm of his hand and one eye peeking between fingers. Tahiri shook her head, amused to see Kul in such a way, standing up as Reeka ran after their creature companions, as they played.

The Togruta watched the young girl run around, wondering where Kul had found such spirited girl. The Togruta also had to laugh cause Solan looked just like a pup bounding and playing with Reeka, even though every time she tried to climb onto his back, he would simply shake himself and then nudge her. Tahiri thought she had prepared herself for almost anything after what happened to Tarentum, but the universe still kept surprises in store for her.

Tahiri could see the pride in Kul’s eyes when Reeka joined them, but now she could feel his anxiety. Before she had joined him to get Reeka, Tahiri had caught up on all of the news since she had been gone on her mission.

The bombing, slave’s uprising and conditioning breaking down, a lot has happened while I was gone. No wonder Kul wanted to get Reeka out of the slave quarters, though he could have done it before I got back. He must have really wanted me to be there when she came out. She thought as they walked.

As the Togruta and Zabrak entered the monasteries immense doors, Tahiri spoke to Kul in a low tone, so that Reeka would not hear them.

“A credit for your thoughts, my warrior?”

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry Tahiri, my thoughts are elsewhere at the moment.” The Zabrak started at her question, looking to make sure he hadn’t alerted Reeka. The girl would have been immediately asking him what was wrong, and personally he didn’t want to involve Reeka at that moment.

“I can see, and sense, that was the case Kul,” Tahiri smirked, before the worry spread across her face. “Before I met up with you, I caught up on everything that has happened. I should have been here to help with things here, instead of…”

“No,” Kul interrupted her with a firm tone. “Your mission was important, and we’ve bigger things happening here, than this small slave uprising. Believe me, the clan can handle something like this.”

His words were comforting, but she still had this bad deep down inkling, that there was more to this. No where in Plagueis’ records was there this kind of an event, especially the specific way in the conditioning of the “indentured servants” (as they were called in the records) was being breached. Someone on the inside, or someone on outside manipulating this person, was behind this.

“Well, I suppose all we can do, is to follow the Dread Lord’s orders. Observe, report and help where we can.” Tahiri said solemnly. Her eyes glinted slightly as a thought occurred to her. “It’ll be a sort of hunt in a way. A hunt for the person or persons behind this.”

“Yes, and we start right hunting in the monastery,” replied Kul, the corner of his mouth slanting upwards in the hint of smile.

A few days later…
Within the Monastery

Tahiri sat at the desk in her office, staring at the two stacks data pads on the opposite ends of the wood surface. One stack slowly went down, as the other grew, showing the slow steady progress she was making in getting through them. Azmodius had helped her with the finer details, and given her several pointers and tips on how things were done around the Monastery. Even with her somewhat short time as Aedile of House Mortis in Tarentum, it seemed forever since she had to do this much paperwork.

And yet, it feels like home. I kinda missed having to go through the day to day reports. It feels surreal in way, being in a house position again. I’m surprised to get another position so soon after becoming a part of this clan. They truly have accepted me, or just want to keep closer tabs on me. Meh, either way, Tahiri, you’re back in the spotlight of leadership.
I am glad that TuQ and I get along as well as we do too. He may be a Mercenary, but seeing him in action, he is very well suited for Quaestor. Surprised he didn’t get the position sooner.

A huff at her side and the warmth of fur rubbing against the Togruta’s arm, woke her from the thought bubble. Shaking her head, Tahiri looked back down at the datapad in her hands, her eyes watering at the sight of the words spralded. Blinking a few times, Tahiri set the pad down and gently rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands, then preceded to massage her temples. The yawn was what surprised her the most, as she sat back in the rather chair, it almost seemed to engulf her body.

I need to make a note to remind myself later, about getting a different office chair. This one is far too big, and only makes me feel tinier.

Sighing, Tahiri looked down at the huge snoozing lump of orange fur, that was her pet and loyal companion Akul, Solan. Reaching over the arm of the chair, which was level with the hump of Akul’s back, the Battlemaster ruffled and then smoothed the fur out, as she petted him. The Akul head came up slightly turning just enough to look at her with big bright eyes, then preceded to lick her leg.

“Well Solan, I think it’s about time we take a quick break and stretch our legs. Hmm, what do you say bud?” Tahiri asked her pet, as she pushed off the from the table to allow herself room to stand up. As the crimson skinned Togruta stood, her joints and back popped and groaned, her whole body telling her, that she stayed in one position for far too long. A huge snarl yawn came from Solan as he too stood up. Tahiri could hear small pops and snaps, as the large predator got up.

“Oof, I guess we both really needed to get up, huh Solan?” She asked again, while she stretched out her limbs, before venturing from behind her desk. “Let’s go get a snack, hmm. Maybe you can find Kul and spend some time with Shor’kir and Shar’kala.”

Solan huffed his approval and immediately padded over to the door, looking excitedly back at Tahiri as if saying, “Well? What are you waiting for?” Tahiri chuckled and grabbed her cloak from the rack as she punched the keypad to open the door. She allowed Solan to exit first, since she was still a bit stiff.

A few minutes later she found herself outside in the main courtyard of the Monastery. Looking around she spotted a familiar tall Zabrak and small Human girl, as they were headed toward the outdoor training yard. Smirking, she decided to quietly follow them, giving a gentle nudge with her mind to Solan to stay back with her instead of running to greet the pair. However, as she and Solan began to follow them, two Massiffs stalked around the corner meeting Kul and Reeka head on. The creatures instantly spotted them, rushing past their master to greet their huge playmate and then greeted Tahiri.

Kul’tak Drol had turned around, a rather confused look on his face, until he saw the reason for his pets running off. Shaking his head and smiling, he walked over to Tahiri. Following close behind was Reeka, who skipped right up to Tahiri, and with a small jump, hugged the Togruta’s waist.

“Hi Hiri!” Reeka’s huge grin and bright eyes, reminded Tahiri of her brother’s when they were little. Reeka seemed to have somehow discovered, whether naturally or just the girl being silly, the annoying nickname her brother’s had given Tahiri. Although for some reason Tahiri was not as annoyed by it, as she had been with her brothers.

“Hello Reeka, hi Kul. What are you two up to today?” Tahiri returned Reeka’s hug, smiling back at the child. Then turned her attention to Kul, while Reeka went to hug Solan.

“Hello Aedile Tarentae. We were going to go do a bit of training. I hope you’re doing well.” Kul replied, a serious tone to his voice and face. Tahiri’s smile faded slightly, then grew bigger as her right eyebrow rose.

“You know, you only have to call me that in more formal settings, right? Oh and when I’m with the summit.” Tahiri slid up closer to Kul, so that she looking straight up into his eyes. Her bright sulfuric eyes sparkled with mischief.

Kul’s face stayed hard for another moment, before finally, a smile broke the surface. Chuckling, he carefully slid a hand around to the small of her back and pulled her closer.

“Of course I know that. I’m proud of you.” His eyes stared into her. “And see, I told you the clan would accept you sooner or later. The summit especially seems to have accepted and seen your accomplishments, so nothing to worry about, right?”

“Yes I know, you told me so. I just didn’t expect to be in a leadership position so soon again. Though I didn’t miss all the paperwork that comes with it.” Tahiri replied laughing.

All of a sudden, a ruckus and screaming from across the yard caused both to turn their heads. The sight they saw was unsettling, and was about to get dangerous. A young Sith apprentice lay on the ground, blood was slowly spreading on the ground beneath her from the wound on her abdomen. A slave stood nearby, in his left hand, he was waving a vibro knife at anybody who came near him. In his other arm was a dazed Reeka.

At the sight of Reeka like that Tahiri’s anger rose. Her bloodlust triggering, as she reached for her saber. Something stopped her though, Tahiri felt another dark presence. Looking up she saw the redness creepy into Kul’s graze, as she felt his anger rising as well at the sight of his daughter in peril. Seeing him like that, calmed her bloodlust, and she knew that what she had to do. So before Kul could leap into action, Tahiri raced forward, which surprised him enough to hesitate, and put herself in between the wounded apprentice and the slave, grabbing the man’s attention.

“Hey, what is going on here? Put the knife down slave, right now, before you hurt yourself or someone else!” Tahiri’s tone was a commanding one. She mentioned for the Wraith’s and everyone else to stand back, while locking eyes with Kul over the slave’s left shoulder. At least I got the slave’s attention, now to get Reeka out of his arms.

“Leave me alone you fracking Force-users!” The man screamed at Tahiri, waving the vibro blade at her.

“Listen to me, you need to put the knife down before you hurt someone else,ok? Why don’t you let the girl go, hmm?” Tahiri asked gently, trying to coax the man into a suitable position.

Reeka blinked her eyes as the haze began to clear from her eyes. Taking in the scene around her, Reeka looked up at the man holding her, a slight bit a fear began to rise from the pit in her stomach. Then she heard Tahiri talking, looking at the Togruta in shock. Tahiri locked eyes with Reeka for a moment, before giving her a subtle signal to relax.

“No! You’re just going to make her into a slave too, don’t think I don’t know what your plan is, and I would rather kill her and die myself, before being your slave again!!”

Kul snuck up behind the man as he was slowly backing away from Tahiri. Tahiri took another step forward, causing the slave to back right into Kul. The man looked over his shoulder just in time to see a crimson hand reach forward, and with an iron-like grip, grab his left wrist. Twisting the slave’s wrist and arm to point where a sickening snap could be heard, Kul caused the slave to simultaneously yelp, dropping both the knife and Reeka.

Tahiri rushed forward and grabbed Reeka, swiftly stepping back. The slightly confused child clung to her waist, as Tahiri saw that a medic team had arrived to take care of the fallen apprentice. She quickly whispered to Reeka, “If you can walk okay, go over and have one of the medics check you out, ok?”
The brown haired girl looked up and nodded confirmation, she carefully walked over to the where the medics were.

Turning her attention back to Kul and the slave, Tahiri closed the gap between them, and picked up the vibro knife the slave dropped. Kul now had the slave by his throat, and off the ground, while the man fought frantically with the only functioning hand he had left. The other hand hung limply by the broken wrist at his side.

“Kul, you can let him go now.” Tahiri said calmly, as she placed a hand on the Zabraks arm. Startled, Kul stopped squeezing and looked down at her. “Reeka’s safe, and we need him alive to get some answers.”

Looking back at the man and than to Tahiri again, he released the slave, letting the man drop unceremoniously to the ground. The slave lay on the ground, gasped and sputtered for breath, while gingerly holding his broken wrist.

“You…cough broke me fracking arm, you…” He was stopped short, by a growl from the Togrutan woman standing over him.

“You’re lucky he only broke a few bones, then your entire body. Believe me, you’ll wish for death before that happens.” Tahiri spat back at the man, her eyes darkening slightly. She motioned for two Wraith’s that were waiting nearby to cuff the slave. As they lifted the slave to take him away, Tahiri quickly commanded another Wraith to ready a transport for her and the slave, and to inform the Pinnacle’s docks that she was coming. Turning back to Kul, Tahiri settled down a bit, “Go, make sure Reeka is ok. I need to take care of this, and inform TuQ’uan about the situation. Would you watch Solan for me, until I get back? Hopefully I won’t be too long.” The slave struggled a bit as he was taken towards the transport docks.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Solan. Will you keep me posted on things?” Kul had also settled down, though his body was still very tense. He touch her hand that still was on his arm, giving it a light squeeze.

“Yes, I’ll try to keep you as informed on things as much as I can.” Tahiri began to walk away, her hand sliding down his outstretched arm. The tips of her fingers lingered on his for moment, before heading off to address this disturbance and make a full report to the Wrath and Dread Lord.

(Arden Karn di Plagia ) #25

Dread Lord’s Private Office
The Pinnacle, Level 195

Arden couldn’t help but get a small smirk on his face as Sevrin Arce was led into his office in chains. Otherwise, the Dread Lord didn’t react to his guest’s arrival, even resisting the urge to say something trite to his escort, Dralin Fortea. Fortea had caused him problems with his mettling, problems he’d have to answer for later. Now wasn’t the time for that, though; there were other things to worry about. As Fortea placed Sevrin in one of the seats across from the Dread Lord, Arden looked to the other Plagueian and addressed him with a firm tone.

“Fortea, leave. I can handle this alone.”

Dralin looked like he was about to protest, but a stern glare from the Dread Lord squelched it before it could escape his lips. Without saying a word, Dralin promptly left the office. Even after he did, Arden didn’t say anything. He simply stared at Sevrin coldly, and Sevrin stared back at him just the same. The two had a lot to say to each other, but neither actually wanted to break the silence. They just glared at each other, letting the tension build in the room. Eventually, it was Sevrin that broke the silence.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, Karn?”

Arden couldn’t resist at this point and let his face curl into a wicked smile.

“After all the messes you left me on Bonadan that your patrons wouldn’t let me arrest you for? I am absolutely enjoying this.”

The environment in the room seemed to loosen somewhat, as Sevrin readjusted himself in his chair. He shrugged slightly.

“You’re not still sore about Cravish Tynt, are you? You probably wanted him as dead as my patrons did.”

“True,” Arden replied. “But I wanted to kill him. That’s a past life, though. I have a new one that you’ve done a pretty good job at mucking up.”

Sevrin shrugged again. “I do what needs to be done, I know you know that. Somehow, I don’t think you would have arranged a meeting if you hadn’t figured out what brought me here in the first place.”

Arden nodded. “You’re right - I have. I have someone you want, and you seem to be willing to put yourself in league with some pretty dangerous people in order to get him.”

Sevrin sneered. “It’s family. I’ll do what it takes. And don’t talk to me about putting in with some dangerous people. I’ve read about your…‘clan,’ you say? Not the type of people your father would want to see you with.”

Arden wasn’t phased. “My father sells to anyone and everyone, and it’s none of his business whom I’m working with or for. He knows what he needs to about how to reach me, same with my siblings. But for now, it’s in my best interest to stay out here. My father wouldn’t understand what I am.”

Sevrin shook his head. “I think he understands more than he lets on. Your mother too. But I don’t think we’re here to talk about your family.”

“You’re right, Sevrin.” Arden shook his head as he answered. “You’re here to talk about yours. Before you ask, your brother is somewhere safe for the moment. But I don’t think I need to tell you the situation is getting more and more dangerous.You said it yourself - my people are dangerous.”

“Indeed.” Sevrin nodded. “From what my sources tell me, I’m a bit surprised they haven’t sliced a riot in half in the literal sense.”

“You mean the Collective?” Arden shook his head dismissively. “They exaggerate for their own ends. I know your style, Sevrin: Quick, clean, precise, not much collateral damage. I’m guessing the Collective took things further than originally planned.”

Sevrin breathed deeply than sighed. “It has not been an ideal situation, no.”

“I’ve done my best to make sure my people don’t escalate,” Arden answered. “But as you said, it’s only a matter of time before even I can’t hold them back,” Wrathus’ rather public actions with Tren Coltar was weighing on Arden’s mind. He was legitimately concerned that one of them would eventually lose control or purposely disobey.

“If I might be so bold, why have you held them back?” Sevrin asked.

“Because it’s probably exactly what the Collective wants us to do.” Arden replied. “True, I’d rather not replace a bunch of valuable assets, but in the end, I sense the Collective expects we’d respond to what they’re doing with a massacre of some sorts, which plays right into the image of us they’re trying to portray.”

Sevrin chuckled… “You sound exactly like a Viceprix’s son. You’re more like your father than you care to admit.”

Arden didn’t react to the comment. “Anyway, this needs to stop, and I think the way is simple. I’m prepared to return your brother and arrange for your safe passage off Aliso in exchange for information on the Collective operatives and how to find them.”

Sevrin nodded but looked skeptical. “Only one problem. I don’t know that my brother is, in fact, alive.”

“I’ve already thought of a way for you to see him without my people suspecting anything,” Arden answered. “It’s going to hurt, though.”

Sevrin nodded. “Once I see him, I’ll give you what I have. Then you can end this.”

“Deal.” Arden nodded and grabbed the dagger he kept on his belt. Sevrin looked puzzled for a moment

“What’s that for?”

Arden smirked. “I told you the way to your brother was going to hurt.”

Arden promptly stood up, stepped out from behind the desk, and drove the dagger into Sevrin’s thigh. He then jabbed his desk comlink activator and spoke to his droid assistant.

“Karra, this slave is being uncooperative. Send for a medical team and have him brought to Medical Suite 5.”

“At once, Dread Lord.”

=============

Medical Suite 5, Level 109

Between the wound and the restraints, Sevrin could barely move, as he was placed roughly on a medical bed by two uncaring guards. A figure in a slave’s uniform stepped over to Sevrin and started scanning his vitals. After a moment, the slave medic reached for a tool and said something to Sevrin.

“Please lie still while I close your wound.”

The way the medic spoke clearly showed signs that his conditioning was intact, but even with that, Sevrin immediately knew the voice and recognized it. He breathed a sigh of relief as he muttered something.

“Arin.”

The medic didn’t react; Sevrin didn’t really expect him to. But it was very clear this man was his brother, and that was all that mattered.

(Ronovi Tavisaen) #26

Pinnacle Hangar Bay
Aliso City
36 ABY

Wrathus sat in the open hatch of his speeder when he heard the clicks of boots. Looking up, he watched as Ronovi Tavisaen stepped out from the base of the Pinnacle and approached him. He had his helmet off, the lines and creases of his face belying his age, making him appear almost Human. But then he opened his mouth, and the modulator still altered his voice.

“Warlord, care for a bite?” he inquired. He inclined his hand to her, holding something.

Ronovi didn’t give anything away - not her amusement, not her frustration, nothing - though truth be told, she wasn’t quite sure which emotion to exude at all. Indeed, she remained stoic, her arms pinched behind her back, the tails of her long coat bristling against her ankles. She had to hide a smile - Karn wouldn’t approve of her elation. But he had his own dinner to eat, if the metaphor worked.

She approached Wrathus slowly, though not cautiously - despite his uttermost fury and power, as well as the strange object he was holding in his grip, she was not intimidated by him in the slightest. He may have been powerful, but she could crush him in a heartbeat, or a blink. She had, at one point, separated a Zoraan fanatic’s aorta from his heart using the Force alone. Still, the idea of a meal intrigued her. She finally allowed herself a slight smirk.

“You a fan of seafood?” she asked. “I do like a good plate of Lambro shark. That, or Berbersian crab.”

Wrathus tossed Ronovi something, which she caught out of reflex. She then watched as he picked up something that disturbingly looked like a Humanoid hand. He took a bite out it, and she swore she saw a wry smile pass over his face, as he motioned for her to take a look at what he had tossed her: an ordinary nutrient block.

Ah, she thought. So he does have a sense of humor.

Ronovi blinked, eyeing the cannibal with both curiosity and confusion. She palmed the block before stowing it in her back pocket. Then, ultimately, she shook the display off, chuckling.

“Is that Coltar?” she asked, trying to sound natural.

He audibly chewed and swallowed. “No, I think she said her name was Aleista. Zabrak informant. Loose end.”

Ronovi remembered that name from the report she had received. And this time, she couldn’t hold back on her emotional reaction.

“Funny,” she smirked. “I think I’d prefer the Lambro.”


Southern Grotto
Aliso City
36 ABY

Ravenous, the Wrath tore into her sampler plate, revelling in the salty, savory offerings. Truth be told, she hadn’t had this marvelous of a meal in months - Cream of fleek eel. Rock crabs. Exosquidra. Even Sulyet pleased her palate; Ronovi, admittedly, was a fan of devouring both the raw and the still moving. Eating twitching marine life, in her eyes, bolstered her sense of dominance.

As she plowed her way through her platter, she couldn’t help but notice that Wrathus ate nothing at all. Perhaps the flesh of his enemies had sated him enough - or maybe his quest for vengeance soothed his stomach more than actual cuisine would. Still, he tasted nothing - food or beverage - and watched his superior gnaw her way through her feast, while the remaining customers at the grotto kept to themselves.

The late afternoon air was beginning to nip at Ronovi’s nose on the grotto patio, and finally, loudly belching, she took a break to imbibe something stronger. Corellian whiskey - not nearly as good as Whyren’s Reserve, but still potent - soothed her throat somewhat, before she plopped the glass down and grinned at her inferior.

“So,” she grunted. “I assume you’ve had some fun?”

Wrathus allowed her to enjoy her oceanic feast before answering her loaded question; he had only requested a goblet. When it was provided, he drew a wineskin from within his armor and filled the goblet with a thick, red liquid. At first glance, Ronovi thought it was wine, but it was much too thick. She knew exactly what it was.

“I hope that’s wine. But I assume it’s not.”

Wrathus wasn’t one to smile, but the skin under his eyes crinkled, giving him away. “You assume correctly,” he enunciated.

Setting down a half-eaten crab leg, Ronovi watched as her fellow Epicanthix took a long, deep pull from his wineskin, appearing satisfied with the draught he took. When he was finished, he did not burp, or laugh, or make any noise - he simply seemed full. Complete. Vindicated. As if he had merely drunk water. When he was done, he tucked the vessel away, leaving his nearly vacant gaze to settle on the second-in-command of his designated clan.

“So,” Ronovi uttered. “Seven dead in fewer than 24 hours, huh?”

Wrathus slowly took a sip from the goblet. “Yeah, I’m starting to slow down. Age must finally be catching up with me.”

“I’ll say - just seven kills in one day? That’s about three hours in between.” Swallowing a mouthful of fresh crab meat, Ronovi waved a hand almost dismissively. “But I know what you’re capable of. And I must say, I should have seen it coming. Given your history, and what Marick’s told me recently in regards to your escapades…”

Wrathus raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And what did our illustrious Voice have to say?”

Ronovi sneered. “That I should have known better, and that your reputation precedes you?”

The Battlemaster’s expression returned to its neutral state. “Indeed,” he said, with almost an air of superiority. Almost saying, “Yes, you should have.” He knew it was a yes or no question, but he felt this was the best answer he had.

Nodding, Ronovi polished off the last Plavonian starfish on her plate. As she chewed, she found herself leaning back in her chair, while the cool air of the nearby starport enveloped her. Eternal autumn was her favorite season.

“So,” she murmured. “Obviously, either you have something to prove, or you’ve already proven enough. Tell me, Wrathus - what is it that you want to accomplish while in Plagueis’s territory? Because if it’s got to do with vengeance, then I think we need to broaden your horizons.”

Wrathus’s eyes seemed to brighten at this question. “Tell me, Tavisaen - what do you know of the old empire?”

Despite her otherwise intact constitution, Ronovi couldn’t help but laugh - now this would be an interesting conversation. “Enough to know that enough fanatics want it to come back,” she intoned. “Is that your long-term goal as well?”

The corner of Wrathus’s mouth seemed to curl up in a pleased smirk. “And has the Force ever spoken to you in a very overt way?”

“Almost too frequently,” Ronovi snickered. “I need to remind the Force to respect its boundaries. Consent is very important, you know.”

“Now, what would you say if I told you that the Force showed me a vision of the galaxy in flames and the survivors kneeling before the Empire of old?”

Ronovi needed an extra sip of whiskey for this hypothetical question. When she was done, and the alcohol had burned a deep enough hole in her stomach to settle her, she forced another smile. “I’d say you’re not quite different from the other prophets I’ve heard from. But in the end, you still haven’t answered my question. What are you asking of Plagueis in this ‘transaction,’ as it were?”

As she spoke, a handful of customers rose from their seats, and instantly, the outside eating area of the grotto became significantly quieter. A few screeches of ship engines could be heard here and there, but otherwise, all was calm. And while Ronovi was full appetite-wise, she was not through with this conversation. Especially if this rather unstable man suited both her own desires and missions.

“Since you came searching for me, you must have received a report of my actions. Did you ever notice the name associated with the incidents?”

Startlingly - and, perhaps, to her chagrin - Ronovi had to think about it. She lifted up her highball, slowly sipping its contents, and had to recollect her thoughts. But it ultimately came to her quickly, given her unnatural level of intellect, and nearly instantly, she could fathom Wrathus’s end goal. He was the Warmonger. The Aggressor. The Instigator. He craved carnage, and so he provoked carnage. War encouraged him, enthused him, inspired him. The Force was a source of conflict, and the man was happy to partake in its playground.

Getting a good read of the colossal stranger now - yes, he was taller than she was, she had to remind herself - Ronovi could now play her own cards, which she had been symbolically pressing against her chest. As the waiter strolled by with the check, all she had now was one last question for Wrathus.

“Tell me, my friend,” she muttered, smiling softly. “D’you think you could use a few more…missions like the ones you’ve taken on recently? In the name of the Ascendant Clan?”

When Wrathus met her gaze, she saw a light in his eyes - a chaotic light. The kind you’d see in the eyes of a madman. “Where should I begin?”

(Brimstone aka Seabr'imsto'nedansr) #27

CIS Tundra Station

As the winds howled blowing ice and snow throughout the are, the black Firespray flew through the area towards the hanger. Its lone occupant, a protocol droid, manned the controls. Its destination was to met up with its owner who had decided to make the area a livable habitat.

“CTS, this is K’ebatas aboard the Nehso Retan’ci requesting clearance to land” spoke the droid to the bunker.

“Nehso Retan’ci, you are cleared to land. Opening the shielded doors. You have 20 seconds to enter,”

“Roger”

The flat surface barrier opened up as the Firespray adjusted with its sidejets to land flatly within the base. As it lowered itself, the doors of the landing platform closed once again. The hanger operations were punctual. When they gave you a limited amount of time to get in, they meant it. With the frigged weather outside, the base couldn’t afford much of the outside elements to get in and damage the operations of the bunker.

The Firespray finished with its landing thrusters and lowered its landing gear onto the pad. Once touched down, the landing pad then moved to the side to a docking platform to make room for any other ships coming in. K’ebastas unlocked his harness and got out of the pilots chair. Most of the time, his Master would helm the ship, but he was on a errand and it was one of the few times he got to fly by himself. Making his way to the exit ramp, he picked up two packages of items he was sent to retrieve.

The ramp hydraulics hissed as it lowered down. The droid then made his way down the ramp and with a program in his brain, sent an electronic signal that caused the ramp to go back up and seal shut. The metallic clank of his footsteps on the durasteel where noticeable. Hanger personnel watched as the black 3PO unit made its way past them to the hanger doors. Then he walked through and they closed behind him. Once through and a quick stroll down the hallway, he came to a turbo-lift to head down 3 floors to the control station where his Master was scheduled to be. K’ebatas was glad for one thing. His Master was very productive of his itinerary and was always on schedule, unlike many humans and other of the Clan Plagueis.

The turbo-lift doors opened after his short ride and he stepped out. Making a left turn, he walked 100 paces to the control room. Reaching out, he inserted a finger into the droid security datapad and waited. The console beeped its acceptance to the data transfer and opened the doors. K’ebatas walked in, still carrying the two packages.

Brimstone sat in his straight-back chair as he monitored different holofeeds and monitors.

“Good, you made it back. Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Yes I did Master. And I must say, it wasn’t easy to get these smuggled in.”

Brimstone turned around as the droid place both packages on the duracrete table. The Chiss stood up, pulled out a knife from his belt, and sliced the strapping that sealed both packages. After returning his blade, he pulled both open and peered inside the boxes. Inside were two black RK-3s. These were blasters used by the Chiss, especially the kind Thrawn would use. Brim picked up one and held it up for inspection. The power cells were not in so they were harmless for the time being, He felt the light weight of the blaster then took aim with it away from him. Tapping the trigger, he could feel the speed in them, the hair trigger he had wanted. As he looked them over, he saw the two settings on the side. “S” and “B”. He knew it was able to stun and blast from these settings.

Brim then removed the two Westars he had holsted on each side and replaced them with both RK-3s.

“Sir, what would you like me to do with these two unneeded blasters?”

“Put them in the weapons locker for transport back to Aliso City so they can be used by the troops. I have no need for them.”

The Chiss sat back down and swiveled his chair back at the monitors. K’ebatas picked up the two blasters and walked out of the room to do as he was ordered.