CHAPTER ONE - 20 JUNE 2014
President’s Conference Room
Lethra City, Cadinth
Sleek. Pristine. Modern. With a lot of white hues.
The Hooded Figure noticed these things as he stood in hologram form in the center of the room, watching, listening, feeling out the emotions of those he spoke to. The room was large, but presently empty save for President Corvin Zexx and his Executive Assistant Fiona Dravvad, who sat quietly, taking notes. A man of the Hooded Figure’s stature deserved a private audience, though the meeting was quickly turning sour.
Zexx laughed. His laugh was boyish, youthful, but lined with a ruthlessness the Hooded Figure knew he should not underestimate. Zexx had not developed Hyperdyne Manufacturing into one of the premiere starship manufacturing plants in the sector because of his fresh perspective on the galaxy. He seized opportunities when they arose, and guarded himself against threats when they emerged.
At present, he saw the hooded Figure’s presence as more a threat than opportunity.
“I granted you an audience because Hyperdyne values returning customers,” Zexx said, “Especially ones as resourceful and in demand as you, but I find it laughable you come to me with this.”
The Hooded Figure spoke, “I offer you partnership, sir. Continued operations with a controlling stake in my group’s hands, but we value your methods and do not seek to alter them.”
Zexx leaned back, his arms laid casually on either side of his chair, “Look, you know who we contract with, so I do not seek to insult you by comparison but I’m afraid Hyperdyne is not interested in new ownership.”
The Hooded Figure expanded his reach into the room. He could feel the heartbeat of Zexx - calm, steady, undeterred by his advances. His mind was strong, too healthy to exert any influence over from this great a distance, but the girl was different. Fiona Dravvad, sitting quietly two seats down. The Hooded Figure prodded.
The Twi’lek suddenly whispered, “Perhaps we should bring in the other executives, sir.”
Zexx turned, his face suddenly dark and frowning, “Shut up.”
The command was short and crisp, hard, and the Hooded Figure felt his lease on Dravvad snap.
Zexx returned to the Hooded Figure, "Look, I am grateful for your business and commit Hyperdyne to continuing our fruitful relationship, but we are not looking for new ventures right now. Thank you for meeting with me.
The Hooded Figure frowned, silent, before the hologram faded into oblivion.
Zexx turned back to Dravvad, still frowning, “Do not speak unless spoken to.”
“Yes, sir,” the Twi’lek submitted quickly.
“That was quite…curious,” Zexx mused, “Who did you say manages this account?”
Dravvad checked her datapad, “Teek Amavia in R&D brought in the account originally. It’s handled by Naveev Treeess.”
Zexx’s fingers tapped on the arm of the chair, his mind buzzing with activity as he pondered, his gaze narrowing.
Lethra City, Cadinth
The power generator rained sparks and shined a bright white light before fizzling away and going completely silent.
“Shit!” yelled Teek Amavia as the short Dressellian threw down his tools and banged a fist against the table.
“Very mature,” quipped Lorainne Korn from the side of the room. She was smiling, amused but uncaring, “You set excellent impressions, Teek.”
Amavia fumed, not embarrassed for the first time, “I need access to the newer model converters, Lorainne, which means I need funding to purchase them.”
“Your funding is satisfactory,” Korn responded, “We have to shift resources into other priority areas. The orders are straight from Zexx.”
“What other areas?”
Korn smiled again, “Teek, please. You’re an excellent engineer, but know your place.”
She left the room on her heels, Amavia still fuming behind her. The beeping of his communicator brought his senses back and he walked to his computer to activate the transmission.
A blue hued transparent rendering of a Hooded Figure appeared and spoke immediately, “President Zexx did not respond kindly.”
“I told you he wouldn’t,” Amavia said, “He’s hard headed and short sighted.”
“Luckily you are not,” the Figure smirked, “But we will need to move forward. You need to retrieve blueprints of the plant for us.”
Amavia shifted uncomfortably, “I already told you, there are only so many things I can acce…”
He stopped abruptly at the wave of the Hooded Figure’s hand. The Figure spoke, lower, darker, softer, “You will retrieve blueprints of the plant for us.”
“I will retrieve blueprints for us,” Amavia repeated.
“Good. Stand tall, my friend. Things will get much harder before your future is realized.”
Amavia squirmed slightly, “I hope you do not intend to destroy the factory you hope to control.”
The Hooded Figure grinned, “There are many ways to accomplish one’s goal. Time will tell which proves successful. I will contact you shortly for the blueprints. Do not disappoint, President Amavia.”
The hologram disappeared, leaving Amavia standing with a grin of his own.
Classified Location in the Esstran Sector
The Hooded Figure stepped back from the holoreceiver and removed his robes. Aabsdu Dupar had never much liked the garbs. Too loose hanging.
The Adept had expected President Zexx to turn down his offer. Acceptance would have gone against Zexx’s business nature, but none of it mattered. The outcome remained the same. Clan Plagueis used to think of itself as homeless, wanderers with nothing but a contingent of ships and now this previously abandoned space station. Now they realized their true potential. This was their home.
Darth Plagueis had been a rich and powerful Muun. He had continued to operate businesses, controlling the rise and fall of industries across the galaxy, even while he trained Palpatine to one day take over that galaxy. While Sidious had achieved the Sith’s lifelong dream, Darth Plagueis’ acumen had granted Sidious the resources and influence necessary to unlock his potential. Plagueis had ruled from the shadows, confident knowing his legacy intact even if no history books knew his name.
Clan Plagueis did not need a system of planets to conquer. It needed a base from which it could stretch its dark fingers across space.
Hyperdyne Manufacturing would be Plagueis’ first acquisition.
Aabsdu moved out of his inner offices into the outer conference room where Quaestor Kz’set and Teylas Ramar were waiting, both seated and chatting. They stood at attention upon the Consul’s entrance, bowing their heads in respect.
“Dread Lord,” each said. Aabsdu returned the gesture before sliding each a datachip.
“Hypderdyne Manufacturing is based in a corner of the Tion Sector. A planet named Cadinth. Hyperdyne specializes in starship manufacturing, notably hyperdrives but they have recently shifted funds into a currently unknown project.”
“Are they a threat to uszz?” Kz’set asked.
“No, but we are a threat to them. Clan Plagueis is in need of resources and we have not the planets to mine. In the name of the Dread Lord, you and your houses are to infiltrate Hyperdyne and seize control of its operations. My own agents have already placed themselves throughout the company. You will find details on all executives and blueprints of their factories on that chip.”
“If we have already infiltrated their ranks,” Kz’set clicked, “My house will be able to slip in quite easily.”
“Your main obstacle will be President Corvin Zexx. He is not the type to bow to outside control,” Aabsdu said.
Teylas spoke up, “Then we make him. Permanently.”
Aabsdu grinned, “Perhaps. I leave the details to you and your teams. I want Hyperdyne. Intact and fully operational. Bring me this.”
“Does the Dark Council know Plagueis intends to leave the Begeren battlefield?” asked Teylas.
“General Benzayn is capable of maintaing our advance planet side,” Aabsdu answered, “And Proconsul Rai and myself will remain here to oversee both operations. I have arranged for each of you to send a small forward team in the guise of Alliance safety inspectors. This is as far as my assistance extends.”
“What are we there to inspect?” asked Kz’set.
Aabsdu gave a genuine smile, “A recent accident in their boiler systems.”
Primary Heating Duct
Lower Levels of Hyperdyne Headquarters
Lethra City, Cadinth
There was a team of six engineers working in the heating systems, performing standard repairs and calibrations. There was a man on this team, a Bothan whose name was unimportant because this Bothan was not suppose to be on this team. This Bothan was not suppose to be in this building, or on this planet. It mattered not. This Bothan was not himself.
There was a team of six engineers performing standard repairs and calibrations in the heating systems, during which time the Bothan removed a block of explosives from his pack and detonated.
Bridge of the Transcendent
In Orbit Around Begeren
Former Admiral Brimstone stood looking at the viewports at the monochromatic tan planet before them. Admiral Cyvaria Ranin stood next to him, the two joined in a moment of silence as they gazed out at the infinite of space momentarily interrupted by this small sphere of matter. The two were as friendly as one gets when both stand in clear positions of power to the Dread Lord. Brimstone admired Ranin’s intelligence and knowledge of naval strategies, two traits his Chiss ancestors placed in high regard.
An Officer approached and spoke, “A message for you, sir.”
Chiss and Human turned at the same time, but the Officer’s communicator went to Brimstone. Ranin watched as Brimstone activated the transmission and a blue form of Callus Bo’Amar appeared.
“Brimstone,” Callus spoke, “You are to return to the Preeminence immediately. You and your Apostles are needed for deployment.”
“I thought our Begeren campaign finished,” Brimstone inquired.
“I expect your arrival promptly,” Callus asserted and ended the call.
Forward Plagueis Command
Northern Mountain Ranges
Ophelia Delacroix and Marduss sat around a table displaying holographic imaging of the surrounding area and the various Dark Brotherhood and One Sith forces nestled throughout. Both had been pulled back from the front lines to manage House Ajunta Pall’s new recruits and liaise with General Benzayn.
A holographic rendering of Furios Morega suddenly appeared in the center of the table. He didn’t waste time, “The Left Wing demands your return to fleet. Our attention is being shifted elsewhere.”
“Both of us?” asked Delacroix.
“Immediately,” and the transmission of Furios ended. Ophelia and Marduss looked at one another, both unsure as to what could call away Plagueis’ commanders from the Crusade battlefield.
Back in Consular’s Offices (previously)
Classified Location in the Esstran Sector
The Dark Side Adept and Consul leaned toward the Quaestors, his face stern, "Do not mistake the importance of this mission. When one tells your hands to reach out, the hands obey. They grasp firmly the goal, without question or hesitation.
Aabsdu straightened and continued, “Otherwise, you cut off the hand.”