Legends Always Have Several Sides
After the devastating war that caused the Galaxy to shatter into roughly four pieces ended, a decade of peace and prosperity followed. The Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions, as the nation of Darth Tepe was now officially named, began a fruitful co-operation with the Galactic Alliance that started a Golden Age in the Alliance while continuing it within the Dominion. The Sith Dominion, controlled by Lord Kaoin, was still going but the corrupt Sith-controlled state was not approved by many of it's citizen worlds, causing Kaoin to increase military presence on worlds and place Dark Jedi and Sith into the inner circles of world leaders so they would stay under his control. The Hutt Space continued on as it's criminal sanctuary and the independent worlds managed to survive.
Then they came. The Yuuzhan Vong entered known galaxy, shattering the peace and causing many worlds to become uninhabitable. The shock of the extragalactic intruder was swiftly disbanded and the Dominions launched a massive attack upon the new species while the Galactic Alliance crumbled with the loss of Coruscant. The agreement Tepe and the Galactic Alliance senate reached was a definite turn point in the war as the two nations joined forces to rid Coruscant of the invaders. After five years of warfare, the Yuuzhan Vong departed but not without changing the Galaxy forever. The Sith Dominion diminished in size and power while the Galactic Alliance grew into a proper democracy and the other Dominion continued to keep a peaceful agreement with it's member worlds. It seemed that the "Divide and Rule" tactic truly worked. Years went past and conflicts within the Galactic Alliance rose as well as in the Sith Dominion. Both were ridden with infighting while Lord Tepe acted as an unbiased negotiator at the time of need with the aid of Skywalker and his Jedi. Peace seemed to be mostly restored while the lineage of Tepe and his new Queen, Charna, continued to grow. Both had went through the Sith Hunter machine, giving them an ageless presence. For over the next century they would stay happily married.
Then it was once again time for conflict as the Imperial factions of the Galactic Alliance broke off in 119 ABY, taking over the Imperial Remnant territories around Bastion. The Sith let them take the area, thinking that they could manage without the few systems the New Empire took as it's own. But the tension between the Empire and the Galactic Alliance was tough to bear from the start. It didn't help that the Jedi of Coruscant also split into those who deemed the Empire the true might of the Galaxy and those who wished to serve the democracy. So the Jedi Order split into three; The Jedi of Ossus who are the most peaceful ones and in close cooperation with the Dominion, The Jedi of Coruscant who are the most old-fashioned and try to compel nations to attack the Sith, and then there's the Imperial Knights or those who left the Jedi to follow the newly formed Fel Dynasty and make sure the Empire is safe and peaceful. However, the uncomfortable peace would not last. The democratic Galactic Alliance, much like it's predecessor the New Republic, saw the Empire as an oppressive dictatorship that was more about military power than welfare of civilians. The Sith, knowing that the loss of the Empire as a trading partner would mean heavy losses on their part started to grow agitated of the Galactic Alliance's attitude and was held back from the war only by the threat made by Tepe that should the Sith Dominion enter the war, it would also mean war with the much more powerful Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions.
But what none expected to happen at this time of prosperity was that a group of Republicans were gaining power within the Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions. Not only did they claim that the government under Tepe was an oppressive totalitarian regime, they had managed to get the support of Tepe's old enemies: the Hutts. So the NSES and IIA were formed to hunt down these people and bring their disloyal behinds to be judged by what they themselves called "corrupted courts". Recently the Hutts have started smuggling weapons for these several insurgent groups that have united under the name of Republican in official reports and news programs.
The year is 128 ABY. What part will you play in this flammable situation?
Yes, I know this is petty much a remake of the last thread story-wise with a couple of additions. However, this will not be taking place under the great halls of Tepe and Charna or in the Ragnarok(unless truly necessary), with only short cameos from those figures we have seen in the other threads. This is about what is going on the streets. May it be Sith or Jedi undercover or completely out in the open, may it be soldier, guard or NSES/IIA operative, your character will be just the regular Joe put in a tough situation of decisions that might change the tide of Galactic politics. This allows for more people to be tied to this little saga without concerning about how to be connected with the milleniums/century old characters and gives a completely clean table. Please enjoy and be sure to check out the wiki.
Note: I am not insisting upon great political discussions between the characters even if the situation would be perfect for one. However, it would be nice for your characters to open up a bit on their political stance in the whole crisis by despising some leading figures or protecting some ideology of some nation.
A light freighter jumped out of hyperspace near Naboo, getting ready for immediate planetfall. However, it stopped dead in it's tracks and even began to move backwards. The cockpit was in turmoil.
"What happened?" the pilot asked fro the co-pilot who shurgged and tried to resist the tractor beam of a ship coming out of stealth mode in orbit around the planet. It was a Consular-class ship with it's escape pod removed and its former place turned into a docking ring. The freighter shook violently as it came into contact with the larger vessel. The crew drew weapons and rushed for the section of the hull that was placed against the ring.
Plasma cutters began opening up the hull as the passengers, all five of them Republican insurgents, came to the same area with blasters drawn.
"What is it?" one of them asked from the pilot who shrugged.
"We don't know. They didn't send any message" the co-pilot said as they backed off from the almost done hole in the hull. It was first a silent period after the hull piece was kicked in. Then it came clear to them why they had been so suddenly and without warning taken by the Consular-class ship. Several NSES agents walked in, executing both the pilot and the co-pilot before they could even move their fingers to the trigger, which caused the Republicans to begin shooting. The first three NSES agents coming in were killed before the Republicans had gone behind a corner so the firefight could not ensue. Five more agents came inand put a simple comm headset on their heads. The trandoshan leader took one of the agents with him to circle around while the three others rushed straught after the insurgents. The blaster sounds rang throught the corridors once more as the chase began.
A figure stood in front of a large window overlooking the completely rebuilt Works. A smile glowed on his face as the Works was the only place by far where the atmosphere of the Old Republic was still well conserved. Not in the sence all the buildings were like they were back then, but more or less architecturally same that littered Coruscant before the Empire and the many times Coruscant's areas were rebuilt to match new technological innovations and architectural styles after being destroyed. It was bliss for the man.
"Lord Tepe, one of the ships has located an insurgent transport. It has began boarding operations" an officer in th greyish blue uniform of the NSES said as he marched through the door of the office, hardly getting a glance from the guards he just passed. A shake of the hand excused the guards outside and after the doors closed the Lord turned to see the officer.
"Good. Send word I wish for all Republicans interrogated and then released. Before release bug them. All of them" he said and smiled mischievously before turning to see the outside cityscape once more.
The officer rushed off once more, the guards returning into the officer and the Lord sitting down. It was a good day for his Dominion, even if there was an insurgency.
"Why do you trust a droid to fly your ship?" the man in the cage inquired, cocking his head to one side curiously.
"I don't," Aislin Dantes answered shortly, her cool blue eyes flicking away from the caged man for a brief moment before returning to him. "Ceru is the ship. Artificial intelligence."
"And far more intelligent than a droid," the ship added in a surprisingly human-sounding voice. "This ship, the Cerulean Eye is the single most sophisticated ship of its size known to the galaxy."
"Great," the caged man grumbled. "A boasting ship..." He looked away from Aislin. "Are we there yet?"
Amused, Aislin smiled and shook her head. "Not yet," she replied. "And I think you'll find yourself screaming in fear when we make it to our destination."
"You never told me who you're working for," the prisoner said. Aislin grinned.
"A bounty hunter never reveals his or her employer," she repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time. "But why are you so eager to learn? You'll find out soon enough."
"So..." the man mumbled. Then, he grinned. "Why are you watching me instead of flying the ship?"
Now, Aislin scowled. "If you need the question answered again, Ruben Shoal, you are a far greater fool than my employer suggested to me. I am watching you because you're a genuine escape artist... and besides, if Ceru can fly the ship, why should I miss out on this circular conversation, fascinating as it is?"
For once, Ruben Shoal shut his mouth, And Aislin smiled at the relief.
"Tell the Sith Hunters that I appreciate the gesture, but politely remind Reibe that I hardly need a Hunter for a bodyguard, no matter how well she's been trained," Charna instructed the messenger.
"Forgive me, My Lady," the messenger said. "But the young Hunter has already arrived."
Charna sighed. "It would be terribly bad form to send her away now..." she muttered. "Send her in."
The messenger bowed and retreated. A moment later, a young woman dressed in dark brown, flexible clothing entered. Her features reminded Charna ever so slightly of Jahara, but her hair was near-black and her eyes were almost as dark. As she approached, she nodded her head.
"Lady Charna," she addressed formally. "My name is Rellis Thren."
"Not a formal bow," Charna observed. She chuckled. "You are a Hunter. So... Reibe sends me the child of Jahara for a bodyguard?"
Rellis shrugged. "She knows very well you don't need a bodyguard," she admitted, "as do I. However, the Sith Dominion raised the paycheck for bounty hunters when it comes to you." She laughed lightly. "I don't know... perhaps Reibe merely wanted me to meet you."
Charna smiled. "Well, now you have," she said. "I'll have to contact Reibe... to determine the real purpose of your visit. In any case, you are not unwelcome. I can have someone show you to a room if you would like."
Rellis nodded. "Thank you, Lady Charna. I think I should like the chance to freshen up a bit... long flights, small cockpit... I'm sure you understand."
The purple-blue cape flapped behind the slightly greyed man who stepped upon the hallways of the Embassy. It seemed Lord Tepe was out and about again. Before he got to his destination, however, a man stopped him and the four guards he was with.
"Milord, here's the file you requested for. The boys at IIA did everything they could to find as much information of her as they could" the man said and Tepe nodded, taking the small holoscreen handed to him. On it was the picture of the bounty hunter and her trademark ship, an old repainted model of one of his Dominion's Royal Transports as well as information of the bounty hunter. He smirked and handed the screen back.
"Send word to Gentleman Roberts. I want that girl. Alive. I will not have her take a bounty on my head. She might be too much for my security. I want nothing of this operation leading back to me, you hear?" Tepe said and the man receiving the holoscreen back nodded, bowed and left. The Lord then continued on his way to the door already in view from where he stood. Waving his hand the guards stopped outside the door and stood into guard duty while Lord Tepe visited his lovely wife.
"Milady" Tepe said and bowed as he entered and the door closed behind him before noticing another person in the room.
"What's this? Not another social visit from one of your friends, darling?"
It had taken a while but the NSES agents had managed to finally round up the republicans when the notice came to interrogate, bug and release. So the agents did just that. They got the insurgents disarmed, walked them into separate rooms in the light freighter to avoid risking the security within their own remodeled Consular-class ship. After interrogations they knocked out each of the republicans and inserted a small tracker within their bodies before leaving before they woke up. By the time they woke up the piece of hull that had been removed was back and welded in place and the only thing left of their visit was the dead crew. They would now proceed to the next republican shuttle they had knowledge of.
Two ships floated silently in space in the middle of an asteroid belt which had been their home base since they had been employed by the Dominion. They were seemingly wooden-hulled and of an extremely ancient design of battleships, resembling much the ship of the former Jedi Lord Farfalla. They were pirates and their leader was Gentleman Roberts. For a reason was their ships similar to that of the ancient equine Jedi, for the crew was formed of many long since forgotten races lately found once again. Reptilian, avian and equine races were all there as well as some humans and other races. As it happened the leader himself was a Quarren and his personal bodyguards were either Mon Calamari, Quarren or Aqualish.
The hologram transmission ended on the deck of the second ship. Both ships were dark brown and had details much like planks would. There was movement on the main deck, sealed from the emptiness of space by a simple force field. The movement on deck only showed how massive the ship was, as otherwise from distance it could seem small and even from up close it could seem smaller than it was. With width it extended over 500 meters and in length it stretched a mile at least. The second ship was slightly smaller with two hundred meters taken from both lengths. The three or four masts and the immobile steel-alloy sails stood proudly, the lower edges of the sails roughly marking the lowest point in the force field. On the bridge, within the structure at the very back of the main deck, the hologram transmission ended from Coruscant giving their next objective.
This was their specialty. LICE-missions, aka Locate, Intercept, Capture, Escort -missions. The Quarren man turned from the holopad and turned to his first mate who handed him a small microphone which gave him the ability to send commands to all ships.
"All ships ahoy. Three stay behind, all rest on LICE-mission. Objective: Aislin Dantes" he said, giving the microphone back and walking over to a small railing. Looking down at the brains of the vessel, the command bridge, he looked at the first mate who stopped next to him to see the same sight.
"All engines full power. As soon as we get beyond the belt, open all tracking channels and find me that ship" the captain said and walked off, leaving the first mate to bark orders until her mouth was dry and throat sore.
"Are we there yet?"
Aislin laughed. "You sound like a child on a long family trip," she told her prisoner. "No."
"Are we there yet?" Shoal repeated.
"Are we there yet?"
The ship came out of hyperspace and Ceru said, "Very nearly, yes."
"Aww," Shoal grumbled. "I was hoping you'd gotten lost and we'd never make it."
"I didn't get a compared to Boba Fett for nothing," Aislin reminded him. "I'm good at what I do. Very good."
In just a few moments, the ship docked with another, larger ship. The larger ship was practically the home/base of operations for one of the more illusive crime rings in the galaxy, and as soon as Aislin's ship was fully secure, they jumped to hyperspace, as a precaution in case Aislin had been followed.
"You have Ruben Shoal," a voice said over the comm. "Scans have confirmed this. Your payment has been transferred. Please transfer the prisoner."
"You're new," Aislin commented. "Haven't heard you before."
"Hey, Aislin!" another voice greeted cheerily. Aislin grinned.
"Hey Max," she answered. "Who's the dull newbie?"
"Oh, just call him Idiot," Max answered. "We all do because... well, he is one. Anyway... Ruben Shoal, huh?"
"I'm lookin' at him as we speak," Aislin confirmed. "Shall we make the transfer?"
"Sure," Max agreed. "Stick him in the airlock and shut your end... you know the routine."
Aislin nodded and stood. Just as she unlocked the cage Ruben Shoal was in, he attempted an escape.
"Not the Greater Stars!" he protested. "I don't wanna go! They'll kill me!"
Aislin thrust him backward into the cage with the Force. "As if anyone I might have taken you to wouldn't? You're getting what you deserve, thief. Pickpocket." She glared at him. "Murderer."
Calling on the power of the Force, Aislin lifted the unwilling man and carried him to the airlock. She tossed him in and Ceru sealed it shut. Aislin could hear the man's frantic scrabbling at her door. Then, she heard a low rumble, something that sounded like a dart gun firing, and finally, Ruben Shoal's frightened wail, dying into silence.
"So thanks for him," Max said, coming back on the line. "Top notch work, as usual."
"Just doing my job and doing it well," Aislin said cheerfully. "Shall I be going now?"
"Just a word of warning," Max replied. "Rumor has it, there's a pirate fleet looking for you. You might want to lay low a bit."
"Pirates?" Aislin clarified.
"Pirates," Max confirmed. "Word is, they've gotten orders to LICE you."
"Any word on their employer?" Aislin inquired.
"Not a word," Max answered. "And that bothers me, Ais. There's not many people in the galaxy who can go and hire a full on fleet of pirates without leaving some kind of trail."
"Thanks for the info, Max," Aislin said after a moment of silence. "But I don't think I have anything to worry about. I'll just stay one step ahead of them."
The two ships dropped out of hyperspace and split up. The Greater Stars' home ship glided away in a completely different direction and jumped to hyperspace once more.
"Didn't want to bother you while you were chatting with the Stars," Ceru said. "But we've got another job request."
"What is it?" Aislin asked.
"Assassination. Lady Charna, Queen of the Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions."
The Quarren captain stood at the helm when the newest model of the mechno-chair wobbled over and the hologram of the first mate appeared.
"Gentleman Roberts, we're arriving from hyperspace. The Stormers have gotten ready and two other ships are ready at the scene" the first mate said and Roberts nodded. Of course it wasn't his real name, but it had been the name of the leader since the first days of the pirate group, so it shrouded the real species and name of the leader from everyone else except the higher ladders of the Pirates.
The large ship jumped out of hyperspace near two others of the smaller version. Soon afterwards each of the three ships activated their gravity well projectors and got their weapons ready. It had payed off to plant a spy in the Greater Stars. Knowing all too well it was futile to go against the home ship with only one of theirs, the pirates had received word from the spy and gathered a group of three ships to engage the home ship. Just after the Quarren captain got to the entrance to the bridge did the call battle stations come out through the speakers and the home ship was drawn out of hyperspace. Rushing to the bridge and onto the lift that took him above the bridge onto the main command station, the Quarren man took a tricorne hat from behind his back and put it on with a smirk. When he got on his place the home ship had been surrounded in a triangular formation with all three pirate ships keeping it in place with their gravity well projectors and tractor beam as well as their communications disrupted by the flagship.
The home ship opened fire and as a countermeasure the pirates did what they always did. They turned sideways to the ship and concentrated shield to the one side while opening up hatches that littered the whole side of the ship. From inside then protruded cannons of many kind, including laser cannons, turbolasers, ion cannons and mass-driver cannons. The home ship scanners obviously showed the amount of firepower the pirates held and increased firepower as well as releasing any small attack craft in their use. The first mate looked at Gentleman Robinson and he only smiled.
"Fire full broadside. Get all point-defence laser cannons firing at those attack craft" the command was heard and acknowledged. All three ships gave one round of broadsides, the energy weapons crushing the shields for a brief moment, giving way to the ion weapons to take out the electrical system usually defended by the shields. The mass cannon didn't really even have to wait for the energy weapons since they could bypass the shield due to not being made of energy and crushed against the hull of the home ship.
"All ships close up and board the damn thing" the Quarren man said and the first made forwarded the command around the three ships. The attack craft went down one after another before nothing was left. The home ship had stopped shooting mainly due to the excessive loss of power due to the ion cannons. All three pirate ships got as close as they could, aligning themselves to any docking rings or hangars before letting their secret weapon out. The cannons withdrew and the hatches closed before new hatches opened and long tubes came out, attaching to docking rings, hangars or in the case where neither were available into the hull and the crew cut through in a matter of minutes. Once all tubes had been attached the Quarren man contacted the ship while the cutting of the hull began.
"This is your first and last warning. Give up resistance and hand over information on the whereabouts of a certain ms. Aislin Dantes as well as all valuable material except personnel"
Aislin had never known it, but the man she knew as Max was the leader of the Greater Stars. He sighed wearily. "Do as they say. We're outnumbered ten to one at the least."
He opened a comm channel to the other ship. "Valuables are stored in several locations aboard the ship. Resistance is over. I'm sending you a deck plan of the ship, which should have everything you want marked. As to Aislin Dantes, we have no idea where she is. We can tell you the proper contact guidelines we use when dealing with her."
"Max, what are you doing?" his second in command demanded, alarmed. He turned to face her and shook his head.
"Don't worry," he said. "This will soon pass. They want Aislin. We have information on her possible next job. Good business practice. Give up whatever will kill you; hold on to what they don't need. Tell them our representative will meet face to face to give the word on Aislin."
He shook his head. "It's a shame, really. I liked her. She had a lot of spirit. But if this is what's coming after her... she doesn't stand a chance."
The sound of cutting ceased echoing through the home ship and the schreeching of metal ceased also until with a loud bang several tubes released their holds from the hull and retracted, leaving those tubes attached to docking rings and hangars the only ones in place. And through them came those who the pirates called Stormers. First the hiss of the tube stabilizing air pressure between the home ship and the pirate ships, followed by a mechanical hiss and creak that was caused by the doors opening from the pirate end of the tubes.
The low clunk of boots against the floor of the tube echoed inside the home ship as from the darkness started appearing Stormers. They wore bright red clothes with electrum-covered blast dampener vests and kami as well as an electrum-covered helmet resembling that of a human skull with eye sockets black with small red photoreceptors in the middle that led the picture throught a computer in the helmet and into the screen inside the helmet. Each armor had the Gentleman Roberts insignia upon their chests to let everyone know who just robbed them. In the hangar the Stormers marched out, lining up into row after row of these soldiers, showing that these were well trained, equipped and funded pirates acting as the hand of someone much more powerful than just their leader or some corporation who wants to disrupt rival corporations by privateering their transports. Those who came through the docking rings continued straight to their objectives without any hesitation or theatrics. After the hangars had been filled these men also began their advance.
It was horribly clear that if they had the command to destroy the Greater Stars, the Stormers were ready and very able to do so. Most were probably ex-soldiers and mercenaries who were trained in turn by ex-drill instructors and veterans all over again to serve as a paramilitary instead of an official military. A group of ten entered the bridge of the ship and drew out their weapons, standing loosely around the room before letting in their commanding officer who instead of red wore blue under the armor. He walked a few steps from the door and smirked under his helmet. Identifying swiftly who the crew looked to in this hour of confusion and need of orders he drew out his blaster and pointed it at the character, even if it were or weren't Max.
"Aislin Dantes" the officer said, requesting for information with those two words.
The ship was being overrun by the Stormers with them marching throught the corridors and finding the valuables. They carried the stuff themselves, as according to Gentleman Roberts "it keeps them in shape". Nobody could stop them, as they wouldn't hesitate to shoot anyone who stood in their way for longer than three second ad everyone who came even close to the looters were pushed roughly against the wall. It would take half an hour at least to loot everything and then leave. so numerous were they.
Meanwhile, on a different post another officer wearing blue walked in with three other soldiers. The man the Greater Stars knew as Idiot stood up and sighed of relief.
"Great, guys. Am I being recalled?" he asked but recieved the officer's blaster pointing at his head as a response.
"Nothing personal, Bruck. You know how it goes. You can't have any loose ends when on a LICE" the officer said and shot Bruck "Idiot" Denn right between the eyes before putting the blaster away and walking off.
"All we know is that she was contacted for another job," the young man before them said nervously. He had no idea why Max had insisted he take the meeting, but he felt almost betrayed, for he had the lurking suspicion this meeting would end in death. "Assassination of Lady Charna. We'd heard the job was open and that at least two parties were looking for its fulfillment. But we are not fools. That is a job to be taken only by someone with a death wish."
The officer looked quietly at the people around him, still pointing his blaster at the man. He switched the weapon from stun to kill with one flick of a switch before turning to a random person who didn't belong to the pirates and shot him in the crotch.After which he turned back to the man and took a step closer.
"Let's try that again" he said and took yet another step towards the man, lowering the barrel of his blaster to point at his crotch. It was more of a threat to men than anything else. Live the rest of your life without sexual pleasure or die instantly. Not many would take the first choise.
"This time the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth"
"Leave the kid alone," Max said quietly. "He knows only what he was told to say."
He stepped forward. "Aislin Dantes brought us Ruben Shoal about two days ago. While she was still docked with us, a message came in to her ship. The assassination, as the boy described. Now, I've never been aboard her ship, but that thing's damn intelligent. It would have held the message until Dantes finished her business with us. After that, she'd likely head to the Outer Rim to research the job and prepare. There's a planet."
He rattled off the coordinates. "That's her most likely location at this moment."
The officer raised his gloved hand to where his ear and transmitter were, giving the coordinates to the flagship which would confirm the location. After it was confirmed the officer nodded, holstered his blaster and lowered his hand from his transmitter. The Stormers regrouped behind the officer.
"Thank you for your cooperation, gentlemen. Gentleman Roberts sends his regards" he said as the group backed away from the bridge, throwing what seemed to be a thermal detonator into the midst of the men. However, as soon as they had gone and the detonator clicked to blow up the bomb, only a puff of smoke escape with a small flag from the top with the Gentleman Roberts symbol on it.
Once the officer stepped onto the tube, he was the last of the pirates and without turning back they entered the wooden-hulled ships again which detached and as soon as they got a bit further off from the home ship they shut down the gravity wells and tractor beams, taking course for the coordinates given and jumping into hyperspace. But this was not done before sending a message to the nearest Dominion relay station which would forwards it throught many swift and untrackable places to the former LiMerge Building on Coruscant which now was a the Embassy of the Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions
"I don't like it," Max's second in command worried aloud. "To betray Aislin like that?"
"If the young Dantes is as good as we have seen, then she will be long gone before they arrive," Max answered quietly. He shook his head. "But enough of that. We have work to do. Get the ship up and running again. We've got to be moving again."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As Max had predicted, Aislin Dantes went to the planet in the Outer Rim. This little planet had gone mostly unnoticed to the galaxy, for it had no worthwhile resources to offer. Indeed, while it looked as if there could have been a small civilization living there in the past, the only life there now was animal. But here, unnoticed by the galaxy, Aislin had constructed a base of operations and here she began to study the job she'd been contacted to complete.
It was easy to find information on Charna. After all, she was a highly public figure. But it wasn't information on the woman herself that Aislin was looking for.
"Security details," Aislin murmured. "Who and what will be her guards?"
She scrolled through the information at high speed untill the words, 'Sith Hunter' caught her eye. She stopped. A Sith Hunter? Now, that made things hard. She ran a search in her databases for 'Rellis Thren' and found that the woman was only twenty-three years old.
"But even at that age, a Sith Hunter," she mused. But it was a challenge she loved. And if she had to fight off a Sith Hunter to get to the real job and the real challenge of killing Charna, then so be it.
"Prep yourself, Ceru," she called. "I'm on my way back."
Charna laughed lightly. "Hardly. This is Rellis Thren, one of Jahara's daughters. Sith Hunter. We've established that neither one of us knows Reibe's true reason for sending her. As we all know, I hardly need a bodyguard."
Rellis grinned and nodded in Tepe's direction. "A pleasure to meet you, Darth Tepe," she said. "If you'll excuse me, I was just about to go freshen up a little."
"And I was about to contact Reibe," Charna added. With a playful grin to Tepe, she asked, "I don't suppose you'd like to say hello?"
Rellis chuckled and departed, going to the room she'd been offered. Once she arrived, she examined the room for the audio and video bugs she knew would be in place. Though the Sith Hunters were not enemies of the Dominion, this was a precaution to be expected in every room. With a cheerful grin, she waved at one of the cameras and then went about her business.
When she had washed herself and redressed in clean clothing, Rellis went out onto the balcony adjacent to her room. It offered a breathtaking view of the surrounding areas, but that wasn't what interested the young Sith Hunter. She looked up for a moment and determined that it would be an easy climb to the roof, especially with the Force to aid her ascent.
In a matter of seconds, Rellis was perched atop the roof and she stared up into space. It was just beginning to go dark and the young woman turned to watch the sun set. Slowly, she closed her eyes, sank to her knees, and began to focus her energy. To anyone else, it would appear that she was meditating. But the thing she was actually doing took a great deal more focus, so much so that it impressed Reibe the young woman had been able to master it so quickly.
Rellis Thren was contacting the other Sith Hunters. But instead of shouting a message through the Force for all to hear, Rellis was using a far more focused technique. She channeled the Force into a narrow beam, shooting outward from the planet in such a focused point that it would be next to impossible for any other Force users to detect... unless they were on the receiving end. And Rellis' mother, Jahara, was on the receiving end.
Good to hear you've arrived safely, Jahara's voice echoed in Rellis' mind.
Reibe should have received a call from Charna by now, Rellis told her mother. She and Tepe are understandably curious concerning my presence.
Very understandable indeed, Jahara agreed. I only wish we could tell them the truth. But Reibe insisted on absolute secrecy. She was just as enigmatic as ever when Charna called and I hardly expect her to change her approach. This is a delicate matter, though. Perhaps she's right.
I don't pretend to understand that which completely mystifies me, Rellis said, amused. Reibe included. I'll contact you again later. It's been an hour... Charna must be wondering where I am.
Be safe, Jahara urged. And then the connection was severed. Smiling faintly, Rellis headed back to her room.
"I haven't used the title of Darth since I stopped being a Sith. You just call me Lord or Tepe, whichever suits you better" he said just before Rellis went into the next room.
"Although, Sith Hunters always have trouble with titles, were they their own or mine" he said and looked at the closed door for a while. Then he finally heard his wife's question and shook his head quietly.
"I'm lacking on my meditations and I think now is the time for catching up. I don't know how long this period of no disturbance will be there" the man said, walking to Charna and looked into her eyes before giving her a kiss. The man indeed had not meditated in months, maybe even a total year and his contact with the Force had diminished. He knew it was still there to be reached, but not as easily as he had done it before. This was told even by his eyes which had reverted back into their original state of blue irises. So he sat down and began his meditations, feeling a strong surge of power from the roof at some point. To the outside world he smiled with his eyes closed at the power.
'Sith Hunters...' he thought and would've shaken his head if it had not disturbed his meditation
In the end it had been so that the pirates got to the planet before Aislin could leave, but knowing just as well from the information they recieved what kind of a ship they were up against, they knew she could get away even after they blockaded the panet. They couldn't use their cannons due the small target and the possibility it would result in an orbital bombardment as Aislin dodged every bolt they sent at her. So they used a tactic that would cause minimal destruction to the planet. They powered up their quad-turbolaser turrets and point-defense laser cannons and began shooting low-power shots on the ground that made at best a larger patch of burnt grass than anything else. This was to flush the woman down and once a moving non-synthetic object went on the move they would power up the lasers and lock-on so they could immobilize it and pull it in with the tractor beams.
"Charna, what a pleasant surprise," Reibe said over the comm. Charna smiled faintly.
"Don't tease our intelligence, Reibe," she said gently. "You were expecting this."
"True," Reibe agreed. "You're calling in an attempt to uncover my reasons behind sending Rellis to you."
"Am I that transparent?" Charna asked, laughing softly. Reibe shook her head.
"I've had 2100 years of experience in reading people," she said. "In many cases, I know what their opinion of a situation is before they do."
"Rellis, then," Charna said. "Why have you sent her?"
"Consider it an advanced traning mission for her," Reibe answered. "Our informant net has indicated that the bounty hunter, Aislin Dantes has been contacted concerning the assassination bounty posted on you. She's not one to shy away from a challenge... and she's very good at what she does. Jensaarai training, or so I hear."
"I could subdue her in seconds," Charna remarked.
"As could Rellis," Reibe shot back. "However, Rellis is learning to fight without fully relying on the Force. Give her a chance. Challenge her to a sparring match, even. She's good enough, she could give you a run for your money without Force-aid. And yes, I've heard you've been practicing lately. I'm still highly confident in Rellis' skills."
"So you intend me to stand back and watch Rellis fight Aislin if the hunter comes here?" Charna asked.
"Aislin Dantes will come to you," Reibe said. "And what I want you to do is watch Rellis. She's highly skilled, but she has not fully learned control. If she begins to look as if she'll kill Aislin..."
"I'll intervene," Charna said quickly. "There is more to the young Dantes girl than meets the eye."
"That's all I ask of you," Reibe said. "Except to take good care of Rellis. Treat her like a daughter."
"How could I not?" Charna asked, smiling faintly. "The daughter of my best friend?"
Just as the connection closed, Charna sensed a powerful ripple in the Force coming from the roof. Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly and she hurried to the nearest balcony. From there, she ascended to the roof in a massive, Force-aided leap, just in time to see Rellis vanish from sight across the roof.
"What are the Hunters up to now?" Charna wondered aloud. With that, she returned to her quarters. Perhaps she'd have a talk with Rellis later.
"Low-level shots detected on the surface," Ceru warned as Aislin reached the ship. "Looks like our pirate pals found us... no doubt with aid from the Greater Stars."
"Max would say it's just good business practice," Aislin muttered. She sighed. "Well, he said their objective was to LICE us. What better way to uncover their employer than to have them take us directly to them?"
"You want to surrender?" Ceru gasped. "Whatever for?"
"I have a lurking suspicion we know who the pirates' employer is," Aislin answered. "Like Max said, there's only a few people in the galaxy who've got the status required to send a full fleet of pirates without leaving a trace. And I suspect this employer is going to put us in perfect position to fulfil the job we've been hired for."
She switched on the comm system. "This is Aislin Dantes of the Cerulean Eye," she said. "Word has it, you've been hired to locate, intercept, capture, and escort me. I intend to cooperate. Might I ask where we'll be going?"
A beep on Tpe's belt caught his attention even from deep meditation. He had been disturbed enough times during his meditations that he knew the awful sound even if he tried desperately to ignore it. Opening his eyes just as Charna rushed past, he raised and eyebrow before taking out the holopad from his belt. The image of his assistant appeared, bowing.
"What is it?" he asked and looked at the now straightening up man.
"My Lord, the IIA has found a hidden message within the Imperial HoloNet. They are planning to attack Coruscant within the hour. The Ambassador has decided upon immediate evacuation. The Mjolnir has been prepped for immediate departure from the system" the assistant told the Lord and Tepe nodded.
"Good. Inform the Galactic Alliance of the attack and keep the embassy keeping watch on the ships in the battle. I have a feeling the Sith are involved in this. Activate the Reserves and get them defend our planet. However, send word to the captain to head for my retreat on Ansion. Have the system's garrisons prepare for it and enhance security" he said and then switched the holopad off after the assistant bowed.
Standing up, Tepe took a deep breath. Both Charna's and Tepe's personal guards came in, or at least those who were with them, and formed rows next to the door.
"Charna, Rellis! We're evacuating. The Imperials are about to attack Coruscant and we're leaving for Ansion" he shouted and marched to the door to wait with the guards.
The Quarren captain answered the message with a cold silence for a moment while the ships seized firing at the planet to avoid any more damage to the wildlife.
"You'll see soon enough. Leave the planet and let our tractor beams pull you in. Once onboard you will be sealed in a force cage. For security measures. When we arrive to our destination, you shall know where we are" the pirate explained
"Force cage?" Ceru cut in. "She's agreed to cooperate. That should mean her treatment should be a little less extreme."
"This isn't a negotiation, Ceru," Aislin scolded. "The force cage ensures my inability to escape. Given my track record on escapes, I can see why they'd insist."
"I am on the record as seriously against this plan," Ceru muttered. The ship powered on and flew through a series of underground tunnels before emerging and flying up toward the blockade.
Once the ship had left atmosphere it was grabbed by several tractor beams on the flagship which began to pull it towards it. However. the location of it's hangar was abnormal, as the tractor beams pulled her close, then new tractor beams began pulling her upwards to the main deck while the lower tractor beams let go. Once above the main deck, new tractor beams once again took over and led her spat in the middle of the deck and inside the force field around it. The smaller ship was carefully then lowered onto the deck and several heavy repeating blaster cannons around the deck were manned and aimed at the ship.
Once the ship had touched the deck, Stormers marched from below the deck and proceeded within the captured vessel to temporarily deactivate the AI and escort the prisoner onboard and into the prison cell. By the time she was escorted out of her ship, the pirate vessel had turned it's bow for the black space and began the jump to hyperspace. And when the group turned to see to the deck once in the large turbolift, the stars were already wooshing past.
The force field of the force cage hummed into activity in a several foot radius around Aislin and the Stormers stood to their places. If she reached around herself wit the force she could clearly sence the Stormers, but not as organic men and women of various species, but rather as droids. To be truthful, all of them were various designs of battle, guard and assassin droids with the exoskeleton changed to become that of the Stormers. And to lower the costs to minimum, they were mostly originally deactivated Yuuzhan Vong Hunter -droid series. However, the officers clad in blue were of many humanoid species in charge of the actions of the droids.
((I'll be making a time jump soon to get everyone together, just so y'all know))
((You can still post past events, but this will be the time jump point))
== Time Jump ==
The tribal tent and it's surroundings were busy with Ansionians and their mount animals. Nearby was a herd belonging the tribes and it seemed like an occasional get-together. However, the two middle tents were larger than usual. This meant that someone much higher was present and more people than usually were present were expected to arrive. And that was to an amount true. In the second large tent was a Dominion shuttle, it's ramp down and passengers outside. Outside the ramp stood two guards, one wearing green and the other red and both having a firm hold of a strap holding their rifles behind their backs but easily drawn out for a firefight. Inside the shuttle, backs to the opposite wall of the ramp, stood a similar pair at guard, making sure that if anyone got past the first guards without a clearance, they wouldn't get past them.
In the smaller tents it was buzzing. While on the outside it was just a tribal meeting, inside it was a mobile military-grade operation. The local garrison had been called to assist on creating the sharade with the locals and now it was going quite well. A man walked out of the second larger tent, clad in brown shades and wearing a poncho. He walked to one of the medium-sized tents originally meant for storage but were now used as small command centers, each of the eight tents having it's own meaning in the overall process. The poncho-wearing man entered one of the tents and walked to the holotable opening up infront of him and looked at the other men and women surrounding the table, some being holographic in from.
"Sir, the second battle over Coruscant has ended. We are expecting the Empire-Sith Dominion alliance to try and break through somewhere in the nearby systems so it doesn't need to every time to circle via the Unknown Regions. All of our fleets are at high readiness and IIA has been alerted to intercept all messages between the Empire and Sith Dominion" the Lord's assistant said and recieved an accepting nod as a responce. Tepe then turned to one of the holographic images, who happened to be Emukiel, one of the Lord's oldest and most trusted advisors who had been with him since the beginning and now acted as the Head of Speech in the Council of Governors.
"The Governors have spoken with their regions' leaders and the concensus is that if we are to attack, it should be in defence and not attack. They will keep all reserves active and training in case, but they do not wish to send them into a meaningless war" the Weequay said and looked at Tepe.
"Bah... They are all weak nowadays. Back when the Dominion was new and had gone through four wars in a short amount of time, I had people I could rely on if a war was to come. Now corruption and weakness has overcome even my upper ladder of government. Have the secret services check up on every single leader we have. Even the generals. If they show any sign of weaknessor hesitation in an act of war or disobey direct orders, have them removed from office and replaced with someone with a bit more attitude like the men of my day" Tepe said before looking at the doorway where a messenger stood.
"My Lord, Lady Charna wishes your presence in the main tent. The entertainment is about to begin. Also, we have recieved word that a pirate vessel is approaching for planetfall. Apparently it is the flagship of Gentleman Roberts" he said and Tepe nodded, walking off with him to observe the entertainment the locals had provided to them in honor of their visit.
When he sat down in the small booth constructed to them right opposite to the doorway to the large tent, he placed his hand on the hand of his loving wife, Lady Charna.
Meanwhile, the pirate ship entered atmosphere and six large hatches opened, letting out three pairs of landing gears before setting down near the Lord's little sharade. Aislin had been removed from her force cage upon planetfall and escorted to the main deck where a speeder waited for them. And so it was that once she was in the large speeder, surrounded by four Stormers and one of the Stormer officers as well as the driver, she got her first glimpse upon the pirate who captured him. Gentleman Roberts walked into the speeder with his first mate and sat down, giving a smile to Aislin while sitting down.
The speeder left off for the tribal tents where they would hand over the prisoner and her ship if the Lord would ask for it.
Aislin was the perfect image of calm as the pirates led her to the larger speeder. She was not interested in resisting them and now that they'd actually landed, she felt even more at ease.
"Ansion," she said aloud. She had been there once before and had done extensive research to be prepared for anything. If necessary, she could escape the pirates' employer here. But she didn't think she'd have to. If she was right, the pirates were bringing her directly to her target.
Gentleman Roberts looked at the prisoner and smiled. She had recognized the planet nearly instantly. Only more reason for them to keep a keen eye on her. The first mate had a comlink headset on his head and leaned on to the captain, whispering something. The Quarren pirate nodded as a response. Once the view opened up to the small tribal village the captain turned to see Aislin.
"After you step outside of this speeder, you will be an official guest of our employer and not a prisoner. You are free to go, but our employer has wished you to attend the entertainment in the main tent" Roberts said and stood up, walked to the door and watched the speeder set down before the doors opened.
Gentleman Roberts and his first mate walked out of ths ship and were greeted immediately by who seemed by the native Alwari, except for the point that they used technology, which they usually shun and despise. This was a definate give-away, but the sharade wasn't planned to fool anyone close-up, but rather make people dismiss the idea of an undercover-operation when passing by or trying to infiltrate with a probe. After the two had been greeted, Aislin was walked out, released and the Stormers walked off with the Pirate captain. They headed for the main tent where from echoed he sounds of music and cheering. Indeed, currently there was a dance troupe, one of the many who wished to gain name for themselves in the galaxy by performing for world leaders, performing their routine with the music provided by a local musical group.
Jedi Master Kol Skywalker sat amongst the crowd, watching the show when the pirates entered. Turning first to see the pirates, he then turned his eyes for the Lord who watched Gentleman Roberts and his people enter and take the nearest available seats as theirs. The Jedi Knights of Ossus had much changed since his ancestor, Luke Skywalker, was Grand Master. Even if the Skywalker line had stayed as influential and powerful, the order had changed and Kol's father had been the only other Grand Master from the Skywalkers. By the time Ben Skywalker died, the Ossus Jedi had given up trying to fight over the matter of the Coruscant and Ossus Jedi both calling themselves the New Jedi Order while serving as completely different organizations. So the name was changed with unanimous vote of the Jedi Council of Ossus that they were to be renamed, and so they became the Order of Paladins, working everywhere in the Galaxy but the Sith Dominion, even if many have tried to limit them to Tepe's Dominion.
Many Paladins were present as well as other political figures and higher ranking officers from a relatively unknown military organization. A private legion of sorts in charge of security of Ossus. They wore light grey uniforms of either naval or army design, depending on which service line they belonged to. In a way they were the last line of defence before the enemy got to the paladins, and as so they were all given extensive training, way more than the average soldier, and conducted as many as four full-scale war-games per year with the opposition ranging from units fresh out of boot camp to the personal fleet and army of the Lord himself. There was sufficent number of men and women there to defend the Royal Family if need be. That is, if the family so requested. Taking all from the family were force users and rather powerful ones at that, they were defended rather well by themselves as well as the single Sith Hunter amongst the crowd in charge of protection of the Lady.
Aislin was startled at being called a guest. Whoever it was that wanted her LICE'd was either very rich, very brave, or both. More importantly, she wondered why she hadn't been stripped of her weapons. Cautiously curious, she moved over to the larger tent and slid inside. Just inside the tent, she stopped abruptly. Her eyes flew directly to Lord Tepe and Charna at his side. Next to Charna, she recognized Rellis Thren. The Hunter stared at her for a moment as if warning her not to try anything.
It wasn't the Hunter's presence that dissuaded Aislin from engaging now. She knew from her research that all of Tepe's family were Force sensitive on some level. In addition to them, there were the numerous Paladins scattered through the crowd. This would be a very bad day to draw a weapon against the Queen. And Aislin had not remained alive as a bounty hunter for this long by taking unnecessary risks.
She thought she should run. Her mind screamed at her that running was the best option. But she wouldn't. That would confirm to her 'hosts' that she intended to hunt one of them. She cursed her lack of preparation for this... and moved forward, causing a brief focus shift. Many eyes watched her approach Tepe and Charna and many hands went to weapons.
"Lord Tepe, Lady Charna," she greeted, bowing respectfully. Then, she sat off to one side of them, every muscle on high alert. She had to be prepared for anything, for this was a highly unusual situation for the young bounty hunter... and she didn't like it at all.
Wolf Sazen sat quietly with his apprentice until Aislin entered the tent. Cade turned to see her and then to his master, nodding towards her.
"Who is she?" he asked, having noticed all the hands going for the men and womens' weapons. Master Sazen looked at Cade and then at Aislin nefore grunting.
"A bounty hunter. No doubt here with the pirates" he said and nodded towards the pirates who had sat down only moments ago. Their looks were then drawn by Tepe who stood up once Aislin had taken a seat. Raising his hands to silence everyone, he cleared his throat.
"Paladins, officers, guests and performing artists, please continue this wonderful gathering. For me and the Queen, we must take a short rest from this all. Refreshments shall be served within the next ten minutes" he announced and led Charna out of the booth, stopping by the Sith Hunter.
"Bring the bounty hunter into the shuttle. I wish to have a word with her. Do not harm her. Do not make a scene. Just escort her to the shuttle" he said and lef Charna off. They entered the shuttle, giving the guards the notice of the bounty hunter's invitation with the Sith Hunter. They eventually sat on two seats in a larger room in the shuttle and rexieced refreshments. Tepe sipped to his cold water quietly and smiled, waiting for Aislin to arrive.
((Got my computer back a few days ago, but I've been busy. This is the first chance I've had to post. Told you I wasn't going away for good, didn't I Tepe? :p ))
Charna watched her husband in silence, a faint smile on her face. "You've gotten better at hiding your thoughts from me," she remarked. "What are you thinking?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Rellis nodded, indicating she understood what Tepe wanted of her. After the Lord and his Lady left the tent, the Hunter rose and moved across to where Aislin sat. Sure, Tepe had told her merely to escort the bounty hunter to the shuttle, but Rellis was a Sith Hunter in both nature and training. And that meant she wasn't keen on taking orders from anyone except her leader. So she sat down next to Aislin.
"I'm not going to let you play dumb," she said bluntly. "You know exactly who I am. Furthermore, while finishing buisness with the Greater Stars, you received a job request to kill Charna. The Sith Hunters detected no confirmation from you, but we understand that you sometimes don't confirm jobs until after you complete them. So I'm asking you plainly, are you going to try to follow through on this job?"
Aislin tensed visibly when Rellis sat down next to her and Rellis's bluntness only made her more uncomfortable.
"I hadn't decided," she answered honestly. "I wanted first-hand observation before making a final decision. Thanks to your friends, the Lord and Lady, that has become possible. More than possible. Now I don't view either of them as idiots, but this seems to be a critical error in judgment on their part. So either I've placed my level of respect for their wisdom too high or I've somewhat underestimated their level of preparedness."
She looked around the tent and added, "Seems to be an underestimation on my part..."
"I no longer think" Tepe answered and turned to smile upon her wife. It was a playful smile, yet somehow it had a string of truth wrapped around it. He turned to see the door and then shook his head.
"I wanted her out of the tent before she lost her nerve to do what she was sent here to do. Now she can try without having Paladins all around her to stop her" he then said and sighed.
"There is something very odd in this situation. And it is not helping that the power surge I got when Reibe and Strider clashed in battle is dying down. I have become slower, less able with the force and cannot foresee things as clearly as I could before. I think I am becoming more and more willing to just return to a place like Welmin's was and deal with issues when they came up instead of bossing everyone around into getting ready for things to come" Tepe said and turned to Charna once more.
"My emotions are betraying me, the Force is abandoning me and my most trusted men are pushing me. I wish it were still the times of expansion. When none could defy me and I was still strong enough to fight Strider or Riebe into a standstill"
"Perhaps a time will come when that is your path," Charna said quietly, touching his hand lightly. "And when that day comes, we will slip into history, you and I. Until then, there is work to be done..." She did not add that she thought of the coming situation with Aislin and Rellis to be one of the more important pieces of work they had yet to do.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"An evasive answer," Rellis growled softly. "I don't like evasion. Come with me." Light but firm, Rellis' right hand wrapped around Aislin's left arm, forcing her to stand as the Hunter stood. "The Lord and Lady wish to see you away from the other guests."
Keeping her hand where it was, Rellis lead the way out of the tent, practically forcing Aislin before her.
As soon as the Hunter's hand wrapped around her arm, the anger within Aislin began to skyrocket. She hated being forced into anything, even if the 'escort' would lead her into a situation she wanted to face. As soon as they were out of the tent, Aislin wrenched her arm away from Rellis.
"You don't like evasion," she growled softly, "so I am going to be very clear. I intended to keep my options open on the assassination of Lady Charna and I still intend to do so. If the chance to execute the job appears, then you'd better believe I'm going to jump for it. The challenge is what I appreciate, as I'm sure you know, and your presence only adds to the challenge, adds to the elements enticing me to go for it."
She drew a blaster in her left hand, and the hazy orange blade of her lightsaber came to life in her right hand. "So you tell me, Rellis Thren. Is my bluntness enough for you to feel I'm truly a threat to your friends in the shuttle?"
As soon as the hiss of Aislin's blade sounded in the tent where the shuttle was located, several clicks around her sounded as well. Even if she could not see where the clicks came from, they were clearly heard to be those of weapon safeties switching off. Only moments afterwards from inside the ship, behind crates and the cover of the landing gears came out the Dominion Guards lying in guard around the tent. all of their gun barrels pointed at Aislin, even if their captain stepped out of the ship and decended down the ramp.
"Sith Hunter Thren, you were to bring the bounty hunter immediately. It seems you have stretched the meaning of the term to a rather loose one" the captain said and then turned to Aislin.
"And you, bounty hunter, are wished in the lounge" the captain continued calmly.
As soon as Aislin's lightsaber was in her hand, Rellis' saber was out and lit, the blade gleaming violet, a brilliant contrast to the dull orange of Aislin's blade. At the captain's words, Rellis stubbornly shook her head.
"She has just openly threatened Charna's safety," she countered. "And yes, I know that both Charna and Tepe are capable of defending themselves, but this is why I'm here. Don't worry. She'll make it to the lounge in one piece..."
"You're a loose cannon, Sith Hunter," Aislin said, switching her saber off. Turning to the captain, she inclined her head and commanded, "If Rellis Thren will disobey a direct order from the Lord and Lady, I must turn to someone who will not. Lead the way to the lounge, if you will."
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