SW: TOR: RECKONING OF A LOST SOUL: A PRIME CANDIDATE
Part Five of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter
CORUSCANT, NEAR DENON YEPTI'S CAMPAIGN HQ, 1200 HOURS
The Kaminoan-engineered "metamorphosis" of Qyzen Fess and me had taken just slightly over two hours, which was a remarkable feat. Apparently, Noha Sa was treading the razor's edge of his chosen profession, which was all the better for us! My own pale skin, now a gorgeous medium tan, stood in sharp contrast to Qyzen's regenerative pale green scales. As a part of his new look, Noha Sa had also fitted him with a complimentary electronic eye, courtesy of the Sith Empire. Even though he was more than grateful for it, my Trandoshan companion was having a little trouble adjusting: "Why can I look all the way up right now, Agent Stavros?"
he hissed uneasily. "I'm gazing at my own left eyelid!"
The Imperial operative flashed a hand in front of his face to help him re-focus, and then told him he should stymie all his facial tics.
"That's very helpful,"
he replied in a tone between a grumble and a roar. I lay a hand on his forearm and helped him practice seeing his environment a bit more slowly. He was more reassured by my familiar voice than his new eye, however. "Why couldn't I simply have worn an eyepatch, along with the metamorphosis? I look noticeably different from my 'old' self."
"Nevertheless," Agent Stavros replied, "it's better not to take any chances and draw untoward attention to yourself. Most Trandoshani in your position have already been fitted with electronic eyes, as you probably well know! If it starts twitching, simply say that it's a new implant and you're 'breaking it in', so to speak. Now, you two, listen to me very carefully..." We did. She was giving us a briefing on who we were and why we were visiting Denon Yepti's campaign headquarters. "You're bodyguards, so act tough. I've already told another contact at the HQ about the need to hire some before Yepti goes 'pressing palms with the common people' today. There's no telling what kind of riff-raff he could run into here in the heart of Coruscant! In some parts of this planet-wide city, 'VOTE FOR ME!' are three words beginning a death warrant."
"Gotcha," I said. "Politics is a dirty business." Even for Jedi, sometimes...
"Watch Yepti and let him do his thing," Stavros continued, "but, remember, the one you're really
watching is Karos. She says she's his 'PR agent', and that's why she's going along with him to shake hands and kiss babies."
"Right," I interjected, "and so we should pay careful attention to what she says, especially if Yepti ever 'goes off script'. By the way, who is he? I don't think you ever gave us the complete run-down on him. What's his story?"
"You might say he's had a revelation," she answered, smiling coolly. "He used to be part of an organization that still endangers the lives of millions, albeit inadvertently. Then we, meaning the Sith, helped him to see the light. No one else does, though. As far as the average human or alien on the street goes, he's simply a highly-conservative candidate who favors a strong defense, law and order, and guns over butter--all of which fit in with our goals nicely."
"But what does he say about the poor and disenfranchised?" Oops--there's some of my Jedi training leaking out,
I suddenly thought, biting my lower lip. Don't kill me, Stavros! I'm doing what you say, when you say it, so I don't deserve to die just yet.
The Imperial agent's smile curved into a smirk. "Almost nothing, despite your charming naivete, and when he does, he says they should take their lives into their own hands and work. Sink or swim! As you may or may not suspect, he's our puppet candidate for the Galactic Senate, and a prime one as well. We've almost never had anyone of his former stature turn to us so readily. It's nearly as if..." She shook her head. "Never mind. We're here. Actually, we're five blocks from headquarters, and here's where I'm dropping you off. Say hello to Master Karos for me, but if you mention me, you're done. I need you two, despite your hazy references. Remember: if you kriff
up, you die."
Qyzen and I saluted Agent Stavros crisply and climbed out of the speeder in which we'd arrived. We had no trouble traversing the five blocks to a sleek transparisteel building that meshed with its neighbors instead of towering over them. A smart strategy,
I thought, if you're Sith and don't want anyone else to suspect it. Blend in with the crowd, and you'll do just fine.
There she was: Master Karos in all her glory, trim in a three-piece suit and lapel microphone. No trace of the Force seemed to radiate from her, although as we drew closer, we could sense intense heat pulsing from inside her body. She seemed not to recognize us at first glance. Good.
"Who are you?" she asked with matter-of-fact brusqueness. "The heavies?"
"From Teriton SecuriCorp," I replied in the same tone. "We're Trossk and Vesta." Qyzen carried the heaviest assault rifle I had ever seen in my entire life, and I was armed with two intensely-modified vibroblades. "Sitrep?" This meant situation report,
according to Stavros, and Master Karos said:
"Yepti's ready to get going, although he had to 'use the refreshers.'" She gave a frown that said, Why can't rising politicians at least have the common sense to get their bowels in order before they come to work?
I had to laugh inwardly, although I kept a pazaak player's unreadable gaze on my face. "There he is," she said after a few moments, pointing, "in the slate-gray suit."
There he was,
Black hair, greased with salon-quality gel.
Olive skin, with a slight tinge of yellow. Also well-tanned, just like me.
Muscular build, befitting his ruggedly-individualistic persona perfectly.
Significant height: 6'10". Hard to miss, with him dwarfing Master Karos.
However, you can't completely erase a Force signature without severing yourself from it so deeply that it causes a wound, no matter how hard you try. Meetra Surik, the Exile, had taught us this, and I remembered the lesson well. It was all that "Trossk" and I could do to contain ourselves at the sight of this smooth, sleek, and amoral "prime candidate" whom we'd once known.
"I'm Denon Yepti," he said, giving us a politician's "once-over" glance. He didn't know us, either, but instead of security, this plunged me into despair. I would have risked our cover being blown, and an all-out skirmish in the streets, us versus Karos, if he had reached out and seen me for whom I was:
His Padawan, now and for always, though I served the Sith at present.
This was no other than Yun Xiaolin, captured, tortured, and molded to serve.
"Trossk" and I nodded. "Move out!" Master Karos ordered all three of us.