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Star Wars--So[m]ething Something Evil Rises (Jabba x Firesblood)

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Offline Firesblood

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Esbern studied him silently for a moment, then answered with a small salute.  “Carry on, sir.  You know where I’ll be if you need assistance,” he muttered, the barest trace of disappointment in his voice.

With that, the Old man shuffled past him and headed to their shared quarters, hands shoved in his pockets again.   

The information that Reynik acquired from Jiggs proved to be a minor update on the very same information that Marigon herself had been given.  The data matched the records they had on board the ship, though it did include more recent sightings and developments.  At least ten people remained behind long-term on Nar Shaddaa, no doubt to recruit new people into their cause.  There was plenty of traffic going in, but only half were ever seen again—all of them leaving by body bag.  The other half simply disappeared, and Jiggs had been unsuccessful in tracking down how they were getting out, or even which ship they were somehow filtering into unseen.

They were cagey and watchful.  Attacking head on was unadvised.     


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik spent the next few hours lying on his bunk going through the information as thoroughly as possible. He frowned; it was hardly an easy situation to work through, but he was determined to handle it in the best way.

Eventually, he got up, sighing softly as he stashed his datapads in his pack, sliding it underneath his bunk. There was something very different about reading reports and seeing the situation for yourself.

He could hear Esbern outside, by the sounds of it checking something with the engine. Reynik made his way down the hatch, pausing just outside the door to look at his pilot.

"I won't be long." He muttered quietly and then turned, heading off towards the area where the sect had been reported.

He pulled up the hood on his flight jacket, hiding his face as much as possible, but in a place like Nar Shaddaa, he blended in. Apparently there were around ten members of the sect left here, but Reynik did not expect to come across any of them, not on his first pass. As he neared the location, he kept his gaze fixed firmly in front of him, yet he felt out with the force, getting a far more detailed picture than just with his eyes alone.

On this level of the city, few strayed unless they absolutely had to, so Reynik opened up dialogue with a scrap merchant, claiming that he was looking to buy. Of course, the merchant didn't have what he wanted right then and there and he left, with the excuse built up to be able to return.

Instead of heading back to the ship, Reynik headed higher up in the city, looking not for the command areas, but areas that he could use to access them without fear of getting caught.

Again, he made himself appear as unobtrusive as possible, hiding in shadows when the security personel made their rounds. He found the waste disposal centre, knowing that something like that, certainly in a place like Nar Shaddaa, would barely be watched.

Here, he found an unattended computer panel and pulled out a small interface panel. He worked quickly, bypassing the rudimentary security systems, looping back to the command unit system, searching until he had found what he was looking for, a list of the ships that came and went over the last few months along with the details of who owned them. He had already seen a similar list on the data that Jiggs had sold him, but he was interested in the anomalies, data that could slip through the cracks.

He found the ship that Marigon had been tracked out of. He knew that the specified destination of a trading centre on the outer rim was false, but he knew that the owner of the ship was much harder to falsify. The merchant was named Taylon and Reynik made a note to track him down. He searched on the ship's serial number and could see that it was a regular visitor, always listing the trade port on the outer rim as its final destination.

Hearing the sound of someone approaching, Reynik unplugged his device and flattened himself against the wall. He gave a slight wave of his hand, clouding the mind of the maintenance worker so that he was not seen. Once the coast was clear, he headed back to the ship.


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern only nodded when Reynik mentioned he was leaving, continuing to work on his maintenance tasks.  When the Sith returned, he was in the same place doing the same thing, though he was in the process of buttoning up the job. 

Upon sight of Reynik, he wiped his hands on his trusty rag and gave a small nod of acknowledgement, his expression careful.  The length of time that Reynik was gone suggested that he had been doing a thorough job, and while Esbern had been tempted to follow or watch him via the copious security feeds available in the Nar Shaddaa sectors, he had resisted.  He wanted to see what the kid could do and how well he could do it, and this was his chance.  Between the length of time he had spent studying the pre-gathered material that Jiggs had given him and whatever it was he had been doing while he’d been out, Esbern had more than a little hope that his expectations would be met.  Few Sith he had known over the years ever collected more info than was required to wreak havoc upon their enemies.  If Reynik proved himself different, than maybe he wasn’t so bad and could be trusted with the more sensitive aspects of the mission ahead of them.  After all, Marigon had mentioned that Cygius had been wanting Reynik for his operation for a while, and whatever else Cygius was, he had an eye for the best sort of people for what they did. 

“What did you discover?  Anything new?” He asked gruffly.  He wasn’t certain whether Reynik would answer or not or whether the young man would include him in his plans, but he still wanted to get the point across that regardless of differences, he was there to help.       


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Too early to tell." Reynik's face twitched violently as he spoke. He still did not know if he could trust the pilot, especially considering his history and the conversation that he had overheard earlier.

He was well aware that his every move was being scrutinised by this man, reporting back to Marigon at the very least. Who else he reported to remained to be seen.

Reynik left it at that, heading inside the ship to his bunk. He sat down cross legged, his back leaning against the wall and he set his lightsaber down in front of him.

Closing his eyes, he began to meditate, using the lightsaber as a focal point. Using the force alone, he lifted it up and began to dismantle it whilst keeping it steady. The casing opened up, revealing the crystal within. Feeling the different parts, he rebuilt it slowly and when it was completed, he started the process again. It was a technique that his master had taught him, using it as a way to regain control over his own senses, particularly the pain that was almost constant in his first few months of training. Even now, meditation was an essential part of his routine.


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern considered him silently, then nodded rather than pressing the issue.  It was Reynik’s prerogative to keep his discoveries to himself; the outcome could be judged just the same. 

He watched the Sith return to their quarters and then went to the communications room, dialing in the appropriate channel to Darth Cygius.  As usual, Esbern was made to wait by the Keeper that organized the bulk of Cygius’ missions, a quiet man with only slightly less cybernetic implants than Cygius himself.  There was no idle chat between the two of them as the silence stretched on, but several minutes later Cygius appeared on the holo. 

“Report, Hullis.”

Esbern straightened from digging out a crust of grime beneath his fingernails and nodded in greeting.  “Marigon reported in, lord.  She’s alive.  Still digging out the originating signal of her call though; could take a few days or even a week.  It’s highly complex.”

Cygius shifted and his gaze drifted down for a brief moment.  “…She did not run into trouble as suspected?”

“No, and I don’t mind telling you that I told you so,” Esbern growled, crossing his arms over his chest defensively.  Cygius, who had more years of experience with Esbern than most anyone, let this slide. 

“And what information did she have for you?”

“Nothing yet, just that she’s landed safe and was successful in infiltrating the Exiled, lord.  The call was short.  She didn’t have much time.”  Esbern hesitated, scratching at the mess of scar tissue on the back of his neck.  “There was a complication with her carbonite freezing, though.  Turns out the job was imperfect.  She woke up blind like most people do when they come out of carbonite at first, only….only it didn’t come back for her.”

Cygius stroked his chin, his thin mouth pressing thinner.  “Hardly a death sentence for a force user, but this does complicate things.  There is a reason why many of our kind choose cybernetic replacements if something happens to our sight.  Certainly one can use the force to see after a fashion, but such abilities are usually only obtained after trespassing a path more often walked by heretics and Jedi,” he said, spitting the word ‘Jedi’ like a curse. “This could complicate things, especially given her current company.”

“With all due respect, Darth Cygius, Marigon isn’t a traitor,” Esbern snapped defensively.

“Perhaps, but even the most loyal could suffer doubt when faced with something so life altering as losing one of one’s most important senses.  Were she here instead of nestled in a den of rebels, my concerns would be less.  I suppose we have no choice but to wait and see.  Send me your report of the conversation and I will decide how we will proceed.  Inform me once you have managed to track the communication source.”

Esbern gave a silent nod, his jaw setting tightly. 

“And my newest acquisition?” Cygius asked, changing the subject abruptly.

Esbern gave another short nod.  “So far, so good.  His self-control is impressive.  He’s cagey, but that’s a positive trait in this line of work.”

“How close is he to completing his mission?”

Esbern shrugged. 

Cygius’ eyes narrowed.  “You do not know?”

“Like I said, lord.  Cagey.”

“Is it not your job to pay attention to these things, Handler?”

“You wanted judgement on how he handles himself, and you’ll have your answer when all is said and done same as me.  This isn’t a test to see how well he works on a team, it’s a test to see if he has the appropriate skills to get the job done our way.  He can either work well with his own leads, or he can’t.  He either climbs the rope he’s been offered, or he hangs himself with it.  The choices are all his.” Esbern said gruffly, going back to digging out the dirt beneath his nails.  “Personally though, I think he’ll probably do just fine.”

“If you say so, but I do not enjoy being kept in the dark.  You know this.” Cygius said

“I do say so.  As for being kept in the dark, you’ll just have to deal with it.  That’s the nature of the beast.” Esbern replied firmly.  “That’s all I have to report.  Any further orders?”

“No.  As you were—oh and Hullis?” Cygius queried, head tilting slightly.  The old man merely raised an eyebrow in answer.  “I can still activate the chip in your head and blow your skull to a million tiny pieces if the whim takes me.  I know it must be difficult to learn new habits when one is of your advanced age, but…you will observe the proper courtesies expected of you when next we speak, or I will be finding a more respectful and obedient Handler to take your place.  She is not there to shield you from my wrath now.”       

Esbern scowled, but bowed his head after a beat of hesitant reluctance.  “Yes, Darth Cygius.”

The transmission cut without another word between them, but Esbern muttered several obscenities as he left the communications room and headed for his bunk.

The old man came upon the sight of Reynik’s meditation, and rather than entering the room properly, he stayed just inside the door and watched.  Most Sith in his experience meditated on their rage, letting it seethe until one could feel it clear across the ship.  Marigon had been different; she preferred the rarely viewed meditations used by her race.  Reynik’s way was more unique than even her method, however.  It was practiced, controlled.  Lightsabers could be deadly to the wielder if even a single component was off, but as he dismantled the weapon and reassembled it, Esbern couldn’t help but note how flawlessly the young Sith did.  He had no right to the pride that he felt, but he felt it just the same.  It spoke greater volumes as to Reynik’s character than anything else had so far. 

Yeah…the kid will do just fine, Esbern thought to himself again, with no small amount of approval. 

Careful to disrupt Reynik as little as possible, Esbern moved with a surprising silence to his bunk and got into it, wincing in discomfort at the hard mat that was the ship’s excuse for a bed.  He didn’t sleep, but rather watched and waited. 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik could sense Esbern's presence before he even appeared in the doorway. During his meditation moments, Reynik was more in tune with the force than ever before and sometimes, he found that he was able to sense a person's motives and feelings. He wasn't sure whether the older man would have mental shielding, especially considering how he could withstand both physical and mental torment.

To his surprise, Reynik found that he could sense more than he had expected to be able to. The pilot actually seemed to be impressed, even if it was just a touch of the sentiment; that was more than enough. There was frustration, irritation and mistrust, all of which Reynik had expected to see, but it was not clear exactly who those feelings were directed at.

Gently, Reynik reassembled the lightsaber and lowered it to rest lightly on the bunk in front of him.

"Any news?" He asked, his eyes remaining shut.


Offline Firesblood

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“No,” Esbern said, peering at the wall an arm’s length away.  Nothing new had come up, and even the brief chat with Cygius had offered no new insights.  He was still reluctant to tell Reynik much of anything regarding Marigon, though it was more from a place of paternal protectiveness than anything else.  But perhaps… 

“I recalled the information from Marigon’s call,” He finally said, deciding to offer some small amount of trust.  “It will take a while to unbury the signal and track it to it’s originating planet, but I am working on it.  If and when the answers come…I’ll share it.”  The old man said this with no small amount of reluctance, but it wasn’t exactly personal, at least not against Reynik himself.  The silence stretched on a moment, and Esbern sighed. 

“You gotta understand…The Empire stole any chance I ever had at having a family of my own a long time ago.  She’s the closest thing to one of my own kids that I’ll ever have, so…it’s nothing personal against you.  I’m…afraid for her.  She’s never done anything like this before, and when you showed up…I wasn’t sure that you wouldn’t jeopardize her life more than it already is.  But…but you seem to be a good kid in your own right, so…I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now.”  Esbern gave him a sarcastic grin, flashing a few gaps where some of his teeth had gone missing over the years. “I know, that means the world to you, don’t it?” 


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Good." Reynik replied softly, his eyes remaining closed. It was a start, even if it wasn't much.

He opened his eyes as Esbern continued, turning his head to look at him.

"We know the risks." He replied softly. "That's part of our training."

He paused; they had both been slaves, but their experiences with the empire had been very different. For Reynik, the Sith lord had saved him from an unpleasant death and given him freedom. No doubt Esbern already knew that; the security lock on his records would be easy enough for a man like that to bypass.

"I'm here to do a job, part of that means finding my predecessor. I do not plan on killing her."

He paused again, choosing his words before he spoke them. He kept his voice soft.

"If you have any further information that could help me with this, then I would appreciate your assistance."


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern turned to eye Reynik more closely, searching for any sign that he was lying.  Whatever he saw seemed to assure him that Reynik was speaking the truth, and he gave the young Sith a small, satisfied nod.  “I believe you,” he murmured, voice barely above a whisper. 

Esbern had understood from the beginning what being a Sith meant for Marigon.  It was part of the reason why, while shuttling the little girl from her homeworld to the academy on Korriban, that he had been so sorely tempted to alter course and take her to Coruscant and to the Jedi instead.  Had there been any way to do so, the old man would have done it in a heartbeat.  He still thought that he should have hung the risks and done it anyway; even after surviving Korriban and her apprenticeship under Cygius, he still feared for her and her survival, still felt that she was ill-equipped for a life twisted beyond recognition by the dark side.  It didn’t seem to matter that she always managed to find her way out of the worst trouble one way or the other, or that she had an uncanny knack for finding just the right way to manipulate things to her advantage.  It didn’t matter that whenever he mentioned his fears to her, she would only smile and pat his hand, and tell him not to worry so much, that she was trained for this—just as Reynik had said.  He supposed he would worry until his last breath, and there was no changing it.  That Reynik did not degrade him for expressing himself, for trying to explain just why he was so wary, served to lift Esbern’s opinion of the boy by many levels.  Other Sith would have laughed, perhaps called him pathetic or weak.  Other Sith had tortured him for far less in the past. 

Reynik went on further to inform Esbern that if he had any more information that could help him, he would appreciate it, and the smile Esbern gave in return was much less sarcastic than the previous.  “I’m a wizard when it comes to slicing.  Say the word, and I’ll mess up their security systems and tech so bad that it’ll take ‘em years to get it straight again—or would, if they lived that long.  I’d have done that for Marigon, but she suspected that this particular cell was a ‘port of entry’ to the Exiled, so to speak.  She chose to use it as a gateway rather than end them like Cygius ordered.  I’ll take a look at what you’ve got so far and see what I can do for you.” 




Offline Jabbathejack

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This time, it was Reynik's turn to scrutinise Esbern, gauging his request for information before he responded. His face twitched, but he had made his decision.

He shifted his position, uncrossing his legs and planting his feet on the floor as he reached beneath his bunk for his pack. Removing a data pad, he stood up and passed the information over.

"Here is a breakdown of what I have found so far."

The data pad contained the details of the scrap merchant that he had been talking to, as well as the information that he had gathered on the owner of the ship that had taken Marigon away from the city.

"I plan on tracking down this Taylon. He might be a link to the sect. Either he's involved or they're using his operation as a front. Either way, it might be a way in."

The undamaged side of his face pulled into a thin smile.
"A slicer might come in handy."


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern sat up and took the datapad, skimming over the information that Reynik had compiled with a sharp eye.  When he finished, he raised an eyebrow at the younger man.  “You did well with this.  You dug up some decent leads.  Follow through with those, and we could come up with one hell of a plan to mess these guys up.”

He returned the datapad, scrubbing at his chin with the heel of his hand.  “Let me see if I can dig up the blueprints for the area and get you a floorplan of the place.  It may take a little time to crack into it, but I’m sure I can do it.  I’ll test their network while I’m at it and see if they have any droids; if I can bring down their security system and remotely program their droids to cause mischief, it could give you the upper hand over them when you’re ready to make your move,” Esbern thought out loud. 

“Either way, I agree that this Taylon fellow could be your way in,” he commented.  His brow furrowed heavily. “When will you approach him?” 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik watched Esbern intently, gauging his reactions to the information he had just supplied. He had taken a big step in trust with his pilot, but he was still not sure if they were entirely on the same side or not.

He accepted the datapad silently, sliding it into his pocket.

"A blueprint would be useful." He nodded grimly. "As would some well placed mischief."

"As for when, I'm not sure. Soon. Bring me what you get and I will advise. For the moment, I'll carry on checking it out."

He reached into his pack and removed a couple of rations packs.
"You eaten yet?" He threw one of the packs lightly over to Esbern before opening his own one. It was basic sustenance, but it did the job, designed to keep an agent upright and fighting on the bear minimum. Some of the others in his training had complained about the taste, but Reynik had never uttered a sound; it was better than what he had been raised on.


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern accepted the ration an opened it with a muttered thanks, having the same perspective as Reynik.  He had experienced plenty of lean times; slaves were replaceable in the Empire, always, and feeding them when supplies were low was less of a concern so long as those in charge had full bellies.  Food was food. 

As the week progressed, Esbern did as he said he would.  He tracked down the blueprints for the area that Reynik was scouting and accompanied Reynik for the sole purpose of slicing into the network after discovering that he would be unable to do so from the ship.  Once there, however, it took Esbern less time to access their databanks and files than it did to make a rude hand gesture—which he did when a passing Rhodian tried to rob him.  It took him even less time and effort to pull the gun from his hip and shoot the alien in the face when it turned out not to like Esbern’s initial response.  Between what the two of them had discovered, there was very little left in the way of information they needed to pull the job off.

At the end of the week, Esbern called Reynik to the communications room, expression grim and fixed.  The holo displayed a sector of Wild Space, specifically zoomed in on a hunk of rock orbiting one of the three gas giants in the system.  When Reynik arrived, Esbern pushed a button, and everything known about the moon flashed up on the display.

“I tracked the original source of Marigon’s call,” he explained, his tone careful.

Savat, one of the least hospitable moons in the known galaxy.  Once the home of a small sect of purebloods who left the ancient Sith Empire to pursue a path of balance instead of darkness, the planet’s rich echo system and sizeable population was obliterated by the Immortal Emperor’s atmospheric bombardment.  Due to the moon’s unique atmosphere and biome, the weapons used to bombard the moon created an unexpected, powerful and dramatically altering reaction.  The surface of the moon became a desolate wasteland of chaotic energy, perpetually assaulted by violent lightning storms and static bursts.  This not only made it impossible to scan the surface of the moon, but it also made it impossible to pilot in the atmosphere, let alone survive on the surface.  Anyone who had tried since the Savati Cataclysm were never heard from again.  It had been assumed that no one had survived the deadly assault and save for what little was available in ancient archives, it had been long-forgotten. 
« Last Edit: December 10, 2019, 05:26:38 PM by Firesblood »


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik worked ceaselessly over the next week; with each step, he was inching his way closer to their quarry, noting details that would be important when the time came to strike. All of his moves went unnoticed, blending in for the most part, yet in the times where he might have been seen, a simple force mind trick worked its magic.

His communications device buzzed in his pocket and Reynik glanced at it with a frown; Esbern was calling him to the comms room. After working with the pilot closely over the course of the week, he felt that he was learning the measure of the man; he did not make calls like that for nothing.

The moment he entered the room, his attention was drawn to the projection and he walked around it slowly, scanning the information that Esbern produced.

"Excellent work. It looks like they've chosen a place as remote as possible."

He nodded at Esbern.
"Once we've finished work here then that will be our next destination. Start looking at ways to modify the ship to power in that sort of atmosphere. They must get through there somehow, so must we."


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern snorted.  “Remote is definitely a word for it,” he replied quietly, a note of skepticism in his voice.  Personally, Esbern thought ‘suicidal’ was more apt, but he didn’t say anything.  At Reynik’s request, his thin lips pressed together in a small grimace and he gave a short nod.  A small part of Esbern had hoped that Reynik would see the results and dismiss them, determining them to be a mistake.  The entire moon’s atmosphere was a never-ending electrical storm, making it impossible to live on the surface.  Piloting vessels into such a storm was dangerous, even with right shielding.

“It’ll take work,” Esbern finally said, eyes squinting as he studied the readouts.  “Piloting on that hell hole is one thing, but we also have to look beyond that.  If we can somehow survive flying in Savat’s atmosphere to begin with, that still leaves us trying to find a place to land, not to mention some safe place to shelter up.  Worse, we have no idea where on the moon her signal came from,” the old man sighed.  It seemed this would be the harder task of the two Cygius assigned.  If the Exiled were truly on Savat, it was obviously possible to survive there as Reynik pointed out, but the difference between the Exiled, and Reynik and Esbern, was that the Exiled knew exactly where on Savat to go, thus lowering the chances of certain death by a modest percentage.  Marigon’s decision to infiltrate and let the Exiled do the hard work seemed a lot smarter at the moment.  Would that they too had such an option. 

“In other words, we’ll be going in blinder than we should be,” Esbern added, turning to begin calculations on the modifications they would require on the Stygian Moon. “This would be a hell of a lot easier with a new ship.  We’ll be lucky of old Stygie here doesn’t explode outright, modifications or no.”

He set to work all the same, complaints and doubts aside.  That was something to be said for Esbern; no matter how much he bitched about something, he still did it anyway.