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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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The man was not really a man anymore, but rather an unsettling amalgamation of man and machine.  Most of his parts and pieces had been replaced with durasteel and circuitry long ago, and every movement he made was accompanied by the subtle hiss of hydraulics buried within layers of armor. 

Only he wasn’t moving.  He remained as still as a statue, peering straight ahead with eyes that seemed little more than red light on black glass, the lights expanding and contracting randomly while he pondered.  He was waiting, his internal processors running the scenarios back and forth through his mind until the one he had called upon arrived.  There were many calculable paths that his particular problem could take moving forward, but there were few of them that he liked. 

Darth Cygius expected the best possible outcome of any given situation, and anything less than that was unacceptable.  He expected practicality in his apprentices and those who served him, a certain blend of logic and survival instinct, not to mention intellect.  He expected satisfactory results in a timely manner in all things, and if his expectations were not met, the mistake was never allowed to occur a second time.  No one under him received favor over the other, but there were those whom he did trust more to exercise his will.  One of them had gone missing. 

It would not do.  His former apprentice had been tasked with meeting one of his informants on Nar Shaddaa, and Marigon was a full four weeks late on her report.  More, none of his contacts on that cesspool of a planet could track her whereabouts.  The spaceport logs showed that she had docked and that her ship remained in the bay, but after her first week on the surface, all record of her simply disappeared.  No video feeds, no access to her credit lines…simply gone

Normally Cygius would assume that she had been killed in action and send one of his other lackeys to pick up wherever she left off, but for reasons he could not begin to fathom, he had not been able to let it go.  Marigon had given him the least cause for disappointment out of those who served him, and she held a great deal more of his secrets in her hands than any other could claim.  Perhaps it was verification of her death or capture that was required; she was a dangerous loose end to have, after all. 

More important than Marigon herself, the mission was incomplete.  He could not source one of his other apprentices to it, as none of them had the competency required and were currently working on other things.  He did not have the vast networks that other Sith had, but this usually provided him excellent opportunities to fly beneath the radar.  That being said, it proved most unhelpful now when there was no one left who could be counted on. 

He had reached out to a young Sith named Reynik.  His dossier was straightforward; a former slave turned acolyte after murdering his overseer with the force, he had proven himself throughout his apprenticeship as just the sort of dependable Cygius looked for.  Reynik had potential; that much was evident in the way he had crawled from the deepest holes of Imperial status to what he was today.  Cygius gave credit where it was due, and the upper echelons of the Sith had already begun to whisper his name to one another.  He wanted to see if Reynik was capable.  If he happened to discover the whereabouts of his former apprentice, all the better. 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik marched down the corridor, moving with a lithe, confident gait. He was of average height, with neat short cropped dark brown hair, but his face was hardly average looking. Perhaps, once, he had been good looking, but that had been shattered long ago with the long scar that ran down the length of his face, from just below his eye, through to drag the corner of his mouth down into a perpetual sneer.

His simple black robes hid a powerful, muscular frame. A light saber was tucked into his belt, ready for use at a moment's notice.

He was punctual, entering the room silently and lowering himself to one knee with his head bowed.

"My lord."

He waited in that position, not looking up until he had been given leave to do so. He had never met the Sith Lord before, but he had done his homework, finding out as much as he could the moment he had first heard about this meeting. It was a good sign, to be invited personally to a meeting like this, but Reynik knew damn well that he would have to earn this honour. What he did not know was how. This meeting would be pivotal; whether it would spell the launch of his career, or the end of it was entirely up to him.


Offline Firesblood

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Darth Cygius watched Reynik as he knelt.  By his internal chronometer, the young Sith was on time.  An auspicious beginning; it was a surprising few who ever showed up precisely when they were supposed to.  The cyborg rose from his seat and gestured to Reynik.  "Rise."

Keeping the desk between them, Cygius waited until Reynik had done as he bid before he began.  "You have been noticed.  All that you have worked so hard for is at hand, but I sense that you know this already," Cygius drawled, his voice tinned and strange.  "I have reached out to you for two reasons.  The first is that you have managed to accomplish all the tasks given to you with, to my eyes, what was the best possible outcome.  The second is that I believe you may be uniquely qualified to perform the missions I command, given your background.  My specialty, Reynik, are the sensitive situations that seek to undo our Empire.  These things go unnoticed in the bigger picture, but they can have disastrous effects if allowed to go unmaintained.  It is work often without accolade, but the connections you will make in my employ will secure your future in the Empire in ways you have yet to imagine."

Cygius clasped his hands behind his back, studying him closely.  "Now, to the matter at hand.  My primary enforcer Marigon has gone missing on Nar Shaddaa while on a very crucial mission.  I will provide you all the pertinent information regarding the mission so that you may review in transit to Hutt space; I expect you to finish what she did not."  Cygius indicated the datapad placed neatly on the desk before Reynik.  "You will be meeting my informant in the Star Cluster Casino.  He has been gathering information on a cult hiding in the lowest levels of the planet.  The cult itself has radicalized against the Dark Council and sought sanctuary away from Imperial Space after orchestrating a devastating attack to Kaas City.  It must be rooted out and dismantled.  You will collect the data that my informant gives you, and from that data you will formulate a plan to eradicate the cell.  You will report to me when the mission is done, and I expect it to take no more than a month."  He paused then, the red lights of his eyes contracting slightly.  "And if you happen to discover what happened to Marigon, it would further prove your skills."   



Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik obeyed silently, standing tall with his hands behind his back. Those who had had military training often stood to attention, staring into space, yet Reynik fixed the Sith Lord with a calm, unwavering gaze.

His expression remained neutral, not even flickering when Cygius spoke of his success. Perhaps he was merely stoking his ego to try and gauge what sort of a man he really was.

"I do not do this for the accolade."

The statement was true, for the most part, but Reynik was most certainly not without ambition, yet he saw it merely as a drive to survive. It was his ambition that had kept him alive.

His eyes narrowed slightly at the mention of Marigon; of course, her name had cropped up in the brief research that he had managed to do.

"I understand." He took the datapad and glanced at it briefly before tucking it inside the folds of his robe ready to study it properly at a later point.

He had no questions, trusting that he would learn all that he could from the data supplied and from the informant, when they met.


Offline Firesblood

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Reynik’s comment gave Cygius reason to pause, his drum-tight white face tilting ever so slowly to the side.  His glowing red irises flashed and flexed multiple times, echoing the thought processes of a computer. 

Interesting… Cygius thought, and a ghost of a smile hovered around his thin mouth for a fleeting moment.  “Then you may be a better fit for our goals than I previously suspected.  A transport awaits you at the spaceport.  Once you arrive on Nar Shaddaa, report first to Hanger B34; there you will find Marigon’s ship, Stygian Moon.  You have my permission to board the vessel and use what ever data you find that is relevant to your mission.  No doubt there will be at least one crewman on board, and they are at your disposal.  If Marigon herself cannot be salvaged or found, you may keep the ship.  You will need one for future missions.  Go now.”

Cygius did not wait for the niceties that were standard among the Sith.  Turning abruptly, he glided to the side door that led deeper into his wing of citadel and departed from the room.

---- 

 The cult in question, the Exiled, had been created by the sons and daughters of a disgraced house.  Imbittered by their fall, they had begun to sow the seeds of discord among the lowest of Imperial society.  Slaves and indentured servants, common laborers and military grunts, even failed sith acolytes and apprentices joined their cause, and their message spread like wildfire.  For years they had been trod upon by the upper echelons and powerful houses, and the cult preached change.  No more would the common and average man bear the brunt of the Empire’s wars, their feuds, their greed and arrogance.  It was time for the people to make their voices heard, and to fight back if necessary. 

Before long, what had been scoffed at as a doomed endeavor was forced to the forefront of the council’s minds.  When words and diplomacy failed to make an impression on the Dark Council, the Exiled orchestrated a bombing of the Citadel in Kaas City, the very epicenter of the Empire.  Their plan had mostly failed, but three bombs had not been recovered before the time ran out and they lost over 200 vital individuals. 

The Exiles escaped from Dromund Kaas before the first bomb went off, and all known logs tracked them to Nar Shaddaa where the Empire had no jurisdiction.  Eradicating them was now a matter of subterfuge, as operating beneath the nose of the Hutt Cartel could prove dangerous.

Unfortunately, there were signs that the cult extended beyond the group that had fled Dromund Kaas.  There was thought to be no less than three cells located on three yet-unknown worlds. 

And every last one of them needed to be destroyed.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik bowed but the gesture was lost as Cygius turned away. Reynik wasted no time before he left, having already prepared for a journey before he went to the meeting.

He spent the journey studying the data pad, reading and rereading the details, trying to absorb as much information as possible. For the last few hours, he settled down to meditate, following the techniques that his master had taught him. For Reynik, it was as essential process, strengthening the tight control that he held over his emotions as well as broadening his affinity with the force.

Nar Shaddaa, the Smugglers' Moon; Reynik grimaced as he looked out of the window, watching as the pilot brought them into land. It was a hive of activity, an urban warren.

He'd changed out of his robes, feeling that such attire might draw more attention than he wanted right now. More attention than his face would. Instead, he wore a battered flight jacket, looking like any other questionable pilot.

The first thing he did was to find Marigon's ship, the Stygian Moon. He found the sole crew personnel half obscured by an access panel, checking the engines.

"Is she ready to fly?"

Reynik didn't bother with introductions, keeping his attention on the ship.


Offline Firesblood

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The crewman had already begun to finish his task and stand when Reynik spoke, having heard his footsteps drawing nearer on the metal floor.  He was a small man and old, with flyaway white hair and a permanent frown etched in the folds of his face.  His clothing was well made and well cared for, though beginning to show signs of age and wear at the seams.  The back of his neck was a mass of melted and silvered scar tissue, an indication of long time slavery and frequent shocks delivered via collar at some point in his life. 

He studied Reynik with unusually clear blue eyes, wiping the engine grease from his hands on a soiled rag.  “Aye, she’s ready,” he finally replied in a short tone graveled with age. 

He didn’t bow or scrape or introduce himself, though he knew why Reynik was there and what it meant; it meant that Cygius had given Marigon up as a lost cause, and the young man was her replacement.  “Darth Cygius informed me that you would be arriving to take over the kid’s mission.  Told me to have her files ready…” He paused then, a scowl curling his upper lip.  “I don’t care what that mechanized bastard says, she’s not dead.  Don’t get too comfortable here.”

The old man stuffed the rag into his pocket, the scowl remaining on his face as he pointed towards the door.  “Come on then.  If we stand around all day, he’ll grow impatient and send someone to replace you too,” he said bitterly, leading the way towards the ships databanks.  “I pulled up everything regarding Marigon’s mission, including her final logs.  Should be able to find something useful.”     


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Good." Reynik nodded, sparing the pilot a glance. He noted the man's neck, knowing immediately what that meant. He made a note to check the man's record; he liked to know who he would be working with, especially when it came to his pilot.

The scarred side of Reynik's face twitched at the outburst, but it was unclear whether it was an attempt at a smile, or if it was simply a result of his injuries.

"I assure you, I'm not here to be comfortable."

He followed the pilot up into the ship, looking around him as they went. It was a small ship, cramped interiors, but it was ideal for what they needed.

"As for whether she lives or not, well, that remains to be seen. I don't like to make judgements before I've seen the evidence."

He paused as they reached the databanks, his eyebrow lifting as he looked up at the pilot.

"What makes you so sure she's still alive?"


Offline Firesblood

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The old man let out a grunt in response to Reynik’s reply regarding comfort.  “You’re in the right place then.  Worst damned ship in the Empire, the Stygian.  You have to walk sideways to get from one side to the other, there’s not a cushion to be seen, and if you fly her too hard in atmo she’ll scream at you like a bloody rancor.  Here we are,” he gestured to the databanks and input the proper codes.  Several files appeared promptly enough on screen for viewing, though the screen flickered once or twice as if to prove the old man’s point.

Instead of answering Reynik’s question outright, the old man tapped on what appeared to be the most recent log entry.  The holo unit sitting next to the bank crackled to life, and an image of a young woman appeared.  She was average looking and clad in dun robes, a braid that she could have easily tucked into her belt resting over her shoulder.  The shadows beneath her eyes were deep and visible even with the shoddy resolution of the projection, reminiscent of one who had gone without sleep for extended lengths of time.    She began the recording with a small bow at the waist.  “My Lord.  I have tracked the Exiled to their hideout here on Nar Shaddaa.  It is located in the shadow sector, several levels below the Imperial prison.  Listening to their conversations has proven most useful, though they are very careful never to mention the locations of their cells on the other three worlds.  I have discovered that they plan to liberate a number of Imperial prisoners to bolster their numbers, specifically those imprisoned within the carbonite wing. 

“They plan to leave Nar Shaddaa within two weeks of this message’s recorded date.  Once they leave this place, I fear it will be almost impossible to track them until they resurface again with what will undoubtedly be a more cunning and successful attack on the Empire.  For that reason, I plan to infiltrate the Exiled under deep cover.  I have already contracted a convincing criminal dossier, and I am scheduled to be placed in carbonite this very afternoon.  If all goes smoothly, I will be among the number of individuals that they will free and take with them to one of their hidden cells.  From there, I can begin to gather the intelligence we need to destroy them from the inside. 

“This will be the last communication that you will receive from me until I have successfully infiltrated their ranks and it is safe for me to do so.  I know that you have given me a time limit, but please understand, My Lord, that this matter requires delicacy and patience if we are to destroy them in their entirety.” The young woman paused then, glancing down at her hands.  “I have taken the liberty of having a homing chip implanted at the base of my skull.  The frequency of the beacon is included in the data packet I am sending along with this message.”  Marigon bowed at the waist.  “Until we meet again, My Lord.  Glory to the Empire.”

With that, the transmission cut out and the old man fixed Reynik with his gaze once more.  “She sent that message right before she left to do her work.  I was able to determine that she was, indeed, among the number of prisoners that the Exiled took with them when they left Nar Shaddaa, and I was able to track her homing beacon to within two parsecs of Dantooine, but unfortunately all signal from the chip ceased broadcasting at that point.  Cygius assumes it is because she is dead, but I think it’s more than likely deactivated.”  He paused, frown deepening.  “I’m assuming he wants you to destroy whats left of the cell here on Nar Shaddaa?”     


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik frowned as the recording flickered into life; it was not something that had been covered in the information he had reviewed on the way, perhaps as a test to his abilities, or a planned oversight, he had no way of telling which.

Reaching out, he tapped a couple of buttons, pulling up the listed time stamp of when it was transmitted. More than a month ago.

"It's possible that there was a malfunction in the chip from the carbon freezing process, or simply that they decided to scan the prisoners for chips." Reynik's frown deepened. "That's what I would do, if the tables had been turned. If they had found the chip on her, then it is likely that she would have been executed."

He was expressionless as he talked, his tone remaining calm and controlled. If that had been the case, then it would have been obvious that she would have faced extensive interrogation before execution.

It was Reynik's turn to leave a question unanswered, as Reynik handed the pilot a datapad.
"I want to review the information. Download everything relevant that you have onto this pad. Bring it to me when its ready."

Reynik made his way through the ship to the cramped crew quarters in the rear. Two bunks, set on either side of the small room, with barely enough room to stand between them.

He sat down and reached for the data screen, tapping in the details of his pilot. Esbern Hullis. He spent a few minutes reading over the man's record; it made interesting reading.


Offline Firesblood

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“Not necessarily,” the old man countered.  “Most slaves are implanted with homing chips as a way to keep track of them, same with Imperial prisoners on the off chance that they manage to escape.  It would have been more suspicious if she had been imprisoned without one.  Chances are they disabled hers when they were disabling the rest of them.”

Esbern accepted the datapad with a short nod and got to work, placing the datapad into the dock. 

The old man had earned himself a rather colorful file.  He had been a former intelligence agent for the Republic, captured when he was still new to the job and enslaved as punishment rather than imprisoned.  He had been a slave for 45 years with more demerits than most slaves could ever hope to get away with, but he had also proven himself invaluable, especially in service to Cygius.  Most of the demerits involved mouthing off or some other kind of disrespect.  His slavery had been ended by Marigon immediately after he was gifted to her by Cygius, and despite his freedom he had remained in her service.

When Esbern tracked Reynik down to give him what he asked for, his eyes rested briefly on his own information currently being displayed.  If he cared, he didn’t show it.  “What you asked for.  I reached out to your contact at the casino; he’ll be waiting for you this evening.” 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik took the datapad, nodding grimly. It was true what he'd said about implanting slaves with chips, although Reynik had not been, he had just been a child at the point of capture. He glanced at the pilot, idly wondering if he had been chipped and whether the device remained active.

He noted Esbern's mention of the contact, wondering exactly how much of his mission he was aware of. He was immediately wary, but he did not comment on it, with only a slight tightening of his lips on one side betraying any such thoughts.

Esbern was indeed an interesting person; as a captured spy, it would have been difficult enough to survive the extensive interrogation process that he would definitely have endured.

"Why do you remain?" He fixed the older man with his cold, unwavering gaze. "It says here that Marigon released you from your servitude, and yet here you are?"


Offline Firesblood

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Esbern’s eyes narrowed to mere slits, considering his question and, likely, deciding whether he wanted to answer it or not.  After what felt like an age, the old man’s mouth twisted downward even further, and he spoke.  “Not that it’s any of your damn business…but I was the one that flew her to Korriban when she was just a little thing.  She was small for her age, soft as soft could be and scared out of her mind, and it never really left my head.  I felt for the kid.  She didn’t belong there.  I don’t know how she survived that hell but she did, and managed to get an apprenticeship under Cygius to boot.  No easy feat,” he hesitated, shaking his head a little while his hand absently rubbed at the melted mess on the back of his neck. “More surprising was that she remembered me.  First thing she did after she set foot on this hunk of junk was take my collar off, give me my freedom, and thank me for the kindness I showed her way back when.  Then she asked me to stay.  After years of hearing nothing but commands and demands, being asked for something…being given the choice…made all the difference.  I stay because she’s a good kid and I like her, and that's that.  If she dies, you can rest assured I'll be on my merry old way.”

Esbern shrugged dismissively.  “Anything else?  I have fuel lines to double check and I can’t do it standing here chit-chatting like an old lady in a knitting circle.”   


Offline Jabbathejack

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Just as he was thinking that Esbern wasn't going to bother answering him, the older man spoke up. The description reminded Reynik of his own first journey to Korriban, the year after she had arrived, as her records had informed him.

When Reynik had regained consciousness, he had found himself face to face with the metal skull face of a medical droid, leaning over him. He'd been half delirious with pain, his face feeling like it was on fire.

The scarred part of Reynik's face twitched; a violent jump of the damaged muscles that happened at sporadic intervals.

"Carry on, Hullis." He muttered hoarsely, turning back to his data files. "I've got work to do before I meet this contact."

***

A couple of hours later, Reynik emerged from the ship, ready to meet his contact. He kept his lightsaber concealed in a side pocket of his trousers, out of sight, but within reach if he needed it.

From what little he knew about this contact, he wasn't sure if he was going to need it or not. Jiggs, a Twi'lek sabacc dealer at the casino. The game was probably rigged.

He pushed his way into the casino, heading over to the sabacc table. Sure enough, the dealer was a Twi'lek male. A disgruntled traveller got up from the table, muttering curses over his shoulder as he stumbled away and Reynik took his seat, laying some credits down as he waited for his hand to be dealt.
 
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 05:31:10 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Firesblood

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The Star Cluster Casino was a popular hotspot on Nar Shaddaa for all the ill-reputed denizens who happened to be passing through Hutt Space.  Frequented by high-rollers and thieves, there was no shortage of players at the various game tables and machines offered.  There was also no shortage of conflict; even as Reynik entered the floating casino, he would witness the shot-up body of a Rhodian being dragged through the front entrance, only to be shoved over the edge of the precipice like trash to the ground far, far below. 

Hired guards watched Reynik closely as he went inside and looked around for his contact, and several of the patrons also stared openly, some of the softer ones horrified by his extensive scarring. 

The Twi’lek watched the disgruntled player trod off and leave his table empty, then turned his watery eyes on Reynik as he sat in the newly vacated spot.  His lekku twitched irritably, and his hands began to shuffle the deck with a fluid practice.  His mouth twitched downward at the credits he put down.  “This is a high-stakes game, friend.  If you want in, you’re going to have to put more than that on the table,” He informed him.  The alien had a voice like silk, smooth and far too slippery to be trusted; perfect for a Sabacc dealer on a Hutt world.