Star Wars THE GALAXY AT WAR PART IV: PRISONER OF CORUSCANT

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  1. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~ Deadlines had kept me occupied which hampered my progress here. Since they have eased up somewhat I hope to get things on the move. Hope everyone else is well and keeping safe.

    ~IC~ Captian Dorja
    Location: Chommell Sector - Obligon Nebula/Arrissa's Field - 'Relentless'


    While it may seem to be the ideal hiding place, to be situated between a nebula and an asteroid field does have it’s share of problems, especially when the need arises to communicated over vast distances. Since there was the possibility that the relays had been compromised and the distrust of the ‘Eclipse’, Captain Dorja had arranged an alternative method for a secure transmission. He was grateful that Captain Brandei of the ISD Judicator was nearby and willing to lend a hand in providing a secure relay to the ISD Chimaera that was stationed above Naboo. From the Chimaera the signal was redirected to Grand Admiral Thrawn’s secure location in Theed. The intention was clear, to inform him of the successful outcome of the operation.

    “You did well, Captain Dorja. Ensure that there is no physical evidence of the Ragnarök remaining before you make your way to the Naboo System.”

    Dorja bowed his head to the holographic form of Grand Admiral Thrawn and felt his shoulders relaxed as though a great weight were lifted off him.

    “It shall be done at once, Grand Admiral.”

    “Contact me once you have arrived and await further instructions.” The hologram form of Thrawn flickered as his gaze lingered on Dorja before he dismissed the Captain and his visage faded.

    Dorja was allowed a second to gather his thoughts before another voice, the Communications Officer from the Chimaera, came through the comm. “Communications relay to Naboo via Chimaera will be terminated, Captain Dorja. Will that be all?”

    Dorja swiftly regained his composure, “Thank you Officer, that shall be all.”

    “Good luck, sir.”

    The communication ended and Dorja was finally left alone to his thoughts. He had finally done it, one task remains and then he will be free of this wretched place. A cup of tea would not go astray but that would have to wait for now. Dorja reactivated the comm and contacted the bridge to convey his instructions:

    “Launch a wing of bombers. Have them sweep the vicinity and remove any debris left over from the Ragnarök. Then inform the Stormhawk and Judicator that the Relentless will be leaving the system within the hour. That should give our pilots adequate time to get the job done before we depart.”

    * * * *
    ~IC~ Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo, Lieutenant Garston
    Location: Naboo - Theed

    Lieutenant Garston observed how composed Thrawn was after the transmission with the Captain of the Relentless. Garston understood that Captain Dorja’s mission was necessary to prevent Ragnarök’s secrets from being leaked into enemy hands, however, ordering the loss of the research vessel converted destroyer is not one taken lightly nor taken in vain. Those red eyes flicker and caught Garston’s gaze, he resisted the need to look away as it felt like they had penetrated through to his very mind.

    “Your thoughts, Lieutenant?” The Admiral’s voice was crisp.

    “Ah…” Garston felt his throat tighten. “I am sure Commander Gerard and his team had followed the orders right to the letter. However, do you think that they had recovered more than they should?”

    A thin smile appeared on the Admiral’s lips. “The rest of the conspirators are now under Captain Dorja’s custody. The Acting Captain -Commander Varian, and Pantera Squadron should not give us much grief.”

    “What of Dr. Smith? Should we be concerned about him?”

    “The good doctor’s ambitions are set for new discoveries, not riches in treasures and credits. Commander Gerard had recovered an important asset that cannot be replaced. Will that be all, Lieutenant?”

    Garston gave a nod and looked to the datapads. “Will you want me to continue the follow up with these leads?”

    “They can wait for now, we will have a more prestigious guest to attend to soon.” The red eyes glowed brighter. “The ambassador from the Union, Eddard Dondarion.”

    TAG: Captain Dorja, Commander Gerard, Captain Brandei, open
  2. Jerjerrod-Lennox Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2005
    star 7
    OOC: This post is once again a collaboration between myself and CO, many thanks:)

    IC: Commander Sam Gerard, Cosmon “Cosmo” Rendell, John Royce, Noah Noonan, Dan’el Dennison, Savah Poole-Cooper, Bobby Brigstocke, Nani Kali’iwa
    Location: ISD Relentless

    The explosion had been a sight to see, now the team had made it’s way back home to Relentless. When the shuttle landed, the team were greeted by an honour guard, no doubt laid on for them by Captain Dojra himself, and several Navy troopers stationed at the end of the guard, probably there to take the prisoners to the brig.

    Gerard did not expect any fanfare nor cheering and rightly so. They had basically wiped out an entire crew, people with families, friends, but in the end they were all traitors to the Empire and had to be dealt with.

    Gerard lead the way down the ramp, with the Captain of the Ragnarök loudly protesting behind him and poor Cosmo having to manhandle him down the ramp. The team followed behind the Captain, Savah standing next to Doctor Smith with Brigstocke keeping tabs on him from behind.

    Following on behind them were Noonan and Royce, helping a still groggy Dan’el down the ramp with Nani carrying the rest of the teams bags.

    “Feels good to be home” said Royce “Now that was a tough mission”

    “Poor Dan’el got the worst of it” said Noonan looking around at the scene before him.

    “I told him not to drink before we left” Royce said smiling and nudging Dan’el who only groaned in response.

    “Feels like you’ve got a mountain of drink in these bags” said Nani piping up behind them “What did Royce put in these, bricks?”

    “I think he decided to pack everything, just in case” said Noonan, Royce laughed.

    Meanwhile Gerard had handed over the Ragnarök Captain to the guards, much to his and Cosmo’s relief, the team could hear his protestations as he exited the hangar on his way to the brig to be interrogated.

    “Finally” exclaimed Cosmo smoothing down the sleeves of his lab coat “Never thought we would be rid of him….”

    “Perhaps a night in the brig will cool him off” said Gerard grunting with satisfaction at seeing the poor Captain being dragged away.

    The team plus Doctor Smith had all gathered around near where Gerard was standing, relieved to be home and another mission accomplished, Gerard turned to his “kids”.

    “Okay boys and girls, good job everyone and everyone returned safe and sound. Get some rest and chow time, you all deserved it, and we will be ready for our next mission when it arrives. Savah, please escort the good doctor to the brig please, Noonan, Royce take Dan’el to the medbay to be checked. I’m probably going to have to report to Captain Dorja about today's festivities”.

    “Good luck on that one” said Brigstocke “hope he enjoyed the fireworks”

    The others laughed, Gerard smiled and gestured for the team to head off on their separate ways. The good doctor didn't look too happy about Savah being next to him, but being a fellow doctor, Savah might be able to speak on his level, get some more information about what the researchers on Ragnarök were working on.

    Gerard grunted in satisfaction and headed off to get a cup of caf before meeting with Captain Dorja.
    ****

    Doctor Peter Smith was at a loss. His day had started off how it usually does for him: uneventful and like clockwork, just the way he preferred it. He had inspected the latest developments from the other research teams and was returning back to his own laboratory when that supply shuttle arrived. Dan’el showed up to say hello as he normally did when he made those supply runs but this time he was accompanied by two strangers Smith had never met before… and this lovely lady, very beguiling… and before he knew it, his life got turned around and upside down and now he could not fathom the events that lead him to the deck of the Relentless.

    Savah felt a little sorry for the doctor as she led him with the escort if guards to the brig. She had done her job well, even if it meant using her feminine charms to make sure the doctor boarded the shuttle.

    She noticed the doctor was lost in reflection and wasn't looking where he was going, she waved a dark skinned hand in front of his face to snap him out of it.

    “Hey there Doctor, you awake in there?”

    “B-but what what?” Smith jolted to attention as the motion of Savah’s hand startled him from his ruminations. “Ah yes, yes,” he took off his spectacles and squinted as he gave the lenses a quick wipe with the sleeve of his white coat. “I was just…” he suppressed a grimace and placed the spectacles back on. “...lost in thought.”

    “Thinking about your colleagues?” Savah asked “About your work?”

    Smith nodded somberly. “It is like spending your life building this… ah.. rare collection of knowledge in a database and then having the memory banks storing them purged… ” he glanced down. “Then all you have left is what you retain in here…” he glanced back to her and pointed to his head.

    Savah felt a little sorry for the good doctor, but ultimately she needed to know what they were developing on the Ragnarök that had even Grand Admiral Thrawn worried.

    “That rare knowledge could be useful” Savah prompted “ It could help the Empire immensely”

    “It would go further to increase the survival rate of our pilots and agents in the field.” Smith agreed. “Imagine a time when our standardised starfighters can jump from region to region without the aid of the aid of a command ship or hyperdrive ring and without compromising the benefits they already have… well..” He corrected himself, his hands became more animated as a reflection of his excitement. “We sort of have that ability now with the prototypes retrofitted to Panthera Squadron’s Interceptor’s but that is just the tip. If we could allow the in and output of energy to flow more efficient-Ah, well...” He stopped mid sentence and cleared his throat. “Forgive me, I am blabbering. They don’t really allow us out much nor talk about our work, you see, even amongst each other. Some of my colleagues treat it very competitively and react in an unsporting manner. Some don’t get along and some you have to try and keep apart but are we not shooting for the same common goal to further the benefit of the Empire and its citizens?”

    Jackpot thought Savah smiling inwardly. The Commander and no doubt Grand Admiral Thrawn would love to get their hands on this type of technology, Doctor Smith if he could would create a new weapon in the war against the Rebel Alliance.

    “This technology would be of great use to the Empire” Savah said as they had nearly reached their destination “You would be of great use to us”

    “Ah- thank you, though...” Smith gave her a bewildered look. “I am- or should still be on the Empire’s payroll. I hope I am still of use to the Grand Admiral.”

    “I’m sure he’ll have plans for you” Savah said putting on her best smile “I’ll see to it that my Commander puts in a good word in for you” she winked “Only on one condition though….”

    As they approached the cells, Savah spotted two men standing in front of one of them. They definitely didn't look like Army or Navy guys she noted, more like Imperial Intelligence.

    “Just tell these rather nice gentlemen all you know, and after that you may be suitably rewarded” Savah guided the Doctor towards the cell then turned to the two Intelligence officers.

    “Don’t injure him guys, i’m sure the Grand Admiral and the Captain want him back in one piece”.

    TAG: Captain Dorja, Grand Admiral Thrawn
  3. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~Always welcome J-L :)

    For this post, the dialogue in blue are excerpts from a previous joint point between Pashatemur and myself. That dialogue is of the new Emperor’s speech, written by Pashatemur.

    I want to wish everyone all the best for this new year! Let's make it a great one :)


    ~IC~ Senator Riyo Chuchi, Baron N. Papanoida, the voice of the new Emperor
    Location: Senate Building, Coruscant


    The senator from Pantora had arrived a few minutes late to the special session of senate. She had spent that morning with selected members of the senate to validate the autopsy of the late Emperor Palpatine. The procedure was not for the faint of heart, several had claimed to feeling queasy throughout the exploratory operation, but it was a necessary discomfort to put up with. Palpatine really was dead and his reign was finally over. The question that now remained on her mind; ‘what shall happen next? Who will take over? What would be the cost?’

    As Riyo Chuchi made her way along the hallowed halls of the grand senate building, there was a buzz in the air from those she passed. She only caught snippets but it was something to do with an arrival of a Togruta. Chuchi paid no mind to it, ‘it must be the rare appearance of Queen Zaa Vashee of Shili’ she told herself. She had heard of tales about her unspoken beauty and how rare it was for her to make public appearances. Since this is an unusual occasion so it must be logical for all this commotion to be going about.

    [“I was asked in the past day to define this state…this Empire and I found I was forced to take a perspective it is, I must admit... not in my nature to visit often. Yet, circumstance has brought me to this pass, as it brings us all.”]

    The unmistakable voice of the Executor, now young Emperor, amplified by the cavernous acoustics of the galactic senate’s dome, filled her ears as she disembarked the turbolift. She hurried along the curved corridor, past several openings to different senatorial pods until she arrived at the assigned pod that was berthed for the representatives of Pantora.

    [“You… and I, we are bound together in what must seem at times a sea of circumstance – the unforeseen death of the Emperor, whose body will lie in state but a few kilometers from this … resilient Senate,”]

    She paused to adjust the golden ornate headpiece and strings of diamonds that adorned her head and that her cascading violet locks were clear of them. All to make herself more presentable for the occasion and not to give away that she had rushed to get here. There were two other figures already seated and she recognised the distinct tall regal hat and robes that belonged to Baron N. Papanoida. To his right sat his daughter, Chi Eekway Papanoida, former Senator for Wroona and currently the newly appointed Chairperson of the Pantoran Assembly.

    [“The sudden and brazen attack that claimed the lives of over 3000 beings in this very edifice, public servants, tourists, citizens about the business of just living – circumstance!”]

    "I am sorry that I am late." Chuchi whispered to them as she took her place beside the Baron.

    "How did your errand go, Senator Chuchi?" The deep rich voice of Papanoida was smooth and thick. Chuchi caught that wily glint in his eyes that told her he knew exactly where she had been.

    [“An Emperor, who took it upon himself to fight at the vanguard of his armies at Kalee and in so doing, gave his life -”]

    "As well as could be given the nature of such assignment.” the corner of Chuchi’s violet lips curled up and formed a smile. She betrayed nothing and whispered. “I thought you were retired."

    [“...we have heard the result of the clinical biopsy on the holo news in urgent release just moments ago; it is a matter of public record: death - a result of global trauma,”]

    “You did not think I would miss out on this special occasion?” Papanoida returned his gaze back to the podium.

    "Did I miss much?" Chuchi’s golden eyes looked to the podium to where the distinguished blue Chagrian was positioned. Moving her gaze across, she recognised the tall central human figure speaking as Vader... to think that a long time ago she once called him friend upon their first meeting on the ice world of Ord Plutonia. How the times have changed over the years during Palpatine’s reign.

    "The war with the confederacy is officially over and that it is time to return to a state of peace.” The Baron leaned his head close, his voice was low enough for Chuchi to hear both him and Vader’s speech as he summarised what she had missed. “He has made so bold as to shed some light on certain liberties that we had unknowingly sacrificed to get to this point.” The Baron chuckled as though he had found something amusing about that. “I feel that there is a change to the winds, subtle so far but no doubt we'll feel the effects of it in time. For better or worse is yet to be known. However, it is clear we are in for interesting times."

    Chuchi nodded as she followed along to the speech.

    [“The Emperor did not inform his commander in chief of his intention to fight, but he did leave his express instruction as to the transition of power in the event of his inability to acquit his command.”]

    However there was an additional figure that accompanied Vader and the Speaker that was not part of the usual session, a female Togruta. ‘Beautiful, yes. However, very natural, that no distinct or elaborate decoration adorn her figure to distinguish her in a way that a member of royalty usually does...’ She leaned forward and glanced to the display that showed a real time close up of the podium, her brow furrowed. ‘ ...but why would the Queen of Shili be situated there…? Wait- Why did she look so familiar?’

    [“It is my duty by both my oath and by archived document, and by the will of the deceased Emperor, I will be installed as your … new Emperor!”]

    Chuchi gasped, but it was not the new Emperor’s words that had caused her to react like that but that of a lightsaber hilt that adorn the Togruta’s belt. “Ahsoka!” She hissed from shock and looked wide-eyed to Papanoida only to get a knowing nod from him.

    ‘It was not the Queen of Shili but Ahsoka Tano all along on that podium... the whole time. The whole time! So it is true! But how can that be?’ Chuchi’s mind raced, she had believed that Ahsoka had died a long time ago during the inception of the Empire. ‘Skywalker’s Jedi Padawan has now returned and standing by his side. Were there more to follow her?’ She couldn’t help but glance back down to the display, she scrutinised the young Emperor and his former apprentice. It was not a trick, that was clear. She looked healthy too and as far as Chuchi could tell Ahsoka was not there against her will. ‘What does this all mean? What is your angle with this? I hope you know what you are doing’

    She could not believe it but knew she had to do her job and focus. She firmed her jaw and stared ahead with the will to push the thoughts of her long lost friend from her mind.

    [“JUST … as any just leader must define his administration, whatever the structure of the state - BE IT A REPUBLIC or EMPIRE- in accord with those whom he serves. Circumstance brought me here, circumstance shaped by you and I. Circumstance is not a gamble, it is NOT LUCK OR FATE OR A HAND OF SABACC, but it is the COMBINED ACTIONS OF ALL OF US, not only those of you who sit here today, but of those who have convened this Senate FOR CENTURIES!”]

    There was a loud cheer that rose up like a storm from the pods about her in response to that statement.

    [“EMPERORS… CHANCELLORS... we die! But …. THE SENATE REMAINS!”]

    Chuchi had to smile, he certainly garnered a brilliant reaction out of them. She leaned forward and rested her chin on the palm of her hand, the string of diamonds at the back of the headpiece clattered together.

    “For over twenty thousand years… through civil war, rebellion, transitions of power, and strife, this Senate has come together – Now I was not trained a politician… I am a strategist - an engineer and I’ve never believed in discarding what works! The late Emperor Palpatine, is dead, this Senate, and this Empire, are NOT!

    ’Is this it?’ Chuchi sat back, sparing a glance to Chi Eekway and her father. ‘Is this where we will find out what to expect from this new leadership?’ She suspected those that were expecting a renouncement of the Empire would be disappointed by that statement alone.

    ”However, NO ONE can deny that the Imperial maze of bureaucracy is both cumbersome and difficult to negotiate. I would not trust my socks to an Imperial laundry! The systems of this Empire, however, do work despite the burden of inept bureaucracy that does a very bad job of replicating local governmental functions. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we need to change it! New model, same basic mold! Redundancies are ballast to be discarded! There are too many ticks on this dog!”

    ‘Now this!’ The Pantoran senator sat up. ‘This would definitely ruffle the feathers.’ Already there was the shuffle of unease from nearby pods. ‘More than just several!’ Chuchi remarked to herself. If the sound of movement was noticeable, clearly there were unease from those whom rose to their position in a method she would deemed to be ‘not so honourable’.

    She looked across to where the Alderaanian Princeling's pod was berthed and watched him for a moment to gauge his reaction to all this. She wondered what her colleague was thinking. She couldn’t quite tell from this distance his exact expression but she knew he was completely absorbed and processing what was being said. But his gaze… she followed it across and noted to herself when she saw where it lead. The Moffs! While she could not make out who was who from her pod’s location in the rotunda, however, there was one distinct figure there she could recognise whom stood figuratively taller than the others; Whilhuff Tarkin.

    ‘How did he became so ruthless? Where does he fit into all this?’ It was common knowledge amongst them that fear and power were Tarkin’s two favourite attributes. He had climbed so high over a short period during the war, he had Palpatine’s favour but now... ’Does he now feel threatened? Or is all this according to plan?’

    TAG: Open
    Jerjerrod-Lennox likes this.
  4. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~IC~ Kaylee and Rowan Halcyon, Ariek and Kal
    Location: Icarus - fifth planet of the Corellian System???
    1 cycle before the incident at Coruscant


    The battered ancient warship had sliced through the cloud layer like a hot knife through whipped butter. The angle of descent was sharp and in some twisted sense; that was the whole point.

    “Fifteen hundred metres and closing.”

    The count continued as their altitude dropped rapidly.

    Kal had situated himself in the command chair with his feet up on the console before him, he looked over to his wife at the helm. “You are actually in control of this ship, right?”

    “Why?” Ariek asked, not turning her head from the display in front of her. Her brow furrowed with concentration. “You fancy a pancake?”

    “Yeah! But for breakfast. Not to be turned into someone else's breakfast."

    "Then shut it and let me fly.” There was a hint of strain in her voice.

    The temperature on the bridge had gotten noticeably hotter. Outside he could see a glow on prow of the ship from the heat caused by intense friction.

    “At least turn the inertial dampeners to max like the rest of the ship. This isn’t a freighter or a fighter that can turn on a dime, ya know.” He muttered only to receive an intense glare from Ariek. He shrugged and protested. “What?!”

    Kal sighed and stared out of the viewport rather than follow along with the instrument on the console panel. A sea of blue outside of the ocean, white specks of the waves grew larger. The ship then noticeably rolled to the starboard side.

    “To the left, sweetheart. A little more to the-”

    “I love you, Kal, but you are really ticking me off!” She cut him off.

    “Five hundred metres!”

    Kal felt the weight of gravity press against him as the view outside started to level out. Vibrations pulsed through the deck.

    “Three hundred metres.”

    There was the horizon line! Some landmarks in the distance too! They were almost-

    “One hundred-”

    “SHIELDS! REPULSORS! JETS! GO!” Ariek cried out. “CUT THE SUBS!”

    There was that sensation of rapid deceleration, the deck vibrated harshly and crew members held onto their stations. There was a jolt that forced them to lurch forward, Kal’s feet slipped off the console and outside a great wave wash over the viewport. They could not see anything but water. Counting the seconds, they all held their breath then finally the water washed away and the sky cleared above them. They were still flying! Settling back on the command chair, Kal sighed with relief and turned his head to see Ariek with a broad fixed grin staring at him.

    “The look on your face!” She said with amusement and chuckled. “We are crusin’ now.”

    “Yeah, sure…” Kal shook his head and brushed his hair back with his hand. “For the record, next time I will do it!”

    “Sure, take the fun out of it by using the Force why don’t cha.” Ariek scoffed. “I know you!”

    Kal nodded to the islands approaching from the distance. “Traded one tropical locale for another. Think Rowan is sending us hints?”

    “Probably wants a second honeymoon… come to think of it, don’t even think they had their first yet.” Ariek shrugged as she gingerly eased the ship onto its flight path. “Still, better than desert or snow to gather resources in. Anyway, best to wake the lovebirds, let them know we are about to arrive at our destination.”

    “Yeah, I’ll get right on that.” Kal murmured as he activated the com to page Kaylee and Rowan. There was no response. He frowned as he tried again with the intercom to the navigation module of the ship. It was off. “Looks like I have to do it the old-fashioned way.” Kal huffed as he stood up and left the bridge.

    The door whooshed open as Kal entered the navigation centre. His eyes were automatically drawn to the two figures by the holodisplay. He witnessed both Kaylee and Rowan had an arm around each other, hush whispers were exchanged between about something Kal could not pick up as they were deeply engrossed over the holographic charts. It was clear to him that they did not notice his presence.

    “Rise and shine!” Kal called out.

    Startled, Kaylee and Rowan both popped their heads up together from the map like two sand panthers caught nuzzling each other.

    Then came a noticeable shudder through the deck, usually associated with the landing gear touching solid ground. “We have arrived at the designated landing site.”

    “Designated?” Kaylee regained her composure, brushing a rogue lock of blond hair from her face. “As in you have spoken with port authorities?”

    “Eh.. ah no. Ariek just found a suitable spot at the location Rowan had suggested.”

    Rowan nodded and stood up properly. “If memory serves me well, the density of the jungle on the island is enough to hide a vessel this size.”

    “Way ahead of you.” Kal grinned.

    “Great! Well… we… Rowan and I have been planning our next set of moves.” Kaylee pulled away from Rowan’s side to reveal the topographical charts they were studying. “As you can see, there is the possibility of a settlement on the other side of this jungle. About a half day’s journey on foot.”

    “Kaylee and I will scout ahead and confirm that.” Rowan added. “I trust you still have my comlink frequency.”

    “Yeah but do you still have your comlink?” Kal glared and folded his arms in front of his chest.

    Rowan frowned at that remark.

    “Never mind, I will have mine.” Kaylee saw the exchange and placed a hand on both Rowan and Kal to settle that issue. “Once you have confirmation from us, send a handful of the crew to gather and barter for fresh supplies.”

    “Also Kal, if this place is definitely Selonia then expect Kaylee and I to catch a ferry directly to Corellia.” Rowan said as he stepped away from the charts. “Timing is of importance and I need what crew we got here to concentrate on getting the Icarus back to being shipshape rather than to take us further.”

    Kal shot him a perplexed look. “So you do not want the Icarus to take all of us over?”

    Rowan shook his head. “Call it intuition or gut instinct but until we know for sure, I do not want to bring further risks to the ship and crew. You should be clear here to get repairs done in peace.”

    “Fair enough,” Kal shrugged, “it is your call. Just let me know when we are needed and we be there like a shriekbat from hell!”

    “Thank you, Kal.” Kaylee smiled and then looked to Rowan. “We best get ready if we are to arrive before sundown. I want to double check our stores quickly before we go. I will meet you at the ramp in twenty minutes?”

    “Sure thing.” Rowan bowed his head slightly to her. “Be sure to dress cooly as it be hot outside.”

    “Will do.” She smiled and gave him a kiss. “I will see you in a bit.”

    Once the door had closed behind Kaylee, Kal laughed out loud.

    Rowan shot him a perplexed look. “What has gotten you amused?”

    “The way you watched her leave just now,” he nudged Rowan with his elbow. “You should ask her out.”

    “Out as in dinner out and dating?” Rowan arched his brow. “I guess you do have a point… Kaylee and I need time to ourselves and to be ourselves.” Rowan sighed and shook his head. “When we have time and all is settled, we will.”

    “No, sooner than that! You aren’t responsible for everything and everything does not fall squarely on your shoulders. Many hands make light work. Share the load.”

    “I tell you what. Since you insist...” Rowan smirked.

    “Ah man. Why do I feel like I just put my foot in it?” Kal groaned.

    “Because you did. Now there is something I want to run by you to and to check out while Kaylee and I are gone.” He drew Kal’s attention to the charts. The holographic display showed off the immediate region. The terrain was like half of a broken shell, bordered by hills and sharp peaks that jutted out of the ground like teeth. It all sweeps down into a valley dressed by thick jungle and continued down the south-east to the coast. “This is what I’ve dug up from our time preparing for the Corellian Campaign…”

    Kal pointed to the heart of the jungle. “From what I could tell out the viewport, that is how the terrain was where we have landed. Give or take some variations and such. We did not want to risk alerting what devices they might have if we turned on our scanners to get an accurate reading of the terrain. Ariek will be assembled a team to go outside and drag the cameonets over the ship to blend us in better.”

    “Excellent work.” Rowan looked quite pleased with their progress. “So you are definitely sure the terrain outside matches the charts?”

    “Give or take…” Kal shrugged. “Close enough I guess.”

    “Okay, so then we know there is a settlement which rest near a network of caves to the north. That is where Kaylee and I are going to head to. Since we are working under the assumption that this is Selonia... there should be an old CorSec safehouse over here.” Rowan pointed to a trailing path about three klicks to the west from where they had landed. “There is an underground bunker, supplies, weapons cache, communications… you get the idea. The entrance might be hard to find so take one of the survey teams with you but to enter you will need a passkey.”

    “And I assume that you have the key?”

    “Ah… yes and no... they are all unique and the one I have is tied to my identification, my old callsign. Once you have used the key, it will send an encrypted message to CorSec HQ on Corellia to notify the sector chief. Maybe you can get a hold of Becca or J.P through there.”

    “Great, I get the idea. So what is this passkey?”

    “I ah… can’t remember.”

    “You can’t remember? Then what good-”

    “I know, I know!” Rowan cringed. “I wrote it down in my personal journal. That journal was onboard the Raptor’s Fury when it was destroyed over Corellia when the Avalon was taken out. I have been trying to remember with no success.”

    “Ah..” Kal rubbed his chin. “All is not lost then.

    “If you are thinking about slicing through, it would take a long time and might trigger the anti tampering security.”

    Kal shifted uncomfortably “Not that. We… kinda… well.. I want you to know it was all Ariek.”

    “What was all Ariek?”

    “Remember that time on Hapes with Mara and ah-”

    “That mad house!” Rowan cursed under his breath as he cringed again and shook his head. “Do not remind me of that place,”

    “Ariek snagged a copy of your journal from your ship while she assisted in remotely getting your freighter out from impoundment.”

    “Ah…” Rowan gave him a stern look and then softened. “I can pretend to be furious but in this case I am grateful. I suppose it is not a bad thing for someone to know my history even though it raises an issue of privacy. The entry you need is the date of my graduation to Knight and under the same year we had first met.” Rowan turned back to the charts. “Okay, take a team with survey equipment with you to find the entrance just on the off chance that it is buried. Got it?

    “Understood and I will keep you appraised of our progress when it develops.

    “Thank you,” Rowan smiled. I best get ready and meet Kaylee.”

    * * * * * * * * * *

    It was not long before Kaylee had checked the stores and changed into more appropriate clothing for the upcoming trek through the jungles. Gone were her dark leather attire and now sporting tanned trousers and kingfisher blue tank top. She had found a matching blue shawl with embroidery in golden stitching to wrap around her shoulders and if necessary protect her head from the sun. She wished she had more of a selection from the limited wardrobe onboard the Icarus but they would do.

    Satisfied that she was all set, Kaylee shouldered a rucksack and left to check on her patient before leaving Icarus. Se’Iva laid unconscious in the infirmary alone and surrounded by monitoring equipment. Kaylee checked Se’s vitals and noted their levels on the datapad. She was stable and her brain activity matched that of someone who was in SWS. Maybe she was asleep after all? Kaylee wondered as she gazed at her serene form. The cuts and bruises on her body were healing and the wings were setting. She certainly deserves a rest after the ordeals she had been through.

    Kaylee sensed movement behind her, glancing to the pad to see a familiar reflection off the display. Closing down the datapad, she placed it back and turned to face Rowan.

    “Wondered how long it would take for you would show up.” Kaylee said to Rowan, who was sporting garb that was common amongst Corellian freelancers. “Come now, we have to head off.”

    “Yes.” He said as he came to stand beside her. His gaze was focused on at Se's restful form. “Though It is hard when needed in several places at once.”

    "She is strong, trust in her and her faith in you." She whispered and found his hand. "She is a fighter and resilient, we both know how hardy she is."

    Nodding, Rowan still didn't move.

    "I need you..." Kaylee whispered, “...Min larel.”

    Blinking, Rowan turned his head to her and smiled. “You have me, min larel.”

    "There is nothing more you can do for her now, my staff will tend to her every need possible."

    "Thank you" Rowan whispered.

    “No need to thank me.” She smiled as she heard the sincerity of his gratitude and squeezed his hand. "Are you all set?"

    "Ready when you are." He smiled as he watched her lift her shawl onto her head and brought the ends around her shoulders.

    “Okay, then we’re off like a bucket of eels!”

    TAG: Open, To Be Continued...
  5. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    OOC: Long time since I have posted anything :D

    IC: Investigator Cyrus Teg
    Various locations in Kala City, Kaladan
    Several hours before the blockade of the Union

    Cyrus strolled slowly towards the exit of the park. This meeting that he just had left him with even more questions than answers. Up to this point he had been dragging his feet as the case of duke Leto’s death was straightforward and there was hardly any room for an actual investigation. He was only uncovering some minor details but the fact that he was not allowed to go to Giedi Prime (the Ordonnen homeworld) and also the denial of access to their archive and practically made the investigation pointless. He had been on the verge of making things up to boost his prestige and artificially inflate his image. At this point the public would believe anything and probably the CSS, Castle Kaladan or the Kaladanese Government wouldn’t deny it to avoid the complications. He knew of such cases from history so Cyrus was pretty confident of the success of such an endeavour. Luckily for him and the population he was given a real task. One that might provide some tangible results. The Investigator’s guts told him that both cases were connected somehow and that this time he will get all the clearance he needed. Though the latter was more of a wishful thinking but the duchess’ signature along with the fact that it was given to him by a CSS agent (probably very senior one as well) gave him high hopes.

    It must have been a punch in the guts for the State Security not to be the prime investigators and the case to be given to a simple Kaladanese Police Investigator. Though this concerned him a bit as they might become a direct threat or at least a hinderance. Cyrus hoped that at least the Inquisition and the Bene Gesserits will stay out of this. It was too complicated as it was without their interference. Moreover they will most likely turn the investigation into another farce as always. These two organizations, in his opinion, were highly inefficient and even could be considered redundant with their narrow mindedness and petty bickering. The thing was that he couldn’t share this opinion with most people without risking unwanted attention to himself. Which was probably the most dangerous thing that could happen to him, even more dangerous than the regular encounters with criminals.

    A feeling was nagging him. There was something missing, an important clue a piece of the puzzle. The good thing was that this case will be the greatest he ever had. Probably one of the most important cases in the whole Union history. There was a chance that it will be as important as the case where Investigator M’koll uncovered a secret cabal within the Union or the one where Investigator Hark discovered a Sith cult. Cyrus was sure that he will make a mark on history.

    The sky was getting darker with each passing moment. There will be snow that night, at least that was what the weather forecast had said. He couldn’t wait until summer. Cyrus hated the cold and gloomy winters. But this was part of the natural cycle so there was nothing he could do to change that. He will have to endure walking around in the cold. These were the vagaries of his profession. The alternative - a boring desk job equally, appalled him so there was that.

    Cyrus loved his job and he was good at it despite all the rumors and blatant lies regarding his background. Back then, when he met his future wife Koraline, he didn’t know that she was his boss’ daughter. He only found out the truth when she brought him with her to present him to her parents. Needless to say it was a very awkward dinner. At that point for him she was just another medical student. Now she was a very respected and successful surgeon down at Maryon Atreides General Hospital and also a professor at the medical faculty of Kala City University. Both were the most prestigious institutions on the planet in their respective fields. He was proud of her, even though he rarely showed it. In the past few years they had grown cold and distant from each other. To make matters worse Cyrus had had some brief extramarital affairs. Though as he tried tried to justify his actions he managed to find a suitable excuse - their rather frosty relationship with Koraline. Unfortunately she knew about this all along, this made him even more uncomfortable, but to her credit didn’t say anything nor did anything rash. He was sure she remained faithful despite all the opportunities that were present at the time and that he had hurt her deeply. Even to this day he didn’t know how to make amends so they carried on in order to save the family for the sake of the kids.

    They both loved their children deeply, one of the few “common points” in their relationship. They both tried to conceal the situation from them, but they are sensitive enough to find out that things are not exactly what they seem to be. The fact that they both were almost constantly away from home didn’t improve the situation. They had three children: the two youngest ones Jorj (a boy, 10 years of age) and Marie (a girl, 8 years of age) and a young man in his late teens called Tobias. So for their sake they decided to save the family. Cyrus was curious whether Koraline had told her father, the Chief of Police and his boss, what he had done. Though he supposed that he would have found out one way or another. For now there was no indication that the old man knew. If that was the case, Cyrus was grateful to his wife for concealing the fact. Furthermore this would have increased the animosity between him and his boss. Not that their relationship was stellar by far.

    Hopefully the resolution of this case will decrease the tension between them and would make his career go forward. All in all, despite the fact that he was a hero Cyrus was not well accepted by his family and people close to him. Possibly the only person with whom he had a close tie was his partner, Jimmy "the Junior" Bates. The boy joined the police some years ago, fresh out of the academy, and probably due to the fact that someone must have hated him was appointed to Cyrus Teg, the hero troublemaker. Not much of a promotion, given the fact that everyone tried to create obstructions in their investigations.
    As if taken from a police film cliche their first days were a bit bumpy but after a while they managed to get along well and even formed something resembling a friendship. Cyrus still wondered why the young man was still with him but was grateful that he remained at his side. He was curious how Jimmy will react to the news that their task had been changed. They had been frustrated for the last few weeks and now some development at last.

    Cyrus approached the parked speeder. It was a standard one for the investigators - medium sized in dark blue color. Jimmy was leaning on the left door drinking what appeared to be a cup of coffee from the warm drink dispenser nearby. It was his third this day, sometimes Cyrus wondered how the boy even slept after taking so much caffeine. Though their job involved a lot of overtime and a lot of sleepless nights so Cyrus guessed that partly it was his fault. The harm had been done and considering the nature of their new case there will be even more working overtime.

    Jimmy took another big gulp and squished the plastic cup and threw it in the recycle bin nearby missing it by a few centimeters. The boy swore silently and went slowly to pick it up and to put it in the bin properly. Cyrus snorted in amusement and shook his head as he approached the speeder.

    “Protecting the environment, eh?”

    “Every man has to do his duty!” he replied with a mock indignation.

    Cyrus smiled and shook his head. “Come on, we have to go...”

    They both entered the speeder, this time it was Jimmy’s turn to drive. The engine purred as it was ignited followed by a subtle vibration indicating that everything was alright. The radio went on as well, drowning them in the fast beat of the current generation of music or whatever the young people called that noise today. Jimmy of course loved this style so Cyrus had to bear listening to it. He could hear the high-pitched voice of a bimbo “singing” about things that she probably didn’t understand. He doubted that even her audience understood it as well but that was an entire matter. Jimmy hurried to turn it off as he knew that they were not supposed to listen to it so loudly as they could miss a call from the station. Cyrus chuckled and shook his head again.

    “One day you are going to get us into trouble...”

    Jimmy grinned at him.

    “Yeah, but not today.”

    Cyrus indicated at the road ahead of them.

    “Watch the road.”

    Junior nodded as he looked back at the indicated way.

    “So...” he paused trying to find words “... how was the meeting?”

    Cyrus sighed and put the folder and the papers on his lap. He tapped the yellowish folder sporting a red stamp TOP SECRET and the Atreides’ seal. He activated the scrambler, one can never be too sure that the car was not bugged again. Cyrus had checked for bugs every day, but after the fourth one the opposing force got more creative. Before the meeting he managed to find one but he was not sure.

    “You know what this is?”

    “Nope...”

    “This...” he paused “...is our new mission.”

    Jimmy frowned.

    “New mission? What about the last one?”

    “Yeah, I know, but if the things that the man told me are true our previous case was a part of a much bigger one… We are hunting the Enlightened.”

    Jimmy bursted out laughing.

    “Yeah, right, then we are going to go after the bogeyman?”

    Cyrus was silent. Jimmy looked at him.

    “You are serious, aren’t you?”

    “Yes...and please mind the road. We need to survive this.”

    Jimmy nodded, blushing slightly.

    The traffic was heavy as hardly anyone wished to walk at this weather. There were some flurries flying around, soon there will be snow. Good news for the children and bad for the parents who will have to stay with them in the cold.

    “The mission was signed by the duchess herself, so I guess this time we will have all the access we need.”

    His partner whistled.

    “Nice.” he said as they passed a holo billboard with Her Ultimacy on it “Do we get to meet her?”

    Cyrus snorted in amusement. He knew of the boy’s crush on their leader.

    “Ask your girlfriend to arrange something.”

    Jimmy’s girlfriend, Amberley Vale, was the duchess’ personal aide. She got picked right from the university for this job and they still wondered how did this happened. It was surprising as she is highly introverted and despite being highly intelligent she lacked some social skills which made her an odd choice for an aide. It was also a mystery how she hooked up with Jimmy boy. He didn’t believe the story that they just met in a game store. Though as he came to think about it the “how” was not important. What was important was the fact that they loved each other and were happy together, despite the fact that Jimmy tried to make himself appear as not so involved in the relationship. Cyrus could see the small hints and signs as clear as day, but pretended to play along. After all the boy needed his self confidence…

    “You know that she can’t do that.”

    He knew that, after all you can’t meet with Her Ultimacy without having a good reason. Cyrus had met her father once when the man gave him the medal for capturing the bad guys.

    “Yeah, well maybe this time we might get lucky.”

    He saw Jimmy grinning.

    “Don’t get any ideas...” Cyrus added. “Besides, she will like me more than you.”

    Jimmy laughed out loud.

    “You wish, old man!”

    “I might be old, but still got charm.” he then became serious again “Anyway, we have to find a safehouse to set up camp. We can safely assume that if the Enlightened exist they surely had infiltrated our forces. Though I doubt that our investigations will go unnoticed for long.”

    “Yeah, I can check for an apartment for rent, somewhere out of sight.”

    “Try not to get one someplace seedy.”

    “I am not promising anything.” Jimmy paused “An off-topic question, do you know whether that duo Katya and Yavo will be coming to your brother’s club?”

    “Talk about change of topic.” Cyrus laughed again. “And the answer is, no, I don’t know and I don’t care.”

    His brother, Valerius Teg, owned a nightclub down at “Vice City” area called “Elegance” which was ironic as the people who went there after spending some time were everything but elegant. Cyrus knew that his brother had some illicit connections but could not prove anything, nor he wanted to. He had an irrational fear that the rumors about his family will be true and that he will be a fool not seeing the truth in time. At least his brother gave him some crumbs of information about the underworld presented as pieces of gossip that he had heard in the club. Cyrus wondered why his brother was not prosecuted by now, if the rumors are true. There was something in all this that worried him. Some day he will have to muster some courage and start an investigation. But not today…

    Something caught his attention, the traffic on their side of the boulevard had stopped and the speeders on the opposite side were hurrying forward or moving to the side. Cyrus frowned. What was going on? The answer followed a few second later as a military column containing tanks, Armored Personnel Carriers and trucks carrying soldiers rumbled by them.

    “What the...” this was from Jimmy.

    Cyrus rolled down the side window as he thought he heard something. He was right. The air raid sirens were wailing throughout the city. What was going on? Were they suddenly under attack?

    The comm. channel suddenly crackled.

    “Be advised, the Union is under siege by outsider forces. Martial law is in effect. All units stand by for instructions.”

    Cyrus opened the door and stepped outside. The roar of the engines of the military vehicles was deafening. People were going out from their speeders as well, looking confused and worried. He looked at the next intersection as soldiers were setting up roadblocks. Was the duchess dead? Was she captured? What was going on? He heard the comm. channel crackling again followed by the same emotionless female voice.

    “Hey man, something came up...” came the voice of Jimmy from inside.

    Cyrus frowned.

    “What?”

    “I’m sorry, the old man got killed...”

    “Oh...”

    To be continued
    Last edited by TheAdmiral, Feb 17, 2014
  6. Eme-ma_Himou Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 29, 2004
    star 4
  7. Jerjerrod-Lennox Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2005
    star 7
    OOC: This post is another collaboration between myself and CO, many thanks:)

    IC: Commander Sam Gerard, Captain Rickard Dorja
    Location: Captain’s cabin, ISD Relentless

    Dorja sat in his cabin, awaiting news from the bombers and thought, was it the right decision? Yes, yes it was but did his people think so? If there was a button, he would have pushed it himself than to order someone else to execute such orders. These people were trained professionals, they were drilled and were prepared to handle such scenarios and the collateral damage that happens during times of war.

    They will come around… no need to feel pity as the enemy certainly didn't. Nor remorse for that matter. This war would be so much easier against the droids. Loose lips, scuttle ships. They had to stop a potential leak to prevent more of their own from being needlessly-

    There was a chime at the door. He glanced to it, wondering what it could be then he remembered.

    “Come in.” He said and smiled when he saw his friend enter.


    Commander Sam Gerard entered, watching as Captain Dorja smiled at him. Luckily the Commander had managed to grab a cup of caf before his datapad pinged him with a message to say that the Captain was ready to debrief him.

    Dorja was also one of his closest friends, even though he outranked him they still shared a friendship that had lasted decades. They had been friends since the Academy, and while Dorja had gone into the Navy and had a family, Gerard remained a loner and joined the Army.

    Gerard and his team had a reputation for never failing a mission, Gerard recruiting his team based on their skills and requesting some of them be transferred from other ships. Young Noonan was only just a couple of years out from the Academy.

    Dorja had requested Gerard join the Relentless in part due to their friendship, in part due to Gerards reputation as a skilled leader. He wouldn't have had it any other way.

    Ever the consummate professional, Gerard did not acknowledge the smile, instead he strode to the Captain’s desk, snapped to attention and saluted.

    “Commander Sam Gerard reporting for debriefing” he then smiled looking down at the Captain “sir”

    “At ease Commander,” Dorja returned the salute and then gestured to a chair. “I am sure you would rather not stand on ceremony for me after what you had been through today. Ah… first things first...”

    Dorja stood up and walked over to the matching rosewood cabinet at the back corner of the cabin and unlocked it. Always a stickler for rules and regulations on board a military vessel, Dorja did have one exception; fine dining and all that encompassed it. It was a guilty pleasure born from the nobility of his family on Coruscant. He pulled out two small crystal glasses and a matching decanter containing a dark liquid. The stopper made a small whomp noise when Dorja removed it and filled one of the glasses to halfway. He turned to Gerard and held up the glass. “May I offer you a sherry, Sam?”

    Sam took a seat and nearly sighed with pleasure at finally getting to rest his aching bones, he wasn't getting too old for this….yet.


    “The more the merrier” he responded “I think we both deserve a drink after all that has happened.”

    “Quite right.” Dorja agreed as he handed Gerard a glass and then poured one for himself. “To the more simpler things in life…” He raised his glass as a small toast. “...and to good friends to share it with.”

    “Indeed, and to the Empire” responded Sam, sipping the sherry and feeling the liquid warm him up after the coldness of space, “And I have to say, it’s nice to have a break from all this running around”

    “On the contrary, I was going to say that all this action is a nice change from the waiting around and constant drilling to keep our edge sharp. Mind you, you and your team were the ones that had to do the running.” Dorja sighed and grimaced slightly. “It would have been better if our targets were the true face of the enemy, the Confederacy or something. Unfortunate business that it was one of our own to be taken down for acts of treason.”

    Gerard took another sip of his sherry, gathering his thoughts together.

    “Like you Rickard, I wish it was the same, however orders are orders, treason needs to be punished, and unfortunately the penalty is death” he took another sip “No doubt their deaths will be for nothing though, hopefully the analysts are sifting through the data now and we can find out what it was they were working on”.

    “Or records of who they were dealing with on the side.” Dorja added and took a sip. He enjoyed the warmth the liquid brought on as it went down. It was soothing and he felt years of pent up frustration leave him, his duty here on the fringes of the Chommell Sector’s border were finally over and the Relentless would at last return to civilized space. “They had it coming. The impudence and arrogance of Captain Eclipse had escalated the situation and Commander Varian is as guilty as she is...or was.” Dorja was quick to amend his own sentence.


    The interrogation of Panthera Squadron was still carrying on and so far it was believed that Captain Juno Eclipse had perished with her starfighter above Naboo when the Imperial Admiral John Thaw had fired upon her. None of this should have happened if everyone followed correct protocol! But it did happen and it was over and they’d have to clean up the aftermath. “Don’t get me started on those that operate outside of the Grand Admiral’s protectorate. The last thing we need right now is a civil war to tear this Empire apart.”

    “I agree” replied Gerard “The last thing we need is a civil war, we should focus on those who really need our attention like the Rebel scum. Besides traitors are the last thing we need to-”

    His datapad then beeped, signalling a message. Sam pulled it out of his jumpsuit pocket, apologizing to Dorja as he read the message. Savah had just sent her findings from her conversations with the good doctor, and she’d come up trumps.

    “Rickard, you’d better take a look at this” he said passing the datapad over the desk to his friend “My medical officer just got this juicy bit of news from Doctor Smith”

    Dorja frowned as he took hold of the datapad from Gerard and read the contents. His eyes narrowed at certain keywords from what Smith had divulged. “That witless wonder.” he muttered under his breath about the scientist and then returned the pad to Gerard. “On the surface it appears that Doctor Smith is clueless about the situation and had been more focused on his work to realise what was really going on over at the Ragnarök. I suppose that is a good thing we save an honest man from being punished with the others but further questioning is required to know if his innocence is genuine.”

    A thought crossed his mind and he frowned again. “However, playing devil’s advocate here. It could be misdirection. He did not let slip of any other new developments and the retrofitted prototype fighters he spoke of were already known to us from their flight exercises they performed in the asteroid field. Unless he was referring to the next phase of development beyond what we know.”


    Dorja leaned back in his chair, his gaze focused on the contents of the glass in his hand. “Though, Panthera Squadron’s Interceptors are now in our hands, that is one bit of technology we can salvage from this ordeal... the Grand Admiral’s orders permitting of course. I had them transferred to deep storage while the pilots are in our custody to keep them safe.” He looked back up to meet his friend’s eyes. “I still cannot believe the nearsightedness of those pilots. To allow Imperial military experimental hardware be freely handed to citizens of the Union to pilot shall be a mark on their record!” Dorja drained the last of his drink. “Regardless of the situation they were under, the risks were too great. Even though we recovered them safely, who knows what they might have picked up from that limited exposure to those Interceptors.”

    Gerard listened intently, draining the contents of his glass as Rickard spoke.

    “These Union chaps sound dangerous,we should not in any circumstances give them any piece of technology, especially these prototype fighters and whatever Doctor Smith was working on” he shrugged “Hopefully Doctor Smith will reveal on about the Ragnarok, until then we will just have to wait on what the Grand Admiral wishes to do next”

    “That shouldn't be too long if all goes according to schedule.” Dorja allowed a small smile. “Once the remains of the Ragnarök are swept away we shall set course for Naboo and leave this blasted location for good.”


    “I’ll drink to that” said Gerard raising his empty glass “I’ve always fancied a trip to Naboo” he set his glass down on the desk “Before I head off, I just need to ask, how’s the family?”

    Dorja smiled at his friend, now there was a subject that can put his mood at ease. “It would be good to spend some time with Amelia, she hates me being on these long term missions. Mother is doing well though the old Admiral has still not come to terms with his promotion to a desk. It is clear he misses the routine and rituals that come from the command of a ship but I know he makes a fine instructor for those rookies... I know he was joking about resenting the younger officers and recruits at the academy…” He chuckled, almost to himself ”...just don’t repeat what I said about him otherwise it would ruin his reputation for being a cantankerous old fossil and I will never hear the end of it.” Dorja leaned back in his chair. “How about yours, Sam?”

    “My lips are sealed old friend replied Gerard with a wink.

    “Well Father is still teaching Army recruits, like your old man he likes to joke about the younger recruits calling them “whippersnappers”. Mother is still helping my brother Colin with his art exhibits, he’s hoping to go to the next Art Expo on Pantolomin next month. His wife and kids are still doing well, got a video message last week from the kids, they really are little sweeties”

    Gerard paused with a slight smile on his face remembering his nephew and niece with their innocent smiles.

    “I know Amelia is interested in Colin’s work, I’ll make sure he gets her tickets for the Expo”

    Dorja smiled. “I am sure-”

    A double chime came from his desk intercom interrupted him.

    “I am sure she would enjoy that a lot. Just one a moment.” Dorja finished and answered the call. “Dorja here.”

    [“Zeema here, sir. Our bombers have completed their run and are now returning to the hangar.”]

    “Very good. Inform Captain Brandei that we are leaving the system. We may depart for Naboo once the bombers have landed.”

    [“It shall be done, sir. Zeema out.”]

    Dorja closed off the comm and looked to his friend and sighed. “Mission accomplished. I can almost taste the return to civilisation in the air already.”


    “It will be as sweet as any wine you could taste” Gerard arose from his chair “And now I shall leave you in peace, time to get my beauty sleep” he grinned.

    Dorja chuckled. “Don’t get too comfortable, it won’t take too long before we arrive at the Naboo system.”


    “No doubt everyone will be looking forward to it, good luck with trying to keep our new toys away from the Union my friend” Gerard smiled, saluted and left leaving Dorja to his thoughts.

    TAG: Eddard of the Union, Grand Admiral Thrawn
    SithStarSlayer likes this.
  8. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    IC: Amberley Vale
    Castle Kaladan, Kaladan

    Amberley felt comfortable sitting in her form fitting swiveling chair. Finally some peace and quiet. The duchess was gone and she will have at least a week of less stressful time to herself. A dish with the salad she took from the mess hall sitting in front of her, along with a glass of some sort of freshly squeezed juice she didn’t bother to ask what was made of as long as it was both sweet and sour - the way she liked it. She could have asked one of the servants to bring the food from the kitchen. After all her office was located in the residential part of Castle Kaladan and she as the personal assistant of Her Ultimacy the duchess Jori Atreides was entitled to some privileges. Some of the perks were a nice and comfortable office, to eat in a special dining area for staff who worked in the residential area and who were working close with Her Ultimacy, a direct access to the duchess, etc. Not that she took advantage of all of them, but it felt nice to know that they were there. Maybe she will have some time to catch up on her other tasks now that she had been avoiding for some time.

    Though it would have been better if they gave her that time so that she could spend it the way she wanted. But nothing happens as you want it to do. At least she won’t be bothered too much. It was stressful enough as it was, being disliked and sabotaged by most of her peers. The others liked to get in her way as she was a shy, a bit socially awkward person - a vulnerable person. They disliked her because she was nobody, the daughter of a clerk in a small town who became the personal assistant to the most powerful woman in the Union. She barely had finished her master’s degree in administration when she got the job offer. It was a complete surprise, she accepted of course, there was no time for hesitation. This was one in a lifetime opportunity.

    At first she didn’t ask herself why she, or where did the future duchess knew about her? Amberley was extremely happy. This was going to improve her resume immensely. It was as if she had won the lottery. The job allowed her to pay her student loan and also help her family back home. Actually she earned more than she could spend. Also the work hours did not allow much for going shopping. Not that she cared that much. Amberley was one of the so called nerds at high school, something that did not change when she moved to the big city as part of the social inclusion programme for students from smaller and poorer regions of the Union to get an opportunity to get a job and better education in the big cities. Due to her being a nerd she was able to get better grades at school which in order qualified her for this programme. Aside from studying she spent her free time playing datamachine games, following holovid series and holocomicses, as if taken out of a teen holoflick.

    The problems started the first few days on the job. Most of her coworkers were hostile towards her. Most of them were passive aggressive but the other part, the active ones, were the worst. They always tried to sabotage her in front of the then princess Atreides. Amberley wondered how she still got the job after all the interference. Only once, the princess talked to her about it. She said that she could see through all these petty acts but wouldn’t do anything about it as long as they don’t do something serious that can endanger her decision making process. She also said that even though her social status allowed her to play favourites this could disrupt morale and can be detrimental to what they were doing. So the only thing left was to endure the everyday petty problems that some of her colleagues caused to her.

    There were some days that she even considered quitting. But how could someone decide to leave such a job? Amberley knew that she should consider herself lucky for being picked from a myriad talented young people. That was what gave her strength to endure the pressure. Furthermore she considered these issues to be just a part of her growing up as a professional. By dealing with these issues she even managed to form some alliances and even made some people pause and rethink their strategy. Only the narrow-minded and short-sighted people still nagged her. Only one issue remained unresolved, at first she heard people whisper the question ‘How did that girl get the job?’. It was some time later that Amberley knew the answer. Only very few people knew the truth.

    It had been in the second year since she became the princess’ aide that she found out the truth. Jori (as she secretly called her in her mind) had been leading a double life for some years. The princess, with the help of some CSS agents, had been sneaking out of the Castle Kaladan using adaptive masks to conceal her identity. Later she told Amberley that she wanted to see how her subjects lived their lives, not read the reports or hear the stories. She wanted to feel the real thing.

    It was at that time the princess invited Amberley to join her. ‘Invited’ is a strong word, it was a polite way of ordering her to come with her during those escapades. That way Amberley managed to make a large number of friends from different social and educational backgrounds. One of the places they liked to frequent was a cafe-cum-bookstore in one of the more artistic districts of Kala City. There they had joined a group of young students and university drop outs from the upper middle class and lower upper class. They were mainly discussing history, art, philosophy, literature and some politics. Most of the people there were intellectual snobs that didn’t tolerate other people’s opinion. For Amberley it was an opportunity to practice her knowledge, but for the Princess it was just plain fun. The first time they joined that group she had been on edge when Jori started talking against House Atreides. This situation was so surreal that she had to pinch herself secretly just to check that she was awake. It was like sitting next to a schizophrenic person. That night Amberley dared not say anything as she was not sure what the princess was doing and what was the purpose. The rest of the group just took it in and even added things to the arguments.
    Amberley felt sorry for the detail of undercover CSS agents that had to come with them around the city. It was amazing how they managed to blend in with the crowd so she sometimes forgot they were with them. The princess told her how the first time she managed to sneak out of Castle Kaladan she got caught by her father when she got back. She wondered how Jori managed to convince her parent to allow her to go out like that after this incident. Well some things had to remain a mystery, after all. But one thing was sure, part of the deal was that she had to be accompanied by CSS guards. This didn’t make things easy when the princess decided to start crashing parties. The guards had to pretend that they were part of a group of friends or come one by one. It was amazing how no-one paid any attention that strangers just swung by and joined them. Amberley guessed that there was truth in the expression to hide in plain sight.

    She didn’t mind those escapades, as they gave her an opportunity to have social life. If it weren’t for them she would have just stayed at the apartment she rented and would never have met her boyfriend Jimmy. Jimmy, the investigator in training, who was paired with that despicable man Cyrus Teg, whom her boyfriend considered to be something like a father figure. Amberley always felt uncomfortable around the man, knowing his reputation, despite the fact that he was considered a hero of sorts in the Kaladan Police Force. At least that was what Jimmy told her, so she had some doubts about him. On the other hand she liked Cyrus’ family, especially his wife whom she respected deeply as a professional and an elegant woman.
    Amberley was amazed to find out that the princess did not approve of Jimmy as she believed him not to be mature and smart enough for a girl like her. Though she didn’t press the issue so Amberley decided to stay with him, she loved him even though that they were quite different…

    A knock on her door brought her back to reality. She almost knocked out the dish with the salad she had been eating. Then the door just open and a head just popped in. It was Kenneth, Her Ultimacy’s spin doctor - or also known as the media advisor. His job was to advise the duchess how to act in front of the different media outlets, arrange interviews, liaison with the media, etc. He was a handsome man her age. Ken, as she called him, was one of the few people who were actually friendly with her.

    “Daydreaming on the job, eh?” he grinned.

    She blinked quickly, as if woken up suddenly from a deep sleep.

    “I guess so...” she hesitated, feeling her face warming up from the embarrassment.

    He beckoned her with his hand.

    “Come...”

    Amberley frowned but stood up. Kenneth entered the room and close the door behind him.

    “Before we go, I need to ask you something?”

    Amberley’s right eyebrow rose.

    “Yes?”

    “Have you heard what had happened? The news had not gone viral on the news media as of yet. We are deciding how to phrase it.”

    Amberley frowned again.

    “No, I was just...” she paused trying to find the correct word “... relaxing.”

    Kenneth laughed and shook his head.

    “Why am I not surprised?” then his face slowly regained his seriousness “Anyway, try not to look too shocked. There was fighting and to keep it short Her Ultimacy was captured by the Empire and she is enroute to Coruscant with a small retinue. The Imperials are making a blockade around the Union, the Ruling Council is moving to the mountains. The non-essential personnel in the Castle will be asked to leave. For the time being we can stay, but I guess at a certain point we would be asked to leave.”

    Amberley gasped, she couldn’t hide her shock.

    “For now we are safe. Anyway, Leopold is fuming so try to avoid him.”

    Leopold was Her Ultimacy’s Chief of Staff.

    “Why?”

    “Because for now, Her Ultimacy’s uncle is the ruler, along with the Council and for now his staff will be taking over some of our responsibilities.”

    Amberley knew some of the people from the baron Atreides’ staff. His chief of staff was one of them - an arrogant, nasty and narrow minded man. Small wonder why Leopold was fuming. He is a good old man, could be strict sometimes but fair nonetheless. He was one of the people who was kind to her by offering guidance and assistance.

    “Anyway, we should go to the hangar now.” continued Kenneth.

    “Why?”

    “Because a shuttle is coming to the Castle, and we need to see who is coming.”

    “I don’t think it is our job to be the welcoming committee...”

    Ken drew a datapad from his pocket, tapped several times on the screen and turned it towards her.

    “This is an image of the ship approaching, don’t ask how I got the picture,” he paused for a dramatic effect, at least that was what she thought “you see that? That is an old Atreides shuttle.”

    “Do you think it carries who I think it does?”

    He shrugged and grinned.

    “Only one way to find out!”

    She nodded and followed him out of the room. The corridor was bustling with activity. Soldiers were moving up and down. Orderlies, secretaries, assistants and some maids were carrying boxes with documents around. They were to be sorted for burning or to be moved to a safe place in case the outsiders decided to attack. The faces displayed a rich palette of emotions - fear, determination, shock, numbness, anger and even some excitement.

    Somehow they managed to maneuver through this hustle and bustle, though their progress was minimal. They were still in the residential area. She winced several times as people nearly destroyed precious pieces of art - and given that Her Ultimacy was an art patron those people would have had a very unenviable fate. Amberley nudged Kenneth to take a slight detour as she wanted to avoid meeting Lilian, one of the “Honored Matres” - as the duchess jokingly called them. These were young women from noble houses that were sent to Castle Kaladan to be presented, some of which remained there as lady-in-waiting to Her Ultimacy. Some of them were particularly nasty and arrogant and caused her enough grief, but after a couple of incidents the duchess warned them not to bother Amberley. So they confined themselves only to give her bad looks and give some ambiguous remarks. Lilian was the nastiest of all and Amberley wondered why Her Ultimacy still keeps her around - though she mentioned once that she was bemused by their squabbling and trying to please her. Which was strange as she despised sycophants.

    Just as they took that turn the Head Housemaid, Anna, appeared out of nowhere. By the look on her face she had been looking for Amberley.

    “Miss Vale, do you have a moment?”

    She stifled a sigh.

    “Yes, Anna, how may I help you?”

    Kenneth looked annoyed. There was a we-don’t-have-time-for-this-nonse type of look on his face.

    “I am worried that from what I heard, Her Ultimacy didn’t take with her the maids that were supposed to serve her during this trip. Do you… is she displeased with our services?”

    Amberley knew that the duchess didn’t like having any type of servants around her. Once she confided that she felt awkward having a maid helping her to get dressed or do things that she could easily have done. So she confused the maids and sometimes annoyed them as she didn’t let them do their jobs properly.

    “I am sure that she did this for a good reason. Her Ultimacy knows that there are some of you who were arrested along the Lord Advisor and she does not want others to suffer as well. Don’t worry about that, you should worry about her safety and pray for her safe return.”

    Anna nodded energetically in agreement.

    “Yes… yes! We all worry about her, we even talked with the Castle’s chaplain that the servants who are off-duty to gather in the chapel for a prayer for her safety. You can join us if you want!”

    Amberley smiled.

    “I will try to come. Don’t worry Anna, things are hectic right now. Besides, Her Ultimacy has a lot on her mind right now. I will convey her your worries.”

    Despite being wary of having other people do menial jobs for her the duchess was actually good with them. Of course she kept her distance, but was friendly enough. She inquired about the well-being of their families, signed greeting cards for different occasions like birthdays, national or religious holidays, knew the names of everyone who served her and knew some basic information about them - for instance family status, whether or not they had children. Because of that people loved her.

    As Anna moved away shouting orders at some unfortunate maids who tried to sneak away from work, Ken nudged her to continue walking.

    “Good job...”

    “Sometimes it pays off being nice to other people, you know?”

    He said nothing, just grinned.

    They were walking through the beautifully ornate corridor - walls made of expensive dark-brown wood with different floral and avian ornaments carved in them, with paintings hanging at an even interval, the parts that were not covered by the wood the walls were painted in light pink. The parqueted floor was covered by a thick purple carpet. All of the doors were made of wood and they had to be pushed or pulled as opposed to just slide. Some things were just old-fashioned. The brightness of the lamps had been increased as the day was dying - as she saw through one of the windows they passed. The residential area had the best view in the entire Castle - after all it was in the top part of the tall pyramid-like structure.
    Then something rare happened - the turbolift arrived at the floor just as they reached it. Something more, it was not crammed with people who decided to have a lively discussion on their way down or up. The cubicle was empty. Amberley and Ken both raised their eyebrows.

    “I will have to buy a ticket for the lottery today.” murmured Kenneth.

    “Yup, split the prize afterwards?”

    “Deal...”

    They spent the last couple of minutes while they rode the turbolift down in silence. Amberley wondered what was going on, who was on that shuttle? Some distant relative who decided that they wanted a piece of the pie while the duchess was gone? They were about to find out. The decor of the level where the hangar was situated was more bland and more practical. At least in the areas that they were allowed to pass. The duchess and any visiting dignitary passed through better decorated corridors that resembled the residential levels. The number of guards was increasing by the number of meters they passed. Something was going on…

    They were stopped by two masked Death Guards just before they were about to enter the hangar. Luckily the entrance was open and they could see the shuttle landing. She saw the duchess’ uncle standing there with a retinue of guards. After several moments a lone figure exited the craft. It was a female - old, but still looking good, her features were quite familiar. Amberley turned her head towards Kenneth, he seemed ashen and shocked.

    “Why is she here?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Don’t you know who she is? She is the duchess’ grandmother...”

    Now it dawned her. The woman who chose self-exile, the one who stepped away from the throne so that her son, Leto, could take it and denied it to her older child - Paulus. Things were about to get interesting…

    To be continued.
    Last edited by TheAdmiral, Jul 9, 2014
    Corellian_Outrider likes this.
  9. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~ I hope everyone is doing well. Again, I apologise for my absence. The deadlines stole what time I had and directed to an animation project that I am involved with. Things are progressing well but enough of that and here we go. I want to thank @Jerjerrod-Lennox for the fantastic joints posts we had steadily been working on, always a joy :) also to both J-L and @TheAdmiral for keeping the flames going. Here's to more.

    ~IC~ Captain Brandei
    Location: Obligon Nebula - ’Judicator’

    Two Imperial Star Destroyers held their position along the fringe of the Obligon Nebula. The Stormhawk and the Judicator appeared as two bone-white daggers against the fiery swirls of red and orange clouds of dust and gases.

    Onboard the bridge of the Judicator, the atmosphere was less than idyllic with the activity taking place in the crewpits.

    “Captain, communications from Relentless.” The comms officer reported from his post as Captain Brandei walked past. “Only to say they are outbound to Naboo and to wish us luck.”

    “Ah, well,” Brandei was momentarily caught off guard and off his line of thought. “Good on them, they deserve to go home. Captain Dorja and his crew probably half mad from been stranded here for far too long. Don’t know how we would have faired up under similar circumstances.” He patted the officer on the shoulder to dismiss him. “Now, back to unravelling this mysterious ghost fleet.”

    ‘Ghost fleet…’ Brandei thought. One moment the Judicator’s crew were all hands on deck and ready for battle and here they are stuck in the middle of nowhere investigating a mystery.

    It was only several hours ago since they had joined the Chimaera from Naboo to resolve an internal situation between Admiral Thaw and the rest of Captain Eclipse’s group. During that encounter, the sensors had picked up a contact from the edge of their scopes coming from the Obligon Nebula. There was reports about pirate raids and a “Be On The Lookout” for Kuati forces in the vicinity following up on that particularly problem but they have yet to hear anything from that task force.

    After the Chimaera left for Naboo, the Judicator and Stormhawk were instructed to investigate the unknown entity while on standby to provide support to Captain Dorja, if he required it, for Thrawn’s directive regarding the fate of Eclipse’s Ragnarök.

    Dozens of probes had been launched into the nebula. Many of them were lost, swept away by a jet of gamma and electromagnetic radiation that originated from a young pulsar. Only two probes remain and transmitted back what looked to be a debris field. From what the Judicator’s crew could tell from the garbled imagery that came back to them, there was a derelict Nebulon-class frigate amongst the yet to be identified various parts of starships and more larger wreckage.

    It was tenuous work but the probe had managed to get inside the vessel, it’s objectives was to find and collect the Captain’s log, gain data from the bridge and to find out what had exactly happened to the ship.

    The probe passed through silent halls of warped and cracked bulkheads, disturbing the thick particles that hung suspended in the zero gravity environment. Each section showed holes pocketed the plating with signs indicating burn residue around the ragged rims with the starfield and nebula peeking through from beyond.

    While a team of technicians focused on that particular probe, another team focused on the other probe sweeping the debris field. The results that came back were mixed, pieces identified came from various components belonging to a collection of known manufacturers. Whether it was an assortment of crafts to form a multipurpose unit or that the ships themselves were pieced together or maintained by scavenged parts.

    “How is that probe going?” Brandei asked the team. “Anything regarding that graveyard of debris?”

    “There is an awful lot of astromech parts in the mix. Photoreceptors, multifunction appendages, charred pieces of chassis. We found half a torso from one and a dome belonging to another. Can tell by the difference by the distinct markings.”

    “Ahh.” Brandei nodded. “Which means whatever the craft was, it had to be large enough to house their own hyperdrive and an inboard astromech mechanic.”

    “Indeed, the remains of several armatures suggest they belonged to a fighter of a single class type. if we are lucky, we might be able to salvage and extract some of their data from the broken droids or if we find an intact computer.”

    “Then it is not Imperial.” Brandei concluded. “Any insignias or markings to tell whom they belongs to?”

    “Agreed that it is definitely not Imperial though hard to tell who though. There is no consistency so it is probably a ragtag group of pirates or mercenaries. We will know more once more data arrives.”

    “Very well. In the meantime I shall report in with the Chimaera and have them appraise the Grand Admiral of our progress.”

    TAG: Grand Admiral Thrawn, Relentless, open
    Last edited by Corellian_Outrider, Aug 7, 2014
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  10. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    OOC: This is a joint post between me and @Corellian_Outrider that had been in the works for quite some time. Thank you C_O for the patience.

    IC: Lord Commander Basil Xavier, Rowan Halcyon, Maya Fyodorovna, duke Darius Atreides
    Location: en-route to Castle Kaladan; Castle Kaladan; Kala City; Kaladan
    Year: 1113 ATC - (2519 BBY)

    The dinner was over, as expected it was uneventful, which was great from Basil’s perspective. It had been some time since nothing happened, well nothing noteworthy. There was no attacks, no assassination plots and all that poodoo that was becoming the norm in the Union. He had been worried for some time about it, the Union of the Great Houses was becoming a place of mistrust and petty intrigues. There was no sense of unity, of purpose. Now everyone cared about profit and how to ruin the lives of the rest. Sometimes he wondered how will he survive in this mess but then remembered that there was a beacon of hope - House Atreides. At least the patriarch of the house - duke Darius Atreides. The Xaviers were loyal to the Atreides to the point of absurdity. Which, to Basil was a good thing, as such loyalty was rare nowadays.

    The dinner luckily went fine, the duchess Atreides had left early with her retinue of sycophants, thus relieving him of some of the pressure that had been building inside. Hopefully his fiance Maya and his friend from the outside Rowan didn’t notice the tension. Basil longed for some time just to relax, but these events were too important, all the time during the dinner he had been thinking. The blasted duchess provoked him, he noticed the look in her eye when she finally saw and recognized him. There were some problems with the Xaviers in her mind. At least that was what he caught from that look and he couldn’t remember what his House might have done to hers... ‘Now where is that speeder that I ordered to come?’ he wondered as they were waiting at the parking lot. Basil looked around, there were some parked speeders with their chauffeurs huddled in small groups chatting and laughing at some jokes or gossip. His companions were standing there in an awkward silence.


    I frowned inside. I could feel that something had my friend on edge, while he hid it well though I could sense that there was some anxiety coming from him. Moistening my lip, I was going to ask him about it but thought better of it, this was probably not the right time. I glanced away to look up at the sky and gauged how the clouds were, whether it was going to rain or not, before returning my focus back to Basil and his lovely fiance.

    “It looks like it will be a fine evening.” I smiled, hoping to take their minds off things. “Again, I want to thank you both for the lovely dinner, it’s good to be with companions every once in awhile.”


    Suddenly a very long and black limousine stopped in front of their little group. Basil frowned, this was odd, this was the duchal speeder and the duchess had left half an hour ago. What was going on? This worried him, it meant that something was going on that needed his immediate attention. The passengers’ door opened and the duke’s aide Jorgen Marshall came out. A tall middle-aged man with a constantly scowling expression on his face stood up in front of them.
    “Baron Xavier...” Basil cringed at the usage of his title “”...duke Darius Atreides ordered me to bring you and your… outsider friend with me to the castle.”

    ‘Outsider?’ since when they had begun to use this term? What was going on in the Union, was he so out of the loop? Did the Union change overnight?

    “What about my fiance?” he decided not to bring the matter about the term ‘outsider’ up. He was going to discuss this with the duke.

    “She will be brought home after we leave you at the castle. In another speeder of course...”

    “Of course...”

    Mister Marshall ignored Basil’s sarcasm and indicated with his hand that they were to enter the speeder. The baron looked at his friend Rowan apologetically. He had been in the speeder on very few occasions. It was a piece of art - specially produced on Alderaan, a gift from the royal houses on that planet to the duke. Elegant, but not overly posh, just as how the Atreides liked everything. The passenger area could carry up to six people: three seats in the back and three behind the driver area facing the other three all made of expensive black leather. In the middle there was an oblong table made of some sort high quality wood that Basil could not identify. There was a minibar and a small cupboard with glasses in it.


    The arrival of the speeder was clearly unexpected and I felt my muscles tense, ready to act accordingly if came down to that. ‘No,’ I observed the figure whom addressed Basil. I regarded the new arrival and his hand with detached curiosity, no sense in giving the newcomer any indication of what I am capable. ‘Outsider?’ I had to smirk at that. ‘Yes, I suppose that is true.’ I remarked in my head.

    I caught Basil’s look and gave him one of my own to assure him to not worry about me. However, I felt a pang of concerned for Maya’s well being if she was to be separated from us. No need to give voice to that concern to myself as I knew Basil must be thinking the same. Silently I followed my friend’s lead and trust in his judgement.


    They rode in silence. Basil felt conflicted: on the one side he was loyal to his duke and his requests but on the other he was furious for being fetched like that. What was going on? Why the rush and so late in the evening? The duke better provide him with answers. Maybe there was an emergency. He hoped that the duchess was not involved in all this. Anyway he was going to find out soon enough.

    The lights of the city flashed by them. This night there were not that many people outside which was odd by the Kaladan standards. The city was awake all day and all night, like Coruscant and some of the other major worlds around the Galaxy. But tonight, there was hardly anyone to be seen. It was as if everyone was feeling that something of a historic importance is going to transpire.

    Basil looked at his fiance. She seemed a bit nervous, he felt angered at the fact that he could not do anything to help her. But there was nothing to be done, orders were orders. Though he doubted that anything will happen with her. He will call her in the morning as this meeting will end in the middle of the night. The next day will be tough as Basil doubted that he will be able to sleep. Probably this will be the beginning of a series of sleepless nights.


    I could feel my frustration rising as my gaze switched between the other occupants of the speeder. I can tell where Basil’s priorities lie and of Maya’s nervousness but what of this other fellow that delivered the summons? This interruption was getting in the way of our evening. They should know that the longer my ship was berthed, the less I make from my next cargo run to the Corporate Sector. The speeder isn’t going THAT fast, I may as well step out now and be on my way. No! I glanced down to my lap and gave a small cringe as I pushed that line of thought away. That is the bitterness talking, she would not want that of me nor would she approve of abandoning a friend in a time of need. ‘Friend… not many of them are left… some still remain, no matter how hard I try to push them away to protect them. Part of me had to wonder... was it to protect them or bury the pain?’

    I glanced out the window and watch the cityscape pass us by with detached focus. I should be happy… I am happy for Basil… Just not for myself and that constant reminder of what was lost. My gaze returned to the inside of the speeder and gave Maya a reassuring smile. Time does not heal that quickly and then there are the scars that remain. Rather than let my mind mull over that, I decided to try something to occupy my thoughts with something else instead. I discretely threw Basil a wink as I turned and remarked to the stranger. “You are quite the conversationalist, especially for a temporary host such as yourself. Any idea about what this is about? Or how far along we got to go before we arrive at our destination?”


    Even as a non-Force user, or a psyker as they were fancifully called these days, Basil could see the hostility in the other man’s eyes. Was he always like that and how did he get a job in the Atreides household? Was he one of the duchess’ people? What was this collective madness? Was Basil so blind not to see this coming?

    Before Mister Marshall could reply Basil interrupted him. He didn’t want to listen to that nonsense.

    “The duke needs us I presume and we will know why soon enough.”
    “Fair enough.” I nodded and decided to let it slide for now. While I don’t like being left in the dark, no doubt they have their reasons. Just have to keep my mind open to prepare for anything. I can play along as the ‘ignorant’ outsider, I have observed that stereotype seems to be demanded by some officials around the docks. Who knows, this invitation could prove beneficial in more than one way.


    Basil could see that they were approaching the old Castle Kaladan. The new one was being built on the opposite side. It was going to be a tall, imposing building, maybe in tone with what was going on with the Union. The one they were going to, was not so spectacular, but beautiful nonetheless. It was a very large, cream-colored, house with multiple ornaments on its facade. Most of the large windows were dark, but the one of the duke’s office was lit. So they were going to meet him there.

    The metal gates opened to let in the speeder. Underneath them was a white road and the repulsors were kicking pebbles around. They drove through the park, with sculptured bushes and actual marble sculptures. The speeder approached the front stairs.

    “I guess this is it...” said Basil.


    My eyes took in the old castle as we disembarked the speeder. My gaze travelled from the base, all the way up to the battlements that surround the roof. The large stone blocks not only made it look smooth but also gives the impression that it is solid enough to withstand artillery fire. The structure was reminiscent of classical Corellian architecture but that was the only familiarity to me. The aesthetics brought it more in line with the culture of the Union and no doubt the interior would also reflect that. Quite different from the Palatine back home. I could not sense any malice coming from the entrance of the castle but that did not mean there was none within those walls. The request to come here was unconventional after all and I could not afford to be lulled into a false sense of security. For now, all I can do is stick close to Basil and be ready to make a quick getaway.


    They disembarked the speeder as the butler held the door open for them. Basil turned towards Maya, who was still sitting inside the vehicle. She smiled at him reassuringly and waved at him subtly. He nodded, his face didn’t reveal how he felt at that moment. A wave of light hit him as the main door opened, forming an illuminated rectangle on the dark wall. Basil pitied the servant who were ordered to stay up late so that they could attend to their needs.

    “Let’s see why the duke needs us.” Basil turned towards Rowan just as the speeder moved away in the dark.
    “May as well,” I sighed as I could no longer see the departed speeders, “since we are here after all.” I caught Basil’s gaze, gave a lighthearted “...or we could always walk back if not up for it.”
    I turned to the light emitting from the entrance to the building. How can something that brings warmth and refuge from the cold and dark be also foreboding? Or maybe I am thinking too much into this. I bit the inside of me cheek. Definitely overthinking it. This is not about me, this is for my friend and I happened to be in the area. Besides, it is probably for best that I am here to help out if he needs it. I gave a subtle nod and muttered under breath so only Basil could hear “Got your back.”


    Basil smiled and nodded in appreciation. The two of them climbed the marble stairs followed by the brooding butler. By the door they were greeted by a sleepy looking footman. The poor lad must have been exhausted and now he was forced to stay up late just to hold the door for him when he comes and later when he goes.

    Basil turned to the butler.

    “I imagine, the duke is in his office?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “You can leave us, I know the way.”

    The man was about to protest when Basil frowned at him, so he closed his mouth and gave him a nasty look. He made a 90-degree turn and walked towards a corridor on the side. ‘Good, at least I won’t have to see his face...’

    The vestibule was brightly lit. It branched out to The mosaic covered floor glistened from the light. Pictures hung on the cream colored walls, floral motifs decorated them. Wall lights were set at equal intervals between the pictures. Vases and small sculptures were put on postaments. Granite columns supported the second floor. The staircase was at the far end of the vestibule and in the middle it branched towards the two opposing corridors. On the wall directly opposite of the front door hung the portrait of the founding father of House Atreides - Atreus. It represented a regal looking middle aged man in an old style military uniform.

    Basil turned towards Rowan.

    “I know you are a psy… I mean, you are a Force user, do you sense anything that might give us clue what is going on?”


    “Does not quite work like that,” I sighed at the question, my gaze glided over the decor, “but as far as I can tell, we are not in immediate danger. As for the purpose of this visit…” I shrugged and grimaced at Basil. “Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever it is, there is some trepidation in the air.”


    Basil nodded. It didn’t hurt to try.


    I followed Basil’s lead through the old palace to the Duke’s Office, my eyes always watching for any possible escape exits in case this was an ambush. Can never take too many precautions when dealing with the unknown, I blame that line of thought on the war happening between the Republic and Empire. I reflected.

    There was another hallway, this one had suits of armour line the wall at intervals. As we walked along, I could tell the way the buckles and pieces were fitted that they were decorative, more for military parade than for warfare. It would give the wearer the freedom to glide through a battlefield. My thoughts momentarily drift to that of my Uncle, how he once took me to a jousting match with Connie. I did not quite understand the cheers of the crowd when blood was spilt even though my Uncle claimed it was ‘All for honour.’ All that fanfare for blood and I saw no honour in losing one’s life just to entertain the crowd. I chuckled to myself as I remembered Connie was bored too but we had found ways to entertain our young imaginations during those matches.


    Basil walked silently, he paid no attention to his surroundings. The building felt empty, deserted, though it might be because of the late hour. He wondered if there were others like the butler - suddenly becoming hostile towards the “outsiders”. Basil felt sorry for the duke, having to live with such people. Somewhere in the distance a clock was ticking, it was an archaic device, round face with intricate patterns on it, the outer casing made of wood. It gave a sense of connection with the past. A certain feeling of continuation…

    As they approached the duke’s office the sound of bells ringing twelve times could be heard indicating that it was 12 o’clock. If only they could turn of this function, but there was nothing that could be done. It gave Basil an ominous feeling. From the massive wooden door he could hear the muffled sounds of music coming from the office. That was odd enough, though the duke exhibited some minor oddities before. Basil knocked on it.

    “Come in...” came the calm, but commanding voice of the duke.

    It was Basil’s cue, so he pressed the golden handle and pushed. The lights in the office were dimmed. For a ruler of a great House the room was a bit austerely decorated. Two large bookcases opposing each other. Some painting hanging on the walls. In the middle there were four brown leather armchairs surrounding a small glass table. On it there was a tray with a couple of teacups with steam going out of them. In the far back there was a massive wooden bureau with some trinkets on it and a computer. On the right wall there was another door that was mainly used by the maids or the duke’s staff.

    The duke was sitting behind his bureau in his large swiveling chair. There was an open book laying in front of him and a cup of tea on the side. He seemed relaxed, but Basil knew that looks could be deceiving. Darius Atreides was a middle aged man, with a calm and regal face, he always had an air of sadness surrounding him - as if knowing that his destiny was going to be a tragic one. His dark blond hair was going gray and he seemed to be balding a bit.

    The music he was listening to was slow and smooth. Alarms rung in Basil’s mind, this was not good. The duke switched off the recording, then stood up and smiled.

    “Ah, gentlemen, come in and sit.” he moved around the desk “I took the liberty of asking Ms. Daisy to make us some herbal tea.”

    Darius Atreides approached Rowan and gave his hand for a handshake.

    “You must be Rowan, Basil and my friends of Corellia had told me a lot about you. It is good to finally meet you, young man.”

    “Ah.. Khasaan’l..” Was all I could utter as I was quick to hide the shock from the tone of my voice. It was rare for me to be addressed by a stranger by my true name rather than my alias. As a recovery, I stepped forward and shook the man’s hand firmly, “I guess the pleasure is all mine. Whatever they told you... all lies, the lot of them.” A small smirk appeared on my face. “If I am not mistaken, you must be the Duke, Darius Atreides.”


    The duke laughed.

    “Yes, I am the duke.” he gestured towards the chairs “Come, sit...”

    Darius then moved towards his desk and took a delicately designed box full of chocolate candy and brought it on the glass table.

    “I like to supplement the tea with these, you should try them as well...”

    TAG: To be continued
    Last edited by TheAdmiral, Aug 18, 2014
    Corellian_Outrider likes this.
  11. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~IC~ Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo, Lieutenant Garston
    Location: Naboo - Theed

    Rain fell lightly against the windows of the suite at the Deeja hotel in Theed. The usual bustle of a new day in the capital city had gone unnoticed as the rhythmic drumming of water on glass erased any sense of the passing of time.

    Inside the suite was a world of its own altogether. The crackle from the fireplace was noticeable among the sound of the rain. The radiant light shimmered steadily, illuminating the room and the rich kriin-wood paneling which further enhanced the cosy sensation of warmth. In contrast, there came the cool blue glow from the holographic displays and datapad monitors. The walls of text and diagrams were streaming through the devices in different scripts.

    Aside from the universally known aurabesh, Lieutenant Garston could recognise one other script, the strange elliptic runes to that the natives of Naboo use. He could not remember the name of them nor did it matter. To him, they were unsophisticated compared to the galactic standards. As his gaze glided over the texts, a chill tingled down Garston’s spine as two harsh blood red eyes pierced through the displays back at him. He straightened to attention immediately.

    “Pardon the intrusion, Admiral. Message from Captain Brandei.” Lieutenant Garston informed Grand Admiral Thrawn.

    “Proceed, Lieutenant.” Thrawn’s response was crisp.

    “Preliminary sweep showed remains of a Nebulon-B class escort frigate and possibly several starfighter squadrons that are yet to be identified. Brandei also added that it is believed that the vessels belonged to the same group whom raided Xa Fel some time ago.”

    Those red eyes narrowed when Garston uttered the word ‘remains’. “Have they identified the cause of damage?”

    “They are still investigating however the site is problematic for their probes. The quadrant is swept regularly by a jet of gamma originating from a pulsar within that section of the nebula.”

    

“Intriguing.” The tone of Thrawn’s voice was cool, his eyes brightened a fraction as his brow creased. “Had the pulsar been observed prior to Brandei’s investigation?”

    “I do not know, sir.” Garston was uncomfortable admitting that to the Admiral. “However, I will refer to Captain Dorja’s old survey reports of the region to find out. Do you think they had something to do with the pulsar, sir?”

    “The nebula is where stars are born and die, most there become binary partners. It is possible that the pulsar might have a twin or is a partner to another star. It is possible that the they thought they could shroud their presence at the right position without being affected too much by the emissions. A decision that can be fatal if the information proved to be incorrect.”

    “I see, sir.”

    “Has there been any further news on the Kuati forces?”

    “Negative, sir. We lost all communications since they had entered the far side of the Obligon Nebula. Possibly interference from the intense activity of radiation there.”

    
Thrawn clasped his hands together, his red eyes glittered noticeably stronger. “If that is the case, the risk is unacceptable for our people to go in after them. Captain Harbid is scheduled to the Arrissa Field in a few days with supplies. He shall be instructed to bring the Death’s Head there early, pull the Inexorable and the Nemesis from their border patrol to provide additional coverage. Once there, they are to await further instructions.”

    “Do you feel that it is necessary to find them, sir?”

    “A considerable amount of military hardware is unaccounted for and on our doorstep, Lieutenant. If the same fate befalls them, nothing should be left behind to be salvaged by other parties.”

    “Very well, sir. I will send out the dispatch.”

    “One other thing, Lieutenant. Contact Captain Aban of the Bellicose to cut his tour of Chommell Minor early and resume sector patrol. Then have the Chimaera notify us as soon as he learns further more from Captain Brandei or regarding the Kuati forces.”

    “It shall be done, sir.”


    TAG: Relentless, open
  12. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~This is a triple joint post between @Jerjerrod-Lennox, @TheAdmiral and myself. It was a pleasure to write together on this post.

    IC: Captain Rickard Dorja, Commander Sam Gerard, Master Eddard Dondarion,
    Location: Imperial Star Destroyer 'Relentless', Chommell Sector, en route to Naboo


    A small cheer erupted from the crew pit of the Relentless as the stars stretched out to lines as they entered the dimension of hyperspace. ‘Such behaviour is a clear breach of discipline on board an Imperial Star Destroyer,’ Captain Dorja remarked only to himself before disregarding that violation. ‘Allow them that moment of respite to get the thrill of leaving this forsaken place out of their system. It had been several long years in isolation babysitting the Ragnarök until it… well, had outgrown its usefulness.’

    Their mission had ended on… what Dorja would not publicly admit… to be a satisfying note. They have the ambassador of the Union and their shuttle safely on board, the majority of Captain Eclipse’s Panthera Squadron in custody and undergoing interrogation, Commander Gerard’s strike force had acquired the research data and logs belonging to the Ragnarök before the vessel was scuttled in a glorious blaze. Now here they are, finally on their way to rejoining civilisation again.

    At the end of that journey would be the Grand Admiral, awaiting their arrival. What will happen after? Dorja dare not make any predictions about where the Relentless will be assigned next, nor what will happen to their guests. He should probably inform the ambassador of the Union that they had made the jump and will be arriving at Naboo in a few hours. Dorja turned away from the main viewport and strode along the main walkway to leave the bridge. As he passed the com station, one of the officers stationed there gave him an update on the interrogation of Panthera Squadron.

    So far each of their stories shared similarities overall however there are inconsistencies with the finer details. Whether they are hiding something or their perspectives were warped from being in the moment at the time of their flight from Naboo, the interrogator did not state. Dorja grimaced slightly, ‘Oh well, they be out of my hands soon enough’ he thought to himself. He then thanked the officer for giving him the message and then asked him to page Commander Gerard to join him.

    ****

    Commander Gerard was asleep in his small cabin when he heard something beeping incessantly at him. He had managed to get some sleep after falling into his bed with his jumpsuit still on, and Gerard was glad it was a slightly comfier bed than what they supposedly called beds in the barracks.

    Sam groaned and sat up, wishing the incessant beeping would go way. Before he had fallen asleep in his cabin he had managed to get a bite to eat in the mess hall with his team. They were all laughing and joking around, letting off some steam after another successful mission and a job well done.

    Eventually Gerard sighed and wandered over to his side table where his datapad was beeping at him. Captain Dorja had sent him a page asking him to join him a one of the turbolifts.

    'Huh, wonder what that is all about' he thought.

    He eventually had a quick wash, put on a fresh jumpsuit and boots and made his way to meet Dorja.

    ****

    Eddard sat in his armchair. Something didn’t feel right. His surroundings didn’t look like the brig of a warship. After all as a Jedi he was considered an enemy of the New Order. But what he and the shuttle crew got was an entire deck, the guest level by the looks of it, entirely for themselves. There were guards of course, but they were next to invisible. He couldn’t sense whether there was any other type of surveillance, not that he cared that much. Having spent so many years in the Union made him accustomed to keep his tongue, or use it to his advantage. For now he decided to wait and see what was really going on.

    Another reason for such a display of patience was the recent row of accidents and blunders made by him. Once a fairly respected diplomat, now nothing more than a troublemaker. His duty was to solve problems and conflicts - not to cause them. This realization shook him deeply. Something happened that day when he got into that coma-like state. Something that changed him. He couldn’t see the issues correctly, made gross miscalculations. Eddard was sure that Jori will most likely sacrifice him. She was the practical one in the family, also the cruelest of them as well. He was sure that she was doing the best for the Union, but her methods could be a bit more refined. Jori was like a field surgeon, having to operate quickly, cutting limbs directly where necessary, sometimes even cutting healthy bits as well.

    Eddard sighed. He had compromised himself in front of her. Even if she brings him back to the Union, which he doubted, he will be a Lord Advisor in name only. He wouldn’t be surprised if she took a more direct approach and eliminate him. Using his death as an excuse to punish someone or push an agenda. Always the practical one… Deep down he knew all these things about the then Princess but refused to believe it. After all she was an Atreides and the Atreides have never been such people. Even sometimes he wondered how they survived in this madhouse they call a Union of the Great Houses. As much as he loved the place Eddard could see what the rulers were - sycophants, hypocrites, egotists, megalomaniac, brutal and even plain evil. Combined with the fact that they were locked in a permanent struggle who to control the grain of sands they called the Union. Most of them were so narrow-minded that they refused to see what true potential they had. Somehow they managed to work with some of the “outsider” systems, but as foolish as they are - they viewed their partners as inferiors to be exploited. There were exceptions of course - like his old friend Leto and maybe even Jori - but her motives and goals were somewhat murky at best.

    The door to his cabin opened with a sigh. Eddard knew that it was one of the maids as she approached the room. The girl was carrying a tray with food on it. He almost chuckled as he remembered the face of the Imperial officer that was appointed to them, who was supposed to look after their needs, when he asked whether the maids could bring the food and drinks as they felt calmer by doing something familiar. Eddard understood them, something more, he felt their dread from the fact that they were taken out of their usual surroundings. They were prisoners to the “outsiders”. They didn’t know how to act in front of them, and only one had seen an “outsider” in real life before. Not that there were no outsiders in the Union. For all of their isolationism they were visited very commonly. There were merchants, business people, diplomats, tourists, students from the “client planets”. Though they were advised where to go as to minimize interaction with the locals.

    The girl was pale, light blond (almost white) hair, blue eyes, all of the characteristics of a person from the Northern (the colder) part of Kaladan. He knew of the duchess’ penchant to surround herself with beautiful and exotic people.

    “Thank you, Ingrid.” he said as the maid put the tray in front of him.

    The old Jedi could feel the wave of satisfaction emanating from the girl. After all he knew her name.

    “Don’t worry, child. Her Ultimacy will help us, besides they have been treating us extraordinarily well.” he gave a reassuring smile.

    Ingrid blushed and looked down.

    “Yes, milord. Thank you milord.” she replied quickly as she moved out of the cabin.

    Eddard chuckled and looked at the plate. The food looked familiar - a very popular dish from Coruscant. His hosts had a sense of humor, knowing that he was a Jedi and as such he must have spent some time at the capitol. Though he couldn’t quite put a name to the food. Besides, he didn’t care much for such triviality. That girl reminded him of Dennii somehow...

    He winced when in his inner eye the face of his last Padawan appeared. He had failed her and jeopardized her future. Eddard wanted to make her his replacement as a Jedi overseer of the Union, to nudge them towards the light path, to make sure they won’t get any crazy ideas. That was why he, with the agreement of the Jedi Council, had to strip her from the regular training in the Temple, thus holding her back. She was supposed to learn about the Union, she had to understand it. Years had passed, his happiness that the plan seemingly worked had blinded him to the truth that Dennii had been corrupted. This was Jori’s work, he was sure of it, the idea was that Dennii as the Princess’ best friend was to become her advisor and her guide. His Padawan was too weak, though it was not her fault, he didn’t want to believe that an Atreides child could be so manipulative, that could hold so much darkness in her heart. She made Dennii her slave, though for sure there was some affection and maybe she cared for her in some twisted way.

    Eddard sighed and decided to concentrate on the food in front of him for now. He had to concentrate on the present as Master Yoda had instructed him.


    ****

    ‘It is that cuff again,’ Captain Dorja complained to himself as he fidgeted with the cuff while he waited at the end of the main corridor from the bridge for the turbolift to arrive. ‘I swear that one sleeve is shorter than the other.’

    The turbolift finally chimed and the doors opened for him to enter.

    “Ah, Commander.” Dorja greeted Gerard. “I apologise for pulling you away from your duties.”

    It was not that long ago that Gerard was in his office for a private debriefing on the Ragnarök mission and Dorja knew that Gerard would had been settling down for deserved downtime though he did not voice that out loud in front of the crew.

    “I appreciate you coming, I wanted you to accompany me while I go down and inform our guests from the Union that we are en route to Naboo.”

    Gerard gave Dorja a respectful nod and comment of “Captain” before walking out of the turbolift to join him, his hands clasped behind his back.

    “No apologies necessary Captain, are we expecting any trouble from our guests?”

    Dorja shook his head as he keyed in the level where their guests are situated. “No, hopefully none of that.” He folded his arms behind his back as he felt the shift in gravity as the lift took them down. “This is just formalities, though one can never be too careful.”

    The turbolift doors parted and they both stepped off and into the corridor. The two Stormtrooper sentries stood to attention before them and saluted smartly. Their polished armour glinted under the harsh interior lighting.

    “Has there been any complications with our guests settling in, officer?” Dorja asked.

    “None so far, Captain.” One of them answered.

    “Very good.” Dorja nodded. “I am here to speak with the Ambassador.”

    “He has situated himself in Cabin 21B. Do you require an escort?”

    Dorja pondered the suggestion and then shook his head. It would be fine with just the two of them going. Anymore might be interpreted the wrong way. “That should not be necessary, thank you.”

    ****

    Ingrid exited the cabin where the his lordship was going to eat his meal, or at least what the outsiders called food. She tried to concentrate on her tasks as it kept the terror of the situation they were at bay. ‘From the lightning and the tempest Greater Good deliver us... ’ she tried to repeat to herself as a mantra. It was part of the litany against fear.

    Their “hosts” to her surprise were lenient. Maybe not all “outsiders” were that bad. Two of the Death Guards decided to stay and guard the door to the Lord Advisor’s cabin. The rest were spread around in the other rooms. Thaddeus was somewhere as well, but Ingrid hadn’t seem him as the Royal Guard was terrifying. It was as if you were staring at your own death.

    She was about to go and fetch some food for the pilots. She enjoyed working with them as they were her age and also were a potentially good match for marriage. Being the personal pilot to Her Ultimacy had some perks - good salary, prestige and besides they were quite handsome. When they were in the Castle Kaladan, there was not that much time for such things and there was even less free time outside of work to go and find someone. They had to find a life partner at work which was a hard thing to do. There was the competition as well coming from the other maids who were on the shuttle had their eyes on the same men. Not that they had much choice, given that the other crew members were several Death Guards who were above such materialistic desires, the butler Jarvis (who tried to prevent any contact with the aviators) and Thaddeus, who was no longer a human being and more of a walking tank. Ingrid was sure that the boys rather enjoyed being under the limelight.

    She couldn’t wait for the evening as the pilots were going to teach her and the other maids how to play cards. They didn’t seem to care that they were held prisoner. One of them said that he had been a POW (whatever that means) during one of the recent minor clashes between the houses. Ingrid saw one of the other maids, Rosa, carrying the tray to the pilot’s cabin. She saw the triumphant look on her face. Ingrid grunted, she was beaten this time, maybe during the game of cards she will do better. She was about to turn towards the maids’ cabin when she saw two “outsider” officers were walking down the corridor. Ingrid gasped and blushed. Then decided to quicken her pace towards the cabin and hide…

    ****

    A soft sound and movement ahead caught Dorja’s attention as he and Gerard neared Dondarion’s cabin. It was a young lady, Dorja recognised her as one of the maidens whom accompanied the Union ambassador. Curious, he noted how her demeanour seemed somewhat bashful and was quick to move out of their presence. He wondered what that was all about, was she scared or felt caught? He pushed the thoughts from his head as he surmised that it would be in his best interest to pretend none of it had happened.

    They continued on until they came to the cabin where the Ambassador had based himself and knocked on the door.

    TAG: Commander Gerard, Ambassador Eddard Dondarion + Staff
  13. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~IC~Kaylee and Rowan Halcyon, Ariek and Kal
    Location: ancient warship, Icarus - fifth planet of ???? System
    1 cycle before the incident at Coruscant

    As soon as the ancient warship had settled down on the soft patch, amongst the overgrown tangled mass of vegetation that made up the jungle, the crew set to work to secure and conceal the vessel. Several sheets of cameo netting were pulled out and draped over the hull to veil the Icarus from aerial observation while branches from the nearby trees were roped closer to the ship to make the disguise more effective.

    The activity inside the ship was coordinated chaos to the casual observer as the ‘grease monkeys’ prepared themselves for the hard work ahead of them to service external and internal damaged systems they can with the parts available to them.

    While that went on, Kaylee and Rowan left the infirmary and made their way to the assembly area, located at the base of the ship, just before the boarding ramp.

    “What type of supplies do we need?” Rowan asked.

    “We are fine for our medical supplies, touch wood.” Kaylee answered. “Just consumables mainly and not too sure about spare parts though. I am sure they will have that worked out once they have finished inspecting the exterior damage.”

    “Given our location, the jungle is a great source of renewable fresh food and water.” Rowan spoke from experience. “Spare parts and processed materials on the other hand will have to be acquired from more advanced settled areas.”

    “Good point,” Kaylee slowed her pace and pulled out her com. “I better page Dr Huzan to gear up for the field. Be good to have a botanist to accompany Kal’s team and find what is edible if our mission to locate a settlement is all in vain.”

    After she placed the call to Dr Holtzen, Kaylee placed her comm. back into her pouch. They continued together through the ship, gathering quick updates and well wishes from the crew as the passed. There were some uncertainty relating to their current predicament of being stranded and the continuous threat of the Cha’ala was present on their minds. There was still some hope and optimism amongst the crew, they took it as an encouraging sign that they had both the ‘Hero of Corellia’ and Kal, who was a former Coruscanti Jedi Council Member, among them.

    “There you are!” Ariek’s voice called out to them as they entered the assembly area. Athletic build, there was a spring in her step as she strode over to greet them and asked Kaylee. “Are you sure you are up for this?”

    “Of course I am.” Kaylee smiled. Ariek was like an older sister to her. “This is something I need to see through to the end for myself. Will you be fine with the ship?”

    “Don’t worry about me, I’ll have these slackers whip the ship back into shape.”

    Kaylee narrowed her eyes. “Do not be too hard on them.”

    “Why? It is more fun watching them squirm.”

    Kaylee gave the other woman a stern look. An older sister alright. An older sister that is mischievous and unscrupulous, at times, who always had some hidden agenda going on whether for her amusement or personal gain. “Ariek!”

    “Fiiiine.” Ariek dragged out her response as she rolled her eyes and sighed. “I’ll try but no promises.”

    Ariek threw a wink to Rowan as she gave Kaylee a parting hug. “You two have fun and be sure to let us know before you get up to any mischief.”

    “No promises but we’ll try.” Rowan smirked. “Only if you promised to do the same.”

    That evoked a toothy grin back from Ariek. She turned and looked over to where Kal’s team were double-checking their kits and milling about. “Probably another by the book routine for them, how drool.” Ariek returned her focus back to Kaylee and Rowan. “I best go give Kal my farewell and then head back to the bridge.” She gave a genuine smile. “Good luck and may the Force be with you both.”


    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The humidity hit them as soon as they stepped off the ramp and out under the sunlight, it smothered them like a thick soup. The air felt tropical and the heat was extraordinary. At the foot of the Icarus, the two expedition teams said their farewells. Kal and his group of six were tasked to locate an old CorDef safe house while Kaylee and Rowan’s objective lied to the north to find a settlement of some sorts. About them, repairs were underway on the Icarus. Low vocalisations carried in the hot air as the technicians sang a shanty to maintain the rhythm and momentum of their work.

    “Keep safe.” Kaylee gave Kal a small kiss on the cheek.

    “Aww. I have to otherwise Ariek will never forgive me.” Kal chuckled and then turned to Rowan. “Good luck.”

    Rowan smiled and gripped Kal’s forearm. “Just like old times.”

    “Like old times,” Kal returned the grip and shook, “little brother.”

    “If you need help-” Rowan started.

    “Yeah yeah, I know, I know.” Kal waved him off. “Will you two get going? Some of us have actual work to do.”

    Kaylee chuckled and light-heartedly outstretched her arm for Rowan to take, which implied that they should depart. Rowan smiled and took her arm with his and threw a mock salute to Kal before the couple entered the jungle together.

    Kal just shook his head at the sight, amused, then turned to the rest of his team. “Alright, let’s get this thing over with. The sooner we are there, the sooner we are back!”


    TAG: Open and to be continued
    Last edited by Corellian_Outrider, Nov 18, 2014
  14. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    OOC: This is a joint post that me and @Corellian_Outrider had been working on for some time.


    IC: Lord Commander Basil Xavier, Rowan Halcyon, Maya Fyodorovna, duke Darius Atreides, duchess Maryon Vernius-Atreides

    Location: Castle Kaladan; Kala City; Kaladan
    Year: 1113 ATC - (2519 BBY)


    The sense of trepidation that I had felt earlier seemed to have washed away somewhat. Was it a matter of nerves? Possibly, however there seems to still be a faint trace of it still lingering. Then it could possible be the agenda behind this summoning. I surmised as I followed Basil over to where we were instructed to sit by the Duke.

    Tea was already prepared for us and I smiled as the Duke brought out a special decorative box to the table and offered the sweet contents to us.

    Darius put the box on the glass table and sat opposite to Rowan and tapped the leather armrests gently. Then he leaned to take a chocolate cube from the box and moved it to the small ornate dish that was under the cup.

    “I am sorry that I brought you here in this manner. Also I am sorry that you had to endure my butler.” he smiled “But first, I want to congratulate you Basil for your engagement. I am sorry that I was not able to attend to the formal ceremony give my best to Maya.”

    Basil sat there stiffly but managed to form a smile.

    “Thank you sir, no needs for apologies...”

    Darius nodded and turned towards Rowan.

    “I hope you enjoyed your rather short stay thus far?”

    I held the saucer with care to keep the tea cup balanced. “I have, thank you,” I inclined my head and glanced to Basil. “Present company made sure of that.”

    Basil gave a tight smile, trying to be modest.

    “I hear that the restaurant you went is excellent...” he looked at Basil who had stiffened a bit “Don’t stare at me like that, it is not as if you are hard to find.” then turned to Rowan “The owner had invited me to its opening but I don’t like such PR stunts. Though my wife is a frequent guest there.”

    Basil cleared his throat.

    “Speaking of Lady Maryon, we met her, along with one of the Dondarions.”

    Darius nodded.

    “Yes, I know, I sent her there with them...”

    Basil frowned at the remark.

    “I will get back to this, but she was supposed to be there and meet those people. After all she was being watched.” Darius paused “Your presence there was noted as well, along with your visit. I am sure they are coming up with different scenarios as to why you are here.” then he looked at Rowan “The main question will be, why a person, related to the Corellian court is fetched, along with one of my trusted advisors on the military matters, in the middle of the night and brought to Castle Kaladan?”

    Darius leaned forward and smiled reassuringly.

    “Don’t worry Rowan, you are not in danger...” he waved his hand “Things haven’t turned violent here...” he paused “... yet. We have a lot to discuss, and as I said I will come back to this issue later. First I want to ask you, how is your relations with your Corellian side of the family? I heard there is some tension, don’t ask me from where I know this.”

    “Okay…” I said slowly. There was a bit to gather my thoughts. “Either your sources are very good...” I arched my brow as gave a somewhat quizzical look. Not much of what the Duke had said made much sense yet there was some truth to it. As though the information was missing and he had filled in the blanks with what he or someone else assume it to be. “...or I had not done a thorough job of keeping a low profile.” I then add, “not that they are entirely accurate.”
    I placed the tea down on the table, then leaned back and folded my arms across my chest. “Tension would not exactly be the word I would describe my current relationship with my mother considering it has been about twenty...twenty-two years since the accident.” There was no need to mention my foster family, the family that was close to my father. They belonged to a world far away from galactic interests.
    “Unless you had implied the Corellian Order and then….” I raised my hand and cupped my chin to shroud the frown I pulled. The bristles of my stubble scratched my skin as I rubbed. “I guess we had not communicated properly since Ruusan. I keep my ear out and I know they used to keep a distant eye on me. I get the impression that there is some resentment or disappointment that I did not return to them.”
    Darius covered his confusion. Were his sources wrong about the man? Nevertheless he can still be useful.

    “I see...” he tapped his lips with his index finger “But you have access to the Royal family or to a person who can bring you before them?”

    My eyes narrowed for a fraction of a second as my gaze flicker to Basil and back to Darius again. What was the Duke’s agenda with my homeworld? “I am here, aren’t I?” I shrugged not wanting to commit to something I do not know much about. “I am sure that counts for something and I am sure your sources had already figured that out. However, may I enquiry as to the nature of such request?”

    Darius nodded, inside he flinched a bit as he didn’t want to antagonize the young man.

    “I am sorry if I am prying too much. I have to be sure, sources are just that… sources. I wanted to hear that from you.” he paused “You see, the Union is in a difficult position right now. Both sides of the conflict are pulling us towards them. I and some of my allies are on the Republic’s side or at least keep our neutrality, but voices are rising that we have to side with the Sith and they are getting more vocal.”

    Darius leaned back.

    “My sources indicate that the premature rumors that we are going to turn against the Republic had reached Coruscant and they are preparing for this.” he smiled “That is why I need you, I know that Corellia has its own issues with the Republic but still they are still heard in the Senate. Extremists on both sides make things harder.”

    Cupping my chin, I gazed back at Darius and took in his expression. So this is a plea for help but not quite the type of I have grown accustomed to being asked. “So you wish to avert a possible crisis in which the Republic mistakes your nation’s intentions due to a select few and end up with the Republic sending a strike force to pacify the situation and ruining all chances of the population in favour of joining said government?” I momentarily arched by brow at him and continued. “Can’t say that I blame you, especially how heavy handed they can be. I wouldn’t trust the other side as far as I can throw ‘em so you are picking the lesser of two evils.”


    I had not given my answer to the request. I had not been home since being sent on that ill fated campaign for the Republic. The Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire are almost as bad as each other. Looking to expand their borders and filling their coffers while claiming to be fighting for peace or power. It is the people that suffer and what happens to them becomes another statistic to the capital where the politicians would not even think twice upon reading-

    I stopped that line of thought. It was not constructive and derailing from the core of the matter: Asking my monarch to speak on the Union’s behalf to add them as a member of the Republic. Although, the crew at Kaladan port at did restock and refuel my ship without demand of payment. After a sigh, I clasped my hands together. “Alright, I’ll see what I can do after this upcoming run.. I still have some influence and connections.”

    “In a sense yes, though I doubt the Republic will bring in forces since they will be stretching other fronts. I guess they will leave us to kill each other… Also there is some resentment towards the “outsiders” as some people started to call the citizens from the other worlds.”

    Basil nodded “We’ve noticed...”

    Darius understood the hint “I am sorry for my butler’s behaviour. It was a surprise to me as well. My wife...”

    He was cut mid-sentence as the door opened “Your wife what, my dear?” there she was, Maryon Vernius Atreides standing at the entrance to the room, smiling even though her cold grey eyes remained emotionless. Darius and Basil jumped on their feet to greet her.

    “Good evening, gentlemen. I am sorry that I was not able to greet you back in the restaurant, but I couldn’t leave the table, I hope you understand.”

    I rose in a timely manner to my feet as my gaze took in the exquisite creature that entered the office. I suppressed the subconscious urge to shiver as her presence felt like an icy chill had stolen the warmth from the room. Okay, that does seem a bit harsh though Basil was definitely right about the inhumane quality about her.

    “Good evening to you too, milady.” I broke the silence first. “And no. No need to apologise for that. You were preoccupied with important business and there was no need to break away from your engagement. I trust you had a splendid time?”

    “I did, thank you.” she was still smiling “You must be Rowan Seiriol-Nye, I am pleased to meet you.” she then turned towards Basil “Ah, Basil, good evening to you too. It was lovely to see you and your fiance at the restaurant.”

    Basil murmured something resembling an answer. The duchess’ expression didn’t change, she was aware of the man’s negative attitude towards her. The side door of the cabinet opened as a maid wanted to check whether Maryon needed something. She ordered tea as well.

    “Sit down gentlemen, I kept you on your feet too long for comfort.” she glided to the empty seat and sat.

    Darius leaned to take her hand into his and kissed it.

    “I was telling them about the emergence of this new worldview, the isolationism and so on.”

    Maryon sighed.

    “To tell the truth, me and my family, are in part at fault regarding this new ideology.”

    Basil stifled a snort of derision but on the outside he remained impassive.

    I glanced away to Basil and discretely arched my brow to him and returned my focus back to the Duke and Duchess. I was not sure if Basil was going to speak out or not as I knew of mixed messages and heated emotions, especially of Basil’s personal feeling regarding the subject matter. However, there are two sides to a coin and I found myself keen to hear them out about the motives and to show things from their perspective. It is not everyday I actually hear faction affecting news directly from the source and personalised too.

    “Please forgive me if I am blunt and rude, but I don’t need to explain our reasoning, but nevertheless I will. This will be done for the sake of Basil...” she turned towards him “...I know how much you dislike me, to put it meekly.” Maryon then raised her hand to stop Basil from saying something as he had begun to open his mouth “Don’t try, I know how much you hate hypocrisy and I respect that.” she paused “As my husband might have told you, our predicament is dire.”

    Darius tried to interrupt her, there was no need for that. Maryon ignored him and continued.

    “What I am about to tell you should reach our Corellian Allies. They should be aware of what is going on. Even if they share it with the Republic there is nothing that could be done. I am not like the villains from those cheap holodramas that reveal all their plans and then see them crumble. My House, House Vernius is a direct one so I will be blunt. Our Corellian friends shouldn’t be worried of what is going on here. It is a safety precaution as the Republic cannot forgive us that we bought our independence and wants to assimilate us back into the fold. This is a safety measure, which will not change our ‘disposition’ towards our friends.”

    Maryon stopped and looked at her husband. Darius took this as a cue that it is his turn to talk again.

    “The reason we are telling you all this is that you will be approached by an agent on the next planet you are visiting. If the flight plan that you had deposited is correct, if not could you provide us with the destination. You will have to retell all this to him or her. You will be rewarded for this.” Darius smiled nervously “I am sorry for being so direct, but we understand the risks involved so you will be handsomely compensated.”

    Maryon decided that there was something that needed to be added.

    “You see, your presence here is being monitored. The forces behind this are only observing at the outside and are quite interested in what we are talking about, but don’t worry they won’t do you any harm. After all we are all politicians and we are quite afraid of scandal.” she gave a reassuring smile.

    “Please tell us a signal that you wish to be given when you are approached at your next destination.” this came from Darius’ side.

    I composed my thoughts carefully as I placed the empty tea cup and saucer down on the table as I looked to each and everyone one of them. “First… believe me when I say that I do not blame you for needing your independence given that the standards of the Republic has fallen a few notches in recent years under the current leadership.” I shrugged. “Having said that, I still prefer them over those ‘other guys’.”

    I leaned forward and gave a small smile to Maryon. “I also appreciate the lengths to get me here too, given my status as an “outsider” and the possibility that my presence here might be mistaken and taken out of context. Now all this is to quash rumours about hostile actions against the Republic and for a trusted source inside to voucher for you, correct?”

    Maryon nodded and smiled sadly “You understand our predicament. There has to be at least a neutrality, even a cold one. The Republic cannot sustain a second front at this point.”

    Basil cleared his throat. “I… I am sorry milady for thinking of you in such a way...”

    Maryon turned towards him “No apologies needed Basil, in fact I needed you to hate me.” She then grinned “In fact I need you to keep doing that, at least in public.”

    He got confused by this and nodded tentatively, not sure he understood her reasoning. To solidify these newly established good relations he decided to participate in this conversation with his friend.

    “So, Rowan, will you help us?” asked Basil.

    “Aye, have you ever known me to turn down someone in need?” I gave Basil a faint smirk. “You probably saw from the flight plan that my new shipment be heading to the Dalonbian Sector after this, over at the Tingel Arm. Some disreputable independent parties had taken advantage of the Republic-Empire conflict and been choking off much needed food and medical supplies for the populous. Takes a ship like mine to run through the blockade at the Julevian system since ‘The Powers That Be’ are occupied or do not have the resources to spare elsewhere to do anything about it.”


    I leaned back, eyes glanced to the table and the box of chocolates for a moment and stroked my chin as I arranged my thoughts for what to say next. “Now, there is a Mid-Rim world along the way I was considering as using as a fueling stop, Rathalay, over at the Taldot Sector…” I looked back up to Darius. “The climate there is stable enough to not garner any significant attention from those warring factions… for the moment…. so it won’t be too hard to blend in meet your contact there. However, I can only remain at that world for eighteen standard hours at the most before I need to move on.”

    “As for a signal…” I pursed my lips, I wanted to keep my friend in the loop as much as possible to minimise the chances of being stood up or manipulated. My eyes flicked to Basil, before focusing on Maryon. “Basil knows me well enough to come up with the appropriate one to contact me, so I hope that whoever is sent, they are suitable and trustworthy for the task.”


    Maryon nodded, she understood his reasoning. This was something to be expected and they could work with that.

    “Of course, I am sure you will be able to discuss this before you depart.” she smiled “I caught your glimpse at the chocolates. You should take one, they are the best in the Union.”

    Not to make things awkward Darius stepped in.

    “Rowan, from what I heard from your friend Basil here, you are doing a good job. There are far too many people fighting and far too few helping the civilians. If any of the planets you are going need something that is hard to find please inform us. We would like to help with whatever we can.”

    I smiled at both of them. It was refreshing to hear the of assistance and also unexpected. It has been a while since I’ve heard people of privilege or status offer their assistance… Although, I might add that it was rare for such people to know of who I am beyond just the alias I use. “Thank you, both of you. For now, everything is under control and nothing I cannot handle at the moment. However, I shall keep the offer in mind if something does come up. Also, if you need to contact me in future… well,” I shrugged, “you probably already know who to go to for that.”

    Maryon decided to add something as the conversation was almost at the end.


    “I would like to ask you for a personal favor. I am sure that in your travels you meet a lot of people. If you happen to meet any collectors of antique artifacts, could you please ask them about the Loraine Manuscript? It is the incomplete works of the Jedi Watchman of the Union. It got lost a century ago. It contains a detailed genealogy of each house in the Union and how we are related to different royal houses throughout the Galaxy. You should do this only if you meet someone who might be collecting these things, we don’t want the news to travel around the Galaxy if you undertake more active steps. Just discreet inquiries.”

    “Jedi Watchman Loraine… genealogy manuscript... Got it.” I repeated and gave a reassuring nod to Maryon to indicate that I understood the request. Kinda unusual request, I pondered as I searched my memory for where I could start to find this artefact.

    Since it originated from a Jedi, might also be worth checking out one of the Jedi Conclaves and search their archives… not that I particularly want to go near any of them. Could always go in and out before they knew what happened. Though, out of my usual clients, there is probably one or two that dabble in rare collectibles. They might have some insight into this… probably Brentalla as I still need to visit him with the item he requested.

    “Not to worry, I will use discretion in my search.”

    * * * *

    Their guests had gone, so it was a good time for Darius and Maryon to have a little talk. The duchess was by the window, watching the speeder leaving the park and becoming just another light in the darkness. The duke was sitting in the chair, rubbing his temple. It had been a long day for both of them.


    “Do you think he will complete the task?” Maryon asked and turned her head slightly so that she could glance at her husband.

    Darius took a sip from the cool tea and frowned, he had missed the perfect moment to drink it.

    “I don’t know, I hope so. If he does not, the situation will surely deteriorate.”

    Maryon then glided towards him smiling sadly. She stopped right behind him and leaned to kiss his forehead.

    “It will not my love. There are always other options.” then a tender kiss followed. While leaning she grabbed a napkin to rub off the lipstick mark. She didn’t want to embarrass her husband in front of the servants. “”Good night my dear, don't stay late.”

    Darius nodded and mouthed a silent goodnight to his wife. The situation must be very desperate since Maryon was so gentle with him. This soured his mood further. At least the chocolate candies helped to ease the pain a bit…
    TAG: To be continued
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  15. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    IC: Dennii/Drakoniss Sunwalker

    on-board Galactica-class Carrier “Hyperion”, Derra system

    The dinner was uneventful. Most of the command staff were present, those who were not on duty as the new shift had stepped in. They were polite with her, some were even genuinely interested in what she was saying. The food was good, maybe not the quality that was being served in Castle Kaladan, but still. The officers in the Union were not allowed to abuse their powers even if they were nobility. In a sense the Union was built on contradictions like this. Outside the military service they could act horrendously but once they get back they had to behave. There were no privileges (aside of the ones given by the rank). In the military you could see princes (even some princesses) toiling with the rest. You can’t buy them, you can’t play favorites even if your parent is the Commander in Chief. People were punished, in some cases executed, for trying such stunts. Respect and rank are earned through skill and knowledge. If some day they were to rule or command they had to understand the lower levels. That is why you could see a person who in the civil world would have been from a lower class command the son or the daughter of the head of a House. Lawson, Jori’s cousin, had to serve several years until he was given the command of a squadron.

    Admiral Fandorin coughed and gently knocked on his glass with the knife to get their attention. Dennii tensed a bit, he was to make a speech which will surely bring more attention towards her which always made her nervous.

    “I know you are expecting a toast, but I have to disappoint you.” he paused for a dramatic effect “I was given a recorded message by Her Ultimacy before she left that were to be played in front of witnesses.”

    The people at the table seemed confused. It was unexpected. Some were worried that Her Ultimacy could have recorded something bad for them. The Admiral moved towards the holoprojector that a soldier had brought in just a few moments ago. Dennii could sense smugness in him. He inserted the data card and the projector flickered to life. A lifesize image of Jori appeared in front of them. It was funny how some of the officers stiffened, as if she was there with them. The recording started talking:

    “Thank you Erast. I hope there are enough witnesses to what I am about to say. I need the news to be spread around so that it could reach more.” then the recording paused for a second “Good.” It was eerie to watch the bluish image of her best friend talking to herself in a sense. “Now, Dennii,” this caught her attention “I am sorry that I am not here to tell you this myself, but the situation dictates to use this impersonal methods. I wanted to tell you this at a better moment, but your wellbeing depends on this.” another pause, Dennii caught the joke. When they were teenagers they were forced to sit through an official dinner and one of the guests - an obese elderly gentleman spoke in a monotone with some rather annoying pauses for a dramatic effect. She was sure that she saw a glint of humor in the recording’s eyes “When you left after the Separatist incursion and taking into consideration what happened to your Ma… teacher...” in the Union Master had a different connotation “...My father and I decided to adopt you into the Atreides family. My Corrino part of the family disagreed so you will be only an Atreides. If you agree of course. All the necessary documents had been prepared, signed by my father. Technically you will be my sister, with all the privileges that this brings. He even agreed that you could be a candidate to the throne if something happens to me.” the recording grinned “Knowing that you are pregnant, you must be wondering what about your child or children? They will have the same rights as if they were my own. Of course if I have progeny they will have seniority, but your children will be of a higher standing than for example Lawson’s potential offsprings.” Stunned silence hung in the room. Dennii’s knees buckled so she had to support herself on the table. She didn’t remember standing up, but that was unimportant at the moment. One of the officers jumped to help her sit back in her chair. “Now, the witnesses, I need you to record and later testify about her decision.”

    Everyone turned their heads towards Dennii. She could sense the nervousness and the expectation. Confessor Malenkov radiated happiness, as if this had been his idea all along. Fandorin’s smugness disappeared, as if he was expecting Jori to announce that she was going to marry him.

    “I...” she croaked, her voice failing her “I accept...” this was the most she could say. Tears of joy and relief were forming in her eyes. Inside of her Drakoniss observed with interest what was transpiring. In a way he didn’t bought Jori’s sudden kindness, there had to be something. He was sure that in her dark heart the duchess might harbor some feelings towards Dennii, but he knew her type - cold and calculating. She is going to exploit her in some way and Dennii will be happy for it.

    Some of the others stood up and bowed to her. After all she just became a member of the Ruling House.

    “I...” she swallowed “...I need some rest. If you excuse me gentlemen.”

    There was confusion and genuine worry on some the faces.

    “It is alright, I am just overwhelmed. Besides, I am a pregnant woman, you will have to excuse me.” she managed to make a weary smile. Fandorin offered to help her get back to her cabin but she declined.

    *************************
    Dennii managed to stagger back to her room. Her knees were shaky and she felt queasy. She was too preoccupied with what had happened that she didn’t notice another Force presence on board. This didn’t go unnoticed by Drakoniss though. It worried him since the beginning of the journey. At first the presence seemed to be coming from an untrained person, but now he revised his observation. The person was trained for sure.

    Dennii was too distracted from her ordeal to notice that Drakoniss was focusing on something or on someone. Nor she sensed the trained presence on-board. She didn’t care, or at least this is what Drakoniss saw in her. This is something that he had to teach her, to be careful if she were to be the duchess’ adopted sister. From what he saw from these people one should expect a backstab at every moment. Her supposed friend, Jori, just made Dennii a target. There were a lot of things to teach her and there was that gnawing feeling that his time was running out pretty fast.

    For now he decided not to pursue any action towards the Force user. Besides if they played their hand too early, they might not learn the endgame. After all if there were any real danger, they won’t be so visible. Though, of course there was a chance that this might be a diversion, but there was nothing to be done about that as well. The only thing that remained was to be patient and to be on a constant alert. First he had to learn everything he could about the Union as they were going in blind. Drakoniss had access to Dennii’s memories and knowledge on the matter, but hardly anything of importance. Also he wouldn’t be surprised if those psykers, as the locals called the Force users, were planted there by Jori herself. This was another argument for laying low and play along for the time being.

    Meanwhile as the Force ghost inside her was ruminating over the potential threats, Dennii’s attention was focused on the more mundane things, such as what was she supposed to wear while sleeping. When she left the Interdictor, she didn’t think about such issues like what to wear, nor did she bring any toiletries. A knock on the door followed.

    “Come in...” she replied absentmindedly, half-wondering who it might be.

    A pretty maid entered the cabin. She gave a quick curtsy, the news had spread fast.

    “Good evening milady.”

    Dennii nodded in reply and tried to make herself appear more commanding.

    “I require clothing and toiletries. I will provide you with a list of items that I require.”

    Drakoniss followed the exchange with interest, Dennii’s sudden change in behavior peaked his interest. There was hope for her after all. Maybe the years spent in Jori’s company were paying off finally. The maid blushed a bit.

    “Her Ultimacy had informed us of the circumstances of your arrival and her aide provided us with the necessary measures and your past preferences. Everything is prepared and folded in the drawers.”

    Dennii restrained herself from smiling. It was usual of them to have all sorts of information about her. She wondered why didn’t she check before, she had become careless. Though Jori had put her on a mag-roller coaster of events since she came back to the Union so these things seemed trivial right now.

    “I am to be your lady’s maid.”

    Dennii stifled a groan, this was getting more and more complicated. Though it was to be expected, even Jori, who hated being attended by someone else, had to accept this. It was scary how these people were willing to serve blindly.
    “What is your name?”

    The girl blushed.

    “I am sorry, milady. My name is Vanya Astahanova.”

    Dennii nodded, keeping an expressionless face.

    “Nice to meet you, Vanya. I hope, Her Ultimacy mentioned that I am pregnant?”

    “Yes, milady.”

    Dennii nodded again.

    “So, Vanya, I am feeling a bit unwell and I would like to go to bed.”

    The girl looked alarmed.

    “Do you need me to fetch the ship’s physician?”

    Dennii decided to break the ice and smiled kindly.

    “No, thank you, I am just tired, that is all.”

    She omitted the fact that she was a Healer, there was no need in divulging too much information about herself.

    “Oh, I see milady. I will show you all the clothes tomorrow then.”

    Vanya moved to one of the drawers. Dennii had forgotten to check them the first time more thoroughly. After all, the journey had been eventful thus far and there was no time to think everything over. Hopefully while Jori was away, she would be able to find some time and analyze, gather her thoughts and maybe formulate sort of a plan of what to do in the near future. Meanwhile her maid was opening and closing drawers, showing what kind of clothes Jori had procured for her. Vanya kept babbling and Dennii could feel a headache forming.

    “Vanya, please, you will show me everything in the morning.” she appreciated what the girl was doing. Besides, the girl must have been more nervous than she was.

    Vanya paled then her face became red from the embarrassment. “I am sorry milady, I am going to fetch you the sleeping gown.”

    Dennii nodded and smiled reassuringly. That’s a start.
    The maid opened one of the drawers and drew a pink silky sleeping gown. Dennii stifled a chuckle as this was one of Jori’s jokes. ‘Blondes should wear pink.’ her friend had said when they were impersonating airheaded teen girls, almost ten years ago. But that was not the time for such memories. Dennii took a mental note to order other types of clothing… and in other colors as well, when they got back to Kaladan. She didn’t trust her friend’s… her sister’s choices. Now, the bliss of a warm shower awaited her…

    “That would be all Vanya, I will dress myself tonight. Go get some sleep.” before the girl could form a protest “Please arrange the breakfast and some tea to be brought to my cabin in the morning.”

    The maid decided not to cross her nodded and decided to leave. Before she exited the room bidded lady Sunwalker, or was it now lady Atreides good night.

    “Finally...” muttered Dennii.
    To be continued
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  16. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~ Nice post, @TheAdmiral looking forward to more :) I hope everyone is well.

    ~IC~ Ariek Kaylee and Rowan Halcyon
    Location: Icarus - fifth planet of the Corellian System???
    1 cycle before the incident at Coruscant


    Ariek watched them go from the viewport, from her vantage point she could just make out their heads before they too vanished behind a collection of ferns. Left behind again…

    Her hand rested on the holster of her blaster and gave her reassurance. It was not like that she wanted to go, she thought the expedition was pointless but they all got something to do while she is left behind to guard the crew and ship. However, to justify being placed in charge, she told herself that the ship does present a larger target and who better to whip the crew into action than her if trouble does arrive?

    “Are you alright?” A voice behind her asked, interrupting her thoughts.

    She turned slightly and saw the helmsman.

    “Fine,” She resisted the urge to add sarcasm to the tone of her voice. “Just dandy.”

    Officer Marks fidgeted, it was clear he was uncomfortable in her presence. “Any instructions for the crew?”

    “Only to keep me appraised on the status of our repairs and keep an eye on our surroundings.” Ariek turned away from the viewport and walked over to the accessway. “If you need to contact me…” She slipped past and into the passageway. “...I’ll be in the map room.”

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    They had not been in it for a full minute to feel perspiration rolling out of their pores. It really felt like walking into a land that time forgot. Trackless jungle stretched out before and took only a moment for it to envelope them whole.

    Kaylee and Rowan walked in silence for the first ten minutes, acclimatising to the strange sounds of the alien wilderness. Insects droned loudly and the song of birds. The occasional warbling cry of a large creature stalking off in the distance. Apart from that, it all gave them the sense of isolation from civilisation.

    It is almost peaceful. Kaylee thought to herself as she brushed large fronds of ferns away. To be alone for once in a while. Could almost be a vacation except for the fact that it cannot be a vacation if you never really know when or if you will ever be returning home.

    “This is nice…” She voiced the sentiment to Rowan. “To finally step foot again outside. Nice change of scenery.”

    She watched a smile play out on Rowan’s lips. “Suppose it can get stuffy when we spent too long onboard the ship. The fresh air does lend to a more refreshing state of mind.” He agreed.

    “There is that and also how nice it is for us to finally be alone…” Kaylee adjusted the weight of her rucksack and smiled with affection to her husband beside her. “...together.”

    “We did share some time on the Icarus.”

    Kaylee gave a mock scowl. “Sharing a cabin together on a ship full of people does not count and you know it!” She nudged him with her elbow. “You know what I meant.”

    Rowan smiled and gave a nod. “I do.”

    “Also this gives us a chance to talk…” She noticed that some colour went to Rowan’s cheeks as though he was self conscious about something. “Or do I need to get you roaring drunk to loosen those lips of yours?”

    Rowan chuckled and gave her a curious look. “What makes you say that?”

    “Because I know you had been putting on a mask in front of the crew, to keep hope and morale going.” Her voice lowered. “I can also tell that something has you on edge and that has me worry about you.”

    “Again, that is very perceptive of you.” Rowan stopped and looked Kaylee in the eyes. She thought he was going to put on a display of bravery and outright deny it but his expression softened and he cupped her shoulder. “It is a number of connecting factors and I am not sure how to explain them. Ahh… You only caught the brief version when I got off that island. The Duchess that I told you about… she claimed to be an Atreides.. and among other things.”

    “Atreides, as in your friend Basil’s former leader?”

    “Yeah, I thought she could be one of those distant relatives, based off in some far off place.” Rowan frowned, his brow furrowed. “Hmmm… come to think of it, she kinda reminded me of Darius’ wife, Maryon, though her facial features are less angular and her presence was not so…. reptilian. Though there was something going on underneath that surface which I found troubling. Not too sure what though but got some mixed emotions.”

    “Mixed emotions?” Kaylee arched her brow with curiosity. “In what sense?”

    “Well, there was at the dinner…flashes of… not sure how to say and there was the music she played afterwards.”

    Kaylee noticed the muscles on Rowan’s face shift to a grimace as he said that.

    “Oh Rowan. I know you can be charming at times…” She pursed her lips and fought to conceal a laugh as she imagined Rowan’s awkwardness and confusion. “...but did you really had to make her smitten with you?”

    “Ah… Yeah.” His cheeks flushed red and he gave her serious look. “I was trying to gather information and to collect my effects.”

    “How hard were you trying?” She grinned. She could not resist the opening he left for her.

    “How far would you like to know?” He shook his head and sighed deeply. “Anyhow…”

    “Anyhow…” Kaylee repeated. “What was that ‘among other things’?”

    “I questioned her about common historical knowledge to gauge a calendar date. She had no recollection of current events that should be well known to most in the galaxy and responded back with a history that is unknown to me… something about a great war.”

    “That would be the Republic and Empire. Something must have happened while we were over helping settle that dispute between Valin’s people and-”

    “Yeah, that was what I thought too but she said the war with the Republic and a group called the Separatists… some sort of Confederation, something about clones against droids and that the Republic became an Empire.”

    “The Republic became an Empire..” She repeated Rowan’s words. “Ha, you do realise that would have tickled your fancy given how much you despise galactic organisations.”

    “I’ve been saying it for years but no one listens. Another thing Se and I have in common.” Rowan shook his head. “Anyhow... ”

    “Anyhow” Kaylee repeated again. “Sounds like it could be misinterpretation of facts. Yourself had lectured us during our undercover operation about the differences between truth and facts.”

    “I suppose so and we need to gather more facts before we can make sense of all this. Besides, it could be a one off and is possible that lass could be eccentric.”

    “There you go!” Kaylee clasped his arm reassuringly. “That makes more sense, doesn’t it?”

    “So, if we are on the right track, we be nearly home. Hot showers…”

    “Change of clothes…” Kaylee added. “Glad we talked? Opening up does you good” She leaned up and kissed him. “You always have my ear, anytime.”

    “You always have me too.”

    “I know,” She smiled and squeezed his hand. “That is one of many as to why I love you. Come now, let us get out of this jungle and back to civilisation”


    TAG: Open and to be continued
    TheAdmiral likes this.
  17. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~The dialogue in blue was taken from the new Emperor’s speech from a previous joint point between Pashatemur and myself.


    ~IC~ Senator Riyo Chuchi, the voice of the new Emperor
    Location: Senate Rotunda, Coruscant

    


The great Senate Rotunda was once the beating heart of the Republic. A place where progress was once decided upon and made regarding the future stability and improvements of the galaxy... however, during the decline years of the Republic, progress had halted as motives looked away from the advancement of their great civilisation and turned inward for more personal gains. The wheels of progress grinded to a halt as a cancerous corruption settled in, organisations and businesses gained a foothold and paid off representatives block each other at every bill to the point where it would take a long time for any decision to be made, even longer for movement to happen.

    ‘It was unfortunate that the bureaucrats had taken over.’ Chuchi reflected from her pod. ‘Where life no longer mattered nor did it factor into their motives when their mind set was profits above all else.’

    “Under the Republic, you bore your civic debt with little oversight, and the patronage and lobbying corps ran rough-shod over the public coffers and justice. Now, oversight has grown to such degrees that this government is a mass of knotted bureaucracies AND the only difference is, now, the queuing is more orderly!”

    The young Emperor’s voice echoed her thoughts as his continued his address to the Imperial Senate from the central podium. There was silence from the senatorial pods, in which Chuchi hoped there was also some internal reflection going on inside the minds of its occupants.

    “The Senate is the fulcrum of our Empire! This Senate already has the means to reach to every corner of this galaxy faster than any of our fleets! Yet, alone, the Senate cannot work effectively. It needs participation from the local systems level.

I don’t need to teach a lesson in basic organizational behavior or social anthropology! We all remember our history primers. First you need...”

    Keeping her ears on the Vader’s voice, the Pantoran senator glanced over to a nearby pod to regard the senator from Bothawui. She observed a nervous ripple bristled through Polo Se’lab’s tawny fur as the Bothan turned to his aide to whisper something. Not that Chuchi got along with the senator, she always saw him as a spineless nerf that followed the herd and never contributed anything constructive to discussions. Come to think of it, none of them could truly contribute to discussions of legislations, argue and counter argue points freely due to the oppressive state Palpatine had kept the Imperial Senate. Sure, the senators had their own groups of like-minded colleagues they surrounded themselves and debate and conspire privately, no one would dare voice their concerns openly for risk of being silenced forever. Chuchi grimaced, ’Se’lab was probably doing what he thought was right to keep his people and family safe while giving up his morales and abstaining his votes. With the death of Palpatine, would Se’lab and others like him develop some backbone and voice their opinions and participate?’ She wondered.
    


    ”...inform both the executive branch of this government and the people it serves. When a regional tax officer has a greater authority than this legislative body, it’s a clear indication that the Senate is neither serving the people, the executive, nor ultimately, itself.”

    ’That sounds about right.’ Chuchi kept the remark to herself. 'Whose fault was that? The last great movement the senators had was several years ago; the ‘Petition of 2000’. That was before Palpatine anointed himself as Emperor, it was drafted and presented to the Supreme Chancellor, asking him to give back the emergency powers and to revoke the reintroduction of ‘Moff’ to the hierarchy... a title and position that was abolished from the days of the Ruusan Reformation. That movement backfired and made themselves a target when Palpatine reorganised the government into a Galactic Empire and those names that were on the Petition-
    


    “There has been discussion of disbanding this Senate,”
    


    Those words cut through all train of thought. The reaction from those around her was deafening! Movement as senator’s rose to their feet… Chuchi held her breath as she felt Vader’s gaze upon her as he scanned the rotunda and for a brief moment it felt like his steel blue eyes were piercing into her very soul.

    “Not on my watch! I’ll say it again so we can be clear on this matter, NOT ON MY WATCH!”

    Silence. She didn’t know which was more deafening… this or the uproar just moments before. It was as though they were still processing what was being said. There was a clap the broke the silence, one or two individuals... then slowly more joined in, including herself. ’Yes, that does give that sense of security, however, how long will it last before opposing parties lobby to force their way?’ Subconsciously her gaze lifted to the Council of Moffs pods. The Moffs always seem to be a powerful force against the voice of the senate, more military oriented and quite often overruling the decisions of the people. ’But that was during war, they are at peace now… will that change now? Or have they gotten too comfortable with their perch?’



    She wondered how they were taking it... no doubt that Tarkin was at the forefront with that permanent scowl on his face. She had not, in person, have many encounters with the Moff and has seen how civilised and articulate he can be in public face but she has heard from secondary sources that there is a ruthless edge to the man that can cut through opposition with efficiency. ’Just the man Palpatine favoured, but what about Vader?’ Chuchi cupped her chin, her fingers curled against her violet lips as her golden eyes redirected back to the central podium. ’What type of person does he value more?’ 

The clapping died down and the young Emperor continued.
    


    “The Senate is critical to the kind of collaboration this galaxy will need and the Senate is the best means by which to communicate across it. I can speak with some authority on the matter as I’ve got a pretty good idea of just how vast the galaxy really is! 



    The Senate is the best means the central government has of reaching the people, and the best means by which the people can affect government.

    

In the weeks to come, there will be analyses made of the total cost of the war, detailing far more than you’d care for me to detail now, but I want to speak to some of the issues we will soon be addressing...”

    The speech continued about the status of the Empire. The infrastructure, employment, the economy and the debt that had steadily increased with the continuation of the war with the Separatists. The war exhaustion of resources climbed as an effect of the prolonged war and will take time before inflation drops and for incoming revenue and trade to stabilise.

    These were subjects one would not expect to hear coming from Palpatine’s Executor and articulated and conveyed in an intellectual manner. That was not to say she thought he was uneducated, far from it. She had seen first hand how he conducted himself before the rise of the Empire…. Just that he was a man of action and not really known to participate in a war of words in the senatorial arena. She had to smile to herself, it would have shocked a few loyalists out of their prejudice towards the man. Whether that was a good thing or not was hard to tell. It did make her sit up and take extra attention to his address.


    “There are multiple departments competing for authority and sapping the Imperial treasury while making necessary bureaucracy a nightmare to negotiate. The Senate, at my request will create a review committee to begin the process of streamlining our governmental agencies. Merging bureaus won’t necessarily mean lost jobs, nor will this happen overnight, but because there are so many systems requiring physical reformation as well as reformation of ecosystems, because we will require new energy management, those whose positions are being phased out will have opportunity to make lateral moves into new departments...”

    There had been many issues with the Empire that carried over from the last years of the Republic. Some of them dated back to the days when she was starting out as a young politician and was too naive and impressionable to have seen the signs of decay. More issues arose as rushed legislations were pushed through without proper oversight. What the young Emperor was addressing in his speech… with those concerns about the condition of the Empire openly voiced… it was something that has not been done in a very long time… This gave some credibility in her books as to how genuine he might be. That, and also he surprised her by the fact that it was not being sweep it under the rug and hidden from sight where it could fester and rot the foundations further. Whether he can carry out the necessary improvements, she didn’t know, though a part of herself was willing to wait and see before casting judgement.

    However, there was also a voice of caution in her mind… that this could be a front to lure them into a false sense of security… well, security for some but not for others. Unless she was mistaken, it was implied that there will be changes down the road that will affect everyone in this senate rotunda and she had her doubt that everyone present here will still be here in their positions by year’s end.


    ’Had Palpatine not done a similar thing? Catering to everyone’s need with a smile? Lent a friendly ear and offered sagely insight and before you knew it! You’ve signed away your basic rights without questioning it….’ Chuchi’s hands clenched and the corners of her lips drooped in reaction to that thought. ’No, they could not afford to go through that all over again… even he was stating so.’ She blinked back moisture that threatened to well up. Too much had been sacrificed for this young Empire. Too much...’ She took a deep breath and held it in before exhaling slowly, then returned her focus to the occupants of the podium.

    TAG: Open, and for those inclined.
    Last edited by Corellian_Outrider, Mar 18, 2015
    Sith-I-5 and TheAdmiral like this.
  18. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    IC: Helga Atreides
    Planet Tyran, near the city of Luxus

    Six months ago

    It was early in the morning, Helga went through her usual routine after breakfast, she was in the garden - a trait that most of the Atreideses shared. From what she heard her granddaughter, Jori, was a gardener herself as well. It is a pity that she was not allowed to see her, after she chose exile over an all out war in the Union. After all Helga had orchestrated the death of Helena Corrino-Atreides, Jori’s mother, and forced her son to go to war with the Ordonnen. All in the hopes that he will be able to squash their House’s arch-nemesis. But her son somehow found out about that and at the verge of victory, when he had crushed the Ordonnen’s resistance he decided to pursue a ceasefire followed by an uneasy peace. It was then when Leto offered her two choices - one a self-imposed exile covered as a sort of a retirement and a need to pursue other interests. The other option was the breach of the treaty with the Corrinos and the almost complete isolation of the Atreides.

    She of course chose the former, she did not wish to see the centuries of work that had been done to be destroyed due to some miscalculation on her part. Her son, Leto, decided to go his own way and started undoing her progress. Alas there was nothing Helga could do to stop it. From what she saw from her granddaughter’s initiatives there was still hope. It was a masterful stroke when she eliminated the Ordonnen. Unfortunately this victory came with a cost, her son’s life. Jori must have known the truth of what had happened in the past or the Corrinos influenced her as Helga was not allowed to attend the funeral.

    She did not harbor any hard feelings towards Jori for it. She understood the reasoning, though it will be good if she could allow her to visit Leto’s grave. Though she had to break the communication blockade that the CSS had erected around Helga. Since her self-imposed exile the State Security became a bigger part of her life. At times they were infuriating, but there were moments when they were very helpful. They created her a new identity, even secured her a real job - she was a professor at the local university. She taught political sciences to a myriad of young bright minds who wanted to shape the future of the Union. Being part of the faculty made the university a very popular institution. After all it does not happen everyday to have the former head of the House Supreme to be your teacher. Helga had put the CSS in a difficult situation trying to protect her, but they managed to do a great job thus far. Of course there were the occasional threats, stalkers and other loons but they disappeared rather quickly. At least the agents were not visible, or at least she got used to seeing them. Even her house staff were CSS trained. Helga was under a constant surveillance. She was sure that if Jori so wished it they were going to kill her in an instant.

    Sometimes she missed her late husband Eobard. Not that there were no visitors. Reporters, politicians even heads of some houses frequented her home asking about her opinion on what was going on. She tried to be as neutral as possible as to avoid attracting too much attention on her.

    Helga finished her morning routine and was ready to eat some breakfast. It was the end of the week and there were no classes today. Her cook usually prepared something special when she had free days. Today it was a selection of fruits, cheeses and jams along with some herbal tea. As she approached the set table Helga saw a leather bound book. She stared at it for a moment, it was an old one by the looks of it. But how old she could not say, maybe her late husband would have been able to date it, given his knack for such things.

    If it was on her table it must have been checked by the CSS, probably it was “planted”, as they said, it themselves. She was curious and she couldn’t deny it. At least she will have something to be entertained by today. Helga picked it up and an envelope fell from it. She reached and took it. It seems the person who sent it wanted to read the letter first, that is why she put it on the table.

    Her name was written on the envelope, typed more precisely. Someone didn’t want to be recognized or this letter to be traced to them. A letter opener was put on the table, someone really wanted her to read it. The blade cut through the envelope quite easily. As she took the sheet… sheets of paper inside, she noted that the paper was of high quality. Helga hoped that it was not soaked with poison. Though given that practically all members of the Great Houses were immune to most poisons you never know, people can get creative when they hate someone.

    Well, the CSS must have checked the letter and the book before delivering it. Or vetted as they liked to say in those cases. Unless they wanted to kill her? This was farfetched, since they could have done so a thousand times in the past and not come up with some convoluted plot out of a holomovie. She unfolded the papers that she took from the envelope. The text of the letter was typed, again there was no way to verify who the author was. She was going to check the book afterwards, even though she was very curious as for its contents, after all there was no title on the beautiful leather cover.

    Dear Grandmother,

    I am sorry that it took me this long to write you this letter. First, I want to assure you that my father never revealed the reason of your exile. It took me quite a while uncover the truth but in the end I found it out. Needless to say I found it hard to forgive you for what you did and I still have not, but at least now I understand your reasons. That is why this letter is not of reconciliation, I am not sure whether that will ever be possible. I would like to offer you a chance to achieve a partial rehabilitation. After you finish reading this letter and the book I have sent you (I will explain more about it further down in my message), you need to leave a note regarding your decision whether you wish to proceed or not. Do not worry, I will receive it.

    If you do agree to help me, I will provide you with further material accompanied with more letters containing description of events that lead that I think were important for the formation of my worldview. You can consider these letters confessions of some sort… My sincere hope is that you will choose to aid me in this historical for the Union moment. The first memory that I am going to share with you is a short one. After all, every story needs a beginning.

    This is one of the earliest memories that I have. I was four, almost five years old, when all of this began. It was late summer and I was outside in the Castle’s gardens, my father gave me permission to learn some gardening. I remember being very excited of this prospect as I was insistent in my desire to learn how to tend to the flowers that I loved. I guess this must have come from my mother’s side. I could not wait until I can plant my own flowers and even experimenting in creating new cultivars (a child’s imagination can go wild sometimes I guess).

    It was a perfect summer day, clear blue sky with no cloud in sight, it was warm with a bare hint of a breeze coming from the sea. The chief gardener was explaining some of the intricacies of planting flowers and how tending them with all your love and attention. It was fascinating, the man tried to explain all this in simple terms so that a child could understand them, but I remember the warm feeling of joy when I tried the process myself. Finally I could plant my own roses…

    But there was something… someone, to be more precise, who was watching me. At first I did not realize it, as I was so engrossed by what I was being taught, but then something nagged me. If you remember back then, the Bene Gesserit, along with the outsider Jedi considered me to be a Force sensitive to some degree. Not that I would have been able to do the tricks the outsider psykers did, it was more of a heightened sensitivity… nagging feelings and the like.

    That is how I knew that there was someone else nearby. For sure there were other workers and gardeners around as the garden is too big to be tended by a handful of people. But the feeling that I was being watched did not leave me. I tried to concentrate on what the head gardener was telling me but to no avail. The man was so engrossed in what he was explaining that he did not notice that I walked away. I felt the presence somewhere near the trees, as if someone was hiding. Even with my limited abilities I could sense the erratic nature of the emotions the person was emanating. It was a downpour of mixed feelings ranging from negative to positive in a quick succession. I remember being confused as I have sensed such a person was when I last met my aunt Julia, just after the Bene Gesserit had their hands on her.

    This piqued my interest as I wanted to see auntie Jul for some time as she was always very nice to me and brought me presents. Back then I could not comprehend why uncle Paulus locked her up away from the family. Back then I believed that she could be cured and that we will be able to play together again. Back then I did not know the utter ruthlessness and idiocy of the Bene Gesserits and their kind.

    But I am detracting, I went looking for the observer who may or may not be my auntie. In hindsight I should not have done that as I might have easily entered into a trap. Some day my curiosity will be the end of me. As I were saying I went to investigate, I can still remember the soft and gentle touch of the flowers as I passed by. I felt drawn to the place where that feeling was emanating. As I came closer I saw the figure of a person hiding behind the tree, not doing a good job if I may add, I saw a hand on holding the trunk as well as a general outline of a human figure. From what I could make out it was a feminine hand, which was proven by the fact that a woman’s head peeked from behind the tree. It was aunt Julia alright.

    When she realized that I could see her she stepped out in front of me. The fact that she was a member of the Atreides’ family explained why there were no guards rushing to catch her. They probably were not informed of her mental health, I later learnt that my father and uncle decided to keep that in the family and to try to force some lucidity by cramming her with medicine. The way all embarrassing situations are being dealt with in the Union. She retained some of her former beauty, gained a bit of weight. Her eyes looked tired, sad and afraid. This is what struck me. It was a strange mixture to see in someone’s eyes.

    I remember running towards her to embrace her. I have not seen her for a year. She seemed startled, a giggling child running towards her. Aunt Jul looked as if she was woken from a dream. As I embraced her the smell of medicines struck me. It was rather nauseating, as you can imagine. The stench of hospitals and sickness saturated her clothes. While I hugged her, my aunt tentatively put her hand on my head and tried to caress me. When I looked up to her face she seemed rather lucid. Maybe my sudden appearance “snapped” her out of her stupor.

    I had to step back a bit, after all you can never force a child to bear this “aroma”. She did not seem to mind. Her eyes were fixed on me, I remember feeling strange being gazed in such a manner. Or maybe I saw the creeping madness behind those brown eyes. The shattered mind must have been trying to comprehend what was going on.

    “J...Jori? Is...is that you?” - came the rasping and hollow voice.

    Her lips were dry. I remember the uneasy feeling that I had listening to this now changed voice. Even though I was very young when I first met her somewhere deep in my mind there was a memory of soft and lively sounds. An image of vitality and good-heartedness. The woman before me might have been a complete stranger for all I knew.

    “Yes aunt! It is me...” I stepped forward again “...I am so happy to see you!”

    I did not know what to say. I was not ready for such a situation, what child is? The woman before me was both family and stranger. I was unsure how to proceed. What is expected of me to say? My parents were not with me, they knew what to do, but I was alone. At that point I did not hear the shouting. The head gardener finally noticed my absence and probably was afraid for his life for losing me.

    More voices joined the one of the gardener. The curious thing was that the name that they were shouting was that of my aunt. It seems I was not the only one who ran away from their caretakers. I could hear my father and uncle shouting aunt Julia’s name. Why was there such a commotion?

    “Jori, listen to me...” my aunt’s voice sounded normal again, serious even.

    The voices were closer, they must have spotted us as they were shouting my name and aunt Julia’s.

    “Jori, don’t let them get to you.” I didn’t know what that meant at the time. Also at the time I did not know that she was using a Bene Gesserit technique for implanting ideas in one’s head.

    Thinking about now, she might not be crazy at all, but just pretending. She, like my mother had some schooling at the witches’ academy.

    “They...” her voice faltered for a moment “...they did things to me… unspeakable things.”

    I remember feeling afraid of these words said in an even and calm voice. I instinctively felt that this was not the babble of a psychotic woman, but the ones of a person who knew what she was talking about. Back then unspeakable things for me meant having an injection or being tickled until I cry. It was later when I learnt what she meant.

    “Stay away of these women...or they...” she started ventilating “...they...” trying to catch some breath, also saw tears trickling down her cheeks “...they will get to you. I am sure of that.”

    She then embraced me. I remember feeling cold even though it was the middle of the summer. Aunt Julie kissed my cheeks and held me tightly.

    “Don’t let them...” she kept repeating. “Don’t let them...”

    It was then when my father and uncle found us. I remember the strong grip of my father pulling me away from her. I started crying, I instinctively felt that there was something wrong in all that. My uncle looked both angry and sad. My father was gripping my shoulders, he seemed concerned. I wanted to turn away, not to look how my aunt was struggling to get away from her husband’s arms. My father was so concentrated on what was happening and prevented me from hiding. In hindsight I am glad that I observed all this. I was a firsthand witness of how the witches can shatter one’s mind and ruin the lives of whole families.

    My mother came too, holding in her arms the little Lawson who was crying. If it was not a tragic scene it might have been funny. My mother was a paragon of calmness, trying to soothe Lawson. What were she thinking bringing him to bear witness of his mother’s downfall. Small wonder he grew up in this way.

    “DON'T LET THE WITCHES TAKE JORI!” screamed my aunt.

    Her voice scared me and I too started crying.

    “THEY WILL RUIN EVERYTHING! DON’T LET THEM! I IMPLORE YOU!”

    A group of people in black costumes accompanied by the House Atreides’ doctor arrived in a hurry. The costumed people were of course CSS agents. They quickly came to my uncle’s assistance and subdued aunt Jul. The doctor opened his bag and took an injector and administered the sedative.

    My aunt’s screams were reduced to mere whimpers. There were other witnesses to this scene - gardeners, guards, maids and other personnel. All observed solemnly in silence. I am sure that the CSS worked extensively on them to prevent this event to be leaked to the outside world.

    My father released me so I ran to my mother as she gave young Lawson to his nanny.

    “Mama, what will happen with auntie?”

    She caressed my head.

    “Don’t worry sweetie, your aunt does not feel well. She didn’t mean what she said...”

    Of course that turned out to be a lie, but I can’t blame my mother for trying to hide this from me. After all I am sure that she was not aware of the horrors that the Bene Gesserits tried to inflict on me…

    I am sure that you knew of this moment, after all back then you were still on Kaladan. My mother tried to protect me from the Sisterhood, but your actions undid her efforts. Rest assured my intention is not to cast any blame. I am stating what happened, or at least what I remember of it. I am beginning my journal of sorts with this event because I believe that our lives and our worldview is being formed by such experiences. I concede that as a regular person I have my biases and prejudices and they are skewing my perception. But the stories that will come afterwards will prove that some of my views.

    Now, regarding the book, after many years of failed attempts my agents managed to get a hold on of one of the last remaining copies of the book that started it all - the Sisterhood and their wicked practices. It is written soon after their founder’s death, I am talking about the de facto founder Loraine, who was killed by Darth Drakoniss many millennia ago. It shows the rotten core of their teachings and why they are a danger to all of us. Please, rest assured that my emotions towards them are not affecting my view on them. There are enough objective facts that can prove it all. My hope is that you will see that for yourself and will decide to assist me in this fight. For many years we have been complacent and were being passive observers of the rot of our society. We allowed ourselves to be tied in a web of lies and manipulations. We became puppets in the hands of unseen puppeteers. I am sure that you have realized this yourself in your long experience.

    Your’s faithfully,

    Jori

    TAG: To be continued
  19. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~The dialogue in blue was taken from the new Emperor’s speech from a previous joint point between Pashatemur and myself.


    ~IC~ Senator Riyo Chuchi, the voice of the new Emperor
    Location: Senate Rotunda, Coruscant

    “...not without a better strategy to determine best practices. So the military and Senate will form a joint committee to establish new standards and practices.

    The young Emperor’s voice could be felt by all in the Senate Rotunda.

    The most important review committee will be one to which I will appoint a member of my cabinet - Policy review. There were laws enacted during the war that have been both onerous to implement and unjust in their very nature. These policies have enabled and emboldened organizations such as COMPNOR to take on authority they do not have and dilute the efficiency and efficacy of established offices of the Imperial government...”

    COMPNOR, Chuchi suppressed a grimace. Also known as the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order... it was once an organisation that spread the ideals of the Republic throughout the galaxy and was the first to spread the word of the ‘New Order’ after that special session of Congress where Palpatine announced he will restructure the Republic into a Galactic Empire. It filtered down from there through the ISB and other organisations down to the local level of each system within the Empire using indoctrination and propaganda to shape the populace into ideal citizens of the Empire.

    ’How did we unknowingly become slaves of the machine?’ For some of the senators, the realisation dawned on them towards the end of the Republic but by then, it became too late to stop the process. Then there are others that revelled in it and sought opportunity in the misery of others. How much did it cost the citizens of the galaxy? She could only fathom that the cost to be astronomical and silence was paid with the lives of their colleagues whom met unfortunate ends or mysteriously disappeared when tried to voice their objections.

    Suspicions of foul play became the most thought about conclusion and Chuchi, and her like-minded colleagues, had a gut feeling that agents of the opposition had something to do with it. Silencing the voices of those against the views of Emperor Palpatine and to instil fear to those that would follow suit. One can only play the game for so long before it erodes your integrity and soul while the ground crumble beneath your feet. No, it is hard to be a person picked by the people for the people when if you do not hold your tongue and appear to be silent and obedient in the open. Have to pick your battles carefully with the appropriate strategy while using discretion about the actions you take otherwise you will not make it home at the end of the day.

    Not far across was the fiery Canna Omonda from Chandrila. She was against everything Palpatine had created and wore her passion on her sleeves and against better judgement, too openly for the likes of her colleagues. Her tongue was sharp enough to get away with it but for how long will that luck last? There was something about that passion which reminded Chuchi of the Queen from Naboo. Headstrong but a bit too impulsive. Omonda meant well with her actions but lacked the subtle finesse and charisma that her predecessor, Mon Mothma, was capable of. Another senator who had disappeared.

    Polo Se’lab, the coward from Bothawui. With every vote, he abstains. No courage nor backbone, then why bother showing up at all? She gritted her teeth then inwardly sighed. No, not fair on him. How many senators here are living in fear of death if they follow what they believe in? But it is frustrating, to the point where he is just taking up space. Fear immobilises progress.

    The Senator for the Sern Sector. Gebnerret Vibrion. Not quite the charmer that Fang Zar was. Zar was another colleague she would miss, it was a shock to learn of his death several years ago. No one knew what happened, only that he was struck down during one of the peaceful protests against Palpatine’s New Order. Each one of them here has been affected in one way or another.

    Leverage and unofficial dealings helps to have a wild card against certain groups, Chuchi certainly takes no pleasure in manipulating others but when lives and quality of life for others on the line, what is one to do? No doubt that climate was all orchestrated by Palpatine, probably took pleasure at the little pawns fighting over each other to be on top. It all sounds like a Neimodian den where only the greedy survive.

    “...I’m not so naive as to believe them wholly organic. COMPNOR, for instance, is supported by silent parties who don’t want to be overtly associated with these ultra-conservatives. They have to be managed or others will become sympathetic to their fanatical “cause. ” There's no point railing against people who stubbornly cling to a belief in the face of fact - fact that they dismiss because they don't accept empirical method, much less qualitative methodology - its all too complicated for their taste. They’re invested in simplicity being a barometer, a test of authenticity, of truth. They pick and choose the facts that suit their own arguments. Then there are the truly jaded, like Palpatine, who relied on the willful ignorance of people like those who make up COMPNOR...I’ll have to frame any actions regarding them as a matter of authority…”

    With the revelations of what they had long suspected, her blood boiled and seethed at what happened to her former colleagues and at the shackles that oppressed and prevented progress for so long. Why was Vader officially telling us about this and now? What is his endgame?

    “Let this be notice to others like COMPNOR, if you draw funds from the treasury, your positions are up for review. If you do not draw resources from the government, then you have been assuming authority not granted by this government to take and are therefore, operating illegally. You will be shut down.”

    Her eyes glanced over to several other pods, some belonged to the industrialists, guilds and unions. She felt a tingle down her spine. Chuchi refrained from glaring at the representative from Malastare, the Gran was one to avoid. He was once an avid supporter of Palpatine and she and several other suspect he was one of a few whom had leaked details of private conversation between certain senators to the late-Emperor. She kept an impassive expression as one of those eye stalks swivelled in her direction and looked beyond the Gran’s pod.

    It was a mistake to allow corporate entities a membership within the senate. ‘Of course some would see profit in their coffers from such a cost.’ Nothing more than an expensive figurehead while the true head lied elsewhere. Some of those representatives have been known to flaunt their money in order to buy power and influence for certain individuals and in doing so affects honest progress for the people is halted so that someone could profit from those setbacks. It was disappointing to spend so much time campaigning for a just cause only to have the rug pulled out from underneath by corporate greed. ‘Would the change the new Emperor speak of put an end to that? She dare not hope as there was a high chance that she would be bitterly disappointed… but there is that spark inside and the possibility is there.

    Her gaze shifted to the young Togruta woman, her once dear friend, that stood silently on the podium with the Emperor. 'Oh Ahsoka, I hope you know what you have gotten yourself into.'

    The young emperor’s speech continued on and entire rotunda was engaged on his every word. More talk of changes to the system and that we all have to work together to create a standardisation of Imperial Code. This in turn should allow equal treatment across the Empire, improve living and health conditions of their citizens and clear communications between the different levels of government.

    She had half an ear to the speech, while it appears to be about what to expect from this point going forward, she knew Vader was not foolish to lay all his plans out in the first senatorial address after the autopsy of the Late Emperor Palpatine. She wondered what he was keeping close to the chest...

    "You, yourselves will negotiate new standards and define the needed practices. There will be no implementation without representation and there will be no changes to which there is not a proper consensus. When we put into law... enact, what must be considered some of the most important legislation, we will have an accord on the codes of conduct. You will all have a hand in them, each department of this government will. They will be published, so there will be no question about what is being enacted. You will have ample opportunity to debate them and in the end, the objections being addressed, afterward, there will be no contention..."

    The gears in Senator Riyo Chuchi’s mind kept turning as she processed what was being said, The government is definitely going to experience a transitional period. The way the administration had ran things will be under review. What will be cut, who will be replaced? Of course there be changes but Chuchi speculated that the new Emperor did not want to reveal everything at once.

    "Finally, on the matter of the monarch...the monarch, as head of state and in counsel, with the directors of the major bureaus of the Imperial government who will comprise the Imperial cabinet, will constitute the executive body of this Empire, please refer to the data transferred to your pod’s monitor.”

    The monitors on the pods showed a breakdown of what Vader was saying. Chuchi followed along with the listings as she listened.

    “The Imperial cabinet, including by definition, governing leadership within the Senate, and the leadership of the military, the treasury and the Sector Commands, Judiciary, and other key departments you will see listed in your data, will sit in counsel to the reigning monarch. The Monarch will retain the prerogatives to support or deny support of ministerial candidates, to declare war or peace, and the 3 rights of supporting or denial of support to bills of legislation, the right to choose or dismiss a President, and the right to be consulted, advised, and to warn."

    There was widespread movement. Were the others feeling uneasy? She could only imagine that the collar of the tunics are feeling somewhat tighter on those closer to the top of the food chain.

    “In balance…. IN BALANCE… the Royal Prerogative will be checked by public regard and conveyed by their elected representatives, just as structured in many other constitutional monarchies around this galaxy. I once had the temerity to suggest to one of your body, that perhaps the Senate should be made to agree. I was…young! This Empire… is young. There will be change, make no mistake!”

    “I can hand down proclamations, decisions, fiats, but from my experience in battle, I’ve learned that recognizing the talents of others and delegating to those best suited and specialized in creating solutions for particular challenges is the most effective means to gaining an objective. That’s my function - to husband the resources, fix what needs fixing, and make sure we all work in concert effectively to the betterment of the whole, not just for one group or another. That which seems to present us with difficulty has always been our strength, our differences. They bring fresh perspectives where the way seemed impassable before. We are in need of innovation and we are in need of strength of our numbers. Our future will be only as good as the shared vision we dare to dream. I have told you some of the difficulties that lie ahead, but I am not deterred. I know of what this Empire is capable.

    "As our troops and officers return home, families are reunited. We are one body and as one returning from war, this body needs to heal and let go of the past. This body will not starve a hand to let a leg prosper! We are one galaxy. We share the past! We share the present and WE WILL SHARE THE FUTURE – EQUITABLY, JUSTLY, AND SOUND!"

    There was a wave of noise. Senators and representatives stood and cheered, some cried out but all mixed up in the moving bodies in thousands of pods around the chamber. Chuchi stood in silence. She could feel her temple throbbing, her heart pounding and so she closed her eyes and sat down as questions swirled about in her head. So this was it? Was this genuinely him? Is he in charge? If everyone is up for review… we are all vulnerable and can be replaced… Where does that leave us?

    She still did not know how to react as this was… different from what she was expecting. Different, yes, but not entirely bad. There were some points that would make a difference and improve the state of the Empire but as words could make something simple, it will take time and dedication for that to work as intended rather than be abused by those that want to exploit it.

    Chuchi felt a steady gaze upon her as she opened her eyes and looked over to Papanoida. His brow was arched and a curious expression on his face. He wanted to know what she thought about all this. She gave a half smile and shrugged to her peer, she did not trust to speak her mind entirely when she still needed time to process it all. “You were right. There is a change in the winds…” She whispered to him, “Ah…it is… too soon to predict the direction this course will take us... ” and then moistened her dry lips. “Perhaps to healthier pastures...” there was trepidation but some hope leaked out in the tone of her voice. “Anything is probable... we just have to observe and act carefully.”

    TAG: Open, and for those inclined.
  20. pashatemur Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 21, 2004
    star 4
    OCC: My sincerest thanks to CO without whose efforts and contributions this post and RPG would not have been possible. I dedicate this post to the superb and talented originators, writers and readers who contributed to GAW over the years and to all the patient and helpful moderators who kept us on the straight and narrow. You know who you are. Also, hello and my best to you all. That said, let's play ball!

    IC: Bail Organa, Sabe Delba, Riyo Chuchi
    Location: Senate - Coruscant


    Bail surveyed the corridor as he lead the Queen from her senate pod. To either side of them, the sharp quiet his of doors sliding open caught his ear. Each door, the entrance to a pod bay now seemed to be disgorging pod occupants into the corridor bustling with activity. Senators, aids, various other officials and potentates who’d roused themselves to attend the new Emperor’s address passed in groups speaking animatedly, though guardedly about the speech they’d all just heard. The air was electric and Sabe too had noted how “wild” the energy felt as they all poured out onto the red carpet of the curving hall that belted each ring of the senate dome.

    Sabe broke with custom and a dimpling smile appeared across the pale mask of her ceremonially painted face and it seemed to Bail she was looking at him rather expectantly.

    Under his breath, he answered her unvoiced question as he leaned as close as her elaborate headdress would allow. “Look, Your Majesty, you and I both know that speaking out on Coruscant, much less in one’s own system has been bad for one’s health the last near decade. I appreciate your entertaining my impromptu visit yesterday evening and I have given quite a bit of thought to what you had to say. Given today’s speech, hearing His Excellenc... excuse me, His ... Majesty’s own words, I’ve got a lot to digest. You weren’t hoping I’d turn my opinion on the head of a pin?”

    “No,” said Sabe with a leveled gaze. “I’m not asking you to speak your mind in public, Senator, but you have to agree that if we want democracy, we must set an example and open the discourse. We both know what the alternatives are,” she finished with a gracious smile that so transformed any differences she bore with her half-sister, Padmé, particularly in ceremonial pallour, that Bail had to look away.

    Upon doing so, his eyes met those of Senator Chuchi. Organa beckoned the Naboo Queen toward the Senator.

    Sabe turned her elaborately adorned head toward the younger Chuchi. Again, parting with decorum, she allowed another smile in greeting.. “Senator Chuchi! It’s been quite some time since we have enjoyed your company.” (The monatone of her own voice always felt so jarring to Sabe.)

    “The pleasure is all mine.” Riyo Chuchi bowed her head slightly to the Queen from Naboo. While Sabe bore similarities in appearance to Padmé, a dear friend to Chuchi, she knew the half sisters were different in their own right and she did not make Sabe out to be someone else in her mind. It was unfortunate that some others had fallen into that trap of transference and expected Sabe to be exactly the same.

    “Senator,” said Bail extending his hand to shake Riyo’s. “It’s been such a long time...about 3 whole...hours!”

    Chuchi took Bail’s warm hand in her own and shook as she smiled to him. “You know what they say about time and how it passes so quickly.”

    “Oh were we having fun?” he asked dryly, quick and disturbing images of the old Emperor’s autopsy flashed in his mind’s eye.

    “Well…” the corner of her lips lifted and gave an amused smile. “...We did get to go on a brief excursion and watched a pivotal moment in history.” To anyone else listening, that would mean the recent session they just walked out from.

    “We have Her Majesty to thank for that,” he said winking. “But on a more grave note, I look forward to some interesting discourse should we screw up the gumption to start the ball rolling. Amidala was just encouraging my famed foot. As we all know, lately, I’ve been a wallflower at the veritable “ball.” As I’m usually the first to put my foot in it, the entertainment has been sub par since I’ve bowed out of late.” Bail grinned with sarcasm and then sighed knowing Senator Chuchi would appreciate his words.

    “Then I’ll make a note of that when the occasion calls for us to dance.” Chuchi gave a nod as she understood what Bail meant. It was a different type of dance and skilled diplomatic footwork is required to keep one’s head above the ‘water’ than the physical. She did not want to know what would happen if there was a slip up, but she would make sure as best she could that she would never find out.

    The banter did not disguise the more important communication taking place between Senator Organa and Chuchi and Sabe made quiet note of it to herself before interjecting “Speaking of “dance,” I should hope to see the both of you this evening at the reception?”.

    “The reception…? I had forgotten.” Chuchi bit her bottom lip as her mind raced to remember her schedule. “Unless something comes up between now and then... I suppose there could be an appearance.”

    Chuchi and Amidala before him, Bail could see they were careful of one another as it seemed a good many others were being as a brief glance about them revealed. He wondered if Riyo had the same concerns he did about Sabe’s alliances and whether she could be trusted, either because she unwittingly would divulge information and words they both used or would do so through coercion or, given her suspected closeness to the new Emperor, willingly reveal and betray them. Bail remained convinced that Vader was no friend to those who wanted to see the reinstatement of the democracy of Galactic Republic, as it was clear the Executor was staunchly invested in the Empire.

    In spite of the rallying tone of the Executor’s laudable efforts - a quite well crafted speech for a man not known for his patience and diplomacy, Bail had to admit this was a puzzle. A smattering of diplo-speak only proved that the presumptive Emperor had gained some finesse, softened the gleam of his ‘armor,’ as it were. However, it did seem odd that Vader would extend himself in such a theatrical exercise as this speech rather than summarily rounding up his opponents and making them...”go away.” Perhaps Bail was curious now where before, he had been adamantly closed to any other perspective but that Vader was a scourge, a weak and twisted traitor who in the bitterness of his own failure had given in to cruelty and corruption. Yes, he could see something was up and Vader was clearly taking great chances against other power brokers, namely, the Moffs. Why? What was the hidden agenda?

    Sabe observed Organa and his fellow Senator, Chuchi. Perhaps they both could be trusted. They did seem committed against the notion of an Empire and strongly opposed to anything that impinged on the democracy to which Sabe fervently hoped to help restore the Galaxy. Still, a restoration of the strength of the Senate would help toward that eventual end and if Anakin wanted to restore that strength...all the better. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. In her heart, though, the way was not so clear, but if sacrifices had to made, she would make them.

    Chuchi’s golden eyes locked onto Bail expectantly. “Will you be in your office later today? I have some information regarding the Caamasi matter that I would like you to take a look at.” The furry Caamasi were pacifists, they demonstrated kindness to all and earned the reputation that they were trustworthy. After the Caamasi homeworld was bombarded just before the inception of the Empire, Alderaan became one of the main refugee sites for the species. She also knew one had acted as an advisor on the matter to Bail over several occasions.

    “I don’t intend it. Matters at home. A certain young princess is expecting me for tea, however I could give you a lift to your Embassy and we can discuss along the way,” Bail suggested lightly.

    Chuchi considered it for a second and smiled. “That would be just fine, thank you. I hope the princess is doing well, I’ve been meaning to ask about her but with all...” She gestured in the direction of the senate chamber. “...this… you know how it can be. Rarely do we have time for moments of peace and privacy.”

    “Then in that case, we should bid Her Highness farewell until this evening. Any event in which Amidala will be in attendance is an event where I cannot help but attend myself.” Bail turned and bowed low to the beautiful queen and then gestured for Riyo to precede him.

    “I hope to see you two later. The evening will be lacking lustre without the both of you and we would certainly find it an unbalanced measure should necessity absent your attendance . Our best to your family, Senator Organa.” said Sabe formally and bowing her head. “Good day, Senator Chuchi,” The Queen of Naboo bowed her head slightly in reverence and her ladies, hearing the signaled leave taking, stepped in to form protective rank about her as Sabe turned to progress through the concourse and greet others along her way.

    TAG: Bail, Chuchi, Open to those so inclined and in attendance.
  21. pashatemur Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 21, 2004
    star 4
    IC: Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin; Grand Moff Conan Motti; Sate Pestage, Grand Vizier; Sophia Anastasia, Enfanta of Ursa; Celeste, Reina of Ursa and Empress; Mas Amedda, Speaker of the Senate; Anakin, Lord Vader, Galactic Emperor
    Location: Senate - Coruscant


    Motti, following close at Tarkin’s heels, tried hard not to look like he was running to keep up with the Grand Moff’s deep and purposeful stride. Nearly on tiptoe, Motti stretched his neck to hiss into his comrade’s ear, “We MUST convene a meeting of the…”

    “Silence,” Tarkin snapped under his breath. “Do try to control yourself, Motti. His Majesty has done us the great favor of providing a perfect reason for a meeting. I know my wife would never forgive me were we not to attend the grand reception this evening…”

    “But Wilhuff…surely we need to strike before that crazed humanist and his lackey take the field before …”

    Tarkin turned quickly on his heel and the retinue that followed him, nearly slammed into each other. “Conan!” Lips tightly drawn, Tarkin spoke smoothly as he patted Motti’s shoulder. “Your passion is up after that stirring speech, no doubt. I do think our friends Trachta and …what’s his name, are under certain observation…just as we all are. He’d be a fool to make his move now when all eyes are upon us. Take a look around,” he said subtly gesturing to the throngs they passed to point out the attention the Moffs were garnering as they progressed. “Let him. It would be good to have him out of our hair.”

    “You failed to note, we are expected to contribute to this new regime.” To which Motti intended a reply, but Wilhuff, holding up a finger which he waved slightly between them as he clucked, added, “Let us not be brash. Ch…ch,ch,ch, let’s not spoil the soufflé!”

    “Have you lost your mind? Our necks are already in the noose,”said the pudgy Moff frantically. “You heard Vader…”

    “Indeed …” said Tarkin with a small sly smile. “Compose yourself, Conan…”

    Motti hated Tarkin’s surety, for he would not share his thoughts and of course he would not, not in this throng. However, it was torture to hang on a word or two as Wilhuff was so parsimonious with information. When he had a plan or a “card” in reserve, he was always smug and left his cohorts to tread as best they could and trust their careers, resources, and their very lives to Tarkin.

    “Your…Majesty!”

    Motti turned about to see to whom it was Tarkin’s unctuous greeting was directed and found himself nose to nose with the Grand Vizier in the company of the Reina of Ursa and now, the Empress of the Galaxy.

    The only thing that saved Motti the pain of covering his nose was a long bow that all turned to give the Ursean beauty in her raiment of silver. Pestage had a weakness for sweets and his breath was like his reputation, it preceded him with maleficence.

    The Grand Vizier smiled down at Motti as the Moff bowed in decorum.

    Sophia fidgeted and looked around to see who had newly impede their departure and then frown up at Han. While she had been taught to receive what emotions or feelings emanated from individuals, she had also been taught to separate herself from them, realize they were not hers. What she felt now was very complex and, letting go of Han’s hand, the Enfanta drew close to her mother, feeling that the Empress did not care for the attentions of the newly arrived cohort of uniformed humans, particularly the tall thin one, the one from across the dark senate rotunda whose cold eyes she had met with earlier.

    Celeste placed a gentle arm instinctively about her daughter and reluctantly extended her hand. Tarkin had from the very first she had met him, impressed her with his great capacity for callous disdain and abject cruelty. He bore her a grudge for his having been found in breach of etiquette on Ursa. It was a situation he’d drawn out into a near intra-galactic confrontation for the sake of his huge sense of self. It was grotesque and she knew that taking her hand in obeisance was churning Tarkin’s stomach and doubtless engendering a solemn and tacit oath on the Moff’s part to do what he could to inflict suffering.

    “Grand Moff Tarkin,” said Celeste as he bowed over her hand. With great control she made herself withdraw her hand slowly. “It has been many years since last we spoke.”

    “Yes…indeed…many. But then, we shall make up for lost time,” Wilhuff said smoothly. “My wife looks forward to this evening’s festivities.”

    “You must introduce us. The reception will be a welcome change from the formality of this afternoon,” she returned with equal aplomb and with relief, Celeste spied the approach of the tall Chagrian Speaker and a pair of beautifully turned blue and white montrals parting the crowd behind the Moffs now assembled before the Empress.

    Sophia looked expectantly around Tarkin, sensing her father’s approach and relieved that he was near, but she kept her position.

    “Ah, but I am detaining you, your Highness. As you suggest, a welcome relief from formality,” said Tarkin, knowing he could not excuse himself from this impromptu audience. The Empress would have to allow his withdrawal and he hoped she would opt to join her husband rather than continue exchanging vapid niceties with the Moffs.

    The Grand Vizier enjoyed the moment and briefly. He wondered, and he believed, all must wonder, what Tarkin and his ilke thought of the Emperor’s speech. No one had time to truly digest it and parse out the possible repercussions, however, it was certain the Moffiture would be seeing great change. Their access to great wealth was certainly going to be curbed, if they survived the reformation. Sate wasn’t sure how he felt about the speech either, however, he was confident of his relative position and safety. Afterall, he knew where all the skeletons were buried. And should Tarkin worry. Sate looked into Tarkin’s eyes. No, even Tarkin was needed and dashed if he didn’t already know it!

    Tarkin’s gaze revealed to him the faint smirk that grew slowly at the corner of Pestage’s lips and Wilhuff counted himself fortunate not to have to endure the indignity of the Vizier’s verbal jibes, for it was patently clear that Pestage would pin the Moff to the floor just to see him sweat in this most public of arenas. Pestage, however, just as Tarkin, was beholden to stay his own prerogative in the presence of the Empress, though, were the time right, Tarkin would relish playing his “hand.”

    Yet, just now, the Grand Moff was himself relieved at Vader’s approach, for he was certain, it would end this little impasse. For he would give that the erstwhile Executor, like himself, had little patience for intrigue and however much Wilhuff wished to erase whatever paltry delight Sate Pestage took from this unavoidable encounter, Tarkin was a man accustomed to action and detested the lack of it.

    Mas Amedda surveyed the array of insignia-ed drab that surrounded the Empress and quickly surmised the situation into which the new Emperor was entering. Apart from the peace of the lift that brought him with Vader and the Commissar down from the Podium, the Chagrian’s ears were ringing. The noise was all around them and while the guards kept many at bay, he’d never seen Vader so besieged with queries or ever approached without great care! The universe had gone upside down and nothing was where it should be. Amedda deplored the lack of procedure and it was all he could do to remain calm. Quite a few times as they progress through the halls, he found himself ready to spear a foot or two with the end of the great staff as the crowds cloyed about the Emperor, so many quick to curry favor and that was before leaving the restricted areas. Now his speaker’s staff was put away, he had no means but his enormous build and height to ward off the over ambitious.

    Vader broke stride beside him to push ahead of the guard and insert himself between his Ursean Queen and the Moffs. This should be interesting. Amedda thought wryly.

    “Grand Moff Tarkin,” said Vader, his voice flowing out like a wave, stilling the hue of the crowd.

    Tarkin cursed under his breath. He knew it would be an awkward moment, but he hadn’t anticipated the blanket of silence that settled around them. He eyed Vader for a moment and the two locked gazes.

    “Milor…ah, forgive me, Your…Majesty,” said Tarkin with a slow slight bow, the bevy of Moffs exchanging cautious looks and then bowing like a drunken drill team. They all knew that Tarkin would now have to wait to be dismissed and could not answer until their new Emperor addressed them.

    “Wilhuff, we needn’t stand on ceremony... Please…take your ease, gentlemen,” said Anakin realizing with some chagrin, he was deriving tremendous pleasure from Tarkin’s dilemma.

    The faint clatter of armor against weapons rose and fell as the guards shifted to perform their function and moved to survey the crowd and give protection to the Imperial family and potentates.

    “I’m sure you meant to offer a greeting to the Empress on your way out, for you’ve doubtless much with which to tend before this evening….by the way, I am looking forward to see you all at the reception.”

    Nervous glances were exchanged all around as one by one, heads were lifted to regard Vader. Wearing uncertain smiles, some grunted faint ascent, while others tried a tacit nod.

    “Yes, Your Majesty, much to do, before the gala. My wife wouldn’t miss it. She’s been longing to catch a glimpse of the…eh…brilliant raiment of Her most…excellent Majesty.”

    Sophia stepped forward to put her hand in her father’s and looked up at Tarkin, mouth agape. She’d never been in the presence of someone who so desperately wished to be elsewhere and was lying with such …she didn’t know what to call it…syrupiness?

    “Yes,…brilliant…in every way,” said Anakin, turning the barb around.

    Celeste interjected, “What a lovely compliment! I hope you will introduce us this evening, but let us not detain you further,” she added, noting that all movement had come to a standstill.

    Tarkin, for the first time in his life, had no reply. The skin stretched over his cheeks in a tight quick smile and he bowed again, “...m...Majesties.”

    The den rose slowly about them and the throng parted to allow the Moff’s to continue on their way, though not fast enough for Tarkin. He could not quite speak to how he had been taken down just then, but he had been humiliated in front of his peers and in public. What’s more, he had broken a tooth!

    Celeste looked up to Anakin as he took her hand and she squeezed gently. He was shaking! Yet, he continued to respond to individuals briefly as they stood there, but presently he beckoned to Miss Tano to whom Sophia had already skipped.

    TAG: Ahsoka, Lekhauf, Han, anyone present in the corridor of the Senate.
  22. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    OOC: This is a Joint Post between me and @pashatemur. Thank you for it! Glad to see you back!

    IC: duchess Jori Atreides, Admiral Veroti
    Location: guest chamber; ISD “Resolute”, Coruscant orbit

    Jori and her retinue were escorted to the shuttle that was waiting for them in the hangar bay. ‘So, this is it...’ she thought. While she and her group the duchess briefed the rest on the recent development of the situation. Of course, as she expected, there was a short dispute about how preposterous this was and so on, but in the end she was able to convince them. The Warmaster was sulking at her, but as a Royal Guard who was faithful to his sovereign and to the Greater Good said nothing. Everyone has to accept their lot in life. Hopefully she will be able to break the news to Lord Admiral Xavier, Jori was sure that the man will be shocked again, as by now he must have learned that he was the second head of the Union government. The duchess hoped that he was still alive and didn’t die from the shock caused by the sudden promotion. Xavier is a tough man, sometimes she thought that he will outlive her despite his advanced age.

    Mitternacht and the Warmaster were going to stay on-board the Star Destroyer as they will be brought down to the planet by a different shuttle to where Representative Magnus or his people will be able to pick them up. Jori almost felt relieved as those two were very noticeable and brought too much attention to her and the retinue. Besides she didn’t want the ghola following her everywhere and having to explain its presence, even its existence, to the outsiders who didn’t want to accept it. The Warmaster on the other hand was massive, wearing that thick and shining armour of his. A very imposing figure for sure. And again she will have to explain what is his functions and why they sacrifice their body parts and replace them with machine equivalents up to the point when they are unable to leave the ridiculous armour.

    She wondered what will happen on Coruscant. Hopefully there will be an agreement of sorts will be reached so that Jori could deal with the issues back home. There was enough work to be done and this wild journey proved to be a big distraction and Jori hoped it wouldn't cause a major setback for her plans. But she needed to secure her rear guard and the Union's arrogance made things more difficult. Everything depended on this visit, but it might prove to be a wild Bantha chase. At least it will be a distraction of sorts. There was another possible positive outcome out of this situation, her enemies might decide to show themselves and Director Aurelius will be able to cut them out... at least hopefully he will be up to the task. Afterwards she will have to find a way to dispose of him... Everything has its time...

    They were sitting inside the shuttle, a grey utilitarian vehicle, much like the military in the Union used. Jori strapped herself as she sat. The Admiral made sure that they know that they were taking off in a few moments. There was a thin smile on her lips as she followed the man with her gaze. Jori still pondered on the question Veroti had asked her before he left.


    ***

    The Admiral leaned forward over the pilot’s right shoulder and smiled at the “rising” gold of Coruscant that filled the view of the shuttle’s cockpit window.

    “We’re instructed to land directly at the Urs... er... the New Palace, Sir. We’ve been informed the Duchess’ arrival is to be kept low key. His Excellency, the heir, Lord Vader is just now addressing the Senate on the Imperial reconstruction and his officers advise that sentiments are still high after the Senate bombing.”

    “Yes, we’ve kept current on Resolute. Thank you, Captain,” said Veroti cordially.

    The co-pilot was taking receipt of more instruction, noted the Admiral as he saw the comm lights on the control boards blink an alert and shortly, his deductions were verified when the pilot spoke up again.

    “The 2 members of the Duchess’ retinue are departing Resolute now, Sir. They are en route to their destination and the shuttle will relay their arrival when they touch down. We were also informed that you have been temporarily billeted at the Embassy for the next 27 hours and that the House Tagge has been informed. Something...encrypted, an embedded message relayed, “This evening’s Reception Invitation extended with billet this morning. Awaiting your arrival at Embassy. Have your dress whites ready. All our very best and Reni “says” “Dapa.

    Tanis Veroti let out a hearty laugh and inhaled deeply. “Many thanks, Captain.”

    “Of course, Sir.”

    The view ports before them began to show condensation and the atmosphere of the planet provided a crisp blue with dappled fluffy clouds coming fast.

    “Better strap in, Sir.”

    “Eh...yes, I’ll return to the main cabin and the Duchess...” said Veroti who soon found a seat next to the flaxen haired Duchess, and with a curt bow, took a seat discretely distant but near the lady. “We’ll be landing directly at the New Palace, Your Grace. I’ll be your escort until you are safely and comfortably installed in your suite. Your arrival is coinciding with some very important events in our Empire and is for your safety being kept low key for now. I was informed that your servant, Alia will be in attendance to receive you,” said the Admiral with a congenial smile. In spite of the Lady’s confident and proud bearing, Veroti was himself born of a noble family and well schooled in etiquette. Besides, he was beginning to believe the Duchess was not at all well advised and he could not help but feel concern for her under the thorny circumstances of her coming to Coruscant. So he endeavoured, barring any intelligence to convince him that the Lady intended ill towards the Empire, to follow his instincts and his noble obligation to a Lady in over her head and provide some reliable support to her in so far as he was able.

    He gestured for her to take a look out of the windows and see the glistening towers of Coruscant shimmering in the early afternoon sun.

    The members of her retinue stiffened a bit as the outsider Admiral sat next to their duchess. Jori could hardly conceal her smile, it was both amusing and sad to see how narrow-minded the Union had become. Only Nastya remained visibly calm as she is a Bene Gesserit and they were trained to conceal all emotions.

    The fact that she will be meeting Alia again so soon soured her mood, but she managed to conceal the fact. The little witch will be dealt with as soon as she gets back to the Union. Her only crime was that Alia chose to serve the Mother Superior and not her. Jori knew that the sister was a double agent for the CSS but still this would not atone to her crime. The outsiders mustn’t know about their bitter relations though as it might complicate things.

    Jori turned towards the Admiral and smiled at him.

    “I understand, especially given the unfortunate circumstances that brought me here.” she touched his elbow. “I hope this will not be a farewell, but if it is I must thank you for your hospitality, despite our brief clash.”

    “Dear Madame Duchess, you are a stranger in a strange land. I shall gladly give you my support until such time as a competent liaison is assigned to you, that is, if you find my company agreeable. Your intelligence and bearing speaks well of you and as you are in need, I in my duty cannot very well do my forebears credit if I ignore such a call to my obligation. Coruscant and Imperial diplomacy are as layered and labyrinthine as the underworld, even for the most consummate of statesmen.” He bowed his head in courtly favor to the beautiful Duchess and taking her hand, kissed the air above her fingers and waited for her reply.

    This time she didn’t flinch from the man’s touch, but her retinue seemed uncomfortable. It was amusing to find out that the Imperials can be as pompous in their manner of speaking as her peers from the Union. A bit of a common ground there...

    “Of course my dear Admiral, I find your company to be quite satisfactory.” she smiled benevolently “I was wondering, where the archduke Moritani will be sent to? I don’t see him here with us and I would like at some point to have a word with him. When it is possible of course.”

    He let her hand leave his and smiling lifted his head as he felt the repulsors rumble beneath their feet. They were in the approach. Sure enough, the golden spires and the mountain peak surmounted by the Ursean temple, Helera Weg, were now clearly in view.

    “Archduke Moritani is a complicated issue. He is being remanded to Ursa after Imperial courts arrange extradition. They are letting the Ursean courts deal with the domestic claims first, under supervision of the Imperial Magistrate for the Ursean system. I expect shortly, your people will be contacted with all the relevant information...but, quickly, before the necessary distractions of your state arrival, I have placed information on this data card, including my commlink connection so that you may reach me should you have need. It is likely I will be excused, once you are settled in your suite at the Embassy. I’ll have administrative matters to which I must attend and family who are expecting me. I’ll call ahead to see that you are comfortable and if you require my assistance. However, you are a stateswoman, so I’m sure you will have little need of me.”

    The high pitched whine of the repulsors rose, though muffled, a clear indication they would soon be disembarking. Out of the view ports, shadows passed and cast the shuttle in a near twilight as the transport lowered to a private landing pad in the interior of the Ursean Embassy. Towers rose about them, windows glinting with crystal mullions. At the perimeter of the pad, several other light craft stood and beyond, a greensward with willowing trees swayed, their silver leaves seeming to shimmer as the gusts thrown up by the landing gear buffeted them.

    “Well, we appear to have arrived,” he said in a breath and unfastening the restraining belt in his lap, he stood and offered his hand.

    Jori smiled at the Admiral. The ambiguity around the Archduke was a minor setback, not that it was important to talk with the man, but still it could have been useful. It will be an interesting case since the evidence was flimsy at best and there was hardly any proof of Moritani’s guilt despite what the captured pilots had said. After all it was not that hard to make a person believe whatever it was needed of them but there was no way to tell that to the Imperials. Not that she had a direct involvement in all that despite the existence of the doctored documents made specially for the eyes of her uncle. Jori didn’t ask for details from the Director of the CSS as it was under a need-to-know basis and she didn’t really want to know. The CSS had their own reasons to do this and this unsettled her a bit as they could easily try the same stunt with her. Nevertheless she needed them and they needed her...

    “Thank you Admiral, I hope that we will meet again. After all you opened an interesting subject for discussion back on-board your ship.”

    Veroti raised a brow for a moment.

    The duchess suppressed a sigh, the Admiral had clearly forgotten his last question while on-board his ship regarding the usage of the dead in the Union. Probably she will drop the subject, besides there was no way of describing the situation without appearing utterly insane. From what Dennii had told her the outsiders won’t understand at best. Aside of that her mission was not to justify and make excuses for the Union’s way of doing things, well excluding the incident at Derra but still.

    They had begun to walk out onto the ramp and to a waiting welcome committee, though, to the Admiral’s disappointment, not one was a member of the Ursean monarchy, except a young Princess and Ursean officer, pretty enough, though subdued. She introduced herself as a Lieutenant Marion Onora Barras-Ilyich, however, he noted an accompanying aid bowed to the red-headed young woman. “It is a pleasure to meet you Admiral. I have been requested to tell you that you have a visitor who awaits your attention in your suite. Steward Vaclav here will escort you to your rooms and I will escort Her Grace, the Duchess. Should you wish to reach one another, you have that information in your rooms.”

    There were not many people awaiting her arrival. She will have to get used to not be that important while on Coruscant. Strangely it was rather refreshing, all the pompous ceremonies, along with the protracted speeches, the whole hypocrisy in the Union. Jori looked around, the city-planet was sprawling with life, even though the Palace was a restricted zone for the civilians she could see the hundreds of thousands of speeders flying in their designated air corridors. It was exhilarating. She hoped she will have some time to take a walk around like she did on Kaladan, incognito of course.

    The young woman saluted crisply, a few stray ringlets of her curly hair blowing free of her otherwise tailored and prim coiffure as she made this gesture, her pale grey frock coat wipping about her trousered legs.

    Veroti was intrigued at the rather informal greeting and everywhere Imperial and Ursean military. He wondered if this was a hallmark of the soon to be Emperor, Lord Vader.

    “Thank you, Your Highness,” said the Admiral, deciding that for the Duchess’ sake, he would make it clear that this Lt. Marion Onora Barras-Ilyich was a member of the Ursean royal family and not simply any lieutenant in the USF.

    Marion allowed a small smile.

    Jori just nodded and returned the smile, no harm in friendliness.

    “Your Grace, I bid you good day and do not hesitate to call me should you require my assistance in the least matter.” He paused and put a finger to his lips in thought and remembered some of their earlier conversations, but now was not the opportunity for taking up the subject to which he thought the Duchess had alluded and instead offered, “Time permitting, I would certainly entertain hearing more about this discussion that I opened earlier,” said Veroti before bowing and taking his leave. He had a distinct and very anticipatory idea just who waited for him and the hours left between now and the reception were quickly flying.

    Jori smiled pleasantly at the man “Have a good day Admiral, and thank you again for your hospitality.”

    “This way, if you please, Your Grace,” gestured Marion who, along with the cadre of Ursean Palace guards escorting the small entourage, marched lightly through the light-filled marble halls and down expansive corridors, through fountained transepts and a very commodious lift with upholstered and tufted velvet benches.

    Jori restrained herself from looking around too much. Her face was expressionless, also her mother’s training for blocking her mind for the influences of the psykers kicked in. It was not a perfect technique, but it made it hard for a psyker to read her emotions and her intentions. After all she needed to take away or at least reduce their advantage over her so they will have to concentrate more to penetrate her defences. Of course some of the times she lowered her guard, like she did the last few times while with Vader. This time she had to find a balance between the usage of the defence mechanism and its removal. She had tried it on Dennii and it worked for a time until they got to know each other so well and there was no way of hiding everything. No matter how good your control over your body you can’t tell it what to do all the time, there are always involuntary twitches, movements, eye movements, eye dilation. The only thing she could do was to minimize them or using them as false flags. Anyway there was no foolproof system and this didn’t concern her, there was no point in musing over things that were not achievable. Now Jori needed to conceal her emotions and make her appear calmer than she was...

    They finally entered a grand suite of rooms with multiple views of the Embassy and distant Senate district, the bronzium dome of the august structure gleaming in the midday sun. “His Majesty, the Re, wished me to convey on his behalf, his regrets for not greeting you himself. He is addressing the Senate. He may very well be unavailable until this evening’s reception to which you are invited should you wish to attend. An escort is provided you for your safety...”

    “Thank you for the invitation, I will gladly attend.” she smiled “Excuse my ignorance, I have been out of the loop from current events in the Galaxy in the past few days, could you tell me what is the occasion for this reception?”

    “Ah, well, Her Majesty the Reina Mavras of Ursa and the Enfanta Sophia Anastasia have arrived in Coruscant. With the passing of Emperor Palpatine in battle at Kalee, the Re Mavrat and Imperial Executor, Lord Vader is the new Emperor. As the Reina and Enfanta will be the Empress and Heir apparent, the reception is to mark the occasion of their first arrival ascendant. The formal investiture has yet to be scheduled, but the reception is expected to give many here in Coruscant the opportunity to greet the Royal Family. Marion continued to inform the Duchess about the services available to her and the schedule, how the Duchess might communicate with her representatives and amenities in the Embassy.

    So, Palpatine was dead. This was both good and bad news. Good that she won’t have to deal with him, which was a very... interesting prospect with very slim chances of success. Not that she underestimated Vader but a man like Palpatine, managing to bring down the Republic from within and the Jedi not noticing anything. This required some skill to say the least and there wouldn’t have been any chance of maneuvering. The bad thing was that she always wanted to meet the man...

    Nevertheless she will need to clean the Union’s name and begin anew. This will be no lesser challenge than negotiating with Palpatine. From her previous meetings with Vader she could surmise that he won’t be easy to do business with as well. The excitement from the possible challenge made her giddy. Maybe she will have to devote more time on inter-Galactic relations as the politics in the Union are so dull and predictable. Here there was excitement, risk, and most importantly power...

    “I see, well as I said I will gladly attend, to show my respect and gratitude to the Imperial Family for receiving me under these... unfortunate circumstances.” Jori smiled “Two more things, I would like to make contact with the Union representative here on Coruscant and with Lord Admiral Xavier who should be on the planet as well. Also I assume I will have a communications terminal or a holoprojector in my suite so that I can keep in touch with the Union.”

    “Certainly, however, you should know that all transmissions are routed through the Embassy, for security,” replied Marion. “I’m sure you will welcome what privacy can be afforded. If you need anything, you may ring for your steward. I’ll leave you now, as I must see to your attendants. They are being installed in rooms adjacent to yours and across the corridor. Should you need them or they you, your steward will assist you. Good day, Your Grace and I bid you Grusse Seele.” Marion gave a curt bow of her head and let herself out, having dismissed the detail that had escorted them to the Duchess’ suite.

    The situation was more or less as she expected. She will have to omit sensitive information and use the frequencies for communication with the outside Galaxy. Her datapad had a universal port which allowed to be connected to most communication devices which will secure some privacy, but still some things must not be discussed. She had to instruct Sister Nastya and Inquisitor Ruhr to be careful too, not that they had anyone to report to since they were opposed to their respective leaders and reported only to her. With the help of the CSS Jori had managed to create a schism in those parts of the Union that opposed the Atreides’ rule. Divide and conquer…

    Alone now, no thrum of ships engines beneath her feet, Jori allowed herself to relax and surveying the room, crossed to a bank of curtained windows and opted to draw the deep russet brocade back from several of the long windows to let in the bright light of the Coruscant day. The towers of the Embassy sector glinted beyond a deep terrace garden of lush green. Opening one casement, a cool gusting breeze lightly billowed the curtains either side of her carrying the scent of some interesting flower on the stone balcony just beyond where the Duchess stood. Her rooms where high up in a central tower of the Embassy, an edifice of many component buildings all faced in a yellow stone. Either side of her terrace there were more gardens and many slender arched windows with carved glass. All in all, the Embassy seemed to glint like a crystal in the soft blue of the sky above. Behind the tower was a mountain top surmounted by another building, with similar characteristics and many parapets and towers of its own. It must be the famed temple, Helera Weg. It was reputed to be older than the Jedi Temple, which Jori could see as she turned to look out past the bronzium dome of the Senate and the black pyramid of the “People’s Palace.” The white Jedi temple looked like some ghosts’ castle, but the Imperial Palace was not faring well. Part of its top faceted top was completely blown away. The Senate too was charred and under construction. Off in another direction, more evidence of some recent major catastrophe.

    Re-entering her rooms, she paused to remove her purple cloak and laid it upon a richly inlaid wooden and shell table. The room was a grand parlor with a fireplace though no wood existed in great enough amount to supply a source of fuel for the fire, yet there were some log shaped objects in the hearth that must be for the purpose of providing an ambient fire. The walls were covered with paintings and a few holos. The room was well appointed with a desk, and a dining table and chairs, and even a keyboard instrument in an ornate wooden furniture case, deeply piled rugs of dark hue and twining floral motifs. The bed, she surmised, was beyond a far doorway.

    Similarly appointed, the bed was copious with elaborate hangings and curtains, a carved headboard, though restrained in decoration, another seating area and a case of books, actual books built into the wall. The floors were polished marble and in the vaulted ceilings, there were carved vines and floral swags the occupied the central ceiling surrounding a central painting of a fanciful sky, with soft rose and purpling clouds. She went towards the bookshelves as she adored the actual things, she loved how they felt touching them and how they smelt. Castle Kaladan was had a vast library which she frequented a lot while she was growing up. Unfortunately due to her new responsibilities there was not so much time for leisure reading. She picked one at random, it seems to be about the history of Ursa translated in Basic. That could prove useful and interesting she might read it more carefully if the time permitted.

    She put it on the nightstand next to the bed, then she took off her shoes and laid on top of the bed cover staring at the ceiling. The day had been long and the time difference from the Derra system and the on-board clock and the passing of different time zones exhausted her. A sudden noise startled her, it was the droid that carried her luggage, it had entered the room silently. The duchess almost jumped, after all in the Union such a sudden appearance could mean only one thing - an assassination attempt. That was why the servants were supposed to indicate their presence as to not to startle their masters too much.

    Jori did not bring with her any handmaidens or ladies’ maids as she wanted to spare them the stress. Besides she had always felt uncomfortable around them anyway. She did not see the point of having one, it was degrading for them - to help her dress, to help her put make-up, bring her whatever she needed. She understood that they were willing to do it and also saved her time so that she could concentrate on the important things but nevertheless the gnawing feeling remained. So if she could avoid having them around her she took that chance. The duchess was perfectly fit to clothe herself and do her own make up.

    The droid left her luggage on the floor and exited the room. She was going to unpack a bit later. Jori kicked her shoes and laid on top of the bed and closed her eyes. It had been a long day, but given the time difference it was going to continue a bit more. She needed some rest before she found someone to show her around the embassy. But first rest...

    To be continued
    Corellian_Outrider likes this.
  23. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    ~OOC~ This is a joint post between @pashatemur and myself. Thank you for this opportunity, it has been great! :)

    IC: Ahsoka, Celeste, Sophia, Anakin and Tarkin
    Location: Senate - Coruscant

    Tarkin!

    Nearly shoulder to shoulder, the crowd poured past Ahsoka. Keeping her distance from that man, she rooted her feet and stood like a boulder in a stream. She was about to mention her reticence to Vos when she noted the Ledaren was no longer at her side, for he had slipped away into the torrent. Scanning quickly, she spied him briefly as he stealthily moved protectively around the edges of the crowd that had collected around Anakin’s retinue and around the Moffs. On the off chance, the encounter would cause irreparable damage to Anakin’s mission, Ahsoka did not want to be anywhere near Tarkin nor even to have his gaze upon her...

    That was probably an extreme assessment but still... she despised being in the presence of the man ever since they first met on that broken planet, Lola Sayu. Back then, during the early years of the Clone War, Tarkin was only a Captain assigned to a mission with Jedi Master Even Piell in which both were captured and held prisoner at the Citadel Station. Along with Masters Kenobi and Skywalker, Ahsoka and a team of clones were charged with rescuing the two and Citadel Station was a tough nut to crack. The fortress proved nearly impregnable and of course, the plan went out of the window once their presence was known and they had to split up and find an alternative escape over the inhospitable surface of gullies and molten lakes. Along the way, Tarkin had been critical, complaining incessantly, seeming almost deliberately to tear down any solution with stubborn negativity. His idealism and idiosyncrasies revealed to her a man of cold calculation and heartless ambition.

    There was more to it than just the Grand Moff’s abrasive personality, he was instrumental in her leaving behind her life amongst a family and home in which she had grown up not that long ago… the Jedi High Council had pulled her and Anakin away from halting the separatist invasion of Cato Neimoidia, re-assigning them to investigate an attack on the Jedi Temple. It was a politically charged situation with a sticky conflict of interest as some military personnel were injured, too. The Jedi wanted it to be resolved internally while Tarkin kept pushing for the Republic military to step in and overrule.

    Anakin and herself apprehended a suspect responsible, but Tarkin took over and held the lady in a detention cell at the barracks. However, upon going to the cell to question the prisoner, Ahsoka found that the lady had been murdered and the surveillance footage had been doctored to look like she had done it. Smug and sly, Tarkin pinned the murder on her then and there and had her arrested. Finding her credibility shot, the nightmare only worsened as Ahsoka was lead to believe that Anakin had arranged for her release, then realised too late that another party, the same one that had eliminated the suspect, had orchestrated it to look as though she had broken out. Since the evidence had been stacked up against her, it was clear that no one would believe nor help her. So, she was forced to run and get to the bottom of this on her own to clear her name- all whilst Tarkin continued to be the driving force to brand her as a traitor to be executed. It all had been a difficult time… she knew Tarkin was acting on the ‘intelligence’ provided… but could he not see or realise that they were being manipulated? She did follow that thought further along… did not want to allow herself to dwell on the painful memories of her last moments of being in the Jedi Order and the Temple.

    It all felt like almost another lifetime ago...

    She was not alone in her apprehension about Tarkin. Anakin, too, was concerned. Were these her own feelings or hers mixed with his? Either way, it was reassuring to her that they both felt almost the same about that man.

    As the Moffs left, she spied the young Enfanta standing all in blue shimmer-silk next to Anakin, her chestnut tresses down her back, her eyes a deep velvet blue to match, almost exactly, those of her father. Upon spotting Ahsoka, the Ursean princess exuberantly crossed, nearly skipping, to greet the mechanic turned Commissar. Ahsoka half knelt and gave Sophia a tight hug and Sophia obliged with a warm one of her own. Though the Enfanta told her, she knew it was best to remain composed, particularly in public, but they’d been sitting for such a long time, the energy wanted to jump right out of her and how still and exemplary Ahsoka was standing with “Papa” all that time. The dour company at present made her seek Ahsoka’s genuine warmth and for Ahsoka, it was soothing, too, and smiling at Sophia’s open greeting and precocious speech, she laughed and exhaled slowly feeling the tension leaving with that breath.

    “Thank you… Just what I needed.” Ahsoka whispered to the Enfanta Then, looking up, she saw both Celeste and Anakin keeping an eye on their daughter, both noticeably relieved to see Sophia with Ahsoka and Ahsoka nodded knowingly to both.


    Sophia, turning about to search for her friend Han, found him remaining where he stood next to the Empress and she gave a small jump and beckoned to him enthusiastically. The young man sported a few hefty purpling bruises from his misadventure and his sandy hair slightly fallen to cover his brow, he looked like he must feel like a bantha in a ballet of Egrets. It seemed Celeste was giving Han words of encouragement, leaning into him, her hand on his shoulder. Yet, just as Ahsoka made out the movement of the Empress’ lips as she spoke to him, “...we shall be leaving presently. It’s rather stuffy in here, so much preening and glad handing. Just a few moments longer...” a shadow fell over her and Sophia. A drab-dressed person blocked her view and Ahsoka’s gaze traveled upward.

    ***.

    Anakin had paid close attention to the juxtaposition of all the actors in this tight and crowded “theatre”. The congregation of “players” presented a veritable baradium bisulfate “Baby” of a situation, particularly as concerned Tarkin and Ahsoka. Their paths nearly crossed and he reminded himself not to hold his breath. Relieved that no incident had evolved and Tarkin was leaving, wary still, Anakin nodded to this potentate and that, eager as Sophia tugged Ahsoka through the crowds, to keep things simple and without stirring up the “hive.”. He was about to smile at accomplishing just that when his eyes widened. Tarkin!

    ***

    “How heartwarming this little reunion must be. I often wondered about Jedi Tano! Lucky for you, your Master had his grand epiphany before you turned up. Lord Vader did not share the warmest regard for your brethren - Oh, save Master Vos, of course. Perhaps you’ve been waiting in the wings for a while? Interesting. I look forward to a little conversation this evening.” Tarkin stood to the side of the Togruta. Then he spared a cold and calculating glance down at Sophia, once again observing her as if he were looking at a the key to a puzzle. “Charming. “ He returned that cold gaze once more to Ahsoka, “Until later...” he said smiling thinly.

    “It’s… nice to be thought of... Thank you.” Ahsoka smiled as she cringed inside and felt her heart pounding. She had thought she had lasted without an encounter and it took her off guard. She could not tell if her voice was even. Little conversation? What did they have to talk about? How much he wanted her head removed and mounted on a wall? She stopped the multiple trains of thought that raced through her mind. “Until...” She gave a subtle bow of her head.

    He had already traveled on and simply raised his hand in a slight dismissive wave, his back to Ahsoka, the crowd closing in behind him, and at his heels, Motti pushed his way after him.

    Ahsoka stared at them for a moment until she couldn’t differentiate them from amongst the sea of people. Her heart still pounded but slowly calming as she forced herself to smile and respond to some of the greetings sent her way. She had hoped she would see a familiar face or an old friend, but the faces of the senators and representatives she could see were strangers to her. Was she alone? A relic of a bygone era?

    So many beings! All jockeying for a position of favor. Was it ‘business as usual’, she wondered. The crowd had closed about them once more, though Ahsoka felt the weight of many minds and the gaze of many eyes, particularly those of Sophia whom she found studying her curiously.

    There was another movement in the crowd as the press corps surged into the corridor, having located the Emperor, and Ahsoka rose. She needed to return Sophia to Anakin and Celeste and suddenly realised, she could feel Anakin’s presence clearly now, almost as if a light had been switched on in a dark room.

    “Yes, of course, Senator. We welcome your input, in fact we depend upon it.” A large amorphous being stood and blocked view of the speaker, but the speaker’s voice would be more than familiar to Ahsoka and Sophia, having felt the underlying unease in the speaker’s voice, craned her neck to see around the Senator with whom the speaker spoke. The corpulent Senator moved onward, or rather, found he had to give way to a line of more ambitious “seekers” than himself and as he did so the speaker stepped forward slowly parting the throng to reach down to Sophia, and saving the other hand, his right, for Ahsoka.

    Taking Anakin’s warm hand, the skin so smooth and soft to touch when subconsciously she had expected a gloved hand with a mechanical grip. She squeezed softly and took comfort from that.

    “You’re like a magnet, Soka,” he said for her ears only, “I’m touched you learned so well from your master!” He smiled wryly. “Ready to make an exit?”

    Ahsoka’s spirits lifted at his words. She nodded a greeting to someone and then turned her head back to Anakin. “Thought you would never ask,” a bit of that familiar playfulness returning. “Exit stage left.”

    “...And in four hours, we do this all over again in…,” said Celeste, one arm supportively around Han’s shoulders, her buttery silken skirts “whispering” as she glided up to the trio. “We should hurry, I’m sure you agree,” she added, feeling protective of the small coterie and catching a nod from Quinlan Vos. The crowds were hemming in and it felt claustrophobic.

    “Won’t it be exciting,” exclaimed Sophia, with an open smile, her eyes filled with glee and grasping Han’s hand enthusiastically only to release it just as quickly. Oh! She winced in sympathy, then softly patted, absently extending a subtle healing Force.


    TAG: Han Solo, Open to those inclined.
    Last edited by Corellian_Outrider, Jul 25, 2016
  24. TheAdmiral Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2004
    star 4
    IC: agent Genevieve Lehnsherr
    Kala City, Kaladan

    A lone military grade shuttle was approaching Kaladan. Due to the Outsider’s blockade all civilian traffic was grounded or redirected to the orbital stations until further notice. The pilots had to transmit their clearance to several layers of defenses so that they can be allowed to land. The trip between Tyran and Kaladan was relatively short and uneventful. Genevieve was moderately interested in seeing the large battleships that were orbiting Kaladan, it was a rare sight to pass so close to them, so big and majestic. All ready for battle but she did not envy the crew though, the anticipation would be hard to bear. There were fighters streaming around the big vessels. There were even some strategic bombers coming from the surface, most likely carrying Harpoon-class missiles for Anti-ship Warfare.

    She could hear the pilot talking to someone, possibly ground control, followed by a beep on the vessel’s computer as they received their approach vector and landing permit. The CSS credentials opened many doors in the Union and curfew or not. The viewport was dimmed as the shuttle started its descent as the light from the entry could be very bright for the eyes. The shuttle started shaking a bit as it entered the atmosphere. The view outside got a bit more brighter even through the dimmed viewport. There was no immediate danger for her as the shields protected the vessel, but there was a statistical possibility.

    Genevieve was not afraid from spacetravel, she was just unaccustomed to it. After all her job in the CSS was related more to sitting behind a desk and going through large amount of data and to make conclusions and see the underlying connections. One week ago she was approached by her supervisor that she was going to be reassigned. This bothered her, as this could either mean fieldwork or she was being demoted. She was not sure which of those two prospects scared her more. She was briefed about this cabal called the Enlightened, which sounded quite ridiculous and considered it to be a test of sorts. Her surprise was big when she learned that they were quite real and not just a boogeyman which is being used for everything that happens in the Union.

    Genevieve was not entirely convinced that this mission was not a test. It was too wacky, to say the least. But if it came from so high up in the CSS hierarchy there must be some grain of truth to this. Another question was why she was chosen, since there were enough field agents who are competent enough to do this. There were far too many questions than answers and that unnerved her. Genevieve liked to have enough information so that she can make the proper analysis then to move it forward to her supervisor for approval and so on. Now she was thrown in “the real world”, where hardly anything was that clear and orderly and the prospect of making a mistake horrified her.

    The bright glow and the shaking from the atmospheric entry subsided. She could see blue sky and some vapor forming on the viewport. Beneath her was a steel-colored cloud cover. She remembered that it was the cold season on Kaladan and unlike most of the Union planets the weather was not artificially controlled as they liked to keep things “natural”. The droplets on the viewport were racing. Suddenly everything became foggy and grey as they entered the cloud cover. There was some mild shaking due to turbulence but the pilot managed to compensate. They descended even further and she could see they were flying over the dark waters of the ocean. The shuttle started to shake again, this time from the air currents. The waters seemed restless, there were flurries of snow sticking to the viewport. In the distance she could see Kala City and its skyscrapers along with the towering Castle Kaladan to the side of the city.

    The shuttle received confirmation for landing at one of the smaller spaceports near the coast. It was regularly used for smaller crafts. The guiding lights showed where the shuttle should land. The craft started slowing down and descending. The shaking increased as there was still strong winds. The vessel landed on its designated place. Genevieve unbuckled her seatbelt and stood up. Even though it was not necessary to keep it fastened during the flight, she did not care for going around the empty craft. This was a mistake as she found out. Her muscles and joints ached from the long sitting.

    She put the documents back in the briefcase that she was given. It was to be given to the pilot to return it back on Tyran. The case was code-locked and tamper proof. If someone tried to open it and did not succeed it will destroy the contents automatically. But since she was to leave it in the hands of the pilot, he was trusted enough to handle sensitive material. Probably he was entrusted to fly for black ops, usually they were the ones that had bigger clearance compared to their more regular colleagues.

    Genevieve went to pick up her black long-coat. Hopefully it would protect her enough as the cold season on Kaladan could be very harsh. She was wearing only a black suit and a tie, rather thin black pants and a white shirt. Somewhere in her luggage she had enough sense to pack warmer clothes as she was to stay on Kaladan until the mission was over. Which means probably a year or two. This prospect horrified her as she was a creature of habit and it would take some time to get used to this unfamiliar situation. There was also something else that bothered her and that was why her superiors sent her and not some more experienced agent in the first place? Or maybe they did and she and her future team were just the bait to draw out the attention of the opposition.
    There was something odd about her team - the two investigators Cyrus Teg and his partner that worried her. There was enough controversies surrounding them, as well as their success rate, the awards and medals notwithstanding. There were certain things on their files that worried her. All in all she had doubts regarding this mission. But there was nothing she could do about that. Orders are orders…

    She put the coat and fetched the warm gloves from the left pocket. Genevieve did not carry a scarf so she had to put up the coat’s collar to protect her neck. She approached the hatch and it hissed open as the pilot gave the command from the cockpit.

    Genevieve raced back to her seat as she forgot to give the case to the pilot. She moved forward to the man and handed the “package”, as some agents liked to say, to him with an embarrassed smile. Luckily he seemed in good mood and grinned at her as she blushed. They wished each other good day and she left the shuttle.

    The air outside was freezing. The open field of the spaceport was close to the ocean, thus there was a strong wind current and a more humid air. She wondered whether it was a good idea to build a spaceport where the strong gusts could knock a ship off-course. Though the vehicles could easily compensate for it. Genevieve shrugged mentally, there was no point of pondering about another planet’s infrastructure. People who understood these things decided to make the landing strip there and she could not do anything about it.

    A formally dressed man was standing close by. He too was wearing the characteristical for the CSS attire - black suit, white shirt, black pants, leather shoes and a long coat. A headphone was protruding from his left ear, she could see the cable hanging. He approached and shook hands with Genevieve.

    “I am agent Stoy’nof, good to see you agent Lehnsherr, and welcome to Kaladan.” he managed to smile “I am to be your driver and liaison.”

    Genevieve managed to smile in response and stifled a shudder from the cold.

    “Hello, good to be here…”

    She wondered what the man knew about her mission, so she decided to keep her mouth shut as to avoid any complications. The whole situation made her feel awkward. She nodded to her fellow agent and followed him towards a black speeder parked nearby. The spaceport authorities allowed for some speeders to come close to the landing area. In the end no one can say “No” to the CSS. She sat behind the driver’s seat the interior was not luxurious, but was comfortable enough. The heating was on, so she removed the coat and laid it next to her. Agent Stoy’nof put her luggage in the trunk of the vehicle. She didn’t pack a lot of stuff as she was not on holiday, besides if she needed anything her boyfriend or her parents could mail it to her or she could just buy it.

    Her colleague sat behind the controls and started the engine. The speeder moved towards the checkpoint. He just casually showed his CSS badge to the guard. The man visually stiffened and allowed them to go.

    There was not much traffic ahead due to the curfew. The speeder broadcasted to the police and military frequencies orders not to be stopped or delayed by anyone. For them, there was no curfew.

    The spaceport was a short distance from the city and the road passed along the coastline. Unfortunately hotels and villas hid the beautiful vista of the ocean. Due to the fact that it was the cold season most of the buildings seemed empty and there were hardly any people walking around. All in all it was looking rather miserable, in contrast to the ski resorts. During the summer it would be bustling with life, Kaladan was famous for its sea resorts after all and people from all over the Union, and even from some of the outsider worlds, were coming.

    Military transport craft were flying above them as they were going to secure the spaceport. All critical infrastructure must be protected if the outsiders were to attack. Genevieve doubted this would happen, but it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared this time. The speeder entered an open area between Kala City and the resort. There were military ground vehicles ruining the carefully maintained lawn. She could see air defense installations being set up and personnel moving around. Hopefully everything would blow off and go back to normal.

    Her mission worried her more and its implications. It seems that the conspiracy nuts were right, at least in part. There was a cabal of powerful people that directed the Union behind the scenes after all. She hoped that it won’t be true, that she was to chase a myth. But given all the seriousness that surrounded the case it was highly unlikely. But first she was to meet the team. At that point this worried her more…

    To be continued
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