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Qessax Jal Todda

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  1. Inside the Grand Hall, the little astromech beeped a few more times at the technician working. “I know, I know! Just stop activating your…” The astromech beeped again and shook violently. “I literally just said to stop…” A bolt came loose. The holoprojector activated, sending the technician backwards onto his rear. Before him, the life-sized holographic image of the Kaleesh Warhunter came to life, looking down at him. “I was expecting someone of higher rank” Qessax glared from behind his mask at the technician. “Uh, sorry sir!” The technician stammered as he got into a salute for his former spymaster. “Our astromech was suffering difficulties. We thought it would be more time before you would broadcast” Qessax waved the excuse away, still glaring slightly. “It seems my leaving the Alliance had more of an effect than I initially thought.” “No sir! Um, I mean yes sir, but um…” the technician stammered on a bit more. Under Qessax’s gaze, he recomposed himself. “Sir, the Emperor will be here shortly as well as the Sovereign Knights. We contacted you because as previous spymaster and representative of Kalee, you have insights and opinions people value” Qessax sighed. The little blurb the technician gave was clearly rehearsed. The one thing to fall back on in his moment of unpreparedness. “I understand. Dismissed” As the technician scampered away, Qessax looked around. Using holo transmitters was always a novel experience in his opinion. While most of his species viewed the technology with an eye of suspicion, Qessax himself enjoyed it. The droid could only reveal what it chose to reveal, and the parameters couldn’t be easily altered subtly mid-call. As a previous spymaster, Qessax had many trainings finding loopholes in such transmissions to get the maximum amount of data possible. Still, Qessax couldn’t help but adjust his cape, showing the few Imperial badges he kept on his shoulder. He was an outsider here, but he wasn’t going to let anyone forget that he, and all of Kalee, were part of the Alliance. And if the newly appointed Emperor took notice of the Warhunter, all the better. Still, he hoped he could hurry this along if possible. Every second not overseeing the Great Western Sea reconstruction made him nervous.
  2. “Making touchdown in 10…9…8…” As the GR-75 began to touch down on the limited area of stable ground, Warhunter Qessax remained still. Even as the winds from the ship’s engines blew all the dust nearby away, Qessax remained stoic. He smirked under his mask slightly as the other Kaleesh nearby braced themselves from the dust going into their eyes. True, Qessax would love to do the same, but he knew he had to keep up an image for his men in order to keep their respect. “...and we have landed. Everything looks stable.” The comm at the Warhunter’s side continued. “Agreed. Start the unloading process for the security equipment and supplies first. And get those hunters out as well. I want the ship more secure than a Mumuu pitt” The acknowledgement from the pilot made Qessax feel slightly better about the situation. The one non-Kaleesh on the ship was an ex-imperial officer, and one who understood the importance of procedure. Many Kaleesh back home were still coming to grips with how things needed to run. In their lifetime, they had seen their planet become more and more industrialized every day, and those who weren’t adjusting well needing a guiding hand occasionally. Qessax was fortunate enough to find his old colleague to help out on this mission. Despite not being an imperial any longer, Qessax was determined to carry out this mission like a seasoned spymaster. The transport ship began to open up. Numerous droids and Kaleesh workers exited and began to unload the cargo. However, one figure broke away from the croud. A hunched over woman, dressed in animal furs, bone necklaces and a very elaborate mask, was hobbling with her walking stick directly towards Qessax. Qessax smiled and rushed forward, kneeling before the shaman woman. “It is a great reassurance to have the spirits with us, wise one” The woman made a chuckle under her mask and flicked the backside of Qessax’s exposed ears, a sign of love from an elder. “Like you really mean that little one. Come on, give auntie a proper greeting, i’ve had enough of people groveling for my approval” Qessax laughed as he stood. Nephew and aunt braced for a few moments, sharing a moment of warmth between the two. “It’s been a long time my little Tokin Crab” Auntie chuckled as she looked up at Qessax. She reached out and began to feel the skins decorating the Warhunter’s sides. “I smell approval from your father. It’s well earned” Qessax almost blushed under his mask. Despite being an adult, the fact that his aunt still called him that childhood nickname always had the effect. The benefits of family he supposed. “If you say so auntie.” “I do say so! After all, I speak with the weight of our ancestors!” the elder Shaman laughed as she began to hobble away from the shuttle. “ What are you doing here? I wasn’t told there would be any advisors coming to this mission.” “Technically i’m not here. Your father still thinks I’m near the Jaruda's lands, trying to convince the tribes their to send their males to the capital. But I knew my words wouldn’t change their minds yet. They’re still sore from losing their leader. So I’m giving them time to mourn before I go back.” Auntie stopped, panting slightly from her movements. Qessax quickly took off his cape and laid it on the ground before helping the elder to a sitting position, facing the waters before the two. Afterwards, Qessax sat cross-legged next to her on the moist ground. “But if your father asks, I was with your mother, alright? Your ancestors will understand.” She commented with a wink from under her mask. Qessax laughed again. Despite all the time away from the old woman, he still couldn’t believe she was the way she was. His mind flashed back to his youngling days, when auntie was instructing Qessax on the stories of his ancestors and deities and all of their mythical feats. Next to his own father and Kolchak, auntie was probably the most influential person in his life. Auntie reached into a pouch at her side and produced a few hard shelled bugs. While popping them into her mouth one by one, crunching each one between her teeth, he gestured towards the large body of water before her. “Little Tokin Crab, what is that?” “The Great Western Sea auntie.” Auntie wrinkled her nose as she popped another bug. “Doesn’t look that great to me…” Qessax had to agree. The once mighty and massive reservoir had become greatly damaged by the fall of Hesperium. During the crash that shook the planet, most of the infrastructure became damaged and at risk. The battle with the Mandalorians only escalated the damage, for one large battle cruiser had plummeted through the atmosphere into the Ocean. The tidal waves created by the ship flooded entire districts of coruscant. And the radioactive waste from the ship was still active in the waters, killing all the aquatic life inside. Still, in Qessax’s mind, he also saw something else. He could almost see the Jenuwa sea back home. “No, auntie, it isn’t that great anymore. But it will be again Auntie. But it will be. Once we’ve secured an area, we will begin building temporary factories to begin fixing the structures nearby, so the nearby communities won’t get flooded anymore. Then we can get to work on some of the housing and get the communities better adjusting to fixing the planet themselves. After that, we will assist the alliance with purifying the waters again, and then the… ” “Yes yes, you and the Alliance are going to fix the land and all that, good for you…” Auntie interrupted, waving her hand. “I’m sure this will make Kalee look more favorable for the galaxy or whatever. But tell me little Tokin, what about the dead?” Qessax paused and looked at the elderly shaman. “The people here have different beliefs than us. You know that” “So? Doesn’t mean that their ancestors are resting easy. If Kalee was wiped out, do you think the dead would rest?” “Well no but…” "But what?” Qessax shrugged. “If it was Kalee, the survivors would declare an unending war against the madmen who did it. These people are… Krrthalk” Qessax said in pure Kaleesh, unable to find a word that meant both non-native Kaleesh and unfaithful. “They do not have rights for their dead. Their ancestors are not our concern.” Auntie tsk tsked several times at this line of thought. “Your ancestors are back home on Kalee little Tokin Crab. It might be good to make the ancestors here happy with you here. Qessax sighed at his aunt's words. Before he could answer however, a new voice interrupted the conversation. “Sir?” Qessax and Auntie turned to a Kaleesh hunter, no older than a boy. “What is it?” “I’ve been told we are being hailed by the Alliance. They want to speak with you directly.” Qessax nodded and stood up. Auntie stood up as well and handed the cloak back to the Warhunter. “Go ahead without me little Tokin. I’m going to stay here for a little while. “ Qessax nodded, hugged the woman one more time and turned back towards his command base. Once inside on of the tents he gestured to his personal astromech droid. Secretary, always ready, beeped a few times and began the holo transmission before the Warhunter. Technically, this was one of the first times Qessax addressed anyone from the Alliance as just a representative of Kalee and not an Imperial soldier.
  3. Qessax glared. The voice of his ancestors spoke different ideas, but the same direction. Some said to kill the lizard where he stood, some said to play it smart. None of them told him to back down. And one voice, much more human than the rest, gave Qessax the courage to say what was needed. “Do not use that word” Qessax stated very sternly, loathing the word friend. “And do not make promises you have a choice in keeping. We both know that it was our bargain that put you in this position of power. And as much as you hate it, my wife was right. Kalee is too profitable for you to lose.” “I will not disgrace my ancestors nor Kolchak’s name by standing down. I am Kalee, but more importantly, a servant of the alliance. I am a patriot. And I believe that the only way the alliance will last is with a leader who is untainted by the traits of our enemies.” Qessax then turned and began to leave. “I will share no secrets that will endanger the alliance. A patriot does not do that. But I will share secrets that will endanger your career, for the protection of the alliance. That is what a patriot does. Whether the Khanate sees this as enough to kick Bespin’s factories off is up to him, but that does not matter. “You will have until I get back to Kalee in two days to step down. Until then, I will be keeping an eye out for any potential mining accidents. ” Qessax clicked his heels but did not salute. Instead he turned and left Vangar to his own thoughts. The entire walk back to his quarters, Qessax was almost growling. He wasn’t sure who he was more mad at. Vangar or himself. Qessax had acted too hastily in deciding the Barbel would be fit in helping decide the alliance’s fate. He had not dug into the details as his teacher and academy trainers had taught him. And now, the alliance would most likely suffer. When he arrived at his quarters, he was shocked to see everything was already packed away and both of his wives were already prepared to leave, weapons in hand. “But…how?” Qessax began to blubber. Bolda shrugged. "After that dinner party, we figured we would be going back to Kalee. Though the question is are you coming with us or not?" Qessax nodded. “Yes, it seems I'm not fit for this place right now. Hurry it up, I know of a few private ships that i can utilize without question. I want us to leave tonight back to Kalee. My secretary, if she is worth her programming, has already made copies of the conversation and will have them delivered to me” At this, Qessax donned his mask. As stated by Vangar, he was no longer an Imperial, and as a Kaleesh, he would wear his mask with pride The two nodded, and Lor took point in leaving the building. True to form, she was not going to let Qessax be put into any danger tonight, and made sure that wherever the group walked, Qessax would be protected.. Bolda stayed a few steps behind, rifle at the ready, ready for anything. After all, Qessax had told the leader of the Alliance to his face his intentions if Vangar refused to step down. There was no telling what he may do, consequences be damned. Tonight, they were potentially in danger until they were off world.
  4. Qessax sighed to himself. He had all the information he needed. Unfortunately, it was information that was not pleasing in the slightest. Information that could turn the conversation violent if cool heads were not kept. Qessax nonchalantly reached into his pockets, as if he was disappointed with what he had heard. However, in actuality he was reaching into his pocket to his handheld hole transmitter, connected to his secretary droid. These next words needed to be recorded. “Considering what I have heard here, I am no longer confident in my choice in helping support you as leader of the republic. Your ideals reflect too much of the enemy we faced, and not of what the spirit of the Republic should be. Nor can a person have a checkered past behind them while hoping to lead such an organization. Such histories will lead to trouble that will lead to the destruction of something as grand as the Alliance. “As such, Vanguard, I must formally request you to step down from your position. Since the details are not public, and now that the Sith forces are more or less taken care of, there would be no dishonor to you, nor would there be questioning as to why such an action is taken. If you step down, you would be able to return to your duties at Bespin, and continue your life as you see fit. “ Qessax then waited for Vangar’s response. Silently, he prayed to his ancestors to help Vangar see reason. But one voice, the voice of Qymaen jai Sheelal he believed, voiced that his sword arm better be ready, and not just his literal one.
  5. Qessax gave a glare at the, perhaps unintended, insult. He had half a mind to comment that Kalee was no picnic either, but he had to focus. If anything, his heart was quickening. He was a hunter at the muumuu’s breeding ground. A careless move could spell danger. “Are you stating that your clan has been exiled from Barab?” Qessax asked, wanting to make sure he understood correctly. “And do you think that a galaxy could work with such methods?” Qessax questioned. “You may prefer loyalty, and perhaps your methods do inspire that, but from what ive learned from Kolchak, loyalty must come from either fear or patriotism. My people, they are patriots of Kalee, even the terrorists. As wrong as they are, they are fighting for what they believe is necessary. Your clan, are they patriots of your clan? Or are they just afraid? And now that you aren’t there supervising your wing guard, will that fear stay? Can they stay effective without the thing they fear? As faulty as patriotism can be, it lasts longer in a vacuum” “Tell me Vangar, do you think an alliance can survive when its head has no respect for its hands? That it would chop off its feet because it didn’t function as the head demanded?”
  6. As Qessax listened, an old Kaleesh phrase popped into his mind. ‘Do not start if afraid, once begun, do not become afraid’. It was one of his favorites his father had taught him before he left to train under Kolchak and the imperial army. Qessax had followed that when he began the dinner, and had followed it through to this point. However, as Vangar gave the impression of a confrontation, Qessax couldn’t help but feel his flammable stomach grow taught momentarily. Still, he would continue on. “My assets have been nearly completely extinguished in trying to find the Empress. And each one points to the fact that she is missing and not proclaimed dead by anyone, us or Sith. It is still my belief to act as if she is dead until proven otherwise. That said…” Qessax looked at Vangar. “What private investigations I have done into you have brought up interesting information. I did not tell my wives, but their questions about your familial ties served me well, and their loyalty to me is more valuable than their patriotism towards Kalee. Dinner was not meant to be an ambush, only a quiet investigation. A way to determine if my loyalty was well placed. And if you want to keep my loyalty more than my patriotism, then you will answer my questions.” Qessax kept his distance from Vangar. Partly as a sign of respect and not getting into Vangar’s personal space, but also as part of his imperial training. If Vangar wanted to become violent, like so many individuals did when interrogated, then Qessax could draw his sword in time to hold back the Barbel. If worse came to be, he could run back for his quarters. “Your clan-mates have suffered much. In Kalee culture, the loss of a single family member is tremendous. So I can only imagine how much pain you were in when your clan-mates perished one after another.” “But for a Baron who was so focused on safety and order, the fact that all of your clan-mates dying from ‘mining accidents’ paints an odd picture, especially when the Longfang did such minimal, and I think, poor, investigation. So, Vangar, answer me, why did your clan-mates die, and why did you cover them up?”
  7. Qessax stood up quickly and began to follow Vangar, not before stopping and giving a glare at his wives, specifically Lor. He gave a grunt in his native tongue, roughly translating to clean up, before he gave pursuit, grabbing only his mask and sword along the way. Catching up was easy, not wearing his shoes at the moment. He strode alongside Vangar. “I can assure you that will not happen again.” Qessax started. He wasn’t going to apologize, knowing that such a thing was usually not the way of reptilian species like himself and Vangar. “For someone who’s culture has been upended and changing radically, it's easy to see things in certain lights. Even one of her less-liked siblings sided with those terrorists that hijacked several ships.” Qessax continued on. “I will point out sir that she does have a point. Many individuals may see you as more of a company man than a true patriot. You know where my allegiance lies, and I know where yours does. I’m sure many of your clan-mates can attest on your behalf, but there may be a time to publicly separate yourself from the more businessarial side of things”
  8. Qessax said nothing at Vangar’s visible annoyance, though his instincts almost made him stand up. Only the years of Imperial training and living among the more civilized races stopped him and forced him to remain watchful. He was in the hunting and pursuing state of mind, usually reserved for wild animals but now trained for more deadly kinds of foes. He was witnessing his Regent’s growing anger, and the cause of it. However, Lor was no so easy and when Vangar leaned forward, she gripped her claws into the table and almost snarled back. “You ended a war? Heh, with Kaleesh soldiers alongside if i remember right. 14 of my brothers joined my ancestors at Nar Shaddaa, and many more of my cousins. How many of your superiors’ work do you take credit for as well? “Sister, maybe we should…” Bolda started to interject, but Lor continued “And for the betterment of my world, did you do these things for the betterment of Kalee, or because it made a nice profit for the mining guild? I heard a captured poacher tell us ‘war is good for business, but peace is good for business too.’ While my father-in-law might trust you, I have to wonder: When the factories on Kalee start to become unprofitable, will you leave it abandoned like the Empire left so many worlds before? Will your employers of profit tell you to pull out when it's not helpful?” Qessax raised an eyebrow at this. He hadn’t realized that Lor was working from the assumption that the factories on Kalee were because of some trade deal. He glanced back at Vangar, curious on how he would react. Was he clever enough and cool headed enough to realize the point of view Lor was working from? Would he spill the noodles on the fact that he was regent thanks to the help of Qessax’s dealings? Either way, he would control his wife later, but he wanted to see how this played out, so he gestured to Bolda to stand down. “If they must wrestle it out later to establish who needs to apologize, then we will let them.” Qesax muttered to her
  9. “Do you ever think of returning?” Bolda asked in reply, raising an eyebrow behind her mask. “Back to the home of your ancestors?” Qessax raised his head at this question as he dipped his fingers and grabbed a block of cheese, feigning interest, as if the previous question was less important than this one. It was an easy question to feign interest in. Anyone who knew an ounce of Kaleesh culture knew that ancestry was everything. To be buried where your ancestors were buried was more important than all the credits in the galaxy. Still, he kept silent, even as he broke the cheese into two in his hands and began chewing, feeling the odd texture in his mouth. “You said you still serve…” Lor pointed out once the Barbel responded to Bolda’s question. “As in the people of Bespin? Or the people of the Alliance? Do your employers at Bespin enjoy your newly appointed position?” Qessax grunted at Lor, indicating for her to ease up. She was plain and bold, good traits for a bodyguard. Lor however pretended not to notice and awaited Vangar’s response.
  10. The setting for the dinner was made as traditionally Kaleesh as Qessax could muster. While most of the room’s entrapings were imperial, including the table, chairs and paintings on the walls, Qessax was able to decorate the room slightly. His fur cape from home had been laid over the center of the table, a traditional compliment to the guest, while his wives’ capes were over the back of his own chair. Several necklaces ringed with small bones dangled off the table in a purely aesthetic sense. Various bowls had been laid on the table, filled with milk, leaf and salt blends, cheeses and breads bought locally, or a small amount of an aromatic tobacco-like substance. Plates had been set out for the four of them, but no silverware was to be seen. Three cups were near each plate, one empty, one with a light alcoholic drink and the other filled with water for some unknown purpose. Qessax greeted Vangar with a slight smile like an old friend. While he still wore his imperial uniform, expected to work at any time, here he kept his uncomfortable boots off and tucked near the doorway. Mask still at his side, he actually looked slightly out of place with his wives who both wore masks and more traditional Kaleesh clothing. “I believed you would appreciate something from my homeworld,” Qessax explained as he gestured to the chair for Vangar to sit, explaining the decorations. “As it is, this is both a celebration of the alliance as well as a personal one for myself.” Qessax took an opposing seat to Vangar while Lor and Bolda went back to a private room where the food was cooking, allowing the two to talk privately. “Part of the deal I made with my father to get Kaleesh forces at Nar Shaddaa was offering my marriage exclusively.” Qessax explained as he took a small pinch from the snuff-bowl before him to inhale, demonstrating its use. “In exchange for their service, I can only take wives from the Qogoth tribe, a small but fierce group of individuals. And since Nar Shaddaa, my father has seen to it to showing that the deal was not made in poor spirit. Those two are as you can guess, from the Qogoth tribe. The older, taller one is Lor and the younger one is Bolda. Both warriors in their own right.” After taking a sniff, Qessax rubbed his nose slightly before taking a sip of water. “I honestly should’ve been expecting these marriages , but honestly I was surprised it happened so soon. Goes to show you never know what the galaxy will throw at you” At this point, Lor and Bolda returned with the meal. Bolda, being the youngest, came in first, carrying plates of Dacho noodles, a well-made substitute for the various kinds of non-meat dishes served on Kalee, enhanced with several Kalee native spices. The noodles steamed slightly as they were placed on the table before the two. Following Bolda, Lor entered carrying the prize of the meal: Shoni fish. Easily three and a half meters long, the grilled swordfish sizzled with oils from being soaked in the spicy juices from home. A male, its short, pointed bill dripped with juices that leaked from its 5 black eyes as its rich red coat almost shimmered in the light. Qessax salivated slightly at the sight and smell. “Shoni fish is becoming a rarer delicacy sir” Qessax explained as the fish was placed at the center of the table. “Despite my father’s best efforts, my people see it as a right to hunt down the Shoni for both food and for the right of passage of hunting down a Muumuu. The fact that there are only three different sea-creatures edible on Kalee makes it more difficult to prevent hunting. This is one of the few times you will taste Shoni off world.” Lor placed the fish at the center and slowly but surely, began her work. Taking a bone knife from her hip, she carefully sliced off large steaks of meat and placed them on two plates. Once a suitable amount of meat was on one, Bolda took the plate and moved to Vangar, placing a large amount on the plate before him, almost to the point of overfilling the plate. “Back on Kalee, the women dictate how much the men are allowed to eat.” Qessax explained. “If the husband has treated his wives right, they will reward him. If he has mistreated them, he may not eat till the next day. The men may be masters of the hunt, but the women are leaders of the house. More than once I saw my father go without a meal because of an ill-placed comment.” Once the Shoni was carved and served, eating was allowed. With no silverware, Qessax showed that it was custom to eat with hand and claw. When he needed to clean his hands, he would simply dip his fingers into the cup with water. More than once he cooled his tongue with the milk and salt mix. Lor and Bolda sat opposing each other, at the center of the elongated table, closer to the Shoni. If anyone needed more, they were able to offer it, while eating whatever they desired. Unlike Qessax, they kept their masks on, slipping the meat underneath while glancing at both Vangar and their husband. “I hope you do not mind us being here Regent” Lor commented as she ate a handful of noodles. “If matters become of secretive, state-importance we can leave, but I insist on staying for everything else. As both wife and bodyguard, I have certain duties. Your kind, they have strong familial ties if I remember correctly, so I'm sure you understand." "Regent, I must ask" Bolda interjected, leaning a bit closer towards Vangar in curiosity "Did you have to leave your family on Barab?" Qessax made no sign that he noticed the question, when in truth he was listening intently. For him, this dinner was a test of two things: his wives’ abilities as warriors on the both fields of battle and intrigue, as well as Vangar’s character. He had already gotten a sense of Lor and Bolda's characters. One was blunt and straightforward, while the other was eager but abrupt. It would be an interesting meal to say the least.
  11. The work Qessax endured on Empress Teta was busy to say the least. Coordinating, assigning, judging and analyzing, not to say including those of what duties remained of Imperial Intelligence. All the entire time with now his two wives as bodyguards looming over his shoulders. They performed their duties rightfully so. They were silent and restrained, though more than once Qessax saw Lor’s hands go for her blades. Still, she restrained herself each time. To say the least, Qessax actually preferred Imperial Intelligence over the more paper-pushing and coordinating efforts. Everything here on Empress Teta was so by the books and formulaic. It wasn’t that the Kaleesh couldn’t perform these tasks, far from it. His training in Intelligence required him to be able to follow procedure. It was just boring. At least with matters of Imperial Intelligence, there was the feel of a hunt. There was intuition and approximation. There was gathering and sifting. There was the unknown, pushing the boundaries and looming threateningly. Still, Qessax continued his work thoroughly. If it wasn’t for his secretary droid, he would have been hopelessly lost with much of the minutia. The R-8 was customized from the ground up to be able to handle vast amounts of data, more than what the standard droid could handle, as well as being able to perform long-range communications. Everything that went through the droid was recorded, encrypted and stored on data chips, leaving a clean trail for those in the know, but impossibly convoluted for anyone else. It was because of ‘secretary’ that Qessax felt a pinch in his stomach. At some point during his work, Qessax had an idea of summoning the crown Regent’s clan mates to Empress Teta for a sort of private, closed from the public celebration. During all the chaos lately, he knew that Vangar hadn’t had a chance to actually celebrate his new position, and like many reptoid species, clan-mates were important for such a thing. It was in his requests to Secretary that Qessax discovered that almost all of Vangar’s clan-mates were deceased. The first two didn’t surprise Qessax. Mining accidents were common after all. But after the sixth one confirmed to be dead via imperial records, Qessax raised more than an eyebrow. Perhaps he should have let it be right there. He had enough tasks on hand to be concerned about Vangar’s dead siblings. But this task felt less boring than the rest. It felt like something was off. Like something needed to be sniffed out. No, Qessax couldn’t stop himself. He delegated certain tasks to other people beneath him to make room. While his wives didn’t complain, he knew they disapproved of his action when he had to cancel a holo-meeting with his father. Digging deeper, Qessax found some more details. His rank carried weight, and people he contacted within Bespin’s local government recognised it and gave the information willingly. The details he found did not make Qessax feel better. Each clan mate that died, according to official reports, occurred after Vangar was thrust into the position of Baron Administrator. At first, Qessax reasoned that with Vangar’s new position, mining regulations temporarily became lax. But the records showed that Vangar was notorious for making sure safety regulations were followed. No, there was more to this than met the eye. More digging. More investigation. More doubt. The interviews became more difficult over holo-feed, but Qessax persevered like a seasoned spymaster. People were hiding details. Cover-ups were being done. The clan-mates who did not work for the government directly were the most difficult, their bosses claiming that they knew nothing. The ones who did work in the government had some of their records the weeks following their deaths missing. Someone was hiding something. The final detail, and the smoking gun as the humans would call it, came in the form of casino-host turned manager. The manager claimed that while he was a host, his friend, one of Vangar’s clan mates, had received a gift of an all expense paid trip to their homeworld of Barbel. His friend was excited to see his home again, especially after the deaths of his other clan-mates, and hoped to bring back a mate of his own. However, when the host became manager, he discovered that Vangar had bribed the previous manager to let Vangar’s clan mate go on the trip. Sure enough, Qessax confirmed that the ship taken to Barbel exploded due to a leak of Tibanna gasses, despite proper procedure of the gas being sealed in carbonite. Had this been the first death by ‘mining accident’ Qessax would have brushed it off. But this was the sixth dead clan-mate, and Vangar, with all of his power as Baron Administrator, did not bother with any form of investigation, at least not according to records. Qessax pondered over all this. At the very least, Vangar had covered up vital information. He was certain that if he went to Bespin itself and performed more intensive interrogations, he would find that the missing records were expunged on Vangar’s behalf. But at the very worst, Vangar ordered the deaths. Spirits above, with his experience and Barabel drive as a hunter, he may have killed them himself. Qessax had no idea why Vangar covered the information up. What reason Vangar could have was beyond the Kaleesh at the moment. It could range from paranoia over his new job to fighting between his clan-mates inflamed by new positions of power to some discovery that needed to remain secret. Even if he didn’t cause the deaths, was he then ordered by someone else to cover the information up? Did that criminal organization of Black Sun have its tendrils on Bespin and on Vangar? Qessax pondered more and more. He couldn’t help but wonder if Kolchak knew about this. Did Qessax’s mentor have something to do with the fact that Vangar was only in charge of one sector and never anything greater? None of this he shared with his new wives. He wasn’t sure he could share such information with them. After all, Qessax was the one that made Vangar’s ascendancy possible. And it was Bespin that currently helped Kalee surge forward into the future with factories and managers. How would they react if they found out that their planet’s benefactor was not as benevolent as they believed? After Kalee’s long history, Qessax could easily assume that his father would not take the news well. He wasn’t a fool, he would still accept the help, but Kalee’s relationship with the Alliance would be harmed to say the least. Qessax rubbed his eyes and looked out the window. The sun had long set, but the lights of the ecumenopolis world made the skies outside clear as day. It was long past any kind of meal time, and nearing a time of rest for most people. “Bring me those bottles I know you brought” Qessax ordered his wives. “And prepare some of the Shoni meat as well. Prepare a dining place for me, you two and Vangar. Secretary, send an invitation to Vangar. Tell him…” Qessax stopped and scratched his tusks in thought. “Tell him that I want to spend a meal with him to discuss the future. He will not deny me. Its time I conduct an interview with our leader. ”
  12. Sometime during the trip Qessax was able to acquire a new uniform. Back in pressed black and field plate, Qessax couldn’t help but feel a bit more in charge. There was something about the imperial uniform, tailored to his odd body type, that made him feel more in charge. He wasn’t naked without it, but he did feel like he was missing something when wearing something else. Contrary to many of his people, he liked a uniform, even if it meant his mask was at his side again. Now if only they could do something about the kriffing boots Qessax inwardly groaned as he adjusted his footgear again. No matter where he went or who he talked to, no one could make boots fit for a Kaleesh. “Yes sir” Qessax nodded to Vangar and quick set to do just that. Among those chosen were the clones. They had proven their worth in combat. Now was time to see if they could prove their worth in a more social setting. “Dress sharp men, You may be meeting the Emperor today, and I want to make a damn impression worth our souls. Make sure that armor shines” Qessax hand-picked the rest of the company to come along as careful as a guard preventing an assassination attempt. He only selected those he had first hand knowledge on, and even then, only those who showed promise of making a good impression. A few he considered chancing on despite his lesser knowledge on them, but when he realized that they could be meeting the Emperor, he decided against it. Normally such tasks would’ve bored him. He would’ve preferred the thrill of tracking and hunting down potential enemies of the State, not meeting officials and higher ups. But even this event made him nervous and thus, excited. Qessax raised an eyebrow when a familiar pungency hit his exposed nostrils. He turned and faced the group of Kaleesh warriors, the two female leaders in front. All were in modernized Kaleesh gear, with a traditional animal skin cape, gold-encased charms and Bone Masks that actually made them look a bit regal. “You were dismissed and told to return to Kalee” Qessax pointed out. He knew the best way to talk to a fellow Kalee was not to beat around any bushes. “Why are you still here?” The leader, who carried an electrostaff on her back, a modernized take on the ancestral shoni spear, and lig swords on her belt, spoke just as straightforward, if not a bit more stern. “Your father ordered us to make sure you are protected at all times.” Qessax started to glare and snarl, a clear sign of disapproval, but stopped short when he noticed a few details. One, all of the Kaleesh were much too well dressed for simple soldiers and raiders. Two, all of them had a similar scent, indicating they belonged to the same tribe. Three, and most importantly, all of the Kaleesh’s masks bore a very specific marking over the left side, and the two females had a deep red dash just above the right eye that went towards the back. “I see…” Qessax said as he tapped his own mask, an identical mark as the females on them. Qessax took another sniff. “Shoni tribe?” The other female chuckled. " You have been gone for too long. Qogoth, but good try” She earned a glare from her older sister, and silenced herself immediately. Qessax stayed silent, tapping his mask in thought. After some moments of rapid thinking, he eventually came to a decision. This was not the time he wanted to deal with this. He knew it was coming, but he figured he would head home first instead. “You will not speak unless spoken to. The moment I hear you disagree or go against my will, I am shipping you back to my father to become bedmates in waiting. What i say goes. As representatives of Kalee, you are expected to uphold both our traditions and the laws of the land. You are both now soldiers of the Alliance and Raiders of Kalee. Become a problem, and I will find and exexcute a swift solution.” Qessax stepped forward, nearly three breaths away from his two mates. “Is that understood Qogoths?” The two thumped their chests once in unison in agreement. Qessax turned and indicated for the group to follow. _____ Qessax gave the order and everyone marched to the ship. Once arrived and made to halt, Qessax presented everyone to Vangar with a sense and air of pride fitting for his race. The clones, the commandos, the attaches, everyone. When it came to the Kaleesh, he simply said “Commander, these bodyguards and representatives of Kalee were hand-picked by Khangan Han himself. I trust them with my life and my reputation. With them are Sgt. Wren Kar, a soldier I served alongside before I transferred to intelligence, as well as my secretary. All here have both proven their worth and usefulness” At this, a small human saluted, decorated in his finest gear, as well as Qessax’s personal astromech droid who beeped a salutatory greeting.
  13. All in all, Qessax felt decent about the entire mission. It had gone, for the most part, without too many issues. A few hiccups were to be expected, and the moments right before the ship was powered on and under their control was stressful, but that was not surprising. And in all honesty, that made Qessax a little nervous. Missions never went according to plan. Not completely. Whether it was his Kaleesh heritage speaking or his training as an Imperial agent or his knowledge of previous, disastrous, imperial events, Qessax felt like something was off. Qessax approached Vangar. With his disguise mostly taken off, he had retrieved his war mask from the ship and donned it over his face. He wasn’t in imperial uniform yet, so felt that there was no reason he couldn’t wear his culture again. Passing by the squad of clones, Qessax stopped and saluted them. “Excellent job captain. You and your…brothers” Qessax struggled a bit saying the last part. Clones were still odd to him and his people as a whole. Taken care of that, Qessax faced Vangar. “Sir, might I ask what is your next plan of action? As he talked, the several Kaleesh warriors who had assisted the mission were approaching the command room. Qessax, who had completely forgotten about the warriors, was not expecting them, and only noticed them when he detected their pungent odor. One of them, a female with a verpine sniper rifle on her back, looked the clones over and snickered before asking “You all smell the same. What, do you all share the same soul?” The others took note of what the female said and listened in, curious on how the clones would respond.
  14. Qessax wasn’t sure what surprised him more: the Force-User dispatching the Umbaran was such lethality, or the battle droids that came to life around him and greeted him like some kind of commander. “Welp, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me too much” Qessax muttered as he picked himself up. When the droids had activated, one had tripped the Kaleesh accidentally. That moment could have spelled doom for him, had not Kara Thren-Sarrati intervened and saved him. “Much thanks,” Qessax muttered. He briefly surveyed the damage. Thankfully blood cleaned easily off of durasteel. “Can’t help but be surprised at your efficiency. Not that you will find me complaining.” Qessax then surveyed the rest of the ship. Everywhere, droids were becoming active. A piece of the Kaleesh felt excitement at seeing so many battle droids come to life under his team’s control. He almost felt like his ancestor so long ago. He even half wondered if that long-dead Kaleesh was smiling at this. “No, probably not” Qessax muttered to himself before activating his comm unit. “Good work gentlemen. I will be at the control room soon. ” Qessax looked at the slaves nearby and the Knights defending them. He thought to himself a few moments. Releasing the slaves would be a process, but a welcomed one. They would obviously need to be questioned on what they knew about the Umbarans, who kidnapped them, where they came from, where they were moved throughout the galaxy, etc. If slavery was going to be an issue taken seriously, Qessax would need to get familiar with the slaver’s methods. Unfortunately for the Alliance, information on slavers had been put on the back-burner, and fighting slavery would be a long, costly battle. But for the Kaleesh, who’s own people had their own experience with slavery in the past, it was an issue that could not be ignored. “Get back to your knights, I will be needed at the control room. “ Qessax directed Kara before taking off.
  15. As the klaxon sirens blared, confusion began to reign. Umbaran mechanics who swore the ship was in perfect condition suddenly doubted themselves and their work. Soldiers who were confident that the ship would never be attacked gripped their rifles tighter than ever as they escorted the workers. And the slavers recoiled in pain as they became blinded by the Force-user’s work. They were not expecting this kind of enemy to board the vessel, let alone to become the sole target of said enemy. A few of the slavers lashed out wildly, but blinded as they were, their efforts proved less than fruitless. The slaves, the ones who still had both strength and fire in their hearts, took advantage of the situation and turned on their masters. The Kaleesh who were focused on the mechanic in the power armor fought furiously. The sirens only added to the confusion the poor soul inside the armor sufferred under gunfire and smoke bombs. Eventually the Kaleesh finally brought the thing down, wrapping durasteel wires at its feet and pulling like the snowspeeders of hoth. Once down, one Kaleesh woman stepped forward, grenade in hand. One of the larger openings provided the perfect spot for the explosive. Qessax smiled as the explosion destroyed the armor. “Excellent work Vangar. Enemies are moving towards escape pods.” Qessax commented. “You too Lord-Comman…oh kriff, Commander, look out!” Qessax spotted in the distance the mechanic in the power suit bulldozing towards where the slaves were. Having heard the comms of the one mechanic suffering under the Kaleesh attack, this one had begun to make his way over and in the process, spotted the slavers being attacked. Even with the klaxon sirens blaring, this mechanic charged at the groups of slaves attacking their masters. These slaves would not escape alive if he had anything to say about it. Qessax leapt from his post and broke into a sprint towards the Lord-Commander and the slaves, pistol out. “Everyone, get moving to the command center! Vangar, captain, see if you can activate some of the droids so that we can actually fly this hunk of junk out of here. I don’t want to be a sitting Mynock when Umbara sends reinforcements to investigate what's happening. Double-time everyone!” Qessax was now between the charging mechanic and the slaves. With 300 meters between him and the slaves, Qessax knew he needed to give Rapheal some time to move the slaves to a safer location. Pistol in hand, Qessax opened fire. The lasers from the small arm bounced harmlessly off of the power armor, but it accomplished what the once field-agent had hoped for: it created a distraction. “Let the chase begin…” Qessax muttered to himself. He began to weave between deactivated battle droids as the Umbaran mechanic began to open fire. So often he had been the hunter. He did not appreciate the change of pace of being the hunted. Inside the command center, the Mechanic helped out as much as he could. Given how much focus he had given the command center, he proved to be useful, as the command consoles came to life once more. However, when it came to activating the droids, he confessed he did not know anything about that. His focus had been on getting the ship running, not activating the small army that could kill him.
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