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Ryloth's Imperial Garrison


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Faust smiles as he receives the comm, a hungry look growing in his pale, cold blue eyes.

 

"Oh my, Reagan, luv," he whispers, a smile growing on his face. "This presents an opportun-"

 

His sentence is interrupted yet again, now by yet another comm coming in on Imperial channels. He listens in, giving a weary sigh, though his face sets.

 

"Looks like we'll have to delay both plans. Something's come up that requires our immediate attention on Cardia." Faust's eyes sweep over to Reagan. "You haven't turned in your coloniels's commission I hope, because I think rank will accord itself some unique privileges."

 

Making sure the base is secure, Faust, with Reagan at his side, takes off for Cardia.

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

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  • 1 year later...

(( You've been listed as a Lieutenant within the Empire's OOC Thread. Keep the ooc comments to a minimum, PM me with any further needs. ))

 

With a surveying look in his eyes Jasper watched as the mountain of a being, that was his Lieutenant, rose from the seated position that he had been in. A confident and proud stance held true in his posture with his shoulders square”¦ a sign of not being intimidated. This sight forced the corners of the Captain's mouth to curl upwards into a devious grin. The idea of breaking a wild mustang came into his mind as he thought of how this man would struggle to realize who was the master within Section Five.

 

Jasper Hale was their father, mother, and supreme being as far as he was concerned. They had been placed under his command and because of that they would follow every order, be it through respect or fear”¦ it didn't matter as long as the work got done. Slowly that menacing smirk faded from his rather solemn mask that blanketed his facial expressions.

 

Walking back to his ship and charting a course for Ryloth, Jasper flopped down into his seat and readied for the flight. As they leapt into hyperspace the droid was flicking his lighter to cherry his cigar”¦ with one long drag he choked back the smoke with a broad smile upon his face. After quite sometime, the ship came to a halt in the atmosphere above Ryloth's Imperial Garrison”¦ a facility that was built to train and house Imperial Soldiers for combat. It was his mission to further improve this structure and secure the atmosphere with mines that would help prevent an attack.

 

That was his goal”¦ he'd handle the ground facilities and Soln would take care of the mines. Once he had finished he'd help with the construction”¦ every helping hand is a good one. Not to mention, nothing is better for the spirit than some good old fashioned back breaking labor.

 

”œNow where is that Lieutenant of mine”¦?

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Insight slowed as it entered Ryloth's atmosphere. Soln saw the garrison and flew his ship to it.

 

Training exercises were beginning, and as far as he could see, they did not need any reinforcements to their ranks, only structural advancements. Even with the finest troops, the soldiers were doomed to failure if they were ever attacked.

 

Orbital bombardment was a weakness that was unacceptable to this planet, because this planet housed a key training facility that could become the shatterpoint in any war with the Empire.

 

Soln Solos landed his starfighter in one of the hangers and headed to the headquarters where his supposed Captain Hale would be organizing the advancements.

 

I wonder what he'll have me do.

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The Briefing Room”¦

 

A large rectangular table filled a vast majority of the office that had been designated to house meetings such as the one that Captain Hale had called on this day. Sitting at the head of the table with his feet kicked up and slouched back with a cigar between his lips”¦ Jasper waited for the people who had been summoned to meet with him. The first to arrive was one of the Imperial Scientists in charge of the programming of the clones; he sat to Hale's left hand side. The next three soldiers to enter the room were all Ensign's that had been called here simply for the fact that they'd be assisting with the labor.

 

My Lieutenant is running late”¦

 

Was the thought that had begun to pass through the artificial mind of the Captain as he drew deeply upon the cigar held in his mouth. Leisurely removing the expensive smoke from his lips with his left hand Jasper pointed at the door as it swung open and that mountain of a cat walked into the room. That smirk that had formed on his face earlier in his presence, once again found its home on his mask. Gesturing to the empty seat to his right hand side, Captain Hale waited until Lt. Solos had taken his seat before speaking.

 

”œThank you all for coming today”¦ So I've been presented with a problem. This station is a valuable asset to the Empire and under it's current condition”¦ well to be blunt. We'd be I am Grooted.

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A lone stormtrooper approaches Captain Hale quietly after everyone is dismissed, giving a formal salute.

 

"Sir, a word with you in private please," the trooper requests formally, glancing over his shoulder to watch the new staff leave.

 

"Sir, I have the duty to inform you this base has had some low key operations. Once General Faust, then Emperor Faust, before he vanished, took a keen interest in this base, using it as a headquarters. Because of that, there are some peculiar properties here you should know about."

 

He clears his throat and continues in a formal briefing tone.

 

"Lord Faust had an interest in hunting Jedi down. To that end, he personally trained an elite garrison here, specifically for hunting down and killing Jedi Knights. We have extra ysalmari, flechette launchers, spray sticks, undetectable cortosis bullets for sniping Force users, and flame throwers designed for terminating Jedi before they can become a problem. We learned his lordship's personal fighting tactics and can be of use to you as an elite strike force."

 

He brings out a datapad. "In addition to the torture chambers, prisons, and slave pens for the flesh trade, we have equipment and cells on hand for holding Jedi. We already have four working planetary turbolasers, as well as a shield to protect this base from orbital bombardments of energy and ion blasts. Furthermore," he adds, handing over the datapad, "we have an extensive network of spies and informants among the locals, as well as good ties with the slavers. We've kept a lax attitude on the Empire's human-centered policies to encourage good relations."

 

There is once more a crisp salute. "Sir, as our commanding officer, we are at your command. Make use of us."

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

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Respect”¦ this lone stormtrooper that had approached him, was the only soldier he'd seen thus far that seemed to have been trained properly. His salutes were crisp and practiced”¦ hell even the way the man spoke seemed as if it were rehearsed. This was something that Captain Hale was very glad to have at his command, a group of trained assassins of the Jedi”¦ ysalmari”¦ defenses”¦ supplies”¦

 

From the sound of things”¦ the base isn't actually in poor condition”¦ no”¦ its appearance is misleading”¦ a trap”¦ so that if someone were to attack they'd be lost within the maze that is this facility. Without their precious force connection”¦ and surrounded by men that are trained to ruin lives”¦

 

For the time being, Jasper didn't want to seem over exuberant about the information that he'd just received. Ryloth wasn't in that bad of shape”¦ it was a death trap for those that wouldn't align themselves to the Empire”¦ and it was Jaspers.

 

”œExcellent”¦ then we shall make use of these amenities that Lord Faust was gracious enough to bestow upon us. I'm pleased to hear that you've kept good-relations with the locals”¦ that will come to our aid greatly in the future”¦

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Soln left the Briefing Room and went to the Main Control Room where he found a Master Chief Petty Officer that was responsible for all the ships in the Garrison.

 

"How many mine laying ships does this garrison have?"

 

"Two, Lieutenant."

 

I guess I'll have to make do and convert some other ships. "How many ships do you have that can be converted to perform as a minelayer?

 

"12 frigates."

 

Good, this might be easier than I thought.

 

"Coordinate with the flight controller to follow the direction of the chief engineer's previously planned mine field layout. Send updated reports to me regularly, I will be in here or in the Briefing Room. You are directly in charge of this operation." Soln sat down at an empty station and let the Petty Officer perform the man-to-man directing with his men that was going to be necessary with this task.

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The Captain sat idle within the same chair that he'd been lopped down in for the past hour or so”¦ he had minions to take care of the tasks that had been laid at his feet. No longer did he have to lift a finger, other than when he was in the thick of battle. Having switched out the cigar for a more suitable cigarette, Jasper pulled heavily upon the cancer stick and drew the toxic smoke into his lungs. As he expelled it from his body with a heavy sigh a ring came out over his comm.

 

After listening to the message, Hale was quick to act and was gathering things left and right as he headed towards the hanger bay to board his ship. As he passed people through the various walkways he found the scientist that he'd placed in charge of the construction affairs. Handing him a datapad with the former specs of the facility, Jasper signaled to him to fall back on those plans and build it accordingly. Tunnels, turrets, ysalmari traps”¦ everything”¦ he wanted a fortress by the time he returned.

 

Once he found his ship the Captain was on board and heading into the atmosphere”¦ his destination Coruscant, the Imperial Spire was the target once he had arrived.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sitting in an old uncomfortable office chair was not at all pleasing to Soln. Half of the chair's cardboard stuffing was missing and there was a rip along one side. The left armrest was loose, making a squeak every time he moved, not that he moved much in the hour that he sat there. The chair had an unsightly brown hue due to the lack of flat black paint that peeled off, rust had began forming from an unknown source of moisture. That and the smell gave a slight hint that there was mold in the cardboard.

 

In the last ten minutes he had became restless, lifting his feet up and putting them on top the desk he was at.

 

No reports yet.

 

An hour has gone by and no reports. That sergeant better have a good excuse for being a little I am an idiot. Disobeying orders was not a good way to start off a relationship with a commanding officer.

 

Soln smiles. Its only laying mines, the Petty Officer should have no real update for him, if he does it means that he'll get replaced. He probably delegated the task to other enlisted men by now, handing out plans and provisioning resources. A straightforward and dawdling task of deploying mines.

I should be training soldiers. That Captain is only seeing if I can manage men. I can do that, anyone pretty much can. That reminds me, I haven't had a genuine conversation with him yet.

Soln puts his feet back on the floor, *Squeak* and then slowly, pushes himself up from the armrest. *Squeak* *Bend* *Snap* The left armrest breaks off sending him crashing to the floor headfirst. *A loud metallic thud*

 

Lying there for a brief moment Soln, even more slowly, stands up a little more than a bit dazed.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Entering the room with a swish as the metal doors close, Soln peers around the headquarters seeking Captain Hale.

 

Sigh. Not here. He motions to a fairly short Petty Officer wearing the usually black trimmings. "Where is Captain Hale?"

 

”œHe left for Coruscant a while ago. Emperor Black himself summoned him”

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  • 7 months later...

Working quietly, a few operatives, not calling themselves part of Black Sun to maintain the security of the parent organization, work to ingratiate themselves with the officers of the local garrison on Ryloth. Through offers of fine meals, exotics, and after careful measure, drugs and vices that some corrupt officers were prone to, they start the task of quietly lobbying the imperials towards giving them an exclusive edge on the drug and Twi'lek slave trades- both legal and illicit, operating on Ryloth. Kickbacks are given, mostly to dig the commanders into Black Sun's as of yet unnamed pockets.

Hail Daisaku!

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As the few operatives began their work among the imperial officer, they inadvertently attracted the attention of the Empire's finest. First created as a Jedi trap these brave men stood guard through out their time as vigilante ever.

 

So as certain operatives began their work, the one of the fall back reasons the Stormtroopers existed seem to come into play. That begin there to guard the Empire against the officers that swore to serve it. Steered onto the plan due to an already uncountably corrupt individual with undying loyalty to a cause. The stormtroopers spotted and began to track the the corrupt officers. Part power play and part doing their duty, the storm troopers quickly and quietly began dispatching everyone under the suspect list.

 

Eventually a report was filed to the ISB, and a request for more officers to fill the gaps of the missing officers was processed. You needed the most hardened individuals to successful be stationed on a giant Jedi trap. The stormtroopers while being used in a power play by one individual unwittingly felt far safer at the end of the investigation process due to their actions.

 

Mainly because they did not want to have to rely on a corrupt officer to watch their back when already forced to deal with the idea that terrifying super beings with awe inspiring powers could drop in at anytime, as once proven by the still studied dead man in the morgue.

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Two months later I hit the control room of CPS. Talk about a slog fest.

Former Emperor Rustic <--

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Black's operatives, already careful by hiding their ties to their parent organization just in case of a situation like this, took a hint when dealing with the Empire, or any other organization with similar values: when all your contacts start dying off, you cut your losses and leave quietly.

 

After a few stealth shipments and last minute payments, the nameless operatives go completely underground, dissapearing from Ryloth's Imperial radar. It was, regrettably, the safe manuver.

 

Of course, leaving a few clues behind linking the bribery ring to being the brain child of prominent Hutt Clan power holders on Nal Hutta operating in what was a normally Hutt territory like Ryloth didn't hurt either...

Hail Daisaku!

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  • 2 years later...

This was a secure LZ. They came in at the dead of night, under cover. They knew Ryloth like the back of their hand, and even though this was no longer an Imperial base. It still served a function for an operation such as this. He mentally reviewed his objective in his head.

 

"Team two will have the objective of destroying the Floating Rock Gardens of Ryloth. Similar to team one's objective and in fact a supplementary mission for team one's objective. Further more in destroying this tourist attraction we will be allowing for a stronger media focus on ryloth and pressure the ruling government to step in and clean up its act, or we will. Team two will also be using explosive to achieve this objective.

 

He also took the time to remember team one's objective.

"Team one's primary objective be the destroy three of the most profitable Ryll dens in the city Kala'uun. The secondary objective is to raid their treasury to deny them their profit margin." "You will plant an explosive in each one in order to destroy each festering slime pit of a den. As well all known Ryll is a relatively weak form of spice used to create a number of medicines used throughout the galaxy. However given its unregulated use in this galaxy it is sadly misused and becomes an ingredient in glitteryll. We will be sending the message that this shall not be tolerated in excess."

 

It seemed most of the team leaders had become afflicted with a sort of dementia found in this galaxy. It cropped up from time to time, and made men lethargic. Days, weeks, months, even years could pass before suddenly the men would become full of life again as if nothing had ever happened. So he temporarily assigned new team leads for team one, with the idea that should those men snap out of it, they could retake command and complete the objective.

 

Checking gear, going over plans and making sure the men were ready, soon both teams were off and on their way to their objectives.

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  • 9 years later...

He could feel the bone break this time. The left ocular socket, thin despite a healthy protection of flesh and cartilage, snapped under the blow of his fist. The victim whimpered as he stepped back, giving her another solid kick in the ribs before he gestured to the two pig like gamorreans to pick the twi’lek back up. 

 

“And if I hear another word from you about your daughter, I will not show you my mercy, nor her.” 

 

The woman whimpered, nodding her head best she could despite the rivulets of blood that were streaking from her nose. Calidar shrugged, putting his gloves back on and letting the guards drag her away. He sat back down on the throne like chair and gestured for the next supplicant to come forward. Another Twi’lek, this time a man, likely to beg for the return of one of his children. But he did not know that they had already been sold hours before.

 

They were all slaves in the end. Even these that had achieved some semblance of rank. They were worth nothing more than the credits that could be harvested from them. The Guild made its investors very happy, and profits were still extraordinary since the Remnant had pulled out. He had even made their spiral tower the guild’s headquarters. Things were going good on Ryloth. 

 

The Guild
The Slavemasters of Ryloth

 

  • Sad 1

NPCs for boardwides and small stories on request

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The drop from hyperspace was smooth, a good omen, perhaps. Jude had become all too familiar with the bumpiness of long range missions, time spent out of port, station to station, system to system. For the first time in a long time he sat truly comfortable in his seat, the dashboard lit with dials and readouts, the drone of of sounds repeating around him. To him it was more than a ship, it was a home, caring for him, protecting him. It was the least he could do to show the same respect every chance he had, and he did everything he could, from regular tune-ups to simply keeping tidy, the McFerrin deserved his devotion. He smiled, comfortably in his chair, as he felt the Y-Wings beating heart pulse life through its body, the way its every panel, every screw and every wire flowed together with the current. Certainly this was a good omen.

 

The sun had just crested the planet, rays cast through the wide, lightly tinted windows. Jude began bobbing his head to the songs lodged in his mind, his hand idly tapping on the warn leather stick. He adjusted the course, putting the planet above them. The chair slid back and twisted, Jude relaxed back, the padded leather jacket stretched as he rested he hands behind his head. He smiled genuinely at the lady to accompany him, it had been quite a while since last he traveled with anyone, and he was glad to have someone to talk to. "We've got about fifteen minutes before we make it to the spaceport, Is there anything we need not covered in the briefing? I've got a half-stocked armory, it's not much but it'll be good in a pinch." He spoke with an up-beat attitude, He wasn't just happy with his line of work, but proud of it. After all, today they will topple invariably terrible people.

 

The mere thought of slavery put a bad taste in his mouth, that anyone would, or even could exploit another living, thinking being like that was despicable. He had met some that tried to justify it as a 'necessary evil', that maybe these people had no other choice, their life in ruins with the only hope being the mercy of a slaver. As far fetched as it sounded for him, desperation could drive people to the very extreme. But there was no excuse for the treatment they receive, the harshness of their living conditions, the regular threats. Their malice masked with the 'mercy' of "I could do worse." It was well passed the time for them to have a taste of their own medicine, a side serving of harsh justice would go a long way too.

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Azael was currently stretched out in one of the awkward spaces that she could stuff herself into in the Y-Wing, her hands swiping through her datapad as she waited for them to reach their destination. She wasn't just idly passing the time though- she was setting up their cover. When she was spoken to, she peered over the top of her pad, swinging her legs out as she sat up. They had exchanged pleasantries already, they knew most of eachother's abilities for the sake of working well together. He was easy enough to get along with, despite his menacing appearance. Easy going and fun- definitely one of the better matchups.

 

"Well, as far as gear, look menacing. There are too many for us to just walk in and start shooting the place up. I've got us a cover- Nothing fancy, it wouldn't hold up against a thorough background check by, say, the Sith Empire or the Imperial Intelligence, but it'll hopefully get us inside the compound. I repurposed some of the old wanted signs from my days as a CEDF agent, when I was raiding Sith shipping. I'm a small time pirate lord, looking to sell off some merchandise, and you're my bodyguard, here to make sure they don't just shoot me and try to find it themselves."

 

She didn't enjoy killing, but sometimes people deserved it. People like the crime boss they were about to execute were just as dangerous in a cell as they were out in the galaxy. And toppling his empire- that would just be some off-time fun for her. Her mind was already racing with possibilities- Drain their credits? Have Jude literally blow their operation wide open? Tip off local militia fighters to the weaknesses of the compound? Any number of things would work. With her old crew, there would have been enough of them to just shoot all the bastards inside. But those days were long over- as far as she knew, only two others were alive, and the last contact from either of them had been nearly a year ago.

 

She checked her own gear- blasters, grenades, her shock charges, everything was square. She nodded to herself. Good

 

"So, how long until we touch down at the spaceport?" she asked as boredom started to creep into her thought process.

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Jude nodded along, taking mental notes as Azael laid out her plan. It was exciting to see her mind at work, it was a welcome contrast to the brute force tactics he'd usually been a part of. And she had it all too, wanted posters and history she could just repurpose at a whim. "Let's do it! This is gonna be Great!" Jude smiled wide as he got up to check his own equipment. Really leaning into the 'hired help' vibe he threw on mismatched pieces of his armor, chest rig, heavy left shoulder pad, an extra holster here, bandoleer there. He started making sure to look the part, for a moment he'd wished he hadn't shaved that morning so he could grow out the stubble, but its not like there's no such thing as a clean-shaven mercenary. He grabbed the final touches, detonators, spare trip-wire, a couple of spare cartridges; wrapping it all together with a sheathed kukri strapped to his armored shoulder.

 

He turned to sit back down as they just started scrapping the upper atmosphere. "So, how long until we touch down at the spaceport?" her impatience starting to crack through. He'd be lying if Jude said he wasn't feeling it too. "Only another couple minutes, I'm calling up the tower now." He replied spryly before flicking over to the comms. "Lessu Tower, Y-Wing Victor 933." A short break of static before their response. "Go for Lessu Tower" Jude smiled as he flicked the comm again. "Requesting landing clearance and refueling at bay 0-2." The moment was a little longer this time, but that's to be expected with traffic about. "Y-Wing Victor 933, you're clear for bay 0-2, Lessu out"

 

The craft twisted, putting the planets surface beneath them on approach. The outer rim was abuzz lately, people misplaced by the new Sith campaign tearing through it, smugglers hiding what they could salvage, crime lords moving to protect 'investments'; even massive merchant ships moving with relief supplies for taken worlds, refugees without a home, struggling to break free of the iron fist. The thought began to sadden him as he followed the buoy in, but maybe it was part of why there were there, to facilitate safer trade, safer places for those refugees. The idea gave him hope, and his smile quickly returned.

 

The landing gear touched down and the ship rocked with a hiss of the hydraulics. His char swiveled and he stood, crossing his arms and standing as tall as he could in the cramped space; his face was a most exaggerated tough-guy frown. It didn't hold long though, as the silliness broke through into an airy laugh. He hoisted the A280-CFE's strap over his exposed shoulder, and with a wide smile said to Azael "Let's go have some fun, shall we?" He offered a hand to help her from her crowded position on the seats.

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The state of Ryloth made her uncomfortable, to say the least. Much of her childhood was spent in places like this spaceport- fleeing refugees, fear, sadness. After the Sith had wiped out her home, she had nowhere to go for a long time, until she had joined the CEDF. Seeing this reminded her of why she fought the Sith, not that she really needed it. They brought this wherever they went, whether it was under the guise of bringing peace or civilizing or rooting out rebels like herself, it always ended in bloodshed and death. But at least the people were safe here for now. She had no doubt that the Sith would turn their attention here soon enough- the battles and conquering had shown no sign of slowing in the recent months.

 

She checked the datapad again- they had the coordinates of the crime lord's compound, a few kilometers past the edge of the spaceport. "Unless you want to walk for a few hours, we should speeders. The compound is a few klicks out- they'll know we're coming. I sent a message ahead, telling them I had an offer."

 

She pulled up a map of the spaceport, inspecting it briefly.

 

"Follow me."

 

She made her way through the crowd and the twisting alleys of spaceport, taking the occasional shortcut to avoid groups of shady individuals. The crime boss wasn't the only one here with malicious intent- places like this were a breeding ground of criminal activity. It was easy for a slaver to nab a refugee and nobody notice- most would just assume they died without escape. Before long, they found themselves in a place they could rent a speeder- it didn't take long to sort out prices. She wasn't stingy with the credits that the rebels gave her for this job- she had every intent on paying them back. In the end, they ended up with a pair of older speeders. Nothing fancy, but they'd get the job done.

 

"You ready for this?"

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(Personal song for the scene: Don Felder- Heavy Metal)

 

When the ship arrived out of hyperspace and near the orbit of Ryloth, none of the passengers had seen the planet before as they were too focused on preparing for their eventual landing. Garbed in leather armor and outfits and pieces of plasteel armor found around the cargo area. They had finished with making sure they were, "Less than savory," and looked like real mercenaries. One slid a glowing blue canister of gas into his DC-15A Blaster before snapping the weapon shut,  another had slid his two  DC-17 Blaster Pistols into either of his holsters, and the last one finished with calibrating his DC-17M Rifle.

 

Clones were a rare sight, and a select squad who'd somehow survived all this time were on a stolen Sith Imperial ship whose new owner was a man named Pryf. However due to the nature of the galaxy their identities were to be kept secret. Captain Tilt was the leader of the three Clones calling the shots of their group, proficient in close quarters combat and battle, and capable of using whatever weapon he could find. Sargeant Riggs specializes in anything electronic and weapons, being able to repair equipment and weapons as well as dealing with espionage and electronic warfare. Sargeant Thumper is the demolitionist and expert at sabotage, almost anything explosive he deals with and has the knowledge of making makeshift explosives... However he mostly keeps to himself and stays quiet... Mostly.

 

The squad had his their stash of food and equipment making do with what they have and found. Supposedly Pryf is meeting someone, who it is and what they're doing here is up to interpretation however the Clones ate simply happy to be in the fight. Once landed, the Clones would make their way to one of the ships entryways and waited for Pryf, following him out when they saw him. It had been years since they'd seen live action, and the fact they were armed to the teeth was proof that they were somewhat capable of a fight. The experience is what shaped them into great soldiers and men.

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The stubbled angular face of the Jensaarai warrior was pierced by his intense green-eyed gaze as he tucked his duel lightsaber hilts up his sleeves. Although his armor was built to carry an array of weaponry, he was not going to give up his preferred weapon, in or out of uniform. Even if to use them might invite questioning looks from any onlookers.

 

He was an agent of his people, an associate of the rebellion, and an undercover operative. Rarely did he work so hand in hand with fellow rebels. He did not even know who exactly they were looking for per se, and now he was toting along a group of clones as well!

 

Finding  his companions, he nodded a solemn greeting. “Not sure what to tell you boys ‘ccept this ain’t the Republic. Rules of engagement are loose here. We are descending into the criminal belly of the beast. Keep your wits about you and for goodness sake don’t walk in formation. We are pirates and grizzled ner-do-wells afterall.”

 

Setting out into the seedy undercurrent of the city, the rebel agent paid enough money to ensure that the ship’s presence was kept quiet, but not enough to elicit more than an eyebrow raise. Even here, the emblem of the Sith Empire carried some sense of power and authority. Emblazoned in his grimy coveralls, Inmorots carried a sense of that authority with him as the group set out into the city at the edges of dusk and dawn.

 

It did not take more than 20 minutes of walking to reach the a dingy speeder rental agency. It looked like it had seen better days and clientele were decidedly ‘cash only’. Nestled down what could generously be described as an alley, with refuse and a vagrant lying all about the edges, the group gingerly picked their way forward. With an air of calm, the Jensaarai Defender moved as if he had not a care in the world.

 

Stepping inside, the group found themselves standing in, of all things, a line. Behind a red-skinned devil and an royal ice blue Chiss, the Corellian blinked refocusing his sudden confusion away. One of these very well was their contact. He did not know which, if either and did not wish to risk giving away anything by looking out of sorts. The Mantis had no intention of renting a speeder for himself or his newfound clones companions.

 

Fishing the starter chits and associated personalized bling attached to it from his pocket, he swirled it through the air about his finger, allowing it to jangle noisily against itself, drawing an disdainful glance from the clerk who was working with one of the others. It was enough to draw attention and with his Sithly getup on, a plan in place, and a signal word yet to be utter, enough, he hoped, to make contact with whichever rebels were expecting his stolen vessel.

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Jude stood patiently, if a little cramped in the tight allyway. The morning sun spilled in from the open plains on the horizon. A sense of freedom came over him as he stared into the distance. Azael was hard at work, debating prices for their rides when a commotion drew Jude's attention back to the streets. There was caution and unease in the air, Jude smiled and turned to confront whatever might be there with open arms. His heart sank when he saw the Sith insignia on the person's uniform, but before he could reach for his blaster pistol a citizen cried out in panic. "It's the Sith! The Sith are here!!" He bolted, dipping out of sight into a distant and dark alley. The frenzy spread like wildfire as refugee, citizen and gang member alike stampeded away from the speeder shop. Two of them stole speeders and sped off into the plains, exclaiming "You won't blast me off this planet too!"

 

Jude's guard dropped when he recognized the man in the uniform. His smile came back to him, and he chuckled as he holstered the blaster. "Funny meeting you here!" He gave a nod to the man beside him that wore a clone's armour so fittingly. There was a sense of pride in his heart, having warn near the same armour for so long. He was internally a little uneasy, having seen how people have responded to the man's uniform, but he maintained an open mind; everyone has their reasons, maybe he went under cover aboard the ship, then mutinied to take it. He offered a sincere smile as he reached his hand out to shake. "I'm Jude, Not sure I caught your name?"

 

Things might have just gotten a little more difficult, more variables to take into account, but with as many as they had now Jude was convinced his omen still held strong.

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The chaos that seemed to follow their arrival seemed unwarranted, even for refugees. The Jensarrai’s grease-covered uniform did everything but carry any sense of authority to anyone who had held any sort of status in their lives. Still, the Sith crest was enough to give some pause. It’s presence was out of place, confusing. The escort of grizzled looking subversives ((clones)) made the visage even stranger.

 

Making eye contact with the devil-being, The Mantis did not break his gaze. Instead, he turned to squarely face the man. “Jude,” he turned the name over in his mouth as he replied, drawing the name out; his eyes darting to the left and right, eying the shopkeep and whoever else might be lurking within earshot. “I do not recall consorting with Imperial scum like you before.” he continued, emphasizing the ‘Imperial scum’ as he tucked his keys back into his pocket. If the man was a rebel, he would note the identifier and respond in turn. If he was not; well, it was beneficial having several hardened commandos at his back. “I am sure you are mistaken. I am a mere trader here to pawn my wares.” 
 

The Mantis shot a sidelong glance to Tilt, so as to speak to him, but also indicate to the Devaronian that they were together. “If this slime gets too friendly, make sure he doesn’t go and out us.” He then turned to join the line waiting for service as the shopkeeper and his minions tried to regain some sense of order within the chaos scurrying about, shooting them sidelong glances of suspicion. It probably would not be long before goons of some matter came looking for them, probably with big guns and bad attitudes too. The Mantis hoped to meet their contact quickly and be out of the spotlight before that happened.

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When the chaos broke Riggs couldn't help but give a laugh at everyone's reactions, "They must be scared of something!"
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"Shut up you idiot!" Thumper hissed, smacking his comrade on the back of the head.
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Shaking his head, Tilt stood there with Pryf not surprised in the least. Their faces were hidden at least, but still, he had to think of an accent to throw off anyone who could recognize a Republic Clones voice. Whilst the group stood in the line that was reorganizing, the whole store reorganizing, Tilt noticed an individual starting conversation with the Mantis. A man who looked like a devil of sorts, a Devaronian he thought, was making friendly with Pryf. This wasn't good perhaps as they were supposed to go this operation undercover. And that's exactly what Pryf was doing.
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“I do not recall consorting with Imperial scum like you before. I am sure you are mistaken. I am a mere trader here to pawn my wares."
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There it was. That comment made Tilt smirk a little, he too needed to get into the role of big bad mercenary if he were to pull this off. Then Pryf in his Sith Imperial attire glanced to Tilt, something that of course caught the Clones eye. Hopefully this would play off well and not a blatant attempt at pretend. The man said, "If this slime gets too friendly, make sure he doesn’t go and out us."
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"Of course, it's what you paid us for." Tilt states in a low gravely tone, escaping the typical Clone accent he always had.
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The way the Clone replied made it sound like the supposed Imperial was an idiot. Of course he was there for such a reason! Why wouldn't he be?! At least, with the attitude and tone of his voice he made it seem like that. To help reinforce the dramatics of the situation, Tilt unholstered his DC-15A Blaster Rifle, his head purposely facing the Devaronion. The other two Clones unholstered their weapons as well, one with dual blaster pistols and the other having a blaster rifle. They sold the roles well, acting as body guards for a Sith Imperial  sought to sale his wares. He only hoped the very convincing getup was enough.
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'This is gonna be great!' Tilt thought, already having a level of amusement at the acting.

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As the weapons were drawn, what remained of the crowd hastily made their exits. Nobody wanted to be around when the Sith got into gunfights- not only did they seldom care about collateral damage, but even if the Sith were the ones killed, there would be bad times to follow for anyone who witnessed it or was perceived to have taken part in it. In moments, the once busy speeder shot was empty save for the operatives, and Azael let out a loud curse. She had put together that these were her contacts, she'd heard the code phrase, but had she been told that one would be wearing a Sith insignia she would have declined the help to begin with.

 

"Ktah!" she shouted, the word foreign to her. It was a rare curse in her native tongue, as to use such vulgar language was frowned upon. But it had been a long time since her Ascendency days, and her vocabulary had relaxed.

 

"Put your kriffing guns away! We're on the same side!" Her palm went to her forehead in consternation, brushing a loose strand of hair out of the way before she pointed at the Jennsaari.

 

"Why did you think showing up to a world on the brink of war in a hostile uniform was covert in any way? Aren't you supposed to be a master of infiltration? These people are fleeing for their lives as planets burn under Sith occupation, so of course when they see one in uniform here they're going to panic!"

She wheeled the finger to the troops behind the man who had drawn their weapons. "And then you draw your guns when we move to make contact? Do you have any idea what these people are going through?"

 

She took a moment to gather herself, to catch her breath.

 

"Let me give you an idea. I grew up in the Chiss Ascendency. I'm twenty four.  Twenty years ago, the Sith infiltrated our people and slaughtered us by the tens of thousands. I was barely four years old when I watched my people die horrible death the those monsters, watched my parents get cut down for trying to protect me. It was the most horrific experience of my life. These people are experiencing that right now. The Sith have shown up, unannounced, and begun a bloody conquest throughout the Outer Rim, slaughtering anyone who dares get in their way. Necromancers on Aaris, the subjugation of Falleen. Even now, there are reports of Naboo burning. These people are scared, and are hiding on one of the few planets they can afford to reach that aren't owned by the Sith. So when you walk in here, looking like that, drawing guns and threatening patrons, they panic. They run, scared for their lives."

 

She took another deep breath, calming herself.

 

"We're here to do good for these people. To kill a crime lord who has them living in fear. What's the point of that if they just end up fearing us instead?"

She spoke openly now that the store was empty. Even the owner had left once the weapons were drawn. Still they had a job to do. She placed an abundant amount of credits on the counter, paying for two extra speeders, and jerked her head towards the exit.

 

"What's done is done. We can't re-do this, so let's do what we can to salvage it. If you change out of that uniform, we can pass it off when we arrive as a misunderstanding. They think we're pirates, let's use that. If you show up in a sith uniform though, chances are they'll just shoot you before you get the chance to explain. the compound is about two klicks out. Grab a speeder, and I'll brief you two on what we know so far. Probably best to leave the boys with the ship for now- People don't like the Sith around here, as I've mentioned, and we don't want it getting jacked before we can finish our deal."

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Jude's toothy grin never left his face as he shrugged and awkwardly scratched the back of his head at the denied handshake. He had no issues with the men on a personal level, even with guns drawn on him he understood 'it's part of the bit.' But as Azael interjected he felt himself put in the middle. While he didn't have any trouble with the help, she had a point. The Sith uniform wouldn't help our situation.

 

Then it became personal, and he finally got a glimpse past her snarky façade. She'd been through a lot, she really was fighting for the cause beyond 'we're the good guys.' His heart sank as he stared down into the dirt, imagining himself in her shoes. Seeing the chaos, experiencing such incredible loss. His eyes watered, not quite enough for a tear to form, the lump in his throat was hard swallowed. Jude looked back to the young woman as she gave her last remarks, bringing a genuine smile back to his lips, he turned to their allies.

 

"We can all be friends here, I say be damned with first impressions! I really look forward to working with you all, better yet, getting to know you over a drink when this is all over." He spoke with a calm, yet enthusiastic attitude. He sat comfortably in the Barc speeder next to Azael's and kicked the starter, but before they would take off he leaned towards her, giving her a look of honest concern he quietly asked. "Are you alright? If you need to talk, before or after this op, I'm always free."

 

It was a rough start, but Jude knew well enough that just because the meeting went sideways, doesn't mean the whole op is fried.

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The Mantis regarded the explosive response silently. What was she going to say when she found out they showed up in a Sith emblazoned craft? 
 

Nobody felt the need to follow protocol. No response phrase. No decorum. Still, these fellows seemed to be the rebel contacts they were looking for. Flipping the keys in his hand, the Jensaarai Defender turned his head to Tilt, “May I present the rebels of the alliance.”  
 

He looked at the keys in his hand before slipping them to the clone. “Don’t scratch her on your first ride out.” he said with a wry smile. “If the local pirates think the Sith are about, they’re not going to go looking for rebel infiltrators are they? A little bit of chaos lets us get the job done. Get in. Get out. No loose ends. By the time the Sith come looking for whoever touched their stuff we’ll be long gone. No pirate overlords, no Sith attack, just a strange bit of panic then,” he waived his hand in the air. “Let’s go find a speeder. Your brothers can stay with the ship, keep it safe.”

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"An emotional bunch..." Riggs muttered as he put his rifle away and crossed his arms, the signature Clone accent coming to life finally. It wouldn't be hard to figure out why Grand Republic Clones tagged along the Jensaarai. Clones were such good bodyguards to begin with! And their experience were superb to have! 

 

"Can it, Riggs," Tilt finally said dropping his fake tone, he took the keys then said to the two other individuals, "Sorry, we're just entering the war with... Ehhh... Very little idea of the damage. Still learning a lot. And trying to sell the roles off and all, y'know? The Sith from back in the day were fearsome but if people are this afraid...? Then you rebels need all the help you can get." 

 

Tilt gestures to the empty what making his way to a speeder bike as the two other Clones just stood there. He sighed through the cloth wrapped around his head as his eyes scanned at the chaos turned into vacancy. It was evident the Sith's reign of terror was far, far more out of control more than anything. People's hearts gripped by fear and dismay, it was like the CIS all over but tenfold. They really needed the help. 

 

"Thumper, Riggs, you have your orders! Make sure nothing happens to that ship," Tilt barked the orders, with Riggs of course rolling his eyes and Thumper giving a thumbs up then playful finger guns to the two rebels as he backed out of the building behind his clone comrade; a regard to them pulling the guns earlier. Finally, Tilt sighed again more exasperated than anything and said before taking off to no one, "Those two... I swear it. But I wouldn't love 'em any other way."

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Azael nodded. They were back on track, and able to coordinate. She was embarrassed to have talked about her experiences in the way that she had, but it had seemed to work. She began speaking again as they headed outside.

 

"First, if the Sith hear tales of people impersonating or attacking Sith officials, they'll just kill everyone. They've never struck me as the kind of people to launch a proper investigation. Other than the fear factor, that's why we shouldn't be dressing as Sith. We're here to protect them, not use them as scapegoats. At the very least, cut off those insignias. Lends us more air as rouge pirates than an intact uniform would. Our priority are the civilians inside the structure- All of this means nothing if the people suffer for it. I've sent word to the crimelord that we'd like to do business. Trade the ship you brought for whatever slaves they have. Once we've gotten them to safety, we come back, kill the pirates, topple his network, take back your ship. We'll give the locals a story to give the Sith, just in case. That Sith loyalists attacked the stronghold and took back the ship. The civilians are spared, at least for a little while, the crime lord is dead, and the Sith are none the wiser to our presence in the Outer Rim or on Ryloth."

 

She glanced at the clone, her brow furrowed.

"If you're confident in your men, we can leave them inside a cargo container as a hidden surprise. Have them hit the pirates from inside as we slip back in. For all intents and purposes though, this is our recon. Get in, look around, make the deal, get out until we're ready to come back and kill the scum."

 

She climbed onto the speeder bike, looking at the otehrs. "Jude's got the comm frequency. Patch into that and we'll talk as we go."

She hit the thrusters, and the speeder hummed to life, shooting off into the distance.

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The dust kicked up and Jude flinched away, he grinned widely as he looked over to the others. "Freq is One-Three-Three tack Seven; Try to keep up!" He let out a loud, bellied laugh as he zipped off after Azael.

 

The wind in his face was exhilarating, if space was his sea then the desert plains were a raging river. Twisting and turning, zipping through canyons and over rocky dunes. There was no matching the freedom between the stars, but the rush and finesse of speeder travel had no rival. He couldn't hide the childish smile for even a second in the excitement. He let out woops of thrill as the speeder jumped along the ground; He could never get used to it, and could never get enough of it.

 

Up ahead in the distance he could make out Azael's scouting point, though just a dot on the horizon he knew he was catching up fast. Gradually he let off the throttle, letting his own speeder slow to a stop next to hers. The plume of dust caught up to him as he killed the whining engine. He reached into the saddle and retrieved a rangefinder before making his way over to the lookout.

 

They had set up on a tall hill, overlooking the compounds main gate. It seemed quiet enough, but there was surely someone, or something looking back.

 

Jude felt a little uneasy, like someone was staring daggers into the back of his head. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment. letting the practiced training overtake him. A façade took over him, his face contorted, taking the appearance of a grizzled veteran, he had a thousand-yard stare when he opened his eyes; so focused and unflinching, his shoulders rolled up and forward, he was already big, but nothing shouted merc like looking bigger.

 

He wasn't himself, and that made him ready.

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When the group took off Tilt revved up the speeder before shooting off into the distance. It had been a while since he drove anything like a speeder, so his initial launch almost landed him against the wall. Quickly avoiding the object the instructions and experience slowly came back as he got his grip on the bike better. Tilt was the last one in line and followed the form that was Pryf, quickly gaining on the Jensaarai, guiding the bike through dust and canyon. This was a feeling he enjoyed, a sense of freedom cut short by the thought and nature of their mission. 

 

They were going to eliminate a crime lord. If anything, Riggs and Thumper would be ready for action when it came, and Tilt was none the wiser anything could change. He noticed the speeders parked next to one another, the individuals atop a hill looking out at something. Tilt parked the speeder before making his way up and joining the group, pulling his own Rangefinder and looking over the compound. 

 

"It's quiet down there..." Tilt states quietly, scanning the area before continuing, "Shall we take a closer look?"

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