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Nar Shaddaa - Rebel Alliance Headquarters


Raven Nasra
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If someone had told him, years ago, that he would be standing before the Empress and receiving a medal for something, Jackson wouldn't have believed them. It didn't matter the context of the ceremony, he had always firmly believed that he was far too unimportant and unremarkable for such high attention. Too small, in the grand scheme of things. Not good enough.

 

Even now he could scarcely believe that what was happening wasn't part of his sleep deprived daydreaming, but the weight of the medal was heavy enough to drag his head from the clouds like some grim reminder of what he had done, and what he had failed to do.

 

Theed still burned, after all. There was little he could have done about that, he knew. If he had tried then he would undoubtedly have lost some of the pilots entrusted to his care, but even still. The doubt gnawed and chewed on him like an old friend from his younger-years, and he wasn't sure if he entirely disagreed just yet.

 

He would have to meditate on it, Jackson decided. He resolved himself to pondering over those thoughts, but later. When he had some sleep, maybe, for no more good would come about of resisting the urge much longer. He had already overtaxed himself just getting to Nar Shadaa, and hiding the rest of the pilots the whole while.

 

The Pilot's accommodations found him easily enough, despite the drifting, dreamlike state he had settled into courtesy of the caff supplements he had imbibed. They were admittedly nicer than anything he had aboard his own spartan vessel, though some part of him still ached for that familiarity; for the comfort of his own room and board. They would do for now, he decided, as he floated down onto the bed and promptly succumbed to the sweet whisperings of his new dreams, and the return of his old nightmares.

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She was a mess of bacta bandages and high drip bacta. She could feel every wound despite the Morphines that they had filled her up with on the route back. But she could not afford to let her mind wither away into the painless stupor of unconsciousness. The force moved through her, mixing with the pain, flowing through it, to touch each and every severed nerve, every burn and blister. A conscious healing trance. 

________

 

It was several days before she was able to even sit up in bed, and so she summoned her apprentice to see how he had made off on Naboo. 

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In the coming days Vox had Romulus and Krexis fix their equipment properly with the needed hard-metals, along with finding ways to forge ammunition for their weapons albeit in small bundles at a time. The pair had really outdone themselves and took the needed rest and praise from their Chieftain and his Advisor- the younger brother Equinox, and not only created plenty of spike rounds but also Romulus beginning to come up with newer weapons and solutions to improve their equipment. It was fast with how they worked but regardless it was swift and accomplished progress. 
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Vox and Equinox in the meantime had "borrowed" a data-pad that held some information on planets and locations, and already they had begun to plan ahead themselves. In secret they spoke of building outposts and listening-posts for later use, getting a list of factories and sellers for material. Despite the Empress not being too keen on allowing the Nudono Tribe to grow, Vox didn't care, and since they were involved in a galactic war it would mean that the tribe would need to grow as a while, not just in technology and weaponry. They needed numbers, most importantly they needed more like them or conscripts. 
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And that brought discussion back to Trandosha and the Crested Wilds, their home. Vox still felt it wasn't time to strike back and secure his people, he didn't have a planet mostly void of civilization picked out; his goal to find a place left alone but habitable for his people. That would take time, time that Vox felt was narrowing by the moons, time that he had to fight and keep up with his saber training. Time was close, and the first phase of their plan was about to fruit. 
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Vox was in a discussion with Equinox about politics and where to go from there when a droid entered the room. Immediately both Trandoshans raised their Spiker Carbines at the mechanical thing, and in a fit of panic, the droid quickly spat out it's reasoning for being there. The two lowered their arms and holstered their weapons with Vox standing upright. A sudden skip of a beat in his chest thumped at him, and with his newer master Alcmène being alive... He did want to see her. Of course, that was why the droid was here. 
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Several minutes of following the machine lead the Chieftain to a medical bay and was directed right to the Jedi's bed. There he saw what is a human wrapped up in bandages, and he assumed from that she had either retreated or was recovered in battle. Regardless, he would approach her and said in a low tone, smiling, "I... See you're alive."

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Alcmène laughed, and despite the pain that roiled through her body from the action she managed a smile. 

 

“Yes, alive if barely.” Her eyes closed for a moment and she shunted away the pain with the help of the force. “So tell me of your journey, did the queen escape alive?” Her eyes focused on the medal at his chest and she raised her eyebrows. “I am afraid I have been a worthless master, sending you off alone like that.”

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Vox nodded and knelt beside the bedside, his height making him appear taller... He was taller than possibly everyone else aboard this vessel. His black and tore, latex-like body suit shown metal plates of grey between rips and makeshift sewing, his bashed pinned against a thin chest plate where the fabric was still in decent condition on the right of his chest. The Chieftain did not use the Force for there was no need to, he was honestly tired but concealed it under his visage and attitude. He knew Alcmène was in harsh condition and she was using her power to dull the pain but it was clear not all of it could be afforded. 

 

"The Queen is safe. Our struggles were met and we conquered and overcame. I question the... Fragility of your people's uniform, the armor I mean. They seem to be for appearance and not true protection, we ripped through the Sith units with ease with our..." Vox unholstered his carbine, the only weapon save for his Lightsaber clipped to his body, and hoisted the weapon so that she could see and then clipped it back, "Slugthrowers, as you call them? Still, they seem more effective than your energy blasters. But I am not here to lecture your people of their choice of equipment. Right now, the Queen is with the Empress, and my men are currently at work with equipment and such." 

 

Vox could see the tinge of guilt of Alcmène's face and he furrowed. He then said, "I... Was not informed as to how you came of this condition. I won't ask that of you. You did what was best and your choice of protection to the Queen couldn't have been better picked. You are not worthless, and made the best decision at the time. If it were my choice I would have done the same." 

 

The Chieftain allowed that to sink in, his words were low yet they carried a softness about them. One might take it as pity, with him it was understanding the situation at the time and making the correct call if not close to it. Any other unit would have been swept away by the Sith forces but not Vox's Warriors, in which he carries a pride and with good reason. But he felt a certain question to ask, almost as if being nudged to spit it out. 

 

"I know this is off the subject, but I have a question about the Force. I question the Force. If the Jedi are meant to be guardians why am I guided to war?" Vox looked around to see no one in particular before speaking in a hushed tone, "I am guided to reclaim my people, almost like a signal. I have spoke with Equinox about it, and he assumes that maybe it speaks differently... But when I speak of our tribe I speak of developing it, making our people stronger, spreading influence to aide our allies in battle. I don't understand it, if I am to be a guardian why does the Force guide me to such things? I understand if you are against military or anything of that nature, but I figured I should ask."

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Alcmène could not help but smile. The lizard like trandoshan had grown a lot from when she had first met him, and now he carried himself like one of the grim Imperial Officers that were always wandering the halls. Knowledgeable and over eager to share that knowledge to the benefit and detriment of others. 

 

“Be careful that you do not speak of what you do not know. There is reason in all things even if you do not see it.” She pointed a burned finger towards herself. “We humans are fragile creatures. We do not have scales and brawn to carry us through a hailstorm of slugs and lasers. The clone and imperial stormtrooper with his plastoid armour conquered the entire galaxy. So do not dismiss them too easily. Plastoid itself is kinetic resistant and is designed against the primitive weapons of a million backwater worlds. But…” 

 

She grinned, and with her unbandaged hand wiped at the small trickle of blood that came down from the corner of her mouth. It was a bright red and had originated from her heavily damaged lung tissue.

 

“I am lecturing you on something I should not. I am wounded from my fight with the Sith Lord in charge of the invasion of Naboo. I killed him and tossed him into oblivion but was then ambushed by Mandalorians. Thank you for doing so well Vox.” She shook her head. “Of whom I know we will see more of.” 

 

“As for the force, combat to defend the galaxy and the innocents it holds is not an evil thing. It is our great dignity to sacrifice ourselves for those we love.” She gestured for him to sit. “I come from a martial race as well, I am actually a princess of Outremer. Though not in the direct line for the throne. We are called to a higher purpose than that. We are called to defend the galaxy, we guard the galaxy from threats that would devour it like the Sith. It is a tragedy to kill, to take a life. Except when we are defending others. We do not go on the offense as Jedi. We do not lead great armies into battle and raze enemy planets to the ground. We are above that.” 

 

She shrugged. 

 

“But there will be peace in our lifetimes. And then we must be most vigilant for the darkness resides in each of us.”

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...says to place her in a chair and to allow her to wake on her own. She tends to get violent when startled. Lose the blanket.

 

Much like how one felt clothing as it was donned, Draygo felt the presence of her own body: goosebumps rising with the thrill of an adrenaline rush, a pressing weight on her chest--searing cold that swept through her breastbone.

 

And of immediate significance, the fact that she once again had legs.

 

She gasped cool air into her lungs and her pale-green eyes shot open. Instincts of self-defense compelled her body into motion before conscious thought had an opportunity to take note of her surroundings and guide her actions. She kicked out, flinging a small blanket into the face of a Bothan medtech. He gave a yelp of surprise amid the clatter of falling instruments as he gripped a tray for balance.

 

And then thought had a chance to assert itself. A familiar voice over the overhead speakers suggested that Draygo had been revived at the Alliance base on Nar Shaddaa. The clean, brown robe; the crisp, excessively dry air; the sterile, plasticky garb of the medtechs; all confirmed that she had been recently cloned and her body transported to the recovery ward until flash-learning and the Force-enabled mechanisms of the Jedis cloning apparatus had brought her back to her body.

 

She glanced about wildly. No mud, no rain, no pain--every familiar scar was present, everything was as she was only thirty minutes ago--excluding for her lightsabers, of course. “What the kriff?”

 

_______________

 

A few hours later, Draygo had claimed one of the unused briefing rooms to privately review the more critical reports that had reached her; the Rebel Alliance and Jedi had liberated Mon Calamari, but Naboo had been lost--pulverized by the Sith Empire. Contact lost with Sullust. A distress call from Jedha. Until only a few hours ago, the Grandmaster wasn’t even aware that anyone was still alive on that moon.

 

In the central holographic pit of the briefing room, a suit of plastoid armor cast a man-shaped shadow over the image of the galaxy. It wasn’t the grey clamshell of an Imperial stormtrooper, but the crimson plates of an Imperial Knight’s cuirass and pauldrons. Armor not being standard-issue among the Jedi Order and stormtrooper plate optimized for protection over flexibility, the cuirass would at least provide a useful foundation for her plans. She dragged it towards her and cast a skeptical eye over the armor. The breastplate was at least suitably cast for a woman of her stature--the curvature of the bust and hips was actually somewhat flattering, as though it was designed for court functions as well as combat. That certainly explained the absurd Imperial sigils on the gauntlets and pauldrons, to say nothing of the waxy polish that caused the galactic holomap to reflect on the plastoid like a mirror.

 

It would be a useful foundation, nothing more. A more complete set of armor, forged months in the future--perhaps years--would call for a visit to her forges on Phu. That visit would result in a concave plastoid honeycomb reinforced with a molecular sintering of phrikite alloy, an armored skirt, complete integration with the Jedi Council’s virtual chamber. And wireless access to the HoloNet--that was indispensable.

 

She glanced down at a circuit board below her, around it situated a small collection of capacitors, motion sensors, and superconductive plates of ultrachrome. A larger power cell had already been connected to the circuitry, ready to be rigged to the fingertips of the gauntlets.

 

The other piece of equipment that she had misappropriated from the arsenals of the Imperial Knights was a stokhli spray stick. A meter long and more than twice the weight of a blaster, it would make for an awkward weapon for a Jedi. However, the staff-like weapon was optimized to incapacitate big game at a safe distance; a significant portion of that bulk was occupied by pressure chambers and an oversized focusing nozzle. None of those features were required for point-blank range. Miniaturized versions of that equipment--not dissimilar to hyposprays for subdermal medications--would be sufficient for a range of thirty meters or less.

 

Draygo took a sip of cold caf and grimaced. This first incarnation of the armor would need to be crude. Time had become more precious still, and she could not afford the luxury of spending days completing fine finishes on a suit of plastoid.

 

She began by placing her hands on the suit’s pauldrons and calling to The Force. Breathing deeply, Draygo reached for a power cable from which she had stripped the shielding. The Force shielding her from the vast amount of energy that flowed through the cable, she allowed her body to act as a conduit into the plastoid plate. The pauldrons and gauntlets soon began to warm and deform; the Imperial sigils melted away to conform with the curves of the armor. A brief treatment with a foul-smelling solvent caused the crimson paint to evaporate into acrid mist--only the featureless grey of raw plastoid remained. She breathed deeply despite the fumes, peeling apart the plates with her bare hands to reroute superconducting fibers through the armor’s systems.

 

Armiena next reached for the gauntlets and placed them with their palms facing upwards, and sprinkled a few of the scraps of ultrachrome into their palms. Linking fingers with the gauntlets as though holding hands with another sapient, she allowed that vast store of energy to flow directly into the superconductive metal. Though enormously heat-resistive, the scraps soon glowed red, then white--then began to sag and melt into a puddle of lightsaber-resistive metal. Draygo allowed this puddle to spread over the fingers of the gauntlets and into the wrists. That conductive metal would be critical for allowing the charge from the power cell to course through any dispensed stokhli spray.

 

The rest was merely a matter of routing wires and programming the motion detectors, a routine task that lasted only an hour. After uploading the firmware, the armor was complete--imperfect, as her touch had left finger-sized divots in the pauldrons and gauntlets--and functional. Upon registering a specific gesture, the magazine of stokhli spray in the vambraces would dispense, coating a target up to thirty meters away in the viscous mist. A mere touch of the hardening jelly would transfer a vast amount of energy into the target, potentially incapacitating them.

 

It was crude, ugly, and an unfinished prototype, but it was at least functional. Her equipment completed, Draygo began to transmissions to the other Jedi Temples throughout the galaxy The Sith were on the move again, and a disaster would befall the galaxy if the Jedi could not retaliate against their offensive.

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Alone in a chamber of white with subtle linings of black, the Falcon Insignia standing off to each side of a Chromium desk, stood an elder man gazing out the window onto the streets below. This man, the scar upon his face echoing the horrors he has both wrought and witnessed, stood proudfully with his hands grasping at the cane that hung loosely against the hinds of his legs, silence an ever present companion. And yet, he smiled briefly as a knock came at his door.

 

"Lord Charlemagne..." A voice spoke from just outside as his gaze shifted toward the door. "Your Granddaughter has returned."

 

"See her in." He spoke, his grizzled voice deep and robust, echoing the strictness of his tone. "Prepare some tea."

 

As the voice from outside the door acknowledged the command, the door opened and a small frame appeared from the other side. This young lady, Lady Tay'Lor of House Charlemagne, strolled in silently as her Grandfather remained standing with his back turned toward her as the clatter of her armor and blades announced her arrival. 

 

"How was the Unknown Regions?" He poised as he turned to face her, Lady Tay'Lor kneeling at a distance. Placing cane in front of foot, he came to meet her kneeling and placed a subtle hand upon her armored shoulder. "I am please to see you well."

 

"It was productive, Grandfather." She spoke in return, her gentle voice speaking of her happiness to be back at Nar Shadaa and close to his side. "It brings me joy to see you in good spirits."

 

"Come." He spoke as a servant brought forth and produced a tray of fine china and a heated pot of tea, along with accompaniments as he sat aside an enlongated end table. "Surely my granddaughter is famished."

 

Tay'Lor stood, her gaze having not met his eyes yet, as she took seat across from him at the other end of the enlongated end table and accepted the cup of tea that was poured for her. "Thank you Grandfather."

 

Silence took hold once again in what most outsiders would consider awkward and unappealing. But for as long as Tay'Lor could remember, this is how it has always been in the presence of Lord Den'Zai. Very few words have been spoken between the two, especially since his arrival at Nar Shadaa and the annexation of the Core Worlds with the destruction of Coruscant. But words were rarely needed, as the moments they had shared were always memorable in their own little ways. As the two sat in the silence, they simply enjoyed the company of one another as tea was drank and the accompaniments were ate.

 

Rising from her seat, Taylor bowed as Lord Den'Zai rose to meet hers, briefly raising her from her bow and embracing his granddaughter in earnest affection instead of the usual formality. "Truly, Granddaughter, it is good to see you."

 

Shocked as she was, Lady Tay'Lor smiled and returned the embrace before pushing herself off, briefly meeting his gaze with her own as a smile adorned her face. "I know Grandfather. I am happy to see you as well." She spoke as she turned away and made her way to the exit, servants cleaning up behind them as she made her departure. As the door shut, Lord Den'Zai smiled, turning back to the pouring rain as it came down outside and went back to his view.

 

For Lady Tay'Lor, though, as the door shut, her face went back to his usual stern gaze. For she was an Imperial Soldier in the service of the Empress Raven Nasra of Zinthos and moments like these were rare and few. For someone of the Charlemagne family, this came with Honor and Pride to be upheld, especially as a member of the Imperial Knights. Due to this singular fact, the eyes of the Imperium were always upon her, even on this world.

 

And only Lord Den'Zai had stood beside her after her choice. For him, it wasn't about mystics or military. This was his Granddaughter. For him, her choice to use her gifts in service of the Empire brought him more pride in her than any honor could bestow. He only hoped the rest of the family would one day feel and see the same. It didn't matter the calling, as long as his heirs were as true to themselves as they were to their name. That is what has always brought honor to House Charlemagne. That was the meaning of Gladius adversus Tyrannidem, and it ran as deep as one's heart. 

 

The only downside is that he rarely got to see her as of late, and with the Galaxy at war, he dreaded the worst possible outcome of her missions. He feared receiving the word of her death at the hands of the Sith.

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Vox listened as Alcmène spine and he understood her point. His kind were completely vacant from the Galaxy, let alone being a, "Primitive," People compared to even the basic marksman. Granted he still judged a little, and he saw where the woman was coming from. So long have they gone unnoticed until now however Vox knew his people would be viewed as bounty hunters or mercenaries. 
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The Chieftains smiled faded however as he realized the severity of the woman's wounds. He had genuine compassion at least as he looked her up and down and noticed the trickle if blood wiped away. 
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"I do not think that the Sith would learn that lesson, if they were wise they should back down. I am to understand you were wounded before fighting these... Manto-lobian? They must be hardened warriors to take on Jedi as yourself." Vox said, making light of the situation as he stood and sat down in a chair. 
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He meant it light, but Vox had a gut feeling these, "Mandolorians," were tougher than the average warrior. His kind could easily throw around enemies during heavy fire, they were well adapted to combat and strive to be the best whilst the Chieftain and his brothers kept the warrior's arrogance and attitudes in line. They weren't mindless beasts, mind you, rather talented hunters who can handle a few shots and broken bones and bloody knuckles. Vox's mind then drifted to Naboo when Alcmène thanked him, and he shook his head. 
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"I understand your words. I had not known you were of a hierarchy, but... One thing I do question, speaking of which. As I have stated before I have a responsibility to my people, even if I train as a Jedi, they need tending to as I do not yet trust anyone to control them..." Vox stopped his sentence as if to think if the right thing to say, "My... People, my soldiers and tribe are stubborn as to who leads them, who represents them. I do not wish to alarm you, but my warriors follow me wherever I go and I do wish to change a few... Things with the way we are. Naturally, we are conflict to "peace" driven, emotional people who take pride in each other as well as our culture. 
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I can find a way to balance between being Chieftain and Jedi, and I strive for my people to know peace once more, perhaps beyond than what we were. I will learn to become more a guardian and to preserve that the best I can in the Jedi interest, as well as protect life, but I wish not make promises. My question is now, what am I to do now? Do I continue to rest, or perhaps you have a mission?"
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Vox's words were true in that his people were a subject to bring up. Whatever happens later in the line he does not know, nor when he'll go to bring the tribe back to a salvageable status. It was a twist of a turn to change subjects like that but he felt that addressing it was better now than anything. Best to say something in a relaxing time than during stressful engagement. 

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Several minutes later, Armiena Draygo sat on the top of the curved dome of the Red and Black. She had wandered into the city of the Smuggler’s Moon for a brief period, barely more than an hour. That was time enough to watch the city, to really watch it, to expose herself to the roiling waves of sapient energy that coursed from the moon-spanning city. It was all the drama of sapient existence: greed, lust, envy, pride, rage. It was the blazing life-light of billions of sapients who believed that their entire life was them and their mate against the rest of the universe. Despite all the contest, so many of the humans and hominids and countless unrecognizable species that she passed believed that their existence had some greater purpose; that their life was contributing to the betterment of the galaxy.

 

It was a world of fleeting, momentary existence. Nar Shaddaa might have been a grimy hive of corruption, questionable construction standards, and bad memories that its denizens had escaped, but she found it beautiful.

 

Draygo quietly watched the flickering lights of airspeeders and sun-shining glow of advertisement glowpanels, devouring a flatbread that she had purchased while clearing her head. It was one of those unhealthy, dripping sandwiches that inevitably left a saucy mess on one’s fingertips, packed with heavily-processed, greasy meat and a few sad scraps of cheap vegetables. It was delicious.

 

It was in this state that Draygo pondered the reports that had flooded in regarding the Sith offensive in the Outer Rim. The remaining Jedi Temples across the galaxy confirmed: no Sith forces were within the range of detection of their early warning systems. In fact, there was no sign of a military build-up anywhere within the Galactic Core, or even the Colonies. The entirety of the Sith offensive seemed to be dedicated to prosecuting the war in the Outer Rim. Contact lost with Felucia. Naboo had fallen--Theed and other cities had been flattened, either reduced to rubble by a de-orbiting kinetic weapon or strafed indiscriminately by starfighters. The objective seemed to be to create a statement rather than a staging point--and a planet of billions of sapients was the necessary cost for this manifesto of terror.

 

Even with the planet in ruins, taking Naboo meant that the Sith now had a site that would allow them to safely muster forces for an attack on Nar Shaddaa. By any reasonable metric, they had achieved most of their objectives--save for reducing the most significant bastion of Rebel activity in the galaxy. Defending this location could be achieved, but would inevitably result in the destruction of millions of lives and a potentially irreversible loss of faith in the Rebel Alliance and Jedi Order. The cost could make even a successful defense of dubious value. That was a strategic decision that Draygo was not prepared to make on her own.

 

The Jedi Grandmaster slid down the grand slope of the headquarters’ roof and cushioned her fall with a minute application of a barrier. Once inside the headquarters, her passage drew little attention. Having discarded her robes for ordinary plastoid armor that lacked even the characteristic crimson paintjob and Imperial sigils of the Empress’ Knights, there was little to identify the woman as a Jedi--at the moment, she didn’t even have a lightsaber at her waist. Her appearance was so incongruous with that of a Jedi Master that, upon entering the Empress’ staff offices, Zinthos’ secretary only stared in mild confusion when the armored woman bowed to the secretary.

 

“Please tell her Highness that the Jedi Grandmaster must speak with her.” Realization dawned on the functionary’s face. The man half-stood and made an awkward attempt at returning the bow while still sitting. “It is a matter of critical importance.”

 

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“My lady…” 

 

The blind inquisitor made a steep bow before Raven, who returned the bow with a polite nod of her head. The Imperial Remnant’s Empress stood and adjusted her uniform which was a dark black admiral’s uniform. THe left breast of which was covered in the thin lines of campaign badges, dating back to before the galactic alliance. The battle of Coruscant, the battle of the spire, The Sith Trinity’s raid at Gala, Csilla, then the last Death Star. Symbols of a long and bitter career. The marks of a long and dreadful defeat. A mark of the work that had been put in to build this Rebel Alliance. A place where long enemies had become friends. 

 

But there was honour written in the long lines of ribbons, the honour of an Idea. An Empire of conscience. An egalitarian autocracy. A place of peace for a galaxy that had seen nothing of it in a decade. She adjusted the black glove that fit over her prosthetic arm, a gift from her old master during the reign of the Sith Lords. A gift for which she had paid dearly. 

 

“Please show her in.” 

 

The Imperial knight bowed again and opened the sliding door. And Raven curtsied in the imperial fashion before extending her hand in greeting. The woman was wearing Knight armour which gave made Raven’s eyebrows raise in confusion. 

 

“Welcome Grandmaster, it is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

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Pretender to the Galactic Throne

Leader of the Rebel Alliance

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The discomfort was written on Draygo’s face through her utter lack of expression. On one hand, the exiled Empress was young--close in age to her own son--and an heir to the depraved government that had hounded her entire adult life. On the other… Zinthos had been one of the two young officers who had overstepped her own authority to signal the fateful cease-fire at the Third Death Star. There clearly was some significant imagination within that mind--or at least, some humanity. She was clearly a dangerous woman, a judgment that the Jedi Grandmaster could make without trepidation.

 

“Your highness.” Draygo responded in Jedi fashion, bowing just a little deeper than was her habit to allow her black hair to fall around her face. She rose and approached to shake the younger woman’s hand. The Jedi’s appearance was indeed unorthodox. Even if she had strippped the plastoid plate of crimson paint and melted away the Imperial sigils, the cut of the armor was unmistakable as a product of the Knights’ armories. The faint scent of paint thinner that wafted vaguely from the armor hinted that this suit was a recent acquisition.

 

“If only this meeting could have happened under less urgent circumstances.” Draygo just stood before the Empress for a second. “Managing” the Empress, she decided, would be a mistake. Better to be blunt. “With the recent loss of Naboo, there is every reason to believe that the Sith Empire is preparing for an attack on Nar Shaddaa as we speak. Our situation is not untenable, but a battle above this world will become a delicate matter. The cost is likely to be incalculable...

 

...but it may hold unexpected opportunities.”

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She smiled and ignored the dribble of blood that ran down the side of her mouth. Dripping silently on the white linen. 

 

“Yes I was able to defeat a Sith Lord before I was ambushed by the Mandalorians. But let me answer the crux of your question. A jedi cannot have two masters. I am a princess of my people but one who is absent her tiara.” She lifted a bandaged arm and gestured towards the window. “My people are here with the Rebel Alliance, but I am not there for them because I serve the Jedi Order. If you are made a knight you will be asked to give up your rule of your people. A jedi’s place is not to rule, it is to be a steward. While you can be there to help your clan you cannot lead them and be a Jedi as well.” 

 

This was a very tough thing to hear she had no doubt, but the man needed to hear it. 

 

“In the short of it, you must prepare to give up being a chieftain. You need to meditate on that question and consult your friends in the clans. Once you have your answer come back to me and make your decision.”

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Vox was quiet even after Alcmène finished. What he understood of the matter were that Jedi are guardians, protectors of life and keepers of peace to some extent. He agreed with that internally however what kept him quiet was he felt an accusation was thrown at him. The Trandoshan represented his people, not the other way around, when Alcmène said, "A jedi cannot have two masters," and, "A Jedi's place is not to rule, but be a steward." At first he took this as an offense in this manner, however he wasn't without reason. 
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The Nudono Chieftain has lived a simple and harsh life, both that made him completely loyal to his people while learning from his father. If he so desired, he could have left his tribe like he did long ago, but that didn't stop anyone from following. That didn't stop any of his people from asking guidance, in a sense, he was a shepherd of their kind meant to guide to a better place since their peace was shattered on Trandosha. And it was the knife that stabbed Vox in the heart, he accidentally opened that gate to the Force without thinking much on, that he needed to decide. While he wanted to say no, something told him to become a Jedi Knight. 
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'You're people will still know you for who you are, Bloodstorm.' Vox heard the voice in his head... Almost sounding of his... No, it wasn't perhaps, but it was closer to the truth.  
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'These things will work themselves out, and in the end you'll still be valued by our people as not a ruler, but as a leader, a living example. Do not let your emotions or even your logic control you, just feel yourself, and make the right choice."
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Vox never became a leader, Chieftain,  because he wanted to. He did it out of necessity, as he always felt his place was not to rule as Alcmène stated, but to be a Steward, someone who helps keep order, someone who is there for the people. His disappointment and slowly rising anger gradually dissipated as he allowed the Force to soothe him once more, the emotions lingering off until nothing was left. What seemed like minutes for the lizard were only seconds of silence. Vox understood his goal, and knew what decision to make. 
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Vox stood at full height, a few years and rips of the latex-like suit sounding from around his body as it couldn't contain its own damage let alone the individual wearing it. Vox bowed to Alcmène, and said, "Then I will notify my brothers and explain this to them. Once I am done, I will return for further guidance."
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Vox bowed again before leaving, that disappointment still lingered to some extent but in it's place came resolution and understanding. His place was never to be a Chieftain, even before the gates of the Force were open he had an instinct that ruling wasn't his call. He would be a leader in some capacity, and while he would no longer, "Rule," his people, Vox knew this was the only other option. He could have declined and gone about his business and in that sense he would be throwing away an opportunity to serve a greater purpose and his tribe. It was not an easy choice, his mind was made up now, and already Vox wouldn't hear the end of it from his brothers, especially Chaox. Vox Bloodstorm felt that becoming a Jedi was the right choice, but it wouldn't take away from guiding his people, especially his brothers to a better tomorrow. 

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There was a bitterness there that Raven could feel deep within herself. They were both survivors of the long galactic war of Raven’s childhood, and each carried the weight of that war. The grandmaster through her hardset stern expression and gentle lines of age. Raven through her own wounds. A blaster burn in the stomach from Coruscant, a long thin line in her scalp from Piccolo’s vibrosword over the Death Star. But they both carried scars from the most recent wars. The slight twitching in Raven’s biological hand betrayed the intense nerve damage from Sith and Black Sun interrogation. An interrogation the Jedi had fought to rescue her from. 

 

Upon reflection. They had more in common than Raven had originally thought. Draygo and Kirlocca were the last remaining Jedi from the era of Starlisk, Durron, and Ara-Lai. While Raven and her Moffs were the last Imperials from the days of Dark, Dagon, and Phillep. A people who could never have imagined that they would be walking arm in arm into a brighter future. Or at least that was the great hope of this Rebel Alliance. So in that reflection she smiled. A smile that very quickly died at the grandmaster’s news. 

 

“It was only a matter of time.” 

 

They had operated in the open for years out of this backwater world which they had brutally freed from slavers. And such a thing could only escape the Dark Lord’s eye for so long. 

 

“I trust your wisdom Grandmaster. You have my fleet and the resources that the imperial side of the Alliance can muster. We will begin the evacuation of the central government and the schools immediately. Followed by the refugees.”

 

It would have to be orderly, otherwise the Sith would know of their panic and exploit it.

 

“Do we have worlds that can take refugees?” There was one, the Bastion, that had been unfound by the Sith in the midst of old Remnant space. “And if you can tell me of these opportunities that you foresee, I am sure my Knights would be most interested.”

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Pretender to the Galactic Throne

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For a second, Armiena Draygo chewed on her lower lip like a schoolchild and her eyes grew distant. Potentially every outpost the Jedi held was within striking distance of the Sith armada. The only sure defense would be secrecy--and there was only one outpost that Draygo was absolutely certain had not been scouted.

 

Phu.” That was likely a planet that the Empress had never heard of. Draygo tossed her portable holoprojector onto the desk between them, and a galactic map flickered to life in the air. A yellow-orange star pulsed amidst the white glo “During the last war, I had established a secret base there. It was intended to be a refuge of last resort, in the event of final catastrophe. Not even the Jedi Council knew about it. I am almost certain that the Sith will not know of it. It is a veritable fortress… but it will not be able to support millions of refugees for long. There is also our praxeum on Ossus, and… perhaps Gala.”

 

Finally, Draygo sat before the Empress and steepled her fingers. “However, I am skeptical that we will be able to evacuate a substantial portion of Nar Shaddaa’s population before the attack comes. We will need to prioritize our efforts to the vicinity of The Red and Black and the orbital shadow of the SpaceWorks. What we can do is make this battle a disaster for the Sith Order.

 

“I believe that there has been a significant change at the highest levels of the Sith Order. A new Dark Lord, perhaps. Their attack on Felucia was very confused, as though a portion of the Sith had not accepted their commander’s legitimacy. There is also the uncharacteristic brutality of their attack on Naboo--Theed reduced to ruins, major spaceports wiped off the map… it was not The Spider who led that attack.

 

“My suspicion is that this new Dark Lord may lack the full support of the Order. They have been making statements, not conquests, wasting resources on battles that have gained them nothing but wreckage. If the Sith were to be drawn into a quagmire on Nar Shaddaa--worse, one that resulted in Nar Shaddaa’s industries being ruined by combat--that could be a disaster for the Sith. All of the destruction, all of the waste, and none of the opportunity that the Sith crave.”

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As she exited the complex where Lord Den'Zai had come to call home, the rain outside began to let up and drizzle. Stepping out into it on her way to headquarters, a hidden smile still crept across her heart beneath the somber expression adorning her face. Lord Den'Zai had been the only accepting one within House Charlemagne of her choice to serve as an Imperial Knight under Lady Kyrie, a chance to use the gifts she had been granted in the services of her former CO, Empress Raven Nasra. Something more than a simple Officer, she could now meet the enemy with equal footing. And in her heart, that was the truest of honors.

 

But like the dying rain, it was a bittersweet moment reflected in the puddles beneath her feet as she made her solemn trek to report in. Alsakan, House Charlemagne, her home, all now bore the embrace of the Sith Empire and it's grip. As the guiding planet upon the Axis, it was one of the first effected by Hesperidium and Coruscant as the Mandalorians and Sith took claim of the Core Worlds. Even if her family could change their minds, Lord Den'Zai and herself was completely excommunicated and cut off from any contact with them. It had been months since they had even heard whispers of their fate. And it saddened her heart so.

 

But as a Noble member of Imperial Society, as a member of her Lady Empress's Imperial Knights, she could not show such sorrow. Her face was to always remain neutral to outside world no matter what laid within her heart. That was the price of being Noble. Honor before Glory, Blade against Tyranny. That was her path. That was her purpose.

 

Turning into headquarters at the Red and Black, the shine of her Imperial Insignia reflected in the light of it's entrance as she stepped into its recycled air from the fresh smell of rain, her muave hair frizzled from the humidity in the air and wet from the droplets that adorned her crown. Ahead of her was Lady Cassandra @Raven Nasra at her desk, the blind Compatriot and Second in Command only to the Empress herself as she stopped short of the chairs before her and gave a sharp salute with the clicking of her heels.

 

"Knight Tay'Lor Charlemagne reporting in from the Unknown Regions, ma'am." Tay'Lor spoke swift and brisk, a soft tone escaping her narrow form as her gaze stared forward with formality and she presented her report. "All is quiet and calm in the Redoubt."

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Raven shook her head, a single strand of dark hair coming undone from her braid with the gesture. Which she furtively tucked back behind her ear before tapping one of the medals on her chest. It was made of a dark metal, three red lines running through the eight pointed star. A battle mark, and one of the most shameful moments of her short career as a Sith apprentice. 

 

“Not Gala.” 

 

Her eyes told the story more than her words. The last act as an apprentice to a jealous master. The defeat and murder of a Jedi Knight. A crime which she had been pardoned for in the aftermath of the Last Death Star battle. As had many young surviving imperial officers in the ranks of Deton’s fallen empire. But the fight still haunted her, a thing unforgiven, and something she would take to her grave. Much like her cybernetic arm. A reason to never touch the living force again. 

 

“My lady…Grandmaster” She said, her voice taking the dark tone of emotion. “We cannot gamble with lives. The Red and Black will fall. The spaceworks as well. But we cannot pretend that falling starships will not affect the cityscape. Should they bring the Black Scarab into orbit and we have the luck and force to destroy it?” 

 

Such a thing could break the moon in half. And kill the millions of inhabitants before they even got a chance to see an explosion. 

 

“I suggest we keep the fighting over Nal Hutta, let the debris fall to that rotten and uninhabited world. Not in orbit of Nar Shaddaa. We should strike where they are weakest, but please let us spare the moon. Alive in the captivity of the enemy is better than death. At least for the innocents moonside." 

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That was a rather profound emotional response. Had Zinthos been part of one of the Sith Empire’s many raiding parties against the Republic’s presence on Gala? The Jedi Grandmaster couldn’t place her face amongst any of the Sith--or Imperials--who had invaded the world. Of course, Zinthos might have been ten years old if they’d had an opportunity to meet there. For her part, Draygo had been far more preoccupied with the likes of Vladimir Faust, Kakuto Ryu, a pair of resourceful Sith sorcerers, and a wound that should have been fatal.

 

Draygo just nodded. Her lips thinned as she thought on a similar incident involving a crashing Star Destroyer. “You speak of Admiral Slaughter’s actions above Coruscant.” She fell silent for a few seconds.

 

“If you are absolutely determined to delay an invasion of this moon without significant loss of life, I can see one strategy to divert their attention. That is to make even approaching Nar Shaddaa so hazardous that the Sith will have no choice but to turn their attention towards your fleets. 

 

“As I understand it, this moon has a significant orbital debris field that complicates ingress from a number of attitudes. It is within our capabilities to exploit this terrain feature. Safer approaches to the atmosphere can be mined. Others can be rendered unnavigable by converting some of the larger pieces of debris into kinetic-kill weapons. All that would be required is a rudimentary guidance system and a sublight engine. No commander would conduct minesweeping operations with a hostile fleet at its back, and only a few near-collisions would be required before the Sith would be forced to regard an invasion as an untenable prospect."

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Cassandra let a smile creep over her face as she felt the Imperial Knight approach. She had long known of this knight, as she was one of the few adopted ‘aliens’ the imperials had put through their rigorous school. She stood, keeping her hands on her desk and let the smile show through her normally impassive visage. 

 

“Welcome home Knight Charlemagne.” She gestured towards the chair opposite the desk, inviting the woman to sit. “Tell me more of the Redoubt. Thoug hI am sure it will be in your full report I would still like to hear it personally.”  

 

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Cassandra Vinalian - Imperial Paladin -  Champion for Empress Raven Nasra

 

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Raven tapped the obsidian countertop with a gloved finger. There was no reason to bring up the atrocities that she had seen as a child. Those same atrocities that had motivated her to join the military and subsequently the Sith order during the reign of what she had considered a “good man” Emperor. An emperor that had died early enough in his tenure that she had never seen the results of what a good person in charge of an Empire could be like. So in the wake of the disastrous reign of the Galactic Alliance, she had decided to become that good empress. And how had it fared? The Remnant had been there for the remains of the Galactic Alliance military and the Jedi Order to flee to. 

 

But still this was not the time for this. The next few weeks would make or break their rebel alliance. The only question was how many innocents would die for their chance to break the Sith Empire. 

 

“I do not speak of Admiral Slaughter who has long ago earned my respect. He remains one of the few competent fleet commanders to survive the collapse of the Galactic Alliance. He and my own Admirals will be in charge of this operation.” 

 

She looked up from her desk to the older woman. Deciding a little humility and openness was better than a false front. 

 

“This operation will make or break us. There is no in between. Either we win or we loose. I know we do not stand on the same side ideologically, but I want to thank you for being here. It means a great deal. I put my full trust in your plans.”

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Pretender to the Galactic Throne

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Lady Tay'Lor stood firm and stiff, her gaze as the forefront with a crisp salute even as the blind Miralukian stood with a smile adorning her face and spoke frankly to her. Lady Cassandra had always been an adoration for Lady Tay'Lor since her arrival to the Imperial Remnant with Lady Kyrie, a soft but firm idol for another 'alien' amongst the Imperialist Houses who sought to do all she could for the Empire and Empress Raven. Between the two, they were the reason she sought to be trained as an Imperial Knight, Lady Cassandra more so.

 

When Lady Cassandra offered the seat, Tay'Lor lowered her salute and let her form rest at ease before tucking the robes of her uniform under her as she sat, lower her head in respect and thanks as she did. As her voice echoed her questions, Tay'Lor responded appropriately.

 

"Relations with the Chiss Ascendency is beginning to ease in its tensions.." Her voice though soft, also carried a frank tone, one that one would expect in a formal briefing. "Though the Ambassador states that their fears of the Sith turning their war machine upon them have not waned, recent losses at the hands of the Rebellion have been noticed."

 

Tay'Lor lifted her gaze toward the Miralukian with a confused stare.

 

"To be frank, Lady Cassandra, I'm not sure why a Bailiff like myself was assigned this duty instead of a Warden.." Tay'Lor's voice echoed of her confusion, but spoke freely with a sense of pride. "But the Chiss Ambassador seems to have taken a shine to me and our unorthodox ways where non-human relations are concerned. He was surprised that I was an Imperial Knight given their history with the previous Empire."

 

Her mind briefly remembers the hardships she faced as an Officer under Emperor Deton, and the ease she found under Raven Nasra as her Commanding Officer. It was the reason that she, and Lord Den'Zai, chose to have House Charlemagne follow her as Empress. It was a debt that could never be truly repaid.

 

"That being said..." There was a hint of disappointment in her voice as she changed the subject back to the matter at hand. "I don't believe our relationship with the Chiss Ascendency will bare any fruit until we've gained a larger foothold in the Galaxy. The Sith Empire holds too large of one for any to find a semblance of comfort to aid us, and they fear the repercussions of allying with us."

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Whatever emotions he had during the fleet battle over Korriban was long gone by the time he arrived back at Nar Shaddaa. As he looked out of the viewport of Guiscard as it slowly made its way towards position over the planet. The rest of his command fleet slowly drifted into limping spots across the spacelanes above the planet. The rest of whatever happened seemed a blur, as Beck found himself walking down a landing ramp into the main headquarters. He looked around upon entering the building and felt a slight twinge of disgust that he was not saluted by the officers posted at the door, but before he could even say a word, Captain Isiah quickly cut in front of him, blocking any sight outside of his own figure. "I'll have them reprimanded for their lack of procedure later. Right now I am not sure what sort information has reached you enroute back from Korriban- and holy hell, you look like you need caf."

 

Beck startled slightly at the last phrase. He was not expecting it, but he did indeed need it. "I'll take caf as soon as you can get it to me. I take it something has come, something always comes up." The Admiral lifted his hand to let Isiah lead him inwards to where he wanted to lead his commanding officer. Many within his own command upper officers understood his need for precision and procedures to be followed. Isiah was one who knew such things, but also broke them regularly. But somehow always found a way to not find the firm side of punishment from Beck. For some odd reason, he found this entertaining. "Well sir, all of command looks on edge so far, and those coming back, like yourself look like... well... you. Tired and worn out. Must have been some battle." The younger lad, dark skin with bright green eyes flashed a look towards someone and requested caf to be delivered to command center. Beck continued on following the Captain, wishing he would have had some time to jump into a refresher. 

 

"Not much to tell, at least not in my state. The report has already been sent in to Empress Head of State Raven. After we get some down time, I'll tell you all about it. Next time I should give you a command spot of one of our cruisers. But until then, what can you tell me about the state here currently..." Beck's own words drifted off as he looked at a General walking towards the mess hall, looking all sorts of battle ready. "Intelligence must have cracked something from the looks of it..."

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When Vox arrived back at his quarters he saw Equinox looking over a data-pad that certainly wasn't his. Romulus was in the corner on the bottom bunk of a bed piecing back together a blaster that certainly wasn't his. And Krexis... Was the only one who didn't have a stolen item, instead he was sharpening a machete. Equinox looked upward and already Vox had a feeling his younger brother would press forward with questions. Nosy bastard, always questioning everything, but it didn't help that Vox had a worrying expression.
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"So, what's going on now?" Equinox set down the data-pad and crossed his arms. 
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Vox looked around the room and allowed the door to slide shut behind him. It was a difficult task to confront himself and what words he'll speak without angering anybody the Trandoshans here. He knew them all to well and his people were stubborn. Very, very stubborn and proud. Vox sighed and told Equinox everything that was said, from his decision to making up one when he went on to his younger twins. 
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Equinox remained quiet for several minutes. He stared hard into Vox's eyes as of trying to find within his older brother a real reason for any of it. But when it seemed he was finished he toon his turn to sigh. Romulus gathered with the duo and Krexis remained sitting to the side, but by now he set aside his weapon and paid more attention to the Chieftain and his Advisor. Vox didn't have to use the Force to feel out Equinox's emotions nor did he even need to ask. 
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"Alright... So you relinquish your title as, "Ruler," as that woman puts it, and you are going on to become this... What, Knight of sorts?" Equinox shook his head, "Vox-" 
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Vox quickly interrupted knowing well where this was heading, "I do not give up my role of guiding and leading our people, Equinox, as a representative and a mentor of sorts. This is the decision I must make, for if I do not it would be a waste. It can be an opportunity for us to not only become part of a wider realm but opens up our chances to make our clans and tribe larger and stronger, if you do wish to view it as that. It gives us a chance to not dissipate amongst the large crowds of civilizations, it can give us opportunity to help others as well and aid the way people view us. Think on it, we have three major factions that could easily wipe us from the map, would you risk that especially after what the Black Clo- Sith, did?" 
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Vox's point was there and it made Equinox sit back in thought. Truth be told, Vox going down a light path was bound to be difficult. He was in-tuned with nature but he felt it so long ago since he reconnected with nature itself. And this was as he said, opportunity. In his mind, Vox was planning steps five through fifteen for their people and wasted no time with petty squandering. This was larger than himself, this was for his people and a better life for all of them, and hopefully for his brothers as well. 
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Equinox again stated hard at Vox then replied, "Very well... I suppose we can work something out... Give me time to come up with something for our people and ourselves. There is a lot to consider unfortunately, this will require Chaox's discussion as well." 
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Vox nodded as he stood up and started for the door, "Very well. I'm sorry it comes to this point, I don't think it could have gone any other way." 
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The Chieftain- the Jedi apprentice exited the room, making his way back to the medical ward. It was a lot to take in and digest, while Vox had a feeling he would be tending to the Jedi he also knew that would perhaps clash with his goals for his tribe. Well, however they decide, the Nudono won't be a tribe anymore and instead he had hoped it could become larger than that. He wasn't too certain of their expansion but he hoped for the best. He wasn't sure how his father, Paradox, would have reacted. 
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Entering the medical room Alcmène was in,
Vox approached the bedside of the Jedi woman, "It is done. My brothers and I will discuss the situation later, dissolving the titles of Chieftain and its following ranks is a tough decision as it has been our way for eons. However in order for my people as a whole to survive in the Galaxy I understand the changes that come with it. And as such, I relinquish the role Chieftain." 
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Vox fell silent as he allowed his own words to flow outward, this was a difficult task alone but it was done, there was no turning back, "What would you have me do?" 

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If Nasra had been a Jedi--or had not diverted from her training to dedicate herself to the equally admirable pursuit of politics--she probably would have detected an undercurrent of fear in Draygo’s Force-Presence. The breath held by the Jedi Grandmaster, her unnatural stillness, her uncharacteristic formality, might have been clues enough for a Force-blind individual. It wasn’t fear for her own life; rather, fear of failure, fear that her son might have to live under the banners of the resurgent Sith Empire.

 

“I will send the necessary authorization codes to your Imperial Knights so they are able to access the facility on Phu. The evacuation of the civilian government should begin as soon as possible.” Draygo paused and let out a breath. “In the case our fleet is not able to repulse the Sith, this location will soon become untenable--most likely leveled by orbital bombardment or a kinetic-kill weapon like the one deployed at Naboo. Any reserves and excess munitions should be relocated, either throughout the fleet or reserve locations in the lower levels of the city-scape. 

 

“I suppose this is where I am obliged to advise that you may be more valuable to the Rebel Alliance alive, rather than brave and dead.” Draygo flashed a smile to the younger woman, suspecting what the answer of the Empress-in-exile would be. “That would be an exercise in futility, wouldn’t it?”

 

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Alcmene hissed a breath through her nostrils as she slowly stood from her hospital bed. A look down at her bare legs told the story of military medicine that had been roughly grafted with Jedi or Knight healing techniques. Her wounds were mostly healed, but her legs still felt the weakness. Nerves could sometimes be regrown, but the therapy required could take months, if not weeks.  But the force told her there was much less time than that. The Feeling of the city around the Red and Black had gotten more dour. A pall of fear, the unnamed fear of conquest. 

 

She wrapped a new red tunic about her and turned to see her apprentice entering the doorway. She could feel his resolve but also his pain from the decision he had made. 

 

“Now we train. I am proud of your decision.” 

 

She pulled on her belt and walked haltingly towards the training room. When they arrived, she selected two training sabers from the hall’s extensive selection and passed one to the Trandoshan. 

 

“While our lives are not purely about combat, at least for the foreseeable future it is unwise to approach the galaxy without a saber.” 

 

She flicked hers on, and a bright white blade appeared. 

 

“Now let yourself reach into the force. Let it become one with you, and let the blade become and extension of the force. Then when you are ready, let it guide you to attack me.” 

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Once inside the palisade that made up the perimeter of the joint Rebel-Imperial Remnant-Jedi base of operarions, Frond shuffled up the road. They were still busy with people, the gates open to the public. This time; however there were more military persons moving with a sense of purpose. No longer were people ambling, but they marched or scurried about with their eyes directed forwards towards their targets. Chatter was at a minimum. Preparation was in full swing. As such, a shambling biped, like Frond, drew hardly a second glance outside of casual stared of annoyance as he impeded the hurried flow of war.

 

Within the shadows of the towering buttresses that made up the homes of the Jedi and some Imperial Knights, the ancient Neti stopped. He looked upwards, remembering his brief time with the Jedi, what he had learned, what he had lost, before he spoke to himself. His voice was low and quiet, yet it carried to any that passed near enough to hear it. Stones upon the sea, thrown never to be  retrieved, I need a new blade.” Frond looked upwards, pondering how best he could procure a sacred Jedi weapon. He had a duty to these people; not the militants or the revolutionaries, no he owed it to the displaced and downtrodden, the people tormented by this war through no choice of their own. He was a Mind Walker, but more than that. He was not a Jedi.

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Cassandra stared at the Knight, her visor taking everything in, with an impassive gaze. Her fingers drumming steadily on the datapad’s keypad, whose keys had the strange raised edges of a blind person’s datalink. 

 

“We sent you on this mission because it was something that you struggled in. Did you learn any lessons in your time among the Chiss?” 

 

This was not a leading question or a damning one, just a passive question that was offset by a slight smile that crept into the side of her mouth. 

 

“The Chiss do what suits them the most, as they have always done. Nokrt taught them that, as did the last dozen or so dark lords. I do not anticipate them crawling from their defended space no matter if the heavens fell. Like beasts they shy from the hand that has struck them.” 

 

She pulled another datapad from a stack and held it out to the young Bailiff.
 

“New orders after you get some Rest and Relaxation. Code plan Bastion.” 

 

The end of the Imperial reign of Nar Shaddaa had begun.

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Cassandra Vinalian - Imperial Paladin -  Champion for Empress Raven Nasra

 

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A quite strange and illusive character slipped through the shadowed and Imperialized streets of Nar-Shadda. It was a planet of rust, the heartland of Imperial pride. Steel-clad boots echoed a staccato rhythm as the creature passed through the security gate with a subtle smile and a nod, for that was all it would take to get past Imperial Security. It was all the same, nothing had really changed since Black has been in power, but now there was a pretty face on the throne. Rumers held the Empress enjoyed the company of the furried variety. Had it been a ranat that had stolen the apprentice of Tiana Cathlye’s heart? An Ewok perhaps? Or maybe a particular Kiralocca had decided to sire an heir at long last.

 

Dark hands hefted the rugged bundle he carried. A bloodstained cloak that contained two lightsabers. One in crumbled bits, the all too familiar frail handiwork of the Sith Emily, but the other had more of an Aryian flair. From Lehon apparently.

 

The Mouth of Ar-Pharazon struck a match, reveling in the sulphatic essence of it, lighting up a cigar as he made his way to the Empress's chambers, taking a solid drag of the sweet nicotine. A small beeping began as the smoke alarm detected it, but the creature pressed onwards, placing the bloodstained bundle on one of the many tables. With a flair of his hand he extinguished the cigar into a particullary shabby carpet and disappeared

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Is there anyone in this rout with authority to treat with me?

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Sandy's transport jumped out of hyperspace a safe distance from Nar Shaddaa, Aidan's slaved shuttle following not far behind. From the copilot's chair, Aidan began maneuvering toward the pirate moon, already broadcasting IFF to hasten the landing procedures. In minutes they had reached the atmosphere, and short moments later they touched down in the Alliance hangar. As soon as it was safe, Aidan called out over his shoulder to Carson and Sandy.

"Alright, you're good to unstrap. Carson, I had an intake specialist sent to the hangar to help out with your integration into the Alliance, he should be waiting to meet us by the hangar entrance. You can stay with us until we find him if you like."

 

And with that, their excursion to Vernza-Torrah was finished. A scarred relationship and a man out of time was all they had to show for their success, but at least it was a success. Aidan didn't want to think about what could have happened if Sandy hadn't managed to see through what was happening to them.

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