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Ylesia


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As the clones made their way to discuss specifics with @Qessax Jal Todda, Vangar Longfang offered a brief salute before turning to @Raphanel, “A pilot, 2 gunners, and 8 passengers. The clones under @Tilt07’s command, Director Jal Todda and 2 of his men, you and I each with a selected associate should fill the crew. I have a member of the Wing Guard in mind who has extreme technical skill that should be able to help us make sure out goals are completed. I look forward to seeing the legends of the Imperial Knights in action. It is very rare to see your work as far out as Bespin.”

 

Looking out across the field, Vangar smiled as the clones exited. There was nobody else around. Turning his focus back to the master of the Imperial order of force users he offered a slight bow. “My apologizes master Knight for any offense. This mission is of utmost importance to the Alliance. That ship will be a great asset to the defense of our allied worlds. Fleets of such craft once held entire systems hostage. Imagine whet we could

do to protect the good people of the galaxy? Starting with the slaves aboard that craft. They must be a priority. Can I trust that you can get them to safety? We won’t be able to get them out in the shuttle so we will have to assuage their fears and keep them aboard or get them to safety by some other means found locally.”  

 

Reaching into a satchel at his waist, Vangar withdrew a boxy device. His clawed hand was barely able to grasp the boxy contraption. Cradling it between his clawed hands he offered it to Raphanel. “This is something my engineers have developed. The attached remote can be used to scan slaves for explosive transmitters. If one is located, it will begin to scan for the appropriate frequency to jam that transmitters signal. Normally this can be used for individualized or small amounts of slaves. In our case, I believe you could supercharge the thing, or so I am told. It should be able to short out the transmitters at least for a standard day or so.”


“Although,” he began as an afterthought, “the thing will pretty much melt apparently.”

 

Pushing the device into the Knight Master’s hands, Vangar offered a smile. “Lets adjourn to prepare. I am sure leaders of the free government should not be recognized on such an operation. Undoubtedly our people would object to our going out into the field. If exposed, our combined presence, will lend a level of legitimacy to our operation.”

 

Walking from the field, Vangar returned to his quarters. Opening a large crate he noted the padded interior that cradled each piece of his powered armor. Digging out his shoulder pauldrons and an abrasive pad he began to scrub the symbol of Bespin’s elite Wing Guard from one and the Imperial Anoat Sector from the other. Given the current state of things they would need replaced; but for now, they simply needed removed sk as to render the armor identical to one of a million others. Taking the abrasive pad to the remaining pieces of armor, Vangar etched them to a steely shine. 
 

Once that was done, Vangar replaced each item into their respected crates, stacking them with a crate of weapons, save for the blaster on his hip and pair of songsteel blades at his back. Donning his armorweave undersuit, Vangar pulled a heavy brown tunic over the top and a mismatched set of gray boots over his feet. Stacking the crates on a gravsled he set out for the landing area of the base.

 

 

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“Hmmm. Hmmm. Please.” Misal held up a gauntleted hand as a request for patience. The knuckles of her right hand were still crusted with dried blood. At this point, the holographic disk appeared to have completely locked up: the ghostly image that formed a cloud above the metal had turned an angry crimson, and began to flicker spastically in coordination with a series of warning lights. Sensing someone beginning to approach from the outside, the Miraluka stowed the device against the steely plate on her hip.

 

“All I can gather is that my daughter’s ship never left Nar Shaddaa. Most likely destroyed, given the depravity with which the Sith handled the moon.” She sighed and her lips thinned in annoyance. “She is alive… presumably not captive. That would have been an irresistible propaganda coup. I see that my daughter has finally learned the value of…”

 

Of counterintelligence was the phrase the Misal was thinking of, as the operative was fairly certain that her deliberately amateurish attempt at cracking the device had set off a silent security alert. However, she didn’t know the agent who had just intruded on their conversation. She turned and silently listened, just taking in the presence of the young man. There was an incisiveness to the young man’s mind that suggested intelligence or technical training, and the lines in his face hinted at some degree of cybernetic enhancement--that, or the worst cosmetic surgery that could be purchased outside the Corporate Sector.


“If I may ask, Agent Orin… why Korriban?” It was an honest question, but one that the agent almost certainly would not have been able to answer.

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“Dear Moff, I do not question the utmost necessity of the plan, its value, or my fellow operatives that have been selected for this plan. I only questioned the competence of the high command that suggested the original plan. Myself and my men will make it our foremost priority to rescue the slaves held aboard the vessel, and carry justice to those that kept them captive. “ 

 

He gave the Barabel a crisp salute, then headed to his temporary quarters to change. It was quick change, and he securely tucked the lightsaber’s hilt into one of the pockets of his satchel. As for the rest, a black jumpsuit and gun belt sufficed. He boarded the appropriate ship alongside two similarly dressed Knights. The red haired Kara Thren-Sarrati, of noble lineage from a Cadet branch of one of the many Kuati houses. And the blond haired Michael Konstantinovich of similar lineage.  They knew their mission and they would execute it flawlessly 

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Lord Commander Raphenel Karlovci Contispex- Imperial Warden

 

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As the old women talked, he wondered just who she was. She was obviously a Jedi of some sought, but the way she carried herself and spoke good him there was more to her than met the eye. That she wasn't your typical Jedi. He answered as best he could, and as much as he was authorised to tell her, after all the enemy had many spies. Even here where they thought the Alliance was safe.

 

He faced her, speaking calmly and respectfully.

 

 "I'm sorry but I can't tell you much. At least not without the right authorisation, from Agent Qessax himself. However what I can say is that there are those in power that believe for too long that place has been a bane upon all who would call themselves good in this galaxy. They wish to ensure the Sith do not spring from that hellhole again to trouble us. This is a tipping point, we will no longer tolerate them endangering lives and taking them on a whim. May I enquire Master Jedi though, who are you? I don't think we have ever met before and you strike me as bit...different than some of the others I have seen about the camp."

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"How long have you been you on Korriban, Agent Orin?" Æquitas chuckled in jest as his mind reeled back to reality from the many questions that had flooded his mind due to the Agent's interruption. "Lady Misal isn't a Jedi. She is the mother of Jedi Grandmaster Armiena Draygo-Darkfire and a long time ally of the Republic and Alliance, and I'm sure her clearance level is top tier."

 

Æquitas' expression remained neutral, his gaze shifting between the two as he gathered his thoughts into words expressly bent on remaining the neutral party above all else, a habit that had been his for the last two decades or so. And when he spoke, the regalia of his presence reverberated in its tone.

 

"But I reiterate her question.... why Korriban?" In Æquitas' eyes, there was a hint of confusion. Over the years as a Jedi Padawan, which likely began when this man was still a child, he had been on many missions across the Galaxy. Like Master Æowülf before him, Æquitas walked the path of a Guardian, long having sworn to wield his blade in defense of the meek and had in several disputes between worlds. But as far as he knew, Korriban was a dead world, nothing more than a religious site where an Academy had risen a time or two, something he chose to speak. "Korriban is nothing more than a graveyard where cultists occasionally raise an Academy dedicated to the Darkside. Surely it poses no significant threat. Not like Onderon...."

 

His eyes shifts back to Misal, a hint of relief present within them and in the smile that graces his lips at the news of the Grandmaster's possible survival. It brought hope to his heart that Order would remain within the Jedi. Especially with the recent scuttlebutt around camp of the rise of the Imperial ran Alliance under a patriarch rather than the Democracy that the Jedi had long stood for. As his smile recedes, his gaze shifts back to Agent Orin.

 

"Well...come on man. Out with it."

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As Talyn listened, his expression turned to one of surprise. He was hardly thinking he was going to meet the mother of a legend when he first got there...the Jedi Grandmaster, Armiena Draygo-Starfire's reputation preceded her. Yet he had not heard much about the rest of her family beside Aryian Darkfire, so to meet her mother was unexpected. 

 

He suspected what the young Jedi said was likely the truth, he had no reason to like afterall. As such Talyn have a nod before proceeding to speak, but not before directing them to a more secure location, one away from prying eyes and ears in the camp. 

 

 "I have spent the last several years upon Korriban, and have assisted the former Nikolai Kolchak, who was my mentor and Agent Qessax's predecessor by supplying valued intelligence from deep within the Sith Military hierarchy. That was until recently, a Sith saw me stealing some of my latest intelligence. Very well, I see no reason to doubt what you say is true. It is a pleasure to meet the mother of the legend, the Jedi Grandmaster's reputation preceded her, much like yourself. Even on Korriban, the Sith had her on a kill on sight list.

 

May I suggest we find somewhere a bit more secure within which to speak. What I have to day cannot be open knowledge, besides you never know who might be listening...even here where people think they are safe. The Sith as you know are ruthless and have many spies."

 

With that he led them into a nearby tent before making sure it was secure. Sweeping for potential bugs or people who might be listening, satisfied he gestured to several seats in the tent as he begun to speak.

 

 "Sorry about that, you can never be too careful or cautious in my line of work. Now we are secure I can explain that situation better. The Alliance is aware of the fact that Korriban is a known Sith sanctuary and for the reasons you specified, however my superiors also believe it is also more than this based on more recent intelligence. As I told Agent Qessax, whilst using my deep cover within the military structure of the Sith, one that I had maintained since my younger years, I was tasked with recently finding out if the government of Korriban was still Sith affiliated and actively resisting attempts by Galactic Alliance personnel looking to help any to transition. It turned out this was the case. Those that were found to be sympathisers have been being getting rounded up and 'rehabilitated' or outright executed with little reprisal. 

 

I had also found out that miraculously, some of the old native red skinned Sith species or Tsis as I have found they call themselves to stop any confusion between the Order and themselves, still exist there. Although in smaller numbers, they have kept the old hatreds which has only gotten stronger since our last attack and are allied with the Sith but they are no real problem. It is the area surrounding the Academy and the Tombs, areas directly controlled by the Sith hierarchy that is the problem. 

 

Ever since they took over they had been building. Those above my pay grade wish to replace the local Sith government and topple it, they wish for your help and those specifically chosen for their unique skill sets to help establish a new more Alliance, Republic and Jedi friendly government. To I quote 'make sure Korriban is no longer a safe haven for the Sith'. They request help rescuing any sympathisers and installing them into the correct positions to make a positive change to the status quo upon that planet, so naturally we are trying to minimise civilian casualties if we can help it, which is I assume why they asked for you specifically.  Admiral Slaughter has been assigned to oversee our air support for this.

 

That is all I know so far. If you require more, you may read the file here. Although Agent Qessax will require a answer within the next day or so as he wishes to take advantage of the Sith while we still have the advantage. And help towards pushing them out indefinitely from the galaxy."

 

With that he handed the young Jedi Knight a encrypted datafile containing the information regarding the mission, along with the profiles of those involved for a more detailed inspection should he was to do so. And if he so desired to, to share it with Lady Misal.

 

Edited by Talyn Orin
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Shuttle LZ-2443–or as Draygo had come to call it, the Nutmeg–turned out to be even lower on fuel than the Jedi Grandmaster had feared. Fuel gauges on shuttle craft always had something of a error range, as they were typically fueled for predictable and calculated transportation routes, and were not expected to expend fuel in combat maneuvers. Nutmeg must have been undergoing the process of having its fuel tanks siphoned empty as a battlefield precaution. That bare marginal sliver of fuel in its tanks was barely even sufficient to make a single jump into hyperspace and to carry it to the Cha Raaba system.

 

Only seconds after the glow of hyperspace subsided and the muddy jewel of Ylesia filled the canopy of the Nutmeg, every light within the shuttle darkened. The control boards turned black. The steering yoke became unresponsive. Only the low crimson emergency lights provided illumination. The shuttle had run out of fuel.

 

The Jedi Grandmaster spat out a series of curses that she would have never uttered in the presence of one of her peers as she crawled under the control boards to perform surgery on the power routers. There was certain to be a few joules of power left in the Nutmeg that could be rerouted into its engines… or barring that, its communications array. A few minutes of cross-wiring panels succeeded in restoring the hiss and air currents of the shuttle’s life support systems. Several more minutes of digging her fingers through the wiring succeeded in nothing more than restoring power to one of the cockpit’s control panels–specifically, the communications panel.

 

That would be sufficient to effect some kind of landing.

 

Propping herself over the comlink, Armiena spoke loudly into the microphone. This would be a very low-power transmission, one that might not even reach the planet with sufficient signal to be audible. “Ylesia ATC, Jedi Grandmaster Armiena Draygo on board shuttle LZ-2443, recognition code…” she rattled off a series of characters. “In bound ballistic on Ylesia, course one-seven-three mark two-six. Repeat, ballistic, I have no power, course one-seven-three mark two-six. I need a tow, before I…”

 

Burn up on re-entry, or crash into the ocean, or suffer a gasp death by carbon dioxide poisoning were among the many potential fates that Draygo could have imagined. She never got to voice any of those candidates, however, as the lights within the cockpit dimmed and the gasp of the ship’s life support systems faded. Draygo just sighed and waited as the planet loomed larger in the canopy.

 

Eventually, a pair of white running lights blinked brightly against the blue-brown-green glow of Ylesia. Draygo rose from her seat and stared into the canopy, peering at the pattern of blinking lights. She couldn’t make out the shape of the craft, but the pattern of the lights indicated that it was an assault shuttle: a craft that would be stuffed to the gills with marines and anti-ship weapons, and possibly a low-power tractor beam. She winced as a bright floodlight flashed into the cockpit--it pulsed rapidly to form words in blink-code: All crew meet at boarding ramp. Leave weapons on floor.

 

Armiena’s response was to ignite one of her lightsabers and hold it up for the assault shuttle to get a good look at it.

 

__________

 

Several minutes later, Armiena slinked in behind @Talyn Orin to enter the same briefing room that was under reconstruction. The Jedi Grandmaster could have been smelled when she entered the room--she reeked of the sweat of twenty armored stormtroopers, one nervous Jedi Master, and a spilled mug of caf. She was still dressed in the plastoid armor that she had repurposed from the armory of the Imperial Knights, not even having had time to change into a clean set of robes. 

 

“Agent, it’s absolutely critical that this operation results in the establishment of a government capable of rebuilding Korriban after decades of Sith repression. Deal with the Sith Lords as necessary, but clear contrast between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Alliance will be critical as we advance through the territory they have abandoned. I’ll thank you to remind Admiral Slaughter of that. Now, I think we’ve delayed you enough. Go and assemble your assault team.”

 

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Even as the trio left behind the outpost for a more familiar tent setting, Æquitas remained quiet and deep in thought, oblivious to the Agent's movements as he swept the area. Once or twice, his sapphiric eyes shifted to Misal to gather her own expressions on where she may have laid her thoughts, but reading the Elder Miralukian was like trying to read a Wompa in the blinding snow. He didn't like the ideology nor the appeal of politics, nor did he trust Jedi playing such a routine. But if what the Agent spoke was true, and held no reason to lie, the resurgence of the Sith species, or Tsis, provided some opportunities. 

 

"I must confess, Agent Orin, that I'm not sure why I've been chosen for the mission..." Sanguis spoke to break the lingering silence that had became awkward in the absence of words. "It's very apparent in my file that I despise politics, espionage, and the shadows of hypocrisy. It's not the Jedi way, nor should a Jedi walk so closely to the temptations it presents. This is why we've alligned ourselves with the Alliance, a medium and balance to tread where we shouldn't." Sanguis paused for a moment, searching for the words that should follow, his hand gracing his chin in thought even as he continued. "Perhaps if this were a diplomatic mission, I would agree, but this is nothing more than an Alliance sanctioned coup'd'etat."

 

Just as he finished speaking, Lady Armiena graced the trio with her appearance, shocking the Jedi Knight even as he bowed. Age had seemed to catch up to her since the last time he had seen her in person, and significantly since they were both Padawans. But that was so long ago that he doubted the memories remained of their brief interactions and missions, much less that he aged half as she did. But even more shocking was the words she(?) spoke to the Agent. Surprised, he choked upon his words.

 

"But Grandmaster.... surely we aren't sanctioning the deaths of an endangered species... how can we justify our actions?..." Deep in surprise, Æquitas looked upon the Grandmaster with a gaze of betrayal, as if he had fallen into a parallel world or into a dream state which he could not wake from. Perhaps he had been away from the Galactic Proper for far too long. But the Jedi were peacekeepers,  not soldiers. "These Sith, or Tsis, or whatever they call themselves, surely deserve our aid rather than a blade. We haven't even extended a diplomatic hand...".

 

While Sanguis was reeling in from his initial shock, Nar Shadaa did cross his mind and the memory it processed rippled across the Force as the scar beneath the brevor burned with a consistent ache. For Nar Shadaa had been a revelation. 

 

The streets of Nar Shadaa was chaotic, alit with flames and falling debris from the stories above as countless Jedi and Sith Forces intertwined. Sanguis stood beside his Master as blaster fire echoed around the corner and Sanguis heart felt like it was going to loose its self from his chest. In silence, Æowülf signaled Sanguis to round the corner and make for the adjacent alley as both his and Æowülf's Sapphire and Emerald blade illuminated the deepening darkness.

 

A young Nautolan laid nestled against his chest as her mother stood behind him. Grasping the mother's hand, he darted between the debris and flames as he attempted to lead the refugees to safety. That was, until an Ithorian stepped from the shadows before him, skin scaled from lack of moisture amidst the heat and grasping what looked to be an incendiary grenade. Before a bright light enveloped all he could see, the beings words echoed both in sound and in the Force as the heat overtook them.

 

"Down with the oppression of the Alliance!

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Beck stood on top the ramp of the Heaven's Taint, his own personal ship as he awaited the final few crew members joining his team. Some were new troopers wanting a fresh area of service, while others were pilots, random officers transferring for one reason or another. He didn't much care at the moment. He was far more interested in what they would prove to him, if anything at all. Some even were medical personnel, they always brought with them massive amount of supplies that took up way too much room in the cargo hold. He did his best to offer up a smile to each one as they walked up the ramp, offering a handshake and a friendly word. It felt very much on the political side, to which he hated. 

 

But of course there was Lieutenant Lilla Rurn. The young lady who made a strong impression upon him during the battle of Nar Shaddaa. She wasn't even originally within the Imperial Navy at the time, but made the transfer after the battle. His former right hand command officer Isiah made him aware of her transfer after he himself transferred over to a new division. As she made it to the top of the ramp, she gave him a salute and awaited his return salute. "Permission to speak freely?" "Granted." She dropped her only carry on bag. "Not many who came onboard the ship gave you any signal that you were their commanding officer?" She had pointed out something that he hated. Maybe this new assignment would indeed work out in his favor. He looked into the main hold for a brief second before turning back towards her. 

 

"Unfortunately you are correct. Too many feel the navy is something that it's not. A chance to be showboating, to make their own unique mark. Revamping the Naval academy may be the best thing to happen in a long while." He turned and looked at the main hold again, at everyone who was about to join his command closer to the Core worlds. "I'm going to need someone who can help whip everyone back into shape, to bring a standard back to the Imperial Navy." He looked now at Lilla with piercing eyes. "You think you can handle that?"

 

The girl simply nodded her head and picked her bag back up and walked into the main hold. "ATTENTION! Admiral Beck Pilon is on the deck!" He couldn't help but smile as he closed the ramp door and began to make his way towards the front where his seat was located. As he walked through the hold, many stood at the ready, now keeping their eyes on both him and Lilla, who was giving glaring eyes at everyone to make sure they stood until he released them to relax. Once he got to his own seat, he turned and gave a salute to them. "Take a seat and strap in. You're all about to voyage to the Core, where we will be rebuilding much of what has been lost. The Naval Academy is the priority. But on top of that, individual excellence is also key in rebuilding. Remember what it means to be an officer in the Imperial Navy, and the standards you were taught. They do not disappear because most of what we once had has been lost. But because we lost it makes it all the more important to keep it."

 

He looked around slowly at everyone before turning towards the pilots of his ship. "Take us to the Fiat Lux. From there, we all head home to Anaxes."

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On 8/20/2022 at 9:55 PM, Qessax Jal Todda said:

Qessax had dismissed his droid by the time he got to his tent. It wouldn’t be able to come along on the mission, but he knew his secretary droid would handle everything that it could while he was gone. If he wasn’t in a bitter mood, he would have smiled at the bargain deal the droid had been. 

 

In his tent, Qessax had begun to prepare his own disguise. Black wrappings over his limbs would help mask his form, and heavily padded areas on his arms and more bony parts would make it look less Kaleesh and something more mammalian. The head was a bit more difficult, but with the wrappings to hide his tusks, he could then use some black tinted goggles to give the appearance of something akin to Aqualish. Ancestors knew the two species could share a sense of anger. 

 

It was when he was wrapping his arms when the clones came in. 

 

“Captain, come in, come in…” Qessax waved the clone in as he continued his own work. 

 

“Delta has a very long history in the galaxy…” Qessax started. “Like you, he was a clone for the republic before this whole Sith business started up. Heavily trained as an ARC trooper and clone commando. Somehow survived to eventually fight for Black Sun, and then in turn the Sith. Had a specialty with hand-to-hand combat and squad command”

 

Qessax had just finished his limb and body wrappings and was now working on his head. 

 

“He was known for his brutality under the Sith. Brutal but efficient is what most of the reports show. Last confirmed sighting was during the battle of Nar Shaddaa. Unconfirmed if he died in it, which is how I hope to keep it.”

 

Qessax adjusted his goggles, fitting perfectly underneath the wrappings. A quick glance into the mirror made his spirits rise a bit. He was a spitting image of an Aqualish undercover. 

 

Qessax faced the captain and exited the tent with him. “Something captain you will want to keep in mind is that these are Umbarans we are facing. Their ability to see in ultraviolet light means staying out of their line of sight is imperative. And unfortunately, our information on what kind of tech they brought in to fix the ship is a bit more limited, so be prepared for anything…”

 

Qessax struggled for a better word. “...weird.”

 

Qessax looked the clone once over. “Anything else captain?”

 

"Negative, sir," Tilt responds as he follows Quessex out of the tent, " Personally, I've never seen an Umbaran during the old campaigns, only heard rumors here and there one of which were their sight. That's gonna be tricky." 

 

Tilt's heart sunk despite having a vague idea of Delta, but life went on. And the situation would differ based on his decisions, another one fallen not to combat but manipulation and possibly madness. Clones, from what he heard, could potentially be controlled via Force powers and a Sith who were gifted in such ways could potentially "sway" a Clone... But Tilt and Delta both knew that the latter was much, much smarter than that. Despite how much it jacked his moral basis, Tilt had hoped Delta truly did die and that he would find peace. 

 

Now starting off to the Mantis, Tilt's mind was focused on the mission. To hell with the moral compass, as right now they needed to infiltrate and capture an old CIS warship that had a mixture of enemies, bystanders, and slaves aboard and outside of it. This wasn't going to be easy, but that was where Riggs- the explosives expert, and Thumper- the technology expert, came in. God only knows what those two had cooked up...

________________________________

 

"All set?" Riggs shouted from the back of the Mantis.

 

"Codes have been changed and rearranged, if they try to scan 'em, it'll pop up as the old Sith vessel it used to be." Thumper replies as he shuts the various panels in the cockpit. 

 

The armor of the Clones were altered via paint job, fitting that of primary blacks and secondary/accented reds with the Sith Imperial logo sported on the left shoulder pauldron, right arm guard, or the left of the kama's. The paint itself wasn't anything superficial however it was extremely fast at drying and required actual chemicals to remove, but with a lot of degreaser and plenty of elbow grease it could be easily cleaned... Maybe. The Alliance symbol on the outside of the Mantis was also blotted out carefully and the gray color that was painted over or was perfectly aligned with the tones of the rest of the ship. They'd only hoped that this mission would stay solid only until they got into the ship, then Thumper could work his magic. 

 

Waiting for everyone to come along, Riggs and Thumper would spend the time conjuring any mishaps that could potentially happen during the mission. It wasn't that they couldn't do it but so much that a lot of lives were at risk, and if the droids we're activated before they could reprogram them? All hell would break loose for the worse. 

 

 

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Talyn considered the young Jedi Knight's words, even as he looked into his eyes to perhaps gain some measure of the man before him, a man with a most extraordinary gift or curse. Whichever way he looked at it and see the kind of man he would be working with, he was sure he was at one point a look of doubt and fear...familiar scars and signs he had seen in far too many others, but not so common in Jedi. The signs of one affected by the war and suffering from some kind of traumatic experience. The way he spoke seemed to suggest it.

 

That would either make him a asset or a liability...possibly both when the time came for action. Time would tell which would be true. 

 

Listening, Talyn spoke trying to address each point made by all present. He first turned to the Jedi Grandmaster, Armiena.

 

 "I shall do my best and utmost to convey this Grandmaster, although there is no guarantee he will listen. We shall just have to trust that he does listen."

 

He turned to Sanguis next.

 

 "I would agree, despite what they have done and are capable of, the Tsis tend to keep to themselves and pose no real threat, at least for now. As a endangered species, one which is sentient and strong with what you call the Force...they must be allowed to live despite our misgivings, or we are no better than the enemy. Although we might need an eye upon them, as stated their hatred for the Jedi and Republic is strong and stems from millennia of such hate that has only been reinforced by the Sith. In fact there are rumours from Korriban that those who lead the seven Clans that make up the species were trained by a powerful Sith Warrior and his allies. But as I said, if it comes to open combat they won't hang around long and will retreat back to the mountains to hide to conduct guerrilla warfare upon us later. Scans taken and from a personal expedition I undertook close as I could get to the area without discovery, suggests they have some kind of stronghold there in the mountains that we have yet to fully find. The Sith have for most part ignored them so long as they don't interfere with their agenda.

 

It is my belief that they should pose no problem for the duration of the transition for most part. It is the Sith themselves that will be the issue. As such our focus for now should be with the main areas of government. The Academy, space port and the like. Areas of high commerce and traffic. As for why you were chosen, I have no idea...I am simply following orders I'm afraid and my knowledge is limited to what I have been told. Perhaps during this assignment you will find your role. Perhaps it shall be diplomatic, guess we'll see. You might despise politics and espionage but if Korriban has taught me anything it's that sometimes we must confront that which we despise if we are to overcome it. 

 

Regardless I think we have spent enough time in discussion, there is much still to be done. If you are ready, grab what you can and I shall meet you at the spaceport."

 

With that Talyn made his departure. He had a few misgivings about this Jedi, he appeared to have much doubt about himself and his role in things. Perhaps in time he would find his place.

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For a few hours, it seemed as though Admiral Slaughter had dropped off the face of the galaxy. Even the Barabel Jedi Healer who had been assigned to shadow the Admiral and ensure that he didn’t overexert himself into an early retirement somehow managed to lose track of her ward. Everywhere Master Zal searched, he found a small army of cooperative noncoms and lower-echelon officers who were pretty sure that they had seen Admiral Slaughter meeting with Viceroy Longfang, or visiting with wounded soldiers in the medical ward, or practicing at the small arms range… or really, anything that seemed realistic for the middle-aged soldier. One Captain who had known Slaughter since their days in the Republic Talons completely lost her head and claimed he was on a conditioning run.

 

“A conditioning run.”

 

“Yessir, Master Jedi, sir.” Captain Johanna Bryce of the Talons piped up cheerfully. “He’s rather anal about pesh-trill. Kinda maddening.”

 

“The man has lost the use of his legs, soldier. What kind of fool do you take me for?” The Barabel fixed the tall woman with a cold-blooded glower.

 

“Someone who needs to re-assigned to the front, Master Jedi. He’ll be fine. He’s probably holed himself in a room and is yelling his head off at Fondor or Corellia or summat. Having a wonderful time. He’ll be fine.”

 

Captain Bryce’s prediction proved to be correct. At that moment, Slaughter had sealed himself into one of the compartmented rooms within the Alliance complex and driven out all but a few officers on his personal staff. The Admiral had pulled himself out of his wheelchair and sat cross-legged on the cold concrete, surrounded by a madman’s network of holograms, paperwork, spreadsheets, three comlinks, and a half-eaten ration. His ire had already been visited on Fondor and would soon be inflicted on the Corellian Engineering Corporation. A third irate conversation would soon visit the Chief Engineers who had been tasked with breaking old starfighters out of mothballs. He rubbed a hand across a day’s worth of stubble and contemplated the calculated insanity that lay around him.

 

The infantry forces stationed on Korriban were not a significant concern. It was highly unlikely that those forces hadn’t already been removed to more important planets–probably Onderon, or Kamino, or even Umbara. The real concern were the anti-orbital assets. Ground-based turbolasers were murderous on the light ships and frigates that comprised the vast majority of his task force. Fidelity lacked sufficient firepower to duel with a garrison’s worth of turbolaser batteries. Local point-defenses ruled out the possibility of a frontal assault. The Alliance couldn’t afford the time and ships required for a blockade…

 

But in those limitations, Slaughter saw his strategy.

 

The Admiral was familiar with his reputation as a fighting-Admiral. His history was that of a mixture of aggression and relentlessness. His previous attacks on Sullust, Onderon, and other planets had been slow, grinding affairs that slowly built up pressure on hostile defenses. His formations were typically dense, mutually-supporting squadrons of cruisers and corvettes that were meticulously designed for a combination of firepower and area denial. He was somewhat attached to a single ship, that old MC90 cruiser Fidelity. He was excessively reliant on vulnerable corvettes to support his starfighter squadrons. He did not shy from confrontation.

 

For the first time in several days, Bruce actually smiled. He would present the Sith with exactly what they expected–a competent, but somewhat conventional Admiral of the Galactic Alliance. Then he would destroy them with the lessons he had learned from the Rebellion.

 

_____

 

Thousands of kilometers above Ylesia, what would have been a skeleton of a task force in the days of the Rebel Alliance began to take form. Fidelity, an old, battle-tested MC90 cruiser that hadn’t even had a chance to paint over the scars of Nar Shaddaa, would form the nucleus of that squadron. Approximately its same size but considerably newer, Benediction, a Nebula-class Star Destroyer from Fondor kept station only a few kilometers away. The unfortunate Star Destroyer seemed cursed to forever be rushed prematurely into service: the vast majority of her weapons had yet to be installed and she had only been given a coat of bone-white primer, and internal compartments had been gutted for additional hangar space.

 

A dozen-odd corvettes and other light ships moved about the task force on picket duty. About half of them were old Raider II-class corvettes and “Hammerhead”-corvettes from the early days of the Rebel Alliance, but there were a few newer ships: Imperial Vigil-class corvettes and Naboo designed Senth-class corvettes. Those latter ships resembled enormous flying wings and were studded with a frightening array of quad laser turrets, each effectively a no-fly zone for hostile starfighters. Those flying wings were so small in profile that they sometimes disappeared from sensor sweeps–and their crews had reported that the handling of those ships resembled that of an enormous starfighter.

 

Several other ships served as tenders and escort carriers. Those were almost entirely heavy freighters with only a few crew members, barely enough to service a few starfighters. Still, in this time where the Galactic Alliance was desperate for every weapons platform, even a refitted cargo ship was a valuable resource.

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“No kriffing way I’m turning it back on” The young human declared, refusing to take another step towards the sleeping giant of a droid. 


Sergeant Klaff growled at the young man, almost snarling. Despite being a human, he sometimes came across like a Trandosian. 


“Thats an order soldier, now hop to it.” 


The young man looked at his commanding officer, then back at the droid, then back at the other three soldiers who had guns trained on the lumbering hulk. The thing was captured trying to steal a ship from the compound, and only had been brought down by a lucky ionization bolt. Since then it had been turned off and kept shut off via a restraining bolt. No one had dared to turn it on again, let alone try to reprogram it. 


Klaff wiped a bead of sweat off his brow as the young man went to the droid’s back side, attempting to turn it on. There was a reason he ordered the young man to do so and not do it himself. This droid was chosen specifically for the Korriban Mission, and any being, droid or not, deserve a lot of respect and, more so, distance. 


Ruin came to life with a sound of power generating inside his body. Glancing around, Ruin took a step forward, to the soldiers bringing their guns up more sharply. 


“Not sith…” Ruin commented. “Gotta kill sith. Hunting and seeking. Blasting and bashing” 


>Indeed, i agree< A sound of buzzing and chirping emitted. To the shock of everyone, a small buzz droid had somehow snuck along the ground and behind the behemoth of a droid, crawling up and onto its shoulder. 


“Where did that…” Klaff blubbered out before ordering his men to not fire. “Let's see where this goes.”


>The individuals here are planning an attack on Korriban< Fera continued, her eyes focused on the commander, despite talking to Ruin, as if warning the commander. >I recommend we find one of these people i have uploaded to your H.U.D.<


A beep came from the Terror Droid’s head, who swiftly suddenly turned and began to leave the group, despite the men not lowering their weapons. Klaff ordered a disengage. It seemed the droid knew what to do. 


“Korriban?” Ruin grunted, unholstering his flechette launcher from his back, checking its ammo and its general shape and function.


>Yes. From what I've gathered, it is the cultural homeworld of the Sith as a whole. Possibly the origin of all the Sith teachings. A metaphorical heart of hell if there ever was one<


Ruin seemed to nod at this. “Hunting and killing. Bashing and burning. Smash, smash, smash.” At this, he tapped the hammer-like weapon on his back.


>Indeed< 


It didn’t take long for the two to find the individuals Fera had mentioned. A group of individuals consisting of Jedi and an Imperial Agent. With the Agent leaving the group, Ruin continued his normal course and followed the Jedi. Between the Imperials that stunned him and the Jedi that the droid revered, it was obvious who to follow. 

 

"Huntings and seekings, seekings and huntings. Korriban." Ruin said as he came close to the Jedi @ObliviousKnight and @MSA

 

>Excuse us, this is B-5 87, designated as RUIN. I am Fera. Ruin is expressing eagerness in with helping you hunt Sith forces on the mission on Korriban.< Fera chirpped in binary, her form like a spider crawling over Ruin's shoulder to get a better look

 

"Bashings and burnings. Hunt Sith. Help Jedi. Bombings and bondings. Good times" As ruin said this, he pointed at the Jedi's lightsabers.

 

>He is also expressing the fact that he looks forward to working with Jedi again. His recent experiences with the Jedi have been quite positive in his programming of hunting down Sith Forces. I am also looking forward, as this may prove to be helpful to my ward> Fera buzzed and babbled in binary. Hopefully the Jedi understood her, otherwise, Ruin's talking could be quite confusing to say the least.  

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Keenava finished tearing the flesh from her meaty entrée with her teeth and took a moment to wipe at her mouth with the closest napkin-like utensil she could find. She patiently listened to Sandy's words and bowed her head gently at appropriate moments. She even preened a little when the young woman told her how proud she was. It was odd; she felt feather-light tingles brush at the tips of her fingers, and her lekku twitched ever so slightly at Sandy's words even when they both knew very little of each other. But compliments were not things the Twi'lek got very often, so anything positive was either regarded with suspicion or admiration. It all depended on intention. And Sandy was not expressing any level of condescension. Her praise was genuine.

 

Her request, however, was far from simple. It wasn’t like Keenava had anything to hide, but maybe she didn’t need to go into every knitty gritty detail.

 

"Well, to know about my past, you may need to understand a few things that you may find difficult, or you may not fully relate to due to your time with the Jedi. For instance, No one is born a Sith. No one comes into the world wanting to cause harm. Well… The vast majority don’t. I can’t account for every baby in the galaxy and all potential conditions.” Keenava took a small meditative breath and clasped her fingers together upon the cold steel of the table. “Regardless… the vast majority of Sith only become Sith due to pain, trauma, loss, or some disconnection from the rest of the galaxy. In their desperate cry, they search for strength and that strength isn’t usually offered by the Jedi. At least, it hasn’t been.”

 

“My story started years ago when I was sold into slavery to settle a debt. I was the first to be sold, followed by my sister, and my mother. But I fought to be first in the hopes that I might protect them from the same fate.” Keenava felt a burning line build on the rim of her eyes as her story continued, telling her of tears that were fighting to the surface. She stifled the impulse. “It was years before I saw them again. And when I did, I was forced to witness my mother’s death while others looked on and laughed. Thankfully, my sister never had to see that. But that moment broke me. I lost all touch with who I was, what I was, and where I was… And it wasn’t until the darkness found me that I had any purpose. The darkness offered hope. Hundreds of thousands of slaves went years without ever having hope. The Jedi didn’t see or know where they were, whether that was due to other issues or just not being able to save all the souls in the galaxy, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t the Jedi’s fault, but their inaction led to possibility. And for people like me, I was easy to take advantage of.”

 

“Masters came and went: Jzora Scorpio, Julio Furion, and Exodus. Each discarded me when they grew tired of me. But through all that, I learned who I was. I mastered the common, Twi'leki, and Huttese languages. I learned many subjects and taught myself a great many things. But it was all hollow. I engaged in the petty Sith squabbles and did many stupid things. I even got into a fight with a woman named Ailbasi Zirtani. That was the last stupid fight I got into before I died; truly died. We all know how prolific cloning is in the Galaxy even if the expense isn’t always worth it. But for the first time in a long time, I didn’t know a single soul that had my DNA. I went a long time floating in nothing. But something felt odd, right before I came back… like a bright burning blue flame casting away the shadow that had embraced me for so long. And when I woke up a few days ago, I felt like a big arm had just wiped the slate clean. I felt like I was given a chance to start over. And this time, I was going to do what I could to make a better choice.”

 

Keenava sighed. “Apparently some slaver had won my DNA over a game of Sabaak from one of my dad’s old contacts. I was touted as a rare specimen with a valuable skin defect. Black skinned Twi’leks due tend to have a bigger price. They kept me on drugs for several days and it wasn’t until I woke up in a dancer’s dress that I had any idea where I was.”

 

“Reflecting on my experience now, I wouldn’t say that the Dark is an addiction. I’d say it’s a curse. The great irony of it is that, as a people, we fought to free ourselves from the shackles of duty, obligation, honor, integrity, slavery, morality, etc. But in the end, we traded our shackles for another set. The dark side cripples you. While it grants you power, it clips your wings and creates the illusion of safety. It creates that appeal that you call an addiction, but its so much worse. Empty promises, betrayals, power struggles, egos the size of oceans; that and more were the day to day with my contemporary Sith. Even if I never become a Jedi master, I never want to go back.”

 

Keenava’s face was liberally speckled with tears that left slightly darker lines upon her obsidian skin. Her expression was solemn, and her body language was numb. It wasn’t everything, but this would at least give them both some context.

Edited by Keenava Dira
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((For @MSA and @TerrorBot))

 

A sort of psychic revulsion coursed from Sanguis. Grandmaster Draygo’s back stiffened and she stood upright despite the exhaustion, and her mind alerted from sudden concern, rather than outrage at the ridiculous accusation that the Jedi Knight had just leveled at her. Her pale-green eyes studied Aequitas, taking in the shadows under the Jedi’s eyes, posture… possible bloodshot eyes. There was a chance that he had not slept in quite some time, but it was the location of his mind that concerned her the most: that is, its attention was present elsewhere. Those were symptoms that Armiena was very familiar with.

 

“We’re not talking about a species of exotic birds or a megafauna that require protection against a bunch of poachers that believe its horns will cure… these are people. They have the misfortune of living on a world that’s about to be visited by a… liberating force, but they have their own politics and agenda, and we may even be able to parley with them. Good luck, Agent, and The Force be with you. And Sanguis… I would appreciate it if we could speak in private for a moment.”

 

The Jedi Grandmaster nudged Aequitas by one of his shoulders and guided him towards an electronics closet that was being rewired by one of the Alliance’s technicians. The Devaronian seeming to recognize that he was about to be privy to a highly personal (and possibly classified) conversation, the technician decided that it would make a fantastic opportunity to take a lunch break or smoke a cigarra or… be anywhere else. The closet was not a comfortable room–the briefing room was humid and somewhat close, but the electronics closet was stuffed full of blinking, heat-generating computers and spools of cables that the two needed to step over. A number of ventilation fans was insufficient comfort, and sweat immediately began to bead on Draygo’s face.

 

Sanguis, I know that you’re in pain and lashing out because of it.” In these close quarters, it was impossible to avoid the unnerving study of her eyes. She watched carefully for twitches in the facial muscles, potential redness in his eyes, tension in his shoulders. “I have lived in that state for an unreasonable length of time and drove away people who didn’t deserve it. But I do want a Jedi on this mission, one that I can trust to do what they think is right regardless of the circumstances. If you do go… I would like you to try and make contact with these… Tsis. We probably won’t succeed, but I would very much like to try and bury this generational grudge between our peoples. Regardless of your choice, please contact me later. I will make time–what in the…

 

At that moment, an enormous battle droid had begun to stomp into the briefing room. It stood only a few centimeters taller than the Jedi Grandmaster, but it was covered in so many layers of armor and redundant servos and Force-only knew how many weapons that it had to mass several times her weight. In contrast, an insect-like droid perched on its armor-plated shoulder. Armiena made a triple-take, her eyes flickering between the clearly troubled Jedi Knight, the battle droid, and its pre-Imperial counterpart. There was something else she felt she should say… but it would have to wait for later. She squeezed the Jedi Knight on the shoulder.

 

“I mean it, I will make time,” she repeated. “But I need to see to these two.”

 

There was a mixture of confusion and fascination on Draygo face, because the Jedi Grandmaster was fairly confident–but not certain–that the two droids were a pre-Imperial Buzz Droid and one of the pre-Clone Wars battle droid prototypes–not the pathetic B1-series that had somehow undergone mass production, but one of the truly capable prototypes that had only been produced in limited runs. That was probably a cost-cutting measure by the Confederacy, much to the benefit of the Old Republic. She had no idea that any of those droids were still intact, let alone operational and certainly not in the service of the Galactic Alliance.

 

An exceptionally nerdy corner of Draygo’s mind wanted very badly to get a look under the droid’s chassis, violations of the droid’s privacy and sapience be damned.

 

“Hold up, I can understand binary, but it’s been… a long time. Please repeat the former.” Armiena held up a hand when she approached the two droids. She looked downwards at the battle droid’s feet, listening intensely to the rapid-fire beeps and buzzes from the buzz droid. A few seconds passed when the droid repeated itself, intense concentration furrowing the Grandmaster’s brow as she translated the borderline-mathematical language to Basic. She had been surrounded by droids her entire life, but the dialect of some of the pre-Imperial droids was challenging to discern. “You are correct, the Galactic Alliance is launching a mission to liberate Korriban from the Sith Lords. Admiral Slaughter will be in command. It will be an assault in a dense urban spaceport, with civilian assets that must not come to harm.

 

“Before I continue, I’d like to ask.” Her gaze returned from the floor and passed between the two droids. “Are you two… professional counterparts? Or a single symbiotic unit?”

 

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Æquitas shook the memory from his mind as the realization of his outburst rippled outward, his shaking clammed hands sweaty in the palms, the erratic hasten of his heart beat pounding through the drums of his ears, the overwhelming sense of dread and calamity that hung over his soul. Looking to Agent Orin, Misal, and Master Armiena, he blinked and focused himself as their words reached out to him.

 

"I..I..I'm sorry. Forgive me." He managed to stammer from his lips as he brought his hand up to the brevor that covered the scar upon his face. "I didn't mean... I wasn't insinuating... I... I...."

 

As Agent Orin made his departure, Sanguis turned to Master Draygo-Darkfire as she spoke, his ears hearing her words as he fought against the anxiety that had taken ahold of him. He knew the Tsis from the Jedi Archives of Ossus. He knew their history and their political background before and after the arrival of the Dark Jedi that added fuel to their heritage and inevitably took it as their own. But he didn't like the aspects of this war, nor did he truly want to play a part in it. But as a Jedi, it was his duty, his commitment. And yet, Nar Shadaa still plagued him deeply so.

 

Night terrors had became a frequent occurrence, reliving that day over and over in both his sleep and in his day. So much so that aiding the sick and wounded had became his only respite. And it had come to consume him, so much so that his focus outside of himself had only hindered his own healing. Something he was beginning to see. But the child... the child he could not remove from his mind. Nor that of the Ithorian, so justified and righteous, a smile that encompassed his presence within the Force when he detonated the device. Had the wars of the Republic and the Alliance made life so undesirable and justified such destruction? These had become the doubts that plagued Sanguis Æquitas the most, not as a Jedi, but as a citizen.

 

Distracted by the arrival of the two droids, Master Armiena's words trailed off into oblivion, but most of her words had reached him and a sense of calm had began to replace the hesitation. His sapphiric eyes full of  emotion casually turned toward them before surprise took hold. Turning back briefly to Armiena, Sanguis nodded with a simply and subtle reply. "I understand Grandmaster. And thank you."

 

Turning back toward the two arrivals, Sanguis remained silent for most of the conversation, his experience with the droid's binary language limited at best. He understood a few basic chirps and bleeps, but for the most part, it may have as well been High Galactic. As a break in the conversation presented a brief intermittent, Sanguis finally spoke up a brief but curious question that had plagued him since their arrival.

 

"Excuse me, little one." He spoke, his monolog tone briefly breaking with the previous emotional overload from before their arrival. Clearing his throat, he continued, pointing his finger at Ruin as he poised his question. "Is his vocabulator broken?"

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Fera did not sound disappointed at all when she was forced to repeat herself. On the contrary, she seemed almost pleased that an organic and that  Jedi were actually speaking binary, after the experience of non-understanding from the Healer Leena.

 

>We are two separate entities. RUIN is my ward. He is developing sentience, and I have assigned myself to his protection and learning until he has developed full sentience and natural autonomy from his own programming.<

 

“Learning and burning.” Ruin seemed to add, holding up an open hand and shaking it side to side. “Burning and learning.”

 

>Indeed. His primary programming states two directives: Primary Directive: Eliminate all active Sith forces. Secondary Directive: Eliminate active sith sympathizer forces. As I know Jedi appreciate the protection of life over the destruction of it, please note that Ruin has worked with his programming to protect Jedi Healer Leena and Knight Skyshatter from Sith forces on Byss, as well as 0 bystander casualties on the Imperial attack on Outer Heaven station.<

 

When the other Jedi spoke up, both Ruin and Fera looked them over. Ruin shook his head at the question directed to Fera. 

 

“Make fear. Fear universal. Talking and bashing? Talking is bashing.”

 

>What Ruin means is that his original designation is a terror droid. His original programmers believed his method of talking was more intimidating than what you normally hear from droids. <

 

Ruin nodded with Fera’s beepings and buzzings. However, Fera continued on. 

 

>Please do not mistake his communication as incompetence or as poor programming. I have observed his intellect and observation skills. Think of it as a type of specialized dialect<

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Talyn made his way back to where he would find Admiral Slaughter, seeing as he could not locate the rest of the team it seemed a good enough idea. Perhaps he might know where they are or at least give a idea where they would discuss the next steps to liberating Korriban. A task he knew that not be easy at all, the planet was hostile even by it's very nature. Even the wildlife seemed out to get you. 

 

Like a untamed wild west, it would not be controlled at least indefinitely.

 

Walking on, he was soon directed to where the Admiral had chosen to hide in seclusion. Issuing a courteous military salute, Talyn spoke.

 

 "Sorry to disturb you from doing what you are doing Admiral. But I have located the Jedi Knight you requested but have been unable to find the rest in the camp so far, however I did meet the Jedi Grandmaster, Armenia Draygo I believe they call her and her mother Lady Misal. She expressed is I inform you to remember that it is absolutely critical that this operation results in the establishment of a government capable of rebuilding Korriban after decades of Sith oppression and repression. That she said we may deal with the Sith Lords as necessary, but to make sure a clear contrast between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Alliance will be critical as we advance through the territory they have abandoned. She was adamant I remind you of that fact sir.

 

That said, is there anything you need me to so before we leave. I believe that the Jedi Knight, Sanguis Equitas is waiting for us in the tent I left him in for the briefing, I can take you there now if you wish."

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Draygo nodded in understanding. At least, she hoped that she understood. The Jedi Grandmaster had spent far more of her life in the company of droids than most of her peers, even to the point of designing a few models, but the intricacies of their personal relationships often eluded her understanding. Of course, the social dynamics of higher-class droids were at least as complex as biological sapients, which were complex enough without having to carry a zero every few words.

 

She continued to look downwards, mind racing to translate the buzzing into an analog organic language. A second or two passed before she looked up and responded again in Basic. It was an odd way of conversing, but perfectly functional--and it certainly felt more natural than the artifice of speaking into a translator unit or through a protocol droid.

 

“I’ll take that to mean the former.” Armiena’s eyes flickered from the buzz droid to its counterpart. She decided to take the risk of lowering her mental borders and allowing her consciousness to drift towards that of RUIN. Some of the more complex droids could be sensed through The Force… “There is a further complication. I would very much like to peel Korriban away from the Sith Empire’s cultural influence. Long shot, but the attempt has to be taken. There are a number of Alliance sympathizers that will need to be located, potentially protected from reprisals in case the assault becomes stalled. Conversely, widespread devastation will complicate a transition… a challenging situation.”

 

Draygo looked away from the droids and towards the entrance of the briefing room. There had been a vague approach of a parting, as though Admiral Slaughter was about to arrive.

 

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(( @Talyn Orin ,  @MSA , @TerrorBot))

 

“I see,” Slaughter grunted irritably. “The Jedi Order has always had strange operational standards. Possible that their Grandmaster is personally briefing that Jedi Knight, probably has her own agenda for Korriban. Agent, I’d appreciate a hand… yeah, that has it… pfasking hells.” Slaughter growled in frustration as he attempted to haul his body back into the wheelchair, eventually discarding his pride and asking for a helping hand. “We’ll take the briefing to them.”

 

Wheels squeaking obnoxiously every few revolutions, Slaughter barrelled forth, followed by a staffer jogging after him with his calculations and a tall marine whose posture was so ramrod straight that she seemed perpetually clad in armor. “Glad to have you, Bryce. Briefing of the approach will be yours--you scouted it, might as well brief ‘em on it.”

 

The amazonian marine just flashed a cheerful grin as they entered the briefing room. “Admiral on deck! she cried out, a call that was almost certain to be acknowledged only with a nod or perhaps a bow from one of the Jedi. The Jedi Grandmaster stiffened visibly and assumed a stiff posture that was almost worthy of a unit inspection, before remembering herself and folding her arms across her back. At that moment, the holoprojectors finally came online and displayed a three-dimensional image of a topographical map. Crags in the field twisted and rose and fell with the daunting slopes of a wind-swept series of ravines. Beyond it lay a relatively flat region with crude holoprojections of buildings and a starport, red formations indicating likely positions of hostile fortifications. 

 

The assault team would soon become very familiar with this terrain. Those twisting ravines and cracked badlands were the terrain of the Valley of the Dark Lords.

 

“Gentlebeings,” The marine began. She stood even taller than RUIN, was powerfully muscled, and stood stiffly upright as though to accentuate the belt-spat that hung from her waist. “I am Captain Bryce, Talons Brigade aboard the Third Fleet. You will be familiar that our objective is Korriban. Long-term stronghold of the Sith Empire, profound cultural importance to the Dark Lords, occasional capital… hopefully to be no more. We’ve spent significant effort in preparing for this assault, topographical surveys by the Jedi Order and infiltration by the Rebel Alliance.

 

“All data suggests that the Sith Order has heavily fortified the Valley and Dreshdae spaceport. Magnify sector eight, please. In the past, we may have risked a prolonged bombardment and siege, but those resources are not available. We will need to rely on the element of surprise.”  On the holoprojector, a tiny fleet emerged from hyperspace. A pair of capital ships were visible--a Star Destroyer and a Mon Cal--along with a smattering of frigates, corvettes, and a slew of heavy freighters, but it was a pathetically tiny fleet for the mission of capturing the enemy’s cultural capital. A series of blue pinpricks deviated from that formation and descended towards the planet on an oblique path towards the Sith city. 

 

“The assault team and the Y-Wings of Wurm Squadron will arrive seven minutes prior to the remainder of the fleet and make an unpowered descent into atmosphere. Our fleet will meanwhile put on a demonstration. That should allow us to escape detection. Seismic scans revealed several paths through the outskirts of the Valley that can be safely navigated by assault shuttles and starfighters. We will make a ground-hugging approach through those valleys until we have line-of-sight with the valley, at which point our starfighters will strike their first targets and provide air support while we hit ours. Top priorities are their anti-orbital missile launchers and point-defense cannons.

 

“Knocking out a few of those will allow our fleet to move in with starfighters and corvettes. They will provide air support and close-range bombardments to assist in defeating the local garrison. Admiral–”

 

“Yes. Multiple complications exist." Slaughter growled from his wheelchair, barely half the height of his marine commander. "There are a number of civilians of great interest. Alliance sympathizers, likely held in this quote ‘rehabilitation facility’ unquote here. Several others have managed to remain at liberty, locations are being divulged to other ground units as part of their mission packages. These people will need to be located and secured ASAP. They may be useful in forming a transition government.


“The second is the presence of the Sith–the, uh, species, I mean. Their numbers within the Valley and Dreshdae are minimal, but they may form the core of an insurrection in the future. Now, Agent Orin? What else have you to add?”

Edited by ObliviousKnight

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Sanguis struggled for the most part to understand the small buzz droid, but 'her' words weren't completely lost upon him. It took a brief moment of thought to subconsciously collate her speech patterns with chirps and beeps he understood with those he didn't. A furrowed brow only suggested this without words needing to be spoken before he attempted a basic response.

 

"I have no doubt of his intelligence, little one." His furrowed brow remained as he silently questioned the Alliance's need of such a droid for this mission. His gaze shifted to RUIN as he continued. "My worries lay with his programming."

 

Briefly breaking the fourth wall here, while Æquitas' writer may love and enjoy the prospect of RUIN's character, Æquitas' training and recent experiences on Nar Shadaa had left a disdained taste in his mouth for combat and he had yet to completely work through it. Whether or not Æquitas was a potential liability wasn't in question as of yet, but he had come to attempt to avoid confrontation unless backed into an inescapable corner. In response to his PTSD and without the guidance of his former Master, he had come to heavily rely upon the tenants of the Jedi Order as a metaphorical crutch and overtly put a burden upon his psyche. Only in this mission, would he gain the necessary clarity to move on.

 

But within the confines of the fourth wall, Æquitas had yet to learn the simple lesson that some things are beyond control and sometimes you simply have to let go and let existence prevail. And so his mind remained fractured between duty and belief as RUIN's words worried him. Shifted his gaze upon the latest arrivals and the return of Agent Orin, Sanguis turned his form to greet them.

 

As per his recent typical, Æquitas listened in silence during the briefing while disregarding most of the plans placed, his conscious memorizing most of it while his subconscious sought alternative means. After all, he was one man, and his objectives could adapt as needed. And yet, Master Draygo-Darkfire's words still hung at the forefront of his thoughts. As a Jedi, it was his duty to protect life at the cost of his own. And he would do this to the best of his ability. But war is war, and he had yet to face the true brunt of it's blade. In its chaos, he would blossom into a beacon....

 

But the path would be strife.

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“There is a further complication. I would very much like to peel Korriban away from the Sith Empire’s cultural influence. Long shot, but the attempt has to be taken. There are a number of Alliance sympathizers that will need to be located, potentially protected from reprisals in case the assault becomes stalled. Conversely, widespread devastation will complicate a transition… a challenging situation.”

 

Ruin seemed to nod at this. 

 

“Controlled bashing. Kill Sith. Only Sith.”

 

Fera elaborated. >Not to worry, Ruin’s primary programming is to kill only Sith and active Sith sympathizers. I can speak from observation that he will not kill innocents in the process<

 

Æquitas’ words made Ruin take another look at the Jedi and seemed to nod at him. There was a pause of silence between the two, and then Ruin held a thumb’s up to the Jedi. 

 

“Huntings and hurtings. Then restings and…” Ruin seemed to wave his hand a bit, trying to find the right word, but after a few moments of failure, the large Terror droid shrugged and gave the thumbs up again towards the Jedi. Whatever the droid meant, this time Fera did not elaborate almost to indicate that even she wasn't fully sure what Ruin meant. 

 

When the admiral came in, Ruin’s attention was fully on whoever was speaking. Fera seemed to be paying little detail to the speakers and instead was scanning around the room at the others, but in reality she was recording what was being said for future reference to Ruin. 

 

Surprise and demise” Ruin commented a little louder then probably what would’ve been preferred. “Hell’s heart, stabbings for thee”

 

>I’d be quite for now Ruin< Fera beeped quietly. At this Ruin became more stoic. 

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Talyn listened as Admiral Slaughter mentioned the possibility that the Jedi Grandmaster had her own agenda for Korriban, just like so many others in the past. He assumed it was just like the Admiral had said, for whenever he had met a force-user there had always been something more. Sometimes he wished he had their gift, to gain a perspective into what they think...but most of the time he was content with his lot in life. He was one of many lacking that particular set of skills but made up for it in other ways.

 

 He answered briefly before they left, as he assisted the Admiral to where the others were gathered.

 

 "Your probably right Admiral, I have never known a Force-User to not have some kind of hidden agenda. Granted they are useful but personally they give me the creeps...the things I seen them do shouldn't even be possible."

 

 With that he wheeled the man out, followed by his member of staff,  careful not to bash him into anyone and making sure they moved swiftly out of the way when they saw just who it was being wheeled through. Each was rather quick to offer a quick salute, at least the military personnel did. He stopped briefly as a tall amazonian marine soon joined them in walking to the tent. He offered her a crisp salute in respect to another officer. 

 

He was interested in what she had to say after overhearing she was to in part give the briefing. He spoke briefly as they walked.

 

 "Your reputation precedes you Captain Bryce, much like the good Admiral here. I look forward to working with you both."

 

 After that he fell quiet as the briefing began. Although his eyes couldn't help but briefly wander upon the two strange droids before them. One a Terror droid of all things, he had heard stories about the things but never thought he would see one up close. So far this one amused him with it's weird vocabulary. The other appeared to be a Buzz droid of some sort, a strange pairing indeed. It would be interesting working with those two that much was certain. Listening closely as he wheeled the Admiral closer so he could sit next to Captain Bryce and easily reach the console if he needed too.

 

Walking, he went and stood next to the other Agents and members of the team as Captain Bryce and Admiral Slaughter laid out the plan for Korriban. It seemed sound enough, although he would try and ensure the droids didn't get too over excited and decide to take out the local Tsis species along with the Sith and their allies. He wasn't sure if they could tell the difference between them and the Order. So he decided to emphasize that point for their benefit more than the others.

 

 "Nothing really Admiral and Captain Bryce. Other than to emphasize and reiterate for our droid companions that the local red skinned species, known as the Tsis are to for now to be treated as potential allies. The Jedi Grandmaster and the Alliance in general from what I understand wishes to open up diplomatic relations with them in the future and seek to end their reliance upon the Sith government should the liberation be a successful endeavour. Likewise the rumoured city in the mountains, near the volcanic passes known to the local population as the City Of Ur and any non hostile Tsis settlements we might come across..is to be left alone at least for now unless in defence of your life. Other than that, that is all Admiral unless you both or anyone else have something to add."

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Very few Sith began their journey with that soul ambition. It was true that many came from trauma, only to later inflict a trauma on all those who they interacted with later in their journey. Was it calloused self deception? Or a selfish desire that led them to choose the swiftest path to healing? The thought was one that had constantly tickled at the back of her mind since her encounter with her old mentor in the Maw. Even in that small reflection she could feel the warmth of his blood on her hands. And the smell of boiling flesh and blood crept into the back of her nostrils with her next breath. If she let it, the memory could overwhelm her, dragging her back to the Eternal Vigilance as it was being pulled into the abyss of the Maw. But it was important to not let such a memory have a power over her, and with a blink the face of her old mentor was replaced by the pretty face of the twi’lek. 

 

That, afterall, was the life of a Jedi, to deal with the traumas of a galaxy in a century of nearly constant war, while dealing with their own personal journey. So she listened to the woman’s tale, reflecting upon how she could have been in the very same place if she had made only a few other decisions in her own life. And would she have had the strength to pull herself out? Sandy did not know, but she did know that the Twi’lek should be commended for surviving such a tragic journey. And that she would be a lifelong friend. 

 

“Thank you for trusting me with your experiences. You will never go back, not if I have any say in the matter!” She gave the woman a genuine smile. “If you saw these old masters before you now, say if Exodus walked through those doors behind you, what would you do? Would you seek a revenge for your treatment?” 

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Calix Meus Inebrians

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“An acceptable complication. Our goal is minimal disruption of civilian infrastructure. Our squadron lacks the firepower to conduct an effective bombardment.” Slaughter allowed a grin to slowly spread across his face, a grim sight that provoked a warning glare from the Jedi Grandmaster. Pragmatic politics hadn’t been one of the motivations that the Admiral had anticipated from her. He would have expected some absurd wish to preserve archaeological sites within the Valley or minimizing damage to Dreshdae spaceport. Avoiding an unnecessary engagement with a distant third partywould be comparatively simple.

 

“Fleet departure will be in…” Slaughter glanced at a chronometer. At this point, the fleet’s tenders should be just about finished transferring fuel. “Two hours. Goes without saying that you have access to the fleet’s armories. Dismissed.”

 

Salutes followed, and the Admiral wheeled himself away. He refused to allow himself to be pushed or to be overtaken by the captain of his fleet’s marines as they passed through the military base and refugee camps. The effort and muggy sweat that beaded on his brow as he made his way to the troop transports was a distraction from the impossible logistics challenge that the Galactic Alliance would be facing in the near future: the necessary task of relocating the millions of refugees to their homes or a tolerable star system to rebuild their lives. That was only one world: there were dozens of star systems that hosted camps as large as the ones on Ylesia. Returning the galaxy to something resembling normalcy would be an impossible task… but one that was necessary for establishing the new government’s legitimacy.

 

In comparison, trying to integrate decades of outdated starfighters and other materiel into the fleet was a simple task. There were only two mixes of fuel that had been used by the majority of starfighters since the Battle of Yavin… and dozens of atmospheric mixes that were considered “optimal” by at least one sapient species.

 

Reflecting on the comparative simplicity of fleet logistics left him unguarded for the site that greeted him on the deck of Fidelity’s starboard hangar. A mixed squadron of X-Wings and Y-Wings was being crawled over by a small army of technicians. The skull-piercing whine of repulsorlifts filled the air. 

 

None of the Y-Wings had any armor on their chassis. Wiring and sensors and various unidentifiable electronics were exposed on the underlying structure of those bombers. The armor plates that should have been protecting the structure of the starfighters was nowhere to be seen–as though they had never been installed in the first place. His face starting to break out in ugly patches of red, Slaughter determinedly wheeled over to a starfighter that was being inspected by his deck chief, a striking red-skinned Twi’lek woman.

 

“Chief, what the hell is all this? Or lack of all this.” Slaughter pointed up towards an unprotected engine nacelle as though his fingers were laser cannons.

 

“Admiral! Yeah-ah, funny thing about that.” Veth straightened and her voice deepened to a more professional tone at the sight of a vein that was beginning to twitch in the Admiral’s forehead. “Apparently standard practice during the days of the Rebel Alliance was to remove the armor plates on the engine nacelles. They ran their fighters pretty hard during the old days and needed to furnish a lot of nonstandard jury-rigs. My guess is that they figured if they got pounced by an interdictor during their hit-and-run attacks, they had bigger problems than some missing armor. There’s probably a warehouse out there filled with nothing but old Y-Wing armor plates and bolts. Sir.”

 

Slaughter stared at the organized madness of cables that was visible on the fuselage of the fighter-bomber before him. Of course some lunatic in Besh-Ord would have hoarded all of the removed armor and squirrelled them away into a warehouse on some distant Outer Rim world.. only for them to be forever forgotten due to a hiccup in some tracking software or misfiled paperwork. He started to giggle–and then devolved into full belly laughs at the familiar, ever-present moronicity that plagued military bureaucracies of all nations.

 

“Carry on, Commander. Heh heh.” Still chuckling, Slaughter wheeled away and made for the bridge of his flagship. In just a little less than an hour, the fleet would be departing for hyperspace.

 

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