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“Change targets, concentrate on remaining infantry. Close in on Command.”

 

Meaning of course that the Survivours and wounded should be brought to the feet of the Dark Lord Exodus. And by the look of the explosive surge of water coming their way, they did not have much time. Delta glanced back down at his hand and stared at the two orbs, still clutched in his left hand and considered expending the volatile weapons on the water volume but decided the risks were too high. So instead he let the two orbs fall into his dump pouch and reached down into the rising water. He fished for a second with a hand before he grabbed the unconscious Blacktorin, then he easily hauled the young woman from the water and pulled her into a carry that placed her slight weight over his shoulders. 

 

The majority of the Darkhand who still lived came running or limping in leaps and bounds over the uneven terrain, splashing to form a protective ring around the Sith Lord, their weapons spitting deadly fire at the remnants of the droids. 

 

This fight was surely almost done, and with a glance Delta was glad that the Dark Lord had deigned to join them. For he had saved his men, here in the mire and muck of Mon Calamari. The spores or whatever they were, would be destroyed poste haste, but for now there was not much else to do but wait. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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“Ah… better” Xar muttered as the dead head fell from his claws. He felt new. Invigorated. Energized even. He had eaten his fill. A droid’s memory, or whatever it was, now belonged to him. Many new files to sort through. So much data to study and examine. 

 

“But that is for another time” Xar commented as the explosion attracted his attention. It seemed that the others were doing themselves fine. The maw of flesh and teeth had been wounded briefly by a grenade. It seemed now was his time to shine. 

 

He however didn’t get a chance to. 

 

Water started flooding upwards again as the dA burst of flooding water drew Xar’s attention away from the action before him. The droids who were holding back the flood did so no longer. Whether it was because of a command from their ‘master’ or because they sensed their partner had gotten mentally eaten, they now were focused on Nok and himself. Xar barely got a glimpse of them before he got tackled and sent into the water. 

 

They were strong. Their gears, while older, were built in a way to maximize strength. The equivalent of brawn over speed. If it wasn’t for the water, Xar would have shouted insults about how these droids should have touched their superior. After all, he had eaten one of them. He had their mind’s as well as his own. 

 

A quick run through the newly acquired files gave him an idea how to defeat these attackers. While they attempted to tear apart his frame with pure strength, Xar preferred precision. A hunter always did. And he had their schematics. 

 

Claws began to vibrate. Xar lowered his arm below his attacker on top of him. Specifically below its chest. With a quick action, Xar plunged a dagger-esque claw into the droid, piercing its metal hide and, more importantly, its power cell. A jolt of electricity forced Xar to pull back, but the damage was done. The droid on him became lifeless. 

 

The other was more fortunate however. With a fury, it tried to grab Xar’s legs and pull him down. Xar had trouble fighting back. He was not built for underwater combat. He was built for hunting. In vain he tried to grab onto whatever surface he could find, but the droid continued to drag him. 

Then Xar had an idea. With the dead droid still in range, Xar grabbed its arm and with his other claw, sliced at a connection point at the shoulder. With new weapon in hand, Xar swung the awkward club through the water, smacking his other attacker. The blow wasn’t enough to kill, but enough to dent and stun. Xar pulled himself closer to it and with another stab into the thing’s brain, made it lifeless again. 

 

Xar pulled himself out of the water again, annoyed as usual. 

 

“You owe us a lot of money Nok! Now kill that Sith-traiter thing! Then we can get out of here.”
 

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ASSIMILATION

 


IM-A-761 Oceanic Garrisons
Aquatic Assault Stormtroopers
AT-AT Swimmers
TIE Fighter Boats
Aquadon CAVa 400s
Aquadon Combat Aquaspeeders
Mon Calamari Shipyards
Mon Calamari Submersibles
Mon Calamari Subworks

 


Terrorism, plague and a violent colossus of a creature drunk on malevolence; What were the Jedi doing here? The expeditionary forces of the Sith Empire were an immovable justice of iron-will, and without them, this world would succumb to disaster. It would seem that the rebellion and the Jedi themselves worked to release blight against these people, while the terrorism of Morjanssik opened up freely in the streets. Darkhand had traced them beneath the rat-holes, grinding the subversive scheme to a halt.

The Sith Empire would take this world into it's deep protection..

But that would come at a price for those that sheltered the seditious.

 

 


They came from almost every inhabited planet drafted to the claim of the Sith Empire. Hundreds of civilized and uncivilized systems had sent their sons and daughters to the trenches of Imperial Naval Boot Camps, where these soon-to-be warriors were set aside for specialized training in the Naval Gunnery Service. Once they graduated their terms with exceptional performance, they were given their uniforms and their parameters with the Sith-Imperial machine. Now they found themselves at their battle stations staring at monitors that unscrambled the hostile water world below. Most of them had been at their stations for hours, whether it was a power feed and modulation control, targeting and acquisition, firing control, or even fuel level monitoring, every Imperial knew their job and was ready to perform their duty at peak efficiency. Then the order came. "Prepare for bombardment."

 

Thousands of safety measures were removed and charging throttles switched to a more lethal charge, the high explosive-low penetration setting of the heavy turbolasers. If necessary, they would wipe these floating cities off the face of the planet below, but still leave it ripe for conquest. Each warship dipped their bow so that every weapon could be brought to bear, like hounds showing their teeth for the world to see. Primary targets were squarely lined up in the sights of the main batteries of the fleet, while secondary targets were secured by rallying Sith-Imperial intelligence.

 

The Xhendora-Class Dreadnought Goliath opened fire, rippling across the atmosphere and punching through the radical regime as easily as wet paper. This resistance was the machinations of the Rebels, a dangerous one that was opening them up to a horror beneath the sea, and their insolence would need to be evaporated from this world. Shielded heavy turbolasers erupted over the regressing Morjanssik. Within seconds, spread out across the planet, nine Imperial I-class star destroyers and a bevy of Kuati destroyers fixed fired upon twenty different target acquisitions across the largest threats on Mon Calamari. Clusters of twin-barreled turbolasers instantly punched holes in the ozone and evaporated cloud cover over their intended targets, before the vessels themselves sunk lower to cast shade across the rabid planet.

 

Venator-Class Star Destroyers made an appearance as well, trickling in behind predetermined formations. Veterans from past wars spread their confidence as heavy weaponry surrounded the target cities that had been selected as Target Dawn and Target Dusk. More than fourteen warships aimed to cut off all access in and out of the target zones. Spread out across the planet, numerous Acclamator-Class Assault Ships floated the great seas and sharpened their turbolasers towards ground and navy bases within proximity, and opened fire wherever necessary for a full minute after the Goliath began his bombardment on the plagued Morjanssik. Alternatively, the Inquisition kept briefed on the position of Darkhand and their Emperor-King, using their new strategic alignment to send for them with impressive haste and machines.

 

At lower orbit the fleet's light cruisers targeted the deep bunkers and submerged aquatic vehicles of the Mon Calamari defense forces. IM-A-761 Oceanic Garrisons unloaded and outstretched like lotuses across the waters, buoyancy attributed to the powerful repulsorlifts embedded deep into the individual garrisons. Project Assimilation was a simple, and thorough integration of the Sith Machine, endorsed heavily by the recently restored Inquisition. Full seizure of the shipyards, and the subworks were heavy-handed and immediate, breeding unbridled access to the unique resources of the planet. Aquatic Assault Stormtroopers were mobilized in the same month that subject Morliss was instructed to conduct reconnaissance and unearth the activities of a planet rooted in opposition. Nok had done more than he had realized, and as a result, these specialized troopers moved to dominate the marines. 


The artillerymen aboard the slew of star destroyers and the escort frigates sited their weapons on the thousands of naval vessels that had reacted to their presence on this world with immediate aggression. They were informed of their treason, and Sith Intelligence had ordered that particular attention be given to the enemy vessels that championed this anarchist movement. Ground squadrons were the first to fall in an iron rain, but there were others that held themselves in reserve for special duties, on high alert for specific instruction. Those orders came quickly enough from the pipeline, ordering them into action against several secondary cities below, committing a loaded brunt of auxiliary force to take key command points of the planet. 

 

Green or red hued plasma and heavy laser blasts seared through the upper atmosphere before smashing into their targets a millionth of a second later. Not a single Imperial in the fleet questioned how many were disintegrated and murdered with each firing of their weapons, for war had let loose again in the galaxy. News of the Kuat battle had reached the forces, and the hate for it spread like wildfire to the ears. Some thought of their own families and friends positioned elsewhere and how they were protecting them. Others remembered the dead at Onderon and Dark Sun Station and felt sheer retribution whenever they pulled their firing lanyards. Most remembered their service to the Empire and knew that any threat to their supremacy had to be eliminated. All remembered their duty to the Emperor King.
 

 

 

And for their strength, Lord Exodus would remunerate them.

 

 

Unbelievable seismic power hummed beneath the feet of the King, spreading faster than the old creature could fall. Those that closed in on his positioned would feel a pressure comparable to stalwart winds pressing against their bodies, while a mounting heat brushed into the shells of their regalia. A gravitational energy began to separate the rising waters around them with tectonic strength, carving a seething spherical force completely around all those wise enough to heed the call. There was such an intensity in the atmosphere, that the broken infrastructure of the laboratory began to wither and melt into dust. From the rear, waters unleashed and threatened to sweep them from their feet, while an invincible surge of ocean down-surged from where the monster had been forcibly released. There was a hiccup, as if a momentary lapse in time allowed realization to settle into those that were near, a merciful premonition to those gifted enough to feel it. Then the flood collided with sheer violence, and the Dark King roared with absolute strain. 

 

The wild repulsive sphere was more aggression than preservation, struggling profusely against the tension of mother nature, biting back so that she knew who it was that she now faced. The sphere etched itself cleanly around those nearby (all are free to include themselves if you move within range), burning with a scorching hiss. It was if an explosive repulse was crudely contained against the elements. His body rattled with an awakening of rooted impulse, super-heating his blood and sweat beneath his pitch-black armored plates. The stress of the ocean was so dense that the color had drained from his eyes without his license, igniting with a brilliance of power as a near-unstoppable force met with an indomitable one. If the Dark King could hold out, the encroachment of the ocean would settle out within these confines as it became fully submerged, and then they could dash hundreds of feet to the surface once more.

 

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Delta watched the walls of water slowly close about them, walls of near instant, crushing death. He watched the death come and reflected on the irony that it no Jedi could have killed them. The Blood prince and his King Emperor, even in death, would carry the banner of being undefeated on the field of battle from Onderon to Mon Calamari. He dimly hoped that he had stored his DNA recently, but the water stopped. It not only stopped, but came to a sudden crashing halt before the power of the force. He involuntarily took a step backwards in pure awe. He had seen such things before, even the deceased Jedi whose red body was submerged somewhere in the chamber had thrown up a protective barrier. But it had been futile and inept, absorbing only a handful of blaster bolts before he was run through with the power of Sith combined arms. But this was monstrous, this was the force in its fullest, the power of the gods of old. 

 

Shocked faces looked back at him from the troops, some behind expressionless helmets, but still he could feel their amazement. 

 

Close up

 

He mouthed, and as a unified group the soldiers pressed close to the Dark Lord, giving him space but freeing enough room should he need to shrink the bubble of force. Delta gestured to the two medics who were working silently on one of the dying men. They looked up and nodded, standing and letting the man submerge below the still waters. What was next was only for the living. 

 

Tir-Oxen two doses, every soldier, prepare to treat anyone who may develop the bends. 

 

Delta pulled Blacktorin so that she was leaning against his knee and accepted the four vials from the Medics. He placed them systematically into the hopper of his hypospray and injected them into their necks. He took a deep breath and then began to pray. And above him the aquatic forces of the Sith began their approach. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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                The world was literally bursting apart at the seams as this unholy poison strained and pushed against the cage that contained it while going through its death throes. It was time to leave, especially with more agents of the poison gathering like infection around a wound. It was foolish to think that the galaxy could be saved in a day, and even more so to try and do it alone. As the waters came crashing in on the cave, T’ali’au quietly disappeared beneath the rising tides and made her way through a series of fissures out to the wider expanse of the ocean. 

 

                 Today wasn’t a victory for the forces of creation, but at least there were threads of hope in that a greater poison had been quelled, and as long as life persisted, the chance for future victories remained. Perhaps the most important lesson from today was that the galaxy needed the people of Scarif as much as Scarif needed the galaxy. It was time to stand together against the beasts that rampaged through the worlds.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

                  Some time later, T’ali’au was back on the surface and departing the planet. The Imperial navy was focusing its attention on bigger fish, and the chartered freighter was able to slip by unnoticed, or at least unchallenged.

 

OOC((Evac and leaving through imperial lines was cleared by Ex before posting))

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On 7/14/2020 at 11:09 AM, Leena Kil said:

Behind the group, the three droids that had been holding back the deluge stopped. The purple glow on their hands fading as they turned, the thunderous crash of water filling the cavern as they turned, sure footed and leapt. Two towards Xar, reaching and grasping for wires and loose plates, tearing and pulling. Another at Nok Morliss, intent on rendering flesh from bone with it’s vice-like fingers.

Nok turned his sightless gaze on the droid, hands remaining still as he touched the Force. Fear ran through him, crystallizing and echoing through his will. Nok was a part of the Force, a spreading stain like blood in the water. This creature was a simple machine, a tool.

 

He inhaled, exhaled, and pushed. The droid slipped and slammed into the water as Nok shot its feet out from under it. It was up in a second, and barreling towards Nok.

 

"Fine. I'd hoped to discourage you, but..."

 

Nok waited as the droid closed in, durasteel fingers extended. He waited...waited...waited.

 

The droid reached for his neck.

 

"No."

 

Nok ignited the lightsaber he'd taken from the zeltron. He might not have been trained to use it, but pointing it away from him while concealing it in his sleeve was well within his skills.

 

The droid jerked to a stop as the blade penetrated its neck. Its red lights flickered briefly, then went dead.

 

Quote

“You owe us a lot of money Nok! Now kill that Sith-traitor thing! Then we can get out of here.” 

 

"Never fear, you're getting paid. Now we just need to figure out how we're going to escape alive."

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“Perhaps your sith friends can help us both” Xar commented as he glanced at the Sith forces and more specific, the one sith being that he couldn’t help but admire. 

 

Xar wasn’t sure what was going on. Perhaps it was magic, perhaps it was something else like an advanced hidden ray shield. Xar wondered if some species had developed technology to withstand the pressures of deep sea and of crumbling ruins. A quick tingle in his circuitry told him that whatever the being was doing could save him. Remnants of the droid he had 'eaten'. Xar wasn’t sure if he could trust it. 

 

Still, that being of power, whom the soldiers followed so mindlessly, had some kind of answer. 

 

Xar only hoped that the being, and whatever he was doing, would allow the two in whatever it was doing with the…

 

“Soldiers…” Xar muttered, having a thought. 

 

He turned and grabbed Nok and began to drag the Neimodian towards the rest of the people. As he did, he shouted as well as spoke on the frequency that he had used to contact the soldiers earlier. “Soldiers of the Sith! We bring with us one of your own! Do not shoot!”  With the ocean crashing around them, Xar, with the determination only a machine could bring, charged forward, practically dragging his partner with him. The message he sent was repeated over and over, in order to make sure he was heard.

 

Through crashing waters that nearly took his own feet out from under him, Xar charged. More then once he began to slip, only to barely catch himself. Every millisecond mattered. Within moments this place would be destroyed, and, regrettably for the rest of the galaxy, him included. He had to make it. 

 

A crack behind Xar told him enough. A wall had crumbled, and a wall of water was rushing towards him. It was now or never. 

 

“Now Nok! Jump!” 

 

With that command, Xar himself let go of the Nemoidian and leapt forward. The burning hiss around Xar told him he had succeeded. He crashed into the floor and immediately crouched near the soldiers, though he couldn't tell who was their leader, and he dared not disturb the being the sphere was centered on. So instead he spoke to the nearest being.

 

“We are Xar, and that Neimodian is Mr. Neer, or better known as Nok. He claims to be one of you. Thus you owe him some form of protection until we get out of this, and in turn, owe us the same level of protection.”

 

Xar looked Nok over. He had seen the weapon the Nemoidian had used. And he knew where it came from. The gun Xar had used, and regrettably dropped in the battle, came from the same dead lesser being.  Xar would question him later. The crashing and thundering of waters took precedence. 

 

Xar hated this. All he could do was watch what happened around him. 

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Flesh and machine moved in around him, his senses knew this innately, but his concentration stoked different flames. Seething energy flushed them forward, swimmingly through the black lightless depths, motioning them through the gaping hole of the laboratory, towards the flurry of targeted spotlights that powered from above. Exodus was of instinctual mind, channeling his energy to overcompensate for the immense pressure, and then lessening the lean to ease into the natural force of the open sea.

A wild lotus spread of prefabricated garrisons, high in number and function, unraveled above them. Aquatic strongholds began to root themselves with extreme efficiencies. Reconnaissance vessels of all shapes and sizes scurried the parameters and made their way to intercept the uncanny grouping. Each of them were recovered, some in better shape than others, all with their own paths to carve from here on out.

The mystery of the Deep would not be one loosely forgotten however, the research teams here would continue to dig into the monstrosities that the rebellion had let loose on this planet, and discover ways to turn such misfortune into opportunity for the Sith-Imperial Machine.

 

 

 

(Okay everyone, quick post, feel free to make your way from here. Sort out where you want to go, and make the best of it. Exodus boards the Goliath and leaves to join a contingent of the Imperial Navy. There will be a sizable force left behind as the occupation is fresh and settling. Coordinate OOCly if need be. Hope to do this again!)

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Nok breathed. In. Out. In. Out.

 

He stood on the edge of the burning city, Sith soldiers running around him as his Sith savior strode away surrounded by troops.

 

You survived.

 

I survived.

 

The cold, the dark, the shadow of death had hung over him but failed to hold him down. His focus shifted to the lightsaber hilt in his hand. He had survived where another died.

 

I was right. I was always right. But it's not enough...

 

I've hidden for so long, been so afraid of revealing myself, of coming into the light. Hiding isn't an option anymore. I am Sith. Enemies will be drawn to this power, enemies I may not understand or see coming. Monsters that will see through the shadows.

 

I need more. I need power.

 

As if in answer, a wave roared against the city barriers, temporarily overcoming the screams and howling flames. Nok's mind, coming down off the adrenaline, began to assemble something like an idea. Disparate pieces wove together into a picture, something vivid and daring. He saw the future of this world. He saw how it could be his.

 

Nok breathed. In. Out. In. Out. And he smiled.

 

"Xar! I believe I owe you some payment? And if you're interested...I have a job for you."

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Xar stumbled forward towards the Neimodian, who was a short distance away. He detected smoke around him, carried by the winds from the destruction of the sith fleet overhead had caused. Ahead Xar could see flames in the distance, and the sounds of people trying to put together what had been damaged reached his superior sensors.  


The droid certainly looked worse for wear. He had a large dent in his head plate from a police baton, and a large hole in his side from being bitten by the monster below. His claws were covered with dried blood. His once dark green chassis was stained black, brown and yellow from sewage. Some sewage even dripped out of the cracks in his body, despite being doused in water enough to drown a Nautalon. 


“Commencing system scan” Xar buzzed at he ran a test over everything in him.  The results did not make him happy. Several damaged wires needed replacing. All the motors needed grease and cleaning. Power pack was damaged and needed a replacement. Comm unit needing a tune up. And those were just the interior faults. Xar was a being who cared about cosmetics. His bearing needed to be brought back to top-quality and an oil bath wouldn't be enough. 


And there was also the issue of the virus or whatever Xar had integrated into himself. He was confident it was subservient to him, but part of his wondered at its full potential. Could it turn on him? Could he use it on others if needed? Being that it had infected a good deal of his programming, it would’ve been impossible to remove without destroying himself. So it was there to stay. 


"Xar! I believe I owe you some payment? And if you're interested...I have a job for you."


The Hunter-trainer droid stood next to the Neimodian and looked up at it. Being a foot shorter than the insectoid was a bit annoying to him. He should be above his partner. 


“Money first, then we can discuss any future business ventures. One moment...” Xar looked away as he ran through his databanks everything that had taken place from when he was ‘hired’ to now. Several beeps emitted from his speakers as numbers and calculations ran through his minds.


“You offered payment for all of our services as well as any damages we sustained. This included the navigation of those scum-infested sewers and all the warnings and protections involved from the environment, though your suicidal attempt at falling were not included. We also killed that individual who threatened us AFTER" Xar's claws clenched up into what could only be assumed was a fist "you forced us to try to rescue her. Good riddance to her. We also kept the party in communication with the Sith Forces and was able to secure a passage out of that Sith laboratory.”


Some of these statements were exaggerations, but Xar didn’t care. 


“We also fought the monster and the droids down in that laboratory. After the failed attempt at destroying us, the monster turned its attention elsewhere.  However we were able to secure vital information about that laboratory, and the droids that helped guard it. This was all done despite the fact that you lied to us.”


Xar looked up at Nok again and tried to extend himself as much as possible, an impossible attempt to make himself the same height as his partner.


“Unless you want to replace our damaged parts yourself, which we demand top quality, you owe us a total of 120,000 credits. 800 more if you want the information we had learned about what we fought against. 2,000 more for the schematics of those droids below. Something we know you Neimodians love to get your hands on, and we doubt you will be able to retrieve their chassis anytime soon. And if you want to purchase THAT from us…”


Xar looked down and pointed at the weapon that Nok had acquired. The weapon of that irritating lesser that Xar had killed. The weapon that by all rights, was the droid’s.  Xar almost wanted to destroy it, just to elimate any evidence that the Zeltron ever existed. Perhaps she had a ship he could destory. Not like she was going to use it now. 


“That will cost extra. We do not know how it works but we do not intend to pass it up without compensation.”


Xar knew he was overcharging Nok, and he secretly suspected Nok knew it too. But Xar needed some of that cash, and fast. With Hamilton most likely dead and his business gone, the deal for Black Sun was a bust. Xar did not intend to return empty handed. And while he couldn’t return with the drugs, perhaps enough credits would work. Plus, Xar also gave exemplary service. You paid for what you got after all. And to Xar, Nok got the best service. 


Xar looked back up at Nok  and stated plainly “If you can pay for this, Then we will hear your offer. After all, working alongside a liar who can’t pay for one job is not worth working with.” 

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Posted (edited)

Nok turned to the droid, and studied for several long moments. Then, he pulled out a datapad, and began tapping at it.

 

When he finally spoke, his voice was smooth and amiable.

 

"120,000 was the amount we originally agreed on if you got me to the source of the voice and got me out again without serious injury. Seeing as I also offered to pay you for any injuries or repairs, I'm going to round that up to 140,000 credits. Unless you're planning on coating yourself in liquid chromium, that will be the extent I'll pay for repairs. If you disagree, feel free to provide me with a maintenance quote indicating you incurred over 20,000 credits worth of damage." The amount stung, but Nok would make it up once he gutted Meer Medical and sold the equipment and freighters to the cartels. "I'll also pay the 2800 for the schematics and info now as well," he said, tapping a few more times on the datapad. "Counting the 15,000 I already gave you, that's...127,800 credits."

 

He lowered the datapad and pulled out the lightsaber, staring down at it as the aches and bruises of the last few hours emanated soft ripples in the Force and outlined the hilt.

 

"I will not pay for this. Not because I can't afford to, but as a matter of principle." He lifted his sightless gaze to meet Xar's. "You killed her, true, but this is mine. I'm not going to throw out any technical smokescreens or legalistic jargon to defend myself. If I were in your position, I'd probably do what you're doing. I'm not going to make this into a lesson or a power play or some display of superiority. 

 

I'm simply making a claim.

 

This. Is. Mine.

 

If that's a problem, then simply type in the ID code of the account of your choice here," he said, holding out the datapad where a credit transfer of 127,800 was ready to be confirmed, "and do what you need to do. I have a job offer for you that could easily triple what you're about to make." He held the datapad out further. "I won't surrender on this Xar. The choice is yours."

 

Nok waited. In the cold, clean corridors of his logical mind, he knew he was being foolish. He should just pay the droid for the weapon and move on. But he wouldn't. There was a line he wouldn't cross, a time when surrendering wasn't just part of a plot or the smart move but when it was true surrender. This was that line, that time.

 

I ate the howlrunner to prove something. I won't surrender.

 

 

Edited by Nok Morliss
Wrong credit amount
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  • 2 weeks later...

Xar calculated the amount in his head and thought. The entire job was a pain in the exhaust port. He deserved clearly much more then this, though he had voiced it for less. However, Nok was not paying him for the weapon that, by all rights, belonged to the droid. 

 

Still, money was money. Xar calculated that a large percentage of it would have to go to Black Sun to pay for the loss of the illegal drugs. But even a percentage of the left over would be enough to replace his parts, and then some. Perhaps a purchase of a ship, so he would not be limited to working with whoever had a vehicle, though such a thing would take immense care. He would not stoop himself to daily maintenance. 

 

With no other option, Xar took the pad and entered an interplanetary bank number. When he was sneaking about on Rodia, he had took every piece of information about his creator and used it to bypass several security checkpoints. This included his bank account, which Xar had to empty in order to faceless bribe a few bounty hunters to cause a distraction for him. Xar was the only one who knew how to access the account only, so only he could use it. And if Nok tried to follow up on the account, he would only find information on some insignificant, dead, rodian. A far cry from the the superior being Xar was.

 

With that, and the funding transferred, Xar then connected himself to the datapad in oder to begin expositioning information. As he spoke, an image of the Sith Quarren that Xar saw appeared on the pad. 

 

“That laboratory below was in fact a laboratory of some sort, but also a sacrificial chamber. If we are correct in our guessings, he used slavers and bounty hunters to capture as many live prey as possible. It appeared that the Quarren was trying to achieve a either form of immortality or some kind of ultimate servant. Perhaps that beast down there. However, it seemed he failed on immortality. As we note, the more sacrifices were achieved, the more droids he made. It seemed he was getting paranoid, and for a good reason.”

 

The image on the pad changed to the armored Sith warrior Xar briefly saw before.  “From what we understand, by the orders of their emperor, the Quarren was put to death and his work destroyed. This was his executioner. The Quarren was charged with trying kill his superiors, which we suspect is normal for you sith types. “

 

Finally, the image changed to the droid, which began to zoom out and peel back layers and layers of parts, giving schematics, measurements and details on the chassis. 

 

“These droids were definitely a security measure, but also something more. Their armament does match any usual guarding equipments that we know of. The quarren seemed to think that his rituals and these droids were possibly linked. The more dead bodies, the more droids he made. We recommend you study these chassis further before you put them into full production. But that is not our concern.”

 

Xar left out the fact that the one droid he had ‘eaten’ still remained within himself, or at least the virus did. Xar wasn’t sure if the virus was just a countermeasure, or something else. But that was for him to understand, not Nok. 

 

Xar unplugged himself from the pad and handed it back. 

 

“Now...tell us of this job…”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bypassing the quarantine had been no easy task. In fact the acquisition of some unnamed second rate crew for hire and the recent take over of Mon Cal had made it all but impossible to slip by unnoticed. Throw in such a heavily armed ship as The Lady Legionnaire and there was no way the armored attack craft should have been docking at a seedy out of the way space port on the outskirts of the floating city.

 

Yet, here it was nonetheless; with a half dozen rough-looking vagabound-esque group of spaced out spacers, two-thirds human: three men, one woman; one sixth scantily clad twi’leki slave and one sixth an extra glassy eyed gammorean boar trying their darnedest to nonchalantly unload the clearly designateD Hutt Cartel owned crates onto a waiting grav sled. Amongst them stooped the strangest member of the group, like something out of the collective imaginations of a group of prepubescent boys hopped up on sugar and B-grade adventure holos: a two legged, four armed saurian with varying shades of green and red skin branching off into two distinct heads. Tucked at it’s belt were four worn heavy duty blaster pistols that poked the being’s slightly protruding gut as it expertly and roughly jammed box after box into the awaiting arms of one of the above. “Careful with that! We didn’t offload a box of spice to those Imperials just to have you drop the rest in the sea,” one head snarled at one of the humans as he almost lost his grip on the burdensome crate. “The contents of that are worth more than your ryll-addled life!”

 

“You were the one that suggested we save ourselves the funds and hire from the local buyer’s circle. We had the money for . . . professional . . . help after all.”

 

Picking up another box and jamming it into the waiting arms of the blue skinned twi’lek the red skinned head retorted, “Ah, but who was the nuna hole that suggested we beat feet off Nar Shaddaa and make way for this world sized swimming pool? Don’t worry,” he mocked, “Sources say that change is afoot on the squidface homeworld. Change where we can make our fortunes back overnight! Last time I let you listen to one of those bloody fortune telling mystics.”

 

“Trust me brother,” the calmer half of the duo responded, raising an arm to point and silently mouth the numbers as he counted the crates on the sled, “Nobody will suspect us here and with our reserve supply” a hand patted the crate just handed off, “We’ll be back in the black in no time. These fish won’t even know what hit them.” 
 

“They best not or else we are going to go find that flowy sheer wearing priestess of future sight and make sure she doesn’t read any more palms. I *predict* it.”

 

The duo continued to banter back in forth with a hostile edge as the last of the crates were offloaded from their Skipray. Once clear. The two-headed being quickly secured their ship in the ramshackle and decimated landing bay before hurrying off with their drug-addled retinue down the back streets and winding alleys of the Mon Cal city of unpronounceable origins.

 

A bombed out building that appeared to once have been a small boat and submersible repair shop was their next target. It had not taken much persuasion for the lock to give way. Once inside, the cavernous and still mostly structurally sound facility was deemed acceptable for the time being. Water and under street tunnel access with decidedly heavy locks cemented the location of the out of the way business. Chances were that the owner was dead as it did not look anyone had returned since the Sith had bombed the neighborhood.

 

Setting to work, the band of rough and tumble offworlders began sealing holes and patching over broken windows. Some simple splicing saw the facility’s power returned and a holonet connection piggy backed off a neighboring apartment complex. It was heavy work. The fact that a good five of the seven (or eight depending how you counted two heads on one body) were higher than the proverbial kite did not help speed things along. Still, for the time being, it was all the Troig had. New help had to be found and trained and in some cases broken. The freedom of being without a Hurt overlord did present a few issues; bothing Shimsinblimp weren’t prepared for though. The chaos of the city combined with the quarantine all but guaranteed their little operation would go unnoticed as they set up setting up.  Soon little black bags of yarrock wouldnbe flooding the less than Imperial markets of Mon Cal. After that, it was onky a matter of time before the rich and powerful consumers of Polstine Spice began to appear. Right now Shimsinblimp and company would ensure their products safety and discrete sales. The Troig knew just how little it took to turn the low level junky into a fanatically loyal follower.

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Jorl Edda, chief administrative officer of Mon Calamari shipyards, looked stressed. While it was difficult to gauge emotion from the fishlike faces of the Mon Calamari, the unhealthy pale skin and dull eyes of the CAO spoke of long nights and far too much caf. His eyes flicked up at the approaching neimoidian, a minor, masterless Sith apprentice. His eyes were covered by a gold-embroidered crimson blindfold, and long, silky red robes swayed silently as he walked forward. Clipped to the side of his head was a seeing-eye droid, a small eye and voicebox that whispered instructions to the handicapped man as he slowly walked forward. Every finger sported several glinting rings adorned with nova crystals, and his headdress was a complex thing of black felt that looked more like modern art than clothing. Everything about the creature spoke of pretension and insecurity. Jorl’s lip curled, and he said nothing.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Nok made a show of feeling around for the chair, and sat down.

 

“Thank you for seeing me Master Edda. I’m happy to see your planetary head office escaped the invasion unscathed.”

 

Jorl grunted, but remained silent. Nok could feel resentment boiling off of the man, and he could guess at its source. Jorl was one of the most powerful men on the planet, yet the coming of the Sith had changed all that. Now, Mon Calamari shipyards was waiting for the inevitable word that the Sith Empire would seize direct control of the planet’s biggest industry, crushing the economy and plunging the planet into downturn and ruin. Even now, all exports had been halted while the Sith government consolidated its power and integrated its own laws with the local populace. And that was on top of the planet suffering a plague and rebuilding after the violent invasion.

 

The planet was in ruins, its future was unclear, and the Mon Calamari and Quarren had no control. And now the Sith had sent a minor apprentice to deal with Jorl, a clear insult.

 

“Straight to business then. I’m here to discuss the future of Mon Cal Shipyards, and where you’ll be in the new order.”

 

Jorl grimaced, but kept his voice even as he said, “Mon Calamari shipyards will be happy to comply with whatever legal action the Empire requires of us. We want to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

 

Nok could only imagine the bile in Jorl’s mouth as he said those words. But now was the time to play the game.

 

“I think you misunderstand me Master Edda. I’m not here on behalf of the Sith Empire.”

 

Jorl’s movements stopped dead, though only for a split second. Nok had thrown him. He recovered, and Nok could see the man’s evaluation of the sithling change. Nok wasn’t an official to the CAO, he was an opportunist. Businessmen like Jorl could use opportunists.

 

“...Explain then.”

 

“We both know what’s coming, Master Edda. Control over the shipyards is key to control over the planet, and the Sith are hungry for the warships you can make for them. Once the Dark King appoints a Sith Lord over the planet, that Lord will seize the shipyards, appoint his own officers, and scrap all existing contracts. Workers will rebel, or quit, or just not work fast enough, and he’ll respond with imported slaves or make the slaves right here. Quality will plummet, profit will follow, and the planet will be gutted to make up the difference.” As he spoke, Nok saw ripples of anger and fear interplay across the Mon Calamari, who had no doubt been fearing that outcome ever since Sith troops took the capital.

 

“Alright, fine, let’s say that you’re right. Are you offering to take the position of Mon Cal’s new lord?”

 

Nok laughed. “Hardly! I can’t control the King’s choices. But something you don’t understand is Sith politics. We’re not, contrary to the holo-propaganda you might have seen, one cohesive horde intent on destroying the galaxy. The truth is we’re similar to any government, with different Sith vying for power and influence. A Sith Lord will be appointed here, and I can’t stop that, but what I can provide you is a Sith on your side. Sith, even apprentices,” he said as he casually gestured to himself, “have rights. A Sith Lord of a planet can seize almost anything he wants, but the exception is the property of another Sith.”

 

This time it was Jorl’s turn to laugh. Nok’s “ploy” must have seemed so obvious to him.

 

“So you want me to give you control over the Shipyards? Is that it? And you promise to run them responsibly?” he mocked. He raised his hand to gesture for security, but Nok interrupted him.

 

“Of course not. I only want 10%.”

 

Jorl stopped.

 

“10%?”

 

“Yes. Your family, the Edda’s, control 40% of the stock in Mon Calamari shipyards, with the remainder in the hands of other Mon Calamari families across the planet. Oh, and one Quarren.” Nok shrugged, and continued. “Essentially, I want you to put 10% of your stock in the company up for sale. I have a buyer waiting to snatch that 10% up on open market price.”

 

Jorl’s head bowed as he considered, and Nok could guess his thoughts. With the Sith invasion, the plague, and now the global export shutdown, Mon Calamari Shipyards’ stock was at the bottom of the ocean, ridiculously cheap. But cheap stock of a massive company like the Shipyards’ was still a lot for a single buyer. Nok would have to invest over 3 billion credits to purchase that 10%. Doable, but Jorl must have realized that such an investment would tie Nok firmly to the performance of the company, while still keeping him in the minority of power with his fellow directors.

 

“Won’t the new Sith Lord just seize the stock of the remaining members?”

 

Nok shook his head. “A Sith on your board of directors prevents that. A Sith’s rights extend to all sorts of peripheries, including his business partners. Attacking you would mean attacking me, and while I’m only an apprentice that still means legal involvement, and that means time. A new Sith Lord won’t want to deal with that kind of delay. They’ll be much more willing to deal with a fellow, weaker Sith to get things moving and deal with them later. What I’m offering you is time for the Shipyards to find their footing. All I’m asking you is that you put up some of your stock for sale.” Nok sat back, and waited.

 

He saw Jorl’s face contort as he tried to consider the angles. Nok had no doubt that Jorl now saw Nok as an opportunist looking for a bit of financial glory, gambling that Mon Calamari Shipyards would make a strong return and reward his investment. As the Sith on the board, Nok would be the face of the company to their Sith overlords, but he would still be controllable so long as Jorl and the rest held his purse-strings in their joint venture. Nok was a worm, but a worm that Jorl could put in a box.

 

Jorl’s computer flared to life as the Mon Calamari scanned through legal documents and reports. His eyes stared intensely, but Nok could tell the decision was made. Eventually, Jorl sighed, though Nok couldn’t tell if it was genuine resignation or a performance for his benefit. He keyed in a few codes, then closed his computer.

 

“Done.”

 

Nok’s datapad dinged from inside his robe. The sale was complete.

 

He smiled.

 

“Thank you very much. I hope our next board meeting is soon. I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow directors.”

 

Jorl’s lips turned up as if he’d just swallowed something spiny and poisonous. His voice remained civil.

 

“Well, I’m sure the other’s will be happy to know their 90% is safe.”

 

“70%”

 

Jorl paused halfway out of his chair. “What?”

 

“70%. Kip Jento was killed several days ago, likely in the chaos of the invasion.”

 

Nok saw Jorl’s eyes narrow. They both knew the mogul Kip Jento had been alive only yesterday.

 

“Still,” Jorl said cautiously, “her children…”

 

“...cannot inherit as of yet. There are taxes on that sort of thing in the Sith Empire, and in order to properly tax their inheritance the Sith need to do a full evaluation on their holdings. Like the value of the Shipyards.” Nok shook his head as if in exasperation. “It’ll be months before that gets done, and until then their inheritance will be held in trust by the Sith government. That 20% is effectively null until then.”

 

Nok saw everything click for the CAO. The widening of the eyes, the catching of the breath…

 

Jorl’s hands flew for the security call button. Nok casually lifted his arm, and a glint of metal and a soft hum preceded the vibroknife as it buried itself in the CAO’s neck, carried by the gentlest touch of the Force. The most powerful man on Mon Calamari tumbled to the floor.

 

Nok remained seated as the vibroknife deactivated and levitated back to his sleeve. He had only a few minutes.

 

He walked out of the room, and the guards outside looked at him as he passed. He paused.

 

“I had a guard droid I was forced to leave behind when I came in. Where can I retrieve him?”

 

The guard responded curtly. “He’s likely at the front security checkpoint. I’ll message them that you’re coming down.”

 

“Unnecessary.” The guards didn’t have time to even react as Nok sent two knives into their necks on the currents of the Force.

 

He activated his own comlink.

 

“Xar? It’s time. Your target is Chief Financial Officer Hars Volda. His office should be room 217 on second floor.
He is not to leave the building alive. Everyone else is expendable. Make some noise. Your payment will be wired on completion.” 

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Xar huffed in annoyance when the message came through. “Finally” he said to himself and spun around and aimed at the security guard. The man tried to draw his pistol out on Xar but wasn’t quick enough. Xar’s newly fixed arm-mounted blaster fired twice, once at the man’s neck, then again at his head. The guard, an older quarren who was probably only a few months from retirement, fell backwards lifelessly. 

 

Xar cursed himself. He could’ve done that in one shot. What a waste of energy. Still, at least the weapon worked correctly. 

 

Xar jumped behind the counter where the checkpoint officer had stood moments before and inserted himself into the dataport. Information swirled around Xar as he attempted to hack into the building’s mainframe. Names and IDs, coding numbers, and blueprints were Xar’s main focus. He needed a layout of the building, as well as the number of security forces inside. With this information, Xar could hunt with ease. 


Xar nodded in approval and disconnected. A plan had been formed. 


Exiting the small building that was the only entrance in the durasteel electrified fence that separated the small skyscraper from the public, Xar dashed towards the front doors, his chassis glinting in the sunlight of a beautiful Mon Cal day. He calculated there were two ways of doing this. Go through the front and take on more security, or try to sneak up the sides of the building and take the target by surprise. Nok wanted some noise, but Xar also had a sense of preservation. 

 

“We can make some noise along the way though with a mixture of both…”  Xar concluded as he jumped and bashed through the glass doors. 

 

Security alarms began to blare as glass and droid landed on the ground. Cries from guards sounded as they drew their holstered blaster pistols to stop this sudden attacker. Xar crouched and leapt over the nearest desk where two guards were beginning to take cover. His claws impaled just below their throats. Once on the ground again, the droid deactivated the vibroblades, clutched, and pulled swiftly, tearing flesh from flesh. 


“We will never stay clean, will we…”  Xar peaked out from his cover and ducked down immediately as blaster fire filled the area. Two quarren and one human had drawn their weapons and were attempting to keep Xar pinned. There were also two hovering blue drones that resembled a cross between a waterfowl and a beetle, though they were not opening fire. 


Xar accessed the files on the building's blueprints. This white-floored room had three elevators, one staircase, two hallways to some offices, and a large water fountain in the center of the room. All of the outside walls were glass. There was a waiting area, with metal chairs, as well as the counter that Xar had jumped behind. 


Xar glanced at the computer system next to him. Perhaps he could take advantage of this situation…


Still crouching, Xar plugged himself again into the network, finding the manual controls for the room’s fixtures. Lights, locks, everything. However, Xar was having to go slower with this as he had to split his attention between searching the network and paying attention to where the guards were. The sound of hovering repulsors warned Xar of the incoming drones. With his free arm, Xar briefly stood up and fired twice at the approaching lesser droids, and ducked back down as blaster fire riddled the area around him.   


Xar cursed himself again. He missed one. Still, the sound of the other falling lifelessly to the ground was pleasant. 


Xar found the controls he was looking for. 


“Lights: Dim. Water Pressure: Maximize” Xar commanded. 


The room darkened slightly. A loud chugging sound could be heard rumbling through the floor. The guards stopped firing and looked at the fountain. For a moment there was silence, then the fountain exploded with water everywhere. 


At that moment Xar popped out from behind his cover and rapidly fired over and over again. The drone went down first, then the guards. A few shots were wasted as Xar didn’t properly calculate his own momentum from standing up so quickly, but he did hit all of his targets. 
Xar emerged from his spot and moved slowly to the elevator as the alarms in the room continued to blare. But first, he aimed once more and the security cameras in the room and fired at will. So far so good. 


A short while later, Xar found himself climbing up the elevator shaft. As of now, Xar believed that the security forces had no way of identifying where he was going. If he took an elevator, that would give away his position, but if he climbed, he would have some more time. 

 

Despite the work of having to climb an elevator shaft, Xar wasn’t as annoyed as before. In the sewers, he was being a guide and a leader. He was working through sewage and fecal matter, and there was no clear enemy, nor respect. Here though, Xar was working in a civilized environment, hunting a prey like a superior predator would. And he was doing it alone for the most part, and with the respect that came with it. Nok was in a way, acknowledging Xar was capable of doing this task, and was paying as such.


Hanging off an edge where the elevator doors stood, Xar activated one of his claws and began to cut slowly through. The door was made of a cheap alloy, so his vibroblades had little trouble getting through, though Xar lamented he would need to replace the claw after today. Xar pushed through and entered an abandoned hallway.


Xar studied the hallway curiously. It split off into many corridors, which in turn split off into multiple offices, break rooms, corridors, and closets . No doubt this was the accounting floor of the building. But it was eerily silent, and Xar could only see one heat signature that was coming in his direction. Where were all the people?


Xar slowly made his way towards the signature. Quietly, Xar crept forward. He could hear it now. The stepping of feet on padded carpet. The movements of gears and  joints. A droid!


Xar whirled around the corner and aimed his forearm-blaster towards the large eyes of an insectoid faced robot. 


“Ah! Pleaz, don't zoot me! Unarmed! I’m Unarmed!” The droid begged, raising its arms above its head in surrender. 


Xar looked the being over. It was an odd thing. Its head and most of its body structure matched that of an insectoid species, very similar to a verpine. Its Sky-blue painted chassis was tarnished in places, but overall it was in good health. 


“Who are you? Where is everyone?” Xar demanded, not lowering his weapon. 


“Oh! I am the Siak-Series Protocol droid V1-ZR, though almozt everyone around here calls me bugz. A derogatory name to be zure, but as they own me and my proteztz have gone unheaded and that people do not follow the regular droid rights rulez, I am forced to…


“The employees! Where are they?” Xar shook his arm, drawing the droids attention back to the gun before it went too far explaining itself.


“Oh! Yezzz…” The droid nodded as it buzzed out the words. “Due to an inzident beyond my knowledge, people are following protocol F53, where in the caze in an emergency of a firefight, employeez are required to evacuate to one of three secure locationz on the premizes. “


“What?” Xar asked in disbelief. Of course it wouldn’t be this easy. How could he have been so stupid. Of course they would have a backup plan, and since Xar had attacked the front doors, the employees would go to a secure location until local authorities could help. Of course, with the Sith, who knows how long it would take until that occurred. 


“We zaid that all employeez are required to evacuate…”


Xar looked the droid over again, wondering if he should just kill it and be done with it. Or perhaps he could have a use for it.  

 

“Where are the locations?” 


Slowly, feeling like there was no more threat, began to calmly explain. “The firzt location is underground, accessible by elevator 1A and by staircase A1. The second is the security control room, which iz on the third floor  with its own special elevator to a sub basement. This area is only accezzable by identification…” 


Xar nodded. That made sense. It would possibly be the only location where Xar could figure out where his target was. 


“And the final location iz the rooftop. In cazez of fire, employees are to avoid theze locationz but in cazes of gaz leakage, employees are required to only avoid the rooftop. However, in the case of wild animal attack…"


Xar ignored the protocol droid’s droning on and on about how the building worked. Instead he pulled up his own blueprint files and plotted out a course. 


“Nok? We have a command for you.” Xar spoke into his communicator. “Get to the basement secure spot. They’ll let a blind neimoidian like you inside without worry. Perhaps there are more people you need to exterminate down there. Or you may want a plausible excuse for avoiding us. We are heading to the security control room…”


Xar stopped and whirled around. The sound of drones approaching had caught his attention. Taking cover around the corner, Xar began to open fire as several small Water Beetles  and two guards charged down the hallway firing away. As he did so, V1-ZR screeched and tried to hide next to Xar, chitterring nervously about the benefits of organized building codes. 


“Stupid little pests. Don’t they know our superiority? We should be commanding them!” 


The insectoid droid looked up. “Even if you take them out zir, there may be more reinforcementz along the way. Might i zuggest an idea…”


Xar looked at the droid after shooting down one of the drones charging towards the duo. If the droid’s idea was good, perhaps it would live a little longer.
 

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Nok stopped midstride as Xar’s voice came in over his “seeing eye droid”.

 

Command? Nok hesitated for a moment, then let it go. The best specialists were always a bit special. A gran hacker Nok had employed once had demanded to be served live fish before every job, claiming it helped him “energize” or something. Nok suspected the hacker had a few personality problems, and last he’d heard the gran had overdosed on spice.
I suppose that is one of the benefits of working with a droid. I don’t have to worry about him inhaling something he shouldn’t and either dying or talking.

 

“Understood. On my way.”

 

Nok changed course and headed for the nearest set of stairs. Emergency signs along the walls told him he was going in the right direction, something Nok couldn’t have normally known if they hadn’t embossed the signs with raised lettering.

 

Good of them to make allowances for the disabled.

 

He had almost made it to the stairwell when voices echoed through the hallways.

 

“20 seconds from office. Still no response from guards.”

 

That was fast.

 

“Sir!” a guard called from about 30 feet behind him.

 

And observant.

 

Nok slowly turned, allowing the guard to see his “disability”.

 

“Yes?”

 

The guard approached, one hand holding a raised blaster pistol pointed at Nok’s head, the other pulling out a set of stun cuffs.

 

“You’re droid is on the loose and Master Edda isn’t resp-”

 

His words stopped mid-sentence as his blaster flew from his hand and into Nok’s. Without pausing for a beat, Nok shot him in the head. He let the blaster tumble to the ground.

 

Bursts of fear blossomed through the hallways, no doubt people who had heard the shot. Judging by their bulky frames they were armored guards. Nok shook his head and raised both arms.

 

Two of his knives hummed as they came to life and zipped down the hallways, turning corners and homing in on the nearest guards. Nok saw the fear spike into reactionary animal panic at the sudden sight of floating weapons. Whatever wry satisfaction he got from the display turned to frustration as Nok struggled to put the nearest two guards down. He’d successfully stopped them, but he’d made a mistake trying to control two knives at once from a distance. His attacks were clumsy and ill-timed, and while he succeeded in cutting the guards he failed to put either down. Two more guards were pounding down hallways to Nok’s left and right, and the’d be in their lines of sight in moments. Growling, he sent one of the two knives into the ceiling, burying it in a light fixture that sparked and exploded. The other knife, now under Nok’s full attention, twisted and moved through the air with far greater speed and precision. Still a bit clumsy from the distance he was at, it was nevertheless enough for Nok to slit the guard’s throat after aa few passes. Letting it go, he turned back to the other knife, wiggling it out of the fixture and down towards the guard who was just activating his night-vision. He turned it on just in time to see the tip of the blade pass through his left eye.

 

“Put your hands behind your head.”

 

Nok grimaced. While he’d been so focused, the other guards had caught up to him. The only reason they’d likely not attacked him outright was because all they saw was a blind neimoidian with his hands in the air, twitching and waving like a madman.

 

Raising his hands, Nok brought his focus back to his surroundings, to the intricate currents of the Dark Side all around him. The demise of the two guards had washed over him, releasing that intense power that Nok was beginning to associate with violent death. He touched it, and he comprehended it. Instinctually, naturally, he understood the vast energy that surrounded him. It felt...excited. Anticipatory. Death only whetted its appetite. More, it seemed to say.

 

Nok exhaled, touching the Force in just the right way to get the reaction he wanted. He didn’t wrestle it or coax it, he played it as if it was a part of himself.

 

His remaining two knives hummed to life and tore out of his sleeves, passing through the tops of the skulls of the two Mon Calamari guards. Their deaths exploded like fireworks to

Nok’s vision, their light passing through him like a bolt of lightning.

 

With a set of dull thumps the guard’s bodies crumpled to the floor. Nok’s knives came shooting back to him on the strings of the Force. He pocketed them in his robe, his sleeves and forearm holsters ruined, turned, and walked down the stairs.

 

As he descended, the noise of people rose from a faint murmur to a frightened chatter to a panicked mania. A set of durasteel doors, locked, barred a single room in the duracrete hallway. A TT-8L/Y7 gatekeeper droid, given a polished white finish, emerged from the wall and scanned.

 

“DO NOT MOVE,” it blasted. “WHY ARE YOU HERE?”

 

They turned up the volume on this one.

 

“Please,” Nok said, panic edging into his voice, “please let me in! There’s a killer droid!”

 

“...YOU ARE NOT ON THE LIST OF REGISTERED EMPLOYEES.”

 

“My ID isn’t in yet! Search under Nok Morliss.”

 

The little eye held still for a moment, then backed up.


“I’m sorry sir. I was not aware you were on the board of directors. However, without a way to confirm your identity, I cannot let you in until I’ve determined you are not a threat.”

 

“Run me against internal logs. My security check should still be on file.”

 

“...Confirmed. You were registered as a guest. This is sufficient confirmation of your identity. Apologies for the delay sir.”

 

The door swished open and Nok stepped inside.

 

The fear in the long, featureless storage room exploded at the opening of the door. Several workers pointed at Nok, but whatever they were shouting was lost in the jumble. Nok stepped towards the crowd, but was stopped when a large, muscled Quarren blocked his path.

 

“Who are you?”

 

Nok kept his face pointed forward into the tall man’s chest, and spoke in a breathy, edge-of-hysterical voice. “I’m...Jin...Jin Meer. I’m an investor.”

 

The Quarren’s tentacles twisted in what Nok thought might be suspicion. “What’s going on out there?”

 

“Intruder. Some crazy droid.”

 

“...Alright. Security will take care of it. Just find a spot and sit down.”

 

“Thank you...umm…”

 

“Kuaggs. Foreman Kuaggs.” He started walking away.

 

Nok cocked his head. “Head of the union?”

 

Kuaggs gave a burbling noise that sounded something like annoyance. “Head of the Quarren Workers Union.” He turned back, suspicion clear in his blue eyes. “How’s an investor know that?”

 

Nok only backed away, slumping against a wall and sinking to the ground.

 

“Hey,” Kuaggs called. “I asked you-”

 

Nok bowed his head, ignoring the Quarren as he sunk into the Force. He could see the fear saturating the room, desperate and maddening. It just needed the right push.

 

A flick of his fingers, and the one of the light fixtures burst into a spray of sparks. Then another, and another, and another. Kuaggs’ head whipped around, following the exploding lights and the growing shadows, before turning back to the seated Nok. Nok saw the comprehension dawn on his face.

 

“You’re one of them!”

 

Nok’s hand flicked out once more, and like slipping on an old glove one of his vibro knives sailed out on currents of the Force. Kuaggs screamed and then gurgled as the knife buried itself in his throat, twisted, and shot back to Nok. The scream was contagious as blood geysered out of the former foreman, and the fear turned to blind madness. Shoving, trampling, and blind flailing turned the crowd of workers into a full mob.

 

“Sorry Kuaggs,” Nok muttered. “But better this than disbanding the union later.” He paused. “Better for me I mean.” He stood up, shattering more lights until the room was pitch black, and walked out.

 

The TT-8L emerged from the wall.

 

“Sir...what is going-”

 

Nok gestured, and a squeal of metal preceded the droid eye being ripped from the wall and dropped to the ground, sparking wires and hardware trailing behind it.

 

“Xar,” he said into his commlink, “I think I’ve done all I can here. Our target was not in the basement, but I managed to eliminate a tertiary objective. I’m heading out. Alert me once you’re done, and our Holonet partner will wipe the security feeds.”
 

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“Where the kriff did that droid go?!?” Security Chief Oz demanded from his personnel, safely inside the security room. Two personnel frantically called up security cam after security cam, desperately searching for any kind of clue. 


“Sir, he’s...um… he has…”


The Aqualish nearly burst a blood vessel. “Spit it out man! Where is that monster?”


The human, pale and shaking with fear, shook on. “He’s...taken out every security camera in the area. “


“What?!?” Oz leaned over shoved the human aside and flipped throught the cameras. His features paled slightly as he realized the human was right. Almost every camera on the second floor had been  disconnected, most likely from blaster fire.  


“What about the drones? What do they report?” 


The human shook his head. “Nothing sir. They seem to have...wait! Sir! Elevator 4 has been activated. It’s heading to our floor!”


The Aqualish squealed in delight. “Excellent! Stop it immediately! Everyone! Follow me! We’ll squash this thing here and now! Except you human. ”

 

The Aqualish glared at the small man, a rookie addition to the security personnel, and one who had not impressed the chief at all with his fearful quivering or his eating habits. “Stay here, and get our drones up here, you lunch-eating quarla. Now let’s move people!” 


With a nod, four security officers rushed out the locked room and dashed towards the elevator, all holding blaster pistols at the ready. With a few pulls, the officers got the elevator door propped open and leapt down onto the halted elevator half a floor down. Oz snorted in pleasure as he prepared the hatch on top. The droid had nowhere to escape to. 


Oz counted down with his fingers down from three, then opened the hatch. All of the officers opened fire blindly into the confined room, expecting the droid killer to pop out. Oz shouted for a halt, barely overheard with all of the blaster fire. 


There was no droid. But there was a noise. 


“Zir? Zir, iz that security chief Oz? Hello? No shoot! I’m unarmed!” 


Oz signaled to his men to stay where they were and hopped into the blasted room. It was perfectly empty. But he could hear a voice coming from…
The small hologram projector on the wall dinged to life, presenting a representation of an insectoid looking protocol droid. 


“Bugs!”


“Zir, my name is V1-Z…”


“Shut it you overpriced calculator. Where’s the droid?”


“Zir, my name is not Bugz, nor am I a calculator. I'm a surveyor and an accountant. And according to zection 23 of the..."

 
“Where is the droid?!?” 


Bugs sighed as he reached up and scratched where his restraining bolt had been removed. He had hoped there would be a bit more protocol in this endeavor. Not to mention a little respect. Oh well. 


“The attacker, who is known as Xar, has sent me to make a demand. Surrender to the superiority of The Great Xar, or die a pathetic death. ”


Oz growled at the hologram, not noticing the missing piece of metal on the droid’s chest.

 

“I swear when i find you, i’m going to tear you apart to your bolts you stupid little…


Oz stopped suddenly. The elevator had shifted. The safety features of the room had been remotely turned off from somewhere. Shouting and laser shots were heard from above. Oz looked up and saw just in time a green plated robot, covered in dust from moving through an air vent, activating his claws cand cleanly slicing through the metal cord that held the elevator up. 


“Good day zir. It waz not pleazent working for you.” 

 

_________

 

Xar watched as the elevator fell two and a half stories down. The men who had stood on top and dared to fire upon him screamed the whole way down, right up until the noise of metal crashing could be heard. The men on top were most likely dead. Anyone inside either had serious injuries or were dead as well. 


Such was the fate of inferior creatures. 


Xar began his ascension back up the cable to the third floor. It was an easy task to make his way to the security room, shoot the last guard and take control of the building. Despite being called a security room, there were very few measures taken to prevent hacking in the room directly. Made sense. 


With a look over all the security cameras, Xar instantly located his target. Hars was on the rooftop, as well as with about 20 other employees, 3 security guards, and 5 drones. Xar chuckled. Easy. 


“Drones, you have some new commands…” Xar commented. “Attack Chief Financial Officer Hars Volda. Then everyone else.”


Xar then proceeded to just watch the action unfold. The employees began to scream as the drones turned on their wards. Stun shot after stun shot fired, a cacophony of energy sending each person into unconsciousness. The guards fought back valiantly, but in the end they were not ready for the attack. Still, they did manage to knock out three of the five drones. 


After the drones had stunned everyone, they continued to fire again and again at the targets, just to make sure.  Xar nodded in approval. These drones worked well. They reminded him of the drones his own model was supposed to work with. Perhaps Xar had just gotten another bonus with this job. 


“Drone numbers… 3 and 5...” Xar shook his head. He would have to rename these things.  “Now push the Chief Financial officer over the edge of the building, as well as two other random employees. Then fly down to the front entrance and wait there. You will obey all the commands of the superior RHTC-560 Hunter Trainer droid you meet there.” 


And with that, Xar signed off the security channel. He reached up and activated his communicator, this time to his now second newest asset. 


“Vizier, you will meet us and our newest drones at the front entrance.”


“Yez great and magnificent Xar!” the protocol droid exclaimed, happy to have been given a smidgen of respect and an honorable nickname. Xar nodded again to himself. At least this one knew who was superior and wasn’t afraid to sell it. He would do well. 


“Nok…” Xar continued on his other channel. “The deed is done. We are leaving now” 
 

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Mon Calamari Shipyards was, in a word, decent. Much cleaner than many dockside space-faring construct sites, but yet not as militaristic as nationalized military production entities. Given the recent military incursion, the shipyards still looked halfway decent. It was clear that they valued infrastructure when it could be salvaged.

 

Amongst this, across the bustling street from the Shipyards corporate office, sat a somewhat portly two-headed Troig. The species tended to draw looks wherever one went, due to their unique biology. The only thing that stopped the glances from becoming outright stares were thebfour DL-44 heavy blaster pistols hanging from the being’s waist. Ordinarily, plabetary law enforcement would have been summined at the sight of the leather clad heavily armed civilian; but since the take over, laws were a bit more lax. The Sith clearly had other matters to attend to before worrying about a being carrying about a few guns and not getting violent. The disruptor pistol tucked carefully out of sight on the other hand, well, that might still draw some unwanted attention. That was why it was hidden away, only to be used as a last ditch ploy to ensure imminent survival or to destroy any evidence should the need arise.

 

The red and green headed being sat, somewhat lounged on the sidewalk-porch area of the cafe across the street from the corporate offices. 2 minds, 4 ears, 4 eyes all taking in the surroundings; clandestinely monitoring the comings and going of people up and down the street. Shimsinblinp had been coming here daily for about a week now. Capital enterprises meant money and money usually meant a few greased palms, shady dealings, and the need for high dollar pick me ups for those late night meetings and rendezvous. It had not taken the underworld entrepreneuring duo long to realize that the servers at this particular cafe hailed from the other side of town. It had taken even less time to persuade several to undertake some off the books employment to supplement the paltry tips they made. Shimsinblimp had come today for his usual cup of coffeine and to exchange some goods and funds. Still, there was no reason to not take pleasure in the small joys of one’s work. Right now, that was sitting in the warm sun enjoying a complementary beverage to the cafe’s new favorite customer. All was at peace.

 

. . . or so it seemed. The red-headed Blimp’s eyes were narrowed as he silently took in what seemed to be an overly tense bit of commotion across the street; much more, it seemed, than usual. Some people even looked panicked. They were too far away to hear what was going on or ascertain much though. That all changed as a trio of bodies fell from the cloudless sky with sickening crunches that could be heard up and down the street. If that was not enough to draw people’s attentions, the cacophony of screams from innocent passerbys was.

 

Setting his beverage down, Shim turned his attention to the commotion as well. Not rising from their seat, Shim and Blimp both watched with suspicious concern on their faces. Crime was not good for business; at least crime that was not associated with their business. Bodies inevitably brought attention and attention brought questioning. Hopefully the local talent they had recruited could keep their yaps shut and stashed stashed, but it was inevitable, someone would be caught up in the dragnet to follow. All the Troig could hope was that their decidedly specific and grotesque threats of pain and mutilation were enough to quell any fear of the local law. That business gutting a Quarren had not been particularly pleasant a few days before, but had served the purpose, hopefully, of instilling what happened to those who cost Shimsinblimp time or money.

 

The appearance of droids at the front entrance across the way would have not raised any alarms; however, the bodies lying mangled in the street had upped the ante. One of the droids decidedly didn’t belong.

 

Standing, the Troig whispered to itself, “Assassin droids”

“Definitely a bad sign. Terf war?”
“Probably. Doesn’t seem to be Sith design or style that one.”
“Ugh. We do NOT want to get caught in that.”
“We’d leave too many bodies to enjoy your precious coffeine if we did.”


Standing the two-headed being was in unison, whatever was going down across the way was none of their business and they’d like to keep their business out of it.

 

Exiting the sidewalk cafe, they turned to hurry down the street, one of their four bare arms slipping beneath their leather vest to the bare chest beneath as if feeling one’s own heart rate due to all the excitement. Of course, it didn’t hurt things that the small disruptor pistol lay concealed within the vest in the same spot. 
 

“Think it’ll be that bad huh?”

Shooting a glance across the road at Xar, the red-headed Blimp nodded, “Rather we not find out.”

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Xar exited Shipyards’ corporate office and took a glance at the body in front of him. A quick scan wasn’t even necessary to tell that this Quarren was dead. Clear liquid was leaking from its head orifices. Its breathing was non-existent. Still, Xar couldn’t help but scan anyways. Several broken bones, including the skull and a few places in the neck. 


Xar glanced up to the sound of humming motors. The two Water Beetles lowered themselves and circled around their new master, making low and high alternative beeps. 


“Good job numbers 3 and 5...no no no…” Xar shook his head slightly. “You need better names. No one in my property will be simply named. Number three will go by Mozo. Number five will be Char.”


The two drones honked in binaryial agreement. Xar nodded in satisfaction. It felt so good to have drones again. The last drones he had were back on Rodia, and he had to sacrifice them in order to escape that wretched planet. While he wasn’t sorry he had to sacrifice them, he did miss them. They were tools. Tools were meant to be used and disposed of when needed. Still, it was good to be re-equipped. 


“Zir! Zir!” a voice called out from behind. 


Speaking of tools….


“Vizier…” 


The protocol droid waved to Xar from the security shack ahead. As per orders, he was to make sure that no one else tried to enter the building. 


“My lord, it is good to zee you again. Az of now, no one haz tried to enter the building. Ztill, I believe we zhould get going before…


“Yes yes Vizeir, we are aware that city security could be on their way. Lets get going.” 


The small posse of droids made their way out of the Shipyard’s and began to head down the street. They were to head to a safe house. A mechanical shop whose owner was easily bribed. After the pay day Xar had received, another bribe would be easy. 


Still, on the way, Mozo honked once. A warning. 


Xar turned and looked in the direction Mozo indicated. A Troig. For a moment Xar studied the creature. Its two heads puzzled Xar a bit. He had very few records programmed into him about the species.  


“Vizier, what can you tell us about Troigs on Mon Cal?”


The protocol droid looked surprised and a little embarassed at the question. “I..uh...not much my lord. In Shipyards, only a total of five different Troigs were listed visiting this particular city. It would take time and a proper dataport to…


“Nevermind.” 


“My lord, why do you azk?” 


Xar turned away from looking at the Troig and kept walking. “That being was reaching for something. Possibly a weapon to attack us. Mozo, Char, take secure positions around us. Warn us of any potential threats. And if that Troig follows us.” 


With that, the posse of droids went towards their safe house. 
 

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A screech of grinding metal echoed through the district as one of the repulsorlift transports smashed through the fence and crashed into the wall of another building, erupting into flames and electrical sparks. The rear hatch opened and Nok stumbled out before ducking down a side alley. If that Booster Rann did his job, the security feeds would be wiped and Nok would never have officially been there. Combine that with a planetary government in transition after an invasion and biased, corruptible, Sith officials in charge, and Nok would easily avoid any lengthy investigations.

 

Particularly since his investment group were now one of the most influential forces on the planet, and Nok would soon be listed as one of the chief executives of Mon Calamari shipyards.

All in all, a good day.

____________________________________________________

Nok shuffled into the cantina "The Knotted Keelkana", feigning that his blindness was as complete as it looked. He loosely held a sealed case in one hand, and his other held an ornate walking cane of black wood inlaid with gold filigree. 

 

An uneasy undercurrent of fear gave the neimoidian Sithling plenty to see with. People huddled around their drinks, scooted tables from one another, and periodically checked their masks. People were scared. Plague, invasion, and the news of a slaughter by an unknown assailant at the Shipyard's planetary office had everyone spooked. Nok faintly heard "secret police", "assassins", and even "witches" being muttered in the tight clusters scattered across the room. The air hummed with tension bordering on panic, and it warmed Nok's skin like a hot bath as he passed through it.

 

He had no trouble finding the man (men?) he had come to see. Well, meet anyway. He was the only one with two heads. The Troig gave off a distinct impression, one that resembled a biohazard warning on top of a posted notice of wild Gundarks in the area. "Mess with me at your own stupidity." The cantina's patrons stayed well clear of the man, and a few shifted around the tables to marginally better cover as they saw Nok approach the him.

 

"So..." Nok said quietly as he sat down, "I understand your the man to talk to about 'offworld' purchases." He kept wrists loose as he set the case on the counter, ready to draw one of his knives if he sensed the wrong thing from the dangerous criminal.

 

Edited by Nok Morliss
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Along the back wall of the dingy Knotted Keelkana, the two-headed Shimsinblimp sat alone. Spread about in front of the being were old-fashioned hand draft charts, tally marks in varying colors, lists of seemingly odd unconnected words ranging from animals and species to planets and constellations to obscure fizzled political movements and prominent historical galactic figures. Alongside many of these clearly codified indicators were scrawled numbers some smaller annotations and some quite large.

 

The two-headed Troig made no effort to hide what he was working on. He didn’t need to. Lurking amongst the uneasy shifting crowd were several well-rewarded jackbooted thugs. The kind of muscle who would like nothing less than to crush the skull of any would be junky betwixt their palms in exchange for a hit of the boss’ super special stash.

 

The approach of the solitary Nemodian, blind and ornate, might have raised a few eyebrows, but not enough to warrant anyone stepping in the way. He was harmless and the Troig was already known to handle certain situations on his own.

 

Without a sound, Blimp caught sight of the approaching individual. A telepathic-like link between the two autonomous heads alerted Shim to what Blimp saw. Without raising his head, Shim glanced up at the approaching Nemodian before three of the four arms of the being carefully overturnEs several specific pages on top of one another.


Templing his two fore-arms in front of him, elbows on the table, the green head of Shim took in the Nemodian. The red head of Blimp squinted as he scanned the room watching for any surprises, keeping an eye on the Nemodian formany sudden movements. One of the bonuses of two heads and two sets of sensory organs on one body was an acute sense of one’s surroundings. So while Shim sat, arms temples taking in the Nemodian; Blimp sat, head held high and arms carefully resting on the butts of two heavy blasters beneath the table.

 

Quote

So..." Nok said quietly as he sat down, "I understand you‘re the man to talk to about 'offworld' purchases."

 

With his eyes flicking from the out-of-place businessman in a seedy cantina to the briefcase and back, Shim offered a delightfully coy and creepy smile. Undoubtedly the man expected some lowlife monologue about his power and abilities to obtain that which may not be obtainable. Shimsinblimp was better than that. He had worked under the Hutts. He had survived. He had even survived when the Imperials and rebels had laid siege to Nar Shaddaa. So whatever it was this ornate blindman desired; whatever cash his case tempted, Shim was sure he would not be showing his hand yet.  Who knew, maybe he was a cop!

 

“Go on,” he gestured with a hand to Nok before returning his hands to their templed position. 
 

Everyone knew how hard it had become recently to get anything from anywhere that did not meet official market standard. Shimsinblimp had the beginnings of a healthy underground spice empire beginning to take shape. In addition, to supplement his cashflow, the Troig had taken to offering a few other discrete services alongside inbound shipments of his usual supply. If this Nemodian had heard of him, he would need to find out how and silence them. Spice-addicts were so unreliable sometimes.

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Behind Nok a few moments later walked in the blue protocol droid. Despite the protests at not serving battle droids in the cantina, this droid was a protocol droid, and thus the complaints did not comply to him. His lord was a different story, but he had his own ways of being in the building. 
Straddling through the people, carefully not touching anyone, Vizier glanced around observing all the people. It wasn’t exactly a decent crowd in here. More like low-lives and thugs. No wonder his master didn’t want to be in here himself. Why disgrace himself amongst the lessers? 


“Ztill, we wizhed we had one of thoze dronez with uz…” Vizier bemoaned slightly as he pursued the blind Neimodian. Why couldn’t he wait for him? 
Eventually the insectoid protocol droid stood on the side of the Neimodian away from the two headed species. Vizier almost wanted to comment about how this would almost be a two-on-two discussion, but restrained himself. Instead, he placed a hand-held holo-pad projector in front of everyone and turned it on. 


The image of his lord popped up in front of everyone. Xar glanced at Nok then looked and studied the Troig. Now everyone was here. 
In truth, Xar was standing on top of the roof of the cantina. In his claws was his own holo-pad, giving the images of the Neimodian and the Troig almost perfectly. Had to love technology. It allowed Xar to meet with people without lowering himself to the locals level. And with his drones circling him and keeping an eye out for enemies, he could focus entirely on the conversation. If something went wrong, then Xar could break into the cantina easily, but Nok could take care of himself as well. It was his Vizier he was a little worried about. Despite the new coat of dark blue paint and the antenna attachment on the side of his head, he was still quite defenseless. 


“Mr... Zhimzinblimp” Vizier spoke. “Allow us to introduce ourselves. This is my lord, Xar, whom you have briefly seen before. And this Neimodian is Nok. And we have a business proposition for you…”


With that, Vizier gestured to Nok, to allow him to continue. Xar simply watched and observed, not betraying any thoughts. 
 

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On 8/28/2020 at 12:02 PM, Xar said:

“Mr... Zhimzinblimp” Vizier spoke. “Allow us to introduce ourselves. This is my lord, Xar, whom you have briefly seen before. And this Neimodian is Nok. And we have a business proposition for you…”

 

Nok nodded graciously, first to Vizier, then to Xar.

"My associate is correct. As I understand it, you are currently between markets after the political shifts on Nar Shaddaa. By the way, I'm genuinely sorry to hear about that. Time was you could get anything on Nar Shaddaa, and now..."

 

If Nok regretted one thing about his injury more than anything else, the far and away 1st place winner was the ability to roll his eyes for effect.

 

"However, talent like yours doesn't just lay down and die. I'm here, but not as a buyer." Nok turned the case so that only the table's occupants could see, pressed his finger against the reader, and opened it. Inside a soft, green glint radiated out.

 

"20 kilos of refined nova crystals. Set in 0.5 kilo bars. No markings. No tracking devices. No radiation treatments." Nok pushed the open case over to Shimsinblimp. "This is a down payment for the job I'm hoping to hire you for. I want to hire you," Nok said, leaning back, "to sell spice. To be clear, I want you to set up a spice market here on Mon Cal, and I'm willing to pay to see that happen. And I'm not talking about a rodian on a corner lot peddling to academy brats. I want big. Global. It's why I'm coming to you. I need someone with experience in the business and the drive to build something here on Mon Cal, to take advantage of the opportunities a newly conquered planet offers for such ventures. I think you're that man. Why else would you be here after all?"

Nok leaned forward again, serious. "I understand there's issues to resolve. Steady supply lines for one. But if you are looking to build something here on Mon Cal..." Nok smiled. "Then you could do far worse than to have a Shipyard's executive as an investor."

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Shim’s eyes narrowed as the case was opened. This blind man was more than he let on, knew more than he should. His companion, likewise, appeared to be the bot that had accompanied the dead bodies outside the Shipyard’s corporate HQ. Trading a brief sidelong glance with Blimp was all that was needed. A physical-metaphysical-biological-telekinetic connection between the two heads and personalities of the same body made anything more superfluous really. Though the two did enjoy the tactile ability of talking things out, it was an extra and not needed here.

 

Blimp’s eyes returned to scanning the room, doors, windows and points of entry. The death dealing bot was probably not far off and it did seem to share the joy of throwing people from high places with Blimp.

 

Still . . . the offer was intriguing. If it was a trap, it was an expensive one. A case like that was enough to set up the Troig for life on some far-flung world without ever having to worry about making another sale again. If this kind of wealth was the opening offer though, there was surely more to be had. Who was Shimsinblimp to pass on such a thing? In a matter of a year, he could be living as kings.
 

If it truly was not bugged. It seemed an odd guarantee to make. Shimsinblimp knew a fellow who’d be able to ensure that was true and if it wasn’t to make it so. Until then, dropping the case in a lead-lined box inside a stasis field ought to be enough to ensure that this slick blind lizard was not pulling a fast one on him. If he was, Shinsinblimp could take the wealth, liquidate it, and vanish into the cosmos.


Reaching one of his four arms across the table, Shimsinblimp clicked the case shut and pulled it towards himself. Standing, Shim offer Nok and Vizier a suspiciously coy smile. “Looks like you’ve hired yourself a Troig. Provided these check out, my people will be in touch.”

 

With two hands loosely resting on the handles of his DL-44s, Shimsinblimp slid out from the table and walked out.

 

It took the better part of a week to confirm that the nova was real, pure, and untainted. As soon as Shimsinblimp had the confirmation in hand, he set about making several drastic changes. Not just working, but thriving, under the oppressive thumb of the Hutts had taught him quite a bit.
 

So when Shimsinblimp arrived at the recently deceased suite of the once-head-of-Mon Cal Shipyards, it was with a retinue of some of the most menacing looking thugs money could buy, aboard a LuxurPort Zisparanza. Regaled in a custom shellspider silk suit, Shimsinblimp’s weapons hung openly about his waist, the guns swaying gently back and forth with each swaggered step. 

 

Walking in, the sunglasses wearing, suit clad thugs toting high powered weapons, split to create a pathway for the aspiring drug kingpin.

 

Stopping before the doorman, Blimp offered the nervous Mon Cal a cool smile. “Tell Mister Meer or Morliss that I am here to discuss our business arrangements.”

 

The Mon Cal bellhop nodded nervously as he reached for the intercom, “And who should I tell him you are exactly?

 

“How many two-headed aliens does he know?” Shim continued, seemingly anxiously and loudly tapping a finger against the leather holster of one of his four visible weapons. “He should be expecting us.”

 

The doorman nodded rapidly, keying up the comms, “Uhhh... please tell the boss that there is a, um, two-headed alien and company here to discuss a business deal?” Blimp nodded slowly never taking his narrowed eyes off the young Mon Cal; offering a reassuringly dark smile as the boy spoke. “Well done,” he whispered.

 

As the elevator doors opened, Shimsinblimp waived his retinue off to wait back at the speeder. Shim tossed a small bag of spice on the desk in front of the doorman with a warmer smile and a wink as the two-headed Troig made his way to the elevator.

 

As the lift doors closed, Shim and Blimp shared a knowing glance before the red headed Blimp turned to stare directly into the security camera. They were not share what would be waiting for them when the doors opened, but of the blind Nemodian wanted to do business, there were certain aspects of the job that needed discussed; certain off-world ventures that, if not handled delicately, could draw unwanted ire. In the galaxy they lived in, doing business face to face was a luxury; but it afforded a level of security that holofeeds and communique could not.

 

As the doors slid open, Shim plastered the warmest smile he could muster on his face. Taking a page out of the Nemodian’s own playbook, the spicejacker turned dealer was visiting Nok in his place of power. No fear. No respect. Like the Hutts of yore, Shimsinblimp carried himself as the inevitable overlord of an underground empire. “I believe that we have business to discuss Mister Morliss. Unless we want to keep jacking spice off incoming shipments, we need to find a better supply line. I suspect that your master would not be pleased if things went awry and brought unneeded attention on your little fiefdom.”

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Nok didn't look up as the infamous spicejacker entered. He didn't need to, his senses picking up the traces of his secretary's fear as the criminal had passed, and the waves of anxiety rippling off of his new Pantoran slave filled in the rest of the blanks. He did however pause in his meal, his fork and knife hovering for several long moments as Shimsinblimp spoke, his very presence a blatant show of power and authority. Time would tell if the troig would deliver, but his reputation was enough to convince Nok not to bet against him.

 

Good, he thought. He needed someone ruthless and unwilling to settle.

 

His Pantoran slave, a young woman in chains, cowered in the corner. A delightful find, the woman apparently suffered from a mental disorder that left her with constant, low-level paranoia. The cost of her medication had lessened her value, and Nok had picked her up cheap as a result, ordering her over the Holonet from the market on Onderon. Dropping the dosage of her medication and keeping the source of now steady fear in his office had been like setting up a desk lamp, and now Nok could "see" Shimsinblimp easily, along with the rest of the room. From the front door to Nok's desk, the place was sterile and clean, the smooth lines Mon Calamari favored in their architecture evident everywhere. In the far corners, the space grew more cluttered. Table's of newly acquired Sith and Jedi relics that Nok had only started to examine as part of his hobby mixed with the latest in Mon Calamari tech, disassembled and scattered.

 

On one table in particular rested a single droid chassis. Red, worn, and very old, the droid looked much as it had in the strange entity's chamber below the surface, the entity that had brought Nok to this world in the first place. Deactivated now, the droid was otherwise fully assembled aside from a missing panel here and there.

 

Nok resumed eating, stabbing his fork into a small bird's egg before lifting it to his mouth and biting into the fatty morsel.

 

"Have you ever had pylat eggs Master Shimsinblimp? They're a delicacy on my homeworld, very hard to get. The bird's are even harder, though I hope to have one of my own soon." Nok wiped his mouth with a napkin, and looked up to face the troig head on.

 

"I agree entirely. Jacking shipments is a short-term solution for the size of the undertaking I hope to encourage on this world. If you're going to have a constant source of spice readily available to stream into the Mon Calamari markets, then we'll need a source, preferably under your control or the control of a friendly party." Nok picked another egg out of the thick, yellow sauce and popped it into his mouth, chewing and swallowing before continuing. "I don't need to tell you that the best source is Kessel." He held up his hands in a placating gesture. "I know, going after Kessel sounds crazy, but I think that there's an opportunity here. Kessel has remained out of the galactic war for some time now. The Sith are too enamored with bringing order to their conquered worlds to want to mess it up with drugs, and the rebels want nothing to do with that sort of thing. Kessel is essentially a non-target. However, I have a few contacts in the Sphere of Production, and I have it on good authority that if something were to compromise Kessel's defenses a nearby Sith fleet would jump on the chance to invade the world and make a tidy profit off of its subjugation. And after that...well, they need to sell spice to someone."

 

Nok sat back, and waited for a response.

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Watching the neimodian eat was revolting. Still, Shimsinblimp took it in and the room about them. Blimp’s eyes scanning the room while Shim focused on the bussinessman. Poultry? Such a strange fascination.’ Blimp noted silently with slight amusement. The obscenely rich always seemed to have idiosyncrasies.

 

Still, when Nok mentioned a take over of Kessel, it caught the spicejacker’s attention. Hitching his wagon to someone like Morliss was almost a surefire bet to shoot upwards in power and fortune. Power and fortune begat more power and fortune. But even shrewd minds like this needed honed and nurtured. If that nurturing hand was to be be Shim and Blimp, then fate had aligned it so. All he had to do was bow to the megalomaniac’s desires and temper those against his own so as to ensure this house of cards was transformed into a durasteel fortress.

 

Both heads turned to look at Nok, their eyebrows raising in unison, surprised by the suggestion.  The two heads looked to each other momentarily; the unspoken volumes that passed between them in an instant confirming their course of conduct.

 

Turning back at Nok the troig’s gaze focused on the blind nemodian. The shock and surprise was gone. It was replaced by grim determination and a wicked smile on both faces. “I have no doubt that my time could be split between Kessel and Mon Cal. Such an acquisition would send shockwaves through the underworld that would allow us to emerge a master amongst the chaos.”

“The presence of an Imperial warfleet and jackbooted enforcers would put a dent in our income.”

“It sounds like the start of a conspiracy theory fed by bad batches of ryll. Even, if we know it is true,”

“Nobody outside this room must ever know that.” The words dripped with venom as Blimp menacingly fingered the weapon at his waist.

“We need a less overt method of taking over the needed supplies. Unneeded attention and all . . . “ Shim’s voice trailed off, the consequences of the unfinished thought clearly conveyed. “What of your body-flinging bot that I saw exiting the offices last week before your name became synonymous with starship manufacturing?” 

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18 hours ago, Shimsinblimp said:

“We need a less overt method of taking over the needed supplies. Unneeded attention and all . . . “ Shim’s voice trailed off, the consequences of the unfinished thought clearly conveyed. “What of your body-flinging bot that I saw exiting the offices last week before your name became synonymous with starship manufacturing?” 

 

"A excellent operative, but still just one bot."

"Hmm...any method of taking over is going to draw attention eventually, no matter how we do it. Smart people will connect the dots if we try to keep the Sith name off of it, and I think what little image the Sith Empire has will survive a dip with the spice trade. I'd hoped to use the Sith armada to do our dirty work for us...but maybe we can still use their troops. Not the jackbooted Sith troopers," Nok mused, popping another egg into his mouth, "but a more profit-minded force. House Sovros has strong interests in expanding their slave operation. They're proud and ambitious, and enough competition has jumped into the market for them to feel threatened. They've also got an insane military, all clones, perfectly loyal and controllable. If we offer them a good portion of the spice on hand, a contract to purchase slaves from them at standing market rate for the next few years, and supply our own troops to back theirs up, I could see them throwing some of their forces our way."

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A cut for the goons that helped them take over. That seemed fair. Shimsinblimp pondered as he listened to Nok speak. It would not be hard to ensure that some of the ill gotten gains were unaccounted for when it came time to draw a percentage. A contract to supply slaves to mine the ryll in exchange for a small price or cut. This was sounding pretty good. Besides, if the hired thugs were in it for the pay, they could eat the first few salvos of incoming fire. It’d keep his spicejackers safer. Then they could get down to the more precise bits of pirating the criminal world.

 

“You have a deal Mister . . . Is it Meer or Morliss these days?”

 

“We’ll make sure our gunships are prepped and ready when your men are. Just keep them out of our way. Don’t you worry about us Mister whoever you are. We’ll have those mines controlled in no time.”

 

“And while we are away, steps have already been put in place to ensure that growth continues here on Mon Cal. Even these fishheads seem to find the allure of twi’leks blinding to their senses.”

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The freshly cleaned hunter droid stood at the edge of the garage building, looking over all that he had attained so far. A mechanic’s workshop, bought in the name of a ‘Rax King’, was now his legal property. Xar had made careful work with it, the large chamber-like room a mechanical workplace. A large operating table where he could rest his body at ease and allow his loyal servant fix or tamper with whatever was needed. Shelves of maintenance, welding and slicing equipment for whatever job was needed. A miniature forge in the corner in case something needed to be welded, though Xar possessed no one who could use it effectively. Everything was constantly polished and cleaned as much as possible. 


Yes, the money Xar had made from Nok had been put to good use. A base for himself. A place where he could recharge, rebuild, and gloat to his advisor. 


Still, in all the time since the takeover of the shipyards, Xar had not been surviving on just what he made from Nok. Evidence of this were the bodies in the corner, both unconscious and tied up. Bounties from the local authorities, soon to be turned in for a small profit. There were a lot more of them ever since the Sith takeover. 


Xar stood before them, studying them. His green chassis, just as polished and clean as ever, reflected the incandescent lights above him. Quietly he tapped his claws on his own chassis, as if in thought. Around him, his two drones circled, awaiting their next order beyond ‘protect’. 


Vizier, putting some tools away on one of the shelves, noticed this. The more time he spent with his new master, the more he wondered about what made him so unique. He was a droid, of that there was no doubt. But many of his mannerisms were so organic. A droid’s programming, while adaptable, would have never included things like tapping in thought unless its creator wanted it. And from what his lord had said, Vizier could not believe it was an intentional programming. Unless Xar was rewriting himself constantly? 


“My lord…” Vizier spoke up, waddling over. Xar didn’t look up from the two bounties, a couple of bail-jumpers. 


The protocol droid made a move towards his owner. Without hesitation, the drones suddenly moved to block Vizier’s path, guns powered up and aimed at Vizier. 


“That’s enough you two…” Xar raised one arm and closed his claws. The drones honked once and returned to their circling motion. 


Vizier bowed at his Lord’s graciousness. “My Lord, pardon my obzervationz, but I can’t help but notice you are not pleazed. Are you not zatisfied with your zituation? ” 


There was a moment of silence, and then, “No, we are not satisfied Vizier. Do you know why?”


Xar turned and looked at his advisor, who awaited an answer.  “We do not have enough.” Xar made a few strides past Vizier and picked up a tool from a shelf. A worn down wrench. Xar began to spin his claw holding it, then bringing it back to rest the tool in his other claw. Another organic tendency.


“We did two very impressive jobs, jobs that few would ever try to accomplish. Jobs that required our superiority. One which acquired us your services. But look at what we have. A single room building. Tools and equipment, but thats all. Not what we deserve”


“Indeed sir. You deserve luxurious items, like chrome batteries, and golden claws” Vizier added. He understood how to stay on Xar’s good side. He was originally programmed to make people happy in whatever job service he was a part of. 


“Indeed Vizier. But look at Nok. Look at what he has attained from our work. A shipyard. Workers. Servants of his own. We came out with three additional droids. He has so much more.” 


Xar turned sharply, hearing one of the bounties moan in awakening. In a reflexive reaction, Xar chucked the wrench with near lethal force. The crude tool slammed into the bounty’s head, cracking the skull and most likely sending the victim into a death spiral. He would need to be turned in soon.


“Its not correct. This situation is not correct. We should have servants like that. And we should be viewed above everyone else. Are we not everyone’s superior?”


Vizier nodded in a worried way. His master was upset. If he didn’t come up with an idea, he could be hit by something as well. It hadn’t happened yet, but Vizier had worked with humans enough to know how anger worked. 


“And now there is the Troig...here to accomplish what we should be doing. Building a criminal empire! And we, representative of Black Sun, are doing nothing about it!” 


“Perhapz zir…” Vizier started, trying to quiet down the temper. “There iz a way to rize in popularity amongzt the mazzez and power over the Troig. Maybe even Nok az well.” 


 The Hunter Trainer droid looked at his property. “Go on…”


Vizier, under Xar’s gaze, motioned to the bounties. “You have captured a total of 43 different bountiez on this watery planet already, 8 which were from other planetz. By my calculationz, your greatnezz haz done something no one elze has on this planet. Perhaps we can uze this…”


 The protocol droid held out his right hand and opened it up, revealing the holo-pad that Xar had installed. An image of an elderly Mon Calamari, decorated in a purple regal uniform, emerged. 


“No doubt the Planet’z Zecurity Chief Blo Bodza has heard of your accomplishments already. If he hasn’t, then that is zurprizing. The lazt perzon to turn in 43 different bountiez took a full year to do zo, and that waz before Bodza'z time. You are exquizite.”


“Get to the point Vizier” Xar ordered, though visibly enjoying the praise he was receiving by nodding at each compliment. 


“With your permission, allow me to make engagements with Bodsa. Allow us, in your name, to get you in his services.”


“You believe we should work for this inferior overdressed fish?”


Vizier waved his other hand and shook his head. “Not for long. Long enough to get headz to look at you in the zame light I zee you my lord. Get some recognition from the planetary government. Perhapz, if you can zomehow get more and more zerventz, zay through a certain droid-loving neimoidian, you can demonztrate how you manage entire zquadz of crime hunting unitz. “


Xar nodded, seeing where this was going. 


“Good, good Vizier. With our credibility established, Blo Bodsa will place us at his right hand. And should anything happen to him…” Xar’s claws clenched together, imagining the blood that could squirt out. A true position of power. People all over the planet, nay, the entire galaxy would begin to recognize his greatness. And he would have power over the masses. Let the Troig have his criminal empire. As chief of security, Xar could control even more, like which criminals got captured and which ones got to live. And of course, only those who bowed to him would live. 

 

“No no no…!” Vizier shouted, then immediately quieted himself. Xar’s sensor bore right through the protocol droid like a laser. 


“Zir, if he diez unexpectedly, there would be investigationz on investigationz, and no one would allow you to run zecurity until the investigationz died down. Droid fear always rizez in timeszof trouble. But if he was given the idea to retire early on for whatever reazon….”

 

Xar nodded. “Get on it Vizier. Do whatever you need to do to get an audience with Bodsa. We want him to begging for our services.” 

 

Vizier bowed slightly. Xar, meanwhile, picked up the two bodies and began to head out the door to deliver these bounties. War was excited now. Now he had a goal. Show the people of Mon Cal his superiority. 
 

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On 9/10/2020 at 11:13 PM, Shimsinblimp said:

“You have a deal Mister . . . Is it Meer or Morliss these days?”

 

“We’ll make sure our gunships are prepped and ready when your men are. Just keep them out of our way. Don’t you worry about us Mister whoever you are. We’ll have those mines controlled in no time.”

 

“And while we are away, steps have already been put in place to ensure that growth continues here on Mon Cal. Even these fishheads seem to find the allure of twi’leks blinding to their senses.”


"Excellent. It'll be a few days at the least until I can set my end in motion. Besides, I have some of my own projects I'd like to work in the meantime. Leave a way for me to contact you, and I'll let you know when things are ready on my end and we can plan the operation."

"Oh," Nok said standing and bowing his head to the Troig, "and it's Nok Morliss." He smiled.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Nok shuffled through his office after the Troig had left, the cowering Pantoran slave emanating fear.

He ignored the artifacts scattered across the tables. They were nothing but old relics as far as he could tell. Valuable, but not useful. He'd love to do more in-depth analysis on them though, in the hopes they might lead him to a better cache, but they weren't what occupied his attention. Moving past them, he focused his attention on the droid chassis, sprawled and deactivated..

The guardian droid that had been either protecting or imprisoning that...thing in the tunnels. There were no records anywhere that mentioned a model that even resembled this thing.

 

Ichtyoid head...likely a Mon Cal native design. 

 

Nok began disassembling the plating over the chest, find latches and switches by instinct and the unusual "vision" provided by his slave's fear. As he worked and considered the machine, his body relaxed. A tension that hadn't left since the caves was easing away as he lost himself in the droid's innards. This move...this takeover of the Shipyards...It was a perfect opportunity, the kind of thing businessmen and criminals dreamed of falling into their laps. Nok had been in the right place at the right time and had managed to come out the other side with the prize in his hands, but now he was exposed. Nok had always survived by never being noticeable. His businesses were always small, and half of them were legitimate if not ethical. He'd avoided purchasing a pylat bird, a huge status symbol among neimoidians, to avoid being noticed by his peers. He scattered his funds in dozens of vaults and accounts and under almost a hundred identities. But now he was out in the open. Now he had to answer to his investors who'd put up money to purchase the Shipyards. They'd already started seeing a return on their investment, but Nok knew better than to assume they'd just stay in the background. Now Nok was in bed with a criminal like Shimsinblimp, someone who would just as soon shoot Nok if he thought his new "partner" was a hindrance or cheating. Heck, now Nok was working with a psychotic killer droid with an ego the size of a purrgil. People would take shots at him now. He couldn't hide.

The exposed wiring of the droid suddenly stood out in stark relief, and Nok realized why.

 

He was afraid.

 

Nok started to tamp it down, but stopped. He took a deep breath, and took the fear in. He let it build. He fed it. He ran through mental holovids of getting gutted by the psychotic Xar, or gunned down by the cold Shimsinblimp. Each played out in cold, full sensory detail, as if the Force mirrored his fears directly back into his mind. The Dark Side around him responded to his emotion, and he stood at the center stirring it into a maelstrom. He barely noticed his slave's terror spiking, or the artifacts on the tables rattling before falling off onto the soft carpet. He couldn't see the lights flicker or see the door panel flash and go dark.

He sank further into his fear, becoming a part of the Force, unraveling until it wasn't even fear anymore. It was some hidden, roiling, dark mass in his chest that spread through his limbs. It compelled him to act. It willed him to fight. It demanded he take.

Then something caught his attention. It almost knocked him out of his trance, but as the Dark Side twisted about him in invisible currents, something in the droid chassis was...diverting the flow. It was slight, but it was there. Nok brought his focus to bear through the haze, and saw what it was. In the palm of each hand, a small tablet of metal and circuits lay buried under the durasteel. It resonated with the power of the Dark Side.

So...that's why I couldn't figure out how you generated those fields...

He grinned.

Someone used alchemy on you to make it happen.

 

He flicked his hand out, and the call button at his desk across the room pressed down. As deep as he was in the Dark Side, it required as much mental effort as blinking.

 

"Secretary. Have one of my security droids retrieve an item for my ship and have it brought to my office. It'll be cataloged as Item 81. The Art of Mechu Deru."

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