Corporate Affairs

Quaxo9
Posts: 1100
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Quaxo9 »

The Agent

Perhaps Watcher Two was correct to send me here, after all. Not that I doubted her ability to see threads in the ether - more that I often didn't see them as the threats she and Keeper thought they were. But these two rather atypical Sith in the company of so many Jedi was certainly suspicious.

Unfortunately the Sith known as Lana Beniko seemed attached to her Jedi, which was a complication I had rather hoped to avoid. It would be easier to evaluate her without the additional eyes of the Force-sensitive watching my every move. The other Sith of interest - a Pureblood - one Pyrran Onyk also seemed very comfortable in the presence of people who were generally considered mortal enemies. Interesting. I found my interest piqued, which I had not been expecting from this particular job.

Then, at the spaceport - another Jedi, and...an SIS agent. Well, now I knew where Beniko was getting her intel. She had a man on the inside - the son of a Jedi Master no less. Perhaps I needed to give her more credit. She clearly had these people in her pocket.

I saw no point in making introductions myself, though I felt the newcomers eyes brush over Vector and myself. If pressed, I'd give them the same name I'd given the others. No harm in perpetuating a myth when it protected us both so well.

The ship was familiar to me as it was the same model as my own, currently in orbit. Kaliyo managed to do her job well enough. No doubt she'd complain about needing upgraded sensors when I returned, but it couldn't be helped. I wasn't at the helm - how could I expect perfection from someone who strives for the exact opposite? Still, the feel of the vessel was very strange. Vector could sense it too, I knew. They seemed so...comfortable. It was unsettling.

Of course, there was still one matter I needed to attend to lest it interrupt the current mission. I moved to the cockpit and stood to Beniko's left, waited for her to notice my presence, then spoke.

"Before we go too much farther, do you wish to deal with the zabrak boy in the stowage compartment, or shall I?"
Monkey Kitty
Posts: 657
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Lana Beniko

Lana sighed. "Of course there's a zabrak amongst the freight. What a day. No, I'll handle it. Pyrran!"

"Yes?" the pureblood replied, looked up from his datapad when summoned.

"Can you please go to the cargo hold? It seems your new apprentice has decided to tag along."

Pyrran blinked a few times. "Decided to...? Very well. I'll see to it."

The Sith lord made his way to the stowage area and unceremoniously yanked the door open.

"You could have just asked to come, you know," he said.
Quaxo9
Posts: 1100
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Quaxo9 »

Arksynn

The zabrak stepped out into the light, head down and arms rigidly at his side. He was sweating - obviously not from the temperature as the cargo space was decidedly unheated.

"I'm sorry, Master. I just...thought you'd say no and I wanted to be at your side."

Truthfully, there was more to it than that. When Pyrran and Vette had gone off to meet with some Jedi Master, he'd followed at a distance, in case it was the trap he suspected it was. That and he hadn't wanted to be left at the house with Reyth. He could feel her presence and he knew that if he was left there, he'd end up back in trouble. It was so much safer to be with Pyrran.

However, he hadn't asked to come along for the simple reason that his last Master had never let him go anywhere. She hadn't seemed to really want him around, either, which left him confused and unfulfilled. When she had wanted him around...Arksynn shivered, but not from the cold.

"Forgive me. Um, may I attend you?"

He desperately hoped he wasn't going to be sent home.
Quaxo9
Posts: 1100
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Quaxo9 »

Neva Xolte

Siralai's comm would get another chirping call. This time, it was the intrepid zabrak captain, grinning ear to ear.

"Hey, we're on our way back to Rishi with no fewer passengers. Just thought I'd let you know. Everything okay planetside?"
Monkey Kitty
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Pyrran Onyk Mahr

He had failed as a Master already.

It wasn't like he had many options. What else could he do? Fire Arksynn off in an escape pod? Tell the group they had to turn around to return his errant apprentice to safety? No, there was nothing for it. Arksynn was with them now, for better or worse. If Dallyn could handle things like this, surely a young Sith could... right? He didn't want to think too hard about the answer.

"Very well," Pyrran said, trying to salvage some shred of his dignity. "You may accompany me."

He didn't know how to do this. He didn't know how to do any of this. There was no map.

It wasn't that he didn't want Arksynn there. It was that what they were doing was undoubtedly dangerous. Pyrran would never be able to forgive himself if something happened to Arksynn on his watch.

How to be protective, without being overprotective?

The Sith treated their apprentices like interchangeable fodder at best... but he didn't want to be that way. He wanted to be caring and nurturing, like Siralai and Trystan with their children or Teizi with her padawan. But he didn't know how. No one in his childhood had been that for him. He had tried to be for his sisters in their father's house, but he had been only a boy then too. What did he know? Where was he supposed to learn this?

"Just... be safe, alright?" he added. "I intend to bring you home in one piece."
Monkey Kitty
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Siralai Mahr

"Hi, Neva!" Siralai replied cheerfully. "Welcome back! So uhh... there has been a slight complication. I'm not actually on Rishi at the moment..."

She filled Neva in - briefly - about the situation at the market, the odd behavior of the Volent employees, the sudden appearance of SIS and the subsequent disappearance of Gina Valli, and their current mission.

"I have a huge favor to ask, if it's not too much trouble. We were sure Gina was taken by SIS and is on the ship we're following. But Jasper swears he saw her in the spaceport. I don't see how that's possible, but I believe him. Would you be able to help him check it out, and try to get to the bottom of whatever is going on here?"

***

Now that they were back on the planet, Kismet was feeling a little tongue-tied with the kids.

Lelleth finally broke the silence. She asked bluntly, "What's going to happen to us now?"

"Well..." Kismet tried to shake loose the anxiety that was gripping her. Why was this so hard? She didn't fear battle - why did she fear rejection from these three children so much? "Well, now you have options. The three of you do, but you're the only one who is really old enough to make this decision, so you must choose for your brother and sister too. As we've told you, since we could not return you to your home, Clan Cadera is responsible for you until you come of age. What that looks like, though, is up to you. We could find you a home among your people. Not your blood family, but other Twi'leks who..."

The expression on Lelleth's face suggested she didn't much like that option. After what had happened with her own grandmother, Kismet didn't blame her.

Kismet soldiered on, "Or, if you would prefer, you may remain with Torian and me."

"We'll stay," Lelleth said without hesitation.

This was what Kismet wanted to hear. Her heart started to soar - but no, don't get ahead of yourself. Caution. Caution.

"You may stay with us," Kismet repeated. "But you need to understand something if you do. Torian and I are Mandalorians. That is our way of life. That will be our children's way of life too. That will be our legacy. Our children will be raised in the Mandalorian religion. That may seem harsh to you, but we simply... would not know how to do otherwise."

Lelleth shook her head. "It's not harsh. It's honest. But it's what we want. We want to stay with you. We want to be Mandalorians too."

Kismet had to look away as she hugged the girl, so Lelleth wouldn't see that her eyes were misty.
Monkey Kitty
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Theron Shan

As they entered the atmosphere, Theron hailed the base on his personal SIS frequency - while maintaining enough distance that they hopefully wouldn't notice that it was a Sith ship they traveled in.

"Hello, this is Theron Shan. I'm looking for Special Agent Jon Houlihan--"

"Speaking," came the unruffled, easy reply.

"Uh, hi. This is a little delicate..."

Lana motioned frantically but silently for him to continue.

Theron had not expected it to be this easy to reach the squad leader. "This is a little awkward, but headquarters sent me to question an individual in connection with an ongoing investigation, but it seems your team already picked her up--"

"Gina Valli? Yeah, we have her. You want to talk to her?"

Theron was once again caught flat-footed. "Uh. Yeah. That would be great." Honestly, he added, "I didn't think it would be that easy to convince you."

Although it was an audio-only channel, Theron could practically hear the shrug in the Special Agent's voice. "No skin off my back. We already got what we needed. Just checking out a few leads to make sure she was being honest before we terminate the prisoner, but we don't anticipate any issue. You and your team can ask her whatever you want. She's already softened up for you. We worked her over pretty good."

Trying not to let his distaste come through in his voice, Theron replied, "Thanks! That's so helpful. Where can my team and I find her?"

"Storage building out back. Entry code is 8-1-7-2-7-2-8. She won't give you any trouble. Just..."

"Yes?" Theron asked absently, wondering if this was a trap. It had to be a trap, right? No spy would just give up information this easily...

"Put in a good word with headquarters for us, okay? They're still mad about that incident on Corellia. 'War crime,' they called it. All bullshit, of course. It'll blow over. But a good word from Theron Shan - the Theron Shan - will get us back in good graces. Okay?"

"Of course," Theron lied smoothly.

Headquarters was going to hear something, but it wouldn't be a good word.
Quaxo9
Posts: 1100
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Quaxo9 »

The Agent

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Between the bumbling idiot at the helm and the one on the comm, I was having trouble understanding how the SIS could be a problem for Imperial Intelligence. What a farce. I could not quite keep a neutral face, especially not when Corellia was mentioned so casually. I supposed I could let that momentary failing of mine slide this once. It was still a raw nerve.

"This had better be a trap, or I'll be very disappointed."

I had decided that it was best to say at least one of my thoughts aloud, lest I let them wonder what had bothered me. No weakness allowed. I wasn't worried about Theron Shan, but I still didn't have a good read on Beniko. For her, I needed to keep my guard up. I pulled up my screen and started reading up on Special Agent Jon Houlihan.

Vector and I stood in the control room, waiting to land, when the Jedi's protege came out of the wings and stopped short. I ignored him, but he approached anyway. I felt my guardian tense behind me and I allowed it. The padawan was no threat, but I did like feeling like someone who needed protecting every now and again. The boy was nervous. He seemed to want to speak...or was he going to throw up on my boots? I continued to monitor my screen as he did not seem forthcoming.

"So uh, your uniform..."

I could see where this was going.

"Goes well with my complexion." I finished his sentence for him, cutting him off.

The boy gulped and returned to the meeting room, leaving Vector and me in relative peace.
Monkey Kitty
Posts: 657
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Theron Shan

"Oh, me too," Theron replied when the Agent stated her misgivings. "Trust me, we are not dealing with SIS's best and brightest here."

He broadened his gaze to make clear he was addressing the entire group, no longer just her, and went on, "That said, I think we can assume there will be some surveillance. So unless we want to fail this mission before we even start, you're all going to need to make sure you don't look too Sith-y and/or Imperial. They'll be expecting me to bring a team, and they may just let a fellow SIS agent just wander in, but they won't do the same for someone who looks like an enemy on sight, so let's all do ourselves a solid and keep a low profile."

For Pyrran, this would be relatively easy; he dressed in fairly ordinary clothes, with the dark colors being the only real nod to Sith tradition. He couldn't hide the color of his skin, but there would presumably be no Force users present, so the addition of a hood and gloves should be sufficient camouflage for him. Lana, who was harder to disguise with her current garb, would stay behind with her ship, ready for a quick exit if needed.

When they arrived at the compound, they saw that there were multiple layers of fencing - of both the traditional and energy field varieties - but Theron tried scanning his ID at the first gate, and received entry. He shrugged, and repeated this for each obstacle they came to. No one greeted them upon arrival, either as a welcome or as an ambush, so Theron merely followed directions to the outbuilding and punched in the code on arrival.

This has to be a trap...

It wasn't.

Theron's practiced eyes hastily scanned the building for traps or concealed personnel, and he saw nothing. It was essentially a shed, divided into two rooms - a larger front entry, and a smaller area in back that had been converted into a cell. It appeared that the front room was used for interrogations, based on the table with shackles, the rack, and the other various implements. Theron tried not to look too closely, but it was impossible not to perceive that there was a hell of a lot of blood. He winced involuntarily.

The prisoner currently in the cell was barely recognizable as Gina Valli. He recognized her blonde hair, but her face had been been bruised and battered. Her clothes were torn and bloodied, and not an inch of her visible skin was unmarred by violence. It was clear that she had been tortured for the entirety of the time they'd been tracking the SIS agents, on their ship as well as here. Now she hung from a pair of manacles, her body in an awkward kneeling position, her arms above her head, putting tremendous strain on her shoulders. She was no longer reacting, though. Gina appeared to be conscious, but now utterly passive, deprived of any fight she might have had by the hopelessness of her situation.

Theron was at a loss for words. No pithy comebacks or tension-breaking jests. Not now.

"We've gotta get her out of there," he said.

To Visper, he added quietly, "I need you to document everything. I'm going to need all the evidence I can get with this one."
Monkey Kitty
Posts: 657
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Corporate Affairs

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Pyrran Onyk Mahr

Pyrran had seen a great many horrors in his time as an apprentice of Darth Baras, but there were two things permanently and irrevocably burned into his brain, things he saw when he closed his eyes at night. Grand Marshal Cheketta - who had unaccountably forgiven him. That one he had done his best to make right. But the other... the other could never be fixed. It could never be made right. It could never be forgiven. It was a burden Pyrran would carry as long as he lived.

The best he could do was push it aside, sometimes. But in that shed, the smell of sweat and blood and terror filling his nostrils, it all came flooding back.


They were torturing a spy. Pyrran liked to lie to himself and say Baras was torturing a spy, but that wasn't true. They were torturing a spy...


The blonde woman hung against the wall, brutalized, rendered utterly helpless. He barely knew who she was, but that wasn't the point. That wasn't why his insides were suddenly twisting.

They had come here for information. He had hoped they would find her hale and defiant, perhaps ready to negotiate or perhaps ready to fight, to make them pay for every scrap they learned from her.

He didn't want it like this. Helpless. Already tortured. And now they had to make her talk.


They had to make him talk. Pyrran stared at the spy Baras had bound and tortured, willing him to break, to just give up so it would be over. But he wouldn't give up. Why wouldn't he? It was pointless.

Baras said they had to do more. More to make the man talk. He had a plan...

And Pyrran went along with it. He did everything Baras told him to. He participated. He helped. He hadn't wanted to. But he'd done it anyway.

Pyrran had lied to himself. Lied so thoroughly he'd made even himself believe it. If he just went along with it, there would be an exit ramp. One more torture. The spy could survive that. One more. Then Pyrran could find a way to stop it. They'd escape together. The spy would be angry for what Pyrran had done, but he'd have his life and his sanity and ultimately he would forgive Pyrran and understand his actions had been for the greater good...

The spy was dead. Baras had destroyed his body, taken his mind, and then killed him.

And Pyrran had helped, every step of the way...



Pyrran understood what was expected of him. He was a Sith lord. This woman was a spy. They had to make her talk.

His hands were shaking.

He was a Sith lord.

It was happening again.

They were going to make him do it again.

He turned his back and fled the cell.


***

Siralai followed him, her concern plain on her face.

Pyrran stopped just outside the cell, his back to the others, doubled over with his hands on his knees, gasping for breath.

"Pyrran, are you alright?"

"I'm not stupid!" he shot back, almost as if he was angry with Siralai - but he wasn't, and his own tone surprised him, and he softened. "I'm not stupid," he repeated. "I know what they do to spies. I know what everyone does to spies. Republic, Empire - it doesn't matter. But I can't. I can't do it again. I can't do that to him..."

Siralai was still just looking at him, her gaze taking him in silently.

Belatedly, he realized what he'd just said.

"To her," Pyrran amended. To Gina Valli, not some other long-dead spy. "I can't do it to her. I know what they expect of me. I know. I'm not weak. I'm not stupid. But I can't..."

"Pyrran, turn around." Siralai's voice was gentle but firm.

"I can't..."

"Yes you can."

"No..."

"Pyrran. I promise you, I will never do anything to hurt you. Do you trust me?"

He nodded mutely.

Siralai took both of his hands in hers and squeezed them. "Then turn around."

He turned.

The cell door was open now. Theron was supporting Gina's body to take the pressure off her shoulders, while Vette worked on getting the manacles unlocked. Visper had her med kit open and was rummaging through it for supplies to treat her new patient.

"Can you do this?" Siralai asked Pyrran.

He took a deep breath. "Yes," he said. "Yes, I can."
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