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Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2023 5:11 pm
"Hello?" Siralai was puzzled as she answered the holo call. "Master Jesk? What are you...?"
"I wish to confess." The Master's face was grey, his voice emotionless, his eyes dead.
"To confess?" Siralai was immediately skeptical. "You've been in jail for about five minutes. And you randomly and spontaneously call to spill your guts? Forgive me if I don't believe you. This is just another ploy."
"It is not a ploy." Jesk's voice remained without intonation, but it was no longer without feeling. Not quite. "It is neither random nor spontaneous. Nor were you my first call. I called everyone else - all my contacts in the Republic army, your sister, eight other senators, the Chancellor - none of them will even answer. After all my years serving the Jedi. Serving the Republic. I am disgraced for it. I am imprisoned for it. And those I served... those I always served... now won't even take my call."
"So you're... confessing?"
Jesk shrugged. "I have little enough to lose at this point. Perhaps my captors will judge me less harshly if I provide some information they can use. Perhaps not. It matters little. Everything that has ever mattered to me ended in betrayal. Why should I not betray them in return?"
"Erm... alright." Siralai could see the logic, but under the circumstances remained skeptical. "So what do you want to say?"
"The message about the holocron. The one directing you to Felix Iresso, invoking your dead Master. That was me."
"Okay. Um. Why?"
"Because you are a disgrace, a traitor to the Order. So is the broken, brainwashed Sith who dares to call herself a Jedi Master and a Barsen'thor after all her crimes. I gave you a reason to come into conflict. Ideally, you would have killed each other and both been out of the way, but that seemed too much to hope for. If not, the galaxy would at least be rid of one of you. It hardly mattered which one. Either death would have served to make the galaxy a purer place."
"Ah. Alright. Well, as you see, it didn't turn out that way. Neither of us died. Thank you for your confession. I hope you feel better. Goodb--"
"No!" Jesk cut her off emphatically. "That is not the whole of the confession, just the start of it. Be quiet and hear the rest."
Siralai sighed but acquiesced. "Fine. Talk."
"I assisted your sister with the creation of your son, Ebben. Senator Mahr came to me, and frankly, I was happy to assist. You were failing in your duty to create powerful heirs for the Republic. Fornicating with some Imperial soldier, when you were capable of far greater things. So I did as the Senator asked. I identified an appropriate biological donor, secured his cooperation, and arranged the transfer of the genetic material--"
"You were responsible for that... that violation?"
Jesk sighed. "Stop being so melodramatic. As you were told, there was no... lust involved, no acts of debauchery. It was a simple medical procedure in a clinic, and nothing more. You wanted a baby, and you got one. Had you been taking a contraceptive, this wouldn't even have been possible, so you really only have yourself to blame if you didn't--"
"I was trying to have a baby with my husband!"
The disgraced Master shrugged. "And you got one. Or close enough. The Imperial doesn't care. He's just as happy to raise other men's offspring; he was doing so already. It makes little difference."
"It makes a difference to us! Adopting children is different than... than being impregnated against my will!"
"I am tiring of this argument. If you wish to continue it, I will simply terminate the call. But if you will stop being so argumentative for half a moment, there is more you should hear, more you need to know if you wish to stop plans in motion."
Siralai was far from done arguing - not by a longshot. But 'plans in motion' had her attention, and he knew it. "Fine. Keep talking. This had better be worth it."
"Very well. As you know, I am no doctor. Once I had assembled the pieces, so to speak, my role was done. It was not I who created your little test tube baby, in the end. It was operatives from a corporation known as Volent Technology Systems."
"Volent...? That sounds familiar."
"I would imagine so. They were on the news recently. A contract to provide technology to the Republic. A lucrative contract. Brokered by your sister. The genetic tinkering with your family line was only the first step."
"Only the the first step? What else do they have planned?"
"I don't know." Jesk wasn't being obstructive. He sounded... bitter. He truly didn't know, and he was angry about it. "As soon as the Senator - your sister - got what she wanted, she cut me out of the loop. But you shouldn't trust her. You shouldn't trust Volent. Whatever they have planned... I do not believe they truly have the Republic's interests at heart. And fool that I am, I suppose I still care about that."
Siralai wasn't sure whether to believe him. He certainly hadn't earned her trust. Quite the opposite. But there was something about his bitter tone that stopped her from dismissing this out of hand. "I'll look into it."
"See that you do."
Jesk terminated the call.
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2023 5:52 pm
The Evocii Market
When Master Mona Pell spoke of a disturbance in the Force in "the market," she did not mean the commercial strip near the landing port, nor the seedier back alleys where Pyrran had first crossed paths with Evanni. Master Pell was instead talking about the Evocii Market further down the beach.
As it happened, Visper Averrod-Iresso and Lana Beniko were already there. Their growing encampment required supplies, and Lana had been tipped off by the Mandalorians that the Evocii would have the lowest prices on some components she needed for the maintenance of her ship.
Looking at the bustling market, there wouldn't appear to be any disturbance. Shoppers came and went from the patchwork maze of brightly colored stalls, the price haggling all seemed good natured, and customers relaxed in the shade of the café with a cold drink when they needed a break from commerce.
The Evocii here were noticeably different than those visitors were accustomed to from the various cities on other planets. This was no downtrodden serf labor class. They looked healthier, more robust - the effects of plenty of decent food, consistent medical care, and for some, finally being exposed to natural light for the first time. They held their heads high, and had no fear of meeting the eye of any visitor. They even looked taller than other Evocii... an illusion caused by their confident, upright stances. No more cowering in fear or slouching with exhaustion. No more timidity. This was a good place.
And among them, surrounded by her tribe, dressed like them but her birth species unmistakable, the Rattataki looked on, deterring trouble - with her mere presence, generally, but with more forceful means when it occasionally became necessary.
Visper waved across the alleyway at Susanna Shepard, then walked over to say hello and introduce Lana.
"Susanna is basically my sister-in-law," Visper explained. "She and Felix have been friends since they were kids."
"Grew up in the same refugee camps," Susanna confirmed cheerfully. Then something caught her eye. "Well, speak of the devil and he will appear!" she said.
"What does that mean?" Visper raised an eyebrow.
Susanna shrugged. "Just something people say. But look over there."
'Over there' were three people who clearly looked out of place, even by the eclectic standards of the market. Two nondescript men, indistinguishable from each other save that one had dark hair, and the other's hair was light. They wore matching white jackets with VOLENT boldly emblazoned across the back, and both had their eyes hidden behind dark glasses. As the men scanned the stalls, the third of their party - a woman - swept the whole area with her gaze, seemingly on the lookout for something else. Her blonde hair was pulled into a bun low on her neck, she wore hoop earrings, and... Visper noted... she was dressed rather incongruously for a relaxed beachside market on a hot planet. Her clothing was impeccable and she somehow hadn't broken a sweat, but she had to be roasting in the turtleneck blouse, long pants, boots, and black gloves.
"Who are they?" Visper asked.
"I'm gonna find out," Susanna said.
Lana, who apparently wasn't learning about Volent for the first time either but did not seem inclined to volunteer any information, narrowed her golden eyes and nodded.
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Sun Nov 19, 2023 6:46 pm
The Agent and Vector Hyllus
He couldn’t read her face, but he could feel the tension in her. The call she’d just received had changed the nuances of her scent as quickly as it had changed the trajectory of her vessel. Every mission was treated with the same urgency no matter how she felt about the orders, which Vector found admirable. She may keep her priorities secret, but he had met no other Agent with her drive to succeed.
Did he regret that her position kept them apart? Yes, often. But he reminded himself that if not for her occupation, he would never have met his true partner. The woman he loved so deeply that an entire species worshiped the air she breathed. Trillions of Killik felt the depth of their love and supported his individuality even as they accepted their feelings into the collective mind. The Nest – ever-present, but not all-knowing. At least, for a time.
The ship fell through the atmosphere of Rishi at a terrible pace. Kaliyo was brazen, anti-authoritarian and narrow-minded. He was fairly certain that the only reason she was on the ship was to make it easier for the Agent to keep tabs on her. In fact, her crew seemed to be entirely made up of people she couldn’t trust. Perhaps it was what kept her skills so finely honed – the inability to relax.
Well, there had been a few instances where she had let her guard down. One of those beautiful moments had happened here, on Rishi. The Agent had given the rest of the crew shore leave and had taken great pains to bury their flight plan. Once planet side, she’d cloaked her vessel and the two of them had walked through the steaming jungle. He had watched her step around puddles and shrug her shoulders against the insects that hungered for her blood. He knew how she hated the heat and well, possibly the out-of-doors in general, and yet her song had soared.
The small hut that he had rented was so simple that there was not much room for a listening device or bomb to hide, but that hadn’t deterred the Agent from making a thorough inspection. Of everything but the box sitting in the middle of the bed with a deep blue ribbon holding the lid closed. Finally satisfied, she had finally turned to him. He had felt her attention focus wholly on him. Had felt her tremble with anticipation. She didn’t break eye contact when she had asked him what was in the box.
“Open it.” He’d said, despite knowing that he would lose her gaze for a moment. It had been worth it for the look she had given him. Eyebrow raised, lips playful. She had turned slowly, tugged at the ribbon, allowed the rich fabric to flow through her fingers before slowly prying open the box. The breath had caught in her throat as she identified his gift. A new dress to wear to the wedding they were to attend that evening. A very expensive, and what he hoped would be a highly flattering dress. Her hands had paused over the fabric as though she was daring herself to touch it.
“Would you like to…try it on?” He offered, hoping that the style he had chosen wasn’t the issue with her hesitance to pick it up.
Her song had intensified half a second prior to her right ear rising slightly. The smile which had been made apparent to him by that small movement also sang out in her voice. “Well, I would, but I would have to get undressed.”
“We could…assist you.”
The hiss of the spacecraft door followed by the roar of the engines drowned out his reverie. The Agent narrowed her eyes against the glaring sunlight even as he felt her hold her breath. Whether that was to delay breathing in the hot, humid air or to avoid the stench of what passed for the Rishi spaceport, he was left to wonder. Their boots struck the wooden planks and he watched her lift her right hand to wave Kaliyo off. The crew would wait in orbit. The mission must be of a sensitive nature instead of a violent one. Or so he surmised. She gave no indication one way or another.
The two of them moved through the main Rishi market, drawing both stares and hurried disengagement. He moved into the shadow of a narrow alley in concert with her. They stood there, chest to chest, breathing air made more stale for their location. The Agent’s fingers touched the hilt of her vibroknife as she turned her face away from the alley opening, one eye a mere slit as it watched the crowd.
Three people passed by, conspicuous by their blinding white jackets in a sea of shabby grey. He caught the word written on the back of the last man’s jacket – Volent. Interesting. The familiar electric current danced over his skin, making the hair on the back of his neck stand up. She had just enacted a stealth shield.
"This may not be on mission, but Volent’s presence here is of interest.”
He nodded to indicate his understanding for he knew that she was well aware that her every decision had his full support. The two of them stepped out into the light, behind the trio that had garnered the Agent’s attention. Though they had to avoid bumping into people who couldn’t see them, he trusted his Agent’s ability to guide them and allowed himself to look around. If he was not mistaken, they were headed for the Evocii market. A feeling of unease settled on him.
She strode confidently into the crowded market and found a strangely quiet square of earth to stand upon. He watched her take in the crowd, saw her focus briefly on their mutual friend behind her stall, before her head turned to directly observe a Jedi Master standing shoulder to shoulder with a Sith lord. Perhaps following Volent hadn’t been so far off mission after all.
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2023 4:44 pm
Susanna Shepard, Visper Averrod-Iresso, and Lana Beniko
Susanna, Visper, and Lana trailed the three at a distance for awhile. Their objective remained unclear. Looking for something? Someone? Susanna noticed Frenka paying attention, but since the trio weren't causing any trouble, it seemed the Rattataki wasn't going to intervene.
Well, that meant Susanna had to take matters into her own hands, then. She stepped into the path of the Volent group.
"Hi," she said, grinning and sticking out her hand. "I'm Susanna. Can I help you find something?"
"Um... do you work here?" The Volent woman's confusion was understandable. Despite her casual clothing and easy manner, Susanna had the bearing of a military officer and a Republic accent. The presence of such a soldier wasn't necessarily a mark of neutrality, and it was tricky to parse.
"Nah, not as such," Susanna replied. "But I live near here. I come here a lot. Seemed like you're looking for something."
"Yes, actually," the woman replied, hastily regrouping and shaking Susanna's still-outstretched hand with her own gloved one. "My name is Gina Valli. I'm an outreach coordinator for Volent Technology Systems. My job is to make sure our products get into the hands of people who need them. As good galactic corporate citizens, Volent is of course concerned about the poor and needy Evocii in other parts of the galaxy who are still without appropriate medical care. We brought some medicines and supplies to distribute to those in need, whether here or on other worlds. We were just wondering where we should leave the crates."
"That's nice of you," Susanna said neutrally. She wasn't used to these big corporate interests being generous - not unless there was something in it for them. And almost no one was generous to Evocii. "You should go talk to Frenka. She's the Rattataki selling the coffee. I can help you unload the supplies wherever she wants."
And of course, that also gave Susanna an excuse to discreetly look everything over before any items changed hands.
As Susanna talked to Gina from Volent, Visper and Lana both hung back. A retired Republic soldier in civvies stuck out a little, but a Jedi and a Sith were unmistakable - especially together.
While they waited... and watched, and listened... Lana suddenly heard Theron's voice coming through her earpiece. "Hey. I dunno why everyone's so interested in this damned backwater planet all of a sudden. But I just wanted to give you a heads up - an SIS ship landed a few hours ago. I just found out. Special Agent Jon Houlihan and his crew."
Lana frowned. This planet was indeed getting a little crowded for comfort. "Any idea what they want?" she replied quietly.
"Nope, sorry. I don't think they're looking for Sith. But just be careful. These guys have a bad reputation."
"Bad how?" He must be concerned indeed, Lana thought, if he felt the need to warn her about some of his own people.
"They're pretty brutal. It's all just rumors, but I've heard talk about some pretty awful extrajudicial stuff they've done."
"We'll keep an eye out," Lana assured him.
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2023 8:58 am
Lana Beniko and Theron Shan
As Susanna directed the Volent employees to Frenka at the café, Lana discreetly got back on comms.
"Theron? I have a name I need intel on. What do you have on a Gina Valli?"
"Doesn’t ring a bell. Just a sec."
Lana waited while Theron accessed the information. Too bad the other two Volent lackeys hadn't introduced themselves. Nor was she under the illusion that Theron would give her any sensitive Republic data - but they had worked together enough to build a level of trust. He would give her whatever he could, and it was better than nothing.
Then Theron was back. "Okay, Gina Valli. Human female. Employed by Volent Technology Systems in marketing and outreach. Born on Corellia. Educated on Coruscant; degree in business and commerce. Current age, thirty-five. Parents are dead - old age related natural causes, not seeing anything of interest there. No siblings. Never married. No kids. Current residence is listed as a Volent-owned station in Neutral Space. No criminal convictions. Never investigated by SIS. No apparent vices. Frankly, she sounds like just about the most boring person imaginable..."
"Alright, thank you," Lana replied. Apparently there wasn't anything to find working the background angle...
"Hey, wait. There's one thing. Don't hang up, let me check something real quick..."
Lana waited. Then...
"Okay, here's the weird part. None of these records are more than six months old."
"Yeah. They tried to hide that, changed the time stamps and so on, but once you dig into the code a little, they couldn't totally hide their tracks. I don't know who this woman actually is, or why Volent decided to fake all this stuff in the past half-year. I'll keep digging."
"Thank you, Theron."
Lana gazed over at the woman who was now cheerfully engaged in conversation with Susanna and Frenka, gesturing with an impeccable gloved hand and smiling a perfect practiced smile with carefully made-up red lips.
Who are you really, Gina Valli? Lana wondered.
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2023 5:38 pm
Teizi Lin and Padawan Dallyn
Master Pell's atunement to the Force was admirable, at least, that's what Teizi thought. On Rishi, where she'd experienced so many wild explosions of the Force, she hadn't let the comparatively small disturbance draw her attention. Clearly her time spent meditating on Tython had not provided her with the refreshment she had hoped. She cast an eye on her padawan. He was disengaged, gaze unfocused.
"We will attend as well, Master Pell."
Dallyn trailed behind her, but at least he seemed to be paying more attention. Having Pyrran and Vette at their side was...familiar. She felt more relaxed here than she had at the Temple, she realized. It unsettled her. She had felt fine after the trial...it was her concern for Dallyn that was causing the unbalance. But she was at a loss as to how to resolve the young man's turmoil. Perhaps she should ask Master Pell for advice if she could get a moment of the Master's time.
Despite all the time she'd spent on Rishi, Teizi had not been to this particular market. It appeared to be run by...Evocii? They all looked so...happy. Healthy. It was then that she realized that they were free. A smile rose to her lips unbidden. It was wonderful to see. Rishi was a planet of many surprises.
It was then she spotted Lana's familiar hair and robes across the market. Next to Visper's own conspicuous robes. Teizi glanced at Master Pell, wondering how the Master would respond to a Sith who was not a user of the Light Side in the company of Master Visper, a woman with a complicated past with the Dark Side.
It was only her turning that allowed her to see another interesting couple. A Chiss woman in the company of a tall human man suddenly appeared behind a stall. She had a blaster drawn and aimed at a Kowakian monkey-lizard who was dancing away with what looked like a stealth field generator in its hands. The woman's slick black suit reminded her of Gwaine's uniform. Imperial Intelligence on Rishi? What were they doing here?
The Chiss seemed to sense Teizi's gaze and turned to stare directly at the Jedi. She blinked once, then she and the man moved as one into one of the market's twisted alleys, promptly disappearing from sight. Teizi was at a loss. Technically Rishi was a neutral world, so the mere presence of Imperial Intelligence wasn't illegal or really all that surprising, but she was concerned to see them so close in proximity to their people. Had they been following Master Visper...or Lana?
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2023 5:28 pm
The Agent and Vector Hyllus
She was furious. Her energy crackled and snapped its teeth at everything around her. It was unsettling. And a little endearing, considering the source. Though, he supposed, having one's cover blown was a rather large faux pas in the intelligence business.
"Kaliyo." The Agent's voice was sharp as she spoke into her communicator. "I need you to do some slicing. Volent is here and I want to know what they are doing here. Everything, Kaliyo."
Her finger snapped against the comm and severed the link. They were circling around, he realized now. She had them moving to where they could access the rear of Frenka's cafe.
"What has piqued your concern?"
She glanced in his direction, likely in response to his word choice - accurate as it was. There was a moment of silence before she replied.
"A company like Volent doesn't do anything for free. Yet, here they are offering aid. No talk of repayment. No media. Something doesn't feel right."
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2023 6:44 pm
Aboard The Volent Ship/The Market
While Kaliyo was slicing Volent, Volent was doing some slicing of their own. In fact, as soon as Kaliyo hacked into their comms, she would hear the sound of someone else's comms being recorded by the skeleton crew on the Volent ship.
The communication began with a burst of colorful profanity. Then, "She sliced us! That b--[a burst of static] fu-- [another burst of static] sliced us! Shut it down! Shut it down!"
The signal wobbled, almost dropped but didn't quite break off. For awhile, the words were unintelligible over the feed.
"Location confirmed. The spy is in the Evocii market. Send the team to retrieve her."
Then, finally, silence.
Master Mona Pell looked back and forth with confusion for a moment. More Jedi and Sith fraternizing?
But she had bigger problems than hunting down and confronting every random Sith in the galaxy. Yes, the woman at Visper's side was a user of the Dark Side of the Force, but seemingly not a virulent one. Visper could handle it. This wasn't the disturbance she had felt.
Nor was the Pureblood, Pyrran. His Twi'lek partner had emerged from the shadows as they had made their way to the market - it seemed she'd imagined Mona didn't realize she was there? - and had joined the group casually, as though she belonged there. To Mona's surprise, the Sith lord had made no objection to the Twi'lek's impudent presumption. Quite the contrary. Mona noted the way the Twi'lek rested a hand comfortably on the small of the Sith's back, and the look he gave her in return. Pyrran was totally infatuated. Interesting. But also not the reason Mona had felt drawn so strongly to this place.
In fact, she still couldn't identify what had. That fact alone made her extremely alarmed.
Master Pell made a decision. "Excuse me. I must confer with the Council. In the meantime, Teizi, I authorize you to act in my stead."
Without waiting for a response, the Master made her way to her ship.
Within moments of the confirmation being communicated, a team of SIS agents were covertly scouring the market.
"I see her," one of them whispered under his breath, then went on comms. "I got a lock on the target. We're taking her down. Quick and quiet."
The unloading of crates of donated Volent supplies proceeded at an efficient pace.
But then suddenly, when no one was quite looking, the SIS agents were gone... as was Gina Valli.
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Sun Nov 26, 2023 5:50 pm
The Volent Operatives - Rishi
It didn't take the other Volent operatives long to notice what had happened - or to figure out why. The two watched impassively for a moment, then stepped away to confer out of earshot.
"They got her," the blond one said. "SIS. They must have figured out that she sliced them."
The brown haired one concurred with a nod, but said nothing more.
"They'll torture her."
"What if she talks?"
"Not going to happen. She won't. She can't. Not unless the neural network breaks down."
"Are you so sure that won't happen?"
Then, "We need to get her back."
"And then what? She's compromised now."
"Then we kill her. Blaster to the head, quick and quiet."
"Won't Volent raise a fuss about that?"
"You think they'd rather have SIS do it? And have remains to autopsy? Can you even imagine what they would do if they found...?"
"That can't happen. We'll get her back. Do it ourselves. And when we dispose of the body, we'll make sure there's absolutely nothing left to find."
Re: Corporate Affairs
Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2023 3:46 pm
The Agent and Vector Hyllus
"Look out you two! You've been spotted!" Kaliyo's voice fairly exploded in their comm link. He grabbed his ear, but the Agent merely twitched her eye as she sidestepped a market stall and turned to survey the alley from all angles. No one was paying them any mind, well, any more mind than usual. Obviously, whatever intel their Rattataki friend had sliced into wasn't solid.
"We're fine Kaliyo. What did you hear?" The Agent's voice held notes of caution underneath the annoyance.
"That they'd spotted 'the spy' in the Evocii Market and..."
The Agent silenced the comm and picked up her pace through the market. What Kaliyo didn't know was that there was definitely more than one 'spy' in said market. Frenka? But she was out of the game... Of course, the past did have a way of catching up with people, especially spies. They rounded a corner and faced the open square. Not quite to Frenka's booth, but clearly the Agent wanted a visual confirmation of the grounds - and their friend.
The crates from Volent were scattered around, people milling about looking busy. More importantly, Frenka was visible and appeared unharmed. Then which spy could Kaliyo's comm have been referring to?
Suddenly, the Agent stepped out into the square, raising her hand in a friendly wave. This was...unexpected. He hurried to catch up, eyeing the soldier and multiple Jedi and Sith visible from their position. Why had she left cover at this precise moment? He recovered himself and focused on the Rattataki.
"Frenka. It is good to see you." she said, loud enough for her to hear despite the distance they were closing.
The warmth in her voice was unmistakable. Well, perhaps only to himself and a handful of others. The Agent always sounded like she was making statements, even when she felt deep emotion. She smiled pleasantly enough, showing teeth. If he was not mistaken, she was purposely ignoring the other women near Frenka. Perhaps she was hoping to establish their connection as important or perhaps she was showing the Force users that she wasn't awed by their presence. Either way, they would soon see what sort of result her action would bring about.