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Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Thu May 23, 2024 5:39 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Gina Valli

"I don't know if there are others," Gina said honestly. "I was the first prototype. There were going to be more, but I don't know if they were finished yet. They were going to start with a handful of us. Make sure we were functional. Make sure we were... controllable. They didn't bother differentiating us - we were just a proof of concept, I guess you could say. Once they were sure the technology worked, they were going to start locating buyers. That's when production would ramp up. It would always be a slow process - we're neither quick nor cheap to make. But for the right buyer... the possibilities are endless. Not just identical clones, when the time came - any appearance the purchaser desired, to serve any function."

Her voice sounded hollow, and slightly strained. Talking about herself and others like her as mere merchandise took a toll.

"I am... so grateful for your willingness to help me. Frankly, I'm surprised. I expected you would see me as just another piece of useful technology, not..."

Not a person in her own right. But she didn't say that. She didn't want to squander their goodwill with demands and pretensions.

"I must warn you, Volent does not cede their property easily. They won't give up on this project without a fight. There's too much money in it for them."

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Thu May 23, 2024 7:54 pm
by Quaxo9
The Agent

I received a message that an appointment had been made with one Dr. Lars Valli. At least Lorkin had understood the assignment. Whether or not Valli knew I would be attending, well, I hadn't quite made up my mind on that.

The company seemed to be simply that - a company. Not the grandiose philanthropic problem-solvers their numerous ads claimed. They were simply a business. Which meant it wouldn't be personal when I sliced them to find out what their 'special projects' might be. To do that, I would absolutely need to be inside. Their security was impeccable. I could have been impressed.

So who was Gina, then? There was no mention of Dr. Valli having family, but perhaps the company did not feel that their researchers having families would be helpful to their image. I looked at his face, trying to judge if he bore a resemblance to the woman I had really only seen on a holo screen. Perhaps another look would help. Besides, I needed to find out when we would be getting back to Rishi. There was something about this body double that was bothering me.

I left the cargo area, with the intention of seeing Gina Valli, but muted my pace by keeping my holoscreen up as I walked. Voices in the medbay. I walked past the door and cast a discreet glance inside. The two Jedi were in there with her - one at her side, apparently comforting her - the other...I couldn't read her body language. Jedi could be difficult that way. No matter. There were other ways to find out what they wanted from Gina Valli.

Lana was, as I expected, at the helm of her own vessel. Unfortunately, so was the SIS agent. I came to the conclusion that the Jedi would likely tell him what he wanted to know, so if he happened to hear it from elsewhere, it wouldn't be catastrophic to the mission. I stood to the Sith's left, still reading from my holopad - mostly insipid grey reports now - and spoke casually.

"There is an interesting conversation going on in your medical bay. I think it would be beneficial to be part of it."

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Mon May 27, 2024 5:32 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Lana Beniko and Theron Shan

Lana raised an eyebrow at the agent's suggestion, but Theron waved them off.

"You two go," he said. "I've got the helm."

"You're showing an uncharacteristic lack of nosiness," Lana commented drily. "You truly intend to let a conversation pass without butting in?"

Theron reddened slightly. "In this case, yeah. Gina... she's pretty uncomfortable with me, for obvious reasons. I'm going to keep my distance for awhile, so I don't stress her out. But don't get used to it. I'll be as nosey as usual next time the opportunity arises."

A small smile creased Lana's lips. "Very well. I'll count on it. In the meantime..."

"I know where Rishi is."

"And my ship...?"

"Will stay in one piece."


"Without a scratch, ma'am, your Sithness."

Lana rolled her eyes good-naturedly and followed the agent to the med bay. "What do you have in mind?" she asked. "Just pop in and join their chat?"

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2024 12:31 pm
by Quaxo9
the Agent

"I think we must, though going in with some prior information would be helpful. I assume you have recording devices in your medbay."

There were on my ship, at least. In fact, I had cameras and bugs planted everywhere - even in my own quarters. One could never be too careful. If someone on my crew accessed my personal space, I wanted to know who, when and why. It was easier to get this information when one had irrefutable proof to present to the guilty party.

"Dr. Lars Valli is a high-ranking scientist with Volent, yet I could find no information on his family. I cannot determine his relationship with this Gina - if there is one. I find her presence here - and the presence of her 'twin' on Rishi moments after she left the planet herself to be...suspicious. There is something about her that is not quite right."

I paused, then decided I should explain why I wanted to glimpse into the past. "I believe she may have confided in the Jedi. If so, I would like to know if the story remains the same when told to us. Volent has its fingers in too many Republic pies to simply take her words at face value."

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Fri Jun 07, 2024 6:32 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Lana Beniko

"Yes, of course the entire ship is bugged," Lana replied casually. "I think your plan is a good one. Pulling the recording is simple enough. But I would offer one... caution, I suppose. It is highly unlikely that Gina will speak to us as openly as she is to the Jedi - unless you're planning to go in there and take Visper's place in the cuddling? That isn't my particular interrogation strategy, anyway..."

A hint of an upturn at one corner of her mouth, indicating she wasn't entirely serious in the making of the point - although the point itself stood.

"She also may have a certain level of caution about Imperials. Especially a Sith. She may take it as self-preservation to deceive us. We should keep an open mind about her reasons - if indeed there are reasons at all."

They stepped into Lana's small office space, and Lana played the tape back on the security console.

When they had finished, Lana was rather wide-eyed. "We cannot allow this technology to continue to be replicated," she said firmly. "Not in Republic hands, or for Volent's profit... and not in the hands of the Empire, either. Some short-sighted Imperials would see gain in it, but all it takes is one lucky reverse-engineering, and it's turned against us. We have to nip this in the bud."

And, Lana thought, although she didn't say it - they needed to save and protect the Ginas. Perhaps it was unconventional for a Sith. Blame it on the Force, or a capricious moment of her own - but what had been done to these women in the name of corporate profit could not be allowed to stand.

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2024 6:54 pm
by Quaxo9
The Agent

Once again she caught me off-guard with her genuine, inoffensive humour. Most of the Sith I had met only found humour in pain. It was...strange. It also didn't escape my notice that she was on a first-name basis with the Jedi and seemed very comfortable with that. Of course, not many Sith asked people to refer to them by their actual name, either. But, as interesting as Lana Beniko was, I did need to focus on other priorities.

I hadn't responded to the non-question with any outward emotion, but the points that followed did amuse me. I decided to adopt a similar banter, and mirrored the curve of her mouth as I spoke.

"Why, I can't imagine what you mean. Everyone seems to be dying to talk to me."

All hints of amusement fell away as we watched the security tape. An army of pre-made spies controlled by the highest bidder. The breath caught in my throat and I fought to control my suddenly pounding heart. The memory of being trapped in my own mind, incapable of acting on my own desires. Of even speaking the simplest of sentences. The look on Vector's face when the programming forced me to lie to him and he turned away, dejected. Rejected. My breath returned in a rush and I realized I was light-headed and likely flushed. Embarrassing, but salvageable.

"I agree that this technology should be buried with extreme prejudice. While I can see why the Republic may wish to replace the SIS with something more efficient, this can only lead to trouble for both sides." I paused, then decided to press further. We needed solutions. "I have an in with Dr. Valli. Stopping this project can happen sooner than later. Do you think Gina would aid an assault on her former master? She seems anti-Volent now...but how deep does her programming go?"

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2024 5:58 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Lana Beniko

Lana nodded approvingly when the Agent mentioned her in with Lars Valli. That was the logical next step for their mission, the only likely source of real information that wasn't spun through endless marketing teams and holonet sales pitches. She frowned, however, when the Agent suggested bringing Gina into it.

Because... Lana didn't want to.

She scrambled for other reasons. Logical justifications. Counterarguments. Her gut had to be clenching because it was a bad idea for some practical reason. Didn't it? It couldn't simply be that when she pictured that battered, tormented, haunted figure huddled on the hospital bed, she couldn't imagine asking her to face the lion's den again...

"The kolto and bacta didn't work on her," Lana said after a slightly-too-long pause. "She's in very rough shape. She won't be able to move fast, and the bruises will take time to fade. We can't just ask her to waltz into Volent, and--"

Belatedly, her mind seized on another excuse, one the Agent had just handed her.

"And who knows how deep the conditioning goes, as you say? We may not know the full answer to that for years. Wouldn't it be better for her to be on some peaceful planet, out of harm's way..."

No, that wasn't what she'd meant to say.

"Out of our way," Lana correctly smoothly, and stared at the Agent coolly as if the whole thing made little difference to her either way.

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Sun Jun 23, 2024 5:06 pm
by Quaxo9
The Agent

I watched the Sith wrestle with something inside her. Interesting. She obviously cared about Gina, but was doing her best to dissuade me from knowing this. Or perhaps this was what she was wrestling with. She didn't want to know this either. A Sith hiding her feelings. I thought they were supposed to embrace those for the sake of power or some such thing. My orders to surveil were not entirely unfounded.

"I agree that she should stay out of our way. The help I was hoping for was more in terms of access codes. I would prefer to slice Volent as efficiently as possible."

I paused to consider something that Gina's explanation brought to light.

"The second Gina on really a second Gina. A second prototype. We're going to need to neutralize her link to Volent before she finds out that this Gina has been compromised. Perhaps you could talk too your Jedi friend, Siralai. She is the one who informed me, but I think she is...unsure of my intentions."

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2024 5:34 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Lana Beniko and Siralai Mahr

Lana showed no surprise at this last statement. "I think you'll find Siralai surprisingly... openminded," she said candidly. "But you're right, she doesn't know you."

Neither did Lana, for that matter. Nor was she confident of the Agent's intentions. For the moment, their interests seemed to align. And in the abstract, they both believed in the good of the Empire. Lana had found that when it came down to the practical, though, she sometimes had significant disagreements with others about what 'the good of the Empire' entailed.

Lana also had to admit that she had interests here besides just the Empire. She had her friends, of course. But that wasn't all. She also found herself concerned about Gina - not as an asset to leverage, but as a person in need of compassion. That, she certainly wasn't going to tell the Agent. While Sith used their emotions to fuel their use of the Force, compassion wasn't usually what they had in mind.

Well, she thought with a hint of fondness, Siralai would advocate for exactly that, and had done. Scholars might debate if the Grey Jedi existed, but if so, Siralai truly was one, in her appreciation of both Jedi and Sith. That, however, was certainly unusual on both sides.

"I'll ask her to join us," Lana added. "She may have news."

Siralai did indeed have news. She was clearly still cautious with the Agent, but was relaxed with Lana, and was willing to give a capsule overview of what Neva had reported from Rishi.

"So it appears the other Gina is free," Siralai concluded. "And Neva said she's excited to meet with her counterpart. We should be landing on Rishi soon, and she'll get her chance."

There was something else on Siralai's mind, but she wasn't sure she wanted to say it until she and Lana were alone. It was likely Rishi wouldn't be safe for them for long. They had attracted too much attention, and it was too much of a convergence point for people from all directions. They needed somewhere remote to regroup and plan their next moves in peace. Somewhere safe. She had an idea in mind...

Re: Corporate Affairs

Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2024 6:17 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Siralai Mahr

The change of plans came to fruition sooner than Siralai had expected. Just as she was resolving to discuss their next course of action with Lana, Theron's voice came over the ship's comms.

"Uh, we... have a problem."

"Don't tell me you couldn't find Rishi?" Lana quipped, but her mouth pursed slightly with concern.

"Rishi? I thought you said Mek-Sha. But uh, yeah, seriously... we're in orbit around Rishi. We have our clearance to land. But I just got word that there are currently eight Volent ships at the spaceport. The place has to be crawling with their operatives. There's no way we're going to be able to slip Gina through, not with that many of them, and a shootout would be... ill-advised. The Republic definitely won't have our back on this one if we get into a firefight with their new corporate best friend on a neutral world."

"Okay," Siralai said. She drew in a breath. She should have been frightened, but she wasn't. She felt calm. Prepared. The Force had been leading her to this, slowing drawing her toward a new home - and now things were happening quickly. It was time. "Land the ship. Anyone who needs to be on Rishi can disembark. I would strongly recommend that Gina stay on board. Once we've unloaded anyone who has business planetside, the ship will take off again."

"And where are we going?" Lana asked - apparently more willing to let Siralai direct her ship than Theron... or at least less inclined to give Siralai a hard time about it.

"Odessen," Siralai replied.

That was it. That was where she was being drawn. The place where the Force was in perfectly in balance, swayed neither to Light nor Dark. Perhaps where someone like her - one who had loved both Jedi and Sith - had always belonged.

She pulled out her personal holocom, and placed a call to Neva. "Hey, I can't explain now, but we need to move quickly and quietly off this planet. It's not safe here anymore, for any of us. Can you start getting everyone ready? I'll meet you soon and help. I'll tell you everything later, but this has to happen fast. We're going to Odessen."