Perception

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Perception

Post by Pryde » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:41 pm

"I would like to inspect the goods," the sour faced human said with a growl.

"Marlowe, you wound me," Kara Thrace replied, "You think I'd actually deliver you damaged goods?"

"No, I think you would steal from me," the man answered and his two Barabel body guards aimed their weapons at her in response.

Kara sighed then uncuffed her arm from the durasteel case she carried and handed it to him. "I'm just the delivery girl, Marlowe, wouldn't know what to do with this thing even if I had considered stealing it. Don't even have a clue what it is."

Marlowe lifted the case and opened it. He picked up the small gem that was placed carefully inside and held it between two fingers, inspecting it carefully. Finally he nodded before placing the gem back in the case and then glancing over at one of his goons. "Her payment," he said.

The barabel stepped forward and handed her a briefcase filled with credits. Kara was about to reach for it when the Bantha poodoo suddenly hit the fan. An explosion rocked the abandon industrial complex they were standing in and the sound of blasterfire could be heard near the entrance. More shouts followed as Marlowe's men responded to this sudden turn of events. Kara, however, grabbed the case containing her payment and took off towards the other end of the facility. By the time Marlowe had realized what was happening and turned to accuse her of betraying him she was already long gone. Republic soldiers easily subdued his men and Marlowe found himself handcuffed and relieved of the gem he had just paid top dollar to secure.

A moment or two later a woman approached him and Marlowe growled. "You lot have no right to detain me," he shouted, "I am a legitimate businessman and you idiots just inerrupted a very important deal."

"Agent Hawker," one of the soldiers said suddenly, handing the woman the case containing the gem.

Special Agent Jennie Hawker of the New Republic Intelligence Agency opened the case and glanced at the gem.

"That's mine," Marlowe told them, "I paid good money for it."

"To whom," Jennie asked, "I'd very much like to know. This data crystal was part of a top secret project. How'd a low life thug like you find out about it?"

She gave him a sharp look and Marlowe bit his lip nervously. "Put him in the transport with the others. My superiors will want to speak with him," Jennie continued and Marlowe was immediately carted off with all the rest. Then she turned to the New Republic Captain standing next to her. "Run a sweep through the entire facility and see what you can find. Any evidence is to be reported to me immediately do not have your men--,"

"Agent," a second man interrupted her. He was busy tapping into the facility's security feeds. Most of the cameras in this area had been disabled but he did find one with a view of the buy as it was going down. "Look at this."

He held his datapad up so that Jennie could see. She saw four distant figures standing together on the other side of some machinery. Marlowe and his Barabels were easy to make out but who was the fourth? "Zoom in on her," Jennie instructed and the man did as she asked.

From this angle they could only see the back of her head but as the seconds ticked away something happened to draw the attention of all four of them. The mysterious woman turned to look and Jennie held her breath. It's her.

"Erase this footage," she said finally and the man just gave her a surprised look.

"Do it," the captain ordered and the man finally complied.

Jennie meanwhile had stepped away from both of them and dug out her communicator from her pocket. She flipped the device on and a moment later the pale blue form of Adrian Sinclair appeared in front of her. "I trust the operation went off without a hitch," Adrian said and Jennie nodded.

"Marlowe and his men are in custody but Adrian there's something you and the Director should know."

Adrian immediately had a guarded look on his face. "And that would be?"

"The smuggler Kara Thrace was her. I'm confident she was the one who procured the crystal and delivered it to Marlowe."

Adrian carefully considered that. "That answers some of our questions but not all of them, Agent. Neither Thrace nor Marlowe should have known of the existence of this project so how did they find out about it? I'm putting you in charge of the investigation. Track down Thrace and find out what she knows. In the meantime I'll inform the Director of what you just told me."

"Yes, Sir," Jennie replied and she reached out one hand to turn off the device when Adrian stopped her.

"Jennie," he said, causing her hand to freeze in place, "Don't underestimate Kara Thrace. She's dangerous. We need her alive because we need to know what's in her head but don't take any foolish risks. If it comes down to you making a choice that could very well affect your chances of survival you shoot to kill, alright? The well-being of my agents is more important to me than the capture of Kara Thrace."

"I understand, Sir," Jennie replied and then she flipped off her communicator and slid the device back into her pocket. Something bothered her about that exchange. Adrian seemed unusually concerned about her, maybe even frightened. Was Kara Thrace really that good? How could a smuggler match up to the best and brightest of the New Republic intelligence community? There was something else going on here, something Adrian wasn't telling her. Just who exactly was Kara Thrace?

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Re: Perception

Post by Pryde » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:03 am

Kara resisted the urge to swear under her breath as she observed her ship from a distance. Through a pair of macro binoculars she could see the figures of several Republic agents swarming all over her ship. Nimbus was still on board when she left it but she wasn't worried about that little droid, he had a number of tricks up his proverbial sleeve and could easily give some Republic foot soldiers the slip. The problem she worried about most was getting to her ship so that she could leave this place. She reached up slowly to zoom in further when a sound caught her attention.

"How'd you know to find me here," she asked of no one in particular.

"I trained you, remember," Adrian Sinclair said, stepping forward, "Your habits are my habits, they're pretty easy to predict."

Kara lowered the binoculars and stood to face her former handler. "Your little stunt at the warehouse came this close to catching me."

"I knew you could get out," he said, "Couldn't risk the buyer getting away with the crystal."

"Speaking of, the man was a third party. He wasn't the target."

Adrian frowned. "I figured as much," he admitted, "We're still looking over his file but he doesn't have the connections to cause a leak of this magnitude."

"So what's our play now?"

The older man smiled, "You're going to steal the crystal again."

"Again?" Kara said, raising an eyebrow.

"Whomever wanted it went through a lot of trouble to obtain it. They hired professional help and even somehow managed to cover it up. Either the person we're dealing with is a pro themselves or they have a lot of pull. Now you know the score here, the NRI can't investigate their own people that's why we need you. Get the crystal and make sure they know you have it. I'm sure as soon as they find out they'll make another play for it and that will be your chance. You can figure out the rest from there."

"You make it sound so easy," Kara joked, "All I gotta do is outsmart your little rising star."

"Jennie is currently being distracted by another assignment."

"And I assume this has something to do with it," she asked, gesturing towards the star port where her ship was currently located.

Adrian nodded, "She's tying up a good chunk of her resources trying to keep you grounded. That's going to be your opportunity. Get in, get the crystal and get out."

"Got it," Kara said and then she turned and started to leave. Before she even made it three steps, however, Adrian reached out and put a hand on her shoulder.

"Be careful, Kara, I ordered my agents to kill you if necessary. The blowback from this op can't fall back on us, you understand?"

"I'm a big girl, Adrian," she assured him, "If I couldn't take it I wouldn't have signed up for this gig."

Then she turned and walked away. Adrian followed her with his eyes until she was out of sight then he turned to look down upon Kara's ship. Kara truly was the best agent he had ever trained but Jennie was no slouch, either. Pitting the two of them against each other was a risk, but considering the potential damage caused by this leak he had no other choice. He just hoped Kara still had what it took to outsmart the NRI's top agent...

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Re: Perception

Post by Archangel » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:33 am

Green eyes glided over the patrons of the cantina. Those eyes had seen more life, more death, and more secrets than most, and those experiences had compelled Cale Qualto into retirement. After his last job, on the Pursuance, Cale had ended up on Corellia, where he had taken a dingy room in a rundown dive under the name Finner Lausung. On some level, he had always intended to take another job, but after a few months, he quit looking. He managed his bills--at the dive hotel, called the Glitchy Dejarik, and the dive bar in its basement--by doing odd jobs for the owner, a Gran named Tufar. Sometimes that meant dumping an unruly patron on the street--sometimes it meant dumping an angry creditor in a field outside the city. Cale stayed under CorSec's radar; most of his targets had so many enemies, the police didn't have the resources to narrow the list.

He had not always killed for hire. Once, long ago, he had assassinated the leaders of Rebel cells--and after that, the ringleaders of a dozen Imperial mutinies. He had learned how to avoid local authorities. Of course, those kills had been sanctioned by Imperial Intelligence, but that didn't prevent sovereign worlds--or even the Imperial Security Bureau, in all its pomp--from investigating his work as murders. CorSec was the most successful local law enforcement in the Galaxy, by Cale's estimation--but even they were unwilling, or unable, to investigate the deaths of crooks and crime lords, especially when they had been expertly eliminated by a one-time Storm Commando and Imperial Intelligence officer. There were far more important crimes to solve than gang wars and criminal feuds.

He spent his days in the bar, and his nights in his room, and he was always alone. Things were safer that way--if not for him, then for whoever might have accompanied him. He had heard that the Imperial Security Bureau had been disbanded, then reformed--or maybe not--but he knew that they had a file on him that could fill three datapads, and they wouldn't mind seeing him dead. New Republic Intelligence, as oxymoronic as that sounded to him, had no love for him, either, and he was living on New Republic soil. Perhaps most daunting of all, though, was his knowledge that Imperial Intelligence was still out there, and that someone with his old job was out looking for him--when he cut ties at Talasea, he lost whatever friends he had left at I.I., and his elimination was high-priority.

In the years since his last appearance in the HoloNet as Cale Qualto, the former spy had darkened in his complexion and grayed in his hair. He grew a beard, which was streaked with the same gray as his short hair, though both had once been ebon. He slept rarely, and lightly; training and experience kept the dark circles from his eyes, but sleep deprivation took its toll over time. Especially once he downed a cheap Corellian whiskey, seeing ghosts was a nightly affair. He tried not to listen to them, and he never conversed with them--he was too professional for that--but with every passing day, a little bit more of his past boiled up to the surface, and challenged him.

He kept up his physical health; he carried a hold-out up his sleeve and a knife in his boot; and when he could sleep, he did so with a gun under his pillow--waiting for the day when one of those ghosts was a little more corporeal than he liked.

Now, his green eyes were surveying the cantina, which was unusually full. He kept a bead on the exits, and he evaluated the other patrons for their viability as operatives. He sipped at his cheap whiskey as a HoloNet news story came on the terminal over the bar: an illegal arms trade, or something like that, had gone south on the other side of the city--looked like the warehouse district. CorSec and the NRI had broken it up and arrested the interested parties. It was a non-event, as far as Cale was concerned; the NRI's presence on Corellia was not a surprise, but they weren't looking for him; plus, that CorSec would break up an arms deal was about as surprising as finding silver grass on Kinyen.

"Can I buy you a drink?" a woman asked as she sat down at the bar next to him. She was a Theelin, with short horns extending from the side of her head and a thick mane of purple hair cascading down her low-cut outfit, revealing pale flesh. She smiled seductively as she settled onto her barstool.

A few years earlier, Cale might have flirted with her, even slept with her, but his time as a carefree pirate was over; his past was catching up with him, even if only in his head. "No," he answered, returning to his glass.

She leaned in close, put a hand on his shoulder. "Can I find out your name, at least?" she purred.

Cale was having none of it. "No," he answered as curtly as before. He did not turn to face her, but his hand twitched, itching to draw his hold-out blaster. Something did not feel right.

She persisted. "Aren't you Finner Lausung?" she asked.

Cale looked at her out of the corner of his eye. That was when he caught the tattoo on her right shoulder; she was an enforcer for the Skuld crime family. He lifted his glass to his lips and said softly, "It would be a shame to kill a Theelin, given your species' woes. Why don't you move along and tell Husin that you couldn't find me?"

She sneered; her veneer of seduction faded. "Husin doesn't take no for an answer." She pulled a blaster pistol and leveled it at him.

He did not move his drink. His other arm twisted around; he adjusted his wrist to extend his hold-out blaster, and he did not pause to aim before firing. The scent of burnt gases and scorched flesh filled his nostrils as the woman fell backward off her barstool. Activity in the bar came to halt as she hit the floor.

Cale, nonplussed, finished his drink, stood, and dragged the body into the back room. He would need to have a chat with Tufar about secrecy. As he walked back through the bar, the place returned to its lively discussions, ultimately undisturbed by the death of a woman in their midst. He stepped outside; it was drizzling. He turned left and headed toward Tufar's apartment.

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Re: Perception

Post by Pryde » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:50 am

It wasn't easy wandering the streets with a target on your back. Kara had kept her head down and an eye over her shoulder but that didn't settle her nerves at all, it never did. Fear was a great motivator and without the proper training that fear could turn into directionless panic. In her case, however, it just amounted to a hyper awareness of her surroundings. Things she probably wouldn't have noticed before stood out to her. A man shoplifting from a nearby merchant, two thugs following a mark down an alley, a man on a bench eyeing her over the rim of his datapad. She stopped immediately and turned to the side, watching the man's reflecting in the glass of a nearby storefront. He didn't move, he simply sat there reading and occasionally glancing her way.

She glanced left or right trying to spot any more surveillance but seeing none. Just the man on the bench. She headed inside the storefront interested to see if the man would follow her. When he did not she went all the way through the store out the back door anyway just in case. He could have been an operative or he could have been simply checking her out either way with the NRI looking for her Kara didn't want to take her chances. In the alleyway she checked her datapad, the closest CorSec officer was nearly a mile away while NRI agents were still swarming over the area around the starport. Nimbus had been keeping track of them for her and was broadcasting their positions directly to her. He had managed to make it out of the ship before they had arrived but he was still stuck in the starport as there wasn't a safe opportunity for him to leave it yet.

With half of her crew tied up at the moment she needed to find some extra hands to complete her mission. She doubted she'd find anyone on Corellia but Nimbus had discovered several news articles discussing murders that appeared to be professional hits. There were few pictures and only one recording but it was enough for her to notice something familiar about each kill. CorSec had no information on the perpetrator, however, and seemed uninterested in investigating further. That left the criminal underworld and a few questions in the proper places led to her finding out about an enforcer that operates out of a local cantina. That was where she was heading to now, a local cantina on the other side of town. It took quite a lot of time to get there considering her careful march through downtown Coronet but finding her target proved infinitely easier when she did. Almost as soon as she had entered the cantina a blaster bolt rang through the air and a Theelin at the bar slumped over. That was when she saw him, a familiar face, dragging the body out the back.

Kara kept to the darker side of the room, eyeing the patrons before following Cale to the back. It didn't seem like anyone was particularly interested in what happened and everyone appeared to be more focused on their drinks than the door through which Cale had disappeared. She took this as her opportunity to follow. Once back there she found herself in a long hallway with doors leading off to the sides. She didn't know which one Cale had gone through so she walked to the first one and opened it carefully. On the other side there was an office but no one was present, she spared a glance throughout the messy room but found nothing of note so she moved on. The next door was locked and the door beyond that led to a bathroom. When she got to the fourth door movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention and she spun around just in time to catch Cale's hold-out blaster in her hands.

A twist of his arm sent the gun clattering to the floor but Cale wasn't finished yet. A flash of steel was her only warning and she dodged to the side just as a vibroknife cut through the space she had been standing mere moments before. The two struggled for a moment before Kara found an opening and kicked him away to create some distance then she immediately held up her hands.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute," she said, "Is that how we greet old friends?"

"I don't have any friends in the NRI," he said.

Kara shrugged, "Neither do I. I'm not here for them, Cale, I'm here because I need help. A deal gone south, perhaps you've heard about it it's all over the news."

"That was yours?"

She nodded, "I expedited the object in question and the NRI broke it up. I need some help getting it back, what do you say?"

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Re: Perception

Post by Archangel » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:13 pm

Cale smirked. "I remember when reporters used to have the journalistic integrity to assume that intelligence agencies were lying to them, before reporting what they were fed," he commented, "You know they're saying you've been caught?" He shrugged and clarified, "Well, not you, but, you know, 'all parties.'" He eyed her suspiciously. "If your deal went sideways, why steal the 'object' back?"

She was predictably enigmatic. "He wasn't the big fish."

Cale shook his head knowingly. "Why should I help you, Thrace, when you won't even give me the details?"

Her expression suggested she was trying to tempt him with something. "Money?"

He frowned, shaking his head again. "Don't need any," he lied.

"Dignity?"

He narrowed his eyes. "You found me by tracking the Skuld crime family hits, didn't you?" She shrugged, which was as good as a nod to him. He laughed, "Do you really think I have any dignity left?"

"Fine," she said. Her tone was serious, suggesting that this was her final offer. "You scratch my back, I scratch yours."

He frowned again, as if mulling over a very bad taste. "Fine," he echoed. "Back me up on a conversation I need to have, watch my back when it comes to the Skulds, and I'll do what I can to get your geegaw back." He shrugged again. "Plus, depending on how the conversation goes, I might need that money after all."

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Re: Perception

Post by Pryde » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:02 am

Kara grimaced, she knew his help would almost invariably come with conditionals but she hadn't thought those conditionals would involve her going up against a crime syndicate. That explained who the Theelin was that he had shot and shed a bit of insight on what this "conversation" might be about. Either way Kara wanted no part of it but she couldn't do this job without some assistance so it didn't appear as if she had any choice.

"Alright, Cale," she said finally, "but I'd prefer we don't drop any bodies at this 'conversation.' I've got enough heat on me as is."

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Re: Perception

Post by Archangel » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:03 pm

[OOC: Sorry for the late reply. Road trip.]

Cale shrugged noncommittally. "I'll see what I can do, but you know me - I don't make promises in that department." He jerked his head toward Tufar's place. "Lead the way."

She frowned. "Don't trust me?"

The former soldier smiled humorlessly. "I haven't lived all these years by trusting every enemy agent who pops into my life wanting a favor. Not that it happens all that often." He jerked his head again, and as she stepped out in front of him, he sheathed his knife and retrieved his hold-out, then followed.

It was not a long walk. Cale gave directions as they passed through the busy streets. "Left ahead," or, "Take the next alleyway." After ten minutes, the two spies were well away from the dead Theelin and the inevitable CorSec presence. Since Tufar owned the bar, though, Cale knew that the cops would check with him first, so they had little time. When they reached the apartment complex, the Mantooinian did not bother to ring the bell, but a quick slice of the security system granted them access. They took the turbolift to the top level; Cale stayed warily behind Kara, as usual.

Her presence, as he had anticipated, had the added bonus of distracting Tufar when the doors opened. The three-eyed creature turned at the sound. "Bayyaaa!" he greeted the woman, whom he likely beheld as attractive. For a Gran, Tufar had peculiar tastes. His throaty glee turned to a shriek when Cale stepped past the smuggler, blaster raised. Cale did not hesitate; he fired, catching the fleeing alien in the leg.

Kara grabbed his shoulder and wrenched him back. "What did I just say?"

Cale gestured incredulously at Tufar, genuine confusion on his face. "Does he look dead?" he demanded. "Take it easy, Thrace! I need answers, and as they say here on Corellia, dead men tell no tales." He freed himself from her grip, straightened his shirt, and marched over to Tufar. The Gran was whimpering as he tried to crawl away. Unlike his people, who were generally pacifist, the slumlord-meets-barkeep was mostly just a coward. Cale grabbed an ear and wrenched it. "What did you get for selling me out, Tufar? After everyone I've put down to keep you in business, after all the Skuld enforcers I've dropped, did you really think that one goat-faced succubus would be enough to keep me from coming after you?"

"Please, Cale!" the Gran moaned, "I knew she'd fail! That's why I told them where to find you! I knew you'd be alright!"

Cale sneered. "You're not smart enough to play that kind of a game, Tufar. What did they offer you? An end to your debts? Or more--cash on delivery of the man slaughtering their toughs?"

Tufar whined, "They cleared my debts and raised me ten thousand credits! Up front! I swear I wouldn't have told them if I thought you'd get hurt! We're old friends, you and I!"

"Hardly." Cale spat onto the other's back. "I'll make you a deal, Tufar. You call Husin up, you tell him that I contacted you after the hit went south. I told you that the Skulds were wise to me, that I'd taken the hint, and that I was about to board a ship for someplace really awful--Tatooine or some drok like that. Get me?" Tufar did not immediately reply, so Cale reached down and pulled hard on both ears. "Get me?"

"I got it! I got it! You hauled jets! I got it!"

"Good." Cale released the creature. "And you tell the cops the same thing." He went back to the turbolift and stepped inside; Kara joined him. As the doors closed, he yelled out angrily, "And if I ever see you again, I'll make sure you die seeing things like the rest of us!"

The doors closed, the lift dinged, and Cale turned to Kara, his expression unsure. "Was that too much?" he asked calmly, "I feel like the spitting was too much."

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Re: Perception

Post by Pryde » Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:26 pm

Kara shrugged. "Seemed like enough to me," she said, "but something's bothering me."

She didn't immediately explain what and after a few seconds of silence Cale leveled her with a look. "Are you going to share with the rest of the class?"

Kara glanced down at the lobby through the glass tube of the lift before suddenly she reached out and hit the emergency stop. The elevator ground to a halt several floors above the lobby and the smuggler turned and began to pry open the doors. Cale just watched her for a second before his instincts also started to kick in.

"Call it a hunch," she said between gritted teeth with a strained voice, "but these Skuld guys contacted Tulfar directly."

Finally she managed to pry the door open and exit the lift, having to climb up and shimmy her way out. Then she turned around and offered to help Cale up as well. "So it stands to reason they know where he lives," she continued as she reached her hand down towards him, "and they could be watching the place."

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Re: Perception

Post by Archangel » Sat Jul 19, 2014 7:26 pm

As if on cue, they heard shouts from the lobby below, echoing up the turbolift shaft.

"What's going on? Why isn't the lift here yet?"

"It's stopped! Somebody must be getting out on the fourth floor!"

"C'mon!"

Cale did not take the proffered help, but hoisted himself up and onto the floor above, next to Kara. The two of them gained their feet and looked around for an exit. There were several windows big enough, but a four-storey drop was not an enticing prospect. They could take the stairs up, and risk being noticed by the Skuld thugs below. They could search for a different set of stairs, but that might take too long--or even be fruitless, which would put them back where they started. They could also hide in an apartment and try to avoid notice long enough to slip out past the thugs--possible, but even a few stupid criminals ought to be smart enough to leave somebody in the lobby.

They could hear the hitmen charging up the stairs; they probably had thirty seconds.

"Any ideas?" Kara asked.

"Depends," Cale answered, quickly checking the charge on his hold-out blaster. He silently cursed that he did not have any heavier weaponry, but hiding rifles and slugthrowers on Corellia was easier with a crate than an overcoat. "How much wiggle room is there in this no-body-dropping policy of yours?"

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Re: Perception

Post by Pryde » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:57 pm

Kara frowned, the last thing she needed was a double homicide that would draw the attention of the NRI. Looking around for anything they could use she spotted a man and a woman coming out of their room just a short distance down the hallway. "Come on," she said, drawing her pistol.

Cale was a bit confused about what she had planned but with nothing else better to do he followed her anyway. The couple coming out of their room were startled when Kara suddenly thrust a blaster in their faces. "Inside now," she ordered them.

In a panic and blubbering like a couple of scared children the two obeyed them and opened the door to their room. Once inside Kara ordered them to hide in the closet. "You stay in here and wait twenty minutes then come out," she told them and then she dropped a large sum of credits into the palm of the male. "After this is over you never saw us, understood?"

The man nodded emphatically and climbed into the closet with his girlfriend.

"I hate to rain on your parade but how does this help us get out," Cale asked.

Kara meanwhile was tossing the man's clothes onto the bed, looking at them and at Cale critically. "Not exactly your style but they look like they should fit," she said then she turned and wandered into the bathroom.

"I'll act as a decoy and give you an opportunity to slip away. Once you're free you meet me at this address." Cale's communicator beeped almost in time with her words and he quickly glanced at it. As he did so she came out of the bathroom wearing nothing but a towel over her body, her hair damp from being soaked. "Well, wish me luck," she said then she slipped out of the room.

Once outside she waited around a corner until the two Skuld thugs mounted the top of the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were heading in her direction and as soon as they were close enough she came around the corner and ran right smack into one of them. "Oh, I am so sorry," she apologized, "I didn't even see you there."

The two thugs immediately hid their guns from view. One of them was holding onto Kara's bare shoulder while the other was scanning the hallway. "You should watch where you're going, Miss," the larger one standing next to Kara said, "Wouldn't want you getting hurt."

There was a hint of something in his voice but Kara pretended to ignore it. "Ooh, those are some big muscles. Are you boys here alone?"

"He's not here," the other whispered to his friend.

"We'll find him," the first replied then he turned to Kara who was busy admiring his muscles with both hands. "We gotta go," he told her.

"What? So soon," she asked, "but we've only just met."

He tried to move past her and Kara made a move to intercept that ended up with her falling into him again. "Ow," she cried, "I--I think I twisted my ankle."

"Get off me you crazy...," he started then he stopped himself, "Look, let go of me, alright? We're busy here."

"But, I can't walk like this," Kara pleaded with them, "At least carry me to my room."

The shorter one looked impatient and he turned back to his friend. "We don't have time for this."

The large one just looked at him helplessly and at that moment Kara caught a glimpse of Cale slipping away. "Fine," she said suddenly, at last letting go of the big man and then leaning herself against the wall. "I'll hobble there myself. Guess it's true what they say, chivalry really is dead."

The large one gave her a sympathetic look but at the urging of his partner the two hurried down the hallway searching for Cale. Kara watched them go for a moment before returning to the room to grab her clothes. This whole endeavor was a lot more work than she anticipated. She just hoped that Cale's issues with the Skuld's wouldn't come back and haunt them later. The mission she'd been given by Republic Intelligence was already standing on shaky ground as it was. It would be difficult to dodge bullets from the buyer, the Skulds and Republic Agents as well.

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Re: Perception

Post by Archangel » Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:30 am

Kara had not changed much, Cale noted. Her plan was his best bet, though, so he went along with it. After she slipped out of the room, he quickly changed clothes, donning the slacks, blue shirt, and black overcoat Kara had found. The coat felt warm, but it would help hide his identity, so he kept it on. He stuffed his own clothes down the trash chute; they were hardly sentimental. He pulled his own boots back on, complete with knife sheath, and slipped his hold-out blaster into a pocket. Then he cracked the door open, watching the thugs storm by. They were checking corners and shadows, but not individual rooms; more was the pity for them. When Kara stumbled into them, Cale was about to move, but hesitated; the thugs scoured the hallway again, probably suspecting treachery. They weren't completely stupid, apparently. When they returned their attention to Kara, Cale slipped out, pulled the door until it was nearly shut--the latch clicking home might draw attention--and made his way to the stairs. He listened to Kara flirt with the thugs, then he was in the stairwell and he lost contact.

When he reached the ground level, he glanced through the window of the stairway door into the lobby. He had been right; the thugs were smart enough to leave a rearguard in the lobby. He saw a comlink in the man's hand; he was staying in contact with his compatriots, but no ear-comms meant intermittent contact. That would be good for Kara; the thugs upstairs would probably not report on her, and her voice wouldn't be familiar to this one, so she could just walk out of the building, no questions asked. He, on the other hand, was a known agent and the target of the thugs' search; there was no way he was slipping by through the lobby. He either needed to eliminate the thug or find an alternate route.

He weighed his options in frustration. Kara had insisted on keeping a low profile. Dead bodies in a place like this wouldn't normally raise a lot of red flags, but if the NRI was involved, everything would get a closer look. It was bad enough that he had winged Tufar, especially after the incident at the Gran's bar. The Theelin would link Tufar to the Skulds, and a quick investigation could link Cale to Tufar. Any security holocams in the area might solidify that, and even link Kara to him. At the moment, if he got caught, he could argue self-defense against the Theelin, and there was insufficient evidence to tie him to the other hits (mostly circumstantial from Tufar's financials, which wouldn't have his name attached). If he dropped any more bodies, though, things would go bad in a hurry, and he'd bring heat down on Kara faster than trying to steal something from under the NRI's nose. He sighed; he had to find an alternate route.

The stairwell in which he stood went down another level; he did not know the layout of the building, but it was a good bet that the lower levels housed a landspeeder parking facility; if not, they should at least have an emergency exit. He went down, hoping that the Skulds hadn't thought of covering every door and window to the place. He doubted they had the manpower at the moment. This apartment building had more holes in its security than a razor net; the trick was being small enough to slip through unnoticed. He reached the bottom of the stairwell and exited. The door opened into a large, private garage for the tenants of the building. He considered stealing a speeder, then thought better of it. Roaring out onto the street would be easier to notice than simply slipping away. Better just to disappear.

It occurred to him that he could just disappear. He had enough heat on him now, with Tufar's betrayal, that leaving Corellia made a lot of sense. Even more importantly, his source of income was eliminated. He had enough saved up for a trip to the Outer Rim, someplace that bounty hunters and old NRI nemeses and I.I. associates would no longer stumble across him--perhaps a gas mining facility, or a remote, rural colony. Every mine in the Galaxy was tied to criminal activity somehow, he figured; and if there were no crime, he had other skills, or could learn other skills. A quiet life might suit him--or rather, a quieter life might suit him. His life had been almost entirely quiet since dropping out of mercenary work a few years earlier, but one too many hits on the Skulds had put him back on the radar. With this recent turn of events, he might even show up under CorSec's watchful eye, or worse--with Kara--the NRI's. If he disappeared, CorSec would assume the Skulds got him, the Skulds would be happy to have him our of their hair, and the NRI might be none the wiser.

And Kara would be left swinging in the wind.

He sighed again. He had no great love for Kara, nor her mission, and he had no interest in drawing the attention of the NRI, but he had made a deal, and at the very least, he was going to keep that. Gas mines and rural colonies would still be languishing on the Outer Rim after another few years. Pulling his coat a little tighter around himself, he hunched his shoulders and cowed his head as he walked away from the apartment complex. The drizzling rain was letting up, and the sun was peeking through the clouds. He checked his comm unit again, confirming his location; if he went straight there, he would probably arrive before Kara... and he might bring a tail along with him. He checked his surroundings, trying to determine if he was being followed; he saw no one, but that was never a guarantee. Traffic holocams were as good as boots on the ground in a city like Coronet. He decided to make a pit stop first; there was a dark alleyway near the spaceport that had once been a freight entrance for a local eatery renowned for its spiceloaves and ryschates, but had gotten shut down by CorSec for its connections to Black Sun. Replacement shops had mostly failed, or been shut down themselves, and an air of bad luck began to surround the place. Corellians might not have been much for odds, but Cale was surprised how often the put stock in luck; the alley had been deserted for months when Cale found it, and in the years since, it had been left mostly undisturbed.

Except, of course, by the occasional homeless tenant. He stepped over a sleeping--at least, he thought it was sleeping--creature, not human, and made his way to the back corner of the alley. Using a piece of debris, he dug a hole and withdrew a medium-sized case. On the outside, it appeared to be a fairly benign--if somewhat large--business case, typically filled with documents or a portable HoloNet terminal. He entered a combination and popped it open, examining the contents; his blaster rifle and slugthrower pistol, once the signature weapons of his mercenary work, were neatly set inside, along with an array of power packs and ammunition magazines. He closed the case again, spun the lock, and headed for the address Kara had indicated; he would probably be ten minutes later than she expected, but his stop had been worth it. The case contained the only belongings he treasured, and if he had to bug out of Corellia in a hurry, he wasn't prepared to leave it behind.

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Pryde
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Re: Perception

Post by Pryde » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:01 pm

Much to his surprise Cole actually arrived first. After taking a minute to scout the perimeter to make sure the area was clear he took a seat at a small nondescript cafe and waited. The wait seemed to last forever though it was only about ten minutes and just when he was starting to think that maybe Kara wasn't so lucky getting out she popped out from around a corner and made a beeline straight for him. She sat down in the chair opposite from him and smiled. "Gotta say," she said, "I'm surprised you showed up. I sort of figured you'd leave me high and dry but it's a very good thing you didn't."

"What's that supposed to mean," Cole asked impatiently.

Kara took out a small datapad from her pocket and slid it across the table. Cole glanced at it and immediately frowned. On the display was footage of Corsec officers detaining patrons of Gran's bar and questioning them. Some of the footage showed an image of a young auburn haired woman directing the officers and maintaining order. She appeared to be the person in charge of the whole thing. "Meet Jennie Hawker," Kara said, "The NRI's best and brightest. Looks like she got wind of that little incident at the bar. Won't take long for her to find out I was there too, which means she isn't far behind us."

Kara had a doubtful look on her face which came as something of a surprise to Cole. From what he remembered of her Kara had always been bristling with confidence. She never showed any doubt or concern, to do so would be to admit weakness. This, however, was something different. What Cole didn't know is that Jennie was a lot like Kara in many ways. They both trained under the same operative and they both knew each other's moves and how to counter them. That was why Kara needed Cole, she needed to add an element of uncertainty to the plan. Essentially, she needed someone whom Jennie would not be able to anticipate, but with the NRI this close on their heels Kara doubted even Cole's skills would be enough.

"Anyway," she said, leaning back in her chair, "That's who we're up against. You try to get off Corellia now she'll find you and then grill you to get to me. Not the most ideal of situations but I think we can still pull this off. We're just going to need more help."

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Re: Perception

Post by Archangel » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:55 am

Cale didn't dispute Kara's suggestion that he could be broken. With the right leverage, everyone could be broken. The dauntless hero who laughed in the face of torture was great for the holodramas, but made for lousy reality; that kind of bravado was a sham, and anyone who showed it was an easy mark. Beating torture meant taking longer to answer than your interrogator had--either your side would rescue you, or your interrogator would kill you. When your interrogator was a law-abiding NRI agent and you didn't have a side anymore, as would have been Cale's situation, "winning" ceased to be an option.

"Best and brightest, huh?" the spy commented, a little tongue-in-cheek. "I always thought that was you." There was a twinkle in his eye as he glanced up at Kara; in a way, he enjoyed having her on the other side of the fence from the NRI. It made her less predictable, and more exciting; she had already been exciting enough, back in the day, but now there was almost another side to her. He felt a twinge of attraction toward her, and let emotions creep in that he had been ignoring for over a decade. He shut them down as soon as he recognized them, but he had a new sort of admiration for Kara, now that she was on the wrong side of the law.

Looking back down at the datapad, he studied their opponent. The red-haired nuisance certainly did seem to be in charge. He did not recognize her, but he had been out of the intelligence community for some time. "What do you know about her?" he asked. "If she's the one in charge, then she's the one we have to play to get your 'object' back. Either she keeps it on ice until she wraps this case up--and you with it--or she's already sent it up the chain, and we have to intercept before it gets into larger, deeper, more political pockets." He glanced at Kara again. "You say we need more help. Did you have any job titles in mind, or is this a standard merc hire?"

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