Being Trodden On

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Fri May 04, 2012 12:23 am

Kemen's eyes fell to the floor. A few long moments passed. Around the corner, Radek listened and waited. He could feel Kemen wavering on the subject. The man did not have an answer, not this time. He was caught between a rock and a hard place: on the one hand, he held the fate of his movement, and on the other, the lives of his people and their families and who-knew-how-many innocents between this Helstone and him.

Radek knew that Kemen would not have the strength to make the right choice. The Empire could never be trusted, not in any of its forms - not the Imperial Knights, not the politicians, and certainly not the Stormtrooper Corps. Even if it meant innumerable casualties, there could be no other choice; if they fought, and they died, the Galaxy would hear, and the Empire would be on its road to ruin... but if they surrendered, the whole event would disappear, and nothing would be fixed, and the Empire would go on.

Radek knew what he had to do. Turning round, he saw a window to the alley outside the warehouse.

"Can you," Kemen asked finally, "promise me that you have the authority to make these things happen?"

Carlisle grabbed his shoulder and hissed, "Alan, we can't trust her!"

Kemen looked tired. His eyes were red with stress. Carlisle couldn't tell if that was a recent development, or if he had been like that for weeks and had simply hidden it behind his veneer of strength. The man said softly, "We can't afford not to, Berk." Glancing at Consecrai, he added, "Get Mister Vidar. There's no reason for you two to be captured as well." He looked askance at Sierra. "No matter their promises, the Empire will not treat enemy Force-users kindly."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Fri May 04, 2012 12:38 am

Sierra breathed a sigh of relief, Kemen was making the right choice. "That is fine with me," she said, "Neither of them have raised arms against the Empire and the punishment they would face would be too severe even for--her," she added, albeit with a bit of hesitation while looking at Consecrai. "I'll contact Helstone immediately and let him know there is no need to deploy his men. I'm glad you decided to end this peacefully, Kemen, now I know I can get you and your people the help they deserve."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Beorht » Fri May 04, 2012 5:23 am

"This is Helstone. He will make an example of you, Kemen. This stinks twelve ways from Korriban. You can have blood now or oppression later. The girl is wrong, and you're grasping at straws."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Sat May 05, 2012 2:52 pm

Kemen looked at Consecrai out of the corner of his eye. "If it were only my blood, and the blood of those who have sworn to defend this proposition, I would do as you say. But you both know this Helstone; even I have heard his name." He turned to look at her with a heartfelt apology on his face. "Can you take your blade against his legions and defend the citizens of Bescane? Can you protect them all?" He shook his head slowly. "You may be very good at what you do, Darth Consecrai, but even you are not that good. I will spill my blood, and those who follow me will spill theirs, but I will not dip my hands in the blood of innocents."

His voice hardened once more. "But if General Helstone takes that step in spite of Miss Pryde's assurances of peace, then believe me, I will do everything in my power to finish this, blood or no blood."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Beorht » Sat May 05, 2012 7:35 pm

"I admire your integrity, Kemen, I really do. And this is your show. I'll wait with you to see how it plays out. I can do that - though it feels like the least I can do. If it wouldn't result in a whole lot of pain, I'd pull some strings and get you a dozen like me, or a hundred. I don't work for the Sith Empire, the Cult of Shadow, or anything like them, but I have friends. And if I dragged them in, I could win you your war, at the expense of a whole lot more than just one world.

"I don't know why I'm telling you this. Probably out of a sense of helplessness. I can see how some of this fits together, how some of this is a bad idea, how quick fixes and guaranteed solutions have unintended consequences; I don't know how any of this will turn out. I'll stick with you, though. I owe you that much.

"Time to sit back and trust the kid."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:39 pm

Radek slipped down the side of the warehouse and made his way down an alley. He had to save this rebellion. He was the only one left who could. He was the only one with the strength to do what was right, and bring the Empire to its knees. Kemen didn't care about the Empire, or the Galaxy it threatened; all he wanted was freedom from it for his people. It would have been a laudable goal, if it weren't so short-sighted. The Empire could never be held back for long. Given enough time, they would come back to Bescane, and there would be no freedom then. Perhaps they would wait through the first "free" regime, or through a generation of citizens, but eventually, they would be back.

And they would bring their Stormtroopers with them.

As Radek neared the street, he caught sight of a familiar face: it was Eirian Swinth, returning to the warehouse. At the risk of being seen, he walked out onto the street and caught her arm, dragging her back into the alley. "Radek!" she objected, "What the devil are you doing?"

"The Imperial Knight is back," he explained, "And she's taking Kemen to see Helstone."

"High General Teron Helstone?" she asked, more than a bit incredulous. "You can't be serious."

"Do I look like I'm joking?" he snapped. "Helstone entered the system yesterday. His plan is to kill everyone if they don't surrender. So Kemen's surrendering."

Swinth shook her head. "That's a fool's errand. The Empire will either imprison him or kill him, just to silence him. Kemen won't stop fighting for Bescane's freedom, and that makes him dangerous. They'll stuff him in a hole and never let him go."

Radek glanced at her for a moment, then nodded. "That's why we have to do what Kemen couldn't," he said, "One way or another, the Galaxy will know that Bescane demands independence of the Empire - and that the Empire wants to suppress every instinct for freedom."

Swinth frowned. "What did you have in mind?"

Radek smiled. "Once Helstone has Kemen and his compatriots in custody, we'll stage a rescue. Helstone will assume Kemen arranged it. It will force his hand. And Kemen will have no choice to fight back." He glanced back at Swinth to see a look of horror on her face. "What?" he asked, frowning.

"You'll get them all killed," she said softly.

"No," he answered, "Helstone will. They will fight - and die - for the freedom they've always wanted."

"And what about you, Radek? Will you fight and die for their freedom? Or will you spark the inferno that burns this planet up and flee before the flames lick your boots?"

Radek sneered. "Don't wax poetic, Eirian; it's unbecoming for a bitch like you."

She was caught off-guard. She struggled to find her voice for a moment. At last, she said, "I can't believe this. You would kill thousands of innocents to get your revenge."

"What about you, then?" he demanded, "Why are you here? You have enough resources to delve through Imperial and Republic archives, but you pretend to be nothing but an enforcer for a rebellion you don't believe in. You don't share Kemen's weakness, but you refuse to take the fight to the Empire. What's in this for you?"

She stammered, "Just-- Just the hope that these people can get out from under the Empire's thumb--"

"Ha!" Radek laughed, "Figures. Typical propagandic drivel. That means you're either an idealist, which doesn't explain your resources or training, or you're an agent for New Republic Intelligence." He glared at her and his smile faded. "How unremarkable. I should have known someone else got here first. There was no way Kemen could have made it this far on his own. The New Republic has been backing this from the start."

She worked her jaw open and shut a few times. Before she could respond, Radek said, "I know, you can neither confirm nor deny, et cetera. You don't have to. But I need you to make a choice: get off Bescane now, or help me finish this."

Swinth looked at him, then glanced down the street from the alley. She could see Kemen with the Imperial Knight, Berk Carlisle, and the woman Swinth had met at the cafe. They were getting into a taxi. They were probably on their way to see Helstone right that moment. She turned back to Radek and took a deep breath. "What, exactly, is your plan?"

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:58 pm

"Yes, General, you heard me right," Sierra was saying as she and the others climbed into the taxi, "I am bringing you the leaders of the rebellion, they have chosen to surrender. We'll be at your LZ in twenty and, Helstone, I want these people treated with respect," she added before cutting the transmission before Helstone could respond. She knew his reputation and she knew he wasn't going to take this very well. He and his troops came down here to fight and Sierra had effectively ended the war before it even began. Now she was asking him to grant amnesty to his enemies, throwing salt on his already open wound.

"Everything will be all right," she assured Kemen, "I promise."

And as the last passenger boarded the vehicle the doors closed behind them and the hovercar sped off towards the starport. Sierra's eyes drifted to the buildings speeding past, her thoughts a garbled mess of mixed emotions. She was confident she could help Kemen and his people but at the same time she doubted she could control Helstone. Her father's position as Moff gave her some clout but it wasn't unlimited. The Imperial Knights were still a newborn organization and it wasn't clear exactly where they fell in the chain of command.

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:50 pm

Teron Helstone was not a happy man. Bescane wasn’t a pleasant planet by any stretch of the imagination. Compounded on top of that was the incompetent way Galentro Heavy Works had handled the situation thus far and the impudence of the Imperial Knight, Sierra Pryde, that had been sent ahead to fix things. Daughter of a Moff or not, her station did not give her free reign to dictate orders to a High General. Unlike the relationship the Jedi had with the Republic, the Imperial Knights were being strictly regulated. Their function was to serve the Empire, not the other way around.

He was willing to be lenient for the sake of wrapping the mission up and getting on to more important matters elsewhere in the Empire, but that didn’t mean he had to be pleasant about it. If nothing else, he planned to set Pryde straight about how little he cared about her position as a Knight or her connections to her father.

Helstone waited patiently in a Chariot LAV flanked by two AT-ST’s. A dozen stormtroopers were on hand to take Kemen and his conspirators into custody while scout trooper sniper teams had taken up position in nearby buildings to provide cover. A military transport was waiting to haul Kemen and the rest away to a secure facility where his fate and the fate of his movement would be decided. Helstone had already read up on the intel they had on Kemen and knew the man to be the worst sort of idealist – the kind that always made things far more difficult than they needed to be.

A thunderclap sounded within the dirty brown clouds floating above the city of Lumchugger's Hub, signaling the start of a storm. A few greasy raindrops had already started falling by the time the taxi carrying Kemen and the others pulled into view. It stopped in front of the stormtroopers as they moved to take Kemen and his people into custody.

“Keep on the alert,” Helstone said to his troops over the chariot’s com system, “I want all unauthorized movement reported immediately. If they’re going to try something, this will be their last chance to do so before Kemen is in our hands.” Helstone narrowed his eyes as he watched Sierra disembark from the taxi. “And tell Ms. Pryde to report to the chariot immediately.”

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:47 pm

Sierra certainly didn't like the tone of Helstone's invitation and the sheer number of troops he had assembled to greet them immediately put her on edge. She cast a glance at Kemen who was getting out of the vehicle just behind her. If he was feeling any apprehension at this moment Sierra tried to calm it by putting on a face that seemed to imply that everything was going as planned.

"Tell Helstone I'll be there to see him immediately," she said and the aide nodded and hurried back to the Chariot. Sierra turned to Kemen then and gently laid a hand on his arm. "Everything will be fine, I promise," she assured him, then she turned and hurried after the aide as the dozen Stormtroopers took him and Consecrai captive.

"You can order your men to stand down, General," Sierra said as soon as she climbed through the hatchway into the Chariot. "The rebel leader surrendered peacefully without resistance. He's hardly worth all this," she added with a wave of her arm that took in the two AT-STs, the tank and the dozen soldiers waiting outside.

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:22 pm

“I would think a Moff’s daughter would know better than that,” Helstone countered. “You of all people should realize how powerful one man’s name can be. Kemen is the face of the rebellion on Bescane. I take him in, I take away his power, and with it the influence of his rebels. The Empire’s hold here is secured and no one dies.” He looked at her pointedly. “I should think you would at least appreciate that last part.”

Before she could answer him, he continued. “If, on the other hand, his rebel friends decide they can’t stand the thought of him in our custody and mount an ill-advised rescue attempt and actually free him, or if they decide he’s better off as a dead martyr than a captured leader, the fires of this rebellion become stoked and I’m forced to handle it the old fashioned way.”

“I don’t much care how this situation is resolved, but I will end it one way or another,” he promised. “He’s being taken in safe and unharmed. My end of the bargain is being upheld. You should be more worried about the rebels holding up theirs. Take it from someone who has dealt with insurrections before.”

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:55 pm

"Kemen has promised me that his people will surrender peacefully," Sierra assured him, albeit a bit chagrined by the general's tone and his rather pointed remarks. "In exchange I have promised to initiate negotiations to improve the standard of living here on Bescane. Kemen's followers aren't going to jeopardize their only opportunity to get what they want."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:18 am

“That remains to be seen,” Helstone replied darkly.

Before any further conversation could be made, the com officer interjected. “The rebel leaders are secure, General.”

Helstone nodded back. “Then send the order to move out,” he commanded. He looked over at Sierra. “Representatives from Galentro are already on their way to meet with them at the Imperial garrison. For his sake, you’d better hope the rebels want a peaceful settlement as much as their leader does.”

The Chariot LAV then went into motion with a slight lurch, following behind the AT-ST leading the convoy. The transport with Kemen, Consecrai, and the stormtroopers was next, and finally the other AT-ST took up a flanking position.

They were on their way…

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:28 am

Radek held up a hand. Swinth halted behind him. The former Jedi appreciated that her training as a spy had begun to kick in; her movement was quiet as the grave. He turned to look at her, then gestured ahead of him. They were in a back alley, not far from where Sierra was meeting Helstone. Directly in front of him was fire escape stairway. It led all the way to the roof of the tallest building for six blocks in any direction. The Imperials had a sniper up there, and Radek had not needed the Force to know it. It only made sense; Helstone was no fool.

Radek indicated that Swinth should climb the staircase and relieve the sniper of his firearm. That was her part of the plan: cover him when the time came. He did not want her to know too many details, in case she was less skilled than she seemed. The last thing he needed was for her to sing like a canary before he could make his move.

She had understood. On some level, she must have had a plan of her own; she did not want this to go down this way, but she knew that Radek would carry on without her. That meant her primary goal was going to be saving lives, not taking them. That was fair enough, Radek had decided; it was more or less what he wanted her to do, anyway. As the NRI agent made her way quietly up the fire escape, Radek slipped over to a manhole cover in the middle of the alleyway. The cover was heavy, but a quick examination revealed that it was automated. Galentro Heavy Works wasn't all bad, Radek noted with some relief; calling on the Force, he flipped the security-encoded switch. As nearly as he could tell, no alarms went out as the durasteel plate lifted off the ground and out of the way.

The former Jedi slipped inside and switched the lever back. Within moments, he was enshrouded in complete darkness. He considered using the Force to see, but he wanted to conserve his energy, so he simply activated his lightsaber. Its radiant blue hues glittered across the damp ferrocrete walls. Rats squeaked and scrambled to escape his approach, but he ignored them. He allowed the Force to guide him to his destination. A few minutes later, he came to an abandoned, unused chamber, left over from the planet's hyper-industrial society, always changing, building, and rebuilding. The room was shallow, but covered a large area; Radek suspected that it had been designed as a water treatment facility originally. There was no manhole cover here, but with the help of the Force, he knew that he was directly beneath the street. He knelt on the ground and called on the Force. He began to meditate, reaching out into his surroundings. He looked not only for the present, but for the future.

And a dark future it was.

* * * * *

Swinth swallowed hard as she reached the roof. The fire escape had only reached the top floor; a metal ladder had connected that platform to the roof. She had naturally worried about being detected, but there were no signs of enemy movement. She slipped onto the roof and hid behind a ventilation shaft. She leaned to the edge and peered around it, looking for her target.

She could not believe that Radek was doing this. He had been a Jedi, and a pretty good one; she had seen the files. New Republic Intel was smart enough to keep up-to-date information on every Jedi that the Order put out, just in case they fell to the Dark Side and started another galactic war. Megalomania seemed to walk hand-in-hand with Force affinity; Swinth wondered briefly which trait led to the other. Even Radek was consumed with using his power to topple galactic governments - it just happened to be a government Swinth hated as much as he did. But what if he turned his sights on the New Republic next? She did not know what had happened to him between his self-sacrifice on Sernpidal and his appearance on Bescane, or if there was something else entirely influencing his decisions. But he had been a good Jedi, and a good man. But now... was he really willing to sacrifice Kemen, the woman from the cafe, even the very people of Bescane, just to prove a point to the Galaxy? The uprising itself was proof enough that the Empire was oppressive. Was there a need for more genocide?

A gleam of eggshell-white caught her eye, and she smiled grimly. She crept closer, making sure to stay behind cover as far as possible. When she was eight meters away, she was as close as she could get while staying out of sight. She would have to cover the rest of the distance in the open. She drew her combat knife from her boot and took a few deep, calming breaths. Then she was on her feet, running with the stealth and precision of a highly trained NRI agent.

The scout trooper, skilled as he was, never saw his end coming. Swinth slit his throat before he could move. Working quickly, she pulled his body away from his rifle, then settled into the perch herself. The rifle was a standard E-11s sniper rifle, common to every scout sniper the Empire fielded. It had an extremely long range and a lot of punching power, which would probably come in handy in just a few minutes.

As the rain began to fall around her, Swinth examined the clearing in which two AT-STs, a Chariot LAV, and a military transport waited for Kemen. She watched as the taxi pulled away under the watchful eyes of the Imperial Stormtroopers, while Kemen and the woman from the cafe were loaded into the military transport. It was a tracked vehicle, its heavy, armored treads resting on the dirty pavement they would soon grind across. The transport looked like a variant of the PX-7 troop transport, even down to the dorsal blaster turret. Swinth watched at the Imperial Knight walked over to the Chariot. The NRI operative briefly considered putting two into her from here, and ending her influence. She had gotten Kemen caught in the first place, after all.

But she knew that if she did that, the Empire would lock Kemen down tight. Radek would not be able to make his move, the rebels would be deemed combative, and everyone would die - starting with her. She sighed a little and waited for Radek's signal. He hoped it would come soon; the convoy was beginning to roll out, and in a few minutes, she would no longer have a viable vantage point. She settled her sights on one of the half-dozen Stormtroopers marching alongside the pseudo-PX-7; six more, she recalled, had clambered inside the transport with Kemen and the woman.

As a pit in her stomach began to churn, she hoped Radek had a very, very good plan.

* * * * *

Inside the military prisoner transport, Kemen wondered how much he could trust Sierra Pryde. She had promised him a deal - his surrender, for a chance to fix all the problems Galentro had foisted upon Bescane. But it seemed more and more unlikely that she could deliver. Helstone was clearly in charge here; if he chose to eliminate Kemen, even Consecrai, the rebel had little doubt that Helstone could do it. But he knew that he had no other choice; if he had not surrendered, Helstone definitely would have killed them all. This small convoy was but a taste of his power, and Kemen knew it.

The constant rumble of the transport as it shoved its way across the landscape came to a sudden halt, forcing Kemen to lean forward from his momentum. He looked at Consecrai, who shook her head: she was neither behind the surprising stop, nor could she tell who was. Assuming it wasn't routine. Kemen tried to calm the anxiety that was welling up within him, but he could not shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. He looked at the nearest Stormtrooper, who had his E-11 blaster rifle trained on the rebel. "What's going on?" Kemen demanded. "Why have we stopped?"

The Stormtrooper did not reply, except to raise his blaster rifle menacingly. Kemen fell silent, but the butterflies in his stomach beat their wings like mad.

* * * * *

MP-1311 kept a weather eye on his surroundings as the convoy moved out. He was one of six Stormtroopers assigned to march alongside the prisoner transport. He did not care for babysitting duty, but he knew that the General would not have been sent if Thrawn had not expected a fight. But regardless of his own feelings, he had a job to do, and he was going to do it. Any Stormtrooper that did less did not stay in the 11th for very long. Helstone was, as they said, pitiless.

"Comm check," he heard MP-1300, his commanding officer, demand over their headsets.

"Check," came the voice of MP-1301, then again from MP-1302. Again and again it came, eight more times. When it came MP-1311's turn, he stated emotionlessly, "Check." His step was unimpeded. Everything was going according to plan.

The Stormtrooper was walking immediately next to the prisoner transport. Ten paces ahead of him was MP-1310, and ten paces behind, MP-1312. On the other side, in the same formation, were MP-1307, MP-1308, and MP-1309. They were outfitted for standard duty, with standard army and E-11b rifles. All to make sure some rebel militia kept away from their backbirth of a leader. MP-1311 suppressed his disdain for the backwater bumpkins that called this wretched planet home; he remembered that underestimating an enemy made it all that much easier for that enemy to win.

Without warning, he heard a snap and groan from the transport. He turned sharply, searching for a cause. "MP-1303, report."

"I'm not getting traction," the Stormtrooper piloting the transport replied. "Check the treads."

MP-1311 obeyed without reply. He examined the tracks that normally propelled the transport. He knew that MP-1308 was doing the same on the other side, but he was the first to come up with the solution. "I've got something," he announced. He looked closer, double-checking in an attempt to convince himself of the truth. "It looks like the treads have been cut," he finished, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice, "There's a break here."

"Here, too," MP-1308 declared.

"What's going on?" MP-1311 heard General Helstone's voice come onto the frequency. "Why have we stopped?"

The Stormtrooper let his commanding officer answer. "There's a problem with the treads, General," MP-1300 replied, "They appear to have been cut."

On the private squad channel, MP-1311 heard MP-1303 say, unbelieving, "Those treads are armored and blast-resistant. They don't cut easy."

It sounded like General Helstone was saying something else, but MP-1311 did not hear what it was. The ground creaked and groaned under some hidden strain, and as the noise became more intense, the Stormtrooper could no longer make out words coming through his headset. The creaking was joined by a robust vibration in the ground.

Then, in an explosion of dust and debris, the prisoner transport fell into a gaping hole in the ground.

* * * * *

When the ferrocrete slab, with transport in tow, fell into the water treatment room, it splashed the filth and waste that filled the room. Radek shut his eyes, but did not turn away from the explosive wave. He appreciated the camouflage it offered him in the darkness. He had cut the gashes exactly wide enough to allow the transport to fall through, so there was only about half a foot of clearance on each side. But the room was too shallow, especially with the ferrocrete slab added to it, for more than two-thirds of the transport to rest below street level - which, conveniently, left the vehicle's blaster turret with an impossible vantage.

Radek smiled. He could not have planned it better, if he had even remotely planned it beforehand. The former Jedi crossed the stercorary trap in a moment and pressed his lightsaber into the hatch near its top. The vehicle was heavily armored, but it did not have any lightsaber-resistant properties, so it could not last forever. It could, however, last long enough for the Stormtroopers above to make their way down and shoot him - but only if he tried to cut a hole in the armor. Instead, he aimed for the connections that held the hatch shut tight. He missed the first time, but his second attempt was exactly on target. The hatch fell open and Radek ducked to his right.

The former Jedi let two Stormtroopers file out, their weapons at the ready, before he moved again. He lunged, and the first was dead before he could react. The second raised his blaster and even got a shot off, but the bolt went wide. Radek's blade did not.

He heard a commotion inside the transport and entered to find Consecrai subduing two more Stormtroopers. He looked to the cockpit of the vehicle, but it was sealed; Radek suspected that was an emergency feature caused by the trauma of the collapse: when the transport is attacked, its cockpit locks down to prevent prisoners from overpowering their guards and taking the transport. Of course, that made his job easier. "Let's go," he said.

Kemen looked up when he recognized the waste-covered assailant. "Radek?" he asked incredulously. "What have you done?"

Radek sneered angrily. "I just saved your hide!" he answered, "Now let's go!"

Kemen shook his head, horror on his face. "Helstone will view this as an act of war. He'll bring his entire battle group down on top of us. We'll all be killed," he said, trying to figure out how to salvage the situation. But nothing came to mind. There could be no diplomacy now. There could be no surrender, not one that Helstone would believe. They would have to fight. But why?

"Why?" Kemen demanded. "Why did you do this?"

Radek set his jaw. "Helstone wasn't taking you to see Galentro's executives," he lied, "He was taking you for execution, and then he would discredit you even among your own people by saying you sold them out. And then he was going to kill everyone who followed you anyway." He looked at Consecrai, and knew that she would not pick up on his falsehood. She was too busy calculating tactics and working out ways to survive. She was a fighter, not a politician. And that worked to his advantage, because the only other people who could call him on his lie were Helstone and Sierra, and they were fifteen feet up, probably still in their Chariot.

Kemen swallowed hard. "Okay," he said, "Let's get out of here before they find a way down." Getting up, he followed Radek out. Consecrai took up the rear.

* * * * *

Swinth had expected an obvious sign, but she had not expected that. When the transport fell into the street, she lost a few precious seconds to her surprise. The Stormtroopers, far below, had already begun to take cover. She had six shots with the E-11s, and she took them. Four Stormtroopers went down, two survived. But Swinth knew she could not wait to reload and try again; there was no way Helstone had only one sniper on this mission, which meant that her position would be compromised within seconds. The NRI operative abandoned her perch and darted back to the fire escape, the way she had come. She made her way down as quickly as she could, hoping that no one investigated this alleyway in the meantime.

* * * * *

On the other side of the city, a luxury repulsorcar was leaving Galentro Heavy Works. Inside, Leland Barnes, three other board members, and two lawyers were on their way to meet with a terrorist and an Imperial General. Barnes was not looking forward to the meeting. He was not prepared to cave to any demands, but he did not know why Helstone approved the meeting, and he did not want to risk angering the dangerous general.

Suddenly, an explosion rocked the repulsorcar and sent it careening off the road into a neighboring building. When Leland recovered from his daze, he found himself staring down a blaster rifle. A team of insurgents, scowling at their hated enemy, gestured for him to get out of the vehicle. Leland gulped.

"Leland Barnes," said the one closest to him, "You're coming with us. Don't make any sudden moves, and we'll return you to your beloved Empire in one piece when our demands have been met."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:57 pm

If Helstone had been a petty man, he would have spared just a moment to give Sierra an I told you so look as soon as the transport carrying Kemen collapsed into the sewers under the street. Instead he just shook his head. It served him right for attempting to go easy on these criminals, though a small part of him did admire the tactical precision that it took to drop the transport and not the rest of the convoy. It seemed as though these rebels had a couple among them with some impressive skills.

Sniper fire erupted from one of the nests he had set up to watch the transfer, taking down a few of his stormtroopers even as the rear AT-ST turned its head to track the direction of the compromised position and opened fire with its twin blaster cannons. The firepower blew apart the section of the building the nest had been located in. With any luck it had also taken out the rebel who had fired on them, but Helstone wasn’t holding his breath. If they were professional enough to drop the transport, they were likely professional enough not to stay in one place for long while sniping.

There were no reports from the stormtroopers who had been inside the transport, which meant they were likely all dead. Helstone relayed as much to Sierra. “No response from the transport. I’m bringing in patrols to reinforce the area and comb the sewers. You had better hope your friend, Kemen, had the good sense to stay put if his comrades haven’t already killed him.”

Before she could respond, the com officer spoke up. “Sir, we have a report from patrol Aurek 7. They’ve come across Leland Barnes’ speeder.”

“Good,” Helstone grunted. “Tell them to escort Barnes and his party to the garrison. In light of this attack, he’ll be staying there under the protection of the Empire until I deem the crisis over.”

“The speeder is empty, sir,” the com officer reported as some of the color drained from his face.

Helstone made a fist to contain his rising anger before unclenching his hand again. He looked back at Sierra with a smoldering gaze. “We gave them their chance and they not only betrayed us, they took hostages. Good men died because of it. I’m through treating this rabble with kid gloves. They want a war? They've got one.”

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:50 pm

"And what would that prove? That we are just as capable of killing their own people as they are," Sierra snapped, her tone coming out harsher than she had expected it to. "You go to war with the rebellion then this entire district will be swept up in it. Thousands of innocent people will die in the crossfire and you'll be putting Leland's life in jeopardy! Let me contact my superiors, I believe there is still a way for this to end without any further bloodshed!"

Helstone didn't seem at all convinced but before he could offer a retort she interrupted him. "My father is a man of the people, General, he believes in the system. I believe in the system! Give me a chance to make this right! No more people need to die today."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:49 am

Helstone stared at Sierra just long enough to make her uncomfortable before answering. “Those deaths would have at least had some purpose if we’d done things my way, Ms. Pryde. As it is, they died for nothing. The only point in your favor over this debacle is that we learned something: whoever dropped my transport is very good; certainly a cut above your standard soldier. I intend to respond in kind by bringing in Hellion Company.”

“Right now they’re on maneuvers in the Deep Core near Byss - that should give you a little under three days galactic standard time to try whatever it is you think you can do before the Hellions make it here.” He narrowed his eyes. “That’s when I root out these rebels my way. Consider the city under lockdown until then.”

He turned back to face the monitors in the Chariot LAV as he coordinated the search efforts, apparently done with Sierra. “One word of advice: they’ve already betrayed you once. There’s every reason to think that they’ll do it again. You would do well to keep that in mind. You may not like me or my methods, but at least you know my intentions.”

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:16 am

"How did you know?"

Radek turned around. Kemen had stopped again. "What?" he demanded.

"How did you know General Helstone's plans?" Kemen asked a second time.

Radek set his jaw. "I just do," he answered cryptically.

"How?" Kemen demanded as he became angry. "Through the Force? Did you torture it out of him? Did you capture a communique? How did you know, Radek?"

"It's not important," Radek said, a dangerous edge creeping into his voice. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Consecrai frown at him.

"It's important to me!" Kemen shouted. Then, more calmly, "Everything was going according to plan. We were finally going to have our freedom." He shook his head slowly, closing his eyes. "I can't figure out why Helstone would react this way. Why would he destroy me and my reputation? How would he?"

"Because he's an Imperial!" Radek shouted back, "And that's how they operate! Why deal with a traitorous rebel when you can just execute him and crush his pitiful band underfoot? Why offer treaties and benefits and assistance when you can just wipe out the leadership and leave the peons to wallow? You're asking the wrong question, Alan: There's no wonder why Helstone would betray you. Ask yourself why he wouldn't."

Kemen furrowed his brow. "Because I came in peacefully. As harsh as he is, he must respect that. I could have sent snipers after him, or set a bomb to explode on his landing pad, or I could have even sent you, Radek, as an assassin. But I came myself, and not with a weapon, but an outstretched hand. Because I'm a man of peace and freedom."

"That is something he cannot understand!" Radek roared. Tears welled in his eyes as he shouted down at the man he had just rescued. "The Empire doesn't comprehend freedom and peace and justice, Alan! They kill without regard or remorse, and they will destroy anyone who resists! That is why we must fight, Alan, because we must prove that we will not lay down and die because it's convenient for them!" He snatched Kemen by the collar and pulled him in close. He yelled, "I will not lay down and die! Not again!"

Kemen leaned away from the contorted grimace of the broken man before him, finally understanding. "You have no idea what Helstone was planning. But you carry a torch of vengeance, and it has burned in you for a very long time," he said calmly, "But I do not carry that torch, Radek. I will not fight your war."

Radek released him, panting for breath. For a few moments, he stood still, tears rolling down his cheeks. His eyes were unfocused, his face distant. Even Kemen could tell that he was somewhere else, far away - in deep and tremendous pain. The rebel stepped closer and placed one hand on Radek's shoulder. Kemen offered him a caring, compassionate smile. "What now, Radek?" he asked, "What will you do now?"

Radek's focus returned. His eyes settled on Kemen. His gaze was penetrating, resolved. A smile crept over his face, not compassionate or caring, but malevolent. The expression was twisted with a sneer. "If you will not fight as a hero," Radek declared, "then you will die as a martyr."

He moved fast - faster than Kemen could react. Kemen heard the telltale snap-hiss of a lightsaber, a sound he knew in spite of the Jedi Purge that left this and every Imperial world spinning a bit distant from the Jedi of old. But he also knew that Radek was no Jedi.

Radek raised the blade and swung for Kemen's head. The end would be quick. It was justified. Kemen would die, the Empire would be blamed, and the rebellion would begin in earnest. In another moment, his blade would cleave Kemen in twain, and the die would be cast. In another moment--

Crackle!

Radek's swing rebounded as Consecrai's lightsaber intersected his own. Her red blade shone in stark contrast to his blue. Kemen fell back behind her as she dropped into a Djem So defensive stance. Her red-orange skin glowered all the more starkly by the light of her blade. Radek scowled at her, his own blade lighting his features in a pale blue sheen.

"I can't let you do that, Vidar," she stated simply.

He sneered again. "Let me finish this," he said, "Let me set these things in motion. Let me finally show the Empire for what they truly are. When I'm done, you can execute me. Go home and tell your master I was Cult of Shadow. I don't care. Just let me... finish this."

There was a pause. Was she considering his offer? Or was she just pitying him?

"No."

He snapped. "Let me kill him!" he roared in his defiance.

"No," she declared all the more firmly.

He yelled unintelligibly as he charged. He called on the Force and leaped, pushing her into a solid defensive position through his Ataru. Each attack was strong, but wild. He was pushing too hard. Her defenses were ready and able to handle the challenge. Her parries and ripostes were precise and controlled. She was in her element, and he was emotionally involved. He was also expending his resources in the Force by trying to maintain his Ataru stance. Calling on the Force again, he pushed away from her and landed in the muck of the sewers some feet away.

He crawled back onto the stone path that they had been following. Dropping into a Makashi stance, he glared at her. "I must finish this."

"I told you about my Master's main concern," she answered evasively, "Do you remember?"

Radek nodded once. "To hunt other Darksiders."

She nodded in turn. "Then, you didn't quite qualify." She raised her blade in a challenge. "Now you do."

Radek charged again. Fury fueled him. He lunged at her chest, intending to impale her. She swatted his blade aside and swung back toward his throat. His blade was too far away to bring back in time. Leaning back, he called on the Force for assistance. Bent at the knees, he narrowly escaped the edge of her blade. Pushing with the Force, he regained some distance. He brought his lightsaber up in a proper Makashi stance and advanced slowly.

Consecrai narrowed her eyes as they circled each other. Radek's sneer did not fade. He lunged again, determined to defeat her and claim his victory. Again, she parried easily. They became embroiled, lunging, parrying, striking. Radek used the Force to throw stones at her as a distraction, but she evaded them. Consecrai attacked powerfully, her Djem So quickly overwhelming the meager defense that Radek's Makashi offered. As a last resort, he cast out in the Force, throwing her away from him. She landed heavily, but rose quickly.

They were both panting for breath. Radek spoke first. "I have to do this," he said.

"So do I."

Radek shook his head in frustration. "No, you don't! You could leave me be! Let me do this! The Empire is evil! They were ruled by a Sith! Surely you concede that they must be stopped!"

Consecrai shrugged. Politics were not her field of expertise. "Maybe," she said, "but not like this." She paused, then frowned. "A word of advice, Vidar."

"What?" he spat.

"When fighting a Sith, don't give them a free hand for so long."

Radek narrowed his eyes. He looked for her off-hand, and found it in time to see the final weaving of an intricate pattern.

His eyes widened. His lightsaber clattered to the ground and deactivated. He fell backward and, once supine, began to convulse. He cast about, as if looking at phantasms and monsters found only in his mind. He began to shout, first decrying his attackers; soon, his words were mostly obscenities, followed by inarticulate screaming.

Kemen stepped up beside Consecrai. "What did you do to him?" he asked, his natural pity overcoming his fear of Radek's retribution.

"Nothing permanent," she answered, "Let's get out of here before he comes around."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:37 pm

Radek awoke to bitter cold. The damp stone had drawn the warmth from him as he lay upon it. Now, covered in sweat and water and muck and filth, which he was not entirely sure did not belong to him, he shivered. The air stank of rot and unfiltered waste-water. As he blinked open his eyes, he saw nothing; darkness enshrouded him completely. Where was he? he wondered. How had he come here?

Slowly, he turned over, feeling the stones beneath him. They were cobbled together, in a style like the cities of old. The air around him was thick, moist, and hot. He seemed to be underground. He did not remember on what planet.

He soon found his footing. He stumbled aimlessly, trying to feel for walls or obstacles as he went. He tripped twice, his face hitting the ground hard. He might have broken a tooth. The second time, he felt around the floor, trying to find the culprit. Stone. Cold stone. Wet stone. Sticky, sweet-smelling stone. He crawled toward this new feeling. Same sticky sweetness. Smelled of iron. Then something soft. He felt the material; cloth, like a shirt, but tattered. He felt farther. Something thicker - meatier. A body. He stumbled back, falling on his rump. The body did not move. Inching forward, he reached out again. Flesh. Definitely a body, covered in tattered clothes. He tried to trace the anatomy. He was touching an arm, he realized; it was slender, but limp and lifeless.

He swallowed hard. Something felt very familiar, but dangerous. He did not like this place. Whose body was this? He traced up the arm, found a shoulder. He kept following. He soon discovered that the body belonged to a woman. There was no warmth in her. What woman was this?

Memories slowly began to build in his mind. Women he had known. Was this Eirian Swinth? Darth Consecrai? Sierra Pryde?

Instinct told him no. He kept searching his mind, trying to guess the identity of the dead. Perhaps Verena? No, she had died in his arms, in prison. Was it Jana? Had Master Dophi fallen to Cult of Shadow insurgents? His heart ached to think that he had not been able to protect her, either. But as he reached her neck, he found a wound. A blaster wound. The Cult did not use blasters; this was not Jana. Could it be... no. He had buried her.

Buried her. Underground. In a cavern. A tomb. He felt the stone next to him. It was not cobblestone. It was rough, natural. A cavern.

He could not restrain himself. He felt her face. A face he knew. The face from his dreams.

The face from his nightmares.

"Sivassa!" he said aloud.

The word seemed to break a spell. The darkness fled from his sight, replaced with a brilliant white light. There she was, sprawled before him, broken and empty. She was the most beautiful vessel of life he had ever known, and here she lay shattered at his feet. He wept.

But only for a moment.

Sivassa's eyes snapped open.

Taken aback, Radek stumbled away from her body again. He scrambled until he found a wall, and pushed against it to help him stand. He stared wide-eyed at her body, waiting for her to move. She did not.

Had he imagined it? Was he going mad? And how had he come back to her tomb?

He walked slowly closer. Step by step, inch by inch; he could see her face again. Calm. Peaceful. Beautiful.

Terrible.

Her eyes were still open.

Looking at him.

He leaned. They followed. He swallowed hard. He tried to slow his breathing. Didn't he know about breathing? Techniques. Jedi techniques. He was a Jedi, after all.

Finally, he worked up the nerve. "Sivassa?"

She stood up.

His heart caught in his throat. She towered before him, bloodied and pierced and slain, but standing. "How--?" he managed.

"You left me to die, Radek," she declared.

"N-n-n-no," he stammered, "I-I-I was on my w-w-way b-back to h-help you."

"You left me to die," she repeated, "You could have saved me. But you left me to die!"

"No!" he objected again, louder this time, firmer. It wasn't true. He had loved her. Tried to save her. He was too late.

"Lies!" she screamed, her voice cutting through the shadows like a lightsaber. He ached to hear her so. "You could have saved me and you left me to die!"

"No!" he roared, the strength of his own voice startling him. He did not feel that strength. Fear was creeping over him. No - out of him. It started at his center. It filled him like blood, coursed through his veins. He overflowed with it. He began to shake.

"You could have saved me and you left me to die!" he heard another voice shout. He turned to see Jana Dophi, his old master. She was cut, wounded in a thousand places. Like Sivassa, she was dead, but standing.

"You could have saved me and you left me to die!" Another voice. He spun, growing dizzy. Verena Falkenrath. His nurse. His savior. Dead. Shot through by Stormtroopers. Just like--

"You could have saved me and you left me to die!" Eirian Swinth. The New Republic agent. She was missing limbs. She had been blown apart by something. Dead. But still she stood, on one shaky leg. Another victim of--

"You could have saved us and you left us to die!" Radek looked. His father. And his mother. He did not know how he recognized them, but he did. They were charred. Burned. Skinless, fleshless. Dead.

"You could have saved me and you left me to die... Raddy!" A man. Radek frowned. He did not know him. The man had scars all over his face. His hair was light, his eyes dark. He was scowling. But he was definitely not dead. He had... false teeth? Radek narrowed his eyes, trying to understand. Until at last it dawned on him. Raddy...

"Davin?" he asked.

Memories flooded back in full. He was a Jedi. He was on the planet Bescane. He had fought Darth Consecrai. He was trying to cast the planet into rebellion - to show the Empire's true colors. He had killed men. In cold blood. He had tried to kill an innocent man, who wanted only peace. Consecrai had stopped him. Sith sorcery. He was supposed to meet Swinth. Finish the plan. The plan that led to thousands, if not millions, of deaths. All on his head. But he knew of one death that was not his fault; he had done everything he could, but that one death had always been beyond his grasp: Davin's.

But Davin was not dead.

The convulsions made his muscles ache. Every inch of him hurt. The pain was unbearable. But he could not pass out. He was beyond that point, into unending agony. He called on the Force. He begged it. He pleaded. His skull pounded against the stones beneath him. He felt blood running down his neck, his back.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity of suffering, he blacked out.

* * * * *

Three hours after the excruciating end to Radek's duel with Consecrai, he woke again - truly. Swinth was cradling his head. He reached up and felt it. It was bandaged. He looked at Swinth. She seemed worried. "Welcome back," she said with a forced smile.

He compelled one of his own. "Eirian," he said, his voice hoarse and cracked, "You're okay."

Her frown deepened. "Why wouldn't I be?"

He shook his head slowly, a genuine smile spreading in spite of the pain. "No reason," he answered, "Just a bad dream." That meant that Jana might still be alive... and Davin might still be--

"What happened?"

Radek looked at Eirian. "Consecrai betrayed us," he said, "She kidnapped Alan." Only he hadn't said it. His mouth worked up and down, but no sound issued forth; no words were formed. "The Stormtroopers caught us," he tried again, "I kept them at bay long enough for Consecrai and Alan to escape." Still nothing.

Eirian looked much more worried now. "What's wrong, Radek?" she asked.

Could it be? he wondered. Did he have no other choice? That was all he had left.

The truth.

He swallowed, but to no avail. His throat was like Tatooine on a bad day. "I--" he tried a third time. This time it worked. "I lost it. You were right. I would kill innocent men for my revenge." He shook his head slowly, his eyes far-off. "My plan," he continued, "We have to stop it. Helstone will slaughter them all."

She furrowed her brow. "What about your message to the Galaxy? What about proving that the Empire's evil?"

Radek shut his eyes tight. He bit his lip before answering. At last, he spat, "Message be damned! There are too many lives at stake here." He took a few deep breaths. "My revenge was a fool's errand. And I am the fool who's about to murder millions." He set his jaw and grimaced against the inevitable pain. "Help me up," he asked her.

"Maybe you are a Jedi," she said softly, with a hint of rue as she pulled him to his feet. "But I'm afraid we may be past the point of no return," she warned. "While you were out, I got a call from one of our cells near Galentro headquarters. They've kidnapped Leland Barnes."

Radek's face fell. He sighed, his eyes closed. With Barnes kidnapped... Helstone would have no choice. If Kemen were still in custody, that would be a felonious bargaining chip. But with him already broken out... That was an act of terrorism - an act of war. Helstone would take the only appropriate course.

The former Jedi failed to suppress a laugh as he realized that they only had one hope left: Sierra Pryde.

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:19 pm

Sierra stood outside of the warehouse to which she had been taken too on numerous occasions, a part of her almost hesitant to go in. Whereas before she was accepted as a reluctant ally she knew now that she would be considered an enemy. She did not want to fight the rebellion but what she wanted was now a distant memory. Now her only option was to end the fighting through force. People would get hurt but she would try her best not to kill anyone.

With a long heavy sigh she drew her lightsaber and ignited the green blade, holding it in a reverse Shien grip and readying herself for the onslaught of blaster fire to come. Then she reached out towards the door and focused all of her will on it and with one massive tug from the Force she tore the door right out of the wall. Blaster fire soon followed and she reflected it easily enough. Shien was a style specially suited for deflecting blaster fire from multiple targets, it was also the style Sierra was most proficient in though it did have its drawbacks. Shien users were often times at a disadvantage when facing a single opponent with a lightsaber.

Slowly she walked into the warehouse, blaster fire raining down on her from the floor above as she reflected each shot back to its origin. One by one the rebels fell, burns in their arms and legs from where reflected blaster bolts had struck them. Whenever she could she tried to redirect the bolts back at their weapons but aiming for their arms and legs was hard enough. Finally, the last one was down. There were about ten in all, hardly the number she had seen earlier. Kemen must have considered this safe house to be compromised and with good reason. He would have known that he and his men wouldn't last long against an Imperial Knight.

Sierra stood next to the nearest rebel, who was clawing desperately towards his fallen blaster. She kicked the weapon even further out of his reach and aimed her saber down at him. "Where is Kemen," she demanded, "and where have you taken Leland Barnes?"

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:20 pm

The rebel frowned, his confusion overcoming his pain for the moment. "What are you talking about?" he demanded. "You took Kemen. We haven't seen him since you left here."

The Imperial Knight frowned. "What about Barnes?" she persisted.

The rebel gave up trying to reach his weapon. He rolled on his back and glared up at her. "How should I know? We haven't done anything with him. Most of our people abandoned this warehouse when you took Kemen, and it's been comm silence since then. All I know is that you promised us a peaceful resolution, but here you are, trying to kill us." He spat at her, but the spittle mostly rained back down on him. "Do us a favor and finish it quick."

Before Pryde could reply, or pursue more inquiries, Berk Carlisle interrupted from behind her, "Don't."

In his right hand, the criminal wielded an FWG-5 flechette pistol. In his left, he held a small thermal detonator, probably only strong enough to take out the warehouse; his thumb depressed the dead man's switch on the grenade. He looked menacingly at the Imperial Knight. "I've been keeping an ear to the ground since you left, Imperial. Trust me, these fools don't know what's going on. But I do. And if you want anything out of me, you'll want to put that lightsaber away."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:14 am

Sierra glanced over her shoulder at him, her eyes taking in the pistol and the grenade. Finally, she disengaged her lightsaber and tossed it aside. "Something has gone terribly wrong," she explained, "Someone attacked the convoy and rescued Kemen. We thought the rebels had betrayed us, but...," she let her words trail off. If no one here knew about the rescue then it meant that someone else had orchestrated it on their own.

Slowly, with her hands where he could see them she turned to face Berk. "I have just one chance to set things right, but I need to find Kemen to make it happen."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:16 pm

"The rebels didn't attack the convoy," Carlisle replied, "They'd never risk hurting Kemen." He lowered the pistol, but his other hand remained firmly on the thermal detonator.

"Then who did?" Pryde asked, ignoring the distrust Carlisle showed for the moment.

Carlisle frowned. "The Jedi. Or fallen Jedi, or whatever you people call them. Vidar." He shrugged a little as he holstered the flechette pistol. "I think he acted alone. I don't have a lot of sources on it, but I do know that he was headed that way shortly before the incident. I haven't been able to track down Swinth, though, so she might have helped him." He walked slowly to where the Imperial Knight's lightsaber had rolled and picked it up. "As for Barnes, that was a particular rebel cell, completely disconnected from this one. They believed that they could barter for Kemen's release if they had a big enough bargaining chip." He glanced at Pryde with a sneer. "They have no idea who they're dealing with. Even if Vidar hadn't broken Kemen out, your boss would never have made that kind of a deal. No negotiating with terrorists, you know."

"He's not my boss," Pryde objected.

"If you want to prove that to me," Carlisle said pointedly, "Find Kemen and bring him to my bar, alive. Kemen will know where that is. We can work out next steps from here."

"I came here looking for Kemen," Pryde pointed out, "How do you expect me to find him?"

Carlisle smiled humorlessly. "The Sith broke out with him. Use your magical powers, Imperial Knight. Track down Vidar, or Consecrai, or both, and you'll find Kemen. Then Kemen will bring you to me, and with a little bit of luck, we can resolve this without further casualties." She looked incredulous, so he continued, "I may be a criminal, but I'm also a businessman, and genocide is bad for business."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:40 pm

Radek had told Swinth to contact the group that had kidnapped Barnes. Told them to keep him quiet, and keep him safe.

And then he and Eirian set out to rescue him.

Radek knew that Helstone would have teams out looking for him, and for his accomplices, including both Consecrai and Kemen. He hoped that the Sith lady was keeping Kemen out of sight and out of danger. Men like Kemen were the only hope for restoring real peace to the world he had thrown into turmoil. He also knew that Helstone was tasked with rescuing Leland Barnes himself, which meant that Radek had to beat him to it for the bargaining power.

On the way, he and Eirian hatched a plan to make it work. If Radek had still been a mercenary, and he had been offered a mission with that plan, he'd have refused. He would say something like, "That sounds like a plan written in bantha poodoo on a paper napkin," and he would have walked away. And he probably would have been right. But Radek had become a Jedi, and he had seen the power of the Force, and he knew that the plan was workable. It hinged on a dozen different variables, but if everything came through just right, then the revolution could be stopped and millions of lives could be saved.

Any other fortuitous blessings, such as his own personal safety, would be a bonus, albeit a little unlikely.

He did wish to escape, not out of some misguided sense of value, but only in the hope that he might redeem himself for this. He had taken a great gift and squandered it in selfish pursuits, trying to kill others just to spread a message that the Empire would stop cold on the HoloNet. No one would ever hear his version unless they already believed it. But he knew that deep down, the message had been irrelevant; he hadn't cared one whit about telling others the Empire was evil.

All he had wanted to do was hurt those who had hurt him. He had been motivated by nothing but petty vengeance.

Those realizations had stung, but as the seconds turned to minutes, and the minutes turned to hours, and the hours turned into a day and a half, he was able to swallow his pride and face his demons. It was time to do the unthinkable: rescue an Imperial lapdog from the hands of rebels and return him safely, in exchange for tenuous peace with one of the most brutal generals in the Galactic Empire.

The route he and Swinth took from the sewer to the rebel hideout was mostly underground. They took a few flights of stairs and sprinted across a few roadways, which were mostly abandoned in the advent of martial law. Helstone was not moving as quickly as Radek had anticipated, but he had certainly taken control of the local government. Maybe he had been willing to give the Imperial Knight, Pryde, a chance. In any case, it gave Radek and Swinth time to complete their new mission. It was time they sorely needed; the city was not overly large, given its industrial roots and high population, but the need for secrecy and the indirect paths offered by an aged and over-complicated sewer system prevented the speed Radek wanted. By the time they came to the hideout, they had only thirty galactic standard hours before the arrival of Hellion Company and General Helstone's invasion of a seditious world - although Radek remained blissfully unaware of that eventuality.

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:53 am

Sierra frowned, she needed to find Kemen and bring him back to Helstone not to Carlisle's bar. What good would that do? But perhaps he was right, Sierra remembered Helstone's reaction to the rebel attack. If she brought in Kemen now he would no doubt lock him away in the deepest, darkest cell he could find. Kemen would never see the light of day and the people of Bescane would never get the improvements they deserve. In the end Galentro wins and Sierra didn't want to see that happen anymore than Berk did.

"Fine," she said finally, "I will find Kemen and bring him to you, but whatever you have planned had better be convincing. We have three days until Hellion Company arrives and Helstone turns this whole neighborhood into slag."

"Then you better work fast," Carlisle replied.

Sierra summoned her lightsaber to her hand then spun on her heel and sprinted out the door. Tracking a Force user through the Force was generally an easy task so long as the target was not masking their presence. Unfortunately, there was no way for her to tell which Force user she was tracking. Right now she could feel the presence of two Jedi and either one of them could be Consecrai, she didn't know which. She hadn't known either Vidar or Consecrai long enough to recognize their presence through the Force so all she could do was pick the closer one and hope for the best...

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:26 pm

"Where are we going?"

Kemen was not the sort of man to go quietly along with anyone, even if they had just saved his life. Even if he did not need to be in control, he at least needed to be in the know.

"We need to get you someplace safe," Consecrai explained, "Maybe even offworld."

Kemen boldly grabbed her arm, turning her around. "I'm not leaving Bescane," he said firmly.

She believed him. "Fine," she answered, "But out of sight, at least for a while. Vidar wants to kill you, and I don't think the Imperials have good plans for you, either."

She turned again and continued down the tunnel. They were still in the sewers, but had been walking for a long time. Kemen had barely been familiar with the intricate sewer network in Lumchugger's Hub, and even if he had known it perfectly, he suspected he would have been lost by now. "How do you know where we're going?" he asked.

He had obliviously missed the implication that Consecrai preferred silence in a situation like this. Vidar would be awake by now, maybe tracking them. He did not have the ComTac implant she had, which allowed her to map her surroundings better than even if she had the blueprints right in front of her, but he was resourceful, and he had the Force on his side, so he might be able to keep up. "That's not important," she dodged.

"Are we meeting someone, then? Do you have a friend who can hide us?"

She suppressed a sigh. "I wouldn't call him a friend," she answered. She led them into a dead-end passage with only one way in; it also had a grate leading to some more tunnels below them. A quick cut with her lightsaber would produce an alternative exit if someone found them, without providing any easy access for those pursuers. And Vidar could only come from one place at a time, so she was not especially worried about him.

"Rest here for a few minutes," she said, then she walked back down the tunnel until she was sure Kemen would have trouble hearing her. She activated her implant, including the comm puncher to break through the interference of the tunnels. She linked to the Chagrian she had met when she first arrived. The connection was relatively secure; no one would pick up on it who wasn't looking for it, and there were several light layers of encryption; she didn't have time to wait for the unit to establish more security measures.

A short, sweaty conversation about escape options, hiding places, and financial restitution later, and she was back in the tunnel with Kemen.

"Well?" he asked, "Any news?"

"Maybe," she answered cryptically. She wasn't lying; she was working on a plan, but they did not have a lot of options.

* * * * *

Six hours after he had sent the Imperial Knight Sierra Pryde on her mission, Berk Carlisle sat in the office of his bar, the Bookie Crumbles. It was the same office where Kemen and Swinth and-- Vidar had met him, not that long ago. There had been a lot of high and mighty promises then - if only he would sign on, Kemen all but promised him the first presidency of an independent Bescane, not to mention all the money and power that came with funding a successful revolution. With the right leverage, he could probably take over Galentro from Barnes without a lot of resistance. Carlisle tried to imagine what it would be like to rule Bescane, control Galentro, and lord it over the Imperial officials who had once pestered his many business ventures. He would be the big man on top, and nobody - not even Kemen - could have stopped him from doing whatever he wanted.

Now things had all gone to hell, and he had set up a deal with Pryde to get Kemen back here. They were supposed to come up with a new plan. And that was in spite of the fact that some rogue rebel cell had kidnapped Leland Barnes, which surely infuriated Helstone, and the fact that Vidar had managed to ruin everything by rescuing Kemen when the stupid idealist hadn't even wanted to be rescued. The rebellion was circling the drain, and even if they came up with a shot in the arm to revitalize it, Carlisle wasn't sure the revolution was worth saving. They had no contact with or control over Barnes' kidnappers, and even if they did, he was hardly the bargaining chip with Helstone that the fools thought. After all, the Empire could replace Barnes, but they couldn't replace Bescane. So, when Kemen got there, they would have to come up with some kind of diplomatic plan to save Bescane and make this whole ordeal worthwhile.

But the more Carlisle sat there and thought about it all, the more he realized that there was only one way to make this rebellion worth his while.

He tapped a few commands into his HoloNet console. After a few moments, a holographic face materialized in front of him.

"You have reached--"

"Connect me to General Helstone immediately," Carlisle interrupted, "Tell him I can deliver Alan Kemen and Leland Barnes."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:31 pm

There was a short delay before Helstone’s image replaced the rotating Imperial logo that indicated that the line was busy.

Helstone was not a man known for his sense of humor and very little had been making him laugh lately, so there was no attempt on his part to disguise his irritation. “Berk Carlisle,” he said by way of greeting, “the only reason you’re talking to me now is because I’ve already read over the information Imperial Intelligence has on you. I recognize that beings in your kind of position can make things happen that my army can’t. I trust I don’t have to warn you about wasting my time.”

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:10 pm

"Nor you mine, General," Carlisle replied amiably. "I can supply you with Kemen, Barnes, and the three operatives primarily responsible for all your troubles. But I don't do things for free." He paused, knowing that Helstone would expect a credit figure, but Carlisle was not about to supply such a simple solution. "Kemen promised me political power after his coup if I signed on with him, but I don't expect that can be supplied so easily - by him or by you. But my operations could use the financial backing and legitimacy that comes from owning a significant portion of a major industrial company."

Helstone concluded, "You want me to guarantee you shares in Galentro?"

Carlisle smiled. "I suspect that Mr. Barnes will be especially grateful to whoever rescues him from those barbaric vagabonds, General. I just want you to explain to him who it was that saved his life." He pursed his lips for a moment. "Oh," he added, "and two hundred thousand credits should seal the deal from there."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Halomek » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:17 pm

Helstone didn’t even bat an eye at the price. Such things were inconsequential to him. “Make good on your boasts and I’ll see to it personally that your demands are fulfilled.” The General then smiled a bit, though there was no warmth at all in the expression. “That is, of course, assuming that you’re able to do so before my Hellions arrive. Then I settle this grating little insurrection my way and all deals are off. I trust that’s clear? Contact me again when you have them and not a moment before.”

Helstone then cut the connection without a further word of goodbye.

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Tue May 07, 2013 10:38 pm

Consecrai was momentarily distracted as she became aware that someone was tracking her. Was it Radek? Or the Imperial? There was no way to tell and either one of them would be bad. Her concern right now was keeping Kemen alive, a goal made difficult by the sheer number of people who were now hunting him. She tried to mask her presence in the Force but by now it was too late. Whoever was tracking them already had a solid lead on their position and they were very close by. Consecrai mentally berated herself for not thinking to hide earlier.

"Is something wrong," Kemen asked, drawing her awareness back to the present.

"Stay here," she said and in an instant she was gone.

Kemen was alone in the sewer, a lump forming in his throat as he fought to control his nerves. In the distance he could hear footsteps approaching him and every step made his heart thump louder. From around a bend further down the tunnel a familiar figure appeared. For a moment Sierra seemed relieved to see him, but then her expression changed entirely when a red lightsaber suddenly snapped into existence mere inches from her neck.

Consecrai had her arm pinned and her saber poised to quickly end Sierra's life. The Imperial Knight resisted the urge to fight back and quickly shouted, "I come in peace!"

"I determine that," Consecrai hissed, edging her saber ever closer to Sierra's skin.

"Carlisle sent me," Sierra blurted out, hoping that would give the Sith witch pause. "He wanted me to find Kemen and then bring him back to him."

"Why would you work with Carlisle," Consecrai asked, then she jerked Sierra's arm causing the girl to shriek in pain, "Speak!"

"Thirty hours," the girl managed to say through gritted teeth, "Thirty hours is all we have left before Hellion arrives. Helstone will level this entire district looking for Kemen if I don't bring him back. Carlisle has a plan, a plan to end this peacefully. I agreed to let him try."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Fri May 17, 2013 8:57 pm

Consecrai frowned. She did not trust the crime boss, or his plan. With a little maneuvering, though, her plan would work just as well - or perhaps even better - from Carlisle's location on the surface. If push came to shove, she and Kemen could still escape.

"Alright," she said at last, deactivating her lightsaber and standing down, "Lead on."

* * * * *

Radek rapped hard on the warehouse door. There was a shuffle, then silence. One awkward voice called out, as gruffly as the rebel could muster, "Who's there?"

"Civil inspector," Radek replied, "Your safety certificate expired last week. I need to do an inspection. Open up." He was dressed in a jumpsuit that he and Swinth had pilfered from a repulsorcraft parked near a construction site. The nametag read "Madge."

Some more shuffling. Some scrambling. "Hold on!" the speaker called out again. "Just a minute!"

"Open the door," Radek ordered, "Don't make me call one of these Stormtrooper squads over here to open it for you."

"We're using the loadlifter!" the speaker yelled hurriedly, "We'll be there in a sec!"

"Make it quick," Radek returned grumpily. They did not. Radek reached out with the Force to keep tabs on them. Three were rushing a fourth into a back room. Two more were trying to look busy in the main hall. A seventh was moving hesitantly toward the door. Making sure Barnes was out of sight before letting anyone in, probably.

At last, the door opened. The rebel was casually dressed and had at least three nervous tics going off; his right eye twitched, his shoulders could not seem to sit still, and he was wringing his hands as though they were covered in poison and he was all out of soap. "Why is this happening now?" he asked with a whine, "I thought the Imperials established martial law."

"You think a few Stormtroopers can stop a bureaucracy?" Radek demanded. It was true. While he was not personally a civil inspector, he knew that somewhere on Bescane, someone was getting a safety inspection, someone was getting fined, and someone was getting taxed. "We're backed up as it is. We can't stop the world just because some nut-jobs are getting riled up."

The rebel frowned at being called a nut-job. He would probably be one of the worst sabacc players ever. Radek looked around the warehouse as he entered. There wasn't even a loadlifter in the building. This guy wasn't even a good liar.

"You haven't been keeping all entryways clear," he said, gesturing to some unlabeled crates about eight feet from the door he had just entered, "All material must be at least fifteen feet from entrances and exits, in case of emergencies." He was making stuff up as he went along. If they were all as bad at lying as the first he had met, they probably wouldn't even notice an instance of good lying. "That'll dock you a few points," he added with a grimace, tapping on his datapad with a stylus. The 'pad was completely blank, of course.

"I don't remember hearing anything about that," one of the pseudo-workers shot back.

"Really?" Radek replied, "Did you get a degree in building codes from the best school on Bescane? Oh, that's right - that was me." He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Don't get yourself in a tizz," he added, "It'll take more than that to lose your certificate. Just hope that you've got your--" He stopped, looking toward a pile of crates near a window. "Oh, no," he said, "You've got those crates stacked too high. Any material near a window cannot be stacked higher than the bottom of the window."

"Why is that unsafe?" the door-opener demanded.

Radek looked at him disdainfully. "Please," he said, "Because someone could be walking by that window, and it might fall out onto them. You don't want a lawsuit like that, do you?"

"No," the rebel mumbled back.

Radek shook his head and tapped his datapad some more as he made his way toward the back office. The three rebels seemed to fidget more than before, though it seemed impossible. "Uh-oh," he said, looking at the floor.

"What now?" said the other pseudo-worker, who had not spoken until now.

"The floor," Radek answered, his tone and expression indicating that the problem was obvious.

"What about it?" the man asked.

"What, you don't see it?" Radek demanded. The guy looked at the floor, then back at Radek, his face twisted in incredulity. "Come on," Radek said, "It's obvious." He gestured widely toward the floor. "You call this safe?"

The man was about to respond again when the door-opener interjected, "No! Sorry. We'll get it fixed as soon as possible." The other men looked at him, but the door-opener warned them off with a shake of his head. It was hardly subtle. Radek resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

"You'd better," he replied, "One more thing to check, then I'll be out of your hair for thirty days. That's your grace period to get all this stuff fixed." He headed straight for the back room.

"Wait!" called out the door-opener, "You can't go in there. That's... that's a private office."

Radek frowned. "My job is to inspect the building. Is it in the building?"

"Well, yes, but--"

"Then I have to inspect it." He turned around and was reaching for the door panel when something heavy hit him on the back of the head.

All according to plan. Except that the pseudo-worker hadn't hit him quite hard enough. Now, as he pretended to pass out, Radek did roll his eyes.

A few minutes later, they had dragged him into the back office and tied him to a chair. He waited until they had calmed down and most had returned to the main room that he slowly opened his eyes. About six feet away, tied to another chair, was Leland Barnes. He was also gagged; evidently, he had been quite vocal about his abduction. The other person in the room, leaning on the desk, was the leader of the cell that had kidnapped Barnes; Radek recognized him from a number of "wanted" holos he and Swinth had passed. Carlisle was apparently not the first crime boss Kemen had brought into the fold, and this one was happy to use his resources to support the revolution - but his infamy made him a little too renowned to show his face all the time, which was why the peons had been fielding the civil inspector issue. Radek was almost glad to realize that there was someone competent in this kidnapping enterprise.

"I apologize for your predicament," the crime boss, whose name was Skald Firina, said gently. "I hope you understand that we have nothing against you personally. As soon as our situation is resolved, you'll be free to go."

"Situation?" Radek asked, "What do you mean?" Barnes tried to say something, but the adhesive strip over his mouth muffled it into nonsense. Radek nodded toward the entrepreneur. "Is that Leland Barnes?" he asked.

Skald looked at Barnes, then back at Radek. "Yes, it is," he answered without explanation.

Radek furrowed his brow. "What about you? Have I seen you somewhere before?"

Skald shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not. The important thing here is you. Your comlink has been beeping for some time," he said, holding up the device, "We need you to contact your superiors, come up with a legitimate reason for you not to return right away. Then you'll stay here for a day, maybe two, and then we'll let you go on your merry way." There was something in Skald's eyes that told Radek that, if it were up to the crime boss, he would never breathe fresh air again. "Deal?"

Radek nodded. "Fine. It's not like I have any choice, right?" Skald stepped closer and held the comlink next to Radek's mouth; he clicked it on. "Go for Madge," the former Jedi said.

"Where the hell have you been?" a woman's voice shot back.

"Haz-mat spilled and got on my arm," he answered, "Headed to the hospital. I'll probably be out for the next forty-five hours."

"Copy that, Madge," the woman replied, "Get better."

"Will do. Madge out."

Skald clicked off the comlink and set it on the desk. "Thank you." (Five.) Then he drew a blaster pistol, turned, and aimed it at Radek's head. "I'm sorry, Madge," he said, "But I was lying." (Ten.)

"No!" Radek replied, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Don't shoot me! I can help you! Please!" (Fifteen.)

Skald frowned. "How could you possibly help me?"

"I'm a bureaucrat!" Radek replied. (Twenty.) "I know how the system works! Whatever it is you're trying to accomplish, I can help make it happen!" (Twenty-five.) "Just give me a chance! I can get the gears moving in the government out there! I can negotiate with them!" (Thirty.) "I'll get you whatever you want! Just let me live!"

Skald shook his head. "Sorry, Madge, I don't think so. I just can't afford the risk." (Thirty-five.)

"Please!" Radek yelled. "I'm begging you, man! I've got a wife! Kids! I swear I won't tell anyone what I saw here! I didn't see anything!" (Forty.)

He took steady aim. Suddenly, Radek kicked off the floor, sending his chair careening over backwards. He landed hard, but he managed to keep his head from striking the floor. (Forty-five.)

Skald stepped closer, then aimed the pistol at him again. "Idiot."

Radek called on the Force and sent a blast of energy toward the crime boss. Skald's shot went wild, ricocheting off a light fixture, and he tumbled backward until he collided with the back wall, which was adjacent to the street. "What the--?" he began, but he never finished. With a scream of durasteel and an explosion of pulverized ferrocrete, a fifteen-ton freight hovertruck tore through that wall. There wasn't much left of Skald when it came to a stop.

Though the dust burned his eyes, Radek forced himself to keep them open. Swinth jumped down from the truck cab and cut him free. "Fifty-two?" the former Jedi shouted at her, "I clearly said forty-five. What the hell is wrong with your hearing?"

"Nothing!" Swinth retorted, "How was I supposed to know how long it would take to get here? It's not like we practiced this."

Standing, Radek shook his limbs to loosen them. Swinth ran to the door and locked it - just in time, apparently, as pounding from the other side ensued. Radek went to release Barnes.

"Radek!" Swinth said, drawing his attention. She pointed at Barnes. Standing behind him, Radek glanced down at the man. The ricochet from Skald's wild shot had pierced his torso.

Swinth stepped closer and checked the businessman's vitals. She looked up with despair in her expression. "He's dead."

Radek cursed, "Oh, kark."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:18 am

Sierra glanced first at Kemen then at Consecrai. Kemen seemed to trust her but the dark Jedi was another matter. She watched Sierra with suspicion in her eyes and deliberately waited for the Imperial Knight to take the first step before following her from behind. Sierra resigned herself with a sigh then spun on her heel and led the two down the sewer shaft in the direction of Carlisle's bar.

For the most part they walked in silence but something irked at Sierra and she needed an answer. "What happened, Kemen," she asked suddenly, "I thought your people wanted to end this peacefully."

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:22 pm

Kemen answered, "It wasn't my choice." He glanced at Consecrai, then explained, "The Jedi, Vidar--he was the one behind the escape plan. He's been lying about more than just his name and his background. He's been manipulating this situation from the start, and not because he wants the rebellion to succeed." He sighed, clearly exhausted. "I almost don't want to hear what Berk has planned. I just want all of this to be over." He glanced at Sierra, pleading with his eyes. "Can you stop Helstone from destroying us? My people don't deserve to be punished for this. Two men are responsible for this situation: me and Vidar. And I'll give myself to Helstone."

"You don't have to do that," Consecrai pointed out.

"Yes, I do!" the man snapped. He seemed much older now than he had before. In the dim light of the tunnel system, his hair looked grayer, and his skin wrinkled in the shadows. His shoulders sagged under some invisible weight, and his stride was short and sluggish. "I started this war," he continued, "and it's time for Helstone to restore the peace. Better that he do it with one head than a million."

Sierra reminded them how little time they had left. If they were going to stop Helstone from unleashing Hellion Company, they had to move, and quickly.

* * * * *

"What do we do now?" Swinth asked again.

Radek held his head in his hands. Slumped down and dejected, sitting on the floor, elbows on his knees, shaking his head forced him to lean to his left, then his right. "I don't know," he said.

The pounding on the door intensified. Radek was surprised it could get any louder after five minutes. He expected the rebels' arms to have weakened by now.

"We can't give up," Swinth argued.

He jumped to his feet, snarling, "What would you have me do, Eirian? Do you have some grand plan? Because I'm fresh out!"

"I don't know!" she snapped, "Do another surgical strike, or something! Take out Helstone, the way you rescued Alan."

"What would that accomplish?" he shot back. Dropping back to the ground, he said, "The Empire would just send another general."

"But it would give us time! Time to escape, time to rally!"

Radek shook his head. His skull pounded. Or was that the door? He pointed to the latter. "We don't have any time left, Eirian. I got exactly what I wanted. Bescane is going to burn."

She slapped him. "Snap out of it! This isn't helping anybody. Do you want to make up for what you've done? Then get up and do something about it!"

He looked at her. Nodded slowly. "You're right," he said, "I have to surrender myself to Helstone."

She held up a finger. "Now, wait!" she backpedaled, "That is not what I meant!"

He shook his head, more forcefully now. "It's the only option," he answered, "There's been a Sabacc Shift, and I may just be holding the Idiot's Array. Time to cash in before things shift again." He picked a blaster from the debris in the room, and went to the door. "Set for stun," he ordered Swinth; he noted her reluctance as she obeyed. Then he keyed open the door.

The pounding didn't stop. It was definitely in his head. He opened fire on the rebels outside the room, knocking them cold. Stepping over the limp forms, he and Swinth hurried away from the scene, which was finally drawing emergency vehicles. As they tucked the blasters into hidden spaces, Radek felt his lightsaber, tucked into his tunic, where he had hidden it before they left the sewer. He had been a Jedi, once; he had to make this right.

"How do you plan to contact him?" Swinth asked. "Helstone, I mean."

Radek shrugged a little. "I still have a comm frequency for the Imperial Knight. We just need to get a little closer to home before I make the call."

She grabbed his arm, stopping him. "Let's just go," she said, "You know I'm Republic Intelligence. I have all the necessary paperwork to get me and a guest offworld; just come with me, we'll finish up the passports and be on our way, first transport out. We'll make it through every check the Empire has in place. No one will be the wiser."

He shook his head. "I don't work for the New Republic, Eirian."

He tried to turn away, but she pulled at his arm sharply. "Come away with me, then!" she said, a hint of a sob in her throat. "Just you and me. We'll start over, as traders or smugglers or mercenaries or bounty hunters or whatever you want. Just don't waste your life on Helstone."

He grabbed her by the shoulders. He yelled, "Don't you think I want to leave? Don't you think I want to cut my losses and get the hell away from here?" He shook his head with a sneer. "I'm not doing this for you, or for Kemen, or Helstone--I'm doing it for Bescane. I plunged this world into chaos--me, by myself! You and Kemen would never have gotten past square one without me. I wanted to make this world burn under the Empire's thumb, so the Galaxy would see Thrawn and Helstone and all the rest for what they really are. Well, you accomplished your mission--production at Galentro is halted, for a spell. And I brought one of the Empire's hardest generals to a world full of people who don't even know what's about to happen to them, or why. I can stop this. I can make up for what I've done."

He let her go, and turned his back on her. "You don't have to come. In fact, you shouldn't. Use your documents, Eirian; get away from here. Tell your superiors about your success, and live to fight another day." Not looking back, he marched away from her, hoping he could get to Pryde and Helstone in time.

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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Archangel » Wed May 07, 2014 11:32 am

"Alan!" Carlisle exclaimed as Kemen, Pryde, and Consecrai entered the bar. Aside from Carlisle himself, the place was desolate. He was evidently willing to sacrifice his profits to have some privacy for their meeting.

Given that Kemen was a wanted Imperial fugitive, and neither Pryde nor Consecrai were subtle about their identities (at least not anymore), that was hardly surprising. Kemen did find it odd, though, that Carlisle had broken out some of his top-shelf liquor - Kemen thought he recognized a bottle of Savareen brandy, probably pre-Civil War, open on the bar. Carlisle was not one to waste such class on a man like Kemen, who neither wanted nor was fully able to appreciate it. He was celebrating something, and Kemen could not imagine what. Smiling through his suspicion, the diplomatic rebel embraced Carlisle's open arms. "How have you been, Carlisle?" he asked, as though it had been months since they had seen each other - though, in fact, it had only been about twenty-four hours. Without a solid night's rest, time had stretched on painfully.

Carlisle did not seem aware of that unpleasantness. His eyes were clear, his hair coiffed, his grip firm, and his smile unstrained by stress. He gestured to the bar, even bowing a little to the two female Forcers. "I'm so glad that you made it here. I was beginning to worry that the worst had happened." He poured another glass of the golden-brown brandy and offered it out to Kemen, but the man held up a hand, shaking his head in refusal. "Take a sip, man," Carlisle encouraged him, "It will soothe your nerves. You could use it." He held it out again.

Kemen snapped, "We haven't time for this, Berk!" He shoved the drink away; Carlisle went with it, spilling the drink all over the bar.

The criminal looked outraged. "Come on, man!" he yelled severely. "That glass alone was worth at least two hundred credits!"

Kemen was frustrated by Carlisle's manner; the crime boss seemed to be taking as much time as possible to say the simplest things. "Miss Pryde tells us you have a plan to work this out with General Helstone. From what I understand, we only have about twelve hours until his army arrives and all is lost. What do we do?"

Carlisle sighed, still obviously upset about the alcohol. To his credit, though, he stayed on-topic. Nodding slowly, he said, "I think that if we can arrange the safe return of Leland Barnes, Helstone will not do any more damage to this world, provided you and all of your associates enter his custody."

Kemen frowned. "That's not working this out. That's unconditional surrender."

Carlisle held up a hand. "No, no," he said, "I don't mean surrender. I mean temporary custody, for interrogation, to make sure you don't have any weapons cached or terrorist plots or anything. Once he sees that you're relatively harmless, he'll let you go. He might even encourage the local government to offer you some of the concessions you've been after. I understand that he's actually an honorable man, so long as you follow the law."

Kemen's frown deepened. "I'm not sure we've heard about the same General Teron Helstone."

Carlisle gave a winning lopsided smile. "Trust me, Alan. Everything will be fine."

Kemen furrowed his brow in suspicion. Something wasn't right. "Why aren't you angrier about the brandy?" he asked.

Carlisle looked confused. "What?"

"The brandy," Kemen answered, pointing at the bar. "I spilled it. It cost you a lot of money. We're not best friends, you and I, but I think I know you rather well. You're only drinking the brandy because you're celebrating, and you only wouldn't be upset about spilling it if you have enough money for another. So what aren't you telling us?"

Carlisle looked at each of them. Kemen was glaring at him. Pryde looked a little confused, or maybe surprised, or maybe just angry; Carlisle hadn't seen enough of her to be sure. Even Consecrai, for whom metaphysical senses in the Force were very weak indeed, seemed aware of his falsehood. Standing from his stool, he walked around to the other side of the bar. With a loose cloth in his left hand, he began to wipe up the brandy. "I suppose you're right," he replied slowly, "That was a little out of character for me. I should have been more careful." In a burst of energy, he drew a blaster from under the bar and leveled it at Kemen.

Consecrai's hand darted to her lightsaber, but Carlisle's call stopped her. "Hey! None of that!" He hefted the blaster and added, "This is set to max power - you try anything, and Kemen here won't even have a head. So back off!"

Kemen sighed. "Why are you doing this, Berk?"

Carlisle snapped back, "You think I'd give two womprat dung pellets about your little rebellion, Kemen? You made me a number of promises when I signed on, and it looks to me like the wind has changed, and you can't deliver! Helstone can, and in a few minutes, he will." He nodded at a comlink on the bar. "One of my boys saw you coming three blocks away, and Helstone is on his way. He and a contingent of white-hats should be here any minute." He glanced at each of them, striving to keep his weapon hand steady on Kemen. "You three just sit tight until he gets here, soong foonta?"

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Pryde
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Re: Being Trodden On

Post by Pryde » Wed May 07, 2014 12:49 pm

Sierra frowned, she knew she couldn't trust Carlisle from the start. The man was only out for himself and would step over as many corpses as he needed to in order to climb to the top. He was right about one thing, though, this would not end without the unconditional surrender of the rebels and the safe return of Leland Barnes. There was, however, one miscalculation he made and that was to trust Helstone. Greedy men were easy to manipulate and Sierra knew for a fact that Helstone harbored no intention of paying his debt to Carlisle. When the general arrived, Kemen, Consecrai and Berk Carlisle would all be thrown in chains.

"You're a shrewd man, Mr. Carlisle," she said, "but foolish."

"What are you talking about," the crook demanded.

"The Jedi and the rebel cell have attacked Imperial soldiers and kidnapped a state official. Right now this planet is officially in open rebellion and Helstone will not be satisfied with just Kemen and Leland Barnes. He'll want the location of every cell on the planet and the unconditional surrender of every rebel who has ever associated with or even assisted Alan Kemen. That includes you, Berk. You financed the rebellion, provided weapons and ammunition."

"Helstone and I have a deal..."

"The Empire doesn't make deals," Sierra interrupted him, "Especially not with a two-bit crook like you."

Carlisle's facial expression tightened but he refrained from saying anything. The man still believed his deal with Helstone carried some weight.

"Why are you even telling him this, isn't it your job to bring Kemen in?" Consecrai interjected, she couldn't understand why the Imperial Knight was wasting her time.

"Kemen's men are loyal to him," Sierra explained, "They'll come out of hiding if he asked them to, but he can't do that from behind bars. I need Kemen to convince his men to stand down and surrender themselves willingly. It's the only way to avoid any bloodshed. And," she added, turning her gaze back to the Sith, "I need to find the Jedi."

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