Tangled Webs

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Cadden
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Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:23 pm

What was it that drove him to do this? How come he had become such a machine, that he had surrendered all of his humanity, just to come down to this? Perhaps it was a means of revenge, of casting aside his own destiny because of something that had happened to this man.

The human thug was picked up by the collar, and wound up staring into the empty void behind the visor of the helmet. A helmet worn by few, and feared by many. Unlike the others, however, this one had a unique twist to it. Instead of being dull-colored with trims of another, such as green or blue, this one was the exact opposite. The man’s entire suit was red… blood-red, as red as human blood fresh from a wound, and what could be considered vulnerable spots, such as the majority of the man’s arms, were covered and, perhaps, protected with a black material.

His own reflection stared back at him, as the fear had overcome him. Who was this man? Was he even human, or was he alien… or even machine? He did not hold feelings, he had seemed to have cast them aside for a greater purpose, one of which was completely incomprehensible by one such as him. But, nevertheless, the face reflecting on the black visor simply stared back at him, and he could feel the cold metallic touch of the nozzle of a blaster against his neck.

"What... what did you do to the others?" he frantically asked the armored man, attempting to find an escape, but this one was good. Unlike the local militia, this single man had managed to penetrate their defenses, make his way down here, in the lower levels of their base of operations, and even get as far as him, the left-hand-man of the gang’s leader. But this was no ordinary gang, this gang had been a formidable threat to the people of Ord Mantell for quite some time, even the local police forces could not track them down. But one man, whom seemed to be a walking tank, had managed, and succeeded where others had failed.

"Their... resistance," the armor-clad individual spoke through his built-in microphone, overlapping his voice in the manner of a comm. system, spoke in a calm, cold demeanor, "was laughable. I cut through your defenses like a vibroblade cuts through cloth." The man’s fear escalated, and the face behind the helmet only smirked slightly. "Your so-called fortress has already fallen."

The man had gathered enough courage to crack a smile. "Then I will give you a word of caution," he said, his voice hinting growing fear behind those words. "Our leader will avenge all our deaths. You stand no chance."

"Strong words." The thug’s smile quickly faded. "It would be amusing to see him try to kill a man like me. You obviously have a small understanding of who I am, so I will enlighten you. Nothing will stop me, no amount of force, no volume of strength, no number of troops or ships. If you kill me, I will walk again, if you wound me, I will keep fighting. If you capture me, I will escape... there is no way around, or through me. Once you are a target, your fate is already sealed."

The man’s fear suddenly escalated, his fears and suspicions coming true. "What... what are you?"

"I am a man," the armor-clad individual responded, still emotionless, not faltering, and dead-serious, "you and your pathetic gang of mercenary thugs are no match for. And I will collect the bounty from your worthless hide." The man pulled the trigger, and let go of the now-limp body. "Names mean nothing to those who are dead," he announced to the lifeless thug. "They have no name for me, but those who cannot speak may hear of it... my name is Cadden Blackthorne. May your afterlife be tormented by it."

He turned, keeping his blaster carbine out. It was a weapon he had grown to favor since... well... since her... and one he had grown quite proficient at using. So... he was indeed not the leader, as he had suspected. But, that meant that there was still a way to the leader. He looked around for a moment, observing the surroundings. Ah... there. Such a pathetic attempt, and such a weak man to hide behind a wall of durasteel.

Walking to the secret doorway, Cadden felt around the wall for a way of entry, and searched for but a couple seconds until he found it. He pounded his fist against the hidden panel, allowing it to come loose, swinging outward, revealing a console. He keyed in a command, and the small display responded with a denied attempt error. He tried another, with the same result.

Two more tries later, however, the door slid open, and grinning, Cadden entered.

Only to be greeted by half a dozen thugs – two Trandoshans, a Rodian, a Weequay, two Humans, and a Zabrak. "Ah, the bounty hunter," a voice spoke from behind the thugs, whose blasters were pointed directly at Blackthorne. "Disarm yourself, now."

"I’m impressed," Cadden admitted, "but your attempt is futile, at best." It did not surprise him that his target would mount one last-second defense against him and his assault on their hideout, and with his assumptions came his preparedness for the inevitable. "I have nothing to gain from surrendering to the likes of you."

A firefight ensued, but was quickly over. The mercenaries had managed to get a couple shots off, but the majority of the shots, six of the ten total, had come from the blaster carbine Cadden was holding. Each shot was fired with a deadly precision, and the result was each of the thugs crippling to the duracrete floor. He brought up his carbine, aiming directly at the source of the sound. Another human, he noticed through his infrared vision, built-in to his helmeted visor.

"Now, now... don’t be so rash...."

"The bounty calls for you dead," Cadden responded. "They have no use of you behind bars. They just want you out of the picture. You have caused enough trouble around here for such pleasantries as prison.” He pulled the trigger one more time, and approached the man’s dead body. Taking out a holorecording device, Cadden flipped the corpse over and held it over his lifeless face. "Target, Juman Raskmin. Status, dead." He flipped off the recording device and discarded it. "The price on your head isn't much, but it will do." He got up, and made his way outside the facility, stopping and looking up at the midday sky.

Ord Mantell and he had no more business to attend to. Once he claimed his prize, he needed to leave the planet. There was nothing more for him here, and if he continued to linger, his past might catch up to him. And there was only one aspect he wouldn't mind seeing again. That was his ultimate prize, the real hunt. All this, it was just a means to an end. The real target was out there, somewhere, and he would continue hunting until death, if need be.

Nearly half an hour later, a single Firespray-31-class patrol and attack craft left the planet, and prepared its jump to lightspeed. The local patrols identified the ship as the Dark Shadow, belonging to a bounty hunter known only as "Nemesis," and allowed him his leave. Then, the ship burst forward into lightspeed.

The moniker was necessary, Cadden knew. As far as the galaxy was concerned, Cadden Blackthorne was dead, along with a majority of his forces back on Hoth. The Empire, he learned, went to great lengths to make sure their mission was fulfilled. In the commotion of the battle, he had managed to escape with his comrades. The facade made it appear as though they had all died, and there was no evidence to prove otherwise. It was at some point after their time on the ice world known as Talmohkt that Blackthorne returned to Hoth, to find that the Pursuer had survived the battle and was drifting in the Hoth asteroid field. He reacquired the ship and gave it its new alias. He also picked up two unplanned passengers; a Zabrak named Zartok Ular and his 2-1B surgical droid called 2X-RX.

His passengers, however, were typically constrained to his ship. The droid especially. When Cadden left Hoth behind for the second time in his life, he was reluctant to take them along, but he owed them for saving his life on Hoth. It was a debt he intended to pay off in full. He was unconcerned with Zartok revealing his identity, or stealing his ship. The former would get the Zabrak killed, and he knew it. So would the latter, the way the Pursuer's systems were rigged. And even if he managed to bypass them, Blackthorne would find him. He made that quite clear, and with the help of his training in the Force, he knew he struck a chord with Zartok that would prevent him from trying anything stupid.

He reflected upon the aftermath of the assistance of the group known as the Triad on Talmohkt, named so after the alliance of the three different independent settlements that came together to defeat Ulfik Nevekron and his Frozen Empire. The battle against Ulfik was not what caused the most pain. It was the fact that, when he woke up, she was not there. There was no note, no message, nobody even knew where she went or why. She just up and left.

Several years passed, and he still had not given up on her. She changed him, and her sudden disappearance changed him again. His life had been full of hatred, and vengeance, until he met her. She calmed him, helped him to deal with his past. But now, his past was catching back up to him, and old habits died hard. He no longer cared for compassion, or for justice. The galaxy took her away from him, and if need be, he would turn it inside out in his relentless search. She was probably dead, he figured, but he would not give up until he knew the truth.

Several days had passed before the ship dropped out of lightspeed before the planet Tatooine. He had received, and accepted, a contract for work here, and was intent on finishing the task set out before him.

__________

The dark streets of Mos Eiseley were quiet, almost abandoned. As the man continued to run down the alley, he spared a glance behind him, and noted that he had lost his pursuer. He knew that the shortcut through the marketplace would get him out of harm's way. Now, to make his way to the checkpoint.

Rounding the corner, however, he found himself face-to-face with his pursuer. "Im... impossible...." he muttered. He made a quick sprint, but tripped, and fell face-first into the dirty street. Trying to scramble away, he noticed a wire wrapped around his ankle, and muttered a curse. "Wh... what do you want?" he demanded.

"The local authorities put a price on your head," the masked man responded. "I'm here to collect."

He approached the man, scrambling to get to his feet, but he was too slow. Blackthorne picked him up by the collar and brought his free hand around, delivering a powerful blow against his jaw, knocking him out cold. The journey to the police station was short, and when the thug was turned in for the appropriate sum of credits, he made his way back to his ship.

Back onboard his ship, Cadden seated himself in the cockpit and brought up his computer display. A frown creased in response. He opened the new message. Unusually, it was an audio playback. The rough male voice began on the queue.

"Good day, Mr. Blackthorne,” the voice greeted with unnerving enthusiasm. He frowned once more. How did they know he was still alive, much less how to contact him? No one ever bothered to talk to a dead man. Against his better judgment, Cadden turned his focus to the cockpit controls, preparing the Puruser for lift-off. "We have a mission for you that is of great importance. My name is Melkin Lorray, and I work for a private organization known as the Triad.

"Let's just get right down to business, Mr. Blackthorne, shall we? I'll put all formalities aside. We have become aware that a small-time criminal organization is about to make a huge leap forward. They have discovered a substance that could, possibly, make them the most threatening force in the galaxy. A stimulant known only as Chronic. Like the name would suggest, this drug is supposedly able to increase its user’s every attribute. Speed, agility, stamina, intelligence... everything would be enhanced upon consumption. This group is believed to be researching into its use to create the ultimate warrior.

"The problem lies in that, if our investigations prove true, then even with a small sized army, these individuals could pose a threat of galactic proportion."

Cadden raising an eyebrow. A map appeared of a quadrant of the galaxy which was where the group was suspected to be hiding. "What a surprise. And I suppose you want me to go in, apprehend these criminals, secure the cargo, and return directly to you for my nice, handsom reward?"

"On contrary of such information, Mr. Blackthorne, you have been selected for a different duty." This was unexpected, and the man now had his full attention as the ship broke atmosphere. "During the past week, we’ve been receiving reports of murders galaxy-wide. It’s no coincidence these murders are linked to the Chronic case, and it is safe to say that the people responsible for the smuggling of the drug are working under someone else. Someone who can keep themselves hidden."

So, his job was a tad bit different than he thought. He had assumed a search for traces of Chronic, and dealing with those involved, but this was highly unlikely. "Therefore, Mr. Blackthorne, We are asking for you to personally investigate this matter. The map will provide you with the coordinates of where we believe they might be staging their smuggling runs. You should be able to trace them back from there."

Cadden observed the map for a moment. Carratos? he thought. What the hell is on Carratos that’d be so important to Chronic smugglers? Carratos was a planet in the Inner Rim, roughly 40 parsecs from Coruscant. It was a heavily urbanized world under Imperial control, with high taxes laid in place for purposes of those wishing to leave the world. Cadden also understood that it was becoming a strategic point of interest for Imperial operations in the Inner Rim territories.

"We have provided you will objective details and bounty rewards for various smugglers, as well as a substantial reward for their leader's capture," Melkin continued. "If you are willing to take on this assignment, respond to this frequency with the phrase, 'Standard Blue Milk Run'. I trust, Blackthorne, that you will not speak of our contact together. You are amongst the best in the business, I would hate to see your reputation come to an... unfortunate end." The transmission ended abruptly afterward.

Cadden leaned back in his chair. It was a wealth of information, which meant that they were sure he was going to accept. However, he also figured that, with the apparent resources that these fellows have at hand, they could take him down if he refused, or spoke of them to anybody.

"Survival of the fittest," he commented dryly, and proceeded to reply to the message.

OOC: I apologize if this is too dry, or riddled with inconsistencies. Please address anything you find with it via PM. I'm trying to revisit the previous incarnation, and I wanted to keep the introductory sequence mostly the same.

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Cadden
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:50 pm

OOC: Okay, Dahd wants me to do some more before he jumps in. So, here I go.

IC:

Carratos, a typical Imperial garrison of a world. Cadden observed the bustling inbound and outgoing traffic with little interest. The Empire taxed the residents heavily for leaving the world, and evidently encouraged those unfortunate enough to make this their destination to land freely. The ultimate money-making scheme.

Which warranted the question of how these Chronic smugglers were capable of operating on the world to begin with. With such a heavy garrison in place, it was hard to imagine anything happening underneath the Empire's noses, here. It would be the equivalence of housing a galaxy-renowned terrorist organization on Coruscant - it just doesn't work that way.

Then again, it was known to happen with the more well-organized criminal syndicates. According to the briefing, however, this did not seem like an organized attempt.

According to the briefing.

As his ship was tagged as a bounty hunting craft, Cadden received a text-based message from the local government. Evidently, there have been instances where supplies have... disappeared... from their freight lines. Cargo, foodstuffs, military weapons, everything of the sort. Recently, there were two nondescript metallic crates, fresh from the factory, carrying valuable cargo that had been stolen in orbit. No doubt away from the Empire's prying eyes, which meant that whatever was going on was well-coordinated to keep from being blown to space-dust by Imperial customs.

The bounty offered more than made up for the hassle of a side job it would have presented itself. Cadden decided that it would be a good way to lean in on this whole Chronic case, and opted to take the offer. He and a few others, he noticed, were already on the case. Checking the available names, he noted two from the Guild, and three independents, much like himself.

The outgoing starport would suffice as a place to start, and so Cadden plotted course for the whereabouts of the ship's origins on the surface below. He requested permission to dock, and began his approach.

The trip to the surface was uneventful. No attacks, no unusual activity, nothing. It was going to be a slow start, but he was confident that things would heat up the deeper he dug. There could have been a connection between this case of disappearing cargo and the Chronic smugglers, and if so, he could use that lead. Since the Chronic case was of invite only, it was solely the most reputable hunters, and those not occupied performing other tasks of equal or greater importance, that were assigned to the job. Which meant Cadden was stuck with the elite few in the trade. Less competition, but at greater volume. Wonderful odds.

As he touched down in the docking bay, Cadden unstrapped himself and made his way to the ship's entry hatch and descended down the built-in boarding ramp. There he met with the starport's officer, who requested a docking fee. Unlike the less appetizing sectors of the galaxy, however, this fee was reasonable, which prompted Cadden to cooperate and hand over the sum requested.

"There was a ship that left port some time ago," he mentioned, after ending the docking business. "It was carrying cargo which disappeared in orbit. What do you know about this?"

The man shrugged. "I know what the holonews reported," he responded earnestly. "Otherwise, you might wish to check with Operations." Cadden nodded, and made his way to the new destination at hand.

He had to go through security checks, of course, and much of his weaponry was confiscated. At least, that which could be detected. When he was deemed clean, Cadden was allowed escorted access into the Operations section of the starport. There, he prompted the same question to the officers running the location, and work was promptly made. Evidently, Cadden was not the first to ask. He'd have to catch up to the competition in order to make it to the mark first.

The information was relayed. It was a YT-1300, carrying private cargo of great worth. The reporting agency went by the name of Min-Tulskar Corp, a small-time manufacturing and shipping company of personal goods and items. Headquartered here on Carratos, it typically shipped items out daily, but with the increased pirate attacks, it was closer to twice a standard week.

It was as good a lead as any, and with the information in mind, Cadden proceeded back through the security check points, securing his weaponry in its place before heading out to take on the bounty.

Several leads were coming up dry, but Cadden was bound and determined to get to the bottom of the missing cargo case. He had even gone so far as to contact Min-Tulskar Corp about the missing cargo. They had given him little information, but also made sure not to disclose the contents which the freighter was carrying.

Annoyed at his lack of progress, Cadden ultimately decided there was only one way to get to the pirates. He found out from the docking records that another freighter was due to leave the planet later that day. The cargo could be deemed worthy enough of being picked up, which would be enough for him. It was a gamble, and if he lost, he would be way off-track. It was that or nothing.

"Zartok," to told the Zabrak, "I'm counting on you for this one."

The other looked up at him, after examining the evidence that was presented before him. He had to admit, bringing Zartok along with him had its benefits. A different perspective to find his leads came in handy, and brought him some lucrative work. The Zabrak mostly acted from the ship, providing him information as he found it through his personal comm. channel. This was the first time Blackthorne was entrusting him to his ship, however. A big leap, and one Zartok knew not to take lightly.

"I'm going up in orbit alone," he continued. "I will call you over the frequency when the ship is needed. Have it ready to go the second you receive my command."

"Of course," he told the bounty hunter. "The Pursuer will be there when you need it."

Cadden nodded, and left the ship behind. He made his way through the starport, inquiring for outgoing ship and their cargo, before he finally settled on an ideal match. Bartering with the pilot, he offered to pay the man twice his fee if Cadden's plan would not work. Reluctantly, the man agreed to the offer. He was already shook up with the possibility of being boarded right in orbit, as it was. Now, he had a notorious bounty hunter breathing down his back.

Cadden sat in a passenger's seat in the lounge for a time, as the ship lifted off and left the planet's atmosphere. When they entered orbit, he got up and proceeded to a less secure location for a hiding spot. He would need the element of surprise if he were to make it through this alive. Finding himself in the engine room, a place where only one man would look and not two, Cadden waited patiently for the trap to be sprung.

Soon enough, he could feel the ship vibrating under the pressure of a tractor beam, and the bounty hunter grinned. That's right, he thought. You'll soon find this is the last cargo you'll ever take on.

Cadden mentally counted down the seconds. The boarding ramp lowered. The footsteps arrived. He listened as they worked their way into the cockpit and, harshly, interrogated the pilot. By the sounds of it, he was lucky, they left him alive. The boarding crew continued to inspect the ship, until they came to the engine room.

Sithspit, Cadden mused. Both of the boarding crew were here. He was going to have to do things the hard way.

The door opened, and two blaster shots could be heard from the docking bay. Then the bay went into a frenzy. Cadden sprung from his position, blaster carbine in hand, and sprinted for the boarding ramp. "Get out of here, while there's still time!" he yelled to the pilot. He already had an escape planned, it was only a matter of timing. As for the captain... well, he may have been a notorious bounty hunter, but that did not mean he lacked a conscience. Without waiting for a reply, Cadden bolted out of the ship, took aim, and fired at the pirates who were still scattering for cover.

The return fire was inevitable, and Cadden activated his jetpack to get out of the way. He landed on a raised platform, took aim, and fired down on those exposed before him. That marked five kills, ten to go. He continued to move, to avoid return fire, as he made his way to another vantage point to take on more of his adversaries. As he ran across the catwalk, Cadden took aim and fired at two pirates who were unfortunate enough to not be as fast as he was. Cadden vaulted himself on the top of the freighter, which had just begun to power up its engines, and proceeded to sprint across to the other side, landing on the ground, and rolling away as the freighter lifted off.

He made no effort to make sure that the captain would get out safely, as Cadden was focused on his threat at hand; the pirates. The moved freighter exposed the position of four more individuals, whom Cadden quickly gunned down and took cover from his remaining four behind a large crate. There, he waited. Ten, nine, eight... he counted the seconds down to zero, then rolled around and took two pot-shots at the two pirates who were repositioning themselves. One laser blast hit a pirate in the neck, the other in the leg. He ducked behind once again and waited. This time longer, near a minute. Repeating the process, Cadden easily downed the remaining two pirates.

The wounded pirate was crawling for cover as Cadden approached. He gripped his nearby blaster pistol and pointed it at the bounty hunter, who in turn shot it out of his hand. The freighter had left, by now, and Cadden heavily doubted he would see the pilot again. Regardless, he made a mental note to find the pilot, and deliver his promise. Cadden always paid off his debts.

Cadden gripped the pirate by the collar and lifted him up to eye level. Or, in his case, visor level. The man was petrified. "Where's the cargo your crew has recently acquired?" he demanded through the voice distortion unit. The man hesitated to answer, and Cadden slammed him against a nearby crate. "Answer me!"

"It... it's in the aft cargo bay," the man replied, terrified. "No doubt... heavily guarded, by now." Cadden tossed the man aside and started for the docking bay exit. The Force warned him of the danger, and Cadden turned to see the man lifting his pistol. The pirate never got the chance to aim, as a single blaster bolt penetrated his chest.

Blackthorne left the now-unoccupied docking bay, en route to his destination.

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Dahdtoudi
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:59 pm

OOC- Sorry for the delay. I couldn't reuse as much from the old incarnation, and it's surprisingly difficult to write effectively while watching USA. Their shows are just so quirky! *ahem* Anyways...

IC-
Dahdtoudi sat slumped in the pilot’s seat of the Praetor, staring out into the emptiness of deep space. He was positioned near the edge of the system, the sweet spot just outside of Carratos’s gravitational pull: the jumping point. It’s also where pirates liked to make their move. Dahdtoudi hoped they would.

The Praetor sat in low orbit over the dark side of Carratos’s distant moon, almost completely powered down. Life support and passive sensors were the only primary systems active on board, and the ship was left unnervingly silent. It also made it extremely difficult to detect, hiding in the shadow of the moon. Any sensor readings would most likely be brushed off as debris stuck in the moon’s orbit.

As bored as he was just sitting and waiting, he had to admit it was a beautiful view. It was moments like these that makes one realize how the simple vastness of space can be underestimated in a galactic economy.

The hunter was pulled from his reverie by a beep from his sensor scopes. Dahdtoudi sat up in his seat and leaned over the terminal. There was the freighter, right on cue. Back on Carratos, after a little bit of investigative legwork, Dahdtoudi had paid off a low-level traffic controller for the freighter’s scheduled flight path. The register at Carratos’s customs office identified the freighter’s cargo as valuable. With the recent trend, pirates had hit almost all ships carrying similarly valuable cargo. Dahdtoudi had a strong suspicion this one would be no different. The look of fear in the clerk at the customs office that Dahdtoudi had a hunch had been selling trade manifests to certain less than reputable captains made the hunter feel the tip off about today’s pirate raid had been sincere.

Sure enough, Dahdtoudi’s scopes picked up a second reading coming around the far side of the moon, and fast. The local authorities were conveniently nowhere to be seen. “Showtime,” Dahdtoudi said quietly to himself, smiling in the darkness of the Maccrow’s cockpit. The pirates already had a head start and the hunter would have to work to catch them before the slipped away. Dahdtoudi quickly keyed several toggle switches and the Praetor roared to life obediently, rapidly breaking orbit in order to intercept the pirate raid.

Once the Praetor’s systems were back up to a hundred percent, Dahdtoudi was able to glean some more specifics on the situation he was about to storm into. The pirate’s ship was larger than most, with a cargo bay large enough to swallow up most medium sized freighters. Perfect for snatch and grab operations. Modified engines provided increased speed and power, pulling double duty to intercept freighters before they can get away and to get away before any authorities can interfere. The weapon systems were what was to be expected. Enough to decimate a small freighter but was no match for a military vessel of a comparable size. The Praetor was neither, and the maneuver Dahdtoudi had planned was risky, even for someone like him. One slip and he would either be gunned down or slam into the side of the pirates at break neck speeds.

As Dahdtoudi grew closer to the pirates, he could see the small freighter they targeted get swept inside the larger ship. With a few key strokes, Dahdtoudi dumped power from the Praetor’s weapons and rear shielding into its forward shields and engine control before tightening his grip on the control yoke. “Here goes,” he murmured to himself as a kind of final prayer.

As he closed on the pirate vessel, he could see some of its weapons focus on him. But the engines had yet to power up. The pirates weren’t running like they should, and the weapons were slow to react, firing lazily at the Praetor and even then, only briefly. Dahdtoudi easily rolled and weaved around them before they stopped all together. It wasn’t the greeting he expected, but he realized it too late to make a gentle landing. Pulling up sharply, Dahdtoudi slammed the ship into full reverse and extended the landing gear. At the last moment, the hunter cut the engines and crossed his arms over his chest, wrapping his hands over his shoulders in the crash position. The impact threw Dahdtoudi into the control cluster, but landing gear’s maglocks held and the Praetor clung to the hull of the pirate cruiser.

Dahdtoudi groaned as he pulled his face off the front of a console. His flight harness would’ve been a good idea. Shaking his head, he pushed himself back and into the Preator’s hold to suit up. Moments later, the ship’s airlock cycled and Dahdtoudi drifted out towards the pirates’ ship. His maglock boots latched to the hull with a heavy clunk. He was more vulnerable now than ever, and only had so much atmosphere stored in his suit. The hunter could see the pirates' airlock from where he was, and carefully ducked out from under his ship to make his way. He needed to take a chance for the sake of speed. His boots disconnected from the hull, and gently, Dahdtoudi pushed himself through the emptiness of space towards the airlock.

Silently the hunter glided within reach of the ship's hull, covering ground he'd never be able to make on foot. It only took moments before he was grappling with the linkage surrounding the airlock, and with the use of an automated slicer unit, the lock cycled open and he was inside.

As his boots clanked heavily on the metal plated floor, Dahdtoudi began cycling through sensor modes, scanning around for anything looking for trouble, and listening. There was some sort of chaos happening on the other side of the ship. The faint ring of blaster fire reverberated through the hull, and his passage through the ship was unabated. Someone, somewhere, was having a bad day.

The hatch in front of Dahdtoudi slid open, and the hunter had to duck to pass through it. Just in front of him, two pirates were crouching behind a box, blasters ready, hawkish eyes peering over, searching for a target. Dahdtoudi cocked his head to the side curiously. They were facing the wrong way, their backs turned to him. They were expecting company from the other side.

But the sound of the airlock opening and the heavy boot fall of Dahdtoudi’s power armor got their attention. Shocked to see the armored hulk suddenly standing behind them, one tried to bring his blaster to bear, but Dahdtoudi’s weapon was already up. The pirate was slammed into the crate from the blast, a smoldering crater where his chest cavity used to be. Before his partner could react, the mailed fist of Dahdtoudi’s backhand caught him under the jaw, launching him head over heels over the barrier and tumbling across the floor on the other side.

Further down the corridor, two more pirates quickly came around the corner to investigate the commotion, only to be hurled backwards by two more blasts from Dahdtoudi’s rifle. He could hear shouting deeper within the ship, rumbles of small explosions and the faint shriek of blasterfire. Someone was giving the pirates a run for their money, but that’s not what he was there for. He turned to the blast door the pirates had been guarding, to the rear cargo hold. Whatever it was, it was inside there.
I bet I have less than half as many posts as some of the people who've been here less than half as long as I have...

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Cadden
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:53 pm

Cadden fought his way down the main corridor of the cruiser, taking potshots at any pirate who dared to get in his way, before he came to what he could assume was the entrance to the rear cargo hold, based on the information Zartok had provided him from the Pursuer. Cadden opened the door, and made his way inside, taking note of the guards already downed. Cadden frowned. Someone else was here, and he was willing to bet a mutiny was out of the question. He ensured his blaster carbine was ready to dish out the punishment, as necessary. He suspected a fight to ensure the second he opened the door, and chances were it was not going to be pretty.

The door opened, and Cadden brought the blaster to bear, but refrained from pulling the trigger. Dahdtoudi. He worked with the other bounty hunter more times than he cared to remember. Their last encounter together did not end on very friendly terms, and Cadden had no reason to believe the other hunter forgot about it, either. But he did not refrain from shooting because of his kind nature, nor because of his doubt in his own abilities. Partially, it was because the other bounty hunter had armor that made it rather difficult to simply shoot him down. But that wasn't the primary reason; in the follow-through briefing, the Triad was kind enough to mention the fact that he was not the only one they hired for the job. They refused to disclose who the other hunter was, but somehow Cadden was not surprised to see Dahdtoudi on the case.

The other reason, however, that he did not shoot was because, at least at the moment, Dahdtoudi was not his enemy. Just his competition. No doubt the pirates would be converging on their location soon enough, and the last thing he needed was to be caught int eh middle of a firefight, and see his career come to a rather embarrassing end. He could just hear the holonet reports now. "Cadden Blackthorne, notorious bounty hunter, gunned down by two pirates in orbit above Carratos." Yeah... like Hell he would let that be his end. He resigned to the fact that, as much as he lamented the thought, they would have to work together on this one. And so they would need to work fast. While Cadden didn't mind fighting off the rest of these lowlifes, it was not part of the job, and they were small-fries, compared to the larger task at hand.

"Dahdtoudi," he repeated aloud. "Why am I not surprised to see you on this job?"

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:44 pm

Dahdtoudi inaudibly grumbled inside the heavy helmet of his exosuit. Of course it would be Cadden Blackthorne, the last man in the galaxy he wanted to see in any location, much less inside a hostile pirate ship near deep space. He kept the heavy blaster rifle in his hand leveled on Cadden's chest.

"That I'm here in general or here before you?" Dahdtoudi retorted.

He had hoped to find the cargo that Min-Tulskar's lost before being interrupted, but Cadden's terrible timing had been impeccable, as seemed to be the usual case with Blackthorne. But something didn't add up about him being here, though. Hiring multiple hunters was a common practice of certain organizations. It provided extra motivation to get the job done, and quickly; sort of like a performance enhancer. More bang for your buck. Which also made it a technique to save money. Get several low level hunters competing and hope for the best, or pay more for one experienced hunter to get the job done. Cadden and Dahdtoudi were anything but low level, and the organization that contacted Dahdtoudi was too organized and had too much intel to be broke. He assumed Cadden was here by their same bidding.

"Hunting pirates is a little bit petty, even for you, isn't it C?" Dahdtoudi quipped. "You have been gone for a while, I guess. Trying to get back on the wagon, are ya?"
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:26 pm

"You're one to talk," Cadden retorted. "I never figured you the type to bust a low-level operation such as this, yet here we are." It was anything but suspicious, but when Cadden took a job, he always saw it through to the end. He refused to indulge Dahdtoudi that he believed the pirate raids here were connected to the Chronic case, as he had already surmised that the other hunter was hired for the job. Finally, Blackthorne lowered his weapon. If they were going to get into a firefight, it would have started by now. He had to keep his guard up, however, not because of Dahdtoudi, but because of the others on the ship that neither hunter had neutralized yet. If he and Dahdtoudi continued to be at a standoff, and focus strictly on each other, then Force or not, they would still be caught off-guard when the pirates finally caught up with them.

"I'm not here to spill my life-story on you, Dahd," he continued. "But I have little reason to believe we're here for a different reason."

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:44 pm

"Well, we're certainly not here for pirates, that's for sure" Dahdtoudi said, lowering his rifle.The safety set with a click and the weapon gave a sharp whine that turned low before finally falling silent. "Watch the door."

Dahdtoudi turned from Blackthorne, his rifle retracting backwards along the gauntlet of his armor. Dahdtoudi grabbed a stack of crates with both hands, the servos of his exosuit whining and murmuring with each movement. With one heave, he tossed the stack aside, scattering them across the hold's deck before crashing into the bulkhead. Behind were two metal crates set against the wall sealed with advanced maglocks. A sticker with Min-Tulskar's logo was stuck over the seam.

"Joe's your uncle," Dahdtoudi said smugly, grinning beneath his helmet.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:13 pm

Cadden kept his senses alert, and focused on the Force to alert himself of the incoming pirates. As Dahdtoudi found what both hunters were looking for, Cadden punched open the door, and brought his carbine around, letting loose several shots against the incoming pirates. All three of them fell alongside their already-dead comrades in the entryway. "If you're quite finished," he said calmly, "then it's time to wrap things up, here." He muted his external speaker and brought up the comm. link to his personal frequency. "Zartok," he continued, "it's time."

"I'm on my way," he heard the Zabrak say, and terminated the connection.

Cadden switched back to external speakers. He wasn't intent on letting Dahdtoudi take the lead on this one, but he was satisfied with running in alongside him and splitting the reward 50/50. It was better than coming out empty-handed and tarnishing his reputation. There were two crates, which meant both hunter could take one, to ensure the other wouldn't take the prize that they both worked hard for. Though, he mused, I did the more work, so 50/50 is hardly fair. The notion was dry, but he was learning to swallow his pride, and this would be a good lesson. "We got what we came here for," he said, "it's time we get going."

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:32 pm

"Couldn't agree more," Dahdtoudi replied, taking a crate in each hand. He probably could've stood to treat them more gently than he was, given the mystery surrounding their contents, but time had its restrictions. Turning, he followed Cadden back out the hold.

Blackthorne provided decent cover fire as the backtracked through the ship, for what it was worth, but he was by no means an adequate shield. Behind Cadden, Dahdtoudi's oversized armor was a much larger target, making it impossible to duck for cover behind his mandalorian armor. Despite this, Dahdtoudi was forced to duck through the ship's blast doors as they went. Cadden was quick, agile and deathly accurate in front of Dahdtoudi. Cadden's feet could barely be heard as they ran as moved deftly through the ship, vaulting smoothly over the pirates' barricades. Dahdtoudi's boots left dents in the bulkhead as he bounded forward behind Cadden, slamming through the barriers and into walls as he fought the inertia of his massive exosuit. Cadden landed three accurate hits down an adjacent corridor while Dahdtoudi's shoulder mounted launcher lobbed three concussion grenades down a second corridor.

They finally made it to the junction near the airlock. "This way," Dahdtoudi called to his companion of circumstance and moved for the airlock door.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:04 pm

"I have my own ride," he told Dahdtoudi. He didn't wait for the other to object, before he began to backtrack the way he came. No doubt, Dahdtoudi would be sour for what he just did, and Cadden spared a moment to relish in the thought.

Zartok was en route, and if he had indeed followed his orders the way he was supposed to, the Pursuer ought to be in orbit by now, and headed his way. The most logical place to go would be the docking bay, and while Cadden was not fond of going it alone, with the ability to use the Force at his aid he knew he would be fine. The pirates didn't know who he was, thanks being mostly due to his different armor color pattern, but a seasoned hunter like Dahdtoudi had been able to figure him out on the spot. He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised, as it was only a matter of time. Looks like Cadden Blackthorne is officially back from the dead, he mused. No use hiding it any longer.

Surprisingly, he made it back to the docking bay without a hitch. The remaining pirates must have smartened up, and opted to save their own lives by staying out of the hunters' way. It was either that, or they were planning on cutting their losses and high-tailing it out of there. Either scenario was not going to end well for them. The Pursuer emerged in the docking bay, and Cadden lugged the crate onboard the ship while Zartok brought it back around and out into space once more. By the time they had rendezvoused with Dahdtoudi's ship, Cadden was at the controls. "Time to finish the job," he stated.

Dahdtoudi must have been thinking the same thing, as both ships turned around to face the ship. Cadden's suspicions proved true, as they were trying to make a break for it. They did not have much time. Both ships let loose firepower against the fleeing cruiser; Cadden chose to target the power generator, while Dahdtoudi took on the engines. Within moments, the task was finished.

Each hunter had half the evidence. There was little reason to attempt to claim the whole thing. They also knew that the entire mission would be a failure if they attempted to turn the other's ship into space dust. The bounty called for all the evidence, or no payoff.

Cadden met Dahdtoudi on the surface minutes later. "Call it collateral," he said, as they approached each other. He had taken the time en route to the surface to mull over the scenario before them, and as much as he justified what he was about to say, the words came out no less sour to the taste. "There's little reason to deny it. We're after the same thing. It's big, bigger than either of us. I hate to say it, but teaming up is the most viable solution."

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:56 pm

Dahdtoudi grimaced at what Cadden said. He had been worried he would say something like that, mainly because he had been thinking along similar lines on the way down. "Agh! Fine..." Dahdtoudi said sullenly. "But I'm gonna need a drink," he added, pointing over Cadden's shoulder at a bar across the way from the landing pad.

The bar wasn't the preferable back alley hole in the wall that two bounty hunters would be more well suited. It was a more reputable establishment where various legitimate business men met for afternoon drinks, and the unlikely pair were the object of more than one uncomfortable sidelong glance. Dahdtoudi tried to ignore them. He had gotten into something more comfortable: plain drab paramilitary trousers, combat boots and a gray shirt underneath a black jacket, reminiscent to those worn by Imperial officers, but both he and Cadden were armed. They sat in a back corner booth, but the entire establishment was entirely too well lit.

A man who looked to be the bar's manager cautiously approached the two. "Excuse me, uh, gentlemen, but we prefer our patrons to be a little less... armed." The man regarded the two carefully, but couldn't hide the hint of contempt in his tone.

Dahdtoudi frowned at the man and looked from him to Cadden and back again. "So try and take them," he said baitingly, leaning towards the manager. The man scoffed and walked back. Dahdtoudi went back to his glass of Corellian whiskey. "So, did you take a look in your box on the way down?" he said before taking a swig.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:45 pm

Cadden was outside of his armor, now. Fewer people in the galaxy recognized him without his armor than those that did, it was better this way. He still kept with him his blaster carbine, but hidden on his person were both of his lightsabers, in case he found a need to use them. Better safe than sorry, he figured.

He shook his head. "I'm not paid to look," he told Dahdtoudi. "The bounty called for the death or capture of the pirates, and the safe return of the cargo. There was no mentioning of discovering what it is we're retrieving." He had a feeling he should have, but Cadden honored the agreement between him and the employer. Even if it was a lead to the Chronic case, it was a rule of his he had upheld from the beginning. Unless it was in the contract, if a package was involved, never open it. He didn't bother to ask if the other opened his. It was irrelevant. If Dahdtoudi's curiosity got the better of him, it wasn't Cadden's problem.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:57 am

"Well, I did, and this is what I found," Dahdtoudi said with a smirk, producing what looked similar to a hypospray injector between his fingers. On one end was a small cup-shaped piece. He wasn't too concerned about the local bounty. If the authorities asked about the cargo, he figured he'd just blame it on Cadden interrupting his job. Dahdtoudi was after the big picture. "The box is full of 'em. I did a little homework on the way down, and found out it's an ocular autoinjector. They're used for delivering stims directly through the capillaries inside the eye. Risky stuff, really. They're banned from most of the more reputable medical facilities around the galaxy." He set the small instrument on the table and leaned back in his seat, drink in hand, the plush leather groaning under his weight.

"I spoke with a contact I have who deals in biometrics," the hunter continued. "He's the only guy close to a doctor I could get in touch with on such short notice. Surprisingly, he was all too familiar with these little guys. Apparently they can also be used to temporarily alter the appearance of somebody's eye at a very detailed level. People use 'em to fool retinal scanners, which is why he's familiar with them. He also said that in the medical field, they're primarily used for neural stims. The drugs go into the eye and almost immediately enter the brain, producing rapid effects and limiting the chances of your body filtering the drugs before they get to your head. Problem is, my guy said that prolonged use of these injectors tend to lead partial to complete vision loss, hence the usage bans." Dahdtoudi shrugged apathetically. "There's always a down side, I guess. There's not a lot of places that produce 'em because of the restrictions, but it just so happens that one of the leading producers is right here on Carratos."

"What I don't get is," he went on, leaning forward and lowering his voice, "is what a company like Min-Tulskar is doing transporting pharmaceuticals. They're not a major shipping company by any means. I mean, they transport family valuables and do special deliveries. The autoinjector manufacturer here on Carratos wouldn't use them for these. It doesn't add up. There's something else going on here."
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:13 pm

Cadden mulled over the information for a moment. He had come across several of these types of instances in his lifetime, both as a bounty hunter and as an Imperial officer. He decided to do some homework of his own. "Zartok," he spoke over his wristpad, "crack into that crate for me." It was against his better judgment, but at this point, they were hauling illegal cargo, and whoever was responsible for putting it onboard a Min-Tulskar ship would be far more valuable than delivering illegal cargo back to a small-time shipping company. He gave Dahdtoudi a look, impossible to read, as he waited, taking a drink of his water. Normally, he would order his personal favorite, Corellian Ale, but he had to keep his wits about him.

A few minutes ago, the wristpad beeped, and Cadden took a look. It was a match. "I got the same thing," he told the other hunter, and brought up a holo of the stim dispenser before Dahdtoudi. "These things are illegal," he told the other. "We turn these back to Min-Tulskar, we're handing over illegal supplies to a shipping company that may or may not be involved in it." Screw the bounty, Cadden thought, he wasn't in it for the credits, anyway. It was a small-time operation, stuff he normally did not bother with. "I'm willing to bet that there might be a lead, here." He got out of his seat. "I'm going to look into this one."

Cadden left the bar, and found his way back to his ship. Once onboard, he called out, "Zartok, give me one of those dispensers, will ya?" A moment later, the Zabrak came forth with the canister. "Did you run this by your droid?"

Zartok nodded. "2x-RX is analyzing the samples now. We should be getting the results soon." Cadden simply walked away, and entered his personal quarters. There, he proceeded to suit up. Minutes later, he re-emerged, fully donned in his armor. Zartok approached him with the canister that, apparently, the droid was analyzing. "So, get this... these things aren't your ordinary stims."

Cadden looked at the man quizzically from behind his helmet. "I gathered as much," he told that Zabrak. "I presume you have something more important to tell me? I've already got someone who told me that these things are used to alter the appearance of one's eye, in order to get through retinal scans."

"Yeah, but that's only a part of the whole," Zartok said. "2x-RX's analysis came up with an astonishing conclusion. This stuff heightens everything in the user's system." The words hung on Cadden for a moment, despite Zartok continuing to talk about it. "This is like an ultimate stim. 2x-RX was unable to find any adverse side-effects, but it's speculated that overuse of the stuff can cause to extensive tissue degeneration, leading the user to becoming a cripple."

Cadden nodded. "Thanks for the tip," he said, and placed the canister into a pouch. He left went toward the entryway of the ship.

"Where are you going?" Zartok asked.

"Think I'm going to pay someone a visit."

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:44 pm

"No kidding," Dahdtoudi said under his breath as Cadden left before downing the last of his whiskey. He sat a moment and thought things over before sighing and sliding out of the booth. Cadden was right, there was a lead, but they had blown one end of it into space dust on the edge of the system. Dahdtoudi was going to find the other end, starting with Min-Tulskar. The disgruntled manager gave the hunter the stink-eye as he left, and Dahdtoudi shot him a cocky wink as he went through the door.

A short while later, Dahdtoudi walked through the doors of the small shipping company's main office. "Good afternoon, welcome to Min-Tulskar Shipping. How may I hel- Oh!" The receptionist behind the door stopped her rehearsed greeting short when she finally looked up to see Dahdtoudi. "Um... Can I... help you?" she asked nervously, the young girl's eyes glued to the E-11 strapped to his thigh.

"Yes, hi!" Dahdtoudi said cheerily as he leaned on her desk. "Don't mind that. I'm one of the good guys, promise." He gave her a bright smile and a wink, taking a quick look at the nameplate pinned to her chest. "I was hoping you could help me find someone... Tina, is it?"

"Oh," she said softly, softening as her anxiety waned. "Sorry, I'm just not used to... armed men, and the like."

"Yeah, I haven't fit in too well since I landed," Dahdtoudi said with a passive shrug, his grin softening to a friendly smile. She was a pretty girl, sweet and innocent. It was when dealing with civilians like her that made the hunter wonder what a life like hers would've been like: wake up in a comfortable apartment in some high rise, go to work, go home. No violence, no strife, an ignorant sense of security. Hardship and violence was all Dahdtoudi had ever known, and it was hard for him to imagine anything else. "I bet a guy like me can make a sweet little girl like you pretty nervous." He flashed his best charming smile.

The girl blushed a little and pretended to look at something at her computer. "Yes, well, like I said, I'm just not used to such... big guns." She smiled nervously, furtively making eye contact again.

Dahdtoudi chuckled. Too easy. "I bet not," he said suggestively, softly biting the corner of his lower lip. She blushed and looked back to her computer. "Anyways, like I said I'm new in town and I'm trying to find someone and I was hoping... you could help me out?" He idly fidgeted with a small decorative sculpture on her desk.

"I don't know how I could-" she started.

"Well, you see, a couple days ago a ship of yours got jacked, some crates went missing. You know the one I'm talking about?"

"I think so," she said hesitantly. "Another man called yesterday about it."

Blackthorne, Dahdtoudi surmised. The other hunter had obviously already looked into this lead. Whether or not he had gotten anything out of it, Dahdtoudi couldn't be sure. He wouldn't put it passed Cadden to hold information to maintain a competitive edge. After all, Dahdtoudi would probably do the same thing. It was the nature of the game. "Yes!" Dahdtoudi continued excitedly. "That's the one! I was hoping, well, the boxes that were taken? I was hoping you could, maybe... point me in the direction of the owner?" He said the last part with a nervous wince. He knew full well that it was most likely against company policy to divulge information of the sort. Dahdtoudi just hoped he had played her right. He continued to fidget with the sculpture and gave her a pleading look.

"I don't know... I'm not supposed to-"

"Please? I'm desperate!" Dahdtoudi pleaded. He paused in mock contemplation. "Maybe we could talk about it over... dinner?" He raised his eyebrows with the offer.

The girl laughed nervously, smiling openly up at the hunter. "Now I really don't know! I don't think my boyfriend would like that." She nervously played with her hair.

Dahdtoudi's smile vanished, replaced by a frown and his hand instantly stopped playing with the sculpture. He had wasted his time with this one. Rolling his eyes, he looked around the room. Spotting a wide set of double doors behind her desk, he pushed off her desk. Pointing to the doors as he moved towards them, "Is your boss back here?" he asked, all business now.

"H- hey! Wait! You can't-!"

Dahdtoudi put a quick hop in his step in order to beat the girl to the doors as she got out of her chair to cut him off. The hunter spun through the doors, turning to clasp the handles and hold them shut, keeping the protesting receptionist out. Reaching to his belt, he drew his stun baton, extending it with a snap of his wrist. He slid the weapon between the doors' two handles, locking them in place. The receptionist furiously shook the doors and shouted in protest, fruitlessly trying to gain entry. Dahdtoudi turned and quickly made for what looked like the door to a small back office. He didn't have much time.

"Hi!" he said with false friendliness as he burst through the door, closing and locking it behind him. Inside the room were two desks, one obviously the main desk and one possibly an assistant's. "Sorry!" he said hastily to the assistant behind the desk who paused his work in bewilderment. Dahdtoudi hopped into a chair in front of the main desk, propping his feet up and leveling his E-11 on the shipping manager. "Let's talk," he said with a smile.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:56 am

Cadden Blackthorne entered the main lobby, and immediately took note of the receptionist. She seemed slightly distraught, seeing him approach. "Look," she said, "I don't want -"

Cadden cut her off. "Relax. I need answers."

She nodded. "I can't guarantee anything..."

"It's okay," he said. "I need to take a look at your shipping manifests."

"I don't have that sort of authority," she said.

"Then let me speak to your manager." She visibly grew very uncomfortable at the mentioning of the individual. Cadden frowned. It could only mean one thing. He approached the desk and got up close enough to where she could see her reflection perfectly in his visor. "Let me put this simple," he said to her. "I just finished that job your company posted on 'net, and as it would turn out, your bosses sent me out to retrieve illegal cargo that they wanted shipped out under the very noses of the authorities. Do you want to be involved in this kind of business?" She frantically shook her head. "Good. Then let me speak to your manager." She nodded and pointed toward the doors. Cadden pushed himself back, and proceeded forward.

"Wait!" she called, but was too late. When he pushed on the door, it wouldn't budge. He gave her a look. "He barricaded it."

He, Cadden thought. So Dahdtoudi had gotten here before him. Cadden couldn't say he was surprised. He produced his blaster carbine, causing the receptionist to frantically fall back and take cover. Cadden let loose several shots at the door until he broke the unsuspecting stun baton, and kicked the double doors open, weapon still in hand. He didn't bother to be as graceful as Dahdtoudi was, and approached the obvious executive door. Before he could even touch it, however, the Force warned him of impending danger. He brought himself around, blaster carbine facing the incoming security guards.

"You there! Stop where you are!" He frowned. Did the receptionist stand him up? Cadden didn't bother to find out. He fired, aiming high, to scatter them against the corridor, behind some outcroppings, giving him a valuable second. Cadden backed himself against the door and attempted to open it. Locked.

Leave it to Dahdtoudi, he mused. Entering by force would cause too much trouble, and possibly eliminate their only solid lead. Cadden knew Dahdtoudi was trying to get the upper hand on him, and would withhold information, and so he took the only logical choice left. As the security guards emerged from their cover, the first thing they noted was Cadden bearing down on them. Their look of determination quickly shifted to surprise and Blackthorne's fist impacted against the human's jaw, sending him collapsing to the ground in one single blow, while the other attempted to bring his blaster to bear on him. Cadden was too quick, however, and his knee jerked into the man's gut, followed by an elbow to the back. Cadden sprinted in the direction they came from. It was a fool's tactic, but it was also the most logical. There was more than one place to find those shipping manifests.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:42 pm

Dahdtoudi smiled at the man from across the desk. "See? That wasn't so hard. I do appreciate your help with this," he said with a nod as he began to slip his E-11 into its holster. Before his hand was even off the grip, however, shots rang out from the corridor behind him and he winced in frustration and cocked his head back, silently cursing at the ceiling. He heard someone try the door and a muffled shout of alarm that was followed almost immediately by more shots. Dahdtoudi rolled his eyes. Dahdtoudi wasn't fond of coincidences and surmised there could only be one source of all that blaster fire. Great timing, Cadden. He gave the shipping manager a look and shrugged in apology as he pulled his E-11 back out. "Sorry about all the commotion."

With that, Dahdtoudi pushed himself out of the chair and carefully made for the door. As he opened the door and peered around its edge to check if the coast was clear, he leveled his blaster rifle on the manager behind him and the small hold out he had pulled from his drawer. "Don't," Dahdtoudi warned. "Trust me. It's not worth it." The manager thought for a moment before slowly replacing the small blaster.

Seeing the doors blown open and the downed guards beyond, Dahdtoudi figured he was clear as far as the front door. The hunter moved as swift as caution allowed down the corridor, frowning as he glanced at the fragments of stun baton that lay on the ground by the door as he passed. One guard seemed to be out cold, but the other seemed to be trying to get back to his feet. Dahdtoudi sent a swift kick of his boot into the man's gut and he dropped back to the floor with a painful groan.

Dahdtoudi side stepped towards the door, pointing his weapon at the frightened receptionist like a scolding finger as he did so. "Next time an armed man asks you some questions," he chided angrily, "give him what he wants." His point made, Dahdtoudi lowered his weapon and took a small commlink from his pocket. "C, I'm assuming that's you crashing the party," he said into it as he began to shoulder the front door open. "I've got all the information we need. Let's get out of here before-" The sound of a vehicle coming to rest outside interrupted him and he stopped in the door. "Sithspit," he hissed when he saw the stormtroopers disembarking the patrol speeder. Dahdtoudi quickly ducked back inside the building. Pointing the blaster at the girl again, he ordered, "Go find someplace safe and hide there. Now!"

The hunter quickly moved in the direction his circumstantial partner had most likely gone. "C, the shiny whites just showed up at the front door. Seems we've worn out our welcome. If you're not headed for the back door, you need to be," he said into the comm as he moved. If there is a backdoor...
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:06 pm

Cadden dodged around the corner, avoiding the incoming patrols by a hair. He didn't want to resort to killing these people, not unless they deserved death, and until then he was not about to take any chances. His helmet comm. clicked, indicating an incoming transmission. "C, I'm assuming that's you crashing the party," Dahdtoudi said over the mic in his ear.

Yeah, right, he thought, they responded too fast for it to be my problem..

"I've got all the information we need," he continued. "Let's get out of here before-" He heard a faint sound over the mic, indistinguishably that of an engine. "Sithspit. Go find someplace safe and hide there. Now!" Cadden frowned. That amount of difference in his tone could only indicate one thing from Dahdtoudi. He was already on his way, throwing caution into the wind. "C, the shiny whites just showed up at the front door. Seems we've worn out our welcome. If you're not headed for the back door, you need to be."

Cadden activated his personal channel. "Zartok," he said, "I need some schematics. Think you can help me out?"

"I'll see what I can do," Zartok said.

"Well, see what you can do soon," he urged. "We've got a situation here!"

He turned a corner, only to see some security officers coming his way. "You there!" one of them yelled. "Stop where you are!"

Cadden sighed. Fools. He waved his hand, causing them to collide against the wall. He hated to use the Force in public, but he wasn't about to shoot these guys dead. Not unless he had reason to. He continued onward, and made it to the back storage area. He opened the door and vaulted in, taking immediate cover from incoming laserfire. Damnit! he thought. These guys are no small-time operation, that's for sure. Something is going on, and whatever it is, there's got to be a connection. He took note that several of the security personnel were utilizing military-grade weaponry. There was nothing sensible about that, other than it was a large-time operation, or truly a small-time operation funded by a much larger entity. He poked over the edge of his cover and took two precise shots, downing two of the security guards, before ducking back, blasterfire scorching the crates covering him.

A map popped up in front of him, courtesy of his Zabrak ally onboard the ship. He scanned it over, quickly locating where he was, and finding a suitable escape route. Provided it truly lead anywhere. Cadden took note of the information, closed the map, and used his cover to proceed toward the other end of the storage room.

It didn't take much time to get to the designated door, all things considered, and three more security guards were incapacitated in the process. Cadden managed to escape through the door, and made his way down the hallway. He took a detour, however, to the shipping offices, blaster carbine in hand, and immediately pointed it at the first employee he saw. "You there!" he yelled. "Get me information, now!" He proceeded to divulge the information about the shipment, and the worker, not wishing to spend his retirement dead, obediently got to work getting Cadden's requested information. Moments later, he produced a data disk.

"Smart," Cadden said, taking the information and placing it in his pouch. "If what you've given me is false or misleading, you will be seeing me again."

The man nodded nervously. "It's there, all of it. I swear!"

Cadden disregarded him and left the room, taking potshots at incoming security personnel from his destination, scattering them as they attempted to find cover. His detour may have been costly, but it was worth it. Dahdtoudi said he got information, but Cadden did not trust him to divulge all of it, and with good reason. Cadden wanted information of his own. He was certain that, whatever it had, it would fill the other hunter in on the fact that what they retrieved was Chronic, but what Cadden was truly interested in was who issued the shipping order and, even more importantly, if those pirates in orbit were just staging the whole thing as a means to get it out of the system under the table, thus avoiding customs wherever it was bound.

Cadden was betting on the latter.

He ducked into an alcove and prepared himself for a firefight. He still couldn't determine who these people played for, so he had to remain cautious. He spared a moment and took the disk out of his pouch, and put into a built-in reader into one of his gauntlet. He allowed the information to load into his suit while he ducked around the corner and intentionally fired wide, in order to keep the security personnel from progressing his way too far. He was betting that he was going to be trapped in the hallway soon if he didn't progress forward soon.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:33 pm

OOC- I suppose I should give you at least a little bit now that I'm back, huh?

Dahdtoudi left the lobby back through the destroyed set of doors. At times, traveling separately would increase the odds of escape. However, unsure of whether escape was possible, Dahdtoudi was more concerned about survival, and those odds were significantly higher if he met up with Cadden. He considered raising the other on comms, but after a moment Dahdtoudi realized he wouldn't need to. Cadden had left a neat trail of blaster scars and bodies along the way. Dahdtoudi didn't take the time to determine if they were alive or dead.

Cadden's trail lead Dahdtoudi down the hall and through a storage room before passing through a collection of office's. Dahdtoudi noted the presence of a clerk hiding under his desk and dismissed the threat before exiting out the other side into another hall. "Sith--!" the hunter swore as he was forced to stop short and duck back into the doorway before a collection of blaster bolts flew by. After peeking around the door frame to see if the coast was clear again, he edged down the hall against the wall towards a collection of guards that were clearly taking cover from someone, and that someone was clearly Cadden. He had to move quick while the other had the attention of the guards.

The two guards were hiding behind the frame of a set of fire doors, peeking gingerly around the edges to try and fix where exactly Cadden was hiding down the next hall. One heard the scuff of Dahdtoudi's boots behind him, but was too late. As the guard turned to see who it was, Dahdtoudi grasped the man's head with both hands and slammed it into the adjacent wall. Dahdtoudi released the man, letting his limp body slump to the floor as the hunter put his attention on the other, who by now had begun to bring his blaster to bear on Dahdtoudi. The hunter was faster, though, stepping inside the man's reach and grasping his outstretched arm at the wrist and bicep before swinging him around to the other side of the doorway and smashing into the wall over his fallen comrade. Not letting the guard react, Dahdtoudi grasped him behind the head with both hands, bringing it down while simultaneously driving his knee up, crushing the man's face against the integrated knee pad of the hunter's pants.

Dahdtoudi continued down the next hall, again staying close to the wall as he stepped along. As he approached an alcove, a rather large blaster swung around the corner to meet him. The hunter brought his own up in return, and a fraction of a second later Cadden and Dahdtoudi were face to face, staring down each other's barrels. Dahdtoudi cocked his head to the side and tsked before adding, "Ah ah ah! Not yet, friend." The hunter flashed a wink and a grin before lowering his blaster and edging past Cadden, heading further down the hall. "Where's the exit?"

OOC- Sorry for the liberty at the end, there. ;)
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:48 pm

Cadden kept his blaster drawn for a fraction of a second. It was tempting, but... no. They needed to cooperate, if they were to get out of here alive, and more importantly, get to the bottom of this case. As much as they were competing for the number one slot, and he was determined to maintain his own competitive edge, neither hunter was of any use to the other dead.

"There's an emergency exit back that way," Cadden said, motioning down the adjacent hallway that had previously been inaccessible to him, thanks to the guards in cover. "If it's not already being covered by stormtroopers." And if it were... fair game. Cadden would not find any reason to go easy on them. He still had a score to settle with the Empire.

Despite the possible conundrum, the two proceeded toward the labeled exit, picking off armed security personnel along the way. As they reached their destination, Cadden stretched out with the Force, aiming to discover a trap. The right move would be to ensure any escape routes had sufficient cover from stormtroopers. Sure enough, there was... something... out there. And it wasn't friendly, either. He nodded to Dahdtoudi.

The two burst through the door, weapons trained on the nearest targets, and picked them off with ease. Both the hunters were quick to alter their line of fire and take down the rest of the stormtroopers without much of a fight. After dodging through hallways and storage rooms, this was considered a cakewalk to them. It was only after the last stormtrooper was dealt with that Cadden spoke. "You said you got information. Show me."

OOC: Meh... that's really all I got....

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:57 pm

OOC- Alright. I'll get something up soon.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:56 pm

Dahdtoudi paid no attention to Cadden's sudden terseness. Frankly, he didn't have time for it. "Just a name," he replied as they moved away from Min-Tulskar's shipping office. "Right now I just want to get good and clear of here. Let's go!" With that, he hopped down an alley past the fallen stormtroopers that littered the ground outside the building.

With Cadden in his armor, Dahdtoudi didn't see them disappearing into a crowd very easily. Instead, he ducked down a junction between two buildings adjacent to the alley. Halfway down, he slipped into the shadow of one of the buildings back hatches, the other hunter right behind him. Dahdtoudi could see himself in Cadden's visor as the other hunter stared at him, apparently still waiting for the answer to his previous question. "You sure picked a hell of a time to show up, you know that?" Dahdtoudi chided as he pulled out his datapad. "Now, on to our current conundrum..."

Dahdtoudi had some information, true, but he knew Cadden wasn't at Min-Tulskar by accident and wouldn't have left empty handed, regardless of the unexpected level of security. Blackthorne had information as well. Blackthorne had his own information. "I have information that you want," Dahdtoudi began, "and I'm thinking you've got your own piece of intel as well. You can keep it. I wanna know what's going on here. Small time shipping companies don't keep security like that. You know something and I want in, so spill it and I'll give you the name." Dahdtoudi folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the frame of the door and waited for Blackthorne's explanation.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:33 pm

Cadden considered Dahdtoudi's sharing of information. He seriously doubted the other hunter only had a name; he was holding out, that was certain. And so would he. "There wasn't much to go by," he said. "They kept a lot of stuff under the table. Min-Tulskar, however, isn't an independent operation, that much is certain. They're being backed by someone. Someone big. This operation of theirs has drawn the interest of someone with wealth and power. Beyond that, I couldn't say. If you were looking for a name, sorry to disappoint. I don't have that." That much was true, and Cadden didn't expect this job to be that easy. The Triad recruited the top members in the business, and so far their reasoning was valid.

"But this stuff," he said, producing the vial he kept from the crate back on his ship, "is not what we're after. Min-Tulskar wasn't being raided. It was a set-up. A way to transport this to its destination without arousing unwarranted suspicion. According to the data I've downloaded, it was going to trade hands with the very smugglers we're after. But it's only a part of the whole. It doesn't stop there. They deliver it to the final recipient." He gave Dahdtoudi a knowing look. "Which I'm willing to bet is connected to that name of yours."

But there was yet more to this puzzle, Cadden mused. Min-Tulskar just transported the Chronic off-world, where it changed hands with the pirates, and again with the smugglers, before reaching its end user. But who supplied it to Min-Tulskar? And, what's more, who was manufacturing the stuff? And while putting those pieces together would certainly lead to the end of this investigation, something told Cadden there was more to this than met the eye.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:35 am

Dahdtoudi listened to Cadden carefully. The man's mask made it impossible to read his face, so his voice was the only tell Dahdtoudi had to work with. Not that that was any help. Cadden had been in the game too long for that, hiatus or not. But Dahdtoudi didn't need tells to know that Cadden was likely holding on to more. It was necessary, given their arrangement.

"This is big, Cadden," Dahdtoudi started firmly. "Much bigger than either of us anticipated. But you know as well as I do that big secrets have big rewards. You also know that you're not gonna shake me off of this. You try and throw me off and I'll just be back again." Dahdtoudi studied the blank visor of his circumstantial partner for a moment before looking down at the datapad in his hand with a sigh.

Looking back up, "The name doesn't check out. Probably just some alias. However, every delivery needs an address, whether it's on the books or off." Dahdtoudi held up the datapad so Cadden could see. On it's face it displayed a small moon, rotating slowly in its orbit over a much larger world. "Surprise, surprise. Nar Shaddaa."

--

Dahdtoudi stood outside the doors of what appeared to be the shop of a junk part peddler. Standing outside in the dim neon glow of one of Nar Shaddaa's countless streets, it only took a moment of studying the exterior for Dahdtoudi to determine that if there was some security system, some trap, he was only going to find out on this inside. He had opted for a set of his lighter body armor now that they were away from the more civilized parts of the galaxy, and for all he knew he was going to need it inside. Cadden wasn't far, but there was no doubt that word of some nightmare in mandolorian armor shooting up a shipping office on Carratos had spread to the appropriate people. He'd make his move when the time was right, but until then he would lay low.

Dahdtoudi took a deep breath and exhaled in a huff before walking to the door. A moment later, he was inside a dimly lit room full of... junk parts. Part of Dahdtoudi was grateful. It was a front, to be sure, but at least it wasn't the kind of front that starts with six blasters in your face as soon as you walk in the door.

"Who're you?" a gruff and surly gran demanded as he stepped behind the shop's counter. Dahdtoudi noted the other two sentients lurking in the shadowy corners of the room. Perhaps laborers under the gran's employ, or maybe even patrons. Probably goons, Dahdtoudi decided.

The hunter approached the counter across from the gran, glancing into the shadows at the curious eyes that watched him intently. Leaning close to the gran, Dahdtoudi set one of the jacked hyposprays on the counter and said in a low voice, "I'm looking for Jace Dedar." The plan was simple: go to the address, namedrop the alias and let it be known that they were looking for whoever was behind the hyposprays, and leave. The henchmen go to tell their boss that there's a bounty hunter looking for him, and Cadden follows them to the end of the road.

The gran's expression didn't change as he stared the hunter in the eye. Dahdtoudi never knew which eye to stare back at with grans. A brief moment passed before the gran replied in his gruff and gravely tone, "You're late." Dahdtoudi stood up from leaning over the table as the gran took the hypospray and looked it over. "He said you'd be here yesterday."

There was only a fraction of a moment before Dahdtoudi realized what was happening. "Yeah, well," he began with a shrug, "we got hung up. A surprise patrol made us take a longer route."

The gran grumbled something under his breath as he continued to study the ocular injector. "Where's the rest?" he asked finally.

Dahdtoudi had to be careful. One wrong move, if the gran even got a hint that something was amiss, and the hunter's lead would quickly turn into a room full of dead men. "It's safe," the hunter replied. The gran looked up from the hypospray at Dahdtoudi with a questioning look. "I want to see him."

"That wasn't the deal."

"Yeah, well," Dahdtoudi began, hooking his thumbs in the front of his belt. Gently, he pressed his palm into the commlink on his belt before continuing, "Plans changed."

The gran studied Dahdtoudi for a moment before looking over at one of the lurkers in the shadows. "Jex! Take him to the boss." Looking back at Dahdtoudi, "I'll let him know you're coming."

Dahdtoudi flashed the alien a grin before turning and coolly following Jex out a backdoor. Sithspit! he cursed silently to himself. This was not the plan. The plan was simple. This was quickly becoming ugly. All he could do know was hope Cadden got his message.

OOC- Sorry for any liberties there. Wanted to get this thing moving a little.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:59 pm

OOC: Yeah, well, you failed! … Oh, wait, that'd be me.…

IC:

"Plans changed," Dahdtoudi's voice cracked over Cadden's comm. Cadden frowned at the sudden declaration.

"Jex!" another voice came in. Cadden did not recognize this one. "Take him to the boss. I'll let him know you're coming."

The hell? Cadden thought. This wasn't the plan. Why was he deviating from the plan? Whatever it is he's doing, he wouldn't be telling me if it wasn't unintentional. While the two hunters were competing for the same prize, it would do Dahdtoudi no good to leave Cadden behind at this juncture. Cadden pulled up an overlay map of the streets of Nar Shadaa, and found an ideal spot nearby to scope the situation out from.

He made it to his destination just as he saw Dahdtoudi being escorted by a brutish thug down the alley. He watched in silence, out of sight, as he was taken to a fortified door at the end of the alley. He activated his helmet's magnifier and spied the code the alien entered into the numpad. The door unlocked and slid open, and the two disappeared into the building.

Cadden had to move quick, else he might lose their trail. He approached the door and entered the same code. He heard the locking mechanism slide out of place and entered the open door. Cadden immediately advanced forward, vibroknife out and ready as he came up to the human guard and wrapped his arm around the man's neck, the vibroknife just touching the skin covering his left cartoid artery.

"Shh" Cadden said, his gloved hand cupped over the man's mouth. "Don't want to ruin the decor with your blood, now do we?" He gently removed his hand, keeping the vibroknife in place. "Now, tell me... where did they go?"

"D-Down that hall," the man pointed nervously.

"You're not trying to pull a fast one on me, are you?" Cadden said, tightening his grip and pressing the vibroknife into his skin to the point that if any more pressure was applied, this man would be having a very bad day.

"I-I swear," he said, "down that way."

"Where's Jace Dedar?" Cadden demanded.

"They're going to see him, now." Cadden could sense the truth behind his words. But he also knew he couldn't just let the man go. His presence would be reported first chance the guard got. The man gave Cadden directions to Jace's location.

"Much obliged," Cadden said dryly, before letting the man go and knocking him out cold. He looked down the hallway. He would have to play this carefully; if his presence were to be noticed by anyone, the entire lead would be compromised.

Cadden navigated down the hallway to the first junction, and took a left as per instructions. He entered the last room and immediately ducked behind some shipping crates before a guard came around a corner. Likely investigating the noise the door made, he mused.

Cadden tapped his foot against the crate, drawing the guard's attention. As the Weequay rounded the corner, blaster ready, Cadden immediately grabbed the barrel and swung the guard around against the crate. Cadden pried the weapon from his grasp and smashed the stock into the Weequay's face. He repeated the move twice before dropping the weapon and immediately grappling the guard. He wrapped his arms around the Weequay's neck, before he adjusted his grasp and snapped the guard's neck.

Cadden eased him to the ground and made sure he'd remain out of sight. Won't last long, he thought. Gotta move.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:02 pm

Dahdtoudi followed the thug through the winding passages and past guard after guard, quietly committing the layout to memory. The hunter was beginning to feel uneasy about the developing situation. Not only was there plenty of armed muscle to get through if things went south, but Dahdtoudi's gut told him it was something else. Studying each guard with sidelong glances, he finally decided it was something about their eyes. In their profession strangers were always treated with suspicion; it lead to longer lifespans. However, as he was lead past each guard, he was only regarded briefly before practically being dismissed as unimportant. It just didn't fit.

The hunter didn't have long to dwell on it though, as his guide lead him into a larger room. Dimly lit with tables and chairs arranged haphazardly and a cloud of tobac smoke hovering near the ceiling like mist. Thugs of all kinds sat around the tables, some gambling, some just brooding. At least a dozen. Fourteen, Dahdtoudi settled on after quickly scanning the room. The mood of the thugs decidedly changed as Dahdtoudi was lead in. Although this was usually expected, in contrast to the disinterest of the previous guards, Dahdtoudi was still uneasy, hyper-conscious of his surroundings. All at once he was aware of the position of his jacket over his blaster and how it would effect his draw, the throbbing ache in his shooting hand as it longed for his weapon, and how many thugs were around him and where. Three in front of him, seated. Five to his left, four seated and one standing and leaning on the table. Two to his left, standing with one obscured by one of the room's several supporting pillars. The final four were behind him, standing. Dahdtoudi was also aware that they were seated when he initially entered. Finally there was his guide, who now stood behind him as well. Dahdtoudi immediately began simultaneously strategizing his attack, defense and escape. Although this was never the plan to begin with, something was definitely wrong.

"Jace," the thug they called Jex began, "this one came by the shop asking for you. He had this on him." Jex tossed the hypospray to one of the men, presumably Have. He had dark eyes, more keen than those around him. A little more brains behind his muscle. Dahdtoudi held his belt and discretely pressed the commlink again.

Jace passively examined the hypospray in his hand before looking at Dahdtoudi. "You're later than we were expecting," he noted in a gravely voice.

Dahdtoudi shrugged at the man. "Patrols made us change our route."

Jace studied the hunter a moment. "So why the meet? This wasn't part of the deal."

"To negotiate," Dahdtoudi said calmly. "This stuff was harder to get than you said it would be. There were bounty hunters, increased patrols. Difficulty goes up, so does the price." Dahdtoudi shrugged again before adding, "Business."

Jace smirked and held out his hands. "Look around you. Does it really look like you're in a position to negotiate?"

"I have the goods. You don't."

"We can make you tell us where it is."

"I stole this stuff and smuggled it across three sectors to deliver it to thugs in Nar Shadaa. Do you really think I haven't made the appropriate arrangements?"

Jace nodded approvingly before leveling his eyes on Dahdtoudi again. "See, here's the thing," Jace began, leaning forward with his elbows on the table and holding up the hypospray, "we know this stuff never left Carratos. At least, not with our guys."

And it all fell together. It was a trap all along. The hunters had unwittingly been the hunted. Dahdtoudi heard Jex's blaster begin sliding from its holster behind him. Things were changing fast; he had to be faster. In an instant, Dahdtoudi whirled and slammed a fist into Jex's ribs while grabbing his half-drawn blaster with his other hand. Even as the wind was still leaving Jex's lungs from the strike, Dahdtoudi continued in a blur. Jex's shooting arm was twisted behind him and his blaster, now in Dahdtoudi's possession, pressed against his head as the hunter's arm wrapped around his neck.

Although Dahdtoudi now had a hostage, he also had every weapon in the room pointed at him. The trap had been sprung and Dahdtoudi had seized as much ground as he could, as best as he could figure. However, he was still in a losing position and the whole room knew it. The only reason he supposed he was even still alive was because they didn't know where their contraband was.

Jace had a smirk on his face that Dahdtoudi didn't like. The thug lazily drew his blaster and leveled it on Jex. Jex barely had a chance to realize what was about to happen before Jace fired. Dahdtoudi's hostage slumped to the floor with a smoldering hole in his chest. Dahdtoudi glanced at the dead man and sighed before raising his hands in surrender, Jex's blaster hanging from his finger. He knew when he was beat.

Two thugs grabbed Dahdtoudi's arms, twisting them savagely behind his back. Jace was still smirking. "So now the question is," he began, "who are you and how'd you get our stuff?" Jace stood and approached Dahdtoudi. "More importantly, where is it?"

Dahdtoudi simply smiled at the man. He wasn't sure how far behind Cadden was, and honestly wasn't sure how close he wanted him to be. He knew the other hunter was perfectly capable of killing everyone in the room. Dahdtoudi just wasn't sure if he'd survive the shootout. He wouldn't have a chance to find out, though.

Everything went black as Jace slammed a heavy fist across Dahdtoudi's face.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:01 pm

Cadden first sensed tension, then confusion, followed by escalated stress. He focused on Dahdtoudi's presence in the Force before his comm came back on.

"You're later than we were expecting," a gravely voice came in over the comm. Cadden frowned, unable to recognize who was speaking. He rounded another corner and dodged back just as a guard exited a room down the hall.

"Patrols made us change our route," Dahdtoudi responded. Cadden waited around the corner until the guard came close, then grappled him and covered his mouth, before knocking him out cold and propping him against the wall.

"So why the meet?" the unknown voice asked. "This wasn't part of the deal."

Cadden continued down the hall, scanning both with his eyes and the Force. "To negotiate," Dahdtoudi said calmly. "This stuff was harder to get than you said it would be. There were bounty hunters, increased patrols. Difficulty goes up, so does the price. Business."

Cadden entered the third door to his left, the one the guard appeared from, and looked around briefly for any potential threats. "Look around you," the other said, calmly. Perhaps too calmly. "Does it really look like you're in a position to negotiate?"

"I have the goods. You don't." Cadden exited the empty room and entered an adjacent one, revealing the upper level of a processing center.

"We can make you tell us where it is," the man threatened.

"I stole this stuff and smuggled it across three sectors to deliver it to thugs in Nar Shadaa," Dahdtoudi said. Cadden dodged out of the way of a trio of guards making their rounds; a Rodian, a Trandoshan, and a Zabrak. "You really think I haven't made the appropriate arrangements?"

"See, here's the thing," the man said, "we know this stuff never left Carratos. At least, not with our guys."

Sithspit, Cadden thought. This was all a set-up. He flicked his wrist and the three guards slammed into the wall with such force it knocked the Trandoshan out, and dazed the other two. Cadden approached them, vibroknife in hand, and ended their lives silently. He listened as some sounds of physical conflict came over the comm. And then a blaster shot rang out. Cadden stopped, reaching out with the Force to Dahdtoudi, and a dull thud could be heard. But the Force wouldn't deceive him; he could still feel Dahdtoudi's presence. His partner was still alive and well.

"So now the question is," the man said, "who are you and how'd you get our stuff?" There was a moment of silence. "More importantly, where is it?" After another moment, he heard the distinctive sound of something impacting flash and bone, though whatever it was it didn't sound like it broke anything. "Throw him in detainment," he continued. "I want him interrogated when he awakens. Maybe he'll have something more to add than what that woman has told us." There was a brief pause, and the man's voice became darker and more sinister. "Make him sing."

Woman? There was someone else this far in the hunt? Cadden and Dahdtoudi would have learned about this. He didn't have time to piece together the puzzle, however; the circumstances of their mission had suddenly changed, and he wasn't exactly in a controlling position with these thugs. Not yet, anyway.

"Zartok," he said over his private channel, "I need the public records on the following address. Names, layout, monthly payments, anything on hand."

"On it," the Zabrak said. Cadden brought up his access to the Holonet and input Jace Dedar's name into the query, narrowing it down by location. He needed a face to go with that voice. Within a couple minutes, he got the result he was looking for. He unholstered his blaster carbine and scanned the area for more guards. His presence here was about to become very well known.

* * *

Detainment was nothing more than a small room jury-rigged for keeping prisoners. The door opened and two thugs threw a man in, and the barely-conscious newcomer fumbled to the ground. Without so much as a word, they closed and locked the door, leaving him.

Lillian sat in the corner of the room and watched on in silence. Her dark brown hair was matted, and her steel blue eyes were worn and tired, indicating she had been there for several days already. She paid him cautious heed as he slowly lifted himself back to his feet with a grunt. Was this a trick, or did they manage to find another person to wring information out of?

Frankly, she was surprised they kept her this long, and that she wasn't dead by now. They had continuously tried to get her to talk; they knew she had valuable information on them, but they didn't know what, or if she had told anyone. So far, she managed to avoid giving them answers. But that won't last me much longer, she thought. They were getting impatient and, frankly, she was surprised she managed to drag things out this long. But, then, she wasn't dealing with the brightest bunch, and they were definitely near the bottom of the chain. They had to talk to their superiors and wait for orders before they could so much as touch her. It was a situation she had taken full advantage of to keep alive. But this wouldn't last forever, and soon she would probably find herself in a very bad position, no matter what she did or how she handled herself.

But now, this new man, it put forth an unknown variable. Could he be trusted? Or was this all a ruse to get her to spill information to them? For now, she would ebb on the side of caution, until she could learn just who this man was. "Never thought I'd see someone else on this side of the fence," she said. "Which one did you manage to piss off?"

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:02 pm

When Dahdtoudi came-to, he had the sensation of floating. He watched absently as the floor passed beneath him. He felt nothing. The hunter saw a threshold pass beneath him, but before he could think much about it he suddenly went from floating to falling. Dahdtoudi's world flashed on impact as he dropped face first onto the steel floor. Just as suddenly as he had fallen he could feel everything, and everything could be summed up in one word: pain. His ears rung. His head throbbed. There were sharp pains in three different places when he breathed. The cold floor felt white-hot against his face. His head reeled and screamed in protest as he pushed himself to his feet and slowly regained his senses. There was someone else...

"Which one did you manage to piss off?" It was a girl. Dahdtoudi squinted through the ache behind his eyes and saw she looked pretty ragged. For the time being, the hunter didn't think she warranted much more of an assessment than that.

Dahdtoudi winced and raised a hand to his forehead, as if holding it in place as he peered around the small room. It wasn't much more than a locked closet. His mouth felt full and the metallic tastes was familiar to him. Blood. He spit and grimaced at the floor, moving his hand from his forehead to massage his jaw.

The hunter had came-to strapped to a chair, the end of a blaster the last thing he remembered seeing before. Jace Dedar stood in front of him, smirking. Questions were asked. They weren't answered. Punches were thrown, followed by more questions. The circle repeated. They wanted their shipment back; they made that abundantly clear. At some point a trandoshan hit just a little too hard, and now Dahdtoudi was here.

He peered up at the woman. She could be a plant, some twisted honey-pot. Dahtodui didn't peg these thugs as quite that forward thinking, though. No, she was just another poor soul thrown away in a dark closet. The hunter staggered over to a wall and leaned on it for support, gingerly holding his ribs. "They really don't like it when you take their stuff," he said with a bloody smirk. He winced as he lowered himself down to the floor.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:39 pm

Lillian frowned. "So you're a thief?" she asked. Dahdtoudi didn't respond. "You do realize that they won't keep you here, long, right? Only reason you're not alone is because..." she trailed off for a second. "So you have something they want, then. Why not just give it back, save yourself the trouble? Certainly looks like you could have walked away if you simply did as they asked."

"I could say the same about you," the man said, trying to take the role top rest. She couldn't blame him; her first interrogation have her similar results, though she didn't have someone to share the experience with.

She grimaced. "Not so simple with me," she said. "Even if I give them what they want, I'm still in a bad position." She thought a minute on those words. "Maybe we can help each other," Lillian finally said. "I can't get our of here alone, but with your help, we might just have a chance."

* * *

A single shot rang out as Cadden's blaster carbine met its mark and the human sprawled back to the ground. He had finally got all the intel on the building he needed and had found a cross reference on this Jace Dedar fellow. Now he was ready for the hunt.

He approached the now-vacant terminal and got to work, inputting a few commands into the computer. Cadden activated the external speaker on his helmet and leaned forward, speaking into the terminal's comm. "Jace Dedar," he spoke over the building's comm frequency. "This is quite the bounty you have on your head. For such a small profile of a target. I have something you want. Question is, are you good enough, are you brave enough, to try to take it back from me? Come get me, if you dare."

Cadden took a seat and leaned back in the chair, almost as though he were taunting his prey. He would expect Jace to run at the information of a bounty on his head, and the profile he had on the man would make it that much easier to track him down. But it was all a ploy. If they sent anyone against him, they would die. The rest would run. In the end, they would thin their own ranks, making it that much easier to get Dahdtoudi out of there and recuperate from a job that had gone south. Jace Dedar was their primary lead, and Cadden would make him talk. He would make him tell them everything. And the man couldn't run far; Zartok would track the man, and provide Cadden real-time information on his whereabouts.

The bounty hunter moved over to the camera console and watched the live feeds in silence, genuinely interested in how this would play out. He simultaneously studied the building's schematics over his helmet's HUD, analyzing the layout and attempting to pinpoint where they might have taken Dahdtoudi. The options were, simply, too many to consider on a whim and, of course, their nonchalant terminology for a prisoner holding area didn't really help him any. He was having to resort to a guessing game, something he didn't have time for. C'mon, where are you? he wondered, studying the floorplan, looking for any indicators. His focus shifted back to the cameras. A half a dozen men were approaching the room. Cadden noted their arsenal: they may have been small time, but they were certainly packing a punch. Cadden frowned, curious as to where they could have gotten their hands on such equipment.

The door slid open, and a single blaster soared through the air, impacting the first thug who entered the room square in the chest. The man stumbled to the ground before his comrades opened fire upon Cadden's position. He had already ducked out of the way as the heavy fire rained down on his position. Cadden reached into his pouch and produced a flash grenade. Without hesitation he lobbed it at his enemies, and within seconds it went off, blinding most of them. He popped out from his cover and fired several well-placed shots at his adversaries, downing three of the remaining five with ease. The other two retaliated, but by now they realized just what they were up against. Cadden vaulted himself over a terminal and grabbed the nearest man's rifle, landing a pslm against his lower jaw. The man sprawled back as Cadden turned the weapon around and put several holes in him. He rounded the corner, and the barrel meet with the last man's forehead. The thug's own blaster was pointed at Cadden's torso.

"Do you honestly think you can pull your trigger before I pull mine?" Cadden said, taking advantage odd the standstill. The man hesitated, before tossing his blaster aside. "Now, you're going to tell me where this detainment is."

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:03 am

Sitting on the floor, Dahdtoudi smirked again. He had never considered himself a thief, but he supposed in the current circumstances that was exactly what he was. As for the woman, she was here for a reason. Whatever that reason was, Dahdtoudi figured she might give them a lead. as long as she didn't end up dead on the way out once Cadden showed up, at least. I sure hope he shows up...

The hunter pulled one of his boot heels close to him, sitting almost cross-legged, and began massaging it methodically. "Look," Dahdtoudi began as he worked on his heel, "I'm not sure who you are or how much help you could be," he paused and waved a hand over his shoulder, "what with the goon squad and all." He looked up at her with a confident smirk as he worked. "Personally though, I don't see myself staying here very long."

Somewhere nearby, there was the distinctive howl of a blaster. The sound was dulled by the walls, but it was close. Dahdtoudi smiled. "Speak of the devil..." He canted his head and listened to Cadden's message. It was a play, for sure, and as unarmed as he was, Dahdtoudi hoped it'd work. "I guess that's my cue," Dahdtoudi said before giving one last tug on his heel. He sighed contentedly as the slender piece of steel he had been tugging at pulled free. Barely more than half the length of his boot, the blade was clearly more utility than weapon. The majority of it was flat and grooved to increase the grip of a hand. On one end was a squat blade with a hook on one side. The other end was angular and wedged like a screwdriver. The guards had patted Dahdtoudi down thoroughly after removing his gear, but very few without military training would know to remove a prisoner's footwear.

Dahdtoudi pushed himself onto his knees and shuffled over to the control panel next to the door. Using the blunt end of his survival tool, he made short work of prying it loose. The hunter was no expert at slicing, but he was confident he'd be able to break the lock on their makeshift cell before any guards came by, especially with Cadden causing havoc. As if on cue, he could hear a firefight break out somewhere nearby. Within moments he had a pair of wires exposed and began sparking them together, hoping for the best.

Without warning, Dahdtoudi was shoved aside by his cellmate. He frowned with confusion, but didnt have time to protest before she was deftly pulling more wires, expertly twisting them together and crossing the necessary connections. It was quickly clear to Dahdtoudi that this woman was no stranger to opening electrical locks, and in almost no time at all, the lock clicked and the door slid open. Dahdtoudi's eyebrows raised as he nodded in approval. "Looks like you're useful after all..." The woman frowned at him.

Dahdtoudi pushed himself to his feet and poked his head out the now open door and checked left and right. It looked clear. "How long have you been here?" he asked, looking back at the woman. She shrugged. Dahdtoudi frowned. It was a stupid question; there was no way to tell the passage of time when someone was locked up like this. "Any chance you know where they keep their guns?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Maybe my stuff?" Dahdtoudi wanted his stuff back
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:53 pm

OOC: Ugh. Next time, I'm going to actually proofread, before taking my post on faith. Oh, the wonders of writing from a phone.…

IC:

"I know about as much as you do," Lillian said. "But if I were to wager a guess, I'd probably say down the hall. I couldn't imagine they'd keep it too far." She was no military expert, nor did she hold any particular knowledge on these types of situations, but what she had been able to gather while here seemed to indicate that they were using their space very conservatively. Which meant, at the very least, it would make sense to her if some kind of equipment were nearby, even if it wasn't his.

These people were high on improvising with the building's accommodations, it appeared. Their so-called holding cell wasn't much more than an over glorified closet, and what she remembered of their interrogation room it seemed to her was perhaps originally designed to be a spare room, such as a den.

Nevertheless, nobody would have been stupid enough to store weaponry too close to a holding cell. She could only assume her guess was correct. They proceeded down the hallway toward the proposed room. At each second Lillian was expecting one of Jace's goons to round the corner or appear from a side room and end them right there, but no such occurrences happened.

It was all merely a guessing game to them, and as the door slid open they were mildly disappointed. The room held nothing of worth, though Lillian supposed she shouldn't have been surprised; it was nothing more than a blind guess, a shot in the dark. The man turned and looked at her, and she merely shrugged. "They didn't exactly give me the grand tour," she said defensively. "From what I know of how they run this place, this would have been my best bet." The sound of laserfire from the hall drew her attention. Several blaster bolts seared by the door, and she dodged out of the way to give it the chance to slide shut. "Well, now what?"

* * *

Cadden watched as his target collapsed to the ground and proceeded down the hall, before making the turn and finally reaching his destination. But there was a problem. The door was unlocked and nobody was inside. Cadden frowned and observed the area carefully. He saw signs of conflict, but it was difficult to determine what caused them. He turned back around after concluding the room was a complete dead end. Cadden keyed in a command into his wristpad, and his HUD gave him a display of the building's camera system. He had made the point to patch into the feed through the backdoor before he had left the room, just in case.

He flipped through the channels, but the feeds were either clear or showed Jace's thugs. But no Dahdtoudi. Which means he got out, Cadden thought. Instinctively, he drew his blaster and pointed it down the hall.

Before slowly lowering it.

Cadden looked at Dahdtoudi and his new friend for a few seconds in silence. They had both definitely seen better days. Luckily for them he had Zartok back at the ship. Cadden was trained in field medical applications, but knew there was nothing he could do, here. Only time and proper treatment could fix whatever these two had gone through.

"Thought you could use a hand in your escape," Cadden said to the other hunter while unslinging the assault rifle he obtained earlier. He tossed the weapon to Dahdtoudi and nodded to the woman. "Who's this?"

"My name is Lillian Tolwyn," she said, disallowing Dahdtoudi a chance to respond. "If you get me out of here, I'm sure I can make it worth your while."

Cadden frowned. They couldn't linger, but at the same time he couldn't just leave her there. "How?" he asked.

"I know something you two might just be interested in," she simply said. "If you're trying to bring this vac-head down, I have some information that can help."

Cadden looked at Dahdtoudi for a moment, trying to gage his opinion on the matter, before finally nodding. He unholstered his sidearm and tossed it to her. "Can you shoot?"

"It's not exactly my strongest skill," she admitted.

"Then you'd better learn quick," he said. "Try to keep up."

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:18 pm

"Thought you could use a hand in your escape," Cadden said, handing Dahdtoudi a blaster rifle.

"Certainly took your time in it," Dahdtoudi sneered as he took the weapon Cadden handed him and immediately checked the charge pack. Not much was left, but he would make them count. He looked up and listened to what Tolwyn said for herself and watched Cadden hand her a blaster. Cadden still had the faculties of the Force, but the move was still a little more trusting than Dahdtoudi was comfortable with. All they had was a name and a promise. She was here for a reason which was likely worth finding out, but a weapon?

Dahdtoudi looked to Cadden. "Exit plan?" It was becoming clear that the hunters had kicked a small hornets nest. It didn't help that they were inside the nest when they kicked it, either. The sooner they made it out, the better.

Cadden shrugged. "Has there been any plan so far?"

Dahdtoudi nodded in cessation. Cadden had a valid point. "Maybe a dynamic entry? Do you have the schematics?" Cadden nodded. "Where's the nearest exterior wall?"

There was a pause as Cadden accessed the building's layout. "Looks like it's the main entrance," the other hunter said before adding, "It'll be the most guarded."

"That shouldn't be a problem," Dahdtoudi said with a confident smirk. "Commlink?" Cadden tossed him a commlink from his belt which Dahdtoudi immediately activated. "Dot, Reveille. Sync to Cadden's schematics. Dynamic entry on his waypoint."

"Reveille, confirmed," Dahdtoudi's droid replied over the commlink. "Moving to coordinates."

As Dahdtoudi tucked the commlink in his pocket, he glanced at Lillian. She was staring intently at the blaster Cadden had handed her. Dahdtoudi gently reached over and fingered the weapon's safety off. "Red means their dead," he told her, nodding at the small colored indicator dot that was revealed under the safety switch. She stared at him a moment before nodding back.
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:43 pm

The trio made their way through the complex, Cadden providing point given the advantage of his armor and the Force. They did manage to find Dahdtoudi's gear, giving the man a bit more of a level playing field to work with. Lillian, however, was stuck with Cadden's holdout blaster and the rifle with limited charges, but Cadden wasn't expecting her to find much use for them. Their sole purpose was to give her a fighting chance.

She seemed genuine enough to Cadden. He couldn't constantly focus on her, but every now and again he used the Force to probe for anything unusual. She never once even toyed with the idea of turning against them, which put him more at ease. But he maintained his guard, just in case.

They made their way through the building, toward the main entrance. Cadden lead them to the shipping receiving area of the repurposed building and they moved to cover at the sound of some men talking nearby.

"Think the boss'll want to interrogate them, or just torture them?" one of the men asked.

"I'd think both," another said. "We only need them alive long enough to get the info. Torture will get it out of them the quickest."

Cadden nodded to Dahdtoudi, who nodded back, his own blaster in hand and ready to go. The two turned out from their cover and put several blaster bolts into their enemies. The firefight was over in seconds. Cadden looked at the schematics of the building for a moment before pointing his carbine ahead. "Right door," he said.

Dahdtoudi took the lead and Cadden motioned Lillian to follow, and he fell in from behind to cover them from any potential surprises. They made it to the next hallway that led toward the exit. Cadden kept an eye out for potential threats while scanning their surroundings through the Force. He couldn't feel anything unusual, and took the opportunity to probe Lillian for any red flags. When he was satisfied, Cadden returned his focus to the surrounding rooms.

"Cover!" he suddenly yelled. But it was too late. A lone Twi'lek came out from a side room and let off a few shots. One of them impacted Lillian's left shoulder, and she let out a cry in pain. The others went wide. Dahdtoudi turned his attention to the alien and fired a well-placed shot right in the back of his neck.

Cadden approached Lillian and put a hand on her unhurt arm. "I'll be okay," she said with a grunt, moving away from the touch. Cadden nodded and motioned Dahdtoudi to continue. They worked their way down the hall, and Cadden kept his senses clear for any more of Jace's men.

They continued their way down the hall and took a right at Cadden's direction, and entered a foyer area. They were immediately met with resistance as several more enforcers were holed up, clearly waiting for them. The three took cover to avoid the incoming laserfire, a couple bolts impacting Cadden's armor as he got Lillian to safety before moving to his own spot nearby. She was hesitant, Cadden noted, but upon feeling her emotions noted it was due to her being scared.

"Just breathe," he said. "Point and shoot." He swirled around the cover and took aim, firing at their opponents. He ducked back behind the pillar as Dahdtoudi took his turn, and looked at Lillian, who had her eyes closed as she tried to calm herself down. "Aim and fire," he repeated. "They're likely to try to take me down, first. I pose a higher threat than you do." It wasn't an insult, just basic battlefield tactics. Always focus first on the higher immediate threat. In this case, it was the man wearing the Mandalorian armor.

Lillian nodded and waited for Cadden to move back out from cover before she took her chance. Cadden noted most of the shots were wild, but she did manage to down one of them before she ducked back down. He dodged back behind the pillar and looked at her, his smile hidden behind his visor.

The firefight continued for a couple minutes before Dahdtoudi downed the last one. They exited from their holed up positions and made their way toward the final door that lead to the main entrance of the building. They approached the door, but Cadden stopped them short. He could sense the presence of the thugs out there. "At least a dozen," he said after a couple seconds. "They're ready for us."

"How do you... ?" Lillian started, but immediately figured out the answer. She looked at Dahdtoudi who just nodded.

"You better move to the side," he advised. "They're likely to open fire the second this door opens. I'll draw their fire, you find cover." He holstered his carbine and produced his lightsabers from their concealed compartments within his jetpack.

The door opened and Cadden ignited both white blades as Jace's goons began their assault. He deflected the shots that came close to him and kept others from hitting Dahdtoudi and Lillian before he joined them in their chosen spot. "There's too many," he said. "I can't deal with them all." He looked at Dahdtoudi. "Now what?" he asked, knowing the other had some kind of plan.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:01 am

"Now what?" Cadden asked as blaster bolts flew over their heads and shook the crates they were using as cover with their impacts.

"Dot!" Dahdtoudi yelled into the commlink. "Any day now!"

"Received," the DA-2D replied calmly. "Breaching."

"Get down!" Dahdtoudi shouted, ducking even lower behind the cover. The hunter barely got the words out of his mouth before the door behind the thugs exploded inward, followed by a flurry of heavy blaster bolts. The thugs who were not eliminated by the breaching charge quickly found themselves outflanked and scurried to find new cover and escape the sudden onslaught.

The ground began to tremble with heavy mechanical footfalls as Dahdtoudi's power armor emerged through the ruined door, dispatching several thugs as they fled. Dahdtoudi smiled as he peeked over his cover at the chaos that ensued from his droid's entrance. Although the day had assumed a theme of frustratingly late rescues, the sheer panic induced by overwhelming firepower is always entertaining.

Piloted by Dahdtoudi's sentry droid, the power armor advanced towards their location while laying covering fire. "If you'll excuse me," he said with a nod to Cadden and their new companion before vaulting over their cover and sprinting towards his advancing power srmor. "Dot, open up!" he shouted as he got closer. On command, the front of the suit blossomed open, allowing Dahdtoudi to climb inside. "Get the ship prepped," Dahdtoudi ordered once he was safely encased in the armor. "We're leaving." DA-2D chirped in acknowledgement before disconnecting from the suit's shoulder and floating swiftly out the destroyed door.

Dahdtoudi turned to return to Cadden and Lillian, the suit's 360-degree viewstrip allowing him to continue laying accurate cover fire as he approached. As he stood over their cover, sending volleys of fire from his gauntlet mounted heavy repeater, he keyed his external speaker. "Door's open," he said. The suit's speaker was built for durability more than sound quality, distorting the hunter's voice to a low, gravely monotone. "I'm going after Dedar. Get her out of here and rendezvous in orbit?"
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:36 pm

Cadden laid down suppressive fire as Dahdtoudi's suit made its entrance, firing well-placed shots at those brave and foolish enough to show themselves during the chaos. He remained calm and methodical, despite the circumstances. As Dahdtoudi ran for his suit, Cadden stood from his cover and laid fire on their enemies, disallowing any of them the chance to take a shot at the other hunter.

Dahdtoudi made it to the suit and climbed in, and Cadden ducked back down as he was enclosed in the powered armor. He was soon upon them, and spoke in a highly distorted, gravelly voice. "Door's open, " he said. "I'm going after Dedar. Get her out of here and rendezvous in orbit?"

Cadden sneered at the proposal, but quickly got over it as he allowed himself to weigh their situation. He merely nodded to Dahdtoudi and queued up his comm. " Zartok, relay all information on Jace Dedar to Dahdtoudi, " he said. "Provide him with regular updates. " He paused a second. "I'm bringing someone onboard. She'll need medical attention."

"Copy, " Zartok responded.

Cadden looked at Lillian. "Let's go," he said over his external speaker. "You're coming with me, and then you're telling me what you know." Lillian frowned, and he felt her emotions with the Force. "You're in no danger if you come with me," he reassured her. "Right now, it's the safest place you can be."

She finally nodded, though Cadden could tell she was still apprehensive. "Lead on, " she said. Cadden could detect a hint of distrust and reservation in her voice. Understandable, he figured, given the situation she had found herself in. She didn't know if they would turn around and bring her in for a separate reward or not. She didn't know anything about what they were going to do with her.

That makes two of us, he mused as he lead her out of the building, both him and Dahdtoudi laying suppressive fire on Jace's thugs on their way out. "Zartok will provide you with information on his whereabouts," he said to Dahdtoudi once they were outside. "I will meet you in orbit and we'll collaborate further from there."

Cadden and Lillian worked their way through the Nar Shaddaa streets until they finally made it to the Pursuer. Cadden brought her onboard and lead her to Zartok's makeshift medical station. "Zartok and 2X-RX will get you patched up and feeling better in no time," he said. Before she could respond, Cadden was already out of the room and proceeded to make his way to the cockpit. He strapped himself in and prepped the ship for liftoff.

Moments later the engines roared to life and the Firespray lifted off. The ship climbed into orbit and settled in a standard pattern before Cadden brought it in to standby mode. He unstrapped himself from the chair and returned to Lillian. Zartok had just finished applying a bandage to her wound.

"The rest will have to heal on its own," the Zabrak told her, glancing at Cadden as he approached. "I need to go assist Dahdtoudi." He edged past Cadden and left the two with the medical droid. 2X-RX wheeled away from the makeshift table as Cadden approached.

"Thank you," Lillian said, still noticeably reserved about her situation and whereabouts.

Cadden nodded. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

"I'll be okay," she repeated. She looked around. "Why did you save me?"

Cadden shrugged. "You have information we need," he said matter-of-factly. "Makes you valuable to our mission." Cadden motioned her to follow him, and she was lead to the door of his quarters. "Clean yourself up," he said, "then we'll talk about what you know." Cadden left her alone and proceeded back to the cockpit. "What do you think of her?" he asked Zartok.

"I don't believe she is a threat," the Zabrak said, "though she is capable of becoming one, with training, I would think." Cadden remained silent. "Is my assessment inaccurate?"

Cadden looked at him, coming back from miles away. "Hmm? No. No, it isn't. I haven't sensed any deceit in her, and so far we've no reason to distrust her."

Cadden remained silent, lost in thought, during the next several minutes. He part-listened to Zartok communicating with Dahdtoudi on updates to Jace's location as he thought on the events of the day, and their unexpected passenger. She's likely a liability, he thought. But he couldn't just leave her, else whoever Jace worked for would hunt her down and kill her.

She needed them to keep her safe, just as much as they needed her to finish their hunt.

The door opened and Lillian entered the already-cramped cockpit. Cadden's attention was immediately set to her and he sat up a bit in his chair upon the total transformation a simple shower granted her. The woman's ragged and matted dark hair was now free and clean, albeit damp and tangled from the lack of adequate personal grooming appliances in his quarters. The shower had removed all the dirt and grime and dried up blood, leaving her complexion clear with the exception of a couple minor bruises. Even some life had been restored to her blue eyes. Cadden could definitely appreciate how attractive she was.

The physical afflictions may be mostly gone, but internally she'll require a lot of healing, he noted.

"You look better," he said, choosing his words carefully. It wouldn't have seemed like he had, as it took him milliseconds to come up with the best phrase to use in this scenario. It certainty wasn't the first thing he wanted to say. Keep it together, he thought. You barely even know her. He motioned to her clothes. "We'll need to see to getting you some fresh garb."

"This'll do," Lillian said defiantly. She leaned against the bulkhead, the cramped space causing her to remain well within Cadden's reach.

"Don't be ridiculous," he argued. "You'll need something besides that mess you're in. We'll get you some new clothes at our next stop."

She looked at him square in the eyes. "And where might that be?" she asked.

Cadden shrugged. "Thought you knew how this works, by now. It partly depends on you."

"Partly?"

"Well," Cadden said, allowing a slight smirk, "I'm sure Jace Dedar will fill in whatever gaps there may be in the information you have."

She sighed. "How can I be so sure I can trust you? I don't know any of you. For all I know, this could have all been a set up."

She's rattled, Cadden thought. Though I can't say I blame her. I would be no less suspicious if I were in her position.

"I'm Cadden Blackthorne," he said. "This here is Zartok Ular. The other one was Dahdtoudi." She remained unphased. She doesn't know any of us, he realized. Their names meant nothing to her. Though he wouldn't be surprised with her not knowing Zartok's name, he was mildly so at the lack of knowledge over his or Dahdtoudi's. I suppose this would qualify for the phrase ignorance is bliss. After all, if she never had a bounty on her head, or required the services of a bounty hunter, why would she have ever heard their names? "I'm not going to tell you we were there to rescue you, but I can guarantee your safety so long as you stick with me. As long as we have a lead, we can hunt the people down responsible for this."

Lillian looked at him a moment. "So you are bounty hunters?" she said, averting her attention to outside the cockpit's viewport.

"Dahdtoudi and I," Cadden affirmed. "Zartok provides information and medical assistance." He got out of his chair and motioned her to take a seat. She reluctantly accepted it, and the two switched places. "We're going to need that information, so we can bring this whole frellin' operation down."

"And then what?" Lillian asked. "You dump me? Leave me to fend off retaliation on my own?"

"No," he said. "I told you I'd keep you safe."

"You have no idea how deep this whole thing goes, do you? Nobody is safe. I don't care if you can use the Force or not. This organization will find you, and it will end you."

Cadden raised an eyebrow. "Do tell," he said, his curiosity piqued.

Lillian sighed. "If you want a death wish.…" She looked directly into Cadden's intense eyes, and noted his conviction on the matter. "Fine. Your funeral. They call themselves the Triad." Cadden narrowed his eyes in disgust, and Lillian immediately realized what that alluded to. "You were hired by them, weren't you?"

"To take down a smuggling operation for a drug called Chronic," Cadden said with contempt.

"They control that drug," she said. "And the smuggling operation. And the company that created it."

"Min-Tulskar?" Cadden asked. Lillian nodded. Cadden slammed his fist against the bulkhead. We've been played, he thought. "How deep does this go?"

Lillian shrugged. "I found this information by happenstance," she said, "but I did manage to link it to a Hutt known as Kroda."

Kroda the Hutt. He was a local crimelord and gangster in the area, stationed out of none other than Nar Shaddaa itself. He had contacts in many areas and facets of the galaxy, and deep pockets. Kroda had amassed vast amounts of wealth and power through years of political subterfuge and illicit activities, becoming a notorious crimelord in Hutt space, and not one to be taken lightly or underestimated.

"And you're certain of this?" Cadden asked. While taking down an individual as powerful as Kroda would be doing the galaxy a favor, they would be stirring the hornets' nest if they tried. It was a dangerous pursuit.

"I may not be a great shot," she said, clearly offended, "but I make up for it in other areas."

Cadden suppressed a grin. She had some flair to her. He liked that. "Taking down Kroda's empire would be no easy task," he said. "Damn near suicidal on our own. I don't see how this information helps you at all."

"It doesn't," she said. "I wasn't looking for this information, but now that I have it, I was going to turn it in to someone who could do something."

Cadden thought on the predicament. Going up against Kroda the Hutt wasn't exactly a smart move, not in their current position. But he couldn't simply ignore the connection and move on, either. He made a judgment call, one which he had a feeling he'd regret later. "Where is this information, exactly? We'll need to recover it and compile it against what Dahdtoudi and I have already gathered."

There was a minute of silence as Lillian considered her predicament. Finally, she spoke, looking down at her hands clasped in her lap. "I hid a copy of it on Saeucami," she said, her voice showing signs of reservation. But she wasn't lying, Cadden noted. "You will need that if you're planning on taking him down."

Cadden reached over and queued up Saeucami in the navigation computer. He set the coordinates in and kept the system on standby. As soon as Dahdtoudi was done on the Smuggler's Moon and they put their heads together, they'd make their way to the planet and retrieve her information.

"We'll leave once Dahdtoudi is finished with his task," he said, and left the cockpit. Cadden went back to his quarters and sat on his bunk. He stared at his helmet for a few seconds before running his hands through his thick, medium length black hair. He closed his eyes, but when he did he saw Lillian's face staring back at him. Cadden opened his eyes once more and just gazed onto the empty visor on his helmet.

Never thought I'd be experiencing this again, he thought. Though, in this case, I know next to nothing about her. There was something about Lillian that attracted him to her. Maybe it was just a fluke, something that would pass in a day or two. Or maybe it was something... more. Only time would tell.

Cadden forced himself to other thoughts. Those of the mission at hand. His anger swelled as he thought on this new information. The Triad hired them to take down the very smuggling ring they were involved in from the get-go. But it raised a new question.

Why? Why would they risk their whole operation? There were certainly easier, cheaper, and less risky alternatives to cover themselves up with. And what would have happened if he and Dahdtoudi took it down past the point of repair? More concerning would be what did the Triad have planned for them in this whole process? And what could have become of any others they might have contacted? Something here didn't add up, and Cadden intended to get to the bottom of all this.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Dahdtoudi » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:21 am

Dahdtoudi watched as Cadden and the woman left, pausing to be sure no surprises awaited them in the streets. Once they were clear, the hunter returned to the building, the heavy boots of his power armor shaking the ground with each step. He scanned the chaos that remained after Dot's entrance and noticed one of the thugs struggling to crawl across the floor. Dahdtoudi went to the wounded twi'lek and grabbed him by the ankle before lifting him into the air. The thug yelled out in a mixture of pain and fear as he hung upside down, doing all he could to look anywhere but into the eyes of the metal beast that held him.

"Where is Jace Dedar?" Dahdtoudi asked in his suit's gravely monotone. The thug continued to look around him in panic, looking for anyway out. Dahdtoudi noticed a blaster wound in the twi'lek's stomach and wrapped an armored gauntlet around the thugs waist before squeezing his thumb over the wound. The twi'lek screamed in pain as Dahdtoudi squeezed, trying in vain to curl his body of the stomach wound. "Jace Dedar," Dahdtoudi said again, easing his grip.

The twi'lek gasped a moment, struggling to catch his breath in order to answer the hunter. "He went to the upper levels!" the twi'lek groaned, still grimacing. "His landing pad!"

Having the information he needed, Dahdtoudi dropped the twi'lek who immediately curled into the fetal position with a groan. "Zartok," the hunter called over his commlink. "Dedar's running. A landing pad on the upper levels. I need a waypoint."

There was a brief pause while the zabrak searched the sector's overlays. "There's a cluster of pads ten levels above you. There should be a lift northeast of your location."

Dahdtoudi watched as the waypoints appeared on the overlay on his HUD and immediately started moving. His suit could be cumbersome in tight spaces, and the hunter had to slow his pace in order to stop its momentum from carrying him into the walls on every turn. Despite his efforts though, Dahdtoudi still needed to use an arm to brace against the walls here and there, and the floor groaned and squeeled in protest with everyone of his heavy bootfalls. As Dahdtoudi lumbered down a corridor, a handful of Dedar's thugs exited a side room. They froze in the middle of the hallway upon seeing the armored hulk that was bounding towards them and showed no intention of stopping before turning around and fought with each other to get back into the room. Dahdtoudi noted the door was locked as he passed and didn't bother to neutralize the occupants behind it. They weren't his target and the hunter supposed they wouldn't be much of a threat anyway.

A new overlay appeared on Dahdtoudi's HUD, streaming live from Cadden's zabrak companion. It was a web detailing the relationships between Dedar, Min-Tulskar, a hutt named Kroda, and finally the Triad. Dahdtoudi only needed a quick glimpse to tell there was still more going on behind the Chronic than they knew. The hunter had no doubt they would find out soon, though.

As the hunter rounded the last corner before the lift, he couldn't stop his heavy suit in time to avoid what waited for him. A powerful bolt from a heavy repeater impacted against the hunter's shoulder. The suit's servos screamed and sparks flew from the explosive impact, and Dahdtoudi winced against a searing heat in his shoulder before the suit flooded the shoulder socket with a bacta-based salve to treat and seal the wound. The phrik weave of his suit's armor was strong enough to deflect most hand held weaponry, but Dedar's thugs had clearly brought out the heavy artillery in response to the armored golem that had assaulted their holdout. The heavy weapon rested on a tripod and was manned by two thugs, sitting between the hunter and the lift. Even as Dahdtoudi reeled from the weapon's impact he immediately returned fire by releasing a salvo from his gauntlet mounted grenade launcher. Two of the explosive canisters found their mark and the weapon and the thugs behind it vaporized in the violent blast. The third round went high, passing over them and detonating inside the lift. Dahdtoudi fell into the wall hard, sparks shooting from his damaged shoulder, and watched as the fiery wreckage of the lift fell away from the shaft's threshold.

Dahdtoudi pushed himself away from the wall, the impact of his suit leaving a sizeable dent behind. The hunter grimaced as he rotated the arm of the damaged shoulder. The joint was damaged and his movement was limited, but it was still functional. Dahdtoudi turned his attention to the now empty lift shaft. Black smoke billowed from the open door and drifted across the corridor's ceiling. The hunter sighed as he approached it. This operation of Cadden's and his had quickly gone down hill, and it was showing no signs of improvement. Not only that, but your typical narco smugglers couldn't afford, much less even obtain, firepower like the repeater that had nearly taken his arm off. Dahdtoudi was getting the impression that there was a much bigger entity over Dedar.

Dahdtoudi leaned into the empty lift shift and first looked down at the smoldering wreckage of the lift and then up at empty shaft as it stretched overhead. He had ten levels to climb and not a lot of time to do it if he wanted to make it to Dedar in time, and his armor's jump jets would overheat and explode if he tried to get them to carry him the whole way. The hunter would have to be careful if he didn't want to join the wreck of the lift at the bottom of the shaft.

Dahdtoudi sighed before leaping into the shaft grabbing hold of one of the countless steel beams that made up the building's skeleton. The steel groaned in the hunter's armored grip as he planted his feet against the wall and hung low before vaulting himself upward, firing his jump jets as he did. Dahdtoudi managed to pass several levels before he grabbed another beam. He let his jump jets rest a moment before launching himself into the air again. The hunter repeated this process three more times before his HUD indicated he was on the correct level.

Dahdtoudi hung from above the lift door and planted his feet against its steel side. Twice the armored hulk pushed off the door before slamming his feet back into, buckling the doors outward enough to get a hand through. Dahdtoudi's damaged arm squealed as he hung from it, using his other arm to punch through the small hole he had created and peel the doors open. As he drew his hand back, blaster bolts began impacting the other side of the door almost immediately, some even passing through the hole and glancing off the hunter's armor. Dahdtoudi reached back through the hole and blindly launched another salvo of two grenades in reply. Grenades only needed to be close, and the silence that answered the two detonations suggested that Dahdtoudi had been close enough.

The hunter swung his shoulder through the hole first and then squeezed the rest of his massive armored frame through. Ahead of him at the edge of the pad stood Dedar, staring wide-eyed at the seemingly unstoppable monster that was pursuing him as his airspeeder descended on the pad in front of him. Dahdtoudi needed to act quickly, lest his prey slip away. Even as he ran, passing over the remains left by his grenades, his suit's shoulder-mounted rail gun swung into place and hummed as it charged. Before Dedar's speeder could even touch down, Dahdtoudi's railgun ripped it in half with a signature FWWOOM-Zzzt!, the air electrified by the passing slug. The flaming wreck that had been Dedar's getaway tumbled off the edge of the pad as the man was flung backward from the blast.

Dahdtoudi hadn't stopped moving and was on him immediately, snatching him up in one powerful gauntlet and swinging him over the side of the pad. Dedar yelped meekly as he swung; his escape had collapsed in a sudden and violent instant, and his whole world with it.

"Where was the drug going?" Dahdtoudi asked fiercely, his suit making him sound like the Angel of Death. To Dedar, that's exactly who he was.

"They'll kill you for this," Dedar gasped, still trying to catch his breath from the explosion of his airspeeder. "You'll suffer, and then they'll kill you."

"As you did?" Dahdtoudi asked, his gravely tone mocking as his grip tightened on Dedar's clothes, squeezing the man's chest as they cinched tight around him. Dedar groaned and a seem split.

Then sparks shot from Dahdtoudi's shoulder and his arm faltered slightly, nearly dropping Dedar completely. The hunter frowned at his arm in alarm, but Dedar took no notice, yelping as he dangled loosely over the depths of Nar Shadaa in the hunter's grip. "Alright! Alright!" Dedar nearly shrieked. "Tatooine! It's going to Tatooine!"

"To who?" Dahdtoudi growled, tightening his grip again. More stitches popped.

"I don't know! I swear I don't know!" Dedar said, giving a panicked look over his shoulder at Nar Shadaa's depths. "Kroda knows! And Baloran! They had it all planned out! They--" Dedar screamed as sparks shot from Dahdtoudi's shoulder, accompanied by the mechanical groan of actuators failing. Dahdtoudi's arm gave completely this time, dropping the thug. The hunter was fast, though, snatching him out of the air with his other powerful arm.

Then the stitches in his jacket finally gave, and all Dahdtoudi could do was watch as Dedar fell into the darkness, his scream fading slowly behind him. Dahdtoudi glanced at the jacket in his hand, flapping limply in the crosswinds, and then back at the darkness into which Dedar fell. "Hmm," he concluded finally, stepping back from the edge.

"Dot," Dahdtoudi called over the commlink. "We're done here. I need a pickup." There was an acknowledging beep from the commlink and the hunter knew his ship was on his way. In the meantime he mulled over the new information. The Triad was behind everything, including their employment. There was a play here, and Dahdtoudi had a feeling they had a lot of digging ahead of them to get to the bottom of it. They were only at the surface.

More at hand however, there was the problem of the drugs, more specifically who they were going to on Tatooine. They weren't going to get that from Kroda. They weren't going to get anything from Kroda, for that matter. Going after the hutt would be suicide.

Dahdtoudi was brought out of his reverie when his commlink chirped. "Did you get Dedar?" Cadden.

"Yeah," Dahdtoudi replied slowly. "He, ehh... He slipped away."

"To where?" The other hunter asked. "We may be able to cut him off."

"Nah," Dahdtoudi replied. "Pretty sure he's a dead end. I'll brief you when I get into orbit." Dahdtoudi paused and then a thought occurred. "How is she?"
I bet I have less than half as many posts as some of the people who've been here less than half as long as I have...

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:51 am

"A bit shaken," Cadden said, looking back toward the cockpit, "but holding up. She's been through a lot." He thought on their predicament a moment. "She's got dirt on all of them," he continued. "We need to rendezvous to assess our situation." Both hunters knew better than to discuss their mission on a communications frequency. They would speak with each other in person. "Information and dynamics have changed." He paused. "We may be in over our heads."

"I'm on my way," Dahdtoudi responded. Cadden made his way to the Pursuer's cockpit and watched for the HWK-290 freighter that Dahdtoudi based his operations from. It wasn't long until he spotted it cruising away from the Smuggler's Moon. The two hunters settled their craft into a docking pattern and, minutes later, they were connected by the tubing between the two.

Cadden met Dahdtoudi in the cargo bay of the Praetor. He was sporting his Mandalorian armor, sans the helmet, and noticed that Dahdtoudi was already out of his powered suit. "What've we got?" Cadden asked.

Dahdtoudi shrugged nonchalantly. "Chronic is going to Tatooine, don't know to who. Kroda, or some guy named Baloran, knows."

Cadden narrowed his eyes. Kroda. "Everything is connected," he growled. "Only question is why did the Triad hire us, to begin with?" He folded his arms over his chest. "She's got information on this whole operation, with interconnected names, on Saleucami. Enough to bring them down, if the people up to the task were powerful enough."

"Going against a Hutt and the Triad would be damn near impossible," Dahdtoudi noted.

Cadden nodded. "Kroda has amassed power, influence, and wealth, to rival that of Jabba's empire back in his heyday," he said. Though he didn't know much about the Triad itself, the information that was readily available suggested they had their own private army, as well. "We'd be very hard-pressed to garner information from him. We should find out more about this Baloran fellow, get him to talk."

"Just what I was thinking," Dahdtoudi agreed. "With this mishap, though, time will be of the essence. I'd suggest splitting up."

Cadden had considered this, as well. While unwise, at this juncture, to divide their firepower when they had made such large enemies, he also knew they were racing against the clock. They either had to stay on the trail, or stay on the defensive. Well, it is said the best defense is a good offense, he thought. It didn't mean he had to like it, however. Both hunters had confidence they could not succeed, at this juncture, without the other. Whatever is being planned, here, will require both of us working together, not competing. That was going to be the Triad's undoing; they were expecting them to compete for the grand prize. But the more Cadden and Dahdtoudi learned, the more they realized that could not happen if they were to succeed, much less survive. And now that they were officially associated with Lillian, they had no choice but to see this through to the end. Whatever she got into, they were now in, simply by rule of association.

"Very well," he said. "I'll head to Saleucami and get that information. We'll rendezvous at Tatooine, and pool our resources together. Maybe we can bring this to a swift end." Though he somehow doubted that; it was more wishful thinking. Nothing is ever that easy. Cadden made his way back to the Pursuer and retracted the docking tube. After arriving in the cockpit he keyed in the coordinates for Saleucami and let the computer plot its course. As soon as it was finished, Cadden initiated the hyperspace sequence and, within seconds, the Firespray was out of the system and enroute to its destination.

Cadden spent the majority of the trip to the world in his quarters, intentionally avoiding everyone on his ship. He needed to keep a clear head while they raced to the world and gather Lillian's data, and so could not allow his personal feelings for her, no matter how undeveloped they might have been, get in the way. During this time, he had opted to change into more discreet attire, so as to not attract any attention, unwanted or otherwise. The Pursuer would attract its own attention, but Cadden was confident that he could keep using its alias, Dark Shadow, to keep eyes off them.

It took a few hours to arrive at Saleucami, and Cadden was in the cockpit just minutes away from reversion to realspace. They had no issues traveling the Pabol Hutta trade route, the fastest way to get to the planet, despite their status with Kroda. Probably haven't yet identified us, Cadden mused. Regardless, he refused to let his guard down, and as the navigation computer notified him of their arrival he eased the ship back and the sublight engines kicked in. The world was clear of any potential threats, which didn't mean much to him as he settled in on their course toward the surface, using the information Lillian provided him to navigate to their destination. Even though Kroda had no clue where Lillian's information was, Saleucami was close enough to Hutt space to be within his sphere of influence. He'd rather be overly cautious than complacent.

They entered the planet's atmosphere and Cadden took the Pursuer to its main city, and landed in the spaceport. He powered down the ship's systems, save for communications and sensors, before looking at Zartok. "This should be a quick in-and-out," he said. "Nevertheless, we need you to keep us informed on anything unusual." Cadden needed to be well-informed of the happenings on the planet. He didn't want to be caught off-guard by anyone.

Zartok nodded. "I will keep an eye out, and contact you if I notice anything amiss," he said. It had become the usual drill, which suited the Zabrak just fine, since he was uncomfortable with getting caught in the middle of Cadden's usual dealings. And it provided Cadden with an extremely useful pair of eyes when he otherwise could not monitor a situation on his own. It was actually due to Zartok that, when they had chased after Kaldone for Esran Croft, they were able to escape an otherwise fatal situation with their own lives, albeit at the expense of the original Pursuer. He was the one who rigged the ship to explode, providing an adequate distraction for their escape from Kaldone's flagship. Cadden had found they made a good team, despite their differences. And he proved more than useful in every facet of Cadden's operations these past couple months, after they had gone their separate ways about four years ago.

Has it really been that long? he thought. They only recently began to work together again, for the first time since the destruction of the Pursuer. They had a mutual falling out after Kaldone was captured and went their separate ways to pursue their own ventures. Since then, Zartok had disappeared, simply fell off the grid. Cadden had figured he left because he was not too keen of the lifestyle. Though if that were the case, he had to wonder why Zartok had recently opted to join him once more.

He led Lillian out of the docking bay he rested the ship in and nodded to her. "Lead on," he said.

Lillian guided him through the city until they reached a fairly nondescript run-down small building. She input a key sequence on its main terminal and the door slid open. The two entered, whereupon Lillian approached a segment of the far wall in the main living area. She slid her hand across a very specific segment of the metal wall, and a hidden panel popped out. Cadden grinned. "Impressive," he said. Even watching her at work, he couldn't see the outline of the panel. She didn't even acknowledge him, and continued to work. Before long, a segment of the floor slid open, and Lillian approached the hidden compartment and produced a data disc. "Is that all of it?" Cadden asked.

"This is it," she confirmed. Cadden reached for it, but Lillian withdrew the disc. He frowned. "What are you going to do with it?" she asked.

Cadden scowled at her. "We don't exactly have time for this," he said, agitated. "You know what I'm going to do with it."

"You're a bounty hunter," she said. "How do I know you're playing the right side? That you're not hired on by Kroda?"

"Because, if I were, you'd either be dead by now, or in binders." Cadden kept his hand held out. "You're taking a lot on faith, already. If you thought I was a threat, we wouldn't even be here. Now, hand it over."

She hesitated a moment before giving him the disc. "Sorry," she said, "given all I've been through, I have to doubt everything." Cadden could understand that. They picked her up from the belly of the beast itself. Of course she'd be hesitant to trust him.

"So is this the real data?" he said, his look clearly expressing his own doubts.

She nodded. "It's the only copy."

"Then let's go put it to use." Cadden keyed in a command on his wristpad and brought it up to his mouth. "We've got what we came here for. We're on our way back."

"Copy," Zartok's voice responded over the comm frequency.

Cadden led her from the building, and took note of two Seltiss-2 caravels soaring in formation overhead. "What's our situation with potential company?" he said through the wristpad.

"There's been some activity, but nothing warranting attention," Zartok responded.

"Still, I don't like it. Prep the ship for liftoff, we'll be there soon." Cadden didn't feel anything through the Force, but if word got out a Force-wielder was on their scent, he could see this all end very quickly, and very badly. He looked at Lillian. "We need to move, fast."

"Why?" she wondered. "What's wrong?"

"Those were Seltiss-2 caravels. Used almost exclusively by the Hutts." Cadden's eyes narrowed. "I very much doubt we're alone." Saleucami wasn't a Hutt-controlled world - last Cadden checked, it was neutral, having declared its own independence from the Empire after Endor - but that just made a better excuse for Kroda's thugs to chase them. Question being, how did they know where to look, if that were the case? They didn't exactly have any clues as to who was involved in the attack until it was too late, and the Hutts would have had to have a presence on the world in order to find them without tracking them. And no one tracks my ship.

Perhaps, then, Kroda or another Hutt had some holdings on the planet, and the sight of the ships was merely a coincidence. At either rate, Cadden wasn't keen on sticking around to find out.

They made it back to the Pursuer without incident and Cadden immediately went to the cockpit and fired up the ship's engines. He eased on the throttle and proceeded to accelerate away from the docking bay. Within minutes, they were free of the planet's gravity. Cadden checked the radar. All was quiet. He let out a breath, plugged Tatooine into the ship's navigation computer, and waited for the calculations to complete before he initiated the jump to lightspeed, leaving Saleucami far behind them.

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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Sun May 29, 2016 2:38 pm

The Pursuer II eased out of hyperspace, the blue vortex replaced by the familiar visual of outer space and, right before them, the desolate world Tatooine. He immediately got to work scanning the planet and orbit for Dahdtoudi. It didn't take long for him to pick up the ship's signature in orbit. Cadden initiated a link with the other hunter's ship. "Dahdtoudi," he said over the comm, "did you find anything?"

"Tatooine is a front for their distribution operations," Dahdtoudi's voice came in over the comm. "Best to talk more in person." Made sense. If Dahdtoudi found out anything, he would have shaken things up a bit in the process. Anyone monitoring communications frequencies could just as well listen in and discern their next move.

The two ships docked and Cadden met Dahdtoudi in his ship once more. Cadden and Lillian were both present, this time, with Zartok manning the controls in the Pursuer's cockpit to keep an eye on things in the system. "Lillian's information seems to suggest the Triad is using Kroda's underworld resources to distribute the Chronic to their various cells throughout the galaxy," Cadden said. "Looks like they're planning to step up their game, though for what it did not say. There were only a few locations that were mentioned, one of which was here, but the information alone is definitely enough to implicate Kroda."

Dahdtoudi nodded. "I missed Baloran," he said, "but managed to get a list of distribution locations. There are a couple dozen set up across the galaxy. Possibly more."

"So we destroy the distribution lines," Cadden said, "but we'd still have this stuff out there. We'd only be temporarily hampering their operations. We still need to find the source."

"I can handle that," Lillian spoke up. "Just get me to a terminal that can access the data."

"So we're going from center to center until we find the manufacturing plant?" Cadden asked. "By the time we get all this sorted out, they'll have moved their operations to another front."

Dahdtoudi thought on it for a moment. "I'll take the operations stemming from here," he said. "See if you can find the manufacturer and branch out from there. I'll transmit what I've got to you, see what you can dig up."

Cadden just nodded. Dahdtoudi had enough firepower to knock out the supply chains on his own, it seemed, which made the most sense to Cadden. He needed to focus on finding where they made the Chronic and cease its creation all together. Lillian's skills would be better put to use in determining where that might be, rather than chasing leads across the galaxy. "Don't hesitate to call if you need assistance," Cadden said. "Taking on Kroda's empire alone is no easy task for either of us."

"You're not exactly a one-man army, either," Dahdtoudi commented. "Better not get in over your head. Any of this goes wrong, we're back to square one. Assuming we'd survive any screw ups."

Cadden nodded in agreement. "Tread lightly," he said, and motioned Lillian to accompany him back to the Pursuer. Once the two ships disconnected, Cadden keyed in some coordinates following the information Dahdtoudi provided him.

"Are you sure we can trust him?" Lillian asked over his shoulder. "I have a bad feeling about all of this."

Cadden shrugged. "No reason not to," he said casually. "We're all in this together, now. Besides, despite my initial reservations, he's given me no cause to doubt him, yet."

"Your initial reservations?"

"We started this as competitors for the big prize," Cadden said. "Once we started digging, however, we learned this isn't am operation either of us could take down alone. He wouldn't do anything to jeopardize the end result, unless he has a death wish." The route finished calculating and Cadden eased the ship forward into hyperspace. "We're wen route to Keraph," he announced after a few seconds, "a planet along the edge of the Mid and Outer Rim Territories, out near the Nothoiin Cooridor. According to Dahdtoudi's information, it has seen increased traffic in the past several months."

The door opened and Zartok entered the cockpit. Cadden paid him only little attention, though the Zabrak's presence did save him the effort of having to repeat the plan of attack to him later.

"So what's the plan?" Lillian said. "Sneak in and sabotage their operation quietly, or are we going to go in guns blazing?"

Cadden detected the agitation in her voice. She clearly disapproved of the way her rescue was handled. "No need to make them aware of what we know," he said. "With an organization like this, subtlety often works better than war."

"Right," Zartok said, "because so far that's been working like a charm." Cadden looked back at the Zabrak who was working the rear console of the cockpit.

"You got a better idea?" he asked. Cadden raised his eyebrows, waiting for a response.

"So far, we've lacked any kind of forward reconnaissance," the Zabrak said. "You've gone to locations with little information on what to expect. If we're to survive this, that will need to change. The Triad has already demonstrated their prowess, we know what they're capable of. Let's use what we know about how they handle threats to our advantage."

"We've had very little opportunity to properly gain forward intel on their operations," Cadden said.

"Until now." Zartok looked at Lillian. "We're all in this together, she needs to do her part to see this through."

Lillian frowned, but Cadden held up his hand. "I see where this is going," he said. "Lillian, what can you get for us on the Triad's Keraph operations?"

"Get me to the right terminal and I can get you everything down to janitorial scheduled breaks," she said.

Cadden nodded. "We'll start with that, compile the information, and take down the operation before they even know what hit them."

The journey to Keraph was uneventful and, upon entering the system, Cadden immediately plotted a course for the industrial district of the planet's capital city. He brought the ship down in its authorized docking space at the spaceport and shut it down.

"The data Dahdtoudi provided suggests there's a small operations center nearby," Cadden said. "We can get you to a terminal, there, and gather the intelligence we need to stage an assault on the manufacturing plant. With any luck, we should be able to get a lead, from there, on any other locations they're producing the Chronic."

"You're suspecting more than one source?" Zartok said.

"It's a big galaxy, I would be very surprised if all their Chronic stemmed from only one point of origin." Cadden strapped his BlasTech DH-17 to his hip. He was going in sans his armor, this time, to reduce recognition as much as possible. They needed to remain discreet in this operation. The moment whoever ran the Triad discovered what was going on, they'd lose every advantage they've gained this far. Which, admittedly, amounted to very little. "We'll go in, get the information, and stage the operation against their supply chain, here. We will then need to move fast before the trail goes cold."

Cadden and Lillian arrived at the operations center under the cover of night, and she used her skills to override the back door security, granting them access to the building. Security was minimal, and Cadden was able to take down any problems that arose without raising an alarm. They found the building's main terminal and Lillian got to work downloading the data.

"You do realize the moment they figure out what we're doing, they're going to be sending people after us?" Lillian asked.

Cadden didn't respond initially. He already figured that angle when they had connected the Chronic to the Triad. The problem wasn't not seeing retaliation coming, but rather not knowing how to properly deal with it. All they knew about the Triad thus far was they had a wealth of resources at their disposal and would not hesitate to use them to their fullest extent if it meant removing threats from the picture. "We'll deal with that when we cross that bridge," he said after a moment.

"We'll be crossing that bridge sooner than any of you realize," she argued. "When the Triad wants you out of the picture, they don't hold back. They take you out of the picture." The information finished compiling a couple minutes later. "There," Lillian continued. "I have the coordinates for the manufacturing center, plus four others throughout the Outer Rim."

Five total, Cadden mused. And that was just that they knew of. He activated his comm link. "Zartok, standby with information. I need a full analysis and compilation of what's headed your way."

They returned to the ship after the information had been collected and started to formulate a plan of action. Between all five worlds that the manufacturing plants were confirmed to be located, they needed to find a string to flow from one point to another, to go to each place with as much haste as possible. "Start compiling the shortest routes to each one," Cadden said to Zartok. "We need to hit each place as quickly, and as hard, as we can. Lillian and I will start here. I'm counting on you to get us to the next stage in these operations."

Zartok nodded. "We'll be ready for the next target before this one is disabled," he said.

"Take note, the Triad will start to move their operations the moment this plant is destroyed," Cadden said. "We need to stay one step ahead of them."

"That's impossible," Lillian said.

"No," Cadden said, "it's not. And we will prove that to the galaxy."

Cadden and Lillian both remained minimally armed and armored as they worked their way toward the manufacturing plant. The closer they got, the more Triad they had to dispose of. Cadden remained on point and guided Lillian through the process. Despite the fact she possessed minimal experience in combat situations, she proved to be amazingly versatile and quick to learn. She wouldn't become a marksman or tactician overnight, but she was starting to get comfortable with using a blaster and engaging in combat. Cadden wasn't about to try to turn her into something she wasn't, however, and only pushed her as far as she was comfortable in going.

Within an hour, the two were at the manufacturing plant, and Cadden was surveying the security around the building. "It's tight," he said quietly, "but not impregnable." He pointed to a side door at the far corner of the building. "That's our best bet inside. The main entrance will be too heavily guarded, and our presence will be alerted immediately. The loading dock will be too closely monitored, and even if we could reach the rooftop, chances are good they have sentries posted that would shoot us dead, then report us, before we have the opportunity to strike. Once we're inside, we need to get to the central operations terminal and download all we can. Then we need to override the production consoles, which should cause a system malfunction and create a chain reaction, destroying the facility."

Lillian frowned. "We better be in a position to get out in time. I can set a delay timer, but we have to take into consideration the time it would take them to detect any anomalies in the system and make corrective actions."

"How much time will they have?" Cadden asked.

Lillian shrugged. "Depends on how much time we have. Ideally, they would never discover the intrusion and tampering of their system. Depends on their security, which, of course, we can't determine until we encounter it."

Cadden nodded. "Let's get to it, then." Cadden silently cleared the entrance of its patrolmen, and signaled Lillian the go-ahead to hack the door. Within seconds they had their entry, and the two proceeded into the building. Cadden led Lillian through the wing of the factory, both disposing of Triad personnel as appropriately as the situation allowed, until they found their way into the room housing the central hub. Cadden motioned Lillian to get to work while he took up a defensive position at the door.

"It won't take them long to send a detachment down here," he said. On their way through the factory he noted several security cameras. He shot each one out in order to keep their intentions hidden from whoever may be watching, but it was plainly obvious they could expect visitors at any time, now. Anyone watching would have noted their general path, and could put the pieces together to determine their destination.

"How long do you think we have?" Lillian asked.

Cadden shrugged. "Minutes? Maybe half an hour? Just do what you can. First sign of trouble and we need to move. Get the data, first. That is our priority."

Lillian was already working fast. After a moment, she frowned. "There are two more factories on this world, alone," she noted. "It seems the other four planets that are producing this stuff have at least two factories, each, as well."

"Looks like we've got our work cut out for us," Cadden said. "Can you remote in to any of them?"

"I can try." Lillian executed a few more commands, then smiled. "The good news is I should be able to set the other two off on this world from here."

"And the bad news?"

"I can't delay it, and they'll be able to trace it back to here. Chances are good they'd find the intrusion and stop the overload."

Cadden thought on their predicament for a couple seconds. "But they can only stop it from the source, correct?" Lillian nodded. "Reduce the timer to, say, ten minutes."

"You're insane."

"Maybe, but they wouldn't be able to stop it on time, either."

Lillian shook her head. "I have no intention of dying," she protested.

"And you won't. Trust me." Lillian just stared at him. "The clock is ticking, and the longer we wait, the more likely we fail." She finally admitted defeat and got to work. Within moments she looked at Cadden and nodded.

"It's done," she said. "Override commands have been sent to the other two facilities on this planet, and I've initiated the countdown for this one. The console has been locked, however, any decent slicer could break back into it and stop the process."

Cadden approached the console and aimed his blaster, pulling the trigger. "An extra security measure," he said. "Let's go. We've got ten minutes to get out." He opened the door and noted a small squadron of guards rushing their position. It took them a little longer than Cadden was expecting, but they did respond. Cadden and Lillian opened fire on the Triad soldiers. While Cadden scored most of the kills in the small detachment sent after term, she did manage to fell a couple of the men. When it was all clear, Cadden lead them through the facility toward their exit. He produced his commlink and spoke into it. "Zartok," he said, "be on the lookout for any outbound traffic from the factory. I want all possible vehicles tagged."

"Already on it," Zartok said.

Cadden pocketed the device and the two worked their way out of the facility, running in to a few more patrols as they made their way to the street and into a side alley across from their exit. "We need to make ourselves scarce," Cadden said. "No doubt they've already tagged us, by now, and they're going to be looking for us. It won't take long before the Triad will find us."

"Are you sure this plan will hold?" Lillian said.

"No," was all Cadden said. They were three blocks away when they heard the explosion. Cadden turned to see the sky glow red, and watched as some debris was lifted into the air. There were going to be civilian casualties, he knew, but it was the only way to properly shut down the operation without compromising the bigger mission. "We need to move," he said after a few seconds.

They made their way back to the Pursuer II, and Cadden wasted no time prepping the ship for liftoff. Zartok was feeding him information on two cargo vehicles that had left the main factory just moments before it blew and were last seen entering the spaceport. They were monitoring the air traffic for the ships the cargo would have been loaded onboard as the Pursuer lifted off. It was only minutes later a single transport was identified leaving the spaceport and entering orbit. Cadden brought the ship around on an intercept path.

"If we engage them, we'll be identified by both the Triad and any local authorities," Lillian said.

"That ship cannot be allowed to reach its destination," Cadden argued.

"What's onboard that makes it worth the risk?" she asked. Cadden didn't respond. "We should let them go. Dahdtoudi is tracking down the distribution centers. They only have so many places to go. Destroying that ship does us no good." Cadden did not deviate from the course. He watched as the HUD tracked their range to his target. He felt a hand gently grip his shoulder. "Let it go, Cadden," Lillian said softly.

Cadden scowled and, a few seconds later, broke from his attack pattern. He reached up and triggered the ship's transmitter. "Dahdtoudi," he said, "three down. Be on the lookout for a cargo vessel, the Razor's Edge. ZZ-class frieghter. Identified leaving the scene." He paused a second. "I couldn't get to it before it left the system. Highly suspect of transporting goods." Cadden disengaged the transmitter and looked over his shoulder at Lillian, who gave him a look. "Don't start," he said.

Lillian scowled. "I just saved our hides," she spat. "Possibly even the mission."

Cadden looked over the navigation computer as it finished its calculations for hyperspace. He reached forward and initiated the jump into lightspeed, leaving the system behind. "Maybe," he said, getting out of his seat, "or maybe it jeopardized everything." He pushed by her and made his way to his personal quarters. The jump would not take long, and he needed to be ready for the next stage of the mission. The Triad would want to know who took down their operations on Keraph, and they would be out for blood.

"Let it go," Lillian's words echoed. He stopped a moment and slammed his fist against the bulkhead. He shook the pain off, and looked at his armor a moment, and reached for it, but stopped just before he touched the helmet.

No, he thought, this requires more guile than it does firepower. He withdrew his hand, and looked next to the armor instead. Folded there was his undercover gear, consisting of blaster-resistant armorweave material. Within minutes he was adorning black cargo pants, a black sleeveless undershirt and a brown gilet. He finished with his black fingerless gloves and utility belt. Finally, he re-holstered his blaster pistol and looked at his lightsabers, before tucking each within the belt. He exited his quarters to see Lillian standing there, clearly waiting for him.

"Look, our methods are clearly very different," she said, "but I've more experience and exposure to the Triad than you do. You need to trust me."

Cadden folded his arms over his chest. "Very well," he said, "what are you suggesting? We let all our leads and evidence escape the scene?"

She sighed heavily. "No," she said, "but if it means our own lives, and avoiding detection by those who are now looking for us, then letting a few targets go every now and again could just get us out of this alive." She looked him over. "Why did you lie to him?" Cadden frowned. "Why did you tell him you couldn't reach the ship?"

"The second I let my guard down," Cadden said, "I become vulnerable. Especially against a competitor."

"You said you two were allies," Lillian said.

"Reluctant." Cadden pushed himself from the wall and started back toward the cockpit. "The second this mission is over, it will be no different between us. He can't be allowed any advantages over me. Any weaknesses."

"And what about me?" she asked. Cadden stopped. "Am I a weakness?"

"No," Cadden said, choosing his words carefully. "You're an asset." He went through the door, and sat himself in the pilot's chair. He closed his eyes and focused on the Force, relaxing his nerves and his emotions. Cadden took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He had about half an hour before they arrived at their destination, he needed a sharp mind and a quick wit to get them through this.

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Cadden
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:13 am

The Zhar system was fairly desolate and unimportant as far as galactic politics were concerned. The star was orbited by only two planets: the gas giant Zhar and the more distant, uninhabitable Taibas. The intelligence on Triad operations, here, was very misleading, which gave Cadden reason to question their every move going forward. The manufacturing plants were actually located on two of Zhar's moons, one on Gall and the other on Kile.

"I'm starting to see the connection, here," Cadden said as they approached the gas giant. "There is no singular source to the Chronic. Kile and Gall each have different terrain and resources than Keraph, so why are they among the manufacturing locations?"

"Separate materials are being harvested from different locations throughout the galaxy," Lillian noted. "They must be shipping them to a singular facility which puts the different ingredients together and manufactures the final product."

"Exactly. Which is probably where that freighter was headed." Cadden guided the ship toward Gall. "We need to not only destroy the manufacturing locations, but also all schematics and instructions on making the Chronic. Knocking out these manufacturing centers won't bring this to an end, they can always set up shop elsewhere. And I doubt that the plant that is assembling the final product is in sole possession of that information."

"So we're on a wild bantha chase," Lillian said. "Outstanding."

"Not necessarily," Cadden said. "Perhaps we need to make ourselves visible to the Triad, make our intentions known."

Lillian frowned. "How will that help us end this?"

"If the Triad learns we're onto them and closing in, they'll want to reel in their Chronic operations, and clamp down on the security of their formula."

"And then we'd lose all our leads," she argued. "I don't see how that's a good plan."

Cadden smirked. "All we need to do is track one copy of that formula," he said. "They'll want to relocate all their copies to a singular, secure facility while they reprioritize. If we can trace it back to its source..."

"Then we can eradicate all of it in one shot," Lillian finished. "But what about the Chronic that will still be floating around? All they'd have to do is reverse engineer it. Even if it takes years, this stuff is valuable enough to devote that much time and effort toward."

"Dahdtoudi won't stop until all the distribution operations are destroyed," Cadden said. "That just leaves us finding the source, and putting down Kroda's smuggling front."

"You make it sound so easy," she said sarcastically.

"If it were easy, they wouldn't have bothered to hire us to stop it to begin with." Cadden stopped and stared at Gall, as the Pursuer II approached high orbit.

"But why did they hire you, if it would only hurt them?" Lillian asked. "That doesn't make any sense."

"No," Cadden said slowly, "but it's starting to."

He brought the ship down at Gall City and looked out the viewport at the bustling activity before them. In this particular area, the Triad would not be operating within the city limits themselves. There were plenty of locations they could have set up shop, he knew, but the intelligence they gathered from Keraph indicated there was a small refinery center in the canyons to the south of the city. It was small, and out of the way, and operated well under the Republic's radar.

"What's going on?" Lillian pressed. "The Triad wouldn't send bounty hunters to put an end to one of their own operations."

"They didn't," Cadden said, "but we've been made to think they did. The Triad wanted the best of the best on this hunt, and when we knock out the entire operation, they could quietly resume it under a different guise and we'd all be none the wiser. All because information of this whole op managed to leak into the wrong hands. Very dangerous hands. They found and captured you, but because you wouldn't give up the location of your information, they had to take it to the next level. They're orchestrating this entire thing, and they've done a damn good job at it, too."

"So we're just going to play their game, and hope we win? Doesn't sound very promising."

"We'll play their game," Cadden said, "but that doesn't mean we have to play by their rules." Cadden produced a small object from one of this utility belt pouches. "Destroying the manufacturing plants will be a useless venture, unless we know where their secure data hub is."

"And you know who does," Lillian said, looking at the device intently.

"No, but if I were to make an educated guess, I'd be willing to bet I can get us in the right direction. We stir the hornet's nest enough, and he'll show his face."

"Baloran," Lillian said. Cadden nodded. "And how do we find him?"

"I have a feeling he'll find us," Cadden said, twirling the object between his fingers. "Just need to give him enough of a reason to."

The journey to the canyon was short, and upon their arrival they immediately began to survey the area for the refinery. It wasn't long until they located it, a small structure built at the base of the canyon with a landing pad nearby. The operation, here, was small-time, by nature, to avoid suspicion from the New Republic. Cadden noted the landing pad was occupied by a single YT-2000 freighter, and guarded by four armed men while three workers were loading small crates onto the ship. He pointed at the craft. "They're already loading the ship for a delivery," he said. "All we need to do is make a commotion. They'll be rushed to take off, and won't realize they are guiding us right to the main manufacturing center."

"So long as they don't find the device," Lillian remarked. "They find out we're tracking them, it all goes out the window."

"They won't. That's where you come in." She looked at him. "All you need to do is provide a distraction. I don't need long, but I can't secure the tracking device without one."

"What do you have in mind?" she asked.

Cadden nodded to the refinery. "Located adjacent from the docking pad is a fueling pump," he said. "Use the charges to set it off, and it will provide enough time for me to secure the homing beacon. The explosion should be enough to damage the refinery, and they'd have no choice but to leave with what they've currently got. We don't need to make a bold statement, here. We only need to get them to move with urgency. If they don't suspect they are being followed, we can successfully track them to the main manufacturing plant and end the operation, there. It will cause enough of an alarm to bring Baloran out of hiding, and from there we can discover where they keep their secrets."

"I hope you know what you're doing," Lillian said with a conceding sigh.

Cadden nodded toward the refueling pod, motioning her to move, while he started in the opposite direction. Within minutes he was at the base of the canyon and was moving from cover to cover, staying out of sight. He got close enough to the YT-2000, keeping a careful eye on his surroundings, and produced the homing beacon. He waited patiently for a few more minutes before a loud explosion sounded off opposite the refinery. Cadden looked on as a fireball erupted above the structure, and a few smaller explosions protruded from the building itself. The guards and crew immediately turned their attention from their duties toward the blast, giving Cadden his brief window of opportunity. He rose from his cover and threw the homing beacon at the ship, watching it latch on securely aft of the cockpit, just under the protruding lip of the dorsal turret station. He ducked back behind his crate just seconds before he would have otherwise been noticed, and kept an eye on his surroundings as the personnel on the docking pad barked commands and orders at each other. As he predicted, they were scrambling to get the rest of the cargo onboard, no doubt expecting the ship to be the next target.

Cadden quietly slipped away, taking each opportunity as it came along to stay out of sight, and made his way back to the rendezvous point where he waited for Lillian. She was a couple minutes behind him, and arrived just as the last of the cargo, supplies, and personnel were being loaded onboard. The ship's engines fired up and the YT-2000 lifted off the landing pad and ascended above the canyon. Once it was clear, Cadden observed what was left of the site, the refinery itself a mere burning furnace. "That will hurt them just enough to start looking in to who is targeting their facilities," he said. "The Pursuer's systems will track that ship across the galaxy. In the meanwhile, we need to pay the Triad at Kile a visit. The longer a head start we give them, the less likely they'll think they're being followed."

"Will we have time?" Lillian asked. "The more we give them, the less likely they will stay at the target destination long enough to track them there."

"Kile has next to nothing on it," Cadden said. "There's no point to being cautious, this time."

They made their way back to the ship and Cadden piloted the Pursuer II toward the other moon. The YT-2000 was long gone, now, and Cadden was already tracking its route through hyperspace. Cadden locked in the coordinates for the manufacturing plant on Kile as they approached the moon.

"Wait, what are you planning?" Lillian asked, the tone in her voice suggesting an answer was unnecessary.

"Making a statement," Cadden said as he eased the Pursuer toward the structure on the moon's surface below. "A loud one."

"If they identify us..."

"It will put their focus on us," Cadden finished. "And bring Baloran out of hiding. He'd want to deal with us, himself."

"Are you certain? This could prove detrimental to this whole operation."

"I'm sure of it." Cadden locked on his target and fired a volley of proton torpedoes at the structure and its surrounding support operations. The projectiles hit their mark, lighting the area up in explosions. He brought the ship around in a wide circling pattern to observe the damage caused firsthand before he was satisfied that they would not be able to salvage the operation, there. He brought the ship back into the moon's orbit and started to compute their next jump. The suspect YT-2000 was still enroute to its destination, but he could use its exit vector to start the chase. He plugged in the coordinates for the first star system the route the ship took would have crossed through when the radar sounded off. He frowned. "Looks like we've got company," he said. Cadden banked the ship hard around to face the three incoming ships. "I guess the Triad has a small base on Kile, as well. We'll need to knock it out before leaving."

"But we've done what we needed to do, this is just wasting time," Lillian objected.

Cadden shook his head. "They don't know that we know," he argued. "I intend to keep it that way. If we just leave them alone, they're going to start suspecting something is amiss. I don't want them jumping to any conclusions. As far as they know, we still think we're taking down a smuggling ring."

The Pursuer II approached the incoming ships, a couple Z-95 Headhunters lead by a single R-41 Starchaser. Dated craft, but dangerous enough in the right hands. Cadden let loose laserfire from the Pursuer's two twin turreted dual blaster cannons, successfully dispersing the enemy ships while depleting one of the Z-95's shields. He chose to follow that one, first, and within seconds the lasers tore through its hull.

The Pursuer II screeched a warning and, despite Cadden's evasive maneuvers, the shields were hit hard. The missile was followed by laserfire as he pushed the ship around, cutting the throttle to give him sharper maneuverability, and brought the Pursuer II behind the R-41. Sparing no additional time, Cadden fired two missiles at the craft and their guided systems found their mark, crippling the ship. He rolled the Pursuer II around to face off against the remaining Z-95, which had just hit him with laser bolts during a strafing run.

Cadden opened fire, anticipating the Z -95's moves as the laserfire cut into its path and wore down its shields. The front shields buckled and, as he expected, the pilot frantically compensated by redistributing power. He changed his focus to the aft shields and, within seconds, he broke through and tore into the craft's engines. They lit up in an explosion, scattering debris across the area.

Cadden turned the ship around to meet the crippled R-41 Starchaser, and instead of finishing the job he pushed past them toward the moon. "You're leaving them?" Lillian said.

"Someone needs to report this," Cadden said. "I'm willing to bet they still have friends in the system they can relay this skirmish to, and get the word out." Cadden soared high across the surface until he found the base the fighters would have come from. It was small, and appeared to be there as a response to rival criminal activity. Cadden wouldn't let it stand. He pulled the trigger, sending two proton torpedoes colliding into the structure, before pulling up and checking the Pursuer's console. "Looks like our friends have dropped out of lightspeed in the Lok system." He punched in the coordinates, and the ship entered lightspeed.

"That can't be their final destination," Lillian noted.

"No," Cadden agreed. "They're likely just altering course, perhaps to get to the Corellian Run. We'll follow them, from a distance. They won't detect us so long as the sensor mask is active." He looked over his shoulder. "Go get some rest," he said. "I'm not expecting us to run into any trouble anytime soon." Lillian nodded and left the cockpit.

Cadden sat back in his chair and let out a hefty sigh. The cockpit door slid open and Zartok took the seat behind him. "So where to, next?" he asked.

"I don't know," Cadden said, staring out the viewport. "Wherever the ship takes us. They dropped out of lightspeed in the Lok system a few minutes ago. I don't expect them to stick around. All we can do is follow the signal."

"And if they discover they're being tracked?" Zartok asked.

Cadden remained silent for a minute. "Then hopefully Dahdtoudi is having better luck than we are."

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Cadden
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Re: Tangled Webs

Post by Cadden » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:32 pm

The YT-2000 was traced to the Mid Rim world of Druckenwell, and then further still down the Corellian Run to Denon. There the ship landed within the bustling industrial sector of the ecumenopolis. Cadden was hardly pleased with this development. It may as well have been Coruscant, itself, for all the good it'd do us, he thought sourly. With a population of over hive hundred billion, they would have to change their plans significantly for this particular sting. Not that there was much of a plan to begin with. So far their collectively near plan consisted of finding a lead and chasing it to the next. Even if this produced much better results than he had hoped for, it would only lead them to another layer in the Triad's intricate operations. At what point, he wondered, would they reach the end?

The Pursuer II touched down in a docking bay a few kilometers away from the building the YT-2000 resided in. Cadden chose to remain in his more discreet attire for this part of the operation, relying on the relatively incognito status it would grant him. At the first sign of trouble from either Cadden or Dahdtoudi, the entire hunt would become forfeit. They were fortunate enough to get this far along without triggering the Triad's ire. Or, maybe, we already have, and now they're just playing us. It was difficult to determine which was true, and that disturbed Cadden. He didn't like not being ahead of his enemies.

Regardless, the only direction they could take at this point was forward. And so forward they went. Cadden led Lillian to the docking bay that the YT-2000 had landed in. Much to their good fortune, the ship was still there, and better still it had two of the men from Gall guarding it. There were at least six that managed to get to the ship during the ruckus, he thought. But he only needed one to tell him where the others went. He lead Lillian around the perimeter and into the main entrance of the docking bay, where he immediately unholstered his blaster pistol and fired two well-placed shots at the men, hitting one in the leg and the other in the hip. Both went down, and Cadden motioned her to secure the one with the note grievous injury while he approached the one cradling his leg and crouched over him.

"I'm only going to ask once," he said, pointing his blaster haphazardly at the man's chest. "Where are they taking the ship's manifest?"

"Go to Hell," the man grunted. Cadden sighed and pulled the trigger, and the man let out a painful yell. He didn't hit any of his vital organs, though if he didn't get medical attention quick enough, he would die all the same.

Cadden got up and approached the one with the hip injury. "Maybe your answer will be more to my liking?" he said. He pointed his blaster at this man's head. "Tell me what I want to know, and you live." Though such a threat may be empty with him, as well, he realized. "Otherwise, you can join your friend over there, suffering your final moments in life. Perhaps choking on your own blood." The man's eyes narrowed, though they quickly widened as he saw Cadden produce the vibroknife. Cadden spared a glance at Lillian, who was giving him a silent yet unfavorable glare. He chose to ignore it. "What will it be? Live, and have the chance to not only save your own life but that of your friend's over there, as well, or die a slow, agonizing death?"

The man weighed his choices, and quickly relented. "Th-They are delivering it to the Sahr Corporation processing plant," he said.

"Why?" Cadden demanded.

"All-All of the components g-go there, to be assembled."

Cadden narrowed his eyes. Into the Chronic, he allowed. "See to your friend," he said, and holstered both the knife and the blaster.

"What was that?" Lillian demanded after they were out of the port, stopping both in their tracks. "Killing in battle, in self-defense, I get, but torture?"

"His life wasn't in danger," Cadden said dismissively. "Not from me, anyway. I did them both a disservice keeping them alive. The second their superiors learn he gave us that information, he's as good as dead. Or worse." He quickly noticed she wasn't following him and stopped, turning to look at her.

"You're no better than them," she said. Those words stung Cadden harder than he would have otherwise thought. "If this is the direction you're going to go, then I want no part of it."

"He was going to talk," Cadden assured her. "The knife was just for show." Though, he wondered, if she wasn't around, would that have still held true?

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?" she said. "What if he didn't talk? Would you have continued, like you did with the other? How slow, how painful, just for some information?" When Cadden didn't answer, she just shook her head. "I thought you were different. Now I'm not so sure if I'm any safer with you than I was with them." Lillian turned and started to walk away.

Cadden hesitated a moment, struggling to find the right words. It's almost like Renalla all over again, he thought. "Damnit," Cadden muttered. "I meant it," he called after her. She stopped. "When I said I'm going to keep you safe. I meant that. If you don't want to be a part of this, fine, but realize that if you walk away, you're as good as dead. Sticking with me is your best shot at survival." He hesitated once more. She noticed, he knew. It's the only reason why she's not still walking away. "Sticking together is our best chance at survival. I..." He fumbled for words, but they didn't come easily. "I need you. Trust me when I say I take no joy in any of this. But your life is more important than any of theirs."

"How can you hope to save me when you can't even save yourself?" she said. "You may not take any joy in this, but that doesn't change the fact it comes to you as naturally as breathing. That you've no qualms going to these extreme measures to get your results." Cadden turned. "What if you fail?" she asked to his back. "What if, in protecting me, you kill me?"

Do you want me to say it? he thought. "Then I, too, will die," he said over his shoulder. He wanted to say it, but he still feared it was merely fleeting emotions. They had been working together for only a couple weeks, now, and Cadden had learned a bit about Lillian, as she did him. Not enough to justify how he felt, granted, but his feelings were not faltering, as he initially thought they would. The close proximity they were from each other did not help, either. "Know that if it meant saving your life, I would willingly lay my own down. And I would do whatever was necessary." Cadden paused. "You'd be safer onboard the Pursuer than when me. Best wait for me, there, if you plan to stick around."

He started walking away, dreading the silence that followed his declaration. This was a mistake, he thought. All of this. He held no doubts, at this point, but there was nothing he could do about it. He was in over his head, both with Lillian and with the Triad, but he was so involved in it that there was no other way out of all of this. Even if I did decide to walk out, they would hound me until the end of my days.

"That's debatable," Lillian finally said, and was soon at his side, much to his surprise. "I don't approve of your methods, but you have proven that I can trust them." She looked at him in the eyes, and Cadden almost found himself lost in hers. "Just promise me something."

"Anything," Cadden found himself saying.

"No more." Cadden raised an eyebrow. "No more torture, no more brutality, just... no more."

Cadden nodded. "Fair enough." The terms were simple enough to abide by, and he had no intention to repeat the scene in the docking bay, anyway. Though that's easy to claim, he thought bitterly. She's not wrong. It does come to me as naturally as breathing. He wondered what she would have thought of him if he told her of all the things he'd done, if he divulged with her the dark details of his past. The people he's killed, his fall to the dark side of the Force. All the blood that was on his hands from those both guilty and deserving of it and those that were not. Try as I might to change myself from that man, I'm unlikely to ever be anyone different. Would she walk away, never to be seen again, if she knew who I truly am?

The trip to the Sahr Corporation processing plant was uncomfortably silent. Lillian wasn't as comfortable around him as she had been before, Cadden knew, but she was still willing to give him that second chance. It's more than most would offer, he thought. The second they laid eyes on the building, however, Cadden immediately had a very bad feeling. "This isn't a processing plant," he noted. "It's a fortress." While it was true the location was fitted for its designated purpose, it was teeming with guards in varying sets of armor. They weren't the mere security forces Cadden had come to expect, either. It's a private army, or near enough. "This won't be easy."

"That's an understatement," Lillian said bitterly. "So, now what?"

Cadden produced his commlink. "Now we go with Plan B."

Two hours passed, as Cadden waited and watched. He was using all his senses, everything he had, to map the entire plan out, observing guard patrols, getting an idea through the Force what to expect inside, and obtaining layout feedback from Zartok back on the Pursuer II. Finally, Cadden left his position and approached Lillian. "It's time," he said. "This won't be easy, and you'll need to follow my lead and do as I say, to the letter, for us to get through this."

"But what about the plan?" Lillian asked, both confused and, Cadden detected, slightly agitated by the sudden change. "This is suicide."

"Unless I missed my guess, our window of opportunity, here, is only open for a short period of time. If we wait much longer, everything will be bust." Lillian hesitated a second before nodding. Cadden lead her to the alleyway across from their designated entrance, and there they waited. It was only a moment before Cadden lead her to the building, after the coast was clear, and he managed the door open. They snuck inside just before the next patrol arrived. Cadden turned to look down the hall. Without his armor providing him feedback, he could only hazard a guess as to where they needed to go from there. This was a bad idea, he quickly realized, but there was no turning back, now. He nodded Lillian to follow him and they started down the hall. They needed to find a layout of the processing plant. The information Zartok provided was helpful in his plans to infiltrate the building, but it proved to be less than useless when it came to navigating to where they needed to be. He needed to know where they were going, and how to get there, for this to work, and communications would mean their end in a place such as this.

They entered the first few rooms with no luck, and Cadden was quick to dispatch the soldiers they did find with little effort, opting to use the Force instead of conventional weaponry to keep their presence as unnoticeable as possible. Most were incapacitated through various uses of the Force, though there were a couple he had to resort to killing. The Triad's forces wore formidable armor, Cadden noted, but they were not impervious to the Force. They finally managed upon a promising room, with several terminals scattered about the walls. Despite this, it was empty. Cadden narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "This can't be right," he said. Then he felt it. "Cover!" he shouted, just as a door opened and in poured heavily armed and armored soldiers. It was a trap. They had been set up. Both unholstered their blasters and started to fire at their assailants, but with only minimal luck. Something pinged in the back of his mind, his senses warning him, but it was too late. He felt something stab him in the back. Grunting in pain, Cadden turned, one lightsaber unclipped and in his hand, and he ignited the white blade just as it sliced through the lightly armored man's neck. His head rolled aside as the body collapsed uselessly to the floor. "Stay in cover," he commanded, his voice showing signs of the resulting wound. The adrenaline kicked in while the Force heightened both his senses and his reflexes, giving him enough speed and awareness to climb into the thick of the fight. He reached out with the Force as he cut down two of the armored men, looking for any more surprises. As the other door opened Cadden unclipped his second lightsaber, and was moving gracefully, despite his injury, cutting down Triad soldiers left and right. Within a couple dozen seconds, it was just him and Lillian once more. Cadden was breathing heavily, now, and he collapsed to one knee.

Lillian left her cover and rushed to him, easing him before he could collapse altogether. "I need..." he started. "You'll have to... patch me up."

Lillian shook her head. "I don't have that kind of training," she argued.

"Then... you better learn." Cadden's vision began to blur. He would need to focus on the healing powers in the Force, but that alone would not fix this. Lillian needed to stop the bleeding, as well. "Left pouch… basic… field kit."

Lillian eased him to the floor and retrieved his medical kit. It was not much more than a means to stich basic wounds. She got to work, and though the patch job was crude years of training and experience disallowed Cadden from feeling much of it. Or perhaps it was the searing pain he was feeling where he was stabbed that simply distracted him from her attempt to stich him up. The knife cut him deep, but it avoided his arteries. However, it still had potential to be fatal, and it was all he could do to maintain consciousness, and he was failing. "Run," he managed to say. "Hide. Go. Leave me." He took a deep, painful breath. "Trust... trust no one."

And darkness took him. The last thing he heard was Lillian's voice, as she pleaded for his life. "No," she said quietly. "No, no, no.…"

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