Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

18 years after the Battle of Yavin...
A divergent, persistent and interactive Star Wars timeline with a rich history and established characters.

Moderators: VagueDurin, Nichalus

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

[OOC: You may recognize all of this. None of it is new. What will follow, however, will be new. I anticipate some rewriting to get the characters in a place where all the writers (or at least, the ones who are still here) are happier with them. This takes place seven or eight months prior to current events in the Exodus Galaxy.]

18 ABY, Bescane

Radek tugged lightly at his clothing. It was civilian garb, neither the mercenary fatigues he was accustomed to, nor the Jedi robes he had come to know. It fit him loosely, which was probably because he had not bothered to acquire garments specifically in his size. The colors were all dull and drab, which fit in nicely with the environment around him.

The world was Bescane, an industrial center for the Empire. As headquarters of Galentro Heavy Works, it also controlled the shipyards at the nearby world of Jaemus. Radek had been watching and waiting. His research had led him to this world, not far from Sernpidal, where the last injustice against him had occurred. The memories were still fresh, still painful. He was glad for that; he used the pain, channeled it, into the Force around him. He exuded distrust, anger, frustration, and rebellion in the Force. In time, the whole planet would reek of insurrection. That, combined with his plans for direct manipulation, would cause a severe problem for the Empire.

The people were already angry. As an industrial world, they figured that they were a target far and above their neighbors. If the Cult of Shadow struck here, as they struck at Sernpidal, as they had struck elsewhere in the Galaxy, the Empire would be gravely wounded. Already, some people were clamoring for freedom from Imperial control. For the moment, they had been easily silenced - but Radek needed to make them louder. Radek needed to make them realize that the Empire needed to be stopped - and more than that, that it needed to be destroyed. Its interference in his life had caused too much pain. Letting it continue was something that he could not allow.

But he was no fool. He knew that he could not single-handedly destroy the Empire. But if he could cause them enough problems, then their own factions might tear themselves apart, until the other governments in the Galaxy could pick the Imperial carcass clean. This kind of manipulation would take time. It would take great power in the Force. Radek had meditated daily since Verena had died. The Force was becoming a familiar place to him. He could feel its flow, its moods. He was beginning to see ahead of himself. He knew that the Empire would send agents to stop him. He would have to be ready for them. But with a little bit of luck, they would be too late. Bescane was like a stone at the edge of a deep ravine; it just needed a little... push.

So Radek was meeting with the de facto leader of the political forces seeking independence. The other man, a human named Alan Kemen, was not an elected official, but spoke for the grass-roots element that desired to be separated from the Empire's control. Radek knew that the Cult of Shadow would not spare a world simply because it was not Imperial; he had even considered approaching the Cult itself, in order to join it, but he knew that he could not support complete destruction of life. He was an anarchist now, not an executioner. But in order to further his own goals, he had to make the Cult of Shadow a little more palatable to the people of Bescane - because otherwise, they would stick to the Empire like a mynock on a power conduit.

Kemen made periodic trips to a number of small-time juice joints, where disaffected industrial employees frittered away their time and money after a long day working for a disinterested government. Kemen made appeals to these men; some days, two dozen would join his ranks, but others, the drunks would shout him out of the bar. Radek needed to make Kemen more persuasive - the former Jedi wanted every man in every bar joining up with him. He also needed to make himself useful to Kemen. To do that, he had acquired some local civilian clothes and spent nine days sneaking in and out of factories, working on the machines and dirtying his skin and garments until he looked like a local. Meanwhile, his lightsaber was stocked away in a crate with several other personal effects he had discovered on Sernpidal; that crate was buried at the starport, where he could collect it whenever he pleased - especially since he was sleeping in a cheap hotel adjoining the starport.

While watching Kemen, Radek had detected a certain pattern in his movements - which bars he would attend and when, especially. He predicted that this bar, the Gray Sky Cantina, would be his next political target. So Radek had come here to wait. As the doors grated open, Radek noticed out of the corner of his eye that he had predicted accurately. Alan Kemen, along with a lithe young woman and a rather brutish associate, entered the cantina and approached the bar. This was fitting to Kemen's style: sit and drink with the locals before beginning the campaign speech.

It did not take long, and Kemen barely drank. Just as Radek was doing, he picked up his glass a lot, took tiny sips - if he let any past his lips at all - and generally gave the appearance of a hard drinker, although he was little more than a teetotaler. Radek smirked in admiration of the man's cleverness. He built his credibility while maintaining control of his faculties. Kemen would not need much help to get this rebellion rolling - in fact, Radek suspected, Kemen would accomplish his task eventually without any help, but it would not have the same drastic impact that a sudden and startling insurrection would have against the Empire. Especially as the Empire was trying to focus on issues with the Cult of Shadow, and other dark elements.

Kemen stood up and raised his glass high. "Gentlemen of the Gray Sky Cantina!" he called out, letting a false drunkenness slur his speech. "Let us raise a toast... to the grand and illustrious world of Bescane!" he said, dragging out the statement and drawing eyes from every corner of the bar, "May we never suffer under the heel of tyrants, governors, or Jedi ever again!" He drank his glass dry, but few others so much as sipped at theirs. Kemen continued, "But I can't say that, can I?" Now most of the bar was paying attention, if a little disdainfully. "The Empire has squeezed us like a boil on the flesh of the Galaxy! They have us enslaved to build them their ships, their guns, and their power, and what do we get? A few fat-cats at the top of our world get paid, and we get frelled. We let the companies, the wealthy, the corrupt, and the selfish run our world! And for what? A few bottles of filthy booze?" Kemen hurled the glass. It shattered on the floor of the cantina.

The bartender walked over calmly, but said angrily, "I think it's time you got out of--"

"No!" Radek shouted, standing up next to Kemen and glaring down the bartender, who backed away. "He's right! We don't mean anything to anybody, but they couldn't make their money, and they couldn't build their ships without us!" he declared. He saw one man at a table, squirming a little. Radek resisted the urge to smile; he had his target. He did not have to coerce the whole bar to join Kemen; he could coerce one or two, and the rest would follow. He walked up to the man and slammed a fist down on his table. "You, man!" he said, "You have a family, right?"

The man nodded sheepishly. "A wife and two sons."

"Two sons!" Radek said, beaming. "Two strong boys, no doubt! How old are they?"

"Four and six," the man replied.

"And what do they want to be when they grow up?"

The man smiled a little. "They both want to be pilots in the Navy."

"And how do you plan to pay for their tuition to the naval academy?" Radek asked. The man's smile disappeared. Radek continued, "And how long do you think they will last before they wash out, because the toxins the Empire forces us to pump into our air - the same ones we're forced to breathe because masks are too expensive - have weakened their lungs so that they could never survive excess gravitic forces on their bodies?" The man stared down into his drink. Radek leaned closer and said, "And how do you plan to tell them that they're going to grow up and become just like their old man, forced into a dead-end job by a bunch of selfish, greedy bureaucrats looking to collect?"

Radek reached out with the Force. The man was depressed more than angry. That had to change. He pushed at the man's mind, putting thoughts of revenge in him. He twisted his desire for hope into a quest for hope - his means of survival into a means of rebellion. A few moments later, the man looked back at Radek with a fire in his eyes. He stood up, raised his glass, and drained it. "I'm with you!" he declared.

"So am I!" another man yelled.

"And me, too!" said another.

More men surged toward the bar, shaking hands with Radek and Kemen. Kemen eyed Radek suspiciously, but Radek gave him a smile, like they were the best of friends - comrades in arms, with one mind and one goal. The two men pushed through the crowd until they shook each other's hand. Kemen said, "Thank you, friend," he said, "You are a true citizen of this world."

Radek nodded. "As are you, friend," he said, "It is time we made Bescane great again."

Radek felt that Kemen was hiding a smile as the other man said, "I am Alan Kemen, head of the Bescaneans for Independence. Who are you?"

The former Jedi smiled. "Zachary Freeman," he said, "And I'm with you, Alan Kemen. I once wanted to serve the Empire - I thought they were the best thing for this world. They taught me to fight, and then they threw me out - said I was too weak, too sick from the air here. We're better off without them. They won't save us from those that want to destroy them... we have to take care of ourselves, for the hope of our children, and our children's children."

Kemen smiled. "My sentiments exactly, friend Zachary," he said, "They taught you to fight, you say?"

"Imperial Commandos," he said, "I was going to be the best. But they destroyed my potential. And I don't want them to destroy the potential of any more of Bescane's children."

Kemen nodded. "Then come with us. I think we would do well to have one as passionate as you among us."

Radek still smiled. Total insurrection was almost within his grasp. The Empire would regret what it had done to him.

* * * * *

Radek Vidar - alias Zachary Freeman - rose from meditation to answer his comm. He was pleased with the progress of the rebellion these past several days. He could feel the tension mounting around him. He was not sure how far away an open insurrection was, but he knew that it would come much sooner with his help.

His comm beeped as he activated it. "Freeman," he answered.

"Did I catch you sleeping, Freeman?" he heard Swinth, the woman who had been with Kemen when Radek first met him, say, "A little early, isn't it?"

Radek rolled his eyes, but tried to keep his exasperation with her attitude out of his voice. He mostly succeeded. "Just getting some rest, Swinth. Figured I might need it. Your call makes me think I was right. What's up?"

"Make your way down to the Bookie Crumbles pub and gambling den," she said, her tone betraying her disapproval of the gutter-trash Radek appeared to be. "We're making another recruiting push."

"On my way," Radek replied. He clicked off the comm and left his hotel room. The room, like the hotel it represented, was dirty, grungy, under-furnished, and overall, appropriate to the low, low price Radek was paying for it. The door had one flimsy lock and no bolts, but since Radek didn't have anything of value with him, that mattered very little to him. He walked down the hall, counting the roaches as he went. By the time he made it down four flights of stairs and out of the lobby onto the street, he had gotten to thirty-one.

The Bookie Crumbles was primarily a gambling den, as its named suggested, but it also had a bar with plenty of booze for the heavy-weights of the Bescane drinking scene. Fortunately, it was early, which meant most of the people there had just gotten off of a shift down at one of the factories. With luck, they would be sober enough to figure out what was going on.

As Radek entered the pub, he began to wonder why they were making a push at this particular establishment. Three out of every four people he saw were regulars from Kemen's not-so-subtle meetings. He resolved to ask Kemen when he arrived. To wait for his compatriots, Radek went to the bar and ordered a durindfire. The glowing beverage was delivered to him a few moments later, and he sat nursing its phosphorescent bitterness as he kept his eye on his fellow patrons. As was common when bumping into other rebels, Radek had learned, most of those he knew from the meetings did not acknowledge that they had seen him before. Everything was "business as usual," and the usual business at the Bookie Crumbles was drinking, gambling, and more drinking.

As Radek's eyes wandered around the pub, he reached out with the Force, testing surface feelings and searching for someone to push toward rebellion. Most people in the room were very unhappy with the Empire's treatment of them. There were a few brutes at the back of the pub, next to the private area, that seemed to have no opinion on the subject. They were weak-minded, but they were primarily interested in the scantily-clad women that were serving the drinks. Radek reached farther in that direction. And then he figured out why Kemen wanted to make a recruitment push at this particular bar: financing. The head honcho of the Bookie Crumbles gambling scene was a tall, meaty man named Berk Carlisle. His dark complexion and clean-shaven head, as well as the gold jewelry hanging from his neck, served to reinforce his toughness, reminding one of the holo-flicks about shockboxing champions. He probably didn't need most of his bodyguards, but he had a slew of them anyway. No doubt Kemen wanted Carlisle on his side to bring some enforcement power to the rebellion. With Carlisle and his empire - larger, indeed, than just the Bookie Crumbles, if rumors were to be believed - the rebellion would have enough strength to convince even the money-grubbing higher-ups to listen to reason.

Well, at least Radek's twisted version of reason.

Radek did not have to wait much longer for Kemen and Swinth to arrive. Their brutish associate was not accompanying them on this trip; Radek suspected that, in part, he was taking the role of the brutish associate, and also that Kemen did not want to put Carlisle on the defensive. As Kemen entered, he and Swinth sat on opposite sides of Radek at the bar. "Thanks for coming, Zachary," Kemen said softly. "This one's important."

"Why?" Radek asked, feigning ignorance.

Kemen replied, "Getting rid of the Empire is going to take manpower and wealth. We don't have a lot of either. There are some... people... at this location that can change all that."

Radek, alias Zachary, was ever the inquisitive type. "Who's that? How can they help?"

Swinth took those on. "Berk Carlisle. He owns this joint. He has a lot of supporters, a lot of employees, and a lot of sway with both. He also has the financial means to help us get where we want to be. Now stop asking stupid questions and back us up. If this gets dicey, we'll need to get Alan out fast."

Radek nodded, giving Swinth a wry smile. "Nice to see you, too, Eirian," he said, winking. She rolled her eyes, barely suppressing a grunt of disgust. Radek contained a laugh.

"Enough, you two," Kemen interjected. "Let's go." Kemen got up, then Swinth, and Radek took up the rear. Eirian Swinth was a beautiful woman, and Radek didn't mind walking behind her. Even so, he knew she hated his guts - and worse still, she didn't even know who he really was. Even a one-night stand with her would ultimately be painful. Radek wrote her off as yet another useful tool in his arsenal against the Empire and reminded himself that he had more important things to do than admire the scenery.

As they approached the stairs to Carlisle's upper room, the two toughs that were standing nearby closed in on them, blocking the path. "Hold it," one said, "This is a private chamber. Only personal guests of Mr. Carlisle can come through here."

Radek reached out with the Force as Kemen began fumbling something about having an appointment. When he was sure that the guard's mind was malleable enough, the former Jedi interrupted, "Mr. Carlisle asked to see us. You can let us through."

The man looked quizzically at Radek for a moment. At long last, he said, "Right. You can come on through." He backed away, drawing a confused glance from his fellow, but he did not even need to be molded to bow to peer pressure. When both men had divided enough to let the three rebels through, Kemen glanced back at Radek.

"That was a close one," he said under his breath, "I don't know what it was in your voice that convinced him, but we'll need to convince Carlisle, too... or he might just kill us."

Radek was well aware of that possibility. But he was not about to go down without a fight, and he doubted that either Carlisle or his men would be able to stop him from escaping. And if Carlisle took it into his head to kill Kemen, the loss would be significant, but not the situation would still be salvageable. He would just need a new patsy. There were always plenty of patsies. In fact, the bar downstairs was full of them.

On the other hand, Berk Carlisle was huge. His bulk, almost all muscle from what Radek could see, was mostly hidden behind the two Twi'lek girls that were giggling beside him as he told them some ridiculous story or another. He was clean-shaven from crown to chin, making his three nasty scars plainly visible. He had been in more than a few fights as he clawed his way to the top of the gambling food chain on Bescane. But Radek could just imagine the big, dark-skinned human telling him that he should see the other guys. Radek was reasonably sure that anyone who had gotten in Carlisle's way was not around to tell the tale.

When he saw the three intruders enter his private room, Carlisle leapt to his feet, outraged. "How in the Nine Hells did you get in here?!" he demanded as the Twi'lek girls fell away from him and cowered. His deep voice boomed throughout the private chamber, but Radek suspected that this room might have sound-dampening equipment throughout. With luck, no one in the bar below would hear.

Swinth drew a blaster. Radek immediately and involuntarily wiped his palm across his face. This was not going well. He reached out with the Force, doing his best to calm Carlisle's emotions. The turmoil in him was fit to explode if he did not get his way soon.

Kemen held out his hand, trying to soothe the raging beast with gestures. "Wait, please, Mr. Carlisle! I have a business proposition for you!" Radek used the Force to push this idea upon the other. He was not as weak-minded as his guards, but Radek hoped that the idea of money might soothe his ire for long enough for them to get on his good side... or at least, whichever side was less bad than the one they were on now.

Slowly, Carlisle's sneer faded, as if he were taking control of his own emotions. "What kind of business proposition? Make it quick, before I have your hides blasted."

Kemen swallowed visibly before beginning his speech. "The Empire has been choking operations like yours both on Bescane and across this sector. We have a mutual enemy, my friend. We both want the Empire gone. Without them, you can expand your operations and bring in more money than you could even dream while the Stormtroopers threaten to break down your door. You could be... one of the founding members of an independent Bescane. You could get in on the ground floor of all new industrial operations. All we need is your support now, while the independence movement is still growing."

Carlisle appeared to ponder this for a moment. Radek was having difficulty reading the other man, even through the Force. After a few moments, he burst out laughing. "Alright, friend," he responded after a few moments. Radek and Kemen awkwardly laughed along with him, and the Twi'lek girls were giggling again. Swinth seemed unamused. Carlisle continued, "While I'm considering your offer, why don't we have a drink?" Turning to the Twi'lek girls, he said, "Ladies, why don't you bring up some Alderaanian brandy for us, would you?"

Radek noticed the glance that went between Carlisle and the Twi'leks, as well as the one that passed between the two girls as they left the room. Alderaanian brandy had been code for something. But what? Was Carlisle sending for his guards? Or selling them out? Alderaan had been one of the first planets to oppose the Empire, after all, even in their pacifism. It had been a powerful statement. Until the Empire had blown them away. Radek again tried to pry open the mind of the crime lord, but he did not get anywhere useful. Maybe Carlisle really did want to get some of the most expensive brandy from his bar for a few guests. But it didn't seem particularly likely.

Turning back to Kemen, he said, "Well, you have me at a loss, friend. You know my name. What is yours?"

Kemen bowed at the waist. "I am Alan Kemen, the leader of the Bescaneans for Independence. These are my associates, Zachary Freeman and Eirian Swinth." Radek sensed Swinth twitch at being named after him. He wondered just how much she hated him for sweeping Kemen off his feet with support. Or perhaps she was just suspicious. Rightly so, of course, but he was not about to let her know that.

"Kemen, of course! A few of your supporters are patrons of my bar. They've spoken very highly of you," Carlisle said, looking somewhat pensive.

Kemen smiled. "I'm glad to hear that I've been recommended," he replied.

"Don't get too excited," Carlisle returned quickly before settling back into his seat, "I don't think very much of the patrons of my bar." He gestured at the uncomfortable-looking chairs across from his luxurious couch. "Please, have a seat."

As Radek, Swinth, and Kemen settled into the awkward plastic chairs, Carlisle continued, "Bescaneans for Independence, eh? You really should think up something better than that. That sounds pathetic." Kemen looked about to interrupt, perhaps defending his choice, perhaps asking for the relevance, but Carlisle went on, "Why not, 'the Alliance to Restore an Independent Bescane'? Nah, that's already been done. Maybe, 'the Free Bescane Movement'? Eh. Kind of sounds like a bunch of hippies."

Kemen interrupted now. "I'm sorry, Mr. Carlisle, but... is this really relevant right now? Do you have an answer for us or not?"

Carlisle smiled winningly. He was charming, to be sure. No wonder he had amassed so much wealth while so obviously being corrupt and criminal. "Of course I do, Alan," he said, "I'm just making sure the 'Bescaneans for Independence' fall in line with my ideals." He paused as the two Twi'leks reentered, bearing drinks. "Aha!" he exclaimed, "Here is something to sup at while we talk."

Radek took his glass and sniffed it surreptitiously. It was most certainly not Alderaanian brandy. More like cheap Churban brandy. Really cheap. Radek was sure now that "Alderaanian brandy" had been code for something. The question was not whether or not Carlisle, who was clearly stalling, was betraying them - but when was the right moment to get out alive. Swinth, Radek noted, took her glass and immediately set it aside. She was no longer aiming her blaster at Carlisle, but had not put it away, either. She was still suspicious. Good.

Kemen, on the other hand, refused the drink. He was being an idealist again. "Mr. Carlisle, I am here to discuss business. Please - let us make a deal."

Carlisle nodded slowly. "Okay," he said, "Let's deal. You call your little band of upstarts the 'Frilly Tutus,' and I'll call off the Imperial squad that will be here very soon." A surge of locals yelling and tables crashing could be faintly heard from below. "Ah," Carlisle said, smiling. "That sounds like them now."

Swinth stood up and raised her weapon. "You cheating bas--"

Radek cut her off, knocking her weapon out of her hand before she fired. Charges of rebellion and treason were difficult to prove, and though the Empire might not be willing to work with standard kinds of evidence, they wouldn't hesitate to start shooting if they thought the place was going to erupt in a riot. Things were not in place yet. This was not the time. "Not now," he said, standing close to her now that he had knocked her weapon away. "We need to wait for the right moment."

Swinth, however, did not see his logic. She spun on him. "You, too?" she demanded, "I knew you were going to sell us out, I just knew it!"

Kemen called out firmly, "Calm yourself, Eirian. I am sure Zachary knows what he is doing. We shall get out of this."

Carlisle laughed. "I would doubt that very much, pretty boy. In fact, I would be surprised if you lived through the night."

Stormtroopers burst into the upper room. They had their blaster carbines pointed at everyone and entered slowly, checking each person for weapons. They picked Swinth's blaster pistol up from the floor and bagged it. Carlisle pointed at his three unwanted guests. "These are your rebels, gentlemen. I trust my account will be credited with the reward money for Kemen's capture?"

The Stormtrooper in charge waved two others toward the large criminal. The two grabbed hold of Carlisle and pulled out a pair of stun cuffs to place on him. The commanding Stormtrooper announced, "Mr. Carlisle, you are under arrest for aiding and abetting known fugitives."

Carlisle was incensed. Using his considerable bulk, he broke free of the closest Stormtrooper's grip. One arm flailed out, knocking the trooper with the stun cuffs back into another one by the door. Radek glanced at Swinth and said, "Now is the right moment, sweetheart!" He threw himself at the commanding Stormtrooper, whose stun shot went into the ceiling as he lost his balance. Radek grabbed the blaster carbine and fired two shots at the Stormtroopers now entering the room. He grabbed Swinth's pistol from its pouch and threw it to her. Turning to Carlisle, Radek said, "What's your answer now, Berk? Are you willing to join the Frilly Tutus and take the Empire out before they take you out?"

Carlisle looked between the Stormtroopers on the floor and the others in his bar below, rounding up drinkers and bouncers alike. He spat on the floor and cursed in Huttese. "Fine," he said at last, "I'm with you. But I'm not doing this for your little ideals, I'm doing it for revenge and for money. Understand?"

Kemen nodded, smiling. "Understood."

"And we're starting right away," Carlisle said. "I'm not going to stand for my people going to prison, or worse. And I may not think much of my patrons, but I appreciate their wasting their life savings here. I intend to get my boys to bust up this raid and get our people out on the streets. By tomorrow, Bescane will be clamoring for freedom from the Imps."

Kemen's smile widened.

Radek threw on a smile for show. But inside, he was grinning wickedly.

* * * * *

Radek stood in the manager's office of a large warehouse, where the Bescaneans for Independence had gathered. Kemen was introducing the cell leaders to the idea of working with Carlisle. The crime lord was in the manager's office with Radek, looking down on the large group as they voiced their complaints and concerns. Swinth, Radek noted, was down there, standing two paces behind and one pace left of Kemen - as always. The woman was dedicated, he had to admit. But why was she so dedicated? What made her want independence for Bescane? What kept her by Kemen's side, day in and day out, as they faced down the Galactic Empire?

Again, Radek could not help but notice her beauty. She had fiery red hair that would fall past her shoulders if she let it, but it was often tied up in some elaborate style that kept it out of her way. Like a business-woman - or perhaps a soldier. She had brown eyes that were quick enough to catch things in a room full of people, when Radek was the only other one who could catch them. She was suspicious, and Radek was suspicious of her, but he had little to go on besides a gut feeling.

Radek liked the manager's office here. The warehouse itself was huge, so the office, which was built at the top of the warehouse structure, overlooked the entire interior and had enough exterior windows to let him keep an eye on the roads and skies approaching the location. It also was private enough that he could use it for his meditation, far better than his hotel room. He could feel every rebel for a few miles from here - unlike his hotel room, where mostly, he only felt the loyalists at the spaceport.

Carlisle, though, was distracting him from his meditations. "How'd you get involved here, Zach?" the deep, throaty voice asked him.

"Intellectual assent in the right place at the right time, Berk," Radek replied. "I believe in Alan and what he wants here."

"And yet... you just happen to be a former Commando?" Carlisle asked weightily. So someone had informed him of Radek's false identity. He was suddenly glad he had put those falsified records in place, where inquiring minds - like Carlisle's - could stumble upon it and think they found something genuine.

"I got a medical discharge," Radek said, "Pissed me off."

Carlisle nodded, though Radek - still looking out the windows into the warehouse - didn't see it. "Yeah, I heard about that," he said, "Drunks hear more than most people think."

Radek pursed his lips. So Carlisle hadn't done any digging, except to interrogate a few witnesses to Radek's first encounter with Kemen. Perhaps he had wasted his time in falsifying records. Oh, well, he thought. "What's your point, Berk?"

Carlisle strolled over to Radek's side, placing one heavy hand on the former Jedi's back. "My point is," he said, "that I'm glad to have you on the team. It's good to have an agent who can actually handle himself." Radek knew that that was not his point, but he was not going to argue the issue. Carlisle turned and walked back to his cushioned seat on the other side of the room. "Thank you, by the way, for stopping that wench from shooting me. I'd hate to have to kill Kemen's little bodyguard."

Radek did not reply. He appreciated that Carlisle could help Kemen achieve his goals, but he did not think that the crime lord was the best choice for that role. There were others with money, others who could support the rebellion. Others, indeed, who did not do background checks and would not discover Radek's control on the situation; people who would not or could not profit from betrayal. Carlisle was a distraction for Radek, and it was not one that he could appreciate.

Radek clasped his hands behind his back and settled into a meditative mindset. He reached out with the Force, filling his mind with the things around him, making himself aware of every detail, whether flowing or out of place, looking for hitches in his plans. Carlisle was first; he was a wild card, but for the moment, he was angry enough about his attempted arrest at the hands of the Empire that he was on their side. Radek reached further, feeling with the Force, until he reached the crowd below. Kemen was a visionary, an idealist - and a fool. He wanted freedom, and liberty, and he vainly believed that those things would allow Bescane to be saved from itself, from its own laws and its own practices. Swinth was an enigma; she seemed to be counting the number of people in the room. That made little sense; she should have known exactly how many cells there were in the Bescaneans for Independence, and every cell leader on the planet had either come or sent a representative.

But Radek moved on for the moment, making sure to note her odd behavior. The cell representatives were mostly angry. Many of them were idealists, like Kemen, and did not want a criminal like Carlisle involved in the rebellion. It was too close to selling out, too much like trading one tyrant for another. If they got rid of the Empire, but had to suffer through an empire of crime, what did they gain? A few of the representatives were completely on board with the plan to bring Carlisle in; they were willing to go to any lengths to get rid of the Empire. Radek took note of these individuals, too. They were the easiest to motivate.

Radek wished there was not a necessity for having cell leaders from around the planet, but he knew that Bescane was too large a world for a man like Kemen to control surreptitiously and entirely on his own. So Radek accepted the need for them, but they were more variables for him to consider. He liked being in control. It helped to guarantee the success of his goals.

Suddenly, Swinth caught his attention again. She had finished her count, and she had come up with one more than he had expected, based on the number of cells. He noted her alarm at that discovery, then scanned the crowd until he found the extra person: one of the cell leaders from a distant district of the capital city had brought an aide along, judging by their garb. Radek pushed his way into the aide's mind. He found nothing. Not just dullness or simplicity or attentiveness, but actually nothing.

That was no coincide--

"The Indies for Indy!" Carlisle said loudly, chuckling, interrupting Radek's meditation.

Radek turned to look at him. "What?"

"The Industrialists for Independence," Carlisle explained, "Indies for Indy."

On the outside, Radek furrowed his brow, but on the inside, he was trying to find the slippery aide again. "Are you still trying to come up with a different name for the Bescaneans for Independence?"

"Damn right," Carlisle retorted, his smile fading, "Stalling for time or not, I still think it's a dumb name."

Radek rolled his eyes. "Good luck with that," he said, turning back to the window.

Looking out, he saw that the aide had stepped out. Radek reached out with the Force, searching for him frantically. As he expanded his senses, he found the man - entering a neighboring building, a hotel almost as cheap as the one Radek was staying in. Why hadn't he waited for the end of Kemen's speech?

Suspicious enough to make a move, Radek turned around and headed for the stairs. Carlisle, still thinking up names, heard the door and jumped up to follow him. "How about Livers and Libertarians?" he joked. Radek ignored him, making his way down the stairs two steps at a time.

As they reached the bottom, Carlisle slowed and began to amble towards the makeshift podium, where Kemen was making his argument. "We need support, both in resources and in personnel," Kemen was saying, "And Berk Carlisle can give those things to us."

"He tried to betray you!" someone shouted out. Radek was ignoring the exchange. He was making his way toward the nearest door, staying as far from the crowd's eyes as he could.

"And when he was betrayed in return, he found himself in common with us!" Kemen replied. "He sent his own people into the Imperial holding facility to get out those who were arrested, and--"

"Did he really?!" another person interrupted. Radek did not hear what they might have said as the Force warned him of danger. He spun just in time to see Swinth right behind him, forcing him up against the wall with a blade at his throat.

"Where are you going, Zach?" she demanded. He did not need the Force to know she was not in a kidding mood.

"There was an extra person. An aide, I think, from one of the other cells. He slipped out, and I wanted to see what he was up to," he said. The frown that flitted across her face told him he'd hit the mark earlier - she was perceptive, alright. "You saw him, too," he continued, "Come on, we need to find out what's going on here."

"It's probably nothing," she said, "That cell is run by an old man. He probably needed the support."

Radek studied her for a moment. At last, he said, "You don't believe that. Or else you'd still be at Kemen's back." Her eye twitched. On the mark again. Radek glanced back at the crowd.

Carlisle was up next to Kemen now. He was speaking. "If you don't believe I'm on your side, then take a look over there!" he yelled, gesturing toward a far door. It had opened, and a number of goons were marching in, interspersed with people Radek recognized from the Bookie Crumbles. Carlisle's people really had done it. Radek wondered if the Empire had let them walk out, but he had a more important issue at hand for now. He would worry more about Berk Carlisle later.

Radek looked back to Swinth. "You can come along or not, Eirian, but I'm going after that aide," he told her. She took a moment, the nodded and released him. The two of them slipped out while introductions and reunions were made between the crowd of supporters and the returning rescuees.

When they got out into the alleyway between the warehouse and the rest of the block, Swinth asked, "Which way did he go?"

Radek made a show of looking around, as if searching for clues. As they walked toward the street, he caught sight of the sign for the cheap hotel. "Maybe he went in there," he suggested.

She shrugged. "As good a place to start as any," she said.

As they walked, trying to appear as calm as possible, Radek decided that this would be a good time to probe into Swinth's life a little bit. "How did you get to be a part of this motley group, Eirian?" he asked.

She looked at him askance, one eyebrow raised, clearly not buying the friendly, curious helper aura that Radek was trying to project. But whatever she was thinking, she ultimately decided that talking to him was not something she could avoid forever. "I was dishonorably discharged from the New Republic Special Forces," she said with what seemed to be practiced ease, "Over a disagreement with a superior officer. So my husband and I came here, where he had gotten a job. He died in the factories a couple months later. Kemen was there for me. He was sweet, and had brilliant ideas. So I decided to help him make those ideas a reality."

Radek nodded. That seemed awfully convenient. It sounded like a cover story, if he had to guess, but if what she said was true - about her being there in the beginning - then it didn't sound like she was an outside influence. Maybe her story, however unlikely it sounded, really was true. Radek almost snorted when he thought that. Of course - her story was at least as true as his, which sounded remarkably similar in most respects. He made another mental note to check on her story with Kemen later. "He was there for you, huh?" Radek repeated in a teasing tone.

She glared lasers at him. "It wasn't like that," she snapped.

Radek did snort now. They were entering the hotel. "Of course it wasn't."

"It wasn't--" she started to say, but Radek cut her off as they approached the clerk's desk. There were bars between them, with a small gap in the bars close to the counter, so documents and cash could be passed back and forth.

Radek looked the Neimoidian behind the desk over once before he said, pushing the command through the Force, "Someone came in here about two minutes ago. Where did he go?"

The Neimoidian looked between Radek and Swinth. At last, he said, "Upstairs, room 217."

Radek smiled. "Thanks." He and Swinth headed for the stairs.

"How do you know he was telling the truth?" she asked him softly.

Radek shrugged. "If he wasn't, we apologize profusely and we wait for our potential spy to make another mistake. And if he's not a spy, we apologize profusely and leave it alone." Swinth frowned at that, but said nothing.

As they approached the door to room 217, they could hear talking. Radek held a finger up to his lips and they leaned in close to the door.

"--isle, and Zachary Freeman. Those are all the new additions to Kemen's central group. I think they plan to make their move soon," they could hear a man saying.

Another voice said officiously, with a clipped accent that could only be Imperial. "Very good. I'll check the background on all these names. In the meantime, I have a new assignment for you. Command is sending in an Imperial Knight to deal with this situation. You need to meet with her and bring her up to speed, and then get her into Kemen's organization."

The first voice was hesitant. "I don't know if I can do that. Kemen's people are a clever bunch. I shouldn't draw attention to myself."

A moment. Then, "These are direct orders from the Regent, Sargon." The voice had an edge of severity to it now. "Do whatever you have to, but meet her, get her up to speed, and get her in. She will take care of the rest." Another pause. "I'm sending you all the data you need to know about her. Good luck, agent."

There was a pop-fizz of a transmission ending and static ensuing. Radek looked at Swinth, then stepped back and kicked in the door.

The other man was startled, to say the least. "Wha-- What's going on? Freeman? Swinth? What-- What are you doing here?"

"Shut up!" Swinth said, one hand lashing out to box his left ear as he backed away from the two intruders. "We've heard enough here, Sargon." She drew her knife and seemed about to run him through when Radek caught her and pulled her away from him. She yelped and turned on him. "What are you doing?! He's a traitor! We have to kill him!"

"He's not a traitor," Radek responded, "He's a plant. Imperial Intelligence. And they'll miss him if he suddenly disappears, especially if this... Imperial Knight gets here and doesn't have anyone to meet." Swinth frowned again, but again, she did not say anything. Still, she was clearly upset enough that she might kill Sargon if she stayed - and Radek wanted a moment of privacy with the Imperial agent. "Go back to the warehouse, Eirian," Radek told her, "Talk to Kemen. Talk to Sargon's cell leader. Find out how far this goes, and crush it."

"It's just me," Sargon interjected.

"Which is exactly what I'd expect you to say," Radek replied, not turning to face the other, "if you had colleagues." He placed a hand on Swinth's shoulder. "Go. I'll take care of him. Don't worry." He smiled a little, and that seemed to calm her - that, along with the calm he was pushing onto her through the Force. At last, she nodded, acquiescing. She turned to go, but not before shooting one of her laser glares at Sargon. When she was gone, Radek closed the door.

A click behind him did not surprise him. He lifted his hands above his head. "Surprised you didn't draw on me sooner, Sargon," he said.

"Yeah," he replied, "Well, I would have, but Swinth is a damn fast draw."

Radek slowly turned. "I'm sure she is," he said slowly. "What's the plan, Sargon? Shoot me, claim I was the real traitor?"

"Something like that."

"And why do you think I sent Swinth away? Your story falls apart. Kemen trusts her more than he trusts you, or your cell leader."

Sargon shrugged, a sneer showing through his nice-guy veneer. "I'll think of something." He raised the weapon, aimed carefully, and fired.

Radek called on the Force, needing a great deal of power to pull the stunt he had to pull. He got his hand in the path of the blaster bolt, and used the Force to deflect the shot. His skin got a little singed, but nothing permanent, as the bolt ricocheted off into a wall. Sargon was stunned for a second, which was all the time Radek needed. He pulled on the Force again, wrenching the blaster from Sargon's hand and pulling it to his own. Calmly, he set the blaster down next to the door and took a step toward Sargon. "Oops," he said sarcastically.

"You-- you're-- you're a--" Sargon stammered. It did not take long for him to regain his composure, though. "I knew the Jedi couldn't be trusted. You're trying to take advantage of this situation with the Cult - trying to turn our own planets against us! Hell, I bet you're even working with--"

"Shut up," Radek said, calmly, but powered by the Force. Sargon stopped speaking, the silence not entirely voluntary. "You have about three minutes to tell me everything I need to know about this Imperial Knight, and exactly what the Empire is planning here. I don't have time to waste on your yammering."

Sargon snorted. "Good luck, Freeman. Jedi don't hurt people. You'll never get me to talk."

Radek smiled thinly. "See, that's your biggest mistake, Sargon. Whoever said that I was a Jedi?"

* * * * *

Three minutes later, Radek slipped out of the room, holding a datapad with all the data Sargon had on Sierra Pryde and the Empire's plans for quelling Radek's little rebellion. It wasn't much - a brief physical description, and the backup plan involving overwhelming force, if Sargon perceived that Pryde was not adequately completing her task. Radek slipped the datapad into his jacket and then pulled out a kerchief to wipe Sargon's blood from his hands. Now he had a few minutes to come up with an adequate tale about what Sargon said before Swinth came back.

* * * * *

The contacts of Velok's local man, a Chagrian, talked with Kemen's contacts; simple enough. Within a couple of hours Skavi had a time and a location, a tapcaf across town. She's made it clear the Chagrian that she expected him to provide a vehicle and a driver.

Skavi al'Kon, Darth Consecrai, killer of Sith, couldn't drive.

For once she wore something other than her black armour and cloak: a black dress, knee-length and not too tight. Attractive but professional. A long tan coat completed the ensemble, and she wore her hair down - another uncharacteristic step. Careful use of cosmetics erased her Sith tattoos, leaving her just another Zeltron woman, albeit more conservative than some. She refused to wear heels, and she knew her walk didn't have the sway typical to her species; she walked like a predator and couldn't change that.

Her lightsabre remained in her hotel room; in fact, she went to the meeting entirely unarmed. If push came to shove, Velok had done his level best to make her all the weapon she'd ever need, and the Whiphid's best was - by any objective standard - pretty good.

She didn't know tradecraft, didn't know the arts of covert meetings; no mentalist or professional fugitive, she couldn't even pick out which passersby and patrons of the tapcaf had come with Kemen's envoy. She assumed there were some, and she trusted her gut, but she knew she was flying blind.

Pastry in hand, she picked a table on the patio and waited. After a handful of minutes, a redheaded woman with a cup of cap slipped into the seat opposite her. Skavi might not have been much in the world of clandestine meetings, but she could pick a killer out of a crowd ten miles away. She evaluated the woman's economy of movement, the lines of her hands, the way her eyes moved. Yes, Kemen's rep could take care of herself.

"Call me Swinth. Fifty thousand. You have my attention."

Skavi nodded. "My employer is curious about your movement. That's all. Something other than ideology - he's curious about what kind of following you have, how you operate, that sort of thing."

"You could be anyone. Fifty thousand doesn't buy you the kind of details you're after."

"I didn't expect so. I could, after all, be anyone." Skavi nibbled the pastry. "What he actually expects me to get is information concerning any...recent developments in your cause. Whether anyone new is on the scene. What changed - because something changed."

"The people got tired of-"

"I said I knew the ideology. I've been given a broad mandate here, Miz Swinth, to help your movement along or cause it some embarassment - your success or failure doesn't mean nearly so much to my employer as the answer to my question."

Swinth, unflappable, sipped her caf. "Which one? Some don't have answers."

"New power players, behind the scenes. Were there any?"


"Any from offworld?"

Skavi had the satisfaction of seeing Swinth blink. At a guess, Swinth had thought she'd known who Skavi was talking about, and had apparently gotten it wrong. She got a general sense of increased wariness. "You really couldn't be anyone, you know," said Swinth. "A combat-hardened woman with yellow eyes and some kind of tattoos hidden by cosmetics shows up and starts bragging about hidden agendas and secret manipulations, and I start thinking Sith. I've been around the block once or twice. We can handle our world without your interference."

"Miz Swinth, something changed in the recent past. Please tell me what it is."

"Please?" A certainty settled over Swinth's features; at a guess, she'd taken Skavi's lack of answer as acquiescence. "That's an unusual word from someone in your line of work."

"This may be to your benefit, miz Swinth. Worst-case scenario, your revolution is being manipulated by other Sith for their own ends. I kill them, you're free to continue what you're doing. And that's as many cards as I'll put in the fixer field."

Swinth took a long drink of her caf, her eyes flat and hard. "Nobody from offworld," she said. "At least, nobody who admits to it. I don't like the picture you're painting, but I don't see anything that fits it. If you're running a game on me, I'll dice you six ways from-"

Skavi didn't move, didn't even twitch, but Swinth swallowed; her mouth closed, opened, closed again. "Not pleasant, is it," said Skavi. "Not something I enjoy doing." Just like that, Swinth could breathe again. The redhead glanced at something above and behind Skavi; the Sith Apprentice picked up her pastry again. "I bear you no ill will."

"I honestly can't think of anyone, any force, that sounds like what you're looking for." Swinth's voice was rough; her eyes blazed. Apparently she'd opted against calling in her backup. "Read my mind, Sith."

"Not my forte, but I believe you. So - not to overstress the point - what happened? What brought everything together? When did things start going better for you?" She'd sensed flickers in the Force since arriving here, but that was all: enough to suggest that there just might be Force-users manipulating things, maybe helping them along or possibly working against them

"We brought...a partner onboard, an established presence here on Bescane. Nobody new. Someone who could provide money and manpower."

"Did he come onboard of his own volition?"

"No, he was recruited."

"You're sure?"

"Kemen did it himself."

Skavi nodded, and opted against suggesting that Kemen could be the source of the offworld influence and that tiny disturbance in the Force. Perhaps it was just that he'd become more persuasive...

"This may seem like an odd question, miz Swinth, but has Kemen become more persuasive lately? Are his speeches better?"

"That is an odd question."

"Not in my line of work."

Swinth grimaced. "Come to think of it..."

Skavi chowed down on the remains of the pastry. Brushing crumbs off her lap, she looked Swinth in the eye. "I'm willing to bet it's someone close to Kemen. Might even be you."

"If there is a someone."

"There is."

Swinth thought about mentioning Zachary. The man had come into the fold recently, and he did seem... oddly persuasive. She had suspected it had something to do with his training, or perhaps his resolve. Could it be something more? Could he be... a Jedi? Or worse, a Sith? But he seemed to be helping. He had been very helpful in convincing Carlisle to join the Bescaneans for Independence, and he had even tracked down the Imperial spy. But by the time she had returned to the hotel with Kemen, he had "disposed" of him. Could he have simply sequestered him away, to save the spy from exposure? She did not know.

But she also did not trust this... seducer. Zeltrons were notoriously deceptive, and this one even more so. She said, "No one fits the description you've offered. I'll be happy to do some digging and give you a call, though." She meant that; if there was a Sith involved here, she was ill-prepared to handle it, and if this woman was - far-fetched as it may have been - honest about her intentions, then getting her help could save their lives. But if the Zeltron was on a mission of her own, Swinth did not want her snooping around. "I would urge you to sit tight and wait for me to call," she continued, "Doing your own investigating could disrupt everything we have struggled to build for ourselves."

Swinth stood and extended a hand, her cold gaze unblinking as she stared the other woman down.

Skavi shook the redhead's hand, feeling the hardened edges and creases of someone who knew what she was doing; Swinth, she knew, would feel the same qualities in Skavi's own grip.

"My employer has given me certain time constraints, miz Swinth. I'd hope to hear from you sooner, rather than later." Swinth eyed her, the implication not lost. Skavi met her gaze square on, then nodded out her quota of politesse and gestured vaguely at the card sitting on the table beside the half-eaten pastry on its plate. Polis Antillies, Galactic Import/Export and a comm number.

Swinth watched the woman leave. She was trouble. Swinth, meanwhile, was in trouble. She needed information, and she needed it fast. She had access to holos of everyone who had come into the fold recently - including Zachary.

She glanced at the two members of the Bescaneans for Independence that had accompanied her, to watch her back. She hadn't needed them, but Kemen had insisted. She nodded at them, and they both stood and left the cafe, headed back towards the warehouse. Things were moving along too quickly to be caught out in the open in each other's company anymore. She started to follow them, to discuss everything with Kemen, but she decided that this was best kept from him for now. If this woman was right about a dangerous new presence, Swinth didn't want Kemen ordering everything to quiet down. They were too close. She had worked too hard for this.

She palmed the business card the Zeltron had left, then headed for her own apartment.

After Skavi left, she relied on the Chagrian's driver to shake whatever tails might have attached themselves. Tradecraft, again, was not her specialty, though she felt somewhat guilty at not taking the opportunity to improve herself in that regard; she suspected this sort of experience was exactly why Velok sent her on errands requiring a subtler hand. In her heart she knew that she wasn't the Apprentice he needed to succeed him in the future. She could kill anything - but she couldn't do what he did. She didn't have that sort of mind. Her thoughts flowed in straight lines.

Upon returning to her hotel - a very nice one - she ran herself a bath and went all underwater, head and everything. She scrubbed at her face with her palms, smearing and eroding the coverup around her eyes. She stayed underwater for a long time, practicing - everything was practice - how long she could hold her breath. She didn't keep count this time, just waited until the water started getting cool, using the Force to recycle the oxygen in her lungs and body, and slowing her body's use of it. Then she surfaced, half-drained the tub, and ran a good bit more hot water. The taste of cosmetics lingered in the corners of her mouth. When she looked at the mirror, stared at it really, she saw a face covered in tattoos both crudely simple and obscurely abstract.

She might have thought about Sith tattoos if she didn't have them already. Ald had them, and his didn't look half bad. But she would have liked the freedom to come up with her own, presumably for the second time. She had no memory of her prior life, and with that went knowledge of why she might have found the broad patterns of her facial tattoos significant.

Now they meant less than nothing. In thirty years - forty if she kept her fitness up, which seemed likely assuming she lived that long - they'd be faded and distorted and even more pointless. She hated them.

But for now, they said mystery and unnatural in letters a mile high. So she used them like a hammer, and the next phase probably called for a hammer. Besides, she hated the coverup, the nagging fear that a smudge might reveal the darkness underneath. The preparation time, best spent elsewhere instead.

She spent a good three hours in that bubble bath, letting the makeup slough away from her skin. When she got out, she dressed in black armour, tight at the neck, covered by a black cloak. She bound her long silken hair in a topknot. She hung a lightsabre from her belt and sat down to dinner.

If she didn't hear from Swinth within two days, she would begin to dig.
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

Sierra hated crowds, too many people in such a cramped area and any one of them could be looking her way. She decided to forgo wearing the traditional garb of the Imperial Knight both because she didn't want to draw attention to herself and also because this mission was meant to be an infiltration mission. Grand Admiral Thrawn was placing a lot of faith in her and the Imperial Knights by having her handle the situation instead of simply sending in someone like General Helstone to establish marshal law. The Bescaneans for Independence have not yet openly rebelled against the Empire but tensions are high and Imperial Intelligence predicted that the soon-to-be rebels were planning to make a move. Her job was to infiltrate the organization, earn the trust of its leader, identify all rebel cells and their plans and then relay that information to General Helstone. Helstone would handle the clean up while she took care of the rebel leaders. Simple, right?

Little did she know, however, that her mission had already started to go awry. Her contact in room 217 was lying dead on the floor and a certain individual associated with the rebels knew her real identity. She knew none of this, of course, so when she knocked on the door and Radek Vidar answered she just assumed he was her contact. She looked again at the small crowd of people standing to one side of the long hallway. She had no idea who they were or why they were there, but several of them were eyeing her suspiciously. A crowd of people in a seedy apartment building. Members of a gang? She asked herself quietly.

"Are you my contact," she asked Radek aloud.

Radek just grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the room. It was all Sierra could do to stop herself from panicking. Once inside she stood near the door and averted her eyes from him.

"Do you want to say that louder," Radek whispered sharply.

"I'm sorry," Sierra apologized, "I wasn't really trained for this."

She could feel his eyes on her and all she wanted to do was run away and hide, but she was an Imperial Knight now and she had a duty to perform. She needed to find a way to get past this fear of hers.
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

Radek glanced her over. She seemed skittish, unsure. This is the Imperial Knight they sent? he thought, Are they trying to botch this mission? But at least she was dressed for the part she was to play. Sargon had indicated that she was to infiltrate the rebel organization and get close to its leaders - just as Sargon had done, but on a larger scale, and to greater effectiveness. When the time came, she would eliminate Kemen and anyone else with enough authority to lead the rebels while the Imperial military would mop up the rest.

Radek tried to maintain his alias as Sargon. "Why do they always send me the new recruits?" he whined in his mimicry of the dead man's reedy voice. He shook his head ruefully, but carried on, as if this were his daily fare. "But fine. We need to get you in as soon as possible; the higher ups want results ASAP, and we won't get them sitting in this place chatting." He grabbed Sargon's datapad, the one the spy had prepared for her, and handed it to her. It provided detailed dossiers on Kemen, Swinth, and a number of other cell leaders. Swinth had wanted Radek to destroy it--he supposed she feared an Imperial Knight acquiring that kind of knowledge, perhaps even reporting it to her superiors--but Radek knew that, if Sargon had it, the Empire had it, and destroying it would only harm their ruse, not protect their identities.

"Your name's Tova Leto," he explained quickly as he gathered up a pack and a few supplies, as if from a local store, "you grew up right here on Bescane, watched your father wither and die in the factories, and you hate Leland Barnes and everything that Galentro stands for. You're joining up because you think the Empire is to blame, you want to help men like your father, and you think freedom is the best thing since sliced bread. Your skills include--" he paused to glance at the list on the datapad, "--keeping your eyes and ears open, waiting tables, and charming rich old men. Kemen will love you." He reached out and mussed her hair a little bit, which was pristine and straight--probably from some neurosis or other, from the way she reacted to his touch. "The one you'll have to watch out for is Swinth. She's his second-in-command, and a real hard-ass. There's also a new recruit, Carlisle, a self-absorbed crime lord; don't let him get too close, or he'll start feeling you over. If he finds a weapon, we're toast." He examined her some more, making sure she noticed his keen gaze, and added, "And remember, once we're inside, call me Freeman, Zachary, or Zack--nothing else. Don't go blowing my cover just because you don't know your way around a covert operation."

He frowned, scrunching up his nose, then shrugged. "You'll have to do," he said, his tone drooping with disappointment. "Ready to go? You can read the rest on the way."
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

"We're going now," she asked in surprise, her gaze finally coming up to meet his but after a moment or two of staring into his eyes she quickly looked away again.

"Didn't you just hear how I said the top brass wants results?"

"I--I know," Sierra answered, pretending to scrutinize a lamp on a nearby end table, "I just thought I would have more time to prepare."

She could almost feel the look of disappointment he was giving her but before he could say anything she steeled her shoulders and forced herself to look him in the eye. "I'll be fine," she assured him, "I promise."
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

"Good," Radek answered. Not likely. He pointed past her at the door. "That way."

Hesitantly, she preceded him out of the small apartment, then he slipped past her and led her down the stairs, past the gathered miscreants and thugs. They paid him no heed, but more than a few gave her an askance look; even under rumpled, commoner's clothing, she was an attractive woman, and the locals took notice. She did not seem to like the attention, and she tried to duck away from their prying eyes. Radek was impatient; he grabbed her wrist and pulled her out onto the street.

As he stepped outside, he felt the warm breath of the world across his face, and sweat immediately began to bead on his brow. Jerking his head in the direction of Kemen's warehouse, he jogged across the street, expecting the Knight to follow her. She did, in spite of the landspeeders roaring by. Radek suppressed a smile as she put forward a brave face; she was green, a little too green, which meant she probably had connections. Killing her would be dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than leaving her alive. She could spoil his plans, true, but if he upset a regional governor, or a Moff, or who-knew-what-else, there wouldn't be a deep enough hole in the Galaxy to hide in forever. Better to keep an eye on her, and ruin her plans in turn--feed her just enough information to seem credible, then pull the rug out from under her at the right moment.

The warehouse was still bustling with activity. Cell leaders were exchanging information, and Kemen, Carlisle, and a few others were discussing something intensely in the upper room. Radek coughed conspicuously as he approached, silencing their conversation. No doubt they were discussing their Imperial problem, especially from the way Carlisle was eyeing the Imperial Knight. Radek tried to catch his gaze, warn him off--spooking the girl could be disastrous--but no luck. At least he had warned her that Carlisle was a player.

He bowed slightly to Kemen. "Alan, I've found us a new recruit. Her name's Tova Leto, and she's suffered here, same as the rest of us. She wants to help."

Kemen bowed low to the girl, then held out his hand. The man was a damn fine politician, Radek noted, and a better liar than any spy; his smile seemed truly genuine as he greeted the woman--a woman who, he knew, was sent by the Empire to kill him. "How do you do, Miss Leto," he said. "I am Alan Kemen, and I would be honored to accept the help of any true Bescanean. Tell me your story."
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

Sierra opened her mouth to reply but before she could even voice a word Carlisle interrupted her with a laugh. "You may as well put your hand down, Alan," the man said, "She's no true Bescanean."

Sierra's eyes opened wide and she tried without much luck to hide her shock.

"What are you talking about, Berk?"

Carlisle stood, his hand sliding closer to the blaster holstered at his belt. "I'm surprised you don't recognize her from the holovids. She's not Tavo Leto, she's the daughter of Moff Pryde," then he fixed Radek with a cold stare, "Just what game are you playing at, Freeman?"

That was the worst possible outcome, she should have known someone would recognize her. Hell, her superiors should have known, why did they even send her on this mission? All eyes turned to Radek and the Jedi ground his teeth. He suspected the girl might ruin his plans he just didn't realize how quickly that would happen.

"Is what he says true," Alan asked.

Radek opened his mouth to answer but Sierra beat him to it. "It is," she said, speaking confidently though refusing to make eye contact with anyone in the room, "My real name is Sierra Pryde, I came to Bescane because I wanted to help."

"Bantha shit, Kemen, she's here to kill you," Carlisle said.

"A young girl?" Kemen gave him a skeptical look.

It wasn't widely known that Sierra was part of the original group that formed the Imperial Knights, her father and mother made sure to keep that bit of information under wraps. The Imperial citizenry had a rather dour outlook on the Force and Jedi in particular and a Moff couldn't very well allow his daughter to be trained by his enemies. Whatever the reason Sierra's father felt it important to maintain an air of secrecy around her participation in the Knight's program and should the program be liquidated he would do all he can to save his daughter. At the very least Sierra had that going for her.

"You know who my father is," Sierra said to Carlisle, "He does his best to help the people of his sector but he can't do anything to help the people of Bescane."

That was true, Bescane was outside his jurisdiction. "I just thought that maybe there was something I could do and please don't be mad at Freeman, he didn't know any of this. I lied to him to hide who I was."
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

Kemen was ever diplomatic. "I appreciate your offer, Miss Pryde, but I do not think you can offer me anything that I do not already have." He gestured at Carlisle. "I have connections in both low and high places." Another wave toward Radek and Swinth. "I have the ear of the people." He smiled. "I've even received a recent influx of funds from an offworld benefactor. From where I stand, Miss Pryde, you present nothing new except a security risk."

He moved to sit down, indicating with his hand that Sierra should do likewise. "Please, explain to me how I benefit from this: your father knows that you are here; whoever brought you to this world knows; if Mr. Carlisle knows who you are, then others will as well; soon, the whole Empire will know. And what would a prominent Moff's daughter be doing on an industrial world in the midst of political unrest?" His expression almost turned to pity, but stopped short, somewhere around pedantic. "You, who probably travel primarily for vacations and political functions, have come to the last world anyone would choose for the former, and where the latter are likely to ruin careers." He shook his head slowly. "No, miss Pryde, I'm afraid that you have nothing to offer my movement; you will only draw attention to us." His smile turned apologetic. "You should go."

Carlisle snapped his gaze around to Kemen. "What?" he demanded. "You're letting her leave? She knows all of us now, thanks to that fool!" He pointed accusingly at Radek. "Even if she were being honest about her intentions, as if anyone of power and rank would help men like you," he continued with a glare at the girl, "there's no way she'll get home without being questioned. Either she's on her way to report our identities to Imperial authorities, or she'll snap after five minutes with an interrogation droid--either way, if we let her go, this little revolution is done for!"

"Calm yourself, Berk," Kemen said.

Swinth interrupted over him, "There's no way the Empire would use an interrogation droid on a Moff's daughter."

Carlisle spun on her. "Do you not remember the Empire? They blew up Alderaan less than a week after disbanding the Imperial Senate, of which Alderaan was a prominent member! Trusting them to play nice with their politics is like trusting a divto with your three-day old infant!"

Swinth got in his face; he towered over her, but she didn't wither a mote. "And you really think that adding kidnapping of a Moff's daughter to our list of charges is better than risking her release? If we let her go, maybe they question her about her time here, and maybe she rats us out. Chances are, the Empire already knows all our names, thanks to your stunt back in your bar, so what difference would that make? If we keep her here, and they know she's here, then we've turned one of our political allies against us. Her father probably really does want us better off here--what do you think he'll do when he finds out his little girl is chained to a wall?"

Carlisle seemed to be gathering his ire to roar another argument, but Kemen stopped him. "Eirian, please take Miss Pryde downstairs. Do not release her at this time. I need to discuss this with Berk and Zachary." He looked to Sierra. "Miss Pryde, I am sure that you have things you would like to say. Please, give me a few moments to work this out with my people."

Swinth balked. "We're holding--"

"Eirian!" Kemen snapped.

She closed her mouth, took Sierra by the arm, and led her downstairs. The poor girl, Swinth thought, seemed stunned by the whole ordeal. "Don't worry," she tried to reassure Sierra, "Alan's a good man. He'll let you go."

Back upstairs, Radek finally opened his mouth. "You blasted fool!" he yelled at Carlisle, shoving him backward. "That wasn't part of the plan!"

Carlisle was not about to be manhandled. "Don't talk to me like that, you boozed-up sewer rat! She's famous enough that her superiors should have known she'd be found out, and I'm guessing they were planning on it. We have to react accordingly if we're going to keep this operation running!"

"Her orders," Radek shot back, "were to infiltrate and assassinate. I saw the flimsy myself, before I burned it. Her superiors want her at the highest levels of our organization, ready to eradicate its leadership as soon as they call. She can't do that if we know who she is!"

Carlisle sneered. "Oh, please," he answered, "You really think that little girl is capable of that? She couldn't infiltrate a three-star restaurant to assassinate a cheesecake! She can't even stand to be stared at for thirty seconds, by the Emperor's black bones!"

Radek grit his teeth. "Don't let her looks deceive you, you self-absorbed thug; she's more dangerous than your beady little eyes can see."

"Why, you--"

"Enough!" Kemen interrupted again. "I will not have this bickering among my people!" He looked at Carlisle. "You should have stuck to the plan, for the time being. We could have discussed your alternative arrangement, and come to a proper agreement on it." He turned to Radek. "Zachary, he's right about her fame. Infiltration is not a mission you send a Moff's daughter to accomplish, no matter her skills. They had a reason for sending her. What could it be?"

Radek shrugged a little. He was genuinely unsure. He had seen her identity in the file Sargon had held, but he assumed Moffs kept their children relatively under wraps. Who would want their family associated with that kind of political life? "Maybe," he suggested, "they want to see how we react to a golden terrorist opportunity. If we react like terrorists, they shut us down hard; if we react like diplomats, they use a lighter touch--Imperial Intelligence rather than the Stormtrooper Corps."

Kemen smiled. "A wise observation." He looked at Carlisle. "How do you suggest we proceed?"

Carlisle frowned. "If we let her go, they'll know she failed, and they'll bring in the cavalry. Diplomats or terrorists, we're traitors, and it won't matter to them. They want us gone."

Kemen nodded. "Also wise. Alternatives?"

Carlisle continued, "We can't hold her for ransom, either. If we come off as complete terrorists, using everything to our advantage, they'll come at us head on, kill us all. We can't let her go, but we can't let anyone know we have her, either."

"So she's not a prisoner," Radek inferred, "She has to be a part of this. Like she's one of us. We call her Tova Leto, let her work within the ranks, try to help us. Make them think the infiltration plan worked, somehow." He looked at Kemen. "It might ruin her reputation, and her father's reputation, when someone else recognizes her, but that was her choice in accepting the mission. Meanwhile, we keep a damn close eye on her; the second she makes a move against us, we take her out."

Kemen nodded. "Regrettable, but necessary. Agreed." He gestured to the door. "Go get Eirian and Miss Pryde."

Radek nodded in turn, and obeyed.
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

Sierra was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. She couldn't believe what was happening. Her mission hadn't even started yet and it was already over. Best case scenario if they tried to keep her she could at least take out Kemen, Carlisle and the others but there were still countless cells and countless cell leaders still at large. She needed this mission to go off without a hitch so that she might locate every available target and identify persons of interest that needed to be taken out. Now it seemed she wouldn't get that chance. The Imperial navy would be sent in blind and the collateral damage would be catastrophic.

She looked over at Swinth standing next to her. The other woman seemed sympathetic so at the very least they didn't suspect her of being dangerous. When Swinth turned to look at her their eyes met for an instant before Sierra quickly looked away. There were other people in the warehouse, of course, other eyes all staring at her. All at once the state of her mission fell away from her thoughts only to be replaced by a sudden desire to run and hide. She hated being looked at and she wanted to scream at everyone to look away but she couldn't, she had to remain calm. If only doing so was really all that easy...

Meanwhile, outside the warehouse on a nearby rooftop a lone figure lay on his belly watching the rebel HQ through a pair of macrobinoculars. On his wrist there was a display showing the layout of the warehouse and a single blip denoting the location of Sierra Pryde. A tone sounded from his communicator and he fetched it from his pocket and turned it on. A small holographic figure of an Imperial officer appeared before him.

"Cypher 9, report in," the man said.

"The rebels appear to have taken the bait," Cypher 9 reported, "They took the girl in an hour ago and it appears they're not letting her leave."

That was good, that meant the rebels were considering using her as a negotiating chip. Once they had their hands on a Moff's daughter they Imperial navy would have all it needed to move in and handle the situation. The strength and efficiency of the Imperial military would once again be demonstrated beyond doubt and the effectiveness of the Imperial Knights would be called into question. It was everything the Imperial Moffs needed to weaken Thrawn's position and open the way to a change in leadership and a new direction for the Empire. The Imperial Agent suspected there was already a team at work working to put a proper spin on this story to ensure the right people came out on top.

"Keep monitoring the situation, Cypher 9, and report to me the moment they take her into custody. Our forces will have to move fast to secure the planet before Helstone suspects treachery."

For a moment Cypher 9 wondered if leaving the General out of the plan was wise, but immediately tossed that idea out. The General was quite devoted to serving the Empire and he knew any attempts to recruit him would be a waste of time. Still, it made operating under his nose rather difficult. "I understand, Keeper, I'll keep you posted."

Then he turned off the communicator and returned it to the pocket on his belt. When he turned his attention back to the warehouse he noticed that the blip marking Sierra had moved. They were taking her back up into the main office. That was strange, he thought for sure they'd be putting her in some kind of makeshift cell by now...

Sierra had plenty of time to consider a number of gruesome outcomes as she waited for Kemen's verdict. She could still feel the prying eyes watching her but using Swinth as a shield to hide from them seemed to help alleviate her fears somewhat. In the meantime she couldn't help but wonder why her superiors had selected her. They should have known she would be recognized so why jeopardize the mission? She wouldn't know it, of course, but she was selected for this mission at the request of the Moffs despite Gerhard's protest. He recommended any number of other Knights for the mission but the Moffs insisted on it being Sierra, citing her adaptability and natural aptitude as the reasoning for her selection. Despite her scopophobia Sierra was an accomplished duelist, young though she may be she wielded the Force with a grace and style rarely seen in any of the other recruits. Gerhard had every confidence she could handle herself well but in this situation he knew they were being setup. Unfortunately, there wasn't much he could do. The program was already walking on thin ice since its conception.

All of this had gone over Sierra's head. All she could think about was somehow accomplishing her mission but she couldn't figure out how she could do that if the rebels turned her away. She needed them to let her help them, but how? Unfortunately, her time to think about her predicament was cut short when Radek appeared to take them back upstairs. Sierra chanced a look at his face trying to decipher his expression but she couldn't tell if he was bringing her good news or bad.

"Kemen's reached a decision," he said, gesturing for them to follow. He brought them back up to the office and closed the door behind them after they entered.

Sierra hesitantly glanced at Kemen before shifting her gaze to Berk. The man was scowling at her and that frightened her enough to force her to look away. "What do you plan to do with me," she asked in a small voice, a small part of her didn't want to know the answer...
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

Kemen smiled charmingly. "Zachary has spoken very highly of your abilities and your grace," he said, remembering that she thought 'Zachary' was Sargon, her Imperial Intelligence contact. "He did not suspect your identity, after you portrayed your cover ID so carefully. If not for your face and Berk's good memory, we might never have suspected who you were." He bowed his head. "For that reason, I have decided to let you stay. There are certain people on Bescane who would sooner shoot any of us than be seen speaking to us, but a Moff's daughter might open those doors."

He gestured to Radek, then to Swinth. "Zachary and Eirian will work closely with you. If you need anything while you are with us, speak to one of them. I have not yet worked out whom you should approach with our ideals first, so in the meantime, please stay busy around the warehouse. We need to maintain our cover as a legitimate business enterprise. There is plenty to do; don't be a stranger."

While Kemen was speaking, Radek had sidled closer to Swinth and brought her up to speed. He added, "Any news about that benefactor?"

Swinth eyed him warily. She still did not trust him, and he knew that, but her caution could not prevent her from attempting to further the cause. "Don't tell Kemen," she whispered, "because I don't want him reacting badly now, after all we've accomplished. But I think she's a Sith."

Frell, Radek thought. But he tried to continue appearing innocent and curious. "A Sith - really?" he asked softly, "What could they want here?"

"Information, mostly," Swinth answered, "Maybe about you. Maybe about Carlisle." When Kemen gestured to the two of them, she nodded toward the Imperial Knight, smiling. Murmuring, she added, "But now that I think of it, maybe she meant her."

Radek knew that things were going from bad to worse. He thought he could handle Sierra; she was skilled, but relatively green. He knew he could handle Kemen, and Carlisle, and even Swinth--though she continued to surprise him with her awareness. He was almost sure that she was lying about her identity, too, now--maybe New Republic Intelligence, maybe another power-player interested in Bescane's industry. Either way, he had to keep an eye on her. But if the Sith were involved--he had to find out more. He needed to meet this woman, figure out what she knew--and, if necessary, kill her. He could not have anyone disrupting his plans now, especially not someone who could expose him so easily as a Sith. Imperial Knights were one thing--the Sith had recently thrown the Galaxy into absolute upheaval by their power, and they did not seem ready to stop.
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

"Legitimate business enterprise?" Sierra repeated, not sure what he meant, "What did you want me to do?"

"It's a warehouse, surely you know how one operates," Carlisle chided her.

Sierra shook her head. "I'm not really all that familiar with warehouses or businesses," she admitted. "Plus the people," she added, remembering the sheer number of people downstairs with a shudder but then she remembered where she was and what she had to do and tried in vain to stand taller. I can do this, she said to herself quietly, I have to do this.

"I'll be ready when you need me," she said to Kemen, "I won't let you down."
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

Kemen nodded with a genial smile. He looked at Radek and Swinth, nodding toward the door. Both of them escorted Sierra out, leaving Kemen alone with Carlisle. Carlisle spoke first. "Do you really think this is going to work?"

Kemen smiled bravely. When he took up the mantle of freeing Bescane, he knew that his task would be difficult; he knew that he would face challenges. A Moff's daughter who was also an Imperial Knight, trained in the Force and sent to assassinate him? That was still a surprise. He knew the Empire was trying to deceive them somehow; something still did not sit right, but he truly hoped that Sierra could help them. If there was a political figure in the mix, perhaps he could get more from the Empire through negotiation--but if he was a kidnapper, there would be no mercy. The whole world was teetering on the edge of a knife. "If it doesn't," he said, "we're all done for. I don't think we have much choice."

* * * * *

Downstairs, Radek and Swinth led Sierra into the midst of the warehouse. "A shipment came in recently," Swinth was saying, pointing toward the large metal crate being unloaded on the far side of the structure. "No need to draw attention to yourself; just pick up some boxes and move them further in, pile them with the rest." Most of the other people in the building were doing exactly as Swinth described, so the task would not prove difficult.

Meanwhile, Radek used his position behind Swinth to slip his fingers into her pocket. They came back holding the business card she had been given by the Sith. He slipped it into his own pocket before being noticed. Joining the conversation, he added softly, "If anyone asks, use your cover ID. Kemen won't hold you for ransom, but there are some wilder elements in the revolution; don't expect everyone to be as nice as he is." He jerked a thumb toward the door. "I'm going to go out on patrol for a spell. Don't worry," he told Sierra, "everything will be fine."

He slipped out the door without waiting for a response.

Swinth gestured to the container again. "Come on, I'll help for a bit," she said.

"What's in the boxes?" Sierra asked.

Swinth shrugged. "Medicine, mostly. A few ration packs. We try to distribute them to the people fairly, but it's hard to get it out when the Empire's breathing down our necks."

* * * * *

Outside, Radek pulled out his comm unit and signaled the frequency indicated on the Sith's business card. A woman's voice, almost sultry if it weren't so direct, answered.

"This is Zachary Freeman," Radek said, "You spoke with an associate of mine yesterday - a miz Swinth. I know you were expecting contact from her, and I know that these communications are best kept to a minimum of personnel. Is there someplace we can talk in private? I have the information you requested of her."

There was a short pause; the woman seemed to be considering his statement. Then, "In this case, Mister Freeman, I favor speed over other concerns, and I appreciate the promptness of your call. I’m staying at the Chateau au Lac; I’d prefer you meet me in the first-floor dining lounge, in one of the private rooms, in one hour. The reservation will be under the name Corbolan. I will be alone, but if you wish to bring associates, I won’t be offended."

Radek noted a confirmation, then put the comlink away. He made his way promptly to the hotel, knowing he would arrive with a few minutes to spare.

As Radek walked into the Chateau au Lac - the castle on the lake, in some old language or another - he got the distinct impression that he was not welcome to the staff and patrons there. He walked briskly past security as if he had urgent business to attend to; he slipped by the information desk, busy with some complaint. The restaurant was not far from the lobby, but he was seen by more people than he would have liked. Still, a public-but-private place - she likely did not mean to kill him. That was reassuring.

The maître d' grabbed his arm as he tried to slip by. "I don't believe you're supposed to be here," the man declared in a clipped Coruscanti accent. He eyed Radek up and down, a special look of disdain gracing his chiseled features. "Or... anywhere."

Radek scowled. "I'm part of the Corbolan party. I was invited."

The man looked down his nose at the poorly-dressed Radek, sure that such a lowlife was not appropriate to this fine establishment. After a quick check, however, he saw that only one guest had arrived for the Corbolan party. He forced a smile. "Of course, mister...?"

"Freeman," Radek finished for him. "Private room, right? I'll find it."

With that, he was away, leaving the arrogant host twitching his nose in a mix of anger and disgust.

After he had left the host behind, his datapad beeped at him. He slipped into a side corridor and pulled out the small device. It had been linked to his comlink so that textual messages could be sent in moments when a conversation was impractical. He silenced the device so that it would not interrupt his upcoming conversation, but glanced at the message in case it was urgent.

Radek passed two private rooms before he found one that was quiet enough to be his meeting place. He opened the door and slipped inside.

His heart caught in his throat. There was a woman who was undoubtedly a Sith. Swinth had told him as much, but Radek doubted that a woman like this could walk down the street on Bescane without drawing attention, so he further doubted that Swinth had seen her like this. The swirling black cloak that seemed to move even in the still air of the dining room, the glossy black armor on her torso, the tattoos on her face, and most notably, the lightsaber on the table. He suppressed the urge to swallow and gently calmed himself, regularizing his breathing.

He smiled as he realized exactly how he could solve both of his problems at the same time. Swinth had suggested it for him: maybe this Sith was on Bescane looking for the Imperial Knight. Pitting them against each other meant distracting the Sith with an enticing target, and distracting Sierra with a serious danger to the people of Bescane. If her motives were as honest as she claimed, she would have no choice but to respond appropriately. It would expose her to the Bescaneans, blow her cover in front of her superiors, and bring her whole plan crashing down.

"Miz Corbolan?" he asked, already knowing that was not her name. "I'm Zachary Freeman." He walked right up to her and held out his hand. He gave no indication now that he had noticed her lightsaber. Surely his ragged clothes and dirty flesh would be unpleasant to both sight and smell, too, but Radek was not here to make friends. He was here to destroy the Empire. And using a Sith to destroy the darkness that haunted him? He could savor a special pleasure in that kind of irony.

Skavi had evaluated Swinth as someone who Knew What She Was Doing, and had no doubt whatsoever that Swinth had seen the same in her. Thus, she expected anyone who showed up to be possessed of a similar level of survival capacity, or else Swinth's superiors or employers were fools. What form that capacity might take was another question. A witty or clever person, like Giles P. Freeman, could survive just about anything without the usual kind of world-shattering psychokinetic powers or well-honed martial skills. An influential person - 'cross me and reap the consequences' - might have a similar capacity. But on average, when you suspect your mysterious benefactor is a heavy hitter, you send heavy hitters until you're fairly sure they're trustworthy.

So when Freeman, Zachary, came through the door she evaluated him as one predator does another, without regard to whether or not he could touch the Force. There were ways to test that, some more direct than others, but the set of his shoulders, the lines of his neck and ribs, his posture and the way he moved his hands and set his feet, all testified to the fact that this fellow knew who he was and knew how to fight. His Force-sensitivity or lack of it was beside the point. This was someone she could respect on a gut level, even - rare for her - a sexual level: he had presence, hygiene issues or not, and she suspected those were either well-earned or a superb cover.

She stood and shook the proffered hand without hesitation. Her presence and attitude were all business. Skavi had not been raised by Zeltrons: she had the biology but not the culture. "Corbolan is my employer, Mr. Freeman. I'm Darth Consecrai. I've been asked to look into your movement and determine whether off-world influences are spurring it to its new heights; as you could guess, my contribution was nothing more or less than a way to approach the rebellion for this reason. Depending on the nature of the off-world influence, if it exists - and I believe it does - I'm tasked to help your rebellion, or bring it to its knees.

"Enlighten me, Mr. Freeman."

Radek swallowed, making a show of nerves, although when he heard the nonchalance of her voice and saw the surety in her eyes, he began to suspect that his show was no longer for her benefit. But he held to his persona; either she caught on to his ruse, in which case, his falsehoods caused no harm, or she was as oblivious as he had hoped for her to be, in which case, they kept him from discovery. He quickly fabricated his information as he laid it out; his lies were diverse, especially considering how recently they had encountered Sierra. "A few weeks ago, I guess, we first started noticing unusual increases in our supporters. Mr. Kemen's speeches started to have more sway with people. We thought - we hoped - it was just the movement picking up speed.

"But we didn't yet have all the facts. About a week ago, a woman came to us. Dark hair, green eyes. Short little thing. She claimed she was a local hoping for justice for her family - said her name was Tova Leto, and she could be our eyes and ears. She said she would provide us with just the right information, so that we could take our movement all the way to the top.

"When we did some digging, though, we came across what we already suspected was true: Tova Leto, the real Tova Leto, died as a little girl. I don't think she - the impostor, I mean - could have altered those records so easily. We decided that she had to be working for... somebody's Intel. Imperial Intel didn't make much sense, 'cause she was helping us, and all, but... Why go undercover if she's working with the New Republic? Wouldn't it make sense just to work with us?

"Anyway, Mr. Kemen and Miz Swinth told me to keep an eye on her. I'm supposed to be her... escort or guide or something. So I've been around her a lot the past few days, and she... she seems to know things she's not supposed to know. Like how somebody feels during a conversation, or whether or not they're lying. It sounded to me like... some of those stories I've heard about the Force. So when Miz Swinth came back from your meeting, talking about someone who volunteered to join us, who had a lot of influence, maybe a lot of power... well, she fit the bill. So Miz Swinth decided it would be safer if they kept an eye on her and I came and told you about her."

He shrugged. "I don't know if that's who you're looking for or not, but from what Miz Swinth told me, she sounds like she might be your... the person you're looking for." He avoided making eye contact. "I'd be happy to help you track her down. I don't want any harm coming to Mr. Kemen or Miz Swinth. They've been good to me. When I... I got fired from the plant, well, I... I didn't know where to go. I tried applying to a couple of academies and such for the Empire - I used to believe in them so, you see - but they all rejected me on account of the bad health here. I kinda turned to the clubs for an answer. But Mr. Kemen, he found me, and he made me useful." He smiled weakly.

It's a maxim across the length and breadth of the civilized galaxy that you just don't lie to a Sith Lord. Unfortunately, too many Sith rely on that reputation; and as for Skavi herself, regardless of Velok's despairing tutelage, she had never been overly skilled at that sort of thing. Violence, yes; she could make armies blink. But as she paid attention to the Force and to Freeman, she realized she had no idea whether he was lying or not. A half-truth could explain it. On the face of it, his words sounded about right.

She felt inclined to trust Freeman.

"There are other possibilities. The Crimson Empire and the Sith Empire could easily be behind this. If she is a Force user, which sounds likely-" Belatedly, it clicked that based on Freeman's apparent level of knowledge, the possibilities narrowed down to three. A: he was telling the truth. B: he himself was the Forcer. C: he knew what a Forcer looked like because he knew who the Forcer was, knew he or she wasn't this Tova, and was protecting the real one. Which could mean Jedi involvement. She shook her head and resumed after the briefest pause. "-if she is, she'll follow either the Dark Side or the Light Side, which will narrow down the possibilities further. If I startle her properly, she'll use the Force and reveal something about her allegiance.

"Lead me to her, Mr. Freeman. And never fear. If the influence is just one person, the worst that I can do to your group is kill her, and I could just as easily decide to help her. I am not your average Sith Lord. I've been known to work hand-in-hand with Jedi and assassinate Darksiders."

Well, hell. If he had known that, Radek likely would not have bothered with the whole charade. He was in it now, though, and he could not simply back out because she suggested that she might not kill him. If she decided that Sierra was not a follower of the Dark Side, though, they might get to comparing stories about him. If that happened, his only recourse was likely to be an expedient escape. Perhaps he would be able to convince Swinth to go with him. She had guts and could handle a weapon. But the mysteries that surrounded her would surely trouble him too much for them to work together long-term.

His mind churned, but his face kept the same stupid expression. He nodded dumbly, then finally said, "Okay. I'll... set up a meet. She was at our base of operations when I left to speak to you." He looked her up and down briefly. "Is, um... is that what you're gonna wear?" Expecting offense, he quickly shrugged and gave her an innocent expression, explaining, "I mean, I don't have a problem with it, but it'll probably attract attention, you know."

He really didn't care what she wore. And he didn't care if she attracted attention. Hell, as far as his opinion took him, she could walk down the street with nothing on except for a belt to clip her lightsaber to. But if she took the time to change, even to apply make-up, before they left... he might have time to retrieve his own lightsaber from its hiding place near the spaceport so that he would have a ready defense, in case either this Darth Consecrai or Sierra Pryde discovered him and turned against him. But he would have to be quick. The spaceport was not across the street, and Darth Consecrai did not seem like the kind of woman to take an hour to fix her hair. Assuming she even took the bait.

Maybe it was something about his eyes. She couldn't quite place it after the fact, couldn't tell what tipped her off to the incongruity, if there even was one. With his final words, however, she made a tentative decision: he was faking something. He wasn't as stupid as he made himself out to be, for one thing. Maybe it was nothing more than gut feeling, which comprised the backbone of her Sense abilities. Skavi considered herself in touch with her instincts. Sometimes they just took a little while to kick in.

She was fully aware that her suspicion flickered across her face; there wasn't much she could do to suppress the microexpression, and if he was paying attention, he'd likely see it.

The issue distracted her momentarily from the whole question of her appearance, which seemed rather inconsequential as a result. She pulled her thoughts together and decided that she didn't care. She was no stealth operative; she knew her limits.

But had Velok sent her here to stretch her boundaries? Should she at least attempt to do things the quiet way for once? It occurred to her that she could put the hated makeup on, wear something else, and all anyone would see would be Zeltron, early thirties, long hair, killer muscle tone. Maybe she didn't need to be perfect at stealth to be stealthy. The thought cheered her, and she brushed aside the thought that maybe he was setting her up for something. Just to be on the safe side, she'd grab her repacked bag and duck into the second hotel room, a floor down and two rooms over, booked remotely under a different name. She could change and do her makeup there.

And listen to her gut the whole time.

"Give me half an hour," she said, rising. "Then meet me at the front door. You're quite right. Wouldn't want to attract attention, would we."

She was suspicious. Sithspawn. Radek knew that he was walking on the edge with these suggestions, these requests - these lies. But he thought he was more careful than that. Still, she had acquiesced.

He bowed his head. "Of course, miz... Darth... Consecrai," he said, smiling a little awkwardly. He backed out of the room, then increased his pace to a rapid walk, just shy of running. The maître d' eyed him again as he left, but Radek ignored the man. As soon as he was out of the hotel, he took to his heels toward the spaceport, checking his chrono as he did. He had twenty-nine minutes.

The run got him there in plenty of time. He had twenty-two minutes left. He found the spot and began to dig, soon uncovering the small case that held his lightsaber and other personal effects. He opened it, retrieved his lightsaber, then closed it again and put it back in the hole. He shoved the dirt back on top of it, then patted it down as quickly as he could, striving to make it look as normal as the ground around it. Then he tucked the lightsaber under his shirt into a fold of his pants at the waist.

Then he checked his chrono again. Six minutes left. He cursed. Digging and refilling the hole had taken him longer than he had expected. He called on the Force to give him speed and regulate his breathing as he sprinted back toward the hotel. He would need to be there in enough time to call Swinth and arrange a meeting between Sierra and Consecrai. He cursed again as he ran.

He checked his chrono as he saw that he was nearing the hotel. He had about a minute and a half until their appointed meeting time. He swallowed, hoping she was not early, as he rounded the street corner and slowed his pace.
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

The man known as Cypher Nine resisted the urge to swear under his breath. The plan, he thought, was flawless. There was no way the rebels could not recognize her as Moff Pryde's daughter. He was certain they had but in spite of all that they didn't take the bait. Sierra would have gone in without a weapon and even if she did have the Force on her side she couldn't block a dozen blaster bolts without a lightsaber. They would have taken her prisoner and the Imperial Navy would have had everything it needed to move in and bring this planet to heel. However, it appeared as though they would need a new plan.

He pulled his hood tighter over his head and moved away from where he was observing Sierra. The girl was now stacking crates of all things and she was doing it by hand. At the very least she was dedicated to her role and perhaps possessed greater skill than he had guessed. At the very least she would have to be a fast talker to get these rebels on her side. Once he was some distance down the street and out of sight he pulled out his communicator and called his superior.

"Report, Cypher Nine," the old man said as soon his blue representation appeared.

"The plan failed," the agent reported, "The rebels did not take the bait. It appears instead they have accepted her into their ranks."

The Keeper of Imperial Intelligence frowned. "Surprising, but not completely unexpected."

"Sir," the agent asked curiously.

"Having the rebels take Sierra captive was the preferred outcome, Cypher Nine, but it was not the only plan in play. There's more than one way to discredit the Imperial Knights, but now you'll have to take a more active hand. Make contact with the girl, Cypher Nine, get her to believe you're on her side and convince her that the mission has been compromised. Tell her rebel sympathizers have infiltrated the Imperial garrison and that no one can be trusted. Play on her fear of being watched, it shouldn't take much to push her over the edge. If we can't make the girl appear incompetent then we can turn her into a traitor."

"I understand, Keeper," Cypher Nine replied and then he cut his communication. He wasn't exactly equipped to lead a psychological war against an Imperial Knight but then again with her scopophobia the girl was already in a fragile state and given her inexperience he had every confidence he could turn her against her superiors. He could start by getting her to suspect her contact.

Meanwhile Sierra was busy working up a sweat and panting heavily. She may have been in good form in terms of combat and the Force but she was not overly strong and some of these crates were heavy. She resisted the urge to use the Force to lift them and even though she had mechanical assistance for the heavier ones there were still plenty of small boxes that needed to be moved as well. She stopped at one point to take a break and look at the dwindling pile. Two men had taken notice of her then and walked over to greet you.

"Hey, girl," one of them called out, "You new?"

Sierra could feel their eyes on her even before she heard his voice. One of the down sides of being Force Sensitive and suffering from a phobia, she was always keenly aware of people watching her. "Please don't talk to me," she whispered quietly without turning around.

"I'm sorry, what? I didn't quite hear that," then man replied.

Steeling her shoulders Sierra turned to look at them, her eyes meeting with the one who had spoken only briefly before she turned them away again. "Yes, I'm new," she said, a bit louder this time.

"Don't think I've seen you around the city before. What's your name?"

Sierra really wanted him to shut up and just walk away but somehow she suspected that was not going to happen. "Tova Leto," she answered, giving him the name of her cover identity.

"Tova? Hmm," he said, leaning in closer, "Come to think of it you do look kind of familiar. Where have I seen you before?"

The man's face kept inching closer and closer towards her and Sierra tried to take a step back but the man reached out and grabbed her by the wrist. "You scared, honey? You have reason to be scared?"

His other hand reached out and grabbed her firmly by the chin, forcing her to look at him. Sierra locked eyes with the man for all of half a second before she finally pushed him away with all her might. Turned out it wasn't much but it was enough to break his hold on her and send him staggering a bit. "Don't look at me," she shouted at him, quickly turning her back to the man and cowering beside a crate.

Both men were shocked. "Hey, man, what's her problem," the one who had yet to speak asked.

The first just looked at his friend and shrugged, "No idea."

Just then Swinth appeared and gave the two men a disapproving look. "Hey, you two lug heads get back to work," she snapped at them.

"Yes, Ma'am," they both replied in unison before quickly retreating from Sierra.

Swinth watched them leave then turned to the girl who was still cowering in a little ball beside a crate. This was the assassin they sent to kill Kemen? "Hey," she said gently, "Zachary's got something for you. A potential benefactor he wants you to speak to."

Hearing Swinth's voice was a bit of a comfort, surprisingly, and Sierra began to feel her nerves settle. After a moment she stood and without turning around she quietly nodded her head. "Okay," she said and then she turned to follow behind Swinth...
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

Honestly, Skavi doubted she could get the coverup on in half an hour - not and have it look good. She'd accelerated the timetable by instinct, not judgment. Fortunately, she had a backup.

Ald had tattoos far more obvious than even hers, and from time to time - often, in fact - he preferred to be just another man, albeit with ridiculously long hair as per his culture. But he usually braided that. To cover his facial tattoos, then, he'd invested in a half-millimetre-thin breathable synthskin mask that matched his natural skin tone. To be more precise, he'd invested in several hundred of them: fragile things, good for a handful of uses only. He bought in bulk. He'd given a set of them to Skavi not long ago, matched to her face. It was, perhaps, the most thoughtful gift she'd ever been given. Naturally he had no idea what it meant to her. In his way, Ald Sorosel was stupid.

She dug one out of her bag and molded it to her face, let her hair down, changed into a knee-length black dress, and sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Well, that was quick."

The sense of anticlimax made her chuckle. She now had, oh, twenty minutes or so to kill. But what to do? With a shrug, she pulled out a handheld HoloNet transciever connected to a secure relay elsewhere on the planet. "Consecrai here. I've met with another representative of the movement, a Zachary Freeman. He's told me about..."

Twenty minutes later, she put on heels, slipped her lightsabre into a handbag, and descended the elevator. If necessary she could kick the heels off quickly; they had no backs, and weren't especially high anyways. If there was such a thing as a 'combat high heel,' these were it. She exited the hotel and found him standing there as expected.

"Hello again, Mr. Freeman. Shall we?" Something seemed...slightly different. More colour in his cheeks, perhaps. More...dirt under his fingernails? No - just the tiniest little bit more confidence. Well hidden, oh yes, but a hard thing to hide. That could mean a few things, none of them good.

Radek bowed his head. "Of course." With a little help from the Force, he had managed to catch his breath just moments before Consecrai came down from the hotel. He was able to breathe easier now, too, that he had his lightsaber. Knowing that she was armed with a blade and he was not had made him noticeably queasy in their first meeting. Now he stood with more confidence, and he knew that, but he was not about to back down from this woman.

He led her to the warehouse. He knew that Swinth, Carlisle, and Kemen would all be disappointed in him for bringing so many people back to their headquarters. He honestly did not care. If it pushed them over the edge into full-fledged rebellion sooner, all the better. If it just exposed them to the Empire, he would start again somewhere else. All he wanted was to tear the Empire and their resources down enough for a powerful foe to destroy them. And he could do that on another planet just as easily as on Bescane. Bescane was a target of convenience. With enough time, he could turn anyone against the Empire - they had, he thought angrily, done most of that work themselves.

Before they reached the warehouse, before Swinth and Sierra departed it to meet them, Radek had overplayed his hand. Perhaps he had been too specific in his description of Sierra's abilities in the Force, or perhaps he had simply failed to maintain his cover--or perhaps this Sith Lady was more powerful at sensing his own abilities than he thought. Whatever the cause, he had slipped up, and he was about to discover it. "I don't know if she'll still be at the warehouse," he said, padding his lies about his own ineptitude, "Miz Swinth might have decided to take her away from HQ, so she wouldn't be such a danger."

Skavi walked behind Freeman by a few paces; he was leading the way to the warehouse, after all. Her position also gave her a moment to reflect on how things had progressed so far. If "Tova" was the Forcer, it made sense to confront her in a place where she would be surrounded by opponents, unable to act without being overwhelmed, or in a place that Skavi had prepared. Either way, getting to the warehouse was the right call. If Freeman was the Forcer, though, it would be better to act now while there weren't too many people around. She'd kept herself aware throughout the trip, and if he was a Forcer, he was pretty good at keeping his emotions from bleeding out. Even so, she thought she'd sensed anger, and the fact that it didn't show on his face told her volumes. She also considered finding the girl on her own, making things run on her timeline - to see what she could shake loose. But on the outside and chilling chance that both of them were Forcers, that would put her squarely between them.

She decided to incite Freeman... to provoke him. The Force flared around her as she gathered her power for something nasty. She had no intention of actually attacking, she made no gesture, there was no visible efflux of energy or distortion of light or smell of ozone, and in fact no non-Forcer would see or perceive anything different. To a Forcer on the edge, though, it was as if she was winding up for a serious punch.

Just to see if he flinched.

And if he did... well, she'd have to back off, unless he decided to respond in kind.

Weariness plagued Radek's mind. It clouded his judgment. He was not just on edge - he was teetering over the precipice, glaring into an open maw of earth, daring it to swallow him whole. So when he felt that knowing twinge in the Force, signaling the power building up behind him, he didn't just flinch. He snapped. He threw himself forward, spinning around as he did so that he was facing the Sith witch. He called on the Force and sent a burst of power toward her. The wave rippled the pavement and knocked a passing pedestrian into the street, but Consecrai resisted its impulse. When he landed his hand flew to the fold in his belt, withdrawing his lightsaber. Its shimmering blue blade was activate and poised to attack in only a moment.

Radek's expression, which had been so composed, now looked haggard. All of the effort he had put into maintaining appearances now went to studying his opponent, watching for attacks, trying to sense feints and warnings in the Force. His consciousness began to ebb, but he compelled himself to hold on. "Wait!" he managed to gasp, "I can explain."

Resisting the Force wave in heels was, perhaps, one of the finer and more subtle expressions of the Force she'd managed in recent months. She kicked them off as her hand snaked into the purse, which fell unnoticed to the sidewalk as she got a grip on the lightsaber within. Grit and pebbles grated against her callused feet as she settled into a mobile, versatile, but noncommittal stance. The lightsaber hilt, metal formed in the shape of undulating and dimpled bone, spun in her hands before activating with a snap-hiss that cast red light across her features.

She analyzed his stance, his Force sense, and the lines of tension in his face and bearing. He knew what he was doing - no half-trained amateur, but not so ridiculously over-skilled that she didn't stand a chance, either. Unless his acting was so ingrained that it extended to his stance and Force use without affecting reaction time.

She sensed the Dark Side - not the black hatred and sadistic glee of the average career Sith or Cultist, but the Dark nonetheless. The kind of person she usually hunted to kill. Usually.

"Start talking, then."

Radek was standing in a Makashi stance, knowing he could not handle Ataru in his exhausted state. He took a few deep breaths before speaking. "My name is not Zachary Freeman," he explained, "I am Radek Vidar, formerly of the Jedi Order." He screwed his face up a little at that, knowing he should clarify what he meant by "formerly," but he knew that he had to be more succinct in this moment. "My concerns here are in assisting this revolution against the Empire, in the hopes that more lives will be saved as a result," he continued, knowing that that wasn't quite true. His concern lay more in harming the Empire than in helping the Bescaneans, but she did not have to know that right away.

He swallowed hard, knowing that she was more rested than he was, and, likely, she had at least as much training. If it came to a fight, he might hold his own for a time, but victory would inevitably fall to the combatant who was not close to collapse already. He took another deep breath, trying to calm himself and channel the Force, in case she decided to attack. "The Empire is my enemy. And what I have told you about the woman who infiltrated Kemen's group is true. Her name is Sierra Pryde, and she's an Imperial Knight. Her purpose here is to end the movement as swiftly as possible. Let's go meet her, and you'll see that I'm telling the truth."

Skavi noted that they were drawing the attention of some passersby; it occurred to her that the rebels might come out to meet them at any time. The black dress wasn't as tight as it looked - it afforded some mobility. As she considered her options, she thought quite a lot about mobility. If the dren hit the fan, she felt moderately sure she could carve a path away from danger. She couldn't drive worth crap, couldn't fly a ship, could barely use technology - Velok had taught her to stay alive and to hunt Sith. Nothing else. The broader training went to people like Rach Kol-Rekali, who'd come to Velok just as specialized as Skavi found herself now.

"I represent an independent Sith Master whose main concern is hunting other Darksiders. My mission was to find out what Force-users have been improving this revolution's chances lately. If they turned out to be Sith Empire or Cult of Shadow, I was to kill them. If they turned out to be Jedi, I had the option of offering aid to the revolution at my discretion.

"Am I correct in thinking that your fellow revolutionaries don't know you used to be a Jedi, Darksider?"

Radek's eye twitched at his being called a Darksider. Part of him knew it was true, but he refused to accept it. Still, he was in no position to argue. "No," he answered, "They don't." He paused, trying to think of an explanation that didn't incriminate him further. "I knew that the Empire had spies in their operation, keeping tabs in case things got out of hand. I did not want to attract attention to myself. I can do no good if I'm dead." He frowned. "My only task was to help these people. I didn't realize that Imperial Knights and Sith assassins would be getting involved in a minor planetary dispute." That wasn't exactly true, either. Bescane was a pivotal world for the Empire. Galentro handled a lot of their industry. But, he supposed, he was aiming for the "stupidity" defense.

"Please," she said, voice just a little bit acid. "Acting dumb worked an hour ago - more or less. If you're clever enough to be accepted as one of their own, you can pick up on what the Empire's likely to do with a world as critical as Bescane. You think they'll ever let this planet go willingly - or even come close? And you should have known that...which speaks to either blinding naivete, or a degree of willing ignorance bordering on apathy. And I doubt the first one.

"For the record, I'm no assassin. I'm First Apprentice to the rightful Dark Lord of the Sith. He likes to broaden my education with assignments like this."

Radek's expression, which had been rather pained, faded to dull resolve. "I'm sure your master is very proud. You managed to ignore a Jedi pushing this planet closer to the brink for several days before you finally caught on. When you finally confronted him, of course, you did it on a street, out in the open, where the rebels might find you and kill you themselves." His upper lip began to curl in a sneer. He was angry, and getting angrier. This woman was going to ruin everything. He would probably be dead, in fact, within a few minutes. All because some stuck-up Sith couldn't leave well enough alone.

"But fine - you want the truth?" he continued, "I want the Empire gone. I can't do that on my own. The New Republic has foolishly decided that they're no longer a threat. I'll be damned if I stand by and watch Thrawn and his cronies do to more people what they did to me, and if I can't get the New Republic to attack them, then maybe I can pin one of the most pivotal planetary riots in Imperial history on New Republic intelligence, and the Empire will prove themselves a threat."

Skavi replied, "We don't see the universe in the same way, Vidar. My master doesn't care all that much about this world, the balance of power, the big picture, and so forth, except as it entertains or amuses him. Me, I have a certain sympathy for the simplicity of his worldview. I like to hunt.

"Then again, I'm not necessarily here to kill you. You smell a bit like denial, and nothing about you screams hardened Sith. Disillusioned freedom fighter, sure. I think you're on the level. I see no reason to interfere. And rather than return with nothing, I think I'll give your revolution a hand." She lowered her lightsaber, then deactivated it.

Radek followed suit, and none too soon. He heard footsteps rounding the corner behind him. He wrapped the hilt up in his belt, then turned. His head swam, but he fought hard to maintain consciousness. He saw two people walking towards them, and he tried to greet them, but swirling darkness overtook his vision, and he collapsed.

* * * * *

Swinth explained, "This woman showed up and offered us a lot of money to turn in someone who's influencing the revolution, but she's pretty suspicious in her own right." She waited until they were outside the warehouse before continuing, "You're a well-connected political figure. We'd like you to meet her, and tell us what you can about her; if she has this kind of money, she might have shown up on your radar, or your father's. On the off-chance that she's right, your influence may be the best bet we have at tracking down that kind of infiltrator."

Swinth didn't know what Zachary's plan was, but it seemed to involve pitting an Imperial Knight against a Sith. On the one hand, Swinth had no problems with that; one would destroy the other, or they both might be destroyed, and then the revolution could continue as planned. On the other hand, though, two Forcers fighting might produce a lot of collateral damage, and she wanted to avoid that as much as possible. Some losses were necessary--the Empire was evil, and had to be taken apart, even if it meant putting people in danger--but excessive civilian casualties were not part of the mission.

It was a shorter walk to meet Zachary and the Sith than Swinth had expected; they rounded a bend at the end of the block and nearly ran into them. Zachary looked exhausted, then--suddenly--he collapsed! She ran to his side, checking his vitals; his heartbeat was faint, but not gone, and his breath was ragged, but real. She glared up at the Sith, who was straightening her hair as she slipped back into a pair of high heels. "What did you do?"

Skavi smiled. "I did nothing," she replied, gesturing to Radek, "But he seems to have stretched himself too thin. How much do you know about him?"

Swinth sneered. More than he thinks, but less than I'd like, she kept to herself. She glanced back at Sierra, then to the Sith again. "Enough to trust him more than I do you," she answered aloud. She looked meaningfully at Sierra now; she hoped to have some backup, in case everything went sideways.
Last edited by Archangel on Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Posts: 16986
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 2:11 am
Location: Earth

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Pryde »

Swinth had run to Zachary's side as soon as he collapsed. Sierra, for her part, hung back as far as she was able without actually being around the corner out of sight. She felt the use of the Force before arriving at the meeting, she felt it from two sources rather than one. Standing with her back to the wall she cast a side long glance at Zachary's unconscious body. She did not hear that her contact was a fellow Imperial Knight, she had him pegged for Imperial Intelligence and last she checked Imperial agents received no Force training. A more likely explanation would be that the mission had been compromised from the start. She had no idea where her actual contact was but she did not think Zachary was him. In spite of all that, however, she still got what she wanted. She was in the rebellion as was her mission, why Zachary let her get this far though was anyone's guess. Perhaps he was planning some kind of double betrayal or maybe he thought that by keeping her close he could control her easier. Either way, it made her job more difficult but not necessarily impossible. She still had the access she needed she just needed to be more careful about how she acquired the information she sought.

In the meantime, though, there was a Sith here she needed to deal with. Unfortunately, she did not have the means with which to do battle. Because her cover ID required her to be a disenfranchised local she had left her lightsaber hidden somewhere in her room before her meeting with Zachary. That meant, should things turn bloody here, she was at a severe disadvantage. There was one hope, though, Zachary must have had a lightsaber. If she was forced to fight she could borrow his but she preferred not to fight if she could avoid it. What did this Sith know about her? What was Zachary planning? Was he planning to betray her? Or use her? Without even looking at the Sith she could tell that the woman was skilled, perhaps even more skilled than herself. Maybe Zachary had planned to team up with her to take the Sith down. That was one explanation, but given the fact that neither of them were on the same side the more likely explanation was that he planned to use the Sith to kill her.

She could feel the Sith's eyes on her and the panic beginning to rise in her stomach. Swinth was looking at her too, almost expecting Sierra to back her up. What was she supposed to do? She never trained for something like this. How was she supposed to maintain her cover? All these questions kept swirling around in her head and finally she couldn't take it anymore. "Stop looking at me," she screamed at the top of her lungs, turning her back to both Swinth and Skavi. She leaned against the wall for support, her entire body shaking as her breathing became frantic. The Sith had an opening to kill her now but there was nothing Sierra could do. She just couldn't think straight. All those eyes staring at her, judging her...
User avatar
Posts: 7686
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:37 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Being Trodden On: The Rebellion on Bescane

Post by Archangel »

Skavi raised an eyebrow, but did nothing. Her sense abilities were not strong enough to detect the Force in this woman--she mostly seemed frantic and distracted--and she did not act like a Sith bent on causing a war. Skavi suspected that she was a target of convenience for Freeman--Vidar--who wanted a scapegoat to explain his manipulation. Looking back at Swinth, she said, "Don't worry; before he passed out, he convinced me to aid your cause." The woman smiled, but it was not the sort of expression that made Swinth feel warm and fuzzy inside. "Please, take me to your headquarters; I would like to meet the man in charge of this revolution."

The rebel eyed the Sith suspiciously. "How can I take your word on that?" she asked, "How do I know you won't just slaughter us once you're inside our headquarters?"

Skavi almost laughed. "We are not far from those headquarters; finding them would be easy enough from here, especially for me. If I wanted to kill your people, I could start now and be done and gone by the end of the day." She held her palms out in a gesture of peace. "I am willing to help, but I will not force you to accept my offer. Freeman can vouch for me when he wakes." She used Vidar's alias; she did not know how much Swinth had learned about him, but since she was using Vidar for leverage to help the revolution, she did not want to sow seeds of distrust for him.

Swinth looked down at Freeman, then up at the Sith lady. The woman made some good points. Besides, Swinth knew, there was no way she could fight off a Sith. Either Consecrai did not want to kill them, or she was planning to kill them at a more convenient time, but whichever way it was, Swinth could do very little about it. She was a crack shot with a blaster and mean in hand-to-hand combat, but a Sith was in another echelon altogether. "Fine," she answered, "Help me carry him." Trying not to look at the distraught Imperial, she called out, "Come on, Tova, we're headed back to the warehouse." Swinth picked Freeman up at the shoulders, and Consecrai picked up his legs with no noticeable effort.
Post Reply