Star Wars: Total War (Closed, Started)

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Soviet Heavy:


As the cube finished downloading the information Julia was after, she stopped the transfer and returned it to her bag. She followed the Whiphid's instructions and pressed the button which allowed the wall nearby to conveniently slide and reveal an ext route. "After me", Julia said as she left the room and entered a dark and surprisingly clean alleyway.

The Whiphid promptly followed her and the door was closed behind him. "So tell me, what are we going to do now?". Julia raised the cube and showed it to the Whiphid, "I need some time to comb through it, but it has some other secrets I can use to bring some of the clans down, or at least hold them to a handsome ransom".

Sarik looked from side to side, scanning the alleyway. Nobody seemed to have noticed them, but he could here blaster fire coming from the entrance to the casino. Couldn't go that way. "This way." he whispered, leading Julia away from the market district.

Nar Shaddaa was abuzz with life, countless species filling its streets. If Coruscant was the crown jewel of city planets, than Nar Shaddaa was the ugly stepsister. Grime and junk littered the ground, the air was filled with the stench of rotting food, nauseating narcotics, and ionized air from blaster discharges. It was also incredibly easy to lose a pursuer in the myriad of crowds.

Sarik eventually managed to pull both of them through the crowded streets towards the Starport. "It's probably best if we get off this moon and head somewhere safe. No sense in waiting around for Gasanda's goons to find us. Hopefully they're still busy with whatshername back at the Casino. Follow me, I've got a ship."

Rather than go through the terminals, Sarik led Julia to the side fence, and began clipping wires. She glanced inquisitively at him. "Gasanda owns this dock. I have to park here for insurance purposes with him. They'd ask questions if we used the terminal. Looks like we have to break in the old fashioned way. And.... done. Alright, you go first."

The pair wedged through the clipped fence. The Bantha Assault Shuttle was nestled between two large freighters. Sarik quickly ushered Julia inside. "Now, they're probably not going to like us taking off without clearance, so we need a distraction. Hop in the gunner's seat, and give the quad turbolasers a shakedown. Pick a craft, any craft, and blast it. We'll get away in the confusion. I'll answer your questions soon enough."

The Coruscant Starport was alive and brimming with activity the next morning. Countless ships, numbering in the thousands even in the looser clusters poured in and out of the majestic, rounded buildings on their way to parts unknown. Every species in the galaxy could likely be found here in at least some capacity if you camped out a week and watched. Right now, one of the busiest hubs was Docking Bay 73. Tough, scarred mercenaries of every size, color and shape walked through the doors to the forward ships for Mon Calamari. With the coming battle, their forces would need to make a strong showing, and quickly. Two figures in particular were making their way towards the nearly ready to depart shuttles.

Kares and Vic found themselves fitted in their new armor, ready to enter a warzone as much as any of the other men present. The human half of the pair was pulling at the bits of armor uncomfortably; it wasn't irritating to wear, but he found the whole thing to be odd. "Do you ever wonder how Qwezzel manages to perfectly size these armors to us?" He asked his partner.

"A keen eye and decades of skill." The Devaronian bluntly informed him as they walked in. While Vic stood out a bit in his scratched but nonetheless fancy-looking SpecOps armor, Kares blended in much more with his own suit. Just the way he liked it on the battlefield. Shiny gets you shot, Zad had always said. "Qwezzel's a good friend, Vic, he takes care of his own."

"Would he be charging us so much for this stuff then?"

"Well, he's gotta charge us SOMETHING if he wants to stay in business. And besides, we owe him something for these kinds of goods, wouldn't you agree?"

Vic grumbled a resigned agreement. No arguing with that sense. He looked up to glance at his boss, to find the Devaronian's carefree facade gone for a brief moment as he scanned the area around them. "Vic," he said. "what do you make of all these mercs?"

Mazzenger looked them over. They seemed to be your average mercenary groups, nothing stand-out about them, and he voiced as much to his friend.

"Exactly." Kares said, worried. "They're run-of-the-mill. Average. Sure, a few gems, but all the coal on top of it... is this really what we're putting up against Imperial shock troops, buddy?"

Vic felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand. "Y-...yeah. I guess we are; odds don't sound so good when you put it that way, do they?"

"No, they don't." Kares told him. While others were subject to his charms and subterfuge, Vic had yet to not be given a straight answer on anything from the man when he really pressed for it.

"So, boss, what do you make of all this then?"

"Truth be told? I've got a really, really bad feeling about this... we're getting into something we don't know the half of, pal." Octavian took a deep breath, and tried to relax himself. "There's nothing we can do now, though. We're committed, and damn it we're gonna see the job through. But I certainly won't turn down any way to stack the odds. Come on, let's go find Kyle, see about those Jedi he was talking about sending..."

The pair went on into Docking Bay 73 in search of their contact, in the hopes he'd be able to give them some good news.


Xyras Varik, Tattooine
After escorting Rugal Bernstein to his Tattooine safehouse, Xyras and his padawan, Hann, parted ways with their temporary ally.
While their Firespray ship, the Target, was being heavily upgraded and remodelled, Xyras and Hann were in the infamous Chalmun's Cantina in Mos Eisley.
"Another few hours and those Jawas will have fixed her up very well.." Xyras thought aloud, taking a drink, "And then we can return to the council on Coruscant and discuss this war. Word around here is that the capital has seen better days; ship parts littering the streets, bodies, the lot. And that didn't even include Ryn'Talos' armies..."
Closing his eyes briefly, Xyras was again struck by a brief vision.
Coruscant in ruin and flame, black ships filling the sky, Talos' thousands of droid starfighters annihilating Republic and Imperial forces alike..
..and the Jedi Temple; sabers clashing atop the collapsed wreckage of the once-proud Jedi home, and while Xyras could not make out individuals in this vision, he knew Ryn'Talos was amongst them..'

Waking from this state with a start, Xyras looked around the bar. He felt something.. but all he saw was the usual patrons and a couple coming and going, a Wookie exiting, a Zabrak entering. He gave it no further mind, assuming it was because of his recent vision, and continued his drink.


Captain Pirate:

"Okay Master. I'm going to report the docking bay; there's more water coming in today so I'm going to help with the unloading" said as he bowed and departed. The moisture farms weren't able to meet the demand of the Jedi and Republic soldiers who were stationed on the planet so supplies were being brought in from off-world.

Since departing from Coruscant, Hann had been training with his master how to control the Force in more ways than being able to simply push something or someone across a room. He was now able to move almost any object he wanted with relative ease. The largest thing he'd been able to move on his own was the Target itself though only about two feet off the ground before he became exhausted.

He was using his abilities to help the dock workers move around the crates to and from the loading bays of the ships they'd been assigned. In about a day, a number of squadrons were going to leave for Mon Calamari where an attack from the Imperials was expected. His master had received a call from Master Skywalker that he and Hann would be needed to support the ground troops in case of a Sith assault. The Liberator did not have reported sightings for a while so the young Jedi had suspected that Ryn and Pana were most likely gathering resources for some kind of attack.

Once he'd finished his work, Hann started to make his way back to the cantina though he could not shake the feeling of a dark presence somewhere nearby.

Soviet Heavy:

Grissk finished his conversation with the Commander, confident that the impending attack would prove successful. The clones were some the finest, if not the best, troops in the galaxy, he considered himself among the strongest Sith in this quadrant, not on par with Pana or Lord Talos, but he was ready to prove his worth to them. Drokath had been given his own assignment, to hunt down two Jedi, one a Master, the other a padawan, a tough mission if he was to eliminate them as well. But he was to lead an invasion on Mon Calamari after the Republic and Empire were finished shooting at each other, the chance to kill both was what made him quiver with excitement. He was ready for this.

Soviet Heavy:

Vorir Beldra, Bilbringi Shipyards

When Admiral Thrawn cast a glance at Vorir, the Clawdite felt compelled to give a little smirk but fought the temptation and remained adamant is showing no emotion. After hearing that Caster's captor would be recieving a bonus, it was clear that he must reach him first.

"Well, Admiral," Vorir began, "if that is all, then I shall begin my search immediately." With that, he turned and made his leave to begin heading for the docking bay then ultimately his ship. His unmarked MRX-BR was awaiting him in the shipyards, fully fueled and, hopefully, otherwise untouched. During the entire walk from the Reckoning to his docking platform, the Clawdite went over much of the events that occured in the past couple weeks.

Shortly after the Imperial invasion of Coruscant, Vorir recieved no further contact from Caster which was probably to be expected. What did surprise Vorir was that the former senator had nearly fallen off the map, making it nigh impossible to keep tabs on the man. But, as fate would have it, at this very moment he was setting off to bring the man into custody with the only leads being that he was within the Borderlands Region. He went over the situation at hand in his mind as he arrived at his ship and swiftly boarded.

This should definitely prove to be interesting, thought Vorir as he took his seat in the bridge and began conducting his preliminary take-off procedures. Especially when taking into consideration the fact I'll be racing against a handfull of credit-hungry bounty hunters, not entirely unlike myself. Perhaps this may even be "fun".

Soon, the scout-class ship was hovering off the docking bay and cruising away from the shipyards. As Vorir navigated past the asteroids and debris that occupied the Bilbringi System, he chartered himself a course to the Borderlands Region and hopefully figure just where Caster was. The Clawdite knew that the former senator had made a lot of enemies in the short amount of time he'd been gone and, as with any fugitive, knowing where and how to hide was imperative. That went double for a man like Caster, to whom knowledge meant power; the man may have a great deal of it, but not nearly enough to keep him hidden for too long. For that reason, there was one planet the stood out greatly to Vorir - Obroa-skai, home to the largest data archives in the Borderlands Region. The assassin highly doubted Caster would be there himself, but with any luck there'd be an agent of his, one who could be pressed for information. With deft hands, Vorir had input the proper coordinates and leapt through hyperspace.


Commander Coric ordered the troops onto the Liberator, waving through the heavy munitions and transport vehicles. Storing humans was one thing, but their main advantage would be the droids. Back during the Clone Wars, he had been told, clones and droids had been pitted against each other. Here, they would be working together, with the strengths of both covering their weaknesses.

The droids would be the first ones in. BX2 Commando Droids would lead battalions of regular B2's in large infantry rushes designed to swamp the enemy while the more elite clone forces would perform precision strikes against weakened targets. The sheer number of droids that they would bring was staggering. A full legion of clones, ten thousand strong, was an army. But the Liberator's storage bays were filled to the brim with compartmentalized battle droids, an army several magnitudes larger than the clones.

Coric stared down at his armor, a heavy duraplast frame covered with red Sith iconography. He didn't care if it made him a target. He wanted them to see him coming. He walked to stand beside Grissk, observing the loading procession.

"I've been informed to keep you focused, my Lord." said Coric. "Master Talos said that he wants your strength focused on the mission, and the slaughter can come second. Just make sure to keep the targets in your line of sight, and anything else that happens, happens."

"Alright then, you're all dismissed." Del said with a wave of his hand. The 4 ship captains before him got up and exited the Avengers conference room. "Zesk, take the bridge" he said to one of them. "I need a sec."

As the older men filed out of the room, Del closed the 3D map of Mon Calamari in the center of the table, leaned back in his chair, and released an exasperated sigh. The last few hours had been a flurry of activity. Almost immediately after his tour of the ship Del had ordered Battle Group Avenger to the Quermia system, where they were to meet up with 3 other Battle Groups assigned to the invasion. Combined, the fleet was about 100 battleships strong, plus several medical ships and other support vessels. During the trip to Quermia, Del had assisted in preparing for the invasion. He had found that physically working with his crew helped him to get to know them, something Del cared about more than most other Imperial officers. Once they had exited hyperspace, Del took a brief shower before meeting with the heads of the other Battle Groups to plan the attack.

The idea was really quiet simple. The fleet would jump out of hyperspace over Mon Calamari and subdue the Republic forces in orbit. Once a path to the surface was secure, troops would be deployed to several major cities via landing craft. Del would personally lead the ground assault on Coral City, the planets capital, while Captain Zesk commanded the space battle. They had decided to call the whole thing Operation Hurricane. A bit cheesy, but it got the idea across.

Del looked at his watch. It was getting late. He still had to send a report to Thrawn to make sure their plan didn't conflict with anything, but after that he would have to order a lights out across the fleet. He wanted everyone to get a good nights sleep; his men wouldn't want to be half asleep during their finest hour.

Soviet Heavy:
Snip/Attention Grab-O-Matic

The mercenary duo of Kares and Vic found themselves smashed between all the bodies of various mercenaries struggling to squeeze past the others and reach their ships. In all of the chaos, the Devaronian's relative height advantage was particularly useful; with an unwarranted and wholly unwelcome bout of climbing, he got on top of Vic's shoulders, looking over the crowd to figure out just where in the world they were. Octavian's eyes were sharp, his species being particularly keen-eyed from evolving on a world where even the birds could hunt them.

This was a fortunate attribute, as he made out the trademark scruffy hair and goatee of Kyle Katarn in a corner of the hallways leading up to the hangars. He hopped down off of his partner's shoulders, who looked ready to slug Kares for that last stunt. Personal space was a concept that was ready to crumble into dust and memories in a place as crowded as this, and the sandy-haired human would cling to every last shred of it that he could. Kares pointed in the direction they needed to go, and with a bit of strong-arming they forced a path for themselves as they approached their recruiter.

"Mr. Katarn!" Kares yelled, waving his hand. "Spare a moment?"

Soviet Heavy:

"Do not worry Commander, I am focused on our mission. But should I see any clones that need support down there while closing in on the targets, I will. Droids can be replaced, our elites are much harder to come by and infinitely more expensive to produce, a veteran even more difficult to obtain. We will need all of our possible strength to destroy both Thrawn and the Jedi."

He looked down at the man then,"We are the true heirs to this galaxy.The Republic and the Empire will know that before this is done."

He went back to watching the loading procession,"Beautiful isn't it? The sheer number of both men and machine, both sent into battle together for Scorekeeper to watch and count. She will be pleased with more than one of us soon."

He inhaled the scents of the loading bay, the metal,the plastics, the sweat, and the multitude of other scents that co-mingled to create one of the few atmosphere's he reveled in. The only thing that would make this experience better would be a warm sun glinting off of his scales, he loved the moment before a battle.


Kyle heard Kares before he saw him, and he turned to face the pair. "I hope you can make this quick, we've just gotten word that the Empire is mobilizing. It's a long jump to Mon Calamari, so we've got to move quick as we can to get there before they do. What do you need?"

Soviet Heavy:

"It'll only take a minute, sir." Kares told him. He looked around, and ensured that no one was within earshot, at least with all the hum-drum of the mobilizing troops around them. "I just wanted to... clear a few things up. My partner and I are dedicated to the job, my record can back that up. But... these mercs you've hired; are they really gonna stand up to Imperial troops?"

"Don't worry the man." Vic told his partner, back faced to them as he kept prying eyes away from the goings-on behind him.

Kares sighed, and tried to elaborate. "I'm not scared, Mr. Katarn. Not for myself; but for these guys, I just might be. You're sending Jedi, right? 'Cause we need all the help we can get if these boys are taking on Stormtroopers."


Soviet Heavy:

"It'll only take a minute, sir." Kares told him. He looked around, and ensured that no one was within earshot, at least with all the hum-drum of the mobilizing troops around them. "I just wanted to... clear a few things up. My partner and I are dedicated to the job, my record can back that up. But... these mercs you've hired; are they really gonna stand up to Imperial troops?"

"Don't worry the man." Vic told his partner, back faced to them as he kept prying eyes away from the goings-on behind him.

Kares sighed, and tried to elaborate. "I'm not scared, Mr. Katarn. Not for myself; but for these guys, I just might be. You're sending Jedi, right? 'Cause we need all the help we can get if these boys are taking on Stormtroopers."

"I did manage to scramble up a few Jedi. They'll be the group leaders for this mission. The Imps might have us outnumbered here, but we've got a few tricks up our sleeves to keep you boys safe. And if all else fails, I've got this." Kyle smiled, pulling out a modified Bryar pistol. It looked more like a stripped down Shotgun than a pistol.

"It's not much, but this baby has kept me alive longer than a laser sword. I wouldn't go anywhere without it. That's the point, trust your gear, keep your head down, and we all come out of this alive, alright?"

Soviet Heavy:


Getting shot at. Running away from gangsters. Sneaking into a space port. Firing a turboblaster. These new things were so alien to Julia, yet it was nothing compared to what she went through in the last three months. Going from sheltered pet human to a runaway drug dealer. She will have more time to dwell on her new possibilities later with her strange new conpanion later, but not it was time to shoot at one of the ships and so she did.

A few moments afterwards an alarm was heard to alert the port's fire-fighting drones and evacuate the area. The ship raised itself up and flew away from the port almost unnoticed.

"I didn't catch your name", Julia told the pilot after she had left the firing silo and entered the cockpit.

Soviet Heavy:

Kares grinned and nodded, examining the unique pistol that Kyle was holding in his hand. You wouldn't expect something that worn to even be capable of firing. Kares figured that little gun of his must have been one of the best blasters in the entire galaxy if he still kept it by his side like that. He felt better knowing that Katarn was confident about the mission; you don't question a man like him. Not about things like this.

"Absolutely, sir." Octavian affirmed. "Just point me to my shuttle and we're sailing."


Sarik, Nar Shaddaa Airspace
"The name's Sarik, pleased to meet you." he said, angling the large assault shuttle away from the chaos. He didn't say anything else until they are a good distance from the burning docks. Sarik set the shuttle down at a commercial spaceport, much larger and less well kept than Gasanda's private pads.

"I suppose I owe you an explanation." he started. "It isn't just the spices that would have got you in trouble. It's the other thing you're carrying in there. I've seen it before. Give it to me."

Sarik reached into the case, and pulled out a small silver shard, with six spines attached to the shaft. "Do you know what this is? It's a data crystal. A very old type of data crystal, used by the Jedi. The last time I saw one of these, it was back in the Clone Wars, when I was little. These things I think were used to store the location of hidden Jedi and Sith relics, to keep them hidden from those who'd want to exploit them. You see what I'm getting at here? If the Sith Ascendants got their hands on this, then it could mean game over for the Republic and the Empire. Whatever, they can rot for all I care.

"But what I do care about is Hutt Space, and I'm sure you do too. Without the Empire and Republic acting as a buffer, the Ascendants could overrun Hutt Space while the crime bosses and the council continue to tear each other apart. We're strong, no doubt, but not strong enough to fight two wars at once. This data crystal is dangerous. More than your spices are worth."


"Glad to see you're still interested then." he said, patting Kares on the back. "Got a seat yet? I've got room for a couple more on the Raven's Claw. Mostly SpecForce troops, but from the looks of things with your kit, you'll fit right in. Hop in the cargo module in the back, and we'll be off."

Katarn took them to the Raven's Claw. The light courier ship had been attached to a modular troop compartment that sat connected to the underbelly of the hull. It was filled with a dozen SpecForce troops, their faces covered save for the eyes, wearing matching black armor with the Rebel Star Phoenix emblazoned across their shoulder pads.

"It'll be about thirteen hours hyperspace flight to the Mon Cal system if we take the hyperlanes. Get some shuteye till we get there." said Kyle, closing the compartment behind them. Speaking to the dock official, he confirmed everyone was ready and loaded. The small fleet of transports, gunships and freighters took off around him. He hauled himself into the cabin next to Jan.

He eyed her up jokingly. "You look good in SpecForce gear. How come you never let me see you in it before?"

She stared sarcastically at him. "Well, I would have, but then you had to take the whole warrior monk thing, so I figured you'd lose interest. Plus we didn't have anyone shooting at us then."

Kyle smiled, shaking his head. The Raven's Claw lifted off, shooting to the head of the collection of ships. Reaching Coruscant's outer atmosphere, they prepared for the final launch sequences.

"Alright, coordinates locked in, buckle up back there boys, mind the bump. Jumping in three, two, one. Jump."

The stars burned lines, and they were off.

Rez Tereth and Dax Urr walked towards the docking bay with the small crowd of mercenaries that were taking their leave. They climbed aboard their ship, the Lance and began to brief the crew. The Lance was an old Nu Attack Shuttle that had been abandoned, refurbished, repainted, and resold after the Clone Wars. As a re purposed military shuttle, it was perfect for a mercenary crew.

"So we're working for the Empire now?" a crew member asked.

"Yes, at least for the time being. It was the best way to get us off the wanted lists. And you all know we couldn't have lived on those small time mid-rim contracts."

"It was these assholes that ruined the outer-rim in the first place!" chimed in another merc.

"Plus, even if they win, how do we know they wont just arrest us then?" said another.

Dax Let out a commanding tone of Ryn language and they became quiet.

"This is the best decision for now," Rez stated with his authoritative voice. "If you don't like it then you can leave, but are any of you honestly going to tell me you don't trust my leadership anymore?"

That truly brought it into perspective. If there was one man they owed anything to It was Rez. To leave him now would be betrayal, of him, and themselves. They followed him, and they knew it.

"Then, lets figure out where Caster is."

With that, the Lance took off towards the inner rim.

"The first thing he would want to do is find security. He would contact people like us." Said a Keed merc.

"No," Rez responded. "That wont help. All the people he would have contacted would have also been on the imperials' list, which mean they would be looking for him now, so they wont help us even if they had information."

Dax spoke again in Ryn.

"That's true." Rez said. "If he couldn't get protection, what he would need would be insurance.....where would he go to get information he could use against Thrawn?"

"He wouldn't do it before he fled," a mandalorian spoke up. "The activity would have been flagged by the empire. But he would still need to go somewhere with imperial databanks if he wanted anything of real worth."

"Bring up a map of imperial placements in the sector." a Samuac merc commanded to the on-board computer.

"Vorir-Obroa-skai." Rez declared before the map was pulled up. "That's were he went."

Dax Urr set course for the planet and then they jumped to hyper speed.



Captain Pirate:


Drokath walked in to the cantina where the Jedi stayed, he was hoping that his plant would arrive soon, until then, he had to make small talk. He walked in with a semi smile on his face and conversed with the fellow patrons of the bar,

"Hey, I am in need of some help, I was told to come here, are there any Jedi around?"

The patrons seemed confused, they obviously knew very little of Jedi presence here, a few strangers left the bar probably afraid of the Jedi he had alluded to earlier. Droakath walked up to a man that looked semi catlike, calm, he could feel the force in him, he found his Jedi.

"Excuse me, but have you seen a Jedi here? I have been marooned here for a while and need some help, a few kind fellows told me that two Jedi were staying here and that I might be able to ask their help. I am a trader bringing water across the desert you see, and the raiders shot down my speeder as I was attempting to deliver water to the nearby city. I would use my ship but that got hit by raiders, bad day huh? I can carry the water myself, but I need some protection, there is money in it for you if that is what you would like."


Katarn, Mon Calamari
The thirteen hour journey passed unnoticed by the fleet of mercenaries. Kyle opened his eyes from the slumber to take in the view. It was quite impressive. The New Republic 2nd Fleet stood at attention, guarding the approach to the space docks. Nearly a hundred capital ships comprised the fleet, a myriad of different models that was the signature of the New Republic's founding as multiple resistance cells. Captured Star Destroyers sat alongside the more rounded MC80s that had formed the bulk of the Alliances heavy warships during the Galactic Civil War. But they weren't what caught Katarn's eye.

A newer looking Mon Cal cruiser, just as long as an MC80 but far broader and darker colored was amongst the fleet. The MC90 was the newest vessel in the fleet, and they allegedly carried the firepower to match an Imperial II Star Destroyer shot for shot. With even a handful of the powerhouses on their side, Katarn felt their chances of victory going up already. He commed the troop module.

"Wakey wakey boys, we're here. Looks like we've got a welcoming party, so let's not keep'em waiting." Kyle looked over to Jan. She was already contacting the orbital docks and locking in a landing course. The massive skeletal frames of the construction bays tapered out from the center of the station. The Raven's Claw lowered down inside the main hangar, followed by four other mercenary ships. The rest set a course for their respective targets.

The troop module detached, opening up. The SpecForce team hustled to the positions already being set up in the Hangar. A collection of Republic troops and Mon Calamari and Quarren security personnel were establishing frontline defenses for the Hangar. This would be the first place the Remnant would hit, and it needed to be well protected. closer to the energy barrier, teams were setting mines and explosives to dissuade the assault transports from landing.

"Kyle, hey kyle!" someone shouted. Behind him, another Jedi was closing the distance. Kurt Morian, a younger fellow, was Kyle's second Jedi assigned to their particular station. "Glad I caught you," he said, panting. "I just got done talking to the chief security officer. Looks like they plan to abandon the hangar as soon as possible to draw the Imps into the corridors where we can catch them in a crossfire. What did you need me to do?"

"Just sit tight and keep your mercs from panicking. Neither of us are really cut out for leadership roles, but a lightsaber might be the only thing keeping some of these guys in line. No need for a bunch of cowards trying to run through a firefight and disrupting the defenses to make a break for it."

"Got it," Kurt said eagerly. He jogged off before catching himself. "May the Force be with you, Kyle."

"Yeah yeah, all the final goodbyes." said Kyle, feigning solemnity. "Come on, keep a little optimism, we'll be fine!"

Kares and Vic were standing around as the hubbub continued. "Well boys, you coming or what? These barricades won't build themselves!"

Mortis Nuncius:

The White King was hard to find, but Caster finally found the place. It was well disguised. On the outside, the exterior walls were dilapidated and rundown, much like the rest of the district. But one inside, the facade dropped to reveal a well kept operations room. Caster felt the blaster pressed against his temple the moment he entered the room.

"State your business thief." the security officer demanded. "What are you doing here?"

Caster smiled. "I am here to see him."

"Who? Give me an answer or I shoot."

"Why, the Whit King of course."

That got the man's attention. Caster's grin grew larger as the man's eyes widened and he stepped back. "Of, of course," the guard stammered. "Follow me." he motioned towards the room on the opposite end of the chamber.

Inside, it was dark. A shadowy figure sat behind a desk, his face kept hidden under a hood and mask, bathed in the shadows. "Welcome, Black King. I see that you managed to escape Coruscant. Did your plan go as expected?"

"In a manner of speaking. The New Republic thinks I am dead from the assassination, but Thrawn's intervention meant that they couldn't retrieve the body. That may be a boon on one end, but I doubt the replica droid fooled Thrawn for very long. Anti Republic dissidents are encouraged, but again for different reasons than I hoped. It seems as though everything I planned has come to fruition by no effort of mine alone."

"I see," said the White King slowly. "The Sith Ascendants are doing our job for us. The other kings have given me similar reports. Why did you seek me personally, rather than go through the regular channels?"

"I had to flee Coruscant, as you know. Thrawn has most likely sent bounty hunters after me, so I came here. Even under his orders, they will have trouble with the Imperial customs. But that wasn't the main reason. Thrawn himself is my problem. Unlike the Ascendants and the New Republic, he's unpredictable. I had to know more about him, hence my choice of perusing the archives. It is fascinating how much information one can acquire if they know where to look, isn't it?"

"Indeed. So you came here to find information on Thrawn? To find out how he thinks?"

"How he thinks, how he reacts, how he fights. I need to know everything if I hope to stand a chance against him. This cloak and dagger action can only go so far. Once the fight dies down and I can confront him publicly, I will need all my wits about me."

"There must be some other reason you came to me." said the White King impassively. "What do you need of the Imperial Lords?"

"I need time, and I need distractions." said Caster. "So far, I am the only figure that Thrawn appears to know about. The rest of the Lords are still safe, so long as they do not come under his gaze. Domerius forced my hand. I fear his little racketeering scam cost me more than I imagined it would. If the plan is to go ahead as we discussed, the Kings will need to move their pawns as one. Mass confusion with now root cause to allow us to move more freely. Whatever it takes to find it."

"What you are asking could put us all at risk, Caster. You are a chess master, but such a game involves two players only. Bringing more into the fray will only make things more difficult." The White king sighed. "I'll see what I can do. The others are still searching for it as well, but if I can give you what you need, I will see it done."

"Thank you, my friend." said Caster. "Once I can establish myself somewhere safer, I will return to the old channels. To the glory of the Imperial Lords."

Caster stood up and exited the room. The operations room was dark, with only the lights of the console panels still running. Caster sighed, and raised his arms in exasperation.

"Well?" he said, "What will you do, now that you know the truth? Would you really kill your client, Subject 37?"

The shadows moved like a snake as the Clawdite's skin shifted from the coal black to the species' regular scaly green.

After coming out of hyper space, the crew of the Lance was held up for almost an hour while they proved they had clearance to land. When they finally touched down, there were stormtroopers everywhere. Rez and two other mercs showed a hologram of Castor to the docking bay security and told them to alert the crew if he was sighted. He probably had a private launch pad somewhere, but it never hurt to be careful.

Rez split up the crew in small groups and sent them to scour the city. Rez himself, a Rodian merc named Taroo, a Vodran named Nexris, and a Klatooinian named Rastus grouped up and went in search of their target.

They rented a pair of speeders and asked around without much luck.

"We'll check the poor district next." Rez decided when they stopped to rest.

"Wouldn't a fancy prick like Caster stay in the rich part of town?" Rastus asked.

"He would draw attention to himself if he kept up his high status." Rez said definitively.

The four of them re-mounted their speeders and headed out.

When they stopped in the poor district, they again spread out and began asking questions and showing Caster's hologram. It only took 30 minutes to get a lead.

"Yeah that's him." A malnourished human said. "I remember him cause he was way too clean and nice lookin' for this place. He went that way. So, uh, about those credits...?"

Taroo tossed the man an old credit chip and the group moved out.

They went down the street indicated by the human and began scanning the nearby buildings for anything unusual.

"Hey, boss!" Nexris called out. "I got something here!"

The group converged on the Vodran and looked at his scanner. The building to his right was giving heavy interference. Most likely some kind of jammer that was intended to be used against orbital scanning, and thus configured in a way that caused noticeable interference on portable scanners. They didn't expect anyone to be looking so closely.

Rez got down to business. "Taroo, you cover the left side, Nexris the right, and Rastus the back, and notify imperial security."

"They'll be here in 15 minutes Rez." Rastus replied after sending a short message.

"Take your positons." Rez ordered.

The group surrounded the building and Rez drew his blasters. He knocked on the front door forcefully and took a ready position.

"I'm here on Imperial Business! Anyone inside needs to come out with your hands up and your faces showing!" He called out as his heart rate slowed in preparation.

Soviet Heavy:


Julia's heart sank. Holding such an important artifact would surely cause unwanted attention. She could not settle down nor risk losing it. "Then I keep on the run... Or I pass it off to the Jedi". Julia had to consider her options. These relics were potentially lethal and could tip the balance of the fighting.

"Hey-", Julia began talking and moved closer to Sarik "Listen", she grunted in his native tongue, she continued i basic- "These things are sought after by both Jedi and Sith... We can profit from this venture. But we first need to read this".

She held the crystal in her hand and tried to size it up. "But they will try and steal it from us. Nobody plays fair. We would need a bargaining chip if we want to sell this to the New Republic... Do you want to find out what these relics can do?".

Several tings resonated as the detonator bounced towards the guards. The explosion annihilated the guards freeing the way, but Gasanda had already made good his escape thanks to a large door and his hoverpad. "Damn him, damn his fat space crushing..... I won't fail".
Nova dashed into one of the side rooms the guards had emerged from. If she could make it to the back of the building, they're would maybe one more chance to get him, but only one.


Sarik sighed. "Well, there's another problem. Usually only the Jedi have the proper scanning devices that can read these data crystals. We'd have to break into one of their temples to use it. And simply asking them kinda denies us our bargaining power, doesn't it? Luckily, I know who has the information. Thing is, he's rather hard to find."

The shuttle shot out of Nar Shaddaa's atmosphere. What they were about to do was suicide. The warships would probably blast them out of vacuum if they made a wrong move. "Daekaris lives the inner regions of the Hutt Territory. He's a Gray Jedi, one of those wandering gypsy types that doesn't follow the Order. He's the one who told me about these crystals when I was younger. Lucky bastard managed to survive Order 66 thanks to his location. Nobody is stupid enough to attack where we're going. We're heading for Bootana Hutta, the Gardens. We'll find him on Kor Desilijic. Maybe we'll also run into our mutual friend Gregori while we're there. Word between the clans is that he headed for the Desilijic Throneworld to escape retribution from the Vosadii Clans. First stop is Mulatan, however. If we get there fast enough, we could slip past the border patrols before they hear about the Gasanda hit and the Vosadii clan goes berserk."

Hutt Space was incredibly fortified. Getting in and out was a war of attrition compared to standard customs. However like any well protected region, there was always a backdoor to slip inside. Sarik punched in the coordinates for Mulatan, launching the shuttle into hyperspace.

Soviet Heavy:

Kares and Vic started in surprise, realizing that they were needed to get to work immediately. Although their armor provided some small encumbrance, they found that it was still easy enough to perform manual labor. In a matter of minutes the two found themselves as part of two separate teams setting up barricades and booby-traps for any unlucky Imperial borders. As the hour for battle drew closer, they found their hearts sinking. No amount of preparation and psyching themselves out could prepare them for fighting the Imperial military head-on.

Soviet Heavy:


Julia watched Sarik expertly maneuver the ship through the Hutt space and directly into their next destination. The desolate planet did not boast a large population nor an interesting oddity. It simply was, as all planets in the vicinity, a home for one of the larger clans of the Hutts.

A call for establishment of communications was made. Before they could dock in the world's sole space port, they were asked to identify themselves. "Sarik, open channels", Julia commanded him. "...I repeat, show your documentation of invitation and identification...", a sound was heard in common through the chat. It seemed to be the one of a Vodran.

"We need no stinking permission", Julia replied in Huttese, "We are here to do business with locals, not visiting the palace". "Wait", it replied, "Who are you?". "Julius Desilijic of the Desilijic Kajidic", Julia answered in Huttese but she didn't hear a response from the other end. After a long pause it replied in Huttese, "Have good business".

Sarik moved the ship and docked it into one of the many public areas. "Where is that man?", Julia asked Sarik as they disembarked from the ship and entered the planet, the busy space port enveloping the two with noise.

Soviet Heavy:

Viking Incognito:

Obroa-skai Slums
"Kill?" Vorir asked, almost scoffing at the idea. "No, that would be neither dignifying for you, nor beneficial for me. However, before I can come to any decision as to what to do about this whole predicament, I'm going to need information from you. A great deal of it, too. If you think keeping to yourself is your insurance policy, you're terribly mistaken. I'll have no reason to kill you unless you give me a reason, and that information is coming out of you whether it be by my doing or -" Vorir was quickly cut short as there was a loud knocking at the door of the building.

"Well, it appears they've arrived sooner than I had expected," the Clawdite muttered to himself, carefully plotting his next course of action. Turning to Caster and ensuring the man understood every word, he began outlining his plan, "I've rigged these doors with concussive charges armed by a secondary remote detonator. We're going to be leaving through the west entrance and - how good is your cardio?"

Caster barely started a word before Vorir interrupted, "No matter, you'll keep up or die. Better yet, you're going to be up front. Once you're out, don't stop running until you find something that'll get us out of here fast. We'll work out the details from there, but now it's time to move."

Wasting no time, the assassin grabbed Caster by his collar and pulled him towards the western section of the building. He pressed a button on his utility belt and all the charges detonated simultaneously, sending a incapacitating, concussive blast that radiated ten meters from the doorframes outward. Almost immediately after the blast, the man and the Clawdite burst out of the doorway with great speed. Caster was a little discombobulated himself, though he managed to keep upright and running. Vorir ran past a Rodian mercenary who had been pushed backward and rested atop a trash compactor. Before the merc could even raise his blaster, Vorir drew his Tenloss DX-2 disruptor pistol and made him a smoldering pile of ash. In less than five seconds, the man and Clawdite were darting through the tight alleyways of the local slums.

"Here!" Caster called out as he dashed across a main road and threw himself into a run-down Sorosuub XP-291 skimmer that even had the roof completely removed.

"Not exactly intact, but it'll do," said Vorir as he climbed in after Caster, who quickly ignited the skimmer's engine and sped them down the road. The Clawdite was on full alert and kept watch for any pursuers, unslinging his scoped DXR-6 disruptor rifle and keeping it at the ready. "Just keep heading to the nearest port, don't let up on that accelerator."

Mortis Nuncius:

"You have no idea how important it is that we find the location I was discussing!" said Caster over the whine of the engines. "It is the key to the Lords' objective. Whoever finds it could potentially tip the balance to their favor my a massive margin!"


Kor Desilijic
"He should be somewhere in the hinterlands outside the starport." said Sarik. I'm still surprised we made it past the blockade at Mulatan. Guess word doesn't travel as fast as I feared. By the way, for a human, you do a very good impression of a Hutt."

The two traversed their way through the starport and into the surrounding town. For such an important planet, the dismal village did little to impress Sarik. He figured the Desilijics probably had their own luxurious palaces somewhere nicer on the planet, leaving the small communities in poverty while they flaunted their wealth.

They found a small speeder rental service, and leased a four seater with a hidden storage compartment for the spices. Setting out from the town's outskirts into the moorlands, Sarik kept glancing at Julia. She had a fire in her eyes that matched the intensity of her hair. He had the feeling that, despite his charity, she was still holding something from him. He decided to ask.

"So, I've been wondering. What do you plan to do after Gregori's dead? Did you have some place to go, any ideas for the future? And for that matter, what do you plan to do once Daekaris tells us what the crystal holds?"


Mon Calamari Shipyards
"Hey, get a bite to eat, and take these." said Katarn, vaulting over the barricade. He offered Kares and Vic each a tablet. "The stims will help you keep your endurance up, but there's no sense fighting on an empty stomach. As long as the Fleet can keep the bigger ships off our back, we should be able to hold. And you know the drill: first sign that the hangar's are being overwhelmed, we draw them into the hallways and catch them at the intersections."
He patted Vic encouragingly. "Come on, it isn't as bad as it looks. Like I said, as long as I have my little pistol here, we're golden. Don't stay all gloomy on me. We'll make it through this, and we all go home heroes, got it?"


Poseidenna System, Calamari Sector
"Commodore, the fleets are assembled." said the ensign. "We have an incoming message from Captain Pellaeon. He is relaying a command from Admiral Thrawn himself sir!"

The message played on the holoscreen. "Commodore, the time has come. Mobilize the fleet, and launch for Mon Calamari. Permission to engage on sight has been approved. Emperor be with you, Commodore."

Over one hundred Imperial Star Destroyers and countless support ships lay poised to launch. The final countdown to a hyperspace launch to the neighboring Mon Calamari star system was imminent.



Calamari System, Binary Star

Deep in Calamari space, the Liberator lay in the empty void between the system's binary stars. The magnetic forces of the two stars played havoc with sensors, rendering the ship blind to enemy scanners. It also had the negative side effect of doing the same to the ship's onboard computers. However, Commander Coric had been assured that this was a non issue. The Sith could guide the ship by their minds alone, reaching out to study the enemy while remaining invisible.

Grissk and the Queen were on the bridge, starting out into the empty space. They were waiting for the battle to begin, waiting for the right moment to apply pressure to a weak point, and break the opposing fleets as one. Coric had taken the liberty of assembling the Legion in the hangar; troop transports were ready to ferry the clones down to the planet's surface and subjugate the civilian population while the Empire and Republic tore themselves apart in orbit.

"My lord and lady," he said, kneeling before them. "I have assembled the troops, and we are awaiting the order to commence the operation. The droid modules have been loaded into the dispersal cannons, and are ready to be fired as soon as we enter Mon Calamari's atmosphere. All systems are ready for launch, we await your orders."


Captain Pirate:

Nal Hutta Swamplands
Tarr came slurping out of the muck of the swamp, covered head to toe in slime and mud, with a look of utter exhaustion and disappointment on his face. Delras Zex lay on a folding chair with his four arms crossed behind his back, bathing in the pale but warm light of the sun.

"Well Zex, it's trashed. The Temmick is a bust, but I think the Nexu can be salvaged." Tarr threw his hands up in defeat. "Ten years I have that ship, ten years of constantly replacing parts and fixing up new breaks, and it dies in a swamp. Do you know how that feels? That ship was my home basically. Ten years fixing it up, and it ends like this. I, I don't know how to feel right now."

Tarr threw himself in the chair beside Zex. "Two weeks looking for that damn hutt, and nothing. I mean, we had everything leading us to him! The psychometry, all the tips in town, and then the whole damn thing leads us to a droid bomb. What kind of justice is that? I just spent the last month getting shot at by Jedi, shot at by mercs, tractor beamed by a guy who might I mention was the only one to properly pay either of us, almost shot out of the sky again, crashed into you, and slammed into a kriffing swamp! Where's the justice in any of this? We're pretty much stuck watching the galaxy go by from the sidelines while everything else moves around us! And now the Vosadii will be coming along, looking to collect their down payment, since we don't have Jaralla. And for all my luck, Gasanda's probably dead!"

Zex merely grunted, and continued to sunbathe, mostly ignoring Tarr's depressed rantings.

Soviet Heavy:

Grissk reached out with his mind, and felt the massive amounts of clones in the fleet. He could faintly feel the approaching fleets of the Empire and the Republic, but not separate the hundreds of thousands of men within each ship. The time was drawing closer and closer and the chaos that would ensue once more made him quiver with anticipation.

He nodded his head at the Commander, bidding him stand but deferring to the orders of his Queen should she decide to keep him kneeling. He did not completely understand this bowing and scraping each and every one of these members of the Ascendants practiced, though he understood the need for power and dominance, that he was most familiar with.

He was dressed in his combat armor, the gray chestplate designed to deflect any blaster fire that got through his saber, the rest of it giving him minor protection but full mobility. He wore his lightsaber in the small of his back, easily accessible to him, but hidden from anyone not standing behind him. He refused to keep calm inwardly, that was the way of the Jedi, not the Sith, instead he held his hands behind his back, slightly clenching them.

"Are we prepared, my Queen? Give the order and I will engage our foes with the vengeance of a thousand suns."

Soviet Heavy:

Before Vic could interject, his friend had already dashed off to the mess hall to grab some food and bring it back for them to eat out in the hangar. The Imperial fleet would be coming, and soon; no sense in leaving the battlefield moments before the charge. That left Vic with Kyle, and the former Imperial had no choice but to smile and nod at Kyle's encouragement. It wasn't that he was unhappy, so much as smiling wasn't a thing he did often. If they survived this battle, he planned to smile. The day some special woman agreed to marry him, he planned to smile. The day his first child was born, he planned to smile.

Being told that his best chance at surviving an onslaught unlike any he'd ever even dreamt of was a glorified boomstick was not something to smile about.

"Yeah." he said, agreeing with Kyle. "Heroes. Do you know if mercs can get medals?"

Before the Jedi could answer him, Kares had returned with three wraps of some kind of meat. He handed one to Vic, and offered the second to Kyle before downing the last one himself. A white dressing slid down the side of his mouth as he and his partner ate as quickly as they could. That was very fast, indeed; about twenty disturbing seconds later, all traces of the food were gone, even the sauce wiped from the Devaronian's lip. They took the tablets at well, figuring they might as well be fully prepared.

With the hectic eating dying down, the both of them felt an uneasy silence starting to fall over the hangar, and themselves. People were shutting up and getting ready; as scared as they were, they all realized what was about to happen, and that their only hope was to dig in as best they could. Kares patted Katarn on the shoulder and wished him luck as Vic picked out a vantage point for them. With a hand to help him up, Kares was pulled to the top of a loading crate, with a slightly higher one in front of them as cover. They could make out the whole hangar from this position, and select targets to blast. Kares drew both of his blasters, and Vic rubbed his E-11 with a small rag. Nothing was left but to wait, and watch; so the pair did exactly that.

Soviet Heavy:

Delras sat up after Tarr had a break in his rant.
"Well, if they find us, we'll just have to return the down payment. And there's always a space for you in the Nexu Eyes. And if we're interested in getting paid properly, I think the only real option is to get involved in this war.... Unfortunately enough, these Sith fellas are probably going to drag everyone they can into it, it's not like there will be neutral space anywhere for much longer." He said, a reluctant expression now on his usually cheerful face.
"You remember the Clone Wars? I do. I was barely into the business back then, but I tried this tactic... staying out of the war, dealing with neutral parties. There were practically none, and they barely paid. Took a year before I realised where the big money is... in getting involved. Cad Bane, one of many who truly knew his salt. You think of him in the Clone Wars, hell, you think of him now, you picture him as one of the Emperor's boys. He was in the big money, taking sides..."

Delras stood up, and made his way to the Nexu Eyes, which was only partly submerged in the swamp, and even then it was facing engines down, meaning Delras could possibly use them to fly it out of the swamp. Before he jumped in the cockpit, he turned back to Tarr.
"You coming?"


Captain Pirate:

Hann had only just got back to the cantina when he saw a Zabrak, slightly older than Hann himself, approaching Xyras. He held back near the entrance, not wanting to draw too much attention to himself. He could hear slight bits of what the person was saying over the band he was nearby.

"...marooned Jedi were ask their help...trader bringing water across the desert...raiders shot down my speeder...nearby city...can carry the water you if that is what you would like."

He'd wait until his master had responded to get a better picture but Hann guessed that the Zabrak was asking Xyras for help with delivering water from the moisture farms. It was true that many of the delivery routes were dangerous; Tuskens (or Sand People as many referred to them) hid along the canyons and dunes that had to be passed through.

Looking around the room, he couldn't see anything too suspicious but still the dark presence lingered.

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