Log:Alderaan: Job Opening
The planet Desevro was prominent on the galactic stage, once. A century-long war with the nascent Republic dozens of millennia ago had left one power poised to dominate the galaxy, and the other a broken civilization, doomed to fade.
The Thirty-seven noble families of Desevro were among the oldest lines of nobility in Human history- at least the few that still survived- but the world was unimpressive on approach.
A rusty, oily brownish-grey on approach, the atmosphere was intact enough that wisps of white cloud streaked the sphere from orbit. The kindest that could be said of it was that millenia of irrelevance had allowed the worst of archaic pollution to clear up.
Ek-shiik guided the Broadstar to follow a series of ancient beacons that once guided heavy star traffic, but following now was more a courtesy than a necessity. No civilian ship larger than a light freighter appeared on scopes, and those were few. The only ship of any significance was a Vindicator-class heavy cruiser in geosynchronous orbit above a particular point on the planet, below. To no surprise, Ek-shiik points out, "The Tiatov Maximum Security holding facility is built on an island below that big Hutt-sucker. They bought up an island from some local, leveled everything and built their private little prison laboratory." He looks to Aryn. How you want me to approach this?"
"Open a comms channel." Aryn says after emerging from her trance to look out their view and see the old world and track their approach. "I will negotiate an audience at the facility. Once you land, and I disembark, leave and await the transponder to signal. Our means of evacuation may not be.. conventional, but we shall see."
Aryn takes hold of the emotionless mask and places it over her face. It makes a seal, the subtle sound of breathing as its eyes, void slits, offer nothing of comfort when one looks upon them. Aryn's voice emits from the mask itself, slightly modified, and some how, possessing a sharper edge.
For all intents and purposes, the girl he had seen in the jungles of Rodia was gone in this instant, and before him sat a Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Kalus.
<<"Tiatov Maximum Security, I am a harbinger of the Sith Empire, the Darth Kalus. Reports from our vast intelligence agency indicate a prisoner of significant importance to our operations. I demand an audience with the administrator of this facility, and request a landing pad so that I may speak with them in person.">>
"I hear you," Darstan acknowledges the instructions.
By strict protocol, approaching such a secured facility should be outright denied without scheduled approval. However, confronted with a scenario FAR above their lay grade, the comms officer at Tiatov is silent a long moment, answers, <<Please stand by,>> directs a trio of TIE fighters to intercept and monitor the unscheduled Broadstar, and hastily summons their superiors.
The Dark Lord is left for an unseemly three minutes, as the is inflexible machinery of blind obedience must struggle and grind to adapt. All throughout, Ek-shiik focuses his attention on the TIEs, the facility itself- a glossy, monolithic black spire, circled by seven smaller tower-spikes- which draws slowly closer.. anything to avoid the sight of who sits where Aryn had been, moments before.
At long last, the comm crackles live, and a different voice states, << Unidentified transport: you are approved for conditional landing on pad Kappa. Lower shields and prepare for inspection upon arrival. >>
"Proceed with the landing, master Darstan. Rest assured, no one save me will set foot upon your vessel." Kalus says firmly, her gloved hands clasped over her lap in patient review of their situation.
<<"The Empire appreciates your cooperation. I will be greeted by the Administrator upon arrival.">> The comm cuts, and the incoming prompt provides the respective coordinates to their landing zone. Kalus rises silently from her seat, drawing up the hood to hide her restrained blonde hair and eliminate any trace of the young woman that resided beneath the vestments and lifeless face.
Kalus's foot falls were distinct in the silence that ensued, heavy upon the durasteel plated deck until she paused at the ramp, waiting for the craft to rotate and the ramp to open. Her cape was lifted from her right, cast over her shoulder to present her right arm and the presence of an obsidian curved hilt on her hip. The hungry pulse of a violet hued button blinked slowly on and off, seemingly eager to be activated to have its thirst for blood quenched. (edited)
Ek-shiik nods once to the assurance before his brows knit in a mild frown. "We're getting new landing instructions.. landing directly at Tower Alpha, now." The demand to be greeted by the Administrator personally has led to a further bypass of security protocols, as the head of the facility wasn't willing to hustle across the entire facility for the sake of 'security concerns'.
Guided by illuminated tracers built into the facing of the tower itself, followed by suspicious TIEs and tracked by defensive turrets, the Broadstar at last came to rest within a well appointed docking bay. There are fixed riot control turrets at the corners of the hexagonal chamber, along with the droids and machinery needed to fuel and service prisoner transports or VIP shuttles.
The open air of Desevro at their stern was tinted orange with the dull red light of the system's star, for the moments before a ray shield closes off the atmosphere.
A party of troopers is present in formation. A dozen strong in blue and black armor, ornate blaster rifles shouldered and standing at attention to either side of a figure in a resplendent blue and gold uniform that is more fashionable than militant. The middle aged administrator stands with a kerchief held over his nose and mouth until the air circulation systems have purged the decaying stench of the swamps outside from the pristine inner air. When the common little freighter's ramp lowers, the administrator lowers the kerchief revealing a habitually smug smile.
The smile falters subtly as Darth Kalus begins walking down the ramp, and while concentrated effort keeps an echo of the pleasant expression on his face, the Dark Lord's approach has driven the assurance from his eyes.
Notably, the troopers are deployed as guards, rather than in columns to honor a notable guest.
There is no ceremony in the Dark Lord's approach. Aryn had learned the meaning of presence from watching her husband's command. Urgency commanded attention, and Darth Kalus embodied this with every step forward. Without missing a beat, the Dark Lord raises her hand, commanding through the force that the ramp which had lowered to allow her exit was now forced shut.
The tension ticking against the hydraulic components that allowed for a slow ramp descent now protested as the ramp was brought up and locked. Any light that had trailed Kalus's wake was closed off in that instant, and the heat that followed from the increased output of the ventral thrusters set to disrupting the air around them, stirring capes and sending dust in every direction. It was, in its own way, a moment of chaos.
Despite the show of guard force, despite the auspicious display of arsenal weaponry and dormant defenses, the chaos of stirring dust and noise of engines, Darth Kalus's focus never wavered from the Administrator, and she arrived before him, and then walked passed him. <"I would see the manifest of recently captured prisoners, Administrator."> Pausing briefly to look back at him through the void slits that posed as eyes, she glared, her voice changing from a casual command, to something darker and sharper.
The administrator discreetly swallows once (not as discreet as he thought), as Kalus approached, starting to greet, "Darth-" but the slight, ominous figure walked straight past him. "d-Darth? Ah, a manifest of recently captured -" was echoed dumbly as the bureaucrat hastened to follow the Sith into the spire, proper. As the doors hissed open and the pressure normalized it was clear that this level was a ring of seperate hexagonal landing bays, surrounding an open chamber surrounding a central shaft of six clustered turbolifts. Moving in step behind and flanking the man in blue, the Santhe-Sienar troopers moved along with the pair, as a pretty young clerk who had been waiting outside the landing bay hastened to catch up to the administrator, clutching a datapad.
Deprived of the flex of introducing himself, the babbling bureaucrat was saying, "P-perhaps if the Dark Lord would be more specific? As to any particular prisoner, or.. perhaps a more precise timetable, I might be of better assistance? I would remind milord that we process a great number of degenerates at this facility, and -"
Darth Kalus pauses and turns to face the administrator. His explanation for her to specify her orders is met with an uncomfortable silence. Entourage and all are given respite enough to catch up with them, and the young clerk finds a heavy, void gaze settling on them a moment before attention rests solely upon the Administrator.
When it seems an eternity has passed since he trailed off (though honestly only a few, painful seconds), Kalus's voice returns. <"I trust that given the age which we live and the technological solutions available at our fingertips, I need not repeat my desire to an organization that prides itself the 'tip of the spear' with innovative solutions.">
Tension tightens the gloves she wears in an audible way, the leather ticking from the small of her back where her hands perch, small fists forming. <"Now take command, Administrator. Or I will."> Kalus's arm presents itself, her hand flat and gesturing for him to take the lead. Poise and limited patience seem to asphyxiate the very air from the vicinity surrounding Kalus as she gives the Administrator a chance to recover his command.
The clerk's eyes drop to Kalus' feet, either for respect, for fear, or for both.
The administrator nods once, then a second time more firmly. "Yes.. yes, of course. Right this way-" the slightly overweight head of the facility gestures to a particular one of the turbolifts. "The central processing database will have access to.. all manifests." A snap of gloved fingers and he looks to his assistant, "Have prisoner transfers of the past month brought up for the Dark Lord."
The instruction prompts a nervous nod and tap tap tap into the datapad. By the time the turbolift doors hiss open, the datapad is offered to Kalus with a subtly shaking hand.
Darth Kalus accepts the datapad from the shaking hand, the exchange surprisingly gentle despite the dark lord's demeanor. Eyes turn down to the screen as she steps aboard the lift, and a gloved hand rises to her mask clicking a button, before lowering to the screen to scroll through the pictures and names.
Kalus eventually found the prisoner she was looking for. A young man by all accounts, shaved hair on the sides, tattoos, and certainly Tionese by the look of him. More importantly, his name matched up in a very unique way. Had she not known Sera West, the detail would have evaded her, but Cado West was most certainly the scrappy engineer's progeny. Every bit his father, and every bit his mother.
Darth Kalus leaves the entry magnified and passes it back to the assistant. <"Deliver this prisoner unto me at once.">
The administrator accepts the datapad and peers at it, muttering, "A priority prisoner.. held in the third sublevel of Alpha Tower. But a moment, Lord Kalus," as the turbolift doors close around them all. A comlink is raised and the bureaucrat opens a channel with a pompous edge to his voice: "Warden, I have new instructions for you: you are to have prisoner number.. Aurek four thousand eighty-seven brought to my offices for questioning immediately." His smug smile back in force, "It will be but a moment, Darth-"
He is interrupted by a flat, authoritative voice that might be a high pitched male, or a deep female, difficult to tell. <<That prisoner is immobilized, administrator. On highest authority, any interrogation must take place in the inmate's secured cell.>>
Smile gone, mortified at being contradicted the administrator retorts into the comm, "Your orders have changed. I am ordering you under highest authority to bring the prisoner at once."
<<"You do not have that authority, administrator. Further, under strictures governing the transfer of priority prisoners, I must report this conversation for review by->>
Darth Kalus's silence adds to the contention in the air as she listens to the conversation take place. Seeking an immediate solution to the problem, Darth Kalus comments. <"Whilst you secure the transfer of prisoner Aurek four thousand eighty-seven, I would have words with the one you deemed warden.">
A subtle shift as the turbo lift moves, and Kalus's hands clasp at her lower back. <"Suffice to say, Administrator, you will have a vacancy to fill soon. I hope your next warden proves more amenable to authority.">
The administrator is clearly relieved that Kalus is angry with someone other than himself. The pudgy human nods once, firmly. "As do I, Lord Kalus. You there-" one of his guards, "Direct the turbolift to the first sublevel. While the dark Lord has ..words with Warden Alain, we will secure this prisoner, personally.
Darth Kalus waits for the lift to arrive at the respective level containing the offices belonging to Warden Alain. Silence accompanies her patience as she senses the urgency which she has instilled upon the Administrator and his assistant. Satisfied she has made an impression that will see the deed done, she steps off the lift when they arrive to erase the loose end that threatens to unravel her forceful diplomacy.
Dark Lords were well known for their mettle with affairs adjacent to them. This situation was no different than those. She waits for the guards to lead her to Warden Alain's office, and from there, she will handle the rest...
The troopers and personnel occupying the sublevels are more plainly attired and armed, glossy black open faced helms reminiscent of old Imperial troopers, and uniforms of dark grey. The official behind the desk starts to stand and protest at this unexpected intrusion, but the words are swallowed abruptly when the masked figure in black is spied.
The first sublevel is clearly the operation center for those who work in the highest security division within the facility, a petty fiefdom unto itself. Holographic scanners project energy signatures of any carried weapons, and the unmistakeable cylinder of a lightsaber on Kalus' belt ensures that no one makes so much as eye contact as the Darth stalks past.
The guards in blue and black guide Kalus to the end of a corridor, opening the double doors with a hiss and stepping to either side, saluting.
Within, the same stern voice from the comms states, "Cordiano is only making this worse for himself- Lady Santhe will hear of this-" before catching sight of the figure in the doorway.
Darth Kalus steps inside the office and unclasps one hand to gesture back at the door behind her. In one motion, the waving gesture inspires the door to the outside to shut against its volition. It may have symbolized any hope of escaping being squandered in that moment.
<"Warden Alain,"> Kalus decrees aloud, a powerful bass sounding kinetic energy emitting from her form, displacing every object in view suddenly by rattling it. The power, the energy she commanded seemed to manifest around the Warden's throat and body, and effortlessly, Kalus suspended them in air as she approached.
Robbing them of air to breathe would certainly be the next step, but Kalus seemed intent to allow them this moment to voice their concerns, their fears if they had them.
Kalus arrives and stands before them, listening to any reaction the comms may have.
Alain is of average height and thin, dressed in an off-white uniform clearly inspired by old Imperial Security and Intelligence division aesthetics. The warden's spare frame and short hair suggest a masculine gender, but addition to the obvious intimidation, another outcome of lifting Alain off the deck by the throat is that the presence of a masculine bulb in the throat can be seen clearly. Mild mystery solved. Although Alain carries a standard pistol holstered at his side, both hands are grasping in futility at his neck.
Though the comms are silent, Alain is not, gasping out, "Following.. orders.. the- scum is bait..."
<"Orders change from time to time, Warden. Are you so incapable of adapting that you would deny a Dark Lord their desire?"> Kalus steps forward, the foot fall distinct.
<"Come on then, tell me to my face that I may not have what it is I desire.">
+Chance roll by Cadogan West - (50/50) Fail! (35)
"I- didn't know-" Alain struggles to state, clawing in vain at the invisible grip at his throat. "Take- hrrrh! Take him. Take anything."
<"Pathetic. I had hoped to find some spine behind the voice who told their Administrator no. Instead, I find this.."> Kalus says, acute disappointment relayed through the emitter of her mask.
<"However, having your approval expedites things for me. The Empire thanks you for your cooperation."> Kalus closes her hand into a fist and makes one single jerking motion. It's accompanied by the sound of something breaking, muffled by the Warden's flesh. Life was claimed in that instant, replaced with the sound of a crumbling body hitting the floor and silence.
<"Ensure the Lady Santhe hears of this.."> She says aloud, echoing the recent conversation she had interrupted.
<"Imperial interests will not suffer delays or insubordination. This extends to all patrons experiencing the benefit of our Empire's galactic peace and prosperity. Need I say more on the topic?">
There is a brief pause, as of the voice on the other end of the comm was hoping Kalus had been speaking to someone else, before the Sith is answered, <"No, my Lord.">
There is no one else in the office, and the pair of guards in black and royal blue armor say nothing outside the door, remaining at attention.
Pivoting back around to return to the doors, Kalus waves her hand and they open. To any who looked into the office, they'd find the crumpled form of their former Warden on the ground, the body experiencing death as nerve endings fired off and the brain died.
Even though they could not see the eyes behind the void slits of the mask, they were glowing yellow and hateful. Seething energy is reined in thereafter as her escort resumed their lead. <"Bring me to my charge.">
And thus, the Dark Lord left as suddenly as she appeared, sharing a glance with the secretary who thought to stand in protest upon her initial arrival.
The official behind the desk is watching Kalus until the masked Sith looks their way, then eyes are lowered. Aryn might deduce that this was the voice on the other end of Alain's comm, undertaking a futile bid to warn the warden.
The weapon sensors flare to holographic life once again as Kalus and her escorts march through and re enter the turbolift, one trooper inputting the command to access the third sublevel. Approval is given a moment later (even guards can't access the sublevels without approval) and the doors slide shut, the turbolift descending with a thrumming vibration for long moments afterward. Another automated stop at the second sublevel, a light glows red as the occupants of the lift are surveyed, and an instant later it glows green as once again, approval to proceed is granted.
They are deep underground by the time the doors hiss open to reveal the third sublevel. The lift is a security hub, from which six corridors branch out like the spikes of a wheel, each corridor lined with dozens of top security cells. The troopers stationed to this level already stand at attention, and one of the administrator's guards in blue can be seen awaiting their arrival.
The ride on the lift is dead silent, the kind of silence that rings in ones ears. Kalus does not break character to look at the guards with her, but the thought puts the desire to do so there. When the hatch hisses open, she steps out with the same urgency she had when she first arrived. She did not stop to look at the guard, just simply moved passed them and let them either catch up or guide her in the direction she ought to go.
Passing glances are taken when a cell goes by, seeking a glimpse of the occupants inside. She felt only pain here, overwhelming despair.
Roughly three quarters of the deepest cells are full, as can be seen with a glance through the small viewports mounted in the soundproofed durasteel doors. This deep, there are slightly more aliens than humans. Some prisoners are huddled against the back walls, some are suspended from the ceiling by their arms to keep them from lying down.
At the end of the corridor, another of the administrator's guards can be seen at sing outside an open cell door. A sound of revulsion can be heard from within, along with the words, "Sub-human scum!" Upon arrival, this is the place.
The Administrator is dabbing his kerchief at his face and lapel, with a look of utter disgust, trying to clean up a splatter of red.
Cadogan West is suspended from the ceiling by projection manacles binding his hands. Legs are slack, and the fading light of a grid pattern in the walls suggests the present of pain matrix emitters built into the walls. Alongside the inscrutable tattoos along arms, hands, a d upper chest, the young man has clearly been heavily beaten, ribs and back striped with angry red, half his face dark with bruising, and the red of fresh blood staining bared teeth.
Kalus's temper flared at the treatment of unarmed prisoners, but there was a time and place to dispute it, and it wasn't now. When she arrived, her medical training kicked in to diagnose the trauma his body had seen. Without doing a closer examination, she would not know the extent of internal injuries, but judging from external, it might be some time before he can fight.
This assured Aryn that her approach to this mission had been the sound one. <"Cut him loose, and escort him to the top. Ensure he is restrained. No further harm comes to this man. He has no use to me dead.">
Hands clasp at her front as she waits, standing beside the Administrator patiently.
Cado's head lolls to a fresh angle, eyeing the slight, masked figure in black with the distorted voice. While a real fight might be beyond him, the news that he is needed alive sinks in, as does the order that no further harm come to him. As the administrator mops up the worst of the bloody spittle, he regards the silk square, judges it soiled beyond recovery, and discards it on the cell floor. "And summon sanitation, afterward," he adds. And when one of the guards looks toward him to nod, Cado lashes out with a kick. He has no hope whatsoever of escape, but seems intent on making this as difficult as possible, catching a guard in the side of the knee and drawing a pained cry, before he is wrestled down and has hands locked in binders, despite thrashing efforts that grow more feeble when multiple guards step to restrain him.
The admistrator sniffs in disdain. "I would swear the entire race is feral. Get him on his feet quickly, or else bind him to a repulsor board," he orders the guards, unhelpfully.
The guards need not wrestle too hard. A subsequent strike is frozen in place before he is taken down, and the sense of losing control of his body's movement as if in a state of paralysis sets in. Were he to look upon the masked figure again, he'd find her standing there with one hand outstretched, its palm presented to him as if she's cast something over him.
Kalus has nothing to add to the Administrators observation. She shows restraint, patience for the moment, and embraces hope that they can reach the surface and the ship before something else goes wrong.
<"My patience is a finite resource, Administrator. See that it does not go extinct whilst I wait for this escort to proceed.">
"Of course, milord," is answered. "A repulsor board, at once! Quickly, now!"
It is a common piece of equipment on the third sublevel, and within seconds, the guards have bound the prisoner to a hovering rectangular slab purpose-made for the transport of problematic humanoids.
Losing control of his own body, unable to move, speak, resist.. Cado's pale blue eyes are fixed on that expressionless visor and outstretched glove. He feels a spike of anger, of fear, and an intense hatred at being so defeated in that moment.
He loses sight of the Sith when strapped to the platform, which can be moved with the lightest touch, handled as if it were nearly weightless.
<"Inform my vessel that we will meet them at the former landing zone momentarily."> Kalus indicates, stepping out of the way when the guards guide the repulsor board containing her acquisition by. She falls in step beside them.
By design, Kalus brushes her cape back for only a moment, something eye level that Cadogan had plain sight of. Her hand touches upon a square transponder hooked to her belt, the old beaten up device bearing the skull of Xim upon it. Her hand abandoned the device upon her belt, turning slightly to glance down toward him, then ahead again, and her cape fell back in place.
The brief paralysis passed, but the small and deliberate gestures had a clear effect, and when restrained only by mundane bindings once again, there is no self-damaging thrashing, or words aimed at provoking his captors.
"See it done as Darth Kalus has ordered," the administrator affirms with the gesture of a gloved hand. Obsequious to a fault, the bureaucrat inquires idly of the Sith, "How would milord like this prisoner recorded? Transferred to your care? Expired during questioning or perhaps during escape attempt?" He considers it a forgone conclusion that none will survive a Sith inquiry.
<"See that the prisoner is transferred to my purview with remarks made to Imperial interests. Your staff will receive official details from my own, and commendations for an efficient transaction to be shared with your superiors.">
Kalus keeps step beside the prisoner, walking with graceful ease and unbridled urgency. An occasional glance is paid to Cadogan as if monitoring his state, but this effort remains unnoticed thanks to the presence of her mask.
A voice within Ek-Shiik's mind whispered unto him in Aryn's tone. 'Do not cause an explosive scene. Things are well in hand. Trust me.'
Unseen far overhead, with a trio of suspicious TIE fighters circling him, and attempting a quick repair of the damaged hydraulics on the boarding ramp, Ek-shiik exhales in a jagged chuckle. "Well in hand, she says. Great." Abandoning his work on the hatch, hoping it's enough he hastens. Ack to the cockpit, disables the autopilot, and very slowly guides the freighter back to the prior landing zone, all while TIEs wait for him to do something wrong enough to open fire.
Arriving at the landing zone, the doors open and Cadogan West is guided outside by the guards. Darth Kalus stands beside the acquisition, who at this point, seems resigned to his fate with the Sith. Rather than face out to watch the arrival of the ship, Kalus watches her host in a fit of quiet paranoia.
At any point, weapons could be trained on them, defenses activated, or the like. Her disruptive aggression has kept things in the balance, and unlike a bluffed ruse, she would be true to her word. Arrangements to accept the prisoner filed, Imperial intelligence alerted to a new initiative led by the Dark Lord, and commendations to the Administrator who was like to be interviewing for a new Warden.
The automated anti-personnel turrets in the corners still stir, slowly tracking movement, which do very little to ease the tense few moments between when the Broadstar eases into a landing, the ramp descending unevenly with a few screeches of protesting metal.
All throughout, the administrator - who was less than subtle in finally making certain Kalus knew his name, now that commendations were being discussed - was Major Vir Cordiano. And if something irregular about a Sith Lord arriving in a tramp freighter was bothering the guards, none were willing to risk their necks over a possible mistake that their boss would be blamed for.
When the hatch shut noisily behind them, Aryn waved her hand over the board restraining Cadogan West and the restraints released all at once. Sparing only silence for the progeny of Ektor-Xer, Kalus stormed to the front to impress upon Ek-Shiik that now was the time for speed.
<"A honest ruse that should not lose its potency. I return you your man in the hopes that mine own requests will be fulfilled. Now, to the stars, master Darstan.. as quick as you may.">
"Ain't gotta tell me twice, Princess Doc," Ek-shiik answers without even sparing a backward glance, the ultralight clearing the ray shields- yes, the administrator was waving goodbye- and streaking up steeply for orbit. "You arright back there, Cado?" he calls while laying in a course for home.
"Ek-shiik?? What the burning rekk are you doing with a Sith? How did-" Yeah, that was trying to move too fast, too soon, and the steep angle of climbing left him lightheaded.