Log:An Unwelcome Interruption
In the central district, a tall building juts against the evening sky of Serenno. Light spills from shadeless windows and the overall serenity of Serenno is, so far, unbroken. A few hours before, Company Alpha had stormed the and taken the central district by force. A triage had been set up outside the doors, but thus far, nobody had entered the building. Structural scans indicate people, but no weapons or explosive traps within. The Houses were locked up like sardines. Outside, Lieutenant AL-7783 stands at attention with six troopers behind him, awaiting relief from Company Beta and General Hux.
Within the topmost floor, the aging, silver-haired Bron Dooku is sat at the end of a long table set up for these meetings. Beside him, Militia Captain and representative of House J'kar is speaking in a fluster. "We can't fight the Order with sticks and stones--Without assistance my men are going to be over run. There's nothing left for us to fight them with! We must call for the Republic to aid us..." He demands of the collective.
The armored speeder bearing General Hux (and its escorts) slide into the square, turning to follow the road towards the building housing what remains of the government. Looking out through the glass, the youthful officer has his lips pursed into a half-smile.
NV-1268 is also aboard the speeder, though poised on the rear landing platform of the vehicle. Her left hand grips a length of protruding metal, a makeshift handle, while her right hand claims purchase on her blaster rifle, which is now aimed at the sky. She is silent, but watchful, her helmet swiveling slowly from side to side as she surveys her surroundings.
Several troopers are riding on the sides of the speeder Containing the General. RK-8801 has the honor of riding on the left side front. Booted feet on the running board, one hand holding the rail, the other holding her Rifle at the ready. AS the vehicle settles she swings off, eyes scanning the scene alertly, blaster uzzle following her gaze....
"The last time this collective became involved with the Republic, we entered into a war that cost us far too much," Bron says, shaking his head at J'Kar as though he had the plague. His eyes shift momentarily to the others assembled. "They always -want- something. What could they be here for? Serenno is of no value to the First Order, just as it was no value to the Republic or the Empire. Find out what they want and give it to them," Bron declares. A fit of coughing overtakes the end of the words.
The armored car glides to a stop in front of the building. The door is opened for him, and General Hux rises from the armored speeder already wearing his officer's greatcoat. His officer's buckle and boots are at a high shine. He places his crested command cap atop his head, settling it into place with both black-gloved hands, before starting toward the building, heading toward the decision-making room - leaving time for troopers to precede him indoors.
Rubbing his ear vigorously to clear the ringing that still plagues him after being too close to one of the initial bombardment shots fired upon the planet, the elderly Genarrio Ber'arr, patriarch and CEO of Ber'arr Holdings, shakes his head vigorously. "We absolutely can-NOT simply surrender Serenno, part-and-parcel. If we simply lay down and show our bellies, they will strip this planet clean to get -whatever- they came here for."
The elder Ber'arr finally gives up trying to clear the ringing and instead slams his fist upon the table, "This entire display is entirely YOUR fault, Bron." Stabbing a wrinkled finger at the lesser Dooku, Gennario waggles it accusingly, "The Republic Fleets could have been here hours ago! Now we are going to have to pay out the nose to keep these dogs from running rampant across our entire planet! Who CARES how much the Republic would have charged us, in the end?!" Gennario looks as though he's about to come up out of his chair, "Do you have *any* idea how much this will cost me?" Gennario slams his fist upon the table again, "US?!" A third slam, "The whole planet?!"
Gennario Ber'arr snorts at J'kar, "And your militia crumbled like the paper rancors they were. Money wasn't the problem there--it was training. You let them get soft." He waves wildly, "And spare me, J'kar, the time for craven antics is over. Even if the Republic arrived in the skies -right now-, unless they brought another Clone Army with them--" A sharp look is cast at Dooku, "--they would not be in any position to help us against the rathtars on our doorstep."
Gennario finally leans back, relaxing some as he collects himself with a calming breath. "...We must make them understand that we are more valuable as allies than as slaves."
On the General's mark, NV-1268 falls in line with the other stormtroopers and drops boots onto the solid ground of Serenno. With her blaster rifle in both hands she moves quickly alongside the speeder and nods her helmet upward once to garner Hux's attention. "General, there is evidence of multiple areas of battle. Over there, and there," she notes as she points to the areas outside the housing zone proper. "And the presence of droids," her modulated voice buzzes as she points toward the damaged ground at their feet. That said, she now situates herself close to the General to shield him.
Hux breaks his stride at the words from NV-1268. "Droids? Right here? Find them. If they're a threat- neutralize them. I want no surprises." He gestures for a few troopers to accompany him into the building. Up the lift, once its controls are commandeered, and finally he gestures to two soldiers to precede him into the room the House is meeting in, stepping in immediately behind them. "Gentlemen, ladies - put aside your rules of assembly. There is only one question that matters now. You cannot defend yourself, and so are unable to govern unless the First Order permits it. This can go well for you or poorly." "Where-" he says coolly, "- is- Selino Antilles?" And he stares from person to person at the table.
House J'kar seems stung by the sudden outburst, giving him pause as he stares at the other families. If he could shrink within his seat, he may very well have done so. With each death of his soldier's, his powerbase shrunk in great part. A few mutterings under his breath are all the man could muster.
Bron Dooku, Regent of Serenno, took the insult much differently. "Do remember who's backs your financial empire were built upon, and try to focus here," Bron says, keeping a fairly level head as a hand reaches up to rub at the whiskers of his chin in thought. He was hiding something. "Certainly an envoy will be sent to treat. Gennario is right, however. Appeal to their logic and show them we're fast friends. It's worked before," he says, before the opening of the doors cuts short whatever further scheming could be done. The old man examines Hux carefully for a long moment, before shaking his head. "Antilles is a coreward name. There are no Antilles on Serenno," he says in response.
Gennario Ber'arr is taken by surprise just as much as the rest of the House representatives. The white-haired old man, with a long, flowing goatee, starts to rise from his seat like some others, his lips forming a shocked 'O'. But where the others start to sit down at Hux's question, Gennario simply narrows his eyes into a squint, tilting his head, "Who?" He looks at Bron, who answers far more eloquently, and, appeased by the response, slowly sits down. Clasping his hands upon the table, Gennario watches Hux with close scrutiny, not seeming impressed once the initial shock has worn off.
"Sir!, Yes Sir!" RK-8801 Notes the order, turns, and indicates to her squad where the Droid are. "Fan out, search and neutralize." Husky voice crackling over coms, she and her squad fan out in a skirmish line, helmet scanning alertly, the muzzle of her weapon tracking along with her gaze. With silent getures she directs her squad to the area she and Novi noted...they move at crouch, weapons ready....
NV-1268 nods curtly to the General and then watches RK-8801 take initiative with the droid detail. Once the other stormtrooper has lead that group on the trail, hopefully to make short work of whatever they find, NV-1268 turns and moves with General Hux, following him inside. Immediately her blaster rifle is trained on the party at large, moving between all of them slowly, one by one, letting them know that there are blaster bolts enough for everyone present. Whomever dares to speak gets the full attention of the stormtrooper as she awaits the General's order to fire.
"I'm afraid one of you is keeping a dangerous secret from the others, one that could cost you your planet." Hux begins walking around the perimeter of the room, behind each of the Houses' leaders. "She is not a native. She arrived recently - _very_ recently," he says, his voice sibillant and filled with decorum. "For Miss Antilles is here. One of you knows where. And I do hope for your sake, and the sake of the northeast quadrant of this city," he removes a comlink from his pocket, flicking it on. "-that you share this information. You have sixty seconds to comply." He crosses his arms, having circled back to his starting point, and his smile contains genuine amusement. "It's an excellent view you have of the city from up here, isn't it?"
"Are you so brash that you would destroy the lives of thousands on a whim simply because you believe a girl may be hiding amongst us? Even the Empire was never so bold as to waste life so needlessly. We have no love for some girl, such that we would betray our people for her. Take your girl," Bron says, shifting his glance towards J'Kar. "Certainly the Militia would be glad to aid in such a search. The militia knows the comings and goings of everyone on and off of Serenno. But even you," Bron says, with eyes shifting back to the General, "General, would understand how difficult it is to track a planet's worth of people. We--" He pauses quickly, "Simply don't employ the means to control the population, in that way."
Rika's search is going well, and she's picked up a pair of friends that flank her as she investigates. The causeway has traffic clearly leading in one direction for the Droids: towards a small building just off of the district plaza.
Gennario's knuckles go white as he clenches his fists on the table, his eyes widening in equal measures of fury and fear. But at Bron's supplication, Gennario visibly relaxes. "Yes, House Ber'arr is willing to put its considerable wealth behind this task as well..." The old man forces his hands to relax so that he can clasp them together calmly. "Wealth, I might add, that could just as easily be put to assisting your interests /elsewhere/ in the galaxy, so long as our trade routes are allowed to remain open." He inclines his head, "We are businessmen here, General. We have no love for the Republic, as you should well know. Let us do business together."
A stormtrooper's duties are often an exercise in obedient silence and precise stillness. NV-1268 is in a stance to exact optimal destruction in as small as a space of time as is possible. The smallest shift of her shoulders points her rifle at any number of heads. That shifting is moving from head to head to head as General Hux levels his threats upon them. And because his threats are never idle, the trooper is ready to end many lives in this room over the matter of one female's whereabouts. When Bron speaks, the rifle suddenly favours him, and him alone.
RK-8801 moves through the damaged streets in a fast crouch. Soon she and her team spot the droids destination; a small buidling just off the plaza. She leads her team, moving from cover to cover. Rika in the lean, another in the middle covering the roof lines and the third covering their six. She brings them as close as she can, observiing the droids intently......
"If the militia knows, then reveal her location now," Hux says, tapping his comlink significantly. "If the militia does /not/ know, then she had help from one of you to hide her arrival from the official records." He narrows his eyes at Bron. "You 'don't employ' the means. Then you do have them?" "Tick-tock," he adds softly. "Tick-tock."
"When the Republic defeated the Armies of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, we backed out of Galactic Politics. As a result, our small planet has known Peace and Prosperity, thanks to the Houses you see here," Bron says, rising some to stand at his chair, slowly. "I won't brand my people and monitor their every movement so that one day, sixty years later the Empire could come asking of them. I will not treat them as cattle. As for your demands, I know nothing of any girl. If the men and women here knew anything, I would hope they would speak of it. What else would you have me do?" He looks between each of the 14 men and women there, representing the Houses.
White-haired Gennario's eyes narrow into thin slits as he eyes J'kar first, then Bron. "Is this boy telling the truth, J'kar? Bron? By the Force, if you are keeping this girl hidden and I lose Qualnyat Industrial because one of you suddenly developed a soft spot, they won't need these...these.../storm troopers/" he sneers the world, "--to end your miserable lives. I'll do it myself!" Gennario slams his fist on the table, "Damn your rhetoric and moral high ground, Bron! Tell them where this Antilles girl is, or /go find her!/"
RK-8801 crouches, exmining the tracks, helmet tracking up as they lead to the..warehouse. To a loading bay door. There. Right by it. A human-sized door. She brings up her fist, then points indicating the structure; they will move up to flank the door. With a final scan for hostiles the team moves forward at a fast, running crouch. Her heat is beating fast but smooth. Under the mask her lips are drawn back in a snarl. Or a smile. Or both. She doing her job, as she was meant to. She studies the door beside her as the other troopers keep watch....
General Hux looks from Gennario, to Bron, to the other gathered House leaders, then back to Gennario. "I like your attitude," he says to Gennario, then raises a hand, flicking a finger at Bronn in a signal to NV-1268. "Find her," he says firmly, "Find her, and you may even find new business opportunities," he says, voice dropping back to silky. "And this will be the only interruption to prosperity that Serenno need suffer." He clicks four times on his comlink and smiles.
Who will be shot first? It is a decision NV-1268 is able to make all on her own. General Hux will merely say when. So that blaster rifle continues to cycle through targets. Him, him, maybe her? Were her helmet off one might see that she enjoys making these rats sweat under the scrutiny of Hux's interrogation and the threat of her blaster fire. When the General makes a tick-tock noise, NV-1268 huffs out a quiet breath of laughter, perhaps too quiet to be heard. Bron is once again her target. This man clearly wants to be shot first. A polite female would oblige. At General Hux's signal, NV-1268 raises her rifle to Bron's head and delivers a single bolt into one side of his skull and out the other. Now that he is neuralized she levels her weapon on the woman next to Bron's slumped form. "On your command, General," she says curtly, that Coruscanti accent all death intermingled with elegance.
An audible gasp comes from one of the lesser house's older generation, as their Regent is gunned down. She clutches to the arms of one of the nearby men and hides her face from the gore of Bron dying in front of them all. Nobody says a word, hoping that they can make it out without meeting the same grisly fate. Nothing is uttered from Bron, but as he crumples to the floor out of sight to all but Hux, there's a red light suddenly blinking on the dead man's belt.
Meanwhile, Rika is suddenly met with a lot of noise. A gentle throb of energy rises and suddenly there's a kind of hum in the walls of the building next to her. The warehouse doors begin to open rapidly, and the low din of droids coming online can be felt by the Stormtrooper and her wings. In moments, columns are marching out of the warehouse building, headed for the square. Headed for Company Alpha's barricades.
Gennario of House Ber'arr flinches at the sudden execution of Bron Dooku, his mouth left hanging open in surprise. Blinking several times as the reality of it washes over him, the white-haired man finally manages to start working his jaw a few times before he musters the coherency of speech. "R-right... I will see that the order goes out at once..."
Gennario doesn't sound quite sure of himself, still staring at where the ruin of Bron's head was, a moment ago before it fell out of sight. But then, like a circuit breaker being thrown, he squares his jaw and glares at J'kar, "Muster your men, if you have any left. The man who finds Selino Antilles is about to become five million credits richer. And I'll match it for his commanding officer. I want this city locked down, and every house, home, and hovel searched from top to bottom." He glares around the table at the Heads of House and their representatives. "Do you hear me? NOW." He points across the way, "Stellari, prep your newscasting droids for an emergency announcement."
Gennario finally looks back to Hux, slowly clasping his hands together on the table. "...If you have a picture of this woman, General, it would be most helpful."
The Order teaches Courage to its troops. It also teaches intelligence. Dying stupidly is a waste. The best she can do now is warn her Comrades, hold her ground and try to not to be seen and engaged. She silently signals her team to fall back, back around the building. Sotly, softly they back pedal, covering the droids, the roofs and the plaza. Only on round the corner, does RK-8801 open her com. "General, those Droids. We have columns emerging from a warehouse at Cooordinates 10.20 x 25.24, Grid 12. Columns heading to Alpha Squad, other moving out on differing vectors. We are pinned down, alert Alpha, repeat alert Alpha!"
General Hux drops to a crouch to claim the blinking device at Bronn's belt. It's as he's examining it that his comlink comes to life. He presses it to his ear. "Copy. Alpha, attack incoming. Finalizer, divert air cover to her position. I want the droids near her comlink strafed. Beta: withdraw at best opportunity. Reinforce the square, and find the other droids' targets."
Hux deactivates the device, but it is likely too late. Nevertheless, he turns back to the table. "I do have a holo," he says, with a smile. "We will be ready to boost your transmission. Be sure you are ready to broadcast."
Gennario nods grimly, his eyes narrowed. "We will be, General. We will be." Turning away, the scion of House Ber'arr murmers in quiet tones to other members of the assembly, clearly taking charge for the moment. Stellari signals that her broadcast teams are ready, and even J'kar grudgingly gives the orders commanded to him. Other forces are brought to bear, oblivious to the droid battle about to take place far below.