Log:Array Consortium: The Curtain Rises
With the beginning of the new campaign to liberate the Sarkhai system, the crew of the Serious Business arrives at the edge of the system to link up with the two much larger mercenary organizations, the Atrax Guard and the Gray Legion, and to meet their commanders. It goes...uh...interestingly.
The Serious Business makes the jump to the Sarkhai system in fairly decent time; the current crop of helm officers are quite decent, and so even with its Class Two hyperdrive, the warship is capable of making the journey into the largely lawless Mid-Rim in excellent time. The ship clears the realspace barrier at the very edge of the system, just outside the orbit of the outermost planet, the poisonous death-sphere of Daltara; swirling with acidic mists, the planet's serene blue appearance, lit by the distant glow of the yellow star of Sarkol, belies its incredibly dangerous atmosphere.
And yet it seems that danger is the character of the moment, for in orbit of the planet is a fleet. The combined ships of the Atrax Guard and Grey Legion are here, a horde of transports, corvettes and other ships led by a pair of assault frigates and a modernized dreadnaught. These three heavy combat ships are joined by the Serious Business, and after the four craft exchange greetings and code ciphers, assembly is called in the Business's hangar bay.
The lot of you are among the other pilots, infantry and other officers and crew brought to the bay; shuttles bearing the skull-and-shield of the Atrax Guard and the single rakish saber of the Gray Legion are parked on one corner of the deck, a number of beings in military uniforms of different cuts - red for the Guard, and gray (of course) for the Legion - stand arrayed before the hangar's aperture. The blue and gold of the Consortium finishes the palette, as does Adhar finish the palette of the commanders thus arrayed in the center of all.
Representing the Guard is a tall, powerfully-built Twi'lek, his skin colored tan and resplendent in his red uniform and long red cape. His expression is utterly humorless as he regards the gathering Consortium throng. The Legion is represented by a cheerful-looking woman in a uniform that while gray seems oddly noble in appearance, complete with a short sword-cloak draping off one shoulder and a sword at one side. Smiling, she looks like she's just pleased at punch to be here. In the middle is Adhar, whose expression remains neutral; instead of an impressive uniform he wears a long coat of blue gaberwool with golden hardware and hem over his simple coverall, giving him the odd appearance of a sort of mechanic-turned-pirate. But that's the Consortium all over, isn't it? Such a mashup.
They're waiting for people to finish filing in, currently. The Legion's representative is chatting up Adhar in the moment, but their words are lost in the din of assembly.
Zerna herself was standing with the Consortium troops, squinting as she takes in the group before glancing to the captain. Bright blue eyes focus before looking back out. She herself was wearing a formfitting blue suit that bears her last name and rank in gold; the only thing that sticks out is the ornate montral jewelry that wraps around them and dangles to the center of her forehead. Yes...it's her uniform for under her power armor. And where is all of this? Well on the ship along with her duffle of goodies for the trip. Rolling those shoulders she places her hands behind her back as she waits and listens.
Despite her misgivings about dealing with 'real military' personnel, Sion Corvara is still attending this meeting. She at least wants a look at the people she'll be serving with. To her credit, she's clad in a gray and blue colorblocked jacket and gray trousers drawn from the quartermaster, groundside garb for Consortium personnel, over a black crew-necked jersey, her best attempt to look somewhat professional. The jersey ends about an inch above her waistline, though, showing that it came from her closet, not the ship's. That the garments were issued hastily is beyond doubt: The jacket's sleeves nearly cover her hands, and the pants look a little baggy; the legs are definitely folded under to get the right length.
She finds a spot next to Zerna, nodding a hasty greeting to the Togruta. "Heyo, Zee. This is a bigger meeting than I was expecting," she murmurs.
The stocky Corellian spacer, Dol Marcis, stands among the Consortium's gathered, seeming a little out of place. Rather, the expression on his normally affable mug shows that he still, even now included among the chosen pilots, techs, and mercs, is nto exactly sure how he fits in. It is an awkwardness that he wears like a mask, a layer of worry over the care-and-age-worn wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. Simultaneously, there is a hint of excitement in the older man's look, a slight thrill at being included all the same. He stands at what amounts to attention, both impressed and intimidated by the goings on. Straightening his back, he exhales deeply, a long sigh, the indicator lights of his rebreather pulsing slowly.
David could've been wearing armor right now. Oh well. Instead, he's wearing his regular fit of pants, jacket and gunbelt, only this time he's not standing out in a crowd of blues, golds and greys, instead wearing a big blue stripe on a gray leather jacket, the stripe vertical from the shoulder down and flanked by two thinner stripes. Hands by his side, he keeps one thumb tucked in the gunbelt as he follows behind Sion. It's cool, he's tall. He can still see everything. He wears an entirely neutral expression on his face, perfect for not giving any of his inner thoughts away.
Aola was standing among the Array pilots and troops, her own form wrapped in her Array flightsuit and her rifle slung over one shoulder. At her foot, a black and gold BB-unit trundles, waiting for the command to move out. The twi'lek folds her arms, waiting to listen herself, but her eyes flick left and right, looking twoards the others gathered.
Once everyone is settled and things quieten down, Adhar steps forward to address the assembly with a vox-caster in one hand. Essentially a microphone tied into the intercom system, Adhar's voice is cast from all corners of the ship. "Good evening, everyone." He gestures to the two sides arrayed on either side of him. "I'd say 'welcome to Sarkhai,' but I'll leave that to the Crown once we've done our jobs here. Now as you know, we're here to do a job, and we're here to do it with these two fine people and their forces. To my right..." He gestures to the red-clad folks. "...is Battle-Leader Shiran'la of the Atrax Guard. The Guard, as you know, is carrying the sword in space for the most part, though they've brought their own troops and support vehicles. They're going to be meeting the Children of Kespan."
The stern man in the cloak nods once, turning his head sufficiently to reveal one of his lekku is a silver sleeve, a prosthetic. Oddly enough, neither of his lekku seem to move at all, fitting his expressionless face.
"On the right are our ground primaries, the Gray Legion. Standing here is Commander Litra, who will be directing operations on the surface, both here on Daltara and elsewhere as we carry the advance to the system interior."
The foppishly-dress woman executes a deep bow, her wing of red hair lashing over her cheek. A noblewoman with an asymmetrical undercut. Interesting.
"Knew what?" Sion promptly asks... and hastily shuts up as the meeting officially begins. She shadows a look in either direction as she clams up, noting Aola on her other side and Dave over her shoulder. She can only nod once and hope the gesture catches both of them.
The introductions are watched with interest. The Guard Twi'lek looks hopelessly stiff, but the Legion noblewoman seems awfully animated. Sion subconsciously straightens to something akin to attention, and hastily hitches up her too-big pants, which had slowly worked their way down to her hips. Professional images are a pain.
Dol tries to let himself be absorbed in the goings on, the introductions, the inevitable ensuing speeches and lectures, but he finds himself looking around to see whether there is anyone in the fray whom he recognizes. Sure enough, there are several, and in near vicinity. He finds himself wishing there were tiles to count on the ceiling, but then snaps out of it, attempting to bring himself back to the now. No need to look to the horizon, and all that, as he heard somewhere in some old tale. Pay attention to the now. What he is doing.
Or, at the very least, think about flying. Fixing. Fighting.
And it's that last bit that really does it for him. Back to hanging on every word it is.
David steps forward a few steps, hand with the tucked-in thumb stretching and catching one of Sion's belt loops on his index finger. He stands there, giving Sion a quick wink as he definitely pays attention to the introductions. Fake Lekku Man and Commander Fancy. Standing there, careful not to move too much, he waits for the Captain and his memorable friends to get to any points. Points being where he can go fly and shoot at lesser beings who shoot at him also.
Aola's own arms remain folded as she listens, but listen she does. She's got no words to say and this wasn't the first time that she'd dealt with eccentric military types, but even so. She was no diplomat or anything like that after all, flying and shooting was her mainstay too!
"So I've asked them to join us today to say hello," says Adhar, easing into something of a smile, "And indulging me in this show of my lack of military etiqutte, they have agreed. So let me give the vox over to Battle-Leader Shiran'la." Which he does, offering the metal wand over to the austere man.
"I am Shiran'la." Unlike Adhar, who waxes between steel and softness, the Twi'lek command is iron all the way; when he speaks, his voice is as hard and cold as his expression, and he brooks no ceremony himself. Not that he is not elegant in his austerity, but because he does not seem to feel that he needs any. "The situation is this: the Children of Kespan, as the enemy calls itself, has arrived in force. Probes indicate that the fleet they bring is built around a Star Destroyer of older provenance, but in excellent repair and significently bolstered, as well as several frigates and a variety of corvettes and fighters. We are, at the moment, outgunned in the main." Let that sink in. He looks among the assembly. "However. We are the Atrax Guard; we are used to these odds, and have faced far worse and won. You need worry for nothing. We will succeed." And with that the hands the vox-wand back to Adhar, whose expression is again unreadable as he takes it back.
Zerna glances around to those assembled, particularly their crew. Blue eyes smirk at David and Sion before looking to Dol. Giving him a wink she lets her eyes fall on Aola before looking back to the Twi'lek commander. Staying quiet and at her own form of attention she listens. There seems to be nothing for her to say on the matter....not now anyway.
Sion blushes a little, noticing Dave's decorum-maintaining gesture, but gives him a faint, grateful smile over her shoulder. At least she can listen to the speaking without too much worrying about her image!
The stiff Twi'lek would appear to be stiff for good reason: He seems to be iron through and through. And with those odds, there's good reason for his steely resolve. The Socorran listens quietly, and with some appreciation for his confidence: There's the makings of a good tactician under her witchy raven locks. She's quietly aware that, as an invading force trying to blockade the world away from help, the Children are stuck in the system, and mostly around the planet Sarkhai at that. Their opponents, on the other hand, can lance in and withdraw at leisure, keeping the tactical advantage by striking at isolated, weaker ships away from the VSD. It's bad odds, but they can be manipulated by a canny opponent, and this Twi'lek seems quite canny enough for the job, and he's backed by a good unit.
Still, for now she's here to be talked at, not talk herself. She keeps quiet.
The stocky Corellian spacer, Dol Marcis, looks ahead at the speaker, and takes several deep breaths, counting internally. "O.k." he says. "Alright. O.k. We got this. We've seen worse odds, haven't we?" He looks at the cadet standing next to him for reassurance. His mechanical hand clicks its fingers twice.
"Oh, yes we *have.*" he says.
The stiff Twi'lek has Aola tilting her head, a little gesture she'd picked up. Irriatation, not exactly unexpected after all for someone here in a prolonged skirmish with a hostile force and yet...The twi'lek woman frowns and tilts her head, speaking softly among the other pilots. "He doesn't want us here," the blue-skinned pilot murmurs.
David actually appreciates the no-nonsense approach the Battle-Leader maintains throughout his speech. It's to the point and quite detailed, and the guy's hitting all the right points. Fighters, corvettes and some sort of Star Destroyer. Like most of the others, he keeps quiet. This is essentially a briefing, maybe there's room for questions later.
"Thank you, Battle-Leader." Adhar's tone is flat now, and he crosses to hand the vox-wand to Commander Litara. The red-haired woman smiles brightly as she beholds the knot, nodding her head once to Adhar and stepping forward. What comes is a jaunty, silvery voice, cultured and rich with the crisp tones of a Coruscanti accent. Noble voice, noble clothes. Rebel haircut.
"Hello, all," says Litara, "I'm Lady Nati Adlaita Nitara. Commander Nitara, as you know me - and I'm here to tell you that you're going to be fine. It's going to be fine. The whole thing." A wink. "Dangerous? Yes. Lethal? Perhaps. Nobody fights and doesn't get bloodied. But you lot are going to be fine. I've read battle reports, know some of you from other militaries. You've nothing to worry about. After all! We've got the Battle-Leader and his fleet here, and our forces to roll over the interior worlds. Your jobs will be to support us, and we will leave very little to require it. So!" A brilliant smile, glittering green eyes. So pretty. "There you have it. You're going to show your mettle, be fine, and be paid. Nothing else can one ask for!"
Sion frowns thoughtfully at Aola, looking back at Battle-Leader Shiran'la. But then Lady Nitara speaks her piece. She's glitter and smiles rather than steel and scowls, but there does seem to be a faint, underlying vibe there that matches his. "I'm starting to wonder if either of them wants us here," she says, finally, but very softly.
Dol Marchis scrunches his face in an expression that says ... "not buying it." The woman, Lady *something someone,* has not inspired much confidence with her diatribe. Dangerous? Yes. Lethal? YES! At least, that is what the stocky spacer hears. He shakes his head, and he looks at the cadet next to him. He nods in the direction of Litara, his eyes trailing to her and back to the nearby cadet, and he is wearing an expression of "can you believe this?"
The cadet casts his eyes down, trying his best to ignore the old spacer.
David shakes his head slightly at Sion. "They don't want us here." he whispers. "Metal Lekku Guy at least knows and recognizes they need us, I'm not getting the same from.. her." he indicates with a tilt of his head. "I believe they believe it." he asides to Dol Marcis, adding, "But also I believe we're here because belief is not enough."
Commander Nitara seems to read the room well enough; she clears her throat, and speaks again. "I see that I misspeak," she says. "I mean to cheer, and see that I've insulted - I've been told that the Consortium is no mere outfit, and it seems that the reports were true, that you /want/ the fight. And so I give you my pardon." A pause; she looks across the bay once more.
"It is true; the Children are well-armed. Well equipped. But the Guard is strong in all things naval, and we have ruled the ground whenever we landed for centuries. But you have helped save the Crown, and from far greater odds, point for point, than either of our outfits have seen in a very long time. When I say that it will be fine, I mean that failure does not seem to be in your nature. I am glad that you will fight with us. I know that together, we will achieve many honors and rewards." This said, she offers a deep bow, and hands Adhar the vox-wand again.
"Thank you, Commander," Adhar says politely to the lady, though his flat expression seems to have eased some. "It is appreciated."
The speech does its work: Sion's tension slowly ebbs as Lady Nitara realizes her error, and speaks to correct it. There are good reasons that real, modern battles don't have bands or cheerleaders, and she's just highlighted one of them. But she seems big enough to want to fix the issue. Sion can get behind that. She's a bit lost in the crowd, but just in case, she gives the redhead a quick, bright smile.
She looks aside to David, too. "I don't think the Guard do. We're kind of stealing their thunder, in small ways. I do think the Legion wants our help, though. Whether we're here just in case or not, we /are/ here. Someone wants us around."
The stocky Corellian spacer, Dol Marcis, is less than impressed, however. With Sion, and David, in earshot, he whispers, "Well. I guess we are supposed to clap now? I'm still not buying it." The fingers of his mechanical left hand click once in affirmation. "But I'm trying, at any rate. I can't say she's done anything for my already fragile confidence. Maybe once she sees us in action ... sees results ... her tune will mellow completely."
David shakes his head. "She's read the reports and such, right?" he replies. "We're here now, it'd be stupid to sideline us at this point. Especially since payment has already been promised." He speaks softly, but his eyes are focused on the speech making area. "It's just a job, like any other. A deployment like any other." he suggests. "Maybe they'll even not shoot at us themselves by the time we're making ready to leave!"
You know that thing where people smile and it's only because they can't murder somebody? That's Adhar. Stepping forward so that the allied commanders cannot see his face, the Captain counts to ten - that's how long it takes him to speak after he has the vox-wand, ten seconds - and he finally speaks.
"Well," says Adhar after that brief span of time, wherein he's able to collect his murderous irritation, "They will know us by the trail of their dead where we are made to pass. So! We have our fleet, we have our ground forces, and then we have ourselves, the specialists. We're not a dedicated mercenary company, but the Crown has invited us directly, so I'm obviously standing with Commander Nitara on the side of our virtues. So! Thank you, Commander, Battle-Leader, for this most enlightening introduction. Thank you for that. Assembly dismissed! Intelligence packets will upgraded in the next twenty-four hours. Thank you."
Really, if he could open fire on either of them, he might well have.
Sion knows that look on Adhar's face; she should, considering she's had it pointed at her pretty often. It's a natural side effect of being one of the ship's bad kids. At least it's not so strong as it might've been moments before, before Lady Nitara respoke. She holds her peace and waits for the crowd to disperse enough that she can actually move.
Feeling a pat on her back from Dave, she glances down and notes that his finger's no longer holding her pants up. That's the bad news. The good news is that she can move again. She nods her thanks to him, accompanied by a faint smile.
The dispersal is far enough along after a few seconds that she can see the assembly area without leaning around whoever is no longer in front of her. She stands on tiptoe to wave to Adhar and Lady Nitara, waving vigorously... and hastily grabs for her pants with her other hand as they slip. Really, they'd never have made it past her hips, but it's a reflex now. And no military group issues /pink/ underpants to its members, she's sure. She hastily makes a note to get this outfit resized, waves once more, and slips out amidst the crowd.
At least the not-meet and greet is over. She'll be glad to get to the actual fighting. At least then, nobody will much care what she's wearing!
The stocky Corellian spacer, Dol Marcis, is finally moved, but not from the coldness of the Twi'lek commander, nor from the callousness of the Lady Something. He is moved by his Captain, moved by his Captain's frustration, moved by his Captain's barely retrained anger. Knowing the Captain, if even for a short time, it is obvious, and moreover it is obvious that the Captain harbors those emotions because he cares, about his crew, his people, his crewmates. This is what moves the stocky spacer at last to a certain level of confidence in his own abilities, inspires him to do what needs doing.
"No matter the others." he says. "We do this for him, just as he does this for us."
With that, Dol stops pretending to stand at attention, and he makes ready to disperse with the others.
And then he's smiling as this brief assembly is over, turning round to speak to the commanders behind him. Did anyone behind him have any inkling of the face he'd worn in the moment? If they have, there is no sign. There is only smiles, smiles and social niceties.
But the Captain's probably going to remember that.