Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Pernicious Loyalties

  1. #1
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799

    Thread Semi-Open Pernicious Loyalties

    Gravan Prime
    Imperial fortress world - on the Alliance frontier




    Sheets of rain peeled across the tarmac adjacent to Moff Gerrij's palace, casting the already brutalist Imperial architecture in cool tones that deepened its shadows. Those shadows retreated under the approach lamps of a landing Lambda shuttle, whose severe angled wings drew up against the main aileron as it descended. Repulsor engine wash blew standing water free from the landing site, into swollen gutters at the periphery. Unaffected by the buffeting, two rows of three stormtroopers each stood at parade rest, while a visibly-chagrined officer fussed with the high collar of his raincoat, trying to keep the gusting rain from running down his neck.

    The gangplank lowered with an unappreciated slowness, the whine of servomechanisms barely a whisper behind the rainfall. A peel of thunder swallowed the rest of the din entirely before purring back into the clouds. In the relative passing quiet, two silhouettes stepped out into the rain. One was attired similarly to the greeting officer, in a regulation rain-resistant officer's overcoat. The other was unmistakably alien, a shape that walked in a low crouch on all fours until clearing the egress, where it seemed to roll upwards into a tall, slinking figure.


    "Colonel Hartten." The creature spoke in an unexpectedly-feminine voice, with a low and slightly raspy register. It, perhaps she, also had a distinctly coreward accent, which seemed unusual to Harrten, given his own prejudices and experiences. The whole of the unlikely encounter put the Colonel decidedly off-balance.

    "I, ahem, are you the Inspector? We're expecting..."

    "Introductions can be handled later, I do not wish to dawdle outside in the rain."

    The alien gestured, and the Imperial Army Captain next to her provided a code cylinder. Harrten gestured for a trooper, who approached with a shiny black R3 droid. The code cylinder was inserted, producing a pattern of affirmative beeps. The Colonel understood the unsaid meaning - his guest had high upper echelon clearance. That, in combination with the prominent metallic cylinder he could now see clasped to the alien's back in a scabbard could only mean one thing.

    She was an Imperial Knight.

    Attracting the attention of the ISB was uncomfortable enough. This was possibly worse. But no matter how bad it was, Colonel Harrten didn't want to air this matter out in the open any more than his uninvited guest did. He nodded, sending a few heavy drips of water down the brim of his cap.

    "Of course." He crisply extended a gloved hand to the door. "This way."

  2. #2
    The metal doors clanged shut, at last sealing them away from the elements. A junior enlisted officer stood post at the door with another pair of troopers, and Captain Orgern promptly unfastened his rain coat, passing it to the man to stow. Colonel Harrten did likewise. Imperial procedure had as many firm creases as Imperial clothing. Even something as minor as dispensing with a soaked rain jacket had a process.

    The trio walked in silence, and remained in silence when boarding a tram that delivered them directly to the palace's central hub. A lift then carried them up to the tower. All throughout, no one said a word. The silence was only broken once the two officers and the Knight were permitted entry by code cylinder into Moff Gerrij's office. The massive window held a commanding view of the planetary capital below, shrouded almost wholly by the current rainstorm. Only when the doors clasped shut behind them did the Colonel dare speak.

    "We have monitored local band, outbound band, and HoloNet transmissions. There has been no talk of..." Harrten paused with an unpleasant expression, as if reluctant to finish the sentence.

    "...of the Moff's disappearance." Captain Orgern finished it for him, deepening Harrten's frown. That level of audacity would never be tolerated under the same chain of command, but this Captain was the Knight's creature. He might as well be a shoe shine boy, and he'd still be blasterproof.

    "Kidnapping, we believe."

    Captain Orgern's brows rose slightly. He glanced upwards to the Knight.

  3. #3
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    "That was not the explanation given to Coruscant."

    The Knight's broad tail thumped the polished stone floor like a meaty gavel as she straightened her imposing posture. She closed two paces with Harrten.

    "What else was left unsaid?"

    Harrten shrank back a step, not because of the unpleasant smell of the creature, but because he suddenly found himself in a dangerous position, before an Imperial Knight with the appearance of being materially obstructive. Stammering, he shook his head.

    "Not, not unsaid, no! It's just...new information we were given within the hour!"

    Adjusting his collar, Harrten took a breath, trying to regain composure.

    "Given? By whom?"

    The Knight seemed content not to press, but didn't relent much. Her dark eyes remained fixed as she deliberately crossed her arms across her black cuirass.

    "They didn't say, of course!" Harrten snatched off his cap, unconsciously smoothing a thinning patch of hair into an obedient and severe part, more out of habit than a need for it.

    "I, we, believe they were a courier working with the kidnappers. Thankfully it appears they also want to be discrete about this whole mess, likely because they figure we'll pay more to keep this out of the news! Can you imagine if this gets out? We're on the rebel frontier! We can't tolerate any appearance of weakness, certainly not here!"

    The frustrations began to pour out of Harrten as he paced, boiling off his nerves. The Knight said nothing.

    "Who met this courier?"

    "One of the planetary minister's people, I don't know their name."

    The Knight snorted with impatience.

    "I could get it for you though!" The minister's staff are under Imperial hierarchy, we...we use them to deal with local bureaucracy, soft..."

    "I am uninterested your local governance, Colonel." There was a metered tension to the Knight's seemingly calm words that hinted in no uncertain terms for Harrten to drop the topic entirely.

    "Deliver your contact to me. Where were the Moff's last whereabouts?"

    "The eastern district starport. He, he was inspecting the installation of new defensive batteries, I believe."

    The Knight simply glanced to Orgern.

  4. #4
    "I'll prepare the shuttle at once, Lady Vissica."

    Orgern clicked his bootheels, giving a curt nod before quickly making an exit, leaving Vissica behind with Colonel Harrten and a sudden dreadful realization.

    "You're...You're Matatek Sel Vissica?"

    The color seemed to blanche from the Colonel's rosacea-mottled face. He once again faintly attempted to part his hair down with a hand.

  5. #5
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    Vissica's inscrutable Selonian expression emoted nothing that an unaccustomed human could use to determine her feelings.

    "It appears that my reputation arrived here before I did."

    Her arms slowly uncrossed as broad, calloused forepaws hung to her sides.

    "Good. Consider it carefully Colonel. Let that inform you on what I expect from you."

    With no further need of an introduction, the Selonian left the office of the kidnapped Moff.

  6. #6
    Frasken rubbed his eyes. It was her. The Selonian Imperial knight. From Selonia proper. An adherent.

    And the planetary ministries thought that Frasken was the beast to deal with her.

    Of course, talking about the difference between Selonians across the stars to Imperial bureaucrats is an exercise in futility, so Frasken had to put up a brave face and go meet this knight. So far he thought that she would not be coming, and he had waited for the better part of three hours, hoping that she would not arrive for some contrived reason the Imperials were so good at making up. However, his hopes were dashed as usual. He had little choice in what to do next.

    Taking a deep breath, Frasken made his way towards the shuttle. Adherent or heretic, any Selonian would prefer to have their job done as quickly and efficiently as it could be.

  7. #7
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    The task of investigation had kept Vissica busy. She had spoken with the master of the port, who had been quick to pull all security holograms. These showed frustratingly little. The Moff's speeder could be seen arriving in one, leaving in another. There were a few minutes of footage of the Moff with a small entourage. None of it appeared out of the ordinary, apart from the small gaps of coverage and time in places.

    "We believe that the hologram footage has been altered, though I'm not sure how a slicer could do so." The master of the port, a lieutenant by the name of Sarrell, brought up a map of the security network. "There are twenty three projector nodes that cover this facility. A slicer could physically access it at any point, but to not be picked up by other sensors, or even the patrols?"

    Vissica didn't understand technical matters, but she saw no reason not to defer to expertise.

    "We have the question. I want the answer."

    Movement caught the Knight's attention, and she glanced beyond Sarrell, noticing a Selonian. A male Selonian. Vissica's whiskers raised slightly. She could sense his intent in her direction as he separated himself from other personnel passing by.

  8. #8
    Captain Orgern noticed the shift in Vissica's attention before he saw the other Selonian, but once the alien had stepped into the open and it was clear it was headed towards the shuttle, he arched an eyebrow.

    "A friend of yours, my Lady?"

  9. #9
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    She didn't look in Orgern's direction or make any direct rebuke, but the pause before speaking held unexplained gravity.

    "No."

    With a slow exhale, Vissica passed the datapad in her paws to the officer, and closed distance.

    "Who are you?"

  10. #10
    It took Frasken a few seconds to register that the Selonian knight was talking to him. She was tall - very tall. And she didn't know who he was.

    "Me? Oh. I am Kenra Rel Frasken, representative of the Graven Den to the Imperial provincial government of Graven Prime."

    Frasken took a deep breath. Did he say that too fast? The knight's impassive look still held, and that could mean a great number of things, none of them pleasing.

    "I have been sent here to help you, Lady... Vissica," said Frasken, hoping that she did not realise that he almost forgot her name. "How may I do so?"

  11. #11
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    Vissica's brow creased as the male spoke - not in their native Mandaba but in galactic basic, as she had. He spoke the alien language with the quick ease of a sister of a social caste, but he obviously was not one of that order. Withheld suspicions began to deepen, and were cemented at the mention of his den name. However, the intention she sensed from this deviant stemmed from something else - and pertinent to her investigation. That he already knew her name hinted at that as well.

    "You are the witness?"

    Her tail dragged the ground in a slow turn, awaiting clarification.

  12. #12
    “Witness?” It did not take long for Frasken to realise that the knight did not possess a high opinion of him.”I am not a witness.” The Selonian forced a smile. “I am allowed to obtain witnesses in order to assist you in your investigation, Lady Vissica. Though the lack of holorecordings signify that the task at hand is not to be simple...”

    Frasken’s voice trailed off and his whiskers twitched when he realised that he was going off track. It was probably time for a display of loyalty. ”To summarise, I am here to serve you as much as I can.”

  13. #13
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    Frasken even mimicked the expressions of humans and other such aliens. Vissica had seen the pantomime before when she was young from drone sisters in her own den in the social caste. It looked disturbing, the way their flews drew up into what she later understood to be a smile. But it was one thing to see a sister in the social caste mimic aliens they would be asked to interact with, and another entirely to see a breeder male do it. The whole act felt indecent.

    With effort, the Knight internalized and packed away her immediate displeasure. It would be of no use to her mission as it appeared before her. She curled the thick digits of her forepaws under the lower seam of her cuirass in an approximation of parade rest.

    "Then you may serve me in producing the witness I seek, Kenra Rel Frasken. The provincial government indicated an official made contact with a courier who was involved in illegal activity. I wish to question this official."

  14. #14
    “Very well.” Frasken nodded pathetically. Judging by Lady Vissica’s look of disapproval, he had quite severely underestimated her dislike for him. “I shall lead you two to her. This way, please.”

    The male Selonian swiftly turned and walked away quite briskly. It would be good for Frasken’s job record if he was able to finish his task ahead of schedule. Having his arteries be out of reach from the claws of an angry Imperial Knight would benefit him just as much, if not more.

  15. #15
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    Captain Orgern looked prepared to accompany the Knight and the male Selonian, but he was stayed with a gesture.

    "I expect your report when I return, Captain."

    Nor did Vissica peel away any of the assigned troopers for escort. If this Frasken was her intermediary, she preferred to deal with him alone. At least he seemed to understand her urgency, walking on his hind legs at a brisk clip while maintaining decent posture among fellow bipeds. When Vissica was assuredly out of earshot of her colleagues, she spoke to her guide.

    "You have been trained in the social caste."

    It wasn't a question, but rather an invitation to elaborate on her observation. Vissica's coreward accent remained cool as slate as she kept with his pace. She couldn't be certain of why, but the Knight retained her suspicions. This line of questioning bordered on self-indulgence. She would only entertain it so long as it didn't interfere with her mission.

  16. #16
    "Oh yes." Frasken managed a nervous smile while he managed a brisk pace, having no desire for Vissica, the taller of the two, to catch up. "I have been trained in the ways of communicating with humans. The Gravan Den granted me special permission to become proficient in my current duties."

    The younger Selonian's legs ground to a halt. The knight would surely be unimpressed by that answer he had just given. "Our- our den has its own traditions which are different from your homeworld since our ancestors departed, Lady Vissica. Would you care for an explanation?"

  17. #17
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    Death to the enemies of the Empress is mandatory. Pants are optional.
    Matatek Sel Vissica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    AKA
    Charley
    Location
    Where the Empress commands
    Posts
    799
    Frasken's confirmation of Vissica's observation only seeded her suspicions, which the male then confirmed. He paused, forcing the Knight to begrudgingly do so as well.

    "You are from a heretic den?"

    Vissica's brow knit with ingrained disapproval. Selonians were by their nature slow and careful to reach consensus, and difficult to reconcile when that consensus was broken. It led to a society that rarely warred among its own people, but with deep rifts as a result of whenever they did. For a den to leave the group identity - willingly or not - was rare and painful. Vissica was not a historian in her den - there were other sisters who were responsible for that task, and who no-doubt understood precisely what transpired with this den and the exact nature of its betrayal.

    The Knight opened her mouth, as if to entertain the offered explanation, but then promptly closed it, changing her mind.

    "No. That is not material to my mission."

    A suspicion lingered, however. She crossed her arms.

    "Your kindred may have broken from the Overden. That cannot be changed. Do I have reason to doubt your allegiance to the Empire?"

  18. #18
    Frasken should have remained silent when he still had the chance. But words that had already left the mouth cannot be retracted. He would have to deal with things quickly and cleanly.

    ”Our den is loyal to the Empire without a single doubt, and nothing would change that,” said the Selonian as calmly as he could. “We may have split with the Overden, but we shall remain loyal to our Empress and her commands.”

    The male then decided that a change in subject would be in order. “What do you intend to do to the witness?”

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •