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Thread: You're a Criminal as Long as You're Mine

  1. #1

    Closed You're a Criminal as Long as You're Mine

    "Identify verified. Stay on course, Ruby Wolf. Hangar South X9 prepared for landing," the clipped imperial's voice came through the speaker after the usual pause of clearance procedures.

    "Copy that," Baska replied before ending the communication. With a steel hand, she maneuvered her ship towards the assigned destination, fairly unfazed by the impressive presence the Imperial Destroyer Scythe presented in the vastness of space.

    She wouldn't go as far as calling this trip a habit over the past tumultuous year but it wasn't the first time she traveled there, and while she wasn't sure of the turnover of communication officers on the bridge, she had dealt with at least a couple different imperials there and she knew how her presence could be disturbing to some. She liked that to be bluntly honest, and regardless of their reaction, she didn't come to the Scythe to make anyone comfortable. She always came here on a mission. Nobody besides the Admiral knew that she was now mandated by the Empress herself as her Hand, the others simply believing her to be some eccentric outlaw with stellar skills that made her the perfect freelancer the Admiral hired every once in a while. It was not a first that certain imperials dealt with the underworld's greatest professionals and if Bismarck was known for one thing it was his understanding of hard work and skills.

    She saw the squad of storm troopers awaiting her in the landing bay. It didn't take her long to disembark after powering her ship down, for she didn't know how long it would take before she departed again, with her unexpected cargo. While she cared not, and might even enjoy, how she unsettled some of them, she had no reason to be a pest. Not only was she above that; but she had chosen this path, to serve the Empire because of people who had earned her loyalty when her life had gone upside down and back from hell again. She had survived many ordeals and was not scared of rising from ashes all over again and entering the Empress's service was such an opportunity. And she would not forget what Bismarck had done for her as well after their paths had had but little reason to cross after their first encounter.

    As much as Baska appreciated how the Empire was straightforward about what they stood for while the Alliance remained fairly delusional in their savior complex, it took specific individual for Baska to pledge any sort of allegiance; but she had done it, something she had carefully considered but felt in her bones was the right choice, even when it meant that her beloved daughter now safe and alive would be on the other side of a Cold War that always threatened to tear the galaxy apart again on a large scale, for no territories this vast could be truly at peace. Conflicts always occurred, blood was always shed, the food chain always prevailed. It was all a matter of scale.

    She let the storm troopers fall into their well-cadenced formation, knowing full well that her black and purple attire would draw its usual attention, as well as the two custom-made knives she was permitted to carry even aboard the Scythe. Last time she had stepped aboard, there had been three; but she had left her daughter with a few farewell gifts when leaving her on Bellataine, and one of them had been one of the knives that were a gift from Heyrina's father. It seemed only fitting that their daughter would keep one of the weapons.

    The maze of hallways and elevators were foreign no more to the Sith. Besides always learning new territories, she had made sure to learn a lot about the Empire since becoming Miranda Tarkin's Hand. With her high level clearance, she had access to a lot of information and being a voracious learner, she had dedicated a lot of time in between her missions and mentoring the Empress, to learn as much as she could about her new role and what it could entail. While she was aware that her rare skills were tremendous assets by themselves, she understood how important lifelong learning was not only for survival but also for optimal efficiency and quick thinking.

    When they reached the bridge, she could feel the change in the atmosphere although her facial expression remained impassible. Her Force abilities remained cloaked away from most imperials, just as her true role was a shadow, a whisper on some lips. She reveled in being anchored in figment of imagination and a potential nightmare to those unworthy. Sometimes the tales let reality follow its course with fewer disturbances.

    The storm troopers fanned out and eventually let her step forward, which she did without hesitation. As she came to a halt, she laced her hands before her, a slight bow of her head a token of respect for the man who had become an unexpected ally. She had only ever knelt before their Empress since the days of her Sith training.


  2. #2
    She was here sooner than expected.

    Which was, on the one hand, good. Expediency was an admirable trait, doubly so when there was an emergency. On the other hand, it sometimes created problems it was meant to solve.

    Rigel beckoned the Scythe's captain over with two fingers. "Alan," he asked quietly. "Has Blackhawk squadron returned yet?"

    "No sir," replied Captain Alan Volscanis. "Last word we had was that they had finished their R&R and were returning to us from Ozul. That was five hours ago."

    Ozul was an eight hour flight.

    "Very well," Rigel nodded, deciding as he turned to greet the visitor. "Alan, I'm initiating Protocol Seven. After they arrive, re-route the Blackhawks to Ata-Toaca with instructions to meet me in ten days' time."

    Alan offered a curt nod in reply, but his expression betrayed his surprise to Rigel. "Sir, are you sure this is wise? If the Model Society were to lose its director-"

    "Then another would step up." Rigel clasped Alan's shoulder and gave his deputy a nod. "For the Empire."

    "For the Empire." Volscanis returned.

    Rigel smiled, gave Alan's shoulder a quick couple of pats, and turned to face the one element on his bridge not actually under his control. "Lady Tankreyd, it has been some time. I'm afraid there's been a slight change of plans. I'll need you to accompany me to my quarters."
    Last edited by Rigel Bismarck; Feb 24th, 2021 at 10:10:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Baska watched the proceedings in complete silence, her senses still casting an instinctive net across the bridge and its occupants. She had no reason to suspect anything foul here and there; but old habits died hard, and she hadn't survived as much as she had without keeping her guard up. Now that she had doubled up that need as the Empress's Hand, it made even more sense.

    Being addressed as Lady Tankreyd by the Admiral reminded her of that weird first time they had met, which felt as if it had occurred in another lifetime, even though it was merely over a year prior to the present day.

    She merely quirked a brow at his invitation to accompany him to his quarters. While it was an appropriate location to discuss classified matters. It nevertheless amused her that it might fuel other types of rumors, which she was perfectly fine with.

    "Lead the way," she replied courteously.

    As they headed towards their destination, she couldn't help tease, remembering a previous time they had worked together.

    "Shall I understand that you are making the threat to get me a proper designer gown a reality? You could have just had it delivered by courier, if so."

    The Sith recalled that animated conversation about dress codes when she had worked as his bodyguard in the upper circles.

  4. #4
    Rigel shook his head. "I'm afraid fitted dresses are not on today's agenda. Or at least, not yet anyway."

    "You are here earlier than I had anticipated," he noted as they continued traversing the Scythe. "Under most circumstances, I would commend your expediency. Unfortunately, the team I had intended to escort you out to Granta VII has not yet returned."

    Rigel stopped before a turbolift and keyed the call button. "This team had their own mission I needed them to perform and since you were headed out that way anyway, I made arrangements for you to be their courier. To ensure they would be ready and capable, I allowed them shore leave. Their current absence is my own fault; they are on the timetable I ordered. I had not anticipated you to be here as early as you were"

    The lift arrived and Rigel gestured for Baska to enter with only a lightly gallant flair. "I might otherwise request that you wait until they arrive," he said as he followed her inside the lift. "However, I have strict instructions not to delay your departure for any non-emergency reason. Needless to say, that limits my alternatives."

    The lift doors closed and it began speeding them towards the Scythe's officer deck. "After considering my options, I have decided the best plan is to go myself, undercover. No bodyguards or other agents will escort me, as their presence would immediately compromise my identity."

    The lift slowed to a stop. "Long tale short, I will need to be the one attending to you this time."

  5. #5
    Baska simply smirked at Bismarck's retort regarding fitted dresses. She bet she would have opportunities to do this again at some imperial gala in the future, even though she was grateful the Empress was fine with the Sith operating outside of the realm of the uniforms. It also helped keeping some people either in thinking she was only some eye candy on someone's arm, or was just an eccentric individual operating at the edge of the system, which in a way she was. Most mortals just had no idea how much she could impact them should they choose to get in the way of Empress Tarkin.

    The past year had been a whirlwind both personal and professionally, and by some weird development, the Admiral had become one of the few constants during these difficult times. The blonde had no particular way to qualify their partnership; but it remained that they had not only worked together on multiple occasions, earned each other's respect, and as much as she hated to admit it, the imperial had witnessed some of the direst moments regarding her reunion with her daughter. Having survived on her own for over two decades now, Baska was not one to allow people too close; but what had threatened Heyrina had forced her to reconsider.

    She waited to see what he had to say, walking in silence with him as he exposed the situation. She entered the lift when invited to do so, slightly amused by his manners, for good manners hadn't always been things she had dealt with. While she might look somewhat barbaric aboard an imperial destroyer, she blended well in many circles. While she had operated as hired muscle for the Admiral, they had also connected over their appreciation and understanding of the importance of culture and history.

    She raised a brow as he explained what had happened to the team he had planned to have escort her to her destination of Granta VII. She had expected him to send some of his people. Although her mission was on behalf of the Empress, the situation had come to light because of issues pertaining to some of the Admiral's projects.

    When he said that he was coming along, she raised a brow, staring at him as the lift came to a stop. While her slightly mischievous side wanted to jest about it, her professionalism considered what was at stake above all else.

    "How long has it been since you personally dealt with the underworld, Admiral?"

    She was already running scenarios in her head for what it might mean for the mission. He had climbed up the ranks in the imperial military, and his accomplishments were numerous, for she had definitely read through all his file at this point, besides her first-hand experience with him. Yet the underworld was a whole other beast.

  6. #6
    "For a day? Many times," Rigel replied. "But those instances where I had to 'live the life' for a week or more are far fewer. I can recall seven such occasions offhand. Maybe eight if I'm being generous about a particular incident."

    Rigel waived the details aside; the point of his under-exposure was certainly made. "It is not a catalog of experience one could extract meaningful lessons from."

    The pair had reached Rigel's quarters. He plucked the code cylinder from his pocket and initiated the unlock sequence. "Well, maybe one lesson," he corrected himself. "Take nothing you can't be without, but expect at least one of your belongings to be lost or stolen before the journey is done."

    The door finished opening and he led Baska into his quarters. He set it to close and then, back to Baska, began to unbutton his uniform shirt. "I will need a change of outfit, of course. However, I would appreciate any guidance you can offer on how I might otherwise prepare for this venture."

  7. #7
    Baska appreciated that Bismarck mentioned the difference between his one-day experiences and the ones pertaining to more extensive periods of times. She expected their missions, regardless of how embedded they would remain into one another, to span about a week between travels and time on location. She had faith that solving the mysteries and putting an end to unwelcome mingling, should not take too long.

    She kept her expression neutral even though she had some concerns about the Admiral's ability to blend in. She had come to learn many of his qualities over the past year; but even the vicious imperial circles could be vastly different form the free-for-all the underworld could be.

    The blonde couldn't help chuckling at his remark concerning getting something stolen during such "journeys" as he put it.

    "It's a question of habit, and positioning, when in challenging company."

    She took in what she could see of his quarters as she stepped inside. As he mentioned a change of outfit, she stepped closer to stand right behind him, carrying on from what she had mentioned earlier. She had noticed based on his movements he was unbuttoning his shirt, but she nevertheless proceeded with smoothly fetching the code cylinder he had returned to his breast pocket, holding it before him. She obviously would have done a much better job if she had actually meant to steal it from him. But she was here as a partner, not the enemy.

    "Also zipped inside pockets can do wonders. And always keep a concealed weapon on you."

    She stepped back, giving him space to disrobe.

    "Any brawling skills? Fights in cantinas sounds like an absolute cliche but it exists for a reason."

  8. #8
    "I have fought hand-to-hand many times," Bismarck replied, shrugging the uniform shirt off his shoulders and letting gravity help take it partway off. "Both in the heat of real battle and in more casual combat. Rebels have targeted Imperial leadership persistently for many years. Their successes teach the survivors how to be prepared."

    Rigel pulled his uniform shirt off his arms and hung it on the 'dirty' side of his worn clothing rack. He then began unbuttoning the inner dress shirt he wore. "I do keep a pair of gloves with shock knuckles sewn in. Comes in handy when in polite company where my preferred arms aren't available."

    He stepped into his wardrobe closet and began looking through some of his available outfits while continuing to undress. "Speaking of, I'm a bit sad I'll have to leave my vibrosword-cane behind. It's useful, but it would be more than a touch conspicuous where we're going. I would expect my heavy blaster pistol will fit in though."

    He reached a black kanuu-leather jacket and examined it. 'The right amount of simplicity, but too well-kept to be ignored,' he thought. 'Also not enough zipper-pockets, apparently."

    "I don't suppose you'd be willing to go shopping on my behalf when we make landfall?" he asked, reaching out of the wardrobe with a free hand and hanging his second shirt on the worn clothing rack "Most of what I have tends to draw the eye in some way. Unless you see something in here that would work."

  9. #9
    While they had been in each other's orbit on multiple occasions at this point, they had never got to their respective personal spaces that much. While she now found herself in his quarters, he would be traveling aboard her ship, which had been one of her two homes in the past twenty years. She generally preferred conducting business of any kind away from home. Yet it would make no sense to have Bismarck travel separately. The more under the radar they flew, the better it would be for the success of their missions.

    "Survival definitely requires both preparedness and quick wits."

    For what she knew of him, she didn't worry he wouldn't be able to hold his ground in a fight; but it didn't hurt to ask. While she knew how the upper circles of the Empire made for juicy targets, which had partially led to her current position with the Empress, some still thought themselves more out of reach than they truly were.

    "Those are good weapons options. I also have extras of various kinds aboard my ship. You are welcome to see if something suits you."

    Leaning against the door frame of his wardrobe closet, she grinned at his comment about his vibrosword-cane. "You are skilled with it; but it might only work if you posed as some eccentric purveyor of antiquaries, which is irrelevant to our missions."

    The next comment was one for the books among the weirdest things she had heard, and the Force knew she had heard a lot in her life.

    "I can be many things, Admiral, but personal shopper is not one of them."

    Without hesitation, she stepped forward and quickly took in how his wardrobe was organized. All formal attires and uniforms were irrelevant; but the section that appeared to hold miscellaneous garments could be the treasure trove. Being thrown on the streets in her early teens had her steal or thrift her own clothes on multiple occasions and she had no doubt she would find a fitting attire for her unexpected partner in crime.

    Browsing options, she handed two pairs of pants, one brown, one black, to Bismarck, along with two shirts that were nondescript enough but whose fabric was resistant.

    "Whatever most comfortable boots you have, pick them. There are enough knock-off or repurposed imperial boots in the black market that it won't sell you out."

    Finding the few jackets available, they didn't satisfy her. One of them was dark brown one would have to make do, despite its limited pockets, although at least it had an inner-zipped one.

    "Well, that should do, and saves us time to get started as soon as we land."

  10. #10
    At Baska's suggestion, Rigel selected a pair of older boots and extracted them from his shoe rack. He was still glancing over them when she handed him the jacket. Taking it from her outstetched hand, he examined it. "What is this?"

    Baska looked at him, puzzled. "It has an inside zipper pocket." Seeing her continued confusion, he elaborated. "I have never, in my entire life, willingly bought anything with an inside zipper pocket. Just isn't my style. So, I have no idea how I came by this jacket."

    He studied it for another moment. It had to be relatively safe. After all, it had gotten onto the Scythe, through any and all screening processes (including the ones linked to the opening of his quarters), and into his wardrobe where it had been hung neatly and properly, just as he would do it. "Well, fortune smiles upon us, I s'pose. I'll collect a few more things from my private armory, then we can be off."

    "And this time, you can be the one to show me your world."

    The Scythe's secure communications facility, seven months prior.

    "Lady Tankreyd," Rigel said when she answered the comm. "I find myself in need of some assistance and the Empress pointed me in your direction. I have certain duties I require someone irregular, shall we say, to fulfill. If you are not otherwise occupied for the next week or two, I could greatly benefit from your assistance. The work comes with a generous stipend, the knowledge you have aided the Empire in maintaining its stability, and the chance to see what it's like in the world of the Director for Societal Improvement. Does any of this sound of interest?"

  11. #11
    Iego, seven months prior.

    The past year had been a mess to put it mildly. She was incredibly grateful to know that despite the horrors she had had to go through, her beloved daughter had survived. She still wasn't sure how she felt about having found out her mother had survived after all these years. Discovering as well that she had a sister and how the Tankreyds were a powerful family in a small Alliance system, was something that had left her feel even more of a lone wolf than before if such a thing was possible. She had fought to build herself up, to gain power and resources and have solid autonomy. While her family had offered her to stay, she had declined. She had fought a lot to ensure that Heyrina was safe, having willingly taken leaps of faith, ready to pay debts, out of maternal love. And yet she had realized Heyrina would fare better on Bellataine. Their paths had collided only to unravel apart.

    Returning to Iego had been the intuitive course of action, where she could busy herself with more training, for even a Master of the dark arts must continuously push herself. She had spent the past four hours working on her combat skills and when her comlink beeped, she didn't care about how much of a mess she might look like as she had no intention of actually taking the call. Decorum in her home was irrelevant.

    The slightly disheveled blonde quirked a brow as she recognized who was contacting her and against all odds, she opened the channel. The imperial Admiral had proven an ally in the recent months and she was genuinely curious as to why he would contact her. Maybe she also needed a distraction. A brief grin curved her lips at being addressed as a Lady. Bismarck could be proper if not somewhat flowery in his speech manners; but he was also a pragmatic man.

    When he mentioned the Empress, she believed it had to be one of such episodes, for he had mentioned her eventually working for the Empire and more specifically Miranda Tarkin in the past. She didn't know what to make of it; but at this point she wasn't against it.

    "It does, Admiral,"
    she replied to his query.

    "Where and when do you need me?"

    They would likely hash assignment details out in person; and should she require specifics before traveling, he would provide them.

  12. #12
    "Eriadu, five standard days time," Rigel smiled. "And be prepared to mingle."


    Eriadu was well-known to be the ancestral home of the Tarkin family. Despite Empress Miranda Tarkin's permanent home on Imperial Center, she maintained strong connections to her family's homeworld. These connections regularly took shape in the form of societal events, such as the one Rigel was here to attend.


    Rigel looked up from the datapad he was reviewing to see that Baska had arrived. "Lady Tankreyd," he greeted her, "I am grateful you were able to attend on short notice."

    The Imperial stood, offering a gloved hand in welcome. "I see you are prepared for some aggressive mingling," he noted, eyeing the trio of daggers she wore. "That's good. I have it on very good authority that someone is going to try to kill me this week."

  13. #13
    While she had never traveled to Eriadu before, Baska had been familiar with what the planet represented for the Empire. She made sure to do extra research during her travels. "Ready to mingle" could have meant quite a few different things; but she believed that he hadn't requested her presence to be eye candy. He knew of her skills, and she was fairly sure he could have his share of decorative escorts, so she was here for a more pragmatic purpose. She appreciated he wasn't the kind of man to waste of time.

    Clad in a practical but stylish enough outfit, she had opted for her usual daggers, for carrying a lightsaber in the open was a dangerous faux-pas she had no interest in committing. She could tell that the attendant who led her to Bismarck wasn't certain what to make of her. She didn't care.

    She clasped the Admiral's hand when he offered it, bowing her head in greetings. She nodded at his observation about her visible arsenal. What he revealed next made a lot of sense; but she hoped to have more information. "Are you expecting a specific approach? Sniper, poison, close and personal?"

    She would watch over him, but a few more details wouldn't hurt. There was a fine line between a bodyguard and a chaperon.

  14. #14
    "Unfortunately, I genuinely don't," Rigel replied, gathering the few items that were on the table in front of him. "All I know is that someone will make an attempt on my life during the Paufunti Blossom Festival events taking place over the coming week."

    Rigel stowed his items in a satchel and gestured towards the door. "I received this information from Director Esalis of Imperial Intelligence. There is no love lost between the two of us - indeed, if someone were to find said love, the two of us would purposefully lose it again - but we are both loyal pillars of the Empire and we take care to ensure its stability. To that end, she passed along what warning she had."

    Rigel paused in the act of leaving the room, considering. "Of course, it isn't the first time another Imperial has threatened my life," he mused. "But it is such a disappointment that someone would make an attempt on the life of the new Model Society Project Director. One would have hoped to see some sign the Empire had grown beyond the casual brutality of Sheev Palpatine's reign."

    "At any rate," Rigel began again, exiting the room and holding the door for Baska. "It is what it is and I will deal with it."

    The room they had been in was the lounge area of the docking bay Rigel had been granted for the duration of his stay. Beyond the docking bay doors was a secure transport and an escort which would take them to the Old Tarkin Estate: a villa once-owned by the Tarkin family that had been ceded to the public many generations ago. Despite its status as a public landmark, Tarkin family funds often covered budget shortfalls for keeping the Estate in regular operation. Thus, the Estate served gathering hall, botanical garden exhibit, and even unofficial embassy under the right circumstances.

    The two of them were in the private section of the transport and on their way before Rigel spoke to Baska again. "I'm not sure how familiar you are with the Paufunti Blossom Festival, but here's some information on the gathering and the site where it's usually held," he said, offering Baska a datapad. "Because I am the Model Society Director, I have been asked to attend as an honored guest and will be speaking at points during the Festival. My instinct is that whoever wants to kill me will try to do it during one of my talks, just so they can have the satisfaction of shutting me up."

    The phrase prompted Rigel to recall the first time he and Baska had met in that strange asteroid laboratory hidden away in the Sillesk system. "Before I forget," he interrupted himself. "Is your daughter well?"

  15. #15
    Baska nodded to the Admiral's lack of details pertaining to the threat. She would have been thorough regardless; but at least she now knew that thinking from scratch was the only option especially with a week ahead of them. She somehow doubted the person would strike before the halfway point of the festival; but one could never be so sure. When he mentioned the source who had tipped him off, she appreciated that it came from such a higher up, and if the Admiral considered that she was reliable, she believed it.

    She hadn't retrieved her belongings yet, and would do so once she knew which quarters she would be staying at. Scouting the area never hurt, and she was already mulling over options as she listened to Bismarck, nodding her thanks as she accepted the datapad with the information pertaining to the Paufunti Blossom Festival.

    "You are in good hands," she replied sharply, for few could boast a Sith Master bodyguard. She knew some might view her choice to help as lowering herself; but she honored her debts, and Bismarck had gone above and beyond in the past few months, and ensuring his survival in such difficult circumstances was something she did without any second thought. He had earned her respect by now, and she couldn't say that of many people.

    "Congratulations on your new position. I am sure it ruffles some feathers; especially those who might not understand the power of civilization."

    That was one of the reasons why she now found herself gravitating towards the Empire more than the Alliance, which was all the more ironic now that she had found out about the rest of her family, nestled in what would be enemy territory given where she now stood.

    As if on cue, Bismarck inquired about her daughter. He had seen more than she would have wished to share with anyone; and still going through the terror of losing Heyrina over again, had it not been for her own power and imperial scientific genius, was something that hadn't left her feel like a complete foreigner like it had been to visit Bellataine.

    "She is doing much better, thank you for asking. She is staying with my mother and my sister."

    "Your offer was timely," she admitted, surprising herself.

    "I think you're right regarding someone attempting their kill during one of your speeches, though other options remain. I take it there will be various receptions during the festival, and depending on their approach, it might be more practical for them to disappear among the crowd."

    She paused, her mind already a parsec an hour, coming up with some basics that would ensure the Admiral's safety.

    "I forbid you to eat or drink anything I've not tasted first."

    She had been trained to do that for some crime lord shortly after being thrown into the streets by her brother when barely twelve, and she had continued to educate herself over the years. It wasn't a skill she got to use often; but she wasn't going to take any chance.

    "Also, I will be staying in your quarters. We can't rule out a stealth attack, especially as we have no idea how many people are involved. Even if we stop a first attempt, there might be a second."

    She was here to do a job, and she was going to do it well, though she wasn't heartless. She stared at Bismarck.

    "Should you wish for some carnal interludes, I can make myself invisible but will remain in the area if you have company. Turning a little death into a permanent one would be regrettable."

  16. #16
    Rigel had patiently waited for Baska to conclude her recommendations. When she offered her final comment, he laughed. "My dear Lady," he smiled. "No one else here is of any interest to me in that regard. You may rest assured that my trip is, and will remain, focused solely on the business of my station."

    "With that said, there are expectations about how one behaves at these sorts of events. Generous an offer though it is, I don't think you performing as my personal taster will go over well. The Tarkin family is the ultimate host at events held on the estate. No one would dare touch the food or drink; the Empress herself personally guarantees its safety."

    "Besides," he added. "At a gathering such as this, poisoned food has too much chance of killing the wrong target. Most likely, I'm preferred dead because I'm in the way of something someone else wants. They wouldn't dare risk their own desires so recklessly."

    "That aside, you do have a point. Poison through other applications, such as tainted daggers or needlers, is definitely a concern. One-shot holdout blasters, melee weapons, even micro-tensor devices are all controlled enough to kill a single target without harming anyone else. My experience is that the most likely threats are those from weapons concealable enough to sneak through security."

    The transport had been traveling as they spoke, but midway through Bismarck's last sentence it began to slow. They had arrived at the entry zone: a small guardhouse by the main entrance gate of the estate.

    A small cluster of humanoids stood before the guardhouse. The guards in the cluster were dressed in Imperial-reminiscent uniforms with visible House Tarkin crests. Most of he remaining people were dressed well, albeit in clothes which were obviously from the non-formalwear section of their respective wardrobes, making them likely important invitees. Though the cluster was fairly tight-knit, Rigel was also able to make out a few more nondescriptly-dressed individuals from among the crowd. He was not the only one to bring a bodyguard.

    "Ah, here we are," Rigel smiled. "Come: let's check in and receive our lodging assignments. We can discuss things further after we've settled in."

  17. #17
    The Sith Master took in what he said about the whole food aspect. While she didn't believe that anyone was truly safe even in an estate where safety was supposed to be guaranteed by the Empress herself. She had seen things in her life in the underworld, and even imperial refinement couldn't efface people's darkest and sometimes boldest schemes.

    "You have a point regarding public settings such as buffets or banquets, Admiral; but this still leaves other opportunities to poison you via food and drinks in quieter settings. In such cases, my decision stands."

    At least he realized how poison could be a solid option when it came to ending his life. "Are there poisons commonly used within the Empire? It doesn't mean your attacker would use one of those; but that would help us narrow down safety plans in the wake of an attempt." She could stop a lot of things; but a sneaky poison attack was something that could begin before she stopped anything.

    She left it at that when the transport reached their destination. She took the scene in, including the amount of personal bodyguards some guests had with them. She was aware that one of them, especially the kind who were more than simply dissuasive muscles, could be the attacker at a later time.

    "Alright," Baska curtly replied. They would have their belongings delivered at a later point, and she was planning to be thorough in checking everything was alright as well. Even though she had meant it that she would stay in his quarters, keeping whichever ones she had been assigned also offered a back up location.

    As they made it to a nearby lift after checking in, a faint grin curved her lips. "Do you have a track record of eccentric bodyguards or will I stand out compared to your usual?" She was fine either way; but she was a little curious because she did stand out compared to some of the other security personnel she had seen in the reception area.
    Last edited by Baska Tankreyd; Apr 1st, 2021 at 10:43:06 AM.

  18. #18
    In response to Baska's question on poisons, Rigel simply shrugged. Toxins weren't really his field of study; that he left to others more inclined.

    "Most often, I've attended such gatherings in a military capacity," he answered her second inquiry. "In such cases, it's expected that a trooper under my command would accompany me. Most had the good sense to remain low profile."


    The lift stopped and Rigel politely gestured for Baska to exit. The two of them navigated hallways until the located the room with the number corresponding to their key. "Here we are," Rigel smiled. "General check-in will extend until dinner. I will need to oversee the transfer of my belongings through security and escort them here. I imagine it will take you far less time to do the same. If you are so inclined to explore the estate grounds - get the 'lay of the land' - then we can reconvene here an hour prior."

  19. #19
    As they headed to their quarters, Baska considered the Admiral's suggestion. Exploring the area might be good and was something she would have done when younger and not as proficient as she now was with the Force. In the end, she considered that staying by Bismarck's side was the most prudent course of action. She would get the opportunity to get a solid lay of the land as they traveled across the various locations of the festivities and she would also use down time to do more research on the estate as well.

    "Given the situation, I will stay with you, Admiral. As you mentioned, retrieving my own belongings will take only a short time, so it will not put any wrench in your schedule."


    Present time, aboard the Ruby Wolf.

    They had departed over a day ago from the Scythe, wasting no time once the Admiral had gathered the few things he needed for their trip to Granta VII. They had spent several hours going over their plan after entering hyperspace. They weren't exactly sure how both their missions were connected but they certainly were, which made sense for them to investigate together, and given her extensive experience with the underworld, it was a safer option.

    The Cult of Miranda had been a local religious movement on the planet for several years. The population had seen benefits from being in the far reaches of the Empire, and what had started as a fraction of farmers idolizing the Empress had turned into a loose but larger spirituality. The Empire had let it be for it fostered reverence and had generally kept the peace. Things had recently changed as whispers of unrest had reached Imperial Intelligence, following disruption of trade in the system, which often stopped by Granta VII due to mining resources making it a solid refueling station, besides its practical location for the distance sector.

    It had seemed odd at first, even for imperial orderliness; but when a second and eventually a third shipment had got disrupted on their way to Sillesk, and nowhere else, something was definitely amiss and targeting the Admiral's territory. The scouting mission had talked of general unrest with an increase in visiting smugglers and mercenaries, as well as a change in the Cult of Miranda's fiercest supporters, threatening a schism among the worship, which was why Baska had been assigned for if such a thing started, it could cause trouble for the Empire, and a previous cult devoted to the Empress rebelling was unacceptable.

    As much as Baska had never thought she would be entering the Empress's service, or even profess allegiance to any faction, becoming Miranda Tarkin's Hand had given her direction and the work was always challenging her in new ways, including helping mentor her in the ways of the Force, something she had barely ever done with anyone before, too demanding and a loner to even consider taking on an apprentice. The Empress was a brilliant woman and Baska had come to understand what her people saw in her; but she also felt protective of the ruler.

    Her ship had enough space to accommodate two people aboard, and they had mostly crossed paths in the galley and the hallways since then. She had spent most of her time between her quarters, on the opposite side of where the two spare ones, one allocated to the Admiral, was, and the cockpit. But as they still had a few more hours left before reaching their destination, she had decided to go through some of her daily training. The reason there were only two spare quarters was that years ago she had turned the other two into a large room that served as extra storage for specific things and training space, instead of just doing that in the cargo bay.

    She had probably kept busy for at least two hours nonstop, practicing her telekinetic skills - which never were as good as she wanted them to be - and then had spent time with her blades, always making sure that she was as proficient with both hands, something she had worked on since her early days in the underworld and that had become all the more important when her late master had broken her main hand on several occasions early on in her training to force her to get stronger.

    Moving onto her lighsaber practice, she let the crimson blade come to life. She sometimes wished she got to use the weapon she had created on her own more often; but she knew that it was always a calculated decision given how her kind were considered in the galaxy. But their upcoming mission meant she would have it on her person. Completing a round, she looked up and caught the Admiral standing in the door frame. She didn't know how long he had been there. Switching the lightsaber off, she clipped the hilt back at her belt.

    "Anything I can do for you, Admiral? Did you want to have a look at more weapon options?"
    Last edited by Baska Tankreyd; Apr 2nd, 2021 at 11:21:00 AM.

  20. #20
    "Came for a bit of practice with my own," Rigel responded, raising his fists to display the gloves he wore. "I hadn't used them in a while and thought perhaps I might borrow an available target droid for practice. I hadn't expected you to have the same idea, though of course it makes perfect sense that you would."

    Rigel smiled lightly. "We do seem to have a few commonalities, don't we? Despite being on rather opposite sides of society."

    Baska nodded and moved to a nearby wall with several alcoves, gesturing him to choose. Rigel scanned the line, skipping past a trio of assassination droids - was that an experimental IG unit in the lineup? Only the best for a high servant of the Empire - and selecting one of the less lethal options: a four-armed hoverdroid with various target sensors marked on its structure. At Baska's activation, the droid powered up and began floating towards the middle of the practice area. "State desired difficulty," it requested.

    Rigel's lip arched in thought. It would not do, he decided, to use any setting which presented no risk of harm. "Hard," he replied, then looked to Baska. "You will be one of the few people with an opportunity to see me fail. I hope you enjoy the show."


    The droid hovered lightly as its programming engaged. Then it began jockeying for position; the repulsors pushed the droid left and right in short bursts, mimicking the back-and-forth motion of most martial arts styles. Rigel offered a few feinting blows to get close, then aimed a punch at the floating torso. Rigel's punch connected, but so did the droid's; as he hit, the lower right arm of the droid hit just inside Rigel's guard. Both combatants backed away, then re-engaged.

    The fight was brief, with the droid landing the majority of the punches. Despite this Rigel managed to be the clear winner. In the end, he managed to deliver a coup de grace on the droid by turning one of its punches into a shoulder throw and hitting its head with direct, clean knockout strike.

    He stood, breathing heavily. "I'll be sore for a bit, but it's good to know the Academy skills haven't entirely rusted."

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