Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 21 to 33 of 33

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

  1. #21
    Baska quirked a brow at Bismarck's response, although it made sense. She appreciated that he took the whole thing seriously. It didn't surprise her much given her past experience with him. Despite a tendency to revel in oratory displays, he was a man who valued results.

    Although she didn't verbalize anything to his remark about them sharing commonalities, she agreed with the observation. As they had gravitated towards each other for multiple reasons, respect had not been earned for surface-level reasons but for shared ground greater than what met the eye. The blonde hadn't always been sure what to make of this; but she had simply carried on with this unexpected alliance, letting it turn into whatever it might become. She wasn't one to have high hopes anymore, building life block by block.

    Her new life with the Empire was definitely a twist of fate but not the first one that the Force had landed into her lap. Truth be told, Bismarck intrigued her in more ways than one.

    She let him choose the droid of his choice to practice. She chuckled darkly when he said she hoped she would enjoy the show.

    "I am flattered, Admiral. It shall be a sight to behold."

    Leaning against one of the walls, she gave him space for his match, her focus sharpening and never leaving him as the droid almost handed his ass to him. The way Bismarck won the fight showed there was more potential.

    After the end of the fight, she returned the powered down droid, now slightly damaged, which was always a good sign, to the to-be-repaired side of the target rack. She glanced at the Admiral over her shoulder.

    "Not entirely, indeed."

    Pivoting on her feet, she walked back up to him. "The way you got close was a good opening and gave you solid footing. The end was good too, because you were really using your body instead of just your fists. In between, you were on point for a normal spar; but you underutilized your elbows and shoulders."

    She canted her head, her blue eyes searching his when an idea came to mind.

    "Try me,"
    she added, beckoning him. Even if his breath hadn't returned to normal, it mattered little for they had no idea what they would find during their mission.

    "No Force trick, I promise."

  2. #22
    Rigel looked at Baska as if she had just offered him the head of a Mon Calamari for dinner. 'No Force trick indeed.' "It would hardly be a fight otherwise," he responded. "Well, I suppose I haven't had enough ego bruising for one day. Very well. Let's pretend I have some competence in this area for a bit, then."

    Baska produced two pair of protective fighting mitts, offering one to Rigel. In an attempt to take some of Baska's advice to heart, he shouldered his way into close range and offered a trio of quick jabs. None connected, but then, he had not anticipated landing any blows on Baska regardless.

    Not in the mood for an extended waltz, Rigel decided to adjust his tactics. "Let's get this over with, shall we?" said the Imperial just as he darted forward in a vulnerable maneuver designed to allow him a clear hit on Baska's torso.

  3. #23
    They both knew she would win this, having had to fend for herself even in gruesome ways, for more almost three decades; but this was not about who won and who lost. It was about pushing him, as challenging each other in various spheres had been a motif since thee early days of their alliance.

    Baska had been a one person operation for too long and negotiating any sort of collaboration was a drastic change.

    As the dance began, a far cry from high society civilization, she parried with ease but was glad that he heeded her advice. The split second before he went for a clear hit at her chest, she decided to let it collide, relieved to see that his gentleman polish fell down when required. She took a step back before ramming into him, using the brief shock that stilled him.

    His next moves remained aggressive, which pleased her, for it was the whole point of the fight. He was not a seasoned underworlder; but between academy training and some extra pointers, he would likely be able to sustain some dirty fighting.

    Using the momentum of one of his blows, she grabbed his wrist, pulling him to her before sweeping his feet off from under him, the two of them landing on the floor. Her knees hit the metal hard, but she cared little about it.

    "Much better," she replied with a feral grin.

  4. #24
    Rigel shook his head to clear the shock of his impact with the floor. "Better for you, perhaps," he replied sourly.

    Still, when Baska stood and offered him a hand to help him to his feet, he accepted. These were useful lessons and pride could only be allowed to get in the way of them but so much. "Don't misunderstand," added Rigel. "I do appreciate your time and advice. It's simply been awhile since I've lost a combat."

    "Speaking of which, given your weapons expertise, I have to imagine that other Imperial leadership finds your combat prowess quite handy. Has your arrangement with our government been one of mutual satisfaction?"

  5. #25
    Baska was surprised when he accepted the offered hand. She could tell he was disgruntled about the ordeal, and she understood a wounded pride. She'd dealt with her share of it.

    She clicked her tongue at his next remark. "Well... You've seen me more more distraught than I would have liked to have an audience for. The few who've seen me like that generally didn't live to tell the tale."

    She meant it both in regard to her lost companion and how she normally went through life and licked her wounds alone.

    "I didn't like when you told me that civilization was about bringing people together back then; but your words stayed with me."

    Removing her training mittens and putting them away, she chuckled at the Admiral's thinly veiled query about her position with the Empire.

    "I happen to be very handy to the Empress, indeed."

    Given how instrumental he had been in her decision to join the Empire in an official, albeit confidential, fashion, she trusted him to know the truth.

  6. #26
    Rigel's disappointment faded, replaced with satisfaction. He knew he hadn't been wrong about Baska. "Indeed."

    "Well," he continued, removing the sparring mitts and offering them to Baska. "I am certain the feeling is mutual. I also hope that the personal partnership the two of us have developed can be read as an extension of your continued satisfaction with the Empire."

  7. #27
    Taking the offered sparring mitts, she put them away as well, sensing Bismarck's positive reactions to the news, for he was smart enough to read the obvious between the lines.

    "You sold the Empire very effectively, Admiral. It takes a lot to convince a lone wolf like me to do any sort of team work; but I know it's been the right decision."

    She gestured for him to follow her as she exited the training room.

    "Also being pinned as your hired hand due to our previous joint ventures is a convenient cover. Granted, my adamant refusal to change ship might also mark me as an eccentric contractor."

  8. #28
    Rigel chuckled. "The first time you ran an errand for me, my second, Captain Volscanis, asked me if we wouldn't do better to send Imperial resources. 'I mean no disrespect,' he said, 'But for something as simple as breaking a pirate lair an overwhelming show of force usually reminds them there are consequences to what they do.' I told him: Alan, never underestimate the effectiveness of someone wholly connected to their work. When you returned with a stolen freighter whose cargohold contained 100 kilograms of refined coaxium and 10 tons of raw aurodium, he agreed that you were an appropriate asset well-worth the price of your contract. I have yet to hear any other contrary opinions on your 'hiring'."

    The ship vibrated briefly, throwing the two of them off their strides. Then a dull alarm went off; Rigel recognized it as the tone used to signal an approaching gravity well on independent freighters. "Sounds like we're here," Rigel noted. "I'll go grab my gear. Shall we meet in the cargo bay once you've docked us?"

  9. #29
    Their first encounter had been bizarre to say the least, and their alliance had developed against most odds; but the Admiral knew how to think outside of the box, which was likely why he had risen in the imperial ranks. She grinned at what he shared about that contract.

    "It was a good heist. That freighter had some great upgrades as well, and don't forget the few bottles of Setalian wine that I snagged while investigating their base."

    Pirates were very hit and miss with their personal tastes but she had made sure not to pass on that. "Most of the pirates didn't much of a push to turn against one another."

    The ship fuel would have been destroyed when the explosives she had placed went off. The Admiral's expression had remained mostly neutral when she had delivered the spoils; but she had sensed the shock of some of his people. It was a successful mission for sure, and the first of several.

    When the alarm went off, she knew that she'd need to get changed after landing. She nodded to Bismarck. "Let's do that."

    She headed to the cockpit and smoothly exited hyperspace a few minutes later. Their destination only had basic planetary security and she used one of the many fake transponders she had gathered over the years, this day marking her ship as the Azure Viper. They had agreed on the trade town an hour away from the enclave of cultists, so they would get information. The spaceport was bigger than expected but it was a good sign because its occupation signaled a fair number of travelers. So that was better to blend in and gather information.

    She took a few extra minutes to take the shortest of showers and change clothes, given how many hours she had been training. Dressed in black save for her blue tunic, she had a dagger attached to her utility belt, the other around her ankle, and her lightsaber was attached to an inside hook in her jacket. She had a few poisonous darts hidden in a pouch but no blaster. She knew how to use them but they had never been her favorites. After all, she was the arsenal in the first place.

    Making it into the cargo bay, she was about to lower the boarding ramp when a last question popped up in her mind.

    "What name are you using while we're here? I just go by my first name in such cases."

  10. #30
    "My given first name as well, of course," Rigel replied. "As I'm neither an actor nor a spy, it strikes me as a fine way to avoid any failure to answer to the 'right' name at a critical moment. It should do fine as long as you don't yell my full name out as though you'd just caught 10-year old me with a hand in the croissant tin."

    With that said, the two of them collected what gear they intended to bring and exited the ship. After a few minutes' work negotiating for the use and security of their berth, the two of them found themselves on the outside of the docking bay. Situated as it was on higher elevation, travelers exiting the bay had a view of the surrounding area.

    Before leaving Sillesk, Rigel had consulted the planetary archives for any useful information about Granta VII or its inhabitants. Beyond the standard information on location, habitability, population, and government, Imperial records offered few details that might give the reader a sense of the planet's flavor. There was mention of a city (but just the one) and that the majority of the colonized land had been given over to a lower technology lifestyle, but the entry gave no hint as to whether that translated to a close-knit agrarian community fixed in one place, a loose collection of wanderers chasing local beast herds, or something else.

    To say the city before him almost, but not entirely, met expectations would be the most precise measure of its impression on Rigel. As far as the eye could see, there were building clusters. The coloration and design of each cluster offered hints as to their purpose. Green buildings seemed to offer or store food, brown buildings displayed handcrafted furniture or textile goods, silver buildings offered anything from metal commodities to vehicles, and so on.

    The largest buildings were colored a pearlescent white. They also came with the most artistry in their design. Given the ceremonial clothing some of the occupants seemed to wear, Rigel assumed their purpose to be religious in nature.

    Though the space berth was not large, it nonetheless seemed to be in continuous use. A steady trickle of travelers both entered and left the docking areas. None of them wore particularly fine or elegant clothing, but even the casual observer could spot denizens wearing clothing whose manufacturing quality measured several levels above homespun garments. This was not a wealthy place, but neither was it poor.

    Most critically, it was active. Here and now, this was a place of relevance for the solar systems in its neighboring proximity. With the right guidance, who knew what it might someday become?

    Having gleaned what he could from the city's further reaches, Rigel's eyes refocused on his immediate surroundings. That was when he saw the cat.

    Black-furred and golden-eyed, the cat lay atop a nearby stack of crates with one paw dangling off the nearest edge. As Rigel watched, the cat stood, yawned into a full-body stretch, then caught sight of he and Baska and froze. After a moment, the cat settled into a position where it could watch the two of them.

    "Oh, you've got some luck comin' in yer future!"

    "Beg pardon?" Rigel turned to face the speaker, a human of late middle-age with a round, jovial face. The man stood next to a droid with a back panel open, a hydrospanner in one hand.

    "Y' been cat-blessed!" he replied, gesturing in the direction of the creature with the spanner. "They say when a cat gets curious about a traveler, it means they'll find good fortune while they're here."

    Rigel looked back to the cat; for its part, the creature had done nothing other than continue its observation, its posture alert and interested. "Good fortune would certainly be welcome on this trip. Tell me: are there any welcome centers around?"

    The man nodded and gestured towards the top of a nearby set of stairs. "Down th' stairs and straight ahead. Hard t' miss."

    "Much obliged," Rigel said, flipping a credit chit in his direction.

    The older fellow caught it with a smile. "May th' Empress favor yeh!" he said, and turned back to the droid.

    Rigel looked to Baska. "I was thinking we might check for infoguides and tours as a means of getting further acquainted with the area. Unless you have a better idea?"
    Last edited by Rigel Bismarck; Apr 25th, 2021 at 10:26:50 PM.

  11. #31
    Baska offered a simple nod to acknowledge the Admiral's preference for their time on the planet. She thought it was the best option, especially since he wasn't a trained operative, his strengths lying elsewhere. Her expression betrayed none of the amusement his remark about catching his 10-year old self red-handed brought; but she had a good inner chuckle. She had had her share of such moments at that age.

    The sights they found after exiting the ship matched what she had looked up about Granta VII. It reminded her of the region in which she had grown up on Tanaab, where she would sometimes accompany her father to check on some of the farmers that worked for him. This felt like several lives ago.

    Not letting her mind run away down memory lane, the Sith returned to her observations and noticed the ceremonial clothing doned by multiple locals, which made her think that the whole Cult was more like an actual religion that isolated zealots. This might actually work in their favor. Baska knew that certain forces were at play, some that defied normal understanding. She was a testimony to it; but she also recognize that decisions boiled down to people, whether they had the capacity to stand on their own two feet, or were puppets to those who could pull the strings.

    The place was more active than she had expected; but that could also prove useful. She was curious and so far didn't feel anything particular tug at her senses; and she would continue to stretch her perceptions out. While Bismarck had been an unexpected travel companion, she was the one who had been sent here, even though she recognized that the Admiral had brought the situation to the Empress in the first place.

    Baska's attention returned to Bismarck and she caught him staring at something, which happened to be a cat. She wasn't sure who was staring most. She quirked a brow at the older man who seemed to consider the furry beast a good omen. She bowed her head somewhat demurely, seeking to blend in for the time being.

    "I will take any blessing, long live the Empress."

    After one last look at the cat, she nodded to Bismarck's suggestion. "That's a good start. We'll get a first look at the area, and find which eateries are the most popular."

    She grinned to him. "With how the place is laid out beginning from the center seems our best shot."

    Eriadu, seven months prior.

    The first two days had unfolded without any problem, which wasn't surprising as some of the guests had trickled in all the way to the previous evening gala, which she had spent shadowing the Admiral without interrupting his mingling with the upper imperial circles. She cared not what others thought of her, her only objective being to keep him safe. She wasn't the only excellent bodyguard, and she had already been keeping an eye on the possible competition. No matter how they had been vetted, it was highly probably someone of high rank was the mastermind behind the threat against Bismarck.

    Today marked the first set of lectures and speeches as part of the festival, one of them to be given by the Admiral. The Sith had kept true to her word and had kept watch the whole night while the imperial slept. Her resilience was proving in handy for such a mission. It was somewhat ironic to share quarters with someone for professional and platonic reasons; but nothing really surprised her anymore since she had crossed paths with Bismarck. She liked a challenge and she honored her debts, so no one would kill him under her watch.

    They were headed to the auditorium where he would deliver his first speech for the festival. While she doubted any attack would happen yet, her instincts leaning towards his next speech or during a reception, she knew better than to let her guard down. Flanking him, she let him exchange with some aristocrat who had been prattling for the past few minutes. The woman had given her a disapproving look, and Baska had just stared back. At least the view from the Sith's vantage point was probably the best the lady had to offer, although a gag would likely improve the situation.

  12. #32
    "Well, yes, of course," Rigel replied to the Lady Tamblin's comment. "Cold war is not an easy thing to live under. And yet, if the great culture of the Empire is to prevail, we must endure the hardship."

    "But the stress, Admiral! Such stress!" replied the Lady, fanning herself. "I haven't felt safe in over a year! I've no idea whether we might be assassinated, or be taken by bandits and left bereft of our holdings-"

    Rigel cut into her litany of potential dooms. "My lady," he began. "The Empire has not fought separatists and Rebels alike merely to be done in my common criminals and hired cutthroats. Your family has the backing of her Majesty and you need not fear such trivial threats. If anything, you must focus on fulfilling your own responsibility to the Empire. If the Empire prospers, you too, shall prosper."

    Though Lady Tamblin looked no more reassured than when she'd joined the conversation she did fall silent, clutching her rather lengthy hair braid in a sign of quiet anxiety.

    At that moment, Rigel felt a presence by his shoulder. He turned to look, catching a glance of one of the stewards. "Admiral," the woman spoke into his ear. "Your scheduled speech is in ten minutes. We are preparing the hall now."

    Rigel curtly nodded, then turned to his conversationalists. "Apologies. I must take my leave to deliver some prepared remarks. We will have to resume our discourse another time."

    The group nodded its acknowledgement of his departure and Rigel stepped away, almost instantly encountering Baska as he did so. Her ability to place herself such that she hovered without appearing to hover was exceptional. Rigel attributed it to the positional combat skills he knew she possessed. "I'm to deliver remarks in the main hall shortly. I'll need to ensure they have my recording ready to play, so we'd best make our way there now."

    The two of them arrived in the main hall with only minimal interruption - though many people wanted to be close to Director Bismarck, he had long practice at forestalling conversation without being abrupt - and Rigel quickly identified the estate production manager, one Ophelia Barnes. "Welcome, Director Bismarck," she greeted him. "Thank you for agreeing to address our guests."

    "It is only my duty, Manager Barnes," Rigel smiled courteously and extended a hand, which Ms Barnes gripped firmly. "You've quite the wrist strength. Were you ever in the armed services?"

    "Please, call me Ophelia," she smiled at the roundabout compliment. "And technically, I'm still in Army. I was a platoon sergeant before I took a blaster bolt to the knee five years ago. Lady Tarkin happened to hear about my misfortune and had me reassigned here on permanent detail. My experience allows me to manage both military and civilian staff. In fact, during these events I get to outrank everyone here except any Tarkin family members in attendance. The own the place, after all."

    A combat trooper? "From our admittedly brief interaction, you seem to have a strong handle on decorum and polite niceties for-" Rigel paused, looking for a word.

    Ophelia supplied one. "For a ground pounder?"

    "I was going to say for one not born into high society."

    Ophelia waved away his version. "Call me what I am. It's not like I don't know where I came from."

    Rigel frowned. "It takes skill to manage groups of people used to getting their way," he said with light sternness. "Do not discount your own competence - at least, not in my presence. I will be forced to object."

    Ophelia gave up the fight with a wave. "Come, let me show you to the speaking area. If you'll both follow me?"

    She turned and lead them to the dais at the back of the hall. Where there would normally be a table for the Tarkin family to seat themselves, there instead stood a lectern with a microphone for broadcasting. Just before the lectern was a sophisticated holotable. "Since we need to ensure speaker safety regularly, there's shielding on the dais," Ophelia explained. "You'll be on first, but we'll have it active during each speaker's session. There will be a tech inside the shield to help with the holotable, but he's the lead from the house maintenance staff. There shouldn't be any risk to your safety from him. Unless you would prefer otherwise?"

    Rigel gestured to Baska. "I'll defer questions of security to my companion," he said.

  13. #33
    While Baska knew that appearances could be deceiving, all she could sense from that noble drama queen was harmless, save for one's sanity. Thank the Force, she wasn't the one she was trying to wrap herself around. She gladly left that to Bismarck. She had her share of damsels in distress fawning over her in years past, and she liked being in the shadows and seemingly irrelevant for social advancement.

    As one of the stewards came closer, the woman spared her a look before moving to speak to the Admiral. Based on what she knew of Bismarck's schedule, it likely was technical set-up before his speech.

    Baska stepped closer to him as he broke away from the group he had been conversing with. She knew when to give him space and when to make her presence more visible. It was a fine line to walk but it had come naturally, even though it wasn't her usual circle of action. Having infiltrated many places and groups in the past had honed her skills; and she had also grown accustomed to how her unlikely ally operated over the last year.

    She followed him to their destination, which confirmed her expectation. He was a talker but he a skilled one. She took all of these opportunities for brief or longer interaction to continue discreetly picking up on surface thoughts and mind states; never too careful.

    Catching sight of Manager Barnes, Baska nodded to the woman. She had spoken to her on a couple of occasions, wanting to make sure she got a solid idea of significant players among the event's staff. The woman was competent and a survivor who didn't take chances for granted. The Sith could respect that. She also liked how organized the other woman was.

    She followed the exchange between Barnes and Bismarck; but as they made their way to the dais, she grew uneasy. It was the first time since they had arrived on Eriadu that she sensed the threat so vividly, and yet too distant to her liking. While she kept her expression neutral, she had a couple of questions when the Admiral included her in the conversation.

    "If I recall correctly, you said that only lead maintenance and their direct seconds were in charge of setting up not only the shields but the equipment, Manager."

    Barnes nodded. "Indeed. Chief Axolun always handpicks them. We do have some remote controls; but they are all encrypted as you can imagine."

    Baska nodded, still unconvinced, not by Barnes; but by whatever was hiding in the shadows.

    "Is the equipment inspected between speakers?"

    A voice boomed from the other side of the dais. "Not between speakers but between session, which is why I'm here early."

    A middle-aged man walked to them, soon introducing himself as Axolun. Baska exchanged a few more words with him, before letting him get to work.

    She returned her attention to the Admiral. "I will remain on the dais during your speech."

    She would stand far enough that she wouldn't draw attention; but close enough that whatever happened, she would be first row to protect him.

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12


Posting Permissions

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