With the opening of the Acrona Contract Bureau, it meant more paper work for Marick. The Hapan noble had signed up to become a master of the force and to one day be revered as the brotherhoods greatest duelist...not to be a glorified filing cabinet. Still, as with everything he was put in charge of (his Battleteam, the Arcona Arena, and now this) he gave his full attention and dedication. If it had to be done, it would be done right.
A sigh escaped the Hapan as his fingers darted over the keypad of his terminal while simultaneously reading two other data pad's. The sound of door sliding open didn't give the busy Arena Master reason to look away from his work.
"Can't you see I'm a bit busy right now?" His slight accent dripped with it's customary twinge of aristocracy. The room stayed quiet. Looking up slowly, Marick almost jumped from his seat but managed to only flash an expression of shock through his eyes. Sashar Arconae stood before him in full armor, arms folded politely behind his back.
"Oh, it's you." Marick grumbled, annoyed that he hadn't been able to detect the former Consul's presence sooner. Not that he would have been able to, but the proud Hapan would never admit that openly to himself. "What can I do for you, sir?"
"First you can cut the sir, kid." The Elder spoke calmly.
"Of course, sir." Marick replied just as casually, his face remaining stoic. "What brings you to my office?"
"Straight to business. I like that about you, Del'Abbot. I'd like to request a mission. Something to stretch the legs out a little."
Marick's eyes shifted from the Elder down to his terminal, then back.
"I think I have just the thing..." Marick said as he pulled out a tiny data-pad and flicked it towards the former Consul. Sashar caught it without so much as a flinch and began to read it.
Target: Alexi Dextrof
A feared politician renown for his silver tongue and uncanny ability to manipulate those around him. A master of psychology, it's rumored that he only needs 5 minutes in a room with someone to convince them to kill themselves. He is a thorn in the side of Arcona's relations within the Dajorra System and must be eliminated.
Known to employee a Cadre of body guards said to consist of former war hero's, bounty hunters, and even jedi.
Our intel places him on Estele City at one of his multiple estate's. All are equipped with the latest and some of the more advanced security measures/systems. There are a few blind spots that could act as points of insertion attached to the dossier below. An operative was actually killed getting this info, so don't let it go to waste. This is a S-CLASS mission.
Body Type: Slender
Charisma: ***** (5/5)
Persuasion: ***** (5/5)
Manipulation: ***** (5/5)
Languages: Numerous fluent
UNARMED * (1/5)
MELEE * (1/5)
RANGED ** (2/5)
FORCE PRESENCE (0/5)
"Master of psychology...tch" Sashar scoffed to himself as he stuffed the data pad into the folds of his robes.
"Do I sense a hint of...envy." Marick stated with a slight grin.
"Please." The former Consul dismissed the notion with his hand and offered a slight bow of his head and turned to leave. He stopped at a subtle raise of Marick's hand.
"It's not an S-CLASS reason for no reason, sir. There can be no evidence that a dark jedi was involved in this, let alone a member of Arcona. This cannot come back to us in any way shape or form. Do I make myself clear?"
A smile crept across Sashar's face as he glanced slightly over his shoulder back at the Hapan. "Piece of cake," he repeated, turning his head and exiting the office.
"Sithspit..." The Elder grumbled to himself as he made for his ship.
He shifted slightly, aware that every time he moved, small trails of dust fell from the rafter he was currently hanging from to drift down to the banquet in progress below him. Half of Estle City’s elite were congregated below him, all guests to the fast-becoming-infamous Alexi Dextrof. The Estate, actually a little out from Estle City’s walls, was a large farming estate used as a ‘country retreat’ for the politician, who had been disturbingly vocal about the presence of Arcona’s force users in the past. Security wasn’t bad – there were a pair of Whipid doormen who looked as if they knew how to use their vibro-axes, an umbaran hidden behind the decorative tapestry just behind the deader’s chair, and a smattering of nondescript humans dotted about the room in smart tunics, but the musculature beneath said adornment just screamed ‘former military.’ Two of them were also journeymen of Arcona, who’d decided the path of the Shadows wasn’t for them. To hide from them, he’d masked his force presence and had then bent what little light there was around him, making him effectively invisible. That wasn’t to say he wasn’t vulnerable: if someone pointed an IR sensor in his direction, they’d spot him, and likewise, if someone wanted to check why there were little specks of dust falling on the party-goers, he’d be just as screwed.
But, his training had been obsessive. He didn’t need the Force to help him dispatch this particular foe; it’d just help.
Getting into the estate hadn’t been too difficult. Forgoing his usual armour and robes, he’d forged an invitation after poisoning one of the guests the previous day, and used one of his multitude of fake identifications. Once inside, he’d made it to the ‘freshers, changed into his ‘grays’ and stashed most of his gear in the vents above Alexi’s bedrooms. He’d poked around in there and found pictures of his wife and son, as well as correspondence with a mistress who lived in a comfortable apartment in the upper city. Sashar wasted no time placing a forwarding virus in the terminal, and then proceeded to the security substation. Predictably, there was a single droid watching all the cam displays. He spiked the droid with a small EM needle, then placed another tap into the security’s mainframe, allowing him unfettered access to see whatever he liked within the estate. Only with these precautions in place did he proceed to get a look at Alexi himself.
“Smug little d’kut, aren’t you?” The Shadesworn thought to himself as Alexi gave a speech to his guests, thanking them for coming.
Evidentially, it was some sort of charity gala. Sashar’s lip curled in disgust. Realising that a toast was about to come, he hung by one hand and his knees and ankles as his free hand rooted in a small pouch on his belt for a custom-made pellet. He let go with his other hand so that he was dangling just by his legs and took careful aim. The pellet was released from physical grasp and immediately caught with the force, then slowly moved across the room to the far wall. It slipped behind the tapestry and travelled down (right past the Umbaran, who started at the movement, but with the near-complete darkness in his little murder-hole, he couldn’t spot anything and put it down to an insect). Once it reached the floor, Sashar trailed it until it was level with Alexi, then slowly brought it up to the table’s height… and dropped it neatly into his drink. The pellet immediately dissolved and Dextrof brought his glass up, calling for a toast.
Alexi took a sip and didn’t notice any difference with his drink. However, it was only a sip. Apparently his vices extended to his mistress and nothing else.
“C’mon, down it. That pellet is worth more than you make in a month you self-righteous little hu’tuun. Drink it.”
He didn’t want to try and influence the deader’s mind; doing so could possibly catch the attention of the two Force-users in the room. He had to wait.
Belatedly, he noticed he became acutely aware of his hips burning, so he pulled himself back up to allow his arms to take some of his weight, but his neck was hurting from having to stare down at the deader continuously.
Jenine Dextrof smiled indulgently at her husband and joined him as he began to mingle with the guests, and clinked her glass with his when they shared a private moment. She whispered something in his ear, her eyelashes fluttered suggestively, and then left him alone as she headed out, presumably to their private quarters.
He smiled politely at a pair of guests as they walked past, downed his drink in one gulp, and proceeded after her.
“Thank Slice for your [Expletive Deleted] of a wife.” Sashar thought to himself smugly as he began the slow crawl back to the skylight from which he’d gained entry.
He sat deep within the bowels of the Arcona Citadel. The series of chambers had been dug directly into the bedrock off a forgotten part of the old sewer systems, and the men who’d designed it had since died mysteriously in a shuttle crash just after their contract with the Citadel had been completed. Likewise, all the droid’s memories had been purged and it didn’t exist on any floor plans for the Citadel. Not even Zandro knew it was there. The largest room was lined with mats on the floor to absorb some of the impact from tumbles and falls, and no less than five inactive duelist elite droids stood, powered down. All about were a series of practice dummies, dismantled climbing frames, and practice weapons of varying types. The next room was smaller, but one wall was lined with bottles, jars and vials, each meticulously labelled. Underneath was a workbench with a small incinerator, two sinks, and a small array of apothecaries’ tools such as a mortar and pestle, a small heater, a few knives and scalpels, tweezers, a pipette, and some less standard tools. There was also a small terminal next to the lab station, which was currently powered down. Finally, the final chamber was a bed chamber with a refresher and shelves stacked with ration packs, bottled water, and other supplies. There were other such ‘sanctums’ dotted throughout Estle, but this was by far his favourite when he was on ‘wetwork.’ Indeed, he’d had his son, Teroch, stay down there when the Order War kicked off in order to keep him safe.
Sashar sat on the bed, stripped to the waist, and he laid out a few flimsi sheets on the floor before him, staring at each.
“I can’t make it look as if a Force-user did it, which means either pinning the blame on someone else, or faking a suicide. ‘Accidents’ are too coincidental.” He thought to himself, rubbing a hand across his face.
“Suicide it is.”
Sashar stood up, collected the flimsi sheets and walked back into the poisons room, tapping his fingers on an unremarkable part of the wall. It retracted up into the ceiling as he stepped back, revealing a highly sophisticated multi-screened computer interface. Sitting down, he tapped in a few commands and brought up the security holocams at the Dextrof estate. The party had since finished and the guests had gone home. Alexi had indeed enjoyed his wife’s company…quite vigorously, from what the playback showed the Shadesworn, and he also discovered that the family had a pet nek, sleeping at the foot of his bed. The two Whipid guards had moved to stand in the corridor outside the family’s private rooms, whilst the rest had gone to sleep. At five AM, the guards had changed shift with a pair of humans.
He clicked off all of the displays apart from the one showing Alexi’s sleeping form, then accessed the deader’s private terminal, looking for details on his physician. Predictably, it was the Chief of Medicine at the university hospital – the most sophisticated Medical Facility in the system, and probably the sector. It proved child’s play from there to hack into the University’s mainframe, access the patient records and download all of Alexi’s, and just for good measure, his families.
Whilst the information was being reformatted and analysed by his computer, Sashar got up and grabbed a bottle of water, then sat back down, pulling a small cigarette from the pouch at his belt. He lit it and leaned forward, studying for allergies or previous medical conditions.
“Nothing major, just a few broken bones during his adolescence…he’s allergic to gumfruit…produces rash all over, swelling of the tongue…heh, ironic. That’ll do for now.”
He closed down the terminal and finished the smoke in silence, mulling over his options. It only took him a few minutes to decide on a proper course of action.
At seven AM, he was awoken by a beep from the console. His eyes flickered open immediately and he moved back into the middle chamber, bringing up various displays of the estate. He also brought up a schematic of the estate and the surrounding grounds. A dot beeped slowly across the fields towards a wooded area and Sashar grinned. He was probably walking the pet nek. Getting the deader to ingest that pellet had been worth it; it was a specific type of non-bio-degradable EM dust which could transmit its location using heat from the very body it inhabited to power it, and it lasted for a good few months. Only specially calibrated sensors would be able to pick it up, such as the broadband antennae atop the Citadel, which Sashar had pirated part of the bandwidth from.
“That’s probably a morning routine. I need to find out more about that. I’ll be there tomorrow.”
He turned back to the bedroom and got changed into ‘civvies’, enjoying the prospect of the work to come.
The upper city was busy, and Sashar was well known there, being a former Consul, however nearly every mundane was simply used to a grey-armoured mandalorian, who’s face was hidden behind a mask. Almost nobody outside the military knew what he looked like under the armour. It didn’t take much effort to talk his way past the two security guards at the entrance to one of the less opulent but nevertheless fancy apartments (mind-rubbing them as he went so that they’d never remember he’d been there). He rang the bell and waited patiently.
A beautiful woman answered the door, looking startled that someone would call so early. He smiled politely, pulled his silenced SSK-7 from the folds of his coat and shot her in the face. Sashar stepped over the still-smoking corpse and looked about the apartment. He spotted the computer terminal and sat down, getting to work.
[“In local news, A twenty-seven year old woman originally from the Huascar circle was found dead in her apartment today. Police are investigating the issue, but have found evidence leading them to believe that she was involved with a number of politicians and businessmen, and as such it is believed to be the actions of a spurned lover.”]
Sashar turned off the news, grinning to himself, and watched the fireworks unfold at the Drextof estate.
Police indeed had found records of Alexi’s visits, as well as half a dozen other fabricated liaisons with various politicians who Sashar had no time for, and each had been interviewed. They had arrived at the Drextof household just as Jenine was putting on dinner, and when the questions asked divulged news of his affair, she’d hit the roof. Of course, he’d had an alibi provided by no less than a dozen of the household staff, so he’d been cleared of any wrongdoing, but the news was out; he’d been sleeping around.
During the day, Sashar had once again accessed the Drextof estate archives, and found that most of their food was produced on-site, be it from the merlies, roba, nerfs, or the fields. Only confections and drinks were delivered from Estle City proper. Alexi didn’t seem to be that bothered about candy or alcohol, so the Elder had disregarded that particular snippet of information, but knowing his food was locally sourced from the estate itself made his job so much easier.
That night, Jenine left the Estate, going to stay with a friend, presumably, and Sashar made a mental note to keep tabs on her, as she’d be essential over the next few weeks. Once she was clear, he got changed back into his Shadesworn ‘greys’ and got ready for some trade.
Wearing matte-black gave Sashar an outline, so his ‘greys’ were a muddled mixture of blacks, greys, and murky conglomeration of shades inbetween. As he moved through the corn fields with a large pack slung over his shoulder, he knew he’d be practically invisible. His destination was the barn.
Predictably, nobody figured that it was worth robbing the farm’s animal feed stores, so it was academic to break the lock on the unguarded rear door and sneak in. He flicked on a glow-rod once he was inside, and searched for the animal feed store. Once there, he pulled a two-litre bottle from the bag over his back and dowsed the feed liberally with its contents. Thankfully, the pesticide drums were stored in the same barn, and he found the open one and emptied another bottle of his custom-made solution into it. There was only one step left. He left the structure, resealing the lock after him, and proceeded to the maintenance shed. Once there, he located the large grey pipe supplying the farm with running water from the city’s reservoirs, and emptied the third and final bottle into it. Grinning in satisfaction, Sashar left the farm complex, heading for the forest.
He set up a vantage point near the tree-line and spent a good few hours working in darkness crafting a ghillie suit from some of the local foliage, then assembled his Verpine Projectile Rifle and settled in for a wait, watching as the sun rose and the household gradually woke up. Sure enough, at around seven AM, Alexi and his teenage son left the house, escorted by the two Whipid, who followed at a discreet distance. He watched them through the scope of his rifle, and only when the nek bounded off into the woods did he call upon one of the Force Wraiths – the Hunter. The beast kept low, lying next to him as it coalesced into half-existence. He took control of it mentally, and set it off into the woods.
The nek could sense something was wrong, and went quiet, growling menacingly, its eyes scanning the trees for any trace of the beast. Its master was a good hundred meters away, not yet in the small woodland. In less than five seconds, the nek was grabbed in the Hunter’s jaws, shaken until its neck snapped, had a chunk taken from its flank, and then the Wraith faded back into the ether, it’s task done.
All that remained was for Alexi to discover the dead pet, leave with the corpse, and then he could return to the city and get some sleep.
It was early evening when Sashar awoke, donned his Mandalorian armour and returned to the Citadel. He wound his way through the twisting corridors and catacombs until reaching Marick’s office.
“It’s been a few days and he’s not dead…sir.” Marick commented, priding himself on not looking up.
Sashar smiled easily. “I’m faking a suicide. I can’t just shoot him in the face and put his prints on the gun. I need people to believe it to suspect no foul play. That means weeks of preparation. First, I’ll drug him, make him despondent and moody. Arrange for his marriage to break down and his mistress to die, so he has nobody to talk to. Perhaps kill the family pet, arrange for his son to be an embarrassment. Isolate him from his friends and family. Make sure he has a few very public arguments with people he’s close to. Then…fake the suicide note and poison him with a very common off-the-shelf concoction that also coincidentally hides any evidence that I’ve been feeding him depressants for a few weeks.”
Marick shuddered. “You scare me.”
“I get that a lot.”
“So what do you need?”
“I need an attractive man, such as yourself, to do me a favour.” Sashar grinned, making no secret of eyeing up the Hapan.
“I’m not interested.” He answered immediately “Besides, aren’t you with Voden?”
“Not for me, di’kut. For Jenine Dextrof. She’s recently come on the market. Pretty woman. Knows her way around the bedroom. You’d like her.” He said conversationally, pulling out a sheet of flimsi with her picture on it.
“…What’s in it for you?” Marick asked, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
The mandalorian shrugged in response. “I get to tip off the local media that she’s seen out and about with a strapping young spoon-bender such as yourself, which further drives home Alexi’s depression.”
“Again, you scare me. Okay, fine, but only because I need a break from all this.” He gestured at the pile of datapads, cards and sheets of flimsi piled before him.
“Thanks. I’ll send over the details of when she’ll be out in public next.”
It took two full days for Jenine to gather the courage to be seen in public since her and her husband had split up, and unsurprisingly, it was to visit a lawyer. While she was out, Sashar (who had been waiting in a nearby cantina, outside in the smoking section, surreptitiously waiting for her to leave) snuck in, planted a tap on her computer terminal, planted cameras and bugs throughout the apartment, and also stole her wedding ring, which had been left on the side.
With access to all her communications, as well as her planner and schedule, he was able to find out where she was going out in the evening, and arrange for Marick to receive an invite as well (under the guise of Arcona’s representative to that particular event; some sort of anniversary of an elderly couple who’d survived the Vong invasion and had been successful in business for decades). He also intercepted Alexi’s invite and deleted it. A quick call to the media tipped them off about the ensuing drama between Alexi and Jenine, ensuring a media circus both at the estate and at the party, allowing Sashar a night off.
He relaxed, deep in the sanctum in the bowels of the citadel with a bag of gumfruits (fast becoming his favourite, since he learned that Alexi was allergic to them) and spent the evening at his computer station, one screen showing Alexi roaming about his estate, looking listless, while the other was a news station, displaying the various party-goers. He was very happy to see that Marick had seized his opportunity, and they both returned to Jenine’s apartment that night. Another call to the media tipped them off of the indiscretion, ensuring that Alexi would find out about it.
Over the next fortnight, Sashar watched Alexi almost obsessively as the man began to eat produce from the farm laced with the chemical specifically designed to make him moody, listless and depressed. The hardest part of an assassination such as this, Sashar thought, was establishing an emotional connection with the deader. He had to know more about his deader’s life than Alexi did himself, and during that time, he almost found himself falling for him. It was odd to equate love to both a predatory feel and pity at the same time, but then it could just as simply be the fact that the Mandalorian had utterly taken over Alexi’s life, and when he deigned, he’d snatch it away. This wasn’t the all-encompassing power of a monarch or despot – not the same thing he’d endured as Consul, no, this was the individual control over one sentient being’s life to such an extent that he could control what he ate or even what he felt. It was absolute, minute control. It scared Sashar that he was enjoying it.
Some nights, once Alexi was asleep, Sashar snuck into the Drextof estate, into his very bedroom and just watched him sleep. There was no reason to risk exposure or discovery; the bugs were already in place, the depressants doing their slow work, but he drifted through the place like a lazy cancer, trying to get a feel for Alexi as a person, as if he needed more information to be able to kill him. It was definitely turning into an obsession.
A month after he’d initially taken the contract, he decided to set in motion the final acts. Alexi’s son, Brant, was sixteen – legally an adult in Estle. He was still attending school at the best educational institution in the city, and was for all intents and purposes the model student.
”Time to change that.”
He snuck into the estate by a now-familiar route of the skylight in the main hall, fully camouflaged in his Shadesworn greys, as well as his full array of force concealment techniques and broke into Brant’s room while he slept. For a long moment, he stood over the bed, considering what he was about to do, distantly disgusted at himself for even contemplating it, but it was necessary for the contract’s completion, and he’d never failed a mission for Arcona before.
”He’s just a year older than Teroch. This isn’t right.”
He ignored the voice in his head (disturbingly familiar to Alexi’s), and pulled a small syringe from a pouch on his belt. Bending over the youth, he injected the serum into his arm and stood back, letting the deep shadows of the room envelop him.
The serum was an incredibly powerful sexual stimulant. Almost double the recommended amount. Evidence of the serum’s power was almost immediately apparent on the youth, and Sashar grimaced in faint disgust, before entering Brant’s youthful mind, planting an idea in his dreams.
”Your father is the reason your mother left. He tore apart your family. He is the reason you will never aspire to anything – his stigma is too great. You want revenge. You want to shame him. Embarrass him. Go to the stable.”
In a dream-like state, not sure if he was awake or asleep, Brant rose and walked past Sashar, out into the corridor. He proceeded numbly, like a zombie. He stopped briefly to pick a video-link from the coffee table in the living room before proceeding out into the chilly night air, ignorant of what he was about to do, due to the level of intoxicating chemicals floating through his system coupled with the Elder’s subliminal urgings.
Slowly, awkwardly (given his state of arousal), he entered the Nerf corral and approached one of the sleeping herbivores. He put the holo-link on the gate-post, making sure to orientate it at him and the animal, then stroked the flank of the beast, pulling down his boxers in the process.
Sashar looked away, resisting the urge to wretch, and waited for him to finish, before making sure he found his way back to bed afterwards. Faintly sick at himself, he took out the data-chip from the holo-link (replacing the device in the living room) and stuck it into Alexi’s terminal, making sure the video was playing on repeat. He’d see it when he got up.
”Tomorrow I end this. It’s getting to me.”
Sashar was still awake (unable to sleep) when Alexi awoke the next morning, got some coffee, showered, had breakfast, then checked his messages. The howl of disgust, despair and revulsion echoed throughout the entire farm. Brant was called in and vehemently protested that it had happened, claiming a doctored holo-tape, but Alexi wasn’t convinced. He dismissed his son to live with his mother, unable to even look at him. He looked truly lost.
That evening, after the staff had retired for the evening, Sashar slipped back into the estate with a spray-hypo in hand. Alexi was in his study, with only the Umbaran guard on duty, stationed on the other side of the door. The mandalorian slipped in via the window and stood behind Alexi’s chair. The only light was a small desk lamp, and a large glass of whiskey sat under it. The Politician looked haunted and stared deep into space. He pressed the spray-hypo to Alexi’s neck and depressed the trigger, injecting the lethal serum into his bloodstream.
“Ah…” He murmured to himself, with the ghost of a smile on his face.
“It’s over, now.” Sashar murmured to him, stroking his hair with a gloved hand. He brought up the terminal from its idle status and typed a brief letter detailing why Alexi had taken his own life, then placed the spray hypo in his deader’s hands. He also double-checked that the holo-tape from the previous night was still inserted into the terminal. The police would be sure to find it.
On the trip back to Estle, he brought his comlink up to his lips and contacted Marick.
“What?” He asked irritably, given the lateness of the hour.
“He’s dead. What else have you got for me?”
Marick shook his head slowly.
"Report back to my office for debriefing. I'll see if I can dig up something else for you."
Marick closed the link and rubs his hands over his face.
"Who was that, lover?" A female voice spoke softly from off to the side. It was Jenine Dextrof, fully nude laying in bed.
"Just some business I have to attend to." The Hapan explained, pulling on his pants and robes.
"Will I see you again tonight?" She asked, batting her eyelashes suggestively.
"Er..yea, sure...I'll message you later." While highly intelligent and tactful in combat and operations, he still never felt comfortable speaking women in an intimate matter.
As he exited the home to the street, he hoped that his fiance back home understood that what was done was for business, and the good of the clan. At least, that's what he told himself.
As per the contract request, Alexi Dextrof is dead, with no signs or links to an Arconan, let alone a dark jedi linked in anyway shape or form.
Missions Grade: "Excellent"
Technical - As sound as to be expected by a classy Brit such as Dash. No glaring errors.
Story - A sound, well crafted, and demented story of a man's life falling apart. I'd liked to see a little more reaction to the particular events that partook. I'd like to have maybe overheard and a few lines here and there, but in the essence of keeping it concise, I got everything that needed to be said without any dialogue.
Style - Fluent and easy to read, though it was a bit hard to follow at times as to all the different little steps that Sashar was taking to complete his mission.
This is the prime example of how a Contract should be executed. As usual, Dash set's the bar as one of the best writers in the Brotherhood. For future references, aside from the opening, the Arena Master should not be used a prop. I'm letting it slide because of Marick and Sashar's relationship, and the fact that he was the one who brought Marick to Arcona in the first place/all that jazz.