Contract 044: Andrelious J. Inahj
The Gatekeepers had gathered at staggered intervals in the abandoned and slightly run-down warehouse, conversing amongst themselves and scoping out the new joint before the meeting began. The warehouse was of mid-size by Port Ol’val standards, with nothing very special about it, which made it perfect for a safehouse.
Socorra casually leaned back on a crate in the middle of a giant storage area, pale azure eyes intently watching over the members of her new team. She had studied and memorized every one of their dossiers. Some of them she had seen on the battlefields of New Tython. Some she only knew by reputation. But even the new arrivals were all said to be intelligent and capable.
The changing of the guard earlier had been fairly simple. Socorra replaced Sanguinius as Gatewarden while he transferred to Galeres as Aedile. While Marick’s reasoning to her on her own ascension was solid, she knew there was much more to it than just intelligence and merit. The young woman had literally been snatched out of Soulfire following Teroch’s attempt to assassinate Wuntila. She had managed to persuade Wun from killing the kid in the end - a very bold and risky move. While it had proved that she was a capable advisor, it had also exposed a softness for the Erinos family.
That, and the security that had shadowed her as she had been hustled off of Selen made her wonder if the Consul believed she was in danger as his personal assistant. The Krath knew something was brewing- she felt it in her bones. They were stacking the deck by putting her here on Port Ol’val and adding her to Arcona’s Summit. Pieces were falling into place for some grand scheme, that much she was sure of.
The last member arrived to the warehouse, and the new Gatewarden started addressing those present. Gone were Socorra’s customary robes seen while in the service of Wuntila as his Attaché, replaced with modern urban attire fit for the shadowport. The bronze-skinned woman began the meeting with some updates regarding Shadow Gate, House Qel-Droma and the Clan in general before concluding with an assignment. She spoke animatedly and pleasantly, her exotic Socorran accent rolling flawlessly off her tongue. She was clearly not used to addressing teams and was a bit awkward in doing it. However, her knowledge was far-reaching and everything she said had relevance. She even made a joke and pop-culture reference here and there that, as the public eyes and ears at the shadowport, most members recognized.
“We are in need of some safehouses. I obtained this one just to start, but I want to see some creativity. Some common and uncommon places. Play up to stereotypes, even, if it works. Do your research, stake out the joints, pair up, whatever appropriate to find and procure us one. My office in the back is at your disposal for whatever you need. If you find a winner, I expect full details so that I can follow up on it.”
“Lastly, I’ve been asked by the Summit to take on an apprentice of my own. Since everyone here is either well above my own rank and skill or has a master already.. the decision isn’t very difficult. Scelestus, you’re up.”
She raised and pointed a finger at the new addition to Shadow Gate, the Sith Protector Scelestus. He came highly recommended by the Shadow Academy staff. If he applied himself to Shadow Gate as much as he did his Academy studies, he just might outshine them all.
Going off of the above prompt, find and successfully procure a safehouse on Port Ol'val
This is a single-person contract for the Barn Raising competition
, but I encourage you to use other characters of Shadow Gate (including Socorra) for the fiction, just make sure your character is the main of the story. There is no minimum or maximum length; however, quality is much more important than quantity. Winning entries will be based on Technical (spelling/grammar), Story (plot/characters), and Style (writing style). You may use whatever means necessary to accomplish your mission, but remember that for the sake of Shadow Gate and HQD, discretion is advised.
The Besadii Entertainment District was only a few miles away, but Andrelious J. Inahj could not believe the contrast. The ‘Pride’, as it was known was filled with employees of the various companies that operated out of Port Ol’val. Inahj, despite having become quite familiar with the shadowport whilst living there under the alias of Jocjo Blueen, had never bothered with the ‘slums’ before. He had a mission, now, however. The Gatewarden wanted some extra safehouses. One, she had decided, would not be enough.
Once again the Sith was operating without a lightsaber – Blueen was obviously not a Dark Jedi, but the cover he had developed also made Blueen appear to be a mild-mannered, honest businessman. This element of the cover was a little unusual, especially given the nature of Port Ol’val. Still, the cover had proven useful, and the lack of weapons or any notable criminal history had made Inahj, or rather Blueen, attract little to no unwanted attention.
Whilst he had no lightsaber or any real weaponry, aside from a small DL-44 blaster pistol, the Sith did still have the force on his side. He screened the immediate area, looking for potential targets. He found large amounts of interesting information, bank account numbers, lock codes for various personal domiciles as well as other data that may have been interesting to Socorra.
Eventually, Inahj found something of great interest. There was, apparently, an old Imperial transport docked somewhere among the many shelves of the docks. The ship was a Beta Class ETR-3 Escort Transport, still a formidable ship. This one, however, was apparently damaged. It was not likely to be moving for a long time, having apparently been salvaged after an intense space battle. Its ‘legal’ owner was apparently a Trandoshan known as Bracknoss.
The Battlelord peered across a walkway, having sensed a familiar presence – Socorra. She was obviously spying on him! He’d teach her a lesson about following an Equite soon, but he had a mission to complete first. Heading over towards the woman, who slid quietly into a nearby cantina, he entered the building himself, quietly taking a seat in a corner booth. Ordering a brandy from the service droid that scooted straight over, the Sith nodded to the Journeyman.
“I think I have found a potential meeting place.” Inahj began as the Gatewarden joined him in the small booth. “It’s a little different to what you had planned, but I think it would be perfect…”
“I know that a ship is perhaps a little less secure than what you were perhaps hoping for, but at least it will give us a way out if one the younger men opens their mouth in the wrong place….” Inahj continued, his disdain for some of the lower members obvious.
“Are you suggesting that a Shadow Gate journeyman would be guerfel enough to do that?” Socorra hissed in response, the Old Corellian slipping out mid-sentence, indicating disdain for the Battlelord’s implication. The Sith frowned. He did not trust journeymen; he considered them to be largely weak and expendable, and above all likely to change sides far too quickly. He was aware that the female was protective of those aligned with Shadow Gate, especially Scelestus, but paid little heed to it.
“Merely suggesting that their loyalty is not absolute. But no matter. Anyone that does betray our little operation will have ME to deal with.” the Sith responded, his voice turning to a low pitched growl, before taking a large drink from his glass. Inahj then grabbed his datapad, and input a number of commands. It loaded the information about the ship he had seen, including its status, docking information, as well as some encrypted data that the ex-Imperial didn’t have the skill to decrypt.
Beta Class ETR-3 Escort Transport – ‘Upsilon 3’
Owner: Imperial Navy (WARNING: IFF tamper) ‘Bracknoss’
Status: Shield generator, weaponry, hyperdrive and sublight engines damaged, six hull breaches, life support system offline - DO NOT LAUNCH
ENCRYPTED ENCRYPTED ENCRYPTED ENCRYPTED ENCRYPTED ENCRYPTED
END OF FILE
Studying the data carefully, the Gatewarden’s analytical mind processed what it had available. Socorra attempted a couple of decryption techniques of her own, but these also proved largely unsuccessful, only revealing that the ship was valued at around thirty thousand credits. She forwarded the data to the DIA, knowing that Timeros and his shadowy agents would be able to do more with the information.
“The DIA will bring us the information we need on this Bracknoss, and his ship. We shall wait for the reply before we proceed.” the female instructed, tapping a message in on her own datapad. The whole team would be needed on this one…
Some time later, Socorra, Inahj and the rest of Shadow Gate had gathered together at the abandoned warehouse they had assembled in previously. Socorra noticed that Inahj stood quite a distance away from one the Barabel known as Zakath. She had heard that the pair had previously been involved in a conflict – in fact Inahj hated the Warrior. The friction between the two Sith would keep things interesting for the female, but would also make things difficult. She was glad that Shadow Gate’s operations usually called for working alone or in small groups, rather than the team operations that Soulfire or Void would undertake.
“I’ve called you all back here because Andrelious has found a safehouse. However, we believe it needs the skills of the entire unit to obtain it.” the Socorran began, noticing Inahj smirk as she mentioned his success. “Andreli..” she continued, but was interrupted by the Battlelord, who stepped directly in front of her, seizing the moment.
“Thank you, Socorra.” the human began, his Deep Core accent easily carrying the authority he needed to brief his fellow Gatekeepers. “The target in question is a Beta Class ETR-3 ship, commonly known as an Escort Transport. Some of you may know this ship type well, but it is not of consequence. Our mission is to acquire the ownership of the vessel. Intel has established that the ship is owned by a man called Bracknoss, who unfortunately is a local criminal kingpin. This will make dealing with him difficult. My cover alias, Jocjo Blueen, will be attempting to purchase the ship, but Intel have discovered that its databanks contain a large amount of classified Imperial data. Those of you that have worked with the Empire know that we..they, made sure that the datacore of such transports cannot be removed or duplicated without the proper technology. Bracknoss, though he is relatively powerful and wealthy, does not have these resources, and so is keeping the ship to allow him to access the information. Therefore, we have a Plan ‘B’. Socorra, Scelestus and Ramar, or Team Alpha, will take charge of an operation to..” Inahj continued, seemingly enjoying the chance to issue orders. “Ok, Andrelious. I think they get the picture.” Socorra spat, obviously annoyed that the ex-Imperial had hijacked her briefing.
“Now, before I was interrupted, I was about to explain how we would be getting the ship. Myself, Ramar and Scelestus, that’s Team Alpha, will work on using what we know about Bracknoss to find an alternative deal, should it be needed. Team Beta, which will consist of Ronovi, Zakath and Strategos, will be held in reserve should things turn ugly.” the female explained, peering over at Inahj who had resumed watching what she was doing carefully.
Forming into their two teams, the Gatekeepers began talking among themselves, revealing safehouses that they themselves had found. Zakath in particular aired that he had found a prime location. Inahj, meanwhile, sidled quietly away, taking a young human male, known only as Xerlis. Xerlis, a Protector, had been turned from the light during the invasion of New Tython. An ex-Odan Urr member, the newly converted Sith’s ascension to the Dark Side had been personally overseen and orchestrated by Andrelious, who had since taken the man as his apprentice. Despite this, Xerlis was not aligned with Shadow Gate, instead being attached directly to Qel-Droma.
“You are to accompany me. You will play the role of an Olex employee who is assisting Blueen with this transaction.” the Battlelord ordered. He was hoping that soon, Xerlis would be admitted into Shadow Gate himself. Once this was done, it would be much easier for his own goals to be achieved. For now, however, he would continue on the assigned mission, knowing that it would put him in good stead with Socorra, perhaps even gaining the Gatewarden’s trust.
Gathering together once more the clothing and belongings of Jocjo Blueen, Inahj headed into the darkness that was Port Ol’val, ready to begin the important part of the mission…
“So, Mr Blueen, you come here with an offer of money for one of most prized assetss?” Bracknoss hissed, his thick Trandoshan accent a little difficult to understand. “Do you have me down as some sort of fool?” he continued angrily. The ship, though it was disabled and probably beyond repair, was of great value to the crimelord! The information within its databansk had provided the Trandoshan with leverage to blackmail several of his rivals, who had old Imperial roots, many of whom were hiding behind aliases and fake stories. This in turn had given Bracknoss a much easier time of it on Port Ol’val. He was certainly not going to give all that up, for a few thousand credits offered to him by some businessman. There was something about Blueen that uneased Bracknoss, though. He had, on first contact, perused the wrecked ship’s databanks in hope he could find something, anything, about this human, but found nothing.
Blueen took another sip from the large brandy that his potential seller had provided him. Ugh. Cheap stuff, he thought to himself, thinking back to the much more expensive collection of drinks he had at his disposal. His face gave nothing away, however, as he studied the Trandoshan, probing his mind with the force, detecting a great deal of things that would be of interest to others. Not to him, though. He only wanted the ship, and the reputation boost that finding and acquiring it would bring. “Thirty thousand, Bracknoss. That’s its value to you. I have a team that can have it running again. Not to full spec, but Olex don’t need it at full spec…” the undercover Arconan finally replied, knowing the offer of the ship’s scrap value would be rebuffed without a moment’s notice. “..that is, unless you know something else about it? How about fifty?” he continued, before the crimelord could answer.
Bracknoss growled. This insolent little human knew something! “Your corporation could buy several decent vessels for that amount, Blueen. I think it’s YOU that knows something about it.” he spat back. Now Blueen, or Andrelious J. Inahj as he was better known, had to think fast. He had not reckoned that the Trandoshan would be this quick witted, as the DIA reports on the individual suggested that he was not always the fastest to jump to a conclusion. Xerlis, sat next to his master and going by the alias of Stimner Verack, sensed the Battlelord’s uneasiness, but said nothing.
Realising that further negotiation would prove futile, Inahj got ready to leave, beckoning his protégé to follow. As the young Sith exited, however, he was met by a large group of heavily armed criminals. Bracknoss had summoned his men! “I’m afraid that I cannot let you leave, Mr Blueen. You may know too much.” the crimelord hissed, as the two Sith were quietly ushered into a corner, hands raised.
“I don’t think you are called Jocjo Blueen.” Bracknoss continued, hissing angrily at the smaller human. “You’re going to tell me exactly who you are.” he growled.
At that moment, the Battlelord peered upwards. He had sensed a presence, one that felt familiar. Carefully looking out of out of the skylights, he noticed Ronovi, backed up by Strategos. “Very well, Bracknoss. My real name is…” the Sith began, as his allies dived in through the skylight. Things had gotten ugly…
The crash through the skylight startled all but Inahj. Bracknoss and his men turned to face their new adversaries, but the majority were cut down easily by the Gatekeepers. Bracknoss himself, however, was a determined foe, and managed to duck away, dragging Xerlis with him. The young human cried out, but was stifled by one of the Tradoshan’s clawed hands. As Shadow Gate secured the area, quickly destroying the security terminals, the crimelord snuck away, his hostage in tow.
“Thank you for the help…I shall now deal with Bracknoss.” Andrelious hissed, sensing that Bracknoss was headed towards the the Docks. Quickly chasing through the long passageways that linked the areas of Port Ol’val together, the Battlelord pulled out the single weapon he had – a concealed blaster pistol. It was not his favoured weapon, or even his favourite blaster. But it would be enough.
Tracking the Trandoshan and his young hostage down in no time, Inahj used his vast knowledge in the force to easily overtake the pair, and, to Bracknoss’ anger, was waiting for them at the end of a passage. “Give me the ship and leave this place, Bracknoss. Not many of us would give you that chance, and I suggest you take it,” the Battlelord spoke, quietly. “Never! I will die before I give you that ship!” the Trandoshan growled in response, charging angrily at the Arconan. Xerlis watched on, transfixed by fear.
Inahj had been involved in many long battles in his time, both as a pilot and as a Dark Jedi. He was not easily phased, easily jumping out of the way of the angered Bracknoss and his badly planned attack. The only advantage that the Trandoshan had was his strength, and even that paled into insignificance thanks to his total lack of any connection to the force. For Inahj, the battle would be easy. But that wasn’t his first goal.
Rushing over to Xerlis, Inahj looked to be preparing to pass a weapon to the Protector. But instead, he reached out with the force, picking the young human up. “You, Xerlis. You are a traitor. It was you that exposed this plan to Bracknoss. For that, you shall die.” The elder Sith hissed, secretly impressed that such a young, raw Sith was able to conceal such a dishonest intent for as long as he had. If he hadn’t nearly endangered the whole Shadow Gate operation on Port Ol’val, Andrelious may even have rewarded his young apprentice. As it was, he was a security risk, and would face execution for his crimes.
Wrapping invisible, malicious fingers around Xerlis’ neck, Inahj released his grip as he felt consciousness slip away, and turned to find Bracknoss. Peering around and reaching out with the force, he found that the Trandoshan’s desperation to escape had forced a critical error. Bracknoss had dived into a local cantina, and was hoping to hide among the crowds of locals. This posed a problem. A battle on the deserted ‘streets’ of the asteroid did not attract much attention, but any action in a busy cantina would.
Pondering his next move, Inahj barely acknowledged Socorra, and her apprentice, Scelestus, who had arrived for a progress report. Merely pointing at Xerlis, and quickly explaining the situation, it was only after a long period of seemingly floundering that the Sith turned to Socorra. “He’s hiding out in that cantina,” Inahj began, pointing out the building in question. “A direct attack is obviously far too risky,” he continued, seemingly a little disappointed.
“That cantina belongs to one of Ronovi’s aliases, Andrelious. She has arranged for an..accident,” Socorra replied, her voice calm and unbothered by the situation. “Upsilon 3 will be ours.”
Soon after the ‘Bracknoss’ incident, his vessel, still identifying itself as Upsilon 3, had been repaired thanks to Andrelious J. Inahj. The Sith had insisted that his favoured technician, Firmus Jeel, would lead the repair operation, with the assistance of Inahj and his vast knowledge of Imperial ships. The Escort Transport would never be fully functional again, much to Andrelious’ disappointment, but Jeel and his team had managed to restore its engines, shields, and hyperdrive, allowing to act as an evacuation vessel if necessary.
Its primary role, however, was as a meeting place for the secretive Shadow Gate unit. For that purpose, its trooper ready room was fully restored, the aim being to keep the appearance of a military ship. It would serve its new role well, thanks largely to the fact it still had the external appearance of a scrapped ship.
Bracknoss, the Trandoshan crimelord was later found guilty of causing a large explosion in the very cantina he had escaped to. Charged with multiple counts of murder and piracy, along with his supposed accomplice, Xerlis, the pair were launched into space by the local authorities, quickly succumbing to the airless nature of space.
Andrelious J. Inahj enjoyed a large brandy in his favourite cantina, smiling from ear to ear. He had won. But, more importantly, his reputation in the eyes of Socorra and her entourage was largely increased. Now, if only he could get rid of Zakath, he would be able to make a move for power…
Mission was completed successfully.
Nothing glaringly bad, but nothing very memorable about the story either. I found it fairly linear, with little drawing me into the characters and WHY they where doing the things that transpired in the plot. I never really cared if any particular character lives or dies. The outcome never had a sense of importance to me as a reader. The writing itself is not bad at all, and you show good sentence structure and syntax. I would look at some of the contracts that Dash and Ronovi have written, you can get an idea of how they develop a story that really draws you in and makes you want to keep reading each post. Not a bad going though, I like the creativity of using a ship as a meeting place.
Random technical note: always capitalize the F in Force when referring to the Force (ie Force powers). This is good practice for all platforms of writing in the DB.
Keep up the good word, and I suggest taking a read at one or two of Dash and Ronovi's contracts to help better develop yours in the future