Contract: 046 - Zakath
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 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-"
Before Socorra could continue issuing her orders she noticed the attention of the entire room had shifted just over her left shoulder. Turning as casually as possible, she was unable to resist jumping in place as she noticed the cloaked and hooded figure that now stood beside her. While not physically imposing, the fact that the figure had appeared seemingly from the shadows was more than a bit unnerving. So too was the fact that she had been unable to detect the presence at all. Her hand went instinctively for the blaster on her hip, but stopped as the figure removed his hood. Socorra flushed slightly as she recognized the man immediately, the handsome visage unmistakeable. It also explained why she had not been able to detect him.
Marick Del'Abbot-former Captain of Arcona's Black Ops, Proconsul of Clan Arcona and Commissioner of the Contract Bureau -clasped his hands behind his back and nodded to the Gatewarden.
"Continue, please." He spoke in a steady, slightly accented tone.
Socorra shifted weight from one foot to the other as she regained her composure and turned back to face the Gatekeepers.
"As I was saying. 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. Dismissed.”
The Gatewardens all dropped their heads in a bow of respect to their new Battleteam Leader.
Socorra looked back at Marick, who had now taken a few steps forward. "Zakath," the Hapan called out, resulting in the Barabel holding position while the rest of the Gatekeepers funneled out.
"It's good to have you back, old friend."
The Barabel snickered and flashed a razor toothed grin. "Who would have thought? The pretty young brat, all grown up, and Proconsul."
Marick let a slight grin pull at the corner of his lips. He bowed slightly towards his old companion, remembering the days of Prophecy Phyle when the young Hapan had barely mastered a lightsaber. It had indeed been a long time.
"As you where," The Proconsul dismissed, turning back towards his newest Battleteam leader and motioning for her to lead on to her office.
“So, we finally meet.”
Zakath inclined his head in a gesture of respect before seating himself opposite Soccora, his glossy black eyes fixated on those of the Soccoran's. He smiled then, his razor-sharp teeth flashing in the light as he leaned forward.
“I have heard much about you since my return. I am looking forward to seeing what you can accomplish.”
“I see.” The Socorran woman leaned back into her comfortable chair, her azure eyes studying the Barabel intently for a long moment before continuing on. “I have heard about you as well. I'm sure that your talents will be of great use to Arcona again.”
The Barabel let loose a raspy chuckle as he clicked his claws. “Is that hesitation I sense in your words?”
“Yes.” Socorra replied simply. “You are here as a favor to the Proconsul. But he has told me little else, only that you will be useful to me in many ways.”
“Ah, and you want to know just how I can be of use to you.” Zakath smiled a toothy grin. “Besides that of being another capable operative.”
At the human's nod, the Barabel continued, rising to his feet. “Marick is nothing if not politically adept. You have risen quickly through the ranks, and right now your position is not secure.” Zakath continued clicking his claws as he went on, beginning to pace around the office. “Your minions are already questioning your right to hold the position of Gatewarden.”
“I didn't ask for the job, I was ordered.” Socorra's voice had gone icy, to the Barabel's visible amusement.
“It doesn't matter. People are questioning, and part of the favor being asked of me is to shore up your position by acting as a distraction.” The Barabel turned to face the Gatewarden, his glossy black eyes beginning to glow with a dim purple light. “Particularly to a certain Sith Battlelord.”
“Andrelious?” Socorra's eyebrows rose. “And why would he be distracted by you, capable though you may be?”
“Because I defeated him in battle as a Knight.” Zakath's grim smile turned vicious. “And when a Knight defeats a Sith Battlelord in single combat, that tends to make the Battlelord hold a grudge, yes?”
“That... is impressive.” Socorra had to admit.
Zakath bowed his head mockingly before continuing on. “Hate only begins to describe what he feels toward me. And that will be useful to the both of us in the near future. At any rate, we can talk politics later, I'm here for your credit line sources.”
“You don't have access?” The Gatewarden frowned. “I thought all members wer-”
“I have been gone for a long time, and have only returned in the past week. Things has changed in my absence.” Zakath replied. “If you can provide a current list of credit line sources for bribery and expense purposes, I will see if any of my contacts in the underworld can secure a suitable location for us.”
“Very well, I'll have an updated list sent to you within the hour.” Socorra replied. “And I don't want any trace leading back to us, if at all possible.”
The Barabel was already at the door before he turned to look at Socorra, a toothy smile on display.
“There will be no trace or witnesses.”
Zakath felt the heat of the Sith Battlelord's anger as he stepped out of Socorra's office, turning to face Andrelious Inhaj directly for the first time in years. The Battlelord was as nondescript as he was the last time they faced each other, with only his eyes standing out, smoking with fury as they were, glaring at the Barabel.
“What are you doing here, alien?” The last word was emphasized with a sharp finger poke into the Barabel's muscular chest.
“Why, the same reason you are, hew-mon. Zakath smiled down at the Battlelord, lightly batting away the finger. “To serve our House and Clan.”
“No, I don't think so.” Andrelious hissed angrily. “If your intentions were that, you would've been here during our recent War. No, you are here for something else. You had best tread carefully, for when I find any trace of disloyalty, I will not hesitate to eliminate you. And I will succeed this time.”
“I have the same sentiment toward you. And I strongly suggest you do not cross me again. I have grown considerably in power since we last met. And I will not be merciful a second time.”” Zakath's voice was icy cold, with his eyes starting to glow a warm purple as they bored down into Andrelious. “How's your wrist? I trust it has recovered from the last time we fought?”
“It has recovered enough.” The Battlelord almost snarled, before taking a breath, visibly reining in his anger. “More than enough to cut you down next time.”
“Good.” Zakath smiled, revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth which gleamed wickedly in the sterile light of the warehouse. “I would so hate to have to fight a defective hew-mon when you make your move.
Andrelious narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “What move?”
“Save the games for the fools, Andrelious.” Zakath hissed, poking a sharp talon into the human's chest. “We both know you want Socorra's position. And that is why I am here. If you want it, you're going to need to do more than manipulate the child to get it. And please, do try to make a move, I would love to humble you a second time before I kill you.”
With that, the Sith Warrior turned and stalked away, leaving an infuriated Andrelious to fume impotently in his wake.