Kalak Ragnose sat in his office in the Dragon Citadel. The dry, biting sirocco howled outside the fortress, whistling and whining through windows and apertures in the stone monolith. The Force, too, eddied and flowed, though unbeknownst to most of the beings on the planet, and in the galaxy. It gave warnings and hints of the future along with its other myriad gifts, all too well known to the Quaestor. He sat back in his contoured chair, feet up on the highly polished and lacquered mahogany desk, while he used the Force to scroll down the holodocuments he read. Kalak sighed.
The latest war inflicted losses. Grievous losses. And it brought nothing for Scholae Palatinae or Acclivis Draco. All for the glory of the Grand Master. A few capital ships as a sop for the clan’s help was all the reward received. But Kalak had problems closer to home.
Power. It was all about power. Strength in the Force was one thing, but followers were necessary also. The House was down in strength, way down. And the military arm had been bled white by the war. Manpower was necessary, vital. As were the weapons of war. Capital ships were nice, but only one facet of martial might. The Priest had dispatched recruiters throughout the galaxy, looking for beings willing to fight. And able-bodied denizens of Antenora would be drafted, if needed. Again.
But small arms were needed. With the destruction wrought by the Vong, both in factory worlds and workers, production was at its lowest ebb in over a century. Prices were high, governments were buying, when they could, and capital was short. The Quaestor had the solution.
Abregado-rae was a manufacturing planet, spared the depredations of the Vong invasion, and situated in the outer rim. With the destruction of other worlds devoted to the creation of weapons and the massive numbers of displaced peoples looking for homes and work, new factories were built, numerous contracts signed, and transports laden with the tools of war sped all over the galaxy. Tools ripe for the taking.
And since the end of the war, the House had been concerned with licking their wounds, recovering, healing. But now it was time to venture forth from their isolation, put forth their hands, and grasp what they wanted. A test of arms for the various beings who studied the dark lore, a chance to prove their ability, their worth. And a cache of loot, as well. Kalak summoned Koryn Thraagus and Draco Maligo, as well as his personal staff. It was time to set the logistics of the theft.
* * * *
Headquarters, Grislaw Munitions Works
Jenlan Scrree woke suddenly from his brief reverie. He smiled at the jolt he had felt, happy to have a worthy adversary. For a change. Most of his life, since the death of the Emperor, had been empty. Devoid of challenge, of meaning. The former Inquisitor had gone from hunting Jedi to sitting in an office, overseeing planetary security and directing a small army of guards. Except for the unrealized fear of a Vong invasion, there was nothing to stir the blood-lust in the Rabaanite.
Until now. The threat resonating through the Force was clear, if uncertain. The human rubbed his hands together as he used the Force to activate his comlink. “Vosco, report to me immediately.” Until the soldier-of-fortune found his way to the executive level, Scrree would spend his time peering through the timeless, limitless expanses of the Force, searching for clues.
He leaned back in his cloud chair, the support enfolding him and his body so well that he could not feel it at all. Scree was over two meters tall, fit and tanned, and had blonde hair and blue eyes. He wore nondescript gray robes with a scarlet sash running from his left shoulder to right hip. His lightsaber hung on a leather eyelet woven into the fabric, and hidden by a fold of the robe. It was there for use, not for show.
* * * *
The burly Cyborrian, Vosco D’Gomo, paced before the holoboard in the briefing room, the motley group of killers-for-hire lounging placidly around the room. His height was average, but he was easily a meter wide in the shoulders and hips, muscular and strong. Vosco, in his gunmetal gray armor, twin Merr-Sonn ‘Death Hammers’ holstered on his hips, looked at the group. They didn’t look like much, but were like Manka cats stretching languidly, seemingly innocent, but vicious hunters.
Sooleiman, the Nagai, with her pale skin giving her a corpse-like appearance, was a Force adept, armed with a red-bladed lightsaber and apprenticed to Scree. She was rather tall for a humanoid, slender almost to skeletal, and wore only black clothes and black cape.
Mansfleed Mooler was a Rutanian. Former bounty hunter, clad in camouflage armor, armed to the teeth with N’Gant-Zarvel Carbine, Tenloss DX-2 pistol, Licht Blade, Stokhli Spray Stick, and a variety of grenades. He had a habit of picking his teeth with one of the locust knives he kept up his sleeves, and spitting on the floor. He was 3 meters tall, had green eyes and blue skin. He was one of the very few survivors of the Vong invasion of his planet, having already been in the employ of Grislaw MW, and is loyal to a fault.
Todt von Miszark was a human, average sized, and a drop-out from the Academy of the Supernatural Way, a school for Force adepts on the planet Idon-Naden in Wild Space. They had their own, independent style of utilizing the Force, and even though he failed the curriculum, Todt kept his white-bladed lightsaber.
A trio of Zisians rounded out the select group of mercenaries that D’Gomo relied on for supervising the rest of the security detail, and handling problems that required greater skills than the average guard possessed. The Zisians were green reptilians, and no one but them knew if they were male or female. They were armed with side-arm blasters, but preferred to work close-in with the variety of bladed weapons that they kept sheathed on their arms, legs, and torsos.
“Listen up,” Vosco growled at the group. “The boss says that there will be an attempt to steal from the company. Grantham Grislaw don’t like beings stealin’ from him. That’s why he employs us all. He trusts Jenlan to keep his stuff safe, and Jenlan trusts us to earn our keep. Sometime in the next two weeks a group of thieves are going to sneak in here and try to rob the place. It’s our job to stop them. First we need to thoroughly check our security, make sure all the electronics and communications are working, and all beings wearing a uniform with the GMW crest are awake and alert. Then we need to step up our spot inspections on all vessels, both on the ground and in planetary orbit. Then we’ll go from there. And if anyone does make off with Mr. Grislaw’s property, we all will have hell to pay. ”