A Surprise Reunion.
This runon is restricted to SBL Mononoke Macron Keibatsu and SBM Malisane de Ath.
It was the rainy season on Kangaras, and a storm was raging over the squat structure of Usharak Keep, howling winds shaking the stones causing several to fall nearly braining a passing sentry. In the sky above the Knight Commander nursed the controls of the Deathshead, feeling the turbulence rocking it as he guided it down towards the ground nearby. Finally the firespray landed on a patch of clear ground on the clifftop and its ramp lowered. Malisane drew his heavy black cloak around himself and walked down into the storm. A couple of DSF guards approached him, saluting as they recognised the former Quaestor and unofficial proprietor of the Keep.
He gave them a quick nod of recognition then looked up at the dark stone structure. Though restored once by his father's so called True Brotherhood, and again by Malisane himself, the once ruined keep still looked shabby compared with the modern facilities of Aeotheran and Tarthos, and the newly renovated buildings of the Shadow Academy he had just left. The history of it was still unknown, as was that of Kangaras before Severaks arrival and Malisane's birth. Of whatever ancient civilisation had build the keep and the other ruins on the planet almost nothing was known or had been found.
He walked quickly through the rain, once more cursing that the renovations hadn't included an indoor hangar, though to be honest he doubted the structure would have survived such major remodelling, installing the turbolaser turrets and surface to air defences had been a chore in itself. Once passed another pair of sentries he was inside, casually passing his wet cloak to a passing droid and running his fingers through his short wet hair trying to disperse the water. He made his way down the dimly lit stone corridor to the concealed turbolift at the end that lead to the basement laboratory.
Mononoke Macron Keibatsu turned as the door slid open, keeping one eye on the test tubes that bubbled away and one on the man who approached. "Ah Malisane my friend, thank you for coming so quickly. You look wet."
"It's raining," Malisane said in a matter of fact tone, "I have fresh clothes in my quarters but I thought I’d speak to you first. What are you doing here anyway, I went to Sepros first but they said they hadn't seen you for a week so I guessed here."
The Pro Consul shrugged. "I find the solitude here helps my concentration with my experiments," he replied, "away from the affairs of state and a thousand interruptions. The guards know not to bother me down here, and the ewoks as you know do not enter the Keep."
Malisane nodded. "Fair enough. So what am I doing here?"
The Battlelord studied his current experiment, which was giving off lilac coloured smoke and a faintly toxic odour. “You must be hungry. I need to finish off here, why don’t you put on some dry clothes and I’ll have the droids prepare a meal in the dining hall.”
Malisane nodded. “Very well.”
Twenty minutes later they sat eating at one end of the long hall with its flickering artifical flame torches. The hall was not used often, though it might often have been in ancient times or even in Severak’s occupancy with his followers, these days there were rarely enough people in the Keep to justify it, but the hardwood table would have comfortably accommodated a hundred guests had it been nessesary.
Malisane took a sip of wine and studied the Pro Consul. They were alone, the guards having been dismissed to give them privacy. “So why the summons?”
“Summons is the wrong word my friend,” Macron replied, “but I have a matter of interest to our Clan that I request your assistance in.”
Malisane took another sip, “Go on.”
“What do you know of the Telaris sector?”
The younger Sith thought for a moment, “It’s a small Imperial Remnant sector, three sectors, nine populated worlds, approximately fifty six million citizens evenly spread amongst the worlds, minor agricultural and mining exports. Under control of one Moff Adradis, a human male aged fourty nine with a long and moderately distinguished Imperial service record.”
Macron raised an eyebrow. “You are well informed.”
The Knight Commander shrugged. “It’s my job,” he replied simply.
Macron sat back in his chair, “This Adradis interests me. You say he has had a long service record, indeed he has he served as a young Ensign aboard an Imperial Class destroyer at the Battle of Endor, and then later under Thrawn, rising slowly but steadily up the ranks. He is somewhat of an idealist, and that is why he has come to our attention. As you know there are many in the Remnant who are unhappy with the peace with the Republic, and their position in the galaxy. He is one. Our reports suggest he is distancing himself as much as he can unofficially from Pellaeon’s rule and that is why he interests us. In return for our assistance in succeeding from the Remnant he may turn out to be a useful ally to us.”
Malisane considered this, “Possibly, but it has been our policy, indeed the Brotherhoods policy, to avoid the Remnant, following the Exodus communication has been frowned upon.”
The Pro Consul frowned. “Well with the Vong rampaging across the galaxy and poorer relations with the other Clans we cannot afford that stance any more. If relations become hostile within the Brotherhood having a Moff in our pocket might give us the edge. We need strong allies who might be persuaded to assist us.”
Malisane nodded. “Maybe so, but how do we persuade them?”
“I want us to go to Telaris, meet this Adradris as a representative of Clan Naga Sadow and strike a deal with him. And I want you to come with me.” Macron replied.
“Because there are many in the Brotherhood and our Clan, and even my family, who would not approve of what I am doing. You’re not allied to anyone particularly besides our Clan and the Envoys, and as Knight Commander you can leave Brotherhood space without drawing attention to yourself or be missed. And because I know I can trust you to keep quiet if this doesn’t work out.”
“Has Manesh approved this?”
Macron nodded. “Unofficially yes. He is at least receptive to the idea, provided I do nothing to damage the Clan or cause embarrassment.”
“Very well count me in. Do you want to make an official visit of it? I can have the Sirona here in three days without any questions being asked. My crew are loyal enough to also keep quiet.”
Macron shook his head. “I’d rather we were more discreet. I’d rather neither the Brotherhood nor the rest of the Remnant notice us. If we take my new ship we can slip in and make an unofficial appointment.”
Malisane nodded. “Alright when do we leave?”
The two Sith walked casually to the docking bay, chatting as they went. “Say, did you ever do anything with the Ssi-Ruuk tech that we encountered?” asked Malisane as he strolled. “It would be a shame to let it go to waste. I wish we had more time there to explore.”
“Yeah, I did. You’ll see it in the new vessel, the Nachzerer,” chuckled Macron. “She’s a beaut, and I found space for the Silooth inside. Takes up most of the hold, though.”
Malisane turned to regard him with an inquisitive eye. “You didn’t, ah… entech anyone did you?” He knew how ruthless and insane the alchemist could be, perhaps better than most after the Sith Ewok experiment had been completed.
“Not exactly,” replied Macron with a twisted smile. “I did borrow some of their ideas though. They are quire advanced in the area of shields and armor. I sort of took the best from what I have encountered in my studies. Ssi-ruu, Sith, Seinar, it’s all in there. Oh! I made a joke- esses, get it?””
“I see,” said the former Quaestor with a frown at the bad alliteration. “I suppose if it was Ewoks or Gungans, you wouldn’t have minded anyhow.”
“True, my friend. Alas, they are in short supply these days, at least around the Brotherhood.” Both Sith laughed openly, knowing that their respective cruelty had contributed to the depletion.
The doors of the Hangar bay opened before them. Resting in a docking cradle was the ugliest, trashiest ship that the former Imperial Officer had ever seen. “Is this it?” he asked with concern. “Have you finally cracked? That hunk of junk doesn’t look at all space worthy,” he commented sarcastically.
“Look closer, my friend,” giggled the madman. “That’s only the false shell.”
Malisane walked along the forty-nine meter length of the ship, his practiced eyes scanning the outline. “I see,” he commented. “Blow-away false outer shell, quite nice. No one would look twice at this womp rat trap.” He whistled as Macron presented him with a datapad carrying the specifications and image of the hidden ship. “That’s an obscene amount of firepower and shields for a transport of this size,” he stated. “Fast, too. I particularly enjoy the bat-like design.”
Macron bowed with a smile. “Thank you, m’lord. I drew from some Anzati legends for the name. It means Vampire. Appropriate, no?” He thumbed a button on his gauntlet, and the walkway dropped from the vessel with a hiss. “Welcome aboard,” he chanted. “First stop- Telaris, dangerous Imperial Space.”
The journey had been fairly fast but cramped and confinded. The two Sith were good friends but a week in a small cargo ship locked up together tested anyones nerves. Malisane had spent the last few days working on new member statistics, one of the easier but tedious aspects of his job. Still it was something to do.
"We're coming up on Telaris," Macron called from the pilot's chair.
Malisane put the datapad down and walked over to stand next to him. The stars returned to normal and they studied the system chart. "We're pretty far out." Malisane commented.
"Deliberatley," Macron replied, "we're on the edge of the system. This is an Imperial sector. Until we decide how to proceed we don't want a squadron of TIEs asking us what we're doing here."
"Makes sense," the Battlemaster agreed. "So how do we proceed?"
"Well you're the expert here," Macron replied, "you've worked with these people how do we get to talk to this Adradis privatley?"
Malisane considered this. "Not easily," he admitted, "Imperial Moffs don't just see anyone, and we can't make an official appointment everyone would end up knowing we were here. We don't want palming off on some low level secretary or lieutenant. Bear in mind most of the people who work for this Moff will still be loyal to Pellaeon, we can't trust anyone initially.."
"We need to speak to him one to one," Macron said after a moment, "we could sneak into his private quarters and wait for him."
Malisane considered that, "It's subtle, but it's unessesarily risky. We could do it if I can get into the Sadow Palace without anyone noticing I can this place, but if we turn up in the guys bedroom he's likely to call security before we get two words out."
"I can deal with that," Macron said with an evil grin.
"I don't doubt it," the Envoy replied, "but I may have a slightly more subtle idea. How goods your computer on this thing?"
"First rate," the Battlelord said with a shrug.
"Give me half an hour." Malisane said confidently.
The Imperial base was situated in the middle of the unimaginably named Telaris City, a medium size metropolis in the northern hemisphere of the planet. The building was large grey and modern. On the top floor Imperial Moff Garm Adradis sat relaxing in his private quarters with a drink. Night had fallen and it had been a long day of military and commercial meetings that had taken up much of his day. As usual the popular topic of conversation was the Yuzhan Vong's ever spreading incursion into Republic and now Imperial space. The reports were bleak, even the once great Imperial Navy looked overstretched to push back this menace. He sighed and took a deep swig of brandy from the crystal glass and looked out over the city, lost in thought.
A loud beep echoed through the quiet room and he looked up. "Yes?" he called out."
"Governor, you have a priority encripted transmission from Admiral Pellaeons office. We have confirmed its source."
What was this, he hadn't heard from them in several days. Telaris was far from the shifting front against the Vong. "Very well," he replied, "I'll take it in here." He walked over to the hologramatic projector and pushed his palm against the plate. It hummed reading his print, then a beam of light scanned his retina, confirming his identity. It beeped in satisfaction and a projection appeared visible to him and him alone.
His eyes widened. The hologram was that of a tall man, wearing red armour. His features were startling, red and black striped hair, and a heavily tatooed face looking coldly at the Moff. It was plainly obvious he was no Imperial. The system had been compromised somehow.
Adradis frowned. "Who the hell are you and how did you break our encryption?"
The figure studied him. "I am someone who could be of great use to you, Moff Adradis, as you could be to us."
Adradis frowned, his interest had been caught but he was puzzled. "That is unclear, who are you?"
The figure smiled, "We have broken your encryption," he replied, "others may have done likewise. I suggest a meeting where we will reveal our purpose, and discuss it."
“Meet us in orbit around the eighth planet, fourth moon of the outer part of this system,” continued the mysterious armored figure. “If you come with force, we will depart and the opportunity to speak will elude us all. That would be a great loss for us both.”
Moff Adradis considered this unique situation deeply, as any officer of his skill would. “Could be a trap,” he mused. “But, they would surely be blown to ions by my fleet. That would serve no purpose. And, they have some skill and guts,” he thought. “I’ll turn this to my own advantage later against the Vong invaders.” He opened his voice channel in the hologram and cleared his throat. The thoughts of future promotions dangled promisingly in his mind.
“Agreed. I will arrive with one shuttle, and an armed escort. Let’s discuss this matter at 0400 hours pending,” he stated impassively. “This channel is hereby closed. Governor Adradis out.”
The Imperial turned his holonet projector to another frequency. “Commander Fripp, bring me an Escort class shuttle from the ISD Eidolon. I want it as packed as it can be with updates. And bring me… those two advanced TIEs and put your best men in them. Have one flight of TIE Interceptors with modified sensors shadow us at range. Begin a system recon as well.“
The Moff continued his thought train. “There is no telling, they may have a fleet hidden out-system.”
Macron turned to Malisane. “Did I do alright?” he wondered as he stepped off the projector plate. He nervously fingered his armor, trying in vain to loosen the neck. “I mean, I don’t normally do that sort of thing,” he chattered nervously. “Diplomacy, I mean. I’m, ah, not very adept at it, unfortunately. Ironic, Sith are supposed to the master manipulators,” he frowned.
“You did fine,” smiled Malisane as he deftly (and smugly) manipulated the ship’s flight controls. All former Imperial officers had flight skill training. “This needed a certain authoritative touch, and a bit of intimidation. You know how these Imperials think. If they see anything but a strong front…” The Knight Commander shrugged as he approached the moon.
“Yeah, true. I suppose Palpatine’s doctrines haunt them still,” muttered the alchemist. Both Sith grinned at the idea of the Sith Lord’s legacy spreading throughout the galaxy even after his death. The thought was commendable, no matter what they may have thought individually.
“You know, he did alright for a Sith. I mean, he nearly killed all the Jedi. I’d say it was a good revenge,” pondered the Proconsul as the vessel swam between the planetoids swirling about. One large object loomed as they approached it. The ship neared quickly, settling into a landing pattern as Macron strapped on some gear and checked the droids in the cargo area.
“In any case, we are arriving moon side right now,” Malisane stated over the com system as the Nachzerer settled down into a crater on the moon. “Now debarking. Dust, rocks, and craters, first floor. Don’t forget your pressure suit, it’s rather bad for your constitution,” he chuckled dryly.
“Right, Activating sensor mask and main defenses,” said Mac obliviously as he fingered some controls. “Now, we wait and see what happens. In the meantime, let’s have the droids lay out those remote buzz-droid missile launchers across the area just in case.” Both Sith settled into their power- chairs, grabbed some lunch, and began the wait. A short chirp from the computer banks broke in thirty minutes later.
“I’ve got incoming,” said Macron as he stood up with a nerf-steak sandwich in his mouth. “Aoumph. One escort class shuttle, and two TIEs. Chomp, chomp. Wait… the sensors indicate TIE Advanced models,” he chuckled rudely with food falling from his maw. The expensive Verpine modified models had paid off. “I think our party is here.”
“Copy that,” said Malisane as he stared at his own display. “Long range indicates four TIE Interceptors shadowing them, and a larger group a few AU away. This could be hairy,” he stated grimly. “Let’s hope he is a calculating man.”