Sunlight pierced the thick clouds surrounding San Korinar, shafts of light tracing across the city and lighting up the bustling streets. All sorts of beings congregated on San Korinar; merchants and creatures engaged in various business dealings thronged the streets, mixing with the large number of miners who travelled from San Korinar to the gas mines of Amphor Six. Amongst these figures flitted criminals, the scum of the galaxy, seeking refuge from the law in a place where they would not be pursued. High above the streets, a see-through plate glass window offered an unprecedented view over the city. Hands clasped behind his back, the CEO of Ultrafukker Munitions stared out at the streets of San Korinar, his brows drawn together.
Business had been good for Terana Reni. The Twi'lek had seen his business flourish in partnership with his sister company KUS Incorporated, and with the financial and personal backing of the Dlarit Corporation, they had become the chief suppliers of armaments and munitions to both the Orian System and other nearby areas. The future was bright. Now, Terana's eyes were drawn towards the spaceport of San Korinar. Ships had been flying in all morning, marked with the twin-pronged symbol of Czerka Arms. It seemed that the megacorporation wished to set up a base of operations on San Korinar, with a view to putting KUS Incorporated and Ultrafukker out of business.
Terana would not let that happen. Turning away from the window, the dark grey-skinned Twi'lek moved over to his desk and pushed a button, opening up a commlink to his secretary.
"Darna. Put me in touch with the CEO of KUS Incorporated. We have a serious matter to discuss."
Moving back to the window, the Twi'lek crossed his arms again, frowning darkly. Czerka were renowned weapons manufacturers themselves, and known for using underhanded business tactics in order to remove any rivals that could challenge their supremacy of the market. An unpleasant smile flickered across Terana's face as he stared at another large shuttle coming in, undoubtedly carrying weaponry or heavy machinery. Czerka Arms would find out just what happened to companies who tried to break into the monopoly that KUS and Ultrafukker held over San Korinar and the Orian System.
At that moment, the commlink on his desk beeped and Darna spoke, her voice echoing into the sparsely-decorated office.
"CEO of KUS Incorporated on the line, sir."
When his secretary told him that Terana Reni was on the line, Kaiden Duran knew today was going to be one of those bad days. As he answered the call, the image of his Twi'lek associate appeared before him with a cold, calculating demeanor about him.
"My, my, my Terana. Why do you have such a nasty look upon your face?"
"We have a problem Kaiden. I've just received reports that Czerka Corporation ships have begun to land on San Korinar. This is not the type of competition we need at this point."
The Zabrak bellowed out with a deep laugh. He knew the ways of Czerka and his personality did not allow the stories to fill his mind with fear.
"Tera, we got nothing to worry about. This is territory the Czerka hounds ain't ready to deal in. All we gotta do is bring in the big guns and destroy any chances they think they have of settling down. That's the key. Don't wait til they knock on your door. Blast theirs off the moment it gets put up."
Reni's eyes shifted slightly. The Twi'lek was beginning to make his own calculations and his mind was racing faster than Duran's mouth could move. After a few moments of complete silence, the CEO of Ultrafukker seemed to have devised a plan.
"We need this to be carried out swiftly and silently. Do you have anyone in mind for this operation?"
Again, the beige-skinned Zabrak laughed obnoxiously.
"Please Terana... You're talking to me like this is my first showdown. I got the perfect group of guys lined up for any job we need. Got them the best KUS has in store. Combine that with your munitions, Czerka won't be prepared for the fight they walked into."
A slightly contented smirk was all that could pass on the face of Reni, as he nodded to his counterpart.
"Good. Send them here and we'll make sure they have everything needed to complete this task."
The hologram image of the Twi'lek disappeared and Kaiden knew today was going to be one of those bad days. It was only under moments of duress that Terana would contact Kaiden. The Zabrak knew this was not because Terana disliked his business partner but knew well enough that they could each handle their aspects of the job without issue. It was only when things seemed to be at their worst that they required more communication.
As Duran slumped back behind his desk, he caught the looks of Malin To'dama, his green Twi'lek secretary. She was wearing a dark red blouse that fit her form perfectly, along with a black business skirt. His favorite outfit. She brought in his usual beverage and datapad on recent events with the company. Laying them down on his desk, he instructed her to contact his "best friends" and turned to look out into San Korinar.
Yep, it's going to be one of those days...
Several hours later, a motley crew of heavily-armed figures stood in the entrance hall of the Atlas Building, bristling with armaments. The assorted clerks and workers who ran the business side of Ultrafukker Munitions eyed them with mild suspicion; while they were all aware of the dealings that went on at the higher levels of the company, this group looked unnaturally dangerous. The impression wasn't helped by the being who seemed to be in charge, a sneering Duros with a cigar clamped between his fangs. Puffing out noxious, acrid smoke, he stared at every clerk who stopped to look at the group confrontationally until they lowered their heads and walked away quickly.
Spreading his hands, Terana let a cold smile flicker across his features as he walked out of his private elevator and towards the group. The Duros turned to face the Twi'lek and removed the cigar from his mouth, flashing Terana a bloodthirsty grin as the Twi'lek spoke.
"Drak Thuran. A... pleasure... to see you again."
The Duros nodded slightly, large red eyes flickering as he stared at Reni.
"Don't lie, Ter- y'know we're only here 'cos we're gettin' paid for it. Plus, I love gettin' my hands on some of the shavit in yer armoury."
With a chuckle, Terana turned to the rest of the group, who nodded curtly at him. Each was clad in a suit of gleaming black armour that offered both immense protection and great flexibility of movement. Most of them made no effort to hide their weapons; several of the mercenaries held large, matt-black disruptor cannons that would disintegrate with a single shot, while another, female figure stood apart from the group with two blackened vibroblades tucked into scabbards that ran diagonally across her back in an x-shape, a sleek helmet obscuring her features. As Terana's gaze lingered on her voluptuous form, enhanced by a tight black muscle suit, Drak noticed and let out a chuckle.
"You wonderin' who she is? I don't know her name. She found the office and asked for a job, so we figured we'd oblige her."
Tearing his eyes away from the mysterious woman, Terana turned back to Drak with a cough, his composure restored.
"I trust you've already been briefed?"
Taking another pull on his cigar, Drak nodded, blowing the smoke out to one side in a bilious brownish cloud.
"Yer pal Kaiden already told us the particulars- y'want us to go and make sure them Czerka types don't set up shop here, right?"
"Indeed. Their base of operations should still be in docking bay 14, although they may have begun moving equipment and supplies to wherever they are setting up a headquarters. Go to the docking bay and leave no survivors."
Drak grinned widely, sharpened teeth glinting.
"Just the kinda job I love doin', bossman." Taking a last drag on the cigar, the Duros hurled it to one side then strode towards the wide doors leading out onto the streets of San Korinar, the mercenaries falling into step behind him. Terana watched them go with his arms folded across his chest, a dark smile flickering across his features. Czerka Arms would soon discover the penalty for trying to move in on his territory.
The "friends" of Kaiden found their supply depot to be more than they could ever imagine. Like children at a toy store, they found various weapons to choose from, along with many boxes of ammunition from their connections at Ultrafukker. Everyone took whatever seemed prudent for the task at hand, except for the volumptuous mystery woman. Drak looked over at her, noticing her checking out the weapons present. Placing a new cigar between his fangs, he smirked as he approached the female.
"Yer lookin' over those weapons long and hard. If I were you, I'd grab something more than those blades on ya back. These Czerka types love to catch ya unaware with a bolt to the back. Blade ain't gonna do much to help."
The visor of the woman turned towards her leader and pulled the straps to her blades tighter on her body. With a slight chuckle, the Duros struck a match on one of the stell boxes containing arms and lit his cigar. As he looked over his men, an unfamiliar protocol droid began to approach the group, bowing its head slightly.
"Master Drak, I have been instructed by Master Kaiden to inform you that now is the time. If there is anything else you require, I must advice that you acquire and proceed with the-"
The leader pulled a blaster pistol from its holster and sent a bolt through the head of the droid, watching it collapse onto the floor in heap of useless parts and wires. A soft roar of chuckles echoed throughout the armory as Drak found an ideal blaster rifle, sholdering the weapon.
"I think Kaiden forgot how I don't liked to be rushed on my missions. Sittin' behind a desk will do that to ya, boys. Don't forget that."
Sinister chuckles escaped the lips of the group as they grabbed grenades and last bits of weaponry. An aura of aggression and evil deeds surround this motley crew of mercenaries as they left the armory and proceeded towards the garage. The slender female turned back to the armory as if contemplating something she may need still back there. As everyone mounted up on speeder bikes, Drak turned towards the female and bellowed out for her.
"Last I check, your bike wasn't there. Mount up and ride, sweets."
With those words, the crew began to howl like ravenous beasts, revving the engines to their bikes. The woman approached her bike and started it up, still looking back at the armory. She was tense and while no facial expression could confirm it, her body certainly spoke volumes. Drak took a deep inhale on his cigar, blowing the smoke out as he took charge towards Czerka. As the last mercenary left the Titan Building, Kaiden watched the pack rush out through the streets of San Korinar. He missed the old days and the rowdy times but for some reason, he felt more comfortable behind his desk tonight.
Streets of San Korinar
En-route to Docking Bay 14
Pedestrians threw themselves out of the way of the group of mercenaries, many narrowly avoiding being hit by the reckless speeder-bike riders. Lifting himself up on his heels, Drak cackled loudly as he tossed his cigar away and gunned the engines, turning the bike sharply around a corner and onto the straight plaza that led towards the docking bays. At the far end of the street, he could barely see a few guards in the orange-and-black colours of Czerka Arms standing outside the open doors of a docking bay, armed with heavy repeater cannons. The inside of the docking bay was shadowed, and he couldn't make anything out, but nevertheless a sneer crossed Drak's face; nothing they couldn't handle.
Twisting the handlebars of his speeder bike forwards, Drak led the charge down the long, straight plaza, the mercenaries behind him pulling their weapons out in preparation to hit the docking bay hard. As they drew closer, the two Czerka guards seemed to snap to attention, their faces serious as they crouched slightly and swung their weapons round to open fire. Drak raised his voice in a long, screeching warcry as his bike tore towards the open doors of the docking bay, the mercenaries behind him opening fire. Disruptor fire blasted one of the Czerka guards off his feet and hurled him away, smoke rising from the hole through his chest. Drak gritted his teeth as he surged towards the other guard, who opened fire with a roar of his own.
Then everything went wrong.
With a dreadful scream, a torrent of blaster fire surged from within the docking bay, red bolts smashing Drak off his speeder bike. The Duros' face slammed into the floor at high speed, the skin of his face ripping off as he was dragged along the concrete by momentum. The mercenaries behind him scattered around his broken body as it tumbled to a stop, but not quickly enough to avoid the hail of fire; one-by-one they were blasted off their bikes. The mysterious woman at the back of the group managed to shift both feet onto the saddle of her bike and leap upwards, only for a blaster bolt to clip her leg and send her pinwheeling through the air. Carried by the momentum of the speeder bike, she smashed into a crate at one side of the docking bay and disappeared into the debris, badly injured.
The few mercenaries who brought their bikes to a skidding halt just inside the doors of the docking bay were thrown backwards by blaster fire, a group of heavily-armoured Czerka enforcers moving forwards with vibroblades to finish them off as they lay, dazed, on the docking bay floor. Helmets were torn off and blades thrust down through the mercenaries' heads, ending them in a chorus of screams and shouts. Suddenly the enforcers stood down, making way for another figure clad in a crisp uniform with different colours to those of the guards outside.
Leaning down next to Drak's mutilated body, the official let a cold sneer twitch across his face as he patted the Duros' pockets. The sneer twisted into a grin as he withdrew a datapad and tapped it a few times investigatively.
"And what's this? A datapad containing a sum of 15,000 credits?"
There were chuckles from the enforcers around the official as he straightened up, tucking the datapad into his pocket.
"What a generous donation. I'm sure this sum will greatly aid our efforts to set up a headquarters here."
The chuckles turned into outright laughter as several Czerka guards dragged the bodies of the mercenaries and the speeder bikes into the docking bay, the great doors shutting behind them. Crawling out of the wreckage of the crate, the visor of her helmet cracked and revealing creamy skin and large brown eyes narrowed in pain and fear, the mysterious woman crawled away, dragging her leg behind her. Her breath came in panting gasps as she struggled into a nearby alleyway and slammed a hand against her communicator, opening up a channel back to the Titan Building.
Kaiden's hand went to his desk as he pushed the button to accept the incoming call, his expression cheerful as he anticipated good news from the mercenaries he and Terana had hired. For a few moments, he listened to the hurried words of his secretary, his face growing more and more twisted with anger and rage as she continued to speak. Then he interrupted, his brow blackened with fury.
"They did what?!"
Commotion erupted outside the office of Terana Reni, as if the reports received earlier were not bad enough. The doors slammed open and revealed a fuming Kaiden Duran, approaching the desk of his associate. Terana's secretary wore an expression of uncertain fear, looking at her employer with uncertainty. The Twi'lek nodded hish ead once and waved her out. As the doors closed, the mind of the Zabrak began to be broadcasted throughout the office.
"How in the hell could we have screwed this up? They've never failed a mission and not only did they failed, they got wiped out! They got the weapons on them to identify us! How could this situation get any Sithing worse?!"
Reni cleared his throat a moment and settled into his chair. The next words to escape his lips would add salt to the already horrendous wound.
"We've lost 15,000 credits."
Kaiden slowly turned to face his associate, face losing color by the second.
"Tera, enlighten me. How did we lose 15,000 credits?"
"They were given to the mercenaries to remove the threat with an additional 15 upon completion. Our records indicate the credits were transferred to a seperate account, one traced back to Czerka."
Duran's emotions could no longer be contained and the chair he was in shot back several feet behind him. Everything the two of them fought to build was slowly beginning to dwindle beneath the might of Czerka. They had sent their best and only received the worst. Only one thought continued to repeat itself in the mind of the Zabrak.
"How in the hell do we fix this?"
Terana smirked devilishly. While Kaiden was use to being the muscle, he was certainly not the brightest mind. The CEO of Ultrafukker Munitions was proud to say that he was.
"I've already contacted the Dlarit Corporation. They do not want Czerka in their area any more than we want them here. We have been assured that they are sending someone to deal with it. The Governor General himself has assured me of this."
Duran began to settle down instantly, picking the chair up and setting it back in place. He expected Dlarit to crucify them for their failures but they understood the situation and were preparing to handle it themselves. Hopefully, they were more prepared than they were on San Korinar. Collecting himself in a civilized manner, the Zabrak began to bring light to the situation.
"Did they say who they were sending?"
"No names were given but I was informed that when they arrive, we will know instantly."
Nekura Manji looked over the situation given to him and shook his head. This was an unnecessary set back and the details of the situation only got more and more enfuriating as he read on. As the Consul got to the end of the report, only one thing came to mind.
"Son of a rancor..."
With that word, Shikyo was assigned to investigate the loss of credits from the Dlarit Corporation and to assist in returning the amount. It had been a long time since the Herald had been in his former home system. He wondered just how much things had changed.
Two days later
A veritable feast was spread out on a long, low table in the newly-refurbished Consul's Chambers. Manji had kept the baroque stylings of the decor, but added a few touches of Kyataran decoration to make his quarters feel more homely and welcoming. The table was one of those touches; low enough to the floor that it encouraged those who ate at it to kneel on cushions, it was fashioned from Kyataran hardwood that had been brought to Sepros at Manji's command.
Reaching out with his chopsticks, the Consul lifted a piece of deep-fried, lightly battered seafood and devoured it swiftly, muttering his appreciation of the cuisine before lifting a small porcelain cup full of Kyataran rice wine at the side of his plate. Glancing across the table at his visitor, Manji lifted the small cup with a wry smile.
"Enjoying your food, brother?"
Shikyo's response was to lift his own cup of rice wine with a smile, nodding at his brother.
"Would that we could eat together under better circumstances, brother."
Lowering his chopsticks, Manji wiped his mouth with a napkin and rested his elbows on the table, steepling his fingers as he looked over them at the Dark Councillor.
"So. What do we know about the situation? The report I got said that two of the companies Dlarit sponsors on San Korinar have run into trouble..."
Shikyo lowered his own chopsticks and took another swig of rice wine, letting out a contented sigh as the alcohol slipped down his throat, warming his insides. Setting the porcelain cup to one side, the Herald sat back with another sigh of pleasure as he formulated a response.
"I was sent to find out what happened to the 15,000 credits that were stolen from those companies, since that money comes directly out of Dlarit's funds. The only information I've gotten is that they're having problems with Czerka Arms, who've moved in on San Korinar."
With a chuckle, Manji got to his feet and stretched, patting his full stomach. Turning away from Shikyo, the Consul moved over to an alcove set into the wall of the office, filled with a large suit of ornate armour, a stand in front of the armour holding a beautifully-decorated katana and wakizashi. On another shelf below the armour stood a stand holding a slightly more worn daisho and Manji's lightsaber.
Lifting the weapons off the stand, Manji checked them all carefully then slid them through the belt of his kimono, turning back to Shikyo with a grin.
"I think, brother, that we need to take a little trip to San Korinar in order to deal with this problem."
Shikyo returned the grin as he got to his feet.
"That sounds like a plan to me. Lead on, Consul!"
Outside the Twi'lek Twister
The Keibatsu brothers had just arrived to the colony when something began to pull at the Herald in the direction of a grimmy looking cantina. It was shady looking and seemed like the bad side of town. With a smirk, the Pontifex nodded towards the establishment.
"I feel like having a more uncivilized drink. How about you, brother?"
Manji looked over at the building, familiar with the establishment.
"Why do I have a feeling this is going to be a bad night?"
The younger Keibatsu chuckled.
"Because now you get to see the prowess of your little brother and be amazed."
Shikyo went ahead towards with entrance with Nekura slowly shaking his head and a slyful smirk on his face. As the two Krath took in the emotion of the cantina, the Herald scanned the area for what brought him into this particular establishment. As his eyes stopped suddenly, he saw a stunningly beautiful woman with redish gold hair and a skin tight black suit. She turned her head towards the Keibatsu in the doorway and captured Shikyo's glance. This was what the Force brought him to. Patting his brother on the shoulder, the Pontifex smirked.
"My dearest brother, find us a secluded booth in the back of this place. I'll find you momentarily."
"And where the hell will you be?"
"Following up on a lead."
The Herald slowly approached the bar and took up a seat beside the young woman, looking over at her drink as the bartender approached.
"I'll have one of what the lady is having."
The bartender nodded as the female scoffed.
"I doubt you're able to handle this drink of mine."
"Is that right? Potent much?"
She slowly turned her head towards the Pontifex, eyes filled with sadness as she fought back tears.
"Drink it enough, it just might kill you."
Shikyo chuckled as his drink arrived. Locking his eyes on hers, the Keibatsu began to chug the drink before her. It had a strong kick and for normal beings, too many would be deadly. However, Sasuke had learned to drink in his days as a Sadowian and his tolerance never faltered. Her brown eyes began to widen more and more as the Dark Councilor downed every drop of her drink and smirked at her.
"Potent indeed. I assume you have a suitable name for it?"
The young women smirked back playfully, slowly coming out of her slump.
"I call it 'Sithspawn'."
The Pontifex laughed as he looked back at the remnants in his cup.
"While that's not a bad name, I think I have something a little more suitable."
The brown eyes of the woman fired up slightly at the word. It had struck a nerve but the young woman did her best to control her aggression for this stranger.
"And why such a vicious name for the drink?"
"Have you encountered the creatures and their Amphistaffs? Such venom is deadly potent. I'd say if we introduced this to them, it would wipe the scum from the rest of the galaxy."
The young woman smiled and introduced herself. After a moment of formalities, Shikyo put his arm around her waist and escorted her back to the booth where his older brother was already enjoying the company of a couple of dancing Twi'leks. Softer drinks were presented to make the night a more fun filled one and after the young woman had a couple more in her system, she began to explain her depressing mood to the Keibatsu, her first mission as a mercenary and her first great failure.
After some words of affirmation from the Pontifex, the young woman began to snuggle into the lap of her newfound comforter. As the Twi'leks began to dance more sensually for the Keibatsu, Shikyo's commlink began to go off. When he answered, he could hear the voice of his apprentice, noting the slightly worried, slightly annoyed tone in her voice. As he disconnected, Manji turned towards his younger brother with a beautiful Twi'lek kissing over his neck.
"Who was that, ototo? Your wife?"
The Wolf turned towards the Dragon with a half hearted stern look.
"She is not my wife."
The Epis bursted out in laughter as he savored the sensational treatment provided by the dancers. Feeling devilish, Shikyo gently grabbed the Twi'lek female by her chin and brought her towards him, kissing her deeply. The dancer did nothing to stop the action and drank in the moment, while her body was unsure of what to do. As the kiss broke, the Pontifex winked at her before escorting himself, his new female acquaintence, and both Twi'lek dancers towards a back room of the cantina. Shikyo smirked as he heard his brother call out disappointedly.
"What do you think you're doing?"
With satisfaction sitting well inside, the Herald responded to his brother before focusing on the three females he had with him.
"Enjoying the rest of my night."
As Shikyo disappeared into the back room, Manji rolled his single eye in exasperation and settled back into his chair, frowning at the stage. Suddenly, a foot appeared in his field of vision; a very slender, well-shaped female foot. The Epis' gaze rolled upwards as another Twi'lek dancer leant over and smiled at him, her large breasts suddenly even more obvious in the skimpy dancer's outfit. For a moment, Manji simply stared back, then he smiled widely.
"Hm... Shikyo can have his fun, something tells me I'm not going to get bored."
The following morning...
Sunlight streamed into the room, blazing straight into Shikyo's face. The Pontifex twitched and growled slightly, turning over to try and avoid the morning sunlight, only for a loud knocking on the door to snap him into wakefulness, his eyes bleary. Manji's voice, unnaturally cheery for what seemed to be an ungodly hour of the morning, boomed into the room.
"Rise and shine, ototo, we've work to do."
Shik glanced around and smirked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes slowly.
"Shhh, bro- you'll wake the bitches!"
Some time later...
Outside the door of the Twi'lek Twister, now both fully robed, Shikyo and Manji looked around at the bustling streets of San Korinar in the morning sun. To the Epis' annoyance, Shikyo's dalliances the previous night had actually yielded some useful information; the young woman he'd encountered had told them which docking bay her mercenary group had been scheduled to attack, and how exactly the mission had gone wrong. The two Dark Jedi still needed to visit the CEOs of Ultrafukker Munitions and KUS Incorporated to get the official stance on the problem, but now they had a little more information on the nature of their enemy and the kind of defences they could expect.
With a shared nod they strode off through the streets towards the financial quarter of San Korinar, with the intent of meeting Shikyo's nocturnal companion in the large plaza upon which rested the Titan and Atlas Buildings. As they walked through the streets, Manji chuckled quietly, remembering the yellow-skinned Twi'lek from the previous night. Shik glanced across at him, grinning.
"Good night, huh?"
"You bet your ass, ototo. I told you it was a good place to start our enquiries."
With an exaggerated groan, Shikyo grinned, rolling his head back and forth.
"You're telling me, I'm still sore from the working over those three ladies last night gave me. Our mercenary friend in particular is... astonishingly nimble."
A loud cackle was the response as Manji waved a hand before his face, unwilling to hear any more of the Pontifex's tales of conquest.
Approaching Valhalla Plaza
It was the Herald's first time at San Korinar and the emotions of the area made him feel as if he was young again, struggling to survive. Poverty and corruption could be felt around every corner of the floating city and it began to feel like a sickness. Off in the distance, the Pontifex noticed a child curled up at the entrance of an alleyway, dirty and frail. Using his ability in the Force, Shikyo summoned a loaf of bread from a nearby bakery from it's display and sent it into the hands of the kid. Excitement lit up in the child's eyes as he began to savor each bite.
Nekura noticed the actions of his brother, nudging him on the shoulder slightly.
"My brother, the Ewok. Showing compassion to a stranger. Don't tell me you're turning Jedi on me."
Sasuke smirked devilishly as he turned towards his brother.
"I haven't forgotten how to kill, Manji. I'm getting better at it with each mission. I'm just tired of the corruption and the pain that it causes."
The Epis nodded slightly.
Shikyo sighed deeply.
"Once this business with Czerka is finished, I'd say we start sweeping through these streets and conduct a purge of the filth."
The One-Eyed Dragon smirked playfully as they entered the plaza where the young woman would meet them. It was bustling with business types and vagabonds alike, each trying to find a way to benefit from the people around them. As the two Keibatsu began to scout the area for their contact, the Pontifex noticed a couple of men in familiar attire. Orange and green suits with the emblem of the Czerka Corporation sewn onto the shoulders of their uniforms. It appeared they had already set up shop and were beginning to make their move.
As his eyes began to move away from the thugs, his senses heightened as the Force turned him back in the direction of the young woman. She wore a dark green, business oriented gown that still clung to her form. Her makeup was done lightly in an effort to make herself more presentable when appearing before the CEO with sophisticated company. It was a complete reversal to the bounty hunter attire the Herald had originally seen her in. It was a nice change of appearance to say the very least.
She closed in the space between herself and the two Keibatsu, shaking hands with the brothers and providing her insight on the companies as they began to walk in the direction of the twin towers. As they stood feet away from the entrances, the Pontifex looked over at his older brother and nodded towards the titan building with a slight smirk on his face.
"I'll talk with the Zabrak, since you seem to love Twi'leks in all form and fashion, and bring the girl along with me."
Dokugan-Ryu began to protest even as his younger brother slipped an arm around the waist of the young woman and led her towards the entrance to the building. As they made their way inside, the woman began to interrogate into the Krath's relationship with the Governor General, receiving only the bare minimum of information. Upon approaching the information desk, Shikyo inquired from the receptionist as to the location of Kaiden Duran, noting the floor number of the chairman. As they made their way into the elevator and made their way up towards the floor of the CEO, Sasuke made an interrogation of his own.
"You know, you never told me your name last night."
"Of course I did."
Shikyo turned toward her with a knowing eye and a devious smile.
"You gave me a well rehearsed alias. I want to know your name."
Responding back with a slight chuckle and wink, she answered.
"The name is Maria Rinslet."
"Thank you for coming, my lord. I'm glad you could make it."
Shaking the grey-skinned hand that he was offered, Manji nodded curtly at the CEO of Ultrafukker Munitions and lowered himself into his chair, expression serious.
"If Czerka intends to move in on a stronghold of the Dlarit Corporation, you can bet your arse I can find the time to deal with them. Now, Reni; what the hell went wrong?"
Normally entirely composed, Terana could not stop a slight blush from colouring his cheeks at the thought of the failure he and Kaiden had suffered. He was not afraid of a violent backlash from this man- the leaders of the Dlarit Corporation hadn't gotten to where they were today by killing loyal subordinates left, right and centre- but he did not want to try the patience of the curiously-dressed Governor General of the Corporation any further than he had to. Covering his embarassment with a cough, the Twi'lek tapped a few keys built into the desk and brought up a few presentation slides from a holographic display on the top of the desk. As they flashed through the basics of the information, Terana filled in the details, his voice laced with contempt for Czerka.
"Drak is... was both trustworthy and one of the damn finest mercenaries I've ever employed. For him to be killed so easily by Czerka suggests that they've got some seriously heavy financial weight behind them; to get the kind of heavy firepower that those turrets possess through our spaceport customs, they must have greased a few palms."
As the slides came to a halt and disappeared, natural light returning to the office, Manji stared quietly out of the window, deep in thought. Terana remained silent, unwilling to interrupt the Keibatsu's thought process. Slowly, a wicked grin slid across Manji's features, a disturbing, menacing smirk.
"Well. It looks like there's only one course of action open to us, doesn't it?"
"It does. Wait, what's that..?"
Pushing himself out of the chair, Manji straightened his back and cracked his knuckles noisily, the grin retreating into his usual arrogant sneer.
"Don't worry yourself, Reni. The problem will be dealt with by Dlarit. Give us three days and we'll have run the Czerka Corporation off San Korinar and worked out how they managed to get those turrets through your spaceports."
For a moment Terana stared at him, unsure where this sudden confidence was coming from.
"But, my lord... how are you going to accomplish that?"
With frightening suddenness, Manji leaned forwards across the desk, nose-to-nose with the burly Twi'lek. His one eye narrowed as he stared Terana in the pupils.
"Can you remember what killed the gizka, Reni? Hmm? I have the support of another very powerful group that has its own reasons for not wanting the Czerka to gain a foothold here. You don't need to know anything else."
Straightening up again, Manji turned away from the Twi'lek CEO, kimono whirling about him. The door to the office slid open to reveal Terana's secretary Darna, the red-haired human leaning over her desk to put away some files. As Manji stalked past, she jumped slightly with a gasp of both surprise and pleasure, feeling an invisible hand slap against her backside through the tight-fitting dress she was wearing. The Keibatsu stepped into the elevator with a wide grin on his face, winking at the secretary as she turned, blushing furiously, to look at him. As the doors of the elevator closed, Manji muttered quietly to himself.
"Wonder how Shik's doing..?"
Kaiden Duran looked at the oddly dressed official sitting in his office as well as the stunning young woman accompanying him. For some reason, she seemed strangely familiar but he could not place the woman in his memories. Taking a sip from his cup, he cleared his throat and began to explain the situation.
“As soon as we discovered that Czerka was moving in on San Korinar, Terana and I decided to take action against them. We figured they wouldn’t have had enough time to set up any kind of defenses…”
“Companies like Czerka are not new to the game. There is a reason they have survived for years and years. Unfortunately, you did not take this under consideration. In the future, I hope you will take this to mind.”
The Zabrak was fuming with extreme anger. Who was this outsider, who held no title in the Dlarit Corporation, to give the CEO a lesson in business? Subtlety was not the strength of the businessman and Shikyo expected the approaching tongue lashing. Maria was not.
“Who in the hell do you think you are to tell me how to run my Force-damned business? You have no authority within Dlarit nor in my own corporation. What makes you think you can just come in here and tell me how things need to be run?”
The Keibatsu could feel extreme tension running through both Kaiden and Maria. While Maria was more afraid of Kaiden becoming aggressive, the CEO was more afraid of losing his job than anything else. Sasuke smirked slightly as he stared deep into duran’s eyes.
“I have served Dlarit with honor and now I serve a much greater organization. Just as Dlarit has an interest in your operation, my company is interested in Dlarit’s operations. As the young brother to the Governor General, I took a special interest in your predicament. I am here to help you remove a virus. If I were you, Kaiden Duran, I would begin learning self-control and accept the help that arrives.”
Shikyo could tell that his words had not done enough damage to fully resolve the issue but the Zabrak was starting to loosen up. Maria looked up at the Pontifex with astonishment and curiosity in her eyes. She picked up on the voice changes made by the Krath as well as the reduction of tension from Kaiden. Duran looked back into the eyes of the Wolf before sitting down in his chair.
“Please understand, Mister Keibatsu… I have lost good, loyal men due to my stupidity. This is a price I must swallow and it is painful. I am grateful to have more assistance in this matter but what can be done?”
“Whatever is necessary. The Governor General and I will see this matter is handled personally. Also, I have issued a transfer of credits from a company known as ‘EbonArms’. I believe it will be enough to cover your losses. I do apologize for the loss of your men but now you must rebuild and preserve your strength. My brother and I have set the cast. Now, recover and come back stronger than ever.”
With the words passing from his lips, the Keibatsu rose to his feet, followed by the young woman and the Zabrak. Sasuke extended his hand to Duran and was glad to feel a strong, energetic grip come from the CEO. The Herald’s words had struck home. Just as he had lost men on the battlefield, so had Kaiden. The two of them would understand that pain now and as one who has suffered more so than the businessman, Shikyo felt that his words had guided Kaiden towards an improved outlook.
Maria and Shikyo left the CEO’s office and began to make their way towards the elevator, the Krath a couple of steps ahead. As they began their descent to the ground floor, the young woman turned towards this mysterious new acquaintance with curiosity in her eyes.
“How did you do that?”
“Do what, darling?”
“Quell his temper almost instantly. I’ve always heard his temper is long and explosive.”
Smiling to himself, the Herald turned towards Rinslet and nodded slightly.
“The Force is powerful and serves as an amazing tool for many situations. You should know this very well.”
Maria shook her head slightly.
“I’m no Jedi. I couldn’t do anything like that.”
“You have the potential inside you. I can feel it. With training, you could become powerful in the Force.”
“Would you train me to be a Jedi?”
Smirking devilishly, Shikyo placed his hand on her cheek and brushed it softly.
“Not a Jedi.”
Blazing sunlight seared down over the minimalistic plaza, smooth grey stones forming a regular pattern across the floor that was broken by two large, circular fountains, crystalline water gushing from the mouths of ornate, abstract statues. Striding out of the glass double doors of the Atlas building, Manji shaded his eye with a hand as he looked across at Shikyo and the mercenary girl as they moved towards him, his brother's arm lingering almost protectively around the girl's shoulders. The Consul stifled a grin- it hadn't taken Shik long.
Nodding curtly at the Herald as the two reached him, Manji tucked his left arm into his voluminous kimono.
"So, get anything interesting?"
"Probably much the same as you, brother."
"I'm guessing you've got a plan?"
"Don't I always?"
The two grinned at each other then moved off silently into the bustling streets of San Korinar, the mercenary girl following them with a slightly confused smile on her face. Their footsteps carried them towards the market district of the city, unspoken communication guiding their feet.
The city was beginning to get busier as it moved towards lunchtime, the sun climbing into the sky and heating up the streets. Vendors packed the crowded streets, crying their wares, and shop-fronts adorned with rich goods enticed consumers inside to take a break from the sun. Manji and Shikyo walked down the streets with Maria following them closely, looking around confidently at the beings that clustered the roads. Many wore the insignia of the Dlarit Corporation and her various subsidiary companies, but others wore simple workers tunics; labourers employed by the companies, but not high up enough in the corporate chain to have earnt a uniform. Suddenly Shikyo's eyes narrowed and he grabbed Manji by the sleeve, nodding through a nearby shop window.
Two men in distinctive orange uniforms could be seen examining foodstuffs lined up in racks, both human. Manji glanced at the Herald and grinned wickedly, his shoulders moving slightly as he loosened them up. Shikyo turned to the mercenary girl and put a hand on her shoulder with a smile.
"Just stay out here for a second. Okay? We've got some business to take care of."
Maria's brow furrowed but she nodded and moved to the other side of the street, leaning against a shady wall. Manji and Shikyo moved towards the door of the shop and filed in, their eyes fixed on the two Czerka operatives. The Gran shopkeeper's three eyes widened slightly in alarm as he saw them before Shikyo waved a hand towards him, convincing the alien that he had some business to attend to in the stockroom. Blustering excuses to the two Czerka men, the Gran rushed out of the room as they turned, scowls on their faces. One of them stepped forward with an arrogant smirk.
"You must think you're pretty important, dressed up like that. Don't you recognise these uniforms? Czerka's going to take over thi-"
Before he could finish speaking, an antique-looking saber hilt was thrust into his chest, silver blade protruding from his back. The man coughed in shock, his eyes rolling downwards before he dropped heavily to his knees. For a moment, nobody moved. Then the second Czerka operative whipped a blaster out of a holster at his belt and opened fire, the bolt smacking against the hilt in Manji's hands by sheer fluke. In the next second, the blaster was ripped from his grip and he was lifted into the air by Shikyo with a fist of the Force, before an invisible blow smacked against his temple and knocked him unconscious.
The conflict was over in seconds. Looking down at his saber, Manji swore violently before turning back to Shikyo as the Herald lowered the Czerka operative to the ground and moved towards him.
"Dammit. The bastard got my saber. Can you do anything with this?"
Glancing up at his brother, Shikyo's eyes narrowed in thought. Then he grinned and put out his hand, Manji lowering the saber into his grip.
"Sure, leave it with me."
*Tragedy in Valhalla Plaza! Earlier in the afternoon, the bodies of two Czerka Corporation employees were found in Valhalla Plaza, disfigured and impaled. They were found in the center of the area, as if they had been tossed there by a great force. No witnesses have come forward to the local authorities in regards to this crime. Rumors have been circulating that a possible feud between Czerka and Dlarit is on the horizon and that this act of aggression may be the first step towards war between the two companies. We will bring you more information as this story progresses*
The suite that Shikyo purchased was truly astonding. Though it wasn’t quite as lavish as the one his brother received for free, the heafty discount was more than necessary. It was spacious, comfortable, and secluded. While San Korinar may not have been a beautiful place to look at, it could still enjoy the finer things in life. Unfortunately for the Herald, he would have to enjoy the luxuries provided by the Omega Resort later. For now, business called him.
Sitting in the center of the room, the Pontifex focused on a pair of hilts he had planned on giving Manji for ascending to the rank of Pontifex himself. However, desparate times called for desparate measure and he was certain Manji would be more than proficient in wielding two sabers. Closing his eyes and allowing the Force to lift them off the ground, they stood at eye level with the Krath before slowly breaking apart.
As the hilts became undone, each part of the lightsaber began to move to its designated area, leaving only the crystals left. Two finely cut Durindfire crystals escaped the small pouch Shikyo had before him, hovering slowly towards their chambers and slipping it softly and easily. As the crystals made their way inside, both hilts began to take form and collapse into each other. Sasuke inspected his work and smiled. Only two things remained.
The dark side of the Force began to course through the veins of the Keibatsu as what appeared to be deep violet beams began to bounce between the Herald’s fingertips and the two hilts. Shikyo had worked to perfect histechnique in Mechu Deru through various holocrons and training from the Grand Master himself. With the infusion of the dark side in the Dokugan-Ryu’s sabers, Manji would have two of the most finely made sabers his younger brother could provide.
Lowering the hilts into his hands, Sasuke opened his eyes and ignited the blades. Crisp, silver beams escaped their resting place with a roar and hum. They were truly beautiful weapons, designed after the daisho set his brother held claim to after the Reclamation. As he continued his inspection of the lightsabers, he could hear the shower turn off and the door open. Maria stood in the doorway, a towel wrapped around her stunning form, another working to dry her hair.
Shikyo turned towards her and smilled, receiving a wink from the woman as she returned to the bathroom, sauntering slightly. Looking at the hilts and then looking back at the doorway, the Keibatsu placed the hilts in his bag and smirked.
“Unfortunately for you brother, I have some work that cannot be postponed.”
Temporary Czerka Headquarters
Docking Bay 14
A ferocious scream of rage tore through the silence of the small office, closely followed by loud crashing sounds as the Czerka official swept a pile of components off his desk and onto the floor, staring angrily at the slightly-shaking Czerka guard before him.
"I'm sorry to report, sir, that, uh... two of our men were found mutilated in Valhalla Plaza, impaled on the spikes of that art foundation in the middle."
The official's eyes narrowed to slits as breath hissed between his teeth, signs of a man struggling to keep his fury in check.
"Dlarit... they'll pay for this insult! How dare some little, backwater company think that they can challenge Czerka?!"
Slamming his fist down on the communications panel, the official opened a channel to the head of the Czerka security forces on San Korinar, billeted on the other side of the spacious docking bay. A puzzled query was the response- from the sound of it, the head of the security forces had been settling down to lunch. The official's voice blasted him into terrified obedience as he screamed into the communicator.
"Kerrus, take a heavily-armed squad of guards round to Valhalla Plaza and shoot any member of the Dlarit Corporation that you see. They want a war, we'll give them a karking war!"
"Uh... yessir, Mr. Arking!"
The boiling purple gas clouds of Amphor glinted in the sunlight, casting a beautiful light across Manji's suite. Lying back on the bed, the newly-elevated Pontifex of Clan Naga Sadow perused the ceiling, deep in thought. Suddenly a beeping from his commlink jolted him into full awareness, the voice of Terana drawling into the silence of the room, his words taut and worried.
"My Lord, we have a problem..."
With a sigh, Manji barked a curt response.
"What is it now, Reni?"
"I've heard from some of my informants that a heavily-armed group of Czerka guards is moving through the streets towards these offices. I suspect they may want revenge for the two Czerka guards that you- that were found dead outside."
For a moment, the silence was frigid and still as Manji's face contorted into an icy-cold snarl. Then he leapt to his feet, snapping off the commlink and striding out of the suite. Booted feet thudded through the corridors towards Shikyo's suite, where the Pontifex ignored the 'Do Not Disturb' sign hanging on the doorknob and kicked the door open, raising his voice into a shout.
"Shikyo! Get your goddamn pants on, we've got business to attend to!"
Maria shrieked as she grabbed for any sheets to cover over her naked form while Shikyo shot up from the bed, searching for clothes and cursing in every language he had learned. Manji was already heading down the hall as the Herald grabbed the essentials: pants, boots, blasters, lightsabers. Moving back to the bed, Shikyo planted a quick kiss on the frightened young woman before telling her to stay in the room.
The Consul wasted no time making it outside the resort while the Herald decided on the quicker, more destructive route of breaking through a window and out onto the street with his brother. Landing firmly on his feet, Nekura smirked slightly as the two ran.
"You couldn't use the door like a normal person?"
"You increased the urgency of the situation when you interrupted me."
As the two Keibatsu made their way towards Valhalla Square, Shikyo began to focus on all the areas slashed by the broken glass, allowing the Force to seal the wounds. With the Force fueling their legs, it wasn't long before the two Pontifexes approached the screams of terror followed by blaster fire. The scene reminded Shikyo of the Akumatsu; men coming with the soul purpose of annihilation against a smaller group. Each scene of this particular past replayed over and over in the Herald's head, bringing his jaws to clench and his hands to grip his sabers as tight as possible.
Howling like a mad beast, Shikyo rushed out towards the group, followed closely by his elder brother. Three silver blades accompanied a scarlet blade in declaring death to the Czerka enforcers as they began to carve their way through the armored men. Blaster fire soon found its way from unarmed civilians to the two warriors hellbent on destroying the intruders. Screams of fear and death swept through the Czerka ranks as severed limbs and destroyed bodies began to litter the streets of San Korinar.
Bringing his sabers across the body of an unfortunate soul, Shikyo turned back towards the Atlas and Titan Buildings and noticed the markings of Dlarit soldiers. A demonic smirk found its way upon the Wolf's lips as he saw this squad rush out to meet a fresh group of Czerka mercenaries. This skirmish had just turned into a battle and the Herald was savoring every moment of it.
While the Keibatsu had made quick work of the first wave of invaders, two more waves met the Dlarit soldiers head on as well as began to infiltrate the buildings of their employers. Turning towards Manji, Shikyo allowed the Force to speak for him without having to raise his voice over the blaster fire.
'Take Atlas. I'll protect Titan.'
Dokugan-Ryu nodded before making his way towards the Atlas building. Turning his direction towards Titan, two Czerka enforces cried out in aggression upon their mark, vibroswords in hand. Two soft whispers from a blaster rang out before each bolt found its way between the eyes of the unfortunate souls. Turning to look over his shoulder, Shikyo saw the slender, seductive form of Maria Rinslet in the black body suit he saw her in when they first met. Smirkling while running towards the building, the young woman stayed beside him with a playful grin on her face.
"I thought I told you to stay in the room."
Maria winked as they entered the building.
"And miss all the fun?"
Keeping his devilish smirk upon his lips, Shikyo began to feel through the Force for any Czerka lives waiting to be reaped.
"You know, I think I might be falling for you. Let's go."