My conversation with Syd provided me with one other unexpected and critical piece of information. Syd had retrieved a long distance communication device from Stormforce and he complained that instead of using it to track down Stormforce activity it was collecting dust amongst the other equipment at the New Republic storage facility.
Getting access to that device quickly became my primary goal, and after quickly planning the raid with Odell I went to see Raveem. I met him right as he was closing up shop, I convinced him to take me inside for the sake of privacy. I explained to him that the Colonists were attacking the Burning Diamonds and it was best to stay indoors until the fighting was over. With the gang taken care of, the only real threat we had was Stormforce, which gave an excuse to ask about the device and to make sure it was still there.
Raveem complied and I was pleased that I did not need coerce the man as he showed me the room. It was clearly in frequent use, despite Syd’s claims and the com-device was displayed on the center table. It was quite battered but I recognized the model and while pretending to admire it, carefully placed a surveillance device inside one of its cracks. I was about to head out as Raveem absentmindedly mentioned the log of the people going in and out. I heard guards walking along the corridors outside but decided to risk it and had him show me the log. The Governor came here every 3 days at the same time. Her last visit was 3 days ago…
I tried to make a hasty retreat with Raveem but it wasn’t hasty enough. One of the Governess’ guards heard us and so I had my second meeting with Miss Goshasp that day. I explained how it was all a misunderstanding and that we had simply taken our conversation inside to stay out of the ongoing conflict. She seemed to think I wasn’t a threat but her ire seemed instead to be directed at Raveem and brought him with her for further questioning. The guard led me outside and I went to make sure my arrangement with Zatveega didn’t get my bodyguard killed.
I had already warned Cheol-Su that she was about to get ambushed and while she did not seem to enjoy the way I had arranged things, seemed content to settle the score with Zatveega. My bodyguard was a terrible liar however and so I didn’t tell her that I would be there as back up. I dressed up in colonist garb, the hat and scarf hiding most of my features and waited for Zatveega to attack Cheol-Su. I didn’t have to wait long, my bodyguard came waltzing along in the alleyway and soon Zatveega was there with a couple of thugs. She kept her word and at least initially fired at Cheol-Su with her rifle’s stun setting but it was what she had planned afterwards that made me uncertain, that and how closely she was tied to The Governor. I figured I’d first even the odds and used the stun grenade I got off the body of one of the Burning Diamonds, but it was yet another dud. That was genuinely disconcerting, that’s the second time that had happened and those grenades definitely came from New Republic warehouses. Was someone selling the New Republic faulty ammunition?
As the blaster fight grew more hectic, I realized there was no time to be fancy, so I shot the Twi’lek in the head. It was not a killing blow, but it ruined the girl’s pretty face. Cheol-Su launched a final barrage at her and she dropped to the floor, prompting her thugs to run away. Cheol-Su was torn on what to do with the Twi’lek but seeing how she didn’t know who I was due to my get up, finally asked me to get Zatveega to the hospital, and then went ahead to join the fight with the Bruning diamonds.
I leaned over the girl, gently turning her head over to one side to hide her injury. She really was exquisite; proud and talented. She looked quite young like this, without her stoic façade making herself look older. Her only real crime was allowing herself to be dragged into my theatrics and being at the wrong place and the wrong time. I could save her, but now she was a threat, her pride would not allow her to forget this and she would be coming after Cheol-Su, likely even after we left the planet. And so I killed her, stashed her body in a garbage pile in the alley way and returned to being the laughing and charming Sidland Rowker, host and owner of the most prestigious seedy cantina on Rakaa IV.
The raid on the Burning Diamonds had gone well and the gang seemed to have been largely stamped out. The colonists celebrated back at the cantina and even Calo Syd made an appearance, sitting alone in one of the corners. They knew that there was no real safety for them as long as Stormforce were still out there, but that night, they celebrated.
As the colonists sang their tunes and unsteadily danced their dances, I idly thought about how easily I could simply leave this type of work behind me, start up a new life, a new identity, start a family and simply grow old and let the Galaxy sort out its own mess.
I smiled ruefully to myself, that’s probably what a sane person would dream about in my position. I’d likely blow my brains out within the first week of such a gambit. I thought about the Twi’lek bounty hunter, I probably should have felt more about her murder than I did, but in truth I barely felt anything. There was the Assignment and nothing else, there wasn’t room or need for anything else.
My work isn’t very nice, but I’m quite good at it. I don’t particularly enjoy manipulating people, nor do I enjoy killing, scaring or even seducing them, but as I sat there at the cantina that I now owned, surrounded by friends who didn’t know me, celebrating our victory against enemies I never cared about, I did feel the ingrained satisfaction of a job well done. My work might not be very nice, but I do like it, after all, it’s all I’ve got.
The next three days were largely inconsequential, they largely focused maintaining and strengthening contacts but I got no closer to the Governor. I did not dare to act rashly since she was likely suspicious of me due to our last meeting. Then finally, during the evening 3 days after I had placed the device, I finally got what I was looking for. A conversation between Goshasp and a member of Stormforce, possibly even Kyrios Moto himself. My eagerness was dampened however as the man told the Governor that they had caught Marion. Any unwanted feelings of worry about her were quashed as he continued his report. She had betrayed me, not only me but the rest of the New Republic. She had warned them of a sabotage attack against them, as well as intel on members of her crew… and she had given them my name. Kyrios Moto had access to the Shadow Council, he could easily spread that information across Imperial space and my military record that I had spent the vast majority of my life carefully constructing and polishing and which was currently my strongest weapon against them, would be ruined.
More pressingly however, it would not take long for the Governor to realize that I was Sidland Rowker and would soon send men after me. I sent an emergency com-signal to Director Jatru and sent over the conversation. That should be sufficient evidence, at least to conduct a more thorough investigation. The Director assigned a small crew of soliders to depose her, while I went into hiding.
I asked what was to be done regarding the traitor, and he explained that if possible, we should ideally rescue her as she was still an asset, which I agreed with. I along with Cheol-Su and AR-47 was sent to the Ithorian church for refuge and to get contact with the rest of Tarrk’s team, that she apparently abandoned.
I met Jaxx and Xomae at the entrance and as I walked in, I once again met High Priest Quahp Chuwmurlq. He was displeased about the amount of people with busted kneecaps I had been sending to his hospitals, but he admitted that I had kept to my promise, if only in the most literal sense of it. He agreed to shelter us within the church until the New Republic reinforcements arrived. The junior agents showed me to a safe room downstairs where I met Doctor Vetko Slorren, he seemed utterly unemotional and only seemed to care about his job. I rather liked the man.
He showed me the effects of the explosion he had arranged, and that Marion had warned them about. Had it come as a surprise, it was sure to have taken out most of their defenses, not to mention killing a sizeable portion of their technicians, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Based on the communication feed, that was no longer the case seeing as how they were already on the move. I questioned the two junior agents why they had not stopped Tarrk when they could. They claimed that doing so would be insubordination, which was true, but allowing her to indulge her lunacy of walking into the enemy camp was far worse. They were however not technically officially deployed so I suppose they weren’t insubordinate or anything, just foolish.
They explained that she had gone after them because she had found proof that her sister was stationed inside the base and went there to save her. Leana Tark, that was a name I had not heard in a long time and it likely explained how Kyrios had gotten his information. Kyrios Moto, I had heard a lot of things about the man and his promotion to moff, despite his young age seemed to have been well earned. In fact, he had been somewhat of an inspiration for many of us back in the day and I did not fault Tarrk for not withstanding his interrogation, I faulted her for not having the good sense to bite off her tongue when it became clear that she was going to break.
At any rate, seeing as how the transmission had just happened, they were likely travelling to their new base at that very moment, meaning that perhaps it would allow us to track their movement to the new base, and if possible, find Tarrk. To do so we needed a ship and our best bet would be The Skaven. We made our way out and Xomae and Cheol-Su kept any New Republic troopers wanting to apprehend us off our back and quickly made our escape into the jungle.
It took quite some time and the good doctor calibrated his instruments as we went. Finally in a clearing we saw what could only be a blaster fight between Stormtroopers and the natives. The Stormtroopers were losing and I considered the possibility of taking some of them alive for questioning when Jaxx pointed out that Tarrk was amongst them. With the group clearly separated from the main force it was likely the best shot we were going to get.
Jaxx took the ship unsteadily as close down as he could, and I, Xomae, and Cheol-Su leaped out. There was a woman clutching the unconscious Tarrk close to her as she tried but failed to keep one of the monstrous natives from getting to them, Leana Tarrk then. I called out, hailing the empire and then set about to cull the natives along with the others. I managed to get to my ‘partner’ and rammed a stim pack into her. Xomae and Cheol-Su dispatched the last remaining natives and I called for Leana to join us back at the ship but she did not seem to want to leave the others behind and wanted us to regroup with the others. So I had Cheol-Su shoot her. This understandably alerted the nearby Stormtroopers but Tarrk mowed them down leaving me to take down the last straggler.
We brought the unconscious woman and the traitor with us and took off as quickly as possible. Tarrk had gone back to unconsciousness almost immediately upon setting foot on the ship with her sister so there was not much questioning to be done. Instead we left the planet to await orders from High Command.
A few hours later we were alerted that the now former Governor, Banu Goshasp had been arrested and the mission had been a success. I should be pleased with this, the Assignment was over but I could not shake the uneasiness of knowing that Stormforce were still out there preparing to regroup. And they had my name.