Age of Rebellion

Corran Sloane, Episode II: The Shadow Concordance, Part 5
Confrontations

The next day, while Marion was still in her tub, I set out to make preparations; supplies, concealments and after some thought, I arranged some basic black sun disguises, better to have Skeelos blame them than us.

Me and Vicrushakal kept ourselves busy going through the news and potential leads on our investigation. Although I was annoyed with the Zabrak for immediately causing a disturbance like last night after having vouched for him, it did seem as though Zarvady had kept his end of the bargain and had helped Durastar and the New Republic reclaim a lot of territory. The Neimoidians had kept themselves busy and began working with others on planet while waiting for the verdict and Skeelos had apparently shipped in more foodstuffs to his factories.

This supported my earlier theory regarding Skeelos using slave labour and made his operations look increasingly shadier, sadly that in turn made him look like a less likely candidate for the empire to pick unless they were desperate. Why would they risk using slave labour when exposure would immediately ruin their plans, then there was the fact that that Xomae was sent to fake an attempt at the president’s life while wearing gear that could be traced back to Skeelos. Something was off about this, but the only way to learn for sure was to follow through and see what Skeelos had to hide.

We set out at night and set up an ambush on one of Skeelos’ trucks. It was a messy ordeal but we managed to neutralize the driver and claim the truck. Marion took the wheel while I and Vicrushakal hid ourselves beneath the rocks and ore shipped off for processing; already the face covering black sun helmets were paying off.

It was unpleasant ride but not any worse than others I’ve been on and before long we arrived at the gates. Thankfully the guides seemed disinterested and undisciplined, and didn’t make a proper scan and waved Marion in as soon as she used Ran’s ID card.

Then we waited, we heard the sound of a heavy door opening, some beeping, some indistinct conversation, and then finally a blaster shot. That was our signal and we began digging ourselves out and exited the vehicle. Strange, the factory was still operating seemingly at full output even during the night. Vicrushakal began working on the computers but it seemed as though they were cut off from most of the outside and didn’t even find plans for the factory, he did however find a list of those working and it was filled with unregistered workers and other unknowns.

Sadly this meant we did now have a map of the layout and thus couldn’t use the maintenance tunnels to get around without risk of getting lost or worse. Thus we decided to continue through the reactor room? which we knew was guarded by two driods. Marion had volunteered as bait to draw the droids fire but I thought it more prudent to stop her from willfully throwing herself in front of blaster fire for once. Droids like people are easily deceived if you know how and thus it should be easier to draw their fire in other ways.

Thankfully Marion had not killed the guard but simply stunned him, good, he still had a steady heat signature. We tied the man to his chair and I pushed him along with us and as we entered the room, I pushed the man In front of the droids, two turrets, and had him draw the droids fire. I ran up to the power cores for cover and to stay out of their line of vision while Vicrushakal set out to cut off security so as to not alert the guards.

The distraction worked for a while, but they seemed unusually focused for mere droids and didn’t fall for the tricks that usually worked on their models. Unfortunately this meant that Marion seemed to go back to her earlier plan to draw their fire, and draw their fire she did. The turrets bombarded her with a barrage of blaster rounds, throwing her off the ground, she ran towards the power core where I had taken cover but remained out in the open drawing their attention. She was going to get herself killed like that. Vicrushakal had managed to cut the droids off from the rest of the system but they were still hailing blaster rounds at us.

The time for subtle deception was over, and so I began to leg it, if I could get to the door I might make it seem as though the threat had left the area. But I was too slow, and I took as nasty hit to the side as a reward. Things began to look quite bleak when finally Vic turned the things off, then rebooted them to follow us instead.

Marion was battered and visibly shaken, but was still moving, that was something at least. Regardless of what the New Republics say about them, Stormtroopers conditioning was nothing to sneeze at. Vic had gotten the plans for the area and thus allowed us to move more stealthily across the facility, we reached a path that would take us past a working furnace. The noise was too loud but it seemed as though Marion wanted to investigate it, it seemed foolhardy, especially with her injuries but if she thought she could do it, we might as well let her and learn something.

We waited and just about the time it seemed prudent to look for her, she came back with a scowl on her face. We continued on and when we were in the clear she explained that they were indeed using slaves and that the guards were on edge after having captured someone snooping around.

We continued on and went to the elevator that would take us to the Security Center. While Vic began working on accessing the elevator, two guards came along patrolling. Marion and I were ready for them and we picked them off with one shot each. Then we dragged their bodies with us and made our way up.

A single soldier stood at salute, assuming we were his superior. I shot him dead as Marion went to attack a fiber glass barrier, keeping us from the control system. Vic began working on the door of the place but the operatives inside began preparing turrets to gas us. I picked up one of the bodies and together with Marion charged the crack she had made in the barrier, breaking through enough to let her get inside.

The guards were quickly dispatched of and Vic could turn off the gas before any damage was done. He then began accessing the system, it seemed to be going well but the transfer of that much data took time. Inside the room was a bounty coffer, similar to the one I borrowed from Twitch and since they apparently thought he was important, we decided to take him with us. It also gave us a reason why “The Black Sun” had attacked them. Me and Marion went ahead towards the roof while Vic focused on the data transfer. We didn’t get far though as we were stopped by the head of secrurity, Takuro Shem. We fired off a volley each and then Marion went into a melee with him. The fight was over quickly with Marion kicking the officer from the roof. Marion went to help Vic and I continued on preparing a ride for us.

I joined up with the others and Marion took the controls. Skeelos’ men had sent an attack vehicle after us. The ride was…. distressing but through various pipes and some minor crashes, we were out and about, back on the streets of Coruscant. It seemed as though being a passenger of Marion would always be somewhat nerve wracking, but there could be no doubt that she was an excellent pilot.

We returned to base and began to resuscitate the man we had brought with us. We took a short rest while we left him in the bacta tank and when he got back on his legs told us his name was Donar Belis, a New Republic officer who had gotten a tip by a floating protocol droid about Skeelos’ operations. He had gone to investigate but Shem had taken him out.

Talo had sent him there and at first it seemed it was to set Skeelos up, but as I learned more about his investigation it seemed more likely that she sent him there to get rid of him. He had noticed how the black comet had sabotaged and run competitors out of the running for months, and when I compared those areas with those the Neimoidians had later taken over, It was an almost perfect match. We had found the Belikos’s ally, now we needed to prove it.

Vic dialed me in to the Black Comet using the codes and frequency given to us by Zarvady, and Xomae and I pretended to be a Black Sun thug with information on the New Republic agents in the area. I knew that even if they didn’t believe me, they could not afford not to listen to me. I let the conversation go on as long as possible, and arranged a meeting with one of them.

Sadly Vic was unable to pin down the source but he did manage to track the ship they had sent down. We had to act quickly, Marion and Vic would investigate the ship while I kept their operative busy. I didn’t know what to expect or how many people they would send so made sure to call in Malo and Twitch. I arrived ahead of schedule and set up the disguise and waited.

Soon the contact arrived, a small droid floating around her, she too was disguised but there was no mistaking her; Agent Dinah Talo. I wasted a bit of time with petty taunts, pointing out that she had been reduced to handing over death sticks to bottom tier criminals but it didn’t take long for her to figure out who I was. She confirmed my suspicion of them working with the Neimoidians and we fell into easy bantering with one another. It was enjoyable while it lasted and I once again tried to make her see that the Empire had fallen, that there was no sense in joining whatever it was that Belikos was trying to accomplish.

She told me I had grown weak, and perhaps it was my mind playing tricks on me, but she seemed genuinely saddened by that realization. She once again mentioned my reaction to Marion’s torture and with that she realized what I had been doing, buying time. It was clear that there would be no convincing her, so I shot her. The hit only grazed her and she responded by delivering a nasty hit to my leg. I called in for Malo and Twitch and they kept her from going back towards the ship. She sent her droid to explode on me and the damn thing nearly blew my hand off.

That was the distraction she needed and made her escape, Malo and Twitch made valiant effort to try and find her but I knew it would be practically pointless, hell I could barely keep myself from going into shock due to the pain, much less go after a trained agent. Instead I contacted command and told them of the Neimoidians treachery and to make sure to keep them from entering hyperspace. Marion and Vic soon joined me and they were able to identify the real name of the Black comet: the Neimoidian escort ship The Dagger of Koru.

And that was that. Despite the two’s best effort they couldn’t hide their shock and disgust at my ruined hand. It was strange, despite the pain I had to keep myself from chuckling at their reaction and the situation itself. Still, I let a smile streak my face, I had beaten her. The game was over and yes, she had certainly come close to winning and yes, she might have ruined my hand and yes, I had had people to support me, but in the end results are all that matters. And she knew it.

More importantly of course, we had also completed our mission and as we made our report to base came to the conclusion that the best course of action was likely to lay claim to Skeelos’ operations and staff It with those slaves there willing to work there for an actual paying wage along with the Neimoidian workers that were deemed trustworthy as well as some potential assistance from Durastar who had played an important part in the war effort.

We were promoted to full agents and that was that. Skeelos had gone into hiding, Princess Vayet was deemed innocent of treason as it appeared as though Grand VIzier Otek Canay was the one organizing things behind her back. Still, she was ultimately responsible and it would likely set back the Neimoidian’s work to join the New Republic significantly.

As for me, I had the doctors patch up my hand. One of them had suggested that it would be easier to simply remove it and attach a mechanical substitute, but I explained to him that it was my hand and I had grown attached to it. It left a scar of course, and for a moment I entertained the idea of keeping it as something to remember Dinah by. I quickly scolded myself and had the doctors wipe it clean. No emotional attachments.

Which reminded me, I would make sure not to have myself partnered with SL- 1517 on the next assignment. Talo had been right, I was growing soft.

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Marion Tarrk Episode 3 Part 2
The Native's Unrest

The Native’s Unrest
The plan never survives contact with the enemy

Marion spoke to command. However, the response what not what she expected. She could not get official orders, only, basically, a request. She quickly concluded that getting aid from the current governor of the system, would be difficult. She set up a meeting with the governor, to at least speak to her. She also figured she would meet with the ithorian high priest. The meeting with the high priest came first. This meeting was personal, as well as professional. After hearing about their culture, she wanted to pay her respects to the high priest himself. She had also seen similarities between how command spoke of the governor, and how agents speak about governors that they suspect are traitors… The difference being that the Republic is much more subtle, and less accusatory about it. The high priest had no official power to aid her, but seem to appreciate what her meeting represented. The agent in charge of the mission went to see him, as well as the actual leader. The meeting with the governor, on the other hand, went exactly as expected. Well, not quite. Marion thought the governor may have wanted to try and stop her, but she made it clear that she was not going to. With that, Marion returned to her team and geared up exited the city. The team was mostly ready, save for Xomea, who was administering her meds. This better not slow us down., Marion thought, but Xomea ensured her it would not. The scientist they were bringing was called Vetko Slorren, and was used to working with the Empire so Marion obviously got along swimmingly with him.

The only way out into the wilderness was by climbing down the side of the wall. This went went without issue. They started moving through the forest, but it was somewhat more dense than Marion had anticipated, so they went through a different path than she had planned, looking at the map. This should be fine, as well, Marion thought to herself, as there shouldn’t be any megabeasts up on this plateau. However, after some forced march they went found web traps. The local fauna that caused this, the natives of the planet, should normally not be up here. Marion thought it might be guerilla tactics from the storm troopers. A herd of beasts was coming toward the team, and some got caught in the traps. They split up to avoid the hunters coming behind the herd. Xomea went on her own, through the forest, while Marion lead the doctor and Jaxx. She managed to get them away taking a wide berth, and they were able to go pretty far ahead of the hunting party. Marion decided to go back, to check on Xomea. What am I doing? The plan never survives contact with the enemy… But I can’t leave anyone behind., Marion was unsure that was the best plan, but she decided to go back regardless. She made a mistake, however. She was unused to the terrain, and stepped on something that wasn’t exactly soundless, and alerted the natives to her presence. They say the plan never survives contact with the enemy, but this is just embarrassing!, Marion thought to herself.Two came towards her, but she managed to fight them off. She saw the natives start following some tracks. They were not Marion’s team’s footprints, but likely Xomea. Marion followed follow the tracks herself, until she came across a tree, that Xomea had likely scaled, with a native closing in on her. She engaged the native, and with Xomea’s help they took it down. They quickly left, and joined up with the rest of the team. They reached the cliff, and had to scale down. This time there was no harness to aid them, so they set up a rope. Marion also tied the doctor to herself, should he fall, she would… attempt… to catch him. They found a cave to rest in, for the night. Marion was commended by her leadership, and Xomea thanked her for coming back for her. But Marion knew, she had failed as a leader. She had gone back, alone. She put herself, and her team, in unnecessary danger. Even so, they turned in for the night.

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Corran Sloane, Episode II: The Shadow Concordance, Part 4
Emotional Attachments

A soldier had lied to me, that’s always a sign that something bad was going to happen. Usually soldiers lie to save their own skin in one way or another, but when they lie about someone else, that’s usually far worse. That means that they are emotionally attached, thus a risk to the operation.

Learning what Skeelos was hiding from us seemed like the fastest way of learning if he was Belikos’ pawn or not. During our tour, we had barely seen any workers at the metal factories, and an unusually high amount of supplies seemed to be shipped in as well. This combined with the limited areas we were allowed to inspect clearly indicated that he was hiding something. I suspected, due to his past, that it meant he was dealing with slave labour, but it could also be something more directly related to our investigation. That was why gaining intel was so important and why Marion’s attachment could not be allowed to interfere.

I waited for Marion to begin her preparations for the operation, and confronted her about it. She seemed confused about what I was saying, as if she hadn’t even realized that she had done it. But after reflecting on it, she admitted her mistake and agreed to try and get her friend to help us get into Skeelos’ factory.

The plan was simple, Marion would meet with her friend and get as much information out of her as possible, then we would meet up at base and set out to infiltrate the factory and be out before dawn. As it seemed as though Marion’s task would take some time, I decided to keep myself busy as well. While Vicrushakal continued with background checks on the factory I made my way to some of the shadier areas of Coruscant.

I wanted to find more information about Lye Xomae that Ran had mentioned. She had gone into hiding but seemed to be making a living in some of the illegal fight clubs the planet had to offer. I had gotten a lead from Twitch about where to start looking, but Coruscant was big place, and I needed more help to narrow it down. It took some time, but finally I found the type of person I was looking for; a ‘Big Guy’, a man who knew he was big and tough, and made others aware of the fact, but also with enough brains and confidence not to be too full of himself. People like that tend to garner the respect of those around them, which usually also means they are up to date with most things of note around them. His name was Malo and I quickly made sure to befriend him.

I was in luck, he did indeed know about Xomae and she even had a fight starting fairly soon. Malo took me there and I let Twitch know where the fight was happening. We arrived at the club, if one could even call it that, it didn’t even have a name, and likely didn’t officially exist. Malo was cheerful and quickly began taking bets; I chipped in a few credits myself and made myself at home amongst Coruscants scum and villainy… as well as the Twi’lek girl who had gotten herself punched earlier that day aboard the Neimoidian personnel ship.

She confidently swayed her hips across the club, clearly showing the people around her that she was out of their league, and subtly insinuated being together with the meanest, scariest looking people around her when any of them made any advances. I wasn’t sure how much of it was the Twi’lek’s natural grace and how much was skill, but I had to admit, she was quite good. She settled outside the areas where the fighters were coming from and waited.
I didn’t have time to see what she was there for, because soon after she arrived, the fighters exited the arena. First was the apparent fan favorite, a heavily cybernetically enhanced Twi’lek woman named Liitara with robotic legs, next was a large gamorrean prodded along by jawas, and then finally Xomae made her entrance.

Malo had mentioned that those who lost were usually simply left there, only aided by those who felt they were worth the credit to save. Thanks to this, I was hoping that Xomae would lose, allowing me to simply take her with me rather than squeezing her for answers here. It started to seem unlikely however as after a short bout, Xomae cut Liitara down and began circling in on the gamorrean.

Their fight was far cruder and took both fighters out of the fighting area and in amongst the crowd. Xomae used the crowd to hide, leaving me face to face with the brute. It was not hard to distract him, and Xomae used the opportunity to strike him down. She turned to face me and asked what I wanted to speak to her about, the umbaran ‘mind reading’ in action. She did, it seemed, not read the mind of Liitara though, as she had recovered and skewered Xomae through the back, claiming herself victor of the fight.

Excellent. Right as I was about to pick up the umbaran, Liitara signaled to a group of thugs, all with cybernetic enhancements, all branded with Zymaltech’s logo. I had heard about them, apparently they recruited people into their gang by implanting them with bombs or similar devices, ensuring their loyalty and it seemed as though they had found their latest recruit.

I did not have much time to spare, I adjusted my identifications to have its photo resemble one of the thugs instead and as Marlo and I went near them, I bumped into him making it seems as though he had dropped it, right in front of Malo. Malo reacted just the way I hoped he would, accusing them of being ‘knarks’ and so the fight was underway. I picked up the ID and went around the commotion and shot the man carrying Xomae. I picked her up and began moving out but I got careless and got spotted at the last moment.

I got grazed by two of the Zymaltech’s blaster rounds before I could put him down. Then I made for my escape, I had gotten outside the club, but was still stuck alone in the slums dragging a bleeding woman with me. But, punctual as ever, Twitch arrived to join the fight, a few death sticks persuaded him to think differently and he let me use one of his bounty coffers where I could store Xomae. I patched her up best I could and then we were off.

I quickly learned that having Twitch drive me in a state regulated, hover moped was quite different from him driving me in a swoop bike, but as long as he didn’t kill us, we were safe. My carelessness had gotten myself hurt before an important operation, which was somewhat irksome, but all in all it was likely worth it. As we got near Twitch’s hangout I called Vicrushakal to have him drive us to the safe house. He answered the coms, but it was obvious something was wrong. “Marion is dead”.

Vicrushakal had lost contact with her some time ago and after tracking down the signal, found it inside a trash compactor. It took a moment for me to process the information. I had only known her for a few months so it wasn’t as though her death should be particularly relevant to me, beyond setting back our plans a bit. I had sent Stormtroopers to their death many times before this, there was no reason why this should be any different.

Yes, we had happened to save each other’s lives a few times during our assignments and yes, she was one of the last connections to the life I had before the empire fell, and yes, while occasionally aggravating and annoying, I didn’t hate her. But still, there was no reason why this should be any different.

I let the Twi’lek know that we would have to adjust our plans and get more information. Information on Skeelos and on whoever had killed Marion and how much about our operation they had figured out. The likely candidate was Talo but why would she risk her cover by killing a Stormtrooper? And how would she have known where to attack her?

No, there were too many unanswered questions and little point thinking about it. We settled Xomae inside the bacta tank where Marion had spent most of her time since arriving on the planet and went on to plan our next step. We didn’t make much headway, with little intel on the facility it would be difficult to pull off with just the two of us. I might be able to infiltrate the place as a new hire, but it would be difficult now that my face was known amongst them.

When the umbaran had recovered sufficiently we took her out of the tank and into the cell where we had stored Zarvady. We had removed her weapons and a series of chems she had on her, but as an assassin it was possible that she was still a threat, but I was in a foul mood due to the change of plans and my wound had started hurting a lot more and I was not in the mood to draw things out.

I went into the cell along with her but didn’t chain her up like I had the Zabrak. Intimidation would likely not get me very far with her, and I preferred that she would give me information freely. She eventually came to and seemed to catch on what was happening quite quickly.

In the interest of saving time I was as open as I could with her, which clearly surprised her. I told her who I was, what I was doing and what I needed her to tell me and, with a little bit of prodding, she complied. She was grateful to me for saving her from being forcefully recruited into Zymaltech and similarly to the cell’s previous occupant, she seemed weak against compliments and having her ego stroked, and before long she seemed to indicate that she was willing to stroke me back. I was unsure if this was a genuine response or a way for her to reassert a measure of control, sex being one of the best ways to do so.

Regardless of her reasoning, she seemed ready to help us and provided me with information about Skeelos as well as information about the black comet. They had been the ones who had contacted her and asked her to fake the attack on the president. She didn’t know anyone on board the ship, the only contact had been a modified protocol droid but after the attack they had cut off ties with her.

That was definitely relevant information, as she detailed her interaction with them, it seemed as though Agent Talo had been quite busy and it was likely that the black comet might not even be tied to the black sun at all, and only run by Belikos’ men. She promised to provide clearance codes and other assistance to go along with our frequencies if we helped her get revenge on Liitara. I promised I would set things in motion and left her cell.

I began debriefing Vicrushakal about what I had learned when Marion came waltzing in, battered and bruised but otherwise seemingly unconcerned about the current state of affairs. Apparently she had run into Zarvady and by the sounds of it, he had tried to court her by bashing her face in. I ordered her to tell us with what she learned, after which I pointed out that due to her inability to keep in touch and keep a schedule, the operation would have to be delayed until the following night.

Her incompetence had already cost us enough time and so she had better make up for it by getting herself ready inside the bacta tank. Indeed, once again emotional attachments had jeopardized the operation. We had to be detached to be able to make level headed decisions. Still, strangely, when I saw her making her way back into the bacta tank I noticed that my wound didn’t hurt as much anymore.

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Marion Tarrk Episode 3 Part 1
Re-Connecting

Re-Connecting
What great timing.

Marion’s wounds were severe, and as such, it took quite some time to recover properly from. All she could think about during her recovery was Ran. She was also curious as to how things went after the mission, and all, but mostly Ran. She hadn’t been quite honest with Ran, or herself, during their encounters. At first there was the shock factor, of seeing her again. But even after that, she was on duty, she had a job to do. So, she wasn’t truly there. She was still on a mission.

As she was cleared, Marion requested some leave to visit Ran, in prison. She was told that Ran had been moved for her security. Marion quickly found out where, and chartered a route there. On the way there, she was calm and collected. However, as she got closer she got worried. What if Ran requested the isolation? Is me seeing her really okay? Does she think I abandoned her again?, these questions pummeled her mind until she was woken by the merchant she was flying there with. He confirmed that they were on time, and would be landing fairly soon.

Marion got off the shuttle, still heavy minded, but she pressed on. The merchant had recommended a cantina by name of Miss Vendi. Marion stopped by there first to set herself up with a room. Spartan living arrangements… I prefer it this way., Marion thought to herself, as she saw the small relatively empty room. She left speak to the administration, to figure out how visiting worked, and how she would go about it.

Marion took a shuttle down to the prison, that was on one of the lower platforms. Marion used her soldier training to calm herself down, and not let the worry get to her. She entered the prison, and went through all the procedures. Without really thinking about it, she did look about in a scouting fashion. The Ithorians, who otherwise crowded the administration she visited, seems to scarce to none here. Marion had heard that the Ithorian’s no longer had control of the prison. She was led into a room, empty beyond a table and two chairs. She waited for what seemed like forever, before Ran was led into the room. Ran’s shackles were disabled. Marion heart was pounding. Ran and Marion speak, at first a bit awkwardly, but they loosen up after a bit. They talked about the past, and about the present. But before they were cut off as they finally got the final words out. Great timing, Marion… Wasting all that time., Marion knew what Ran was going to say, because she felt the same.

Marion set up to volunteer on the fields where Ran worked as well. But before that, she needed rest. Marion took a seat in the cantina, before she went to sleep. While there, she met Sameena, a gangster, who also had friends in the prison. Marion kept sipping her drink, until it was time to go to bed.

The next morning, she went out to the fields. The ithorian priests preached words about growth, and how to make up for damage you caused… It rung true in Marion. Perhaps that’s what I’m trying to do, joining the New Republic?, Marion thought to herself, as she listened. She found gardening to surprisingly calming. At lunch she went on a stroll to find Ran. When she found Ran, she also saw some other prisoners that was very clearly setting away from Ran. Marion noticed a jewel tattoo on one of their backs. She remembered seeing this emblem before, it is the Burning Diamond Gang. They noticed her looking at them, and went up to her, confronting her. She wasn’t able to shake them off, and instead gave Ran the sign to circle around. They met up on the edge of a cliff. Ran confirmed Marion’s suspicion that those were the people Ran had fought. They spoke some more. And as they again, was getting to the heart of the matter… The Empire interrupted them, with an attack vessel coming in. The timing… Did they know a Republic Agent was here?… No they couldn’t have known…, Marion thought to herself. They turned to run. Marion tripping on a root, Ran coming back for her. They concluded that they run into the forest, to hide. But it seems both had the same idea. Damnit, Ran!, Marion thought as she was running by the tree line, making herself an easy mark, overlooking Ran doing exactly the same thing. The ship aimed itself at Marion, however. Marion saw her opportunity to evade… But. In front of her, an ithorian priest and some followers. Marion increased her speed, barreling into the ithorian knocking him into the woods, the shot hitting behind Marion knocking her into a tree.

Marion woke up in a hospital bed some days later. I won’t survive long if I keep this up, Marion chuckled to herself. I wonder how Ran did., her thoughts continued. She was informed that an agent was there to see her, so she got up, put her clothes on, and made herself presentable. She didn’t recognise the agent at first, but she introduced herself as Xomae, the assassin who made the fake-attempt on the president of Core Constructions on Coruscant. Apparently, a mission was supposed to take place, but the Agent that was to be in charge hadn’t arrived, so Xomae went to recruit Marion to it. Marion asked about Ran, and it turned out that she was injured, but currently recuperating in the prison hospital. Marion accepted the mission. The next step is to contact command, and get her orders proper…

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Corran Sloane, Episode II: The Shadow Concordance, Part 3
Well Played, Agent Talo

I called the others and told them that we were to leave immediately. I felt an unusual sense of excitement; this was no longer simply a mission, now it was a contest. The game was afoot. Still, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed in Talo, leaving such an obvious link to herself was sloppy.

We updated Princess Vayet that Miss Taret would cause no further issues with her, and more importantly, I told her that Sarfine Dellot was to be apprehended the second she got back onboard the personnel carrier. She confirmed that she was a new hire and was clearly distraught by the news that Dellot had betrayed her trust.

We got directions to the site where she would be working and while it seemed likely that she wouldn’t be returning to the ship, she might try to go out with a bang. The area was a glorified garbage heap, where the Neimoidians were currently running a salvage operation and storing many of their droids. We split up in and approached the site from 3 directions, I went through the slums and was quickly met by one of the few visible people working the site. I acted the part of some riff-raff in need of employment, and was quickly hired and sent to put on worker overalls, all the better infiltrate the place.

Still, no sign of Talo… or barely anyone else for that matter. The place seemed to barely have any workers on site and as I met up with Vicrushakal, Marion explained why. There had been a machine malfunction and it had caused equipment and people to crash down to the city level below and had drawn the attention of most of the workers. Clearly Talo’s work, and likely a distraction. I tried to scan for her to see what she wanted to accomplish by this, but she was nowhere in sight.

Marion who had approached he group confirmed that Sarfine Dellot had gone down to help and I gave her confirmation to follow. Meanwhile, me and Vicrushakal discussed the likely area that she would target if she wanted to cause as much damage as possible. The clear target would be the Mainframe computers stationed in one of the cabins. It should be relatively easy to set up an explosion from below to bring it all down.

With that settled, I went down a maintenance shaft to wait for her to strike. It was pitch black in there but with my goggles and the light from the death stick, I was able to see enough to make it down safely. I kicked open a rusted grate and was about to head out, when everything stopped. Outside was a rancor sized gizka, surrounded by a hive of smaller ones. I took a long intake and waited.

The presence of the creature changed little, I still had to stop Talo if this was where she was headed and based on Marion’s reports she was coming this way. But apparently not under Sarfine Dellot as I had thought, I had been wrong about something, something didn’t line up…

That was as far as my thoughts had time to go before Talo’s voice rang across the room. A floating spherical droid had been following marion and through it Talo taunted us from afar, already having made good her escape. With that the droid self-destructed nearby Marion, drawing the Gizka’s attention. Vicrushakal, who had followed after me gasped as the creature turned to look at Marion who was coming towards us. She leapt up on higher ground, but it didn’t help much as it charged her with its horn. We began opening fire and eventually Marion finished it off as we took out the smaller creatures surrounding her.

We returned to the surface, my colleagues seemed somewhat subdued about the whole ordeal, especially Marion who had taken a nasty hit by the creature, thus adding yet another scar to her growing collection. Still, I had difficulty keeping a grin off my face. She had not been sloppy at all, she had played me, and she had played me good.

We had a quick chat with the real Sarfine Dellot, I gave her a similar talk as I had Taret and informed the Neimoidian princess that while Dellot had been part of the crew causing fights she was not the criminal I suspected.

We returned to the base and began planning for the next day. Vicrushakal pointed out that this likely meant that the Neimoidians were innocent as well. I cautioned him about this, reminding him that Talo had not gone for the mainframe computers, and now it seemed unsure if she was even involved with the riots. It was suspicious, certainly, and was perhaps the best they could accomplish while the ships were in orbit, but it is always beneficial to be distrusting of everyone.

Still, for the moment the Neimoidians were by far the more appealing candidate and so we decided that the next move was to move forward and have a talk with Rangi Skeelos and have a look at his Gundark Inc. His operations were obviously the most suspicious, with his past ties to the Black Sun, especially now with the Zabrak gang and the assassin wielding their blades.

Marion went to her usual place back in the bacta tank for the night and prepared to leave early the next morning. Skeelos met us in one of his clubs, and as we continued through the aisles of male dancers, we were shown to Skeelos’ office. He was surrounded by strong looking bodyguards wearing very little and seemed to be entirely at ease.

The talk went well and he began the meeting by bribing us with customized heavy blasters, excellent. That meant he acknowledged that we were important enough to bribe and to get on our good side. We continued to talk, about his business, fears of industrial espionage targeting him, the strengths and weaknesses of his operation and so on until he finally prepared for a tour of his facilities. When I felt I had learned everything of importance while he still liked me, I risked asking him about the swords the assassin had used. I studied the man’s reaction carefully to gauge his response and he genuinely seemed outraged by it, but he also didn’t seem to think it was impossible that one of his men had done it. Interesting.

He briskly ended the meeting and we met up with our guides. Marion apparently knew one of them, a woman named Ran Bosca, from her time with the empire. This could mean that she was a link between the imperials and Skeelos, but it could also mean that we could use her to get more information.

I let Marion deal with her friend while I focused my attention on a scared, mousy looking woman named Branca Feldor who was in charge of PR for the company, who guided us with clearly pre rehearsed lines. It was clear that she only wanted us to go to very specific areas, going off script was clearly not allowed. Based on her fear when I tried to push this, as well as Ran’s readied blaster rifle behind my back, it seemed Skeelos had been very specific about this.

The final stop was the weapons manufactory that was run by an Ithorian scientist named Ranthak Varr. Skeelos had been suspicious of him leaking secrets and while that was a valid area for investigations, I was currently more interested in what Skeelos was hiding from us and if he was tied to the assassin. The Blades made at the factory were indeed very similar to the ones on the holo vid.

I began questioning Feldor who seemed to have lowered her guard somewhat now that the tour was largely over. We talked a bit about notable swordsmen within the company and amongst those who had left them, and with some assistance from Ran, I learned the name of the most likely suspect, an Umbaran named Lye Xomae who had left the company a few weeks earlier.

With that it seemed we had more or less all we could get from them, and so we left the place to have a late sprunch. The meal went over without much of value being said and we soon left to return to base. I had Vicrushakal examine the pistols for signs of bugging, tracking and the like , and after confirming that they were clean we began planning to visit one of their factories the coming night.

Everything was set, Marion and I shared what we had learned during our talk, and everything seemed to be moving smoothly, except for one thing; Marion had lied to me.

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Marion Tarrk Episode Two Part 5
The Heist

The Heist
How did this happen?!

The plan was set in motion, after a much needed soak in the bacta tank for Marion. The first step was to commandeer a truck of ore. The team set themselves up to jump onto the truck, and blast it from above. Marion did the jumping, of course, with Vic and Sloane doing the blasting from above. Marion waited for the moment to arrive. Why do I always get these jobs? I mean, Sloane looks… Capable physically. Ugh, my body still hurts from that blasted zabrak… Oh, here it comes. She patiently waited, until the truck was close enough for her to simply drop down it. Marion used her vibroknife to stick to the truck, and slid herself down to get sight on the driver. She took a shot, but she missed the driver. Resulting in her getting run into some poles. Ugh… That’s the rib broken again… Fuck this! She thought to herself, as she was able to take care of the pilot with Sloane and Vic’s help. She shot the car to make it stop. She dropped off, limping slightly from the pain, but quickly regained her composure, before Vic and Sloane could see it. This plan is already delayed because of me, I won’t have them delaying it further, because they think I can’t fight. She was using her strong will, and idiotic pride, to keep going, seemingly, without hinder.

Marion took the driver’s clothes, and proceeded to head to the factory, Vic and Sloane hiding among the ore. They came in without too much trouble. Thank you, Ran…, she thought to herself. Well inside, Marion sabotaged the truck slightly to feign the off-loading unit malfunctioning, luring the guard over, taking him down without too much issue, using the stun setting. The team tied him up to his chair. Marion took a lap of the room, while Vic worked on the computer. They decided that the best to go, was through the reactor room, that was guarded by two droids. Droids, huh… Wish I had an ion-blaster, but they are basically re-fitted astromechs, by the looks of it, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. Sloane seemed to have an idea, and sent the guard in first, to distract and confuse the droid’s sensors. It succeeded in giving the team time to get into their positions. Sloane went straight for using the power core’s as cover, as they gambled that they likely didn’t use their full attack on those. Marion took cover behind some metal scrap a bit away from his two companions, and Vic in the back attempting to slice the droids. It was a good plan… Until the droids hit the panel behind Marion, sending her flying, burning her face and torso. How the hell did this happen?! This was supposed to be the easy part! Marion, feeling the pain surging through her body, both old wounds, and the new, panicked, and darted towards the power core, dropping prone, using the walkway as a makeshift cover. She kept firing, destroying one of them. And she kept hammering the other, before Vic managed to slice it. Marion took a stimpack, and grunting from the pain, no longer hiding the fact that she was hurting. We’re too far in now… Can’t back down., she thought to herself, swallowing her pride. Vic found several paths to their location, the vents being the best option for stealth, and potentially for more information.

They entered the vent, that would leave the past the foundry. A fork in the vents would either take them to their location, or to a vent opening that would overlook the foundry area. It laid past the actual burning hot foundries… Marion thought that it would be warm enough to singe her slightly more, but made the judgement that it’d be worth it, if they found more information about Skeelos’ worker situation. The furnace was not as warm as she thought. It gave her new courage to press on. She reached the vent shaft, and found definitive proof that they did indeed employ slaves. And that they were wearing prison anklets, likely from prisons that the Black Sun used to operate. She resisted the urge to charge in and aid the prisoner who was getting beaten. Fuckers…, she thought to herself. Marion’s normally somewhat formal and clean language, was getting drowned more and more by the pain she was feeling in every limb. She went back to her team to report. Afterwhich, they went for the security elevator. It went to the security station on the roof. Vic sliced into the elevator controls, but they heard guards approaching. They would be very easily spotted in the clear elevator, and decided to take them out. A quick volley took the guards down, before they could call for back-up. They entered the elevator and went up.

The team prepared themselves… As soon the door opens, the fighting begins. The thugs that came to meet them, thinking they were the boss, was quickly taken out. And Marion charged the glass, drawing the vibrosword she claimed from the zabrak… It was tough, but she cut through, two slices and it was weakened enough for her to burst through it, Sloane right behind her. They made quick work of the two remaining people inside. There was a man encased in pseudo carbonite suspension, they figured must’ve been the man some guards were talking about earlier, while they were in the vents. Vic went to hacking, while Marion and Sloane went to secure a ride, Sloane opting to bring the frozen man. Well outside, Marion spotted the boss of the place, Takuro Shem. A mild bit of panic struck her, as she originally reached for her vibrosword, to buy Sloane the time he needed, as pain shot through her entire body. Can I do this…? No, I have to!, she psyched herself up. I’ll be smart about it…, she thought to herself, rushing towards Shem, shooting him with her blaster, dropping her blaster rifle, drawing her sword, and engaging him. She shouted for Sloane to get to the ship, while she was face to face with an other vibrosword wielder. Shem swung at her, but she managed to avoid any vital hits. Instead, she saw an opening while they were moving… She kicked him, pushing him to the edge of the roof. He was knocked off his balanced, so she rammed herself into him, actually getting him off the roof. Marion sighed in relief. How did that even happen…?, she was in disbelief, thinking her pain was going to get worse against him. Before she got the calm down too much, she heard grappling hooks shooting into the room where Vic was, she ran back to check on him, cutting off the lines. Vic was just about ready, so they went to catch up with Sloane. Sloane had stolen a hovercar, and flew it up to them. Marion took the pilot seat. Her vision was slightly blurry from the adrenaline, and she didn’t quite see the vent outlet, and rammed straight through it. With that, part of her wanted to slow down a little, but she felt a surge of… Something. And she punched it. They had pursuit coming up shortly behind them. Vic helping with maps, but Marion had an idea. I never said it was a good idea, but it was A idea…, she thought to herself, as she headed straight for an opening of one of the Durostar piping systems. This was a bad idea! I won’t have even a split second to turn in here!, Marion thought to herself. But as Vic started yelling instructions Turn left… NOW!, he would yell behind her. Somehow, she found the calm within her to make a perfect turn, exactly when she needed to. Marion and Vic seemed to have the same idea, they were headed for the hole they originally entered, when they fought the zabrak gang. They were coming up to the whole and… Marion herself could not explain it. Whether she roughly remembered the size of the hole, or if she could see… sense… that they wouldn’t it. Either way, she pulled out her blaster, and few a few good shots, she managed to increase the hole enough so that they fit through… And they were out, no pursuit to be noticed. Marion took a deep sigh, tears welling up. Didn’t think we’d make it, she thought to herself.

They went back to base. Looking over the information, it seemed Skeelo’s was a gangster, and a slave worker… But he was not in league with the empire. However, Sloane seemed to have what he needed to try to contact them. He pretended to be a black sun operative, on a mission gone very bad. He claimed to have information on us, the republic agents, and that we were terrifying. They seemed to buy it. Whoever Sloane spoke to, sent a person, and not a droid, with some supplies, to a set location. The team left to stake out the location, prior to it landing. Vic, R2D6, and Marion stayed at the location, while Sloane went to the designated coordinates, to meet with the individual. The drop ship landed right on time, and as soon as the person, wearing a mask, left their vision Marion, Vic, and D6, went in to slice the drop ship. They got in with little trouble, Marion had to shoot the ship though. And found out that the ship came from one of the neimodian ship, the Dagger of Koru. They all they needed. Vic sealed the ship and set a trap, and Marion made a few more shots, to make it seem like they tried a few times, but ultimately didn’t get in. As they were pulling back, Sloane voice came through, coughing, he informed them that it was agent Talo. Marion ordered D6 and Vic to return to the ship, as she went to back Sloane up. Talo ended up escaping, but they had the information they needed.

They gave the information to the Core Construction president, and reported in with New Republic headquarters. The team went to a New Republic medical facility, to repair themselves. Sloane from exploding, thanks to Talo, and Marion from being… Having a hole shot in her by the zabrak gang, skewered by a giant mutant gizka, being pummeled by the same zabrak, and being exploded, continuously, by the droids. Command contacted them, to congratulate them on their success…

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Corran Sloane, Episode II: The Shadow Concordance, Part 2
Coruscant Core Constructions: Building a Better Tomorrow, Today!

Sadly the twi’lek was unable to find much of note on the thugs’ network, either they had already moved any incriminating evidence or their security was simply too tight for him to get into on site. We did learn about a ship in orbit named the Black Comet that seemed to be issuing them their orders.

We gathered up the remaining weapons as well as the unconscious Zabrak and returned to base. We parted with Twitch and Dizzy with the understanding that they would be tight lipped about what had happened. I also gave Twitch my card and pointed out that he might have a future within the New Republic.

Marion was badly injured and headed straight to the Bacta tank with Vicrushakal monitoring her vitals. I, on the other hand prepared to have a chat with the Zabrak leader, Vyytak Zarvady. I brought AR-47 with me, if the man worked for the empire, it seemed likely that he knew of the Empire’s torture druids, but unlikely to know what they actually looked like.

We kept the Zabrak in chains inside a cell and that’s where I settled in and calmly waited for him to wake up. When he finally did, I immediately began pressing him for answers. . I’ve found it often saves time to start off bluntly, threats of violence, torture and the like. Few people are defiant against such things, especially thanks to the notoriety of the imperial agent’s interrogation techniques. This was of course something we actively encouraged and spread, making sure that the stories spread and amplified across the galaxy.

But, Zarvady was not like most people, he didn’t respond well to threats of violence because he did not fear it, and while he seemed unnerved by AR-47 he did not succumb to my threats. It did show me his true weakness however; he like so many people like him lived and died on his sense of pride and ego. I switched approach and before long he was all but swearing himself to the New Republic, “who could finally appreciate him for the great warrior that he was”.

He provided me with frequencies to the Black Comet, information on his contact man with the empire, Captain Tharzak one of Mossak’s subordinates. He also agreed to have his remaining gang members stop attacking Durastar as well as provide information that would aid the war effort in exchange for his freedom. I did not have the authority to grant him this, but I reported to high command and vouched for him.

The hours passed and after 24 hours Marion finally emerged from the Bacta tank, patched up, but still in bad shape. She even requested to return to the tank in hopes of fixing one of her ribs. But alas we did not have time for such luxuries as we received word that President Chandras has been attacked by an assassin.

We left at once and were immediately granted a private audience with the president. She was hurt quite badly, but not dead. We told her our true identities to ensure her that the New Republic had not abandoned her and that we were on the case.

After learning this, she showed us a holovid of the attack. It showed a slender person, likely a woman scale a wall, cut down two guards with a pair of vibro swords only to finally attack the president, shoving her off a ledge. The assassin then immediately escaped by jumping on top of a passing train.

It took a few viewings but there was no mistake, everything throughout the event was executed flawlessly. There was no doubt that this was a professional, not some petty criminal. A professional would not have been sloppy enough to risk an operation like that by pushing the president off a ledge where she could just as easily have cut her down. That combined with the fact that she even made sure to get the attack caught on screen confirmed that she intended to fail, the president was supposed to survive. So why attack her?

There were several reasons why they might want to scare her, but it still didn’t make much sense. Vicrushakal, who had had dealings with them before, pointed out that the blades used looked a lot like those used by the Black sun gang. Interesting, that certainly did narrow the possible explanations down somewhat.

Still, with not much else to go by, we excused ourselves and left to continue our investigations as Skaven health and Safety. We decided to visit the Neimoidians next. We were transported up to the Royal Carrier, where we were immediately greeted by Grand VIzier Otek Canay. He showed us around the ship and explained how marvelous their operation was. He told us about their chief engineer, one of the engineers working on the Death Star and showed us to his quarters. I steeled my features as the doors slid open, the engineer was a Wookie.

Perhaps I should have expected as much, many of the Neimoidians work force had been taken from imperial prisons and slave compounds, but after having seen what those creatures can do when enraged, seen good soldiers ripped apart, I always felt uncomfortable being around Wookies that had not been properly secured. Still, their species capability of violence aside, it was clear that the creature was quite intelligent.

Shyyrtacca, as the Wookie was called was more forthcoming about the situation on the ship and told us there had been issues brewing between humans and the other species. We listened to his retelling of violent outbursts from the humans and with that in mind, approached Princess Vayet.

She too seemed honest in her explanation of the situation, explaining that some of the humans felt slighted due to how the other species had gotten better positions, and accused them of preferential treatment. The princess told us that was not the case, but that the truth of the matter was that they were simple unqualified. The humans had been for the most part prison guards to accomplished engineers and scientists, most could not hope to compete with them.

We got the name of one of the human agitators, a woman called Mera Taret and left to have a word with her. It was entirely possible that this was natural distrust between species, but it would also be a reasonable way for Belikos to grow dissent and enable sabotage even while the ships were in orbit.

We arrived at personnel carrier 2 a short while later, and were greeted by an annoying little protocol droid, “tuned to be pleasing to the human ear”. It seemed as though some of their “robotic expertise” from the days of the clone wars, still lived on.

As we entered the mess hall we were immediately greeted with a bit of a spectacle. A group of humans were holding down a Twi’lek girl as some buffoon looking man prepared to beat her up. How childish, Academy bullies all over again.

I managed to clear out a chunk of the people surrounding the girl but my voice didn’t seem to carry enough due to all the noise. Marion jumped in front of the man and began having a brawl with him, to the excitement of the crowd. I noticed Mera Taret amongst them, spurring the man on. I walked up to her and once again tried to make my voice heard but to no avail.

Thus I went over to the speaker by the wall and began spouting vague official sounding threats in the name of Skaven health and safety. That got their attention. The brawl ended and Marion decided to have a talk with the man, Vicrushakal the girl and I took care of Mera Taret.

There was not much in ways of privacy around the ship so we had the talk in the toilets. Again, vaguely reminiscent of the Academy… She was haughty and proud, I quickly fixed that. After I had made her position clear to her, she quickly became compliant and told me more about what had been going on amongst the crew. She told me about a woman called Sarfine Dellot, a new recruit and who seemed to have been the instigator of the violence these past few weeks.

She informed me that she should be leaving for her shift that very minute and that I might be able to catch her before she left. I hurried out of the toilets and arrived right as the doors to the shuttle were closing. Through the doors I saw a dark skinned woman looking at me in surprise, likely mirroring my own expression. That was all I had time to notice as Dinah Talo and rest of the crew flew down towards Coruscant.

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Marion Tarrk Episode Two Part 4
Soldier's Code of Honour

Soldier’s Code of Honour
How did I end up here?

We conferred about what to do next, and Sloane asked Marion whether or not Ran would be useful to them. Marion had lied, saying no. Not because she actively tried to lie, but more so out of some sort of hidden code of honour between soldiers, and old friends. After their meeting Marion was going to look after her injuries, when Sloane confronted her about lying. Lied? Hmm. I guess I did… Not sure exactly why, I suppose I didn’t like the idea of using Ran. After clearing up the whole thing, it was decided that Marion would go meet Ran, and that she would attempt to get information out of her. She contacted Ran, who seemed to be very happy to meet up. Ran suggested martial fights, she had previously mentioned as one of her interests.

Marion took some time deciding what to wear. Being in uniform would be a bit odd, but she didn’t like the idea of going too casual, her blue coat was fitted above, of course. And with that, Marion made her way to the legal fighting arenas of the area. She was there early, as was her way, even though she knew Ran’s way was to be late. Ran showed up, in a beautiful red lacquered skin coat. Some of the people here seemed to know her. The matches hadn’t started yet, so they simply carried conversation. The subject quickly circulated on what they did after the ordeal that left them without a team. Ran became stationed here, working for Skeelos, indirectly, and simply remained working for him when the empire collapsed. Marion began speaking of what she did, but the subject quickly focused down on the massacre of the Zabraks, as one was going to fight in the ring. About this time, Marion noticed that a familiar Zabrak had entered the establishment, and taken a seat right behind her. The fight began, and their conversation continued, if a bit less, being somewhat focused on the match as well.

After the match’s conclusion, with the Zabrak winning, the conversation began anew. And Marion began her attempts to get information out of Ran, but Ran caught on, whether Marion is just a terrible liar, or she wanted to be caught, is difficult to say. Ran demanded that Marion come clean about her affiliations, and what she was doing. I didn’t want to do this… This is WHY I didn’t want to do this. Lying to a friend is too painful… I have to tell her. Marion told her about how she was still fighting , and how she was sent on an assignment here to see what the three parties are hiding, and which one is on the payroll of the Empire. Ran seemed a bit stunned at first, but seemed to calm down, and even seemed positive to the idea of aiding her. But, before Marion could get confirmation on this theory, the Zabrak behind her piped up. He seemed to have caught on to who she was. By her own retelling, it seems he wanted to mate with her, and to prove himself worthy he would fight her. _ While flattering, I guess, I wouldn’t say I’m interested in him, though.._, Marion thought to herself, while looking for the words to respond. Whatever response she made, had little impact of the zabrak, as he pushed away Ran, and lunged at Marion. A fierce fight broke out, where Ran aided Marion, who had pulled her vibroknife. How did I end up in this mess?, she thought to herself. While fighting she hurt the zabrak grievously, but ultimately he got the better of her and knocked her out.

The next thing Marion knew, she woke up in an apartment. Her vision foggy, her hearing mumbled. She heard a shower going in the room, which stopped as she started fidgeting. Her wounds had been looked after. Soldier patchwork…, she thought to herself. Ran stepped out of the shower, and told Marion to rest. How did I get here?, she asked Ran. Ran explained that after the zabrak had knocked her out, she knocked him off the upper ledge, potentially knocking him out. After that she had picked up Marion, and brought here her, to her apartment. Marion was still a bit wobbly, so Ran helped her clean up. Marion told Ran she was of the Resistance, and asked her to join. Ran declined the offer, saying that she had no intention of continuing the fighting. However, she did sign up to help Marion looked up Skeelos, and gave Marion valuable intel on Skeelos’ factory. She was also told to keep a low profile, hence why Ran had thrown away her communicator. Ran had also gotten rid of her clothes, and lent Marion some of hers.

And with that Marion left to report her findings to Sloane and Vic. They had believed to have died, as Vic explained that her communicator was last located in a trash compactor. Marion gave an inappropriate smirk, being impressed with Ran’s thoroughness. But Marion explained what happened, and how Ran had helped her. She continued to say that Ran had agreed to help them. And so, planning to break into Skeelos’ factory could continue, with valuable information aiding the team greatly. Yet, Marion was worried about what would come of Ran. I’ve not heard good things about what happens to those who betray anyone of the Black Sun, former or otherwise. She conferred with Sloane about what to do, and given Ran’s assistance, it seemed that Sloane had an idea.

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Corran Sloane, Episode II: The Shadow Concordance
Us vs Them

Sloane, Corran
Formerly of the Imperial Security Bureau,
Commission for the Preservation of the New Order

5 ABY
Coruscant

The Emperor was a genius. This, more than anything I feel is something far too many people, especially those within the ‘New Republic’ have forgotten. And even amongst those that do remember, most seemingly only think about it in terms of how he got himself into power while, to me, the far more impressive aspect of it was in how he kept that power and how he ruled using it.

People claim that he ruled through fear, and this is of course true, but that was far from all of it. He ruled by dividing the Galaxy in to ‘Us’ and ’Them’. There can be incredible unity in such division, a sense of belonging as part of a whole against the other. If you were a citizen of the empire, you had rights and protection that non-citizens did not, giving you a sense of superiority and further made you comfortable with the Empire that brought you to this elevated position. Even if in reality, you were no better off than before the empire.

This of course led to a need for the ‘other’, someone to look down on. The obvious target for this was aliens. Not all of course, many of the humanoid species were welcomed within the empire, if perhaps occasionally looked down on. Some species, however, were deemed lesser and many even enslaved. This was of course cruel and unjustified, but it was all part of fueling the mentality of Us vs Them, and most of all, it worked. In just a few decades, The Emperor changed the entire galaxy and brought with him a new order… right up until it all came crumbling down.

This point of view, perhaps best exemplifies why I did not feel particularly at home within the base of the New Republic. Oh I could blend in, I could put on a fake accent and be one of ‘them’, but I preferd not having to do so while not on the clock.

Thus I spent most of my time when back at base working inside my room instead of ‘cavorting with the locals’. I did my job and then I kept out of other people’s way. I learned that Marion’s recovery was progressing steadily and soon after she was back on her feet we went to meet with Director Jatru, the Mon Calamari intelligence officer, and our superior officer.

He debriefed us on a situation taking place on Coruscant. The ground war on Coruscant was continuing and while The New Republic seemed to be winning, the situation was unstable at best. One ongoing project to strengthen The New Republic’s presence on the planet had been to rebuild Coruscant’s infrastructure that had taken a heavy toll during the ongoing conflict. The task to lead this project was given to Reev Chandras, the president of Coruscant Core Construction. This would be far too great of an undertaking during a time of war for them to manage it on their own, which is why they were planning on hiring one of three possible contractors; Malkos Ryuga, CEO of Durastar Industries, Rangi Skeelos, CEO of Gundark Inc and Princess Vayet of Koru Neimoidia.

This would have been all well and good, except for a leaked conversation between Belikos and an Imperial Commander named Hadrian Mossak, where we learned that Belikos was aiming to funnel the credits the New Republic was spending on the project to finance the imperial war effort. To do this they would make sure that ‘their’ contractor was the one selected. Issue being, they were not considerate enough to name which of these contractors were working for them.

Our task would be to find this out while also making sure to defend the companies from Imperial sabotage. Our cover was ‘Skaven Health & Safety Inspection’ meant to investigate the suitability of the contractors. For this mission, myself, Marion and a Twi’lek slicer named Vicrushakal or… “Vic” was sent out.

I left the briefing and went to prepare AR-47. I had shut him down when approaching the Rebel planet to avoid unnecessary outbursts. Unfortunately that had just meant I had delayed them as the droid began rambling on about rebel filth and treason. After it seemed he had gotten most if out of his systems, I convinced him that it was the closest thing to the empire we were likely to get.

With AR-47 reluctantly joining the cause, we went to meet the others on board the ship. Marion and the R2 unit R2-D6 began punching in the coordinates as “Vic” sat down with me to have a chat. I did not have much trouble with having a Mon Calamari as a superior officer, it was a business arrangement like any other and thus impersonal, but playing friends with ‘them’, people I’ve had an active part in enslaving and worse seemed distasteful.

I could, and likely should have simply acted the part and gone along with it, but I didn’t. I talked to him as I would a slave, probably in some ways hoping that he would lash out at me, condemn me for what I had been a part of or, perhaps more importantly, allow me to retain the idea of him being the ‘other’. But he didn’t, he didn’t even seem to be particularly interested in the Empire or what they had done, and again continued to try to get to know me, as well as Marion as she joined us.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am proud of my service to the Empire. It might have at times been unpleasant, but it was all for the greater good of the galaxy. But it was different talking about it with one of ‘them’ while on the same team and as equals, and thus I became defensive.

A conversation revolving around the righteousness or lack thereof of the Empire ensued where I once again defended our actions despite neither of them really questioning them in the first place. I kept my face largely neutral but I was more emotional about it than I should have been. I sighed inwardly at myself as I collected my thoughts as we broke up the conversation and went about our duties.

We set forth on the planet and after a brief stay at our base of operations, and an introduction of ‘Skaven Health & Safety’ to President Chandras, we began our investigation of Durastar Industries. Malkos Ryuga the CEO of the company greeted us warmly and gave us a guide to show us along some of his working factories. Durastar had been suffering from repeated sabotage and even terrorist attacks, performed by a gang made out of Zabraks, supposedly working for The Black Suns, for some time, and combined with having many of their factories within enemy territory, they were feeling the pressure on them.

As the tour went on, suddenly emergency lights began blaring and apparently they had once again been attacked. Not wanting to lose the opportunity to get a hold on some of the terrorists that were likely tied to the Empire, we asked for directions and transportation to the site of the attack. Surprised, Ryuga offered up a company hover-van equipped with a nav-computer. Vicrushakal and AR-47 went into the back with me and Marion in the front.

As soon as we got close to the site, the Zabrak gang was surrounding us. They seemed to have expected us and riding on their speeder bikes and swoop bikes began blasting at us from all sides. Perhaps it was the death stick, but somewhat amusedly, I realized this turn of events was far less disconcerting than our previous conversation onboard ship. This was something I understood and had been trained to handle, and so we began killing them one by one.

Describing it like that perhaps made it seem simpler than it was. It was a close call on multiple occasions, but it was not more complicated than killing those who opposed us, and so we did, all, except for one. A large Zabrak male trying to pick us off from afar. He got one or two solid hits in on Marion but as soon as we got in range to reciprocate, he turned tail and drove his bike into one of the massive pipes criss crossing all along Coruscant.

That was how they had been going in and out of Durastar territory only to quickly vanish. Vicrushakal used the van computer to find out where the pipe were leading to and narrowed it down to a factory deep within Imperial territory. Based on prior attacks, it seemed as though the gang switched bases fairly often, and it seemed likely that they would look into moving out now that they had been compromised.

We rode back to Ryuga and requested troops to take down the gang, I wanted to gauge his response but I didn’t get much out of him. He provided us with a small group of mercenaries, certainly serviceable but not the investment of someone going out of his way to protect his industry either.

Marion began a rousing speech of honour and glorious combat in front of the mercenaries. Feeling mildly sorry for the girl I made an addendum to her speech, highlighting the credits rewarded to those still living when they returned. Our combined efforts seemed to have given them the motivation they needed and so we began our preparations.

I squared in on the most reliable looking member of the team; an Rodian junkie, likely with some neurological disorder. People like that didn’t survive in this line of work if they didn’t have the skills to back it up. He was called, fittingly enough, Twitch and I gave him a deathstick in exchange for a ride. Marion drove Vicrushakal and the rest of the gang followed suit.

We travelled through the same pipes the the Zabrak drove into and after a while we had reached our goal. We split up to attack them from three directions, me and Marion from the sides and Vicrushakal and the mercenaries storming the center.

The fight turned ugly right from the get go, even though Marion and I managed to land a surprise volley on them, they were expecting us and had prepared their base for an attack. The mercenary team began to be ripped apart by an enormous Zabrak wielding a double-sided vibrosword, and for some inexplicable reason, Marion decided to challenge the guy instead of simply shooting him in the back.

Her ‘heroics’ cost her dearly and was shot repeatedly while she stayed out in the open. I on my hand got stuck in an odd form of trench warfare with another group of them. Eventually the fight began to turn and soon the leader of the gang was all that remained, but our side had taken a heavy toll as well, only two mercenaries still remained and Marion was barely still on her feet.

I blasted the door panel on the place, trapping him in here with us, and after ordering everyone to set their blasters to stun, we moved in to capture him. This seemingly only made him more desperate, and charged us with a vibro axe. Marion didn’t seem ready to defend herself so I moved up to support, only to be welcomed by the charging Zabrak and just barely dodged a series of blows that would have taken my head off. Thankfully he seemed unhinged and messed up his aim, allowing me respond in kind by simply shooting him in the gut.

And that was that, the guy almost fell on top of me as he dropped unconscious. Vicrushakal went about trying to get as much information that he could from the gangs’ network while me and Marion was surveying the scene and gathering up the fallen’s weapons. As predicted, Twitch was one of the last two standing, alongside a human named Dizzy.

It had been a bloody ordeal with close to 20 dead, but it couldn’t be helped, these Zabrak had made their choice and so had we. And besides, it was either Us or ‘Them’.

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Marion Tarrk Episode Two Part 3
The Gizka Incident

The Gizka Incident
What the hell is that thing?!
As Marion was heading to speak to the Twi’Lek she was contacted by Sloane. She was informed that agent Talo was here, undercover. I knew we’d see her again.. But here? Now? For a faux Empire, they sure work efficiently., Marion thought to herself, while considering what this meant. After a brief conversation they went to speak to the princess again. Sloane informed her of the agent in their midst, and offered to assist in the issue. There he goes, making bold claims again., Marion thought as he mentioned a name and set up a plan to potentially capture her on the way back to the ship.

Thus, the team took their shuttle back down to the surface, making plans of their own. As they landed they split up, all heading towards the area where agent Talo’s character worked. Vic from the front gate, posing as a droid worker. Sloane from the slums. And Marion climbing in from up top. Marion’s entrance wasn’t as graceful as she anticipated. Her rope skills was a bit rusty, and she messed up a little. Even so, she entered unseen. She noticed a group people gathered around, not working. What the hell is going on there?, she thought to herself, and took a closer look. It looked like a machine had malfunctioned, and made a hole in the ground. A few workers had gone after whoever had fallen into the hole. Marion’s thought was to help the people hurt, but after a bit of thinking, and checking in with her teammate, who had also entered successfully, she realised that it was likely that Agent Talo had made this mess. Thus, she went to help, and investigate. She was briefed on the situation, a droid had fallen down as the crane malfunctioned. And a team had been sent in after it. A lift was being fetched, and set up, but Marion offered to go down herself.

It was pitch black in the hole, luckily Marion had the foresight to pack a torch. Sure was lucky I thought to bring this thing., she thought to herself, shaking her head. She met one of the workers right away, who was using a torch to keep gizka away from the opening. Marion pulled out her blaster and made her cover as a pest control very convincing. She told the worker to stay put, back-up was coming, while she went in further to see if she could find Talo. She met up with a worker who was taking back the droid. She bore the name that Sloane had mentioned being Talo, namely Sarfine Dellot. She turned out to be just another worker, and not Talo. Marion quickly reported this Sloane, but got no response, beyond a silent acknowledgement. Is he in trouble?, Marion thought to herself, and pressed on. She ran into the other workers, and found out that one had been split off from the group, and they had no idea when she went. Talo…, Marion muttered under her breath. Marion scanned area, and went in the direction she thought that Sloane was in. This is like a friggen labyrinth…, thought to herself as she pressed on, and signaled for Vic to go after Sloane, incase she got lost.

She entered a room that was covered with gizka eggs. She attempted to hide, but a big glowing gizka noticed her. What the hell is that thing?!, she thought to herself, as she got up on a structure to get the high ground. The gizka charged her, stabbing its tusks straight into her torso. She stepped back, and took shot after shot. The thing seemed to not care, until she got one of the tusks. Marion was forced off her high ground, and spotted Vic and Sloane, safely, behind cover on the opposite side of the room, giving her covering fire. With this, Marion was reassured, her team was with her. I can do this., Marion thought to herself turned around and shot the beast in its head, it fell limp on the ground. With that agent Talo’s voice could be heard, and a smaller droid blew up. Coward!, Marion thought to herself, knowing full well this is how agents operate.

The team compared notes on the way back from the worker site. As they returned Sloane made sure to contact the princess regarding their findings. And Marion pondered using the bacta tank again. However, with their time running out, she could not risk staying in it for too long. She healed her fresh injuries, and left it at that.

The team then decided to pay a visit to the third and final vyer for the contract, Rangi Skeelos. As an ex-member of the black sun he was low on the list from the get-go, specially in the eyes of Vic, having some experience with them off-world. However, a meeting was quickly set up in a cantina that Skeelos owned. The talks were nothing to be surprised about. Skeelos gave them a bribe, in the function of Heavy Blaster Pistols, custom made, gold plated with a logo for Scaven Health and Safety.Marion somewhat reluctantly accepted the “gift”, as Sloane indicated that it was a very generous gift. Perhaps I can get the gold plating off back at the base? Who wants a shiny weapon in a fight?!, Marion thought to herself. Sloane’s interrogation was facing issues, in that Skeelos seemed to be very guarded, so Marion decided to help, by accessing her past fascination with vibro-weapons. This did seem to garner some attention, but not as much as Marion had hoped. Still, the team was able to get some head-way with investigating Skeelos, but also towards figuring the assassin business that had plagued them previously. Skeelos had arranged a tour of his facilities, and his associates who would lead the team was waiting outside. The team said their goodbyes, and went to the guides outside.

To Marion’s surprise she saw an old comrade. Ran Bosca, a former stormtrooper that Marion served with before her station in the other rim. Their last mission together granted Marion her first facescar, against the jedi. Marion felt a shot of adrenaline, as her memory of Ran flashed by her. From their first encounter getting inline in front of Darth Vader, to inspect the new recruit to the Jedi hunting squad. Marion had tripped on her way in, but Ran had caught her. Later in the lounge, Ran had approached Marion barely able to contain her laughter at the embarrassment of tripping in front of Lord Vader. Marion, embarrassed and frustrated, got up in an attempt to punch Ran, but Ran had calmed her down, by saying it was alright, Vader seemed to not care. The two sat down and talked. Even revealing their actual names. There was a brief pause when Ran mentioned her birth planet of Alderaan, and replied she was also from there. This friendship grew over the months they served together, and it even garnered the attention of their fellow soldiers, some being disturbed as stormtroopers should not get too familiar with one another, while others joined them in their lounging every so often. It kept growing until their fateful encounter with the jedi. Most of their friends dead, only Marion, Ran, and a handful of troopers left. That’s when Marion up and left, stationed herself out in the outer rim. Seeing her again, Marion’s reaction was fear. What if she hates me for leaving? Does she hold it against me?, were thoughts going through her mind. She kept her fears and anxiety about it contained during the tour.

The tour itself was very uninteresting. It was a very set path, revealing next to nothing about the actual operation, with minimal skeleton crew. It was not until the very last factory, where the weapons were manufactured, that they learnt anything at all. They met the weapons maker himself, and Marion, again, channeled her old love for the vibroswords, and got the weapons maker talking quite a bit. She even got to see, and try out, the newer model of the swords as well as the older models. After the tour the team was treated to dinner, at a place that Skeelos owned. Ran was allowed to come with them, even though her duties was technically done with. This gave Ran and Marion a proper chance to catch up. Marion’s fears were alleviated, as Ran did not seem harbor much resentment towards her leaving. She wasn’t happy about it, but she seemed to understand. They talked about the past and about current employment. Ran even mentioned another old stormtrooper she was keeping in touch with, Alexx. Ran suggested the three of them getting together, since they were all close by again. Marion was a little apprehensive about this. While she would like to, she is on a mission. After the dinner, the team went back to base to discuss what to do next…

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