Excidium Summit Hall
Tipoca II, Amongst Space
“Well,” Katyusha looked around the hall, “we are here.” Only a few House members were found in the room with her: Porticus, Chrome, Zehsaa, Shadow, Alara, and Braecen. The long table that had been in the center of the room earlier in the day was now against one of the side walls. It was filled with an assortment of weapons, robes, and other equipment. Several pieces caught the newly minted Knight’s eyes. They appeared to be culturally symbolic or even from nobility. The thought sparked an idea in Katyusha’s mind as she took her seat at a smaller table towards the front of the hall.
Braecen beckoned the group to the table that Kat had just sat at. He stood at the end and waited patiently as each individual found a seat. “Before you,” he motioned to the long table with the collection of items, “is everything we have to be used for Excidium’s gain. Currently. I brought you here today, because I wanted to hear from our best sniper - Zehsaa - and our best weapons specialist - Chrome - to see what we actually have. Shadow and Alara, of course, are here as leaders of Excidium; however, we have Porticus and Katyusha here today with their Masters, Chrome and Shadow, respectively.”
The sniper and weapons specialist dismissed themselves from the table. Zehsaa poured over several long range weapons, checking the heft and looking down the barrel through the scope. Her hazel eyes gave away nothing, but her silent smirk was validation that several of the weapons passed her inspection. Likewise, Chrome’s hands were deftly moving through the items before him. He grumbled as he worked, yelled for his Apprentice, and began throwing things at the younger man and forming a pile of parts. He turned towards the group, “Lot of crap here, but I can salvage most of it - get us some extra credits. A lot of this you wouldn’t want with our people in the field. I’ll take this stuff,” he nodded towards the pile in Porticus’ hands, “and get started.” The pair disappeared from the room. Presumably heading back towards Chrome’s makeshift workshop to begin repairs on the items he had taken.
“Think any of it was really valuable?” Alara asked. The Quaestor shrugged in response. Neither of the Sith had the expertise or training to truly know. She ground her teeth, “I hope none of it was valuable.”
“It wasn’t,” chirped the Togruta, “I was eyeing some of the parts to use on the rifles while he was going over them.” Zehsaa settled back into her seat before kicking her feet up on the table. Shadow’s eyebrows raised, but she said nothing. “I think we have two or three really good weapons over there, but he’s right… most of it is better off sold or scrapped for parts.”
Braecen sighed. He had been afraid that their small cache would prove to be valueless. Still, it was better to have something than nothing. “We are going to have to find a way to acquire a lot more weapons before we can hope to take over a new facility. I’m not even sure we could properly create a Forward Operating Base at this moment.”
“Well…” Katyusha stood at the far end of the table facing everyone. She felt uncomfortable now that all of their eyes had turned expectantly on her. Apprentices were often better seen and not heard. “Maybe we are thinking about it wrong?” Several of the individuals began to nod, encouraging her to carry on and fully explain her idea.
“You want to take on a planet, or place, from the outside in. I thought it would be a good idea to take over from the inside out.” She grasped a stray indigo-colored hair and tucked it in behind her ear before reaching for a royal garment on the table. “Let’s put our own politicians into the government, let’s play the game of politics and win over the majority, and they will welcome us in rather than resisting us.”
“Even if we dedicated the resources to putting our people into office,” Braecen began, “we would still have to beat out incumbents, other political factions, establish capital to finance a campaign…” The Quaestor looked up from his objection to find the remaining individuals quietly laughing amongst themselves. Apparently, the Dark Adept had missed something. He looked towards his Aedile, “What’s so funny?”
The half-Sephi was not even concealing her amusement. “Always cute to watch the intelligent ones struggle with the most simplistic answers. Kat is not suggesting that we wage a political war. She simply using the training she received from her Master. She solved a problem with the resources at hand.” Alara turned to Kat, “Finish your idea.”
Kat first looked to Shadow for permission. The Leader of Tacitus Athanasius nodded her agreement for the Knight to continue. “It would be very hard to beat out our opponents, but what if we replaced them? We could find individuals already in place - people more malleable to our cause - whom we would find favorable for our agenda. We could place one of our people, or agents, in a role of succession - a much easier task - then take out that leader.”
“Take out?” Braecen inquired.
Zehsaa laughed. “I think she means ‘utilize the specific skills of your assassins’, but I could be wrong.” Her intelligent hazel eyes burned with eagerness.
Shadow concealed her smile. She had spent a lifetime honing her skills. Then she had been conscripted to lead Tacitus Athanasius - to train a cadre of assassins - for the pursuit of Scholae Palatinae’s power. Finally, her people were to be put to a use worthy of their skills. This was not a petty revenge contract or a thoughtless grab for power amongst the Brotherhood ranks. Tacitus Athanasius was an extension of her will, a weapon, meant to carve out a legacy in the ranks of Scholae Palatinae. Her gold eyes met Alara’s for a moment of shared understanding. Finally, we have received an honorable task.
Vindicator-class Cruiser Tarkin
Xan Phraz-Etar had large, broad shoulders and held his posture upright. Ready to act. It was the stance of a warrior, a predator ready to strike. His body was obscured by heavy armor and traditional robes - trimmed in the blue of an Obelisk adherent - so that the only skin you could see was on his face. A strong jawline, tousled brown hair, and a pair of blue eyes looked forward, unblinking. This was an important meeting and the Equite had no intention of failing his Master, Braecen Kaeth.
Flanked on both sides by members of House Excidium, the trio stood ready for their meeting. To his right, a fit and lean, green-skinned Duro. Without the few scars on his face and arms, the Augur Xantros would not be distinguishable from others of his species. Strapped to his hip was a BlasTech DH-17 blaster pistol with the holster unsnapped. He was prepared for anything that might happen in this meeting. “Have you thought through your exits, Xan?” The mantra of the Consular adherent rang out..
“Leave him alone,” came a voice from Xan’s left. A human male, slightly taller than average with an athletic composition, turned his deep, dark green eyes towards the Duro. His cloak was raised, but his short black hair was still partially visible and matched his beard. Hidden below the short, black stubble was a scar on his left cheek. Rosh Nyine, a Sith Battlemaster, appeared much younger than his thirty five years. Yet, in his eyes, one could see how his Imperial upbringing had aged his mind, if not his features.
A chime indicated that someone was approaching the door. All three men turned their eyes towards the door, their muscles tensing like a predator about to leap. A soft swoosh echoed through the room as the doors opened and a small man in Mandalorian armor entered the room. His armor was a mixture of colors, but well-serviced and kept in pristine condition. Several scorches from blasters and dents adorned the armor like badges of honor. And the man carried himself with the ease of a predator unconcerned with the world around him.
This is a dangerous man, Xan thought as he contemplated how to begin. “I’m afraid you will have to remove the helmet. I cannot negotiate in good faith without looking into your eyes and knowing your word is true, Mercenary.” Xan was not sure if the ploy would unsettle his counterpart, but he was relieved when he finally moved his hands to take off the helmet. The flip of a switch and a hiss indicated the helmet was coming off. As the Mandalorian lowered his head to remove it, he unfurled his long, pink hair. Wait, Xan thought, that doesn’t make sense.
A vibrant woman stood before the trio. Violet eyes shrewdly looked upon the the three representatives of House Excidium with a mixture of disdain and contempt. Her Clan had worked for would-be Force Users before. And while her people would never trust anyone aligned with ‘the Force’, they would take their credits. “I’m charging ten percent more for making me take the helmet off.”
Rosh interjected, “That is ridic-”
“Keep it up and I will add on another ten percent, because I don’t like your tone.” She cut him off and made him swallow the rest of his retort. “I am Angelica of Clan Qar, I am here to negotiate a retainer to allow you to have us on call. What jobs, and their subsequent price, depends on how well our priorities align.”
Xantros moved to whisper into Xan’s ear, “I really hope you thought out your exit strategy, that is Angelica Qar… they call her the Angel of Death.” The Duros moved back towards his original position, but edged himself a little closer to the exit.
Xan had no exit strategy. He was here to secure the services of Clan Qar - a small band of Mandalorian mercenaries whom had been growing in reputation over the past several months. That was his only mission, his only objective, and he would succeed. House Excidium needed this asset and it was up to Xan, Rosh, and Xantros to be successful in this endeavor.
The Wild Krayt Casino
The male Kiffar was adorned in a bathrobe that didn’t entirely cover him. It did, however, cover his nether regions and the other players at the sabacc table were grateful for that. Jorm Na’trej stretched out to reveal his features hidden below, bronze skinned with an athlete’s build. His yellow eyes scanned each of the players, looking for their tells. He noticed a human fidgeting and felt his excitement through the Force. Jorm guessed that he would call the hand in the next round and win. Unless Jorm called everyone’s hands now. His basic, thick with a Huttese accent, rambled out, “I think that brings this - what do you call it, round? - to a close, gentlemen.”
Everyone grumbled as he collected the credits on the table. Again. They suspected him of cheating, but they could never guess that he had won most of the pots fairly. Jorm was a capable gambler, quick witted in The Undervoid and eager to exploit an advantage when he saw one. It had been a good way to bide his time while he waited for his contact at the casino. Alara Deathbane, Aedile of House Excidium, had dispatched him to act as a liaison with the Hutts. If Excidium was going to expand its empire of influence properly, they would have to make long-lasting allies of the Hutts and other criminal syndicates.
He wandered away from the table and ambled towards his destination: the Winner’s Circle lounge. As he meandered in that direction, he reached into a pocket and withdrew a comlink which he popped into his ear. A familiar voice buzzed in his ear, “Your contact is already seated.” Jorm could see the face of his fellow Palpatine, Lucyeth, in his mind’s eye: a smaller man with curly, thick blonde hair and blue eyes with perpetual bags under them from a lack of sleep. “When you enter the lounge, they will be on the far left. Tucked in the corner.”
Jorm double tapped his comlink in response of his acknowledgement. He walked into the lounge and veered in the opposite direction towards the bar. Flagging down the bartender, he ordered a lomin ale. “Cold or hot?” the bartender inquired. Jorm shrugged indifferently and in a few moments, a lukewarm drink was put down before him. He took a long draw on the cheap, but flavorful drink and wiped away the foam that had attached itself around his mouth. Nonchalantly, he scanned the room. Other occupants dismissed the man clad in a simple bathrobe with a beer in hand. To them, he was just another overindulgent gambler with a complex. Finding what he was looking for, he proceeded towards the seat in the corner. Only to sit in the booth directly next to it.
“Hello, there.” He said brightly as he saluted the booth’s occupant with his drink. In his ear, he could hear the squawking of Lucyeth. Deftly, he turned down the volume without drawing suspicion from the person seated across from him.
“Not interested,” came the sharp tone of a female voice from within the darkness of a cloak pulled over her head. “Move along before I blast you.”
Jorm tsk’d in response. “Now why would you go and ruin our joint business venture before it ever got started.” He hiked a thumb over his shoulder indicating the booth behind him, where the meeting was supposed to take place. “Why would I meet with those flunkies when the boss’s lieutenant is sitting right here? Seems that if I want to get anything done today, I should be speaking with you.”
The woman sighed and the distinct sound of a blaster’s safety being flipped on in its wake. “How did you know?”
“I drink… and I know things,” he quipped.
“And where the fwec are your clothes? I swear this better be a legitimate business deal or I will dump you out of the nearest airlock myself.” The woman had now lowered her hood and revealed her features. Orange-red hair stuck out in many different, frazzled directions and her skin was dotted with freckles that rested below her light green eyes.
Jorm moved his drink to the side - removing any obstruction between them - leveled his gaze to hers and spoke his best Basic, “I am very serious. And I represent the interest of a new power in this region of space: Excidium.”
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