Posted 11 September 2019 - 04:23 AM
"Got business at the Foundry Bar," he drawled. "Know a quick way to get there?"
"Ain't so far," the other man turned and pointed to his left. "Six rows down, third door on the right," he directed. "Not exactly a classy joint, fella. Pretty sure there's no air conditioning."
"I'm pretty sure that breaches several zoning codes," Alkor smirked.
"We get away with things like that out here," the man shrugged. "Saves creds. The Viceroyals don't complain because no one important visits this part of the city. Keeping the engineers happy keeps Golbah running smooth."
Under his sleeve, Alkor a ran a finger over the blade he was concealing. He lifted the hand to his mouth and tasted the blood pooling on his fingertip as he glanced away from the engineer, who was ignorant of his actions altogether.
"Anyway, you should probably keep moving," the other man urged. "Lots to do, deadlines to keep."
Alkor headed for the bar as the Engineer had indicated, and when he pushed the door open, he was met with a hot, dry blast of air. "Welcome!" the Droid attendant greeted jovially. "I'll be right with you. Take a seat anywhere."
He did just that.
Hopefully his contact would arrive promptly.
Posted 11 September 2019 - 04:46 AM
Unless she was actively working on infiltrating, Scherezade was often very, very bad at blending into a crowd. So unless a mission absolutely required it to the point at which she had to be conscious effort into the whole thing, she stood out. Most would claim that she stood out like a sore, toe-shaped thumb. But when she was sticking out because she was ripping through the streets of Golbah City on the back of her beautiful Voovoosh, she didn't care. It was one of the very few things she owned that had been gifted to her by the Confederacy itself. And for a change, it was also something that was useful to her. While the Sithling was mostly rubbish when it came to piloting, when it came to matters of planet-side vehicles, she was a beast, never shying away from speed, sharp turns, or danger.
Normally, she rarely left her ship without donning her full armor and myriad of weapons. This time though, for that specific meeting, she'd chosen to tone it down, opting instead for her leather pants and a sturdy top, bringing along only one glitter bullet gun and a handful of knives. It was a far cry from the 15+ blades that usually adorned her alongside the four slugthrowers. But, this was supposed to be something safer. Though not much details were in her hands, she had a feeling that it wasn't going to go directly from the meeting into combat, and if it did… She could handle herself. If she were to be honest with herself, it had been a while since she'd progressed from even needing weapons, but she felt empty without her blades, a weapon without use. While the blood often called to her, it was the knife fights that made her blood sing.
The workers of the Grid were used to her by now. While she was obviously and painfully not a worker herself, but a Warrior of the Confederacy, it was among them that she felt somewhat comfortable, without the constantly judging eyes of the Confederate higher ups. Often, when she needed to conduct business or meet someone in a cantina or a dhabba, she chose the Grid, already knowing the general hours of most shifts so that she came in without bothering anyone while she did so. And while she couldn't claim to have dear friends among the Grid's workers, she knew she had at least a kernel of respect and acceptance there. And for someone like her, who served a place like the Confederacy, that meant the world.
And the meeting… She had not seen Knight Commander Centaris in a while. Wasn't even sure that was his official title anymore; when the Knights Obsidian had undergone structural changes, Scherezade had been there, but her own work with the Ministry of Secrets had kept her from interacting too often with them after that, and she still didn't have the new rank names in her head. But, the meeting almost meant that for once in a long time, she wasn't going to have to pretend. Centaris' rank had given him the required clearance. He would know she was a Crow and not one of his soldiers.
Which was why she wasn't sure why she'd been summoned.
The scent of his blood though… It reached her a few feet before she brought her speeder into the parking lot and jumped off, only now realizing she hadn't bothered with a helmet and her hair was a mess. Well. She wasn't one of the higher ups. She was never going to look perfect. It was going to have to do.
Entering the Foundry Bar, Scherezade automatically smiled to the droid, her eyes already taking the surroundings in, noting where each and every patron was seated. For Centaris, she didn't need to look though. His blood scent led her right to him.
Was this an official meeting? Was she expected to observe hierarchy protocol?
"Hi," Scherezade said, risking it. If she had it wrong, at least, Centaris wouldn’t cancel his plans regarding her. Not just for that, anyway.
Posted 11 September 2019 - 11:55 PM
He ordered the same thing he always did. Corellian ale, chilled not iced, glass not pint. The amber fluid coated his throat in the familiar hoppy flavor that whetted his thirst, but did nothing to assuage his myriad worries. No, hopefully the Ministry of Shadows could handle that for him.
That was why she was here, after all.
"Doubtless you've gleaned something of the unrest among the Knights Obsidian," he began without wasting any words. "Some things were mishandled, there were disagreements, some damage was done. That said, I'm prepared to release the full report to the Ministry of Secrets in exchange for full cooperation in covering it up and expunging some records."
He produced a datacard from his cloak and held it between two fingers. "I have permission from Darth Metus to move forward with this. He has a project in mind, but the Knights Obsidian can't afford to lose face in the public eye."
Posted 12 September 2019 - 04:15 AM
Scherezade made herself comfortable in her seat. Alongside almost everybody else, she had heard that Centaris was supposed to be in Morwood Peak, yet if a surprise was expected to show on her face, it was absent. Whether or not he'd actually been there was not something she concerned herself with. The way from Maramere to Geonosis was a short one. For all she knew, he could've come from there and return there when they were done.
While he made his order, she made hers as well; Cream on the rocks. No liquor, full fat cream, and ice cubes. It was a perfect drink when she wasn't in the mood for water, and it was rarely that she drank anything at all these days.
Centaris was not a man to waste time with small talk, which was something Scherezade appreciated. Mostly, because she was so horrible at it herself. The intent of their meeting was pretty clear – cover up. It was something the Ministry just did, along with other things that happened under the table.
But then why turn to her? Or why send her? Scherezade didn't have any experience in the PR department. She was someone you tended to send in when you knew so many were going to die that it didn't matter if she was spotted or not, or if you needed infiltration of the type that took days posing as someone else.
Still, there was no denying that this was a great opportunity. Her probation was almost up. If she could pull this off properly…
"The Knights Obsidian will remain clean in the public eye," she promised, her mind already going over through a bunch of different options. How many red lines would she gently erase to get this to happen? To ensure no counter-intelligence groups got a notion of what had been faked? And of course, there was the matter of cleaning records… That, she supposed, had not remained as clean of a thing as he'd hoped. She'd told Cardinal at the time, as well as the Vicelord and an Exarch. If it had leaked from there, it was not on her.
"So what exactly did you do?" she asked, taking a sip from her drink, "How bad is it if the Vicelord himself is helping you?"
Posted 14 September 2019 - 10:53 PM
Hashim had been brutally dealt with, and Alkor was the assailant.
"I was brought to trial, and the Vicelord intervened. At this time, I'm supposed to be on House Arrest pending Metus' decision on what to do. He asked me to clean up the mess by myself. He's a busy man."
Alkor took a sip of his drink and replaced it on the table. "If the common folk were to think that Hashim was declared missing in action during the campaign on Rugosa, things would be easier for the Knighthood to smooth out considering public opinion would become instantly sympathetic rather than hostile. A witch hunt for me would take away the desire to rebuild and strengthen the new Order of Knights Obsidian."
With a thoughtful gaze cast in her direction, he forced a half smile. "Regardless of what you can do for them, I've already put myself in a predicament with my actions. You can put in a bit about my dismissal or that I was killed in action, something to ease the blow a bit. I doubt much that once my Brother decides my fate that I'll end up in the same position I was."
"You'll have the full support of the Vicelord, regardless of what direction you decide to take, of course."
Posted 15 September 2019 - 02:47 AM
Taking the chip, Scherezade gingerly put it into her Wrist Link, the data jumping in front of her eyes almost immediately. Every drop of blood she fed it gave her another sixty seconds of being able to access the data Centaris had given her, and by the end of the first drop she was already more than happily feeding it her blood, managing to prick herself on one of her many daggers while still only using one hand.
The expression on her face… Where one might have expected to see shock or surprise, instead there was curiosity, wide eyed as her excitement levels began to rise. This was interesting. It was not the gossip aspect of it that interested her in any sort of a way, no; Scherezade had no one to really gossip with these days even if she'd wanted to. But the depth of it, how it happened…
At the mention of house arrest, she just waved her hand. You couldn't house arrest someone like her or Centaris, that went without saying. His time of being immobile was rather limited before he ended up doing something out of sheer boredom, probably.
"There is a simpler, more elegant solution," she said, her eyes still on the data as she read and re-read it a few more times before at last turning the wrist link off. She still remembered that day; she'd been still fresh out of the pebble, barely a month into not being a baby and being outside of a seven hundred yearlong imprisonment. She hadn't seen him at all, only the Mandalorian suit of armor. And she'd nearly killed him – the Vicelord himself.
"The Citadel is house to many a great artifact," Scherezade explained, taking a gulp from her drink, "And viruses as well. And that's just counting the Citadel itself without any of the million buildings around it that house much more dangerous things," she grinned, "Everything the rumors say is true – you attacked the Lord Commander, and that is not something that can be buried unless we genocide large portions of the Confederacy. What we can control, is the circumstances. You were not yourself. You were possessed by an ancient artifact, a spirit. The Confederacy has done this before. The Lord Commander tried to save you – at almost the cost of his own life. The Lord Commander is a celebrated hero, because he succeeded. The man almost gave his life for one of his most valued commanders. You both left that encounter alive and he's off to heal somewhere. You, are sent to the Mandragora for observation, to ensure there is no lingering effects from the spirits. Not Ryloth. One of their more secluded bases, closer to the Confederate borders, maybe in the East. When the Vicelord deems you ready to return, you shall. Any changes you undergo in that time will all be blamed on what the spirits had done to you, and a checkup with the Ministry of Science will ensure everyone that despite coming out slightly different than how you went in, you are sound of mind."
Scherezade leaned back in her chair and grinned from ear to ear. "How does that sound?"
Posted 15 September 2019 - 03:08 AM
Oh, easy enough for them to have stumbled upon tragedy in those halls, especially with their high levels of clearance. Dangers within, dangers without. It wasn't difficult to say that a dark spirit could have tempted him, what with the official reports already documenting him as corrupted. It was just a bit of extrapolation, and it would endear the public to the dangers that the Knighthood faced daily.
"Yes," he murmured quietly. "Yes, that could work..."
There was the matter of Alkor disappearing for an undisclosed amount of time, of course. She addressed it as "whenever he was deemed fit for release," which could mean an official reinstatement in the public eye. Good enough for most.
The moment someone ranked high enough among the Knights to learn the truth, though? Not one of them would ever trust in him again. He would never be able to take up a position of open leadership among those peers.
Not that he minded. His short conversation with Hashim had revealed that he never wanted a position leading men to the Lord Commander anyway. This was ideal in many ways. He got what he wanted, and the Knights would not suffer an external scandal. The diminutive details, to an outsider, did not concern him.
"Very good," he leaned back and placed both hands on the table. "I will leave it to you, then."
Edited by Brukhalian, 15 September 2019 - 03:08 AM.
Posted 15 September 2019 - 03:59 AM
She looked at him with eyebrows raised as she waited those eternal seconds while he mused over her suggestion, at last murmuring that it could indeed work. Now she beamed, her grin turning into a warmer smile.
To her, there was no fear that someone higher ranked among the Knights would learn the truth. The case was being given to the Ministry of Secrets, which meant that the truth would be absent from any Knight Obsidian records as well. Theoretically, as far as she knew, she had the most experience with actually getting into those datafiles and altering them. The whole truth would remain between her, Alkor Centaris, and Darth Metus. If anyone else would get but a single glimpse, it would be because the other two told them.
Nodding as he said he'd leave it in her hands, Scherezade took another sip from her drink.
"So why'd you choose to ask me?" she asked, very bluntly. Good with secrets, great with anything Ministry of Secrets related, and still as blunt as a ram made of metal trying to open a door full of goose feathers. Some day, someone would succeeding teaching her the finer points of subtlety and intrigue. Today was not that day, "Thought you dislike me after I kissed and stabbed you," she explained herself, only now realizing that there was an actual chance that perhaps, he did not even remember.
Posted 15 September 2019 - 04:35 AM
It seemed odd that she held on to something like that, but most people were prone to grudges or bad blood. That was his experience with most humankind, at any rate. Still, she asked for, and he would humor her.
"I have no interest in the mating rituals or emotional attachments prized by most of our species," he told her truthfully, "and an inherent disdain for most of them on the best of days. It was not a personal disgust toward you that prompted my response, nor was it any thought toward your attractiveness or apparent lack thereof. I do not look at men or women with the intent to procreate, nor have I any interest in partnership. Romantic or sexual advances alarm me and trigger defensive responses."
He blinked. "I genuinely stifled my initial response to drive my weapon through you. I was not being facetious."
Posted 15 September 2019 - 04:54 AM
Romantic… Sexual… Scherezade took another sip from her drink, masking her uneasiness at the mere suggestion of those things. No, she was not a blushing bride –far from it, but there were topics she was not comfortable discussing with people she was not close to, had not done certain things with, and Centaris was definitely not someone she'd done anything with to warrant said comfort levels.
"You took me by surprise because I was expecting at least a thank you," she said, and then raised her hand to pause whatever words he might have added towards her direction, "I neither have nor had any or those interests in you. I just needed to shock you so your brain would be able to free yourself from the possession. Evidently, it worked, or at least it did until you did what you did to the Lord Commander," that last bit came with a smirk.
With a sigh, she leaned back in her chair, finishing her drink and setting the empty glass on the table.
"I suppose there are other things we do share though," she said as she collected herself and rose from the chair, "You almost killed the Lord Commander. I almost killed the Vicelord. And spirits were blamed both times."
How much he would deduct from that, or had prior knowledge of, she wasn't certain. She knew that at the time, it was no secret, though it seemed that most had completely forgotten about it. She'd done more than enough other things since then, since that lingered more freshly on people's minds.
"You can try to run a weapon through me next time though if you feel so inclined," she smiled, "I was not titled the best pin cushion in the 'verse for nothing."
Perhaps some day, she would even tell him about it. What Scherezade understood from that meeting, aside for the fact that she was totally up for the job, was that there was something about Centaris that she did like. Perhaps her sister was right. He was distant, but a small chance could give a lot. Perhaps, with time, she would be find another friend or ally within the Confederacy.
"See you around," came Scherezade's last words before she began to make her way towards the exit. She had work to do.