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Hidden 6 days ago 20 hrs ago Post by Jackdaw
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A House Divided




I: Instrumentalities of Secession

"[The Contemplanys Hermi] does not provide to the Corellian Sector an instrumentality of secession."
- Corellia v. Galactic Republic, __ G.R. *14 (6 ATC)

- - -


Dramatis Personae

Senators and Staff of the Galactic Senate
Janai Avala, Undersecretary to the Chancellor

Tychus Alastor, Senator for Alsakan

Fosten U. Towler, Senator for Loronar
Paulen Roker, Chief of Staff
Iyla Tyndulla, Deputy Chief of Staff

Eyri Pharliis, Senator for Pantora
Iri Mosvaine, Chief of Staff

Shae Yun, Senator for Castell

Sadt Domask, Senator for Skako

Neah Lyannis, Senator for Farstine

Casmir Covost, Senator for Byblos

Tarth Kolat, Senator for Iridonia

Private Entities
Callum Rensler, Lobbying Partner at Ku'lya, Kast & Vosadii LLP
Pai Gen, Senior Associate
Narayana Navi, Mid-level Associate
Ben Croya, Junior Associate

Jacen Jast, Director at Coronet Analytica, Inc.

Akira Zexal, Information Broker
Various Analysts

Government Agents
Trist Menron, Commander with CFSEU-C013
Urik Rholar, Sergeant with CFSEU-C013
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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Jackdaw
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Towler - Office of the Undersecretary



The doors slid open, and Fosten U. Towler, Senator for Loronar, stepped into a well-appointed office. Undersecretary Avala sat behind a huge desk of what looked to be real, darkly hued wood. Other than that, however, the office had a light, airy feel to it, all whites and blues and with a, open, commanding view of the cityscape of Coruscant beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up the entirety of the opposite side of the room. The undersecretary's office was situated at one of the highest points of the Galactic Senate building. It seemed a fitting view, looking out far across the urban center of the galaxy from the very heart of the Republic itself.

The office itself was beautiful as well, carrying a suggestion of quiet influence power well suited to the woman who sat behind it.

Though entirely unelected, Janai Avala was one of the most powerful women in the Galactic Republic. The undersecretary was among the Republic bureaucracy’s many commanding officers, and it was through the undersecretary position that the Chancellor and the bureaucracy exercised its direct managerial control over the affairs of the Senate. Sure, the ideas and policy goals of the Senate originated in the Senate, or at least seemed to, but the mechanical workings behind turning a bill into a law were so entangled with the bureaucracy’s agents that one could almost be forgiven for thinking democracy itself to be a very complicated sleight-of-hand trick.

Even calling it a trick might be a step too far. Of course, the undersecretary answers to the Chancellor, but if Fosten had learned anything in twenty years of representing the planet of Loronar on the floor of the Senate, he had learned that the question of who answered to who was far more than a question of whose office was larger, and who answered to who on the proverbial paper.

The undersecretary gestured to a seat as he came in, eyes scarcely leaving her holoterminal as she typed away. She was not, it seemed, happy to see him. Fosten had the good sense to know why. He sat down, foot up on his knee, and smiled. Avala spent a few more moments typing, concluded whatever it was she was working on, and looked up at him. Her eyes were dark, brooding brown. Avala was never one to give away too much in her face, but Fosten wondered if a less measured person would be scowling if they were in her position. He thought it likely.

“Undersecretary Avala, to what do I owe the pleasure?” he tried. A cordial opening, even in the face of a predator’s open jaws, never hurt anyone. Granted, it rarely kept the jaws from shutting, but appearances are appearances and always needed minding.

“You know damn well to what you owe the pleasure, Fosten,” Undersecretary Avala snapped, dark skin creasing into a frown. “The Asteroid Mining Reform Bill isn’t on the Senate floor. We have been working on this for eight months and where are we? On the verge of introducing groundbreaking executive powers legislation and distracted by this monstrosity of a bill.”

Monstrosity was certainly the appropriate word.

Just over a year ago, the mining vessel Star Horizon had suffered a critical ray shielding overload during a strip-mining operation in the rings of Geonosis. The resulting explosion obliterated the Horizon and crippled half a dozen ships operating in close proximity, leading to a loss of life counted in the tens of thousands. Subsequent investigation of what had come to be called the Horizon disaster had led to the conclusion that the use of substandard—but legal—capacitor relays were to blame for the failure, and legislation had been introduced to regulate the standard of such mining vessel components to ensure the safety of deep space miners. A noble venture to be sure.

Of course, this being the Galactic Senate, such a simple, straightforward bill would never become law.

Hundreds of added amendments, provisions, wholesale redrafts, and supplemental legislative bills prolonged the lawmaking process and transformed this simple, straightforward solution to a simple, straightforward problem into a comprehensive reform bill that transformed the Republic’s approach to space mining. Provisions regarding hiring standards, materials transportation, educational requirements, training regimens, the international commerce of ore, and more had fundamentally altered the bill’s scope and purpose. As soon as the Labor & Pensions committee had introduced an amendment adding changes to collective bargaining rights to the fray, Fosten knew a timely passage of the bill was a long-lost cause.

For all that, though, the South Colonial Caucus, along with the Colonial Midworlds and the Southern Outworlds, had put together a bill that might just become a law.

“Undersecretary,” Fosten began, taking a reassuring tone, “I assure you my team and I have been working around the clock to make this bill happen and we are very close to bringing it to a vote. We have a few subcommittees putting the final touches on some minor amendments here and there. As soon as those are resolved the bill is on your desk.”

“What do you have to do to get it in on my desk? Specifically?” she asked.

“I should be getting the finished CBA amendments from Labor & Pensions within the hour, and Senator Yun has promised me the final draft of the transportation provisions by tomorrow,” Fosten answered. “The only amendment still being debated is in Outworlds Mineral Resources. Something about carve outs or some such for small Outer Rim enterprises.”

“Settle it, Fosten,” Avala said pointedly, “and get me my bill. We need all hands available to handle the CEC bill if it’s going to pass. It’s going to be an uphill fight and I need everyone we have to make it work.”

“Of course,” Fosten said. “Let me get back to work, then.”

- - -


Rensler - Offices of Ku'lya, Kast & Vosadii



“We just think there could be more than a trend,” Rensler said, scrolling through the datapad. Pai Gen, Narayana Navi, and Ben Croya, the first-year, sat in three chairs before his desk, all silent. Pai was scrolling through her own datapad, Raya typing away at hers. Ben Croya sat with his datapad out, but was looking to Rensler instead, as if unsure about what he should be doing with the thing. Conference calls were such awkward affairs when you were starting out, Rensler remembered. No idea what's going on, but being paid a lot of money to sit in a chair and knowing you should be doing something with your time. Of course, you don't want to ask what you should be doing. The only thing worse than looking unproductive, as far associates could tell, was looking dumb. That misconception was one every new associate fell into when they started.

“Look, Cal, I’m happy to take your money but we are not cheap,” Jacen Jast’s voice came over the speaker. “One politician says a phrase, it catches on, then they’re all saying it. We can look into it, but you know that’s how it works. I don’t think we’re going to find anything of value here.”

“Three hundred seventeen Senators across almost every party, caucus, and major committee saying the words ‘reasonable, temporary, and narrowly tailored possession’ is not a catchphrase, Jacen,” Rensler answered back. “The instances are too spread out, too specific, too off-message for too many of these people. Something is going on.”

Raya’s research over the past two weeks had been fruitful. Over three hundred Senators from every corner of the galaxy had, at one point or another, publicly suggested that they would support a seizure of the Corellian Engineering Corporation shipyards if that seizure amounted to ‘reasonable, temporary, and narrowly tailored possession’ by the Republic. Ordinarily, this sort of thing wouldn’t raise red flags for Ku’lya Kast’s lobbyists, but the situation was strange. The words were the same regardless of party affiliations, regardless of voting record, and yet they came up again and again over the course of months.

This was more than press secretaries feeding their Senators words based on trending topics in the news cycle. This was, as far as Rensler suspected, a coordinated effort. Someone, somewhere, was writing the words and feeding it to the Senate slowly and carefully.

“You’re right about that,” Jast said after a long pause. “Sure, let’s say you’re right. Someone has been doing a long-term push to have the Republic seize CEC properties. What does that get you?”

“Jacen, some of these statements predate Free Corellia. If I’m right, someone knew which way the wind was blowing and was laying the groundwork for it well in advance. Someone out there, with enough money to influence over three hundred Senators, was making plans to handle a Corellian revolution.” Rensler sat back in his chair. “If you’re playing sabacc, I think it’s helpful to know who you’re playing against.”

Noticing Pai, the team’s’ senior associate, raising a long, willowy finger, Rensler went for the mute button. “Just a moment, Jacen,” he said, pressing the button on the holocomm. “Yes?”

“We should probably run this up to the board first,” the Gossam said. “We are asking Coronet Analytica, a Corellian company, to do investigative work on almost a fifth of the sitting Senate. That’s going to be expensive. Maybe even completely unreliable, considering the subject matter.” Rensler nodded.

“You’re right. I trust him, but you’re right, there’s definitely a conflict of interest,” Rensler said. He hit the mute button again. “Jacen, we’re back. Look, I’m going to run my idea up to the board. Could you do me a favor though? Just investigate a few of these names, a couple of the big ones, maybe as a proof of concept sort of deal.”

“Sure, who were you thinking?” Jacen asked.

“How about Sadt Domask, Senator for Skako,” Rensler said, paging through the list on his datapad. “Shae Yun for Castell, too. Not that I know how to do your job, but they’re strong Core Faction traditionalists, could give us a baseline. Then for the more interesting ones, how about the senators for Iridonia, Ithor, and Glee Anselm. How does that sound?”

“I can do that for you. Let me know when you make a decision about this, I can put a full team on it within 48 hours as soon as you get the go-ahead,” Jast said.

“Will do, Jacen, thanks again,” Rensler said, and ended the call with a touch of a holographic button.
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Hidden 4 days ago Post by GrizzTheMauler
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Akira



Today was supposed to be the start of a vacation. They had intended to leave a week prior but as always, something new happened in the republic. And as usual, the Clients demanded answers. They had money, of course, as no information was free. Akira understood that very well. Adjusting their outfit they put un their mask and headed over to the main communications room. As Akira entered, holoscreens winked to life, displaying the vast amounts of data at their disposal. They took up a seat at their massive desk, a sleek black data console, which lit up when she touched it. Scanning the contents of the screens they flicked their eyes over to the News Sector, a corner of holoscreens that had various news networks on it. Listening to it for a bit they muted it as they focused on Agent reports. Their main Agents, aptly named the Hand, were their foothold into all the little secrets of the world.

What they found, however darkened their mood. More missing agents, three new resignations and grid wipes, and two of their informants were dead. The door pinged and opened to reveal their most trusted of agents, Ix, a tall Zabrak in a sleek black outfit. "I see you've finally deemed to walk among the living again, Eye." His voice rumbled with humor. He reengaged the lock after him. "We've got some bad news. Uri, Ko'Dar, Maliz and Ren are missing. Rys… Turned up dead. One of our old contacts found him."

Akira scowled behind their mask. "And we still have no answers. This is not good, Ix." They looked out the window to the rest of the city. "I want answers. I want them last week. I guess it might be time to head into the field again." They sighed. "And here I had hoped to be halfway to a resort by now. How goes the work on the Nexus."

"Our patrons have not dropped their support." The man crossed his arms. "It's still several months till we are ready for testing the ship. For now, we've secured a Thunderclap. Took a bit of extortion and a few favors called in but we have a new ship. It's being retrofitted to the specs requested. As for general funds, we won't run out till I'm old."

Akira rolled their eyes. "Quit calling me old, Ix. We're nearly the same age and you're older." They stand, heading over to a door, opening it to reveal an elevator that they take down to the armory. "I'll keep you out in the field for now. We need more agents in the field. We're down to what now, seven of us?" Shaking their head they grunt. "It's taking all we can to keep up the illusion that we are everywhere now... Someone is out there cutting the delicate web I've spun. And I'm not going to just sit here and take it. Now, I'm going to go have a nice relaxing dinner at the Cantina. Keep me posted." Slipping on their weapons and the many daggers, Akira pulls up the hood of their cloak and takes a back entrance out. Ix will show himself out when he's rested up. They had their special communicator with them just in case they were needed. After exiting the building they seamlessly blended into the crowd. It was a speeder ride to the Phantom Glass where with a quick nod to the bartender, they made their way to the back room. This is where everyone _thought_ the Phantom Eyes worked out of. Here they took off their hood and mask. They were not expecting company any time soon, as no one entered without their permission. They ate while they did some research, looking at the news feeds and occasionally checking the network for anything from their agents.
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Hidden 4 days ago Post by The Wyrm
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Trist Menron, Captain - CFSEU Cover Office



Trist sat with his eyes closed, head tilted back, one clawed hand stroking his beard, the other tapping on the durasteel desktop. He was aware of the suns heat on his back, the rumble of distant speeder traffic, the louder roar of military aircraft, and the ever present hum of the air refresher unit. His nose twitched as he detected notes of fresh paint, cool metal, and the smells of so many different races all in one space.

All in all, could be worse. He opened his eyes at last and made eye contact with human who was sitting quietly across from him. Trist didn't know how Urik managed it, but the man looked plain, sounded plain, and even damn well smelled plain.

Urik smiled, almost as he could read the bothans mind. Trist was convinced he could do just that. "Practice, my friend, lots of practice. Its probably the same reason I have two ex-wives."

"Never understood the marriage thing myself." Trist snorted, his long moustache wobbling with the motion. "Let alone why you would do it twice."

The human just shrugged and leaned back in his chair, the fake leather sighing beneath his weight. "Shit happens."

"Yes, it does." Trist shook his head. "Anyway, what's the word?"

"Grandage called in ten minutes ago, they won't be calling into briefing. It seems Khuble has himself some guests and they appear to be preparing to move out." Urik flipped open his datapad. "One Jaren Jast and Co. Ship Raven Trespass. Been gathering a crew that now includes some decent hackers and some hired thugs."

Jaren Jast. Now that is a name we haven't seen in a while. Khulbe still has him by the short and curlies I see. Trist was sorting through his memory for whatever he could think of on Jast. Ah yes, he has a brother in Republic intelligence I believe. Jacen I think.

"I already looked into Jacen and I don't think he's part of this." Urik continued with a sly grin and Trist scowled at him. I forget he almost ended up a Jedi. He would have been wasted on them.

"Okay, so we've got a well known thug / wannabe gangster putting together some sort of team on behalf of the most powerful Hutt on Nar Shadda. This stinks. Any Sith activity?"

"Some, but nothing the Hutts won't handle, either in a wonderfully dramatic fashion, or a very boring one. They don't appreciate anyone playing in their pool without permission."

Trist snorted. "To true." That's why we went in covert. It's been a hell of a ride but I think we might finally be able to put an end to at least one small part of Khulbes operation. Though I wonder what Jast is up too...

"The team is still in position and can either stick with Khulbe or we can break them off to follow Jast." Urik finished, closing his datapad.

"Have them stay with Jast for now. Khulbe isn't personally going anywhere and we can keep an eye on him with the remote units. Is our agent secure inside his household?"

"Yea, they will be making contact while things are a bit busy with Ritgars arrival. So far we don't have anything new or exciting to report on that front. It seems Khulbes been up to his usual tricks and we have nothing to report on Jast yet. With any luck the agent will be in touch and can fill us in on what is going on over there."

"Good enough for me. Pass the order to Grandage to have them stick with Jast. Otherwise I'll see you in fifteen in the briefing."

"Fifteen it is." Urik left, his plain odour lingering for just a moment before dissipating into nothing, as if he had never been in the room.
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Hidden 3 days ago 3 days ago Post by Bea
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Eyri Pharliis, Senator - Senate Building Office




"Eyri I insist, you've hardly eaten in the past couple of days. You need to take a break."

Chief of Staff, Iri Mosvaine, stood next to Eyri Pharliis at her desk. The newly elected Pantoran Senator was busy looking through a list of the supporters to the Asteroid Mining Reform Bill, scrounging for more supporters so that the bill may be changed, numbers raised, so that her people would not suffer a spike in unemployment from this bill.

"Iri, I can't," Eyri began, looking up at her friend and closest advisor, "This bill has been waiting far too long, it's holding everything up. I have to find more supporters on this. Otherwise we can't change the numbers and our people could face unemployment." Eyri never once took her eyes off her datapad, her head rested on one hand while she used the other to scroll through the supporter list.
Iri sighed, eyes on her friend for a few more moments before heading for the office door.

"I'll bring you something back from the dining hall, alright?"

There was no answer from Eyri as she was sucked back into her task. Iri rolled her eyes as she exited the office, she too still had work to do that day.

"I pray the Moon Goddess gives me the luck I need for this..." Eyri mumbled, both hands moving to rub her temples as her eyes closed tightly.

The Asteroid Mining Reform Bill was Eyri's main focus now. She had just enough supporters to get the bill to the Senate, but not enough to change it further. She needed numbers changed so that many of the small mining companies ran by Pantorans or who employed Pantorans wouldn't suffer needless losses and cause a spike of unemployment for her people. The "big man" as she called it, companies who were larger and who employed more workers, would be required to follow policies and safety measures at the cost of some profit. The "smaller man" would struggle to follow policy and still make profit, and Eyri wanted to change that. Many of her competitors were not happy about this. Many corporations threatened to support her rivals, to fund their cause.
Eyri couldn't lose this support, but she couldn't let this bill go through as is, either.
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Hidden 3 days ago 3 days ago Post by Jackdaw
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Towler - Offices of Senator Towler



Much has changed across the galaxy since this court last considered the Contemplanys Hermi. The plain meaning of that clause, however, has not. . . .

Towler paged through the holographic display, reading through the cover story for the Coruscant Star-Herald. He was a voracious reader. He read everything, from op-eds and lifestyle pieces to hard news from dozens of publications across as many worlds. He had a keen eye for the news, and would but rarely miss an update. When the first articles reporting on the Corellia v. Galactic Republic decision were announced, Towler was on them. Then again, who wasn't? It was a landmark decision. Every political reporter, lawyer, and politician in every corner of the galaxy was reading about it.

. . . provides the Corellian Sector a means by which it may temporarily dissociate from the Galactic Republic to tend to the sector’s internal affairs. It does not provide to the Corellian Sector an instrumentality of secession. . . .

“Sir, Undersecretary Avala is on the comms,” Roker said, poking his head into Towler’s office, comm to his ear. Roker was Towler’s chief of staff, a sharp, loyal Loronar man. He was one of the very few people Towler trusted, but even then it was only as far as Fosten could throw him.

“Is it about the decision?” Towler asked, eyes hardly leaving the screen of his datapad.

Just over a month ago, as the Free Corellia movement was gaining traction and threatening to become a revolutionary threat to the Galactic Republic’s sovereign control over the planet, the delegation for Corellia had invoked the privilege of Contemplanys Hermi in an effort to suspend the planet’s membership of the Republic. The Senate, in a surprisingly unified voice, had come together with a strong ad hoc supermajority and vetoed the resolution. Corellia had gone directly to the Supreme Court, and, as of just a few moments ago, had officially lost.

. . . Even the most cursory analysis of the totality of these circumstances would lead one to an obvious conclusion; this invocation of the Contemplanys Hermi is not intended to achieve a temporary suspension of the Corellian Sector’s relationship with the Galactic Republic, but rather a permanent dissociation therewith. . . .

“Yes,” Roker said. Towler set the datapad down. “She wants the mining bill done.”

Towler breathed deep and exhaled. He’d just had his conversation with Avala only a few hours ago. But the decision did change things. Now that Corellia could not pull out of the Republic, the Supreme Court had, effectively, given the Senate the green light to pass the seizure bill. If the Contemplanys Hermi measure had been approved, and Corellia had left the Republic and become a sovereign state, the Senate would have had no authority over the planet. Alternatively, he supposed, it changed nothing. They had all the time in the world to seize the CEC shipyards, now that Corellia was barred from leaving the Republic.

Unless they seceded outright, of course.

“Tell Avala we’ll resolve the Outworlds issue today and have that bill to her as soon as we get the final amendments tomorrow. Then get in the boardroom and let’s figure out how to buy off these senators,” he growled. Roker nodded and left the doorframe. The door slid shut, and Towler went back to the datapad, pulling up the profiles on the Outworlds Mineral Resources subcommittee.

-


“Toonan Teft,” Roker said, gesturing to the display, “Senator for Alzoc III and Chair for the Outworlds Mineral Resources subcommittee, needs twenty-five votes to send the amendment up to the Committee on Energy, Environment & Natural Resources. We have more than enough votes to get it through Energy and into the bill, but Toonan only has twenty-two. So it's stuck where it is for now.”

Towler’s boardroom was a long room dominated by long table, too large for the two people who sat at it. He sat a chair down from Iyla Tyndulla, his Twi’lek deputy chief of staff and third-in-command. Across the table, standing in front of a large holographic display projected from a screen fixed to the wall, stood Roker. The chief of staff had created a quick visual guide to the Outworlds Mineral Resources subcommittee with three columns. Twenty-two names were in the leftmost column, representing those senators that approved of the amendment and were ready to pass it through. Twenty-six were in the rightmost column, representing the holdouts keeping the amendment from moving forward.

Fourteen of those were staunch Core Factionists. Another three were Rim Factionists with deeply entrenched mining industries on their worlds. There’d be no moving from any of those. Senator Lyannis for Farstine was the most influential of the Rim Faction holdouts, and from the names Towler found under the rightmost column, he figured at least a few of those were behind her.

“We need three votes. Toonan thinks that if we can swing Lyannis she can bring over five of them and it passes,” Roker continued.

“The Republic navy is looking into locations for Outer Rim shipyards and starbases. Farstine is on the short list for one,” Iyla offered. “The planet is a perfect location for it, and the money and jobs a military base will bring might bring her over.” With a wave of the hand, Roker brought Lyannis’s name over to the middle column, and then a few more.

Towler frowned, shook his head. “Lyannis is too experienced. She’ll want a guarantee we can’t give her unless we burn a lot of goodwill and capital making it happen. Hell, she might not even need our help getting it.” Towler could put Farstine at the top of list, but so could Lyannis, and the favors he’d have to call in would put him deep in debt to the Senators on the Armed Forces committee. “Let’s call it a last resort. Who else do we have here?”

“Eyri Pharliis,” Roker said, moving Lyannis and her senators back to the rightmost column and moving Eyri to the center. He followed up by bringing three more over. “She controls three other votes on the subcommittee. If we can swing her we'll have just enough to pass it.”

“Who’s Eyri Pharliis?” Iyla asked.

“Senator for Pantora, just elected. She’s in her first term,” Towler said. He’d never met the woman, had never met many of the sitting Senators, but he knew who almost all of them were. This was a promising one. Towler flipped to her profile on his datapad. “She wants to almost double the Outer Rim small business exception, now why is that exactly?”

“Pharliis and the other senators in her corner represent developing planets with smaller automated workforces and more organic employees,” Roker explained. “Their mining corporations have less droid support than most worlds. A Core Worlds mining company with a hundred employees posts more than twice the profits of a Pantoran mining company with the same number.”

“Which means she’s looking at a lot of mining companies that aren’t going to be able to keep up with the regulations,” Towler extrapolated. “Good. What can we give her?”

“Maybe a subsidy amendment? We can allocate funds for developing worlds so they can augment their work forces with droids,” Iyla suggested. “I can write something like that in an hour.”

“You can write it in an hour but the debates on that will take weeks. Besides that we’ll burn a lot of bridges if we start handing out millions of credits to holdouts and next time we have a bill like this you can bet there’ll be more holdouts looking for handouts. There'll be hell to pay with Avala if we make moves like that.” Towler flipped through the datapad. “Write it up anyway, though, and make sure these Senators’ planets qualify under the language. Roker, Pantora is in the Sujimis Sector?”

“Yes,” Roker said.

“And, astrographically speaking, the Sujimis Sector is near the Sith Empire’s Sullustan Province?”

“That’s correct.”

“Tell me, Roker,” Towler said with a smile, “doesn’t that sound like a fine place for a Republic Navy starbase?”
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Hidden 3 days ago Post by Bea
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Eyri Pharliis, Senator - Senate Building Office




Hours later, Eyri Pharliis was still in her office. She, in fact, hadn't moved from her chair. Her various staff and aides filled the office. Some were doing their own tasks, datapads in hand, numbers crunched, policies reviewed, and various other things being worked on. Others, aides mostly, ran here and there, in an out, making sure Senator Pharliis had the answers she needed, datapad files... something to drink. Indeed, Eyri had never finished her meal delivered by Iri, had hardly even stopped to drink something for the last nine to ten hours.

She had been working, she was determined to figure this Asteroid Mining Reform Bill out before they forced her to accept the terms and move it to the floor. There just wasn't enough time in the day.
But one thing Eyri was good at was staying focused, finishing her priority tasks and not getting drawn into something else. Priority indeed described the current hologram conversation taking place. Projecting from her desk was the figure of a president heading a non-profit organization on Pantora. This same organization was making a plea for support with funding for a refugee effort in which desanitalization plants would be built in order to provide clean water to the refugees who resided on the Rochii gulf in the coastal land of Pantora.

"Please bring this to the Senate's attention, Senator. We need the funding in order to make this work. These refugees come to Pantora for a new life but we can barely promise them clean, drinkable water."

"I understand that President Valari, I'll see what I can do. The Senate is tied up over a mining reform bill that is taking up most of their attention, I'm not sure how quickly I can push this issue. How many credits does the organization require to get this project off the ground?" Eyri asked, her friend and Chief of Staff, Iri, standing beside her.

"100 million credits, Senator."

Iri interjected quickly, right as Eyri opened her lips to speak, "100 million?! And the organization wishes for the Senate to fund it in full?"

"Yes, Miss Iri. The organization and the Assembly wish for the Senate to pay the funds in full."

"100 million is a lot to ask of the Senate, mister President. I cannot confidently say that the Senate will easily pay this in full, though I will try to convince them best I can." Eyri continued.

"Thank you Senator. Pantora and it's refugees always appreciate your caring heart and continuous support."

"Of course President." Ey finished, nodding her head in thanks as the holographic figure of the president minimized and the transmission was ended.

"100 million credits, Iri... I don't know if I can make that happen. I'm already asking for an extension to the Mining Bill... I can't let it go through as is, and now this? I feel like a child begging for sweets." Eyri rested her head in her hands, taking a deep breath as her mind raced. She had millions of refugees' well-being on the line. Add that to all of her people and the companies who depended on the exception of the Mining Bill being raised? There was too much room for error, for failure.

Iri stood by her friend, a hand on Ey's shoulder in an attempt at comfort. Iri sighed, watching as the rest of the staff scurried around the room, attempting to accomplish tasks. It was quiet for a time, Eyri swimming through the worries in her head, all the people she didn't want to disappoint.

A simple bell rang at the entrance of the office. Eyri and Iri both looked up, the young Pantoran senator attempting to collect herself before she spoke. "You may come in."

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Fosten Towler, Eyri Pharliis - Senate Building, Offices of Senator Pharliis




Towler straightened his jacket and stepped through the door. The offices of Senator Eyri Pharliis were smaller than his, and indeed, smaller than most of the Senatorial offices, but Towler imagined that wouldn’t be the case for long. Politicians with the fortitude to stand up to the entire Senate and hold up one of the largest bills of the year, in their first term no less, rarely stayed in the junior senatorial suites for long.

Towler approached the senator’s desk with a smile. “Senator Pharliis?” he greeted, offering her his hand. “Fosten U. Towler, Senator for Loronar and Caucus Whip for the South Colonial. Do you mind if I sit?” He leaned into his accent a bit more than usual. His natural Loronar drawl had faded a bit over his years spent on Coruscant, but the accent had a rich, smooth charm to it and there was no sense letting a tool like that go to waste.

"Oh! Um, very nice to meet you, Senator."
Eri quickly stood to greet the man, taking his hand and offering a gentle shake. "Oh yes, please, sit." She continued, gesturing towards one of the few chairs in front of her desk.
She watched the man for a few moments before meeting eyes with Iri, who bowed politely and left the two to their conversation.
"To what do I owe this visit?" Eyri asked politely, her aides and staff still busy buzzing around in the background of the office, paying little attention to the visitor as they went on with their day

“I know we don’t have a formal meeting set up and I’m sure you’re a busy woman, Senator Pharliis, so I’ll keep you no longer than a few minutes.” Towler said, taking a seat across the desk. “Senator, I’m here to talk to you about the Asteroid Mining Reform Bill. It’s my understanding that you are one of the last holdouts on the Outworlds Mineral Resource amendment. I must say, I find your resolve commendable.”

“Thank you, Senator... I just need more numbers. Should this bill go through it could cause a massive unemployment spike for the people of—”

“Please, let me stop you there, Senator,” Fosten interjected, cutting her off sharply. “I respect you so I will be direct with you. The small business exception will stay exactly as it is now. The bill will pass, Pantoran businesses will fail, and thousands of Pantorans will lose their jobs. I am sorry for that, but these are the facts, and nothing you can do will change that.” Fosten paused, allowing the silence to fall between them, and then continued. “As you probably know I am the whip for the South Colonial Caucus, and it is my job to keep the bills moving. Over my very long career here, Senator, I have opposed many a first-term politician who took a stand and died on a hill that wasn’t much worth dying for.”

“Now, we can play hardball politics on this issue,” Fosten continued, “but why should anyone lose if everyone can win? I understand you have a subcommittee meeting tomorrow morning. I am prepared to offer you some concessions, for the sake of your noble people, if you will agree to cast your vote in favor of the amendment. Would you care to hear more?”

The office was buzzing this way and that, everyone paying attention to their tasks and little more, that is, until Fosten interrupted Eyri. It wasn't a well known fact, but Eyri Pharliis hated being interrupted. The Pantoran Senator saw little use in it. Many facts had been overlooked because people prefer to interrupt each other versus listening to the others full thoughts. Rarely, Eyri viewed it as a challenge. This though, was one of those rare occasions.

So she sat quietly, she listened, she did not interrupt Fosten as he had done to her. She eyed her staff, as many of them had almost come to a halt because Eyri had been interrupted. Had Fosten been someone who she was more acquainted with, Eyri might not have kept her level head as easily.

"I'll make no promises until I hear what you have to say." Eyri stated. She was interested in negotiating, even if it was in the slightest, but there would have to be significant promise to her that one way or another, her people would not suffer for this.

"I'm glad to hear that," Towler said, smiling broadly. "My understanding is that your labor force relies heavily on sentient organic labor. As soon as I leave your office, my deputy chief of staff will send over a concept draft for a bill we've written up providing subsidies to developing worlds. The money is earmarked for the purchase of droids and the construction of droid manufactories. It'll go a long way toward modernizing Pantora's industry bases, especially in planetary and space mining, and the jobs provided by the new manufactories will work to offset the job losses Pantora and your fellow holdout senators' worlds will suffer because of this bill."

"Furthermore," he continued, without skipping a beat, "the Republic Navy is looking into the construction of upwards of a half dozen military installations across the Outer Rim. Starbases, shipyards, anchorages, the works. The funding and plans are all in place, the only thing left to argue over is location. A shipyard in orbit over Pantora would bring upwards of thirty-thousand jobs on its own, and with private investment in new factories to support that installation that number can go as high as a hundred-fifty thousand. Pantora will have more jobs than it did when you first came into office, and a stronger economy on top of that."

"You'll have to testify in front of the Committee on Armed Forces and convince them that Pantora is the right place to put it, of course, but we can put you on the list and my team will be with you every step of the way."

"I will have to speak to the Assembly about this first." Eyri said, barely giving a seconds pause after Towler finished. "I cannot move forward with this without first speaking to the Assembly." she said, backing up any question as to why she would not just agree.
This probably was not the best answer Towler might have expected, but Eyri refused to move forward in negotiations before first allowing her people and the Pantoran Assembly a say on the matter.

"You are free to speak to and consult with whomever you like," Towler answered easily, "but it will be far better for you and your people if you vote for the amendment regardless of how the Assembly advises you."

"I will vote for the amendment so that it may move forward, but only so it may move forward. The policies in the amendment are crucial yet many companies will suffer from it." Eyri responded. She had made a list for moments like these, yet now didn't seem like the time for an argument, she would wait.

"Until then Senator Towler I thank you for your visit and your concern over the people of Pantora."
Eyri eyed Fosten as she stood and held out her hand for a respectful farewell. Mister Towler had brought some unnecessary tension into her office. She did not wish to be rude but the Pantoran Senator did need some time to process Towler's offer, and to contact the Assembly to talk about the possible terms.

"Excellent," Towler said, beaming. He stood and shook her hand. "In my experience the difference between a good senator and great senator has always been the ability to turn a defeat into a victory. If you keep up like this, I expect we'll be working together a long time."

And with that, Towler turned heel and left through the office door.
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Hidden 2 days ago Post by GrizzTheMauler
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Akira



Akira had been working for a few hours when the light lit on the door. Putting their mask on, while pressing the buttons to fill the room with a dense fog, merely for the intimidation factor they pressed another button to open the door. "Enter." Scanning their eyes over the new figure they noted several things, the bartender having sent them a report before they entered. "What can the Eye do for Coronet Analytica, today?" Their robot voice flowed smoothly over the words, rolling a small metal ball in their hand. "We haven't worked with your group, yet. I assume you need something from us."

The man looked slightly uncomfortable. "Yes. My, uh, superiors are requesting a partnership with your group. We have found ourselves in dire need of information, and with your recent exploits in toppling Jurgen and his smuggling gang, and the recommendation of Jedi Knight Rekka Jorga; we feel you and your people would be able to produce the best results." He paused. "That and... We have information on one of your recent... Acquisitions."

Akira's blood went cold. They kept their features neutral, only narrowing their eyes. "I see. Offering both the carrot and the stick." They made a mental note to get the ship back as soon as they could. They only needed it for the blueprints, of course. They sighed, the sound coming as a whir through the mask. "Very well. Tell him that the Eyes will allow his request."

The man sighs, relieved somewhat. "Uh, here is the datapad. We need you to look into two people, both Senators. Shae Yun, Senator for Castell and Tarth Kolat, Senator of Iridonia. We need you to compile logs of their activity in the last several months leading preceding their statements."

Akira nods as they looked over the datapad. "I will see to it personally. I assume I can complete this alongside my own missions, yes?" They reached over to a console and tapped a button, giving an alert to their agents in the field. "We will have the information you seek soon." They watched the man leave, a voice com popping up.

"Damn... They noticed." Ix was slightly irritated, his voice groggy.

"I was under the impression you had made a clean getaway, Ixon Malkov. Either way, have the Oracle arrange for me to get into Senator Yun's gala tonight. Some sort of wedding anniversary thing. Use the favor from the Bedlam incident last month as leverage, and then data-mine the storage banks for whatever we can dig up on Kolat. Yun is quite traditional and paranoid as of late. I had assumed something was up."

"We'll get right on that. You sure you can handle such a ritzy party?"

"As much as I hate going undercover, it's necessary. We'll need a quick dead drop for some various items, but female guests are rarely checked beyond purses." They ended the call, standing and heading out of the room and back to the lair. It was time for a ball.
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Hidden 1 day ago Post by Jackdaw
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Towler - Offices of Senator Towler



“The Chair wants to start putting together a vote count for the seizure bill. We want to build a list of people we’ll have to push to our side of the aisle,” Casmir’s voice came over the comm.

Casmir Covost, Senator for Byblos, was the closest thing Towler had to a supervisor. He was the Vice Chair for the South Colonial Caucus, a position Towler had deeply wanted but lacked the capital to secure. Towler’s corporate supporters on Loronar had deep pockets, but there were few who could match BlasTech, and Covost had a talent for shaking down Byblos’s military-industrial complex for the benefit of the galaxy and, more importantly, himself.

“I hear you, Casmir, we’ll put out interest letters before we leave today,” Towler answered.

“Thanks, Fosten,” Casmir said crisply, and he hung up. Towler considered Roker, who stood in the far corner of the conference room, sunken eyes watching and waiting. Iyla, sitting across the table, sat with a datapad, ready to work.

“The seizure bill is happening,” Towler said, stating the obvious. “Let’s use the same list we used for the initial interest letters with the mining bill. That had a good cross-section, I liked it.”

Iyla smiled. “Thank you. I’ll have those out before the end of the day.”

“And let me know where the Axis Caucus stands on this as soon as we hear, especially Tychus. This bill will be a lot easier to pass if the Axis supports it.” That was crucial. Corellia had enjoyed a special autonomy thanks to the role it played in the founding of the Republic, and the seizure bill’s proponents needed a strong, unified show from the founding worlds. If founding worlds like Alsakan stood apart from the pack, the message of the seizure being for the greater good of the Republic would lose its legitimacy as the moral high ground, and quickly.

“Of course,” Iyla said. “Anyone else you’re interested in particular?”

“We could use a face for the bill,” Roker suggested. “Someone with a proven track record of putting the Republic first. Someone with service history?”

“No, there’ll be war heroes on both sides of the issue. We need something rarer if we want to put a face on the bill,” Towler answered, thinking. Not an advocate for war, but someone who could represent the gravity of losing the CEC shipyards to Free Corellia. “What about one of the governments-in-exile? We lost dozens of worlds to the Sith. If we had co-sponsorship that represented the impact of losing our military-industrial base, that might mean something to the constituents.”

“T’Sombe?” Iyla suggested. “Senator for Amar? She’s a hero of the war refugee crisis. She was a major leader in evacuating her homeworld and resettling the Amaran people.”

“Now that,” Towler said, pointing a finger at the Twi’lek, “is some damn good thinking. Make sure she’s on the list and let me know where she stands as soon as we hear.”

“Thank you, sir,” Iyla said, and she excused herself to return to her desk.

Towler leaned his elbows on the table, lacing his fingers. “Today’s been a good day.”

“Very productive, sir,” Roker agreed, unmoving. “What’s the next step for Senator Pharliis?”

“That was expensive, Roker,” Towler said. “We need to make that shipyard work somehow, and that means we need to tackle Alzoc III.”

Alzoc III and the Talz people had long been the center of the Sujimis Sector. The lone Republic military starbase in the sector, a relatively small-scale installation but formidable nonetheless, orbited the planet and served as the primary refueling and repair station in that corner of the galaxy. It had been heavily damaged during the last years of the war, and word was that the Armed Forces committee felt that finishing the repairs and expanding the base into a full-scale installation was the best approach to securing the sector. That would leave Pantora without a case for a base.

“Teft will have my head if I lead the charge against his base,” Towler started, “so we’ll need to go through backchannels to make it work. We have to move people toward the idea that Pantora is the better place to put the base without getting our hands dirty.”

“That’s hard even if we’re open about it, the Alzoc III base was a sound location for the base during the war,” Roker said.

“I know,” Towler said. And then he smiled. “But we lost the war, didn’t we? And that’s all the public cares about. You still have your media contacts? Leak this to press,” Towler said, pausing a moment to think of the words, “’Doubling Down on Losing Strategies.’ Five-word headline. The angle is just what it says, the Armed Forces committee is putting money into ideas that failed us during the war and will fail us in the future. We need a new strategy to secure the Outer Rim.”

“Pantora.”

“Exactly.”
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Hidden 1 day ago 1 day ago Post by Sini
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Tychus Alastor of Alsakan - Rooftop Garden Terrace - Sunrise



Being a Republic Senator did have its perks, mused Tychus Alastor the most honourable gentleman speaking on behalf of Alsakan, that proud and venerable world. It was early morning, and although the sun cast a stinging glare in Tychus’s eyes and lent the dewy grass, the rustling trees, the shifting water in the well-kept roof-garden a golden glow, there was still a treacherous nip to the air. But then, that was to be expected when you were on a terrace kilometres removed from the planet’s surface.

An Artiodac, massive but nonetheless unobtrusive, came bearing a chromium platter whereupon a single, tiny cup of steaming vine-coffee stood perfectly centred. A pristinely clean towel was draped over one very impressive looking arm. In his other hand, the servant held a small pitcher containing Traladon milk – a condiment popular in Corellian cuisine and the only sort of cream acceptably added to vine-coffee. The jug looked ridiculous in the Artiodac’s huge fist.

Tychus grinned, amused by his Artiodacan manservant’s diligence and perfectionism. “Thank you, Torka,” the senator said, daintily accepting the ceramic vessel. He took a minute sip, noting that the Artiodac had sweetened the drink according to his tastes. The surprisingly lithe retainer inclined in his head in response, then added a dash of the Traladon milk and retreated.

A deep, relishing sigh escaped Tychus as he reclined on his terrace chair. He loved the smell of good coffee and looked affectionately at the mocha in his cup. After all, this was none of that cheap swill served in the caf shops and kiosks below.

Beeps and boops dragged him from his revelry. “Sir, I have someone you’d like to speak to on an encrypted line.”

“Ah, you do know how to whet my appetites, Ulri,” responded Tychus. He really was in a good mood this morning. Perhaps due to the pair of ladies still fast asleep he had left behind to enjoy the sunrise? He considered this. No. It was the luxurious coffee. “A fine morrow to you too. Who is it?”

“Veralai Brax, of the Corellian Engin-”

“I know who the Sith she is. Patch her through.”

Tychus sat up so fast that he almost spilled his expensive bean-juice. Farkle me sideways. He had not expected to operate on this level just now, though he would rise to the occasion. Undoubtedly this was about the rumours trembling through the Senate’s hallways and backrooms regarding a bill of seizure. How did he feel about getting a call from one of the Galaxy’s most notorious women? After a moment of searching his feelings, he knew it to be flattered.

Vera Brax was evidently an early riser. But then so am I. Nothing encourages a man to leave his bed like being kept awake all night by searing cramps.

“My apologies, Senator Alastor. I’m putting her through holo-feed now.”

Instead of calming himself, he grabbed his excitement and squeezed it for whatever energy he could. Tychus reached into a paper bag, drew out a pinch of bread dust between thumb and forefinger, and tossed it at his feet. A mob of self-important water fowl had already gathered, and now they fussed at each other furiously in their efforts to get at the crumbs while the Alsakan senator watched them, his weathered face affecting an aloof expression.

A number of drones hummed into existence, having come to allow a holographic projection of the call. The CEC chairwoman would be able to view him at whatever locale she was. The image would be that of a man clad in a bathrobe, sipping morning coffee and feeding duck-like water birds. Whether or not she would allow herself to be projected was up to her.

“I am under no illusions, Madam Director,” Alastor drawled in his native Alsakan accent, as he accepted the connection, almost without moving his lips and without looking up from the quacking fowl. “If I were a betting man – and I am – then I would say this has to do with the gossip about our latest bill. You have your wiles and ways, so I’ll just assume you know what’s what.” He feigned modesty but went straight to business and clarification of his stance. From what he knew of the Corellian harridan this was something she would appreciate. No need to talk about the weather, or how the children are, or the relative merits of different-coloured ducks. “I am not a big enough player to compete in this contest, even should I wish to. But I am big enough to get something from it. I intend to get what I can.”

“There is no shame in that.” A melodious voice from an undisclosed location.

“I do not think so. I have a family to feed, and it grows by the year. I strongly advise against too many relatives.” Tychus looked up then, lazily. A sadness tugged at the strings of his heart and he surpressed it. “And then I keep dogs, and they must be fed also, and have great appetites.” Alastor gave a long, tired sigh, and tossed the birds another pinch of bread. He had them imported at great expense from somewhere in the Outer Rim. Naboo? “The higher you rise, chairwoman, the more dependents cry at you for scraps; that is a sad fact.”

“You carry a large responsibility, Senator.” Vera remarked blandly. “How large, might I ask?”
“I have my own vote, of course, and control the votes of several other chairs on various committees. The Perlemian representatives listen when I speak, and there are over a hundred of us.” Of me. “Senators and worlds tied to my own by bonds of friendship, of long tradition, and... incentive. I am a persuasive man.” Incentive could mean bribery and intimidation, though Tychus usually employed both. What good is a carrot when you do not have a stick to beat’em with?

“Such bonds may prove insubstantial in times such as these. You are certain of how many of those?”

Tychus turned his cold eyes on the optics feeding Vera his image. “I am no fool, Director. I keep my dogs well chained. I am certain of them. As certain as we can be of anything, in these uncertain times.” He tossed more crumbs into the grass and the ducks quacked, and pecked, and beat at each other with their wings.

“A hundred, then.”

“A hundred to take into account.” No mean share of the great pie.

Vera’s voice sounded unperturbed. This was business to her. “We would be willing to offer sixty thousand credits for each vote.”

“I see.” Tychus Alastor’s hooded eyes did not so much as twitch. “You are a long way from Corellia, madam. So little meat would scarcely satisfy my dogs. It would leave nothing for my own table. I should tell you that the Kuat family, in a highly roundabout manner, already offered me eighty thousand a vote, as well as an excellent stretch of property and estates. Prime hunting lands. Are you a hunting woman, Director?”

“I was.” A pause. “But not for some time.”

“Ah. My commiserations. I have always loved the sport. But then a spokesman for the IGB came to visit me.”

“How charming for you both.”

“He was good enough to make an offer of ninety thousand, and a very suitable suggestion for some of our corporate interests. This mining security bill for instance has a lot of backing companies up in arms.”

“You accepted?”

“I told their catspaw it was too early to accept anything.”

“I am sure we could stretch to ninety-five, but that would have to be—”

“Rendili Stardrive’s agent already offered me ninety-five.”

“Them? Was it Adira Serret?” hissed Vera.

Senator Alastor raised an eyebrow. “I believe that was the name.”

“I regret that I can only match that offer at present. I will remember your leniency.” He could practically hear her grinding her teeth.

“I look forward to hearing from you, chairwoman.” Tychus turned back to his ducks and permitted them a few more crumbs, a vague smile hovering round his lips as he watched them tussle with each other and sipped his coffee. The allegory, he was sure, would not be lost on a woman like Vera Brax. Then the connection was severed.

Damn, but this is a good morning.” He then tossed out the contents of his drinking vessel. "Torka! Another. This one went cold."
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Hidden 16 hrs ago 15 hrs ago Post by Jackdaw
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Towler – The Trentana Café



Artificially managed evening settled in on Coruscant’s Federal District with the assistance of the planet’s enormous orbital mirrors, and the well-dressed diners on the sky patios of the Trentana Café found themselves looking out on a twinkling sea of light in the darkness. The Senate building was lit with a soft blue that night, the structure ringed with white lights in more of the windows than not. Government never truly slept at the center of the galaxy.

“This is delicious,” Towler said, swallowing the last of the steak and setting the silverware down.

“Amazing what money can buy, isn’t it?” Callum Rensler said, leaning back in his chair across from Towler, dark eyes narrow in the fading light. Towler gave him a pursed smile.

It was just the two of them at dinner. Towler knew, as soon as Rensler had called, that it was about the seizure bill. Rensler wasn’t a social friend these days.

“Directly to business. I like it,” Towler said. He certainly did not like it. He had a long working relationship with many of the Federal District’s lobbyists, Rensler in particular. Ku’lya Kast had held the Loronar Corporation account for a solid eighteen years of Towler’s career, right up until Ven Panteer had poached the contract from Rensler. Towler hadn’t worked as much with Rensler since, as the lobbyist had gone on to work other interests outside the scope of Towler’s constituency. Corellian interests, specifically.

“The seizure bill is going to die, Towler,” Rensler said. “The CEC won’t let it happen. That’s a fact you need to accept.”

“You sound like me, Callum, I’m glad I’ve rubbed off on you after all these years,” Towler answered. “But it’s early days yet, and we’re a long way from the floor.”

“The CEC has written twenty million credits’ worth of checks in donations today alone, Fosten,” Rensler parried. “There’s going to be another twenty million credits tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. The CEC is willing to empty the war chest killing this bill.”

“And here I thought this was a social call,” Towler said with a smirk. “I think you’re bluffing. The seizure bill in its current form allows only for a temporary occupation. No more than hwhat's necessary to protect the Republic's interest in the shipyards,” he continued, reaching for the glass of whiskey beside his plate. “I don’t see the CEC wasting its extensive resources to avoid a temporary seizure.”

“Is the duration at the discretion of the Chancellor?”

“We don't have the legal language down yet,” Towler said sourly, knowing full well where Rensler was going with this train of thought, "but that's my expectation.”

“A temporary suspension at the discretion of the Chancellor is as good as permanent. If Free Corellia holds out for ten years, does that mean the CEC operates as a state-owned entity for a decade?” Rensler asked pointedly. Towler saw an opportunity.

“Are we arguing over the sale or the price? What if the bill had a hard cap on the length of the time the Republic could occupy the shipyards? Say, six months?” Towler said.

“Don’t misunderstand me. There’s no room for compromise,” Rensler retorted sharply. Towler pursed his lips and took a sip of the whiskey.

He spoke again after a long moment. “You have to see there’s a compelling interest in securing the shipyards, Callum,” Towler tried. That was weak. Better to not say anything than say something weak. This was not going well. He was being stonewalled at every turn.

“What I think has nothing to do with it. I represent the CEC, and if the CEC doesn’t see a compelling interest, neither do I. This is not a negotiation,” Rensler said. Now that was not true, Towler knew. Rensler represented the CEC, yes, and it was his job to represent the CEC’s interests, yes, but it was also his duty to advise the CEC. What Rensler thought mattered very much as far as advising the CEC went. Towler stayed silent, taking another swig from the glass, and waited for Rensler to speak again. “Could you put a time limit on the possession?”

There it was. The lawyer's ethical obligation to keep the client fully informed. “Maybe. I can’t guarantee anything, but I can try.” Towler thought about it. “For every senator who wants to pass a bill that’s fair to both the Republic and Corellia, there’s another who wants to hurt the CEC so their corporate sponsors can take a piece of the Republic’s naval budget for themselves.”

“Hosnian Prime,” Rensler said coolly.

“You might very well think that, but I certainly couldn’t say,” Towler said. He could, though. Hosnian Prime, Chair World of the South Colonial Caucus, had just finished a massive shipyard in orbit over the planet the previous year, and while private business was booming, they were looking for a seat at the military contracts table. That table that was opening up as Corellia fell out of favor with the Republic, which meant Hosnian Prime was eager to keep up the pressure. “Ask your people if they’d be able to work with a six-month limit on the possession.”

“Four months. They won’t take it, but I’ll float it. It’s an invasion of Corellian autonomy and they won’t stand for that.”

“Fine, float four months too, if you have to. If it’s really an absolute ‘no’ based on the principle of the matter it won’t hurt, but if we’re haggling over the terms they might as well know the option's on the table,” Towler answered. Rensler reached for his own glass and took a sip of liquor, considering the offer.

“Fine. But I have to tell them that you can’t guarantee a delivery on that,” Rensler said.

“I can only do what I can.”

“If the CEC turns the offer down, I’d advise you to give up, Fosten,” Rensler warned. “The CEC will find the projects you care about and kill them, and they’ll find the projects your opponents care about and pour money into them. The only winners are the people who oppose you. Someone else might be sitting in your office in a couple of years.”

That was a threat, and Towler didn’t like threats. He shifted in his seat, taking his time as he collected his thoughts. Rensler watched him expectantly. Aware that he had struck a nerve, maybe? Towler couldn’t tell. Rensler was hard to read, which made him an excellent choice for an advocate and a poor choice for an adversary.

“Let's not say things that'll make us look foolish when the cards are played out," he began, doing his best to keep the venom out of his voice. Cooler heads always prevailed in these talks, he knew well enough. Rensler lifted his chin a bit. Defiance, Towler figured.

“The Rim Faction hates the CEC because it’s a corporate monolith that receives all the favorable treatment in the galaxy from the Republic,” Towler continued, slowly and deliberately, setting his elbows on the table as he spoke, “and the Core Faction hates Corellia because it refuses to stand with the Republic as part of a unified galactic state. The CEC has far fewer friends than you’d like to pretend, Rensler, and I've always found it very difficult to win on the Senate floor without a few of those.”

“Money makes more friends than ideologies. We don’t have to be enemies, Fosten,” Rensler said. “If you want to come over to the winning side, you have my number.”

“I agree. We don’t have to be enemies. If your client comes around to see that the value in compromising with the Republic outweighs the cost of ‘winning,’ if that's what you'd call wasting billions on a losing fight, you have mine,” Towler answered. “I’ll propose a time-limit to the possession to my side if you propose it to yours.”

“They won’t take it, but I’ll run it by them anyway. It was nice seeing you again, even if we’re on opposite sides this time around,” Rensler said, and he stood to leave.

“Likewise,” Towler said, and honestly at that. He liked Rensler, circumstances aside.

“Don’t worry about the bill, by the way. Dinner’s on the CEC tonight,” the lobbyist said, buttoning his jacket and turning away. Towler watched him leave, and then looked into the shallow finger of liquor that was left in the bottom of his glass. Much less than half-full, far more than half-empty.
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Hidden 14 hrs ago 2 hrs ago Post by Bea
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Eyri Pharliis - Senate Building, Offices of Senator Pharliis




Eyri would be lying if she had told someone she'd been keeping track of the time. Her staff sent home, her office quiet and peaceful, Senator Pharliis sat at her desk. A cold drink that had once been warmed, a snack that was going stale; holomaps of Pantora and datapads recording the population, refugee figures, any piece of info that Eyri needed to figure out this bill, she had.

Please don't overwork yourself, Eyri.

Iri's words before departing that night rang in Eyri's head. Her advisor also happened to be her closest friend, a childhood friend, and for that Eyri was thankful. Iri had been a figure of constant support, almost like a sister to Eyri. She fondly remembered days where they'd go running through the square, chasing leaves in the wind or bathing in the sun as they lay in the grass.
Eyri couldn't help the soft smile that grew on her face as memories washed over her. She and Iri hardly had time to themselves anymore. They were still the closest of friends, but sometimes Eyri wished they could spend time together again, just like in their childhood.

One of the few datapads Eyri had scattering her large modern desk lit up. Glancing over at it, a message from Iri.

I need to discuss something with you. Tomorrow morning.
Eyri found herself frowning a little, as communication between them was usually less professional and more relaxed, as friends would be.

Of course. Meet me in my office, okay? Eyri replied quickly, the datapad sending the message instantly back.
Eyri began to clean up her office, putting the unused datapads away, dimming the lights and fixing small things that had been bumped and shifted throughout the busy day.

She looked one last time at the datapad she had used to communicate with Iri. No reply.
"I suppose I'll take that as a yes." Eyri said to herself. Putting the last datapad away, the Pantoran senator dimmed the remaining lights and exited her office. Tomorrow would be another busy day.
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