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~ The Morkt ~

The black sand cut like shards. A withering man clung to it, sinking his fingers into the cold, dry earth. He wore tattered chainmail that had been bloodied and bent. His lips were cracked and pale, barely able to release the icy mist from his breath. But breathe was all he could do. Behind him gently rocked the remains of a longboat. Its inhabitants were freshly rotting and the heat of their bodies created a feint yet pungent steam. The man rested his head in the sand, listening longingly to the soft tides that broke against his legs. He wanted nothing more than to feel the sweet taste of fresh water. Yet the salt of the seas was a cruel mistress.

Suddenly he was yanked. His hair, cut in the standard fashion of a braided top with shaved sides, became a rope to the rough hand which snared it. He could feel himself being drug by his head. However he was too weak to fight. His limp legs cast a trail in his wake. He was being drug to a small gathering of flickering lights. It was soon that he could see these lights were torches held by a mob which had collected on the beach. He could hear hushed voices. They started as sporadic whispers but their melody grew into a haunting unison. They were singing a low and solemn song that he had heard many times before. Amongst the chorus was the shrieking cries of a shaman. The witch danced around a now lit pyre, so bright that the crippled man could only see flickering shadows as the figure danced like a beast possessed.

The figure approached and pressed its face up to his. She licked his cracked lips with a sadistically gentle touch. Then he felt it. The splitting pain of a knife plunging into his bowels. The shaman rent the knife up his abdomen and sent an ear splitting scream into the night sky. With two quick strokes she flayed his abdomen and hollowed out his entrails. The refuse of his guts were thrown into the fire. In their place was placed a bundle of thatch which had been soaked in seal pitch. The man mustered his strength to remain propped at the knees. His arms were outstretched and he could feel the gentle lift of his neighbor’s hands keeping him aloft, but doing so of his own will. Whether it was honor or exhaustion, the man gave no screams. Even in his failure, he was making his people proud.

The shaman set the straw alight. With his last breath he uttered a sigh of relief. The flames tore into his chest and soon licked out of his open mouth pointed to the stars and the night sky.


Ida’s icy blue eyes looked onward. Her muscled fingers dug into the arm of her friend. Gnima, daughter of the shaman, stood arm in arm against the cutting breeze. Though their skin betrayed their heritage, they were nothing short of sisters. They shared the fates and realities of this cruel world. Ida and Gnima had been born on this desolate rock, but to vastly different casts. Ida was a smith, the finest this wharf had ever known. Her thick blond hair blustered about her seal skin parka. Gnima was the blood of a primordial, a minor caster destined to be the leader of the wharf when her mother passed. Her skin was a pale caramel, her dreaded locks adorned with the shimmering winnings of suitors.

“Do you look forward to doing this thing?” Ida asked, staring onward at the flickering carcass. The muffled cries of the raider’s family had traded itself for the ceremonial canter. The man’s son, perhaps five or six, shreaked into the folds of his mothers cloak.

“Ida, this is not our land. You know this is not about want, it is about necessity. The Primordials save us from the Deep Ones. It is not our place to judge the morality of the gods. The fault lies not in them, but in ourselves.”

“And do we do these things for the gods or do we do them for the Morj? Do we not cull the herd of our cowards and failures to sharpen the Mistress’s ax?”

“Perhaps. But perhaps that is the will of the gods.” The tone of her voice was soft, uncommitted. It was the words she had been raised to say, but still they itched her throat. “Where does your man Trygve raid to this season?”

“He would not say. He does not say much to me of late. Something troubles his horizon, but I do not think even he understands what it is. He said the world is changing; it’s edges grow darker and close.”

“If there is an edge to this world, he will find it.”

“And if he fails, you will be the one to stuff his gut...”

A desperate cry split the tension that had been rising between the friends' embrace. The young son of the executed warrior had made a bolt for the frozen bay. The mob watched on as he scrambled to escape this place. They stood silent as he sprinted over the black sand and onto the frozen waters of the bay. For a moment they all envied him. A daring escape. But at the edge of the water, not even his mother dared to follow.

A trident thrust through the thin ice from below and gored the child mid-stride. The Morj had been watching, they were always watching. His body perched as a monument to false hope. Still many onlookers envied him.

@Nerevarine Sorry mate,I've had a nation cooked up in PMs for those north west isles for a hot minute.

Corusca Sector (L-9)
Sergi Dio's Private Quarters

Sergi’s cheeks burned with a dull fire. He had been smiling incessantly for the past 5 hours during an interview and he was feeling the effects. His undershirt was dripping with sweat beneath his pristine, stylish robes. All he wanted in this life was a cool glass of water and a nap.

As he sat in a lounge chair massaging his cheeks the familiar footsteps of Sophia, his body guard, could be heard pacing toward him. He groaned to himself knowing that the emphasis in her foot fall could only mean she was bearing bad news.

“Dr. Dio, we have a situation.”

Sergi’s hands wrenched at his hair in frustration. He looked up and saw both Sophia and Kayleigh standing side by side. Their body positioning suggested there was still tension but they both seemed completely transfixed on the burgeoning politician. Whatever it was they had to say must have been important to garner such cooperation from the two.

Sophia continued to speak, briefly checking the datapad in her arms as she did so. “Our techs near Kuat have gotten intel that several ranking R&D scientists from Balmoran Arms are quietly looking for a way out. It seems that they have become disenchanted with the CIS and have no wish to continue designing and building war droids for them. Problem is the CIS would likely imprison them as they have worked on several of the more experimental designs produced for the CIS war machine over the past year. To top it off Balmorra has a fleet of luckrehulks protecting it from Republic assaults.”

“—those are the big fuckers right?” Sergi interjected. His mental exhaustion was still apparent but he seemed much more engaged in the conversation than originally.

“Yessir, very big. The Isangoma would last a half hour at best against a single one. They have more droid fighters than a bantha has fleas. However, we do know the complex that the VIPs are being held in and that they are all Balmorra natives. One by the name of Tellex Sigor appears to be a senior operator with 30 years under his belt. These guys are big timers. Unfortunately that’s all the information we have.”

“That’s it? I’m expected to extract 3 random pencil pushers who are discontent with the color of their cubicles?” Sergi sounded more disappointed than frustrated. It was going to be a risky operation but he knew this could be a major play for the Republic. Knocking out a handful of lead R&D specialists would not only cripple their respective programs but give the GAR valuable information that could save thousands of lives. At least Republic lives.

Sergi continued to sift his fingers through his hair, a tell-tale sign of his stress. Suddenly the outstretched hand of Kayleigh Walsh nudged his shoulder. She was offering him her canteen. She remained silent and simply nodded. Her characteristic smirk was replaced with a hardened gaze which Sergi mirrored back. Sergi quickly unscrewed the bottle and took a long sip. The cold water in his mouth was a miniature paradise. He poured some on the top of his head and swept his hand through the soaked hairs. Instantly he felt like a new man. His mind raced into action and his words followed in swift pursuit.

“Put all appropriate hands on deck in the Isangoma. Karns, Barr, Quain, and Shalla have 4 hours to be on station and their subordinates accounted for. I want the shuttle with all the doo-dads and sensors off of the Galipot and onto my vessel, Miss Valencia doesn’t need it. Tell her to stay here on Coruscant and kiss any bare ass she comes across. Scramble Glaxtus from Uyter and have him meet us in our holding pattern outside the Balmorra system. Kayleigh, get your ground team ready, they’re your pick by hand. I want as much intel on that planet and complex that we can muster and I want to know everything about Tellex Sigor; where he’s from, who his family is, what hand he wipes his ass with. Dangle a couple thousand credits over the heads of the techs that got us this intel and see what else they can scrape up before we go topside. And get me a glass of water.”

Within the hour, the Isangoma was enroute to the Balmorra system just outside of where the crew suspected the CIS holding fleet could make sensor contact.


Outer Rim Territories (S-18)
Lamaro System

*Cchhhhhhh* “Uhh, all operators be advised, Which Doctor 2.2 has eyes on a mosquito the size of a midget. Over” *Cchhhhhh*

The small taskforce of Twi’leks bounced through the rough jungles of Lamaredd on their skimpy light-armored vehicles. Four of the warriors rode on top of the vehicles while the other half were forced to endure the sea-sickening ride from inside. Were they hit by a mine or ambush this would relatively ensure the survival of half the crew but many inside would argue that they would rather be dead then endure navigating story tall root systems for much longer.

The crews on the outside were enjoying themselves as much as one could in the situation. They wore all wore black body suits and camouflaged torso armor but that was where the similarities ended. Each of the Twi’lek operators had a different signature style about his garb. Whether it was tribal paintings, intricate lekku tattoos, or talismans hanging from random parts of their uniforms, they were all a unique group of very grungy men. What united their looks were the gallons of sweat and mud that clung to each of their bodies.

This particular mission was one along the list of many like it. Their vessel, the Shaman, had received an unknown distress signal while on “general patrol” as their commander Sergi Dio liked to call it. What it really meant was to wait around said area and do nice things for people. Help damaged vessels, ward off any meandering pirates, and if anyone crashed into a shithole like the one they were in now, be the first one to help and make sure someone was filming. Though this planet was inhabited by a small colony, the locals were deathly afraid of the far north jungles where the distress beacon of a crashed shuttle emanated. It fell upon this motley crew to check it out. Naturally the story was running 24 hour coverage on local news.

The convoy of four light vehicles came to a sudden stop. Almost instantly a large, dark human leaped from the passenger side of his second to rear vehicle and coolly strode up to the front. He was puffing on a fat spice joint that was clearly out of regulation. It was Paccu Xcubu, the eccentric and universally loved leader of the Witch Doctor unit. He was an intimidating figure with long, mangy dreadlocks that seemed to have something growing in them at all times. He was at best unkempt but he had a fierce intuition and knew his way around even the most backwater of worlds.

When the large figure reached the front of the convoy he saw what had stopped them. Before the rescue team was a large lake covered in a tick film of algae and various floating flora. At the other edge of the shore were the outlines of small huts with the faint imprint of campfire smoke smudging the sky.

“My boyyys, why it is that you stopping, eh? Tell me which one of you can’t swim; they get to go first.” Paccu spoke with an almost indiscernible accent that was made even more difficult by his rumbling laughter. The Twi’lek warriors seemed to understand as they chucked morbidly at the colonel’s joke. Without further dialogue the convoy lurched forward into the unwelcoming swamp and Paccu jumped atop the lead vehicle.
“All units, this is Which Doctor 1.1. Be advised, we have eyes on a native hamlet 2 clicks north east of our pos. Break. Maintain defensive posture… Please keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times. I’d bet my next leave that there is an Opee waiting for every toe that goes in this water. 1.1 Out.”

The team that sat atop the point vehicle with Paccu shook their heads in subtle laughter. Their A280’s were clinically trained on the water surrounding their amphibious craft as they putted across the filthy water at incredibly slow speed. It wasn’t clear if their rate of attack was intentional so as not to disturb anything that might be lurking beneath or if their kit really was as subpar as they always lead themselves to believe.

“Any bets on how fine the ass is in this little town were rolling into?”

“I’d say if the creatures in that hamlet even have accommodating parts they are probably shaped like a sarlacc pit. I doubt these things even stand on two legs.”

“That has never stopped him before.”

“I don’t care if they look like a damn verpine, I’ve got 20 credits and a liberty pass when were stationed at the Estate that I can nail the brains out of one of them by the time we exfil.”

“You are aware you literally condoning yourself to a night licking Lieutenant Dan’s boots instead of hitting Lilly town, right? Like you realize you are the stupidest thing floating on this truck right?”

“I’m making an alphabetical list of every species I’ve done the deed to and I’m already in the U’s. I don’t care if these things don’t even speak basic, home-girl is gonna make an uhhh sound and I’m scratching U off the list.”

Paccu interjected into the all Twi’lek conversation, his lack of Basic making him miss most of the childish punchlines his troops threw about. “Dese guys speakin dat Menahu shiit. Dat’s some bad shiit to be speakin too. They sound like they talkin to da devil when they sayin the hello.”

The team aboard Paccu’s APC stifled their laughter. Their commanding officer was like one of the people you saw on the Holonews and wondered if they were even speaking the same language as you. Admittedly, Basic was Paccu’s 4th language so the troops gave him some slack. He hadn’t even begun to learn it until a year before he entered Sergi’s services. How Colonel Paccu Xcubu (a name only pronounceable with a tongue click) really communicated was through body language. His slightly jaundiced eyes, sun beaten forehead, and coarse scarred hands gestured in any way he needed to speak. But for now, while his men’s sights were trained on their respective sectors, he was practically a mute.

As the convoy approached the small village, the planets natives began to appear. They were only rudimentary cloths made of animal skins. Though unattractive by any means, many of the race’s females were topless. Having not seen women for almost a month now, many of the Twi’lek marines exchanged subtle fist bumps.

The natives crowded the shoreline. It appeared that many were drawing bows and preparing to fire on the floating armored beasts. Immediately the four vehicles fanned out to laterally take the beach in force if necessary. Marines atop the roofs scrambled to present a 75% frontal firing arc, picking out targets of opportunity. But before a shot could be fired, Paccu stood up on his craft and waved slowly at the on looking crowd. Perhaps he was trying to show that these were sentient beings riding the armored beasts and not some sort of spinney creature trying to attack them. Whatever it was, it worked.

As the APC’s took to the beachhead they were met by cheering children and slightly bewildered but pacified adults. The top-side marines had dropped their defensive posturing and were mingling with the natives. Within minutes the APC’s were emptied of troops who were playing with children and handing out humanitarian rations. The Menahuun seemed enthralled with the vehicles, believing them to be great beasts that the warriors had tamed and ridden to their town. Clearly this lot had not been the ones assaulting the colonists thousands of miles to the south.

As the squad leaders of the 40 men tried to maintain order and security over the bustling scene, Paccu had begun looking for the village elder. He had strapped the upper body of a protocol droid to his back. It was to act as a translator for when they did find someone who might know about the crashed vessel the team had received a distress signal from. The bottom half of the droid had been bitten off by a nexu on a previous operation and they had never received funds to replace it. Though it was only a talking torso, C4-PK received an inordinate amount of adoration from the populace.

“Colonel, how do you say ‘vote Loyalist’ in Menahu?”

“I think it sounds something like, *click* *gulp* watch your *click* fucking *purr* sector.” Replied Paccu with a crystal white smile. However his face clearly showed he was also quite disturbed by the clamoring situation. “I don’t like these people. They smile with daemons behind their eyes.”

Suddenly a flare ripped into the sky from inside the village. The Twi’lek marines immediately drew their weapons to bare and scrambled into defensive positions. The turrets of the APCs swiveled quickly to train their ordinance on the origin of the red smoke streak. Natives dispersed in all directions. Paccu quickly shot up a one fingered hand signal and began moving at pace into the town. Team one’s operators began following him before the order was even relayed by their squad leader over comms.

The 11 men moved quickly through the town, only stopping to clear sporadic alleyways between the thatched huts. They moved deeper and deeper into the primitive village until they came to a central courtyard. In it were crowded a number of Menahuun natives and a thrashing Muun female hog-tied to a beam. The team quickly took up a defensive half circle arcing at the 30 or so natives standing around the figure and began to advance. The APC that had transported the team soon rolled in behind with five more marines from team three as its escort. All the Twi’leks had their weapons fixed on the mob that was accumulating around the captive Muun.

A shrieking chant reverberated as the mob joined in one after another. Sticks were being assembled at the base of the Muun’s feet and her piercing cries drowned into the chorus of the natives. Her face was badly bloodied and her long nose was visibly broken. All around her tattered body, the natives were whipping themselves up into a frenzy. Pieces of her equipment and clothing, and what appeared to be scraps from a space shuttle were all being tossed about the horde that bolstered in size every minute. This prisoner of theirs had stolen all the attention that had been given to the landing party minutes before.

It was as if the presence of the 15 marines and APC poised to slaughter the gathering wholesale were of no importance. Paccu’s screams at the crowd to disperse fell upon the turned backs of the dancing villagers. The crowd had now quadrupled in size. Paccu finally lowered his weapon and began to push through the crowd toward the captive. Naturally his men thought this a brash move but they maintained their posture and took up kneeling and prone positions to provide support. The elements of team three that had joined the fray began to take up sniper positions on the thatched roof tops.

When Paccu had finally elbowed his way to the center of the crowd there was a man clad in feathered regalia holding a flaming torch aloft feet from the well fueled pyre of the prisoner. His hands were stretched out upward and so too climbed the horrendous chanting of the mob. Paccu brandished the barrel of his A280 inches from the chieftain’s face and yelled desperately at the droid on his back to interpret what he was saying. But it was to no avail. The crowd was deafening and the chieftain couldn’t have heard the protocol droid even if he wanted to.

The chieftain instead slowly lowered his torch toward the pyre, his stare transfixed on that of Paccu’s. The creature was in a trance. The eyes that had appeared like daemons to Paccu were now soulless, glazed with white. The colonel’s ears were ringing from the steady, unrelenting wail.

With a swift jab, Paccu sent the muzzle of his rifle into the mouth from which the earsplitting wail was emanating. The blow dashed out most of the chieftain’s teeth and he fell to the dusty ground. The torch in his hand toppled harmlessly into the dirt. All of the noise stopped. It was as if someone had pressed mute on the whole world…

“Tell him she is mine!” Paccu yelled at the droid strapped to his back, his voice booming in the eerily silent courtyard. The droid did not respond. The dreadlocked warrior had no idea why of all times the protocol droid was dead now, but it was. He was alone in the midst of some 200 crazed Menahuun all staring at him with sealed lips and unrelenting eyes.

Paccu kept his composure, or at least tried too as a cocktail of sweat and adrenaline dripped from every pore of his face. He pointed at the broken Muun girl whose muffled whimpers now filled the silence—much to Paccu’s relief. He then pointed sternly at himself.

The gesture was understood immediately and the chieftain arose to his feet filled with the greatest rage the grizzled ranger had ever seen in a creature. The Menahuun lunged at him with white furry. Paccu grappled with his assailant’s weight before plummeting to the ground with the beast. The deranged chieftain bit into his face before Paccu could draw his knife and slice the creature’s abdomen. The Menahuun lurched off in surprise as much as pain. As he did so, Paccu sent a head shake toward his troops eager to flay his attacker with blaster rounds. Paccu knew he would have to speak a universal language to these people: trial by combat.

The chieftain was thrown a crude spear from the crowd which he expertly caught without looking. The man paced back and forth in front of Paccu as he unlatched his defunct protocol droid and tossed down his blaster. He even peeled off his drenched fatigues and tactical vest, allowing his tattooed, rippling muscles to gleam in the searing light of the sun. All the while the chieftain waited longingly, the daemon in his eyes growing in strength with every passing second.

Finally Paccu outstretched his barrel-like arms and gestured a “come hither” sign to his opponent. Without further ado, the chieftain lunged at him with an outstretched spear. Paccu cleanly parried the attack with the chop of his Ryyk machete. Howling in rage the chieftain pivoted and sent the blunt end of his spear crashing into the side of Paccu’s ribs. The blow made Paccu crescent his body but his bearlike frame contained the blow.

Paccu quickly grabbed the rear end of the spear that was jabbed into his side before his opponent could fully retract it. With the dull side of his blade, Paccu backhanded a blow onto the Menahuun’s elbow and heard it shatter with glorious effect. The creature shrieked a pitch that made Paccu retract from further attacks.

The chieftain took advantage of this and once again lunged at the dark heap of muscle. This time the creature was off balance, hindered by his limp right arm. The spear thrust was aimed downward at Paccu’s right leg. It was a slow strike and easily juked; leaving the spear tip plunged into the soft ground.

Paccu hacked at the lodged weapon and it split in two. He harnessed the same circular force of his strike back around and careened the blade into the shin of his opponent’s leg which had been outstretched supporting the earlier thrust. The slash cleanly severed through the anterior portion of the shin and sent splintered bone hailing out of its opening.

The creature was silent this time but still attacked again in frenzy. The chieftain grabbed at Paccu’s hair with his only usable arm and went again to bite the man’s face. But this time Paccu easily pivoted him off-balance. The crippled native still clung fanatically onto Paccu’s dreadlocks and wrenched his head toward the ground with the falling beast. Paccu loomed over the silent creature as it writhed about the floor trying to pull him downward.

With an upward swoop Paccu severed the chieftain’s left arm just below the shoulder. The cleaved arm still clung to its first full of dreadlocks as Paccu descended down on his maimed prey. He tossed his weapon to the side and it splashed gently in the dark blood pooling around the victim’s severed, squirming shoulder.

As he straddled the man’s heaving chest Paccu looked one last time into those soulless eyes. For a moment he felt like he had lost himself in them… Without thinking, Paccu’s hands felt their way up the Menahuun’s face. He was still lost in those eyes, those unrelenting white eyes that looked into him and yet through him to another, darker world. He felt his thumbs slowly slip over the empty vessels. And then they squeezed. They squeezed with a force that Paccu had never known he had. They delved deeper and deeper into the silent skull like wells frothing with red, gelatinous liquid. He wanted to tear the entire head asunder and cast its brains over the village for all the crazed citizens to see. But he did not. He could not… Mostly because that’s a really fucking hard thing to do.

As Paccu slowly drew his bruised body off the slain animal he saw that the crowd around him had dispersed. Only stragglers remained now and they seemed completely unenthused by the whole scene. They hung their heads and went on about their daily lives as if nothing had happened; as if they had never even known the man whose mangled body lay ashen in a pond of his own bodily fluids.

Amongst the dispersing natives were the familiar frames of team one. They appeared still very leery of the situation but now had their weapons pointed softly at the ground. A disbelieving smile crept across many of their faces as they secured a perimeter around Paccu and the still bound prisoner.

“Seems like they weren’t very impressed with your display, colonel. You would think that they were pretty keen on seeing people die beforehand.”

“—it is because you killed the hunter.” The Munn prisoner interjected weakly. “He was the one who captured me…” She sputtered for breath and spit out a clump of congealed blood. “You could tell they thought nothing of him until they saw he had me. Now he is dead, there is no strength. Their people crumble at the feet of the next warrior from a different tribe. I am yours now and I owe you my life.”

“You pretty wise, yeah? I’m sorry to say that wouldn’t be the case if we had gotten here sooner. You would not have seen these things for what they were and we’d have all much betta for dat,” Paccu whispered as he untied the crude ropes holding the girl prisoner. “Speaking of tribes, which one do you work for?”

The Muun woman looked pensively at her rescuer before answering, perhaps trying to assume what side of the galactic conflict this motley crew served. “I am an envoy of the Galactic Banking Clan on behalf of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Return me and you will be rewarded handsomely.”

“Oops, wrong answer,” whispered one of the Twi’lek marines. His joking comment was met with general laughter. However, the Muun found it less funny to suddenly realize she was probably moving from the hands of one captor to another. Her face soured in panic to what it had been atop the sacrificial pyre.

“You have nothing to fear, love. I will not see you return to the torture you just escaped. Dis is not something one person does to another but what only a creature can do. When I ask what tribe you are for, I see in your eyes that you are for the tribe of light. In the end we are the same tribe… I will see dat you are sent home. You will be treated as or flesh aboard our boat and when we part, I will wish you all the grace under the stars.”


“Muun… That starts with an M doesn’t it. Well when Pacco pronounces it, it starts with a U so that’s just how well have to spell it…”

Corusca Sector
Pantoran Senate Affairs Chamber

A freshly poured glass of fine Uyter wine stood half emptied at either figure’s end of the table. For the past hour they had been using it to chase down their hollow words of small talk.

“The longer this war progresses, the more obvious it is that the Republic will not win. When you look at the books, we simply do not have the funds to continue such a charade. The longer we draw out this conflict into a war of attrition we will surely begin to crumble from within both financially and morally. Already my planet is slipping into the poverty of a backwater colony. The power supplies cut off at night, countless goods rationed for the war effort, even the very crop yields that my people survive off of are being forcefully “sold” to the clone armies for pennies on the credit. The bacta shipments my people desperately need are constantly being rerouted in transit to Republic fleets nearby.”

Sergi sat across from Senator Riyo Chuchi in one of her private council rooms, a polished chrome table spanning the distance between them. It was a barrier that mirrored the pair’s relationship as well. The two figures were on friendly terms when it came to galas or other public venues but in the office, Sergi was just other lobbiest in a political system crawling with people wanting to be heard. He was the guest and she was the senator and everything from the guards to the seat cushions reiterated that.

“Mind you, these fleets lurking around our systems are not the “protection” we are told to hail them as; those crafts of war are magnets to their own purpose. They beckon in chaos and destruction like a beacon. And what do we gain in their wake? We move forward a meter on one front only to lose that same distance on another. It is a dance of metal and blood to the tune of our credits evaporating into thin air.” Sergi spoke with a calm fire, moving his hands to the motion of his words almost seamlessly. He had practiced his monologue beforehand and it probably showed. But there was still an air of genuineness about it, because Sergi did still truly believe everything he had said. He was careful not to sound too radical though.

“Your words are beginning to sound a lot like treason Dr. Dio.” Senator Riyo Chuchi replied with an eyebrow slightly raised in an air of accusation.

“Far from it I should think. I am a true patriot; one who will not risk the institution of the Republic on a vapid dream that we can win this war without dialog between us and the Confederates. As I have said, financially this war will ruin us. Hundreds of systems have removed themselves from our sinking vessel and declared neutrality because they see this too. If we continue to wage this war we will destroy ourselves from within and we will have fought for nothing!”

“You would disgrace the sacrifices of countless millions who have fought for this cause!?” Senator Riyo Chuchi appeared genuinely upset now. Her body was raised slightly out of her seat as her pristine blue fingers perched onto the top of the table.

“I would honor them by making something of their sacrifice before the dream that they strove for becomes thin air! We must broker for peace between our factions now before the pendulum of attrition switches into the Confederates favor. They are blind fanatics because they feel they are fighting for their own freedom; a freedom from the bureaucracy and centralization of a government which for centuries has paid them no attention. We must reason with them as equals now, perhaps negotiate and improve our senate before countless more are needlessly slaughtered.” Sergi gently stood up from his seat and strode over towards the senator. The guards were a put slightly on edge by this gesture given its seemingly Separatist context.

“…This war is not white and black.” Sergi gently said looking placidly at the beautiful, young senator. He sat down casually on the side of the table mere feet away from the senator. “Scholars will argue for ages on who started it, but the truth is that the Republic started it when we politically alienated the needs of the Outer Rim; the needs of so many systems capable of understanding and governing themselves far better than a council in Coruscant. But what is worse, we have continued to defame our values as this war has dragged on. When the Republic occupies a planet we treat their people no better than the CIS. While we search house by house and capture without warrant we create a terrorist for every one we destroy. We are not liberators. We are harbingers of martial law and the promise that war will come to their people’s doorstep. A war that these people did not choose, that they do not fight for, and that they cannot hope to escape.”

Sergi’s eyes remained locked into those of the Pantoran senator. He gazed into the pools of iridescent gold looking for some semblance of empathy in them. Without looking away, he calmly grabbed one of the ornamental fruits placed in the middle of the table. It was a strange blue sphere with purple dots and a leathery bloom at the top. The fruit was a native of the senator’s home world. Very rare, very tasty. Sergi expertly began peeling the alien food in a way that only someone who had been to its home world would know how.

“I assure you, Pantora will be next, as will Uryter, as will every planet in the Mid Rim. We will be caught in the ebb and flow of destruction. Our people will burn in the invasions of the CIS and their still smoldering ashes will be spread by the boots of the Republic when they reoccupy. Your constituency will become dust in the wind—that is if you remain a senator to see it. These Core-world militants will take any excuse to depose a senator of an occupied system. The screams of your people will no-longer be heard in the senate. The forum’s numbers will grow smaller and smaller, ever more centralized and ever more disassociated with the suffering on the fronts it wages its crusade. The Republic is not what it once was and if we do not change our course I fear it will never hope to be the same again.”

With his last word Sergi took a bite of the small piece of fruit, playfully raising his eyebrows as he did so. It had peeled cleanly into two separate halves and the other portion lied in Sergi’s outstretched hand as an offering to the young senator. A slight smile crept across her face that betrayed her coy amusement. The senator gingerly took the piece of fruit from Sergi’s hand and he felt it, the slight touch of one of her fingers brushing up against his. To anyone else it would have been nothing but to him it was the greatest achievement of the night.

“I will take your words under consideration, Dr. Dio.” She said with a renewed poise. The senator stood up as a clear sign that it was time for Sergi to retire. He too gracefully took to his feet and bowed toward the senator respectfully.

“That is all I ask, milady. Do keep the wine. I hope you enjoyed it. However if your saabac face is better than I could detect, feel free to throw it out. I am afraid that the journey from Uryter did bland it a bit. I fear I do not have the connections my aunt does in that department. If you ever do wish to visit the senator I will put in a word for the best bottle I can find. I assure you though, if you ever visit Uryter a fresh brew will truly sweep you off your feet. Senator Dio would welcome your company any time, as would I.”


As Sergi smoothly exited the Pantoran senator’s office he was followed at heel by his bodyguard. She was an attractive woman but in a way that had to grow on you first like the taste of a strong whiskey. It was if she had all the basic requirements for being pretty but they didn’t all add up. Perhaps it was how her complexion was slightly dimpled from various childhood diseases, or how she held herself like she was constantly ready for a fight. Perhaps the final blow to this flower that never fully bloomed was her cybernetic eye. It was of fine quality, sure, but it was just a sad reminder that this girl had to fight for everything she was and everything she had.

“I don’t think she fell for it,” the bodyguard said still matching Sergi’s brisk stride. “I’d dare say it would be hard for anyone to see you walk in there with your fine robes and say that anything in life was hard for you.” Sergi stopped in his tracks and looked down agitatedly at the short young woman. She quickly continued before he could rebuttal. “Not that that’s a bad thing. A person dressed like a refugee would never have even gotten an audience in the senator’s office.” Sergi reassumed his walk, allowing the bodyguard to speak her mind despite the reluctance smeared across his face. “Perhaps you would have better luck wooing her out in the field, covered in mud and gore. Get your hands dirty together and bond over actually doing something, actually seeing hardship. Your heart is in the right place but she needs to see you’re not just another smooth talking conman.”

Sergi prayed that someone else would walk by and interrupt the meanderings of this woman. She was beginning to sound like his aunt. But alas, the pair were chronically alone as they strode through the sunlit corridors of the senate building. It was dusk now and the smog of Courescant dashed every hue of orange and red across the halls like water colors. The pair walked in quiet sync for a while before the bodyguard could not handle the silence anymore and piped up playfully.

“You know, you and Senator Chuchi would make a smart match. She’s as high born as they come and a smart girl at that. I think she’s quite nice myself. A bit shy, but a politician that can actually hold their tongue is a maverick in her own right. I like the way she smiles at people, like she knows they’re ugly and yet she loves them in spite of themselves. She’s genuine. And I bet shed make some genuinely cute kids too—“

“And how do you suppose I do that, Sophia? Show up at her door with flowers? ‘Oh hello senator, I’m that guy you talked to once. I’m here to marry and fertilize you.’ I’ll just give her a big genuine smile and she with genuinely disrobe and present me a ring finger.” Sergi’s words were frustrated, much more so than he should have liked. He immediately regretted their tone. In an attempt to lighten the obviously hurt mood he continued to play along much warmer. “Don’t pretend like you could give me advice on how to woo her. I would imagine your ideal date be competing in a bench-press competition with gundarks.” His quip was met with a warm smile. Sergi patted his hand gently on the nape of her neck. At times she felt like a little sister to him. Sophia always managed to be completely on his side. She had his best interest at heart even when they weren’t on his heart.

As the two approached his chamber, the doors slid open with a hiss. This immediately threw up warning signs to Sophia, the bodyguard, as Sergi’s chambers should have been locked. Someone or something must have deactivated them. Before Sergi could move another step, the stalky girl crossed her body in front of his with her weapon trained on whoever was in the room. It was a single figure standing coolly, arms crossed as she looked out at the sunset which now faded into the bleakest of purple shades. The silhouette turned slowly to look at Sergi and his human shield. The pale lavender light clearly shone on half of the woman’s face. It was Sergi’s right-hand, Kayleigh Walsh.

It was an awkward amount of time before anyone moved. Sophia still had her weapon trained on Kayleigh and for a moment Sergi suspected she was half-likely to pull the trigger. Sophia hated Kayleigh, Kayleigh hated Sophia, and Sergi was a dangling toy in a cat fight. He quickly went for the lights. As they illuminated the room he could feel the drama of the situation subsiding.

“I assume talks went well?” Said the once shadowy figure. In the broad light her beauty was very clear. She was a woman of presence. Everything from her stance to the way she delivered her words was brimming with a composed confidence. This confident posture was even more the case with Sophia in the room as Kayleigh attempted to drown her in an alpha-female aura. Sergi pretended not to notice in an attempt to cope with the tension in the room. He turned to Sophia whose gaze was still locked on Kayleigh and whose hand remained perched on her now holstered blaster. Sergi gently took the back of her neck and pulled her into his peck on her forehead. He mouthed the words “thank you” but they had no voice to carry. He knew Sophia’s dislike for Kayleigh and their “unprofessional and unbecoming” relationship and in that moment he was slightly embarrassed by it. It was he knew this woman was a dangerous addiction but chose to keep rolling the dice. Sophia shot him a disappointed look before walking off down the hall with a furious pace. The chamber doors hissed closed behind her, leaving Sergi’s hand still hovering where it had been on her neck.

“In the game of politics, talking is quite irrelevant; perhaps the most irrelevant thing a senator can do.” Sergi spoke his words with slight hint of annoyance as he rounded on brunette. “It is perhaps the only thing more irrelevant than actions of senators. What matters from that naïve young girl is her vote. I dare say we don’t have it yet, but soon she may see our side of things…”

Sergi realized he was being all too serious. It had been a long day and he knew taking it out on Kayleigh would only make matters much worse. His previous statement of hollow political platitudes was sure to have pissed her off already. He knew this to be the case from the look she gave him. He smiled to himself, sadistically amused by the annoyance he had aroused. He kept his eyes and smirk aimed at the ground as he strode into the room and poured two glasses of wine. The glare he knew he was receiving the whole way only fueled his childlike giddiness. “I mean, why would she not..” sip ”see my side of things that is. How do you say no to these eyes?” Sergi shot the smoothest smolder he could muster. It was devastatingly pathetic.

“It’s easier than you think.”

“Perhaps for the grizzled warrior, all primp and proper in her cute little uniform.” Sergi, smiling ear to ear, grabbed Kayleigh’s blue uniform beret as he walked over towards the couches. He tossed the headgear onto the couch opposite him as a gesture for her to join him. She reluctantly followed him to the lounge.

“Excuse me, this is the uniform of a Senate Security Officer, the proudest tradition in the galaxy.” The comment was blatant sarcasm. She rather hated the senate guards with all their pomp and circumstance. The only reason she wore the blasted thing was to get around easier in the senate complex.

“Well you have done an excellent and noble day’s work. I hereby relieve you of duty for the night!” mocked Sergi as he gave the girl a fake salute. He then handed her a brimming glass of wine, careful not to wiggle it an inch lest some spill. The two exchanged a smile before Sergi threw himself onto the couch behind him. He sunk deep into its overstuffed cushioning one foot propped on the table before him. He spilled more than a dribble of wine as he did so but exhaustion clung to him too hard to show any sign of notice.

“Excellent! Then you can stop talking to me like I’m a droid and tell me how the negotiations really went.” Quiped Kayleigh.

Sergi threw his head back and moaned. As he careened it back to answer her statement he was taken aback by how gorgeous she looked. She had cuddled herself onto the opposite couch with her legs tucked up under her, a half empty wineglass in hand. Sergi rarely ever got to see her look like a true girl. This was a rare moment she was not covered in armor and dirt. She was just a young beautiful woman completely relaxed in all the comforts of privileged life. Her smile was so uncommonly polished as well; its lips weren’t cut from a “lucky hit” nor dried and withered from days without water. They didn’t even have their characteristic burden of sadness tucked behind the corners of her cheeks from months of deployment. It was as if every time he took her off the front lines she underwent a chrysalis and became the last thing he wanted to send into harm’s way.

Sergi caught himself before his mind wandered farther. “I told you,” he spoke with a fake haughtiness,”I seduced her-“

“Shut up.” Kayleigh interjected, her eyes rolling clean into the back of her head.

“-no I'm serious. A Pantoran girl like her is use to her only options being walking carpets like the Talz. She was just blatantly objectifying me—I felt like an animal in there!”

“I’m sure she gets her fill of attractive senators. I know I saw a pretty cute one pass me in the hall a few minutes ago. Shew, if only I could land a senator; a bonafide Representative even… But maybe it’s different when you’re the senator though. Maybe you play down to men of lower rank who have to make backroom deals. Maybe its cute.” She spoke with a vicious smile, knowing her words would take their mark.

Sergi was playfully upset but the pair both knew it to be somewhat genuine. He took the offensive. Placing his foot up on the table in his best captain stance, Sergi reached down and grabbed one of the scattered holo-mags. “Oh, what’s this?” He said with a rhetorical air. “Who is that stunning figure on the cover there?.. The galaxy’s most eligible bachelors, more on page… seven-” Kayleigh snatched the mag from him and gave a slightly conceding smile.

“I don’t know what’s more embarrassing, the fact that you have one of these in your chambers or that you paid someone to put your face in this tabloid. Were you attempting to secure the vote of a pre-teen girl? I didn’t think that the Lantilian sector allowed that age group a say in galactic maters, or even the ability to determine what a desirable man is made of.” She shook her head as she flipped though page after page of he-said she-said garbage on the way to the article in question.

“The funny thing is that I didn’t even pay them. In fact, they’re paying me tomorrow for a prime time interview.”

By now Kayleigh was on his page and scouring it inches from her nose. “I find it odd then that they got ahold of this picture of you working in a ‘destitute village on Ryloth’ without some intervention by you and a fair bit of photo-editing software to boot.” She quoted the tabloids words with a coy gag. The picture was one of him tenderly holding a withered Twi’lek child on one of his infamous humanitarian ventures. In this picture in particular, the sun sat perfectly in eyes and gave his natural tan a highly artificial glow. The next page was a full centerfold of singer-song writer ‘Erik’ shirtless with brimming abs lying sprawled on a beach. He was a suspected force user due to his ability to drop panties out of seemingly thin air. “Bahaha. You could have at least taken off your shirt like this nerf-herder. The man even died ages ago from a spice over-dose.”

“And that is exactly why I refrain from competing with such specimens. He has his abs, I have my ability to save children and support a family on realistic moral values. Don’t be fooled by my good looks and massive amounts of money, I’m actually quite a nice guy. Probably the best around-“

“Oh gag!” Bellowed Kayleigh. She got up from her seat and began to walk away.

Sergi quickly jumped full onto the table, chest puffed out like a gundark. “As Chancellor Sergi I decree that gaging shall have no place under my rule!”

Kayleigh shot her signature a glare over her shoulder. She had a half-wicked half-playful smile on. “You’re making a Separatist out of me every second, you’re high-ness.

Kayleigh lunged at Sergi playfully knocking him off the table and into the couch.

“An assault on the crown!” Sergi howled amidst laughter. Kayleigh effortlessly flipped down her hair and a waterfall of brunette locks swam over her shoulders. She began throwing muffled punches at the playfully cowering boy.

“Oh, are you a king now!?” She giggled as he began to mockingly wince at every blow.

“I am the king of the galaxy!” Sergi managed to cry between swings from the girl who had him in a full guard mount.

Sergi grabbed out at both of her forearms. She allowed his pathetic counter to take hold and the couple still in the moment. Sergi pulled in on Kayleigh’s firmly grasped arms and her hair dangled about his face. It smelled like fresh mint strawberry. For a second Sergi was lost in its aroma. The scent made his hands loosen their hold. He could feel her body dropping closer onto his.

“I am the greatest king there ever was.” Sergi whispered to her, their faces inches apart. Suddenly his eyes widened with a fiery glare. He tossed her body over in a pivot move she herself had taught him. It was sloppy but Kayleigh allowed it to happen and giggled all the way to the floor. Sergi now was perched over her at half-guard, her muscular legs wrapped tightly around his waist. He pinned her out stretched arms onto the floor. Her hair cascaded over the ground like warm chocolate, eyes like emeralds, her perfect smile welcoming him in.

“And as a king I must punish my traitors…”

Lantillian Sector
The Estate

Rain lashed against Glaxtus Vile's hardened face. The torrent of water traced his many scars and waterfalled off his soaked auburn beard. He and a handful of equally barbaric commandos strode behind across the open landing pad. They had arrived from a long, cramped journey aboard the shuttle perched behind them on the cliff-like airfield. To the team's right they could see the night-time glow of a small, quiet city many thousand feet below their position. The small village was called Lilly town and it had become the infamous retreat of troops stationed to the Estate. It was what made this posting a dream job: good beds, great food, and unforgettable women.

As Glaxtus and his men approached one of the Estate's many gleaming walls, he was met by a small armored vehicle screaming towards his position. The wheeled vehicle took a sharp turn in front of the team and drifted drastically on the waterlogged surface. Before the vehicle had even stopped a man strode out of the passenger's side with a synthetic cool. Glaxtus chortled to himself at the unprofessional display. Most of the security were just trigger-happy firemen and first responders who saw more action responding to local medical emergencies and hover-craft wrecks in the small underlying town than any combat. Unprofessional at best and country dumbasses by default.

"Top of the evening to you, Master Sergeant. I'm Lieutenant Dan." The overweight security officer gave a half-assed salute that seamlessly turned into an out-stretched hand prompting to be shook. Glaxtus Simply nodded and grasped the hand in front of him. His gruff features towered over the officer's with his gargantuan chest at level with the pudgy man’s nose. Glaxtus allowed his presence to loom without a word spoken.

"Fine Uyter weather we're having today ain't it?" the officer finally quibbled, gesturing an open palm to the monsoon rain. There was no response but the man played off the awkwardness well and patted Glaxtus on the back like the father of a dim-witted child. "Y'all go ahead and jump in the back," the officer said now gesturing at the micro-APC. "It's another mile till you'll be inside the Estate and that just ain't worth it with the sky pissin like this."

"We'll walk." Glaxtus replied.

And walk they did, but before doing so the 11 commandos hoisted the entire light armored car onto their shoulders like a casket. The driver of the vehicle soon leaped out in disbelief and quickly scurried to the side of his lieutenant who was equally shocked by the unorthodox display. “Now I say, I’m mighty impressed with this little charade—mighty impressed. But as I said, it’s a mean 2 miles yonder to where I was going to park that. None the less, I admire—“

“Fuck what you admire. Just keep up.” Blasted Glaxtus as he and his team of oversized brutes began trotting forward at pace with their hefty cargo. Soon all that could be heard above the galling winds was the deep cadences of the team as they strode off toward Sergi’s crown jewel, the Estate.

When the team finally arrived at their destination exhaustion was a thread weaved into every movement of their bodies. Many of the men lounged themselves onto the ornate ivory walls that surrounded the Estates entrance. As they unsealed their distinctive mandalorian helmets, their exposed skulls steamed with the onset of the still pouring rain. However on each of the men’s faces were the distinct markings of a smile. They quietly exchanged fist-bumps and “oorahs” to each other as they waited for the officer sent to greet them to finally catch up.

The hulking mass of Glaxtus was among these small exchanges. The grizzled figure finally came up to his sergeant, a similarly immense zabrak, and playfully grabbed the back of his neck. “Vikus, I felt something dragging us back. I knew it must have been your sorry ass.” He prodded playfully, giving his old friend a hard smack on the chest as he did so.

“I guess I was too busy thinking of all the deflowering I’m going to do in Lilly town when I get the chance.” The zebrak spoke with a vicious smile; half-joking, half beyond serious.

“You think I’m going to let you dogs get a chance? You start spreading your seed in this galaxy and were all fucked.” Glaxtus’s joking was interrupted by the feint sound of panting over his shoulder. The officer who had met them stood doubled over, with his hands on his knees just behind the pair. Glaxtus turned to the man and again loomed his presence over him like a disappointed father.

“A fine… display… gentlemen,” the officer blubbered between gasps. “Quite a fine display. Now what say we all sit down in the great hall for some chow; peel out of these clothes too while we’re at it?”

“Sorry lieutenant. We’re on direct orders from General Karns to report to the training deck immediately upon arrival.”

“Ahh, well if you insist. I assume my services end here if you are capable of seeing yourself to the facility… I’ll just take my vehicle back, which I assume you lot have not yet broken. Alas a fine rib-eye awaits. I bid you adieu gentlemen.”

“Sorry sir, that’s coming with us as well. General Karns informed us a man he referred to as a ‘fat fuck’ would be delivering us a light armored car for our use within the training deck.” Glaxtus casually gestured to his men to start boarding the vehicle before returning his emotionless gaze onto the security officer.

The lieutenant was almost too appalled by the crass remark to even reply; however, he managed to do so in a sputtering, disgruntled manner. “I…I… seem to recall that you are practicing VBSS. How exactly does one use a vehicle to interdict a space vessel?”

“We intend to find out.”

“Well I don’t intend to let you.”

“Generals orders sir. We were told to disregard any superior officers acting like a ‘toydarian bitch’ as well.. General’s orders.”

As the lieutenant stood dumbfounded, Glaxtus simply gave him a curt head nod and turned to the armored car now bejeweled by commandos hanging off of every hard point. The heavily armored commando quickly hopped a seat onto the rear fender next to his sergeant who gave the hull a double thump to signal it was clear to go. Even as the vehicle began to speed away, the same slack-jawed expression was becoming stale on the lieutenant’s face. As they sped off into the fog of the rain Glaxtus coolly shot the officer a last gesture with his middle finger before they disappeared from sight.

“You’re a lunatic.” The zebrak sergeant muttered between disbelieving laughter.

“Well at least there’s a slim chance of any of us getting leave while were here. Maybe I’ll spare the female race of you yet.”

Finally slugged my way though the complex rules and I'm sure there will be lots of lovely little miscalculations along the way. In spite of Gat's views on the matter, I tried to keep the Shuttles/strike craft easily labeled and cost-listed. :P I figure I can fluff them with names etc. once you chaps have torn my work to shreds as usual. Cheers mates.

Sergi Dio: The left-winged political ladder-climber.
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