This is an experimental character sheet, testing a new format for possible implementation.
Jaren Jast, Captain of the Jackdaw
Name: Jaren Jast Occupation: Free Trader, Independent Contractor & Captain of the Jackdaw Species: Human Homeworld: Corellia Age: 35
Physical Jaren Jast stands at a hair over six feet in height and keeps in excellent shape, a habit he picked up during his military career and has carried with him into his post-war life. His athleticism has been exceptionally valuable across his highly varied occupational activities, which have left him with a number of scars from blade and blaster alike. He has further marked his body up with a few tattoos, some examples being a crossed vibroknife and blaster that was the symbol of his Republic Army company, and a Besadii clan symbol on his left forearm.
He sports mid-length, dirty blonde hair which he keeps swept to the side and back with the assistance of a bit of hair product, and a five o’clock shadow that frequently threatens to turn into a full, scraggly beard. He could stand to shave more often.
He dresses casually, mixing sleek Core World fashion with Outer Rim flair, typically wearing light armorweave, an oxblood leather jacket he marks among his favorite pieces of apparel, and slick matte leather boots. At his hip, he holsters a heavy blaster pistol, black and bulky but sophisticatedly patterned with gold trim and an ivory grip.
Psychological Jaren Jast is a product of his time and his experiences. He spent ten years as a soldier fighting the most devastating conflict the galaxy has ever seen, first on the battlefield, and then behind enemy lines as a special forces operator. Cool, collected, and exceptionally efficient, Jaren was selected to take on a special forces role not only for his combat effectiveness and performance in the field, but for his capacity for ruthless efficacy in the prosecution of the war on the Sith Empire. He is disciplined, driven, and exceptionally strong willed in the pursuit of his objectives.
All the same, Jaren is likeable. He’s charismatic, even charming in a pinch, armed with roguish wit and a quick tongue that makes friends and acquaintances come easy. He’s daring, sometimes heroic, and possessed of a moral character and strong belief in those rights and freedoms enshrined in the Republic’s constitution that often puts him at philosophical odds with his seedier cast of clients and associates. Ultimately, he thinks of himself as a good person, but he’s never hesitated to draw his weapon when the situation calls for it, and he doesn’t shy away from the ugliest aspects of his work. Even in the tenuous peace established by the Treaty of Coruscant, the times and his experiences have left Jaren with a capacity for a violence that seems at odds with his personality.
Skills & Talents
Marksmanship [Advanced] – Jast has over two decades’ worth of experience handling blasters in all shapes and sizes, with a considerable amount of that experience coming in the form of military training and combat. A talented shot to begin with, years of practice with blaster rifles, carbines, and pistols has made him nothing short of deadly with all of them. Since the end of the war, his time working the Outer Rim as a gunslinger has made him well-practiced with lighter armament than the Republic Army’s standard, and he’s a masterful quick-draw artist. Rare is the opponent who can outduel Jast in a gunslinging shootout.
Warfare [Advanced] – Jast’s years of military experience has made him a skilled tactician on the battlefield. Cool and collected in the face of armed opposition, Jast has more than the experience and training necessary to lead a fireteam into battle and neutralize enemy combatants.
Close Quarters Combat [Advanced] – Rounding out his military skills is his intimate familiarity with the use of a vibroknife. While no master of Teras Kasi, Jast excels in quarters combat, armed or otherwise.
Intelligence [Intermediate] – A great deal of Jast’s work at the end of the war, through his time with the SIS, and into his adventures in the Outer Rim has revolved around the gathering of intelligence. Whether the job entailed debriefing an Imperial defector, interrogating a prisoner, or plying a confidante for more information than he’s willing to divulge, Jast is a dab enough hand at it all. Working as a less-than-licensed bounty hunter, enforcer, smuggler, and private intelligence operator has only made him sharper on this front.
Gunnery [Intermediate] – Jast is competent in the use of stationary weapons emplacements, particularly those laser turrets on the Jackdaw. While not a focus of his military career, the use of these weapons has been vital to his operations on the Outer Rim, and with his pilot, Telsa Jetstar, at the helm of the Jackdaw, Jast defaults to a gunnery position when it comes to ship-to-ship combat.
Demolitions [Intermediate] – Over the course of the war, Jast made enough use of explosives, be they grenades or plastics, that he has a decent enough understanding of their usage today. It’s not a skill that comes up frequently, but when it does, he knows how to direct a blast radius.
Piloting [Basic] – Before Telsa, Jast had to pilot the Jackdaw himself. Not much of a pilot, virtual sims and trial and error have made him decent enough at the helm of the freighter to fly it out of port and get himself out of a sticky situation from time to time. Outside of flying the Jackdaw and the standard swoop or landspeeder, though, he’s not much of a driver or pilot and can’t be expected to perform any fancy maneuvers in the field.
Mechanics [Basic] – Jast has a basic understanding of how to keep machines operating and is able to lend a competent hand when it comes to the maintenance of his ship.
Slicing [Basic] – Jast has a basic understanding of slicing, and with the right tools can get himself into a computer system. Without a good data breaker though, he’s not good for much on this end, and he’s certainly no replacement for a competent tech.
Obligations, Flaws & Weaknesses
Any Port in a Storm - Jaren Jast is an independent free trader without allegiances to any government, Republic or otherwise, beyond his status as a citizen. This lack of loyalty, however, runs both ways. While his independence affords him a great deal of freedom, his ability to fall back on a support network is never a sure thing, and he must take what opportunities he can get to purchase safe harbor in times of danger, or even just to resupply his ship and crew. Only through cultivating and maintaining his connections is he able to do this, which can mean trading favors he'd rather not trade, and associating with figures with whom he'd rather not associate. In blazing their own trail across the galaxy, Jast and his crew have to work with what they have.
Strength in Numbers - By any measure, Jaren Jast is a skilled special forces operator and a talented intelligence agent, and together these make him a valuable commodity in the mercenary business. However, the Jackdaw's operations involve much more than shooting blasters and tracking marks. Jast doesn't have the technical acumen to keep the keep the Jackdaw flying, the medical expertise to patch up injured crew, or the piloting experience to helm the Jackdaw at a level of expertise that warrants his fees. Without his ship or key members of his crew, Jast's operation falls apart, and he's little more than a particularly talented cartel enforcer on the Rim.
The Long Arm of the Empire - The Nar Shaddaa job was a disaster, no two ways about. A valuable Imperial scientist ready and willing to defect to the Republic with priceless information was assassinated, one of Jast's crew was gunned down in an alley, and the team was forced to split up in retreat. This fiasco culminated in the massacre of nearly a hundred passengers aboard a passenger freighter over Tatooine. This was all done on the orders of Cipher 12. This cipher agent, a counterintelligence specialist, is an exceptional intelligence offer whose mission directive is to root out and destroy the Strategic Intelligence Service's newly discovered connection to the Hutts. Jast is squarely in his sights, and Operation Blackwatch, Cipher 12's task force dedicated to identifying the Jackdaw and eliminating her crew, just might have the resources to do it.
One Man's Interest Payment is Another Man's Free Cash Flow - The Jackdaw may very well be the fastest and most powerful XS stock light freighter in the galaxy. Incredibly fast, exceptionally nimble, capable of changing its transponder signal on a whim, and armed and armored with milspec modifications, Jast has the good fortune to fly this powerful machine in the course of his operations. It also happened to cost a good fortune. interested in outfitting an elite team of criminal operators, Salvadda the Artful and a few similarly powerful crime lords on Nar Shaddaa provided the financing for the vessel's purchase and extensive modifications, and Jast owes them a sizable debt to be paid in credits, favors and blood.
Associates & Adversaries
Associates Telsa Jetstar – Jaren’s closest friend and second in command. Telsa was a highly decorated ace fighter pilot with the Republic Navy during the war and retired from military service shortly after the Treaty of Coruscant. Jaren recruited Telsa for his crew by poaching her from Coronet Analytica; Jaren’s brother had her shortlisted as a strong prospective agent for the private intelligence organization. Visual Reference.
Valbra Syndulla – Jaren’s long-suffering engineer, Valbra Syndulla is the chief technician aboard Jaren’s ship. Between Telsa’s exceptionally high performance requirements and Jaren’s insistence on turning the machine into as flexible a base of operations as possible, by all rights the vessel should have a skilled engineering crew to tend to its maintenance. Unfortunately for Val, she’s the only one they’ve got. She is exceptionally skilled, however, and manages to keep the thing flying. Definitely a full-time job, though. Visual Reference.
Boqorro Enbara – Contrary to popular belief, Hutt Space and Nar Shaddaa do, in fact, have laws and criminals. Boqorro Enbara, the imposing six-foot-six gunman who serves as the crew’s muscle, was once a prosecutor on Nar Shaddaa. A tragic turn of events borne out of prosecuting the wrong criminal led Boqorro to the underworld, where he was swallowed up by the criminal underbelly of the Smuggler’s Moon. A decade later, by then a skilled and ruthless hitman for the Besadii Cartel, he sought to right his course, and found an opportunity to escape the Hutts and find redemption as a member of Jaren’s crew. Visual Reference.
Jacen Jast – Jaren’s brother, Jacen, is also a veteran of the Great War and now works as a director with Coronet Analytica, a Corellian private intelligence firm. Jacen is Jaren’s primary avenue of support, as part of Jaren’s compensation for his work with Coronet Analytica is the provisioning of his ship and crew with supplies. Jacen is a well-connected and powerful figure in the intelligence community, and has deep connections with the Strategic Intelligence Service, his largest client.
Salvadda the Artful – Jaren Jast’s extralegal operations in Hutt territory have allowed him to develop connections and relationships with contacts in the heart of the galaxy’s underworld. One such contact is Salvadda Besadii Vizago, better known as Salvadda the Artful, a Hutt crime lord who makes his home and base of power in Sector-City 47 on Nar Shaddaa. Salvadda is a crafty and cunning Hutt, and these traits, together with his status as criminal royalty, has made him a powerful player in Hutt Space. Salvadda is one of Jaren’s biggest clients, and the crew of the Jackdaw often finds themselves carrying out operations on behalf of the Hutt’s arm of the Besadii kajidic.
Drango – Drango is a Rodian fixer for the House of Samur-Tong, one of the premier houses of the Bounty Hunters Guild. Jaren is not a licensed bounty hunter, and does not carry out sanctioned contracts on behalf of Samur-Tong, but Drango does have work for the crew of the Jackdaw from time to time, and has proved a useful asset to Jaren and his associates in the past.
Adversaries Cipher 12 – Jaren’s primary foil is one of his own making. While on a job for Coronet Analytica and the SIS, Jaren and his crew made a few critical mistakes covering their track and trusted the wrong people, and as a result the Empire has caught wind of his status as a Republic affiliate. Though the Empire has yet to discover his identity, counterintelligence specialist Cipher 12, an agent for the Ministry of Intelligence, has been assigned to investigate the job and has poured a great deal of effort and resources into hunting the crew of the Jackdaw. To this effect, he is assisted by Deklen Ordo.
Deklen Ordo – A Mandalorian mercenary with deep professional loyalty to his chief client, the Sith Empire and the Ministry of Intelligence, Deklen Ordo has faced down Jaren and his team on more than one occasion. In the depths of the Nar Shaddaa undercity, Deklen and the crew of the Jackdaw traded blaster fire and the Mandalorian foiled the mission by killing the target of Jaren’s operation, as well as one of Jaren’s crew to boot. The crew’s escape from Nar Shaddaa and Cipher-12’s agents culminated in a pitched gun battle aboard a passenger freighter over Tatooine, where Jaren only narrowly evaded the Mandalorian’s grasp. Incredibly dangerous and twice defied already, Deklen is hellbent on tracking down and eliminating Jast and his operation.
Assets & Equipment
The Jackdaw – Jast’s personal ship is a heavily modified XS Stock Light Freighter. With the assistance of his brother, Jacen, and the financing of some powerful and disreputable types out of Nar Shaddaa, the Jackdaw has been transformed from a standard all-purpose hauler to a nimble smuggling vessel. Telsa Jetstar, veteran interceptor pilot, demanded the best performance out of the vessel possible, and Jast obliged as best he could.
The Jackdaw is one of the fastest and most agile ships of its class to be found, and sports firepower beyond that of a standard armed freighter. In addition to the twin laser turrets and forward mounted cannons, the Jackdaw is equipped with a missile launcher capable of being fit with a variety of warheads. The Jackdaw most frequently carries a payload of cluster headed ion missiles capable of penetrating standard point defense measures and disabling smaller vessels.
The primary drawback of this impressive vessel is its exorbitant cost, both in terms of the debt incurred putting it together in the first place and the maintenance, fuel and resupply expenses involved in keeping it flying. It's also more than a little memorable, to those paying attention, as Jast and his crew have discovered with their intersections with Cipher 12 and his agents. All said, though, it keeps the crew alive, and that's something.
Arms & Armament – Jast’s heavy blaster pistol is only one of the tools of the trade he keeps handy. Jast has a collection of firearms that includes a variety of blaster pistols, a few carbines, and a pair of rifles. He also keeps a small complement of explosives, just in case. For personal protection, Jast has a respectable selection of armorweave to choose from, allowing him to adapt based on the needs of a given job, and for particularly dangerous operations he keeps a suit of ablative battle armor. It’s nothing to so heavy as the trooper armor he wore during the war, but it’s sufficient to protect him on the Jackdaw’s most dangerous operations.
Jast frequently wonders how his life would have been different if he had been born twenty years earlier. As it were, though, he was born at the dawn of the Galactic War, which made all the difference to a man who joined the Republic Army as soon as he came of age.
Jast attended an accelerated training program at the Republic Defense Academy on Carida, where he immediately excelled. Funny, likeable, competent, and a team-oriented soldier, he made many friends at the Academy. Most of them were dead not too long after they deployed a year later. Jast spent the next few years wondering when he’d be the next to go, but he was good enough to keep from making fatal mistakes, and too lucky to die when his fate was out of his hands. The flak never caught his gunship, the orbital fire never targeted his position, the grenades were always a few meters or more away, and the guy next to him caught a blaster bolt more often than he could count.
The brutality ground down on him over time. As the war dragged on into its later years, Jast had become effective, efficient, and ruthless. His aptitude on the field, and his relationship with his brother at the SIS, made him a shortlisted pick for recruitment into the special activities arm of Republic Military Command. He was brought on to a force reconnaissance company, and the work of prosecuting the Great War only got worse, from his perspective. Shooting an enemy, that he could get used to. Slipping a vibroknife into the joint between the helmet and chest plating of a Sith trooper, well, he could get good at it, but never comfortable with it. There was a stark difference between metaphorical and literal blood on his hands, as far as he could reason.
And then the war ended. Coruscant had been devastated and a treaty had been signed, and Jast’s team packed up and went home, rocketing offworld from a forsaken swamp planet that had been heavily contested for no good reason and which had now been shunted off to the Empire’s swath of conquered territory for even less. In the time between the signing of the treaty and the communications reaching his command, he’d killed two people. Not even Sith troopers, local militia armed with crude rocket propelled ordinance, press ganged into the war, that he’d lined up with the scout rifle and put bolts through. Just because the holocomm hadn’t come through quick enough.
He came back to the Republic having killed a lot of people and having lost a lot of friends because, as far as he could tell, Coruscant had finally experienced the war. His transition to the post-war period was not graceful, to say the least.
He transitioned to the SIS with a plan to cut his teeth on intelligence work with the agency before moving to the private sector, where his brother, Jacen, was now an established leader with private intelligence firm Coronet Analytica. The work consisted of interrogations, debriefings, support for covert and clandestine activity across former Republic worlds now under Imperial control, among other tasks. It wasn’t enough for him, and sure enough, when an opportunity arose, he took it.
Three years into his career with the SIS, he led his first operation to Nar Shaddaa, Sector-City 47, where he would meet Salvadda the Artful, a Besadii kajidic clansmember and leader of a small but powerful cartel. The objective was to secure a supply line to the Corsin Resistance, the fledgling but fervent rebel movement in the now-Imperial controlled Corsin System. As he courted Salvadda’s assistance in establishing this connection, he gradually came to realize that he himself was being courted. In not so many words, Salvadda conveyed an understanding of Jast that few—even himself—had. Jast was a talented, intelligent, and exceptionally driven person who relished in the opportunity to tackle the most challenging, dangerous tasks and emerge successful.
A person like that, it was suggested, would be very valuable to a person like Salvadda the Artful. And that was all it took for Jast to leave the SIS, and the Republic, behind him.
Over time, and with the assistance of his connections, he acquired the Jackdaw and a crew, and began cultivating a long list of clients interested in hiring an exceptionally skilled mercenary. Today, Jast’s brand of client service runs the gamut from security services to smuggling to actual intelligence operations, whether for criminal syndicates or the Republic itself through the SIS’s shadowy backchannels.
Name: Ethain Leto Species: Human Unit: Alliance Intelligence attaché to the 6th Special Personal Security Detail Location: [•] Synopsis of Role: Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Countersurveillance officer with years of experience with local planetary government intelligence agencies.
MARSPEC Company 3-Gamma executed the insertion through a 0-dark hundred local Axehead drop. The ship cut thrust at two hundred klicks above sea level and glided to the surface of the Kourshad Gulf on silent, sensor-friendly repulsors. At fifteen meters above the frothing blue-green sea, jet black in the alien darkness, the boarding ramps were lowered and the skimmers were dropped. Each watercraft touched down smoothly, the swept wings cutting into the waves and the repulsors driving them forward.
Apex Team took point, followed by Callagher and Blackrock, Condor, and then Nomad at the rear. The skimmers were dead silent and low sensor-profile vehicles, and they slipped past the lightly defended coastline with ease. Callagher and his team, their rifle’s optics projecting high fidelity night-vision images of their firing arcs, drew beads on the occasional Nosaurian on the beach, not a hundred meters away, but they maintained trigger discipline. The rebels were lightly armored, carrying light blaster weaponry and slugthrowers, and ill-disciplined. In an era when assault teams could be dropped from orbital transports directly onto the battlefield, amphibious approaches were not the most highly anticipated action.
The Kourshad Delta, the mouth of the mighty Kourshad River that fed into the Gulf, was heavily mined, but the skimmers were light and elevated some two meters above the waterline, with only the wings dipping beneath the surface. With the assistance of underwater sensors, the skimmer operators deftly maneuvered through the hostile waters and into the river. About a klick up the river, Condor and Nomad teams broke off and went to shore.
3-Gamma had five targets in the jungles of Kourshad, which together formed a rough triangle converging some fifteen klicks inland. Condor and Nomad would handle the two southeasterly objectives, while Apex and Blackrock would advance on the two northwest from there. The company would then converge on the fifth location. MARSPEC Command, not entirely contrary to Obelisk’s orders, had passed down a weapons free order earlier that night, effective immediately upon landing. 3-Gamma was to maintain operational integrity by shooting target that was not immediately identifiable as friendly in the course of the mission.
Callagher’s skimmer pulled up to the riverbank, and Blackrock One put boots in the water. Blackrock Two and Three followed soon thereafter, and as soon as they disembarked the skimmers turned back into the waters to find concealment upriver. The Blackrock Team’s fourteen Hosnian Prime marines, their stark white ablative plating exchanged for jungle green patterned armor, waved them off. Callagher nodded to the marine to his left, who raised his left gauntlet and pressed a button to open a comm channel.
“Ghost Command, this is Blackrock One, do you copy? Blackrock Team is in position to advance,” Specialist Calder’s voice came through the comms.
“Blackrock One, this is Ghost Command,” Seils’s comms transmissions operator answered, “we copy. Blackrock Team is cleared to advance, weapons free per SPECCOM.”
Callagher gave Calder a thumbs up and then opened his own comms channel with the team. “Blackrock Team, we are weapons free and cleared to advance. Blackrock Two, take point.”
“Copy, Actual,” came Blackrock Two-One’s answer. The five marines that comprised Blackrock’s second element readied weapons and pushed into the treeline. Even as they disappeared from view, Callagher’s HUD kept electronic markers on each marine’s position.
He gave the signal, and the rest of the team followed Blackrock Two into the Kourshad jungle.
The Paragon, second among the sleek new Optio-class Fast Attack Cruisers off the Hosnian Driveyards lines, drifted through space some thousand kilometers above the surface of New Plympto. The ship was cruising at an angle such that the crest of the planet’s horizon lay ahead, far off in the distance through the bridge’s wide trapezoidal viewports.
Callagher stood next to Captain Seils, his commander, and a dozen other marine officers with the First Reconnaissance Battalion, all in their officer's uniforms. They almost looked like the navy officers around them, seated at their positions on the bridge. Though the marines were still, silent at attention, the officers around them seemed to be very busy, tapping away at their terminals, communicating, receiving and directing orders. Callagher had no idea idling in space could be such a complicated endeavor.
Before the collection of officers, next to a command holoprojector a meter tall and two meters in diameter, stood a clean shaven, hardened looking man in his mid-forties. This was Colonel Ferrangh, callsign Obelisk, First Recon’s commander. His face was unreadable. Not blank, but hard and impassive. He appraised the room.
“Are we all in attendance?”
“Yes, sir,” one of the recon officers answered.
“Good,” Ferrangh said, and he pressed a button on the holoprojector’s terminal. A large holomap projection of a piece of forested, coastal terrain sprang into view. “Gentlemen, this is New Plympto’s Kourshad Region,” Colonel Ferrangh said, pointing at the map. “The provincial capital, Phereis,” he said, using a gesture to highlight an inland city, “is the nerve center of the Free Nosauria Liberation Front. From this location, rogue elements of the planetary government are able to provide air support, establish supply lines, and give refuge to the enemy. As has been made clear to us, gentlemen, General Vennader’s orders are that the enemy shall have no refuge.”
With a short series of waves and gestures, Ferrangh zoomed out from the city and to the larger region. Bright red and green lines and icons appeared on the screen, the lines of battle and unit positions. “Phereis is the General’s objective. Fourteen standard days ago, the Second Marine Regiment, attached to the New Plympto Army, moved out from Camp Darropolis and marched on the city. You are currently looking at the projected lines of battle. This is not, however, our current situation.”
Another gesture, and the lines moved. The green fell away from Phereis. The red units pushed forward in tandem, and many of them vanished from the map. There was far more green than red on the map now, and the line was a messy, serpentine thing limited in its coverage to the northwestern sector of the grid. If Callagher had to make a guess, he’d guess this was bad news.
“Heavy enemy contact has placed us behind schedule, and local allies have failed to provide us with intelligence up to our standards. The General understands that no plan survives enemy contact. The General is adaptable and tolerates changes in circumstance. However, the General also understands that the violence of action will carry the day on New Plympto. The NPA and Second Marines have permitted the enemy to seize control over the tempo of this fight. That, General Vennader cannot tolerate.
“As a result, Obelisk and the First Recon Battalion are putting boots on the ground. It falls to us to recapture the tempo in Kourshad. To this end, command has seen fit to attach a special operations unit to our battalion. The First Recon will be conducting joint operations with Captain Seils and his MARSPEC operators. Those operations will be carried out here.”
The map zoomed in and shifted focus to the southwestern sector. On the first, projected status map, this area had been behind allied lines. Now, it was well before them, and dark. No red or green units to be seen there, just a few population centers Callagher estimated to be small towns or similar.
“The southern flank of the NPA-Hosnian joint task force is dark, and four thousand enemy combatants command anticipated encountering on the battlefield in the north are currently unaccounted for. This concerns General Vennader. He wants eyes on these units yesterday.”
“Jungle density in this area is too high for remote reconnaissance, but thanks to the efforts of our MARSPEC team, we understand that certain cargo shipments aboard freighters suspected of carrying shipments to the enemy have been unloaded and transported to these locations.” Red dots appeared on the map now, marking four of the towns and a few locations deep in the New Plympto jungle. “These are Nosaurian hamlets and villages, and the objective of First Recon’s mission. Officers, your companies will be deployed here, in the west, by Axehead drop,” he said, and three yellow icons appeared on the screen. “You will move east and hit each of these villages. Your mission is the acquisition of actionable intelligence on the enemy’s position and disposition at these points and the surrounding area, and to act on it.” The holomap outlined prospective routes for the new yellow units, and then additional icons appeared farther south, off the coast.
“Captain Seils,” Ferrangh said, now addressing the MARSPEC commander, “you and your operators will be dropped here, off the southern coast under the cover of darkness. Your MARSPEC team will move up the coastline and into the Kourshad Delta before disembarking at the riverbank here.” Callagher watched as lines traced a route up the coast and inland via a large river. Just to the north of the projected disembark, three red dots gleamed deep in the jungle. "You and your team are to ascertain the nature of these positions and, if possible, destroy the enemy’s advantage there. To accomplish your missions,” he said, now addressing both the MARSPEC and recon officers, “you will have the orbital strike capabilities of the Paragon and the Optio, as well as close air support in the form of low-altitude gunships and fighter craft.”
Easy enough. “Any questions?” Ferrangh asked.
“Sir,” one of the recon officers began, “do you have any additional guidance on the rules of engagement for this operation?” Ferrangh nodded.
“The New Plympto government believes that the civilian casualty count is too high. They have insisted that we make every effort to ensure that we engage only the enemy. Command has incorporated this directive into the ROE. Accordingly, we are only cleared to engage after reasonable efforts have been made to determine whether a target is hostile.” There was a pregnant pause. Ferrangh’s eyes shifted to the MARSPEC officers’ and then back. “That said, if you were to ask Obelisk how many dead civilians he would trade for any one of your lives, there is no number high enough. Our enemy does not wear uniforms, they do not play by the rules. You are to protect yourself and your units with the aggression expected of Hosnian Marines. It goes without saying that I have full faith and confidence in your judgment.”
He looked around, expectantly, but there was silence. “Thank you, gentlemen. Prepare your units to move out. Dismissed.”
- - -
Blackbark – Phereis National Starport, New Plympto
“That right there, Clunker,” Blackbark said to his pilot droid, “that’s what we in the biz call a problem.”
The Nosaurian and his faithful droid companion stood atop the Hotspur, looking down at a flat, black, cylindrical disc about a half meter across. Blackbark knelt down to inspect the thing. Entirely unmarked, no blinking lights and such. Almost entirely unsuspicious, except it was definitely not there when they left port out of Graland Station. No, someone had stuck this on the Hotspur sometime between leaving the station and landing on New Plympto. Someone on the ground, then, he imagined, but who? Or someone in the air. Someone without a face. “Fuckin’ Hosnians,” Blackbark growled, remembering the search. “Clunker, what do those databanks in your head tell you about the Hosnians we ran into? How long did they hold us up?”
“My memory banks inform me that the Hosnian Prime marines were aboard our ship for precisely twenty-three standard minutes and forty-seven seconds,” Clunker advised him. It had been shorter than a usual customs check, in Blackbark’s experience. He’d chalked it up to laziness, but maybe that had just been the cover. Twenty minutes is long enough to attach a tracking device to a ship.
“Shit. Clunker, get this thing off my ship, bring it down to the hold and disassemble the thing.” It might not be marked on the outside, but inside there might be serial numbers, identifiers, something to give him a clue.
“Right away, captain,” Clunker said, and primed the blowtorch contained in his left forearm. Blackbark swung down the ladder on the side of the ship and climbed down, cursing all the way.
He brushed past a few dockworkers and strode up the boarding ramp and into the Hotspur. Once in the cockpit he threw himself into the chair and pulled up the HoloNet on the terminal. He slapped the side of it as the connection booted up, hoping to hurry it along with some percussive encouragement. With the HoloNet up, he moved to a secure channel, the cheekily named Free Corellia Express. FCE was a new, grassroots smuggling network based out of Graland Station that served as a major logistics avenue for the Free Corellia and related movements. Their shipments were the lifeblood of Free Corellia, Free Nosauria, and others that had yet to spark the flames of revolution. The movements had plenty of money to spend on outfitting armies and supplying themselves in a bid for independence, and smugglers like Blackbark were happy to help.
The network also served as a way for the smugglers to watch each other’s backs. When you get tagged with a tracker on an FCE route, sounding the alarm is a thing of common courtesy.
“Attention all FCE captains,” he spoke aloud, “I think I've got a Hosnian Prime Navy tracking device on my ship. Sweep your ships and standby for confirmation.” He gave it a once over listen and sent it.
Down in the Hotspur’s workshop soon after, Blackbark found Clunker taking a blowtorch to the thing. It took two hours to get it up. Clunker’s torch couldn’t cut through the alloy shell without going over 90% power, and it was slow going even then. That was enough for Blackbark – no crime lords in the Corellian Sector had this kind of hardened tech on hand – but he needed to be sure. Soon enough, though, he got what he was looking for. Inside, after pulling out the guts of the thing, he found an alphanumeric code etched into the casing. No blinking red lights, though. He guessed the holoflicks took some liberties with that kind of thing.
“What do you make of it, Clunk?” he asked.
“I am afraid the identification of such technology is not strictly within my programming, but it would seem to me that this is a very high-quality piece of equipment,” the droid replied as he sifted through assorted wires and parts.
“Let’s take this back up to the cockpit and run the number through a HoloNet search. Not something you’d find in the hands of civvies, though, eh?” Blackbark asked.
“I should think not, sir,” Clunker agreed.
It was indeed not.
“’Sale is restricted to military and police organizations,’” Blackbark read aloud off the HoloNet’s description of the SG810 Guardian, a high-end tracking device with interstellar capability and pinpoint accuracy. It was produced by a Hosnian security company. “Shit,” the smuggler growled, cycling through the product list. Plenty of similar devices, some a lot smaller than this one. “Shit, Clunker, that seems like a problem, don’t it?”
Clunker, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, nodded his vaguely humanoid head in affirmation. “Yes, captain, it certainly does.”
- - -
Doriah – 1805 Hydian Street, Coruscant
Doriah Castal was half way through her first glass of wine of the evening when she made the call.
“Call Commodore Donnic, will you?” she asked aloud. The droid brain replied by putting the dial through the holocaster at the head of her living room.
Moments later, Commodore Donnic flickered into existence, his countenance and body all blue in holographic light.
“Commodore, thank you for taking my call,” Doriah said with a smile.
“Always, Senator,” Donnic greeted her crisply. He stood at attention, as if before a commanding officer. She liked it. Maybe she should have gone into the navy. She wouldn’t have made a half-bad commanding officer, she thought. “What can I do for you?”
“The Galactic Senate has commissioned a diplomatic assignment to Aurea, a fact-finding mission bringing some of our best negotiators together with experts on the Free Corellia movement,” Doriah said. “I’m transmitting the details to you now. I think it may be appropriate if this mission were to encounter some, shall we say, ‘difficulties’ en route?”
“What are you getting at, ma’am?” Donnic asked. A man of limited imagination, Doriah deduced.
“Our friends in the Free Corellia Navy have a small bevy of capital ships at their disposal thanks to our efforts, do they not?” Doriah asked. She fought the urge to slow her speech.
“They do,” Donnic said.
“And, therefore, they may also have the ability to disable a starship while it is in transit from one system to another, no?” she pressed on.
“We may be able to arrange something. This seems like an aggressive step,” the commodore advised her, hesitance in his voice. Hesitance. She almost scowled, but deftly avoided that impropriety by taking a timely draught of wine. Decisive action would carry Dorsis and the Corellian Sector to a brighter future. If Donnic proved he was not a man of action, she may have to lean on others in the future. “Are you sure this is the best course of action?”
“Commodore, I have no love for so many of my fellow Senators, but I respect their talent for mitigating crises as they arise,” she said. “The diplomatic arm of a republic that has stood for thousands of years, on the back of diplomacy mind you, cannot be underestimated. No, we must amputate.”
“This would be an assassination.”
“I didn’t say kill them, necessarily,” Doriah wheedled, putting a sweet note in her voice. “Just disable the ship, if such a thing is possible. I have no expertise in this field, but so long as shots are fired and these Senators fear for their lives, so long as the Republic sees that Free Corellia is unwilling to come to the table, that will be victory enough for our purposes,” she said.
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll forward this mission to one of our assets. It will be done.”
The holoprojection flickered out of existence.
“Dismissed,” she said with a smirk.
How many lives would she end with this, she wondered. Three Senators, their staffs, the crew of the Hammerhead-class cruiser they traveled aboard. Hundreds of lives thrown into contention by a quick call across the galaxy and a tentative alliance with a growing rebellion. Of course, if all went according to plan, no one would die, but she figured when lasers started flying in the void and ship-to-ship combat was at hand, mistakes could be made and miscalculations could dust the crew of an entire starship.
She wondered if there was a difference between killing a person and ordering an execution. Did they feel differently? Should they?
Description: Z. Zatticus Blackbark, a nut-brown skinned Nosaurian native of New Plympto, stands at a sturdy four foot five inches (four-six on a good day). Though maybe a little paunchier than he’d prefer, Zatticus is solidly built and strong despite his stature. He doesn’t keep up appearances, to say the least, maintaining a look he’d describe as “scruffy.” Some would call it slovenly. He has a rugged face, and in his younger years may have been an attractive prospect as a mate (to a fellow Nosaurian, that is).
Zatticus keeps a blaster pistol holstered on his hip, a staple in his line of work, and he’s not a half-bad shot to boot. He’s a much better pilot though, and although his ship, the heavily modified freighter Hotspur, isn’t much to look at, he can coax a decent enough performance out of it. Zatticus isn’t one for speed in the air, though. Rather, he relies on good old fashioned cleverness and smuggler’s cunning, making use of the Hotspur’s mazelike interior to carve out an uncanny number of smuggler’s holds throughout the ship to transport the illicit goods that make up the most profitable bulk of his trade alongside his legal cargo.
Background: Zyberio Zatticus Blackbark was hatched on New Plympto, one of a clutch of eight, and never longed for anything more than to get the hell off-world. A firm believer in cheating his way into success, Zatticus stowed away on his first of many starships at the not-so-tender-for-a-Nosaurian age of fourteen. What with most travel in the New Plympto system being highly local, he didn’t get particularly far, and wound up working odd jobs here and there on starbases in New Plympto and nearby systems. He cleaned starbases as a janitor, dismantled ships as a scrapper, hauled cargo as a dockworker, and more, for years, before finally getting his shot. His first job on a bona fide smuggling vessel was as a hired hand on a gunrunner ferrying arms and armor to fledgling resistance movements across newly occupied Imperial planets in the early years of the war.
The work was incredibly dangerous and nearly got Zatticus killed more than once, but his ability to do his job and shut the fuck up around the authorities meant he was fast tracked into a more integral role on the ship. By the time the war ended, he was near fifty years old and had earned enough to strike out on his own. To that end, he bought a ship, a junker of a freighter and used his years of ad hoc mechanical and engineering experience to jury rig a more than functional vessel out of the thing. Naming it the Hotspur after an old fling, he took to the stars as a captain this time and flew where the credits flowed. That meant spice, guns, and gambling.
You can give an old Nosaurian a new toy, but you can’t teach him new tricks
Independents - Z. Zatticus Blackbark, Captain of the Hotspur Clunker, Blackbark's Protocol Droid - - -
Z. Zatticus Blackbark – The Hotspur, Orbiting New Plympto
Z. Zatticus Blackbark was no stranger to the law. He wasn’t fond of it, and didn’t elect to involve himself in it, but it had a habit of finding him. He was hardly surprised to find himself hailed while trying to fly to a planet embroiled into a rapidly escalating civil war. Only, this time around, he wasn’t being hailed by CorSec officials or Republic patrols. Rather, he was being hailed by a Foray-class blockade runner identifying itself as a Hosnian Prime Navy frigate. At any other time in his life, this would be utterly bizarre.
Those were the times though, and as expected or unexpected, an air of indignancy about the whole affair went a long way, as far as he could tell.
“What in the hell is the meaning of this?!” Blackbark roared, stomping down the corridor connecting the cockpit to the main gallery and airlock.
The Nosaurian rolled his shoulders back, fighting against his customary slouch and bringing himself up to his full four and a half feet of height before rounding the corner. He found his loyal droid companion, Clunker, standing next to what appeared to be a human male. Their uninvited guest, a Hosnian Prime marine if Blackbark knew his insignias, was armored head to toe in black and white plasteel and wearing a mask devoid of features, human or otherwise, save for a reflective black visor. The marine was in the process of inspecting a datapad. Behind him, more Hosnian marines were already milling about, rifles in hand as they set to scouring the ship.
Scuffing the floors with their jackboots too, no doubt.
“Greetings Master Blackbark,” Clunker said in his usual dry monotone, tridigit hands clasped at his waist, “I have produced to this law enforcement officer a copy of our ship’s manifest upon request in accordance with Republic law.”
“The hell you have,” Blackbark growled, hands on his hips. “Who do you Hosnians think you are?”
“You’re Blackbark, I take it?” the marine asked. He stood an entire foot and a half taller than Blackbark, and asked the question with what seemed to be a deeply rooted disinterest. “Z. Zatticus Blackbark, registered owner of the light freighter Hotspur?”
“She’s mid-sized,” Blackbark corrected sharply, “and yes I am.”
“What does the ‘Z’ stand for?”
“Your name? Z. Zatticus? What does the ‘Z’ stand for?”
“It stands for ‘zone of your business,’ that’s what it stands for!” The marine stared at him blankly. Maybe not blankly, it wasn’t entirely clear from the mask. “What, they don’t program you for humor over on Hosnian Prime?” Blackbark asked. “It’s stands for Zyberio, after my grandfather, but I don’t go by that. Sick joke, giving that name to a hatchling, but my mother had a worse sense of humor than even you, if you can believe it.”
“Right,” the marine said tonelessly. He turned to business instead. “Well, Zyberio,” he said, “pursuant to Hosnian Congressional Resolution 441-74, Subsection C, my men and I are conducting an authorized inspection of your ship and personal property.” The marine recited what must have been a standard introduction with a bureaucrat’s dispassion for the job. “If you are found to be in violation of local or federal law, we are authorized to place you under arrest and seize your vessel. If you’d be willing to answer a few questions, maybe we can speed up the process and get you back to work.”
“Always happy to help an officer of the law,” Zatticus answered with scathing contempt. “But don’t call me Zyberio.”
The marine, unfazed, nodded and gestured to the datapad with his free hand. “Based on this manifest, seems like you’re carrying mostly industrial equipment, building materials, some luxury goods. I’m also seeing about a ton of kolto and some high-end medical equipment. Could you tell me a little bit about how you came to be transporting that to New Plympto?”
“Yeah, if you haven’t heard, we’re flying about five hundred kilometers above an active warzone, which, to my knowledge, is a place where people tend to get shot,” Blackbark grouched. “Great profit margins for this stuff down there.”
“So,” Blackbark continued, raising his hands, open palmed, “unless taking advantage of the basic economics of supply and demand is now against the law, I don’t think we have much to talk about here.”
“Uh huh,” the marine intoned again. He turned his attention to his wrist mounted holoprojector, and began typing away at the holopad, referencing the datapad from time to time. Recording the full scope of the manifest’s contents, it seemed, based on how long it dragged on.
“I’ve got some great filth up in the cockpit under the dash, if you want to write about that too,” Blackbark offered as the minutes dragged on. The marine ignored him. “What, your commanding officer doesn’t want to hear about my Clutchmates Gone Wild collection? Doesn’t do it for you guys?” Nothing.
They stood in silence, ignoring one another, another fifteen minutes before the marine looked to the left. One of his underlings sauntered up. The second marine nodded and turned to the airlock, exiting the Hotspur to return to the boarding craft upon which the party had arrived. The leader returned his faceless gaze to Blackbark, who felt great discomfort looking into the black visor. Like staring into the void. “Everything appears to be in order here,” the marine said, handing the datapad back to Clunker.
“You sure you don’t want to stay for caf?” Blackbark asked as the marine took up a post next to the exit. “No trouble at all, always happy to accommodate Hosnian Prime’s finest,” he continued as more marines filed past. After the last one had boarded the shuttle, the leader gave Blackbark a wave and followed suit. The airlock hissed shut behind him.
“Fuckos,” Blackbark growled, and then let out a long breath and whistled. The Hotspur was old as hell and ugly as sin, but she had a few tricks here and there. The smuggler compartments scattered all about the ships, near seamless with the floors, walls, and ceiling surfaces, were one of them, and an absolute dream too. Blackbark was very glad he’d made the investment.
That marine didn’t seem like the kind of man to take kindly to a smuggler vessel stocked to the gills with a hundred blasters and a veritable shitload of thermal detonators. Not to mention a fair bit of spice for the sake of morale. The Nosaurian captain was a firm believer in supporting the troops, if there were credits in it.
Hands in his pockets, Blackbark strode back to the cockpit. His Free Nosauria contacts were waiting planetside.
- - -
Towler – Organa Senatorial Starport, Hangar 88-A
Bar Carrigher, President of Hosnian Prime and Senator for the same, was due to land at Organa Senatorial Starport earlier in the morning than Fosten Towler liked.
Towler worked as the holomessages flowed, and they started late in the morning and continued late into the night. This early morning charade was entirely disruptive to his work-life balance, and he resented it. That said, as whip to the South Colonies Caucus, greeting the chairperson of the Caucus as she made a rare appearance on Coruscant was one of his more important responsibilities. Appearances were nine-tenths of politics, so they said. That last one-tenth was a real bear, in Towler’s experience, so he wasn’t sure how true that was, but there was a kernel of truth to it and that was enough.
Towler wasn’t the only one to make face. Two dozen of the most important Senators of the South Colonies Caucus had turned out to greet Carrigher. They checked datapads repeatedly as they waited, but with the reporters about Towler stood at attention and waited. A holoimage suggesting that he was too preoccupied to care about the chairperson’s arrival was not a look that agreed with his personal brand.
This was especially the case now that Senator Carrigher and he were at odds. After he’d brokered a deal between Duros and Hosnian Prime allowing the Hosnian Prime Navy to use the Duros system as a staging ground for their operations deeper in Corellian territory, he’d committed Loronar, in Carrigher’s eyes, to the just cause of securing the hyperlanes. Corellia lay at the intersection of the Corellian Trade Spine, on which Hosnian Prime lay, and the Corellian Run, on the route of which Loronar and Byblos were located. Carrigher’s plan called for Hosnian Prime to secure the local systems along the Spine, while Loronar and Byblos would secure the Run.
While Hosnian Prime had held up its end of the bargain, establishing strongholds in the Plympto and New Plympto systems, the civil war on New Plympto had dissuaded Loronar and Byblos’s planetary leadership from following through. Loronar and Byblos had set up patrols around Nubia, the most strategically valuable Corellian Sector world on the Run, but were refusing to advance into the Truuzdann and Tanthior systems.
This had resulted in a half-dozen increasingly hostile holoconferences between his office and Carrigher’s, and he did not relish the idea of dealing with her in person. Nevertheless, she was here. The datapads went away as the hum of a starship engine grew louder above the crowd.
An elegantly designed starship, a chrome and gold crescent, glided near soundlessly into Hangar 88 of Organa Senatorial Starport. Towler looked to Casmir Covost, Senator for Byblos, brows raised in an effort to convey surprise. Senator Covost returned the expression. Towler imagined they were sharing the same reaction. This was a beautiful luxury yacht produced, so they were told, by the new orbital staryards over Hosnian Prime. The landing gear unfurled from the smooth underbelly, and the ship alighted on the landing pad, daintily for an enormous piece of machinery. Its journey from Hosnian Prime concluded, the boarding ramp hissed, and began descending.
Towler stood twenty yards back, alongside the other senators of the South Colonies Caucus. They were joined by dozens of security officers, senatorial staffers, media representatives, lobbyists, and more. It was crowded, more so than would ordinarily be the case. The awaited upon President of and Senator for Hosnian Prime had, of course, commenced a naval invasion of the Corellian Sector’s outerlying worlds, and was advancing on the heart of the Sector itself. Or, alternatively, she had launched a well-coordinated, heavily armed and outfitted anti-piracy campaign in a desperate, last-ditch effort to secure the Republic’s hyperspace lanes in the Corellian Sector and prevent the civilized galaxy from collapsing in on itself.
It depended upon to whom you directed the question, but Towler figured it was somewhere in the middle.
President Bar Carrigher strode down the boarding ramp, flanked on either side by a Hosnian Prime marine garbed head to toe in white and black plasteel armor and carrying a milspec blaster rifle. President Carrigher herself wore a sleek dress, nearly translucent, shimmering as if wet, and sheer enough to give hinting impression of her nipples. The dress seemed to Towler’s eyes to shift between silver and gold in hue with each step she took. He wondered if she was on the cutting edge of Hosnian Prime’s fashion, or if she made it herself by picking an outfit out of the wardrobe on a given day. She stepped as she finished her descent, smiling for the reporters and the cameras.
Carrigher had been a model long before she’d been president, and still knew how to work the cameras.
“President Carrigher, who are you wearing?”
“Madame President, will you be attending MetroStar Gala tonight?”
“Senator, is your daughter Berez traveling with you?”
The questions pressed on, and Carrigher answered some here and there, smiling and flirting with the blue flashes that rendered her in holographic format for republication across ten thousand news channels. They treated her more like a holostar than a politician, Towler mused to himself, but wasn’t she just that? She was the son of one of the wealthiest titans of industry and trade in the southern half of the galaxy, and in addition to money she had draped herself in the trappings of power and celebrity as well. Towler had the connections with the Loronar Corporation, he was exceptional at his job, but he would never amount to half as much as Bar Carrigher, he imagined. Who could?
“End Hosnian imperialism!” shouted someone, and Towler perked up. That was out of step with the rest of the questions. Not a question at all, actually. Carrigher seemed to notice as well, and her expression was one of puzzlement, maybe. The speaker was a reptilian Nosaurian in the process of drawing something from a bag. A holocamera, Towler expected.
No, a blaster.
It was a small thing with blue markings, nothing special to look at. The Nosaurian drew it from the bag and trained it on the President of Hosnian Prime. Towler’s mouth was open, and he couldn’t close it. It seemed surreal, to be watching an assassination unfold in front of his very eyes. Holofilms had soundtracks, and cinematic angles to add dramatic effect. The real thing looked very ordinary, almost at odds with the magnitude of the act. Just a sentient holding a small device in a hand, pointing it at another person.
Maybe the crack of blaster fire would have made the scene, but the blaster didn’t fire. The Nosaurian jabbed it at her once, twice, and considered it. He’d pulled the trigger, Towler thought, but nothing had happened. If he were human, Towler wondered if the blood would have drained from his face. Then a blaster was actually fired, and the Nosaurian grasped at his chest, taking a knee. Another blaster shot, and another. The two Hosnian Prime marines, each with his rifle leveled and trained on the would-be killer, discharged their weapons time and time again, pouring flashing blood-orange bolts into the body of the Nosaurian long after he’d collapsed. They had not set their rifles to stun, that was for sure, judging by the smoking corpse they left behind.
There was screaming and crying, shouting like nothing Towler had heard before. President Carrigher was escorted away into Organa Senatorial Starport by her two guardians as more Hosnian Prime marines poured from the mouth of the presidential starliner. A female reporter sat on the ground next to the dead Nosaurian, mouth agape in a silent, shocked cry as she clutched at a blaster wound at her thigh. Another, a Rodian male, lay dead.
Towler became dimly aware of a tugging at his elbow and realized that Casmir had been trying to get his attention.
“Let’s go!” he shouted, pointing back to the interior of the hangar, back to the doors. Medical personnel were streaming into the hangar, and there was a frenzy of activity as security officers and droids and all manner of officials began directing and countermanding direction among themselves.
- - -
Doriah Castal – 1805 Hydian Street, Coruscant
“Two were left dead and three wounded earlier today,” Coruscant Holonews Network’s talking head, a boringly well-dressed human rendered in full color holoprojection at the head of Doriah Castal’s living room, droned on, “after an attempt on the life of Hosnian Prime President Bar Carrigher. The assassination attempt occurred at the Organa Senatorial Starport just as President Carrigher exited her starship. For more, we go to Jel Ontolla, who is there at the scene. Jel, what more do we know about this situation?”
The CHN anchor’s image slid to the side and was joined by another figure as a perky blonde reporter shimmered into existence to his left. “Well, Van, the situation is still developing,” this new holographic projection answered, “but Coruscant Security Service officials have released the shooter’s identity. The alleged assassin is Segg Jumproot, a Nosaurian native of New Plympto. We’re also being told that Jumproot was a self-described freedom fighter with the Free Nosauria Liberation Front.”
No mention of Hosnian Prime marines opening fire on a crowd of reporters with blasters set to kill, of course, or that the “shooter” had never fired a shot, but that was the news for you. Doriah slouched deeper into her plush couch, red wine sloshing in an oversized glass. Like it or not, though, this was the news, and as Senator of Dorsis she had a fiduciary duty to keep herself appraised of all news relating to the planet and the Corellian Sector. That was, of late, a great deal of news, but no one had ever said you needed to keep appraised while sober, and so it was bearable.
“But to be clear, the FNLF has not taken responsibility for the attack at this time.”
Ah, fair and balanced reporting.
“That’s correct, Van, but CSS officials have stated…” she continued, but she was suddenly silenced, her lips moving but producing no words to match. A moment later and the call followed. Aurabesh lettering replaced the CHN news team, projecting a name across the holoprojection field in big, blue lettering.
“Pick up,” she said aloud, and her apartment’s droid brain answered the encrypted holocall. A crisply dressed naval officer stood at attention in her living room, hands clasped behind his back. Or so she assumed. The holoprojector didn’t render the backsides of her callers. She’d checked.
“Commodore Donnic,” she said, hardly moving a muscle save to bring her wine to her lips, “to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Only good news, Senator,” he offered.
“Something I can drink to, I hope?”
“It seems you’ve already begun, Senator.”
“So I have. But a retrospective reason would be appreciated all the same,” Doriah said with a smile. The military types were so uptight. It was hard to have fun with them.
“I may well have something for you, then,” Donnic said with a brief, crisp and very thin smile. “The last of sixteen supply ships has landed on New Plympto and delivered its cargo." Doriah struggled to refrain from rolling her eyes. This was not her area of interest. "The Free Nosauria movement has received the full bulk of our first supply operation in the region. In addition to medical supplies, food, tools, and more mundane equipment, we’ve also managed to put military grade blaster technology in their hands, along with armor and construction materials for fortified defenses.”
“I thought we were having difficulty supplying the Nosaurians with armor,” Doriah said, eyes narrowed. Best to look shrewd, she figured, when you have little idea of what you’re talking about. Politics, the cultivation and expenditure of influence, that was her game. Military strategy was not.
“Armor in the sense of starfighters and vehicles, yes,” Donnic answered, speaking slowly. “We have been able to supply them with personal armor, however, produced by our more discreet manufactories to fit the Nosaurian form.”
“Well, let me know when we supply them with starfighters and I’ll open the wine,” Doriah said, taking a long draught of red.
“As you wish, Senator.”
“What about our Corellian friends?” Doriah asked. New Plympto bored her. The Nosaurians were a primitive people, bootstrapped into modernity by aid packages and galactic outreach, with a single, non-voting representative on Coruscant attached to the Corellian delegation. From personal experience, Doriah had few positive things to say about the sentient to boot. Their war was even more tedious. Inspired by the Corellian separatists and inflamed by the Hosnian fleet’s seizure and destruction of several Nosaurian space stations alleged to have been harboring pirates, a bitter civil war had broken out on the planet’s surface. Hosnian Prime’s anti-piracy operation had rapidly evolved into an intervention effort to bring peace to the world, or so Bar Carrigher said.
Doriah strongly suspected this was either a happy accident or Hosnian Prime’s plan all along. Policing the most strategically valuable sector in the galaxy because Corellia and the Republic couldn’t do it must be such a heavy weight on the Hosnians’ shoulders, she imagined. The treachery gave Doriah all the more reason to support Free Nosauria, though, and all the more reason to support the Corellian sector’s secession. And so she did her part to stoke the fires on New Plympto, though she had little to contribute on that front.
Free Corellia, on the other hand, was a boiling hot cauldron of partisan politics, paramilitary groups, activists, and some of the brightest thinkers in the galaxy. Establishing a stable diplomatic connection between the Free Corellia movement and sympathizers in the Senate was Doriah’s top priority, made difficult for the fact that the Dorsian navy was far more interested in communicating with Free Corellia’s motley array of starship commanders, a collection that ranged from pirates to ex-CorSec officers to former System Defense Force captains. They had far more enthusiasm for the cause than they did a love of organization, which made coordination challenging. As a deniable asset heavily linked to what was quickly shaping up to be a political, if not outright military, conflict between the Corellian Sector and Hosnian Prime was a valuable thing, so she understood their focus.
“We’ve arranged for some two dozen light capital ships scheduled for decommissioning to be diverted into the hands of captains we estimate to be potential strategic assets,” Donnic answered. “We’ve also arranged for some of our officers to work as consultants, setting up logistical networks and advising on naval strategy. Organizing the Free Corellia Navy has been challenging, but we’re making headway.”
“The Free Corellia Navy. So, they have a name, but no leader? Have we identified a suitable liaison? A point of contact?”
“Not yet, but we expect some sort of leadership structure to emerge in the coming months. As I said, there are a number of promising candidates on the board.”
Months was a long time, far longer than she liked. But all things in good time, she supposed. She finished the wine, and began pouring another glass, emptying the bottle. “Very well.”
“The Dorsian Navy has drawn the line at the Xyquine system,” informed her further. “We’ve directed our most reliable Free Corellia captains to the system. If the Hosnians try to muscle their way onto Xyquine II, we can arrange for an appropriate response.”
“Don’t make me the centerpiece of a civil war here, Commodore,” Doriah retorted sharply. “I just renovated my condo here, and I’m not interested in moving back to Dorsis.” Truth be told she missed her homeworld. Dorsis was a developing ecumenopolis, with roughly a third of the planet covered by urban sprawl, much like Coruscant. Unlike Coruscant, there was still a biosphere to speak of, and the urban sprawl was much cleaner.
It was also unlike Coruscant in the sense that it was not the capital of the Republic, and the Dorsian Navy was a system defense force by another name, with no more rights and privileges than any other. Except for the Hosnian Prime Navy, apparently. If you’re Bar Carrigher you can do as you please, it seemed.
In any event, waging war on other Republic worlds was certainly beyond the scope of their powers, to say the least. Whoever shot first would lose.
“We’re under strict orders not to fire on Hosnian forces unless fired upon, Senator,” Donnic answered easily, but she wasn’t sure she trusted him. The Hosnian incursion into the Corellian Sector under the guise of securing the Republic’s hyperspace routes was, to put it mildly, greatly unappreciated by Corellia and her sectormates. Dorsis, as one of the centers of civilization in the Corellian Sector, was keen to support Corellian hegemony in the sector. ‘Hosnian imperialism,’ the would-be assassin had shouted at Bar Carrigher? A very apt description.
“I trust your judgment,” Doriah lied. “That’ll be all, Donnic. This bottle is empty, and I can’t continue without a drink in my hand. Keep me appraised of the situation?”
“Of course, Senator.” The commodore winked out of existence.
Doriah sipped at her last glass of wine. She was a traitor to the Republic, she knew. Or she was a product of circumstances. The Republic was a husk of what it had once been, propped up by the economic and industrial strength of the Corellian Sector and a half dozen other sectors like it. There was a bright future for Corellia and her sister worlds without the Republic, without the Senate, without the thousand parasite planets across the galaxy that fed on Corellia and Dorsis. She wondered if the Founding Fathers of the Republic felt as she did now, wondering whether history would remember them as heroes or villains when the curtains were drawn, and the show ended. She wondered what crimes of theirs the history texts had erased. Some like hers, maybe.
To do a great right, do a little wrong, she’d heard somewhere. She’d done her little wrong; she had no choice to see it through now to do that great right.
She drained the glass of wine, set an alarm, and laid down.
- - -
Aleks Callagher – The Interceptor, Orbiting New Plympto
Back aboard the Interceptor, First Lieutenant Aleks Callagher stood, still in his battle armor, at attention before his commanding officer. Jodo Adorne, captain of the Foray-class blockade runner and a man with a squat face that looked to have been beaten with a hammer, sat behind the desk in his quarter. He was looking down at a datapad in his hands and scrolling through, Callagher assumed, the report on the Hotspur.
“This all seems to be in good order, Lieutenant,” Adorne said, giving Callagher something that sounded like approval.
“Thank you, sir,” Callagher answered.
“I see the tracking devices are in place on the cargo and the ship?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. Specialist Calder performed a solo spacewalk to secure a tracker to the hull while we conducted our search. One way or another, he’ll lead us to the rebels.”
“Excellent,” Adorne said with a smile. “Dismissed.”
Welcome back! Or, just welcome, if you’re coming by the for the first time.
The previous iteration of this, some months back, revolved around a conspiracy against the Republic, but due to my absence due to real life complications and in light of the direction the Persistent World has taken since the inception of Chapter I of A House Divided, we’ve elected to bring back A House Divided and take the story in a new direction.
There’s a ton of room in this setting for a Game of Thrones-in-space-esque roleplay focused around the Senate and other setpieces at the heart of the Republic, and with the Mission: Harvest Moon RP poised to set in motion rippling effects across the setting of the Persistent World, now is a great time to bring back a Coruscant-centric roleplaying experience.
Now, the aftermath of Mission: Harvest Moon will not be the focus of this RP until that story has come closer to a conclusion and we have a clearer picture of the consequences of that storyline. While the outcome generally seems to be a foregone conclusion, having a more complete picture—in my opinion—will better inform and enrich our writing product when we address it.
For now, the focus will be on the Corellian Sector, where things are heating up in a big way.
The basic premise of this storyline is that, if you consider the map, the Northern and Southern halves of the Republic are linked by two hyperspace routes. The first of these is the joint Corellian Trade Spine and Corellian Run routes, which intersect at Corellia. The second is the Hydian Way. With Iseno and Denon grappling with an as-of-yet unexplored conflict, and the Corellian Sector dealing with the Free Corellia movement, the ability to travel safely and securely from one half of the Republic to the other has been left in doubt. With the Republic Fleet stretched thin, a coalition of southerly worlds led by Hosnian Prime have pledged to deploy system defense forces to the troubled Corellian Sector to secure the hyperspace routes linking the Republic together.
We open up this story three months after the events of Chapter I: Instrumentalities of Secession, in which this deployment is still a prospective event. In the present timeframe, 6 ATC, Month 4, Hosnian Prime has deployed its system defense force, the Hosnian Prime Navy, to secure the systems of Plympto and New Plympto, while the worlds of Loronar and Byblos have made a much less aggressive move to secure the Nubia System. These actions have inadvertently sparked a civil war among the Nosaurian population on the planet of New Plympto, and have—to put it lightly—not been well received by the worlds of the Corellian Sector.
Hopefully, this second chapter of A House Divided will provide you with an interesting and exciting setting to play out your characters’ stories, and I look forward to discussing our next steps.
As always, this RP is open to all, and I look forward to seeing new faces join the team as this tale unfolds. Feel free to join the story with existing characters, or submit a Limited-Use Character for the purposes of participating in this RP, which you can find in the Character Submissions tab.
Welcome to A House Divided II: A Little Wrong. I hope you enjoy the story!