Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Sute.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:2:21) in the Coruscant system: Coruscant (Galactic City: Imperial Palace).
Grand Vizier Sate Pestage, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, and Inquisitor Serine Thanor.

Deep within the foreboding halls of the Imperial Palace, Grand Vizier Sate Pestage found himself in a state of infinite brooding. The troublesome daughter of Intelligence Director Armand Isard had manipulated him into reinstating Claudius Rodney as the Regional Governor of the Ringali Shell Oversector and thus far it had been a spectacular failure. The aging man paced back and forth, his purple robes flowing loosely behind him as he considered his next step. Was the younger Isard attempting to make him look foolish or did she have a larger stake in the game of strategy the two often found themselves engaged in? He needed his own presence in the Ringali Shell, and on the recommendation of High Inquisitor Tremayne he had arranged to meet with Serine Thanor, one of the newest Inquisitors. His snarled nose protruded from beneath the ornate hood, scowling into the darkness as he awaited her arrival.

This was quite an honor, but despite the importance of this meeting, Serine was not at all nervous as that emotion rarely tinged her being. However, she was greatly pleased that her accomplishments awarded her an audience with one of the most important leaders in the Empire. As she quickly strode down the halls towards her destination with Pestage, her most recent victories were analyzed in detail within her mind as she scanned her memories for anything that could have been considered a failure. Satisfied, Serine expected this meeting to be fruitful since she could not pinpoint a single occurrence of defeat. Adorned in dark crimson Inquisitor robes, she entered quietly and respectfully into the large circular shaped meeting room and as she did so, her deep grey eyes scanned the man before her, noticing his irate state. Taking note as not to anger him further, she would stand at attention with her arms grasped behind her back until spoken to.

Piecing eyes shrouded beneath the large hood of his robe inspected every detail of the Inquisitor's appearance. She was young and attractive ... a combination that could prove deadly to a man slightly younger than the Grand Vizier. "Inquisitor..." he began, his voice sounding as gnarled as his facial features, as his right arm rose to point a boney finger at her torso. "The words I am about to speak are that of our beloved Emperor..." he warned her, his finger surging towards her in a deliberate poke. "I have a mission of paramount importance that you will undertake..." he began to explain as his left hand signaled to one of the technicians standing at a control panel in the shadows of the expansive chamber.

The Grand Vizier was able to see all aspects of Inquisitor Thanor's face due to her wardrobe noticeably lacking a decorative headpiece that was common on attire of all Inquisitor. She refused to wear that tacky thing, rather allowing long dark sienna hair to cascade down her shoulders. Serine wasn't expecting the other man to touch her, but continued her stance unfazed by the contact as eyes continuously gazed towards him respectfully. Sate may have noticed that there was something additional beneath her robes besides flesh as his fingertip made an indention in much thicker and robust material hidden beneath her attire. At all times Serine wore a modified armorweave suit, wishing to be battle ready at a moments notice even in important formal meetings. "Of course Milord, I am your servant." Serine's loyalty to the Empire was unwavering and would even go so far as to sacrifice herself so that its legacy would forever hold.

The Grand Vizier strode behind the young Inquisitor, his eyes rolling down her backside as he stopped behind her. Each of his hands settled upon the woman's shoulders, squeezing down gently and revealing the decrepit skin that covered most of his body. His face moved forward so that his mouth was only centimeters from her ear as he began to speak. "Are you familiar with the situation in the Ringali Shell, my dear?" he asked her, the words oozing from his mouth as he spoke quietly. "A Rebel insurgency is proving to be a thorn in our side. 'I' intend to pluck it out..." he explained confidently, his tongue slithering from his mouth to gently brush against her ear lobe. "You will be my eyes and ears in the region, my dear," he explained as he finally withdrew his face from her ear.

This meeting was becoming rather... interesting, Serine mused, as this was her first time face to face with the Grand Vizier, and his particular eccentricities were peculiar. She was not at all revolted by his appearance or even the fact that he was physically handling her, though his extreme close proximity was stirring up an rather uncomfortable reeling in the pit of her stomach that she rarely experienced. "I regret that I have not been briefed on the situation, Grand Vizier." Throughout this occurrence, the young Inquisitor was entirely unfazed, but that was until Pestage so delicately licked her ear that caused her to lightly tremble involuntarily due to being so completely caught off guard and... disgusted. Immediately she stiffened her entire body to regain composure if only to prevent the other man from noticing... but perhaps it was too late. If his purpose there was to receive some sort of response from her, then he was successful, if only barely. Her performance was admirable, she would be prepared if a similar situation reoccurred. "I will not fail you, of course."

The Grand Vizier sneered as he pulled his hands away from the woman, satisfied with her reaction. Had she attempted to seduce the man to fulfill her ambition he might have hesitated sending her on a mission of this nature. He needed accurate intelligence and he doubted he would receive it if she chose to betray him and seduce the Admiral. "Time will decide whether or not you fail me, Inquisitor. Not you..." he pointed out with a snicker as he stepped up onto the holographic image projector. "There are times, Inquisitor, when one should be neither seen, nor heard..." he said, clearly indicating he wished for her to remain in the shadows during the events that were about to transpire.

In front of the Grand Vizier the large holographic image of Lord Claudius Rodney, Governor General of the Ringali Shell Oversector, flicked to life. The large blue, semi-transparent image showed the middle-aged Human male looking strong and confident, masking the stress and fatigue he was undergoing so that he might impress the Vizier. The Admiral was unaware of the true purpose of the meeting, and remained justifiably silent until the Vizier spoke.

"Greetings, Lord Rodney..." Sate Pestage began as his eyes carefully examined the holographic image. He viewed the man as an outdated remnant of the Republic military elite, no longer relevant in modern warfare. Were it up to him, Rodney and the men like him would be forced into retirement, but High Command was still dominated by 'generationals' who valued honor and tradition, two virtues that had no place in the Vizier's heart. "I am troubled by the situation in the Ringali Shell..." he began, his voice sounding stern as he addressed the commander. "I am satisfied the extra naval and army forces we have placed under your command will be used..." he said diplomatically, a dishonest smile curling upon his lips as he paused.

"...but?" Claudius Rodney interjected, knowing full well that there was always a 'but'. He had only returned to the Ringali Shell three days ago and already his command was in the thick of combat. High Command had given him twice the manpower that he had previously, enough to handle the insurgency in two sectors, but it seemed the Rebel positions had been reinforced as well. The soft-handed diplomat was perhaps ill-suited for such an assignment, but he would never admit that publicly or privately.

The Grand Vizier lifted his head slightly, attempting to handle the Admiral with his legendary political skills. Unfortunately, the nobleman was no mere lackey he could order to and fro. "I am sending you someone to assist you..." he began, his hands subconsciously intermingling as he watched the man's facial features for any sign of displeasure. "It is a complicated situation in the Ringali Shell and it requires a varied range of opinions to reach a conclusion..." Pestage reasoned, expecting the Admiral's reaction to be one of disdain. "I will be dispatching an Inquisitor to advise you." he said in a cold, calculating voice that lost all of the diplomatic kindness of the previous words ... this was an unmistakable command.

Admiral Rodney's nostrils flared as he heard the words spoken by the Grand Vizier. His eyes opened slightly more wide, and any tiredness he was experiencing was immediately purged from his system. He was now unmistakably awake. "My dear, Vizier..." he began as he lowered his head slightly, his eyes locking on the Grand Vizier. "...while I thank you for the continued support you have given this Oversector..." he said, pausing deliberately as he chose his next words carefully. "...I do not feel the skills of an Inquisitor would be effectively applied in this region," he commented, believing full well the Inquisitor might one day be ordered to execute him.

Serine stood silently within the shadows well from the reach of the holonet as she observed intently the conversation taken place between the two. She found herself in a rather unique position as Rodney was unaware of her eavesdropping, thus giving her undisclosed insight. Inquisitor Thanor pondered the Admiral's situation, surely the ordeals within the Ringali sector must be a severe eyesore to the Grand Vizier for him to send a representative of the Inquisitorous. The transparent image of Claudius was studied with a scrutinizing gaze as she wondered what type of man he was and what errors he had to be making to grab the displeased attention of Pestage.

The Grand Vizier's patience ran thin and he would no longer allow a mere Admiral to dictate terms with him, noble or not. "I feel the skills are uniquely suited for your problem, Admiral..." he explained, his voice growing darker with a tinge if anger. "And as I am Grand Vizier, and you are but a governor, it is my feelings that shall dictate policy..." he commanded, his voice growing louder, the anger overwhelming the man. "Dispatch your best pilot at once. This matter is closed," he ordered, immediately stepping off the holonet projector, which terminated the transmission before the Admiral could speak another word.

Once transmission was broken, the Inquisitor could now freely enter into the more lighted area of the room in order to address Pestage. "Milord, I can see why you desire my expertise in this matter. I assure you that the situation will be addressed and your influence felt." Her voice was concise and words were spoken precisely as she continued to stand at attention, never once easing her stance.

The Grand Vizier had no desire to hear the Inquisitor go into a long diatribe about her expertise and his left hand was almost immediately raised to cease her useless babbling. "You will travel to the Ringali Shell and keenly observe the inner workings of their command structure," he began, as he carefully outlined his mission for her. "There has long been a leak in that command ... close to the top. For some time the Admiral himself was under suspicion, but no matter..." the woman did not need to know about Ysanne Isard's plot to assassinate the man and spared her the details. "Report any discrepancies directly to me. I will accept no further shortcomings from Imperial units stationed in the Ringali Shell..." he commanded her, his eyes going wide as he glared at her from beneath the hood of his robe. "If you have any questions ... you have already failed me," he stated bluntly, turning on his heels with a flourish of his robe as he began to creep back into the shadows.

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