Nervous, eager, determined. The teenage Inquisitor was
all that and more. Dressed in what most had taken for
her normal uniform of black slacks and sleeveless long
style tunic, the dark charcoal grey armorweave jumpsuit
added almost no bulk to her. She wore two lightsabers at
her right hip, and nothing else visible. As she walked
in to the Warspite's hangar, she immediately headed for
the Darkened Oblivion as Serine had insisted, hoping
that Captain Trainor had seen fit to reply.
Captain Randi Trainor had arranged for the Darkened
Oblivion to be made available for Inquisitor Kaen during
their upcoming mission down to Esseles. She was still
bitter over the fact that Inquisitor Thanor had not
allowed her to pilot her on her journey. At least Kia
still valued her as a pilot, and when she saw her enter
the hangar bay her face lit up, and a bright smile came
upon her young, energetic face. "Kia!" she shouted
gleefully, as she puffed her chest in an attempt to look
professional. "I get her powered up and ready for
takeoff," she announced, as she scampered up the ramp
and hurried into the cockpit.
"That's great, Captain. Let's get planetside then." Kia
settled into a seat, she didn't have her usual backpack
with her, that made the young Inquisitor in training
apprehensive but her Master's words rang in her mind,
she was part of a new crowd, she needed to stop acting
like an on the run data specialist.
"Hang on!" Randi announced, as she activated the
controls that would lift the Darkened Oblivion from the
flight deck with a sudden jolt of forward motion.
Despite the regulations prohibiting anything more than
maneuvering thrusters while within the belly of the Star
Destroyer, she began to accelerate with the throttle and
send the Lambda-class shuttle moving dangerously fast
around the other docked craft. After several tense
moments the shuttle emerged from the hangar bay and into
the space surrounding the planet Esseles. "I'll put us
down where they found the shuttle Jelly stole," she
announced, as she began descending towards the capital
city of Calamar. As they entered the atmosphere, guilt
began to fill her mind as she remembered teaching Jelena
how to operate a craft and as a result she felt
partially responsible. It did not take much time, nor
effort, to successfully navigate down through the
planet's atmosphere and touch down in the spaceport.
Kia frowned thoughtfully, she didn't have the same
terror that others seemed to have when being piloted by
the reckless Captain. She was far too lost in her own
thoughts to notice the crew and others scramble out of
the way. The planet below then dominated her thoughts,
and the person she was ordered to... apprehend.
Kia stepped off the shuttle's boarding ramp, this was
the first time she had been back to this too familiar
planet since she had been taken aboard the Warspite. The
place she grew up looked a little alien to her, but she
wasn't here for old times sake or nostalgia. She brought
up the image of the traitor, the woman's features had
been memorized long before reaching the surface. "Stay
here, Randi. You have my comm frequency for
Randi unstrapped herself from the harness that kept her
secure in the cockpit of the shuttle, and she had
prepared to follow Kia off into the spaceport before
being ordered to stop. She slowed so suddenly that her
pigtails swayed back and forth, as if she were about to
get whiplash. Like a child, she kicked her booted foot
against the deckplate, feeling left out once again. "Aww.
I never get to go anywhere," she said in a pout, before
turning back towards the cockpit to wait for further
"I need you here with the ship in case something goes
wrong here." With that the teenager slipped into the
crowd, unaware of the slight bubble that her new
training was affording her. People seemed not to want to
get within a few steps of her. Kia was making her way to
the Imperial garrison to begin the hunt for the traitor,
Tonric had been waiting around the corner for the
correct shuttle. After visual confirmation he kept
moving with the crowds, but always keeping the bounty in
sight. She matched the description, but that uniform
made him wary. Silently he wished the beskar armor was
not so easily recognized. If it was not for the berth
the crowd gave her, he would tranq her now, but
fortunately like every planet there was an easy way to
buy assistance. When she cut through the market one of
the vendors he'd paid off would trip and cause her to
pause, and then give the perfect chance to immobilize
Protocol said she was supposed to check in, but did
those protocols really apply to the Inquisitorius? Kia
was near stalking the streets of her youth, well
childhood, her senses extended around her in a crude,
unpracticed manipulation of the Force to sense dangers
around her. Blue-green eyes swept the familiar market
place, and she fervently hoped no one recognized her.
About halfway down the row, she spotted one of her
favorite vendors, he always had dried fruit treats from
her native Corellia. This was likely to be an annoying
and long process, stopping for a fruit snack wouldn't
mean the difference between capturing the traitor or
not. Her steps slowed to a halt and she dug out a
battered looking credit chip. Scooping up two of the
pama fruit snacks, she offered the chip to him with a
Delan Sartino blinked, he had not been expecting to ever
see the young woman standing at his cart again, he had
heard that she had been killed by the Imperial forces.
He gave her the ghost of a smile, not saying anything,
but setting another fruit snack next to the ones she had
The vendor had done his job drawing Kia in, now his pace
picked up. Eventually Tonric was right behind her tranq
gun in hand, and swings at her neck.
Kia started to turn, her senses alerting her an instant
too late, looking between the vendor and the person who
seemed to be suddenly behind her. The surprised look
that was split between the vendor who had been her
friend for all those years and the masked stranger, she
didn't think to use either lightsaber or the Force, her
mouth opened to call for help as the tranq gun hit the
side of her neck.
Catching the girl as she crumpled to the ground Tonric
looked up to Sartino "Well done old man!" Tonric's
faceplate concealed a smile, silently wishing most jobs
were this easy.
"If you harm her..."
"My bounty will be affected or worse I'll be
imprisoned." Following the statement by tossing a bag of
credits to the pointing finger. Binding hands and feet,
while looking for weapons a pair lightsabers come into
view. A small whistle escapes as Tonric gingerly handle
"It seems she's more volunteer than victim." The weapon
causes Delan to recoil a bit, and start mumbling that
eventually developed into an exclamation "Those are jedi
Ignoring the babbling merchant, Tonric sighs and looks
down "You're not gonna be an easy job are you?" Wiping
away the small bit of drool from the cheek and slinging
her over the shoulder he begins to walk back to the
ship. "Docking bay 75, this is Captain Serev and I'd
like my ship cleared for launch." The curt but formal
voice seems to draw some ire from the engineer on the
"We're still installing the latest upgrades to your FTL,
if you don't want it we'll take out all the parts, but
don't expect a refund"
Tonric just rolled his eyes, Toydarians good engineers,
but the worst species to deal with. "Alright I'm wiring
another 5K credits your way, I want it done in an hour."
The Toydarian's voice carries a little obsequious smile
over the link "Very good, we'll get it done Mr. Serev."
"Good it'd be tragic if you started disappointing
customers." Tonric severs the link before Chuvlak can
respond. Eventually he makes it back to the docking bay.
Finally he saw the black and silver of the Shrike. The
ship he had won in combat was a distant memory, in ways
sad to see the final piece of his clan gone, but in
other ways a relief to have a proper battlecraft. With
that FTL enhancement he could jump on a dime. Something
every bounty hunter appreciated. Then a loud growl drew
his eyes, "Hey Sirrick." The Sand Wolf was his only
partner a cunning beast that he had saved as a pup from
the clutches of a Hutt's cook. It had cost him a pretty
penny but Sirrick was invaluable at tracking. His three
eyes could see at different frequencies, follow scents
through almost any environment, and bite into solid
metal. The tawny coat meant he couldn't camouflage
beyond the desert but enough bodies had been left in the
beasts wake that Tonric did not worry about that
anymore. It also helped that he liked to be scratched
behind the ears. "Got our bounty boy!" Sirrick almost
seemed to grin at that. Before walking in he tossed the
expectant wolf a small treat. "If Chuvlak tries to
squeeze me again, eat him" That got a wag out of him.
"For now help watch her." Trotting behind him, while
Tonric lays Kia out in the prison cell taking extra care
to remove all subtle and obvious weapons. "If she breaks
out knock her out, don't rip her throat out." Finally
deciding he was done investigating, and set off to find
the supplies he had ordered.
The teenager was a dead weight, Kia had finally started
getting to what Serine considered a normal weight for a
teenager, mostly muscles from the time spent training
with both Sanu and her Master, currently under the
effects of the paralytic poison in the tranq, she let
out a small whimper as she was dumped unceremoniously in
the prison cell aboard the ship, she had not even had
time to get a message to Randi, hopefully the woman
would realize something was wrong when she didn't show
back up in a few hours. Hopefully.
An hour of loading the ship and hearing raunchy
Toydarian jokes Tonric felt more than ready to leave.
Mentally running through his list: Foodstuffs for him,
Kia, and Sirrick, more tranquilizers, more ship laser
ammunition, sent off the communiqué to Corellia, and
acquired some sonic grenades. Happy with it, he took
some time to investigate Chuvlak's work.
"You don't trust me?"
"Nope, you remember that time my turrets shorted out
because the batteries you sold me were used?"
Chuvlak gave a very loud swallow and rubbed at the white
scar across his throat. "No I haven't, is why I give you
a good deal all the time"
Tonric stopped to smile at the weasely Toydarian and
smiled. "Well done, here's an extra thousand to erase
the record of me docking here."
Chuvlak looked like he wanted to argue but shut up when
Tonric's eyes took on a malicious quality. "Is done
Tonric pats a leathery cheek and makes for the cockpit.
Pulling away from the dock and making jump with FTL as
soon as he could.
It had been *hours* past the time that Kia was supposed
to have been back aboard the shuttle, no emergency comms
had come through, no distress beacons had been
Randi had spent the past eight hours in the cockpit of
the Darkened Oblivion listening to music, as she
struggled to pass the time. She found boredom to be
insufferable and she much rather would have gone with
Kia to look for Jelena, or been back aboard the Star
Destroyer. Suddenly her blue eye became transfixed on
the chronometer and she realized exactly how much time
had actually taken place. "She should be back by now,"
she said to herself, as she began to activate the comm
frequency Kia had instructed her to use. "Kia? Kia?" she
asked repeatedly over the comm, but to her dismay she
received an alert that she was out of range. She froze
for a moment as she considered her options ... Serine was
gone and the Grand Moff was too focused on his daughter
to do anything to look for the Inquisitor. It was up to
The most obvious path to the garrison, where Kia should
have went was through the Marketplace, which even at the
later hours was still rather busy. Plenty of shops and
carts were still open that could be questioned, or the
garrison was where Kia should have been headed to check
in. Including a small exotic fruits vendor who did not
seem very keen on shouting his wares.
Randi stuck out like a sore thumb as she moved from the
spaceport into the marketplace. Her black Imperial
uniform immediately identified her as a member of the
Galactic Empire, and the non-Humans present were less
than cordial to her. She looked over the array of
vendors with her blue eyes, looking for any sign of
Inquisitor Kaen, but there was none to be seen. In her
left hand she held a small, handheld holo projector that
contained a representation of Inquisitor Kaen. One by
one she went down the line of vendors asking if anyone
had seen her, mostly with limited results, until she
arrived at the exotic fruit vendor.
Delan Sartino looked up from his cleaning, obviously
closing his cart for the evening. The older gentleman
had a fringe of salt and pepper hair and kindly sea blue
eyes. "Ah, I am sorry. I have already closed for the
evening, miss. Please forgive me. I do hope to see you
"Just a moment," Randi said to the man, as she ignored
his statement, and pushed forward towards him. "Have you
seen this girl?" she asked, as she lifted the small
projector and showed him a rotating image of Inquisitor
Kaen. Instead of looking at the man, her eyes lingered
on the fruit ... she had not eaten during her long stay in
the cockpit of the shuttle. "Mmm," she murmured softly,
as she moved her other hand to grab a piece of fruit,
while she waited for the man to reply.
Delan looked at the young upstart of an Imperial with
indignation. "Those are not free, *miss*." His attention
then went back to the holoprojector, recognition
lighting in his eyes even as he shook his head. "She
looks much as any teenager from around here. Is she
Randi paused for a moment, thinking over her past
conversations with Inquisitor Thanor, and decided to try
something that was decidedly out of character. "Think of
it as a display of loyalty to the Emperor!" she said
menacingly, before bringing the fruit to her mouth and
taking a large bite that caused the juice to squirt all
over her face. It was a humorous attempt by the young
woman to seem menacing. "Yeah. She's missing. So, you
seen anything?" she asked, spitting out fragments of
fruit, juice, and spittle as she continued to talk to
him while eating.
Delan looked less than pleased at the young woman's
comments, frowning deeply at her. "I am sorry to hear
she is missing. Have you filed a missing person report
at the Garrison?" Something in his tone was off, he kept
looking back at the holo almost regretfully. "I have
not, miss. If you don't mind, I am trying to close my
cart for the evening." He looked from Randi back to the
holo and shook his head slightly.
As Randi finished devouring the fruit, she allowed the
pit to fall to the ground, as she tried to exert more of
her dominant personality. She could sense something was
off with the merchant, but then again something was
usually off with her as well. "You sure you don't know
something?" she asked again, her head tilting slightly
as she more closely examined he man. "Look more
closely!" she demanded, as she held the holo image of
the young Kia directly in front of the merchant's face.
Delan looked at the image then down at the pama fruit
snacks, "She was here earlier this afternoon. You are
too late to go after her, he said he wouldn't harm her
if I helped him. I thought she was dead..." His voice
sounded infinitely sad.
"Who is *he*?" Randi asked as she reached for the DH-17
holstered on her side. "By the authority of Inquisitor
Thanor you are under arrest!" she announced, as her hand
pulled the weapon up towards Delan. Unfortunately for
her, the glove was slippery from the residue of the
fruit, and she could not maintain a steady grip on the
weapon. "Oh no!" she exclaimed, as the weapon slipped
from her grasp and fell to the ground below. Upon impact
with the ground the weapon misfired, sending off a
deadly blast of crimson energy heading towards Delan's
Delan looked shocked as the weapon fell, then a look of
horror spread across his face as the weapon went off,
sending a blast of energy into his left shin at point
blank range. He shrieked in pain as he fell, upsetting
the cart as he tried to grab for some support.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" a panicked Randi screamed as she
witnessed the poor man get shot by her errant blaster
pistol. It was then that a squad of Imperial
Stormtroopers arrived on the scene, having been on
patrol, and heard the unmistakable sound of blaster
fire. When she saw them approaching, she immediately did
her best to stand at attention and look as professional
and authoritative as possible. "This man is under
arrest! Bring him to my shuttle," she announced, with a
commanding nod that caused her pigtails to bounce up and
down repeatedly. The troopers approached Delan, and
without much care for his wellbeing or regard, grabbed
him by the shoulders and proceeded to drag him towards
Delan's leg was mangled, and burnt, the shock of the
wound sending the poor old man into an unconscious
stupor as he was roughly drug from the marketplace back
to the waiting transport.
Randi felt out of her expertise in dealing with matters
such as this, but she was confident she could find
someone properly equipped to deal with this aboard the
command ship. She kept four of the Stormtroopers with
her on the shuttle to guard the prisoner, who was
fastened into a harness in the rear compartment of the
shuttle. "If only Serry was here..." she muttered to
herself, as she strapped herself into the cockpit. She
frowned dejectedly, genuinely worried about Kia, as she
began the process of flying the shuttle back to the
Warspite. She just hoped she would not be held
responsible for the lost teenager.
Interrogations had never
been her thing. Captain Serra Eona much preferred field
work to such methods, if only because they required more
spontaneous planning and immediate, creative problem
solving. She enjoyed challenges. In truth, the challenge
of a difficult assignment was perhaps one of the very
few things that gave her any sort of pleasure in life.
Interrogations were a math problem by comparison, almost
algebraic; pick a few options and plug them in to see
what produced the desired solution. Boring, tedious
work, but necessary. She'd requested the prisoner be
transferred to an interrogation cell and strapped to a
table, arms and legs spread. It was a medical table, not
unlike the one Serine had used; they were, after all,
common place in this sort of thing. It would be a full
twenty-four hours after he was placed on the table that
she would come in. No food, no water, the table at an
angle that forced him to support himself or risk
snapping his wrists on the restraints. No contact, of
course; the first person he would see after being left
there would be Serra herself, walking through the door
in her uniform, hatless as usual. She waited for it to
shut behind her, the room lit with a single, narrow beam
that illuminated the table. It made it rather difficult
to see her, though the brief flicker of fire followed by
the glowing ember of her cigarra made it easier. After a
drag and a puff of smoke, she stepped forward, her cold,
apathetic eyes focusing on his. "Delan Sartori. A simple
man, with a simple living, who made a simple mistake.
Correct that mistake, and you can save us both a lot of
time. The option is yours." She took another drag,
letting the exhale wash over his face.
Delan coughed repeatedly,
the smoke only adding to the stress he was feeling, he
had long since given up trying to free himself from the
table, and barely seemed to have the strength needed to
keep his wrists from breaking. "Pl-please, I didn't know
what he was ... going to do. I thought Kia was dead! I
swear I didn't know..." He was rambling, this was
obviously not a hardened criminal, he probably had never
even been off of Esseles in his entire life, he was also
trembling like a leaf in a high wind.
Serra sighed. The man was
going on like he was making sense, like any of what he
was saying made a difference at all. "I can see I'm
going to need to make this simple. Alright." She let a
hand slip out, the cigarra balanced between her lips as
she took hold of his own hand with her gloved one. It
was an almost tender touch. "The name of the one who
took Kia." Her hand shifted ever so slightly, fingers
moving to one of his own...and with a small and sudden
movement, she snapped the finger backwards, giving a
twist that tore bone from socket.
His shriek filled the
room, and didn't stop for a few minutes, he was panting
and looked like he was about to throw up even though he
had nothing to throw up. "I don't *know*! I don't ...
please I don't know. He was a Mandalorian! A bounty
hunter. He never.. never told me a name." Delan looked
down to his hand and the now broken finger, white
showing all around his eyes as he tried to not pass out,
fearing what he'd wake up to.
Serra kept her hand with
his, idly toying with the broken finger while her other
rose to take control of the cigarra, from which she took
another drag. "I see. It's well known that Mandalorians
often customize their armor, so why don't you describe
it for me. In detail. If you know what sort of ship he
has, feel free to include that information as well." Her
hand slipped to his middle finger now, cradling it in
her grasp, but not yet doing anything unpleasant to it.
Delan began to babble
again, going on in detail about the various bits and
colors on the bounty hunter's armor, he had only ever
seen the man three times, so it was a little bit of a
sketchy description, but good enough that if he was
seen, he'd be recognized, he was staring at his middle
finger, hoping this crazy woman was not going to break
Serra took it all in, his
rambling words being recorded of course but also
committed to the Intel Officer's memory. It wasn't the
best she'd ever heard, but the man was giving it up
pretty freely, and given his obvious nervousness and
fear, she had little reason to suspect he was trying to
hide anything. She didn't break his finger yet, instead
keeping it resting within her grip for the time being.
"Where is he taking her?" This answer, if he knew it,
might be somewhat more difficult to pry free, but she
was prepared to retrieve it by whatever means necessary.
"I think Corellia! That's
what it was for wasn't it? Kia's family ... please ...
just let me go home ... I won't say a word about this.
Any of it." He was still shivering, but a blind person
would be able to see he was telling the truth.
The family. Of course it
was the family. As soon as he said it, a slight hint of
disappointment crossed her features. Kia had not handled
this, and now it was in the hands of Imperial
Intelligence. It was precisely what Serra had warned her
about...and now it was coming to fruition. "I see.
You're positive this is tied to the family, then? Do you
know this for a certainty?" She released his finger.
There was no need to terrorize the man further, he was
speaking quite freely as it was. Serra wasn't a fan of
prolonged suffering when it could be avoided.
Delan seemed to relax
just a bit as her attention left his hand, nodding his
head rapidly, "I remember him saying Corellia! Kia loves
pama fruits from there, it's a native fruit. I would get
it for her when she was little, and she kept buying it
from me, always overpaying me, especially in the slow
seasons. Good girl." he was babbling ... again.
"She is a good girl.
That's the problem." Serra assumed Kia had some hand in
her grandparents believing that she was still alive. Why
would they continue with this search if not for some
hope of their grandchild's continued existence? It could
just be blind faith, of course. Either way, though, they
were still clearly a problem. The death certificate
hadn't been enough and therefore more overt methods
would be necessary. Serra would have to consult Serine
first, but that did not mean she could not put the gears
in motion. "Thank you for your cooperation. May your
life in the force be more peaceful than your life among
the living." She could offer some kind condolences,
right? Either way, she drew the concealed blaster pistol
and, with skilled and swift movements, brought it to his
head and fired. Whatever protests he might have offered
were simply ignored.
Delan realized what was
about to happen the instant before the blaster came up,
he thrashed in the confines of the table as the blaster
fired, and it was eerily silent in the interrogation
room, as Delan was no more.
Serra holstered the
pistol and stared at the body for a moment, eyes focused
mostly on the burnt hole through his forehead. She
looked down at her cigarra, then, taking a long, slow
drag. The smoke rested in her lungs for a moment before
rolling past her lips. She tucked the cigarra into
Delan's pants pocket, patting it a couple of times to
put out the cherry, then turned to leave the room. There
was work to do.
Kia woke up in stages, dimly remembering that she had
been on the planet's surface, looking for someone...Jelena...that
was who she was supposed to be looking for. Where was
she now? A cell...somewhere. She tried rolling over and
found herself unable to move much further than where she
was, a quick glance down showed the cuffs securing her
wrists and another further down showed the same
restraints on her ankles, and recollection flooded her.
Esseles, the fruit vendor, the armored person, and being
hit with some type of tranquilizer. Red hot anger swept
through her, erasing the last vestiges of the poisons in
her system. "Hey! Let me out of here! If you want this
poorly designed, scrap heap of bolts in out piece, let
me out! I demand you release me at once!" shouting at
the prison cell did not seem to be working. Sure it was
likely being monitored. She glared at the Sand wolf, "Go
tell your keeper to get his sorry armored ass down here
and let me out!" A gnawing fear was starting to creep in
at the edges of the anger, she knew why a Bounty Hunter
would be after her and not Jelena. She couldn't let him
take her back to Corellia.
He was enjoying maintaining his armor and weaponry when
the ruckus echoed through the halls of his ship.
Polishing and dismantling lethal weapons was a
meditative, but the trance failed to take effect when
Sirrick padded in, ears flattened against his skull.
"Was it the pitch of her voice or do you want me to go
down." Three cerulean eyes stared down the mirth, and
eventually stepped aside. "Very well, let's see what the
little murdering heiress has to say." Tonric marched
down the steps and met Kia's glaring eyes unconcerned.
"In the future you may not want to insult a ship.
Captains less practical than me might jettison your
prison cell into space." Tonric deftly tossed a remote
from hand to hand play acting it's fall on the big red
button. (A little sadistic smile crossed his features if
Kia involuntarily flinches.) Coming closer but still out
of arm's reach to the cell and squatting at eye level he
continues "So what did you want to talk about?"
"It's not up for discussion! You are going to let me
*out* of this cage right now. *Then* you are going to
turn around and return me to the Warspite. Or face the
wrath of the Inquisitorius." She certainly sounded full
enough of herself, anger blazed behind the blue-green
eyes, and she had rolled up to at least somewhat sit
against the wall of the cell. Kia's eyes followed the
remote at the mention of jettisoning her cell into
space, her chin coming up to stare daggers at him. "You
... wouldn't dare. You went after me, not Jelena, that
means you are taking me back to my misguided family ...
and endangering more than you could possibly comprehend!
You will not be taking me back to Corellia. You will be
taking me back to the Warspite. If you do this, I'll pay
you double what the price on me is. I *really* don't
want to go back to Corellia." The teenager did flinch at
his toying with the button that would presumably kill
her. "You don't get paid if you kill me. You also don't
want to know what happens if I go to Corellia."
"This counts as a discussion, my dear. The Inquisitorius
no matter how vast or mighty won't expend endless
resources for my capture. Certainly not after the Death
Star's demise." The snarking smile met with a favorable
reaction. Lying back and pouring some Corellian whiskey
from a flask before he continued shrugging off her
demands. There was a moment of satisfaction when she
flinched primarily because it told him that while she
had lightsabers she wasn't a suicidal warrior, but still
in part a child. "No idea who this Jelena is but if you
intended to murder her that could be worth something,
thank you. Always good to acquire profitable
information. As for your bounty I wouldn't consider
anything short of triple. The extra amount is going to
be used for hiding from that overreaching band of
merchant thieves you call relatives." Before addressing
her final demands Tonric paused to see her reaction.
"You *obviously* don't know who you're dealing with, or
you wouldn't have even bothered capturing me in the
first place. Jelena Rodney is the target you should have
been going after, as a loyal subject of the Galactic
Empire in service to his Majesty, Emperor Palpatine. She
is a traitor and a defector to the Rebel Alliance. I
didn't intend on murdering anyone! I was sent to bring
her back for trial." Kia just glowered at him, she'd
done her research on her family and they were far from
thieving merchants. "Awww. Did they wefuse to fix your
wittle ship? So you got hurt fewwings?" She had shifted
her tone to seem like she was talking to a child, "It's
a piece of scrap anyways. I would have refused to fix it
"I know you're an apprentice of the Inquisitorius, I
know you have jedi sabers, I know you either had a hand
in their deaths or chose not care about them, I know you
are worth a lot of money, and I know..." Pausing to move
his thumb to the button. "That I don't care if you kill
every single one of your family members. What you are
offering would mean no other client could trust me to
fetch a bounty, and I would never be able to work in any
civilized sector again. As for Jelena's allegiance why
would I care. His majesty 'Emperor Palpatine' is nothing
but a Sith who seized power. Like every Sith lord before
him he'll fall, it's in their nature. The fact that his
cohorts are turning against him is already a sign of his
demise." Taking a long drink and feeling the golden
liquid's tingling effect in every inch of his body,
ending with a relaxed sigh. "Finally a trial? Is that
you call an execution hearing these days?" The last
comments were amusing, but still irritating "My ship was
never broken, just got an upgrade, and while I have no
doubt you could fix a speeder; what makes you think you
can fix Mandalorian tech?"
"Correct, I am. Incorrect, one of the sabers is from an
arrogant fool who blew himself up instead of facing
death like an actual Jedi, the other was..." she paused
for a moment trying to think of the correct word,
"...presented to me. It is the saber of someone long
dead. Guess you don't know *everything* huh?" Kia's
comment had the implied threat of sticking her tongue
out in verbal sparring. She did not actually ... but the
tone was certainly there. "As for my being worth a lot
of money... I'm set to inherit an entire shipyard, duh?"
The teenager bit her lip seeing the threat of being
turned into space dust again, "Ok ... how about this, so
you don't break your precious 'honor'. Let me hire you
... and let me out of this cell." She seemed to be
calming down a little now that it seemed inevitable that
she was going to end up on Corellia anyways.
"Yes, a trial. She is a traitor, even traitors get
trials before they are sentenced." So she was still a
little tiny bit naive when it came to some things...
"Even if she's executed, she attacked people aboard an
Imperial Star Destroyer." The comment about the ship
just getting upgraded got a genuine laugh out of the
teenager, "Oh... Oh! What did they do? Let me guess ...
you don't have to turn a handle to lower the ramp now?
Seriously, I could design something better than this in
my *sleep*. I probably *have*." Her focus turned inwards
for a moment, she had given him ample chances to remove
the cuffs, she had even asked *nicely*. The anger that
she'd felt at being betrayed by the fruit vendor, and at
this Mandalorian for shooting her full of tranquilizers,
was more than enough fuel for her concentration on the
Darkside of the Force. Her danger sense may have been
shoddy, but she had a fine tuned control over her
abilities with telekinesis. A few gentle probes with the
Force and the cuffs around her wrists and ankles
clattered loudly to the floor of the cell, kicking them
towards the door of the cell angrily. A dark shadow
seemed to take residence behind those previously amused
blue-green eyes. She had the look of someone who had
killed, even if she seemed far too young for it. "I'll
ask again, let me out of this cell, and we can talk.
Properly. Who knows there might even just be an actual
upgrade in it for you, if you keep your end of the
bargain. Kia opened her mouth, closed it, thinking about
her words then started again, "If you had a choice,
would you choose a quick death at the hands of someone
you thought you could trust or a slow tortured death at
the hands of complete assholes, who like hurting people
to prove a point and to teach lessons to initiates,
which would you choose, that's the choice you've given
me by taking me back to Corellia. You already signed
their death certificates by sending that communication.
It's either me or the Citadel that will be faced with
that decision. We had everything planned out. The death
notification to them, 'proof' that I was gone." The
darkness faded from behind her eyes as she released the
Force, drawing her knees up to her chest, and actually
seeming more like the teenager she was. "I'll hire you
for the triple you wanted, plus designs for a new ship
if you'd like, and you collect the money from my fam-
from the Kaen's for my safe return. All you have to do
is not leave me on Corellia. Stay in the spaceport until
I come back to the ship." It wasn't said in a
threatening or even malicious tone, more resigned and
Tonric cursed inwardly, and made a hasty decision. "No
thank you." Finally pushing the red button and...nothing.
There was no dramatic hiss and scream enveloped by the
vacuum of space. Just nothing. "Never. Ever. Trust a
Toydarian." Crushing the remote and allowing the
fragments to spill between his fingers, his eyes met
Kia's down the barrel of a hand blaster. "Can you use
the force before I laser your brains against the wall?"
There was no menace or malice, it sounded like a genuine
Her blue-green eyes had gone almost a big as saucers
when she saw him push the button on the remote, "Hey!
What the hell! I just wanted the cuffs off! Ass!" Kia
was glowering up at him, before realizing he was now
pointing a blaster at her head. "You are a total ass you
know that!? I hope your rust bucket falls apart after we
get to Corellia!" She was terrified he was going to
shoot her and that was bleeding into her tone. "I'm just
starting to learn about dissipating energy, but I
probably could enough to make *your* job harder if you
want to kill me, ass."
"Your dossier never mentioned Force powers all my
clients are informed that unknown parameters may justify
terminating the target. So again you perceive malice
where there is none, just pragmatism. It's amazing how
few people grasp the difference." The tone was even and
calm, but Tonric honestly wished he had brought a sonic
grenade, the Force could not deflect sound. Sirrick was
still on the stairs but he was tensed to pounce if she
got through the bars. "You keep calling it a rust
bucket? That's just rude, I am surprised your trainers
don't discipline you more often, and thank you it's good
to know that I could overwhelm you with a barrage."
Tonric normally didn't have to play with intimidation
this hard, but clearly this girl had little fear for
death or perhaps just a complete lack of sense. As he
mused a plan began to take shape. "What if there was a
way to get us both what we want?"
"My dossier says what it needs to. It's not malice to
disregard someone offering you money and try to space
them!? That's mean! I may be rude but you're an ass. I
*asked* you to remove the cuffs. Nicely. Repeatedly.
Master Thanor would be disappointed I hadn't reduced you
to a pile of armor shaped pieces on the floor, I'm not
quite as blood-thirsty as she can be though, not
usually. Had you done as I had asked, I wouldn't have
had to use the Force to remove the cuffs. You'll notice
I haven't *moved* towards the door of the cell. I don't
want to get shot. That really *really* hurts." Kia had
not moved much to be honest. "Compared to the ships I've
helped design, and the modifications I know I could do
to this ship, just from the limited amount I've seen of
it. It's a rust bucket. As for discipline. Sugar, you
wouldn't know the first thing about it." After living
with or in close proximity to Serine and Sanu the last
few months, there were not many things that could
actually frighten her. She was more scared of being shot
than the person holding the weapon. "Oh ... you mean
like the plan I already laid out for you? Yeah. I think
I'd like a way for both of us to get what we want. You
rewind time and don't shoot me full of a paralytic
poison, and tell the Kaen's their granddaughter is dead
and they need to move on. Ohhh wait ... you can't do
that, can you? What is your grand scheme anyways?"
Tonric never lowered the blaster, but kept his finger
off the trigger...for now "I can report your death. You
don't have to kill your family with a falsified video,
and enough DNA they won't look twice through the tears."
Tonric didn't wait for her to interrupt "In exchange I
want triple your bounty, repairs to my ship, and those
upgrades you mentioned." Slowly lowering the blaster and
seemingly lost in thought he quickly added "Also the
Toydarian that screwed me with this upgrade! He plays
both sides of the war. Who knows what he could tell you!
Hell I'll even help you bring him in."
Kia stared unblinking up at him from where she was
sitting. " I don't care about some shady Toydarian
giving bad repairs. Esseles isn't my concern anymore."
Her gaze went to the blaster as it lowered. "So you
think you can fake my death better than Imperial
Intelligence? Seems rather cocky of you." She crossed
her arms atop her knees, "I will not involve the
Inquisitorius in paying your additional cost. In return
for the repairs and upgrades, you will help me hunt down
Jelena, since you are the reason I'm not doing my
mission, that seems fair. Unless you'd like to explain
to my Master why I'm not following out her orders? I'm
also not spending anymore time in this.. cell. I want my
weapons returned. Please."
"The Toydarian is a potential informant, something you
should start collecting if you want to have a career in
the Inquisitorius, or are you planning on begging for
scraps from your teachers?" Tonric's patience had frayed
and Kia's following comments were sharpening his voice.
"I think your death gives you more options than outright
murder, and will your business last if no one will trade
with you? As for Jelena handle your own assignments. I
think your Master would focus more on your capture than
on the one who returned you. Your weapons will be yours
when I see the back of you not before."
"The Toydarian broke something on your ship. Something
you felt you needed. Yet you would be willing to trust
his information?" The teenager finally moved, pushing
herself to her feet, and making a show of straightening
her tunic, and checking the rest of her outfit. "How I
run a business is no concern of yours. As for begging. I
have never begged for anything in my life. I don't plan
to start now." Satisfied that her clothes were in place,
Kia stood with her back straight, staring into the
faceplate of the bounty hunters armor. "I'll repeat it
more slowly for you. I ... am trying ... to hire ...
you. Standing contract. I will pay you credits. You will
help me with jobs if I need it. One of those jobs is
Kia's voice returned to normal and she gave him a half
grin. "Right now, my treatment is all that stands
between death and a prosperous future for you. So I will
ask again. Let me out of this cell, and return my
weapons. Please. The sooner you do. The sooner I can
start fixing this thing that you call a ship.."
Tonric holstered the blaster and tossed one lightsaber
to her "You can have one. The other stays hidden. Final
offer, and if you want effective employees it'd be good
to start building a network. Oh and if you continue to
use that obnoxious tone, I will kill you, slice you into
strips, and save credits on Sirrick's food. Apart from
that it'd be good to have a reliable employer and get
the upgrades I need. Consider me your first employee."
Tonric releases the cell doors and offers a hand to Kia.
"One will do for now." Kia stepped forward catching the
hilt from the air with a slight scowl. She shifted it
from hand to hand testing the familiar weight. She
wouldn't activate it until she had a chance to ensure it
hadn't been tampered with. "I know how to run a company,
you keep assuming that because of age or something that
I don't. It's a bit annoying. If you are my first
'employee' who the hell are you anyways?" Ignoring the
offered hand, she stepped out of the cell, giving him an
imperious scowl. "I don't see why you are against my
resolution to this problem? I don't want the Citadel to
get a hold of them, this is your fault by by the way.
You sent them a message. You ruined all of that
planning." Giving the cell another dubious look, "do you
have a spare body lying around? Or are you planning on
using me for this farce? I can probably find footage I
could use to edit..."
"Glad we have an agreement." Watching her running a
basic test for tampering. "Don't tell me CEO is another
skill in your arsenal? I make assumptions because you
act based on your age instead of the station and role
you have been given." Tonric says this without malice or
patronizing. Sighing when the inevitable question of his
origin came around. "I was the son of nomads who found
purpose in the legacy of the best mercenaries the galaxy
has known, and that is all I will say." Setting down the
hand, but keeping the stun function active just in case.
"I object to implicating my ship with serial murders,
among my other objections." Facing Kia's eyes before
continuing and allowing Sirrick to wander to her back.
"What would the Citadel do? My fault that you joined an
organization whose price was your sycophancy, and your
choice to ineffectively sever the ties to your past they
would inevitably exploit?" Wondering what she saw in her
former prison Tonric rolled his eyes at the following
statement, "Yes follow me to my freezer of preserved
bounties I use in the event of low funds. As for footage
trust me I have plenty you can use."
"You keep 'preserved' bounties? That's gross! I have
been selling my inventions since I was eleven. So yeah.
I know how to run a company through a proxy. It's not
*that* difficult." Kia continued to shift the lightsaber
hilt from hand to hand almost in a nervous gesture.
"You're weird for a bounty hunter. Why do you care if I
kill people? I'd rather kill them than let them be taken
and then forced to kill them for the whims of the
Citadel Inquisitorius. Doing something on on my terms.
Not theirs, save them from possibly years of torture
until I'm ready for my next trials..." Kia let out an
irritated huff, "I didn't *know* they were looking for
me! I told Master Thanor that. I told Captain Serra
that. Now you. I'm just going to record me saying it."
She continued grumbling for a moment and then looking
around the hold. "What do you need from me for your
little scheme? Good job answering but not answering my
question. If I'm paying you. I want to know your name."
A drawn out sigh joined his sarcastic response "There is
no flesh locker, have you never heard of sarcasm or do
they train that out of you in the Inquisitorius."
Leading her to the video archives of past bounties "That
explains how you're going to afford me, and be wary of
proxies they might overthrow you." Tonric kept the
sensors in his helm active if that saber went off,
Sirrick and he would know it. "I like to think of myself
as a pragmatic professional. It has been an invaluable
state of mind. As for who you kill, it doesn't matter
but the effect on me would be rather immediate when
investigations connect my ship to the crime scene.
Furthermore your family may be one of the few allies you
have; best not to burn bridges if you need one to run
across. Also don't most Inquisitors die because they are
so isolated?" Shuffling through the holo bytes of data
until he found the tapes, and stepping aside to let Kia
see. "Not my proudest moment, but a learning
experience." The Corellian woman had been unleashing
kick after kick on the beskar plate, and while the
impact was reduced Tonric still remembered how difficult
it was to get up. Eventually he grabbed her ankle
stunned her, and snapped the bitch's neck. The bounty
had been pitiful but completed. In the end that's what
clients depended on. Dead or Alive was an
afterthought...to most. "Whatever works for you, my dear.
Now to make this work we need some excellent video
manipulation and internal wear and tear. As for the name
call me Tonric."
"Oh. Well how was I supposed to know that? You're the
one who kidnapped a teenager off a crowded street for
money. You might have had a flesh locker." She still had
not activated the lightsaber, "Since I'm going to be
paying you.. tampering with a lightsaber is dangerous,
do I need to give this back so you can remove any little
surprises? As for the proxy, it's a droid I rebuilt or
refurbished." She remembered what Serine had said about
one of her trials, "I'm afraid one way or another three
fates are sealed. If it's me that kills them, I can buy
out the company legitimately and absorb it into what I
already have. If the Citadel gets to them first, they
will destroy it all. That's all they know. Pardon me for
not wanting everything of my past destroyed. I was
trying to save what I could." Kia followed him to the
video archive, and watched the video in near silence.
"Sketchy, but I can work with it. I need my datapad
back, and holonet access to remote into my system on the
Warspite. And a few hours to work. If you don't mind,
please." She was at least attempting to not order him
"If I was truly that macabre would you still have a
tongue or be able to walk around for that matter?
Runaway family members are usually the easiest bounties,
you'd be surprised how often we get hired for it."
Stepping aside to let her get closer. "As for your saber
only thing I did was polish it, I don't tamper with tech
unless I have a basic understanding." Silently watching
her reactions to the video and twinging slightly as he
remembered bruised ribs and battered groin. "Smart move
on the proxy, and I'm sorry to hear that." There was a
genuine touch of regret in his voice, Tonric hated when
his actions led to unforeseen consequences, largely
because they tended to be explosive, but this was just
unpleasant. "Was that mindset taught or did you always
have the ability to be that...calculating? Good maybe this
will buy your family time, and take all the time you
need." Turning the corner and unlocking the holonet, but
running the signal through his helmet to monitor
activity. Last thing he needed was the Inquisitorius
coming down on his head. If she fully intended to do it
as soon as possible likely he'd need to provide sniper
support. The circumstances were unpleasant but something
inside Tonric grinned at wielding his favorite weapon.
Kia dropped into the seat at the holonet receiver, and
her fingers began tapping a quick cadence, entering a
complex authentication key. Within moments she was tied
into her system aboard the Warspite, she was speaking
while typing, copying programs into his local drive that
she would need. "Growing up as an orphan on a world
driven by designs and research taught me that mind set."
She was switching through screens and programs at a
blurring pace even if she were trying anything funny it
was not likely to be clear. "I don't have to go through
this trouble, it won't implicate you. All you would have
done is your job. As distasteful as it is. What happened
after wouldn't be any of your doing. If wouldn't be your
fault the bounty you dropped off took matters into her
own hands once you were clear. All I'm asking you to do
is wait for me in Tyrena." It sounded like a genuine
request, something she knew had to be done whether or
not it would hurt her. "Do you mind if I include a
message to Captain Serra to let her know that I am
relatively unharmed?" She had finished copying the
programs she needed, but was looking over her shoulder,
she wasn't underhanded enough to try and bring troops
down on them.
Tonric understood an orphan's mindset, his clan had kept
the identity of parents a secret and taught that the
clan's survival and wealth was there beginning and end.
All the adults saw to them, but none admitted parentage.
Ironically that distance led to Tonric's departure.
Scavenging scrap was hard miserable work. If he was to
live and die better with scars and fortunes on his
hands. Absentmindedly he watched and listened, at least
his new employer owned the skills she claimed. Hard
locking the transmission and records of reporting the
bounty before responding to her request. "Understood
Inquisitor, do what needs to be done. Also should I just
call you Kia?"
Kia motioned him over as she composed the message to
Captain Serra, it was short, to the point and very plain
spoken. She knew trust was something to be built not
demanded: "Captain Serra, I've found the need to make a
slight detour from my mission, please inform the
Warspite that I am not in immediate danger, and will be
returning to Esseles at the conclusion of the personal
matter I have to attend to. -Apprentice Inquisitor Kia
Kaen" She took a moment, then nodded, sending the brief
message before completely logging off, and closing out
the console. "I'll leave the editing software here in
case it's needed. Please resume course to Corellia. As
for what to call me. Inquisitor Kaen will do." Kia
blinked again, a flicker of a sad smile crossing her
"As you wish Inquisitor Kaen." The words touched her
face, and twisted the features for a moment, but went
on. Politics aside Tonric did not relish the thought of
the Inquisitorius trying to take command of him. Even if
Kia objected her superiors might not care, either
distance or insurance would have to be kept. Silently
Tonric decided to employ both. Going over the edits she
made Tonric appreciated the detail she went into. A few
tweaks and it was ready. (Calling the family and
reporting went as smoothly as he imagined. Tears and
disappointment, were followed by demands for the body,
and Tonric complied informing them they could expect it
as soon as possible.) "One more condition for my
employment." Waiting for her to turn before continuing
"I will not enter the main headquarters of the
Inquisitorius, or be made freely available to your
superiors. I am your agent, not theirs."
Kia silently watched the exchange, finally starting to
understand how her Master had learned to keep an
impassive expression. She did not deserve that grief she
heard from her family. When he turned to her, the
condition he set made her blink a few times, her
blue-green eyes were far more expressive than the rest
of her countenance. "The Citadel Inquisitorius is for
initiates and full Inquisitors, Tonric. I wouldn't ask
or order you to go there. Not for every credit I own."
She started to turn away from him, then turned back to
face him. "Where can I sleep, or at least meditate. And
how long until we arrive at Corellia?"
"I'll make sure to keep my supply of rockets at peak
capacity." Tonric's matter of fact tone, seemed to echo
through the halls, but beneath the face plate there was
a small predatory smile, precision demolition was one of
his very few vices. "Down the hall to the left, guest
quarters. If you need food or drink opposite way down on
the right. Oh, and this Jelena she have any combat
experience or just a civilian? As for Corellia we'll be
there in two days"
"Think you'll need them? Or just being paranoid?
Besides, there are better explosives than rockets.. We
can talk later." Again, she sounded like she knew
something from personal experience, age be damned. "Down
the hall to the left, got it, thank you. Jelena Rodney
is a noblewoman who grew up as a privileged and
untouchable member of society. So in other words, she
should be a cakewalk."
"I like having them, and I am always open to learning
about more effective explosives." Tonric was happy to
see she hadn't tried to betray him, perhaps this could
be a profitable arrangement after all. "Sniper Rifle,
paralytic, snatch and grab? What is your preferred
method of extraction Inquisitor Kaen, for Jelena? Oh out
of curiosity in the event one of your superiors tries to
terminate you do I have your permission to return the
"Explosives are great! We definitely need to talk about
them..." Kia gave him a genuine grin that betrayed the
girl she had been just a few weeks prior, the darkness
didn't seem as stark in her and she seemed like a
teenager, before that window was slammed shut again. "As
for the target, she has to be taken back to the Warspite,
so a paralytic would work. We can work out non-lethal
rounds for your rifle if you'd like." His last comment
made her blink repeatedly, "Why would Master Thanor try
to kill me? I don't think she'd try to ... but if she
ever does, I guess? Uh ... yes, you have my permission.
You probably won't ever need to though, Master Thanor
isn't *all* that bad..."
"With the right timing I agree." That grin was amusing
and worrisome, but some part of Tonric said that he'd
get to live and die by his motto following her. "That
sounds good, maybe blend in some sort of seizure
inducing compound to get her moving to a hospital and
get her in transit." Tonric desperately wanted to pinch
his nose "My dear if you truly wish to commit to the
Inquisitorius, at some point you'll climb the ladder,
and the higher you go the more enemies it will make,
even this Master Thanor could end up being one. So do I
have permission to act on behalf of saving your life
from these inevitable enemies?" Tonric's tone finally
took a turn for the sarcastic professional pragmatism
had been exhausted.
"*Only* if it comes to that, yes. I kind of like being
alive. It's useful." Kia tilted her head studying him.
"As for the seizure inducing stuff, spiking her food or
just hitting her with something would probably be
easier? Aren't seizures dangerous?"
Locking that recording in his database, for future uses
before responding, with a professional tone again. "It
certainly allows us to be more effective." Giving a
pause to think about that valid point "Maybe something
that makes her froth at the mouth or just looks bad
without the any negative physical effects?"
Kia had already half turned back down the hallway,
looking back over her shoulder, "Yeah.. that sounds
good. Let me know when we're a few hours out from
Corellia, if you wouldn't mind? I'm going to rest and
get any remnants of whatever you gave me out of my