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Author Topic: Tales of the Orell Legacy  (Read 6020 times)

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Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #60 on: 09/07/16, 01:19:46 AM »
Intervention

Spoiler: Writer Commentary, read after reading the story • show
The origin of this is actually rather amusing.

See, Quarasha dipping into alcoholism was meant as a running gag more than anything. She's trying to coordinate the efforts of a bunch of people that hate each other, and her, and it worked for a while as a joke that "Oh my god, these assholes are such assholes that I need to get a fucking drink after each meeting!"

But that's the thing with running gags sometimes. If they go on for long enough, they can get serious.

Bringing back Bolin (the leader of the colony that Quarasha set up for ex-Slaves, hidden from the galactic eye) was done because it needed to be someone with their head on straight, who Quarasha trusts. The whole point of Bolin as a character is that he's... kinda a mute, furry Captain America. He's a minor character so he doesn't have to be complicated, he can be just a genuinely good person, and... sometimes complicated people need simple ones in their lives, to show them a different path.

Also, this was like written in about 2 hours time. Total. Here be grammar errors (like I ever gave a shit about grammar! What did it ever do for me!)


"As you can see by the attached documentation, all of your funding has been allocated responsibly. The expenses generated as a result of the extremely neccessary laundering operation were entirely within the range that I quoted, and all funds pulled from the noted accounts have been spent on legitimate operations.

Understand that much of the details are redacted, for the benefit of operational security. These lines are not as secure as I would like, the encryption is not impossible to decrypt and it's best not to risk crucial operatives.

I respect that my past actions involving kickbacks and embezzlement within the Sith Empire does not earn me much trust from you. My only defense there is that everyone was doing it, we were winning the war for most of that time, and, I'll be honest, most of it was a game. The stakes today are much more serious, and my ambitions are not so grand anymore.

Not that I expect you to believe me, B. But I can't not say it. Congratulations on the victories and may the Force serve you well,

-Q."


"...satisfied, you sanctimonious ice queen?" Quarasha muttered as she set the files to begin encrypting. Barely a moment after a major victory for resistance against Zakuul, and the 'benevolent patron' was already on guard for opportunistic betrayals.

It'd sting less if Quarasha had betrayed the Empire for selfish reasons. At least then it'd be justified. But backstab your cause for any reason just one time...

She reached for the bottle of wine, pouring herself a fresh glass. Despite the frustrating holomail she had to fire back, some good news had finally arrived. Shogarrath the Hutt's books had finally been delivered. Using slave labor for accounting was always a problem, no matter how capable the slave, and the prospect of freedom for one's children...

...well, it was an easy play for Quarasha to make, and the Sasmi Colony could use fresh blood with a good grasp of numbers. It'd just be nice if there was someone out there that just... that just would trust her-

*BZZZT*

Quarasha moved on instinct alone as the doorbell rang. Lightsaber in her hand, behind the couch for cover, ready for a fight. Most people that knew about the apartment were trusted and could let themselves in. Her dalliances weren't the sort to come around unannounced. And there were no door-to-door salesmen on Nar Shaddaa. The only people that would ring the doorbell were those looking to trap her...

She leaned up just enough, eyes focused on the door that was surely about to explode inwards, to catch an unaware Sith, tapping her console's controls to bring up the external camera...

...and was met by the image of an oversized, blue Cathar, with a bemused smirk and staring right into the camera.

Quarasha sighed, a faint smirk of her own crossing her face. "...come in, Bolin." The doors opened, and the Cathar stepped in, giving the ex-Lord a wave. "You could have just come in, you know."

Bolin shrugged and, with a rather creative set of gestures, managed to intone that he wasn't sure if Quarasha might be otherwise 'occupied'.

She tried to keep a smirk out of her deathglare, but couldn't quite manage it. Bolin was a master of signing and charades, a useful trait for someone that had gotten his tongue cut out by a particularly vicious owner.

Apparently he used to talk too much.

Still... she had a soft spot for the old Cathar. Unfailingly supportive, kind, an excellent listener, a good leader... he was the de facto Governor of the Sasmi Colony, now over ten thousand ex-slaves strong, and nearly a hundred children who knew nothing of slavery themselves. There were no elections, no decrees, no fights over leadership.

There was just a middle-aged man with kind eyes, a good heart and a better head, doing what he could without care of recompense. It was even enough for the cynical Sith to work to learn to read the galactic sign language, even if she wished he'd just get a blasted implant already.

She supposed he just enjoyed making everyone work at it.

"There's just me here, Bolin. What are you doing on Nar Shaddaa, anyway?"

Bolin shrugged as he walked over, signing "To see you," before enveloping the much smaller woman with a hug.

"...yes, good to see you too, now stop that," Quarasha grumbled through the hug.

Bolin gave his bark of a laugh, slapping her on the back even as he let go. "You well?" he signed, sitting down on a couch.

Quarasha shook her head with a smile, retrieving her glass before sitting down with him. "What is well these days? I live, I'm useful, I have bursts of fun." She shrugged. "It's hardly the happiest I've ever been, but it's hardly the nadir of my life either."

When she looked back to Bolin, there was something different behind his eyes this time. It wasn't just the sympathy and kindness she knew from him... this was something else. He signed again, "Stress" he said, gesturing at Quarasha.

"Of course I feel stress. With this galaxy, anyone who doesn't feel stress is either going down on Zakuul or completely ignorant. What of it?"

That stare again. He motioned a drink, and his eyes focused on her very large glass of wine.

"...who have you been speaking to?" Quarasha said, her voice nearly a whisper.

He didn't move until she looked back at him. Maybe that was his secret, Quarasha couldn't help but think. You have to look into those eyes to hear him speak. "H plus A," he signed.

Harkasone, that brat of a Jedi, trying to play-act as just a compassionate civilian. The bastard that kept pestering her about such a trivial thing. Trying to save the souls of everyone he met, even if they didn't need it. Of course he'd try to go over her head. Try to get into her-

"H plus A?" Quarasha said, staring at Bolin. "A... do you mean..."

"A, S, O, R, I," Bolin signed, his eyes boring into Quarasha.

Quarasha glared back. "Fine. So the idiot apprentice-"

He signed again. "Lord."

"Fine! Lord. The idiot Lord is worried about me! She shouldn't, she should know better. There's no health concern, the Force can-"

He signed. "Crutch."

"It's not a crutch!" Quarasha was nearly shouting now. "It's... it's a tool to manage things! It's as much of a crutch as a Lightsaber is!"

Bolin's eyes wouldn't relent. "Prove," he signed.

"Why the hell should I? Do you think you know me better than I do?!"

"Prove."

"I don't need to. What's the point in proving something I already know?!"

Bolin hesitated for a moment, then signed once again. "Power untested is lie".

Quarasha blinked, staring at the man. The memories came back, unbidden. Of a darker time, in the hold of the SS Demeter, her slave ship, the ship she came back to so she could free them.

The ship where she tested herself, to see if any of the bonds of slavery still held weight.

The ship where she failed that very test.

The ship where she redoubled her efforts, to learn from that harsh lesson.

"The first thing I learned out there. Power untested is only a lie we tell ourselves. We must test ourselves to know where we stand. To know what we must defeat. And now I know... that I am not beyond this," she had said, nearly a lifetime ago.

"...you think I need to test myself."

He nodded.

"You came all this way to tell me that."

He nodded.

"...you have at least ten thousand people looking for your guidance. And you came here to tell me to stop drinking."

Bolin gave a weak little smirk and a shrug, pointing to himself and signing "Worried".

Quarasha smirked at the older man, more affection than she intended slipping through. "...how does Daense tolerate you?"

The massive Cathar grinned. He didn't even need to sign to tell her why.
« Last Edit: 09/07/16, 08:29:26 AM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #61 on: 11/27/16, 06:38:27 PM »
True Power

Spoiler: Writer Commentary • show
So, there's a lot going on I want to talk about here...

1: I think I've written more stories involving Quarasha than I have for my other characters combined. She's certainly the character I've RP'd the longest. My avatar of Lien, Shaantil and Quarasha was because they were my three main characters way back when, and only Quar's still around as a primary RP char.

A lot of that's because Quarasha had to grow. She started out raw, rough and angry, but has grown so, so much over the years. It's something that also happened with two other characters I RP a lot these days, Merrant and Kyri, characters that started out with lots of room to grow, and grow they did.

2: The problem with the Knights of Zakuul is that they were hyped up like crazy, super-powerful Force Users using both Dark and Light... but in-story, they never actually do anything impressive. It's the Skytroopers and tanks that are always presented as the serious threat, and the Zakuul Knights have less than a handful of truly impressive moments.

My interpretation of them is that they were really strong... at first. They can use Dark and Light both so easily because Zakuul is so balanced in the Force that it's easy to dip into the dark side of the pool without falling in...

...but that doesn't apply to the rest of the galaxy. So, when they go elsewhere, they become unbalanced acting like they have before, lose their focus and get squashed. Hence, these three: Suuuuper arrogant, because they're on top of the galaxy, except one gets killed off-screen, one ko'd in seconds and the third nearly killed with relative ease, all by a single Sith with a few nifty tricks.

3: Hey, Bioware? Remember when Emperor Evil told all his Knights to pair off and duel to the death to see who could remain living? At least someone did something with that premise. <grumble>




P-74283, Uninhabited Planet, Outer Rim Hutt Territories

It was a pitiful world, only qualifying as "life supporting" thanks to a technicality. Nothing to eat, unless you enjoyed microbes, no great sights to see, maybe a trillion years from something approaching civilization... but just enough ocean life to make the atmosphere breathable.

The smell, however...

The waves crashed against the winding coastline, craggy rocks extending for files in each direction. No signs of life, no signals to be detected, no heat sources of note...

The perfect place to hide.

The Zakuulan shuttle, diving through the perpetual storm battering the coast, seemed to know where it was going. A quick circle over a particularly rugged looking cliff face before the shuttle descended, finding a berth on a
... surprisingly smooth and untouched rock. Just large enough for the small craft, barely fifty meters from the opening to a large cave.

"Do you still believe I am mistaken?" said the first of the Zakuulans to exit. Unlike the two Knights that accompanied him, the leader's armor was stained red. Some whispered that it was blood, the blood of his enemies, the blood of the Knights that displeased him, the blood of Jedi or the blood of Sith or merely the blood of those that had failed him. The pair of Knights that were with him knew better than such rumors, though.

It was the wrong shade.

"Velstas, all I've seen so far is yet another miserable pit that makes me long for Zakuul," the first said, more boredom than anything in his voice.

"Come now Horus, it can't be worse than that swamp world you spent three years on..." the second Knight joked as she followed the other two into the caves. "Quesh, wasn't it?"

Horus scoffed. "Did Hoth agree with you, Ceema?"

"Hoth was pretty."

"Quiet," Velstas growled. His compatriots shrugged and fell in behind him, walking over the rough cave floor, all hands on their Lightsabers, just in case.

The trip wasn't long, at least. In only a few minutes, they found themselves at a door, built into the rock with the insignia of the Sith Empire emblazoned upon the door's steel.

"Pretty." Ceema shrugged, leaning on the cave wall. "So, do you know how to op-" she was cut off by the sound of Velstas' lightsaber igniting and cutting into the door. "Right. So, you're sure about this place?"

"You know what they say about the Sith, Ceema. They hoard knowledge, and this one did it more than most."

"And why do we care?" Horus chimed in. "The Sith are weaklings. They begged to become our vassals, their knowledge can't be that strong."

Velstas glared at the Knight, even behind the helmet Horus could see the anger. "We are more powerful than Sith or Jedi. We have the power to crush starships. But they have done nothing but fight each other for decades and decades. Only a fool ignores the power of experience."

Ceema looked between the two and cleared her throat. "...besides, you know what the Sith keep saying about Emperor Val-"

"Do not repeat their heresy!" Horus roared. "Valkorion has only had eyes for Zakuul! Valkorion was Zakuul! We do not need their useless lies!"

"Wait and see, Horus. I will show you what lays here..." Velstas turned off his Lightsaber and a quick blast of the Force sent the remains of the door flying inward, showing the way inside.

It had once been a cavern, but that was a long time ago. Bookshelves and databanks crowded the interior, lavish chairs, elegant tables, consoles, even a bed tucked into the back. Fifty meters wide, one hundred meters long. Even Horus whistled his appreciation.

"...behold. The third secret archive of the Sith Lord Zedney." Velstas couldn't quite keep the awe out of his voice. "Lost with the death of it's master, and now, it belongs to me. And to Zakuul," he added, a moment late.

Horus strolled forward into the library, staring up at the shelves, filled with datapads, crystals and even ancient, paper-bound books. "...all of this is on the Force?"

Velstas shook his head. "No. This Zedney favored all sorts of information. The last archive I found had more data on Huttball statistics than anything."

"What's Huttball?"

Ceema laughed, opening up a datapad, peering over... crop yield records? "You need to get out more. It's this stupid sport they have out here, a tame excuse for pretend-fighting, but at least it's a little fun."

Velstas shook his head, glaring at Ceema's trivial concerns. "We simply need to separate the wheat from the chaff. Find the secret techniques, the hidden plans, the ideas that the fool Zedney was too weak to use. With it, all those that cross Zakuul will suffer!"

"Is that so? And what are you going to do after that?" Her eyes were on Velstas now. She'd kept a correspondence with the Exarch for years. He was always a little... eager in the fray. It was always a question of how much he enjoyed fighting, and how much he saw it simply as his duty.

And then there was the culling. Emperor Arcann was... displeased with his Knights. His ruling came down. All of the Knights would pair off, and one would survive. Only the strongest.

Ceema had come through it well enough. Her opponent was an annoying little brat, barely six months a Knight before she took his head.

But Velstas had to fight Yasin. His superior at the time. If Ceema had laid odds, it would've been in favor of the more seasoned warrior, but, well, there had been rumors about the pair. Serve a long time together, fight closely, speak fondly of the other and no one else...

Ceema had killed a lot of people in her lifetime. Other Knights, seditions Zakuulans, meddlesome rebels, Jedi, Sith, even a few of the friends she managed to come by. But never a lover.

Velstas was staring back at her, and she knew he knew what she knew. And they were the only ones here. "We will serve Zakuul. No more, no less. Is that acceptable?"

Ceema was about to respond when she heard it, a soft, quiet sound, halfway down the racks, where the third of their number had gone. "Horus, did you find something?"

No answer.

She glanced at Velstas, and the pair crept forward, reaching out with the Force, trying to sense either their ally, or danger...

Horus was there, alright. Leaning against a bookshelf. Blood dripping down his armor from a long blade, wedged into the minute gap between helmet and breastplate. The Force told them all they needed to know, Horus was no longer.

Almost on cue, the pair ignited their lightsabers, senses expanding. "Shit. You said this was lost, Velstas."

"It was." He gestured down to the floor, a layer of dust, undisturbed except by their boots. "There are no other ships here."

"Tell that to Horus!" Ceema scowled. "Let's get back to the shuttle and call in the Skytroopers. Sweep this place with prejudice and secure it for Zakuul," she said, slowly stepping back to the entrance.

"No. I will not share this bounty with the Skytroopers, nor let them destroy it with their reckless fire."

"You just don't want to sh-"

The warning from the Force came too late. The Lightsaber was halfway into her back before Ceema could respond by throwing herself to the side and swinging wildly. Her attacker ducked under the swing, the purple blade swinging into and cutting into her knee.

Ceema staggered back, trying to make distance when the blast of lightning hit her, lifting her up in the crescendo and sending her flying into an unyielding bookshelf. She was unconscious by the time she landed on the hard ground, smoke rising from her armor.

The figure turned to the other Zakuulan in the room, and stopped. Velstas hadn't moved, choosing to just watch the attacker take his comrade apart. "Thank you for disposing of them, Miss Ahnshal."

Quarasha relaxed, pulling off the hood of her bodysuit, staring down the Zakuul Exarch. "Expendable minions, Velstas? Odd choice."

"A Sith speaking of expendable minions? Far more odd." He raised his lightsaber, slipping into a fighting stance. "Surrender, Quarasha. You cannot defeat me, and I have use of you."

Quarasha stared at him for a few moments, before stepping back, letting the Force envelop her, obscuring her from sight. "You don't know much about me if you thought that might work," she said, her voice echoing throughout the library.

"What Force Power lets you avoid disturbing the dust?" Velstas asked, staring up at the rafters. "Is there some way to fly? To keep the dust from moving?"

"...I walked on the bookshelves, idiot. And Zedney would not build a secret base without at least three secret entrances."

"Hm. A pity." He strolled down the aisles, watching for movement. "Your master's insights on the Force are fascinating. His lessons on harnessing lightning alone... impressive, considering his limitations."

"I know, I read them." The echoing voice almost sounded bored by the banter.

"Why did he stay a Lord? With his mind, surely he could have been one of your people's vaunted Darths." He turned, frowning as the maimed Ceema let out a groan, slowly coming to.

Quarasha let out a sigh. "He enjoyed staying out of sight. Nobodies don't get targeted, and it can be easier to stay in power if no one knows you're in charge."

Another groan from the Knight. "Quiet, Ceema, the Sith and I are talking," Velstas said, raising his lightsaber.

Quarasha descended, but her slash at his exposed back was blocked. Velstas' copper blade pushed against her, knocking the Twi'lek back a step. "Do you think so little of me?"

"Less." A quick blast of lightning held his saber in place, but his feet stepped away from the Sith's swing, leaving them even once again.

They battled in silence for nearly a minute, Velstas kept on the defensive, toying with the Sith, while Quarasha dodged, weaved, spun, used the Force to test him with no results, finally giving up and leaping back, hiding from sight once again.

"Cowardice from the Sith, is that it?" he chimed in, sounding almost amused. "What would your poor, departed Master say if he could see you now?"

Quarasha couldn't quite keep some exhaustion out of her voice. "That the important part is to win, idiot. And are you going to do that old cliche, claiming you killed Zedney to 'make it personal'?"

Velstas paused. "Well. I was considering it. But no, I was on the other side of the galaxy at the time. I suppose I will have to suffice for killing other Sith, mutilating your agents and looting your masters carefully collected archives."

There was a growl from the rafters. "And what do you want from me? Aside from my painful death."

"You won't die. I'll even make sure your cage is expertly gilded." Another growl. "You know the Force, the Dark Side, Zedney's state of mind. You'll show me all that you know, and I'll use it to crush everyone you care about."

Silence. No retort. No threats. Velstas stood there, in the middle of the library, smiling, waiting for the inevitable wild attack from the enraged-

Lightning came from behind him, just slow enough for the Knight to deflect away. He braced for the rush once it faded... but there was nothing, no one standing where the Lightning surely-

Quarasha's lightsaber struck across the back of his knees, searing the sadly-excellent armor and sending him stumbling forward, his saber waving back in a weak, defensive arc. "Do you take me for a rank amateur?" Quarasha roard, sending another stream of lightning into his chest, locking up his joints. "A true Sith holds their rage on a tight leash, and will never lose control."

Velstas lifted his saber up, forcing through the pain, grounding the assault. "...and no Exarch would be killed by... so sloppy an ambush..."

Quarasha grinned, letting the Dark Side well up inside her. "You wanted power? The secrets of the Sith?" She let the lightning fade and raced forward. The Exarch's wild swing cut into her side, grimacing at the lance of pain as her liver was carved into... but not enough to stop her.

Her hands grabbed Velstas by the armor. Close enough, his heart beat strong, scared and confused... the Force flowed freely from him, drained into her hands, devouring him alive as her fresh wounds mended themselves, bones knitting together, flesh regrowing, even the blood itself restored..

It was a few seconds before Velstas could push the Sith away, stumbling back to safety under weak knees. "W...what...?" he tried to say, before a hacking cough robbed him of his voice.

Quarasha laughed a low, hilting cackle as she circled, her Lightsaber discarded on the ground. "That was true power, pretender. Zedney's lessons helped, of course. But do you know what really drives this?"

She darted in again, leaping at his stab, hissing as the low slash took a chunk out of her thigh... but she got her hands on Velstas again and the power of the Force Drain brought him to his knees. "Pain. Sacrifice. Defeat. My most hated enemy lashed me to a weapon imbued with the Force. It fed upon me, and I learned from it, learned oh, so much..." she said, as her fresh wound was mended once again.

"M...monster..." he mumbled, as his Lightsaber fell from his grasp.

Quarasha's grin was hungry, her face going pale, her eyes fading from violet to orange as she let the Dark Side flow freely, the hate and anger and rage and frustration of the last few years finally being let out. "This is why Zakuul will perish. Why your people will be slaughtered, your Knights scattered, your ships devastated. You do not know pain. You do not know fear. You do not know suffering. You will know only death."

Her voice was growing more distant, less clear to Velstas' ears as the Force Drain went on. "...sleep..." he thought to himself. Give in, it was getting cold, it would all be better after a little rest, wouldn't it...

It would've ended there. It should have, by all rights. But something held on, a tiny part of him, the Exarch's own anger at 'his' Empress, his loathing of the disgusting peasants in the twisted galaxy...
...his terror, knowing that either he or Yasin would have to kill the other... and it would be for nothing...

"No!" The strength came freely to the Exarch. Not the carefully measured, controlled, disciplined sort he was used to but something raw, primal and violent, exploding the air around him and sending the Sith flying, a distant crash signaling she landed on something expensive.

"...you... you face an Exarch of Zakuul," he said, forcing himself to his feet, his blade in a defensive stance, even as his eyes struggled to focus. "Not a weakling Jedi, not a mad Sith... none have ever defeated me. None will ever defeat me. You... will submit or you... will die..."

He waited, either for a strike or a snide response from the Sith, but when he looked up at where she landed, there was nothing there but the remains of a vase.

But he felt something new. A sense of danger, but... general. All around. Not specific, like right before her strikes. More like...

He looked around, spotting the many, many, many places a clever Sith with time to prepare might plant explosives to deny the enemy of critical resources. "Ah."

Velstas turned, sighing. Best to drag Ceema out. She would be convinced or-

There was nothing where Ceema last laid. Not even blood. They couldn't have been fighting for that long...

He sighed once again, racing out of the library, making tracks for the ship before whatever inelegant trap Quarasha had prepared could go off. It was a shame, really. At least one Knight dead and nothing gained, not even the barest scrap of information...

Velstas paused, on the ramp of his ship, staring down at his hands, remembering the surge of energy, the power he felt her use... power that she had learned the hard way too.

"...perhaps not nothing..."
« Last Edit: 12/30/17, 09:44:11 PM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #62 on: 08/14/17, 09:09:45 AM »
Vole and Dalen

Kessel's Luck Bar, Nar Shaddaa

Anakithane sighed, flicking over news articles on her datapad. The bar was a dive, but the sort that Ana liked: Mostly quiet, people stayed out of each other's hair, prices were good, no one asked about her cybernetic eye and if someone saw you doing something illegal, well, who wasn't?

But her client was late. This 'Dalen' person... Ana had done some work for her in the past, even if she'd never met her in person. Slicing databases, making some dataspikes for infiltrations, encryption, all sorts of fun stuff, plus a few jobs done back on Everen's crew. She was trustworthy and her credits were good, but still...

Everen would've called her paranoid, but in a good way. Master Vorisal would've told her to trust in the Force and keep her senses open. Whatever it was, something felt... wrong.

"Vole?" a woman's voice said. Ana looked up and froze, her remaining eye going wide.

The woman wasn't too abnormal to look at. A yellow Twi'lek, older than Ana but not by that much, striped tattoos across her face and down her lekku, wearing the sort of simple, rough clothing common in the dive, not even a weapon visible, although who knows what might be under that duster. Normal.

But the Force was screaming at her now. The Dark Side was all around the Twi'lek, she wasn't even trying to hide it. "Sith? A kriffing Sith, what's a Sith doing here, how does a Sith know her-"

Ana blinked. The Sith had said something, and now was looking annoyed. "Uh, what?" Ana mumbled. Her Lightsaber was under her coat, if she could just inch her hand that way...

"No weapons, 'Vole'." The Sith gave a quick smile. "If I wanted you dead, you would be dead. I'm going to assume you weren't expecting me personally."

"...n-no. You're... a Sith?"

Another quick smile, and the Sith was appraising Ana now, those violet eyes scanning over the slicer. "From a certain point of view. You know me as Dalen... that is, if you work for Vole."

Ana bristled. "I am Vole, schutta! I said I'd meet... well, Dalen, not Sithy McSitherSchutt. But still!"

"Ah, I thought so." Dalen winked as she settled into the chair. "I've known a few criminals who might use a Jedi as-"

"Shh!" Ana glared at Dalen. "The J word ain't a good one to be saying around here, okay?"

Dalen's gaze betrayed nothing but a serious desire for a drink, but she seemed to relent. "...fine. A Blue then. Some would use a Blue to make first contact. But you don't seem like a bodyguard sort. No offense meant," she added, seeing Ana's glare.

"Uh huh. Well, I used to be... Blue. I ain't anymore."

"Ah, you stopped being depressing?"

Ana glared at Dalen, who was now wearing a grin that the ex-Jedi was just dying to punch. "...right, walked right into that one. And you can walk right out, I don't work for Sith."

"You mean you don't knowingly work for Sith." Dalen smirked again. "The credits come from a Sith, but one that is uninterested in conquest, war and the like. The Empire tossed me out many years ago, thanks to accusations I betrayed a fellow Sith to the J- Blues. Are those credits more palatable?"

Ana hesitated. The job they had discussed over holomail... there were a lot of credits there. "You expect me to take your word on it?"

The Sith stared at Ana for a few moments. She could tell, whatever Dalen was up to, she was mulling something over. "...it truly is troubling how often it's the Sith that needs to put the weapon down first." She sighed. "My name, my actual name, is Quarasha Ahnshal. Dalen is a moniker I use with those that... well, are less than inclined to trust a Sith."

"Bet you have a lot of those..." Ana mumbled as she picked up her datapad, starting a search.

"One or twenty." Quarasha sighed again, glancing at the datapad. "My life story is a touch complicated, would you like time to thoroughly research it all before we get to business?"

Ana didn't respond. The archived news stories... well, there were a lot of them. Bragging about killing a Jedi Master. Accused of an assassination plot against a Jedi's father-in-law. An arrest for treason against the Sith, never said what for, no, that would be easy. Old, but still active, bounties or arrest warrants for her from the Republic, Sith Empire, Erini, even one more recent one from the Zakuul Empire...

Skimming the information hadn't taken Ana too long, but Quarasha still looked annoyed when the Slicer looked back up. "...does anyone not want you dead?"

"It's not a long list." Another quick smile. "Mostly they like me out of the way, the ones that could manage the job have better things to do, generally speaking. It's a big galaxy, surprisingly easy to stick to the shadows."

"...hence Nar Shaddaa."

"Hence Nar Shaddaa." Quarasha nodded. "...if there's a place better for the galaxy's leftovers, I haven't found it." She hesitated. "And I've looked. Now, the job?"

"...I'm... not sure. Working with a Sith... it ain't my normal sorta thing." Ana shook her head. "...gimme a bit to do some background research, and I'll holomail you when I'm ready? So... so I know I'm not helping... I dunno, a cannibal or something."

Quarasha looked almost about to say something, some little joke or insult probably. Sith will Sith... but Quarasha just sighed and slid a small datapad across the table. "I understand, Vole, but I'm on something of a time crunch and I don't have many slicer contacts."

"Look, I-"

"A bounty hunter tried to kill me a few days ago. He wouldn't give up who sent him, but he had this datapad on him, quite well encrypted. If you decide to help me, decrypt it for me and two hundred thousand credits are yours. If you don't... let me know where I can pick the datapad up, I won't trouble you again."

Ana watched Quarasha. Her Dark Side presence had faded, the Sith's face was unmoving, even the Force wasn't picking up any emotions from the woman... she was just... staring at her.

On one hand... Quarasha was a Sith. If Master Vorisal were here, he'd tell Ana to be very, very careful. Sith weren't known for being trustworthy, generous, kind, merciful, inclined to not murder all the loose ends once their scheme was done, whatever it was...

...but Quarasha, Dalen... she had hired Dalen plenty of times before. This... was just another job, and she needed help. Some of the other Sith Ana had met weren't... awful people, exactly...

...and two hundred thousand credits were two hundred thousand credits.

"Damn it."

Ana sighed. "No penalty if I say no?"

Quarasha shook her head. "None whatsoever."

"I'm not to read anything on the datapad after I decrypt it, I'm guessing?"

"We both know I couldn't tell if you did." Quarasha smirked. "I try not to make threats if I can't follow up on them."

"Right, right, good..." The slicer rubbed the back of her neck. "...and if I try to screw you on this, you'll kill me."

That earned another long stare from the Sith. "......is that much different from your other clients? That includes my identity, by the way. If I find out people know that Dalen and Quarasha are one..."

Ana nodded quickly. "Right, right, okay, right, standard no-backstabbin' clause, got it."

"True, you would die slower and more inventively, but I think for two hundred thousand I'm allowed a little creativity," Quarasha continued with a leaden tone.

"You're not helping!" Ana half-shrieked, grabbing the datapad and tucking it in her coat. "Kriff, what sorta shit did you do in the Empire?!"

Quarasha stood, giving the wide-eyed slicer one last, brief smile. "Diplomacy," she said, letting the pause hang there. "Sith Diplomacy. I'll be in touch."
« Last Edit: 11/21/17, 11:36:45 AM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #63 on: 08/28/17, 01:16:50 AM »
Force-Slicing

Anakithane's Apartment, Nar Shaddaa

Ana sighed, glaring at the screen. It had taken a few days to confirm what she needed to know, plus Myst vouching for her... well, Quarasha was a murderous bitch, but she was a rich one and at least she was gentle. For a Sith.

She snorted. "For a Sith. What does that even mean, she only maims sick orphans?"

But... no, she wasn't a monster. Quarasha was a Sith, and now she's something else. Master Vorisal always told Ana to give people a chance to change, and... well, who knows? Stranger things had happened. And... she felt trustworthy. For whatever that was worth. If an ex-Jedi can't trust the Force, what can she trust?

The Datapad was a different problem. It wasn't expensive, just the sort of cobbled together tech that the engineers of Nar Shaddaa were best known for, but that only made it worse. Expensive usually meant name brand, expensive meant people had confidence in it, expensive meant that there were usually a hole or fifty that she could exploit because it's just such a pain to keep installing those security updates...

Cheap-but-effective meant different rules. She'd tracked down the maker's shop, at least where it had been. Zakuul had melted nearly the entire block back when the eye in the sky was watching, no answers there. The basic brute-force spikes had failed already, and if she had been a bit slower on the shutdown command all the data would've been wiped.

"...and if I hadn't taken it apart," she mused, looking down at the very disassembled pieces of datapad, "...the bomb tucked in there really would've ruined my day."

She sighed, tapping on her log. "...okay, try 16 failed. Mit's 'Zeltron Distractor' spike was complete shit, again. I never should have bought that, it's probably just some jumped-up dictionary password slice..."

Ana tapped her console again. "...the data copy decrypt is still running. Progress is... hm. .0001%. One less zero than last time, I think. Paranoid kriffer is paranoid, can't imagine what he'd do if he lost his passcode. Might get a result before entropy kills everyone, who knows?"

She tapped the datapad's screen. "...I'm probably overthinking this. For all I know, his security code was his pet's name. Or maybe he had to give a sample of his spinal fluid because those bounty hunter types really hate looking... weak..."

"You're not thinking too hard. You're not thinking at all..." a voice in her head said. Vorisal's. He had always thought that technology and the Force weren't incompatible, simply another tool that can be aided with the Force. Maybe you couldn't mind trick it, but there had to be something else.

She looked down at the cover to the datapad. Scuffed, dented, chipped... it had seen work. "...Kriff, if the hunter was a Mandalorian, he probably brained someone with it," she muttered. Manual controls on the side of the datapad, of course, but... a lot of them.

Ana frowned, looking over each button carefully, zooming in with her over-engineered prosthetic eye. Datapads would have some crude inputs, sure, but usually just an off button, volume controls and the like. The cover had those, but it also had four more on the left side, a big one on the right...

She could see it now, the datapad in someone's hand. A ,much bigger hand than hers. One finger on each of the left buttons, thumb on the right. Alternative controls for the datapad when you can't use the screen... but that'd be a pain in the ass to manipulate if you...

Ana picked up the back case of the datapad. Scuff marks, practically a groove carved into the durasteel back. She blinked again, and cursed, looking back to the pile of 'miscellaneous' datapad parts she had dug out of it, including an odd piece of magnetic shielding. The Hunter's gauntlet had a magnet in it, to keep the datapad secure in his hand. He'd use the buttons to manipulate the datapad when he was in combat gear...

"...it's part of your job, isn't it?" she muttered. "You wouldn't use a voice command to unlock it, that'd give away your position. Assuming you could be heard over a firefight, and it could always be recorded and duplicated... so... some kinda armor unlock system..."

Her hand grazed the screen. Touch screen, tough but not one of the expensive, high-tech ones. He expected it to be cracked now and then, no point spending a lot on it... but he wanted a touch screen. He probably used the datapad a lot out of armor. The armor wouldn't be the only way to unlock it...

She closed her 'real' eye and focused with her synthetic one. 10x, 20x, 100x... there were still grease stains on the datapad, right in the center of the screen. A pattern of them, almost looking like...

"...thumbprint," Ana mumbled, before clearing her throat for the benefit of her log. "...the center of the datapad has a thumbprint on it, likely a biometric reading for the sake of security. Not the most secure, but... this guy wasn't buying good security, he was buying cheap security and stumbled across good."

Ana eyed the residual thumbprint carefully. "...the print's a bit degraded. I can see some hills and valleys, and these things can never be 100% accurate, but... I need more. Maybe I can ask Q- uh, ask Dalen if she... ugh. Has his thumbs lying around- did I really just say that?"

She tapped the desk, glaring at the datapad's parts. "...I could try to replicate it. Fake thumbprint shit, anyone could do it, but I'd only get a few shots... and I'd have to turn the datapad on normally to get that to work. The thing to do is get a sample of the thumbprint and get a replica made, but pulling the print could degrade it. I'll need to figure out the missing bits too, but those aren't... too..."

Ana stared at the thumbprint, at the screen. It wasn't a camera, wasn't a person, it's... just a lock. Using pressure at specific points as the key.

She looked at her hand. Small, far smaller than the Bounty Hunter who used this... but the hand's size she could see, the placement of the finger buttons showed that...

It was a stupid idea. Ana knew that even as she turned the datapad on, putting her thumb in position. The smart play would be to make that replica, agonize over the details, get high-probability matches on the missing thumbprint pieces, come back in two weeks.

But Myst kept telling her to practice with the Force, didn't she?

She pressed down on the datapad, willing the Force around her thumb. She could see it in her mind, the size of it, the shape, the ridges and valleys of the print, she knew, even without knowing why, what the thumb looked like, pushing down just as hard as the muscle-headed Mandalorian would...

Her eye opened when the datapad beeped. "Welcome, Handorit Ordo", the datapad read, opening up the home screen. Her console beeped, detecting the flow of data, now unencrypted, recording it all. News articles, holomail, games, pictures of a... woman wearing that could only be called armor by a technicality...

"...so, uh, I just unlocked the datapad," she said distantly, looking over the files. "I... think I projected a thumb around my thumb to push on the screen. Force-thumbing. Kriff, does that count as mindtricking a datapad?"

She scanned through the mail. The ads and family messages were easy to screen out, same the bills and other junk...

Ana found what she was looking for pretty quickly. Encrypted message that had been decoded by the datapad, day after Quarasha said she was attacked, asking for a mission report. Odd phrasing, but definitely the employer.

The other messages between them were pretty simple. Surveillance updates, credit transfer confirmations, updated intelligence... but no initial offer. They probably first met some other way, maybe even in person.

It only took a glance to see that the employer's holomail account was a front. Random jumbles of letters and numbers, so someone well funded, but very anonymous. Not what Quarasha was looking for, but data is data...

It was when she was looking through the holomails raw data that the chill went down her back. It was the encryption method, the key being used, the datarate, 500 little patterns and hints and habits...

She'd seen it before, years back, before Zakuul. She had been studying encryption and data security, and the best people that would talk to her, that would let her learn...

The Strategic Information Service.

The Republic's spies.

Whoever was trying to kill Quarasha either was in the SIS, or was using their equipment.

"..............well, shit."
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #64 on: 09/02/17, 10:52:00 PM »
A Good Cause

Republic Senate, Coruscant

Colonel Lien Orell sighed, giving the door ahead of him an evil glare.

Of the places the Colonel would prefer to be, the Senate tower was pretty close to the bottom of the list. Filled with people he really, really wanted to punch, and yet could not, under any circumstances, punch. That was usually the metric for his tolerance of places, at least on the extremes.

Granted, he'd heard and seen good things about this Senator, who had "politely requested" an hour of his time... but a Senator's a Senator. Even the good ones tend to only be hiding their dark spots.

"...uh, sir, you can go i-" the secretary spoke up, a tired look on his face.

"I heard." He adjusted the dress uniform's annoying gloves and stepped forward, the door sliding open.

"Ah, Colonel, welcome, at ease and have a seat." The Cathar woman smiled at him, sitting behind a desk Lien couldn't help but notice was in the perfect Senatorial decorative middle-ground: Nice enough to look good, plain enough to not be showy. Never a good sign.

Lien's eyes tracked to the third person in the room. A human man, strongly built, civilian clothing but an empty holster on his hip and a smattering of scars on his face. Fighter, not military or security, probably a merc. He met the man's eyes and amended that assessment. "...definitely a merc.

He saluted, then carefully walked to a chair. "Here as requested, Senator Rhybak. Who's he?"

Alyonna Rhybak nodded at the third man, gesturing him to sit down. "This is Haledus Ordo. He is a civilian contractor-"

Lien stared at her. "Ordo. As in the Mandalorian clan Ordo? A Cathar Senator's using Mandalorians?"

Haledus sighed. "Clan Ordo does not consider myself or my siblings to be true Mandalorians. And we view them the same."

Alyonna sighed. "Do not get him started, Colonel..."

The Senator clearly had heard Haledus talk about this plenty of times before, but Lien had seen enough examples of Mandalorian fighting to ignore it. "What, they don't murder enough civilians for ya?"

The Mandalorian's eyes narrowed. "Mandalore the Redeemer showed us a path free of control... and then Mandalore the Puppet sold us all to the Sith again." Haledus glared back. "After the Sith drove us to destruction against Revan's glorious army, after our years of irrelevance until the Redeemer restored our honor! If they want to-"

"Haledus, please..." Alyonna half-sighed. "...Colonel, do you remember me?"

Lien tore his eyes away from the 'good' Mandalorian, appraising Alyonna. "...have we met?"

"Many years ago, yes, we met in passing." Alyonna shrugged. "I would hope that you remember my world, Feldinar, as your soldiers were instrumental in liberating it from the Sith Empire's control. I served alongside the troops of Task Force Zerek, they fought with great skill and purpose."

She sighed, continuing on. "When it was freed, you and other officers, with a few Senators at the head of the party, came to Feldinar. You shook many hands, one of them mine." At Lien's half-hearted shrug, she sighed. "The Mandalorians have done many terrible things, yes. No one in this room will deny that. But Haledus has my trust, and you can be assured that I harbor no love for the Sith Empire."

Lien sighed, looking back at the Mandalorian. "...alright, fine. Just... look, assume I'm gonna get a few buddies to look up him and his to make sure it's all legit. And I can't talk about classified material with a 'Civilian Contractor' in the room, okay?"

Haledus shrugged, and Alyonna nodded. "It is your duty, I would not try to dissuade you. Now, would you give me your impression of a former Sith Lord, Quarasha Ahnshal?"

Lien flinched. "...I'm not great at impressions, but, uh... muahaha, I'm a evil Sith Lord and I'm going to stab you in the head?"

Alyonna stared at the Colonel. "...is evading questions from Republic Senators a part of special forces training?"

"Ah, so you never met General Garza." Lien couldn't quite keep the smirk from showing.

"I have not had that 'honor', no," Alyonna replied, her voice as dry as Tatooine's desert. "She was a prisoner of Zerek's at one point, correct? But she managed to escape?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny such statements in the presence of a civilian."

Alyonna frowned. "Did you ever speak to her?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny such statements in the presence of a civilian," Lien repeated.

"Have you had any contact with her of any sort?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny-"

Alyonna slammed her hand on the table. "Yes, yes, I get it. Haledus..."

Haledus Ordo stood, giving Lien a nod. "...she is worth your trust. But I will not force you to betray your duty." He gave Alyonna another nod before striding towards the exit, leaving the pair alone.

"...he's stiffer than a lot of soldiers," Lien muttered, training his eyes on Alyonna.

She nodded. "He cares much about honor. It is why I like him, too few I meet mean their words. Now then..."

Lien sighed. "Yeah, Quarasha was TFZ's guest for a bit. She got screwed over by some power play, we rescued her from another Sith's evil plan, but... well, she'd still screwed a lotta folk over. We were figuring out what to do with her when there was a malfunction with her holding cell and she forced another guest to help her escape. It's a black mark on Zerek's legacy, but she didn't go back to the Empire at least..."

"And your impres-" Alyonna hesitated. "And what would you make of her?"

"...a pile of smoldering flesh?" Lien replied, but with a smirk this time.

"Colonel."

"She's a scheming bitch." He shrugged. "I've ran into her a few times, and she's pretty much only been in for herself. I trust her about as far as I can throw-" he stopped. "Actually, she's pretty skinny. As far as my sister can throw her."

"Mmm." Alyonna stared at him, trying to read his poker face. "And how would you describe Dalen?"

Lien's eye only barely twitched, but he could see the growing smile on Alyonna's face. "Alright. You stop kathcrapping and I'll stop too-"

"I am kathcrapping?"

"What do you know?" Lien said, glowering.

Alyonna chuckled lightly. "For the sake of speed, and so I do not have to listen to your denials, very well. Part of Doctor Kyri Orell's commutation included a sit down with SIS agents for a full debrief of her... questionable dealings. One of those included the name Dalen, an information broker on Nar Shaddaa that she had exchanged favors with."

"You questioned Ky?!" he said, growling.

"It was part of the 'ex-Sith' package that Master Telline arranged for her. Some days, it worries me that there are standardized forms for that. In any case, I have been requesting much information from SIS about the Custodum, and her file came up. As did your report..."

"I didn't know then, and I haven't-"

Alyonna raised a hand. "I know, Colonel. Your report on Dalen and Quarasha being the same was a good and noble act, even as it pointed to the times you exchanged non-classified information with her. But her actions trouble me. A Sith using anonymity to still influence the galaxy, outside of the Empire... I worry about how many other noble men and women in the Republic are exposed."

Lien blinked. "...I've been keeping an eye when I could. She hasn't made any big moves, if anything she's locked out more. She moved against Zak in a big way, but even the Alliance doesn't seem to want her... you think she's a threat?"

"If you could be seduced into giving up such knowledge? How many less noble Officers, SIS Agents or Senatorial staff can you imagine there being?"

He winced. Even if you didn't count the Senators themselves... "...SIS is looking out for her, though."

"That is assuming they are not dealing with her." Alyonna frowned, shaking her head. "No. She is a wild card in an already chaotic game. Best to remove a piece from the board..."

Lien frowned. He had no love for Quarasha, he'd taken a few pot shots at her, long, long ago, and the Sith Bitch using his sister boiled his blood...

...but he couldn't get the image out of his head. A clearly tortured woman, tossing and turning on a cot, screaming at the phantoms the Jedi say a Sith inflicted on her. Or the Sith with a Lightsaber in his side, a twitch away from killing him, making clear that while she might not be on his side...

...that she wasn't his enemy.

"...if she's not hurting anyone..."

Alyonna shook her head. "She has smeared the honor of good Republic servants with her actions and her temptations. She is a complication that should be removed, and her crimes against the Republic ensures her fate."

Lien stared at the Senator, trying to read her face. "...even the good ones..." He cleared his throat. "...ain't my call. Why am I here again?"

Senator Rhybak sighed. "Because... it got a little complicated. I have tried to resolve the situation already. One of Haledus' brothers in his personal Clan Ordo tried and... has not been found."

"MIA presumed KIA, right," he said, mentally adding "...presumed recycled meat."

"Haledus tried himself and was captured by Quarasha and interrogated. He says he gave nothing up, and before you comment, I do believe him."

Lien shrugged. "As you say, ma'am. She switched to catch and release?"

"He says that another questioned him. Some Mirialan with poor fashion sense." Alyonna caught his puzzled frown. "Yes, probably meaning she wasn't wearing fifty pounds of armor. But this Mirialan convinced Quarasha to let him go, and gave him a few contacts to speak to, for the sake of parley."

Lien nodded. "And you want to know if this is a scheme."

"Do not be silly, Colonel, of course it is a scheme. Her kind does nothing without it being a scheme." Alyonna gave a little shrug. "The primary question is what sort of scheme it is. You had personal contact with her, and I would like your view of the subject."

Lien kept his poker face up. On one hand... he had no love for Quarasha. Senator Rhybak wasn't wrong that the Sith had committed plenty of crimes against the Republic, and even if it hadn't been him that leaked the info, he knew that at least one Republic base was taken by the Empire because of information someone in the Republic leaked to 'Dalen'.

On the other... the one word he'd heard most of all about Alyonna was 'Honor'. It wasn't just a set of principles to her, it was a point of faith. She truly, earnestly believed in it, as much as even the most bloodcrazed Mandalorian...

...he couldn't quite help but wonder when she had started to think this way, and how many of her soldiers died.

In the end, it was cowardly, simple honesty that won the day. "...most likely? She's looking out for herself. If I had to guess, she has 'not die' at the top of her goals every day. Doubt she's looking for an edge, just a way to survive, if ya follow, and she'd probably do what it takes to stay alive."

Alyonna stared at him. It wasn't the answer she was looking for, he knew that... but when her eyes flicked down to her desk, he know she understood. "Mmm. Very well. Thank you for your input, I will... consider my path forward." She looked back at the Colonel, narrowing her eyes. "I trust you will observe proper opera-"

"Yeah, yeah, I'll keep quiet, Senator." He smirked, standing. "...SpecFor veteran, I know this dance."

"Too well, I worry," she said, chuckling as she stood, giving Lien a salute. "Fight well, Colonel. The Empire will not let us tarry."

"Haven't shot a blaster in a while, ma'am, but I know what you mean." He returned the salute before heading out of the Senator's office, frowning at the Mandalorian waiting patiently in the foyer.

"You don't like me," Haledus said, giving the Colonel a casual nod.

"...ain't known for being friendly to Mandies, no."

"I don't blame you. The Sith have corrupted the Mandalorian way for too long. The new Mandalore has given my kind to yet another master to direct to their ends... and that is not the Mandalorian way."

"Aren't you just taking orders from a Senator?" Lien thought, it was right on the tip of his tongue... but he couldn't say it. The Senator might worry him... but she's on his side, the Republic's side. Rock the boat, sure, but don't throw a grenade into the hold.

Instead, he sighed, shaking his head. "...look, Mr. Ordo, I've got over a dozen targets of opportunity and enough materiel to hit maybe three of them. I got worlds starvin' for resources gettin' fleeced by worlds that got 'em in abunance. And I got shit Senators out there that don't know punchin' a Rancor ain't a smart move.

Lien matched the Mandalorian's glare. "Put real simple, I have bigger problems than a Sith play-actin' as a spy or a Mandy who thinks the other Mandies are shit Mandies. You and Rhybak want her head, fine, just don't drag my ass in on it."

The Colonel stormed off, leaving the good Ordo standing there fuming. Alyonna was a veteran, and the name did ring some bells... and Quarasha was a Sith, and her dossier included plenty of crimes... honest people hunting down a lying schemer, ain't that far from good versus evil...

...so why didn't it feel right?
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #65 on: 09/16/17, 01:19:12 AM »
A Good Deed

Kessel's Den Cantina, Nar Shaddaa

Quarasha flipped through the data on the pad, her eyes flicking up at the awkward Jedi Slicer at the other end of the table. "...so, a Mandalorian working for the Republic is trying to kill me. Is that your conclusion?"

Ana shifted slightly. She didn't want to be here, she just wanted to throw the datapad at the Sith, take her credits and run for it. But... well, her word was on the line. Maybe Quarasha didn't know the name "Anakithane", but enough knew "Vole". It doesn't take many bad reports to make new customers shy away. "...sorta?" she eventually managed out.

"...sorta. Sorta?" Quarasha scowled. "In the Empire, we had far better dodges for when we wanted to hide the truth. And I am paying for the truth. Did the Jedi do things differently?"

Ana's eyes flicked side to side, trying to see who was near. The cantina wasn't the place where people dropped eaves on others, but you never knew... "We were precise. Exact answers, not the ones you wanted." She hesitated before adding. "...sorry."

"And what 'exact' answer am I paying for?"

"Uh, without getting into an hour long dissertation about the nuance of Mandalorian clan membership and pseudo-religious beliefs? He thought he was a Mandalorian, and thought the other Mandalorians weren't. They disagreed, and there's more of them, so they won."

"...hence working for the Republic," Quarasha sighed.

"Kinda other way around? The Mandalorians I talked to said it was about the Empire. These offshoot Ordo's didn't want to work with the Empire, but Mandalore the-" She tapped on her datapad. "...Vindicated aligned with the Empire, and these Ordos call him 'Mandalore the Puppet'. It kinda got political, I guess."

"Nothing like honorable warriors to fall into scheming politics," Quarasha muttered, looking over the datapad's files... then frowning. "...I can't access some files here."

"Uh, yeah." Ana shifted, eyeing the exit. "...I corrupted some of the files on the datapad. I made copies, but they're encrypted. Again. Re-encrypted." She shrugs. "Sorry."

Quarasha's glower deepened. "...so, after I asked you to unlock the files on this datapad, you chose to only give me some of them? Is this your standard service, or do I need to upgrade to the Super Deluxe package?"

"They're... not relevant," the slicer said, squirming in her seat. "Personal messages. Family and shit."

"A Mandalorian's family tends to be more Mandalorians. More people that will try to kill me."

"You can't know that."

"One of them already tried to kill me!" Quarasha shouted. "I need to know who else might be coming after me!"

"So you can kill them first?" Ana shouted back, finally looking the Sith in the eye.

The plateau of silence held between the two for several seconds, Quarasha staring down the troublesome Jedi not nearly worth the price she'd already paid, and Anakithane holding her ground against a Sith's desire to kill anyone in her way.

Finally, Quarasha cleared her throat. "...and here I thought you had no spine."

"...yeah, shocked myself," she muttered back, but held the stare.

"People are trying to kill me. I'm seeking leverage and knowledge of my enemy's resources. These are not simpering civilians we speak of."

Ana shrugged. "And if you kill all of 'em and throw their bodies into a star and then collapse the star into a black hole-"

"I tend to avoid that degree of overkill."

"-would it change anything? Whoever's doin' this would just look for a different merc. And I ain't gonna let you grab a kid and start cutting to get info."

Quarasha stared at the slicer for a few more moments. "...you truly have a low opinion of my moral compass."

"You have a moral compass, Sith?"

Ana could see Quarasha's hands tighten on the datapad. "If I didn't, I would still be in the warm bosom of the Sith Empire. I would not have put my life on the line to battle Zakuul." She broke into a sneer. "And I would have a much less polite reaction to your insults."

"Yeah, you're all heart." Ana shook her head. "...I know folks that vouch for ya. But... end of the day, I give you info and someone innocent gets hurt? It's on my head. I can't ignore that, and I can't trust a Sith with that info."

Quarasha rolled her eyes, going back to the datapad. "...such a noble criminal," she said, pointedly ignoring the slicer's one-eyed glare.

At least she had the messages between the deceased Ordo and his client, but they weren't exactly helpful. Whoever the Ordo's paymaster was, they were keeping things professional and discrete. No smalltalk, no account information, no names, nothing that could point to who was behind it all.

"...you said that this seems like SIS encoding. Were you able to get into the account of whoever was speaking to him?"

Ana scowled. "I didn't try."

"...ah, more morality?"

"No." She paused. "Well, yeah, a little. But also, SIS protects their mail and redirect servers real well. Honey-traps, traces everywhere, proprietary security systems, partially-isolated monitoring stations..."

Quarasha nodded in understanding. "...in other words, if you tried to slice it, the Republic would be displeased, and send a nasty note."

The image of a Republic SpecFor team kicking down the door to her apartment flashed through Ana's mind. "Somethin' like that. Still... it's at least something."

The Sith Lord looked over the slicer. She did half the job, refused to help further, sneered at her, insulted her... the little schutta was just another paranoid Jedi. But... it was at least something.

She sighed, tossing a credit chip at Ana. "...fine. Full payment, I'll keep your... loyalties in mind if I ever have need of your help again."

The credit chip disappeared before it could hit the table, Ana pocketing it before glaring up at the Sith. "Ain't you just a peach."

"...no good deed goes unpunished..." Quarasha muttered, moving to the exit, the dive's patrons being sure to give her a wide berth.

"Yeah? How many of your evil deeds went unrewarded?" the Jedi shot back.

For just a moment, Ana saw the Sith's hand flick into her coat, right to where an instrument of death was no doubt tucked, leaving the slicer's throat dry... before, at last, Quarasha left, saying nothing at all.
« Last Edit: 11/21/17, 10:55:15 AM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #66 on: 09/20/17, 01:37:12 PM »
A Good Talk

Network Access Sector, Nar Shaddaa

Many years ago, Apprentice Quarasha had stumbled upon a very simple question she could not answer: Why did Nar Shaddaa matter?

She knew why Spacers, Smugglers, Criminals, Bounty Hunters and the other dregs of the galaxy loved it. There was business, Hutts, people, crime, reasonably priced drinks... but it was just a gigantic failure of a city. For every square meter of even moderately legitimate business, there were kilometers of slums, crime dens and worse.

Lord Zedney had just smiled at her when she asked it, when she laid out her arguments, that legitimate people were better off just moving their business to some other planetoid, like they had done long before. His answer, once he reminded his energetic student that the Hutts seemed to enjoy the disorder the criminal element provided, was but a single word.

Infrastructure.

A long, long time ago, the Hutts had developed one of the Holonet's largest financial data hubs, here on Nar Shaddaa, and it wasn't going anywhere. Records of trillions of credits flowed through the datahubs every hour of every day, the pocketbooks of every hutt, gangster, petty criminal, "legitimate businessman" and more on record... plus a nightmare of a security system, preventing anyone unauthorized from tapping in.

Well.

Unless a dear old mentor who valued the power of credits, and the value of knowing where those credits were going, had arranged a series of bribes decades ago to install a hidden access port in the bowels of the network.

It was hardly unlimited access. The security systems were too sharp for that, but if fed the right account numbers, and with a bit of patience, it would skim off a lot of data from the flow, right from the source.

Quarasha shifted in her improvised seat. The datapad was still skimming the data on the Vippit Erif Msitpab and his little cartel, it had been for the last two hours and showed no sign of stopping. And so, Quarasha was sitting on a large coolant pipe, in a cramped alcove only just large enough to fit the Sith...

...and all too aware that slipping off the pipe could lead to a very inglorious puddle of flesh on the floor fifty meters beneath her. Or possibly leave her in two pieces if the line tied around her waist went taut too late. The things one does to save a Republic world from famine.

She'd had a lot of practice at dealing with boredom like this, when you're not only waiting for things to happen, but can't move for fear of the plan going bad or slipping off a cliff. You check your gear, go over your plan, read some archived news reports on a datapad, let your imagination play out little scenarios, all with one eye on the thing that truly mattered...

<BZZT> ... <BZZT> ... <BZZT>

...at least, until your comm goes off. Someone was calling "Dalen", of course. Hopefully not another idiot claiming that the latest news out of Odessan was just a hoax. "Dalen," she said as she picked up, the voice modulator kicking in.

"Do you know what a nutcracker is?" said a low, male voice... familiar somehow, but not one of Dalen's normal clients..

"A kitchen tool for cracking nuts. Who is this, and what is 'nutcracker' a euphemism for?"

"The M300 'Nutcracker'. Republic military system, pretty ugly by their standards. It's a sniper rifle, meant for putting holes in armored droids, especially ones built to shrug off heavy blaster fire. It does that by firing a round nearly fifteen centimeters long faster than the speed of sound-," he said, as though reading off the weapon's spec sheet.

The voice... too familiar, and the Force was pressing at her mind now. Something was wrong, very wrong... "You didn't say your name."

"I thought I made a better impression on you, Ahnshal. Haledus Ordo."

Quarasha swore to herself, double-checking the progress of the datapad. He had tried to kill her a few weeks ago, a jetpack and blaster rifle nearly catching the Sith off-guard, pressing her for a surprisingly long time before she could disable his jetpack and start questioning him.

But... she had been convinced to set the Mandalorian free. Killing him wouldn't solve the bounty, it'd just kick the can down the line longer, and a friend thought that he could be convinced to reconsider.

"...well, that plan didn't work, thank you Myst..." she thought to herself, letting out a long sigh. "Is this a courtesy call, thanking me for sparing your life?"

"You can look at it that way. It is a courtesy, a chance to give you last words, a last request, a chance to monologue for ten minutes about your glory." She heard the rifle go click over the comm. "I know you Sith love doing that part, at least."

The Sith frowned. The blasted datapad was finally done with its skimming, but now she just needed to escape. The alcove was well covered, though, and she couldn't see the Mandalorian from her limited vision. "...so, you felt like giving up the element of surprise? You can't shoot me here, not without collateral damage. And the Hutts will have your head if you do. A good attempt at fishing for my location, but-"

"You're in Network Access, hooked into something on the ceiling. You're right, I can't hit you up there, but you can't get down without becoming skeet. And I'm good at shooting skeet."

"Psychological warfare's an old game, Ordo." She drew the short Lightsaber attached to her belt. She hadn't brought her Lightspear, far too obvious a weapon for a simple bit of sneaking, and she was starting to regret that. "And there's a word for people that try to shoot Sith."

"You're going to deflect a bullet that blows holes in five centimeters of hardened durasteel?" A chuckle from Haledus' end of the line. "Hell, if you promise to try, I'll let your boots hit the ground."

"...why..." Quarasha muttered into her comm.

"What, you're not curious if the bullet would melt, pass through singed or bounce off and knock your saber into you?"

"Not that why. I don't care about that why. I meant the big why. Is this about your damn brother?"

The comm went silent, one moment, then two, before Haledus spoke, the hard edge returning. "No. Although it's not holding me back either. Handorit... I miss him, but you're always ready for a brother not making it back. He fought well and died with honor. So no, this isn't about him."

"...best not tell him how poor Handy actually died..." Quarasha sighed, weighing her options as she clipped the datapad to her belt. She couldn't survive the drop without the rope, at least not in a position able to move quickly, or at all. She could hide herself with the Force, but not the rope she needed to slow her fall.

And she couldn't fly.

Ah, well. She still had her best weapon ready. "...fine. You're just being a normal merc, not a vengeance driven one. That doesn't answer the question."

"I think I'm missing the part where that's my problem."

"I could call in assistance from a friend, and all I'd have to do is wait. We must have something to chat about until then, right?" Quarasha said with sugary sweetness.

"You know what will happen to them," Haledus growled.

"I'll get enough time to hit the ground and escape, one way or another. Better odds than I have now."

He was trying to hide the disgust in his voice, but couldn't quite succeed. "...you'd bring someone that trusts you here to die... for a head start."

"...ha!" Quarasha grinned as she spoke. "Does that sound so surprising for a Sith? For one of the boogeymen of the Republic, and of your famed rogue Ordo clan? Don't you think I'd watch the entire moon's population be slaughtered if it'd lead to my safety? But you wouldn't pull that trigger, would you?"

"I'm a Mandalorian, girl," Haledus said, distaste dripping from his voice.

"No, you're not. A Mandalorian, the ones that fight with the clans, they wouldn't hesitate... but that's not you. Oh, you're a far better man than most of the Mandalorians I've met, but that's not what you care about. You want to, no, you must be better than them."

"Shut it, schutta."

Quarasha laughed, laying into the comm. "You wouldn't be with them if you could! You won't bring harm to anyone that comes because you don't want to be that sort, the bloodthirsty mass-murderer, you want to be better than them! So go ahead, be the big man, strut about all you want about what you'll do, but be honest with yourself and don't claim it's because you're Sith!"

There was silence over the comm, both in Quarasha's alcove and Haledus' sniper perch. Two sets of ears playing back those last words, making sure she said what they both heard her say...

Finally, the Sith broke the silence. "...I-I meant-"

"I know what you meant," Haledus said, his voice flat, measured. "The difference between you and me is that I never was their kind."

Quarasha said nothing.

Haledus took a long, slow breath. "...you asked why? Why my employer is targeting you?"

"...yes."

He hesitated for a moment. "How about a hint? You caused the death my employer's father."

"That... doesn't narrow things down much," Quarasha muttered. She'd killed a lot of men, in combat and... otherwise, and when you add in the number she ordered killed, or just might hold a grudge from some political ploy...

"Actually, the father hasn't been killed yet." It sounded like a joke, but there was no humor in his voice. "But it didn't surprise you, did it? If it had been true, that it was someone seeking revenge?"

Quarasha said nothing.

"You killed my brother, why?"

"...you mean, besides how the situation we're currently in doesn't give me a very good reason to keep my foes alive?"

Haledus said nothing.

She sighed. It was stupid, but... "...he wouldn't talk. His datapad was encrypted. It had been... a long time since someone went after my head-"

"How long?"

"Several months? The last time was during Zakuul's death throes." Quarasha couldn't help but laugh to herself. "...that must sound strange. But it might have simply been a one-time attempt, killing him meant less... chance..." she paused, listening to the silence on the other end. "...he scored a glancing blow during our fight. It was a good ambush. He... might not have died in battle, but his last battle was a... worthy one."

"You don't know what those words mean."

"....no, I suppose I don't," Quarasha muttered, shifting her seat on the pipe. "There's... no such thing as an honorable Sith death. And even if there was, no one would go for it."

"...do you really think that?" Haledus almost sounded amused.

"It's the truth." Quarasha shrugged. "Victory is the goal, power is the reward..."

"How many died then? For the power you still have?"

"...what power..." she muttered, shaking her head. "The extent of my power is a few friends I've found along the way, a few people that like and depend upon me, and enough credits to do... more or less whatever I want."

"How many, Sith?"

"...I don't think about it. What's the point? I was a bloody schutta back then. I killed plenty, propped up dictators and warlords, backstabbed and betrayed..." she gave a weak chuckle. "...and none of it worked. What I do now... it helps people. And no, not just those that like me."

Haledus snorted. "How much does it make you?"

"...some. Enough to pay for the things that don't." She gives another little laugh. "There's no gilded yacht in my path, I'm sad to say."

"The dead are owed their due. You know you can't escape it."

"...no, I probably can't. But does it matter? Does you blowing my head off help anyone, aside from giving the janitors some overtime pay?"

"...do you really think the Hutts give janitors overtime?" Haledus sighed. "It's strange to hear that from a woman who butchered her father."

Quarasha froze. "...you know about that?"

"Yeah. Your mother's still in that penal colony. I read that another prisoner tried to kill her a few months ago, and the prisoner was found later in four-"

."My relationship with my mother is... complicated," Quarasha interrupted, glowering. "For lack of a better word? If anyone's going to butcher her, it's going to be me."

"She sold you. You took revenge. It seems pretty simple."

"It's not."

"You deserve something worse than sipping drinks on the Smuggler's Moon," he said, but didn't sound particularly convinced.

"...when has the galaxy ever pretended to be fair?"

"Some people don't think that's a reason to keep it unfair. Your friends, for one."

There was something in his voice this time. He wasn't just talking about Mystenin... "...is your employer one of them?"

Another pause. "If you survive today, how do you think you'll die? Be honest."

Quarasha rolled her eyes. "Of old age, on a big bed surrounded by gorgeous, naked women."

Even the Mandalorian couldn't hold back his laugh this time. "Not how you want to die, Quarasha. How you actually think it'll happen?"

"...I honestly don't know. Most likely, something like this, some old horror I inflicted on someone sparking a thirst for vengeance, except with a climactic duel somewhere dramatic. Lightsabers in the rain probably. There's a few Force Users still with a thirst for my blood."

Another laugh from the Mandalorian. "Isn't that a little much?"

"I'm Sith, and the Force tends to guide things towards destinations," she said as she stood as best she could in the enclosed space, trying to stretch out her sore legs. "Sometimes dramatic, sometimes ironic, but few of the great Sith or Jedi of legend have met humble ends. So, yes, something grand and over-dramatic, befitting a playwright. That or I step on a puddle and slip-"

She felt the leg cramp, then her foot slip, all at once. Her hand flung out to try and grab onto something, anything, but the polished steel of the alcove gave no handholds, and she slammed against the pipe, off balance, scrambling and panicking as she fell.

It was halfway down to the ground when the line finally caught, the knot in the line refusing to slip. It was only a slight improvement for the Sith as it snapped her at the waist and knocked the breath out from her, with a lance of pain for good measure as she swayed gently in the air.

The clatter from the ground meant something slipped from her grasp. "...the Lightsaber..." she thought to herself, coughing, trying to regain some semblance of thought. She needed it to cut the line because-

Through the pain, her eyes shot open wide and scanned the area, finding Haledus' sniper perch in only a moment. Less than two hundred meters away, tucked into another cluster of pipes and consoles.

Quarasha couldn't see him, could barely see the glint of the scope, but he was there... and she could sense something... off.

She caught herself wondering... would she'd even hear the shot before she felt it? Would she'd feel it at all.

She blinked.

The Lightsaber flew up from the floor, igniting on the way, sailing through the air and landing in her already swinging hand, cutting the line.

Something shot past her, right where her chest was only a moment ago.

The report, loud, deafening, echoed throughout the hallway, the tearing of durasteel on durasteel sounding off far behind her.

The Force came to her, swirling around her, hiding her as she landed in a painful heap, the normally cat-like reflexes dulled by pain and panic.

A flare of danger sending her rolling to the side, just in time for the shower of shrapnel as the floor next to her exploded, the roar of the rifle close behind.

The Sith scrambled up, half running, half limping, every move sending a jolt of pain across her body... and every move one step closer to safety...

With a meter of line trailing behind her, visible to all.
« Last Edit: 11/21/17, 10:51:48 AM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #67 on: 11/03/17, 02:11:11 AM »
Exposure

Special Information Service Headquarters, Counter-Intelligence Division, Coruscant

Analyst Rolf Praden was having a bad day.

Same as all the other ones lately.

First, a two hour waste of a meeting about maintaining proper information security. It could've been replaced by a five minute song and dance about not being a damn idiot and everyone just going back to work for the other 115, but some jackass Director probably thought that wasn't emphatic enough.

But now he was two hours behind. Two hours of reports, queries, redactions and worse. Everyone said that with every galactic power punch-drunk and desperate for a breather, the intermission would be won by the best intelligence organization, not the best military.

Which meant lots of overtime.

And weekends.

And constant beratement from asshole superiors who have no idea what proper-

He had only just flicked on his console when said superior cleared his throat. "Praden, hey, how's it going..."

Rolf took a moment to steel himself before turning around. "...nothing too much, Agent Lum'berg. Just a pile of work higher than the Senate tower, you know how-"

"Yeah, I'm going to have to stop you there, Praden," Lum'berg drawled on. Rumor around the division was that once, a long time ago, Bhil Lum'berg showed an emotion. Rolf wasn't convinced. "There's a big project that was assigned to our group, and you know what? You're just the man for the job. Comes from high up, too."

Rolf had to hold back the frown. "...it can't be good news. Lum'berg doesn't know the meaning of the term..." he thought, trying to push away the cynicism before he replied. "..I suppose? What's the assignment?"

"Senator Rhybak's opening an investigation into a tainted source. Trying to, you know," Lum'berg said, giving a little faux-punching motion, "knock it out. So, I'm going to need you to look through the database and look for aliases and find out who's compromised. Top priority, you got that buddy?"

He shrugged. "Sure, keyword search for sources, shouldn't take me-"

"I'm going to just... stop you right there, pal. See, the Senator's really pushy on this. Full search, all text. Can't have any slip ups, right?" Bhil said, with a chuckle as forced as a gizka bleating at a Sith.

Rolf, for his part, was aghast. "That... that'll take days. The number of false-positives... I suppose, but I'm going to need to reassign my other-"

"No, sorry Praden, but I'm also going to need you to handle your normal workload too. Everyone has to pitch in to the effort, right?" he said with a wink utterly devoid of anything resembling enthusiasm. "I know you can handle it."

"I... th-there's... ways I can do some of that, do stuff on the side... but... it's days of work! You can't just double my worklo-"

"That'll be great... and when you're done with that, I'm going to need you to put together a threat assessment and determine which other agents might be compromised," Lum'berg said, with an awful grin and a big thumbs up. "Knew I could count on you, pal, knock 'em dead," he said, walking off before Rolf's mind could catch up to his ears.

Rolf slowly turned back to his terminal, eyes wide in disbelief. "...I'm... I'm just gonna burn it all to the ground. One of these days, just... fire... fire everywhere..."

The "Ping!" from his terminal broke him out of his daze. He tapped on the message, the details spilling out over his screen. Full, exhaustive, incomprehensibly detailed search, from the office of Senator Rhybak, sealed investigation, don't tell anyone we mean it, list of names...

Rolf blinked.

Quote
...following are the list of names and aliases that are known to have been used by the Enemy Agent:
[ul]
  • Quarasha
  • Quarasha Ahnshal
  • Lord Quarasha/Ahnshal
  • Dalen
  • Maisey
  • Baisey
  • Jaysey
  • Gray Zero
  • Little Yellow
  • Ash Agent
  • Agent Ahn
  • Vao's Little Helper
  • The Crimson Devenger (sic)
[/ul]

The list went on for some time, but his eyes were focused on one name in particular. "...oh shit..."



Sixteen Months Ago, Gray 17 Cantina, Coruscant

"...but... I don't have those kind of credits!" Rolf whined at the size-and-a-half-too-large Houk cracking his knuckles.

"Mister Pol hears that a lot. Mister Pol doesn't believe you. Mister Pol wonders if you might need incentive."

"...c-come on, it's just a swoop bet! I'll... I'll have the credits in a week, next payday, promise!"

"Mister Pol hears that a lot too," said the Houk. "Mister Pol thinks you might have other bets. Mister Pol doesn't like it when people do that. They lose."

"Next week! Next week, I promise!"

The Houk leaned down, the brute's rancid breath clogging up the Agent's nose. "Ten thousand. Next week. Or Mister Pol will be very unhappy that he trusted you again." He straightened up, but those dark, heavy eyes never left the man.

"D-don't worry! I'll... I'll have it!" Rolf squeaked, stumbling away while all of his bones were still in one piece.

Technically he had the credits. Eight saved up, another two coming on payday, but he also had rent, payments on that speeder, repair bill for the damn speeder's clunker of an engine, Mhary's birthday was coming up, plus a general desire to eat...

"...maybe a loan, just a few thousand more, get my head above water. Can probably find another bookie to-" The Houk's face flashed in his mind. "...no bets. No betting. Ugh. There... has to be something..."

He fell into the damn loaner speeder, a piece of crap that could barely stay aloft when his belt began beeping. His comm, maybe Mhary asking what he wants to do this weekend... he could use the distraction, and she was always good for that.

He tapped his comm, trying to put on a cheerful voice. "Hello?"

"Mister Praden." The voice on the other end was cold, formal. A woman, but... mechanical sounding. A droid, just someone with a masking program?

"...who is this?"

"If I said I was a friend, would you believe me?"

"Hah." Rolf shook his head. "No. And I was looking for a name."

"Would 20,000 credits buy me privacy?"

He froze. Enough credits to pay off Pol, get something nice for Mhary, shove down the throats of those repairmen... far too good to be true. "...technically, zero credits would be most private of all," he said, trying to not to sound too suspicious. "If this is a prank, it's not amusing. And I'm not a good person to get on the wrong side of."

"Neither am I. Is this signal secure?"

Rolf hesitated, then enabled his holocom's security. Nothing untoward detected from the other end, at least. "It is now. So, I repeat, who is this?"

"Call me Ahn. I work for a classified section of the Republic's intelligence division, the Special Internal Republic Security division. We specialize in identifying and neutralizing potentially exposed intelligence personnel."

"Exposed as in public identities?" He blinked. "And neutralized as in-"

"-as in made not a threat. We prefer subtle methods." A sigh from the other end. "And exposed as in either compromised or made vulnerable to becoming compromised. These double-agents can be quite devious, my group was formed to better investigate such threats, without running into bureaucratic hassles."

"That must be nice," Rolf grumbled to the voice.

Ahn chuckled. "It has its moments."

"...why are you contacting me?"

There was a pause from Ahn. "Two reasons. Both somewhat awkward. First, we identified a member of SIS Counter-Intelligence that may have exposed himself financially to a criminal syndicate-"

A shiver went down Rolf's back. "That race... that race was rigged! There's no way the compression chamber could've failed like that, it was a great line and-"

"And I don't care." Ahn sighed. "You're a problem we can neutralize by throwing the cost of a few tables at. I love those problems. But your position at SIS gave me an idea."

"...here it comes..." he thought, glaring at the comm. He needed that money... but not this much...

"One of the hazards of working outside of established bureaucracy is that we have difficulty navigating it well. When something needs to be done, we can do it quickly, but the data requests are just a nightmare of forms and redactions and saying exactly as little as possible to get what we need without exposing ourselves. The division's entire purpose is to cut through those problems, not get bogged down in them."

"...so..." Rolf said, waiting for the shoe to drop.

"Since you need to become aware of SIRS existence, we could use your help. We know there's agents in SIS that may be compromised, but that internal affairs and counter-intelligence might not have enough to go on to open an investigation." The woman gave a little laugh. "The less red tape I have to wade through, the better."

"And why me? There's higher ranking agents out there."

"Besides that I already have to save your ass? I don't need a middle manager, I need data from someone that actually works for a living."

Rolf couldn't hold his chuckle back there. "So, it's twenty thousand per?"

The voice on the other end turned cold. "This is not a business arrangement. I am bailing you out of a mess you made for yourself. And if you send me information about worrisome agents within SIS, I can help them too, and we can make the Republic a safer place. What do you say?"



Present Day

"Stupid stupid stupid kriffing stupid!" That bailout hadn't been the last one. Always one thing or another, and he had the worst luck with swoops. And he always felt good, because he... gave... them... names...

Agent Ahn... he must have mentioned her at some point. His searches would come up with his name. And someone else might be doing the same searches.

Maybe this was a trap? Or a test? A... way out?

.......or...

He had proof that a Republic Senator was trying to root out a Sith's turned intelligence assets.

Sith were rich. Usually.

...and it's not like the Republic had ever done Rolf many favors. Mhary would understand, just... need to explain it to her after their big payday.

He set a few generic search commands to run and quickly moved away from his desk. Cig break, simple, no one would pay him a second glance, even that bastard Lum'berg wouldn't bother with it. Just need to get outside, somewhere no one was watching, and send a simple message...



FROM: rp99.freeHoloMail
TO: aahn.anonyMail

I know who you really are, Q. Family's looking for your assets. I know who's behind it. Half a million and you can know too. Offer expires in three hours.

-P



FROM: aahn.anonyMail
TO: rp99.freeHoloMail

Done.

Who?

-Q



FROM: rp99.freeHoloMail
TO: aahn.anonyMail

Here.

ATTACHMENT: Internal Investigation Request - ARhybak.msg

-P



FROM: aahn.anonyMail
TO: rp99.freeHoloMail

Payment sent.

I suggest running. Hutt space is lovely this time of treason.

-Q
« Last Edit: 11/03/17, 03:39:32 PM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #68 on: 11/20/17, 10:24:34 PM »
Confrontation



Golden Sunrise Apartments, Coruscant

Alyonna blinked her eyes open in her pitch-black bedroom, trying to focus on the nightstand clock. All while trying to ignore the dull throb in her head, reminding her that the third round of drinks with the lobbyist from Phaesta was a bad idea.

As was the glass she had after getting back to her apartment. Businessmen trying to profit off recovery efforts made her skin crawl, and what made it worse was that everyone knew they were needed. The Empire probably didn't need to worry about that, such a damned shame...

Eventually she figured out the time and let out a small groan. Earlier than she liked to wake up, but files to review, reports to read, galactic news to catch up on and a hangover to deal with. She'd be a bit tired, but isn't that what Caf is for?

Clad in a robe and a grimace, Alyonna stumbled her way to kitchen. The windows were blacked out, the entire apartment bathed in darkness, as between the normally bright city lights of Coruscant and Alyonna's particularly good night vision, if the place wasn't completely dark she had trouble getting a wink of sleep.

A few haphazard slaps and jabs later and the caf machine rumbled to life. The sound of real beans, grown off world where there was actually some still natural soil, ground up was one of the smaller pleasures Alyonna allowed herself. The caf could get expensive, but some small indulgences could be tolerated...

"Cream and two sugars in mine, if you please," came a voice from the darkness.

Alyonna just nodded at the voice, watching the machine work.

And then her brain caught up to her ears.

She whirled on the voice, her hand grabbing at where a pistol should be, her eyes focusing on the figure in the chair, shrouded in darkness. "Who is there?"

The figure gestured and the lights rose, revealing a Twi'lek woman, black stripes tattooed across her face and lekku, clad in black robes with a red trim, a long staff in her hand with what could only be a lightsaber emitter at the end.

The Sith, Quarasha Ahnshal.

"Whenever I do this ploy," Quarasha began, "I always wonder how long it would take my quarry to realize I'm here. I'm half convinced that I could have sat here for an hour and you wouldn't have noticed me, but I do hate wasting time," she said with a faint smirk.

Alyonna's hand was empty, the pistol that should have been hidden under by the stove not where it should be. "...who are you," she said, feigning ignorance, "and why are you here?"

The Twi'lek rolled her eyes. "Do us both a favor, Senator. Save us time and stop playing dumb. I found the scattergun and blaster rifle too, by the way." She gestured to the other chair in the living room. "Please join me, once your caffeine is finished brewing."

Alyonna fought to keep her voice steady, keeping the kitchen counter between her and the Sith. "If you demand. You are Quarasha Ahnshal. Sith. Formerly of the Sith Empire. Formerly an Ambassador for that Empire. Former Revolutionary against the Zakuul Empire. Former Slave. Current pest. Did I miss anything?"

Quarasha tapped the staff in her hand. Lightspear most likely, a design the Zakuul Knights preferred, one that Alyonna knew Quarasha adopted towards the end of Vaylin's reign. "You forgot former assassin and current businesswoman, to be honest. Although I suppose the latter could be seen as being a pest."

"And Sith Ambassador means assassin anyway, " Alyonna muttered.

The Sith let out a little chuckle. "Too true. Oh, and I don't actually need caf, I'm quite awake as it is." Her grin was near predatory, her eyes watching the Senator's every move, enjoying a small measure of delight as she saw Alyonna's hand shake as she poured her cup.

"...building security-"

"Has been negated." Quarasha gave a small, casual little shrug. "Still alive, of course, but they're well secured and their systems won't be alerting any authorities. I suppose you could try screaming for help, but..." she let the words hang in the air. "...it might just be a better idea to chat. I've come such a long way, after all."

Alyonna's nose twitched as she took the mostly full mug with both hands. "Why not just kill me in my sleep?"

"You presume I want you dead, Senator," Quarasha said, pulling a flask out of her robes. "Want something a bit harder? It might settle the nerves."

"I have my own whiskey.." A glass decanter was quickly pulled out of a cupboard, a faint grimace on the Cathar's face revealing that, yes, the scattergun that was supposed to be hidden there was missing. "...so, you are not here to kill me?" she said, trying to keep the hope out of her voice.

"Your death or survival matter little to me, Senator. At this time, in this place, the only thing I care about is my survival." The haft of the Sith's spear tapped on the chair opposite her. "So why don't you sit down, and we can have a nice, friendly chat."

The whiskey didn't do much to calm the Senator's nerves. At her heart, she knew that she was probably already dead. Just like she had been when a half-dozen Sith had charged her unit's position on Feldinar. Just like she had been when her landing craft on Zelai was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Just like she had been when the general retreat from Ziost was sounded. "...if you kill me-"

"Yes, yes, I'm sure you've set up a dastardly series of triggers and reports that would implicate me as your killer no matter what steps I took. One doesn't order a Sith's assassination without ample security measures in place, isn't that right?" Her friendly smile turned to a glare in but a moment. "Now sit. I can kill you just as easily no matter where you are in the room."

"Yes, and the chair is a power play," Alyonna said as she stepped into the living room, holding onto her mug for dear life. "You wish to control all aspects of this encounter. You want me nervous and afraid."

"Is it working?"

Alyonna didn't respond as she sat down in front of Quarasha, looking the Sith Lord in the eyes.

Quarasha returned the gaze. "You tried to have me killed at least three times."

Alyonna said nothing.

"I'm fairly certain we never met before, so I can't help but wonder why. And I would rather like you to stop, of course."

Alyonna sipped her drink, staying quiet.

"It would help things if you said something," Quarasha said with a sigh.

Alyonna continued her stare. "Help whom?"

"It's almost like you can't trust anyone these days," Quarasha muttered. "It's not like I tied up security guards and broke into your flat... fine, how about a little game?"

"I have heard stories about Sith games."

"Only the fun ones, I hope," the Sith said with a wink. "Truth or dare, but without the dares. We trade questions and answers, and see if we can't resolve this without someone being turned into a filet. Sound fair?"

"A-as fair as anything tonight, I think," Alyonna said, her voice catching as her eyes flicked to the spear still in the Sith Lord's hands. "I start. How did you get here?"

Quarasha gave the senator a pitying look, although if it was for the stutter, the naked power play or the question itself, Alyonna couldn't tell. "Honestly, Coruscant's security isn't remotely secure. You need to feed countless billions of people every day here, and there's too many freight haulers to properly search. It was a bit chilly, and required credits to bribe the pilot, but it wasn't even close to the most challenging insertion I've done."

"Pfah, I assumed that much. I meant how did you get here? Into my living room, no less!"

A dismissive wave from the Sith. "Security has access to every flat. And security tends to expense food for the long nights. The delivery girl is also fine, by the way. And ten thousand credits richer."

"You bribed a delivery girl..." Alyonna shook her head, sipping her caf. "No mind trick?"

"It's less reliable than you think, particularly for me. But for a girl earning little to nothing every day, what happens to the rich and powerful... a year's pay makes it easy to ignore." Quarasha gave a casual little shrug before her voice turned to a growl. "Now then, my turn. Why are you trying to kill me?"

Alyonna froze, staring into the Sith's violet eyes. "...you are not going with the simple questions."

"I prefer to cut to the chase," she said, tapping the haft of her lightspear.

"Yes, yes, very subtle. Because you are worth killing. Sometimes, it is a simple as that."

"That's not an answer."

"Then a question as an answer. How many innocents have you caused the death of?"

"Oh, who keeps count..." Quarasha said with a sneer.

"How dismissive of you. You wish to know, so I ask again. How many have you caused the death of?"

"The way you phrase it, you mean more than just how many I've killed personally, don't you."

Alyonna narrowed her eyes. "Yes. I do not accept wishy-washy excuses. How many innocents have you caused to die?"

Quarasha narrowed them back. "Then I'll follow your lead, Senator and Captain. How many innocents are on your head?"

She paused. Too many. One would be too many, and it is more than one. Too many years in the military, in the middle of a hot war. "Too many. But that is not the question. Perhaps you should estimate. How many digits of people have you caused to die?"

Quarasha sighed, tapping her spear. "...less than you think, I wager. I have caused some death. A lot of it, admittedly. But when I was a diplomat, I sought to resolve things without much loss of life. A King here, a representative there, a single life taken instead of thousands. It's about stability, Senator. The Empire needed stable vassals, and I provided them without needless losses. Even at the most, I can't see myself leading to four digits of death."

"No?" Alyonna shook her head. "Did you hear of the Qinlan Massacre? The rightful heir died mysteriously. Intelligence says it was under your watch. A year later, the new king's abuses led to protests. A massive demonstration in the capital city of Qinlan. The king sent in his army. Two thousand people died."

"...I had nothing to do with that."

"You did not? If you throw a ball, are you not to blame for where it lands?"

Quarasha rolled her shoulders, but her eyes never left the ex-soldier before her. "There were two resolutions to Qinlan, Senator. Install a friendly leader that would allow his world to be vassalized by the Empire, or a full invasion. Which outcome would you have preferred?"

"Ah, yes, that excuse. You saw no better options without looking, so there were none. It is not as though you could have defected."

The Sith growled. "I'm sorry I didn't grow up in the grand and glorious Republic, Senator. The Sith chew up and spit out weaker Sith than I was every damn day. I acted to create a better Sith Empire."

"Good intentions to help you sleep. You did not kill all of them, you let some live, so it does not matter how many corpses you created. Is that your excuse?" Alyonna said with a sneer, staring down the Twi'lek.

Quarasha tapped her spear, letting the sound echo for a moment.. "You're doing a poor job at keeping me from killing you."

"Pfah. I was dead the moment you entered my apartment. Has groveling ever caused you to spare someone?"

"...yes, once. But it was an odd case. And, admittedly, he was an excellent groveler."

"And I do not grovel."

"Clearly." Quarasha sighed. "I did what I had to do to survive. The Sith Empire is not a soft place, and one's reputation is like a coin. You never have enough, and you must spend it wisely. A politician should understand that much."

"Fool."

Quarasha sighed, tapping her Lightspear again. "We can at least do without the insults, hmm?"

Alyonna rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes, political power is a coin that must be spent and earned. But what it is spent on is important. I serve my people, my world, and I work to make the Republic a more honorable nation."

The Sith couldn't quite keep the laugh out of her voice. "...a Cathar in the Republic speaking of honor? I'd think the word would be banned, after the Mandalorians-"

"Pfah. You do not understand the word. Few do, and even fewer understand how important it is in politics."

A grin fought for space on the Sith's face. "If your plan is to alert security guards with my laughter, Senator, you're on the right track."

The senator sighed again. "The senate has a great many rules. But a surprising number are not true rules, but simply... traditions. Habits. Ways of bringing up votes, counting votes, time for investigations, old rules, uncodified, dating back centuries, millenia."

"Rules that you can break if the cause is right, hm?" Quarasha smirked.

Alyonna shook her head. "Not as you're thinking of it. Yes, sometimes, in times of great peril, action must move faster than the Senate can provide, or an old tradition must be worked around. But if that tradition is repeatedly broken, it always makes things worse."

"Oh?"

"The rules are bent, and then broken, and then ignored. Often the tradition becomes codified, like what was done with term limits. But only after much damage is done, and then the flexible tradition becomes a firm rule. How many of those worlds you 'helped' into the Empire's good graces had political traditions that you stepped on?"

"...stepped on or violated repeatedly with a large hammer?" Quarasha shrugged. "More than a few, depending on your definition. I did what I had to do to get the result I needed. It was often 'victory or death' in those days."

"And how often did those traditions become violated again by the locals?"

"Often. Show people there's a quicker way to get things done, and they'll take it."

"They already knew. All you showed was that others would do it first. Is that not part of the Sith way, do unto others before they do unto you?"

"...a bloody Republic Senator is trying to lecture me about proper politics..." Quarasha muttered to herself.

"The difference between me and you, and a sadly large number of my colleagues, is that I see the way this goes. If politicians continue to act without honor, without an eye towards respecting traditions, then the Republic will fall. Either by being too cumbersome to serve its people or because it is taken over by those too adept at corrupting it."

"Alright, fine, you're a true believer," Quarasha said, rolling her eyes. "But I'm a damned nobody now. All I have are credits, the Force and some connections, mostly people who don't know who I am or do and barely trust me. I'm no threat to the Republic, and I haven't been one for a long time."

"Really." Alyonna stared the Sith down. "And if I asked you how you found out that I was behind this, would it be connections in the Jedi Order or connections within SIS that led you to me?"

Quarasha opened her mouth... but gave a sigh. "...SIS. Your attempt to root out the rest of my contacts tipped off an agent I had in counter-intelligence."

"How-"

"He was a low-level analyst," Quarasha interrupted. "Debts to the wrong people, I approached him as a member of a secret Republic counter-intelligence agency. Paid off his debts and left him enamored enough of me that he fed me agents that might be compromised."

"So that you could compromise them."

"Of course."

"Then he is an idiot."

"A useful idiot, Senator. We both know plenty of those. And you really think I have agents inside the Jedi Order?" Quarasha asked with a faint smirk.

"Agents? No. But I know you have friends in the Order."

"Yes, people I met while I was risking my life to fight Zakuul," she said, her voice turning sour at the end.

"For your benefit."

"For everyone's! I didn't have an army at my beck and call, I didn't have a 'chosen one' that a third of the galaxy started to worship for no damned reason, I had to craft something out of nothing but those that wanted to fight and had no avenue to! And I knew it was only for the duration of Zakuul's reign, and I was happy to see it gone!"

Alyonna only let a faint smirk through at her description of the 'glorious' Eternal Alliance, but the last sentence made the Senator's eyebrow raise. "Is that so?"

"SIS really has done a shit job then..." Quarasha grumbled. "It was part of the pitch. No one in their right mind trusted me at the start of it, and everyone had people in the group that they didn't fully trust. So, it was just for the duration, and everyone would go back to the Republic or the Empire or the middle of nowhere and... whatever happened next happened next."

"I know that's what you said," Alyonna muttered. "But do not expect me to believe that you were happy to give up power."

Quarasha rolled her eyes. Some days, it felt like she had only turned into a spy out of self-defense, since everyone thought she was manipulating everyone anyway... "...fine. Think what you want."

Alyonna measured the Sith with her gaze. She knew that sound... "Like that you're building up an army for the Sith Empire?"

The Sith blinked, looking back at the Senator. "...when did I start doing that?"

"Oh, you were quite clever," Alyonna said, racking her brain for what she remembered of that one report. "Credits from accounts that SIS linked you to have been spent on equipment and materiel, sent to locations where they were ferried away by unknown vessels. One of which spectographically matches a freighter you captured called the Demeter."

Quarasha's jaw was hanging, the Sith left mouthing her confusion. "...how can ships be compared visibly like that? There's countless ships of the same type."

Alyonna shrugged. "It has something to do with pitting from micrometeorite impacts. I am a Senator and I was a soldier, analysts have details I do not need to know."

"...I... fine. But even if I believed any of that, there's no link to the Empire there..."

"Except that your former apprentice, the Sith Lord Asori Alnas, is heavily connected to that ship and its shipments."

"You can't be serious. I have nothing to do with that girl anymore-"

Alyonna gave a triumphant smirk, feeling the Sith on the defensive for once. "We even know where you've been sending them, we can attack your base in the outer rim and-"

Senator Rhybak blinked for only a moment, but in that moment the Sith was on her feet, the lightspear's blade ignited and humming next to her ear, a look of pure death on Quarasha's face. "You will answer me. You will tell the truth. Or you will die."

Alyonna's eyes were wide, and she was trying very hard not to move her head. "...y-yes..."

"Do you have any planned attacks or retaliations on that site?" She growled out, and the Senator could see the grip on the lightspear tighten.

"No." Alyonna's throat seemed suddenly dry.

"Why not?"

"The intelligence was unclear. Alternate explanations. Credit accounts were guesses. Pitting identification not completely reliable."

Quarasha relaxed, just slightly. "...so, this was 'you just told me' play?"

"Yes." The humming in Alyonna's ears were a very good reminder to avoid nodding furiously.

"Feel like a particularly good idea right now?"

".......it worked?" Alyonna said, trying for a smile.

Quarasha stared at the Senator for a few moments, before disengaging the lightspear, walking back to her chair. "...you're fortunate I enjoy a poor hand played well."

Alyonna nodded quickly, grabbing a decanter from the side-table and upending a good measure of whiskey into her caf. "...so, you are building an army."

Quarasha glared at Alyonna. "Quiet. I'm thinking."

"...about?" Alyonna winced. She just couldn't help herself...

The Lightspear ignited again, the Sith staying seated for now. "About how much to tell you. And what to do with you. And now if you know what quiet means."

The Sith sat there, staring at Alyonna, watching her take what looked like very comforting gulps from her Corellian Caf. The senator could only imagine what was going through the Twi'lek's mind, and most of her guesses involved methods of disposing a body.

Alyonna hated her imagination.

When Quarasha finally opened her mouth, she spoke slowly, like walking over a minefield. "How much of my past do you know, Senator?"

Alyonna hesitated. The Lightspear had gotten a hair too close already, she had no interest in... aggravating the woman across her. "...you were born on a Republic world. You were sold into slavery as a young girl by your parents. You were transported on the Demeter until you were sold to a wealthy Imperial." She hesitates again. "You were... mistreated-"

"Enough," Quarasha said, a twitch on her face belying the Sith's disgust at the coming part of the story. "You know the skeleton, at least."

"You have left behind many. Some justly made."

Quarasha glared and Alyonna cringed, hiding behind her mug again. "...as I was saying. That base you identified... it is a colony. Mostly self-sufficient with a low technology base, aside from what's needed to keep the Demeter running, the homes warm and colony safe from slavers. It barely has a police force..."

"Then why-"

"The colonists were slaves. Most of them, at least. People that have been freed from slavers. Usually by killing everyone intending to sell them for a profit."

Alyonna hesitated. "Only most?"

"The colony's existed for several years. People have sex. That has consequences. Do you wish a diagram?" Quarasha said, glowering at the woman.

The senator couldn't quite keep a smirk off her lips. "Hah. Is that all of them?"

"There's a few that were crew on those ships. I was... convinced to let them live." Quarasha sighs, trailing her fingers along the ridges of the spear's haft. "The galaxy is seldom simple."

"It just seems odd. You act as though I had insulted your moth-" Alyonna stopped, a syllable too late.

Quarasha held Alyonna's gaze for many seconds past comfort. "My relationship with my mother is complicated. But the people of that colony are innocent. Eventually they might wish to step out into the galaxy, but that will be their choice, not yours, not mine. Until that day, I will protect them."

Alyonna stared at the Sith, nodding faintly. "...then I will not stand in your way."

"How would you?"

The senator's eyes flicked over the the lightspear. "...your point is taken."

Quarasha shook her head. "...this was a mistake."

"...in more ways than you think." Alyonna muttered, finishing off her caf and refilling the mug with more whiskey. "The truth is that I had stopped trying to kill you. The warrior that tried to kill you last, he was... uninterested in continuing the task."

"Giving up on a hard job? That doesn't sound 'honorable'."

"It is not that he felt unable to complete the task. It is that he felt the task was no longer worth completing. And then Jedi confronted me over it, although I do not know how they found out-"

The Sith smirked. "I do. But please continue."

Alyonna rolled her eyes again. "...the Jedi persuaded me that the focus should be on eliminating your connections within Republic intelligence. They think you are not a true threat to the Republic, and that eliminating you and not your assets would leave a job half-finished. And if you are defanged..."

"...then I'm not a threat worth sending people to murder," Quarasha finished.

Alyonna scowled. "You are no doe-eyed innocent. There is enough blood on your hands to cover the surface of Nar Shaddaa. But you might count as a pest to be ignored on a far-off world."

"A pest? I'm surely more than that."

"Focus less on words."

"Are you certain you're a politician?" Quarasha said, smirking at the senator.

Alyonna rolled her eyes. "I am a soldier that has adopted a new arsenal. You know the point. If you are not subverting the Republic's honor and defenses, if your aims are just your little colony and doing... whatever you spend your time doing outside the Republic, you could be ignored. I simply have trouble trusting a Sith."

Quarasha looked over Alyonna for a few moments, weighing the woman again. "How many of your soldiers-"

"If you do not want a mug thrown at you, you will stop talking." The senator's voice was casual, calm, but Quarasha didn't need the Force to sense the tension underneath.

"...very well." She could grant the senator that privacy. "The odd thing is, I was always mocked for being too soft and weak by other Sith."

"Because you did not drink the blood of your enemies?" Alyonna muttered, a faint slur in her words as the whiskey got to work.

"...eh. You're more right than you think. It's quite selfish, of course, but in the Empire you have to be willing to kill anyone that might get in your way. Otherwise... your enemies will know you have limits. And they will exploit them, every chance they get..."

"Ah, and those without honor will always defeat those with honor, hm?"

The Sith shrugged, her eyes leaving the Senator for the first time. "...when I acted with no concern for anyone but myself, I prospered within the Empire. It was... a good time. And when I started thinking about others..."

"You gave information to the Jedi Order. That betrayal found its way into another Sith's hands. And he had you arrested for treason. I know your file, Sith."

Quarasha shivered, just for a moment. "...his torturers went into my mind, Senator. They tore at my memories. They turned my... my favorite moments..." Her voice faltered as the false memories returned...

Her bid for freedom denied. Her love mocked and tossed aside. Her greatest triumph failing at the last gate.

They were false. She knew it. She tried to avoid thinking about it, but those old scars couldn't be avoided forever, and every time she thought about the scars, they came back with a vengeance...

Quarasha cleared her throat, shaking her head to dislodge the cobwebs and looked up... down the barrel of a scattergun. The one that had been hidden in the cupboard, the one that Quarasha had relocated to under the couch.

"Hide weapons better," Alyonna said, eyes full of rage, as she pulled the trigger.

Click.

Quarasha calmly looked back up the barrel, raising an eyebrow, meeting the Cathar's gaze as the situation slowly dawned on her.

Click.

Click.

ClickClickClickClickClickClickClickCl-

A blast of the Force sent Alyonna back, landing in her chair with an audible grunt. A distant clatter pointed to where the empty scattergun landed.

"...I am not that foolish, Senator. Good effort, though."

Alyonna rubbed her shoulder, glaring at the Sith. "...just kill me."

Quarasha frowned, watching the Senator.

"It is what you came here for," Alyonna spat at the Sith. "My head, yes? Take it if you will. There are enough ghosts to follow you, enough victims. Someone will have their revenge."

Quarasha sighed, rising to her feet. "...I have plenty of them, yes. And maybe someone will eventually take revenge. At this point... I don't care. If they come, I will do what I can to survive. If you try again..." she trailed off, giving the unignited lightspear a twirl. "...but you aren't trying to kill me. These days, that's enough for me."

"I will defend the Republic-"

"Oh, please," Quarasha said, rolling her eyes. "I have no quarrel with the Republic. Between you, the anarchy of the Sith Empire and the Cult of the Outlander, I'd much rather the Republic win out. Your spies interest me only in that they have resources I don't." She gave a little smirk. "...besides, they tend to get more from me than I do from them."

The Senator's glare could strip paint from walls, but she kept seated as the Sith strolled through the living room. "...you expect me to forget this?"

"To forget how easily I can get to your home and kill you?" Quarasha smirked over her shoulder, on her way to the front door. "Hardly. But I'm not your enemy, Senator. Leave my people, my friends and myself alone, and I'll never trouble you again. In fact... when you need an agent in the dark places of Hutt space, I'll do it once for free."

"...I may consider it. Schutta," Alyonna muttered, finally turning to face the departing Sith.

And, with a wink and a bow, Quarasha Ahnshal opened the door and disappeared into the night.
« Last Edit: 11/21/17, 10:20:02 AM by Orell »
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #69 on: 12/25/17, 12:50:13 AM »
Last Jedi in Orell's Old Republic

---SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI BELOW---

At another time, in another place, in another reality, where this meeting on this topic could possibly make any sense...

Kyri looked around the table, giving her most diplomatic smile possible. "Uh... so, what did everyone think?"

The cross-talk from the assorted group, Sith, Jedi, Soldiers and Civilians left the whole thing in a muddled mess, until a growing cackle silenced the rest of them. "I'm still thinking about the rest of it," Quarasha said, grinning at a Jedi across the table, "But one thing I know is that the Princess owes me twenty credits."

Shaantil scoffed. "He could have been lying."

"She admitted it herself! No blue blood, no grand lineage, just a powerful Force user coming from nothing." Quarasha's grin only seemed to grow. "It's a shame I'm probably not her type."

"Yes, such a shame that she has standards and a moral compass." Shaantil's voice was as dry as Jakku itself, the Miraluka's sightless glare meeting the Twi'lek.

"...she should've gone with Kylo," Asori, the much younger Sith Lord, grumbled.

"Oh, come on..." Lien said back, shaking his head.

"Come on! It would've been so romantic, him making her harder-" Asori stopped, glaring at the snickering coming from the soldiers at the table. "Come on! Jedi compassion, Sith strength, it's romantic and sexy-"

"-and destined to go completely wrong," interrupted Merrant, the Zabrak's gaze fully patronizing. "Save it for your fanfics, kid."

"It's dramatic!"

"It's cliche," Quarasha said, rolling her eyes.

Asori glared at the Twi'lek. "You're one to talk! Besides did you see those abs?!"

Merrant and Shaantil hesitated for a moment, but Quarasha scoffed. "It takes more than abs, girl."

As the Force Users fell into an argument about the merit of abs, Lien looked across at the smirking Rattatki. "So, honest, how pissed off are you about Hux?"

Effet shrugged. "Not?"

"Come on, he's a pitiful lackey of a whiny Sith, he gets smacked around by everyone and he has the strategic mindset of a toddler! Ky could out-maneuver his ass, and she'd have a shitton more dignity!"

Effet just stared at the Republic soldier, even as the good doctor let out a harumph. "...and?"

"What do you mean 'and'?"

"It's how things are." Effet shrugged. "Most of the Imperial flag officers are bitches of their Sith, and they're usually only good at getting their people killed and being loyal."

"He wos gonna shoot Kylo!" Kyri shouted.

"They're also good at backstabbing their way into a promotion," Effet said, chuckling. "Alright, what would you have done different, Colonel?"

Lien shrugged. "Easy. Send the fighters out in wolfpacks, scout out the system, look for traps or safe harbor. Fog of war's too dense to just chase and pray."

Kyri chuckled. "Also, blow up the chatty pilot?"

Effet laughed. "Easy target, it's not like you're going to take prisoners."

"Repub- Rebe-" Lien sighed. "...the good guys aren't exactly innocent. Did anyone not kriff shit up?"

"The wookiee?"

"Dumbass flyboy should've followed orders. Admiral Hopeful should've given actual goddamn orders to department heads. What the hell happened to the command structure there?"

"...it got spaced?" Ana muttered, the slicer weakly speaking up.

Lien blinked. "...right. Still."

"...besides, the really dumb stuff was in the slicing."

Kyri frowned. "Really? I thought it looked pretty legit."

Ana snorted. "Oh, please. Okay, slipping out of a prison cell like that, sure, done shit like that. But the super-duper-mega Star Destroyer? Ain't no way you can put a hole any size into a shield, even for a second, without anyone detecting it, for exactly this reason!"

"Yeah, but-"

"But they get stopped by the last door? Come the kriff on, that shit's so trite!" Ana yelled, getting worked up by the desecration to her chosen profession. "Major tech areas are locked down on the perimeter, techs don't like having to slide keycards at every kriffin' door. And if the room was that important, where were the guards?! That whole ship stuff was totally contrived."

"...I guess?" Kyri said, knowing full well that she acted just like that every time anything medical came up on screen. "And no real slicer would just turn on their team like that, right?"

Ana paused. "Uh. Sure." She glanced around. "...the Jedi stuff was neat, at least."

Everyone nodded, in full agreement. The Jedi stuff was, in fact, neat.

"It needed more lightsaber fighting, though," Asori said, much to the dismay of all of the Force users at the table, and the rest of the group wanting to talk about anything else...

((...suuuuuuper just for lolz.))
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Orell

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Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« Reply #70 on: 12/30/17, 08:26:01 PM »
Ahnshal Life Day

(( Belthiana Ahnshal was first seen in Hard Choices and last seen in the (long) Closure stories. She hasn't had the best life, but she's deserved every ugly moment of it.))

Republic Penal Colony L-634

"Ahnshal, where are you?"

Belthiana Ahnshal gave a small sigh, looking up at the guard's voice, surrounded by the stalks of the crops she was tending to. They never liked coming into the fields, not since one of the other prisoners used the coverage to set all manners of snares. The caught guards were never seriously harmed, it just gave the prisoners no end of a morale boost to see them clambering back to their barracks caked in mud.

She waved her hand above the stalks. "I'm over here, sir."

A long sigh was somehow audible through the sounds of labor. "...get your leks out here. Warden has a thing for you."

There was a collection of giggles and guffaws from the other prisoners at work as Bel stood, grimacing as her back objected to the strain. There was no mistaking it, she wasn't as young as she once was, too many years bent over engines, crawling under chassis or lifting a few pounds too much in exactly the wrong way.

Thirteen years from now, when her time would be up, Bel probably wouldn't able to stand up straight without a bit of pain. Price of staying alive, she supposed, but she would miss being limber.

She gave a tired smile, brushing the dirt off her gray and well-worn coveralls as she came out of the field. "Sergeant Phels, is it? What does the warden need?"

The sergeant shrugged, the young man's light armor glinting beneath the sunny sky. Phels was one of the more passive guards here, seemingly just happy for a post on a moderately temperate planet where no one's actively shooting at him, but Bel had learned early the value of staying on guard with the guards. "He didn't say. Just told me to escort you to one of the visiting rooms, so let's get on with it."

Bel fell in behind, a faint frown on her face. Since arriving to L-634, she'd had few official visitors. A Republic officer, some SIS agents, even a Jedi, all asking questions about one thing only...

...but that was years ago. No one had bothered with her since then, the few distant relations wanting nothing to do with her, the authorities either happy with her answers or bored with what little she knew. So why now?

"How are the fields?" Phels idly asked.

Bel smiled, looking around the camp as they walked. "It's going well. A few months, we'll have a full harvest. I think the warden's trying to make us self-sufficient."

"Fewer crates to unload? Yes, please," Phels chuckles, glancing at Bel again. "Warden's not working you lot too hard?"

"I think the warden's rule on working us too hard is that he can't." She gave a little laugh of her own. "No one's passing out, and the food's still better than Tatooine's."

"That's a pretty low bar. Warden keeps talking about how important hard work is for rehabilitation, yadda yadda yadda..." He shrugged slightly, and Bel finally noticed exactly what the young man was glancing at.

She let the warmth fade from her voice, crossing her arms over her chest, looking away from him. "It's his prison."

Phels got the message loud and clear and stayed quiet as they entered the colony's main administration facility, understatedly comfortable as it was. It was only a low-security penal colony, and the primary security method was just how isolated they were, with no other settlements within weeks of walking. Even the perimeter fencing was mostly for show, more to keep wildlife out than prisoners in.

And, much to Bel's continuing sorrow, it was beginning to feel like home.

"In here, Ahnshal," Phels said, rapping on the door to one of the small apartments that serve as a meeting room. "Warden said you have as long as you and your visitor want, just don't break anything or kill anyone." At Bel's confused look, he shrugged. "His words."

Sergeant Phels walked off, and after a moment's hesitation, Bel opened the door.

The smell hit her before the sight of it did. A veritable feast laid out on the table within, a glazed hunk of nerf, steam rising from candied fruits and vegetables, bottles of what looked like fine wine, dishes she'd only seen in obnoxious holos and cloying advertisements.

She took a step forward before she noticed the one other presence in the room. A younger woman, Twi'lek, yellow skin wearing a simple shirt and trousers, holding a plastic cup of wine, staring at one of the tacky paintings on the wall. She could see just enough of the woman's face to know who it was, someone she hadn't seen in seven years.

Well, seven years if you didn't count nightmares, at least. "...y-you..." Bel said, the words catching in her throat.

"...Belthiana. Happy Life Day, give or take a few weeks," Quarasha said, her eyes still fixed on the painting. "I'm not good at keeping track of such things."

Bel stared at the woman, at the Sith, at the face attached to a knife thrust into her stomach, the face that stared into her husband's dying eyes. "...w-what..."

Quarasha look at look at Bel and gave a small sigh. "It's... complicated." She gestured at the feast. "...eat, drink. Nothing's poisoned, and maybe the wine might help you relax," she said with a note of annoyance she couldn't quite suppress.

Bel staggered to the table, shakily pouring the nearest bottle of wine  into a cup and downing most of it in one go. "...i-it's good..."

There was a note of disgust on Quarasha's face. "...should've gone with cheaper wine, if it's going to be guzzled like that. Oh, don't stop on my account, just try to savor it a little?" she added as her mother froze mid-drink.

Bel nodded dumbly, staying quiet for a moment as she eyed the meal. Company be damned, Bel wasn't sure if she'd ever eat food like this ever again. "This... this is a Republic prison. How... how?" she said as she started to shovel food onto her plate, the wine's warmth spreading from her belly.

"Simple. I own the warden."

"...of course you do," Bel said, disgust managing to sneak into her voice, despite the woman's better instincts. "What of his family did you threaten?"

Quarasha laughed. "Well, that wine worked quickly."

"I-I mean-"

"You meant that a Sith would naturally use violence to get her way?" Quarasha's smile was patronizing, but it was at least something of a smile. "I don't always work that way. Rarely, in fact."

Bel just stared at the Sith. For some reason, Quarasha got the impression that her mother wasn't quite convinced by her earnest reassurances. After all, it was a look that Quarasha had seen far, far too often over the years. "Fine. He's slightly corrupt, I found out, he doesn't want to lose his position and he finds the price of my silence quite acceptable."

"The warden never struck me as a particularly corrupt man," she said, but without much enthusiasm. Gratitude over a practically perfect nerf roast sapped even the most idealistic of their harsh recriminations, and Bel's first taste of the former-beast somehow beat out even her imagination.

Quarasha shrugged, finally turning away from the awful painting and approaching the table, snagging the bottle of wine for a refill. "The smart ones rarely do. Just small things so far, a few prisoners died that weren't properly reported, and the funds allocated for their confinement are still being collected."

"Oh. Simple embezzlement?" Bel almost sounded disappointed.

"I imagine he'd object to calling it 'simple'." Quarasha smiled for a moment at her mother's faint chuckle. "He's using the funds to better equip the prison. More farming equipment, better defenses, some actual entertainment material for his guards and probably you too. It's probably why he's getting away with it, he's not using it to get rich and most that find out are probably fine with his end-goal."

"A generous embezzler?" Bel muttered, refilling her glass of wine.

"Yes, rather like a noble Sith. Rare, but not entirely unheard of."

Bel paused, a fork full of nerf halfway to her mouth. Quarasha's cheshire smile threatened to split her head in half, but the older woman swallow managed to swallow the far-too-good meat. "...why are you here, Q-... Qu..."

Quarasha looked away, a flash of... something passing across her face. "...if it helps, you can call me... Force, what wretched name did I use, Maisey?"

"...you don't like it?"

"It's... flowery," Quarasha said with a grimace. "It was a fake name I used a long time before then, when I wanted to seem unthreatening."

"...you used to like flowers..." Bel said under her breath, glancing at Quarasha, just in time to see the Sith's face flicker as she pushed away an unwelcome emotion.

Silence reigned in the room, Bel continuing to dig into the roast, Quarasha staring at her wine. "...you asked why. It's... complicated."

"Yes, you said that already."

"I say it a lot about you." She sighed, running a finger around the rim of her glass. "Last time... we didn't part under the best of circumstances."

Bel stopped eating, the meal suddenly tasting of ash. Those last moments... she had replayed them, the whole week, even the last days with her Eyan'Aola in her head more times than she could count. "...you murdered my husband and stabbed me in the stomach."

"Alright, fine, nearly the worst of circumstances." Quarasha took a long swig of her wine, and even Bel could see how uncomfortable the Sith was on the subject. "I wasn't in a particularly good mood. Or good state of sanity. In any case, I've had seven years to think about it."

"And?"

"I... I don't..." Quarasha scowled, glaring at her glass. "Damned drink. Fine. I don't hate you. Or him."

Bel stared at Quarasha, unable to believe her ears. "...what?"

"Oh, you damn well know that you heard me," she half-growled. "I'm glad you're here, I only wish Hul was in his own prison camp far away. You sold me, both of you, and then thought that your punishment should be having a cozy little house in a desert while I was being abused by fat men with a taste for young Twi'leks!"

The sound of cracking plastic drew Quarasha's eyes down to her cup, much of the wine now flowing down her arm. "...it's been a... touchy point for a while."

For her part, Bel looked about as large as a mouse, with how far she'd sunken into her chair. "...I-I... I'm sorry... we..."

"I know." Quarasha gave the broken cup a long look, then pulled one of the bottles to her hand. "You were deep in debt and desperate. If you had other options, you would have taken them, but you didn't. And so... you didn't." Quarasha shook her head as she pulled out the cork with the Force and drank straight from the bottle. "I hated you for so long... but I've heard enough variants of your story over the years."

"...that was enough?" Bel asked, pushing away an instinct to tell Quarasha to use a damn cup.

Quarasha shook her head. "No, but it was enough that I remembered how you reacted to a young slave-girl on the run." The Sith finally looked her mother in the eye, granting her a shrug and a somewhat inebriated smile. "A ploy, yes... but it was a ploy that would not have worked on the people I had imagined my parents to be."

"You must have thought we were the type of people that would bite the head off of a newborn kitten," Bel said, giving her daughter a soft, sad smile.

"Not quite. The Sith Empire is a wonderful education in the depravity of certain sorts."

Bel flinched, going back to the meal, trying to push away her thoughts of the Empire. "......the food is wonderful, Quarasha."

"The chat was going to be awkward enough as it was, there might as well have been something guaranteed to be good," she said, but wasn't able to keep her mother's gaze. "Something else troubles you."

"People visited me..."

Quarasha shrugged. "I know. Military, SIS, Jedi, the Republic can be quite paranoid when it comes to Sith. I don't blame you for telling them what you knew."

"It wasn't much... but it's not that." Bel took a deep breath. "They showed me your dossier."

Quarasha closed her eyes, taking another swig straight from the bottle. Quarasha's dossier, at least the copies that the Sith had managed to acquire from the Republic's intelligence agency, included a lengthy list of her accomplishments. Systems vassalized, political leaders murdered, known schemes that boosted the Empire's strength, nearly every dirty deed she had done in service of the nation that had allowed her to go from slave girl to ambassador.

"For the record, they've somewhat exaggerated my accomplishments," Quarasha said, still avoiding Bel's gaze. "Part of the problem with my work for the Empire, a reputation for successful clandestine operations means that some genuine accidents get blamed on you. I suppose I should take it as a compliment."

"You've... killed so many." Bel shook her head. "Murdered so many. I... I did all that. Hul and I, we... if we took you to the Jedi, maybe..."

"Maybe I would have been raised entirely humorless and dull?" Quarasha sighed. "A senator told me recently, if you throw a ball, you're responsible for where it lands."

"One you tried to kill?" Bel said, but there was no heat, no judgement in her voice.

"No!" The Sith hesitated. "Okay, I did threaten to, but she tried to kill me first!"

Bel couldn't hold back the laugh, a soft shaky thing, as much a release of tension as any good humor. And as her mother slumped down in her chair, Quarasha couldn't help but join in, and the room echoed with the laughter of mother and daughter for the first time in years. "...alright, alright, that was a touch childish of me..."

"No, n-no... it's... it's that my daughter threatens to kill Senators! She murders people, destroys kingdoms, conquers worlds, such a wonderful and innocent little Eyan'Aola!" Bel's laugh grew fractured, unsteady as she spoke, her eyes welling with tears as she grappled with her cup of wine, downing it all and following it with more from the bottle to quiet the manic humor.

Quarasha sighed, watching her mother calm down, clutching the bottle like a lifeline. "...I... try not to think about it much," Bel finally said.

"If you throw a ball, you're responsible for where it bounces," Quarasha repeated. "But, I wager, only the first few bounces. Me threatening Senators would be, oh, bounce 50, more or less. And bounce 45 involved me organizing revolutionary cells that aided in Zakuul's defeat, by the way."

Bel scoffed, peering down at the bottle. "...we might need more wine if you're going to spin kathcrap like that."

The Sith just shrugged as she downed the last of her's. "I brought six bottles. And not enough cups. I simply meant that I'm no monster, no great villain scheming to destroy all that decent people hold dear. There's... even works of charity of mine out there, mostly kept secret."

"Ah, you have to keep that dark reputation intact?" After more wine than she'd had since she was a much younger, much happier Twi'lek, Bel wasn't even trying to hide her disgust.

Quarasha sighed. "No, mostly because no one would believe they're actually charitable if they knew I was involved. Like I said, that reputation is a killer. Anyone known to be a Sith has to work ten times as hard as anyone else to earn even a shred of respect and dignity."

"You could fix that, my Eyan'Aola. Go to the Jedi. Become a Jedi. You... you should've been one..."

"...that's not me." Quarasha sighed, slumping down in her chair. "It will never be me. Maybe once, long ago, but no, not now."

"Why?"

"Because... I like who I am now." Quarasha stared at her bottle, half speaking to herself. "I'm not being used by owners or masters or other Sith. I'm not trying to balance my actions with an eye on the most insane out there. I may be mostly stuck in the shadows, resigned to pits of worlds, but I'm more free now than I've ever been. I won't throw that away for the Jedi's shackles."

"They'd be that bad?" Bel said, with a note of disbelief.

Quarasha shook her head, still staring at the empty bottle of wine. "I... I wouldn't be me. And that would be bad enough. Sorry if that disgusts you."

Bel watched the Sith, the woman... her daughter, hunched over, her voice sounding more and more like the scared slave girl Maisey, and a small slice of hatred faded away. "...it doesn't."

"No need to lie to me, dearest mother," Quarasha said, contempt seeping into her voice.

"...when Hul and I had you, Quarasha... we added something beautiful to the galaxy." Bel smiled faintly, remembering those old days, when the family was whole and happy, before the debts, before the Hutt's strongmen, before... "...and then we destroyed it. If you took what we did and... and made something out of it, something you're proud of... then no, I can't be disgusted by it, my Eyan'Aola."

Quarasha was stone-faced at her mother's words, but a faint twitch showed they had indeed left a mark, however small it might be. "So, I don't hate you and you're not disgusted by me." She gave the empty bottle an appraising look before setting it aside and pulling out another one. "I suppose that counts as progress."

"It wasn't a really high bar, was it?" Bel said, shaking her head with a laugh.

"No. But it will do." Quarasha sighed again. "...stay, leave, eat, get drunk under the table with me... there won't be any interruptions."

"I'd hate to waste the meal." Bel smiled at her daughter, gratefully taking a fresh bottle from the other woman. "Tell me how you got it here, fresh and hot, and... I'll tell you stories about your father?"

The Sith rolled her eyes, but without much feeling as she loaded up her own plate. "...I may throw things to stop you. If I don't like them. But fine, it honestly wasn't that difficult, it just involved an Alderaanean master chef, three crates of thermocrete and one of the more unusually placed listening devices I've ever found..."
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas