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Author Topic: Rogue  (Read 3564 times)

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Offline Seraphie

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« on: 05/14/16, 03:05:30 PM »
((I'll be using this thread to track my character's continued move forward in the timeline. If anyone wants to be part of the story, either by adding to this thread or through rp, pm me!))

((Warning, the thread is violent, though not graphically so.))

((Timestamp: 1 year, seven months after the start of the invasion by Zakuul))

Cher stopped and fell to the ground as Sergeant Olfry’s fist went up. She scanned the area through the vegetation, catching glimpses of the temple ruins ahead of them. There were no visible guards. In fact, she caught sight of no one in the area they were moving in on.

Six months as a rogue. It was still odd to her, in her mind, to think of herself as rogue while still serving in the Republic military, but that’s how she thought of herself since she’d left The Wraiths. She’d spent the first four weeks under arrest, going through round after round of interrogation. What was The Wraiths’ plan? Why did they turn against the Republic? What allies did they have? What sabotage had she done to the ship when she’d left to try to stop them from leaving? How was it possible that that simple sabotage had somehow led to the Isotope 5 drive exploding, destroying The Wraiths’ fleet as they tried to abandon the Republic? She’d answered as best as she could, being as honest as she could and glad for what information she’d made sure Admiral Wysan didn’t give her.

It had been another two months after that of training, retraining and drills before they’d finally assigned her to active duty in a unit. Her rank had been reduced to private and they’d put her on the front line in their fight against the Sith and the Empire. They’d tossed her from unit to unit, filling in holes, until they’d put her in Vrake unit, commanded by Lieutenant Iskkar, an ambitious, ruthless officer who Cher thought might just be the person in the galaxy she despised the most, even more than any Sith. To her squad, she seemed an anchor, steady and resolute. She spent much of her down time, evenings and between missions training in close quarters combat, with punching bags and speed bags. What her unit didn’t know was that this was the only way she could flush out her constant anger at the missions they were continuously, recklessly, uselessly being thrown into. While Zakuul held the Core and beyond under its heel, they took out Imperial listening posts, relay stations, supply routes, and now, apparently, research sites.

She looked up as she heard, then saw, their air support moving in. Bombs fell fast and hard, chipping away at the ruins that were quickly swallowed up by a cloud of dust. Their air support moved off and as the dust settled, the order came in over her comm, “Move in. Choke the perimeter, let no one through. Round up all survivors.” She was on her feet and moving quickly, riffle raised and ready. As she reached the outer edge of the half collapsed ruins, she still hadn’t seen any hostiles. She moved into position at the edge and looked left and right for her fellow squad members. None of them seemed to have found anyone either. She heard her Sergeant check in, “Cresh squad, perimeter clear, no movement.” Besh and Desh checked in too, then finally, Alpha, “Alpha squad, we have the hostiles secured within.” Their Lieutenant’s voice came over the comm, “All squads, meet up at Alpha’s location.”

She moved cautiously, continuously scanning the edge of the vegetation as her seven person squad, led by their Sergeant, made its way around to the other side, where a half collapsed arched doorway still let them enter. There was no comm chatter, no fist bumping, just a silently moving formation. Within, they caught up with the other three squads and she swallowed her bile at the sight. Within was a small research post, which appeared to mostly be cataloguing and packing archeological finds. Five scientists huddled in a corner, trembling, eyes flitting every which way in panic. The bodies of eight others littered the area, under collapsed boulders and rubble. There were no soldiers here, no agents, no Sith. Just archeologists doing their work.

Lieutenant Iskkar stepped in and surveyed the area. He moved towards the cowering scientists and barked at them, “Who’s the leader of this operation?” The archeologists looked at each other, then back at the imposing figure before them and finally one pointed to a body and stammered, “He… he was….” Lieutenant Iskkar looked at the corpse, then back at the other scientists, “The Republic refutes the Empire’s claim on this moon. This in now Republic space.” The scientists stared, the one who had spoken, nodding his head vigorously, “Of course, we’ll pack up our things and leave immediately.” The lieutenant barked at them again, causing them to cower further back into their corner, “You’ll pack nothing. I’m not letting this research fall into the Empire’s hands. Who knows what they could do with it.” He turned back to the Sergeant in charge of Alpha squad, “Place charges and spray the place down. I want this place incinerated.” He glanced back at the scientists for a moment, then back to the Sergeant, “All of it.”

Cher fought to keep quiet, but finally took a step forward, “Sir, may I escort the prisoners of war back to the shuttles for evac?” She heard her Sergeant suck in his breath through his teeth, even through the helmet. Lieutenant Iskkar turned on Cher, glowering at her, “I see no prisoners of war, Private, only casualties, Imperials eliminated by our air attack.” One of the scientists started crying quietly. Cher stood her ground, “Sir, Republic regulation three-oh-four point six…” The lieutenant turned away from her before she’d even finished the regulation number, pulled out his pistol, and shot all five scientists in the head before any of them even had the time to cry out. He turned back to her as her voice trailed off. “Do you see any prisoners of war, Private?” Cher clicked her heels together, “Sir, no, sir.” The lieutenant smiled thinly at her, “Good. You’ve earned Cresh squad the honour of burning this place to the ground.” He looked at Olfry, “Get to it.” The Sergeant saluted, but Iskkar had turned heel and left before he had even acknowledged the order.

They set the charges and sprayed the place down in silence. As they walked away, back through the thick vegetation, flames and smoke rising behind them, Cher began to question, for the first time, but not the last, if she wouldn’t have rather stayed behind in the flames.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #1 on: 05/21/16, 12:12:37 PM »
((Timestamp: one year, 11 months after start of Zakuul invasion))

((Trigger warning: traumatic combat experience, though nothing graphic))

Cher watched the shrinking medical freighter from the view port until she felt the gentle push and the view was replaced by star trails. She watched the star trails, feeling her thoughts stretching out like the stars.

She shifted her weight off her left foot for a moment, flexing her foot. Her cybernetic knee, which had had to be replaced, now connected to a metal tibia, made of some new alloy with a density almost the same as bone, but eight times as strong, and below it a cybernetic ankle and heel. At least they'd been able to salvage enough of her skin and muscles that nothing looked cybernetic, and it had made the physical healing easier.

The psychological healing was another matter.

Her mind travelled back as the star trails stretched behind them. When Iskkar had ordered their squad into the bunker without so much as an infrared scan, and dismissed Sargeant Olfry's request for a 90 second delay in order to take some scans, she had understood that Iskkar was trying to be rid of them. Private Urdoon, the only one in their squad who was as ruthless as Isskar and who constantly sucked up to him, had for some reason been given a lone, private mission by the Lieutenant. She had seen Iskkar do the same with Besh squad, objectors placed in a reckless line of fire so that he could fill the squad with those of his mind or molding.

As they had walked into the bunker, she wasn't even sure she cared if she died. At least this Hell would be over and she would know she'd fought a good fight. And then she'd felt it. She hadn't had her Force sensitivity force its way into her since leaving The Wraiths, but in that moment, she felt the Sith. All of them. And she was pretty sure, in that moment, they felt her too. She yelled into the comm, wanted to pull back, but her feet carried her onward as the well trained soldier she was. The Sith pulled the entryway down behind the squad as they entered. Her hesitation got her caught in the rock fall, crushing her leg and pinning her down as a red glow lit the dust and she heard lightsabers swinging, heard yells and bodies falling, smelled burt flesh and the ionized air smell of lightening. In the dark and dust, she could see nothing.

The Force pressed in on her as the pain of her crushed leg tugged her towards unconsciousness. She could feel Gormez and Fallow, having found cover and trying to defend themselves, she could feel Rodin and Olfry's life ebbing away, she could feel nothing from Chester, who she knew was gone, and she could feel the Sith, their rage, their arrogance, gloating already, taking their time, toying with their prey. The Force pushed further, in her, through her, and she fought it. If she just let go, she might kill them all, even her own squad mates. Her vision began to go red and she wasn't sure if it was from the lightsabers or from blood dripping down into her eyes. She looked up, and somehow, through the mental haze, had an idea. It might kill them all, but she'd take as many of the kriffing Sith with her as she could and she hoped the two under cover would be protected. She pulled a thermal detonator from the pack that she miraculously could still reach. She armed it for 30 seconds. She felt for the Sith, through the Force, willingly this time, and opened fire, over the rubble that pinned her down, with a non stop storm of blaster bolts. She felt some of her shots hit and inflict pain. She felt the four of them start moving towards her position. She kept firing and rocked side to side as best as she could, out of the way as shots were deflected back at her. They inched closer, in no rush. She hit 25 in the count in her head. She threw the thermal detonator, gave it her best Force push to carry it to the roof, then covered her head and gave into the tug of unconsciousness as the tons of duracreete and durasteel that had been the roof came tumbling down on top of her and the sith.

Gormez and Fallow had survived. So had she, somehow, curled up in an air pocket between boulders, her leg still pinned and crushed. The rest of the unit had not. Nor had the Sith. She should have been a kriffing hero for what she had pulled off. But no, Iskkar was furious at what he called their squad's incompetence. He had dismissed all three of them from his unit, with reprimands. She was pretty sure he had looked for some rank lower than private that he could demote her to, for having had the gall to survive.

She'd spent the next eight weeks, the last eight weeks, on the medical frigate, which was constantly on the move, trying to avoid crossing paths with the Eternal Fleet. Gormez and Fallow had come to say goodbye before shipping back to Coruscant. They'd requested reassignment to the Civil Security Forces Saresh had created as unrest spiked in Coruscant's lower levels, fuelled by a increasing shortage of supplies and and increasing population of refugees, thanks to Zakuul.

As Cher healed, and the doctors indicated that she would be able to return to active duty, if she wanted, she had requested assignment to a second line unit, like where she had served before joining The Wraiths. Her request had been accepted and three days ago, she had met her new commanding officer, Major Lewis. He was an older, gruff, no nonsense soldier, but it was clear he cared for his troops and read them well. Though she'd been carefull of her answers in every psych assessment, crying just enough, showing just enough weakness, but not too much, expertly hiding the storm and moments of despair within her, something in his gaze, as he questioned her, told her that he saw through her shield. And so he had ordered her to go home, three weeks of imposed shore leave, that had to be spent with her family, before he would let her join his ranks. She'd hesitated, but only a moment. Something told her this was a commanding officer worth doing whatever it took to serve under. She looked at him, roughly the age her father would have been, and saw her salvation.

She looked around at her small room on the cruiser that would take her to Tatooine. She sat down on her bed, leaning back against the wall, and turned her eyes back to the star trails with a deep breath. She was going home.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #2 on: 06/04/16, 05:35:11 PM »
((Timestamp: 8 days after the last post))

For the first time, this morning, it didn’t feel strange, standing on the rock, wearing trousers and a loose tunic, instead of armour. Cher closed her eyes for a moment, breathing in deeply the smells of the hot air, the hot sand, the hot rock. She opened them again, returning her gaze to the endless ocean of sand before her, her small home village nestled to the right, just on the edge of her peripheral view, a couple kilometers back. Only an hour after the rise of the second sun and already the heat was soaking deeply enough into the rock for the surface to start radiating it back. At night, the rocks got cold, quickly losing the heat of the day. First thing in the morning, they were cool on bare feet as the air and the sand around them heated. By mid-morning though, they were too hot to stand on bare foot. That was usually when she went back home.

She felt her first. Even if most of the time she was able to bury her Force sensitivity so deeply that she didn’t notice it, she was always able to feel her sisters approach. She looked down and saw Sol’ange at the base of the rock tower, heard the scraping of her gloves against the rock as she found holds and climbed up. Worn by the wind and the sand over the millennia, the tower of rock stood as a sentinel 50 meters away from the cliff that rose up behind them. As a child, the cliffs had always been off limits and she had thought some giant sand person had planted his equally giant Gaffi stick in the sand, claiming the cliffs behind for his people. She chuckled to herself at her childhood perception of a rule that she now knew existed because the cliffs hid a myriad of caves and niches in which could hide anything from a brain spider to a rancor nest.

She turned around as Ange reached the top of the 6 meter tower and smirked at her, “You found me.” Ange stopped and looked her sister over carefully, frowning with a mix of frustration and concern, “Are you ok?” Cher nodded and looked down, sweeping grains of sand off the rock with her bare foot, “Yeah, just need time to think.” Sol’ange’s frown deepened, “Last time you came here to think every morning, it lasted seven months.” Cher turned back to her sister, eyes wide in surprise for a moment, then narrowed defensively as she snapped at her sister, “Some of us like to process rather than just bury the stuff we’re dealing with.” She regretted the words instantly, seeing the look on Ange’s face. “Ange, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. I just… I deal with stuff differently than you…” Her voice trailed off and she looked down at the rock again, sweeping away more grains of sand with her feet. Ange’s voice was soft, in spite of the biting remark. Cher didn’t know where she found such patience. “Cher, I don’t bury stuff, if I did, I’d be the one up here hiding. You just don’t see me deal with it, just like you hide your dealing with it.” Cher looked up with a frown, “I’m not hiding.” Ange gave her an appraising look again, then nodded, “Good. That’s what I wanted to be sure of. Because last time, you were hiding. And then you ran away. And now you’re back, but only for a short time and I don’t want you leaving still carrying all that with you.” Cher suddenly felt the weight of her heart with Ange’s words and soft tone. She looked back out over the sands again, and over their village. “I’m trying, Ange. I don’t think three weeks will be enough to lose all the baggage. I’m not sure a lifetime will be enough. But I think I can get to a point where at least I can carry it again, without it sinking me into the sand.” Ange nodded, silent for a long moment, before asking softly, “And the old baggage?” Cher shrugged, still looking away, “It is what it is. Célest made her choice, there was nothing I could do about it, I helped get me and Stell out alive. That was all I could do.”

Ange moved forward, to her sister’s side, looking down towards her home. They stood in silence for a long number of minutes before Ange broke the silence again, with a smile, “The galoomps are chattering again, trying to figure out what young man to set you up with.” Cher snorted a laugh at the term they used to refer to the older women who’s lungs seemed to hold as much air as those of a galoomp when it came time for spreading rumors and plotting the futures of the village’s youth. “Pity any young man who falls prey to their manipulations.” Ange laughed, “I think they all know to keep away, you made that pretty clear the day you got back.” Cher chuckled, shaking her head, “Well, he wouldn’t take no, for an answer.”

Ange looked back at her sister, hesitating a moment, “How… how bad is it out there?” Cher took a deep breath, “It’s bad. And getting worse, Ange.” Ange nodded, looking out at their village again, “Some cheered the day we woke up to the news that the gangs had been eliminated. But when the star fortress showed up over our heads, didn’t take long to understand that that heel could come down on any of us next. Shipping anything is ten times more difficult now, in or out. The rich, big business moisture farms are struggling. They use a lot of off world tech, and for the last year almost, they can’t replace anything that breaks without paying the value of a house for just an electronic part. At least the smaller ones usually use local tech and the jawas never seem short on parts for that.” She looked back at Cher, “How many worlds do they hold? I heard they hold the core of the Republic and of the Empire. Is it true? Is it really that bad? Holonet communications are still so wonky, it’s hard to know what to believe.” Cher nodded, “Yeah, it’s that bad. There’s a blockade up around Coruscant and I hear Dromund Kaas has the same. They let our shuttles through because we’re going to fight the Empire. They don’t care if we kill each other, as long as we’re powerless to attack them.” Cher frowned, instinctively looking around, even though only the occasional rill could be seen in the sand, in the distance, then looked at Ange, “The Republic is being misled. The senate set up the treaty, which leaves us perpetually starving for resources, but Saresh and her cronies are whittling away what little resources we have trying to build up her own personal power base and trying to eliminate the Empire while it’s in as dire straits as the Republic. In a few years, if no one puts an end to this, Zakuul’s victory will be irreversible. Neither the Republic nor the Empire will have enough left to fight.”

Ange frowned, looking out in silence again, reflecting upon her sister’s words. Cher glanced sideways at her sister, “Looks like there’s more than just my state that’s bothering you.” Ange glanced at her, “You know I’ve never been one for taking sides and getting involved, with the Empire, with the Republic, with the gangs, with the Free Tatooine movement. Just, keep my head down, keep the farm running. I always figured the Republic and the Empire kept each other in check enough that they didn’t pose any real threat to Tatooine. But Zakuul… I’ve been thinking… maybe it’s time I fought to protect what I love, like you do, like Sera does, like Stell did.” Cher looked at her sister in silent surprise. Ange looked down and with a wave of her hand, grains of sand, like those Cher was sweeping off, were suddenly rising into the air and spinning around in a vertical circle. Cher watched in stunned silence, before whispering, “You’ve been practicing.” Ange lowered her hand and the grains fall back to the rock. She looked at Cher and nods, “Yeah.” Cher frowned, “You want to become a Jedi now?” Ange shook her head vigorously, “No, not interested in cutting myself off from my family and all that. My first duty is still to my family, to my village. I’ve just been thinking that maybe that duty means… I should be fighting for them. I’m not sure how or where though.” She looked back up at Cher, “Besides, I hear the Jedi have all run tail and hid.” Cher shook her head, “Not all of them. At least not a year ago.” Cher frowned, “The Wraiths have Jedi. They could train you without expecting you to become a Jedi. They’re a pretty lax group. But…” She looked intently at her sister, “Are you sure you want to fight? It isn’t pretty out there Ange. Look at what I’ve already lost….” Ange shook her head and shruged, “I don’t know Cher. I just feel I should be doing more this time.” She frowned suddenly, “I thought The Wraiths were destroyed, when you left them?” Cher looked over the sands again, then back at Ange, speaking softly, “They weren’t. If you want to fight, I can tell you how to find them. But if you join them, you may not be able to come back home for a long time. No one can know.” Ange’s face clearly showed her shock, but she nodded at Cher, “Well, I’ll think about it.” Cher smiled, “You can join me here each morning if you’d like, it’s a good place to think.” Ange chuckled and shook her head, “I prefer sitting in the hydroponics bay, with cool air and life around me. Speaking of which, I should get back, before Mom wonders what mischief we’re getting up to together.” Cher laughed, “You never get into mischief, of any kind, never have. You’re the responsible one.” Ange stared at her sister for a moment, her expression unreadable, “You might be surprised. I’ll see you back at home.” Cher looked over her sister curiously then nodded, “I won’t be here much longer.” She turned, as Ange started lowering herself down the rock, “And Ange?” Ange stopped a moment, looking up, “Mhm?” Cher smiled at her, “Thanks.”

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #3 on: 07/24/16, 02:16:34 AM »
((Timestamp 2 years, 4 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion))

((Warning – Another violent post, though nothing graphic, but avoid it if it will be a trigger for you.))

“Touch down in 3 minutes.”

Cher sat in the shuttle seat, rocked by the atmospheric entry, going over one last weapons and systems check. She glanced at her squad mates doing the same. She avoided glancing out the window. Her last trip to Yavin had been… well… her last, before she joined The Wraiths. It had not gone well. She’d been in a second line squad back then too, and one of the fortunate few to survive reasonably unscathed the vicious Massassi ambush. She did one last check of her rifle then cycled through her HUD’s systems and her cybernetics. Then she did it all again, trying to distract her mind from wandering into the past.

“Touch down in 1 minute. Stay lively teams. Remember, this was a Vrake unit hit and you know how they love to leave us presents.”

She scowled behind her helmet and heard the snickers of her squad mates. Vrake never left anything standing, or any survivors, except when they knew that Major Lewis’ Dewback unit was cleaning up after them. Then, they tended to not only leave material and prisoners to be recovered, but also any traps they had found carefully untriggered for Dewback’s squads to run into. They went in as if they were a front line unit whenever they followed Vrake. Rumor was that there’d been some biting, very public, exchange of wit between Major Lewis and Lieutenant Iskkar, early on in the invasion, where Lewis had rather humiliated Iskkar, but because Iskkar’s views lined up more with Saresh’s little empire, Iskkar had found himself suddenly commanding a second line unit the week after. Cher was grateful for that little turn of events, from where she looked at it now, but her adrenaline still pumped harder every time she walked on ground Iskkar had been on shortly before.

The gentle bounce and jerk of the shuttle landing pulled her back to the present moment, as did the voice in her comm, “Formation Cresh. Move out, keep alive.” Her and Dog, their sergeant, took the lead as the team moved quickly out of the shuttle, out of the clearing and into the surrounding damp jungle. Nine members. Six grunts, as they called them, including her, the muscle and firepower keeping the team safe, and three specialists. Agar was with them, their usual medic, though Sagg could do double duty if needed. They had their usual slicer, Pipes, though Cher was reaching the point of soon being able to do double duty in that as well. They had a guest specialist this time, a Republic archeologist, to assess what they might find in the research station they were sent to dust. Cher prayed to the Force that there were survivors this time, pushing the images of her last research station raid, with Vrake, out of her mind. Stone and Robbs took the middle, on either side of the specialist team, while Sagg and Boots took the rear.

Cher stooped low a few times and collected a few rocks that she dropped into her pack, as they slowly moved forward, rifles raised, ears alert to any sound that stood out amid the cacophony of birds, insects and other wildlife. Suddenly, she raised a fist and as one the team froze, barely a breath to be heard. She pointed, there, between a series of trees, with less brush under them than the rest, they could see thin… threads? wires? netting? With a signal from Dog, all took cover behind thick trees and ducked. She took out three of the rocks she’d collected and set them on the ground before her. She threw one towards the trees. It passed through and they heard it bounce and roll through the branches. She threw the second. It hit. In a flash, a column of flames rose before them, debris of bark, thick branches and sharp pieces of trunk raining down upon them, most of it stopped or at least slowed by the thick foliage over their heads. They waited. Ten seconds. Twenty. Thirty. Forty-five. Sixty. Sagg and Boots moved up right behind the specialists, Stone and Robbs moved to Cher and Dog’s position and Cher and Dog moved closer to the inferno, tossing flame suppression packs at its base. Slowly the flames disappeared as the foam spread, depriving the fuel of any oxygen. Keeping always in sight of each other, her and Dog moved around the area, checking for any further triggers or untriggered explosives, seeing glimpses of the ancient temple walls through the trees beyond the smouldering trunks. They gave the all clear and the team moved forward once again, reaching the stone walls without finding any other traps.

They worked their way around the perimeter of the wall, noting the heavy damage done by Vrake, until they spotted an archway, only half blocked, leading in. Her and Dogs moved in slowly, step by step, around the debris, as the other four grunts closed in around the three specialists, surrounding them by mobile, sentient, heavily armoured shields. The corridor wound back and forth, slowly downward, bits of it collapsed. Finally, they saw another telltale archway at the bottom of the current slope. Glued to the wall, rifle vertical in front of her, Cher leaned slowly into the opening and pulled back just as fast as blaster fire widely missed her and scorched the wall on the far side of the corridor. She pulled out a flash grenade, crouched down, and slowly let it quietly roll into the room. She counted in her head, three, four, five, six, seven, flash. Even around the corner they felt the vibration and saw the corridor brighten. Her and Dogs moved quickly in, Stone and Robbs moving to either side of them, mostly behind the wall. A group of six archeologists were curled up on the floor, some covering their eyes, some holding their heads, two still holding blasters. With lightening speed, her and Dog had disarmed them and returned to their position in the archway, all four rifles pointed at the researchers, while Sagg and Boots watched the entrance behind their specialists.

As the scientists’ vision began to clear, one began to cry, while another visibly soiled himself. A female, one who had been holding a blaster, kneeled, almost prostrate to the ground, “Please, we’re just scientists, we’ll cooperate. Please don’t hurt us. We surrender.” Cher kept her helmeted gaze on the group, “You are prisoners of war. You’ll be taken to a holding station and then processed as prisoners of war. If you’re only scientists, you’ll eventually be released. If you attack us, however, we will use lethal force in defending ourselves.” The female archeologist nodded vigorously, “We’ll cooperate. Just please… don’t… don’t burn us alive… or skin us…. or…. eat us…” Another scientist whimpered. Dog’s outrage came clearly through his helmet, “What?! We don’t do stuff like that! Kriff! We’re soldiers of the Republic!” The woman looked at him wide-eyed, “The other soldiers… they told us…” Her voice trailed off as she fought against tears. “Kriff,” Stone swore along with Dog. Cher moved slowly towards the woman, a hand held out, though her rifle still in the other hand, “They were messing with you, and I’m sorry for that. We are soldiers of the Republic. You’ll be treated fairly and we won’t hurt you as long as you come along peacefully.” The woman shirked back, as did the rest of the group, and Cher stopped, giving them time. She gave a hand signal to the team and put her rifle back on her back. The sergeant, Stone and Robbs held their weapons tight. Finally, the woman stopped shirking back from both of Cher’s outreached arms. As Cher caught hold of her and pulled her into her arms, the woman yelped, and then collapsed into a mess of tears. Cher just held her, whispering that they’d be ok, while her mind searched for a vicious enough swear word for Iskkar and his men.

An hour later, their specialists having cleared all computers, packed all artefacts and logged what they’d found, they placed the bodies of the five archeologists who hadn’t survived Vrake’s attack respectfully in the middle of the main chamber, set their charges and escorted the now less hysterical survivors, mostly in some mix of tears and shock, back around the perimeter, retracing exactly the path they’d taken, to avoid any other traps. As they passed the smouldering remains of the trap they’d triggered, then stepped further into the trees, they halted, and stood at attention, giving their prisoners a moment, all facing the now mostly hidden temple. With a nod from the sergeant, Stone hit the detonator and they all heard the boom, felt the blast of hot air, and saw the cloud of dust rise into the sky above the tree tops.  After a moment, they turned and continued their silent path to the shuttle. They boarded the prisoners, securing them and providing them some immediate rations, then buckled in as the shuttle rocked and took off. Cher looked out the window at the cloud of dust and wished she hadn’t. She turned her gaze and it fell upon their prisoners, sitting either silently in shock or shaking as they sobbed, and regretted looking there as well. She closed her eyes, but the images within weren’t much better. Finally, she passed her time back to the carrier, fantasising about the most slow and painful ways she could kill Iskkar if she ever had the chance. At least that kept worse thoughts out of her head.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #4 on: 07/24/16, 10:23:42 PM »
((Timestamp 2 years, 5 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion))

Cher closed her eyes to the star trails, occupied with her thoughts on the shuttle on the way back to Coruscant from Tatooine. She wasn’t dreading returning to duty this time. That was an improvement. Major Lewis had proved to be the leader she had hoped for and her admiration for him continued to grow. Dewback Company consisted of 30 squads, each with seven or eight permanent members, as well as a group of 40 other members, some of them civilians, a few of them Jedi, who served as specialists where needed. Each squad generally had six grunts, a medic and a slicer. Other specialists would be assigned for specific missions. Lewis always deployed two to four squads at a time for any objective. He had the squads grouped up in six platoons and each squad was always assigned with another squad from their platoon, on a rotation. It gave flexibilitiy, but meant that with time you got to know the other squads in your platoon pretty well and knew what to expect from them on the ground. It made for a very cohesive company. And unlike Vrake, Major Lewis was liked by his troops and respected for his leadership, not feared, like, now Major, Iskkar had been. They had 24 hours of group shore leave, as a platoon, every two weeks, and Major Lewis had set up a rotation so that each squad got two weeks leave after every 24 weeks of service. He personally, highly recommended going home to family on those leaves. Cher hadn’t quite finished her 24 weeks since joining Dewback, but it was her squad’s scheduled leave and so she had just finished a two week stint back on Tatooine. It had been easier than the previous leave. She’d gotten to visit her nieces and newborn nephew at Stell’s and had gotten closer to Ange, the older sister she had never felt she really knew.

It wasn’t her return to duty that preoccupied her mind deeply at the moment though, it was mail received at home.

Major, I hear you have been having a rough go lately. I know that feeling. If you would like to meet for a drink and talk, here is a way to contact me. It is not a direct line, but I will get any message.  Sometimes an old foe can be more useful that an old friend.

It had only taken a second for her to understand from whom it came. Sherra. Former head of intelligence for The Wraiths and former head of personal security to former General Lagrigo. Until Cher had joined The Wraiths. “Never trust a Sith, and that includes me,” Sherra had told her, when she had started asking her questions. Sherra had defected from the Empire, but had never abandoned being a Sith, had never had any intention of becoming a Jedi. She said she just practised a different Sith philosophy. As far as Cher could tell, she was just a Sith hiding from other Sith who’d had it out for her and was using the Republic to plot her revenge and return. She’d been bold enough to question how a Sith could hold a position of such security. She hadn’t been the only one asking such questions. She’d gotten support from Admiral Wysan. All came to a head when they openly questioned General Lagrigo on his choice and, feeling he no longer had the confidence of his troops, he’d resigned from the military completely, leaving a leadership void at the head of The Wraiths for some time. Sherra had resigned her position and had disappeared with Lagrigo, who had said he was going to find a different way to fight.

Cher had filled Ange in on the background. She was deeply concerned by the mail that had reached her home. Was the Sith stalking her family? Cher had given the town militia few details but enough information that they could keep a higher alert for any possible Sith attack. None of them underestimated the potential harm and damage even a single Sith could do if they were ill prepared. Cher had gone over many more details with Ange, who was becoming quite skilled with her current vibrosword. The two had devised an elaborate code, using mundane farm happenings to be able to speak about the Sith problem by mail while Cher was back on duty, without alerting the Republic to what they were really discussing. Ange promised weekly updates and had decided to hold off on any plans to “go join the fight out there” until things were resolved with this Sith.

Eyes still closed, Cher frowned. That still left her with the decision of what to do about the message when she was next home, in six months. Meet the Sith as requested and see what she had to say? If so, it would have to be done with the utmost discretion to not raise any suspicion towards Cher within the Republic. Set up an ambush for her? Cher doubted the village had enough people to successfully pull off an ambush against a Force user. Talk to her CO about it and see if she could bring Jedi back with her to deal with the Sith? She wasn’t sure she liked that option either, but it was an option.

Cher sighed, forcing herself to relax and easing her frown. At least she had another 24 weeks to figure it out. For the moment, she’d wait for Ange’s reports and see what the Sith did.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #5 on: 07/31/16, 01:03:06 PM »
((Many thanks to @Aureeste !))

((Timestamp 2 years, 11 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion.))

Sherraa walked into the Greasy Hutt, pausing to let her eyes adjust from the suns. Cher was already sitting at a table, dressed in full bounty hunting armour, right up to the helmet. An untouched drink sat in front of her. Around the bar, a half dozen other patrons sat with their drinks. One other female bounty hunter, still helmeted, sat at the bar. Spotting a well known set of armor, Sherraa walks to the table and asks "Major?" Cher looked up, "Not any more." She nodded at the seat across from her and took off her helmet, looking around cautiously. Sherra flipped a hand as if tossing something away. "BAH! No matter what title you now have, you are a Mojor. It is what you are." She then slid into the seat. Cher leaned in, speaking quietly, her tone brusque, "No, it isn't. And if word gets anywhere that I'm meeting with you, I won't even get to keep my current private's rank. So keep military comments out of the discussion and don't call me major." Sherraa smiled slyly "As you wish...Hunter."

Cher leaned back, slightly less irate. "So, you stalking my family now, Red, or just me?" Sherraa looked puzzled "Why should I stalk your family? Or you for that matter?" Cher eyed her for a moment, then shrugged, "Well, what do you want?"

"As I said in my message, talk and a drink."

Cher signaled a serving droid over, "Ok, I'll pay the drink, you talk."

Sherraa smiled, "I shall start. How have you been holding up?"

"Fine." the serving droid stood beside the table, waiting for an order. Sherraa ordered a Flameout. "Was that a true I am doing fine, or a human throw away comment you people love so well?" Cher waved the serving droid away and took a sip of her very clear drink, "If I'm not fine, I'll talk to my therapist about it. War's a bitch. Move on."

"It seems I have caught you in a bad mood"

Cher quirked an eyebrow at her with a hint of a smirk, "I'm always in a bad mood when sitting with a Sith, Red, or had you forgotten? Turns out, now, there's a long list people who put me in an even worse mood, but doesn't change my disposition around Sith - they aren't to be trusted. And sitting around those who aren't to be trusted just never does good things for my mood." She took another sip of her drink as the serving droid set Sherra's drink before her then moved away.

Sherraa grinned "It seems the only things I ever said that you trusted was not to trust me. But still you are family, and I do have some care for you." Cher narrowed her eyes, "You aren't family, Red. You're a threat. What do you want?" Sherraa looked at Cher as if not believing what she just said, then says quietly "Not family? Do you not rember that I am blood sworn to the Wraiths?" The bounty hunter at the bar, though trying to be discreet, was clearly interested in overhearing the conversation. Cher gave Sherraa a hard look. "You left The Wraiths. Then so did I when they betrayed the Republic."

"You may leave your family, but it makes them no less your family. I came here with no more goal than to see if I could help. But I see I should not have bothered. Good day, Hunter." Sherraa started to get up from her seat. Cher snorted and shook her head, mumbling, "Help? How could you help?" She watched Sherraa while waving over the serving droid, "Keep away from my family!" Sherraa growled, "I can help because I know what it is be be alone. To have everything you thought you knew torn away. To feel adrift and unsure. But why should you trust that? After all, I am only a Sith! As for your family, I shall do them no harm nor cause any harm to come to them!" Cher turned to the serving droid for a moment, “Jawa juice." She turned back to Sherraa, "I'm not alone. I have my family, and I have the Republic. As for our other -family-, they're dead, or didn't you know?" She gave a mirthless laugh, "My sabotage killed them all."

Sherra looked around slowly, slid back into her seat and whispered, "Some yet live." Cher shrugged and pushed the shot glass to one side as the droid set it before her. She took another sip of her clear drink, speaking softly, "Well, not everyone was with the fleet when it blew up."

"Truth" Sherraa paused. "And if two yet live, we are still a family."

Cher shrugged again, watching Sherraa closely, "So a few survived. What of it?" For the first time you hear something in Sherraa’s voice you have never heard before. Sorrow. "My only family now.'"

Cher shook her head, "I don't need cajoling and consoling and a new family, Red. I have my family and I have my squad." Cher stopped, narrowing her eyes, "What about Lagrigo? I thought the two of you were headed on some grand adventure to save the galaxy?"

Sherraa smiled, "He yet lives. As to what we have been doing, I leave that for the General to tell.'

"Then you have your family, Red. Why pine over the one that is no more? Move on."

Sherraa sadly shook her head. "I see this was a mistake. I shall take my leave. Oh, do you like poetry?" Cher watched Sherraa for a long moment, then shrugged, "Sure." Standing, Sherraa removed a rolled sheet of paper from her belt pouch. "Farewell Hunter, wherever you may fare." She set the paper on the table, then headed out of the room. Cher took the piece of paper than watched her leaving, speaking again before she reached the door, "Even if you could find a few of them, Red, what would you have to offer them? Family? Family doesn't win the war out there."

Getting no reply, Cher looked down at the paper, scowling at the Sith script. She crumpled it up and left it on the table as she got up, downed the jawa juice in one gulp, then put her helmet on and walked out. As the droid approached to clear the table, the other bounty hunter reached to grab the crumpled paper before stepping out as well.

Tave vora pragari kalv, armijio tave rokas buti siea
M'tye mada âh tave mtoni dran
M'tye krata tave jura hadzuska.
Kuris dartovi m'tye satci?
M'tye galez krata, kad
M'tye valia tik xauti
Tikazi m'tye mada atitrazi, ir
Dovanoti kuris m'tye buti.

((Translation will come in the next post, but for those who can't wait: http://starwars.myrpg.org/coruscant_translator.php ))

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #6 on: 08/01/16, 12:45:13 PM »
(( @Aureeste and @SivWysan , find your characters within! :grin:))

Cher sat cross-legged on the cool rock, as the first sun rose, eyes closed, going over the last three days in her mind.

First, there had been the meeting with Sherraa. She’d poked and prodded, wondering if the Sith knew that The Wraiths hadn’t been destroyed, wondering if she wanted to go back to them, wondering if she wanted to use such knowledge to blackmail Cher. Given Sherraa’s pining for the family she had lost, Cher was pretty sure she didn’t know about The Wraiths’ survival. How she would use such information, if Cher gave it to her, Cher still wasn’t sure. Ange had thought the Sith seemed sincere, but she’d been careful to mask her Force signature as best as she could to avoid awaking any suspicion in the Sith. Cher wasn’t sure just how good a judge of character Ange was.

Then there had been the knock on the door in the middle of that night. Cher wasn’t particularly well dressed when she reached the door, but she was very well armed. Ange, much better dressed, had answered, while Cher, weapons at ready, waited in hiding behind the table and chairs in the entry room. She’d stowed her weapons and found a better hiding spot as she heard the vehicle drive away and the voices of children conversing with Ange. Ange had found all five of them beds and Cher had waited until morning to ask them more questions. They all had the same story. Being taken from their families by bad guys and a red and black angel, who shot lightening at the bad guys, saving them. "Black and red and shoots fire from her hands when she is mad at the bad people" And they were all Force-sensitive. Even Cher could feel it. They called the one who’d rescued her the Angel. She had to assume it was Sherraa. Cher smirked at the irony of the name. Nothing had been able to contain the excitement of the younglings when they had learned that they were staying with a family with angels in their names.

Then there had been the trip to Stell’s, in the back of the cargo truck, with the kids. Ange had driven and Cher had sat in the back, fully armed and wearing her bounty hunter armour, just in case they had problems along the way. The kids had asked her about a gazillion questions along the way, about her armour, her weapons, her cybernetics, her name, her family’s name, and then absolutely anything else that crossed their mind. She had started to understand the stereotypical “just because” parent response. But their excitement and laughter had been too contagious for Cher to resist and she had found herself laughing with a freedom she hadn’t felt in years. She got hugs from every one of them when they left them with Stell, who had promised she’d work with Maerin to try to find their families and get all of them to a safe place. Aurore, now six, had been so excited to have other Force-sensitive younglings around, other than her four-year-old sister and toddler brother, that she’d become part of the group by the time Cher and Ange had left.

Yesterday, she’d done some research on Sherraa. Just a little digging, from a very anonymous terminal in Anchorhead. Owner of a Nar Shaddaa night club apparently. One with slaves. Young female slaves. Who seemed to disappear a lot. Apparently enough that there were comments about it from disappointed customers who’d returned and not found the slave they were hoping to… see. Cher would have assumed a prostitution operation, but with the delivery of the younglings, in spite of all of her suspicions, she was more inclined to believe that the Sith was probably working at freeing slaves. Or at building her own private army. Cher considered either equally possible and didn’t completely discount the possibility of a prostitution ring.

And then last night, Stell had sent her the translation of the Sith poem Sherraa had left her.

The suns blaze down, yet the rock is cool
She looks across the burning sands
She searches the deep shadows.
Who does she look for?
She may search, but
She will only find
When she looks within, and
Remembers who she is.

The words had shocked her.

Had Sherraa been spying on her that much? Did she see her as she sat on the rocks in the early morning, looking out over the sands? Cher reflected upon the words. Truth was, she was pretty sure of who she was. Or at least getting surer. She knew she was suspicious by nature, calculating, thinking more than feeling, but also knew she was deeply devoted to those she cared about, fiercely loyal, determined to fight injustice and make the galaxy a better place. But she knew that what others saw was only the first part, and someone cold, ruthless. That was who she had to be at the moment. It was who she had to be for the war. The wars. But under it all, she knew who she was, and, even if it didn’t show, for that moment, under the rise of the second sun, she celebrated that no Sith, no officer, had actually been able to strip her of that.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/16, 07:33:51 PM »
((With many thanks @Aureeste for the rp!))

Sherraa approached the small village. Somewhere around 30 houses were arranged in a couple of concentric circles, with an open space in the centre. The significant spacing between the houses suggested at the dwelling space that was below ground, away from the scorching suns. Sherraa slowly manoeuvered her speedbike through the village until she saw the house she was looking for and made a straight line approach for it, stopping near the door. As she entered the village, a number of people watched her as she moved between houses and a group of four armed and lightly armoured men moved towards where she stopped. One stepped forward with a smile, “Welcome stranger, what brings you to our town?” Sherraa replied without removing her helmet "I am here it see a friend. She wanted me to stop by for a drink and a talk." He smiled again, the other three watching her, "Who're you here to see?" The door to the entry of the nearby house opened and a woman showed up in the doorway. "She's here to visit us, Korban. A mercenary who might be helping out Stell." The other three waited for Korban but were clearly ready to walk away. Korban smiled, "The mercenary Cher told us was coming?" The other woman nodded, "Thanks for the security check." Korban smiled at her, "Always, Ange. Take care." The woman looked at Sherra and gestured for her to enter.

Sherraa slowly dismounted her speeder, noticeably favoring her right leg. "I thank you for your assistance with the guards." The woman nodded as she led the way through the entry building, out, down stairs into a courtyard, past large typical workshop doors towards a door left ajar at the far end of the courtyard. "The town has had a well trained militia for generations. They keep out the sandpeople and the gangs. Most of the time." She fully opened the door leading the way into a large room with a good size kitchen area on one side, a large table with many chairs at the back and a seating area to the other side. Cher was seated at the table and stepped up, approaching Sherraa with clearly still some caution and suspicion. "Welcome to my home, Red."

Reaching up, Sherraa unlocked the helmet ring and removed it. "Thank you for allowing me to visit your home. I was not expecting to hear from you." Sherraa removed her electrobaton and handed it to Cher. “I think we all might be more comfortable if you hold on to this." Cher gave a brief smile, gesturing back to the table as she took it, "Well, your... gift... convinced me that you might yet earn an adoption." The other woman, who looked just a little older than Cher, went to the kitchen area and filled a pitcher with water, grabbed three glasses and then came back to the table to join them. Sherraa gingerly lowered herself to the chair, wincing very slightly as she did. Cher took a seat near her as the other woman sat on the other side of Cher. Cher raised an eyebrow for a moment, "What happened to you, Red. The bad guys shoot lightening back?"

A puzzled look crossed Sherraa's face. "I have not the slightest...." Then pausing said, "Truth then?" Cher eyed the Sith for a long moment, then nodded. "Truth. You probably stand as much to loose from it as I do. You start." She took the pitcher, filled the three glasses and passed one to Sherraa as the other woman reached for the third full glass.

Taking up her glass, Sherraa took a slow drink, as if giving herself time to order her thoughts. Sighing she said, "I took a graze from a blaster bolt in the hip. Well, maybe more than a graze." Cher gave a small frown, speaking quietly after a moment, "We have people who can help you with that." She waited again, as Sherraa organised her thoughts, "And the rest of it?" Sherraa shook her head slowly "Xhaza dressed it last night. I will be fine until I return home. As for the rest, where should I start?" Cher shrugged and waited, assuming the question was rhetorical. Sherraa sighed "After our meeting, I returned to my ship and readied myself and my guards for our little shopping trip. We were here to buy some new slaves for my club." Sherraa waited to see the other women’s reaction to her statement.

Both women tensed up visibly at the mention of buying slaves. Cher leaned forward, jaw set and tone hard and low, "The research I did on you, making me think that just maybe you aren't really in the slave trade is the only thing keeping you from being shot right now, Sherraa. I suggest you share more... quickly."

A slow smile crossed Sherraa’s face. "So, stalking me now, Major? How far dare I trust you?" Sherraa seemed to consider a moment. "Very well, after I buy them I allow them to work off the price, plus 25% so I can continue my operation, then I allow them to go their own way. I also give them a credits to help them set up where they want. Some I allow to work for me, like Xhaza, Kosh, Li, my guards."

Cher raised an eyebrow, tone still tense, "Allow? How much choice are you giving all of them? And are you caring for them enough to make sure they don't leave your club just to end up working for a Hutt's scum in the red light district?"

Sherraa frowned. "I provide them with enough to get off planet and have enough to make a new start. What they chose after that is up to them. I cannot care for everyone. And I am doing something!"

Cher narrowed her eyes at Sherraa for a moment, then sat back, breaking into a warm smile. "You are doing something, Sherraa. You did well." The other woman sat back, relaxing too, when Cher did. Sherraa leaned back in her chair, speechless at the praise. Cher chuckled, "Nexu caught your tongue, Red?" Before Sherraa could reply, she continued, "My turn. Sherraa, meet my sister, Sol'ange." The other woman nodded with a gentle smile, "I saw you at the Greasy Hutt actually. If you didn't sense me, it means my work on masking my Force signature is paying off." Sherraa nodded at Sol'ange. "You mask yourself well. I did not sense you at the cantina. I did when I walk passed you to enter the house though." She paused to recall the meeting. "You were the other one in Hunter armor?" Ange nodded, "Yes." Cher picked up again, "Now... the bigger truth." She took a deep breath, glanced around and leaned in, force of habit, of too many years protecting what she considered most precious. She whispered, "The Wraiths fleet was not destroyed."

Sherraa smiled and said two words. "I know."

Cher sat back and laughed with a wide smile Sherraa had probably never seen on her before, "Good. Figured the ruse wouldn't fool you and Lagrigo for long. Thankfully, the Republic isn't so smart, or just doesn't let on to being so smart, or just can't be bothered looking." She quirks her head, "Are you in contact with them?" A sad look crossed Sherraa’s face. "I relay them any information I gather from my club. But I have very little actual contact with them. I have not ever seen my lover in months." Cher's brows raised in unison at the comment, "Lagrigo?" Sherraa grinned slyly. "No. We work too closely for that. Feelings might get in the way of what must be done. It is hard enough risking the life of a friend on a mission. A lover’s would be much worse." Cher chuckled and nodded, not prying any further. "I've only sent information once, last time I was home, and will be sending some again before I return to duty, but I don't expect any replies. Until I've found enough people or the right people in the right places, who will stand for what the Republic is supposed to be, I'm a grunt of the Republic who follows orders, mostly no questions asked. I'm glad to learn of what you're doing Sherraa, but I won't be able to maintain much if any contact with you. It's too risky."

Sherraa nodded, "If the time comes, I can help you vanish without a trace." She grinned slyly "After all, things like that happen on Nar Shaddaa all the time. Don't they? Now time to answer a question for me." Cher shook her head, "When the time comes, I won't need your help, but thanks. If I do things right, when the time comes, I won't need to vanish at all." She nodded, "Ask."

"The younglings, they are safe?"

Cher smiled and nodded, "Yeah, we took them to Stell. If you're planning to make a habit of this, I should introduce you to her. You remember Caben's sister, Maerin, the Jedi? Stell has helped her build a small section of what I suspect is a very large underground railroad for Jedi refugees, Jedi families and the families of Force-sensitive younglings. Stell is housing them for now, but is hoping her and Maerin's network will be able to track down their families and either return the younlings, or bring the families out to a safe place with them." Sherraa sagged back in her chair. "That is good. I know the Sith that ordered them. That is why I had is free them. That Sith, she likes to...-tinker- with her ..-projects-." Cher and Ange both frowned. Cher spoke, "Is this Sith likely to become an issue?" Sherraa looked at both women, as if trying to decide how much to tell them, then in a voice that could freeze oxygen said, "No, my Mother hates field work. She works through others, like those slavers." Ange's eyes went wide. Cher just stared at her, that old, statuesque, unreadable expression back on her face. After a moment, Cher nodded, "If you ever decide you want to be an orphan, and have any reliable intel, I know a Republic Forces unit that would love to tear a Sith apart, especially one like that." Sheraa shook her head, "I misspoke. I said Mother. I should have said She who bore me. I wish her to live.” A fire seemed to light in Sherraa's eyes. "I will see her lose all, her position, her power. And then I will laugh in her face and ask her if she remembers the daughter that she betrayed and sold to slavery when she became too powerfull!!"

Cher nodded, "Well, if you ever need a brutal, ruthless Republic Unit to help you with that, I know who you'd want to get the intel to, just without any connections back to you or me." Sherra breathed deeply to regain her composure, "I thank you for that, and I shall remember. And I agree it would be wise if we should not meet again. At least, not anytime soon." Cher nodded, "Though if you have any further... gifts... even if Ange and I aren't here, anyone here will see they get to Stell for safe keeping." She pauses a moment, "Do you want more contact with The Wraiths?"

"I have my channels set up to contact them. It is a matter of safety for them. And speaking of safety, I noticed the your town guards were not very well armed." The ways Sherraa said this made it sound almost more like a question than a statement. Cher chuckled, "They make sure to look less well armed than they really are." Sherraa nodded, "Well, the Empire placed caches of weapons and supplies on various planets to help any "Local Insurgents". I seem to recall there was one in the Dune Sea at this location." Taking a datapad from her belt, Sherraa typed in a series of coordinates. “You might find this....useful." She handed over the datapad. Cher pulled out her own datapad and transfered the coordinates before returning the other datapad to Sherraa, "Thanks. I'll pass the intel on. I'll be heading back to duty in a week and a bit, and Ange..." she glanced at her sister, "...is going to be heading out too. But thank you for coming, even if I didn't have a flameout, only water." She looked at the glass apologetically, "Sorry."

Sherraa smiled, "It was more than welcome. If you ever get to Nar Shaddaa, come by "The Den of Forbidden Pleasures". I have a 15% discount for all military personnel." Cher chuckled, shaking her head, "Sorry Red, I never pick the bar."

"I should be taking my leave now." Slowly standing, Sherraa made her way to the door. "It was a pleasure to meet you Sol'ange." She turned and looked at Cher, "Be well, and be careful." Cher and Ange stood when Sherraa did. Ange smiled at her with a respectful bow, "Ange. And you too Sherraa." Cher gave a serious nod as she passed her the electrobaton, "You too Sherraa." With a wicked smile Sherraa said, "I am always careful. After all, I am Sith. It is a way of life with us." Still smiling, Sherraa put her helmet back on before climbing the stairs back up, mounting her speeder and heading out across the sands.

« Last Edit: 08/02/16, 09:39:06 PM by Seraphie »

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #8 on: 12/03/16, 09:49:20 PM »
((Timestamp 3 years, 7 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion))

Cher glanced around the Shining Star cantina again, as she took another sip of her Alderaanian ale. Somehow, even if she knew it was the same stuff, it seemed to taste better on Alderaan. Maj.. no, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis had decided a few weeks ago that their weekly shore leave would be on Alderaan for the next few months. While she had been a little surprised by the move, the change of scenery was a welcome calm from their usual shore leave on Coruscant or Nar Shaddaa, where population density was measured by the cubic kilometer. The quiet and wide open spaces of Alderaan were calming, and she'd walked through the snow with the same wonder as her first time.

She took another swig of her ale, trying to keep her mind on the Dewback company members filing the bar around her, and on the quiet countryside outside, pushing back the worries that had begun to plague her over the last few weeks. She knew she had a tendency to edge towards paranoia, but past experience had told her she should trust that gut feeling, because it usually proved to be right.

Three weeks ago they'd been on Corellia, mopping up another Vrake squad hit on a factory that had proved to be an Imperial training centre. Lewis had filled Aura and Besh squads in on some of the intel, so that their specialists could better direct their searches on the computers before they dusted the place. There were still elements on Corellia sympathetic to the Empire, no one would expect those elements to change their colours overnight or disappear, just because the Republic had liberated the planet. However, their intel suggested that this centre was both a recruitment centre, and a training centre, for Imperial sympathisers looking for ways to destabilise the Corellian government and economic sector, to leave them vulnerable to another attempt by the Empire to move in. Their teams had lifted a large amount of intel from the computers. Vrake had been their usual ruthless selves, which she tried not to think about as their teams moved in wearing chemical masks, but it had been clearly needed in this case. They'd managed to take out all personnel with very minimal damage to the computer systems. As the specialists in her squad worked, they kept her apprised of what they were finding - names, lists of them, contacts throughout Corellia, some very influential names in politics, economics and education, and, intel connecting to some other Republic allied or leaning planets. It had been a fantastically successful mission for the Republic.

But it hadn't been the mission that had bothered her. After the mission, when she'd been working late on her report, half lost in datastreams she was also monitoring through her cybernetics, she'd turned around and happened to witness Lewis make multiple copies of their recovered intel onto datacards that he then pocketed. She'd looked around and found she was the only person around. She'd carefully turned her attention back to her work. Only a minute or so later, Lewis had suddenly been behind her. "Working late, Cher?" There'd been something different in his voice. She'd nodded, "Finishing up reports, some crew reviews and catching up on my nightly news, sir." He'd chuckled, "We're both off duty, Cher, you can drop the sir after oh two-hundred." She'd given him an awkward smile, "Rather not... sir.... " She'd looked back at her work, "Finishing up some work while off duty as well, sir?" A pause, and that odd tone again, "No, just some personal stuff. Have a good night Cher." She'd only nodded, her mouth going dry.

Since then, she'd been watching him more carefully, trying to figure out what his personal business was and where those datacards had gone.

They'd been on standby since that mission and it had been since then that their shore leave had suddenly moved to Alderaan. Cher had been vigilant on duty, and on their shore leave, trying to monitor Lewis' movements. The guilt over behaving in such a way towards a commanding officer she respected so much ate her up as much as the worry. But she had to be sure. On duty, she’s stayed up late finishing reports as much as she could, but she’d seen no other suspicious behaviour. Their last two stops on Alderaan, she hadn't been able to do anything to follow his movements. She wasn't a spy and had no way to move particularly invisibly on this planet. But after the last stop, she'd stayed up very, very late one night, and done a bit of slicing. She was careful to cover all her tracks, careful enough she hoped, and had discovered a few short, encrypted, cryptically named file in his personal files. It had taken her five days to decrypt the copy she'd taken of the file with the most recent timestamp, dating to their last shoreleave. A contact in House Organa, a meeting that had gone well... intel shared.... She still wasn't sure what to make of it. House Organa were allies of the Republic. There was nothing in that to suggest any treasonous action. The file had finished with a bunch of financial data she hadn't been able to make heads or tails of, other than to figure out it was financial data.

"Sarge, let us buy you a drink, something better than ale!" She got pulled out of her ruminations by Besh squad, her squad, all of them somewhere between tipsy and plastered, huddled around her table. Front of the line, only tipsy, was Roller, giving her that look again. She wasn't as clueless as she thought he thought she was. She'd understood his looks, the occasional tease she'd quickly called back into line. He was cute, no denying it, and a fantastic soldier. But she was his superior officer. And even if she hadn't been, she wasn't interested. She didn't want a complication like that in her life any time soon. And he was soooo young. She narrowed her eyes at the group of them, "Are you criticising my taste in drinks, private?" He shook his head quickly, fumbling over his apology, as the others ooohed and laughed. She shook her head with a soft, very brief smile, giving him just a second of reprieve, "Go have fun, make friends, you banthas. I'm good with what I'm drinking and if I'm not, I'll order something different." They turned away laughing, other than Roller, who was visibly quieter. As they moved away, she called after them, "And my tab comes out of the salary of anyone late for rollcall at oh seven hundred." The glanced back with a collective groan, but were soon laughing again, back at their table. Not too much reprieve, she thought.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #9 on: 02/23/17, 09:57:37 PM »
((Timestamp 3 years 11 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion.))

Cher looked out the shuttle window at the receding globe that was Tatooine. She squinted as the shuttle turned and one of Tatooine's suns suddenly filled her window, too bright even with the shielding tint. The shuttle completed its turn and she looked out at the stars, the shuttle rocking gently as the stars turned into trails. She closed her eyes. This was a harder departure. By the time she'd be back for her next shore leave, Ange would be gone, off with The Wraiths.

She'd spent as much time as possible with her sister on this leave. She'd talked to her about The Wraiths, done some combat training with her, even done some Force training with her. And she'd written up a brief report for Admiral Wysan, updating him on what she was seeing going on in the Republic, on low morale and increasingly low morality.

What she hadn't included were any of her continued and deepening concerns about her own unit. After Corellia, things had seemed to go back to normal for some time. Small dusting missions on outer rim planets where the Empire and the Republic were still vying for control of meaningless, pitiful resources while the Core remained under Zakuul's heel. Then came Balmorra.

They'd been called in to dust what had been, to outside appearance, a droid manufacturing factory, part of the Troida complex, but with suspected Imperial ties. When they came in to what Mewvorr company had left behind, past the initial final assembly room, they found everything but a droid factory. The largest room looked like a war room, terminals and monitors on every wall. In the smaller rooms they found barracks, training rooms and, of most concern, what was clearly the remains of a detention and interrogation room. Mewvorr had been careful not to damage any terminals, but they had left the rest of that room a pile of crumbling duracrete and durasteel. Lt. Col. Lewis had set Cher to help with the slicing and assigned her to that room. Ironically, he had been encouraging her to continue improving her slicing skills of late. Cher glanced over the data as she broke through encryption levels and started deciphering and downloading it. What she read sickened her. She saw names of people, the companies they were tied to, who they were connected to. They'd been collecting managers and board officers of companies that had shown any kind of leanings or sympathy towards the Republic or the former Balmorran resistance. The interrogations covered every detail of the businesses, their connections, their political views, family members, what school or daycare their children were at, the most relevant financial details and the most irrelevant, mundane details, but what exactly the Imperials had been after was unclear, lost in the sheer volume of collected information. She stopped paying much attention as the files continued to unlock and download and as the minutes turned to hours of decrypting and downloading. She gave the occasional cursory glance, until a line spotted when she glanced at her progress caught her attention. She started reading again. These were no longer people with ties to Republic or resistance leaning companies. These were people with Imperial connections. The same volume of details had been collected from them as well. She supposed the Empire didn't exactly have a reputation for caring for its citizens, but she was still surprised by such a treatment.

A sudden thought crossed her mind. She looked around. At the moment, she was alone in this room. She was deep enough in that guards were all in outer rooms and few felt like spending more time than necessary in this particular room. She tapped at cybernetics for a moment and started recording what was playing on the screen as the files were decrypted and downloaded and the information filed by on the screen. She counted to 50..100 in her head and decided that was enough, tapped her cybernetics again, after a brief glance around to check that she was still alone, and stopped recording. She could read in more detail later, see if she could get any idea of what the Imperials had been looking for. Of course, if she found something, it would be hard to bring it forward and explain how she had been able to analyse the data.

Lt. Col. Lewis came in an hour later. "Almost done with your terminal, Ensign? All other terminals have been cleared." Cher nodded, the usual salute usually forgone when plugged into a datapad plugged into a terminal. "This was a massive operation, sir, and it's been going on for months." He nodded, "The kriffing Imps got to a lot of people here. Wonder how many ties and contracts the Republic lost to their intimidation." Cher nodded, hesitating a moment, "Not just Republic, sir. They were interrogating their own too." Lewis gave a disgusted snort, "Typical of the Empire." He seemed to glance with renewed interest though at what she was collecting. He leaned in, reading over some lines and whistled, "Wow, every kriffing detail of their life." Cher nodded, "Intelligence is going to need a whole unit of analysts just for this file." Lewis gave a mirthless laugh, "More likely it will find itself parked on a shelf, in line. They're high on data and low on manpower, as always." Cher glanced at him, hesitated a moment again, then decided to give it a shot, "Sir, could I give a shot at this file? I can get some programmes analysing it, slowly, in the background, see if I can spot any patterns, connections or just plain useful information?" He looked at her a long moment and she figured for sure he was going to tell her to leave it for the specialists, and then he nodded, "Sure, as long as you promise me to bring me, directly, anything you find." She nodded quickly, "Of course, sir!" He turned to leave, then stopped for a moment at the door, "While you're at it, Ensign, make me a copy of the file too." She froze, just the briefest of seconds, then quickly nodded, "Of course sir."

After all terminals had all been cleaned, they'd spent two more days checking over the place with a fine tooth comb, even scanning walls for hidden safes or storage compartments, of which they'd actually found a few. After that, they'd left the building nothing more than a pile of rubble and dust and had prepared to lift their camp from the ground. Until the order came from Colonel Lewis - one week stand down time. Not actual shore leave, but an indication they weren't going on any missions for the week. Crew were given the choice of staying on ship or at camp. There was nothing particular about the order, down time happened often enough for resupplying, meetings, training but what Cher noticed was that Lewis disappeared the next day. For five days. When he returned, with no explanation for his absence, they lifted camp and left.

Since then, things had again returned to the routine dusting of small, overall meaningless facilities in the wake of one of their first line companies. Cher continued to run the file through programme after programme, analysis algorithm after analysis algorithm, but had yet to find any patterns, any threads between the people taken, between the companies, between anything. Still, she kept chipping at it, convinced that there was something there, something obvious she was missing. She got the same feeling about Lt. Col. Lewis. There was something going on. She just couldn't for the life of her figure out what.
« Last Edit: 02/23/17, 10:17:36 PM by Seraphie »

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #10 on: 03/05/17, 03:35:09 PM »
((Timestamp 4 years, 7 months after the beginning of the Zakuul invasion.))

"Move, move, move! Departure in 51 minutes. Sargent, get your soldiers moving before I rename you Fenner’s Rock squad! Ensign, are you done with that terminal yet? I want to see it packed up on shuttle Cresh in five minutes!" Salutes were the only reply she got as the members of her platoon tried to move faster. As far as she was concerned, they couldn't get off this kriffing monstrosity of a planet fast enough. She understood the historical significance of the planet, understood the crushing blow to the Republic that it represented, but, whoever had decided they should start a resettlement operation even before there was a vaccine against the rakghoul plague, let alone before they'd cleared the planet of rakghouls, should be tossed into one of the myriad rakghoul caves they'd had to deal with and a large rock rolled in front of its opening. Thank goodness there was a vaccine now. Ten days they'd been here and they'd only lost one man. She supposed no vaccine was ever 100% effective. Still, to watch someone from your company start to turn into a monster, have to be killed by his own company, before he started killing them, was an experience she hoped to never have to repeat in her lifetime. She decided that if she was ever empress of the Republic, Taris was where she would assign Col. Iskkar.

Still, it was odd. They'd never left a mission incomplete before. They'd been sent in to dust a series of 12 Imperial research stations that Reek Company had cleared and that were suspected of serving intelligence purposes. In reality, they'd found very little of any use in the first 10 stations. However, when the call had come in eight hours ago that they were being called back to Coruscant, Col. Lewis had sent heavily armed teams of four squads to each of the two remaining stations to set explosives and dust them without any intel collection. In and out in an hour. Even in her current rank of Captain, she had been given no explanation for the sudden recall to Coruscant. She had set background programmes running on her cybernetics seven and a half hours ago to watch all her information sources, news networks, underground holonet sites, for anything relating to what was going on on Coruscant or in the Republic that might be related, but she'd had no time yet to look over anything it had dumped to her datapad yet, if it had even dumped anything. She'd have time to read on the ship, during the trip.

She had some other reading to catch up on during the trip too. While the marshy and dangerous conditions of the mission had been hard on the troops, there had at least been some extra down time in exchange. They only worked during daylight because of the rakghouls, so they'd been free to spend long evenings at the cantina in Olaris each night. Cher had gone every night, after the second night, to keep an eye on the troops, making sure none of them got too drunk and wandered off alone like Worton had. However, she had found herself watching Col. Lewis too. She'd never seen him so sociable. Each night, he would select a different table of locals at some point in the evening, pay their rounds, buy them some food, and she could hear his deep laugh all the way across the cantina. Later in the evening, he tended to disappear with some of them, one or two at a time, into a back room of the cantina. With some he'd stay only a few minutes, with others up to a couple hours. She'd never seen him behave like this. Puzzled, she'd had a look into his files again on the sixth night. He'd been adding files nightly. She had copied one of them and what she read seemed like a memoir. He seemed to be collecting stories from the locals, but to what end, she had no idea.

Emboldened by her months of success now in slicing and copying the files without being caught, she went back in the following night and copied two more files. More stories. They were interesting stories, certainly, all from the earlier days of the resettlement effort, when it briefly looked like it might actually succeed. Farmers trying to recover seeds and tools stolen by pirate gangs against whom the government and military refused to protect them. Sometimes violent disagreements between humans and aliens over land rights, perpetuating the centuries old division that had existed in the Tarisian society and that resettlement failed to address. Hearsay of an entire Republic military squad that went AWOL over their desperation facing the rakghoul plague and corruption within the higher ranks. Mercenaries hired to fight the pirates that had established themselves on the planet finding they had taken a contract they couldn’t refuse as they were quarantined for months when they tried to walk away on the contract after taking heavy losses due to the rakghouls. Quarantined by… Governor Saresh. In fact all of the stories were from the time when Saresh was governing Taris. But of what use they might be, that still puzzled her.

She'd gone back in once more, last night, and copied all of the files from this mission. She planned to read them on the way to Coruscant, in the hope that reading all of them might let her figure out what they were for. There was no way Col. Lewis was collecting stories from the past of the current Supreme Chancelor of the Republic without a reason. One more mystery to be solved relating to her CO.

“Ensign, if that next terminal isn’t packed up and on the shuttle in half the time it took you to pack up the last one, you will spend an entire day of our trip to Coruscant unpacking and packing up terminals on the ship for me, until you can do it fast!”

But first to get off this planet. Then there’d be some time for puzzles.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #11 on: 03/18/17, 05:48:33 PM »
((Timestamp 4 years 9 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion.))

Cher stepped out of sick bay with a deep frown. The stoic, unreadable face she had been known for seemed to be permanently replaced with a frown now. Others passing her by wisely kept out of her path as she walked heavily through the corridor of The Restoration, the Valor-class cruiser that had brought them to Balmorra and was now taking them back to Coruscant.

She'd left The Wraiths to keep tabs on what was going on in the Republic, to try to find help, like minds, who believed that Supreme Chancelor Saresh was turning the Republic into an Empire and that the Republic's efforts should be against Zakuul, not against the Empire, until the larger threat was eliminated. She'd seen reckless assignments of units, officers committing war crimes, good soldiers driven out or, though she had only anecdotal evidence and no proof, put in the line of fire purposefully, attacks on civilian populations, decreasing transparency, no accountability, decreasing morale, resources wasted... but now she knew there was even worse to come.

After Taris, they'd spent one week, exactly, on Coruscant. Colonel Lewis had disappeared into six days of closed door meetings, while the crew was assigned to a new ship and given quarters. Cher had sensed that the move was a sign of trouble to come. They were no longer on a troop transport ship. They were on a battle ship, both Dewback company and Ginx company. Quarters assigned made it clear that this was not just a ship to take them from place to place when they had specific missions, this was their new home. The crew of the Restoration had been remarkably mute with its new occupants as they'd been settled on board, creating an initial coldness between the groups that was proving hard to thaw, even though it had become clear, after their departure, that the crew had been under strict orders to say nothing to the new companies travelling with them until their COs had briefed them. The result was that the crew kept to its work and the two companies kept to themselves.

For the six days, while seeing to getting the troops settled, Cher had monitored every information source she had to try to find out more about what was going on on Coruscant. The only news reports were about the discharge of Admiral Aygo. Reports varied in their story, from incompetence on his part in troop deployment, to rumors of him choosing to leave and being brandished by some as a traitor who should have been tried as such, to reports of scandalously inappropriate behaviour with subalterns or civilian staff. Cher found herself having trouble believing -any- of the reports. Watching civilian chatter, local Coruscant law enforcement channels and some underground channels she monitored, she had understood that their company wasn't the only one being moved around. But there was not an inkling of what was behind it all.

Cher stepped into a lift, not even registering the troops saluting her as they stepped off.

Lewis returned on the seventh day, briefing the whole company at once, with no pre-briefing for officers, announcing that there had been a restructuring of the Republic Armed Forces. There were no longer any first line and second line companies, no longer any support companies. Every company was expected to do its share fighting on the front line, dusting what they left behind. With the weak advance of the Republic against the Empire, it was no longer felt that Republic soldiers' talents should be wasted providing humanitarian support to planets and settlements in crisis. That role was now being left to civilian organisations, law enforcement groups and mercenaries for hire. With nothing more than that, Lewis had dismissed the troops and retreated to his quarters for the next 48 hours. The following morning they had left Coruscant orbit, even though they were still on standby, with no current mission. Two days later, Lewis had held another assembly and announced a bunch of promotions, including Cher who was now at the rank of Lieutenant. He'd then posted a new company structure and again dismissed the troops. This time, however, he kept all officers and spent another hour briefing them on the changes in organisation to account for the fact that they would now be fighting on the front line.

Since then, Lewis had been having each meal privately, in his quarters, with a different officer, going over the structure changes and assessments. Cher had been one of the first, having a lunch with him on the second day after he announced the new structure, going over the new groups of soldiers she was now in charge of, how they were organised, who would be suited to what kinds of roles and appropriate training activities and schedules. They'd gone into 6 three-hour training sessions a day, rotating through five training bays, so that every soldier had one three-hour block each day. They'd had a couple small deployments that had gone well, taking out small outer rim Imperial intelligence stations.

Then they'd come to Balmorra.

Cher stepped off the lift and continued down the corridor, her scowl still causing those crossing her in the corridor to give her a wide berth.

Balmorra had seemed like the missions they'd run a hundred times before. A small factory, isolated on a peninsula east of the Sundari plains, that was believed to be an Imperial weapons manufacturing and asset collection and training centre. The operation had been set up in conjunction with Ginx company, with Dewback moving in by land and Ginx moving in by water. Appearances can be deceiving. The factory was indeed a weapons manufacturing facility and was clearly a recruitment and training centre, but within, they found Imperial soldiers, Balmorra resistance fighters and... Republic soldiers. In their confusion, when they hit the front line, seeing soldiers bearing Republic insignia in the line they were facing, they hesitated with their first round of fire. Their enemy, even though it looked like them, had no such hesitation and they'd lost more than half of the eight squads that had led that first assault, two of them Cher's. There had been more surprises within. Many sublevels below ground of which they'd had no intel. More fighters of all sorts of mixed origins. Very effective traps on all the computer terminals. And then, deep within, a Jedi and two Sith, who fought as a team. 

In the end, they had taken the factory. They had captured dozens of fighters, including the Jedi, killed at least a couple hundred fighters and both Sith. But Cher did not consider the mission a success. Their company had lost 139 men, 23 of them who served directly under her. Another 241 were in various sick bays and some of them in critical enough condition that they might yet lose them too. Ginx's losses had been at least as bad. This had been a small mission. One factory. One target. They'd been unprepared and insufficiently informed. She knew they would have bigger targets to come. Now she knew the game had changed. The face of their enemy had changed and they would not get the intel or the support they needed from the Republic.

She stepped into a training bay and looked grimly at the troops filing in and standing at attention in rank and file, awaiting her orders. She caught some of the glances as they walked in, their looks at each other as they saw she was the one leading their training session. She had a reputation for running tough training sessions. That was about to change. Her training sessions were about to go from heavy to brutal. They weren't training to win a war anymore. They were training to survive.

Offline Seraphie

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Re: Rogue
« Reply #12 on: 04/08/17, 01:40:39 PM »
((Timestamp: 4 years 11 months after the start of the Zakuul invasion))

Cher's boot steps were lost in the noise of so many crew members moving through the corridors as they prepared for their mission, ETA, 29 hours. Cher replayed the details of the upcoming mission in her head for the... she'd lost count how many times. Khar Delba. Where Darth Marr had assembled his fleet after Makeb and one of the first spots decimated by the Eternal Fleet. There was now a graveyard of ships there that could apparently out number Hoth three to one. They were to recover everything they could. She had her squad lists and deployment plans on her datapad. Since the disaster on Balmorra she'd had to form new squads from the remains of the previous ones. There were fewer squads now, but she'd tried to keep together those who already knew each other and had fought together.

She rapped softly on the door to Colonel Lewis' quarters. He'd continued to have each meal with an officer and she was in civies, as per the standing orders for these meetings. The door slid open and she stepped in as Lewis gestured to the table. The meal laid out had a definite Tatooine taste to it, with dewback steak and dustcrepes. She set her datapad on the table as she sat down. Lewis took two wine glasses from the chiller and set them down on the table, one before her, the other at the place setting across from her where he sat down.

"How are your unit members in sick bay doing?" She knew he already knew, knew he kept tabs three times a day himself, but replied anyway, running through the list of injured and updating him on their condition. He started eating while he listened. As she finished, he gestured towards her plate. He waited until she'd taken a few bites before his usual second question followed, "How goes the training of your squads?" She gave him updates squad by squad, pausing to take another bite of food each time he gestured again to her plate. He gave regular nods, signalling his approval of their progress, then went into his third question, "Tell me what you've designed for this mission." She went through her deployment plans. She had become much more skilled in strategy and tactics, but Lewis was still the master. As they ate their food and sipped their wine, they went through every detail, tweaking positions based upon the intel they had, setting up contingencies in case the intel was again incomplete.

"Do you know Hartman Lienman?"

The question took her off guard, her thoughts still full of their discussion of tactics and deployments, and she frowned for just a brief moment, trying to place the name that seemed familiar. Then she realised, it shouldn't seem familiar. It was a name from the first file she'd sliced, from Alderaan. She shook her head, "No, sorry, the name doesn't ring a bell." Lewis nodded, "A soldier from Alderaan who's written some interesting tactics and strategies, developed from his experiences fighting on Alderaan." She nodded slowly, holding in her frown. Hartman Lienman was no soldier, he was the floor manager of a factory on Alderaan. "Something you'd like me to read up on, sir?" He shook his head, "No, I may try and pull some of his key ideas to bring to the next officer briefing."

He sat back in his chair, swirling the bit of wine left in his glass, "How do you like the wine?" She took another sip, "It's good sir." Lewis nodded, "I think it's my new favourite wine. Bet you can't guess where it's from." He chuckled softly. Cher tilted her head, puzzled. Lewis often turned to trivial topics once they were done going over tactics and troops, but the transition wasn't usually quite so abrupt. "Alderaan" He shook his head with another chuckle, "Taris. Gift from Cor Dansen." Another name she shouldn't know. She tilted her head further, "A winemaker on Taris?" Lewis nodded, "He found the perfect little valley, right micro-climate for the seeds he brought with him when he went to resettle. But then pirates... things... tools........ smuggler passing..." This time Cher frowned as her head lulled a little. She was missing words. Was Lewis slurring? Had he had that much to drink before she came? He'd seemed sober with their discussions of... what had they been discussing again... Her eyes seemed to have a will of their own, each blink spreading out over many seconds. What was wrong with her? She couldn't doze off during dinner with... where was she again... with whom?

Lewis approached Cher who sat still, eyes closed, breathing soft and regular, at the table. He shook her shoulder very softly, but she didn't move, or open her eyes. He went to his desk, pulled out a datapad with a slicing spike and came to kneel next to her, pushing her hair gently back until he found the very small access point to her cybernetics. He slid in the slicing spike and started tapping at his datapad, speaking softly, mostly to himself, "Forgive me Cher."

"Doesn't the wine taste that much better knowing all he endured and vanquished to produce it? ...Cher?" She startled. She must have tuned out the story at some point. Maybe because she already knew it, had read it in the files she'd sliced. Did Lewis know? She smiled and nodded, "There must be a great number of remarkable people like him on Taris, willing to leave everything behind and fight so hard to make something so ugly beautiful again." Lewis smiled, "Exactly so. Would that our leaders would all have such courage and dedication to bringing beauty and kindness back to this galaxy." She wasn't sure why, but the statement rattled her and she found herself thinking about Saresh. Lewis looked off, lost in thought for a moment, then looked back at her with a smile, "But enough waxing philosophical for me for tonight. 27 hours and we will do our part, again, to make the galaxy a better place. Did you have any other questions for the mission?" She shook her head and stood, picking up her datapad, "No, sir. Thank you for the discussion and the dinner." He stood as well, led the way to the door. "My pleasure, Cher. I look forward to our next meal together." She looked back at him and nodded, and for just a moment, it seemed to her that a deep sorrow passed over his face, something she'd never seen on him. It startled her, causing her to pause, just a moment, before she replied, "As do I sir."