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Guns Are Safer

Posted on Wed Jul 14th, 2021 @ 12:45am by Reave & Kalen "Rex" Vickers & Thane & Bomoor Thort & Amare & Mentis & G2-O7

Chapter: Chapter VI: The Last Bastion
Location: Red Raptor, Palatial Dock, Bastion
Timeline: Morning (Day Three, Week Four)

OLD

“That is something, at least,” Mentis was visibly relieved, “What about your Mandalorian friend? He was not brought here with us?”

“His release…” Bomoor frowned, “May take longer to secure. Even Tarses could not find a way to allow a Mandalorian free reign on Bastion soil. While we are here, he is likely to remain their prisoner.”

"When this is dealt with," Amare said, none too concerned about Sev, "I intend to petition this Moff Tarses for a reward in beskar. I yearn to craft a new lightsaber. In the meantime, I can try to spy on these GW reps, get in close, position myself to handle them...'quietly', if so ordered."

She was developing a fondness for corporate espionage and assassination. She hoped Serus would give her the word to carve up a few GW suits in the hope that the look of terror on their faces would match the one on Yaxley's right before her untimely end. Fear, as she was discovering, had the palpable effect of slaking the grim thirst of the dark side of the Force quite nicely. The greater the terror around her, the more confident and powerful Amare felt.

"When this is dealt with, apprentice," Thane said, now turning from the cell to lead the group away, their time in this facility at its end, "a slither of beskar will be the least of our rewards."

NEW

Rex was the first in the galley of the Red Raptor in the morning after their 'release' from the Bastion cells by Thane and Bomoor, fully kitted out and looking every bit the sly hustler he cared to appear.

However, in spite of the clinical conditions of the Imperial medical facility and of their incarceration, the swarthy smuggler had not fully recovered from his forced comatose state, nor the flurry of events that had whisked them from glorified stowaways to agents of espionage and, now, as shadowy enforcers of governmental will.

It had taken a prolonged shower, three meals, and a change into fresh clothing to provide the Human with some sense of normality and focus, albeit his state had not been helped by the very broken, nightmare-laden sleep that had disturbed his uncomfortable night in his cabin. Rex had always preferred sleeping on a ship that was caught in the 'winds' of interstellar travel, anyway, but being ground-side on the capital world of the remnant of the Old Galactic Empire had done nothing for his peace of mind and rest. This world of subterfuge and nation-building was beyond him, and as was commonplace, he longed for the simplicity of a gangster's world.

He spun the credit chit on the dejarik again, eyes staring towards it, although they were unfocused, lost in dark thought.

Out of nowhere, another chit flew in and collided with Rex's.

"Credit for your thoughts?" came Amare's voice as she entered the Rec Room from the port engine doorway. Before, her footfalls were near-perfect silence, now the distinct sound of bootheels were striking the deck like a proud captain inspecting her ship.

As she came into Rex's view, Amare could be seen digging a half-fingered brown gloved hand into the breast pocket of a long dark brown military field coat worn over beige officer's high-collar uniform top, a black light utility belt with an accessory strap for her shoto, dark gray uniform trousers, and long black expedition boots. Amare, similar to Thane and Bomoor the previous night, also bore a rank bar of her own on the upper-left of her chest, two green pips to indicate her sub-commissar status.

She withdrew a small almost flat stainless steel case, pressed a button on its side, and a narrow white cigarra with a gold filter popped out. Placing the filter end betwixt her lips, she brought an index finger up close to the other end, and a tiny gentle spark of Sith electric lit the smoke.

Rex's head popped up properly at the sound of the cigarra being lit, and his nostrils flared as he took in the delicate smokey fragrance that emanated from it. His eyes closed with more than a hint of satisfaction at the scent.

"Useless'll have your head-tails chopped up for sushi, he finds out you're filling your blue lungs with that kark," Rex said to Amare, his hands now flat down on the small table as he watched her smoke with somewhat envious eyes. He plainly examined her outfit and the rank bar, too, but he did not make any comment to that - nor did he answer her question.

"When you've taken as many lashes from a Zygerrian-made shock whip as I have," Amare calmly retorted after a long drag of her smoke, "you'll come to appreciate pain relief wherever you can find it." She coughed a bit, still not fully adapted to the cigarra habit. "I don't really like them; still don't, but I find that something that helps me dwell on bad memories does good for my powers."

The next arrival was Reave, although it was his broad hat that Amare and Rex spied first, with the sudden appearance of its tip around a nearby corner causing the smuggler to scowl at his diminutive Jawa companion. Little golden eyes, thinly-narrowed, were locked onto the tobacco product between Amare's fingers. Carefully, he brought himself fully into view and stalked slowly down the corridor into the galley, eyes never deviating from the cigarra and its ornate filter.

"I got you that Falleen flake back on Alba!" Rex chided Reave, speaking with a confidence that belied his usual failed attempts at managing the Jawa's legendary temper.

As was often the case, however, Reave made no show of even having actually heard his friend's comments, and the gun-loving self-appointed armourer of the Red Raptor was now stood by Amare's legs, glaring upwards at the young woman with no outward indication that he appreciated the height difference between them, or that the Sith Lady had the power to telekinetically mangle his small frame. Instead, he continued staring with all of the humour and care of a hungry rancor hatchling.

Amare was greatly amused to see and feel the Jawa's hunger and desire for the cigarra. She didn't particularly crave it, but a devious little idea crossed her thoughts and she decided to pop one more out of the case for herself.

"Take the rest," she handed Reave the small metal case as she pocked the other cigarra. "No strings attached. I prefer my pipe anyway. If you want more, check with the commissary, but they'll charge you a premium. They're not especially fond of Republic credits here."

“Crikey, don’t give the little guy any more of those things,” Mentis was standing in the doorway, rubbing the side of his neck uncomfortably; he seemed to have received about as restful a sleep as Rex had, “You do realise he smokes them in the air ducts and so we all have to second-hand smoke them too,”

The Rattataki stepped forward towards Reave and made a sudden Force-enhanced grab for the case of remaining cigarras but the Jawa’s own twitchy reflexes had him jerk them away just in time and he scuttled away, causing Mentis to smirk slightly.

“Hmph, okay” he conceded, holding his hands up, “Perhaps it will keep you occupied while we crawl around whatever passes for a cantina here later. Oh, and…”

He turned his pale, patterned face towards the smuggler, with a half-frustrated, half-amused look on his face, “I was checking the local public broadcasts a moment ago. You’ll never believe what special day it is on Bastion today.”

Amare's shoto flared up in front of her, interrupting the question, and she gently disintegrated the lit end of her cigarra on the blade to put it out. She swapped glances with Mentis and Rex who were staring at her.

"What? It's Mantis' fault I didn't want to smoke anymore," she said in her awkward defence, using Rex's mispronunciation of the ex-cultist's name without realizing it. She switched the shoto off and pocketed what was left of the cigarra. "It's a lousy brand anyway."

"Right..." Mentis' raised an eyebrow warily at the Nautolan, "Well, I don't particularly care whether you smoke or not but one fewer vice wouldn't hurt you. Just so long as you don't take a long drag of my life essence again, we'll get along just fine."

He turned quickly back towards the Human, "So?" he raised the other brow, "Do you know what day it is, Rex?"

Rex scowled a little at the paler of his two friends, with a few nervous glances flicked towards Amare. Then, as if he had an epiphany, his eyes widened, and he raised a finger to the ceiling. “You sly dog – you kept that quiet! Why didn’t you tell us your birthday was coming up? I’d have got you some new head polish.” He leaned towards Amare conspiratorially, with a faux attempt now being used to hush his voice. “He don’t look a day over thirty, to me.”

“What?” the Rattataki leaned back slightly, Rex’s former frown transferring to his brow, “No, no. I’m not even sure when my birthday is, Rex, and I’d be surprised if they were talking about that on an Imperial broadcast. No, it’s Empire Day! Apparently, it’s an ancient Imperial tradition and a kind-of holiday, if Imperials have holidays. I don’t think we’ll be able to avoid some kind of display out there today.”

"It marks the day when the Clone Wars ended and the Sith Lords achieved their revenge on the Jedi and the Old Republic," Amare explained with a subtle, yet noticeable tone of pride, recalling her brief history lesson from the Telos Holocron given to her and Thane by none other than the Darth Sidious gatekeeper itself. "I admire these people for their sense of tradition and patriotism even after all these centuries hence. It'll be a good time for us to observe how they conduct themselves, and perhaps provide a good cover for us to...take care of business."

Rex looked at Amare awkwardly, although some of his earlier dark mood had seemingly eased with the natural manner by which their conversation had been progressing - until now. "Uhh... Well, yeah, I guess it could be useful," he said, not focusing on her diatribe on Sith-ly vengeance.

Rex had been aware of the holocrons that Thane and Bomoor had collected on their old freighter, but his knowledge had been limited to two factors. The first: that they were very valuable, and very carefully secured within the remarkable vault built into the Raptor, and, secondly; that he would never go near them. Mentis had explained enough about them, from his own limited knowledge, and that had been enough to ward the smuggler away from tinkering with them. He did not even fancy risking trying to peddle such artefacts on any black markets.

Guns are safer, he had sagely declared to Mentis, which was accompanied by a gleeful screech from Reave, at the time.

"It was an achievement shortlived," came the stern voice of Thane as he followed Bomoor into the galley, his pale features set in a serious expression.

They were both still wearing formal attire, their triple-green rank bars still set upon their chests. On this occasion, Thane had eschewed the cape he had previously been wearing, and the remaining black tunic and trousers had a decidedly military appearance to them as they were. As they reached the centre of the room, he placed a few data chips onto the inactive dejarik table.

"A form of restricted access to Bastion records, surveillance and locations," the Caanan said, stepping back to more appropriately address them all, "reflective of the status afforded to us by our benefactor. It is clear already, of course, that some will take exception to our presence. As we've already discussed; the Grand Moff is not without his detractors, and that is what we must seek to expose, if we are to achieve our respective goals." He now glanced to Rex - something Thane rarely did. "Mister Vickers, I appreciate that the nature of our enterprise has often left you ill at ease, and that you care little, or understand little, of our esoteric interests and nature. I appreciate that, as well as your ongoing loyalty in these trying times - especially to Mentis, given the circumstances. Your talents, I'm sure, will be invaluable in this current venture, even if you have no stake in what we are doing. We have not, however, sought to provide you with any formal cover for your presence here."

Thane now looked to Mentis. Although the Sith's expression was serious, and still carried a degree of the wary judgement that he had typically afforded the former cultist, there was also respect. This was, after all, the first true time the young man had been put to work for focuses outside of his own personal interests. It was definitely a departure from their interactions around their encounters at Korriban.

"Bomoor vouches for you and you claim to be an ally. Thus far, you've given me no reason to doubt that, beyond your domineered past," he said to Mentis, looking at him intently. "Whilst you are surrounded by possible foes in an insular nation, this is still a bold assignment for you to undertake for us. Bring meaning to your words for us, and seek the source of this beskar plot. A number of locales where the rumours are being spread have been provided. I am sure your friend from Nar Shaddaa will be most capable of guiding you to the dark places of this world."

A plume of smoke followed Reave as he returned, lighting up another cigarra so soon after the previous one was conquered. He flicked his hat casually and made some confident comment in Jawaese to Thane, already positioning himself near Rex and Mentis.

Thane did not need a translator to interpret the Jawa's meaning. "No, you are certainly too conspicuous for this world." He looked to Bomoor just briefly. "If you do not wish to remain with the ship, you should go with Bomoor to inspect these supersoldiers of theirs."

Reave's eyes narrowed for a moment, but the word 'supersoldier' seemed to resonate, and he took a long, thoughtful drag of the cigarra, took it away from his concealed, shadowy mouth... and then took another long drag. Smoke quickly filled up the galley. Eventually, after a punctuated Jawa silence, he jabbered something quickly at Bomoor, and then walked out again.

Although he did not translate, Rex stifled a laugh behind a closed fist.

Amare, unsure what Reave said, giggled softly as the Jawa left the room. Any sort of ribbing leveled at Bomoor was welcome in her presence. Although she still respected him for his power and experience, her fondness for Bomoor was dwindling by the day while it was secretly rising with Mentis.

"Their technology is interesting, but it's nothing next to the Force," Amare commented to her master. "Mentis and I proved that against their Agent Palidor. I found it odd, however. I could sense an empowered presence within that armour, but it did not feel natural to me. Not like it does for us. These 'supersoldiers' are doing something very strange with the Force. I would like to go with Bomoor to learn what exactly it is...by your leave, of course."

Thane nodded. "Of course," he said, almost as if the query did not require his assent. It was still a somewhat peculiar dynamic, when one considered his own young age, but such things had long been commonplace for Jedi and Sith. "I trust your judgement, Amare. Do as you will, and learn what you can." He glanced back to Mentis. "And the same to you."

"All your efforts against Palidor certainly proved to aid us in gaining the Grand Moff's favour," Bomoor added, eyeing Mentis to give him particular credit against the supersoldier before turning towards Thane's apprentice, "It will be interesting to see why it was that these so-called CROSS troopers needed to be tested against a Force-user. You have more of a technical insight that myself, Amare, which could certainly be of benefit, as perhaps will Reave's own 'tinkering' skills."

The Ithorian then addressed Mentis and Rex, "I trust you two are comfortable working together again. No complications this time."

Mentis looked down slightly, "Of course, we were just discussing how this 'Empire Day' event may give us a bit of cover. We'll work something out."

"Then it is decided," Amare said as she started to leave, but then tapped the Rattataki gently on the shoulder as she passed and turned to him, "Mentis, before we go our separate ways for the day, may I have words with you for a few minutes? Alone?"

Rex rolled his eyes before he came up to stand beside Mentis briefly, a friendly hand placed on his bony shoulder. "Mantis my man, when a lady says that to you, it's never a good thing - especially when it sounds like it is." He shook his head and chuckled lightly. "Let me know when you're ready to get this bucking bantha ride started," he added with an extra pat, before working his way out of the room with Thane and Bomoor. "I'll be gearing up with Reave."

TBC

 

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