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Darth Verrin    2,201

(continued from the Spacedock)


Verrin and his armored associate had left the spaceport, where he hailed them a vehicle to take them across the city of Praetorium.  They probably could have walked the distance, but it would have taken a while, and not everything Verrin had to say was for the ears of everyone in the bustling streets around them. Once inside the vehicle, he went into more detail.


"So from I'm told, there's a seedy little cantina in the northern sector of this city, that is run by some faction of the Hutt Cartel. The head Hutt - and no, I don't know it's name, yet -  had smugglers intercept a cargo ship that was bringing in supplies to aid in the construction of some facilities within the High Tower here. In the old days, when the Empire was strong, they would have just sent in a pile of troopers or something to take back what was stolen, and be done with it. But now... in this new age, when we're supposed to be 'getting along' with Jedi, and fostering relations to support the cause against the Republic... we can't go flooding the place with a lot of troops that we simply don't have. Nor can we arrive in force, and have the Hutt not just roll his slobbery arse out the back door, or barricade the place and call in the local media to broadcast the whole thing to the galaxy at large. We can be forceful - yes - but we can't be so blatant about it.


I'm told that's where you come in. Supposedly, one of you Mandalorians is worth thirty Imperial guardsmen. And with just two of us heading into the place, we shouldn't be setting off every warning buzzer that the local bouncer has in place.


I'm no great statistician. My plan is to have us both go in for a drink, and try to find out if either the smugglers or the Hutt are in residence. Then, if we can do it quietly, we take the Barve... You know what, forget I said that.  I know as much of the Mandalorian language as you probably do about the Force. we take the bastage out the back door, and ask him or her where the Imperial cargo went.  If he - or she - doesn't tell us, then you beat the living daylights out of them until they do. I confess it's probably not a great plan, but that why you're here.  You are supposedly expert in this sort of thing. 


What do YOU propose we do?"  Verrin concluded, doing his level best to be inclusive rather than pushing the Mandalorian out the door and hoping she broke her neck when she landed in a pile of poodoo.


Who knew... maybe she would grow on him, and change his mind about her kind. After all, the Sith and Mandalorians had been allies for quite some time.

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Isa Sal    12
Posted (edited)

Isa took in the Zabrak before her, taking in his slighter build, and the tattoos that covered most of his lavender-pale skin. She caught a glimpse of jewelry within the hood of his cloak, and the flash of bracers that looked both exceedingly old and ornate. In all, he seemed to prefer functional, but with sharp nods to power and opulence. An interesting combination, and one that marked him clearly as not a warrior. Still, Isa’s caution remained. Only a fool assumed that a slight build and a couple pieces of ornamentation meant a being wasn’t dangerous. Especially if that being was a Sith who had, by all appearances, survived well beyond his youth.


Never trust a survivor until you know what they did to survive.


She herself stood in stark contrast to the Zabrak, and in more than just height. Armoured head-to-toe in a set of worn and fairly battered beskar’gam painted different shades of blue with a red undersuit, those who knew her people well would be able to infer certain things about her from the colours alone. Two pieces of mismatched armour - a green shoulder plating and an orange piece beneath that rested across the left side of her chest - were more heavily scarred than the rest of her gear, and clearly hailing from different sets. Pieces worn in remembrance. The slugthrower at her hip was likely the only visible weapon that would be seen as an unusual choice - the matching pistols at her waist, while custom made, weren’t flashy enough to warrant undue inspection. She carried a variety of blades, some hidden and others visible, but once again, none seemed especially ornate. It was only the slugthrower strapped to her left thigh that was odd, unique in that most viewed it as an archaic sort of weapon. But as she knew from experience, there were few better weapons for taking on Force Sensitives - whether they be Sith or Jedi. Though she’d given up the path of a Jedi-Killer a long time ago, she had yet to abandon all the tools of the trade.


“No, no title,” Isa responded, her tone remaining calm. If it wasn’t exactly warm, then neither was his. “Sal works fine.”


His admission that he was only slightly better informed than she came as a bit of a surprise, and she bit down on her tongue to keep an irritated hiss from slipping between her teeth. She hated tests, and this had the distinct flavor of one. Shab. Still, his next works caused a smile to quirk her lips.


"The word you're looking for is aruetii. Or, if you want to be specific, dar'jetii," Isa answered, the faintest glimmer of amusement coloring her words as she fell into step with him. "Shabla or Shabuir is... Something else. But no. I have no trouble working outside my own."


Do you? But the question remained unasked.




Isa stepped into the hailed vehicle smoothly, settling in to listen to the plan the dar’jetii laid out before her. One eyebrow lifted at his estimate of the value of one Mando, but she couldn’t quite tell if sarcasm laced the words. As it was, she simply let the comment pass, filing it away in the back of her mind for the time being.


A soft laugh escaped her at his attempted use of Mando’a, but there was no venom in the sound. Interesting, that he seemed to have picked up a few words, though apparently not the context for them.


"Not a bad foundation," she said when he had finished, the words both musing and sincere. "But I doubt it’ll be that straight forward. Or quiet. So…” she considered for a moment, formulating a plan in her own mind while implementing the information he’d given. Finally, she nodded.


“Keep the foundation, but a few changes. First, I'm impressed by just how many assumptions you managed to fit into such a short period of time," Isa replied, the words lazy and lacking any bite. Still, there was an undercurrent beneath them, difficult to interpret but there nonetheless. Let him dig as far as he wished to try to find its meaning. "Second, ‘barve’ isn’t Mando'a, just a general insult. And third, nobody is going to just let us waltz their knowledgeable companion out the door without the kind of trouble we're apparently trying to avoid... But the good news is, we've got a distinct advantage that you're currently overlooking while providing fairly solid proof of it. And that is that as soon as we walk in that door, everyone else is going to assume I've got the brain power of a gizka whose been shot out of an airlock midflight. And the best part about everyone thinking you're just a dumb brute, is that nobody ever stops to consider if you might have a different reason for starting a fight,” the smile in her voice was clear by now, a sharp-edged thing. “First we go in and find out if anybody interesting is even about, as you suggested. After that, I start a fight to cover dragging the poor shabuir with the misfortune of being that interesting soul out the back. Gives us time and cover to get the intel we need, and the poor sod an excuse for looking like hell if it takes more than a few credits and some encouraging words to get what we need. After that, we deposit them back into the fight, give it some encouragement if it seems to be dying out, and use it to cover our exit.”


Isa waited to see his response, wondering just how open to suggestions he was going to prove to be. Who knew, maybe he’d insist they do it his way. Or he might actually listen to her advice. In the end, it was a toss-up, and Isa was curious to see which way the coin would land.

Edited by Isa Sal
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Darth Verrin    2,201
Posted (edited)

Verrin filed away some of the vocabulary corrections, and did his best to remember the context of them. He'd met a few mercs in his day, and even a few Mandalorians, but when he didn't use the words in everyday speech, their meaning got lost, or misconstrued. Even so, he might use a term that was 'popular' in its day, but turned out to be replaced by something else over the years. Such was life - such was getting old.  At least his companion seemed to be amused by his errors, rather than offended.


The Force told him she was tense, but not unduly so.  This was probably her day-to-day level of alertness, and not a particular concern for being with him. That was both good and bad.  It meant he wasn't a threat to her - or more correctly, she didn't see him as one. In truth, he wasn't, but that might also mean she didn't think him capable in a combat situation. It might undermine any authority he had with her... or it might not.  Time would tell.


She approved of his general plan, but wanted to change some particulars.  He was fine with that.  He wasn't a grand military leader, and his general way of dealing with conflict was to do it subtly - not in some showy display of strength and brute force. There was some undertone in her initial remark about how he managed to assume quite a bit, but even with the Force, it was difficult to tell what, exactly, she was thinking. Feeling, on the other hand, was more sincere.  But he nodded in agreement to her statement - he didn't have any Imperial intel in advance of all of this, other than the general situation, and location of interest. He could only picture @Darth Sanguira, sitting in a small, lavish, lounge with some of her diplomatic 'friends', sipping at expensive cocktails, and watching the goings-on once he and Isa arrived. He'd even bet credits that she had sent her minion ahead to wire the place with hidden cameras, so that they could all have a grand show at his expense.


Verrin made a mental note to disable any cameras he detected... he'd learned how to do a few tricks with electronics using the Force.


His musings were brought back to the present quickly though, and he listened while Isa laid out more of the details of her plan. She described herself as being something of a big, dumb thug, which was something he hadn't assumed at all. Granted, he might make that leap if a Gammorean were involved, but not a Mando.  He wondered if she was Gammorean beneath her helmet.  She didn't move like one though - her gait was more humanoid.  She was too tall to be Bothan... the helmet was such that she definitely wasn't Twi'lek or Togrutan... maybe she was...


He mentally smacked himself for trying to pin a race on her.  Did it really matter if she was human or alien? Of course not. He was already struggling to get past the fact she was Mandalorian, and his hatred of their whole sect. He grimaced a little, and reprimanded himself for making assumptions - especially after she'd just explained how people generally thought of her as stupid because of her size.


The rest of her plan sounded pretty solid, with her taking the lead in starting a brawl that would be completely apropos for the venue. He looked sideways at her though, and remarked, "Sounds solid.  Just don't start the fight using me, all right?  I don't feel like wearing an icepack on my face for the rest of the night if I don't have to."


Their conveyance deposited them a couple of blacks away from the establishment, and they went the rest of the way on foot, moving through the crowded streets like anyone else. One difference though, was that people tended to get out of Isa's way because of her size and her armor - nobody wanted to bump into that accidentally or purposefully. And for some reason, people just tended to move out of Verrin's way, as if they felt the spectre of death walking among them.


So it was that they wound up outside the front of the cantina - it's unremarkable facade only suggested that this was the place because of a broken, blinking, neon sign that would have read Dante's Dugout had it been fully operational. A large - you guessed it - Gammorean bouncer stood outside the entrance, looking bored and all but picking his nose. Verrin led the way towards him - not out of any sense of authority over his companion, but out of a sense of responsibility to somehow lead this mission.


The bouncer looked up as they approached, but focused almost entirely on the big suit of well-worn armor behind Verrin. She looked dangerous - armed and armored - just the sort of patron he was hired to stop and question.  It wasn't that mercs never drank at the Dugout, but this Gammorean usually knew who they were already, or was told to let them pass. Neither was the case here.


But Verrin spoke softly as he came within earshot. "Pay us no mind - we're simply grabbing a drink."  A little Force suggestion went a long way in this sort of situation.


The bouncer moved aside and let them pass, for some reason, believing that they were 'on the list'... had there been an actual list.


The inside of the establishment was little better than the sign outside. It was overly dark, dingy, and smelled of old booze, grime, and the coppery hint of blood. Patrons of all sorts littered the place like flies on flypaper, and some kind of smoke made the air hazy and bitter.  Verrin wished he'd thought to wear his mask to filter out all of the nastiness, but he'd stick out like a sore thumb if he went in looking like an assassin.  It wans't that there weren't killers in this place - he was sure there were many - but there was a distinct difference between the kind of killing they did and the type he performed. Seldom, if ever, did the two meet.


Some loud, raucous noise that might have been considered music to some, was blaring out, joining with the shouts, talk, and patter of the place to create a general din that made conversation almost impossible.  Again, Verrin wished he had his mask, so he could use the built-in communicator to talk directly with Isa.


He raised an eyebrow beneath his cowl.  This was not his kind of establishment. This was not his area of expertise. He didn't assume that it was Isa's either, but he turned and leaned in and up towards her helmet to mention, "Ahhh... I'm not going to pretend to know who to talk to first.  Please... lead the way."



Force Powers used:


Force Empathy

Force Persuasion


Edited by Darth Verrin
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Isa Sal    12
Posted (edited)

A soft laugh escaped her at the dar’jetii’s request that she not use him to start the fight.


“Don’t worry, dar’jetii. I’m planning to pick the fight in a much more old-fashioned way. Your face should stay in the same condition it’s in now.”


Not that she could see much of what that condition was underneath his hood.


One thing. Don’t let anybody grab that earring. Doubt anyone is stupid enough to try with a Sith, but I’m always amazed at the idiocy of beings in bars,” she lifted one shoulder in a shrug, certain he didn’t need the advice, but still. They were working together, for better or worse, no matter her qualms about Sith and Jedi and all the nonsense that each side involved. And if they were working together, she was going to at least try to act congenial. So far he’d not been a shabuir, or given her any particular reason to earn her ire. Still, her fingers brushed the armoured orange plate at her chest, gloved hand tracing the burn that disfigured the surface before she caught herself and dropped her hand back to her side. Last thing she needed was to show a Sith any sign of discomfort.


With that thought, Isa ducked out of the vehicle as it drew to a halt, allowing its passengers to continue the rest of the way on foot.


The establishment was exactly the type Isa had been expecting. For some reason every planet seemed to have a shoddy little cantina, more often than not with a hutt presence, which made an already bad situation that much worse. This place was no better, and Isa felt her lip curl in disgust even as they approached the door, only to be met by a hulking guard.  Isa stared up at the Gamorrean, inwardly cursing her own size. Sure, she had height, but in every other respect she was lean and thin - nothing like the hulking mass before her. While her armour gave some bulk, it was still clear she was no wall of muscle. She could hold her own in a fight if it came to it, but she’d been hoping for a quieter entrance. But the problem was averted when the Sith spoke, and the Gamorrean stepped aside. Isa felt an eyebrow lift in surprise. Fair enough, then…


As they stepped into the cantina, she found she was incredibly grateful for the filters in her helmet and the sealed status of her suit. She’d been in enough places like this that she could imagine the stench of it just by glancing around. She almost pitied the dar’jetii next to her, wearing only his cloak and nothing to filter out the particular odours of the place. Almost.

As it was, Isa simply adjusted the audio dampeners in her HUD, seeking to filter out all the filler noise in favor of hopefully picking up something interesting. She also upped her visuals, allowing her HUD’s systems to help filter through the smoke and general haze of the place.


Taking the lead the Sith offered, Isa brought them to a small table tucked back against a side wall. Not so far out of the way as to be ensconced in shadows, but not smack-dab at the centre of the room and therefore the attention of its patrons.


“Poison of choice?” Isa asked, gesturing to the bar. Whatever his answer, Isa moved to the bar to retrieve it for him, along with a simple Corellian whiskey for herself. A simple drink, and the kind that was easy to mime having had far more of. She didn’t plan on removing her helmet, but it was always better to at least look like you were considering a drink. Otherwise you just looked like someone who needed watching.


Returning to the table, Isa slid the dar’jetii’s drink across the table to him as she settled in her seat and leaned back. She almost immediately regretted the action, as the chair shuddered dangerously.


“Osik,” she hissed, readjusting her weight carefully. “If I end up shebs on the floor, try not to laugh too much at my expense,” she muttered, tilting her head at the Sith. She lowered her voice with the next words, careful to keep her body language utterly relaxed. They could be discussing the weather for all that her posture would tell anyone.


“Now we wait, and listen. I’d rather not go about asking questions, not in a dive like this. Quickest way to end up with a shiv thrown at each of our spines. People talk when they don’t think anyone can hear. And the racket they call music is going to be enough to grant people a sense of immunity,” her own words were pitched low and even, the tone remaining calm and unfluctuating. Tone alone could call attention to them, even wiht low words. Isa would rather hers was as unremarkable as possible. Normally she’d speak in Mando’a, or even through helmet comms. But neither was an option here, so they’d have to simply work with what they had.

Edited by Isa Sal
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Darth Verrin    2,201

Verrin almost smiled at the seemingly motherly comment about his earring.  To date, this merc was the first person to both notice and comment on it. He was all too aware of the situation in a fight, given the way he'd taken it for himself, but that might be a story for another time.  For the moment, they had other matters to attend to.


The first of those matters, was apparently finding a table and grabbing drinks. His companion handled both - selecting a vantage point, and then even offering to get him a beverage.  "Get ME a beverage - what a novel idea!"  He thought to himself. Normally - he was the one offering beverages to those who visited him.  Isa Sal just jumped up several notches in his eyes.  Too bad she was Mandalorian... that would take more effort to get over. At least she wasn't the worst Mandalorian.


He ordered bourbon, though he doubted the sort of swill they'd serve in a place like this would be up to his usual standards.  Still - it was a disinfectant, if nothing else. She returned with the drinks - he thanked her - and sure enough, it was pretty harsh on the tongue. At least it would kill any germs left behind on the glass.


She then went to sit on the chair at the table with him, only to have it buckle beneath the weight of her armor. It didn't collapse, thankfully - she caught herself before that could happen, and resettled her weight accordingly while making light of the situation. Verrin almost - but not quite - laughed as he recalled a memory from long ago.  When he'd first come to the Sith, he'd been smaller - frail, really - but as studious as ever.  He'd had his nose in a book, and hadn't watched where he was going.  He wound up running smack-dab into a six-foot tall smuggler woman with red hair named Dion.  He'd literally, and figuratively, fallen for her as he crashed to the floor in front of her - the very picture of the Sith Lord he was trying to be. She, far more sturdy, had helped him up, laughing up a storm. 


But that was then...


Now, as Isa resettled and took in the room, she feigned a casual posture and offered a conversational tone. "Now we wait, and listen. I’d rather not go about asking questions, not in a dive like this. Quickest way to end up with a shiv thrown at each of our spines. People talk when they don’t think anyone can hear. And the racket they call music is going to be enough to grant people a sense of immunity."


She was professional, he had to admit. She didn't want to ask questions, but rather wanted to wait for a potential source to reveal itself.  Verrin wasn't too sure that was a sound plan - in his experience, waiting for magic to happen was usually an exercise in futility, and he wasn't sure he wanted to be here all night.  But then, beating the bushes was sure to draw too much attention to them, so maybe it was a better idea after all. He decided to rely on her expertise and experience in the end - he certainly hadn't spent a lot of time in this sort of place, and with these kinds of people.  He mused again that Darth Sanguira would be watching, and so he made a casual sweep of the room using Force senses.  There were no hidden cameras - the people that came here wanted as much anonymity as he and Isa did, especially for illicit plans and activities. But there were plenty of electronics around - holos, datapads, and the like.


He casually commented, "I'm a little surprised they don't confiscate weapons and such at the door.  Perhaps the engagements got too boring that way."  It was his way of noting to her that any fight might end up with blasters going off around (or at) them. Shivs were the least of his concerns. She was armored though, and he was quick.  He wasn't overly worried about them surviving a brawl, but he certainly wouldn't be whipping out a lightsaber in the commotion unless some Bothan drew first.


He then followed up with, "You pick the best places, dear. This reminds me of that place on Nar Shaddaa."


It might have been too much, but he knew if HE Heard that in this joint, he certainly wouldn't listen in on any following conversation.


As they peered about, they spied several tables of heavy drinkers - regulars, Verrin supposed - mostly at the bar though.  Others were younger and braver, possibly young men and women in their early twenties looking for cheap booze in large quantities.  A few people were obviously out of place though - too well-dressed to be either regulars or party-boys.  Maybe they were former nobles, slumming to see what life was like on the wild side? There were also a few mercs, like Isa, though whether they were true Mandalorians or not, Verrin couldn't say. And then there was the table of heavily-inebriated patrons who were hassling a Twi'lek dancer that probably should have retired five years ago. Everyone had to make a living though.  It just seemed like a tough way to do it - being the arse-grabbed focus of slobbering 'fans'.


Verrin couldn't hear much though - nothing specific anyway, or at least, not yet. There was a spot at the bar where two men were talking in tones that were more hushed than not - so those were the only stand-outs to him.  He mentioned, "That couple at the end of the bar looks like they're having a good time, no?"

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Isa Sal    12

This was not how she'd thought her day was going to go. Now that she had a chance to sit, to think… Isa could feel unease spooling in the pit of her stomach. A Jedi was one thing. Not a favoured thing, true, but still entirely different than a Sith.


What in haran am I shabla doing?


Isa forced her mind away from the thoughts, well aware that to dwell on them would only allow the Sith before her more insight than she currently wanted to give away. Instead she turned her mind back to a game of pazaak in her head as she worked to lock away the unease she felt. She could deal with it later, but for now she needed it to be banished from her mind and from her emotions.


"I'm a little surprised they don't confiscate weapons and such at the door.  Perhaps the engagements got too boring that way."


Isa smiled slightly at the observation, inclining her head slightly in recognition of the subtle warning. “You ever see anybody try to take a weapon from a Merc?” she drawled, humour reflecting in her tone. “Now picture it with a Mando. Or a Wookiee. Or anything else with more training than the average mercenary or smuggler, and suddenly it’s much less trouble to simple let weapons stay where they are. Besides, this way, anybody who draws a blaster does so knowing full well they’re going to get at least a dozen pointed back at them. Even the most di’kutla mercs know better than to lose their temper in a place like this. At least to that degree.”


A sideways glance at his next comment, though he’d not be able to see it with her helmet. He’d better just be playing a role, else he just might end the day with an icepack on his face. And not from a cantina brawl.


“Next time buy me dinner first, might help,” she retorted, her voice sickeningly sweet. Still, she turned her attention to the patrons around her, noting a distinct lack of other Mandos. Interesting in its own right, but not overly surprising. A place like this, while good for lying low, wasn’t exactly the kind she’d come to either. A distinct underworld presence made it good for information, but bad for relaxing. Not the type of place her vode would come to drink, as none would be comfortable enough to take off helmets. Unfortunately, that meant if things went south there wasn’t much hope for immediate backup with no questions asked.


Just have to make sure things don’t go south then.


"That couple at the end of the bar looks like they're having a good time, no?"


Isa didn’t move her head in that direction, but rather turned her attention to the 360 view in her HUD. No sense making it look like she was looking.


“It does look like an exciting night for them,” she replied, offering the slightest tilt of her head in confirmation. She reached casually for her drink, taking the glass so that one finger rested length-wise against it. A signal to the dar’jetii that she was working on something.


It always amazed her that people still seemed to believe that a whispered conversation was subtle. In her experience, it was practically a red flag and a flashing neon sign, all in one. She upped the sensitivity of her HUD, playing with the settings as she worked to get a fix on the audio without blasting out her own eardrums. Thankfully everything in her HUD was controlled by blinks and gestures with her eyes, as well as vocal commands that she gave after muting the mic within her helmet. It took a good half minute, but finally their voices came through. If not clearly, then at least audibly.


“You know, I think I might see what other kinds of liquor the barkeep has. This stuff is absolute osik. I was looking for some excitement, guess I’ll have to go find it myself,” she said finally, keeping the tone casual, but a slow smile had spread over her features. She offered a nod that to anyone else would look like a simple confirmation of how terrible the liquor was, but she knew the Sith would recognise it as a confirmation. She tipped her own glass sideways, letting the cheap liquor splash onto the floor even as she snagged his empty glass. “I may break a bottle of the stuff over his head, let him have a taste of this swill. If I do, meet me out the rear door there when they throw me out on my shebs,” she said cheerfully, nodding to a door that wasn’t too far from their current position. Hopefully he’d know what she meant. He didn’t strike her as the stupid sort, but she’d been mistaken on that assumption before. “Refill?”


She didn’t wait for an answer, instead rising smoothly from the chair - miraculously managing to keep it from even threatening collapse - and heading to the bar with both glasses.


She was lucky the place was crowded, as it allowed her an excuse to weave through the patrons to the bar without looking like she was making a beeline to the two pointed out by the dar’jetii. Isa managed to maneuver so she was a few meters from them when she picked out the poor chakaare who were about to help start a brawl. The heavily drunk crew was still hassling the Twi’lek dancer, and it seemed only fair that they should end up with a few bruises for being such dredges of society. Isa intentionally shoved the first man with her shoulder, keeping the motion casual but putting enough force into it to cause the man’s drink to splash down his front and forcing him off-balance. He responded by whirling with a drunken shout, fists already swinging. It was a simple matter at that point to smoothly side-step, keeping out his view and allowing a Mirilian behind her to become the obvious target. That caused its own little knot of a fight, but it wasn’t enough. Not yet. Another shove a few steps further on, followed by a shouted accusation at a Bith to her right, and a Weequay charged at her. That was a surprise, but Isa stepped aside, grabbing his collar and chucking him onto a nearby table with ease, sending glasses flying and earning shouts that quickly erupted into more serious disagreements.  The first fight had already spread by then, sparking off little fights of its own that were sparking their own in turn, like a merrily burning wildfire. Add a couple more thrown punches, a series of well-placed shoves and two kicks, and suddenly the whole place was erupting. And not a single soul would be able to say she’d been the one to start it.


Two strides later and she snagged the arm of the closest of the two men she was after, who were frantically trying to weave their way through the now fighting crowd. The further man got caught in a knot of brawling humans where it looked like he would be occupied for some time, and Isa spun the first while releasing his arm, allowing her shoulder to slam into him as if by accident. A quick spin and she had him in a solid grip and out the door without even a shout. She just hoped the dar’jetii was close behind her.

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Darth Verrin    2,201

At first, all was well. His idle comments had his companion amused, and she took the opportunity to explain the fighting nature of mercs, and then the establishment they were in. None of the news was surprising, but having it laid out plainly covered any contrary thoughts Verrin might have. Oh yes, Isa knew places like this, and the people in them.  She was proving valuable already.


But then things went south. He followed up with his comment about Nar Shaddaa, and Isa's tone turned sticky-sweet such that he didn't need the Force to know he'd said something wrong. Verrin raised an eyebrow, not quite sure how his words soured their budding, professional relationship, but making a mental note to watch himself. Maybe Isa had a falling-out on Nar Shaddaa, and he'd unwittingly touched a raw nerve. He was tempted to ask, but merely looked at her quizzically for a moment before refocusing on the bar patrons.


She apparently agreed with his assessment of 'abnormalities' in the place. Then, she reached for her glass and held a finger over it in an odd manner. Maybe it was a signal... or an affectation? Verrin wasn't sure what to think of it, and split his attention between the bar and her hand, watching to see if the gesture changed to mean something else.


It did change, but not in the way he expected. Isa stood up smoothly, tipping her drink over and grabbing his own glass while offering to get them something better from the bar. He wasn't in sync with her thoughts yet, but she was certainly acting confident enough. Her tone changed to downright cheerful, and her helmet bobbed towards a door near the rear of the establishment. Little lights started to flicker in Verrin's recognition, as she confirmed his thoughts with the bit about breaking a bottle over someone's head.


Then she was moving through the crowd, winding her way towards the bar.  She dipped her shoulder subtly and bumped one of the men who was harassing the Twi'lek dancer with more force than mere momentum accounted for. Deftly, she sidestepped, making it look like another bar patron had done the misdeed, instigating a fight between the pair. She dind't stop there though, and before a third punch had been thrown, she was already repeating the incident elsewhere. It was all part of her plan.


"Duh," Verrin chastised himself for not making the connections sooner. He quickly got up, and then ducked sideways as a chair flew in his direction. Then, he bent the Force to his will, and disappeared from sight altogether.


Unseen, it was easier to move through the crowd of brawling bar-goers, and he made it to the designated door just as Isa reached the pair at the bar. He stepped through the portal into a hallway with a few other doors off it, but it was easy at that point to follow the exit sign to get out. He stepped through and into a dark alley, lit only by the lights of the main street shining down it. It had started to rain too.


"Bah!" Verrin thought. He didn't mind rain, but right now, it was inconvenient.


He stepped to the side of the door - the side opposite of the way it opened, so he wouldn't get smacked it the face if it burst open suddenly. Then he did as told, and waited for Isa to emerge.


As he'd expected, the walking suit of armor shoved one of the two parties out the door in front of her, holding them fiercely in some wrestling hold or another. At that point, Verrin let his hidden state drop, and appeared almost out of thin air. He was practically three hands away from the captive, and dressed as he was, only his eyes would be clearly visible at first... until the person got used to the lighting. The man startled for a second or two, but then started to struggle against his captor more aggressively.


Verrin leaned in further, and his voice came out low, but intense. "Pay attention.  I'm looking for the cargo of The Dusty Drammus."  The cargo was the important thing, not the ship or its captain. "I'm told you either stole it, sold it, or otherwise know where it is.  Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated. Am I making myself clear?"


H paused only long enough for Isa to add her input - physically or verbally didn't matter to him. 


But in that space, the captive spat to one side. It seemed like this was a hardened smuggler, or thug, or what-have-you. He might take a little more convincing to give up any valuable information he had. Perhaps some credits would loosen his tongue... or some other persuasive method.  Verrin glanced to his expert associate.


Force powers used: Force Empathy, Force Cloak

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Isa Sal    12

The shabla Sith appeared practically out of nowhere, materialising from the shadows. It was almost enough to make her jump, much less the poor sod she had by the collar. She didn’t much blame him when he started to struggle even more. Nothing quite like a Sith appearing in front of you demanding answers to bring fear to the surface.


The Sith made his demand, and Isa couldn’t help inclining her head slightly, impressed despite herself. He handled himself well, and his voice was carefully pitched. Not a threat just yet, but rather the foreshadowing of one. Reasonable enough to start with. Part of her hoped it might bode well for the what would come next. However, the man she held seemed determined to take his chances, spitting to the side. Isa sighed within the confines of her helmet before bringing her head forward and slamming it into the back of the man’s head with a crack. The force of the blow was carefully checked - enough to give a ringing headache and a nasty bump, but not enough to knock him unconscious.


The man dropped like a rock, his legs giving out under him, and Isa let him fall, twisting him as he went so he dropped down facing her. Once he was seated on the wet ground holding his head, she crouched in front of him, her body-language easy and relaxed. He didn’t look up, and so she snapped her fingers in front of his face, the armour-plated gloves clanking ominously. He looked up.


“That was both rude and stupid,” Isa spoke, her voice almost conversational.




Isa’s helmeted head came forward again, this time cracking against his forehead. Once again she pulled the blow, and while his head snapped back, he remained fully conscious.


“Once again, rather rude and incredibly stupid. You're not exactly starting off on the right foot here. Be polite.” Isa flashing a credit chip with a decent value on it, allowing it to catch the faint light of the alleyway. “That was called a Keldabe kiss, and believe me, I can keep going. Now. You can think of us as reverse thieves, come to put an extra sum in your pocket. All we need from you is the information my associate asked for. Or, I can knock every tooth out of your head, and then you can tell us exactly what we’re looking for.”


“My employers-”


“Your employers are a bunch of Hutts. What do you think they’ll do when you wind up on their front step, battered to haran and tied up with a nice note pinned to your chest about just how shabla helpful you were? I don’t have to kill you, chakaar. I just have to hand you over and your life becomes ten times worse than I could ever dream of making it,” the anger she allowed to leak into her voice was real. She absolutely hated contracts like this one. Dealing in threats and misery. Violence she could deal with. But the underworld and its osik disgusted her, and the words she uttered tasted vile in her own mouth. Where was the shabla honor in work like this? She’d asked herself that question a hundred times. Sometimes the answer was a simple one, a tradeoff. Sometimes it was less clear, and that...bothered her. Still, she shoved the emotions aside for now - they could be dealt with later, when she didn't have to deal with a stubborn thug in front of her and a dar'jetii at her back.

“Tell us what we want, and you walk away with more credits in your pocket and a shabla good alibi for the bruises you’re going to be sporting tomorrow. Everybody wins. Except the Hutts, naturally, but that lot can kiss my shebs. I doubt you’ve got a whole hell of a lot of loyalty for them - so think of it as an added bonus for your job. You get to help us kick them in the shebs, and you get to walk away from it richer,” Isa spread her hands, palms up, still perfectly balanced in her crouch before him.


She glanced at the Sith, waiting for the man to make his choice. She had no idea how this was going to play out, and if it did go south, she could only hope the dar’jetii would have her back.

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Darth Verrin    2,201



There was a distinct, ringing sound, when a skull met hollow metal, and that sound resonated when Isa butted the contentious smuggler in the back of his head. Down he went, as one might expect, though Isa helped him so that he didn't face-plant in the dirty alley.  She was almost gentle, aside from the strike, of course. She crouched over him, suggesting that he was being rude to them - and in Verrin's mind, he was - but her commentary was frankly what drew most of his attention. Verrin, above most things, strove to be polite, and had little patience for anything else. People might disagree, but they were supposedly civilized when doing so.


The smuggler, though, was anything but polite when he name-called his aggressor.




Another strike of metal on skull - carefully aimed and equally forceful so that it hurt, but didn't break the person. Verrin was impressed.  He thought of Mandalorians as effective, but barbaric. Isa was proving his world-view wrong. She reprimanded the man again, and explained that her headbutts were called 'kisses'.  The situation was such that Verrin didn't smirk, but he certainly thought to himself, "If that's a kiss... you don't want her to hug you.  And you won't survive lovemaking."


She surprised him again, when she produced a cred chip and offered to pay for information.  He didn't know how much she was offering, but the gesture was smart, and he chastised himself for not thinking of it. Isa was proving to be a valuable aide, and Verrin despised the idea of having to tell Darth Sanguira that fact.


Isa was explaining to the man that if he turned down the offer of credits for info, that there would be more pain coming.  Still, the smuggler was hesitant. Verrin could sense that he really believed the Hutts would hurt him more than Isa and Verrin ever could. He was wrong, of course, but that was only because he knew the Hutts, and didn't know them.


Verrin sighed. He guessed Isa had enough experience to break every bone in the man's body and still leave him alive to feel it.  Meanwhile, he could tap into the guy's mind and break his will by force or by Force.  The two of them could take him apart in ways the Hutts would fail to do. But without the information they sought, such efforts were wasted.


Isa was showing patience though, and urging the man to talk. Interestingly, the smuggler didn't deny that he knew what they were interested in - he was simply afraid to tell them. That, they could work with.  He was definitely their source. They just had to convince him to spill.


Verrin crouched beside his partner, assuming a similar, relaxed position.  Next to her, in all her armor, he looked smaller - less threatening - or at least, less physically so. He agreed with her.


"Look, man... I don't know these particular Hutts like you do, and you don't know us.  But if you look at your position right now, then you'll see -"


At that moment, the door to the cantina burst open, and the man's associate from inside made an appearance, looking for his friend. He was bruised from the fighting going on inside - fighting that could still be heard, but hadn't spilled out of the place - and he looked wildly from left to right in search of both his associate and an escape route. He saw his friend laying on his back, with two people crouched over him, and probably assumed that he was being rolled for whatever cash he had on him. He called out, "Lars!" 


But that was all he managed before the door he'd flung open appeared to rebound off the wall, and slammed back into his face, knocking him back into the cantina (and likely onto his arse).  There was a sound of creaking metal as the door twisted a little bit in its frame, causing it to be stuck shut.  It would take a significant effort to open it again.


A little Force telekinesis went a long way.  But there was no physical show from Verrin - no sign that he'd influenced the situation at all.  He wasn't one of those Sith that flung their arms and hands about, in some effort to 'move the Force' to his will.  All of his skills and training had been about working his mind.  Some of his students found the physical gestures helpful - as if seeing themselves waving in the air helped them visualize what they wanted to do with the Force. He was not so fettered. He had merely glanced up when the friend appeared, and then back to the man on the ground before them.


"Lars..." He smiled now. 


Perhaps his smile was unnerving, or his show of teeth in his dark face beneath his dark cowl was predatory.  Perhaps seeing his friend yanked away, or the sound of the door warping was enough to unsettle Lars.  Or maybe - just hearing his name, being recognized as more than just an information source was the trigger.  But Lars suddenly began to spill.


"Okay, okay... enough!" He pleaded, lifting a hand to ineffectively ward them off.


He reached for the credit chip, "Me and Bragga took the Drammus, yeah!  Then we contacted our buyer, Dilla the Hutt. She had us park the thing at the 'port - docking bay 47 - just like we done a dozen times. I dunno what she does from there... prolly scraps the thing, or uses it for sumthin' else after she moves the cargo. We only came in a day ago - so it's prolly still there.  Ok?  Is that enough? I don't know nuthin' more!"


Verrin's smile remained.  It was good enough for him - it was a lead, it had names. And - it was soon enough that they might salvage the vessel... if it was still in dock.


He looked to his partner though.  Was she satisfied with the information?  Did she think he was lying?  He asked, "Well, 'Buckethead' - think this chakkar is spilling all the beans, or just a few?"


He would get the swing of some of these Mandalorian words... practice made perfect, right?


Force power used: Telekinesis



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Isa Sal    12

Her HUD gave her a split second of warning, and Isa instantly regretted leaving her back to the door. It was a stupid move, plain and simple, and she knew better. Exhaustion was beginning to weigh on her, take its toll. And it was going to get her killed if she wasn’t more careful.


She was beginning to move when suddenly the door rebounded with a squeal of metal, the situation apparently taking care of itself. She lifted one brow slowly. Luck was one thing, but hers had never been that stellar. She glanced over at the Sith, wondering… She hadn’t seen any gestures, no mark that the Zabrak had anything to do with the sudden spurt of good luck. And in her experience, dar’jetii had always been the dramatic type, wanting everyone to know exactly how powerful they were. She wasn’t even quite sure it was possible to use the Force without the gestures that always seemed to accompany actions from force users. Still…


Time and place, Isa. Focus.


She turned her attention back to the man before her, tilting her head as he spoke. She fed the info into her own HUD systems, tracking back through what data she had collected on her own short stay so far, as well as whatever she could access easily enough from the systems. As it was, everything the man had said was plausible enough…


"Well, 'Buckethead' - think this chakkar is spilling all the beans, or just a few?"


Isa tilted her head, pointedly this time, the expressionless visor of her helmet fixed on the man before her. She let the silence stretch, waiting to see what might shake loose. But the man only glanced between her helmet at the metal door, uttering a low moan that was certainly convincing. If he was lying, he was a stellar actor.


“I think it’s all we’ll get,” Isa said in answer.


Isa dropped the chip into the man’s hand, but held up one gloved hand when he started to try to rise.


“Three things,” she said simply, the words broking no argument. “One, the intel you’ve just given us had best be solid. If there’s anything else, tell us now and I give you my word that you’ll not be punished for withholding it. But tell us now. I find out later, and believe me, a headache is going to be the absolute least of your worries,” she paused, tilting her head again in a signal for him to speak - if he had anything to say.


She was met by a long silence, followed by another moan. “..... There… might be a guard. We never saw one, but we pu’ in a kinda code each time. Mine’s still good, here,” he handed over a piece of flimsiplast, which Isa pocketed without a word. His hand was shaking violently.


“Second, you tell no one of this. Not a shabla soul, do you understand? I don’t care in the slightest if the hutts find out you gave the intel to me, but I guarantee you that you will not live out the week, and it will not be a pretty death. Consider it a warning - don’t waste it.”


The man nodded so hard Isa was sure he’d give himself a worse headache. Isa pulled her glove off one of her hands, the motion slow and deliberate, baring tattooed skin.


“And third. If you’ve set us up for anything particularly nasty, believe me I will come back, and I will find you,” she held up her tattooed hand, the contrast between ink and unmarked skin the only clear detail in the dim light of the alleyway. “These are the names of the dead, aruetii. Don’t make me add yours to them.”


It was utter bantha osik, at least in the implication. If the man had been Force Sensitive, Isa would have been playing a game of pazaak in her head to mask the deception in her words. As it was she didn’t bother, not caring whether or not the dar’jetii sensed it. Some were the names of the dead, but nothing so crude as a list of her kills. But what the man didn’t know might just work in their favour. Isa replaced her glove deftly, before standing and picking him up off the ground by his collar, giving him a shove to send him stumbling off.


“Fourth,” she said as he disappeared, her voice softer this time. “Don’t call me buckethead. It’s very rude,” she turned her head to look at the Sith, tilting her head pointedly. “Unless you were so jealous that you wanted a kiss of your own?” but the tone was light enough, almost teasing. She almost commented on his pronunciation of Mando’a, but simply shook her head lightly, amused. It was rare enough to see anyone bother trying to pick up the language. Much less a Sith.

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Darth Verrin    2,201

Verrin watched as the Mandalorian removed her glove.  He wasn't quite sure why she did so, at first, but he took note that her hand appeared human - or humanoid, at least.  It had four normal-looking fingers and a thumb, but then, he had that feature too. Also like his, hers had several tattoos marking the skin - the difference being that her skin was lighter. The fingers were long and lean, but well-kept enough that she didn't show signs of neglect.  They were working hands, certainly - unless it was a prosthetic, but he didn't think so.


She remarked that the tattoos were names of the dead.  He didn't think that was too likely, but the lighting wasn't great, and he wasn't going to stick his nose in her palm to make up his own mind. The smuggler, though, seemed to believe every word she said - even handed over some flimsi code for the docking bay security. "Smart," Verrin thought of his companion. It would make things easier if they were being legitimate 'business partners'.


She hefted the man up, fairly easily in Verrin's mind, and gave him a gentle shove that sent him running out of the alley and out of their sight. But Isa added a fourth word of warning for Verrin's benefit alone. "Don’t call me buckethead. It’s very rude," she said, softly, turning her helmet in his direction. "Unless you were so jealous that you wanted a kiss of your own?"


Was that humor?


He remarked just as lightly, "My, my... dinner, a show, AND a first kiss? I haven't had a date like this since... that holonet dating service really is everything it promised!"


He demurred though. It had been far too long since he'd had any type of romantic encounter, and her kisses... well... helms and horns didn't play well together.


He did gesture towards the street though. "All right then, Isa.  Let's move on to the docks and get in and out of there before something goes wrong. That fellow might be good enough to not say anything to his employers, but if he does, then we'll have a fight on our hands.  Either that, or if they beat us to it, they'll move the cargo and we'll be back to square one. Come on."


They stepped out into the street, and Verrin started to lead them towards the conveyance that brought them here. The docks were a bit too far away to reach in a timely fashion on foot. As they walked in the rain together, he offered, "That was an impressively smooth operation back there.  I appreciate your experience and judgement... and skills. This isn't my 'element', as it were."


He started to come clean with her, "I'm not accustomed to working with Mandalorians, and I have a lot of prejudices and ideas about your people that you're proving wrong. Either that, or you're a remarkable exception to those stereotypes.  Whether I'm in the wrong, or you're that exceptional, I just want you to know I appreciate the situation.  When I accepted this job, I dind't expect my world views to be challenged."


His tone was sincere.  But he seemed to catch himself, and waved a gauntleted hand in the air as if waving off a fly. "Ahh... but ramblings of an old man don't change the galaxy.  Let's focus on the here and now. 


How do you propose we deal with moving a ship full of cargo, assuming we obtain it? I'm no pilot - that's for sure. And I don't have a bevy of droids at my beck and call to load the supplies onto vehicles for transport. Any ideas?"

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Isa Sal    12

Isa chuckled softly at his return, tilting her head in acknowledgement of the humour. She nodded slightly as he returned to the business at hand, and followed him him back onto the street. Rain still pattered down around them, but Isa paid it no mind. She’d never been one to mind the damp, and had loved storms much harsher than this since her childhood. Being encased in armour likely helped, as it meant her vision and her movement remained fairly unrestricted by the weather.


She was, however, startled by the conversation’s turn as the dar’jetii spoke again. She had not expected any show of appreciation, and certainly not an admission of a possible misconception of her people. The whole thing left her rather taken aback. He waved off the remarks a second later, turning back to the matter at hand once more, but Isa hesitated a moment before responding, considering her own words.


“I can pilot a ship, if need be. I’ve had experience with a number of vessels, so assuming we can get on board, getting it out of there won’t be much of a problem,” she almost winced at how optimistic that sounded. Things rarely went that smoothly in her experience, and she highly doubted they would now. But she continued anyway, unable to see any other options before them. “Especially since I assume we won’t be attempting to take it too far. If, however, that doesn’t look possible….” she slowed her steps, working through the problem mentally. Finally, she shook her head again. “It’s not ideal, but if all else fails, we’ll secure the hangar, and I can leave you to keep an eye on the cargo while I retrieve my own ship. Loading it will be a pain in the shebs, but…” she sighed, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. “I don’t see any other options. Not without calling in more aid, and the more people involved means the faster word of this will spread. I’d rather keep it quiet, if only because news spreading gives our opponents time to plan. Even a few seconds could tip the balance.”


A fact she herself was intimately familiar with. Not long ago, a few seconds had meant a blaster bolt struck her in the chestplate instead of the throat. One was painful enough, but the other would have been lethal.


She let out a hiss between her teeth, the sound coming out mechanised through her helmet’s vocoder. “I don’t like it. At all.”


She fell silent a moment, considering both his earlier words and the problem before them.


“Dar’jetii, she spoke again, this time with a hesitation in her voice, an almost grudging admission that warred with years of anger and past experiences. “You are… not the only one having their view of the galaxy challenged tonight.”


She offered a sharp nod, unable to find any further words. She’d lost one mother to the Jedi, and the next to the Sith. Both had nearly shattered her, and those were hurts she still carried. She still spoke each woman’s name each day as part of a daily remembrance of the dead, a way Mandalorians kept the memory of loved ones alive. She knew her father did the same. She bore a piece of each of their armour, and had tattoos marked on her skin for each woman, symbols of their lives and stories. They were what had shaped her, and their deaths had also moulded her into who and what she had become. Those were not pieces of herself she could ever set aside - and neither was her anger at both Jedi and Sith and her mistrust of both. Add to that a dar'jetii that didn't act like any she'd ever met, and the confirmation that perhaps not everyone belonging to certain orders could be painted with the same broad strokes... It was a frustrating truth. One that did little to alleviate her general mistrust of either and served only to spark her anger at both. It was something she was going to need time to come to terms with, to grapple with. But all those things were near impossible to try to explain to an aruetii, an outsider. Much less a Sith she’d only met a few hours before.


She shook her head to clear her thoughts, turning her mind back to the hangar and the task that lay before them. Isa considered a moment longer, then let out a huff of air.


“Oya,she said finally, a wry humour twisting her voice. She glanced sideways at the dar’jetii, offering a tilted head and a translation for the word. “Or in Basic - Let’s hunt.”

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Darth Verrin    2,201

Verrin nodded when Isa told him she could pilot a ship. She did indeed have all the skills necessary to run this assignment.  He could make an argument that she could run it solo, if needed, given his input thus far. She was everything he looked for in a merc.  Why did she have to be Mandalorian? 


"... Because the reason she's this good is because she's a Mandalorian," he argued to himself. 


She was explaining how they might need to call in more aid, though she didn't want to. He agreed. 


"No... not if we don't have to. I understand your reasons for keeping things quiet, but my own feelings are that the more people involved, the more likely someone will either A) notice us, or B) say something to someone... perhaps involve media.  Generally speaking, I'm not well known in the galaxy at large - and I'd like to keep it that way. Being overt tends to make one a target. Frankly... I have better things to do with my time than dodge not only rival Sith, and Jedi who want me dead because I am what I am... but also the mercs, assassins, and bounty hunters who would collect.  Being well-known is a horrible time-sink."


They made it to the vehicle, and got in - Verrin squished slightly as he did so, and frowned. He hadn't thought to bring a change of clothes.


It was then she remarked, "Dar'jeti, you are… not the only one having their view of the galaxy challenged tonight."


She followed that with a pointed not of her helmet, which he returned in kind. They weren't in love with one another, but their mutual respect was growing.  


The ride to the spaceport was spent mostly in silence.  Verrin assumed Isa was thinking to herself, or maybe planning out a variety of scenarios on how to take control of the cargo ship. He found himself lost in thought too - though on far less pertinent matters. He thought back on loves he'd had - and loves lost - and how they made him feel. Those thoughts and emotions fueled his power in the Force, and he was grateful to Isa for reminding him they were there. He felt that he would be ready to stretch his power, should the need arise. 


The next thing he knew, the vehicle pulled up near the spaceport, and stopped to let them out Isa said, "Oya - or in Basic - Let’s hunt."


He nodded again.  "Right." He almost wished he had a nifty word for it too. Maybe she wouldn't mind if he used Oya at some point.


The spaceport was busy, as such places were, but they followed conventional means to find the dock # and location.  It was some distance away still, and they had to hop a tram to get to that wing of the spaceport. Again, the ride was silent, with both of them focused on whether they were being watched, followed, or otherwise. So far, all was quiet.  Either the smuggler hadn't talked to anyone, or if he had, the Hutts hadn't sent anybody yet. 


... Or, they had, and were already here.


They got off the tram, and it pulled away, leaving them alone in a long hall to the docking bay.  It was a wide, tall hall - mostly dark, with sporadic, dim lighting that flickered here and there. What light there was cast long, dark shadows that could be hiding anyone, or anything. Verrin paused and grabbed Isa's armor-clad arm before they'd gone forty paces. It was like trying to stop a truck in motion.


"There's something ahead," he said quietly, sensing trouble in the Force. 


He couldn't see them, but some of the Hutt's men were present.  It would have been almost impossible to tell if they'd been sent to stop Verrin and Isa, or if they were simply posted here to guard the shipment until it could be moved.  The smell of wet kath hound was in the air though, and by the muffled chatter from far up ahead, there were more than two guards.



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Isa Sal    12

Interesting. So he didn’t want the attention that a big ruckus would bring, or the recognition. He had introduced himself as Lord Verrin, a name she hadn’t recognised. But now it seemed that anonymity was not, in fact, because he had yet to claw his way to a position of note, but rather because he was intent on remaining an unknown. Her respect for him went up a couple of notches at that.


The rest of their journey went on in relative silence, with Isa considering their options as they came closer to the docking bay. Shab, she wished this whole thing was less reliant on luck and their ability to fly by the seat of their pants. She had a sickening feeling they weren’t going to be able to keep it up much longer. As it was, she resorted to playing back the footage of their reluctant informant as they walked, trying to gather as many details as she could from her cams and comms embedded in her helmet. In all, there wasn’t much there to work with.


The dar’jetii’s hand snaked out, grasping her arm and drawing her to a halt.


“There’s something ahead,” there was a warning in his quiet tone.


Isa tilted her head, using her HUD’s scanners to try to pinpoint what was around the corner. She could tell there were humanoids and Kath hounds both, and she let out a slow breath. That was never a good sign.


“Alright… We don’t know if they know anything yet, let’s try to string this out. If it goes bad, then at least we gave it a shot. Here’s hoping we don’t have just enough rope to hang ourselves with,” Isa said slowly, keeping her voice low. She considered for a moment, then gave a short nod. “Story. We’re the next step in line for this shipment. It’s yours, bought and paid for, and we’re here to pick it up. Early, because we don’t fully trust Dilla not to doublecross us. That way, if we’re a step behind, we get to start shouting about how we were right all along. Let’s keep you in the background as much as we can for now, I’d rather they not start making connections yet. I’m not exactly subtle,” she said, gesturing to her armour. “But you’re harder to pinpoint. Congratulations, you’ve just hired yourself an impatient Mandalorian with an attitude,” she hesitated a moment, inclining her head. “More than usual, I mean.”


It was a thin story at the best of times, but they had little time and a simple story was hard to mess up. She had no doubt the Sith was capable of holding his own, or playing practically any role that he wanted. But neither of them had worked together before, and so they couldn’t read each other well enough to try a more complicated game.


“If they start shooting…” Isa shook her head. “I hope you can hold your own in a fight. Try to stay behind me as much as you can - my armour can take a blaster bolt, provided they don’t get lucky and hit a gap. I’m guessing you can do osik I can’t even begin to imagine, but if you’re wanting to stay unremembered, let me take most of the hits and do what damage you can without drawing attention to yourself. But I'll need you at my back, keeping them from just sticking a shiv in my throat. That's probably what will happen if this goes wrong, and I'll never see it in time. I'm the shield, but you're going to have to do most of the actual work if we want to survive this.”


It was loose advice and likely unneeded, but all she could give. If he wasn't at her back, helping in his own way, Isa had little doubt that a fight like this would end up fatal. With that, Isa sighed and shook her head. Shab this is a stupid, stupid plan. Here goes.”


She turned the corner, her stride confident and controlled. She didn’t even turn her head to look down at the Kath hounds, instead striding right up to one of the guards. There were five in total, not including the two kath hounds, and she’d chosen one of the ones not handling a hound. Not good numbers if this all went wrong.


“Move, aruetii,” she spoke, the words hard and cold, betraying nothing of the unease that was swimming in her stomach.


Apparently the approach had startled them, or at least thrown them enough off balance that Isa hadn’t earned a blaster bolt to the gut yet. Good news, so far.


“Who are you? Move-”


“We’re here for the cargo, chakaar,” Isa said, holding up the piece of flimsi she’d gotten from Lars. She flashed it to the guard before replacing it in her belt. “Dilla has the accounts of it. We’re here to make sure none of it gets… misplaced. Again. So we’re taking it now. Move.”


But the guard shifted his weight, blocking her forward progress even as one of the Kath hounds snarled at her feet.


“Who gave passed the word to you? And how?”


“Dilla sent Lars, we just got the news early,” Isa answered, allowing an edge of irritation to coat her words like poison on a blade. Exactly as she would if this was a real drop, and they were actually meant to be here. “We shook him down in an alley, grabbed it and ran,” now sarcasm was practically dripping from her voice, and she saw more than one of the guards bristle in response. “How do you think, di’kut? By te Manda, if you mistrust your people that bad, hire new ones. How in haran would we have the entry code if we’d just decided to show up. I know that braincell of yours is lonely but try to at least give it some exercise.”


“That’s it? No last name, no other-”


“How stupid do you think your counterparts are?” Isa drawled. “If you’ve been giving out your full name and secret codes besides, then you’re an even bigger di’kut than you look.”


The man’s eyes narrowed.


“What’s that?”


“A di’kut?” Isa asked. “It means someone who forgets their pants. I’m sure even you can piece together the implication.”


She had no idea how the rest of this conversation was going to go. She just hoped the dar’jetii was ready to move should it be needed.

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Darth Verrin    2,201

"Shab this is a stupid, stupid plan. Here goes. "


The words that followed the plan didn't give Verrin any confidence in it. The gist was simple enough, walk in and claim they were there on purpose, and it was theirs to take. Smart guards wouldn't fall for that, but weak-willed ones might. A little nudge from the Force might help them convince the guards who wavered, but if they thought for even a minute that their standing orders were being violated, then all the convincing in the world wouldn't help. Maybe, if they found a leader, Verrin could bend the man's mind to his will. But until any of that was established - if they even had a leader - then all of that idea was moot.


The rest of the 'plan' involved a cocky Mandalorian in the lead, and Verrin holding back.  Was he to be her employer?  Her words sounded like it, but he was hardly dressed for such a role. Sure, he could keep her from getting a shiv in the back, and he was okay with the idea of her taking the brunt of any fire. But the more things escalated, the greater the chance that they'd be found out. It was no mystery that the Sith and Jedi were on this planet, but as far as Verrin knew, the goal was to acquire this shipment without the Jedi knowing about it. They were working together, but they were far from being open-and-loving friends.


So lightsabers being used to deflect blasters was a no-no.  Force powers... had to be subtle with those.


Isa started to move, and Verrin went to put his hands in his pockets. He didn't know what else to do with them, but he was wearing his gauntlets, and that made such a motion impossible. He ended up shrugging, and then walking behind her as she blatantly, and boldly strode up the middle of the corridor and drew eyes from the guards. 


Fortunately, there were only five - and their two hounds. That wasn't a lot, though he suspected there were more somewhere nearby. Best to keep fairly quiet and...


"Move, aruetii," Isa ordered, acting like she placed the guards here herself.


They didn't buckle though, and stood their ground instead. A back-and-forth ensued, with Isa coming up with fairly intelligent reasons for their actions, while the guards fired back with mistrust. It seemed like they wanted to believe her, but also that this was not what they expected. There was a little bit more, as names were called into question, and other names were called - something about not wearing pants. It felt like the guards might be bored, and were more interested in keeping them detained for entertainment, rather than stepping aside to let them through.  Even the hounds seemed eager to play their parts.


Verrin spoke up, but didn't step out from behind Isa to do so.  "What's your name then?  First and last, please."


The guard started to answer, getting out a syllable before shutting himself up. He didn't want to be a di'kut. "Very funny. Fine.  Let me call this in and we can all get out of here."


Verrin rolled his eyes. "You don't need to call it in.  Just go report that the shipment was picked up.  Sheesh - you want to get paid, don't you?"


Credits were important, weren't they?


The one guard agreed, and waved them on.  But as soon as they started walking, two of the other guards approached the first, and began to argue.  Verrin and Isa could both hear the others chastising the one who wasn't calling this in for verification, and one of them even reached out to grab the communicator from him.  There was a brief argument, followed by a shout.  The communicator wasn't working, and it cracked as it hit the pavement after being thrown down.  That upset the hounds, who barked a few times in rapid succession, first at the noise, and then at the two unknowns who had walked past them towards the ship.  Verrin grimaced. 


"Missed it by that much," he said to Isa.  "Fight or flight?"


The sound of the hounds running came to his ears.  They weren't going to outrun kath hounds.  Well - he might with the Force, but he wasn't so sure about Isa. Nor would they outrun blasters, if the guards used them. He tried hard not to look back at the others.  The Force told him where people were, and how quickly the hounds would be upon them. 

Edited by Darth Verrin
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Isa Sal    12

"Fight or flight?"


Isa sighed, mentally cursing the whole day. In truth she hadn’t expected that to go as smoothly as it had, but she’d been hoping for a streak of really shabla good luck. Seemed the galaxy was determined to let her down on that count yet again. At least the comm was out of the picture, meaning any reinforcements would have to be fetched by one of the five here.


Isa glanced up in her helmet’s HUD, taking in the positioning of the five guards and the two hounds that were sprinting at them, picking out which man to take first. The two hounds were gaining ground quickly, and Isa took a slow breath, steadying her heartbeat.


“Fight,” she answered tersely, though he was no doubt aware that flight was no longer an option. Not with two kath hounds bearing down on them. “Well, it was worth a try,” she said wryly, tilting her head at the dar’jetii. “Try not to get shot.”


She flicked a glance back up to the view in her HUD, checking one last time before she moved. She ignored the hounds coming at them, though every instinct screamed at her to focus on the nearest threat. But nearest didn't mean greatest, and neither of the hounds would be able to fetch backup that could quickly turn a bad situation into an even worse one. So she spun on her heel suddenly, focusing on the guard furthest down the hall. She slid a knife from her right gauntlet as she spun, launching it towards the guard she’d already chosen the moment before. Her HUD offered her the advantage that she didn’t need the extra seconds to choose a target and aim, allowing her just a breath of extra time.


Her motion didn’t go unobserved and the men staggered apart, already yelling. The first fell as her blade sunk just below his collarbone, his shout turning to a cry of pain. Her hands were still moving, drawing both pistols clear of their holsters as the man scrambled to his feet and the others took up positions. Surprise had erased any ideas except to fight back, but Isa knew that wouldn’t last long - none of them were amateurs if their reaction times were anything to go by, and they would recover quickly enough.


She had no more time to consider the situation further as the hounds covered the distance, the first lunging straight for her. She had no time to see where the second went and could only hope the guards took a bit longer to regroup. As it was, Isa could only turn her shoulder to the creature, taking the blow with her armour. She could hear the creature’s teeth scrape over painted metal even as she was slammed to the ground by the hound’s bodyweight. Pain sliced through opposite shoulder as she landed, the blow jarring her grip and nearly causing her to lose her hold on the pistol in that hand. It was all she could do to keep her grip on the weapon, bracing the animal with one arm and fighting to keep the creature from lunging at her throat.


Isa lashed out with one armoured fist and felt it strike flesh, but it did little to dissuade the kath hound, earning only a snarl of pain and a renewed effort to find a gap in her armour. Its weight slammed forward again and Isa's arm buckled as she let out a hiss of pain, the kath hound forcing its way forward. Isa felt teeth edge around the corner of her neckplate and threw her weight sideways in time to avoid the hound’s sudden lunge. The hound’s weight shifted and Isa took advantage of the opportunity, slamming her gauntleted fist forward again with the heel of her palm leading, this time triggering the wristblade in her left gauntlet. She felt the blade pierce flesh and was met with a howl of mixed outrage and pain. But the hound lunged away from her, blood dripping from the wound in its side. Not a fatal blow, but enough to allow Isa to roll back to her feet, firing in the direction of the group of guards as she regained her footing.


Most of the shots went wide as she didn’t take the time to aim properly, but it was enough to discourage any brave soul from trying to make a dash for reinforcements. For now that was all she wanted. The rest could come once she and the dar’jetii weren’t straight out in the open, practically inviting the men to shoot them down.


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Darth Verrin    2,201

It appeared that flight was certainly not an option, though Verrin couldn't see how it would be. His armored compatriot paused, turned towards the oncoming hounds, and made a suggestion, "Try not to get shot."


Verrin wryly replied, "It's good to have goals."


They only had a few seconds as the Kath beasts closed, but apparently that's all a true Mandalorian needed. Isa started moving obliquely to one side, and one of her armored gauntlets shot up and towards a target that had to be the farthest one away. Verrin had a chance to blink in surprise as a small blade shot out at high speed and impacted the target flawlessly. Without stopping to see if the missile landed, the armored figure continued to move, now back to the other side. But the while the rest of the guards organized for combat, the hounds were already there - the lead one launching itself at the Mandalorian like the hunter it was.  It slammed into her so hard that even with all the armor, the two toppled to the ground in a frenzy of fists and fangs.


Verrin wasn't standing silently watching the whole time though. The reason the big dog hit Isa first wasn't because she was ahead of him.  It was because she was the only one in sight.  Verrin had simply disappeared. But when the second hound came to a halt, barking and trying to find a way to get in and bite alongside its brother, It suddenly jerked and spasmed as a long gash appeared across its throat, and a dark figure appeared beside it. It was surprised, but not defenseless, and it turned to snap at the focus of its pain.  But its jaws clapped shut on nothing at all.


It's wide eyes searched the area, its nostrils flared but all it could smell was blood. It went to growl, but the only sound that came forth was a wet gurgle that didn't amount to much at all. And then its eyes went milky, and it simply collapsed on the massive pool of ever-spreading blood that was gushing from its neck. 


Verrin spared a glance at Isa, who had been pinned beneath the big hound.  Just now, she got the thing off her, and came up firing down the hall at the guards - a suppressive tactic, but an effective one that caused them to miss their own targets as the heat of battle swung their way. The only problem was, that he was in her line of fire.


He hadn't intended to be - it just so happened that his altercation with the hound put him there. And when he drew the Force about him again to become invisible to its dying senses, he didn't appear on her radar - figuratively, or literally. One of her shots hit him square in the left shoulder. The reinforced leathers took the brunt of the damage, but wouldn't hold up to another hit.  And it stung.  It had been a while since he'd been in a real firefight.  He didn't miss it.


"I thought I'd get a kiss, not foreplay," he commented, calling back to their earlier conversation at the cantina. "So much for my goals."


But he didn't stand still to receive another love tap. He launched himself off to one side, out of her wild fire, and threw his dagger at the wounded Kath hound. A little Force guidance helped it find its target - one eye, and thereby, the brain. The short-circuit of its limited mental faculties, and the accumulated damage from the tussle with Isa dropped it, and a little more telekinetic power brought the dripping blade back to Verrin's gauntleted hand.


He rolled out of the middle of the main corridor, behind some nearby crates, and checked his shoulder.  It hurt, as expected, but it was intact.  He was reminded of having to quickly shed some armor when he took a slug that super-heated on impact, burning through towards his more tender flesh. Isa didn't appear to be using any fancy rounds or flechettes.  Those frackers would have ripped through his shoulder, practically tearing it off.  Small blessings.


He wasn't bitter with her though - he'd unintentionally been in the wrong place.  She hadn't been trying to hit him... he didn't think.  Besides... the pain would fuel him... right?


He rolled onto one elbow,, and shot a glance around the crate, but quickly ducked back when one of the guard's shots glanced off of it.  Instead, he looked back out to see where Isa had wound up.


Forces power used: Force Camoflage, Telekinesis

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Isa Sal    12

The sharp crack of her shots was expected as they impacted duracrete and metal, rather than flesh and blood. She hadn’t been aiming for anything but distraction, but the hiss of a struck bolt sounded wrong - too close, and an impact that should not have occurred. There was nothing there -


"I thought I'd get a kiss, not foreplay," came the comment above the ever increasing amount of blasterbolts being flung down the hall. "So much for my goals."


It was only years of training that kept Isa from jumping out of her skin at the voice that echoed from nowhere. As it was her pistol jerked slightly in surprise, reflex turning it towards the voice emanating from the emptiness of the hall between herself and the thugs. Isa hissed in irritation and surprise, forcing herself to turn her mind back to the enemies who were determinedly trying to drop… well… just her, since the dar’jetii was nowhere in sight. So it hadn’t been a trick of the light back in the alley.




The Kath hound who had tried to make a meal out of her dropped, followed by the flash of metal dripping blood that quickly disappeared back into nothingness.


Shabla dar’jetii, Isa thought, shoving aside the unease that the whole situation threatened to leave in her bones. She could have a proper mental breakdown later, when no one was trying to shoot her. Instead she made a mental note to keep the slugthrower strapped to her thigh out of the fight - that would rip through armour and wouldn’t be stopped by a lightsaber’s blade, turning to molten metal instead and inflicting just as much damage. Best not to accidentally hit her companion with that. As it was, she spun herself back behind one of the hall’s support struts, taking a moment to draw a breath through her clenched teeth and settle her heartbeat. Pistols weren’t exactly ideal long-range weapons, and even the simple factor of a racing heartbeat could be enough to throw her aim off. Isa let another slow breath through her lips, considering their options even as she checked the shots still left in each of her pistols. No need to reload just yet.


They simply didn’t know how to fight with one another. No training, no personal knowledge, no professional associations. They were blank slates to one another, already tripping over one another because they simply didn’t know enough. To work as a team they needed time and knowledge they didn’t have. So it would be better to end this fight quickly.


Isa let out a wry chuckle, shaking her helmeted head slightly as the plan took shape. Today was apparently a day for stupid ideas and desperate hopes for luck and bad aim from the opposition. But it was better than nothing. She could feel adrenaline surging, that rush of knowledge and power that every fight brought - a knife’s edge, just as deadly to herself as it was to her opponents. But it was there, and it was hers. Time for this to end.


“Oya, dar’jetii, Isa called, a savage grin carrying in her voice. As much to throw the opponents off balance as it was a hope the Sith would be ready.


Isa adjusted her grip on her pistols, took one last breath, and spun around the corner firing. Her HUD assisted in picking targets, and Isa began to move forward, pistols spitting fire. The first to fall was the man her blade had struck before. Two shots to the chest, one from each pistol, and he fell, dead before he hit the ground. The others turned all their attention on her, some shots going wild, but more than a few slamming into the armour plating of her beskar’gam.


Isa kept up a continuous stream of fire, hounding their cover and making it all the more dangerous for them to dodge out and try to take her down. Her HUD offered assistance, allowing her to take carefully aimed shots to discourage them all from jumping out at once. She kept moving, cautious not to stay in a straight line, making their job all the harder. The gaps in her armour were hard to hit on the best days, but movement and panic made it all the trickier.


A shot staggered her, and the man who fired stepped out of cover to press the assault. He ended up with a blade in his throat, this one drawn from the sheath hidden in the calf plate of her armour. The three left continued to fire with a reasonable amount of successful hits, though panic was starting to throw some shots wide. It was amazing what a person moving continuously forward despite taking fire did to morale, though Isa knew at the end of all this she was going to feel like she’d been run over by a herd of banthas. But it was an opening for the dar’jetii, and she hoped that would be enough, and that he would move soon. It had only been a few seconds since she had started forward, but her luck wouldn’t last forever. As it was her chest throbbed in pain and her shoulder was starting to feel like she’d dipped it in lava, and it wasn’t going to get better. Adrenaline was likely masking other injuries, and she was certain she was going to regret all of this. Sooner or later someone was going to land a decent shot.

Edited by Isa Sal
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Darth Verrin    2,201

His armored companion was braced behind a structural support, checking her pistols.  She seemed okay, overall, so he didn't panic. Still - blaster bolts whizzed down the corridor and past them, some impacting the support she stood behind, some the crates he was behind. It was suppressive fire, and it was working, pinning them down.


They knew where he was - sort of.  The trick to fighting while cloaked was to constantly strike, and then re-cloak oneself. There was something about the expulsion of kinetic energy that disrupted the Force enough to make an invisible assailant visible for a moment.  For some reason, it also affected those using artificial cloaking devices - Verrin never understood why. He always thought that the way to fiscal independence was to invent a cloaking device that didn't falter under kinetic conditions - but perhaps that technology was too dangerous to allow out into the galaxy.


Whatever the case, the fact was that when he struck the hound, he appeared for a second or two, before disappearing again. And the same flicker of energy occurred when he dove for cover - he must've taken another hit or something while in motion. But now he was hidden once more, and the shots that came his way were circumstantial - not targeted. As he'd already surmised - suppressive.


Just then though, Isa called out, " Oya, dar’jetii ".  And now he knew what the words meant.


She stepped around the support and began walking towards the enemy, firing both blasters repeatedly. In a way, she was laying down suppressive fire in return, but with her armor's HUD she was probably going to hit more frequently than the enemy. The call had been one of alert, but also one of warning.  He could only imagine what would have happened had he been standing between her and them when all that blaster fire started.


He took the words to heart though, and was ready to do his part. Still invisible, he got up and dashed around his cover, staying closer to the walls as he covered the distance very quickly.  Isa was drawing their fire towards her, which meant he was free to run, and he did. He closed with the first guard he came too, and simply stepped behind him, then brought his wicked-looking knife around and across his throat.  He didn't expect it, didn't have time to react to it, and went down spurting a fan of blood from his neck without releasing another shot.


But for that strike, Verrin was visible.  As that guard fell, one of the others further along Verrin's path saw the rapid exchange, and redirected his fire towards the new source.  But Verrin was already fading from sight, and he spun the falling guard around to be between him and the incoming blaster bolts.  The firing enemy holed his companion three times before the incidental victim hit the ground, convulsing in shock.  The attacker's eyes went wide as he realized he'd shot his friend up, and the dark figure was gone again.  He could be anywhere...


The guard yelled in alarm and fired a spray of shots over the general area where Verrin had been, but they all missed, impacting with crates or walls.  That left him alone with this dark spectre, for his remaining ally was still focused on the juggernaut that was simply striding purposefully towards them. Unfortunately that ally wasn't prepared to deal with being shoved violently from the wall. Why would he be?  There was no space between him and the it!


Verrin became visible as he fell flat on the ground - halfway between Isa an the two remaining guards. Using the Force, he telekinetically grabbed the guard who was firing at Isa and launched him at his fellow. The impact could have been spectacular; Verrin was powerful enough to have them hit so hard that they would have felt like they'd been in a speeder accident, and killed. But he pulled his punch, so to speak, so that they merely collided and fell, off-balance.  It left Isa to finish the job of putting them down with blaster fire - if she was so inclined.  Verrin had no intention of having some crime scene investigator identify a Sith's hand in this engagement - it was all knives and blasters, as they'd left evidence so far. 


Though he sensed her in the Force, and heard her blaster shots, Verrin shot a glance behind him to see where Isa was. If she'd been wounded, then he still needed to act to finish the guards. Fortunately, only a small part of him wondered if she was training her shots on him instead - maybe collecting a bounty, or fulfilling some prior order that @Darth Sanguira had given her. It probably wasn't the case, but with Sith... one was never quite certain.



Force powers used: Force Cloak, Telekinesis.

Edited by Darth Verrin
sloppy descriptives - sorry about that!
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Isa Sal    12

The dar’jetii appeared in front of her once more, falling into view even as he fell flat on the floor between her and the last two guards. Isa hissed in surprise, uttering a few choice words for good measure, immediately diverting her shots to the side to avoid striking him. In the end it didn’t matter - one of the guards suddenly slammed into the one beside him, both being flung off their feet. The dar’jetii’s work no doubt. That or gravity had decided to stop working in that one particular spot. Isa flipped a switch on her pistols without hesitating, one shot slamming into each of them with the tell-tale crackle of a stun bolt. Neither one stirred and Isa sighed, shaking her head. This day….


Isa halted her shots, slowing to a casual pace and tilting her helmeted head at the dar’jetii who was still on the ground.


“Next time we’re going to have to get you a bell or something,” she quipped, a small smile pulling at her features.


The dar’jetii had accomplished exactly what Isa had been hoping for, downing the rest of their attackers before any of them managed to land a lucky shot. Her armour sported a few new nicks in the paint, and a rather impressive scorch mark along her right shoulder piece that left her joint aching beneath the armour plating. Still, she figured it was a small price to pay in the end. She rolled her shoulder gingerly, wincing at the ache but acknowledging it wasn’t hurt any worse. And her HUD wasn’t informing her of any fluctuations in her life signs, or any indications she ought to be worried. She would be sore, but that seemed to be all she would be from this little misadventure.


Isa’s pace had slowed to a more casual rate as she reloaded each of her pistols before holstering them. She crossed to the two downed guards, aiming her gauntlet and releasing a dart into each man’s neck. She waited a moment, allowing the darts to do their work before kneeling and removing the devices, sliding them into one of the pockets on her belt.


“Hallucinogen,” she explained to the dar’jetii without turning around. There was only a small part of her tempted to look up to her HUD to see if she was about to get a blade in the spine. He was a Sith, after all, and a few hours of working together didn’t erase a lifetime of mistrust. “If they remember a disappearing and reappearing figure, it will be far from the strangest thing they recall. No one will be able to tell what was real and what was the drug.”  


She rose to her feet in one smooth movement, turning on her heel and starting down the hall once more. Her HUD wasn’t showing any further signs of guards, but she wasn’t willing to trust that to last longer than a few minutes. She kept her left hand on the butt of her pistol as she crossed to the dock where the cargo they were after was being stored. It was a few doors down, and Isa kept her guard up as she continued to make her way forward. It would simply be bad form to get shot in the back after surviving the first group of guards. She didn’t want to have to tell that story at any point.


Isa reached the door at long last, turning slightly to see if the dar’jetii had followed.


“You want to do the honours?” she asked, indicating the closed door with a tilt of her helmeted head.

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