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Thread: Corellia: Quid Pro Quo

  1. #1
    Delgado Xaanan
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    Closed Corellia: Quid Pro Quo

    Delgado stared out of the panoramic window of his penthouse apartment, a grim expression on his face as he regarded the dark scar that carved through Coronet's skyline. He would not have been able to see it from the administrative buildings: that was why he had requested to have his offices and accommodations moved here, to serve as a constant reminder of why Corellia was so deserving of his undivided attention.

    It was a shrewd move by the Resistance. Coronet was a vast city, but they had chosen their target well. They had struck during a parade to celebrate and demonstrate the might of the Empire: a parade that the Empire had demanded as many citizens as possible attend, leaving the warehouse district into which the Star Destroyer had impacted largely empty of it's organic inhabitants. For an attack that had crushed more than a square mile of the city, civilian casualties were remarkably low; even the jobs of the working class were largely protected, the Empire redeploying it's labour force to help with the recovery efforts. There was some unrest about the inconvenience of it all, but for the most part an already disgruntled working class found it all too easy to approve.

    The real blow was what had lain beyond the industrial district: residential areas for Imperial officers, slowly bleeding into the more luxurious residences of Corellia's social elite. Most of those homes had been vacant too, their residents involved in the parade itself; but the blow there was personal, an attack at the heart and resolve of the Imperial forces; and at the same time, it jabbed at the wealthy upper class who the masses blamed for the Empire's presence in the first place, accusing them of capitulation and for profiting selfishly from the misfortune of the working man. There had been more casualties in the residential areas than elsewhere, and not all of them were welcomed: Delgado doubted that the death of Jacob Tur'enne and his wife, two universally popular figures in Corellian society, had been intentional; yet even that worked in the favour of the Resistance, eliminating a popular figure expected to run for political office, whose views were moderate enough to help shift public opinion in favour of the Empire. The other gains though - weakening the wealthy's faith in the Empire's ability to protect them, diminishing their resolve to side with the Empire over the objections of lower class - seemed to be worth the price that the Resistance had forced Corellia and the Empire to pay.

    A subtle chime in Delgado's ear alerted him to an incoming comlink. "Go ahead," he spoke as he tapped at his headset.

    "The Knights are here, sir," reported the voice of one of his security detail.

    Delgado's mouth drew into a thin line. He had sent a request to the Minister of the Interior for more resources in helping to root out the Resistance. Since the initial attack they had continued to disrupt Imperial operations: ambushing salvage teams, sabotaging communications, stealing supplies, and generally causing chaos. Each individual event had minimal impact, yet in combination they kept the Empire constantly off-balance, and kept the public constantly aware that they were present, and active. Delgado had hoped that the Minister would deploy a task force from the Security Bureau: expert investigators to bolster CorSec's efforts to identify the terrorists responsible for these attacks; strike teams specially trained for raids against the kind of safehouses and strongholds the Resistance no doubt had.

    Instead, the Minister had sent him Imperial Knights. Not a battalion of them. Not a task force. Two.

    Whether more resources would follow remained to be seen, but the entire situation made Delgado deeply uncomfortable. He had an inherent distrust of the Knights, and of Force users in general. The Minister had not been forthcoming about the identities of these Knights, so the Moff was unaware of their backgrounds; whether they had been Inquisitors before the Treaty, or otherwise. Either way, Delgado distrusted anything that possessed an advantage that he could neither match nor guard himself against: dealing with anyone who had mind tricks and a lightsaber at their disposal was not a situation to be entered lightly.

    "Very well, Sergeant, send them in. And have Lieutenant Ixxent prepare my shuttle: I'm sure this won't take long."

  2. #2
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    The doors to Delgado's office parted, revealing a scar-faced human and a towering Selonian. They passed the threshold, each surveying their surroundings as if looking to buy it. The Selonian winded the air, and only then triangulated her attention on the form of Moff Xanaan, as if she'd smelled something disagreeable to her.

    "You requested us, Governor."

    The Selonian's coarse voice trailed into a growl in her chest. Pleasantries irritated her, and she preferred to speak directly to the matter at hand. If the Moff had captured any Rebel scum or gleaned any useful intelligence that would signify a starting point, she was eager to have it.

  3. #3
    Delgado Xaanan
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    A Selonian. That's great. Just great.

    As per usual, it seemed that the Empire had resorted to it's usual tactic: no matter what you are doing, make sure you do it in the most terrifying way possible. A towering and predatory non-human, and a scarred woman who had stepped right out of a horror holo. Delgado had requested resources to resolve his problem, to think it through, to weed out the problem parties and diffuse an already volatile situation before it became worse. The Empire's response was to send two intimidating, battle-scarred boots to come and stomp across everything. Because of course: what better way to stop a rebellion by engaging in more of the brutal activity that inspired your dissidents to rebel in the first place?

    That was perhaps the most truly unsettling part of the Corellian Resistance. Since the Battle of Endor, and perhaps even since all the way back at Yavin, the way the Empire perceived the Rebel Alliance had slowly changed. Before they had been scattered cells, barely organised, no more of a threat than the average pirate band. After Yavin though, they'd become organised. They'd slowly evolved from dissident movement to a full fledged enemy. First it had been enemy bases. Then it had been enemy fleets. Soon, there were enemy worlds, and entire enemy sectors. Eventually, that enemy had evolved to the point where it had become the Empire's equal: but before it became an equal in terms of political standing and legitimacy, it had first become an equal in ruthless determination. The Starkiller weapons had proven that the Rebel Alliance was willing to resort to weapons of mass destruction to achieve it's ends, and that was when the Empire had paused, and considered it's situation. That was when the Empire began to wonder: just how far are the rebels really willing to go?

    And so, the Treaty. The Empire had struck a deal, to stop the Alliance in their tracks before they took that final step; before they began to create Tarkins and Vaders of their own. Foolishly, they'd allowed themselves to consider their enemy "dealt with", or at least contained until the Empire was able to ready a decisive blow and wipe them out completely.

    Delgado knew better. He knew that rebellion was not something you could stamp out. Rebellion, he knew, is endothermic in nature. The more energy you put into crushing it, the hotter it becomes. And the Empire had not stopped pushing, not stopped provoking, not stopped pouring more and more energy into that endothermic process, and look what had happened. The Alliance was contained yes, but the Rebels were not. They had flocked to Corellia, rallied behind continued resistance to the force and the principles they had opposed. And because of that provocation, these Resistance fighters had taken the final step, resorting to the same Tarkin Doctrine terror tactics that the Empire resorted to so frequently. The Resistance was terrifying, because it was what an Imperial would have done. The fire of rebellion on Corellia burned in the shape of an Imperial wheel.

    So how did the Empire respond? The only way it knew how: trying to extinguish the flames with kerosene.

    "In a manner," Delgado conceded; if this was the answer to his request, then he had made the classic mistake of not being careful of what he wished for. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage: the communique from the Knight-General informed me that he would be sending forces to Corellia, but it didn't go so far as to mention any names."
    Last edited by Delgado Xaanan; Sep 22nd, 2015 at 02:44:20 AM.

  4. #4
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    "Now, now Vissica. That's no way to greet a Moff." Alexia chimed in as she took her place beside the giant weasel; having to play catch up with the Selonian's long strides. The two appeared as great opposites, foils, to the other. One was great and furry, the other small and petite. Vissica's straight to the point ruthless attitude against Alexia's suspiciously exaggerated seduction tones. Practically naked contrasted against the black robes and polished blue armor plates that were the identifying markings of the Imperial Knights. The only place they agreed was their attention to the mission and bloodthrist. At least, that was the way Alexia looked at it. She felt much more at home with Vissica than with Captain Tightpants Baastian or Miss Too Good for Everyone Else Iscandar.

    "Apologies Moff Xaanan. I am Knight Sturkov and this is Knight Vissica. The Knight-General has dispatched us to give you aid in this situation. We are yours to deploy as you see fit."

    All this bowing and scraping put a twist in her gut, but she did not let it show. She kept a straight face. Professional. Or as professional as one can appear when one is a woman with scars at the corners of her mouth and dark veins spiderwebbing through the almost translucent pale skin of her face. The Darkside corruption was perhaps easily identifying by those who were familiar with it's mark, but to other it appeared as battle scars. Alexia never made any show of hiding them. Never. They were there to remind her of what she had been, and how far she had come since.

  5. #5
    TheHolo.Net Poster

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    The velvet voice of her sister comrade broke Vissica's fixation upon Moff Xanaan for but a moment. The whiskers framing her face buoyed and then hung slack, a sign of the Selonian's irritation at Alexia's words of supplication. Lessons of tact from Baastian Cain floated to the surface of her mind. As the Selonian Knight returned her attention back to Delgado, she was thankful that if such irritating words must be used to break the ice, that the human was well equipped for the task. No matter Vissica's personal distaste for such social conventions, she had to remind herself that Moff Xanaan was the face of the Empress on this world. He represented an extension of her power, as subordinate to Tarkin's will as Queen Matatek.

    There was a feeling Vissica sensed from Moff Xanaan. Vague and nonspecific without a closer connection, Vissica had little else to draw upon, but the sense that their presence disappointed the Governor of Corellia was discernible.

    "Have there been any new leads in the investigation of the rebel attack?"

    Again, back to the heart of the matter. Vissica's thick tail slid across the floor, thumping softly as it changed direction.

  6. #6
    Delgado Xaanan
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    Opposites then. Sweet and sour. Yet it was a sickening, unsettling kind of sweet, and the bitter sour of bile at the back of your throat. Sturkov was like some soul-consuming seductress from stories, undeniably beautiful underneath it all and yet unsettling like one of those demonically painted porcelain dolls that were so inexplicably popular with young girls of a certain age and disposition. Vissica meanwhile seemed every inch the stereotype of a feral, animalistic non-human, barely managing to keep her wild nature and predatory instincts and urges in check long enough for more than a few sentences of conversation. These were the Knights that had been chosen to wade into this most precarious situation: the kind of situation that required a measured hand and a delicate touch, to be resolved with a judicial application of claws.

    "Which one?" Delgado countered, with a mirthless note of a chuckle, and a shrug. "After the Warspite, the Resistance hasn't stopped. Nothing so high profile, and only a handful of additional casualties, but enough to keep us in a constant state of having to respond to their latest action. Medical evacs for salvage teams ambushed in the wreckage. Traffic sabotage causing delays and disruptions to our supply convoys and patrol units. Fire suppression crews at minor storage depots so insignificant that the local garrison never even contemplated anything but basic security before now."

    The Moff shook his head and sighed. "We have leads. Too many leads. The Resistance is buzzing around us like gnats: they aren't inflicting harm, but all the people of Corellia can see is the Empire ineffectively flailing around, and growing increasingly frustrated."

    His gaze contemplated the two Knights once more: a pair of sledgehammers to help fend off an insect swarm. "That was why I was surprised to hear that they were sending Knights to assist us. Forgive me, but investigations such as this aren't the sort of thing your organisation has a reputation for."

  7. #7
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    Alexia's eyes narrowed, her loose posture tightening. "With all respect sir, Her Empress' Knights of the Sovereign Galactic Empire has a reputation for excellence. We are few, but we have achieved every goal set before us, overcome every obstacle. Corellia will be no different. If you have any issues you may take them up with the Knight-General himself." She raised her hands and gestured to the large hairy mammal beside her. "None in the Imperial Knights can match Knight Vissica's ferocity in combat. Strong, fast, dedicated. She is worth an entire platoon of Stormtroopers, and much more precise. We have only to find where the resistance are hiding, and she will destroy them. Like a Snarvil in a Weeven nest."

    Her attitude softened, returning back to the soft seduction from before. "In addition I not unfamiliar with this city, and I have some old contacts here that I am sure will benefit us. Additionally I would like to see any resistance fighters you have captured. I will manipulate their minds into telling us what we need to know. We are much more than hammers, Moff Xaanan. We are scalpels. The resistance is a disease and we will be the tools that cut free the cancerous tissue that plagues this planet." The knowing smile that appeared on her face when she said hammers revealing that she was picking up on Xaanan's thoughts. She would never dare to delve straight into the Moff's mind. That would be an offense worthy of execution, but surface thoughts and feelings were always hard to not pick up on.

    Ah, another set of opposites; the warrior and the sorceress.

  8. #8
    Delgado Xaanan
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    A small breath of laughter escaped the Moff's nose: not mocking the Knights, merely amused by the stereotypical answer they had provided. Not merely hammers, but other kinds of weapon as well. He wondered if the Knights realised how thoroughly they had missed his point.

    "Have you fought a rebellion, Miss Sturkov?" He held up a hand to forestall any false answer that she might naively think was correct. "I'm not talking about fighting rebels; I'm talking about a rebellion as a whole. A cause. An ideal."

    He turned, enough to indicate the city of Coronet beyond his window, and let his gaze settle upon it. "The Corellians are a stubborn, resilient people. They oppose us, because they see the Empire as ruthless, and brutal. And here you are, my supposed solution to that problem, boasting about your ruthlessness and brutality. We will not succeed if those are the only tools and tactics you are capable of bringing to bear. Every wound you inflict on the Resistance will flood the population with adrenaline, and all you will succeed in doing is rallying more and more to their cause. This is not an army you can conquer. This is not an infection that can be surgically removed. If we begin down that road, if your actions start us moving down that slippery slope, the only endgame will be the total destruction of Corellia... and if we do such a thing, opposition will spread, and the whole galaxy will begin to rally against us, all over again."

    He paused, considering his thoughts, contemplating a way of expressing his point that the Knights might stand a chance of comprehending. "They say that fear leads to anger, yes? And anger leads to hate, which is where practitioners of the dark side draw their power. It is the same for Corellia, and for rebellion. The more violently you make them afraid, the more powerful the Resistance will become."

    He shook his head, and turned away again.

    "If Corellia cannot be tamed, if we cannot win back the hearts and minds of it's people, then the Empire is lost. And that cannot be done with a hammer, or a scalpel, or an entire Legion of Stormtroopers."

  9. #9
    TheHolo.Net Poster

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    Vissica moved past the Moff, as if bidden to look at the vista by Xaanan's example. Her footfalls thumped with mass until she arrived at the window. The giantess crossed her arms over her armored chest plate and puffed a hot exhaled breath from her nose.

    "A Knight of the Empress is armed with more than the means of violence, Governor. We also carry the Truth."

    Her flexible spine pivoted to allow her to turn back enough to see the Moff without compromising her squared stance forward.

    "Rebellions work because people believe in heroes. Heroes are larger than we are. They can do the impossible, and make others believe they can too."

    The Selonian's tongue raked over her muzzle in a pass, punctuating her observation and transitioning to the reality that Xanaan's despair had missed.

    "I do not believe in Heroes. I believe in people. And the Truth is that people are filled with hidden crimes, lies, and betrayals."

    Vissica closed the distance, standing close enough to Xanaan for her rank breath to unsettle his sensibility.

    "I will kill your Heroes. I don't need a lightsaber to do this. I will show Corellia who they truly are."

    The Selonian glanced to her comrade momentarily before returning her severe expression to the Moff.

    "We only need to find them."

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    "And while I've never fought against a rebellion, I lead one once. Right here in the streets of Coronet. In the dark and in the shadows, I bred not contempt for the Empire, but a love for things dark and sinister. A cult of the Sith. That was a different life, before the Empire showed me the Truth. I know how it works; how to manipulate people into a cause and then trap them there. I also know too well how the removal of an icon can destroy that cause. It's easy to be brave and fight the good fight when you are seemingly winning, when you feel you've given danger the slip. That will change when their comrades, their friends, hell their family members and loved ones, start coming home in body bags. Their names showing up on casualty lists on the holonet. They will lose that bravery; rethink their options.

    Yes, there are those who will be emboldened by persecution. The martyrs. Extremists that feed on the power this insurrection gives them. I agree we cannot kick down every door and carve a bloody streak through the city, but when we do it will be a sign of power and control, and it will raise the moral of our loyal citizens. They will watch the holonet and see that Imperial Knights are walking their streets, keeping them safe. They will see brutal resistance fighters thrown in prison, tried, and executed. They will see results. We will spread the Truth."

  11. #11
    Delgado Xaanan
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    "Truth."

    Delgado hadn't intended to echo that word aloud, but there it was, a faint breath of disbelief escaping his nose as he contemplated how absurd he was to hear such a notion associated with the Empire.

    "There's a fable here on Corellia," he countered, "About a young nerf herder, tending to a flock up in the mountains. One night he grew lonely, and so he ran to the village, screaming and shouting that a kath hound was harassing his herd. The men of the village grabbed their guns and ran to the hills; when they arrived, the nerf herder told them that he had scared the kath hound away, and the village celebrated his courage and bravery. But one night of attention was not enough for the herder; a few weeks later he attempted the same ruse, again and again, until the villagers grew tired of his deception, and began to ignore his false cries for aid."

    Delgado split his gaze between the two Knights, his hands clasping behind his back as if he were delivering some sort of lesson to a graduating class of cadets. "Eventually, a kath hound really did appear, but when the nerf herder called for help, no one believed him. He had lied for so long that when he finally spoke the Truth, his credibility was too tarnished to carry any weight. His flock was killed, and his village starved."

    A frown tugged at his brow, a sigh escaping.

    "The Empire has used lies and propaganda for far too long, and the people of the galaxy no longer believe us; and they no longer believe in us." He waved an arm, gesturing out of the window behind him. "There is an Alliance out there: the product of a rebellion that we spent two decades insisting was doomed to fail, that would never amount to anything. We destroyed a planet; obliterated countless more from orbit; enslaved and subjugated whole populations; and all it did was make the rebellion stronger - all that amid our insistence that their cause was hopeless. Now? Now we are not the only government in the galaxy. Now their is proof that surrendering to us is not the only way to survive and succeed. For Corellia, a world that embraces the most desperate of chances, that laughs in the face of even the most dire odds, the old tactics will no longer work. The Tarkin Doctrine will not succeed here."

    He shook his head, turning away from the Knights, pacing his way towards the window to look out once more at the panorama of Coronet. He closed his eyes for a moment, imagined that he could feel the unrest broiling away beneath him like the waves of a restless sea amongst the buildings. All that resentment, all that aversion, all that hate and distrust of the Empire, about to be made worse by unleashing sharks into the water, and allowing them to tarnish it's surface with billowing clouds of crimson.

    "Defeating the rebels is easy," he mused, the fingers of a hand gently reaching out to press against the glass. "But every rebel death, every act of brutality, will discredit us and reinforce them. If we resort to the same old tactics, the Resistance's truth will seem far more credible than yours, and we will fuel the very fire we hope to extinguish. If we start down that path, the total destruction or full subjugation of Corellia - a beacon of freedom for humanity - will be our only recourse, and such an act will surely strengthen our enemies to such an extent that an Imperial victory will be impossible."

    He turned back, fixing the Knights with a small smile.

    "Simply put, victory over the Resistance will be meaningless if we do not also win back the hearts and minds of Corellia's people. I don't care how ruthless and effective you think you are as predators and killers. I don't need you here giving the Corellians a reason to feel afraid: I need you giving them a reason to feel safer with the Empire than they would be without it."

  12. #12
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    There was a note of truth in the Moff's protests, and Vissica's chest rumbled as she listened to his words, drawing a webbed paw up to her chin to run a thumb along it's fur. They both detested the lies and deceptions put into place by the Empire. It had been the single greatest challenge to her service in the Imperial Knights; how to deal with a culture that was prepared to use duplicity so freely. She had managed to accord herself honorably, and when given no recourse, had conscientiously objected to such actions when presented to her. Better to not speak at all than to utter a lie.

    Still, he was just a human, and not only that, but a political human. She could only hope that he had the integrity his droning parables offered.

    "I accept your challenge. I will be merciful."

    It was a challenge, Vissica mused, that comrade Alexia may find more daunting.

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    Alexia's body and eyes shifted away from the Moff and instead pointed out the window. She could not even bring herself to look at the Moff in this moment lest her feelings be revealed in her gaze and face. It was bubbling up inside her. Not rage, but frustration perhaps? While she already agreed that a Pyrrhic campaign was not their best option, she did not agree with his... softness. She saw a man defeated and brought low by a catastrophe, and in that moment he had lost his faith. He didn't believe in the Imperial Machine. If he had ever known the Truth than he had lost it. A dry, shriveled husk is what she saw, and with each word that tumbled out past his lips she lost more and more respect for this man. This man who was suppose to be a pillar and beacon of the Empire. A Moff. A title to be respected and feared.

    Disgusting.

    It was not her place to question her orders. They were here to serve. Still, she could not deny that the thought of removing his head from his cowardly shoulders passed through her mind. Cut away this disease and place a better suited leader in charge. Someone who wasn't afraid to break things before putting them back together. He wasn't wrong about the lies and propaganda, but they were too far down that path to give up now. Relenting would make them look weak, and the Resistance would spring on that and rally others to their cause. Look, the beast is weak, they will say. Join us while it slumbers. The optimism she had felt when given this mission was rapidly fading and in it's place blossomed a seed of doubt. Her tongue was dry and heavy in her mouth. Through the window she saw the spires of Coronet. A doomed city.

    "We are yours to direct, Moff Xaanan. Use us however you will."

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