An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...
Darth Marr knew that as one of the longest surviving members of the Sith Empire's Dark Council he carried an air of seniority and authority about him. It was true that in the absence of the Emperor amidst still mixed rumours of his death, Marr felt it his place to lead the Empire through the troubled times ahead and turn the tides in the war against the Republic. Yet now, sitting aboard his capital ship in orbit of Korriban he found himself somewhat in awe of the young Sith who now sat by his side on the council. He found himself sitting in his meditation chamber, alone in the cold empty room with only the hum of the ship's engines for company, looking up at this brazen young woman as she stared impatiently at him through his holocall with the Council on the planet's surface below, "What is it Marr? I can sense your trepidation from here." The young woman's challenge snapped him back from his momentary contemplation and back into the moment, "Darth Imperious..." She rolled her eyes and shook her head as she cut him off "Marr how many times must we do this, you know I do not care that title." Her bold disregard for the traditional title once gifted to her by Marr himself made his blood boil "Darth Imperious! That title was bestowed upon you by the very Council in which you now hold a seat of power. Do not be so quick to squander the privilege you now hold."
His words caught her attention and her stare turned instantly from impatience to frost. As she fixated on him, Marr felt a cold chill run down his spine as she spoke in her ever calm and elequent tone "Marr that title was granted to me by a Council which is all but gone. You are all that remains of the Council I first stood infront of as an Acolyte of the Sith Academy. You may not yet see it Marr, but this is the dawn of a new era for the Sith and the sooner we all embrace it the better. Now for the last time. My name... is Kuci."
Letting out a defeated sigh and deciding to move on from petty arguments Marr turned his attention back to the matter at hand "Fine... Kuci; tell me again why we shouldn't send one of our assassins after this traitor? Why an Imperial?" Kuci shifted in her throne as she prepared her words "Lord Marr, this traitor was once one of the brightest and most gifted students seen at the Academy since I studied there. Armies of Sith and Jedi alike have already fallen as she has carved a blood stained path across front lines of the war. A Sith is something she knows how to fight, therefore if we are to stop her betrayal of the Empire before it is too late we must use something which she does not know how to fight. And that Lord Marr, is a Cipher Agent; the best the Imperial Forces have to offer. Now this young agent is one who is more than adept at dealing with Sith - this is the Agent who foiled the coup staged by Darth Jadus." Marr sat upright at hearing the mention of Jadus' name, giving Kuci the satisfaction of knowing she had caught his attention. "That does sound intriguing Lord Kuci, but I'm sure I don't need to remind you that Imperial Intelligence was dismantled shortly after the Jadus incident - with your agent at the heart of those events too as I recall - and not seen or heard from since." A wry smile slowly formed across Kuci's lips instantly telling Marr that she had the answers which he did not. "Lord Marr; I have already fed a set of co-ordinates to your bridge. Go now, and you will find Cipher Nine. Marr, this agent is our one chance to prevent the traitor's plans from coming to fruition. Do not allow your personal prejudice against non-force users to cloud your judgement and prevent you from securing Cipher Nine's services." With that, she ended the holocall. Marr's blood once again boiled over at the imputence of this young woman. Yet he knew that she was right, he must proceed to intercept Cipher Nine without delay if they were to save what remains of the Sith Empire.
The X-70 Phantom was a marvel of modern engineering, as one of the only surviving ships to have been salvaged from Darth Malgus' stealth fleet during his power play it served to many as a reminder of what happens to those who dare stand against the Empire. For Cipher Nine however, it was much more; the Phantom was an extension of herself with it's unique combination of sleek curves, breathtaking looks, state of the art technology and the uncanny ability to sneak up on any unsuspecting target and take them out before disappearing once again into nothingness. The phantom was a ghost, a rumour; the phantom was Cipher Nine, and she was the phantom. Whilst Cipher Nine felt at home sitting in the shadows, not all of the agent's crew felt as comfortable with their situation however, and this was most apparent in the increasing restlessness in one of the agent's most longest serving crew; Kaliyo Djannis. Kaliyo was used to living life on the edge; kill hard and party hard was her way so the 'cloak and dagger' business of Cipher Nine often left the Rattataki woman at a frustrating loss of action "Oh come on Agent, how can you honestly say you're enjoying this? We've sat floating here in the middle of deep space for weeks without sight of a single soul." The young agent sat back from her console and turned her big brown eyes to meet Kaliyo's gaze - brushing a lock of her jet black hair from her eyes in the process "Kaliyo, this is who we are, it's what we do. You shouldn't be so skeptical all the time - out here we are safe, we are outside the system. Remember; this ship is virtually undetectable even at close range - and that is just the way we like it." Kaliyo could almost see a cheeky smile appear across the young woman's lips - she really did enjoy her work a bit too much. Before she could retort however, the proximity alarm began sounding from bridge. Kaliyo couldn't help but burst out laughing at the timing of it, the agent however was not so amused "Well that was just unfortunate timing. Come on."
As Cipher Nine and Kaliyo walked onto the Phantom's bridge, the view ahead was filled with the side of a Harrower class Imperial capital ship sitting almost on top of them. Kaliyo once again threw the agent a look of cocksuredness, to which Cipher Nine simply rolled her eyes at her friend's amusement. As they moved closer to try and see around the capital ship and took the sight of fighter patrols whoosing past, the holoterminal beeped back in the Phantom's central chamber - drawing the two woman away from the foreboding sight of the capital ship. As they approached the terminal an image flickered into life overhead, a sight even more foreboding than the ship which carried him there; Cipher Nine was greeted by the sight of a tall Sith Warrior wearing full battle armour. From the style of his armour and the large spikes rising threateningly from his shoulders, the agent was quickly able to determine that the image before her was none other than Darth Marr - one of the most senior members of the Dark Council. As he moved from studying the two women and slowly turned his gaze down directly on Cipher Nine, she felt a cold chill run through her entire body - and her sharp intuition quickly told her that this Sith was very strong with the dark side of the force, and not someone to be reckoned with. She also felt - though uncertain why - that she needed to place an element of trust in this Sith, "Cipher Nine.
We have never met, but I am familiar with your work - Darth Jadus was once a powerful allie, and as his apprentice I learned to harness the true power of the dark side. You have proven yourself to be a loyal servant of the Empire, and the Dark Council once again has need of your services. I am..." Cipher Nine cut him off "Darth Marr, of the Dark Council." He tilted his head to the side slightly, clearly taken aback by the young Imperial's recognition of him.
Already Marr was beginning to see what Kuci saw in this young agent as she continued, clearly satisfied that she had gained his attention "Lord Marr, whilst I am humbled that the Dark Council sees fit to call upon me whenever they feel it neccessary may I remind you that Imperial Intelligence is no more - dismantled at the behest of your Dark Council not all too long ago." Marr stared silently at the young agent for a moment and Kaliyo turned to whisper in the agent's ear "Be careful agent, he's Sith - you can't trust him. You can see it his face." Cipher Nine turned to face Kaliyo with a look of bewilderment "Kaliyo, he's wering a full face mask - you can't see his face!" Kaliyo's eyes grew wide as she tried to emphasise her point without raising her voice "Excatly! That's how you know he's lying; if he's hiding his face, he's bound to be hiding the truth!" Despite Kaliyo's blunt assessment of Sith psychology, the agent knew that deep down she was correct, at least to some degree. Darth Marr, having heard every word simply stood and folded his arms as he continued to stare down on the two women from the vantage point of the holoterminal "If you have quite finished..." he clearly was not amused by the tone in his voice. "...Agent, there are those on the Dark Council who feel that the dismantling of Imperial Intelligence was a mistake, and one that should be rectified." The agent stared up Marr as she considered him "Ok Lord Marr, you have my attention. But first tell me, nobody knew we were here and nobody knows how to contact me or this ship. How did you find us?" "Do not worry yourself Agent, your security has not been compromised. Just know that the Force is a powerful allie."
Whilst clearly not satisfied with his mystical response, Cipher Nine knew that it was all she was going to get from the Sith. "Very well Lord Marr, what is it that has drawn you to seek me out?" "Agent, you are perfectly aware that Empire is losing this war. Without the threat of the Emperor the Republic is growing bolder in it's attempts to wipe us from the face of the galaxy. And now this shift in the balance of power has begun to lure our own to stray from the ranks. we have a traitor in our midst - a powerful Sith Lord who's skills have been sharpened on the front lines of the war. It is believed that even as we speak, this traitor is working with the Republic's SIS - and possibly even the Jedi Order - on a plot to bring the Empire to it's knees from within." The young agent turned from the holoterminal and began to pace back and forth as her keen intellect worked to assess the information she had just received. As she paced she raised a fist which she pressed to her lips as her eyes darted rapidly back and forth. She stopped and turned back to face Darth Marr, straightening her posture and folding her hands behind her back, "Lord Marr, whilst I can see that this is a matter of the upmost urgency; I fail to see why my personal services are required. Yes, I can see the link with the SIS - and it's possible I can work at this traitor of yours from that angle. But I find it highly irregular that the Dark Council would turn to anyone outside of their own ranks - not least an Imperial officer - to address such a problem. So tell me Lord Marr, what aren't you telling me?"
Darth Marr was clearly taken aback by the young agent's intuition, and her boldness to address him in what he felt to be such a brash manner in comparison with how the Sith who cowered at his very presence usually addressed him. "Agent s I mentioned, this traitor's skills were honed on the battlefield against Sith and Jedi alike. To send more Sith against this Lord would be an exercise in futility. This one is a powerful sorcerer and too well versed in the ways of the Force for another Sith to catch her off guard. But you Agent... your methods were honed on a different premise, and that gives you an advantage we cannot source from the ranks of the Sith." Whilst Cipher Nine was clearly surprised by what seemed to be a very desperate move from the Sith in this turn to a non force user, she could not deny the logic of the action, and this troubled her. All her life, and in all her dealings with the Sith she had seen only one common denominator between them all; the impulse to act on emotion, and the over reliance on their own strength carry them through any potential repercutions. For the Dark Council to now be acting on logical assessment was unsettling, yet it carried with it an air of hope for the agent; as much as she struggled to believe that the Sith could be evolving beyond their petty infighting ways, she could not deny that this could be an early sign of such a very move and so she felt obliged to persue this traitor and stay close to the events now looming over the horizon, "Very well Lord Marr, I will persue your traitor. Please send me all available information on this Sith at once." Darth Marr nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement before terminating the holocall.
Cipher Nine and Kaliyo made their way back to the bridge where Ensign Temple greeted them both with an acknowledgement that they had received the data packet moments before Darth Marr's capital ship jumped to hyperspace, leaving them once again alone floating in deep space with only their thoughts and each other for company. Ensign Temple quickly began her analysis of the data packet as Cipher Nine stood patiently behind her, watching and analyzing the information as it appeared in front of her. Kaliyo paced back and forth while the Imperial's worked until her impatience got the better of her "So Where are heading Crystyl? Please tell me it's at least somewhere with a decent cantina." Cipher Nine turned to Kaliyo with a raised eyebrow "Oh don't look at me like that, you could use a stiff drink yourself sometimes you know - and maybe even a good stiff..." "Kaliyo!" The agent was clearly not amused by Kaliyo's playful innuendo, but as one of the only things which was almost guaranteed to make the young agent blush Kaliyo couldn't resist the temptation - though she at least knew when to stop playing with the agent. "So come on agent, seriously; where to?" "Well..." Cipher Nine began as she was still analyzing all of the information to hand "...It seems our Sith Lord was last seen on Voss. Hmm, with any luck the 'Shining Man' will still be easy enough to track down - maybe he can give us some insight into this Sith's activities there." Kaliyo's face visibly drops at the mention of the planet "Aww man, those guys wouldn't know a good party from Rancor feaces!" "Kaliyo..." The agent's tone imposed a clear and decisive air of duty and Kaliyo knew that she must set a course for Voss. seeing her friend's distaste at their destination brought out the agent's playful side as a cheeky grin appeared across her young face "Well, you said you wanted to go some place with a cantina - and as I recall Voss does have 'a' cantina" Kaliyo simply muttered under her breath, not at all amused by the agent having the last laugh at her expense while Ensign Temple simply smiled at the banter as she turned back to her console while Kaliyo made the jump to hyperspace.