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"Perfect Square Act I" Pt. 1


An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...

 

Nar Shaddaa

1335th Year of the Empire

A middle-aged man paced across the room, checking his chronometer every once in a while. Though his living space was by no means the worst in this decaying, crime-ridden ecumenopolis, it still offered no view of the moon outside. Not that such a view would give him any sense of time here, for Nar Shaddaa, like the planet it orbited, was polluted terribly, most of its sky and natural light blocked out by a thick haze of smog.


The man, approaching an old age, soon tired of waiting and sat down on his bed with a nervous sigh. It was at that moment that footsteps became audible outside. Immediately he sprung to his feet with uncanny speed, as if he had been trained to react quickly, or that he had been looking forward to this moment for the entirety of his fifty-something year life.


He moved over to the cupboard he kept beside his bed, pulling open one of the bottom compartments. Within lay several weapons- a blaster pistol, several knives and a small row of spherical grenades. Reaching in, the man grabbed the pistol, not bothering to close the cupboard as he took position beside the door. He tapped the control panel, unlocking the entrance to his home and cautiously aiming his pistol at whoever was coming...


With the door slid open, time began to slow for the man as he waited for someone to appear . He heard the footsteps draw closer before falling silent, yet nobody walked across the threshold. A bead of nervous sweat began to hesitantly form on his brow as the aged grip on his blaster pistol trembled ever so slightly as the adrenaline of the unknown rushed through his tired body.


Then it came; the subtlest of touches that given a few more years could easily lead to a heart attack for him - a gently tap on the shoulder with a single digit. Spinning around as he jumped with surprise, he turned his gaze just in time to see the owner of the tapping finger on his shoulder deactivate a stealth field generator and ripple into full view.

His eyes widened slightly as he took in the delicate features of the woman who now stood before him; her shoulder length dark hair framing a classically refined imperial face; accented by her violet cosmetics and bright green eyes. She brazenly carried a DLA-13 blaster rifle on the back of her full length black & purple accented jacket. But most remarkable of all to the man was that this woman appeared to be half his age, or close to it at least - never had he expected any visitor to be one so young. Whilst her appearance would give her heritage away to only those who would know how to identify it; the accent she greeted him with marked her as a clearly upper class Imperial as she addressed him, "Is that how you welcome all your guests around here?"


The man relaxed once he heard the distinct Imperial accent, breaking into a smile as he lowered his weapon, "Most of my guests knock, you know."


He peered out the entrance, looking both ways down the litter-filled hallway that led to his dwelling to ensure that the young woman was not followed. Satisfied, he pressed the control panel again, closing and locking the door before taking a few steps into the room. The man returned to his pistol to its place in the cupboard, gently closing it before turning back to the individual he had invited inside.


"Sorry about that. Necessary precautions for living here. I'm Tanric Mallis. You must be the one Keeper sent. What was it...Me-Cha?"


"Mischa" she corrected; her tone carrying the subtlest hint of disapproval at having to do so which so naturally accompanied her accent. She followed him into the centre of the room, taking in the typically native appearance of the dwelling as she settled to stand just beside his junk filled dining table with her hands folded behind her back, "Though Agent will suffice." she added as she looked upon the man, taking in every aspect of him from his less than immaculate appearance to the hard worn experience written through the discreet wrinkles showing across his brow, "I understand you have some information for me?"


Tanric shook his head, "I've only just been notified, I know even less than you do. Our instructions are coming from up top. All I was told was to prepare for your arrival and use the secure holo-frequency."


He stepped across the room again, proceeding to a Dejarik table beside one of the walls. Kneeling down, Tanric opened a compartment from the bottom of the table and tampered with the wires and buttons inside the gaming device. The holoprojections on top of the table surface began to flicker wildly, displaying Dejarik pieces all over the board before the image of a balding man in an Imperial uniform came into existence.



"This is Keeper. Agent, I take it you've made your way here without issue?"



Approaching the table; Mischa folded her hands behind her back and held an equally formal posture to the image of Keeper as she looked down at the flickering image, "Keeper" she greeted, "I have arrived without incident. What is the mission status?"


"Good," Keeper nodded. "You'll need your anonymity for potential infiltration. The situation is this- one week ago, an Imperial businesswoman named Kelly Haron went to Nar Shaddaa to negotiate with Gundo the Hutt. Haron is one of ours, an informant for Imperial Intelligence in the financial and black market world of the Empire. She was travelling with Cipher Sixteen, one of our best agents; he was using her credentials as cover to investigate Gundo. After arriving, they both went silent." "It's not unusual for Cipher Sixteen to disappear unannounced for weeks at a time when conducting a mission. However, we've just received a signal from Gundo's Sky Palace, an encoded Imperial SOS signal. We need you to get in there and find out what's happened. Extract our people if necessary."


Mischa nodded, "I am not familiar with Sixteen; I was able to study the schematics for that district during the trip here however and believe I can secure a route into the palace. If there is nothing more, Sir, time is of the essence."


Keeper nodded, "Find our people and make sure they're safe. We can't afford to lose Cipher Sixteen or Haron. That is your mission priority. Keeper out." Once the hologram fizzled and disappeared, Tanric turned to the young agent, "Gundo's Palace...now that's not going to be an easy place to get into. For one it flies around the moon and only docks for refueling, and they'll expect someone to try to sneak on or attack during that time. Disguise is our best bet, I guess that's why Keeper chose you, judging from your files." The middle-aged informant stepped away from the Dejarik table, lowering himself onto the nearby bench to rest, "I've been keeping an eye on the Hutt for some time. Gundo's hiring quite a number of mercenaries of late, I don't know why but the rumour going around is that he's preparing to attack a rival of his. Approaching as a mercenary'll probably get your weapons to at least the doorstep, but I don't know how far they'll let you in. Alternatively, one of his lieutenants is responsible for picking dancers for his palace, and they say the man barely checks background, as long as the dancer's pretty. It'll be easier to get in that way, but you'll have to go unarmed, and with nothing to hide a weapon in."


Mischa smiled subtly, clearly impressed by Tanric's level of information, "I do love an interesting challenge" she commented while pacing the small run down apartment deep in thought at considering her options. After a few moments she stopped and turned to face him, "I think have just the thing in mind. I should depart immediately to make preparations". With that she turned to the door, hitting the panel to slide it open before glancing back to him with a playful smile - seemingly enjoying her work at this point, "Don't wait up now!" With that she again hit her stealth field generator and slipped away unseen into the shadows.


Later that day at the Slippery Slope Cantina, Gundo's recruiter sat idly at a corner table; the boredom written across his face as it sat slumped against his hand which rested against the tables edge was there for all to see - including Mischa as strolled confidently into the bar and right up to the man, addressing him in her perfectly rehearsed Republic accent as he looked up from his staring into space with eyes growing ever so slightly wider as he looked Mischa over, "I hear you're on the lookout for new talent?" She smiled down sweetly at him. As the recruiter took her in with his eyes he sat up straight and more attentive, "Always got room for a... talented little thing like yaself. But I'm afraid sweet cheeks; it takes more the right look to get in." He grinned a seedy grin as he patted the tabletop in front of him before leaning back with his hands folded behind his head. Mischa simply smiled sweetly at him, "Sure thing sugar!" she purred, resting her hands on the table top before hoisting herself up with calculated precision and timing to emphasize every feature of her disguise. With a nod to the band playing in the opposite corner, the music changed to something more upbeat and she began her perfectly rehearsed show piece.