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"Perfect Square Act I" Pt. 7


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

 

Just as they pulled past the enemy ships and finally obtained an unobstructed view of the stars, a massive Valor-class cruiser turned into their field of vision. Almost two times the size of the Hammerhead-class, it dwarfed all the other cruisers in sight as it appeared on the battlefield. However, it did not open fire, instead flying to block the path of the Imperial vessel, moving surprisingly fast for such a large battleship. The reason for its lack of attack soon made itself clear as a squadron of starfighters emerged from one of the Valor's hangars, charging Kelly's ship head-on.


"Pull up!" Kelly yelled.


"Relax, that big ship isn't gonna get in our way before the hyperspace calculations are ready," came Yatuni's response. "I am going to need to go through those fighters though..."


With the cruisers having stopped their assault to avoid catching one another in the crossfire, only the corvette was still taking potshots at them from afar, shots which the Weequay pilot dodged with ease. Before the starfighters could close in and join the fray, Kelly quickly re-targeted her gun towards them, using the range advantage of the single shots to pick them off one by one. Her first landed on an enemy who had not yet realized that they entered weapons range, the bolt ripping through the fighter's shields and tearing off a section of wing. In a trail of thick smoke the ship broke formation, limping back to the Valor while the rest scattered into evasive maneuvers, causing Kelly's second shot to miss.


Mischa followed suit and fired a few well placed bolts at the fighters as they broke formation, biding her time she was able to pick one off with a direct hit and wing two more who stayed in the fight.


As the starfighters drew closer, Mischa swung her gun mount around, unleashing multiple flurries directly ahead to carve a path through the fighters. A few bolts landing hits - more from luck than judgement - sending a couple more of the fighters spiraling out of control; one veering straight into another it was alongside.


Kelly followed suit as she too fired volleys towards the starfighters, catching a few in the chaos of the spraying bolts. The rest scattered again to avoid the hailstorm that followed the Imperial ship, with only two of the fighters managing to land minor hits on them which their shields mostly absorbed. They immediately whirled around to give chase, seemingly having their enemy pinned down as the Valor-class cruiser too moved into position to block their path. At the last possible second, the stars turned into long streaks as the ship jumped to hyperspace, shaking off the stream of lasers coming from the pursuing starfighters as it slipped into the alternate dimension used for long-distance travel. "Good job!" congratulated Kelly over the comms. "Get us into Imperial space ASAP." "Imperial space?" Yatuni exclaimed. "I usually try to avoid that..." "You want hazard pay or not?" "Fine, fine," the Weequay grumbled in Huttese. Kelly leaned back in her chair, taking the moment of victory to relax before turning her chair to Mischa, "I suppose our next priority is to establish contact with Watcher Nine and report what happened?"


Mischa set her gun mount back into it's lockdown position as she too slumped with a sigh of relief easing from her body, "That would indeed be our next priority; this latest revelation regarding the Moff being replaced is most troubling and they must set contingencies in place as a matter of course" she turned her attention to nowhere in particular in front of her, "Adin; please would you establish a secure encryption with Intelligence HQ for me? We'll be right up" "Right away, agent" replied the disembodied voice of Adin over the intercom As Mischa disembarked the gunner's seat, she greeted Kelly with a proud smile, "Nicely done back there!" She commended, accompanied with a hand on Kelly's shoulder as they made their way back towards the central chamber of the ship. Adin greeted them as they approached the holo terminal, "Establishing a connection now" Approaching the terminal, the two girls were greeted with the sight of Watcher Nine rippling into view on the overhead display, "Agent, Ms. Haron" the Watcher greeted, stood in a formally relaxed pose with her hands folded neatly at her back, though she had just stepped back from standing at attention, "We are receiving some troubling reports from Lannik; what is your status?" Mischa stepped forward after giving a reassuring nod to Kelly that she would happily handle the conversation with the Watcher, "We delivered on our objective as planned however, there was a... complication" Mischa paused to allow the Watcher opportunity to probe further, though the holo image simply stared back patiently waiting before Mischa continued, "I must report that Moff Ceylor betrayed our position here; once the objective was met, an allegiance to the Republic was globally announced and 'Agents of the Empire' were blamed for the assassination of the king; despite our having no traceable connection." "I see..." Watcher Nine finally weighed in as she began typing on the console, "There is more..." Mischa interjected, "...We took the initiative to remedy the situation and I can confirm that the Moff has been terminated." Mischa paused with unease, "Also... I believe the /real/ Moff Ceylor may well have been terminated some time ago. The person I finished on Lannik was not only a Republic operative, but a Changeling at that" With the mention of a changeling the Watcher finally stopped typing and looked directly back to Mischa, "Understood agent" though her words maintained the cold and analytical tone associated with the Watchers, her body language gave away her reaction to this news moreso, "...Since you have already been able to establish contact I can safely assume that you have breached the Republic blockade of Lannik. Please report back to HQ immediately for a full debrief" Mischa nodded her acceptance, "We will see you soon Watcher, don't forget to warm the kettle!" she joked. Watcher Nine simply tilted her head in confusion before realising that Mischa was attempting humour and she quite simply terminated the call, which just made Mischa chuckle even more as she turned back to Kelly, "Seems we have our orders, and no big surprises in them; back to Dromund Kaas at last" she smiled.

"A well-deserved break from all the excitement here," Kelly smiled back, agreeing with her entirely. "Yatuni, take us to Dromund Kaas. Don't worry, you'll get a nice bonus for this." "I better!" he called across the ship via the comms. Kelly chuckled before pausing, "Actually..." "My probability matrices tell me I won't like the sound of this," ADIN commented as he waited for Kelly's idea. "I don't supposed you're in good favour with your previous employers, after being locked up in Gundo's Palace and all?" she continued to address the Weequay. "Course plotted to Kaas," Yatuni's voice sounded again. "And nah, the Exchange is probably gonna space me for screwing up the job as much as the Cartel wants me dead." "Sounds like you're out of work," nodded Kelly. "How about you stay here and pilot for me? I'm not planning to run any more blockades, but having someone of your skills around could be useful." "How could I say no to living on a ship like this?" the Weequay replied. "And flying her, too!" "Absolutely not," ADIN protested. "Having a known criminal pilot the ship is a terrible idea, ma'am. My subroutines are appropriate for handling 96.25% of all flight circumstances." "I thought you'd say something like that," Kelly said before looking to Mischa. "What do you think? You've got experience on the field, think keeping him around's a good call?"


Mischa smiled back, "I think as long as you are working with Intelligence, we have already seen how beneficial his skills can be. I think Yatuni will make a valuable addition to your team. Oh, and Adin; don't worry about being put out of a job - think of it more as having that particular burden shared so you can refocus your runtime on more fruitful ventures."


"Looks like the vote's against you, ADIN," Kelly stated. "Last time I checked, the Sith Empire was not a democracy," the disembodied voice replied. "Even better, then," she smirked. "It means I have total control over what happens to my ship. Unless the Emperor has something to say about it?" "You win, ma'am," ADIN gave in. "Just don't let him into my programs." Yatuni joined in again as he stepped into the lounge in person, "I won't even know what to do with them if you gave them to me. I'm a driver, not a slicer." "It's settled, then," Kelly nodded. "Want to talk payment en route to Kaas?" "Perfect," the Weequay smiled. The remainder of their journey passed in relative quiet, occupied mostly by Kelly giving Yatuni an official contract, which more so confused the former criminal than annoyed him. After (reluctantly) signing the required documents, he returned to the cockpit to dock the ship into the main spaceport of Dromund Kaas, located near Kaas City. The Weequay remained on the ship with ADIN while the two Imperials left to meet their bosses at Intelligence HQ. Outside the spaceport, a speeder piloted by one of Haron Inc.'s droids was waiting to pick them up. In the comfort of Kelly's corporate ride, they made their way through the jungles and into the city without getting soaked in the planet's constant rains. The craft dropped them off on the landing platform of the Imperial Citadel and they proceeded inside the section of the government building allocated to Imperial Intelligence. The headquarters of Intelligence was a busy hub of activity, filled with various computer consoles beeping and chirping as agents who were not posted to the field, such as many Watchers, Minders and Fixers, worked tirelessly on them. From here, almost everything in the Empire was monitored, every potential threat was screened, and every bit of data retrieved from the Republic were carefully taken apart by expert analysts. Those that did not contribute to the vast information network established here worked with the Operations branch, overseeing and coordinating the actions of their colleagues in the field, like the two that had just returned. Mischa and Kelly entered the main Operations area to find the familiar face of Keeper waiting for them, "Welcome home, agents."


"Always good to be back, Sir" Mischa replied, "I... assume Watcher Nine brought you up to speed on the Lannik situation?" She asked knowing all too well that Keeper was a busy man and so preferred to keep things straight and to the point.


"She did," Keeper nodded, and as if on cue the Watcher they had been referring to stepped into view, joining the two other women. "We have no confirmation of the original Moff Ceylor's fate," Watcher Nine began giving the latest status updates, "but we have recovered old reports from the Moff's men that accused him of odd behaviour. These documents were buried by the infiltrator, of course, and the personnel that filed them were all accused of a crime or grave mistake and subsequently executed. The earliest such suspicion we found in the Moff's troops dates back to a year ago." "We're still investigating the extent of the Changeling's work here," the director of Intelligence continued. "Good job exposing and terminating him, at least we know where to look now. The Republic's acquisition of Lannik's resources is a loss for us, but not a major one. He could've done much more damage if you two haven't killed him." "Thanks," Kelly smiled and looked to Mischa. "The credit for taking out the Shadow Guard infiltrator is all thanks to her quick thinking, though." "The two of you make a good team, as is evident by your successes on Lannik and Nar Shaddaa," Keeper replied, turning his gaze to Mischa as well. "You are certainly field agent material, and it's about time we equipped you with more resources. As of this moment, Kelly Haron is officially reassigned to your command. I am sure you are already beginning to find her skills and connections very useful."


Mischa glanced sideways to Kelly with a smile of acknowledgement, "I think it is fair to say, Sir; that the mission could not have been executed as well as we managed if not for her skills. She has a great deal of potential and I would be honoured to have her continue at my side." She looked back to Keeper, "I must confess though Sir, I have not any dealings - that I know of at least - with these Changelings. Do we have any kind of countermeasure or detection screening that can be implemented? If the Shadow Guard is utilizing these beings for their infiltration then they are growing as bold as they are dangerous, it would seem"


"Shapeshifting is far from perfect, and it doesn't change the genetics of an individual," stated Watcher Nine. "The infiltrator you dealt with must have used other techniques to get past detection for so long, but now that we know what to expect we can look for Changelings more thoroughly, and we might be able to deduce what measures this one took from the Moff's activities and scan results in the past year." "But that will be a job for the Minders and Fixers," Keeper cut in. "Your abilities are needed on the field, though you may have a brief moment of respite as we organize the op. Lay low for a few days, make sure your anonymity is intact. Watcher Nine will inform you of your next mission when it's time, she'll be your primary liaison to base from now on."


"Thank you, Sir" Mischa nodded respectfully before Keeper turned away and returned to his office. She turned her attention to Watcher Nine, "I suppose then we should mobilize and prepare for reassignment. Unless you have something already lined up for us?" "Negative" the Watcher replied flatly, "I believe standard operating procedures in these circumstances call for 'R&R'..." she speaks the phrase almost as though it's very concept is alien to her, which just made Mischa smile, "I'm sure we can manage that. Thank you Watcher, I shall await further instructions from you" With that, she and Kelly turned and made their way back out of HQ and on to decide where they could go to enjoy their well deserved rest...


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