An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...
Mischa's shoulders slumped as she realised her hopes of quickly dropping off the doctor and returning to the task at her were in vain. Ever the professional however, she maintained the visage of acceptance and walked with a formal composure - her hands folded neatly at her back and an upright posture as she joined the Sith, "What is all this about? You have already expressed knowledge of my current priorities so I assume this is either pertinent to that investigation, or something you deem to be of greater importance?"
"It is very pertinent, yes," the Sith replied as she turned and began heading deeper into the building, expecting Mischa to follow along. "I presume you've already realized that I called you here for more than escorting the Doctor. I do have need of his expertise, but more importantly, there are things to discuss that should not be spoken of over holo." Having moved past the entrance area, the status of the droids they came across improved. Instead of the older variants used during the war, these halls were patrolled by new, state-of-the-art Haron Inc. combat models, the humanoid ones of which were equipped with X-202 battle rifles. In addition, Imperial troopers were also seen outside some doorways. As for the rooms themselves, all sorts of unpleasant sounds emanated from them and echoed across the halls- the loud buzzing of machinery, the screams of tortured prisoners and the frantic wails and pleas of those who could take no more. It quickly became apparent that this installation was a very different one from the Black Site on Tatooine.
Mischa held a steady pace alongside the Sith; whilst naturally uncomfortable at the apparent nature of their surroundings, she maintained a frosty composure and showed a complete lack of reaction either way as they proceeded down the corridor, "Well if that is the case, then I appreciate your discretion." She continued to speak in short and direct dialogues, ever mindful of each word spoken in the presence of a powerful Force user - not least one who's intentions remained unknown to Mischa...
Videte merely gave a nod in response and took several more steps forward before stepping through an open door to her right. The guard droid immediately edged to the side to let her past, and as she entered she motioned for Mischa to join her. Once they were both inside, she tapped the control panel beside the doorway, selecting the 'DO NOT DISTURB' option. Before the door slid shut, it could be seen that the droid outside was aware of the command and began to walk away, leaving the Sith and the agent alone in the sealed room. The room was lit by a ring of white lighting built into an indented perimeter around the ceiling. It was not very large and completely lacked decoration. Furnishing consisted solely of a table in the centre and two chairs, one on either side. A circular light emitter could be seen above the table, but it had not been activated, and the dim illumination along the side was all that their eyes had to work with. "This is a Dark Room," Videte explained. "It is used for high profile interrogations or private ones by conducted high profile individuals. Don't worry, you're not here to be interrogated. There's no surveillance or communications technology of any sort here, and that makes it an ideal place to speak privately."
"As you say" Mischa spoke carefully as she slowly encircled the room, quietly studying it's layout and assessing the increasingly vulnerable position she appeared to be falling into, "So what prey tell, is this all about? The fact that you have called me here personally suggests this is more than simple information regarding the investigation Ms. Haron and I are currently assigned to, else you would have fed it in through the hierarchy at HQ. No, there must be some reason you are talking directly to me" She stopped her slow inspection of the room and turned to face the Sith with a somewhat expectant - albeit patient - look on her face.
"We're all working on the clock here, so I'll be straightforward," Videte made her way in front of the table before turning around and beginning her explanation. "I suspect that Cipher Sixteen has betrayed the Empire. I've voiced my suspicions to Keeper, but he doesn't want to believe that one of his best is a traitor without solid evidence. You have had experience with Sixteen in the past, and I am told that you expressed concern about him. That is why I want you to find out where he is and how he is connected to the missing agents."
"You do realise that my previously voiced concerns were laid to rest once the situation on Nar Shaddaa was properly established?" Mischa asked looking back at the faceless mask, continuing without pause for the Sith to respond, "What exactly has made you suspicious of Sixteen? I can't imagine that you would move with such conviction as to summon me here if this was simply a vision or feeling..."
Videte shook her head, "I am not a Jedi. Simply because I can access the power of the Force does not mean I rely on them. Like you, agent, I deal in facts. There is no irrefutable evidence that Cipher Sixteen is a traitor, but if you look closely at the events that have transpired, the truth will unravel itself." "Your concerns were laid to rest because Keeper chose to see the best in his old friend," she continued after a short pause. "Cipher Sixteen and your current partner went to Nar Shaddaa to investigate Gundo the Hutt, but Haron was captured while he escaped. Nothing odd there, as he was the more experienced operative. When you rescued Haron and recovered Gundo's financial data, Sixteen suddenly resurfaced after staying under the radar for all this time. He then reported to Keeper so he could explain his absence and keep a copy of the data for himself. At that point, only a handful of people knew the information existed, and only you and him had the actual files in possession. Yet somehow, the very person this data incriminated found you upon your arrival at Lannik and manipulated you into an elaborate plot that would result in your death. If it was your partner who betrayed you, she would not have tied herself in as tightly as she did, nor would she have gone through such lengths to find you when you were taken, which leaves only one possibility." "Before you point out that the information had already been transferred to headquarters before you were expected to die, remember that the shapeshifter's Moff cover would no doubt be blown even if everything did go to plan. He was the one that suggested working with the Prince, and once the Prince takes over his Republic sympathies will immediately be made clear. The impostor could change his face at will- he did not need to maintain his cover to continue his infiltration, he merely wanted to use his position one last time to both achieve a goal and eliminate you as a potential threat. If you still believe it's a coincidence, Cipher Sixteen's latest venture into the heart of Republic space ended with him disappearing once again, followed by the elimination of several field agents whom he was aware of. Coincidences are not this common, especially not in our line of work."
Mischa considered her Sith host carefully, "Agreed. Though as you point out, there is no irrefutable evidence; this is all circumstantial. But then, we would not be talking if you had solid proof of this. The question is; if this is of concern to yourself, why are you entrusting me with your suspicion and the responsibility to clarify the situation instead of pursuing it yourself?"
"I am pursuing leads myself," Videte corrected her. "While I delve into his past I need someone to explore his present activities. As you will be dealing with the Shadow Guard, just as Cipher Sixteen was before his disappearance, you are in a position to follow his trail. That is not to mention in your recent missions you have demonstrated not only ability but similar deductions, which makes you uniquely suited to this task." "I know this is a risk for you, not only due to the difficulty of what I ask but also that you must work behind the back of your direct superior. My evidence is thin, I admit, and I do not believe that a Chiss agent will defect to the Republic. But whatever he is up to, his recent trail of bodies and mission failures shows that he does not have the best interests of the Empire in mind. He has already endangered your life, and the lives of any agents Keeper has sent to locate him will likely be at jeopardy as well. We must discover Cipher Sixteen's goals and stop him if necessary."
"Very well" Mischa nodded after a further pause for thought, "I will not take any unwarranted action against a fellow agent. But I will also not allow a risk to the Empire to go unchecked. All I can do is keep this in mind as my investigation progresses and act accordingly. If Cipher Sixteen is indeed a traitor; he will be dealt with accordingly." She paused again as she considered Videte, "If your own leads produce any further developments, can I rely on you to keep me informed? After all, I can not give satisfactory guarantees to fulfilling your request if I am kept in the dark" she looked across the dimly lit table expectantly, her tone carrying increasing authority as she attempts to turn the conversational balance in her own favour through her eloquence.
"I do not expect you to take any unwarranted action," the Sith affirmed. "As for further information, I have only suspicions at the moment. Confusing you with such unconfirmed details will only mislead your search and make your mission more challenging. Know this, though- if it is the worst case scenario I fear, Cipher Sixteen is more dangerous than you can possibly fathom. Already he is a Cipher Agent with more experience than you. Assuming you discover both his location and evidence of his treason, I suggest that you bring them to Keeper and myself and let us deal with them. You may not survive a direct confrontation."
Mischa gave an affirmative nod, "Of course; I would not want circumstantial information as that indeed only confuse the matter. If however your investigation turns up anything solid; I would expect to be informed immediately. As for confronting any potentially dangerous foe - traitor or otherwise - that would be outside my mission parameters unless circumstances prevail and force my hand. So rest assured that I will show you the same courtesy and I ask in kind by informing you and Keeper of any finding also" She looked back to Videte with a maintained expectant look on her face, believing that all was now said that needed to be said but without wanting to appear ungrateful for the initial lead.
"I will let you know if there are any developments relevant to your mission," Videte nodded back. "That will be all for now, unless you have more questions?"
Mischa shook her head, "That will be all. If I learn anything, I'll be in touch" and with that made her way out of the black site and back to her waiting speeder. Following a short and contemplative ride back to spaceport, Mischa arrived back at the ship once more and ascended the boarding ramp; announcing her arrival to ADIN as she boarded, "ADIN, the Doctor is safely delivered to his new assignment. Has Kelly arrived yet?"
"Kelly has not returned. I will check my communications line with her," the disembodied voice went silent for a brief moment before speaking up again. "It sounds like she is in the process of some meeting. It may be best for us not to interrupt." It took about fifteen minutes of waiting before Kelly entered the ship, but she did not use the boarding ramp. Instead, she stepped in through the cargo bay doors, a large loader droid behind her carrying a crate and a bag. The droid set down the crate and trotted off, leaving the bag atop it which Kelly picked up before climbing up the ladder to the crew deck, then descending the stairs to the lounge. She was now dressed in her corporate wear, a pristine shirt with the Haron Inc. logo and neatly-fitting tights which perfectly emphasized her form. The uniform she had worn to the Imperial Citadel was nowhere to be seen, though it was presumably stored within the bag she carried back with her. "So sorry for the wait," she addressed Mischa as soon as she saw the agent. "These corporate meetings, I'm sure you've got an idea of how they are; they tend to go on forever. I hope you didn't get bored in my absence? I just realized that I forgot to inform you about the collection of holofilms I've got in the ship's computer!"
"Far from it" Mischa chuckled, "If anything I would say you missed all the excitement". Smiling at the inquisitive look on Kelly's face as she settled, Mischa elaborated, "Dr. Silvestrie is no longer on board; reassigned to a black site here on Kaas under the watch of a Sith - Lord Videte. This Sith also met wirh me and expressed... interest in our current assignment; stating that it aligns with an investigation of her own." She gave Kelly a moment to absorb this before continuing, "That is where the situation grows rather more complicated... The Sith is suspicious of your former partner - Cipher Sixteen - and implicated him in the disappearance of other field agents. She asked that we consider this while on Coruscant and warned of the danger he represents if her suspicions are true"
"It is kind of odd for him to drop off the grid so often, but I didn't think to bring it up as maybe Keeper knew something about it we didn't," Kelly finally spoke after processing the information. "But then again, from the fact that he sent you to find us the last time Cipher Sixteen disappeared, it doesn't look like he knows what Sixteen is up to. Well...you did want to investigate the missing agents, I guess this is as good an excuse as any to do so. It's not like we're disobeying orders; I have a feeling we'll probably have the Shadow Guard's attention if we start prying into this, so we'll be fulfilling our primary objective."
Mischa flashed a reassured smile, "I must say Kelly I am pleasantly surprised at how accepting you are of this situation. I had feared that your previous time working with Sixteen may have stirred uneasy feelings about this matter. As I understand it; this Lord Videte has brought her concerns to Keeper previously but he has not acknowledged them. It is safe to deduct from this that he is not aware of her approaching us directly, but I made sure that she understands; he is our superior and any findings we do happen to discover will be fed to them both equally. But I do believe you are correct, Kelly; our investigation of this should align sufficiently with our primary objective so that we can kill two birds with one stone." She paused and looked sideways to Kelly following a moments consideration, "I trust your meeting was successful?"
Kelly chuckled, "I worked with him, I didn't sleep with him or anything. And you've met him, he's not exactly the most likable of people. He did leave me to die after all..." "As for my end of things, I managed to talk the board into letting us participate in the Coruscant convention," she explained what she had been up to. "It wasn't easy, we're very successful doing business with the Empire so understandably most of the other execs didn't want a thing to do with the Republic. Watcher Nine saved the act with some well-timed intel, though. Apparently Solor Zad's going to Coruscant, I think I might've mentioned him once or twice if you recall- he runs one of our biggest rival companies, AutoPower Industries. They couldn't lose out on a chance to compete with AutoPower and find out what Zad's up to, so I got a green light." "So in short, all set here," Kelly set a hand casually on the lounge's holoterminal and she leaned her weight on it. "You ready to head out?"
"Indeed" Mischa nodded, "The trip should afford us ample enough time to research the details and formulate a strategy. Lets get underway"
Kelly shifted her hand to the side, pressing the comms button on the central terminal, "Yatuni, take us to Coruscant. Make the approach slowly once we're in the system and announce our presence as soon as possible to traffic control. We don't want to get shot at." "I'm sure we don't," came the Weequay's voice through the ship's communications system. "But I got a feeling we're probably gonna end up getting shot at anyways, as usual. Setting course for the Core worlds." "If we get shot at, you're losing your hazard pay." "I get hazard pay for this?" Yatuni exclaimed. "Awesome!" Kelly chuckled as she moved her hand again, "Prepare for hard transfer, ADIN." She retracted the AI's chip from the terminal, keeping it in hand as she motioned for Mischa to follow along, "So...I know we've already got a lot on our hands, and finding out about Cipher Sixteen and this Senator person is definitely a bigger priority than company business. Though I think if we look like we're doing some corporate espionage against a fellow Imperial, it might get the local Republic authorities off us. Probably won't impact our primary mission, seeing how the Shadow Guard knows us by now and they'll be onto us no matter how much we pretend we're there for something else."
Mischa smiled as Kelly explained, "Don't worry; I think it's a good idea to solidify our cover with a genuine purpose. And after all you've done for Intelligence so far it is only right that we seize the opportunity to better Haron Inc's standings while we're at it." She walked alongside Kelly, curious as to what she was planning, "So am I safe in assuming that you have a shiny new droid model to showcase and are using ADIN to do so?"
"You figured out my surprise!" Kelly smirked before sliding down the ladder to the lower decks. "It's not the newest model we have, but it's very shiny. You'll see."
Turning into the cargo bay, Kelly headed towards the now closed blast doors, stopping in front of the crate that she had the loader droid bring in. She leaned over it and propped the lid off, revealing a humanoid shape within. It appeared to be feminine and was visibly a droid chassis rather than a set of armour, as it would be far too small for either women. Unlike most Haron Inc. models that Mischa had seen, the majority of which were combat droids possessing paint jobs in dull grey, camouflage or Imperial colours, this one was equipped with bright golden plating. The meticulously measured proportions and scrupulous curvatures along the body made it clear that the design was made to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible to humanoids, though it was not a human replica droid- the droid's shining metal exterior flaunted its mechanical nature. It was difficult to judge what material the chassis was comprised of, but judging from how easily Kelly reached in and lifted the body up, it could not be too heavy.
"You're looking at the EC Series Multi-Functional Entertainment Droid," she explained to Mischa while she pried open a compartment at the rear of the droid's head. "One of our designers pitched the idea for places that wanted more interactivity than holographic dancers but couldn't afford real ones. He got himself the go-ahead some years back but the project obviously didn't pan out. We still make them by order but we don't mass produce. The board thought it'll be a good model to show off if we're going to try to sell to the Republic, with them having outlawed slavery and all."
The droid's eyes lit up instantly as Kelly plugged in ADIN's chip, the glowing white light switching its focus to the golden chassis as its head tilted down. After a moment of quiet examination, ADIN rose in the new body, flexing its arms and bending each knee individually before taking a step forward. It stood there, head now turning from side to side before setting on Kelly.
"This body has not been adjusted for infiltration," ADIN asked quizzically, taking on the softer but sharper voice of the model it now inhabited.
"It's more durable than it seems," Kelly responded. "Combat models are forbidden at the convention without Republic authorization and they'll be inspecting you very closely. These people'll be experts, not your everyday customs officers; we won't get away with hardware modifications, even little ones. Just play to your strengths- this design is flexible, fast and I'm sure you can be stealthy with it too. And if I write up a seduction subroutine or something along those lines you can probably pull enough strings to set up a second Sacking of Coruscant..."
The droid shook its head, "Slicing equipment will be more effective. Then I can take over Coruscant's systems and finally acquire myself a droid army."
Kelly grinned, "Well that wouldn't be very fun for me, would it? But yes, this was more of a on-the-spot idea, I'll see if I can make some software improvements to make you better in that. What do you think, agent?"
Mischa chuckled, "It will take some getting used to; hearing you with that voice ADIN!" Turning to - still with an impressed smile - but joking aside Kelly, I think this is an ingenious way to make a legitimate attendance to the conference. Will you have sufficient time en route to prepare the additional subroutines?"
"I can get started, but there'll probably be time to refine them once we land on Coruscant," replied Kelly. "I imagine there'll probably be some restrictions for visiting Imperials; not sure how far they'll let us wander when we're not going to the convention. Speaking of which...we should probably figure out some plans of action before we step into Republic territory and have so many people listening in on us that we can't hold a private conversation."
After a period of time on the ship spent planning and making preparations for the mission, their luxury craft docked with a much larger and cruder transport ship just as they had decided. The vessel, carrying the other Haron Inc. display models, was staffed by a rather clean cut crew in contrast to the rough exterior. It was clear that these men and women were not your average spacers, but disciplined, lifelong Imperials who functioned with a practiced efficiency not dissimilar from the way naval officers behaved on duty. When Mischa, Kelly and ADIN stepped into the freighter, their greeting was courteous and professional. Apparently the captain had decided to give up his own quarters for the visiting executive, and they were led to the cabin immediately. It was far from the standard of Kelly's suite on board her own ship, but it was leagues above the shared dormitories of the transport they took from Nar Shaddaa to Lannik. The display of trophies and medals in the room verified that the old captain was indeed an Imperial officer at an earlier point in his life. Aside from those, the room's facilities were as minimalist as that of a low-budget hotel, providing only services that were necessary. It had a computer terminal for communications, and that was more than enough for Kelly to continue her work on ADIN's subroutines as they continued towards Coruscant. Her luxury vessel undocked and set out with Yatuni and HK-X1 on board, patrolling the border area in case they needed extraction. More time passed as they traversed through Republic space without incident and soon, the ship's navigators contacted them through the comm system, "We'll be coming up on our destination soon. If there's any last minute preparation you need, now's the time."
Mischa had taken the opportunity to work on the refinement of her alter ego - Jane Sayen - and had been playing to this ever since boarding the freighter. Knowing that they were already drawing near to their destination, she was in the process of a last minute check over of her equipped supplies before departing. As the announcement came in, she glanced up briefly at the comms unit before promptly returning her attention to the last minute checks of her gear. Having utilized the same look as she had when playing a Haron Inc. employee on Lannik; she stood before her dresser in the white blouse and lilac skirt - both topped with golden accessories on the shoulders and around her waist and wrists - and a pair of lilac pumps over knee length white socks to complete the illusion. Her present preparations were however a far cry from the innocence that her appearance was tailored to imbue. Knowing that Coruscant customs would be particularly stringent with her as an Imperial, she could not afford to take any chances and had so opted to forego her usual calf mounted blade, instead opting for the more secluded blade hidden under the lining in the back of her belt. She had also taken special care with her accessorizing as the golden adornments on her shoulders - though purely decorative in appearnce - were actually made of the same polished songsteel as her usual silver bracers - making them excellent discrete armoring in case of close quarters combat still. The small corporate emblem worn on her chest as a decorate lapel also doubled a removable tracking chip which she synced with ADIN. Even the thin metallic bracelets worn about her wrists were less innocent than appeared, since one contained a thin wire garrote which she could also utilize in close quarters should the need for discrete assassination arise. Satisfied that she had made all her preparations as far as she was able, Mischa picked up the overnight bag packed with the more mundane and everyday items required for her trip and turned back to Kelly - who had been making similar preparations at the desk holding the terminal on which she had been working, "I believe we are all set, Ms. Haron. Is there anything you'd like me to get for you?" She spoke with a subtly more upbeat and chirpy tone than usual as emphasis of the persona she was currently portraying.
"I've got all I need in the briefcase, thank you," Kelly smiled, acting as the refined company executive that her dress reflected. "Actually, could you hold on to that for me until we get to the hotel?"
Leaving the briefcase for Mischa, Kelly headed for the cargo bay of the ship- the vessel had no separate boarding ramp for passengers as it was designed solely to haul cargo. There, several crates of inactive droids were stored, all of them bearing the Haron Inc. logo. Kelly checked over only one of them: the golden chassis that currently stored ADIN's AI. She closed the top of the crate as their ship began to enter the planet's atmosphere, the old craft encountering some slight turbulence which forced Kelly to brace on the side of one of the larger storage containers. Fortunately, it didn't take much longer to touch down, and with the clank of the landing gear they finally found themselves on solid ground once more.
The massive blast doors of the cargo hold slid open, the bottom half folding down to form a ramp for disembarking. Sunlight streamed in from outside, but when their eyes had gotten used to the illumination, they realized that it was merely a ray shining down from the open roof that their ship entered from, a ray that grew thinner and thinner as the massive hatch closed to seal the area. They were, of course, in a docking bay rather than an external landing site. Several workers rushed over to the newly arrived vessel, a common sight as many ships requested for refueling after they arrived at a destination. However, as these workers began to circle around the hull, anyone with the slightest knowledge of starships would recognize that they were not here to replenish the craft's reserves, but were carefully inspecting the ship.
Two Republic troopers, one male and one female, approached the one entrance into the vessel. Both were fully armoured save for helmets; the dark-skinned human female held hers under her arm while the male, a green-skinned Twi'lek, did not appear to have one at all. They possessed standard weaponry for soldiers- a blaster rifle on the back and a pistol on the hip. Neither brandished their weapon, and they seemed to be coming on peaceful terms.
"Which one of you is Kelly Haron?" the human trooper asked in a rough variant of the Republic accent.
"I am," Kelly stepped forward. "You are our security escort, I presume?"
The darker woman gave a curt nod before looking to Mischa, "Who's she?"
"That's Jana Sayen, my assistant," replied Kelly.
"I thought we were limiting Imperial visitors. What's she doing here?"
"She helps me with almost everything. I don't know where I'd be without her, but I do know I probably won't be able to set up this convention display on my own. Wouldn't you say so?" Kelly looked to her 'assistant,' seeing if she had any input to assist the situation.
Mischa stepped forwards, humping her duffel bag over one shoulder while juggling Kelly's case and a bundle of datapads in her hands so she can attempt to nudge a pair of eyeglasses up on the bridge of her nose; all with a subtly exaggerated struggle, "Y-yes Ms. Haron..." she cast a nervous glance at the 'scary' looking troopers over the rim of her eyeglasses as she continued to feign the struggle with balancing everything, "...I have a very full itinerary which I manage for Ms. Haron. I- Is there a problem?" She turns to Kelly, "I am so sorry Ms. Haron, I was assured by Export & Control that all our transit authorities were in order. Let me try and get them on the holo..." she trailed off as she juggled her carried items with even more emphasized struggle as she feigned an attempt to retrieve her holocom, clearly in the hopes to curry enough sympathy that the troopers would let it go.
"Alright, fine," the female trooper nodded. "Private, you'll take the assistant through customs while I watch her boss." "Yes sir," the Twi'lek spoke for the first time, his voice crisp and notably younger than that of the armoured woman beside him. "What about the cargo?" Kelly asked, "We need to move the display droids off the ship." "We'll get our people to do that," the human soldier assured her. "They'll be delivered to where the convention is taking place. You just come with me." "And private, don't let her out of your sight," she added as she led Kelly away, leaving her partner to watch over Mischa as they headed to the customs terminals.
With a curt nod of acceptance to Kelly, Mischa scurried along behind the Twi'lek trooper as he promptly led her out of the hangar. It was clear to hear that this was a fresh young officer - far less seasoned than the other - and doubly eager to prove his Republic superiority. She made a conscious effort to continue the feigned struggle at juggling all her baggage and - as they walked through the bustling spaceport - she looked around in an animated fashion; appearing to marvel at the wonder that was Coruscant. In doing so she fumbled her baggage beyond the point of being manageable and promptly stumbled forwards as she tried to catch the rapidly scattering datapads. Several skimmed across the floor in all directions as she allowed the dufflebag to fall clumsily forward and pull her momentum down to one side, "Oh curses!" she proclaimed with an exasperated tone as she fought to return the dufflebag to her shoulder while once again pushing the eyeglasses up before they fell from her nose, "I- I'm so sorry!" she looked up at the trooper now forced to stop and turn back to face her as she rummaged around on the floor to recapture the escaped datapads, "I don't know what's wrong with me today, I'm such a bag of nerves...!" She continued, not even looking up to him, "...It's just s-such an honour to have been chosen to join Ms. Haron I... I don't want let-let her down is all..." As she trailed off once more, she glanced up to him with wide puppy-dog eyes, holding his gaze a moment before once again nudging the eyeglasses up on the bridge of her nose; testing to see how easily he can be manipulated by whether or not he attempts to aid the clearly struggling young PA.
"Here, let me help, you're carrying enough already," the young Twi'lek soldier stepped in front of Mischa and knelt down to collect the datapads. "It must be hard, working in the Empire. Well, that's what I hear anyways- about your strict discipline and harsh punishments for breaking any rules. They say just being an Imperial civilian's more work than serving in the Republic military. Our sergeant's real tough, but she's no Sith Lord..." He stood, having collected all the datapads in a stack atop his right hand with the other supplies under his left arm, "Here you go. I can carry it for you through customs if you like."
Mischa flashed the sweetest of smiles at the Twi'lek, "Oh, thank you very much!" She got back to her feet and clearly demonstrated that she was having a much easier time of it as they continued ahead, "I guess it's not all true - what they teach us about the Republic at the academies." She looked sideways to him with another flash of a shy smile, tucking her hair behind her ear, "I suppose both sides tell a very one sided story of the other... for what it's worth, I think you're very sweet and helpful. So... have you been doing this for long?" She said with a bat of her eyelashes, continuing to test the waters of how far she reach in and manipulate the young trooper.
"This is my first day; it's a temporary assignment and the sarge and I are just escorting you, so I haven't been with anyone else before. We don't generally get Imperial visitors, you know," the trooper continued leading Mischa to the customs terminal before suddenly coming to a halt. "Oh! You meant my time in the army in general, didn't you? Not too long I guess, I just finished boot camp a little over a year ago."
Mischa chuckled softly, "Yeah, I did! But I- I'm sorry you had to get reassigned to be our escort. I hope you didn't get pulled from anything more enjoyable! I promise I'll do whatever I can to make it up to you!" she bounced excitedly.
"Oh you don't have to do anything, I'm just doing my job," the Twi'lek replied. "This beats having to fight your people on the field, at least it'll be pretty safe. Or...so I hope. You're trained too, right? In military stuff that is; I'm told all Imperial citizens are forcibly conscripted into some kind of service once you reach adulthood." The soldier ceased to speak when they reached the checkpoint where Mischa would be expected to input her identification and any relevant legal documents. Even before she did so, a probe droid patrolling by swept in and began to conduct thorough scans of her and any belongings she carried, which meant that the trooper had to set down the duffel bag to prompt the droid to inspect that as well. While this went on, an armed battle droid stood behind the customs terminal Mischa was being ushered towards, staring directly at her- it would appear
Mischa gulped as she looked back to the battle droid, making a timid shuffle a touch closer to the trooper and looking to him for affirmation. With a reassuring nod from the Twi'lek she stepped forwards and presented her luggage for scans while turning sideways to the terminal where - with another small nudge of the eyeglasses up the bridge of her nose - she input the relevant ID. She maintained her composure and cover persona vigilantly and after a few moments of being scanned, Mischa and her luggage were cleared through.
As the probe droid mindlessly drifted away to check the next arrival, the battle droid appeared to ease back slightly, glancing side to side as the Imperial girl was no longer considered an immediate threat. She began to gather up her belongings and turned once more to the Twi'lek, continuing to answer his query now that business was taken care of, "You are quite correct; military conscription is mandatory for all citizens. Though unlike most, I am fortunate to come from a family with enough sway that as soon as my mandatory service period was up; I was able to pull out - despite the rising tensions between our respective governments - and take a position at Haron Inc. - which suited me just fine!" She smiled sweetly once more at the Twi'lek, "I'm afraid not all of us are built for the military life" she held his gaze, in the hopes that maintaining his interest would encourage him to retrieve the duffel bag again at least.
"Oh yeah, you don't have to tell me that," the Twi'lek trooper responded as he bent over and picked up the bag without thinking as he conversed casually with Mischa. "One of the guys I was with in boot camp didn't make it out of training, he took a bad fall and hit his head the wrong way. He was a nice person, smart with tech, wrote nice poetry, but his parents forced him to enlist and he just couldn't keep up with the stress."