An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...
Mischa had picked up on the instructions from the Knight as well, swiftly setting the earpiece in place as she slipped on her eyeglasses and adjusted her hair around them. A simple glance acknowledged this to Kelly, though the look in her eye clearly indicated that Mischa was still thinking on the details of how they would manage this under the watchful eye of their Republic escort.
With knowledge of what must be done, she continued her preparations for the morning and settled in the knowledge that at least some part of her plan may need to be improvised closer to the time once she could observe the conditions on the ground.
Kelly contacted their escorts as they worked so that the troopers would arrive in time when they finished their preparations. Indeed, as they stepped out into the lobby with ADIN in tow, the two white-armoured individuals awaited them by the entrance. The four of them took their usual seats in the now-familiar speeder as it took them across several city blocks, coming to a halt on the landing pad of the convention centre reserved for corporate personnel. They made their way to the top of the tower, where in the midst of dawn the entirety of the area was basked in golden light that transformed the metallic plating of the even the most basic droids into glittering decor.
Some more work was required before their display was ready for the day ahead. Kelly reactivated her droids and adjusted the brightness of the holoprojectors to account for the increased light level in the room, handing Mischa some menial organizational work during which she could brainstorm their plan of action. Before they got a chance to discuss any ideas, however, the convention had already opened its doors for the first day of public access. As expected, various droid enthusiasts rushed into the room, some visibly steering clear of the stands set up by the Republic's nemesis, while others took curious peeks at models from the Empire they had never seen before, many of which used to be off-limits.
In the excitement and commotion an hour quickly swept by, with Kelly having spent most of the time speaking to visitors, passing on the job of coordinating the droids to Mischa, when that became necessary. The mass of people would allow them to slip away just like they did the day before, though their guards would almost certainly notice. Any distraction like the one they had already used would be very suspicious if employed again, which means a new method will need to be found.
After the initial wave of excited civilians had made their rounds, representatives from non-droid related corporations began to enter. These people mostly sought out combat droids for private security or labour models to add to their workforce. One seedy-looking Rodian stopped by to examine Haron Inc.'s entertainment unit, concluding that he will purchase a shipment if the company were to ever do business with a Republic group. However, it was the figure behind him that was particularly out of place.
He was an older human male with exceptional physique for one of his age. His hair was grey and winkles were visible across his visage, combining with a clump of scars that covered the better part of the left side of his face. Despite this, he stood tall and proud in a partially armoured uniform bearing the colours of the Coruscant Security Force. The symbol of the local law enforcement, a long rectangle atop an equilateral pentagon, was sewn in a visible spot on his chest. All this simply signified him as an experienced beat cop or perhaps a wizened detective, if it were not for the cylindrical object that hung on his waist, opposite his hip from a standard issue blaster pistol. Years of living in the Empire under the rule of the Sith made this instantly recognizable to any Imperial- it was a lightsaber hilt.
"That astromech you got," he pointed to ADIN's current shell, "he's a surveillance unit, right?"
Mischa eyed the man and was quick to note the lightsaber. Though she could confidently surmise that he was no simple Jedi from the fact his saber was worn openly, she had no way to knowwho he was or represented. She opted not to bring anything to the forefront before him, instead playing the full corporate role; opening with a broad smile and a confident tone, "Our astromech models are highly diverse. If there is a specific purpose you're looking for I'd be happy to arrange a demonstration"
"I'm with the Coruscant Security Force, if can't tell by the uniform," the man stated. "I won't pretend to know much about droids, but that's a big antenna dish on that one. The old astromech I've been assigned just isn't cutting it, not with the collapse of our surveillance network after the Sacking. Your model looks like it has better sensory functions, but I'd like a demonstration of how it does with cyber surveillance." He reached into his pocket, taking out a datachip attached to an officer's badge, "CSF access codes. Use them to tap into this building's systems remotely. Let's see if your little guy can outperform what I've currently got."
Mischa tentatively took the chip from him, showing a clear look of uncertainty, "Well, I can't let him access anything secure even with your codes. You know there was a scare here just yesterday with some malfunction or something!" She flashed another sweet smile, "But remote access to the public network should provide a sufficient demonstration of this models advanced hardware!" She turned to ADIN, kneeling down in a delicate manner which forced her already snug skirt to pull tight around her thighs. She did not honestly believe that this man would fall for such lurid distractions but knew it was worth playing the role at least. As she inserted the chip she instructed ADIN, "Ok my little friend, you heard the man; we want a nice demonstration of what you can do in accessing the public net for him". As she finished, she stood and folded her hands in front of herself as she stepped to the side to allow a good view of the demonstration.
The lightsaber-carrying detective knelt down before ADIN, giving Mischa a look that asked for confirmation of her permission before plugging his datapad into the astromech. His eyes scrolled with the text on the screen, his expression neither impressed nor approving. He gave a simple nod, disconnected the device and stood up, tossing the datapad aside. He seemed to ignore Mischa entirely now, instead turning his eyes to the crowd as he pressed a hand against his ear. "We have confirmation," he said. "It's Solor Zad." Two other beings in a blast vest variant of the CSF uniform squeezed their way through the crowd, one younger human male and one Togruta female. They came to a stop in front of the PowerTech display, and from the agents' distance appeared to converse with Solor Zad, making a few gestures before the Togruta began to move behind him. Then, in a blur of movement too far and fast to see properly, the hulk of a man managed to position himself behind the officer, a mechanically altered arm around her neck. Her partner drew his blaster and Zad's trooper escorts raised their rifles, but no one opened fire, not with a hostage in the cyborg's hands. Their attentions all turned to what they deemed to be the main threat, none of the troopers reacted quickly enough when PowerTech's droids turned on them. Several humanoid units suddenly sprung to action from behind the soldiers, using the same choke-hold as their master. In panic the young male officer opened fire, the blast striking the Togruta who cried out in a gasp of surprise. Seizing this moment, Zad threw the body at him and he made the fatal mistake of trying to catch it. With his arms free, the massive cyborg closed his fist and struck the officer. His head lolled to the side and he fell limp instantly, clumping to the ground alongside the corpse of his former partner. Zad's droids were not built for combat and could not overpower the trained soldiers, but their unexpected attack bought him enough time to catch the blaster dropping from the dead officer's hand and open fire, picking them off one by one. His aide joined the fray as well, though he was not nearly as effective a combatant and was quickly taken out of the fight. One of the troopers, a male Nautolan, managed to break free before his execution, albeit without his rifle. Drawing a vibroknife he made a desperate charge for the cyborg, who easily grabbed the assailant's wrist and twisted his arm while forcing him to his knees. Coldly, almost mechanically, Zad raised the pistol using his other hand and pulled the trigger. The blaster fire had alerted everyone around them and the crowd descended into chaos as everyone tried to flee; the perfect distraction appeared to have been thrown at the agents by sheer luck. All the escorts, including Mischa and Kelly's, were now aware that fighting had broken out, though among the stampede of civilians there was little most could do to assist. As the area around PowerTech's display began to clear two more soldiers closed in, though they were still reluctant to shoot for fear of hitting innocents. Their Imperial adversary held no such reservations and opened fire recklessly, the bolts scorching the white plating of one of the troopers and knocking him to the ground. The other trooper began to exchange fire with the cyborg when she was suddenly yanked aside by an unseen force, causing the shots meant for her to fly towards the dispersing crowd. Before they could hit anyone however, a yellow blade of plasma flashed into existence, intercepting each bolt with laser precision and deflecting them at the transparisteel ceiling above. The old detective stood, lightsaber in hand, in front of Solor Zad and his remaining droids.
With only a split second to react, Mischa chose to trust in her instincts. She knew this distraction was a little too convenient to their benefit and since nothing had been mentioned with the Knight she could only surmise that other forces were at work. Whether those forces were working directly against the agents or some other third party was anyone's guess - but she assumed the worse. Launching herself at the Private with wide-eyed fear she made sure to further separate him from the Sergeant amidst the confusion. She gripped his arm tightly as she turned her fear stricken gaze up to his, "They are after us! You have to help - you have to get us out of here!" She could instantly see the hesitation in his eyes as he desperately scanned the chaotic crowd for his superior and her judgement, but Mischa did not afford him the opportunity, "Don't you see; that man - he's not Jedi, even I could see the lack of serenity in him, and he openly wore his lightsaber like Sith do! I... don't know if he is Sith, or maybe a fallen Jedi out for revenge, but they went straight for other Imperials so we could be next!" she pulled back and turned a stern face on the Private having gained his full attention - and seemingly succeeded in convincing him of the strangers ill-intent thanks to a combination of truthful observation and subtle elaboration, "You said you were here as much to protect us as keep an eye on us, now if you don't get us out of here you will /fail/ that objective, now come on!" With a convincing tug at his arm and a knowing glance to Kelly and ADIN, she directed the Private away from the bustling activity before anyone could see what was happening, "When you were showing me around yesterday I got a good look at the map of this place, it says there's a door just around the corner here that leads to a skybridge across to the adjacent tower - that's got to be the fastest way to safety!" As much leading the Private as allowing him to guide them - with his training kicking in and putting him on the complete defensive as he ran with his rifle held ready in both hands and his eyes darted around the room searching for potential threats - they found their way to the sealed door. Mischa tried it but it was of course locked, she turned to ask ADIN to help override it but before she could open her mouth the Private lunged forward with his shoulder turned towards the door and with a heavy crash as his armour collided with the metal, it tore from it's hinges and the way was clear. Mischa rewarded him with an admiring smile as they continued at pace, not wanting to give the Private time to think and potentially second guess their course of action. Across the bridge they found themselves in a dimly lit construction site as the adjoining tower was still undergoing refurbishment at this level. Their pace slowed as they cautiously eased forwards, Mischa clinging tightly to the troopers arm as much to maintain the air of fear as to keep a hold of him should she suddenly need to act. "I will assume you are responsible for the chaos the bridge" came a mechanical sounding greeting from the shadows ahead as the Knight stepped forwards. Mischa knew the situation was more delicate than ever and could only hope that the Knight would comprehend the situation as long as she acted fast enough if she was to maintain their cover with the Private, "Oh, thank the stars - a /real/ Jedi!..." she exclaimed, "...You have to help us! Someone - a force user - is attacking the conference and going for Imperials, our dashing escort here got us away but I bet they'd be following any minute!" She stepped a tad closer to the Knight emphasizing the double meaning of her words with her gaze, "I do hope you have come prepared!" though her words were vague she calculated the Knight - who she knew to be intelligent and insightful - understood that she expected him to have the lizard with him.
Before the Knight had opportunity to respond to Mischa, the distinct hum of a lightsaber powering up came from behind them. Turning to see, the group would be greeted by the sight of the pink-skinned Twi'lek first spotted tailing them the night before. She now stood directly behind the group with a dualsaber coloured to match her lekku drawn out behind her, "Well I must say, that was far less subtle than I had expected from you Imperials. Though I am glad the detective played his part well enough to convince you to act." Mischa bolted to the toroper's side, mainly so she had a firm grip once more to pull him to safety if things got ugly but still maintaining her cover, "See! I told you, they are hunting us Imperials, please don't let them hurt us!"
The Private stopped in his tracks as he saw the caped figure, his gaze darting back at the appearance of the pink Twi'lek, then again to the armoured man, "But he...he looks more like a Sith. I've never seen one personally but that's how they're dressed in the war footage we've watched..."
"Stand down, soldier. I am not a Sith," the Knight ordered.
Conflicted, the trooper looked between the masked man and his fellow Twi'lek, unable to decide who to trust. When his eyes had returned to the Knight, he was accompanied by another woman who was not among the Imperials he was escorting. Hanna Swan had stepped out from the shadows, a large lizard perched on her shoulder, its head peering out curiously while its tail dangled down her arm.
"No matter," he continued. "Fan'Gwathren, we have the Senator's ysalamir. You'll find that you can no longer tap into the power of the Force. Should you happen to know how to fight without it, we outnumber still you- four to two, even if the trooper decides to join you. This does not need to end in violence. Surrender. All we want are answers."
Mischa couldn't help butsmile to herself at the Knight once again being mistaken for a Sith, though she regretted the circumstances of it at the moment. She watched nervously as the Private backed away from her to keep both force users in view, "I... I don't trust either of you!" He declared in an attempt at an assertive voice. Fan was clearly not amused by the presence of the Senator's ysalamir lizard, though be it because it hampered her abilities or demonstrated a weakness in the Senator's orvanization that they could take it to begin with, was anyone's guess, "So this is the best you can do? A broken Knight, a civilian, two Imperials, an astromech and a boy who looks set to wet himself!" She scoffed; her tone more playful and entertained than anything else. The Private did not care for the insult and found new resolve from it as his face grew stern; his hands firmly gripping the rifle as he boldly stepped in front of Mischa and Kelly, "This is your last warning: Whoever you are and whatever you want these two, I am duty bound to protect them while they are here on Coruscant. If that means shooting down a Jedi - or whatever you really are - thrn so be it!" Fan bowed her head towards Mischa and Kelly, "Bravo! You managed to play the child beautifully. Let me guess... the seductress..." she mused looking at Kelly, "No... you..." she turned to Mischa, "The innocent little damsel in distress!" To which Mischa responded by poking her tongue out at Fan, knowing the Private could not see. The Knight of course could and were he not wearing his mask then all would see the eye roll at her action. The Knight turned to Fan, "Enough games! Showboat all you want, but we both know you can not stand against all of us. Now what is the Senator up to and what is your involvement with the rogue Imperial?"
As everyone else conversed, Kelly carefully took note of their surroundings. The mostly unfinished upper levels of the adjacent tower were held up by the building's support pillars, with many of the walls still yet to be put into place. This created several large gaps that made anyone inside uncomfortably exposed; while this was not as much a safety concern for the workers, it made the area a poor choice of battlefield. Kelly's military experience allowed her to identify and examine all the potential sniper nests around them, but even then she was nearly too late when she spotted what she had feared. "Get down!" she shouted a warning to Mischa and the others. Kelly pounced for Swan, her instincts telling her that the bearer of the ysalamir lizard was the most probable target. Her intervention was just in time to knock the doctor aside, but instead put herself into harm's way. The motion made it impossible for the shot to do any major damage, but the bolt grazed Kelly's arm, tearing through her sleeve and leaving a burn on the side of her biceps. Swan lost her balance from the shove, dropping to the ground though she managed to roll and regain her footing in a manner that showed some degree of either acrobatic or martial arts training. The maneuver, however, had knocked the ysalamir off her body and the lizard lay on its front in the sunlight, forked tongue extended in an attempt to determine its surroundings. Ignoring her injury, Kelly ran for the lizard, reaching with her unhurt arm. It was then that Dr. Swan decided to repay her savior. She noticed the ray of light shining on the ysalamir's body and surmised that whoever fired at them would likely have a clear shot on the lizard's location as well. When she saw Kelly sprinting towards it, she intercepted her, grabbing on to her before she could enter the danger zone. The second bolt hit nothing but floor, branding a smoking hole in the new tiling. That was enough to frighten the ysalamir, which darted off and disappeared from view, taking its Force-nullifying field with it...
Fan smirked at the opening presenting when it did. With a sideways sweep of her hand she sent the Private tumbling backwards into Mischa; the two of them left in a crumpled heap on the floor. She turned on the knight and flourished her dualsaber as she dropped into a prone stance. Mischa watched the movement unfold around her as she pulled the Private back behind a pillar and into cover from the sniper. Grabbing his rifle which now lay at their feet she yanked it back too just before another bolt soared by to leave another scorch mark in the floor where the weapon had lay. She turned it on Fan but knew the Force user would be too well prepared to intercept any weapons fire and so adjusted he aim up some; opening fire on the ceiling above the Twi'lek to shower her in debris in the hopes of creating an opening to disarm her.
While Fan dealt with the Private and Mischa, the Knight began to draw his lightwhip, and the flexible beam of plasma was already fully extended by the time she was ready to use her weapon against him. He swung before Mischa's distraction, expecting his to work as a distraction instead as he aimed to wrap his whip around her dualsaber, the longer handle of the design giving ample room for the burning cord to tie itself and subsequently sever the weapon. He did not expect this to actually work on the first attempt and went for a straightforward attack instead of making use of less predictable angles which was the whip's specialty. In the meantime, Kelly and Dr. Swan both took cover behind separate beams as they evaded the sniper's sight. "I don't suppose you have a weapon?" the Imperial asked. "Well I do!" the doctor replied. "But they sort of don't reach more than a few centimetres!" "Great," Kelly muttered before raising her voice so that she could be heard clearly. "Well I'll try to draw fire, the weapon seems to be set on single shot for accuracy. Once the bolt hits something, run towards the others, they've got good cover behind that wall! The trooper or your Jedi friend might have something we could use too." Searching around desperately for a distraction, Kelly could find none and decided that the best course of action was to remove her shirt. Ripping off the already broken sleeve, she turned the cloth into a makeshift bandage for her wound before tossing the rest of the garment into the sunlight. As expected, a bolt tore straight through it, and taking their cue, both women sprinted towards Mischa and the Private.
Fan leaped back as the debris fell down on the spot where she had stood, landing just in time to launch her weapon into a rapid spin - held out in front - which served to form a virtually solid barrier against the unpredictable light whip. It was not a defense which she could maintain for more than a few seconds, but timed right it was just enough to repel the whip. Seeing the Twi'lek momentarily distracted, Mischa turned the rifle towards the approximate source of the sniper and laid down covering fire while Kelly and the doctor moved. As the two reached their sides she looked them both over, "You two alright?" another bolt skimmed the wall beside them, forcing Mischa into an involuntary recoil before they could answer. She turned her attention square to Kelly, "What have we got up there, single shooter?"
The Knight's initial strike was knocked aside but he continued the attack. The lightwhip was not a defensive weapon, but he knew full well that the saberstaff was. Working on the idea that the best defense was a good offense, the Knight unleashed one swing after another, varying his angles so that his blows would be harder to parry. He did not expect to get through to her though, instead attempting to keep her occupied and denying her any chance to retaliate while his allies regrouped. Kelly and Hanna quickly reached Mischa's location, the latter answering her question with, "We're fine, but your friend took a hit." "It was just a graze," Kelly shrugged off the doctor's concern. "I only saw one person, and the frequency of shots supports it. They've got a good spot almost half a klick away-" her eyes ran over the Private's rifle which Mischa now held, "that blaster isn't going to be much use at this range."
Mischa nodded, "We need a better plan; that's too far to act directly" she looked around the area to gauge potential alternatives like luring Fan away from the snipers line of sight, or some other environmental condition they could use to even the playing field.
"We can lure her deeper into the building," Kelly suggested. "Or the skybridge," Hanna joined in, resulting in a surprised glance from Kelly. "We checked this place out, there's virtually no security here yet. We can go in and out of the maintenance areas, even under the bridge. She'll never fall for being pushed away from her allies but if she doesn't know the building as well as we do she'll think she's the one luring us to the open bridge top when we start going that way." "It's not the worst plan I've heard," judged Kelly. "And by the looks of things when we crossed earlier the bridge isn't finished yet. Destroying a few of the critical supports could collapse it, if we need a big explosion as a last resort..."
Mischa nodded her agreement as she glanced out at the sparring Force users, "Alright Kelly; we can use these pillars to maneuver through cover into a flanking position against the Twi'lek. She should see our move and anticipate our intention. Doctor; when you see the Twi'lek's focus shift to us I need you to get the knight's attention so he knows we are acting with purpose. With any luck, she will turn to counter our attempted flank and force us to flee across the skyrbridge with her in pursuit. Any questions?"
"Sounds good," Kelly nodded before turning to Hanna. "Could I have a knife? You said you had two, right? It'll make me look more convincing, and we're probably not going to get close enough to actually cut her or anything so you won't need both." "Just don't lose it," the doctor reached behind her back, retrieving one of her vibroknives and handing it over to the Imperial. Kelly took the knife by its grip, turning it over to give it a quick inspection, "Oh, that's a quality brand. I'll try not to throw it away needlessly. Anyhow...we're ready." "Do I get my blaster back, or?" the Twi'lek private looked to his rifle, currently held in Mischa's grip.
Mischa flushed slightly as she timidly returned the Privates rifle, "Sorry... I guess some of that military training stuck with me after all!" She chuckled. With a final glance towards the action she signed to the others to follow one at a time before diving out and towards the next pillar. A bolt whistled by but the sudden movement was too short and sharp for the sniper to compensate. The group worked they way around the rooms perimeter with little of consequence from the sniper. Fan saw them move in her periphery and with a sweeping motion; threw a blast of rippling energy at the Knight while swinging her weapon in a wide arc towards the group as she leaped closer. The blade swung too short to be a threat to them but her intent became clear as she continued the sweep through her landing to flourish the blade with increased momentum and launch it at those she first saw. Mischa and the Private ducked left and right as the weapon tore through their cover and sliralled between them; showering them both with sparks. Seeing the futility of their move, they rose and the Private laid down suppressing fire as they backtracked towards the skybridge - turning and sprinting down its length as Fan was momentarily pushed back by the forced defense. As he was staggered by Fan's blast, the Knight saw a signal from Dr. Swan and paused to assess the unfolding situation. Seeing what the Imperials were up to he feigned a greater stagger to play up the degree of staggering he suffered so Fan would see him as a lesser threat and pursue the others. As she turned to give chase across the skybridge he followed with haste through the shadows knowing that by the time she saw his move; they would have her cut off. With Fan following and gaining fast, Mischa feigned a slip and dropped while clutching her ankle. The Private saw her fall and turned his weapon on the approaching Twi'lek, "I'm warning you; stay back!" He ordered while kneeling at her side. Fan smiled playfully as she slowed to a casual pace and strutted closer.
Kelly and Hanna moved with the others, using pillars for cover as they made for a flanking position. When the doctor sprinted ahead however, Kelly stopped in her tracks, seeing the stumbled Knight all alone as Fan began to give chase. A combination of wishing to reinforce the less numerous side and lingering mistrust for the ex-Jedi caused her to stop and duck behind a pile of metal plates, well out of Fan's field of view while she went after Mischa and the others. Once the pink-skinned Twi'lek had gone ahead, Kelly rejoined beside the Knight to block off Fan's escape. Seeing her take a position behind him, the Knight unhooked a concussion grenade from his belt and tossed it to Kelly. "It's over," Kelly brandished Dr. Swan's vibroknife whilst holding the grenade in her other hand. "You can't beat all of us." "We're not here to kill you. That's not our objective," the Knight joined in. "You have talent with the Force, you must have sensed it. You know that Chiss spy does not have the best interests of the Republic in mind. Why are you helping him? What is he planning with the Senator? Speak with us, we don't need to be enemies!"
Fan turned with a sneer at seeing their ploy. Whilst she was perfectly capable she knew that the combined forces surrounding her would force an opening for at least one before she could take the last of them down. She glared back to the Knight, "And I suppose you'd have me trust a fallen Jedi; known Imperial collaborator? I assume you are still holding to the dellusion that you are not a Sith" she scoffed, turning her attention to the Imperial at his side, "And the Ciphers former partner is of course here in the company of Imperial Intelligence just to bring him in too!"
"Isn't giving Imperial companies business in the Republic also a kind of collaborating?" Hanna asked back. "What about handing so many of our systems over to them, abandoning our people to be labourers and slaves? We've all had to make compromises since the Treaty. The galaxy's not black and white, sometimes you're going to have to work with the people you used to fight in order to survive. And this Cipher you're working with, he's running around killing innocent upstanding citizens like my father- it's not our problem if he's gone rogue and his own people want him dead, we need to stop him." "This is not the time for political debates, doctor," the Knight spoke again once she had finished. "If you will not cooperate then we will make you talk."
Fan considered the brazen doctor; she could hear the conviction behind the girls words - she believed what she was saying. Fan lowered her weapon, though kept it powered, "First things first; let me be abundantly clear; Cipher 16 is an enemy of the Republic and I will not be deceived into letting him go. You are here - known cohorts of the agents and Imperial sympathisers - if you are going to try and convince me otherwise... make it good or prepare to defend yourselves!"
"I am not an Imperial sympathizer," the Knight snapped back aggressively before returning his voice to a more moderate tone as he too lowered his whip. "If you agree that Cipher Sixteen is dangerous, then we are on the same side. I do not know what your Senator wants with him, but the moment I saw him I felt the corruption, the same raw power that rivaled my former apprentice, one of the strongest Force users I know." "We don't know what he's up to, either," Kelly clarified. "We're not here to extract him, we're not even sure he's on our side anymore." "The way I see it, we're all missing some pieces of the picture," Hanna reasoned. "Why don't we have a nice civil talk and figure out who's on which side before we start fighting? I'll start with what I know- I got a message telling me that my father, the aide of a Corellia Councillor, was found murdered, so I went back to my homeworld. I made some funeral arrangements, but I also snuck into some places I wasn't strictly allowed, and I ran into this ex-Jedi Knight here. He told me he was tailing this Chiss spymaster who he suspected to be responsible for my father's death. I helped him ID some bio samples, he helped me access security footage and question the local underworld. We found out that a Chiss was on the planet; we didn't have any specific evidence that he committed the murder, but we weren't going to court or anything. I tagged along to help catch my father's killer when the Jedi went off-world to pursue the lead further. Once we knew what alias he used on Corellia the rest of the trail unraveled, and it led us to the capital of Sullust, then a research lab on Endor-" "You weren't supposed to say that," interjected the Knight. "We're laying all our cards on the table, okay? Keeping secrets isn't going to help this situation," the doctor responded. "Anyhow, there was one ship leaving the planet that day, and he was sure he felt the 'corruption' disappear when it lifted off. That ship came to Coruscant, so we followed. We lost him here, but we found you," she looked to Fan, "stalking the Imperials who my Jedi companion claimed he had met before, so we sought them out. Unfortunately it seems they knew about as much as we did, they had no idea if their Chiss was on a mission or going rogue, or why he's working with this Shadow Guard to take out random Republic civilians and crime lords. We decided to team up and find you to see if you know anything we don't, which brings us to now." Having concluded her story, Hanna glanced around at the others, her gaze darting from person to person expectantly as she awaited their narrative of events.
Fan smirked as Hanna undermined all their intelligence games and half truths. She looked to the Knight, "She'd be cute if she wasn't so naive. Disappointing the child of a deep cover agent - your standards are slipping Knight" Mischa could almost hear the scowl on the Knights face at Fan's taunt. Hoping to divert attention before Hanna realized what was said, she stepped up; shrugging off the cautious hand of the protective Private, "That doesn't change the fact that she is right. Cipher 16 is a rogue element clearly compromised to the point of playing both sides in this cold war. The question remains whether you will look past any preconceptions and work with us to reign him in... or if you will prove yourself to be equally corrupt by aiding him further in your hinderence of our mission" Fan slowly turned back to face Mischa as she spoke; a knowing smile forming across her lips, "So the new Cipher finally reveals herself" she incorrectly surmised from Mischa's confident approach, "So be it agent. You want to play nice? I will play nice; if nothing else then just to ensure you do not double cross me to attempt an extraction of him. Because if you do; the young Doctor here will be the first to fall, followed by your pet trooper" she dinally powered off her saber and stood ready. Mischalooked to the trooper then back to the others, she was clearly considering what to do about him now they had all been exposed to him. One thing she knew; they could not risk him returning to his Sergeant and telling all. Mischa focused on the two Force users and addressed the Knight, "How are you with mind tricks?"
"It's not my specialty," the Knight shrugged. "I cannot alter another's memories like the Jedi Council once did to Revan, but I may be able to confuse the weak minded about the last few minutes. Someone more dedicated to studying such intricate techniques will know more than I do, but I can attempt it if I must." In the meantime, Hanna blinked at Fan, pondering her words before she looked to the Knight, then back at the pink-skinned Twi'lek, "What did you call me?" "Cute," Kelly quipped. "Not that!" she responded quickly and continued to stare at Fan, "The other thing..."
"Naive" Fan corrected, "I also said you were naive to be so deep into all of this and not even know that the father who's death you are so vigilantly investigating was in fact an Imperial agent." Mischa sighed as more unwelcome truths came to the surface. She could already see Hanna looking to her for clarification; her house of cards slowly crumbling from behind her eyes, "She is correct" Mischa confirmed, "That is why we are investigating Cipher 16's actions. Whatever he is up to; he is involved with the Senator, which I guess is why you are also keeping tabs on him?" She asked of Fan who gave a single nod in respose as Mischa continued, "It would seem both are working independently of the good for either side. This is clearly an unacceptable risk to us all and must be contained." She looked to the Knight, "If you think you can do it, I see little other choice...." She was interrupted by the sound of a rifle cocking behind her and she turned to see the Private aiming his weapon across the group, "Don't talk about me like I am not here" he insisted, "I know what tou are suggesting and I won't let you do it" he gave a long pause before lowering his weapon, "...and I won't give you cause to" he focused on Mischa, "I knew you were too good to be true. I may not know exactly what is going on here. But I recognise a threat to the Republic when I see one. Whatever needs to be done... count me in" Mischa offered a meek smile in response as her gratitude.
"So my father was a spy planted in the Corellian government?" Hanna asked for clarification. "After all this time? Actually...don't answer that, I know we've got more important things to deal with right now." The Knight nodded in response, "I can sense him. He's here." He looked to his fellow ex-Jedi for confirmation, but before Fan could respond a sharp metallic whine pierced all their ears, drowning out any attempt at conversation. Beams of light began to shine down at them, causing Kelly to jump back as she thought it was the streak of a laser weapon. When she looked up to find its source, the beam had turned into a bright spotlight on the group and she realized that the cause of the light was the ceiling above them being pried apart and then torn off. Entire plates of metal that formed the surface walkway of the skybridge were ripped away as if sucked up by a vacuum, leaving the maintenance path underneath exposed. Several of these pieces hung in the air, rotating idly before getting faster and faster and suddenly crashing down with incredible momentum. One of them descended straight for Kelly and the Knight. Dropping his lightwhip, the armoured man threw up both arms and swung them from one side of his body to the other. The plate mirrored his movement, flying away from its target and the bridge though not before slamming into one of the standing lampposts on the side of the bridge, knocking it over the edge as well. When the crashing had subsided, almost half of the bridge's surface was gone, with only the underside holding the structure up. A hooded figure approached from the section of walkway that was still intact, a sniper rifle resting over his shoulder, robes fluttering in the wind. When he reached the edge he dropped his weapon into the maintenance area and leapt down after it. A particularly strong gust caught him at that moment and blew off his robe, the grey cloth swaying in the breeze, left behind like shed snakeskin. Its wearer landed on his feet, his form revealed, the new skin no more appealing than the old. The figure had pieces of steel-coloured armour that in pristine condition would have shined in the morning light, but were now covered by a blackish rust. His visage bore a similar taint, with dark patches corrupting the blue of his face. Two glowing red eyes stared out from the blackness, and with neither pupil nor iris it was difficult to distinguish who exactly its flaming gaze had set upon. "I expected better from experienced spies such as yourselves," he spoke. "Thank you for your initiative, Fan- gathering all our enemies in once place? I am impressed."
Fan looked around after evading the collapsing stucture, her focus more on assessing the situation in the seconds that time seemed to slow afterwards. Her gaze fell towards Mischa and Hanna as she saw the Imperial dive for the young doctor as the debris fell towards her. Mischa had been successful in saving the doctor but what Fan didn't realise until this moment was that Mischa had been forced to react on impulse as the debris fell either side of her towards both the doctor and the trooper. As Mischa stood, pulling Hanna back to her feet; she caught Fan's gaze and slowly followed it towards where the Private had been stood. Her heart sank as she already knew what had occurred; The Private - slowed by the bulk and weight of his armour - had been unable to evade the structure collapsing around them. Mischa knew this would be the case but had to choose between him and Hanna, and her protective instinct always fell towards the innocent civilian first even though she was personally closer to the Private. Fan could see the fury burning in the Imperials eyes and turned from Mischa to look up at their assailant, "I could smell the corruption in you from the moment you first presented to us. I will not allow you or anyone else to compromise the Senator" she shouted up to him. "I should have known it was you shooting back there..." Mischa chimed in, "...This corruption they speak of must run deep to throw your aim so bad that you must resort to... this! Now why don't you come down here and face me like a real agent of the Empire... and die with wjatever honour you think have left still intact!" As Mischa taunted the rogue agent, Hanna - who was stood somewhat behind her - slipped her second blade into Mischa's palm that was folded at her back. It was a minor weapon, but she could only home that it was better than nothing for her saviour to defeat this foe. Little did she know that it was Mischa's forté...
The Chiss agent drew a vibroknife sheathed on the side of his armour, though he did not advance towards Mischa, instead holding his ground, "I've read your personnel files, agent, reviewed your mission debriefs. You operate with care for your fellow citizens, even ones you do not know," he motioned to Hanna. "You understand the value of cooperating with your enemy to confront a greater foe," his gaze trailed to the Knight before returning to her. "The Empire you serve is in danger from the very man...the creature that rules it."