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Gathering Storm

Cold and harsh, the entire planet is covered in tundra and ice, and holds vast reserves of diamonds. Adopted homeworld of the Arkanians.

Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Jax Xefern » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:57 am

"Look at us, bonding and what not." He chuckled through his comm unit. "Deal, one table and two loam ales. Might even feed you if you keep me from getting eaten once or twice." Honestly, Jax had no reason to think they'd be anything but alive in three days. Things were actually going quite well so far as he was concerned. Four people, two shooters, two anchors, and nobody was dead yet. Not even on the other side... cost wise they were ahead of the curve by Jax's calculation.

"We could find definitely find some incriminating evidence, the team leader has the dirty version compared to what the corporate file or project manager tends to have on hand. Lots of stuff, extraneous information, all sorts of things that could be of use in making them pay for their transgressions." Legal transgressions and transgressions against Mandalorian reputation alike. "If not, it will be adjacent to the research lab or whatever they are using for one. If we don't find what we want in the office we can get plenty of video evidence that will be just as incriminating." Though he'd rather not enter the source of those things if he didn't have to.

"Left? Huh." He was staring down the hallway and... he only saw one door on the left. The darkened space, the flashing lights, made seeing very far something of a chore though. "Alright Levin, you secure this entry way. Make sure these doors don't secure behind us but keep them closed until we turn up. I don't want you getting bum rushed while we are out of position to help you. Monitor our channel, update Hettir, stay secure. Come on, Auren. Cover our six." Jax stepped into the hallway, pinging the darkness ahead every seven steps or so just to be sure.

After twenty paces he activated helmet-mounted glowtube, the small but high intensity beam cutting through the gloom wherever he turned his helmet.
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Auren Donos » Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:25 am

"Okay, so you'll feed me for saving your ass a couple of times," grinned Auren, quickly tearing through as much as she could on the computer, and coming up with nothing of use. it was tempting as all hell to fry the computer systems with her disruptor, but that would likely set off the security systems, and they didn't have the time to be dealing with druk like that.

"Okay, I get your drift," chuckled Auren, pulling away from the terminal and checking her weapons once more. Everything seemed in order, and she readied the blaster again. Not her weapon of choice, not really, but it was the best possible solution for the situation they found themselves in. "Lemme guess... there's a whole bunch of this information you can sell on, right?" She couldn't blame him if that was the case. After all, what else would make this a lucrative mission? As far as she was aware, he wasn't being paid by anyone in particular for all this.

Nodding Auren checked her blaster once more, and fell into step behind Jax as he headed down the darkened corridor, the flashing lights distracting to say the least, even with the glowtube lighting the path in front of them. Their footsteps made an eerie thock-thock-thock on the floor, and the light from Auren's blaster swept through the gloom behind them as she kept an eye on their six.

"So tell me again why we're doing this," she said, her voice mildly joking. Tghere was always time for a little humour.
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Jax Xefern » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:18 am

"There are other kinds of profit, other kinds of pay, but yeah. We probably could generate more than a few credits off of any rough data we acquire. The Kaminoans are always interested in the competition's work, though usually not enough to cause people to go out of their way to acquire it." Incidental profit was good profit, as long as one didn't compromise solid operating procedure because of it. Jax was getting a greater and greater idea of the layout of the structure as he pinged the hallway ahead of them. The first door on their left had been a very small security post or a janitor's office if they didn't automate such things.

To his right were a series of meeting rooms. Single spaces, attached freshers, large tables. It likely gave visiting officials and the like the feeling they'd been permitted access to the structure without actually letting them anywhere near the actual interior of the structure. The rest of the data coming back said they were in a stone corridor with metal facing over a layer of plumbing, wiring, and ventilation feeds. Finally, one of his pings returned something different. He groaned within the confines of his helmet and then clicked on his mic. "Incident site up ahead."

As they approached he made sure his glow tube beam fell on the spot. A door was bent inward enough for Jax, even in his armor, to step through the hole and there were papers scattered about in the hallway. He approached slowly, pinging repeatedly, and scanned the interior of the room beyond the door with his weapon. An office, wrecked like a mad bantha had just taken a tantrum in there, and there was some blood splatter across the back wall. Green, the color of Arkanian blood. There was nothing else in there, aside from three chairs and a shattered desk. Jax turned his weapon down the hallway again.

"We were contracted to sort out a suspicious vessel in a colony system. We geared up and came directly but the colony had apparently waited too long to put out the job because by the time we arrived it was all over. Even a small group of Jedi had appeared in reaction to an emergency call from one of their own. We retrieved data on the situation and decided to investigate because, frankly, we don't like to lose and the key to not losing is to know everything you can about those who manage to beat you." He examined his mapping function once more and nodded to himself. "Second door on the left, coming up."

He set them off again in that direction.
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Auren Donos » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:29 am

The Mandalorians, by all accounts, especially the bounty hunters and mercenaries, didn't do anything unless it was at the right price. Auren wasn't far off that in terms of philosophy, and could understand that point of view only too well. It came as something of a surprise to her that Jax had apparently taken on this job relatively altruistically, and may, by all accounts, be out of pocket just in paying her fees. "So everythin' they say about you Mandos is a lie, huh," she grinned, shrugging with a mischievous twitch to her shoulders. "You're not all money grabbin' bastards who'd sell their own grandmother for a fistful of credits?" Of course, she already knew the answer to that, and was doing nothing but teasing.

She followed Jax, her gun sweeping the hallway behind them, revealing nothing. Not a sound, other than their footsteps and her breathing, just the feeling of hurried, terrified abandonment of the facility. Whatever the reason for the place being left in a hurry, Auren was certain it was nothing good.

Jax's warning was the first indication that he had found some evidence as to what had happened, and Auren drew in a sharp breath as she looked at the door. "Skrog," she muttered, keeping her gun trained on the hallway as Jax surveyed whatever had happened inside. "What's in there," she asked, even as he withdrew and pointed down the hallway again.

"It was a rhetorical question," replied Auren, a slight chuckle in her voice. The chuckle, though, was slightly strained and nervous, and didn't carry the same levity it had earlier in the day. Whatever was going on here wasn't something that she liked the look of. "Roger that," she replied to Jax, once more keeping her gun trained behind. "Wanna wager that beer on whatever we find in there," sad Auren, her voice flippant. "Or are those stakes gonna be a bit hight for either of us?"
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Jax Xefern » Mon Aug 18, 2014 12:26 am

"Depends on what 'everything' covers and who is saying it, most of the time people don't know half of what they think they know about any given subject. The rest of the time they know even less. We don't talk about our culture to outsiders often and when we do it tends to re-secret itself through circumstance." Because they usually only discussed it with people who showed genuine curiosity -and- potential, meaning most of them then ended up joining and it was like the information never left the mouth of a Mandalorian to begin with. "Funny thing is, when people don't know they tend to start guessing. Anything is better than the unknown to most Aureutiise." Jax glanced back at her and tilted his head in a way that suggested he was smiling at her. "Not our grandmothers. No."

Jax came out of the room and let her look for herself, but he answered the question all the same. "I'm no crime scene reconstruction expert but if the answer was important I'd guess somebody was in the hallway, spotted their attacker for what he/she/it was and attempted to find shelter in that office. The door didn't withstand the assault, the somebody was attacked violently... their body removed." It hadn't been dragged, the puddle of blood behind the desk and the lack of a drag trail said that much for certain.

They reached a t-junction with the hall they were in continuing to run straight and another off to the right that descended swiftly down a slope into darkness rhythmically broke by orange emergency strobes. Right in the middle of the floor of the t-junction, however, was something far more interesting. A hole large enough for Jax, in his full armor and with back pack on, to drop through without touching the sides. Jax pointed his headlamp down it and echoed a ping down. Just as he'd feared, they were directly over a ventilation shaft that likely split through a series of smaller crawl vents to bring warm, geothermally heated air up from deep within the planet... or at the very least the HVAC plant of the building. "Well, that's concerning."
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Auren Donos » Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:32 pm

"So it's not all poodoo, got it," chuckled Auren. "Maybe I'm gonna have to take up your invitiation to Concord Dawn and see it for myself. What d'you reckon?" Sounded to her like the Mandalorians might just be onto something when it came to keeping your own counsel, as well as managing to cloak your entire civilisation in such an air of mystery that the entire galaxy wondered who you were and what you were really up to.

"Okay, would you sell my grandmother for me if I asked nicely enough?" Auren's chuckle turned into a laugh, and she shook her head, almost as though she were shaking off the humour and getting back to business. "Doesn't look pretty," she said soberly, before reverting to type. "Remind me not to hire this interior designed for when I get my ship." It was carnage, pure and simple, with more blood spilt that Auren would have thought was in the human body.

Then again, maybe the dead thing wasn't human anyway.

However, she couldn't dwell on that for long. The journey down the hall was curtailed all too rapidly, a vast hole in the middle of the floor at the T-junction where two corridors joined. She let out a low, quiet whistle. "I'm gonna bet that's more than just your common or garden bull rancor having a temper tantrum."
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Jax Xefern » Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:17 am

"Shades of the truth hidden in wild guesses and built up spacer's tales. Enough reality that we don't have to take acting classes to reinforce our reputations, not enough that anyone's going to be teaching a class in Mandalorian Psychology at the Galactic University on Coruscant any time soon." He glanced at her in his HUD with her next question, just to see how serious she was being. "I think that'd be just fine." A mystery it might largely be but the Mandalorian reputation wasn't usually of the type that invited curiosity. It took a special kind of person to find it compelling enough to want to look closer.

Jax chuckled, and let it come across the comm line as well. "Because I like you, I'll broker the deal for a 3% finders fee. The real question is are you doing it because you don't like her or because you're broke and don't have anything else to pawn?" He'd seen it go both ways, though slaving was a wildly unpopular and illegal practice in the Mandalorian Sector. Any Mando'ade who went into the galaxy to be a merc or bounty hunter eventually had to come to terms with the fact that either job meant spending an excessive amount of time with people who were perfectly ok with it as long as they themselves weren't the ones in chains. Jax had occasionally taken an opportunity to ruin a slaver's day, when he could get away with it, but that left plenty of people going to auction block while he stood by and watched. That was the reality of the galaxy.

"One of my cousins has an eye for unique organizational devices and storage spaces, you can reach him through that card I gave you." Yes, she was being rhetorical. Yes, he was advertising another service the Clan provided. They all had their way of coping.

Jax leaned out enough to look down. There was the occasional gouge mark in the wall of the shaft and he figured the entire splay was only about a foot or so across. "Not big enough for a Rancor, damn our luck. They may be tough but they're fairly slow and easy to hit. Just got to play run and gun with'em until they fall. Worse, though, is that this means the things have access to every level below us and unless we're lucky, they'll have done the same thing to the main exhaust vent leading out of the top of the structure, so that means access to every level above for what that's worth... and we can't pass this hole without the things having a way to get behind us..." He made a vexed sounding noise by sucking air and spit through his upper teeth.

Jax stood there for a long moment before making a decision. He set his heavy blaster rifle aside and knelt by the hole. "Keep an eye out," he said as he pulled a set of directional shrapnel mines out of his gear which he proceeded to begin attaching inside the hole, both angled to fire in a ballistic line that would shred anything in the mouth of the gap itself. He then pulled and set trip wires that crossed the mouth of the chasm itself and attached them o the other side before carefully reaching through and arming the mines. "It might not penetrate those armored plates but the impact should knock them around and those plates weren't full coverage to begin with, by the looks of them." He stood, grabbed his weapon, and, pausing but a moment to prepare himself mentally, pressed the door controls on the door that flanked the hole.

He swept the interior with his weapon and head lamp one good time. It was a large, stereotypical lab. As clean as they came and instantly, Jax decided, a complete fake. A stage, so to speak, for impressing visitors. "This isn't what we're looking for, lets keep moving."
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Auren Donos » Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:56 pm

Auren grinned. "So it's politics, then," she replied, her voice a studied nonchalance. "Lies wrapped in truth, wrapped in lies. Got it." Simplistic enough, really. If you wanted someone to believe something, give it just enough of a grain of truth to make it plausible, then let the story grow organically. It certainly seemed to be an approach that worked for most governments, for good or for ill.

She nodded as Jax's head turned to face her, properly regarding her for the first time in a while. Clearly, something she had said was piquing his interest. "Okay, that's settled then. Let me know when's good for a visit, and I'll be sure to slot you into my hgely busy social life." The sarcasm dripped from her words like honey. When it came to a social life, all she had was a few beers when she hit the bars on various words, and the odd fuck-and-run with whoever took her fancy at the time. Riveting, it was not.

Laughing at the whole "grandmother" thing, Auren shook her head. "Oh, definitely because she's just a crazy bitch who I can't stand," she replied, her voice most definitely joking. "Get rid of her in a comedy fashion, and your fee goes up." Her voice might have been sober, but her eyes were sparkling with utter mischief. She rolled her eyes, though, as he plugged yet another' cousin's business. "I'll be sure to bear him in mind when I want the perfect bedroom mapped out, then."

Nodding as Jax lamented that the hole was too small for a rancor, Auren cursed under her breath. Nothing was ever simple, was it? She didn't need to be told to keep an eye out, and she swept a slow, deliberate arc around all three directions as Jax set his traps. "If we can slow the bastard down, it'll be a start," she said, her voice grim and hard, an indication of the battle-ready Auren whome Jax had not yet seen. Gone was the humour, the willingness to banter. Now, she was all business, ready to kill should the need arise, without a second thought.

Not many women were capable of that.

Auren had a quick peek inside the lab, only to agree with Jax. Nothing about it said that it was ever used, and it looked almost two-dimensional.

Like a hologram.

She arced an eyebrow up, cocking her head towards the room. "Obviously not a real lab... but is it a real room at all," she asked. "You able to use those scanners to tell whether that's a hologram?"
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Jax Xefern » Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:27 am

"If we wanted anything political out of it... or were responsible for it in the first place... I suppose it would be. It's just a reputation, though. We do what we do, live by our code as I told it to you, and let the galaxy think what it wants. Fortunately, the rest of the galaxy made us into invincible, unstoppable hunters of men and warriors extraordinaire." The kind of reputation that made a lot of people do really foolish things that only served to strengthen the reputation. It had mostly grown out of the Mandalorian Wars, and the narrow perspective of third parties witness to a Mandalorian bringing down a bounty or defending his or herself against foolhard and under-equipped opponents.

"I'll put in for a couple of days off to show you around, then let drop you a line." That was a new development but he pushed it to the back of his mind. A bug hunt was no time to start thinking social thoughts in earnest.

"Indentured Nerf-herder it is." Oh the stench on those animals, and then it rubbed off on the farmers that cared for the creatures who over years became completely nose deaf to the stink. That was a poetic punishment for an old lady who'd caused too much grief in her pre-golden years. He finished attaching the bombs and paralelled her thought. "If nothing else, those will make a loud enough warning signal that we should hear it if we're anywhere within three levels." Knowing that they'd been flanked was the first step to counteracting the fact.

"It's all real, just not used for anything but stage scenery." Politicians, they just wanted to see a pretty picture before they signed off on subsidies. He moved them further along the hallway, pinging forward and back from time to time just to make sure they weren't walking into anything. And, finally, they were approaching the third door on the left. Above it was clearly marked 'Team Lead: Project Apex.'

Jax checked Auren's position by turning his head, rather than just looking at the HUD, so that she would catch the body language. He set himself in a combat crouch, minimizing himself as a target but keeping his feet under him in case the need to dive out of the way or advance rapidly reared its ugly head. He then nodded toward the door controls to indicate she should open the door...

All that greeted them was a fairly typical office for a working scientist. Stacks of hard copy data, books, datachips, datapads, charts, graphs, old caf cups, boxes of ordered in food, and the like had swallowed the room whole. Jax actually had to ping the 12 x 24 space to be certain there wasn't a person hidden in there somewhere. The desk was to the right, it's back toward that wall, the chairs were under piles of stuff, and there was a relatively clear path from the door they'd opened to the desk chair and another branching path that led to a rounded door set into the far wall labeled "Labratory Access: Authorized Personnel Only".

"I love it when a supposition makes me look clever."
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Re: Gathering Storm

PostAuthor: Auren Donos » Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:32 pm

"Oh, I didn't mean that you were getting anything political out of it," chuckled, Auren, her voice low and amused. "Just that your reputation is pretty much the same as politics. The truth is in there somewhere, but damned if you know for sure what it is." Whatever it was, it certainly served the Mandalorians well.

Auren nodded as Jax offered to get a couple of days off so he could show her around Concord Dawn. "Deal," she said, smiling slightly, even as she kept a keen eye on their surroundings. It wouldn't do to lose concentration, not with the likelihood of one of those creatures prowling around the facility.

A snort of laughter as Jax outlined his idea for this fictional grandmother she hated, and Auren shook her head. "Just so long as I don't have to visit her," she said. "That old lady smell is bad enough, without addin' to it with the stink of nerfs." She nodded with approval at the placement of the explosives. "I'd be worried if it at least didn't do some surface damage to the thing," said Auren. "After all... they can't be totally invulnerable... right?"

And then came the ready signal.

Glancing at the sign on the door, Auren knew that they had hit paydirt, well, at least Jax's version of paydirt. She didn't respond when Jax indicated that she open the door, simply hit the controls and got her blaster ready, sweeping an arc through the room in front of them as the door opened. The room as empty and utterly innocuous, aside from the big sign - it might as well be flashing and flanked with dancing girls, for what appeal it held - and she rolled her eyes at Jax's reaction.

"Not somethin' that happens regularly, big man," she grinned, nodding her head towards the door. "I'd say 'age before beauty', but I'd be screwing myself over, wouldn't I?"
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