Communications Network
Vast Empire  -  New Posts  -  Search  -  Statistics  -  Login 
 
ComNet > Imperial Navy > Archived Naval Story Board > VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
 
 
 
Author
Topic:  VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
Grey
ComNet n00b
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  4
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
June 16, 2011 7:34:52 AM    View the profile of Grey 
Finally, Daina Moontaker thought to herself as the briefing began, I’m getting a chance to do some real field work!  As her handler – Yartros Los, the senior analyst of the Sector’s Imperial Intelligence station to which Daina had been assigned the year before – went through the details of her first independent mission, the young agent from Tatooine felt her heart soar.  Yartros had barely finished his summary before Daina’s excitement peaked, and she could no longer maintain a stoic silence.

“You’re sending me to Corellia?” she asked, surprising even herself with how hopelessly obvious her own excitement was.  Yartros frowned, and stared at her with even more judgment in his eyes than usual.  I am getting better about wearing my feelings on my sleeve, Yartros, she thought, subconsciously biting her lower lip, even if I do still have a long way yet to go.

“Indeed, Daina, Coronet City is on Corellia,” the older man quipped.  “If you’re done personifying the stereotype of the provincial, Outer Rim yokel, perhaps you’d be so good as to convince me you understood the brief?” he asked acidly.

“Yartros,” Daina said, “you consistently underestimate me,” she replied with a smile.  “I’m to cultivate an asset in Coronet City.  Her name is Baritha Sweelm, and she was born and raised in the suburb of Kolene.  Her mother’s Corellian, and her father is from––” Daina glanced at the datapad Yartros had prepared for her, and corrected herself: “father was from Nar Shaddaa, now deceased.  Ms. Sweelm works in the New Republic embassy as a social secretary.”  She arched an eyebrow in challenge.

Yartros grunted.  “And we think she might be amenable to helping the Empire because…?”

“Because her father lost his life to criminality, and because she’s vulnerable: her fiancé of a year and a half just dumped her, and she’s been chronically late with her rent.  I followed the briefing, Yartros.  I’m ready to go into the field.”

“Okay,” the analyst said simply, releasing her from his evaluating gaze.

“Do we think that the New Republic might be close to securing Corellia’s membership?”

“We think it would be helpful to have a friend in the embassy, Daina, and that’s all you need to know,” Yartros said pointedly.

The young agent nodded, raising her hands in a gesture of surrender.  “Yes sir.  Of course.  I appreciate this opportunity.”

“Do the job,” Yartros replied, shooing her out of his office with a dismissive wave.

“I’ll be on the next ship to Corellia,” she assured him, and strode out of the room, still beaming.

---


Coronet City had earned its reputation as “The Jewel of Corellia” – it was truly an urban gem, multifaceted and shot through with lights of countless colors.  Daina marveled at the city’s sprawling spaceport as her passenger liner touched down, and admired the bustling metropolis’s impressive edifices as she made her way to Treasure Ship Row, the fashionable open-air market at the edge of the lower-end Blue Sector.

It was there, at a stall where a male Devaronian was hocking handbags which bore a stunning resemblance to a designer label sold “exclusively on Coruscant,” that Daina first caught sight of her target: Baritha Sweelm was tall, with pale skin and dark brown hair, just as the dossier holos depicted, and she was there, hovering over the alien’s wares.  Daina watched from a distance, waited until Baritha purchased a green over-the-shoulder bag and left the stall, and then hurriedly bought a matching bag of her own from the horned proprietor.  Then, she melted back into the press of shoppers, trailing Baritha Sweelm from an appropriate distance: close enough to maintain contact, but far enough that she wouldn’t be noticed.

And even as the surveillance continued deep into the day, Daina couldn’t stop smiling.  This is fun, she admitted to herself.  But by the time she followed Baritha to the woman’s apartment complex, the imperial agent realized that she was exhausted.  Fun it may be, she thought, but it’s also a lot of work.

Baritha, for her part, seemed to do little over the next few days but work at the New Republic embassy, sleep at her apartment, and shop.  Eventually, on the third day of the op, the dark-haired woman stepped into the refresher at one of the larger retail establishments, and Daina seized the opportunity to check in with her handler.  “Yartros,” she intoned, and a popping sound echoed in her right inner ear, indicating the connection had been opened.  “I found her.”

“What have you learned so far?” he asked, his voice tinny and soft in her ear.

“Well, she seems to enjoy routines, bargains, and solitude.”

“Perhaps she could use a friend,” he said sweetly, and Daina imagined the characteristic look of disgust which probably accompanied the comment.  Yartros was outspoken in his belief that opening oneself to friendship was the highest expression of idiocy.  Which of course only makes you want to befriend him even more, she thought to herself, smiling almost sadly.

“I’m way ahead of you,” was all she said aloud.  “I’ll check back after I’ve made contact.  Out.”  Another pop, and the connection was cut.

A moment later, Baritha walked out of the ‘fresher, clutching her new green handbag.  Daina hugged her identical bag to her chest, feeling the weight of the items she’d carefully arranged inside: datapads loaded with guide information and city maps, a passkey to her hotel suite, and a collection of New Republic credit chips.  “I’m way, way ahead of you,” she whispered as she watched Baritha leave for an adjacent clothier.  Hello, friend, she thought, as she closed the distance to her target...
Chief of Naval Intelligence
Grey
ComNet n00b
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  8
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
June 21, 2011 9:08:09 AM    View the profile of Grey 
Daina Moontaker hurriedly crossed the open-air walkway, following Baritha Sweelm through the etched-transparisteel doors of a chic clothing boutique at the heart of the most fashionable section of Treasure Ship Row.  The prattle and bustle of the Corellian capital city's marketplace shut outside, she quickly spotted her target’s green over-the-shoulder bag resting on a decorative table, and beyond it stood Baritha herself, cooing over a dark indigo-and-violet synth-fabric gown being displayed on a variable-form mannequin which was continuously morphing into various common humanoid dimensions.

As Daina glided across the carpeted floor to the table, still unnoticed by her target, she couldn’t help but grin.  I may be new to this whole “spy” game, the Tatooine native thought to herself, but I’m not so bad a player.  Even as she had the thought, she leaned against the table to admire a different dress on the side opposite from Baritha, and dropped her own green handbag next to its double.  She waited a beat, shook her head as if deciding against making a purchase, and then scooped up her bag and walked out.

Or, at least, that’s what her well-practiced movements looked like to the few casual observers in the clothing store.  In truth, the green bag Daina now clutched was not her own: it was Baritha Sweelm’s, which no doubt contained valuable clues about the young embassy-worker’s day-to-day life.  But, no matter how valuable Baritha’s personal items might be in helping Daina build up a more complete psychological profile of her target, the items Daina had left behind in the other bag would likely prove more important in the grand scheme of the mission.  For the planted bag would serve as bait, leading Baritha straight to Daina, and into whatever psychological trap she chose to prepare.  It was a very old trick, from the trade the Corellians called “the second oldest profession in the Galaxy.”  Amazing how little basic tradecraft has changed, really, Daina thought to herself as she boarded the lift back at her hotel.

---


Daina was lying on her bed, scrolling through Baritha’s scheduling program on the woman’s work datapad, when her snooping was interrupted by the inner-ear popping sound which indicated contact with base.  She rolled to her side and sat up.

“Yartros?” she asked, unable to keep the surprise out of her voice.  “Why are you calling me?”  The comm implants were wondrous devices, but they had a notoriously short operational battery life, so most of the time handlers allowed their agents to decide when to check in.  Unless there’s a problem, she thought with a frown.

“We’re getting increased traffic all along the Nets: we think Tal Diarbach may be abroad.”  Yartros’s voice was calm, but Daina could hear a feint edge of anxiety in his tone: he was excited at the prospect, and more than a little scared by it.

Tal Diarbach was a notorious crime lord, and while his gang’s territory did not border any of the systems administered by the resurgent Empire under Grand Admiral Thrawn, he was nonetheless considered an enemy by the regime.  Diarbach’s a criminal, and a dangerous one at that, Daina thought, but he’s hardly relevant right now.  “But why are you telling…” she said, trailing off as a suspicion formed.  “You think Dire Diarbach is here,” Daina demanded, “in Coronet City?”

“We can’t know for certain, but it’s possible,” Yartros admitted amidst a crackle of static.

“And you want me to confirm.”  She sighed.  There’s fun and challenging, and then there’s reckless and foolhardy.  “Okay, forward me an ID holo.”

“I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t.  Man’s a wraith.  He’s been carving out a fiefdom for himself in and around the Cerean System since before Endor, and he’s been a thorn in the side of the so-called Vast Empire since their government’s earliest days, but we still don’t know what he looks like.  Get a look, if you can.”  Abruptly, Daina’s ear popped again, and Yartros was gone.

“Great,” she said, collapsing back onto the overstuffed hotel mattress.

But before Daina could worry too long about the difficulties and dangers of snapping a holograph of one of the most-wanted terrorists in the Galaxy, her room’s bedside comm flashed, and buzzed a low tone, indicating a call.  Daina slapped the accept key clumsily.

“Front Desk.  Our apologies for disturbing you, Ms. Kamdeek, but we have a message for you, and the sender indicated it was urgent,” a protocol droid said.

“Go ahead.”

The droid's voice switched abruptly to that of Daina’s target, as the message was replayed verbatim: “Tell her I think we switched bags sometime earlier today in Treasure Ship Row.  I hope we switched, anyway, and that she has mine…  I definitely have hers, either way.  It was just an innocent mistake – an accident – and I still have all her things.  So, tell her that, too.  My name is Baritha Sweelm, and I can meet anytime today to get her stuff to her, and get mine, if she has it.  My contact information is attached.”  The droid’s mechanical contralto returned: “Message ends.  Would you care to make a response?”

“Yes,” Daina said, willing away thoughts of crime bosses and greater responsibilities and dangers, and focusing on the task at hand: cultivating a potential asset for Thrawn’s Imperial Intelligence.  “Here’s what I’d like you to send back to Ms. Sweelm…"
Chief of Naval Intelligence
[This message has been edited by Grey (edited June 21, 2011 9:14:51 AM)]
[This message has been edited by Trick (edited May 22, 2013 3:30:55 AM)]
Grey
ComNet n00b
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  13
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
July 23, 2011 8:00:57 PM    View the profile of Grey 
Daina Moontaker had planned the meeting perfectly.  When Baritha Sweelm hurried into the hotel bar, Daina carefully averted her gaze from her target, instead focusing on the bottle of Whyren’s Reserve that the server droid had set out in front of her on the little café-style table.  As the potential asset for Imperial Intelligence approached, Daina took a tentative sip from the glass of whiskey the droid had poured.  The smoky-flavored liquor burned its way down her throat, and Daina made a big show of sputtering and coughing, and let her eyes widen with a feigned look of surprise.  Only then did Daina pretend to notice Sweelm’s presence, careful to focus first on the young woman’s bright green handbag, before making eye contact.  Suppressing a self-satisfied smile, Daina waved at her target, and pushed herself out from the table to stand.

Sweelm was the first to speak.  “Deena Kamdeek?” she asked, using the false name under which Daina was traveling.

“Yes, that’s me!” Daina gushed.  “And you’re… Baritha Sweelm?”  Daina was sure to inject an appropriate note of uncertainty into her voice.

“Yes, that’s me.  I’m so sorry for the mix-up,” Sweelm said, offering Daina the dummy bag.  “I didn’t take anything inside, of course.”

Daina snatched the green handbag with an accompanying look of gratitude, and offered Sweelm the other.  “Oh, I trust you, and of course I didn’t touch anything of yours, either!”

Daina sat back down, and for a moment, the two women rifled through their bags, checking that everything was as it should be.  The Imperial operative made her move: “I couldn’t help but wonder how much you paid for it, though,” Daina said with an arched eyebrow.  “I always feel like a total idiot for paying full retail on Coruscant!”

Sweelm shook her head and frowned.  “I don’t even remember,” she muttered.

Daina covered her mouth with her hand.  “There I go again!  So rude…  I don’t even know you yet, and I’m asking personal questions.  Won’t you please sit down?”  She gestured at the table’s second chair.

Sweelm shook her head.  “I should go…”

“Please, join me,” Daina said warmly.  She gestured at the bottle of expensive whiskey.  “I got a bottle of Whyren’s Reserve, instead of a glass, by mistake – I was trying to be fancy and order in Old Corellian, and I must’ve said the wrong word.  Please, there’s no way I can finish all this by myself.”

Sweelm looked at the bottle and then at Daina, and finally, she lowered herself into the chair.  “Ihn Corellisi nyeve min bhiq suman ehin nyiad,” she said with a small grin.

“Like I said, my Old Corellian isn’t very good,” Daina said with a shrug.

Baritha poured herself a glass of the amber-colored liquid.  “I said, ‘a Corellian never turns her back on a person in need.’”  She raised her glass, and offered a toast in Old Corellian: “Chakta Sai Kae!”

Daina touched her own glass to Baritha’s, and smiled.  “Cheers,” she said.

---


“So, since he left me, I’ve just kept buying things.  The bag is just the latest in a long line of purchases I can’t really afford,” Baritha finished, rubbing the rim of her empty glass absent-mindedly with a fingertip.  She sighed, and pushed it away from her slowly with both hands, as if the physical gesture could push away the memory of her ex-fiancé.

“I hear you,” Daina said, her tone supportive.  “But, you know, a bag like these,” she laid a hand on each of the matching green totes, “is a much better choice than gorging on ryshcate!”

“Ryshcate?”

“Isn’t that the name of the little pastry I saw them eating over there before you came in?”

“Oh, that’s only for special days,” Baritha laughed.

Daina looked embarrassed.  “Well, my point is that at least you got some nice accessories out of your coping mechanism, instead of a couple extra kilograms of body weight.”

“Yes,” Baritha agreed, “shopping works better than eating.  At least, until the credits run out…”  She frowned.

“Sounds like you need a better-paying job,” Daina said playfully.

Bartha smiled, and then promptly frowned again.  “I really should go,” she sighed.  “The embassy will want me to report my bag was missing.”

“But you got everything back!” Daina objected.

“Doesn’t matter; I’ll still have to change all my passwords and code keys.”

“Okay,” Daina said with an exaggerated pout.  “Well, I know this is really last minute and all, but I have a formal event this evening for work, at the Museum of Fine Art… I don’t want to go alone – it’d be so dull.”  She looked at Baritha expectantly.

“You want me to go with you?”

Daina smiled and shrugged.  “Do you have plans tonight?”

Baritha’s own shoulders crept upwards.  “Um, no.  Well, I don’t know…  I sort of… met someone, yesterday.”

Daina let her smile broaden.  “Good for you!  You work so fast!  Well, go on and tell me: who is he, what’s his name, how’d you meet?”

“His name is A’for, but it isn’t anything yet!  But he did say he’d call.”

“So, what, you’re going to just wait by the comm at home?”

Baritha shrugged.

“You need to play a little harder to get!  Come with me tonight, and when A’for calls, you can tell him you went to a fabulous party at the Museum.”  Daina gave her target a wink.

Baritha smirked back.  “Okay, Deena.  When and where should we meet, and what should I wear?”
Chief of Naval Intelligence
[This message has been edited by Grey (edited July 23, 2011 8:01:31 PM)]
[This message has been edited by Grey (edited July 25, 2011 6:23:48 AM)]
Grey
ComNet Marshal
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  52
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
October 15, 2011 5:55:28 AM    View the profile of Grey 
The Coronet City Museum of Fine Art was an impressive edifice even in comparison with the other palatial skyscrapers which made up the downtown district of Corellia’s capital.  Besides the rich paneled woods from a dozen planets and the intricate friezes and gold filigree, the most obvious expression of the wealth underwriting the CCMOFA was the sheer size of the building: located in the most fashionable neighborhood of the most populous city on one of the most desirable inhabited planets in the Galaxy, the waste of usable space which the museum represented was an eloquent statement in itself.

A native of the underdeveloped and underpopulated desert world of Tatooine, Daina Moontaker couldn’t help but stare as the speeder she shared with Baritha Sweelm pulled up to the Museum’s main entrance, garishly decorated with multi-colored streamers and bright spotlights for the night’s gala opening.  A throng of thousands of glitteringly-attired beings was gathered, and as the vehicle slowed at the base of a broad marble staircase which led to a bank of transparisteel doors, Daina had to force herself to look away from the incomparable opulence and unfamiliar bustle, and with a deep breath she reminded herself that for that evening she was playing the role of a Coruscanti art dealer, who would be accustomed to such sights.  Get it together Daina, she admonished herself, and then she suppressed a cringe.  I mean Deena!  Tonight, your name is Deena, she repeated for what was, by her own reckoning, the twelfth time since she had picked up Baritha.

“I am so jealous you get to go to parties like this for work,” Baritha exclaimed, clearly as awe-struck as Daina herself was feeling.

“Well, most of the time the parties aren’t quite this big,” Daina said, careful to sound humble in an appropriately falsely-modest sort of way.

“I think I should visit the ‘fresher… check my hair,” Baritha said, smiling shyly under her intricately woven braids.

“You look fantastic,” Daina gushed, “but if you don’t trust my word, go ahead.  I’ll meet you right over there at the bar.”  Sweelm wandered off to the side of the sparsely-decorated gallery, and Daina made her way to the caterers’ beverage station at the center of the cavernous colonnaded room.

“Two Corellian Sunsets, please,” the Imperial Intelligence agent ordered, and the server droid scuttled off to prepare the cocktails.

“You are, in a word, beautiful,” a voice said from behind her.  Daina turned to see a handsome young man staring at her with bright blue eyes.  The stranger wore the Corellian Bloodstripe down his trousers, second class.  “Might I join you for a drink?”

Daina smiled politely, but crossed her arms in a gesture of disinterest.  “Thank you, soldier, but I’m waiting for a friend.”  She stressed the final word ever so slightly.

“Ah.  Well, you’ve a lucky friend, then,” the man offered with a shallow nod of acceptance, and he moved off into the crowd.

If only I weren’t working, soldier, Daina thought with a sigh, and she turned back to the bar just as the droid served up the two effervescent orange-and-pink libations.

“Do you believe in destiny now?”  Daina turned back around again at this new interruption, anticipating the same young Corellian stranger, but he was gone; the question had been asked by someone instantly familiar, and totally unexpected.

“Grey, is that you?” Daina asked, incredulous.  The silver-haired man in front of her was a spy like her, only he worked for a splinter faction called the Vast Empire instead of for Thrawn’s Imperial Intelligence.  Daina had met him only once, two years before, when he had saved her life in a near-fatal run-in with a New Republic police squad working a counterintelligence sting operation on Ord Mantell.  Despite his misguided politics, Daina felt in her gut that the man who called himself Grey was more her ally than her enemy.

“In the flesh, as Corellians say.”  Grey flashed the easy smile that Daina remembered so well, and she felt a flush creep into her cheeks.

“Well this is a surprise,” Daina managed to say breezily.  “I wouldn’t have pegged you as a patron of Fine Art.”

“I appreciate beauty,” Grey said, unabashedly staring at her with his deep brown eyes.  “And so do Corellians, it seems.”  He gestured to the Museum all around them, but Daina knew that he meant the young soldier who had approached her.

She matched his stare.  “You’re looking nice, yourself, Grey.  Formal wear suits you.”

He smoothed the sleeves of his blazer and straightened his cravat in an exaggerated gesture of vanity.  “Have to look respectable and civilized, you know.  My employers are touchy about their reputation with you Coreward types.”  He smiled again, but this time Daina missed it: she had looked away, suddenly conscious that Baritha could return from the refresher at any moment.  “Everything okay, Daina?  You seem a bit distracted.”

“I am.  Sorry, Grey.  You wouldn’t be too upset if we postponed this reunion a bit, would you?”

“Say no more,” he said.  “I have things I should be doing right now, anyway.”  He grinned again.  “By the way, the bag you slipped her… that was a nice bit of tradecraft.  Very professional.  You’re quite the spy, nowadays.”

Daina swallowed in a throat which had suddenly gone dry.  “How do you…” she began, but she broke off speaking as Baritha Sweelm walked up, and threw her arms around Grey, laughing.

“You keep surprising me!” she said to him, playfully slapping his shoulder.  “How did you know I would be here tonight?”

Grey, for his part, managed to keep his face straight as he returned Baritha’s hug.  “My little vweilu nut,” he whispered intimately in her ear, before kissing her gently on the cheek.  “In truth, this time we share the pleasant surprise.  It’s good to see you again.”

Daina realized her mouth was slightly agape in disbelief.  “You two know each other?”

Baritha giggled.  “Deena, you remember the man I was telling you about… A’for?  This is him!”

Daina smiled a strained smile as realization dawned.  Grey – or, “A’for” – smiled back in triumph.  “Pleasure to meet you, Deena” her competitor-spy said jovially.

“No, A’for,” Daina replied, “the pleasure is mine.”

“Thank you so much for bringing me, Deena,” Baritha said, draping her arm over Grey’s.  “This night is going to be wonderful, I can just tell!”

“You have impeccable timing, my dear,” the Vast Empire’s operative said, and he picked up both Corellian Sunsets from the bar.  “Drink?”  The happy couple walked away, leaving Daina alone and without a cocktail at the bar.

“Seventeen credits, please,” the bartender droid intoned.

Cursing silently to herself, Daina Moontaker reached into her handbag to find a credit chip, and wondered how she could possibly compete against sex appeal in the rapidly-escalating battle to secure Baritha Sweelm’s allegiance.
Chief of Naval Intelligence
Grey
ComNet Marshal
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  80
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
November 22, 2011 1:37:54 AM    View the profile of Grey 
“So, you run an import/export business?” Daina asked sweetly, her tone’s hard edge barely noticeable.

“Yes,” Baritha answered before Grey could even respond, “A’for trades luxury goods throughout the Sector, and deals in some absolutely charming curios from the Outer Rim planets.”  She was clutching the male spy’s arm possessively.

“It would appear, Ms. Kamdeek, that we have a lot in common,” Grey said.  Though the Vast Imperial agent’s words were innocuous enough, the amusement in his eyes betrayed their deeper meaning.

How true, Daina thought.  I wonder just how much Baritha’s worth to the Vast Empire.  “So how did you two meet?” she asked aloud.

Again, Baritha eagerly answered first: “Late the other night, I had a craving for vweilu nuts, so I went to the market around the corner.  A’for was there; apparently he had been having the same craving.  We ended up spending nine hours together.”  Daina found the look of contentment in Baritha’s eyes heartbreaking… and vexing.

How can I compete with that? Daina wondered.  I’ve seen his “flirtation” act firsthand, she thought, remembering the incident on Ord Mantell.  When he talks about “destiny,” it’s impossible not to feel special… Suddenly, she had an idea.  “It was destiny,” the Imperial spy said, trying to say the word with the emphasis Grey seemed to infuse every time he deployed it as his weapon-of-choice in conversation.

“That’s exactly what A’for said!” Baritha exclaimed with an astonished look.

To his credit, Grey didn’t miss a beat.  Before their mutual target could fully register the significance of Daina’s word choice, he whisked Baritha to the dance floor, leaving his rival alone for the second time.

You’re ahead right now, Grey, Daina seethed as the couple spun away into the crowd, but the game isn’t over yet.  She glanced around, making sure no other guests were paying her any attention, and walked closer to the wall.  “Yartos,” she said, and the popping sound clicked in her ear.

“Go ahead,” her handler responded.

“We have a problem,” Daina whispered, running her hands over a pillar as if admiring its construction.  “There’s another player in the game.  You remember Grey, from the Vast Empire’s Naval Intelligence division?”

“They’re all code-named Grey, Daina,” Yartros growled.

“The Grey I met on Ord Mantell last year!”

There was a brief silence.  “Say what you will about the VENI, they are not wasteful of their resources.  That particular Grey is rather good; if they’re using him they must suspect Diarbach’s en route to Corellia even more than we do.  Okay, I’m going to set up a line of credit for you, Daina, in case you get into a bidding war with the Vast Empire.  Get back to it: secure the asset before the Grey can, and figure out what he’s doing there while you’re at it.  If Diarbach’s really going to Corellia, this mission just became a much greater priority.  Yartros out.”

The pop recurred, and the sounds of the gallery flooded back into Daina’s consciousness.  She turned back to face the chattering crowd, and muttered a single word: “Damn.”
Chief of Naval Intelligence
Grey
ComNet Marshal
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  117
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
January 16, 2012 6:23:09 AM    View the profile of Grey 
Daina was leaning against the wall, staring blankly ahead as her mind churned, thinking about the challenge confronting her.  Grey - the suave agent from the Vast Empire now seducing her target - had once wooed Daina herself; she knew she had to act swiftly to interrupt his machinations if she were going to have any chance of cultivating Baritha Sweelm for the true Empire.  But what, exactly, could she do?  Annoyingly, something bright kept moving in and out of her field of vision, distracting her from her thoughts: it was a thin, vertical yellow line, which seemed to bend and straighten without following any recognizable pattern.  Finally, Daina rose from the depths of her reverie to focus on the yellow line, and abruptly the abstracted shape resolved itself into the instantly-recognizable trouser-piping of second-class Bloodstripes, on the pants of the same handsome Corellian soldier who'd approached her earlier in the evening.  Suddenly, the Thrawnist agent remembered that her rival spy wasn't the only one with utilizable sex appeal, and she couldn't help but grin.

Daina squared her shoulders and took a deep breath, then strode confidently across the gallery and stepped up behind the soldier.  "I know you asked to share a drink," she said, and as he turned she flashed him the most disarming smile she could conjure, "but I'd rather share a dance."  And without another word, she grabbed both his hands, and practically dragged him to the central open space of the gallery, which was being used by a score or two of couples as an improvised dance floor.

They slipped into an uncomplicated rhythmic shuffle, common in dance halls and cantinas across the Galaxy.  Daina, much to the Soldier-Boy's consternation, was leading, subtly guiding him closer to the area where Grey and Baritha were dancing.  Eventually, though, the Corellian found his voice: "I can't believe I'm asking this," he said haltingly, "but, what about your friend?  The one you were waiting for?"

"She's here!" Daina said, still smiling.  "I just wanted to make sure we said hello to each other before I made a new friend.  Now, spin me!"

Soldier-Boy's expression indicated equal parts surprise and delight, and he obliged his suddenly-interested dance partner, twirling Daina directly in front of another couple: Barith and Grey.

"Enjoying yourself?" Grey asked Daina, and he and Baritha came to a standstill.

"Very much," Daina said, still smiling, and she and Baritha shared a conspiratorial glance.

"Well, I'm going to visit the 'fresher," Baritha said.  "Do you know where it is?"

Daina exulted inwardly, grateful for the chance to share an intimate discussion in the ladies' refresher with her target, but then Grey spoke before she could: "It's just there, in the corner," he said, pointing.  "Ms. Kamdeek, while Ms. Sweelm is indisposed, I would beg the honor of a dance.  With your kind permission, sir," he added, eyeing the young Corellian.  Soldier-Boy nodded his reluctant acquiescence, and with a sinking feeling Daina realized she'd been outmaneuvered again.  Baritha walked off, and so did the Corellian Soldier-Boy, both looking vaguely sad, and she was left in the middle of the dance floor with her rival spy.

"Shall we?" Grey asked sweetly, holding up his arms in a standard posture for a ballroom dance.  Resisting the urge to spit at him, Daina mirrored his stance, and they began to move together.

"You're seducing minor administrators, now?" she asked acidly.

"You're upset," Grey said, not making eye contact as they spun across the floor.  "I understand that."  Before Daina could reply that she didn't care who he seduced, he went on: "You were so focused on watching the target you didn't realize you were being watched yourself.  Try not to feel too bad about it; I'm really good at this job."  He flashed her a smile, then quickly looked away again, as they kept spinning through the crowd.

Daina made a sour face in response.  "So you say," she replied.

"Well, how were you planning on recruiting her?  It's hard, you know.  Say the wrong thing, at the wrong time, or in the wrong way, and it all blows up in your face.  Not fun."

I don't know, yet, Daina thought, but what she said was, "Well, how are you going to get her to spy for the 'Vast' Empire?"

Grey just grinned slightly, still not meeting Daina's stare.  "I'm not."

"You're not?"

"I'm going to ask an impressionable young lady to do a favor for her new lover.  Works every time," he said, finally looking Daina in the eye.

The Thrawnist Intelligence agent blushed.

"She will never know what she's doing." Grey continued.  "For her, I will be A'for, an Outer Rim importer."

"Don't get cocky, 'A'for,'" Daina warned.  "I still have some cards to play."

"A word of advice: keep them closer to your chest this time."  And with that, he pulled apart from her, and bowed slightly, just as Baritha came walking up.

"Welcome back!" Daina said, forcing her tone to stay cheerful.

"That was weird," Sweelm said, glancing over her shoulder, then back at the two spies.  "I just ran into someone from work, here.  He asked me why I was here."

"What'd you tell him?" asked Daina, at the same time as Grey asked, "And you said...?"

Sweelm seemed to consider both questions for a heartbeat before she answered: " I said we are old friends from school, Deena, and I told him you are a lascivious art collector trying to seduce me," she said to Grey/A'for.

That sounds about right, Daina thought.

"Anyway, this party seems pretty tired, if my coworkers are showing up," Baritha continued.  "Let's go."

"Sure enough," Grey chimed in, holding out his arm.  Daina watched as her target cuddled up with her rival, again.

The trio made their way out of the building. Grey hailed a passing airspeeder taxi, and they all climbed inside: Daina, then Baritha, then Grey.

They hadn't traveled more than a few meters before Daina broke the silence: "So, A'for, can we drop you somewhere, since it's so late?"

"Ah, the night is just getting started.  I know a great little cantina just outside of Treasure Ship-"

"Let's just drive for a while," Baritha interrupted, her voice strangely flat.  An awkward quiet settled in the airspeeder's cabin, the only sound the muffled whine of the craft's repulsors.  Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Sweelm spoke again, to nobody in particular: "Nothing like this every happened to me before."  He voice was almost cheerful, but her expression betrayed a deep sadness.  "I settled for the first guy to show me any attention whatsoever, and he left me without a second thought.  But now, suddenly, there's a stunning charmer and a glamorous new friend vying for my attention."  She turned to look first at Grey, then at Daina, and then she returned to staring straight ahead.  "There is only one explanation: you want access to the embassy."

Hell, she knows!, Daina thought.  But, of course, she could show nothing, and so she began loudly denying the charge, yelling over Grey's simultaneous objections and professions of innocence.

Baritha didn't even pause at the dual outburst.  "I'm almost certain that Deena works for the Empire, and if I had to guess, A'for is not your real name.  Am I right?  I'd say you're Corporate Sector, or an information hunter for some Hutt Cartel; you seem fairly provincial."

Daina forced herself to smile.  "You've had too much to drink."

Grey was not smiling.  "You think I'm too provincial to be a spy?"

"Enough," Sweelm said, holding up a hand for quiet.  "Tal Diarbach is coming to Coronet City tomorrow.  And I know when and where.  I've decided to auction off exactly what I know to the highest bidder.  If I am right about you, I'll be waiting for your offers.  If not, well, it was fun while it lasted."  With that, she reached over Daina's lap, and unlatched the airspeeder's door.  Numbly, Daina moved out of the way so Baritha could get out.

When she'd gone, Daina turned to look at Grey.  "Well, I didn't see that coming."

Grey just stared out at the Corellian night as the speeder roared through the planet's capital.  "You Thrawnists bring out the worst in everyone."
Chief of Naval Intelligence
Grey
ComNet Marshal
 
Grey
 
[VE-NAVY] Captain (CAPT)
 
Post Number:  132
Total Posts:  558
Joined:  Jun 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
February 15, 2012 3:19:18 PM    View the profile of Grey 
A standard hour after Baritha walked away into the night, Daina Moontaker was still pacing the streets of Coronet City, talking excitedly with her Handler via her implanted comm unit.  "Sweelm says we have a deal at sixty thousand."

"Sixty thousand credits?," Yartros said, the weak signal strength making his incredulousness sound suspiciously close to a whine.  "What happened to forty?"

"Forty was before the Vast Empire made their final bid," Daina said, trying to speak softly as she passed another late-night wanderer - a stumbling local who smelled strongly of lum - headed in the other direction.  The Imperial Intelligence agent watched from out of the corner of her eye until the drunk faded into the distance, and then continued: "Well?"

"We need a holo of Diarbach," Yartros said, without sounding happy about it.  "You're confirmed up to sixty thousand, Daina.  Get it done," he finished, and a sharp click told her the line was dead.

"My pleasure," Daina said quietly to no one in particular.  She reached into the green handbag and withdrew her personal comm unit.  Making sure it was still set to Baritha's private channel, she thumbed the device on.  "We have a deal."

"Excellent," replied Daina's target.  "I'll see you at your hotel in the morning, 0700 hours."

"Okay, Baritha.  0700," the Imperial confirmed.  "See you in the morning."  She switched off the comlink, and walked back to the hotel with the weight of the Galaxy on her shoulders.
Chief of Naval Intelligence
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Templar
[VE-NAVY] Vice Commodore
 
Post Number:  2964
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
May 22, 2013 9:40:44 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
The next morning, Daina was at the hotel’s restaurant by 0630 hours.  She grabbed an order of hotcakes with a side of nerf sausages, and settled into a booth to wait for Baritha Sweelm to show.  Every minute of the thirty she had to wait seemed to last an hour, though, as she nervously picked at her food and compulsively checked to make sure the very large sum of credits was still secure in her green over-the-shoulder bag.  Finally, after what seemed an eternity, 0700 hours came.

But Baritha did not.  0701 rolled around.  And 0702.  And still, there was no sign of Daina’s target.

By 0730, Daina couldn’t stand it any longer: she threw a few credits on the table and left the restaurant, making for Baritha’s apartment.

There was no answer when she rang the building’s intercom, but before Daina could try forcing the door, a neighbor she recognized from her earlier surveillance conveniently exited.  The old man held open the door chivalrously, letting the Imperial spy in.  Daina thanked him, and took the building’s lift up to the third floor, where Baratha lived.  As the elevator rose, she muttered to herself, “I’d better not find you answering her door in a bathrobe, Grey.”

And then the lift doors opened, revealing the Vast Imperial agent himself, grinning.

“Ugh, it’s like I conjured some evil villain in a folktale,” Daina said as she recognized her ruggedly handsome rival.  She crinkled up her nose in distaste as she stepped out into the third floor hallway.

“Good morning to you too,” Grey said, rolling his eyes.  “What brings you here?”

“She was supposed to meet me at my hotel at 0700,” Daina said.  “But I guess you got to her first?”

Grey was frowning.  He shook his head.  “No.  She was supposed to meet me at my hotel by 0730.”

Daina scoffed.  “I don’t believe it.  She accepted both our offers?!”

Grey was still slowly shaking his head, as if deep in thought.  “Yeah, but that’s actually pretty smart.  The question remains: why did she set up the meetings and then not show up?  Where is she?”

Daina saw the concern in Grey’s eyes, and realized he was telling the truth: he hadn’t spent the night, and didn’t know where she was.  Together, the two competitors turned and walked down the hall, toward Baritha’s apartment.

At the end of the hall, one door was standing slightly ajar.  Daina’s heart rate spiked as she recognized the apartment number as Baritha’s.

Without a word, Grey drew a blaster from inside his coat.  Daina hadn’t even realized he’d had it, but she was glad he did: Imperial Intelligence didn’t arm lower-level operatives in the field, unless the mission specifically called for it.  That level of autonomy from the centralized command hierarchy only came after extensive mission experience.

With Grey’s blaster leading the way, the pair entered the apartment.  Signs of a struggle were everywhere: framed holographs were askew, furniture looked out of place, and an incessant beeping sound was coming from the kitchen, where some appliance or other was impatiently asking for further instructions.  Before they even rounded the corner into Baritha’s bedroom, Daina knew what they would find.

Sure enough, she was dead.

The body was sprawled on the floor, several of the joints twisted and broken.  The limbs were pointing in unnatural directions.  Bruises stood out here and there.  And there was a little blood pooling under her.

“They tortured her,” Daina said, gasping.  Suddenly, there wasn’t enough air in the apartment.

“Not for very long,” Grey said grimly as he surveyed the body’s posture.  He sighed heavily, and rubbed a finger across his philtrum as he stared.

Somehow, Daina managed to keep her emotions in check and stay focused on her mission.  She looked around the room for clues: anything that might suggest who had murdered Baritha, and anything that might suggest when and where Tal Diarbach might be arriving.  But her gaze kept wandering back to Baritha’s eyes.  They seemed almost alive in the morning light, as if they were looking at something specific, instead of peering into nothingness, dead.  It was uncanny.  And then Daina followed the corpse’s line of sight, and realized: she was looking at something.  Or at least, she had been, when she died.

On the other side of the bedroom, far out of reach of Baritha’s broken limbs, her datapad was visible, peeking out from where it had fallen underneath a chest of drawers.  Daina crossed over and picked it up, but then she immediately froze: something had moved, in the kitchen, causing a metallic item to clatter to the floor.  A moment later, the beeping abruptly stopped.  Someone else was in the apartment.

Grey sprang back into action, stepping silently forward with blaster raised.  He indicated with his head that Daina should get behind him, and then leaned out into the hall to investigate the noises.  Silently, she mouthed at him to be careful, as he left the room.

From her position, Daina couldn’t see what happened next, but she could hear: Grey fired two quick shots, and then charged down the hallway.  The sound of breaking glass came from the kitchen, and then Grey’s voice, shouting: “He’s on the roof!  I’m going after him!”

Daina ran into the kitchen, datapad still in hand, just as Grey jumped through the small window.  “Grey!” Daina called, but there was no time to say more.  She made a snap decision, pocketed the datapad, and yelled out the window even as she turned: “I’ll follow at street level!”  Then she dashed down the apartment building’s central staircase, and out onto the streets of Coronet City.

And the chase began.
CNW/VCOM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/2Flt/FC/VEN/VE

[SoA][SoV][BWC][NSM][E][NAR][HNS][DSM][SWC][1NS][VC:B][LoM][VC:S][NC][GWC][VC:G][CoB][CC:4][2NS][LSM][VC:E][MSM][CNQST][IGC]
(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

CM/DJT Trykon/DJO/VEDJ
[This message has been edited by Trick (edited May 22, 2013 9:44:36 PM)]
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Warrior
[VE-NAVY] Commodore
 
Post Number:  3411
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
October 6, 2013 5:17:43 AM    View the profile of Trykon 
Following the chase from street level was… harder than Daina had anticipated.  The Grey-level agent from the Vast Empire was one of the fastest, most agile Humans Daina had ever seen, demonstrating surprising grace and terrifying speed as he scrambled across Corellian rooftops and vaulted across small alleys between the neighborhood’s townhomes.  Daina was working hard just to keep up.

She frowned, between gasped breaths, as she saw that despite the Vast Imperial spy’s skills, the mysterious assassin was still maintaining a healthy lead.

The thick crowd of Corellian civilians walking around at street level complicated matters still further. Daina couldn’t just stare up at the roofs, tracking every moment of the pursuit, for fear that the passersby would see, and contact local law enforcement personnel.  If CorSec were to get involved, the Imperial Intelligence agent knew, both she and Grey would have no choice but to go to ground to avoid being compromised.  And then they’d really lose any chance of snapping a holograph of Tal Diarbach while the terrorist visited Coronet City.

And so, sweating profusely, Daina jogged down the streets of Coronet, trying to look like she was merely going for a recreational run, even as she followed in the wake of the frantic chase above, desperately waiting for one of the two men to appear fleetingly at the edge of a rooftop, and then projecting the course of the dangerous race from the glimpses.

The pursuit went on for minutes, crossing blocks of the city, before finally the pair of runners turned out of sight from the main road.  Daina turned down a graffitied alley, rushing to reestablish visual contact.

And so she did.  At the end of the alley, a dramatic scene greeted her: Baritha’s murderer was hanging from the edge of a six story tall building, his feet dangling restlessly as he struggled to hold his tenuous grip on the lip of the roof, with Grey leaning over him, hand extended.  Somehow, Daina’s rival spy had forced the other man off the side of the building, stopping him from running any further, but without killing him.  Daina was impressed.

But her grunt of approval morphed into a groan of horrified disbelief, as the hanging man shook his head at Grey in unmistakable defiance, and then deliberately pushed off from his perch.  He plummeting down and down and down...  Daina closed her eyes before the end, but the hideous cracking thud struck her all the same, seeming to reverberate in the enclosed concrete space.

She opened her eyes, and stared in shock at the gnarled corpse of the man who had chosen to kill himself, rather than risk exposing his employers, and shook her head sadly.  Then she glanced back up at the rooftop.

Grey was gone.

Slowly, Daina backed away from the body and out of the alley.  She tried desperately to look normal, as she made her way back to her hotel by a circuitous route, careful to make sure she wasn’t being followed.  The whole time, her thoughts raced.  With Baritha dead, Daina’s mission was over, wasn’t it?  Or was she still obligated to seek out Diarbach?  Could she still get the holograph, without Baritha’s inside information?

It was then that Daina remembered Baritha’s final expression, and the datapad.  She yanked it out of her pocket, and stared at it intently.  “Inside information,” she murmured, turning the rectangular gadget over in her hands, deep in thought.  “Information.  Inside.”

With her jaw set in determination, Daina Moontaker entered her hotel, bound straight for her room.  She locked the door behind her, and brought out her computer slicing tools.

For despite everything that had happened, Daina knew that her first field assignment for Imperial Intelligence wasn't over quite yet.
Naval High Command
CNO/Commodore Trykon/NHC/VEN/VE

Second Vast Imperial Fleet
SCAP/COM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/2Flt/FC/VEN/VE

Decorations
[*IG*][*AO*][WM0][HNS][1NS][2NS][LSM][BWC][SWC][GWC][CC:4][CNQST]
[NSM][E][NAR][MSM][SoA][CoB][VC:B][VC:S][VC:G][VC:E][SoV][LoM][DSM][NC][IGC]

(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

SM/DWR Trykon/Dark Jedi/Shades/Raven L-04/DJO/VE [EoP]
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Warrior
[VE-NAVY] Rear Admiral
 
Post Number:  3439
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
October 19, 2013 4:50:55 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
It wasn’t a particularly challenging slicing job: Daina had complete access to Baritha’s datapad within ten minutes.  She grinned with pride, and hit the button that would log in to the device as “User: Baritha.”

But Daina’s smile of triumph immediately twisted into a frustrated glower, as she realized that the late Baritha Sweelm had not relied on her off-the-shelf datapad’s security protocols alone to protect her “insider information” about the New Republic’s Embassy to the Corellian League… every entry in the handheld device appeared to be written in an obscure personal code.  Even at first glance, the trained intelligence operative could recognize the tell-tale signs of a simple alphanumeric cypher, and the relative lengths of the groupings of characters suggested at least one level of code-word substitution was in play, as well.

“Womp rats,” the Tatooine native muttered under her breath.  She checked her chrono: more than half a standard hour had elapsed, since Baritha’s mysterious killer had flung himself from the roof.  The Corellian Security Force had earned their reputation for efficiency and professionalism, and it was possible their patrol officers had already found either that man’s broken body in the alleyway, or else the corpse of Baritha Sweelm, back at her ransacked apartment.  Or both, Daina thought grimly.  She didn’t have time to break Baritha’s code herself; with CorSec liable to start a full-scale investigation of the murders at any moment, and the terrorist Tal Diarbach due to arrive in Coronet City before the end of the local day, Daina Moontaker was out of spare time.

Then again, maybe she didn't have to break the code all by herself.

“Yartros!” she half-growled, activating her earpiece.  The connection instantly went live to her Handler, Yartros Los, lightyears distant at the regional hub for Imperial Intelligence, and she could hear the dour-faced man’s inhale as he settled his own headset and prepared to respond.

“Go, Daina,” he said.

“Baritha’s dead,” Daina reported, trying to keep her tone neutral, and matter-of-fact.  If Yartros knew how fast her heart was beating, he’d never let her continue the mission.  “She never showed for the buy, so I went to her apartment.  The Vast Imperial arrived at the same time, and we found her dead in her apartment.  The killer was still there, and Grey chased him out the kitchen window and up onto the roof.  I followed from street level… anyway, the killer’s dead too.”

Another inhale, this one sharp.  “Grey killed the man?!”

“No!” Daina objected.  Too strongly.  She took a breath to calm herself.  “No, Grey didn’t kill anybody.  The killer jumped off the roof, rather than be captured alive.”

There was a pause.  Then another audible breath from Yartros, this one long and deliberate.  “Are you with the Grey, Daina?”  Yartros’s tone was troubled.

“No,” Daina said quickly.  “He broke contact after the killer’s suicide.  I think he’s gone to ground.”

“Well, good,” Yartros said, his distrust of the Vast Imperials evident in his relieved tone.  “You should do the same.  I’ll book you passage offworld as soon as possible.  How soon can you be ready to leave?”

“No, Yartros... that’s not why I’m calling.”

“What in the Emperor’s name do you mean, ‘that’s not why you’re calling?’  Your target is dead - possibly killed by Vast Imperial agents to prevent her from giving information to the true Empire - and a second body has been left on the streets of Coronet City - either by chance or by design - which will in either case attract CorSec attention.  The mission is over, Daina.  We’re extracting you.”

Yartros’s words hit Daina like physical blows.  How could he believe Grey was behind Baritha’s death?  And then a darker thought rolled over the naive girl from the Outer Rim: how could she NOT have considered that possibility?  Weakly, she continued her protest: “No, I… No.  Even if Grey’s been playing me, Yartros, I have Baritha’s datapad.  I can figure out when and where Diarbach’s due to arrive, I know I can!  Don’t pull me out, boss.  We’ve lost Baritha, but I can still complete the larger mission.  I can get a holograph of Tal Diarbach, Yartros!”

Her Handler sucked in a breath through his teeth, sending a chilling whistling sound through the tinny communications connection.  “You have three hours, Daina.  There’s a flight offworld in three hours, leaving from Coronet Central Spaceport, Docking Bay 54.  You’re going to be on that transport, Daina.  With or without the holo, I don’t care.  Understood?”

Daina nodded to herself.  “Understood.  Thanks, Yartros.  I’m going to upload some data to the HoloNet, now.  Secure packet, my ident number.  The data’s from Baritha’s pad, but it’s encrypted.  If our decrypt people can crack the code, I think we’ll find out where we can get a picture of DIarbach.”  She pressed the transmit button on her own datapad, which relayed the content’s of Baritha’s to the Imperial Intelligence regional hub.

“We’re getting it now,” Yartros confirmed.  “I’ll get our people on it.  But Daina, remember: three hours, regardless of whether or not we’re able to crack this code.  You leave in three hours.”

Daina nodded distractedly, already beginning a simple decrypt protocol on her datapad, before remembering that Yartos couldn’t see her body language.  “Right,” she said aloud.  “Three hours.  Copy, and out.”
Naval High Command
CNO/Rear Admiral Trykon/NHC/VEN/VE

Second Vast Imperial Fleet
SCAP/RADM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/3Flt/FC/VEN/VE

Decorations
[*IG*][*AO*][WM0][HNS][1NS][2NS][LSM][BWC][SWC][GWC][CC:4][CNQST]
[NSM][E][NAR][NDM][MSMx2][SoA][CoB.][VC:B][VC:S][VC:G][VC:E][SoV][LoM][DSM][NC][IGC]

(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

SM/DWR Trykon/Dark Jedi/Shades/Raven L-04/DJO/VE [EoP]
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Warrior
[VE-NAVY] Rear Admiral
 
Post Number:  3440
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
October 19, 2013 6:10:14 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
It took exactly fifty seven minutes for Imperial Intelligence to break down Baritha Sweelm’s esoteric, unevenly-applied set of codewords and substitution ciphers, a task made more difficult by the fact that much of the data had been jotted down in the woman’s uniquely personal form of shorthand.  But still, the decrypt wonks had it all figured out in less than a standard hour, and the analysis and translation matrix came back to Daina Moontaker’s datapad without a problem.

“Yes!” the Tatooine native exclaimed, as she began paging through the entries, furiously searching for any mention of notorious terrorist Tal Diarbach.

She scrolled quickly through to the end of the datapad’s calendar, and found one last, cryptic entry: “TD.  CCS-58.  17:00.”  The time/date stamp on the entry marked it as the last thing Baritha Sweelm had written before she had been murdered.

Daina felt her heart skip a beat, and then begin pounding.  “Tal Diarbach.  Coronet City Spaceport, Docking Bay 58.  Seventeen hundred hours,” she read aloud, filling in the blanks, such as they were.  One of the Empire’s most wanted criminals was due to arrive in just twenty minutes, only four bays down from where Daina herself was catching her ride off-planet.  It was a perfect opportunity to finally capture a likeness of the man, to bolster the Empire’s dossier on him.

“Found you,” Daina said to the screen, then hurriedly began packing her things into her luggage.  She pointedly left her commercial-style holocamera out, ready to sling over her shoulder.  It was time for her to go.

As she turned to leave her hotel room, Daina briefly considered contacting Yartros again, but decided against it.  She knew his orders, and knew what was at stake.  Her comm unit’s battery was almost certainly low, anyway.  It was time to prove herself worthy of Yartros’s faith.  Time to prove herself as an agent of Imperial Intelligence.

Time to take a holograph of Tal Diarbach.
Naval High Command
CNO/Rear Admiral Trykon/NHC/VEN/VE

Second Vast Imperial Fleet
SCAP/RADM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/3Flt/FC/VEN/VE

Decorations
[*IG*][*AO*][WM0][HNS][1NS][2NS][LSM][BWC][SWC][GWC][CC:4][CNQST]
[NSM][E][NAR][NDM][MSMx2][SoA][CoB.][VC:B][VC:S][VC:G][VC:E][SoV][LoM][DSM][NC][IGC]

(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

SM/DWR Trykon/Dark Jedi/Shades/Raven L-04/DJO/VE [EoP]
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Warrior
[VE-NAVY] Rear Admiral
 
Post Number:  3465
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
October 28, 2013 5:06:28 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
Daina Moontaker still found the hustle and bustle of interplanetary travel hubs to be overwhelming, even decades after she had first left her sleepy home planet of Tatooine.  Over the course of her life and career, she had seen spaceports on Sector Capitals and even the commercial spaceport in the center of Imperial City itself, but somehow she had never gotten used to the sights, and sounds - and smells - of the places.  Myriad species congregated in such hubs - too many to count - and they all jostled against one another in long queues, cacophonous and fragrant.

Coronet City Spaceport was much the same, only larger than most, and even more chaotic.  CCS was a sprawling complex of commercial terminals and freight docks at the edge of Corellia’s capital city, serving destinations across the Galaxy, and the girl from Tatooine was finding it difficult to navigate the packed, confusingly laid out collection of structures.

With the chrono ticking until Tal Diarbach arrived, Daina had turned in desperation to an automated information kiosk.  But the droid working the desk was frustratingly prone to misunderstanding Daina’s understated Rimmer accent.

“No, Docking Bay 58!” she almost screamed in frustration.  “Five, Eight.  Where is Docking Bay 58?!”

The ditzy customer service droid at the information kiosk let out a grinding squawking noise, before speaking again in its metallic-sounding voice that reminded Daina of a whining asthmatic child: “Fifty eight?  Five in the tens’ place and eight in the ones’ place, she says.  Docking Bay 58, she wants,” the droid muttered to itself.  “That’s in the next terminal over,” it finally answered, curtly.  “Terminal Dorn, for intrasystem arrivals.”

“Terminal D?” Daina moaned in horror.  She was at the far end of Terminal Cresh, one of the three large interstellar terminals that made up the CCS complex.  She had assumed that her own departure gate, Docking Bay 54, would be relatively near to the gate where Tal Diarbach would be arriving, Bay 58.  But inexplicably, the Corellians had decided to arbitrarily split the numbering system among all four of the primary commercial terminals, including the intrasystem Terminal Dorn, meaning the gate she now sought was across 400 yards of open duracrete tarmac, in another building entirely.

“Thank you,” she yelled over her shoulder absentmindedly, as she ran away from the droid and its desk as fast as she could, hoping that the legendary Corellian brand of luck might take pity upon an offworlder, and speed her steps enough that she wouldn’t miss her rendezvous with fate.

As she ran, she considered the new information: Diarbach was aboard an intrasystem flight, which meant he had first travelled to one of the other Five Brothers of the Corellian System, before coming to Corellia itself.  Was it possible the New Republic had a base of operations on Selonia, or Drall?  Was it just an intelligence safe house, used to conceal visiting assets like Dire Diarbach, or was it a secret military base, training the locals to fight against the legitimate Imperial Galactic government?  And if it was a training base, what did it portend that such a nefarious terrorist had been spending time there?

Whatever Diarbach was doing in the Corellian System, it would be much easier for Imperial Intelligence to stop his plans if they had an accurate holograph of the man to put in his dossier.  If you can just snap his picture, Daina thought, the soles of her boots starting to heat up from the fiction of her run, then we can track him, or even eliminate him once and for all.  But one had to be within sight of a person, in order to snap their picture, and Diarbach’s flight was scheduled to land in just a few minutes...

Cursing the layout of the spaceport with every step, Daina pushed herself to run even faster.  It was going to be close...
Naval High Command
CNO/Rear Admiral Trykon/NHC/VEN/VE

Second Vast Imperial Fleet
SCAP/RADM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/3Flt/FC/VEN/VE

Decorations
[*IG*][*AO*][WM0][HNS][1NS][2NS][LSM][BWC][SWC][GWC][CC:4][CNQST]
[NSM][E][NAR][NDM][MSMx2][SoA][CoB.][VC:B][VC:S][VC:G][VC:E][SoV][LoM][DSM][NC][IGC]

(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

SM/DWR Trykon/Dark Jedi/Shades/Raven L-04/DJO/VE [EoP]
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Warrior
[VE-NAVY] Rear Admiral
 
Post Number:  3541
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
December 24, 2013 6:15:25 AM    View the profile of Trykon 
Daina arrived just as the doors to Docking Bay 58 were opening, spilling sentients from distant planets into Terminal Dorn of the Coronet City Spaceport.  She forced herself to slow down, skidding to an abrupt walk after her frenzied sprint through the facility.  With as much grace as she could manage, the Imperial Intelligence agent slid into a cafe style chair in front of a news kiosk directly opposite the arrival gate, trying without success to slow her racing heartbeat.  She nonchalantly swung her holocamera off her shoulder, settling it onto the little cafe table, taking care to point it squarely at Docking Bay 58.

And then she waited.

The transport was a huge passenger liner; hundreds of people were moving through the doors.  Daina realized with dismay that she had no way of knowing which one of them was Tal Diarbach.  Should I just start taking pictures of the entire crowd?, she thought to herself.  Or will that look suspicious?  Would Diarbach or his people kill a tourist with a camera, if they only suspected… she didn’t even finish the thought.  Of course Dire Diarbach would kill her to protect his identity.  And she wouldn’t be the first victim of his terribly effective paranoia.

A sudden tap on her shoulder made her jump in her seat.  She whipped her head around and sucked in a breath to scream, but only a squeak escaped as she recognized the rugged-if-nondescript features of Grey, the Vast Imperial agent.  “You scared the life out of me!” she protested in an angry whisper.  “I can’t… What are you doing here?!”

“No time to explain,” Grey said.  And then, to Daina’s utter consternation, he grinned.  “Get that camera ready.”  He winked, and started walking purposefully across the wide corridor of the terminal towards Docking Bay 58, fighting the flow of the stream of arriving passengers.

“Right,” Daina muttered venomously, picking up the holocamera and pretending to fiddle with its settings, as she trained the viewfinder on Grey’s retreated back.

She watched him amble toward the doors, until he suddenly squared his shoulders.  She followed his line of sight, and saw a tall, broad-shoulder Human man with pale skin, being escorted by two CorSec officers.  “Is that really him?” she murmured aloud, in disbelief.  “How does Grey recognize him?”

She looked through the viewfinder at the target, but his two bodyguards were purposefully staying right up close to him, on either side.  She couldn’t get a clear shot at the middle figure’s face.  If it even was Diarbach, she couldn’t get the shot.

And that’s when Grey burst into the frame, and collided head-on with Diarbach.  The bodyguards reached for blasters, and the civilians all around started to look over at the sudden commotion, but critically, the broad-shouldered man became visible for a half-second.  Daina held down the shutter release button, and a series of clicks told her the camera was recording holographic images.

A second later, one bodyguard was rushing Diarbach away from the scene, while the other one pushed Grey up against the wall of the terminal corridor.  Grey had his hands up and a look of surprise and fear on his face.  It was clear he was playing off the collision as an accident.  The thug holding him gave him two quick punches to the gut, and then followed his partner and Diarbach away, towards the nearest exit.  When they’d gone, Grey turned to Daina, and smiled.

With the other passengers still staring in disbelief, the Vast Imperial limped back to Daina’s table.  “Did you get it?” he asked.

Daina smiled.  “Right here,” she said, holding up her holocamera.

“Well, at least one of us did,” Grey said.  “Come on.  I’ll buy you a drink to celebrate, before you get back to Bastion.”

It was almost unbelievable.  But despite her lingering doubts and questions, Daina felt like taking Grey up on his offer.  In that moment, all that mattered was she had the holograph.  She hadn’t been able to complete the mission she’d been sent to Corellia to do, but she’d managed something even more impressive: she’d taken a holo of one of the most wanted men in the Galaxy.  “I think I saw a cantina, over in Terminal Cresh,” she said with a smile, before leading Grey away from the little news kiosk, backtracking the way she’d come.  “I like the local whiskey...”
Naval High Command
CNO/Rear Admiral Trykon/NHC/VEN/VE

Second Vast Imperial Fleet
SCAP/RADM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/3Flt/FC/VEN/VE

Decorations
[*IG*][*AO*][WM0][HNS][1NS][2NS][LSM][BWC][SWC][GWC][CC:4][CNQST]
[NSM][E][NAR][NDM][MSMx2][SoA][CoB.][VC:B][VC:S][VC:G][VC:E][SoV][LoM][DSM][NC][IGC]

(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

SM/DWR Trykon/Dark Jedi/Shades/Raven L-04/DJO/VE [EoP]
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Warrior
[VE-NAVY] Rear Admiral
 
Post Number:  3545
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words
December 30, 2013 6:47:44 AM    View the profile of Trykon 
That is a really good holo,” Grey said as the Corellian whiskey arrived at their table.  “The composition is top notch, and I really think you’ve captured the emotion of the moment.”

Daina Moontaker laughed quietly, basking in the euphoria of her first completed mission in the field.  She looked at the holograph, projected discreetly behind the camera on the table: the vaguely menacing features of wanted terrorist Tal “Dire” Diarbach stared back at her, tinged blue by the low-quality emitter, in the first confirmed hologram ever recorded of the notorious criminal mastermind.  The mass murderer was intimidating, even in translucent recreation, but Daina had to admit, he was also thoroughly average-looking.  With a face so nondescript, it was no wonder the man had been able to elude Imperial authorities for so long; law enforcement had no way of ID-ing Diarbach based on just a description, and without a holo to reference at border crossings and terminals like the one in Coronet City, he could travel with impunity.  Those days are over, you terrorist scum, Daina thought to herself with satisfaction.

She flashed a smile at the rival spy opposite her.  The man who - for all his swagger - hadn’t managed to get a holo himself, to bring home to his own faction far out on the Outer Rim.  “It does have a certain elegance, doesn’t it?” she asked playfully, matching his tone.

The Vast Imperial agent grinned.  “Hey, come on.  That’s my joke, kid.  You shouldn’t be so brazen when copying the greats; people can’t stand a plagiarist.”

“The greats, huh?” Daina said, trying to suppress a grin of her own.  “But how else are we newbies supposed to learn, if not by careful emulation?”

“You seem to be managing fine on your own,” Grey said, as he raised his glass in a toast.  “To you, Deena Kamdeek,” he said, using her cover name with a wink, “and to the true Empire.”

Daina glanced around to make sure no one overheard the political statement, but the other patrons of the small cantina were thoroughly absorbed in their own drinking.  “To the Empire,” she responded, careful to use a term general enough to cover both the true Empire, led by Thrawn, and the Vast Empire splinter faction which Grey served.  Grey’s eyes seemed to meet hers for an electric moment of recognition and mutual appreciation, and then the spell was broken as they both threw back their heads to take their shots.

The smoky liquor burned its way down Daina’s throat, and she felt her eyes go misty.  Whyren’s Reserve was better enjoyed slowly, but she couldn’t actually complain: she was sharing a celebratory drink with a handsome man, but she had a transport to catch.  There wasn’t time to savor the moment properly.

As if on cue, Grey asked: “So, when’s your flight offworld?  Shall we have another, or are you in a hurry to leave?”  He looked into her eyes expectantly.  Hopefully.

Daina checked her chrono.  They’d already started boarding her transport, most likely; it was due to depart in just twenty minutes, standard.  She switched off the emitter on the holocamera, and tucked the device into the front right pocket of her trenchcoat.

Grey couldn’t hide his disappointment as she did so, and Daina felt sorry for him.  Besides, she thought, my boarding gate is only a few meters down the corridor.  “I have time for one more,” she said, revelling in the way Grey’s face lit up with pleasure at the news, “but I’ll only stay if you tell me how you knew to come here, to the spaceport, and how you knew which of the arriving passengers was Diarbach.”

“I can’t give away all my secrets,” Grey said, holding his hands up in mock consternation.

“How else am I supposed to learn?” Daina replied, without missing a beat.  “That’s the deal: more tradecraft tips from one of ‘the greats,’ for another drink with the gorgeous woman who singlehandedly got a holo of Dire Diarbach.”

“Singlehandedly?” Grey challenged, frowning.

“Well, that might be the story I tell back at headquarters if you don’t give me a break!”

“All right, all right!” the Vast Imperial said, throwing up his hands and scowling.  But he couldn’t hold the illusion of frustration, and soon his smile was back.

Daina glanced at her chrono again.  Time was getting short.  “I’m going to visit the ‘fresher,” she announced hurriedly.  “Order another round, and practice your story.  I’ll need all the details quickly, when I get back.”

“Yes ma’am,” Grey said.  Then he stood up, in a charmingly quaint gesture of chivalry, as Daina got up to go to the refresher.  And then, to Daina’s surprise and delight, he leaned in as if to kiss her.  At the last moment, though, he veered off slightly to the side, directing his attention to the collar of her long coat.  “You have something on your coat, here,” he said softly, as he began to rub her lapel.  He was staring straight into Daina’s eyes; the stain (or whatever it was) wasn’t visible to either of them.

“Thanks,” Daina said sheepishly, and then she reluctantly drew away from his touch - and his intoxicating scent - to go to the refresher.  She turned, and started walking.  We can flirt while you’re telling me how you managed to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, she thought as she strode away.  But flirting or not, I will know how you did it.

She took maybe five steps before she checked her collar.  Within another two steps, she’d determined there wasn’t a stain or mark of any kind - anywhere on her coat - that she could see.  For another four steps she was flattered, assuming that Grey had invented the phantom stain as an excuse to get close to her, perhaps to touch her hair.  And then one final step brought her to an abrupt stop, as her veins seemed suddenly to run with ice water.  What if Grey had invented the stain as an excuse to get close to her for another reason?

Her right hand shot into the front pocket of her coat, and took out the holocamera.  To her horror, she saw exactly what she was dreading: the side panel of the camera was open, and the memory chip which held all the recorded images was missing.  Grey had picked her pocket, and stolen the holograph of Diarbach.

She spun around, already running back toward the table.

But it was too late.  The Vast Imperial was gone.

And so, with two dead bodies behind her, with her mission to cultivate Baritha Sweelm as an asset for Imperial Intelligence a complete failure, and with no holo of Diarbach either, Daina Moontaker left the cantina and made her way to her departure gate in shock.  After all, she had a transport to catch.

“Yartos,” she said weakly, and her earpiece popped as the connection was made.  “I’m coming home.”
Naval High Command
CNO/Rear Admiral Trykon/NHC/VEN/VE

Second Vast Imperial Fleet
SCAP/RADM Wyl "Trick" Trykon/ISD Adjudicator/TF:A/3Flt/FC/VEN/VE

Decorations
[*IG*][*AO*][WM0][HNS][1NS][2NS][LSM][BWC][SWC][GWC][CC:4][CNQST]
[NSM][E][NAR][NDM][MSMx2][SoA][CoB.][VC:B][VC:S][VC:G][VC:E][SoV][LoM][DSM][NC][IGC]

(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)(=*FOCE*=)

SM/DWR Trykon/Dark Jedi/Shades/Raven L-04/DJO/VE [EoP]
ComNet > Imperial Navy > Archived Naval Story Board > VENI: A Holo's Worth a Thousand Words  |  New Posts    
 

All times are CST. The time now is 9:21:58 AM
Comnet Jump:

Current Online Members - 0  |  Guests - 123  |  Bots - 1
 
< Contact Us - The Vast Empire >
 
Powered by ComNet Version 7.2
Copyright © 1998-2022 The Imperial Network
 
This page was generated in 0.725 seconds.