- Posted On: Sep 16 2013 1:32pm
Assassins spent a lot of time in elevators.
It was the least noteworthy way to scale a building; sneaking into a set of stairs seemed out of character for the galaxy at large, and the act of climbing the stairs took time and made noise. Scaling the building from the outside seemed like a cool idea in movies, but people hanging around on the outside of buildings tended to draw unwanted attention.
No, the elevator would do nicely. Quiet and quick, it made its way to the target. The way an assassin should work.
As the elevator began to slow, the man inside knew his floor was coming up. He reached under the suit jacket he wore and pulled from a side holster a long, thin metal tube. On either end were a series of sharp metal hooks, which glinted from the elevator’s overhead light on both sides. The tube itself was curved in the middle, and altogether, about a foot long from one sharp hook to the next.
The bald man looked down at it and smiled. The trademark weapon of the Sith Assassin.
He straightened his tie, unbuttoning his jacket, and folded his hands, and the lightsaber, behind his back as the door slid open.
Lianna had seen better days.
During the reign of The Golden Sith Empire, Lianna had been a factory world that Ahnk Rashanagok had used for production of TIE Fighters, TIE Bombers, and Prototype TIE Designs. He had kept the planet’s wealthy elite wealthy while stripping them of all their real power; any objections to Ahnk’s designs for the world were usually met by Ahnk personally executing the man making the most noise and allowing the others to see his share of the profits diverted to them. That served to settle most disputes.
When Ahnk’s Empire fell, Seth Vinda and the Vinda Corporation began doing a lot of dealings with the shipbuilders on the world. The money continued to flow and TIE Fighters continued to stream out of the Santhe/Sienar Shipyards for the benefit of the galaxy at large.
Then the Dragons arrived.
Ahnk didn’t know much about The Damuens; much of it was heresay and rumor. But from the looks of Lianna, much of the rumors were true.
The world had been left as little more than a ghost town.
Ahnk had gone here attempting to track down the homeworld of The Cree’Ar, but so far all he’d seen was a small fleet in orbit indicative more of a group waiting for something rather than defending something. When he made it to the surface, he understood why.
There was nothing here to defend.
The world had long ago lost its native population; rumor had it The Damuens sold their people on the dream of an “upgrade to humanity”, and that through that upgrade, they could eventually become a part of pure Damuen consciousness, leaving their physical bodies behind and ascending into energy. Judging by the small piles of dust left behind on the vacant streets, the rumor might have had an element of truth to it.
Even the city of Anxarta, which should have been full of people at this hour, drunk and celebrating the live music and atmosphere from the nearby clubs, was deserted. Ahnk had landed here because he knew, if you greased the right palms in these clubs, you could find anything. Right now, though, Ahnk was having trouble finding any palms at all.
“Empty,” a voice cried out, which echoed across the surface much louder than it should have. “I can’t find a single person inside either. It’s like something turned everything, and everyone, except the permacrete into dust.”
“It’s unnerving,” Ahnk replied back. “I think we have to classify this world as a dead end. Did you get what I asked?”
Bill nodded, holding up a small black cylinder. “What is it, anyway?”
“I had a spy remain here when I left control of the planet back to the natives. He fed me the latest classified documents he could get his hands on,” Ahnk said. “Shortly after The Damuens took the world, the messages stopped. I assumed they were either being intercepted, or my contact had been killed. If you found that tube than it likely means he was killed before he could deliver it to me.”
Bill nodded solemnly at that. “What’s on it?”
“Could be nothing; useless insider financial information four years stale,” Ahnk replied. “But it could be useful. The New Order generally didn’t trust their most sensitive technological advances to Sienar Fleet Systems anymore, but they still sometimes had them take orders on components. Might be something we can put onto another…”
Both of them instinctively hit the ground. The sound of a repulsor engine firing up broke the silence like a gunshot at the opera, and neither wanted to be the man who the revolver turned to next. They both made their way to cover in the form a statue set inside what used to be a park. Heavy knees rested on dead grass and both looked up to the sky.
A Sith Infiltrator streaked overhead.
“Yours?” Bill asked, much quieter than before.
Ahnk squinted, and watched as the vessel disappeared. “Stock cloaking device from the original production line,” he concluded, and removed his hand from the lightsaber at his hip. “Damned coincidence, though. I’ve seen the Cree’Ar use human ships before, but they have no need for a cloaking device.”
“Time to leave?” Bill asked, and Ahnk nodded in the affirmative.
The trek back to The Sihoyguwa was short, but tense. Both kept cover; afraid now that the vessel they’d spotted leaving orbit had either made their position, or had otherwise blown their cover. But the streets remained dead and, outside that one vessel, the skies had remained quiet. As Bill stepped from his cover to head towards the ship, he noticed that Ahnk had not followed.
“Something wrong?” Bill asked.
Ahnk slowly nodded. “In all the time you’ve known me, do I seem like the kind to leave the doors opened on my uncloaked ship?”
Bill turned back to the Sihoyguwa, then back to Ahnk.
Both drew weapons.
Bill ceded the way and let Ahnk lead. Ahnk led with a lightsaber; turned off for the moment, but held at the ready. Ahnk’s ship was programmed to kill trespassers, which meant that whoever had breached his security was either authorized to be there, had been killed inside, or was very, very good. Ahnk wouldn’t know until he stepped inside, and, finding no corpse, examined the ship.
He found the systems were all working as they should be, and Sihoyguwa had recorded no entrance, authorized or otherwise. Meaning whoever had come inside was very, very good.
Ahnk reached the cockpit after a short search of the small ship, and found everything in order, with the exception of the cockpit display. It was active, and showing a text only message.
It read, “I need an assassin, and I couldn’t think of better.”
A set of coordinates followed.
Then, “Come alone.”
The message was signed, “ARM”.
Ahnk shrugged in mild confusion, and turned to Bill. He offered no answers either. Ahnk set his lightsaber down on the cockpit dash and sat down in the seat, starting the preflight sequence and engaging the ship’s stealth package.
“Sihoyguwa,” Ahnk said, and then trailed a finger over the coordinates on the display. “Take us there.”
The coordinates had led to Kuat. Ahnk normally hated being in Imperial Space; he had a rather large list of criminal offenses, and there was also the whole Jedi thing. He didn’t like wandering around in places where he knew people would be looking out for him, so he tended not to hang around The Empire in general.
Kuat was a little different. It was mostly a self-contained world that occasionally was visited by The New Order personnel. Oh, they kept a tight leash, but they didn’t have a Stormtrooper on every corner. Once you got past the Imperial Blockade and the shipbuilding platforms in orbit, the New Order generally did not give a flying fuck what happened on Kuat.
And so the greed and the avarice, the gluttony and the lust, and the general bad behaviour that had become the hallmark of the ruling elite on Kuat continued unhindered. As such, Kuat really was Ahnk’s kind of place. This hotel was mostly not a den of sin; it was generally for foreign dignitaries with a lot of money to stay somewhere quiet while renegotiating a contract. That told Ahnk a few things about who he was visiting; they were rich enough to stay here and not break the bank, and they were rich enough to hire the best assassin in the galaxy.
Why they’d come for him, then, was a mystery.
Oh, Ahnk had been an excellent assassin in his day. His rise to the top of the Sith Empire had been a rise up a ladder of human body parts, removed with surgical precision from those who had stood in his way. But that was decades ago. When he reached the throne he had sought, he had largely left murder behind. He was still an accomplished swordsman, but an assassin? That was a different man. Literally, since that man had died and been cloned long ago.
And yet, here he was.
It could be a trap.
Ahnk knew that, but he walked into it anyway. It had always been said that the only way to get to the bottom of a trap was to walk into it like an idiot. Ahnk, if you had to use one word to describe him, was certainly reckless.
Besides, he wanted to know who this ARM was, and how they’d gotten aboard his ship.
So he walked, face first, into an obvious trap. It seemed the illogical thing to do.
His coordinates had been exact; locating not just the hotel, but the exact room and floor he wanted. As he approached the door, he slowed. He looked around and saw no one, so he crouched down beside the frame of the door and placed the emitter of his lightsaber against the handle of the door. He quickly thumbed the activator, long enough for the light to shoot out and burn through the door handle, locking mechanism and all, before thumbing it off. With the door now without a lock and a handle, he pushed it with his foot and the door slid softly, and almost noiselessly, across the carpet.
When no shot rang out, Ahnk charged into the room. He found no one.
“Room service?” he suggested, facetiously.
The move came so fast he couldn’t even detect it. That worried him. Before he had time to think about it, though, his saber was gone; his arm, holding it, was drawn up and another hand had lifted the weapon itself. Ahnk found a slender arm slip around his neck from the top to grip his elbow as the other arm of his attacker slid through his elbow and tucked a hand behind his head. With a firm grip, Ahnk found his head pushed forward and his arm pulled back, so that he had his own forearm buried in his own trachea.
Ahnk, himself, taught that move to his students. Someone who had never seen it would likely have passed out.
Having been in it before, however, Ahnk realized how useless it would be to resist. Effort would cause the veins in his arms to expand, thus making said arms thicker, thus putting more pressure on his throat. No, Ahnk had one option. Run.
So he did. He ran backwards, as hard as he could. The person choking him was carried by his momentum as both bodies slammed into the wall, Ahnk partially crushing the person behind and making a large dent in the wall. But the person did not relent; they, in fact, had focused, and as Ahnk drove himself backwards, had tightened the choke. Ahnk could begin to see red creeping into his peripheral vision…
He ran backwards again, this time, leaping before he hit the wall. The added force of his leap caused the attacker to momentarily loosen their grip as they absorbed the blow from the wall, and Ahnk took full advantage, ducking low and using his arms to whip them by their interlocked arm to the bed. Ahnk charged, but the attacker was faster, catching the edge of the bed with their hands and firing a kick into Ahnk’s midsection, with knocked him back.
Ahnk snarled in rage and grabbed his lightsaber, but as he raised it, it was kicked away, a hard foot sending the handle flying from Ahnk’s grip. Another boot followed, but Ahnk caught the second kick and simply hurled the attacker to the bed with brute force. He momentarily considered the saber, but decided instead for the more enjoyable route of simply punching the person into oblivion.
As Ahnk charged though, the other person in the room ducked low and used Ahnk’s momentum to throw him, via carelessly outstretched arm, onto the mattress of the bed. Before Ahnk could rise this time, he felt the heel of a boot dig sharply into his sternum, and knew that if he made any large motions, the other boot would be headed for his face. So he settled for reaching small, and simply turning on the light at the side of the bed.
He then let out a small gasp of surprise when he saw who had been lying in wait. “Riggs?”
The women, shaking her hair loose, smiled down at him. “Hello Shiver,” she said back with a smile, before her other foot slammed into his jaw, knocking Ahnk Rashanagok unconscious.