Star Wars Roleplay: Chaos

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Sword and Shadow: Genesis


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Genesis

Galactic City, Coruscant
Level 4001


Hurried steps carried a lone figure through the gridded streets of Galactic City. A thick coat hung around his bulky frame. Those who looked the passerby's way found it challenging to make out any details beyond estimating height and weight. He ignored the medley of music drifting out of crowded cantinas. For all their artificial beauty and appeal, not even the night workers could garner the individual's attention. Whoever he was, he wasn't interested in what the lower levels of Coruscant had to offer.

Had the numerous onlookers known about the blood-stained datapad tucked into the figure's coat, they would've understood.

Clutching tightly to the hem of his coat, he turned from a busy thoroughfare onto an empty side street. Shopfronts were boarded up, and litter lined the road. This particular section of the city hadn't seen much attention from the Alliance since its inception. Most of it had fallen into disrepair during the One Sith's occupation, only growing worse as their vong playthings were left to terrorize the lower levels.

He stopped at the end of the road and knocked thrice on a blocked window. Each impact was a quick, measured thing, barely loud enough to hear. A minute went by before a series of taps interrupted the silence. The coated figure nodded to himself, threw a cursory glance over his shoulder, and hurried around the side of the building. He stopped in front of another window, this one equally inaccessible. He tapped twice, only for a pair of hands to pull it aside.

Looking in, darkness greeted him. Nothing about the rundown home inspired him to climb through. Whatever instincts he'd developed after years of harsh living warned him to turn back and getaway, but he knew what would happen if he did. He was already in too deep.

With a deep breath to calm his nerves, he gripped the frame and slowly wriggled inside. The window was large enough to accommodate him, even wrapped up in his thick vestiges. His feet set down on the other side, and he brushed away a thick layer of dust that covered both shoulders with a free hand.

"Typical," he said, voice hoarse. He looked back to the room and scanned from left to right. "Hello! I've got the datapad you wanted. Where you at?"

He pushed deeper into the room, a hand pressed against a ruined doorframe as he turned the corner into an empty hallway. Cobwebs clung to the corners. Dust motes floated through the air, thick enough to be seen even in the dark. Piles of rubble blocked passage towards the stairs, leaving the man with no other choice than to turn back.

"Hell-" he turned, his call interrupted midway as he came face to face with a red-plated mask. "Argh!"

He screamed at the top of his lungs, lurching back into the hall behind him. His foot caught on the leg of a chair, and he tumbled back. On impact, a cloud of dust erupted into the air. He gasped as his breath left his lungs, only for a harsh cough to wrack his quivering frame a split-second later.

The masked individual stepped closer and looked down at the fallen man before kneeling beside him. A black bodysuit clung tight to a muscular frame. Two blaster-pistols hung from a belt, a vibro-knife sheathed beside them.

"You alright?" the stranger asked, voice low, likely that of a male.

The fallen man coughed for several more seconds. He sat up when he finally brought himself back under control. "Uhh... Y-Yeah, I'm fine. Who the nether are you?"

He leaped back to his feet and pointed an accusatory finger at the masked man. His coat collar fell away to reveal the scarred and tired face of a man within his late forties or early fifties. A thick black mustache with flecks of gray grew over his upper lip. Two brown eyes bore into the stranger's faceplate.

"You said you brought what I wanted?" he asked.

"I'm not giving you shit until you te-" he began to argue, only for the target of his suspicion to grab his wrist, twist his arm behind his back, and slam him against the wall to his right. He raged against the man's grip, his entire body shaking as he tried to push off the wall. All he could manage was to turn his head to get a better look at the mysterious figure.

"Datapad. Now."

"Okay, okay! It's in my coat! Just let me go, man!"

One hand turned the man about and pinned his back to the wall, while the other ripped the coat open. The masked man took hold of his prize and stepped away.

"Was that so hard?"

"Fuck you," the man retorted. He massaged his wrist, nursing both his body and his pride.

The stranger activated the device and punched in a four-digit code. He flicked the screen several times, too fast to follow, and nodded to himself.

"Alright," he fished out several cred sticks and held them out to the courier. "Here's your payment. Now get out of here."

"Yeah, yeah," the disgruntled man took the chips and turned for the window. Halfway across the room, he found his attention drawn to the door, or more specifically, a symbol carved onto its surface. What appeared to be the newly-adopted symbol of the New Jedi Order adorned the rusted surface. A thick red 'X' was spraypainted over the emblem, and portions of it appear to have been chipped away over the last decade. He shook his head and scoffed. "You'd think that idiot Jedi Knight would've chosen something that still meant something nowadays. I mean, most of those men are gangsters now."

The masked man leaned against the hallway doorframe. "You used to work with them, didn't you, Schuul? Rebels with a cause, you all used to say. Right?"

He turned back, eyes wide. "H-How could you know my name? I-I haven't done anything, or, I mean, this is the first call I've answered in years."

"I get around," the stranger stepped to Schuul's side and pressed a gloved hand against the door. "Just because those men you served beside lost their way doesn't mean what they fought for loses any of its meaning. What you all fought for, a Coruscant free from tyranny, well, it's still worth fighting for."

Schuul wanted to argue at first, the masked man's words almost condescending to the tired veteran. Everything about the encounter behooved him. Who was this man? Why did he want that datapad? How did he know so much about his time in the service? Too many questions fought for his attention. He decided not to ask any. Instead, he reached out to the door, mimicking the stranger's motions.

"We'd do this before every job, you know? Somehow, touching this symbol gave us the resolve we needed. In hindsight, I have a feeling it might've been the Jedi Knight who really inspired us."

"You served with a Jedi, huh?"

"Yes, Master Karis, we called him. They say his son's doing much of the same nowadays. Fighting the good fight," Schuul turned away to wipe at his eyes. "I can only hope the kid doesn't end up like his old man. The way Vyrin went out... It was twisted."

"Yeah," the stranger muttered. "So I've heard."

The two stood in silence for several seconds before the masked man stepped away from the door and moved back into the room.

"You should get off Coruscant, Schuul."

"What?" he looked back. "What do you mean I should get off Coruscant? This is my home. Been here my whole damn life! What makes you think I'm gonna leave now? If the Sith couldn't get me to leave, or those Imp bastards who came after em, why the nether would I run away?"

"The lower levels are being sanctioned off. Vong are running rampant, infecting people with some strange sickness that drives them mad. Krayt Dragon Syndicate's moving in on the Core, too, looking to make creds from Coruscanti blood and bodies. That won't bode well with those rebels turned gangster, will it, Schuul?"

"No... No, it won't," he fell back against the wall. He found himself fidgeting as he considered the possibilities, right hand hard at work kneading his left palm. "It's gonna be a blood bath. Those damn senators are so caught up in their war, they won't even realize their own people are dying down here!"

The masked man crossed his arms. "Probably."

"What the hell am I gonna do?"

"Go," the stranger said. "You've done your part. With the intel you delivered me, I'll be able to properly gauge who I can and can't trust in this city. Just get out of here, Schuul. You fought your war. Take your family, take your friends, and get down to the starport. Hangar 8-V. There's a ship there, loaded and ready to go. The pilot will take you anywhere you wanna go. Just get the hell off of Coruscant before it's too late."

Schuul dropped to the floor, face held within his hands as his body trembled. "I-I don't understand. Why is all this happening? I thought the Alliance brought peace to the Core?"

"For years, Coruscant was no better than the galaxy at large. Imperials, Sith, warfare, bloodshed, it never stopped. The Alliance may have unified the Core, but peace is not yet upon us. Corruption runs deep, Schuul. I intend on digging deep into the seeping wound that is this planet. I'm going to rip out every goddamn cancer that clings to this city. I just need time."

"Why you?" Schuul asked. "And why me? Why help any of us?"

"You helped me once. Got me off this planet when I needed to get-gone," he explained. "And a Karis always pays his debts."

The stricken man's head snapped up, eyes shooting to where the masked stranger stood only seconds before. He searched the room, seeking a sign of the man's passage.

Not even the dust betrayed his departure.
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