Fortress Dosuun
Prefsbelt IV
1643, Local Time

ETA to their hangar is approximately two minutes.” The shuttle pilot reported. It had been one of many for Prince Lucien Dooku on his visit to Prefsbelt IV. One from the omnipotent NIV Tregessar in orbit, another from Prefsbelt Airspace Command as they entered the atmosphere, and now a final code clearance from Fortress Dosuun itself. It was a hassle. Particularly given that it was by express invite by Prefsbelt Command leadership. And the invite was proposed as an apology for their failings in Project Sunrise. Although, those of Prefsbelt Command had always been rather cagey with security. Their Grand Admiral, an ever paranoid machine.

The shuttle, escorted at this point by four TIE fighters dispatched from Nova Avalonia streaked through the mountain ranges of the planet. Even through the clouds, one could see the massive convoys of trains traversing the conveyex lines. The silence of the shuttle was then broken, by the pilot. “Fuckin’ a, it’s massive.” From out the viewport, Fortress Dosuun appeared. A mass of mountains, populated by large installations and turbolaser batteries. Even from a distance, it was huge.

Shuttle STG-434,” The communicator buzzed, “This Fortress Dosuun air command. You are cleared for arrival at nest twelve. Our TIE fighters will guide you. Over.” The pilot swallowed and clicked the comms unit.

Understood Fortress, we will proceed.” The pilot shot back, guiding the shuttle through the clouds. Below, the scenery changed dramatically from foothills and small mountains, to that of plains. Plains of crops. And the small microscopic figures below harvesting, beneath the auspicious gaze of guard towers. Soon, the shuttle passed that, the TIE fighters guiding them toward one of the hangars on the upper peak. An installation, on a bare faced cliff, bristling with turbolasers and other ordinance.

This is the end of the road shuttle STG-434. Hangar is dead ahead.” One of the TIE fighters buzzed, before peeling off. Shuttle STG-434 began to slow, its fins tightening as it moved toward the hangar, which was situated on a snowcapped peak. Snow slowly drizzled down as they drew closer.

As they drew closer, it became apparent that Prefsbelt Command had provided an honour guard. A battalion of its infamous Stossjaeger and Auxiliaries. The shuttle drew closer, and then docked with a dull thud. The docking ramp engaged with the traditional hiss of decompression. “I’ll be waiting here for you sir.” The pilot reported, “Best of uh, luck down there sir.”

The hangar was clean. Immaculate even, with a clear reflection provided for all present. Standing to attention beyond the ramp, was not Rausgeber. But rather one of hid deputies, a familiar face. Fleet Admiral Karlist Rax, in his dress uniform. The obsidian of nominal First Imperial dress. As Lucien and his cohorts disembarked Rax began his greeting. “Prince Dooku, Admiral Mandela, and of course Minister Valerin. It is my pleasure to welcome you to Fortress Dosuun.” The Fleet Admiral stepped forward, “I apologise the Grand Admiral could not be here personally.” Karlist informed them, “He is unfortunately, overseeing some of the last phases of the Project update.” He however turned, “If you gentlemen will follow me though, I can brief you somewhat on the update.”

The Fleet Admiral lead the way, past the rows of Stossjaeger and Auxiliaries, weapons armed and ready with impeccable posture through a door. It was there the metallic plating of the hangar began to give way to stone. The entire passage ahead of them, carved into the mountain, aside from light fixtures. “I assure you, the setbacks we have faced are quite reasonable.” Karlist continued, “The technology provided beneath Nirauan proved to be far more delicate than we have realised. The Grand Admiral has dispatched specialist researchers to ensure the fidelity of our work and effectiveness therein.”

Up ahead there was a checkpoint, staffed by Stossjaeger. “Gentlemen,” Rax gestured to a security office built into the wall, staffed by an officer in grey uniform, “Please surrender any weapons you have.” Karlist requested, “You will be reunited with them in due course,” Karlist then turned to address the attendant, “Three, please.” The security officer activated a dump tray. With the weapons received, he closed the tray, and opened it again, displaying three code cylinders. “These are for your safety.” Karlist assured the gentlemen, “Security is tight, and in some cases automated. Having these cylinders on your person assures you the more automated parts of this base, should you wander, will not kill you on sight. So please, clip them wherever applicable.”

Secure that his guests were able to proceed, Karlist proceeded down the hall, to a suite of turbolifts. Using his code cylinder, he accessed one for the trio. “I must apologise for the maximum security we have imparted upon your visit.” Karlist informed the Nirauan delegation. “You must understand that this is the first ever visit of any capacity for our troops. And there is a great deal of sensitive work that does occur here. We are merely wanting to protect our assets and people when we do stop you like that.” The turbolift stopped, and another lobby waited, with a staircase, leading to what seemed to be a road, and speeder waiting outside. “If you’ll follow me,” Rax offered, “I’ll get us a vehicle.”

Leading down the stairs, opened up to what could be described as a gargantuan cavern. How deep were they now? A speeder sat, waiting for them however. It was a military vehicle, converting to staff transport, with two Prefsbelt Auxiliaries waiting. Upon the approach of the party, doors were opened, and Rax, along with the three Nirauan delegates were shuffled into the back. What had once been designed to carry a squad of soldiers, converted into sort of an executive transport, with padded leather seating and a small fridge. Empty for this trip. With the trio aboard, the speeder began to set off. Karlist relaxed as they delved further and further into the complex of wide, highway like tunnels. With the occasional speeder carrying soldiers passing in the opposite direction.

Approximately,” Karlist began, “One hundred and sixty three kilometers of tunnels like this.” Rax informed the group, almost like a giddy tour guide. “Most of which were former magma channels. Rock here is dense enough in construction, to be able to act as shelter in case of attack. Sturdy. Strong. Much like our Order.” Rax paused, “But I suppose such platitudes are little compensation when compared to why you are. I imagine we should get down to business then now?”

The Spaarti Cylinder you provided us has been engineered extensively beyond the brief you provided us with.” Karlist informed the group, a wry smile passing over his lips as they embarked further into the tunnel system. They were now passing what seemed to be a sort of station of sorts. Civilians waiting, all wearing the same uniform grey jumpsuits, with Prefsbelt insignia on their left breast, “We are working to be able to… Improve specimen results.” Rax added with a twinkle in his eye, “Should everything go to plan your majesty, you will have access to a resource able to genetically modify subjects extensively while they are growing. Ending with soldiers who are capable of potentially, in our view, being prime specimens for special warfare or any other task you deem fit.”

The speeder slowed down somewhat, and drove down a side path, grinding to a halt outside of a security checkpoint. The Auxiliary driver got out, and opened the door to Rax, and the others, before standing to attention. Rax returned the gesture, before dismissing the man with a curt glance and a sneer. The checkpoint was really a hole in the wall, with a reinforced blast door, and a booth, manned by another Auxiliary who looked suspiciously like a teenager.

Rax approached the booth, and raised his code cylinder before approaching. “Authorisation, Rax.” Karlist barked. The door opened with a hiss, and the attending auxiliary stood to attention. “These,” Karlist gestured back to the party of outsiders, “Are guests of the Grand Admiral.” Karlist lead the group through the reinforced blast door, and into what looked like a backroom. The dark maze was filled with crates, and pallets stacked with project labels indecipherable to the outsider. The occasional stevedore, wearing some bizarre hazmat suit paid them a glance as Rax pushed on in silence. Should they be wearing them as well?

Eventually, there was an opening. “This,” Rax informed them, “Is section nine.” They had now entered an unusually bright laboratory, white piercing flurescent bulbs illuminated the entire room. Their heels clicked against the pearly white ground as scientists busied themselves with checklists, and consoles. Droids buzzed around the air or across the lab, carrying boxes, crates and beakers.

It seemed all rather normal.. But what soon became apparent was the tubes. Large, blue tubes, filled with some liquid. And inside? Specimens. Graug floated lifelessly in suspension along with humans, Togruta, Gundark, and from the ceiling what seemed like some sort of Bryn’aduhl. “This is where it all comes together.” Rax informed the tour group, “Where the cutting edge of genetics and science reaches its zenith.”

Rax cut a path through the laboratory. What was discernible was the lack of attention the outsiders were given. Not even a nod or glance by the scientists and technicians working on their various projects. Rax lead the Nirauan delegation through the rows and rows of foreign specimens, and to another side hall. He passed through it, meeting another checkpoint, manned by more Stossjaeger. Rax flashed his credentials. “Fleet Admiral Rax here,” Karlist barked, “Taking the Nirauan party to see Project Sunrise.” The lead Jaeger took Rax’s credentials and scanned it.

You can come Admiral.” The soldier growled from behind his helm, “But those three?” He gestured to the three guests, who had been taken through the bowels of Fortress Dosuun. “They have no standing for access.” The Stossjaeger stood back, as Rax’s face went red.

Under whose authorisation?!” Rax thundered, spit coating the Stossjaegers armour. Flecks dripped down his chestplate. “I received orders from the Grand Admiral himself, these men must be admitted!” He snatched back his code cylinder, “I will have you reported for this soldier! Tell me who ordered it!”

The Stossjaeger seemed to pause, to compose himself. “Sir, it was Captain Rausgeber.” The Stossjaeger informed him. His composure was calm, but he clearly stood to attention. “He ordered it, and he-” The door hissed open, and a man stepped forth. He was attired as an officer, but with grey tunic. He also contrasted greatly to Rax, with his pale blue skin, and piercing red eyes. But also with age. He was young still. Maybe younger than Lucien.

Rax.” The Chiss drawled, “I heard you were coming, and that you had invited….” He paused and shot a glare at the group of Nirauan officers, “Company.” Rax’s demeanour had changed. He was no longer red faced and furious. But his eyes carried a venom in their stare.

Maxamillian,” The older officer snarled, “I should have imagined you would have done this. My orders come from the Grand Admiral,” Rax growled, “And they are to proceed. They need to see him!” Rax barked to the younger man, “They are the ones who have given us this opportunity, and they are-!”

They are nothing.” Maxamillian fired back at Rax, fists clenching. “This isn’t one of your military projects. An unveiling. Anything even on the scale of that! This is bigger than that Karlist!” There was a tremor in the younger Chiss’ voice, “Father would not want strangers to watch th-this!” The Chissling shot back, “They are outsiders, they have not worked like we have, they have not suffered like I have!” Maximilian swallowed, “Father, he would want me there. He would want you there. He would not want… Them!”

Rax became suddenly aware of the current situation. Here he was arguing with a clearly distraught. “My apologies, some privacy, please.” Karlist requested to Dooku, before approaching. He clasped the younger man on his shoulders. He took Maxamillian, this ‘Captain Rausgeber’ away from the trio of Nirauan, and for a brief moment it appeared the two were in terse conversation. Karlist lifted the younger Chiss’ face up, and there was an intense discussion. Raised voices, but no real content could be gauged. Out of nowhere, Maximilian thrust himself into a hug with the Fleet Admiral, who sheepishly committed to the gesture, patting him on the back.

Maximilian gathered himself, and swallowed. Wiping some tears from his eyes. “Allow Dooku through,” The young Chiss ordered, sniffling slightly. Karlist returned and approached both the Admiral and the Minister.

Apologies.” Rax offered again, “But, the captain,” He looked back at the Chiss, who was still trying to reestablish the rigor and composure he’d held in combatting Rax. “He well, believes that this should be an affair for… For close colleagues and allies of the Grand Admiral.” Karlist seemed rather embarrassed by this. His attentions turned to Admiral Mandela and Valerin, "Gentlemen, I apologise but it appears your touer ends here." The Fleet Admiral paused for a moment, “Please, feel free to bother these men for refreshments,” He gestured to the Stossjaeger, “But as for myself and the Prince?” He looked at Dooku, “We have a date to keep.”

Karlist marched Dooku and Rausgeber through into this new part of the laboratory. They had entered what felt like a cinema. Carpeted floors, and dimly lit. At the end of the hall, seemed to be a viewing room. And as it drew closer, it became apparent what Dooku was witnessing. Beyond the glass was a laboratory which closely resembled maybe a psychiatric cell. Inside, sat a tank. A spaarti cylinder, extensively modified with new configurations and panelling. Green liquid bubbled inside, and something human sat inside. But it didn’t seem human. No. Although just a silhouette, the figure had wires protruding from his lower back, and skull. Holding him in place like a condemned man. Technicians scurried around and a nearby terminal, but then he came into view. Grand Admiral Rausgeber, ignoring the group, and simply circling the tank like a hungry predator.

The viewing room was small, but had a series of leather couches. Most were occupied by military personnel Rax’s age. All dressed in uniform, and holding a sort of nervous energy about them. “Please, have a seat.” Rax mused, before taking one himself, while Maxamillian sat behind them, on a slightly raised level. “This, is what the Grand Admiral wished for you to view.” Rax mused, “This is what Project Sunrise is.” He gestured to the tank. “But,” Karlist raised a wagging finger, “The best is yet to come.”

A door hissed open, and from the side, entered a scientist. She looked haggard and tired, dressed in scrubs. Karlist immediately stood to attention, “Your majesty,” He looked down at Lucien, “This is Colonel Dr Kaylah Brue.” The doctor, provided a tired smile and stood to attention, before approaching. “She is Project Sunrise’s director and head. Colonel, this is Prince Lucien Dooku of Nirauan. She does remarkable work.”

The doctor offered her hand, “It is my pleasure your highness.” The scientist offered, “But there is no need to overreach my qualifications. I merely work to the best of my ability, with the team I have. It is hardly worth mentioning otherwise.” She paused, and looked at Rax, “We are ready to proceed Admiral.” She gave a curt nod to the man, “The Grand Admiral just wants a final check on systems before we proceed.” Karlist gave a nod in return.

Well, we’ll leave you to prepare. Force be with your Colonel.” Karlist sat back down, and sighed, “This, this Lucien,” This was the first time anyone from Prefsbelt had ever addressed the royal so informally, “This is what your generosity has made happen. The fixing of galactic history.” Outside in the laboratory, Grand Admiral Rausgeber stood next to the tank, and ‘disrobed’. Exposing his metallic frame for all to see. It was surprisingly adhoc. WIth databanks welded crudely to the machines torso. Technicians crowded the infamous figure, and began to plug wires into him and various circuits, with the wires trailing to the tank. The Grand Admiral’s screen faded to back obsidian. Betraying not even emotion or any facial features as he was then plugged into a generator that sat to the side.

Colonel Dr Brue returned to the fore, and appeared from off screen as it were. She stood, fixing a mask to her head, along with goggles. “Ladies, gentlemen.” She began, “Before we begin today, I just wanted to express a big thank you to my colleagues,” She gestured to the technicians. “Their work on the project has lead us to this point. And I believe their work should be commended, as should the generosity of Prince Lucien Dooku. Who donated us this machine, and gave us the chance to rectify one of the great injustices.” Brue paused, and the assembled voyeurs stood. Clapping. But it lacked a joyful quality. It was courteous, quiet, and mechanical “Now if you remain seated, we shall begin.”

The technicians backed away, with one remaining at the terminal. “Proceed on my mark.” Brue raised an arm, and the air in the viewing room seemed to tighten. The tension was palpable. “Go.” Her arm dropped.

The lights in the laboratory seemed to dim, as the generator in the corner crackled. Inside the tank, the silhouette began to stir beyond merely floating like a top. An arm flinched. A leg twtched. “Proceed, to half power.” Brue called.

The twitching continued, but intensified. The figure inside, began to look almost as if it was waking up. Arms stretching. Legs kicking. “Proceed to full.” Brue called. The lights dimmed further. And that was when it began. Jolts of electricity began to fire through the tank. Cutting through it. The figure began to twist and writhe more and more. The lights flickered off and on, and the Grand Admiral’s form began to contort, and twist.

There were murmurings. Rax even seemed to lose his composure, watching this. “Everything’s fine,” Brue seemed to yell over the electrical impulses, sensing the concern, “We-we planned for this!

Out of all those assembled, the most aggrieved was Maxamillian. Who had managed to make it to the glass. He watched in horror, “They’re killing him…” He murmured, “They’re killing him!” The captain bolted, running through the viewing room. Karlist stood up, and gave Lucien a look of his own concern.

I’ll be back.” Taking after Maxamillian with surprising spryness for his age, Rax sprinted after him. “Maxamillian, no!” Meanwhile in the lab, both tank silhouette and droid seemed to be agonising. Twisting, contorting as the lights flung on and off. Some bulbs bursting. There was shock and chaos from the crowd.

Maximilian entered the laboratory from the entrance. He ran toward the droid Grand Admiral, before being tackled and then pinned to the ground by two lab techs, “You’re killing him!” Maxamillian screamed, “You’re going to kill him you queen!”

Chaos erupted in the lab, the junior scientists looked to Dr Brue, who stood seemingly helpless. “Keep going!” Brue commanded, “If we don’t go now, we lose it all!” The jolts in the tank grew larger and larger. More bolts burned out, as the energy intensified. Both Grand Admiral and silhouettes writing increased, until a final surge blew all the lights. Coating both viewing room, and lab were plunged into darkness. “Someone fix the lights, reconnect us to the main grid!”

The viewing room participants began to look around for some form of lighting. But there was nothing. And yet, beneath all the murmuring. All the darkness, there was a thudding. The lights flicked back on, and the droid, the husk of the Grand Admiral was on the ground. Face first, shattered. And the tank, the tanks glass was crackling. The silhouetted figure, punching it. Those voyeurs with Dooku settled, watching as the lab techs now hurried to do something. Whatever awakened in there was alive. Shouts and countermanding commands were shot back and forth, all while Maxamillian cried.

The tank seemed to begin to empty, but seized up. More panic ensured. And then, one last kick. The tanks front face shattered, sending a cascading pool of green liquid across the lab. Maximilian on the ground was drenched in the splash zone. From the inside, the silhouette eased, and became a fully formed man. Naked as the day he was born. Youthful, bald, and with cords strapped everywhere. One by one, he cleaved from from the back of his skull. His body, toned and well muscled. Geysers of blood began to spurt from him as he did so. Gutteral grunts. He climbed down from the tank, lab crew in shock, as he hunched over.

Steadily, he seemed to regain posture, standing slowly tall. Flexing and feeling out his body. It was unnatural. It was… Alien to him. And it was then he became fully realised. While he was hairless, his face carried that same smirk it had all these years. Youthful now, but ever familiar to those who worked closely. The peanut gallery in the viewing chamber lifted off their feet, and began to clap. Something the figure picked up on.

Ladies and gentlemen….” Caarlyle Rausgeber pronounced, “I am alive!”