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Hutt Breeding Program [CIS]

Seriously, she hated Geonosis. It was warm. It smelled. But someone thought it was a good idea to turn this redundant planet into the capital of the CIS, and this is where the main HQ and all things that mattered were, which meant that this was where she was supposed to go.

She had initially planned on coming here a month prior, shortly after her latest trip to Tatooine. But life had taken unexpected turns. Where once a young and bubbling girl on the cusp of womanhood stood, now was a woman who seemed nearly defeated. Bags decorated her eyes and her skin had that not so lovely hue that those who suffer from extreme lack of sleep tend to get. To make things worse, the Sithling was drunk, the waterskin hanging against her hip filled with liquor instead of water. She felt too much, experienced more than she could bear, and she needed it at this point, needed to take the edge off.

But she also had to keep doing things with herself. The first few days after she had been betrayed and shattered, she had not left her ship, wallowing in despair. But she could no longer stay around and sit, she had to keep herself busy, had to keep moving forward. And this time, she had to do it alone.

While wiping off any remains of those who had broken her heart from the ship, she had found the crate she'd originally filled on Tatooine. It contained the tail of a dead Hutt and some of its insides. It was all she could do to keep it, knowing what the next plan of action was.

So, walking in a not entirely straight line, Scherezade deWinter made her way to the Ministry of Science. Clad in jeans and the least dirty shirt she could find, she didn't really look like any sort of CIS representative. But that was okay. Most of the CIS didn't see her as one anyway, and at the present, her only reason for still being there was that she had nowhere else to go. So for the time being, it meant that she would be cooperating with them.

She entered an office and stared, her body and mind freezing of their own accord for a second at the sight of the big table and the secretary behind it. The last time she had been in such an office had been on Coruscant, in a Galactic Alliance office, and it had ended with her being stabbed in the heart and the gut by a Jedi Master who sought to rid the 'verse of Darksiders. It had only been a small step in her fall, and she spent most days wishing he had just killed her.

Taking a deep breath, she forced her body to unfreeze, took another gulp from her liquor, and walked to the secretary.

"I'm here to speak with a Dr. Voran," she said, not even pretending to smile. There was no patience for niceties.



Nox Aeternum.
The receptionist had to do a double take when she noticed the demeanor and disposition of the woman asking after the Minister of Science. He was steadily booked for several months yet, but he always seemed to make room for walk-ins whenever they chanced to Geonosis. It was fairly remote when one considered all the CIS worlds, and to make the trip just to see the good doctor was a statement on its own. "I'll send word of your arrival immediately, Miss...?"

She tapped a few of the keys and logged the event in her daily notes, a practice reinforced by the new Minister's heckling. There was an unspoken expectation there, and though it irked her, she preferred having her job to not.

A notice buzzed in Kerk Voran's office, and he picked up his comm to reply. "Yes, Monica?" his voice rasped through the machinery. "I'm currently meeting with the Apatrosian consulate about converting the mine workers to machines, in order to alleviate the accidental deaths by Cortosis exposure- this has been in the works for months, what is it?"

"Young lady here to see you," she replied curtly, "your girlfriend, maybe? She's ah... you'll see."

"...very well, send her back," he sighed. Sometimes he was too much of a bleeding heart for his own good. "I apologize for the interruption, sirs," he bowed respectfully. "These are my notes, please review them momentarily while I speak with my guest."

He stepped from the meeting room and headed toward his office with urgency in his movements.

[member="Scherezade deWinter"]
"deWinter," she answered with a shrug. It didn't matter. Voran would have no reason to know her name, and he'd let or not let her in based on his mood alone. She'd known this coming in, but there was no one she actually could reach out to in order to introduce her in advance. Well, no, that was not true. She could have asked Darth Metus. But somehow calling in for favors never felt like something she could actually do, even if her thoughts were the only thing that kept her from doing so.

But even through her alcohol induced state, the Sithling's levels of anger managed to rise when that stupid woman referred to her as a girlfriend. She wasn't anyone's girlfriend. The girlfriend was the one who had been chosen over her and claimed and been claimed while she was unconscious, trying to heal from the near death experience, lost in the Darkness. She wanted to splat that secretary against the wall like the bug that she was and look at her brains drip all over the expensive carpet.

Instead, she took another gulp from her bottle and stuck her middle finger out to the woman before lifting her crate and walking towards the office once she was permitted to go in.

She'd arrived after [member="Xenro"], seating herself in the chair across of him without being invited to, the crate slammed on the table, her anger still bubbling beneath the alcohol's daze. Her face moved as she sniffed the air, realizing it wasn't her nose she was using, but the Force. A Sith Lord, then. Maybe that would make it easier for her to convince him that her plan was an amazing one.

"Hi," she greeted with a lack of enthusiasm, "Scherezade deWinter. I'm here because my sources tell me you have access to cloning vats, and I need to use them."

Frankly, she'd made that up on the spot. She'd just assumed that the Ministry of Science of a faction as large as the Confederacy would just have them.


Nox Aeternum.
Kerk opened his mouth, then closed it. Cloning was an accepted process in many parts of the galaxy, but he had his own moral dilemmas with the practice. She was very blunt about her intentions, that much was certain, and so he figured several questions would sort out her intentions quickly enough. "You want to clone someone?" he asked. "Normally, there are a number of papers to sign, liability wavers and the like, and the clearance goes through me- so I can sign off on the project, I just need to know what it entails."

It was a very unprecedented thing to bypass channels and take a request right to the top, so he wondered who exactly this woman was. A light flickered from the communicator he had placed on the desk, and he reached for it. Placing it to his ear, he played the message recorded for him quietly and then replaced it on the table.

His face was white as a ghost.

"Once we have all we need, I'll take you to tour the cloning vats," his voice had drained of enthusiasm and he sounded almost afraid.

This woman must have had friends in high places, for him to personally clear the project.

[member="Scherezade deWinter"]
She was going to answer all his questions. Really. Starting not with who, but with what. It didn't matter that her mind had been imprinted with all the memories and information of her grandmother, who had been a slave on Tatooine nearly a millennia ago. She would never see Hutts as species that warranted the term 'people' in any way, shape, or form. She was also going to kill her grandmother some day, but that was not a story for now.

When the message came in and Voran moved to take it, Scherezade sighed and let her head drop backwards, emerald green eyes staring at the ceiling. This was so stupid. She hated the fact that she had to depend on others to get things done. She'd created the Glitter Bullets on her own, sure, but that wasn't something that required knowledge about all these... sciency stuff. Messing around with acid was easier than trying to figure out how to enter what goes where for the process of cloning.

But then his voie said that he'd take her to the cloning vats.

Scherezade blinked, her head still leaning back. She must've missed something.

With more effort than she wanted to admitted it had required, she raised her head again, looking at him, entirely missing the drained tone his words had held, "I've got everything I need," she said patting the crate, "I mean, I'm sure some of it has rotted because I wanted to be here a month ago, but there should be enough from that faux-seleton thing in the tail for it to work."

Still, it was going to require walking. She had to move. With a grunt and a string of curses that could make a sailor blush, the Sithling pushed herself off the chair and almost fell on her own crate. "I'm good."



Nox Aeternum.
Faux skeleton thing?

Voran blinked incredulously at the young woman, who appeared to lack a full knowledge of xenobiology, or at least, a working knowledge enough to fuel a cloning operation. Was the other guy sure about this? He closed his gaping mouth after several long moments of rethinking his life, then managed to bristle.

"Okaaaaaay," he heaved a sigh as he reached into his desk and pulled out the necessary documents. "I'll handle the clearance, of course, I just need you to sign the liability waivers here, here, and... here," he pointed with a pen in hand, which he immediately handed over to her.

"I wonder if I should even bother asking why you want to clone Hutts. The Force knows, they breed enough on their own." His eyes clouded over as he mused over a distinct disdain for the slug race, aware of their abject disregard for sentient rights. Unlike his contemporary, Kerk was a man with strong moral fiber. Or he liked to think so, at least.

Racism was hardly becoming, and he knew that.

"I'm sorry," he shook his head, "that was insensitive of me. I should be more delicate in my word choice."

The good doctor smiled. "When you finish, I can take you down to sublevel C and we can tour the facilities. There will be plenty of staff members on hand to assist you in your efforts, Miss deWinter."

[member="Scherezade deWinter"]
There was signing to be done. Scherezade blinked, obviously too intoxicated to be able to read the documents properly. Still, she didn't object as her signature began to form itself over all the needed areas. She'd read it at some other point in the future, when her mind was not as foggy as it currently was. In some systems this probably constituted her signatures as invalid, but right now, she couldn't quite car less.

The man spoke, saying if he should even bother asking what she wanted.

Scherezade looked at him as she took another drink from her bottle. He had no love for Hutts and that was understandable. Few people did. She wasn't among those few people anyway. But what she had, even in her incredibly intoxicated state, was something most people lacked entirely - imagination.

"I want a little army of baby Hutts that I can train to follow orders like puppies and then strap bombs to them and send them on suicide missions," she answered truthfully, "people scan for droids, or near humans. No one ever thinks to check for baby Hutts because it hasn't really been done before. At least not anywhere that caused someone to write it down in a mention. Most Hutt also tend to keep the babies inside their pouch until the babies turn into semi adults, so really, the percentage of population, including population living in Hutt Space, that has ever seen a baby Hutt, is nearly nonexistent."

And that... Was the gist of it.

"I also think it'd be best if we kept it off the records," she added, remembering her original plan, "if intel regarding this falls into the wrong hands, the CIS cannot be held responsible. Anyway, I'm sure you've glanced at my CIS file, so this shouldn't be such a huge surprise."

It took effort. Too much effort, to force herself up from the chair. She just needed to lay down for a little bit, maybe get some food and some sleep. But this wasn't the time for that.

"Let's see those facilities. And I also need info on how much time it's going to take and all that jazz."



Nox Aeternum.
His jaw slacked as she explained her purpose, eyes widened with disbelief. She was... incredibly forthcoming, he had to give her that. What she described was tantamount to birthing sentient beings into slavery, and while he despised Hutts, the humanitarian in him screamed internally. This whole ordeal smacked of xenos rights violations, and several breaches of the CIS charter.

When she mentioned it might be best to go off the record, he could only manage a single, dry laugh in response. "You don't say," he murmured, entirely defeated. The reality sank in that he had no power to undo what had just been done, and he watched powerlessly as an extremely warped woman signed away the lives of unborn space slugs.

He took the papers from her crestfallen, then placed them neatly in a pile on the corner of his desk. With his left hand, he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and mopped away some of the sweat that had formed on his brow.

"Right this way, if you would," he recited, as if scripted. He turned to the back of his office and tugged at the bookshelf there, which gave an uncharacteristic rumble as it began to shift, then slide to one side. Once it was sufficiently cleared, the scientist gestured to a staircase revealed and began his descent.

The literal darkness before them was nothing compared to the sensation that pemeated the Force, even if the good doctor himself were blind to that fact. He did feel a shiver go down his spine, but he attributed that to the grim business he had just become party to.

[member="Scherezade deWinter"]
As the man began to open the secret doorway, Scherezade paused, leaning with her hips against the table. Staying up straight was surprisingly challenging. She had to take a few deep breaths to settle her mind again and to make the world stop spinning. And if the world stopped spinning, there was only one thing to do; her bottle came loose from her belt and she took another swig from it.

The doorway had opened by the time she was done, and she picked her crate up, since no offer to carry it had been provided. Whatever. She'd carried it all the way here, she could keep at it for a few more minutes if she didn't fall over. She did wonder though, if she fallen over and the contents spilled, would they still be usable? As confirmed before, her knowledge about how cloning worked and what was needed was severely lacking. There was a reason she'd reached out for help with it rather than ran experiments on the ship.

Once inside, Scherezade froze after a few steps.

"What the krak?" she asked in surprise. It was dark. Very dark. Memories of the Darkness flashed in front of her eyes and she fell backwards, sitting down on a stair. Closing or opening her eyes made no difference. She'd walked into the Darkness. Her breathing became hard and sweat beaded her forehead.

And of course, there was that entire sensation from the Force, but to her lit of woozy priorities, it was hardly at the top.

"Turn a light on," she squeaked, shutting her eyes. It was too dark.



Nox Aeternum.
"You don't enjoy the darkness?"

The voice did not come from Doctor Voran, but from the shadows that surrounded their descent. It was no single direction, but everywhere and yet nowhere. As if to acquiesce to a simple request, the world shifted and grew hazy, the beginnings of a transition from real to surreal. In her awareness of the Force, [member="Scherezade deWinter"] would sense that the fabric of reality was tearing apart at the seams not far from her.

It was cold, but hot. Dark, but also bright. All things that the mind could perceive bent around a single point, and it both collapsed and expanded all at once. Sith Magic was an art that perverted the natural order, and when someone called upon it, even those unblessed by the Force were affected.

Kerk Voran doubled over in a cold sweat, and the shadows flickered all around them. The light behind her disappeared in an instant as the door slammed shut, and it was unfathomably dark all around her for several breaths.

Then, a small, cold light flashed to life before her eyes. The green flames were unnatural even simply to behold. More unnerving still was the figure that now stood illuminated before her. "Leave us," the soft, rasping voice commanded of Dr. Voran as a pair of emerald eyes never left the young woman.

The browbeaten, afflicted doctor shuffled back toward the door, past deWinter, barely able to even move. He struggled and ultimately lost consciousness only centimeters from freedom.

Where she sat, the pale visage of the Sith was crouched only a short distance away. They were at eye level with one another this way. "You have come seeking something," he considered, "and I have approved your request."

There was little else to be said of it, other than that he would show her to the vats she sought.

"Tell me," he asked, "what drives you? What is your motivation?"
A voice asked her if she did not enjoy the darkness. Scherezade shook her head, still holding on to the wall. There was a difference between the darkness and the Darkness, but for her, the former led to the latter. The few times she slept prior to the horrible night, it had always been with a night light. The fear ran deep; there were traumas that five hundred years in the Darkness would not easily be undone.

She could feel the changes happening round her, though she didn't know how to put words to mouth to describe it. She held on, the sweat running down her face harder. She gasped, her body frozen, unable to fight it, unable to run away.

And then it stopped.

Scherezade opened her eyes, the look of terror all too easy to read on her face. She had not learned to master the outward appearance of her emotions. Right now, she was terrified.

And now a figure was standing in front of her, weird lights behind him.

Even through her fear, her mind played connect the dots. The man she had been speaking with was not the man she was supposed to be speaking with. The one in front of her was. And still her body shook, the effect of the previous seconds' happenings still thundering through her body and mind.

And now the new man was at eye level with her.

Scherezade wiped the sweat off her face on the back of her hand. All she could do was nod when he said she'd come seeking something and that he approved it. She'd been right. This was the man she was supposed to come see.

And now he wanted to know what drove her, what her motivation was.

"With the Hutt clones?" she asked, blinking. Her voice was just barely above a whisper now, "I like to surprise people. Cause chaos. No one ever expects baby Hutt slugs with bombs strapped them."

But what did she want beyond that? "Freedom."



Nox Aeternum.

The word resonated through the darkness, sweet like honey. It was a dark promise, one made unto itself and offered to anyone who could hear it, anyone at all who would listen. To the world, to the entire Galaxy, every event and every infinitely small atom was a link in an impossibly long chain.

To a Sith, the ultimate end was the notion of being able to break that chain. Freedom was the thing that practitioners always strived toward, and yet, the path often consumed them. The word crashed down on him in the form of extreme amusement. She sought something far more unattainable than she could possibly imagine.

It made her malleable.

It created possibility.

If she had the guidance, it could even make her powerful.

As one further along that same path, he was duty bound to offer it. "Yours is a long and winding road, child," he rasped with a smirk pulling at the edge of his black lips. "The walk will threaten to break your legs at every turn. So, allow me to show you how to pass the first obstacle."

He lifted his arm, blackened and skeletal, and snapped. The sound pierced the veil and the darkness seemed to ripple like water disturbed. It shifted, shivered, and shattered like glass. Left in its place was an austere laboratory, lit up brightly.

"Welcome to my lab," he told her.

[member="Scherezade deWinter"]
"I am already broken," Scherezade said in response. It was all too easy to see on her; the bags under the eyes, the skin hue of someone who was both malnourished and did not get proper sleep, the state of her clothes, her hair, her everything. And still her insides did not match her outside. She had felt her pieces crack, shatter, and break. She had tried to collect them, to bring herself back, to be the young adventure loving, chaotic bringing, big eyed girl with endless curiosity and appetite for adventure that she had been before they broke her.

She had failed.

She had to cover her eyes with her arm when the surroundings changed again. They were in the lab now. Slowly, she brought her arm down, allowing her eyes to adjust to the harsh lights.

Only now did Scherezade realize she was still sitting down. With effort, too much effort, she forced herself up to her legs, the crate with the Hutt remains still by her side. Her hand went to her belt and she removed her waterskin from it, taking a long gulp from the liquor that filled it instead of water.

"This is where we make my Hutt babies?" she asked, looking at the man, forcing her mind to concentrate on what was happening now and not let it run back to the memories of those who had broken her.



Nox Aeternum.
His tongue clicked disdainfully at her initial response. Such resignation from an aspirant on the dark path? Was her Master such that he demanded subservience and instilled a weakness and dependency in his student? Pangs of irritation threatened to creep into his mind at the thought, but he kept a tight grip on the reins of his emotional response. A Sith did not transcend humanity and evolve into a Lord without learning to control the avenues which led to power.

Instead, it was her turmoil that he tasted. It was bitter and sour in equal measure. The girl hemorrhaged both regret and disappointment into the Force, and he realized now that she was unshapen clay in more ways than he could have gleaned at face value. What a wonderful discovery, this deWinter girl.

"This is where you make whatever you like," he answered dutifully. His request was simply to assist her with cloning, but to tempt her with unlimited possibility was to give [member="Scherezade deWinter"] a glimpse of what might come to pass. A single taste of power could intoxicate one for a lifetime. "You are limited only by the scope of your imagination.

I am well equipped to foster that, with the backing of the Confederacy and its considerable coffers." His blackened lips twisted into a wry smile. "Let me show you how they work."

He moved toward the vats slowly, to allow her a chance to keep up. In reality, he wanted for the girl to drink in his words. Xenro wished to learn her value, and whether it extended beyond simple, single-minded destruction.

There were many invaluable teachings to be rendered to one worthy.

That was how the Sith remained pure.
You are limited only by the scope of your imagination.

Scherezade looked at [member="Xenro"], a breath caught in her throat. That was... That was exactly what she had told Gerwald, time and time again. If they could imagine it, they could do it, and the rest was just figuring out how. It was what made them strong, it was what made them free. But she had never imagined he would do what he had, and had no way to prepare for the possibility of things going down that way. And thus she had broken, which in turn caused... Exactly this. Suddenly from a generally ignored, unwanted, or just barely tolerated within the CIS, those within power saw the potential to weaponize her.

Still, she swallowed it down, and followed Xenro as he walked towards to the vats, her eyes taking everything in. She didn't fully comprehend in depth what she was seeing. Cloning had not been something her grandmother had been knowledgeable about, and so there was only very surface level information in her mind regarding it. She probably shoul have done her own research, but... Well, there were priorities.

"Is this just for cloning?" she found herself asking, "what if I found the last specimen of a species and wanted to bring them back? Create them all over again but include genetic diversity, not just copies of the last patient?"

Her fingers slid against the glass of one of the vats. Her questions weren't about a new idea. She had been thinking about it for a while before... Before the horrible night. And even if the answer was that yes, this could be done, there would be no one she could do it for. But somehow... Somehow she felt like she just had to know.



Nox Aeternum.
His eyes trailed toward the girl slowly as she spoke, her treacherous words every ounce as delightful as he hoped they would be. To play God was the birthright of the powerful, whether to create or to destroy. His own mastery was the power over Death, and yet, all alchemy was science. All of his knowledge in the Force could be trivialized and melted down to simple things. Cloning was but one door in an endless hallway, and this child had only just taken her first steps.

Sheev Palpatine was credited with saying that the Dark Side of the Force was a pathway to many abilities that some considered to be unnatural, once. That statement barely scratched the surface of the truth. [member="Scherezade deWinter"] sought knowledge from a Sith Alchemist, and he deigned to grant it to her.

But all alchemy was bought at a price, and she would soon have to pay hers.

"The nature of cloning, that is, to replicate the genetics of a specie and create new life from the resulting specimen, carries with it a multitude of possibilities. Provided you have a sufficient sample, there is virtually nothing stopping you from breathing life into something long extinct." There was a pause as he considered his own words. Things such as the Mythosaur of Mandalorian fame were impossible to find, as they had been hunted down and their parts savaged beyond the point of no return. Still, his words rang no less true.

If she had an idea, he would certainly allow her to humor him with it.

"Assuming you found samples of other species compatible with the template," he continued, "it would not be impossible for you to alter certain traits, or introduce new ones."

He glanced toward the vat and placed his hand against it. She would see now the blackened bone that rested there, stripped of flesh and sinew. "That knowledge comes with time," he told her, "and patience. To learn such things requires dedication, and sacrifice."

He did not emphasize the final word, but it felt no less weighty falling from his lips.
Scherezade stared at Xenro as he spoke. Even through her boozy fog she could taste... Was it hunger? Was it interest? No, he didn't seem to be the type of person to fake it. If he had no interest in her being here, she would have been out of the door much before now. He was feeding her information. With a spoon, sure, enough to give her a taste but not the key to doing what she wanted to be done.

But did she still want it?

She had told Gerwald time and time again that if they could imagine it, they could do it, and the rest was just a matter of figuring out how. And she had imagined a future for the Lupines, a future that she wanted because she was in love with him in a way she had not thought possible, and she wanted to gift him with a future that he had probably only dared fantasize about but hadn't realized was possible.

But Gerwald left her. She had been fighting for her life, stuck in an alternate dimension for what she thought was years but in the real world had only been a week. And in that time, Gerwald had become an item with her adoptive sister, Katrine. A Lupine too. And while she broke, while she could not breathe without pain, the two of them were together, happy together. The Darkness had told that she had two people when she entered it and would have none when she left. The Darkness had spoken a very harsh truth.

Scherezade closed her eyes, wishing the tear had not rolled out of it.

"I don't have anything left to sacrifice," she finally whispered, "I have no friends. No family. No home that I can return to. All I have is what you see before you, and I wouldn't insult you by assuming you failed to notice my... State."

Would that mean the knowledge was out of her hands? That she would never be able to learn it? Her mother was a great Alchemist. So was her grandfather. But she... She'd never even met them, not as an adult. She remembered their faces from before the Gulag, but she had been a baby then. And here she was now, barely seven months of existence, a complete and broken mess.



Nox Aeternum.
"So long as you persist," he told her, "there is always more that the darkness can take."

It seemed like a strange thing to say, but the Path of the Sith was one walked alone. You were led by meat dangled before you by a Master until finally you were strong enough to take it for yourself, and once you ate the meat you inevitably moved on to the hand that held it. A Sith Lord was never a friend nor partner.

"You had the things you love taken from you," he suggested, "so, why cling fast to things you deem unworthy of mention?" The Dark Lord turned from her to regard the vat, and he flicked his wrist callously. The sample she provided rose into the air and hovered there for a moment, but he never glanced in that direction. "The powerful take what they want," he explained, "and the meek struggle to stay out of the way."

The mangled Hutt parts levitated toward him and over his head, then overtop of the liquid that slowly filled the Cloning Vat. "First, we introduce the sample to the amino infused gel."

It dropped gracelessly in with a turgid 'plop,' then slowly sank into the green fluid.

"So tell me, Miss deWinter," Xenro cast a blank expression in her direction. "Do you walk from this place with nothing but an army of Hutts, or is there something else that you seek?"

[member="Scherezade deWinter"]
There was more that the Darkness could take. Scherezade blinked. Did he mean the Darkness, the darkside, something else? She did not know. But whichever it was, it rang true. She didn't know what else there was to take though, other than her life, and that was worth less and less with every passing day.

The powerful took what they wanted. But she wasn't powerful. She had potential, sure. She was not stupid enough to think otherwise. But that had been before the Darkness, before she broke. The pieces of herself and her potential lay on the floor of her adopted sister's ship. There was nothing left inside of her that could reach the strength that the girl who had entered the Darkness could.

Scherezade stared at the moving Hutt parts, Xenro telling her that the liquids inside of the vat he'd dunked them into being an amino infused gel.

And then came the question.

The answer, was easy enough.

"I thought I would only leave with an army of Hutts," she said quietly, "but now... I seek something else. I... I want to learn Sith Alchemy."

So simple, so true. But... "But I don't know if I'm strong enough."