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Old Scars

Gaia Sunaris Cadera

It's a cat-astrophe!

Cassiopeia was back to what was, kind of, her home. She hadn't lived here for a while, after all - she now lived between Westralis & Mandalore. She balanced her time with her family and with official Mandalorian Empire business. She missed the planet, her old home where so many memories - and scars - were made. The orbital bombing of the city had left a lasting impression on the people despite that the forests were now growing to their full potential once more.

It was strange that she hadn't come back since Kaine went to prison. She believed Raiz had, but herself had left the planet alone. Was it because of what it entailed or was it just because she was busy? It wasn't very clear, even to herself.

An unusual set of circumstances had brought the woman back out to Myrkr. An old, seemingly abandoned listening station had been discovered on the far side of the planet. It hadn't yet been identified as to who controlled it or why it was placed, but the local planetary authorities felt it necessary to notify the Mandalorian Empire about it. Cassiopeia volunteered to investigate the situation. Several armed guards were with her, along with a Clan Australis group at the listening post already. Some were probably researching it, others were the guards.

She looked out the window of the transport, which overlooked the large forests, a small fog seemingly coming to spread over the land. She couldn't help but wonder why a listening station was posted and specifically, why hadn't it been seen before? It was clear it wasn't a Mandalorian or Clan Australis post - there was no records, even classified, of such a building being built in that area.

Stepping out of the transport with the guards, Cassiopeia examined the large station. What in the Manda was such an outpost doing out here?
The Black Flame
An array of lifeless, insectoid eyes appraised the armored savages as they stepped from their primitive shuttle and scurried up to the outpost perimeter. As they did, the underbrush swayed against the wind and with it went the nightmare cluster of eyes, pincers, and dangling legs - stalking through the dense jungle, preying on every pulse, heat flare, and electronic signature the intruders unwittingly left on display. Heart rates, weapons, armor, all of it danced across the inside of the observer's bulbous eyes; displaying it in rivers of information that flooded The Grand Admiral's display.

From lifetimes away, Lucien Eland Irridius observed the scene behind the eyes of the Viper Probe Droid - considering the leader of the pack of barbarians with a raised brow. "It never fails to amuse me" The chocolate Kriin-wood creaked as Irridius leaned back in his seat, thumbs tracing the elegant etchings that flowed through the entire piece.

"I'm afraid I lose your meaning, Grand Admiral" a much younger, less-refined, voice chimed in from an at-ease stand beside Irridius. The Grand Admiral didn't take his eyes off the feed from Myrkr as he responded,

"Their inexorable predictability"

There was a brief moment of silence as the younger man seemed to consider that for a moment, "I thought you had said that every enemy is predictable, Grand Admiral." the younger man put forth, eyes returning to the view of the Mandalorians slowly approaching the abandoned listening post on Myrkr.

"They are, but not in the way these savages are, Captain Hal. Their very culture demands it, really - as is a common theme with all primitive cultures in this galaxy. Codes, Canons of Honor and an inexplicable desire to prove one's worth through brutal, exposed honesty." Bringing his hands to a pleasant fold on his right knee, The Grand Admiral's face was consumed by a grin, "it makes it all so...easy."

The captain's spine rippled and his hands clasped tighter at the small of his back. He was no veteran, he was young and newly promoted after the death of The Grand Admiral's last XO - and he was not of noble birth. He spoke plainly and bluntly...not the like The Grand Admiral. His words could slither in the air and sometimes, as they just did, they turned to a kind of ice that slipped between the ribs.

He didn't know much about Mandalorians, but he felt sorry for them if they had crossed the Grand Admiral.

"Captain" Hal jerked from his thoughts and snapped to attention out of sheer force of habit, "notify communications that they will establish an immediate hololink with the command-computer of the outpost and that they are to open the main blast doors before rerouting communications to my personal transceiver."

The captain saluted, gave a quick acknowledgment and exited the Grand Admiral's personal office with a quick turn-of-heel. Irridius stood from his chair, running a tightly gloved hand one-last-time over the smooth chair before moving to a pedestal beside a pristine, antiquarian Coruscanti piano. When the Mandalorians entered the outpost they would find no life, only endless arrays of computers feeding the Shadow of Regret the visual and audio feeds of probe droids scattered about the dense jungles of Myrkr.

And the ghostly form of Lucien Irridius as it materalized before them.

[member="Cassiopeia Australis"]

Gaia Sunaris Cadera

It's a cat-astrophe!
Cassiopeia wasn't really in the mood to deal with strange situations - the woman had been feeling slightly off after Barataria, the end of her pregnancy, and the adjustment she had to make. It was... A lot of adjustments. Many of them were good, great even but still. She was angry on some level at all the crap that kept getting slung at her, her best friend Yasha, and her family. Both immediate and extended. This would probably just be another one to add to the long list of crap.

She examined the listening outpost from afar as the commander of the operation came up. Cassiopeia asked a few questions, "Do we know when it was built and by whom?"

"Negative. It looks like it has been uninhabited for a while - maybe before Clan Australis set up on Myrkr."

Cassiopeia nodded, concerned. Myrkr had been the center of attacks before. That still didn't really explain why there was an outpost here, though. No signals had been picked up on their various scanners and radars. Was it still broadcasting information? And to whom? "Be careful what we say," she said quietly to the Commander. "You never know, especially with how the galaxy is in this day and time..."

After a few moments, the blaster doors opened - with no help? Cassiopeia perked a brow, suspicious about the situation. Several armored guards in beskar went into the station first followed by Cassiopeia.

She folded her arms as a person began to materialize in front of her. She rolled her eyes, somewhat unsurprised. Of course, someone would enter a connection when they entered. It could never just be a simple, weird, random building. There had to be some type of attachment to it, some situation that would need to be resolved. She would wait for him to introduce himself.

[member="Lucien E. Irridius"]
The Black Flame
The systems on Myrkr were quite an establishment, the manifestation of espionage genius really - though it was hardly difficult amid the trees of Myrkr. The metallic nature of the jungles dampened the effects of all electronic sensors, scanners, and transceivers. The listening post remained hidden, and with small, field antenna placed strategically throughout the jungle, it allowed the probe droids to discreetly download information to the listening post on a discreet network put together below the canopy. Transmitting the data back to The Shadow of Regret was easy until the Mandalorian arrived in force gain, but a dose of creativity solved that issue.

Just as he had at the original battle of Myrkr, the Grand Admiral had the listening post transmit its data in encryptions hidden within the holonet data being transferred to and from the planet. If the Mandalorians weren't looking for it, they likely would have likely never found it. The most genius part though was this technique allowed them to steal bits of encrypted data without anyone being the wiser.

But all magnificent things came to abrupt if not cared for properly and the Mandalorians had only recently required closer attention again. Unfortunately for the galaxy, cockroaches had a way of scrambling to the top of the Rodian trash heaps again and again. And now, The Grand Admiral faced those cockroaches again - and just as before, he wanted something.

"I am thoroughly impressed with your people's ability to avoid extinction" Irridius began, without introduction, his hand dancing through the air before him as he called up records from the post's long data-entries, "I would have assumed that my last meeting with your people would be our last you are, surprising me once again Ms..."

His eyes studied an intel report for a brief moment, then focused again on her, "Cassiopeia, is it? A name with a sense of debonair, but not from the Core Worlds or the savages...Mid Rim perhaps?"

He folded his hands in the traditional Imperial fashion and watched them all. He wanted to let her know that he was well informed, but not just how well informed. Not yet.

Gaia Sunaris Cadera

It's a cat-astrophe!
Cassiopeia was, in truth, somewhat expecting something strange, weird, and probably insulting to happen. Just from knowing how her life had played out so far, it was easy to assume that whatever happened would probably be annoying and potentially dangerous.

She did have to wonder how long the station had been there - was there more hidden stations? Were there other items that might be apart of the listening station? If there was nobody doing maintenance on the listening post, then there had to be some type of backup system, cameras somewhere, etc that would be relaying information to whoever was behind all of it. Several of the researchers and guards stood at attention, wondering what was going on with the holo communications. Who was trying to contact them?

Cassiopeia kept her arms folded, her eyes staring at the hologram of the man. "I am thoroughly impressed that someone who assumed we'd be extinct would waste resources on a listening post." She retorted, although probably not the best way to greet the man. However, if he wanted to start with insults, then she was more than willing to oblige. She didn't mind a good exchange of words, anyway.

He knew her name, which... Was something worrisome? She assumed he had some type of records on her - but apparently, he didn't have to know where she was from. With a slight smirk, "Chroma Zed." She had no reason to lie about her place of birth. There was nothing left there, after all. It was just a dead village full of decomposed corpses.

"How may I help you, Mr...?"

[member="Lucien E. Irridius"]
The Black Flame
"Irridius." A breath of pause "Grand Admiral Irridius."

He couldn't help but give himself a satisfied grin, lips curling ear to ear. He ignored her remarks on the listening post, finding himself in no obligation to explain simple intelligence to a savage. "I have come under the pretense that we have found ourselves a common enemy. Funny how those who break 'the rules of war' are those morally incoherent fools who write them first."

Therein lies the truth to the listening posts. Information was power and he knew that the Galactic Alliance had bombed Myrkr just as he had. What separated the wolf from the hounds, however, was that the bombing of Myrkr by the Galactic Alliance was nothing short of a tactical and strategic catastrophe. When the First Fleet had bombed Myrkr, it was done with strategic precision - not out of irrational hatred driving what should have been a calculated operation. Such thoughtless action left you open to the manipulation of your enemies by others.

It left you open to a man like Irridius.

"The Galactic Alliance has become an opposing force to my goals of reestablishing a true Empire - it stands in the way of true Imperial Justice, focusing on destroying the true Imperialism while allowing pretenders to rise. Now we have what? The First Order? The Galactic Empire? Pretenders with names of ill-repute."

"And now I find myself in possession of information I can't make use of on my own, but I believe that your people will find...entertaining."

Gaia Sunaris Cadera

It's a cat-astrophe!
Cassiopeia nodded. It wasn't like she could shake his hand, after all. The hologram in front of her made sure there was no personal connection between Irridius. Grand Admiral, eh. He wasn't too grand - after all, she had never heard of him before.

Despite their first encounter and her really not feeling like he was worth much of her time, she couldn't help but agree with the man in terms of how people broke the rules. It was a bit crazy - the supposedly light sided factions that are okay orbitally bombarding civilian areas and subsequently killing hundreds, if not thousands of them. It definitely seemed like something [member="Lucien E. Irridius"] would do. But alas, apparently the Galactic Alliance was their common enemy?

She felt confident to say while the Alliance and the Mandalorian Empire were not on good terms, especially after that, she wasn't so sure if she felt that they and Irridius would exactly be allied in some way.

She perked a brow at the last couple of comments. "Well, the Galactic Empire is on its way to its death, if not already there. Just a matter of time." She looked straight at his eyes in the hologram. "And why exactly should we trust or even remotely believe you?"