Star Wars Roleplay: Chaos

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Barma Sector​
It was such a shame that her friend Caius Flavian had thrown his lot in with the Republic, Taeli thought. He had made such plans for this system, to be the heart of what had been yet another of the Imperial Remnants of the galaxy. And then, he had hitched his star to the constellation of the Republic and that had collapsed along with that beaten and broken power. However, she had made good use of that old friendship at the time. Aurora Industries had a massive operation in the Carida system, shipyards churning out new ships, foundries and research facilities for weapons, droids, and other technologies. Six orbital yards hung in orbit, employing thousands of native Caridans as per her agreement had been.

It was the perfect place to hold a clandestine meeting as she had plenty of excuse to be on the world.

Through her agent, she had sent a coded message for one of the Circle Lords, one that had some influence when it came to affairs to the area of space around Bastion. She had requested a meeting with Lord [member="Tirdarius"] to discuss... many things. She didn't have too much time however. The Alliance was moving towards its first offensive against the First Order, and she would be taking part as her public role as a high-ranking Jedi Master.

Here though, leaning against a pedwalk railing that overlooked the Carida Military Academy's training courtyard, she was something else entirely. Below her, men and women were in the middle of some exercise, under the watchful eye of the instructors of this academy. Even in neutral space, Carida still produced plenty of officers for use in a myriad of factions in the galaxy. They still held true to that Imperial tradition.

Garbed in a concealing black robe, hood raised, she waited for the man to arrive. And here... she was not playing the role of a Jedi Master. She would be playing her true role, one that she at times ached to reveal publicly.
Carida, Barma Sector

The men and women in uniform marched in lockstep, perfectly co-ordinated, their every move screaming of a level of military discipline that would be entirely alien to anyone not familiar with the need to maintain a sense of cohesion within a unit. A place like this was not designed to encourage potential or nurture one's individual talents: it was designed to break someone down, then build them back up into a person of use, highly trained, highly capable, one that could serve and yet lead. Ever an interesting take on Sith principles. It seemed unlikely that any would imagine that the men and women training on Carida would understand that, but hidden beneath the protocols and the mindless training drills, an undercurrent of basic Sith practice ran strong. And they do not even know it.

It was an odd thing, to observe these people in their practice: each reflected hopes and aspirations to become something more than they had been when they'd arrived, and yet they were all being moulded to be someone else's idea of suitability: to match an archetype. It was a level of indoctrination common to all military branches, no matter where you were. The rules were simple: obey orders. The Sith struggled with that one, orders questioned and considered, modified according to the understanding of the individual, and rarely ever followed without question. And if their superiors ordered any of these men or women to kill me, they'd attempt it without a second thought. That was as it needed to be, of course: second-guessing your commanders was a sure-fire way to get people killed.

The invitation that had brought Tirdarius here had been unexpected, much as the location for the meeting itself. Not your traditional choice, but it tells me something of the one who requested it. A more forthcoming individual would have visited the Ascendancy in person, presenting themselves to the Circle in overt fashion. The more clandestine nature of this visit suggested that there was something to be hidden, not something that individual wished to reveal. Which offers us leverage, of a sort, should it be needed. It demanded a matching level of secrecy, of course: the one who had sent the message did not wish it to be known that she had dealings with the Sith.

Tirdarius had taken a ship to Bandomeer, at the end of the Braxant run, then taken a more discrete civilian passenger shuttle to Suulstine V, at the end of the Hydian Way, and signed himself up with a batch of new recruits headed to train on Carida. The infiltration hadn't proven difficult: a simple illusion weaved around him to make him appear younger, a change of clothing, a fake identification card produced by Ascendancy Intelligence to match the more youthful persona, and it had been a simple matter to trick the recruiting officers into accepting another promising candidate. And then to disappear from memory as soon as we had arrived. It was a trick he had used so many times over the years, and it never hurt to remain in practice.

His contact had made it plain that they would meet nearby: in view of the training grounds, but above them, out of sight of the casual observer, but sufficiently in view that nothing untoward might happen. No flashing lightsabers joined in battle should matters go awry, he thought wryly, as if he'd need to stoop to such things. Still, the precautions made sense, and their mysterious correspondent was here. He could sense that and, now, approaching the meeting place, he could see them, too: concealed in a dark cloak of expensive weave, such as a Sith might wear. Intriguing indeed.

"Very rare that we receive a communication that does not include context for meeting," he said in a curt, business-like manner, moving to stand beside the robed individual, stormy-grey eyes staring out at the same scene as the other observed. To her eyes, he would appear a young, dark-haired officer in a uniform appropriate to the imperialistic style here on Carida - grey, rather than the black used by Ascendancy military - and certainly not who she was waiting for. Still, if she was what he thought, she might yet see through such a guise. "More unusual still to find myself here. I hope your reasons for summoning me are important."

| [member="Taeli Raaf"] |​

She smiled within the shadow of her hood as a seemingly young officer approached her. If she didn't know any better, she would say he was exactly what he portrayed to anyone watching. His uniform was crisp and pressed, so even that spoke to her that this was a man who took himself, and his appearance, seriously. He also, in the few words he had spoken, revealed to her that he was not one for idle chit chat. The curtness bespoke a need to get to the business at hand... but the most intriguing thing was he had actually come. She had expected some servant first at least, one she would send back with the appropriate message to draw his attention to a meeting. It was refreshing in a way.

"You'll have to forgive the cloak and dagger nature of our meeting," she said quietly. "I've come to value my privacy, and it wouldn't do for such a meeting to be done where others might overhear. I do thank you for coming yourself however, my Lord."

She would turn slightly towards him, giving a slight profile of her face within the hood.

"Lady Arcanix, at your convenience," she said in way of introduction. It would be telling how he would react to such. If he was even half the Lord she expected him to be, and his presence in the Force told her he was powerful, he would know that name from the One Sith. He would also know who that identity was tied to, and the story that floated around it about her being a traitor to the Sith and defecting to the Jedi. However, as someone her apprentice said was appreciative of knowledge, he would know that the light side had no technique to fake the dark side aura that wafted around her... or the flash of yellow that temporarily replaced the vibrant purple they usually were.

How he reacted would be telling for how the rest of their meeting might go.
| [member="Taeli Raaf"] |​
Come to value my privacy. Oh, yes, he could well understand that inclination: in some ways, that was the true nature of the Sith, a sense of personal isolation that served to reinforce one's exceptionalism. After all, are we not unique? How can we surround ourselves with beings who can clearly understand so little about us? It was an ancient conceit, one he found amusing, but the truth of it remained nonetheless. To be alone was perfectly natural for those of their kind, and coming together in any form of collective always remained...dangerous. That we have achieved any stability in doing that is remarkable in and of itself.

The woman next to him did not need to present any credentials to prove that she was who she claimed to be: as she very well knew, her presence within the Force was more than sufficient evidence that she was one of their kind. The tempestuous darkness that swirled within her was like a shadow in the corner of your eye: nibbling away at your conscious mind, until you had no choice but to try and seek it out, no matter how elusive it felt.

You could not pretend to the darkness: some might skirt along the edges, tapping into it without any deeper commitment, but such beings almost always succumbed to the insanity that derived from trying to maintain that impossible balance. There were techniques to hide the darkness within oneself: he knew several, though all were complex and had their share of problems for the one using them. But you could not fake what you were, not really, and her presence gave every sense of being similar to his. And though our own might expect all manner of deception in our dealings, that much is the one true form of honesty we can offer.

He smiled faintly, and then seemed to shimmer in the air, the neatly-pressed grey uniform melting away, replaced by soft black robes carefully cut to flow along his slender frame, the fresh-faced youthful appearance transmuting into that of an older man, lines evident on the forehead, around the eyes and mouth, though the stormy-grey irises remained the same, clear and penetrating. Dressed in similar mode now, it was evident in more overt fashion that they were alike, though they had never met. Laying our cards out on the table for all to see, aren't we? The thought was amusing, if nothing else.

"I am Tirdarius," he said simply, offering a name that he so rarely heard, even among others. Chances are that she already knew who he was: a message sent to the Circle in such a fashion was bound to draw one of their number, and only a few would be likely to respond. "Rumour had it that you had turned your back on us, walked away from our vision," the Sith Lord added, his careful diction containing just a hint of amusement at the words. "A lie you have worked hard to cultivate, haven't you?"

It was an obvious enough deception, but a believable one: many Sith had walked away from the calling of their Order over the years, drawn by the lure of an easier life, one where a person might be able to stroll down a corridor without being concerned about a rival setting a trap for them, or where one could live without the constant drain that came from ever being painted as an evil monster. We are the ones parents tell their children of: behave, or the Sith will come for you! An absurdity, but not one all are strong enough to live with. There had been defectors, many, over the years. The few who survived knew they lived on borrowed time: you did not walk away from the Sith.

Now he stood before a woman who was thought to have done the same: a traitor to their cause, to be taken and dealt with in a manner sufficiently severe as to discourage future defections, an example made for all others who might waver. But her presence here is sufficient proof of the lie. Deception was the way of the Sith, and here was another who had clearly taken those old lessons to heart. To reveal the lie speaks of necessity, however. Perhaps that was why she had drawn him here.

"So, a Sith you were, and a Sith you remain," he noted softly, turning slightly to face her now, grey eyes appraising, noting the strange purple-irises of his counterpart, though the sudden change that had come over them a little while past had not escaped his notice. "You must have chosen to remain apart from us for a reason. Why choose now to break that isolation?"

"When I was in college on Lorrd, I took a liking to theater and my director gave me some life-lasting advice," she replied, amusement tinging her words. "When you get a role, commit to it so much that even those closest to you believe the lie. I took that to heart."

She looked out over the training courtyard below. In some ways, what the instructors were putting their cadets through was in much a way of making them believe a role. Preparing them, molding them, into some of the finest military officers the galaxy knew.

"I saw the chance my sister was offering, inadvertently as attempting to save me, and took it," she continued. It felt good to confess all of this openly, she had to admit that to herself. Deception was the way of the Sith, and she had taken that lesson deep to heart to pull off what she had done and what she was doing. Sometimes though, a brief moment of honesty was needed. To keep such a secret bottled up for so long, well one could go insane from not speaking the words.

"I sold the deception in the only way I knew how, by completely embracing the role of a Jedi and fighting against the very Sith I had worked with. I invented a brand new variant of the light side aura spell, one that is anchored to the Marks of Darkness I was given as an acolyte so I need not worry about my concentration slipping from moments of excitement. I believe I've played the part quite well over the last few years, all things considered. The Sith want me dead as a traitor, and the Jedi believe me to be one of their staunchest Masters. But now..."

She would turn back to look at her fellow Sith, meeting his gray eyes with her violet ones.

"My apprentice has kept me appraised of the progress of the Ascendancy, and I believe we have mutual aligning interests. I'm sure you've received some reports about new Sithspawn being tested?"

That sly look in her eye would tell him all he needed to know about where such new monsters were coming from. She had established a reputation, once upon a time, of being an alchemist and sorceress, and it was clear she had not stopped those practices. If anything, she was working to push the boundaries of both magic and alchemy beyond what they already were.
| [member="Taeli Raaf"] |​
The essence of deception. To believe a lie was truth, so that not even the closest inspection might expose it for a falsehood...yes, that was a gifted approach, he had to admit. The problems come when you start to believe it yourself, rather than knowing it for a lie. How many had pushed too hard with their illusions, and found them made reality? It was a question that would make for a fascinating philosophical debate, but not one he intended to indulge at the present moment. It was clear enough that the woman before him knew the difference but, more importantly, her enemies did not. And that makes her very dangerous to them. He rather appreciated that.

That she had fought against Sith did not bother him in the slightest: their brethren tended to be fractious, contrary and all too willful for their own good, with a fair few ever balancing on a precarious line between orthodox adherence to the Sith way, and heresy. Tirdarius himself had ended the lives of more than a few: those who stepped out of line, those who turned against their own kind, those who placed themselves above the priorities of the greater Sith, an act for which there could be no forgiveness. Better a misguided Jedi than a Sith gone insane. One could be reasoned with. The other could only be destroyed.

It seemed that Arcanix's ruse as a Jedi Master had not stopped her from participating in the affairs of the Sith: to be keeping tabs on the Ascendancy suggested better intelligence than the Jedi Order was likely to be receiving, and if she was responsible for the Sithspawn that had emerged of late...that was an interesting revelation. Tirdarius had never cared for that use of Alchemy, personally, knowing that such dangerous creations could prove as lethal to their creators as to their enemies, and often felt they were a perversion, but their uses could not be denied. Several of the Lords of the Circle had reported new creatures of such a kind appearing around the Galaxy of late - some even in Ascendancy space - and now at least he knew the source. Interesting.

"Interesting that the Jedi fail to suspect neither your true allegiance, nor your experiments," he remarked with a touch of contemplativeness in his voice, amused at the glaring oversight on behalf of Jedi Intelligence services. To have a Sith Lord at the heart of their organisation...oh, if only they knew. "Perhaps we have rather overestimated their observation skills, or underestimated your ability to infiltrate. Either way, I sympathise. Being among them must be...uncomfortable."

Truth be told, he'd often felt the same way about being among other Sith: Force Users of their ego tended to clash more often than not, though the Ascendancy had been established as a place of peace enforced among them. A coherent shared vision keeping us focused on what must be done, rather than upon living as rivals with each other. The Jedi took it to an extreme, of course: their sense of peace was so pervasive that it was practically invitation to ennui. Amazes me that she hasn't gone on a killing spree among them just to relieve the tedium. He had to rather admire her self-restraint.

"If our interests align, how would you have us work with you?", he asked, Tirdarius ever being the kind that preferred to get to the bottom line. "Anarchy is not our goal, and the ancient rifts between our people are being closed as we focus on a grander purpose. Is this something you might align with? We serve the Ascendancy, above all other concerns."

She smiled as he mentioned how... tedious it must have been, being among the Jedi and not wanting to act on her base instincts. She did catch the faint hint of admiration for what she had done.

"The Jedi want to believe in the best of people," she responded. "When I first infiltrated the Republic, they put me in front of the entire Jedi Council and none of them caught anything but... ardor for becoming one of them. They were still cautious, making sure to put me through their whole rehabilitation program, but I'm a scholar at heart. Putting me in a room with plenty of reading material, of course I was going to mind my place and be a good little girl for the cameras and the Masters of the Order."

She stopped leaning against the rail, politely gesturing for them to take a walk along the length of the pedwalk. As they slowly walked along the walkway, she turned contemplative.

"But yes... it is tedious being among them some days," she sighed. "It helps though that, such as now, I can simply say I'm off on company business when I need to conduct an experiment. They have no authority to observe anything my company does, so it makes it quite easy to divert resources to establish secret facilities across the galaxy for my work. I've spent seven years building my power base, and it's grown to be quite... extensive."

She stopped again, turning to fully address him.

"I'm not interested in spreading anarchy, I've always believed that order as only a Sith can provide is what the galaxy needs. I was too young to have known the Sith Empire in its heyday, being a student on Lorrd I was more concerned with classes. My goals are to push the boundaries of Sith alchemy and sorcery beyond what our current knowledge is, to even rediscover secrets long thought lost to us during the years of the Gulag Plague and the 400 Years of Darkness... and to share that knowledge with the rightful successor to the old Sith Empire. So yes, I would support the Ascendancy in its objectives, but secretly of course. I would prefer to remain in this role I've crafted for a time still."

There was a mischievous glint in her eye, one that spoke of plans she still had that could be done in her role as a Jedi Master that would further the Grand Plan of the Sith.
Yes, she had caught onto the Jedi naivete beautifully: it was often true that they were prepared to look for a glimmer of hope even when staring into the eyes of their enemies. His own experiences of them were very different: all too often they had seen an enemy they must kill, and he had always responded with amusement for it. Those devoted to life, so willing to take mine, when I, one archetyped to take life, appear so reluctant to claim theirs. The Jedi found that confusing, and he could not help but take pleasure in that confusion. Perhaps that is how this one survives her tenure among them: knowing that she always holds something over their heads, and that they remind blind to it.

That the Jedi had also given her freedom to roam as she wished - had they no idea of the risks they took in allowing it? Tradition had always kept Jedi to their Temples, unless on assignment, and even then, rarely did they go alone. The temptations of the Dark are all too real, and they know that well enough to take precautions. To allow one of their own the freedoms that Arcanix had spoke eloquently to their faith in her: faith that was shockingly misplaced, and that the Sith was using for her own ends. Sad that they will only ever understand how well they have been played when it is far too late to do anything about it.

She was, in truth, exactly the sort of Sith he had always found himself trusting in turn: the ones that were so skilled in their concealment that even he could not be certain of the truth of them. Such often do not know the truth of themselves, and learn it only in that moment when they choose to reveal it. Arcanix had done this now, in presenting herself, and the truth of her was a Sith as dark as any he had encountered, but more subtle and devious than most. A dangerous woman, if she so desired to be so.

"To serve in secret is as much as the Sith might wish of you," he said softly, turning to her with an appraising expression, stormy-grey eyes glimmering. "We have our weapons and our blunt instruments, those that we might openly throw at the Jedi ranks, to expose their weaknesses." Far too many of them, in truth: the arts of subtlety were not often practiced among their kind now. "Yours is the hand that will help the Jedi stand in times of crisis, that will watch their backs and grant them confidence, and the one that holds the knife they will never see coming."

And that was ever the truth of it: sometimes the biggest threats to your existence were the ones you died never realising had never truly been your friend or ally. They were the ones who worked their way into your heart, such that one of your last thoughts might be that you wished that person was at your side, that they might have shielded you from the horrors and indignities of death. You might worry that your death would hurt them, and you would feel a pang of regret at that moment for the sorrow you caused them. And you would never know that it was their actions that had quietly led you to their death. What a sweet lie for someone to die for.

"But as we would have your support, so you will have mine," he continued, having never believed it appropriate that such service should only be one-way. Even the Empire of old never deserved unwavering loyalty absent payment of a sort. He didn't care for credits, nor favours: service to the Sith simply demanded that they work together, and thus, the best currency was always the one that need not be spoken of. "Should you require that we act, whether openly or through subversion, we can. If your cover needs reinforcement, our troops will provide the lie. You need but ask."

| [member="Taeli Raaf"] |​

She smiled as his words voiced aloud one aspect of her plan at least. The role she carved for herself in the GA was a reliable leader in the Jedi, a scholar at heart who was happy to spend her time making sure the archives were in order and artifacts retrieved. But as peace was becoming the byword of the Alliance in regards to the First Order, it was swiftly coming time for to put the next part of her plan into play. Forming her Inquisitors to hunt down any trace of the dark side within the GA and the New Jedi Order, with loyal zealots that would unwittingly at first and willingly later, serve their secret Sith master.

"I thank you for the offer of assistance. It will likely be necessary in the future that a play occur that would enable me to continue my cover, but allow me to meet with and establish myself better in Sith space," she said, her eyes roving to the military unit training below the pedwalk the two Sith stood upon. "Something believable, to assuage fears of a -ahem- relapse into my old ways."

Her attention once again shifted as a new drill began.

"Marvelously efficient, aren't they?" she said, gesturing at the soldiers and officers training below. "I always admired Caridians in their ability to craft soldiers and officers of a high caliber, and now I employ that service myself. A hangover from the days the planet was ruled by a man named Caius Flavian, an old friend. Such a relationship allowed me access to the instructors of the academy, and now... well you see what I will be taking delivery of in due time."

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