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The Enemy of my Enemy is my Frenemy~

The Rovagug
Writer
These were indeed strange times we lived in, where former enemies laid in bed with each other to fight a common enemy. The Emperor of the Sith Empire inwardly despised having to meet such a traitorous creature as the one he was waiting for that if was not a master at concealing his feelings, his rage would've melted the durasteel around him as he sat idly in a conference room on the reincarnation of the space station he had destroyed many months earlier in an attempt to kill the very person he was meeting with! Strange times indeed... But Kaine had agreed to meeting with her, and this time he wouldn't go back on his promises so long as things went along as smoothly as possible. If this went according to plan, then the Empire would truly gain a powerful ally.

Beside him was a short, scrawny man with a greased up comb-over with a tight Imperial uniform clinging to his small frame. A pair of thin glasses sat perched atop his hawk-like nose, and his lips constantly moved as if he were in a deep conversation with himself. Why did the Emperor bring him along? Well the answer was simple, as the unimpressive man so happened to be one of the best diplomatic agents Kaine possessed in his personal entourage. He trusted the man to do exactly as he was told in the most efficient fashion possible, but as the minutes ticked by he became more and more unsettled as the time for the historical meeting between the Grand Admiral of the Fringe Confederacy, and the Sith Emperor of the Sith Empire loomed nearer.

A light ring on Kaine's holo-communicator alerted the Emperor that the target had indeed reached the proximity of the station, and had landed in one of the many hangerbays nearest to the conference room. It wouldn't be long now...

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
She'd come alone; an old habit from Vagrant Fleet days, or even from the time when she was Moridin's roving law enforcer. The rebuilt station's irony as a meeting location did not escape her. A gesture from one or both of them; but that was up in the air and pointless besides. Masked, her Force presence detectable but unrecognizable, she passed through the station and entered the room where His Majesty awaited.

She took a seat. Her mask recessed, sliding away from the face of Shira Karrde. The Sith power Mask morphed it into the face of Ashin Varanin, only for a moment.

"Hello, Kaine. It's been a long time since Lwhekk."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
There was a moment where Kaine's inner rage almost reached the forefront, and nearly destroyed his composure, but he buried that anger deep inside for another time. He gave the most forced smile in galactic history, and gestured for Ashin to take a seat at the table. He cleared his throat ever so idly, "Indeed it has..." He struggled to say her name, as he knew it would come out slathered with metaphorical venom, but he managed to somewhat negate the bad taste in his mouth when he spoke. "Ashin... I see you are doing well after our last encounter." He gestured to the right side of his face, which was marked by a number of scars that twisted it ugly when he made a facial expression. Luckily the left side of his face was unmarked, and therefore remained handsome.

"I am glad you decided to meet me here, as I do believe you know what must be done for the good of both of our people."

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
@[member="Kaine Zambrano"]

"Well, let's speak plainly, Your Majesty. If our territories were closer together, we'd have stormed each other's capitals by now." She offered a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "But the Republic is on the move, Omega is desperate to regain relevance, and with Black Sun brought to heel, they're gunning for you and they're gunning for me.

"You're partial owner of a powerful corporation called Consolidated Bacta Limited, a corporation which has no choice but to grow its product in my territory, at Verkuyl. Consolidated has always provided the Empire with mass quantities of kolcta, thanks to a deal with Kryptus while he worked for you. That is a state of affairs that we can continue to endorse. Here's my proposition. Assuming we're both about to be attacked, and with recognizance that our priorities will remain our own defenses, a mutual defense pact hurts neither of us. Because there is nobody else."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
Kaine nodded slowly when she talked about the impending Republic offensive in the wake of the Siege of Nar Shadda, it was to be expected of course, but Kaine would let the Republic make the first move against the Empire. Let them doom themselves by striking first, and giving the Empire a perfectly legitimate excuse to unleash their might against the Republic without having to play their hand first. When Ashin talked of a mutual defense pact, it sent a pang of mixed emotions through his very core. Kaine was, slightly unwilling to sign anything with the traitorous Ashin, but he knew that if they didn't, they would both perish against the Republic and Protectorate. "Very well, Admiral." He decided to use her military rank for a moment instead of her actual name, it made it easier for him.

"We will stand, the Empire and the Fringe, against those that will seek to destroy all that we stand for. The Republic and the Protectorate will soon regret their lapse in better judgement when we rain hellfire down upon them." He motioned to the Imperial officer that sat quietly through both of their initial talks, and produced a blank data pad that would serve as the ground work for the defense pact, but of course they had to solidify what this pact would entail for both of them. He took a moment to stare blankly at the data pad before he slowly slid it across the table to Ashin. "It's ironic... Before I became the Emperor I would have killed myself before creating any pact with you, but here I am anyways. Talking about alliances with the greatest traitor the Empire has ever known..."

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
Ashin snorted gently.

"You're mixing me up with Voracitos. I should watch my weight. But I don't suppose I can blame him for his long-range coup, cowardly as it was. Fully empowered by Apparatus, he still lost to me up close. He'd never have stopped my expansion in person."

She began working with the data pad.

"But that's neither here nor there. All I'm willing to commit, and all I think you're willing to commit, is provision of as much aid as we can spare, depending on whether we're under attack at the time. That, and a non-aggression pact covering acts by our respective factions' higher-ups and military assets, but not by our non-leader Knights and so forth. We both know the kids will have their fun and hold their grudges. No reason to jeopardize a perfectly valid pact for the sake of our small fry sniping at each other. I'll also throw in a clause guaranteeing the bacta and kolcta supply from Verkuyl to the Empire, barring Omega interference or troubles with Consolidated. Is this acceptable?"
 
The Rovagug
Writer
Kaine actually chuckled at Ashin's comment about Voracitos, who had been a long-time business partner of Kaine before he had started his training to become a Sith up until he died at the hands of Tyrin Ardik. However; he had hardly thought of Voracitos anymore, the memory of the morbidly obese Sith Lord fading from Kaine's mind as he had no reason to remember the dead. His thoughts turned back to the conditions Ashin was bringing forth for their mutual defense pact, and he found them completely sound. "It is acceptable, the Empire will greatly benefit from this new supply line of Bacta and Kolcta, and we will lend whatever aid when can for you when the Protectorate makes it's move. I hope to expect the same from the Fringe." If that was all that needed to be finalized, Kaine was ready to sign the mutual defense pact once Ashin did.

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
Ashin chuckled. "Another thought comes to mind. We were approached, once upon a time, with a moderately insulting offer to sell us your garbage -- gutted Captivitas-class vessels. I find myself curious which vessels you're phasing out in favor of more effective models. We both know the Empire's arsenal inside and out, so feel free to just throw out names."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
Kaine adjusted himself in his seat, lightly placing his hands in his lap as he thought over the out-dated vessels in the Empire's arsenal. "The Invictus comes to mind, an older vessel of my own specifications that has become rather obsolete with our leaps in resources and production capabilities. Other vessels that come to mind are the Avarice, and the Beezlebub, both older ships that are becoming less relevant in our Navy."

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
"You know I've always been fond of the Invictus. It served the Empire well in its day, and my command ship is still the Chimaera. The Fringe has an awful lot of far-flung worlds in the Unknown Regions, worlds that don't merit a full Permanence-class battleship's group. The Beelzebub -- strange name, strange dialect of Ancient Sith -- is exceptionally useful in its way, but we already have a vessel to fill that role. We also have a number of vessels to fill the role of the Avarice. But the Invictus -- yes, in return for your uninterrupted supply of kolcta and bacta, the galaxy's only supply that doesn't come from the Omega Protectorate, I'd like your surplus Invictus-class Star Destroyers."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
Kaine considered this, "Perhaps a compromise, as I too am fond of the Invictus, as I had designed it. Perhaps we can work together to create a second version to better serve both of our Navies. The Invictus Mark-II... Sounds delicious, no?" He proposed this to Ashin, prompting a strategy that will benefit both factions in the coming conflicts ahead, and with the cooperation of all of their shipyards and manufacturers, the hypothetical Invictus Mark-II would be an engine of death and destruction.

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
@[member="Kaine Zambrano"]

"Frankly, I'm not sure we have the time," said Ashin bluntly. "But the idea has a great deal of appeal for me. The Permanence is a good ship of the line, but it's too good -- too expensive to be everywhere, and our Lanyard carrier even more so. This is a deal I can get behind, Kaine, and we've spent the past few months solidifying our borders and supply chains. We're in a good position for this sort of endeavor, and the yards at Lwhekk, Annaj, and Rakata Beta are ready. Let's leave this out of the formalities of our pact -- no point in complicating the document -- but I concur. Iron Crown Productions will assist Sienar, Yaga Minor, and Mon Calamari in making this happen, for both of us."

She grinned, and this time, just for a moment, it reached her eyes. "Like old times there for a second, Kaine."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
For once Kaine was glad that Ashin agreed with him, and for a moment it did indeed feel like old times. "Just like old times..." He trailed off as he took the data pad from Ashin, and signed his name neatly upon the lines on the electronic document. "We will need to meet again on the shipyards of Mon Calamari, that's where our initial planning should begin for these new Star Destroyers." He handed the data pad back to Ashin for her to sign if she hadn't already, and his assistant seemed to visible relax after what seemed to be a successful negotiation, but Kaine wasn't done yet. He had a question to ask.

"Do you miss it, Ashin? Do you miss the life of a Sith Empress?"

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
"Kaine, you've done very well for yourself..." She signed and leaned forward, locking eyes with him.

"...but if Voracitos and Sirella hadn't seen fit to demolish the asteroid where I was beating the clart out of the Jedi Grandmaster, we would have won Roche, I would have taken Hapes, Tirdarius would have swept down along the Braxant Run, and after a long and bitter campaign you and I would be having dinner in the Jedi Temple right now. Would I have stayed if the Dark Council hadn't deposed me? Oh yes. And I'd have won."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
"Then why don't you come back? The Jacobs girl has been, from what I've heard, a successful leader of the Fringe alongside her Lords. We could work together, and destroy the Republic, and the Jedi with our combined might." His voice increased in intensity, and he lowered his voice to a booming baritone, "We could establish an Empire to rule over the Galaxy with order, Ashin. We can fulfill what we planned to do so long ago." His demeanor against Ashin had quickly changed, his hate subsiding at the prospect of gaining a powerful weapon against his foes. In truth, Kaine respected Ashin, and had looked up to her when she was the Empress, and his anger had come from what he had perceived as a betrayal after she willingly faked her death and never came back to regain the throne.

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
That grin slithered back. "Don't think I haven't thought about it. I've enjoyed defending the Unknown Regions against the terrors of the dark, and matching myself against the Ssi-Ruuk, the Infinite Empire, the Abominor and so forth, but if the Fringe was to be conquered, I'd hardly sink into depression. I'd kill a few things, and then I'd take my people and go to you. Kahoshi's empire was another thought, as was Rostu's, but I find myself on very poor terms with both of those amateurs lately. No, the only place for me would be Ziost, now that a few palate-cleanser regimes have wiped away the bad blood. Now don't go stinting on the military aid just to leave me no alternative but to join you," she said with a chuckle, examining the datapad.

"I find this Invictus project...exciting. Even with Savan retrofitting your surplus ships for resale. There was a time when the Imperial Star Destroyer had a number of variants on the market, to the point where it was ubiquitous. I rather like the idea of the Invictus being...everywhere, in one form or another."
 
The Rovagug
Writer
He groaned at the mention of Savan, "Ugh, Circe. She's becoming insufferable lately, especially with reports of her experiments coming back to me from my agents. I'm half tempted to cut loose ends with her once and for all, but she may yet still serve a purpose in the future." He said with a light chuckle, which faded slowly when he thought back on the names she had given to him. "Bah, Kahoshi's Empire. Hardly an empire if you ask me, and I've heard rumors that he's calling his band of Atrisian rejects the Galactic Empire." He really let out a chorus of laughter at that, "The nerve of some Emperors is astounding, if you ask me, Ashin. I think I should start calling my Empire the True Empire now, just so people don't get confused."

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
"I have no grudge against Kahoshi," said Ashin with a shrug. "Or with his Empire. If there's an incarnation of law and order in this galaxy, it's them, and I can respect that, much as they hate me these days. If Kahoshi errs, it's by coloring his Empire with Atrisia's noble structure. Everyone respects a Grand Moff, but a Jun? A Yovshin?" She shrugged again, fluidly. "Not the best branding. Not if he wants to be a genuine empire.

"As far as Savan goes, her experiments have been known to benefit me, but more often to cause problems. I hear she's sleeping with you. You've been tested for Dutch elm, right? And had the splinters removed?"
 
The Rovagug
Writer
He snorted, "Please, one time bending her over an altar does not equal to her sleeping with me on a regular basis. She think she's my... mistress, and that is what is making her insufferable." He rolls his eyes, "How does multiple accounts of impregnating woman benefit you, Ashin? How does it benefit me? If she wants to experiment on the mortal body, that's fine... but make it a useful endeavor. I've successfully aged a toddler with the Dark Side of the Force, and taught him how to fight by myself, but just think what I could achieve if the children of the Empire were aged to swell our ranks to unprecedented sizes! Children that know nothing but the battlefield, and the lust of killing your enemies. Coupled with the monsters I plan to unleash, the Empire would be unstoppable."

@[member="Ashin Varanin"]
 

Ashin Varanin

Professional Enabler
Writer
"It's amazing how monstrous that sounds, Kaine...especially when you consider that the Republic military relies on clones these days, which is fundamentally the same idea. A beautiful bit of hypocrisy.

"But back to the Circe issue...well, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Circe likes to wander, flit between allegiances, play all sides against each other. Tie her down with something she wants, or kick her out."
 
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