Time has a way solving all things. And being starved of your ambition only grows your desire to sate it. So much time lost; everything done, in the pursuit of deeply-held long term goals, now seem absolutely meaningless. Sei Maru opened his big, almond-shaped eyes, both glinting in the low light like pieces of sharp obsidian prime for utility. He touched his chin, out of habit, before being reminded he no longer had that small tuft of hair to balance his then portly head. He was still held in a prison cell, as a slave to his captors. Looking around the room, nothing assured him. It was bare, fashioned in a deep dark teal. And all he could do is think.
Recalling every detail from his memories became a daily challenge, as it now fleeted his mind along with his hope. He never envisioned falling so swiftly, without much fight, and with such treachery. Did no one trust him? Why didn't he see the signs? Obviously, loyalty amongst the Sullustans was fragile. Just when you thought you had unquestioning loyalty, they turn their backs on you. And of course, now Maru’s became the scapegoat for trumped up charges, alleging he was behind some careful scheme to collude with the Imperials. It was hardly accurate. In spite of the situation he found himself, he remembered how everything went down that very day.
Maru had just left a meeting via teleconference with Rob Stellar. The businessman gave him some song and dance about how the G&A rates for this latest shipping venture and how it did include costs associated to the FTD. But Maru didn’t see it that way. The costs being funneled to them seemed rather low, and Stellar hadn’t been on the up-and-up with Maru for awhile. Yet, the Sullustan wanted to keep his cards close. He wanted to find out what Stellar was doing, and nothing had come up—just yet—to justify breaking up their longstanding agreements. He bid Stellar goodbye, before leaving the secured conference room. Just as he was preparing to depart the conference room, he received a page from his personal assistant, the ever resourceful Tana Barris. He picked up his small communicator to answer the call. The feminine Sullustan appeared with deep chestnut hair.
“I know… Time to see Mr. deGrasse. What room he's—”
“Director Maru, we have a development,” She interrupted, a look of regret cast on her face for the curt response. He turned to his meager detail, comprising three Sullustans with one being an actual security personnel, and motioned for them to stay in the room while he walked across the room to the other side to digest this sensitive news.
“What do you mean?” He intoned, trying to hold the communicator up.
“Sir, a couple things. A disturbance on Sulon. Looks like a coordinated attack on the headquarters..." Then she stopped to form her words while reading another report coming in, "Also, did you authorize the routing of credits from your various accounts. The financial monitoring system threw red flags on yours and no one else’s,” She confirmed.
“What!?” He almost shouted. An attack? And what was this about routing of his funds? How and why? Who was behind this attack? Was Stellar behind the funds? He wouldn't be so stupid.
“What do we know about the attack?” Maru further inquired.
“It’s the New Sullustan Brethren—they’re attacking a nearby facility. It has some sensitive equipment and vehicles—the Draykhan project,” She informed while again looking at the report streaming in, “We have moved a substantial portions of our security forces there to snuff it out. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see many Sullustan guards in the heart of the Sorosuub complex.”
He blinked. An NSB attack? On the Draykhan project? “Don’t let them get access to that equipment. That content is highly-sensitive.” He didn’t want the project compromised. If the NSB found out he was trying to create his own little military, he would have to explain it to the Sullustan Council and surely the Alliance and TNO would want to know everything about it too. Maru wanted to avoid that, especially after the TNO court case he had some time ago—not good for press relations.
“Acknowledged. Sir, I recommend you head into the inner sanctum of the headquarters,” Barris suggested.
“Let me know about the funds—the funds!” Maru reminded her.
“Yes—well... Right now, I see Alliance protocols around this routing signature, but I can’t confirm anything. Quite frankly, the accounts they are routed to are not even disclosed.”
“Shut down the financial system—now!” He blinked, thinking about the loss in fiduciary value. Is this coincidental?! He braced, “I’ll be heading back to my office in a bit.”
“Understood—uh sir!” Barris’s tone changed in mid response, “There’s reports of unknown craft at the edge of the sector—something’s going on!”
Why am I last to know anything? And why is all of this happening at once?
“Move my electronic funds to the secure enclave, once the financial system is severed from outside connection—you know the ones—do it now.” He motioned for his detail to get their weapons ready. Then realized only one of them was unarmed.
“I don’t know anything about this… Find out more about these ships?!” Thankfully, he created the cloaked reconnaissance beacons at the very edges of his space, so he knew what was coming his way even before they got to the system. The beacons had sensors stretching out a quarter of a lightyear.
He thought quickly before interrupting himself, “Put Sorosuub on lockdown. And start getting our defensive posture ready. And get Nplr on—”
Communications blacked out. Something serious was going on. Robust relays supported the communications infrastructure, which are tied into the internal auxiliary redundant systems. They’ve been operational since the days of the Old Republic. How on Sullust did communications drop? Have they infiltrated or started their attack on the system? Nothing was making sense to him.
‘I need to barricade myself in my office until I can figure what the hell’s going on.’ He turned to his detail, “Code Black. We’re at situation Red—Red.”
His detail formed a close order diamond formation and everyone hastened out the conference area for his office. He only wished he had more in the way weaponry protecting him, but all he had to do was get back to his office. Hopefully, Barris was able to steer some Sullustan security personnel to his office for added assurance.
Entering the hall, it was quiet. And notably empty. Taking a right down the hall, to a quicker route to his office, they approached the open area where the HoloNet projection was. Some people were still standing around, loitering it seemed, in the area, so maybe things were not so bad as he thought. Then across the room, the turbolift opened. He saw deGrasse. What was he doing there? He started to gather his attention but then he recoiled. Why is he walking over to the door panel? He has something to do with this!?
“Go.” He hushed at his detail. Then one of the gentlemen with deGrasse approached his detail as they made their departure of the open concourse. Then the doors shut, locking down the room. Sullustans all around started to shriek in confusion. And the guy pulled a weapon, leading many to scream and yell that he had a gun. He immediately shot down a couple of his men, and his bodyguard now collapsed on the floor. The gun was pointed at Maru. The room was still rife with outbursts with fear ever present on their murmurs.
‘Damn.’ He thought.
The guy spoke sternly, “Sir, I’m afraid you’re coming with us now.”
Maru tried to send a coded transmission letting his security network know he was in danger. He went to grab it immediately but the other gentleman, who flanked the gun holding the weapon, grabbed his arm and fished it out of his pocket.
Then deGrasse with his pathetic and forlorn expression, “I’m sorry Mr. Maru… They made me do it. If I don’t do what they say, they’re going to kill my daughter—”
Unbelievable this man—simpering in victory! The guy, who seemed to be in charge, showed his colors, admonishing the weak businessman: “You, shut up.” A smirk crept on Maru’s face.
“Have a backbone,” Maru said with conviction at deGrasse, “Here you have subdued me and you apologize. You’re pathetic!” He couldn’t get the words out fast enough. Maru then turned to the gentleman in charge, “What name do I call you? And who are you with?”
“Sturm. And this is the Alliance.”
“Oh really?” Maru patronized, “I figured that. Your signatures are all over my financial accounts. Is the Alliance that desperate as to steal money? Overthrow our businesses and political leaders? Seems a bit lowbrow.”
“You’re coming with us,” Sturm replied.
Leaving the open inner foyer, they took the turbolift to another part of the headquarters. Once in an austere room, Maru was told to sit. He was then shackled to the chair. A few minutes later, another human came in: “Mr. Maru I presume. My associates have told me much about you. And now, you’re going to tell us… exactly what we want to know.”
Still perceiving a high level of importance, Maru attempted to resist, responding emphatically, “I won’t tell you anything. You’ll kill me first.”
Then the guy sighed and started to reassert his dominance in the interrogation, “Stevens, you and Kraten make sure we’re not interrupted… This may get a little…messy.” Maru looked on as the guy pulled a knife from his boot and began to open his flowing robes and starting serrating his long inner shirt.
“What are you doing?” Maru responded to the gall of this man's behavior.
“It’s for me to know, and you to feel…that is, unless you want to give us the information we desire.”
Then Maru felt the knife against his skin. The sharp edge just lightly digging against his flesh. His fingers trembling against the chair arms he was shackled to.
He had no idea why the Alliance was here. What actions had he taken to lead him to this interrogation? He stayed out of the conflicts with both the TNO and Alliance. Surely his arrangement with TNO could not be so important as to warrant capturing and torturing him. The gentleman spoke softer, “This is just the beginning.”
Maru shuddered. He wanted this over with. More importantly, he wanted to know if the NSB was working with the Alliance and also what happened to Sullust? Were the Alliance occupying the system? What leadership would take his place?
Then two men in Alliance uniforms entered the room. Maru wasn’t paying close attention to their dialogue but heard about them having to escort him to an undisclosed location.
“Where am I being taken?!” Maru was becoming distraught.
“You are lucky, Mr. Maru… Where you’re going will be like a hotel compared to what I had in store for you.”
Maru was unshackled and escorted out of the room. The two men never spoke. After taking a lift several floors to the ground surface, Maru was escorted from the headquarters. Once the turbolift opened, many Sullustans working in the headquarters were gathered. It was as if the Alliance wanted to make an example of him. Many of the Sullustans looked on confused, and some appeared severely disappointed in him—in him—for what, he had no idea.
Maru took one last opportunity as he was escorted out of the building, “I am innocent of whatever's going on. The Free Trade Directorate is above board on all its dealings. I will fight this gross injustice!” But he could see in the eyes of Sullustans that he lost favor. They lost faith in him. In a matter of hours, years of planning and preparation and strategy went down the drain, with no idea as to how this mess started.
Walking out of the front entrance, he felt at once that he would never see this front entrance or this headquarters again. Outside, a shuttle was waiting for him. He followed his monitors onto the ramp, bidding Sulon and Sorosuub a bittersweet farewell. Once he was seated and cuffed to the seat, Maru looked out the viewport one last time as the moon disappeared from view.
One of the gentleman came up to him as the shuttle was making a trajectory change. “Mr. Maru, you must take this.” Without further questions, a hypo-syringe was inserted into his neck. Then everything went black.
Waking up now as he had for all the time he's been incarcerated, nothing can be so difficult as to being clueless of the galaxy around you. But his forced ignorance had nothing on his appearance. Maru, no longer with a small beard, woke up in his cell with a shaved chin. He wasn't even given the satisfaction of a mirror. He hadn't seen what he looks like in months. His portly exterior almost gone. He could tell that by the constant change in his clothing size. Months of rationed eating ate away at his largess, leaving him as an empty and lanky Sullustan. And that's what this whole year has been... one long gnawing blur, eating away at his former self. No certainty each day, except these dismal walls and the poor lighting.
If time solved everything, then patience was the methodology. He exchanged it like currency for the time he was there, hoping it would bring some added knowledge or keen insight in his misfortune. It was the barter that provided the most risk. Maru hoarded patience with zeal, if only to give him hope his situation might change. But patience can eat away at someone. And with almost no visitors, this hotel was still only a prison. So like every day since then, at the ready, he waits.
This post was edited by Sei Maru (3:54pm 16/05/16, 2 years ago)