Daylight hours of Naboo were always a welcoming sight, must have been the greenery or the calming splashes of nearby waterfalls. Whatever it was, Maelibus felt somewhat at ease on this planet, a rarity in the galaxy after he had left Kalee for the last time. Slowly the cultists had migrated into the outer rims and ventured deeper into the galaxy, all of them on power climbs in efforts to study and worship the dark side of the force. As an executor of its will, the Legionnaire wished to contribute in the natural state of the Force, promoting death and decay through the realms as he ventured. Mindless killing would always attract unwanted attention, but luckily for the Khaleesh, there was never a short supply of those willing to help eradicate the stagnation of society, even if, they did so unwillingly.
The Legionnaire stood near a mountain top, hands rested on the hilt of the war hammer as he gazed at the horizon in front of him, a valley of decadence and flora, something that million dollar views could hardly even top. His obsidian flesh rippled in the Naboo sunglight, showcasing the impressive musculature with his typical bare-chested appearance. Only a set of silk pantaloons were worn, golden eyes glancing from underneath the Maelibus helmet, its molten gold sheen shimmering brightly. He had never met the noble before, though he was interested in learning more about their society. A different upbringing than a culture of warring tribes no doubt, though nonetheless equally cut-throat from all the stories he had heard.
It was still summer in Theed, but only just. Already the leafy boulevards where turning from their summer shades to the kaleidoscope of colours that autumn on Naboo would bring, the light tinges of red forming on the outermost periphery of the leaves. Sandè, eldest daughter of the House of Veruna - from which she took her name - looked up at it as she, and her small group of retainers, headed to her meeting. They walked together in relative silence, passing unnoticed by those locals going about their business, walking to and from their homes, otherwise, just getting on with their lives.
Sandè, despite her bloodline, was relatively unimportant and unknown outside of her immediate circle of friends, and for the time-being, such a state of affairs suited her down to the ground. As ever, she was well-dressed, a simple black dress (from a Naboo design house of course), with a discrete vine pattern on the fringes, picked out in silver, leather shoes and her pulled up in a classical style. As she had been reminded, time and time again by parents and tutors throughout her life, red and purple could not be worn by anyone other than the Royal House.
She rolled her eyes as she recalled the lesson. She looked good in Red, and rather dashing in Purple.
Pushing the thought from her mind, she rounded the corner, her small retinue in tow. Consisting of two young women of her age (give or take a year), she was always at a loss as to what they did. Apparently they were bodyguards, yet Naboo had been at peace for generations. Alas, one could never be to cautious - besides, it was useful to have help and confidants, no? One of them, Corda, informed her that they were nearly at their meeting, and, once again, reminded her not to be put off by the creatures manner of dress.
Apparently, in the modern world, turning up to formal events and meetings half in the nude was fine. She spied the alien, standing in the middle of a populated civilised city, attracting no small amount of stairs and whispers, and kept her own expression passive as she assessed him, whilst walking through the square. He was a strong creature, an alien for sure, and clearly rather proud of his ‘evolutionary gifts’. One that would serve her purposes well indeed.
She intended to make full use of the brute, to take care of a small gang of illegal poachers that not only operated on her family's land just outside of the city, but also, she suspected, where on the payroll of one of the rival houses. Anything that impoverished that lot was, in her not-so-humble opinion, a good thing. Sandè stopped a few feet away from the man, smiling as she had approached him, and inclined her head.
”I must say you are raising a few eyebrows here, the Naboo are more conservative that you are used to no doubt?” she laughed to herself ”Sandè Veruna, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. How should I address you?” she continued, as she waited for the large creature to respond.
Another bland farmers wife. Magos shook his head as he exited his shop. He had closed early for the day, and the middle aged Naboo bore the value of 24, one of amiable mediocrity. She seemed happy to hear this, and he threw her a bone that a brain dead Nikto could guess, "You will have a bountiful harvest, your nerf will continue to bear young until the first snow." He didn't need anyone's name to know that, the changing leaves hinted at a slow descent into a mild cold. He yawned as he crossed through the streets. He hadn't been sent on a mission by the Eternal in many long weeks and he felt like he needed to remind himself he was Sith, so ingrained in his persona.
Magos began heading out of town in the direction of the swamp that lay East of Theed. He would go hunting. That's what he needed. A few on the road, mostly former clients nodded or waved toward him. Magos laughed to himself as a fellow Gungan made an evil warding sign toward him, he wasn't universally liked. If only that old man knew he did far more than count letters.
He was shaken out of his idle thoughts by a strange sight in a crossroads. A massive alien brute loomed over a clearly noble Naboo woman, who had just greeted him. He recognized the girl, a daughter of House Veruna, seen in passing at a court function. He had never spoken to her however. This outlander concerned him however. He approached in his flowing robes and leaned
on a pillar just within earshot of the strange party. The newcomer was strong in the Force, and darkly so. A fellow Eternal?
He scowled. Holding a meeting in *his* territory was one thing, but missions and skulduggery in Theed without his consultation made him upset. He pressed his injured leg hard into the tile beneath him, hoping the spike in his signature caused by the pain would alert the man that another dark sider was present. He waited, sliding his hunting spear of his shoulder into his hand. He leaned back into the pillar, lightly tapping it's butt on the ground, scowling.
A small cloud of musky t’bacc smoke rolled out of the shadows, and past the gungan. A moment later a voice followed, deep and cautious:
“Not something you see everyday, is it friend?”
Del stepped out from the dark side of another pillar, where he too had been taking in the unusual scene before them. A regular beauty and the beast situation was playing out, but something told Del there would be a lot of dancing and no songs. He stepped to the gungan’s side like they were old friends, and took another drag his t’bacc inhaler, contemplating their mutual interest.
“That’s one tall stack of bloodthirsty getting ready for a chat with Theed’s most reputable young bureaucrat; brighter than a twin sunrise, and just as warm they say. It’s enough to put a lot of questions in a man’s head, wouldn’t you say?”
This whole scene smelled fishy, and not just because of the gungan. Del had walked the grime filled alleys of this galaxy too long to turn his beak up at something that out of place, and if he didn’t know better this had fowl play all over it. Unfortunately, for now, he knew better.
Not his favorite way to catch a lead, but Del had heard third hand through an old contact that there was a merc contract on Naboo. A little digging, and he learned why. Poachers, and no rookies either. This wasn’t the first world they had run their illegal safari’s on, and Del was now carrying all three existing warrants on his data-pad. He couldn’t really blame the girl for her choice of muscle either, Naboo wasn’t part of the alliance, and the rangers were hardly the first thought for mid-rimmers. Guess Del needed to make good impression.
As another waft of smoke poured from his breather, Del tapped the gungan’s spear with his fingernail. “I suppose you’re concerned citizen then? Ranger Nordo at your service; and despite how it looks this whole situation is likely on the level, or at least it is now.”
Maelibus chuckled, "I gathered as much from watching the locals stare at me in disbelief.." He said, his voice deep and powerful, almost as if resonated from the depths of his muscular chest but must have had some degree of supernatural augmentation. The Kaleesh beast made no attempt at hiding his force signature, tendrils of darkness reaching outwards and igniting their malevolent shadows, it was an apparent presentation and there was no doubt that the Gungan could sense that this was a fellow darksider. As for being a cultists, the two had never met before and Maelibus had rarely interacted with others with exception of the Devaronian that he actively dueled on Ryloth. As such, he'd doubt that the Gungan would be able to identify his allegiance.
Hands rested on the pommel of the war-hammer, calmness instilled in his posture as his eyes flickered to the side to catch a glimpse of the two onlookers. The Kel Dor was now present, and while Maelibus didn't regard his ranger badge, he did regard the man's overt ugliness. He chuckled again, and nodded graciously towards the noble woman. "Miss Veruna, the pleasure is mine..Maelibus Alpha, at your service..." He said, lifting the hammer off the ground and hoisted it upon its resting place on his back, the shirtless figure beginning to move in the direction of the city, motioning for her to join him on a stroll.
Sandè smiled as the large creature flexed, a frankly inordinate amount, but otherwise did not react. If the creature was attempting to intimidate her, then she would do her best to not satiate that particular manifestation of its ego.
”Sel ili ne veshi Ohna Min monto mia siniorino? one of her retainers spoke, in perfectly accented Old Corellian, one of the preferred languages of high society. Sandè did not allow her humour to show, instead replying directly to Maelibus ”A curious name, sir, Mael-ey-buz, yes?” she began, as she looked the creature up and down ”We do things rather differently here, we, well,” she looked slightly embarrassed ”...dress, for example.”
Her handmaidens supressed a laugh, as she continued ”If you are to be in my service, you must be correctly attired. Corda,” Sandè waved to one of the robed women ”Will see you suitably cared for by the time we reach the restaurant.”
Sandè said nothing else, instead turning to walk toward the place at which they would discuss in more detail the plans for the day. As she did so, she addressed the Ranger, someone she had been looking forward to meeting ”Lady Sandè Alica Veruna,” she put took the man's hand if it was offered, a subtle reminder to her goat-masked accomplice that her title was 'Lady' not 'Miss' ”...a pleasure, Ranger. Come.” she instructed, in a voice that carried far more authority that she had at first portrayed.
Walking some small distance, she gestured to an austere looking buildings facade and spoke again ”Castille Nabierre, a restaurant of some renown. Private dining rooms, and, all vegetarian.” she turned to face her modest posse and clapped her hands ”Isn’t it delightful!” she laughed, sweeping up the steps, and entering the venue. Turning back, as Corda handed Maelibus a large black dress robe ”You’ll need to put that on darling, house rules.” she winked, and dashed inside.
Magos had private views on the Naboo. Most of his race quietly detested them. Sure the farmers and artisans we're good neighbors and the queen was a good woman. But, this woman was everything he detested about them. The airs, the pride, the HAIR. He secretly hoped this Maelibus was a double agent, really here to oft the waste of oxygen. He did not let his anger towards the cultist leave, but he let it grow further toward the young Veruna.
If this ranger was here to put a stop to this, he would most certainly gladly assist him. The Kel Dor made a smooth bit of conversation. He responded with slight agitation, only partly faked. "Not so sure, my good ranger. I've seen much stranger meetings. The Queen, bless her, is a good leader, the same can't be said for more minor nobles. So willing to cut and stab and betray, just to have their kids wear the red purple. I'm a bit more than a concerned citizen, good sir, I might, just might, be considered something of a courtier. I'll gladly assist you decide what ever ... this is."
He usually avoided the law when he could, for fear of his identity being revealed. But a crashing goatish Legionnaire (no Guardian would be that conspicuous) crashing around his planet ran the risk of fraying his web and even burning him.
He was snapped out of his thought when the spoiled girl made something of a move on his hopeful ally, and disregarded his presence. He fumed as a vague "come" began her posse into town.
The Naboo liked to think of his folk as lower class citizens. It was there world first, and yet it was these human interlopers who bore the green marbles name. The fact she willingly interacted with a Kel Dor and ...whatever that thing is, meant she wasn't a garden variety human supremacist. She just didn't like the locals. He most likely had even seem him in court, and thought him a nobody.
He would follow the posse regardless of his welcomeness, unless the Ranger stayed behind. Then he would conspire. That's what cultists do. Regardless if that conspiracy was to ruin a fellow members mission. He looked toward the ranger just as she left earshot, "I am at your service."
“Lady Sandè, Ranger Nordo at your service, but you can just call me enchanted. “
In Del’s experience, good manners could get you a lot closer to the goal, and a lot faster than any blaster. Besides that, he was genuinely appreciative to receive a decent reception. Good will for the rangers went a long way in the outer worlds, not to mention the half dozen plus poachers that he was hoping to bring into custody. The biggest obstacle now was that too tall sentient meat hook her ladyship had brought on as groundskeeper, and convincing him to set that war hammer to stun. The gungan was a little odd, but Del was glad to have someone willing to be on his side. Del kept himself between the noble and her mercenary as they all continued to lunch.
”I see you’ve started up a posse to weed out some uninvited guests: I’ve got a few warrants here that say your squatters have made a bad habit of it. And this...” Del waved the gungan over. The man had not only surprised Del with his eloquence (a point he intended to inquire after later), but Del understood the potential tension between cultures on Naboo. That tension was ugly, but he understood it, and could work with it; hopefully to positive effect. “... is a Good Samaritan, who just offered to round out our number for the days good work, free of charge.”
He may have pointed that last bit a little more than intended, but why not? The gungan was his best asset right now, and he deserved the rep. Not for nothing, Del also hated mercs. Having walked that walk briefly as a younger man, he knew every time you let credits tell you what’s right, it takes a piece out of you. Something told him this Kaleesh was already half a box short of his puzzle; but for now he was stuck.
Del fixed his steely googled stare on the dark skinned behemoth that towered above their party, and offered a hand. “Didn’t catch your name friend, and I’m certainly glad to have the aid of your renowned species in bringing these rotted-out womp rats safely into custody.”
Maelibus could feel the dark side seething off the Gungan, partly because he felt the male was irritated at his own presence and partly because he was jealous that god made him a hideous creature that women spat on while the Kaleesh was revered by mortals across the galaxy. It was a silly notion but a comical and sinister one that brought faint smiles across his lips. He walked along with the group, lofting a brow at the comment towards his attire and returned with merely a shrug. Tribal warriors felt little need to adorn their bodies with unnecessary garments.
"Maelibus Alpha, ranger.." He said, addressing the Kel Dor; "Perhaps when we can get started, you can grant me one of those deputy badges..." He followed, a bit sarcastic in his tone but perhaps mildly serious too. He always found it amusing the presence of the Sector Rangers though he surmised with the advents of corruption through the galaxy, he wasn't surprised they were here.
"So tell me Ranger Nordo, what is your opinion on this vegetarian cuisine Miss Veruna suggests we visit?" He asked, simultaneously as one of the hand maidens wrapped a large cloak around his shoulders. At least the cloth was made of superior quality.