A Caelum-class Shuttle skimmed over the blue oceans of Mou'Cyran. In the cockpit, a female humanoid watched as the skyline of Republic City appeared on the horizon, the distinctive silhouette of the Senate Tower gleaming bright gold in the evening sun. But something was off. Though air traffic above the city was vibrant, the shuttles and speeders were relatively slow compared with the new arrival, which zoomed over the beach, over the spaceport directly toward the Senate. The air traffic control tower attempted to no avail to prompt the pilot to slow down. Something was very off indeed. Despite repeated attempts to lock onto the shuttle was a tractor beam, the shuttle continued along its course over the low-rising offices and apartments of Republic City.
Suddenly, hatches opened along the side of the shuttle, revealing heavy laser cannons. The pilot in the cockpit gave the go-ahead to her subordinates. Streams of blue energy erupted from the shuttle onto the city streets below, indiscriminately killing civilians and government officials alike. Utilising evasive maneavours and drones, the shuttle managed to evade the Republic's counterattack, with the occupants of the shuttle shooting down three starfighters which were scrambled to pursue the invader. Touching down outside the Senate Building, the occupants of the shuttle jumped out with blasters blazing, killing any in their path as they made their way toward the opulent entrance to the building.
Leading the charge was the pilot of the shuttle, a blue-skinned Listhar named Agrehele, who wielded a blaster rifle against Senate security and the terrified civilians which ran to escape the carnage. Taking up position behind Agrehele was the Tra'ssahkGarnossk, a pink-skinned humanoid Mist, Emtor, Vezktan and the Saurdoshan Hunter, all of whom managed to evade the advancing Republic security forces before finally entering the Senate Building.
The Senate Building consisted of multiple rooms appropriate for almost any manner of function, from state dinners to concerts. Walking down the main corridor of the complex, Senator Apollo of the Twelve Worlds was deep in conversation with his colleague Senator Raesa of Adelentia as they made their way toward a breakfast meeting organised by Senator Ramdard Ramthrace, who represented New Capricaerón. While Ramthrace was well regarded by the other Senators, they were also keenly aware of his love for the finer things in life, including parties early in the morning.
As Apollo and Raesa entered the banquet room, they were greeted by Ramthrace's outstretched arms. "My friends, my friends, welcome! Late as always!"
Apollo gave a short laugh. "Stylishly late, Senator."
Wrapping Apollo and Raesa in a quick hug, Ramthrace directed the new arrivals toward the table. Murmuring greetings to those in attendance, Apollo recognised most of the gathered senators, even asking a few well-placed questions about their personal lifes and worlds as he found his seat. As he looked down at the table, he had to laugh. The table was immaculately covered in a wide range of food and drink to sate any pallet, while folded napkins and velvet covered name tags indicated where each senator would be seated.
"Honestly, Ramdard. "A light breakfast?" Really?"
"Apollo, my boy. Only the best will do!"
Senator Derella of Saxhleel smiled as she sipped some wine. "To the matter at hand, as we discussed yesterday I do not believe we should allow the President to enact this new bill. We have given up enough up freedoms in the interest of security for my tastes."
Raesa nodded her head. "So we are in agreement?"
Just as Apollo was about to respond, the room was rocked by a far-off explosion. The startled senators rose to their feet just as another explosion—nearer this time—erupted. "We need to get out of here!" Apollo yelled as smoke began to fill the room. Turning toward the door, Apollo heard the others stir behind him just as the door automatically slammed shut. The Senate's internal AI spoke as all the exits sealed themselves. "No detected hazards. Please enjoy your breakfas—"
"Override and order an evacuation alert!" Apollo yelled, as his fellow Senators began to panic. Suddenly, one of the doors at the far side of the room opened, revealing a Senate Guard adorned in ceremonial armour. "Senators, thank the gods you're alright! We need to get out of her—"
Suddenly, a blaster bolt went straight through the guard's chest, sending her crumpling to the floor. Stepping over the corpse came Agrehele, who held her smoking pistol in the air. Firing three shots into the air, she approached the Senators with a sadistic pleasure etched on her face. "Cooperate or die. It's really quite simple."
In the Presidential Chataeu a few kilometres away, President Nexarón Valkistair glared at the viewscreen in the Situation Room. Standing around the table—equally fixed on the quickly escalating situation—were some of the President's closest military advisers, including Fleet Admiral Gialu Kaedar and Commodore Thonaloc. Located deep below the surface, the room was considered impregnable.
"Mr. President, I can translocate a couple of marines into the Senate Building at a moment's notice. Just say the word," Thonaloc was in the process of saying. The Corthrinus, a rarity within the Republic, favoured a quick and brutal response. Though the commodore did not say it, Nexarón Valkistair knew that he would have preferred to simply kill the hostage takers and be done with it. These situations however, rarely made things so simple.
"We need to have full knowledge of the situation in the building beforehand, Commodore. I don't want our marines going in there blind."
"Mr. President, we are receiving a transmission from within the building," Fleet Admiral Kaedar said as he glanced down at a holographic display unit. "Shall I put it onscreen?"
Where once was an external image of the golden Senate Tower in flames, now there was a feed from the interior. Nexarón Valkistair recognised the room from his days as a Senator as one of the building's many state rooms, where delegates would often host gatherings. Standing in front of the camera was Senator Lat'co'in of Sulviaé, who had a distinctly terrified look on his mammalian face.
"Senator Lat'co'in, thank the One you're alright. What is your location and we'll send a tea-"
The President was suddenly cut off by a blaster bolt, which exploded out of the Senator's chest, sending him crumple to the floor, revealing a blue-skinned Listhar.
Agrehele smirked. "Whoops."
Nexarón Valkistair slammed his fist down on the table. "You'll pay for that, scum!"
Agrehele grabbed at a figure off-screen, pulling him to the camera, revealing Senator Apollo. Agrehele pointed her blaster at the Senator's head. "Temper, temper, Mr. President."
Apollo struggled in her grip. "Don't negotiating with these terroris-"
Agrehele punched him in the head, knocking him to the floor.
"We have some demands. First, withdraw all fleets from the Calithilaen System. Secondly, renounce your claim on Orbispira. Finally, provide me and my associates with safe passage off of this world. If you fail to respond in three hours, all these pretty little Senators will be killed. Publicly. And this entire building will be a smoking crater. Again, three hours."
The situation room was utterly silent. Nexarón Valkistair slumped in his chair. "Some days I hate this frakking job."
Apollo was huddled in corner, tied with Ramthrace and several other of the unfortunate politicians who had been in the Senate complex at the time of the attack. Though injured, Apollo tried his best to calm down the distraught Senator Derella, who had been Senator Lat'co'in's lover. The young Ortella was sobbing uncontrollably in Apollo's arms.
"I'm so sorry, Raené. I-I..." Apollo said, nearly in tears himself. Senator Lat'co'in was a popular senator, but not only that, Derella's loss reminded him too much of Gianne.
"Shut her up or I will." Agrehele said, brandishing her blaster at the Senators.
Senator Aneen Daerethal stood to her feet in protest. "You monstrous beast!"
With the butt of his rifle, one of the bounty hunters knocked Daerethal in the face, sending her falling unconcious to the ground. Senator Ramthrace rushed over to tend to her wounds, looking up at the criminals with pure contempt.
Agrehele, who had been circling the Senators like a shark, finally sank to her knees in front of Apollo and Derella. "Oh boo-who cares. You better hope your Trucinex scum of a President agrees to my demands. Otherwise, you'll lose more than some idiot politician."
Apollo glared at Agrehele, his eyes filled with a cold fury. "Go frak yourself."
Agrehele scowled and pointed her weapon between Apollo's eyes. The former President remained defiant, unwilling to give the terrorist the satisfaction of seeing him succomb to fear. Just as Agrehele was about to pull the trigger, her blaster flew out of her hands. Whirling in place, Agrehele and the bounty hunters attempted to face the new arrival, but to no avail.
An unknown voice filled the room. "You should really surrender... and release the politicians while you're at it."
Agrehele furiously dove to her blaster rifle, aiming it around the room for the intruder. "Show yourself!" The senators appeared to be equally confused, though Apollo recognised the voice.
"As you wish." Suddenly, Ryen appeared in the center of the room, hands clasped together quite serenely. "Good evening, everyone."
Agrehele screamed in fury, shooting three bolts directly at Ryen's head. With a gesture of his hand, the bolts were deflected into the wall. "Tut, tut, I am sure we can settle this like civilised beings." After three more bolts, Ryen lost his patience. Raising his hand, he telekinetically lifted the assailiants into the air before firing them through the wall in a heap.
Approaching the senators, Ryen helped them all to their feet. "Our guests have so kindly provided us with an exit," he indicated to the hole in the wall shaped like a cadre of bounty hunters, who had gotten to their feet and fled. "I advise you all to escape as quickly as you can. I'll attempt to stop them."
Apollo placed a hand on Ryen's shoulder. "Thank you, my friend," As he began to gather his colleagues, he turned back. "We'll discuss my daughter's career choice when you return!"
Apollo and the other senators did as Ryen asked, making their way through the hole in the wall, while Ryen headed off in the direction where the bounty hunters and Agrehele fled.
Sprinting down the hallway, Ryen was led by the unmistakable markers left by the fleeing bounty hunters. Though he originally suspected that they would attempt to return to their shuttle, it soon became apparent to the Osteolan warrior that a more sinister course of action was in the works. Meanwhile, near the centre of the cavernous building's interior, Agrehele commanded her underlings.
"You filthy Tra'ssakh! Do I as command!" She yelled, brandishing her blaster at Garnossk, who hissed in annoyance.
"I agreed to this job for the cubitsss, not to be ordered about like ssssome lackey."
Mist, a female humanoid with bright pink skin, nodded in agreement. "Yeah. Listen blue, I take orders from only two people." She indicated to herself. "And the leader of the Syndicate. And you sister, are neither."
Agrehele furrored her brow to the point where her crimson eyes were almost obscurred. "Plant the explosives, bounty hunter scum, and you'll be paid."
Vezktan, a blood thirsty Sepherian, rubbed his hidious hands together. "Good, good. Time to blow up some senators!"
When the bounty hunters finished placing the explosives, they began to make their escape. When they reached the end of one of the corridors leading to the main foyer, Ryen was waiting for them. "You were foolish if you believed you could get away with this."
Agrehele and the bounty hunters opened fire at the Master, who reflected the bolts away with a flick of his wrist.
Mist ceased fire and turned to the other bounty hunters. "That's it, I'm out of here!" Activating her translocation device, she managed to escape the scene, following closely by the other bounty hunters, leaving Agrehele alone with Ryen.
The Listhar screamed and cursed her underlings. "Cowards! Cowards!"
Activating his blade, Ryen approached the terrorist. "Surrender and you will be given a fair trial."
"Never!" Activating a holographic display unit on her wrist, she activated the explosives. There was a brilliant light, causing a roar so loud that it resonated throughout Ryen's entire body. Suddenly, hot air and debris slammed into him as the entire Senate Building became engulfed in fire and ash. In the Presidential Chateau, President Nexarón Valkistair's breath caught in his throat when he saw the central spire of the Senate complex collapse into ground, causing a pyroclastic flow of debris which soon spread throughout the city. One by one, the other spires of the once opulent golden Senate Tower collapsed into nothingness. In the ruined foyer, Ryen had created a shield to protect himself from the collapsing debris. When the dust had settled, he saw a gravely injured Agrehele, who had just managed to survive by activating a personal shield.
Though injured, Agrehele managed to raise her weapon one final time. With a course curse, she fired the weapon, only to have the bolt reflected by Ryen. Firing another, she would be unable to react in time for Ryen to burst forward at a frightning speed, and with a flurry with his blade, bisected the "rogue" Imperial agent.
A forlorn Ryen surveyed the surroundings with a sigh.
Very little was left of the once proud Senate building in the aftermath of the explosion, though thankfully, Ryen's intervention had managed to prevent any further deaths at the hands of Agrehele and her bounty hunters. After giving a speech amongst the shattered ruins of the building, President Nexarón Valkistair approached Ryen, Apollo and the surviving Senators, a concerned expression on his face.
"A dreadful day, Senators. Though it is fortunate that this mysterious traveller came to your aid."
Ryen shrugged off the comment. "Simply doing my duty, Mr. President."
Apollo turned to face the President. "Did anyone claim responsibility?"
Nexarón Valkistair grumbled. "The Empire have officially condemned the attack, though I have little doubt that this "Agrehele" acted with orders from higher up. Apparently, she was a rogue agent in Imperial Intelligence dissatisfied with Imperial policy with regard to the Republic. I don't believe a word of it."
Senator Daerethal—one of Nexarón Valkistair's closest political allies—nodded in agreement. "As well you shouldn't, Mr. President."
"Whatever the case may be, this attack was a wake-up call. And no doubt the Imperials will use it to validate their claims that the Republic is weak and cannot prevent an attack in its own capital," Apollo said with concern in his voice. Such situations present a dangerous crossroad for democratic civilisations. Should greater security mandate the surrender of personal liberties?
"We will emerge from this tragedy stronger than before, my friends. We will rebuild and we will endure."
Making his way to the spaceport, Ryen sighed deeply. It always pained him to take a life, even one so evil as Agrehele. And yet, as he boarded the Auethnen Raptor to voyage back to Aldár, he knew that there was much pain in store for the entire galaxy...