Five figures were seated around a makeshift table, indistinct in the dim light, their complete privacy assured by the rocky walls and roof. They all had two things in common: they each wore more than two weapons, and they hated the Empire with a passion.
Shiri Torr, a green skinned Twi’lek in a tight fitting black jumpsuit, sat in a relaxed fashion, crossed legs resting on the table with her right hand repeatedly tossing and catching a vibrodagger. She was the nominal leader of the Coalition of Freedom, but in spite of the size of their fast growing organization, its structure remained fragmented. Those present here had either connived or muscled their way into power, sometimes both. As such, Shiri Torr, the youngest and most ruthless in the room, observed the rest in silence. Each looked at the others mutely, mimicking the Twi’lek and waiting to see who would commit themselves first. Finally, a smooth, relaxed voiced echoed through the small cavern.
“The Imps brought in bigger guns, or so I hear.”
Shiri’s dagger suddenly stopped its acrobatics as the young Twi’lek caught it, but her focus was on the lean, easy going Falleen seated across her. His skin tone and sharp features were not unlike her own, but that was where the resemblance ended. Sivat, or Siv as his many lovers call him, was a cold as she was fiery and as calculating as she was ruthless. Of all the others, she feared him the most, if not for his keen intellect than for his nearly irresistible pheromones. Yet he was also the most valuable member of this small group, having personally built a vast and surprisingly deep intelligence network. While hardly a surprise, Sivat’s words were confirmation of the rumored arrival of a Victory Class Star Destroyer, and the room became charged with emotions.
“It doesn’t change anything!” Po Stesh hissed in his slurping voice, his right hand batting away the idea, but he was visibly flustered by the way his face tentacles animated themselves. Sivat only quirked an eyebrow at the Quarren while Shiri refrained from issuing a snappy retort. Stesh was a demagogue, and where he lacked in brains, he made up for in conviction. She felt almost exclusively contempt for the slobbering squid head, but if she could get rid of him easily he would not be here. More to the point, nearly half the movement thought of Stesh as their personal savior, or some such nonsense.
“Wrong!” Varissasenal Thrakisur snapped impatiently. “This changes the order of things.” The dark red Elomin ignored Stesh bristling with furor at what he called “doubting the cause”. Vari, as Shiri always called her, both to simplify an overly complex full name and to annoy the orderly Elomin, was brilliant at organization and despairingly meticulous. While Stesh thought the simple belief in their cause would give them victory, Vari was the very voice of caution.
“Then we will hunt them down to bring back order in our favor.” Ishka hissed in support of Po Stesh. The slender Cathar’s pale fur was richly decorated with multiple dyed patterns, which had to be time consuming to maintain, but at moments like these they made her seem formidable indeed. Yet Shiri nearly chuckled as Vari, even surrounded as she was, seemed more aggravated than afraid of these mere children who were too dim to understand her.
“You don’t simply hunt down a Star Destroyer!” the Elomin replied. Ishka hissed even louder, but Shiri’s narrowed eyes calmed her down as Vari attempted to continue. “Nonetheless, we cannot maintain our current operational pattern in the face of this news. We must adapt.”
“Assemble all our ships! We will crush them!” Po Stesh boomed excitedly. While Sivat seemed amused, Ishka was nodding emphatically, baring her long canines, and Vari seemed on the verge of exploding. Shiri decided to put an end to this circus and show them once more why she was first among them. In one fluid motion she brought back her legs closer to her and brought her vibrodagger down hilt-deep into the plastisteel table.
“Enough!” She never raised her voice, and yet it seemed powerful to everyone present. Except for Sivat, the entire group recoiled slightly before fixing their eyes on her. Shiri knew she had their undivided attention.
“You are all right, in part. We must up the ante, but we cannot gamble on some reckless assault. That is why I propose activating Fire Rain.”
Sivat nodded almost instantly, as if he’d been expecting her to make that decision. “I second the motion.”
The three others looked at each other reluctantly before also nodding at the compromise. Vari had planned Fire Rain, yet was not thrilled using it in the current strategic context. Both Po Stesh and Ishka had wanted something on a grander scale, even if Fire Rain satisfied their need for destruction.
“It is settled then.” Shiri intoned with finality. “We shall send the Empire a new message. It takes more than a Star Destroyer to scare us away.”