Aaron half led half dragged Bastila along, past the turbo lifts and in the direction of the Sith military base. The metal street narrowed into what might have been a checkpoint but was currently unmanned before widening into a large and open lane. To her left were several landing pads, most of which were occupied by Sith fighters.
Carth was waiting for them by one of the empty pads. Bastila noticed that he was not wearing his flight jacket as usual, but instead a blue grey jumpsuit with an armored breastplate. His signature pistols were holstered on his thighs and he had a rifle slung over his shoulder. One hand held the strap, making sure the rifle did not slide out of place while his other held an oval metallic item.
When he saw them he moved quickly over to one of the occupied pads while waving them over to use one of the fighters as visual cover should someone happen along. "It's about time you guys got here," he said, fidgeting with the strap of his blaster rifle again, "they're clearly overconfident or none too bright but it's only a matter of time before we start to attract attention. This the droid? Are we good to go?"
Aaron patted the little droid on the head. "He is indeed. This is T3-M4, newest addition to our little group. Teethree, this is Carth Onassi and Bastila Shan." He gestured to each of them in turn as he introduced them. The astromech droid beeped and warbled his pleasure to being part of the team. Aaron smiled, clearly very happy with the acquisition of the droid but Carth was determined to move things along.
"I stashed your gear behind this fighter, you really ought to get ready." Aaron made an expression indicating he knew that he should be preparing and that he was indeed already on it. He also surprisingly fitted his actions to his expression and moved off out of sight behind the ship, already starting to remove his tactical vest.
Bastila watched him go, curious what gear Carth had been referring to and a small part of her brain wondered why she always seemed to be fascinated with the donning or removal of Aaron's clothes from either his body or hers. Another small part of her brain told the first part to shut up and quit complaining about it. It was around that point her training kicked in and she returned her attention to Carth. The fact that Aaron had just gone completely out of sight had nothing to do with the switch in mindset.
"So what is the plan? I assume we are not going to just shoot are way in. I'm not keen on a suicide mission." She noticed Carth's eyes rapidly returning to hers and it was then that she remembered about the scandalous thing she was wearing. As if in response to her sudden acknowledgement of it she suddenly felt how tightly it clung to her hips and legs particularly and felt the extra tightening pressure of the armored ceramic plates on her body.
Much to his credit, Carth answered her question without hesitation or confusion. Perhaps she had been mistaken about the focus of his gaze. "We are going to be posing as mercenaries or bounty hunters. Aaron seems to think he will be able to talk his way into seeing the governor or at least close to it so that we can be well inside and past the worst of the security when we make our move. We have taken some precautions," he held up the oval metal thing that Bastila suddenly recognized as a standard issue vacuum mask, "but we figure if we get the opportunity to wipe their security holocams and the like on our way out, so much the better."
As far as plans went it was pretty sparse. Her expression clearly indicated her disapproval and Carth held up his hands and patted the air in front of him as if to ward off her doubt.
"Hey, I'm not thrilled with it either but we don't know much of anything about the inside of this base. We haven't been able to get a hold of a floor plan or even have an idea how many troops are inside. We do know it isn't a barracks so we think dozens rather than hundreds. Aaron worked up a bit of a reputation in the Taris dueling arena as well as taking down a few bounties. So he figures his alter ego should be able to get somewhere. And honestly it's our best shot. Go in asking about a job, be egotistical and demand to see the boss, get as high up as we can before starting our move." Carth held up the vacuum mask and grinned. "A little overly dramatic but it gets the job done. Aaron wore one of these for most of his duels. Better this than showing the whole planet your face."
She had to admit that he made a good point. Though she had not known about Aaron's activities prior to their finding one another. She was not entirely comfortable with the plan. Then again neither was she comfortable with the idea of Aaron moonlighting as a masked bounty hunter. Or really Aaron wearing any kind of mask, it reminded her too much of-
"Alright I'm ready to go."
It was Aaron's voice but it was slightly muffled, distorted. When she saw him she nearly screamed, panic rising in her. For a moment she saw him how he used to be, the dull red and black mask over his face, hooded, dark and imposing. An irrational, fearful part of her thought that Revan had come back to kill her. It only took about two seconds for her to realize the mask was not the one she had pried from his unconscious body after dragging him from the exploding wreck of his ship. Instead this one was gold, still battered and scratched but not the terrifying red mask he had worn as the Sith Lord. His armor was also Mandalorian, or parts of Mandalorian armor. The chestplate and pauldrons were the heavy duraplast of the standard Mandalorian battle armor, however the arms and legs were mostly exposed, covered by the grey jumpsuit. He had however elected to use the heavy gold colored gauntlets and boots. With the mask he had over half a set of the armor.
She must have had a rather extreme expression because both Carth and Aaron reached for their blasters and turned in opposite directions, seeking threats where there were none. When Aaron turned, scanning the short distance of the landing pad behind him and saw nothing he turned slowly back to Bastila and wordlessly pointed at himself. Rather embarrassed with herself, she nodded and he pulled off the mask to reveal his grinning face. "Don't worry, it's only me."
Still embarrassed with her reaction and hoping she had not given away its true purpose through the Force bond. She quickly covered her embarrassment and fear with the obvious question. "Where did you get that armor?" She asked in a hissing whisper.
Aaron gave her a strange look before affixing the mask back to his face. "From a dead Mandalorian. Come on, we've spent too much time here as it is. Teethree, get started on that door. Carth, keep your eyes peeled on the courtyard, I don't want to get surprised by a patrol while I'm working a deal. Bastila, stay close, tell me if you sense anything off."
Just like that he was in charge. He was Revan again, the commander. Bastila shuddered in spite of herself, possibly at the sudden transformation and partially because she obeyed him without question. Carth stayed a few steps back, watching the road while she, Aaron and T3 went to the door. The little droid plugged himself in and started beeping, whirring a bit while he started slicing the security door. Aaron tapped the droid on the head. The droid swiveled his head around to make an angry spitting noise. Aaron shrugged in reply.
Bastila raised an eyebrow at him. Aaron replied by deftly reaching out and putting a targeting visor over her eyes. She was about to protest but the droid let out a triumphant warble and the door slid open. She got the impression Aaron was grinning. "Showtime," he said, gesturing for the others to follow him. Together they filed into, what might be considered, the jaws of the enemy.
Like most planets occupied by the Sith troopers of Darth Malak and formerly Darth Revan's armies, Taris had been under republic 'control' for the majority of its existence. What was currently deemed the Sith Military Base had, in its previous life, been security station for the local police. The lobby was, as to be expected, spacious and airy with the rather apparent signs that the doors they had just passed through used to be transparasteel, or possibly even glass to let in the sunlight and give a sense of openness between visitors and their security. The lighting was also evidently based on this premise because the room was gloomy to the point of oppression. Fitting for a Sith compound at least.
The center of the room was dominated by a large desk with a high counter to accommodate standing visitors and to obscure the computers and datapads used by the secretary. And there was a secretary. A Twi'lek woman sat behind the desk. She looked up from her game of Minesweeper as the doors hissed open, but hardly paid the small band of invaders a second glance. "You're not allowed in here," she said simply, lifting a hand over the counter to wave them off like a bothersome insect, "you should leave before I call security."
Aaron slung his blaster rifle over his shoulder and moved up to the desk, folding his arms on the counter and leaning over, the very picture of casual. "Now now, you don't want to do that. The Governor should be expecting me. Pulling the alarm at the first sight of someone not in a shiny uniform would only cause trouble."
Bastila and the receptionist's expressions were probably mirrors of confusion. This was his plan? Of all the devious things he managed to talk her into so far, the best he could do was 'I have an appointment'?
Following the same thoughts, the receptionist half heartedly punched a few buttons on her panel. "Do you have an appointment with the Governor? I'm not seeing anything in the system." She gave Aaron a wary look, as if she were going to pull the alarm any second. Aaron however preempted her by pushing off from the counter and making a grand gesture.
"But we are Bounty Hunters my dear," he paused to make an exaggerated and evaluating look in her direction, with the mask it was difficult to pull off but somehow he did, "we do not have appointments. I thought everyone knew that sooner or later the best men, and best woman," he made another grand gesture, this time toward Carth and Bastila, who stood in what they hoped to be sullen silence, "for the job would eventually come to the man who has such a singular and difficult manhunt on his hands." Aaron moved back to leaning on the counter, arms crossed over his chest. "Frankly, we are here to find that jedi for him, if he is paying right of course. The Mysterious Stranger does not work for free, in fact I don't even work for normal rates, very very steep rates. Yes, that is the ticket."
The title "Mysterious Stranger" he had given himself had no effect on Bastila other than a souring of her expression at his melodrama, however the effect on the receptionist was very different. Her eyes lit up as she gave him a closer inspection. "The Mysterious Stranger?" She asked, "From the Dueling Arena?"
Bastila could almost feel the smugness radiate off Aaron. She wanted to punch him. Instead she leaned over to Carth and in a hissing whisper asked, "Mysterious Stranger?"
Carth shrugged, "Hutt's idea. Gave him an alias while we were looking for you, and he wore a mask. It fit. I'm not keen on his bounty hunting pit fighting persona either, looks like his head is going to swell up."
Bastila was about to deliver another scathing reply when the doors behind the reception desk slid open and a full squad of Sith troopers marched in. In the lead were a crimson clad sergeant and an officer. The officer was handing over a holopad, the projected image of which was a very accurate and, they all noticed, rather flattering image of none other than Bastila. The image had probably been taken from when she led the attack on Revan's ship, The Chimera. For a moment all conversation halted as the troopers eyed Bastila and Bastila, Aaron, and Carth eyed the troopers. The receptionist swiveled in her seat, looking at everyone. T3-M4 made a guilty whistle.
Even with the changes Aaron had made to her wardrobe and with the addition of the targeting goggles pressed over her eyes, this close, and with a representation of her in their hands there was no mistaking that the jedi the Sith had been searching for so long had walked right into their mists. The officer gestured violently toward everyone in front of him in the room. "Arrest them!" he barked and half a dozen Sith troopers raised their blasters for the customary Sith incarceration preparation. Namely, a laser bolt to the face.
Aaron swore quietly, reaching out and shoving the receptionist out of her chair, pushing her to the floor and out of the line of fire before ducking behind the counter himself. Carth proved the faster than the troopers, his rifle forgotten on his shoulder. His pistols were in his hand, firing.