Glancing to the admiral and then the general, Akilah could almost hear Verica asking these same things and knew that it was going to be fun to see her cousin once again. The military held on to their own realm of influence as fiercely as everyone else and the questions were valid, though in her own estimation a bit short sighted. Black Ops teams had been working for generations, and now they were expanding into Spec Ops, it seemed. Intel, as she was now understanding it, was going to be the eyes and ears of a certain chosen group of military elite and they would be the muscle to convert plans into action. The thought made her excited as she grinned, turning back to the minister as he kept the floor open one last time.
Thinking hard for a long moment, she knew more ideas would arise as time went on, wrinkles to be ironed out. For the moment, she had nothing in mind. She had been part of various operations over the years and had seen a lot in the field and she thought she knew what the minister had in mind. Turning to the general and admiral, their hackles raised because of the subject. "I believe what the minister is getting at is allowing an Intel cell to operate within your headquarters and offer information based on our various resources and assets within a given combat area. You need to be aware of things that go on outside of scouting reports of troop movements. We're the ones walking the streets, noting criminals or crime lords, even terrorist organizations that are moving supplies, or troops to various areas. Knowing that ahead of time before you send a company of soldiers into that same area would ensure that your strategy takes everything into account." She glanced to the minister and back. "Our expertise could ensure that more of your soldiers come home alive and that you hit the right areas for the maximum effect. Or make sure you don't walk into an ambush."
They both eyed her for a long moment, then nodded quietly and cast their gaze back to the minister.
"What if we get bad intel?"
"Will we get their training?"
"Are we just resources to you people?"
"We've never done this before!"
The questions came fast and furious at this point, and while Tauren stood there, as if waiting for weeks for someone else, anyone else to answer, he took them in. There were more, but four of them caught his ear, mainly because one of them was outright insulting and the other three came from some who just did not "get it".
Bad intel will be dealt with by Keeper, just as it would have been dealt with by Saria or Verdelet. I won't allow Imperial troops to die for a useless cause. Just as I will not allow Imperial agents to be left to die after getting the intel needed for an operation.
He walked around the room again to ensure that all eyes were on him.
I had said this before, and I will do so again, where "power" and "strength" were the words of preference, "efficiency" now rules the day. So, yes, you all are "resources", just as I am. We serve the Imperial citizenry and Imperial way of life, so that makes us "resources" for the greater good. I will not make waste to us by infighting and working separately to complete the same goal. Now you can accept this and actually be a part of a group, or we can continue this, except when we were ruled by Sith. They used, Intel, the military, everyone to serve their whims... we can go that route if you like.
The silence spoke volumes.
In a room full of egos, Akilah understood the reservations, but she also understood the task that the minister was shouldering right now. It had been something that everyone would complain about in the past, but no one would find a solution to, or be willing to work together to find one that benefited all. Watching him walk the center of the floor, she also took note of the irony now posed to his audience. A strong hand had once been their guiding force, now they all had to openly cooperate for the common good.
And mentioning the Sith that were now their uneasy allies also made a resounding boom. The truce and alliance made by the queen that Akilah had taken a bullet for several years back, was now governing their lives and keeping their eyes and ears on the Force users had also become a full time job for Intel as well as keeping their attentions on their old adversary. She glanced to the officers in the room and could tell by their looks and silence that that fact hadn't escaped them as well.
There may end up being a day when one of those Sith they were now calling allies could be leading this empire once again. She hoped not, but the possibilities were always there.
The sound of heavy, metallic footfalls reverberated through the room, causing Admiral Desat to flinch before he could stifle the involuntary movement. He remembered that sound all too well, having been there on the day of their owner's 'creation'. The steps grew louder in the hallway outside, before the doors slid open to reveal not one, but three giant, gunmetal-clad figures. Though not a part of the Intel Branch, they had been expressly summoned by the Director and, without question, they had obeyed.
Rumors had been spreading over Bastion like wildfire; whispers telling of an entire legion of deadly grey giants, feeling nothing but loyalty for the Empire. Of course, rumor had a tendency to be exaggerated. The new Darktroopers, who had returned from the dark corners of space in which they had been created, had yet to reach battalion strength. This, of course, did not reduce their effectiveness. Though their combat trials had been cut short by the summons to return to Bastion, Aleksander himself had been tested time and time again.
The three Darktroopers marched toward Saryl in perfect synchronicity, their droid-like movements not betraying the fact there were living beings at the heart of the machine. Coming to a stop a few metres from the Intelligence Leader and immediately snapping to attention, the troopers saluted before Aleksander's accented voice filtered through his helmets speakers. Cold, black lenses looked down upon the man, betraying no more emotion than his voice.
"Director. Captain Tarkov, reporting as ordered."
There was about to be an upheaval when the three Darktroopers walked in. Tauren knew of them because of his history, as he was sure that Akilah did, maybe a few other agents. The generals looked to be a little emboldened though most of the Admirals there were not. The clanking steps, the menacing stances, they were indeed as terrible as their reputation brought them.
You flatter me by calling me "Director", but that is a title that I do not hold. I am the Minister of Defense and acting Director of other areas of the Empire as well. We will speak further on this at another time though, if you like. Thank you for coming.
"What's this play, Saryl?" Desat asked, rather exasperated.
General Bendili of the mechanized division chimed in "A power grab, Saryl? Only want those loyal to you?"
Then one of Saryl's very own confidants, once a member of his personal team and transferred with him to the military went to defend him. Tauren did something unexpected.
If I may. He quietly uttered the words as he walked over and drew Tarkov's sidearm.
That second and a half went by and as Gadz turned, the Minister of Defense shot him square in the chest, then returned the sidearm to its owner before the lifeless body even hit the ground.
Some in the room jumped, some did not, most were surprised, to say the least.
He has been leaking and selling secrets to the Black Sun, and "The Hundred".
Again, the questions. "So, this is how you expect to be successful? Shoot any differing opinion? Micro manage everything?"
Desat finally stood, ready to face the Minister, he got the response he was wanting.
Success comes at a price. It's getting knocked down and standing back up. Again, and again. It's taking the pain, transferring it to courage, turning to the charging onslaught and yelling "YOU WILL NOT TAKE ME ON THIS DAY!" Those are words that I live by. I want those who put the success of the Empire, the welfare of our people above themselves. THAT is what I want.
I want people who want to simply look at the galaxy and realize that we will be better.
Taking a step forward and getting chest to chest, he calmed down.
I get it. You want the Empire to return to glory. You want the influence to spread across the galaxy. That can still happen, but if you trust my way... they will come to us. Even some in the Republic.
The heavy footfalls entering the private meeting prompted Akilah to turn and see the darktroopers enter the room, then salute the minister and though she had never had any interactions with them, she knew that they were part of the military. These could be the best troops to use for a Black Ops team, if and when the need arose. Their training and dedication to the Empire were second to none and from what she heard, their dedication to a mission proved their sacrifice to a fault.
What Taryl did next surprised her though, as she noticed him draw the weapon and wasn't expecting anyone to be summarily executed on the spot. Even though she flinched at the report of the weapon, as did most in the room, she didn't object. The traitor had been known to be leaking secrets to the two terrorist organizations, but she had been waiting for other approvals before having him arrested. That problem was now solved, permanently. Relaxing again in her high backed chair, she glanced between those now afraid for their own lives and crossing the minister, she knew that Taryl had their undivided attention. Sometimes drastic measures were required.
Her eyes narrowed as she could see their leader's dedication to the cause and Empire that they all served. His words filling the room and prompted a grin as he approached the naysayer and stood toe to toe with him. Hoping that the officer wasn't dumb enough to do anything rash in front of so many witnesses, his retreating step told her volumes as he gave Taryl the space.
Warning indicators on the HUDs of Tarkov and the other two Darktroopers flashed into life as Saryl disengaged the safety of the sidearm. Time seemed to slow as the Bakuran Darktrooper witnessed the summary execution of the traitor, yet within an instant, the weapon was back in its owners hand. Efficiency in every moment seemed to be one of the Minister's defining traits, one that Aleksander could not help but admire.
No sooner had the body hit the floor, the Darktroopers, who had been as still as statues, moved with an unnatural and somewhat mechanical grace. Each of them turned, their movements fluid, to stand in a triangle around the Minister and the Admiral. Those nearest to the pair backed away from the armored hulks of grey, eager not to be caught in their path. Aside from the soft whirring of their armors servos and the safeties on their weapons coming off, the only sounds that could be heard from the grey giants were a few barely audible clicks caused by the activation of their internal comm-links.
"Sixteen energy readings from holstered weapons."
"Do not let your guard down, if another traitor is present, they may act impulsively. A cornered Nexu fights hardest."
The blond woman had been silent. Listening to those spouting off questions, insults, doubts and fears. She had listened to the answers and her trust in Saryl was once more unshaken. She knew him well enough to trust her life to him. If asked why, she probably couldn't have given a coherent answer that made sense to anyone else. She just did.
As the steel titans came down the halls, she was one who turned in her seat in curiosity. Though her heart pounded at the unknown, the fact Akilah and Saryl hadn't flinched gave her a bit of calm. Had they shown any sign of concern, she would have reacted quite differently. When they came in and showed their respect for the man in the front of the room, her heart rate settled to an only slightly elevated pounding.
The rise of voices and the conflict that prompted General Bendili to challenge Tauren left Kiana with her hand on the back of her seat about to press upwards in defense of the man. It was reflex, but it was halted as Tauren took the titan's side arm and shot the man. The blonde agent blinked in surprise but gave no other reaction. Perhaps from shock, or perhaps because it didn't truly surprise her.
As Tauren spoke of enemies, spies and Desat became the next person to be face to face with Tauren, it was actually the Dark Troopers who caught her eyes. Their motions, their words, belied true robots. They were human. And that made her give a slight smile to the corner of her lips. Sixteen energy readings. So others were armed. She had her knife in her boot, always did, but she didn't wear a side arm in the buildings. She wasn't required to, though was cleared to.
She glanced at the 'leader', Tarkov, though she didn't know his name, and looked into his eyes, or at least where his eyes seemed to be. Because of her location, she wasn't sure if he was aware of her personally, or merely watching those he knew were a threat. Then her eyes went to the two men, chest to chest, to see what would happen. Her hand was still on the back of her chair, ready to press her up, or the chair back, if the need arose. This meeting had certainly not gone the way she had expected it. She wondered if Tauren was thinking the same thing.