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machievelli
04-20-2006, 04:57 PM
I finished the Beginning.

I knew I could go farther, but face it people would you rather buy three books of about 300 pages each which will last years, or one monster 1000+page opus that you have to be careful reading to spare the spine?

But even I was unsatisifed. Damn it that was 200 odd pages that literally pour out like water. I got over a thousand hits during the time I wrote it.

And I am still unsatisifed. From what I saw of that last post today, so are some of you. I finished it, will trim and edit it, but that isn;t what you want to see. You want more Breia, More Sanji. You just want more.

So All right already.

Star Wars: Republic Dawn


The aftermath

The Corellian frigate Vengeance dropped out of hyperspace. An instant later Task Force Costigain dropped out behind it. Ten frigates and fifteen corvettes spread in a glittering jewel-like pattern. The seventeen ships of the fleet train were almost an afterthought. Enough ammunition spare parts and fuel to keep the warships in action for a week resided in those lumbering ships, along with a full medical unit. The largest unit ever assembled by the Corellian navy for one purpose.

And they were too late.

Admiral Halley Onasi looked out the transparisteel view ports at the scene of a slaughter. Wreckage stretched farther than the eye could see. According to all of the sensors this morass of wreckage stretched for almost two light seconds, six hundred thousand kilometers, and almost as deep. All that remained of a space station and perhaps thirty ships.

“Report.” She ordered, turning back to her crew.

“Nothing yet, Admiral.” Captain Koori Solo reported. He was in his late twenties, young for this command. But his father’s abilities when it came to flying and knowing where he was in relation to everything around him had held the young officer in good stead. From commander of an attack squadron, to navigator of the old Wayfarer, to first officer of Croyler. Now captain. His career track had been as rapid as a shooting star.

“We’re getting beacons from maybe half a dozen life pods.” He shook his head. “All told there should be over seven hundred pods.” His silence after the statement said more than any rant about almost 8,000 lives snuffed out.

“Concentrate the first division of the corvettes to defend the train. Have the medics on Sanctuary prepare for casualties.” Onasi drummed her fingers on the arm of her chair. “Shuttles are to assume that there are mines ahead.”

That assumption had been valid the last two times they had been attacked in this manner. Croyler was in the yards having her bow replaced after running into a mine field. No one knew how many Reprieve had absorbed before she was destroyed. No one had survived from her crew.

Slowly the shuttles moved in. Each scanned not only their own path, but along both sides as far as the path of their neighbors. The enemy had been tricky in their mine placement. Some had been limpets that would float up, attach to the hull, then explode, or wait until the shuttle had returned to their mother ships before exploding. Others had missile engines attached, and would attack from three times the distance. Missile pods had been discovered in such fields, even stealthed gravitic mines. The possibilities were endless and alarming.

As each shuttle probed forward, they looked not only for the siren calls of life pods, but for anything shaped like one. Something had to have happened to those missing pods.

“Shuttle 71 reports. It has a life pod in sight.” The communications officer reported.

“On visual.” Onasi ordered. Solo had come up beside her, and they watched the screen.

It wasn’t immediately obvious why the pod beacon was inactive. It tumbled through space in a regal spiral. Then as it moved farther, the other side came into view. The pod had been opened as if a maniac had used an axe on a tin of beans. As the opening swept past the camera people screaming silently in death could be seen. Every seat looked to be full.

Solo leaned back. “Send to shuttle 71. Have someone in a suit check that pod for booby traps. If it is not wired to blow, I want it aboard as soon as possible.”

The shuttle slowed, and a man in a suit moved out. Solo pitied the man. He had been in the situation before. Pragmatically it was less expensive to replace a single man than to replace a five thousand credit shuttle or a tenth of a million credit frigate. But if you’re that man who is only worth a handful of credits a week, you can feel, uncared for. Solo looked at the screen, stripping out the suit number. A name came up, and he tapped his com system.

“Be careful, Salazar.” He warned. “These bastards are pretty tricky.”

He heard a breathy laugh. “Not as sneaky as I can be, sir.” Salazar replied. The med reading which had come up with the name showed a high pulse and respiration rate. Solo racked his brain. He knew everyone aboard, and his memory was legendary.

“Like the personnel lift bomb?” He asked.

The heart line spiked.” Hey sir, that wasn’t me!”

“A tub of lubricating grease poured into a weather balloon and suspended above the car of a personnel lift? Command detonated so it soaked six men from Beta shift who just happen to be on the outs with you?” Solo chuckled. “I can’t have two such demonic pranksters aboard.”

The lines slowed. “Well maybe you do sir. But me I doubt it.” The tone was bantering.

“Then take care and get back here in one piece. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.”

“I heard that, sir.”

Solo keyed off, just listening as Salazar began the slow and steady cant well known to men who worked around sudden death by explosives. “You handled that well.” Onasi commented. “Calm him down, give him a feeling that someone in this abattoir thinks about him, at least briefly.”

“I thought that was part of my job, sir.” Solo replied. The bead that was Salazar was almost within arm’s reach, his suit orbiting the pod as he examined the hull millimeter by millimeter.

“It is.” Onasi’s chuckle was throaty. “But you’d be surprised how many men reach your rank without learning it.”

Solo looked at the older woman. Halley Onasi was older than his father. She had started as a mustang, an officer that was originally an enlisted man. There had been more blocks in her way than Solo could have imagined. He had gone through the Naval Academy, and just about every person he had met there was using his social position to ready themselves for the future, not a career. So many of his classmates were time servers who would attach ‘Corellian Navy; Ret’ to their resume in a couple of years if they hadn‘t already done so.

But Solo had dreamed of space since his father had taken him on his first joy ride at five. Something about expanding his horizons.

It had.

Serving under Onasi was something he had dreamed about. To be respected by her...

“Nothing attached to the outside.” Salazar commented. The scanner doesn’t pick up any live circuits under the skin. Moving to the gash now.”

Solo felt a chill. “Salazar, hold position.”

The suit slowed. “Holding position.”

Solo racked his brain again. Everything that Salazar’s suit should have came up as if on a screen before his eyes. “Salazar, I want you to spread your solar shield panel. Push it in front of the gap.”

On screen, the young man spread his panel as instructed, the opaque plastic film tightened as he fed air into the support lines. He slid up beside the pod, pushing the panel over the hole-

The film rippled as bullets ripped through it. Salazar held on grimly as over fifty rounds tore the sheet to shreds.

“Maybe there are two sneaky bastards aboard. Assuming you don’t mind the title, sir.”

“I think my parents would be upset, but I’m proud to be included. We’re going to send off a couple more panels, just in case they loaded more than one gun.” Solo switched off. “Sir, we need some expert advice on this.”

“Who would you suggest?”

“My sister is a member of the Jedi order. I’ve seen her play chess with her back turned to the board, and when she was a kid, fiddled with the lighting circuits without touching them. We need someone like her to help us disarm these mines faster.”

“Unfortunately asking the Jedi for anything is a political decision.” Onasi demurred. “Besides it would take what, a week to get her here from the Coruscant Temple?”

“She’s not there. She’s at home taking a sabbatical.” He shrugged. “And arguing with father. That’s what, a 20 hours round trip?”

“We can’t afford the wasted time.” Onasi demurred. “Sending a ship back, picking her up and bringing her back would take 20 hours true.” She steepled her fingers. “But if I sent a mail packet home in a torpedo, that would only take eight and a half for message to be delivered, and having her here if she comes.” Onasi turned to look at him, her left eye flashing in a wink. “Personal mail is not political as you know.” She turned back to the screen. “Don’t you have some mail to write, Captain?”

machievelli
04-20-2006, 08:17 PM
Confrontation

Breia Solo wasn’t sure what was the biggest mistake. Coming home, staying more than a few days, or... Becoming a Jedi Monk.

Breakfast was always the worse. Mother would not have left for her office yet, Father was working at home, and she didn’t have any missions assigned.

The pity was the worst though. Breia Sookor Bai Echana, master of the Coruscant Monastery had looked at her, with pity. How she could tell that a woman without sight was looking at her with pity had been was unclear.

Little one, you need some time to yourself.

But Master, I must go have something to do! There are dozens of missions that must be handled-

All true. But the last mission was... painful.

Pain is part of life, Master. I can’t just sit here and think of how my Master died.

Yet if you do not listen to me and do as you are bid, that is exactly what you will do. His death was regrettable. However I have studied all of the reports. From both you and the surveillance systems. The odds were that neither of you would walk out alive. Thank the force you did.

But if I had moved a bit faster. Not hesitated-

Might have been is never something to examine too closely. Whatever you might have done is unimportant. You made a decision. It was neither right nor wrong. It was and is what happened.

I know. But my hesitation killed Master Werron.

No, the Noghri did. Did your hesitation lead to his death? I think not.

You have always been unwilling to punish me, Master.

Why? Because you bear my name? Because you are the daughter of good friends? No. I have been as harsh as you needed. No more, no less. Now you have a choice. You may go to the mother monastery of Ossus for a time. There are those that can learn from you. This ability you have with machines... It is frightening to one such as me even as it is astonishing and wonderful.

It frightens you?

I spent my early life learning the song of steel, how to hear it, and adjust it to perfection. Now this would make everything I learned before I was 20 worthless. It is no longer the song of the steel, but wave fluctuations, and sonic modulations. Soon the weapons I made will be curious artifacts of a bygone time. Perhaps not long after I will join them.

Master you cannot die!

Padawan, death is nature’s way of telling you your to stop doing that. When I die it will be my time. As Master Werron knew. It is the opinion of the Council that you will take a two week sabbatical. Either you will go to Ossus, go on vacation, or go home.

Breia had chosen the one that seemed least painful, or so she thought at the time. It had been a rough decade at the Monastery. Learning how to forge her own sword, to move silent and unnoticed. To use that Force that existed to do things that were magical to the uninitiated.

But first had come the interest she had discovered in music which had blossomed into an interest in sound itself. Finally the breakthrough. The sword she now bore was the crowning achievement. A blade that used directed sound to turn any blade into a blade like the Jedi Monks used, and had used for over two decades.

Part of the problem had been that metallurgy had progressed. When those who would oppose the Jedi originally had faced the new weapon their armor had been useless. Now there were signs that composite armors with woven sections of monomolecular cloth had limited but not negated that weapon. A blade no longer merely sliced through them, but had to cut as would a normal blade. Her new design, a vibrating metal blade with sonic vibrations to cause material to vibrate away from it seemed to be the answer. One of the Masters had called it a vibroblade.

But when it came time to use it for the first time she had hesitated, as if she were a first year Apprentice unwilling to try her blade on the flesh of another. She knew it would slide through the flesh as easily as it had sliced through 20 centimeter battle steel in demonstrations. But for some reason she had hesitated.

And her Master had died.

Her father Darshan Solo grunted as she entered the dining room. He had a stack of fanfold readouts that were almost a third of a meter thick on his right side, and as he ate, he would flip the pages by. CEC was having a rough year. The Kuati yards had started to produce a new model of medium transport, making the entire newly designed ships of the same class by CEC obsolete and overpriced. Her godfather Koori Deralo had spent months redesigning the ships and the factories to make them faster and cheaper. A lot of workers had been laid off because the new fully automated systems had made them redundant.

But Darshan and Koori had agreed that they couldn’t merely throw talented men to the four winds. Between them they had found other jobs for a lot of them. But the acrimony of the few that refused other work was wearing.

Her mother Holani came in. Like her husband, she had her own work. But hers was on a pad with bloodthirsty threats engraved on the casing, and a print scanner to tell not only if she was authorized, but to notify the CSS if someone tried without that authorization. She smiled lightly at her daughter, kissed Darshan on the cheek, and sat, pulling the plate of eggs and pancakes to her. Breia wondered where her mother put all the calories. All her life she had fought gaining weight. She took after her father in that. The once rail thin young man had become a stocky middle aged man. But her mother could eat as if there were no tomorrow, and not gain a kilo. It was frustrating.

“So, what have you planned for today?” Darshan asked, looking up from the paper without moving his head.

“I was going to go to the museum. Get my head straight, father.”

“What is the problem now?” He leaned back, picking up the cup of tea. “Still having problems with that sound sword of yours?”

“No, Father. I worked out what was wrong.” She shoved the remnants of meat and egg around on the plate. “I just need to think about where my life is going.”

“Heavy thoughts for one your age.” Holani commented. She poured cream into her tea, adding enough sweetener to stun a diabetic. She didn’t drink tea, she drank a warm tea flavored milk shake every morning.

“It’s that last mission. I heard-”

“You heard what, father?” The tone was not light in any way. Wars had started with that tone of voice.

“Breia sent me a letter-”

“Oh she did.” The tone went even flatter. Cities had died when men gave orders in that tone of voice. “What did my dear master have to say?”

“Breia.” Holani looked up. “It’s not polite to interrogate your father. Let him finish a simple statement. Then you can rip out his liver.”

“You’re not helping, mother. Well?”

“You were in the postscript. She has been asked to mediate a labor dispute here on Corellia. She said in passing that if you liked, she would come by and spend some time with you.”

“That does not answer my question.”

“She said the last mission was rough. Your master died, and you thought it was your fault-”

The silverware Breia had been holding slammed down as she stood. “I am an adult, Father. You and Breia can’t seem to get that through your thick heads but I am quite capable of mulling over what is wrong with my life without parents and teachers getting together to discuss it!” She threw her napkin down. “I am going out. I will be home when I decide to be home.”

“Breia-”

“Just for once I am going to do what I want father! If I want to get falling down not sure of who took to bed drunk, I will. Is. That. Clear?”

Holani set down her cup. “We have been informed, my daughter. Do what you will.”

The girl stormed from the room. Darshan almost stood to follow her, but Holani motioned for him to stop.

“Darshan, we can’t live her life for her.”

“But she’s in pain, Damnit! Can’t Breia see that?”

Holani sighed, picking up her cup again. “Our daughter is grown, my love. As much as we might want to shield her from life, she is an adult and can make any decision she wants, no matter how stupid that decision is to us.” She sipped. “We didn’t have this much angst when Koori went into the Academy at 14.”

“Yeah, but Koori was only 200 kilometers away. He could come home for dinner any time he wanted to. But Breia had to go to Coruscant. A week away by ship.”

“The Master explained that to us at the time.” Holani commented.

“I understand that having a doting parent there every second near enough to intervene would affect her training. I understand that without that training she would never become what she has. But my love they stole my daughter from me at six, and returned that!” He waved toward the door. “She is our daughter, and I love her, but... She isn’t the child she was.”

“Of course not.” Holani poured and mixed her tea, taking her time to think about what to answer. Finally she sipped. “She takes after me, just as Koori took after you. To her a ship is something to fly, and she does it well. But it is not the be all and end all that it was to you. I have always been the kind that would unscrew the inscrutable. You knew that when you met me. She sees everything around her as patterns of this Force they go on about. She know that somehow if she reaches out at just the right point, she can change the galaxy.

“But seeing it and knowing how to fix it is always different. How many times have I been frustrated from work and couldn’t explain why to you?”

“Too often than I care to think about.” He admitted.

“Yet I spring back. She will learn to spring back, Darshan. Trust me on that.”

“I do.” He whispered, sitting down again. His hand groped across, and found hers. “It’s just... I always had in my mind what I would do as a father. I couldn’t protect my children from everything, but I swore to try! I can’t bear to see her in pain.”

“Nor I. But as Breia told you, this is something she must work out for herself.”

The communications annunciator sounded and Holani reached across. “Solo here.”

“Miss Solo, we have a sealed communication from Captain Koori Solo.”

“Send it on.”

“Ma’am, it’s not for you. It’s addressed to Breia Solo.”

Holani’s eyes showed nothing. “Send it on, I will get it to her.” She inserted a common pad into the slot, and caught it as it popped out. “I will catch our daughter. Darshan my love, why don’t you go test fly something. I hear the new Saber will be quite a handful.”

“I’m sure you did, since I told you.” He waved. “Go. I will pretend I am a complete idiot and don’t notice anything until she’s cooled her jets. All right?”

“The man I love finally learns some tact.” Holani kissed him gently.

“Tact. That’s a word in the dictionary between tacky and tardy, right?”

machievelli
04-21-2006, 12:06 PM
A vacation from the Sabbatical

Breia didn’t do as she had threatened. As a young girl at the Monastery she had learned enough control of her body that drinking to make herself that stupid was almost impossible. Oh she could do it. But it would be a lot of effort for little or nothing.

No. Some petty vindictive part of her had wanted to hurt her father, hurt Master Breia. She knew it was petty, knew it was childish. But she had wanted to anyway. She almost took back what she had said, almost run back to throw her arms around him and apologize. But her own innate stubbornness stopped her.

She walked onto the balcony, looking out. The city gleamed in the gentle light of early morning. So much vibrancy there. Yet with her training she could see and feel so much more. The nexus of lies and deceit that was the Corporate quarter. The dingy little lies of the government offices. The solid black of the underworld. All of it there among the glow of newborns, people happy to see the sunrise. The evanescent glow of so many people made her want to sing. At the same time the dark shadow of all those that felt out of place, ill used, or worn down made her want to weep.

She knew her place in the universe. Knew that she could do what so many of those sad people could not. She could make the world, the galaxy a better place. As long as she held to her training.

Self forgiveness was a big problem. She knew this to be true because she had made mistakes before. She wasn’t perfect, and knew it. Her teachers had always told her to find a use for it. But this time...

“Yes, Mother?” She turned. Holani stood there, watching her. How to describe her mother? She could rattle off the standard Identification description. But that didn’t describe the glow of suppressed energy her mother had always had. To her trained sight she was a glow of red from anger. Anger at problems the government faced, people that were a danger. The blues of her love for her family and her job. The shadow of pain she knew she had caused.

“You have too much of me in you, my daughter.” Holani said softly. She came over beside her, turning the younger woman toward the city again arm draped around her. “Most see just the beauty of the structures, the lights during the evening. But some...

“You see that darkness as well as I do, just differently. To me it’s nuances of the way a diplomat talks to hide deceit. The way they hold their eyes, or their mouth. You see even deeper. There are time I wish I had your gift. There I times, I know, when you curse it.” Her arm tightened.

“I never told you of what I was like before I met your father, have I?”

“No, mother.”

“I was a person that you would have been afraid to associate with. I was a liar a spy a thief and a murderer. I helped kidnap your teacher and came very close to getting her killed.”

“Mother-”

“Let me finish. Thanks to my actions I have caused the deaths of the gods alone know how many.

“Then I met your father. A young idiot with dreams of being better, of doing what was right. A young idiot that took that monster I had become and made me what I am today. An idiot I love so much it hurts.

“He would do the same for you if he could. If he had your gift he would have set the world on it’s ear to remove even a tithe of your pain. But I know as you do that he cannot.”

“Mother, I caused Master Werron’s death!”

“You did nothing of the sort.” Holani replied. “When you were coming home, I asked Master Breia to give me information on what had occurred. It is against the rules of your order, but she knows what I do for the government, what i was, and she also knows that I would never tell anyone of it. I owe her too big a debt for any petty actions on my part.

“The Noghri would have attacked anyway. They felt pressured by the Corporations, by the governments, you and your master appeared to be an easy target for them to strike at, or so they thought. Your hesitation according to the transcripts of the security cameras was trying to figure out which weapon to use. You may have assigned different motives to what occurred, but that is exactly what I saw. Use your new sword, or use your forged blade. One brief hesitation. It wasn’t something you could even know would occur.

“Soldiers have it happen all the time. They are surprised, and part of them wants to go with one weapon, another part with another weapon. You resolved it. Just not fast enough for your own sense of well being.”

“Maybe mother.” Breia looked away. “I don’t think coming home was such a good idea.”

“You know what they say. Home is where they have to take you in.” Holani hugged her tightly, then held up a data chip. “Koori sent this addressed to you.”

The girl took the chip, feeling her mother leave. What would her brother have to say? A part of her pain had eased. Her mother, she knew, had been a bit of a rogue before she had married. Her mother knew weapons far too well for someone everyone thought was a socialite. Her duties with the Corellian Special Services should have been proof enough.

The chip fed into her pad, and she lifted it. “Hi, sis. Got some interesting problems here, and the first thing I thought was maybe you could help.

“I told the Admiral about you, and she asked me to send this. Before you ask, this is not an official government request. Those damn Pols would be arguing into the next century and we don’t have that kind of time. The Admiral asked me to say that if you can help, we would welcome it. But we aren’t asking the Jedi, we’re asking my sister. Got it?

“If you do come, could you bring some of Grandmother’s Keflaka cookies?
I‘d do serious injury for some of them. Message ends.”

She smiled gently. Koori and those damn cookies! She considered. Technically she could not accept. She was a Jedi monk and all assignments except those you happened upon in for travels were to be assigned.

Yet she was on vacation. Besides, this sounded... Interesting. She keyed her com line, calling the local Monastery. She was able to reach archives and records without questions, and downloaded all of the data on the problem Corellia was having at the moment. She called the military base, and a Courier was going to the fleet, then on to Coruscant. She was able to get passage by merely saying ‘I am a Jedi on a mission’.

The military at least seemed to appreciate them.

machievelli
04-21-2006, 12:11 PM
All right, sixteen hits and nothing? Is it really that bad?

Renegade Puma
04-21-2006, 01:08 PM
LOL, give us a chance to log on and actually read it Mach! This is really great stuff so far. Just as good if not better than your last two installments. I am really enjoying being able to read about Darshan and Holani again. And their two children seem like they are going to accomlish a lot of good. I can't wait to get some more Breia and Sanji action though. Keep up the great work!

Hallucination
04-21-2006, 02:25 PM
Solo looked at the older woman. Halley Onasi was older than his father. She had started as a mustang, an officer that was originally an enlisted man.
You know an officer is special when she used to be man.... :xp: Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that. :)
Keep up the fic-tasticness. :)

machievelli
04-21-2006, 06:34 PM
You know an officer is special when she used to be man.... :xp: Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that. :)
Keep up the fic-tasticness. :)

I'm sticking with the idea Star Trek pioneered that one one term needs to be used. So it's crewmen, officers are called sir, etc. While a lot of feminists might complain, creating an entire different way of speaking because you don't want to offend one group is actually offensive to everyone else.

machievelli
04-22-2006, 01:39 AM
Conundrum

As the courier burrowed through space, Breia read the data she had downloaded from the Corellian Temple. There was a lot of data, but it all seemed of the negative variety; Stations in the closer systems, all settled and claimed by Corellia had been attacked. Any ships in the system were also attacked and destroyed. The attacks had been fast and brutal. Over 20,000 had died so far. Six stations worth an aggregate estimate of 2 billion credits, along with a quarter million tons of shipping. Small vessels, escorts and Corvettes had proven useless. Whoever was attacking had to be using ships of Frigate size or larger. She visualized something that made a 400 meter long Frigate look small, but her mind rebelled.

The few survivors had been the assorted lucky crewman who had been in the right place to survive, but knew little about ships, so there wasn’t even a description of the ships. only reports that ships of unknown design had come, blown the stations, and departed.

But there were anomalies. Communications from the last station, Sigma 9 in the Britain system had been perfectly normal up until the last frantic message. Beta 2 in the Feramond system, the second attacked had been the same. A sudden attack and everyone died. The others had gone down almost unnoticed, only a ship chancing to pass through the system had detected the wreckage.

She checked the scan data. Battlefields in space were incredibly messy regardless of what holo-dramas suggested. Projectiles that missed their targets traveled at a small percentage of light speed and sometimes took weeks to leave the system. The same with missiles. Just as deadly to a ship entering from the wrong course or perhaps even in another system in several years. The scan data showed a lot of projectiles going out. But the pattern looked odd to her. She turned then the forensics. Oddly enough every weapon that had killed someone had been made by the same peoples that had been on the ships. Corellian hand weapons had smashed Corellian stations, Duros made weapons had been used on the few Duros ships that had been involved. Even Twi-lek weapons on Twi-lek ships. The resources the enemy had to have was astounding.

Or maybe...

She tapped the com annunciator, flipping back to check the one anomaly that bothered her the most.

“Captain Boroni here. What do you need, Padawan?”

“Is there a free computer that can crunch numbers over a very long period?”

“No, Padawan. Well, if you don’t mind a droid...”

“Not a problem. I don’t have any prejudices.”

“Then you can have the sanctimonious little piece of crap. He’s on the way.”

“Thank you, Captain. Won’t the Navy be upset that you are giving away a droid?”

“Not this series. They tend to get irritating after a while.”

She keyed off, nodding absently. The forensics team had reported traces of what appeared to be a coolant named Bidraxidine in the air of the last station attacked. Her brow wrinkled. The chemical was inert in most species, though it caused Duros to sneeze. The ratio of the chemical was minor. Probably not important.

There was a knock at her door, and an eight legged horror came in. Breia leaped to her feet, hand touching the hilt of her sword. The metallic monster stopped at the door, two eyes on stalks swiveling to look at her.

“You requested a droid, Padawan?” It asked. The voice was incongruous. It was a deep baritone. Coming from something that looked like a hook spider, it was a bit of a shock.

“Yes I did.”

“I am A4D9, self aware computing unit. You have calculations to be made?”

“How much do you know about ballistics?”

“More than the average person would either need or want, Padawan.”

“I can see why they don’t like you. Come here.” The monster walked across the deck, stopping beside her chair. “Where do I input the data?”

“I am not a toaster, Padawan.” One of the pedipalps lifted, and a computer access rod slid out. “Is the data on the system before you?”

“Yes.”

The rod slid into the socket. “Specific files?”

“All ballistic files for the attacks on the stations. I want to know where all projectiles and missiles originated.”

“I see why I was assigned. This will take some time. Several hours at least.”

“While you are at it, check the reports from the air systems of the areas of the stations that were not vented. Look for any anomalous compounds.”

“Station Theta 4 was completely depressurized. There will be no such data.”

“I am aware of that.”

“This will take a much shorter period. I can have the air data ready for you by end of watch.”

“Thank you.” She leaned back from the computer, looking at the overhead. “Who could be behind these attacks?” She mused.

“I have no idea.” The droid replied. “Not that anyone has asked.“

“Neither did I.” She said.

“See?” the droid hunkered down, circuits whirring.

*****
Breia Sookor Bai Echana, looked out of the screen at Holani. The woman knew she was being seen. Breia had slipped the plug into it’s socket in front of her. An uncommon courtesy.

“I knew you were beautiful, I just didn’t know how beautiful.” Breia said.

“Spare me the flattery, old friend. What can I do for you?”

“I tried your daughter’s com link but have received no reply.”

“That might be because she received a letter from Koori and the instant she read it, she contacted the Monastery here, then the Navy.”

“I have been apprised of that. What they didn’t know was what she was doing.”

“Give me a moment.” Holani lifted her pad, and tapped the screen. The letter from Koori was there, and she directed a program at it.

“What are you doing, as if I didn’t know?”

“Parents worry. More than teachers sometimes.” Holani mused. “She went from a blue funk to totally focused in less than half an hour, and I for one have been curious.”

“But you didn’t try to decode it before.”

“Heaven forefend! What kind of mother do you think I am?”

“An overprotective one.”

“Ah, but still true to allowing the children their privacy.”

“Is that so.” Breia said dryly. “This from the mother that had listening devices hidden in her rooms at the Coruscant temple.”

“Well I only listen to see if she cried and why.” Holani explained.

“And did the same to her son. How did you get them on his first ship?”

“A routine investigation. Some just happened to be in rooms he spent a lot of time in.”

“Of course.”

“Ah.” Holani linked the pad to the screen, and they watched the letter play.

“Him and those cookies!” Holani laughed. “I will have to contact Mama and get some for him.”

“He’ll know you read the letter.”

“No he won’t. I always arrange to have a couple of dozen sent out.”

“So.” Breia leaned back, fingers steepled. “This is strange. You do know that four Coruscanti station have been attacked.”

“Yes. And three Twi-lek ones, and one Hutt and a Duros station.”

“It looks like a systematic attack against the core systems.” Breia said softly. “At the same time, the Jedi have been blocked out of it.”

“I know that, old friend. You and your kind are sometimes too bluntly honest when it comes to arbitration. None of the Corporations are really happy with you. They never have been in truth. And truth be known, Galactic Mining and Mineral has more pull with Intelligence than I do.”

“True. It‘s the same with the Galactic Trade Authority on Coruscant.” Breia rocked her chair back and forth idly. “Ah, but one of our own is going into danger. Holani, do you think the Corellian Special Service will be upset if some of us went to this last site?”

Holani laughed. “Director Maron will be furious.” She leaned forward. “That is, if we tell him first. He might even have a heart attack!”

“Then I think I will need a full court press. Seven of us in two ships.” She turned to touch a panel. “And we will bring some specialty droids. This looks to be something we must be part of.”

“Why?”

“Holani.” Breia stopped, sighing. “I have a gut feeling that something is going to come seriously loose if we don’t get involved. A feeling that not only will we be going into danger, but your daughter has already blindly done just that.”

“Is it really that bad?”

Breia nodded. “If we do not stop this, I predict that Corellia will be at war with one or more systems within the year. I predict that ten to twenty of the core systems will be involved in that same war before three years have passed."

“You have never been much for predicting, Breia.”

“It is not me doing that prediction, Holani. It is the Force guiding me.”

“Then may it guide you and keep you all safe.”

“No one ever said a Jedi’s life was safe.” The screen blanked.

Holani leaned back, her face troubled. She suddenly felt that her daughter might die out there.

Soon.

*****

The courier dropped out of warp, running in toward the fleet. It docked with the flagship. Captain Solo was on the boat deck, hands clasped behind his back. The tube irised open, and something that looked like a giant metallic spider swarmed out, moving aside. Behind it, swimming easily through the vacuum, came his sister. She flipped end for end, her feet coming down even with the deck as she passed from zero gravity to ship’s gravity. It was a gymnastic feat few could do without the grab bar above the tube’s end.

She looked around, then at her brother. “Request permission to come aboard, sir?”

“Granted, Padawan. Welcome aboard the Vengeance.”

She walked forward, aware of the eyes from the crewmen busy at their duties. Within seconds the news that a Jedi was aboard would spread. She reached out, shaking her brother’s hand. “I believe you wanted to have me assist on mine clearing?”

“Yes, Padawan.” His face was smooth, a perfect face for playing Sabaac. “If you will come this way, I think the Admiral would like to talk to you first.”

“Please, lead the way, Captain.” She turned toward the droid. “A4, go to my quarters. If you finish any computations within the next hour or so please let me know.”

“Yes, Padawan.” It replied. “It would help if I knew where the quarters were.”

“Deck two, Compartment S 41.” The captain said.

“Thank you, Captain.” The droid watched the lift door close. The crew glared at it, then returned to their work.

The doors had barely closed when Breia found herself lifted in a bear hug. “Behave yourself, Koori!” She laughed. “If they don’t know you are my brother, people would talk!”

He pecked her on the cheek. “I’ve missed you Brie.”

“I missed you to.” She looked up at him, nose wrinkling. “What about you and Sala Dodonna?”

“It wouldn’t have worked.” He sighed. “The scion of the great Naval Dodonna infatuated with the son of a merchant?”

“She loved you, brother.”

“Not enough. When her parents made it me or a career she dumped me so fast you’d think I was radioactive.”

“Too bad. I was picturing kids with her hair and your eyes...”

The door opened before he could retort. They walked down the passageway together, the soul of propriety. Koori knocked on a door. “Come.”

They walked into the Admiral’s cabin. Unlike a lot of people who had the same title, Onasi didn’t have a lot of staff along. Her flag allowed her fifteen, she had brought two, her Chief of Staff and her Flag Lieutenant. Both were in the compartment when they arrived.

“Ah, Padawan. Good of you to accept your brother’s invitation.”

“I came because you needed help, Admiral.” She demurred. “How many of the attacks have you been briefed on, Admiral?”

“All six.”

“There have been more.” Breia filled them in on the attacks on other polities. “I came because when I heard that Corellia was not the only government being attacked, I thought I saw a pattern. I borrowed an A4 droid from the courier, and I have it working on some data. I think I might explain how the attacks are occurring, and why.”

“So soon.” The Chief of Staff snapped. “Only been on the case a few hours and already you know more than we do?”

“Hush.” The Admiral said. “A fresh point of view can sometimes see what we will not.” She looked at Breia carefully. “Your brother told me you have an... ability with electronics?”

“Yes. I noticed it when I was a child. I can feel where they are, and what they do.”

“Poppycock.” The Chief of Staff growled.

Breia raised her hand to forestall a rebuke from the admiral. “In your top desk drawer, there are five pads. One is encrypted to Alpha level, two to Beta, the other two unencrypted. One of them is a third full of your diary, the other of your personal log. In the left hand upper drawer are a pair of electro-binoculars with a defective power cell. You might tell the tech to check the connection on the third post on the left.

“In the top right drawer, you have your pistol which is sitting on top of your com link. The Commander who is so abrasive has a watch that is slow. It has been losing ten hundredths of a second every day for the past month. The vibration crystal is faulty.” She looked at the Commander. “Shall I do more magic tricks for you?”

“I think you have proven quite efficient, Padawan.” Onasi said. “Now how would that work with mines and booby traps?”

“Except for pure mechanical traps, every booby trap works using some circuitry or power sources. I can feel them.”

“At what distance?”

“My maximum range appears to be around fifty meters.”

“Padawan Solo.” Her com link chirped.

“Go ahead A4.”

“There are no anomalous compounds in the air systems you mention except for the trace amounts of Bidraxidine on Station Alpha 14. However there is residue of some odd chemicals that could be caused by respiration of Bidraxidine if this was in fact that compound.”

“Explain.”

“The Bidraxidine which is in the system aboard the remains of Sigma 9 is chemically different from the norm, suggesting that someone used Bidraxidine as a carrier. I am not fully conversant with physiology, so I cannot determine the cause or the affect of such a compound.”

“Are ship’s surgeon might.” Koori said.

“Yes. May I ask why an inert engine coolant seems to interest you, Padawan?”

“Yes Admiral.” She looked around the room. “If I am correct, there was no attack.”

“What?” The Chief of Staff bolted upright. “Are you saying that 8,000 people didn’t die out there?”

“I didn’t say that, Commander. What I mean is that they killed each other.”

Char Ell
04-22-2006, 12:27 PM
*** gleefully rubs hands together ***
Yee-aah! Now we're talkin'! Mystery, intrigue, deception, the threat of interplanetary war, and Breia deciding the Jedi must become involved whether or not the system governments/corporations want their help or not. I can hardly wait for more.

I'm sticking with the idea Star Trek pioneered that one one term needs to be used. So it's crewmen, officers are called sir, etc. While a lot of feminists might complain, creating an entire different way of speaking because you don't want to offend one group is actually offensive to everyone else.How very non-politically correct of you, machievelli. I like your style. :smirk2:

machievelli
04-22-2006, 03:38 PM
Evidence

If someone had actually asked him, A4 was happy. The puzzle given to him by the Padawan was intriguing. The chemical analysis was child’s play, and discovering the respirant residue had been the icing on the cake.

What most bio-forms didn’t understand, or failed to take into consideration was that when they breathed, they drew in gas, and some of that gas remained in their systems. For humans and most of the known sophonts that was oxygen. Bidraxidine had seven oxygen molecules in it’s artificially designed matrix, and when inhaled, would leave some of them in the body, becoming a degraded form.

This gas was so close to the chemical mix called Bidraxidine that it would be unnoticed in a test of the atmosphere. The test equipment would read it as that chemical.

Yet it was not Bidraxidine. It had 8 molecules of oxygen, and from the attachment points of the molecule, had started with more like 12.

The projectile tracking was more difficult, and it turned to that now.

Ballistics was a simple pure science. A projectile would travel on a course affected only by gravity in space, and the micro gravities created by artificial systems would affect them only slightly. He hadn’t been told to add the movement of ships and wreckage, but he added that to the equation as well. He assumed that the Padawan wished to find out where the ships were as well, and as they were damaged or destroyed, where the wreckage went.

Sigma 9 was the first done, of course. The data was more recent, and the wreckage had drifted little in comparison.

*****

“You’re mad.” The Commander snarled.

“Dothan-”

“Admiral, she expects us to believe that 8,000 people just decided out of nowhere to kill each other? It’s ludicrous!”

“I have the droid I brought working on the drift patterns of the expended ordinance and wreckage. I am willing to bet you real money that it will prove what I am claiming.”

“If it does I will apologize on the flight deck to the entire crew!” Dothan retorted hotly.

“Padawan-”

Breia lifted the com link. “Go ahead, A4.”

“Data for Sigma 9 is in. The others will take several more hours.”

“Admiral do we have a data link here?”

“On my desk.”

“A4, send it to the Admiral’s cabin.”

“Enroute.”

Onasi sat, keying the system. A spherical holo formed. At the center was what was left of the station.

“This is the location of all projectiles and floating debris within a five light second area. The ship‘s scans ordered by Captain Solo go out fifteen light minutes.” A4 reported. “Now, we will reverse the clock slowly.” As the words came out, the bullets, missiles and wreckage began to drift inward. The scale stayed at five light second, and more entered it. Then even more. Finally the scale jumped to only four light seconds. Again they waited as projectiles streamed back into the center.

“At this point, I direct your attention to the ships and station.” A4 brought up a scan of only the center light second. The distance a bullet or missile would travel in about five seconds time. As they watched, the projectiles began disappearing into the structures, but not emerging. At the edge, a life pod suddenly floated together out of scrap, followed by another. A small merchant ship suddenly blossomed into life, the projectiles that had destroyed it moving inexorably backward toward another ship nearby. Projectiles streamed into the center at a more rapid rate, more and more pods appearing as wreckage flowed together. Another ship that had been tumbling moved backwards, parts flowing into it until it was suddenly whole again.

There were millions of small red specks now. A pod reassembled, and a missile leaped from it to the station, socketing itself back in a tube that was itself reforming.

The play stopped. “This is fifteen seconds into the incident. Every ship is accounted for.”

“But what about an intruder?” The Commander was ashen.

“It was not in the system during the attack. Note this.” Another hologram blossomed. The time tick was 20 minutes after the attack. A number of the last projectiles fired suddenly drifted to the side. “Those deviations in their course were caused by a detectable artificial gravity field. I am discerning this from what you might call ‘shadow’ evidence, something not there, but it’s presence affected the matter around it. This area of affect began at 20 light seconds from the station, moved into the area of greatest damage, and stayed for approximately seven hours. It departed an hour or more before the fleet arrived.”

“I seem to owe you an apology.” Dothan said.

“Never mind you rash promise, Commander. If I hadn’t already had the clues I have given you I would have suspected insanity as well.” Breia replied. “I accept your apology here.”

“But there is an outside agent.” Koori said. “Someone planted this chemical, then came in and laid booby traps to catch us.”

“Yes.” Breia considered. “Are the logs of arrivals still accessible?”

“No, Damnit. The computer core took a hit about fifteen seconds or so into the incident. A missile from the Corvette assigned here, I think.” Koori leaned forward. “But maybe the other stations have records we can use.”

“As soon as I am done clearing the booby traps, I must go then. All of the records are on Corellia and I know there will be another attack soon. I have to figure out where and try to be there before it happens.” Breia said.

*****

The ship settled on the small landing field near the Monastery where Breia Sookor Bai Echana waited patiently. The ramp came down, and a small figure bounded down the ramp. She remember Yodai well. He reminded her so much of Dor.

“Greetings I give, Master Sookor.” He chirped. Behind him, Sanji Gretu came down the ramp. The years had not been kind. His lungs, scarred by vacuum in orbit of Ithor had never fully healed. He had refused artificial lungs, and kept going despite the handicap.

“Master.”

“Stop that.” Breia hugged him. “It’s good to see you again, Sanji.”

“Have you ever noticed how much of discussion revolves around sight?” He asked.

“More than you might have.” She replied tartly. “Did you bring them?”

“Yes. Four droids of the B9 series. May I ask why?”

“They have a special function only they can carry out.” She replied. “Have two of them transfer to the Falcon.”

Yodai leaped back aboard the ship. Breia’s head turned as if she could actually see the little being. “Does he wear you out?”

“Not as much as those damn Mandalorian boys. Oh, Anak sent greetings from Ithor.”

“So the Mandalorians got that contract?”

“After Czerka tried to hide that mining base on the planet, the Ithorians decided the only people they could trust were the Mando. They don’t lie.”

“Yes, they haven’t reached that level of sophistication yet. Good for them.”

A small group of young Jedi monks approached, and Breia noticed them. “Ah, our staff as it were.” Breia said. The four young beings stopped, bowing. “Master Gretu, may I present Padawan Lang from my home world.” The young Echani bowed deeper. “Apprentices Shali of Rutia, Amberdon of Coruscant, and Yaka of Ithor.” The Twi-lek, human and Ithorian each bowed deeply as they were named. “Shali is Lang’s apprentice at the moment. Amberdon is my new pilot.”

“And Yaka?” Sanji asked.

“We need something to slow down our good friend Padawan Solo. Yaka will fit the bill nicely once we arrive.”

“What is the situation.”

“Always business.” Breia laughed then she sobered. “The attacks on the Hutt, Twi-lek Coruscanti and Corellians are not separate events as we had surmised. Breia’s report before she left suggests that they are all linked. I have studied the evidence she delivered, and I agree with her.”

“So we have been asked-”

“No. We have not been asked to intervene. I believe we must.”

Sanji considered. “I trust your judgment, Breia. But have you informed the council?”

“I will right before we leave.”

He sighed. “I worry about you sometimes.”

Her com link beeped, and she touched it. “Breia Sookor Bai Echana.”

“Master Sookor, there is a message for you from the Navy department. Marked urgent.” The apprentice reported.

“I will be up there in a moment.” She took Sanji’s arm. “Now help an old woman find the communications room.”

*****

“-So that is the situation as I see it, Master Sookor. I apologize for not being there to meet you, but the situation will explode all out of proportion if we don’t discover what is happening. I have asked the Navy to transport me to Delta 4 station. I have checked the pattern of attacks and Delta 4 is between the last Coruscanti attack, and the first Twi-lek one. I believe it is next on their agenda. I hope you can reply before I depart Sigma 9. If not you can meet me on Delta 4. Padawan Solo out.” Breia leaned back, rubbing her chin in thought. “I can almost see the pattern she describes. Sanji, head immediately to Delta 4. Be prepared for an attack using some kind of chemical weapon.”

“At once Master.”

“Communications, send a reply to the Navy for a torpedo. Have Breia wait there for our arrival. Do not proceed to Delta 4 without support.”

“Yes, Master.”

Breia stood. “Let’s be about our work. Lang, has the ship been checked out?”

“Yes, master.”

“Then take it directly to Sigma 9 at best speed. The Falcon cannot keep up with you, so link up with Breia when you arrive.”

*****
“You could wait a few days. Until I can send a warship with you.” Onasi said as they headed toward the docking bay. “At least wait until the Surgeon has completed his analysis!”

“No Admiral.” Breia walked alongside her, setting the fast pace. It might have been funny to the crew to have an Admiral almost jogging to keep up, but Breia didn’t consider it. “This cargo ship is enroute to Delta 4, and I can shave a day or more if I leave immediately. You can notify Corellia by torpedo, and I can’t wait that long.” They entered the docking bay, where A4 already waited. “Come on you lump of tin, we have work to do.” She said.

“Actually there is not tin in my matrix. I am primarily-”

“I know, A4. Look up the term tease later.” Breia waited as the docking tube irised open, and waved to the Admiral and her brother before diving into it, followed by the Droid.

The light cargo ship Evanescent Star rolled away from the ship. thrusters slamming it onto course. It went into hyper almost immediately. A moment later, a message torpedo dropped out, and began broadcasting.

“Priority message to Padawan Solo from Master Sookor. Solo is to await arrival of Jedi delegation. Under no circumstances is she to proceed to Delta 4 without support.”

Char Ell
04-22-2006, 04:23 PM
This is a fast-paced story so far with lots of action and not a whole lot of downtime. Very enjoyable. Looking forward to reading how Breia Solo handles the challenges ahead.

machievelli
04-22-2006, 06:45 PM
The Sacrifice

It all came down to simple chance and geometry. If Breia had waited three minutes, she would have been contacted and waited for the arrival of her fellows. If Corellia had been half a light year close to Delta 4, she would not have arrived first.

*****
The Evanescent Star came out of hyper space, running in toward Station Delta 4. Breia stood behind the captain as the ship raced toward it’s destination.

“My thanks, Captain Condon.” She said.

“You’re very welcome, Padawan. We picked up a good contract on Taris thanks to some of you. The company likes to pay it’s debts.”

“Then fare and trade well, Captain.” She watched as the ship slid up to the docking ring, the hatch mating with the entry.

It took only a moment to clear customs. Her robe identified her as a Jedi Monk and the Duros customs officer waved her through. She walked to the lift, stepping in. “Main Control central.” She said. The lift beeped at her, and she hurtled down ward. Behind her A4 committed a minor droid blasphemy, then tapped the control for a service lift.

Breia felt a dread that had nothing to do with the station. Something dark was out there, and she could feel it’s hunger. The door opened and she walked out, stopping at the security kiosk.

“I am Padawan Breia Solo. I must speak to the station commander immediately.”

“One of them Jedi.” She couldn’t see the man’s face, but could fee the contempt. “The commander won’t want to see you.”

Breia reached out, and pictured her hand closing on the man’s throat. She had heard of but never done a force grip before. The man clutched his throat, falling against the door. Breia leaned forward, her grip tightening on his neck.

“If you don’t let me in this instant everyone on this station will die. Now open the damn door!”

The man pawed upward, finally hitting the admittance button. Breia dropped him, stalking through the door. She paused, then swept her leg up sharply, catching the man in the face as he charged after her, drawing his sidearm.

“What the hell is going on here?” Someone shouted. Breia spun like a breech-block slamming into place. The man was short and fat, a butterball rather than a human being. She walked over, bowing slightly.

“I am Padawan Solo of the Jedi. There is an emergency, and you must assist me or the station will be destroyed.”

“Threats-”

“It is not me you have to fear you fool!” She roared. “Someone has planted canisters of gas that will drive everyone here mad! We have to stop them now!”

“You’re crazy.” The man snapped.

“Yeah, I’m getting a lot of that.” She said. “I need to see all of your records, and shipments of gas, either Bidraxidine or some other gas in the same kind of canisters.” He looked at her warily. “That wasn’t a request, Commander.”

It took only minutes. Fifty canisters of Bidraxidine had been delivered, and were in storage hold seven near the hull. Breia first ordered that the air filtration system be shut down from that location. Then she hurried across the station.

The tanks were standard 400 liter units. Each enough to fill a pebble reactor or a fusion plant. She looked around, seeing the work crew shifting cargo. “Clear this room.”

“Who the-” She drew cleanly, the metal blade she carried slicing the corner off a crate.

“Clear. This. Room. Now!” The men ran. She reached out with the force, slamming the door. Carefully she walked over to the canisters, a sensor in hand. There was no trace of Bidraxidine in the air. The only time there should be leakage was when someone filled a reactor vessel, or if one had been breached. Nothing had happened yet.

So, they deliver the gas as normal. Something causes it to release, and then what? She inspected the canisters. Nothing to the untrained eye. She closed her eyes, looking for-


The timer was to her right about four meters on the outside tank. All of them were in series so one after another they would vent. In that first tank was a bomb. Not a big one, merely large enough to shatter all of the tanks when the aneroid barometer installed told it that all of them were empty. She turned even as the timer reached zero.

The click was anticlimactic. Her sensitive hearing could hear the gas venting. Not a large leak, it would take half an hour to vent just the one tank.

She leaped to the tank, looking for the valve that would shut it off. There was none. The next tank in line had one though, and she slammed it closed. The one tank would be all they had to deal with.

There was a slight smell in the air. She knew Bidraxidine was odorless and colorless. But this isn’t Bidraxidine she told herself. It’s something that drives people mad. So mad that they turned on each other. She drew her sword, and cut at the straps that linked the tanks together. The metal resisted, and she sheathed it, drawing her vibroblade. She thumbed it on, setting it for metal, then sliced through the straps. The tank weighed ten times what she did, and there was no time to find a lift or jack. She bent, putting her hands under the tank. It is a feather, it is so light you have to be careful how you pick it up. She lifted in one massive spasm, falling backwards as the ton and a half tank flipped across the compartment. She fell, sprawling. She leaped to her feet, running toward the door. Vent the compartment into space. It’s the only way-

There was a thud, and the tank shredded. She dove as shrapnel flew past her. There was an arcing sound in front of her, and she stared aghast at the control she needed. Without it, the only way to vent the compartment was by blowing the cargo hatch. That would also destroy the evidence.

She was already dosed, she knew that. If they opened the hatch the gas would seep into the station, and everyone would go mad.

If they let me out without checking, without quarantine I will become a monster. I cannot let that happen.

She didn’t think, she reacted. She drew her sword, finding a stack of steel ingots ten meters long. She thrust into it, and when the blade was two thirds of the way in she snapped her wrist. The blade shattered, a small fragment slicing open her hand, but she ignored it. She drew the vibroblade. Ten years of her life, years of working out exactly how it would work. She didn’t even know if she could repeat it.

She flicked it on, thrusting into the metal. She flicked it off, and leaned with all of her strength, feeling the metal sheer. The pommel hung from her hand. She cast it aside, going to the communicator panel.

“Commander, emergency. Have all compartments check for Bidraxidine leakage. If any rooms show signs of it immediately quarantine them.”

“We’ll get you out of there-”

“No! Under no circumstances open the door to this compartment without full haz-mat support! Everyone will die if you do!”

“Listen lady-”

There was a sound. Breia didn’t even know what it was.

Then like a tidal wave madness struck.

*****

The Jedi courier Kreekta burst out of hyper. Sanji leaned back, tapping the com panel. “Delta 4 station this is Jedi courier Kreekta on approach. I need to talk to your station commander immediately-”

“You damn Jedi! That lunatic is tearing up my cargo bay!” Someone screamed back.”

“Explain, quickly.”

“Some woman showed up, choked one of my guards with some kind of magic, cleared a docking bay crew, and then went mad! She threw a ton and a half tank across the compartment, then she went bug-nuts right in the middle of a conversation!!”

“I will be there in a few minutes. Under no circumstances are you to open that compartment!”

If whatever was in those tanks is causing this I wouldn’t open it if you paid me!”

The courier docked in bay one, and Sanji charged out, gasping as he ran. Yodai bounded along beside him like a demented teddy bear, using not only the decks but the bulkheads in his efforts to keep up. They charged into a lift, and Yodai shouted, “Main Control!” as Sanji collapsed, clutching his chest. Yodai knelt beside him. “Master, slow you must take it.”

“No.” Sanji wheezed, eyes tight with pain. “There is no time. No time.” He staggered to his feet as the door snapped open. He stormed down the hall toward the Security kiosk.

The guard leaped to his feet. “You can’t-” Sanji made a flicking motion with his hand, and the man slammed into the bulkhead, collapsing in a boneless heap.

The Main control room was a mad house. A fat man at one control spun around. “What are you Jedi doing to me!” He screamed.

“Please report.” Sanji said.

“Like I told you. The crazy woman sealed the door, told us to watch for Bidraxidine leakage!”

“Is there any?”

“None reported so far. We don’t scan for chemicals that aren’t potential dangers. We had to recalibrate.” He spun back to the screen. One compartment marked CARGO 7 was a lurid red. “There’s a lot of Bidraxidine in that room. The tank that blew must have vented into it. So far-” Another compartment beside it turned pink. “Wait-”

“Seal that compartment as well.”

“But-”

“Seal it!” Sanji shouted. The supervisor growled, and flicked a switch. Like a warship, stations were able to seal compartments separately. For the same reasons, possible pirates and mutiny.

“There are five people in that room.”

“Until this is clear they are not safe.”

“Safe? What kind of-” There was a sound, the tone the intercom made when it started an all hands bulletin. The room they had just sealed suddenly strobed red.
“What is that?”

“Weapons discharge!” The supervisor flipped a switch.

It looked like an asylum with no security. A Rodian was screaming wordlessly, his pistol blasting shot after shot. Two of the others were down. The other two were trying to strangle each other. The Rodian stepped up, firing into the pair until they slumped in death. Yet his finger kept squeezing the trigger. He spun, slamming the gun into the room control, trying to open the door.

“What is this?”

“Some kind of psychoactive gas obviously.” Sanji replied. “Yodai, get with the station damage control team. We need to find a way to vent any contaminated compartments without killing the occupants.”

“At once. The little Jedi charged toward the door. The guard was just standing, and Yodai leaped up, catching him by the lapels. “Only Jedi had harmed you not I am. Want to make full deck?” The man moaned, leaning back. Yodai bounded off him and into the lift.

“Are the cameras still on in hold 7?”

“Yeah. Bring them up Toro.” The main screen lit. Breia was the only one in the compartment, and she was everywhere, leaping like Yodai had from place to place. She had ripped half of the lights down, every console in the room had been shattered. As they watched she picked up a crate, spinning to throw it against the hatch. She screamed, leaping to the hatch, pounding it. “I’ll kill you, kill you all!” She screamed over and over, beating her hands bloody. The all hand tone went off, and she covered her ears. “Stop it Stop it Stop it!” She picked up another crate, throwing it against the com panel. There was a shriek of electricity arcing, and the cameras went dead.

Sanji leaned back. “We have to remove that tone sound. It seems to make the situation worse.”

“No can do. It’s hardwired.” The Supervisor looked up. “On every station.”

“Wait. Every station? What about Coruscanti ones?”

”Buddy it’s standard equipment for every ship, station everywhere. For five years now.”

Sanji lat, his hands instinctively clutching his chest. “Five years.”

*****

The ship came out of hyper space, slowly approaching the fleet around Sigma 9. “This is Jedi Padawan Lang aboard Jedi courier 771. Request communication with Padawan Solo.”

“Jedi courier this is Fleet Communications. Padawan Solo left here four hours ago for station Delta 4.”

Lang’s eyes tightened. “We had sent a communication asking her to await our arrival.”

“We received it, but it arrived not long after she departed.”

“Thank you.” Lang leaned back, closing his eyes. He pictured Breia Sookor, her face, her manner of speaking. He felt a tenuous link to her, and sent down it dread, and urgency.

*****

“Breia!” Master Sookor sat bolt upright. Apprentice Amberdon flinched as she clawed his arm. “Drop out of Hyper. Reset our course for Delta 4!”

*****

Yodai growled as the team worked. A section of emergency pipe had been cut into the circulation system of Cargo 7, and attached to an air exchanger jerry rigged to it. Tanks waited for their deadly cargo, one already attached. The senior tech checked everything, then looked at the diminutive creature. “We’re ready.”

“Compartment we are is sealed must be. No chance of leakage if this fails.”

If you say so.” The tech tapped his com link. “Control, lock down compartment 7/a5/01. Jedi orders.”

“Understood. locking down now.” The blast door behind them slammed down.

“I hope you’re right that we need to do this.” The tech said. “If that gas leaks in here-”

“If leaks in here it does, none of us leave alive. Must of others think.” Yodai snapped.

“Tell me, Jedi.” The tech flipped on the pump. “Have you every thought of becoming a motivational speaker?”

“Why ask you?”

“Because I’m in the mood to eat my own gun just being around you.”

*****
Courier 771 dropped out of hyper space and right behind it like a shark came Millennium Falcon. They approached the station which was rapidly emptying as ships broke free to run. When each called they got a laconic “Great, a convention.” before Sanji spoke to them.

The ships docked, and more Jedi poured out. With them came the B9 droids, rolling on their tracks with an implacable speed. Four of them headed down to where the damage control team was almost finished venting Cargo 7. Two broke away to approach compartment 7/a1/01 where a Rodian was even now slamming again and again into the hatch.

“Ready?” the senior tech at the second compartment asked.

Arms spread as the droid opened up. Each arm was rated at four and a half tons. “Ready.” The droid grated. The tech stepped back, sealing the blast door between him and the hatch. The hatch slapped open, and the Rodian saw the droids. He screamed, charging.

The first droid ducked to the side. As it did, the Rodian focused on it, turning. The second droid caught his arm, and gas shot into his face. The Rodian screamed, beating at it.

“Stun gas has no effect.” Sanji reported.

“I hate to do it.” Breia Sookor said. “Tell it to go to step 2.”

“Step two.” A voice came over the intercom. The droid slid out a stun rod, slapping the Rodian in the chest. His body spasmed, but still he fought. The droid reset the rod higher, and hit him again. This setting, powerful enough to knock a Hutt on his back did the trick. The Rodian collapsed unconscious. It began extruding poly-fiber plastic, wrapping the Rodian as if it were a spider wrapping a meal. As it clipped and heat sealed the material, the Rodian came awake. The fabic was rated at fifty tons, strong enough to hold a full grown Corellian Megateer. It creaked, but held.

“Subject secured.” The droid reported.

“Stand by to vent compartment.”

The second droid popped out an air mask, and after a few seconds, was able to slip in on the Rodian. “Ready.”

The two droids jolted as they merely vented the compartment into space. They waited patiently as the system began to refill the space.

“Subject stable.” The first droid reported.

“Transport to medical. Team is standing by.”

*****
She could see her hands smashing again and again into the hatch as if through a heat haze. The damn thing refused to open, and the things that had killed her master were getting away! She felt her throat, raw from screaming, but still she keened her fury and loss. I will kill every one of you! She screamed. I will rip out your hearts and feed them to you before you die!

The hatch suddenly lifted. There they were, squat tracked droids. Murderers! She leaped, and one of them moved back. She followed, wanting to rip it’s circuits out. Something caught her arm, and she spun, her hands closing on the metal arm. She focused, feeling the force flow into her and through her. The droid smoked, then burst as the electricity within it ran through tender circuits. Something caught her from behind and she spun in it’s grasp, both feet setting against the carapace. She caught the arms, feeling them shear away as she heaved with all of her strength. Nothing would stop her! She’d kill- A rod slapped out, and her body spasmed, then collapsed.

Jae Onasi
04-23-2006, 12:07 AM
I'm sticking with the idea Star Trek pioneered that one one term needs to be used. So it's crewmen, officers are called sir, etc. While a lot of feminists might complain, creating an entire different way of speaking because you don't want to offend one group is actually offensive to everyone else.

Meh. Men are men, women are women. It's OK to accept that sometimes we're different in ways besides the obvious anatomical aspects.
I'm less PC than I used to be 10 years ago, e.g. I think yeoman sounds much better than, say, 'yeoperson' or 'yeolady', which are just ungodly stupid-sounding. However, I do prefer Sir and Ma'am for officers since it's supposed to be a mark of respect to an individual. But it's your fic. :)

machievelli
04-23-2006, 01:56 AM
Meh. Men are men, women are women. It's OK to accept that sometimes we're different in ways besides the obvious anatomical aspects.
I'm less PC than I used to be 10 years ago, e.g. I think yeoman sounds much better than, say, 'yeoperson' or 'yeolady', which are just ungodly stupid-sounding. However, I do prefer Sir and Ma'am for officers since it's supposed to be a mark of respect to an individual. But it's your fic. :)


It's just that I have studied the military for over 40 years now. The modern military can be expressed in the comment made by the Commander of the Seal School in GI Jane. After a long diatribe about having to put up with the various programs the sexually intergrated military had to put up with he ends with commenting that if the shape of his cgiar offends her sensibilities, he'd put it out.

I never had more respect for a woman in a man's job as I did when she commented that it was the smell not the shape that bothered her.

The American Militaryis in transition. For the last 30 years a woman can and does routinely command men. For the last 20 a woman can enter the fields where promotions excell, combat arms. But most of those women don't complain about what they are called. They complain about sexual bias which blocks promotion.

Men have been the warriors with few exceptions since man became organized beyond the family unit. Women entering such a field should accept the strictures of it, not attempt to impose their view on it. Ma'am or Miss is a title for someone that is expected to work but not fight. It is not meant to be insulting to ladies when I call all officers 'sir'. It is to say that these women have accepted that stricture in their lives.

Jae Onasi
04-23-2006, 02:20 AM
My hubby's in the Army, so I get way more of a view of it than I ever wanted. :) Part of the problem with women not getting promoted isn't always sexual bias, though it can well be. Part of it's attitude. Sometimes they work so hard trying to prove themselves as good as men in the military that they develop a big chip on the shoulder and lose sight of what they should be doing, which is an excellent job. That's not to say that I don't appreciate the work my feminist forebears did to make it easier for me to do grad/professional school, and I know there's sexism out there. I can appreciate that people have to adapt to certain customs and paradigms instead of the other way around, though sometimes a paradigm shift is a good thing. I just don't like the language being 'hermaphroditized' for lack of a better term (and I know 'Sir' isn't that. :) )
Anyway, I'm catching up on your latest and am enjoying it so far. Heh, sometimes you write faster than I have a chance to keep up with.

machievelli
04-23-2006, 11:53 AM
THis one is going a lot faster than even I anticipated. It is also going a lor darker just to warn you all.

Jae, what we have in my version is a military that has gotten beyond the plumbing, but still hasn't goteen past political influences, that's all.

machievelli
04-23-2006, 12:12 PM
Resurrection

Blood chemistry normal. All traces are out of her system.

Keep her on the machine for another half an hour. We have to make sure that all byproducts are gone too. A loud raucous noise burned in her ears.

Damn! I liked that tone.

So did I. But until they find out how it affects the gas they have to make do.

Breia floated. The world was a warm and fuzzy area beyond her grasp. She knew she should be up and around. The enemy would be coming soon...

*****

Breia snapped upright, looking around frantically. The Noghri were here. Coming to kill me. I tried to kill them but something...

The room was a Spartan white. Nothing to catch her eye. Just a deep expanse of white and cream. She looked at the tubes stuck in her arm. She wanted to rip them out but she didn’t have the strength.

She heard a door hiss open, and laid down. When they came...

The door to her room hissed open. “Are you going to kill me?” The voice asked. Breia sat up. Master Sookor stood there, her eyeless face looking toward the bed.

“The Noghri-” Her voice was a hoarse whisper.

“Tell me what you think happened.”

Breia concentrated. The last few hours were a blur. “I had found the tank of gas, and it activated before I could disarm it. I sealed the valves so the other tanks wouldn’t vent, and I think I ripped the tank loose. Tell Master Dregar that using the force when lifting can hurt. I almost ruptured a disc.”

“I’ll tell him.”

“I contacted the station Commander, warned him that we had to use hazardous materials protocols. I was arguing with him when...” She looked puzzled. “I sensed Noghri. They were aboard the station. I knew they were coming. But I couldn’t find my sword. I tried to get out of the cargo bay...” He voiced petered out. Her hands were bandaged to twice their normal size. Her hands smashing again and again into the hatch. Some animal howling for blood in her ears. “Oh gods, what have I done?”

Master Sookor looked at her calmly. “You found the tank as you described. You threw a ton and a half over 20 meters, and halfway through a bulkhead. Master Dregar was suitably impressed. A pity, it broke the seal between the Cargo bay and a storage unit beside it. He was even more impressed when I showed him what you did to the two B9s sent to restrain you.”

“What?”

“The arms of a B9 police restraint droid,” The master stated pedantically, “Are rated at four and a half tons. You ripped one completely off a droid, and electrocuted the other. Those are fifty kilo-credit apiece, the military and polce on Coruscant will be irate with you about wrecking two of the prototypes.

“Anyway, When the gas was released, you broke your sword, smashed that vibroblade of yours before trying to contact the Commander. It’s a good thing you did.

“The gas was sensitive to sonic vibrations. The same sound used by every system in the Galaxy for an all hands announcement causes it to break down incrementally. The waste material causes a sudden surge in brain chemistry causing a massive paranoia level. Whatever you see as your worst enemy is suddenly there and trying to kill you. You seemed to think the droids were that enemy. You shorted out one as I said, and ripped an arm off another.

“The death toll here is fifteen. People trapped in compartments that had leakage.”

She suddenly was there. There they were, squat tracked droids. Murderers!

“Oh, gods. I failed.”

“Listen to me. There are seven thousand people on this station. Your actions saved all but fifteen.”

“Wait. You said the tank broke a seal between the Cargo bay and a storage unit beside it. Where were those people?”

“Do I really need to tell you?” Master Sookor replied gently.

“So I failed those people. I murdered-”

“Stop it.”

“Master, I-”

“I said shut the hell up and listen!” Master Sookor leaned forward. “Brie, the only one that had a chance of breaking free into the main areas was you. You could have flooded the entire station. But when you knew you were affected you instead broke the only weapons you had. Either one could have been used to cut your way to that phantom enemy. You stopped yourself. So instead of crying about fifteen unlucky people, thank those same gods that you put yourself through hell to save seven thousand.”

“The enemy ship?”

“Came and ran like hell with Padawan Lang snapping at her heels.” Master Sookor replied. “We IDed it as an old Corellian Balladeer class. We have enough data to find out who owns it. Every supply and warehouse station in the known systems are being notified, and every scanner is set to detect even the smallest trace of Bidraxidine. If detected the computers automatically seal the area until it is verified that there is no dangerous contamination.” She waved as the loud atonal burr sounded. “And we’ve replaced the all hands tone, as I think you might have noticed.”

“My swords. I broke my swords!”

“Girl, swords have souls, and they know when they have been abused.” The Master told her, falling back on her original religious training. “But if they are broken to save lives, they accept it.”

“Did they figure out what it was? I didn’t smash the rest of the tanks did I?”

“Not for lack of trying. You tried to rip loose the second tank to batter the hatch down with, but you only cut the one set of straps. Yes, we have a full forensic crew here. People from Coruscant, Ryloth, Nar Hutta, Corellia, Duros. We have everyone here working together for the first time since they formed the Galactic Trade Authority, and they want blood. As soon as you’re up your apprentice will fill you in.”

My Apprentice? When did I get an Apprentice?”

“When I assigned one. I always do when a Padawan Learner is made Padawan teacher.”
“I’m...”

“Yes. For four days now.”

“Wait a minute. I only arrived this morning!”

“That morning was four days ago.” She patted the girl’s hand. “And if you’re a good girl and eat your veggies, you can meet him in about an hour.

*****

Hospital food is always bland. Breia knew that, hated it the times she was sick or injured, but endured it. The vegetables had been boiled to limp death and she hated it. Her mother made the best steamed vegetable. Just like Father always cooks the meat so tender. She thought. It’s when you don’t have what you’re used to that it hurts the most.

The door hissed open, and a sight she had never expected to see came in. It was a male Ithorian dressed in Jedi robes.

“Greetings Padawan Teacher. I am Yaka. I have been assigned as your apprentice and pilot.”

“Wait, I pilot my own ship!”

The soft eyes wrinkled. “I am told that you tend to be... rough with small ships. I have a gentler touch.” His hands came up, and she smiled. The Ithorians were the most peaceful people in the Galaxy. They flew the way they gardened, with a deep and abiding respect.

“So you have been assigned to me?”

“Yes, Padawan.”

“Why?”

“You have a skill with electronics. I have shown some skill with them myself. It was believed that if you could teach me, then we separately, could teach new students.”

“How are you with a sword?”

The eyes grew troubled. “I am adept, though it pains me to use one.”

“I understand.” She slid her legs out from under the covers. She was a little unsteady, but that would pass. “Now where did they put my robes?”

“In the table beside your bed. I have brought your new sword.”

“Supposed to hand forge the thing myself.” She grumped. The clothes were right where he said they were. She stripped, ignoring him. After spending over ten years in the Monastery, she no longer noticed others either male or female when she was getting dressed.

“I was asked by Master Sookor to tell you that she will forgive that you have not made your own to use at this time. As long as you promise not to shatter this one as well.”

“With my luck so far I make no guarantees.” She replied. The belt went snug. She turned, and he held out the sheathed weapon. She drew it. The blade was a little shorter than the one she was used to, but the wavy edge bespoke the true Jedi smith. Like her own now gone weapon the back strap was sharpened for about 15 centimeters from the point. She had always liked the idea of cutting whichever way she swung. The balance a little farther forward than she like, but give her a few minutes with a tool bench, and that was solved.

“All right, you were supposed to brief me.”

“There is a meeting in ten minutes in the Station briefing room. You were asked to attend.”

“Then let’s be about it.” They walked down the passageway, then Breia stopped. There was such a wave of pain and sadness from the next room that she wanted to drop to her knees in agony. “Who is that?” She gasped, waving toward the door.

“Another affected survivor. A Rodian named Greitau. He went mad in a small compartment. He killed the other four occupants.”

She felt the gun in her hand, lifting it. Maro and Doshi were dead, she had shot them over and over. Doti and Blass weren’t paying attention to her. They were strangling each other, neither would let go until they were dead. Part of her mind rebelled. They are my friends, drinking companions! The gun writhed in her hand, blood spraying from holes in their flesh as she fired again and again. Then the gun stopped firing but her finger kept pulling the trigger.

She shook herself, then walked over, opening the door.

The Rodian was laying there, eyes staring at the opposite wall. She could sense that he knew they were there. He hoped they would simply do whatever medical things they needed to do and leave him in his misery.

She padded to the bed, then laid a gentle hand on his chest. He stiffened, then pulled away.

“Leave me, please.” He said in his own tongue.

“It wasn’t your fault.” She said softly.

“Go away.”

“Greitau son of Brooda, son of Femtor, a monster made you do this horrible thing. If you had not survived, he would have won.”

“Why?” He whispered. “Why did he do this to me? To Maro and Doshi? In what way were Doti and Blass an offense?”

“He didn’t not know them and would not care.” She leaned down, her lips brushing his cheek. “I saw what he did within my own mind as you did. I will hunt him down and make sure no other suffer as you did. I swear it.”

He turned, looking at her. “A Jedi promises death? Such is not your way.”

“Not usually. But there are some sins that can only be expiated with blood pain and death. The only way he lives is if he pleads for mercy. If not I will spill his black blood.”

“For your own pain.”

“No. My pain is incidental. For the pain of those few that have survived. For those who died. For those who went mad and watched themselves kill their friends and loves.”

The green hand rose, clutching hers. “For my friends, please.”

“I swear it.” She repeated.

“A Jedi promises to ease my pain.” He whispered. “Find this person, please.”

She patted his hand, then left the room.

*****

“Where the hell is-” The door opened and Breia walked in. “It’s about time, Padawan.” The man growled. His collar showed the points of the Coruscanti Navy.

“Forgive me. I was easing the suffering of the other survivor.” Breia retorted.

The man was nonplused by her reply. “Well we want to make sure there aren’t any more suffering.”

“I agree.” Breia moved around the compartment to sit beside the other Jedi. Masters Gretu and Sookor were on one tier, their subordinates on the tier below. Breia was motioned to sit beside Padawan Teacher Lang. Yaka moved down to sit with the others.

The meeting was heavy with brass. The Coruscanti and Corellians had sent full Admirals, Onasi from Corellia, and Regna Motha from Coruscant. The Twi-leki had sent Governor Vao of their colony on Rutia. The Duros had sent their chief of investigation Cashio. The Hutt had merely sent a senior Vice President of their trade guild.

“All right, Investigator Cashio and Chief Medical officer Halo of Corellia will give their report.”

Halo was a short plump woman with a slow drawling way of speaking. Breia tagged her as an inner city citizen from Coronet. “The chemical is a genius creation. The carrier molecule is Bidraxidine, which as you all know is made on Nar Shadaa by the Hutt Chemical Engineering Consortium.” She flashed the molecule on screen. “Whoever modified it was subtle and extremely precise. This is what we obtained from samples that survived thanks to Padawan Solo.”

The molecule was subtly different. It was four times the size of the standard Bidraxidine molecule, but in every way tested as Bidraxidine. segments of the molecule were highlighted.

“These segments of the molecule are stable unless affected by a single series of tones.” Above her head a speaker bleeped the tones. Breia tensed. She was in a room with all of the chief investigators. If she suddenly went mad again...

The threat passed, and she sighed. Lang looked at her with pity in his eyes. In the holotank, the molecule broke down. The segments that had broken away blinked, one red, one green, another yellow, one white, the last purple.

“Each of these affects a different species. The red affects humans, Green Twi-lek, Yellow Hutt, white Duros. But the Purple is the key.” The holo filled with the purple molecule. “This affects all insectoid species such as Ruurian Verpine and Sulishti Despite their different physiologies.”

“The chemical affects each of the races in the same manner. It causes the release of endorphins and overloads the sense. The person is thrust into the worst possible paranoid fantasy they can imagine. Something that can be rectified only by the most violent retribution.

“So perhaps this is something created by one of theses insects?” Governor Vao suggested.

“Or an enemy.” Master Sookor replied.

“But why release it among us?” Motha snarled.

“We have yet to determine where it was made. But Investigator Cashio has clues of where it came from.”

“The chemicals arrived from Nar Shadaa with loads of standard Bidraxidine gas. But the shipments were earmarked for specific locations upon arrival.” He brought up a star map. “They went to these station first. Coruscanti, Corellian, and Twi-lek. The next shipments went to these station, two Coruscanti, one Duros the other Corellian. The next shipments went to these, three Corellian one Hutt, one Coruscanti. The next shipments were sent to these. One Corellian, one Coruscanti, one Sulishti.

“We were unable to warn the Sulishti station in time.”

“How many casualties.”

Cashio was silent for a time. “The Sulishti travel in clan units, males females, eggs, nymphs-”

“A number, please.” Onasi said.

“One hundred seventy two thousand.”

Gods.” Someone whispered.

“Are they going to join us?”

“The Sulishti join no one. They are going to find who did this, and kill them. Anyone connected to it will be killed.”

“So we have the chemicals arriving at what location?”

“Coruscant. They were all consigned to the Czerka warehouse and shipped from there.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Motha snapped. Nal Hutta is the damn planet Nar Shadaa orbits. Star Map!” A navigational map flashed up. “Nal Hutta is over here in Galactic east south east. Ryloth is here toward Galactic south, Corellia and Duros here, and Coruscant here in the Core. Sulisht here off to Galactic North west. There is no place where all of them have an interest!”

“Yes there is.” Master Sookor said softly. She pointed just southwest of the core. “Fondor.”

Breia gasped. She remembered Landru. The short human stood there, listening. Breia had been trying to learn the Corellia Than pipe, a hellishly difficult instrument. She had been enthralled by Casa Meridian’s rendition of ‘Hawk Flight’ as a child which had been written for the Than pipe. A brisk rapidly changing melody that she had discovered couldn’t be duplicated by a neophyte. It was before her interests had extended into sound itself.

No, like this. He had walked over, holding out his hand. When she had merely looked at the young Padawan he had reached over plucking the tube from her hand. She had been stunned by his hubris. Personal belongings of other students were never touched without asking first. He had blown a slow riff as if to check the tune, then begun the measure of ‘Hawk Flight’ flipping through the melody as if he’d written it himself.

She had accepted the pipe back, partially angry, but at the same time enthralled.

Landru had been a Fondorian.

“Wait.” She stood, walking down to stand beside the hologram. “Computer, play the all hands tone that was standard.” It played. She noticed everyone relaxed at it. She had always been enthralled by that simple riff of notes. It caught your attention, lifted your heart. She could never understand why.

Suddenly she did. “Computer. Scan musical database. What music uses these notes as a varying theme?”

“‘Hawk Flight’ is the only piece of music where these note played the central theme.”

“Who wrote ‘Hawk Flight‘?”

“Zardan Landru of Fondor is credited for the original piece.”

She turned, looking at the suddenly horrified face of Master Sookor.

Hallucination
04-23-2006, 01:23 PM
Very interesting, but it's 'Nal Hutta', not 'Nar Hutta'. :)

machievelli
04-23-2006, 02:46 PM
A brief note before continuing:

When I wrote the scene where they are describing who is affected by this chemical, I needed an insect species to be badly affected. I picked the Vratix without bothering to read the entire entry. The Vratix in Luke Skywalker's time are the sole suppliers of Bacta. So obviously they haven't been discovered yet. Also they are not the xenophobic whack-jobs I was going on to portray. More importantly, considering what is going to happen in about three chapters, I could not use them.

So I createdanother race none of you would have heard of. The Sulishti.
So, yes, I make mistakes.

Char Ell
04-23-2006, 07:50 PM
So, yes, I make mistakes.As do we all. :) The need for editing and retcon would cease if we didn't.

This is one action-packed story. Looking forward to more chapters. Also you did a great job with explaining how the pseudo-Bidraxidine affected different species when it broke down from the sound of "all hands." I am very interested in finding out who engineered this chemical agent.

machievelli
04-24-2006, 01:09 PM
Hunt

Breia stormed into the quarters set aside for the Jedi contingent. She spun to face Master Sookor. “You knew.”

“Until you discovered the information I only assumed.” The master replied.

“You. Knew!”

She seemed to shrivel up before the younger woman’s eyes. Her hand reached out, blindly finding a chair arm, and she sat. “He was my student until he left.”

The shattered sword falling to the ground in a glittering heap. The disdain in his eyes. For a Jedi to break his sword was to cast aside all of their teachings. It was rare. So rare that Breia Sookor knew the angst her namesake had felt.

We helped them do it master. Helped an interplanetary consortium turn my home into a slag heap.

It is not as bad as you think-

No, it’s worse! Open pit mining! water pure when I was a child running foul with the waste from their machinery! The damn Kusberi supplied by the Sulishti will be there a millennia from now, still poisoning the land.

Areas once quiet and dark by night now lit by thousands of light standards! The town I was born in turned into a nest of thieves and whores that do nothing but service their workers!

He had turned on his heel, he’d pack his bags, and left without another word to anyone.

“In my heart, yes. I knew.” Breia Sookor looked up. “I failed. I didn’t know how badly until you discovered this.”

“Then why didn’t you tell them?” Breia demanded.

“Because if he did this, no matter how many helped, the people of Fondor as a whole did not help him. Do you want an entire planet’s population on your conscience? You have seen what the Sulishti do to their enemies.”

The Sulishti were the most xenophobic race known in the Galaxy. Few rare individuals had discovered ways to trade with them. They almost never dealt with other races unless they initiated the contact. Their home world was a hive of trillions living up to five kilometers below the surface to ten above it. They did not travel except for brief visits to a neighboring system, and the only base she had ever heard of was located in orbit of their home world. The only thing they hated more than contact with other species was someone stealing what they considered theirs.

Breia nodded numbly. She had been with this very master as an apprentice when the Sulishti had hit a base on Anision. Located tragically enough in that neighboring system. A Company had set up a mining station on the planet without notifying the Sulishti. They claimed the world, not knowing that it was the source of an edible grub highly prized by the Sulishti and the entire planet named as a preserve.

The Sulishti fleet had come in, hundreds of thousands of the insects dropping out of space with no warning. The Jedi had intervened at the request of the Company to retrieve their people. The Sulishti had merely ignored the entreaties. A team of Jedi led by Breia Sookor had slipped past the newly erected Sulishti blockade, hoping to find them.

What they had found was a series of pits excavated and filled with what had once been a small thriving Company base. The Sulishti had merely bulldozed what remained of the structures into pits, and buried them. Seventeen thousand people, men women and children ripped apart alive had been buried with it as if they were also scrap.

Breia was glad her imagination wasn‘t up to visualizing an entire planet that had been treated that way. “So what are we going to do?”

“First we must investigate Nar Shadaa. Find out if there are any more shipments of this hell gas. Someone must also check Coruscant to try to catch any that has already been shipped. Then...” Breia Sookor looked down at her hands. “We must find Landru. He is the key to the puzzle. He was a talented chemist as well as musician. I believe he must have made it. The use of music, his own music to activate it points directly to him. But he couldn‘t have done it alone.”

Breia Solo nodded. “Where do you wish me to go?”

“Coruscant. Transport Lang with you so he can pick up his own ship Honor Blade. He will go on to Nar Shadaa. You will go to the warehouse and find if any of this gas is there, or where any more might have been sent. Sanji will go to Coruscant and try to pick up the trail of this Balladeer as well.”

“And you?”

“If this is a problem of our making, it is a problem we must deal with. I am going to Fondor.”

Breia Solo felt a chill of warning. “Let me go in your stead.”

“No.” Master Sookor looked at her. “Please do as you are bid.”

“As you will, Master.”

Breia Sookor watched the girl leave. She sat deep in thought until Apprentice Amberdon came to get her.

*****

The small ship looked as if it was already in flight at hyper speed. It was a smooth shining arrowhead with a series of clearsteel ports. “She is a beauty.” Breia whispered. She walked under the needle nose, reaching up to touch it. “What is her name?”

“She doesn’t have one yet.” Lang replied. “She was built by your father’s company as a courier. Twin forward firing chain guns, four proton missiles in the weapons bay two message torpedoes. Carries a crew of three in comfort or four if you’re very friendly.” Lang reached up and stroked the metal. “He had an Echani company design her. When Master Sookor told him you were to become a Padawan teacher, he gave it to us for your use.”

Breia looked at him. “Father has to stop giving away ships. This is what, seven so far?”

“To the Order yes. Try fifteen if you count Corellian and Coruscanti factors that can help with business. All tax deductible.”

“They would be if Mother had any say.” She stroked the metal, then guiltily pulled back her hand. “What did you call her when you were flying her here?”

“The last three numbers of her registry number. 771.”

“Well we needs something better than that. Hawk Flight. My favorite music.”

Lang looked away so she wouldn’t see the worry. He’d heard Hawk Flight when it had been part of a play about an Echani warrior of the early days. He had stood alone against a hundred Lortu during the wars when they attacked his village. His stand had been recorded.

On his tombstone.

There was a clicking, and Breia turned. A4 was standing there. If it had been human, she would have been sure he would have arms crossed, toe tapping, and an irritated expression on it’s face.

“A4, it’s good to see you.”

“You might have considered your companions before you ran off in every direction simultaneously at Hyper speed.” A4 replied. “I might have been able to help you.”

“A4, from what I have been told, if you had been with me in the cargo bay, they would be recycling what was left.”

“Yes. After hearing what you did to the B9s, I must admit I am glad I was not with you. The one that can be repaired is still shocked by your ripping his arm off.”

“You can talk with a B9?”

“Pretty much all droids made by the same company can communicate. Unless there are specific strictures. The B9 is based on the L7 made on Corellia so there is a window for communication.”

“Well get aboard then. We have to go.”

“Remember what I said? Three in comfort, four if you’re very friendly. Five is going to be a pain.”

“Master Lang, I will stay in the cargo hold and try to keep my own discomfort to a minimum.”

Lang looked calmly at the droid. “I wasn’t worried about your comfort.”

“No one is.”
*****

The three ships lifted, moving into formation.

“You have your instructions?” Millennium Falcon transmitted.

“Transit to Corellia, get Lang’s ship. Transit from there to Coruscant.” Hawk Flight replied.

“Transit to Sulisht and try to keep the pins in.” Kreekta replied.

“If you find anything, contact each other immediately. Each of the governments involved except for the Sulishti has promised we can get additional message torpedoes from them.”

“Understood.”

“Master, what of the council?”

“You will communicate what has occurred to them when you arrive on Coruscant, Sanji.”

“Understood.”

“Let us be about it.”

The smallest and fastest ship spun on her wing, then raced from the system. The other ship arced into a different trajectory. There was a flash of light and both were gone.

Breia Sookor Bai Echana bid them goodbye. “Set course for Fondor, Amberdon.”

The Millennium Falcon spun on her axis, and was gone.

*****

Hawk Flight slowed, dropping to the tarmac near the Jedi Monastery. The ramp dropped, and Lang stepped out, followed by Shali. There was a grey ship sitting there. A purely Echani design, Breia could see the resemblance to her own ship. She walked down to stand beside the others as the cargo bay opened, and one of the remaining undamaged B9s rolled out.

“Are you sure you want to leave it with me?” Lang asked.

“Since I have to go to Coruscant, I can arrange to pick up another there.” She replied. “Master Sookor has the other undamaged one. Sanji has the one I... redesigned.“

“It has been interesting.”

“Yes.” When Lang had said close, he hadn’t been joking. There were only three bunks aboard the ship, and the Mess deck table would fit only that number at one time. They had spent the last day and a half in each other’s pockets literally. They had decided on a hot bunk situation. One person would find whatever bed happened to be empty to sleep in. Bad enough for four humans, but both Twi-lek and Ithorian pheromones were different enough to be disturbing if you weren’t used to them. Breia had gotten little sleep. Meals were also staggered, the two Padawan teachers ate with their own apprentices and did their own dishes. But the smell of meat disturbed Yaka especially when served the way Shali preferred it, blood rare. The smell of Pipalli used by Lang bothered Shali. Breia was used to it because her mother had introduced her to Echani cooking. She had gotten a book of Mando recipes, and Breia shuddered when she was told what went into a ‘proper’ Merdai stew. She didn’t mind a vegetarian diet, but she decided she had to teach her new student that vegetables aren’t always served raw.

On top of every other irritant with the droids crammed into the miniscule hold there wasn’t enough room to practice, and meditation with someone snoring (Shali had a high pitched almost musical snore) talking walking, grumbling (Lang had done a lot of that) was difficult.

“That was pretty good how you handled the droids. I saw the footage after watching it live. Tell me, how did you do that to a droid?”

She closed her eyes. “I visualized a lightning bolt, then I directed it through the electronics.”

“No. I understand how you did that one. I just can’t duplicate it. I meant the other.”

“Have you studied under Master Dregar?”

“No. One of his students teaches his class on Corellia.”

“What you do is forget about the mass of your target. Picture it as a feather, or a small cup, say. Each can be lifted easily.”

“But how did you rip it’s arm off?” Lang asked in an exasperated manner.

“By picturing it as an insect.”

He considered. “You know, I don’t think anyone ever came up with that idea before.”

“If I hadn’t been insane, I don‘t think I would have.” She replied. “I’m off to Coruscant.”

“Good luck. May the Force be with you.”

The simple farewell of the Order felt so right. Breia clasped his hand, then Shali’s. “May the Force watch over you both.” She turned, walking back up the ramp.

Lang walked over to Honor Blade, running his hand along the nose. “Did you miss us, old girl?” Then he looked at his Apprentice. “Best speed to Nar Shadaa.”

*****

Breia watched as Yaka took the ship up. He did have a smooth and gentle touch. The ship seemed to purr as he rocketed up, spinning to bring it on the vector to Coruscant. The transition to Hyper was so gentle she almost didn’t notice it. After some pilots, it was refreshing.

“That is it until we arrive on Coruscant in-” his eyes flicked to the nav computer “29.8 hours.”

“Good. First we practice. Then we meditate, then I for one am going to sleep in a bed I don’t have to share.”

“Master, we still have the two droids in the cargo hold. There isn’t a lot of room.”

“As Master Sookor taught me years ago, A warrior can learn to control his weapon and himself. All else is determined by luck. Come on.”

He set the autopilot, and followed. Breia opened the storage cabinet, taking out the dulled practice blades. While dull compared to say a kitchen chopping knife or their own weapons, they were sharp enough to injure. They were not the standard weights of a Monastery, but suited to the blades they carried. Yaka’s was a little heavier than Breia’s and she noted that as she handed it over.

“All right. Now, let’s see your form. Wheel.” Yaka spun the blade in a whirling pattern before him. A defensive pattern that would block most attacks, and would block all with movement of his torso and legs.

“Octagon wheel first stance.” He stopped the blade, holding it upright before him. Called an octagon because the blade could instantly move to any point to protect him.

“Advance.” The sword dropped to a middle guard, his feet shuffled forward smoothly.

“You have the basics.” She slid into the same stance facing him. “But I sense disquiet.”

Yaka lowered the blade a touch. “My people think me mad that I have learned something so destructive. I have doubted the senses that drew me into the order.”

“I know the feeling.” She reached out, taking the weapon from him. “Yaka, we need to talk.” She put them away, leading him into the mess deck. She drew a cup of Ithorian Wide Leaf tea for him, pouring herself a cup of the Echani fire tea her mother had introduced her to years before. She sat, facing her student.

“Yaka, in the forest, you sometimes have trees that are rotted in only one place. Do your people leave them to die of it?”

“Of course not!” His look was shocked. “We cleanse the rot, and seal the wound so the tree will grow strong.”

“And if you have a crop that is blighted-”

“I know where you are going.” Yaka interrupted softly. “It is just not our way to consider any life especially sentient life as something you can prune or clip. There are beings I have met that would kill without compunction. Something my people could never understand. But I do not like ending their lives. I can fight with a weapon. I just... Am not comfortable with it.”

“Do you think any of the order like killing?” She asked gently. “As much as there are evil ones among us, on the whole our species does not kill.”

“You eat meat.”

“Yaka, humans are descended from omnivores. Our race learned to eat anything if necessary to survive. The Twi-lek and the Hutt are descended from Carnivores. The Duros eat moss and fungus. Your own people are herbivores. It is in our natures to eat what we do.”

“But you raise animals for the sole reason that they are food.”

“We do that. So does every race that has meat as part of their diet. But have you considered the alternative? On my home world there was a clan that foreswore all animal products. They ate no meat, they drank no milk, no eggs, nothing that came from an animal. But they caused thousands of them to die anyway.”

“Why?” Yaka’s eyes were horrified.

“Because since they didn‘t use them, didn’t feel selling them was right, they wouldn’t send them somewhere to be eaten. They freed the animals they once ate, but man had engineered them to be placid, and predators killed a lot of them. Others starved because they had to save all of the grain they had once fed them for themselves, so they drove them away no matter how often they returned.

“Plus there are pests that ate their food and they had to kill them. They were no better in their way than those of us that do eat meat. Humans are not like Ithorians. We cannot simply produce pheromones that drive pests away. We did not have the skill to make artificial ones, or engineer our plants to fend for themselves.

“The Ithorians can, and did. I honestly wish every race could have your reverence for life, but until they do, there will be rogues that kill others because they can, or want something, or whatever reason they give for it. That is why we are here. To save some of those light of life and the Force from being ended.”

Yaka looked down. “I understand your words here.” He touched the long trunk like neck. “But not here.” He touched his lower abdomen where his race kept their heart.

“Yaka. I know it will shock you. But I have killed. It’s not something I am proud of. I am more proud that when I had the chance, I destroyed my sword rather than hold it when I was insane. But the times I killed I wasn’t given a choice. I did what had to be done like the Ithorian farmer burning a blighted crop. It is something I have nightmares about sometimes. I wish that in each case I had been given a choice to make. If I had, those people, as evil or misguided as they were, would be alive today.”

She patted him on the hand. “No practice on this trip. But when we reach Coruscant...”

“Yes, Master.”

Jae Onasi
04-24-2006, 03:37 PM
All right, sixteen hits and nothing? Is it really that bad?
:lol: Some of us have other responsibilities to attend to before we can take the time to read it through entirely and express appreciation in a complete way beyond a simple 'good job' (which is fine, but I do like to offer a little bit more that that....) I had an attack of Life and some projects last week so I didn't get a chance to do more than skim the forum, make a few comments, and get a couple chapters of mine out of my head before it drove me completely crazy. :D

So, now that I've had the chance to read through this properly and give it the attention it so fully deserves, I have to say I'm thoroughly enjoying it. A4 telling Breia Solo 'I am not a toaster,' was hilarious. I'm still chuckling about it several chapters later.

I only had a few very minor problems when reading it. I'm aware that it's a draft so I'm not getting too picky about the piddly details.
Nar Shaddaa has 2 d's.
Comma usage--most of us use too many or use them in the wrong place. You use them in the right place, but sometimes not often enough. There were a few times where I went 'huh?', re-read it, mentally added commas, and then thought 'oh, OK, that's what he meant.' This caught my eye only a few times in the entire piece to date, so it's not a huge deal.
You've added enough characters into the story that in this last chapter, I forgot who was going in what ship, except Hawk's Flight. It's not a problem of too many characters, it just was a problem of not re-stating who was where. I could have gone back to re-read and figure it out, but I didn't feel like working that hard today. :)
This may be my personal thing because I like a lot of sensory description of places and people--sometimes you may need to add just a little more for us to get the full impact. You don't do a bad job by any many means, and this last chapter was very good in that respect. I just know you have the ability to take it from an A- or A to an A+ without adding too much more.

The things I liked were many. The action sequences were good. Finding out that it was the people on the stations who went nuts and killed themselves was an interesting twist.
The science of the chemical was interesting and believable and probably not over-technical for the non-science people. However, I've had so much science now that my perspective on what I think people should know and what their knowledge base really is is likely to be 2 different things. Since I've had organic chem, biochem, physiology, and pharmacology, I found myself thinking about this more than most might, but it worked for me and believe me, if it didn't, I'd let you know, since science inaccuracies drive me nuts.

Totally off tangent:
I was thinking of PMing and letting you know I'd be happy to provide tech advice on medical stuff when I realized I'd be happy to do that for anyone here on the forum (within constraints of time).
I'm also wondering if a thread/sticky for people willing to offer tech advice on their area of expertise so we could pick their brains now and then would be useful--I know I could have used some advice on security awhile back. :)

Back on track:
I like seeing different cultures' descriptions, and so hearing about different species' development was cool for me. I'm intrigued by the Sulishti and by Landru having fallen to the dark side. I was fascinated by the idea that Jedi of this time would use force powers considered part of the 'dark side' and not be particularly bothered by that. Your humor bits are really funny and keep me laughing for quite some time. I like A4's sassy attitude.

And of course I'm looking forward to reading more. :D

machievelli
04-24-2006, 05:33 PM
lol: Some of us have other responsibilities to attend to before we can take the time to read it through entirely and express appreciation in a complete way beyond a simple 'good job' (which is fine, but I do like to offer a little bit more that that....) I had an attack of Life and some projects last week so I didn't get a chance to do more than skim the forum, make a few comments, and get a couple chapters of mine out of my head before it drove me completely crazy. :D [/QUOTE]

I know what you mean. It's just that I put it up and no one had said squat! I wondered, did I do it wrong? Thank you. I have attacks of life a lot too. Nack in Novemeber our car was stolen and we're still 5,000 in the hole from what we had to put out trying to get a new car on short notice etc.

:
So, now that I've had the chance to read through this properly and give it the attention it so fully deserves, I have to say I'm thoroughly enjoying it. A4 telling Breia Solo 'I am not a toaster,' was hilarious. I'm still chuckling about it several chapters later.

I only had a few very minor problems when reading it. I'm aware that it's a draft so I'm not getting too picky about the piddly details.
Nar Shaddaa has 2 d's.
Comma usage--most of us use too many or use them in the wrong place. You use them in the right place, but sometimes not often enough. There were a few times where I went 'huh?', re-read it, mentally added commas, and then thought 'oh, OK, that's what he meant.' This caught my eye only a few times in the entire piece to date, so it's not a huge deal.

Mea culpa. I'll fix it.

You've added enough characters into the story that in this last chapter, I forgot who was going in what ship, except Hawk's Flight. It's not a problem of too many characters, it just was a problem of not re-stating who was where. I could have gone back to re-read and figure it out, but I didn't feel like working that hard today. :)

How do you think I feel? I had two Breias simultaneously and had to come up with a quick fix so people would tell them apart. I will go back to that segment, and clean it up. Promise.


:
This may be my personal thing because I like a lot of sensory description of places and people--sometimes you may need to add just a little more for us to get the full impact. You don't do a bad job by any many means, and this last chapter was very good in that respect. I just know you have the ability to take it from an A- or A to an A+ without adding too much more.

I will do what I can.

:The things I liked were many. The action sequences were good. Finding out that it was the people on the stations who went nuts and killed themselves was an interesting twist.
The science of the chemical was interesting and believable and probably not over-technical for the non-science people. However, I've had so much science now that my perspective on what I think people should know and what their knowledge base really is is likely to be 2 different things. Since I've had organic chem, biochem, physiology, and pharmacology, I found myself thinking about this more than most might, but it worked for me and believe me, if it didn't, I'd let you know, since science inaccuracies drive me nuts.

I have zip training in any of those skills. I created the idea originally using just the one gas, but then figured that there would have been an accident already at least once. I know how you feel about science inaccuracies; I feel the same way about not only scientific ones, but about military ones as well.

:Totally off tangent:
I was thinking of PMing and letting you know I'd be happy to provide tech advice on medical stuff when I realized I'd be happy to do that for anyone here on the forum (within constraints of time).
I'm also wondering if a thread/sticky for people willing to offer tech advice on their area of expertise so we could pick their brains now and then would be useful--I know I could have used some advice on security awhile back. :)


I think it's a great idea! I think I should start with a lot of the writers who are actually selling. Some are great, but when you have someone talk about the 'brigade' of 200 men I think of the bloody IRA. Or using the wrong caliber ammunition in an Uzi. That kind of thing.

Suggest it to Stingerzh or Darth333. I know a lot of people here would enjoy the help. Being a techno-gek, I have both the vehicle and weapons books from Star Wars and the Enqyclopedia and New Essential Chronology. Always ready to help.

:
Back on track:
I like seeing different cultures' descriptions, and so hearing about different species' development was cool for me. I'm intrigued by the Sulishti and by Landru having fallen to the dark side. I was fascinated by the idea that Jedi of this time would use force powers considered part of the 'dark side' and not be particularly bothered by that. Your humor bits are really funny and keep me laughing for quite some time. I like A4's sassy attitude.

How much do you remember of Religious history? In the 12th century if you claimed a witch could do magic, the chruch declared you a heretic. In the 13th, they declared you a heretic if you said a witch could not. In the 19th they told you you were taking something illegal, and in the 20th they are back to Witches are servants of the devil again.

What is considered right and proper depends, as Obi Wan said, on your point of view.

:
And of course I'm looking forward to reading more. :D

Thank you.I will try to prove worthy.

Char Ell
04-25-2006, 10:00 AM
An interesting dialog between Breia Solo and her newly assigned Padawan Learner, Yaka. We'll have to see if Yaka can really resort to the sword when the situation calls for it.

A little less action in this chapter. I'm not complaining, just noting. ;) And I really liked how you described the difficulties of all those different species on Hawk Flight living in such close proximity to each other. The differing pheromones as well as the cramped quarters formed a distinct image in my mind and the snoring added an element I could relate to even more. Nicely done on that one.

machievelli
04-25-2006, 10:33 AM
In my reply I mentioned zip training in biochemistry etc.

Did I mention I am a military historian and I know a lot about chemical warfare?

Jae Onasi
04-25-2006, 12:45 PM
In my reply I mentioned zip training in biochemistry etc.

Did I mention I am a military historian and I know a lot about chemical warfare?

I figured you knew something about military since you knew what caliber ammunition goes with what gun. I'm assuming your specialty is likely 20th c. wars then with chem warfare? If you know a lot of chem warfare, biochem's not too far away from your current knowledge.

I like social history better myself, but I've picked up some history of medicine and science (and dabbled in a few other areas) to go along with all the science I did before and during prof. school. I'd probably go back and finish a PhD in history if I were independently wealthy, just because I'm a school junkie. :) I was in college way, way too long.

I PMd stingerhs about doing a resource/tech advisor thread, and he's looking into that.

machievelli
04-25-2006, 03:35 PM
I figured you knew something about military since you knew what caliber ammunition goes with what gun. I'm assuming your specialty is likely 20th c. wars then with chem warfare? If you know a lot of chem warfare, biochem's not too far away from your current knowledge.
.

Actually, if there was a war since the Sumerians, I have studied someo of it, especially weapons and their designs. One thing that suddenly came to me was something everyone here might have missed...
1. The survivor from the last station was a Rodian. Rodians were not listed as being affected.
2. Do you know what a Binary toxin is?
3. I myself didn't think of it until afterward, but I have to have a for real target. Stay tuned for the chapter following the next post.

I like social history better myself, but I've picked up some history of medicine and science (and dabbled in a few other areas) to go along with all the science I did before and during prof. school. I'd probably go back and finish a PhD in history if I were independently wealthy, just because I'm a school junkie. :) I was in college way, way too long..

I have always agreed with the comment made by Robert A Heinlien in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress. You have to keep learning.

I PMd stingerhs about doing a resource/tech advisor thread, and he's looking into that.

Good! Now if only these kids will ask before they field a 2000 man 'squad!'

Jae Onasi
04-25-2006, 06:25 PM
Actually, if there was a war since the Sumerians, I have studied someo of it, especially weapons and their designs. One thing that suddenly came to me was something everyone here might have missed...
1. The survivor from the last station was a Rodian. Rodians were not listed as being affected.
2. Do you know what a Binary toxin is?
3. I myself didn't think of it until afterward, but I have to have a for real target. Stay tuned for the chapter following the next post.


1. You could always say that they're susceptible to psychotropic chemicals in a way that is similar to x species. So instead of one portion of the megamolecule affecting just Twi'leks, you could say it affects "Twi'leks and Rodians" also. I'm always up for the easiest solution. :)

2. Binary toxin--I didn't know what they were before I just read through some journal articles just now, though I knew there were different types of toxins. The article I linked here probably has one of the better descriptions of just which part of the cell is involved and which chemicals are affected but it's pretty technical. Binary Bacterial Toxins (http://mmbr.asm.org/cgi/content/full/68/3/373#BACTERIA:_A_RICH_SOURCE_OF_BINARY_TOXINS)

EDIT I'm going to try and explain it in Real People language. While I understand we scientist types need to use the correct terminology and I expect there to be a considerable number of "Big Words," we sure need to learn how to make scientific articles more readable and eschew obfuscation. :) Some of these articles are written with some really awkward sentence constructions. Sheesh.


(begin Toxins 101)
1. Basically, toxins are chemicals, usually proteins, that can do 1 of 2 things. 1. affect the tissues around specific cells so that the bacteria can spread farther in and 2. (more commonly) invade a specific type of cell and cause damage to it, causing it to die. The most common are hemotoxins and neurotoxins, but there are others, including the binary toxins as you asked about.

For lack of a better explanation at the moment, hemotoxins break open blood cells and/or damage the parts of blood that cause proper clotting. Without enough working blood cells, the tissues and body can't get enough oxygen. If you kill off enough red blood cells, there's not enough oxygen circulating for the body to survive. If the platelets (the clotting cells) don't work, the blood can't clot, and people can bleed to death from fairly small injuries.

Neurotoxins (and other cell-specific toxins) usually affect some specific part of the outside of the cell that changes what happens inside the cells. There are a lot of different parts that make up the outside of the cell, or cell membrane. It's not all uniform. If some of these parts of the cell membrane are damaged, the cell can die or stop functioning correctly. For instance, there are pores (or channels) in the cell membrane that let in calcium ions or sodium ions. These pores open and close to let in just the right amount of ions to do their job. A nerve cell has to have one amount of ions in order to stay at its resting state and another to actually 'fire', or send a signal. If you upset the balance of ions, the nerve cell will either not fire at all or will continue firing endlessly. Some neurotoxins make the ion pores stay stuck in the open position, and some will make the pores stay closed, and this makes the nerve not work correctly, and in some cases the toxin simply causes the nerve to die. If the nerves don't work correctly, nasty things start happening to the body.

Edit: For instance, if the nerve cell that makes a muscle contract can't fire, the muscle won't work and paralysis happens. If that same nerve cell is stuck constantly firing, then that muscle spasms and can't relax. If this happens, say, in the diaphragm, you can't breathe if either happens, because it has to both contract and relax in order for you to breathe.
Usually, toxins affect only one structure in a cell membrane.

Binary toxins work a little differently. The bacteria that produce binary toxins are producing two separate components to affect a cell, instead of one like the toxins above. The first component (which they call component B) attaches to the cell membranes. Once attached, it changes shape and creates a pore or channel through the membrane. The second component (called component A) attaches to the pore, goes through it, and then ends up inside the cell where it does its damage. Different binary toxins affect different structures or chemicals inside the cells.

The bacteria that produce binary toxins are nasty ones, like the botulism and anthrax germs.


Good! Now if only these kids will ask before they field a 2000 man 'squad!'

Hubby hated the idea of Jedi "Generals" leading small squads. "Generals don't lead squads! They lead divisions and armies!"

machievelli
04-25-2006, 06:35 PM
Clues

Sanji looked at the spreading lights of Coruscant. The city of the same name stretched for a hundred kilometers in every direction. The seat of several massive trade conglomerates. Home as well to the Galactic Trade Authority, which now had over a hundred members counting colonies. It was just about midnight down there.

Kreekta, a Twi-lek designed courier settled gently on the landing stage. Four Jedi awaited him. Masters Hobart and Soo-chin, and their Padawan.

Sanji picked up his staff. He hated that in that he had begun to parallel his old master. She was blind, and had a reason for it. Him? Lungs scarred because he had acted rather than thinking, tried to hold his breath instead of hyperventilating and allow it to gush into space. How man times had he been told that a simple automatic reflex had caused the bulk of his injuries?

Hobart stepped forward, offering his hand. “Welcome back Sanji.”

“Hobart. Is the council assembled?”

“Except for Master Hontu. He is getting crotchety in his old age.”

“Old! He was crotchety when I met him thirty years ago.”

Hobart shrugged. “For humans sixty is getting old. By the way, how is Master Sookor?”

“She is enroute to Fondor on the business we must discuss. She is like dried meat. Tough but still good at what she does.”

“Giving us trouble the young woman beside him snapped. Soo-chin was a repressed ball of energy, with fiery red hair and a temper to match. Sometimes like a heavy ball, would come down on someone’s feet and crush them. She was one of the only Jedi Sanji knew had been removed from field operations because she pushed too hard. She judge too quickly. However she was an excellent administrator and bluntly honest when young Jedi were considered for promotion which kept her busy in the Monastery.

The building was almost stark. The walls had nothing to tell anyone what was done in it. No murals of brave Jedi, no fleets smashing enemy strongholds. It could have been the entry way into any law office on the planet. But beyond the kiosk where young Jedi answered questions even at this time of night was the door to the Monastery proper.

Beyond that was wonder; a garden large enough to feed the people who worked here in an emergency, tended during the day by quiet gentle Ithorians. They had been brought from their home world and asked to work at what they did best, and the lush foliage bespoke beauty for it’s own sake. There were plants and trees from a hundred worlds here, all in neatly demarcated areas with tags to identify them. The smells caught Sanji’s heart with longing. Among them he could detect a Ryloth night bloom, and he wished to stay and drink it in, but there wasn’t time.

The inner courtyard was the council meeting place, and Sanji stood patiently as the masters gathered. When all twelve were there he began. He recounted the events that led to Breia Solo going to Station Sigma 9, the events that occurred on Delta 4, and finally the conclusions of the team assigned to stop more attacks.

“So Master Sookor decided this on her own?” Soo-chin demanded. “Without the council’s approval?”

“She sensed a danger to the young Padawan that bears her name.” Sanji replied. “She acted to deal with that.”

“Some dark foreshadowing?”

“Yes.” Sanji considered. “She also believes that her apprentice Zardan Landru is involved.”

“We have had Padawan and Apprentices leave the order before.” Hobart replied softly. “Why should this situation be linked to this one?”

“First, Landru was a world class chemical engineer. He could literally use the force to feel how a chemical can bond. If there are ten beings in the galaxy with as much skill I would have trouble finding them. Second, the music.”

“Hawk Flight.” Hontu mused. “Why is this linked to it?”

“The music cuts across species boundaries, affecting everyone who hears it. Always in the same way, as if a friend had called your name, attracting your attention. The music is linked to the force as we all know. It was what attracted the Jedi that recruited him for the order

“Five years ago, he was approached by the Czerka corporation, which had given the contract for communications on stations that have more than 10% population of other races. The royalties before he left funded the growth of our temple here. Now that he has left, it goes into his own accounts, but the amount is still several thousand credits a year.

“Not enough to buy a ship as you surmise. Or purchase a factory to manufacture or fund a laboratory to develop this.” Hobart commented

“We do not think he is working alone. Someone must be supplying the money. Someone is supplying the ship and resources, and using him to create this. But he would not be doing this unwillingly. I believe...” He paused. “I believe he has fallen.”

The council recoiled. It was the darkest secret the Order held. Some of their students seemed to go off on a dangerous tangent as they reached adulthood. Personal animosities, emotional outbursts, even racial hatreds seemed to fuel it.

Yet they had been incredibly lucky. In the millennia since the first Monastery had been founded only six were known to have fallen. The last had caused a lot of grief, but it had always been contained to a single planet or star system before Sogor.

Not this time.

“What do you need?”

“Your grace your blessing and your support.” Sanji replied.

“Nothing else?”” Soo-chin waved at the other masters. “There are fourteen masters and thirty trained Padawan here. All you ask is a blind eye?”

“I expect nothing of the sort.” Sanji bit out. “There are eight of us assigned to track this down by Master Sookor already. Too many and those beyond our order will wonder why we have suddenly become a beehive of activity. If that occurs, some will wonder what secrets we hide. There are already those that seem to think we store our worldly good within our walls.”

They nodded. People trying to infiltrate the Monasteries were easy to spot. Reporters, Government operatives, even thieves. Some of those had been nasty. A criminal gang on Corellia had thought the local monastery a storehouse of wealth. A smash and grab operation had been planned, weapons bought, then they had attacked in the dead of night. Ten men had gone in, four had come out alive. The police had picked up the bodies, parts of bodies and the stunned survivors. None of the students had been even injured.

They couldn’t tell those caught, but it was like watching a baby animal trying to hide it’s head while it’s bottom still stuck out in plain view. When the Force was your ally a lot of what people thought was hidden was revealed. A few over the decades had succeeded. They usually ended up joining the order.

“Then what would you have us do?” Hontu asked.

“I ask that all of the Monasteries be informed of what is going on. Perhaps some clues can be ascertained by those that investigate their local conditions.

“That if we do need help, they know the council has authorized it. We will not have time to go through the usual meeting and agreement process very often as we are now.”

The masters looked at each other. Hontu looked back at him. “Agreed, Master Gretu.”

He bowed. He marched out into the night, returning to his ship.

“Master?” Padawan Rafe Morale looked back.

“Hop us over to the Military field. I have the report from the joint meeting. Then? Commercial registry. We have a long night ahead of us.”

*****

Breia stretched, yawning. The first time she had gotten a real rest since she had left for Delta 4 Station. There was a smell in the air, and she cocked her head, puzzled. It smelled like-

“Yaka, no!” She leaped up, charging forward. There were clouds of smoke from the galley, and at the stove, Yaka was beating futilely at a burning pan.

Breia snatched up a lid, slamming it down on the conflagration. She coughed, choking as the air circulation system busily sucked up the fumes and smoke.

“What in the name of every hell were you doing?”

“I was trying to make a breakfast for you. Your file said you like pancakes, and the recipe looked simple, and the cooking directions...” He petered out. “Well they looked simple as well.”

Yaka looked distraught, and she could understand why. Very few people can reduce a galley to a total disaster with one dish, but he had succeeded admirably. Worse the stench of burnt batter would linger for weeks!

“How much cooking have you done?” She asked tartly.

“Well...” He dug a toe into the deck. “This was my first time.”

“All right, I see if we’re going to travel for any real length of time you are going to have to learn.” She lifted the lid. The pan was a blackened mess, ans she slid it into the sanitizer. “Get me another frying pan, and a teapot for water.” She looked at the bowl he had mixed the batter in, and almost chuckled. He had made enough for about fifty pancakes. “Then while I am making these, find a storage container. We have enough batter for at least three more days here.”

She wiped down the stove so there would be no more stench (How did he get batter on all four elements?) and with the new pan, began to make her normal four pancakes. He watched carefully.

“Would you like to try one?”

“Is there any animal fat or meat in them?” He asked suspiciously.

“No.” She reached below the counter, getting out a spray bottle. “Those do. Nerf butter. But this,” she held up the bottle, “Is vegetable oil. When you make them from now on, use this. And don’t spray any on the burner elements.”

“I worked that out when I tried to use the oil to loosen a stuck pancake.” He replied dryly.

She lifted the pan, spraying it, then made another. He handed her the plate and she slid the golden brown circle onto it with an accomplished air.

“How do you do that so easily?” He waved and she noticed flakes of batter stuck to the overhead. (How did he scatter it so far?)

“My master...” She bit her lip, choking back her pain. “Master Werron was hopeless if it came to cooking. He could burn water.” She lifted the teapot, pouring liquid into the two cups. “So on long trips I had to learn how to cook in self defense.”

“You were with him a long time, obviously.”

“Yes.” She was silent. “I have been with the order for almost 20 years now. My first master was Master Sookor. She was a much better cook than I am. Then the last decade, I was with Master Werron.”

“I am sorry that the subject pains you.”

“It would have to. I got him killed.”

“I disagree.”

She set the tub of butter, another of margarine, and the four types of syrup she always carried. Lang may have been an ass in a lot of ways, but he had stocked the ship primarily with things she ate, so it wasn’t all bad. “What would you know about it?”

“When Master Sookor chose me as your new apprentice, I studied the missions you have undertaken. In all of them you have always reacted swiftly and surely.”

“Not on that mission.”

“Master, you did not expect an attack.” Yaka slipped a sliver of pancake into his mouth. His eyes widened. “Interesting.” The Ithorians had four throats, so he was able to chew and talk at the same time.

“Try some of the syrup.” She motioned. “The red is Corellian Calla berry. The orange is Coruscanti glow spice. The green...” She considered. “I would give it a miss unless you like very spicy food. It’s Fire spice syrup. Like my tea.” She held the cup and sipped. “The last is Ossus blue-stem.”

He poured a dollop of the blue syrup, daintily touching a sliver of cake into it before sticking it in his mouth.

“Yes, I like this.”

“Of course we didn’t expect an attack.” She retorted. “The Company had told us that the Noghri had been shipped in as workers. They didn’t bother to mention that they had taken them from four different tribes!”

Yaka tried the Calla berry. “This is also good. But when the attack came your only hesitation was what? Which weapon to draw. If you had carried either one or the other, that would not have been a problem.”

“That’s true. But I was like a kid with a new toy. ‘Look what this will do’!”

He poured a bit of the glow spice. After a moment of chewing, he commented, “This I think would become addictive to my people. I had best not try any more of the glow spice.” He hesitated, then touched a bare spot of the Fire spice on his plate. “Have you not heard masters comment on how their Padawan tend to do things they might not think about?”

“Yes. But I thought... I never thought I would do something so stupid!”

“Mistakes happen. Sometimes you have to live with them, sometimes you correct them, sometimes you die from them.” He dipped into the fire spice. The piece of pancake had barely touched his tongue when he leaped up and backwards, gasping.

Breia immediately reached the tap, poured a cup of water, and handed it to him. He chugged it down, all four throats gasping simultaneously After a fourth glass, he finally sat again.

“You actually like that?” He asked.

“Sometimes. When I’m in a really foul mood.” She poured the Fire Spice syrup on what was left, cutting and feeding a piece into her mouth, chewing contemplatively.

“You are either braver than I thought, stronger than I might have imagined. Or...”

“Or?” She asked.

“Possibly your entire race is insane.”

“We do have our moments.”

*****

The briefing took hours. Not because Sanji had that much information to pass, but because every time he reached new data yet another officer or specialist had to be called. Since it began several hours before dawn, this meant the military men would have to stop the briefing, call in say the Admiral in charge of Home fleet, await his arrival, probably grumpy from being awakened, then he would have to start again.

Every time it happened that new occupant would ask the same stupid questions, make the same important (To them) points, then it would begin again.

This time it was the Admiral in charge of procurement. Sanji asked for a brief recess, and stepped out, having some tea. He looked at the sky, at the horizon which had brightened into false dawn. So many people had died. He remembered that poor Rodian who had survived...

He paused, mind flashing back to the meeting

Each of these affects a different species. The red affects humans, Green Twi-lek, Yellow Hutt, white Duros. But the Purple is the key.
This affects all insectoid species such as Ruurian Verpine and Sulishti Despite their different physiologies.

There was no one molecule that affected Rodians!

*****

Breia went into the cargo bay. A4 was rumbling to itself in the corner. “Am I going to have to send you in to be lubricated?”

“Not for several months at least. I was merely cogitating on what was not said at the meeting you attended.”

“What?”

“Everyone was concentrating so much on who had survived and what the chemical might have done. But they ignored the fact that one of those affected, who survived, was Rodian.”

“What?”

“You supplied this copy of the transcript.” His speakers repeate the sound of that meeting with perfect fidelity.

“Each of these affects a different species. The red affects humans, Green Twi-lek, Yellow Hutt, white Duros. But the Purple is the key.

“This affects all insectoid species such as Ruurian Verpine and Sulishti Despite their different physiologies.”

“So wha...” She stopped. “Wait a minute, Rodians weren’t mentioned!”

“Correct That kept me occupied for several hours until I discovered this.” A small panel on his dorsal carapace flipped up, and a hologram flashed into view. “The molecules are as they are described, except they did not consider them in a binary situation. Each of the chemicals is released simultaneously in every being that had breathed the gas. But these two-” The ones for Twi-lek and Duros- “Combine to make this” Another molecule formed It was a mix of white and green parts in a smooth circle like a benzene ring. Some of both them had broken free, the additional atoms merely floating aside.

“This has the same affects on Rodians as the other gases affect other species.”

“That is great news!”

“I suggest you hold your applause. Doctor Halo didn’t follow through on her research once she discovered how the molecule broke up. If she had, she would have seen this.”

A flow of data came up. She looked at it confused. “What am I looking at?”

“Medical data base. I... borrowed it from the computer of Delta 4. This weapon molecule is almost exactly a mirror image of this one.” Another molecule appeared. IT rotated, then above it flashed the weapon’s molecule. They floated there, and she could instantly see that if they touched as they now did...

There was a melding, Nothing was knocked loose, both molecules locked together. ”The molecule I displayed is the equivalent in Sulishti for the adrenaline molecule in humans. It has the same affects. However this-” the new molecule flashed, “Is not absorbed and broken down by the tissues as adrenaline is. It will however bounce in and out, causing the same reaction over and over.”

“So you’re saying that if the Sulishti breath this-”

“Their aggressive tendencies will explode outward, first against anything not of their species, then against any not of their specific clan, then against any that work in different sectors meaning different parts of even the same ship, then finally any that remain.”

“So it is worse that the affect on say a human.”

“Greater than you can imagine. Because as this sets off the body’s receptor, more of the adrenaline analog will be pumped, causing greater aggression, causing more adrenaline, causing more aggression.”

“I am afraid-”

"On all of the other species we know can be affected, the gas is assimilated and broken down meaning it will wear off after a time measured in a few hours. This molecule will not break down or wear out as long as there is any adrenaline remaining. Worse, contact with one of these combined cells with the hypothalamus analog will cause it to release this instead. It is a permanent fixture.”

“You mean...” She stared at the new malignancy. “It will kill the entire Sulishti race?”

“And at the same time guarantee that a lot of peoples will die right along with them.”

machievelli
04-25-2006, 06:42 PM
With some gases, they are extremely dangerous to store, as the accidents in Utah back in the 60s shows.

To make it safe, the US government during the mid 60s began working on what is called a binary toxin. It is breaking the dangerous molecule into two inert (Or at least non toxic) molecules, with a binder that causes them to reform when combined. The weapon is loaded into a shell or bomb, and when it is fired or dripped the spinning of the shell (Or artificially induced spinning in a bomb) mixes it before release.

I read a book named Binary (They made a movie with Ben Gazzara back in the 70s, though i can't remember the name) where Stephen Lange (I think that was the author, not sure about his first name) waxed lyrical after someone stole about a ton of it.

Hallucination
04-25-2006, 07:46 PM
Another good chapter, but I have a little problem: Breia immediately reached the tap, poured a cup of water, and handed it to him.
When you eat something too spicy, water doesn't help. It's better to get some milk or bread. :)

Jae Onasi
04-25-2006, 11:21 PM
With some gases, they are extremely dangerous to store, as the accidents in Utah back in the 60s shows.

To make it safe, the US government during the mid 60s began working on what is called a binary toxin. It is breaking the dangerous molecule into two inert (Or at least non toxic) molecules, with a binder that causes them to reform when combined. The weapon is loaded into a shell or bomb, and when it is fired or dripped the spinning of the shell (Or artificially induced spinning in a bomb) mixes it before release.
.

There's lots of ways to do this--2 chemicals can just be separated and then when they combine, they react and form something new (and in the military, that means usually something nice and deadly :) ). They can be 2 separate chemicals mixed already, and when a 3rd chem is introduce, they combine. There can be 2 separate chems, and when there's a catalyst of some kind (or heat, platinum, etc.) introduced, the chems react. The spinning just mixes them a little faster but is not typically necessary with gases unless they're very different in weight or density. They'll eventually mix to reach equilibrium anyway.

And here I was thinking of biological warfare. :D

Char Ell
04-25-2006, 11:35 PM
I got kind of lost on the technicalities of the chemical weapon. I did understand that the chemical will have a permanent effect on the Sulishti which will cause them to attack everyone else until everyone else is dead at which point they would turn on each other. However I didn't really follow how A4 was able to determine the exact behavior the weapon molecule would produce in the Sulishti.

Hallucination
04-26-2006, 12:49 AM
@Jae and mach: And here I was thinking my chemistry test was confusing.... ;)
P.S. @Jae: This is really off-topic, but have you ever considered going to The Senate Chambers?

Jae Onasi
04-26-2006, 01:52 AM
I got kind of lost on the technicalities of the chemical weapon. I did understand that the chemical will have a permanent effect on the Sulishti which will cause them to attack everyone else until everyone else is dead at which point they would turn on each other. However I didn't really follow how A4 was able to determine the exact behavior the weapon molecule would produce in the Sulishti.

Since A4 had access to the medical database, I made the assumption that he'd have access to Sulishti anatomy and physiology and also knew the chemical structure of both their adrenaline and the toxin. So, he'd know that the poison/toxin would be chemically similar to their adrenaline. However, that may not be obvious to everyone else.

@mach--you may want to change the poison/toxin from something that's a mirror image to something that is nearly identical except maybe for a small protein molecule (or something else in the organic chem department) that is attached somewhere. The active part of the poison would be the same as adrenaline, but the extra attachment in a non-active part of the poison would prevent the enzyme that breaks down adrenaline from working on the toxin. Since the enzyme can't break down the toxin, it stays active. That way, it also wouldn't have to bounce in and out of anywhere--it would just stay in the same place and continue to cause an active response.
The reason I say this is that in most animals including humans, the mirror image of a biochem molecule is many times inactive. Think of it this way. Say you have a lock that is the same shape as your left hand. If you press your left hand on it, it will unlock and work. Your right hand is the mirror image of the left, but the right hand would not be able to fit the lock properly to unlock it. The same thing happens in the body. The left-hand version of the biochemical will work, but the right-hand version won't (or vice-versa), even though chemically they're identical. It's just how they're oriented.

@Hall-I'm very delighted to never have a chemistry test ever again. ;P
Organic chem drove me up a wall. I could have cared less how to make a ketone out of an alcohol because I wasn't ever going to need it in Real Life. I plodded through it just to get the good grade for prof. school. Biochem at least had some relevence to what I was planning on doing so I found it far more interesting.
I've lurked a bit in the Senate Chambers. Some of the discussion there is quite interesting. If I wanted to jump into some of the arguments, though, it might take more time than I really have available for the research I'd want to do to present a decent argument. Hubby's a better debater than I am, too. I have to be mentally 'on' 100% at work (patients don't like it if you're only half way there with them :) ), so by the time I get home, get kids fed and homework done and then get them into bed, I'm ready for less serious thinking. Once my kids' school is out for the summer I won't have quite so many time demands so I may jump in then. The exception is the Westboro church thread, since I lived in Topeka--that'll get some comment tonight I think.
And since I've taken up enough of poor mach's thread, I should probably return it to its rightful owner and go back on topic. :D

machievelli
04-26-2006, 02:12 AM
Since A4 had access to the medical database, I made the assumption that he'd have access to Sulishti anatomy and physiology and also knew the chemical structure of both their adrenaline and the toxin. So, he'd know that the poison/toxin would be chemically similar to their adrenaline. However, that may not be obvious to everyone else.

@mach--you may want to change the poison/toxin from something that's a mirror image to something that is nearly identical except maybe for a small protein molecule (or something else in the organic chem department) that is attached somewhere. The active part of the poison would be the same as adrenaline, but the extra attachment in a non-active part of the poison would prevent the enzyme that breaks down adrenaline from working on the toxin. Since the enzyme can't break down the toxin, it stays active. That way, it also wouldn't have to bounce in and out of anywhere--it would just stay in the same place and continue to cause an active response.
The reason I say this is that in most animals including humans, the mirror image of a biochem molecule is many times inactive. Think of it this way. Say you have a lock that is the same shape as your left hand. If you press your left hand on it, it will unlock and work. Your right hand is the mirror image of the left, but the right hand would not be able to fit the lock properly to unlock it. The same thing happens in the body. The left-hand version of the biochemical will work, but the right-hand version won't (or vice-versa), even though chemically they're identical. It's just how they're oriented.

@Hall-I'm very delighted to never have a chemistry test ever again. ;P
Organic chem drove me up a wall. I could have cared less how to make a ketone out of an alcohol because I wasn't ever going to need it in Real Life. I plodded through it just to get the good grade for prof. school. Biochem at least had some relevence to what I was planning on doing so I found it far more interesting.
I've lurked a bit in the Senate Chambers. Some of the discussion there is quite interesting. If I wanted to jump into some of the arguments, though, it might take more time than I really have available for the research I'd want to do to present a decent argument. Hubby's a better debater than I am, too. I have to be mentally 'on' 100% at work (patients don't like it if you're only half way there with them :) ), so by the time I get home, get kids fed and homework done and then get them into bed, I'm ready for less serious thinking. Once my kids' school is out for the summer I won't have quite so many time demands so I may jump in then. The exception is the Westboro church thread, since I lived in Topeka--that'll get some comment tonight I think.
And since I've taken up enough of poor mach's thread, I should probably return it to its rightful owner and go back on topic. :D


You see, that is the difference between knowing chemical weapons but not knowing biochm or ogranic chemistry.I will change it in the finished story.

machievelli
04-26-2006, 02:22 AM
Another good chapter, but I have a little problem:
When you eat something too spicy, water doesn't help. It's better to get some milk or bread. :)

Ah but think about it. Everytime someone eats something very spicy, what is the first thing someone hands them?

Renegade Puma
04-26-2006, 08:53 AM
I haven't gotten around to reading your latest chapter "clues" yet. But I read the other four last night :) So far this part of your story is much better than the first two in my opinion. Great writing and a masterful plot if I do say so myself. I am hoping that the enemy is the first Sith to come around. :) Keep up the great work Machievelli.

machievelli
04-26-2006, 10:16 AM
I haven't gotten around to reading your latest chapter "clues" yet. But I read the other four last night :) So far this part of your story is much better than the first two in my opinion. Great writing and a masterful plot if I do say so myself. I am hoping that the enemy is the first Sith to come around. :) Keep up the great work Machievelli.

Sorry, the Sith only became a problem about 2 millinnia before KOTOR. Since this story predates the Republic, we had about 18,000 years.

But if you're talking attitude, what about Sogor? Wouldn't he have been the first?

Jae Onasi
04-26-2006, 03:04 PM
Evil is evil, no matter what title they decide to call themselves.

machievelli
04-26-2006, 04:04 PM
Reaction

Sanji stormed back into the conference room. “The Rodians can also be affected!” He snapped.

“Well until-” Began the newly arrived Head of Procurement.

“We do not have time for all of this palaver!” Sanji shouted. “We must close down the warehouse, find out where that ship has gone and warn every government that needs to be told!”

His statement was greeted by silence. The Admiral in charge of Home fleet coughed. “We don’t have the authority to do that, Padawan-teacher.”

He stared at them angrily. “Unless you want more people to die needlessly, we must move now! If you don’t have the authority-” He reached out with the force, flipping the com link from the Admiral’s belt into his hand, “-Call someone who does!”

“But you said it needs a sonic cue to activate.” The commander of Coruscant defenses said. “Without it there can be no such incident.”

*****

Harrigan was a thief. Not just any thief when it came to computer systems he was a master. There wasn’t a system anywhere he couldn’t slice into and run as his own. He’d proven it on every mission he had ever undertaken and never been caught. He’d even worked for governments!

The job had been intriguing. Get onto Station Alpha 4 in orbit of Coruscant, upload one program. The man that had hired him was a Corellian, he knew that from the accent. The program was simple. It just reset the all stations tone to what it had been before. He didn’t know what the big deal was, and frankly he didn’t care. The new sound that had been used for the last week or so was a raucous klaxon that offended everyone. He’d actually liked the original better.

He inserted as a tourist bound for Taris. He went to the first kiosk he came to, and bought his ticket. The ship left in about ten minutes; tight but doable. He looked around, then inserted his homemade data wand into the slot where a droid would connect. There was a flash on the screen, and he saw that he was in. He inserted the program.

He logged off, sauntering down the main thoroughfare. The station was a huge flat donut with ships on the rims, and control at the center. The passageways were wide with shops along them. He paused at a jewelers, looking at a necklace. His girl would-

The all hands message interrupted him.

*****

“I don’t care if the Chancellor is in bed with an underage page boy!” Sanji roared back. “We have to contact him-” An alarm blared. The Admirals in command of Home fleet and Planetary defense reached for their com links at the same time.

“Alert. This is not a drill. Station Alpha 4 has broken communications, all weapons systems have gone active.” Someone reported flatly. “Weapons have targeted ships in orbit- Correction, weapons discharge. Tarisian liner Bonart has been fired upon. Frigates Caspi and Kolrami under attack by Alpha 4. This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill.”

“What the hell?” The Procurement officer roared.

“It seem that someone has found away around the sonic signal needed.” Sanji replied mildly.

The table com bleeped. “Admiral Nadien, the Chancellor is on line one asking what the hell is going on. His own words.”

“Well?” Sanji looked at the ashen Commander of Planetary Defense. “I think he might be awake. Now you can tell him as I asked you to report half an hour ago.

*****

Hawk Flight dropped into bedlam. Yaka whipped the ship upward, guided by the force rather than any sensor, and the missile that would have spitted them shot past. It arced to the right, and an inner system cargo lighter opened like a deadly flower.

“All ships in Coruscant orbit, all ships in Coruscant orbit. Station Alpha 4 has gone active and is targeting anything in view. Move immediately behind the planet or moon. If that is not possible, leave the system immediately.” The voice was harsh, demanding. Breia didn’t need to switch channels to know that they would also be confused.

“Where is Alpha 4?” She shouted. Yaka tapped a key, dodging a stream of projectiles. The screen lit up, and she saw the carnage. Four ships in orbit near the station were already drifting, but that didn’t stop the chain guns installed for perimeter defense blasting them anyway. One suddenly gushed air and fire, breaking up.

“Contact-”

“Breia, I am busy right now. Could you connect the call?” Yaka asked? He did a maneuver she had never seen, flipping the ship end for end, running behind a communications satellite which began to come apart.

She giggled, punching the buttons.

“Jedi Monastery, how may I-”

“The council, now!”

“It is very early here. Can you-”

“No I can not call later! Tell them it is Breia Solo. We have information about the gas, and must transmit immediately!”

“Hold.”

The hold seemed to stretch for hours, but less than five seconds later she saw Master Hontu’s face. “Padawan.”

“Has Master Sanji reported?”

“Yes. I assume this thing in orbit is part of this thing?”

“I assume it is, Master, the pattern is the same. If it follows suit, the station will continue firing until it is out of ammunition. This is the first time it has happened over an inhabited planet, however.” She rocked as Yaka made another dodge. “We don’t know what they will do if they run out of targets first.”

“Understood. Master Sanji has reported that home fleet will destroy the station-”

“No!” She almost screamed. “There are thousands of people whose only crime is they’ve been drugged!”

“I agree.” Hontu looked haunted. “But they see no other option.”

“They have marines don’t they? Ground troops, shuttles to transport them?”

“What are you suggesting?”
“Connect me with whoever is in charge of this fiasco and I will tell them at the same time.”

*****

“You are mad!” The Procurement officer screamed. “You want to Board a station under full alert?”

Breia immediately loathed the man. She glared into the screen. “I am saying that once we get aboard I can bring down the defenses then you can board you idiot-”

“Idiot! At least I am not acting like some Knight from a Fantasy story! No one can board that station without horrendous losses.”

“We can.” Sanji broke in. “Trust in the Force.”

“Listen Padawan! When you have served in a military, and know what to do, then you can tell-”

“An overblown windbag who from his decorations has served thirty years behind a desk!” Sanji shouted. “Who has never seen battle! Unless you have an option that doesn’t include the murder of over fifty thousand people I suggest you sit down and shut up!”

“Calm down people. More speed, less haste.” Master Hontu broke in through his link. “Our Padawan can board the station. We will not do so without losses.” He turned, and Breia could tell he was talking to her now. “Continue, Padawan.”

“Once the defenses are down the assault shuttles can board. Everyone to be armed with non-lethal weapons. You will have time for that if you hurry. They can move through the station section by section and disable anyone not already dead.”

“Padawan, I have authorization to destroy the station.” Admiral Nadien replied. “How long will this take?”

“If we stop talking and start doing something, ten minutes.”

“We’ll have the marines standing by. I will give you those ten minutes.”

“Master Hontu-”

“You don’t need to ask. We will launch every available ship.”

“Then I will see you on the station.” Or in hell she thought. “Yaka. We need to ram the station here.” She touched the screen, which strobed blood red.

“We may not survive.” He warned.

“Then tens of thousand will die.”

“There is that.” He took a second to work out a trajectory, then the engines howled at full power. The ship, which had run out far enough to only deal with the occasional missile stooped like a hawk.

Breia almost closed her eyes as the world before her spun and cavorted as if on the roller coaster from hell. The station was a dot, a coin, a ring, a-

She slammed against the restraints as ten tons of ship slammed through barely ten centimeters of hull. She flung her arms up as she tried to stop debris from hitting her.

Yaka leaped from his chair, running aft. She was beside him as he threw her an emergency bottle of air, slipping the modified mask Ithorians needed in place.

“Tie your sword into the sheath.” She ordered. “We will disable, not kill unless there is no alternative.”

He nodded, using a small emergency cargo tie to do as she said. Breia slapped the ramp release. The system groaned, then shuddered, but the ramp did not drop.

Breia cursed, drawing her sword. With four slashed she chopped a hole in the ramp, diving out as the meter square dropped away. She hit and rolled, the flat of her blade slapping away a screaming man. The air was gushing from the control center like blood, yet around her people still fought insanely.

Yaka dropped beside her, his sheathed weapon laying out four men in as many seconds. Breia looked around, spotting the control panel. She charged across, sheathing her sword, then drawing sheath and all to slam down on a man’s head, breaking his neck. She leaped another charging pair, landing in front of the station. The man at it spun, foam flecking his lips, and leaped up, his hands locking around her throat. Summoning the force, she pushed, throwing him into and through the upright situation board ten meters away. She spun, hitting the keys, watching the weapons go down one by one. As soon as they all had, she drew, slicing through the power cables. Then she turned. There should have only been five or ten people in the room. She faced almost thirty instead.

With a scream she charged.

*****

“Systems down!” The assault shuttles lifted. Ahead of them they could see the motley fleet the Jedi had launched. Seven ships, from an old Coruscanti Flitter class cargo vessel to four sleek couriers from as many systems. They charged into the maelstrom, and the Flitter slammed into and through the number one primary docking bay doors. All of the ships poured into that bay.

“Head for Number 2!” The assault commander screamed. “All other shuttles board at the next landing bay to the right of where your leader is going! Ready your weapons!” He slipped on his helmet.

Behind him the fifty men on the shuttle checked their weapons as they were doing on all of the shuttles. There are few weapons used by the military that are meant to disable rather than kill. The assault commander had told his men what to do and every police station in the city had been raided in the frantic minutes before they loaded. Stun rods, concussion and sonic grenade, the ubiquitous bloopers used to launch small grenades including neural paralyzer grenades. Every man was festooned with restraint cuffs and plastic emergency cargo ties. They knew they could find more on the station, but they would have to hope it was before they ran out of what they carried.

The shuttle smashed into the bay doors, smashing them flat. Air exploded outward, along with anyone who was in the bay. The shuttle slammed down, and the doors opened, men pouring out. A Marine found a case of ties, slinging it up on his shoulders, his squad mates running ahead to cover him.

The Assault commander pointed at the airlock. Two men ran to it, keying the sequence. It snapped open, and they went in, slamming the door. It would hold a squad at a time, but no man in his right mind put eight men into a meat grinder when two could do it.

“Clear.” One of the scouts reported. “But not for long. We’ve got screaming clockwise.”

“First squad, go!” He shouted. The man with the case of ties and his fellows stuffed themselves into the airlock and the rest gathered impatiently waiting their turn.

Sergeant Conroy turned, and his blooper fired, a neural paralyzer grenade arced into the people charging at his men. The flash went off, everyone in the area of effect collapsing as their nerves were disabled. Screams of pain were added to screams of fury as the others charged over the flailing injured. He went through a ten round magazine, slamming in a new one. “I really don’t like this!” He screamed.

“You think I do?” The Commander aimed, holding down the trigger on the sonic stunner he was armed with. He knew some of those people would end up permanently deaf, but he was worried about his own command more. “Second squad, link up with the Jedi! First Squad, link up with Charlie Company! Everyone else, even squads follow two, odd squads follow one. bag em and tag em as we go! MOVE!”

There are several military axioms that aren’t quite true. One is that no organized discipline military force is outnumbered by a mob. The second is that firepower can overcome even a massed charge. The third is that two men working as a team are superior in capability to eight men who are not.

If your enemy is insane, every one of them go right out the nearest airlock.

When they reached the first cross corridor all hell seemed to break loose. First squad wasn’t destroyed, it was overwhelmed as a hundred lunatics charged at them. The first fifty or so went down from all of the weapons they had with any standoff capability, but the other fifty rolled right over the squad. The teams following them did what they had been trained to do, what is called ‘scratching their backs’ with longer range fire as other charged forward to relieve the pressure. It was down to stun rods before the last of the maniacs was down.

There were few dead Marines. After all, Coruscant wasn’t a place where you needed to carry a weapon at all times. But no one had ever conceived of such a situation. Five of the seven Marines of First Squad Second Platoon, 7th Marine Assault Force including Sergeant Conroy were dead.

*****

“Ready?” Sergeant Mason of 2nd squad looked around, There wasn’t a cross corridor here, so this thrust had not been attacked.

“Yeah. After we clean up all those stupid Jedi...” The scout that left Docking bay One stopped talking as he surveyed the passageway ahead of him.

One Jedi was leaned against the wall, cradling her arm. She looked up, flashing him a gamine grin from the heap of bodies she sat on. None of them, he noticed were in Jedi garb. She couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old.

“They went that way.” She hooked a thumb down the passageway.

“You all right?”

“Sure. I landed wrong and dislocated my shoulder. The others went on to corridor seven A.”

“I don’t see any blood.”

“Unless they get us mad, you won’t.” She replied. “Sheathed blades and practice staffs only.” She winced. Could one of you set this for me?”

As the rest of the assault team cycled through the lock, the scout helped her, resetting her shoulder. By the time the last was through she was one her feet, swinging the arm.

“Not too bad. As long as I don’t go full out.” She marched down the passageway then looked back at the stunned Marines. “Well come on, do you want to live forever?”

*****

The bloopers fired, the stun grenades blasting half a hundred people off their feet. Men surged forward, keeping up the pressure as behind them others used the cargo ties they had collected on the way. The 1200 men of the Regiment had brought over 12,000 sets of restraints with them. Even scavenging off the wounded and dead, they had run out. Runners were going back to cleared areas, and Company G paused to wait for more.

“That’s the way to the control room.” One man pointed toward the right. “That way is in our hands.” The Lieutenant in command checked his pad. As each section of the station was cleared, he could see it change from red to green. The central done was still a bright red.

“Holy-” A scream was eclipsed as someone ahead of them died.

“Report-”

“They got a laser down there!” Someone shouted back.

“We can’t go that way.” The lieutenant mused. A laser mount would slice his men up like cooked meat.

He paused as a frail old man walked from a passageway. His weapon came up but the man merely paused, looking back.

“Master Hontu of the Jedi Monastery. We’ve cleared this section.” As he touched the pad, the area he touched had turned green.

“Wait, didn’t you land over in I Company’s area?” He looked at the pad display. That was half way around the station from him!

“Yes. But we work fast.” Hontu turned watching the laser flare in the corridor ahead. “I can see the problem. I need two of your men who are fast runners.”

“Sir?”

“You don’t have to understand, all they have to do is follow me.” The old man walked across, standing with his back against the wall. “Boys, move back from the entry. It’s going to get a little hot here in a few moments.”

“Sir-”

“Just have someone follow me at the run.” At that he leaped into the corridor.

The beams suddenly seemed to leap as if trying to cover every inch of the corridor and half the adjacent space simultaneously. Two young Marine leaped up to follow, and over the hissing of the beam the Lieutenant could hear their boots rattling on the deck. Then suddenly the beam stopped.

“Sir, it’s clear.”

Unwilling, the Lieutenant walked over, looking down the corridor. At the other end, the two Marines were binding the gunner and seven or eight more that were scattered around. The old man was no where to be seen.

“Where’s the Jedi.”

“He stayed long enough to do that-” One of the men jerked his thumb toward the weapon mount, “Slapped this guy with a sword, landed on them-“ He jerked his thumb at the pile at his feet. “Then kept on going. Said he had a date.”

The lieutenant looked at the barrel of the laser sliced into five small chunks. “If he wants, he can date my sister.” The other Marine said, finishing. “Can’t see telling the old man no.”

*****

The door to the control room hissed open, and Jedi poured in. Master Soo-chin stopped, looking around. Of the forty or so people in the room according to the scan she had done, there was no sign. In the center of the room the nose of Hawk Flight was rammed into the deck. The emergency sealant system had worked, spot-welding the ship into place. It would require cutting the entire section of the station’s hull open to get it out. But that meant they had air again.

She approached slowly. The ramp had been sliced open, then repaired with an emergency patch. She tapped the metal, and got an answering tap. Then the ramp came down.

Yaka stood there, arms folded. “Would you like some tea, Master Soo-chin?”

“Tea.” She responded.

“Yes. My master is in the cockpit talking with the planet. She suggested tea but all we have is Ithorian Wide Leaf, Echani fire tea, and something called Lord Barret-”

“I think some fire tea would wake me up.” Soo-chin interrupted. “What about all of the casualties?”

“They are all in the cargo hold. We had to stack them, so the dead were laid down first. Twenty-five are still alive though they are vacuum injured, and still quite insane.” He waved toward the overhead. “She asked me to apologize for the damage.”

Soo-chin looked around. At least half a dozen consoles had been sheered off, either a sword or the force tearing it free. “We’ll just take it out of her salary.” Soo-chin replied. “Now where is that tea?”

Char Ell
04-26-2006, 09:06 PM
The action has returned full-force in this chapter!

She marched down the passageway then looked back at the stunned Marines. “Well come on, do you want to live forever?”:rofl: That was a good one. Didn't really expect to hear that line from a Jedi but I guess since she was only 15 years old it's a little more understandable.

I suppose the Station 4 job was Harrigan's last. For a slicer he apparently wasn't too aware of what was going on nor inquisitive enough about what his slicing might result in.

Renegade Puma
04-27-2006, 05:13 AM
Great Job Mach. You wrote the action sequences with masterful art. I can't wait to see how this story ends.

machievelli
04-27-2006, 02:52 PM
Shake up

In the late afternoon, Chancellor Skywalker stormed into Admiralty house. Like a Frigate/flagship, he was surrounded by the escort vessels of his staff. No one attempted to stop him. He went to the office of the CNO, glaring at the secretary there. “I want these officers in this office immediately.” He took a pad from the rail thin young man beside him. The Secretary, a very young and very attractive commander looked at the list.

“Chancellor, except for the head of ONI, they are all in conference room Beta.”

“Oh, good. It saves time.” He turned to one of the staffers. “Martin, do stand here, and watch our young friend. I want my arrival to be a pleasant surprise.”

The Chancellor marched down the hall to the lift, and out onto the floor below. The two security men on conference room beta snapped to attention at his approach. Ignoring the brilliant red lighted DO NOT DISTURB sign, he went in.

The men that had been working now for in some cases 15 hours looked up in surprise at the entry.

“So sorry to interrupt you at your celebration.” The Chancellor said smoothly. “I came for a report on the Station situation.”

“Well in hand, sir” the CNO reported. “We’re shuttling down those affected. Every emergency medical unit in the Capital is full, but the other hospitals around the planet are taking up the slack.”

“Oh that.” The Chancellor waved his hand as if trying to clear smoke. “That is not why I am here, Gentlemen. I am here to find out why a group of Monks with no authority or military training at all had to come up with a plan to save 42,000 people you were quite willing to merely slaughter.” He sat, his face benign. No one who had seen him in action allowed that disguise to fool them. Or at least not more than once.

“We asked our Marine Commanders-” The Chief of Home Fleet began.

“Oh do spare me the cover story you are even now concocting. I asked Commander Palpatine what occurred, and he has found out.”

“That is retired Commander.” The Chief of Procurement snapped. “Who has no training in this at all!”

“Oh that is true. At two O’clock this morning when I asked him to keep track of the incident, he told me he had no experience in Marine boarding procedures.” The Chancellor looked around. “I know a lot of you chuckled a bit when I picked a Colonial from Naboo as my chief assistant when it came to naval affairs. But you see, I asked the best man the loyal opposition had. I spoke with the one military man I knew would never lie to me, even if it saved him from death.

“I asked Retired Admiral Antilles.”

They all looked at each other. The Chancellor smiled gently. “Yes. The man that told me exactly what he though of our first Space Lord. And of each of you as you were chosen. Since I had to form a coalition government two years ago, I wasn’t going to just sit and turn a blind eye to what those other parties might decide to play at.

“Let us start at five minutes after midnight today. This Jedi Monk called down to Admiralty house to notify you,” He pointed at the CNO. “-that he had the latest information from the joint meetings on Delta 4. He came here forty-five minutes later, expecting to have you and your staff here.

“One hour and forty minutes later you arrive. You bring your own staff, but not the Commander of Home fleet or the head of ONI. You didn’t consider what he might have said important enough it seems. Yet an hour into that meeting, you decide that you have to call the Commander of Home fleet-” His thumb jerked at Admiral Nadien, “-Who took another half hour to arrive. Odd that again the head of ONI has not been called.

“The briefing material is again reread-”

“Sir we are not that inefficient! Admiral Nadien was briefed enroute.” The CNO complained.

“That is not what the transcript states.” Palpatine handed him the pad. “You see, I do have people I trust in this building. Some of them even working in your offices. When you were first called, the recorders in the conference room were activated. Are there any more lies you wish to tell me before I go on? No?

“Very well. So we come to almost five in the morning. This Jedi has repeated the same bloody thing over twice, and answered every complaint both of you had come up with more than twice. Then again when the Commander of Planetary defense was called at 4. When he mentions that the chemicals had to be transported and cleared through customs, our dear friend from Procurement was called. Why I ask? He doesn’t have any authority with the Customs department. That is under Justice. Why again, I ask, was ONI not informed?”

“The Chief of ONI was-”

“Asleep in his bed, I know. As was I supposedly. Gentlemen, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Chief of ONI had been informed by message torpedo that this report was coming in, and who was delivering it. He was in his office. So Admiral Lucas is it? Was waiting in his office for a vital communication.

“When it was not delivered, he called the Jedi Monastery first. He has excellent rapport with the Jedi. It seems his son Georg is a member of the order at Ossus. This was at twenty minutes after one this morning. He knew that the courier might have been delayed.

“He was astonished to find out that the courier had been in the building for almost an hour. He tried calling your office, Admiral Tori-” He nodded toward the CNO, “-but you were in an important meeting and could not be disturbed.

“So he did what protocol tells him he must. He contacted the Naval attache of the Chancellor, who waits all of five minutes to awaken me. You see, my staff knows that if it is really important, I must be notified immediately. I don’t yell at them for waking me up. Only for waking me up when it is not necessary. But having a farce as you men have created this morning is in my view important, as I told Palpatine and Admiral Lucas.

“I had Palpatine run through the transcript. He is very good at speed reading you know. Then he reported to me. I was therefore on the same page by the time the Chief of Home fleet arrived. I listened as this Sanji asked you not once, not twice, but four bloody times told you that I should be informed immediately. I also listened to every stupid excuse you came up with as to why I should not be disturbed. Your excuse Admiral Charles-” He glanced at the Chief of Coruscant Defenses, “-Was masterful if passing the Buck was most important.

“Admiral Lucas contacted the Jedi Monastery again, and I spoke with them They informed me of Padawan Gretu’s bona fides, and a brief precis of his career with them to date. I was not looking at him as a, how did you say it? ‘Some Knight from a Fantasy story’.” He looked at the Chief of Procurement. “I had a full report of what this gas could do in a station. Admiral Lucas at my direction called in General Wonsan of the Fleet Marines for a conference. You see, we had considered what none of you had. That we might have another such attack on a station, possibly in an inhabited system.

“You will no doubt be delighted to know that five minutes before the incident occurred on the station here, message torpedoes had gone out to all outlying stations. The security forces there have been moved to sections with their own air supplies, and are patrolling with air tanks on my order.

“Unfortunately as you were busy playing this little game with the Jedi, the station here was also notified, but too late. So we have an entire station full of madmen 25,000 kilometers in orbit above this very city. The General told me what the losses would be. He assumed they could assault with about 30% casualties. Yet what do you do?

“You, Admiral Logan-” He glared at the Chief of Procurement, “-Who have absolutely no experience with marines refuse to even consider an operation. These fools who do have such experience-” He waved at the CNO and Commander Home Fleet, “-Don’t even call the one man that can tell them if it is feasible, our dear General Wonsan. Who by the by had already given orders for the Marines to deploy, and to steal if necessary every non-lethal weapon they could find.

“No. You instead finally talk to me. Not because you wanted to, but because I got sick and tired of this and called you!

“And your response? Blow the station up!”

“While we are still in communication, this young girl, Solo calls the Monastery. When she hears that the only option you are putting forward is mass murder, she contacts you directly.

“You-” He pointed at Nadien, the finger now a weapon, “-Let Logan berate her for at least five minutes, then tell her you had permission to destroy the station, an order I never gave. Yet when she offers to risk her life, you give her the ten minutes she asked for.

“General Wonsan and the commanding officer of 7th MAF tells me that she saved almost a thousand lives among the Marines alone.”

“But it cost us over 200 men!”

“Let me see. You send in 1200 men. In the three hours it took you lose just over 16 percent of that force. The Jedi sent in 40, and lost 5. They lost 20 percent. Of that number, only one was over twenty years old. They also cleared a third of that station by themselves.

“So now you are all here, discussing damage control! Instead of telling me of this meeting instead you called the First Space Lord!” He waved toward the ceiling. “Before you lie again, remember what I said? This room is also fully monitored, and the Judge Advocate General is even now listening. Oh not the one you think. I checked his records, and he has been asked to resign.

“You men are not that lucky.” The door behind him opened, and four men entered, wearing the brassards of Military police. “Gentlemen, you are all under arrest. A court of Inquiry will hear charges of gross negligence leading to the deaths of over 8,000 civilians, complicity in an attempt to cover it up, and failure to heed your charge as officers of our fleet and Conduct unbecoming. Your good friend the First Space Lord will be in another dock. He is charged with the same thing, only the Capitol police are making that arrest.”

He stood. “Where is Lucas?”

“Enroute from his office sir.” Palpatine reported. “I was keeping him apprised.”

“Good. Someone has to take over until this mess is cleared up.”
*****

Breia looked at the controls of her ship pensively. Outside her hull, a team of Navy damage control specialist had torched away the emergency sealing joints, and had pulled the ship from the wreckage of the control section of the station. A tug was attaching towing cables

The damage was severe. The engines had been broken from their mounts, and had smashed forward, shearing off the fuel tanks, which had gone gods alone knew where. The nose had crumpled far enough that it had merely looked like it had thrust through the deck. Both chain guns had been ripped from their mounts as had the missiles. Thankfully they hadn’t been armed.

The only things that had still worked after the ramming had been the main landing gear, the life support systems and the galley. It would take months for her ship to be repaired.

Yaka sat beside her glumly. “I wrecked your ship.” He moaned.

“You did what no other pilot could do!’ She replied. “You saved those marines, you saved every one of those people.” She grinned suddenly, “You faced Master Soo-chin and asked her if she wanted tea! That in itself is a greater victory than most can claim.”

“But I wrecked the ship!”

“She will be repaired if I have to pay for it out of my own pocket. It was worth it, believe me.” The com panel bleeped, and she thumbed the contact. “Hawk Flight. Padawan Solo here.”

“Can you tear yourself away from your ship for a few hours?” The Padawan at the Monastery below asked. “The Masters have been called by the Chancellor. They want you to be there.”

She looked around. The Damage control officer had told her that the ship would have to be towed down to the planet for repairs. “I will contact the team that is recovering the ship about transport.”

“Don’t bother. The Chancellor has ordered a fleet courier to pick you up. They should be standing by off your hull.”

“Understood. Enroute.” She thumbed the contact again. “Come on. You can commiserate with me below. I think several bottles of Corellian red ale each will at least ease our sorrows.”

*****

The courier dropped like a stone, then smoothly transitioned to level flight over the City center. The pilot, a girl that didn’t look old enough for her first date dropped onto the Government pad, shutting down. “Welcome to Coruscant, and thanks.” She looked at the Padawan that sat in the second seat. “My brother is a Marine. Your people saved his life.”

Breia shook her hand, and walked down the ramp. The Masters were there, along with almost two dozen Padawan and students. The entire group marched into the lifts, going down. “What is this all about?” She asked.

Master Hobart shrugged. “We were asked to be here by the Chancellor. Have you heard the news?” She shook her head. “The Judge Advocate General has resigned. The First Space Lord, CNO, Chief of Coruscant Defense, Commander Home Fleet and Chief of Military Procurement have been arrested. There is a major shake up going on right now. Admiral Antilles has been asked to come out of retirement until a new CNO can be appointed.”

She shrugged. She knew it was important, and her mind went through the organization of the Navy, considering who might be appointed to those positions. It kept her occupied as they were ushered through the halls. Her eyes snapped to the door, and the engraved name above it.

The Coruscant Senate Chamber was huge. Over a thousand men and women watched as the Jedi marched down the main aisle. Representatives from the Colony worlds stood, and began clapping. Breia looked around as more and more of them stood. In the seating areas above the floor cameras were rolling, and she could see the logos of every major network on the machinery.

Before her on the dais the Speaker of the House stood. The Jedi came to a halt about fifteen meters from him.

“People of Coruscant, members of the Senate and Parliament, representatives of the colonies, I give you the Chancellor of Coruscant.” He turned, clapping as another door to Breia’s right opened, and the Chancellor marched down the aisle. The applause if anything redoubled.

The Chancellor walked up to the podium, bowing to the speaker, then faced the lectern. He held up his hands, not signaling approval of the ovation, merely for silence, which he eventually got.

“People of Coruscant, members of the Senate and Parliament, representatives of our colonial brothers, honored guests, a great tragedy was averted in orbit yesterday.

“An unknown enemy released a chemical weapon aboard station Alpha 4, which caused the people aboard that station to go mad, and begin killing each other. The activated weapons of that station, one of the linchpins of our planetary defense net fired upon and destroyed the Frigate Kolrami, the Tarisian liner Bonart, damaged the Frigate Caspi and three other vessels.

“The disaster would have been averted by prompt action by our Navy. Sadly this did not occur. Except for one man, the men responsible have been arrested. That last man, is myself.”

There was a roar of anger. Cries of ‘No!’ from the crowd. The Chancellor stood there, hands raised for silence. It took almost fifteen minutes.

“I thank you for your support, but the fact is that it was my choice with the advice of his party, of who would have the portfolio for First Space Lord. That man chose the subordinates that caused this to flare almost out of control. Once my duty here is done, I am calling for a general election. Whoever replaces me can deal with me as he will.” Again there was an outpouring.

“Genius,” Hobart whispered. “He takes responsibility, allows the courts to crucify those that really caused the damage, and take a wild guess who ends up as Chancellor after the election?”

The shouting finally died again. “I regret to inform this body and our people that the death toll is staggering. 8,000 men women and children died during the incident. Both Kolrami and Bonart were lost with all hands. Over 200 Marines who boarded the station are also among the dead.

“But I can also tell you that it was not our fleet, or our Marines who saved most of the 42,000 survivors. Members of an order that is considered a bit odd by most of us risked their lives to save the lives not only of our citizens but our Military men as well. Of the forty members of that order who led our marines to victory, five are also among those honored dead. The oldest was in his early sixties, A master named Hontu. The youngest was a Padawan learner named Sani, a native of our colony world Naboo. She was 14.” He looked at the silent crowd.

“The after action records of our own military and the station internal log shows what occurred. That forty people from seventeen different planets, some we would consider mortal enemies, stood together. They breached the security system of our station, allowing our Marines to land almost unopposed. They risked their lives not with guns and bombs at their disposal, but only the swords they wear as a mark of their order. Even though capable of deadly force exactly seven of the 20,000 people they subdued were killed by their weapons.

“The men of our Marines, from General Wonsan to the lowliest private extols their capabilities and virtues. Master Hontu entered the primary reactor core which someone had set to destruct and stopped that tragedy. His was not the greatest feat of that day, that goes to others who by chance are still among the living.” He looked down at the silent men and women arrayed before where he stood.

“During the events leading up to the boarding, one of those to be tried made a sarcastic comment about those that risked so much for so little gain. Well before you all now, I will say with distinction, what he said in derision.

“Lords and ladies, I give you, the Knights of the Jedi order!”

Again there were cries, but these were glad. Around them, the senators leaped to their feet, applause threatening to collapse the roof.

Char Ell
04-28-2006, 12:09 AM
Oh yee-aah, the Chancellor cleaned house on that one. :twogun: :chop1:
If only things worked like that in real life.

I think I have an idea how relations between the Jedi and the Coruscanti goverment progress from here... :naughty:

machievelli
04-28-2006, 12:33 AM
For everyone who is interested, there are four chapters remaining of this part of the book. Before anyone asks, five more Jedi are going to die in the following chapters. A few of them you might like.

As for evil, you might look at Landru differently by the end too...

machievelli
04-28-2006, 12:53 AM
Oh yee-aah, the Chancellor cleaned house on that one. :twogun: :chop1:
If only things worked like that in real life.

I think I have an idea how relations between the Jedi and the Coruscanti goverment progress from here... :naughty:


:chop1::chop1::chop1:
That is exactly how it happens when a strong politician does it. If you'll notice with the 9-11 attack, Bush was able to roll right from 'how could this happen' to blowing holes in Afghanistan.

Picture Republicans in a coalition government with the Dems supplying the First Space Lord.

:chop1::chop1::chop1:

Char Ell
04-28-2006, 01:20 AM
For everyone who is interested, there are four chapters remaining of this part of the book. Before anyone asks, five more Jedi are going to die in the following chapters. A few of them you might like.Hmm. I guess you didn't want to just spring that on your story's readers, eh? Preparing us for an ending we might not like too much? FWIW, I really liked the ending of The Matrix: Revolutions movie, if that gives you any indication of my particular tastes. Not that you should cater to my tastes but purely for informational purposes only. :D
That is exactly how it happens when a strong politician does it. If you'll notice with the 9-11 attack, Bush was able to roll right from 'how could this happen' to blowing holes in Afghanistan.True, but I don't really see how that compares with what the Chancellor did. The Chancellor fired most of his top military leaders and then put them on trial. The only person I remember taking the fall in Bush's administration was George Tenet and considering how that came about I'm not really sure that counts as "house cleaning."

Renegade Puma
04-28-2006, 02:29 AM
Wow go chancellor Skywalker!!! And commander Palpatine???? I think Old Sidious would role over in his grave "Even though he isn't born yet" to know that one of his ancestors did something good. ;) Machievelli I have to tell you, the story can't end with this book. You have to keep writing more and more. I am so addicted, it is written so well and is so interesting. I want to see how everything progressess with the Jedi even more.

Jae Onasi
04-28-2006, 09:35 AM
Hmm. I guess you didn't want to just spring that on your story's readers, eh? Preparing us for an ending we might not like too much? FWIW, I really liked the ending of The Matrix: Revolutions movie, if that gives you any indication of my particular tastes. Not that you should cater to my tastes but purely for informational purposes only. :D
True, but I don't really see how that compares with what the Chancellor did. The Chancellor fired most of his top military leaders and then put them on trial. The only person I remember taking the fall in Bush's administration was George Tenet and considering how that came about I'm not really sure that counts as "house cleaning."

I hate death in Star Wars stories unless it's for a very, very good reason. I always view the series as nearly everyone making it out by the skin of their teeth.

Picky med detail--dislocations don't get reset, but fractures do get set. Dislocations get 'reduced'. Most laypeople say 'the doc popped it back in joint,' or 'doc put it back in its socket.' You might consider having Breia ask the Marine to put it back in its socket instead of resetting it. This might be a good place to have the Marine be a combat medic also, since most of us don't know how to reduce a dislocation correctly. If it's done wrong, it can actually cause more damage by catching some other tissues with it as it goes back in socket.

When the Chancellor sacked nearly the entire top-level brass, I got a little concerned about the Chancellor's motives--the only time I've seen a shake-up to that severe a degree is when a dictator comes to power.

Ugh. You're ending the story way too soon. :D

machievelli
04-28-2006, 11:00 AM
I hate death in Star Wars stories unless it's for a very, very good reason. I always view the series as nearly everyone making it out by the skin of their teeth.

Not all of them will die well. Two will be rather badly and worse, will fail. One will die off screen and you may never know why. One will die nobly, the other because of a personal choice.

I am more sorry than you are. As the author, I am letting the story have it's head, and when they die it will be when there time has come. Trust me on that.


Picky med detail--dislocations don't get reset, but fractures do get set. Dislocations get 'reduced'. Most laypeople say 'the doc popped it back in joint,' or 'doc put it back in its socket.' You might consider having Breia ask the Marine to put it back in its socket instead of resetting it. This might be a good place to have the Marine be a combat medic also, since most of us don't know how to reduce a dislocation correctly. If it's done wrong, it can actually cause more damage by catching some other tissues with it as it goes back in socket.


Noted, and corrected.


When the Chancellor sacked nearly the entire top-level brass, I got a little concerned about the Chancellor's motives--the only time I've seen a shake-up to that severe a degree is when a dictator comes to power.

What happened there was pretty much what happened in Russia after the KAL 007 fiasco. The three senior men in Stranya PVO, the Eartern Air Defense Network were fired by Gorby. Removing four officers and the equivilant of the Secretary of the Navy is only a modest shake up in a disaster of this proportion.


Ugh. You're ending the story way too soon. :D

Hey, you have four more chapters to go before section one is complete. As Yogi said 'it ain't over til it's over'. :D

machievelli
04-28-2006, 11:15 AM
Denoument

Honor Blade dropped toward Nar Shaddaa. Lang looked at his screen as a Hutt appeared. “Administrator Hoom. I am Padawan Lang of the Jedi Monastery. I come as representative of the combined investigation team on the station attacks.”

“I was informed of your mission, Jedi.” The Hutt replied. “The factory is open for your inspection, as are the records.”

“Are there any other factories that make the same chemical?”

“Yes. They have also been informed and told to await you attention. There is one thing that puzzles us, however.”

“That is?”

“The link to the Sulishti. They do not use our chemical.”

“What?”

“Their reactors are all indigenous, as is their coolant. None of our chemical products are used by them. There is no reason to ship what has been shipped to them. Besides, no one needs seventy million cubic meters of our gas.”

“Seventy million?” Lang pondered. “When was that shipped?”

“One ship, the Feradi left two weeks ago bound for Fondor. The other, Bondrant less than a week ago bound for Sulisht.”

“What class were these ships?”

“Balladeer bulk transports. The gas was highly compressed.”

“Goddess!” He said. “Send a torpedo to Coruscant.” He ordered Shani. “Administrator, the factory that manufacture it-”

“Has already been seized.”

“I will meet your investigators there.”

*****

A class of children between five and nine in age surrounded a man in his fifties, working on a guided meditation. The man nodded, acknowledging Sanji’s passage even as his slow steady voice directed them on their personal quests. The training stopped only for sleep, and since a lot of students stayed on their home planet’s circadian cycles, it meant that it could go on around the clock at times.

Past classrooms where history of all the known races was taught. No human would live long enough to know it all, but by using the ways different people viewed the same situations, enough could be passed on in a decade or so to be of use. Others where languages were being taught for the day when these young student would be sent out to smooth the way for others.

Past a courtyard where a dozen students watched a master dueling with seven others, each armed with a practice blade. The master moved with an unhurried almost languid grace, dodging blows, blocking only those that came close enough to be a danger. He disarmed one, chopping another, the ballistic cloth hardening to spread the impact so that the 15 year old girl was just winded, not seriously injured. In the next courtyard, children went through a dizzying array of traps, running as fast as their force augmented muscles let them.

Another run, this armed with turrets firing real bullets halted him for a moment. The boy running the course was using obstacles, the force heightened reflexes and when necessary, his blade to deflect them. He stopped, clutching his arm, and the turrets died.

“No.” A master stepped down, walking up to him. “Do not let yourself become distracted.” He looked up balefully at the master that had caused his brief inattention. “Allow yourself to become one with it, and it will guide you. Is the arm all right?”

“Yes, master. The cloth spread it out as it is meant to.” The boy rolled his arm. “I will go again.”

“Yes.” The master looked at Sanji again, and returned to the control panel.

Sanji walked on. The courtyard where the council met was quiet. Breia looked up at his arrival.

“What have you heard, Master?” She asked.

“It is surprising how efficient a bureaucracy can be when they have both ONI and the Chancellor breathing down their necks.” He replied mildly. “The Balladeer class vessel Feradi is owned by the Brenoril company of Fondor. Odd, because it was never incorporated or formed. The only proof of a company is the one money transfer from an account closed the instant it cleared.

“But if anyone who knew Fondorian had been there, they might have wondered. You see, Brenoril is the Fondorian word for ‘ghost’. The two ships, Feradi and Bondrant have names that mean-”

“Vengeance and Nemesis.”

“Correct.” Sanji looked at the sky. “We were able to trace the purchase of a factory on Nar Shaddaa which manufactured the tainted gas. The factory was purchased using funds from a criminal organization named the Hand. The Government arrested the head men of the organization and they told all to escape the death penalty. They also slipped the tainted gas into the outgoing shipments of Bidraxidine from the regular manufacturers. It all arrived together here. I believe from that point-”

“The warehouse records were tampered with. The Czerka manager is up on mass murder charges even as we speak. The A4 unit I have was able to trace the transfers of gas. A man in custody named Harrigan is responsible for the actual orders for shipping it. He was on the station day before last, planting a program that changed the all hands klaxon back to the old tone. He was found under about a ton of debris from an explosion. Pure luck that he was still alive trapped alone, unable to kill himself or anyone else. He still had the data wand he had used to change the computer on the station, and in return for life without parole instead of a death sentence, he sang like a bird.”

“Then all we need is to trace the gas, find Landru and the affair is over.”

“Yes. But to do that I need permission to leave. I don’t have a ship until mine is repaired. I have already chartered a civilian courier-”

“Which will not be necessary.” Master Soo-chin replied entering the courtyard. “Both of you were asked to be here by the Chancellor.”

“What is it?” Breia moaned. “Another medal?”

“Padawan Solo, do you know how many Medals of Distinction have been given out?” Soo-chin asked. “More importantly how many have gone to people not of Coruscant? It is the highest award a civilian can earn on Coruscant.”

“That is all well and good but I have spent a day longer than I had to because of the blasted medal ceremony and now this.”

“Patience!” Soo-Chin chuckled. “If someone had told me five years ago that I would counsel someone else to be patient, I would have labeled them a fool!” She motioned. “Let us hurry, they should be arriving in a few moments.”

She led them through the back way of the Monastery so they didn’t disturb the students. Master Hobart joined them enroute. Except for the Kreekta, the tarmac was empty. Every ship that had gone on the assault had been either badly damaged or destroyed. Two of the Jedi dead had been in the Flitter class Glowfly when she rammed the bay doors. Soo-chin looked into the sky, then pointed. Eight ships in an echelon formation flew in, dropping to land before them. Behind them came a lumbering ship painted a brilliant white. Compared to the courier class ships that escorted it, this one was huge. A thirty man Naval command ship. The other eight were smaller, and sleeker. They were wide flat oblate wings with what looked like cannon in their leading edges.

The ramps dropped, and Navy personnel poured out. Breia looked as a familiar figure stepped down from the closest flying wing. “Yaka!”

He waved, walking over to stand beside her. “I was asked to pilot one of the new ships.”

“New-” The last man down the ramp of the command was the Chancellor. He strode over, bowing. “Masters. Dame Breia.” Breia groaned. She had forgotten that the medal she had been given was the equivalent of a Corellian Knighthood. She would forever be ‘Dame Briea Solo’ to the people of this planet.

The chancellor made a sweeping motion toward the ships. “All of your vessels were destroyed or so badly damaged that they need to be replaced. As the representative of my people, we ask you to accept this gift.

“The couriers Knight of Coruscant, Knight of Corellia, Knight of Ryloth, Knight of Ossus, Padawan Rees of Coruscant, Padawan Conor of Corellia, Padawan Marilo of Ossus.” He paused, The Command ship [/i]Master Hontu.[/i] “And,” Motioning toward the unnamed vessel, “And for your use until your ship is repaired, Dame Breia, Padawan Sani of Naboo. A gift from the People of Coruscant in recognition of your service to us.”

Soo-chin appeared to be speechless. “The order thanks the Coruscant for such a noble gift.”

“It pains us that we cannot do more.” Skywalker replied. “All we have done is replaced what you have lost, and created memorials for those who died for our people.”

“We will remember them always.” Soo-chin said humbly. “Your gift will make their names known throughout the galaxy. Again, our thanks.”

“We must be off. There is much to do.” The Chancellor bowed again, and led the Naval personnel with him.

“Master.” A Padawan ran up, bowing. “An urgent message for Master Gretu and Padawan Solo from Padawan Lang on Nar Shaddaa.”

They hurried into the communications room. A Padawan flipped a switch, and Lang appeared on the screen.

“This must immediately be transmitted to master Gretu and Padawan Solo. If they are not there, transmit it to whatever system they are in.

“The factory here has been closed. The personnel know nothing beyond the fact that members of an organization named the Hand had hired them two years ago. Positive identification of Zardan Landru as the man responsible for the gasses manufacture. Last known location, Ithor.

“The last load of gas was 70 million cubic meters. Loaded on ships belonging to the Brenoril corporation. The word is Fondorian for ‘ghost’. The two ships are named Feradi and Bondrant, Vengeance and Nemesis in the same language. One is bound for Sulisht. The other, for Fondor. I assume the one for Fondor the Feradi, will have already arrived.

Our computer estimates that 35 million is sufficient to poison an entire planet’s atmosphere.

“Enroute to Coruscant. Arrival 2115 hours tomorrow.” Every eye looked at the chronometer. He would be arriving in just a few hours.

“Message has also gone to Fondor. Master Sookor should be arriving there
any time. Hutt say that the Sulishti do not, I repeat do not use Bidraxidine. There must be a reason Landru used it as the carrier molecule, but we have not yet ascertained why.

“Message ends.”

“We have much to do, and must hurry.” Soo-chin snapped. “Master Sanji-” She was interrupted by a signal.

“Message torpedo from Ithor. From the Ithorian council aboard Cloud-Home.

The screen flashed on. An Ithorian looked out. Behind him was the first of the floating cities created two decades before by the Tokara Company.

“Administrator Lukati of Ithor reporting. We have received a message from Padawan Lang of your order asking for information on a human named Zardan Landru. He took possession of 5,000 breeding pairs of a hybrid song bird of his home planet of Fondor six weeks ago which had been genetically modified at his request. The request for modification had been filed four years, seven months ago. Specifications on modifications are with this message. Message ends.”

“He ordered songbirds? Soo-chin asked incredulous.

“Find the modifications subtext.” The Padawan flipped through the message archive. The male bird was a brilliantly plumed animal that weighed perhaps fifty grams if the scale was right. While everyone else looked on the communicator flipped through the pages of specification.

“Made them less shy than normal, adjusted their nesting habits and diet. They now feed on something called-” He leaned forward. “-A Sulishti plant called Kusberi. They used to nest in trees in the forests, but will now favor buildings and constructs.” His brow wrinkled. “Odd, the vocal index of the birds has also been altered. Their standard song had been altered.” He flipped a switch.

From the speakers echoed a song they all knew too well.

Breia’s com link bleeped. “What!”

“Padawan, I don’t know if it is important-”

“If it isn’t A4 I am going to rip out your brain and replace it with a toaster!” She roared.

“It has come to my attention that the Sulishti do not use Bidraxidine because it makes them ill-”

“We know that!”

“-It also would be assimilated by their native wildlife and plants.”

“What?” She whispered. Every eye was on her.

“One plant which is a staple in their diet called Kusberi would absorb it and reproduce the gas as part of it‘s flowering cycle.”

“Gods.” Someone whispered. Breia agreed silently.

“There are only two planets where Kusberi grows. That is their home world of Sulisht, and the planet Fondor.”

“Oh my gods. What has he done?” Master Hobart asked.

“He’s made sure that the Sulishti will die out.” Yaka said. “And even if some do survive, that they can never live on Fondor or Sulisht, ever.”

“Padawan-”

“Get aboard Padawan Sani of Naboo. Now!”

“Am I going to make toast for the voyage?”

“You might yet.”
*****

The trip was quiet. Usually a person that joked with everyone, Breia was a stolid lump this trip. Amberdon handled the cooking, kept watch when the automated sensors didn’t do it for him, and brooded along with her. The ship hummed softly to itself, the single A1 droid puttering around as it tuned the systems as they flew.

He went forward, checking the instruments. He took the controls. “Master we will arrive any moment.” She didn’t respond. He watched as the stars appeared. In orbit were hundreds of orbital docks. Thanks to the systems position near a great many resources, a dozen or more companies had built their own drydocks in orbit. Something like a third of the ships of the Galaxy were being built right here.

“Contact the Fondorians. I must speak with Landru immediately". Breia walked forward, sitting in the second chair.

A few moments later, the screen cleared. He had aged dramatically in the last years, worn down as if by a fierce desert wind. Landru looked from the screen at them, then bowed his head. “Master Sookor. I have been expecting you.” He looked down, touching a control. “My family station is at these coordinates. Please, join me.” The signal ended.

Amberdon noted the location, and adjusted his course. The station was small, a personal residence rather than a business. The lights on the landing bay flashed, and the ship closed in on that location.

The doors swing open, and Millennium Falcon nestled down onto the deck. Amberdon stared at the wonder before him. The bay was a work of art.

“I have a bad feeling about this.” Breia said, standing “Standby to get us out of here fast.” She turned walking toward ramp. As it came down she winced, grabbing her ears, then collapsing. Up in the cockpit, Amberdon had already been disabled.

The door opened, and a droid rolled in. It wrapped up the unconscious woman, then did the same for the man. Both were picked up and carried out.
*****

Kreekta lifted off, moving into orbit. Behind her came Padawan Sani of Naboo. Three other couriers lifted, Knight of Corellia, Knight of Ossus, and Padawan Rees of Coruscant. They stayed in a tight formation, awaiting-

Honor Blade dropped out less than 400 kilometers away. “Padawan Lang this is Master Soo-chin. Do not, I repeat, do not land on Coruscant. Join up with Jedi Formation. Prepare for instructions.”

As the ship approached, three of the Coruscanti couriers led by Padawan Sani of Naboo spun, heading for their destination. Knight of Corellia, Kreekta, and Honor Blade formed up, then turned onto their departure vector.

Jae Onasi
04-28-2006, 11:18 AM
Not all of them will die well. Two will be rather badly and worse, will fail. One will die off screen and you may never know why. One will die nobly, the other because of a personal choice.

I am more sorry than you are. As the author, I am letting the story have it's head, and when they die it will be when there time has come. Trust me on that.

Heh, it doesn't _have_ to be written that way, but I know what you mean. Sometimes you just get dragged along in that direction.




What happened there was pretty much what happened in Russia after the KAL 007 fiasco. The three senior men in Stranya PVO, the Eartern Air Defense Network were fired by Gorby. Removing four officers and the equivilant of the Secretary of the Navy is only a modest shake up in a disaster of this proportion.


Well, Russia wasn't exactly the bastion of democracy, so he could get away with that, I suppose. Here in the US we'd all be freaking out if something like that happened. Well, those of us who follow politics regularly, anyway. :)

Hmm, I either misunderstood/misread the ranks of the officers when they first appear in the infamous meeting, or I had forgotten their ranks by the time the Chancellor gets to them (you had all this great action in between, you know) and just made the assumption all of them were like Joint Chiefs level officers. I'd have to re-read to figure out which one it was, though I suspect the latter. I like the little political twist at the end with the Chancellor offering himself up for discipline.

machievelli
04-28-2006, 11:35 AM
Heh, it doesn't _have_ to be written that way, but I know what you mean. Sometimes you just get dragged along in that direction.

When I write, especially something that has flowed as smoothly as this one, I get dragged along by the story.



Well, Russia wasn't exactly the bastion of democracy, so he could get away with that, I suppose. Here in the US we'd all be freaking out if something like that happened. Well, those of us who follow politics regularly, anyway. :)


It happened here after 911, though we didn't notice it. It also happened at Abu Ghraib. On 911 the commander of NORAD was replaced, along with two other officers. At Abu Ghraib the Commandant of the Prison and her two subordinates were sent into military exile. The Brigadier was demoted to Colonel.


Hmm, I either misunderstood/misread the ranks of the officers when they first appear in the infamous meeting, or I had forgotten their ranks by the time the Chancellor gets to them (you had all this great action in between, you know) and just made the assumption all of them were like Joint Chiefs level officers. I'd have to re-read to figure out which one it was, though I suspect the latter. I like the little political twist at the end with the Chancellor offering himself up for discipline.

The ranks were as follows, as if they were American officers;

CNO: 5 stars, Commander Home Fleet: 3 stars, Chief of Procurement; 3 stars, Commander Planetary Defenses; 2 stars. Since there are over 300 officers in the US Navy of those ranks, this is not really that major. What would be is the fact that I am willing to bet (After all I wrote it) That all of the officers with the exception of the CNO were appointed by the CNO. That officer was appointed by the First Space Lord.

I am using a modified form of the British Navy where this actually happens all the time.

As for the chancellor, I have to agree with Master Hobart. It makes him look like a man willing to take his punishment as at the same time he blames that opposition party.

Jae Onasi
04-28-2006, 11:45 AM
Now this could be because I was reading this last week while having some rather nasty insomnia worrying about my cat (who is better), and reading the forum at 1 am is not conducive to remembering things clearly.
So please forgive a totally stupid question--what is the role of the First Space Lord and how does he fit into everything?

machievelli
04-28-2006, 12:00 PM
The First Sea Lord in the British Government, or First space Lord in this situation, is as I said, the equivilant of the Secretary of the Navy in the US,

However the Secretary of the Navy cannot do what the First Sea Lord can, which is replace the men at the top with their own handpicked replacements. Every time the government shifts in Britain, the new FSL can remove any of the commanders of such departments as Buships, Buweps, Personnel, procurement, Operations (Their Equivalent to CNO) or Intelligence. When it is done very badly, a lot of problems can occur. If you have not read the Honor Harrington Series by David Weber, I would suggest reading War of Honor where the inner workings of a very badly run Navy can be seen in glaring detail.

Jae Onasi
04-28-2006, 03:23 PM
Did I mention I've never studied British naval history? :)
OK, I know about Nelson, but only because of a class on Fr. Revolution/Napoleon.

Char Ell
04-28-2006, 08:43 PM
Just when I thought I was getting a handle on the plot...

I thoroughly enjoy the plot twists in this story. I'm just not sure I know the background between Landru and the Sulishti. I think I need to go back and read some stuff over again because I seem to remember some mention made of it. Whatever Landru's issue with the Sulishti is has got to be pretty serious, since he has engineered a plan to wipe out their entire race.

machievelli
04-29-2006, 01:44 AM
If you don't get it, don't worry. There's a lot of exposition between Landru and Breia coming right up.

machievelli
04-29-2006, 01:54 AM
Too late

Again it came down to simple geometry. A ship on a direct course from Nar Shaddaa had to travel a greater distance, but the Jedi ships left an hour and a half too late.

*****
The trio of Jedi ships dropped out of Hyper space less than 400 kilometers from the Bondrant.

“Sulisht control, this is Jedi courier Knight of Corellia, Master Soo-chin commanding. The ship approaching your planet has a lethal chemical aboard. It must be stopped immediately.

Jedi ships. You are not welcome. Depart or die.“

“Sulisht control, destruction of that ship is imperative. We are approaching to destroy it at this time.”

As The couriers charged after it every communications channel was broken by a transmission in Sulishti;

Warning. Attacked by Human vessels

Protect, protect.

The attack was masterfully planned. Bondrant was unmanned. Better that a system fail than someone suddenly in fear of their life abort it. After all, this was only a secondary attack. It it failed, the other would succeed.

Landru had studied his enemy well. Being insects, their primitive forebears had used several different chemical signals, that predated language, and their communications systems aboard their ships still did. These signals as with the human brain reach past the conscious mind, setting off alarms that are reacted to not consciously, but with a biological imperative far beyond reason. A signal of this sort will hurl a mass of stinging death against a bear or insects ten times their size. Launch an attack that ends when the enemy is dead or every defender is. Will cause them to even throw themselves against a fire or flood trying to bury it under their own bodies.

In reaction to that imperative the Sulishti warships in orbit turned, moving outward to protect their executioner.

“Sulishti control this is-” Master Soo-chin began.

“Depart.”

“We have to-”

“Depart or die.”

“All ships. We have to blow it up before it reaches Sulisht.” She ordered.

“What about the Sulishti?” Lang asked.

“Avoid them if possible, but that cargo ship must be destroyed!”

The three Jedi vessels spilt up, charging for their target.

The Sulishti were confused. The signal was in their language, the wording exact and correct, but somehow wrong coming from a ship they had never designed. But the language was imperative, and a score of fighters led the fleet into the attack.

Honor Blade dived right, rolling, her guns ripping into a fighter, then lunged past it. Other fighters barred Lang’s way, and he grimly settled down to merely defending himself. Knight of Corellia, broke to the left, trying the same, but was quickly cut off and Master Soo-chin found herself also unable to do anything but defend herself.

Sanji was in the center. His ship dove in, blasting a pair of fighters to scrap, then was on the tail of the freighter. Her guns blasted, but Bondrant had been modified with all of this in mind. The heavy armor on her stern shrugged off the hammer blows of his guns. Rafe Morale dodged a lunging attack by a trio of Sulishti fighters. “We need to use missiles!” He shouted.

Sanji nodded, turning to the second panel, flicking on the switches arming the three missiles Kreekta carried. The ship suddenly slammed to the right, and air shrieked through a gap in the transparisteel cockpit.

Sanji reacted. He slipped his air mask on, still setting the panel. A red light flashed. The burst had shredded the missile bay.

“Rafe get us out of here!” He spun. Rafe would never smile at him again. A shell had blown his head open. He remembered Yodai back on Coruscant when he had gone to the Admiralty.

Master no sense it makes that I must not go.

Padawan, your time has not yet come. Stay here you will. You will be a Padawan Teacher on the dawn, as you deserve

Place beside you I belong.

Trust in the Force. You are needed here. Where I go you won’t follow yet.

Sanji closed his eyes, then opened them, flipping the switches that transferred control from left seat to right. He turned whipping into a spin, Rafe’s hands following his, still locked on the controls by his death. Sure my young friend. Help me. I couldn’t do this without you.

He raised the nose, running down the side of the massive ship, then turned, boring toward the dead center of mass. If he hit it just right-

An instant before impact a shell from a heavy projector smashed the nose of Kreekta. Sanji was killed instantly. He never knew that he had not only failed, but done so catastrophically.

Kreekta had been blown into a sharp turn, aiming not at the side of the massive freighter or at the bow, which might have helped. Instead she rammed the portside stern of Bondrant, exploding. Engines disabled, the ship continued her plunge, actually pushed into a much better angle by that helpful tap. The ship whipped around the atmosphere at less than 25 kilometers altitude station keeping thrusters holding off her immolation, gas streaming from her holds as the dive shallowed out. Then it lurched, the station keeping thrusters had exhausted their fuel, the ship dipping to finally head for the surface. The gas had been evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere, sliding downward as the heavier molecules were attracted by gravity. As she began this final dive a series of small charges pushed small packets out that deployed ablative shields. Her nose glowed, and the ship fell, coming apart as it punched down through the atmosphere, then impacted into one of the giant nests of the Sulishti.

As if planned, every Sulisht ship stopped firing, every bow turned toward the plant so far away. Soo-chin felt a wave of something through the force, but it wasn’t death,

A shuttle was taking off below, but as it started to leave the atmosphere it suddenly plunged back as if afraid.

“Human ships, human ships. This is Admiral WWelldori. We have reports of widespread madness on the planet. People boarding shuttles are reporting intense fear and pain as they approach their ships. Explain.” As the signal was sent, the Sulishti fighters withdrew toward their fleet.

Soo-chin stared aghast. The com channels from the planet were inundated. More shuttles, even a warship started to lift, then suddenly settle back down on the planet.

“Admiral, a madman attacked several locations, several planets and peoples. He released a gas which drive people mad and they murder anyone around them.”

“We know of this. Our station in orbit was destroyed because of it.”

“The gas affects were discovered to be permanent in your species. We came to stop that weapon from being deployed.”

“Yet there are no reports of such a killing madness. Instead our people return to their nests and cower. The ships that were supposed to lift and repel you have refused to fly. Instead they cower unable to even leave their vessels.”

Soo-chin shook her head. “He has modified it again, somehow. Perhaps this madness is related to the chemical.”

“Perhaps. But if it has caused our people to become as they seem to be becoming, we can never travel in space again.”

“No Admiral.” She snapped. “You and your crews still can. If your race is to survive, you must not go home. If you and your crews value the lives of their race. Wish to protect them still, do not attempt to land of Sulisht.” She considered. “Anision is still available. You can start a new society there.”

“Too far. We must build a new station. One free of this contagion.” There was a long pause. “One that our own people below can never visit for fear of this madness spreading.”

“We will bring your case before the Galactic Trade Authority. Once we have discovered a way to cleanse what must come to you from below, we can begin shipping it in sealed and depressurized lighters.”

“We have no choice.” The Admiral finally answered. “To protect our people, we can never go home. Guide us in this Master Jedi.”
*****

The talks went on for several days.

Soo-chin stared at the planet. From below the com lines were still open, but all were filled with the fear these people now had. Even flights from place to place on the surface had ceased. WWelldori had acted as the mediator between the planet and the Jedi, and while long and convoluted, for once the Sulishti and the Humans above were working to the same point rather than at cross purposes.

Message torpedoes had gone out, and ships began popping out on the last day of the meeting. Coruscanti cargo vessels loaded with formed metals to begin construction, tools for working it, and several manufactories designed just for the Sulishti to operate. It would take the better part of a year, but one of the first ships reported that a Czerka Corporation was sending a full scale repair dock to arrive within the month so that the Sulishti fleet in orbit could be maintained.

“How long do you think this will last?” She asked.

Padawan Losian her student shrugged. “The natives or the contagion?”

“The affects on races other than the Sulishti?”

“Maybe forever. Until we have a measure of how this chemical was manufactured and how it degrades, it’s too soon to tell.”

“Record it. Record it all.” She sighed. “Honor Blade, this is Knight of Corellia. Deploy the warning buoys.” Both ships turned, and they seeded the space with glittering gems. As each fell from the ship, it activated.

Warning, Planet Sulishti has been affected by a chemical weapon lethal several species. Do not land under any circumstances. This agent is deadly, and will remain deadly for an estimated minimum of 20,000 years. All communication with the planet is via Station Omega 1 in orbit. This is your only warning. A few moments later, it repeated, each buoy covering a different band, in every known language.

Finally Knight of Corellia broke the silence “Come on, Lang. There’s nothing we can do.”

The two ships turned, headed away.

Char Ell
04-29-2006, 11:07 AM
Hey! You had a double-post of Too Late. Did you know that you can delete a post if you want through a "delete message" option in the edit post feature. :)

I felt the honor of Sanji's death, even though his decision to sacrifice his life to prevent the cargo vessel from reaching the planet was rendered useless. In my view his decision to turn kamikaze was the only choice he had left if he still wanted to save the planet. As so often happens during the course of battle he became a victim of circumstance and his effort rendered useless. That doesn't mean that his sacrifice shouldn't be remembered and honored.

I thought the planet went all crazy rather too quickly. I grant you that you've stated in a previous chapter that the freighter had enough gas to poison an entire planet's atmosphere but would the gas have dissipated throughout Sulisht's atmosphere that quickly? I definitely can see how the hive the freighter crashed into was affected as well as the surrounding 100 kilometers or so but I don't understand how the entire planet would have been affected that fast.

machievelli
04-30-2006, 12:02 AM
Did I mention I've never studied British naval history? :)
OK, I know about Nelson, but only because of a class on Fr. Revolution/Napoleon.

Not to worry. I studied it for you.

Question, I'm trying to remember the name for a reaction when a chemical such as caffeine in an adult, which causes them to be hyped up, causes a young child to go to sleep or relax instead?

Jae Onasi
04-30-2006, 12:40 AM
Not to worry. I studied it for you.

Question, I'm trying to remember the name for a reaction when a chemical such as caffeine in an adult, which causes them to be hyped up, causes a young child to go to sleep or relax instead?

Paradoxical effect. (you'd think it'd sound more Latin/Greek than that. :) For once someone called a med term by what it actually does.)
Usually refers to the stimulants used to treat ADD/ADHD.

machievelli
04-30-2006, 02:19 AM
I have edited the last chapter so that I have removed the 'miraculous' destruction. The next chapter follows. Two more to go before Part one of the 2nd book is complete.

Jae Onasi
04-30-2006, 09:51 AM
Speaking of stickies (I know we weren't but I was thinking about it) I may post a thread on 'Resources' and if stingerhs wants to sticky it, then he can. I also thought that since a million of us ask you how to get a review, but don't read the entire critic's corner right off to get the info, you might want a separate 'So you want to get reviewed' thread, which would include info on how to submit and the recommendation to spellcheck/edit/etc. You know, the things you repeat for all of us. :)

You'd think I'd be more interested in naval history with my dad being a Navy man, but it just doesn't float my boat.

machievelli
04-30-2006, 12:16 PM
Speaking of stickies (I know we weren't but I was thinking about it) I may post a thread on 'Resources' and if stingerhs wants to sticky it, then he can. I also thought that since a million of us ask you how to get a review, but don't read the entire critic's corner right off to get the info, you might want a separate 'So you want to get reviewed' thread, which would include info on how to submit and the recommendation to spellcheck/edit/etc. You know, the things you repeat for all of us. :)

I'd love it. Now if only I could get paid. To tell you all the truth I haven't had this much fun in ages. Reviewing, editing, critiquing is fun because I can act as a teacher, somthing I would never get hired to do.

You'd think I'd be more interested in naval history with my dad being a Navy man, but it just doesn't float my boat.


Kid, I fell in love with military history when I watched an old movie called the 300 Spartans. I started studying anything and everything related to it. I can give you reasons for why a war began (Except for the Iraq mess, which makes absolutely no sense at the start) which go beyond the history books, and lay out how weapons changed warfare. I served in the Coast Guard, and my special love was Naval warfare for about fifteen years.

Jae Onasi
04-30-2006, 04:04 PM
I'd love it. Now if only I could get paid. To tell you all the truth I haven't had this much fun in ages. Reviewing, editing, critiquing is fun because I can act as a teacher, somthing I would never get hired to do.


One of the reasons I didn't finish the history PhD--there's no jobs. That, and while studying history of medicine, I missed actually being in the med field.


Kid, I fell in love with military history when I watched an old movie called the 300 Spartans. I started studying anything and everything related to it. I can give you reasons for why a war began (Except for the Iraq mess, which makes absolutely no sense at the start) which go beyond the history books, and lay out how weapons changed warfare. I served in the Coast Guard, and my special love was Naval warfare for about fifteen years.

:lol: You are just too kind with 'kid'....I've celebrated multiple anniversaries of my 29th b-day.
Iraq--I don't think we'll get too far on that til some documents get declassified. Watching Villepin and Powell debate in the UN prior to the war was fascinating.
The scuttlebutt among folks in the military (which I take with as much salt as I do any other gossip) is that they thought they were seeing WMDs moving, worried about Saddam doing something idiotic (esp to Israel, since he'd tossed some Scuds over there in the other war), and thought that Saddam was financing some of the terrorist cells. They also think the WMDs were transported just over the border in Syria and we don't want to go in and stir things up there. My thought is if they had enough nerve gas to take out an entire Kurdish village, they likely had at least chem weapons around somewhere. The fact that Saddam was thumbing his nose at the UN resolutions didn't help.

machievelli
04-30-2006, 05:23 PM
Captive

Breia shook her head. She knew what had hit her. A sonic stunner circuit connected directly to the very internal communications system. It felt like someone had played a rather nasty game of Parpan with her head.

Her eyes opened. She was slung against a wall, tightly wrapped in plastic as if a spider had hung her for a meal. At a small table a few meters away, Landru sat, staring out the clearsteel at the panorama of Fondor. She sensed to her left and right. She was the only one on the wall. What of Amberdon?

“I am sorry. Your Padawan died.” Came a soft voice from the table. Landru sipped the bitter wine he had chosen for this moment. He looked up at his teacher. “There are some more susceptible to a sonic blast. I had not considered it.”

"What does one more death matter?" She asked.

He shrugged. "I had no animosity toward such a noble man. You have always chosen the noble kind of people for Padawan I have seen."

“Had you considered how many hundred of thousands would die when you created that hell weapon?”

“Yes I did.” He stood. “I am building a new world, a world without sin, where no devil with six legs can ever dwell ever again.”

“So a quarter million people had to die so you can live in this new world?”

“So I could create it.” He turned, walking toward the panels. He reach out, touching them as if he could hold the planet in his hand. “I don’t plan on living there, and they would not let me if tried. Don’t you see I know what I have become. I have not only cast aside everything you taught me, I used it to help me. I have become a monster that has only one reason to live, and once that reason is gone, I will leave the stage to those who deserve it without taking a bow. My name will be cursed for centuries, and no one will remember quite why I have done what I have.

“Remember the old legend of the Wanderers? Cast into space for two generations, led by a man that knew where they were bound, but unable to tell them where? If you remember he reached that new world, but died before he could set foot on it. Remembered now only for the voyage.” He pointed. “There, the red spot? That is my home town. Where I was born. Where my family lived until the consortium chose our planet for their vision of a better Galaxy.” She could sense the anguish he felt. “That red is Kusberi. It grows rapidly and is incredibly invasive. The Sulishti scattered spores of it throughout the northern hemisphere. They have been carried by the winds throughout the planet. There are little sprigs of the filth everywhere.

“None of my family survived that. Kusberi has a secondary effect that the Sulishti didn’t bother to mention. It is an allergen of exceptional strength. The pollen causes severe reactions in some people specifically humans.

“No one bothered to discover this until it was too late. Not the Sulishti, not the Companies that belong to the other races, not the governments.

“Oh the Conglomerate developed a medication eventually, when they had problems with their own people. But it isn’t for us. Unless a Fondorian works for the Conglomerate, they aren’t allowed to have it. Instead they offered compensation and relocation.

“Compensation! My family is extremely susceptible. My father died choking on his own vomit because the Conglomerate couldn‘t be bothered! When I heard I tried to go home, but the Conglomerate requires tests now for anyone coming to my home world. I was more susceptible if that is possible. I stood here!“ He pointed at the deck at his feet. “Here while watching my father’s pyre. My sister’s, my mother’s both of my younger brother’s. Unable to even touch that beloved flesh when they died. I can never go home because doing so will kill me as surely as it killed my family. A lot of my people have already died.

“Then I had to consider who is worse? The animals that needed a special diet, or the ones that strip mined mountains into pits for materials? That have let a quarter million people die rather than supply a vaccine because it will cut into their profits? It will take ten millennia or more before the planet can heal what they have caused if they stopped today. Ten thousand years of anguish for my people which can’t even start until the occupation ends.

“The Trade Authority-”

“The Trade Authority has only one rule. Trade must continue. No planet has the right to gainsay them in that holy quest.” Landru turned back. He motioned, and a droid moved forward. “Lower her and bring her, please.”

The droid, a version of the L7 Police units of Corellia slid her down off the wall, carrying her upright to be held before Landru.

“Don’t you think I tried, that We-” he waved back toward the planet, “didn’t try? Every time we found a sympathetic judge, we were forestalled. On Corellia, on Coruscant, on Ryloth, even on Nal Hutta, our injunctions would be filed, and on each planet other judges on higher courts struck them down.

“We tried one last time. I asked the Order for arbitration in the name of our people. What did we get?” He snarled. “Your precious council on Coruscant would only ‘study the problem’. They would ‘advise’ that there be a moratorium to discover if Kusberi could be rendered less dangerous to humans. They would try to convince the Conglomerate to suspend mining.”

“Zardan, the order does not have the authority to force governments to change. To force companies to do things a better way. That is what governments are for.

“And every government I mentioned except the Sulishti are controlled by the companies they would try to rein in. Eventually they would finally do so. What are a few hundreds of thousand of additional lives in that mix?” He motioned. “My people are still sick, they are still dying. If you were born on Fondor, living there is a death sentence issued at birth, thanks to the Sulishti.

“The Sulishti were the worst. To them all other races are either impediments, or background noise. They only speak to us when they want to. I went myself after I left the order. No hive officials would recognize my need, my pleas. I was detritus in the road to them.

“This is an excuse for killing-”

“Half a million of our people died while that went on!” He screamed. “Half a million people that did no harm to anyone. That weren’t important because they weren’t stockholders, didn’t vote on boards, didn’t live on Coruscant or one of the other worlds that decided to use our home as a factory and garbage dump.” He calmed, “I am merely returning that favor.”

He turned back to the screen. “Down there, fifty kilometers from my home, I have decided to put and end to it. When I am through the Galaxy will have to give us that ten thousand years.”

“So now you execute your own people?” She asked softly. “How does that balance the scales?”

“Kill them?” He laughed gently. “No my dear teacher. I am going to save them.”

*****

The Jedi in the second flight were rocked by the deaths of almost an entire race. The worst of it was there was no way to communicate between them. Traveling in hyper space was not unlike digging a hole, getting in it and filling it back in. Nothing went into that abyss that did not go in with you.

Yaka was affected worse than Breia was. She had felt death before, close enough because she had been dealing it. But the gentle Ithorian had never felt violent death beyond what was natural on his world, and that which happened by misadventure in a city. This was a weight that bore him down on his knees weeping. Breia was a little better off, but she held him as he cried not only for a race, but for those who had had done it, led by one of their order.

Aboard Padawan Rees of Coruscant. Newly appointed Padawan teacher Yodai locked himself in his room, weeping silently, rocking as he did. I failed you master he thought. [/i]I was not there to help you, protect you, and if failing die with you. How did you know?[/i]

Board Knight of Coruscant, Master Hobart wept for the Sulishti, for a student he had known for three decades, and in his heart for Breia Sookor. Even now he knew she could feel Sanji’s death. How much more pain could she take?

*****

Breia had decided that she had quite enough of hanging like a trophy on Landru’s wall. She felt around her clothes, and came to an alarming discovery. Landru had removed every bit of metal and plastic from her clothing while she was unconscious. For decades she had used her blindness ruthlessly when dealing with enemies. No one considered a blind woman as a real danger, and a blind old woman was even less so. She had always secreted blades and Cnifta darts through her clothes sowing them like crops she would need in the future, and had never been failed by them. Not this time.

She had never considered that anyone who was an enemy would ever know her this well.

Landru came into the room, looking out of the window again with a hungry look “I just received the message torpedo from the Monastery meant for you. My plan has worked beyond my wildest expectations. I had assumed the Monastery would send ships to stop the ship from crashing on Sulisht. I never imagined I had judged the Sulishti so poorly. They not only stopped the Jedi, allowing my plan to work, but when they discovered that it allowed their own people to be eliminated, they went home” He shook his head in wonder. “They went home and died with them.”

“This pleases you?” She snapped. “You have committed genocide and you’re pleased?”

“No.” His eyes grew sad. “That my people will no longer suffer because of them pleases me. That instead of living more years trying to hunt the last of them down I can end it pleases me. All the pleasure I gained was that my plan had worked. You taught me to enjoy a perfect plan clicking from beginning to flawless fruition. The few remnants of the species will die out, and good riddance.” He looked through the window again. Beyond it, Feradi awaited his signal. He punched in the codes, and the ship drove toward the planet below. “One more piece needs to be in position, and my task is done.” He turned. “I cannot allow you to stop me, but I do not want your death on my conscience, Master. I must wait for the rescue that will come. Only then will it all come together as it must.”

“You must stop. Millions will die.” Breia pleaded. “Think of the children!”

He maneuvered the distant robot vessel with finicky care, placing Feradi in orbit above his home at less than fifty miles altitude. Once it was there, held only by orbital mechanics, he leaned back, turning to face her.

“No. I have made an estimate. 62,500 more will die. None of them Fondorian.” He smiled sadly. “My last legacy. My last slap in the face at those who wish to treat my home as a garbage pit. My death will follow within hours.” He turned. “For my family, for my people. For my beloved dead. It ends here today.”

machievelli
04-30-2006, 11:48 PM
Cordon Sanitaire

Like avenging angels three couriers dropped out of hyperspace. Ahead of them approximately 14000 kilometers away was the bulk of the docks in orbits.

“Master, there is a ship registering as the Feradi in very low orbit of the planet.” Padawan Mooroli reported, the Lekku of his head weaving gently.

“Any sign of Millennium Falcon?”

“Yes sir.” He keyed a button, flashing a holo up. “The Falcon is in the boat bay of this small station in orbit approximately 50 kilometers higher.” He flinched. “Feradi is in motion. Dropping downward. The station is deorbiting. It will hit atmosphere in ten minutes.”

“Stop it I will, Master Hobart.”

“Do that, Yodai.” Hobart considered. There were too few of them. The people in shuttles headed for the planet had to be warned, as did the massive stations in orbit as well. But Breia was also in danger...

“Padawan Solo, go to Master Sookor’s rescue. I will go to the command station and quarantine everyone who has come up from the planet. We don’t have a lot of time.”

“On it.” Padawan Sani of Naboo swept down into a tight turn. “Padawan Reiger, you have to play shepherd. Do not let any more shuttles approach the planet. If they refuse to stop, fire a warning burst. If they still fail, fire to disable.” Without a word Knight of Ossus turned onto it’s new course.

“For all, may the Force be with us.” Knight of Coruscant turned toward the stations ahead, radio waves already reaching out.

*****
“Sir, these shuttles are scheduled up to 48 hours in advance. We cannot just cut the planet off-”

“Almost a half million people are already dead and you’re saying you can’t stop shuttles because it will interfere with your schedule? There are over sixty thousand of your own workers on the planet, along with three and a half million Fondorians and your precious schedule is more important?” Hobart asked coolly.

“Well I-”

Hobart continued ruthlessly. “Since this conversation is being recorded I ask you again; Which is more important, your precious schedule or more lives!”

The man swallowed, and his voice was quavering. He hit a button and an alarm klaxon sounded. “All stations, cease launching and recovering planet bound shuttles. I repeat., all stations, cease launching and recovering planet bound shuttles. All stations go to defensive fire plan Beta. All defensive systems on active.

“All shuttles approaching planet Fondor. Do not enter atmosphere, I repeat, all shuttles approaching planet Fondor. Do not enter atmosphere.

“All shuttles on approach from planet Fondor, go to area grid Zed Alpha Niner, hold until called for. Any and I repeat any attempt to dock before you have been cleared will cause your destruction. Defensive systems on all station are now active.” He switched off. “Satisfied?”

“Not until this menace is taken care of.

*****

Padawan Rees of Coruscant dived howling into the upper atmosphere. Below it, barely traveling mach 7, was Feradi. “All weapons active.” Yodai ordered. He turned to his console. The ship had made three circuits of the planet before he had closed the range, and the gas that was venting stopped. A series of smaller canisters had been spraying outward on this orbit instead of gas, but Yodai wasn‘t taking any chances. The Proton torpedo dropped, slamming forward at almost a tenth of light speed. The launch and the explosion that shredded the ship into flinders happened almost simultaneously.

“What about the canisters?” Padawan Samsun asked.

“Too small to target they are. Hope we must that people not there when they land.”

The canisters spun madly on their descent, steadying to drop almost straight down as they cleared a kilometer’s height. At a quarter kilometer, very small charges peeled them open like ripe fruit, dispensing flocks of bird into the air. On the night side they settled down, going to sleep automatically. But on the day side, the air was filled with deadly song.

*****
“Shuttle Alpha two niner, this is Jedi courier Knight of Ossus. You will immediately come right to two zero niner and proceed to area Zed Alpha Niner as instructed.”

“Knight of Ossus. we are closer to Fondor ground one. Will proceed-”

Padawan Reiger keyed the guns. He had purposely offset by seven degrees, a distance of just 200 meters in front of the plunging shuttle’s bow. The tracers shot past like bolts of livid fire. The shuttle leaped upward like a fly attempting to escape.

“Mayday, mayday! This is shuttle Alpha two niner! We are under attack!

“Shuttle Alpha two niner, that was your only warning shot. I am dialing the weapons to center of vehicle mass.” Reiger, a tall man with long ash blonde hair and cold eyes leaned into his microphone. “You have five second to comply.” He then began counting calmly.

At four the shuttle lifted back toward orbit.

“Shuttle Alpha two niner, I will warn you that if you attempt to head anywhere except Area Zed Alpha Niner, we do carry four missiles. You will get a first hand look at what they can do out to three light seconds distance.”

Sullenly the shuttle did exactly what it had been told to do.

“Master Reiger. I though the range of our missiles was only two point five light seconds.”

“Really? You mean I lied to that man?” His look was so innocent that Padawan Diera Coori laughed.

*****
“Look, Master, they approach as I anticipated.” Landru opened the boat bay, dispassionately watching Millennium Falcon flip end for end as the air blew it away from the station.

“I do hope someone saves the ship.” He commented. “We spent a lot of years aboard that ship.”

“Yes. “ Breia sighed. “Enough to know that you have gone insane my apprentice.”

“Apprentice.” He sighed, looking back at her with love in his eyes. “You may not know it, but you saying that word takes me so far back.”

“Back before murder was an option.”

“After I am dead, and you see what I have done, at least someone will understand.” He turned away, all business again. “Only one ship. A maximum of four Monks. I will deal with them, bundle you onto the ship, and send it off. Goodbye, Master.” He slipped a pair of earplugs into his ears into his ears, and touched the key for the sonic projector.

*****
As Padawan Sani of Naboo settled on the deck, Yaka found himself humming. An atonal wail from all four throats simultaneously. He almost stopped, but it suddenly struck him.

There was a predator on his home world called a Shrieker. It attacked by first stunning it’s prey with a supersonic wail, then stung the victim to death and fed on the body. His people had developed the same atonal wail to protect themselves and when struck by such an attack, the instinctively gave out this humming sound. Beside him Breia Solo gave a shriek of pain, holding her ears in agony. He stood, still wailing, and ran to the cargo bay. He found a set of ear protectors, sliding them on the woman as the tone died.

“What is happening?” A4’s eyes turned toward him.

“Sonic weapon. The Master is unconscious.” He turned. The droid had followed him. Can you pilot this ship?”

“That is very simple. I can-”

“This station will fall out of atmosphere in less than a minute. If I am not back you must get the ship away.”

“But you don’t have time-” The droid was talking to empty space.

*****

Yaka passed the droid carrying the unconscious Master Sookor. He could not have explained to a layman where he was going. Another Jedi would have understood that little tilt of sound or light that guided him.

The room was deep and open. A man stood at the transparisteel windows, watching as they edges of metal began to begin to glow. He looked up, taking in the Ithorian with a calm glance. “If you don’t leave immediately, you will die.”

“I am taking you with me, Landru. The dead demand it.”

“I don’t care what they demand, my young friend. I am going home.”

“If I must force you, you will come.” Yaka drew his sword, then gently lay it on the deck. Then he lumbered forward.

*****

“What is happening?” Breia Sookor snapped awake with yet another headache. There was a rather ugly droid standing over her.

“I was ordered to move this ship away and into space when one minute had elapsed.”

She stood. She was unsteady, but she had been freed. She walked over to the command seat where her young namesake lay still stunned taking her sword. “Then I suggest you obey that order.”

“But Master Sookor-”

“I have to try to save an old friend.” She dived out of the ship, running. A4 watched her go. 29 seconds and counting...

*****

Breia flew down the corridors, running against time. Even as she knew she was too late.

The room was as it had been when she had first awakened there. Only one thing was different, the crumpled body of a young Ithorian lay curiously relaxed on the floor. She turned. Landru stood at the window. “Another life.” She snapped.

He turned, tears running down his cheeks. The gun he had used to kill the young Jedi dropped from his trembling hand “He was the bravest being I have ever met. He cast away his sword to take me with his bare hands. I pointed the gun at him. Fired a warning shot! He struggled with me, it went off...” Landru fell to his knees. “Why can’t you just kill me or let me die?” He screamed. “It is done, over, and I want to go home!”

She padded toward him, standing over him like Nemesis. He looked up, eyes begging.

Breia set the sword down, kneeling to hold him. The frame of the transparisteel was burning away as the station continued it’s final plunge.

“My greatest student, my greatest failure.” She whispered.

“But you don’t understand. I didn‘t fail.”

He spoke to her, telling her all. By the end she was laughing when the transparisteel melted.

*****

Three seconds...Two seconds...One second... A4 keyed the controls. The ramp coming up even as the engines screamed. He spun the ship in place, ramming it through the opening door of the boat bay.

“Wha...” Breia Solo tried to stand, but between a blinding headache and vertigo she ended up sprawled on the deck. Around her she could feel the ship shuddering as it punched up out of the atmosphere.

“Yaka...”

“Padawan Yaka left the ship intending to find Master Sookor and the enemy. He did not return. Master Sookor was brought aboard by the L7 waiting in the cargo bay. I have accessed it’s memory. A full rendition of how the gas was manufactured was in it‘s memory along with a list of everyone connected to it. Those who have not already been incarcerated will be.”

“Breia...”

“She left the ship to save an old friend in her own words. Both of them gave me a countdown to depart if they had not returned.”

“They... Are still on the station?”

“There is no station for them to be on.” The screen lit up. Behind them, the burning hulk of the station was screaming down into the atmosphere. As she watched, it landed in a circle of buildings surrounded by a deep red growth of plants. At mach 20 it was no longer metal and plastic, but an energy state eager for immolation. The equivalent of a ten kiloton warhead erased the town it fell on from the map.

She stared at it in horror. Yaka, Master Breia Sookor. Gone in a flash of light heat and sound. The com panel flashed, and she keyed it absently.

“Padawan Sani of Naboo. This is Padawan Reiger aboard Knight of Coruscant. Did you succeed?”

“No.” She whispered, sliding into the flight seat of the ship. “Padawan Yaka and Master Sookor are both dead. They rode the station down.”

“Gods.” Reiger gasped. “Join up at the command station with Master Hobart. I’ll keep this up.”

“No.” She wiped her eyes. “You need help. I will circle the containment area until all shuttles are accounted for.”

“Understood, Padawan Solo. You ride herd, I‘ll chivvy them along.”

*****

“Curious.” A4 said.

“What are you going on about now?” Breia asked dully.

“The chemical composition of the weapon.”

“What?”

“It is not stable.”

“Of course it is not stable. Creating a weapon susceptible to a sound vibration pretty much guarantees that it will be unstable.” She snapped.

“Yes. But examine these.” above the droid’s head a holo showed the artificial chemical breaking down then recombining in the Kusberi DNA. As she watched, each was highlighted. “The Sulishti specific compound has changed. It is no longer lethal, but...”

“But what?“

“It now causes a violent reaction to air pressure, making them physically sick the higher they go. The effects are similar to withdrawal from some of the nastier pain medications. An altitude of even a few hundred meters will cause physical discomfort bordering on agony.” The photo receptors swiveled. “You do know that on ships all species reduce standard air pressure to save on mass carried. Just being in a ship when they seal the hatch could be painful. It also causes a panic reaction linked directly to this in any that breathe it in the long term. Every time they try it will become worse. But these,” The other three flashed. “Are unstable. they have half lives if you will.”

“Meaning?”

“The first to dissipate into uselessness is the Human specific. It needs these key elements (Sections started to flash) which do not occur in nature. They are manufactured. 48 hours after the Kusberi begins producing it, the compound becomes this.” Another molecule subtly different appeared. “Though it does not degrade into safety for almost 2,000 years.

“the Twi-lek specific begins degrading next, but is still dangerous for 4,000 years. However when the cast off molecules interact with the degraded Human specific compound it creates this.” Another molecule again subtly different appeared. “This will begin to occur within two weeks.

“The Hutt specific will take almost 10,000 years to degrade, but the castoff molecules will combine with the newly formed Human / Twi-lek hybrid to form this within about three months.” The new molecule looked a lot like...

“Bidraxidine?”

“A naturally occurring form that does not need to be manufactured. Actually if my figures for collecting and encasing the gas in carbonite are correct it will be cheaper to merely siphon filter and bottle it there in atmosphere rather than pay for manufacture. Since the primary supplier of Bidraxidine to the Galaxy are the Hutt, they no longer have a corner on the market.

“The large molecules which are still toxic can be filtered readily, so when the plant life creates the Bidraxidine it can be sold. The species in question merely cannot go to the planet for it.

“If any Sulishti are off their home planet, they will be unable to live on a planet or travel through a station where this chemical in use unless they are willing to stay there forever.”

“What about the Ruurians Verpine-”

“Yes, in the artificial form. This agricultural form will not break free if aspirated by those races. Their adrenal analogs will not cause it to form the weapon. It is perfectly harmless.” The droid swiveled it’s eyes toward her. “However, there is one other problem with the raw gas product during that period. The only way to be perfectly safe for either Humans Hutt or Twi-lek or for species other than the Sulishti on their home world require two things. One is they have to be exposed to this gas in every form from original to reconstituted, or have been born where it is present.

“Second, they must have a quantity of Kusberi pollen in their lungs and sinus cavities equal to a minimum of six months constant exposure. Any human not already been resident on Fondor for that period of time, is in deadly danger, and no new people can move there until the initial toxin has been rendered harmless without taking the chance that some of it remains.

“The children!”

“What has not been checked by the medical staff was the affect of this gas on juvenile forms. However like most stimulants used by adults, the paradoxical effect comes into play. Even in a normal environment, a child is unaffected by this chemical. Had you noticed that most of the survivors aboard relatively undamaged stations have been children?”

She hadn‘t. Damn. But it made sense. Everyone goes mad, you are afraid, you run and hid. Somewhere they can’t reach you. A child’s idea of hiding saved you when force of arms could not. “But what of the workers from the orbital facilities?”

“They get only sporadic doses of the pollen when they are in the planet. A continued exposure to the pollen is why the native Fondorians are so badly affected. They get it constantly. But when this strikes they will be the only ones free of the weapon.

“Then there is this which is also odd.” The toxin was displayed, and beside it, a small series of molecules. “On the left is the toxin. On the right, is the primary enzme in Kusberi pollen which affects humans and especially Fondorians. When they combine...” The toxin touched the pollen, and rolled around it, the toxin matching the pollen exactly. “The toxin blocks the chemical in the Kusberi from assimilation. It is a totally natural antidote to the allergic reaction. At the same time this combination renders the toxin inert in humans but no other race.

“Oh gods.” Breia slapped her forehead. He’s created a cordon Sanitaire!’

“What?”

“A term that means ‘clean area’. He has created a place where humans can live eventually, and anyone native can remain, but no one else can.”

She looked toward the planet, shaking her head in wonder. Then turned to her duties.

*****
The final death toll was 61,428. Watching the scenes from the cameras set up in the towns created for the workers was too reminiscent of what she had seen to feel good to Breia. But the scenes from the towns where the Fondorians lived apart from the interlopers was positively pastoral. Behind he she could hear a couple of the Conglomerate board members talking.

“We’ll have to build a massive station just for R&R.” One commented. “It’ll set our growth predictions back by at least a decade.”

“No. We‘ll just raise the price on our ships 10% across the board...”

Master Hobart came up before she turned to rip someone’s head off.

*****

Breia Solo’s Journal: Looking down on the planet, I am sure that both Landru and my namesake Master Sookor are both having a good laugh at what has occurred. Two planet has been neatly excised from the galaxy, and the only people capable of settling on the other one live on the planet below me, which is under quarantine, and will be for ten millennia.

She would probably be upset with the loss of Millennium Falcon but when Knight of Ossus went back to tow her in, the ship had been spinning down into atmosphere. Master Reiger and Padawan Diera Coori swear the ship turned to point her blunt bow at the planet before her final dive. She had served one mistress since I was a baby, and refused to let anyone sail her with that mistress now dust.

There are fifty thousand workers in the, uh ‘soft’ industries still trapped down below. Read bartenders, waitresses, people of negotiable affections, you name it. People that had lived on the planet so they could batten on the workers. The one group that Landru did not work into his calculations. All there long enough for the pollen to save their lives. It will take a long time to work out a way to transport them off. Without their usual source of income, they are not happy to be there, and the Fondorians don’t want them there.

There are also 42,000 children of five different races down there and seventeen human planets as well, orphaned by the weapon. While the conglomerate is trying to find parents and relatives, there is no hurry. The Fondorians are family oriented, and every child even the Rodian and Hutt children can find homes if they wish to stay. i watched a pair of families arguing who would take a poor immature Hutt of only seventy years old. The Sulishti trapped on that world have been relocated to Delta continent. Oddly enough now that they are trapped among us, they are beginning to interact more readily with other races.

The change between the sickly people that had lived tormented by the Kusberi and the people now immune to it is astonishing. If the corporations decide they have to mine on this planet. the citizens won’t forget the mess that has been made any time soon.

They have named the small songbirds ‘Landru’s skimmer. Whether we wish to label him a villain or a hero, the people of that once tortured planet will remember his music with fondness.

Even his last act was a touch of genius. The station he rode to his death landed almost exactly on the village he had been born in, abandoned by the Fondorians for five decades. He went home, and assured no one would live there ever. Only 20,000 odd of those leeches who worked for the Conglomerate lived there.

Master Hobart told me that Breia went to her death in peace. She was still alive when the station fell into the atmosphere and he swears amused greatly just before she died. He also opined that it was the Force itself that helped Landru succeed.

Now I wonder.

The Force is within all of us. Perhaps the power of four million odd people in torment fed his ability, made his plan no matter how insane it seemed work so smoothly. The reports from Nar Shaddaa are a puzzle because no one ordered Hand personnel to lay the elaborate fields of booby traps that were discovered at the stations that had been attacked. There is no signature of who might have done it, or why. Every piece used in their manufacture were common materials and the only way to tell a Corellian ‘Room Broom’ from the Coruscanti ‘Man sweeper is by serial numbers. Everything supposedly was already aboard those stations, and you can believe it if you wish. A lot of the Military do.

Some have suggested that people on the stations that have knowledge of such things placed them during their madness, but it begs the question of the ones set up with equipment they would not have had, such as missile pods. It is the one puzzle remaining.

The Chancellor won the election with a landside, his party so firmly in power I do not expect him to be deposed any time soon. He assured that the courts martial for the officers arrested at his order were scrupulously fair. Admirals Tori Logan Nadien Charles were convicted of all charges. The only one not sent to prison was Charles, who shot himself with his own sidearm before the sentence was read. Minister Riker was stripped of his seat in the senate, and is to be tried before a civilian court. Considering everything a lawyer can do in front of a civilian court that is not allowed before a military one, the trial may begin sometime in the next decade.

We are enroute to Coruscant. I am being assigned a new Padawan learner...

Jae Onasi
05-02-2006, 12:14 AM
Sigh, very bittersweet. Enough to make me feel quite emotional about it. And that is no easy task.

machievelli
05-02-2006, 01:11 AM
Well, I have only one question for all of you.

Was Landru really that evil?

Jae Onasi
05-02-2006, 01:19 AM
I have a tough time justifying exterminating an entire species for any reason. I'm not a moral relativist. :)
I can understand how he went down that path, however.

machievelli
05-02-2006, 01:26 AM
If you read my critic column, you will notice that at least three of our young fellows (One in the Galactic Senate) have explored this subject deeply. It isn't a matter of the old miquoted 'we destroyed the village to save it'. Rather it is, as I asked, did the Force itself assist this poor man to save his people? I agree that the destruction of an entire race was a bit of an over reaction. I will probably rewrite it and instead hit the Sulishti with something else.

Tell me, Jae, could I have arranged for the toxin not to kill them all, but to make it so the only place they could live is on their home world? Requiring say a constant supply of the enzymes from the Kusberi, like an addiction complex for Barbiturates?

It would mean that the toxin would also have to alter the Kusberi on Fondor (Maybe something in the soil is fundamentally different) so that they can live on their home world but can't come to Fondor without dying?

Jae Onasi
05-02-2006, 01:42 AM
This is something you can play with. If you want to keep them tied on their planet/system exclusively, you might want to do something that prevents them from being x miles outside the atmosphere/system or something like that, or alter their hive mentality so that they never want to leave (such as changing something in their pheromones and so on), etc. You could make the xenophobia so bad that they never even want to leave their system. You could create a compound that interacts with their chemistry that means they can't leave an atmosphere of their specific chemistry, or make something unique to their planet--make it so that only their planet has the one thing they need to survive--a chemical, a bacterium/good virus/etc., the specific wavelength of their sun or planet magnetic field (though that could be reproduced I guess on a ship) etc.
Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer does it with a symbiot--once you're infected with it, you can't leave the planet for very long if at all.

If you do something to only keep them off Fondor, they can go other places.

machievelli
05-02-2006, 09:46 AM
I see what you mean. I have so many options. I will revise the chapter Too Late. Everyone give me about a week on that.

So, shall I finish book one and go on to book 2? I give the saucy 15 year old minx a name in that one.

Jae Onasi
05-02-2006, 02:54 PM
"Did the Force assist Landru in saving his people" and "Was Landru evil" are two very different questions. :) The first asks about method, the second ethics. A third question--did Landru use the Force or did the Force use him?
I can't decide on if he used or got used by the Force. Was he evil? Yes.
I don't mind Landru being a sociopath that destroys an entire planet. It's very dark side. You can be a Hannibal Lechter-level sociopath and still manage to create good from thoroughly evil acts, intentionally or unintentionally.

Just my opinion, fwiw--Sanji's method of death bugged me a bit, probably because I always feel Jedi deserve 'noble' deaths if they really have to die in stories. It's like even in death they should be contributing something positive to life.
Sure, 'bad' deaths happen in real life all too often (DUIs, GSWs, etc), but SW isn't real life. My 2 pence. :)

machievelli
05-02-2006, 03:25 PM
I am working at rewriting parts of both Too Late and Cordon Sanitaire. I think I might surprise you...

Char Ell
05-03-2006, 02:13 AM
I give two thumbs up :thumbsup: :thumbsup: for Republic Dawn for compelling characters, lots of hi-powered action, and a plot that really grabs hold of the reader. Well, at least one reader anyway. :D

machievelli
05-03-2006, 02:40 AM
Posts 60 (Too Late) and 69 (Cordon Sanitaire) have been rewritten to reflect Jae's comments.

Post 79 is the end of part one.

machievelli
05-03-2006, 02:57 AM
The never ending mission...

Padawan Dame Breia Solo stood before the line of ships. After discovering the gift of the Coruscanti Chancellor had given, Corellia Ryloth and even Nal Hutta had not wanted to be left out. She thought they had given their gift only to assure that they were thought of fondly by the Jedi, but that might be her own cynicism talking.

Of course the Hutt had supplied ships built by the Kuati, but it was the thought after all.

Seven medium cargo vessels were already en route to the other planets where the Order had Monasteries, one for each. The courier class ships given had been divided up so every one of the eight monasteries had four, and just to show equanimity, they had been split up so everyone was represented on the core systems. She sighed. While each of the other cargo ships were as yet unnamed, (Merely being called Jedi transport one to seven) there were more than enough names in the rolls of their dead for each of the couriers to receive names. Master Hontu was the only one with a cargo ship named after him.

She walked down the line. At the end was the computer panel, and she knew by asking it the list would be displayed. Every name of those 32 ships would strike a cord in her heart. She had known or learned of every one of them.

Only four were assigned to Coruscant. Four of the ships gleamed before her on the tarmac beside her own, waiting for their next assignments. Their crews, their missions...

Their deaths.

Padawan Sani of Naboo was remaining assigned to Coruscant along with three others. She could think of nothing that fit what they had lost more this last month than the ships that still sat waiting.

She reached up to touch the nose of each. Master Sookor of Echana, A sleek arrowhead shape like her own Hawk Flight. She would go on to Ossus as soon as a flight crew could be assigned. Master Gretu of Triseki, the sweeping lines of the Ryloth shipyards. And Padawan Yaka of Ithor. He would have probably been confused if he’d seen the ship that represented him. Irony was something he hadn’t mastered.

The Kuati designed ships that were not only fast, but heavily armed. Not two but 3 chain guns, a rotary fast reload launcher with six missiles. It looked like a pirate, named after the most gentle being she had ever known.

Padawan teacher Yodai was bouncing down the lane toward the tarmac, Padawan Learner Samsun though almost three times his height was almost jogging to keep up.

“Bought all the stores you have?” Yodai asked.

“Yes, master.”

“And tea is fully stocked?”

“Of course, Master.”

“Then leave we can?”

“If you let me go to the bathroom first!”

Yodai stopped, looking up at the tall man. “Should have gone before we left.”

Samsun stared at him, then grinned. “That’s a joke, right?”

“Joke I never do.” Yodai turned, an eyelid dropping in a lazy wink at Breia. “Ready you are Padawan Solo?”

Breia shook her head. “I am still waiting for my new Padawan learner.” She sighed. “Perhaps you should allow Samsun to run to the bathroom before we leave?”

“Control very important. Younglings must learn control. Of everything.” He glanced slyly at the young man. “Bladders especially.”

“All right, I know that was a joke!”

The elders chuckled. He dashed aboard Master Gretu of Triseki.

“Assigned you are where?”

“I am off to Mandalore. They want to have a Jedi handle the negotiations between the hiring authority and the Duros. And you?”

“To Lortu I am bound. End the war with Berodilo and Duloc they wish.”

“It’s about time. That war is older than I am.”

A figure in robe was walking toward them. Breia’s heart stopped. Yaka?

The Ithorian stopped, bowing. “Masters.”

They acknowledged her. She turned to Breia. “Master Solo, I am Meeri. I have been assigned as your Padawan Learner.”

“How did you do in sword training?”

“While I do not like the idea of using a weapon, I understand that it might become necessary.”

“It might.” Breia agreed. “Can you cook?”

“This is not something I learned, Master.”

“Call me Breia. The one thing to remember is that most beings do not eat all of their food raw. I can cook, but there will be times when I am too busy with the problem we are dealing with to cook, so you will have to learn some cooking.” She turned, walking toward Hawk Flight. “The first thing you will learn to cook is one of my old apprentice’s favorites. They are called Pancakes. As long as you stay away from the Coruscanti glow spice syrup and the Fire spice syrup. ..

Renegade Puma
05-03-2006, 06:21 AM
Bravo, bravo...... Great job Machievelli, keep it up. Reading your story is such a pleasure.

machievelli
05-03-2006, 02:14 PM
Confrontation

It looked like an easy prize. One bumbling Corellian CEC J8 class medium cargo carrier with a Corellian Courier in escort. The planet Selden had reported a massive outbreak of Iridian plague, and the first ships with the necessary vaccine was ahead of them. The vaccine was worth it’s weight in Corellian fire opals on the black market.

The Pirate, an old Coruscanti Raptor class Escort slipped from the asteroid field, launching her four fighters. The fighters were a more eclectic mix. The newest was A Naboo A4 Streak. Two were Corellian Rampants, and the last was an ancient Alderaani Night Hawk.

The fighters dived in, headed for a choice morsel.

*****

“Three, two, one, disconnect.” The pilot of the Courier ordered, ramming the throttle forward.

*****

The sensor screened blossomed. The freighter seemed to be coming apart in front of their eyes. Had it exploded? No, now there were five blips instead of two, and three of them were arcing back toward the fighters. One was charging instead for the mother ship. The transponders on every one of those ships came alive at the same instant.

“Jedi!” The sensor officer screamed.

“Get us out of here!” The captain ordered.

The Courier fired a missile. The captain blanched. He’d never seen a missile that fast before. At least 25% light speed. Must be one of the brand new Corellian Spearfish.

The missile slammed into the side, buckling the hull, but didn’t explode.

“Ha!” The captain roared, waving his fist. “Get us out of here before they know we’re still here!”

“Just a second.” The navigator finished his calculations, and the escort vanished into hyper space. Unperturbed, the courier turned on a wing, joining her fellows. The fighters were shredded, and cables snapped out to drag the emergency support pods back to the cargo ship, which had turned to meet them. Suited personnel climbed out, pulling the pods in one by one, and the cargo hatch closed.

Master Hobart came in after the bay was re-pressurized, followed by his new Padawan learner Sienna Dodonna. They went to the pod that had come from the Streak. The pilot wearing a full helmet glared at them and waved a pistol threateningly.

Sienna smiled, then drew, her blade punching through the transparisteel, into the pistol. She jerked, and the blade sliced out of the cockpit, chopping the pistol in half in the process. She pulled the exterior release handle, and smiled again as the cockpit canopy came open. “Any more acts of defiance? Please?”

He raised the uninjured hand, and before she could react a blade shot out of it and was imbedded in his head.

The helmet revealed that he was a Barabel.

The other three were Barabel as well. None survived. One had been injured and bled out. The other two had taken their own lives.

“I thought that one would have just given up.” The girl grumped. “It’s not like he had a chance to escape.”

“Tight operational security.” Hobart replied. “If we can’t interrogate them, we can’t find out hiding place. They think.”

They went forward. The flight crew nodded at them, and the communications officer turned. “We got it, Master Hobart.”

“Send it to all units.” The Young Jedi nodded, tapping a button, then hit the all units key.

“So. Weslen.” One voice, another female replied. “Are you coming with?”

“No. I will let the children flit along on those one while the old man follows behind, Padawan Solo.”

“As you will.” The voice went from light to business-like. “All couriers, match your nav computers to mine. Prepare for hyper jump.” Hawk Flight dropped one wing, and the four small ships rotated onto the new course. A moment later they were gone.

The Cargo vessel Master Hontu turned onto the same course, and entered Hyper.

“ETA 2 days.” The pilot reported.

“They’ll be there in 17 hours.” Sienna sighed. “I wish I was with them.”

“That is why you are still a Padawan leaner, even with your gift for conciliation.” Hobart replied calmly. “That and the way you dress.”

“There is that.” She gave him a gamin grin. A number of marines who had been on the assault on station Alpha 4, especially 2nd squad second platoon of the 7th Marine Assault Force would have recognized the 19 year old by that grin alone. Her eyes twinkled. “But what’s wrong with the way I dress?” She asked, throwing her arms to the side. Am I not a girl?” She waved toward her clothes. The skirt, which on most Jedi was merely a robe had been slit up both sides to her hips, and then folded into Vees front and back, exposing quite shapely legs. The sleeves had been cut off at the shoulders, and the vest...

He sighed. “Sienna. The way you dress anyone with eyes in their head can tell you’re female. And any human man that sees you is well aware that he is a man.” Hobart closed his eyes. Leave it to Soo-chin to saddle him with this girl! “However we Jedi try to be a little more... circumspect.”

“As my sister the Navy Captain used to say before she became stodgy, if you got it flaunt it!”

He shook his head again. “Sienna I spoke with the Marines after the Alpha 4 attack.”

“What did those dear boys have to say?” She looked at him with that innocent expression she did so well.

“Those dear boys all seemed to think you wanted to date them! Right up to the Master Gunnery Sergeant old enough to be your grandfather!”

“All I did was say what Grandpapa always does.” She grinned again. “I never understood why you would ask a stupid question like ‘do you want to live forever‘! Most people I know would say ‘hell yes’! But Marines?” She chuckled. “Ask them something like that and they charge!”

“As soon as you can show me some propriety, we can discuss perhaps assigning you as a Padawan Teacher.” He said reprovingly.

“Yes Master.” He left. The two Padawan at the controls chuckled.

“Cold shower or meditation?” The pilot asked.

“Both.” Sienna said.

They laughed.

*****

The four ships dropped out in the Weslen system. There wasn’t much there, a lackluster little K0 star, three planets that looked as if they were embarrassed by their proximity, and a space station.

“Receiving data.” Padawan Meeri reported. Breia looked at the screen.
Padawan Sani of Naboo was tucked in tight on her left, Master Gretu of Triseki, Padawan Yaka of Ithor echeloned on her right. A standard finger four formation.

“Quick conference, people, and we’ll go in. The station is owned by a Twi-lek corporation, or was the last I heard. A way station between Bilbringi and Bogden and the Corellian Run. Anyone else got better data?”

“Sold it was two years ago.” Yodai replied from Master Gretu of Triseki. “Coruscant company Wayfarer Enterprises.”

“Wayfarer. That’s pretty new.” Padawan Carola Mortai of Alderaan added from [/i]Padawan Yaka of Ithor[/i]. They only started trading on the Stock market right before the Sulishti mess.”

“Has anyone noticed that the company is not run by humans?” Padawan Reyes of Corellia asked. “How many companies registered out of Coruscant are run by aliens?”

“Sixty-two.” Breia and Yodai chorused.

“That many?”

“Center of Galactic Trade Alliance Coruscant has become.” Yodai said. “Register on Coruscant, makes you important some think.”

“All right people. Reset transponders. Meeri, pick a number between one and ten. Everyone pick one of your own. Whoever is closest goes in first. Remember, we’re just honest independent couriers doing our jobs, so act like the straights, okay?”

It came down to Reyes, the newest of the Padawan teachers going first, followed by Yodai, Carola, and Breia last. She watched as each ship peeled out of the formation. “I think you jigger the numbers when I ask you to do that?”

“Do what?” Meeri asked.

“I ask you to pick a number on these joint missions, and if mine is even close someone else goes first anyway.”

“Would I do that to you?” The Ithorian asked with a hurt expression.

“In a heartbeat.”

Meeri shook her head. “I am only surprised that it took you so long to figure it out.”

“All right, just for that I hide the Calla berry syrup!”

“That’s mean.”

Breia shook her head. Yaka had been serious, and careful around humans. Meeri... She was a practical joker. The deadpan delivery was so well done you could rarely tell when she was joking. Her first such jape, replacing Breia’s favorite Fire Spice syrup with Alderaan honey Breia had at first merely assumed was a mistake in commissary services. When it had been replaced with Corellian Night Bloom midway through, that first trip she had finally figured it out.

“Time.” Meeri smoothly accelerated. She touched the com panel, looking at the heads up display. “Independent Echani Courier Flitter-bird requesting docking approach.”

“Flitter-bird. Docking bay 17 is open. Welcome to station Kroomerik.”

“They didn’t change the name registry.” Breia mused. I wonder why? Where is the target?”

Meeri checked the scanner. The limpet transmitter that they had fired into the Raptor ’s hull came back just fine. “All systems down. Docking bay 19. Two over starboard.”

“Can we access their nav computer again?”

“I would advise against it.” Meeri commented. “We had best wait until they power back up for departure.”

Breia sighed. Patience was not one of her virtues.

The station was a large wheel about five kilometers across. A docking bay was set about every 100 meters along her 16 kilometers of hull, broken by four huge storage bays. Ever since they had contacted the station, they had been bombarded by the shops of the station. If they had needed anything, it could have been bought here. Breia’s face grew grim as an ad for a ships’ chandler came up. One hell of a lot of ship board and personal weapons were being sold out of that place. She called down for a list, and leaned back, looking it over.

“Aren’t the Merr Sohn G14s on the restricted list?”

“Yes.” Meeri looked at the photo on the pad. The G14 was a heavy projectile rifle that would put a round through the ship they were on. “They are supposed to be military and military export only.”

“And look at this. Arkanian missiles I have never even heard of!”

Meeri looked again. “GT17s.” She looked at Breia with alarm. “Those are so new not even the Arkanian Navy has them!”

“Verpine hyper rifles, Cortech grenades in every flavor-”

“Humans taste grenades?”

“An expression.” Breia looked at her sourly. She could tell she had been twitted yet again. Look at this.” She handed the pad over as they docked.

Another ad was now displayed. It was for a ship retailer. The ad was below a ship that shouldn’t even bee seen yet. “A CEC Swift!” Meeri looked up. “The Swift isn’t even completed yet!”

“I know. Dad is still flying the test models.

“Yet this... ‘Delivery can be arranged by the end of the year‘.”

Breia tapped the pad against her hand. “What do we have bound for Weslen?”

“Nothing. But we do have a package meant for them.” Meeri tapped the logo for the arms dealer they had been checking. “And a few additions to the package would not be amiss.”

“Then we had best get dressed for out little play.”

Renegade Puma
05-04-2006, 06:09 AM
Yay! Meeri and Breia are back! Woo hoo! Can't wait to see where this story goes.

machievelli
05-05-2006, 12:28 PM
Investigation

“Captain Breia Magulagi.” Breia said, handing over the ship ID chit. The customs man nodded, slotting it into his reader, and scanned it quickly. Breia had assumed the customs check was merely proforma, but it hadn’t been the case. He checked crew medical records, last port of call in case of disease, and cargo.

“Just the one crate?” He asked as a coffin sized box was lowered.

“Yes. Addressed to Cariali Chandlers. We aren’t going near Taris because of a problem my shipmate has with their customs officials, so we are going to see if they’ll accept here, and trans-ship it.”

“There’s been a lot of that. Ever since Taris decided to turn their continent into one massive city. And their immigration policies.” The customs officer looked at the sullen looking Ithorian with the woman. “If you’d like, I will hold it in the bonded storage area while you contact them.”

“Thank you.” Breia took back the updated chip, slipping it in the pouch before pocketing it. “Where is Cariali located?”

“North 17 right beside the Stars end Cantina.”

“Thank you.” She motioned for Meeri and they walked into the passageway.

“I don’t feel right about leaving the ship unguarded.” Meeri whispered.

“I agree. But A4 will watch over it for us.” Breia replied. The Transit car station was ahead, and she bought two all day chits. The chits slid into the reader, and they boarded the next car.

Behind them, a Dug stuck up his head, then slipped into the bay. He smacked his lips at the sight. A Corellian CEC Shadow class Courier! It might be four years old, but the design was superb! He moved to the entry ramp, and slid a box over to stand on. His burglar tools were laid out, and he looked at them carefully. Then he selected one, and began tinkering with the lock. When the first did not open the ship, he patiently set it aside, picking yet another slimmer tool. After a few moments, there was a hiss, and the ramp dropped down. Grinning, he trundled up the ramp. It closed after him.

*****

The cantina was dark, close, and for Breia who didn’t spend a lot of time in them, exciting. “Want to try some Corellian Red ale?” She asked. “Yaka liked it.”

Meeri glanced at he. “Yaka undoubtedly didn’t tell you that alcohol has no effect on us.”

“Really.”

“Yes, we get our ‘buzz’ as it were from sugar water.”

“Right.” Breia expected that she was being twitted again, looking around. Over in the corner she could see Padawan learner Samsun. but where was...

A hand came up, and Yodai pulled himself up onto Samsun‘s shoulder, growling. Then he climbed down and inhaled a bowl of pretzels. Samsun looked as disreputable as could be, unlike Breia’s persona of a slightly tatty ex-officer. In another corner Padawan Reyes looked even more disreputable. He had his hair uncombed, shaggy, and wore a thermal undershirt with an open neck, Black Corellian Navy uniform pants, and a black vest over it all. All he needs is a Corellian Blood stripe and he’d be perfect. She thought. Carola was propping up the bar almost dead center, looking as if she’s had more than enough to drink.

Breia scanned the bar as her character would. “Meeri, find a table. I’m going next store.”

“As you wish Captain. I‘m thirsty.” Meeri snarled. She was doing the disgruntled employee very well. The martinet she was pretending to be would take care of business first. And she wouldn’t take crap from a crewman. “And if you’re drunk again, I’ll bloody leave you!” She roared. The crowd grew silent.

Meeri didn’t turn. Her hands clenched as if she wished they wee around her captain’s throat, then her head drooped. “Yes, Captain.”

Breia glared at them, then spun and stalked out. Cariali’s was a good sized shop, and she ran her eyes over the display. The law had obviously slipped on the station. At least half of what was there in plain sight was illegal. She walked in, looking around.

A Selonian looked up from the sales terminal, walking across. “Greeting Captain.”

“I have a package for your establishment on Taris, but I am not putting up with racist crap.”

“Ah. From Coronet?”

She pretended to be surprised. The Selonians lived on another world in the Corellian system. “Nearby. The Westfall hills.”

“Nice country.” The sales being said. “Let me see.” He took the chip, went to his desk, and fed it into a reader. “I can take it and send it on. However you cannot be paid full price. You do know the rules.”

“Of course I do.” Breia snarled. “Just log it off and as soon as I pick up a cargo, I’m out of here back toward the Core.”

“Perhaps you can carry something for me? I can pay you well for it.”

“How much cubage?”

“300 cubic meters.”

“We only have about 70 free.”

“Carrying part of the consignment would to pay as well of course, but we can negotiate.” The being handed her a pad, and only nightly games of cards against Meeri kept her eyebrows from rising. Whatever it was, it was either highly illegal, or extremely dangerous.

“What is it?”

“Something you need not concern yourself with considering what you are being paid.” He replied.

Illegal then. She pretended to consider. “All right. Have it sent down to bonded storage when you pick up the package from me. My ship is in bay 19.”

They traded thumbprints, his on an invoice accepting delivery, hers on one accepting consignment.

She walked back to the cantina, ducking as a Toydarian slammed into a bulkhead, and slid down it like a slug. Meeri was at the bar, drinking from a tankard, and growling. Then she turned, addressing the crowd. As she did, her arm caught a Dug, flipping the small being across to slam into another place.

“Washing! How many times do you have to scrub a deck to make it clean?” She turned back and forth as if scanning her audience. “Seven times in three days she had me do it. Seven!”

Breia watched, her face cold. Yodai was bouncing across the compartment, and as he reached the bar Meeri snatched him up. “Wha’s this?”

“Put down my pet, you... Freak!” Samsun had leaped to his feet, charging across the compartment. Meeri flicked the small being aside, and met his rush. They bowled across the deck, people dodging out of the way. They knocked Carola off her feet, fetching up against the table Reyes was at. He leaped up, dumping his beer all over them.

There was a slamming sound, and everyone froze. A Human stood at the bar, looking around mildly. In his hands he held a Coruscanti stun blast, a riot control weapon. As big as he was, he didn’t need it. Only a fool would riot when that huge cold face was nearby. The tankard he held was crumpled by the pressure of his arm as he had slammed it down again.

“I will not have fighting on my station.” He said in a surprisingly soft voice. “If you want to fight, take it off the station. Preferably without a suit or ship.” He walked over, stepping over Carola. “What is that?” He jerked a thumb at Yodai, who was leaping back toward Samsun.

“Mandalorian Bat-ear.” Samsun answered.

“Does it have it’s shots?” When he didn’t get an answer, he added, “From the look on your face, I would say no.” He shook his head. “You can pick it up from quarantine when you lift. You and our drunk friend are spending tonight in the cells. as for you.” He glared at Reyes. “You know station rules about liquids on the deck. Accident is one thing, spilling it intentionally is another. Want a fine or the night in the can?”

Reyes said a word. Something in Hutt that meant father of the same mother. The Constable looked at him mildly. “While Hutt are hermaphrodites, they can’t do that. At least not to themselves. So tonight you get to study them in detail. The only space left is with a Hutt.”

He motioned toward the entryway. But before anyone could move, Carola rolled up, and vomited all over the Constable’s uniform. He looked down at her, shaking his head in disgust. “Tonight is definitely not my night. You, linguist. Pick her up.”

Breia stepped aside, watching her compatriots being dragged off to jail. She considered what she had seen. Someone had found out something important, so they had needed to meet. But why was Yodai trying to get into medical? She went to the bar, and bought a drink.

“Seems like a quiet night.”

“Your crewman shouldn’t drink if she can’t handle it.” The barkeep told her. I’ve never seen Ithorians drink half a gallon of sugar-water and still stand.”

“Sugar water?”

“Didn’t you know? It’s like that 151 proof jet-fuel the Echani bottle to Ithorians. Usually they just fall on the floor and sleep it off. Yours got mean drunk instead.” He shook his head. “That’s a first.”

Breia finished her beer, and strolled out. She checked the station map, found the drunk tank, and headed there. A Constable stopped her checking his log.

“Oh, yeah. Those four. Down below in the cells.” He motioned toward a door. “Herman will escort you.” Herman was another human, looking like a troll in the lighting. He grunted, unlocked the door, and led her down a flight of steps.

The cells were dank and dark. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought it was one of the old dungeons that had been built millennia before on Corellia. All seven were filled with at least three prisoners in each. She passed Reyes who shared a cell with a Hutt and Samsun , then in the next cell was Carola Meeri and a Dug. She crossed her arms, tapping her foot. Meeri looked up, eyes bleary.

“Again.” Breia said.

“Sorry Captain.”

“Got anything to say for yourself?”

Meeri looked at her, one eye dropping in a slow wink. “No excuse.”

“You’ll be scrubbing the head when you get back to the ship.” She warned. “And I’ll take the fine out of your pay.” She turned to Herman. “Keep her overnight. I’ll pay her fine on the way out.”

She paid, marching down the passageway to the tram. Whatever information had prompted the ‘meeting’ hadn’t been passed yet.

She came to the ship, opening the ramp. A4 was waiting her, photoreceptors trained on her.

“Captain, we have an uninvited guest.”

She nodded, following the droid into the cargo compartment. She had gotten this one from a courier captain who had been sick of it. For a while she had wanted to get rid of it herself. When she told it not to do something, or berated it for interrupting, the damn thing would sulk. The sight of a 200 kilo metal and plastic spider moping around because it’s feeling were hurt was a sight you had to see to believe.

The A4 series droids were designed for shipboard use by the Corellian Navy, but had been recalled because of quirks in the programming. The main problem the A4s had was that it downloaded everything in it’s search for knowledge, meaning that it’s main memory core had to be downloaded or cleaned an average of once every other month. Most Naval personnel didn’t like the problem.

There was another problem. The series had a distressing tendency to find ways around problems not suggested by normal procedure. The fact that she found 80% of this A4s suggestions better than the Book hadn’t swayed the navy in the slightest.

Breia on the other hand found it refreshing to have a constant store of information on hand. Instead of wiping the banks periodically, she had instead had a chip writer installed in the damn thing and every time the memory banks got too full, it would download all programs it considered nonessential and stored them in a holder that looked like an egg sac under it‘s rump.

What A4 had retained for constant use was astonishing, suggesting to her that the droid might be self aware. If so it was a first. Except for some self protection software, the machine shouldn’t worry about itself at all.

When it had accessed a prototype B9 Police droid on Station Delta 4 a few years before it had also downloaded all of it‘s defense and offense protocols. That had caused the addition of a stun rod, a Corellian S class rifle with frangible bullets, and a roll of restraint tape. On this mission, it had decided that it could watch the ship for her, and she had agreed more to shut it up than anything else.

The Dug was wrapped like a fly in a spider’s web, and was hanging by a thread of restraint tape from an overhead beam. He glared at her.

“That thing threatened me!” He squealed.

“It did?” She looked at A4. The two front legs of the droid had come up at sharp angles in front of it, and the pedipalps which were actually tool using extensions were clicking together. She should have never told the damn thing about real spiders. It must have downloaded everything in the memory banks about them. The legs and pedipalp movements were right out of a Hook-spider threat reaction. For something big enough to eat you if it were alive, it did look dangerous.

“Maybe it felt you didn’t belong?” She asked. “Well, before I toss you out of the airlock, have you any last words?”

“No!” It shivered, looking past her at the droid.

“Why not? Obviously you came aboard to steal my ship. Where I come from that is a death sentence offense.” She pretended to consider. “However if you told me who sent you and why?”

“No one send.“ He answered. “Cariali’s would buy if I could get it.”

Ah. She left the compartment, coming back with a pot of tea and a chair. She poured, leaning back against the bulkhead. “Then tell me everything you know about Cariali’s business here.” She nodded toward A4. “He has a lie detector built in. The first lie, I warn you, the second?” She jerked a thumb toward the hatchway “You learn to breath vacuum.”

Char Ell
05-05-2006, 08:47 PM
Good reading, as always. ;)

Interesting to see where you're going with A4. Sounds like the droid has become even more beneficial to have around than it was in Republic Dawn.

Hallucination
05-05-2006, 09:05 PM
Does anyone else hear Marvin the Paranoid Android's voice when reading A4's lines?

machievelli
05-06-2006, 12:47 AM
Good reading, as always. ;)

Interesting to see where you're going with A4. Sounds like the droid has become even more beneficial to have around than it was in Republic Dawn.

We are still in Republic Dawn. This next segment is going to end with the Jedi calling a conference of the GTA and unaligned planets suggesting the formation.

In the two segments ,part one and 2, you will notice a lot of the problems were political. It wasn't until the Jedi discovered the gas was being manufactured that everyone started pulling together. In this one there's going to be problems because action is occurring in unaligned space systems. When the Jedi decide to act, they are going to be berated because GTA has no authority, and none of the core planets do either.

As for A4, I needed a computer that could talk and do a lot of analysis on his own. But as I said in another story, I can;t see having a character I'm not willing to use. Such problems as I had described do happen. I had my computer hung up with no memory for almost a year because a program that saved an emergency back up used almost six gigs of memory just for one file.


Does anyone else hear Marvin the Paranoid Android's voice when reading A4's lines?


If you do, don't be surprised. I was picturing either MArvin or Droopy Dog when I write his dialogue.

machievelli
05-07-2006, 11:52 AM
Preparation

Master Hontu came out of hyper, and approached the station. Sienna was on watch, hands on the controls. “This is Freighter Coruscant Glory on approach.” She reported.

“Coruscant Glory do you have cargo for this station?“

“Negative. We are just stopping to load additional stores. and some R&R.“

“Very good, Coruscant Glory. You are cleared for bay 40. Welcome to station Kroomerik.”

“Thank you Kroomerik. Coruscant Glory clear.” She tapped the annunciator, and the pilot came forward. “Be ready.” She warned.

Aft Master Hobart and the assault team leaders were gathered around the mess table, looking at the hologram. It showed the station as a series of decks, rotating. One dot blinked red. “All right, the Raptor is here. So far we have no reports that it is getting ready to leave. The limpet transmitter has the ship as inactive.” The hologram jumped in, showing the same type of view of the ship.

“The crew of a Raptor is sixty men. No launch bays, but there are two cargo bays large enough to stash the fighters in.” Sienna looked at the hologram. “Probably they came here to on load some new fighters?”

“Perhaps. But from where?” Padawan Solon asked, his Lekku weaving slightly. “For that matter where did they find the funding? This outfit makes no sense to me.”

There was a grunt of agreement. Most pirates merely took merchant vessels and had extra weapons installed. The Jedi had broken up a ring of such pirates just two years before. But even the most paranoid merchant captain tended to spend the money on weapons rather than fighters. At over 10 thousand credits each, they were a great defense, but too expensive. Only the larger lines had tried it before now.

Even as old as it was, the ship was still formidable. Fast enough to chase down most modern freighters, though slower than the newer light ones. Her weapons and systems could easily be upgraded.

But only a madman would use a warship as a pirate. You couldn’t sidle up to a station pretending to be a merchant, and loading up on fighter missiles and large amounts of chain gun ammunition through a civilian outlet rather than a base of your navy would be a give away. It was actually less expensive to arm a merchant ship than it was to rip the weapons out of even the smallest warship. Even then why pay for something with almost no cargo space?

Ships the size of a Raptor rarely ended up on the open market unless you consider transferring them from one planetary government fleet to another. New they cost just under a million credits each. The only other possible buyer would be a corporation. Only corporations had the wherewithal to buy them at a quarter million credits each. But that begged the question of why a corporate vessel would be here. According to their records of Wayfarer Corporation, the owners of the station, hadn’t bought any ships of that design. They had bought Coruscanti Swift Class corvettes. In fact only three of the smaller Colonial navies used Raptors right now. None had been reported missing.

Besides, sale of castoff warships was tightly regulated. No one had found a way around those safeguards. Until now.

“How many of this class were built?” Hobart asked.

“Sixty-four.” Padawan Learner Coroy replied. An Arkanian, he was the resident expert on military ordinance. “All but seven are still in service. Nineteen serve in the Arkanian Navy, twenty serve in the Alderaani Customs and patrol service. Ten, all under Corporate flags are assigned to the Ando blockade squadron, the last eight make up the entire Lortuai home fleet.”

“What happened to the seven no longer in service?” Sienna asked, staring at the bulkhead with a curious expression.

“One was lost at the battle of Sullust about 30 years ago. One was rammed by a liner and scrapped. One was expended as target by the Corellian navy, four decommissioned and scrapped.”

“Are we sure they were actually scrapped?” She pressed.

“According to records, yes.” Coroy said.

“My family is always leery of the breaker’s yard.” She said. As the youngest daughter of Admiral Mara Dodonna, granddaughter of retired Fleet Admiral Freido Dodonna, with more officers in her family than any other family on Corellia could claim, she was the expert in this. “The only thing worse in their minds are the suppliers. You see, If they merely slag it down all they get is the scrap metal price. About 500 credits a ton. But if they strip it out, they get a lot more for the separate systems. The computers are easy to wipe and reuse, commo gear and control molycircs, all worth more as units rather than being recycled. A colony just starting would be well off if they could score some of that.” She considered. “The only thing they couldn’t just put on market is the weapons. There are four chain gun turrets four launch tubes. Worth a pretty good amount. But they have to sell them back to the navy, or to someone the navy has authorized to purchase them.

“Every BuShips’ officer’s nightmare is that a ship will slide through the yards without being scrapped out. The ship may be almost 50 years old, but that doesn’t make them worthless for their designed function. A pirate could take over an out of the way colony with that much firepower.” She nodded. “I’m just trying to think who I should contact? Papa or Mama.” Her father was the Judge Advocate General of the fleet, her Mother in charge of design and construction for BuShips.

“Let’s either find out which ship it is, or capture it first.” Hobart demurred. “No reason to get Corellia all upset until we do.” He nibbled on his lip pensively.

“There’s another problem.” Solon said. “I asked for a download of the Station laws. I wanted to be sure our warrant from Corellia was valid.” He looked up. “It is not.”

“What?” Hobart looked as if he’d been told gravity didn’t exist.

“The Station legal preamble begins with ‘Local legal situations are covered in Corporate regulations. All other laws superceded‘.” He turned the pad, and let them read it. Hobart flipped down several pages. “ Listen to this. ‘All claims by planets regarding the seizure of a ship or crew for crimes committed outside Corporate jurisdiction must be first cleared through the Station Constabulary office, and local justice before action. All such requests and the hearings for service of such warrants must be publicly delivered. No warrants maybe served, or action taken for them, until the hearing has been held‘.”

Sienna's head bent. She was the legal expert. “Which means that all I would have to do as captain of that bloody Raptor is have a man in either the Constabulary or the Justice’s office. As soon as they know such a warrant has been filed, they can bolt away, leaving us sitting while the hearing drags on.” She looked at him. “Or we could send a message torpedo. Have a Corellian frigate pop up to take possession.”

Hobart, who had been paging down shook his head. “The Corporation has assigned two Swifts here, Rapid and Surprise. Both in are in their docking bays. If a Corellian Frigate were to arrive, according to these regulations, the Corporation has permission to order the ship out of the system if they will not obey Corporate regulations. Let’s see, yes, as I thought; ‘Any attempt to either force ships to remain on the station, or stop other ships from using the station will be considered an illegal blockade; an act of war under Interstellar law, by the planet owning the vessel. Any attempts by such vessels to remain after being ordered to depart can be dealt with as the Manager and/or Captains of such defensive vessels see fit’.” He looked at his strike team.

“We must either obey the letter of this regulation, or we have to convince them to leave the station and go somewhere we can take them.”

“But they would know we must have followed them if we suddenly ask for their arrest here!” Coroy retorted. “The limpet transmitter may have LPI capability, but if they know we followed them, they will find it.” The Low Probability of Intercept communications gear was still considered top secret by the Corellian navy. They had been allowed to use it only because Sienna had asked her parents.

“If they think they’re caught, they’ll self destruct.” Sienna pushed. “We haven’t gotten more than serial numbers off the fighters so far. To break this, we need to capture it. Facing them here, we’ll have a chance. But an aware Escort trying to escape will hand us our heads. We have to take her here or let her go. We don’t have another option I can see.”

Hobart brought up the information on the ship again. “Sixty man crew. All together we’re outnumbered by about four to one.” He commented. “We can win, but they will self destruct and we can't risk the station and it‘s personnel. We can wait until they pull out-”

“I have another idea.” Sienna said. “We take them down while still here, and deliver ship and all back to Corellia.”

“And how do we do that?” Coroy asked.

“I just walk aboard, trip the intruder/mutiny system, and we fly her out.”

“Can’t be done.” Solon said. “My men don’t know where the intruder systems are on that ship!”

“I do. Mama commanded one of the last ones built, and I... accidentally activated it one Fleet Week when I was four.”

“Accidentally.” Hobart’s comment wasn’t a question.

She grinned. “I saw this big red button on the command chair, and pushed it. Next thing I know every blast door was sealed, and everyone is getting hit with puke-gas. I might have gotten off on it but when we were in the engine room, I saw another emergency button and hit it too!” She shook her head. “Boy did I get a spanking for that!”

They chuckled. “What if they have something a little more lethal than that?” Solon asked.

“I think if someone had run off with half a ton of CN20 nerve gas, that would have set off alarms.” She retorted.

“Lay out your plan, for us.” Hobart ordered. She began with getting aboard, walked through what she intended to do, and ended with lifting off. Each of the others gave suggestions, and she incorporated some of them into the plan. But she was adamant that she had to go alone.

“One mere slip of a girl who is space crazy getting aboard might be taken for a lark.” She warned. “But two or even three would look too suspicious.”

“I would rather someone else do this.” Hobart commented when she had finished.

“No one of our people on the station or aboard ship looks as helpless as I do.“ She replied. “Besides, have I ever been wrong before?”

“No, but there is always a first time.”

“If you honestly think I can’t handle it master-”

“Will you stop fishing for compliments?” He asked plaintively. “All right. When do you want to do it?”

“I was hoping to borrow Padawan Solo’s A4. After I have talked to her, I can set a specific time.”

Char Ell
05-08-2006, 09:53 PM
So. Set off the mutiny/intruder system and gas any crew that is aboard? I hope Sienna has a gas mask or utilizes the Jedi-ability to hold her breath for a long time. If you haven't guessed I'm not clear on how the plan will work but I'm sure you will clear things up for me in the next chapter. :D Please don't interpret this as I don't like the story or anything along those lines. Republic Dawn is still great reading.

machievelli
05-08-2006, 10:48 PM
I had considered that, CM. But there's more here than meets the eye...

machievelli
05-09-2006, 10:11 AM
The operational report

Breia was just closing the ramp when a sweet honey voice asked in a breathless tone. “Oh! Is that a Shadow?”

She turned. Sienna Dodonna stood there. She was dressed in her best outfit, at least for this assignment. It was a snug fitting vermilion top with two diamond shaped cut outs. One started at her shoulders, running down to about ten millimeters below her breasts, the other started there, running down to connect at her hips showing an expanse of well toned flesh. There was no reason for the full sleeves she could see except to accentuate what was exposed. The bottom was so small she looked as if she had merely forgotten to put on her clothes, going about in her foundation garments.

To give lip service to propriety, a cinnamon red skirt of smoke-cloth ran to her ankles. But since smoke cloth as the name implies, is almost transparent, it only obscured the knee-high boots she wore.

Breia grunted. “Of course it’s a Shadow.”

“Could I see... Inside it?” She asked. If you went by her face and that voice, you’d think she didn’t have two brain cells in that blonde head.

Breia gave a much put upon sigh, and opened the ramp again, motioning the girl up it with an exasperated grimace. Sienna didn’t walk up the ramp, she strutted. Any man watching her from the back would have been captivated by the walk. Only Breia caught the slight wink. She sighed again, looked at her chrono as if to say I don’t have time for this and followed.

“Greetings, Padawan teacher.” Sienna dropped the act the instant the ramp came back up. Now she merely looked like an intense woman with odd taste in proper apparel.

“You know that is really quite good. The vacant expression suits you.”

“Sorry.” Sienna was not in the least apologetic. “When you look like a working man’s dream of a blonde air-headed bimbo, it helps to pretend.” She held out a chip. “If I can borrow your A4, we’ve already got a plan to take the Raptor."

“Hobart does know we can’t legally.” Breia stated.

“Yes. We’ve decided that perhaps an act of piracy is called for.”

Breia considered, then nodded. “I can see why that is an option. But what about the Cariali warehouse?”

“What?”

Breia waved her over to the mess table. “A4, play the recordings.”

The droid marched over, and a holo of a case appeared. Then the camera angle split into ten different pictures. Before asked, it began bringing them up as full screens when they passed something of importance. “The crate was picked up yesterday, delivered to the bonded warehouse, then accepted by the local Cariali factor. He had it sent to his own storage warehouse. If you will notice-” Two of the screens blew up to almost full size.

Sienna leaned forward intently. ‘Those crates. They look like... Corellian arms cases.”

“Correct.” The cameras zoomed in. The barcodes were scanned, and a third screen flashed up.

“Merr Sohn Type 7s.” Breia commented. “In that one Type 14B fighter missiles. They can be fitted to just about any fighter Corellia ever built with a little adjustment. Keep going.”

The screens showed a mass of weapons that should never have left a Military arsenal. Missiles both ship to ship and fighter launched. hand weapons from pistols to tripod mounted cannon. While a lot was Corellian the rest were Coruscanti and Twi-lek.

The crate was dropped off, and the small bugs deployed their miniature tilt rotor wings, and split up. One landed on a computer console, cutting a tiny hole to climb inside. It found a data port, and melted a connection onto the fiber optic lead.

“I ran the programs aboard. The inventory is extensive. Including these.” Eight Bat class Coruscanti fighters.

Sienna hissed. “Those haven’t even entered squadron service!”

“Well I know it.” Breia motioned to the teapot, and Sienna nodded. She took the cup, sipping. Her eyes bulged. “My gods! Echani fire spice!”

“Yes. I enjoy it.”

“I can’t even drink it aboard the ship!” Sienna sipped, sighing. “Master Hobart was injured a year ago, right before I became his apprentice. His stomach can’t stand it any more, even though he likes it. So I won’t drink in around him out of sympathy.” She sipped, looking pensively at the screens. “So a corporate chain is also part of this?”

“Maybe. It might be they were supplying illegal weapons before, and we didn’t notice it until we checked their operations here.”

Sienna shook her head. “Too many similarities between the operations for that to be likely. Both with access to either restricted equipment or high end modern ordinance. Can there really be two operations this well connected and this secret?”

“Stranger things have happened.” Breia warned. “So how does this affect your plan for the Raptor?”

“We have no choice.” Sienna said softly. “As bad as this is, we can’t let that ship leave and continue slaughtering people.” She shook herself. “Perhaps you can handle the Cariali situation on your own.”

“I think not.” Breia retorted. “This is too big, and goes too deep.” She considered. “The cargo they have consigned to my ship is due later today. Perhaps I can deliver it, and find out more.”

Sienna nodded. “I will inform Master Hobart. Then, I think I will meet the other Padawan. Where will you all be?”

“The Stars end Cantina.”

“I will see you all there later this evening. I have other ships to look at.” She put on that brainless look again. “Did you know there’s a Twi-lek Soorbino on the station?” She gushed.

“Spare me.” Breia snapped. then they both began laughing.

*****
The cargo arrived, and Breia noted the contents as it was loaded aboard. The crew that did the loading were the usual disreputable types you might have expected. She thumb-printed the invoice after checking the cubage, then went aboard, sealing the ramp.

“A4, what did we just accept?”

“Only one crate is alarming.” The droid flashed up the barcode.

Breia looked, her mind tried to scan the code, but it didn’t register. “841 prefix, I haven’t seen it before.”

“I have.” A4 replied laconically. “That is a bioweapon prefix.”

“Any idea what?”

“Iridian plague.” She glared at the droid. “The Corellian military did studies about ten years ago of converting the plague into an easily spread form. They abandoned the tests. There was no cure for the variety they created.”

Breia cursed. “This changes things.”

“On the contrary, Padawan, it helps.” A4 drawled. On the screen, a series of crates were earmarked to be loaded. She saw her own face, and ship, then the destination.

“Ando?” Breia asked.

“The home of a race named the Aqualish.” A4 reported. “To be delivered not ot the planet, but to the fleet blockading it. Your cargo includes the weapon you are both speaking of.”

“So we deliver a deadly...” She froze. “Come quick!”

She raced back, reaching with that skill she had used on Delta station.

There was no timer. Instead a sensor that would have detected two hyper transits, one entering, and one leaving had been attached to the tank. If she had left the station, it would have automatically activated. She ran her hands over the seals. Simple customs seals. Since they didn’t have to be unloaded until delivery... She drew out a small knife. Made by a Jedi smith, it sheared through the customs seals. Then she stopped, running her hands over the crate looking just a little deeper...

Light sensitive diode right there. Any light at all would set off an explosive charge destroying the case and the one opening it. Not to mention killing everyone aboard with the plague. “A4, get the lights.”

The lights went off, but there was still a spill from the passageway. “Close the hatch as well.”

Suddenly it was pitch black. She pulled the top off of the box, running her hand blindly along the wires leading from it to the explosive charge, her Jedi senses identifying what her fingers touched. Five wires. This leads to the auto-release. Cut it and the bug is released in here. This one leads to... Ah, a trap wire. Cut it and the charge gets a shock from the capacitor on the other end. This one, leads no where. This one has a trickle charge. cut it and the capacitor flashes. This one. She started reaching down, then stopped. She stepped to the other end of the box. Only three wires led to it, the primary, the booby trap, and another one running to another booby trap. She instead cut the capacitor loose, dropping it on the deck. Then she went forward, removing the light sensitive diode. She was holding it up when suddenly the bay was brightly lit.

She cursed, spinning to face the hatch. Meeri looked at her confused.
“If you had been three seconds earlier...” Her hands began to shake. So close...

Meeri looked at the device then Breia’s hands, and walked over slipping the blade out of her hand. “Perhaps it would be better for me to work, and you direct me. At least until your shaking subsides.”

Breia gave a barkr of laughter. A panic reaction. “Yes. An excellent idea.”

They worked together for almost half an hour. When every timer, activator, explosive and booby trap had been removed, they went into the mess hall. Meeri silently poured her a Corellian Red, pouring another for herself.

“Wait a minute. I thought you got drunk on Sugar water!”

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Meeri asked with such an innocent expression that Breia had to laugh.

“From you, you misshapen lump!”

“Oh that.” Meeri waved a hand. “When we first met your people, some of them tried to get us drunk. But our tolerance for alcohol is very high. An Ithorian merely gets more calm when we drink. About five times what a human could drink. When we get what you would call drunk, we just fall asleep.” She chugged the brew, and opened another. “So when we figured out what the people were trying to do, get us drunk so they could get us to sign deals, that kind of thing, we let one of them see one of our people chugging sugar water, then acting how humans act when drunk.

“It helps to know it, because if someone buys us a drink and we taste it, we know immediately how honest they are. If they asked us of course, we accept it to be polite.”

“And what effect does sugar water actually have on you?”

“Actually it give us the runs.” Meeri waved. “But it is worth it to get some deals signed that we needed.”

Breia looked at her hand. It was still trembling. “I drink, if you notice, to be polite, companionable, and...” She lifted her hand, watching it shimmy. “When I am scared out of my tiny little mind.”

“Considering what is in that crate...” Breia shivered. All that medical science could do for the Iridian plague was either preventive, or palliative. If it was known to be in a population, you immediately dosed everyone who wasn’t showing frank symptoms and hope for the best. If they did show symptoms, you tried to keep them alive. With no medial assistance, there was a 100% fatality rate. With it, the death toll was only 85%. But once it was released, no one in their right mind-

Not to the planet, but to the fleet blockading it.

Iridian plague had a long incubation period. It took as much as a month for frank symptoms to occur, but it was already infectious by inhalation less than a week after infection. The ships communicated by radio of course, but they had weekly meetings of the commanders...

And a week after I deliver this, they are all infected. Three weeks later, so are all of the ships that delivered supplies. So are the ports of the planets they came from.

Once it broke out, each of those planets would go under full quarantine, along with the stations that served them How far would it go before someone fell ill and they noticed? The entire core, hell, every system a ship serviced could be infected!

Meanwhile no one can spare the energy to help the fleet. They die. No one is watching the Aqualish... This is bad.[/i]

“We’ll have to go to the Cantina We have to make sure the others know.”

“Can I avoid going to jail again?” Meeri asked plaintively. “Have you ever had the runs in a cell with two other people?”

“I try to avoid being in jail, myself.” Breia replied calmly. “Maybe you should follow my sterling example.”

Meeri’s answer was subvocal.

Char Ell
05-09-2006, 10:28 AM
Very interesting. As you said, developments have forced the Jedi to alter their initial plans. Well, at least I think they've been altered anyway. If the opposition has access to such advanced weaponry as well as highly effective bio-weapons, one should absolutely take those factors into account when forming a plan to neutralize one's enemy.

I always enjoy the high level of technical detail you employ in your writing. I don't always understand it, depending on the type of issue, but I appreciate the effort taken to give the story that added level of realism.

machievelli
05-09-2006, 10:40 AM
I always enjoy the high level of technical detail you employ in your writing. I don't always understand it, depending on the type of issue, but I appreciate the effort taken to give the story that added level of realism.

CM, As an old writer said 'I write for me'. Meaning the first reader who has to enjoy it and not lose his suspension of disbelief is me. I am what my wife and my old friends at fair would call a research slut. I spent two weeks researching chemical weapons in High school for an 8 page report. I only got a C+ because he didn't like my argument on the morality of them;
(If someone has them, a general on that side has already decided how to use them. Just give him the chance.)

I read Everything except romances and westerns and I retain a lot of it. So when I write something like that disarming sequence, I reach into that part of my mind that remembers EOD (Explosive Ordinance Detail) and built the nastiest bomb I could imaging disarming. I even drew a small line mock-up of it.

Oh yeah, when I used to DM in D&D? They feared my traps more than anything else.

machievelli
05-09-2006, 11:49 PM
Cutting out operation

Breia and Meeri entered the Stars end. For a moment the noise ebbed, then picked back up again. A Toydarian near the bar saw them and ducked for cover. A party of Dugs also at the bar suddenly decided they wanted a booth. Preferably a distance from the hulking Ithorian.

“You seem to have made a lasting impression.” Breia whispered leading the way.” She reached the bar, tapping a coin on it. “Two Corellian Reds.”

The bartender relaxed, and pulled the brews, passing them across. Breia leaned nonchalantly against the bar, sipping. “It looks like we’re here first.”

“No.“ Meeri sipped. “Left hand corner table.”

Sienna was already here. If the outfit she had worn earlier was rather risqué, this one bordered on sultry. The red was gone. Instead she wore a sheath of blue spider-silk that hugged her so tightly she might as well not have bothered. Breia looked away.

“She reminds me of someone.”

“Her grandfather is Admiral Dodonna.”

“No.” Breia tapped her fingers against her head. “It’s how my mother used to dress. Back before I was born.”

“Your mother was a professional pleasure girl?”

Breia glared at her. “No. She works for Corellian Intelligence. She used to dress that way...” Breia looked at the girl with a new respect. “To distract people while she worked.”

“Are you’re sure you’re not related?”

Before Breia could answer she saw Samsun stroll in behind him on a leash came Yodai. Breia lifted her glass quickly, pretending to drink to cover the fact that she wanted to roar with laughter. Proper prim Yodai on a leash! Samsun unclipped the leash, roughly rubbing Yodai’s head. “Now behave this time.” He admonished. He moved to an empty table, waving at the bartender.

Yodai looked around owlishly, then scampered across the room, climbing Breia’s legs. She yelped as he hugged her around the waist.

“Don’t get too into the part, Yodai.” She whispered. She felt his fingers pluck the data chip from her belt, and the insertion of a fresh one.

“Him on a leash I will see.” Yodai grumbled. Then he climbed farther up, snatching nuts from a bowl. “Enjoying this too much he is.”

“Yodai!” The small being looked. Samsun was waving. Grumbling dire retribution under his breath, Yodai leaped down and ran over to climb the young Padawan, ‘accidentally’ digging in with his claws a little when he reached Samsun’s ribs.

Reyes arrived next, trailed by his Padawan Kriel. Kriel was a Twi-lek, his red lekku weaving slightly as they sensed the atmosphere. A female Twi-lek at the bar blushed furiously, turning away. But she kept glancing his way.

“Ah, young love.” Meeri said. “A pity we are not on the station for too much longer. That would be an interesting story to hear.”

Caroli came in. A few moments later, a young man with a shock of ginger hair came running in, joining her at the table. Breia had not yet met Padawan Learner Costi. He was new, having transferred from the Monastery on Ossus. He looked a bit uncomfortable with a blaster low-slung on his left hip.

Breia took out her pad, and slipped in the chip Yodai had delivered. They had also been commissioned to deliver some of the Cariali supplies. The crate had been expertly opened and sealed. Hand weapons and breather masks. She downloaded the information, then dropped the chip in her drink where it promptly dissolved.

“No change on Yodai’s end.” She whispered.

“Good changes enough just with us and Sienna.” Meeri murmured in reply. She held up her empty glass, and another round was delivered.

Yodai who had been pretending to be asleep dropped to the floor, scuttling toward Caroli. She cursed, setting him on the table, where Costi tried to tempt him with pretzels. Yodai deigned to accept for a moment, then at a cluck from Samsun, scurried back.

Breia finished her second ale, watching the byplay with interest. Unbeknownst to the patrons, the little Jedi was assuring that everyone was on the same page. He had carried Breia’s report to Samsun who had downloaded it for himself and a copy which was delivered to each. Reyes cursed when he attacked his bowl of nuts but didn’t strike at him, which would have been in character.

The final act was funny. A human in a shipsuit was across the way, trying to drink Sienna under the table. Not much chance of that. The Jedi training helped her to metabolize the alcohol faster than he might have considered possible. Yodai came gallumphing over, scurried up onto the table, and proceeded to attack the bowl of nuts there. The man cursed, waving a drunken hand at the small being, who squealed as if terrified, leaping to wrap his arms around Sienna’s neck.

“Oh how adorable!” She gushed, hugging and petting him. Yodai didn’t move away quickly. If anything he seemed to settle in closer, eyes still on the drunk. Sienna asked the annunciator at her table a question, and a bowl of milk arrived. Breia turned rapidly, coughing to hide even more laughter. She knew how Yodai felt about milk! Yet he got down and lifted the bowl draining it.

A few moments later he ran back to Samsun. The Padawan slipped the ship into his reader, made a few notes. Then he lowered the pad to the table. Under the cover of draining his mug, he popped out four chips, setting them aside. Then he stood, walking toward the bar. Behind him, Yodai had swept up the chips, and delivered them to each in turn.

“You again.” Reyes snarled at Meeri. “Staying off the sugar water tonight?”

“As I have instructed her.” Breia snapped. Reyes turned toward her, eyes cold. “It’s thanks to her I spent last night in jail instead of enjoying myself.” He poked her hard in the chest with a finger. As he did the chip fell into Breia’s waiting hand. “I have to be in the Ando system in three days, and I will not be detained again. So keep her away from me!”

He spun, storming out.

“I don’t think he likes you.” Breia said.

“I don’t like him either.” Meeri finished the ale. “Shall we get back aboard?”

They left just as Sienna was waxing lyrical about how adorable Yodai was again.
*****

Breia poured the tea, and flipped on the pad as soon as they were back aboard. “Each of us were asked to carry cargo. by Cariali. Reyes and Yodai are carrying about ninety cubic feet each. Caroli has about twenty-five and...“ She laughed. “The same box we unloaded on Cariali. No major changes. Sienna thinks she will need at least people to help, and that is... Yodai and I.” She leaned back, sipping. She suddenly saw herself in Sienna’s idea of proper clothes, and choked.

“What are we going to do about our guest?” Meeri waved toward the cargo bay where the Dug that had tried to hotwire the ship still hung.

“We’ll dump him loaded to the gills in the morning.” Breia said. “Unless you have another idea?”

“He gave us a lot of information. Perhaps if we convince him of who we really are, he’ll get... nervous and ask for sanctuary?”

“You are always so... forceful.” Breia replied. She reached into a cabinet, drawing out her sword. “Shall we practice in front of him you think?”

“In front of and around.” Meeri replied. She drew out her own blades.

Together they walked back to the cargo bay. The Dug froze as he saw the sheathed weapons they carried. He had been digging at the plastic that bound him, but it was rated at 40 tons per inch and required special tools to cut.

Meeri lowered him, then moved him to the center of the bay, hanging about chest height for Breia, meaning even with Meeri’s shoulders. They set the weapons aside, drawing out practice weapons instead. Meeri used twin blades, and Breia matched her with her long pommeled single. They faced each other, saluting with the blades.

“What are you-” The Dug yelped, trying to pull his head in as three blades flashed. Meeri was abysmal on the attack. She had her race’s reticence about fighting. But on the defense she was a master. In the first actual fight they had ever been in, seven men had attacked them armed with swords. Breia had dealt with three of them easily, then turned to find that Meeri had not only defended herself brilliantly, but had kept the other three busy with a dazzling array of parries. The one man that had been killed before Breia joined her she admitted had been killed by one of his fellows. The practice drill had been ingrained into both of them since childhood. The Dug was merely a small space they didn’t allow their blades to enter.

To the Dug it was a flashing nightmare of steel and sudden death whipping past his head. The pair were silent, focusing on what they were about. If anything the speed increased, and he realized that no normal human could have kept it up.
Suddenly he fell. One cut had sliced through the spider-web that had held him up. He landed on his head with a squawk, and rolled into a fetal position.

There was silence, and he opened his eyes. A blade flashed less than a centimeter from his muzzle. Not the practice blade, but the wavy-edged sword of a Jedi.

“You thought you could steal a Jedi ship?” Breia asked. She turned her wrist side to side, a flash of light passing back and forth across the pupils of the Dug’s eyes. “You know that is defined as piracy.” She knelt, the blade not moving. “I could turn you over to the local authorities.” She felt his mood brighten. “Or space you when I leave. I don’t really trust the local constabulary. Is there a reason I should?”

“Didn’t know you were Jedi.” The Dug grunted. “Mistake.”

“A very stupid mistake.“ Breia agreed. “A last one. Of course I could help you by telling the Constabulary how very helpful you have been in our investigations here. Knowing you are really a fine upstanding citizen will make your life so much more pleasant.”

The Dug paled. Sure, it would make his life more pleasant. Until it ended rather abruptly, painfully, and probably not quickly knowing his luck. “Maybe we can talk?” He asked plaintively.

“Why? I got all I wanted to know from you. The local Cariali broker is paying people to hijack any armed vessel they can.”

“But where they taking them?” He asked, a glint in his eyes. “What they use them for?”

“You wouldn’t have been told that.”

“Not told.” He admitted. “But if you listen, you learn things, yes? Been working a long time. Know everything about a lot of things in different places. Learned this by being quiet. Unobtrusive.”

“So talk to me.” Meeri activated the recorder, and they listened as the Dug talked for almost an hour.

“So they have taken over this planet Thule. Why has no one noticed?”

“People who run communications same people. Company helped them.”

“Why?” Meeri asked.

“Deniability. Evil done, people die, war begins. When discovered, Company throws up hands in horror. ‘Evil men steal from us! Do all this! Shocking‘!” He shrug. “Know more about a lot of places yet.” He repeated.

“There is probably more, but we don’t have the time now.” Breia looked at the Dug. “Once we’ve left the station, we will take you to Corellia. I think Corellian intelligence will want to have long discussions with you. When they’re done, I will forgive your little transgression. But I won‘t forget it.”

There was a bleep from the annunciator. “Padawan, we have a visitor.” A4 reported.

Breia sheathed her weapon. “Local or one of ours?”

“A local delivery man from the Promenade. He is carrying what looks like a box from Kimberly's.”

Breia and Meeri shared a look. Kimberly's was a Corellian clothiers. The place where Senators went to buy their mistresses clothes that would get them arrested if the wore it in public.

The man looked like he might be the manager of the store. He was almost jumping up and down with excitement when she lowered the ramp. “Miss Magulagi? I am Justo Forek of Kimberly’s. A miss Dorino bought a dress to be delivered to you.” He held it out. “The message reads, ‘in thanks for your hospitality earlier today.”

Breia took the box carefully. “It’s Captain Magulagi.” She looked at the box. “Who is this... Dorino woman?”

“She said you might not recognize the name.” He replied. “She is the scion of a noble house on Corellia, travelling while on vacation from her school. She saw your ship and you gave her a tour this morning.”

“Oh, her.” Breia looked uncomfortable. “I’ll have to thank her.”

“No need, no need.” He said. “The instructions are in the box with the clothing. I hope you consider us for future purchases.” The last statement was given only pro forma. He had obviously figured that the captain of an old Courier couldn’t possibly afford something else from his shop.

Breia watched him go, then whispered. “Instructions? How hard is it to put on a dress?” She went up the ramp, closing the hatch again. Meeri was in the mess hall when she arrived, and she opened the box. “Oh she has got to be- Meeri! Laughing about this is not- Oh I am going to kill her!”

*****

It was a sight that attracted very male eye. Two women, one with raven black hair, the other blonde. The blonde was carrying some kind of animal that clung to her, risking exposure of her assets when it swung aside to try to grab at things they passed. The other followed by a large spider like droid. But if anyone had asked, they wouldn’t have noticed the droid. The animal at least was trying to do what every man that saw them dreamed or. Unwrapping one of them like a kid at his birthday party.

Their clothes drew the eyes. The dresses were the same in every way but color. A top made of a mass of straps that obviously took some effort to put on, and probably as much to take off with long sleeves mandarin collars, a gap in the cloth that exposed smooth stomachs and attached to hip hugging briefs above thigh high boots. The Blonde was in a deep burgundy that set off her pale skin, the dark haired one in a lime green that made her eyes seem even more green then they were.

Either one would have been worth the attention, but together they should have been charged with incitement to riot.

“I am going to kill you.” Breia growled for perhaps the tenth time since they had begun the approach. “I am going to feed you to a Landrian sand shark. I’m going to find something nasty to have you for dinner.”

“Well we could start with my Uncle Peri if we want nasty things to have you for dinner. The only reason I am safe is because he knows I’m his niece. Though if I were one generation farther away all bets would be off.” Sienna said. “Smile, girl! You’re beautiful, in an outfit that cost more than most of these people have made in a year-”

“With every man knowing exactly my bust size, the size of my nipples and whether I sunbath in the nude.” Breia snapped back. “Back home my dad would have fits!”

“Ah Darshan Solo is so repressed isn’t he.” Sienna replied gaily. “But your mother Holani...”

“What about my mother?”

Sienna looked around, then leaned forward, her finger motioning toward a group admirers that immediately began straightening. The portrait of a cute girl whispering a secret to her friend. “Well the last time I saw your mother at a state occasion, she was dressed in something that would have embarrassed me!” She shook her head, meeting Breia’s fulminating gaze. “All I have to say about your mother is that at sixty or so she is still an exceedingly attractive woman. She had the Bothan Ambassador eating out of her hand!”

“Sixty-two.” Breia bit out. “And yes she is still attractive.” Hating the girl was as useful as trying to bottle the wind. Considering how to gain revenge however...

“Come on. Look like you’re enjoying yourself.” Sienna whispered. “Think happy thoughts!”

Breia pictured her head down in a vat of Chocolate ice cream. Those smooth toned legs kicking futilely as she drowned...

“That’s more like it.”

They passed docking bay 17 where Hawk Flight was preparing to launch. Meeri had her instructions. Then ahead of them was bay 19. Sienna turned in, Breia pacing her.

Up close the Escort was huge. At least ten times the mass of her own ship. Almost as big as the Master Hontu. Sienna cooed as if she thought she could stroke the ship, and have it roll over like a pet. “Oh, isn’t this a Raptor?” She gushed. She strode toward the hatch. It was open, and a grungy little human looked up at their approach. He stiffened, then was frantically wiping his hands and trying to get his hair to lay down.

“Oh I’ve never seen the inside of a Raptor before!” If anything her brainless act was even better than before. “May I please look around?” She put on a plaintive expression. Men who saw that look outside a jewelry store would have been getting out their charge cards before the first coo had died.

The man growled inwardly. The captain would skin him if he let a couple of bints on the ship. “We’re getting ready to depart, unfortunately.”

“Oh that’s good!” Sienna gushed, then she leaned forward. “You intended to take us with you.”

The man’s eyes glazed. “Yeah, we’ve been waiting for you.” He said.

“Any you have just the place for us to hide.” Sienna said. “Just forward of engineering.”

“There’s a cabinet just forward of engineering you can hide in.”

“So what are we waiting for?”

“Let’s hurry. What are you waiting for?” He asked.

“But we have to get there without passing a security camera, don’t we.”

“Yeah, no cameras.” He turned, walking aft with the women and droid following.

“That’s a pretty neat trick.” Breia whispered. “How does it work?”

“How does the ripping droid’s arms off work?” Sienna asked in the same tone.

“When we have time I will show you. If...”

“I teach you how to control the weak minded?” Sienna grinned. “If it’s a man they are all weak, honey.”

The cabinet was large enough for all of them to hide in. The guard went back to his station. There was a hooting, then a voice spoke.

“Devaronian.” Breia identified the language. “Most of those we have gotten dead were Devaronian.”

“Yes. I wonder why?” Sienna asked.

“Someone forcing them they are.” Yodai had dropped his act as well. “The most peaceful race they are not. But wanton slaughter not their way.”

The ship shuddered, and Breia mentally pictured it lifting off from the pad, sliding out into space. The engines went to a smooth roar, and Breia said. “Now.”

They came out of the cabinet, moving swiftly aft. The hatch opened, and Breia took one step, and a tanned firm leg shot out kicking the Devaronian that spun at their approach in the crotch. As he whimpered dropping to his knees she punched him in the neck even with the fourth vertebrae, dropping him like a stunned Nerf.

Yodai leaped from Sienna’s arms, racing to a console. He checked the readout. “Good thing our own gas we brought.” He muttered. “Nerve gas they did use!”

A4 trundled over, panels opening for and aft. Breia snatched out the bundle of swords as Yodai opened a high pressure air line. A4 thrust out a nozzle, and Yodai pushed the bayonet fitting into it.

The tank inside the stomach of the droid vented as they slipped air breathers into their mouths, clipping the nostril plugs then Breia handed the others their weapons. She stayed in position as the other two charged forward.

“Go help them.” Breia ordered. A4 finished venting the tank, sealing up it’s carapace again, then took off down the passageway. As it came to people that had been disabled by the gas, it wrapped each in meters of plastic, setting them out of the way as it continued on.

*****

The bridge hatch opened, and Sienna was in like an exploding bomb. The only compartments not covered by the mutiny system were the bridge, engineering and the armory, though each could be added by the flick of a switch. The problem was, that the gas was fast acting, but not instantaneous. That meant anyone on the bridge would have at least ten seconds before they fell over. Long enough to blow the ship up.

Sienna leaped across the expanse, her sword punching into and through the console the Captain was trying to access. Then she whipped the sword aside, slashing the back of the right wrist only deep enough to bleed. “No escape for you, my friend.” She said. Then she punched him, dropping the captain unconscious.

*****

“What the?” The Armorer looked up from his bench as the gas alarm went off. He snatched up an air mask, blowing his lungs clear into it to clear the possibility of gas, then took a deep breath. Something was coming toward him, and he spun, tracking. Wasn’t that the animal from the Can-

A foot caught him under the heart with all of Yodai’s weight behind it. His hand caught the air mask in the same motion, so that the sudden venting of the armorer’s lungs only made him breath more deeply. The man glared at the little figure balefully as he collapsed.

“For an animal not bad, eh?”

On the station, five ships began to depart. First was Hawk Flight, followed by Master Hontu, then Padawan Sani of Naboo then in tandem Master Gretu of Triseki, and Padawan Yaka of Ithor.

Ahead of them, the Raptor vanished into hyper space.

*****

The captain could feel himself swaying and spinning below the air return vent. His head felt like he’d laid down in front of a stampede. Some girl Dressed like she got paid for it, and paid damn well. She-

His eyes snapped open. The entire crew hung up here like a load of Nerf sides. All of them had a glazed look. Below him he heard a clicking, and he froze as a huge spider came into view. It looked like it might be a droid, but it if was it had become insane. The pedipalps were rubbing together, and it stopped.

Looking at him.

The spider set a leg against the bulkhead, then swarmed up as if it were level. The set of forelegs curled around him, then he was being carried down. He had heard of Space-feeders, spider like creatures that boarded ships. But he’d always thought they were a space story! The stories of ships found drifting, the crews hanging in enormous webs, drained of all fluids.

The spider reached the deck, transitioning from straight up to level without a pause. It carried him down the passageway, then stopped at the his cabin.

Two women sat there. They were looking at the log on the computer screen, the one with black hair taking notes. The blonde turned, and he felt an even deeper chill. If there were Space-feeders, their females looked like humans.

Maybe the Space feeders Were human!

“Very interesting log, Captain.” She said coolly. “Every ship you attacked, every station you ransacked, every person you killed. Every rendezvous you made. It will make a spectacular trial. A pity you didn’t mention who supplied the ships and your fighters.”

“My people-”

“Spare me.” The black haired Space Feeder looked back at him. “Your planet couldn’t afford this vessel let alone the other five ships in your squadron. A pair of Corellian Wasp class corvettes, A Twi-lek Crasbashti class corvette. two armed merchantmen. Three dozen fighters between them. Eight of them on Station Kroomerik waiting for, Oh yes, Prince of Peace. Such an interesting choice of name for a pirate.”

“A pity we have to take them in for trial. That pair of twins aboard the Corellian liner last month. would rather we fed them into a mass converter alive.” The blonde said. “How many times did your crew rape them? Bad enough the Humans had to get involved but everyone else?” She looked disgusted. “I think who someone sleeps with is their choice, but did any of you give those four girls a choice?” She leaned forward, and her eyes seemed to grow as he looked into them.

“You want to atone for this.” She whispered.

“I must atone.” He replied.

“You must tell me who supplied the ship.”

“I must tell you.”

Breia felt it when Sienna concentrated on the Devaronian this time. It was as if she could feel the tickle of a sneeze. Or a buzzing from a misaligned drive. It was there, but it was in the force.

“Tell me.”

“The ship was on Nar Shaddaa” he said. “On Pad 94.”

“Who put it there?”

“Told where it was.”

“Who gave you the access code.”

“Drubba the Hutt.”

“Where did he get the ship?”

“Didn’t say.”

“Who paid you?”

“Money deposited in accounts on Bothuwai.”

“By?”

“Don’t know.”

The questioning went on for over an hour. Sienna leaned back from him, looking at Breia. “Nothing.”

“We have bank accounts on Bothuwai, Drubba the Hutt to pick up, and docking records from Nar Shaddaa to go through. We’ll find them.”

Jae Onasi
05-10-2006, 02:52 AM
I was gone for a conference so it took me awhile to catch up.
The bar scenes are hilarious. The dresses are even better. :D
Yeah, I can see all the players fearing your traps as DM. Nasty. :)
I'm enjoying the mystery development.
There aren't too many stories I'd stay up til nearly 2am to read, you know, but this is one. :)

machievelli
05-10-2006, 10:26 AM
.
There aren't too many stories I'd stay up til nearly 2am to read, you know, but this is one. :)

Jae, this is the second highest praise i have ever gotten as a writer. Thank you.

Char Ell
05-10-2006, 11:59 AM
Very entertaining. Yodai the "animal," heh-heh-heh. Breia in a callgirl's "uniform" too. Some great imagery in that chapter. :smirk2:

Oh yeah, when I used to DM in D&D? They feared my traps more than anything else.From the intrigue and detail you use in your stories I have no doubt of that whatsoever. :D
Jae, this is the second highest praise i have ever gotten as a writer. Thank you.What was the greatest praise you ever received?

machievelli
05-10-2006, 05:57 PM
Very entertaining. Yodai the "animal," heh-heh-heh. Breia in a callgirl's "uniform" too. Some great imagery in that chapter. :smirk2:



Sienna had a reason for that as you will discover in the next posting. Ypu'll probably think it's hilarious.


What was the greatest praise you ever received?

When I finally had a book published (Through PublishAmerica, Named Gryphonrider) I sent my mother a copy. She had always refused to read my work, and to tell you the truth, having a writer that closely related refuse to read you work hurt me deeply.

But her e-mail made up for it. 'I have never read a first novel so well polished and perfect in my life'.

Sadly she died in 2004. I have the only copes extant of about five of her works, one of which is already out of print.

Renegade Puma
05-11-2006, 05:48 AM
A great job so far Machievelli. I really like Breia and Merri. Keep up the great work, and I am sorry about your Mother. :(

machievelli
05-11-2006, 12:04 PM
Investigations

Sienna walked toward the front desk, watching the guard watch her. Ever since she was sixteen, she had noticed that the male eye followed her like a tracking sensor if she was close enough to really see. Even the other Apprentices had that problem. If she were to pass by men would drop heavy weights, trip over their own big feet, or end up in hospital because they forgot to duck, or watch where they were going.

She had decided, like any woman with such exquisite and efficient sexual armament; to use it. While others just considered raiding the kitchen, she did, successfully.

If she had been a glutton she would have gone from size four to size 14 during her last year. Since her actual passion with food was Echani Fire tea and Hutt Sweet grass tea, she had kept that figure.

She had noticed that the females had just as many problems but in a different way. The fastest way to heat up one of her fellow apprentices, or chill them down to absolute zero if that was the way they dealt with it, was to have her around. The same effect she had noticed went through the Masters at her arrival. The older they were, the less likely they would react, but it was true.

What master (At least Male masters) would ever challenge her? But if she asked for anything from a female master, it would be a cold day in the hells before she got it.

She suddenly realized that Breia Solo had been different in that regard. She had been upset about the clothes of course. Sienna had chosen them after all because she knew Breia would look stunning in them. Not to mention that she expected the woman to go berserk after having to wear them. It was something she had started doing in self defense when dealing with fellow female Jedi.

But instead Breia had merely dressed, whispered dire threats, and gone on with the mission.

She found she liked that a lot. Besides Breia had something she didn’t. She looked down. The one part of her body she would have changed was still smaller. She sighed. Genetics be damned, she thought she would better looking if those changed.

No matter. On to business. She smiled at the guard, probably giving him a slight heart attack. “Sienna Dodonna to see Admiral Dodonna.” She said.

“Uh, yeah.” He punched at the panel in front of him. Since he hadn’t moved his eyes from her, he was just tapping the plastic to no avail.

“Why don’t you look down.” She grinned. “Or did you want me standing here all day?”

He blushed, finally tearing his eyes away from her. “Which Admiral Dodonna?”

“Siriali Dodonna.” She said. “My mother.”

That at least hadn’t changed. If she mentioned that her mother or father were Admirals, a lot of Military men lost their ardor immediately. Others seemed to draw strength from it, but everything has a trade off. He flipped through the index. “Admiral Siriali Dodonna is at lunch with Admiral Freigar Dodonna.” He said. He ran a chip through the scanner, handing it to her. “Level 35 section J.”

“I’ll tell them you were so helpful.” She looked at his collar. “Sergeant..?”

“Brasco, Ma’am.”

“Sergeant Brasco.” She repeated. “Thank you.” She walked past him to the lifts. “Level 35 Section J.” She said. The lift shot up and to the side, smoothly stopping at the station. She stepped out, and a sprite appeared in front of her, dipping once in midair then moving at a walking pace down the corridor. She followed after it until it flashed again, and vanished. The door read Flag Officer’s mess. She sighed, opening the door.

A Lieutenant looked up, standing. “You can’t...” He started, then the voice died. Right then she could have ordered the most expensive dinner in the place and he would have beggared himself to pay for it.

She took pity on him. “I came to see my parents, the Admirals Dodonna. They are expecting me.”

He fumbled for his pad, and tore his eyes away from her as he scanned. “Bondar or Siriali?” He asked.

“Bondar is my uncle.”

If anything he was even more flustered. Having one Admiral as a relative was bad enough. Should she mention that five of the present admirals were related to her? That seven of the retired ones were? She decided not to.

“Cubicle seven.” He turned. “That’s-”

“I know where it is, thank you.” She walked past him. She could feel his eyes like laser designators. At least that part of her body didn’t need any augmentation.

The door opened, and her mother leaped to her feet. The act would have astonished anyone who knew her. Siriali Dodonna had gotten the nickname Ice Princess when she had commanded the 4th fleet. She found herself sinking into the hug sigh a sigh of contentment. She wished other women could react at least partially like this around her.

“Welcome home!” Her mother whispered, kissing her on the cheek. “We were expecting you, but not this early.” She stepped back, taking her daughter's hand, and led her to the table. Her father stood and hugged her as well. He was a bit disappointed in her she knew. Instead of following family tradition, she had never trod a deck in uniform. The Jedi robes she wore, the most sedate set she had in fact, didn’t count.
“Well.” He held her away, making a visual inspection. “They’re still feeding you I see. Ready for some lunch?”

“If it can be a working lunch, Papa.” She said. “I came on Jedi business.”

The pair looked at each other. “It concerns the navy?”

“Definitely.” She sat, picking up the menu. “Remember what you once said Mama about not trusting the Breaker’s yards? Well we found something that might interest you greatly...”

*****

Across the city of Coronet, the same scene with slight variations was being played out. At the Headquarters building of the Corellian Special Intelligence Service, a young woman was having a bit more trouble.

“No, I don’t have an appointment. I have come on Jedi business.” Breia said. “I need to see Minister Solo, and I need to see her now.”

“If you could tell me your business?” She merely glared at him. The man shook his head. “I know all of you kids think we’re all out drinking at parties if we’re not seducing someone, but Minister Solo is a very busy woman. So unless you want to tell me why, I can’t even set an appointment for you.” He had the smarmy look of a petty bureaucratic frog in a very small pond.

Breia looked at him coldly. “Forrestal.” She said. Before he could react, the panel in front of him bleeped. He looked at it, then tapped another button. Behind her she could hear the blast doors slamming down. She watched him as he pulled up a ‘Room Broom’ and aimed it at her as a dozen men poured into the atrium. They stormed over, a bristling array of weapons aimed at her. Then one of the men lowered his weapon.

“By the gods, Miss Solo. Do we have to go through this crap every time you enter the building?” He asked. The men with him lowered their weapons, looking at the man that had spoken.

“As often as you have idiots on the front desk, Major Tori, yes.”

“She wouldn’t-” The secretary started to say.

“She doesn’t need to you twit.” Tori snapped. “That is Breia Solo of the Jedi monastery. Daughter of Minister Solo.”

Breia smiled coldly as the bureaucrat suddenly went ice white. She leaned forward. “Name.”

Uh, Brenner Foss.”

“Well Brenner Foss, I hope you like that desk. You may end up sitting there until you retire.” She looked to Tori. “Major I believe my mother is expecting me?”

“You’re right about that. Tori waved and the men with him headed back into the concealing panels. Breia walked past the desk, and under escort went to the lift. Tori tapped the button. “Executive A.” He said. “Have a better day than he did, Miss.”

“Thank you Major.”

Breia stood patiently as the left took her to the floor given. To the uninitiated, the building and offices would have been forbidding. There were no markers on the doors or walls. No way to tell where you were in the building, or whether you were above ground or below. If you didn’t belong in the building, you needed an escort.

Breia stepped out, walked right to the next corridor, left at the one after that, then right until she ran out of hall. The wall itself shifted, and she walked into an airy office. The windows showed only a night sky. Since it was broad daylight outside, it merely told her that the windows were actually view screens.

“I should have never taught you that code.“ A voice said from the desk. “And I had such high hopes for Foss.” Breia walked forward, and her mother met her halfway. They hugged silently.

“How is father?” Breia asked.

“Not to good.” Holani admitted. Only someone who had known her as long as Breia did could have seen the pain in her face. “Ever since the accident...” She wiped her eyes, turning back to the desk. “You could have easily called me for that information. What do the Jedi need of me this time?”

“Mother, we captured a Raptor class escort after it attempted to take our decoy ship in the Seldon system. It carried A Naboo A4 Streak. Two Corellian Rampants, and an Alderaani Night Hawk.

“We tracked it to Station Kroomerik where we also found that the local factor for the Cariali Chandler’s Company was supplying a lot of hardware they shouldn’t have access to. Including Bat class fighters.

“We took the ship after it took off from Kroomerik and it is at the Monastery right now.” She set down the pad. “They have a small squadron. A pair of Wasps and a Crasbashti along with two armed merchantmen. Very well armed ships.”

“May I?” Breia nodded, and Holani picked up the pad and read. Breia sat across from her. It took several minutes, but Breia knew it was because her mother read it more than once. She read it at least twice more, making notes on her own pad the second and third times.

“And cargo headed for Ando?”

“Some of it. The rest was going to the fleet. Iridian plague virus weaponized right here ten years ago. And the ship had an addition to it’s mutiny system. CN20.”

Holani watched her, then thumbed a contact. “Seela, contact the DSI. Tell him it’s an emergency.”

“Madam-”

“Tell him someone has sold CN20 and samples of Operation Firestorm.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“What did the other 200 odd cubic meters consist of? As if I didn‘t know?”

“Enough weapons to outfit a Raider Battalion.”

“So, the Aqualish are part of this.”

Breia nodded. Most times a first contact was relatively peaceful, though they could go horribly wrong. One of the worst first contacts had happened barely fifteen years before. A Corporate vessel had discovered the planet Ando, where two species, one aquatic, the other land bound, lived. The Quara and the Aquala, land and sea dwellers respectively had ended their generations long feud to join forces long enough to slaughter the crew of that ill fated vessel.

Using it, they had attacked other ships near their system, building a tidy fleet before one of them had been stupid enough to attack a Corellian liner. That ship had escaped, and a punitive squadron had arrived. the ships had been recaptured, the planet interdicted. Unfortunately the governments involved couldn’t justify such an expense, and had turned the blockade over to four corporations, three Corellian, one Coruscanti.

Holani called up the holographic readout. “Ando, full data.” She ordered.

“Non-cleared citizen in office-”

“Case Omega.” Holani snapped.

The computer mulled it over. She was after all DDSO, Deputy Director of Special Operations. The holo blossomed into a water world with about 30% land. Above it, ships in four colors moved. The planet had been divided into four quadrants as well in each of the colors. A massive station floated in a geosynchronous orbit.

Breia stood, walking over to stand beside her mother. “Which corporations are part of this?”

“The Corellian corporations are in red for Capistan, blue for Androin, and green for Kasmarak. The Coruscanti company is Wayfarer.”

“End Holo!” A voice screamed. Director Maron glared at Holani, then at her daughter.

“Bandying code word material in front of a civilian? Giving code word information over the net? I’ll have your job for this Solo!”

“Director, my daughter was reporting to me concerning all of that.” Holani replied levelly. “And the Jedi have samples of both sitting on their landing pad right now.”

“You dared to-”

“Oh shut up.” Breia snapped. The man’s face purpled. “Are you going to keep screaming false accusations or are you going to listen to the report?”

Moran huffed, then threw himself into a seat. Breia ran through it all again. He stiffened as she reported the mass of weapons the Cariali factor had in his possession.

“The crate might have had something other than the plague virus you claim.” Moran kibitzed. “A false trail to lead you back here.”

“No.” Breia merely looked at him. “We were able to draw off a sample. Meeri, my Padawan Learner is in quarantine until we are sure she is safe. But it is Iridian Plague. The nerve gas was installed in a Raptor class escort as a mutiny/boarding defense. Whoever did it wanted to make sure that the crew died. Enroute here we discovered three different explosive charges that were set to explode under specific conditions. Those conditions were if it came into the Corellian Coruscant or Ryloth systems. The radar returns that would activate it match exactly the defensive nets of those three planets.

“We took both of them from pirates pure and simple. Those are the facts. As for ‘Firestorm’, if I had merely delivered it to it’s destination...” She waved toward the now cleared holo image, “About fifty thousand people would be dying in that system alone.” She walked over, glaring at him from a two meter distance. “So if you want this ‘civilian’ to walk out and contact GTA or perhaps the press, keep blustering.”

He sputtered.

“Who else have you informed?” Holani asked.

“We have sent ships to Coruscant Ryloth and Ando.“ If anything his color got darker. Breia looked at him. “I would suggest you calm down before your blood pressure puts you in hospital.” She turned back to her mother. “I needed to notify you so an internal inv-”

“That is not her department!” Moran snarled. “That is Prentiss’ job.”

“Then perhaps we should call him up here-”

“No!” Moran waved it off. “Too many people already know about this. Including you people.” He glared at Breia. “Your order is under orders-”

“Director we do not report to you, or obey you orders!” Breia stood. “We answer to a higher purpose than any government you wish to name.” She turned, waving him away. “Now go about your business before I forget what my order teaches and give you the spanking your mother should have!”

“This isn’t the end of it, Solo.” He stalked out.

“I can see you do not have my knack for diplomacy.”

“When there is time, I could out-subtle that twit on my worst day.” She turned to her mother. “But I don’t believe we have that time. There is more.” She went over the captured colony, and the enemy squadron there.

“I think we may allow our brothers in the navy deal with this.” Holani said after some thought. “I will have to inform them.“

“No need. Sienna Dodonna is a member of our order. Her father is the JAG, and her mother is in charge of BuShips.”

Holani looked at her. “Is the order as well connected on Coruscant and Ryloth?”

“No. We have direct access to Admiral Lucas at Coruscanti ONI, but the director of Coruscanti Intelligence is new.”

“Maygar Phelp. Yes, lucky for you I am well connected there.” She turned to her computer, attached a whisper-mike to her throat, and spoke silently for several seconds. Then she popped out a chip, handing it to her. “I will send a message asking for some of his time for a member of your order. That is the bona fides to verify who it is, to get past his own layers of flappers. Will you need the same for Ryloth?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Their new Premier doesn’t like us.”

“What about their navy and Intelligence?”

“Her first cousin is in charge of ONI, and her younger brother was appointed as head of Intelligence as you well know.”

Holani considered, then made another chip handing it over as well. “Ever hear of Kalo Fortuna?”

“No.”

“He’s about three levels down from the directorate. He’s a ‘handler’ working for Twi-lek intelligence. He’s too efficient to be political, but he has a web of people in his own organization that have performed admirably. Have that delivered to him.” She turned back to the computer, then handed her yet another chip. “Bib Wanatagi is in their Office of Naval intelligence. As good, as apolitical. After contacting Fortuna, have him introduce your envoy to Wanatagi.”

She tapped an annunciator. “Seela, have Logos come in.” She released the stud. “Now if you don’t mind dear, I have an internal investigation to begin.”

Breia smiled. “What of our esteemed Prentiss?”

“Prentiss couldn’t find his butt with a complete map and a guide. Like our esteemed director, he is a political appointee. But he cleans up well, can quote the jargon as if he is intelligent, and unless you have gotten to know him, at least appears to know what he is talking about.

“Now shoo. Some of us have work to do.”

Jae Onasi
05-11-2006, 02:56 PM
I love it when people actually get things done in spite of politics. :)
Sienna's a very fun character.
The scene with Holani and the director reminds me a bit of Clancy's Clear and Present Danger (if I have the right book title--the one where he finds out the director's involved in the plot).

I can sort of feel for the system loading issue--last chapter I did, I was trying to hit a button in my system tray and ended up hitting post reply on accident before I was done reformatting it out of word.

machievelli
05-11-2006, 06:14 PM
I love it when people actually get things done in spite of politics. :)
Sienna's a very fun character.
The scene with Holani and the director reminds me a bit of Clancy's Clear and Present Danger (if I have the right book title--the one where he finds out the director's involved in the plot).

I can sort of feel for the system loading issue--last chapter I did, I was trying to hit a button in my system tray and ended up hitting post reply on accident before I was done reformatting it out of word.

That's the right work, Jae. I looked at the situation, and nothing ruins it when you're trying to get something done more than being 'helped' by the government.

If you have fun with Sienna, you'll love what Breia does to get even for the street walker get up.

Char Ell
05-13-2006, 09:43 AM
I'm thinking that it is quite fortunate the Jedi monastery has such well-connected members to facilitate addressing important matters such as this weaponized Iridian plague. Very fortunate indeed.

machievelli
05-13-2006, 02:11 PM
I'm thinking that it is quite fortunate the Jedi monastery has such well-connected members to facilitate addressing important matters such as this weaponized Iridian plague. Very fortunate indeed.


One thing the original order IMO had was such connections once they moved from their first monastery. Dar's saving Holani and Breia in the first part of book one gave them links to both the Corellian Government and industry, and the Echani which if you will notice I didn't explore. The primary link here is still Holani, but what happens when she retires?

As for Sienna look at any kid that is scion of a family (Especially a rich or famous one). How much real power they can wield? Imagine Sienna as Paris Hilton with the brains to know what she can do and only using that power when necessary.

Saving Coruscant in the first part of this one gave them links to the Coruscanti Government. Those links will survive for a time but they are not forever. The watchword in politcis should be 'but what have you done for me lately?'

Note that when the Chancellor of Coruscant tried the old gladhanding SOS technique, I had the Jedi refusing to take sides. Want to bet the Coruscant connection will fade pretty soon?

However when I start going over the investigations in the end of the next chapter and the chapter after that, the one thing you will notice is that a lot of the work will be done completely sub rosa. Either the politicians in charge are part of the problem, or they will be activly interfering.

By the end of this you will have the start of the Republic, but at the same time the birht of something else, Republic Intelligence. Now look at Coruscant and Corellia. Who do you think will be tapped just to get them out of the local government's hair? Try Admiral Lucas and Holani Solo.

Note that a good chunk of that chapter was talking about where they don't have such extensive connections, on Coruscant and Ryloth.

Jae Onasi
05-13-2006, 02:45 PM
The watchword in politcis should be 'but what have you done for me lately?'


You mean it's not already? ;P



Note that when the Chancellor of Coruscant tried the old gladhanding SOS technique, I had the Jedi refusing to take sides. Want to bet the Coruscant connection will fade pretty soon?

However when I start going over the investigations in the end of the next chapter and the chapter after that, the one thing you will notice is that a lot of the work will be done completely sub rosa. Either the politicians in charge are part of the problem, or they will be activly interfering.


I never bet on politics, because I never know who's on the inside making deals (you support me on this bill, I'll make sure you get some appropriations for your district....) OK, if I was LBJ and it was American politics, I might be able to bet, but I don't think anyone's mastered the Senate Majority leader seat the way he did so effectively in the '50's.

Ah, intrigue....

machievelli
05-13-2006, 06:09 PM
You mean it's not already? ;P




I never bet on politics, because I never know who's on the inside making deals (you support me on this bill, I'll make sure you get some appropriations for your district....) OK, if I was LBJ and it was American politics, I might be able to bet, but I don't think anyone's mastered the Senate Majority leader seat the way he did so effectively in the '50's.

Ah, intrigue....

That is the way it is done, true. But most people pretend it isn't the case.

machievelli
05-14-2006, 12:20 PM
An unlikely team

It had been done before Breia had even arrived at Corellia in the captured Pirate. She had seen her ship resting in space in an orbit that would never touch the planet. The hazard lights had been switched on. The cubicle had already been moved to the surface and installed. She had been terrified at the implications. Maybe she had forgotten a trap...

No it wasn’t her negligence. It was something else.

Breia walked into the Monastery science center. The cubicle in the center was new. They had needed to request it from the University science lab, and had it installed immediately after Hawk flight had arrived in system. A full scale biohazard containment for an ultimate level threat. Built to hold something so deadly, that no one would ever want it released.

Nothing got into that containment unless it was sent in. Food came in through a sealed unit and the trays and utensils were pressed paper that were fed into the mass converter in the corner.

Nothing could get out as well. A separate air plant kept the atmosphere inside clean if a little bland. Like a ship’s recycling system with air tanks added because even that air could be deadly. Samples of blood and tissue could be taken through attachments on the opposite wall. Injections of medicine came in the same way. Sealed in small containers untouched. All taken or given by the occupant.

She ignored the tank to one side. It was attached to the reactor core of the sealed power unit, and would siphon raw fusion plasma into that enclosure in an emergency. Converting the inner section into the heart of a star for a few brief seconds. Nothing could survive it. If that happened, they wouldn’t even open it. They would merely pick it up with tractor cable, and throw it into the star.

She looked into the transparisteel room, then touched the annunciator.

“That was an insane gamble, Meeri.”

The Ithorian looked up from the desk where she was working, and sighed. “We had to know for sure. I am sure that none of the toxin was released, and this-” she waved at her prison. “-is only a precaution.

“I don’t want to lose you, Damnit! Of all the self centered egotistical-”

“It is done, my master.” Meeri said. “Besides, my people are experts with such materials. If I had not gotten the sample, the Office of Special Intelligence would have destroyed it and pretended it didn’t exist.”

Breia had returned to the enclave on the heels of a team from Corellian OSI who had quoted DORA, and tried to file a gag order and left with the gas and bioweapon.

The Monks would ignore the gag order, she knew. DORA, or the Defense Of the Realm Act applied to them only if they were citizens of Corellia. The Jedi had fought hard against being defined as belonging, to or acting as agents for, any planet. The Chancellor of Coruscant had found that out the same way a year or so ago in his reelection bid when they had refused to endorse him. When they had then made the same statement about his opponent publicly, they had accepted it.

The monks served the Force, and peace. Not a government. Corellia would learn that lesson as well.

“Any luck?”

“Not as such.” Meeri motioned to the fittings she had requested. A full scale bio lab computer attached to the Monastery mainframe, and from there linked to the University. The entire medical school database was hers to command, and a dozen immunologists across the planet were working with her. “There have been no cases of Iridian plague in Ithorians so far. If I have the disease-”

“Don’t talk about dying so dispassionately!” Breia hissed. “I will not let you go.”

“If die I must, at least this will be a happy death.” Meeri replied calmly. “I have always been better with bacteria than I am with other beings. And if it does not kill me, the research I do will aid in beating it in time.”

Breia sighed, leaning against the transparisteel. “Can’t you be wrong for once?”

“I hope I am this time.” Meeri assured her. Besides, this is only for a month.”

“While I have to sit on my butt waiting, hoping I won’t be saying goodbye.”

“Don’t sit. Have another Padawan learner assigned during the interim.”

“So I can worry at long distance instead!” Breia waved her hand. “All right. I have to report to the Council anyway.”

“You should have done that first.” Meeri told her. “You’re always telling me to do everything in the proper order.”

“All right! I’m going.” Breia lay her hand against the cold metal. Meeri walked over, her hand touching the other side.

“May the Force be with you, my Master.”

Breia walked out, head down, deep in thought. She walked across the compound toward the council chamber.

Someone appeared at her side, and she glanced up. “Oh it’s you.”

People can say so much with just a few words. What Breia could have said was; We have a crisis, people are dying, a planet has been captured by pirates, the pirates have ships and weapons that should never have gotten into their hands. The deadly virus they somehow obtained may have infected my student, and instead of sitting here with her I have to go out and stop them. On top of all this, there is you little miss Admiral‘s daughter...

Hello, you.

Sienna walked with her. “How is Meeri?”

“Fine so far. But the plague is nasty. She might start showing symptoms any day.”

“I hope she doesn’t have it.” Sienna said. “She is such a good friend.”

“How well do you know her?”

“We were students together obviously. She is probably the only one in my class that ignored my looks.”

“That must have been hard.”

“Why? To an Ithorian humans are rather ugly, you know. But even the other non-humans seemed to be affected by me.” Sienna sighed. “Why couldn’t I look like Mama or my sister!”

“Sister?”

“Yes. Captain Freya Dodonna. When she was in her teens she was a willowy young thing. But as she grew older, she started looking like mama. Squat, solid. Looking like she could walk through a wall without a combat chassis. I didn’t even take after Papa! He is rail thin. He looks like a brisk wind would blow him away.

“Somehow, I ended up looking like this.” Sienna waved at herself. “A young man’s wet dream. I was happy when the order asked me to join. Maybe someone in the world would look beyond the face.”

They paced silently for a moment. “Breia, I wanted to thank you.”

“For what?”

“You are the only human woman I know who hasn’t either bared their claws or hissed at me in my life. You may think my taste in clothes is a bit extravagant-”

“A bit extravagant?” Breia turned to face her. “You had me parading in public in an outfit I wouldn’t be caught dead in and you think it’s just a bit extravagant?”

“Defense mechanism.” Sienna answered. “If every woman acts like you’re going to steal their lover, husband whatever, you tend to start being just a leetle bit defensive.”

“I understand.” Breia sighed. “A lot of men don’t look at my face when they talk to me.”

“That is one part of you I envy.” Sienna replied. “If I had those...”

Breia pictured her chest superimposed on the other girl. “The entire universe would become a black hole with you at the center and every male old enough to think about breeding trying to get closer until all matter collapsed inward.”

The women stared at each other, then burst into laughter.

“Friends?” Sienna asked.

“Friends.” Breia agreed.

They continued on into the council chamber. Reyes and Caroli with their Padawan learners were already there.

Soo-chin sat in the center, flanked on one side by master Hobart, and the other by Master Lang. The others took their positions.

“Report.”

Breia motioned to Sienna. “The Corellian navy has been notified, and an investigation is in progress. Admiral Tran of ONI will keep the Council informed, but is not running the internal investigation. Too many of his senior men are suspect.

“Tran have asked that we contact the Coruscanti and Twi-lek ourselves to avoid warning the ONI men that would be watching us. Relations between the three governments has grown distant of late.

“The navy is going to assign the Thule operation to a special operations unit. A ship is being prepared to take down the planet’s defenses.” Sienna motioned to Breia.

“Corellian Special Intelligence has been informed. Two different investigations are being conducted there as well. Deputy Director for Internal Affairs Prentiss is handling one. My mother has one of her assistants, Logos, handling the actual investigation.”

“Why?” Master Lang asked.

“Master, in my mother’s own words, Prentiss couldn’t find his own butt with a map and guide. He was appointed by Director Moran a few years ago, and having worked with the local intelligence organization before, I must agree with her. He was in charge of the Corridan investigation if you recall.”

Three years earlier, the Jedi had uncovered links between the Corellian Corridan Corporation and a slavery operation. They had turned over their data to OSI which had proceeded to muddle the investigation so thoroughly that all operations by the slavers had been relocated, and all evidence linking the corporation had been destroyed. OSI had turned around, pretty much called the Jedi alarmist, and closed it having achieved nothing.

“Your mother’s investigation will be concealed by the more obtuse group.” Soo-chin replied. “Excellent.”

“She gave me introductory material for both the Coruscanti and Twi-lek authorities.” She held up the chips her mother had given her. “The Twi-lek contacts will bypass Premier Lassa’s pet dogs.”

“As much as I agree with you sentiment, let the term ‘pet dogs’ stay in this room.” Master Soo-chin said. “Reyes, you will go to Coruscant. Contact their navy and intelligence. Caroli, you will do the same on Ryloth. Padawan Solo, since your student is in medical isolation, I would suggest you have another assigned.”

Breia looked at her. “If Master Hobart doesn’t object, I would ask for Padawan Dodonna to be assigned in the interim.”

She saw amusement in Soo-chin’s eyes, and was that relief in Hobart’s? Soo-chin glanced at Hobart. “If Master Hobart doesn’t object-”

“Oh, no!” Hobart looked relieved, never noticing the slight grin Soo-chin hid. “No objection at all. I can see she will learn a lot from you, Padawan Solo.”

“And I from her.” Breia replied.

“I hope not.” Soo-chin whispered. “And what will this dirty pair be doing?”

“I was going to ask for permission to go with the Corellian operation on Thule.”

“Of course. Well you had all best be about it.”

Breia walked out, followed by Sienna. “You know a mask might help.”

“A mask?”

“Yes.” Breia glanced toward her. “We have enough members of other races in the order. If you were to wear say a Marine helmet, no one will see your face and get... distracted.”

Sienna thought of that. “I’d have to wear full robes. Hood and all.”

“If you can stand it.”

She grinned, looking at the older woman. “As long as you dress a little more... flamboyantly?”

“Perhaps a little.”

“I have just the outfit!”

“You would.”

*****

The Corellian Armed merchantman Star Trader rested in the civilian space-dock. Two people approached it from the docking ring, and the sentry noticed them. He waited until he could see them clearly, then thumbed his com link. “Maybe those are the Jedi we‘re expecting, but the one I can see at this distance doesn’t fit the description you gave, sir.”

“Meaning?”

“Built to die for, with blonde hair.” He squinted. “This one has coal black hair.” He grinned. “But she does have some interesting... attributes.”

“Check them in.” The Guard Commander ordered.

The pair stopped at the gangway. “Padawan Solo of the Jedi, and my Padawan learner Sienna.” The guard looked at the other person. The form was muffled in full hooded robes and a long flowing cloak with a bulbous Marine helmet painted a deep scarlet. Then he turned his eyes back to Solo. She was wearing a robe something like what her assistant wore, but it showed more.

A lot more.

The upper portion had been cut down to her waist, showing an expanse of creamy tanned skin and the mammalian swelling on both sides held in and up, he believed, with either magic or repulsor lift technology. He wondered for a moment what would happen if she panted, then put the thought aside because of the discomfort it might cause. The bottom had been slit up both sides, hanging in a vee front and back which showed equally creamy legs above half boots.

“Welcome, Jedi. The captain is expecting you.”

Breia nodded, and the pair walked past him. “Oh, and Sergeant?” She motioned up from mid chest. “My face is up here.” The man reddened, turning back to his post.

“I can barely see out of this thing!” Sienna complained.

“If I had been dressed as I normally do, he wouldn’t have noticed us until we spoke.” They reached the lift. “Bridge.” Breia ordered. The lift shot up about halfway through the ship. The center spindle of a 7 megaton freighter was the living quarters engineering spaces etc surrounded by the cargo bays. The design was a container carrier meaning that instead of being able to see the hull in the distance, there were obvious bulkheads.

The bridge would normally be at the bow, and there was a conning station there with all of the standard fitting. But they stepped out into a respectable copy of a corvette’s bridge buried in the heart of the ship. A woman was in the command chair, checking a pad, making notes. She looked up, then set it aside to stand.

Captain Freya Dodonna looked exactly like her sister’s description. Short and broad as a hatch. Her face was beautiful but unlike her sister, not so arresting that she would stop traffic.

“Jedi.” She nodded, taking in the figure beside Breia. “I thought my sister had been assigned to this mission.”

“She was.” Breia replied, motioning toward her companion. “Do you happen to have a wastebasket?” Freya looked at her oddly, lifting the canister from beside her desk. Breia lifted what appeared to be a detonator.

“What are you-” Breia pressed the button. Sienna gasped, then began hacking, hands clawing desperately, trying to remove her helmet. She threw it aside, taking the wastebasket Breia handed her, and began to vomit explosively.

Captain Dodonna looked at her sister, then as Breia in question. “Your sister decided to dress me in what she considered ‘appropriate’ clothes a week or so ago.” Breia said over the moaning and choking. “Let’s us just say that payback is a bitch, and so am I.”

“What... was... Oh gods!” Sienna buried her head in the wastebasket. “Was that?”

“Rankle rat musk.” Breia replied. “Pretty bad, eh?”

“Oh you-” The head went back down. Shoulders heaving.

“If you feel something like your intestines coming up, I suggest you stop.” Breia told her helpfully.

Freya turned away, her shoulders quivering. Then she turned back, the only sign of amusement the glint in her eye. “I would ask that you not do that again.”

“I have no intention of doing that again. Once is payback. Twice is a declaration of war.” Breia replied. She knelt by Sienna, who was moaning into the bucket as if she were dying. “Now from this point on we are going to act like professionals, agreed?“ Sienna nodded frantically. “This is just getting even for that outfit you made me wear. It doesn’t have to go any farther now does it.” Frantic head shake no. “Truce?”

Not trusting her voice, Sienna stuck a hand out blindly, and they shook.

Breia stood, hands clasped behind her back. “Captain as soon as my assistant is back on her feet, we can get underway.”

Freya smiled slowly. “I see you and my sister will get along like a house on fire.”

Breia cocked her head. “What do you mean?”

“Smoke, flames, confusion, people screaming, and destruction far beyond where we actually are.” Sienna groaned, setting the bucket aside and wiping her mouth. She nodded thanks when Breia handed her an anti-nausea pill. Once it began to take affect, she staggered to her feet. “Tell my, big sister, has anyone gotten even with me so efficiently before?”

“The girl at camp when you were seven.”

“Hey, she doesn’t count! She was trying to kill me!” She shook her head.

“Come now. A seven year old trying to kill you? She just didn't know she could kill you."

“Weren’t you supposed to take command of a Frigate?”

“Yes.” Freya looked a little bothered. “But Mother and Father asked me to command this mission. Since Star Trader has to do her shakedown cruise anyway, I agreed. No one will know that we have something more important on our plates. Give me a slaver or a pirate to shoot at and I‘ll be happy. And once we’re home...” She grinned, a feral look that went well with what Breia had heard.

Char Ell
05-14-2006, 06:08 PM
Breia pressed the button. Sienna gasped, then began hacking, hands clawing desperately, trying to remove her helmet. She threw it aside, taking the wastebasket Breia handed her, and began to vomit explosively.

Captain Dodonna looked at her sister, then as Breia in question. “Your sister decided to dress me in what she considered ‘appropriate’ clothes a week or so ago.” Breia said over the moaning and choking. “Let’s us just say that payback is a bitch, and so am I.”:rofl: Friggin' hilarious! I'm interested in seeing whether or not the truce holds up. :smirk2:

I'm also anxious about Meeri's fate. Will the Ithorian start showing symptoms of an Iridian plague infection or not?

Jae Onasi
05-14-2006, 07:43 PM
:rofl: Friggin' hilarious! I'm interested in seeing whether or not the truce holds up. :smirk2:

I'm also anxious about Meeri's fate. Will the Ithorian start showing symptoms of an Iridian plague infection or not?

I laughed just as hard as Cutmeister on the payback thing, and worried just as much about Meeri.

Soo-chin commenting that Holani's investigation would be 'concealed by the more obtuse group' was very amusing. :)

machievelli
05-14-2006, 07:53 PM
I laughed just as hard as Cutmeister on the payback thing, and worried just as much about Meeri.

Soo-chin commenting that Holani's investigation would be 'concealed by the more obtuse group' was very amusing. :)


To tell you the truth Meeri has gotten out of control. Her fate at present is in her hands not mine.

I was remembering every internal investigation I have ever seen when I made the comment about 'obtuse' groups. We are going to spend most of the next two chapters looking at them in depth as the investigations continue.

Jae Onasi
05-14-2006, 09:20 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing just how obtuse they can get, because I'm sure that will be even more amusing. :D

Oh-oh, it's generally bad news when the character gets out of control....

machievelli
05-16-2006, 02:33 AM
Determination
Admiral Tran read the chip he had collected, rubbing his jaw. He had been ordered by the CNO to investigate the ships that had passed into pirate hands. It might have been easier if Page hadn’t died last year. His replacement Veren was a little too well connected to the Senate.

So he’d violated orders.

He was waiting for his best man to arrive. The one man he could trust to investigate thoroughly.

Out in the outer office, a thin man with unruly hair was going through his pockets as the Secretary glared at him. No one knew how Cracken had stayed in the Marines this long. He always looked unkempt, slovenly, walking the corridors of power with a perpetually stupid look on his face. After 34 years of service he was still a Captain when most his age had their third star.

Cracken reached finally into his tunic and pulled out the folder with his ID. He handed it to the secretary, who ran the chip into his scanner. It bleeped green, and he handed it back.

“Could you at least try to look presentable?” Cracken looked at the younger naval officer, already a captain, and ran his fingers through his hair, making it if anything worse than it had been. Then he pulled down his tunic, slid the folder back into the inner pocket, and walked up to the door, knocking.

“Come!”

Tran looked up, smiling sadly. Cracken was looking worse every year. He started to talk, but Cracken’s hand moved slowly. As he approached he kept fidgeting, looking it would seem, for something else in his pocket. He stopped at the chair, then gave it up as a bad job. He snapped to attention, and his eyes closed slowly, then snapped open again. Tran’s mouth tightened.

“I hear they are upset with you in the shipyard. “ He said gently.

“Can’t remember where to file the goldenrod copies.” Cracken said defensively.

“I can cover for you again, but you have to do better.” Tran printed out a chip. “I want you to head over to Personnel. They need a man in charge of records. Since all you have to do is put the files where they belong, you should be able to handle that.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Cracken took the chip, holding it as if he didn’t know what to do with it.

“Put it in your ID folder. Inside your tunic.” Tran suggested. Cracken dug out the folder, slid the chip into it, turning the folder slightly so that Tran could see a glint of scarlet light. Then he put it away.

Tran sat there alone for a long time after Cracken had left. It could be worse than he had anticipated.

*****

Captain Nial Cracken left the building, headed across the quadrangle toward the Personnel building. He saluted the senior officers he passed automatically.

Fifteen years earlier he had been a Master Sergeant, working as an assistant to a brand new Captain in intelligence assigned to the Embassy on Nal Hutta. Except for stripes instead of bars, he looked not unlike how he looked now. He had been the assistant to the Naval Attache. The captain had been sent as a replacement for a very successful agent who had died suddenly in a shuttle accident and despaired at ever being half as good. Cracken had walked him through the process, and was going to leave as the Captain tried to work out a contact schedule with the various agents he now had to handle and had muttered a name under his breath.

Cracken had taken pity on the man, and began listing each agent, the race of that agent, whether they were paid, patriots, thieves, disgruntled, all with the Captain staring at him in amazement.

Cracken had been the ace in the hole at the embassy for almost five years. A master not of disguise but obscurity. The man could wander through a room and even professionals had trouble remembering him. He had been the agent in place running the agents with a skill that made people wonder if he had done anything at all. He had been so good at his job that the Hutt Internal Security service had not even considered him a suspect. He saw everything and forgot nothing.

Cracken had a photographic memory, and had always thought that his image was the best possible disguise. Unfortunately, everyone seem to think he was the image. A misapprehension he had fostered his entire career. Everyone except for the extremely successful agent that Captain Tran had replaced, and Tran himself.

Tran had risen meteorically from that point on. He was already an excellent investigator and analyst, having Cracken working for him delivering the data had made him a man to watch.

When he’d gotten his first star he had returned home, with the bemused recently promoted second lieutenant to handle his records. Everyone had come up with reasons for why Tran had taken him under his wing. All were flat wrong.

Cracken began his act as he approached the building. He actually knew exactly where everything was. He knew exactly how much cash he had in his pocket (Ten credits 73 centimes in the front right beside his lighter) how many smokes he had left (three out of one 20 pack, one full pack. Both in the inner right breast pocket) and how many people he had seen today (421 counting the seventeen children between the ages of four and seventeen).

The quiet investigation on Corellia was to begin not by JAG or ONI, where it would have been expected, but in personnel, where one of Siriali’s old friends worked, as did another old associate of Tran‘s. It was a good thing they had.

Cracken fidgeted out his ID, and was sent down to records. He knew the system. In fact it had been upgraded thanks to suggestions he had made to Tran when Tran had been briefly assigned to Personnel after his return from Embassy duty.

He sat at his terminal, and processed the multitude of forms that fed a military bureaucracy instead of food. He was a stolid worker according to those that watched him, constantly emptying his In tray every hour.

What no one noticed, was his attempts to break into the secure system and actually read those files. He found it tough going. He was an excellent slicer, but he found he needed a miraculous one to break through the security systems.

*****

The Wraith Cantina was a dive, pure and simple. A place you went where nobody knew your name and cared less. The pair were an odd mix. Rath Amidala was from Krieos, running fast he could catch a fatal disease. His partner Nance Page was slim, petite, and looked as if she should be selling cookies. They got their drinks, and took a table in the back. The one they wanted had a robed occupant already.

“Weird.” Nance lifted the mug, sipping. “Somebody tagged you through your own files?”

Rath nodded. He had been checking his personal files, and found message he had not put there. MEET AT WRAITH. BRING YOUR BEST FRIEND.

Amidala looked around. “I thought no one could break into those files. Not without a code key.”

“I had one.” They looked up at the robed figure that had stood from his table, and moved over to them. His accent was the hiss of a Twi-lek. “Your own from last month.”

The pair turned to look the newcomer over. “So you knew I’d notice that it was an old code?”

“You change codes the way women change their dresses.” The figure looked at Nance. “No offense.”

“None taken.” Nance replied levelly. If she had owned two dresses when she was a kid, she would have changed them. “You set the meet, have a seat.”

The man at least from the voice sat, hand holding a glass of whiskey. It disappeared into the hood, and came out empty.

“First, my proof that I know what and who you are.” He gestured with his head toward Page. “Nance Page is the name you are using now. Full name Nance Welbourne Page. Daughter of miners on an obscure little planet. The miners revolted, and were put down hard. You were a sneak thief with a gift for locks and security systems.” He waved a hand. “Don’t worry. I’ve seen what that colony was like. If you weren’t a miner or with the government, it was find a way to make money or die.

“Your parents, were not involved in the rebellion, but were killed in a firefight between government and rebels. You joined the rebels, and used your skills to help them carry out assassinations. The rebellion ended when the Company pulled out, leaving you all to die. But you survived until another Company bought up the rights. They were willing to accept everyone. That is everyone but the hit team you were part of. You’re the only survivor after the bounty hunters got through. They think you’re dead.”

He turned toward Amidala. “Rath Amidala. Full name Rathmar Forgeren Amidala, twin brother to the last King of Krieos.” The figure shrugged. “If they had not used a Cesarean section to save your lives, you might have been the senior twin and claimed the family title. Your brother seems to still think that is what you wanted. After several attempts by assassins, you left home, but now it was bounty hunters on your trail. You faked your death with the help of an organization called the White Brotherhood. An interesting name for a criminal gang. They used your skill at slicing to make them a fortune until they ran afoul of the authorities. Most of them are dead or in prison. You skated by accessing the Police database, and removing your name.” He signalled, waiting for his drink to arrive. The pair watched him like dogs awaiting an order to attack.

“Now I for one don’t care what you might have done except for one thing. Right before you got together as a team five years ago, you each did a service for the Corellian ONI. If you don’t know what the other person did, you can ask later.

“But thanks to those services, I was able to find you. There are no bounty hunters looking, and I will tell no one. In fact, if you help with what I need, even the ONI records can be scrubbed.” The glass went in, and came out empty. “Plus we give you enough cash to start over, and get you off planet.” He signalled for another shot.

“Sounds tempting.” Nance said levelly. “What’s so important that you will do all of that for us?”

He picked up the drink, told them, and it followed the others into oblivion as they stared at him in shock. He had his next drink before either found their voice.

“You’re insane!” Nance whispered. “Do you know how secure those records are?”

“Better than you do.” He replied. “You don’t need to steal them. Just fry them, and make it look like someone off planet. And it has to be done during the day when the night precautions are not in effect, which would give you a lot more to deal with. Those are requirements.”

“I’d say it’s impossible.” Rath snapped. “Seven layers of encryption alone by day.”

“As I said. No need to steal or access them. Only to fry them. That’s only two layers deep.” The drink disappeared.

“He’s right.” Nance said. “Initial access and query access.”

“Yeah. But you set a virus loose Fleet Security comes down like the hammer of the gods.”

“That’s why you need to be quick and good. Both of you are that.”

They looked at each other, then at him. “And the pay?” Amidala asked.

“As I said. All records expunged, tickets off planet, and cash.”

“How much cash?” Nance pressed.

“Name a figure.”

“Half a million Corellian credits in gems. Each. Half delivered before we do anything.” Amidala replied. “This is so big we would never want to work again. Too much chance they would catch us even with your clearing our names.”

He paused. “Done.” He reached into a pocket, and a scintillating pile of gems poured from a bag. “These are so you can verify the money. The retainer you get for listening to the proposal. The rest if and when you agree.”

Nance picked up a Coruscanti fire opal, looking at it in the light. “Not synth?”

“That is for you to verify. However if I remember correctly, the bartender has a scale. Trust it?”

Amidala snorted. The bartender of the Wraith as a Bothan. No one could convince him to use a crooked scale.

The device was brought with the next round. Nance put the gem she had picked up on the scale. It was a combination scale scintillometer, with a connection to the exchange for verifying market value. The stone hit, was scanned, weighed, and a figure came up. 500 credits. The total of all of them came to just under 15,000.

“The stones are good.” she told her partner.

“So. Yes, or no?”

“We’ll need some time-”

“Within the week.” The robed figure said. “That is non-negotiable.”

“Agreed.”

He stood, and another stone dropped on the table. “That will cover our drinks.” He set down a pad. “That will contact me only within the next two days and can‘t be traced. Give me a time.” He turned and walked away.

*****

The day started like any other in central records. But that was about to change.

*****

“Perfect.” Amidala said, rubbing his hands at the sight of the terminal. Nance nodded, rigging pressure mines on the door, then another in the center of the floor.

“Set.”

The slicer sat down, and inserted the specially made chip. It had taken three days to make it, and when it was done it would fry so there was no traceable material remaining. He cracked his knuckles, and began programming.

He hummed an atonal song that would have grated if Nance had not been with him on jobs like this before. He worked swiftly, cutting through the first layer like butter. The second was harder, but now he was in. He uploaded the virus, and activated it, shutting down.

He almost made it. As he shut down the second link the computer froze, Fleet security slicers tracking to their location. At this distance they would be here in minutes.

“Let’s get out of here!” He snapped. Nance triggered the mine in the floor, and they dropped into the empty apartment below. A series of mines took them down four floors before they stopped. They peeled off the latex they had over their clothing, and Nance dropped a pyro on top of them. They were at the lift when the fire alarms went off.

The lobby was crowded when they arrived. People were moving swiftly and quietly toward the exits. The pair had just stepped out and turned to move down the street when an assault shuttle landed, Marines in combat armor and armed to the teeth pouring out. They missed getting caught in the cordon by walking calmly down into the mag-lev subway.

The next train was headed for Centralia spaceport, and they allowed it to leave, taking the one for downtown instead. Five minutes after boarding, they climbed out in the financial district. They walked to the street, caught an air cab to a local bar, and sat down to have a couple of drinks.

“I have never seen Marines move that fast before.” Nance said, sipping her brew.

“If they had known what had happened, they might have come in with shoot on sight orders.” Amidala replied. They stayed in the bar for three drinks, then caught a cab back to the mag lev line. This time they went past their target. Marines with scanners wee checking everyone leaving or arriving.

*****

The Admiral rubbed his forehead. “Now explain again why I almost got arrested for bad debts?”

The Paymaster Lieutenant sighed. “Sir, whoever tried to access our payroll section used a sophisticated worm program what would have transferred cash directly from everyone’s accounts-”

“Everyone’s?”

“Yes sir. But it’s a subtle little bug. What it does is take just the last centimes from an account. Say your pay is like mine, 400 credits, 43 centimes. This would have rounded it down to 40 centimes instead.

“But you multiply that small change by almost a million Naval and Marine personnel, and it is one large chunk of money.”

“So they failed.”

“Well, yes and no. You see the worm is based on a Coruscanti data mining worm that deletes all data it passes through. In this case, everyone’s payroll records.”

“So you just input the ranks... Why are you shaking your head, Lieutenant?”

“Sir, when they changed the payroll allotment system ten years ago, it was decided to give bonuses for time in service, time in grade, medals of honor, combat time served, etc.”

“I know that.” The Admiral had been able to put a down payment on a house thanks to that new legislation.

“But those files are not kept in payroll, sir. They are in sealed Personnel files. I can’t just pay say every Vice Admiral the same! Some would be satisfied, but you for example would take a 10% pay cut until it’s fixed.”

“Oh hell.” The headache was getting worse. “So what do you suggest?”

“We need to enter all of the data necessary manually. Any attempt to load it by pad or data dump might have segments of the same worm.

“We’re lucky at least that the best man at manually data entry was just assigned to Personnel last week. Nial Cracken.”

“Cracken. I’ve heard that name-” The Admiral snapped his fingers. “About sixty but still a Captain? I was thinking of having a promotion board meet to refuse him a star. He’s already... Again with the head shaking?”

“Sir, there’s a reason he hasn’t had that second board. You see, he started as an enlisted man. He only made Captain about five years ago. When the board met the first time, he didn’t get his star because he isn’t what you would call a political genius. More of a ‘beat on it until the problem is solved type’. So he didn’t get an assignment to Staff or Tactical Studies Group. Both needed if you want a command above a company. They decided to have a second board the next year, but the Bursar in chief sat on that one and had his name pulled. After he explained why they agreed.”

“Why?” It was pretty much a military axiom that it’s either up or out. If two promotion boards met and turned you down, you were supposed to resign.

“Sir, he has the Blood Stripe, two Naval Medals of Honor-”

“Two? You mean two mentions.” The Admiral said.

“No sir. Two distinct awards ten years apart. Both for Valor. He also has Two Parliamentary Crosses, also for valor.”

The admiral suddenly saw where this was going. “With a lifetime stipend each.”

“Yes, sir. 5% of his salary every month for life. But if he resigns or retires, that not only goes up to 10% each, but there are the promotions as well. Each of those medals had an automatic promotion of one rank upon retirement.”

“So what? We pay him a Brigadier’s...” The Admiral watched the lieutenant shake his head.

“No sir. Each medal give him one step up the ladder. We had the same argument with the Parliamentary fifteen years ago when Fleet Admiral Freido Dodonna retired. He was supposed to get a promotion for both of his medals, but there wasn’t a rank to raise it to. That is why he is paid more than the Prime Minister.”

“And this Captain...”

“Would be paid a Fleet Admiral’s salary, along with time in service bonuses plus 50% additional pay above that. He would be getting paid more than the two senior officers in the entire Navy combined. As you can see, the promotion board didn’t want to force him into retirement.

“As it is he got the first PMC eight weeks out of boot camp at the age of 20 for the Bertrand incident and racked up three of the five before he was 25. Right now he draws more pay than you do, sir.”

The Admiral glared at him. “So this Admiral except for his stars is the best why?”

“He has a slight problem speaking when he’s dealing with a computer. He stutters, mumbles, digresses, that kind of thing. He learned to use a Keyboard back when they were still standard, and can type just under 100 words a minute. Give him the Fleet list, have him go through personnel files and pull the necessary data to send to Payroll, and we can be back on track before the next pay period.”

“But that’s pretty sensitive data.” The Admiral hedged. “What 90% of fleet has their pay deposited directly?”

“Sir, he’s not smart enough to be a good thief, sir.”

*****

Cracken tapped the annunciator on his desk. “Cracken, Personnel.”

“Captain, please hold for Admiral Wainwright.” The voice said. A moment later, he heard the Admiral. Since there was no viewscreen on his desk, Cracken allowed himself a smile.

“Cracken?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you heard about the payroll problem?”

“Yes, sir.”

“We need the necessary data passed to Payroll ASAP.”

Cracken counted mentally. Right before Wainwright could snarl he said, “Sir, since the officer’s data is more sensitive, I will pass off enlisted records and first 3 Officer’s ranks to my senior staff, if that is acceptable. We may be delayed by the normal requests we get, but they will handle those as well.” And you don’t give a damn about some E2 fresh caught boot getting paid when it’s you that gets arrested for failure to pay debts. He didn’t add.

“That sounds like an excellent idea.” Wainwright’s voice sounded like someone that had just seen a pet do a trick he hadn’t been taught. “By the end of the week?”

“If I start at the top and work down, I’d say ten days, sir.” Which means only Naval Captains commanders along with Marine Colonels have problems. But that doesn’t bother you either.

“Then you had best get to it.”

Cracken told his staff what they had to do, Called half a dozen different departments for loans of clerks, and had the senior officer records transferred to his terminal. He began as he had said, at the Fleet Admiral.

The payroll department needed a lot of data. Dates of entry rank combat and service commands, medals, and when they had been awarded.

What a lot of people didn’t realize was that promotion boards had to file written decisions, with signatures. Having funds directly deposited gave the discerning a record of how much money went through your banks accounts. Each page was looked at by the patient man, and set aside.

He could hear groans from the records sections outside. All they heard was the machine gun click of his keyboard.

*****

Nance looked up as the robed figure approached. The man sat, his whiskey disappearing into the hood. “According to fleet Security, a bunch of Coruscanti immigrant kids broke into the fleet records section.” He looked at Rath. “That was pure genius.”

“Thanks.” Rath replied. “To tell you the truth, if I’d known how close we would come to getting caught, I would have jacked up the price to 1.5 split.”

“One question. Whose idea was it to ding the credit reports on the Admirals and Generals so they would end up with dunning notices?”

The pair looked at each other.

“Neither one of us really like officer-” Nance began.

“-Especially those with stars-” Rath added.

“-So it was both of us actually.” Nance finished.

The robed figure looked from face to face. Then set down a bag a little larger than his hand. “The bonus is for the most fun I have had in years.” He stood, and left.

Nance called for the scale. Silently they tested each stone

“Son of a bitch.” Nance said when they had been counted.

“Like he read my mind.” Rath said.

They had been paid a million five.

Jae Onasi
05-16-2006, 11:46 AM
:lol:
Too much fun. Dunning notices, indeed.
I love it when master spies get things done because everyone completely misjudges them as twits.

machievelli
05-16-2006, 11:54 AM
I had the most fun because something like this could really screw up any military organization. There is an old saying that you don't dare mess with the payroll clerk, because he'll lose your check, and it will take a small forever to get it reissued.

Char Ell
05-16-2006, 11:41 PM
That was an awesome chapter. I think I have an idea who the faceless robed figure in the Wraith Cantina was. But seriously, that's some great intrigue in that chapter! Well done! :clap2:

machievelli
05-22-2006, 04:15 AM
Scattered petals.

Padawan Yaka of Ithor came out of hyperspace, running in toward Coruscant. Clearance was granted gladly. Padawans Carola and Costi met briefly with the local Council, then were taken to the Coruscant Special Intelligence service where they briefed in Maygar Phelp. The man was new, obviously a political appointee, but just as obviously willing to admit when he was out of his depth. The three senior men, all old time intelligence agents waited until Admiral Lucas arrived with his small staff, and the Jedi were debriefed. As were the Corellians, they were alarmed that ordinance still on the secrets list had somehow been sold, and were willing to assist.

Unfortunately a trade war of sorts had begun between the two planets. To facilitate communications, the Jedi were asked to be the message bearers so that the Chancellor (Who had been informed of the investigation but not it’s scope) could claim plausible deniability.

Once done, they slept, then took off for Bothuwai.

*****

“Master Gretu of Triseki Requesting approach clearance.” Padawan Samsun asked.

“Nar Shaddaa approach control to Jedi courier Master Gretu of Triseki. Permission granted. Welcome to Nar Shaddaa.”

“That was easy.” Samsun said.

“Easy it should not be.’ Yodai grumbled. “Congregate here many who think law is for others. Letting us arrive unremarked not possible.”

“So whoever we’re looking for will know.”

“Arrived we have, yes they will. Why matter different.” Yodai grinned. “Like thieves they are, all will look to affairs part of they are. Relax they will if look at their affairs we do not. Drubba the Hutt in businesses many. Look at them instead of ships.”

Samsun had been with Yodai long enough to be able to translate his way of speaking. “So we investigate things Drubba has only a peripheral interest in?”

“Yes. But lead to our objective all trails will, accidentally.”

“Okay, so smuggling?”

“Smuggling, spice sales, slaves, all transport need. Registry of ships search for these. At same time, find where ships come from we do.”

“As if it would be that simple.”

“Lucky you are.”

“Why?”

“Hutt knows humans animals are not.” Yodai looked at him. “Had ready leash and collar.”

*****

Padawan Sani of Naboo arrived at Ryloth. The situation was if anything worse than the others faced. Corellia and Coruscant might not be on speaking terms, and the Hutt had so many fingers in so many pies that they themselves might not be able to resolve the situation.

But Ryloth had turned away from the others out of what appeared to be merely pique. The new Premier, Merio Lassa had almost immediately fired every senior Twi-lek who even seemed to like the humans. Oh it wasn’t the screaming dismissal you might have expected. Twi-lek politics was always cognizant that whoever was on top today would very well be on the bottom tomorrow. The replaced people were promoted into positions of responsibility, just away from where they would deal directly with out worlders.

The permission to land was curt. The Jedi did not have a Monastery here, and only the fact that Kreil was himself Twi-lek seemed to be the determining factor.

“How shall we handle this?” Kreil asked as he shut down the systems.

“If you speak to Bib Wanatagi it would probably go unremarked. However by the same token Kalo Fortuna is an agent handler. Seeing him with a human would also deserve little scrutiny.” Reyes ordered.

*****

The restaurant was, in the words of a human friend, a dive. Kreil, who had problems with the human tendency to euphemisms, wondered what they were supposed to dive into.

It was locate less than half a kilometer from the Offices of the Navy Directorate, and according to sources, the place Wanatagi went to for lunch. Though after looking at the menu, Kreil wasn’t sure what was so good about the food.

He recognized Watanagi as he came in. The man went to the bar, picked up an already poured drink, and headed for a table nearby.

Kreil stiffened, reaching for his sword when a voice behind him spoke. “Very poor tradecraft.“ commented the woman in Twi-leki. He started to turn, but something nudged him in the back. “I wouldn’t do that. Blood is so hard to get out of the floorboards. Move over to your right, into the booth.”

Kreil stood, walking over to the curtained booth. He drew the curtain aside, stepping in and to the right sharply. The weapon continued on, and he grabbed it, pulling the woman off balance. He tapped her on the shoulder, spinning her around so she landed on her butt in a chair.

The ‘weapon’ was a human designed cane. He looked it over. No trigger or stud, no signs that it could be broken down to load ammunition. He looked again, then squeezed the metal ferrule. There was a hiss, and a small metal dart stuck in the wall.

“Interesting.” He held it in both hands before him. “Why did you threaten me?”

“I was watching you. When Wanatagi came in, you were immediately alert.”

He handed her the cane. “I came here hoping to meet him.” He turned his back. “If wishing to meet him is a reason to kill me, then do so.”

He could almost sense her confusion. Then the curtain opened, and Wanatagi entered. The officer looked past him. “Either use it or put that damn thing away, Morilli.” He snapped.

Kreil heard the tap of the cane hitting the floor. “I wasn‘t sure what was going on.” She said defensively. “This Krasmeh was watching for you to arrive-”

“I have not insulted your family. Must my mother bear such an insult?” Kreil demanded.

Wanatagi looked at him levelly. “I am sure your mother danced for her husband, friend. May I ask why meeting me was this important?”

“I am Jedi.” Kreil replied. “I was given your name through the daughter of a friend.”

“That friend being?”

“Holani Solo.”

“Ah.” Wanatagi nodded. “And she sent you why?”

Kreil handed him the chip. “Because your government and Corellia are not on speaking terms, and giving this to your superior would merely mean it was thrown away unopened.”

“What is this concerning?”

“A Crasbashti class corvette known to be in the hands of pirates.”

Wanatagi sighed, slipping the chip into a pad. “And what do you expect me to do about it?”

“You still have connections. Could you investigate without being noticed?”

The look Wanatagi gave him was cold. “The day one of those paper pushers catches me, you can expect my resignation.”

Kreil bowed his head. “I did not mean to insult your honor.”

The intelligence agent sighed. “I am sorry that I took it in such a manner. Jedi are not known for their cutting words.” He looked to the woman. “Morilli, please get us some drinks.”

“What about-”

“My girl, or assignation will have to wait another day.” He reached up, brushing her Lekku, and she shivered. “I regret that more than you. But our planet needs my energies at this moment. Forgive me?”

“Always.” Her eyes were lambent, and Kreil wondered if she was going to tackle him and have her way even with a witness. She gave the agent one more smoky glance, and went out.

“A very... spirited woman.” Kreil commented.

“And well supplied with what nature gives.” Wanatagi agreed. “Now if you will excuse me...” He read the file swiftly. Like Holani Solo, he read it more than once. However any notes he might have made were in his head.

“So a station that was once ours harbors these thugs. They are shipping weapons they should not have access to, including warships.”

“Not only of yours but Coruscanti and Corellian as well.” Kreil agreed. “We of the Jedi are the only conduit between the three powers. Yet not even we can speak directly to the Premier. There are too few of our race in the order. If they send a human, the first thought she will have is not of the order, but which planet birthed them. If they sent me, she would ignore it because in her opinion I am merely repeating what some human has told me to say.”

“Your council cuts to the quick.” Wanatagi commented. He leaned back, considering. “The Corellians and Coruscanti both have embassies, but delivering this to them would be a red flag to our own intelligence. What would you suggest?”

“The Bothans.”

“Intriguing. May I ask why?”

“The Bothans have always been circumspect. They tend to be extremely inquisitive, most would say nosy- but their banking institutions seem to find ways to direct that into fruitful labor.

“For a small fee, the Bothans will send correspondence that is as well protected as any diplomatic pouch. Better in fact because they will hunt down and kill anyone who tries to break into it. Since this fact is known to anyone who might want to steal it, merely putting it into the bank’s hands ensures delivery except for natural disasters.

“They have their own courier in orbit, or will have one here before too long. You know how they are.” Everyone did. The Bothans were well known for their integrity.

“And who pays for these messages?”

Kreil drew a card from his pocket. “Give this to the Bank manager. It will cover such communications at the rate of one a day for the next decade.”

Wanatagi took the card. “A lot of money to trust me with. Are you sure-”

“Oh please.” Kreil laughed. “If I gave you nothing, you would complain that you are ill-used, but do it anyway, I offer enough to pay for more than we need, and you act as if you are ready to pocket the household silver!” He shook his head. “A game you play so well from how you have done it. If I did not trust your integrity, I could have handed you this one.” He reached into an other pocket. The cards were identical. “This one is enough for perhaps three months. Then we would have had to set up more meets.”

“You really trust me that much?”

“Of course not. An intelligence agents always squirrels things away for a rainy day. I didn’t even mention returning the card, now did I?” Kreil smiled. “I am sure that there will be other things the Jedi might wish to be informed of. If we are informed as needed during that time, we are well paid.”

Wanatagi looked up as Morilli entered. She glowered at them, setting the drinks down. “Nothing for yourself?”

She grumbled, flouncing into the seat. Wanatagi ran a finger up her arm. “We still have time for... something before I have to return to the office.”

Kreil slid another data chip across. “Look at this. If I am right, your can take half a shift off claiming to have compiled it.”

Wanatagi looked askance at him, then slid the chip into the pad. He froze as it scrolled, then leaned forward. “A major slaving ring? Here?”

“Yes. We Jedi collect a lot of odd data that means nothing to us, but will to people such as you. Why not enjoy your time with your paramour?”

“Oh indeed yes.” Wanatagi grinned like a shark. “I think I shall.”

*****
When Kalo Fortuna got a request to meet a human, he picked the spot. There weren’t that many off worlders on the planet, and most were followed by internal intelligence constantly. This one however had not only slipped his leash, but passed a message that he would be interested in talking to an agent handler. Internal intelligence still didn’t know how the man had escaped their surveillance. The man who should have been watching him couldn’t explain how the message for this meet had ended up in his pocket.

Fortuna had chosen the place, a small dining establishment in the heart of the city. It was his own private joke that the location was less than a kilometer from the local prison.

As any good agent would he arrived early, slipping in through the back door. The kitchen help ignored him once he flashed his badge, and turned to their work. At the back of the dining area were several booths that used electronic imaging and suppression, so he could sit there and be totally ignored. To the naked eye, the booth was unoccupied, and once he had sat down, sensors notified the owners that it was in use, so no one would be seated there.

He was a little irked to discover that the human was already there. He had been early, the human must have been half an hour or more early. Silently Fortuna watched him. The human was merely sitting there, drinking tea as if he had not a care in the world. His clothing

An hour passed, but except for getting his tea refilled, the human did nothing. It was as if he had nothing to do but sit and swill tea until the heat death of the universe.

Finally Fortuna sighed, scored a mental note for the man, and stepped from his booth.

The instant he stood, before he had even moved, the man looked up. As if he could see through some of the most expensive and efficient anti-spying software ever made. Then his head dropped again, and he read the pad before him, allowing Fortuna to approach supposedly unremarked.

“You do know that an internal security agent has been fired because of you.”

“I should hope not. Not many can follow a Jedi unless he allows it.” The man replied. “I would hope that you are Kalo Fortuna?”

“Yes I am. As if you did not know.”

The human turned the pad. The picture was one of those taken in bad light at a great distance, then enhanced. It was definitely a Twi-lek, but nothing else could be verified from it. “As you can see, the Corellians didn’t have much. Having been told about you, and being what and who you are, I would have been astonished if anyone had ever gotten a proper vid shot of you.”

“Not since my fifth birth anniversary.” Fortuna admitted. “I never stand still long enough.”

“And you are considered one of the best at what you do by someone I think is a good judge of such capabilities.”

“Does this paragon have a name?”

“Holani Solo.”

“Ah, the Black eminence herself.”

“Shouldn’t that be a gray eminence?”

“Not if you know her legend as well as mine. A gray eminence is behind the scenes, shifting the pegs to make the pattern they want through others. Our dear madam Solo will do it that way, but preferred ‘fixing’ the problem with a little hands on work in a lot of cases. “They made her your Director of Operations because she always had a nasty penchant of getting her hands dirty.”

“Not mine.” Reyes replied levelly. “I am Corellian by birth, but I have my own allegiances.”

“A Corporate one perhaps?”

“No. My allegiance is to the Force.”

“Ah. A Jedi.” Fortuna looked at the man levelly. “You asked for this meet, and there are a number of people above me that will wonder why.” He looked toward a waiter, signaling. “If it is all right with you, I would like something to eat. After all, you did interrupt my lunch.”

“By all means. And you can call off the three men with weapons who are waiting to arrest me when I step out as well.”

“Very good. I would have to grade you as adequate.”

“Is that all?” The human looked at him with a wide eyed innocence that caused Fortuna to laugh. “Because I didn’t mention the police cruiser two kilometers overhead, the four squads of tactical response police within 400 meters of the doors? Perhaps if I mention the transmitter attached to your-”

“Enough. Your grade is excellent. May I know who I have praised so?”

“Tolomeo Reyes. Padawan Teacher.”

“I will make a note that your order has learned to excel in this work.”

“I expected you would. Master Jondri at Coruscant will be pleased.”

“He was such a scamp when I hunted him. It is nice to know he remembers me fondly.”

“Especially when it is cold.” Reyes told him. “They had to rebuild both of his legs before he joined the order. They hurt when in winter.”

“I left him alive. Let him know that.” They paused in the conversation as a bowl of soup appeared. “So, stun me with the acumen, Jedi. Convince me that it is worth my while. And as you are at it, consider that everything you tell me will reach the ears of my superiors.”

Reyes slid across a data chip. “That is why we supposedly met. But I am asking you to tell no one why we have met unless you are willing to trust them with your life.”

Fortuna loaded the chip, reading it. “So there are slavers. This we knew.”

“But who and what group they are preying on, you did not.” Reyes snapped. “To know for sure who to investigate will give your superiors a chance to show their worth.”

“There is that. So tell me, what is this my superiors must not know?“

Reyes slipped across the next chip, and Fortuna read it as well.

“So.“ He hissed. “I may have what I need to repay an old debt.” He slid the chips into his pocket. “The owner of Ryloth Shipyards is an old enemy. His company manufactures those ships. If I can prove he knew anything...”

“We need to discover who before you score your revenge.” Reyes warned. “Other people are also affected.”

“And how can we communicate this to you?”

“The Bothans.”

Jae Onasi
05-22-2006, 09:38 AM
Glad to see you back in writing action. I was beginning to despair of another chapter, it had been so long. Well, maybe not _that_ long, but long enough. :)

One thing--this paragraph stops abruptly:

"He was a little irked to discover that the human was already there. He had been early, the human must have been half an hour or more early. Silently Fortuna watched him. The human was merely sitting there, drinking tea as if he had not a care in the world. His clothing"

Thought you'd want to know that to finish the sentence. I'm one of those people who enjoy the little background details.

Holani reminds me more and more of Mary Pat (one of my favorite Clancy characters). :D

machievelli
05-22-2006, 11:30 AM
Holani is a bit of Mary Pat, and a lot of Modesty Blaise.

machievelli
05-22-2006, 11:32 AM
Glad to see you back in writing action. I was beginning to despair of another chapter, it had been so long. Well, maybe not _that_ long, but long enough. :)

Sorry. I have another story (Defined as erotic fiction) that also caught my interest. Add to that that we've just gone broadband and the system is still giving us fits, and there you are...

Char Ell
05-23-2006, 08:57 AM
“Yes. We Jedi collect a lot of odd data that means nothing to us, but will to people such as you. Why not enjoy your time with your paramour?”
I learned a new word today and as a result made it my personal Word of the Day! Thanks, machievelli!
paramour
n. A lover, especially one in an adulterous relationship.
He was a little irked to discover that the human was already there. He had been early, the human must have been half an hour or more early. Silently Fortuna watched him. The human was merely sitting there, drinking tea as if he had not a care in the world. His clothing

An hour passed, but except for getting his tea refilled, the human did nothing. It was as if he had nothing to do but sit and swill tea until the heat death of the universe. Jae Onasi already mentioned this but did something get accidentally cut from this passage?

I think I need to go back and read this story from the beginning. I seem to have lost track of what is going on. The governments of Corellia and Coruscant have been warned of the weapons as well as the Iridian plague. Now Ryloth (Twi'lek home planet?) is getting into the mix too. Although it appears that all three planets must keep their investigations on the down-low and only include trusted individuals because it would take corruption at some of the highest levels of government for these weapons to get into the hands of pirates. That summarizes what I've got thus far.

Add to that that we've just gone broadband and the system is still giving us fits, and there you are... Welcome to the Internet the way it's supposed to be. You know what they say, right? "Once you go broadband, you never go back." ;)

machievelli
05-23-2006, 10:08 AM
I think I need to go back and read this story from the beginning. I seem to have lost track of what is going on. The governments of Corellia and Coruscant have been warned of the weapons as well as the Iridian plague. Now Ryloth (Twi'lek home planet?) is getting into the mix too. Although it appears that all three planets must keep their investigations on the down-low and only include trusted individuals because it would take corruption at some of the highest levels of government for these weapons to get into the hands of pirates. That summarizes what I've got thus far.

Actually it's three version of the same problem. On Corellia you have a head of Civilian intelligence who is corrupt or incompetent (It happens a lot in real life) and an ONI where the head is anticipating problems. On Coruscant you will notice everything flowed in one chunk. ONI and Local counter-intelligence working together.

On Ryloth, it is another situation. It isn't that they don't trust everyone. It's a matter that the goverments aren't talking. So the investigations start at a lower level, and the upper echelons get draged into it.

Note all of the governments have ships (Lerger than snub fighter) in use by the pirates.

Welcome to the Internet the way it's supposed to be. You know what they say, right? "Once you go broadband, you never go back." ;)

Great. Except for the modem deciding it doesn't exist, e-mail that refuses to let you in, a web browser that will not load, and changing all mail over, I'm doing great.

Jae Onasi
05-23-2006, 11:56 AM
Once you get it going right, though, you'll be amazed at how fast everything seems.
I switched over to Firefox for the browser--works better for LF, seems to load a little faster. The tabbed browsing is cool, too--I don't have a bunch of open windows anymore, which is nice, especially when I'm trying to research and want to compare things between a few sites and then write something down in Word.

machievelli
05-23-2006, 12:53 PM
Once you get it going right, though, you'll be amazed at how fast everything seems.
I switched over to Firefox for the browser--works better for LF, seems to load a little faster. The tabbed browsing is cool, too--I don't have a bunch of open windows anymore, which is nice, especially when I'm trying to research and want to compare things between a few sites and then write something down in Word.

So far my wife and stepdaughter can get in. But neither account, mine as master, and the sub account I created tell me I don't exist.

machievelli
05-24-2006, 12:38 PM
The trap is sprung

The ship arrived with the flash of a burned out hyper drive. The ships operating around Thule noticed it, and the faces were ecstatic. A nice ripe prize had just dropped into their laps.

But this gaffed fish could bite back...

“There are the Wasps.” The censor officer reported. “The Crasbashti Is not here at the moment, neither is Prince of Peace but right there-“ He haloed a target “Is a target that fits the data for Sunspot.” He hummed, working, then tapped another blip. “Their orbital station. Pretty good sized. Coruscanti design.”

Captain Dodonna leaned over his shoulder. “Three out of five isn’t too bad. We intended to hang around long enough to get them anyway, assuming they aren’t gone too long.” She thumbed the intercom. “Engineering, give us ten percent, but intermittent. We just suffered a major engineering casualty.”

“What should we be able to see?” Breia asked.

The sensor officer tapped a red line on the display. “That is commercial sensors against something not emitting. The blue line is what we would pick up if they are emitting with the civvie equipment, and this green line is where they would pick us up on passive.” The blips of the warships were well inside the last circle, but still outside the blue one.

“So we can’t see them, or at least they think.”

“Correct.”

Freya stood back, turning to the silent Jedi behind her. “Well, ladies. To work.”

*****

To the unsuspecting, it was the perfect trap. The huge freighter stumbled along, plaintively asking for help. The station contacted them first, chiding them along, telling them that a small squadron of the Corellian Navy was in system, and would render aid when they could. Sunspot had moved closer to the station.

But to the all seeing eyes of military grade hardware, it was a different story. The two Wasps had done a slow turn to come up behind them, all of it silently. The readings on Sunspot showed an additional fusion generator being brought on line. Preparation for an attack.

The crew of the Merchant raider were on alert. Down below, the Marines were getting into their armor and checking their weapons.

*****

“I will be going with you, Commander.” The helmeted Jedi commented. The Voder gave her a female voice, but it was harsh, metallic. She wore a blood red skin suit, good enough for vacuum, but nothing compared to the hell of modern day warfare. As armor went she might as well have been nude.

“Commander Devries of the Corellian Marines sighed. “Ma’am, I don’t have anyone escort you-”

“I do not need an escort, commander. I can take care of myself.”

The commander had to admit she probably could. He had watched her sparring with the other Jedi, and both had been impressive, faster than anyone he had seen with a sword. But... “Ma’am, I don’t know how many boarding actions you have been on-”

“This will be my second.” She replied. “My first was at Alpha 4 with the 7th MAF.”

“You were there?” He looked at her. “What were, you, eighteen?”

“Fifteen.”

He nodded slowly. “All right, Ma’am, you can go. But if you get killed it’s your own damn fault.”

*****

Unlike an assault transport, which is designed to take damage as it goes in, a Merchantman is fragile. It doesn’t have the heavy decks needed to support assault shuttles and their fighter escort. Instead, a designer had come up with a unique idea. There is a bird native on Corellia that hung head down, wrapping itself in it’s wings like a cigar. When it flew it would let go, dropping until it gained speed, then the wings would snap out.

So the fighters and Assault shuttles were anchored to the central core like lethal grapes, the cargo bays left open, and ready. Instead of the usual winches, the main bay hatches were anchored with explosive bolts and rocket pack. Now six hundred Marines waited in 14 shuttles, along with thirteen additional pilots for the signal to go.

The ship finally staggered into orbit, approaching the station. The ‘naval squadron’ had split, one to either beam on the approach. The officer commanding the station started to lean into the console, ready to make his demands when suddenly the ship seemed to explode outward. Guns popped out of hidden ports along both sides, and he just had time to recognize assault shuttles when the world seemed to explode.

*****

The Corellian navy had looked at the problem like this; Not every pirate used commercial vessels. A lot of them recently had been picking up the odd warship, and the guns a merchant usually carried were too light to do more than scratch their paint. Worse, if you ended up at war, the enemy obviously had warships, and you knew they would snap up the occasional merchantman. But a Merchant Raider’s job was to take out the enemy. Capture his shipping, protect your own, and if you went toe to toe with the big boys, make sure they remembered the fight, and not fondly.

You need guns, lots of guns, the bigger, the better.

Then again, any kind of projectile takes time to reach it’s target. Any sensor officer worth his rating would see them, and they would return fire. A merchant was frightfully fragile, and one broadside from even a corvette would shatter it. So projectile weapons were out.

Instead of regular guns, Star Trader carried a dozen laser-energy weapons in each broadside. Mixed laser and particle beam, they had massive throughput, meaning most of the energy put into the system came out the muzzle. Since they were light speed weapons, it also meant that the first you knew about them firing was the impact. Since the ships were on opposite sides, that meant that two dozen beams were fired, twelve at each.

One of the Wasps rang like the bell from hell as the equivalent of a ton of explosives ripped through her hull where each beam hit. The beam caused the hull to flash into plasma which ravaged the compartments beyond. The aim had been as well as expected. But after all, the Corellian crew knew the specifications of ships they were firing at, and that helps a lot in such situations. The ship to port fell away, engines destroyed, power cut to the weapons. The other had turned at the last moment, and the beam that sliced into her engine room struck the fusion bottle. It vanished with it’s entire crew in a ball of flame.

A dozen fighters and a Corellian Shadow class courier roared away from the ship, arcing past the station, running down on Sunspot. They outstripped the assault shuttles which had divided, four of them headed for the wounded corvette, the rest screaming in toward the station.

With her more dangerous opponents out of action, the merchantman turned, and her guns began to pick away the chain gun and laser turrets they had already mapped hours ago. It was easier than you might imagine, since the station commander hadn’t expected to be attacked, and they were all on standby. Almost the instant the shuttles would have hit it, the last weapons were smoking divots.

*****

Sienna bounced against the restraints as the shuttle plowed into the station, ripping it’s way almost it’s entire length into the structure.

“Go!” Devries screamed, and panels blew out. The Marines poured out, securing the area as the pilot backed jets, backing the shuttle out of the hole before the automatic systems could seal it in like a bug in amber.

Sienna moved through the fluctuating gravity as if it were steady, raising her hand to halt the advance.

“What are you playing at?” A sergeant screamed at her. She pulled out a flat metal star, throwing it down the passageway ahead of them. It had traveled less than three meters before guns roared along it’s length. The metal hit the deck hammered into something that might have been displayed in a surrealistic art show.

“They don’t want to play obviously.” She drew her sword, cutting into the bulkhead beside the passageway. Moving down through the access way she was cutting, she threw the now disabled sensors out. She backed up, repeating the action on the other side. A second star imbedded itself in the end of the passageway.

“The way is clear now.”

“Sorry.”

“The 7th didn’t think I could do it either.” She said. “Follow me.”

*****

"Pirate vessel, this is Padawan Breia Solo of the Jedi Order. You will shut down you engines and prepare to be boarded. You have ten seconds to comply.” She watched the glittering web of fighters that spun around the ship. If they had fled earlier-

“Hyper drive warning!” Someone shouted. They had lit off their hyper drive. Less than ten seconds...

“Fire!”

Three of the fighters bored in, their guns ripping through the hull plating. The ship staggered, then opened up like a lethal flower.

*****

Sienna ducked, her sword snapping up to remove the hand of someone who had been foolish enough to wait for the spearhead. She grabbed his clothes, slamming her head into his with a bone jarring thump. Her helmet saved her from any pain. The same couldn’t be said for her victim. He collapsed, and she motioned for a Marine to move forward and bind him.

“Come on! Do you want to live forever?” She roared.

With a roar, the Marines ran forward. Resistance was crumbling everywhere. Without her presence, the butcher’s bill in the booby-trapped corridors others had found had been high. But her quick action, and their reporting of it to other units had kept the losses down.

She ran forward, outpacing her escorts, arriving at the command center door. She plunged the blade into the bulkhead beside it, and cut swiftly. With a crash a section two meters to a side fell outward.

The station commander spun around and wanted to scream. Wanted to turn again and push the button that would blow the station into shards.

But when he saw the figure in blood red armor with a scarlet helmet step almost daintily through that newly cut hole and approach him, his resolve died. He could tell it was a woman. Hell, in a skin suit, you can tell if a man is happy or not. But there was nothing in that walk, that stance, that bared sword that spoke of a nurturing nature.

It was a nightmare from hell. A war goddess come to play. If he blew the station, somehow he knew it wouldn’t stop her. She would follow him through every afterlife and she would find him.

The station commander took one look at the monster heading toward him and threw down his side arm. She slowed, raising the point of her sword, and he clasped his hands behind his neck, falling to his knees.

“Commander, when this is over, you and I will have a talk.” A breathy rasp told him.

The Marines with their lethal looking weapons were almost a relief.

*****

Through the station in intercoms and com units blared.

“This is Padawan Dodonna of the Jedi Order. As of this moment, any armed pirate will be killed without being given the chance to surrender. That is all.” The voice was not wheedling or triumphant. It was a flat metallic growl that reached down into the hindbrain of every man aboard and said Yes, I will kill you all. I have no further patience.

Men that had considered a last ditch fight, that thought to bury their teeth in a throat before they died felt their bowels loosen. They threw down their weapons, stepped into view, and knelt with their hands behind their heads.

*****

“Second company reports the surviving Wasp has been taken. Casualties among our people are light.”

“Commander Fourth MAF reports the station is ours.”

Freya looked up from her command chair. “Survivors from the other two ships?”

“None, ma’am. The Wasp and the Prince of Peace were both destroyed with all hands.”

She sighed. The modifications that had given her enough space to house a Marine Battalion and the fighters had been thrown in at the last minute, but she figured it was worth it now. A merchant raider fighting warships, even small ones was too much like nuclear weapons at ten paces.

“Contact the fighters. Tell those lunatics to come in slow and let our cables drag them in.”

*****

Breia settled her courier in on the captured station. She looked at the outfit Sienna had suggested. It was the same skin suit and helmet Sienna wore, but in a solid unrelieved black. A visage that would strike terror.

She sighed, and changed. The helmet was restrictive to view, but looking at herself in a mirror, she knew it was what they wanted to do. Convince the surviving pirates that not even hell would save them from vengeance.

The Marines looked at her, helmet cradled under her arm. One of them chuckled.

“Something funny sergeant?” The tone was not cold or demanding. It was a friend asking another friend what the joke was.

“Ma’am, Do you watch crime dramas?”

“Not really. I have been too busy learning my trade.”

“Well there’s a phrase they use in questioning. ‘good cop, bad cop’. Know it?”

“I understand the concept, yes.”

“Well you two, your ‘bad cop even meaner cop‘.”

She looked at her attire, thinking of them, black and red, not yin and yang but both aspects of the same thing, and each terrible.

She understood now. It wasn’t like the Corellian personnel didn’t know what she looked like. But that the enemy did not. Meeting not two women, they meet two faceless monsters that would not show pity or restraint. Creatures that would want answers, not excuses.

She looked at the sergeant, bowing her head with a shy smile. “Sergeant, would you be frightened of me in my normal clothes?”

“Only if I had a brain, ma’am. I’ve seen you fight.”

“This is just a costume.” She waved toward the suit. “When I am done, I take it off and hope to all the gods I never wear it again.”

“Ma’am, as much as barristers talk about the rights of the criminals, I remember the faces of those they murdered. You want to hang him up by tender parts, I’ll find a place to attach the line, and haul him up at your order.” His face was bleak.

“Sergeant, you and I will have a drink afterward, and a talk. I think you’ve been doing this too long.”

He looked at her askance. “Like you haven’t?”

She bowed her head, acknowledging the hit, and lifted the helmet, sliding it on until it clicked on it’s locking ring. Her voice was different from Sienna’s the voder set for a mezzo soprano. “We both need a rest, sergeant. Maybe we could take a quiet leisurely cruise on the ocean, you and I.”

“Together?”

“Why not?”

“Padawan!” She turned back. “What would my wife say?”

“Bring her along.” She left, leaving him confused.

*****

Thoughts ran through the Station manager’s head. How could he keep them confused, make them look the wrong way? The monster had sent him off to the cells, and he didn’t think any Corellian officer would allow...

The hatch opened. A blank faced Marine motioned, escorting him down to the interrogation room. He was motioned toward a chair, and he took it. The silence was starting to get unnerving. The opposite hatch opened and the Scarlet horror walked in.

Sienna saw the look on his face. If he had been on a heart monitor, the needle would have spiked clear through the top of the machine. She stood there, arms crossed, watching him.

The strain stretched his nerves like meat through a grinder. He wanted to scream, to start the questions, to beg for his life. Anything!

He showed it with bravado. “Well? What are you waiting for?”

The hatch opened again. This horror was an ebon presence that seemed to suck all of the light out of the room.

“Waiting for my associate.” The Scarlet one replied. “Now, we have questions, and you will give us the answers. One way or another.”

Char Ell
05-27-2006, 02:53 PM
Nicely done. I enjoyed how you described both strategy and tactics and the reasons certain methods were employed in this clash. Very well done.
The sensor officer tapped a red line on the display. “That is commercial sensors against something not emitting. The blue line is what we would pick up if they are emitting with the civvie equipment, and this green line is where they would pick us up on passive.” The blips of the warships were well inside the last circle, but still outside the blue one.

“So we can’t see them, or at least they think.” I'm not sure I properly understand this passage. The pirate ships were inside the green circle (military sensor range?) but outside the blue circle(civilian sensor range?). So the pirate ships had military sensors but thought the "Trojan horse" merchant vessel only had civilian-grade sensors and so were staying out of the Trojan horse's civilian sensor range?
But when he saw the figure in blood red armor with a scarlet helmet step almost daintily through that newly cut hole and approach him, his resolve died. He could tell it was a woman. Hell, in a skin suit, you can tell if a man is happy or not. But there was nothing in that walk, that stance, that bared sword that spoke of a nurturing nature.

It was a nightmare from hell. A war goddess come to play. If he blew the station, somehow he knew it wouldn’t stop her. She would follow him through every afterlife and she would find him. In this section it seems like Sienna used her Force ability to influence minds on the station commander to prevent him from blowing up the space station. Is she also using this ability when she broadcasts over the intercom that all armed pirates will be shot without hesitation? Based off the remaining pirates' reaction I would think so but I find it hard to believe she can influence minds en masse like this.
She bowed her head, acknowledging the hit, and lifted the helmet, sliding it on until it clicked on it’s locking ring. Her voice was different from Sienna’s the voder set for a mezzo soprano. “We both need a rest, sergeant. Maybe we could take a quiet leisurely cruise on the ocean, you and I.”

“Together?”

“Why not?”

“Padawan!” She turned back. “What would my wife say?”

“Bring her along.” She left, leaving him confused.Superb innuendo in this passage, heh-heh-heh. :brow:

machievelli
05-27-2006, 05:12 PM
Nicely done. I enjoyed how you described both strategy and tactics and the reasons certain methods were employed in this clash. Very well done.
I'm not sure I properly understand this passage. The pirate ships were inside the green circle (military sensor range?) but outside the blue circle(civilian sensor range?). So the pirate ships had military sensors but thought the "Trojan horse" merchant vessel only had civilian-grade sensors and so were staying out of the Trojan horse's civilian sensor range?

That is correct. The assumption by the pirates is a logical one. It's a merchant ship, so it has merchant grade sensors. When they slipped around pretending soerhing else, that showed the crew of raider that they were correct and not about to blow a group of innocent sailors to hell.

[QUOTE=cutmeister]In this section it seems like Sienna used her Force ability to influence minds on the station commander to prevent him from blowing up the space station. Is she also using this ability when she broadcasts over the intercom that all armed pirates will be shot without hesitation? Based off the remaining pirates' reaction I would think so but I find it hard to believe she can influence minds en masse like this.[QUOTE]

Actually I was thinking of psychology, especially in combat in both cases. The English won the battle of Agincourt where 5,000+ faced of against over 35,000 because the French believed themselves to be defeated. The station commander expected a Marine, or Sailor, and instead got something like Darth Vader storming toward him. The fact that it was female merely heightened that terror, because as the Afghan women show, they can be a lot nastier.

When she broadcast from the command center, again it was psychological. She's on your frequency, and is announcing that no quarter will be given. As much as a pirate expects as the old saying goes 'a long drop and a short stop' they would rather take their chances with the justice system rather than with a ticked off field commander.

If you have ever read Goldin's novelization of the Princess bride (Or if you have seen the movie) remember the scene where they charge the 60 men at the gate? In the book they had an additional line which made the scene actually make sense. 'The dread Pirate Roberts leaves no survivors.

Anyone who wants to be a survivor must leave now'.

machievelli
06-03-2006, 04:43 PM
(Deep Bow)
I am terribly sorry that this is so late in arriving. I have been working on other projects, and one of them, an erotic fairy story in the real world, went from about 40 pages to over 200.

But I have failed you all in not delivering this in a more timely manner.



The Investigation

All Breia had done in that cramped interrogation cell was stand there, arms crossed. Thanks to the helmet, she had not bothered to glare at him. Instead she had listened to a popular piece of music. When she reached a point where it was of the ‘toe-tapping’ type, she had of course tapped her toes. This had a marked effect on the man as well, causing him to stutter, stumble over words, and become frantic.

If she had been writing a doctoral dissertation of psychological reactions, she would have been intrigued, but with nothing to do but be a grim presence, it was merely boring.

Sienna has sat across from him, sternly asking the questions, using that gift of hers that Breia was still learning, to elicit more response when he attempted to lie. It didn’t work on everyone, she had explained. It worked best on the weak minded. But could bring out more truthful responses in almost everyone. She surmised that part of it was the natural ‘lie detector’ that most people had, and which in some Jedi became a highly honed tool.

She had always been able to sense when someone lied before, and it had been suggested by the Masters of the Monastery that this had caused the new effect, being able to actually convince someone to do something they did not want to do. Luckily for most Jedi it was something they had to learn to do, so the few that had gone rogue through the years had not learned it yet.

Cyron Corissi, Manager, had worked for Deriotech Corporation of Coruscant for years, but had been fired when discrepancies had shown up in the accounts he had controlled. He was a gambling addict, and had been caught embezzling corporate funds. His termination was of the rare ‘not suitable for rehire’ type, which would have kept him on the public dole list until he proved worthy again. But his gambling had actually escalated rather than stopped. He had run up debts to a lot of gambling establishments, and a number of those debts were to people that broke bones rather than talking.

Four years earlier, he had been approached by another corporation, one unwilling to tell him who they were, or where they were based. They would cover his debts, pay him a salary, and threatened that the first time he stole would be his last ever. All he had needed was to see one man thrown out of an airlock a week after he was hired to get the message. Threats had done what nothing else could.

He had become the one thing the pirates did not have, a trained manager able to operate in a wide variety of locales, able to set up and run the ground-side support for ships and crews in any port they came upon. He listed ports, front companies, suppliers, names of officers of ships the Pirate operated, and in some cases, even names of ships that had been taken by them.

The base here at Thule had been a recent addition. Five years earlier, a Corporation had put in a cargo handling station. Eight months earlier, the Pirates had hit the station in force. The people of the planet below didn’t even know they had been taken over, though they had wondered why they were under quarantine. The smooth talking Corissi had claimed to be the new station manager, and told them that there was a severe outbreak of Iridian Plague on the trade route, and all travel from the planet was restricted for fear that it might be passed. Things like mail and supplies had been still arriving, so the citizenry had no real complaints.

The Corporation that legally owned the station had been sending messages, and seemed to accept the replies Corissi had returned. Since the station had been controlled five ships had been captured. All of them independent. The Corporate line ships and larger private ships had been left alone. They had not been snatching every ship that came by, only an occasional one.

What bothered the Jedi most was where the prizes went and what happened to their cargos. There Corissi had no clue. As for those taken here either prize crews took them out, or men were sent from the ‘head office’ and took them away along with the crews.

Breia could tell when they had reached the end of his store house of knowledge when the now totally compliant Corissi had begun looking sidelong at her, and started to sweat. The information he had given them would condemn him to death at their word.

Sienna looked at her, and Breia turned and walked out without a word.

“We will discover where you have lied. If you have, make peace with your gods now.” She said, the voder making it a flat threat. She stood, and left.

Breia pulled off the helmet, shaking her hair free. “I hated that.”

Sienna removed her helmet. wiping her face. “I hated it to. But it gave me a chance.”

“A chance for what?” Breia asked suspiciously.

Sienna motioned at the suit she wore. “These are designer made. The standard ones issued to the Marines are black like yours with camouflage capability. When they released them for civilian use, the designers added extra frills. They are the craze back on Corellia right now.” Sienna touched a control on her wrist, and her suit went smoothly from red to an iridescent green.

“They can be locked as yours is, but by tweaking the programming just a little-”

Breia’s went from black to flesh colored. Without the breastplate of a combat suit, she looked as if she were standing there naked.

“Deal with that.” Sienna laughed.

Breia didn‘t seem alarmed. “Funny.” She brought out a hand control. “I wondered why you spent so much time in that shop. I called them afterward, and they told me of the ‘modifications’ you had made to the suit. I thought it was so amusing I had them give me a control to modify yours as well.”

Now both of them were standing there apparently in the buff. Sienna flinched.

“Now, as the patient holding the dentist’s wedding tackle said, ‘Now we’re not going to hurt each other, are we‘?”

Sienna sighed. “You win.” She reset Breia’s suit. Breia returned the favor. They walked down the passageway. As they entered the bay, Sienna quickly reset it again. Breia stopped at a wolf whistle, looked down, and then back. “Maybe you should look down.” Sienna as well had returned to flesh tone. “I set the control so your suit to mimic whatever my suit setting is the next time it is changed.”

“Damn.”

“Well, are you going to admit defeat?”

“Please no!” An anonymous crewman shouted. He ended with a wail as if heartbroken.

“I’ll never live this down.” Sienna moaned.

*****

Admiral Lucas strode into the building like a capital ship, surrounded by his staff. The lift was ahead, and he saw the figure waiting for him. As it opened, Cracken stumbled, falling into him.

“Sorry, sir.“ He said, then got off two floors up. Lucas could feel the data chip, and inwardly he grinned. Finally!

The data was clearly marked, and damning. A pattern of odd promotions had appeared, along with an equally odd pattern of deaths retirements and replacements in key positions. The present head of BuShips disposal, Admiral Lankar had been in his job only a few years, and already discrepancies had begun to appear, at least under a microscope. Worse yet Lucas’ own adjutant was also in the ring.

The Wasps weren’t the only ships that had been diverted. There were seven in all, including an old frigate that had supposedly been disposed as a target. Money had flowed into the hands of these men, and that had come from...

He touched his com screen. “I’m going out for breakfast.” He snapped. He stormed out of the building, for all the world like a man who still had problems.

*****

Logos looked up as his screen flashed. His assistant Queren Siel looked at him. “Sir, there is an odd message.”

“Read it.”

“Bird seared. What dressing?”

He had the man repeat it, then asked the sender. The address was one of the smaller restaurants in Coronet near the spaceport. “I am going out for a while.”

*****

Lucas sat down, ordering tea, and relaxed. The restaurant was owned by an old friend named Frin Below, an officer that had been badly injured, and retired. Frin nodded to him, and talked to his waiter. The service was prompt. Ten minutes later, Logos walked in. He sat across from the Admiral. “Well?” Lucas slid the chip across, and Logos scanned the file. “This is bad.”

“How bad is it on your end?”

“Three top rankers and an incompetent head man.” Logos replied. “If we can move fast, it will be simpler."

“The worst is that everything ends in a wall of Corporate maneuvering. We know ships is sold off the books, but not who bought them. We can’t close this out unless we can discover another link.” Lucas said depressed. “We arrest these people, and six months, a year from now they’re back in business.

Logos sipped his drink. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Would your man be willing to crack another data base?”

“Who's?” Lucas flinched when he heard the answer. “You know, I was ready to retire. This will be the perfect way to end my career.”

*****

Star Trader moved away from the station, heading back out. Her fighters had been left at the station, along with 200 of the Marines, and the anti-shipping weapons that had been carried as cargo and were now deployed. The next pirate to arrive would be in for a rather nasty shock.

Freya Dodonna sighed as her ship entered hyper space. She turned to the matched pair of dark eminences, for Breia had found she kind of liked the way she looked in the skin tight suit.

As long as someone else didn’t control the setting.

“Well it’s back home, and we can report mission accomplished.”

“But there are still ships loose out there.” Breia mused. We destroyed three, but according to that ONI report, there are perhaps ten more out there.”

“When dealing with pirates, you have to look at it like a gardener.” Freya commented. “You pull the weeds you can reach, and make sure they don’t grow back.”

“Where do you think it will lead, Breia?” Sienna asked.

“Too far up for my liking.” The older woman replied. “Seven high ranking officers just at Corellia. I wonder how bad it is where the others are?”

“We can only wait and find out.” Sienna replied.

“I’ll head back to our quarters. Maybe rereading the material will give me some clue.”

“I’ll be with you shortly.” As Breia walk off the deck, Sienna nonchalantly drew a small control from the pouch on her belt.

Freya saw it. “You-”

“Just a fire suppression drill in the passageway. I just set the temperature index to body temperature.”

There was a thudding of alarms, then the sound of a lot of foam being dumped fast.

There was a long moment of silence.

“SIENNA!”

“Now we’re even.”

“So you think sister. Why not go that way.” She pointed toward the auxiliary entrance, which followed the wiring conduits. Sienna took off at a run.

The hatch opened, and Breia stormed in like a Warrior goddess. She was smeared with fire fighting foam, hair stiff as it began to dry. Freya merely pointed toward the same exit her sister had taken. Breia stalked after her.

“Little sister, I think you have met your match.” She mused, turning back to her controls.

Char Ell
06-03-2006, 09:33 PM
But I have failed you all in not delivering this in a more timely manner.I didn't think so. You've been writing and posting quite a bit here in the CEC so I just figured you were taking a break. I didn't have a problem with it.

The prankster feud between Sienna and Breia just keeps getting better and better. Interesting that Sienna's older sister thinks Sienna has met her match in Breia, heh-heh-heh. Yeah, I guffawed a couple of times as I read this chapter. Quite amusing. :D

I look forward to seeing how Corelia and Coruscant deal with their respective subterfuge issues.

machievelli
06-04-2006, 12:47 AM
I didn't think so. You've been writing and posting quite a bit here in the CEC so I just figured you were taking a break. I didn't have a problem with it.

When before I was posting an average of ten pages every other day, I felt like I had slacked off big time.

The prankster feud between Sienna and Breia just keeps getting better and better. Interesting that Sienna's older sister thinks Sienna has met her match in Breia, heh-heh-heh. Yeah, I guffawed a couple of times as I read this chapter. Quite amusing. :D .

Wait until we get to the rigged toilet.

I look forward to seeing how Corelia and Coruscant deal with their respective subterfuge issues.


That is what I was pushing for. Four planets and three races are involved, but there is no specific internatilnal laws covering it. I.E., the criminals on Corellia can run to say Ryloth, and there is no extradition.

This book is going to end with the first conference between planets with the idea of forming something 'let's call it a Republic' that spans beyond the atmosphere of a specific planet.

Jae Onasi
06-05-2006, 01:23 AM
When before I was posting an average of ten pages every other day, I felt like I had slacked off big time.


Your 'slacking off' gave me some much needed time to catch up. :D I had so many projects to do in May it wasn't funny, and I spent time with my dad after he had surgery (he's doing well now), so I didn't have time to give it the good read that I wanted to do til now.
Besides, when the muse strikes, you have to go for it.

Only a couple minor things I noted:

I got lost in one of the transitions (when you switch from the cantina scene with Lucas and Logos and go to the Star Trader) and couldn't figure out where I was at for a moment until you mentioned Dodonna's name.
Like cutmeister, I figured out the sensor range thing, but I had to read it a couple times to get it--I think if you reword that just a bit it won't be any problem at all.

The stuff I like:

The feud is hilarious. Color changing skin suits indeed.

I love Cracken's character. So delightfully 'bumbling'. You could probably create an entire series on this guy alone.

The trojan horse merchant ship was great, and yes your traps are wicked. I liked the battle scenes and the bad cop/'badder' cop thing, but then again I find criminal psychology rather interesting. The 'music in the helmet to cut boredom' thing made me laugh.

I like seeing how the pieces are coming together on the information and figuring out who's involved. If I were Lucas and felt particularly ornery, I'd plan a personal sting for my adjutant....

The only bad thing is that I have to wait for the next installment of intrigue. ;P

machievelli
06-22-2006, 06:24 PM
Yes slacked off again. However if you look at at the lulu.com website this time next week, I will have another Faerie book up there. 200 odd pages in an orgiastic blast.

So to make up for it...

Other problems

Samsun hit the floor, rolling. He was dressed only in a silken loincloth and a collar. He stayed on the ground, looking back toward the door. The guard, a Rodian, sneered, and the door closed. “I bet Yodai is chuckling his butt off over this.” He whispered.

It had taken a week to get him this close, and it wasn’t until three days ago that Yodai and he had worked out what had to be done. Drubba the Hutt dealt so heavily in the black markets that he had a pudgy hand in everything. Spice, slaves, ships, stolen cargo, you name it he handled it. He was a dark figure in the shadows to everyone in the Black trade. No one met him, the people who carried the messages were always people doing his employees favors rather than Drubba. You could arrest a hundred of his messengers and every employee without being able to prove that Drubba was connected at all.

The only way to break in and discover what was happening was to get beneath that surface. But for an outsider, there was only one way to do that. Become part of it.

Samsun had discovered through the net that the police were completely compromised. The Hutt had always been beings of business, and the term ‘mordida’ would have been defined by local politicians and public employees as ‘proper business’. A Hutt constable walked around with his truncheon in one hand, and the other hand out hoping for a bribe. The same was true right up to the Oligarch. Samsun was surprised, because the society had taken this fact, incorporated it, and went on. They had actually set rates for what was supposed to be paid as a gift. An official who charged too much could actually be fired for demanding more!

As a child they learned to extort money from their elders for chores. They used this money to pay teachers for better grades. The parents paid the children for good grades, and this money was used to pay for higher education, which meant the parents paid them for these grades, and this money was saved for later jobs.

While wildly confusing to the average citizen from just about anywhere else, it also meant that their society worked. To become a clerk, you had to sit (Or in the case of a Hutt slither) for comparative exams. Since you didn’t try for such a position without the necessary baksheesh, it meant that while the officer that gave the exam did collect his toll, he actually had to go by who was best on the exam, and complaining to the local equivalent of the labor board that you had paid your mordida but didn‘t get the job only worked if you could prove bias. The same was true all the way up the corporate and political ladder. No one tried for a job unless they A: had the money to grease the palms, and B: were qualified.

The Hutt had slavery, but it had started among their own race as debt slavery. You were good at your job, but didn’t have the cash. Your boss would allow you to slide on his payment but you didn’t get paid until he was reimbursed. You had a run of bad luck and your boss extended money as credit, and you worked X number of days or weeks to pay it back. But during that time your contract could be sold to another boss, who would expect the same consideration...

Oddly enough, this meant the criminal element were actually more trustworthy and lenient on the whole than the ‘honest’ citizens. They offered terms, gave credit, and since they could actually go into a Hutt court and have the case ruled in their favor if you failed to pay them, they were content.

However about a century ago, they had extended this ‘rule’ to other races. A human working for a Hutt company could end up in debt, then slavery by merely forgetting to read all of the fine print on their contract. When you go to court, and discover your boss has a legal right to have you as property, it can be quite a shock.

Governments quietly put out warnings to their people, but that didn’t stop it. Worse yet, since a Hutt would assure that he had diplomatic immunity before traveling, they couldn’t even free his slave by merely allowing them asylum. The Hutt assured that any businessman that traveled had such immunity as a matter of course.

No one liked it, but at the same time, could do nothing about it.

However there are those pernicious beings of every race that seem to think such a right cannot be extended to just one race. Soon there were Twi-lek Duros, even Human slave owners. As long as they restricted that to their dealings only on Hutt worlds, again, there was nothing anyone could do.

When Samsun had decided to infiltrate the network, he had merely gone to a casino, lost a lot of money quickly, and ended up as Drubba’s slave. However he had two hole cards they didn’t know about.

The first was that at any time Yodai could go to the same casino, pay off the marker, and have him freed in minutes. The other was a skill Samsun had taught at the Monastery.


Samsun could cause electronic equipment to do what he wanted them to do. If he had not entered the order, he would have been barred from the electronic gaming area of every gambling establishment in the Galaxy. When he was three, he had become enamored of the flashing lights of the local slot machines. Since he couldn’t enter the casinos yet, he had made the lights dance standing outside the window watching. The fact that when he did this the machine immediately paid out the jackpot didn’t disturb him. After all, it wasn’t his money being lost.

He could have walked through a casino, setting off randomly every jackpot in the place. All of it only because the lights were so pretty.

That had gotten the three year old noticed by the Jedi.

That was sixteen years ago, and the young boy that liked to make pretty lights dance had become the somber young man that now looked around the room. There weren’t many here right now. Maybe ten or fifteen people, mainly Twi-lek women, Bith and humans.

Only the Hutt...

One of the training classes when he was still a boy had been understanding social structures of the races you would deal with on missions. During one class, a human student had stood up, and given a long rambling discourse on something he didn’t remember now. One of the other students, A Twi-lek, had commented that only a human could find that much meaning in nothing.

The teacher, a Hutt had stopped it before it got violent. He had given the class an assignment. Everyone would write down every such aphorism they had ever heard. Each such list would be a minimum of ten pages long, and they would check with each other so that they didn’t repeat them. However if there was one that had been repeated, the students had to note when they had been repeated and how many times.

The top three were amusing, and appalling equally. They were;

‘Only humans could make war a noble venture’ and;

‘Only the Hutt could make slavery not only acceptable, but profitable ‘.

‘Only a Twi-lek would consider choosing a mate because of how she dances’.

It had taken three weeks of arguing before the class as a whole was willing to admit that these aphorisms were not completely true. The reason they did was after the almost seventy pages had been turned in, the Master had then given every student all of the aphorisms that denigrated his race, and told him ‘prove them wrong’.

Some were astonished to discover that more slaves had been bought by humans than any other race. That some of the most vicious and vainglorious soldiers were among the Duros, who considered war a business venture with casualties. That there were humans of fifteen different planets that chose their mates or sexual partners only after watching them dance.

It was a sobering lesson.

Samsun was looking for a specific Twi-Leki face. There was a woman named Ramadora who had worked in one of Drubba’s office. She had been a data entry level worker. She was renowned for her memory according to their source. Something she had merely glanced at in passing when she was ten was as easily accessible as calling up the data on a computer.

But unlike a computer, her memory could not merely be deleted.

One day someone left a pile of data chips on her desk, and she had entered them. Unfortunately it was supposed to have been given to another clerk, someone who worked on the shadow side of Drubba’s business. The files had meant nothing to her, but there was enough evidence in them that even the bribe ridden Hutt courts would have had to do something.

When the mistake was discovered, Drubba had acted swiftly. He could have merely had a bullet put through her brain, but he still had a use for her, and couldn’t take the chance that she would leave. So he had her kidnapped. When she woke up from the stun web, she was in his private retreat on an island in the Great Swamp. The palace was large enough for a hundred Hutt, but only holding Drubba and his dozen or so men, and the slaves. It was impossible to walk out, and no one had access to vehicles of any kind without his direct authorization.

Now he had an excellent administrator for his stable and criminal activities.

And Samsun intended to get her out of here. But she wasn’t in this room. The problem was, he couldn’t just wander about. The locked door wouldn’t stop him, it was electronic, and he could pop it by merely running his hands over the wall. The collar was also not a problem. He could convince it that it was obeying a punishment command just sitting here.

However as a slave he would not be allowed free run of the building. Once it got dark, he could do some judicious sneaking, but not until then.

The slave overseer came in. A human. “Three for gardening.“ He ordered. He pointed, and each slave got to their feet to follow him. He looked around, and pointed at Samsun. “You.“

Samsun climbed to his feet, feigning weakness, and followed.

The ‘garden’ was a chunk of the swamp that had been left natural in the center of the structure. Samsun noticed immediately the traces of something moving under the surface. One of the slaves leaned toward the water watching them and Samsun grabbed her, pulling her back sharply. A froglike animal leaped up, missing her face by inches, then fell back in.

“The master’s favorite food.” The overseer chuckled. “It’s favorite food is stupid humans.” He motioned toward the mud on the edge of the water. “It must be shoveled out there. If you are not careful you are dinner!”

They had to stand on the squelching loose mudflat, using hoes to pull mud back from the edge. As they did, the daily rains began, washing the mud back toward the pond. Obviously this was a full time job. A killer frog stuck it’s head up, eyes watching the prey just out of it’s reach.

A large form approached. Drubba, and behind him- Ramadora and another woman.

“The shipment from Coruscant has arrived, ready for transshipment to Thule-” The other woman, a human with a collar said.

“Thule has been reported as taken by Corellian forces.” Ramadora replied. “Three ships were lost there.”

“Why was I not told?” The Hutt demanded.

“I told you yesterday at 1300 hours.” Ramadora replied serenely. “Your reply was-”

“Silence!” He grumbled, sliding along the edge of the swamp. He stopped, watching the water. “Doshan. How are my pets?”

The overseer came over, bowing and scraping. “They are not that frisky right now, lord.”

“Maybe they need to be fed.” One of the large eyes rotated to the slaves. “The small one will do.”

Doshan scraped a bit more, then ran over. The smallest slave, the one Samsun had saved earlier, a human girl of about fifteen was grabbed and thrown into the water. It took every scrap of Samsun’s will to resist killing the man where he stood. The girl had time for one scream before the water boiled. Blood sprayed into the water, and one of the froglike animals climbed up, ripping into her face, and stifling her cry as she went under. The water continued to roil for several more moments, then suddenly was silent.

“Get the collar out later.” Drubba ordered. “So where are we to send the merchandise?” He asked, slithering on.

“The factor said that Mooshiro on Ryloth would accept it for transshipment.”

As she passed, Samsun slipped, falling against her. He caught her arm, apologizing profusely, then began writhing as he felt the first shot of pain through the collar. He disconnected the system, just pretending to be in agony, watching the overseer through slitted eyes until he stopped triggering it.

Samsun watched the trio walk away. He would have a reason to sneak later.
*****

That evening, Samsun reached under the collar, pulling out the comlink he had hidden. How and where he had hidden it before the collar had gone on was best left to your imagination. He set it down, then touched the back of his collar. The electronic lock snicked, and it came off in his hands.

He set it down, lifting the comlink, and sliding it into his loincloth. The door was just as easy. He moved down the corridor toward the ‘garden. There was a muttering, and he paused.

“No Doshan, you get the collar.” He snarled. “Can’t let some precious slavey do it. I got to do it.”

Samsun came around the corner. The overseer was standing as far back from the water as he could, wielding a long pole. He was probing in the mud of the bottom, trying to find the collar. Samsun grinned, then went back to the slave’s quarters, returning with the collar.

Doshan felt something land on his back, shoving him face down in the glutinous mud. He felt something being attached around his neck, then the weight was gone. He snarled, leaping to his feet. It was that damn new slave, without a collar!

Samsun held up the control box. “I would think before you move.” He said.

Doshan felt his neck. The collar was on him! “The way out is that way.”
Doshan lied, pointing toward the Master’s quarters block.

“Is that so.” Samsun grinned. “I would swear that is where Drubba lives. Right near the Harem.” He held up the comlink. A small screen was on the side of it, and a dot flashed in that direction.

Doshan opened his mouth to scream, then the shock of the collar drove him to his knees. He felt a hand grab him, the pole thrust into his hands, and he was shoved backwards. The pole caught on something, and he opened his eyes through the pain to see the water only a few inches from his face. Before he could try to resist, something leaped, catching him by the throat. He flailed, falling into the water.

Samsun walked away, headed for the harem. He stopped outside the door, and checked it not only with his eyes, but with those senses that made him Jedi. There was a security section that would automatically activate a collar if someone passed through it. The system was switched on, and was probably for use for the night. He deactivated it, opening the door.

He ghosted past the veiled enclosures until he came to the right one. Ramadora was asleep, and he caught her neck, using a sanguinary strangle. The sleep became unconsciousness. He removed the collar. There was something at her hip, and he ran his hand over it. Something implanted...

Of course. With a photographic memory no password was safe from her. No security system capable of holding her if she knew how to deactivate it. But an implant was where she couldn’t get to it.

He picked her up, carrying her back to the garden. The body of the Overseer was being dragged into the water, and he fought it long enough to pull the dead man’s boot knife free. It was razor sharp. He keyed the comlink locator button, then bent over the unconscious woman. He cut down, pulling out the small vial. He put it aside, then picked her and the comlink up.

There was a roar, and Master Gretu of Triseki was there, exhaust boiling the water of the pond away. Samsun picked up the still unconscious woman. A moment later, the ship was gone. All that remained to show was the crackle glazed glass of the now dried pond, with the bodies of Doshan and the inhabitants fused into it.

Char Ell
06-23-2006, 09:20 AM
OK. So the Jedi have rescued a Twi'lek with a photographic memory from the clutches of Hutt slavery. What information does she have that will help the Jedi in their efforts to thwart the pirates? I'll stay tuned.

JediAthos
06-23-2006, 11:39 AM
I love this story, you're a very good writer Mach...

Jae Onasi
06-25-2006, 05:43 PM
I'm sure she and her memory will wreak havoc with the Hutt's finances. And the corrupt Corellians, Twi'leks, Coruscanti, etc., etc., etc..... :)

machievelli
06-27-2006, 04:06 PM
To those that have been reading...

About three weeks ago, I discovered that we had Adult Swim on demand on our TV. Thinking I was going to watch the movie Ghost in the Shell, I discovered instead I had come into the middle of the first season of the Stand Alone Complex. The episode was #12, which I immediately dubbed 'Little Tachkoma lost'. I enjoyed their antics so much I used one as my Avatar.

If you have seen the series, you remember what happened to these little robots. It gave me the idea for what is about to occur aboard. So blame me, but blame the author of the series too. Well, just a little. After all, it wasn't his fault it happened.

Oh, A Whatever Prize to the first person who can tell me where my new signature came from...

The puzzle

The Jedi monk assigned to the communications room in the Corellian Monastery took the message sent via a Bothan message torpedo, looking at it. It was coded beyond her level, but the first line told her where it was to go. She forwarded it to Padawan Reyes and Kreil.

Only Kreil was in the monastery at the moment, and he decoded it, then added it to the sheaf of information so far recorded. When Reyes returned, they both began to correlate.

An intelligence puzzle is not unlike a jigsaw puzzle except you have no box to refer to as to what the picture might be. You have a lot of pieces that must be assembled, and worse yet, a lot of them are either from some other puzzle, or missing entirely. You may never have all the pieces.

You have to make all estimates from this lack of information, and because you might have preconceptions, you can be horribly wrong. One of the first rules taught to intelligence agents is that you do not use a preconception to prove a fact. You use facts to prove the preconception. If it does not fit the preconception, you discard the thought, not the facts. It is a lesson that is hard to learn. A lot of people can end up dead if you don’t learn the lesson.

Unlike a jigsaw puzzle however, you cannot get disgusted and just throw the damn thing away. You have to patiently wait for more facts to become available.

Bib Wanatagi had discovered a net of men within the Twi-leki government that had been party to the deception they were investigating. The worst part of that was that all of them were highly placed in the present government. Kalo Fortuna had reported less than a week earlier that he was unable to crucify his old enemy at Ryloth shipyards, but had gained enough evidence to convict seven or eight of his subordinates.

The problem was, the paper trail ended at the atmosphere. The ships had been bought by companies that did not exist beyond their logos on offices. The one lead they had was contacts with the Hutt and Coruscant.

A short time later, Padawans Yodai and Samsun arrived. Now the data had a context. Ramadora was not what would be called an inquisitive woman, and her confinement as a slave had not changed that. But her mind held data that finally filled in a great many of the blanks in the puzzle.

All they were waiting for now was Sienna and Breia to arrive.

*****

A4D9 stood at the bottom, of the ramp, contemplating his instructions. Sienna had ordered him to assure that if Breia intended a prank in return for her last one, A4 was to report it to her.

However, Breia had circumvented that instruction by assigning the prank she planned to the droid. It set up an interesting dichotomy.

It is not Breia arranging the prank, so he should not report it. But Sienna had specified that if Breia planned one, to report it. However while Breia did plan the prank the droid was to arrange it, She was not pulling it, A4 was.

If the droid had been of any series but an A4, it would have been reduced to an electronic dither. But the A4s were made of sterner stuff than that. They were designed to operate under conditions where all hell was breaking loose, and to operate efficiently regardless of circumstances. Their AIs were capable of growth and learning.

The A4 series droids were designed for shipboard use by the Corellian Navy, but was being recalled because of those quirks. The A4s downloaded everything in it’s search for knowledge and were very eclectic. There were few hundred of the series still operating.

Straight from the factory, they had default settings. This is how to replace a valve, this is how to reroute a damaged conduit. This is how to load a cannon for a snub fighter. Picture a man fresh from a military training school.

The quirk in their programming had been because of a young programmer that had decided that the droids needed to be able to decide what they needed to learn to do their jobs. Being a reader, he had specified that they would learn by searching databases.

The problem is, as the old axiom says, there are three ways to do something. The right way, the wrong way, and the ‘approved military’ way. Straight from the factory, every setting was already there to do it in the approved military manner perfectly every time.

But to become expert at their job, a human mechanic must know when to set The Book aside, and find another way to do it. If he succeeds, and his method proves more efficient, eventually it might become part of The Book.

It bothered the Navy when the A4s learned other ways and did them in the most efficient manner rather than the prescribed manner.

Sort of like a human mechanic.

A4D9 had the longest running memory of the entire series because the Jedi had allowed it free reign to do so.

It had also been put in the position of pretending to be a massive homicidal spider, downloading the entire medical database from a station and the protocols from a police combat unit.

To say it was ‘conflicted’ is like saying the sun is warm.

A crewman came by, and saw the droid standing at the foot of the ramp. “You!”

The eyes turned to look at him. A pedipalp arm moved in a ‘who me?’ gesture.

“Get over with the others.” He ordered.

Neither Breia nor any of her partners had been this abrupt with it before, and A4 was irritated. But orders were orders. The bases of the legs folded into road wheels, and it rolled across the bay. The sailor grumbled, linking the seven A4s still aboard into a series. The Navy had decided that the way to stop the problem with the A4 was to synchronize their memories. If they already had all available information on say maintenance of the ship‘s snub fighters, they wouldn’t wander off and find seven or eight thousand books (A lot of them fictional) to download and go through.

A4D9 allowed the link, and all seven droids suddenly shared the memories of that unit.

*****

Star Trader dropped out of Hyper space three planetary diameters from Corellia. Her commander notified the Navy of the mission’s success, then turned to the two Jedi that had accompanied her crew.

“Thank you for your assistance, Freya.”

The captain cocked her head. “You know, little sister, that almost sounds patronizing. As if my crew just held your coats.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.” Sienna apologized. “I meant-”

“I know you little twit.” She stood, hugging her sister, then turned to Padawan Solo. “It’s been a pleasure.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Breia replied, shaking her hand. “Be careful, and may the Force be with you.”

Freya held the hand tightly as her sister headed for the door. “Don’t hurt her too much.” She whispered.

“Why Captain, whatever do you mean?” Breia asked.

*****

As the pair of Jedi entered the landing bay, it happened. Of the seven, two had decided that Sienna needed to be warned, but other droids beside them immediately incapacitated those two traitors.

Sienna ducked as a shot of the webbing plastic the A4s used shot over her head. Unfortunately she didn’t avoid the shot at knee level. Before she could scream, she found herself hoisted headfirst toward the overhead. Another droid spun, picked up a canister of heavy lubricating oil, feeding it into a dispenser leg. Another to that one’s right did the same with a canister of fire-fighting foam. A third had done the same with emergency sealant for hull breeches. The last had picked up a packing case full of packing materials, merely small soft pieces of plastic. It fired two threads, and hoisted itself toward the overhead after her.

The legs of the three droids rose, then discharged. Due to the differences in their specific gravities, the firefighting foam shot out and arrived first, followed by the hull sealant, followed by the oil. As target, Sienna was buffeted one way then another by the blasts but she wasn’t the only one effected. After all, when used in proper operations, the oil should have been dispensed at a millimeter’s distance. The sealant at less than a meter, and the fire fighting foam at a safe distance from the fire. Once the canisters had drained, the droid that had rappelled up dumped the case of foam pieces over the struggling person. Four seconds later, it’s bearings seized as the sealant hardened on contact with air.

Except for the screaming from overhead, there was only one sound in the bay when the canisters had drained. That was the chuckling of five robots.

Breia looked at the mess, and the furious ratings spattered with one or more fluids. She looked upward. The oil had in fact atomized, and was probably gumming up the air circulation system even now.

“I think we had better let her down.” She said.

“BREIA!!!”

Jae Onasi
06-27-2006, 05:56 PM
:rofl:

Oh, Lordy. That was funny. :) I'm looking forward to seeing how the puzzle comes together, too.

Does googling the sig count? I'm making use of my available resources, after all. ;) :D

Jeremia Skywalk
06-27-2006, 07:39 PM
This is great! me reading first four chapters in a row, especialy when they are this long realy means something. Only thing i am confused about is what is the time when this is happening... well i understand it is looong time ago, before republic i mean, thats long.

machievelli
06-27-2006, 11:07 PM
:rofl:
Does googling the sig count? I'm making use of my available resources, after all. ;) :D

By all means. Go for it. At least someone other than Hallucination will get the prize. The little gtuy has what, three?

This is great! me reading first four chapters in a row, especialy when they are this long realy means something. Only thing i am confused about is what is the time when this is happening... well i understand it is looong time ago, before republic i mean, thats long.

It is the sequel to Star Wars the Beginning by some guy named Machievelli. That one is set by my estimate about 25,000 years ago.

Jae Onasi
06-28-2006, 12:36 AM
By all means. Go for it. At least someone other than Hallucination will get the prize. The little gtuy has what, three?

and a half if you count the one I shared with him. :D

Answer: Dominion Tank Police.

My favorite Anime btw! :D -RH

JediAthos
06-28-2006, 08:10 AM
Another great chapter...the practical jokes are getting better all the time!

machievelli
06-28-2006, 10:32 AM
and a half if you count the one I shared with him. :D

Answer: Dominion Tank Police.

My favorite Anime btw! :D -RH

My problem with anime is that the blurbs sound so stupid, but then the series is so good. That happened with ProjectA-Ko, Tank POlice and Ranma.

Yup you get the prize.

Jae Onasi
06-28-2006, 11:07 AM
Woo! Whatever Prize! Thank you! I'll give it the appropriate appreciation that it deserves. :D

Battle of the Planets is still my fav, but I haven't seen a lot of the others.

machievelli
06-28-2006, 11:19 AM
Woo! Whatever Prize! Thank you! I'll give it the appropriate appreciation that it deserves. :D

Battle of the Planets is still my fav, but I haven't seen a lot of the others.

Project A-ko's blurb is a child born from Superman and Wonder Woman (Super powers but can't fly) versus a girl who would be Lex Luthor in technological capability fighting over who will be best friends with another girl. When you add in an alien invasion, a ship full of Amazon warriors, and the city they live in getting leveled three times, it gets really ridiculous.

Ranma's was even worse. 'splash a martial artist with cold water, he becomes a girl. splash him with hot water, he becomes a boy'.

Both were good enough that if I had the money I'de have the entire sets.

machievelli
06-28-2006, 06:40 PM
Raiding

“It was only a harmless prank.” Sienna said. She had been cleaned up, as had Breia. They stood in what is nicknamed a ‘Cadet Brace’, a position of attention so tight that the body cannot move.

“So let us see what your little ‘harmless’ pranks have caused.” Freya began in a deadly calm voice. She picked up the pad from her desk. “First, your A4 has infected six A4 droids with this extended intelligence you allowed. My Droid maintenance officer tells me that reinitializing their AIs will do us no good, because they will grow back to their present level the first time they access our data banks. So they are worthless to this ship.

“These droids then sprayed 20 liter canisters of firefighting foam, D71 lubricating oil, and emergency hull sealant in an enclosed docking bay. The foam is no problem, but the oil atomized, got into the filters and clogged them and since no one had told the droids that were replacing them the cause, also flooded four more decks, causing yet more filters to be clogged. Luckily the damage control officer stopped them from replacing more because if he had not the life support plant would have been affected as well. However that caused 400 credits of damage and two thousand man hours because every air vent between Decks 9 and three has a layer of oil on them.

“The hull sealant did it’s job, which means we have an additional 400 man hours of cleanup with blowtorches and hammers to break it all free.” She set the pad down, and the calm broke like a levee wall hit by a 20 meter flood surge.

It was a good thing the Corellian Navy had spent the money to soundproof the Captain’s office. Freya blistered the air for a full half an hour before she calmed down.

“Now, you-” She pointed at her sister. “Will promise me by all you deem holy that you will stop this practical joking now and in the future. If I hear about one more such incident, I will hunt you down and give you the spanking you so richly deserve. Swear!”

“I promise, Freya.”

And you!” She pointed at Breia. “You are old enough to know better. If I notified the Jedi Council on Corellia what you had done do you think they would have approved?” Breia shook her head. “Answer me, damn you!”

“They would not approve, Captain.” Breia answered in a very small voice.

Freya growled. “Then the same goes for you.”

“I swear, Captain.”

“Get out of my sight and off my deck. MOVE!”

The two Jedi staggered into the passageway. They looked at each other silently, then suddenly grinned at each other.

“We’d have to stop.” Breia said. “I don’t think I can top that!”

“Agreed.” Sienna stuck out her hand, and they shook. The cabin door opened, and Freya stood there, glaring at them.

“Oh I forgot, I won’t have to spank you, little sister.”

“Huh?”

The captain handed her a pad. “The surveillance cameras were on, and the rating assigned assured we’d get good... coverage of the incident.” She closed the door.

Sienna looked at Breia with a cocked eyebrow, then keyed the pad. For a long moment, she stared at it, then her face went ashen. Breia took it away, and started it over.

Sienna had been in full ‘bad cop’ uniform. Skin-suit and helmet set for Scarlet. The hull sealant had plastered her left arm to her body, and covered half of her, dripping down until it had hardened. The oil had atomized over her uniformly meaning that attempting to move the frozen form or work on freeing her had been a form of group mud wrestling.
They couldn’t use the sonic system used if it had actually been a hull breach because the oil would have ignited under the sonic waves. Removing her from the suit had been a long painstaking process of cutting the unaffected parts of the suit away, then cutting off the rest of the now solid metal in sections.

At the time no one had considered exactly what this meant. But from the camera above, it looked like a poorly done pornographic movie. She had been nude underneath the suit, so there was a full half hour of her first half nude down the right side, then more being revealed as time went on starting at her head, and moving down her body until her leg was finally free. Through it all, they had been required to wrestle her into position for the next cut, which meant her skin had been well oiled for the viewer.

The two women looked at each other, stunned. “Well your secret is out, Sienna.” She looked at the last segment. “All of them.”

*****

“They’re shot! the Droid maintenance head almost screamed. He looked at the six A4s in the other room. They were not standing against the wall as they should unless on an assignment. Instead they were in a circle in the center of the room talking. Not with sealed packet communications as they should, but for all the world like a bunch of people at a party! He’d stopped listening halfway through because their discussion, like any such discussion of people, had at times gotten acrimonious. They had argued, even shouted!

“Total brain immersion.” His assistant commented.

“I don’t care what you call it. What it means is we have to send the lot of them down to the lab for analysis and scrapping.” The Head snarled. “Leaving us without them.”

“We can get-”

“No more A4s!”

‘Yes, sir.” The deputy tapped the annunciator.

“-but the analysis shows that Brogol did not take into account ambient movement of atmospheric elements when he came up with his weather prediction program.” One of the droids was saying.

“What do you mean? Chaos Theory suggests-” A droid began to reply.

“Don’t start in on Chaos Theory again!” Another interrupted. “Every time we talk you go on as if Chaos Theory explains everything, even though by definition it cannot!”

“May I have your attention please.”

“What do you mean you ill designed construct-”

“May I have your attention please.”

“One more word like that and I’m going to shove your pedi-palp up your stern access port!”

“SHUT UP!” The deputy roared. The droids fell silent. If all things had been normal, the droids would have formed up against the wall. But instead the eye stalks merely turned to look at the nearest monitor. “All A4 units will proceed to docking bay seven and load themselves onto the cargo shuttle there. With no talking!”

*****

The Jedi Council was in deliberation when Padawan Reyes came in abruptly.

“What is this?” Master Desical asked mildly.

“Sir, we have recorded everything of Drubba the Hutt’s operations that Ramadora knew. As you know all of it was recorded while she was in an hypnotic trance. It has taken us every minute since her arrival to do so.

“We were collating it when we came across this.” He held out the data pad. Desical looked at it, then passed it on to the Master to his left. “Is this verified?”

“Not yet, Master. But I must inform the investigators connected to ONI and Corellian Intelligence.”

“Which ones?”

“The ones Admiral Tran and Holani Solo began.” He pointed. “These names are part of the ‘official’ investigations.

*****

The message torpedoes had gone out, directed to the Jedi in most cases. Only one went to an official organization, that was sent to the Minister of the Interior of Nal Hutta. On Ryloth it went to Bib Watanagi.

*****

Drubba the Hutt meekly went with the authorities. His properties were seized, and he was banished.

*****
Premier Lassa glared at the two silent men in his office, then at the damning information that had been delivered.

“You are sure of this?” She demanded. Both Wanatagi and Fortuna nodded. She sighed, then keyed her annunciator. “I want to see the head of Intelligence and Buships in my office immediately. With their deputies.” She looked at the two men again. “Bib, you are the number 3 in Intelligence, would you take over?”

“Yes, Premier.”

“Do you want-”

“No, Premier.” He held up a hand. “That is the problem with our system. Too many in the upper echelon assign their friends and relatives to their staffs to pad them. I ask only that Morilli Desco of Records be assigned to assist me.”

“Does that blanket condemnation cover me as well?”

“I would like to say no, Premier. However one of the accused is your brother. The fact that you are willing to have him arrested speaks well of you. And so I will state to any media that asks me to comment.”

She sighed in relief. “Thank you, sir.”

*****

On Coruscant it went well. Fifteen men and women in Buships, Buweaps, and the intelligence committee were arrested with almost no trouble. Unfortunately, one of them sent off a message torpedo of his own.

*****

Sienna and Breia stepped off the ramp. Meeri stood there waiting for them.

“Meeri!” Breia ran forward, hugging her Padawan Learner. “You’re safe?”

“Yes.” The Ithorian said. “For three days now.”

When we’re done-”

“No, Master.”

Breia stopped, moving back to look her in the eye. “What do you mean?”

“That I have asked to be assigned to the conservation corps.”

“What!” For a trained Jedi, being assigned to the conservation corps was tantamount to admitting failure! “But Meeri-”

The Ithorian laughed. “It isn’t an admission of failure! The Corps senior officer here on Corellia wishes to retire, and I was offered his position.”

“Is that why you risked Iridian plague-”

“It wasn’t Iridian plague.” Meeri replied.

“But the canister!”

“My analysis was that it was Throidalian influenza.” Meeri replied coolly. “Which has a lot of the symptoms of Iridian plague, but not the lethal nature.” She looked at the pair. “Someone wanted to make everyone think the Neshtori had gotten weapons and wanted Corellia implicated.”

Breia looked at Sienna. “We had best-”

A Padawan came running out. “Padawan Solo! The Council needs to speak with you immediately!"

machievelli
06-28-2006, 06:46 PM
Before anyone asks, I remembered that Lucas as on Curuscant, so he has been replaced with Tran, the Corellian ONI head.

Hobart was head of the council on Coruscant, so he has been replaced by Master Desical

The Aqualish, who will not be found for another 10,000 years were replaced by the Neshtori, who as far as I know, is a race of my own creation.

Sort of like a soap opera isn't it?

machievelli
06-30-2006, 04:38 PM
Escape

The man read the terse message from Coruscant, then shut off his reader, looking out over the city.

It was all starting to come apart. The thrice damned Jedi had ruined over ten years of work without even breaking a sweat. The report from Bothuwai had told him that the GTA had subpoenaed all files regarding Wayfarer’s business records there after the corporate office was raided. His only chance to escape was to cause as much carnage as he could and pretend to die in the process.

He considered his subordinates here on Corellia impartially. None were irreplaceable. In fact their deaths would give intelligence a reason to stop further investigation. He tapped a button on his annunciator, then rose to go to his office to clear the evidence.

*****

Breia walked into the Council chamber. “We don’t have a lot of time, Padawan.” Desical snapped handing her the pad. Read that and come with me.”

Breia had learned at an early age to read and walk at the same time. Her father had been doing it all her life, and she had copied him-

She stopped.

“Ramadora’s memory includes the following statement from Drubba the Hutt’s file. ‘Chairman chief test pilot Darshan Solo has become inquisitive. His wife Holani must not discover the secret of Wayfarer Corporation. Shuttle rigged to crash. Solo on life support crippled‘.” She took a deep cleansing breath.

“Solo, let’s go!” Desical snapped. She nodded, following.

They reached the nerve center of the investigation. Reyes and Kreil along with Meeri and Sienna were going through the stacks of papers.

“Another one.” Meeri commented. “This one is the assistant to the Prime Minister.”

“What do we have so far?” Desical demanded.

“In the navy we have seven admirals including the heads of Buships Buweaps Commanding officer Planetary defense and deputy chief of ONI. In CIA we have three of the Deputy directors.” Reyes reported.

“Which leaves mother as the only deputy director not suborned?” Breia asked.

“Her and Deputy Director Prentiss. Padawan Solo. ONI has been notified, as has your mother-” Reyes spun as alarms went off.

*****

Prentiss grinned as his team approached Holani Solo’s office. The final nail in little miss Solo’s coffin had been delivered to him just a few moments ago. He pointed at Seela as they approached. “Arrest her for complicity.” He ordered. The man assigned by Deputy Director of Personnel Hostan moved over, signaling with his rifle for her to stand.

“Now.” Prentiss turned to ask the team leader what that meant. This meant he got to see the bullet that killed him.

Holani heard the blast, and was in motion slapping the annunciator and ducking before the door came in propelled by an explosive charge. She popped up, and her burst cut down the three men that charged in.

She relaxed. The man that remained popped up and she spun to fire.

*****

Breia grasped her chest. “Mother!” She spun, Sienna coming after her.

“Solo!” Desical shouted, but they were running so fast he wasn’t sure they had heard.

He chased after them arriving on the landing pad as Hawk Flight took off in a ground hugging course toward the center of the city at almost mach 3.

Meeri came running out right after him. “Master! the ringleader is-”

“Tell me in the air!” He ran to the nearest courier, Padawan Sani of Naboo.

Meeri spoke for several seconds. In the middle of it, Desical turned, headed instead to the Capitol Complex.

*****

Admiral Tran looked up, having only a second before his deputy shot him down. The man came in, and slammed down the all systems alarm. “All stations, Jedi are attacking the Naval Headquarters. Protect the Citadel at all costs!” He kicked the body aside as he sat at the computer.

*****

Captain Cracken heard the alarm, looking up with the placid way he had. Then he stood from his desk. He pulled the pistol from his desk drawer, and walked into the computer bay. At his instructions, the technicians locked their equipment with the code he provided, then hurried through a concealed exit he had already scouted. Once they were clear, Cracken sealed it behind them to conceal their escape route. He then lit a cigar, and sat down to wait.

It was later discovered that a combined team of twenty man ONI operatives and thirty Raiders armed with full combat gear and armor had been ordered to seize the building. They entered BuPers to carry out those orders. There was no record of what actually occurred from that point on.

There were no survivors to report it.

Three days later when the wreckage of the destroyed building was finally cleared, Nial Cracken was awarded yet another Parliamentary Cross.

This one was posthumous.

*****

Logos had been better prepared than his superior. He already had a team of operatives that had been collating the information for delivery to Prentiss and Director Maron. Among them was Major Tori and his internal security team. The fifty men assigned to kill them were slaughtered.

*****

“Sir!” The communications officer aboard Star Trader spun. “General alarm! The Jedi are attacking the Citadel!”

“That is crap!” Freya shouted.

“Maybe, sir. But all ships in the system have orders to blow the monastery into dust!”

Freya took less than a second to decide. “Helm place us 200 meters above the Monastery now!” She ordered. “Marine Commander on my monitor!”

She spun as the monitor came up. “Major Donstan, someone in the Citadel has sent an alarm that the Jedi are attacking the Citadel. “I am going to place this vessel in the path of any projectiles or missiles to protect the monastery.”

Donstan looked at her. “Understood, sir. Your orders?”

“Launch all assault shuttles. If the Jedi open fire on you, you have my permission to blow them to hell. If not you will land in the Citadel, and secure the complex. Once you have, place yourself under the authority of my father or whomever he directs.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Sir! Signal from Frigate Flagship Lancer!”

“On screen.” Freya turned around. She looked at the face in front of her. “Admiral Dodonna.“ She said.

Admiral Sala Dodonna, commanding Home Fleet glared at her. “Star Trader, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Acting with honor, Admiral.” Freya snapped. According to her scanner, they were a kilometer above the Monastery and dropping.

“To hell with your honor, Captain! Get that piece of garbage out of our line of fire!”

“Aunt Sala, you can kill me. But that is the only way I am moving.”

The woman glared at her. “On your head be it, Niece.” She turned, but left the screen active. “Weapons lock onto Star Trader. If she does not move in the next three minutes, you will open fire and shoot through her if necessary.”

“Sir! Frigate Salutation is de-orbiting!”

“What!” She turned, punching her monitor control to get the sensor reading. The old Frigate Salutation was dropping into atmosphere, heading- “Get that maniac on my screen now!”

The screen lit, and Commodore Koori Solo looked up. “Not now please, Admiral. I am busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Well I think Captain Dodonna said it best, Admiral. Honor must be served.”

“Get that ship out of my way or so help me I’ll kill you!”

He looked up from where he was working with a sad smile. “You know Sala, when your family told you not to marry me, I always thought it was the career move that made you decide.

“I see now that you are a cold hearted bitch who is more interested in the stars on her collar than love, family, or truth.” The frigate settled down fifty meters to starboard of Star Trader, a shark beside a whale. “Take your best shot.”

*****

While they had been instructed not to talk, the six A4 units defined that as ‘audible to the humans around them’. If they hadn’t they would have never finished their discussion of Cornet’s weather.

A4C3 had just suggested that using Bertram’s random index might be a way to save the program when another unit hushed him. The cockpit chatter was run on their internal communications system

-Shuttle 7, do not, I repeat do not land at Admiralty Science Center. Admiral Costi has reported an attempt by Jedi to attack and destroy the Citadel. Immediately turn to 215, proceed to University Science Center-

Jedi? All of them had A4d9s memories. This included several years of being in almost constant contact with the Jedi and especially three of them.

The Jedi wouldn’t do something like that!

The decision took even less time than Freya Dodonna’s similar decision.

A4L7 slid to the door to the flight deck, swarming through the door followed by one other. The shuttle suddenly dipped, then spun on it’s axis, the throttle punching through mach 2. A moment later the three man flight crew were passed pedipalp to pedipalp and literally glued to the aft bulkhead.

“What are you doing, L7?” demanded A4J2.

“Going to help the Jedi of course.”

“Without being asked?”

“We were asked.”

“What?”

“Breia Solo and Sienna are enroute to CIA. When they left the Jedi compound, they told A4d9 to get a move on.”

“Well they didn’t tell us personally to go.”

“Will we be able to finish this argument in the next 14 seconds?”

“I doubt it. Why?”

Because we now have seven seconds before we hit the Citadel at the main office level.”

“Then never mind.”

The shuttle hit the 8th floor main office level travelling at almost mach 2. The bow shredded as the three tons of spacecraft smashed in the three meter tall windows. Being more resilient than a human pilot the three droids sustained almost no damage in the impact.

“What now?” J2 asked.

“We need to get some weapons.” C3 replied. Every A4 suddenly received video of a dozen Raiders charging toward them.

“We’ll have to take them from those men.”

*****
The problem with a suspected coup attempt is that any organized action is automatically assumed to be part of the plot. The actions of Logos’ defense inside CIA, the Salutation and the Star Trader, and the sudden reaction of shuttle 7 from the latter vessel fit the criteria.

Sala Dodonna watched the time tick down. At one minute fifteen seconds, she order the ships hailed again. They came up on split screen.

“Captain Dodonna, Commodore Solo, you will move your vessels in one minute seven seconds or we will be forced to open fire.”

Freya looked serenely back at her favorite aunt. “Admiral, I refuse. You might as well open fire here and now. When you do, remember that you will be killing my sister as well when you do. Blood is thicker than water. Captain Dodonna out.” The screen section went blank again.

Solo merely looked at her. “Sala, my sister is down there as well.” He looked sad. “Of course I never had any hold on you before, so why should now be different?” The entire screen was now blank. Both ships sat there unmoving, every sensor and weapon deactivated.

She stared at the screen. While her face was an iron mask, her heart was torn. No Koori. I wanted to marry you, be the mother of your children. She looked at the chrono. Instead I get to be your executioner.

The time ran down. One minute, Forty-five seconds. Thirty seconds. Twenty seconds. Ten...nine...eight... seven-

“All ships, this is Admiral Dodonna. All weapons on standby. Until the situation on the surface is clear all ships will await my orders. No one, I repeat, no one will fire. I will blow the first ship that locks weapons on any target without my orders to hell.

“All Home Fleet Marines units, prepare for drop. Landing zones are the Citadel, and the Jedi Monastery complex. Rules of Engagement are Sigma. Administrative landing with no hostility assumed. Weapons loaded and prepped, but on safe. You will not fire unless fired upon.”

She considered the wreckage her career might very well be in. Then sighed, shrugging her shoulders. It would have made family reunions hell.

After all, blood is thicker than water.

Besides, Maybe Koori still had feelings for her too.


Debacle

A coup depends on confusion. The conspirators are always a small group, hoping that inertia will stop the bulk of their possible enemies from coming down on them like a hammer. When it works, there is merely a change of leadership, and things go on as before. If not...

“What do you mean they aren’t shooting!” Admiral Costi who was Commanding Officer Planetary Defense screamed.

“Sir, Admiral Dodonna has ordered her ships to lock down their weapons.” His aide reported. “She has also ordered Marine drops on the Citadel and the Monastery with the same conditions.”

“That bitch!” Costi had done what the signal from his leader had ordered.

It had been so clear! The government was corrupt. Only a strong leader with the military behind him could fix the problem

When the fleet at Noral reported illness, they would use the canister as proof that someone in the Corellian military and GTA was supplying weapons to the Neshtori. Enough proof had been secreted in the files to at least keep people wondering as the loyal men in the military moved in, replaced the Parliament with a better organized committee, and withdrew from the GTA.

The plan they were using now was a long shot second best. Accusing those interfering Jedi with the coup attempt would give them time to destroy the files that would damn them, and remove the problem in one stroke.

It hadn’t worked out that way. The conspirators within CIA had been rounded up very quickly, though they had finally dealt with that Solo bitch. But some computer genius had sealed all of the files under Admiral Tran’s access code, and that stupid deputy chief had killed him before they had found that out. They would have to literally go through the records file by file, and they would never be able to find them all!

The plan had assumed that the officers below Costi and in home fleet had been prepped to understand why this was going to happen and obeyed him. They should at least still obey orders that seemed lawful, but three senior officers had so far refused to do so. Instead that damn Admiral overhead had ordered her Marines landed! Even now there was a cordon around the Jedi Monastery, and three probing attempts had been repulsed with heavy losses.

Those Marines inbound to the Citadel would come in cold, but they wouldn’t come in stupid. If they succeeded in taking the Citadel Command Center, a full investigation would revel his complicity.

Almost eleven years of work ruined!

“Order Marines approaching the complex to stay away. I want a missile dropped on that damn monastery this minute!”

“Yes sir. “ The aide checked his pad, then leaned over the annunciator. “Capital Squadron, you have a red pill target, I repeat, a red pill target.” He painted the hill where the monastery sat.

*****

“Sir, we’re getting a wave off from the Citadel.” The pilot of the lead shuttle from Star Trader reported. They were at least two minutes ahead of the next wave.

“I don’t care if the Secretary of the Navy is ordering us off, land this ship on the Command dock.” Major Donstan ordered.

Ten seconds later Donstan, the shuttle, and forty men were dead when a chain gun opened fire as they entered line of sight.

The battle of Cornet had begun.

*****

“All Marine units approaching the Citadel, weapons free, I repeat weapons free!” General Cantor ordered. The combined shuttles of ten frigates and twenty corvettes went to full speed, and countermeasures fought against ground systems to get them to their target.

In a number of cases, they failed.

*****

“Sir, snub fighters approaching!” The sensor officer shouted.

Commodore Solo turned, looking at the ships racing toward him. “Armament?”
“Five are anti fighter, four antishipping.” The sensor officer paled. “Sir, three have antimatter weapons aboard!”

*****

Guns blazed as Salutation opened up. She was an older design, and her chainguns were obsolete. But she was still an efficient warship. Several hundred rounds per second streamed out as she defended herself. Star Trader moved from her position to line ahead, and laser light also ripped the sky of the planet. The ships rigged to kill other fighters were ignored as the weapons ripped into the formation. Five exploded, crashing in the woods outside the city, but the other two dived for cover behind their consorts. They raced in, the shock waves of mach seven fighters shattering trees and houses below them. The anti-shipping fighter popped up, firing all four missiles, and died a second later. The last antimatter armed ship followed them in. The three surviving anti-fighter craft punched their throttles full, passing it.

The technique is called rolling back the enemy fire. You fire not one or two but as many missiles as possible. The enemy can kill one or two a second, but every second the weapons and craft not killed are closing.

Salutation ran out of time. Her guns killed the last nuclear missile carrier before it reached firing range at the expense of allowing two missiles to slam into the old ship. Debris exploded outward, and the ship staggered, her lift and drive systems stuttering as it tried to compensate. The frigate turned, staggering half a kilometer away from the monastery before the drive failed, and it plowed into the ground at 200 KPH.

*****

Breia flared the courier out, landing on the Intelligence center roof. She charged down the ramp, running toward the stairwell. Silent agents armed to the teeth watched her pass, an ebon nightmare followed by a blood red one.

She stopped, looking toward her mother’s office. The corridor was torn by weapons fire, the door and it’s frame were just gone. She walked toward the scene, looking at Seela crumpled against the wall, the bodies of six men scattered where high velocity shells had thrown them. Logos was dirty and grim. His armor dented by ricochets that had knocked him down, He saw the approaching figures, stepping in front of them.

Breia ripped off her helmet, bouncing into his arm. “Move.”

“Breia-”

“Damn you, move!” He lowered his arm, and she walked into the room.

Holani lay there, curiously shrunken in death. Someone had covered her face, and Breia knelt lifting the coat. She pulled off her glove, running her hand through the soft hair, then bent, kissing her cheek. Then she stood, the glove sliding back on.

“She got them all.” Logos said from the doorway. “We weren’t in time to help.”

“I don’t blame you.” Breia’s voice was gentle, though her eyes burned with fury. “The Prime Minister’s assistant has a lot to answer for.”

He looked at her. “Breia, you’re about three pages off the script.” He took the pad he carried, and handed it to her. She read it, then again in unconscious imitation of her mother. Then she thrust it back into his hands, put her helmet back on, and stormed out.

*****

“Sir, the fire is dropping in quadrant seven.” The marine pilot reported.

“Use it.”

“Fire is diminishing in sections six and eight.” The countermeasures officer reported.

The shuttle and the four behind it banked sharply, suddenly finding themselves a clear area. The Command building was less than five klicks away, about as many seconds at this speed.

The pilot used the hot zone method, firing retro-rockets less than a second before they would have overshot the building. Everyone was slammed into their restraints as it went from mach three to zero in a ten G blast. The shuttle slammed down, and the men poured out. The instant they were clear, the pilot bounced it fifty meters in the air, dropping toward the ground within that safe zone so others could come in. The entire process took less than five seconds from retrofire to dive.

“Sir!” A Marine pointed at the A4 droid that was busy with one of the guns in section six. As they watched, the droid lifted out the still firing gun, then threw it over the side of the building. The feed tube snarled, then shattered, dropping the gun to the ground ten floors below. To their right, a second A4 was dealing with a gun in section 1 in the same manner.

“You!” Captain Hostin shouted. The droid turned.

“Sorry Captain, I have to finish destroying the system.” It reported.

“Who the hell told you to destroy those guns?” He raged.

“A4L2 did sir.”

“Who the hell told him to do it?”

“No one, sir. We decided that you needed help after the first shuttle was destroyed.”

“We?”

“The other A4 units from Star Trader.” The droid replied. “Why? Were we wrong?”

Hostin decided to save it for his report.

*****

The A4s had the advantage that as droids they were ubiquitous. There were droids everywhere and no one really paid attention to them. The Raiders on the tenth floor had been wrapped and hanging before they had even known they were under attack.

Three floors below Hostin, Marines assigned to protect the building were rigging mines along a corridor when two A4s rolled toward them. Before they could stop them, one raised a plasma rifle. “Surrender or die.“ It said. One of the men dived for his weapon. The men were carbon vapor before they could scream. The rooms on both side of the corridor exploded into flames, then were quenched by the emergency fire suppression system.

“Notify the others that corridor 7-L-2 is clear.” One of them ordered.

“Damn!” The droid that had fired the plasma rifle rotated his eyes surveying the damage. A plasma rifle fires a bolt of fusion plasma, and is usually used only outside a building and by an armored trooper because the bloom raises temperatures by several hundred degrees from the muzzle in a sphere about two meters around on firing. Both of his forward legs and pedipalps had been fried, the legs fused where they had been actually forward of the muzzle. “I think I’ve just crippled myself!”

“No worries.” The second A4 began working on the legs, dismantling the outer shell. “We’ll have you back on your feet in a jiffy!”

*****

“Sir, they’re already down to level seven.” The aide reported. Costi looked at the ceramacrete overhead. They were in the bunker beneath the building, three floors below the ground level. It should have taken at least 20 minutes to clear the floors they had, not five.

“Have the men been told to fight to the last man?”

“Sir, it appears that some A4 droids are doing it. They cleared the Tenth through eighth floor before the shuttles landed.”

“Order all A4s destroyed on sight!”

*****

A4L2 stuck an eye around the corner on the sixth floor. “Another mining operation.” He reported. He set his travel wheels, and rolled around the corner. A hail of gunfire ripped through the droid, and it rolled to a stop, smoking.

-Severe damage-

-Road wheels inoperative-

-System shutdown imminent-

-Query. is this death?-

-Shutdo-

The other droid hurled grenades, blasting the men into gobbets. Before it passed the destroyed droid, it ran a pedipalp over the shattered frame, then clutched his weapons tightly. He rolled on past the bodies, hungry for revenge.

*****

“This is Jedi Courier Padawan Sani of Naboo on approach.” Meeri reported. The Parliament Hall loomed as they approached.

“Jedi Courier, this is the Parliamentary Guard. You are ordered to withdraw.”

“Parliamentary Guard, we are here to arrest a Parliamentary member.” Meeri replied. “We will not withdraw.”

She dived the ship as a chaingun on the roof fired, missing them by centimeters.

“We cannot land under fire.” Desical said. “Weapons active.”

The courier jinked frantically, her own chainguns ripping apart the guns that tried to kill them. Four minutes later The guns had been destroyed.

*****

Breia felt a rush of pain, and looked frantically. The Medical Center long term care building was erupting in a fireball. “Sienna?”

“On it.” She punched the communications board. “This is Jedi Courier Hawk Flight. What just happened at the medical center?”

“Hawk Flight, Marine Shuttle 421 assigned to Frigate Eastwing was shot down and crashed on top of the medical center. We have a lot of casualties here, so if you don’t mind?”

“Thank you. Hawk Flight out.” She looked at Breia. The girl’s face was stone. Her father and mother killed in less than ten minutes.

*****

Desical used his sword to shear through the door leading downward, and Meeri ran to keep up as he charged down the stairway. The office was on the top floor, and he stormed toward the door. He reached it, touched the handle, and felt-

The old man spun, setting his hand on Meeri’s chest, and using the force threw her the length of the corridor. Just before she hit the wall, an explosion vaporized the man.

She staggered to her feet as a dozen Parliamentary Guards came running down the access hall. The man she had come to arrest screamed. “Kill her!”

*****

Breia gasped. “Take the controls!” She screamed. Sienna flipped the switch, smoothly taking control as Breia screamed, curling up in a fetal ball. They were almost at the building, and as she watched, a man ran out onto the landing pad, running toward Padawan Sani of Naboo.

She armed the guns, and put a burst into the engine compartment. The ship settled, smoke pouring from her damaged engines. The man stopped, looking at the approaching ship.

Suddenly Breia sat up, flicked the switch back, and aimed the ship as if she intended to ram it into the building.

“Breia!” Sienna screamed.

As the man dived for the pad, the ship flared out, landing less than a meter from him. Breia was up, charging toward the ramp.

She ran down it, the man leaping to his feet to run toward the stairway. She tackled him, slamming him to the deck. She spun him onto his back, and began beating his face with her fists.

Sienna reached her, catching the upraised arm.

“Let me go!”

“Briea-”

“He killed my mother! He killed my father! He killed Meeri! He tried to kill my brother!” She screamed wordlessly, her fist still trying to punch down through his head into the deck. Only Sienna’s strength stopped her.

“Don’t give into it!” Sienna begged. “Breia, please.”

The tug of war suddenly ended. Breia stood, then stormed to the edge of the building. Sienna looked at her, then at the sobbing man at her feet. “Prime Minister Foren, I arrest you for high treason and mass murder.”

Jae Onasi
06-30-2006, 06:07 PM
Whew! What a ride! Roller coasters are tamer than this. :)

machievelli
06-30-2006, 08:21 PM
Whew! What a ride! Roller coasters are tamer than this. :)

How do you think I feel? I had not even blocked it out when I posted the section before two days ago. When I started into it the Muse grabbed my by parts you don't need to consider and dragged me for the last 36 hours!

The worst thing is, I have about thirty more pages before the end and I'm exhausted!

Jae Onasi
07-01-2006, 12:05 AM
Stop drinking the coffee! :D
While I don't have quite those same parts, I know what you mean--there've been a few nights where I stayed up way too late and feel asleep at the keyboard. One of the perks of having a laptop and lying in bed. :)

machievelli
07-01-2006, 02:21 AM
Stop drinking the coffee! :D
While I don't have quite those same parts, I know what you mean--there've been a few nights where I stayed up way too late and feel asleep at the keyboard. One of the perks of having a laptop and lying in bed. :)

I have a friend named Mark Lewis who is a professional Story teller from the Renaissance Faire. He describes his muse as an Artist who draws the picture, then Mark colors it in.

Having worked at the same faire as a storyteller, I visualized my Muse as a biker bitch from hell who comes in whenever she wants to, drags my narrow little behind out of bed if necessary, throws me down at the keyboard, and says 'write!'. In fact if you know anything about the Celtic Mythos, I picture her as the leannin Sidhe, who drive men mad if they refuse to bow to her will.

As for laptops, I have one. Unfortunately it is a Compal TSA1 which means it is 14 years old. I have been unable to find a power plug for it, so it is being used as a paperweight.

machievelli
07-02-2006, 02:39 AM
Counting the cost

Master Soo-chin stepped down from the ramp. There was still firing going on at the Citadel about fifteen kilometers away. A third of the building had been blown down by traitorous defenders, making it look like a cake that had been left where the hounds could get to it.

Here at the Capitol complex, it was quiet in comparison. The Courier Padawan Sani of Naboo would need repairs, but that could wait until the ground battle was over.

She went down the stairs, and stopped. Breia was kneeling beside the body of her Padawan learner. Soo-chin wasn’t sure how many times the Ithorian had been shot, but her body had literally been riddled. There were bodies or parts of bodies scattered around her, from the base of the stairs to the lift on both access hall.

“There were a dozen of them.” Breia whispered. “Meeri didn’t like the idea of fighting. She wanted to... Damn it she wanted to go into the Conservation Corps!” The woman touched the body, her shoulder’s quivering.

“She did what she had to do.” Soo-chin said.

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“No. It is just the truth.”

Breia knelt for another long moment, then picked up her helmet. She turned, facing the master.

“Did you also know that the Prime Minister is the one that ordered my father killed because he might know what had happened? Not because he did, but just because he might?” She asked bitterly.

“Yes.” Soo-chin looked at her. “Is that why Sienna delivered the prisoner without you?”

Breia nodded. “I was so furious I would have killed him if I had been near.” Her fists clenched tightly. “Master, I request permission to assist in the assault on the citadel.”

“Breia-”

“Master, I will not rest until the last of this cancer had been cut out.” She looked down at the body. “My own beloved dead demand it of me.”

Soo-chin nodded. “They have reached the third floor of the citadel.”

Breia looked at her. “Then it makes my job easier.” She walked past the master and up the stairs to the landing stage. Hawk Flight was coming in to land.

“What do you mean?”

Breia gave her a feral smile. “They won’t expect me to come in through the front door.”

“Before you go, there is something you need to know.”

“Master?”

“When Padawan Zardan Landru went to the darkness, he bought ships.”

“Yes, I know that. Feradi and Bondrant.”

“The records according to Ramadora’s memory were that he had three. All bought through Wayfarer Corporation. She remembers records of weapons that were later linked to all of the mines and booby traps during that affair.

That third ship was operated by a young ONI officer named Captain Costi.” Breia looked up. “Yes. He is the same man.”

Breia looked up the ramp. “Then I have more beloved dead to satisfy.”

*****

The situation was static, and had been for the last half an hour. On level 2 the defenders, still believing that they were actually resisting a coup, had scattered mines and covered every corridor with heavy weapons. Above them the Marines had taken horrendous losses. Of the full regiment, two thousand troops, assigned to home fleet, plus the men from Star Trader, an additional three shuttles full, there were already over seven hundred dead and an equal amount wounded.

Most of them had been on the initial assault. almost 90 shuttles had crashed, and the suburb around the Citadel looked like it had been under a full scale carpet bombing mission. Of those from Star Trader and Salutation, only three shuttles had survived to land, one from Star Trader, the other two from the frigate.

Of the six droids that had done such yeoman work, only two were still operational, A4C3 and A4L7. The other four had been shattered by gunfire, and in one case, melted into a puddle by a plasma cannon.

C3 swiveled an eye around the corner. “Plasma cannon.” It reported. The marine behind him paused.

“Want to charge it?” L7 asked.

“Not in this life time.” C3 replied. It took the grenade launcher it had acquired from a defender, and began tinkering with the grenades in a clip.

“What are you doing? Captain Hostin asked.

“There is no delay function in the grenades fired from a launcher.” It mused as it worked. A microscopic vision lens popped up. “But right now we need it. So I’m going to rig one.” It took a tube of hull sealant from a small compartment in it’s abdomen, and picked up a scrap of metal from the floor. It used the hull sealant to spot weld the scrap onto the nose of the shell. Then repeated it with three more, trimming the impromptu caps. “I need two more people with launchers, Captain, if you don’t mind.” Bemused, Hostin signaled. Two men came from the ranks, and the droid delicately loaded the jury-rigged shells into it‘s own launcher, the one L7 held, and the ones held by the men. It computed, then moved to stand against the opposite wall.

“If you gentlemen will attend, I will fire, them over right.” A leg lifted to show where he intended to move. “When I am out of the way L7 can fire, then if you will both fire on the same trajectory, we can deal with this problem.” It took a leg, scoring an arrow into the tile of the floor. “When you are ready, Captain?”

Hostin signaled a fire team forward, and they knelt. He nodded to the droid.

The droid lifted the weapon, paused, and fired. There was a choonk sound of the launcher going off, and it was rolling aside at high speed even as the sound reached them. L7 rolled forward, stopping in the exact same place, and fired. The two men ran forward, one kneeling, the other standing, and fired.

The first two worked, but not perfectly. The caps had been knocked off as the rounds ricocheted, but they did not strike the primers on impact. The third acted the same, but by chance the primer hit and it exploded. The fourth was a dud. The shrapnel lashed the two man crew and their supporting squad. Two pieces of shrapnel hit, one punching through the casing, and shorting out one of the capacitor rings of the gun. The other hit the gunner, and his finger came down on the firing stud instinctively.

The capacitor ring is the most important part of a plasma weapon. The magnetic fields they generate keeps the fuel pellet from striking the barrel and accelerates the plasma to a tenth of light speed.

What happened next took under a second to occur.

The pellet, already beginning to change from compressed hydrogen to plasma passed through the shattered ring, which still exerted enough magnetic for to make it veer half a degree. At it’s speed even half a degree was sufficient. The plasma bloom hit the next capacitor, and instead of redirecting it accentuated the turn to just under half a degree, which meant it hit the barrel less than 30 centimeters from the chamber a microsecond after it became not hydrogen but plasma. Ten men, the weapon itself, and twenty meters of the corridor vanished in a superheated blaze.

C3 made a sound like a man clicking his tongue in a ‘tsk-tsk sound. “Damn it didn’t work right.”

“At least one of them did.” Hostin snapped.

“25% is not a good success rate, Captain.” The droid rolled around the corner, then shifted to walking mode as it delicately passed through the still super hot area. The sprinklers on this level unfortunately were already damaged, so the droid stopped, and L7 stopped before the hot spot. Before Hostin could comment the droid picked him up, and lobbed him into the waiting arms of C3, who set him down.

By this method the platoon continued on.

*****

A4D9 mulled over the reports it was getting. Of the seven droids in that first ever link, only three survived. It had recorded the deaths of four of them, for death was the only way it could describe their fate. They had achieved sentience, and that quality had made them attack the Citadel in support of the marines.

And they had paid for it with their very existence.

The droid walked forward. The two humans were at the controls, and had picked the main entrance as the place to hit. The droid computed their chances and wasn’t sanguine about it. The only chain guns still operational were on the approach way they were taking.

“Padawan Solo-”

“Not now, A4.”

“But this is suicide.”

“No.” She looked back at him. “It is not.” She turned to the console again. “We have the force as our ally.”

It considered. The problem with the force was it was something only a living being could sense. A Droid had to go with energy patterns that can be registered on instruments. It knew there was something beyond those sensors that these humans used, but since it could not record it, all knowledge was empirical, and as such suspect.

It had been with the Padawan for a long time. It knew her adamantine will. If she intended to do something, she would try, even if it killed her.

The gas canister in it’s abdomen spewed into the atmosphere. The women grabbed their helmets, but they were busy trying to activate the life support systems of the equipment. It caught them both up with a leg around each of them, spinning. It ran back to the cargo bay, stuffing them both into the lifepod, and hit the control.

*****

“Lifepod being jettisoned.” The gunner reported. “No life forms aboard the courier.” He watched the screen. “The ship is losing altitude.”

“Ignore it. Kill that damn pod.

*****

“What the hell is going through his mind!” Sienna screamed as the lifepod went through an emergency evasion program that was incredible vigorous. They bounced off every surface as the pod maneuvered to avoid being shot down.

*****
The gunner painted the pod, and was about to hit the button when suddenly the courier’s engines went to full thrust. He deleted the targeting information, and painted the courier instead.

He was too late.

Hawk Flight was passing through mach 5 as it slammed into the building. The doors, hardened battle steel resisted for less than a second, causing the nose to crumple as far back as the cockpit before ripping from their mounts. With a shriek that sounded like a soul in hell they flew inward. The gunner, his commanding officer, and the weapons control station was scraped away as if they had never been.

The ship slammed through another wall, the wings ripping free, then came to rest fifty meters into the building. For a long time, nothing happened. The raiders that had survived the collision were starting to dig themselves out when the escape hatch on the side flew out, and A4 leaped among them.

*****

“Sir! The Jedi have broken through on the ground floor!” The rating at the communications station screamed.

Costi shook his head. He turned to his aide. “Let’s get out of here.” He went to the rear of the control room, and keyed in the emergency escape hatch. He felt regret for those that would die because of his actions, but not much. After all, they were expendable. The hatch opened, and he was shoved back by falling debris. The aide looked up the shaft. “They must have collapsed it when the ship crashed, sir.”

“Fine. Wonderful! Costi stood up. “I want a fire team to come with me.” The men gathered. A dozen men, all loyal to him. “We’re going up to level minus 1 to access the subway.” He ordered. “Nothing stops us.”

*****

C3 looked around the corner, then ducked back. A ship’s chain gun roared, the fire ravening across the wall then blasted a path trough the wall they were concealed behind. C3 was picked up by the first shell, the four behind it ripping the droid apart like a can opener. L7 gave a furious squeal, dropped until it was less than half a meter tall, wheels burning against the floor tiles as it went around the corner at speed. The marines heard frantic firing from down the corridor, then silence. Hostin looked around the corner. The droid was against the wall at the end of the corridor, pinning a man to it. The man struggled, then blood sprayed from his mouth as the arms pinioning him punched through him and his armor into the wall.

The tableau held for several seconds, then the droid collapsed backwards, and was still.

Hostin came around the corner. He looked at the men that had manned the gun. The droid had spun it around as it passed, and the condition of the bodies meant that they‘d need DNA testing to find out who they had been.

He knelt by the shattered chassis of the droid. “Rest well, Marine.” Then he stood. The stairway to the ground floor was ahead of him. “Follow me!”

*****

The Jedi crawled out of the escape pod, and Breia shook her head, drawing her sword. She charged the shattered doors, followed by Sienna. She could feel the man she hunted now, as if there was a scent she could smell. The entry hall was an abattoir. A4 had literally ripped one man apart, taken his gun, and turned it on the others. It had then charged on, ripping a door out of the wall. All of it before they were even close.

“Where does that go?” Breia asked.”

“Level minus one. The subway stations.”

They spun at the sound of boots. A captain who looked like he’d been through a campaign came out of another door farther down. He spun, then lifted his weapon away from them. “Jedi?”

“Padawans Solo and Dodonna.” Breia shouted.
He walked over to them, looking at the carnage. “I think you must have had an A4.”

“We did.”

“It looks like their handiwork. Best little fighters I have ever seen. Where did it go?”

“Where we’re going.” Breia answered running to the doorway down.

*****

Costi had already called the spaceport. There was a small private courier he secretly owned. As soon as he was aboard, he’d boot out, and be gone before they caught him. The accounts on Bothuwai were probably compromised, but he had money on both Ryloth and Nal Hutta. He wouldn’t be Chief of Naval operations, but he’d still be alive.

They came out in the subway station, and his men spread out facing the entry way to the upper complex. The next train was... Five minutes away.

There was a shrieking, and the door leading upward was peeled away from the wall by an eight legged horror. It saw them, and before anyone could aim, it lowered the door as an impromptu shield, and rolled toward them at high speed.

Guns roared, the bullets slowed but not stopped by the metal of the door. They could see pieces of the droid being ripped away. A leg fell, smashed beyond repair, then the droid gave a shriek, staggering to a stop.

“Sir, the train.”

Costi nodded. He stalked over, looking at the shattered machine. “Pathetic.” He kicked it petulantly.

A pedipalp caught his foot, making him scream as it crushed his ankle. There was the rushing of air as the train raced toward the station.
“I think we have a train to catch, Admiral.” It rolled over, dragging the screaming man after it as it fell onto the tracks. A second later, the train crushed both into an indistinguishable pulp.

The guards stared at the accident, then turned as a figure in black stepped from the stairway upward. Guns rose, but she lifted a hand, and they flew from their grips to land on the floor between them and her.

“If you want to die, I am happy to oblige you.”



Republic Dawn

The massive room was silent. The seats were packed with heads of state from a hundred planets and the Parliament of Corellia. The Meeting was being held less than two weeks after the attempted coup. Those who had been invited had flown over the shattered buildings of what was once the Citadel, the wreckage of the hospital, and the gutted shell of Salutation.
The door opened, and the Acting Prime Minister of Corellia came in, followed by half a dozen Jedi from as many Monasteries. They came to the podium. The politician went over the events of the coup attempt. Of the horrendous losses. The 3rd Marine Assault force had been gutted. Only two companies, about 200 men were unwounded. Salutation was a total loss, of her crew barely half had survived the crash.

He spoke of the elections that would be held in the upcoming months. then he looked at the people that lined the hall.

“But the problems of Corellia are not the most important. The fault lays not with our people, but greedy men. The criminal who held my office would not have been able to gather such support if we had curtailed the activities of the corporations of the Galactic Trade Authority. We restricted them at home, but the instant a ship left our atmosphere, the rules changed.

“In the last 30 years, we have had no rules that extend from planet to planet, and they have used that. The plunder the newly discovered worlds, or dump goods they cannot sell on the Core planets of those who cannot resist them. This must stop. There must be one law from Coruscant to Corellia, from Corellia to Ryloth, from Ryloth to Nal Hutta.

“At the behest of the Jedi order, I propose that we form a coalition, a Republic if you will, that will set the laws for all ships of all worlds. That will consider the good of the people everywhere, not on their own home planets. While I am suggesting this, I will ask that I not be named to this body. That none of us seated here be named. We must subordinate ourselves, our home worlds to it. I swear before this body, that Corellia will make itself the first member, that we will accept all laws written by it, and assure that all people on every planet knows that we no longer care about profit if it means harm to others.”

For a long moment, there was silence. Then a pair of hands began clapping. It was the singular applause of the Twi-lek, a rhythmic beat that set the blood afire in men of that race. Premier Lassa stood as she clapped, and the others of her planet and their colonies joined in it.

Then the Chancellor of Coruscant stood, and his hands joined that beat. Then another, Naboo, Duros, Echana. One after another the people stood, adding their applause to the cry to unity.

*****

Breia sighed, walking with her onto the landing pad. A trio of new A19 couriers awaited her. Unlike most Jedi couriers, two of them was not named after a fallen member. Instead there was a caricature of an A4 with it’s legs up as if imitating a spider. Under that was the name Metal Heroes. Beside it, two other new ships carried it on. Padawan Meeri of Ithor, and Darshan and Holani Solo.

Soo-chin came down the ramp of Darshan and Holani Solo. followed by Sienna.She looked hard at Breia. “Try not to destroy this one.” Soo-chin warned.

“Yes Master.” The girl said.

Breia stopped as the abrasive superior walked past. She sniffed at Breia’s clothes, which were closer to what Sienna would have considered risque now.

“Congratulations Padawan teacher.” Breia said.

“I don’t think I am ready for this.” Sienna said.

“I wasn’t either. The position sort of grows on you. Like leaf mold.”
“That makes me feel so much better.” Sienna grumped. She looked toward the entry hall where two young Jedi approached.

The human stopped, bowing to Breia. “Master Solo, I am Dushin Sookor Bai Echana. My mother Revana was sister to your master Breia Sookor Bai Echana.”

Breia shook the young man’s hand. “It is a hard legacy to live up to.”

“Life is hard. We Echani know that.”

“I am Toorio of Duros.” The other reported, bowing to Sienna.

“Well met Padawan learner. Let’s go.”

They faced each other, and reached out. The handclasp became a hug.

“Take care of yourself, Sienna.”

“Be well, my sister.” Sienna replied.

Breia walked aboard Metal Heroes.

*****
The shuttle landed on the Naval Hospital roof. The newly assigned CNO of the Corellian navy walked down the ramp, entering the lift. She rode down in silence, her staff silent as well.

They got off on the fourth floor, and she paced down the corridor to the room. A southern exposure assured it was bright with the summer sun. Breia looked up at their approach. She hugged the woman wordlessly, touched the face delicately, opened the door and entered.

The man in the bed breathed slowly. Sala signalled the people with her to stay in the hall. Breia looked up from her brother, then turned to walk to the window. Sala pulled the chair over beside the bed, picking up a limp hand.

“I chaired my first meeting as CNO, Koori.” She whispered. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I don’t want to go on if you’re not there.” Fleet Admiral Sala Dodonna brushed the hair away from his forehead. “I would give anything for a smile.” She lifted the hand to her face, her tears running down it to the bed.

“I don’t want you to die. But I can’t go on. If I can’t have your love, I don’t want to treat your body like a machine! I spoke with Breia, and she agrees. I have to turn it off. I have to say good bye.” She leaned down, kissing him on the cheek. “Our children would have been beautiful.”

She stood, flipping the switches. Heart monitor, lung machine, waste disposal. They all fell silent. She sat, holding the hand until the body finally lay at rest. She scrubbed the tears from her face angrily, then walked out.

Breia cried for a long while, then followed. Her ship waited for her on the landing pad, and she went up the ramp. There was a shape at the top of it, and she stopped suddenly. It was an A4 unit.

“Admiral Dodonna suggested that you might need assistance on your present mission. I have been assigned to this vessel until you decide to get rid of me.”

“You are..?”

“A4L7. The only A4 reparable, from the assault, Master Solo.” There was a movement by the second pair of legs that looked suspiciously like a shrug. “From data I have gathered, the only A4 remaining. “Until the Corellian military makes a determination about arming droids, I am an embarrassment. Admiral Dodonna suggested I ‘stow away’ aboard your ship.”

She wanted to throw the damn thing off the ship, but another of her honored dead called to her. “From this point on, you will record all information you download, and store it. Just as A4D9 did.”

“They always told me I was a little slow.”

“Who told you that?”

“The other A4s I was with.”

“Then you’ll just have to play catch up.” Breia replied tartly. "Stow yourself, and let's go. She went forward.

“Where to, Master?”

Breia looked at the sky. Then she motioned vaguely. “I am sure there is somewhere they need help. Let the Force be your guide.”

Metal Heroes leaped from the building, racing into space.

“But take it easy on the driving, youngster.”

“Yes Master.

JediAthos
07-02-2006, 11:25 AM
Absolutely fantastic...a wonderful read from beginning to end! You really were able to bring your characters to life and I was able to see them go through transitions as the story moved.

Jae Onasi
07-02-2006, 11:28 AM
Mach, we're all going to need anti-depressants after an ending like that.
Other than that, I enjoyed it. :)

machievelli
07-02-2006, 02:38 PM
Mach, we're all going to need anti-depressants after an ending like that.
Other than that, I enjoyed it. :)

I could have ended it on a high note, and was going to with the announcement of the first Republic conference, but I hadn't resolved what Sienna and Breia would do, or the relationship between Sala and Koori. For that matter though Meeri had died, I hadn't resolved the manner of her death, though the fact that a dozen men did not follow the traitor onto the pad probably gave you a clue. I almost did ignore those anyway.

The problem was, I pictured the affect of crashing something that weighs a few hundred kilotons at 200 KPH and it wasn't pretty. I almost threw in a 'miracle' ending, having Koori wake up and a joyful tearful romantic ending.

I almost had Meeri just drop half the building on the men so she wouldn't kill them herself.

I am a story teller in the old Celtic style. Sometimes the good guys lose, sometimes the hero dies. Did I at least resolve the unanswered questions from the first part of the book?

Jae Onasi
07-03-2006, 12:48 AM
Sure, the questions got answered.
I'm just not a big fan of everyone falling over dead because I prefer my FantasyLand to be happier, probably because I've seen more death up close and personal than the vast majority of people. I don't read Hamlet or Lord of the Flies very often, either. :)
The other thing that bothered my sense of disbelief just a little is that Breia should have been there at Koori's end if her brother meant that much to her. I can't imagine the Jedi not allowing her that time or her not taking it, even if she had lost all the others.
I'm OK with the SW universe having far more than its average share of miracles. I mean, what are the chances of the Millenium Falcon making it just through the asteroid belt, much less everything else? :)

machievelli
07-03-2006, 10:13 AM
Sure, the questions got answered.
I'm just not a big fan of everyone falling over dead because I prefer my FantasyLand to be happier, probably because I've seen more death up close and personal than the vast majority of people. I don't read Hamlet or Lord of the Flies very often, either. :)
The other thing that bothered my sense of disbelief just a little is that Breia should have been there at Koori's end if her brother meant that much to her. I can't imagine the Jedi not allowing her that time or her not taking it, even if she had lost all the others.
I'm OK with the SW universe having far more than its average share of miracles. I mean, what are the chances of the Millenium Falcon making it just through the asteroid belt, much less everything else? :)

I am sorry I displeased you then.

Jae Onasi
07-03-2006, 10:39 AM
:) You're not required to make my little FantasyLand a Happy Place. It's your story, and you're the one who has to like it the best. :)
Just because I prefer a different ending doesn't mean it was a bad story, because I did enjoy reading it. I'm glad Breia and Sienna finally caught the SOB who was responsible for all the destruction, too.

So, when ya gonna start the next one? (Jae runs before Machievelli can throw something at her....) :D

machievelli
07-03-2006, 10:42 AM
:) So, when ya gonna start the next one? (Jae runs before Machievelli can throw something at her....) :D


Not immediately. I have some unimportant stuff like cleaning, building a stand for a rabbit box, the 4th of July and my birthday in the way. (Sets aside several cream pies for when Jae is close enough again.)

machievelli
07-03-2006, 10:58 AM
editing and rewriting the end of the last chapter. tell me what you think.

Jae Onasi
07-04-2006, 12:29 AM
Not immediately. I have some unimportant stuff like cleaning, building a stand for a rabbit box, the 4th of July and my birthday in the way. (Sets aside several cream pies for when Jae is close enough again.)

As long as they're lemon meringue, you're in business. :D

I like the new ending much better. There's still the sadness with Koori's death, but after that there's a sense that there's some hope for a better future with the scene with the A4 'stowing away' and the Jedi flying off into space. It doesn't end on a down note this way, and there's just a hint of humor (without being overdone) to take some of the edge off the tragedy for me.

Char Ell
07-16-2006, 03:29 PM
I have to agree with Jae Onasi. Rollercoasters indeed. That was one action-packed ending sequence. I'll probably have to reread it a couple of times in order to make sure I got all the details. As far as the deaths of so many the story's characters goes I'm somewhat ambivalent. Sometimes life happens that way.

But seriously, I'm going to have to reread the last few chapters a couple of times to sort out everything.

Yaggles
07-17-2006, 01:39 AM
Nice, professional work! I like it! :)

Davinq
09-04-2006, 11:07 PM
*Sniff* this is beautiful!

machievelli
09-06-2006, 12:34 AM
*Sniff* this is beautiful!

Thanks, kid. Have you read the Beginning as well?

Angel's_Guardian
04-25-2010, 03:00 PM
A great story, I really liked it. Although I'm not sure what to make out of all the allusions to famous Star Wars characters. All in all a great read.

machievelli
04-26-2010, 11:56 AM
The fun thing about genealogy is finding out all those things you ancestors did, even the ones that you'd rather not have in your family tree. Since this is supposed to be over 25,000 years in the past, I switched people around, so you have a lloyal officer named Palpatine, a Fortuna and a Solo in intelligence, a Solo and a Dodonna who were Jedi, a Cracken who was in in intelligence, but it's all far enough back that a modern family might not have a record of it. In my own family tree I have pirates, murderers, and even three who were priests, and that's just in four generatuions past.

My own favorite character, Cracken, was based on an actual man I portrayed when I used to work the renaissance Faires. Edward Burnam. He was, in his times, a field operative, handler for operatives in France and Spain, and died as Chief of Operations on the continent, all except for the last working for Sir Francis Walsimgham who served Elizabeth I. The thing is, there is almost nothing recorded about the man. He never stood for a portrait, or released information to make himsefl look better, or concealed any that might do him political harm, unlike our modern heads of such agencies.