[Fic] Star Wars:The Beginning.
Picture a world where the Republic is still a distant dream, and the Jedi are not yet a force in the Galaxy. Like any fire, there needs to be a starting spark...
Sogor the Tyrant was not pleased.
“How many times is this?” He asked pleasantly. The men pushed back away from him. “How many times have these, these Echani slaughtered my troops?” He looked around but no one dared to meet his eye. He leaned back on the throne, growling. “Seven times I have sent my so brave warriors by the cannon, and seven times I have gotten that!” He pointed toward the open doors of his palace. Of the seven ships he had sent with seven thousands of men five had been returned on automatic pilot. The men he had sent were still in them, if you counted the fact that they had been rendered into parts. One man, One had returned alive this time.
“Bring that coward before me.” Two of the guards grabbed a man in bloody armor, dragging him to slam down on the tile floor. He was missing an ear, and his head was bloody. “And how did you survive? Did you lay down and pretend you were dead? No, of course not. They dismembered everyone else. So how did you arrive intact?”
“I hid among the bodies, Great one.” The man groaned from where he lay. “Beneath their parts.”
“Why?” Sogor stood. He was taller than his men, taller than anyone on the planet. A veritable giant among pygmies. “Did you think I would want a puling coward back?”
“I had to show you-”
“Show me what!” Sogor screamed. “What would be more important to me than your death, coward?”
The man reached to his side, and with a shaking hand laid a dagger on the floor. “This my lord.”
“A dagger.” Sogor sounded surprised. “You lived when all else died for a dagger?”
“A dagger that pierces our best armor as if it were skin.” The man quivered. “Swords of the same kind that cut through the hull of a ship as if it were warmed butter-”
“Lies!” Sogor picked up the dagger flinging it toward the stone wall. By chance it his point first. Instead of shattering it sank into the stone with a simple chinking sound. Sogor stared at it, then walked slowly the room. The knife was not where he had thrown it. It had been at a slight angles and as he watched the pommel seemed to ooze toward the floor, leaving a slice in the stone itself.
He pulled it out with no resistance at all. “Bring him.” He ordered.
The guards picked up the survivor, dragging him toward the tyrant. He looked at the blade inches from his eyes.
“How is this made.”
“Only one of the Echana knows, Terrible one.”
“Only one. Who is this one?”
“The master smith, Great one.”
“Excellent. Sogor turned, and the dagger punched into the man’s chest as if he had no armor on. Sogor pulled down, and the armor opened at it’s seams spilling his guts on the floor.
“This master smith will be mine.”
The young one had stared at the stars since she had first opened her eyes. So far, yet each according to her father, could hold life. Not like her home, of course. She reached out. They always seemed close enough to touch. But they were too far away. I will go to you. She promised silently. Some day.
Good fic, I always wondered what Star Wars would be like without the jedi. But for the italics, the tags go like this: . ;)
Quote me to see what they look like.
“You are out of your tiny little mind Darshan.”
Darshan Solo snorted as he walked. The ships around him stood like pencils laid upon their sides. At the other end of the field he saw one lifting toward space on the system drive. A pity that was not good enough to reach the stars. He followed the flight of the ship, and as it started to disappear from sight there was a flash of purple. Another ship had been cannoned to the stars. That ship would reach it in a few hours and join those that traveled between the stars.
“Do you even understand the risks?” His friend Koori asked plaintively. “No one has ever returned from such a flight.”
“Maybe they haven’t done it right before.”
“And you will?”
“Koori, you designed the engines, all I am is the pilot. Why are you the one worried.”
Koori tore at his hair. It was a lifelong habit as anyone looking at the mop he had would have recognized. “Maybe I built it wrong!”
“Like the kite?” Darshan demanded. The kite had been a laughing stock. Large enough that a boy could sit in it, and strong enough to hold his weight. Everyone had laughed until five year old Darshan had climbed on, and after a brief run against the windy field with Koori and four other boys on the string, had lifted gently from the ground. If the string hadn’t broken he would still be up there.
Darshan had never looked at the world the same again.
“Well that worked-”
“And the boat.”
When they were twelve, Koori had built a boat of paper. The sail had not been a sheet but a series of strips controlled by a simple line. Everyone had laughed, but Darshan had sailed across the Great lake in it, faster than the schooners that ferried people across. A pity it had gotten soaked and fallen apart on the way home.
“Well that worked, sort of. But-”
“What about the bridge?” Darshan demanded.
Everyone had laughed when the young university student had built the bridge across the strait to Bendar Island on contract. It had been too flimsy every one said. Oh it had held the traffic but what would happen when the Great Wind came in the winter? The first storm had come, the worst in over ten centuries, and the next day it was still there. Now five years later others of the same kind had proven themselves even against the waves of the Crimson sea.
“That was simple-”
“So you think now your engine will not work.”
“No the Professor thinks it will not work.”
“Why? Has he inspected the plans?”
“He doesn’t understand them!” Koori shouted. “He says no scientist he has shown them to understands them.”
“But you do.” Darshan said.
“Well, yes... Sort of.”
“What do you mean sort of.”
“No one really understands the original engine. It came from a ship that crashed thousands of years ago, and can’t work as it sits.” He tore his hair again. “Whoever made it didn’t use any fuel source known to us, and there weren’t even fittings for a fuel system.”
“So why is yours better?”
“It just feels right. The parts I machined should make it work. The fuel injection had to be designed right from the tubing. But I think it will work. Just nobody else does.”
“As I said. If it’s every scientist on the planet saying it‘s going to be clear weather, and you saying there’s a storm, I don’t leave my slicker at home.”
“But what if I am wrong this time?” Koori asked plaintively. “What if you go out there, and never come back?”
“Koori, if that happened I’d have to come back just to tell you.” Darshan started up the series of steps into the university science building.
“You’re not making me feel better!”
“I don’t have time for my mother to make some Keflaka cookies and mail them, Koori.”
“That won’t, well actually it would make me feel a little better, but it doesn’t make me feel any safer.”
“Why not?” Darshan opened the door, shoving Koori inside. “It’s not like you’re going to volunteer.”
“You know that isn’t what I meant.” Koori started gasping as Darshan strode across the room to the lift. The advantage of having Darshan as a friend was you got a lot of exercising just trying to keep up with him. “I would miss you-”
“You didn’t miss me with the Seeker Dart.” Darshan retorted pushing the button. The lift rose smoothly.
“Don’t give me that, You volunteered!”
“Yes I did.” Darshan agreed. He watched the indicator, then looked down at his friend with a roguish smile. “And I slept for a week.”
“Hey, I didn’t design the sleep compound.” Koori grinned. “Besides, I got some rest for the first time since we met.”
The doors opened, and they hurried down the hall to the room where volunteers were gathering to test the hyper drive.
The door opened on a silent room. Old man Shoorilik was reading a book at the desk.
Darshan hurried over. Instead of being first, he’d decided to come in about half way. “What, everyone’s all ready been here, Professor?”
Shoorilik looked up, put the book mark in, and set the book down. “Yes. Quite a while ago, actually. As soon as they found out your friend had made the modifications, no one wanted to even try the flight.”
“So... Why are you still here then?”
The old man harrumphed. “Darshan, as soon as we knew your friend made the design, we knew you’d be willing to jump off the cliff with it.” He looked at his chrono, and made a note. “Someone just won a lot of money in the professor’s pool.”
“We picked times for your arrival.” Shoorilik commented. “If you had only waited three more minutes...”
Darshan ran out of the room. Koori stood there confused. Three minutes later Darshan came back in.
“Professor, I would like to volunteer for the hyper drive test flight.”
“Very good, Darshan.” Shoorilik stood. “Since there are no other volunteers, it seems you get the chance.”
“And I think you owe me a drink.”
“That I do, Darshan.”
Sounds good so far. I would suggest spacing between quotes and paragraphs. This was a tip given to me and I edited my posts in my story. It's easier on the eyes since these posts don't come in 1.5 or double spacing:)
I'm used to doing it on a computer in double spacing with tabs, so I hadn't really noticed. Thatks, kid.
I like the setup of the hyperdrive chapter. You did a nice job of making Sogor a thoroughly reprehensible creature. I caught a sentence or 2 where the construction might be a bit awkward, but I didn't find that terribly distracting from the scenes you painted. I'm looking forward to seeing what Darshan finds in space and how the Echani fit into all of this.
original story :)
Good written too!
Great story so far Mach. But kind of a funny thing, I found a spelling mistake in our critic's writings. ;)
“Lies!” Sogor picked up the dagger flinging it toward the stone wall. By chance it his point first.
Didn't you mean "By chance it HIT point first."
Anyway, keep up the great work. I can't wait to read more.
CANNON, HYPER-SPACE: In the millennia before the rediscovery of hyper-drive Cannon, travel between worlds was next to impossible. A vessel leaving Coruscant had to accelerate until it reached near light speeds. However since nothing in normal or N space can exceed light, and the energy cost of accelerating even to 80% was prohibitive, there was literally nowhere to go, and no fast way to get there. The aliens that had left samples of what had to be hyper-light drives had left us no way to make them work. We were primitive natives trying to figure out how a flash-lamp makes light.
However hyper-space physicists on Coruscant came upon an interesting anomaly in some of the hyper-drive engines they had discovered; a field of energy still alive after countless millennia that literally made small objects disappear. The experimenters threw pens, paperclips, loose garbage, anything they could expend without too much cost into the field and watched it all vanish. It was postulated at the time that the unknown energy field entered another dimension, and objects stayed there.
However a simple prank proved this wrong. One of the younger researchers had been carrying a lurid magazine he subscribed to for several days to shock other more religious researchers. After an argument, one of those researchers had thrown it into the field.
Then a moon base on the edge of the system returned the magazine with a demand to know who had obviously thrown it from a shuttle. They knew who to contact because the address of the original owner was still attached to it. The magazine had struck the dome of the military installation hard enough to punch through the clearsteel of it.
The researchers contacted the moon base, set up a watch, and sent the same magazine through. Less than four hours later, they received word that the magazine had somehow covered the 10 light minute distance with a starting velocity of perhaps three meters per second. Clearly impossible in known physics.
The military became involved, and one day after the arrival of another operative engine at that base, a metal rod weighing 1 kilogram landed in the field outside the primary military headquarters. It had traveled from the base, and burned as it hit the atmosphere
It was discovered that the field actually made pinpoint wormholes between the generator and a specific distance determined by it’s mass. The lighter it was, the farther away it reached.
At this stage it was merely a useful toy. However the researchers now heavily funded by the military were able to build duplicates of the section of the drive that was working. It was discovered that the amount of energy (The unit operated in the millijoule level) was the most important. The range could be increased or decreased by adjusting the amount of energy consumed. The first successful launch sent a man sized research package to the same moon base. Later tests boosted that mass to a shuttle with ten men in it.
Ten years after this was worked out, plans for a ‘hyper cannon’ were submitted.
In comparison to the units it mimicked, it was hopelessly crude. The ‘barrel’ of this cannon was a grid 50 meters across, and a kilometer long. It used megajoules of evergy. But if they had judged correctly, it would transmit something large enough for a man to sit in across interstellar distances. The problem with that was it would take years before a message that the traveler had arrived.
Instead the data necessary to build a duplicate was transcribed, and a ship ‘Hawk 1’ was aimed at the planet Anaxes two and a half light years from Coruscant. The ten men of her crew entered their ship, drove toward the cannon, and were gone.
No one knew what happened to them. Hawk 1 disappeared with all hands. A second ship sent toward Corulag also disappeared. However, the third, launched toward Chandrila, returned eight months later.
It has been postulated that the first ships had been sent with either too much energy, meaning they passed through the target system before stopping, or too little, meaning they ran out before they arrived. The research council again returned to working out exactly how much energy was needed to move a specific mass.
The Chandrila route became an overnight success as commerce grew to include the new markets on both sides. With passage times between systems of less than a week tourism has risen. The three week round trip with a layover passages from Coruscant to Chandrila for a cruise on Lake Sah’ot or the Silver Sea has become the new cachet for the idle rich.
Before the decade was out fifteen planets at the center of the galaxy were trading with ease. Those systems built their own networks of cannon to spread farther and those new systems did the same. Soon dedicated cannon aimed for specific destinations were built, creating entire new networks.
Over 200 systems now inhabit the ‘cannon net’ from Lortu to Wayland, from Ambria to Kifex. From the core to the Inner Rim and beyond. Some of those planets beyond the rim have reported extending it further, and trade has become the glue that binds our association together. If the people can ever agree on something as simple as a name, a republic of independent systems will soon span the galaxy...
From: Encyclopedia Galactica:
Great job Mach. Can't wait for your next chapter. I want to see where this story goes. :)
Good chapter Mach. I was giggling about the magazine landing on the dome of the military place. Nice that you got some humor about you :lol:
He was tired. The cane he had carried as an affectation for 200 years was for the last five decade a necessity. He had traveled across half the galaxy to be here in this place at this time not from any solid reason. He was directed by the feelings of what his fellow monks had only begun to explore.
His home planet was unknown to these bustling people of a hundred or more worlds. This was something his race had agreed to back in their dim past when the Others struck at them. A primitive people, his forebears had hidden, something they had been quite good at. Able to disappear where there was no cover.
It had not worked with the Others. Huge creatures three times their height, the Others had tracked down and killed almost 80% of his people back then. They had been driven it seemed by a fury that never abated until finally they had fallen on each other in this fury. Why they had not simply destroyed the planet had never been understood. They had come, slaughtered, left few artifacts, and departed all in the space of a century.
The inquisitive secretive beings that had survived had discovered a wonder among the wreckage. An engine that moved itself through space as if the distance was not important. It had not been understood for almost a millennia, but his people were long lived, so that wasn’t the problem it might have been for more ephemeral beings. They worked on this interesting device at the same time working on their own minds. Something about the race had been a danger to those long ago enemies. Something that the remainder shared had been their salvation.
The engine was finally mated to a ship, and they traveled outward. They had no computers, and didn’t need them. The strength of what an old sage had called mind-glow drew them, and they moved toward it cautiously. Slowly, as if scouting for an enemy, they moved deeper into the Galactic darkness. They came across worlds shattered into ruin by their ancient enemy. Others battered until only remnants survived of their native populations. Others where the peoples that lived there had been transplanted for some unknown purpose. On each a single one of their people stayed. Concealing themselves they learned what they could.
They were still excellent at hiding. Invisible unless they wished to be seen...
Until one day on a planet where a native child had walked right up to the observer and asked what manner of creature he was. Stunned, the observer wished to flee, but something of the child’s wonder fed a yearning in the observer he did not even know existed before.
The young boy had taken what he took to be his new pet home, and the observer discovered that the boy was unique. A child of another race that held within him the same abilities his own people had. To touch that, that Force that seemed every present in the galaxy.
They grew to be friends, and when he discovered that his ‘pet’ was not only intelligent but sentient, the boy concealed this for fear that others might take him away. Together they explored the inner workings of their minds, found new places where each touched the Galaxy in ways no one else around them understood.
The boy began to drift away from his own society. He became an outcast, though only because he made others around him uncomfortable. They settled in the mountains overlooking the village of Knossa, and together they studied even harder. Some few began to make a pilgrimage to the rude shack they called home. Most came, and left confused. But a few stayed to learn.
In the fullness of time, the boy, now an old man died. His successor, named what was now a cloistered monastery after him.
A millennia ago that was now. The monks had spread very little. The jangling of the outside world bothered their search for the inner soul of all beings, and few liked leaving their cloister. When that first observer was ancient, and finally died, another of his race appeared to take his place. Always they kept their home concealed.
Dor was the fourth of his people to become a monk and join the order. Now he knew he would be replaced, because what he was about to do would end his life.
The auditorium was huge, stuffed with beings, all looking toward the podium where a human spoke. Dor stopped, looking down the steps. He knew the name of the man. Shoorilik, professor of hyper-physics of the premier university on Correllia. Behind him, looking very uncomfortable, were two younger beings also humans. Sighing, Dor surveyed the steps between him and the center, and began walking down a step at a time.
“...No one knows who they were.” Shoorilik said in answer to the question from a reporter. “All that is known is that there are copies of these engines, some working, and some not, on over 100 of the known worlds. The engines have been studied for almost two millennia without understanding a thing about their inner workings.
“However research on Coruscant over 100 years ago found a way to duplicate the effect on a larger scale with the development of the hyper-space cannon drive. But making them work as they sit, that has been impossible up until now.”
“But my readers do not understand what hyperspace even is!” A red Twi-lek complained. “Or how a hyper-cannon works.”
Shoorilik sighed. considering your readership, you’re people don’t even understand how the sun comes up. He wanted to say. “Hyper-physics is not for everyone. But we have created a visual demonstration for you. Lights.”
The lights dimmed, and in the center of the room above the professor’s head, a model of a hyper-cannon appeared. “A hyper-cannon focuses energy on what we call the Landau wall, the junction between our four dimensions, and the other eighteen believed to exist in current theory. The wall is like a piece of elastic, stretching ahead of you as you push.”
On the screen, a man was pushing his hand against a sheet or elastic, the fabric deforming and holding until he had leaned all of his weight against it, but remained unbroken.
“This is what traveling between our stars was like before the invention of the hyper-cannon. The more force exerted trying to gain speed, the less acceleration you are able to gain because the wall stretches, keeping you within 4D space. However discoveries on Coruscant showed that these still functioning engines would propel objects faster than light, meaning the Landau wall did not apply.”
On the screen, the man had taken a knife, and pushed the blade easily through the elastic.
“The way a hyper-cannon works is simple. A ship approaches it at a set vector and speed. The hyper-cannon’s capacitors are charged to a level necessary to break the Landau wall, and translation occurs.”
The bright bead approached the model hyper-cannon, and as it reached the filaments left by the capacitors, the breech, suddenly the bead stretched until it was a rod which vanished out of the cannon‘s muzzle.
“Well said, Professor.” Another reporter, human this time said. “However that doesn’t explain why it is easier to travel here from Brentaal than it is from Coruscant.”
“Space differently bends in some places.” All eyes turned to the stairway, when a wizened tiny figure approached. He paused in his descent, leaning two tridactyl hands on his short cane, green ears flicking back and forth. “Structure like paper weaker which is folded and bent.” He looked around blandly. “Corridors this makes between some stars, and others not.”
“An excellent theory, Doctor..?”
“Doctor am I not. Monk of Monastery of Jedi I am.” He replied. “Brother Dor I am called.”
Shoorilik looked confused. “This meeting is for scientists and the press, Brother Dor. Why are you here?” He worried because half a dozen crack-pot cults had condemned the test that was planned because it violated the will of whatever god they worshiped.
“Crack-pot I am not.” Dor said, seeing the flinch, and smiling. “Brotherhood of Jedi exploring unknown are interested in.”
“I have never heard of your order, Brother.” A reporter commented. “Jedi?”
“Founder of the order he was. Name we took memory to honor.” Dor looked down. “Only seat down there is. If I may walk continue?”
“Please.” Shoorilik motioned toward the seat. “To continue, the monk’s theory does explain a lot of what hyper-physicist see in the ease with which transit can be made on the three routes so far explored. To use his own analogy, you follow the fold of the paper from Brentaal to Corellia, but have to cross the fibers of it from Coruscant.
“Back to our subject, thanks to a young genius here at the Corellian Hyper-space institute named Koori Deralo, we believe that the first actual human designed hyper-drive is ready for test.”
“But it is within a ship, instead of surrounding it!” A reporter, this one Kubaz protested. “It is a violation of hyper-physics-” He spun glaring at the small figure still toiling down the stairs. “If you are going to speak, don’t mumble!”
Dor paused. “Violation of intelligence that you speak of that know you do not.” Dor said loud clear. “Original engine not outside ship. Unless miniscule creators were.”
There was a ripple of laughter.
“Again our friend the monk is correct. These were found inside vessels, some of them massive, discovered on a number of worlds. They had to have driven those vessels, therefore the effect must extend beyond what is known to us.
“Student Deralo is credited with finding a way to fuel an engine and rebuild parts that had corroded beyond use. With his modifications, we believe that a small ship will be able to travel without using hyper-cannon.”
“Fuel is what?” Dor had finally reached the floor, and was finally seated.
Shoorilik blinked. He could have sworn the little being had been twenty meters away from the seat only a moment ago.
“Hydrogen fusion with the plasma directed into the engine through shielded baffles.”
“Work it would. Like hammer hitting nutshell with. But will work well.”
“So glad you approve.” one of the young men commented.
Dor looked at the boy. So this was the one. “Name you have I may here?”
“Darshan Solo. I’m going to fly the ship.”
“Elegance problem is, not complaint. When alone is hammer you have, it must suffice.”
The meeting went on for another hour. Finally the last questions had been asked and answered, and the reporters surged in a body toward the exits. Darshan stood, then loosened the braid that held his hair, shaking it out into an ebon sheet.
“Chosen has destination been?” He looked down. The only ones in the crowd not moving were himself, Koori and Dor.
“Yes it has. Why?”
“Go with you I must.”
“You’re out of your tiny little mind.” Darshan retorted then stormed out.
“With you I shall go, little human.” Dor said.
I like the conversation. Sounds so very Yoda-like. Interesting in how you developed the formation of the Jedi. I like the span of years you give to show that things take time. Jolly good show.
Very good fic, I like the background info, keep it up! :)
Keep it up Mach. I am so dying to read more and more. Seriously, post more soon if you can!
The yoda like conversation is because of a coment in the guide to the Star Wars Universe where they said no one knew what race Yoda was or planet he came from. That is why I postulated a race still in hiding. I also worked with the premise that most of his people are extremely force sensitive. If this were a conspiracy theory novel, Yoda's race would be the Illuminati.
And they would try to bring about a New World Order or rather: a New Galatic Order
They would take over the galaxy :lol:
Food for thought kid. Maybe that explains why someone hasn't come to take Yoda's place?
Echana: Planet located around star named Shirrazu. Galactic Reference GSFD-421/CTS/ER/9.
Class: C-7 class, similar to Coruscant before urban construction. Native animals and planets graded at level 6, some dangerous, but within acceptable standards for human colonization under Coruscant Exploration Guidelines.
Economic rating: 2.
Technology level, in weapons, grade 5. In all other commerce grade 3 and lower.
Population: Last census 1.1 million.
Demographics: 97% human. Remainder are citizen/factors of other races including Duros, Hutt, Twi-lek, Arkanian, and Bim. The human citizens of Echana are known to be empathic.
Government: Oligarchy. Seven clan elders called Prefects, one of whom is Grandee for a five year period on a rotating schedule.
Exports: Leechu bark spice (Used in preparation of meat) and Tanif fish both luxury items demanding high prices. The locally made swords daggers and ‘ritual brands’ command high prices for each is a hand made work of art. The Echani have proven to be experts at weapons design and development, and now after eight years has matched or surpassed every other manufacturer in the quality of their weapons, though except for the blade weapons mentioned above they are still not for off-world purchase.
Imports: Their needs were and have always been small. Imports include primarily Cassoli oil from Coruscant and Mendrach incense from Corellia. Recently they had a now defunct treaty with Lortu that supplied the Lortuai with swords and the first production of other hand weapons in return for Darson wood from the Lortuai forests of Haanmelo.
Social conventions: Since the species of humans now living on Echana are known to be empathic, they have had no wars amongst themselves. It is reported by reliable sources that this is due to that empathy. The Echana are prized as trade negotiators, yet as such few have left their home planet to practice that art.
Social interaction seems to be highly confusing, and many consider their sexual mores perverse. There is no form of marriage as understood by the Galaxy as a whole among the Echani. The closest they have to this is what is called the Bonding.
Bonding: Echani society requires female children at the age of 13 to bond to a male other than her father or closely related male relatives. While considered a marriage by Galactic definition, there are bonds between two females which are usually considered for commercial gain, to the Goddess herself for those who become priestesses, and even to ideals, such as the present day commander of Echani Military forces Morgai Chandar who swore to be protector to her race when the planet was first attacked by the Lortuai.
These ‘self bonds’ are rare and have no discernable pattern.
History: The planet now known as Echana was settled in the first rush of the expansion caused by the invention of the hyper cannon. When the first attempt to reach Aargau from Brentaal arrived instead at Corellia everyone was surprised. The Corellians were able to ascertain that space folded in a detectable and easily verifiable manner between their planet and Brentaal, making it easier to travel along specific route, and this information and the development of the folded hyper cannon Matrix allowed rapid expansion along what is now called the Corellian Trade Spine.
Echana was the seventh planet discovered along that route by a combined Coruscanti-Corellian team, and the planet was put up for colonization at that time. Settlers from Coruscant and Corellia settled there less than three years after the development of the folded hyper cannon Matrix.
The first settlers from Coruscant were of a religious sect worshiping the Goddess whose name is now used for the planet itself. Radowin Chandar of Corellia, commander of the joint mission led the first settlement, becoming the first prefect of what is now called the Chandar clan, and the first Grandee.
For over ninety years, the Echani prospered in peace.
However starting nine years ago, on the rise of Sogor of Lortu, a low intensity war has broken out. Attempted invasions of Echana has been bested easily. In response to this aggression, the corporation EWI or Echani Weapons Institute was formed to develop and deploy new weapons in the ongoing struggle.
The worshipers of Echana, the ‘Mistress of Battles’ believe that the Goddess judges people not by any exterior form, but rather from within. and has the odd addition that prayer is done when practicing with a sword or ritual brand. The style is slow and smooth, forcing the mind to concentrate is a meditative state that allows communion with their goddess. All known followers of this faith live on the planet Echana and make up 95% of their human population.
Since the people of Echana are empathic, their religion does not forbid conflict, but rather assigns it as a necessary evil. ‘A blade in my heart hurts me as much as the blade in your own. Yet plunge it in I will if I must’ (Echana Do Suchi. Prayer book, page 421 ‘prayer for peace)
The worship of Echana is all pervasive in the society on Echana, but has little or no liturgy or ritual. The Priests and Priestesses of the faith are more akin to weapons masters, teaching the use of the bladed weapons the Echani prefer.
Prayer is done when practicing with a sword or ritual brand. The style is slow and smooth, forcing the mind to concentrate is a meditative state that allows communion with their goddess. The more adept of this faith can spend hours if not days in meditative prayer without undue fatigue.
People of this faith are considered forthright, and swear no oaths not taken upon their own blades. To them a violation of such an oath is tantamount to blasphemy. An Echani court has a sword rather than a holy book to swear upon, and that sword is always the property of a High priestess, since they are the leaders of the church.
Ritual Brand: Weapon and religious icon of the Worshipers of Echana.
The Ritual brand is a blade staff averaging 30 centimeters taller than the user. There are no hand guards on the hand grip since they are used only by the Echani, and those people learn at a young age due care with a bladed weapon. Blades can be single edged either straight or curved, single edge opposite (single edges facing opposite directions on a horizontal plane). Double edged both straight and curved, and double edged composite (One blade horizontal, one edge vertical). One rare model seen in a museum was double edged, one blade curved, the other straight, with a rotating gimbal that allowed it to be turned from opposite to composite with the touch of a stud.
Each Ritual brand is handmade and a weapons-smith can adjust the length to suit the user. The entire weapon had a memory plastic fold in the center of the grip which allows the weapon to be folded in half, and the blades held in a single sheath.
The ritual brand has been copied by a number of peoples, and the only way to tell an actual ritual brand from one of these knock-offs is by examining the handgrip. The entire handgrip on an Echani Ritual brand is smooth from blade to blade whereas those made by other people have hand-guards or discernable ridges in the center or at the edges.
The Echani are here! I like it. It shows the nature of the Handmaidens and the whole combat thing. It's an oligarchy and yet they worship a mother goddess. Does that mean that it is matrilineal in society?
The flight control officer noted the new arrival from Lortu. Only one ship this time. He smiled gently. Why would that idiot send only one ship this time? Still he tapped the button, and the military flight officer logged in.
“This is approach control to unidentified ship. Identification please.”
“Duros freighter Sarcbaliel. Bound for Correlia. One passenger departing this system.” Came back the guttural reply.
“Danger?” asked the Flight control officer.
“Possible.” The Military flight officer mused. “Where did the passenger board?”
“Sarcbaliel, where did your passenger board, what species?”
“Well?” Flight control asked.
“Still odd.” The Military flight officer replied. “I’ll assign a watcher. Let him land.”
“Sarcbaliel. You are cleared for landing approach. Welcome to Echana.”
“Gracious thanks, Echana. End communication.”
Since it was merely a passenger disembarking, Sarcbaliel allowed a shuttle to come alongside, then joined the queue at the hyper-space cannon drive.
The shuttle docked at the small station Echana maintained. The customs official stood at the entryway, clip board in hand. The slim woman that came down the ramp surprised him. She was tall, long red hair running in a bloody sheath to her breasts, dressed in about ten square centimeters of green cloth.
He gulped, shaking his head sharply. “Papers please.” She handed him her ID chip, and he fed it into the reader. Holani Jantri. Citizen of Alderaan. Profession... His eyes sharpened, and all sexual fantasies disappeared.
“You’re a weapon’s merchant?” He asked.
“Yes.” She tilted her head, green eyes amused. “What should a weapons merchant look like? A hulking brute that looks like he uses them instead of buying them?”
Considering the people that usually arrived selling or buying weapons, that pretty much fit them. The customs officer blushed. “Sorry.” He handed the ID chip back. “Purpose of visit?”
“Investigating, possibly purchasing.” She said. “I have heard rumors about the Master Smith.”
“She doesn’t turn out much. Maybe a blade a week. Unless you’re buying for a rich man, she can’t turn out serious production.”
“I was hoping I could find out how she makes them.”
The customs man snorted. “Dream on. No one knows but her.”
“Well I can only try.” Holani caroled. He made a notation, and motioned. “Due to attacks by the Lortuai, all transit is through this station. When you decide to depart, you will have to notify Transit control.”
“Understood.” Holani walked away from the man, thoughtful. The mission had started so smoothly, and she wondered what might go wrong.
Echana was a lush world, so like the parks and forests of her home. The ‘city’ that was the planet’s capital was barely the size of the city she had been born in, maybe fifty thousand inhabitants. All told there were less than a million citizens on the planet, and if it were not for the master smith, she understood why Sogor had considered them ripe for conquest.
But stepping off the shuttle shocked her. On her home world weapons were for hunting, for sport, for the army police and of course criminals. Here everyone from the age of five upward carried swords and knives. As she passed a temple, she saw a pair of eight year olds squaring off and fighting with live uncovered steel in a display that would have brought applause at an exhibition. That was where Sogor went wrong. She mused. Instead of maybe a quarter million, he faced almost a million blades. Even the five year olds were a danger. She filed that information away as she headed to the maglev terminal. It was an hour ride to the sleepy village of Sookor-Chandar, and she spent the time assessing these people. Every third adult carried a ritual brand, and she knew the difficulty of mastering it. With no hand guard the untrained would lose their own fingers wielding it. One of the children, all of seven was making passes with her ritual brand in a slow whirl, her eyes watching the edges of the blade to assure she didn’t menace another passenger. Her mother tapped her hand. For a moment, Holani assumed she would order the weapon sheathed. Instead the woman adjusted her grip and the slow wheel of death continued. No wonder the Echani called swordplay the dance of death!
The car stopped, and she walked down from the station. At the bottom of the covered stairway, four children of about five stood in two pairs five meters apart. As she watched, two of them began juggling three wooden blades each. “Throw!” one called. The children standing aside each tossed another blade into the pattern, and now four blades danced in the air.
“Throw!” The other, a girl called, and two more blades entered the pattern. Suddenly the pattern expanded as ten blades now fountained across the space between the children.
“Throw!’ Now twelve blades flashed past Holani’s path in a pattern as bewildering as it was deadly for the last two blades were steel.
“Children!” a policeman sauntered over, watching the blades in the air. “Let the passengers debark!”
“Yes sir! Throw!” Now fourteen blades flew, but the pattern had lifted enough to clear the walkway.
“Please.” The officer said. Holani felt a slight nudge and a three year old tottered across under the blade bridge holding her older sister’s hand. Nervously Holani followed.
“An off worlder?” The asked.
“How did you- wait, I’m not carrying a blade.”
“Got it in one. How may I direct you?”
“I’m looking for the Master Smith’s shop.”
“Loo-ri street. Two blocks over, turn left, one block then right. On the corner of the next block.”
Holani walked on. Behind her there was a clatter and a lot of good natured laughter as the children gathered up the fallen blades. By the time she reached the street she had been directed to, she had seen on couple of children using all steel knives in a bewildering array of weights and shapes but this time on the sidewalk away from traffic. She turned as directed, and walked up the next block. Another pair of older children were juggling, but instead of knives these were full sized throwing axes. The blades impeded her path yet again.
“It’s called Cnifta.” A voice told her. Beside her stood a seven year old girl with raven black straight hair. “They’re not supposed to block access to a shop. That’s the rules.” She walked forward until the blades flashed past inches from her face. “Hey you nerf-herders! cut us some slack!”
“We’ll cut more than that Revana.” One of the fourteen year olds snapped.
“Want me to call Breia?”
“All right!” The blades were caught, and they glared at them as Holani crossed after the girl.
“Everyone’s afraid of my big sister. Breia is the best at cnifta, and even better at Soo-ti.”
The little girl reached into her hair, pulling out a straight needle thin piece of steel. Then her hand flicked negligently. The shaft punched into the wall, sinking ten centimeters into the hard wood. “Soo-ti.” She explained coolly. “My sister can do that from across the room with her back turned.” She grimaced. “When she’s not busy at the forge like it is lately.”
“This is the shop of the Master Smith?”
“You mean you came to see Breia?” The girl looked at her as if she were a beast in a zoo. “You don’t look rich.”
“I am not, but I work for people who are. Could you direct me?”
Revana grabbed her hand, dragging her into the shop.
It was small and cozy. Every wall had blades on display from the little needles of Soo-ti, balanced and matched blade sets for cnifta, axes like the ones being thrown again outside, and everything from daggers the length of her little finger to ritual brands. An older man stood talking to a customer.
“This lady came to see Breia.” Revanna called, leading her on like a tugboat.
The man nodded, and handed the ritual brand to the prospective customer. “Breia has a commission from the army for more of her special blades, so you’ll have to wait.”
“From what I have seen, it is worth the wait.” The customer brought the blade down on a meter length 40 centimeter thick log, and Holani stared as the blade sliced completely through it.
When Sogor had hired her, the mission had seemed merely difficult. Infiltrate Echana, find the master smith, wrest the secret of the blades produced, and return that information to Lortu. Now it looked to border on the impossible. If the only one who knew how to make a blade was the master smith herself (That surprised her as well) it meant she could not merely carry a datapad, but would have to consider kidnapping instead.
She shrugged. If it came to that, she would consider it.
At a compression forge, a figure stood, swathed in a robe from head to foot. One hand held a piece of almost molten steel in a negligent gloved hand. Only the glove she wore, proof against any temperature below that of a sun kept her from being burned. In the other was a hammer. But she wasn’t striking the metal to form it. She just stood there looking at it.
“Hush.” The voice was a throaty contralto. “I can’t hear the metal’s call.”
The girl stood shaking with repressed excitement. Suddenly the hammer rose, and struck four times, each time in a different place. Then the blade was thrust back into the forge. “Speak softly, so you don’t drown it out.”
“This lady came to see you.”
“If she can speak softly, she can stay. Otherwise she must leave.” The Breia pulled the blade out of the fire, striking it again, but only three times. Again each time in different places. “As for you little bullroarer, one loud word and you are out.”
“I came-” Holani stopped talking as a hand came up.
“My ears are excellent, woman. Whisper.”
“I came to commission a blade.” Holani whispered angrily.
“At the moment, I am taking no new commissions.” The blade came out, was struck this time with four blows then returned to the fire. “I do not forsee this changing unless Sogor dies and this war ends.” Out, three blows, in, out two blows, back in.
“We can wait.”
“Not unless you wish to wait for ten years.” The head under it’s hood cocked. “I have orders already covering that much time,” Out strike, in. Out, strike, strike in.
“I would feel better if I could see your eyes, woman.” Holani hissed.
The blade went into a cooling tank. The figure turned around. The front of the hood had a mask of metal. The gloved hands rose, lifting the hood away, then removing the mask. Holani stepped back in shock.
Breia’s face was marred by scars from above her expressive mouth to just below her hairline Her nose was pitted, and her eyes... Her eyes were empty sockets.
The master smith was blind.
The encyclopedia entries were interesting. I caught the 'the style is slow and smooth, forcing the mind to concentrate...' sentence used twice as well as a few comma/single quote issues, but no biggie. A critic can never get away with grammar mistakes. ;)
I love the richness in the detail of cultural descriptions. I've seen blacksmithing done a fair amount, and the descriptions there are quite accurate.
I enjoyed seeing how the Jedi started, too.
I'm looking forward to more.
Dor looked at the ship. Unlike the usual Corellian design, it was a sleek arrowhead of burnished metal. He walked across the tarmac, and ran his hand along the doorframe. The door opened with a gentle hiss, and he entered.
The ship was designed for long term occupation as all hyper ships had to be, but was cramped. He walked forward, entered the cockpit, and switched on the nav-computer. As he had suspected, the target system was Brentaal at the opposite end of the Trade Spine from where he had to be.
It had taken him years to understand nav-computers. His people didn’t use them, and all of the knowledge he had of them was second hand. He pulled out the slicer, and slid it into the onboard navigational update interface. Now, change heading, duration of flight, and power setting. The Galaxy seemed to approve of what he was doing. The computer didn’t ask for an authorization, for which he was thankful, he hadn’t bothered to find out if there was one.
Satisfied, he removed the slicer, then walked aft. The rebuilt ancient hyper engine sat nestled in the middle of the fuel tanks. No one, not even the genius that had modified it knew of it’s potential. Having seen a perfectly operational one, Dor could make a good estimate.
He found an air vent, opened the grate, and slid inside. Sitting, the small being meditated. He had several hours.
Darshan slid into the vest, looking at himself critically. Long black hair in a pony tail, black vest over white open necked shirt. Black breeches and boots. He was definitely a photo opportunity waiting for the camera. He took his multitool knife, slid it into the sheath on his left boot, then drank the last of his tea, picked up a wooden box from the table, and left.
Koori walked, or perhaps it might be more honest to say trotted as he walked out of his quarters, and climbed into the university ground car. The smaller man was nervous.
“Maybe I should-”
“No. For the love of the cosmos, Koori, get a grip. It’s not like we haven’t proven them wrong before.”
“But you never...”
“Never chanced getting killed before.”
“It isn’t happening. No one with my luck can die that easily.”
“Easily he says.” Koori mumbled. “Sitting on five tons of deuterium fuel with a fusion engine and plasma lines that have never been tested. If this ends badly, no one is going to say it was easy!”
“Calm down.” Darshan opened the box. “Here, this will shut you up.”
Koori picked up one of the keflaka cookies. “You didn’t.”
“Yup. I told mom you were bouncing off the overhead and she sent these to cheer you up.”
Koori nibbled, his face blissful. Nothing was as good as Mari Solo’s cookies! He grabbed two more, and thrust the box back.
“What are you doing? Three score cookies and you stop at three?”
“Take them with you and bring them back.”
“And I thought I was superstitious. Fine.”
The car slowed at the gate, then sped on to the ramp. Darshan climbed out, wincing as lights hit him in the face.
“Mister Solo! Are you worried about the danger?” A reporter called.
“No more than usual.”
“Does that mean you have faith in Professor Deralo’s design?”
“Professor?” He rubbed Koori’s hair playfully. “He’s like me, just a student in the best university in the Galaxy.”
“But this has never been tried!”
“Neither has dancing on the sun. But if my friend designed the dance floor, I’d be looking for a partner.” There was a laugh and he held up his hand. “Really people, if I stand here answering every question I won’t get off the ground before my thirtieth birthday! That’s all.”
He pushed through the reporters, and finally reached the ship. Koori followed as he walked forward, throwing his bag under the second seat. “Why did they bother to put two seats and four bunks in a one man ship?” He asked, sitting in his command chair.
“They didn’t build it just for you, you know.” Koori switched on the computers, running a diagnostic. “When you get back they’re going to use this as a advertising ploy. Take some delegate from a planet and let him pick the destination, that kind of thing.” He sniffed with satisfaction, and punched a button on the nav console. “Course locked.”
“I hate that part.” Darshan snarled. “Why do I have to have a locked down nav computer?”
“Because the University heard about how much you like Santi Morel of Kuat.”
“You’re kidding. I asked her for one dance! She still doesn’t even know who I am!” Darshan pictured the woman ten centimeters taller than he was, with rippling muscles. He was almost afraid to picture them together romantically. “Besides, she turned me down.”
“What, the great Darshan Solo couldn’t sweet talk a lady?”
“No. She didn’t know how to dance.”
So why did you spend three hours with her?”
“Because I was teaching her Tongo.”
“Tongo?” Koori stared at him in horror. “You taught the daughter of the Kuat ambassador tongo?”
“Why not?” He looked surprised. “We weren’t betting money!”
“What were you betting?”
“I give up.” Koori shook his head. “I’ll be in the control center.”
“You do that.”
The next hour was taken up in the checklist. Darshan pulled out his tongo dice, and rolled them on the panel beside them idly as he went through the process. Tongo used six dice, each with a different number of sides, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20. It was played by trying to beat the total numeric value of an opponent’s roll, though matching it exactly was the big pay-off. Of course, the odds of matching someone’s roll exactly was right up there with getting struck by a meteor as you stroll down the street. But that is what gambling is all about.
“Checklist complete.” The control center reported. Darshan picked up the dice, stuck them back in his pocket, and began strapping in.
“All right, engines are hot, plasma temperature nominal. Engaging lift and drive now.” The jets screamed as the ship lifted gently. He rotated in place, giving the press a good look at the future of space travel, and then punched the thrust vectoring to forward. The ship slid like an egg in a greased skillet, picking up speed at a deceptive rate. He stood it on it’s tail, and less than a kilometer from the field was already pushing mach one.
The atmosphere behind, he headed for the test area. Every sensing device known to man was arrayed around the 500 cubic kilometer section of near space blocked off from traffic, and he reveled in the feel of the responsiveness.
“Darshan to ground, how about we change her name?”
“Ground to Darshan, you know the ship was named after University President emeritus Calrissian.”
“So what? Who goes adventuring in hyper space with a name like Han Calrissian?”
“What would you prefer?”
“I don’t know. Maybe Hawk or falcon. Something fast! Or maybe Millennium since I‘m going to spend that long for you guys to finish all of the telemetry adjustments.”
“Telemetry is set and rolling.”
“About time!” Darshan took the control wheel in his hands. He snorted to himself. Han! It sounds like someone who can’t spell hand. You’ll never see a Solo with that name.
His eyes tightened. He was approaching the test area, but the course didn’t feel right. He checked his own figures, and it was definitely wrong. “Control, the ship is approaching at the wrong vector.”
“The heading is 175, it should be 355. It’s heading in the wrong direction for
“Give us a minute, Han Calrissian. We’re checking the navigational vectors.”
“We haven’t got a minute. I’m disconnecting the nav computer and will return to base.” He reached across, and tapped the disengage switch. The red light stayed on. He did it again with no affect. “No joy, Control. The nav computer is locked.”
“We are trying to reprogram from here.”
Darshan flinched as he heard a whirring sound. “Control the fusion initiators have activated, get it done!”
“We’re, we’re locked out!”
Darshan cursed fluently in both Corellian Basic and Twi-leki, slamming his fist again and again on the button that refused to free him from this hell ride. “Control! I have a bad feeling about this!”
The ship seemed to stretch until it was a blazing beam of light, and was gone.
The night life in the capital was nothing much to speak of. Holani wore her red sheath, slinking down the street. On Coruscant or Corellia it would have drawn wolf whistles and propositions. At home it would have drawn shocked stares. here it only drew appreciative looks.
She had decided on a restaurant near her hotel, passed what was euphemistically called Embassy row. Yeah, right. The factors of a dozen business conglomerates that traded with Echana. Not an ambassador among them. She walked slowly past them. The man who had been trailing her since dark was much better than the one that had picked her up when she had arrived. She could lose him, no problem. Just a quick tint of her hair, dress like a local, and that was it. But she couldn’t do that without alerting the locals that she knew she was under surveillance.
The waiter at the restaurant brought a steaming bowl of the local chowder as the first course, and she moaned her appreciation. That was followed by flaky fish fillets then strips of broiled Nerf in the local sauce, hot enough to scald the uninitiated.
A Twi-lek passed her table, staggering from too much drink. He jostled the table, and went on. Holani looked sourly after him, palming the earplug he had dropped as he past, sliding it into her ear.
“Talk.” The voice said.
She leaned over her meal, speaking softly in Hutt in case someone was trying to lip read. “The target is a blind woman. No way to gain the secret without kidnapping.”
The speaker paused. “Either kidnap or kill.”
“No other options?” Her heart froze at the callous order.
“If second option, entire family must die.” The voice said. “No chance of anyone keeping secret must remain.”
Great. Either tear a blind woman from her home or kill the gods alone knew how many. Holani bit her lip. Which was worse? She remembered the sweet face of the girl The gruff but friendly man. Father, brother, husband? Who knew?
“Kidnap.” Holani sighed. “Need support vehicle.”
“Ship at space port. air car will be where you direct.”
She nodded. “Done. Tomorrow one block west of the hotel.” She ran her hand through her hair, the earplug not back in her hand. She dropped it into her water glass, where custom designed nanobots reduced it to it’s constituent molecules in seconds.
[i]All right Holani. You ran away from your family, your home, became not only a criminal but a master criminal. All so you could destroy someone’s life. Great resume.[/]
She stood, dropped her payment and a tip on the table, and went back to her room.
The next evening, she looked at what she had gathered. A locally made knife in a slim jeweled sheath. Wide trousers with a russet bloused shirt below a green vest. The dye she had carried in her make up case had changed her hair from red to brown, and the second dye had darkened her skin to match the sun bronzed local look.
Contact lenses had turned her an equal brown.
The watcher assigned to her was down stairs, and she knew that. No one was watching her window, and there were no listening devices. This was the time.
As the night deepened, she took the can of climbing thread. Based on the silk of a spider of the planet Hapes, it was strong enough to hold three times her weight. She pulled on the special climbing gloves that would stop the silk from slicing her hands to ribbons, and attached the hardener tip. She sprayed an attachment on the wall beside her balcony, kicked her feet over the edge, and began abseiling down the wall. When her feet touched the ground she popped the tip, slicing the thread off cleanly, slipped the can into her pouch, and strolled nonchalantly down the street.
The car, driven by the same Twi-lek that had pretended to be drunk was waiting, and it lifted into the air. The pair rode silently until they settled in the small park near Breia’s home.
“Give me twenty minutes. If I am not back, go for option two.” She ordered. In her mind she considered the knife on her hip. If she couldn’t be back, she’d warn the family, kill this little Hutt slime, and turn herself in.
The shop was closed, but she could hear the rhythmic hammering from the forge. Softly she padded around, looking in through a crack in the door. Breia was at the forge as if she had never left.
“Come in.” She said. Holani stiffened, then shrugged resignedly, stepping into the room. Breia had not moved from the forge. Now she thrust the blade into the cooling vat, and turned. “I knew you would be back. There is darkness in you, and it would harm my entire family. Why?”
Holani stared at her in shock. “I was hired by Sogor to discover the secret of your super sharp blades. When I discovered that you were...”
“Blind?” She took off the mask. “Since I was Revana’s age. My father had an accident, the forge blew back.” She waved toward her face negligently. “The plasma seared my eyes and optic nerves. But why would that stop such a cold person?”
Holani was hurt by the comment. “I had considered kidnapping you, but I didn’t want to do that. I contacted the ones that work here for Sogor they only gave me one other option.”
“To kill me.”
“No, if it were that I might have been willing. I was to kill not only you but your entire family.” Holani closed her eyes, picturing Revana. To kill her...
“So your choice is what?” Breia asked as if it were a choice as to which dessert at a meal.
“To take you.”
“Speaking to the constable was not an option?”
“I may work alone but Sogor has others here. If I had told the constables your family would have still died. Even my death would not have stopped it.”
Breia nodded. “I sense you speak the truth. Knowing what I do of Sogor the murder of one extended family would be an exercise of little thought to him.” She turned, removing the robe and choosing a darker one. Without the bulky robes she was slim, and Holani‘s estimate of her age dropped from mid thirties to early 20s. She swirled a red traveling cloak over the, putting up the hood again. “We must go then.”
“As you said. I could kill you or call the constables. Doing so would lead to the deaths of many. My life is not worth that.” Breia chose a staff that matched her new robe. ”Having me will not give Sogor what he wants. It is an equitable trade.”
Breia picked up her hammer, and laid it on the forge reverently. Then walked out.
Holani followed, walking beside her. “The hammer, a signal?”
“No, the robe. My brother worries about me, so he had a tracker with a life detector sewn into it. Right now an alarm is going out, and the local police will be moving in minutes.” Breia looked at her. “More than enough time for you to get away with me.”
They reached the car, and it rocketed into the sky. Breia sat face turned as if looking at the scenery.
“Why didn’t you get ocular implants?”
“When I was first blinded, I despaired. The stars were above me, and I can still remember their call. Without sight I felt worthless. But then I discovered the wonder of a world you cannot see.
“I found that I can hear the rhythm of the heart, the flow of what people say and what they really mean. That is how I knew you would harm me and my family.
“Then I learned that I could hear the song of metal as it cools. Portions of heated metal cool slower than others, and by striking them when the song reaches the right note, I can form it in the manner that astounds you all.
“I returned to the forge less than a year later, and began my first blade. When others saw what I had done they tried to learn, but no one I have met can hear the song, and that is necessary to form the metal.
“That is why having me will not give Sogor what he wants. It will earn your coin and little else.”
“All of this for nothing.“ Holani whispered.
Breia cocked her head, the empty sockets turning toward Holani. “You regret your choices. While your father has forgiven you, it will not return you home. Another must do that.”
“Just shut up.” Holani snarled.
Great job Mach. I am really, really into this story. I can't wait to see how it all ends. I loved these lines by the way. :)
“I don’t know. Maybe Hawk or falcon. Something fast! Or maybe Millennium since I‘m going to spend that long for you guys to finish all of the telemetry adjustments.”
“Telemetry is set and rolling.”
“About time!” Darshan took the control wheel in his hands. He snorted to himself. Han! It sounds like someone who can’t spell hand. You’ll never see a Solo with that name.
Very funny, I like your sense of humor there. ;)
Can't wait for the next chapter!
Darshan stared at the swirling of hyper-space and vented the one Hutt curse he knew, which could be literally translated as ‘your father was your mother as well’ then turned toward the cabinet to his left below the console. He opened the door, looking at the droid with distaste. He’d never liked the housekeeping and construction robots that had come into vogue, and the idea that he might need assistance if the ship was damaged had offended him greatly. But this damn thing was his only chance to get home, so he flicked the switch.
The droid powered up, and a small red lens turned to focus on his face. It beeped at him. On the screen beside him, words scrolled.
-greetings, user. I am designated A1A7, Astromech robot designed by Droids incorporated, the premier-
“Can it, tin man. Find out what is wrong with the damn Nav-computer.”
The droid beeped another reply. -Interrogative: The nav computer has no control of water flow or-
Darshan clenched his fist. “Damn as in ‘to be damned’ as in cursing. Check out that collection of circuits and see what is wrong with it.”
The droid deployed a set of wheels, and rolled over to the console. An arm popped out, and inserted itself in the interface port. -Searching. No detectable anomalies in circuitry or programming.-
“Then why the hell are we going the wrong direction?” Darshan snapped.
-Searching: Anomaly detected. Course destination and fuel mix was altered 10 hours fifteen minutes ago using onboard navigational update interface. User not identified. However, anomaly was caused by a highly innovative slicing program of Coruscanti design-
“Coruscant! So we’re going there?”
-Negative. Course is down Corellian Trade Spine out galaxy rather than inward. Assuming fuel and course is correct, the ship will end it’s flight in the system controlled by the Lortuai-
“Lortuai? I’ve never heard of it.”
-Them. Data on planet Lortu in navigational database. Data on native race is in encyclopedic data base-
There was a clattering aft, and Darshan’s head snapped around. “Put all of the data on both onto a pad. I will be back in a moment.” He pulled out the multitool, popping out the blade. Razor sharp, it was only about 100 centimeters long, but he felt better armed. Surprising, because he’d never held a weapon in his life.
He padded aft, looking into the bunk area. No one there. The next compartment was the mess deck, and there was muttering from the compartment.
“-never put where easy to reach it is.” The gruff little voice complained. There was another clatter, and curses in an unknown language. Darshan peeked around the entry hatch.
The little alien that had grilled him at the press conference a week before was headfirst in a cabinet. A fry pan flew out as he watched. “Make tea all the time, they do, but pot they did not bring? Only humans so foolish.”
Darshan crept across, slamming the cabinet door shut with his foot. There was a squalling from inside, and he pinned the door with all of his weight. “A stowaway!”
“Observant you are.” The voice said from inside the cabinet. “To make tea I was, but pot I cannot find.”
“That’s because we only heat the water and use tea bags.”
There was silence. “Bags? Why bags for tea you have?”
“Maybe because I was supposed to be alone.”
“Point you have made. Release can you so I may prepare?”
“Why did you reset my navigation?”
“Destination where go I must is set. Where go you must as well.”
“That ship won’t fly. All I have to do is drop out, reset-”
The droid came down the passageway, squealing frantically. “What the- crap.” Darshan grabbed the chair, slid it tight against the cabinet door, setting the traction clamps so it would need to be released from outside, and ran forward. The screen flashed
-Danger detected. navigational system has been reprogrammed to cause fuel tank detonation if the ship does not reach set destination! Program will delete itself if this happens-
Darshan stared at the screen. “Anyway to circumvent it?”
Darshan stormed back to the mess hall. The chair was back where it had been before. Suddenly something hit him from behind, slamming him face first to the floor.
“Listen will you?” He spun. Dor was crouched on the frame of the hatch, looking down.
Darshan leaped up, charging at him. The little being seemed to levitate, and the stick in his hand caught Darshan across the shoulders, throwing him into the bulkhead with bruising force.
“Can all day do this. Listen will you first?”
Darshan turned, staggering. “All right you little Hutt slime! Talk!”
“Conversation tea would be better with.” Dor replied. “Show me you will?”
Darshan huffed, stormed over, pulling two cups down. Then he opened the food storage, dropped bags in each cup, then tapped the stud for the water filling them. “All right, shortie, talk.”
Dor leaped down, cradling the cup. “Interesting this is. Monk of Monastery of Jedi am I member. Know you of it anything?
“Explanation give I must. Monks the mind study. Thought nature of. Potentials untapped they are.”
“Millennia we studied have. Wonders find. Without as well within as. Discovered it was that Galaxy help us.”
“Wait, the Galaxy is helping your research? That’s impossible!”
“Possible or not, happening it is.” Dor replied. “Millennia ago, abilities discovered were. Things magic and mystical humans see as, possible was it to do.”
“So you’re people can do magic?”
“Science and knowledge magic to untrained seems. This we call Force for lack of name better. Flows from life it does.”
“So life somehow creates energy, and your training makes it something you can use?”
“Best explanation is.” Dor sipped his tea, sighing appreciatively. “Soon discovered it was that guided by force we are. Monks traveled at urge spirit of. Problems find they, answer they have. Peace brought in wars where warriors see not way. People science of given guidance they see not. Spread have we to worlds by commerce touched.”
“So let me get this straight. This Force as you call it makes you go places and do things because they feel right.”
“Explanation good is.” Dor drained the cup. “Please more?”
Darshan handed him his cup, and Dor sipped it. “Monk to Lortu go. Find conqueror would be, and... Other.”
“A conqueror. What other?”
“Force used many ways. As can I with skill of fight, others things touch and shape. Metal can this one form. Danger to her is it. Lortuai covet, take they would. But skill pass cannot. Must the person take.”
“So this woman who can use the force to form metal is going to be kidnapped. Why?”
“Blade you have. Valuable more is if it anything cut?”
“What?” Darshan ran the words through his mind again. “She can make a blade sharp enough to cut anything?”
“Truth is it.”
Darshan pictured a man with a sword cutting through armored soldiers as if they wore nothing. “So this conqueror wants these, these super swords for himself. So what? Corellia has weapons beyond something so archaic.”
“Understand do you not. Sign from god taken would if possess evil one does. Many waver, faith not strong. Failure or death temple from within can destroy.”
“But how does she forge metal that sharp?”
“Knew we how important is she not beyond life her own.” Dor replied. “Weapons with such fool try to conqueror others will. Many die stopped he is not.”
“So you stole my ship to rescue her?”
“True it is.” Dor waved at the ship. “Depends it not upon hyper-cannon controlled enemy by. Able slip in and out it is.”
“So why me?” Darshan snarled. “Why steal the first one?”
“Life of yours changed must it be. For you new path at Lortu begins.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Dice you have? Tongo play you?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“Much know I of Darshan Solo you. Get please for me.”
Darshan walked forward, scooped up the box holding his dice, and returned. He set it down on the table.
“As if playing roll.” Darshan opened the cap, spilling out the dice. They fell with each numbering one. Dor dropped to the floor, leaped into the chair facing Darshan. “Number to beat easy, yes? But more paid for match, correct is?”
“Yes. But the odds are astronomical!”
“Luck with what I do has nothing.” Dor pushed the dice back into the cup, flipped it and lifted it.
Every die had a single dot.
“Many time how must I do to prove to you this?” He repeated it, and again the numbers were all one. Then again.
“Force my actions direct. Woman save I must Force directs does. Woman taking her prisoner has, Force directs does. Person that rescue must do,” He pointed at Darshan. “Force directs does. Lie to you do I not.”
“So I had to go on this little jaunt.”
“I think smoking something you have been.”
“My way of talking not make fun of.” Dor warned. “Read you what books say to learn. Prepare for rescue you must.”
Jedi, Monastery of: One of the religions considered odd by the peoples of the Galaxy is the order that started 2200 years ago at the Monastery of Jedi.
Named after the founder of the order, Jedi Horoni, the Monks of the order study the workings of the mind. They believe that the mind is capable of wonders that defy the imagination.
History: 2200 years ago, Jedi Horoni claimed to have discovered that there is an energy field within the galaxy that can be directed by the mind. He moved into a rude shack on the edge of what is now the city of Knossa (SEE OSSUS, Cities of) and began studying this phenomenon he claimed to have witnessed. Like a lot of founders of contemplative orders, he was at first ridiculed, but since he wasn’t considered a danger, he was allowed to live at peace. People came to witness these wonders, and while most left when miracles did not occur on demand, a small core remained, entranced by his vision. By the time of his death 2130 years ago, the order had grown to fifty members.
The order is odd whereas most such orders limit their members to one race, the Order allows members of any race willing to learn what they teach. By the second century after it’s founding, members of seven races on the planet were members.
There is a ranking system within the order of apprentice Padawan and master.
Like most contemplative orders, the members of the order learn martial arts for self defense, and watching a monk wielding a sword as if it were a natural extension of his body has become a spectator sport on some worlds. However while fully capable of defending themselves, the members see violence as the most distasteful option in any situation.
The largest growth occurred when Ossus was first visited by travelers from Belderone extending from the Permelian Trade route 57 years ago. At that time, the Order had approximately hundred fifty members, but as of this date they have grown to over four hundred members in five Monasteries located on Ossus Belderone Ralltiir Coruscant and Alderaan.
Fifty years ago, rival governments discovered that the Jedi as they are sometimes called were excellent arbiters of disputes. The trade war between Brentaal and Tepasi ended when the Jedi negotiator revealed duplicity by the little known Czerka Corporation of Coruscant in the conflict. The Corporation was almost driven into receivership when the weapons they had been supplying to both sides were itemized.
Footnote: While an interesting faith, few if any understand the precepts behind it, and it is not considered important enough to update the journal entries more often than every decade...
Padawan: Noun: Ossuia language native to planet Ossus.
Translation, ‘Traveler’. Member of the middle tier of the order formed 2200 years ago in the Monastery of Jedi. The word is linked to their duty within the order. Padawan are expected to spend several years of their lives traveling at the behest of the order and act as arbiters of disputes. To become a Padawan is an arduous process requiring study of what the order calls the Force, then training in several martial forms before a sword is gifted to them as sign of their position. It has been suggested that the prospective Padawan must make his own sword, but such is not proven, since no one is allowed contact with an apprentice of the order.
Lortu: Planet located around star named Sondiraco. Galactic Reference GSFD-774/CTS/ER/11.
Class: DA class 5, similar to Ossus. Native animals and planets graded at level 3, since the native species called the Lortuai have systematically over hunted the native animals into near extinction. Within acceptable standards for human colonization under Coruscant Exploration Guidelines, however off worlders are not welcome.
Economic rating: 1.
Technology level, in weapons, grade 8. In all other commerce grade 1 and lower.
Population: Last census 5.78 billion.
Demographics: 99% Lortuai. Trade is accepted, but only merchant factors have actually been allowed residence. All emigration banned unless the person has a skill deemed necessary by the Theocratic Knowledge Authority.
Government: Theocracy. The present ruler Sogor is titled ‘the Ever living' and his word is law to his subjects. Title is hereditary though those considered worthy can be suggested when a new ‘ever living’ is chosen.
Exports: Darson wood, Pipalli (A spice used and valued highly in preparations of highly spiced meals), Fulgathi oil.
Imports: Imports include primarily technological transfers, though the main ones to date have been licensing the CZ 1 assault rifle design from Czerka Corporation of Coruscant. Recently they had a now defunct treaty with Echana that supplied the Lortuai with swords and the first production of other hand weapons in return for Darson wood from the Lortuai forests of Haanmelo. Pipalli was also shipped until the Echani obtained seeds for the planet which flourishes there.
Social conventions: Place in society is rigidly controlled, and there is little or no social mobility. A person of the lowest cast (Goridai, or ‘excrement hauler’) can only aspire to Morgoshidai or ‘garbage remover‘. The Lortuai are a fiercely independent and argumentative people. Comments that would be taken as mildly insulting on other worlds would be considered insults worth a blood feud among the Lortuai.
Within their society someone of an upper cast may speak to anyone, where of a lower cast you may only speak to someone one step above you in social standing unless addressed. Any interaction not begun by someone of a socially acceptable level is ignored unless the very act is considered a blatant disregard of convention, which is punished swiftly and severely. The Lortuai feel that their race is superior to all other life forms, and even a Goridai is of a higher station than an off worlder. However knowing that the planet is dependant of technology transfers from these ‘lesser beings, rules had to be instituted to avoid problems. Social interaction with off worlders is only allowed between priests and administrators.
History: The planet known as Lortu by it’s inhabitant was first discovered when the development of the folded hyper cannon Matrix allowed rapid expansion along what is now called the Corellian Trade Spine.
Lortu was the eighth planet discovered along that route by a combined Coruscanti-Corellian team. That first contact almost led to war when the army of the then ruling Ever living charged the ship. The Coruscanti commander thought little of the attack. The stone, sharpened wood, and tooth encrusted weapons could not penetrate the ship, and the team merely stayed inside the ship until the attacks finally stopped. When communication was finally established, the Ever-living demanded that the ship surrender. instead the ship emplaced a Hyper cannon matrix and departed out-galaxy.
Trade was finally opened fifty years ago with the assistance of a Monk of the Monastery of Jedi. The Lortu promised to trade Darson wood and Pipalli for technology transfers from such corporations as Czerka of Coruscant the chartered Tokara Company of Coruscant and Merr-Sohn Munitions of Corellia, though they only purchased licensing rights for local manufacture.
Fifteen years ago it was discovered that Borogor the then seated Ever-living was not using all of this technology to bring his society up to the standards of other planets. Rather he was using it to develop weapons for conquest. A monk of the Monastery of Jedi asked to mediate a trade dispute with the neighboring system Duloc and Lortu revealed this. The horror of the civilized Galaxy did nothing to stop that conquest.
The Corellian Navy was ceded control of the hyper-cannon network within the Lortu system to forestall further attempts using the existing hyper space cannon when it was discovered that the Coruscanti corporate operators of the local matrix had been bought by the Lortu with bribes of vouchers used to purchase Darson wood and Pipalli at government regulated prices, a tenth of their sale price to corporations, and one hundredth of their value upon resale. It was the biggest scandal in Coruscanti history, causing the collapse of the government. The embargo did not stop the attempts by Lortu to expand. They had already bought the technology of the Hyper-cannon, and built a second competing system inside the Sondiraco system which allows them to bypass restrictions on the original Hyper-cannon system. They emplaced mines which were under their control forcing ships to either risk damage or use their own system and pay duties on cargos shipped through their system. They have conquered the Berodilo system nearby, but there are no other systems close enough to attack from either Lortu or their conquests where they will not face superior firepower except for the Shirrazu system, holding the planet of Echana.
Nine years ago, on the rise of Sogor to Ever-living, the Lortuai attempted to annex Echana, but the invasion was easily defeated, even though at the time Echana was considered a nonexistent military power. Sogor has concentrated on Echana as a system he must have, and a low intensity conflict is ongoing...
From: Encyclopedia Galactica: Second edition
I have to agree with everyone else and say that I find your story quite interesting, machievelli. I anxiously await further installments. :)
I'm not sure that the Yoda-speak is working for me though. Sometimes it seems OK and then at other times it doesn't. E.g.
Direct my actions the Force does.
Save the woman the Force tells me.
Lie to you I do not.
Anyway, I'm sure trying to write a Yoda-like dialogue is very difficult and surpasses my ability. Keep up the great work as you've done an amazing job at providing history and details of your version of the early SW galaxy. :thumbsup:
I really liked your last chapter Mach. There was a lot of Yoda-like dialogue, and of course he is my favorite SW character. Can't wait for your next update!
What Dor was trying to say was that everyone involved is being directed by the force. Breia allowing herself to be taken to save her family, Holani choosing kidnapping over mass murder. Darshan flying the ship because of his faith in Koori. Dor to correct what he has done wrong (You'll find that out)
Writng like yoda talks hard is. A little experience with the old celtic languages especially Welsh helps a lot.
Glad you're enjoying it, people.
As for the fact that I've had more hits, I stopp posting to my KOTOR Fic because i was getting maybe 10 people looking at it, and out of them only one or two responding. The difference between a professional writer and a fan writing is a pro shouldn't need people saying 'hey great'.
But it still bothers me. Like throwing a rock to skip on a pond and it just sinks with no ripples. That is part of the reason I started as the critic.
The transfer of the prisoner was easy. At the same time that Holani was paying for her room, and buying a ticket to travel to Berogol, the next planet beyond Lortu, Breia was sedated packaged and immersed into a tank of live Tanif bound for the same destination. A Hutt transport which arrived took the consignment and passenger aboard, and when they arrived in Lortu, they were removed.
You regret your choices. While your father has forgiven you, it will not return you home. Another must do that.
Holani remembered the angry look on her father’s face, the shocked look on her mother’s. The money and jewelry she had been accused of stealing. Above all the sanctimonious smirk of that damned Jedi Monk. She’d run away, stolen some money, stowed away. Vowed that if she was thought a thief, she might as well be one. The name she had once cherished, Organa, heir apparent to the throne, was cast away with her old life. Now her last name changed as often as her employers and her missions. She was called a lot of things now. Every nickname attributed to her was of something sleek fast and in most cases deadly. Her skill were great enough that she could command top credit if she was called, and she had never failed to complete a mission.
But that wasn’t without price. Five years of espionage murder and crime had marked the child she had been in ways her father would never understand and even if he had accepted her innocence of that initial charge she was not the hurt and angry girl she had been.
Holani felt even worse when she saw how her prisoner had been transported. She stood there as the capsule Biare had been stuffed in was cranked out of the tank, and deposited on the deck by grinning Lortuai. One of them opened the casket, and roughly injected the unconscious woman. Holani wanted to object, but the rank tabs on the little monster were of a Su-tai, equivalent to a Corellian Commander. Her own rank as a spy was just above a Merchant.
“Wake up.” The Su-tai leaned forward, and slapped the slowly rousing woman sharply. Holani pictured killing the little creep. It wouldn’t save Breia any pain, but it would be a pleasant sight to take into death with her.
Breia rolled onto her hands and knees, then vomited all over the Su-tai’s leggings and boots. As much as it looked like an accident, Holani caught the savage grin the woman hid when wiping her mouth.
Guards dragged the woman to her feet, and one of them pointed. “Both of you, go!”
Holani steadied the woman as they walked. “You have a way of getting even that is sublime.”
“Isn’t it just?” Breia whispered. “Think of what I have in store for you.”
“I will accept it when it comes. I owe you more than that. Anything you do to me is richly deserved.”
They were chivvied along to a car, and driven toward the massive pyramid shape of Sogor’s palace. A couple of new structures were going up, and Holani stared at them. “What are those?”
Breia seemed to listen. “The workers speak of forges of massive size.” She snorted. “Obviously he seems to think that I can be coerced.” Breia looked at the other woman in her uncanny way. “Why are you still here? I know you have already been paid. Why are you not off ruining someone else’s life?”
“I don’t know.” Holani whispered back. “I can’t just leave you here. It’s my fault that you will be tormented, and I... I can‘t live with that. If there is a way to free you someone must be outside to plan it.”
“Now she gets remorseful.” Breia snorted. “Maybe next time you ask me how to do it?”
The car arrived at the palace, and the women walked up the steps. Guards stood every few meters, eyes watching them balefully as they went on. The massive doors of the throne room opened, and before them across an expanse of crimson tile was the throne. Sogor was bouncing up and down on it like a demented jack in the box.
Holani stepped back, allowing Breia to walk alone as they approached the throne. “She must show proper respect!” Sogor roared. A guard stepped out, clipping the blind woman across the back of her knees, dropping her to the floor. Sogor snorted in satisfaction, then looked at Holani. “As you have promised. Go with my blessing.”
“Please.” Holani raised a hand. “I have come to learn of this woman, and my offices can be used to aid in her redemption.”
“I think not.” Sogor motioned, and her own voice rang from the air.
“...I can’t just leave you here. It’s my fault that you will be tormented, and I... I can‘t live with that. If there is a way to free you someone must be outside to plan it...”
Before she could move Holani was thrown to the ground, her arms bound. Sogor stood walking down to stand over her. “My blessing is always saved for the dying. You will join them at my pleasure.” He kicked her in the face, then turned away as Holani was dragged out.
“As for you, master smith. You will teach my smiths your secret or you will suffer.”
“I think not.” Breia started to rise, and Sogor put his foot in her back, slamming her back to the tile.
“I will have your skin ripped a centimeter strip at a time if you speak to me again!”
“And what if doing so destroys my abilities, you moron?” Breia asked in a conversational tone. “Do you even know what magic i work with steel? Is it something that my mood will affect? Or my physical well being? Which is more important to you, the weapons you demand or the pleasure of my screams?”
Sogor stepped back. “Put this filth in my cells. If she does not relent, I will use that condemned one to convince her of how serious I am.”
“Now, come, and briefing I will give.”
He led the pilot back into the mess deck, where he started a hologram. A flat topped pyramid rotated before them. “Palace of the Ever-living this is. Weapons many, but here is way in secret.” A small red dot flashed, and the hologram zoomed. There was a tunnel running deep into the pyramid, with a flashing area near the center. “This prison area is. Prisoners here will be held. The one we seek is in this room.” A clawed finger marked one of the small compartments.
Darshan looked at the hologram. “How wide is this way?”
“Fifty meters wide and tall.”
“How could something this big be a secret?”
“Lortu mind makes it so.”
“Wait a minute, that doesn’t answer the question. fifty meters square, half a kilometer long. How the hell can that be invisible?”
“Lortu only what is important sees. This path waste from Sogor’s palace is used for. Toilets and trash do go here.”
“Wait a minute. It’s the sewer chute?” At Dor’s nod, Darshan laughed helplessly. “Well, if I have to end up where it’s brown and smelly, at least I have a ship to sail that creek in!”
Dor looked at him. “Humor humans have none. Now...”
The Han Calrissian came out of hyperspace. Ahead at ten AU was a bleak planet. Darshan looked at the globe, snorting. “Why can’t the bad guys live on a beautiful planet instead of some slimeball?”
Dor shrugged. In the last week he and Darshan had come to a truce. Dor would stop telling him about his destiny, if Darshan would supply tea and stop asking questions he could not answer.
“When find on pleasure world an enemy, you I will contact.” Dor promised.
The ship drifted silently as the sensors scanned all frequencies. What people didn’t know was that since a space ship required communication and detection of possible dangers, even the simplest adjustment of the operational parameters could turn that around and use it as an undetectable scanning device. The radar frequencies and ranges were mapped. Communications between the ground bases and the fighters that swept their skies were recorded, analyzed and plotted. For once Darshan was happy to have a droid around because only A1A7 had the patience to do it all.
Finally Darshan had it all down. His insertion orbit was laid in, and he sat in the command chair, ready.
“So tell me.” Darshan asked, nudging the controls so the ship began to drift forward. “Why is this mission so important to you?”
Dor sat looking toward the planet. For a long moment, Darshan thought he wouldn’t answer. “Lortu traded because convinced them I did. Saw within them darkness, but thought it was minor. Something grow out of they would. But wrong was I.” He looked down. “Foolish I was. Fifteen years ago mistake was dark with fruit. Lortuai evil spread. Duloc conquered. Millions died. Berodilo then was taken. Millions more. All deaths, all pain my fault.”
Dor stared up at the young man. “Think young one. To be millions of deaths, hundreds of millions of suffering the one to blame. Save these women limit the workings of Sogor I must.”
“So you’re powers don’t make you perfect?”
Dor snorted. “Power responsibility begets but beings still are they as before. Evil in all, restraint of evil best goal. Use wrong causes pain. Those of us that learn sometimes darkness have. Those that do, we must follow and stop. Balance maintain I must. My acts unbalance, restore my acts must.” He looked back at the planet. “Sogor student was. Evil has he done. Came home before father war began. Pushed to make this empire. Killed father when failed he did.”
“Wait. This Sogor was a student of your order?”
“Surprised you are? Think you what value this be if evil you are.” He waved at the ship. “Superior it is to all. Until drive created again, raid you could. Take millions. Escape no one follow can.”
“But this isn’t my ship! I’m just a pilot.”
“Difference is between you and Sogor. He pilot of Force, but see it as his to use as he will. Stop him I must.”
“Great. So we have to save these two women, stop this guy, and by that I think you mean kill him.“ Dor nodded sadly. “It’s hopeless. Are we going to live through this?”
“Ambiguous question is. Remember always, life permanent is not. No one in long run survives.”
The planet had systems for detecting approaches by ships, but it had a blind spot as most did. Anything unpowered object traveling below ten kilometers a second was labeled as an asteroid, and ignored. Weighing less than 50 tons, the ship was scanned and catalogued as such as it plummeted into the atmosphere. The ship raced across the sky until it was beyond the range of the ground based sensors of the Palace complex. At that point, Darshan brought up the lift and drives, coming out of the dive and rocketing along the surface of the ocean at low speed. He was flying at zero altitude, faster than anyone would have imagined on this little planet, and this part at least he loved. Nothing pleased him more than seat of the pants flying. He grumbled as they approached the palace, having to drop to the same speed as an air car on his home world.
The pyramid bulked ahead of him, and he inched lower as he approached. “There.” Dor said. Darshan could see the passageway, barely ten meters larger that the wingspan of the ship. The ship slid into the hole. Darshan was in his element. He’d always wanted to try flying something this tight, and disconnecting the collision and proximity alarms had been a big help.
The ship slowed, and settled, the skids sinking into something he’d rather not think about. Dor had told him that the palace had 20,000 residents. He mentally figured how much waste that was of every type, and wrinkled his nose at the thought. No Solo is every going to have to do something this disgusting ever again!
“Now, your tool we have need of.”
Darshan figured it out, and sighed. His multitool had been a gift from his mother when he’d gone to college. It could slice cable, strip it for connections, weld them firmly, and allow him to work on micro-circuitry. He wasn’t sure if removing the screws from the grate was on the list but as it dropped to squelch in the muck, he knew he’d have to add that to the list.
Great job once again Machievelli. I really, really, and I mean really hate Sogor. He is detestable in every sense of the word. I hope Dor kicks his hinder parts in to next week. Keep up the great work!
Holani stared at the wall. Her back was a mass of pain as the torturers began flaying her slowly in strips. Her teeth bit, and she tasted blood. She steeled herself not to scream. Yet when something burned into the wound she couldn’t help herself.
Breia moved slowly, the rhythm of the dance of death, even without a sword in hand was unhurried, casual to those that only watched. But every move she knew would bring death or salvation if she ever held a sword again. Forgive me Echana. My worst fears are realized, death will be mine soon enough, and I do not even have the means to properly pray, She thought. [i]Is my life worth the pain of the woman in the next cell?[/]
She had been trying to sleep when the screams began a short time ago. With her extraordinary hearing she could see the knives cutting flesh, feel it ripping free. There were taunting demands, telling her that the pain would stop if only briefly if she begged Breia to surrender.
Yet while she screamed, cried out in her anguish, the words they demanded never came.
So strong of will she is Breia thought. I know he will never let her go. Will kill her by centimeters if I do not submit. My death is ordained as is hers. Only the manner now remains. Do I have the strength of will to die so she might die a merciful death?
She had not told the woman of the coins she had in her pocket. Soo-ti taught how to throw any object with deadly accuracy. She could kill the first guard through the door, then charge them. No one would expect a blind woman to fight back. If she could lay her hand on a sword she would teach them master lessons in Mah-rehal, the ‘dance with eyes closed’ before they killed her.
But that would only be an option if she could send Holani on her way first.
The grating slid aside, and Darshan stuck his head up. “I never pictured me breaking into jail. Breaking out is more my style.”
“Not good at it were you.”
Darshan looked back into the hole, then climbed out. “So you know about that?”
“Behave your self than you should.” Dor stuck his head up. That way they are.”
“Right-o.” Darshan walked down the hall, freezing as he looked into one of the cells.
The Lortu were hominids with tightly curled fur standing about as tall as Darshan’s 1.75 meters. He knew without any closer examination that this being would never stand again. That was the least of his injuries. “What kind of monster does this to people?” He whispered in horror.
“Kind that his own superiority assumes.” Dor said. “Help him we cannot. Hurry we must .”
“I can open the cell, put him out of his misery at least.” Darshan protested.
“And what of hundreds more here?” Dor asked gently. “Every door behind is more horror. Days we do not have.”
Darshan shook his head, and followed. He refused every desire to look.
Sogor paced angrily. Something didn’t feel right. Something was out there, something that would end his reign if he wasn’t careful.
The pacing slowed. Some-
He spun, calling for his Ever Living Guard. The best warriors of his world. They charged toward the cells ten floors below.
The halls seemed endless. The design used every available space, halls formed it into separate boxes with dozens of cells on each stretch left and right, other halls every fifty meters. Pain and suffering cubed and neatly organized. Darshan considered what would happen if he flared the engines on the way out, vented half a ton of fuel as plasma. Would it reach up high enough to put all of these poor people out of their pain? or merely make it worse?
He heard something, and stopped. “What was that?”
“Torture done is. One we seek to save they do this to.”
Darshan felt something give inside him. He was moving fast, suddenly he was running. One cell ahead of him was open, and he heard a gruff laugh from within, a whine of someone in unspeakable pain.
He rounded the door, and even as he plunged forward his eyes recorded it all. The woman held against the wall with manacles, her back a bloody ruin. A face he saw only in profile tugging at his heart, two Lortu turning stupidly as he charged forward.
He slammed one against the wall, feeling bones snap, not caring if they were his or the enemies. The multitool snapped out, the other Lortu falling, blood geysering from his throat.
Then it arched back, the Lortu in front of him spasming as the multitool punched into his head so that the handle stuck out.
Darshan followed the body down, suddenly wanting to scream as he felt his dislocated shoulder. He knelt, wanting to vomit, wanting to scream in joy that he was still alive, and the others were dead. He gagged fighting the natural reaction.
“At least miss my legs if you can.” The woman gasped.
“We’re here to rescue you.” Darshan gritted out, standing. Her eye looked at him.
“Dislocated your shoulder?”
“How did you know?”
“I’ve had it done. My luck I have a klutz for a knight in shining armor. Next time maybe you should plan the operation better. If I‘m still alive I can give you a few pointers.” She winced as she laughed, gasping in pain. “I think maybe you should hurry. But that’s just me talking.”
Darshan reached down, and the multitool came out of the corpse’s head. He wiped it off on the dead man’s clothes, adjusted the tool option, then leaned up, wincing as overstressed tendons stretched to unlock the right manacle. The woman flinched as her arm dropped. He moved past her and started on the opposite manacle. The left arm dropped as well. He dropped to his knees, attacking the ankle cuffs.
She tried to laugh, wincing in pain, but humor was in her voice. “My fondest dream, to have a man at my feet on his knees.” She shook her head as the cuffs fell away. “Not as good as the fantasy.”
“Give me time, I grow on you.”
“I am not a tree, and you’re not moss.” She turned around, then caught his hanging arm. Before he could do anything She whipped it out, set her foot in his armpit, and pulled.
Darshan started to scream. then he stopped. He swung the arm experimenting. “You reset it!”
“Said it had been done to me.” She looked toward the door where Dor stood. “Whose the little friend?”
“Dor of Monastery of Jedi am.”
“Jedi?” She shook her head. “As if the situation isn’t bad enough!”
“Why do you say that?” Darshan asked.
“I left home because of one of them.” Holani said in her fury. “One minute my father loves me, the next every little thing they thought I did is laid out like a trial.”
“Holani name yours is?” Dor nodded. “Young one did arbitrate. Learned lies and accepted truth they were. Others followed and proved innocent you were.”
“So one of you condemns me another exonerates me!” She winced as she felt a laugh bubble up. “My luck runneth over.”
“Hey, you were on my list to be rescued, so give us some thanks, okay?” Darshan said. “Where’s the other one?”
Both Holani and Dor pointed to the wall. “In there. Go first this time I must.”
The door slid open, and Breia felt with that sense she had discovered. The half credit coin lay in her hand, 20 grams of metal, enough to crack a skull at this range. But the figure merely stood there. “You to rescue have we come.”
She laughed. “Right.”
Trust us you do not. Understand I do. Listen to Holani will you?”
Breia stood slowly. Holani came rushing in, and Breia hugged her. She felt the woman wince, and her hands could feel ragged tears in her skin.
“No time for that. Let’s get the hell out of here then we’ll both cry until our eyes dry up.”
They hurried down the hall. Suddenly Breia whirled, a coin flashing from her hand, and they stared at the soldier that staggered into the wall, blood pumping from the wound in his head as he collapsed. Before anyone could stop her, Breia ran back, snatching a sword and a pistol from his belt. She was grinning when she rejoined them, handing the gun to Holani.
Darshan reached the grate, and lowered Dor first. Then he handed down Breia, then Holani before following.
Dor motioned, stopping the others, and moved down to the grating they had merely jammed back in place. There was grumbling, and his eyes tightened. He moved back up to them.
“Guards there are below.” He whispered.
“I knew that might happen.” Darshan sighed. “People will forget their prejudice when someone screams loud enough at them.”
“Considered this I did not.”
“Good thing I did.” Darshan lifted his com link. “A1, emergency start. vent plasma.” He ducked, and everyone else did the same as there was a blast of light and heat from below, followed by screams. When the sound died, Dor moved carefully to the grate. The blast of heat had been sufficient to melt the weapons of the guards around the ship into puddles, and Dor leaped down past them. The mass of fecal matter had been turned into a crackling dust, and they coughed as they staggered across it. The ship, still sealed, sat in the middle of a lot of carbonized people. The ramp came down at Darshan’s command, and they ran aboard.
Breia spun on the ramp just as shots rang out, and Dor staggered. Three bullets whined into the darkness as she deflected them away. The firing stopped as the Guard stood stunned. Holani spun, her gun tracking, and she returned fire at the group that had been far enough back to escape immolation. “Get us out of here!” she screamed.
Darshan caught the little being, lugging him aboard. He dropped him in the mess hall, threw a med kit to Holani, and ran forward. He could hear bullets like a lethal hail slamming into the hull, and he slapped the controls, lifting the ship. He started to spin it, stopping when he realized that it was too long to fit. He jacked up the nose, dropping the tail, and the ship spun in place with centimeters to spare. Then he goosed the engine, the ship leaping forward as those behind them died in a massive fireball.
If someone had told Darshan that he would fly at high speed down a corridor this small, he would have told them they were insane. Yet flight was their only option, and the faster the better. They bulleted out of the tunnel as all of the waste dust in the air ignited. As the ship rose toward the heavens they missed the explosion that first lifted the building as if it were a toy, then leveled the pyramid.
They screamed out of atmosphere, the nose aimed at the Corellian hyper cannon. Alarms screamed at Darshan as he saw fighters, old L7 Tomcats that were obsolete on Coruscant, but deadly enough to kill an unarmed ship. One of them fired, and the ship staggered as the Nav-computer blew up.
Aft Breia despaired for the little being that had led her rescue. She couldn’t get the bleeding to stop. Dor’s eyes opened, and he looked around wildly. “Forward I must go.”
“We can’t move you, you’ll die!”
“Dead am I already. All will die if forward I do not go.”
Holani caught him up, staggering forward as the ship seemed to try to fly up it’s own butt. She collapsed into the copilot’s seat, bringing a grunt from the injured monk.
“Trust me you must, Darshan. Turn over to me navigation.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Unless pain you enjoy, do this.”
Darshan hissed, flicking the switches. “All yours!”
“Fly toward farthest cannon. Vector to home is there.”
Darshan shrugged. The com panel flashed and he slapped it. “Not now I’m kind of busy.”
“Dor, my old friend. We meet again.” A voice answered.
Darshan rolled the ship, a fighter coming up from behind dodged to avoid ramming. “Who ever you are this is a really bad time.”
“Sogor it is.” Dor husked. “Redemption you want my student?” His fingers flickered across the keyboard, eyes tightly shut.
“Don’t be naive. If only you knew the power I have gained since I left.”
“Since thrown out you were.” Dor snapped. He paused, then his fingers again began their desperate tapping.
“I will spare your lives if you return. That ship is worth more than the Echani slut and that failed spy.”
“This ship you will not have.” Dor said. “If my death is needed to stop you.”
“And theirs?” Sogor was amused. Darshan caught a motion, and saw one of the fighters paralleling him. “To fly without the stricture of the cannon. Will Echana be able to stop my next invasion?”
“Tell you a secret I will.” Dor answered. “Invasion, happen will not.” He hit a last button, then his fist came down on the red initiate button.
Sogor screamed as the ship leaped into hyper and away. He vented his spleen for a few seconds too long. As he spun to return, the mines around him detonated, turning his ship into shards that continued into deep space.
A chapter a day makes one's readers say "YAY!" :clap2:
Another enthralling chapter. I am very much enjoying this story.
One question though. What does "vented his spleen" mean? I thought a spleen was just a reservoir for blood.
Sorry, it's an old term meaning 'screaming and shouting'.
Lol, vented his spleen! I got it as soon as I read it. Great vocabulary Mach. Also another great chapter. I can't wait to see more, and more and more and more. Keep up the great work!
“Dor, come on, you can’t die!” Darshan screamed as he carried the being back to the mess deck. While they had been busy forward, Breia had gathered every scrap of medical equipment aboard. The body was set gently on the table, his cloak ripped open, and Darshan worked to save his life.
“Stop my son.” Dor whispered. He motioned to Breia. “Tell you all things I must. Blind one, see with your ears and heart you do. Will for me do something?”
“My people believe that a debt must outweigh all wants. Ask.”
“Travel to Ossus. Speak with masters of the order you must. Your skill great. Your heart pure. Aid them in learning, for those you meet will hear metal’s song.”
“How did you know...”
“Matters not, explanation no time for. Young girl. Listen to me will you?”
Holani leaned forward. “Choice you have. Home you can return.”
“I can’t. I have become worse than my father thought I was. I can never forgive myself.”
“Forget. Father redeems you if you ask. If home you will not go, speak with Darshan. Corellia use some one like you can. Knowledge of dark paths necessary in coming years. Accept you they will at his word.”
“I will think about it.”
“Honorable your last name is on Alderaan. Return to it you must. Evil you have done fades with time” The woman bit her lip, and nodded.
“Darshan, for your ears alone last is.” Darshan knelt, and Dor whispered.
Darshan leaned back. “You’re joking.”
“Teach you humor not my place. Humor is self evident. May the force be...” Dor leaned back. The table felt soft for some reason. He saw a lambent thread leading back to his home world, felt it touch another of his race. The monastery was not yet strong enough to stand without their aid. He wanted to go home, and felt that he would. He pushed himself to his feet, shrugged off the hands that held him down, and began to walk.
Darshan closed the sightless eyes. Holani was holding Breia, both women weeping. Darshan lifted the limp form, placing it in one of the bunks, then walked forward.
Koori tore his hair. He had sent messages down every trade route he knew, worked feverishly to try to figure where Darshan might have been taken. If only he had gone with him-
The communicator bleeped and he slapped it, “Don’t bother me!”
“Student Deralo, Han Calrissian has returned to the system, Darshan reports that there was a malfunction. The ship traveled from here to Lortu and back in seventeen days.”
“Seventeen days! Thats- wait a minute. Where the hell is Lortu?”
The press was there to greet them as the good ship Han Calrissian settled down on the tarmac. The hatch came down, and every voice died as two women came down the ramp, followed by Darshan. He cradled a body gently in his arms, walking slowly as the women spread out to show a united front.
Koori ran forward, then stopped as he saw the figure. “That’s the monk, Der or Dir-”
“Dor.” Darshan said. He looked down at the peaceful face. “He had a mission for the monastery, and hijacked the ship to complete it. We rescued these women from Lortu.”
“Where the hell is Lortu!” Koori almost screamed.
“Down past Kinyen on the Trade Spine.”
“But that’s-” Koori stared. “Half way across the galaxy! In just over two weeks?”
“Both ways.” Darshan pushed through the silent crowd. An ambulance was parked there just in case, and Darshan lay the body on the gurney. “Notify the Monastery of his death. Ask what they want to do with his remains.”
“No.” Breia walked forward, hand resting on the gurney. “I need transport. I will take his body home as he asked me to.”
“This is a citizen of Echana, kidnapped by the Lortuai.” Darshan told Koori. “and this-”
“I am Holani Organa.” Holani said. “My father is the younger brother of the Alderaan king.”
Darshan’s eyebrow crooked. “She had been captured too.” He looked at the waiting press beings. “Ladies and gentleman, I am hot, tired, and need about eight hours sleep before they debrief me. Will you allow me that before you start asking questions?” He held out a hand to each woman, leading them to a car. Koori followed, a terrier after a mastiff, jumping into the jump seat as the car roared off.
“Don’t you ever do that to me again!” He said.
“Oh, here.” Darshan pulled out the box of cookies. Koori held it to his chest as if it were a sacred icon, then opened it.
“Wait! My cookies!” He reached in taking the last cookie from the box.
“Friend, the next time you send me off to the back of beyond, make sure they put enough food for four in it, okay? We were down to cookies and tea by the time we landed.”
Darshan leaned back, looking at Holani. He remembered Dor’s last words.
[i]Home she will go only if you with her go. Support she will need, and loving attention, for belongs there she does not. Take care of her you should. Depends the future on you. Wife she will become. Descendants of you both shall free the Galaxy some day.[/]
The woman stood on the stone of the courtyard, her face turned up as if to gaze at the stars. Now she knew her destiny. The people of the temple needed one such as her. Dor had been correct, for a dozen in the Monasteries had already proven to be adept.
But there was so much more they needed to learn. More that she was uniquely qualified to teach. To teach them to use senses other than their eyes in a fight. To teach them to forge the weapons she could make. To teach them all the intricacies of the dance of death, and when to invoke it.
The stars were still there. Now, using some of what she had learned in her brief time here, she could feel the life of them. So many worlds, so many peoples. Good and bad. But now she knew she did not have to reach them herself to know satisfaction. Her students would.
Solo, Darshan: Corellian citizen. Pilot of the first ship using an integral hyper drive. His first flight is still shrouded in secrecy. The ship was supposed to travel to Brentaal, but instead traveled to Lortu, proving the capability of the system more thoroughly.
Solo took a sabbatical from his school work to escort Holani Organa to Alderaan. The woman’s parents, in line for the throne, were happy to see her, however the life of a court dilettante did not suit her. She asked Solo to escort her back to his home world.
On Corellia she first renounced all claim to the throne for herself and any children, then returned to work for the Corellian Navy in classified operations. All work she has done for them are still under seal and will remain there for a minimum of 100 standard years after her death. A year after they arrived, she married Darshan. As of this printing they have a boy named Koori and are expecting their second, a girl in the next year. They have already announced that this one will be named Breia.
Solo completed his college work, and talked his long time friend Koori Deralo into going into business together. They founded Corellian Engineering Corporation with Darshan as chief test pilot and Koori as the head of research and development. The first of their designs, the YT01 was a light freighter with a unique flat disc design allowing it maximum maneuverability. the YT01 was purchased by many planets needing small cargo vessels, and has been purchased by the navies of fifteen systems to date for use as customs patrol vessels. The design is easily converted to military use with the addition of blaster cannon on the dorsal and ventral faces, and there are hard points in the existing design to hold heavier cannon when they become available.
From: Encyclopedia Galactica: Second edition.
Sookor Bai Echana, Breia: Human female, Native of Echana.
Called the “Master Smith’ by the Echani, Breia Sookor Bai Echana is credited with the very rare ‘mother blades’ that were manufactured briefly on that planet.
Blinded at the age of five, she spent her life learning how to form steel, and the ‘mother blades’ she made for the Echana-Lortu war which have a monomolecular hand formed edge are highly prized to this day.
She is also the creator of the sword fighting style known as Mah-rehal, the ‘dance with eyes closed’ where the student is taught how to wield a blade, yet must do it with eyes covered. Few master this art, and until a few years ago she was the most efficient practitioner of the art.
This has changed due to circumstance. During the last year of the Echana-Lortu war, Breia was kidnapped by the Lortuai who hoped to gain the knowledge of the forming of mother blade. She was rescued by Darshan Solo, Holani Organa, and Padawan-teacher Dor of the Monastery of the Jedi. In their escape Padawan teacher Dor was killed. Sogor the conqueror attempted to bring down the hyper-drive ship Han Calrissian but died in the minefield surrounding the Corellian Hyper-cannon which was emplaced near his planet. His death and the accidental destruction of the Palace complex by what is now believed to be a dust explosion devastated the theocracy that had existed up until that time. The occupied planets of Duloc and Berodilo immediately revolted, and the insurgency goes on to this day.
In repayment of her debt to her rescuers, Breia traveled to the Monastery of the Jedi mother monastery on Ossus, where she joined the order. Her swords are now made only for members of the order, and other Jedi smiths have discovered her secret which is kept jealously guarded. They have also incorporated the training of Mah-rehal into their training regimen making them feared foes in combat.
Monastery, Jedi Of: While the editors assumed that nothing of consequence would he discovered abut the Jedi within a decade, the incorporation of Jedi blades as they have come to be called, and learning the skills of Mah-rehal , the ‘dance with eyes closed’ has made them a force to be reckoned with. The opening of a new monastery on Corellia last year was witnessed by Darshan and Holani Solo this last year along with their two children Koori aged two, and Breia, five months old.
Padawan Teacher Breia Sookor Bai Echana was on hand to commemorate the Monastery, and it is believed that she will become Master of this newest Monastery.
At that time, she gifted the planet of Corellia with an Echani ritual brand named Freedom from Tyranny which was donated to the Galactic Museum that is being built. Her gifting speech thanked both Darshan and Holani Solo for their efforts in her rescue. A small mishap occurred when Breia tripped at the opening ceremony, causing the glass she held full of Corellian Summer wine to spill down the dress of Holani Solo ruining it. While known for her temper, Holani began to laugh, and went the entire day with her stained dress as if it were a badge of honor.
In return, Darshan Solo gifted the order with a brand new YT07 class light freighter which he named after the fastest native bird of Echana, the newly verified Millennium Falcon...
From: Encyclopedia Galactica: Third edition
Falcon, Millennium: Bird native to planet Echana.
Size: Seven meters in length, wingspan fifteen meters. Mass, 60 kilos full grown.
Population: Assumed to be less than 10,000 planet wide.
The name was given to this rare bird because of it’s long maturation cycle. The Millennium Falcon has a lifespan which is over a thousand years. They are not often seen except for at a distance and for a long time have been considered only the fantasy of those that have reported seeing them. For ninety odd years they have been considered an omen of good luck. Seeing one is considered a blessing of Echana herself. Viewing one more than once, which happens so rarely that only fifty of the inhabitants can truthfully claim it, is proof of true favor and the person is considered lucky from that point on
They are the fastest known bird in the galaxy achieving 600 kilometers per hour in level flight, and capable of Mach two in a hunting dive. They have easily outrun or avoid civilian air cars, and because of this capability, only long distance photos which had been assumed to be fakes have been taken until two years ago when an adult millennium falcon was accidentally killed in a mid air collision with a military fighter near the village of Brahival on the newly settled second continent. They were later found to live in the tallest mountain range on the planet, the Spinar Range which reaches to 11 kilometers in altitude.
Most knowledge of their life cycle is conjecture, however examination of the bones of the dead animal was able to ascertain the length of their lifespan.
Their diet consists of other much smaller birds, fish, and animals massing less than ten kilos since their unique honeycomb structured bones while strong will not carry much additional weight. They can store food for several weeks if need be and because of their slow metabolism are believed to eat only once a week.
Their size would be an impediment in the lowlands, because a millennium falcon can only gain enough speed for take off by either dropping from a height, or a run of several hundred meters. It has been postulated that if a millennium falcon were fenced in it would be unable to gain enough speed for launch.
Upon discovery, the government in a rare move passed a law forbidding any attempts to capture or kill the animals, and attempts to take eggs either for study, breeding or off planet for sale have been dealt with severely.
Last year a geosynchronous satellite was emplaced, and thousand unsuspected nests have been discovered. Ornithologists who study the birds are restricted from approaching within one kilometer of a known nest and have been forcibly evicted from blinds that approach or are found to be within that limit of any new nest discovered. Autopsies are allowed only on birds that have died of natural causes, and except for the initial victim of the collision, there are no displays of the animal anywhere in the galaxy.
They live exclusively in the recently surveyed Spinar mountains of the planet Echana, and nest high in these forbidding massifs. Little is known about their mating and life cycles because they are shy creatures and shun contact.
From: Encyclopedia Galactica: Third edition
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