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Old 03-23-2006, 03:01 PM   #49
Local curmudgeon
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
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The planet

The jungles stank, there was no other way to describe it. The managing officer of the Tokara Company Caral Santee hissed as the stench raced into his opening shuttle. Meera was not turning out to be a plum assignment. He stormed through the deadfall, passing the stumps of trees that had been harvested to clear the site of the new super hotel that had been planned. Off in the distance, the tallest waterfall so far in the galaxy thundered.

Closer was his target, the huddle of earth movers and excavators that should have been clearing the second hundred hectare area where the landing fields would be placed. The crew were around their huge machines, and too many of the side panels were open for the MO to feel comfortable. The planted saplings that surrounded the machines was a dead give away to what had happened.

Cor Faslan, Construction boss saw his superior coming, and wiped his hands on a rag. This was the fifth time in as many days that the damn natives had disabled the equipment. The building schedule was shot, probably for good this time.

“Report.” Santee demanded.

“They ripped out the molycircs along with the initiator plugs this time.” Cor reported. Santee glared into the opened panel before him.

The machines were idiot simple. After all with the labor they hired it had to be. Faslan was an architect, and smart, but the quality of his crew plummeted when you got below the shift foremen. He could see where the precious molecular circuitry runs had been ripped out, the entire runs missing. Even with the replacement of the initiator plugs the damn things were still disabled. Without molycircs the things were lumps of metal that had to be hand controlled rather than run by the sophisticated computer interfaces.

“How long to get back in operation?”

Faslan stared at him as if he’d just heard a dog talk. “Boss, we don’t have enough molycircs in stock to repair this! We have enough to get one and only one machine in operation. And that is still enroute.” He waved toward the coastal base they had set up three years before. “Figure another hour before it gets here, two more to install and test. We’re talking tomorrow. Assuming the bastards don’t do it again tonight.”

Santee wanted to scream, but the Construction boss was right. Molycircs didn’t break down, at least not in less than a century or more of constant use. In the construction equipment it should outlive every member of the crew, this job, and maybe thirty more.

“What did they do with the molycircs? Eat them?”

The construction boss walked around the machine, and as he walked pointed at the ground. The precious filigree of circuitry, all thirty meters of it had been shredded into ten centimeter lengths. Similar trails ran from the other vehicles, headed for the forest. Santee wanted to scream again. A molycirc bundle was built on the nanotech level, and there was no way to replace them except contact the company. Hell, even if he had the factory here it would be quicker to order it from home.

“All right, the gloves come off.” He snarled. “Clear these trees out of the construction area. By hand if necessary. Second, pick the smartest guys you have and arm them. I want around the clock security on this site until the hotel is completed. Get more men from the base if you have to.

“I’m contacting the company. We need replacement molycircs and a full scale security/combat team to get this back on the road.”

He sighed. “Knowing the company, my successor will handle it from there.”

He trudged back to the shuttle. All in all it wasn't really that bad a planet. He would have liked to have been here. To see the hotel open, to welcome the first of millions of guests. It was not to be.

The workman shifted his shovel, digging at the roots of the tree. It shifted, trying to move away from him, but after a few weeks of dealing with these damn trees, that didn’t bother you anymore. He finished uprooting it, then looked around. No one was watching him so he lifted it out of the ground, setting it on it’s roots. For a moment it sat there apprising itself of situation, then the roots began a rippling motion, moving the tree into the edge of the forest.

When the shift ended, the workman boarded the shuttle back to the base. He wasn't considered very bright, and the shovel he had wielded all day was about the most complex tool he was expected to operate. He picked up his meal chit, and went to dinner.

One of the supply ships was in, and the crew was at a group of tables. He looked, and spotted the contact. She was a pretty little thing 1.5 meters tall, long hair dyed green, which was the current thing on Coruscant, and her fingers were drumming on the table in tune to the music she was listening to on her headset.

Of course, if you knew the old tapper code, what she was beating out was;
TO ME...TO ME...TO ME...

He walked over, setting his tray down. “Mind if I join you?” He asked.

“Jet off, Mig!” One of the men at the table said. Mig. Migrant/indigent. The people who worked shovels while others flew the stars. He looked away, flushing.

He started to stand, but a gentle hand on his wrist stopped him. The girl was looking up, smiling. “No, stay. The planet is beautiful, but it’s so, untamed. It‘s nice to see something that isn‘t covered with moss, you know?” The password was so smooth. He upped her chances of being a professional by several percent.

“Cali you want to slum, why not pick up one of the shuttle jockeys?” The first man snarled. “Why pick up someone with a size three head and a size 20 neck?”

The workman slowly settled down. “Untamed is right. But that’s what the company is here for, right?” Her eyebrow, unnoticed by her associates, lifted a trifle. She nodded. Sign and counter sign.

“So tell me, what do you do?” She asked with a winded eyed innocence that was as well faked as his stupidity. He spun a tale of clearing brush away, and hand grading the sites as the machines did all the real work. He had learned to spin such boring tales for hours from those he worked with. After all, there are only so many ways to describe operating an idiot stick regardless of where.

Her eyes glazed after about ten minutes, and he knew her friends had tuned him out after the first five. But he scanned around anyway. The security camera for the mess hall was directly at his back, and no one was watching him. He reached under the table, and her hand took the offered cylinder. He pulled back, then as the table mates began to leave in disgust, he stopped talking.

“Sorry, ma’am. I have early shift tomorrow. Hope to see you again.”

“No such luck. We’re inbound for home.”

“Well maybe you can get me something?”

“I can try to have something sent for you if I can contact the next supply ship bound here.”

“Some Pipalli. The Echana kind if possible.”

Her eyes stayed wide but the tip of her mouth flinched. The code meant some serious trouble coming down, and the need for an urgent response. “I will find a way if at all possible.”

“Thanks, ma’am.” He stood, and walked to the refuse slot, dropping tray and scraps into it.

Professor Harlan Coor, Professor of Ecology at the University of Coruscant stretched his arms, thanking the body builder father that had taught him that big arms didn’t mean a small head, and went to the barracks.

'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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