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Old 03-31-2006, 06:58 PM   #61
machievelli
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Party

“Oh this is rich.”

“What Master?” Sanji asked. Breia held up her brail pad. He took it, reset it to standard, and read the document. “A party?”

“Yes.” Breia leaned back, staring at the overhead. “Tokara company has extended an invitation to the crew of Millennium Falcon, The officers of the frigate Duroc, and the party from the university to a farewell dinner aboard Tokara Requiem. Dress is mess dress and uniforms for officers, formal for all others.”

Sanji tapped the pad on his chest, an annoying habit but Breia let it slide. “Odd. You and the council seem to think that Tokara is up to something, yet they invite us to their ship for a party. I wonder why?”

“Can you think of a better way to have us thinking what jolly people they are?” Breia asked. “Sanji, what do you see when you look at Daystrom. Not with your eyes, but with your senses?”

He paused. “He is a duplicitous man who thinks of himself and the company in that order.” He paused, considering. “He doesn’t seem to notice me, but you he does not like at all.”

“How perceptive. Now, assuming he has some deep plot in mind, why ask us over there?”

Sanji shrugged. “You must be right, Master. He is hoping to keep you from seeing what it is.”

“So I will accept, with regrets for you.”

“For me? Why?”

She shook her head. “Sanji, you can make people forget you are there, a usable skill and one all of the Monks will wish to learn if it can be taught. I wish you to... Exercise that ability. We need to know what they might be hiding aboard that ship.”

“But isn’t that... Illegal?”

“Sanji, I have explained to you before that it is only illegal if you intend to steal. Are you feeling acquisitive again?”

He flushed, with his skin color that meant he turned a violet color. “Will you ever let me forget that?”

“Why student, every new member of the order has their... foibles.” She laughed. “When I first entered the order the old sword master thought it was funny to move the furniture in every room when I left a building. So I... dealt with it.”

“How, Master?”

“I rigged the gravity generator in my rooms so that if anything shifted on the floor that I had tagged, it would shift from roof to floor and back once per second at standard gravity for thirty seconds.”

Sanji pictured it. One instant you are moving something, the next, the floor has become the ceiling. Like suddenly finding out you are standing upside down. You would fly up, taking perhaps half a second to impact the ceiling, and an instant later slam into the floor only to hit the ceiling a second later... He snickered. “I can see it.”

“See it! He felt it for a week.” She laughed. “Considering what I did to you, I think that was a bit much, so I toned it down.”

He flushed. It had been a dare from the other students. Just go in her rooms and steal something, then bring it back. He had succeeded, walking by her without being noticed. The object he had chosen was a small picture of her sister Revana. But when he had picked it up, it began speaking to him.

Loudly.

Try, the equivalent of a full scale popular music concert at two paces.

Breia had merely sat there unmoved as he had put back his trophy and slunk out. The next week he had been assigned as her pilot and student at her request.

“I am not telling you to do this. I am asking if you can.”

“Of course I can.” Sanji answered.
“Then please do so. Oh, and send in the boys. I think I have something right up their alley.”

*****
The ballroom looked like it belonged in an expensive home. Rare woods from a dozen planets paneled the bulkheads. A chandelier hung ten meters in the air over the tables lined along the bulkheads. The buffet line held over twenty meat courses alone. Servants, not droids stood behind the tables. A show of extravagance that paled beside the clothing of the dozen or so officers of the ship herself.

Tokara had spared no expense on dress uniforms for their officers. Rich silk in the company green and gold colors with stripes in the color of their departments. Captain Werrol Magtyar looked them over with a critical eye. He was a tall heavily built man with a shock of short black hair and green eyes that bored through you. He had started on one of the pirate chasers, the old Tokara Fist, and his new command was supposed to be even more interesting.

A pity the company had to act as if it were a display piece.

There was a gong, and the first of their guests began to arrive. The students from the university.

“All right men. Just remember best behavior.” He whispered. “So help me the first one of you that tries to get it stuck in will deal with me afterward, clear?” The men nodded.

Magtyar turned around, and his voice oozed charm as he approached the students. He recognized Daysah Shani from his briefing. “Welcome aboard. You must be Ms Shani.”

“That is Professor.” She replied. Something about the man didn’t fit. His uniform was sleek and high class, but the man in it... “And you are?”

“Captain Magtyar.” He motioned. “May I present my officers?”

He introduced her around. The others had broken up to one officer per student, pointing out the fixtures on the newest luxury line of the Tokara fleet. There was another gong, and Magtyar looked toward the open hatch. Antilles and his crew were coming in, followed by...

His eyes tightened. One of those damn Jedi Monks. Behind her in flanking positions were two young men in... He blinked. Mandalorian Kama with weapons belts. “Excuse me, Professor, I am after all the host.”

Daysah watched him walk away, rubbing her hands on her sleeves. The captain had struck her as a cold man better suited to a pirate’s life than a luxury liner command.

“Someone is coming toward us.” Anak said, scanning the crowd. “Large man, looks like a brawler.”

“Yes, I can feel him.” Breia sensed a dark shot cloud approaching. She stopped as it cut between her and the buffet.

“You must be Padawan Breia.” The voice was smooth and melodious. So why did she feel her hackles rise?

“Guilty.” Breia answered She stuck out her hand as if to shake, but it was off to the man’s right a bit. He smoothly moved to intercept it, his large hand almost swallowing hers.

“Welcome aboard my ship. Would you like something to drink Padawan?”

“Not yet.” She shook hands with him, then placed both on her staff. “I was thinking about sitting down for a while. Sev, guide me to the nearest chairs, please.”

Sev stepped forward, extending an arm. Breia reached out, feeling along it hesitantly, then caught him at the elbow. Sev led her to a table, and guided her to a chair. After watching her walk through crowds with no problems, he knew she was merely giving this aruetti a show. “Shall I get you something?” He asked solicitously. “You know you get grumpy when you haven’t eaten.”

She grimaced. “Yes, please.” When we get back to the ship, you and I will have a little talk, boy.

Anak stood behind her as Sev marched across to the buffet line. “The Admiral is headed our way.”

“Anak, I may be blind, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sense things.”

“Padawan.”

“Admiral.” She waved toward the crowd that had gathered. “What do you think?”

“Too rich for my blood. From what I hear the first class cabins will cost my monthly salary for a one way trip.”

“I meant the crew.”

He looked back toward them. “Magtyar I have heard about. Made his name in one of their armed auxiliaries. Considered a good man in a fight.”

“Then why send him here?” Breia asked. She took the plate Sev had brought. It was loaded down 20 centimeters thick with meat. He’s just trying to harden every one of my arteries isn’t he? She drew a small eating knife, slicing the meat swiftly into bite sized chunks, and speared one.

“I have no idea. Tokara has a new pirate chaser the Tokara Saber. I would have expected him to get her instead of this luxury barge.”

Breia nodded. Something didn’t quite fit. She turned her head. “Admiral, two men have just entered. Would you describe them for me?”

“Two more of Tokara’s finest. Vice President Suli Corona and his nephew Dasa Sunrider.” He had an eye for detail. The men were something she could almost see with the eyes she no longer had when he was done. Her face turned away, but she followed them through the crowd with that extra sense the Force gave her.

Ah. So that is what it was...

*****

Daysah backed farther into the corner to escape the first officer. She didn’t know where Tokara had gotten this crew, but the nicest man in the group was actually the captain, and he terrified her.

It wasn’t that they were unpolished or unintelligent. But they had a level of violence in their eyes she had only seen in rabid animals. This man for instance. Nemo Pahner. Smooth, very efficient she could tell. Yet when he looked her over, she wondered if he was going to... well, she feared for her virtue.

“Lieutenant, allow me to break in.”

The officer looked up, then snapped to attention. “Of course, sir.”

Daysah looked up. The man was thin, hair lay in layered perfection on his head, and laughing green eyes met hers. The suit was worth more than she made in a year, and the single ring he wore would have cost her a decade of work. Behind him was a smaller man nearer to her age. The hair was blonde instead of black, the eyes blue. But the younger man looked like a copy of the elder.

“I am Suli Corona, Vice president of shipping for the Company. This is my nephew Dasa Sunrider, my assistant.” He looked at the lieutenant, and something cold flashed in his eyes. “My apologies. We had to find a crew for the ship in a hurry, so we took the entire crew from one of our ships under repair. A pirate chaser. Captain Magtyar is excellent in that role, but will not command the ship when it is in service. For a milk run from here to Meera he is adequate.” He looked to the first officer again. “Lieutenant, go mingle. And try not to terrify our guests.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You are Professor Daysah Shani of the Coruscant University anthropology department. I do so love to study people. It helps with my job. May I?” He motioned toward the couch beside her.

*****

“Very interesting.” Breia murmured. “Corona and Sunrider busy with Professor Shani. That means...” She turned her head. The cloud of repressed fury that was Magtyar was headed for her table.

“Padawan, Admiral. May I join you?”

“Of course, Captain.“ Breia waved idly for a seat. Since she used the arm away from the table, she seemed to be motioning for him to sit somewhere else. He sat, and she returned to her meal. “The stuffed roasted Nerf is excellent. I will have to ask for your recipe.”

Magtyar laughed. “Don’t ask me, Padawan. If it isn’t moving when I start eating, it’s good enough. I’ll have the chef make up a card for you.”

She sensed a lightening of his mood. “My thanks. You served on armed ships before this I am told.”

The mood darkened. “Yeah. Six years working my way up on some of the first armed ships. Five years in command of Tokara Fist, then...” He waved around. “This barge.”

“I would have expected them to give you the newest ship. the Saber if I recall?”

“You and me both, Padawan.” His mood darkened again. “When you’ve spent your entire life working to one goal, being handed this gilded box was a slap in the face.”

“I understand.” She said. “After a decade and a half as a blacksmith, I got this.” She waved at her robes. “With little on the job training.”

His mood lightened a little at that. “I am sorry I have tried to bite your ear off, Padawan.”

“I get that a lot.” She admitted. “So, what can you tell me about this planet Meera?”

“Not much to tell you the truth. The Company found it a few years ago. They seem to think a paradise world is perfect for hotels and resorts. I didn’t even hear of it until about four days ago when I was sent over to command the ship.”

“Perhaps there are survey reports I can read?”

“Be my guest.” He snapped a finger, and Pahner came over. “Nemo, get the full survey readout for Meera, and give it to the Padawan.” As the officer walked off her turned back to his guest. “To men like me a planet is a destination or a target that needs defending. Not within our job description.”

“Is your ship armed?”

“Yeah, but not that heavily. The refit included two missile launchers a heavy projectile cannon and five anti shuttle chain guns. Enough to deter a pirate. In something this size that’s like the eating knife you’re using.”

She nodded. Over near the bar, she heard singing. “Oh dear. I hope that is only the Mando singing.” As she said it there was the slamming bang of fists hitting armor.

“Taung-sa-rang-broka!
A-rueti seka-art!”


“Why?” Magtyar asked. Three of his men had joined in, slapping their chests and thighs as they tried to sing along. Suddenly the two Mandalorian boys leaped and spun in place. Anak’s fists pounded out the rhythm on Sev’s back plate. unfortunately Sev’s fist punched the unaware lieutenant off his feet.

“Dha-Werda-Verda-a’den-tratu!
A-rue-tii-se-ka-dosii-adu!”


Again the boys leaped and spun, now facing the other way. Sev’s fists beat out the rhythm on the smaller boy’s back, while Anak punched another man on his side.

“Captain, I think we had better get over there.” Breia stood, and walked toward the soon to be confrontation. The captain hurried after the suddenly adept Padawan.

“Duum-mo-tir-ca-tra-nau-tracinya!
Gra-tua-cuun-hett-su-dralshy’a”


The first lieutenant, blood spraying from his mouth leaped to his feet, just in time to get punched again. Before he could rise again Breia’s stick stopped him.

“[i]k’uur![i/]” She snapped. The boy’s faltered, then stopped, looking at her confused. “Why did you strike those men?” She demanded.

“Permission to speak.” Anak said.

“Granted.”

They were talking with us about Mando customs. Sev told them about Dha Werda, and they wanted to see it. When we started the chant and began the rhythm they stood too close.”

Breia looked down, hiding her laugh with a cough. She blistered the air for a full minute in Mando‘a. By the time she was done both looked ashamed. Then she turned to Magtyar. “I must apologize for my young warriors. They forget that most people do not have their reflexes. Boys, if you wish to show them the Dha Werda, I suggest we use a couple of empty tables they can waste.”

Magtyar had two tables cleared, and the two boys danced again, this time to completion. It was grueling even for the observers.

The evening wound down, and Breia finally left with her charges. “Sev, I told you to create a diversion. But did you have to hit the first officer?” She asked as they entered the lift.”

The young man looked at her placidly. “It was either that or something more, lethal.”

She shook her head, then put her arms around their necks. “Boys, we need to talk about your style.”


'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...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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