Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
Current Game: Dungeonseige series
Sanji had not even known he had a special ability when he was younger. Sure he could duck a fight or his parents when they came looking to punish him, but every child has those days when everything goes right. He merely thought he was lucky.
But that had changed when his parents died in a transport accident when he was ten. Left alone, the boy had run the streets, stealing what he needed to live. The Constables had come looking for him. The Constables on Triseki had been ruthless especially when the offender was not human.
He had been trapped in an old abandoned house and had hidden in a closet. If he were lucky, they would only send him off to one of the asteroid mines. If not they would beat him to a bloody pulp then send him to a mine. Or kill him depending on their mood.
He had heard them coming closer, smashing doors, occasionally blasting a closet rather than open it. Their mood obviously was not conducive to being taken prisoner.
I am not here. He thought. I slipped out some other way, I’m a block away at least running like the hounds of all of the hells are after me.
The door opened, and he stifled his scream by stuffing his hand in his mouth, biting down hard enough to draw blood. The man looked huge, the bore of his rifle the size of a tram tunnel. The man stepped in, looked around, then stepped back out.
“The little crapper must have gotten out of the building somehow.”
“How?” another officer asked. He stepped over, looking idly into the closet, then shrugged. “We had the place surrounded.”
“Don’t ask me. I just work here.” The first constable slung his rifle, lighting a smoke-stick. “If he’s smart he’ll run and never come back. And I was so looking forward to shooting him when he tried to escape.”
“Unit 7; fight at Baleka Cantina.” his com burped.
The officer took a leisurely drag on his smoke before touching the key on his wrist. “Unit 7 responding.” He slammed the closet door hard enough to smash the lock, and Sanji stared at the door in amazement as he heard them walk away.
From that day forward, Sanji had become the premier sneak thief of the planet. He had found that some people could see him when he was concentrating on being unseen, but that person was rare. By the simple expedient of casing his robberies first, making himself unseen then walking around and gauging reactions, he was never caught.
Until that day three years ago.
He had been casing the docks. There was supposed to be a shipment of medical supplies, and among them were a lot of drugs the poorer people couldn’t afford. He had walked through the dock area unseen, and had found the warehouse where the shipment was supposed to be stored. The only person near by that might have seen him was an old human in some kind of robes, and he didn’t pay any attention to him.
A few hours later, he had slipped in with the largest bag he could find. He had gone through the shipment, grabbing out the supplies he had earmarked. Enough to keep four or five dozen people in health. It had gone great until he had been ready to leave. Then something had slapped his foot tripping him.
He’d rolled over, looking at a big mother sword, and the robed guy holding it.
“Why are you stealing, boy?” The man asked calmly. “Didn’t your family teach you better?”
Sanji had glared up at him, a thirteen year old tough that wasn’t taking crap any more. “If they’d actually let some of us have medicine, I would have let the slags keep it!” He growled. “And my parents taught me pretty well before they died!”
The man stood there, then turned the blade of his sword so the flat was up. “Lay your hand on the sword. Swear to me by the steel you touch that all you say is the truth.”
Slowly, Sanji’s hand came up, and his palm rested on the sword. He wanted to grab at it, but some instinct told him that was a bad idea. “I swear.”
“And if you could take more?”
“Hey, this will take care of a few dozen, but there are thousands of us that need but can’t buy because of our race.”
The man considered, then with a fluid motion he sheathed the blade. His hand reached down, and he helped Sanji to his feet. “Then we had better make sure to help everyone.”
To Sanji’s amazement, the man had led him toward the Planetary controllers office. “This skill you have, does it work with everyone?”
“No.” Sanji admitted. “After all you saw me.”
“No, I felt your presence. I asked because we can help everyone if you can merely walk in there,” He motioned toward the building, “And you can get into the office of the Health department.”
“Are you crazy?”
“My friend, with a little help on your clothing sense, we can do this.”
“But why do you care?”
The old man looked at him for a long time. “I am a monk of the Jedi order sent to negotiate for the Galactic Trade Authority. when I arrived, I called up the records of the ships of the past week and found a lot of Ridastinal was being sent here.” At the boy’s blank expression the monk took pity. “When used on say a Hutt or your own Twi-lek species, Ridastinal is medicinal. With the Hutt it is a contraceptive, with the Twi-lek it lowers your blood pressure, very necessary when your species has certain heart conditions.
“However on humans, it has an hallucinogenic affect and is highly addictive. This planet has bought enough Ridastinal for a population of 40% Twi-lek. But the Twi-lek population here is less than 5%.” Still there was incomprehension. He sighed. “How can you be so clever and so dense at the same time? Since as you say the aliens are not getting medicines they needs, someone is diverting it. Someone in the Health Ministry is buying it for resale. Either out system or as drug dealers. I am here to stop them.”
“So what do you need with me?”
“As I said. Just get into the Health Ministry, and put this on a computer.” The old man flashed a disc.
Two days later, Sanji was ready. The old man had bought him some nice clothes and coached him ruthlessly.
“This isn’t going to work.” Sanji said following the old man up the steps.
“Some of them are going to see me no matter what I do!”
“Ah, but what will they see?” He stopped, turning to face the boy. “Before they would see a street urchin, obviously up to no good. But now? They see a young boy in off world clothes, obviously the son of a rich off planet merchant. Whatever they may think of their own alien immigrants, they will hesitate to assault you. After all, they are trying to join the Galactic Trade Authority. It would be hard to convince that authority when all of the peoples they oppress are members in good standing. They might see you, they might even stop you, but they will be polite about it.
“So do this ‘now you see me now you don’t’ trick of yours, and let’s continue.”
“I’ve been ‘doing’ it as you say, since we got into the taxi at your hotel.”
The old man grimaced. “So everyone who has walked by thinks I’m some senile old monk talking to myself or my imaginary friend. Just wonderful.” He smiled ruefully. “But that is also an advantage.”
They entered the building, and Sanji immediately moved to the right toward the lifts. The old man went up to the security kiosk, asking for directions.
The biggest problem with being functionally invisible was that if people don’t see you, they don’t avoid you. Sanji had to leap out of the way as a human matron almost large enough to be mistaken for a Hutt stormed past. The second biggest problem was doors. You can’t very well open them without being noticed.
However lifts were easy unless they were crowded. He palmed the button and waited. A lift opened, and he allowed the half dozen or so humans waiting to enter, taking the second lift that came instead. When it opened on the seventh floor, he merely concentrated, and at the same time strode down the hall. Pretend you’re the biggest meanest gangster on the street. you own that hall. If someone talks to you, keep it in mind. The briefing he had gotten echoed. In his pocket he had both the disc he had been given, and a pass that said he was a member of the GTA entourage.
A woman stood, carrying her cup toward the carafe, and he slid into her seat, slipping the disc into the reader. He punched the button, and as it ran he stood. The woman was staring at him.
“What are you doing there?”
when in doubt, remember you’re a kid. whining at your age is not merely acceptable, expected in small quantities.
Sanji imediately remembered a six year old human he‘d seen on the street, and put that look on his face. The woman’s irritation faltered. “I was just tired. I’m with the group from the GTA, and I got turned around and tired.” He put the whiny edge in his voice. “Do you know where I’m supposed to be?”
“Oh get away from my desk.” She sat, thumbing her com unit. “This is Gerda over in Med-records. Could you send a security guard down please? We have a youngster who says he’s with the Trade Authority party down here.”
“Right away.” a deep voice replied.
A guard stepped out of the lift, and stalked over. “ID.” He snapped. One look at the ID caused him to motion politely. “If you will follow me, sir?”
Sanji concentrated instead on being the petulant little boy as they rose to the 18th floor. The monk merely nodded, motioning toward a seat. Just as the negotiations resumed suddenly every transmitter station including the dedicated military and transit ones began listing the names of ships and people that had brought drugs, sold them, and especially diverted them. It took less than four hours before a dozen member of the Central Committee, including the Controller were being arrested.
The negotiations continued afterward, were completed satisfactorily and the monk left. followed by his young protégé. Sanji followed him off the planet, and never looked back.
For his disguise this time, Sanji was using a simple key-pad. He concentrated on being unseen, but in the part of his mind trained by the order he added. Don’t mind me. I’m just that twerp from inventory control you’ve seen a dozen times trying to find that missing case of whatever.
The disguise and his own innate abilities had gotten him just about everywhere. But the last section, an area large enough to hold a thousand men or more had been sealed, and he didn’t have any access codes. He looked at the pad as he turned into yet another storage hold.
Odd. All of the cargo holds for passenger luggage and ’steerage’ berths are sealed. But there is no reason for it in the log or the manifest. Construction crews are supposed to be finishing up the fitting out, but there are no construction men on the crew or in their quarters. No beds for that matter. No beds in steerage yet according to the manifest.
He walked back to the landing bay, and was back aboard well before Breia returned to the ship.
The woman nodded at him, taking a seat at the mess table, opening her own pad. “Get us out of here, Sanji.” She looked toward the two Mando boys. “Planted as requested?”
“One on the Chief engineer another on the First officer.” Anak said.
“One on the Captain when I jostled him before we finished Dha Werda Sev reported.
“And I placed six on the table to place themselves.” Breia said. “Well done. “Now, let us see what we will see.” She touched the button, and scanned.
Back when men still used wire for listening, they would cut into communications line to plant listening device. Later they made specific units that they called ‘bugs’.
The modern equivalent actually looked like small bugs, less than a centimeter in length. They ran on six small legs, and would implant themselves if it was at all possible.
Seven of the screens showed movement. Six were scurrying across floors toward their targets. The other was on the Captain’s sleeve as he marched toward the bridge. The other three were riding on clothes of men who at present were at rest.
As they watched, one ran under a foot, then was riding along with it. Then it moved surreptitiously around the edge, catching a pants leg. It scurried upward, catching a cloak, and climbed even higher.
“Excellent.” Breia mused. “Either Corona or Sunrider has one.” She checked the others. “No, that’s Sunrider with Professor Shani.” Two of the bugs were scurrying toward the pair.
“So what do you think?” Sunrider waved at the grand decor.
“Too rich for my blood.” Shani said wistfully. “For a girl from the sticks, this is a bit much.”
“Ah, but such opulence grows on you. After a while, you only notice when it’s not there.” Sunrider said. “Come, I will give you a guided tour.” The bugs made a final dash, one running up Sunrider’s pants leg. The other attached itself to the professor’s shoe.
“Not bad, eight of nine.”
“Where’s the last one?” Anak asked.
Breia keyed in the last unit and chuckled. While programming the bugs to act like real insects, glitches occurred. One such glitch was that sometimes the camouflage programming overrode the device’s tiny little mind. One of the bugs had decided it was hungry, and climbed onto the buffet table. After biting into some cheese, it had fallen into a bowl of gravy, and was sinking rapidly. She sent the self destruct, and it shut down, already dissolving.
“All right, we record now, and play it back when we’re safe in the Duroc’s hold.”
Daysah was stunned by the sheer opulence around her. The ship was almost 500 meters long, three hundred tall deep, and four hundred wide. Almost 60 million cubic meters! In a warship that would be enough weapons to devastate any attacker. The Duroc was 200 meters shorter alone, and considered huge.
In a cargo vessel it was large enough to carry a full colonial cargo load for fifty thousand people. Or to carry that many people to a new colony.
Instead it was designed for a mere 4,000 passengers and 8,000 crew.
There were four decks that could only be defined as one massive shopping mall in her belly. Four hundred stores selling everything from candy for the children to gowns that cost more than her annual salary.
After seeing ballrooms larger than her lecture hall, a swimming pool large enough to be considered a small lake, and every other thing they had decided to put inside this huge ship, she was almost overwhelmed.
“-That is the only branch of the Bank Of Coruscant not on a planet.” Dasa Sunrider was saying. Without his uncle standing there, the young man was actually quite personable. Though he did come across as a commentator for Lifestyles of the Embarrassingly Rich.
He wound down, then smiled wistfully. “I’m probably boring you.”
“No. It’s just that I never enjoyed looking at something I can’t have.” She waved at the vaulted ceiling and the shops above and below them. “That’s all well and good, but to me it’s what I can never have.”
“Don’t be so sure.” He smiled shyly. She started to ask him what he meant when there was a chime from his com unit. “Sunrider here.”
“Dasa, we have business to discuss.” Corona’s voice sounded like he was standing right there.
“On the way, sir.” He switched off, then reached out taking her hand. “There will be several days when we are at Meera when he won’t be looking over our shoulder. May I ask you over for dinner one evening at least?”
“I’d like that.” She replied. He tapped an annunciator plate, and a ship’s crewman arrived. “Escort the lady to the boat bay, please.”
“Why was he talking like that?” Sev asked as they watched through the lens on Sunrider’s attendant bug.
“He was trying to seduce her.” Breia sensed the boy’s confusion. “A mating ritual.”
“Ah.” Sev nodded as if it explained it all. “We don’t do that at home.”
“Obviously.” Breia replied coolly. “What do your people do?”
“Well you don’t learn about sex beyond basic hygiene until you’re thirteen or fourteen.” He replied. “Everyone goes through the military training first, you see. You can’t be thinking about what your team mates might be good for other than combat until you’re done with that.”
“When you enter the last stage of training, they teach primary mating methods, you know, positions, how to-”
“I get the drift.” Breia interrupted hastily.
“Well, then the week before graduation, they take the entire remaining class and give them a full 28 hour day to... Practice what they had been taught. Just like every other part of training, you learn by doing.”
Breia had a vision of several dozen young Mando of both sexes locked in a room with no adult supervision. Or tried to. Her mind rebelled. “That is really more than I needed to know.”
“You did ask.”
“Sunrider is approaching the door.” They tensed. When Corona had opened the door, his bug had suddenly ceased transmitting. Breia had a good idea what had caused it, and she set this bug to record only electronic emissions. As the door opened, there was a sudden burst of energy, and the bug went dead.
“So we won’t hear what is happening in there.” She said, closing the monitor.
“Why?” Anak asked.
“EMP barrier. Fries the circuits of the devices. Lucky for us they merely begin decomposing when that happens.” She leaned back. “Now all we can do is wait.”