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Old 04-10-2006, 10:39 AM   #72
machievelli
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Meera: Planet In the Otegga system deep in the Lesser Plooriod Cluster. Galactic Reference GSFD-446/CR-A4/E-2/3.

Class: C-7 class, similar to Coruscant before urban construction. Native animals and planets graded at level 4, some dangerous, but within acceptable standards for human colonization under Coruscant Exploration Guidelines.
Status: Property of the Tokara Company.

Meera is a world discovered five years ago by the Tokara Company vessel Tokara Explorer using the Hyper-space Cannon extension from the planet Taris. Meera was surveyed by the company, and discovered to be a wilderness paradise.

The company is building a resort hotel to rival the largest ever constructed near the largest fall known in the explored galaxy.

Wildlife: Except for the large animals known as Meeran Hammerheads, there are virtually no large animals on the planet. It is a paradise with few dangers, notably a feathered serpent which can be dangerous, but is shy and retiring.

Tokara Company planned to open the hotel last year, however there have been unforeseen setbacks...

From: Encyclopedia Galactica: Fifth edition

*****
As the two ships began to move away from Coruscant, a message torpedo passed them. It flicked into hyper space, travelling many times the speed of the snail like ships. They would take over a week to arrive when the torpedo would be there in less than a day...

*****

“This is just too much!” The foreman roared. The labor crew looked at the earthmovers. It had taken weeks to get enough moly-circuitry to get them working again, and the damn animals had ripped it out again!

Harlan Coor, leaned on his shovel, looking at the neatly spaced trees that again filled the cleared space. He shook his head, smiling slightly. No matter what the company said, these things weren’t animals.

He noticed a small shiny dot near the trees, and leisurely walked over. A coin. Just as he wondered what it was doing here, something smashed into the back of his head. There was screaming, and he rolled over, looking back toward the open spaces. In the haze of his injury, he saw a horde of figures in black suits had descended on the crew, blades flashing. Someone ran toward the transport trying to call for assistance, but was cut down. One figure standing aside turned, drawing a weapon from a holster. He fiddled with a control, then put a single bullet into a tree. Figures surrounded the massive earthmoving machines, then ran away as flames licked upward. The earthmovers exploded one by one, and when Coor finally came completely around, there was nothing but bodies scattered among the wreckage.

He staggered to his feet, moving to the men he had worked beside for the last months. Something caught his eye, and he bent, picking it up.

It looked like a club with an edge that had been sanded into a blade. Pieces of sharp stone flakes had been imbedded in it.

He reached the transport, keying the alarm, then looked at the weapon again. Evidence of a native attack. The problem was the weapon was an exact copy of what was used ten centuries ago on Coruscant by one now extinct tribe on a small island. Something obscure that most wouldn’t know, and they wouldn’t have made here. He pulled back, and threw it as hard as he could into the underbrush. He couldn’t stop what was going to happen, but maybe he could delay it.

He froze, staring into the jungle. A figure stood there, watching him. Then there were more.

A lot more.

One moved closer, until he could recognize it. A hand came up, waving for him to follow.

*****

“So that’s Meera.” Sanji said. Breia had come forward a few minutes before, almost as if she had known precisely when they would arrive. They stood well back from the bustling crowd on the frigate’s bridge.

“Yes.” Antilles said. Our base is going to be out there.” He motioned toward the planet on the edge of the system. “Too many reports of pirates in the area.”

“Pirates.” Breia looked toward him. “From where?”

“I don’t know. The reports from Tokara have been vague. Ships attacked, but the enemy has been beaten off. Not without losses, mind.” Antilles moved back to the bridge windows. “So we’re setting up a base to protect them.”

Breia nodded. The download from the Tokara Company had been vague to her as well. There were holos of the native wildlife, including a bipedal creature with a curved spine, and eyes on a forward sweeping trunk. The survey looked to have been well done, but that biped still bothered her.

The ships plunged toward the planet. Antilles stood beside them, watching the planet they were approaching. “It is beautiful.” He mused.

Breia raised her head, sniffing, then turned toward one console on the edge of the compartment. The crewman there stiffened, then turned sharply. “Admiral! The Tokara construction base has called in. Their crew at the building site were attacked and slaughtered!”

“Prep my shuttle for launch. I want a squad aboard by the time I get down there!” Antilles looked at the two monks. “Coming?”

Breia motioned then moved rapidly through the compartment to the lift, pacing the Admiral.

“We will take our own ship down, if you don’t mind.” She answered. “My two... hounds shouldn’t be left unsupervised for too long. Besides, they might be of some help.”

The lift stopped, and they headed for their ships. Breia slowed as she entered the mess deck. “Boys?”

“Yes, Yuru’ike?” Anak answered.

“How are you at tracking?”

“I was first in my class in basic, standard and advanced tracking.” Anak said. There was no pride in the statement. He was good, but didn’t brag. “Sev was first in basic, but fourth in standard and ninth in advanced.”

“My ad is the best I have seen.” Sev added.

“Good. Sev, I want you to play the bodyguard. Anak...”

*****

The scene looked like a war zone. The Millennium Falcon settled down, crushing some of the newly planted tree, and a moment later was followed by the shuttle from Duroc. Soldiers poured from the shuttle, surrounding it as Antilles stormed down the ramp. He moved forward, his men keeping a tight perimeter as he stopped at the first body. It had been hacked again and again as if by some blade wielding madman. He walked slowly through the battlefield, and his face was cold.

A guard clicked his tongue, pointing something out to his sergeant. The noncom walked over, picking up a war club. “Sir?” He held it up. Antilles waved, and the weapon was brought to him.

He looked up as Breia walked toward him followed by Sev and Sanji. Then he looked back at the club. “Any idea of the losses?”

“Thirty dead. According to the base camp there were thirty-one, so someone is missing.” The sergeant reported. “All four earthmovers were torched. The fuel lines had been hacked open.”

Antilles looked at the carnage. “Natives?”

“May I?” Breia held out her hand, and Antilles passed the club to her. Her fingers ran over it delicately. “Odd. Admiral have you been to the Museum of Natural History?”

“Why is that important?” He rasped.

“Being blind, I get to handle the exhibits when it’s safe. This-” She held up the club. “-is an almost exact duplicate of a Chambri Islander’s war club from Coruscant. The odds that a native would not only know what it looked like, but how it was made are miniscule.”

“Convergent evolution.” The sergeant harrumphed. “Happens all the time.”

“I mention it because four cases of artifacts from the Chambri exhibits were hijacked two weeks ago.” Breia demurred. “Odd that an exact copy turned up here.”

“Sir.” One of the guards had knelt beside one of the bodies. “Most of these cuts weren’t made with something like that.”

Antilles and the Jedi moved over to the soldier. Breia knelt, running her hand along a slash. “He is correct, Admiral. These were made by modern swords.”

They looked up as a pair of shuttles came in. The first was a standard cargo lifter large enough to put two of the earthmovers in. The other was a slim two man personal model.

Men poured out of the larger shuttle, stopping to stare in horror and anger at the scene before them.

Dasa Sunrider followed Suli Corona into the front. The older man paused, his face cold as he surveyed the site. “So they’ve struck again.” Corona said.

“Who?” Breia asked.

“These damn natives.”

“This wasn’t done by any natives.” Antilles interrupted. “Whoever did this used modern weapons, and left these-” He waved the club, “-to make you think it was.”

Corona locked eyes with the Admiral, then stalked forward. He took the weapon, looking at it. “What proof do you have?”

Antilles walked the new arrivals through their discoveries. Corona’s face became thoughtful, then looked at the Jedi Monk. “It seems that someone else is trying to convince us to attack innocent wildlife after all.” He agreed. He walked over to the earthmover, looking at the wreckage. “Pirates perhaps?”

“Possibly.” Breia agreed. “But why would pirates want to disrupt your business here?”

“We are a large fish in a very small pond here.” Corona answered. “If they could convince the Galactic Trade Authority that we are fighting a native species, the planet’s classification would change from class 2 to class 3.”

“Ah.” Breia pondered. A class 2 planet was open for colonization or exploitation. But a class 3 was a planet with an indigenous intelligent species, and while they could trade with them, the company would not own the planet. That would not stop exploitation, merely slow it down. She looked at the Vice President. “So they would be able to trade here without your clearance.”

“Precisely.”

“All right sergeant. Spread your men around, and see if you can find anything that tells us where the enemy came from and where they went.”

The soldiers supported by the Tokara guards spread out. Sev watched them go, then leaned forward. “ They’re not Mando.” He whispered. “But they move well.”

Breia scanned the forest beyond the men. Her head cocked. “Did you hear that?” Sev started to ask, but she shushed him. From deep in the forest, there came a thrumming sound. Like a bow pulling across a taut string. It fluctuated up and down, then repeated. From another point much farther away, there came a reply. The pair stood in silence as a third then a fourth thrum sounded. Then the forest fell silent again.

Three hours later, the command team surveyed the findings of their men. There had been foot prints, but they had been muffled by cloth so no discernable pattern on possible footwear had been found. The prints had come from all sides, but had left, and deployed from the east along a game trail. Two hundred meters down that trail was a clearing, and in it were depressions that looked like landing gear.

Breia scanned, and detected Anak coming back from the forest where he had been. In one hand he carried a recorder. In the other, his rifle. He paused, slung the recorder, and walked toward her.

“Anything to add?” She asked. At his terse nod, she looked back toward where Antilles Sunrider and Corona were standing at a table which had been set up. She walked over to see what was so interesting. In the center of the table was a single distorted slug.

“May I?” She asked. At Antilles’ nod she picked up the lead, rolling it around in her hand. “Weight about five grams. It feels like...” She set it down. “Admiral, when you analyze this I think you will discover it came from an Echani designed pistol.”


'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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