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Old 04-14-2006, 05:01 PM   #87
machievelli
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Explanation and plans

Sanji blinked as the hood was taken off. Two men sat before him on a log. Behind them were maybe forty of the Hammerhead natives. The native were nude, but that didn’t seem to bother them.

“First, who are you?” The smaller of the two men asked.

“I am Sanji. I am a Monk of the Jedi order.”

“So they got through.” The larger man growled. “It took them long enough.”

“I assume that you must be Professor Coor. This then might be Ton Morant?”

“Yep.” Morant replied.

“But you went missing six months ago.”

“Not missing, researching.” He waved toward the natives. “When I came I was studying the natives on the sly. The Company says they are animals. But something about the sounds they make seemed contrived. Language of some kind I was sure. I studied music because I enjoy it, and I rigged this.” He tapped a box on his hip that ran up to a plug in his ear. “I found out why they were able to convince everyone they were animals.” He turned, and spoke in a guttural tone. One of the Hammerheads moved forward, and took a deep breath. As it did, four mouths opened in the neck of the creature, and a sound like a pipe organ began. Sanji closed his eyes, listening.

Language is communication, whether it is body language, sound, moving of the fingers, smell, or a combination of them Master Mogo, one of the few Hutt that had joined the order had taught. As you progress, you will discover even more possibilities. Ways of speaking that you cannot even imagine. To be efficient in spreading our beliefs, we must learn the languages of those we meet, even of those that are of our own races, but speak another. The Force will guide you if you let it in this.

The language was not only audio but harmonic, sounds combined in such a manner that only someone capable of the same stereophonic rendition could duplicate it. Suddenly there was a feeling almost like a switch being thrown in his brain.

“-I continue? The being seems to be asleep.”

“No, I am not asleep.” He opened his eyes. Morant was staring at him as if he’d suddenly sprouted hair instead of Lekku. “I can understand her.”

“How did you know it was a female?”

“The harmonic sounded feminine.” Sanji looked at the creature, no the woman, in wonder. “I can understand why you need a translation droid. I don’t know many species that can reproduce that with any fidelity.”

“Young one, this one seems to hear and understand without a box. Why is that?”

“Do you understand me?” Sanji asked.

The native watched him benignly. “The young one has been with us for many days. It was easier to learn his language than to teach him ours. As you have said, not many can reproduce our voice.” The female replied.

“I can understand that. Now. I need a full report of what has occurred. Whatever you have done has convinced the company to commit genocide, and we must stop that plan before it can begin.”

*****

Daysah wanted to scream that Corona was insane. But she knew that even uttering it would have led to her death. “What makes you think I will help?”

“You’re a humanitarian type. Every anthropologist is. You never see the dangers and the problems in the societies you examine. Only where their beliefs and actions mirror our own.” Corona sneered. He stood, going to a wall, touching it. The wall slid aside, showing her a large view screen. The screen lit, and she started to her feet in shock.

Breia was bound, collapsed on a bed. She had her eyes closed, but Daysah knew somehow that she was resting rather than asleep or unconscious. The view moved backward smoothly, and she saw the two Mando boys also on beds. Neither one was even pretending. They glared angrily off to one side. As the view expanded further, she could see the squat droid sitting on tracks nearby, and the man behind it.

“These people live only because of their value in convincing you.” Corona said. Daysah could see a look of distaste on Sunrider’s face. “Shall we begin persuading?” Corona turned his back on the screen, watching her instead. “Begin.”

At the word, the front of the droid opened in a slow motion explosion. As the carapace slid aside arms extended. Every one had a different tool, every tool a possible weapon or instrument of pain.

“Which one?” The man in the room asked.

“Your choice.” Corona replied.

The man looked at each of them in turn, eyes bright with excitement. “The smaller boy.” As he said that the droid rolled forward slowly, each arm spreading wider away from the other and extending forward. Anak glared at it, but didn’t flinch.

“This is obscene!” Daysah gasped.

“It is obscene that you think I will not do it. The only thing that will keep these people whole and undamaged is your obedience.”

The droid was almost within reach, and one of the arms, carrying a surgical saw blade whirred into life. It extended toward Anak’s hand, coming down-

“Stop!”

“Wait a moment.” Corona snapped.

“Hold!” The man growled angrily.

Corona looked at her, and she could feel his satisfaction. “All right. I will do it.”

Corona just watched her. “Good. We won’t need your little toy just yet, Conoro. Stand down.”

The man in the room glared at the camera, then sighed. “Yes sir. Retract and retreat.” He ordered. The droid paused, then the arms folded back into the carapace, which closed with a gentle hiss.

The view screen blanked. Corona closed the wall, and resumed his seat. “Unless you do everything I say all you have gained is a reprieve. If you refuse, if you balk, if I even think you have done so, Conoro’s little toy will be put into action. There are so many parts of the body that are not absolutely necessary to living. I have watched him literally vivisect one of those damnable natives down there but they still refused to submit.

“The next time someone will lose parts of their body and the only thing that keeps it from happening is your obedience. Have I made myself clear?” She nodded. “Answer me!”

“I understand.” She husked. “But what good would my testimony do? If it goes to a full council or a court, I have to make the statements under a verifier scan. You can’t lie with that!”

“Oh the scanners aren’t that perfect. We have used chemically induced mental blocks for decades to keep business secrets away from each other, and false memories are easy to create when you know exactly what you want to create.

“The scenario we are going to create is very simple. This Jedi is in league with a business consortium on Echana. They want to seize the planet, but they don’t have enough armed vessels to challenge us openly. So they began sending in insurgents to slow us down. When that didn’t work, they escalated again, and again. Now they have attacked our people, but their attempt to make us think it was natives failed. Knowing this might occur, the woman hired two Mandalorian mercenaries as a cover, and brought in weapons for the teams down below. Widely scattered teams as it will turn out.

“She knew you could be used as a pawn, so she told you this. But you were more loyal to your home planet than to any ideal. You reported it to us. We will find the documentation aboard the Frigate, well hidden.”

“How are you going to fake that?”

“That was easy. While neither Captain Magtyar nor Admiral Antilles know it, both ships carry several of my people in key positions. The man operating the sensors aboard Tokara Requiem deleted the liftoff and arrival of Millennium Falcon aboard our ship, which was hidden in our sensor shadow from the Frigate by the way and others have already planted the data we will find.

“It has a probability of success of over 90%. But you are right. Perhaps it will fail. If it does, all of that evidence will lead from the Jedi to our good captain. He was so unhappy that he was assigned this ‘pleasure barge’, and he did it out of spite. Of course he used you to plant that evidence against the Jedi.

“That will not stop us, it will merely delay the inevitable.”

“But the verifier!”

“We will create the images we want you to remember. All of what we don’t want you to say will be buried behind a block that would kill you if anyone tried to break through it.

“Of course you will lose your position as a professor. Too much scandal for the University to accept being linked to such goings on. But my nephew has grown quite fond of you.” He looked at Sunrider with a slight grin. “He will take you away from all of that. He will marry you, and you can then go where ever you want as an independent researcher. Perhaps one day you will even get published again. I can guarantee that, considering how much of the Company’s money has been spent keeping that University afloat.

“Eventually you will grow to enjoy your new life. You will bear children who will sit on the board of directors. Be the talk of the elite sect. The poor little girl that made it rich with one step.” He smiled almost gently. “Don’t worry about whether you love him or not. If need be we can correct that little problem in the same manner.”

Daysah stared at him with dawning horror.

*****
“So let me get this straight.” Sanji said as he paced. “They call this planet Ithor. The Ithorians,” he waved toward the natives, “Tried to communicate with the original survey team, but their language was too complex, and they decided that it couldn’t really be a language because their translation program ignored it.

“The survey team reported that the planet was uninhabited, and a few months later, machinery was delivered that began ripping out the trees where they plan to set the hotel.”

“Yes.” Morant said. “When I arrived I was sure they were intelligent because of the way they resisted. They would stand in front of the machinery to make the drivers stop, and had to be physically moved out of the way. Every night they plant bafforr seedlings in hope that they will not crush them.” He waved toward a tree nearby. It shivered as if it were wind blown. Sanji could almost feel an intelligence there.

“These are really exciting trees to study.” Coor said. “When the seedlings grow to about ankle height, they migrate away from the mother tree to find a place to grow. The roots are mobile, and it is like watching an animal scurry across the ground. When they find an open space they plant their roots again, moving only to gather other nutrients. In a decade or so, I might discover how they know where to look.”

“But that wasn’t working.” Morant continued. “The Company just kept ripping the trees out, and going on with their construction. Finally I disabled one of the earthmovers. When that didn’t work, I did it again, then I finally began ripping out moly-circ control runs-”

“Wait!” Sanji spun. “It was you doing that?”

“The Ithorians have a sense of property like no other. They don’t steal from each other, and they don’t even have words for things like steal or kill. If an Ithorian saw something he wanted to possess he’d either trade for it or make his own. They are such devout pacifists that if there was anything predatory on them here, they would have been extinct millennia ago. They live in complete harmony with their environment. They don’t even kill insects that attack their crops. They evolved other species to do that for them!”

“Evolved other species? You’re saying they are not only intelligent but technically adept as well?”

“Just as early man bred our farm animals and grains to get higher yields, they did the same with insects and small animals. A filed of grain or vegetables they have planted are ringed with plant the local animals don’t like to eat, and animals that feed on the parasites flourish there as well. The only things they haven’t figured out how to combat yet are like plant diseases, but they have been dealing with that by destroying grain from the infected plants and replanting the resistant strains. If they had access to a modern laboratory they would be unbelievable!”

Sanji sighed. “So this is all your fault.”

“What do you mean?” Coor snapped angrily. “How is this our fault?”

“Not all of it. Just what is happening right now. How to explain...” Sanji scrubbed his face with his hand. “The Company would have had this hotel built and running if you hadn’t begun destroying their equipment. You have created an image they can use of actual attacks by a hostile force. If they had admitted that the Ithorians were intelligent, that would be easier to deal with. They could at least attempt to negotiate.”

“They tried.” The Ithorian female Waashiri told him. “We would not let them soil our planet. If they had come and lived as we did, or only used the islands off the coast, this would not have occurred. But the Falls of Dessiar drew them. Such beauty they cannot describe, only witness. This they believed would bring more people here if they could stay rather than camping out.” She sniffed, an almost human sound. “So instead they inflict pain and when that does not work, kill us.”

“So all they could do is leave.” Sanji nodded. “But you have given them a way around that.”

“Again with us being to blame!”

“Damn it think! How long do you think it would take before someone that can hear the harmonics would arrive? Both myself and my master Breia could hear it, and it wouldn’t have taken very long to force the issue. I know that a decade might be too long to you, but it would have gotten them free of it eventually.

“But not any more. They have evidence that an outside force is now killing their people. They can get permission to act to stop those ‘terrorists’. How many villages of the Ithorians can they slaughter from orbit? Or from shuttles? Once the killing begins no one is going to care if they are intelligent or not. Every village will be a strike on an insurgent stronghold, and what makes you think they can’t keep planting evidence to prove it?

“Now take it one step further. Let’s say you get off the planet and convince people that they are intelligent. They can spin that too! They paint the Ithorians as cowardly creatures not even willing to fight. Instead they contacted these same pirates, and have been paying them with whatever might be of value. They don‘t even need to have anything on sale to point to. Just the idea that is happening.” Sanji slowed down. The faces before him, both human and Ithorian looked at him in dawning understanding and horror.

“What can we do?” Waashiri asked. “We can leave, go far away-”

“Forever?” Sanji asked. “How long will it be before they start hunts? There are people that would pay well to put you in a museum or zoom. More still would pay to have you stuffed on a podium.”

“Our doom is before us.” She whispered. “There is nothing we can do.”

“Yes there is. But we need to get them off the planet.” He pointed at the two humans. “We have to get them aboard the Frigate before someone finally give the orders that destroy your race.” He stood. “If you want them to live, come on!”

*****

Breia turned her head. The droid and the human were in one direct line for the first time since they had been put in the room. She could feel that the monitoring camera was off. How she would have not been able to explain. She shifted her hands, then snapped them down at the same instant. There was a plinking sound as the first dart punched into the droid just below the retractable carapace. It whined, but the motivator that would have sent it charging at her was shattered by the dart.

The second one caught Conoro below the eye, skating up the cheek bone into the eye and on into his brain before it stopped.

She rolled to her feet, feeling in her robes.

“Is there a reason you took so long to do something?” Sev asked with a mildness that had nothing to do with his mood.

“We had to find out why we hadn’t been killed below.” She replied. She brought out the set of lock picks she carried, and began fiddling with the cuffs. “It is more logical to have merely killed us, but as long as they can threaten us, Professor Shani is their pawn. We have to save her as well.” The cuff opened, and she started on the other. “If that machine had actually started to cut you, I would have stopped it even if it meant our deaths.”

“May you come back Mando’ade.” Anak said, shoving his hands into her grip.

“That isn’t what I planned for today.” Both boys were now free. She turned to her own cuffs, and they clattered to the floor.

“I don’t have anything that will open the door.”

“I do.” Sev walked to the obviously frustrated droid. The chest opened up, arms extending, and he leaped over, catching it from behind. He spun it around, the sheering blade cutting into the doorframe. Before it could retract and try for him he cast it aside, shoving his fingers into the hole. He locked his feet against the wall, took a deep breath, then with one smooth jerk ripped the door open.

The guard on the other side spun, clawing for his pistol, but Anak leaped, feet slamming into the man and throwing him into the wall. The boy landed on his shoulders, snapped his knees to his chin, then back out sharply, flipping his body into the air, and onto his feet in a crouch. The victim was still standing against the wall stunned when the boy hit him with a punch that shattered his ribs against the unyielding metal. He snapped the man’s neck even as he collapsed in agony.

Breia clucked her tongue. “So much aggression. She stepped over the body, head scanning. “I think you eat too much meat, young man.” Her head stopped looking down the passageway to her right. “That way. A large room. Empty at the moment.”

Sev flipped the knifes he had taken off the corpse to his friend, pulling the pistol. “Pathetic. He could have shot me with this and I would have killed him before I even noticed the wound.”

They hurried down the passageway. The room as not large, it was huge! On the far end they could see the Millennium Falcon. Between them were stacks and stacks of crates. Sev gave a glad cry, and a fist shattered the thin plastic of the cover. His hand came out with a Mando weapon. “Anak! A’den ehn!“ He threw the weapon to the other boy, pulling out another. A quick search gave them enough ammunition for any foreseeable firefight.

“We can’t just blow everyone to hell, boys.”

“Why not?” Anak asked. He checked the tri-barreled ’rage three’. “Kill them all, the Gods know their own.” He quoted.

“Not everyone aboard is in on this, or even against us.” She explained. “If you want to damage company property, that is one thing, and defending yourself is good. But mass murder is out.”

“Spoilsport.” Sev said. He went to another box, reading it carefully. The tool inside looked like a small jackhammer He picked it up, and flinched as Breia slapped it up.

Di’kut! Do you even know what that is?”

“A beam weapon of some kind.”

“It’s a short beam cutter.” She said. “It isn’t a weapon, it’s a tool!” She touched it. “Magnetic field, monomolecular thread. You can set it for any distance you want up to about fifty meters. Flick it on, and it punches forward, and you merely swing it to cut through anything. They use it to cut down trees among other things."

“The boy pondered, then he grinned. “You said damage is all right?”

“Of course...” She suddenly pictured two irate Mando with short beam cutters. “Oh you are so nasty. little man.

“well they did think we were pawns.” He checked the setting. Five meters maximum. “Maybe they need to see how we play chess?”

Breia sighed. “Give me a few minutes.” She walked over to the ship, and climbed aboard. A few moments later, she stepped down with a metal staff. The sword she normally carried was not on her hip.

“Now. Give me a five minute countdown.” She walked across, opening the door into the passageway. “I will find the professor and while you are... Indulging your aggressions, I will make sure she is safe.”

“Chu!” The boys shouted together. She shook her head in exasperation and padded forward.

“You know, she didn’t say we had to start here.” Anak said.

“You’re right. Oya!” They loped down the passageway aft.


'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

Last edited by machievelli; 04-14-2006 at 05:15 PM. Reason: typos
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