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Old 04-23-2006, 12:12 PM   #17
machievelli
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Resurrection

Blood chemistry normal. All traces are out of her system.

Keep her on the machine for another half an hour. We have to make sure that all byproducts are gone too. A loud raucous noise burned in her ears.

Damn! I liked that tone.

So did I. But until they find out how it affects the gas they have to make do.


Breia floated. The world was a warm and fuzzy area beyond her grasp. She knew she should be up and around. The enemy would be coming soon...

*****

Breia snapped upright, looking around frantically. The Noghri were here. Coming to kill me. I tried to kill them but something...

The room was a Spartan white. Nothing to catch her eye. Just a deep expanse of white and cream. She looked at the tubes stuck in her arm. She wanted to rip them out but she didn’t have the strength.

She heard a door hiss open, and laid down. When they came...

The door to her room hissed open. “Are you going to kill me?” The voice asked. Breia sat up. Master Sookor stood there, her eyeless face looking toward the bed.

“The Noghri-” Her voice was a hoarse whisper.

“Tell me what you think happened.”

Breia concentrated. The last few hours were a blur. “I had found the tank of gas, and it activated before I could disarm it. I sealed the valves so the other tanks wouldn’t vent, and I think I ripped the tank loose. Tell Master Dregar that using the force when lifting can hurt. I almost ruptured a disc.”

“I’ll tell him.”

“I contacted the station Commander, warned him that we had to use hazardous materials protocols. I was arguing with him when...” She looked puzzled. “I sensed Noghri. They were aboard the station. I knew they were coming. But I couldn’t find my sword. I tried to get out of the cargo bay...” He voiced petered out. Her hands were bandaged to twice their normal size. Her hands smashing again and again into the hatch. Some animal howling for blood in her ears. “Oh gods, what have I done?”

Master Sookor looked at her calmly. “You found the tank as you described. You threw a ton and a half over 20 meters, and halfway through a bulkhead. Master Dregar was suitably impressed. A pity, it broke the seal between the Cargo bay and a storage unit beside it. He was even more impressed when I showed him what you did to the two B9s sent to restrain you.”

“What?”

“The arms of a B9 police restraint droid,” The master stated pedantically, “Are rated at four and a half tons. You ripped one completely off a droid, and electrocuted the other. Those are fifty kilo-credit apiece, the military and polce on Coruscant will be irate with you about wrecking two of the prototypes.

“Anyway, When the gas was released, you broke your sword, smashed that vibroblade of yours before trying to contact the Commander. It’s a good thing you did.

“The gas was sensitive to sonic vibrations. The same sound used by every system in the Galaxy for an all hands announcement causes it to break down incrementally. The waste material causes a sudden surge in brain chemistry causing a massive paranoia level. Whatever you see as your worst enemy is suddenly there and trying to kill you. You seemed to think the droids were that enemy. You shorted out one as I said, and ripped an arm off another.

“The death toll here is fifteen. People trapped in compartments that had leakage.”

She suddenly was there. There they were, squat tracked droids. Murderers!

“Oh, gods. I failed.”

“Listen to me. There are seven thousand people on this station. Your actions saved all but fifteen.”

“Wait. You said the tank broke a seal between the Cargo bay and a storage unit beside it. Where were those people?”

“Do I really need to tell you?” Master Sookor replied gently.

“So I failed those people. I murdered-”

“Stop it.”

“Master, I-”

“I said shut the hell up and listen!” Master Sookor leaned forward. “Brie, the only one that had a chance of breaking free into the main areas was you. You could have flooded the entire station. But when you knew you were affected you instead broke the only weapons you had. Either one could have been used to cut your way to that phantom enemy. You stopped yourself. So instead of crying about fifteen unlucky people, thank those same gods that you put yourself through hell to save seven thousand.”

“The enemy ship?”

“Came and ran like hell with Padawan Lang snapping at her heels.” Master Sookor replied. “We IDed it as an old Corellian Balladeer class. We have enough data to find out who owns it. Every supply and warehouse station in the known systems are being notified, and every scanner is set to detect even the smallest trace of Bidraxidine. If detected the computers automatically seal the area until it is verified that there is no dangerous contamination.” She waved as the loud atonal burr sounded. “And we’ve replaced the all hands tone, as I think you might have noticed.”

“My swords. I broke my swords!”

“Girl, swords have souls, and they know when they have been abused.” The Master told her, falling back on her original religious training. “But if they are broken to save lives, they accept it.”

“Did they figure out what it was? I didn’t smash the rest of the tanks did I?”

“Not for lack of trying. You tried to rip loose the second tank to batter the hatch down with, but you only cut the one set of straps. Yes, we have a full forensic crew here. People from Coruscant, Ryloth, Nar Hutta, Corellia, Duros. We have everyone here working together for the first time since they formed the Galactic Trade Authority, and they want blood. As soon as you’re up your apprentice will fill you in.”

My Apprentice? When did I get an Apprentice?”

“When I assigned one. I always do when a Padawan Learner is made Padawan teacher.”
“I’m...”

“Yes. For four days now.”

“Wait a minute. I only arrived this morning!”

“That morning was four days ago.” She patted the girl’s hand. “And if you’re a good girl and eat your veggies, you can meet him in about an hour.

*****

Hospital food is always bland. Breia knew that, hated it the times she was sick or injured, but endured it. The vegetables had been boiled to limp death and she hated it. Her mother made the best steamed vegetable. Just like Father always cooks the meat so tender. She thought. It’s when you don’t have what you’re used to that it hurts the most.

The door hissed open, and a sight she had never expected to see came in. It was a male Ithorian dressed in Jedi robes.

“Greetings Padawan Teacher. I am Yaka. I have been assigned as your apprentice and pilot.”

“Wait, I pilot my own ship!”

The soft eyes wrinkled. “I am told that you tend to be... rough with small ships. I have a gentler touch.” His hands came up, and she smiled. The Ithorians were the most peaceful people in the Galaxy. They flew the way they gardened, with a deep and abiding respect.

“So you have been assigned to me?”

“Yes, Padawan.”

“Why?”

“You have a skill with electronics. I have shown some skill with them myself. It was believed that if you could teach me, then we separately, could teach new students.”

“How are you with a sword?”

The eyes grew troubled. “I am adept, though it pains me to use one.”

“I understand.” She slid her legs out from under the covers. She was a little unsteady, but that would pass. “Now where did they put my robes?”

“In the table beside your bed. I have brought your new sword.”

“Supposed to hand forge the thing myself.” She grumped. The clothes were right where he said they were. She stripped, ignoring him. After spending over ten years in the Monastery, she no longer noticed others either male or female when she was getting dressed.

“I was asked by Master Sookor to tell you that she will forgive that you have not made your own to use at this time. As long as you promise not to shatter this one as well.”

“With my luck so far I make no guarantees.” She replied. The belt went snug. She turned, and he held out the sheathed weapon. She drew it. The blade was a little shorter than the one she was used to, but the wavy edge bespoke the true Jedi smith. Like her own now gone weapon the back strap was sharpened for about 15 centimeters from the point. She had always liked the idea of cutting whichever way she swung. The balance a little farther forward than she like, but give her a few minutes with a tool bench, and that was solved.

“All right, you were supposed to brief me.”

“There is a meeting in ten minutes in the Station briefing room. You were asked to attend.”

“Then let’s be about it.” They walked down the passageway, then Breia stopped. There was such a wave of pain and sadness from the next room that she wanted to drop to her knees in agony. “Who is that?” She gasped, waving toward the door.

“Another affected survivor. A Rodian named Greitau. He went mad in a small compartment. He killed the other four occupants.”

She felt the gun in her hand, lifting it. Maro and Doshi were dead, she had shot them over and over. Doti and Blass weren’t paying attention to her. They were strangling each other, neither would let go until they were dead. Part of her mind rebelled. They are my friends, drinking companions! The gun writhed in her hand, blood spraying from holes in their flesh as she fired again and again. Then the gun stopped firing but her finger kept pulling the trigger.

She shook herself, then walked over, opening the door.

The Rodian was laying there, eyes staring at the opposite wall. She could sense that he knew they were there. He hoped they would simply do whatever medical things they needed to do and leave him in his misery.

She padded to the bed, then laid a gentle hand on his chest. He stiffened, then pulled away.

“Leave me, please.” He said in his own tongue.

“It wasn’t your fault.” She said softly.

“Go away.”

“Greitau son of Brooda, son of Femtor, a monster made you do this horrible thing. If you had not survived, he would have won.”

“Why?” He whispered. “Why did he do this to me? To Maro and Doshi? In what way were Doti and Blass an offense?”

“He didn’t not know them and would not care.” She leaned down, her lips brushing his cheek. “I saw what he did within my own mind as you did. I will hunt him down and make sure no other suffer as you did. I swear it.”

He turned, looking at her. “A Jedi promises death? Such is not your way.”

“Not usually. But there are some sins that can only be expiated with blood pain and death. The only way he lives is if he pleads for mercy. If not I will spill his black blood.”

“For your own pain.”

“No. My pain is incidental. For the pain of those few that have survived. For those who died. For those who went mad and watched themselves kill their friends and loves.”

The green hand rose, clutching hers. “For my friends, please.”

“I swear it.” She repeated.

“A Jedi promises to ease my pain.” He whispered. “Find this person, please.”

She patted his hand, then left the room.

*****

“Where the hell is-” The door opened and Breia walked in. “It’s about time, Padawan.” The man growled. His collar showed the points of the Coruscanti Navy.

“Forgive me. I was easing the suffering of the other survivor.” Breia retorted.

The man was nonplused by her reply. “Well we want to make sure there aren’t any more suffering.”

“I agree.” Breia moved around the compartment to sit beside the other Jedi. Masters Gretu and Sookor were on one tier, their subordinates on the tier below. Breia was motioned to sit beside Padawan Teacher Lang. Yaka moved down to sit with the others.

The meeting was heavy with brass. The Coruscanti and Corellians had sent full Admirals, Onasi from Corellia, and Regna Motha from Coruscant. The Twi-leki had sent Governor Vao of their colony on Rutia. The Duros had sent their chief of investigation Cashio. The Hutt had merely sent a senior Vice President of their trade guild.

“All right, Investigator Cashio and Chief Medical officer Halo of Corellia will give their report.”

Halo was a short plump woman with a slow drawling way of speaking. Breia tagged her as an inner city citizen from Coronet. “The chemical is a genius creation. The carrier molecule is Bidraxidine, which as you all know is made on Nar Shadaa by the Hutt Chemical Engineering Consortium.” She flashed the molecule on screen. “Whoever modified it was subtle and extremely precise. This is what we obtained from samples that survived thanks to Padawan Solo.”

The molecule was subtly different. It was four times the size of the standard Bidraxidine molecule, but in every way tested as Bidraxidine. segments of the molecule were highlighted.

“These segments of the molecule are stable unless affected by a single series of tones.” Above her head a speaker bleeped the tones. Breia tensed. She was in a room with all of the chief investigators. If she suddenly went mad again...

The threat passed, and she sighed. Lang looked at her with pity in his eyes. In the holotank, the molecule broke down. The segments that had broken away blinked, one red, one green, another yellow, one white, the last purple.

“Each of these affects a different species. The red affects humans, Green Twi-lek, Yellow Hutt, white Duros. But the Purple is the key.” The holo filled with the purple molecule. “This affects all insectoid species such as Ruurian Verpine and Sulishti Despite their different physiologies.”

“The chemical affects each of the races in the same manner. It causes the release of endorphins and overloads the sense. The person is thrust into the worst possible paranoid fantasy they can imagine. Something that can be rectified only by the most violent retribution.

“So perhaps this is something created by one of theses insects?” Governor Vao suggested.

“Or an enemy.” Master Sookor replied.

“But why release it among us?” Motha snarled.

“We have yet to determine where it was made. But Investigator Cashio has clues of where it came from.”

“The chemicals arrived from Nar Shadaa with loads of standard Bidraxidine gas. But the shipments were earmarked for specific locations upon arrival.” He brought up a star map. “They went to these station first. Coruscanti, Corellian, and Twi-lek. The next shipments went to these station, two Coruscanti, one Duros the other Corellian. The next shipments went to these, three Corellian one Hutt, one Coruscanti. The next shipments were sent to these. One Corellian, one Coruscanti, one Sulishti.

“We were unable to warn the Sulishti station in time.”

“How many casualties.”

Cashio was silent for a time. “The Sulishti travel in clan units, males females, eggs, nymphs-”

“A number, please.” Onasi said.

“One hundred seventy two thousand.”

Gods.” Someone whispered.

“Are they going to join us?”

“The Sulishti join no one. They are going to find who did this, and kill them. Anyone connected to it will be killed.”

“So we have the chemicals arriving at what location?”

“Coruscant. They were all consigned to the Czerka warehouse and shipped from there.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Motha snapped. Nal Hutta is the damn planet Nar Shadaa orbits. Star Map!” A navigational map flashed up. “Nal Hutta is over here in Galactic east south east. Ryloth is here toward Galactic south, Corellia and Duros here, and Coruscant here in the Core. Sulisht here off to Galactic North west. There is no place where all of them have an interest!”

“Yes there is.” Master Sookor said softly. She pointed just southwest of the core. “Fondor.”

Breia gasped. She remembered Landru. The short human stood there, listening. Breia had been trying to learn the Corellia Than pipe, a hellishly difficult instrument. She had been enthralled by Casa Meridian’s rendition of ‘Hawk Flight’ as a child which had been written for the Than pipe. A brisk rapidly changing melody that she had discovered couldn’t be duplicated by a neophyte. It was before her interests had extended into sound itself.

No, like this. He had walked over, holding out his hand. When she had merely looked at the young Padawan he had reached over plucking the tube from her hand. She had been stunned by his hubris. Personal belongings of other students were never touched without asking first. He had blown a slow riff as if to check the tune, then begun the measure of ‘Hawk Flight’ flipping through the melody as if he’d written it himself.

She had accepted the pipe back, partially angry, but at the same time enthralled.

Landru had been a Fondorian.


“Wait.” She stood, walking down to stand beside the hologram. “Computer, play the all hands tone that was standard.” It played. She noticed everyone relaxed at it. She had always been enthralled by that simple riff of notes. It caught your attention, lifted your heart. She could never understand why.

Suddenly she did. “Computer. Scan musical database. What music uses these notes as a varying theme?”

“‘Hawk Flight’ is the only piece of music where these note played the central theme.”

“Who wrote ‘Hawk Flight‘?”

“Zardan Landru of Fondor is credited for the original piece.”

She turned, looking at the suddenly horrified face of Master Sookor.


'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; 04-23-2006 at 02:41 PM. Reason: story change.
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