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Old 05-09-2006, 11:49 PM   #94
machievelli
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Cutting out operation

Breia and Meeri entered the Stars end. For a moment the noise ebbed, then picked back up again. A Toydarian near the bar saw them and ducked for cover. A party of Dugs also at the bar suddenly decided they wanted a booth. Preferably a distance from the hulking Ithorian.

“You seem to have made a lasting impression.” Breia whispered leading the way.” She reached the bar, tapping a coin on it. “Two Corellian Reds.”

The bartender relaxed, and pulled the brews, passing them across. Breia leaned nonchalantly against the bar, sipping. “It looks like we’re here first.”

“No.“ Meeri sipped. “Left hand corner table.”

Sienna was already here. If the outfit she had worn earlier was rather risqué, this one bordered on sultry. The red was gone. Instead she wore a sheath of blue spider-silk that hugged her so tightly she might as well not have bothered. Breia looked away.

“She reminds me of someone.”

“Her grandfather is Admiral Dodonna.”

“No.” Breia tapped her fingers against her head. “It’s how my mother used to dress. Back before I was born.”

“Your mother was a professional pleasure girl?”

Breia glared at her. “No. She works for Corellian Intelligence. She used to dress that way...” Breia looked at the girl with a new respect. “To distract people while she worked.”

“Are you’re sure you’re not related?”

Before Breia could answer she saw Samsun stroll in behind him on a leash came Yodai. Breia lifted her glass quickly, pretending to drink to cover the fact that she wanted to roar with laughter. Proper prim Yodai on a leash! Samsun unclipped the leash, roughly rubbing Yodai’s head. “Now behave this time.” He admonished. He moved to an empty table, waving at the bartender.

Yodai looked around owlishly, then scampered across the room, climbing Breia’s legs. She yelped as he hugged her around the waist.

“Don’t get too into the part, Yodai.” She whispered. She felt his fingers pluck the data chip from her belt, and the insertion of a fresh one.

“Him on a leash I will see.” Yodai grumbled. Then he climbed farther up, snatching nuts from a bowl. “Enjoying this too much he is.”

“Yodai!” The small being looked. Samsun was waving. Grumbling dire retribution under his breath, Yodai leaped down and ran over to climb the young Padawan, ‘accidentally’ digging in with his claws a little when he reached Samsun’s ribs.

Reyes arrived next, trailed by his Padawan Kriel. Kriel was a Twi-lek, his red lekku weaving slightly as they sensed the atmosphere. A female Twi-lek at the bar blushed furiously, turning away. But she kept glancing his way.

“Ah, young love.” Meeri said. “A pity we are not on the station for too much longer. That would be an interesting story to hear.”

Caroli came in. A few moments later, a young man with a shock of ginger hair came running in, joining her at the table. Breia had not yet met Padawan Learner Costi. He was new, having transferred from the Monastery on Ossus. He looked a bit uncomfortable with a blaster low-slung on his left hip.

Breia took out her pad, and slipped in the chip Yodai had delivered. They had also been commissioned to deliver some of the Cariali supplies. The crate had been expertly opened and sealed. Hand weapons and breather masks. She downloaded the information, then dropped the chip in her drink where it promptly dissolved.

“No change on Yodai’s end.” She whispered.

“Good changes enough just with us and Sienna.” Meeri murmured in reply. She held up her empty glass, and another round was delivered.

Yodai who had been pretending to be asleep dropped to the floor, scuttling toward Caroli. She cursed, setting him on the table, where Costi tried to tempt him with pretzels. Yodai deigned to accept for a moment, then at a cluck from Samsun, scurried back.

Breia finished her second ale, watching the byplay with interest. Unbeknownst to the patrons, the little Jedi was assuring that everyone was on the same page. He had carried Breia’s report to Samsun who had downloaded it for himself and a copy which was delivered to each. Reyes cursed when he attacked his bowl of nuts but didn’t strike at him, which would have been in character.

The final act was funny. A human in a shipsuit was across the way, trying to drink Sienna under the table. Not much chance of that. The Jedi training helped her to metabolize the alcohol faster than he might have considered possible. Yodai came gallumphing over, scurried up onto the table, and proceeded to attack the bowl of nuts there. The man cursed, waving a drunken hand at the small being, who squealed as if terrified, leaping to wrap his arms around Sienna’s neck.

“Oh how adorable!” She gushed, hugging and petting him. Yodai didn’t move away quickly. If anything he seemed to settle in closer, eyes still on the drunk. Sienna asked the annunciator at her table a question, and a bowl of milk arrived. Breia turned rapidly, coughing to hide even more laughter. She knew how Yodai felt about milk! Yet he got down and lifted the bowl draining it.

A few moments later he ran back to Samsun. The Padawan slipped the ship into his reader, made a few notes. Then he lowered the pad to the table. Under the cover of draining his mug, he popped out four chips, setting them aside. Then he stood, walking toward the bar. Behind him, Yodai had swept up the chips, and delivered them to each in turn.

“You again.” Reyes snarled at Meeri. “Staying off the sugar water tonight?”

“As I have instructed her.” Breia snapped. Reyes turned toward her, eyes cold. “It’s thanks to her I spent last night in jail instead of enjoying myself.” He poked her hard in the chest with a finger. As he did the chip fell into Breia’s waiting hand. “I have to be in the Ando system in three days, and I will not be detained again. So keep her away from me!”

He spun, storming out.

“I don’t think he likes you.” Breia said.

“I don’t like him either.” Meeri finished the ale. “Shall we get back aboard?”

They left just as Sienna was waxing lyrical about how adorable Yodai was again.
*****

Breia poured the tea, and flipped on the pad as soon as they were back aboard. “Each of us were asked to carry cargo. by Cariali. Reyes and Yodai are carrying about ninety cubic feet each. Caroli has about twenty-five and...“ She laughed. “The same box we unloaded on Cariali. No major changes. Sienna thinks she will need at least people to help, and that is... Yodai and I.” She leaned back, sipping. She suddenly saw herself in Sienna’s idea of proper clothes, and choked.

“What are we going to do about our guest?” Meeri waved toward the cargo bay where the Dug that had tried to hotwire the ship still hung.

“We’ll dump him loaded to the gills in the morning.” Breia said. “Unless you have another idea?”

“He gave us a lot of information. Perhaps if we convince him of who we really are, he’ll get... nervous and ask for sanctuary?”

“You are always so... forceful.” Breia replied. She reached into a cabinet, drawing out her sword. “Shall we practice in front of him you think?”

“In front of and around.” Meeri replied. She drew out her own blades.

Together they walked back to the cargo bay. The Dug froze as he saw the sheathed weapons they carried. He had been digging at the plastic that bound him, but it was rated at 40 tons per inch and required special tools to cut.

Meeri lowered him, then moved him to the center of the bay, hanging about chest height for Breia, meaning even with Meeri’s shoulders. They set the weapons aside, drawing out practice weapons instead. Meeri used twin blades, and Breia matched her with her long pommeled single. They faced each other, saluting with the blades.

“What are you-” The Dug yelped, trying to pull his head in as three blades flashed. Meeri was abysmal on the attack. She had her race’s reticence about fighting. But on the defense she was a master. In the first actual fight they had ever been in, seven men had attacked them armed with swords. Breia had dealt with three of them easily, then turned to find that Meeri had not only defended herself brilliantly, but had kept the other three busy with a dazzling array of parries. The one man that had been killed before Breia joined her she admitted had been killed by one of his fellows. The practice drill had been ingrained into both of them since childhood. The Dug was merely a small space they didn’t allow their blades to enter.

To the Dug it was a flashing nightmare of steel and sudden death whipping past his head. The pair were silent, focusing on what they were about. If anything the speed increased, and he realized that no normal human could have kept it up.
Suddenly he fell. One cut had sliced through the spider-web that had held him up. He landed on his head with a squawk, and rolled into a fetal position.

There was silence, and he opened his eyes. A blade flashed less than a centimeter from his muzzle. Not the practice blade, but the wavy-edged sword of a Jedi.

“You thought you could steal a Jedi ship?” Breia asked. She turned her wrist side to side, a flash of light passing back and forth across the pupils of the Dug’s eyes. “You know that is defined as piracy.” She knelt, the blade not moving. “I could turn you over to the local authorities.” She felt his mood brighten. “Or space you when I leave. I don’t really trust the local constabulary. Is there a reason I should?”

“Didn’t know you were Jedi.” The Dug grunted. “Mistake.”

“A very stupid mistake.“ Breia agreed. “A last one. Of course I could help you by telling the Constabulary how very helpful you have been in our investigations here. Knowing you are really a fine upstanding citizen will make your life so much more pleasant.”

The Dug paled. Sure, it would make his life more pleasant. Until it ended rather abruptly, painfully, and probably not quickly knowing his luck. “Maybe we can talk?” He asked plaintively.

“Why? I got all I wanted to know from you. The local Cariali broker is paying people to hijack any armed vessel they can.”

“But where they taking them?” He asked, a glint in his eyes. “What they use them for?”

“You wouldn’t have been told that.”

“Not told.” He admitted. “But if you listen, you learn things, yes? Been working a long time. Know everything about a lot of things in different places. Learned this by being quiet. Unobtrusive.”

“So talk to me.” Meeri activated the recorder, and they listened as the Dug talked for almost an hour.

“So they have taken over this planet Thule. Why has no one noticed?”

“People who run communications same people. Company helped them.”

“Why?” Meeri asked.

“Deniability. Evil done, people die, war begins. When discovered, Company throws up hands in horror. ‘Evil men steal from us! Do all this! Shocking‘!” He shrug. “Know more about a lot of places yet.” He repeated.

“There is probably more, but we don’t have the time now.” Breia looked at the Dug. “Once we’ve left the station, we will take you to Corellia. I think Corellian intelligence will want to have long discussions with you. When they’re done, I will forgive your little transgression. But I won‘t forget it.”

There was a bleep from the annunciator. “Padawan, we have a visitor.” A4 reported.

Breia sheathed her weapon. “Local or one of ours?”

“A local delivery man from the Promenade. He is carrying what looks like a box from Kimberly's.”

Breia and Meeri shared a look. Kimberly's was a Corellian clothiers. The place where Senators went to buy their mistresses clothes that would get them arrested if the wore it in public.

The man looked like he might be the manager of the store. He was almost jumping up and down with excitement when she lowered the ramp. “Miss Magulagi? I am Justo Forek of Kimberly’s. A miss Dorino bought a dress to be delivered to you.” He held it out. “The message reads, ‘in thanks for your hospitality earlier today.”

Breia took the box carefully. “It’s Captain Magulagi.” She looked at the box. “Who is this... Dorino woman?”

“She said you might not recognize the name.” He replied. “She is the scion of a noble house on Corellia, travelling while on vacation from her school. She saw your ship and you gave her a tour this morning.”

“Oh, her.” Breia looked uncomfortable. “I’ll have to thank her.”

“No need, no need.” He said. “The instructions are in the box with the clothing. I hope you consider us for future purchases.” The last statement was given only pro forma. He had obviously figured that the captain of an old Courier couldn’t possibly afford something else from his shop.

Breia watched him go, then whispered. “Instructions? How hard is it to put on a dress?” She went up the ramp, closing the hatch again. Meeri was in the mess hall when she arrived, and she opened the box. “Oh she has got to be- Meeri! Laughing about this is not- Oh I am going to kill her!”

*****

It was a sight that attracted very male eye. Two women, one with raven black hair, the other blonde. The blonde was carrying some kind of animal that clung to her, risking exposure of her assets when it swung aside to try to grab at things they passed. The other followed by a large spider like droid. But if anyone had asked, they wouldn’t have noticed the droid. The animal at least was trying to do what every man that saw them dreamed or. Unwrapping one of them like a kid at his birthday party.

Their clothes drew the eyes. The dresses were the same in every way but color. A top made of a mass of straps that obviously took some effort to put on, and probably as much to take off with long sleeves mandarin collars, a gap in the cloth that exposed smooth stomachs and attached to hip hugging briefs above thigh high boots. The Blonde was in a deep burgundy that set off her pale skin, the dark haired one in a lime green that made her eyes seem even more green then they were.

Either one would have been worth the attention, but together they should have been charged with incitement to riot.

“I am going to kill you.” Breia growled for perhaps the tenth time since they had begun the approach. “I am going to feed you to a Landrian sand shark. I’m going to find something nasty to have you for dinner.”

“Well we could start with my Uncle Peri if we want nasty things to have you for dinner. The only reason I am safe is because he knows I’m his niece. Though if I were one generation farther away all bets would be off.” Sienna said. “Smile, girl! You’re beautiful, in an outfit that cost more than most of these people have made in a year-”

“With every man knowing exactly my bust size, the size of my nipples and whether I sunbath in the nude.” Breia snapped back. “Back home my dad would have fits!”

“Ah Darshan Solo is so repressed isn’t he.” Sienna replied gaily. “But your mother Holani...”

“What about my mother?”

Sienna looked around, then leaned forward, her finger motioning toward a group admirers that immediately began straightening. The portrait of a cute girl whispering a secret to her friend. “Well the last time I saw your mother at a state occasion, she was dressed in something that would have embarrassed me!” She shook her head, meeting Breia’s fulminating gaze. “All I have to say about your mother is that at sixty or so she is still an exceedingly attractive woman. She had the Bothan Ambassador eating out of her hand!”

“Sixty-two.” Breia bit out. “And yes she is still attractive.” Hating the girl was as useful as trying to bottle the wind. Considering how to gain revenge however...

“Come on. Look like you’re enjoying yourself.” Sienna whispered. “Think happy thoughts!”

Breia pictured her head down in a vat of Chocolate ice cream. Those smooth toned legs kicking futilely as she drowned...

“That’s more like it.”

They passed docking bay 17 where Hawk Flight was preparing to launch. Meeri had her instructions. Then ahead of them was bay 19. Sienna turned in, Breia pacing her.

Up close the Escort was huge. At least ten times the mass of her own ship. Almost as big as the Master Hontu. Sienna cooed as if she thought she could stroke the ship, and have it roll over like a pet. “Oh, isn’t this a Raptor?” She gushed. She strode toward the hatch. It was open, and a grungy little human looked up at their approach. He stiffened, then was frantically wiping his hands and trying to get his hair to lay down.

“Oh I’ve never seen the inside of a Raptor before!” If anything her brainless act was even better than before. “May I please look around?” She put on a plaintive expression. Men who saw that look outside a jewelry store would have been getting out their charge cards before the first coo had died.

The man growled inwardly. The captain would skin him if he let a couple of bints on the ship. “We’re getting ready to depart, unfortunately.”

“Oh that’s good!” Sienna gushed, then she leaned forward. “You intended to take us with you.”

The man’s eyes glazed. “Yeah, we’ve been waiting for you.” He said.

“Any you have just the place for us to hide.” Sienna said. “Just forward of engineering.”

“There’s a cabinet just forward of engineering you can hide in.”

“So what are we waiting for?”

“Let’s hurry. What are you waiting for?” He asked.

“But we have to get there without passing a security camera, don’t we.”

“Yeah, no cameras.” He turned, walking aft with the women and droid following.

“That’s a pretty neat trick.” Breia whispered. “How does it work?”

“How does the ripping droid’s arms off work?” Sienna asked in the same tone.

“When we have time I will show you. If...”

“I teach you how to control the weak minded?” Sienna grinned. “If it’s a man they are all weak, honey.”

The cabinet was large enough for all of them to hide in. The guard went back to his station. There was a hooting, then a voice spoke.

“Devaronian.” Breia identified the language. “Most of those we have gotten dead were Devaronian.”

“Yes. I wonder why?” Sienna asked.

“Someone forcing them they are.” Yodai had dropped his act as well. “The most peaceful race they are not. But wanton slaughter not their way.”

The ship shuddered, and Breia mentally pictured it lifting off from the pad, sliding out into space. The engines went to a smooth roar, and Breia said. “Now.”

They came out of the cabinet, moving swiftly aft. The hatch opened, and Breia took one step, and a tanned firm leg shot out kicking the Devaronian that spun at their approach in the crotch. As he whimpered dropping to his knees she punched him in the neck even with the fourth vertebrae, dropping him like a stunned Nerf.

Yodai leaped from Sienna’s arms, racing to a console. He checked the readout. “Good thing our own gas we brought.” He muttered. “Nerve gas they did use!”

A4 trundled over, panels opening for and aft. Breia snatched out the bundle of swords as Yodai opened a high pressure air line. A4 thrust out a nozzle, and Yodai pushed the bayonet fitting into it.

The tank inside the stomach of the droid vented as they slipped air breathers into their mouths, clipping the nostril plugs then Breia handed the others their weapons. She stayed in position as the other two charged forward.

“Go help them.” Breia ordered. A4 finished venting the tank, sealing up it’s carapace again, then took off down the passageway. As it came to people that had been disabled by the gas, it wrapped each in meters of plastic, setting them out of the way as it continued on.

*****

The bridge hatch opened, and Sienna was in like an exploding bomb. The only compartments not covered by the mutiny system were the bridge, engineering and the armory, though each could be added by the flick of a switch. The problem was, that the gas was fast acting, but not instantaneous. That meant anyone on the bridge would have at least ten seconds before they fell over. Long enough to blow the ship up.

Sienna leaped across the expanse, her sword punching into and through the console the Captain was trying to access. Then she whipped the sword aside, slashing the back of the right wrist only deep enough to bleed. “No escape for you, my friend.” She said. Then she punched him, dropping the captain unconscious.

*****

“What the?” The Armorer looked up from his bench as the gas alarm went off. He snatched up an air mask, blowing his lungs clear into it to clear the possibility of gas, then took a deep breath. Something was coming toward him, and he spun, tracking. Wasn’t that the animal from the Can-

A foot caught him under the heart with all of Yodai’s weight behind it. His hand caught the air mask in the same motion, so that the sudden venting of the armorer’s lungs only made him breath more deeply. The man glared at the little figure balefully as he collapsed.

“For an animal not bad, eh?”

On the station, five ships began to depart. First was Hawk Flight, followed by Master Hontu, then Padawan Sani of Naboo then in tandem Master Gretu of Triseki, and Padawan Yaka of Ithor.

Ahead of them, the Raptor vanished into hyper space.

*****

The captain could feel himself swaying and spinning below the air return vent. His head felt like he’d laid down in front of a stampede. Some girl Dressed like she got paid for it, and paid damn well. She-

His eyes snapped open. The entire crew hung up here like a load of Nerf sides. All of them had a glazed look. Below him he heard a clicking, and he froze as a huge spider came into view. It looked like it might be a droid, but it if was it had become insane. The pedipalps were rubbing together, and it stopped.

Looking at him.

The spider set a leg against the bulkhead, then swarmed up as if it were level. The set of forelegs curled around him, then he was being carried down. He had heard of Space-feeders, spider like creatures that boarded ships. But he’d always thought they were a space story! The stories of ships found drifting, the crews hanging in enormous webs, drained of all fluids.

The spider reached the deck, transitioning from straight up to level without a pause. It carried him down the passageway, then stopped at the his cabin.

Two women sat there. They were looking at the log on the computer screen, the one with black hair taking notes. The blonde turned, and he felt an even deeper chill. If there were Space-feeders, their females looked like humans.

Maybe the Space feeders Were human!

“Very interesting log, Captain.” She said coolly. “Every ship you attacked, every station you ransacked, every person you killed. Every rendezvous you made. It will make a spectacular trial. A pity you didn’t mention who supplied the ships and your fighters.”

“My people-”

“Spare me.” The black haired Space Feeder looked back at him. “Your planet couldn’t afford this vessel let alone the other five ships in your squadron. A pair of Corellian Wasp class corvettes, A Twi-lek Crasbashti class corvette. two armed merchantmen. Three dozen fighters between them. Eight of them on Station Kroomerik waiting for, Oh yes, Prince of Peace. Such an interesting choice of name for a pirate.”

“A pity we have to take them in for trial. That pair of twins aboard the Corellian liner last month. would rather we fed them into a mass converter alive.” The blonde said. “How many times did your crew rape them? Bad enough the Humans had to get involved but everyone else?” She looked disgusted. “I think who someone sleeps with is their choice, but did any of you give those four girls a choice?” She leaned forward, and her eyes seemed to grow as he looked into them.

“You want to atone for this.” She whispered.

“I must atone.” He replied.

“You must tell me who supplied the ship.”

“I must tell you.”

Breia felt it when Sienna concentrated on the Devaronian this time. It was as if she could feel the tickle of a sneeze. Or a buzzing from a misaligned drive. It was there, but it was in the force.

“Tell me.”

“The ship was on Nar Shaddaa” he said. “On Pad 94.”

“Who put it there?”

“Told where it was.”

“Who gave you the access code.”

“Drubba the Hutt.”

“Where did he get the ship?”

“Didn’t say.”

“Who paid you?”

“Money deposited in accounts on Bothuwai.”

“By?”

“Don’t know.”

The questioning went on for over an hour. Sienna leaned back from him, looking at Breia. “Nothing.”

“We have bank accounts on Bothuwai, Drubba the Hutt to pick up, and docking records from Nar Shaddaa to go through. We’ll find them.”


'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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