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Old 05-14-2006, 12:20 PM   #107
machievelli
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An unlikely team

It had been done before Breia had even arrived at Corellia in the captured Pirate. She had seen her ship resting in space in an orbit that would never touch the planet. The hazard lights had been switched on. The cubicle had already been moved to the surface and installed. She had been terrified at the implications. Maybe she had forgotten a trap...

No it wasn’t her negligence. It was something else.

Breia walked into the Monastery science center. The cubicle in the center was new. They had needed to request it from the University science lab, and had it installed immediately after Hawk flight had arrived in system. A full scale biohazard containment for an ultimate level threat. Built to hold something so deadly, that no one would ever want it released.

Nothing got into that containment unless it was sent in. Food came in through a sealed unit and the trays and utensils were pressed paper that were fed into the mass converter in the corner.

Nothing could get out as well. A separate air plant kept the atmosphere inside clean if a little bland. Like a ship’s recycling system with air tanks added because even that air could be deadly. Samples of blood and tissue could be taken through attachments on the opposite wall. Injections of medicine came in the same way. Sealed in small containers untouched. All taken or given by the occupant.

She ignored the tank to one side. It was attached to the reactor core of the sealed power unit, and would siphon raw fusion plasma into that enclosure in an emergency. Converting the inner section into the heart of a star for a few brief seconds. Nothing could survive it. If that happened, they wouldn’t even open it. They would merely pick it up with tractor cable, and throw it into the star.

She looked into the transparisteel room, then touched the annunciator.

“That was an insane gamble, Meeri.”

The Ithorian looked up from the desk where she was working, and sighed. “We had to know for sure. I am sure that none of the toxin was released, and this-” she waved at her prison. “-is only a precaution.

“I don’t want to lose you, Damnit! Of all the self centered egotistical-”

“It is done, my master.” Meeri said. “Besides, my people are experts with such materials. If I had not gotten the sample, the Office of Special Intelligence would have destroyed it and pretended it didn’t exist.”

Breia had returned to the enclave on the heels of a team from Corellian OSI who had quoted DORA, and tried to file a gag order and left with the gas and bioweapon.

The Monks would ignore the gag order, she knew. DORA, or the Defense Of the Realm Act applied to them only if they were citizens of Corellia. The Jedi had fought hard against being defined as belonging, to or acting as agents for, any planet. The Chancellor of Coruscant had found that out the same way a year or so ago in his reelection bid when they had refused to endorse him. When they had then made the same statement about his opponent publicly, they had accepted it.

The monks served the Force, and peace. Not a government. Corellia would learn that lesson as well.

“Any luck?”

“Not as such.” Meeri motioned to the fittings she had requested. A full scale bio lab computer attached to the Monastery mainframe, and from there linked to the University. The entire medical school database was hers to command, and a dozen immunologists across the planet were working with her. “There have been no cases of Iridian plague in Ithorians so far. If I have the disease-”

“Don’t talk about dying so dispassionately!” Breia hissed. “I will not let you go.”

“If die I must, at least this will be a happy death.” Meeri replied calmly. “I have always been better with bacteria than I am with other beings. And if it does not kill me, the research I do will aid in beating it in time.”

Breia sighed, leaning against the transparisteel. “Can’t you be wrong for once?”

“I hope I am this time.” Meeri assured her. Besides, this is only for a month.”

“While I have to sit on my butt waiting, hoping I won’t be saying goodbye.”

“Don’t sit. Have another Padawan learner assigned during the interim.”

“So I can worry at long distance instead!” Breia waved her hand. “All right. I have to report to the Council anyway.”

“You should have done that first.” Meeri told her. “You’re always telling me to do everything in the proper order.”

“All right! I’m going.” Breia lay her hand against the cold metal. Meeri walked over, her hand touching the other side.

“May the Force be with you, my Master.”

Breia walked out, head down, deep in thought. She walked across the compound toward the council chamber.

Someone appeared at her side, and she glanced up. “Oh it’s you.”

People can say so much with just a few words. What Breia could have said was; We have a crisis, people are dying, a planet has been captured by pirates, the pirates have ships and weapons that should never have gotten into their hands. The deadly virus they somehow obtained may have infected my student, and instead of sitting here with her I have to go out and stop them. On top of all this, there is you little miss Admiral‘s daughter...

Hello, you.


Sienna walked with her. “How is Meeri?”

“Fine so far. But the plague is nasty. She might start showing symptoms any day.”

“I hope she doesn’t have it.” Sienna said. “She is such a good friend.”

“How well do you know her?”

“We were students together obviously. She is probably the only one in my class that ignored my looks.”

“That must have been hard.”

“Why? To an Ithorian humans are rather ugly, you know. But even the other non-humans seemed to be affected by me.” Sienna sighed. “Why couldn’t I look like Mama or my sister!”

“Sister?”

“Yes. Captain Freya Dodonna. When she was in her teens she was a willowy young thing. But as she grew older, she started looking like mama. Squat, solid. Looking like she could walk through a wall without a combat chassis. I didn’t even take after Papa! He is rail thin. He looks like a brisk wind would blow him away.

“Somehow, I ended up looking like this.” Sienna waved at herself. “A young man’s wet dream. I was happy when the order asked me to join. Maybe someone in the world would look beyond the face.”

They paced silently for a moment. “Breia, I wanted to thank you.”

“For what?”

“You are the only human woman I know who hasn’t either bared their claws or hissed at me in my life. You may think my taste in clothes is a bit extravagant-”

“A bit extravagant?” Breia turned to face her. “You had me parading in public in an outfit I wouldn’t be caught dead in and you think it’s just a bit extravagant?”

“Defense mechanism.” Sienna answered. “If every woman acts like you’re going to steal their lover, husband whatever, you tend to start being just a leetle bit defensive.”

“I understand.” Breia sighed. “A lot of men don’t look at my face when they talk to me.”

“That is one part of you I envy.” Sienna replied. “If I had those...”

Breia pictured her chest superimposed on the other girl. “The entire universe would become a black hole with you at the center and every male old enough to think about breeding trying to get closer until all matter collapsed inward.”

The women stared at each other, then burst into laughter.

“Friends?” Sienna asked.

“Friends.” Breia agreed.

They continued on into the council chamber. Reyes and Caroli with their Padawan learners were already there.

Soo-chin sat in the center, flanked on one side by master Hobart, and the other by Master Lang. The others took their positions.

“Report.”

Breia motioned to Sienna. “The Corellian navy has been notified, and an investigation is in progress. Admiral Tran of ONI will keep the Council informed, but is not running the internal investigation. Too many of his senior men are suspect.

“Tran have asked that we contact the Coruscanti and Twi-lek ourselves to avoid warning the ONI men that would be watching us. Relations between the three governments has grown distant of late.

“The navy is going to assign the Thule operation to a special operations unit. A ship is being prepared to take down the planet’s defenses.” Sienna motioned to Breia.

“Corellian Special Intelligence has been informed. Two different investigations are being conducted there as well. Deputy Director for Internal Affairs Prentiss is handling one. My mother has one of her assistants, Logos, handling the actual investigation.”

“Why?” Master Lang asked.

“Master, in my mother’s own words, Prentiss couldn’t find his own butt with a map and guide. He was appointed by Director Moran a few years ago, and having worked with the local intelligence organization before, I must agree with her. He was in charge of the Corridan investigation if you recall.”

Three years earlier, the Jedi had uncovered links between the Corellian Corridan Corporation and a slavery operation. They had turned over their data to OSI which had proceeded to muddle the investigation so thoroughly that all operations by the slavers had been relocated, and all evidence linking the corporation had been destroyed. OSI had turned around, pretty much called the Jedi alarmist, and closed it having achieved nothing.

“Your mother’s investigation will be concealed by the more obtuse group.” Soo-chin replied. “Excellent.”

“She gave me introductory material for both the Coruscanti and Twi-lek authorities.” She held up the chips her mother had given her. “The Twi-lek contacts will bypass Premier Lassa’s pet dogs.”

“As much as I agree with you sentiment, let the term ‘pet dogs’ stay in this room.” Master Soo-chin said. “Reyes, you will go to Coruscant. Contact their navy and intelligence. Caroli, you will do the same on Ryloth. Padawan Solo, since your student is in medical isolation, I would suggest you have another assigned.”

Breia looked at her. “If Master Hobart doesn’t object, I would ask for Padawan Dodonna to be assigned in the interim.”

She saw amusement in Soo-chin’s eyes, and was that relief in Hobart’s? Soo-chin glanced at Hobart. “If Master Hobart doesn’t object-”

“Oh, no!” Hobart looked relieved, never noticing the slight grin Soo-chin hid. “No objection at all. I can see she will learn a lot from you, Padawan Solo.”

“And I from her.” Breia replied.

“I hope not.” Soo-chin whispered. “And what will this dirty pair be doing?”

“I was going to ask for permission to go with the Corellian operation on Thule.”

“Of course. Well you had all best be about it.”

Breia walked out, followed by Sienna. “You know a mask might help.”

“A mask?”

“Yes.” Breia glanced toward her. “We have enough members of other races in the order. If you were to wear say a Marine helmet, no one will see your face and get... distracted.”

Sienna thought of that. “I’d have to wear full robes. Hood and all.”

“If you can stand it.”

She grinned, looking at the older woman. “As long as you dress a little more... flamboyantly?”

“Perhaps a little.”

“I have just the outfit!”

“You would.”

*****

The Corellian Armed merchantman Star Trader rested in the civilian space-dock. Two people approached it from the docking ring, and the sentry noticed them. He waited until he could see them clearly, then thumbed his com link. “Maybe those are the Jedi we‘re expecting, but the one I can see at this distance doesn’t fit the description you gave, sir.”

“Meaning?”

“Built to die for, with blonde hair.” He squinted. “This one has coal black hair.” He grinned. “But she does have some interesting... attributes.”

“Check them in.” The Guard Commander ordered.

The pair stopped at the gangway. “Padawan Solo of the Jedi, and my Padawan learner Sienna.” The guard looked at the other person. The form was muffled in full hooded robes and a long flowing cloak with a bulbous Marine helmet painted a deep scarlet. Then he turned his eyes back to Solo. She was wearing a robe something like what her assistant wore, but it showed more.

A lot more.

The upper portion had been cut down to her waist, showing an expanse of creamy tanned skin and the mammalian swelling on both sides held in and up, he believed, with either magic or repulsor lift technology. He wondered for a moment what would happen if she panted, then put the thought aside because of the discomfort it might cause. The bottom had been slit up both sides, hanging in a vee front and back which showed equally creamy legs above half boots.

“Welcome, Jedi. The captain is expecting you.”

Breia nodded, and the pair walked past him. “Oh, and Sergeant?” She motioned up from mid chest. “My face is up here.” The man reddened, turning back to his post.

“I can barely see out of this thing!” Sienna complained.

“If I had been dressed as I normally do, he wouldn’t have noticed us until we spoke.” They reached the lift. “Bridge.” Breia ordered. The lift shot up about halfway through the ship. The center spindle of a 7 megaton freighter was the living quarters engineering spaces etc surrounded by the cargo bays. The design was a container carrier meaning that instead of being able to see the hull in the distance, there were obvious bulkheads.

The bridge would normally be at the bow, and there was a conning station there with all of the standard fitting. But they stepped out into a respectable copy of a corvette’s bridge buried in the heart of the ship. A woman was in the command chair, checking a pad, making notes. She looked up, then set it aside to stand.

Captain Freya Dodonna looked exactly like her sister’s description. Short and broad as a hatch. Her face was beautiful but unlike her sister, not so arresting that she would stop traffic.

“Jedi.” She nodded, taking in the figure beside Breia. “I thought my sister had been assigned to this mission.”

“She was.” Breia replied, motioning toward her companion. “Do you happen to have a wastebasket?” Freya looked at her oddly, lifting the canister from beside her desk. Breia lifted what appeared to be a detonator.

“What are you-” Breia pressed the button. Sienna gasped, then began hacking, hands clawing desperately, trying to remove her helmet. She threw it aside, taking the wastebasket Breia handed her, and began to vomit explosively.

Captain Dodonna looked at her sister, then as Breia in question. “Your sister decided to dress me in what she considered ‘appropriate’ clothes a week or so ago.” Breia said over the moaning and choking. “Let’s us just say that payback is a bitch, and so am I.”

“What... was... Oh gods!” Sienna buried her head in the wastebasket. “Was that?”

“Rankle rat musk.” Breia replied. “Pretty bad, eh?”

“Oh you-” The head went back down. Shoulders heaving.

“If you feel something like your intestines coming up, I suggest you stop.” Breia told her helpfully.

Freya turned away, her shoulders quivering. Then she turned back, the only sign of amusement the glint in her eye. “I would ask that you not do that again.”

“I have no intention of doing that again. Once is payback. Twice is a declaration of war.” Breia replied. She knelt by Sienna, who was moaning into the bucket as if she were dying. “Now from this point on we are going to act like professionals, agreed?“ Sienna nodded frantically. “This is just getting even for that outfit you made me wear. It doesn’t have to go any farther now does it.” Frantic head shake no. “Truce?”

Not trusting her voice, Sienna stuck a hand out blindly, and they shook.

Breia stood, hands clasped behind her back. “Captain as soon as my assistant is back on her feet, we can get underway.”

Freya smiled slowly. “I see you and my sister will get along like a house on fire.”

Breia cocked her head. “What do you mean?”

“Smoke, flames, confusion, people screaming, and destruction far beyond where we actually are.” Sienna groaned, setting the bucket aside and wiping her mouth. She nodded thanks when Breia handed her an anti-nausea pill. Once it began to take affect, she staggered to her feet. “Tell my, big sister, has anyone gotten even with me so efficiently before?”

“The girl at camp when you were seven.”

“Hey, she doesn’t count! She was trying to kill me!” She shook her head.

“Come now. A seven year old trying to kill you? She just didn't know she could kill you."

“Weren’t you supposed to take command of a Frigate?”

“Yes.” Freya looked a little bothered. “But Mother and Father asked me to command this mission. Since Star Trader has to do her shakedown cruise anyway, I agreed. No one will know that we have something more important on our plates. Give me a slaver or a pirate to shoot at and I‘ll be happy. And once we’re home...” She grinned, a feral look that went well with what Breia had heard.


'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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