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Old 03-12-2006, 05:34 PM   #7
machievelli
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The Voyage

Dor looked at the ship. Unlike the usual Corellian design, it was a sleek arrowhead of burnished metal. He walked across the tarmac, and ran his hand along the doorframe. The door opened with a gentle hiss, and he entered.

The ship was designed for long term occupation as all hyper ships had to be, but was cramped. He walked forward, entered the cockpit, and switched on the nav-computer. As he had suspected, the target system was Brentaal at the opposite end of the Trade Spine from where he had to be.

It had taken him years to understand nav-computers. His people didn’t use them, and all of the knowledge he had of them was second hand. He pulled out the slicer, and slid it into the onboard navigational update interface. Now, change heading, duration of flight, and power setting. The Galaxy seemed to approve of what he was doing. The computer didn’t ask for an authorization, for which he was thankful, he hadn’t bothered to find out if there was one.

Satisfied, he removed the slicer, then walked aft. The rebuilt ancient hyper engine sat nestled in the middle of the fuel tanks. No one, not even the genius that had modified it knew of it’s potential. Having seen a perfectly operational one, Dor could make a good estimate.

He found an air vent, opened the grate, and slid inside. Sitting, the small being meditated. He had several hours.

*****
Darshan slid into the vest, looking at himself critically. Long black hair in a pony tail, black vest over white open necked shirt. Black breeches and boots. He was definitely a photo opportunity waiting for the camera. He took his multitool knife, slid it into the sheath on his left boot, then drank the last of his tea, picked up a wooden box from the table, and left.

Koori walked, or perhaps it might be more honest to say trotted as he walked out of his quarters, and climbed into the university ground car. The smaller man was nervous.

“Maybe I should-”

“No. For the love of the cosmos, Koori, get a grip. It’s not like we haven’t proven them wrong before.”

“But you never...”

“Never what?”

“Never chanced getting killed before.”

“It isn’t happening. No one with my luck can die that easily.”

“Easily he says.” Koori mumbled. “Sitting on five tons of deuterium fuel with a fusion engine and plasma lines that have never been tested. If this ends badly, no one is going to say it was easy!”

“Calm down.” Darshan opened the box. “Here, this will shut you up.”

Koori picked up one of the keflaka cookies. “You didn’t.”

“Yup. I told mom you were bouncing off the overhead and she sent these to cheer you up.”
Koori nibbled, his face blissful. Nothing was as good as Mari Solo’s cookies! He grabbed two more, and thrust the box back.

“What are you doing? Three score cookies and you stop at three?”

“Take them with you and bring them back.”

“And I thought I was superstitious. Fine.”

The car slowed at the gate, then sped on to the ramp. Darshan climbed out, wincing as lights hit him in the face.

“Mister Solo! Are you worried about the danger?” A reporter called.

“No more than usual.”

“Does that mean you have faith in Professor Deralo’s design?”

“Professor?” He rubbed Koori’s hair playfully. “He’s like me, just a student in the best university in the Galaxy.”

“But this has never been tried!”

“Neither has dancing on the sun. But if my friend designed the dance floor, I’d be looking for a partner.” There was a laugh and he held up his hand. “Really people, if I stand here answering every question I won’t get off the ground before my thirtieth birthday! That’s all.”

He pushed through the reporters, and finally reached the ship. Koori followed as he walked forward, throwing his bag under the second seat. “Why did they bother to put two seats and four bunks in a one man ship?” He asked, sitting in his command chair.

“They didn’t build it just for you, you know.” Koori switched on the computers, running a diagnostic. “When you get back they’re going to use this as a advertising ploy. Take some delegate from a planet and let him pick the destination, that kind of thing.” He sniffed with satisfaction, and punched a button on the nav console. “Course locked.”

“I hate that part.” Darshan snarled. “Why do I have to have a locked down nav computer?”

“Because the University heard about how much you like Santi Morel of Kuat.”

“You’re kidding. I asked her for one dance! She still doesn’t even know who I am!” Darshan pictured the woman ten centimeters taller than he was, with rippling muscles. He was almost afraid to picture them together romantically. “Besides, she turned me down.”

“What, the great Darshan Solo couldn’t sweet talk a lady?”

“No. She didn’t know how to dance.”

So why did you spend three hours with her?”

“Because I was teaching her Tongo.”

“Tongo?” Koori stared at him in horror. “You taught the daughter of the Kuat ambassador tongo?”

“Why not?” He looked surprised. “We weren’t betting money!”

“What were you betting?”

“Kisses.”

“I give up.” Koori shook his head. “I’ll be in the control center.”

“You do that.”

The next hour was taken up in the checklist. Darshan pulled out his tongo dice, and rolled them on the panel beside them idly as he went through the process. Tongo used six dice, each with a different number of sides, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20. It was played by trying to beat the total numeric value of an opponent’s roll, though matching it exactly was the big pay-off. Of course, the odds of matching someone’s roll exactly was right up there with getting struck by a meteor as you stroll down the street. But that is what gambling is all about.

“Checklist complete.” The control center reported. Darshan picked up the dice, stuck them back in his pocket, and began strapping in.

“All right, engines are hot, plasma temperature nominal. Engaging lift and drive now.” The jets screamed as the ship lifted gently. He rotated in place, giving the press a good look at the future of space travel, and then punched the thrust vectoring to forward. The ship slid like an egg in a greased skillet, picking up speed at a deceptive rate. He stood it on it’s tail, and less than a kilometer from the field was already pushing mach one.

The atmosphere behind, he headed for the test area. Every sensing device known to man was arrayed around the 500 cubic kilometer section of near space blocked off from traffic, and he reveled in the feel of the responsiveness.

“Darshan to ground, how about we change her name?”

“Ground to Darshan, you know the ship was named after University President emeritus Calrissian.”

“So what? Who goes adventuring in hyper space with a name like Han Calrissian?”

“What would you prefer?”

“I don’t know. Maybe Hawk or falcon. Something fast! Or maybe Millennium since I‘m going to spend that long for you guys to finish all of the telemetry adjustments.”

“Telemetry is set and rolling.”

“About time!” Darshan took the control wheel in his hands. He snorted to himself. Han! It sounds like someone who can’t spell hand. You’ll never see a Solo with that name.

His eyes tightened. He was approaching the test area, but the course didn’t feel right. He checked his own figures, and it was definitely wrong. “Control, the ship is approaching at the wrong vector.”

“Explain.”

“The heading is 175, it should be 355. It’s heading in the wrong direction for
Brentaal.”

“Give us a minute, Han Calrissian. We’re checking the navigational vectors.”

“We haven’t got a minute. I’m disconnecting the nav computer and will return to base.” He reached across, and tapped the disengage switch. The red light stayed on. He did it again with no affect. “No joy, Control. The nav computer is locked.”

“We are trying to reprogram from here.”

Darshan flinched as he heard a whirring sound. “Control the fusion initiators have activated, get it done!”

“We’re, we’re locked out!”

Darshan cursed fluently in both Corellian Basic and Twi-leki, slamming his fist again and again on the button that refused to free him from this hell ride. “Control! I have a bad feeling about this!”

The ship seemed to stretch until it was a blazing beam of light, and was gone.


'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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