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Old 03-28-2006, 03:48 PM   #19
machievelli
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The investigation

There was a wordless roar, and Breia sighed. Having two Mandalorian boys running around on a ship this small was like having a herd of Gianta puppies from home! She heard a pattering of feet, followed by a thunder of boots. Padawan learner Sanji roared again, followed by a thump that rippled through her feet. Breia could hear laughter. She stood, moving into the mess deck.

Sanji stormed forward limping, growling in his native Twi-Leki.

“Sanji, try Basic for me, please.” Breia asked.

“Those, those... boys.” Sanji snarled. “Have you seen what they did?” He paused, flustered. “Sorry, Master.”

“Of course I have not. Why don’t you describe to me what is bothering you.”

“They’ve turned the port storage bay into an obstacle course and ambushed me when I chased Anak.”

Breia pictured the area. A wide pie wedge space with cargo tied off to the deck and bulkheads. Then she pictured it as an obstacle course. It didn’t quite come to her. She picked up her staff, and walked aft.

Obstacle course was right. Directly in front of the hatch a stack of crates required you to climb twist right and climb again to enter the bay. There was a drop on all sides with a stack of crates placed just out of easy stepping distance, meaning you would have to jump there. She paused, waving her stick. As she had thought, the gravity plates in the gap had been set to 2 standard gravities. You would not only have to jump, you would have to literally vault over.

She heard surreptitious movement, and turned, her hand catching the thrown practice knife out of the air. She ducked, and something spattered on the bulkhead behind her. The smell identified it as an overripe Chunga Cherry.
Vode, come here now.” She said.

She could feel them coming closer, slithering around the crates to drop to the deck below her. Grunting they swarmed up to stand beside her.

She sighed. “I understand that training is necessary, but this will stop now.”

Chu, Yuru’ike.” Sev replied.

“I know what you have done, and if this were a Mando ship, I would applaud your creative use of space. However this is a light transport, and there are safety issues to address. First, there is no clear way to reach the portside emergency breaker panel, which is right over there behind the staggered stack. There is no way to reach the portside fresher controls, which are behind the pyramid abaft the vent space there. There is no way to reach the food for our dinner, something I consider important, which is on the bottom of the stack in the corner. Not to mention that if Sanji had to run in here in an emergency the gravity shift would cause injury.

“Just for my own interest where did you get chunga cherries?”

“On Bandomeer.”

“So instead of eating them you let them go to waste?”

She could picture them digging toes into the crate. “Well, we sort of bought them overripe.” Sev said.

“Thrown?”

“No. we use blow pipes.”

“They make great blood spatter patterns!” Anak added.

“That explains the accuracy.” She murmured “And the mess and smell.” Breia looked around. “Since you need something to do, I will suggest that you first set the entire bay to 2 gravities. Then you will get the cleaning supplies and clean up every speck of cherry juice and pulp. My nose is a lot more sensitive than yours, so I suggest you not miss any. Especially that one hit above my head and three meters aft on the overhead.” She pointed at one of the strayed rounds. “Then you will stow all of these packing crates where they belong and have Sanji verify that they are where they belong, and all panels we may have to access are clear.

“By then we should be dropping out at Coruscant. You will clean your gear, pack it, and be prepared to move by the time we land.”

“Chu!” They leaped to the other stacks, and swarmed down to the deck. She left the bay, walking forward to the cockpit. Sanji was massaging his foot.

“They really are good boys.”

“For a pair of homicidal reprobates they are perfect.” He growled. “I think I might have broken my ankle.”

“Give it here.” She sat on the co-pilot’s chair, and took the appendage. “No, merely badly strained. You haven’t been practicing in heavy gravity.”

“No, master.”

“And what if you had to fight in it? What did I tell you?”

“A warrior can learn to control his weapon and himself. All else is determined by luck.” He repeated.

“If you remember what I said, you should use it.” She admonished.

“Yes, master.”

She looked toward the view ports. It was times like this when she wished she could see with real eyes. People were always telling her about the tunnel like beauty of hyper space but she had never seen it. This was her ninth mission for the Jedi council since she had joined the order and every time she felt this wistful yearning.

The ship shuddered, and she could feel a massive out flowing of the force from ahead of her. She was still tasting it when the com panel bleeped.

“This is Coruscant approach control to Jedi Council transport Millennium Falcon. Respond please.”

Sanji was busy shutting down the hyper drive systems, so she reached across, long practice guiding her fingers to the panel. “This is Jedi Council transport Millennium Falcon receiving Coruscant approach control.”

“Millennium Falcon is requested to dock at the Coruscant University Annex station. Jedi Council has requested Padawan Teacher Breia Sookor Bai Echana hold herself there to meet with Government representative.”

“Understood. Will comply.”

“Coruscant approach out.”

“What now?” Sanji asked.

“I don’t know.” Breia sniffed deeply. “But I think we’ve already got another mission.”

*****
The Coruscant University Annex was a huge fifty kilometer disc stationed in geosynchronous orbit above the University it served. A docking port in the outer ring accepted their authorization, directing them to one of the smaller ports designed for personal transports.

The YT07 was dwarfed by the larger shuttles that plied space between the planet and the 50,000 student annex. It settled on the deck, and Breia scanned the figures that people waiting for her. There were three men and a young woman. The ramp came down and they headed for it. Breia stood, arriving in the mess deck as they entered.

The older of the men carried himself with the stiffness of a military officer recovering from an old wound. His long hair was black with streaks of gray through it. Beside him the Jedi Monk that was administrator of the local Monastery would have been laughable. He was about a meter five in every direction, a huge roly-poly caricature to the undiscerning eye. Master Hontu had proven to be her first and best student at Mah-rehal, the ‘dance with eyes closed’ which was the fighting style she had pioneered among her own people. He had taught her how to use the same sense she had honed for combat into the ability to detect not only the force but duplicity as well.

The third man was an interesting view using that ability. He had threads of duplicity and anger in his aura, but she knew that he was a glad-handing political hack to the naked eye. His blonde hair fell in a long train behind him, and she could tell by the smell that he wore cologne and expensive fabrics.

Compared to them all, the woman was a breath of fresh air. She was petite, probably cute, and had the air of someone that would have been more comfortable in a wilderness than on steel and plastic decks. She carried a pad, and was entering information as she walked up.

“Padawan Teacher, may I introduce Admiral Bono Antilles of the Coruscant Navy. Conno Daystrom of the Tokara corporation, and Daysah Shani of the University Anthropology department.” Hontu said.

“Greetings.” Breia turned her head, and each felt as if she was looking at her. “I assume there is another mission?”

“Yes. May we be seated?”

She stepped aside, motioning toward the table. The others passed her as she walked to the carafe. “I have Echani tea already made. If you would like some, please indulge.” She poured, and wordlessly filled a cup for herself then another as Daysah came up beside her. She took her seat, sipping the hot spicy beverage. Daysah gasped, but kept drinking.

“I don’t know where to begin.” Daysah said.

“At the beginning is always best.” Breia commented dryly.

“Yes. Well four years ago, Mr. Daystrom’s company filed patent on a paradise world that has been named Meera. At that time, the government did nothing about it.” Her voice was sour at the statement. Corporations controlled too many seats in the local Assembly to really be restricted. “Three years ago, one of our students reported to the anthropology department that he believed the larger primate species might be intelligent.”

“It’s all a tissue of lies.” Daystrom snapped. “Anyone who has seen one of them knows they don’t have a large enough brain pan to be intelligent. Besides our survey team attempted to communicate with them and found that it was impossible.”

“The fact that they have four throats and mouth causes them to speak in stereo.” Daysah replied levelly. “When we heard this, we began assembling a translation program to try again. We are uploading it in a new series of homo-form droid supplied to us by Droids incorporated. May I continue, sir?”

Daystrom snorted, nodding.

“As I was saying our student believed the primates were intelligent, yet all requests by the university for permission to study them have been rebuffed. One of the members of our University Harlan Coor of the Ecology department had other issues with the company’s handling of the planet. Tokara is building a massive new super hotel on the plains below a giant waterfall. He was concerned that no study had been made of the environmental impact of the construction and potential guests, and when he requested such studies the company again refused.”

“We can’t be expected to deal with every possible complaint!” Daystrom almost shouted. “We have a business to run, and facilities to maintain and build. If we stopped every time someone assumed that we were in violation of statutes we would still be in a two room office over in west sector.”

Daysah sighed, rolling her eyes. “When attempts by both departments through the government also failed to gain us access, one of my associates Ton Morant got a job as a surveyor with Tokara. As an architecture student, he was assigned to the hotel project. He disappeared six months ago. Professor Coor on his own also infiltrated the company. His reports were sufficient for us to finally gain access to the government offices we needed to contact, yet they still ignored us.

“Finally our department contacted the Jedi Monastery, and they were able to break through the bureaucratic deadlock. Tokara finally gave permission for myself and our droid to meet up with Professor Coor and permission to do the surveys we had requested for several years.”

Breia sipped. “All right, that explains two of you. Why is the Admiral here?”

“The Navy is going to place a defense base orbiting the fourth planet of the system.” Antilles said. His voice was soft, but used to command. “I was assigned to survey the chosen site when Mr. Daystrom’s company requested that we await the arrival of a Padawan who could accompany us.

“At Tokara Company’s request the Frigate Duroc will accompany the Liner Tokara Requiem to the system.”

“Which leave me there without a ship?”

“Of course not. There is enough room in our forward hold to carry your ship in it. Once we’re there, your ship can be unloaded, and when you’re business is done, you can leave without waiting for us.”

“Or you can travel aboard Tokara Requiem. She is brand new and will be making the run from Kinyen to Toprawa and return twice a year.” Daystrom enthused.

He’d rather we rode in the Frigate. That offer was for form’s sake only, if we agreed something would come up. I wonder what? Breia thought.

“Thank you, sir, but we will ride with the Navy if it is all right with you. Is there anything else we need to discuss?” She ducked aside, as did Hontu.

There was a phutting sound, and the other people leaped up, cursing at the stench of seriously overripe Chunga cherries.

“Except for the cleaning bills that is?


'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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