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Old 05-03-2006, 07:21 AM   #81
Renegade Puma
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Bravo, bravo...... Great job Machievelli, keep it up. Reading your story is such a pleasure.


Some other really awesome Fanfics: Hidden shades of grey By JasraLantill, The Adventures of Jolee Bindo By Jae Onasi[/size]
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:14 PM   #82
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Confrontation

It looked like an easy prize. One bumbling Corellian CEC J8 class medium cargo carrier with a Corellian Courier in escort. The planet Selden had reported a massive outbreak of Iridian plague, and the first ships with the necessary vaccine was ahead of them. The vaccine was worth it’s weight in Corellian fire opals on the black market.

The Pirate, an old Coruscanti Raptor class Escort slipped from the asteroid field, launching her four fighters. The fighters were a more eclectic mix. The newest was A Naboo A4 Streak. Two were Corellian Rampants, and the last was an ancient Alderaani Night Hawk.

The fighters dived in, headed for a choice morsel.

*****

“Three, two, one, disconnect.” The pilot of the Courier ordered, ramming the throttle forward.

*****

The sensor screened blossomed. The freighter seemed to be coming apart in front of their eyes. Had it exploded? No, now there were five blips instead of two, and three of them were arcing back toward the fighters. One was charging instead for the mother ship. The transponders on every one of those ships came alive at the same instant.

“Jedi!” The sensor officer screamed.

“Get us out of here!” The captain ordered.

The Courier fired a missile. The captain blanched. He’d never seen a missile that fast before. At least 25% light speed. Must be one of the brand new Corellian Spearfish.

The missile slammed into the side, buckling the hull, but didn’t explode.

“Ha!” The captain roared, waving his fist. “Get us out of here before they know we’re still here!”

“Just a second.” The navigator finished his calculations, and the escort vanished into hyper space. Unperturbed, the courier turned on a wing, joining her fellows. The fighters were shredded, and cables snapped out to drag the emergency support pods back to the cargo ship, which had turned to meet them. Suited personnel climbed out, pulling the pods in one by one, and the cargo hatch closed.

Master Hobart came in after the bay was re-pressurized, followed by his new Padawan learner Sienna Dodonna. They went to the pod that had come from the Streak. The pilot wearing a full helmet glared at them and waved a pistol threateningly.

Sienna smiled, then drew, her blade punching through the transparisteel, into the pistol. She jerked, and the blade sliced out of the cockpit, chopping the pistol in half in the process. She pulled the exterior release handle, and smiled again as the cockpit canopy came open. “Any more acts of defiance? Please?”

He raised the uninjured hand, and before she could react a blade shot out of it and was imbedded in his head.

The helmet revealed that he was a Barabel.

The other three were Barabel as well. None survived. One had been injured and bled out. The other two had taken their own lives.

“I thought that one would have just given up.” The girl grumped. “It’s not like he had a chance to escape.”

“Tight operational security.” Hobart replied. “If we can’t interrogate them, we can’t find out hiding place. They think.”

They went forward. The flight crew nodded at them, and the communications officer turned. “We got it, Master Hobart.”

“Send it to all units.” The Young Jedi nodded, tapping a button, then hit the all units key.

“So. Weslen.” One voice, another female replied. “Are you coming with?”

“No. I will let the children flit along on those one while the old man follows behind, Padawan Solo.”

“As you will.” The voice went from light to business-like. “All couriers, match your nav computers to mine. Prepare for hyper jump.” Hawk Flight dropped one wing, and the four small ships rotated onto the new course. A moment later they were gone.

The Cargo vessel Master Hontu turned onto the same course, and entered Hyper.

“ETA 2 days.” The pilot reported.

“They’ll be there in 17 hours.” Sienna sighed. “I wish I was with them.”

“That is why you are still a Padawan leaner, even with your gift for conciliation.” Hobart replied calmly. “That and the way you dress.”

“There is that.” She gave him a gamin grin. A number of marines who had been on the assault on station Alpha 4, especially 2nd squad second platoon of the 7th Marine Assault Force would have recognized the 19 year old by that grin alone. Her eyes twinkled. “But what’s wrong with the way I dress?” She asked, throwing her arms to the side. Am I not a girl?” She waved toward her clothes. The skirt, which on most Jedi was merely a robe had been slit up both sides to her hips, and then folded into Vees front and back, exposing quite shapely legs. The sleeves had been cut off at the shoulders, and the vest...

He sighed. “Sienna. The way you dress anyone with eyes in their head can tell you’re female. And any human man that sees you is well aware that he is a man.” Hobart closed his eyes. Leave it to Soo-chin to saddle him with this girl! “However we Jedi try to be a little more... circumspect.”

“As my sister the Navy Captain used to say before she became stodgy, if you got it flaunt it!”

He shook his head again. “Sienna I spoke with the Marines after the Alpha 4 attack.”

“What did those dear boys have to say?” She looked at him with that innocent expression she did so well.

“Those dear boys all seemed to think you wanted to date them! Right up to the Master Gunnery Sergeant old enough to be your grandfather!”

“All I did was say what Grandpapa always does.” She grinned again. “I never understood why you would ask a stupid question like ‘do you want to live forever‘! Most people I know would say ‘hell yes’! But Marines?” She chuckled. “Ask them something like that and they charge!”

“As soon as you can show me some propriety, we can discuss perhaps assigning you as a Padawan Teacher.” He said reprovingly.

“Yes Master.” He left. The two Padawan at the controls chuckled.

“Cold shower or meditation?” The pilot asked.

“Both.” Sienna said.

They laughed.

*****

The four ships dropped out in the Weslen system. There wasn’t much there, a lackluster little K0 star, three planets that looked as if they were embarrassed by their proximity, and a space station.

“Receiving data.” Padawan Meeri reported. Breia looked at the screen.
Padawan Sani of Naboo was tucked in tight on her left, Master Gretu of Triseki, Padawan Yaka of Ithor echeloned on her right. A standard finger four formation.

“Quick conference, people, and we’ll go in. The station is owned by a Twi-lek corporation, or was the last I heard. A way station between Bilbringi and Bogden and the Corellian Run. Anyone else got better data?”

“Sold it was two years ago.” Yodai replied from Master Gretu of Triseki. “Coruscant company Wayfarer Enterprises.”

“Wayfarer. That’s pretty new.” Padawan Carola Mortai of Alderaan added from [/i]Padawan Yaka of Ithor[/i]. They only started trading on the Stock market right before the Sulishti mess.”

“Has anyone noticed that the company is not run by humans?” Padawan Reyes of Corellia asked. “How many companies registered out of Coruscant are run by aliens?”

“Sixty-two.” Breia and Yodai chorused.

“That many?”

“Center of Galactic Trade Alliance Coruscant has become.” Yodai said. “Register on Coruscant, makes you important some think.”

“All right people. Reset transponders. Meeri, pick a number between one and ten. Everyone pick one of your own. Whoever is closest goes in first. Remember, we’re just honest independent couriers doing our jobs, so act like the straights, okay?”

It came down to Reyes, the newest of the Padawan teachers going first, followed by Yodai, Carola, and Breia last. She watched as each ship peeled out of the formation. “I think you jigger the numbers when I ask you to do that?”

“Do what?” Meeri asked.

“I ask you to pick a number on these joint missions, and if mine is even close someone else goes first anyway.”

“Would I do that to you?” The Ithorian asked with a hurt expression.

“In a heartbeat.”

Meeri shook her head. “I am only surprised that it took you so long to figure it out.”

“All right, just for that I hide the Calla berry syrup!”

“That’s mean.”

Breia shook her head. Yaka had been serious, and careful around humans. Meeri... She was a practical joker. The deadpan delivery was so well done you could rarely tell when she was joking. Her first such jape, replacing Breia’s favorite Fire Spice syrup with Alderaan honey Breia had at first merely assumed was a mistake in commissary services. When it had been replaced with Corellian Night Bloom midway through, that first trip she had finally figured it out.

“Time.” Meeri smoothly accelerated. She touched the com panel, looking at the heads up display. “Independent Echani Courier Flitter-bird requesting docking approach.”

Flitter-bird. Docking bay 17 is open. Welcome to station Kroomerik.”

“They didn’t change the name registry.” Breia mused. I wonder why? Where is the target?”

Meeri checked the scanner. The limpet transmitter that they had fired into the Raptor ’s hull came back just fine. “All systems down. Docking bay 19. Two over starboard.”

“Can we access their nav computer again?”

“I would advise against it.” Meeri commented. “We had best wait until they power back up for departure.”

Breia sighed. Patience was not one of her virtues.

The station was a large wheel about five kilometers across. A docking bay was set about every 100 meters along her 16 kilometers of hull, broken by four huge storage bays. Ever since they had contacted the station, they had been bombarded by the shops of the station. If they had needed anything, it could have been bought here. Breia’s face grew grim as an ad for a ships’ chandler came up. One hell of a lot of ship board and personal weapons were being sold out of that place. She called down for a list, and leaned back, looking it over.

“Aren’t the Merr Sohn G14s on the restricted list?”

“Yes.” Meeri looked at the photo on the pad. The G14 was a heavy projectile rifle that would put a round through the ship they were on. “They are supposed to be military and military export only.”

“And look at this. Arkanian missiles I have never even heard of!”

Meeri looked again. “GT17s.” She looked at Breia with alarm. “Those are so new not even the Arkanian Navy has them!”

“Verpine hyper rifles, Cortech grenades in every flavor-”

“Humans taste grenades?”

“An expression.” Breia looked at her sourly. She could tell she had been twitted yet again. Look at this.” She handed the pad over as they docked.

Another ad was now displayed. It was for a ship retailer. The ad was below a ship that shouldn’t even bee seen yet. “A CEC Swift!” Meeri looked up. “The Swift isn’t even completed yet!”

“I know. Dad is still flying the test models.

“Yet this... ‘Delivery can be arranged by the end of the year‘.”

Breia tapped the pad against her hand. “What do we have bound for Weslen?”

“Nothing. But we do have a package meant for them.” Meeri tapped the logo for the arms dealer they had been checking. “And a few additions to the package would not be amiss.”

“Then we had best get dressed for out little play.”


'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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Old 05-04-2006, 07:09 AM   #83
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Yay! Meeri and Breia are back! Woo hoo! Can't wait to see where this story goes.


Some other really awesome Fanfics: Hidden shades of grey By JasraLantill, The Adventures of Jolee Bindo By Jae Onasi[/size]
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Old 05-05-2006, 01:28 PM   #84
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Investigation

“Captain Breia Magulagi.” Breia said, handing over the ship ID chit. The customs man nodded, slotting it into his reader, and scanned it quickly. Breia had assumed the customs check was merely proforma, but it hadn’t been the case. He checked crew medical records, last port of call in case of disease, and cargo.

“Just the one crate?” He asked as a coffin sized box was lowered.

“Yes. Addressed to Cariali Chandlers. We aren’t going near Taris because of a problem my shipmate has with their customs officials, so we are going to see if they’ll accept here, and trans-ship it.”

“There’s been a lot of that. Ever since Taris decided to turn their continent into one massive city. And their immigration policies.” The customs officer looked at the sullen looking Ithorian with the woman. “If you’d like, I will hold it in the bonded storage area while you contact them.”

“Thank you.” Breia took back the updated chip, slipping it in the pouch before pocketing it. “Where is Cariali located?”

“North 17 right beside the Stars end Cantina.”

“Thank you.” She motioned for Meeri and they walked into the passageway.

“I don’t feel right about leaving the ship unguarded.” Meeri whispered.

“I agree. But A4 will watch over it for us.” Breia replied. The Transit car station was ahead, and she bought two all day chits. The chits slid into the reader, and they boarded the next car.

Behind them, a Dug stuck up his head, then slipped into the bay. He smacked his lips at the sight. A Corellian CEC Shadow class Courier! It might be four years old, but the design was superb! He moved to the entry ramp, and slid a box over to stand on. His burglar tools were laid out, and he looked at them carefully. Then he selected one, and began tinkering with the lock. When the first did not open the ship, he patiently set it aside, picking yet another slimmer tool. After a few moments, there was a hiss, and the ramp dropped down. Grinning, he trundled up the ramp. It closed after him.

*****

The cantina was dark, close, and for Breia who didn’t spend a lot of time in them, exciting. “Want to try some Corellian Red ale?” She asked. “Yaka liked it.”

Meeri glanced at he. “Yaka undoubtedly didn’t tell you that alcohol has no effect on us.”

“Really.”

“Yes, we get our ‘buzz’ as it were from sugar water.”

“Right.” Breia expected that she was being twitted again, looking around. Over in the corner she could see Padawan learner Samsun. but where was...

A hand came up, and Yodai pulled himself up onto Samsun‘s shoulder, growling. Then he climbed down and inhaled a bowl of pretzels. Samsun looked as disreputable as could be, unlike Breia’s persona of a slightly tatty ex-officer. In another corner Padawan Reyes looked even more disreputable. He had his hair uncombed, shaggy, and wore a thermal undershirt with an open neck, Black Corellian Navy uniform pants, and a black vest over it all. All he needs is a Corellian Blood stripe and he’d be perfect. She thought. Carola was propping up the bar almost dead center, looking as if she’s had more than enough to drink.

Breia scanned the bar as her character would. “Meeri, find a table. I’m going next store.”

“As you wish Captain. I‘m thirsty.” Meeri snarled. She was doing the disgruntled employee very well. The martinet she was pretending to be would take care of business first. And she wouldn’t take crap from a crewman. “And if you’re drunk again, I’ll bloody leave you!” She roared. The crowd grew silent.

Meeri didn’t turn. Her hands clenched as if she wished they wee around her captain’s throat, then her head drooped. “Yes, Captain.”

Breia glared at them, then spun and stalked out. Cariali’s was a good sized shop, and she ran her eyes over the display. The law had obviously slipped on the station. At least half of what was there in plain sight was illegal. She walked in, looking around.

A Selonian looked up from the sales terminal, walking across. “Greeting Captain.”

“I have a package for your establishment on Taris, but I am not putting up with racist crap.”

“Ah. From Coronet?”

She pretended to be surprised. The Selonians lived on another world in the Corellian system. “Nearby. The Westfall hills.”

“Nice country.” The sales being said. “Let me see.” He took the chip, went to his desk, and fed it into a reader. “I can take it and send it on. However you cannot be paid full price. You do know the rules.”

“Of course I do.” Breia snarled. “Just log it off and as soon as I pick up a cargo, I’m out of here back toward the Core.”

“Perhaps you can carry something for me? I can pay you well for it.”

“How much cubage?”

“300 cubic meters.”

“We only have about 70 free.”

“Carrying part of the consignment would to pay as well of course, but we can negotiate.” The being handed her a pad, and only nightly games of cards against Meeri kept her eyebrows from rising. Whatever it was, it was either highly illegal, or extremely dangerous.

“What is it?”

“Something you need not concern yourself with considering what you are being paid.” He replied.

Illegal then. She pretended to consider. “All right. Have it sent down to bonded storage when you pick up the package from me. My ship is in bay 19.”

They traded thumbprints, his on an invoice accepting delivery, hers on one accepting consignment.

She walked back to the cantina, ducking as a Toydarian slammed into a bulkhead, and slid down it like a slug. Meeri was at the bar, drinking from a tankard, and growling. Then she turned, addressing the crowd. As she did, her arm caught a Dug, flipping the small being across to slam into another place.

“Washing! How many times do you have to scrub a deck to make it clean?” She turned back and forth as if scanning her audience. “Seven times in three days she had me do it. Seven!”

Breia watched, her face cold. Yodai was bouncing across the compartment, and as he reached the bar Meeri snatched him up. “Wha’s this?”

“Put down my pet, you... Freak!” Samsun had leaped to his feet, charging across the compartment. Meeri flicked the small being aside, and met his rush. They bowled across the deck, people dodging out of the way. They knocked Carola off her feet, fetching up against the table Reyes was at. He leaped up, dumping his beer all over them.

There was a slamming sound, and everyone froze. A Human stood at the bar, looking around mildly. In his hands he held a Coruscanti stun blast, a riot control weapon. As big as he was, he didn’t need it. Only a fool would riot when that huge cold face was nearby. The tankard he held was crumpled by the pressure of his arm as he had slammed it down again.

“I will not have fighting on my station.” He said in a surprisingly soft voice. “If you want to fight, take it off the station. Preferably without a suit or ship.” He walked over, stepping over Carola. “What is that?” He jerked a thumb at Yodai, who was leaping back toward Samsun.

“Mandalorian Bat-ear.” Samsun answered.

“Does it have it’s shots?” When he didn’t get an answer, he added, “From the look on your face, I would say no.” He shook his head. “You can pick it up from quarantine when you lift. You and our drunk friend are spending tonight in the cells. as for you.” He glared at Reyes. “You know station rules about liquids on the deck. Accident is one thing, spilling it intentionally is another. Want a fine or the night in the can?”

Reyes said a word. Something in Hutt that meant father of the same mother. The Constable looked at him mildly. “While Hutt are hermaphrodites, they can’t do that. At least not to themselves. So tonight you get to study them in detail. The only space left is with a Hutt.”

He motioned toward the entryway. But before anyone could move, Carola rolled up, and vomited all over the Constable’s uniform. He looked down at her, shaking his head in disgust. “Tonight is definitely not my night. You, linguist. Pick her up.”

Breia stepped aside, watching her compatriots being dragged off to jail. She considered what she had seen. Someone had found out something important, so they had needed to meet. But why was Yodai trying to get into medical? She went to the bar, and bought a drink.

“Seems like a quiet night.”

“Your crewman shouldn’t drink if she can’t handle it.” The barkeep told her. I’ve never seen Ithorians drink half a gallon of sugar-water and still stand.”

“Sugar water?”

“Didn’t you know? It’s like that 151 proof jet-fuel the Echani bottle to Ithorians. Usually they just fall on the floor and sleep it off. Yours got mean drunk instead.” He shook his head. “That’s a first.”

Breia finished her beer, and strolled out. She checked the station map, found the drunk tank, and headed there. A Constable stopped her checking his log.

“Oh, yeah. Those four. Down below in the cells.” He motioned toward a door. “Herman will escort you.” Herman was another human, looking like a troll in the lighting. He grunted, unlocked the door, and led her down a flight of steps.

The cells were dank and dark. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought it was one of the old dungeons that had been built millennia before on Corellia. All seven were filled with at least three prisoners in each. She passed Reyes who shared a cell with a Hutt and Samsun , then in the next cell was Carola Meeri and a Dug. She crossed her arms, tapping her foot. Meeri looked up, eyes bleary.

“Again.” Breia said.

“Sorry Captain.”

“Got anything to say for yourself?”

Meeri looked at her, one eye dropping in a slow wink. “No excuse.”

“You’ll be scrubbing the head when you get back to the ship.” She warned. “And I’ll take the fine out of your pay.” She turned to Herman. “Keep her overnight. I’ll pay her fine on the way out.”

She paid, marching down the passageway to the tram. Whatever information had prompted the ‘meeting’ hadn’t been passed yet.

She came to the ship, opening the ramp. A4 was waiting her, photoreceptors trained on her.

“Captain, we have an uninvited guest.”

She nodded, following the droid into the cargo compartment. She had gotten this one from a courier captain who had been sick of it. For a while she had wanted to get rid of it herself. When she told it not to do something, or berated it for interrupting, the damn thing would sulk. The sight of a 200 kilo metal and plastic spider moping around because it’s feeling were hurt was a sight you had to see to believe.

The A4 series droids were designed for shipboard use by the Corellian Navy, but had been recalled because of quirks in the programming. The main problem the A4s had was that it downloaded everything in it’s search for knowledge, meaning that it’s main memory core had to be downloaded or cleaned an average of once every other month. Most Naval personnel didn’t like the problem.

There was another problem. The series had a distressing tendency to find ways around problems not suggested by normal procedure. The fact that she found 80% of this A4s suggestions better than the Book hadn’t swayed the navy in the slightest.

Breia on the other hand found it refreshing to have a constant store of information on hand. Instead of wiping the banks periodically, she had instead had a chip writer installed in the damn thing and every time the memory banks got too full, it would download all programs it considered nonessential and stored them in a holder that looked like an egg sac under it‘s rump.

What A4 had retained for constant use was astonishing, suggesting to her that the droid might be self aware. If so it was a first. Except for some self protection software, the machine shouldn’t worry about itself at all.

When it had accessed a prototype B9 Police droid on Station Delta 4 a few years before it had also downloaded all of it‘s defense and offense protocols. That had caused the addition of a stun rod, a Corellian S class rifle with frangible bullets, and a roll of restraint tape. On this mission, it had decided that it could watch the ship for her, and she had agreed more to shut it up than anything else.

The Dug was wrapped like a fly in a spider’s web, and was hanging by a thread of restraint tape from an overhead beam. He glared at her.

“That thing threatened me!” He squealed.

“It did?” She looked at A4. The two front legs of the droid had come up at sharp angles in front of it, and the pedipalps which were actually tool using extensions were clicking together. She should have never told the damn thing about real spiders. It must have downloaded everything in the memory banks about them. The legs and pedipalp movements were right out of a Hook-spider threat reaction. For something big enough to eat you if it were alive, it did look dangerous.

“Maybe it felt you didn’t belong?” She asked. “Well, before I toss you out of the airlock, have you any last words?”

“No!” It shivered, looking past her at the droid.

“Why not? Obviously you came aboard to steal my ship. Where I come from that is a death sentence offense.” She pretended to consider. “However if you told me who sent you and why?”

“No one send.“ He answered. “Cariali’s would buy if I could get it.”

Ah. She left the compartment, coming back with a pot of tea and a chair. She poured, leaning back against the bulkhead. “Then tell me everything you know about Cariali’s business here.” She nodded toward A4. “He has a lie detector built in. The first lie, I warn you, the second?” She jerked a thumb toward the hatchway “You learn to breath vacuum.”


'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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Old 05-05-2006, 09:47 PM   #85
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Good reading, as always.

Interesting to see where you're going with A4. Sounds like the droid has become even more beneficial to have around than it was in Republic Dawn.


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Old 05-05-2006, 10:05 PM   #86
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Does anyone else hear Marvin the Paranoid Android's voice when reading A4's lines?


Let's kill ourselves.
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Old 05-06-2006, 01:47 AM   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Good reading, as always.

Interesting to see where you're going with A4. Sounds like the droid has become even more beneficial to have around than it was in Republic Dawn.
We are still in Republic Dawn. This next segment is going to end with the Jedi calling a conference of the GTA and unaligned planets suggesting the formation.

In the two segments ,part one and 2, you will notice a lot of the problems were political. It wasn't until the Jedi discovered the gas was being manufactured that everyone started pulling together. In this one there's going to be problems because action is occurring in unaligned space systems. When the Jedi decide to act, they are going to be berated because GTA has no authority, and none of the core planets do either.

As for A4, I needed a computer that could talk and do a lot of analysis on his own. But as I said in another story, I can;t see having a character I'm not willing to use. Such problems as I had described do happen. I had my computer hung up with no memory for almost a year because a program that saved an emergency back up used almost six gigs of memory just for one file.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hallucination
Does anyone else hear Marvin the Paranoid Android's voice when reading A4's lines?
If you do, don't be surprised. I was picturing either MArvin or Droopy Dog when I write his dialogue.


'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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Old 05-07-2006, 12:52 PM   #88
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Preparation

Master Hontu came out of hyper, and approached the station. Sienna was on watch, hands on the controls. “This is Freighter Coruscant Glory on approach.” She reported.

Coruscant Glory do you have cargo for this station?“

“Negative. We are just stopping to load additional stores. and some R&R.“

“Very good, Coruscant Glory. You are cleared for bay 40. Welcome to station Kroomerik.”

“Thank you Kroomerik. Coruscant Glory clear.” She tapped the annunciator, and the pilot came forward. “Be ready.” She warned.

Aft Master Hobart and the assault team leaders were gathered around the mess table, looking at the hologram. It showed the station as a series of decks, rotating. One dot blinked red. “All right, the Raptor is here. So far we have no reports that it is getting ready to leave. The limpet transmitter has the ship as inactive.” The hologram jumped in, showing the same type of view of the ship.

“The crew of a Raptor is sixty men. No launch bays, but there are two cargo bays large enough to stash the fighters in.” Sienna looked at the hologram. “Probably they came here to on load some new fighters?”

“Perhaps. But from where?” Padawan Solon asked, his Lekku weaving slightly. “For that matter where did they find the funding? This outfit makes no sense to me.”

There was a grunt of agreement. Most pirates merely took merchant vessels and had extra weapons installed. The Jedi had broken up a ring of such pirates just two years before. But even the most paranoid merchant captain tended to spend the money on weapons rather than fighters. At over 10 thousand credits each, they were a great defense, but too expensive. Only the larger lines had tried it before now.

Even as old as it was, the ship was still formidable. Fast enough to chase down most modern freighters, though slower than the newer light ones. Her weapons and systems could easily be upgraded.

But only a madman would use a warship as a pirate. You couldn’t sidle up to a station pretending to be a merchant, and loading up on fighter missiles and large amounts of chain gun ammunition through a civilian outlet rather than a base of your navy would be a give away. It was actually less expensive to arm a merchant ship than it was to rip the weapons out of even the smallest warship. Even then why pay for something with almost no cargo space?

Ships the size of a Raptor rarely ended up on the open market unless you consider transferring them from one planetary government fleet to another. New they cost just under a million credits each. The only other possible buyer would be a corporation. Only corporations had the wherewithal to buy them at a quarter million credits each. But that begged the question of why a corporate vessel would be here. According to their records of Wayfarer Corporation, the owners of the station, hadn’t bought any ships of that design. They had bought Coruscanti Swift Class corvettes. In fact only three of the smaller Colonial navies used Raptors right now. None had been reported missing.

Besides, sale of castoff warships was tightly regulated. No one had found a way around those safeguards. Until now.

“How many of this class were built?” Hobart asked.

“Sixty-four.” Padawan Learner Coroy replied. An Arkanian, he was the resident expert on military ordinance. “All but seven are still in service. Nineteen serve in the Arkanian Navy, twenty serve in the Alderaani Customs and patrol service. Ten, all under Corporate flags are assigned to the Ando blockade squadron, the last eight make up the entire Lortuai home fleet.”

“What happened to the seven no longer in service?” Sienna asked, staring at the bulkhead with a curious expression.

“One was lost at the battle of Sullust about 30 years ago. One was rammed by a liner and scrapped. One was expended as target by the Corellian navy, four decommissioned and scrapped.”

“Are we sure they were actually scrapped?” She pressed.

“According to records, yes.” Coroy said.

“My family is always leery of the breaker’s yard.” She said. As the youngest daughter of Admiral Mara Dodonna, granddaughter of retired Fleet Admiral Freido Dodonna, with more officers in her family than any other family on Corellia could claim, she was the expert in this. “The only thing worse in their minds are the suppliers. You see, If they merely slag it down all they get is the scrap metal price. About 500 credits a ton. But if they strip it out, they get a lot more for the separate systems. The computers are easy to wipe and reuse, commo gear and control molycircs, all worth more as units rather than being recycled. A colony just starting would be well off if they could score some of that.” She considered. “The only thing they couldn’t just put on market is the weapons. There are four chain gun turrets four launch tubes. Worth a pretty good amount. But they have to sell them back to the navy, or to someone the navy has authorized to purchase them.

“Every BuShips’ officer’s nightmare is that a ship will slide through the yards without being scrapped out. The ship may be almost 50 years old, but that doesn’t make them worthless for their designed function. A pirate could take over an out of the way colony with that much firepower.” She nodded. “I’m just trying to think who I should contact? Papa or Mama.” Her father was the Judge Advocate General of the fleet, her Mother in charge of design and construction for BuShips.

“Let’s either find out which ship it is, or capture it first.” Hobart demurred. “No reason to get Corellia all upset until we do.” He nibbled on his lip pensively.

“There’s another problem.” Solon said. “I asked for a download of the Station laws. I wanted to be sure our warrant from Corellia was valid.” He looked up. “It is not.”

“What?” Hobart looked as if he’d been told gravity didn’t exist.

“The Station legal preamble begins with ‘Local legal situations are covered in Corporate regulations. All other laws superceded‘.” He turned the pad, and let them read it. Hobart flipped down several pages. “ Listen to this. ‘All claims by planets regarding the seizure of a ship or crew for crimes committed outside Corporate jurisdiction must be first cleared through the Station Constabulary office, and local justice before action. All such requests and the hearings for service of such warrants must be publicly delivered. No warrants maybe served, or action taken for them, until the hearing has been held‘.”

Sienna's head bent. She was the legal expert. “Which means that all I would have to do as captain of that bloody Raptor is have a man in either the Constabulary or the Justice’s office. As soon as they know such a warrant has been filed, they can bolt away, leaving us sitting while the hearing drags on.” She looked at him. “Or we could send a message torpedo. Have a Corellian frigate pop up to take possession.”

Hobart, who had been paging down shook his head. “The Corporation has assigned two Swifts here, Rapid and Surprise. Both in are in their docking bays. If a Corellian Frigate were to arrive, according to these regulations, the Corporation has permission to order the ship out of the system if they will not obey Corporate regulations. Let’s see, yes, as I thought; ‘Any attempt to either force ships to remain on the station, or stop other ships from using the station will be considered an illegal blockade; an act of war under Interstellar law, by the planet owning the vessel. Any attempts by such vessels to remain after being ordered to depart can be dealt with as the Manager and/or Captains of such defensive vessels see fit’.” He looked at his strike team.

“We must either obey the letter of this regulation, or we have to convince them to leave the station and go somewhere we can take them.”

“But they would know we must have followed them if we suddenly ask for their arrest here!” Coroy retorted. “The limpet transmitter may have LPI capability, but if they know we followed them, they will find it.” The Low Probability of Intercept communications gear was still considered top secret by the Corellian navy. They had been allowed to use it only because Sienna had asked her parents.

“If they think they’re caught, they’ll self destruct.” Sienna pushed. “We haven’t gotten more than serial numbers off the fighters so far. To break this, we need to capture it. Facing them here, we’ll have a chance. But an aware Escort trying to escape will hand us our heads. We have to take her here or let her go. We don’t have another option I can see.”

Hobart brought up the information on the ship again. “Sixty man crew. All together we’re outnumbered by about four to one.” He commented. “We can win, but they will self destruct and we can't risk the station and it‘s personnel. We can wait until they pull out-”

“I have another idea.” Sienna said. “We take them down while still here, and deliver ship and all back to Corellia.”

“And how do we do that?” Coroy asked.

“I just walk aboard, trip the intruder/mutiny system, and we fly her out.”

“Can’t be done.” Solon said. “My men don’t know where the intruder systems are on that ship!”

“I do. Mama commanded one of the last ones built, and I... accidentally activated it one Fleet Week when I was four.”

“Accidentally.” Hobart’s comment wasn’t a question.

She grinned. “I saw this big red button on the command chair, and pushed it. Next thing I know every blast door was sealed, and everyone is getting hit with puke-gas. I might have gotten off on it but when we were in the engine room, I saw another emergency button and hit it too!” She shook her head. “Boy did I get a spanking for that!”

They chuckled. “What if they have something a little more lethal than that?” Solon asked.

“I think if someone had run off with half a ton of CN20 nerve gas, that would have set off alarms.” She retorted.

“Lay out your plan, for us.” Hobart ordered. She began with getting aboard, walked through what she intended to do, and ended with lifting off. Each of the others gave suggestions, and she incorporated some of them into the plan. But she was adamant that she had to go alone.

“One mere slip of a girl who is space crazy getting aboard might be taken for a lark.” She warned. “But two or even three would look too suspicious.”

“I would rather someone else do this.” Hobart commented when she had finished.

“No one of our people on the station or aboard ship looks as helpless as I do.“ She replied. “Besides, have I ever been wrong before?”

“No, but there is always a first time.”

“If you honestly think I can’t handle it master-”

“Will you stop fishing for compliments?” He asked plaintively. “All right. When do you want to do it?”

“I was hoping to borrow Padawan Solo’s A4. After I have talked to her, I can set a specific time.”


'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?

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What we die for...
Acceptance
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Star Wars: The Beginning
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Old 05-08-2006, 10:53 PM   #89
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So. Set off the mutiny/intruder system and gas any crew that is aboard? I hope Sienna has a gas mask or utilizes the Jedi-ability to hold her breath for a long time. If you haven't guessed I'm not clear on how the plan will work but I'm sure you will clear things up for me in the next chapter. Please don't interpret this as I don't like the story or anything along those lines. Republic Dawn is still great reading.


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Old 05-08-2006, 11:48 PM   #90
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I had considered that, CM. But there's more here than meets the eye...


'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
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Old 05-09-2006, 11:11 AM   #91
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The operational report

Breia was just closing the ramp when a sweet honey voice asked in a breathless tone. “Oh! Is that a Shadow?”

She turned. Sienna Dodonna stood there. She was dressed in her best outfit, at least for this assignment. It was a snug fitting vermilion top with two diamond shaped cut outs. One started at her shoulders, running down to about ten millimeters below her breasts, the other started there, running down to connect at her hips showing an expanse of well toned flesh. There was no reason for the full sleeves she could see except to accentuate what was exposed. The bottom was so small she looked as if she had merely forgotten to put on her clothes, going about in her foundation garments.

To give lip service to propriety, a cinnamon red skirt of smoke-cloth ran to her ankles. But since smoke cloth as the name implies, is almost transparent, it only obscured the knee-high boots she wore.

Breia grunted. “Of course it’s a Shadow.”

“Could I see... Inside it?” She asked. If you went by her face and that voice, you’d think she didn’t have two brain cells in that blonde head.

Breia gave a much put upon sigh, and opened the ramp again, motioning the girl up it with an exasperated grimace. Sienna didn’t walk up the ramp, she strutted. Any man watching her from the back would have been captivated by the walk. Only Breia caught the slight wink. She sighed again, looked at her chrono as if to say I don’t have time for this and followed.

“Greetings, Padawan teacher.” Sienna dropped the act the instant the ramp came back up. Now she merely looked like an intense woman with odd taste in proper apparel.

“You know that is really quite good. The vacant expression suits you.”

“Sorry.” Sienna was not in the least apologetic. “When you look like a working man’s dream of a blonde air-headed bimbo, it helps to pretend.” She held out a chip. “If I can borrow your A4, we’ve already got a plan to take the Raptor."

“Hobart does know we can’t legally.” Breia stated.

“Yes. We’ve decided that perhaps an act of piracy is called for.”

Breia considered, then nodded. “I can see why that is an option. But what about the Cariali warehouse?”

“What?”

Breia waved her over to the mess table. “A4, play the recordings.”

The droid marched over, and a holo of a case appeared. Then the camera angle split into ten different pictures. Before asked, it began bringing them up as full screens when they passed something of importance. “The crate was picked up yesterday, delivered to the bonded warehouse, then accepted by the local Cariali factor. He had it sent to his own storage warehouse. If you will notice-” Two of the screens blew up to almost full size.

Sienna leaned forward intently. ‘Those crates. They look like... Corellian arms cases.”

“Correct.” The cameras zoomed in. The barcodes were scanned, and a third screen flashed up.

“Merr Sohn Type 7s.” Breia commented. “In that one Type 14B fighter missiles. They can be fitted to just about any fighter Corellia ever built with a little adjustment. Keep going.”

The screens showed a mass of weapons that should never have left a Military arsenal. Missiles both ship to ship and fighter launched. hand weapons from pistols to tripod mounted cannon. While a lot was Corellian the rest were Coruscanti and Twi-lek.

The crate was dropped off, and the small bugs deployed their miniature tilt rotor wings, and split up. One landed on a computer console, cutting a tiny hole to climb inside. It found a data port, and melted a connection onto the fiber optic lead.

“I ran the programs aboard. The inventory is extensive. Including these.” Eight Bat class Coruscanti fighters.

Sienna hissed. “Those haven’t even entered squadron service!”

“Well I know it.” Breia motioned to the teapot, and Sienna nodded. She took the cup, sipping. Her eyes bulged. “My gods! Echani fire spice!”

“Yes. I enjoy it.”

“I can’t even drink it aboard the ship!” Sienna sipped, sighing. “Master Hobart was injured a year ago, right before I became his apprentice. His stomach can’t stand it any more, even though he likes it. So I won’t drink in around him out of sympathy.” She sipped, looking pensively at the screens. “So a corporate chain is also part of this?”

“Maybe. It might be they were supplying illegal weapons before, and we didn’t notice it until we checked their operations here.”

Sienna shook her head. “Too many similarities between the operations for that to be likely. Both with access to either restricted equipment or high end modern ordinance. Can there really be two operations this well connected and this secret?”

“Stranger things have happened.” Breia warned. “So how does this affect your plan for the Raptor?”

“We have no choice.” Sienna said softly. “As bad as this is, we can’t let that ship leave and continue slaughtering people.” She shook herself. “Perhaps you can handle the Cariali situation on your own.”

“I think not.” Breia retorted. “This is too big, and goes too deep.” She considered. “The cargo they have consigned to my ship is due later today. Perhaps I can deliver it, and find out more.”

Sienna nodded. “I will inform Master Hobart. Then, I think I will meet the other Padawan. Where will you all be?”

“The Stars end Cantina.”

“I will see you all there later this evening. I have other ships to look at.” She put on that brainless look again. “Did you know there’s a Twi-lek Soorbino on the station?” She gushed.

“Spare me.” Breia snapped. then they both began laughing.

*****
The cargo arrived, and Breia noted the contents as it was loaded aboard. The crew that did the loading were the usual disreputable types you might have expected. She thumb-printed the invoice after checking the cubage, then went aboard, sealing the ramp.

“A4, what did we just accept?”

“Only one crate is alarming.” The droid flashed up the barcode.

Breia looked, her mind tried to scan the code, but it didn’t register. “841 prefix, I haven’t seen it before.”

“I have.” A4 replied laconically. “That is a bioweapon prefix.”

“Any idea what?”

“Iridian plague.” She glared at the droid. “The Corellian military did studies about ten years ago of converting the plague into an easily spread form. They abandoned the tests. There was no cure for the variety they created.”

Breia cursed. “This changes things.”

“On the contrary, Padawan, it helps.” A4 drawled. On the screen, a series of crates were earmarked to be loaded. She saw her own face, and ship, then the destination.

“Ando?” Breia asked.

“The home of a race named the Aqualish.” A4 reported. “To be delivered not ot the planet, but to the fleet blockading it. Your cargo includes the weapon you are both speaking of.”

“So we deliver a deadly...” She froze. “Come quick!”

She raced back, reaching with that skill she had used on Delta station.

There was no timer. Instead a sensor that would have detected two hyper transits, one entering, and one leaving had been attached to the tank. If she had left the station, it would have automatically activated. She ran her hands over the seals. Simple customs seals. Since they didn’t have to be unloaded until delivery... She drew out a small knife. Made by a Jedi smith, it sheared through the customs seals. Then she stopped, running her hands over the crate looking just a little deeper...

Light sensitive diode right there. Any light at all would set off an explosive charge destroying the case and the one opening it. Not to mention killing everyone aboard with the plague. “A4, get the lights.”

The lights went off, but there was still a spill from the passageway. “Close the hatch as well.”

Suddenly it was pitch black. She pulled the top off of the box, running her hand blindly along the wires leading from it to the explosive charge, her Jedi senses identifying what her fingers touched. Five wires. This leads to the auto-release. Cut it and the bug is released in here. This one leads to... Ah, a trap wire. Cut it and the charge gets a shock from the capacitor on the other end. This one, leads no where. This one has a trickle charge. cut it and the capacitor flashes. This one. She started reaching down, then stopped. She stepped to the other end of the box. Only three wires led to it, the primary, the booby trap, and another one running to another booby trap. She instead cut the capacitor loose, dropping it on the deck. Then she went forward, removing the light sensitive diode. She was holding it up when suddenly the bay was brightly lit.

She cursed, spinning to face the hatch. Meeri looked at her confused.
“If you had been three seconds earlier...” Her hands began to shake. So close...

Meeri looked at the device then Breia’s hands, and walked over slipping the blade out of her hand. “Perhaps it would be better for me to work, and you direct me. At least until your shaking subsides.”

Breia gave a barkr of laughter. A panic reaction. “Yes. An excellent idea.”

They worked together for almost half an hour. When every timer, activator, explosive and booby trap had been removed, they went into the mess hall. Meeri silently poured her a Corellian Red, pouring another for herself.

“Wait a minute. I thought you got drunk on Sugar water!”

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Meeri asked with such an innocent expression that Breia had to laugh.

“From you, you misshapen lump!”

“Oh that.” Meeri waved a hand. “When we first met your people, some of them tried to get us drunk. But our tolerance for alcohol is very high. An Ithorian merely gets more calm when we drink. About five times what a human could drink. When we get what you would call drunk, we just fall asleep.” She chugged the brew, and opened another. “So when we figured out what the people were trying to do, get us drunk so they could get us to sign deals, that kind of thing, we let one of them see one of our people chugging sugar water, then acting how humans act when drunk.

“It helps to know it, because if someone buys us a drink and we taste it, we know immediately how honest they are. If they asked us of course, we accept it to be polite.”

“And what effect does sugar water actually have on you?”

“Actually it give us the runs.” Meeri waved. “But it is worth it to get some deals signed that we needed.”

Breia looked at her hand. It was still trembling. “I drink, if you notice, to be polite, companionable, and...” She lifted her hand, watching it shimmy. “When I am scared out of my tiny little mind.”

“Considering what is in that crate...” Breia shivered. All that medical science could do for the Iridian plague was either preventive, or palliative. If it was known to be in a population, you immediately dosed everyone who wasn’t showing frank symptoms and hope for the best. If they did show symptoms, you tried to keep them alive. With no medial assistance, there was a 100% fatality rate. With it, the death toll was only 85%. But once it was released, no one in their right mind-

Not to the planet, but to the fleet blockading it.

Iridian plague had a long incubation period. It took as much as a month for frank symptoms to occur, but it was already infectious by inhalation less than a week after infection. The ships communicated by radio of course, but they had weekly meetings of the commanders...

And a week after I deliver this, they are all infected. Three weeks later, so are all of the ships that delivered supplies. So are the ports of the planets they came from.

Once it broke out, each of those planets would go under full quarantine, along with the stations that served them How far would it go before someone fell ill and they noticed? The entire core, hell, every system a ship serviced could be infected!

Meanwhile no one can spare the energy to help the fleet. They die. No one is watching the Aqualish... This is bad.[/i]

“We’ll have to go to the Cantina We have to make sure the others know.”

“Can I avoid going to jail again?” Meeri asked plaintively. “Have you ever had the runs in a cell with two other people?”

“I try to avoid being in jail, myself.” Breia replied calmly. “Maybe you should follow my sterling example.”

Meeri’s answer was subvocal.


'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
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Old 05-09-2006, 11:28 AM   #92
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Very interesting. As you said, developments have forced the Jedi to alter their initial plans. Well, at least I think they've been altered anyway. If the opposition has access to such advanced weaponry as well as highly effective bio-weapons, one should absolutely take those factors into account when forming a plan to neutralize one's enemy.

I always enjoy the high level of technical detail you employ in your writing. I don't always understand it, depending on the type of issue, but I appreciate the effort taken to give the story that added level of realism.


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Old 05-09-2006, 11:40 AM   #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister

I always enjoy the high level of technical detail you employ in your writing. I don't always understand it, depending on the type of issue, but I appreciate the effort taken to give the story that added level of realism.
CM, As an old writer said 'I write for me'. Meaning the first reader who has to enjoy it and not lose his suspension of disbelief is me. I am what my wife and my old friends at fair would call a research slut. I spent two weeks researching chemical weapons in High school for an 8 page report. I only got a C+ because he didn't like my argument on the morality of them;
(If someone has them, a general on that side has already decided how to use them. Just give him the chance.)

I read Everything except romances and westerns and I retain a lot of it. So when I write something like that disarming sequence, I reach into that part of my mind that remembers EOD (Explosive Ordinance Detail) and built the nastiest bomb I could imaging disarming. I even drew a small line mock-up of it.

Oh yeah, when I used to DM in D&D? They feared my traps more than anything else.


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Old 05-10-2006, 12:49 AM   #94
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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?

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Old 05-10-2006, 03:52 AM   #95
Jae Onasi
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I was gone for a conference so it took me awhile to catch up.
The bar scenes are hilarious. The dresses are even better.
Yeah, I can see all the players fearing your traps as DM. Nasty.
I'm enjoying the mystery development.
There aren't too many stories I'd stay up til nearly 2am to read, you know, but this is one.


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Last edited by Jae Onasi; 05-10-2006 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 05-10-2006, 11:26 AM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
.
There aren't too many stories I'd stay up til nearly 2am to read, you know, but this is one.
Jae, this is the second highest praise i have ever gotten as a writer. Thank you.


'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?

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Old 05-10-2006, 12:59 PM   #97
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Very entertaining. Yodai the "animal," heh-heh-heh. Breia in a callgirl's "uniform" too. Some great imagery in that chapter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Oh yeah, when I used to DM in D&D? They feared my traps more than anything else.
From the intrigue and detail you use in your stories I have no doubt of that whatsoever.
Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Jae, this is the second highest praise i have ever gotten as a writer. Thank you.
What was the greatest praise you ever received?


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Old 05-10-2006, 06:57 PM   #98
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Quote:
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Very entertaining. Yodai the "animal," heh-heh-heh. Breia in a callgirl's "uniform" too. Some great imagery in that chapter.

Sienna had a reason for that as you will discover in the next posting. Ypu'll probably think it's hilarious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
What was the greatest praise you ever received?
When I finally had a book published (Through PublishAmerica, Named Gryphonrider) I sent my mother a copy. She had always refused to read my work, and to tell you the truth, having a writer that closely related refuse to read you work hurt me deeply.

But her e-mail made up for it. 'I have never read a first novel so well polished and perfect in my life'.

Sadly she died in 2004. I have the only copes extant of about five of her works, one of which is already out of print.


'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?

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What we die for...
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KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
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Old 05-11-2006, 06:48 AM   #99
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A great job so far Machievelli. I really like Breia and Merri. Keep up the great work, and I am sorry about your Mother.


Some other really awesome Fanfics: Hidden shades of grey By JasraLantill, The Adventures of Jolee Bindo By Jae Onasi[/size]
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Old 05-11-2006, 01:04 PM   #100
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Investigations

Sienna walked toward the front desk, watching the guard watch her. Ever since she was sixteen, she had noticed that the male eye followed her like a tracking sensor if she was close enough to really see. Even the other Apprentices had that problem. If she were to pass by men would drop heavy weights, trip over their own big feet, or end up in hospital because they forgot to duck, or watch where they were going.

She had decided, like any woman with such exquisite and efficient sexual armament; to use it. While others just considered raiding the kitchen, she did, successfully.

If she had been a glutton she would have gone from size four to size 14 during her last year. Since her actual passion with food was Echani Fire tea and Hutt Sweet grass tea, she had kept that figure.

She had noticed that the females had just as many problems but in a different way. The fastest way to heat up one of her fellow apprentices, or chill them down to absolute zero if that was the way they dealt with it, was to have her around. The same effect she had noticed went through the Masters at her arrival. The older they were, the less likely they would react, but it was true.

What master (At least Male masters) would ever challenge her? But if she asked for anything from a female master, it would be a cold day in the hells before she got it.

She suddenly realized that Breia Solo had been different in that regard. She had been upset about the clothes of course. Sienna had chosen them after all because she knew Breia would look stunning in them. Not to mention that she expected the woman to go berserk after having to wear them. It was something she had started doing in self defense when dealing with fellow female Jedi.

But instead Breia had merely dressed, whispered dire threats, and gone on with the mission.

She found she liked that a lot. Besides Breia had something she didn’t. She looked down. The one part of her body she would have changed was still smaller. She sighed. Genetics be damned, she thought she would better looking if those changed.

No matter. On to business. She smiled at the guard, probably giving him a slight heart attack. “Sienna Dodonna to see Admiral Dodonna.” She said.

“Uh, yeah.” He punched at the panel in front of him. Since he hadn’t moved his eyes from her, he was just tapping the plastic to no avail.

“Why don’t you look down.” She grinned. “Or did you want me standing here all day?”

He blushed, finally tearing his eyes away from her. “Which Admiral Dodonna?”

“Siriali Dodonna.” She said. “My mother.”

That at least hadn’t changed. If she mentioned that her mother or father were Admirals, a lot of Military men lost their ardor immediately. Others seemed to draw strength from it, but everything has a trade off. He flipped through the index. “Admiral Siriali Dodonna is at lunch with Admiral Freigar Dodonna.” He said. He ran a chip through the scanner, handing it to her. “Level 35 section J.”

“I’ll tell them you were so helpful.” She looked at his collar. “Sergeant..?”

“Brasco, Ma’am.”

“Sergeant Brasco.” She repeated. “Thank you.” She walked past him to the lifts. “Level 35 Section J.” She said. The lift shot up and to the side, smoothly stopping at the station. She stepped out, and a sprite appeared in front of her, dipping once in midair then moving at a walking pace down the corridor. She followed after it until it flashed again, and vanished. The door read Flag Officer’s mess. She sighed, opening the door.

A Lieutenant looked up, standing. “You can’t...” He started, then the voice died. Right then she could have ordered the most expensive dinner in the place and he would have beggared himself to pay for it.

She took pity on him. “I came to see my parents, the Admirals Dodonna. They are expecting me.”

He fumbled for his pad, and tore his eyes away from her as he scanned. “Bondar or Siriali?” He asked.

“Bondar is my uncle.”

If anything he was even more flustered. Having one Admiral as a relative was bad enough. Should she mention that five of the present admirals were related to her? That seven of the retired ones were? She decided not to.

“Cubicle seven.” He turned. “That’s-”

“I know where it is, thank you.” She walked past him. She could feel his eyes like laser designators. At least that part of her body didn’t need any augmentation.

The door opened, and her mother leaped to her feet. The act would have astonished anyone who knew her. Siriali Dodonna had gotten the nickname Ice Princess when she had commanded the 4th fleet. She found herself sinking into the hug sigh a sigh of contentment. She wished other women could react at least partially like this around her.

“Welcome home!” Her mother whispered, kissing her on the cheek. “We were expecting you, but not this early.” She stepped back, taking her daughter's hand, and led her to the table. Her father stood and hugged her as well. He was a bit disappointed in her she knew. Instead of following family tradition, she had never trod a deck in uniform. The Jedi robes she wore, the most sedate set she had in fact, didn’t count.
“Well.” He held her away, making a visual inspection. “They’re still feeding you I see. Ready for some lunch?”

“If it can be a working lunch, Papa.” She said. “I came on Jedi business.”

The pair looked at each other. “It concerns the navy?”

“Definitely.” She sat, picking up the menu. “Remember what you once said Mama about not trusting the Breaker’s yards? Well we found something that might interest you greatly...”

*****

Across the city of Coronet, the same scene with slight variations was being played out. At the Headquarters building of the Corellian Special Intelligence Service, a young woman was having a bit more trouble.

“No, I don’t have an appointment. I have come on Jedi business.” Breia said. “I need to see Minister Solo, and I need to see her now.”

“If you could tell me your business?” She merely glared at him. The man shook his head. “I know all of you kids think we’re all out drinking at parties if we’re not seducing someone, but Minister Solo is a very busy woman. So unless you want to tell me why, I can’t even set an appointment for you.” He had the smarmy look of a petty bureaucratic frog in a very small pond.

Breia looked at him coldly. “Forrestal.” She said. Before he could react, the panel in front of him bleeped. He looked at it, then tapped another button. Behind her she could hear the blast doors slamming down. She watched him as he pulled up a ‘Room Broom’ and aimed it at her as a dozen men poured into the atrium. They stormed over, a bristling array of weapons aimed at her. Then one of the men lowered his weapon.

“By the gods, Miss Solo. Do we have to go through this crap every time you enter the building?” He asked. The men with him lowered their weapons, looking at the man that had spoken.

“As often as you have idiots on the front desk, Major Tori, yes.”

“She wouldn’t-” The secretary started to say.

“She doesn’t need to you twit.” Tori snapped. “That is Breia Solo of the Jedi monastery. Daughter of Minister Solo.”

Breia smiled coldly as the bureaucrat suddenly went ice white. She leaned forward. “Name.”

Uh, Brenner Foss.”

“Well Brenner Foss, I hope you like that desk. You may end up sitting there until you retire.” She looked to Tori. “Major I believe my mother is expecting me?”

“You’re right about that. Tori waved and the men with him headed back into the concealing panels. Breia walked past the desk, and under escort went to the lift. Tori tapped the button. “Executive A.” He said. “Have a better day than he did, Miss.”

“Thank you Major.”

Breia stood patiently as the left took her to the floor given. To the uninitiated, the building and offices would have been forbidding. There were no markers on the doors or walls. No way to tell where you were in the building, or whether you were above ground or below. If you didn’t belong in the building, you needed an escort.

Breia stepped out, walked right to the next corridor, left at the one after that, then right until she ran out of hall. The wall itself shifted, and she walked into an airy office. The windows showed only a night sky. Since it was broad daylight outside, it merely told her that the windows were actually view screens.

“I should have never taught you that code.“ A voice said from the desk. “And I had such high hopes for Foss.” Breia walked forward, and her mother met her halfway. They hugged silently.

“How is father?” Breia asked.

“Not to good.” Holani admitted. Only someone who had known her as long as Breia did could have seen the pain in her face. “Ever since the accident...” She wiped her eyes, turning back to the desk. “You could have easily called me for that information. What do the Jedi need of me this time?”

“Mother, we captured a Raptor class escort after it attempted to take our decoy ship in the Seldon system. It carried A Naboo A4 Streak. Two Corellian Rampants, and an Alderaani Night Hawk.

“We tracked it to Station Kroomerik where we also found that the local factor for the Cariali Chandler’s Company was supplying a lot of hardware they shouldn’t have access to. Including Bat class fighters.

“We took the ship after it took off from Kroomerik and it is at the Monastery right now.” She set down the pad. “They have a small squadron. A pair of Wasps and a Crasbashti along with two armed merchantmen. Very well armed ships.”

“May I?” Breia nodded, and Holani picked up the pad and read. Breia sat across from her. It took several minutes, but Breia knew it was because her mother read it more than once. She read it at least twice more, making notes on her own pad the second and third times.

“And cargo headed for Ando?”

“Some of it. The rest was going to the fleet. Iridian plague virus weaponized right here ten years ago. And the ship had an addition to it’s mutiny system. CN20.”

Holani watched her, then thumbed a contact. “Seela, contact the DSI. Tell him it’s an emergency.”

“Madam-”

“Tell him someone has sold CN20 and samples of Operation Firestorm.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“What did the other 200 odd cubic meters consist of? As if I didn‘t know?”

“Enough weapons to outfit a Raider Battalion.”

“So, the Aqualish are part of this.”

Breia nodded. Most times a first contact was relatively peaceful, though they could go horribly wrong. One of the worst first contacts had happened barely fifteen years before. A Corporate vessel had discovered the planet Ando, where two species, one aquatic, the other land bound, lived. The Quara and the Aquala, land and sea dwellers respectively had ended their generations long feud to join forces long enough to slaughter the crew of that ill fated vessel.

Using it, they had attacked other ships near their system, building a tidy fleet before one of them had been stupid enough to attack a Corellian liner. That ship had escaped, and a punitive squadron had arrived. the ships had been recaptured, the planet interdicted. Unfortunately the governments involved couldn’t justify such an expense, and had turned the blockade over to four corporations, three Corellian, one Coruscanti.

Holani called up the holographic readout. “Ando, full data.” She ordered.

“Non-cleared citizen in office-”

“Case Omega.” Holani snapped.

The computer mulled it over. She was after all DDSO, Deputy Director of Special Operations. The holo blossomed into a water world with about 30% land. Above it, ships in four colors moved. The planet had been divided into four quadrants as well in each of the colors. A massive station floated in a geosynchronous orbit.

Breia stood, walking over to stand beside her mother. “Which corporations are part of this?”

“The Corellian corporations are in red for Capistan, blue for Androin, and green for Kasmarak. The Coruscanti company is Wayfarer.”

“End Holo!” A voice screamed. Director Maron glared at Holani, then at her daughter.

“Bandying code word material in front of a civilian? Giving code word information over the net? I’ll have your job for this Solo!”

“Director, my daughter was reporting to me concerning all of that.” Holani replied levelly. “And the Jedi have samples of both sitting on their landing pad right now.”

“You dared to-”

“Oh shut up.” Breia snapped. The man’s face purpled. “Are you going to keep screaming false accusations or are you going to listen to the report?”

Moran huffed, then threw himself into a seat. Breia ran through it all again. He stiffened as she reported the mass of weapons the Cariali factor had in his possession.

“The crate might have had something other than the plague virus you claim.” Moran kibitzed. “A false trail to lead you back here.”

“No.” Breia merely looked at him. “We were able to draw off a sample. Meeri, my Padawan Learner is in quarantine until we are sure she is safe. But it is Iridian Plague. The nerve gas was installed in a Raptor class escort as a mutiny/boarding defense. Whoever did it wanted to make sure that the crew died. Enroute here we discovered three different explosive charges that were set to explode under specific conditions. Those conditions were if it came into the Corellian Coruscant or Ryloth systems. The radar returns that would activate it match exactly the defensive nets of those three planets.

“We took both of them from pirates pure and simple. Those are the facts. As for ‘Firestorm’, if I had merely delivered it to it’s destination...” She waved toward the now cleared holo image, “About fifty thousand people would be dying in that system alone.” She walked over, glaring at him from a two meter distance. “So if you want this ‘civilian’ to walk out and contact GTA or perhaps the press, keep blustering.”

He sputtered.

“Who else have you informed?” Holani asked.

“We have sent ships to Coruscant Ryloth and Ando.“ If anything his color got darker. Breia looked at him. “I would suggest you calm down before your blood pressure puts you in hospital.” She turned back to her mother. “I needed to notify you so an internal inv-”

“That is not her department!” Moran snarled. “That is Prentiss’ job.”

“Then perhaps we should call him up here-”

“No!” Moran waved it off. “Too many people already know about this. Including you people.” He glared at Breia. “Your order is under orders-”

“Director we do not report to you, or obey you orders!” Breia stood. “We answer to a higher purpose than any government you wish to name.” She turned, waving him away. “Now go about your business before I forget what my order teaches and give you the spanking your mother should have!”

“This isn’t the end of it, Solo.” He stalked out.

“I can see you do not have my knack for diplomacy.”

“When there is time, I could out-subtle that twit on my worst day.” She turned to her mother. “But I don’t believe we have that time. There is more.” She went over the captured colony, and the enemy squadron there.

“I think we may allow our brothers in the navy deal with this.” Holani said after some thought. “I will have to inform them.“

“No need. Sienna Dodonna is a member of our order. Her father is the JAG, and her mother is in charge of BuShips.”

Holani looked at her. “Is the order as well connected on Coruscant and Ryloth?”

“No. We have direct access to Admiral Lucas at Coruscanti ONI, but the director of Coruscanti Intelligence is new.”

“Maygar Phelp. Yes, lucky for you I am well connected there.” She turned to her computer, attached a whisper-mike to her throat, and spoke silently for several seconds. Then she popped out a chip, handing it to her. “I will send a message asking for some of his time for a member of your order. That is the bona fides to verify who it is, to get past his own layers of flappers. Will you need the same for Ryloth?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Their new Premier doesn’t like us.”

“What about their navy and Intelligence?”

“Her first cousin is in charge of ONI, and her younger brother was appointed as head of Intelligence as you well know.”

Holani considered, then made another chip handing it over as well. “Ever hear of Kalo Fortuna?”

“No.”

“He’s about three levels down from the directorate. He’s a ‘handler’ working for Twi-lek intelligence. He’s too efficient to be political, but he has a web of people in his own organization that have performed admirably. Have that delivered to him.” She turned back to the computer, then handed her yet another chip. “Bib Wanatagi is in their Office of Naval intelligence. As good, as apolitical. After contacting Fortuna, have him introduce your envoy to Wanatagi.”

She tapped an annunciator. “Seela, have Logos come in.” She released the stud. “Now if you don’t mind dear, I have an internal investigation to begin.”

Breia smiled. “What of our esteemed Prentiss?”

“Prentiss couldn’t find his butt with a complete map and a guide. Like our esteemed director, he is a political appointee. But he cleans up well, can quote the jargon as if he is intelligent, and unless you have gotten to know him, at least appears to know what he is talking about.

“Now shoo. Some of us have work to do.”


'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; 05-11-2006 at 01:16 PM. Reason: System loaded it before I was done
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Old 05-11-2006, 03:56 PM   #101
Jae Onasi
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I love it when people actually get things done in spite of politics.
Sienna's a very fun character.
The scene with Holani and the director reminds me a bit of Clancy's Clear and Present Danger (if I have the right book title--the one where he finds out the director's involved in the plot).

I can sort of feel for the system loading issue--last chapter I did, I was trying to hit a button in my system tray and ended up hitting post reply on accident before I was done reformatting it out of word.


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Old 05-11-2006, 07:14 PM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I love it when people actually get things done in spite of politics.
Sienna's a very fun character.
The scene with Holani and the director reminds me a bit of Clancy's Clear and Present Danger (if I have the right book title--the one where he finds out the director's involved in the plot).

I can sort of feel for the system loading issue--last chapter I did, I was trying to hit a button in my system tray and ended up hitting post reply on accident before I was done reformatting it out of word.
That's the right work, Jae. I looked at the situation, and nothing ruins it when you're trying to get something done more than being 'helped' by the government.

If you have fun with Sienna, you'll love what Breia does to get even for the street walker get up.


'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?

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Old 05-13-2006, 10:43 AM   #103
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I'm thinking that it is quite fortunate the Jedi monastery has such well-connected members to facilitate addressing important matters such as this weaponized Iridian plague. Very fortunate indeed.


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Old 05-13-2006, 03:11 PM   #104
machievelli
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I'm thinking that it is quite fortunate the Jedi monastery has such well-connected members to facilitate addressing important matters such as this weaponized Iridian plague. Very fortunate indeed.

One thing the original order IMO had was such connections once they moved from their first monastery. Dar's saving Holani and Breia in the first part of book one gave them links to both the Corellian Government and industry, and the Echani which if you will notice I didn't explore. The primary link here is still Holani, but what happens when she retires?

As for Sienna look at any kid that is scion of a family (Especially a rich or famous one). How much real power they can wield? Imagine Sienna as Paris Hilton with the brains to know what she can do and only using that power when necessary.

Saving Coruscant in the first part of this one gave them links to the Coruscanti Government. Those links will survive for a time but they are not forever. The watchword in politcis should be 'but what have you done for me lately?'

Note that when the Chancellor of Coruscant tried the old gladhanding SOS technique, I had the Jedi refusing to take sides. Want to bet the Coruscant connection will fade pretty soon?

However when I start going over the investigations in the end of the next chapter and the chapter after that, the one thing you will notice is that a lot of the work will be done completely sub rosa. Either the politicians in charge are part of the problem, or they will be activly interfering.

By the end of this you will have the start of the Republic, but at the same time the birht of something else, Republic Intelligence. Now look at Coruscant and Corellia. Who do you think will be tapped just to get them out of the local government's hair? Try Admiral Lucas and Holani Solo.

Note that a good chunk of that chapter was talking about where they don't have such extensive connections, on Coruscant and Ryloth.


'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?

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Old 05-13-2006, 03:45 PM   #105
Jae Onasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli

The watchword in politcis should be 'but what have you done for me lately?'
You mean it's not already?


Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Note that when the Chancellor of Coruscant tried the old gladhanding SOS technique, I had the Jedi refusing to take sides. Want to bet the Coruscant connection will fade pretty soon?

However when I start going over the investigations in the end of the next chapter and the chapter after that, the one thing you will notice is that a lot of the work will be done completely sub rosa. Either the politicians in charge are part of the problem, or they will be activly interfering.
I never bet on politics, because I never know who's on the inside making deals (you support me on this bill, I'll make sure you get some appropriations for your district....) OK, if I was LBJ and it was American politics, I might be able to bet, but I don't think anyone's mastered the Senate Majority leader seat the way he did so effectively in the '50's.

Ah, intrigue....


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Old 05-13-2006, 07:09 PM   #106
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Quote:
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You mean it's not already?




I never bet on politics, because I never know who's on the inside making deals (you support me on this bill, I'll make sure you get some appropriations for your district....) OK, if I was LBJ and it was American politics, I might be able to bet, but I don't think anyone's mastered the Senate Majority leader seat the way he did so effectively in the '50's.

Ah, intrigue....
That is the way it is done, true. But most people pretend it isn't the case.


'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?

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Old 05-14-2006, 01:20 PM   #107
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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?

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Old 05-14-2006, 07:08 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by post #107
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.”
Friggin' hilarious! I'm interested in seeing whether or not the truce holds up.

I'm also anxious about Meeri's fate. Will the Ithorian start showing symptoms of an Iridian plague infection or not?


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Old 05-14-2006, 08:43 PM   #109
Jae Onasi
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Originally Posted by cutmeister
Friggin' hilarious! I'm interested in seeing whether or not the truce holds up.

I'm also anxious about Meeri's fate. Will the Ithorian start showing symptoms of an Iridian plague infection or not?
I laughed just as hard as Cutmeister on the payback thing, and worried just as much about Meeri.

Soo-chin commenting that Holani's investigation would be 'concealed by the more obtuse group' was very amusing.


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Old 05-14-2006, 08:53 PM   #110
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I laughed just as hard as Cutmeister on the payback thing, and worried just as much about Meeri.

Soo-chin commenting that Holani's investigation would be 'concealed by the more obtuse group' was very amusing.

To tell you the truth Meeri has gotten out of control. Her fate at present is in her hands not mine.

I was remembering every internal investigation I have ever seen when I made the comment about 'obtuse' groups. We are going to spend most of the next two chapters looking at them in depth as the investigations continue.


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Old 05-14-2006, 10:20 PM   #111
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I'm looking forward to seeing just how obtuse they can get, because I'm sure that will be even more amusing.

Oh-oh, it's generally bad news when the character gets out of control....


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Old 05-16-2006, 03:33 AM   #112
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Determination
Admiral Tran read the chip he had collected, rubbing his jaw. He had been ordered by the CNO to investigate the ships that had passed into pirate hands. It might have been easier if Page hadn’t died last year. His replacement Veren was a little too well connected to the Senate.

So he’d violated orders.

He was waiting for his best man to arrive. The one man he could trust to investigate thoroughly.

Out in the outer office, a thin man with unruly hair was going through his pockets as the Secretary glared at him. No one knew how Cracken had stayed in the Marines this long. He always looked unkempt, slovenly, walking the corridors of power with a perpetually stupid look on his face. After 34 years of service he was still a Captain when most his age had their third star.

Cracken reached finally into his tunic and pulled out the folder with his ID. He handed it to the secretary, who ran the chip into his scanner. It bleeped green, and he handed it back.

“Could you at least try to look presentable?” Cracken looked at the younger naval officer, already a captain, and ran his fingers through his hair, making it if anything worse than it had been. Then he pulled down his tunic, slid the folder back into the inner pocket, and walked up to the door, knocking.

“Come!”

Tran looked up, smiling sadly. Cracken was looking worse every year. He started to talk, but Cracken’s hand moved slowly. As he approached he kept fidgeting, looking it would seem, for something else in his pocket. He stopped at the chair, then gave it up as a bad job. He snapped to attention, and his eyes closed slowly, then snapped open again. Tran’s mouth tightened.

“I hear they are upset with you in the shipyard. “ He said gently.

“Can’t remember where to file the goldenrod copies.” Cracken said defensively.

“I can cover for you again, but you have to do better.” Tran printed out a chip. “I want you to head over to Personnel. They need a man in charge of records. Since all you have to do is put the files where they belong, you should be able to handle that.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Cracken took the chip, holding it as if he didn’t know what to do with it.

“Put it in your ID folder. Inside your tunic.” Tran suggested. Cracken dug out the folder, slid the chip into it, turning the folder slightly so that Tran could see a glint of scarlet light. Then he put it away.

Tran sat there alone for a long time after Cracken had left. It could be worse than he had anticipated.

*****

Captain Nial Cracken left the building, headed across the quadrangle toward the Personnel building. He saluted the senior officers he passed automatically.

Fifteen years earlier he had been a Master Sergeant, working as an assistant to a brand new Captain in intelligence assigned to the Embassy on Nal Hutta. Except for stripes instead of bars, he looked not unlike how he looked now. He had been the assistant to the Naval Attache. The captain had been sent as a replacement for a very successful agent who had died suddenly in a shuttle accident and despaired at ever being half as good. Cracken had walked him through the process, and was going to leave as the Captain tried to work out a contact schedule with the various agents he now had to handle and had muttered a name under his breath.

Cracken had taken pity on the man, and began listing each agent, the race of that agent, whether they were paid, patriots, thieves, disgruntled, all with the Captain staring at him in amazement.

Cracken had been the ace in the hole at the embassy for almost five years. A master not of disguise but obscurity. The man could wander through a room and even professionals had trouble remembering him. He had been the agent in place running the agents with a skill that made people wonder if he had done anything at all. He had been so good at his job that the Hutt Internal Security service had not even considered him a suspect. He saw everything and forgot nothing.

Cracken had a photographic memory, and had always thought that his image was the best possible disguise. Unfortunately, everyone seem to think he was the image. A misapprehension he had fostered his entire career. Everyone except for the extremely successful agent that Captain Tran had replaced, and Tran himself.

Tran had risen meteorically from that point on. He was already an excellent investigator and analyst, having Cracken working for him delivering the data had made him a man to watch.

When he’d gotten his first star he had returned home, with the bemused recently promoted second lieutenant to handle his records. Everyone had come up with reasons for why Tran had taken him under his wing. All were flat wrong.

Cracken began his act as he approached the building. He actually knew exactly where everything was. He knew exactly how much cash he had in his pocket (Ten credits 73 centimes in the front right beside his lighter) how many smokes he had left (three out of one 20 pack, one full pack. Both in the inner right breast pocket) and how many people he had seen today (421 counting the seventeen children between the ages of four and seventeen).

The quiet investigation on Corellia was to begin not by JAG or ONI, where it would have been expected, but in personnel, where one of Siriali’s old friends worked, as did another old associate of Tran‘s. It was a good thing they had.

Cracken fidgeted out his ID, and was sent down to records. He knew the system. In fact it had been upgraded thanks to suggestions he had made to Tran when Tran had been briefly assigned to Personnel after his return from Embassy duty.

He sat at his terminal, and processed the multitude of forms that fed a military bureaucracy instead of food. He was a stolid worker according to those that watched him, constantly emptying his In tray every hour.

What no one noticed, was his attempts to break into the secure system and actually read those files. He found it tough going. He was an excellent slicer, but he found he needed a miraculous one to break through the security systems.

*****

The Wraith Cantina was a dive, pure and simple. A place you went where nobody knew your name and cared less. The pair were an odd mix. Rath Amidala was from Krieos, running fast he could catch a fatal disease. His partner Nance Page was slim, petite, and looked as if she should be selling cookies. They got their drinks, and took a table in the back. The one they wanted had a robed occupant already.

“Weird.” Nance lifted the mug, sipping. “Somebody tagged you through your own files?”

Rath nodded. He had been checking his personal files, and found message he had not put there. MEET AT WRAITH. BRING YOUR BEST FRIEND.

Amidala looked around. “I thought no one could break into those files. Not without a code key.”

“I had one.” They looked up at the robed figure that had stood from his table, and moved over to them. His accent was the hiss of a Twi-lek. “Your own from last month.”

The pair turned to look the newcomer over. “So you knew I’d notice that it was an old code?”

“You change codes the way women change their dresses.” The figure looked at Nance. “No offense.”

“None taken.” Nance replied levelly. If she had owned two dresses when she was a kid, she would have changed them. “You set the meet, have a seat.”

The man at least from the voice sat, hand holding a glass of whiskey. It disappeared into the hood, and came out empty.

“First, my proof that I know what and who you are.” He gestured with his head toward Page. “Nance Page is the name you are using now. Full name Nance Welbourne Page. Daughter of miners on an obscure little planet. The miners revolted, and were put down hard. You were a sneak thief with a gift for locks and security systems.” He waved a hand. “Don’t worry. I’ve seen what that colony was like. If you weren’t a miner or with the government, it was find a way to make money or die.

“Your parents, were not involved in the rebellion, but were killed in a firefight between government and rebels. You joined the rebels, and used your skills to help them carry out assassinations. The rebellion ended when the Company pulled out, leaving you all to die. But you survived until another Company bought up the rights. They were willing to accept everyone. That is everyone but the hit team you were part of. You’re the only survivor after the bounty hunters got through. They think you’re dead.”

He turned toward Amidala. “Rath Amidala. Full name Rathmar Forgeren Amidala, twin brother to the last King of Krieos.” The figure shrugged. “If they had not used a Cesarean section to save your lives, you might have been the senior twin and claimed the family title. Your brother seems to still think that is what you wanted. After several attempts by assassins, you left home, but now it was bounty hunters on your trail. You faked your death with the help of an organization called the White Brotherhood. An interesting name for a criminal gang. They used your skill at slicing to make them a fortune until they ran afoul of the authorities. Most of them are dead or in prison. You skated by accessing the Police database, and removing your name.” He signalled, waiting for his drink to arrive. The pair watched him like dogs awaiting an order to attack.

“Now I for one don’t care what you might have done except for one thing. Right before you got together as a team five years ago, you each did a service for the Corellian ONI. If you don’t know what the other person did, you can ask later.

“But thanks to those services, I was able to find you. There are no bounty hunters looking, and I will tell no one. In fact, if you help with what I need, even the ONI records can be scrubbed.” The glass went in, and came out empty. “Plus we give you enough cash to start over, and get you off planet.” He signalled for another shot.

“Sounds tempting.” Nance said levelly. “What’s so important that you will do all of that for us?”

He picked up the drink, told them, and it followed the others into oblivion as they stared at him in shock. He had his next drink before either found their voice.

“You’re insane!” Nance whispered. “Do you know how secure those records are?”

“Better than you do.” He replied. “You don’t need to steal them. Just fry them, and make it look like someone off planet. And it has to be done during the day when the night precautions are not in effect, which would give you a lot more to deal with. Those are requirements.”

“I’d say it’s impossible.” Rath snapped. “Seven layers of encryption alone by day.”

“As I said. No need to steal or access them. Only to fry them. That’s only two layers deep.” The drink disappeared.

“He’s right.” Nance said. “Initial access and query access.”

“Yeah. But you set a virus loose Fleet Security comes down like the hammer of the gods.”

“That’s why you need to be quick and good. Both of you are that.”

They looked at each other, then at him. “And the pay?” Amidala asked.

“As I said. All records expunged, tickets off planet, and cash.”

“How much cash?” Nance pressed.

“Name a figure.”

“Half a million Corellian credits in gems. Each. Half delivered before we do anything.” Amidala replied. “This is so big we would never want to work again. Too much chance they would catch us even with your clearing our names.”

He paused. “Done.” He reached into a pocket, and a scintillating pile of gems poured from a bag. “These are so you can verify the money. The retainer you get for listening to the proposal. The rest if and when you agree.”

Nance picked up a Coruscanti fire opal, looking at it in the light. “Not synth?”

“That is for you to verify. However if I remember correctly, the bartender has a scale. Trust it?”

Amidala snorted. The bartender of the Wraith as a Bothan. No one could convince him to use a crooked scale.

The device was brought with the next round. Nance put the gem she had picked up on the scale. It was a combination scale scintillometer, with a connection to the exchange for verifying market value. The stone hit, was scanned, weighed, and a figure came up. 500 credits. The total of all of them came to just under 15,000.

“The stones are good.” she told her partner.

“So. Yes, or no?”

“We’ll need some time-”

“Within the week.” The robed figure said. “That is non-negotiable.”

“Agreed.”

He stood, and another stone dropped on the table. “That will cover our drinks.” He set down a pad. “That will contact me only within the next two days and can‘t be traced. Give me a time.” He turned and walked away.

*****

The day started like any other in central records. But that was about to change.

*****

“Perfect.” Amidala said, rubbing his hands at the sight of the terminal. Nance nodded, rigging pressure mines on the door, then another in the center of the floor.

“Set.”

The slicer sat down, and inserted the specially made chip. It had taken three days to make it, and when it was done it would fry so there was no traceable material remaining. He cracked his knuckles, and began programming.

He hummed an atonal song that would have grated if Nance had not been with him on jobs like this before. He worked swiftly, cutting through the first layer like butter. The second was harder, but now he was in. He uploaded the virus, and activated it, shutting down.

He almost made it. As he shut down the second link the computer froze, Fleet security slicers tracking to their location. At this distance they would be here in minutes.

“Let’s get out of here!” He snapped. Nance triggered the mine in the floor, and they dropped into the empty apartment below. A series of mines took them down four floors before they stopped. They peeled off the latex they had over their clothing, and Nance dropped a pyro on top of them. They were at the lift when the fire alarms went off.

The lobby was crowded when they arrived. People were moving swiftly and quietly toward the exits. The pair had just stepped out and turned to move down the street when an assault shuttle landed, Marines in combat armor and armed to the teeth pouring out. They missed getting caught in the cordon by walking calmly down into the mag-lev subway.

The next train was headed for Centralia spaceport, and they allowed it to leave, taking the one for downtown instead. Five minutes after boarding, they climbed out in the financial district. They walked to the street, caught an air cab to a local bar, and sat down to have a couple of drinks.

“I have never seen Marines move that fast before.” Nance said, sipping her brew.

“If they had known what had happened, they might have come in with shoot on sight orders.” Amidala replied. They stayed in the bar for three drinks, then caught a cab back to the mag lev line. This time they went past their target. Marines with scanners wee checking everyone leaving or arriving.

*****

The Admiral rubbed his forehead. “Now explain again why I almost got arrested for bad debts?”

The Paymaster Lieutenant sighed. “Sir, whoever tried to access our payroll section used a sophisticated worm program what would have transferred cash directly from everyone’s accounts-”

“Everyone’s?”

“Yes sir. But it’s a subtle little bug. What it does is take just the last centimes from an account. Say your pay is like mine, 400 credits, 43 centimes. This would have rounded it down to 40 centimes instead.

“But you multiply that small change by almost a million Naval and Marine personnel, and it is one large chunk of money.”

“So they failed.”

“Well, yes and no. You see the worm is based on a Coruscanti data mining worm that deletes all data it passes through. In this case, everyone’s payroll records.”

“So you just input the ranks... Why are you shaking your head, Lieutenant?”

“Sir, when they changed the payroll allotment system ten years ago, it was decided to give bonuses for time in service, time in grade, medals of honor, combat time served, etc.”

“I know that.” The Admiral had been able to put a down payment on a house thanks to that new legislation.

“But those files are not kept in payroll, sir. They are in sealed Personnel files. I can’t just pay say every Vice Admiral the same! Some would be satisfied, but you for example would take a 10% pay cut until it’s fixed.”

“Oh hell.” The headache was getting worse. “So what do you suggest?”

“We need to enter all of the data necessary manually. Any attempt to load it by pad or data dump might have segments of the same worm.

“We’re lucky at least that the best man at manually data entry was just assigned to Personnel last week. Nial Cracken.”

“Cracken. I’ve heard that name-” The Admiral snapped his fingers. “About sixty but still a Captain? I was thinking of having a promotion board meet to refuse him a star. He’s already... Again with the head shaking?”

“Sir, there’s a reason he hasn’t had that second board. You see, he started as an enlisted man. He only made Captain about five years ago. When the board met the first time, he didn’t get his star because he isn’t what you would call a political genius. More of a ‘beat on it until the problem is solved type’. So he didn’t get an assignment to Staff or Tactical Studies Group. Both needed if you want a command above a company. They decided to have a second board the next year, but the Bursar in chief sat on that one and had his name pulled. After he explained why they agreed.”

“Why?” It was pretty much a military axiom that it’s either up or out. If two promotion boards met and turned you down, you were supposed to resign.

“Sir, he has the Blood Stripe, two Naval Medals of Honor-”

“Two? You mean two mentions.” The Admiral said.

“No sir. Two distinct awards ten years apart. Both for Valor. He also has Two Parliamentary Crosses, also for valor.”

The admiral suddenly saw where this was going. “With a lifetime stipend each.”

“Yes, sir. 5% of his salary every month for life. But if he resigns or retires, that not only goes up to 10% each, but there are the promotions as well. Each of those medals had an automatic promotion of one rank upon retirement.”

“So what? We pay him a Brigadier’s...” The Admiral watched the lieutenant shake his head.

“No sir. Each medal give him one step up the ladder. We had the same argument with the Parliamentary fifteen years ago when Fleet Admiral Freido Dodonna retired. He was supposed to get a promotion for both of his medals, but there wasn’t a rank to raise it to. That is why he is paid more than the Prime Minister.”

“And this Captain...”

“Would be paid a Fleet Admiral’s salary, along with time in service bonuses plus 50% additional pay above that. He would be getting paid more than the two senior officers in the entire Navy combined. As you can see, the promotion board didn’t want to force him into retirement.

“As it is he got the first PMC eight weeks out of boot camp at the age of 20 for the Bertrand incident and racked up three of the five before he was 25. Right now he draws more pay than you do, sir.”

The Admiral glared at him. “So this Admiral except for his stars is the best why?”

“He has a slight problem speaking when he’s dealing with a computer. He stutters, mumbles, digresses, that kind of thing. He learned to use a Keyboard back when they were still standard, and can type just under 100 words a minute. Give him the Fleet list, have him go through personnel files and pull the necessary data to send to Payroll, and we can be back on track before the next pay period.”

“But that’s pretty sensitive data.” The Admiral hedged. “What 90% of fleet has their pay deposited directly?”

“Sir, he’s not smart enough to be a good thief, sir.”

*****

Cracken tapped the annunciator on his desk. “Cracken, Personnel.”

“Captain, please hold for Admiral Wainwright.” The voice said. A moment later, he heard the Admiral. Since there was no viewscreen on his desk, Cracken allowed himself a smile.

“Cracken?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you heard about the payroll problem?”

“Yes, sir.”

“We need the necessary data passed to Payroll ASAP.”

Cracken counted mentally. Right before Wainwright could snarl he said, “Sir, since the officer’s data is more sensitive, I will pass off enlisted records and first 3 Officer’s ranks to my senior staff, if that is acceptable. We may be delayed by the normal requests we get, but they will handle those as well.” And you don’t give a damn about some E2 fresh caught boot getting paid when it’s you that gets arrested for failure to pay debts. He didn’t add.

“That sounds like an excellent idea.” Wainwright’s voice sounded like someone that had just seen a pet do a trick he hadn’t been taught. “By the end of the week?”

“If I start at the top and work down, I’d say ten days, sir.” Which means only Naval Captains commanders along with Marine Colonels have problems. But that doesn’t bother you either.

“Then you had best get to it.”

Cracken told his staff what they had to do, Called half a dozen different departments for loans of clerks, and had the senior officer records transferred to his terminal. He began as he had said, at the Fleet Admiral.

The payroll department needed a lot of data. Dates of entry rank combat and service commands, medals, and when they had been awarded.

What a lot of people didn’t realize was that promotion boards had to file written decisions, with signatures. Having funds directly deposited gave the discerning a record of how much money went through your banks accounts. Each page was looked at by the patient man, and set aside.

He could hear groans from the records sections outside. All they heard was the machine gun click of his keyboard.

*****

Nance looked up as the robed figure approached. The man sat, his whiskey disappearing into the hood. “According to fleet Security, a bunch of Coruscanti immigrant kids broke into the fleet records section.” He looked at Rath. “That was pure genius.”

“Thanks.” Rath replied. “To tell you the truth, if I’d known how close we would come to getting caught, I would have jacked up the price to 1.5 split.”

“One question. Whose idea was it to ding the credit reports on the Admirals and Generals so they would end up with dunning notices?”

The pair looked at each other.

“Neither one of us really like officer-” Nance began.

“-Especially those with stars-” Rath added.

“-So it was both of us actually.” Nance finished.

The robed figure looked from face to face. Then set down a bag a little larger than his hand. “The bonus is for the most fun I have had in years.” He stood, and left.

Nance called for the scale. Silently they tested each stone

“Son of a bitch.” Nance said when they had been counted.

“Like he read my mind.” Rath said.

They had been paid a million five.


'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?

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Old 05-16-2006, 12:46 PM   #113
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Too much fun. Dunning notices, indeed.
I love it when master spies get things done because everyone completely misjudges them as twits.


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Old 05-16-2006, 12:54 PM   #114
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I had the most fun because something like this could really screw up any military organization. There is an old saying that you don't dare mess with the payroll clerk, because he'll lose your check, and it will take a small forever to get it reissued.


'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?

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Old 05-17-2006, 12:41 AM   #115
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That was an awesome chapter. I think I have an idea who the faceless robed figure in the Wraith Cantina was. But seriously, that's some great intrigue in that chapter! Well done!


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Old 05-22-2006, 05:15 AM   #116
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Scattered petals.

Padawan Yaka of Ithor came out of hyperspace, running in toward Coruscant. Clearance was granted gladly. Padawans Carola and Costi met briefly with the local Council, then were taken to the Coruscant Special Intelligence service where they briefed in Maygar Phelp. The man was new, obviously a political appointee, but just as obviously willing to admit when he was out of his depth. The three senior men, all old time intelligence agents waited until Admiral Lucas arrived with his small staff, and the Jedi were debriefed. As were the Corellians, they were alarmed that ordinance still on the secrets list had somehow been sold, and were willing to assist.

Unfortunately a trade war of sorts had begun between the two planets. To facilitate communications, the Jedi were asked to be the message bearers so that the Chancellor (Who had been informed of the investigation but not it’s scope) could claim plausible deniability.

Once done, they slept, then took off for Bothuwai.

*****

“Master Gretu of Triseki Requesting approach clearance.” Padawan Samsun asked.

“Nar Shaddaa approach control to Jedi courier Master Gretu of Triseki. Permission granted. Welcome to Nar Shaddaa.”

“That was easy.” Samsun said.

“Easy it should not be.’ Yodai grumbled. “Congregate here many who think law is for others. Letting us arrive unremarked not possible.”

“So whoever we’re looking for will know.”

“Arrived we have, yes they will. Why matter different.” Yodai grinned. “Like thieves they are, all will look to affairs part of they are. Relax they will if look at their affairs we do not. Drubba the Hutt in businesses many. Look at them instead of ships.”

Samsun had been with Yodai long enough to be able to translate his way of speaking. “So we investigate things Drubba has only a peripheral interest in?”

“Yes. But lead to our objective all trails will, accidentally.”

“Okay, so smuggling?”

“Smuggling, spice sales, slaves, all transport need. Registry of ships search for these. At same time, find where ships come from we do.”

“As if it would be that simple.”

“Lucky you are.”

“Why?”

“Hutt knows humans animals are not.” Yodai looked at him. “Had ready leash and collar.”

*****

Padawan Sani of Naboo arrived at Ryloth. The situation was if anything worse than the others faced. Corellia and Coruscant might not be on speaking terms, and the Hutt had so many fingers in so many pies that they themselves might not be able to resolve the situation.

But Ryloth had turned away from the others out of what appeared to be merely pique. The new Premier, Merio Lassa had almost immediately fired every senior Twi-lek who even seemed to like the humans. Oh it wasn’t the screaming dismissal you might have expected. Twi-lek politics was always cognizant that whoever was on top today would very well be on the bottom tomorrow. The replaced people were promoted into positions of responsibility, just away from where they would deal directly with out worlders.

The permission to land was curt. The Jedi did not have a Monastery here, and only the fact that Kreil was himself Twi-lek seemed to be the determining factor.

“How shall we handle this?” Kreil asked as he shut down the systems.

“If you speak to Bib Wanatagi it would probably go unremarked. However by the same token Kalo Fortuna is an agent handler. Seeing him with a human would also deserve little scrutiny.” Reyes ordered.

*****

The restaurant was, in the words of a human friend, a dive. Kreil, who had problems with the human tendency to euphemisms, wondered what they were supposed to dive into.

It was locate less than half a kilometer from the Offices of the Navy Directorate, and according to sources, the place Wanatagi went to for lunch. Though after looking at the menu, Kreil wasn’t sure what was so good about the food.

He recognized Watanagi as he came in. The man went to the bar, picked up an already poured drink, and headed for a table nearby.

Kreil stiffened, reaching for his sword when a voice behind him spoke. “Very poor tradecraft.“ commented the woman in Twi-leki. He started to turn, but something nudged him in the back. “I wouldn’t do that. Blood is so hard to get out of the floorboards. Move over to your right, into the booth.”

Kreil stood, walking over to the curtained booth. He drew the curtain aside, stepping in and to the right sharply. The weapon continued on, and he grabbed it, pulling the woman off balance. He tapped her on the shoulder, spinning her around so she landed on her butt in a chair.

The ‘weapon’ was a human designed cane. He looked it over. No trigger or stud, no signs that it could be broken down to load ammunition. He looked again, then squeezed the metal ferrule. There was a hiss, and a small metal dart stuck in the wall.

“Interesting.” He held it in both hands before him. “Why did you threaten me?”

“I was watching you. When Wanatagi came in, you were immediately alert.”

He handed her the cane. “I came here hoping to meet him.” He turned his back. “If wishing to meet him is a reason to kill me, then do so.”

He could almost sense her confusion. Then the curtain opened, and Wanatagi entered. The officer looked past him. “Either use it or put that damn thing away, Morilli.” He snapped.

Kreil heard the tap of the cane hitting the floor. “I wasn‘t sure what was going on.” She said defensively. “This Krasmeh was watching for you to arrive-”

“I have not insulted your family. Must my mother bear such an insult?” Kreil demanded.

Wanatagi looked at him levelly. “I am sure your mother danced for her husband, friend. May I ask why meeting me was this important?”

“I am Jedi.” Kreil replied. “I was given your name through the daughter of a friend.”

“That friend being?”

“Holani Solo.”

“Ah.” Wanatagi nodded. “And she sent you why?”

Kreil handed him the chip. “Because your government and Corellia are not on speaking terms, and giving this to your superior would merely mean it was thrown away unopened.”

“What is this concerning?”

“A Crasbashti class corvette known to be in the hands of pirates.”

Wanatagi sighed, slipping the chip into a pad. “And what do you expect me to do about it?”

“You still have connections. Could you investigate without being noticed?”

The look Wanatagi gave him was cold. “The day one of those paper pushers catches me, you can expect my resignation.”

Kreil bowed his head. “I did not mean to insult your honor.”

The intelligence agent sighed. “I am sorry that I took it in such a manner. Jedi are not known for their cutting words.” He looked to the woman. “Morilli, please get us some drinks.”

“What about-”

“My girl, or assignation will have to wait another day.” He reached up, brushing her Lekku, and she shivered. “I regret that more than you. But our planet needs my energies at this moment. Forgive me?”

“Always.” Her eyes were lambent, and Kreil wondered if she was going to tackle him and have her way even with a witness. She gave the agent one more smoky glance, and went out.

“A very... spirited woman.” Kreil commented.

“And well supplied with what nature gives.” Wanatagi agreed. “Now if you will excuse me...” He read the file swiftly. Like Holani Solo, he read it more than once. However any notes he might have made were in his head.

“So a station that was once ours harbors these thugs. They are shipping weapons they should not have access to, including warships.”

“Not only of yours but Coruscanti and Corellian as well.” Kreil agreed. “We of the Jedi are the only conduit between the three powers. Yet not even we can speak directly to the Premier. There are too few of our race in the order. If they send a human, the first thought she will have is not of the order, but which planet birthed them. If they sent me, she would ignore it because in her opinion I am merely repeating what some human has told me to say.”

“Your council cuts to the quick.” Wanatagi commented. He leaned back, considering. “The Corellians and Coruscanti both have embassies, but delivering this to them would be a red flag to our own intelligence. What would you suggest?”

“The Bothans.”

“Intriguing. May I ask why?”

“The Bothans have always been circumspect. They tend to be extremely inquisitive, most would say nosy- but their banking institutions seem to find ways to direct that into fruitful labor.

“For a small fee, the Bothans will send correspondence that is as well protected as any diplomatic pouch. Better in fact because they will hunt down and kill anyone who tries to break into it. Since this fact is known to anyone who might want to steal it, merely putting it into the bank’s hands ensures delivery except for natural disasters.

“They have their own courier in orbit, or will have one here before too long. You know how they are.” Everyone did. The Bothans were well known for their integrity.

“And who pays for these messages?”

Kreil drew a card from his pocket. “Give this to the Bank manager. It will cover such communications at the rate of one a day for the next decade.”

Wanatagi took the card. “A lot of money to trust me with. Are you sure-”

“Oh please.” Kreil laughed. “If I gave you nothing, you would complain that you are ill-used, but do it anyway, I offer enough to pay for more than we need, and you act as if you are ready to pocket the household silver!” He shook his head. “A game you play so well from how you have done it. If I did not trust your integrity, I could have handed you this one.” He reached into an other pocket. The cards were identical. “This one is enough for perhaps three months. Then we would have had to set up more meets.”

“You really trust me that much?”

“Of course not. An intelligence agents always squirrels things away for a rainy day. I didn’t even mention returning the card, now did I?” Kreil smiled. “I am sure that there will be other things the Jedi might wish to be informed of. If we are informed as needed during that time, we are well paid.”

Wanatagi looked up as Morilli entered. She glowered at them, setting the drinks down. “Nothing for yourself?”

She grumbled, flouncing into the seat. Wanatagi ran a finger up her arm. “We still have time for... something before I have to return to the office.”

Kreil slid another data chip across. “Look at this. If I am right, your can take half a shift off claiming to have compiled it.”

Wanatagi looked askance at him, then slid the chip into the pad. He froze as it scrolled, then leaned forward. “A major slaving ring? Here?”

“Yes. We Jedi collect a lot of odd data that means nothing to us, but will to people such as you. Why not enjoy your time with your paramour?”

“Oh indeed yes.” Wanatagi grinned like a shark. “I think I shall.”

*****
When Kalo Fortuna got a request to meet a human, he picked the spot. There weren’t that many off worlders on the planet, and most were followed by internal intelligence constantly. This one however had not only slipped his leash, but passed a message that he would be interested in talking to an agent handler. Internal intelligence still didn’t know how the man had escaped their surveillance. The man who should have been watching him couldn’t explain how the message for this meet had ended up in his pocket.

Fortuna had chosen the place, a small dining establishment in the heart of the city. It was his own private joke that the location was less than a kilometer from the local prison.

As any good agent would he arrived early, slipping in through the back door. The kitchen help ignored him once he flashed his badge, and turned to their work. At the back of the dining area were several booths that used electronic imaging and suppression, so he could sit there and be totally ignored. To the naked eye, the booth was unoccupied, and once he had sat down, sensors notified the owners that it was in use, so no one would be seated there.

He was a little irked to discover that the human was already there. He had been early, the human must have been half an hour or more early. Silently Fortuna watched him. The human was merely sitting there, drinking tea as if he had not a care in the world. His clothing

An hour passed, but except for getting his tea refilled, the human did nothing. It was as if he had nothing to do but sit and swill tea until the heat death of the universe.

Finally Fortuna sighed, scored a mental note for the man, and stepped from his booth.

The instant he stood, before he had even moved, the man looked up. As if he could see through some of the most expensive and efficient anti-spying software ever made. Then his head dropped again, and he read the pad before him, allowing Fortuna to approach supposedly unremarked.

“You do know that an internal security agent has been fired because of you.”

“I should hope not. Not many can follow a Jedi unless he allows it.” The man replied. “I would hope that you are Kalo Fortuna?”

“Yes I am. As if you did not know.”

The human turned the pad. The picture was one of those taken in bad light at a great distance, then enhanced. It was definitely a Twi-lek, but nothing else could be verified from it. “As you can see, the Corellians didn’t have much. Having been told about you, and being what and who you are, I would have been astonished if anyone had ever gotten a proper vid shot of you.”

“Not since my fifth birth anniversary.” Fortuna admitted. “I never stand still long enough.”

“And you are considered one of the best at what you do by someone I think is a good judge of such capabilities.”

“Does this paragon have a name?”

“Holani Solo.”

“Ah, the Black eminence herself.”

“Shouldn’t that be a gray eminence?”

“Not if you know her legend as well as mine. A gray eminence is behind the scenes, shifting the pegs to make the pattern they want through others. Our dear madam Solo will do it that way, but preferred ‘fixing’ the problem with a little hands on work in a lot of cases. “They made her your Director of Operations because she always had a nasty penchant of getting her hands dirty.”

“Not mine.” Reyes replied levelly. “I am Corellian by birth, but I have my own allegiances.”

“A Corporate one perhaps?”

“No. My allegiance is to the Force.”

“Ah. A Jedi.” Fortuna looked at the man levelly. “You asked for this meet, and there are a number of people above me that will wonder why.” He looked toward a waiter, signaling. “If it is all right with you, I would like something to eat. After all, you did interrupt my lunch.”

“By all means. And you can call off the three men with weapons who are waiting to arrest me when I step out as well.”

“Very good. I would have to grade you as adequate.”

“Is that all?” The human looked at him with a wide eyed innocence that caused Fortuna to laugh. “Because I didn’t mention the police cruiser two kilometers overhead, the four squads of tactical response police within 400 meters of the doors? Perhaps if I mention the transmitter attached to your-”

“Enough. Your grade is excellent. May I know who I have praised so?”

“Tolomeo Reyes. Padawan Teacher.”

“I will make a note that your order has learned to excel in this work.”

“I expected you would. Master Jondri at Coruscant will be pleased.”

“He was such a scamp when I hunted him. It is nice to know he remembers me fondly.”

“Especially when it is cold.” Reyes told him. “They had to rebuild both of his legs before he joined the order. They hurt when in winter.”

“I left him alive. Let him know that.” They paused in the conversation as a bowl of soup appeared. “So, stun me with the acumen, Jedi. Convince me that it is worth my while. And as you are at it, consider that everything you tell me will reach the ears of my superiors.”

Reyes slid across a data chip. “That is why we supposedly met. But I am asking you to tell no one why we have met unless you are willing to trust them with your life.”

Fortuna loaded the chip, reading it. “So there are slavers. This we knew.”

“But who and what group they are preying on, you did not.” Reyes snapped. “To know for sure who to investigate will give your superiors a chance to show their worth.”

“There is that. So tell me, what is this my superiors must not know?“

Reyes slipped across the next chip, and Fortuna read it as well.

“So.“ He hissed. “I may have what I need to repay an old debt.” He slid the chips into his pocket. “The owner of Ryloth Shipyards is an old enemy. His company manufactures those ships. If I can prove he knew anything...”

“We need to discover who before you score your revenge.” Reyes warned. “Other people are also affected.”

“And how can we communicate this to you?”

“The Bothans.”


'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?

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Old 05-22-2006, 10:38 AM   #117
Jae Onasi
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Glad to see you back in writing action. I was beginning to despair of another chapter, it had been so long. Well, maybe not _that_ long, but long enough.

One thing--this paragraph stops abruptly:

"He was a little irked to discover that the human was already there. He had been early, the human must have been half an hour or more early. Silently Fortuna watched him. The human was merely sitting there, drinking tea as if he had not a care in the world. His clothing"

Thought you'd want to know that to finish the sentence. I'm one of those people who enjoy the little background details.

Holani reminds me more and more of Mary Pat (one of my favorite Clancy characters).


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Old 05-22-2006, 12:30 PM   #118
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Holani is a bit of Mary Pat, and a lot of Modesty Blaise.


'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?

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What we die for...
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Old 05-22-2006, 12:32 PM   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Glad to see you back in writing action. I was beginning to despair of another chapter, it had been so long. Well, maybe not _that_ long, but long enough.
Sorry. I have another story (Defined as erotic fiction) that also caught my interest. Add to that that we've just gone broadband and the system is still giving us fits, and there you are...


'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?

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What we die for...
Acceptance
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Old 05-23-2006, 09:57 AM   #120
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Quote:
Originally Posted by post #116
“Yes. We Jedi collect a lot of odd data that means nothing to us, but will to people such as you. Why not enjoy your time with your paramour?”
I learned a new word today and as a result made it my personal Word of the Day! Thanks, machievelli!
paramour
n. A lover, especially one in an adulterous relationship.
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #116
He was a little irked to discover that the human was already there. He had been early, the human must have been half an hour or more early. Silently Fortuna watched him. The human was merely sitting there, drinking tea as if he had not a care in the world. His clothing

An hour passed, but except for getting his tea refilled, the human did nothing. It was as if he had nothing to do but sit and swill tea until the heat death of the universe.
Jae Onasi already mentioned this but did something get accidentally cut from this passage?

I think I need to go back and read this story from the beginning. I seem to have lost track of what is going on. The governments of Corellia and Coruscant have been warned of the weapons as well as the Iridian plague. Now Ryloth (Twi'lek home planet?) is getting into the mix too. Although it appears that all three planets must keep their investigations on the down-low and only include trusted individuals because it would take corruption at some of the highest levels of government for these weapons to get into the hands of pirates. That summarizes what I've got thus far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Add to that that we've just gone broadband and the system is still giving us fits, and there you are...
Welcome to the Internet the way it's supposed to be. You know what they say, right? "Once you go broadband, you never go back."


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