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Old 05-23-2006, 10:08 AM   #121
machievelli
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Originally Posted by cutmeister
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.
Actually it's three version of the same problem. On Corellia you have a head of Civilian intelligence who is corrupt or incompetent (It happens a lot in real life) and an ONI where the head is anticipating problems. On Coruscant you will notice everything flowed in one chunk. ONI and Local counter-intelligence working together.

On Ryloth, it is another situation. It isn't that they don't trust everyone. It's a matter that the goverments aren't talking. So the investigations start at a lower level, and the upper echelons get draged into it.

Note all of the governments have ships (Lerger than snub fighter) in use by the pirates.

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'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; 05-23-2006 at 10:11 AM. Reason: rewrite
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Old 05-23-2006, 11:56 AM   #122
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Once you get it going right, though, you'll be amazed at how fast everything seems.
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:53 PM   #123
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Once you get it going right, though, you'll be amazed at how fast everything seems.
I switched over to Firefox for the browser--works better for LF, seems to load a little faster. The tabbed browsing is cool, too--I don't have a bunch of open windows anymore, which is nice, especially when I'm trying to research and want to compare things between a few sites and then write something down in Word.
So far my wife and stepdaughter can get in. But neither account, mine as master, and the sub account I created tell me I don't exist.


'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 05-24-2006, 12:38 PM   #124
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The trap is sprung

The ship arrived with the flash of a burned out hyper drive. The ships operating around Thule noticed it, and the faces were ecstatic. A nice ripe prize had just dropped into their laps.

But this gaffed fish could bite back...

“There are the Wasps.” The censor officer reported. “The Crasbashti Is not here at the moment, neither is Prince of Peace but right there-“ He haloed a target “Is a target that fits the data for Sunspot.” He hummed, working, then tapped another blip. “Their orbital station. Pretty good sized. Coruscanti design.”

Captain Dodonna leaned over his shoulder. “Three out of five isn’t too bad. We intended to hang around long enough to get them anyway, assuming they aren’t gone too long.” She thumbed the intercom. “Engineering, give us ten percent, but intermittent. We just suffered a major engineering casualty.”

“What should we be able to see?” Breia asked.

The sensor officer tapped a red line on the display. “That is commercial sensors against something not emitting. The blue line is what we would pick up if they are emitting with the civvie equipment, and this green line is where they would pick us up on passive.” The blips of the warships were well inside the last circle, but still outside the blue one.

“So we can’t see them, or at least they think.”

“Correct.”

Freya stood back, turning to the silent Jedi behind her. “Well, ladies. To work.”

*****

To the unsuspecting, it was the perfect trap. The huge freighter stumbled along, plaintively asking for help. The station contacted them first, chiding them along, telling them that a small squadron of the Corellian Navy was in system, and would render aid when they could. Sunspot had moved closer to the station.

But to the all seeing eyes of military grade hardware, it was a different story. The two Wasps had done a slow turn to come up behind them, all of it silently. The readings on Sunspot showed an additional fusion generator being brought on line. Preparation for an attack.

The crew of the Merchant raider were on alert. Down below, the Marines were getting into their armor and checking their weapons.

*****

“I will be going with you, Commander.” The helmeted Jedi commented. The Voder gave her a female voice, but it was harsh, metallic. She wore a blood red skin suit, good enough for vacuum, but nothing compared to the hell of modern day warfare. As armor went she might as well have been nude.

“Commander Devries of the Corellian Marines sighed. “Ma’am, I don’t have anyone escort you-”

“I do not need an escort, commander. I can take care of myself.”

The commander had to admit she probably could. He had watched her sparring with the other Jedi, and both had been impressive, faster than anyone he had seen with a sword. But... “Ma’am, I don’t know how many boarding actions you have been on-”

“This will be my second.” She replied. “My first was at Alpha 4 with the 7th MAF.”

“You were there?” He looked at her. “What were, you, eighteen?”

“Fifteen.”

He nodded slowly. “All right, Ma’am, you can go. But if you get killed it’s your own damn fault.”

*****

Unlike an assault transport, which is designed to take damage as it goes in, a Merchantman is fragile. It doesn’t have the heavy decks needed to support assault shuttles and their fighter escort. Instead, a designer had come up with a unique idea. There is a bird native on Corellia that hung head down, wrapping itself in it’s wings like a cigar. When it flew it would let go, dropping until it gained speed, then the wings would snap out.

So the fighters and Assault shuttles were anchored to the central core like lethal grapes, the cargo bays left open, and ready. Instead of the usual winches, the main bay hatches were anchored with explosive bolts and rocket pack. Now six hundred Marines waited in 14 shuttles, along with thirteen additional pilots for the signal to go.

The ship finally staggered into orbit, approaching the station. The ‘naval squadron’ had split, one to either beam on the approach. The officer commanding the station started to lean into the console, ready to make his demands when suddenly the ship seemed to explode outward. Guns popped out of hidden ports along both sides, and he just had time to recognize assault shuttles when the world seemed to explode.

*****

The Corellian navy had looked at the problem like this; Not every pirate used commercial vessels. A lot of them recently had been picking up the odd warship, and the guns a merchant usually carried were too light to do more than scratch their paint. Worse, if you ended up at war, the enemy obviously had warships, and you knew they would snap up the occasional merchantman. But a Merchant Raider’s job was to take out the enemy. Capture his shipping, protect your own, and if you went toe to toe with the big boys, make sure they remembered the fight, and not fondly.

You need guns, lots of guns, the bigger, the better.

Then again, any kind of projectile takes time to reach it’s target. Any sensor officer worth his rating would see them, and they would return fire. A merchant was frightfully fragile, and one broadside from even a corvette would shatter it. So projectile weapons were out.

Instead of regular guns, Star Trader carried a dozen laser-energy weapons in each broadside. Mixed laser and particle beam, they had massive throughput, meaning most of the energy put into the system came out the muzzle. Since they were light speed weapons, it also meant that the first you knew about them firing was the impact. Since the ships were on opposite sides, that meant that two dozen beams were fired, twelve at each.

One of the Wasps rang like the bell from hell as the equivalent of a ton of explosives ripped through her hull where each beam hit. The beam caused the hull to flash into plasma which ravaged the compartments beyond. The aim had been as well as expected. But after all, the Corellian crew knew the specifications of ships they were firing at, and that helps a lot in such situations. The ship to port fell away, engines destroyed, power cut to the weapons. The other had turned at the last moment, and the beam that sliced into her engine room struck the fusion bottle. It vanished with it’s entire crew in a ball of flame.

A dozen fighters and a Corellian Shadow class courier roared away from the ship, arcing past the station, running down on Sunspot. They outstripped the assault shuttles which had divided, four of them headed for the wounded corvette, the rest screaming in toward the station.

With her more dangerous opponents out of action, the merchantman turned, and her guns began to pick away the chain gun and laser turrets they had already mapped hours ago. It was easier than you might imagine, since the station commander hadn’t expected to be attacked, and they were all on standby. Almost the instant the shuttles would have hit it, the last weapons were smoking divots.

*****

Sienna bounced against the restraints as the shuttle plowed into the station, ripping it’s way almost it’s entire length into the structure.

“Go!” Devries screamed, and panels blew out. The Marines poured out, securing the area as the pilot backed jets, backing the shuttle out of the hole before the automatic systems could seal it in like a bug in amber.

Sienna moved through the fluctuating gravity as if it were steady, raising her hand to halt the advance.

“What are you playing at?” A sergeant screamed at her. She pulled out a flat metal star, throwing it down the passageway ahead of them. It had traveled less than three meters before guns roared along it’s length. The metal hit the deck hammered into something that might have been displayed in a surrealistic art show.

“They don’t want to play obviously.” She drew her sword, cutting into the bulkhead beside the passageway. Moving down through the access way she was cutting, she threw the now disabled sensors out. She backed up, repeating the action on the other side. A second star imbedded itself in the end of the passageway.

“The way is clear now.”

“Sorry.”

“The 7th didn’t think I could do it either.” She said. “Follow me.”

*****

"Pirate vessel, this is Padawan Breia Solo of the Jedi Order. You will shut down you engines and prepare to be boarded. You have ten seconds to comply.” She watched the glittering web of fighters that spun around the ship. If they had fled earlier-

“Hyper drive warning!” Someone shouted. They had lit off their hyper drive. Less than ten seconds...

“Fire!”

Three of the fighters bored in, their guns ripping through the hull plating. The ship staggered, then opened up like a lethal flower.

*****

Sienna ducked, her sword snapping up to remove the hand of someone who had been foolish enough to wait for the spearhead. She grabbed his clothes, slamming her head into his with a bone jarring thump. Her helmet saved her from any pain. The same couldn’t be said for her victim. He collapsed, and she motioned for a Marine to move forward and bind him.

“Come on! Do you want to live forever?” She roared.

With a roar, the Marines ran forward. Resistance was crumbling everywhere. Without her presence, the butcher’s bill in the booby-trapped corridors others had found had been high. But her quick action, and their reporting of it to other units had kept the losses down.

She ran forward, outpacing her escorts, arriving at the command center door. She plunged the blade into the bulkhead beside it, and cut swiftly. With a crash a section two meters to a side fell outward.

The station commander spun around and wanted to scream. Wanted to turn again and push the button that would blow the station into shards.

But when he saw the figure in blood red armor with a scarlet helmet step almost daintily through that newly cut hole and approach him, his resolve died. He could tell it was a woman. Hell, in a skin suit, you can tell if a man is happy or not. But there was nothing in that walk, that stance, that bared sword that spoke of a nurturing nature.

It was a nightmare from hell. A war goddess come to play. If he blew the station, somehow he knew it wouldn’t stop her. She would follow him through every afterlife and she would find him.

The station commander took one look at the monster heading toward him and threw down his side arm. She slowed, raising the point of her sword, and he clasped his hands behind his neck, falling to his knees.

“Commander, when this is over, you and I will have a talk.” A breathy rasp told him.

The Marines with their lethal looking weapons were almost a relief.

*****

Through the station in intercoms and com units blared.

“This is Padawan Dodonna of the Jedi Order. As of this moment, any armed pirate will be killed without being given the chance to surrender. That is all.” The voice was not wheedling or triumphant. It was a flat metallic growl that reached down into the hindbrain of every man aboard and said Yes, I will kill you all. I have no further patience.

Men that had considered a last ditch fight, that thought to bury their teeth in a throat before they died felt their bowels loosen. They threw down their weapons, stepped into view, and knelt with their hands behind their heads.

*****

“Second company reports the surviving Wasp has been taken. Casualties among our people are light.”

“Commander Fourth MAF reports the station is ours.”

Freya looked up from her command chair. “Survivors from the other two ships?”

“None, ma’am. The Wasp and the Prince of Peace were both destroyed with all hands.”

She sighed. The modifications that had given her enough space to house a Marine Battalion and the fighters had been thrown in at the last minute, but she figured it was worth it now. A merchant raider fighting warships, even small ones was too much like nuclear weapons at ten paces.

“Contact the fighters. Tell those lunatics to come in slow and let our cables drag them in.”

*****

Breia settled her courier in on the captured station. She looked at the outfit Sienna had suggested. It was the same skin suit and helmet Sienna wore, but in a solid unrelieved black. A visage that would strike terror.

She sighed, and changed. The helmet was restrictive to view, but looking at herself in a mirror, she knew it was what they wanted to do. Convince the surviving pirates that not even hell would save them from vengeance.

The Marines looked at her, helmet cradled under her arm. One of them chuckled.

“Something funny sergeant?” The tone was not cold or demanding. It was a friend asking another friend what the joke was.

“Ma’am, Do you watch crime dramas?”

“Not really. I have been too busy learning my trade.”

“Well there’s a phrase they use in questioning. ‘good cop, bad cop’. Know it?”

“I understand the concept, yes.”

“Well you two, your ‘bad cop even meaner cop‘.”

She looked at her attire, thinking of them, black and red, not yin and yang but both aspects of the same thing, and each terrible.

She understood now. It wasn’t like the Corellian personnel didn’t know what she looked like. But that the enemy did not. Meeting not two women, they meet two faceless monsters that would not show pity or restraint. Creatures that would want answers, not excuses.

She looked at the sergeant, bowing her head with a shy smile. “Sergeant, would you be frightened of me in my normal clothes?”

“Only if I had a brain, ma’am. I’ve seen you fight.”

“This is just a costume.” She waved toward the suit. “When I am done, I take it off and hope to all the gods I never wear it again.”

“Ma’am, as much as barristers talk about the rights of the criminals, I remember the faces of those they murdered. You want to hang him up by tender parts, I’ll find a place to attach the line, and haul him up at your order.” His face was bleak.

“Sergeant, you and I will have a drink afterward, and a talk. I think you’ve been doing this too long.”

He looked at her askance. “Like you haven’t?”

She bowed her head, acknowledging the hit, and lifted the helmet, sliding it on until it clicked on it’s locking ring. Her voice was different from Sienna’s the voder set for a mezzo soprano. “We both need a rest, sergeant. Maybe we could take a quiet leisurely cruise on the ocean, you and I.”

“Together?”

“Why not?”

“Padawan!” She turned back. “What would my wife say?”

“Bring her along.” She left, leaving him confused.

*****

Thoughts ran through the Station manager’s head. How could he keep them confused, make them look the wrong way? The monster had sent him off to the cells, and he didn’t think any Corellian officer would allow...

The hatch opened. A blank faced Marine motioned, escorting him down to the interrogation room. He was motioned toward a chair, and he took it. The silence was starting to get unnerving. The opposite hatch opened and the Scarlet horror walked in.

Sienna saw the look on his face. If he had been on a heart monitor, the needle would have spiked clear through the top of the machine. She stood there, arms crossed, watching him.

The strain stretched his nerves like meat through a grinder. He wanted to scream, to start the questions, to beg for his life. Anything!

He showed it with bravado. “Well? What are you waiting for?”

The hatch opened again. This horror was an ebon presence that seemed to suck all of the light out of the room.

“Waiting for my associate.” The Scarlet one replied. “Now, we have questions, and you will give us the answers. One way or another.”


'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; 05-24-2006 at 12:42 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-27-2006, 02:53 PM   #125
Char Ell
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Nicely done. I enjoyed how you described both strategy and tactics and the reasons certain methods were employed in this clash. Very well done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #124
The sensor officer tapped a red line on the display. “That is commercial sensors against something not emitting. The blue line is what we would pick up if they are emitting with the civvie equipment, and this green line is where they would pick us up on passive.” The blips of the warships were well inside the last circle, but still outside the blue one.

“So we can’t see them, or at least they think.”
I'm not sure I properly understand this passage. The pirate ships were inside the green circle (military sensor range?) but outside the blue circle(civilian sensor range?). So the pirate ships had military sensors but thought the "Trojan horse" merchant vessel only had civilian-grade sensors and so were staying out of the Trojan horse's civilian sensor range?
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #124
But when he saw the figure in blood red armor with a scarlet helmet step almost daintily through that newly cut hole and approach him, his resolve died. He could tell it was a woman. Hell, in a skin suit, you can tell if a man is happy or not. But there was nothing in that walk, that stance, that bared sword that spoke of a nurturing nature.

It was a nightmare from hell. A war goddess come to play. If he blew the station, somehow he knew it wouldn’t stop her. She would follow him through every afterlife and she would find him.
In this section it seems like Sienna used her Force ability to influence minds on the station commander to prevent him from blowing up the space station. Is she also using this ability when she broadcasts over the intercom that all armed pirates will be shot without hesitation? Based off the remaining pirates' reaction I would think so but I find it hard to believe she can influence minds en masse like this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #124
She bowed her head, acknowledging the hit, and lifted the helmet, sliding it on until it clicked on it’s locking ring. Her voice was different from Sienna’s the voder set for a mezzo soprano. “We both need a rest, sergeant. Maybe we could take a quiet leisurely cruise on the ocean, you and I.”

“Together?”

“Why not?”

“Padawan!” She turned back. “What would my wife say?”

“Bring her along.” She left, leaving him confused.
Superb innuendo in this passage, heh-heh-heh.


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Old 05-27-2006, 05:12 PM   #126
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Nicely done. I enjoyed how you described both strategy and tactics and the reasons certain methods were employed in this clash. Very well done.
I'm not sure I properly understand this passage. The pirate ships were inside the green circle (military sensor range?) but outside the blue circle(civilian sensor range?). So the pirate ships had military sensors but thought the "Trojan horse" merchant vessel only had civilian-grade sensors and so were staying out of the Trojan horse's civilian sensor range?
That is correct. The assumption by the pirates is a logical one. It's a merchant ship, so it has merchant grade sensors. When they slipped around pretending soerhing else, that showed the crew of raider that they were correct and not about to blow a group of innocent sailors to hell.

[QUOTE=cutmeister]In this section it seems like Sienna used her Force ability to influence minds on the station commander to prevent him from blowing up the space station. Is she also using this ability when she broadcasts over the intercom that all armed pirates will be shot without hesitation? Based off the remaining pirates' reaction I would think so but I find it hard to believe she can influence minds en masse like this.[QUOTE]

Actually I was thinking of psychology, especially in combat in both cases. The English won the battle of Agincourt where 5,000+ faced of against over 35,000 because the French believed themselves to be defeated. The station commander expected a Marine, or Sailor, and instead got something like Darth Vader storming toward him. The fact that it was female merely heightened that terror, because as the Afghan women show, they can be a lot nastier.

When she broadcast from the command center, again it was psychological. She's on your frequency, and is announcing that no quarter will be given. As much as a pirate expects as the old saying goes 'a long drop and a short stop' they would rather take their chances with the justice system rather than with a ticked off field commander.

If you have ever read Goldin's novelization of the Princess bride (Or if you have seen the movie) remember the scene where they charge the 60 men at the gate? In the book they had an additional line which made the scene actually make sense. 'The dread Pirate Roberts leaves no survivors.

Anyone who wants to be a survivor must leave now'.


'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; 05-27-2006 at 05:14 PM. Reason: malfunctioning url
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Old 06-03-2006, 04:43 PM   #127
machievelli
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(Deep Bow)
I am terribly sorry that this is so late in arriving. I have been working on other projects, and one of them, an erotic fairy story in the real world, went from about 40 pages to over 200.

But I have failed you all in not delivering this in a more timely manner.



The Investigation

All Breia had done in that cramped interrogation cell was stand there, arms crossed. Thanks to the helmet, she had not bothered to glare at him. Instead she had listened to a popular piece of music. When she reached a point where it was of the ‘toe-tapping’ type, she had of course tapped her toes. This had a marked effect on the man as well, causing him to stutter, stumble over words, and become frantic.

If she had been writing a doctoral dissertation of psychological reactions, she would have been intrigued, but with nothing to do but be a grim presence, it was merely boring.

Sienna has sat across from him, sternly asking the questions, using that gift of hers that Breia was still learning, to elicit more response when he attempted to lie. It didn’t work on everyone, she had explained. It worked best on the weak minded. But could bring out more truthful responses in almost everyone. She surmised that part of it was the natural ‘lie detector’ that most people had, and which in some Jedi became a highly honed tool.

She had always been able to sense when someone lied before, and it had been suggested by the Masters of the Monastery that this had caused the new effect, being able to actually convince someone to do something they did not want to do. Luckily for most Jedi it was something they had to learn to do, so the few that had gone rogue through the years had not learned it yet.

Cyron Corissi, Manager, had worked for Deriotech Corporation of Coruscant for years, but had been fired when discrepancies had shown up in the accounts he had controlled. He was a gambling addict, and had been caught embezzling corporate funds. His termination was of the rare ‘not suitable for rehire’ type, which would have kept him on the public dole list until he proved worthy again. But his gambling had actually escalated rather than stopped. He had run up debts to a lot of gambling establishments, and a number of those debts were to people that broke bones rather than talking.

Four years earlier, he had been approached by another corporation, one unwilling to tell him who they were, or where they were based. They would cover his debts, pay him a salary, and threatened that the first time he stole would be his last ever. All he had needed was to see one man thrown out of an airlock a week after he was hired to get the message. Threats had done what nothing else could.

He had become the one thing the pirates did not have, a trained manager able to operate in a wide variety of locales, able to set up and run the ground-side support for ships and crews in any port they came upon. He listed ports, front companies, suppliers, names of officers of ships the Pirate operated, and in some cases, even names of ships that had been taken by them.

The base here at Thule had been a recent addition. Five years earlier, a Corporation had put in a cargo handling station. Eight months earlier, the Pirates had hit the station in force. The people of the planet below didn’t even know they had been taken over, though they had wondered why they were under quarantine. The smooth talking Corissi had claimed to be the new station manager, and told them that there was a severe outbreak of Iridian Plague on the trade route, and all travel from the planet was restricted for fear that it might be passed. Things like mail and supplies had been still arriving, so the citizenry had no real complaints.

The Corporation that legally owned the station had been sending messages, and seemed to accept the replies Corissi had returned. Since the station had been controlled five ships had been captured. All of them independent. The Corporate line ships and larger private ships had been left alone. They had not been snatching every ship that came by, only an occasional one.

What bothered the Jedi most was where the prizes went and what happened to their cargos. There Corissi had no clue. As for those taken here either prize crews took them out, or men were sent from the ‘head office’ and took them away along with the crews.

Breia could tell when they had reached the end of his store house of knowledge when the now totally compliant Corissi had begun looking sidelong at her, and started to sweat. The information he had given them would condemn him to death at their word.

Sienna looked at her, and Breia turned and walked out without a word.

“We will discover where you have lied. If you have, make peace with your gods now.” She said, the voder making it a flat threat. She stood, and left.

Breia pulled off the helmet, shaking her hair free. “I hated that.”

Sienna removed her helmet. wiping her face. “I hated it to. But it gave me a chance.”

“A chance for what?” Breia asked suspiciously.

Sienna motioned at the suit she wore. “These are designer made. The standard ones issued to the Marines are black like yours with camouflage capability. When they released them for civilian use, the designers added extra frills. They are the craze back on Corellia right now.” Sienna touched a control on her wrist, and her suit went smoothly from red to an iridescent green.

“They can be locked as yours is, but by tweaking the programming just a little-”

Breia’s went from black to flesh colored. Without the breastplate of a combat suit, she looked as if she were standing there naked.

“Deal with that.” Sienna laughed.

Breia didn‘t seem alarmed. “Funny.” She brought out a hand control. “I wondered why you spent so much time in that shop. I called them afterward, and they told me of the ‘modifications’ you had made to the suit. I thought it was so amusing I had them give me a control to modify yours as well.”

Now both of them were standing there apparently in the buff. Sienna flinched.

“Now, as the patient holding the dentist’s wedding tackle said, ‘Now we’re not going to hurt each other, are we‘?”

Sienna sighed. “You win.” She reset Breia’s suit. Breia returned the favor. They walked down the passageway. As they entered the bay, Sienna quickly reset it again. Breia stopped at a wolf whistle, looked down, and then back. “Maybe you should look down.” Sienna as well had returned to flesh tone. “I set the control so your suit to mimic whatever my suit setting is the next time it is changed.”

“Damn.”

“Well, are you going to admit defeat?”

“Please no!” An anonymous crewman shouted. He ended with a wail as if heartbroken.

“I’ll never live this down.” Sienna moaned.

*****

Admiral Lucas strode into the building like a capital ship, surrounded by his staff. The lift was ahead, and he saw the figure waiting for him. As it opened, Cracken stumbled, falling into him.

“Sorry, sir.“ He said, then got off two floors up. Lucas could feel the data chip, and inwardly he grinned. Finally!

The data was clearly marked, and damning. A pattern of odd promotions had appeared, along with an equally odd pattern of deaths retirements and replacements in key positions. The present head of BuShips disposal, Admiral Lankar had been in his job only a few years, and already discrepancies had begun to appear, at least under a microscope. Worse yet Lucas’ own adjutant was also in the ring.

The Wasps weren’t the only ships that had been diverted. There were seven in all, including an old frigate that had supposedly been disposed as a target. Money had flowed into the hands of these men, and that had come from...

He touched his com screen. “I’m going out for breakfast.” He snapped. He stormed out of the building, for all the world like a man who still had problems.

*****

Logos looked up as his screen flashed. His assistant Queren Siel looked at him. “Sir, there is an odd message.”

“Read it.”

“Bird seared. What dressing?”

He had the man repeat it, then asked the sender. The address was one of the smaller restaurants in Coronet near the spaceport. “I am going out for a while.”

*****

Lucas sat down, ordering tea, and relaxed. The restaurant was owned by an old friend named Frin Below, an officer that had been badly injured, and retired. Frin nodded to him, and talked to his waiter. The service was prompt. Ten minutes later, Logos walked in. He sat across from the Admiral. “Well?” Lucas slid the chip across, and Logos scanned the file. “This is bad.”

“How bad is it on your end?”

“Three top rankers and an incompetent head man.” Logos replied. “If we can move fast, it will be simpler."

“The worst is that everything ends in a wall of Corporate maneuvering. We know ships is sold off the books, but not who bought them. We can’t close this out unless we can discover another link.” Lucas said depressed. “We arrest these people, and six months, a year from now they’re back in business.

Logos sipped his drink. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Would your man be willing to crack another data base?”

“Who's?” Lucas flinched when he heard the answer. “You know, I was ready to retire. This will be the perfect way to end my career.”

*****

Star Trader moved away from the station, heading back out. Her fighters had been left at the station, along with 200 of the Marines, and the anti-shipping weapons that had been carried as cargo and were now deployed. The next pirate to arrive would be in for a rather nasty shock.

Freya Dodonna sighed as her ship entered hyper space. She turned to the matched pair of dark eminences, for Breia had found she kind of liked the way she looked in the skin tight suit.

As long as someone else didn’t control the setting.

“Well it’s back home, and we can report mission accomplished.”

“But there are still ships loose out there.” Breia mused. We destroyed three, but according to that ONI report, there are perhaps ten more out there.”

“When dealing with pirates, you have to look at it like a gardener.” Freya commented. “You pull the weeds you can reach, and make sure they don’t grow back.”

“Where do you think it will lead, Breia?” Sienna asked.

“Too far up for my liking.” The older woman replied. “Seven high ranking officers just at Corellia. I wonder how bad it is where the others are?”

“We can only wait and find out.” Sienna replied.

“I’ll head back to our quarters. Maybe rereading the material will give me some clue.”

“I’ll be with you shortly.” As Breia walk off the deck, Sienna nonchalantly drew a small control from the pouch on her belt.

Freya saw it. “You-”

“Just a fire suppression drill in the passageway. I just set the temperature index to body temperature.”

There was a thudding of alarms, then the sound of a lot of foam being dumped fast.

There was a long moment of silence.

“SIENNA!”

“Now we’re even.”

“So you think sister. Why not go that way.” She pointed toward the auxiliary entrance, which followed the wiring conduits. Sienna took off at a run.

The hatch opened, and Breia stormed in like a Warrior goddess. She was smeared with fire fighting foam, hair stiff as it began to dry. Freya merely pointed toward the same exit her sister had taken. Breia stalked after her.

“Little sister, I think you have met your match.” She mused, turning back to her controls.


'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
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
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Old 06-03-2006, 09:33 PM   #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
But I have failed you all in not delivering this in a more timely manner.
I didn't think so. You've been writing and posting quite a bit here in the CEC so I just figured you were taking a break. I didn't have a problem with it.

The prankster feud between Sienna and Breia just keeps getting better and better. Interesting that Sienna's older sister thinks Sienna has met her match in Breia, heh-heh-heh. Yeah, I guffawed a couple of times as I read this chapter. Quite amusing.

I look forward to seeing how Corelia and Coruscant deal with their respective subterfuge issues.


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Old 06-04-2006, 12:47 AM   #129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I didn't think so. You've been writing and posting quite a bit here in the CEC so I just figured you were taking a break. I didn't have a problem with it.
When before I was posting an average of ten pages every other day, I felt like I had slacked off big time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
The prankster feud between Sienna and Breia just keeps getting better and better. Interesting that Sienna's older sister thinks Sienna has met her match in Breia, heh-heh-heh. Yeah, I guffawed a couple of times as I read this chapter. Quite amusing. .
Wait until we get to the rigged toilet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I look forward to seeing how Corelia and Coruscant deal with their respective subterfuge issues.

That is what I was pushing for. Four planets and three races are involved, but there is no specific internatilnal laws covering it. I.E., the criminals on Corellia can run to say Ryloth, and there is no extradition.

This book is going to end with the first conference between planets with the idea of forming something 'let's call it a Republic' that spans beyond the atmosphere of a specific planet.


'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 06-05-2006, 01:23 AM   #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
When before I was posting an average of ten pages every other day, I felt like I had slacked off big time.
Your 'slacking off' gave me some much needed time to catch up. I had so many projects to do in May it wasn't funny, and I spent time with my dad after he had surgery (he's doing well now), so I didn't have time to give it the good read that I wanted to do til now.
Besides, when the muse strikes, you have to go for it.

Only a couple minor things I noted:

I got lost in one of the transitions (when you switch from the cantina scene with Lucas and Logos and go to the Star Trader) and couldn't figure out where I was at for a moment until you mentioned Dodonna's name.
Like cutmeister, I figured out the sensor range thing, but I had to read it a couple times to get it--I think if you reword that just a bit it won't be any problem at all.

The stuff I like:

The feud is hilarious. Color changing skin suits indeed.

I love Cracken's character. So delightfully 'bumbling'. You could probably create an entire series on this guy alone.

The trojan horse merchant ship was great, and yes your traps are wicked. I liked the battle scenes and the bad cop/'badder' cop thing, but then again I find criminal psychology rather interesting. The 'music in the helmet to cut boredom' thing made me laugh.

I like seeing how the pieces are coming together on the information and figuring out who's involved. If I were Lucas and felt particularly ornery, I'd plan a personal sting for my adjutant....

The only bad thing is that I have to wait for the next installment of intrigue.


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Old 06-22-2006, 06:24 PM   #131
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Yes slacked off again. However if you look at at the lulu.com website this time next week, I will have another Faerie book up there. 200 odd pages in an orgiastic blast.

So to make up for it...

Other problems

Samsun hit the floor, rolling. He was dressed only in a silken loincloth and a collar. He stayed on the ground, looking back toward the door. The guard, a Rodian, sneered, and the door closed. “I bet Yodai is chuckling his butt off over this.” He whispered.

It had taken a week to get him this close, and it wasn’t until three days ago that Yodai and he had worked out what had to be done. Drubba the Hutt dealt so heavily in the black markets that he had a pudgy hand in everything. Spice, slaves, ships, stolen cargo, you name it he handled it. He was a dark figure in the shadows to everyone in the Black trade. No one met him, the people who carried the messages were always people doing his employees favors rather than Drubba. You could arrest a hundred of his messengers and every employee without being able to prove that Drubba was connected at all.

The only way to break in and discover what was happening was to get beneath that surface. But for an outsider, there was only one way to do that. Become part of it.

Samsun had discovered through the net that the police were completely compromised. The Hutt had always been beings of business, and the term ‘mordida’ would have been defined by local politicians and public employees as ‘proper business’. A Hutt constable walked around with his truncheon in one hand, and the other hand out hoping for a bribe. The same was true right up to the Oligarch. Samsun was surprised, because the society had taken this fact, incorporated it, and went on. They had actually set rates for what was supposed to be paid as a gift. An official who charged too much could actually be fired for demanding more!

As a child they learned to extort money from their elders for chores. They used this money to pay teachers for better grades. The parents paid the children for good grades, and this money was used to pay for higher education, which meant the parents paid them for these grades, and this money was saved for later jobs.

While wildly confusing to the average citizen from just about anywhere else, it also meant that their society worked. To become a clerk, you had to sit (Or in the case of a Hutt slither) for comparative exams. Since you didn’t try for such a position without the necessary baksheesh, it meant that while the officer that gave the exam did collect his toll, he actually had to go by who was best on the exam, and complaining to the local equivalent of the labor board that you had paid your mordida but didn‘t get the job only worked if you could prove bias. The same was true all the way up the corporate and political ladder. No one tried for a job unless they A: had the money to grease the palms, and B: were qualified.

The Hutt had slavery, but it had started among their own race as debt slavery. You were good at your job, but didn’t have the cash. Your boss would allow you to slide on his payment but you didn’t get paid until he was reimbursed. You had a run of bad luck and your boss extended money as credit, and you worked X number of days or weeks to pay it back. But during that time your contract could be sold to another boss, who would expect the same consideration...

Oddly enough, this meant the criminal element were actually more trustworthy and lenient on the whole than the ‘honest’ citizens. They offered terms, gave credit, and since they could actually go into a Hutt court and have the case ruled in their favor if you failed to pay them, they were content.

However about a century ago, they had extended this ‘rule’ to other races. A human working for a Hutt company could end up in debt, then slavery by merely forgetting to read all of the fine print on their contract. When you go to court, and discover your boss has a legal right to have you as property, it can be quite a shock.

Governments quietly put out warnings to their people, but that didn’t stop it. Worse yet, since a Hutt would assure that he had diplomatic immunity before traveling, they couldn’t even free his slave by merely allowing them asylum. The Hutt assured that any businessman that traveled had such immunity as a matter of course.

No one liked it, but at the same time, could do nothing about it.

However there are those pernicious beings of every race that seem to think such a right cannot be extended to just one race. Soon there were Twi-lek Duros, even Human slave owners. As long as they restricted that to their dealings only on Hutt worlds, again, there was nothing anyone could do.

When Samsun had decided to infiltrate the network, he had merely gone to a casino, lost a lot of money quickly, and ended up as Drubba’s slave. However he had two hole cards they didn’t know about.

The first was that at any time Yodai could go to the same casino, pay off the marker, and have him freed in minutes. The other was a skill Samsun had taught at the Monastery.


Samsun could cause electronic equipment to do what he wanted them to do. If he had not entered the order, he would have been barred from the electronic gaming area of every gambling establishment in the Galaxy. When he was three, he had become enamored of the flashing lights of the local slot machines. Since he couldn’t enter the casinos yet, he had made the lights dance standing outside the window watching. The fact that when he did this the machine immediately paid out the jackpot didn’t disturb him. After all, it wasn’t his money being lost.

He could have walked through a casino, setting off randomly every jackpot in the place. All of it only because the lights were so pretty.

That had gotten the three year old noticed by the Jedi.

That was sixteen years ago, and the young boy that liked to make pretty lights dance had become the somber young man that now looked around the room. There weren’t many here right now. Maybe ten or fifteen people, mainly Twi-lek women, Bith and humans.

Only the Hutt...

One of the training classes when he was still a boy had been understanding social structures of the races you would deal with on missions. During one class, a human student had stood up, and given a long rambling discourse on something he didn’t remember now. One of the other students, A Twi-lek, had commented that only a human could find that much meaning in nothing.

The teacher, a Hutt had stopped it before it got violent. He had given the class an assignment. Everyone would write down every such aphorism they had ever heard. Each such list would be a minimum of ten pages long, and they would check with each other so that they didn’t repeat them. However if there was one that had been repeated, the students had to note when they had been repeated and how many times.

The top three were amusing, and appalling equally. They were;

‘Only humans could make war a noble venture’ and;

‘Only the Hutt could make slavery not only acceptable, but profitable ‘.

‘Only a Twi-lek would consider choosing a mate because of how she dances’.

It had taken three weeks of arguing before the class as a whole was willing to admit that these aphorisms were not completely true. The reason they did was after the almost seventy pages had been turned in, the Master had then given every student all of the aphorisms that denigrated his race, and told him ‘prove them wrong’.

Some were astonished to discover that more slaves had been bought by humans than any other race. That some of the most vicious and vainglorious soldiers were among the Duros, who considered war a business venture with casualties. That there were humans of fifteen different planets that chose their mates or sexual partners only after watching them dance.

It was a sobering lesson.

Samsun was looking for a specific Twi-Leki face. There was a woman named Ramadora who had worked in one of Drubba’s office. She had been a data entry level worker. She was renowned for her memory according to their source. Something she had merely glanced at in passing when she was ten was as easily accessible as calling up the data on a computer.

But unlike a computer, her memory could not merely be deleted.

One day someone left a pile of data chips on her desk, and she had entered them. Unfortunately it was supposed to have been given to another clerk, someone who worked on the shadow side of Drubba’s business. The files had meant nothing to her, but there was enough evidence in them that even the bribe ridden Hutt courts would have had to do something.

When the mistake was discovered, Drubba had acted swiftly. He could have merely had a bullet put through her brain, but he still had a use for her, and couldn’t take the chance that she would leave. So he had her kidnapped. When she woke up from the stun web, she was in his private retreat on an island in the Great Swamp. The palace was large enough for a hundred Hutt, but only holding Drubba and his dozen or so men, and the slaves. It was impossible to walk out, and no one had access to vehicles of any kind without his direct authorization.

Now he had an excellent administrator for his stable and criminal activities.

And Samsun intended to get her out of here. But she wasn’t in this room. The problem was, he couldn’t just wander about. The locked door wouldn’t stop him, it was electronic, and he could pop it by merely running his hands over the wall. The collar was also not a problem. He could convince it that it was obeying a punishment command just sitting here.

However as a slave he would not be allowed free run of the building. Once it got dark, he could do some judicious sneaking, but not until then.

The slave overseer came in. A human. “Three for gardening.“ He ordered. He pointed, and each slave got to their feet to follow him. He looked around, and pointed at Samsun. “You.“

Samsun climbed to his feet, feigning weakness, and followed.

The ‘garden’ was a chunk of the swamp that had been left natural in the center of the structure. Samsun noticed immediately the traces of something moving under the surface. One of the slaves leaned toward the water watching them and Samsun grabbed her, pulling her back sharply. A froglike animal leaped up, missing her face by inches, then fell back in.

“The master’s favorite food.” The overseer chuckled. “It’s favorite food is stupid humans.” He motioned toward the mud on the edge of the water. “It must be shoveled out there. If you are not careful you are dinner!”

They had to stand on the squelching loose mudflat, using hoes to pull mud back from the edge. As they did, the daily rains began, washing the mud back toward the pond. Obviously this was a full time job. A killer frog stuck it’s head up, eyes watching the prey just out of it’s reach.

A large form approached. Drubba, and behind him- Ramadora and another woman.

“The shipment from Coruscant has arrived, ready for transshipment to Thule-” The other woman, a human with a collar said.

“Thule has been reported as taken by Corellian forces.” Ramadora replied. “Three ships were lost there.”

“Why was I not told?” The Hutt demanded.

“I told you yesterday at 1300 hours.” Ramadora replied serenely. “Your reply was-”

“Silence!” He grumbled, sliding along the edge of the swamp. He stopped, watching the water. “Doshan. How are my pets?”

The overseer came over, bowing and scraping. “They are not that frisky right now, lord.”

“Maybe they need to be fed.” One of the large eyes rotated to the slaves. “The small one will do.”

Doshan scraped a bit more, then ran over. The smallest slave, the one Samsun had saved earlier, a human girl of about fifteen was grabbed and thrown into the water. It took every scrap of Samsun’s will to resist killing the man where he stood. The girl had time for one scream before the water boiled. Blood sprayed into the water, and one of the froglike animals climbed up, ripping into her face, and stifling her cry as she went under. The water continued to roil for several more moments, then suddenly was silent.

“Get the collar out later.” Drubba ordered. “So where are we to send the merchandise?” He asked, slithering on.

“The factor said that Mooshiro on Ryloth would accept it for transshipment.”

As she passed, Samsun slipped, falling against her. He caught her arm, apologizing profusely, then began writhing as he felt the first shot of pain through the collar. He disconnected the system, just pretending to be in agony, watching the overseer through slitted eyes until he stopped triggering it.

Samsun watched the trio walk away. He would have a reason to sneak later.
*****

That evening, Samsun reached under the collar, pulling out the comlink he had hidden. How and where he had hidden it before the collar had gone on was best left to your imagination. He set it down, then touched the back of his collar. The electronic lock snicked, and it came off in his hands.

He set it down, lifting the comlink, and sliding it into his loincloth. The door was just as easy. He moved down the corridor toward the ‘garden. There was a muttering, and he paused.

“No Doshan, you get the collar.” He snarled. “Can’t let some precious slavey do it. I got to do it.”

Samsun came around the corner. The overseer was standing as far back from the water as he could, wielding a long pole. He was probing in the mud of the bottom, trying to find the collar. Samsun grinned, then went back to the slave’s quarters, returning with the collar.

Doshan felt something land on his back, shoving him face down in the glutinous mud. He felt something being attached around his neck, then the weight was gone. He snarled, leaping to his feet. It was that damn new slave, without a collar!

Samsun held up the control box. “I would think before you move.” He said.

Doshan felt his neck. The collar was on him! “The way out is that way.”
Doshan lied, pointing toward the Master’s quarters block.

“Is that so.” Samsun grinned. “I would swear that is where Drubba lives. Right near the Harem.” He held up the comlink. A small screen was on the side of it, and a dot flashed in that direction.

Doshan opened his mouth to scream, then the shock of the collar drove him to his knees. He felt a hand grab him, the pole thrust into his hands, and he was shoved backwards. The pole caught on something, and he opened his eyes through the pain to see the water only a few inches from his face. Before he could try to resist, something leaped, catching him by the throat. He flailed, falling into the water.

Samsun walked away, headed for the harem. He stopped outside the door, and checked it not only with his eyes, but with those senses that made him Jedi. There was a security section that would automatically activate a collar if someone passed through it. The system was switched on, and was probably for use for the night. He deactivated it, opening the door.

He ghosted past the veiled enclosures until he came to the right one. Ramadora was asleep, and he caught her neck, using a sanguinary strangle. The sleep became unconsciousness. He removed the collar. There was something at her hip, and he ran his hand over it. Something implanted...

Of course. With a photographic memory no password was safe from her. No security system capable of holding her if she knew how to deactivate it. But an implant was where she couldn’t get to it.

He picked her up, carrying her back to the garden. The body of the Overseer was being dragged into the water, and he fought it long enough to pull the dead man’s boot knife free. It was razor sharp. He keyed the comlink locator button, then bent over the unconscious woman. He cut down, pulling out the small vial. He put it aside, then picked her and the comlink up.

There was a roar, and Master Gretu of Triseki was there, exhaust boiling the water of the pond away. Samsun picked up the still unconscious woman. A moment later, the ship was gone. All that remained to show was the crackle glazed glass of the now dried pond, with the bodies of Doshan and the inhabitants fused into it.


'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 06-23-2006, 09:20 AM   #132
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OK. So the Jedi have rescued a Twi'lek with a photographic memory from the clutches of Hutt slavery. What information does she have that will help the Jedi in their efforts to thwart the pirates? I'll stay tuned.


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Old 06-23-2006, 11:39 AM   #133
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I love this story, you're a very good writer Mach...


"You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

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Old 06-25-2006, 05:43 PM   #134
Jae Onasi
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I'm sure she and her memory will wreak havoc with the Hutt's finances. And the corrupt Corellians, Twi'leks, Coruscanti, etc., etc., etc.....


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Old 06-27-2006, 04:06 PM   #135
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To those that have been reading...

About three weeks ago, I discovered that we had Adult Swim on demand on our TV. Thinking I was going to watch the movie Ghost in the Shell, I discovered instead I had come into the middle of the first season of the Stand Alone Complex. The episode was #12, which I immediately dubbed 'Little Tachkoma lost'. I enjoyed their antics so much I used one as my Avatar.

If you have seen the series, you remember what happened to these little robots. It gave me the idea for what is about to occur aboard. So blame me, but blame the author of the series too. Well, just a little. After all, it wasn't his fault it happened.

Oh, A Whatever Prize to the first person who can tell me where my new signature came from...

The puzzle

The Jedi monk assigned to the communications room in the Corellian Monastery took the message sent via a Bothan message torpedo, looking at it. It was coded beyond her level, but the first line told her where it was to go. She forwarded it to Padawan Reyes and Kreil.

Only Kreil was in the monastery at the moment, and he decoded it, then added it to the sheaf of information so far recorded. When Reyes returned, they both began to correlate.

An intelligence puzzle is not unlike a jigsaw puzzle except you have no box to refer to as to what the picture might be. You have a lot of pieces that must be assembled, and worse yet, a lot of them are either from some other puzzle, or missing entirely. You may never have all the pieces.

You have to make all estimates from this lack of information, and because you might have preconceptions, you can be horribly wrong. One of the first rules taught to intelligence agents is that you do not use a preconception to prove a fact. You use facts to prove the preconception. If it does not fit the preconception, you discard the thought, not the facts. It is a lesson that is hard to learn. A lot of people can end up dead if you don’t learn the lesson.

Unlike a jigsaw puzzle however, you cannot get disgusted and just throw the damn thing away. You have to patiently wait for more facts to become available.

Bib Wanatagi had discovered a net of men within the Twi-leki government that had been party to the deception they were investigating. The worst part of that was that all of them were highly placed in the present government. Kalo Fortuna had reported less than a week earlier that he was unable to crucify his old enemy at Ryloth shipyards, but had gained enough evidence to convict seven or eight of his subordinates.

The problem was, the paper trail ended at the atmosphere. The ships had been bought by companies that did not exist beyond their logos on offices. The one lead they had was contacts with the Hutt and Coruscant.

A short time later, Padawans Yodai and Samsun arrived. Now the data had a context. Ramadora was not what would be called an inquisitive woman, and her confinement as a slave had not changed that. But her mind held data that finally filled in a great many of the blanks in the puzzle.

All they were waiting for now was Sienna and Breia to arrive.

*****

A4D9 stood at the bottom, of the ramp, contemplating his instructions. Sienna had ordered him to assure that if Breia intended a prank in return for her last one, A4 was to report it to her.

However, Breia had circumvented that instruction by assigning the prank she planned to the droid. It set up an interesting dichotomy.

It is not Breia arranging the prank, so he should not report it. But Sienna had specified that if Breia planned one, to report it. However while Breia did plan the prank the droid was to arrange it, She was not pulling it, A4 was.

If the droid had been of any series but an A4, it would have been reduced to an electronic dither. But the A4s were made of sterner stuff than that. They were designed to operate under conditions where all hell was breaking loose, and to operate efficiently regardless of circumstances. Their AIs were capable of growth and learning.

The A4 series droids were designed for shipboard use by the Corellian Navy, but was being recalled because of those quirks. The A4s downloaded everything in it’s search for knowledge and were very eclectic. There were few hundred of the series still operating.

Straight from the factory, they had default settings. This is how to replace a valve, this is how to reroute a damaged conduit. This is how to load a cannon for a snub fighter. Picture a man fresh from a military training school.

The quirk in their programming had been because of a young programmer that had decided that the droids needed to be able to decide what they needed to learn to do their jobs. Being a reader, he had specified that they would learn by searching databases.

The problem is, as the old axiom says, there are three ways to do something. The right way, the wrong way, and the ‘approved military’ way. Straight from the factory, every setting was already there to do it in the approved military manner perfectly every time.

But to become expert at their job, a human mechanic must know when to set The Book aside, and find another way to do it. If he succeeds, and his method proves more efficient, eventually it might become part of The Book.

It bothered the Navy when the A4s learned other ways and did them in the most efficient manner rather than the prescribed manner.

Sort of like a human mechanic.

A4D9 had the longest running memory of the entire series because the Jedi had allowed it free reign to do so.

It had also been put in the position of pretending to be a massive homicidal spider, downloading the entire medical database from a station and the protocols from a police combat unit.

To say it was ‘conflicted’ is like saying the sun is warm.

A crewman came by, and saw the droid standing at the foot of the ramp. “You!”

The eyes turned to look at him. A pedipalp arm moved in a ‘who me?’ gesture.

“Get over with the others.” He ordered.

Neither Breia nor any of her partners had been this abrupt with it before, and A4 was irritated. But orders were orders. The bases of the legs folded into road wheels, and it rolled across the bay. The sailor grumbled, linking the seven A4s still aboard into a series. The Navy had decided that the way to stop the problem with the A4 was to synchronize their memories. If they already had all available information on say maintenance of the ship‘s snub fighters, they wouldn’t wander off and find seven or eight thousand books (A lot of them fictional) to download and go through.

A4D9 allowed the link, and all seven droids suddenly shared the memories of that unit.

*****

Star Trader dropped out of Hyper space three planetary diameters from Corellia. Her commander notified the Navy of the mission’s success, then turned to the two Jedi that had accompanied her crew.

“Thank you for your assistance, Freya.”

The captain cocked her head. “You know, little sister, that almost sounds patronizing. As if my crew just held your coats.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.” Sienna apologized. “I meant-”

“I know you little twit.” She stood, hugging her sister, then turned to Padawan Solo. “It’s been a pleasure.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Breia replied, shaking her hand. “Be careful, and may the Force be with you.”

Freya held the hand tightly as her sister headed for the door. “Don’t hurt her too much.” She whispered.

“Why Captain, whatever do you mean?” Breia asked.

*****

As the pair of Jedi entered the landing bay, it happened. Of the seven, two had decided that Sienna needed to be warned, but other droids beside them immediately incapacitated those two traitors.

Sienna ducked as a shot of the webbing plastic the A4s used shot over her head. Unfortunately she didn’t avoid the shot at knee level. Before she could scream, she found herself hoisted headfirst toward the overhead. Another droid spun, picked up a canister of heavy lubricating oil, feeding it into a dispenser leg. Another to that one’s right did the same with a canister of fire-fighting foam. A third had done the same with emergency sealant for hull breeches. The last had picked up a packing case full of packing materials, merely small soft pieces of plastic. It fired two threads, and hoisted itself toward the overhead after her.

The legs of the three droids rose, then discharged. Due to the differences in their specific gravities, the firefighting foam shot out and arrived first, followed by the hull sealant, followed by the oil. As target, Sienna was buffeted one way then another by the blasts but she wasn’t the only one effected. After all, when used in proper operations, the oil should have been dispensed at a millimeter’s distance. The sealant at less than a meter, and the fire fighting foam at a safe distance from the fire. Once the canisters had drained, the droid that had rappelled up dumped the case of foam pieces over the struggling person. Four seconds later, it’s bearings seized as the sealant hardened on contact with air.

Except for the screaming from overhead, there was only one sound in the bay when the canisters had drained. That was the chuckling of five robots.

Breia looked at the mess, and the furious ratings spattered with one or more fluids. She looked upward. The oil had in fact atomized, and was probably gumming up the air circulation system even now.

“I think we had better let her down.” She said.

“BREIA!!!”


'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 06-27-2006, 05:56 PM   #136
Jae Onasi
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Oh, Lordy. That was funny. I'm looking forward to seeing how the puzzle comes together, too.

Does googling the sig count? I'm making use of my available resources, after all.


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

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Old 06-27-2006, 07:39 PM   #137
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This is great! me reading first four chapters in a row, especialy when they are this long realy means something. Only thing i am confused about is what is the time when this is happening... well i understand it is looong time ago, before republic i mean, thats long.
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:07 PM   #138
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi

Does googling the sig count? I'm making use of my available resources, after all.
By all means. Go for it. At least someone other than Hallucination will get the prize. The little gtuy has what, three?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremia Skywalk
This is great! me reading first four chapters in a row, especialy when they are this long realy means something. Only thing i am confused about is what is the time when this is happening... well i understand it is looong time ago, before republic i mean, thats long.
It is the sequel to Star Wars the Beginning by some guy named Machievelli. That one is set by my estimate about 25,000 years ago.


'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 RedHawke; 06-28-2006 at 12:54 AM. Reason: Combining double post...
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Old 06-28-2006, 12:36 AM   #139
Jae Onasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
By all means. Go for it. At least someone other than Hallucination will get the prize. The little gtuy has what, three?
and a half if you count the one I shared with him.

Answer: Dominion Tank Police.

My favorite Anime btw! -RH


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

Read The Adventures of Jolee Bindo and see the amazing Peep Surgery
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Love Star Trek AND gaming? Check out Lotus Fleet.


Last edited by RedHawke; 06-28-2006 at 12:55 AM.
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Old 06-28-2006, 08:10 AM   #140
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Another great chapter...the practical jokes are getting better all the time!


"You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

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Old 06-28-2006, 10:32 AM   #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
and a half if you count the one I shared with him.

Answer: Dominion Tank Police.

My favorite Anime btw! -RH
My problem with anime is that the blurbs sound so stupid, but then the series is so good. That happened with ProjectA-Ko, Tank POlice and Ranma.

Yup you get the prize.


'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 06-28-2006, 11:07 AM   #142
Jae Onasi
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Woo! Whatever Prize! Thank you! I'll give it the appropriate appreciation that it deserves.

Battle of the Planets is still my fav, but I haven't seen a lot of the others.


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

Read The Adventures of Jolee Bindo and see the amazing Peep Surgery
Story WIP: The Dragonfighters
My blog: Confessions of a Geeky Mom--Latest post: Security Alerts!
Love Star Trek AND gaming? Check out Lotus Fleet.

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Old 06-28-2006, 11:19 AM   #143
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Woo! Whatever Prize! Thank you! I'll give it the appropriate appreciation that it deserves.

Battle of the Planets is still my fav, but I haven't seen a lot of the others.
Project A-ko's blurb is a child born from Superman and Wonder Woman (Super powers but can't fly) versus a girl who would be Lex Luthor in technological capability fighting over who will be best friends with another girl. When you add in an alien invasion, a ship full of Amazon warriors, and the city they live in getting leveled three times, it gets really ridiculous.

Ranma's was even worse. 'splash a martial artist with cold water, he becomes a girl. splash him with hot water, he becomes a boy'.

Both were good enough that if I had the money I'de have the entire sets.


'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 06-28-2006, 06:40 PM   #144
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Raiding

“It was only a harmless prank.” Sienna said. She had been cleaned up, as had Breia. They stood in what is nicknamed a ‘Cadet Brace’, a position of attention so tight that the body cannot move.

“So let us see what your little ‘harmless’ pranks have caused.” Freya began in a deadly calm voice. She picked up the pad from her desk. “First, your A4 has infected six A4 droids with this extended intelligence you allowed. My Droid maintenance officer tells me that reinitializing their AIs will do us no good, because they will grow back to their present level the first time they access our data banks. So they are worthless to this ship.

“These droids then sprayed 20 liter canisters of firefighting foam, D71 lubricating oil, and emergency hull sealant in an enclosed docking bay. The foam is no problem, but the oil atomized, got into the filters and clogged them and since no one had told the droids that were replacing them the cause, also flooded four more decks, causing yet more filters to be clogged. Luckily the damage control officer stopped them from replacing more because if he had not the life support plant would have been affected as well. However that caused 400 credits of damage and two thousand man hours because every air vent between Decks 9 and three has a layer of oil on them.

“The hull sealant did it’s job, which means we have an additional 400 man hours of cleanup with blowtorches and hammers to break it all free.” She set the pad down, and the calm broke like a levee wall hit by a 20 meter flood surge.

It was a good thing the Corellian Navy had spent the money to soundproof the Captain’s office. Freya blistered the air for a full half an hour before she calmed down.

“Now, you-” She pointed at her sister. “Will promise me by all you deem holy that you will stop this practical joking now and in the future. If I hear about one more such incident, I will hunt you down and give you the spanking you so richly deserve. Swear!”

“I promise, Freya.”

And you!” She pointed at Breia. “You are old enough to know better. If I notified the Jedi Council on Corellia what you had done do you think they would have approved?” Breia shook her head. “Answer me, damn you!”

“They would not approve, Captain.” Breia answered in a very small voice.

Freya growled. “Then the same goes for you.”

“I swear, Captain.”

“Get out of my sight and off my deck. MOVE!”

The two Jedi staggered into the passageway. They looked at each other silently, then suddenly grinned at each other.

“We’d have to stop.” Breia said. “I don’t think I can top that!”

“Agreed.” Sienna stuck out her hand, and they shook. The cabin door opened, and Freya stood there, glaring at them.

“Oh I forgot, I won’t have to spank you, little sister.”

“Huh?”

The captain handed her a pad. “The surveillance cameras were on, and the rating assigned assured we’d get good... coverage of the incident.” She closed the door.

Sienna looked at Breia with a cocked eyebrow, then keyed the pad. For a long moment, she stared at it, then her face went ashen. Breia took it away, and started it over.

Sienna had been in full ‘bad cop’ uniform. Skin-suit and helmet set for Scarlet. The hull sealant had plastered her left arm to her body, and covered half of her, dripping down until it had hardened. The oil had atomized over her uniformly meaning that attempting to move the frozen form or work on freeing her had been a form of group mud wrestling.
They couldn’t use the sonic system used if it had actually been a hull breach because the oil would have ignited under the sonic waves. Removing her from the suit had been a long painstaking process of cutting the unaffected parts of the suit away, then cutting off the rest of the now solid metal in sections.

At the time no one had considered exactly what this meant. But from the camera above, it looked like a poorly done pornographic movie. She had been nude underneath the suit, so there was a full half hour of her first half nude down the right side, then more being revealed as time went on starting at her head, and moving down her body until her leg was finally free. Through it all, they had been required to wrestle her into position for the next cut, which meant her skin had been well oiled for the viewer.

The two women looked at each other, stunned. “Well your secret is out, Sienna.” She looked at the last segment. “All of them.”

*****

“They’re shot! the Droid maintenance head almost screamed. He looked at the six A4s in the other room. They were not standing against the wall as they should unless on an assignment. Instead they were in a circle in the center of the room talking. Not with sealed packet communications as they should, but for all the world like a bunch of people at a party! He’d stopped listening halfway through because their discussion, like any such discussion of people, had at times gotten acrimonious. They had argued, even shouted!

“Total brain immersion.” His assistant commented.

“I don’t care what you call it. What it means is we have to send the lot of them down to the lab for analysis and scrapping.” The Head snarled. “Leaving us without them.”

“We can get-”

“No more A4s!”

‘Yes, sir.” The deputy tapped the annunciator.

“-but the analysis shows that Brogol did not take into account ambient movement of atmospheric elements when he came up with his weather prediction program.” One of the droids was saying.

“What do you mean? Chaos Theory suggests-” A droid began to reply.

“Don’t start in on Chaos Theory again!” Another interrupted. “Every time we talk you go on as if Chaos Theory explains everything, even though by definition it cannot!”

“May I have your attention please.”

“What do you mean you ill designed construct-”

“May I have your attention please.”

“One more word like that and I’m going to shove your pedi-palp up your stern access port!”

“SHUT UP!” The deputy roared. The droids fell silent. If all things had been normal, the droids would have formed up against the wall. But instead the eye stalks merely turned to look at the nearest monitor. “All A4 units will proceed to docking bay seven and load themselves onto the cargo shuttle there. With no talking!”

*****

The Jedi Council was in deliberation when Padawan Reyes came in abruptly.

“What is this?” Master Desical asked mildly.

“Sir, we have recorded everything of Drubba the Hutt’s operations that Ramadora knew. As you know all of it was recorded while she was in an hypnotic trance. It has taken us every minute since her arrival to do so.

“We were collating it when we came across this.” He held out the data pad. Desical looked at it, then passed it on to the Master to his left. “Is this verified?”

“Not yet, Master. But I must inform the investigators connected to ONI and Corellian Intelligence.”

“Which ones?”

“The ones Admiral Tran and Holani Solo began.” He pointed. “These names are part of the ‘official’ investigations.

*****

The message torpedoes had gone out, directed to the Jedi in most cases. Only one went to an official organization, that was sent to the Minister of the Interior of Nal Hutta. On Ryloth it went to Bib Watanagi.

*****

Drubba the Hutt meekly went with the authorities. His properties were seized, and he was banished.

*****
Premier Lassa glared at the two silent men in his office, then at the damning information that had been delivered.

“You are sure of this?” She demanded. Both Wanatagi and Fortuna nodded. She sighed, then keyed her annunciator. “I want to see the head of Intelligence and Buships in my office immediately. With their deputies.” She looked at the two men again. “Bib, you are the number 3 in Intelligence, would you take over?”

“Yes, Premier.”

“Do you want-”

“No, Premier.” He held up a hand. “That is the problem with our system. Too many in the upper echelon assign their friends and relatives to their staffs to pad them. I ask only that Morilli Desco of Records be assigned to assist me.”

“Does that blanket condemnation cover me as well?”

“I would like to say no, Premier. However one of the accused is your brother. The fact that you are willing to have him arrested speaks well of you. And so I will state to any media that asks me to comment.”

She sighed in relief. “Thank you, sir.”

*****

On Coruscant it went well. Fifteen men and women in Buships, Buweaps, and the intelligence committee were arrested with almost no trouble. Unfortunately, one of them sent off a message torpedo of his own.

*****

Sienna and Breia stepped off the ramp. Meeri stood there waiting for them.

“Meeri!” Breia ran forward, hugging her Padawan Learner. “You’re safe?”

“Yes.” The Ithorian said. “For three days now.”

When we’re done-”

“No, Master.”

Breia stopped, moving back to look her in the eye. “What do you mean?”

“That I have asked to be assigned to the conservation corps.”

“What!” For a trained Jedi, being assigned to the conservation corps was tantamount to admitting failure! “But Meeri-”

The Ithorian laughed. “It isn’t an admission of failure! The Corps senior officer here on Corellia wishes to retire, and I was offered his position.”

“Is that why you risked Iridian plague-”

“It wasn’t Iridian plague.” Meeri replied.

“But the canister!”

“My analysis was that it was Throidalian influenza.” Meeri replied coolly. “Which has a lot of the symptoms of Iridian plague, but not the lethal nature.” She looked at the pair. “Someone wanted to make everyone think the Neshtori had gotten weapons and wanted Corellia implicated.”

Breia looked at Sienna. “We had best-”

A Padawan came running out. “Padawan Solo! The Council needs to speak with you immediately!"


'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; 06-28-2006 at 06:43 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-28-2006, 06:46 PM   #145
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Before anyone asks, I remembered that Lucas as on Curuscant, so he has been replaced with Tran, the Corellian ONI head.

Hobart was head of the council on Coruscant, so he has been replaced by Master Desical

The Aqualish, who will not be found for another 10,000 years were replaced by the Neshtori, who as far as I know, is a race of my own creation.

Sort of like a soap opera isn't it?


'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 06-30-2006, 04:38 PM   #146
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Escape

The man read the terse message from Coruscant, then shut off his reader, looking out over the city.

It was all starting to come apart. The thrice damned Jedi had ruined over ten years of work without even breaking a sweat. The report from Bothuwai had told him that the GTA had subpoenaed all files regarding Wayfarer’s business records there after the corporate office was raided. His only chance to escape was to cause as much carnage as he could and pretend to die in the process.

He considered his subordinates here on Corellia impartially. None were irreplaceable. In fact their deaths would give intelligence a reason to stop further investigation. He tapped a button on his annunciator, then rose to go to his office to clear the evidence.

*****

Breia walked into the Council chamber. “We don’t have a lot of time, Padawan.” Desical snapped handing her the pad. Read that and come with me.”

Breia had learned at an early age to read and walk at the same time. Her father had been doing it all her life, and she had copied him-

She stopped.

“Ramadora’s memory includes the following statement from Drubba the Hutt’s file. ‘Chairman chief test pilot Darshan Solo has become inquisitive. His wife Holani must not discover the secret of Wayfarer Corporation. Shuttle rigged to crash. Solo on life support crippled‘.” She took a deep cleansing breath.

“Solo, let’s go!” Desical snapped. She nodded, following.

They reached the nerve center of the investigation. Reyes and Kreil along with Meeri and Sienna were going through the stacks of papers.

“Another one.” Meeri commented. “This one is the assistant to the Prime Minister.”

“What do we have so far?” Desical demanded.

“In the navy we have seven admirals including the heads of Buships Buweaps Commanding officer Planetary defense and deputy chief of ONI. In CIA we have three of the Deputy directors.” Reyes reported.

“Which leaves mother as the only deputy director not suborned?” Breia asked.

“Her and Deputy Director Prentiss. Padawan Solo. ONI has been notified, as has your mother-” Reyes spun as alarms went off.

*****

Prentiss grinned as his team approached Holani Solo’s office. The final nail in little miss Solo’s coffin had been delivered to him just a few moments ago. He pointed at Seela as they approached. “Arrest her for complicity.” He ordered. The man assigned by Deputy Director of Personnel Hostan moved over, signaling with his rifle for her to stand.

“Now.” Prentiss turned to ask the team leader what that meant. This meant he got to see the bullet that killed him.

Holani heard the blast, and was in motion slapping the annunciator and ducking before the door came in propelled by an explosive charge. She popped up, and her burst cut down the three men that charged in.

She relaxed. The man that remained popped up and she spun to fire.

*****

Breia grasped her chest. “Mother!” She spun, Sienna coming after her.

“Solo!” Desical shouted, but they were running so fast he wasn’t sure they had heard.

He chased after them arriving on the landing pad as Hawk Flight took off in a ground hugging course toward the center of the city at almost mach 3.

Meeri came running out right after him. “Master! the ringleader is-”

“Tell me in the air!” He ran to the nearest courier, Padawan Sani of Naboo.

Meeri spoke for several seconds. In the middle of it, Desical turned, headed instead to the Capitol Complex.

*****

Admiral Tran looked up, having only a second before his deputy shot him down. The man came in, and slammed down the all systems alarm. “All stations, Jedi are attacking the Naval Headquarters. Protect the Citadel at all costs!” He kicked the body aside as he sat at the computer.

*****

Captain Cracken heard the alarm, looking up with the placid way he had. Then he stood from his desk. He pulled the pistol from his desk drawer, and walked into the computer bay. At his instructions, the technicians locked their equipment with the code he provided, then hurried through a concealed exit he had already scouted. Once they were clear, Cracken sealed it behind them to conceal their escape route. He then lit a cigar, and sat down to wait.

It was later discovered that a combined team of twenty man ONI operatives and thirty Raiders armed with full combat gear and armor had been ordered to seize the building. They entered BuPers to carry out those orders. There was no record of what actually occurred from that point on.

There were no survivors to report it.

Three days later when the wreckage of the destroyed building was finally cleared, Nial Cracken was awarded yet another Parliamentary Cross.

This one was posthumous.

*****

Logos had been better prepared than his superior. He already had a team of operatives that had been collating the information for delivery to Prentiss and Director Maron. Among them was Major Tori and his internal security team. The fifty men assigned to kill them were slaughtered.

*****

“Sir!” The communications officer aboard Star Trader spun. “General alarm! The Jedi are attacking the Citadel!”

“That is crap!” Freya shouted.

“Maybe, sir. But all ships in the system have orders to blow the monastery into dust!”

Freya took less than a second to decide. “Helm place us 200 meters above the Monastery now!” She ordered. “Marine Commander on my monitor!”

She spun as the monitor came up. “Major Donstan, someone in the Citadel has sent an alarm that the Jedi are attacking the Citadel. “I am going to place this vessel in the path of any projectiles or missiles to protect the monastery.”

Donstan looked at her. “Understood, sir. Your orders?”

“Launch all assault shuttles. If the Jedi open fire on you, you have my permission to blow them to hell. If not you will land in the Citadel, and secure the complex. Once you have, place yourself under the authority of my father or whomever he directs.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Sir! Signal from Frigate Flagship Lancer!

“On screen.” Freya turned around. She looked at the face in front of her. “Admiral Dodonna.“ She said.

Admiral Sala Dodonna, commanding Home Fleet glared at her. “Star Trader, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Acting with honor, Admiral.” Freya snapped. According to her scanner, they were a kilometer above the Monastery and dropping.

“To hell with your honor, Captain! Get that piece of garbage out of our line of fire!”

“Aunt Sala, you can kill me. But that is the only way I am moving.”

The woman glared at her. “On your head be it, Niece.” She turned, but left the screen active. “Weapons lock onto Star Trader. If she does not move in the next three minutes, you will open fire and shoot through her if necessary.”

“Sir! Frigate Salutation is de-orbiting!”

“What!” She turned, punching her monitor control to get the sensor reading. The old Frigate Salutation was dropping into atmosphere, heading- “Get that maniac on my screen now!”

The screen lit, and Commodore Koori Solo looked up. “Not now please, Admiral. I am busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Well I think Captain Dodonna said it best, Admiral. Honor must be served.”

“Get that ship out of my way or so help me I’ll kill you!”

He looked up from where he was working with a sad smile. “You know Sala, when your family told you not to marry me, I always thought it was the career move that made you decide.

“I see now that you are a cold hearted bitch who is more interested in the stars on her collar than love, family, or truth.” The frigate settled down fifty meters to starboard of Star Trader, a shark beside a whale. “Take your best shot.”

*****

While they had been instructed not to talk, the six A4 units defined that as ‘audible to the humans around them’. If they hadn’t they would have never finished their discussion of Cornet’s weather.

A4C3 had just suggested that using Bertram’s random index might be a way to save the program when another unit hushed him. The cockpit chatter was run on their internal communications system

-Shuttle 7, do not, I repeat do not land at Admiralty Science Center. Admiral Costi has reported an attempt by Jedi to attack and destroy the Citadel. Immediately turn to 215, proceed to University Science Center-

Jedi? All of them had A4d9s memories. This included several years of being in almost constant contact with the Jedi and especially three of them.

The Jedi wouldn’t do something like that!

The decision took even less time than Freya Dodonna’s similar decision.

A4L7 slid to the door to the flight deck, swarming through the door followed by one other. The shuttle suddenly dipped, then spun on it’s axis, the throttle punching through mach 2. A moment later the three man flight crew were passed pedipalp to pedipalp and literally glued to the aft bulkhead.

“What are you doing, L7?” demanded A4J2.

“Going to help the Jedi of course.”

“Without being asked?”

“We were asked.”

“What?”

“Breia Solo and Sienna are enroute to CIA. When they left the Jedi compound, they told A4d9 to get a move on.”

“Well they didn’t tell us personally to go.”

“Will we be able to finish this argument in the next 14 seconds?”

“I doubt it. Why?”

Because we now have seven seconds before we hit the Citadel at the main office level.”

“Then never mind.”

The shuttle hit the 8th floor main office level travelling at almost mach 2. The bow shredded as the three tons of spacecraft smashed in the three meter tall windows. Being more resilient than a human pilot the three droids sustained almost no damage in the impact.

“What now?” J2 asked.

“We need to get some weapons.” C3 replied. Every A4 suddenly received video of a dozen Raiders charging toward them.

“We’ll have to take them from those men.”

*****
The problem with a suspected coup attempt is that any organized action is automatically assumed to be part of the plot. The actions of Logos’ defense inside CIA, the Salutation and the Star Trader, and the sudden reaction of shuttle 7 from the latter vessel fit the criteria.

Sala Dodonna watched the time tick down. At one minute fifteen seconds, she order the ships hailed again. They came up on split screen.

“Captain Dodonna, Commodore Solo, you will move your vessels in one minute seven seconds or we will be forced to open fire.”

Freya looked serenely back at her favorite aunt. “Admiral, I refuse. You might as well open fire here and now. When you do, remember that you will be killing my sister as well when you do. Blood is thicker than water. Captain Dodonna out.” The screen section went blank again.

Solo merely looked at her. “Sala, my sister is down there as well.” He looked sad. “Of course I never had any hold on you before, so why should now be different?” The entire screen was now blank. Both ships sat there unmoving, every sensor and weapon deactivated.

She stared at the screen. While her face was an iron mask, her heart was torn. No Koori. I wanted to marry you, be the mother of your children. She looked at the chrono. Instead I get to be your executioner.

The time ran down. One minute, Forty-five seconds. Thirty seconds. Twenty seconds. Ten...nine...eight... seven-

“All ships, this is Admiral Dodonna. All weapons on standby. Until the situation on the surface is clear all ships will await my orders. No one, I repeat, no one will fire. I will blow the first ship that locks weapons on any target without my orders to hell.

“All Home Fleet Marines units, prepare for drop. Landing zones are the Citadel, and the Jedi Monastery complex. Rules of Engagement are Sigma. Administrative landing with no hostility assumed. Weapons loaded and prepped, but on safe. You will not fire unless fired upon.”

She considered the wreckage her career might very well be in. Then sighed, shrugging her shoulders. It would have made family reunions hell.

After all, blood is thicker than water.

Besides, Maybe Koori still had feelings for her too.


Debacle

A coup depends on confusion. The conspirators are always a small group, hoping that inertia will stop the bulk of their possible enemies from coming down on them like a hammer. When it works, there is merely a change of leadership, and things go on as before. If not...

“What do you mean they aren’t shooting!” Admiral Costi who was Commanding Officer Planetary Defense screamed.

“Sir, Admiral Dodonna has ordered her ships to lock down their weapons.” His aide reported. “She has also ordered Marine drops on the Citadel and the Monastery with the same conditions.”

“That bitch!” Costi had done what the signal from his leader had ordered.

It had been so clear! The government was corrupt. Only a strong leader with the military behind him could fix the problem

When the fleet at Noral reported illness, they would use the canister as proof that someone in the Corellian military and GTA was supplying weapons to the Neshtori. Enough proof had been secreted in the files to at least keep people wondering as the loyal men in the military moved in, replaced the Parliament with a better organized committee, and withdrew from the GTA.

The plan they were using now was a long shot second best. Accusing those interfering Jedi with the coup attempt would give them time to destroy the files that would damn them, and remove the problem in one stroke.

It hadn’t worked out that way. The conspirators within CIA had been rounded up very quickly, though they had finally dealt with that Solo bitch. But some computer genius had sealed all of the files under Admiral Tran’s access code, and that stupid deputy chief had killed him before they had found that out. They would have to literally go through the records file by file, and they would never be able to find them all!

The plan had assumed that the officers below Costi and in home fleet had been prepped to understand why this was going to happen and obeyed him. They should at least still obey orders that seemed lawful, but three senior officers had so far refused to do so. Instead that damn Admiral overhead had ordered her Marines landed! Even now there was a cordon around the Jedi Monastery, and three probing attempts had been repulsed with heavy losses.

Those Marines inbound to the Citadel would come in cold, but they wouldn’t come in stupid. If they succeeded in taking the Citadel Command Center, a full investigation would revel his complicity.

Almost eleven years of work ruined!

“Order Marines approaching the complex to stay away. I want a missile dropped on that damn monastery this minute!”

“Yes sir. “ The aide checked his pad, then leaned over the annunciator. “Capital Squadron, you have a red pill target, I repeat, a red pill target.” He painted the hill where the monastery sat.

*****

“Sir, we’re getting a wave off from the Citadel.” The pilot of the lead shuttle from Star Trader reported. They were at least two minutes ahead of the next wave.

“I don’t care if the Secretary of the Navy is ordering us off, land this ship on the Command dock.” Major Donstan ordered.

Ten seconds later Donstan, the shuttle, and forty men were dead when a chain gun opened fire as they entered line of sight.

The battle of Cornet had begun.

*****

“All Marine units approaching the Citadel, weapons free, I repeat weapons free!” General Cantor ordered. The combined shuttles of ten frigates and twenty corvettes went to full speed, and countermeasures fought against ground systems to get them to their target.

In a number of cases, they failed.

*****

“Sir, snub fighters approaching!” The sensor officer shouted.

Commodore Solo turned, looking at the ships racing toward him. “Armament?”
“Five are anti fighter, four antishipping.” The sensor officer paled. “Sir, three have antimatter weapons aboard!”

*****

Guns blazed as Salutation opened up. She was an older design, and her chainguns were obsolete. But she was still an efficient warship. Several hundred rounds per second streamed out as she defended herself. Star Trader moved from her position to line ahead, and laser light also ripped the sky of the planet. The ships rigged to kill other fighters were ignored as the weapons ripped into the formation. Five exploded, crashing in the woods outside the city, but the other two dived for cover behind their consorts. They raced in, the shock waves of mach seven fighters shattering trees and houses below them. The anti-shipping fighter popped up, firing all four missiles, and died a second later. The last antimatter armed ship followed them in. The three surviving anti-fighter craft punched their throttles full, passing it.

The technique is called rolling back the enemy fire. You fire not one or two but as many missiles as possible. The enemy can kill one or two a second, but every second the weapons and craft not killed are closing.

Salutation ran out of time. Her guns killed the last nuclear missile carrier before it reached firing range at the expense of allowing two missiles to slam into the old ship. Debris exploded outward, and the ship staggered, her lift and drive systems stuttering as it tried to compensate. The frigate turned, staggering half a kilometer away from the monastery before the drive failed, and it plowed into the ground at 200 KPH.

*****

Breia flared the courier out, landing on the Intelligence center roof. She charged down the ramp, running toward the stairwell. Silent agents armed to the teeth watched her pass, an ebon nightmare followed by a blood red one.

She stopped, looking toward her mother’s office. The corridor was torn by weapons fire, the door and it’s frame were just gone. She walked toward the scene, looking at Seela crumpled against the wall, the bodies of six men scattered where high velocity shells had thrown them. Logos was dirty and grim. His armor dented by ricochets that had knocked him down, He saw the approaching figures, stepping in front of them.

Breia ripped off her helmet, bouncing into his arm. “Move.”

“Breia-”

“Damn you, move!” He lowered his arm, and she walked into the room.

Holani lay there, curiously shrunken in death. Someone had covered her face, and Breia knelt lifting the coat. She pulled off her glove, running her hand through the soft hair, then bent, kissing her cheek. Then she stood, the glove sliding back on.

“She got them all.” Logos said from the doorway. “We weren’t in time to help.”

“I don’t blame you.” Breia’s voice was gentle, though her eyes burned with fury. “The Prime Minister’s assistant has a lot to answer for.”

He looked at her. “Breia, you’re about three pages off the script.” He took the pad he carried, and handed it to her. She read it, then again in unconscious imitation of her mother. Then she thrust it back into his hands, put her helmet back on, and stormed out.

*****

“Sir, the fire is dropping in quadrant seven.” The marine pilot reported.

“Use it.”

“Fire is diminishing in sections six and eight.” The countermeasures officer reported.

The shuttle and the four behind it banked sharply, suddenly finding themselves a clear area. The Command building was less than five klicks away, about as many seconds at this speed.

The pilot used the hot zone method, firing retro-rockets less than a second before they would have overshot the building. Everyone was slammed into their restraints as it went from mach three to zero in a ten G blast. The shuttle slammed down, and the men poured out. The instant they were clear, the pilot bounced it fifty meters in the air, dropping toward the ground within that safe zone so others could come in. The entire process took less than five seconds from retrofire to dive.

“Sir!” A Marine pointed at the A4 droid that was busy with one of the guns in section six. As they watched, the droid lifted out the still firing gun, then threw it over the side of the building. The feed tube snarled, then shattered, dropping the gun to the ground ten floors below. To their right, a second A4 was dealing with a gun in section 1 in the same manner.

“You!” Captain Hostin shouted. The droid turned.

“Sorry Captain, I have to finish destroying the system.” It reported.

“Who the hell told you to destroy those guns?” He raged.

“A4L2 did sir.”

“Who the hell told him to do it?”

“No one, sir. We decided that you needed help after the first shuttle was destroyed.”

“We?”

“The other A4 units from Star Trader.” The droid replied. “Why? Were we wrong?”

Hostin decided to save it for his report.

*****

The A4s had the advantage that as droids they were ubiquitous. There were droids everywhere and no one really paid attention to them. The Raiders on the tenth floor had been wrapped and hanging before they had even known they were under attack.

Three floors below Hostin, Marines assigned to protect the building were rigging mines along a corridor when two A4s rolled toward them. Before they could stop them, one raised a plasma rifle. “Surrender or die.“ It said. One of the men dived for his weapon. The men were carbon vapor before they could scream. The rooms on both side of the corridor exploded into flames, then were quenched by the emergency fire suppression system.

“Notify the others that corridor 7-L-2 is clear.” One of them ordered.

“Damn!” The droid that had fired the plasma rifle rotated his eyes surveying the damage. A plasma rifle fires a bolt of fusion plasma, and is usually used only outside a building and by an armored trooper because the bloom raises temperatures by several hundred degrees from the muzzle in a sphere about two meters around on firing. Both of his forward legs and pedipalps had been fried, the legs fused where they had been actually forward of the muzzle. “I think I’ve just crippled myself!”

“No worries.” The second A4 began working on the legs, dismantling the outer shell. “We’ll have you back on your feet in a jiffy!”

*****

“Sir, they’re already down to level seven.” The aide reported. Costi looked at the ceramacrete overhead. They were in the bunker beneath the building, three floors below the ground level. It should have taken at least 20 minutes to clear the floors they had, not five.

“Have the men been told to fight to the last man?”

“Sir, it appears that some A4 droids are doing it. They cleared the Tenth through eighth floor before the shuttles landed.”

“Order all A4s destroyed on sight!”

*****

A4L2 stuck an eye around the corner on the sixth floor. “Another mining operation.” He reported. He set his travel wheels, and rolled around the corner. A hail of gunfire ripped through the droid, and it rolled to a stop, smoking.

-Severe damage-

-Road wheels inoperative-

-System shutdown imminent-

-Query. is this death?-

-Shutdo-

The other droid hurled grenades, blasting the men into gobbets. Before it passed the destroyed droid, it ran a pedipalp over the shattered frame, then clutched his weapons tightly. He rolled on past the bodies, hungry for revenge.

*****

“This is Jedi Courier Padawan Sani of Naboo on approach.” Meeri reported. The Parliament Hall loomed as they approached.

“Jedi Courier, this is the Parliamentary Guard. You are ordered to withdraw.”

“Parliamentary Guard, we are here to arrest a Parliamentary member.” Meeri replied. “We will not withdraw.”

She dived the ship as a chaingun on the roof fired, missing them by centimeters.

“We cannot land under fire.” Desical said. “Weapons active.”

The courier jinked frantically, her own chainguns ripping apart the guns that tried to kill them. Four minutes later The guns had been destroyed.

*****

Breia felt a rush of pain, and looked frantically. The Medical Center long term care building was erupting in a fireball. “Sienna?”

“On it.” She punched the communications board. “This is Jedi Courier Hawk Flight. What just happened at the medical center?”

“Hawk Flight, Marine Shuttle 421 assigned to Frigate Eastwing was shot down and crashed on top of the medical center. We have a lot of casualties here, so if you don’t mind?”

“Thank you. Hawk Flight out.” She looked at Breia. The girl’s face was stone. Her father and mother killed in less than ten minutes.

*****

Desical used his sword to shear through the door leading downward, and Meeri ran to keep up as he charged down the stairway. The office was on the top floor, and he stormed toward the door. He reached it, touched the handle, and felt-

The old man spun, setting his hand on Meeri’s chest, and using the force threw her the length of the corridor. Just before she hit the wall, an explosion vaporized the man.

She staggered to her feet as a dozen Parliamentary Guards came running down the access hall. The man she had come to arrest screamed. “Kill her!”

*****

Breia gasped. “Take the controls!” She screamed. Sienna flipped the switch, smoothly taking control as Breia screamed, curling up in a fetal ball. They were almost at the building, and as she watched, a man ran out onto the landing pad, running toward Padawan Sani of Naboo.

She armed the guns, and put a burst into the engine compartment. The ship settled, smoke pouring from her damaged engines. The man stopped, looking at the approaching ship.

Suddenly Breia sat up, flicked the switch back, and aimed the ship as if she intended to ram it into the building.

“Breia!” Sienna screamed.

As the man dived for the pad, the ship flared out, landing less than a meter from him. Breia was up, charging toward the ramp.

She ran down it, the man leaping to his feet to run toward the stairway. She tackled him, slamming him to the deck. She spun him onto his back, and began beating his face with her fists.

Sienna reached her, catching the upraised arm.

“Let me go!”

“Briea-”

“He killed my mother! He killed my father! He killed Meeri! He tried to kill my brother!” She screamed wordlessly, her fist still trying to punch down through his head into the deck. Only Sienna’s strength stopped her.

“Don’t give into it!” Sienna begged. “Breia, please.”

The tug of war suddenly ended. Breia stood, then stormed to the edge of the building. Sienna looked at her, then at the sobbing man at her feet. “Prime Minister Foren, I arrest you for high treason and mass murder.”


'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; 06-30-2006 at 04:43 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-30-2006, 06:07 PM   #147
Jae Onasi
Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem
 
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Whew! What a ride! Roller coasters are tamer than this.


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

Read The Adventures of Jolee Bindo and see the amazing Peep Surgery
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Old 06-30-2006, 08:21 PM   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Whew! What a ride! Roller coasters are tamer than this.
How do you think I feel? I had not even blocked it out when I posted the section before two days ago. When I started into it the Muse grabbed my by parts you don't need to consider and dragged me for the last 36 hours!

The worst thing is, I have about thirty more pages before the end and I'm exhausted!


'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 07-01-2006, 12:05 AM   #149
Jae Onasi
Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem
 
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Stop drinking the coffee!
While I don't have quite those same parts, I know what you mean--there've been a few nights where I stayed up way too late and feel asleep at the keyboard. One of the perks of having a laptop and lying in bed.


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

Read The Adventures of Jolee Bindo and see the amazing Peep Surgery
Story WIP: The Dragonfighters
My blog: Confessions of a Geeky Mom--Latest post: Security Alerts!
Love Star Trek AND gaming? Check out Lotus Fleet.

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Old 07-01-2006, 02:21 AM   #150
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Stop drinking the coffee!
While I don't have quite those same parts, I know what you mean--there've been a few nights where I stayed up way too late and feel asleep at the keyboard. One of the perks of having a laptop and lying in bed.
I have a friend named Mark Lewis who is a professional Story teller from the Renaissance Faire. He describes his muse as an Artist who draws the picture, then Mark colors it in.

Having worked at the same faire as a storyteller, I visualized my Muse as a biker bitch from hell who comes in whenever she wants to, drags my narrow little behind out of bed if necessary, throws me down at the keyboard, and says 'write!'. In fact if you know anything about the Celtic Mythos, I picture her as the leannin Sidhe, who drive men mad if they refuse to bow to her will.

As for laptops, I have one. Unfortunately it is a Compal TSA1 which means it is 14 years old. I have been unable to find a power plug for it, so it is being used as a paperweight.


'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 07-02-2006, 02:39 AM   #151
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Counting the cost

Master Soo-chin stepped down from the ramp. There was still firing going on at the Citadel about fifteen kilometers away. A third of the building had been blown down by traitorous defenders, making it look like a cake that had been left where the hounds could get to it.

Here at the Capitol complex, it was quiet in comparison. The Courier Padawan Sani of Naboo would need repairs, but that could wait until the ground battle was over.

She went down the stairs, and stopped. Breia was kneeling beside the body of her Padawan learner. Soo-chin wasn’t sure how many times the Ithorian had been shot, but her body had literally been riddled. There were bodies or parts of bodies scattered around her, from the base of the stairs to the lift on both access hall.

“There were a dozen of them.” Breia whispered. “Meeri didn’t like the idea of fighting. She wanted to... Damn it she wanted to go into the Conservation Corps!” The woman touched the body, her shoulder’s quivering.

“She did what she had to do.” Soo-chin said.

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“No. It is just the truth.”

Breia knelt for another long moment, then picked up her helmet. She turned, facing the master.

“Did you also know that the Prime Minister is the one that ordered my father killed because he might know what had happened? Not because he did, but just because he might?” She asked bitterly.

“Yes.” Soo-chin looked at her. “Is that why Sienna delivered the prisoner without you?”

Breia nodded. “I was so furious I would have killed him if I had been near.” Her fists clenched tightly. “Master, I request permission to assist in the assault on the citadel.”

“Breia-”

“Master, I will not rest until the last of this cancer had been cut out.” She looked down at the body. “My own beloved dead demand it of me.”

Soo-chin nodded. “They have reached the third floor of the citadel.”

Breia looked at her. “Then it makes my job easier.” She walked past the master and up the stairs to the landing stage. Hawk Flight was coming in to land.

“What do you mean?”

Breia gave her a feral smile. “They won’t expect me to come in through the front door.”

“Before you go, there is something you need to know.”

“Master?”

“When Padawan Zardan Landru went to the darkness, he bought ships.”

“Yes, I know that. Feradi and Bondrant.”

“The records according to Ramadora’s memory were that he had three. All bought through Wayfarer Corporation. She remembers records of weapons that were later linked to all of the mines and booby traps during that affair.

That third ship was operated by a young ONI officer named Captain Costi.” Breia looked up. “Yes. He is the same man.”

Breia looked up the ramp. “Then I have more beloved dead to satisfy.”

*****

The situation was static, and had been for the last half an hour. On level 2 the defenders, still believing that they were actually resisting a coup, had scattered mines and covered every corridor with heavy weapons. Above them the Marines had taken horrendous losses. Of the full regiment, two thousand troops, assigned to home fleet, plus the men from Star Trader, an additional three shuttles full, there were already over seven hundred dead and an equal amount wounded.

Most of them had been on the initial assault. almost 90 shuttles had crashed, and the suburb around the Citadel looked like it had been under a full scale carpet bombing mission. Of those from Star Trader and Salutation, only three shuttles had survived to land, one from Star Trader, the other two from the frigate.

Of the six droids that had done such yeoman work, only two were still operational, A4C3 and A4L7. The other four had been shattered by gunfire, and in one case, melted into a puddle by a plasma cannon.

C3 swiveled an eye around the corner. “Plasma cannon.” It reported. The marine behind him paused.

“Want to charge it?” L7 asked.

“Not in this life time.” C3 replied. It took the grenade launcher it had acquired from a defender, and began tinkering with the grenades in a clip.

“What are you doing? Captain Hostin asked.

“There is no delay function in the grenades fired from a launcher.” It mused as it worked. A microscopic vision lens popped up. “But right now we need it. So I’m going to rig one.” It took a tube of hull sealant from a small compartment in it’s abdomen, and picked up a scrap of metal from the floor. It used the hull sealant to spot weld the scrap onto the nose of the shell. Then repeated it with three more, trimming the impromptu caps. “I need two more people with launchers, Captain, if you don’t mind.” Bemused, Hostin signaled. Two men came from the ranks, and the droid delicately loaded the jury-rigged shells into it‘s own launcher, the one L7 held, and the ones held by the men. It computed, then moved to stand against the opposite wall.

“If you gentlemen will attend, I will fire, them over right.” A leg lifted to show where he intended to move. “When I am out of the way L7 can fire, then if you will both fire on the same trajectory, we can deal with this problem.” It took a leg, scoring an arrow into the tile of the floor. “When you are ready, Captain?”

Hostin signaled a fire team forward, and they knelt. He nodded to the droid.

The droid lifted the weapon, paused, and fired. There was a choonk sound of the launcher going off, and it was rolling aside at high speed even as the sound reached them. L7 rolled forward, stopping in the exact same place, and fired. The two men ran forward, one kneeling, the other standing, and fired.

The first two worked, but not perfectly. The caps had been knocked off as the rounds ricocheted, but they did not strike the primers on impact. The third acted the same, but by chance the primer hit and it exploded. The fourth was a dud. The shrapnel lashed the two man crew and their supporting squad. Two pieces of shrapnel hit, one punching through the casing, and shorting out one of the capacitor rings of the gun. The other hit the gunner, and his finger came down on the firing stud instinctively.

The capacitor ring is the most important part of a plasma weapon. The magnetic fields they generate keeps the fuel pellet from striking the barrel and accelerates the plasma to a tenth of light speed.

What happened next took under a second to occur.

The pellet, already beginning to change from compressed hydrogen to plasma passed through the shattered ring, which still exerted enough magnetic for to make it veer half a degree. At it’s speed even half a degree was sufficient. The plasma bloom hit the next capacitor, and instead of redirecting it accentuated the turn to just under half a degree, which meant it hit the barrel less than 30 centimeters from the chamber a microsecond after it became not hydrogen but plasma. Ten men, the weapon itself, and twenty meters of the corridor vanished in a superheated blaze.

C3 made a sound like a man clicking his tongue in a ‘tsk-tsk sound. “Damn it didn’t work right.”

“At least one of them did.” Hostin snapped.

“25% is not a good success rate, Captain.” The droid rolled around the corner, then shifted to walking mode as it delicately passed through the still super hot area. The sprinklers on this level unfortunately were already damaged, so the droid stopped, and L7 stopped before the hot spot. Before Hostin could comment the droid picked him up, and lobbed him into the waiting arms of C3, who set him down.

By this method the platoon continued on.

*****

A4D9 mulled over the reports it was getting. Of the seven droids in that first ever link, only three survived. It had recorded the deaths of four of them, for death was the only way it could describe their fate. They had achieved sentience, and that quality had made them attack the Citadel in support of the marines.

And they had paid for it with their very existence.

The droid walked forward. The two humans were at the controls, and had picked the main entrance as the place to hit. The droid computed their chances and wasn’t sanguine about it. The only chain guns still operational were on the approach way they were taking.

“Padawan Solo-”

“Not now, A4.”

“But this is suicide.”

“No.” She looked back at him. “It is not.” She turned to the console again. “We have the force as our ally.”

It considered. The problem with the force was it was something only a living being could sense. A Droid had to go with energy patterns that can be registered on instruments. It knew there was something beyond those sensors that these humans used, but since it could not record it, all knowledge was empirical, and as such suspect.

It had been with the Padawan for a long time. It knew her adamantine will. If she intended to do something, she would try, even if it killed her.

The gas canister in it’s abdomen spewed into the atmosphere. The women grabbed their helmets, but they were busy trying to activate the life support systems of the equipment. It caught them both up with a leg around each of them, spinning. It ran back to the cargo bay, stuffing them both into the lifepod, and hit the control.

*****

“Lifepod being jettisoned.” The gunner reported. “No life forms aboard the courier.” He watched the screen. “The ship is losing altitude.”

“Ignore it. Kill that damn pod.

*****

“What the hell is going through his mind!” Sienna screamed as the lifepod went through an emergency evasion program that was incredible vigorous. They bounced off every surface as the pod maneuvered to avoid being shot down.

*****
The gunner painted the pod, and was about to hit the button when suddenly the courier’s engines went to full thrust. He deleted the targeting information, and painted the courier instead.

He was too late.

Hawk Flight was passing through mach 5 as it slammed into the building. The doors, hardened battle steel resisted for less than a second, causing the nose to crumple as far back as the cockpit before ripping from their mounts. With a shriek that sounded like a soul in hell they flew inward. The gunner, his commanding officer, and the weapons control station was scraped away as if they had never been.

The ship slammed through another wall, the wings ripping free, then came to rest fifty meters into the building. For a long time, nothing happened. The raiders that had survived the collision were starting to dig themselves out when the escape hatch on the side flew out, and A4 leaped among them.

*****

“Sir! The Jedi have broken through on the ground floor!” The rating at the communications station screamed.

Costi shook his head. He turned to his aide. “Let’s get out of here.” He went to the rear of the control room, and keyed in the emergency escape hatch. He felt regret for those that would die because of his actions, but not much. After all, they were expendable. The hatch opened, and he was shoved back by falling debris. The aide looked up the shaft. “They must have collapsed it when the ship crashed, sir.”

“Fine. Wonderful! Costi stood up. “I want a fire team to come with me.” The men gathered. A dozen men, all loyal to him. “We’re going up to level minus 1 to access the subway.” He ordered. “Nothing stops us.”

*****

C3 looked around the corner, then ducked back. A ship’s chain gun roared, the fire ravening across the wall then blasted a path trough the wall they were concealed behind. C3 was picked up by the first shell, the four behind it ripping the droid apart like a can opener. L7 gave a furious squeal, dropped until it was less than half a meter tall, wheels burning against the floor tiles as it went around the corner at speed. The marines heard frantic firing from down the corridor, then silence. Hostin looked around the corner. The droid was against the wall at the end of the corridor, pinning a man to it. The man struggled, then blood sprayed from his mouth as the arms pinioning him punched through him and his armor into the wall.

The tableau held for several seconds, then the droid collapsed backwards, and was still.

Hostin came around the corner. He looked at the men that had manned the gun. The droid had spun it around as it passed, and the condition of the bodies meant that they‘d need DNA testing to find out who they had been.

He knelt by the shattered chassis of the droid. “Rest well, Marine.” Then he stood. The stairway to the ground floor was ahead of him. “Follow me!”

*****

The Jedi crawled out of the escape pod, and Breia shook her head, drawing her sword. She charged the shattered doors, followed by Sienna. She could feel the man she hunted now, as if there was a scent she could smell. The entry hall was an abattoir. A4 had literally ripped one man apart, taken his gun, and turned it on the others. It had then charged on, ripping a door out of the wall. All of it before they were even close.

“Where does that go?” Breia asked.”

“Level minus one. The subway stations.”

They spun at the sound of boots. A captain who looked like he’d been through a campaign came out of another door farther down. He spun, then lifted his weapon away from them. “Jedi?”

“Padawans Solo and Dodonna.” Breia shouted.
He walked over to them, looking at the carnage. “I think you must have had an A4.”

“We did.”

“It looks like their handiwork. Best little fighters I have ever seen. Where did it go?”

“Where we’re going.” Breia answered running to the doorway down.

*****

Costi had already called the spaceport. There was a small private courier he secretly owned. As soon as he was aboard, he’d boot out, and be gone before they caught him. The accounts on Bothuwai were probably compromised, but he had money on both Ryloth and Nal Hutta. He wouldn’t be Chief of Naval operations, but he’d still be alive.

They came out in the subway station, and his men spread out facing the entry way to the upper complex. The next train was... Five minutes away.

There was a shrieking, and the door leading upward was peeled away from the wall by an eight legged horror. It saw them, and before anyone could aim, it lowered the door as an impromptu shield, and rolled toward them at high speed.

Guns roared, the bullets slowed but not stopped by the metal of the door. They could see pieces of the droid being ripped away. A leg fell, smashed beyond repair, then the droid gave a shriek, staggering to a stop.

“Sir, the train.”

Costi nodded. He stalked over, looking at the shattered machine. “Pathetic.” He kicked it petulantly.

A pedipalp caught his foot, making him scream as it crushed his ankle. There was the rushing of air as the train raced toward the station.
“I think we have a train to catch, Admiral.” It rolled over, dragging the screaming man after it as it fell onto the tracks. A second later, the train crushed both into an indistinguishable pulp.

The guards stared at the accident, then turned as a figure in black stepped from the stairway upward. Guns rose, but she lifted a hand, and they flew from their grips to land on the floor between them and her.

“If you want to die, I am happy to oblige you.”



Republic Dawn

The massive room was silent. The seats were packed with heads of state from a hundred planets and the Parliament of Corellia. The Meeting was being held less than two weeks after the attempted coup. Those who had been invited had flown over the shattered buildings of what was once the Citadel, the wreckage of the hospital, and the gutted shell of Salutation.
The door opened, and the Acting Prime Minister of Corellia came in, followed by half a dozen Jedi from as many Monasteries. They came to the podium. The politician went over the events of the coup attempt. Of the horrendous losses. The 3rd Marine Assault force had been gutted. Only two companies, about 200 men were unwounded. Salutation was a total loss, of her crew barely half had survived the crash.

He spoke of the elections that would be held in the upcoming months. then he looked at the people that lined the hall.

“But the problems of Corellia are not the most important. The fault lays not with our people, but greedy men. The criminal who held my office would not have been able to gather such support if we had curtailed the activities of the corporations of the Galactic Trade Authority. We restricted them at home, but the instant a ship left our atmosphere, the rules changed.

“In the last 30 years, we have had no rules that extend from planet to planet, and they have used that. The plunder the newly discovered worlds, or dump goods they cannot sell on the Core planets of those who cannot resist them. This must stop. There must be one law from Coruscant to Corellia, from Corellia to Ryloth, from Ryloth to Nal Hutta.

“At the behest of the Jedi order, I propose that we form a coalition, a Republic if you will, that will set the laws for all ships of all worlds. That will consider the good of the people everywhere, not on their own home planets. While I am suggesting this, I will ask that I not be named to this body. That none of us seated here be named. We must subordinate ourselves, our home worlds to it. I swear before this body, that Corellia will make itself the first member, that we will accept all laws written by it, and assure that all people on every planet knows that we no longer care about profit if it means harm to others.”

For a long moment, there was silence. Then a pair of hands began clapping. It was the singular applause of the Twi-lek, a rhythmic beat that set the blood afire in men of that race. Premier Lassa stood as she clapped, and the others of her planet and their colonies joined in it.

Then the Chancellor of Coruscant stood, and his hands joined that beat. Then another, Naboo, Duros, Echana. One after another the people stood, adding their applause to the cry to unity.

*****

Breia sighed, walking with her onto the landing pad. A trio of new A19 couriers awaited her. Unlike most Jedi couriers, two of them was not named after a fallen member. Instead there was a caricature of an A4 with it’s legs up as if imitating a spider. Under that was the name Metal Heroes. Beside it, two other new ships carried it on. Padawan Meeri of Ithor, and Darshan and Holani Solo.

Soo-chin came down the ramp of Darshan and Holani Solo. followed by Sienna.She looked hard at Breia. “Try not to destroy this one.” Soo-chin warned.

“Yes Master.” The girl said.

Breia stopped as the abrasive superior walked past. She sniffed at Breia’s clothes, which were closer to what Sienna would have considered risque now.

“Congratulations Padawan teacher.” Breia said.

“I don’t think I am ready for this.” Sienna said.

“I wasn’t either. The position sort of grows on you. Like leaf mold.”
“That makes me feel so much better.” Sienna grumped. She looked toward the entry hall where two young Jedi approached.

The human stopped, bowing to Breia. “Master Solo, I am Dushin Sookor Bai Echana. My mother Revana was sister to your master Breia Sookor Bai Echana.”

Breia shook the young man’s hand. “It is a hard legacy to live up to.”

“Life is hard. We Echani know that.”

“I am Toorio of Duros.” The other reported, bowing to Sienna.

“Well met Padawan learner. Let’s go.”

They faced each other, and reached out. The handclasp became a hug.

“Take care of yourself, Sienna.”

“Be well, my sister.” Sienna replied.

Breia walked aboard Metal Heroes.

*****
The shuttle landed on the Naval Hospital roof. The newly assigned CNO of the Corellian navy walked down the ramp, entering the lift. She rode down in silence, her staff silent as well.

They got off on the fourth floor, and she paced down the corridor to the room. A southern exposure assured it was bright with the summer sun. Breia looked up at their approach. She hugged the woman wordlessly, touched the face delicately, opened the door and entered.

The man in the bed breathed slowly. Sala signalled the people with her to stay in the hall. Breia looked up from her brother, then turned to walk to the window. Sala pulled the chair over beside the bed, picking up a limp hand.

“I chaired my first meeting as CNO, Koori.” She whispered. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I don’t want to go on if you’re not there.” Fleet Admiral Sala Dodonna brushed the hair away from his forehead. “I would give anything for a smile.” She lifted the hand to her face, her tears running down it to the bed.

“I don’t want you to die. But I can’t go on. If I can’t have your love, I don’t want to treat your body like a machine! I spoke with Breia, and she agrees. I have to turn it off. I have to say good bye.” She leaned down, kissing him on the cheek. “Our children would have been beautiful.”

She stood, flipping the switches. Heart monitor, lung machine, waste disposal. They all fell silent. She sat, holding the hand until the body finally lay at rest. She scrubbed the tears from her face angrily, then walked out.

Breia cried for a long while, then followed. Her ship waited for her on the landing pad, and she went up the ramp. There was a shape at the top of it, and she stopped suddenly. It was an A4 unit.

“Admiral Dodonna suggested that you might need assistance on your present mission. I have been assigned to this vessel until you decide to get rid of me.”

“You are..?”

“A4L7. The only A4 reparable, from the assault, Master Solo.” There was a movement by the second pair of legs that looked suspiciously like a shrug. “From data I have gathered, the only A4 remaining. “Until the Corellian military makes a determination about arming droids, I am an embarrassment. Admiral Dodonna suggested I ‘stow away’ aboard your ship.”

She wanted to throw the damn thing off the ship, but another of her honored dead called to her. “From this point on, you will record all information you download, and store it. Just as A4D9 did.”

“They always told me I was a little slow.”

“Who told you that?”

“The other A4s I was with.”

“Then you’ll just have to play catch up.” Breia replied tartly. "Stow yourself, and let's go. She went forward.

“Where to, Master?”

Breia looked at the sky. Then she motioned vaguely. “I am sure there is somewhere they need help. Let the Force be your guide.”

Metal Heroes leaped from the building, racing into space.

“But take it easy on the driving, youngster.”

“Yes Master.


'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; 07-03-2006 at 11:21 AM. Reason: rewrite
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Old 07-02-2006, 11:25 AM   #152
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Absolutely fantastic...a wonderful read from beginning to end! You really were able to bring your characters to life and I was able to see them go through transitions as the story moved.


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Old 07-02-2006, 11:28 AM   #153
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Mach, we're all going to need anti-depressants after an ending like that.
Other than that, I enjoyed it.


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Old 07-02-2006, 02:38 PM   #154
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Mach, we're all going to need anti-depressants after an ending like that.
Other than that, I enjoyed it.
I could have ended it on a high note, and was going to with the announcement of the first Republic conference, but I hadn't resolved what Sienna and Breia would do, or the relationship between Sala and Koori. For that matter though Meeri had died, I hadn't resolved the manner of her death, though the fact that a dozen men did not follow the traitor onto the pad probably gave you a clue. I almost did ignore those anyway.

The problem was, I pictured the affect of crashing something that weighs a few hundred kilotons at 200 KPH and it wasn't pretty. I almost threw in a 'miracle' ending, having Koori wake up and a joyful tearful romantic ending.

I almost had Meeri just drop half the building on the men so she wouldn't kill them herself.

I am a story teller in the old Celtic style. Sometimes the good guys lose, sometimes the hero dies. Did I at least resolve the unanswered questions from the first part of the book?


'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; 07-02-2006 at 02:44 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 07-03-2006, 12:48 AM   #155
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Sure, the questions got answered.
I'm just not a big fan of everyone falling over dead because I prefer my FantasyLand to be happier, probably because I've seen more death up close and personal than the vast majority of people. I don't read Hamlet or Lord of the Flies very often, either.
The other thing that bothered my sense of disbelief just a little is that Breia should have been there at Koori's end if her brother meant that much to her. I can't imagine the Jedi not allowing her that time or her not taking it, even if she had lost all the others.
I'm OK with the SW universe having far more than its average share of miracles. I mean, what are the chances of the Millenium Falcon making it just through the asteroid belt, much less everything else?


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

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Old 07-03-2006, 10:13 AM   #156
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Quote:
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Sure, the questions got answered.
I'm just not a big fan of everyone falling over dead because I prefer my FantasyLand to be happier, probably because I've seen more death up close and personal than the vast majority of people. I don't read Hamlet or Lord of the Flies very often, either.
The other thing that bothered my sense of disbelief just a little is that Breia should have been there at Koori's end if her brother meant that much to her. I can't imagine the Jedi not allowing her that time or her not taking it, even if she had lost all the others.
I'm OK with the SW universe having far more than its average share of miracles. I mean, what are the chances of the Millenium Falcon making it just through the asteroid belt, much less everything else?
I am sorry I displeased you then.


'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 07-03-2006, 10:39 AM   #157
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You're not required to make my little FantasyLand a Happy Place. It's your story, and you're the one who has to like it the best.
Just because I prefer a different ending doesn't mean it was a bad story, because I did enjoy reading it. I'm glad Breia and Sienna finally caught the SOB who was responsible for all the destruction, too.

So, when ya gonna start the next one? (Jae runs before Machievelli can throw something at her....)


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

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Old 07-03-2006, 10:42 AM   #158
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So, when ya gonna start the next one? (Jae runs before Machievelli can throw something at her....)

Not immediately. I have some unimportant stuff like cleaning, building a stand for a rabbit box, the 4th of July and my birthday in the way. (Sets aside several cream pies for when Jae is close enough again.)


'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 07-03-2006, 10:58 AM   #159
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editing and rewriting the end of the last chapter. tell me what you think.


'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 07-04-2006, 12:29 AM   #160
Jae Onasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Not immediately. I have some unimportant stuff like cleaning, building a stand for a rabbit box, the 4th of July and my birthday in the way. (Sets aside several cream pies for when Jae is close enough again.)
As long as they're lemon meringue, you're in business.

I like the new ending much better. There's still the sadness with Koori's death, but after that there's a sense that there's some hope for a better future with the scene with the A4 'stowing away' and the Jedi flying off into space. It doesn't end on a down note this way, and there's just a hint of humor (without being overdone) to take some of the edge off the tragedy for me.


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

Read The Adventures of Jolee Bindo and see the amazing Peep Surgery
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My blog: Confessions of a Geeky Mom--Latest post: Security Alerts!
Love Star Trek AND gaming? Check out Lotus Fleet.

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