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Old 10-27-2007, 03:30 PM   #81
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Nic laughed as looked back into the Med Kit. “Yeah, It’s quite nice although I’d have fired the decorator.”

Nic took out a Bacta patch and handed it to Beryl, he then looked down at the wound and without saying anything he knew that Beryl knew what he had to do next. Placing his hand on the large splinter he gripped it tightly and looked up at her. “Second it’s out slip that on and hold it there… sorry this will hurt.”
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Old 10-27-2007, 04:32 PM   #82
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Beryl just stared at him, her eyes sort of vacant as if she was thinking about something else.

"What?" Nic asked, poised and ready to extract the splinter.

She looked over her shoulder towards the cockpit door. "Is your com working?"

"Ye-ah," Nic said slowly. He gave her an odd look. "Who were you planning to call?"

"My commander," Beryl said flatly.

Nic raised an eyebrow.

"Who do you think?" she asked rhetorically. "Jana. I'm supposed to meet her at Ruusan." She frowned a bit. "That is, if she received and understood my message," she added. Looking back at Nic, she said, "We'll have to send out a signal to her. One that she would know was from me. Because we can't stay here very long. Carida Control will be sending out recon for us soon." She pressed her lips together. "Well, looking for me anyway." She thought for a moment. "I suppose I could reprogram the distress beacon. That should get through any magnetic interference from this place." She started to rise.

"Sit!" Nic pointed at the chair. "I'll reprogram the beacon. And I know the perfect signal." He grinned. "Just need a security code."

Beryl reached inside her flight suit and pulled out her code cylinder. "Here, sir. Use this."

Nic took it and was gone for a few minutes. Then he returned. "Worked like a charm," he said, handing the cylinder back to her.

She looked down at her leg and the splinter, and then up at Nic.

Nic raised his brow. "Like I said, it's going to hurt, Beryl."

"I know, sir," she said matter-of-factly. "I can take it."

Nic yanked out the splinter with one pull. Beryl did flinch slightly, but didn't cry out and didn't wince. She just calmly placed the bacta patch on the now bleeding wound and pressed down on it.

"You got something to hold this on, sir?" she asked. "I don't want to bleed all over the Commander's plush seat covers."


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 10-27-2007, 04:42 PM   #83
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“Sure.” Nic replied smiling as he moved around some bits inside the Med Kit after a few moments he took out a black band and unravelled it. He Lightly raise Beryl’s leg up and began to tie the strap around her leg and the Bacta Patch. Once done he closed the kit and placed it back where he came from, then he sat down on the chair where it was next to Beryl. Taking the bottle from Beryl he took a gulp of it and offered it back to her. “Good Year… So now all we have to do is wait for Jana to arrive.”
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Old 10-28-2007, 01:33 AM   #84
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The crew meeting in the common room had scarcely taken ten minutes. Twenty minutes after the meeting, the ship was moved and raised to the surface of the planet once more. No more than forty-five minutes after Jana called for the meeting, they were leaving the Watchtower System behind.

Their destination was Ruusan, Jana had determined after the fifth time re-reading Beryl's letter. In that case, there was little use in sending numerous shipping orders to Carida and they were canceled. Teser Quitaan was a little aggravated at being commissioned to cause a diversion when it wasn't needed and insisted on meeting the crew at Ruusan, if only to reassure himself that his sister was safe.

The trip to Ruusan was a long one, even in hyperspace, so there was plenty of time for the stress of the situation to mingle with the excitement of the chance at getting Beryl back, a mix which put several of the crew on edge; Cloud kept mostly to engineering, Jana spent most of the time trying to dodge Reibe while Reibe seemed to drift from one place to another without much of a pattern. Jack stayed mostly to the bridge and Sam... well, Sam tended to drift a bit as well, though she seemed to have a bit more of a purpose in her drifting than Reibe did. Jeez kept to his room for the most part.

Reibe's drifting led her eventually to the bridge, where she sat next to Jack. Initially, she said nothing, seeming content merely to sit and watch as the ship passed through hyperspace. But finally, she stirred and looked over at Jack.

"Some crew this ship's got," she observed. "The resident Jedi's a war hero, the captain's a Force magnet, the mechanic's Force sensitive... then, there's you and Sam, quite the interesting pair you make. Don't think I hadn't noticed how you're each trying discreetly to off the other. And me... well, I'm a freak show in my own right..."

She was silent for a couple of seconds, but then she stood and stepped back to close the door between the bridge and the common room, calmly stating, "I know your secret, Jack... the thing you've been working so hard to keep from the crew. Way the records read, the Rhea left a big mark on you..." She put a hand on the door. "This is my promise to you. Your secrets remain secret until you make the decision to reveal them."

She came back to sit beside him. "But keep in mind, of the people on this ship right now, I'm the only one who knows what you went through... that isn't aiming to hurt you. You ever feel the need to talk, I'm here."

It occurred to Reibe before she entered the bridge for this discussion that she had never addressed the crew by name. Indeed, she'd been extremely cold in dealing with any of them. But Shaam's scolding about her harsh manners had struck her deeper than she would ever admit. She had allowed her years of experience with betrayal eat away at her ability to trust. So did she trust this crew? By no means! But they didn't need to know that... and they could benefit from her knowledge as much as she could benefit from their emotional reactions.

Reibe sighed and stared out into hyperspace. Letting Jack know she was available if he ever needed anyone to talk to was the first step in truly becoming the ship's adviser. Somewhere deep in her mind, she wasn't sure that's what she wanted... but you could never really know something until you tried it...


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Old 10-29-2007, 05:36 PM   #85
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Beryl was experiencing an unexpected feeling as Nic tended to her wound. His touch on her bare skin was tender and gentle, and his manner in bandaging on the bacta pad calm and composed--not at all like the way the medics at the Academy infirmary would have treated her. More like the way Conn would have.

Conn. Beryl was almost sure he hadn’t made it out of the prison. "… a couple of manslaughter and serious assault charges—mostly staff at the prison and a few soldiers under the command of an Imperial Moff…." That’s what her brother’s aid, Major Payne, had told her when she had first been detained on the Dreadnaught Reaper. Beryl had no doubt that Conn, being the prison’s doctor, was included in the category of prison ‘staff.’ It didn’t really surprise her that he’d be dead—all of her former lover’s had all died suddenly for one reason or another. Why would Conn be any different?

And now, here was Nic, risen from the dead in her mind, tenderly taking care of her even after she had aggressively tried to kill him. She had always liked him—his casual manner, his sense of humour, his quirks about money, the way his eyebrow would twitch just that little bit when he had a good Sabbac hand….

Nic closed the kit and placed it back where he came from, then he sat down on the chair next to Beryl. Taking the bottle from her, he took a gulp of it and then offered it back. “Good Year… So now all we have to do is wait for Jana to arrive.”

“It might be a very long wait, sir.” She studied the bottle in her hand, and then took a swig herself. “Jana may not have understood my message. If she got it at all.”

Nic was her Captain, her employer, her boss. She had never acted on any of her impulses towards him, feeling that it was inappropriate, though she’d been quite content to flirt with him every now and again. But could she really go through the pain of losing him again without first letting him know how she felt about him?

Beryl suddenly reached out and put her hand over Nic’s, gripping it tight. “Sorry,” she said, as she gently bit her lower lip. “I still can’t believe you’re alive. I just wanted to make sure that you were real.”


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 10-29-2007, 06:06 PM   #86
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As Beryl took his hand, Nic looked into her eyes and felt what he had not for years, he did love her but he knew they shouldn’t be together. He had killed the only women he had ever loved back on Naboo, one of the two mistakes he made that led him to become Nic White. The mistakes that led him to make three promises to himself that he would uphold no matter what.

The first was never to touch a Sniper Rifle again as the two mistakes were made looking through that weapons scope. The women he had killed and shouldn’t have and the man he should’ve killed but didn’t.

The second was to never help a Jedi again, the first mistake had begun when he joined up with the Jedi and aid him in the war effort. He had already broke this promise after Ryshana saved his life, but it was more important to save the Jedi than to help himself.

The third was seemed so simple, and he had achieved it for so long until he had met Beryl, this promise was the most important the one to stop him feeling the pain he felt when he killed Tanya. He promised that he would never fall in love again, a promise that was breaking and would hurt not only him if broken but Beryl aswell.

He still looked into her eyes his heart and mind were in conflict but Nic knew what he had to do. "Beryl we can't, you'll get hur..."
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Old 10-29-2007, 06:33 PM   #87
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“Hurt?" Beryl interrupted him. "I don’t care.”

“I do.”

Beryl’s grip on his hand tightened. “I’ve been hurt lots of times, sir. Not as much as my ex-partners, mind, but….” She bit her lip. “Maybe you’re right, sir.“ She paused. “I’ve got a really bad track record with men. They tend to, well, die, sir.”

"Die?"

"Not by my hand, sir," she said quickly. "Freak accidents mostly. Except for the last one. He got shot by Stormtroopers."

She paused for a moment, then cocked her head to one side. “Aw, to hell, with it, sir…. You already died once.” Her hands cupped his face as she leaned forward and kissed him full on.


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 10-29-2007, 07:38 PM   #88
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Jack looked strangely at Reibe at she talked to him and tried to get him to open up to her. This whole thing completely took Jack off guard. Even when Reibe had finished talking and began to look into the hyperspace, Jack still wore a confused expression on his face. He looked at Reibe and then at his half full beer bottle before realizing he hadn't drunk enough to make him hallucinate. It took a few minutes, but it soon sank in that Reibe had said something remotely human.

Jack stood up and stood beside Reibe and looked out into hyperspace. "Well since you know so much about little old me, and I know nothing about you.. Who are you Reibe Vailar? I looked around the good old holonet and found some interesting rumors... one of which is that you share the same name of young twi'lek who is very big in the twi'lek/rodian porn industry but let's not get into that..."


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Old 10-30-2007, 09:44 PM   #89
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Reibe did not answer immediately. It was a question she'd been asked countless times, but one she had scarcely given much thought to. Her typical response to the question was, "No one..." but if she was to be an adviser, that would not do. She'd been suppressing every piece of information on herself that she might not be known by anyone. That wouldn't work anymore.

"I've been asked many times," she said finally, "but I've never really cared to give an honest answer. And in the end... well, there's no easy answer." She paused, unsure of how to continue.


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Old 11-01-2007, 03:40 PM   #90
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3 Hours after the attack, 4 months into the Clone War

"I would choose my words a bit more carefully, Jedi. If I wasn't mistaken, you have just implied that my leadership abilities are not up to the challenge of reuniting Fondor under the Republic. Hopefully, I am mistaken," Nyrera stated calmly as looked at Ryshana and the group of four Clone Commandos standing behind her.

"I imply nothing, General Nyrera. I am merely voicing my concern that perhaps your strategy does not line up with the ways of the Jedi," Ryshana replied as diplomatically as she could.

"Well, I doubt that there would be any other way, General Ryshana. One must go to extremes whenever the situation calls for it, and as of right now, our situation does call for it. It would be a shame, however, if I were to mislead you in any way. I'm well aware of your responsibilities as a Jedi, and I can assure you that if I do send you out to kill or capture, it will be in the name of democracy, fairness, and justice," Nyrera responded. "Now, if that is all, General Ryshana, you and your men can be dismissed for six hours of rest. I'll be expecting that you and your men will be ready for their next assignment."
___________________

15 Minutes later

"Well, what would you have me do? Its not my fault that you decided to run your mouth about Nyrera to his face," Jeez stated harshly. Standing in front of Ryshana with his helmet removed, his face was almost completely devoid of sympathy.

"I don't know. This is just so frustrating because we're supposed to do one thing and still serve as a Jedi. I'm just wondering if we're going to be able to do both at the same time, or if we'll have to forgo our duties to the Jedi or to the Republic," Ryshana responded as she seemed to reserve herself to thought.

"Well, if the Fondorian News Reports are at all accurate, then I can say that Nyrera is a fairly ambitious man. He's been attacking Techno Union strongpoints and factories across the system for about two months now. He is putting a lot of pressure where it needs to go," Jeez commented.

"But what about today? How do we explain why we just attacked a factory that is used exclusively to manufacture droids for the Civil Defense? We didn't attack the Techno Union today, Jeez. We attacked the Civil Defense," Ryshana reiterated.

"I know that, but neither of us can see the entire strategic picture. If we're going to help Nyrera re-establish Republic control here on this system, then we have to trust him. The process can be a bit unsettling, but in the end, we have to get this accomplished. To do that, we have to trust him."
________________________

Back on the Echo in hyperspace towards Rusaan

"Well, I have to ask: how would you describe the Force? I never really did ask Ryshana, but recently I've been curious," Cloud asked Jeez who was sitting across from him in the Common Room. In front of them, there were a couple of plates with what appeared to be a very delicious and well prepared meal.

"For starters, that is a very simple question, but yet, it has a very complex answer. First, you have to understand what the Force is. Life creates it and binds all to it, and in equal measure, death also creates it. In the Force, all of life and all of death exists," Jeez stated. Seeing Cloud's awkward expression, Jeez then continued, "Just think of it in simple terms. In order for death to exist, there must be life. As life creates the Force, it also creates death since everything has to die. Conversely, without death, there would be no life. Plants are fed from the decay of dead things that lie buried beneath them, and animals feed on them from there. As such, death creates life, and that translates directly into the Force."

Still chewing on a bit of meat, Cloud then said, "So, death and life. That wouldn't correlate to dark and light, would it? Because, that's all I ever hear about: the Dark side versus the Light side and so on."

"Well, in a manner of speaking, yes. In darkness, there is little life, and the life that does exist decays quickly. Here in life, you can see this manifested in the Dark side. By using the Dark side, you are in essence destroying life while you yourself are decaying as your own life feeds the darkness. The opposite is true of those that use the Light side of the Force. Everything falls into the cycle of life and death, and in that cycle lies the Force," Jeez responded as he used his fork to take another bite of food.

"But what about good versus evil and how that relates to the Force? Why is darkness always associated with evil and so on?" Cloud asked.

"Well, that probably has a lot to do with the fact that we are living creatures. Even though life requires death to exist, that does not stop the living from wanting to prolong the inevitable. As such, anything that takes life away at will for its own purposes is often times viewed as being "evil"," Jeez stated. "But don't think for a moment that that is the only part of what we consider good and evil. Those that wish to bend the Force to their will often times find themselves using the Darkside of the Force if and only because they both serve each other until the more powerful entity claims the other.

Death serves the man that wishes to destroy his adversaries so that death can continue to exist. Conversely, the same man serves death as it uses the man to accomplish its own ends until it claims the man. Although the man thinks it is he that is bending and shaping the Force to his will, he is unaware that the Force is using him to accomplish its will."

As Cloud continued to eat, Jeez then said, "Now, my question to you is this: is it possible for a man to use the Darkside to accomplish good?"

Thinking for a moment, Cloud sat there as he finished the last bits of food on his plate. Then, he said, "Well, my guess is that one would have to serve the Darkside of the Force instead of trying to bend it to your will. In that way, you would be able to take life from those that are trying to bend the Force to their will. In the end, good would be the result."

Thinking for a moment, Jeez hesitated in his response as he thought for a moment. "Well, that's one way of putting it. To be honest, that's actually one question that I've been thinking about for a long time. In all my years as a Jedi, I've seen a lot of the whole "ends justifying the means", and I'm honestly not convinced that its a good idea. I used to be, but it seems that life has taken me in a different direction as of recently."

"If you don't know the answer, then how am I supposed to learn, though?" Cloud asked.

"You will learn in time as I am. Like I said, its an easy question to ask with a very complicated answer. That answer is open to all kinds of interpretation, and I'm sure that at least one of us will discover it in the end."


See the struggle of the faithless lot as they negate their time
How low to sink to the depths of their frame of mind

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Old 11-03-2007, 09:02 AM   #91
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"They're using some sort of odd frequency modulation that I've never seen before," Lana said, pursing her lips as she listened to the odd static emanating from the speakers.

Conn peered intently over her shoulder at the readouts. "I've never seen those before either...but why would they be sending out subspace signals if nothing else but for a distress call?"

Lana smirked. "Can't be a very good distress call if it's all garbled."

He furrowed his brow. "Maybe it's not," he said, taking out a datapad. "Back when I was decrypting their frequencies, I noticed a very similar scramble algorithm in their communication." Conn reached out and tapped a few keys on the console after examining his pad. "I wonder..."

Just then, the static abruptly stopped and gave way to the sound of electronic synthesizers and a low, melodious female voice belted out a chorus. "Emoooootionaaaallll Hoooostages..."

Lana, who was obviously too young to remember it, frowned. "Eh?"

But Conn's eyes opened wide. "I know this song," he said urgently. "This is from when..." He fell silent for a few moments, then shook his head and pointed at the console. "Remodulate on frequency 100.3, channel Z."

The young Firrerreo raised an eyebrow, but did as she was told.

The song crackled, then cut out, being replaced by a male voice, unfamiliar to any of them. "This is Nic and Beryl, requesting emergency recovery. Jana, please respond. This is Nic and Beryl..." The message began to repeat itself.

Conn looked over at Max who was leaning in the doorway. She smiled, shook her head and beckoned him towards the cockpit. "Help me bring this bird down and let's get her back."

As Conn bounded towards the cockpit, Lana arched an eyebrow. "I know who Beryl is," she said, mostly to herself. "But who's Nic?"

*****

Conn guided the Hammerspace down through the atmosphere, squinting through the cloud cover until it dispersed, revealing the forested green land. It was devoid of anything artificial, save for two hulks of metal marring the landscape. He couldn't help but feel a shiver go up his spine, as the situation was very similar to the one where he had met Beryl for the very first time. He had responded to the distress call before bringing the Hammerspace down, but had not received a response, so that made him just a little bit worried.

Setting the freighter down between the downed vessels, he quickly ran through the power down checklist, then bolted out of his seat and back towards the loading ramp, where he met Max and Lena. They had their blaster pistols out. "Not taking any chances?" Conn asked as he slapped the controls to lower the ramp.

"You know me, Conn," Max replied, rolling her eyes at the doctor. "Besides, it might be a trap." She and Lana moved forward as the ramp came to a stop on the ground, blasters up and pointed at the odd TIE fighter a few meters away. They had landed next to the fighter since it was in a clear patch of area, whereas the shuttle was in a shady copse off to the side. Max carefully picked her way over to the area, pausing just in front of the open ramp. "There's a body here," she said.

Conn's heart leapt into his throat as he made his way over to Max and Lana. Sure enough, there was the body of an Imperial pilot laying on the ground, helmet still on. He stepped forward and knelt down, sweeping the helmet off, then breathed a sigh of relief as he saw a male face he did not recognize. Conn put his fingers to the man's neck, confirming what he already knew. "Dead," he pronounced. "Rigor hasn't set in yet, he was probably killed no more than forty-five minutes ago."

"He was shot?" Lana asked.

The doctor nodded, prodding around the dead man's flightsuit. "Yes... but I don't think that's what killed him," he said, pointing at the man's throat. "His neck is tender to the touch, meaning his windpipe was crushed." Conn lifted one of the man's eyelids, then grimaced. "Yeah, he was asphyxiated," he affirmed, indicating the burst blood vessels in the corpse's eye.

The Firrerreo gulped. "You think Beryl did this?"

"I hope she did this," Conn replied, straightening up. "Means she's still alive." He turned his gaze towards the Lambda a few dozen meters away. Sensor scans had shown two humanoid life forms in the crashed shuttle, so that's where Beryl and this 'Nic' person had to be. He moved purposefully towards the Lambda craft, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, "BERYL!!!"




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Old 11-03-2007, 11:19 AM   #92
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With hearts pounding and breaths quickening, Beryl and Nic had succumbed to their passion for each other and had adjourned to lay on the soft, plush couch at the back of the shuttle leaving a trail of clothing on the floor in their wake.

“Nic… Nic….” Beryl gasped. She pulled herself away from Nic for just a moment to take off the gray undershirt she was wearing. But she had only just gotten the shirt over her head when she thought she heard something.

“What was that?” she asked, her arms still stuck inside the shirt.

Nic wrapped his arms around her bare back and pulled her down towards him. “What was what?” he asked. “I didn’t hear anything.”

Beryl quickly agreed, and hurriedly tossed the T-shirt away. But only a few seconds back into the throes of passion, they were again interrupted by a sound.

“There it is again,” Beryl said, between kisses. She lifted herself up onto her elbows and tilted her head in the direction of the cockpit. “Something’s bleeping. I think someone’s answering our signal, Nic.”

“Beryl…!” Someone was calling her name from outside.

“Yeah, and they must’ve got a really good com system 'cause it sounds like they’re right outside,” Nic observed, deadpan.

Beryl blanched. It had only been one word, but she recognised the voice. It was Conn. She looked at Nic, and then at the shuttle’s open door, and then back at Nic. “Oh, crap! Get dressed!”

She hurriedly untangled herself from Nic, grabbed her shirt from the floor and put it on.

“What?” Nic asked, confused. He began to search under bits of clothing for his blaster. “Imps?”

“No. Yes. Sort of,” Beryl said, now putting on her boots. “Nic, just stay here. I’ll be right back. Ow!” She winced as she stood up, noticing a dark stain welling up on her black trousers. Her wound was bleeding again. “Oh, great,” she grimaced as she poked at the bacta bandage. “Just great.”

One last look over her shoulder at Nic, and then she headed out the door and down the ramp of the shuttle.


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 11-03-2007, 02:05 PM   #93
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“Hang on!” Nic called as Beryl ran out of the ship, he began looking around the room. “Where’s my shirt?” Nic shrugged his shoulder and reached to grab his stolen gun and vibroblade holstering them both, he then gripped the walking stick and began to follow Beryl out of the Shuttle.
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Old 11-03-2007, 02:28 PM   #94
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Conn was mere meters away from the shuttle when a pair of black-booted feet appeared at the top of the ramp and started descending. He stopped, laying a hand on the pistol at his hip as the person came into view, just in case it wasn't Beryl. But his caution proved to be unnecessary as the blonde Corellian pilot stepped off the ramp and onto the jungle floor. He strode towards her just as she squinted through the daylight at him. "Beryl!" he repeated.

Her eyes widened in surprise as he approached. "Conn?" she asked, her expression incredulous.

"You were expecting someone else?" he responded, covering the last few meters between them.

"Well, actually---" The rest of Beryl's reply was cut off as Conn pulled her into an embrace, crushing her to his chest.

"Finally," Conn said, holding her close. The pent-up frustration, anxiety and worry rolled off of him in a wave after having found her at last.

"Finally?" Beryl tried to think what he meant. "I thought you were dead. What, have you been looking for me this whole time?"

Conn pulled his head back to look at her and eased his arms away slightly. "I thought you were worse than dead," he replied. "And yeah, I have been looking for you. You're awfully hard to track down, y'know."

Beryl began to feel all sorts of feelings that she hadn't felt for a very long time--elation, relief, happiness, wariness, guilt. It was making her head spin. Her Imperial training told her to hold them in check, but being this close to part-Zeltron Conn made it very difficult. She bit the inside of her lip in an attempt to steel herself before speaking. "Personal contacts aren't allowed while in training," she finally managed to say.

"Training?" Conn repeated, arching an eyebrow. "Your brother made you go through Imp training?" He wrinkled his nose as he noticed something. "I don't rememeber them teaching me to wear my shirt inside out."

Beryl glanced down, then reddened slightly, but before she could get more words out, Max spoke up from behind Conn. "Imps, huh? Well, that explains the shuttle and the TIE, newsie," the slight Lorrdian intoned, approaching with Lana in tow. As Conn and Beryl separated, the Alderaanian doctor standing to the side, Max raked a critical eye over the blonde pilot. "You look like hell, Beryl."

At Max's comment, and slightly embarrassed about her recent romp in the shuttle with Nic, Beryl quickly smoothed a hand over her hair. "I'm in better shape now than I've ever been," she replied, as if she were repeating something. Then she looked down at her thigh. "The flesh wound is recent," she added dismissively.

"Flesh wound?" Conn repeated again, arching his other eyebrow as his gaze traveled down to Beryl's right thigh, where the pooling blood stood out even against the black of her trousers. "We heard blaster fire before we landed here. Were you hit?" He frowned. "Did this 'Nic' person do this to you?"

"Nic? No, sir, not on purpose. I was actually trying to kill him, although I didn't know it was him at the time," she added. "And this just sort of... happened by accident."

Kill him? Conn thought. Who is this guy? And why is Beryl calling me 'sir'? He was about to verbalize his thoughts into words when he heard sounds of a second person coming down the shuttle's ramp.




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Old 11-03-2007, 02:49 PM   #95
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A shirtless Nic limped out of the Shuttle and looked around at the people in front of Beryl, normally in this kind of situation he would take out his pistol, but Beryl seemed to know them so he left his gun holstered. His body was still strong, but it also still showed the scars from the various torture sessions he had been through over the last few weeks as well as the lightsaber wound on his gut.

Still standing on the ramp he leaned on to his walking stick and smiled at them. “So I guess the thing to do now is introduce myself. I’m Captain Nic White, but you can call me Nic, everyone else does.” Nic extended his hand out to the new man and women as he sniffed the air, there was a slightly familiar smell in the air and he had to think before he could remember what it was. “Is there a Zeltron round here?”
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Old 11-03-2007, 03:10 PM   #96
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Conn looked over the newcomer who had introduced himself as 'Nic White'. About the same height as he was, with a well-toned physique which was easy to see, since Nic's torso and arms were bare. Nic held a shirt in his hand, however, as if he'd just grabbed it as he came down the ramp. Conn furrowed his brow at that thought, especially in light of Beryl's disheveled appearance, even as he raked his keen physician's eyes over Nic's scars and a particularly nasty looking gash across the abdomen.

Nevertheless, he reached out and gripped Nic's hand in his own. "Doctor Conway Harlowe," he said, giving Nic a firm handshake. "I'm also the Zeltron here. Quarter Zeltron, anyway."

Max was next. "Captain Nic White?" she repeated. "And what ship do you captain, good sir?"

"The mercenary ship Echo," Nic replied, shaking her hand.

"Ah good," Max as she released his grip, then reached into a pocket and pulled out a credit chit. "I'm Captain Maxxenandra Coronis of the freelance ship Hammerspace and I do believe this is for you." She tossed him the chit.

Nic caught it one-handed, then held it up to look at it. "What is it?"

"One point five million authorized Imperial credits."




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Old 11-03-2007, 03:16 PM   #97
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Nic looked at chip carefully think it was a joke but the chip was real, he looked at Max quizzically. “And why is a virtual stranger giving me so much money? Or is this a new way how ship Captains greet each other because I can’t really see it catching on?”
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Old 11-03-2007, 03:40 PM   #98
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"It's Ryshana's bounty," Beryl said tonelessly. She stared at Max, then Conn, and then Nic. There were certain things that she didn't ever want to think about, and Ryshana's bounty was one of them. If it hadn't been for Ryshana convincing Nic to cash in on it, they wouldn't have gone to the prison in the first place. Ryshana would still be alive and none of the events in the past two months would have occurred. Now that Ryshana was dead, it felt wrong to Beryl to have the money. But she knew Nic, and quite possibly Jana, could use it, and so she said nothing more about it.

"We've got to go," she said instead, abruptly turning her back on Conn and heading for the inside of the shuttle. "I'll get my gear."


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Old 11-03-2007, 03:49 PM   #99
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Nic Looked at Beryl as she walked into back into the shuttle and then at the chip in his hand. He threw it a few centimetres in the air and grabbed it in the same hand, his expression changed to one of anger as he through his hand back and then quickly forward again. The chip left his hand a great speed as it shouted out loud to express his anger. The chip flew out into the forest and slowly down towards the jungle floor where Nic hoped it would be lost forever. He said nothing as took his shirt and placed it over his head and back on his body, he slowly turned and walked back into the shuttle.
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Old 11-03-2007, 04:18 PM   #100
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Conn stared after Beryl as she stalked up the ramp and rubbed a hand over his face. Something was wrong. When Nic had appeared, Beryl had exuded surprise and apprehension, along with a twinge of guilt. That, coupled with her unkempt appearance and Nic's shirtlessness led him to believe they might have been up to something inside the shuttle. Nic's appearance and easygoing manner was the only thing that had kept Conn from saying something to her. He would query her about it later, though he had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Secondly, Beryl's attitude was far, far different than Conn remembered. She was subdued, almost detached. Her use of 'sir' spoke volumes to him about just how much the Imperials were able to get to her, as she was always one to buck authority and defer to no one. The fact that outwardly she hadn't seemed all that excited to see him also stuck out in his mind. She had always been an emotional person, wearing her feelings on her sleeve, but now it was almost as if she was repressing them. Conn was sure this was an Imperial mannerism as well, but it bothered him how much she had been ingrained into it. That was something he'd have to discuss with her as well.

He watched Nic fling the credit chit into the trees and stalk back up into the shuttle. Turning to Max, he saw her shaking her head. "Glad I didn't have to tell him what it was," she remarked. "Otherwise, he might've thrown it at me."

Lana, who had been silent up to this point, blew out an exasperated sigh. "That would have been better," she exclaimed, her nictitating eyelids blinking furiously as she bounded toward where Nic had thrown the chit. "At least he wouldn't have been throwing a million and a half credits away." She threw up her hands as she pushed through the leaves. "Don't they want the money they were after?!" she asked rhetorically. "What kind of mercenaries are they anyway?"

As Lana searched through the undergrowth muttering, Max came up next to Conn and crossed her arms, joining him in staring at the shuttle. "You're confused," she said, not looking at him.

Conn chuckled ruefully. "I thought I was the empath here," he said, scratching the back of his head.

"You are, but you also project more feelings than any other Zeltron I've known," Max replied.

"Can you blame me?" He sighed, bringing his latent empathic abilities under control, something that usually came easy to him but was rather difficult at the moment.

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "No," she admitted.

"She's changed, Max."

"I know. You don't need to be a Zeltron to tell that." She closed her eyes. "You're just going to have to find out how much, and if you can change her back."

"Right," Conn replied mockingly, as if the task in and of itself was nothing. "Then there's 'Captain Nic White' to deal with."

"Don't forget the dead Imp back there."




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Old 11-03-2007, 04:52 PM   #101
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“You going to take the liquor, sir?” Beryl asked Nic, just as she was tucking in her shirt (now on the right way round) into her trousers. She glanced over her shoulder at him, and then absently licked her bottom lip. “Seems a shame to just leave it.”

Her flight suit neatly rolled up, her helmet under her arm, and her blaster tucked in the waistband of her trousers, she started to exit the shuttle, but paused just as she was passing by Nic at the door.

"You know, I think you can stop calling me 'sir'," Nic said. He stroked her cheek. "Think we're beyond that sort of formality."

"Sorry, s--." Beryl let out a small sigh. "It's habit, but I'll try to remember." She pressed her lips together. "Just so you know, Conn and I have a history together. But..." She kissed him lightly on the cheek. "I’m not hurt, and I don’t regret it.” She headed outside back to Conn and Max.


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Old 11-03-2007, 06:01 PM   #102
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Just as Lana was traipsing out of the jungle, credit chit firmly secured in her fist, Beryl and Nic descended the shuttle's ramp and walked up to Conn and Max. "We're ready," Beryl told their rescuers.

Max nodded as Lana came up alongside her. "This is Lana Lasheen, my first mate," she said as a way of introducing the young Firrerreo. After greetings were exchanged, she gestured towards her ship. "C'mon, let's get off this rock," she said, moving forward.

As they made their way towards the Hammerspace, the odd TIE and its dead pilot came into view again. Conn slowed down, staring at the deceased man. "Beryl, who was this?" he called out.

Beryl looked over at the body. "TC-128-1, sir," she said impassively. "Otherwise known as Captain Aiken." She cocked her head to one side, looking at the Captain's face, for when she had killed him he had been wearing his helmet. "His wife's making him roast nuna for dinner tonight." She looked at Conn, her eyes cold and unfeeling. "Sad, huh?"

Conn was taken aback by the chilly tone Beryl had affected. "Yes, quite," he said, finally finding his voice. "What happened to him? Was he the one flying this ship?"

"I was flying it. He wanted to contact Carida Control to send in marines to find the shuttle. And that didn't fit into my plans. So, I killed him."

Everyone turned to look at her. It wasn't so much the fact that she had killed him, but the callousness with which she described it that made them stop. Nic arched an eyebrow at her.

"It's his own fault, really," she added. "He's the one that wanted to do a 'tandem flight'."

Conn wanted to press her more about it, but he knew that if they lingered any longer, the Imperials would come. "Right," he said, wrinkling his nose. "Let's get on board. No telling when we might get company." As they boarded the ramp, Conn reached out and touched Beryl on the arm as she walked by. "I need to have a word with you after you get settled."

Beryl nodded, her features unchanged. "Of course, sir."

*****

Fifteen minutes later, the Hammerspace broke through the moon's sparse atmosphere and into space.




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Old 11-03-2007, 09:30 PM   #103
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Inside the Hammerspace and on their way to Ruusan, Beryl headed to the bridge. She wanted to send a message to Jana, to let her know that she was on her way to the rendezvous point she had specified in her letter, but not quite in the manner that she had planned.

One of the Firrerreos was sitting near the com equipment, and so Beryl approached her. “Lena?”

“Lana,” the Firrerreo replied.

“I’m sorry. Lana,” Beryl started again. “I need to send a message on a CMG frequency. May I use the com station?”

“Sure.” Lana slid her chair over to one side, allowing Beryl access to the com controls. “You need help with anything?”

“I can manage, thank you.” As she started to type in her message, Beryl was acutely aware that Lana was keeping a curious eye on her.

“So, what’s a ‘CMG?’” Lana asked.

“Corellian Merchant Guild.” Beryl typed a bit more, and then noticed that Lana seemed to be waiting for additional information. “It’s an association of Merchants that are Corellian-based or whose employees or owners are Corellian-bred. They have guild offices scattered all over the Galaxy. A sort of ‘home away from home’ for Corellians.”

Lana nodded. “Sounds… useful.”

“It is.” Beryl read the message to herself to see if it sounded okay. Mom, plans have changed. Don’t need a ride. Will meet you at the Rest. Dad’s buying. –B. Satisfied, she sent it off. The message was still a bit coded, as Beryl still wasn’t sure if she was being monitored or not, but she knew that once Jana got it, she’d know to meet her at the Smuggler’s Rest on Ruusan. And that Nic was alive and with her.

“Thank you,” she said to Lana. “Is there someplace I can wait while the doctor finishes up with Nic?”

“Common room?” Lana suggested.

Beryl nodded curtly and left the bridge. Once in the small common room, she sat down in one of the chairs and quietly waited.


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Old 11-04-2007, 11:02 AM   #104
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On the bridge of the Echo, Reibe seemed to be working through her mind, trying to find a little something to tell Jack about herself. But at that moment, the comm station blinked. Reibe took a step forward and flicked the switch, but the only sound that came through was static... highly regular bursts of it. After listening for a few seconds, Reibe flicked the comm station off and shook her head.

"Hate to cut this short," she told Jack. "I have a message to deliver..."

With that, she left the bridge. In the common room, she found Cloud and Jeez and she paused to ask, "Cloud, Jeez, have either of you seen Jana?"

"I'm right here, Reibe," Jana said from the other end of the room. As Reibe crossed the room and led Jana away to her room, Cloud turned to Jeez.

"Did she just refer to us by name?" he asked, bewildered.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"I have a message for you," Reibe told Jana. Jana nodded wordlessly and Reibe put a hand to Jana's forehead. Words formed in Jana's mind. A message came in from the CMG box you asked us to monitor. It reads as follows, "Mom, plans have changed. Don't need a ride. Will meet you at the Rest. - B"

Jana's eyes sparkled just a little. "Smuggler's Rest. Then, that's where we're headed. But I had other reasons for coming to you. I wanted to talk about Nic."

"What about him?" Reibe asked.

"In the last letter Beryl sent, she indicated Nic died much more recently than you led me to believe," Jana answered. Reibe nodded.

"Had I allowed the truth to be known, you would have gone after him and you'd have been killed," she reasoned.

"I'm surprised I don't hold a grudge against you for that," Jana said. "But since I discovered your lie, I've found it increasingly difficult to believe that Beryl saw him die. He's a survivor. I just can't picture him dying before he's ready..."

"You believe he's still alive then?" Reibe inquired. Jana nodded.

"Yes, I do," she agreed.

"Then reach out with the Force and find him," Reibe ordered. Jana closed her eyes, focusing her mind into finding Nic. Somewhere far off in the galaxy, a tiny spark of life sprang to her attention, as if to say, "Here I am!"

Reibe smiled faintly. "Now think over the message I delivered."

Jana obeyed and quickly noticed a patch of static that seemed out of place. She moved it and the words came through clear, Dad's buying. Jana's eyes snapped open. "He's with Beryl."

At that moment, the Echo came out of hyperspace.

"Then, you will see him soon," Reibe said. And with that, she left Jana alone.


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Hidden Histories: The Galaxy Hacker

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Old 11-04-2007, 11:37 AM   #105
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Nic lay on a small table in the Hammerspace’s small medbay. It reminded him of the Echo’s, which made him think of Oliver. It had been six weeks since the medic had died and Nic hadn’t had the opportunity to think of him in all that time. He had concentrated on two things: escape and Beryl. Oliver deserved better than what he got, he may have made a few bad choices but in the end, he made the right one.

Nic was in the medbay because Conn had told him he would take a look at his leg injury when they broke atmosphere, although Nic had the distinct impression the doctor had other reasons to see him.

Conn strode through the door to the medbay, his scrubs already on. "Okay, let's have a look at that leg of yours," he said, moving next to Nic. "Eugh, this looks bad," he said, wrinkling his nose. "How'd you get it?"

"A mutual friend of ours shot me," Nic replied with a small laugh and a grin.

Conn arched an eyebrow as he reached for a pair of syringes on his operating tray. "Beryl shot you?"

"Yeah, Corellian women tend to like doing that to me." Nic replied watching the doctor get ready to begin his work. "But she was only saving my life so I can’t complain."

"Saving your life by shooting you in the leg," Conn said, smoothly slipping the syringes into the skin around the charred flesh. "You'll have to explain that one to me."

"Basically it was shoot my leg or my head. I think she made the right decision." Nic looked at Conn and thought now was a good a time as any to ask the doctor what he really wanted to know. "So is there something on your mind, Doc? I couldn’t help but notice your obvious wariness around me."

Conn paused, a laser scalpel in his hand, just above Nic's wound. "Just any general wariness that comes with meeting someone for the first time," he replied, deciding to play it casually at first. "The galaxy is a pretty big and scary place, so everyone has to be wary on some level."

"That’s true." Nic replied as he felt the pain in his leg disappear as the drugs kicked in. "From what I hear you helped Beryl out of the prison and that earns you trust with me so if you do have questions I’ll be willing to answer them if I can."

"Okay," Conn murmured as he started his incisions. "How'd you and Beryl end up on the same deserted rock?"

"Well, she shot the shuttle I was escaping Carida in while she was escaping Carida herself in that TIE. I had to land, she followed." Nic explained. "Just one hell of a coincidence."

Slicing away dead flesh, Conn nodded. "The Force works in mysterious ways and all that jazz, yeah?" he demurred. "Guess you guys were captured at the same time during that whole big muck-up at that Imp base a couple of months ago, huh?"

"Yeah," Nic replied. "but that’s a very long story. So why'd you help Beryl out anyway?"

"Beryl and I are old friends," Conn stated, stripping away the bits of burned flesh with his left hand while applying a bacta salve with his right. "We used to work at Incom together. I was really surprised when she showed up at the prison, and I knew I couldn't just let her try and escape on her own." He paused. "I let her walk out of my life once. I wasn't going to let her do it again."

"So you guys were an item?" Nic asked knowing the answer was yes. He could hear it in the tone and the way Conn said it.

Conn, who hadn't looked at Nic's face the whole time, flicked his eyes upward, meeting Nic's own for a brief moment. "Yeah," he confirmed. "We were. Until she broke it off. Wouldn't tell me why, then she got fired from Incom and disappeared." He pressed the bacta salve into the wound gently, making sure it hit the frayed skin edges. "It was only at the prison I found out why she did it."

Nic thought for a moment. Not only had Beryl bumped into her ex once in a prison, but again on an abandoned rock in the middle of nowhere. "So how did you find the me and Beryl?"

Conn ripped a long piece of elastic bandage and carefully held it against Nic's knee, bracing it as he carefully wrapped the wound. "I've been looking for her," he said. "Ever since her brother kidnapped her and took her away." He affixed a clip to the end of the bandage. "Max, she's a former Trustee at that same prison, she and I have been scouring the galaxy for her." He looked Nic in the eye. "Like I said, I couldn't let her walk out of my life again."

"So you risk your career and life to help her out, and then search the darkest corners of space to find her." Nic stated looking down as he couldn’t look the doctor in the eyes. "You love her."

Conn put the finishing touches on Nic's bandage, then straightened up and sighed. "Oh, so you're diagnosing me now?" he asked rhetorically, without malice.

Nic sat up and turned so his leg was now dangling over the table, he sighed and looked up at Conn. "Nothing happened in the shuttle." Nic said, knowing the real question Conn had wanted to ask. He slid off the table and landed on his feet a little shakily.

Conn reached out a steadying hand, leading Nic over to where a pair of crutches leaned against the wall. "Make sure you keep off that leg for at least two days to let it fully heal."

Nic nodded as he propped himself up onto the crutches. He turned and slowly began to walk out the room, but stopped in the doorway."Conn," he called out to the doctor. "Now you have her back, don’t let go."

As the door slid shut, Conn sat back in his chair and sighed, reaching into his pocket and feeling around for the shrapnel heart. "I don't think I'm the one that needs to be told not to let go," he said to the sterile medbay air.
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Old 11-04-2007, 12:06 PM   #106
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Beryl lay on the operating table in the tiny medbay on the Hammerspace. It was quite a bit smaller than the Echo's, which wasn't all that large to begin with. Conn had asked her to be there to treat her injury and she had complied, since he was her superior. On her way to the medbay, she had passed Nic, who was walking to his room. He had given her a bit of an odd look. Beryl wasn't sure what to make of it.

Conn strode through the door, pulling on a pair of gloves. "Yes, I know, it isn't as luxurious as the last medbay I treated you in, but it'll have to do," he said, pulling up his operating tray.

"I wasn't complaining, sir," Beryl said, frowning slightly almost as if she was unsure what Conn wanted her to say.

Conn cringed inwardly. The old Beryl would have had a ready retort to his quip. This new Beryl was cold, concise. Imperial. "When did you start this whole 'sir' business?" he asked, moving up to her side.

"It's protocol to address a superior officer in that manner," she stated without hestitation, but then she shifted, obviously uncomfortable about her automated answer. "It's sort of a habit now, s--." She paused. "I'm sorry. I'll try to remember not to do that."

"Beryl, I'm not your superior officer," Conn stated, putting a hand on his hip. "I was never a superior officer to you. That stuff doesn't matter anyway, you're not with the Imps anymore, so just drop it, all right?"

Beryl nodded, not knowing how to respond to him and afraid to open her mouth lest the word 'sir' accidentally come out.

Conn could feel her apprehension and shook his head. "Easy, it's just me, B," he said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "No need to be jumpy. Now let's take a look at that 'flesh wound of yours."

She nodded again, not complaining or commenting about needles, or pain, or prodding, or even making any remarks as to whether or not the wound pained her.

Shaking his head, Conn reached over and gingerly slid her anti-g trousers off her legs. Her wound was on her upper right thigh and he could see that the bacta patch that had been applied was not doing an adequate enough job of staunching the wound. He grabbed a sheet of medicated gauze in his right hand and carefully traced the outline of the patch with his left, looking for a spot to latch onto. "How did you say you got this again?" he asked.

"A tree splintered. And I caught the biggest piece."

"With your leg," Conn said, smirking slightly. "That's par for the course with you." His fingers found purchase on the patch and he slowly peeled it away from her skin, revealing the gash underneath. The flesh had healed somewhat, but the bacta in the patch wasn't quite enough to heal it all the way; as a result, the injury still looked decidedly raw. "That'll leave you a nice scar to match all your other ones," he said as he pried away the patch with his left hand and ran the gauze over with his right. He chuckled. "They teach you all this hullaballoo at the Imp Academy, yet they still can't teach you to dodge projectiles. Must not have been very good training."

"I was only enrolled in basic officer training, not commando training, s--." She paused. "Conn," she self-corrected. "And I did dodge the shot. Just wasn't expecting the tree to explode." Beryl didn't wince as Conn cleaned out her wound, not even when he paused to extract a couple of stray splinters. If her Imperial training didn't teach her to dodge splinters, it certainly taught her not to flinch when they were being extracted.

Conn set aside his instruments and the bit of gauze he'd used to collect all the bloody splinters and fragments of wood and stood back to look at his handiwork. Her wound was still raw, but he'd managed to clean it up rather well, so well that he was sure it'd leave the most minimal of scars. All that was left was to put the poultice on and wrap it up. He slapped his hands together and was about to tell her the good news when he looked at her face and saw her blank, distant countenance. It was an expression that he'd seen on her face only once before and he'd done his very best to make it go away. Those were under different circumstances, however. This time, he was at a complete loss as to where to begin.

Pouring a generous gob of disinfectant gel on his hands, he carefully rubbed it onto the skin around her wound. He looked up at her and muttered quietly, "'Wasn't expecting the tree to explode'. That's rich." He massaged the gel onto her thigh, kneading it softly. "What did they do to you, B? This 'sir' garbage, bottling up your emotions, repressing your feelings." He shook his head again. "It's like they replaced you with someone completely different."

Beryl opened her mouth as if she was about to say something, but then quickly pressed her lips shut. It was another moment before she finally said, Re-education," in a voice just above a whisper. "Safety, Security, Justice, and Peace for the next ten thousand years." She looked away from him, shaking her head, unable to tell him anything more.

Conn stopped massaging her thigh and crossed his arms. "'Re-education'," he repeated. "You sound like a bloody Imperial propaganda program." His lips curled up into a slight sneer. "The Beryl Quitaan I knew never would have succumbed to their lies."

"Lies?" One of Beryl's hands started to shake, and she clasped it tightly with the other. "What's a lie but another perspective of the truth?" she said in a toneless voice.

The shaking had not gone unnoticed by Conn. "Spoken like a true Imp," he said, a hint of bitterness creeping into his voice. "You honestly believe in their crap, don't you?" he asked, deciding to prod further now that he'd gotten some sort of reaction out of her. He bent down close to her face. "You know they hate non-Humans, Beryl," he whispered. "And guess what I am? I'm quarter Zeltron. Quarter non-Human. Does that mean you hate me?" He reached out with a finger and tapped her chin to force her to face him. "Tell me."

Beryl shook her head. "I don't hate you," she said softly."But I am trying very hard to keep myself together. Very hard." She took a deep breath. "And you're not helping." So hard was she gripping her shaking hand that her knuckles were now turning white. "What time is it?"

Conn checked the chrono on the wall behind the table. "2030 Coruscant Standard Time," he replied. "Why do you ask?"

"Past time for meds...." Beryl looked at him. "I need a tranq," she said flatly.

"I wasn't aware you got your doctorate on Carida as well, Beryl," he replied evenly. "What meds?"

"I don't know what meds!" Beryl said, irritatedly. "Just... meds! Look, just give me something to help me sleep and I'll be fine!"

"Ah, so you do have emotions," Conn replied, taking out another syringe. "I'll help you sleep, but you will answer my questions when you wake up, got it?"

Beryl's brow wrinkled, decidedly uncomfortable with the whole situation. Nevertheless she said, "I'll tell you what I can." She held out her arm, just as she had done everyday for Dr. Ferrana. "You're worse than Dr. Ferrana," she muttered under her breath.

Conn caught the name she'd muttered; it was unfamiliar to him, but he'd have Lana look into it after he was done with Beryl. "Good," he said, slipping the needle into her arm and squeezing the plunger. The drugs were fast-acting and he could feel her relax palpably. "Good night, Beryl," he said as her eyes fluttered shut.

Her voice was tired, weary. "Good night... sir..." she replied as her head lolled to the side.

Conn studied her face as she slept; it was the first time he'd seen her at peace since rescuing her. "There's something not right with you, B," he muttered as he prepared yet another set of instruments. "And I'm pretty sure these 'drugs' and this 'Dr. Ferrana' have a lot to do with that."

*****

After extracting blood samples and applying the poultice to her leg wound, Conn carried Beryl carefully to her quarters and laid her on the bed. He tucked her under the sheets, then straightened up and looked at her face again. Her eyelids fluttered, indicating a lot of subconcious activity going on in her head. He frowned, then reached into his pocket and took out the shrapnel heart and placed it on the nightstand next to her bed. He grabbed a piece of flimsi and quickly scribbled something onto it, then tucked it under the shrapnel. With one last look at her sleeping form, he exited the room.




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Old 11-04-2007, 07:43 PM   #107
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Beryl was having a restless sleep—tossing and turning, murmuring now and then, twitching once in a while, and with the occasional tear or two trickling down her cheek. She was dreaming, or rather having a nightmare….

*********

“It pains me to see you like this, Beryl. It really does.” Berasmus Quitaan laid a hand on his sister’s shoulder. “Just answer the question and I promise everything will be alright.”

“Please, Nuss.” Beryl’s one free hand frantically tugged at the neural collar around her neck. Not only a tool for punishment, it continually gave off short bursts of electric shock, making it difficult for her to concentrate and near impossible to connect with the Force. “No more, please.”

But Nuss didn’t take the collar off. Instead, he placed his hands on either side of Beryl’s head and turned her to face a computer screen with a red square glowing in the middle of it. “Just tell me what color the square is.”

Beryl cringed and was trying to hold back tears. She had told him—again, and again, and again, for what seemed like hours and hours and hours--and every time she answered the neural collar would activate sending waves and waves of incredible pain surging throughout her body. At first she had answered ‘red’, and she had been rewarded with pain. Then she started to give answers of different colors—blue, purple, yellow—but that was not the answer either as the pain had grown more intense. She had then tried not answering at all, but quickly abandoned that tactic as the punishment was not only more intense but longer in duration. “What do you want from me?”

“Just a simple answer to a simple question,” her brother whispered into her ear. “What color is the square?”

She cringed, bracing herself for the pain she knew was coming. “Red!”

Pain surged through her like a tidal wave, making every muscle in her body convulse. If she hadn’t been strapped into the chair she was sitting in, she would have collapsed to the floor.

“Beryl, please….” Nuss’ face suddenly morphed into Captain Kriss Raikellii’s face. “Just do as your brother asks. He’s only trying to help you. We all are.” Kriss smiled gently, kindly. “Just tell us what color the square is.”

“What do you want from me, you bastard!” she screamed at him. “I’ve told you! It’s kriffin’ red! Red, red, red, red….!” Her words drowned into screams of pain as the neural collar was activated again.

She was still twitching when Kriss caressed the side of Beryl’s face with his hand. “You’ve got everything going for you, Beryl—looks, skills, education, background. Don’t throw it all away. Let me help you.”

Kriss gently kissed her, his lips lingering on hers for several seconds. But as he pulled away from her, his face changed and it wasn’t Kriss looking at her but Dr. Ferrana. “It’s a very simple question that has a very simple answer.”

As he laid a hand on her arm that was restrained, she felt a hot, burning sensation begin to flow through her veins.

“What are you doing to me?!”

“Just answer the question, Beryl. What color is the square on the monitor?”

Beryl felt as if her body were on fire. She shrieked in pain as the impassive face of Dr. Ferrana calmly stared back at her. Then his face began to morph into Dr. Twerna’s, then into Cadet Penwick’s, and then into Captain Aiken’s.

“What color is the square on the monitor?” the Captain said, as his face started to turn the ashy-blue sort of hue of a corpse.

The pain was intense, her mind befuddled, and it was hard for her to speak. “The square is red, sir!”

“What was that?” Captain Aiken raised an eyebrow, as if he was pleasantly surprised by the way she had phrased her latest answer.

“THE SQUARE IS RED, SIR!”

Beryl felt the tension on her arm disappear and she bolted upright out of the chair, only to find herself sitting upright in a bed--sweating profusely, shaking, disoriented and confused. It took her a moment to realise she was in some sort of dimly lit ship’s quarters. As she swung her legs over the edge of the bed to put her feet on the deck, she immediately recognised something familiar and comforting on the bedside table. She snatched it up with one swipe of her hand, clutching it tightly in her fist.

She moved to the corner of the room, sitting down on the floor and clutching her knees to her chest. Only then did she open up the crinkled flimsi and read it.

"You need this more than I do right now."

“Conn….” She clutched the keepsake to her heart and laid her head down on her knees.


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:13 PM   #108
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Conn blew an exasperated sigh as he carefully replaced the specimen dish, then sat back in his seat. The medical faculties of the Hammerspace were meager, which was hard for him to get used to, being that he'd recently come from working in a fully-stocked Imperial facility. It had taken him a long time to isolate the cells he was looking for in Beryl's sample, as her blood was rife with the tranquilizer he'd given her. He breathed deeply for a few moments, then leaned back into start working again when he heard a yell from the room outside. Beryl's quarters.

"What do you want from me, you bastard! I’ve told you! It’s kriffin’ red! Red, red, red, red….!"

Conn stood up quickly and put his implements to the side. Beryl was probably having a very bad, very lucid dream, if her screams were any indication.

“What are you doing to me?!”

He removed his gloves and tossed them into the trash, then whirled around and grabbed a number of syringes.

"THE SQUARE IS RED, SIR!"

He slapped at the door controls and sprinted down the hall. Pressing the open sequence into the keypad at Beryl's door, he ducked in and looked into the dimly lit room. "Beryl?" he asked, slightly surprised at not seeing her in the bed, but quickly spotting her huddled up in the corner. He moved to her and knelt down next to her, laying a hand on her shoulder. "Beryl?" he repeated. "Is everything okay?"




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Old 11-05-2007, 09:52 PM   #109
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Beryl didn’t look at Conn, but shook her head as her hand tightened on the keepsake. “Just a nightmare, sir,” she said quietly. “I have them all the time, but they’re not always that bad.” She snorted, thinking on how Dr. Ferrana would miss out on her reporting on her latest dream, especially since he had featured in it. “Suppose it’s because I missed my meds today.” She looked up at Conn then. “Next time, can you give me something stronger?”

Conn frowned. These 'meds' the Imperials had had her on were sounding more and more sinister. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea, B," he started, then paused at her crestfallen look. "But if it'll help you sleep better, I'll consider it." He squeezed her shoulder. "That sounded like a pretty rough nightmare. What was it?"

She frowned slightly, then after a pause, said, “It didn’t make much sense, sir.” She cringed. “Sorry, habit,” she apologized for calling him ‘sir’ again. “There was a red square on a screen,” she continued, “and people were asking me to tell them what color it was, but any answer I gave them was wrong.” She shook her head quickly. “It doesn’t matter. It was just a dream.”

She opened her fist, revealing the keepsake. “So, I guess this really is a good luck charm. It kept you alive and safe.” She paused. “You know, I don’t think I said ‘thank you’ yet for rescuing me and Nic.” His hand still resting on her shoulder, she placed her hand on top of his and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Thank you.”

Conn gave her a small, crooked grin. "You didn't make it easy to find you, believe me. Lena, Lana and Max all thought I'd flipped my gourd." He stood, then offered his hand to her.

She took it and stood close to him. Their bodies nearly touching, she gazed into his eyes for a moment, and then laid her head on his shoulder. “You’re warm,” she said. “And I feel so cold inside.”

Conn was surprised at Beryl's sudden show of apparent affection. In the medbay, she'd been cold, irritable and confrontational; now she was quiet, disoriented and quite fragile. He held the back of her head, relishing the familiar feel of her soft, short hair. "Probably because of those drugs they gave you," he surmised, noting that she was quivering ever so slightly. If they had her on a regimen, she'd be going through withdrawal right about now. He kissed the top of her head, then reached down and took her by the hand and moved towards the door. "I know what you need to warm you up," he said. At her curious look, he chuckled. "Bet you haven't had a good cup of caf in a while. Lena makes the best Corellian blend." He caught her gaze. "Maybe that'll help you remember these 'drugs' they gave you."

“I never saw any labels on any of the bottles or the syringes,” she said. “But I can tell you that they made me feel sort of sleepy and it was hard to focus, but then I felt calm afterwards. Dr. Ferrana said that the meds were to assist with the re-ed ‘transition’ process.” She shook her head. “I still don’t know what that means, exactly, but I tried as much as I could to resist their effects.” She looked directly at him. “I tried to use the Force to resist it, Conn, and it was still really hard.”

She started out the door with him, but then paused. “Wait.” She let go of his hand and began to back up into the room again. “I want to show you something.” She rose, crossing the room to the small locker near the bed. She opened it and took out her TIE flight suit and began searching the inside pockets. “All of the cadets in my class had an additional duty to perform. Mine was working at the library, classifying incoming manuals and the like.” She extracted two small cylinders—one was the code cylinder that Captain Aiken had given her, and the other was the one she had recorded the data she had retrieved from the Academy library. “So, I collected some stuff on the side. Now, I know how some of these things are related, but I’d like another opinion. A medical opinion,” she added. "Do you have a datapad?”

"I've got better," he said, taking the two cylinders from her. "Lana does some slicing in her spare time, so she's got the latest tech-y stuff in her console. She could probably help with it." He took her hand again and led her out the door. "But first, the important things. Let's get some caf."

The two headed for the Hammerspace common room.


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 11-10-2007, 01:47 AM   #110
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3 Months after the attack on the Police Droid Factory, 9 months into the Clone War

"Lady and gentlemen, if you would have a seat, we have much to discuss at this briefing," Nyrera stated calmly as Ryshana, Jeez, and the rest of Valnor Squad entered the briefing room. Seeing Nyrera, Jeez lifted an eyebrow underneath his visor. Nyrera had never given the briefings for their missions; he had only given them a couple of debriefings.

By now, what had started as an isolated resistance by Nyrera had turned into an all out civil war on Fondor. Just two weeks earlier, Valnor Squad had successfully disabled a Droid Control center in one of the major manufacturing districts which had enabled Nyrera to launch his first full scale assault with little opposition to secure his first sizeable stronghold on the planet. No more was the resistance limited to just striking from underground using terrorism tactics; now, Nyrera's resistance had also grown into a full scale army that was capable of challenging the Techno Union's battalions of droids.

And now, the Valnor Squad was being called on yet again, and this time, everyone could tell that this was for a major operation. As they took their seats, Nyrera then began, "Obviously, this mission is of crucial importance, or I wouldn't bother briefing you myself. To get to the point, your mission today is to infiltrate the main Fondorian Government Offices and capture the Prime Minister. Once he is captured, you're next objective is to return with the Prime Minister to one of our safehouses or preferably here. This is the most critical part of our largest and most crucial assaults in this war. Without the Prime Minister during several brief moments, the Techno Union will be divided and leaderless as we drive them from the Orbital Yards."

Ryshana's eyes widened for just a moment at the last statement. If the Resistance controlled the Orbital Yards, this civil war would demand outside interference from the Republic or, more likely, the Separatists. If successful, control of the Orbital Yards would cut off critical war supplies, ships, and droids to the Separatists and escalate the conflict on Fondor to unprecedented levels. With outside interference, this civil war would definitively become a Galactic struggle as both sides would benefit greatly from Fondor's manufacturing outputs.

"Be aware, the process of actually capturing the Prime Minister cannot take place before 0400 tomorrow. If it is done too soon, then my well calculated plan will not have the appropriate timing. If it is done somewhat later than 0400, then it will be of no consequence to you. If it is done well after 0400, then it will in all likelihood be for nothing outside of a publicity stunt for our Resistance. And remember: he must be taken alive and unharmed. If he is so much as injured, then we will lose precious support given his popularity. He must be captured unharmed so that he can deliver a stirring speech to my people about the error of his ways in supporting the Techno Union," Nyrera stated with all the primness he normally displayed.

As Jeez sat there, he wondered for a moment as to why Nyrera would go to such lengths to ensure the Prime Minister's safety. After all, he had never cared much about the men they had captured over the past several months. Heck, Nyrera delivered a public trial about one man's supposed "crimes" and had him publicly executed by firing squad, Jeez thought to himself. Still, he has what it takes to get this thing finished, and that's all that counts.
__________________________

Back on the Echo en route to Rusaan

Laying there in his bed, Jeez was wide awake. Aside from sharing their now daily meditation routine with Cloud, Jeez had kept to himself, and he had also failed to fall asleep in three straight days. He hadn't even had a short nap, and as he laid on his bed, Jeez just stared blankly at the ceiling in his dark, unlit room. Something in the Force just seemed to be nagging at him constantly, and Jeez found it difficult to focus. All kinds of thoughts and strange visions clouded his mind as if the channel was changing at a rapid and constant pace.

It seemed as if there was so many voices all talking and crying out around him, but Jeez couldn't discern a single voice. Everything was just so disjointed and unfocused, and Jeez struggled just to maintain his composure around Cloud during their meditations. Although Jeez could feel himself connected to the Force during the meditations, Jeez's mind was racing too fast for him to concentrate.

Laying there, Jeez closed his eyes as he tried to sleep. Concentrating on the Force, Jeez did his best to relax his mind as he normally would while putting himself into a deep period of hibernation. Instead, everything just began to intensify, and all of the voices and images slowly began to take some sort of a shape. The voices then all seemed to be saying the word all at different times, and the dissonance forced Jeez to squint his eyes as he was overwhelmed. Trying to discern what was said, Jeez could finally make out the word "Constantly".

Then, the word changed, and Jeez struggled yet again as the voices stated the same word over and over all at different times. Concentrating as best as he could, Jeez finally made out the word "Feeding". Again, the voices changed as they moved to a different word, but this time, it sounded very familiar, and Jeez quickly made out the word "Constantly".

Over the course of several minutes, the words constantly shifted as Jeez started to understand them, and he was finally able to put together the phrase, "Constantly feeding, constantly creating. Connected to all in death and life. The One will use death to find life. You will use life to find death. He must create. You must destroy through her. The means will not justify the end."

Then, everything seemed to dissipate, and Jeez looked over at a chronometer. It was already well into the morning. Hmm, I don't remember falling asleep, Jeez thought to himself. At least I can finally focus. Feeling exhaustion set in, Jeez concentrated on the Force and once again focused on relaxing his mind. Almost immediately, Jeez drifted off into a deep slumber.


See the struggle of the faithless lot as they negate their time
How low to sink to the depths of their frame of mind

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Old 11-10-2007, 03:54 AM   #111
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Ten Years Ago, 6 months before the end of the Clone Wars

Simon watched as the stars streaked around the large viewing window of the Republic Ship, he stood in the forward observation room alone. He was never more at peace than when he watched the stars in hyperspace, they were calming, beautiful and almost hypnotic allowing his mind to wonder and forget where he was. The past couple of months he had been working with the Jedi Knight Kaztra Set and acting as a spy for the Grand Army of the Republic.

Simon had only recently come off of a mission where he had to steal some information from a Trade Federation core ship without being detected. He was successful as he was after all selected for this job due to his skills at stealth and infiltration, now he was just waiting to discover if the data he retrieved was worth the effort to get it.

“This is my favourite part of the ship.” A familiar voice brought Simon out of his trance. “No matter how much chaos there is in the galaxy, I just come here and find some serenity.” Kaztra Set continued as he stood next to the spy and smiled. “But you already know that.”

“I’d prefer an attractive Twi’lek to give me a massage.” Simon joked smiling back at the Jedi General.

“Wouldn’t we all.” Master Set replied with a laugh. “You’ve surpassed all my expectations, the information you retrieved has information on all Separatist activity in seven sectors.”

“Let me guess the information has led to me getting a new mission.” Simon stated.

“Indeed, about two days ago a Jedi went Renegade and joined Dooku. He has fallen to the dark side of the force and has information that if he gives to the Seps could lead to thousands of deaths.” Kaztra informed seriously. “The Jedi Council want you to try and get him alive.”

“Why me?”

“I informed them of your skills at stealth.” The Jedi stated. “Like myself they believe you can get closer than anyone else or at least be able to snipe him from a distance.”

“Snipe, I thought you wanted him alive?”

“The mission is to bring him in alive… As long as he lives, he’ll always be a risk” Kaztra paused and looked Simon in the Eyes. “I want you to kill him!”

“I’ll do it.” Simon simply stated turning back to look out at the stars.
__________________________________________________ ____

Now

Nic watched as the stars streaked around the cockpit viewing window of the Hammerspace, he sat in the room alone. As he watched hyperspace his mind had wondered to parts of his life, the things he had done because they were ‘the right thing to do’, things that seemed so right then but now he realised were all mistakes.

Now he found himself doing ‘the right thing’ again and wondering if he would soon regret the decision, Beryl deserved better than a broken mercenary. He was use to giving up on what he wanted, who he loved so others could be happy, but it still hurt.

Maybe this Conway was what Beryl did needed, he could give her what Nic couldn’t and this realization was all that kept Nic strong.
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Old 11-10-2007, 04:30 PM   #112
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((joint post w/Niner ))

Conn and Beryl made their way to the common area where Max sat at the single large console in the middle of the room. He pulled up two chairs and placed them near to where she sat. "Where's Lana?" he asked.

"Getting some much needed shut-eye," Max replied, still tapping away at her keyboard. She was studying the Holonet traffic dating back a few days, from the looks of it. After a few more moments, she minimized her readouts and turned to face Conn and Beryl. "How are you feeling, newsie?" Max asked the blonde pilot as she took a seat.

Beryl stared blankly at Max as she took a moment to consider the question. “Broken,” she finally replied, and then she abruptly turned her gaze back to Conn. “So, where’s that caf and the tech stuff you promised?”

Conn was surprised at how Beryl blew Max off and was about to say something, but stopped when he didn't feel indignation from the Lorrdian. Instead, he felt a touch of curiosity, and he could see out of the corner of his eye that Max had cocked her head to the side at Beryl. "Well, the tech stuff is here at this console," Conn replied, gesturing towards it.

As if on cue, Max stood up and moved towards engineering. "I take it you guys want a bit of caf," she said. "I'll go pry Lena away from the hyperdrive long enough for her to make some."

Conn slid into the seat that Max had vacated and pulled up the slicing programs. "You know, she only asked out of concern," Conn told Beryl as he tapped away.

Beryl gave him a strange look. “What do you mean?”

“Max, asking how you were feeling. She genuinely was concerned.”

“And I genuinely answered her.” Beryl nodded to the code cylinder Conn held in his hand. “Now, that has all the current high-level security Imperial codes and….” She frowned at him. “What?”

Conn shook his head as he slid the cylinder into the jack. "I hope whatever's on this thing holds the key to bringing the old you back," he said.

“What’s on that data cylinder has nothing to do with me,” Beryl said, completely missing the point Conn was making. “It’s catalogue lists and repair manuals of items and equipment shipped to various Imperial stations under my brother’s command. I was trying to make sense of it, and I have some theories, but I wanted a second opinion. A more medical and scientific opinion,” she added.

Conn was about to respond when he noticed Beryl's hand, which was on the edge of the table, start to quiver again. He'd noticed it when they were in the medbay before, but it was more pronounced now, making the table top vibrate slightly. "Yeah, we'll see if I can make sense of it," he said, slicing through the different algorithms on the cylinder.

Beryl followed Conn’s gaze down to her own hand. She quickly laid it in her lap.

Just then, the door to engineering slid open and admitted Lena and Max, both holding steaming mugs of caf. The scent of freshly brewed Corellian caf wafted through the common room.

“Here ‘ya go, newsie,” Max said, smiling as she held out a cup for Beryl to take. “Extra strong like the doctor ordered.”

“Thank you.” Beryl reached out for the cup but her one hand was shaking so badly that she found she needed to use two hands to steady the cup. She set the cup on the table, then looked up at Conn. “Are you sure that caf is the right thing for me to take right now? I think I need a tranq.”

"I don't think you need anymore drugs at this point," Conn responded, taking a mug of caf from Lena. "Other than what's in that cup, that is. So drink up, it'll make you feel human again."

“I don’t need a stim,” Beryl protested. “I need a tranq.”

“You need to listen to the doctor.” Nic appeared in the doorway. “Is that caf I smell?”

“Here.” Lena offered Nic her cup. “I’ll go make another one.”

Beryl eyed him up and down. “How’s your leg?”

“Fine. Yours?”

“Okay.”

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, which Beryl finally broke by saying, “We were just going over the data I copied from the Academy library. You want to help us? We could probably use another opinion.”


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:06 PM   #113
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((woo joint postiessss wif teh Jazzy :3))

Nic nodded, pulling up a seat next to the table and sitting gingerly on it, still favoring his leg. "Do we get popcorn with the show too?" he quipped as he took a sip of caf.

Conn smirked. "Things taken from libraries tend to be quite droll, in my experience," he said, splashing data up on the large viewscreen. From first glance, it looked like cargo manifests and inventory listings. "Shipping information?" he said, cocking his head at Beryl.

Beryl took a long sip of caf, then placed her mug on the table. “Like I said, it’s a catalogue of manuals for various items and equipment,” she started. “The Empire is very through with training their people, so all the manuals for equipment are catalogued and filed in the library. And Imperial regulations state that all private companies that handle Imperial military contracts need to follow Imperial handling procedures. Requests for these manuals come in to the libraries from facilities that have a particular piece of equipment or item.” She pointed to an entry.

“This one, for example, is a request from ChandraMed Forte, a bio-tech company on Chandrila, for handling and disposal instructions for a drug called Clondex. And this one here, is a request from the same company for an operating manual for a new model of centrifuge.”

Conn's ears perked up at the words 'Clondex', 'centrifuge' and 'Chandrila'. "Chandrila?" he repeated. "Why would they be sending stuff like Clondex and centrifuges there?"

“Well… I’ve got a theory about that.” She began to point out other types of requests from ChandraMed. “Several other drugs, a vial capping machine, animal cages… sounds pretty innocuous to me for a bio-tech firm. But then this is what I think is odd. Hydraulic-pressure gauges? And not just one or two. Hundreds of them and ten different models. Tunnelling equipment? Pipes and connectors? Water filters? What are they doing? Making swimming pools for their workers?” She shook her head. “I think they’re planning to release something into the water supply. But what and why?”

Max made a face. "How do they get away with this on Chandrila?" she asked, disgusted.

"They're the Empire," Conn said grimly. "They have the money. Money talks. You know that better than most, Max." He tapped a few keys, magnifying one of the inventory listings. "Clondex, Perigen, Symoxin..." he read off, scanning his eyes down the list. He stopped short at the bottom, the last item causing his eyebrows to shoot up. "Lesai? The hell would they need that for..."

“What is it?” Beryl wanted to know.

"It's a narcotic," Lena stated before Conn could respond. As everyone turned to look at her, the young Firrerreo shrugged her shoulders. "What, you've never done spice or anything?" At their blank looks, she sighed. "Anyway, like I said, it's a narcotic. Makes you not need sleep. Helped me through university."

"It also deadens its users' senses, turns them into zombies," Conn stated matter-of-factly, looking at Lena disapprovingly. "It's illegal to possess, but that wouldn't stop the Empire; they're the ones that made it illegal in the first place." He scratched his chin. "So why are they shipping it in such large quantities to Chandrila...?"

Beryl frowned at this revelation. “Illegal?” She looked at the manifest again. “Then that has to be a….” She rubbed the space between her eyes. “Nevermind. What you need to be asking is how all these things relate to each other. Drugs? Plumbing equipment? Sounds to me like they are planning on building some sort of water treatment plant with a kick,” she added. “But why? For what purpose? If they wanted to kill people they’d just round them up and charge them with something. Why waste time and resources poisoning them with some kind of spice?”




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Old 11-11-2007, 04:16 AM   #114
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Nic sat thinking over what he was hearing, it was like some kind of sinister mathematic question and things were only adding up to the most terrifying of answers. He took a sip of his cafe and then turned his head to face the rest of the group.

“They’re scared.” Nic stated. “Word of rebellion on hat planet has reached the empire, they’re losing control and they can’t afford that on worlds with the influence Chandrila has”

Nic looked over at Conn. “You say that spice causes them to become zombies, I’m guessing you mean the kind that won’t fight back, won’t argue and do what they are told rather than the brain eating kind.”

“That’s right.”

“Then the Empire wants to do that to Chandrila, bring their order to that world, regain their control over its people.” Nic finished sipping his Caf again. “The Empire are sick.”
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Old 11-11-2007, 08:18 AM   #115
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Conn frowned. "It's not quite that cut and dry with Lesai," he said, tapping a few more keys. "Lesai can make people apathetic, but simply introducing that into the water supply isn't going to make all of Chandrila compliant. To do that, you'd need something else to stabilize the enzyme reactions..."

Lena bent down for a better look at the listing Conn was poring over. "What about that thing you said before?" she asked, pointing to a drug on the manifest. "Clondex? Says here it's an enzyme regulator or something."

"You're right, Lena," Conn replied. "Clondex, along with a few other enzyme regulators, could make this concoction stable enough for introduction to the water supply." He gestured to the screen. "Look at this list. Symoxin, Perigen, Renatyl, they're all painkillers and addictive if abused. Pyrodase and Pyrodene are mood enchancers... Elssa seed extract is a narcotic..." Conn blew a sigh and leaned back in his chair. "The Empire could make one hell of a brew with all this stuff. I don't necessarily know that this will give them full control over Chandrila, but whatever it does, it won't be good at all."

"We have to stop him."

Conn turned to look at the blonde Corellian next to him. "Beryl?"




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Old 11-11-2007, 04:47 PM   #116
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“Berasmus,” Beryl said plainly. “He’s the one in charge of supplying this project. We need to stop him.”

"And how do you intend for us do that Beryl?" Nic asked not enthusiastic about the prospect. "We're a handful of people. They're the Empire. And I'm sure by now our faces are on the Holonet with massive bounties printed on our foreheads."

“Mine’s not,” Beryl said. “For all the Empire knows, you killed Captain Aiken and kidnapped me.”

"If that's true or not, security on an operation like his will be tight and we're not exactly at the top of our game at the moment." Nic argued. "I mean we won't get with in 5 parsecs of the system let alone land on the planet."

"Not on your ship you won’t," Lena muttered, mostly to herself.

Beryl nodded at the security code cylinder that was sitting on the table near Conn. “We’ve got the latest security codes. And we don’t necessarily need to go down in the Echo. Or even this ship for that matter. There are alternatives to get down to Chandrila.

“But when we sabotage this project, that will spur Berasmus to personally investigate the matter and bring him out into the open.”

“And that’s a good thing?” Conn asked incredulously.

Beryl stared at him. “Yes. How else could we entice him out on his own to kill him?”

Conn arched an eyebrow at her. "You're going to kill him?"

"He murdered Ryshana. He deserves to die."

"You killed that Captain,” said Nic. “He had a family. Does that mean you deserve to die?"

Beryl considered for a moment. “I killed him because he was going to call in reinforcements. Besides, it was the lecherous mudcrutch’s own fault for being on that ship in the first place.” She paused. “Of course, there is a larger consideration here, too. If this experiment of the Empire’s is successful, they’ll do it on other planets. Maybe Alderaan would be next. Or even Corellia. By stopping Berasmus now, we can save millions of people.”

"Wait just a moment," Conn said. "We don't even know what he's planning at this point. It's all speculation." He waved a hand at the screen. "This is just all garbled information. You need to be sure of what you're doing before you rush headlong into a huge Imperial operation."

"Thank you," Nic said looking at Conn. "Besides we're Merc's. Let's leave these heroics to the Rebellion, they enjoy dying for unwinnerable causes."

“Fine!” Beryl abruptly rose from her chair, spilling her coffee in the progress. Not only were both of her hands shaking now but she was generally trembling all over. “There’s something odd happening on Chandrila, and I’m going to find out what it is! And if you two don’t want to help me, then I’ll do it my kriffin’ self!”

Conn sighed and bent over to pick up Beryl's dropped mug. "You're not going to Chandrila by yourself, Beryl," he said, his voice calm and level while surreptitiously extending his empathetic abilities towards her. In her state, he wasn't sure how much good it would do, but he had to try something. "I think they're up to something too. I just want to be sure of what it is."

"Ok, Beryl just tell me one thing,” said Nic. “Are you doing this for justice or revenge?"

Beryl glared at him. “Don’t judge me!” she snapped at him.

“I’m not judging you,” Nic said calmly. “I just want to be sure of the reason why you’re so hell bent on doing this.”

“Fine. Then the answer is both. Justice for Ryshana and the people on Chandrila. Revenge for me.” She looked down at her shaking hands, and then at Conn. “I really need that tranq now.”

Conn frowned. Whatever regimen the Imperials had put her through, it had altered her mind enough that she did not seem to take to his abilities as easily as before. "No, I don't think you do, Beryl," he replied, putting a hand on her shoulder and trying to guide her back down to sit. "You need to help me figure out the rest of the stuff on these cylinders so we can have the full story by the time we get to Ruusan." He glanced over at Max. "How much longer do we have?"

Max checked the chrono on her wrist. "Not more than a couple of hours. We're making good time." She carefully avoided commenting on Beryl's outburst or their findings.

"Right, thanks," Conn said, then turned back to Beryl. "We've got plenty of time to go over this data. Besides, you've been pumped so full of drugs these past few months, I hardly think it would be a good idea to give you more. Don't you agree?" He smiled at her, trying to soothe her frazzled nerves.

Beryl’s eyes narrowed. “No.” She could feel an anger welling up inside her—along with the Force. “One more dose couldn’t hurt.” She forced the thought into Conn’s mind, not particularly caring how it felt to him.

Conn blinked. "Yes it co---", he stopped short, realizing that Beryl hadn't said anything out loud. He shook his head to try and clear his thoughts. It was as if Beryl had projected her thoughts into his mind, almost willing him to go along with what she wanted. He studied her cautiously, then sent a suggestion of his own back at her. Is this how far you're going to go, Beryl? You're going to use the Force to get what you want?

Beryl frowned slightly with confusion as Conn’s thoughts hit her. Then she blanched, and hurriedly covered her mouth with a trembling hand, both ashamed and surprised by what she had just done. “Oh, Conn, I’m so sorry,” she whispered. She turned away from him, catching a glare from Nic in the process. “I don’t know why I did that.”

"Never mind about that," Conn said, waving her off. "I'm still pretty hesitant, however, to introduce any more drugs into your system, especially in light of what we've just found out..."

Nic had already gotten up and walked over to one of crates he had transferred from the Imperial shuttle. He took out a bottle of the most potent drink he could find and poured it into a glass. "Maybe this will calm your nerves." He handed the glass to Beryl.

Before Beryl could take the glass, Conn's hand reached in and snatched it swiftly away. "I hardly think that alcohol is a proper way to medicate oneself, Captain White," he said. He took a sniff of the drink, made a face, then handed it off to Max. "Both of you are recovering from serious injuries and I don't think you should stress your systems with the rigors of alcohol just yet." He turned to Beryl. "Go back to your quarters," he told her. "I'll be along in a few minutes with some sedatives."

"It's just one drink Doc, and it looks like she needs something," Nic argued.

Beryl looked at the drink Max was holding, then at Nic, and then at Conn. “Think I’d rather have the drink. Don’t need needles for that.”

Conn blew an exasperated sigh. "You need rest and recuperation, Beryl," he stated. "You don't need to drown your sorrows away with whatever that is. Now go on."

Beryl gave a last look at Nic, then nodded at Conn, and headed out the door. “Yes, sir.”

The doctor sighed again and rubbed his eyes. "This 'sir' thing will be the death of me," he muttered to himself, then faced Nic again, who had poured himself another glass of liquor and was taking a swig from it. He shook his head at Nic. "That stuff'll kill ya," he told the sandy-haired captain.

"I'm not that lucky" Nic replied quietly to himself taking another swig of his drink.

"Dunno what you're talking about, Conn," Max chimed in, slamming the now-empty glass down next to Nic. "That's some good stuff there," she said contentedly, wiping her mouth. She looked to Nic, "Fill 'er up, bartend!"

"By the Force," Conn muttered to himself again as he rolled his eyes and turned back to the console.


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Old 11-11-2007, 07:04 PM   #117
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Beryl walked into the Smuggler's Rest and paused just in the doorway. She looked around. It was pretty much the same place as she remembered--seedy, stuffy, dim and thoroughly beyond any Imperial control. Smugglers, traders, blockade runners... they were the only ones who knew about this place.

"Just like I remember," Beryl said. She breathed a sigh of relief. Turning over her shoulder to Conn, Nic and Max, she said, "C'mon. We can get a private booth in the back."

"Watch your backs everyone!" Nic informed. "Last time I was here I... well let's just say people may remember me."

“Don’t worry, Nic,” Beryl said confidently. “Even if they do remember you, you’re with me now.” She grinned at him, the first time she had smiled since she had left Carida. “I’ll protect you.”

Conn shot a look at Beryl. The sedatives he had recently given her on the Hammerspace were much stronger than the ones he'd previously administered. As a result, she'd slept soundly through the rest of the trip. She seemed better now that she was well-rested. He just hoped that her good cheer would last.

"That's good to hear." Nic replied, returning the smile. "I don't feel safe without a Corellian woman protecting me. Unless the doc has objections, I say we hit the bar."

Conn shook his head for what seemed like the umpteenth time on this trip. "You people and your alcohol," he said. "After looking through the rest of that manifest, I think I need a drink too."

"Good!" Max said, sidling up to the bar. "A round of Whyren's Reserve, please," she called out the bartender.

“Just bring the bottle,” Beryl added, and then winked at Max. “You fly, I’ll buy.”

*****

Their drink order in, the four of them walked through to the back of the establishment and sat down at a secluded booth. Nic and Max sat across from each other on the inside of the bench seat, while Beryl and Conn took the outside. “No sign of Jana, yet,” Beryl commented. She looked at Nic. “I sure hope she got my message.”

"She just likes to make an entrance." Nic informed. "You'll know she's here when the Trandoshans start running away out of fear."

Beryl looked over at Conn and Max. “Jana’s not really as scary as Nic makes her out to be.” She paused, suddenly feeling a bit uncomfortable. “Wow… seems like ages since I’ve seen her.”

The bottle of whiskey arrived, and Beryl poured everyone a shot. She downed hers in one go, and then poured herself another.

"Easy there, Beryl," Conn cautioned after taking his shot. "No need to overdo things."

Beryl nudged Nic. “See, sir? He and Jana will get along just fine.”

"Calm down, Doc. Psycho's spent the last six weeks under the care of Imperials." Nic downed his glass too. "She needs to let her hair down a bit."

Conn glanced at Beryl's shortish crop of hair, then arched an eyebrow at Nic. "I'm all for 'letting her hair down'," he said. "As long as it's in moderation."

"Beryl's right." Nic agreed. "You and Jana will get along."

Beryl grinned. “He’s even got her ‘look’ down pat.” She rested a hand on top of Conn’s. “I’ll try my best to be moderate.” She took a small sip from her shot this time. “So, Max... you had a look at those sec codes. How many of them do you think would work to gain entry into Chandrilan space?”

"If we still need some help getting to Chandrila, I can get into contact with some of the people who owe me," Nic informed. "We may be able to piggy back on a supply freighter or something."

“Worse comes to worse I’ll borrow a freighter from Rayne and we can just park and ride,” Beryl said. “I’m just thinking that we could…well, make a few extra credits by selling the sec codes to some of the pilots around here. If Max thinks they’ll work.” She looked inquiringly at the Lorrdian.

"Lana can make any of those work," Max said. "Kid's got an aptitude for cracking Imperial scrambling algorithms." She poured herself another drink. "She could make you guys out to be royalty if she wanted."

"We also have to think about how to get off the planet once we're done," Conn stated. "That last escape plan wasn't so great."

"Best way to escape is to have your would be pursuers looking in the wrong direction." Nic stated. “We'll need to create a distraction, or have someone else do that for us."

Reminded about the prison escape by Conn’s comment, Beryl downed the rest of her drink, and poured herself another one, purposefully not looking at him as she did so. “But I suppose the escape plan will depend on what kind of facility they’ve set up. With all that tunnelling equipment they’ve got, I’m betting it’s something underground. And if they’re planning on releasing something into the water supply, it’s got to be in or near an urban area. So, escape is just a matter of getting out of the facility and back to the surface. Once topside, there should be plenty of opportunities for distractions. Public transport, marketplaces, cantinas….”

"It would be easier if we had help from the inside," Conn said, swirling the whiskey around in his glass. "I used to work on Chandrila, for the medical sciences division," he stated quietly.

“Oh?” Beryl looked at him. “Do you know anyone that still works there?”

"Maybe," he said. "It's been nearly 15 years since I was last on Chandrila. I don't know if anyone there will remember me." He looked each of his companions, settling gaze on Beryl last. "But if it'll help us keep out of trouble just a little bit, I'll give it a shot."

“Couldn’t hurt,” Beryl agreed. “And if that fails, I‘ve got a few contacts of my own.” She looked askance at Nic. “From my pre-Echo days.” Her eyes settled on Conn once again. “Those were good days.” She put her hand back on top of Conn's and squeezed.

"They were," Conn agreed, feeling the warmth of her hand travel through his. She was definitely more affectionate when she was medicated. Normalizing her circulatory system is gonna be a bear, he thought to himself.

“What?” Beryl tilted her head to one side. She was getting a strange feeling from Conn through the Force. “Something wrong?”

"No, everything's fine," he replied, taking another swig and letting the whiskey burn down his throat. He set his glass back down on the table and locked eyes with Beryl again. "It's just good to have you back, B."




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Old 11-13-2007, 03:00 PM   #118
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Jack, who had fallen into a light sleep in his cockpit, was jolted awake by the Echo jumping out of hyperspace and into the orbit of Ruusan. Jack thought about using the intercom to inform the crew that they had arrived however Jack decided that the jolt was a clear sign and telling everyone would be pointless.

Taking ahold of the controls, Jack controlled the Echo to descend towards the planets surface. Jack had never been to Ruusan before. This was mainly because he never had any reason to. The planets most intreeging aspect was the rumored lost ancient Jedi temples which was no interest to Jack.

(sorry for it seeming to be imcomplete however I've gotta rush. I may edit later)


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Old 11-13-2007, 03:11 PM   #119
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Nic couldn’t watch as Beryl and Conn showed their affections too each other, although they were subtle and not meaning to cause harm he found it hard to look at. It was a price of the sacrifice he had made to let Beryl go, to give her a chance and be happy with Conn.

Nic stood up as the two Corellians locked eye and walked away from the table over to the bar, he quickly ordered the strongest drink in the house not much caring what it actually was.
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Old 11-13-2007, 07:29 PM   #120
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As soon as the Echo left hyperspace, Jana entered the cockpit. She looked out at Ruusan in silence for a moment. Then, she shifted into the co-pilot's seat and glanced over at Jack.

"Ready to get Beryl an..." she began, but she realized that Jack and everyone else on the crew were unaware of Nic's survival. She finished, "...nnd get back to a more normal routine?"

Noticing Jack's odd look shot in her direction, Jana decided the crew had to know. "Jack, I've uncovered something recently... something the whole crew should know. Nic didn't die two months ago. He's still alive. And now, he's with Beryl. We'll be picking him up too."

She smiled faintly. "Definitely more back to normal, eh?" she concluded softly.


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