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Old 10-18-2008, 12:06 AM   #1
machievelli
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Family of Choice

Family of Choice

Aliit ori'shya taldin - Family is more than blood.

Merisa sighed, kneeling upright from the weeding. The grain fields were a bronze sheet waving gently in the wind. Her old bones creaked at the labor, but she had learned not to complain when she was young. Pain meant you were still alive.

The children, ba-ad most of them, worked diligently. When Ba-buir was working hard, they wanted to prove worthy. She loved them all, those of her own blood no more or less than those by adoption. She bent back to work.

There was a booming sound, and her head snapped up. A single speck moved up there, sweeping into a turn to spill acceleration. It was a flat oblate shape with square protrusions in the front. A ship, and not one made locally. She stood, brushing off her knees. “Yaim.” She snapped. The children looked up, not frightened, expectant. She motioned toward the house, and the children grabbed their tools before jogging to safety. The ship didn’t mean an attack, but training and old habits die hard.

She reached the door, and her eldest, Kiara, handed her the locally made projectile rifle. The twenty year old held her own weapon, a Verpine blaster rifle. The girl held out the hand held pad that was tied to approach sensors.

The ship had slowed to landing speed, and was coming in. As it did, it fluttered as if the pilot had suddenly been slapped in the head. Merisa relaxed minutely. “A friend, I think.”

The ship flaired out, jets flashing down. Now she knew it was a friend. It was in the fallow field. She didn’t recognize the type, but that didn’t mean anything. The ramp came down, and the first person down caught her interest. She safed the rifle, stepping into the sunlight.

He looked up at he, and a small smile creased his feature. He was an old man, but she loved it when he came home.

Candi’ka. Su cuy'gar.” She whispered. Then her elder brother wrapped her in his arms.

They watched as the others came down the ramp. Two human women with a child, a Cathar a Twi-Lek a Wookiee and two droids. An odd mix for any place. Her brother let her go, waving toward his comrades. “Meri’ka.“ he waved at the people behind him. “Vod.

She nodded. Just as it had been so long ago…
*****

50 years earlier…

Merisa Saiadi stood at the counter, patiently cutting vegetables. A perfectly domestic scene marred only because she stood on a bucket. Her red hair was tied back in a fall with the hair held at 100 millimeter segments by ties. Her mother said the hair was her best feature, long and as straight as a die. Behind her her parents were arguing… Again.

At nine, she was a quiet child, used to listening to her parents discuss things rather than making noise herself. She didn’t think much of ‘politics’ which seemed to be most of the discussion material. But she loved the way her father would get fiery eyed, speaking as if his audience wasn’t one woman who tried to calm him down, and a child who looked up to him with unreserved love.

“I mean it, the weapons control bill they passed last month was the last straw.” He snarled. “With all of the nerf disarmed, what stops them from just shooting us when we complain?”

“Did you post to the net again Fro?” Her mother asked.

“Of course I did Tirith.” He snorted. “The day they can pass a law like that without me complaining is the day after I’m dead.”

Merisa looked out of the window, seeing a group of strangely maneuvering craft come over the edge of their farm land. “Father. Someone’s coming.”

He stood, sipping from his cup as he looked out. Then he tensed. Tir, Merisa get in the living room.”

“Father?” Merisa asked.

“Now.”

It was going to happen someday, both of her parents were sure of it. When Fro had ignored warning after warning, the Government would have to do something. Today was the day. The ships separated and landed out of range as men doubled out to deploy.

The family moved to the living room. Her brother Casi was coming down the stairs looking terrified. “Poppa, it’s the Government!”

“I know, son.” Fro bent down. Pulling aside the carpet, he lay his hand flat on a section just like the rest of the hardwood floor. There was a snap, and a section half a meter square popped up. “Casi, lead the way.” He handed the boy a submachine gun already loaded. “Down into the tunnel.”

The fifteen year old nodded. He ran to the basement door, opening it. His father handed his wife a rifle, then looked at his youngest. He took out the 8.5mm training pistol, “ Merisa stay between your mother and Casi. You know what to do if anyone tries to hurt you.”

“Fro Becket, you are under arrest for sedition against proper authority.” A loud-hailer outside roared. “Come out with you hand empty or we’ll come in.”

Casi caught the switch for the escape tunnel, pulling with all of his might. The panel began to shift and he saw something, turning to grab the trip lever. A blaster bolt caught him, chest exploding as he pulled it down, the explosives first turning the attackers into puree, then burying them as it collapsed.

“Casi!” Tirith screamed, running down the steps. She caught his body up, holding his corpse as she cried.

“Obviously we know about the tunnel, Becket.” The voice commented unnecessarily. “The door is the only way out. Straight up or on a slab, your choice.”

“Tirith.” Fro had to call her several times. “Go in the kitchen, Tirith. Put the gun down, don’t resist them. You’ll be safe.”

“Fro-”

“No, Tirith.” He gave her a sad smile. “Even if I were unarmed and stark naked they’d find some way to have me shot while escaping. You and Merisa will be safe if I’m dead.”

Tirith set the rifle down, walking into the kitchen. Merisa looked at her father. The world would end he wasn’t in it any more. She looked at him, and her hands one cupping the butt as she had been taught held the weapon up over her shoulder.

He smiled, she could see his heart breaking. He knelt, laying a rough hand on her head. “Mer-love go with your-”

Her hands came down, and the gun barked. On the edge of the porch a figure staggered, then moved back.

“Earn your pay.” The voice outside snarled. Suddenly a dozen weapons fired, raking the house at just above waist level, yet her mind recorded that the lanes of fire were wide of her and her parents. It was meant to pin them down rather than kill. Merisa ducked as the house shook. The fire was impressive but curiously gentle. Anyone who tried to return fire would be cut in half.

Then the door exploded in, as did the windows. People in armor came through the openings. Her father spun, his shoulder knocking her down, and his rifle barked once.

Three weapons came up, and what was left of him didn’t look remotely human as it collapsed to the floor.

One of the killers walked over, shoving what remained of the rifle away from the skeletal hand, then bent to grab Merisa.

She was dead, she knew that, but she didn’t let it bother her. Like the shooting range she lowered her gun, the sights clear in her eyes, and as they lined up she squeezed the trigger, firing four shots.

The armor was proof against such insignificant weaponry, but the visor did offer less defense, and the third bullet punched through it. The man paused as if he were surprised, then fell backward away from her.

Heartened, she spun on her butt, aiming at another as a hand caught her arms. A grip hard enough to hurt squeezed until she let go of the weapon. The hand pulled her to her feet, and the person in a light blue armor looked at her for a long moment before releasing her. A hand came up, one finger raised, and moved it like a metronome.

Without a sound the one she had killed was checked. One of them pulled the helmet free, revealing a middle aged face covered in blood. The one that had taken the helmet off shook it’s head, then in a manner she was sure was amused, presented her with it. Numbly she took it, holding it like a beloved doll.

A man stalked in, his long coat flapping. Three more dressed the same way followed. “Report, renters.” He snarled.

“One neutralized here, one below. The woman is in the kitchen. She has a rifle but it is on the table a meter from her.”

The snarly local man motioned with his head, and two of his men stalked on.

Suddenly her mother screamed, a long tearing sound as if her soul was being ripped from her body. Merisa tried to leap toward the scream, but a hand held her pinned. The figure, a slim person in a green armor held her as immobile as a bug in amber. The men came back, one of them wiping a blade.

“Well she was armed after all.” The local said. Then his eye caught Merisa. She expected to die, and her head came up as she glared defiantly at him.

“Well I see there’s one left.”

“And what does that mean?” The figure in green asked. Merisa was surprised to hear a woman’s voice.

The local looked at her. “Surely you people can’t be that naïve.” He said, voice oozing with sarcasm. “Rebellion must be rooted out down to the last seed. Every scrap of it must be excised like a rotted limb.”

“You’re mixing your metaphors badly.” The warrior woman replied. She pointed, and the one kneeling by the body lifted the head, removing a necklace with a curious crystal on it. The chain passed from hand to hand, and the warrior woman took it, spinning Marisa around to face her. The gloved hands gently separated the chain, blood still on it, and settled it around Merisa’s neck.

Then she was turned to face the local man again. This time the hand came down almost like a sister holding a younger sibling. ‘Sa'ad. You got a problem with that?.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-18-2008, 12:25 AM   #2
Litofsky
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Very interesting, Mach. For some reason, I thought that the planet these events took place on was Dantooine (it popped into my mind, for some reason). I have a feeling I'm incorrect, but I just wanted to put that out there.

I very much so enjoyed how you described a government taking more and more power for (themselves?), and how one family would perish in their attempt to resist. I found it interesting, as well, that one of the women mentioned rebellion as though it were a common problem, instead of an isolated event (the latter being my expectation).

Finally, I thought it was more so interesting that the word "Government" was capitalized, as opposed to "government." This suggests that the Government is more an omnipotent force on this planet/system, as opposed to a elected government.

I enjoyed the descriptions, and the family seemed very Jefferson-esque to me (if I recall correctly, Jefferson advocated an agrarian society for its values, and rebellion if the government grew too oppressive).

Again, a very nice start to the fic.
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Old 10-18-2008, 12:39 AM   #3
Endorenna
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Very enjoyable read, Mach. Can't wait for the next chapter!


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-18-2008, 03:58 PM   #4
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Good job Mach!

Yeah, it feels like the setting is on Dantooine as well. Regardless, it was a very good chapter and I look forward to the next chapter.

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Old 10-18-2008, 07:59 PM   #5
Tysyacha
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This story makes me think about the families we have, and in some respects, the families we choose to have through forming deep relationships with them. I especially liked this because unlike most Mandalorian stories I've read, this one wasn't exclusively about war or bounty hunting. It shows that even the galaxy's most bloodthirsty humanoid killers know when someone is oppressing them, and when to fight back. Merisa sounds like my kind of gal, and I hope you write more to this tale!
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:46 PM   #6
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This story is great, I hope you decide to add more. I really enjoy how you made the Mandalorians into human characters that we can relate to and not just, as Tysyacha put it, bloodthirsty humanoid killers. That, and many other values in this story, make it an excellent read.


you very much
If a tree would fall in the woods.....would the other trees laugh at it?
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:00 AM   #7
machievelli
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Originally Posted by CommanderQ View Post
This story is great, I hope you decide to add more. I really enjoy how you made the Mandalorians into human characters that we can relate to and not just, as Tysyacha put it, bloodthirsty humanoid killers. That, and many other values in this story, make it an excellent read.
If you read my commentary in the Resource center, you will notice (As any who have read my other work would recognize) that I am irritated by the 'warrior= homicidal maniac' attitude. As Karen Traviss commented in her work, to the Mandalorians, there is no word for hero. A Mando'a is supposed to consider his society and people more important than he is. So dying for them is expected. That is why they have a word for coward, but not one for hero.

You cannot properly judge a society unless you understand their rules; something Americans fail at consistently


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:10 AM   #8
Endorenna
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Quite true. That's something that irritates me, as well.

Any idea when the next chapter will be ready?


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:51 PM   #9
JediMaster12
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As always it is a pleasure to read your work mach.

I quite agree with you on the annoyance of the warrior=homicidal maniac stereotype. Even I didn't agree with the alignment of Canderous in the game. Still your ability to put into perspective the human side of things is very well crafted in this piece and I enjoyed it. Looking forward to more.

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Old 10-21-2008, 12:04 AM   #10
machievelli
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Quite true. That's something that irritates me, as well.

Any idea when the next chapter will be ready?
My favorite comment on how stupid American Politicians can be is the comment made in 1948 by the American Ambassador to the United Nations when he called upon the Arabs and Israelis to stop fighting like 'good Christians'. And no, I am not kidding.

The next chapter will be by the weekend, that is my week end, thurs or friday


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:33 AM   #11
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You cannot properly judge a society unless you understand their rules; something Americans fail at consistently
Some people are quite ethnocentric.

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Old 10-22-2008, 01:45 AM   #12
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Today

The children came out to look at the odd group. The older man motioned as two men, one younger, the other older even than him joined them. “Carth Onasi, Republic Navy Commander. Zaalbar, Mission Vao. Jetiise Jolee, Juhani, Sasha Ot Sulem Shiralin Bastila Shan Che Revan Chandar Bai Echani and her mothers Bastila-Shan Desurita, Revan Chandar Bai Echani, and Revan Chandar Bai Echani Desurita, Che Bastila-Shan, Mand’alor.”

Merisa looked up at the bane of the Mando’a. She looked, damn it, she was young and cute! She nodded. “Welcome to our home. Kiara, cold platters.”

“No need.” Her brother held out a hand. “We can wait until supper. We’ll find something to do.”

“Always something to do.” Merisa said with a wry grin. She looked at the women. “Who is good at cooking?”

The men laughed. “Zaalbar is pretty good. I wouldn’t trust the women to boil water.” Her brother said between chuckles.

“Hey!’ Mission squealed. “I can boil water!”

“And I can cut vegetables.” Sasha put in.

Merisa smiled gently at the small child. So like she had been so many years before. “That I can use.” She said dryly. She looked at the huge Wookiee. “Vegetables or meat big guy?”

“I eat meat.” Zaalbar growled. “The little one can cut everything else.”

Merisa looked away, feeling another smile threatening. “Even water if boiled properly.”

Everyone laughed as Mission squealed in protest again.

It had been a long time since the house had been this full. The human men Carth and Jolee were up on the roof, and she could hear the screech of old shingles being ripped out and replaced as the new were hammered down. The small astromech was working on the communications system with the hulking droid that pretended to be a protocol droid. The women had led the children back out, and were weeding the grain field as if they’d done it all their lives.

Jetiise. She shook her head in amusement as she dumped yet another board of chopped meat into the stew. Jetiise fixing the roof, weeding the fields chopping the farrow root beside her. Some things are inconceivable.

The little girl tapped her arm, vegetables ready. She looked up, looking maybe for approval…love.

*****

Fifty years earlier

“What?” The Government man stared at the Mando’a woman. “She’s part of this and she dies.”

The woman beside her looked down. “Girl, Kikacyi’tayl gar sa’ad.” Then she looked at the man, her contempt clear. “She is Mando’a now. Touch my daughter and you die.” She bent, picking up the pistol. She held it out to Merisa. “Hold this for me sa’ad.”

Numbly Merisa took the weapon. Then she looked at the fuming Government man. She felt a smile tug at her lips.

“I said-”
Oya, Manda!” The woman growled. The other warriors lowered their weapons. The Government man froze, facing a pack of professional predators, not a jackal like himself. “Under the revised contract, we can claim children for adoption. Want to rewrite that contract in blood?”

“I have fifty men outside-”

“Who needed half a dozen of us to do the job, D’Kut.” The woman interrupted. “Fifty or five hundred, we’ll go through them like a dose of salts. I repeat, government man. Do you want to rewrite the contract in blood? Starting with yours?”

The man looked from helmet to helmet, maybe judging the odds. Merisa could swear she could see fear in that face. Then he looked at the girl and she saw a look of such loathing, she wondered what she might have done to deserve it.

“She is not important. Take the whelp.”

The woman pushed her gently toward the door. Even in her shock and fear she noticed the other armored people were surrounding her. Outside another man in armor was casually scanning the armed troops beyond. He carried a large blaster that looked more like a huge tube than anything else. The weapons was an obvious threat for their erstwhile allies. The helmet turned slightly, and he said “Ori'jate.” He slapped the side of his armor, where there was a streak on the armor. Merisa realized that this must be the one she had shot outside, yet he was praising her from the sound!

The warriors walked to one of the aircraft. Some had brought the body of the man she had killed, and the people gathered around to gently remove his armor. Some of them attached sections to replace sections of their own. But no one came to take the helmet from her.

Suddenly she smelled the helmet, the stench of blood, and something she recognized from cooking. She shuddered, then turned, vomiting on the floor. The woman caught her hair, holding it from the stream as the girl puked until only yellow bile came up.

She didn’t understand the words, but the tone told her the woman was working to calm her, and that action more than anything else finally eased her stomach. The woman seated her, and handed her a small tablet. “Chew it.” She ordered gently.

Merisa obeyed, and her stomach settled. Oddly enough no one had laughed or commented on what had just happened. In fact except for the woman they ignored her.

The man with the huge blaster came aboard, lifting the weapon so it was not aimed at anything. He took off his helmet, grinning. “Good shot, ad’ika.” He touched the streak where the bullet had skated across his armor. “If you’re aim had been better you would have hurt me.”

The woman held out the empty helmet, and the man looked at it. “Distance?”

“Less than a meter.” The woman said. “Four shots.”

The man nodded. “Good kill, little sister.”

“But I killed him!” Merisa almost wailed.

“Had to happen sooner or later in this business.” The man handed her the helmet back. “A worthy death by a worthy hand.”

“Sit down Berek.” The woman ordered.

They seated themselves, resting weapons between their legs as the hatch closed. Merisa felt it shove upward, staring around her. As the craft leveled out, the warriors began removing their helmets. None of them looked odd, they were all human. The one in the green armor was in her later 20s with a calm look that reminded her of her mother. She had a sharply planed face with blue eyes, her hair was blonde braided in a complicated knot.

“What happened?” Merisa asked. “Why did they let you take me?”

The woman looked at her for a long moment. “This Government is trying to create a perfect world. Your family doesn’t fit in to that. So they had to remove you.” She rubbed the rifle between her thighs as if it were a beloved pet. “When we found out what they were doing we renegotiated our contract to allow us to adopt the children who lived.”

“Adopt.” Merisa had seen footage of the ’orphanages’ the Government ran. Quiet little schools with all of the personality of a prison. “So I go to one of the Government schools.”

The woman smiled, the simple gesture transforming her face. “No. If you went there, you would have an accident. No. When we adopt the children go with us.”

“With you.”

“Yes, back to Mandalor’yaim.” The woman watched her face. “You can stay here if you want. But we will protect you until you are old enough to decide.”

“Decide what?” The girl bit out, miserable.

“Everything else in your life.”

*****

The trip wasn’t long in the sub-orbital shuttle. Soon they came in, and landed. The hatch opened, and the warriors walked down the ramp. The area had been fenced off, and tents had been set in military exact lines running from the landing area to the fence half a kilometer away. The woman kept a hand on the girl’s shoulder, directing her to a tent by itself.

Inside a young boy was cleaning his weapon with an intent expression. He looked up as the woman set the weapon down. “Candi’ka, sa’ad, vod.” She said. The boy looked at the girl, then set down the fine brush he had been using to clean the focusing ring. He stood, walking over.

Merisa realized the boy was perhaps two years older than she was, but already bulging with muscle. He knelt, taking her hand gently. “Vod.” He said, touching her hand to his cheek. “I am Canderous. I am your older brother.”

“What is your name, child?” The woman asked.

If Merisa saw anything odd about being adopted by a woman that had not even bothered to learn her name she wasn’t sure she should say anything. “Merisa Duvah.”

“Meet your brother, Merisa Duvah, clan Ordo. This is Canderous.”

Merisa looked at the boy. There was no derision in his expression. No sign of any duplicity. He accepted his mother’s words as fact.

The girl turned. “May I ask your name?” She said to the woman.

“Kiara Santal Clan Ordo.” The woman replied.

The girl ducked her head. “I will be a dutiful daughter, Kiara Santal.”

The woman smiled again, then knelt. “Welcome.” She hugged the girl, and the boy enfolded her from behind. Merisa felt tears start from her eyes at the unreserved love she felt.

*****

Kiara led her to another tent, the girl still carrying the helmet. A man in armor except for helmet was working on a weapon, alternately cursing and tinkering. “What is it?” He snarled.

“We need a repair.” Kiara told him. The man reached out without looking, only paying attention when he saw the helmet. Merisa didn’t understand how he could tell it from another but the man froze.

“Castar! Who killed him?” Kiara motioned to the silent girl beside her. The man looked at her. The man looked at her for a long time. “There’s always that one.” He looked up. “For her?” Kiara nodded. “Two days. Anything else?”

Kiara took the pistol Merisa still carried because she has not been told to put it down. The man took it. “Fine work even if was locally made. What do you need?”

“Holster and belt.”

The man snorted. “It’ll be ready in a few hours. I’ll have a boy deliver it. Anything else?” Kiara shook her head. “Then go away, I’m busy.”

They went back to the tent. Kiara stripped out of her armor, and came back in a loose shift. “Come little one. Dinner is what we make now.”

Merisa found it almost surrealistic. The woman led her to a small cooking area, and set her to of all things, slicing vegetables. They worked in companionable silence, almost as if they had done this for years as the woman measured spices into the pot, then added the meat she had cut.

“What is this?” Merisa asked.

“Merdai.” The woman answered. “It is a dish made to show our strength, and our ability to live where others would refuse to live. It is what we can catch, and what we can find.”

Merisa finished the slicing. “Is this good?”

“Perfect. The woman took the cutting board, sliding the vegetables into the boiling water. “Merdai is like the Mando’a. What we make of it.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:40 PM   #13
Tysyacha
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The last line of this story is absolutely brilliant, like a diamond that is perfectly fit for a ring. Some folks take the Mandalorians to be evil, but like you and Karen Traviss (and I) believe, Mandalorians are what you make of them. By the way, are Revan and the crew of the Ebon Hawk coming to visit Merisa before or after the events of KOTOR 1?
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:36 PM   #14
Litofsky
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Very nice new chapter, Mach. The only mistake that I found was the lack of an ending quotation mark after 'perfect.' I found it a bit odd that Merisa would feel no grief about her family, but besides that the chapter was very well done.

I also enjoy your descriptions of the Mandalorian culture, and, as stated, how they aren't mindless killers.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:44 AM   #15
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Very nice new chapter, Mach. The only mistake that I found was the lack of an ending quotation mark after 'perfect.' I found it a bit odd that Merisa would feel no grief about her family, but besides that the chapter was very well done.

I also enjoy your descriptions of the Mandalorian culture, and, as stated, how they aren't mindless killers.
Thanks for the comments and especially for the critique. Grief will be there, in fact I am going to wax lyrical on exactly what the idjits in the local government are doing and why, including more back story on Merisa'a family.

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Originally Posted by Tysyacha View Post
The last line of this story is absolutely brilliant, like a diamond that is perfectly fit for a ring. Some folks take the Mandalorians to be evil, but like you and Karen Traviss (and I) believe, Mandalorians are what you make of them. By the way, are Revan and the crew of the Ebon Hawk coming to visit Merisa before or after the events of KOTOR 1?
Patience. That will be explained in the next section.

One thing, Merdai as described is eaten here on Earth. A Whatever to the one who figures out by whom


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 10-23-2008 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:19 AM   #16
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Excellent work as always! I like Kiara already You really portray the honour of the Mando'a marvelously. I can't wait for the Beckets' backstory, and seeing Merisa and Canderous in their younger years.



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 10-23-2008, 11:53 AM   #17
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Excellent work as always! I like Kiara already You really portray the honour of the Mando'a marvelously. I can't wait for the Beckets' backstory, and seeing Merisa and Canderous in their younger years.
I notice no one spotted the biggest editorial blunder I made in this work.

I gave Merisa four last names including the one mentioned above. So I edited the sections so that last name is Becket. Of course if you liked one specific, I can change that...

Oh, BTW,Bee, want me to critique it now?


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 10-23-2008 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:17 PM   #18
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Thanks for the comments and especially for the critique. Grief will be there, in fact I am going to wax lyrical on exactly what the idjits in the local government are doing and why, including more back story on Merisa'a family.
No problem- comments help the writer keep up with what the fans want/like, and what needs fixing. So, you'll be explaining why the planet's government is trying to create a "perfect world?"
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Old 10-23-2008, 11:12 PM   #19
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No problem- comments help the writer keep up with what the fans want/like, and what needs fixing. So, you'll be explaining why the planet's government is trying to create a "perfect world?"
Not only why but how their 'perfect world' is to be created.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-23-2008, 11:25 PM   #20
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Not only why but how their 'perfect world' is to be created.
How? That brings to mind creating the planet physically and creating the planet in a figurative sense (i.e., the 'ideal citizen' and 'moral values'). You've piked my interest, mach! Keep up the good work.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:53 AM   #21
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Today

Mission proved proficient at more than boiling water. Merisa had her kneading ground cahval bread dough, rolling it flat, then piling it back to repeat over and over. The girl kept up a constant chatter as she did. Used to children, Merisa tuned her out. Sasha was Mando’a to the core. Silent attentive watching her hands as she mixed the meat and vegetables, scraping in several cups of cracked grain as she stirred. “Now the spices.”

Zaalbar looked nervous as Merisa brought over several spices. “Merdai?” He asked with a worried whine in his voice.

“Merdai!” Sasha clapped. “Merdai!”

“No little one.” Merisa sprinkled the spices delicately into the boiling water. “Merdai is for the Mando’a, and those who would embrace our life.” She smiled. “Just nerf and barve mixed in a stew, big guy.”

“Thank the gods.” Mission said. “That stuff is gross!”

Merdai is what we make of it.” Sasha and Merisa said almost in unison.

The older woman grinned, tousling the younger one’s hair. “Don’t worry, little one we have all the spices we need to make it proper.”

The girl pulled out a bottle of seasoning. Merisa looked at it, snorting. It was Pipalli. She drew down a small grinder, spinning it to deposit a spot of spice on her hand. The girl looked at her, then leaned forward sniffing. Her eyes gleamed. “Fresh?”

“Home grown here. I will give some of this to you.”

“Good.” The girl purred.

The kitchen filled with heavenly smells of cooking. Mission rolled the bread out one last time, then began putting squares of dough into pans that Sasha and Merisa slid into the oven. The two men, Carth and Jolee came down, wiping their faces as they accepted glasses of cool water with fruit juice in it. Then they went out to join the others in the fields.

Merisa opened the oven. Almost ready. She turned. “Mission, please, tell the others dinner is almost ready. Have the children clean up, and make sure they wash their hands.”

“Why do I have to do it?”

“Mission.” Zaalbar growled.

“All right, I’m going.”

“Zaalbar.” Merisa said when the girl was gone. “Some privacy.” The Wookiee left without a word.

Sa’ad.” She knelt, looking the girl in the eyes. “Is this your choice? Will you stay?”

Sasha looked at her. “My mothers accept me. My family is dead. Canderous treats me as his granddaughter. I am content.”

“But are you happy?”

The girl cocked her head. “Elder sister, I did not choose to be Mando’a. I was taken as a slave.” Merisa’s hands tightened, her face angry. “The ones that did it died at the hands of Carth Canderous and Amma Mata. They deserved that death. But…” The girl looked away, then back, eyes bright. “My family is dead. My new family is the crew of the ship, the ones who saved me, who taught me, who love me. I have a family, and I am happy to have those who love me.”

Merisa sighed, then hugged her. “Ni kyr'tayl gai sa'ad. Welcome."

The girl hugged her back. "Gai bal manda." She leaned away. “Amma Mata gave me a new life. When we were on the Star Forge, I returned the favor.”

“You must tell that story tonight.” There were a flurry of voices, and Merisa lifted the larger of the two pots. “Bring the bowls.”

*****

Fifty years earlier

After dinner Merisa wanted to wander the camp, but Kiara would not let her leave until the boy another the age of Canderous; delivered the pistol and belt. The woman fussed, securing the weapon’s holster. There was a tie at the bottom and she slid it about Merisa‘s thigh, pinning down the whole. “See if it will draw smoothly, girl.”

Merisa drew, feeling it slide from the holster as if oiled. There was a snap that would hold it in place, and she clipped it.

“Go and wander, see the camp, but listen. Within the fence is our place, the Government is outside. Be wary and stay back from the fence.”

The girl nodded. She stepped outside, looking at the stars. It was shocking how little had changed. Her life had been destroyed, her family dead, herself adopted by these strange people, yet the stars looked the same, the night as beautiful as it had been yesterday.

She wandered, deep in thought. What could she do?

Suddenly it hit her like a blaster bolt.

Mother; she pictured her mother holding her brother, crying; pictured her sitting quietly as the men from the government walked in, then butchered her like an animal; no with less dignity than an animal would have received. Her father struck by blaster bolts as he had turned to protect his daughter from harm. One of them had been a heavy blaster that was usually used for vehicles or fighters, not for humans. Her brother, dying to seal the one way in her father had not anticipated fully.

She was alone. Her family extinct.

She found herself on her knees, wailing her pain at the stars. She was all that remained of her family. There was nothing left!

The voice called her. She stopped crying, listening to the voice, speaking in her milk tongue, the language her mother and father had used, the one that reached her soul.

Come to me. The voice said. Come, hear the truth.

She found herself on her feet, stumbling toward the fence. The voice called to her.

She stopped, falling to her knees. The fence was a joke; a five year old with no training could pass by it. She knelt, looking toward it. There was someone out there, someone she knew must be a friend.

“Merisa.” The man stood there outside, wearing that hated uniform. He came closer, smiling at her. “They aren’t your people, Merisa. They do not speak your language. They are not from home. I am home, little one, and I would never lie to you.” He knelt outside the fence. “Do you realize what kind of monsters they are yet?” The voice asked.

“Monsters?” She wondered aloud. Kiara was like her mother in a number of ways. Canderous not unlike her dead brother.

“They claim to be human, but what are they really?” The voice asked soothingly. “The Mandalorians are not human, dear girl. They are creatures that only mimic human form. They are monsters that have no human feelings.”

“No feelings.” Merisa shook her head, remembering Kiara, remembering Canderous holding her hand against his face. They had shown her caring, how could they do that? “But they adopted me.”

“Adopt is what they call it.” The insidious voice continued. “But they are not human, are they? To them humans have only three uses. As slaves, as breeders for more of their kind, and for food. Why else would they refuse to buy from us?”

Merisa wanted to scream, but her throat was tight. “They gave me food-”

“Of course they did. The food they eat is not for humans, little one. If you will not be a slave or a breeder they have only one use. As food.”

She suddenly considered what Kiara had said. It is a dish made to show our strength, and our ability to live where others would refuse to live. It is what we can catch, and what we can find. She wanted to scream. Was that what Merdai Stew was?

She heard a click, then a soft voice. “Copeaani gan burciya?” She looked up, seeing the armor.

“They killed your father!“ The man outside the fence said.

“They killed my father! You butchered my mother!” She screamed, turning, the gun leaping to her hand. The man on the other side of the fence looked shocked. She looked into that face, her finger squeezing…

A hand caught the pistol, lifting it as it fired. The Government man was gone, only the Mandalorian remained. He looked at her as if she were an unexploded bomb. “Are you with us, little sister?” He asked.

She ran back to the tent, hiding herself in the space where her bed was. Kiara and Canderous left her alone.

She had dreamed; slicing vegetables as her parents died. Standing there, her eyes bugged in horror as the men had come in and began slicing her mother up, tossing the bloody gobbets into the stew that Kiara was even now stirring. Then the woman lifted the spoon, and teeth that didn’t belong in a human face shredded the meat on it, then chewed thoughtfully as she found a bowl filling it. Canderous took the bowl, her mother’s hand draped over the edge as if trying to pull herself free. The boy scooped some of the stew in a spoon holding it out.

“You must be hungry.”

She screamed, sitting up, staring at the tent beyond her as the vision went on, Canderous’s eyes slitted like a feline as he lifted the hand to his mouth…

There was a quiet step and she spun, hand clawing for the gun she still had. A hand caught hers, then she was enfolded in soft arms, a gentle voice speaking in a language she didn’t understand. She wanted to struggle, tried to struggle, but the gentle whispering continued.

“It is all right, love.” The woman whispered. “Grieve for them.”

Merisa opened her eyes, staring at the tent side just a meter from her nose. She had eaten her fill of the stew she and Kiara had made, spicy and alien in taste and texture. There had been some quiet talk. From what she could see they were treating her as if she would suddenly begin screaming.

Now she knew why. Then she had walked the night, garnering more questions than answers.

She wept in silence. Her father, her mother, her brother. Dead. But why?

“Why.” She whispered. “Why did we have to die?”

“Do you want a simple answer or the truth?”

Merisa leaned back, looking at the woman in the darkness. “There is truth?”

“As they see it.” Kiara replied. “There is one better able to explain it than I; but his team is on an operation right now. He will return tomorrow. Will you trust me for that long?”

Merisa wiped her eyes. “You saved my life. I will trust you as long as you give me no reason to feel betrayed.”

The woman smiled. “Gai bal manda.” The hand set the gun back down. “It is there, love. If you really wish to shoot us, you may try.”

*****

The next morning Canderous was gone. When Merisa asked, Kiara replied sol'yc aka, first battle. “We learn to defend ourselves, then we learn to fight.” Kiara explained as they sipped tea, nibbling on breakfast cakes. “Before a child can go to their last training before they can become warriors, they must prove their kar'ta Mando’a. Their heart of our people. This happens when they are eleven or twelve years old. So my son goes on his first battle to find his warrior heart. If he finds he has none, he can go home in honor, for those who grow our food, who tend our flocks are just as worthy as those who go out to fight and die. After all, they are the ones who will fight and die protecting our own children.”

“But…” Merisa looked at the tent, seeing the little touches that spoke of the boy she knew would die for her. “What if he… What if he dies?”

“Death is nature’s way of telling you that you have lived the wrong life.“ Kiara said.

They spent that day exercising. Though she was almost three and a half times the girl’s age, the woman was supple and strong. She began to teach the girl how to stand, how to breathe. She knew that it was so she could learn to fight, but Merisa was surprised to learn it was more about control and discipline than mayhem.

“Find your center, be at peace in your heart.” Kiara said, moving the girl to a more steady stance. “If you have fear, use it. It releases adrenaline. That makes you move faster, think faster. You must learn to move efficiently, to think with clarity. First we train your mind, then your muscles, then we train your skills. When you have learned to defend yourself, you can then learn to protect others.”

Together, old and young moved slowly through the motions of hand to hand combat.

After lunch they sat. “You have had time to think.” Kiara said. “Now do you have other questions?”

“What is to become of me?”

Kiara poured tea, putting out some biscuits. Merisa waited a polite interval before grabbing one. Children were like youngling barve when it came to eating sometimes. She leaned forward. Long ago, her own adoptive mother had told her some of this. “There are no orphans among our people. Children are the treasure of our future and we raise them as our own. We adopt children of other places who are brave, but you are special. You are a child. Yet you tried to kill Berek, did kill Castar. Did this knowing that we had just killed your father, yet you fought.

“We expect bravery from our own people. But from Autiise we respect it more. You have a warrior heart, a warrior soul. We have a name for girls such as you. Gon-disen akaan. It means ‘to love war‘, and translates for most Autiise as war bride. A girl of any age that shows such spirit is treasured, for only those with a warrior heart can produce children with that same spirit.

“If you were older, we would gift you with honors worthy of your skill and strength, and our men would vie to catch your eye. If you did not wish to become a wife to one of ours, we would assure that you were taken to a place of safety. At your age if there were people here we could trust to protect you we would have left you with them. But the Hu'tuun who govern here would not have come after your family if there was someone who could take you in.

“When they told us what they would do, kill all down to the babes in the cribs, we renegotiated the contract. That is why we adopt those we catch before they can kill them. You are one of the first. Soon there will be more.”

“But you’re…”

“Killers?” Kiara laughed. “It is our skill and when our people need money to buy what we need we sell that skill. But when we kill it is those who try to kill us. We did not kill your mother, because she was unarmed. If it had been only us she would have been taken prisoner.

“Not human.” She whispered.

Kiara looked at her. “I heard of what happened last night.” She grinned. There is a copy of the Galactic encyclopedia you can access. Their own version.” She smiled. “Access it. Look at the entries of the Mandolorians.” The woman pushed the padd across the table.

Merisa took the padd, keying in the entry. The Mandalorians were undoubtedly humans. There was even a recipe for Merdai stew. Of course it started with ‘steal the meat, then steal the vegetables’.

The day wore on, and they continued exercising. Shuttles landed, and men in armor came down the ramps, sometimes leading children, some small enough they were carried in the men’s arms, others older than she was, though these were all boys. Kiara watched as each landed, then returned to her patient training.

Finally she stopped as another came down. The first man off this shuttle was in blue armor like the one who had disarmed her, a weapon casually held in his arms.

“Shoji!” She stood, signaling for the girl to stand. “A moment.”

He paused. “Why are we speaking the language of the Autiise?

“This is Merisa. She is only learning our tongue.”

“Very well. Speak.”

“What do we know of what the Autiise are doing?”

“Many pieces of the puzzle, but no shape as yet.” He looked at the girl, then took off his helmet. “If we’re going to talk politics let’s do it properly.” He walked toward the largest tent. It looked like a cafeteria with a long table on one end. “Geros! Buy’ce gal!

“For the women?” A hulking man in armor without a helmet asked.

Verdyc.” Kiara called. “One soft and one hard.”

The man nodded curtly, bringing a tray. On it was a large handled mug of a foaming black liquid, and two glasses, one filled with a red liquid, the other smaller one with what looked like red syrup. Kiara took the larger of the two glasses, handing it to Merisa, taking the syrup for herself. Shoji took the mug, and began drinking, smoothly lowering the level until it drained into his mouth.

Merisa sipped hers. It was bittersweet, but good. Kiara sipped hers, shuddering, then looked at him. “What do we know.”

“Not enough, and they are acting odd. They have banned all shipments of food from outside. Not raw materials like grain, but anything processed.”

“None?” Kiara looked surprised. “What about the luxury goods?”

“Nothing. No off world drinks, no off world candies, nothing.” He looked at her. “They have also refused to allow our rations to be delivered.”

“What are we to eat then?” Kiara snapped.

“They will supply us with all the food and water we need. Provided it is obtained locally.”

Kiara snorted. “So that is why you ordered the vaporators and told us to go Merdai.”

“Why is that odd?” Merisa asked.

“We travel with our own rations, little one. Think of it this way; your family goes to a park for a picnic. When you arrive, the guards tell you only food bought there is allowed.

“It is a nice warm season, so there is fruit and other wild vegetable to eat, but when you begin to do that, they say ‘eat what we give you’ even if it is something you don’t like. And every minute, they watch you, waiting for that first bite, that first drink. As if just eating will satisfy them. Maybe they are like a lot of people off our world. We’re warriors, so that means we’re stupid.“ He shook his head.

“Something is not right here.” He signaled, nodding as a second tankard arrived. “These people talk like religious zealots. As if their dream of a perfect world is something they can create. Have you noticed all of the girls who come by the gate?” At Kiara’s blank look he sighed. “Girls with wide smiles and full baskets of cakes and cookies. But only for our men.”

Kiara sipped. “And we have been refusing.”

“Only a fool takes what he does not trust.”

“What do the people we were hired to eliminate have in common?”

“Little or nothing. They live away from towns, eat what they grow or animals they tend, feed the animals what they grow or have in storage.” He looked at Merisa. “What did you father do, girl?”

Merisa finished the liquid, licking her lips. “He used to be a teacher at the university. He taught history.”

“No way he links to the others.” Shoji commented. “Economists retired soldiers city planners engineers, now teachers.”

“Out away from the city.” Kiara whispered. “As if the city would become a danger, or is where the danger is. What is not in the country that is in a city?”

“Can’t be air or food.”

“Wait, you said processed foods. How far does the ban extend?”

“Right down to bottled mineral water from Naboo.”

They shook their heads.

Canderous came in, dressed in armor like the others, grinning like a fool. “D’kut.” He sneered. He picked up a glass of the same red wine Merisa had. “I wonder why they bothered to hire us if they are willing to waste their own men.”

Shoji looked at him. “Report.”

Canderous seemed to stiffen. “We deployed to assist in another operation. From the description mother, they were the same unit you operated with yesterday. As we went into land their leader Raeder harangued them. We had to be shown the worth of his men. We would watch the shuttles while they did the ‘real work’.

I was assigned to practice my infiltration.” Canderous smiled, and the adults laughed. “I was supposed to sneak up on them.” He translated for Merisa. “They surrounded the house efficiently, then Raeder called on them to surrender. Then he said something I didn’t understand-”

“Repeat.” Shoji demanded.”

Canderous closed his eyes. “Eta Koos, Koos meh.” He repeated.

“What does that mean?” Kiara demanded.

“The Book of the Way.” Merisa said.

“What?” Shoji watched her like a raptor.

“All of our people were of one religion when we arrived six centuries ago.” Merisa said. “We brought the book of our religion with us, written in the old tongue. It is still used in temple today. You have to learn it for the responses.” She looked around, not sure how to take the sudden attention. “The phrase is not said right, the full liturgy is ‘Eta Koos Dashir Kahil’ and the response is 'Koos sela’ah meh‘. It means You hear my law, said god. The reply is Hear and obey.”

“They didn’t say that at Merisa’s home.” Kiara said. What happened then?”

Raeder ordered them to put down their weapons, and a dozen men walked toward the house. The next minute, three blasters opened up and blew them to hell. The others opened fire, and they tried to breach it. But when they reached the porch, the house blew up.

“Twenty of the local guards dead.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 10-30-2008 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:40 PM   #22
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Six words: Scary, scary, scary! More, more, more!
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:05 PM   #23
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Very interesting, Mach! I caught a few small grammatical errors (I believe that you need multiple commas in a list ), but the largest of which was placing a quotation mark after the ending 'Shoji demanded.'

I'm still a bit confused on the nature of the Mandalorian camp itself (its makeup and why the Mandalorians are even on this 'perfect world' are chief among these). I also enjoyed hearing how the government is seeming to be cracking down on its citizens. The religious fanatics that inhabited the house (or so it seemed) was a nice touch.

All in all, a nice job.

Last edited by Litofsky; 10-28-2008 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:32 AM   #24
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Very interesting, Mach! I caught a few small grammatical errors (I believe that you need multiple commas in a list ), but the largest of which was placing a quotation mark after the ending 'Shoji demanded.'

I'm still a bit confused on the nature of the Mandalorian camp itself (its makeup and why the Mandalorians are even on this 'perfect world' are chief among these). I also enjoyed hearing how the government is seeming to be cracking down on its citizens. The religious fanatics that inhabited the house (or so it seemed) was a nice touch.

All in all, a nice job.

All will be revealed...


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:35 AM   #25
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Ooh, very nice chapter! I like Shoji and Kiara's discussion about what their employers really want, as well as Merisa's grief. I really wonder what the government is up to, but I guess we'll find out shortly A few minor mistakes here and there, but it doesn't detract from the story. Well done!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:07 PM   #26
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Excellent story so far, Machievelli! Post the next part soon!


you very much
If a tree would fall in the woods.....would the other trees laugh at it?
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:57 PM   #27
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Does anyone remember the name given to the Rakata homeworld?


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-30-2008, 03:49 AM   #28
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Lehon, if I remember correctly.



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 10-30-2008, 09:44 AM   #29
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I dunno, I always thought it was 'The Unknown World' I thought about calling it 'Rakata', just for length purposes, but it always came out 'Ricotta', and I was getting some very strange looks from my sis...


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-30-2008, 04:37 PM   #30
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Lehon, if I remember correctly.
I believe that you're correct, Bee. Corroborating evidence.
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Old 10-30-2008, 08:42 PM   #31
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I think its known on the Galactic map as Rakata, but the Rakatan's call it Lehon, both are correct either way, though.


you very much
If a tree would fall in the woods.....would the other trees laugh at it?
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:02 AM   #32
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Today

The children were like a flood running into the house, racking their tools, then running back out to wash up. Mission looked harried, as if she had tried herding gizka. She followed more out of sense of duty than any chance she was actually in control. The older women came in, already washed. They returned the tools they had been using, and Revan led them in.

“Manda’lor.” Merisa nodded.

She held up her hand “Please, that title belongs within the Mando’a.” She shrugged. “And since I am no longer Revan, please, call me by my name, Danika.”

Merisa shrugged. “Then please, Danika, Bastila, Juhani, come, sit and be welcome.”

Danika chose a seat at the table, not at the head or foot, but partway up the side. Bastila took a seat beside her. Juhani sat across from them.

“Something to drink?”

“Is there more?” Danika motioned toward the pot of stew.

Merisa looked at the pot, divining what she meant. “We have bread that is almost done baking, but-”

Danika stood. “We will help, please.”

Merisa nodded. The Jedi stood, and went into the kitchen. Sasha followed them. The men came in, then were sent back out to wash up. Now the children came in. Merisa assured that the places chosen by their guests remained open. Canderous came in as the women returned carrying bread already sliced on platters. They resumed their seats, Sasha curling up against Danika.

Finally everyone was there. Merisa began serving out bowls that were passed down either side of the long trestle table until everyone had been served. The bread was warm and soft, crocks of nerf butter passed hand to hand to spread on it. The spices to make it closer to Merdai were passed, and used or ignored as fit the diner.

Pitchers of the sweet black beer of the Mando were emptied, and filled again. Finally everyone was replete. The younger children took the empty bowls and platters, carrying them into the kitchen, and Sasha led all of the children in to wash and clean up. Merisa took out some black glass bottles. “Hard or soft, brother?”

“Hard of course.”

“Excuse me?” Juhani asked.
Verdyc is Mando blood wine.” Danika said. “Hard means triple distilled. lighter than Tihaar, more an aperitif. Soft means the undistilled wine.” She smiled. “Hard for me, please.”

Merisa poured. Of them all only the Mando Carth and Danika sipped the syrupy liqueur. The other adults drank the lighter fruity wine. As the children came back they grabbed cups of beer or wine sitting around the front room looking at the adults expectantly.

Ba’buir.” One of them asked, hesitantly of Canderous. “Tell us of a battle.”

He looked them over, then at his comrades. Danika shrugged. “Then hear you of the battle for all of our freedoms, a battle fought by those in this room, the battle of the Star Forge. But it is not my story alone, it is our story.” He nodded to Juhani and Jolee.

They told the story, each speaking of their parts. The four Jedi speaking of the battle in the temple on what was now called Lehon, Bastila against the others. Then Carth of the madness of the space battle. The Jedi charging through the corridors of the massive structure, Carth Zaalbar Mission and Canderous of holding against hope to cover their means of escape. Danika and Bastila speaking of the last fight between them, and the wonder of the bond that linked them now, then Bastila’s flight with the others to join at the ship. Danika speaking of the last battle with the man she had once loved, his death at her hands, then her wish to die.

Then Sasha, of crawling through sections of ducting as the grenade went off, wiping out the force within the station, of struggling on until she reached her adoptive mother, of pleading with her to come.

Then the run, the ancient station collapsing about them, and the frantic flight into space as it fell into the star.

The children listened raptly. “Bal kote, darasuum kote.” Kiara whispered.

They toasted the dead, and the living.

Canderous sipped, turning to Kiara. “Now tell them, my sister. Tell them of your first battle.”

Merisa sipped, listening.

*****

Fifty years earlier

“They blew up the house?” Merisa asked in horror.

“Not the guards. Those uniformed idiots couldn’t arrange a bottle party in a brewery.” Canderous sneered. “The people inside. They waited until the guards rushed them and took them all with them in a flash of fire. If anyone would have been a worthy opponent, it would have been them!”

“They’re not that good at war are they?” Kiara asked. “I have seen them on maneuvers. I have seen trainees with more discipline.”

“Zakal told me they were idiots. I didn’t believe how stupid they are. They hire four score of us to what? Teach their troops? Deal with a serious threat? No! We’re acting like a glorified hostage rescue team because they can’t even handle that! We could have taken that house without killing a score of our own in the process.” He shook his head angrily. “Kiara, talk with Drego. We’re going on total lockdown. I’m going to talk to Zakal and find out what she knew that she wasn’t telling me.” He drained the last of the beer, and stood. “Once you’re done with that, meet me at the command tent.” He looked at the girl, then walked out.

Chu.” Kiara said. She and the two children left together. There was a quick stop at the gate, then they walked through the camp.

“Why did you camp here?” Merisa asked.”

“Because they were too ready to give us space.” Canderous said. “Apartments in the city for the families, two and three bedroom units for our single men or women to share.” He looked at her. “As if we were colonists and not hirelings. We set out our camp here.”

“But the fence! It’s… stupid to make one so weak!”

“We did that to see how stupid they are.” Kiara said. “They have probed the fence for the last four weeks, and think they were unobserved. They think we’re fat and happy, even if we don’t eat their food, or drink their beverages. Right now they have us ‘surrounded’ by a division of troops.” She snorted. “Like surrounding a nest of Krayt Dragons with Jawas.”

The command tent was off by itself almost dead center of the camp. Kiara clicked her tongue, then flipped the flap out of the way. “Go on, Merisa.”

The girl walked forward, stopping in the opening. Shoji looked up at her approach over the shoulder of the figure in front of him.

“Either get in or get out.” The figure hissed in a raspy voice. It was feminine, but sounded as if she had serious damage to her throat. “Blast it girl, do it.” Merisa moved as if prodded, the flap falling to place the tent in shadows except for a lamp on the table, aimed across between the two figures.

The woman pointed, a finger aimed at the side where the light was focused. Merisa moved to stand there, looking at the woman.

She was striking, green eyes looking into her soul from a deeply tanned face. But that face didn’t have the angular look of the other Mando’a she had met. The woman looked pudgy, her arms soft rather than tight with muscle. Yet those eyes had a glint of humor in them as well.

“Your father was Fro Beckett, the history professor, correct?”

“Yes.”

The woman leaned forward pushing a set of data chips around on the table. “He was also an author and political scientist. He quotes a man of Coruscant who once said ‘those who refuse to learn from history were doomed to repeat it‘. Interesting for a religious man.”

“My father was strong in his faith, but not religious. He told me once that the book of the way was a guide to life, not something to follow slavishly. That God expected us to learn and grow as people first and beings of our faith second.”

Shoji shrugged. “Then why did those d’kut from the government quote from the book?”

“Because our government is made up of those who believe you follow the way or you are nothing.”

The woman looked at her. “So you are saying people who are fanatical about a fundamentalist view of their religion are in charge of this asylum.” She shook her head, rubbing her eyes. “I warned you not to take the contract Shoji.”

“Yes you did, but didn’t tell me why.”

She laughed, looking at the girl. “Do you like puzzles little one?” She asked.

Merisa remembered hours spent quietly with the family sitting around jigsaw puzzles, games that made you think rather than just play. She nodded.

“So do I.” The woman pushed with both arms, leaning back into a chair that sat behind her. She touched the arm, and a humming sound began as the chair lifted. “When I was young I was badly injured, both legs shattered so badly that they never healed properly. I can stand only because I am stubborn. Just not for long.

“So instead I use my brain.” She tapped her head. “I study, I tweak, I look for patterns. I do puzzles in my head to relax.

“The government seems dead set on removing those they do not approve of. Yet your book condemns warriors. The government before this one even reduced your planetary militia to a police organization. So why do they wish us to eat their food? The woman raised the chair until she was at the height she would have been without it. “Among the last five raids we have added a doctor a pharmacist, and a media reporter.”

“Reporter?”

“Duenan Castil.”

“The voice of the people.” Merisa said. “That’s what my father always called him. Always looking into government cover ups.”

The woman looked at her for a long time. “I wish her to stay with me for a while. I am going to figure this out.” She waved as if shooing a fly. “Go, Shoji. Polish your armor or something.”

The man stood, huge compared to the woman. Then he nodded, picking up his helmet and walking out.

“You are Merisa. I am Zakal. For my sins, I am the negotiator for half of the Clans of Mando‘yaim.” She looked at the chips in front of her. “Pull up a chair and we can get to work.”

“Why these?” Zakal asked. “Everyone of them has to the be targeted for a reason.” She began working, page after page of data flowed past. The hours passed. Zakal had accessed the local nets right down to government files, and as she worked, she used the girl to bounce ideas off. It was like those puzzle games, and Merisa found herself enjoying it immensely.

Merisa’s belly rumbled and Zakal snorted. “Go eat, get some sleep, and come back in the morning. Go.”

The girl crossed the night closed camp. Kiara had stew still gently bubbling with fresh bread. Merisa sniffed it. “Kiara, this bread smells… odd.”

The woman snorted. “Because we ran out of flour. So we had to get some grain.”

“But I thought you weren’t eating local food.”

“Did you know that every grain is related to common grass? We merely found grass with seed heads, and ground them.”

The girl ate. The stew tasted different. Obviously they had caught something else.

The pattern continued for three more days. Every morning either Kiara or Canderous were gone on a raid. Merisa would eat then join Zakal in her tent. The woman never seemed to sleep, and her encyclopedic knowledge of Merisa’s home planet was growing in leaps and bounds. The woman was reading a medical journal, dictionary at hand, looking up every other word, but happy as a clam.

The woman closed the dictionary with a snap. “Shoji is off on an operation. Kiara is here, yes?” The girl nodded. “Get her.”

Merisa ran to the tent, then ran back with Kiara. Zakal looked up as they entered. “Contact Shoji. Once our people are back we have to get off this planet now!”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:09 PM   #33
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machievelli, this is freaking awesome!

Seriously, as our local critic, I know you know good writing. I was curious to your story from that little bit of knowledge, and I have not been dissappointed. As currently serving in the armed forces, I have a certain appreciation of the Mandalorians, and your educated presentation of them in this style is...incredible. I can hardly wait to find out more about Merissa's past, and can't help but wonder if you're going to tie in TSL, where Canderous assumes the mantle of Mandalore.

Honestly, this story alone is starting to kick back in my star wars mood, which means probally by mid-november, I'm going to have KotOR re-installed, and my full-game DS Revan story will start going up.

I'd say "keep up the good work", but I doubt you need to be told that.
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:56 PM   #34
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Very nice new chapter, Mach. There were a few minor grammatical errors (I still stick to the belief that a list needs commas to separate the items), but the only spelling error that I saw was "diner" in place of "dinner."

As for the story, I still find it very intriguing: once more, I'm unsure as to why the Mandalorians are on a planet that they are not (seemingly) welcomed on, but I assume that this will be explained (my assumption for this would be that the government wanted a 'diverse' planet, and brought many different 'peoples' to their planet).

At any rate, I thought that this chapter was very well done. Keep up the great work.
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:04 PM   #35
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Very nice new chapter, Mach. There were a few minor grammatical errors (I still stick to the belief that a list needs commas to separate the items), but the only spelling error that I saw was "diner" in place of "dinner."
If you meant 'used or ignored as fit the diner' word usage was correct. I meant they spiced it as they liked.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:41 PM   #36
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If you meant 'used or ignored as fit the diner' word usage was correct. I meant they spiced it as they liked.
Yes, that was what I meant. My apologies for my limited experience in the area of grammar.
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:52 PM   #37
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Yes, that was what I meant. My apologies for my limited experience in the area of grammar.
No worries


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 11-01-2008, 01:23 PM   #38
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This is a very impressive piece of work. I must say I'm impressed that an American can take a perspective from a warrior society like the Spartans, Romulans, or Mandalorians and give them a dimension that is understandable to a reader.

I have had some trouble understanding seemingly bad grammar that was actually meant as you had written. I assume that you don't often make those kind of mistakes, but it is still a bit difficult to see a sentence and have to reread it to know what was stated. I know that it is complex wording that make your fictions so interesting to read, but I am often forced to go back and reread to confirm that I understood what was meant.

I don't know if I can be more specific because there was no one quote, but frequently one word now and again that made the subject of a sentence the opposite that I didn't quite understand. Other than that, I have no trouble with the grammar or plot. Very interesting story you have here.
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:15 AM   #39
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This is a very impressive piece of work. I must say I'm impressed that an American can take a perspective from a warrior society like the Spartans, Romulans, or Mandalorians and give them a dimension that is understandable to a reader.

I have had some trouble understanding seemingly bad grammar that was actually meant as you had written. I assume that you don't often make those kind of mistakes, but it is still a bit difficult to see a sentence and have to reread it to know what was stated. I know that it is complex wording that make your fictions so interesting to read, but I am often forced to go back and reread to confirm that I understood what was meant.

I don't know if I can be more specific because there was no one quote, but frequently one word now and again that made the subject of a sentence the opposite that I didn't quite understand. Other than that, I have no trouble with the grammar or plot. Very interesting story you have here.
Remember what I said in my column in reply to your post? I post this pretty much as you do, flow of consciousness, then post. So when people ding me on grammar, I accept it.

As for looking at warrior societies, I look at what they do, and their mindset. You cannot judge a society by your rules, only by their own. The Japanese are a perfect example. Execution by a sword is an honorable death, not murder. In 1942, the Marine Raiders who had been captured on Makin were executed, and even the day shows the honor bestowed, it was on the memorial day of the Yakasune Shrine, where all of the brave souls are believed to return. The men who bestowed that honor were hung by the neck for war crimes.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 11-03-2008, 10:25 AM   #40
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Lovely chapter! Zakal sounds like a very interesting character-- it makes perfect sense that the Mando'a would value her mind. Merisa seems improbably politically aware for such a young child, although that may be due to her father's influence. I wonder what the government is up to! The next chapter should be exciting



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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