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Old 04-25-2011, 12:59 AM   #1
machievelli
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Earth and star wars joining

Joining

The Ebon Hawk writhed as she fled the Sith Fleet.

Carth growled, his hands directing our desperate flight from the Sith Task Group.

We had been homeward bound from Lehon when the Leviathan class warship had dragged us from hyper space. The light freighter had leaped into flight, dodging the seeking tractor beams from both the Interdictor and the two cruisers with it. There had been an ionized meteor field off to one side, and Carth had dived into it as we ran. Bastila was checking their course as Carth threaded the needles she gave him. The smaller ship was faster here, as long as you didn't forget some rock the size of your fist...

There was a clang as something smaller than a fist ricocheted away. Carth was desperately programming, but I wasn't sure if it would do any good. “Jump, Carth.”

“You don't know where we will be afterward!”

“We'll be alive.” I said.

“There is that.” He commented. Behind him the nav-computer flashed as it took damage from a near miss. Then he slammed the hyperspace command button flat.

It was a timeless and at the same time familiar leap. The ship shuddered then came back as before. We were safe in hyperspace, or so it seemed.

Bastila came aft as Carth continued working. “The Nav-computer is locked at 32 days duration for the jump.

“Thirty-two days?” Mission yelped. “That would carry us right out of the galaxy!”

“Perhaps as far as the nearest neighbor, if we're heading the right direction.” I commented. All right, what we can deal with first. Zaalbar, do we have enough food for all of us for a trip of that duration?”

“No.” Zaalbar growled. “If all of the Jedi go into deep meditation, we have enough, but if all of us are cognizant, we will starve in two weeks.”

“Will Sasha be all right with you if we go into stasis?”

“Amma Mata-” I touched the girl. She fell silent, looking at the woman she had called stepmother all this time.

“My daughter, you have not yet progressed to deep mediation as we will need. So you must stay awake.”

The girl looked at me, then nodded. “Chu, Amma Mata.”

The Jedi met in the cargo bay. I looked them over, Bastila, Jolee, Juhani. “Are we ready?”

“Of course I am. Need a nap after all of you kids.” Jolee commented.

Juhani snorted the growling laughter of her people. “A month without listening to him complaining? Sign me up!”

Bastila laughed. She had mellowed in the time since her redemption. “I am ready, my love.”

I sat in a tailor seat, hands cupped upward on my knees. “Let us begin.” The others joined me, hands clasping. Our bodies slowed, breath coming once every ten minutes, pulse settling to less than one heartbeat a minute. Around us the others worked trying to repair the damage done.

2

I floated. I felt the ship moving, different now; we had dropped out of hyperspace. I felt new joy in the knowledge, only recording it. My heart began to speed up, my breath hitched, another breath between the measured breaths of before. My hands squeezed, and an interminable time later Jolee and Bastila replied to that nonverbal call.

My eyes opened, and a moment later both Jolee and Bastila returned to wakefulness. Several seconds passed, then Juhani was also awake again. Each stood, and went to discover how things had gone. Having half of the crew in stasis had eked out the supplies for the others, but it didn't mean it was pretty. We found Mission and Zaalbar in the lounge, both looking as if they had not had a good meal in half a dozen days. Carth was unconscious at the controls, gaunt with hunger. Sasha and Canderous looked up as the Jedi entered the cargo bay. Neither looked ill-used, in fact Sasha looked as she might have gained weight. HK stood in the passageway; he had caught part of the EMP that fried the nav-computer, and no one had bothered to reinitialize him.

“Bastila, take the controls. Jolee, see what remains of our supplies. We need to prepare to re-feed our crew. Juhani, checked the med-stores and see if we have electrolytes we can use to help.” I returned to the lounge, picking up Mission first. The girl grumbled, but didn't awaken. Her bones felt like sticks in a papery mass of flesh. I carried the girl to the starboard berthing area, laying her on her bunk. Then I returned to the lounge. Juhani and I carried Zaalbar to the port side berths.

Jolee trotted up. “Almost nothing. Some Canthis bird sides, enough to feed them up a bit.”

“They went through the dietary supplements. We have none remaining.” Juhani reported.

I nodded. “Get everyone strapped in. Bastila will take us in.”

I went forward, Bastila taking the controls. Juhani and Jolee took Carth away as we considered the blue-green planet ahead of us.

“The northern hemisphere.” She commented. “A better chance of what we need.”

“Do it.” I ordered. Bastila shoved the controls forward. We plunged toward the Northern hemisphere. It came closer, then closer; we were over the ocean to the east of the continent. I felt my chest ease. Maybe-

“Missile lock.” Bastila commented drily. I saw a flash of a missile firing, and Bastila had already maneuvered to avoid it. The missile was aimed at where we had been, the explosion a faint flash as we delved deeper. Then suddenly there was not one but dozens shooting up from the sea at four locations within a few tens of kilometers of each other.

“Bastila...” I gritted out.

“Those three-” She motioned at some of the ships, “-are out of the way, and we'll outrun their fire. It's that one we need to worry about. Some guns might help...”

“Understood. Jolee, man the upper turret.” I ran toward the center line where the access to the gun turrets were. Jolee leaped upward and climbed like a monkey as I dropped down. The seat enclosed me and I flipped the activating switches. There were almost a hundred lurid red icons closing, and I spun the guns onto the targets. The pulse lasers raved, and the icons flashed and vanished. Some had climbed above us, Jolee's fire winnowing them as we pushed closer to the ship firing at us. There were less than a dozen remaining when we screamed over the ship at less than a hundred meters.

It was an interesting viewpoint; The gravity generator had me sitting upright as if I were where Jolee was, so I was looking up at it.

It was an ocean going vessel with a flat forward end and a boxlike superstructure. A small white object on the port side facing toward us began firing projectiles that whined off our shields. A matching unit on the starboard side raved at us futilely as we dove lower.

I climbed back to the deck, walking forward. Bastila was serene as she lifted a little higher. “They are trying to track us with some kind of microwave tracking beam.” She adjusted a control on the electronic warfare console. “Hetrodyning their frequency.”

I took the copilot's seat, taking over on the jamming and looking at the coast ahead of us. The landmass arched in a sweep that was almost a semi-circle. “Land is rising ahead of us.”

“Eggs, grandmothers, sucking.” She replied. The ship lifted a little more, and we flashed over the night covered coast. There were rolling hills ahead of us, and to the port side I could see a meandering river.

I switched to surface scanning, our frequencies were a different, higher wavelength, so they would not detect them. I was looking for... “Bastila, starboard ten degrees, a small town. We can land far enough out and be able to resupply.”

She merely nodded. She slowed, turning slightly, and we passed over the small town like a giant raptor bird. “There, a small shopping complex. Far enough out that we should not be noticed.”

“Land a few kilometers away. We'll take the swoops.”

She brought the Ebon Hawk in smoothly, grass wavering as out lift and drive jets howled. I went back to the lounge. Mission was looking around with a confused expression. She seemed to see me, but then her eyes skated over my face. Zaalbar was in fetal ball, groaning. He looked as if he hadn't eaten in a week or more; possibly true, because he, like Juhani was primarily a carnivore.

Sasha came in from the cargo hold with a pair of Canthis bird fillets in a pan. She started the cooking unit. “These will be done in a few moments. I will make the other two as Juhani and Zaalbar eat these.” I nodded. Raw Canthis is an acquired taste, even for a carnivore.

Canderous came in with half a dozen emergency rations. “I found these stuffed in a parts locker. Enough to get a couple of them on their feet at least.”

“Good work. Bastila and I will take the swoops and check out the store five kilometers away. Once we have figured out what we can attain, I will send Bastila back to pilot.”

“Not good.” Canderous commented. “She's the pilot. I'll go with you.”

I nodded agreeing. The ramp went down as he shoved the first of the swoops down it. We had 'midnight requisitioned' a second one from the Republic fleet at Lehon. I switched it on, seeing it lift up humming on contra-gravs I climbed aboard, and motioned. We shot across the grasslands toward our destination.

3

The shopping complex was small, half a dozen stores, none of them open. One was a larger square building with a lattice across the doorway entrance. We parked, letting the bikes settle to the paving. I walked up to the door, seeing a blocky section on a loop of steel holding them closed. Canderous took out a vibroknife, and I stopped him. It was a simple mechanical lock. “No need.” I visualized the interior, the Force creating shaded areas of material. I nudged it, and the lock opened. I unthreaded it, and we slide the latticework back. The clear doors had another lock, and I reached in, seeing another design. I flicked it open, then stopped. On one of the doors there was an electronic device linked to the local wired communications lines. I fused it, and pushed the doors open.

I was greeted with a cornucopia of supplies. My mouth watered at the sight. Jedi meditation and stasis will sustain a body for a long time, but the body kept working, and I felt as if I had not eaten in three days. I stepped outside, eyes sweeping the highway that flowed past the shopping complex a few kilometers. Traffic was light. Yes it might work. I pulled out my com-link. “Bastila?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Lock onto this signal. We will be in the large building with the open doors. We have enough to feed all of us for a long time, but it will take time to load it. Can you fly in without lights?”

“Why do you keep asking foolish questions?”

“Just get here fast.” I turned. Canderous had moved into the store and to the far left where hundreds of bottles waited. He had opened one holding more than a liter and a half of liquid. He was slowly sucking down the entire bottle with sounds of appreciation. “Damn it, Canderous.”

He lowered the bottle wiping his chin. “What?” He asked like a child in the candy aisle.

I sighed. “There are some kind of storage carts outside. Grab one and fill it for transport.” I turned, then sighed again. “Yes, you can finish that bottle.” I walked to the center line aisle. To my right were utensils and cleaning chemicals. We could do without those. Directly to my right was a display of fruits. I went out, got a storage cart and brought it in. I began loading them into my cart. If there was a bag or box with more than four items, I loaded it into it. There was a pile of red fruits by themselves, and I thought about it before picking one up to bite into it. Tangy juice and a jelly of seeds were within it, and I purred in delight. Unfortunately they had not bagged them. Spying a small carry basket I filled it with the delightful fruits. There were enough for three of the carry baskets and I placed the last in the cart as there was a rush of hot air, and the Ebon Hawk landed just outside the door.

I had found a tray of heart shaped red sweet vegetables, and had eaten one, plucking the small green stem away as Bastila, Jolee, and Sasha came down the ramp.

“Jolee, give them fruit. We need-”

“Dannika!” I turned. Canderous had moved two aisles from where he had been. He had opened a jar with a four legged animal's picture on it, holding it out. I sniffed. Cooked animal flesh in a meat tea. He motioned, and I saw row upon row of flasks able to hold perhaps a half liter. I plucked one from the shelf, and opened it, sniffing. Another animal.

“Sasha, take these.” I grabbed a carry basket, filling it to overflowing. “For Juhani and Zaalbar.” I ordered. The girl took the basket and ran outside. “Each of you pick a row. Take the larger containers only.” They gathered storage carts and began. I took one, and went to the aisle beside where Canderous had begun his binge.

Sasha came back, and ended up running back aboard with juices. Some were a pale gold with a fruit on the outside, the others were three different ones with different fruits, one a pale gold in color, another yellow with red meat, the last blue colored orbs on a single stalk. These I directed for Mission and herself.

It all sounds wholly organized, but it was not. We Jedi had not gone a week or more without food like the others, but we felt hunger too. I looked longingly at a large canister with a reddish brown glutinous mass that reminded me of Merdai stew, but I could not find a way to open it without a vibroblade or lightsaber. I felt a tap on my arm, and Bastila handed me a pincher with a small metal blade and a wheel attached to a rotating handle. I clipped it on the canister as she showed me, and by turning the handle I was able to remove the lid. The mass didn't smell like any Merdai I had ever tried, but then again properly made Merdai stew is different every time. A nearby rack offered plastic bags full of differently shaped fried vegetable matter that were perfect. I opened one with wide square pieces that scooped it up and conveyed it to my mouth. Another bag gave me triangular shaped pieces of the same vegetable that were also good for this purpose. A third gave me round shapes of the same vegetable just as well suited. I sat in the aisle, the huge can of Merdai Stew in my lap, three different open bags of fried vegetable, and fed.


4

Bastila

I saw Dannika hunkered down over a can of some kind of reddish brown glutinous mass, shoveling it into her mouth with all aspects of delight. I shuddered, moving to the aisle next to hers. This was juices and dried goods so I chose the larger bags. We didn't need to take everything, just everything we needed. There was an array of containers with fruits, some with peels and other peeled, and I picked up one can thoughtfully. It looked like a Corellian Halo fruit, but was peeled with the center cored out. I retrieved the opening tool and a delightful fruit smell rose to my nose. I plucked out a piece, and ate it. Delicious.

I found myself digging deeper, pulling another then another slice of this delicious fruit out. Part of me didn't want to think I was as desperate in my love of this fruit as my love was of that nauseating mass.

5

Sasha

Really I thought my mothers had more control! Bastila was wrapped around a canister of fruit, and Amma Mata around one of some meat and spice sauce. I took my cart into another aisle. There were pack upon pack of smaller portioned delights. I noticed one marked with discrete squares, and I reached up. It was beyond my grasp and I said a couple of Mando'a bad words before I used the Force to bring the package to my hand. I ripped open the bag, and found within a couple of dozen or so smaller packets. Infuriated, I peeled one of them open, and looked at the square within. I bit into it, then paused as both fruit and a deeper flavor overwhelmed me.

Mission

Really, what were we mortals to do? Dannika had devoured part of a canister of some brown goop, Bastila stuffing fruit into her mouth as if tomorrow would never come. Even Sasha seemed entranced by something in the package she had opened.

But we Twi-Lek were made of much sterner stuff! I drove my cart toward the rear of the store. Off to my right there were shelves of the vegetable crisps they have coveted; I steeled myself and looked to the refrigerated containers they had ignored. We were starving and they were feeding as if there were no tomorrow!

I looked into the refrigerated compartment with their clear doors. On the bottom rack were pieces of meat almost the size of my chest in some kind of plastic. I bent and began pulling them out, putting them in the cart. I had almost filled it when I noticed oblong rounded boxes in a freezer area. I tossed a dozen of them on top and pushed the cart out and up the ramp. I handed one of the blocks of meat to Juhani and another to Zaalbar, both of whom ripped them open and began devouring in discrete bites, though big Z's bites of course were bigger.

After stowing the meat I started to put the boxes away, one, showing a scoop of something multicolored in a dish. Intrigued, I opened it. The concoction inside was striped in two different shades of brown with a strip of white on the end. I ran a finger along the frozen top, and licked it. Delicious. I did it again, but after the third time it just wasn't enough. I walked into the lounge, grabbed a spoon, and dug in.

Sasha came in with a smarmy grin on her face, pushing her cart back to the cargo compartment. A few moments later she came back, a small square in foil on her hand. Curious, I took it, peeling the foil open. The brown square inside smelled wonderful, and I bit into it, moaning at the taste. Sasha's grin got larger, and she pulled a large bag with more of them from behind her back. “all mine.” She said.

I dipped the spoon into the icy confection, and held it out. She took it, thrust it into her mouth, then froze with a delighted expression. I took the spoon back. “All mine.” I replied. She looked heartbroken, then held out the bag in mute offering. I got a bowl, dishing some of the frozen delicacy into it, pushing it over before her before I reached in and grabbed about half a dozen of the wrapped squares.

Dannika

I looked at the canister. I had eaten about a quarter of it, and felt, not full, but satisfied. I picked it up, going to the next aisle. Bastila sat on the floor, slipping another piece of fruit between her lips. Her fingers up to the palm were smeared with the juice from the canister, and she gave me a guilty look.

“Good?” I asked, nodding toward the canister.

“Oh my yes. Almost like halo fruit” She picked it up, drinking some of the liquid. That explained why her hands weren't soaked to the wrist.

“So is this.” I replied, setting the canister down, my arm setting down the three bags of crisps.

“I don't know how that can be.” She shivered. “It looks revolting.”

“Well don't knock it if you haven't tried it.” I scooped some of the meat stew into a crisp.

“I have no intention-” She stopped talking as I stuffed the loaded crisp into her mouth. She chewed speculatively, then smiled. “Yes it is quite good. We must have it again aboard ship.”

“Sure, as soon-” She used my own tactic, stuffing a fruit half into my mouth. I chewed, eyes closing. Yes, so like halo fruit. I felt her press the canister into my hands, and I drank. The liquid, some kind of syrup from the taste, flowed down my throat.

We stood, hands gently touching. I pointed at a white plastic sausage skin with a picture of some kind of ground meat on the outside. “I think that is the meat in it.” We backtracked, and I went down an aisle full of ground herbs, then tapped one. “And that is the primary spice they use.” She took down the canister, and sniffed it, then nodded.

Carth came in with a cart, and began loading large blocks of cheese and bags of shredded cheese into it. Bastila and I took carts back to our specific aisles, and began loading. I had told them to take only the large portion canisters and bags. Canderous had cleared every box and bottle from his area, now he started at the back of the store, taking large boxes and dropping them into his cart. Juhani and Jolee came, and Juhani packed carts as Jolee pushed them into the ship. A few moments later T3 rolled in. He squealed at Jolee, who paused to remove the electronic devices on the counters. Suddenly someone screamed in horror.

Mission

I stood in the cargo hold, emptying carts into our storage containers, canisters into the round and rectangular ones since they didn't need refrigeration, cool items into the coolers, frozen goods into the freezer compartment. We were getting a lot of food, enough to last the entire crew for our return... If we could make it in one jump.

Sasha came running in with some small plastic squeeze bottles, a slew of smaller jars, and that same grin. She held out the brown one, upending a red one over her mouth. A thick red liquid ran into her mouth and she moaned appreciatively. I did the same, and the taste was like the brown squares. I gave the same moan, and we packed these in our own special container.

There was a gasp and we turned. A human stood there, eyes wide he stared at Sasha, then with a horrified look, at me.

“Can I help you?” I asked. He looked at me again, eyes widening, but obviously didn't understand basic. He replied in a gabble I didn't understand either. Then, as if he'd entered a room and found it full of cannocks, he backed away. After three steps he stopped because he had backed into Zaalbar.

In horror vids you have a moment when the character, usually someone about to die, feels the presence of the monster, and has to see it just once before they die. He made the same slow motion turn, then had to crane backwards to look into Zaalbar's face. He shrieked, then ran toward the ramp. Zaalbar watched him run, then looked at me. “Was it my breath?” He asked curious.

“I don't think so, Big Z.”

Dannika

I heard the scream, and raced over to the ramp of the ship. A human male staggered down it, falling to his knees at my feet. He froze, my boots before his eyes, then he slowly looked upward, stopping on my face. Bastila came up on my right, Juhani on my left. His eyes leaped to each face, freezing on Juhani.

“Who might this be?” Bastila asked.

“Probably the owner.” I hunkered down, and he flinched backward.

You can gain a language using the Force; a good thing when you remember that Basic is not the only language in our galaxy, and there are even planets full of humans where it is not spoken. If you have time, you let them speak to you as I had done with Sasha, allowing your mind and theirs to connect on a subconscious level until suddenly their language is just there perfectly understood. “Bastila, Juhani, get Jolee and Sasha so we only need to do this once.” I reached out and touched his forehead with my finger. He tried to flinch away but I controlled his muscles so he could not. He was unable to flee, unable to scream. I soothed away his terror, and felt him on hands and knees, relaxed.

The other Jedi gathered around. I reached out to Sasha. “Hold my hand, daughter.” She did as Bastila touched my forehead and Sasha's. Juhani reached in, her hand warm against my neck as she joined hands with Jolee. He touched Bastila's forehead with his other hand.

I reached in finding his language center, and it flowed from him into me, then into the others. Oddly there were two languages so I copied both. When I felt we had found all there was, I looked up Jolee and Juhani pulled back, then Bastila, finally Sasha.

I freed the man's muscles. “Are you all right?” I asked.

He shook his head frantically. “Who are you people?” He looked at Juhani, then at Zaalbar and Mission who had joined us. “What are you?”

I stood, helping him to his feet. “We are but stranded travelers gathering supplies so we can continue our voyage.” I told him. “We found your store and have in-gathered what we needed.”

“But...” He stared at the denuded wine and ale section, then at the harrowed cheese aisle, finally at the empty racks in the cooler. “But you didn't pay for it!”

“We were going to leave goods in trade.” I handed him a five credit chip. “I do not think our money would be of value here. Juhani, some of the extra crystals.” She nodded, trotting aboard the ship She came back a short moment later with a dozen lightsaber crystals. We had already filled every space in our own sabers, so there weren't many; nine red ones, a couple of blues, and one violet. I poured them into his hand. “Our thanks. We will be going.”

We trotted aboard the ship, and lifted the ramp.

6

The sheriff walked through the store in amazement. It looked like a frat house had torn through it. Partly emptied bags of chips lay in one aisle along with an empty can of pear halves, some of the syrup was still there. The meat locker and frozen foods sections were completely bare. Every where else it had been picked through almost fastidiously only the larger portions had been taken; except for the two candy aisles that looked like Sherman's march to the sea had gone through them. “So let me get this straight, Mister Hernandez; you drove up and saw some sort of UFO parked at the front door. You looked on the ship and found-” he looked at his notes, “a blue girl with some kind of soft horns around her neck, then bumped into something that looked like a Sasquatch. When you fled, you met two women and a-” again with the notes, “-human sized cat woman.” They touched you head, and suddenly you could understand what they were saying. They paid you with those jewels,” He motioned to the crystals that a deputy was examining. “Is that what happened?”

“Yes, Sheriff Thomas.”

“Are you sure?” He asked gently. Hernandez snarled.

“Check the surveillance tapes if you don't believe me! Madre de dios!”

“Sir?” Deputy Fredericks came from the office. “I think you need to see this.” Thomas nodded, walking back to the office. There were DVRs recording every aisle, and Fredericks sat at the desk, bringing up one monitor. “Front door, approximately two hours ago.” He started the playback. A man and a woman, both in oddly designed clothes were at the door. The woman knelt, and the lock dropped off in her hand. They removed the security cage, then the woman stood, touching the lock. She paused, a hand running along the edge of the glass door, and something sparked then arced in a spray of smoke. “Security system went down when she did whatever it was. But no tools in her hands.” The doors were forced open, and they entered.

The woman wore a black formfitting arrangement of straps and strips, her hair a bright red. The man wore something that screamed military fatigues to go with the pistol on his right hip. They spoke, but he couldn't understand the language. The man went directly to the wine aisle, picked up a bottle of California Port, and upended it over his mouth. The woman was speaking into some device she had plucked from her belt, then spoke to the man. They talked for a moment, then she went out to get a shopping cart, pushing it down an aisle as the man finished the heavy wine and set the bottle down reverently. He also got a cart.

A few moments later dust sprayed into the building as something landed outside. “Don't have a visual outside except for the doors.” Another woman dressed as the first had been but her outfit looked like brown suede leather. She spoke with tie first woman who was in the soup aisle. They cleared an entire shelf of meat teas into a cart and the second woman pushed it outside. A young girl came through the door as the first woman found the Mexican food aisle. She looked puzzled at a can, then the other woman walked to the utensil aisle, coming back with a can opener. The first woman opened the can, and slid a finger along the top of the contents. Her face took on a dreamy expression, and she ripped open the bags that now lay almost empty in that aisle, sitting with the can between her knees and began shoveling the food in with obvious delight. The second woman returned going into the canned fruit aisle. She picked up a number 10 can of pear halves. After opening it she sniffed it, then delicately plucked one out. Her face was ecstatic as she bit into it. Like her friend she sat and began shoveling the fruit into her mouth.

The little girl paused in the first candy aisle, then gestured. As they watched in amazement a bag of some pretty fancy chocolates floated down, and she opened it. It took her a moment, but soon she was on the floor cooing with delight as she stripped foil from her prizes, stuffing them into her mouth.

His jaw dropped as a man in a robe followed by a blue-skinned girl just as had been described came in pushing carts The man started in the fruit section, filling the carts as the blue skinned girl headed to the back, tossing hams and unsliced lunch meats into hers.

Now it was a swirl of motion; another man in a different military uniform with a really ugly orange jacket came in, starting at the back where bottled juices were. Now the cat woman appeared. She wore a robe something like the man did, and she went to the meat locker and began filling her cart. The little girl got a cart, fastidiously picked up her trash, then looked up. She reached out as if grabbing, and the uppermost shelf began emptying itself into her cart as if an invisible giant had hooked his arm behind the products, and passed them hand to hand into the cart. Once her cart was full she sped off with it. The blue girl was back. Now that he thought of it, her clothing had a military cut to it, though it was a jumpsuit. She started into on the ice cream aisle, taking all the half gallon and larger boxes. The old man had denuded the produce section but taken only the packaged fruits and vegetables. Now he was in the chips aisle, loading the cart to overflowing with tubs of dips.

Everyone was busy at it now, completely organized but silent. The woman in the Mexican food aisle had joined the other in the fruit aisle. They spoke gently, as if lovers. The woman with the chips dipped some of the food out, and stuffed it in the other woman's mouth. That woman chewed, saying something as her hand dipped to grab another pear half, which she stuffed in her friend's mouth. They both savored the experience, then shared the syrup. They walked back to the meat aisle, and the older woman motioned first to a five pound chub back of ground beef, then at the spice aisle where she picked exactly the right spice.

Now; Thomas paused the replay. A seven foot tall furred being came in, a bandolier hanging from a shoulder. He pushed two carts and by himself he cleared the rest of the meat aisle. Then he pushed one cart towing the other out the door. A moment later the two women stiffened at a scream. They leaped to their feet, moving impossibly fast to stand at the door as Hernandez fell to his knees. The one in the black knelt, touching his forehead. Hernandez froze as if all of his muscles had locked up. The woman spoke, and the two women with her went past, returning with the little girl and the old man. They touched each other, and several minutes passed. Then the woman lowered her hand.

“Are you all right?”

He shook his head frantically. “Who are you people?” He looked at the cat girl, then at the Sasquatch wannabe then at the blue-skinned girl. “What are you?”

She stood, helping Hernandez to his feet. “We are but stranded travelers gathering supplies so we can continue our voyage. We found your store and have in-gathered what we needed.”

“But...” He stared at the denuded wine and ale section, then at the harrowed cheese aisle, finally at the empty racks in the cooler. “But you didn't pay for it!”

“We were going to leave goods in trade.” She handed him a plastic coin. “I do not think our money would be of value here. Juhani, some of the extra crystals.” The cat woman nodded, trotting aboard the ship She came back a short moment later with a dozen crystals.

The spokeswoman poured them into his hand. “Our thanks. We will be going.” They trooped out, then there was a blast of dust.

Thomas leaned back. “Pull all of the disks. I need to make a call.” He pulled out his cell phone. He paged through the contacts and chose one.

“Camp Stonewell switchboard.”

“I need someone in intelligence right now.”

“Sir, it's three in the morning.”

“I know that, you twit. Tell them a UFO with at least three different alien species landed outside the Smart and Final here in town and ransacked the place.”

There was a pause. He knew his ID showed on their caller ID, so they had to know he was the sheriff. “Hold please.” There was silence. Thomas was glad they didn't have Muzak when on hold. It took seven minutes before another sleep fogged voice. “Colonel Bates, Intelligence.”

Sheriff Thomas, Mescalero County. Did they tell you what this call is about?”

“Something about aliens shopping at the Smart and Final's in Togara I believe.”

“That's it exactly.” Thomas told him. “And we have evidence on DVD disc.”

There was deep sigh. “All right. Sheriff, this is what I need for you to do; first, I'm declaring a Darkstar emergency. You, your men and the owner are to stay there and keep everyone else away. I'll have a squad there ASAP.”

7

Dannika

We lifted straight up, and Carth was guiding us as Bastila scanned the ground below us. “There, Carth. A wood line large enough to conceal the ship.” He nodded silently as he scanned the area himself. Carth was a belt and suspenders kind of guy.

“Big enough.” He agreed. “Flight controls have been repaired, but the nav-computer was fried. I can do this by hand, but it might be a bit rough.”

“Do it.” I ordered walking aft. T3 had the two large devices open, and was plucking segments from their circuits. “How goes it, T3?” I lifted the pad as he squealed a long electronic diatribe at me. It seemed there were a lot of parts he could modify to rebuild the nav-computer. But he needed a lot more.

I felt the bump as we landed. I sat in a tailor seat, taking circuit boards and dismantling the parts T3 needed. Carth and Bastila came from forward, and both joined me as T3 marked each circuit part for us to dismantle for him. “Canderous, keep a sensor watch for us. This will keep us busy for a while.”

Zaalbar and I will start a meal.”

“More Merdai?” I asked.

“We have several canisters of it, both with and without legumes in it. When he has time, T3 can analyze the mixture without legumes so we can duplicate it later.” Mission replied. “But we have large blocks of meat, and cooking one up will do for now.”

“And vegetables.” I commented. “Mustn't leave out a food group.”

“I agree. There are some kind of white tubers that will go with it.”

We divided the work up easily. Mission and Zaalbar were busy with cooking something that smelled delightful. Juhani and Jolee joined us in stripping out usable parts that T3 was now combining on a new circuit board.

Sasha worked to help Mission, carrying tubers both raw and in large cans as Zaalbar slathered a sauce on the baking meat. Sasha switched to bringing snacks. We ate cake covered in the brown liquid both Sasha and Mission craved. Once I tasted it I understood why. The last of the usable parts were removed and we took what remained to the recycling unit; there wasn't much remaining we could use immediately. Now we sat, sampling the teas of this world as the trio making dinner worked their magic. Finally they delivered the feast to the table, and we ate heartily. Slabs of meat surrounded by vegetables in green brown and white garnished the meat and we stuffed them down avidly, the meal washed down with some kind of brown ale. It ended with both squares of the brown confection, and bowls filled with icy multicolored swirls. We all finally relaxed in repletion.

“Orders?” Carth asked.

“Any packaging that we can't eat in the recycler. Who wants first watch?”

“Me.” Canderous said, picking up another bottle of the brown ale. “Wake who next?” Carth raised his hand silently, then Bastila. I raised my own, followed by Juhani. “all right.”

“T3, do you have enough extra parts to start on HK?” He squealed so vehemently that I raised my hands. “Sorry, I was just asking!”

We settled down, Bastila spooned to my front Sasha curled up to hers. We fell asleep all in the same bed and content as we drifted to sleep.

We came awake almost together about seven hours later. I felt full, replete. All was right with my world. Bastila snuggled against me, and I wished I were a male so we could consummate that relationship. On the other side of her Sasha awoke. She did not have the same reaction, but she turned in our arms, kissing Bastila on the cheek. “Amma tu che Mata.” she whispered.

“Please, stop calling me that.” Bastila sighed. “My love?”

“I am here.”

“Why weren't we called for guard duty?” She asked.

“I have no idea.” I replied. We adjourned to the lounge where Sasha first got cups of tea for all of us, then curled up against my side. All three of us sat sipping appreciatively.

Carth came from forward, grabbing a cup for himself. “T3 was able to salvage enough for about ten percent of our nav-computer. We'll need more to fix HK and the computer but he's scored us a place to look.”

“Show me.” I ordered. The desk top holo flared. The woods we were hiding in were inside the fenced off enclosure that popped up, but several buildings inside it flared.

“Each of these buildings has some of their computers we can scavenge. He figures five or six of them should be enough.”

“Good. The sooner we're gone, the sooner they will forget us.” I replied.

“So, which building do we hit?”

I looked at the military base as if plotting an attack; which when you think of it, we were. I tapped one. “This has enough computer supplies to take care of our needs. This building in between... What is it?”

“The information we have is that it is a club where the enlisted personnel can drink.” Carth commented. “If we were to infiltrate it before the Ebon Hawk arrived, we can keep things quiet.”

“Define we.” I asked.

“You and Bastila, Canderous and I.” He reported.

“all right. HK is still down?”

“Yes, but he's up to 60 percent at the moment.”

“Not enough to limit his killing anyone he runs into, leave his disconnected.”

“Understood. The rest of us will be raiding that building tonight.”


'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; 08-28-2011 at 11:10 PM. Reason: Needing editing
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:00 AM   #2
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Joining part 2

8


It was a quiet night. WO3 Robert O'Neal sighed happily as he headed his AH64 Apache toward the Barn. He could scan the ground ahead of him, and used the Forward looking Infrared (FLIR) sight to look for power lines.

“Scorpion One, I have a massive IR burst at 030 from my position.” His wing man reported.

“Any idea what it is?” He asked WO1 Conroy.

“Negative, sir. It looks like someone put a heavy lift chopper or a Harrier down in the trees near the south of the base, but radar had nothing, and the tower doesn't have anything in the area.”

“Wait one.” O'Neal clicked the commo switch. “Stonewell approach this is Scorpion one. My wing man reports a large IR burst at 030 from his position. We are a few minutes out, would you like me to check it out?”

“This is Stonewell approach. If you would, sir.”

“Stonewell, Scorpion flight of two changing course to 000. Will scan and report.” He turned, and immediately spotted the thermal bloom. The kid was right; hell it looked like someone had landed a jumbo jet in the woods. As they approached he tried to make sense of the IR signature. It didn't look like any plane or tank he'd seen. It was a flat disc 30 meters across and 35 in length. The forward end (making an assumption) was three squared off mandibles with some kind of guns aimed forward.

“Stonewell this is Scorpion 1. We have the target in sight. Is a disc with a squared off end.” He described what he saw. “It is down on the ground inside the base itself near the southern end in the trees.” He described the IR image.

“Scorpion 1.” The voice was different. “This is Colonel Bates. This comes under Darkstar protocols. We will have troops en route within five minutes. Your orders are simple. Whatever that is, it stays on the ground. If it tries to lift you are to hover over it to block it's assent and if necessary fire into it.”

“Sir, that last order is not very clear.”

“You will aim to disable, but if it tries to escape you will blow it to hell. Is that clear enough?”

“Yes, sir.”

9 Carth

It might have looked more sedate with proper couples. Dannika and Bastila walked first, hands touching and hips bumping, while Canderous and I followed. I watched it and felt... inadequate. Canderous ignored it. Of course among the Mando'a such displays were accepted. Easier to figure out who to proposition, after all.

The enlisted club was wild with loud music and even louder voices over the music. Dannika and Bastila threaded their way as we had to shove through like a pair of icebreakers. They stopped at the bar, and Dannika held up the bottle we had brought. The man behind the bar shook his head, and the women agreed to take what he offered. He brought out four bottles, and Dannika waggled her fingers as she spoke in the native language, the man repeating what she had said. She handed us our ales, and we moved to a table. I swigged, then paused looking at the five pointed star on the label. God, this was revolting! “Is this the best they have?”

“According to the the barkeep, yes.” Dannika drank, scowling. “We only have to drink two rounds.”

“Since it's swill, I won't complain about Jedi tricks.” Canderous replied.

“Jedi tricks!” Bastila commented. Her look was as eloquent as the others.

“Yes.” Canderous waggled his fingers. “I paid for a round.”

“Actually two.” Dannika said. “I could tell the ale wasn't that good.”

We laughed at that. Even bad beer is better than nothing and our second round was delivered quickly.

I was in the middle of the bad beer when a man staggered by, then stopped laying his hand on Dannika's hip. “Hey, babe, what are you doing later?”

She froze, then her head turned. I suddenly pictured the turrets of the Endar Spire with her guns capable of coring a corvette at 500,000 kilometers. She looked up at the man, and only a non predatory species would have called it a smile. Any self respecting predator would have fled for the hills or prepared to die. “Were you addressing me?” she asked in a purr not much away from a growl.

“Sure was, sweet cheeks.” Obviously this human had never dealt with women of her stripe. I tuned in my seat, but Canderous stopped me.

“She was a Jedi, Sith, then Republic Soldier. She knows how to deal with this.” He commented. I had to admit he was right, so I sat quiet.

“I suggest you move your hand.” Dannika said in that calm way she had. “Before I remove it at the wrist.”

“Oh so forceful.” He grabbed her upper arm. What he might said next was cut off as her knee came up between his thighs. He gasped, settling to the floor almost as if to pray. She gave him a pitying look, then turned back, an arm draped across Bastila's hip. I watched a couple of his friends dragged him away, but I was worried about the glares they gave us.
We sipped our drinks in a pool of rapidly expanding silence. Dannika looked at her chrono, and motioned to it for us. Both Canderous and I knew we had overstayed our welcome, though for the life of me I didn't know why.

Dannika

We had decided to stay for only two rounds of drinks. I had anticipated little problem, though the one man had been a bit much. Any fool in a cantina knew to ask before pawing. I had hoped that draping my arm over Bastila might limit it but the atmosphere became even more hostile. Our possible option to stay for three rounds went by the wayside then. I motioned and the others stood to go out. We walked out the door, and found ourselves facing a dozen angry men.

“What is the meaning of this?” I demanded.

“Your kind fouled the system!” One of them shouted.

I was confused. 'Our kind'?”

“You lipstick lesbians, going to the club and drinking, then you're hanging all over each other and giggling. If I did that I'd be out with a medical discharge before I could say it was a mistake!”

“Lipstick lesbian?” Carth asked.

“Lipstick is something the local women put on their lips to make them more appealing.” I replied. “And a lesbian is a woman who takes other women as lovers.”

Carth had the grace to look confused. “Why is that a problem?”

“I have no idea.” I replied. “Why is me putting my arm around my lover a problem?” I asked.

“Like I said, it's that blasted double standard. You can say you had too much to drink but we couldn't.”

“Maybe it's a social behavior.” Canderous commented. “Females are allowed to do it, but men are not.”

So foolish. I shook my head. “Society is like a plant, it grows and branches as it gets older. Perhaps they would ignore it if you merely wrapped your arm around some man you cared for-” For some reason that caused the tension to shoot up.

“Are you saying you think I'm queer?”

“Queer?” I asked. “I would say more strange-”

“Are you saying I'm gay?” He growled.

“You do not appear overly happy to me-”

“ Are you saying I love men and not women?” He growled again as if I was too stupid to understand why he was upset, and frankly, I didn't.

“Then why are you so upset? Either you do love them or you do not. It is not my place to judge.”

He snarled, ripping his blouse off to reveal the undershirt. “I'm going to rip off your head and shove it up your girlfriend far enough that you can pleasure her forever.”

I translated, and Carth came forward, fists clenched.

“Tell your Fag-hag friends to stay out of it or they'll get the same as you two!” I could tell from his comment that Bastila and I were their prey, but if Canderous and Carth stayed out of it, they were safe.

I passed this on to them. Carth's answer was pungent and unprintable. Canderous had a better answer and I used it. “You mean they get to kick your butts too?”

And so the battle was joined.

Canderous

There were twelve of them, and four or us. Poor saps, they were totally outnumbered.

The men had surrounded us, and as Dannika and Bastila turned to charge toward our rear, Carth and I went forward. The man that had been screaming at Dannika swung the bottle he held in one hand down, and it shattered, leaving razor sharp spikes thrusting from his hand. He thrust at my stomach and I caught his hand in mine like I was taking a punch. I lifted, my eyes looking into his, then I smiled as I began to squeeze. He struggled, then screamed as I crushed his hand down around his makeshift weapon, slicing his palm open. I didn't stop there, I kept squeezing, feeling bones dislocate as he frantically beat at me trying to get free. I reached out, hand behind his head, and head butted him hard enough that he went down bonelessly. I ducked, a fist shooting past my face, and I clipped the man on the back of his upper arm, making his fist drop helpless. Another came from the opposite side, and I caught his arm, dislocating it as I threw him into the others. A single back fist left me with no opponents.

I turned. Dannika was holding one man's wrist, using her grip to maneuver him as she fought the other two. She blocked a strike from the trapped man, then her forearm blocked one from the man on his left. She kicked out and the man who had swung went down, gasping at the injury she had done to his solar plexus. She rolled backward, the trapped man squawking as a foot caught his stomach and flipped him up. At the same time she used his energy to roll to her feet, letting go of his wrist to drive two fists into the next man's stomach. She turned and negligently struck the last man in the forehead with a raised knuckle.

Bastila had put one man down, but another had grabbed her in a bear hug. She dropped forward, and when her attacker went backward to stop her she kicked down, legs coming up, both feet flashing out to hit stomach and face. The man paused as if he didn't believe it, then slowly went first to knees, then to his face. She kicked down, a foot smashing his instep, and when the man released her she dropped, a hand coming back to catch his head, and she rolled forward, the man flipping over her shoulder to land with stunning force on his back. She stuck at his temple, and she had no further opponents.

We all turned to look at Carth. He had taken one guy down, but the other two had spread out, forcing him to defend on a front of about 80 degrees. “Come on, Republic. There's only those two left.”

“A little help maybe?” Carth leaped back, then kicked one of his opponents, but the man blocked the kick.

“Why?” I asked. “I took three of them.”

“So did I.” Bastila wasn't even breathing heavily.

“As did I.” Dannika said with a chortle riding her voice. “Do you really need help, Carth?”

He blocked, then said, with obvious reluctance. “All I can get.”

I stepped forward a hand on either man's head. Before they could react I slammed their heads together and both men went down. “Are we done here?”

“I should think so.” Dannika tried to stop the giggles, but she couldn't. Bastila joined her, and they laughed together. Finally the chuckles died and Dannika raised her com link. “Jolee, talk to me.”

“We have a problem, Dannika.”

10

Juhani

I know that none of us would fit in on this planet, but having us relegated to merely sitting aboard the ship and wait was galling. Jolee along with Sasha and T3 had gone to gather the electronics we needs, Dannika, Bastila, Carth, and Canderous had gone to this 'EM' club to act as a second line of defense, but I could not get in; not looking like the locals.

So Mission Zaalbar and I were stuck here. It didn't bother Zaalbar much, he had begun another of those large roasts he had made before, and Mission helped by kneading bread dough. I opened the canisters Zaalbar tapped, and peeled the tubers. Both he and I are primarily carnivorous, but living among other races had taught us both the appreciation of some vegetables and fruits. I especially liked the little heart shaped vegetables with seeds dusted on the outside, and a small tuft of green to hold when you eat them.

I finished peeling the tubers, took a small bowl of the vegetables and went forward to the bridge. I was sitting when I felt them; men approaching. I took the controls in hand, warming up the lift and drive engines. The proximity scanners screamed and I spared a look at them. Some aircraft was hovering directly overhead, another sweeping into a turn, the three barreled cannon under it's nose aimed in obvious threat.

We had yet to examine one of their weapons close up. Primarily projectile rifles, we knew. The cannon were probably enlarged versions of them. They could damage but not disable the ship. But Dannika would not like it if I had to blast our way free. The ship bumped as the aircraft dropped onto our dorsal surface. A clear bid to force us back down. I am a fair pilot and good with the Force, but I could not control two aircraft and fly at the same time.

“We are going to have locals aboard in a moment, no hostile actions. Make sure the weapons are locked down.” I lowered us back down, and men were charging toward us as I lowered the ramp and shut down the engines. Before moving I locked down the control panel then I went aft.

A large man was screaming at Mission, poking her with the muzzle of his weapon. Zaalbar was growling, ready to attack. The man shoved Mission and she sprawled on her knees. The man was screaming “Get up and move!” Mission caught a chair and tried to get up, but collapsed. He must have hit her harder than I thought. The man snarled, raising the weapon and reversing it so he could smash it down on her.

“Stop.” I said. When he didn't, I put him in a stasis field. There were clicks and half a dozen weapons were pointed at me. I didn't lower my hand, instead I looked around. One man had more stripes on his sleeve, and I concentrated on him. “We are not resisting, so violence is not necessary.”

“What did you do to Simmons?”

“I have the ability to halt the motion of other people. If one of you will take his weapon, I will release him.”

“If we don't?”

“You will have to kill me, and since I am the only one you can speak to, you will not be able to question us.”

The man glared at me, then jerked his head. Another soldier went over, taking the weapon from the man's grasp. Once he had stepped back, I released Simmons. He jerked forward, then looked at him empty hands. “What the-”

“We are not resisting. There is not need for brutality and violence.” I replied before the man in charge could say anything. “Of the three of us only I speak your language.”

“Stand down, Simmons.”

“But sarge-”

“Stand down. Now.” The man grumbled but backed up. The weapon was returned.
The leader nodded, and a man slung his weapon, pulling out cuffs. None of them would have fit Zaalbar, and I had no intention of letting them cuff us.

“That will not be necessary.” I looked at Mission and Zaalbar. “We will go willingly.” I turned back to the men and repeated it. “Your restraints are not large enough for Zaalbar, and if you tried to attack him a number of your people would be hurt.”

“Really?” The man sneered.

“Both Mission and I would help him fight, and none of you knows what we can do. So may we do this peacefully?” He shrugged. I got the impression that he wouldn't mind lugging body bags if it came to that, but his orders said otherwise.

We came down the ramp. They had brought several vehicles. Four of them looked like tanks, but two had smaller turrets and ramps in the back. Each of us was pushed into a different vehicle, and only my shouting at Zaalbar kept him from fighting. The last I saw of them was the ramp coming up, and Mission's worried face.


11

Jolee

I was going to have a long talk with Dannika about how she apportions assignments. I understand why they couldn't take Sasha into a bar, but making me haul her narrow butt around was galling. She could have stayed aboard the ship but two of us would make this job easier.” There was a twittering behind me. “Erase and correct, one juvenile and a tin can.

The building was one story brick. I checked the locks; no security system. I used the Force to open the door and we went in. I went from door to door opening them as Sasha and T3 went in and began. I made sure to find at least five of their archaic computers before retracing my steps. Sasha still had the little carry basket from the store, and she was pulling circuit boards, stacking them as if shopping. In the next office T3 had opened the casing of a computer, and was pulling circuit boards, examined them, then began pulling the circuits we needed. He finished then rolled to the next room. Sasha came out of the fourth door and scuttled down the hall toward the fifth.

I heard a rumbling, and went to the door. Six large vehicles were rolling past us followed by a slew of smaller ones with men inside. I felt a person behind me, Sasha. “T3 is almost done. I have emptied their computers.”

“We'll wait until those guys have passed, then we'll leave.” She grunted in assent and I smiled. So she had gotten from me after all. The parade ended as T3 rolled up. We ghosted through the night. It was really a nice place. Reminded me a little of Carator where I grew up before becoming a Jedi. The rolling hills reminded me of Dantooine.

We reached the trees, and I raised my hand once we were in them. “Those vehicles headed here.” I whispered. We moved forward cautiously. The vehicles were there in a semicircle with their guns aimed at the ship. Two aircraft flew overhead low enough to be in danger of clipping a tree. Then peopled came down the ramp. I saw Juhani Mission and Zaalbar surrounded by armed troops. Since she could speak their language she seemed to have kept the pins in. Each was hustled to a different vehicle, and I could feel Juhani's mind touch mine. We passed information back and forth as the vehicles they were in pulled out.

“Jolee, talk to me.”

I lifted the com link. “We have a problem, Dannika.”

12

The president hunched over his coffee. Bad enough that something was important enough to get him out of bed at Oh-dark thirty. But he'd never heard of Darkstar before.

“We're ready, sir.”

“About damn time.” He sipped his coffee, looking at the small plate of snacks beside him. He took a croissant, buttering it. “Talk to me, General.”

The three star nodded, bring up the projector. “This morning as just after midnight, SPASUR reported a contact closing at a significant percentage of light speed. At that time it was 60,000 kilometers out.”

“Never learned metrics. Put that in English.”

“Just under 38,000 miles.”

“At the speed you quoted, it should have gone by like a bat out of hell then.”

“Yes sir. However it made two quick orbits and at 00:15 was passed off to US Space Defense Operations or SDOC. At that time they had reduced speed to just over 20,000 miles per hour and were still decellerating.”

“Passed off?”

“Yes sir. Pace surveillance is run by the navy, and SDOC by the Air Force.”

The president shrugged. “Go on.”

“The alien craft condtiuned to descend, and made their way toward the Gulf coast south of Galveston. In doing so they entered the threat radius of Carrier battle group 17 which was on maneuvers 200 miles south. At 0030 ships in the screen of USS Truman; the cruisers Shilow and Lake Champlain supported by destroyers John Paul Jones and Stout engaged the craft.”

“They opened fire without orders?” The President looked shocked.

“Sir even at DEFCON 5 our battle group commanders still have the authority to attack if they are going to be overflown by an unknown. Admiral Yaeger had ordered the craft to stand off, but it ignored our attempts.

“The cruisers and destroyers opened fire and shot themselves dry trying to stop it; 248 Standard missiles and they didn't even scratch it. In fact, more than 70 missiles were shot down before they could even get close.” He switched the screen to the Gulf coast of Texas. “Next report was a local sheriff calling Camp Stonewell at 0430 hours. He reported that some kind of aliens had raided a local store, a Smart and Final in the town of Togara, Mescalero County. The manager had called in, and they didn't believe it until the Sheriff and one of his deputies watched the DVR recordings. Six humans and three aliens were recorded taking several tons of food from the store. Except for the manager, who was incoherent, there was not a description of the ship. Colonel Bates, the Intelligence officer on the sceen called a Darkstar alert at that time.”

“How do we know it wasn't just a bunch of kids in costumes?”

“Bates sent copies of the discs in for analysis. All of the aliens showed physical capabilities a human in make up without further special effects could not have done. One alien described as a small blue skinned woman had what they originally thought were horns growing from her head that lay on her shoulders. But when she was concentrating on deciding what to take they writhed like snakes. One of them described as a human sized female cat had mobile ears that flicked when she was concentrating. The largest, described as a Sasquatch wannabe had retractable claws. He picked up number ten cans by grasping them with his claws.”

“So they were definitely aliens.”

“Yes, sir. The manager of the store arrived at just before 0400, and described the craft as 'a flat disc with three prongs on one end along with what he thought were 120mm tank guns attached to it. He went aboard where he discovered the human girl and the blue skinned one stowing the stuff they had taken. He was shocked by the blue girl and backed away until he bumped into the Sasquatch. At that point he fled, and fell to his knees just inside the store where he was found by the leader of this group.”

“How do you know who was the leader?”

“The actions of the others. She gave orders, and the others obeyed. She is described as a red head in some kind of black leather outfit. She knelt in front of the manager, then touched him on the forehead with one finger. Nothing else and the man acted as if he had been frozen solid. She had the others come, then she took the hand of the small human girl. The other human woman touched a finger to the woman's forehead and the child's. The cat woman placed her hand on the leader's neck, and joined hands with one of the men, the oldest of the group. That man put his finger on the other human woman's forehead.

“They stood there for an estimated three minutes, then one by one they all released their holds or moved their hands. At that point the leader addressed the manager in English with a Spanish accent like the man they had been touching. They told him they needed supplies and gave him several odd crystals. Those are being analyzed as I am reporting.”

“Why wasn't this reported this morning?”

“We were still collating the reports. That brings us to tonight.”

“There's more?”

“Yes, sir; if I may continue?” He waited for the nod. “The Darkstar protocols were created under another name back in the early 70s when SETI, the Search of Extra-Terrestrial life organization came into being. Except for three nations, Red China, the then Soviet Union and the United States have refused to sign it. The SETI protocols as they are called govern how the 'host' government is supposed to handle the situation. The three nations I mentioned disagreed.”

“Define disagreed.”

“I believe the Chinese and Russians disagreed for the same reason we did. Ever since Operation Blue Book in the 50s, it has been the policy of the US government that the Military and intelligence community would be in charge. Under the SETI protocols diplomats and scientists were. It was believed that whomever snagged a ship first would have access to technology hundreds of years in advance of everyone else, and that would be a major destabilizing factor internationally.

“We believe we need to check it out first, assure that there isn't anything of military value, and only then open it up to the scientific community. Darkstar is activated if such a craft is reported, and holds all information regarding them until released by the president.”

“All right. Go on.”

“Most of what I am about to report happened four and a half hours ago; at or around 2300 last night Central Standard Time. The delay in reportins is because we got several different reports from different sources in the next hour and a half, and we wanted things in chronological order for you.”

“No excuses; give.”

“At at or around 2300 hours four people later identified as some of the human component of the alien ship were seen to enter the enlisted man's club at Camp Stonewell. They obviously came as two couples; but the two women were holding hands. One of the local troops was upset, and tried to get them seperated. The leader spoke to him, then when he didn't relent, kneed him in the groin. She then turned back and put her arm around her friend. He and his friends left the club at that time.

“The two couples left a few moments later, and while recorded on the security cameras, it wasn't seen until later. The manager of the club was worried and went out to check. When he saw what had happened, he called the Mps. They checked the recordings while the hospital sent over ambulances.”

“How many of the aliens were hurt?”

“None of them. In the space of three minutes they took down all twelve of the locals including a SEAL and two Green Beanies. Only one man, Sergeant Olson was badly injured. He had broken a bottle to use as a weapon, and the oldest man in the group crushed his hand over the bottleneck, dislocated every finger except the thumb, and drove the glass into his hand badly enough that he may lose the use of the hand. Most of them are sleeping the sleep of the seriously concussed.

“At or about the time the people arrived, An AH64 Apache flying wing on another reported an odd thermal bloom in the woods at the south of the base. The flight were told to investigate. They spotted the alien ship on the ground, and were ordered to keep it on the ground by any means necessary. A platoon of troops and their vehicles were sent and at 2330 captured the alien ship and the three aliens. Only one, the female cat spoke English; again with a Spanish accent. They surrendered without a struggle. They were taken to the stockade for interrogation. That is the bulk of what we know at this time.”

12

I stared at the com link in horror as Jolee reported. Three of my crew captured, and the ship occupied. “Stay there, we'll link up and recaptured the ship.”

“We'll be waiting.”

We moved faster. You can tell who is and is not used to maneuvering in the dark by listening. Bastila and I used the force to feel the trees and undergrowth ahead of us, leaping it like preadators at home in their environment. Canderous moved almost as silently, the whisper of leaves on his boots as he moved. Carth, not surprisingly made the most noise. I finally stopped him and told him we'd call when it was clear.

Without him crimping our style it took us less than ten minutes to reach the clearing. It didn't look good. There were three vehicles I identified as tanks, and four smaller ones.

“Jolee, you and Canderous deal with the troops. Bastila,” I motioned upwards. “We take the aircraft. T3, jam all their communications.”

We moved out on our missions.

Bastila

It was easy, actually. Dannika and I leaped up on the dorsal portion of the ship as their communications were jammed. She took the one directly overhead, I the one that circled. First we jammed their weapons so those cannon could not try for our flesh. Then we controlled the pilots, making them land just outside the perimeter. Below us Sasha Jolee and Canderous were dealing with the troops. There was a shriek of metal as Jolee ripped the gun tube from one of the tanks, but beyond that, silence. Carth arrived, and I felt Dannika direct him into the ship on the heels of Sasha and Jolee. As they dealt with the intuders Carth opened the weapons locker and pulled out half a dozen stun rods and Bothan stunners. He handed them out and Jolee ran toward my vehicle as Sasha ran to Dannika's. Five seconds later every one of the locals was unconscious.

We gathered, and Jolee motioned toward one building. “They are there.” He told us. “Juhani is kept separate, but the other two are there.”

“Why keep her separate?” Dannika asked.

“Because she can speak their language, and the others cannot.” Jolee commented.

Dannika looked at him, then at me. “Then we have two rescues, not one.”

Jolee

She was as decisive as I knew she would be. Bastila and Sasha were assigned to the rescue of Mission and Zaalbar; I would go in with her for Juhani. Canderous would be on the ventral guns, Carth on the stick. The two pairs ran down the ramp, and I felt it close behind us. Here was where the fun would begin.

29

Juhani

I sighed. Would their stupid questions never end? “I have told you several times, my race did not spring to life on this planet. I was born on Cathar, which is a planet about half of the known galaxy from here. My race is the dominant form on my planet, as yours is dominant here. I am not a cat, merely an analogue of the same species here. If you were to combine the DNA from the sample you took from me and bred it to a local animal of the same genotype it would be a hybrid which might not live very long.” I gave the grunting cough of my race's laugh. “Maybe it would learn to be sentient, but I could not guarantee it.”

“You are not being helpful.” The human replied.

I looked at the chains that linked my neck, hands and feet into a continuous link. “And chaining me like this is helpful?” I concentrated, and the chains from neck to ankles fell away. “I promised not to resist, but you treat me like a specimen. Should I be happy that you have not handed me over to vivisectionists?”

There was a feeling, and I followed it. I leaped to the cage they kept me in. “Swear by what you consider holy that you have not done that with the others!” They were silent as I screamed, ripping the bars from the floor. A round thing popped into my cell, and I was assaulted at the aural and audial level by a blast of energy.

Dannika

I felt Juhani's anguish even as we hit the doors. Humans saw us coming, then were thrown aside as the Force pushed ahead of me like a tornado. We reached the cell block, and found Juhani mewling in pain in a cell. We'd disabled a dozen men on the way, and seeing her anguish I didn't regret any of them.

I reached out, the lock snapping open, and caught Juhani. “My student, speak to me!”

Juhani looked up, then her hand rested against my cheek. “The others...” She whispered. I touched her forehead, then a look of horror covered my face. I pulled Juhani up onto my shoulder. I didn't need to see why, my mind was a blood red fury of an avenger. I went past Jolee like a missile already sure of it's target.

Bastila

It was horror upon horror. We breached their security and the first thing I found was Zaalbar. He was strapped to a table, and a human looked up from where he was ripping our friend from sternum to crotch with a blade. I reached out, and he was pinned to the wall by the force even as I tried to heal the wound inflicted. “Sasha, find Mission, protect her.”

Sasha

I saw the horror inflicted on Zaalbar, and Amma tu che Mata was not happy. “Sasha, find Mission, protect her.” I looked at what they had done and my heart hardened. I leaped into pursuit, Mission's energy leading me and I burst into yet another horror. There were three of them, one just lifting a knife from Mission's sternum as I entered.

All my teachers; My stepmother, evil step mother and Juhani had taught me right from wrong; what I saw was so far into the wrong I could not stand it. The one standing before me went backwards into computer consoles, his body imbedded in them from the fury of my reply. The one recording had enough time to scream before I imbedded him in the brick wall behind him. The last, the one with the naked bloody blade in his hand was not given enough time to scream. I threw him through a glass wall, through a grouping of computers and into a wall hard enough that his body was imbedded like a fossil.

I fell to my knees keening in my agony. I had learned to heal, but not enough, not enough! I screamed for help.

Dannika

I could feel Sasha's anguish, and was in motion as Jolee picked up Juhani behind me. Two darts, one Bastila, the other myself arrowed toward where Sasha keened. I arrived last to see Bastila and Sasha kneeling over a bloodied form. My mind refused to accept it even as I leaped forward. I caught one of Bastila's hands, then one of Sasha's. “We will not lose her!” I screamed.

We combined, feeling the injuries inflicted, and I directed us in the healing. It was like three surgeons working under the command of one, and we knitted the damage together. Both Sasha and Bastila relaxed, but I did not rest until Mission rested beneath our hands, inviolate.

We gasped, then sighed as Mission was repaired. I caught both Sasha and Bastila in my arms, kissing both as Mission's eyes opened.

Canderous

I held my blaster cannon, waiting at the ramp. Republic was at the controls, but it wasn't as if he'd be any good. It had reached the finely drawn point where nerves were wire stretched when they returned, all of our crew intact. I gave a sigh of relief as they came aboard, Jedi and not Jedi striding by me.

Dannika, last as she was first into battle always touched my arm. “”The crew is whole again.” She whispered. “Tell Carth to get us out of here.”

I passed the order as the ramp closed, and the Ebon Hawk aimed for space.

30

Dannika

The Ebon Hawk broke from the planet's gravity and I rejoiced. Our crew was well; both Zaalbar and Mission had been tormented, but we had repaid that evil. I drifted back to the medical bay, running my hand gently over Mission's face. To face such horrors, I had never imagined it. I sat there, my soul linking to hers. Then Carth interrupted. “Dannika? T3 is done fixing the Nav Computer.”

“”On my way.” I touched the face before me. “I will not let you be a sacrifice, Mission.” I whispered, kissing her on the cheek.

The Ebon hawk leaped into flight, and my own arms, wings lent her power. Felt every hand, T3 at the drive connections, both Juhani and Canderous between. I dragged myself to the bridge as Carth aimed for that huge moon.

“Carth?” I asked.

“we're free of planetary gravity. We have enough supplies.”

I wanted to punch an arm in the air. “Can you detect our path here?”

“Give me a few.” He asked. I nodded heading aft. Zaalbar's latest roast included traces of the merdai I had enjoyed. He grinned, then began to serve. I tasted links to it in the food before me, but was not sure. Bastila laughed, stuffing meat and spice into my mouth as the same time that Jolee did the same with vegetables and spices to Sasha. Both of us stiffened as the tastes hetrodyned, then it was gone.

“Carth, take us home.”


'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 08-24-2011, 09:36 PM   #3
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This is the winning entry for the last contest, but only half of it. I have contacted JM12 and hopefully we can find the rest...

Oh, there is a contest of sorts that went with this. It's questions about aspects of the story which I will post in the next few days.


'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; 08-25-2011 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:42 AM   #4
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The crew of the Ebon Hawk raiding a common Earth grocery store! I love it!!! *LOLOLOLOL*
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:44 PM   #5
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Part 2 appears to have gone missing. My own version dissappeared when my computer went belly up back in July, and if JM12 cannot find it, I will have to recreate it. As writer I am appalled, since the new version has little to do with the new version. When I have posted it, I wil post my contest. For those who have tried before, I give what I call whatever prizes, named for my stepdaqughter who always anwered when I castigated her; 'whatever'.


'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 12-17-2011, 09:32 PM   #6
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Remember when I said the document dissappeared? The Virus that screwed me up hid all of my files, and I was able to find the original! Enjoy...

It was a quiet night. WO3 Robert O'Neal sighed happily as he headed his AH64 Apache toward the barn. He could scan the ground ahead of him, and used the Forward looking Infrared (FLIR) sight to look for power lines.

“Scorpion One, I have a massive IR burst at 030 from my position.” His wing man reported.

“Any idea what it is?” He asked WO1 Conroy.

“Negative, sir. It looks like someone put a heavy lift chopper or a Harrier down in the trees near the south of the base, but radar had nothing, and the tower doesn't have anything in the area.”

“Wait one.” O'Neal clicked the commo switch. “Stonewell approach this is Scorpion one. My wing man reports a large IR burst at 030 from his position. We are a few minutes out, would you like me to check it out?”

“This is Stonewell approach. If you would, sir.”

“Stonewell, Scorpion flight of two changing course to 000. Will scan and report.” He turned, and immediately spotted the thermal bloom. The kid was right; hell it looked like someone had landed a jumbo jet in the woods. As they approached he tried to make sense of the IR signature. It didn't look like any plane or tank he'd seen. It was a flat disc 30 meters across and 35 in length. The forward end (making an assumption) was three squared off mandibles with some kind of guns aimed forward.

“Stonewell this is Scorpion 1. We have the target in sight. Is a disc with a squared off end.” He described what he saw. “It is down on the ground inside the base itself near the southern end in the trees.” He described the IR image.

“Scorpion 1.” The voice was different. “This is Colonel Bates. This comes under Darkstar protocols. We will have troops en route within five minutes. Your orders are simple. Whatever that is, it stays on the ground. If it tries to lift you are to hover over it to block it's assent and if necessary fire into it.”

“Sir, that last order is not very clear.”

“You will aim to disable, but if it tries to escape you will blow it to hell. Is that clear enough?”

“Yes, sir.”

9

Carth

It might have looked more sedate with proper couples. Dannika and Bastila walked first, hands touching and hips bumping, while Canderous and I followed. I watched it and felt... inadequate. Canderous ignored it. Of course among the Mando'a such displays were accepted. Easier to figure out who to proposition, after all.

The enlisted club was wild with loud music and even louder voices over the music. Dannika and Bastila threaded their way as we had to shove through like a pair of icebreakers. They stopped at the bar, and Dannika held up the bottle we had brought. The man behind the bar shook his head, and the women agreed to take what he offered. He brought out four bottles, and Dannika waggled her fingers as she spoke in the native language, the man repeating what she had said. She handed us our ales, and we moved to a table. I swigged, then paused looking at the five pointed star on the label. God, this was revolting! “Is this the best they have?”

“According to the the barkeep, yes.” Dannika drank, scowling. “We only have to drink two rounds.”

“Since it's swill, I won't complain about Jedi tricks.” Canderous replied.

“Jedi tricks!” Bastila commented. Her look was as eloquent as the others.

“Yes.” Canderous waggled his fingers. “I paid for a round.”

“Actually two.” Dannika said. “I could tell the ale wasn't that good.”

We laughed at that. Even bad beer is better than nothing and our second round was delivered quickly.

Bastila

I was in the middle of the bad beer when a man staggered by, then stopped laying his hand on Dannika's hip. “Hey, babe, what are you doing later?”

She froze, then her head turned. I suddenly pictured the turrets of the Endar Spire with her guns capable of coring a corvette at 500,000 kilometers. She looked up at the man, and only a non predatory species would have called it a smile. Any self respecting predator would have fled for the hills or prepared to die. “Were you addressing me?” she asked in a purr not much away from a growl.

“Sure was, sweet cheeks.” Obviously this human had never dealt with women of her stripe. Carth tuned in his seat, but Canderous stopped him.

“She was a Jedi, Sith, then Republic Soldier. She knows how to deal with this.” He commented. I had to admit he was right, which is why I sat quiet.

“I suggest you move your hand.” Dannika said in that calm way she had. “Before I remove it at the wrist.”

“Oh so forceful.” He grabbed her upper arm. What he might said next was cut off as her knee came up between his thighs. He gasped, settling to the floor almost as if to pray. She gave him a pitying look, then turned back, an arm draped across my hip. I watched a couple of his friends dragged him away, but I was worried about the glares they gave us.

We sipped our drinks in a pool of rapidly expanding silence. Dannika looked at her chrono, and motioned to it for us. Both Canderous and I knew we had overstayed our welcome, though for the life of me I didn't know why.

Dannika

We had decided to stay for only two rounds of drinks. I had anticipated little problem, though the one man had been a bit much. Any fool in a cantina knew to ask before pawing. I had hoped that draping my arm over Bastila might limit it but the atmosphere became even more hostile. Our possible option to stay for three rounds went by the wayside then. I motioned and the others stood to go out. We walked out the door, and found ourselves facing a dozen angry men.

“What is the meaning of this?” I demanded.

“Your kind fouled the system!” One of them shouted.

I was confused. 'Our kind'?”

“You lipstick lesbians, going to the club and drinking, then you're hanging all over each other and giggling. If I did that I'd be out with a medical discharge before I could say it was a mistake!”

“Lipstick lesbian?” Bastila asked.

“Lipstick is something the local women put on their lips to make them more appealing.” I replied. “And a lesbian is a woman who takes other women as lovers.”

Carth tapped me and I translated what had been said so far. Hehad the grace to look confused. “Why is that a problem?”

“I have no idea.” I replied. “Why is me putting my arm around my lover a problem?” I asked.

“Like I said, it's that blasted double standard. You can say you had too much to drink but we couldn't.”

“Maybe it's a social behavior.” Canderous commented. “Females are allowed to do it, but men are not.”

So foolish. I shook my head. “Society is like a plant, it grows and branches as it gets older. Perhaps they would ignore it if you merely wrapped your arm around some man you cared for-” For some reason that caused the tension to shoot up.

“Are you saying you think I'm queer?”

“Queer?” I asked. “I would say more strange-”

“Are you saying I'm gay?” He growled.

“You do not appear overly happy to me-”

“ Are you saying I love men and not women?” He growled again as if I was too stupid to understand why he was upset, and frankly, I didn't.

“Then why are you so upset? Either you do love them or you do not. It is not my place to judge.”

He snarled, ripping his blouse off to reveal the undershirt. “I'm going to rip off your head and shove it up your girlfriend far enough that you can pleasure her forever.”

I translated, and Carth came forward, fists clenched.

“Tell your Fag-hag friends to stay out of it or they'll get the same as you two!” I could tell from his comment that Bastila and I were their prey, but if Canderous and Carth stayed out of it, they were safe.

I passed this on to them. Carth's answer was pungent and unprintable. Canderous had a better answer and I used it. “You mean they get to kick your butts too?”

And so the battle was joined.

Canderous

There were twelve of them, and four or us. Poor saps, they were totally outnumbered.

The men had surrounded us, and as Dannika and Bastila turned to charge toward our rear, Carth and I went forward. The man that had been screaming at Dannika swung the bottle he held in one hand down, and it shattered, leaving razor sharp spikes thrusting from his hand. He thrust at my stomach and I caught his hand in mine like I was taking a punch. I lifted, my eyes looking into his, then I smiled as I began to squeeze. He struggled, then screamed as I crushed his hand down around his makeshift weapon, slicing his palm open. I didn't stop there, I kept squeezing, feeling bones dislocate as he frantically beat at me trying to get free. I reached out, hand behind his head, and head butted him hard enough that he went down bonelessly. I ducked, a fist shooting past my face, and I clipped the man on the back of his upper arm, making his fist drop helpless. Another came from the opposite side, and I caught his arm, dislocating it as I threw him into the others. A single back fist left me with no opponents.

I turned. Dannika was holding one man's wrist, using her grip to maneuver him as she fought the other two. She blocked a strike from the trapped man, then her forearm blocked one from the man on his left. She kicked out and the man who had swung went down, gasping at the injury she had done to his solar plexus. She rolled backward, the trapped man squawking as a foot caught his stomach and flipped him up. At the same time she used his energy to roll to her feet, letting go of his wrist to drive two fists into the next man's stomach. She turned and negligently struck the last man in the forehead with a raised knuckle.

Bastila had put one man down, but another had grabbed her in a bear hug. She dropped forward, and when her attacker went backward to stop her she kicked down, legs coming up, both feet flashing out to hit stomach and face. The man paused as if he didn't believe it, then slowly went first to knees, then to his face. She kicked down, a foot smashing his instep, and when the man released her she dropped, a hand coming back to catch his head, and she rolled forward, the man flipping over her shoulder to land with stunning force on his back. She stuck at his temple, and she had no further opponents.

We all turned to look at Carth. He had taken one guy down, but the other two had spread out, forcing him to defend on a front of about 80 degrees. “Come on, Republic. There's only those two left.”

“A little help maybe?” Carth leaped back, then kicked one of his opponents, but the man blocked the kick.

“Why?” I asked. “I took three of them.”

“So did I.” Bastila wasn't even breathing heavily.

“As did I.” Dannika said with a chortle riding her voice. “Do you really need help, Carth?”

He blocked, then said, with obvious reluctance. “All I can get.”

I stepped forward a hand on either man's head. Before they could react I slammed their heads together and both men went down. “Are we done here?”

“I should think so.” Dannika tried to stop the giggles, but she couldn't. Bastila joined her, and they laughed together. Finally the chuckles died and Dannika raised her com link. “Jolee, talk to me.”

“We have a problem, Dannika.”

10

Juhani

I know that none of us would fit in on this planet, but having us relegated to merely sitting aboard the ship and wait was galling. Jolee along with Sasha and T3 had gone to gather the electronics we needed, Dannika, Bastila, Carth, and Canderous had gone to this 'EM' club to act as a second line of defense, but I could not get in; not looking like the locals.

So Mission Zaalbar and I were stuck here. It didn't bother Zaalbar much, he had begun another of those large roasts he had made before, and Mission helped by kneading bread dough. I opened the canisters Zaalbar tapped, and peeled the tubers. Both he and I are primarily carnivorous, but living among other races had taught us both the appreciation of some vegetables and fruits. I especially liked the little heart shaped vegetables with seeds dusted on the outside, and a small tuft of green to hold when you eat them.

I finished peeling the tubers, took a small bowl of the vegetables and went forward to the bridge. I was sitting when I felt them; men approaching. I took the controls in hand, warming up the lift and drive engines. The proximity scanners screamed and I spared a look at them. Some aircraft was hovering directly overhead, another sweeping into a turn, the three barreled cannon under it's nose aimed in obvious threat.

We had yet to examine one of their weapons close up. Primarily projectile rifles, we knew. The cannon were probably enlarged versions of them. They could damage but not disable the ship. But Dannika would not like it if I had to blast our way free. The ship bumped as the aircraft dropped onto our dorsal surface. A clear bid to force us back down. I am a fair pilot and good with the Force, but I could not control two aircraft and fly at the same time.

“We are going to have locals aboard in a moment, no hostile actions. Make sure the weapons are locked down.” I lowered us back down, and men were charging toward us as I lowered the ramp and shut down the engines. Before moving I locked down the control panel then I went aft.

A large man was screaming at Mission, poking her with the muzzle of his weapon. Zaalbar was growling, ready to attack. The man shoved Mission and she sprawled on her knees. The man was screaming “Get up and move!” Mission caught a chair and tried to get up, but collapsed. He must have hit her harder than I thought. The man snarled, raising the weapon and reversing it so he could smash it down on her.

“Stop.” I said. When he didn't, I put him in a stasis field. There were clicks and half a dozen weapons were pointed at me. I didn't lower my hand, instead I looked around. One man had more stripes on his sleeve, and I concentrated on him. “We are not resisting, so violence is not necessary.”

“What did you do to Simmons?”

“I have the ability to halt the motion of other people. If one of you will take his weapon, I will release him.”

“If we don't?”

“You will have to kill me, and since I am the only one you can speak to, you will not be able to question us.”

The man glared at me, then jerked his head. Another soldier went over, taking the weapon from the man's grasp. Once he had stepped back, I released Simmons. He jerked forward, then looked at him empty hands. “What the-”

“We are not resisting. There is not need for brutality and violence.” I replied before the man in charge could say anything. “Of the three of us only I speak your language.”

“Stand down, Simmons.”

“But sarge-”

“Stand down. Now.” The man grumbled but backed up. The weapon was returned.
The leader nodded, and a man slung his weapon, pulling out cuffs. None of them would have fit Zaalbar, and I had no intention of letting them cuff us.

“That will not be necessary.” I looked at Mission and Zaalbar. “We will go willingly.” I turned back to the men and repeated it. “Your restraints are not large enough for Zaalbar, and if you tried to attack him a number of your people would be hurt.”

“Really?” The man sneered.

“Both Mission and I would help him fight, and none of you knows what we can do. So may we do this peacefully?” He shrugged. I got the impression that he wouldn't mind lugging body bags if it came to that, but his orders said otherwise.

We came down the ramp. They had brought several vehicles. Four of them looked like tanks, but three had smaller turrets and ramps in the back. Each of us was pushed into a different vehicle, and only my shouting at Zaalbar kept him from fighting. The last I saw of them was the ramp coming up, and Mission's worried face.


11

Jolee

I was going to have a long talk with Dannika about how she apportions assignments. I understand why they couldn't take Sasha into a bar, but making me haul her narrow butt around was galling. She could have stayed aboard the ship but two of us would make this job easier.” There was a twittering behind me. “Erase and correct, one juvenile and a tin can.

The building was one story brick. I checked the locks; no security system. I used the Force to open the door and we went in. I went from door to door opening them as Sasha and T3 went in and began. I made sure to find at least five of their archaic computers before retracing my steps. Sasha still had the little carry basket from the store, and she was pulling circuit boards, stacking them as if shopping. In the next office T3 had opened the casing of a computer, and was pulling circuit boards, examined them, then began pulling the circuits we needed. He finished then rolled to the next room. Sasha came out of the fourth door and scuttled down the hall toward the fifth.

I heard a rumbling, and went to the door. Six large vehicles were rolling past us followed by a slew of smaller ones with men inside. I felt a person behind me, Sasha. “T3 is almost done. I have emptied their computers.”

“We'll wait until those guys have passed, then we'll leave.” She grunted in assent and I smiled. So she had gotten something from me after all. The parade ended as T3 rolled up. We ghosted through the night. It was really a nice place. Reminded me a little of Carator where I grew up before becoming a Jedi. The rolling hills reminded me of Dantooine.

We reached the trees, and I raised my hand once we were in them. “Those vehicles headed here.” I whispered. We moved forward cautiously. The vehicles were there in a semicircle with their guns aimed at the ship. Two aircraft flew overhead low enough to be in danger of clipping a tree. Then people came down the ramp. I saw Juhani Mission and Zaalbar surrounded by armed troops. Since she could speak their language she seemed to have kept the pins in. Each was hustled to a different vehicle, and I could feel Juhani's mind touch mine. We passed information back and forth as the vehicles they were in pulled out.

“Jolee, talk to me.”

I lifted the com link. “We have a problem, Dannika.”

12

The president hunched over his coffee. Bad enough that something was important enough to get him out of bed at Oh-dark thirty. But he'd never heard of Darkstar before.

“We're ready, sir.”

“About damn time.” He sipped his coffee, looking at the small plate of snacks beside him. He took a croissant, buttering it. “Talk to me, General.”

The three star nodded, bring up the projector. “Yesterday morning as just after midnight, SPASUR reported a contact closing at a significant percentage of light speed. At that time it was 60,000 kilometers out.”

“Never learned metrics. Put that in English.”

“Just under 38,000 miles.”

“At the speed you quoted, it should have gone by like a bat out of hell then.”

“Yes sir. However it made two quick orbits and at 00:15 was passed off to US Space Defense Operations or SDOC. At that time they had reduced speed to just over 20,000 miles per hour and were still decellerating.”

“Passed off?”

“Yes sir. space surveillance is run by the navy, and SDOC by the Air Force.”

The president shrugged. “Go on.”

“The alien craft continued to descend, and made their way toward the Gulf coast south of Galveston. In doing so they entered the threat radius of Carrier battle group 17 which was on maneuvers 200 miles south. At 0030 ships in the screen of USS Truman; the cruisers Shilow and Lake Champlain supported by destroyers John Paul Jones and Stout engaged the craft.”

“They opened fire without orders?” The President looked shocked.

“Sir even at DEFCON 5 our battle group commanders still have the authority to attack if they are going to be overflown by an unknown. Admiral Yaeger had ordered the craft to stand off, but it ignored our attempts.

“The cruisers and destroyers opened fire and shot themselves dry trying to stop it; 248 Standard missiles and they didn't even scratch it. In fact, more than 70 missiles were shot down before they could even get close.” He switched the screen to the Gulf coast of Texas. “Next report was a local sheriff calling Camp Stonewell at 0430 hours. He reported that some kind of aliens had raided a local store, a Smart and Final in the town of Togara, Mescalero County. The manager had called in, and they didn't believe it until the Sheriff and one of his deputies watched the DVR recordings. Six humans and three aliens were recorded taking several tons of food from the store. Except for the manager, who was incoherent, there was not a description of the ship. Colonel Bates, the Intelligence officer on the sceen called a Darkstar alert at that time.”

“How do we know it wasn't just a bunch of kids in costumes?”

“Bates sent copies of the discs in for analysis. All of the aliens showed physical capabilities a human in make up without further special effects could not have done. One alien described as a small blue skinned woman had what they originally thought were horns growing from her head that lay on her shoulders. But when she was concentrating on deciding what to take they writhed like snakes. One of them described as a human sized female cat had mobile ears that flicked when she was concentrating. The largest, described as a Sasquatch wannabe had retractable claws. He picked up number ten cans by grasping them with his claws.”

“So they were definitely aliens.”

“Yes, sir. The manager of the store arrived at just before 0400, and described the craft as 'a flat disc with three prongs on one end along with what he thought were 120mm tank guns attached to it. He went aboard where he discovered the human girl and the blue skinned one stowing the stuff they had taken. He was shocked by the blue girl and backed away until he bumped into the Sasquatch. At that point he fled, and fell to his knees just inside the store where he was found by the leader of this group.”

“How do you know who was the leader?”

“The actions of the others. She gave orders, and the others obeyed. She is described as a red head in some kind of black leather outfit. She knelt in front of the manager, then touched him on the forehead with one finger. Nothing else and the man acted as if he had been frozen solid. She had the others come, then she took the hand of the small human girl. The other human woman touched a finger to the woman's forehead and the child's. The cat woman placed her hand on the leader's neck, and joined hands with one of the men, the oldest of the group. That man put his finger on the other human woman's forehead.

“They stood there for an estimated three minutes, then one by one they all released their holds or moved their hands. At that point the leader addressed the manager in English with a Spanish accent like the man they had been touching. They told him they needed supplies and gave him several odd crystals. Those are being analyzed as I am reporting.”

“Why wasn't this reported this morning?”

“We were still collating the reports. That brings us to tonight.”

“There's more?”

“Yes, sir; if I may continue?” He waited for the nod. “The Darkstar protocols were created under another name back in the early 70s when SETI, the Search of Extra-Terrestrial life organization came into being. Only three nations, Red China, the then Soviet Union and the United States have refused to sign it. The SETI protocols as they are called govern how the 'host' government is supposed to handle the situation. The three nations I mentioned disagreed.”

“Define disagreed.”

“I believe the Chinese and Russians disagreed for the same reason we did. Ever since Operation Blue Book in the 50s, it has been the policy of the US government that the Military and intelligence community would be in charge. Under the SETI protocols diplomats and scientists were. It was believed that whomever snagged a ship first would have access to technology hundreds of years in advance of everyone else, and that would be a major destabilizing factor internationally.

“We believe we need to check it out first, assure that there isn't anything of military value, and only then open it up to the scientific community. Darkstar is activated if such a craft is reported, and holds all information regarding them until released by the president.”

“All right. Go on.”

“Most of what I am about to report happened four and a half hours ago; at or around 2300 last night Central Standard Time. The delay in reporting is because we got several different reports from different sources in the next hour and a half, and we wanted things in chronological order for you.”

“No excuses; give.”

“At at or around 2300 hours four people later identified as some of the human component of the alien ship were seen to enter the enlisted man's club at Camp Stonewell. They obviously came as two couples; but the two women were holding hands. One of the local troops was upset, and tried to get them seperated. The leader spoke to him, then when he didn't relent, kneed him in the groin. She then turned back and put her arm around her friend. He and his friends left the club at that time.

“The two couples left a few moments later, and while recorded on the security cameras, it wasn't seen until later. The manager of the club was worried and went out to check. When he saw what had happened, he called the MPs. They checked the recordings while the hospital sent over ambulances.”

“How many of the aliens were hurt?”

“None of them. In the space of three minutes they took down all twelve of the locals including a SEAL and two Green Beanies. Only one man, Sergeant Olson was badly injured. He had broken a bottle to use as a weapon, and the oldest man in the group crushed his hand over the bottleneck, dislocated every finger except the thumb, and drove the glass into his hand badly enough that he may lose the use of the hand. Most of them are sleeping the sleep of the seriously concussed.

“At or about the time the people arrived, An AH64 Apache flying wing on another reported an odd thermal bloom in the woods at the south of the base. The flight were told to investigate. They spotted the alien ship on the ground, and were ordered to keep it on the ground by any means necessary. A platoon of troops and their vehicles were sent and at 2330 captured the alien ship and the three aliens. Only one, the female cat spoke English; again with a Spanish accent. They surrendered without a struggle. They were taken to the stockade for interrogation. That is the bulk of what we know at this time.”

12

I stared at the com link in horror as Jolee reported. Three of my crew captured, and the ship occupied. “Stay there, we'll link up and recapture the ship.”

“We'll be waiting.”

We moved faster. You can tell who is and is not used to maneuvering in the dark by listening. Bastila and I used the force to feel the trees and undergrowth ahead of us, leaping it like predators at home in their environment. Canderous moved almost as silently, the whisper of leaves on his boots as he moved. Carth, not surprisingly made the most noise. I finally stopped him and told him we'd call when it was clear.

Without him crimping our style it took us less than ten minutes to reach the clearing. It didn't look good. There were three vehicles I identified as tanks, and four smaller ones.

“Jolee, you and Canderous deal with the troops. Bastila,” I motioned upwards. “We take the aircraft. T3, jam all their communications.”

We moved out on our missions.

Bastila

It was easy, actually. Dannika and I leaped up on the dorsal portion of the ship as their communications were jammed. She took the one directly overhead, I the one that circled. First we jammed their weapons so those cannon could not try for our flesh. Then we controlled the pilots, making them land just outside the perimeter. Below us Sasha Jolee and Canderous were dealing with the troops. There was a shriek of metal as Jolee ripped the gun tube from one of the tanks, but beyond that, silence. Carth arrived, and I felt Dannika direct him into the ship on the heels of Sasha and Jolee. As they dealt with the intuders Carth opened the weapons locker and pulled out half a dozen stun rods and Bothan stunners. He handed them out and Jolee ran toward my vehicle as Sasha ran to Dannika's. Five seconds later every one of the locals was unconscious.

We gathered, and Jolee motioned toward one building. “They are there.” He told us. “Juhani is kept separate, but the other two are there.”

“Why keep her separate?” Dannika asked.

“Because she can speak their language, and the others cannot.” Jolee commented.

Dannika looked at him, then at me. “Then we have two rescues, not one.”

Jolee

She was as decisive as I knew she would be. Bastila and Sasha were assigned to the rescue of Mission and Zaalbar; I would go in with her for Juhani. Canderous would be on the ventral guns, Carth on the stick. The two pairs ran down the ramp, and I felt it close behind us. Here was where the fun would begin.

29

Juhani

I sighed. Would their stupid questions never end? “I have told you several times, my race did not spring to life on this planet. I was born on Cathar, which is a planet about half of the known galaxy from here. My race is the dominant form on my planet, as yours is dominant here. I am not a cat, merely an analogue of the same species here. If you were to combine the DNA from the sample you took from me and bred it to a local animal of the same genotype it would be a hybrid which might not live very long.” I gave the grunting cough of my race's laugh. “Maybe it would learn to be sentient, but I could not guarantee it.”

“You are not being helpful.” The human replied.

I looked at the chains that linked my neck, hands and feet into a continuous link. “And chaining me like this is helpful?” I concentrated, and the chains from neck to ankles fell away. “I promised not to resist, but you treat me like a specimen. Should I be happy that you have not handed me over to vivisectionists?”

There was a feeling, and I followed it. I leaped to the cage they kept me in. “Swear by what you consider holy that you have not done that with the others!” They were silent as I screamed, ripping the bars from the floor. A round thing popped into my cell, and I was assaulted at the aural and audial level by a blast of energy.

Dannika

I felt Juhani's anguish even as we hit the doors. Humans saw us coming, then were thrown aside as the Force pushed ahead of me like a tornado. We reached the cell block, and found Juhani mewling in pain in a cell. We'd disabled a dozen men on the way, and seeing her anguish I didn't regret any of them.

I reached out, the lock snapping open, and caught Juhani. “My student, speak to me!”

Juhani looked up, then her hand rested against my cheek. “The others...” She whispered. I touched her forehead, then a look of horror covered my face. I pulled Juhani up onto my shoulder. I didn't need to see why, my mind was a blood red fury of an avenger. I went past Jolee like a missile already sure of it's target.

Bastila

It was horror upon horror. We breached their security and the first thing I found was Zaalbar. He was strapped to a table, and a human looked up from where he was ripping our friend from sternum to crotch with a blade. I reached out, and he was pinned to the wall by the force even as I tried to heal the wound inflicted. “Sasha, find Mission, protect her.”

Sasha

I saw the horror inflicted on Zaalbar, and Amma tu che Mata was not happy. “Sasha, find Mission, protect her.” I looked at what they had done and my heart hardened. I leaped into pursuit, Mission's energy leading me and I burst into yet another horror. There were three of them, one just lifting a knife from Mission's sternum as I entered.

All my teachers; My stepmother, evil step mother and Juhani had taught me right from wrong; what I saw was so far into the wrong I could not stand it. The one standing before me went backwards into computer consoles, his body imbedded in them from the fury of my reply. The one recording had enough time to scream before I imbedded him in the brick wall behind him. The last, the one with the naked bloody blade in his hand was not given enough time to scream. I threw him through a glass wall, through a grouping of computers and into a wall hard enough that his body was imbedded like a fossil.

I fell to my knees keening in my agony. I had learned to heal, but not enough, not enough! I screamed for help.

Dannika

I could feel Sasha's anguish, and was in motion as Jolee picked up Juhani behind me. Two darts, one Bastila, the other myself arrowed toward where Sasha keened. I arrived last to see Bastila and Sasha kneeling over a bloodied form. My mind refused to accept it even as I leaped forward. I caught one of Bastila's hands, then one of Sasha's. “We will not lose her!” I screamed.

We combined, feeling the injuries inflicted, and I directed us in the healing. It was like three surgeons working under the command of one, and we knitted the damage together. Both Sasha and Bastila relaxed, but I did not rest until Mission rested beneath our hands, inviolate.

We gasped, then sighed as Mission was repaired. I caught both Sasha and Bastila in my arms, kissing both as Mission's eyes opened.

Canderous

I held my blaster cannon, waiting at the ramp. Republic was at the controls, but it wasn't as if he'd be any good. It had reached the finely drawn point where nerves were wire stretched when they returned, all of our crew intact. I gave a sigh of relief as they came aboard, Jedi and not Jedi striding by me.

Dannika, last as she was first into battle always touched my arm. “”The crew is whole again.” She whispered. “Tell Carth to get us out of here.”

I passed the order as the ramp closed, and the Ebon Hawk aimed for space.

30

Dannika

The Ebon Hawk broke from the planet's gravity and I rejoiced. Our crew was well; both Zaalbar and Mission had been tormented, but we had repaid that evil. I drifted back to the medical bay, running my hand gently over Mission's face. To face such horrors, I had never imagined it. I sat there, my soul linking to hers. Then Carth interrupted. “Dannika? T3 is done fixing the Nav Computer.”

“”On my way.” I touched the face before me. “I will not let you be a sacrifice, Mission.” I whispered, kissing her on the cheek.

The Ebon Hawk leaped into flight, and my own arms, wings lent her power. Felt every hand, T3 at the drive connections, both Juhani and Canderous between. I dragged myself to the bridge as Carth aimed for that huge moon.

“Carth?” I asked.

“we're free of planetary gravity. We have enough supplies.”

I wanted to punch an arm in the air. “Can you detect our path here?”

“Give me a few.” He asked. I nodded heading aft. Zaalbar's latest roast included traces of the merdai I had enjoyed. He grinned, then began to serve. I tasted links to it in the food before me, but was not sure. Bastila laughed, stuffing meat and spice into my mouth as the same time that Jolee did the same with vegetables and spices to Sasha. Both of us stiffened as the tastes hetrodyned, then it was gone.

“Carth, take us home.”

Whatever prizes to whomever can tag the following items just from the description:

1: The type of ship firing the missiles; does not have to be specific class, just type.

2: remember the dictionary difference between what is a fruit and what is a vegetable. What is the red fruit and vegetable mentioned and define accordingly. In case you are confused, according to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fruit:

the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato, or pineapple.
3.
the edible part of a plant developed from a flower, with any accessory tissues, as the peach, mulberry, or banana.

Vegetable is:
any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food, as the tomato, bean, beet, potato, onion, asparagus, spinach, or cauliflower.
2.
the edible part of such a plant, as the tuber of the potato.

I was confused for a moment, Miriam Webster defines a fruit as having internal seeds, but a vegetable as having external, which a tomato obviously does not. Soldier on...

3: define properly a meat tea.

4:What is the Merdai stew she found?

5: What is she using to eat this Merdai stew? Remember, there are three different varieties, and I will accept any and all.

6: What type by name of the company that made the candy is Sasha eating?

7: What type of confection is Mission suddenly in love with?

8: What brown ale? If you've read my stuff I have mentioned this specific beverage in one of them. If you have not, let this be a chance to read my other stuff (Blatant plug!).

9: What beer did Carth gag at?


'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; 12-18-2011 at 11:48 PM.
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