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Thread: Star Wars: Tapestry, Volume III

  1. #16
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    The massive Bilbringi shipyards were eerily dark. Where normally lights and ships abounded, as the Spacewolf exited hyperspace there was almost nothing to show that this was the famed shipyard. Nothing, beyond the several corvettes and gunships that were now moving toward the ship.

    "Hold fire, people," Hartor said. "Remember, they're assuming we're friendly, let's keep them thinking that way."

    Du'ul was standing next to Hartor, taking in the same scene with a quiet smile on his face. "I don't think we'll have to worry about that Admiral." As he spoke, he nodded to the comm operator, who brought up an incoming transmission. The holoprojector showed a man fully dressed in armor, Mandalorian armor. His helmet was off, however, so right away Hartor knew this wasn't the famed bounty hunter. The man had a thick black mane of hair brushed back to reveal his face, complete with several scars.

    "Khazad Du'ul, you crazy son of a gundark!" The man's voice boomed, startling several crew members.

    "Jax Verot, you always had a way with words. I trust all went according to plan?"

    "Damn straight it did! Me and my boys came in nice and quiet, knocked out their comms and defenses, and slipped right out, just like you said. Took a bit of a beating from the ships in the area, but it wasn't too bad." Hartor took a quick assessment of the ships in view: two frigates, three gunships, and two corvettes. Several of them were scarred with damage from the firefight, but seemingly none with major damage.

    "Excellent work Jax, that's good news. And Pirta?" Du'ul asked the image.

    "I'm just fine Du'ul," a voice from off-image said, "You just worry about making sure there's plenty of room for us aboard that junker of yours."

    "I'm two steps ahead of you Pirta," Du'ul said, "Jax, send over that crew we talked about, and you can get moving on the next phase, if you're ready."

    "Du'ul, I've been ready for this for longer than you know. I'll send some Irregulars over to you, and I'll even loan you Pirta for this job. I figure she's more than capable of following orders, and besides, she's better off nagging you than me!" He momentarily went off screen as a fist bowled him over. "See?" he said as he came back into view, nursing his jaw.

    "That's more than fine by me, Jax. She's more than welcome. We'll be in contact with you soon enough."

    Hartor listened to this conversation with great interest. Now they would be carrying a few hundred soldiers who answered to this Jax Verot, who presumably answered to Du'ul. And this Pirta woman, being the only female aboard the ship would have an interesting time keeping the rest of the crew at bay, though she seemed more than capable of doing so.

    "I'll send a welcoming party down to greet our guests," Hartor said to Du'ul. "Who are these Irregulars?"

    Du'ul laughed, "That's Jax's doing. He fancies himself as a great general, which I may say he could probably give the Imperials a run for their money. But these Irregulars are his Mandalorian Irregulars, men he handpicked to fight for him. These are tough beings, all inducted into the Mandalorian culture, and all with a fierce loyalty to Jax." Sensing Hartor's misgivings, he continued, "Don't worry, Jax is an old friend, and he trusts me, so they trust me. And you, by association. They'll do what needs to be done."

    "I sure hope so. I must say, having this many Mandalorians aboard isn't exactly comforting, but I guess I'll just have to trust you." Hartor knew he didn't exactly have a choice. He was already deep within Du'ul's operation, and he was also the best man for the job, and the only man the original crew of the Spacewolf really trusted. There were some grumblings about their new Warlord, but Hartor promised them that he would make good on Du'ul's promises. There was a method to everything Du'ul did, Hartor knew that much. He just needed to have a little faith in the man.

  2. #17
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    Wiping his face with a clean towel, Todrin Doule looked at his face in the mirror. It seemed far older than what his twenty nine years should have accumulated. The scars from Ryloth had healed completely: the reminders of the boy he had left behind in a heat storm while he, Saral, and the last surviving stormtrooper had been rescued by a Sienar patrol shuttle.

    They had avoided the worst of the storm by sheltering in a narrow crevasse of the scoured, sandy landscape. Unfortunately, there had been no room for the corpse of Captain Krieg, their commanding officer, and the three of them had watched as the sandblast devoured the body, bones and all. Doule hadn’t shed a tear for the treasonous man, but watching the hot winds slowly grind away until Krieg was nothing but bones had affected Doule deeply. That boy had been out there somewhere, and no doubt suffered a similar fate, consumed by heat and dust and ignominy.

    As Doule dressed in a crisp new uniform he wondered—and not for the first time—if a trace of the boy would ever turn up: a few skeletal relics resurfacing from the Ryloth sands perhaps, or maybe an entire body, mummified by the arid wastes and locked in a visage of pain and terror. Doule shook the images from his mind and with them the memories of expeditions into the wastes to find the boy, all fruitless; of his subsequent investigations into the boy’s origin, discovering a decimated ranch on Dantooine and mysterious tales from neighbors, of careful probing into a string of events more faceted and fraught with conflict than he could possibly reconstruct after the fact; of contact with government entities who, politely but adamantly, persuaded him to stop. Doule knew that prying into the secrets of the Empire could lead to ‘early retirement,’ but he couldn’t deny an bizarre fixation on this boy.

    The corridors of the Imperial Intelligence Headquarters on Kuat were a disturbing affair: the deeper one went into the facility the more the décor turned from stark, even bland appointments and fixtures to surreal, confusing twists and turns along tall, narrow passageways. Niches and alcoves lined the halls, screened by sensor masks so furtive communiqués could be carried out with even further privacy. This was a world of “eyes and ears only” and Doule worked very hard to not even give the impression of eavesdropping as he was escorted to deep into the heart of the Ubiqtorate.

    He was deposited in a spacious anteroom with stiff-backed but well padded seats and a rather severe woman sitting behind a glossy black desk. To avoid the woman’s flirtatious gaze he kept his attention on a long tapestry lining the far wall. At first it seemed a bleak and aggressive piece of art, with threads often clashing and twisting among each other; those same threads, however, often came together smoothly with others to form complex and even beautiful motifs within the otherwise violent looking artwork. How like life, he thought, and as his eyes traced the intricate patterns his mind easily set aside recent harrowing events on Ryloth and the impending challenges he would face as he faced whatever consequences would come about from the loss of Tam Dawncaller.

    As he traced the intricate patterns, Todrin Doule found himself inextricably drawn into the tapestry…

  3. #18
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    As Reil and Cali dumped Lucrecia’s groceries on the kitchen counter, Virgil called to them from the living room.
    “You’re late Zealos, we were expecting to be eating by now.”

    Reil shrugged as he and Cali walked into the living room where Virgil and Lucrecia were sitting.
    “I meant to be back earlier, but there was some drinking last night.”

    Virgil didn’t look up from the data pad he was reading.
    “I’m trying to look surprised for your mother’s benefit, but it just isn’t working.”

    Lucrecia rolled her eyes.
    “Don’t strain yourself overly much on my account dear, you might smile by accident, and hurt yourself.” Virgil looked up to retort, but then thought better of it. Lucrecia turned to Zealos, “Don’t worry about it; I’ll have dinner ready in no time. Where’s Stephen?”

    Zealos looked at the floor.
    “He’s in the speeder. . .”

    “What’s he still doing in there?”

    “Hiding. . .”

    Lucrecia tilted her head in confusion.
    “Why would he be hiding?”

    “Uhmmm” Zealos paused as he tried to phrase his words carefully, “Cali and I won’t be staying for dinner.”

    Virgil’s head bolted upright at this news, but Lucrecia’s smile never wavered.
    “Don’t be silly dear, you’re under house arrest, we can’t let you can’t go out every night. Run and tell Stephen that you’re staying; he should stay for dinner too.”

    Reil looked his mother in the eye.
    “We’re leaving Cold Water. The last ferry before the freeze is running tonight, and Cali and I are gonna be on it.”

    Lucrecia finally stopped smiling, as Virgil calmly rose to his feet.
    “Ferry, eh? You’ll be heading to Mordin’s Harbour then.”

    Reil shook his head.
    “Close. Twillingate.”

    “Ah.” Virgil nodded sagely, “You’ll be running off to Sunny then?”

    “That’s the notion.” Reil turned to Cali. “Go upstairs and get our stuff, I’ll handle this.”

    Virgil sneered as Cali left the room.
    “You’ll handle this, will you? How, pray tell, will you handle running out on your mother and me; and violating the terms of your release?”

    “By driving really fast?” Zealos offered.

    Virgil glared.
    “I am less than amused.”

    Zealos grimaced.
    “I’ll alert the media. Look Virgil, I appreciate that you came down and bailed me and Cali out-”

    “Evidently.”

    Zealos ignored him and pressed on.
    “And I do feel bad for leaving you in a bind. . . Well bad is probably too strong a word.”

    “Might I suggest giddy, or euphoric?”

    Anyway, the point is, I came here for a reason, and it wasn’t to trade barbs with you. I got places to be, and I can’t wait for the TAR to finish its investigation. I’m sorry that it worked out like this, but I didn’t do it to spite you. It’s just the way things had to be. . .”

    Virgil shrugged and sat back down.
    “Very well, go then.”

    “Wait, what?”

    Virgil turned his attention back to his data pad.
    “Go, leave, flee, abscond, run, move, vacate, fly, depart, and decamp even; just get out of my house.”

    Reil eyed Virgil suspiciously.
    “That’s it? We can go?”

    Virgil grunted irritably.
    “I suppose you’ll have to wait for Miss Bellum to finish packing. Then yes, go away. Why, were you hoping for more?”

    “Nooo, but last time I ditched home, you were somewhat more emotional about it.”

    “The last time you left home, you were an insolent sixteen year old brat who was intent on quitting school and throwing away his future. Now you’re an insipid twenty-four year old criminal who wants to keep on being a criminal. You’ll have to excuse my apathy, but I believe the damage is done.”

    Zealos tilted his head.
    “H-uh, well that’s fine then-”

    “You’re letting him leave?”

    Both Zealos and Virgil turned to Lucrecia, who was now standing, trembling with rage. Virgil put down his data pad.
    “I am positive I just had this conversation with Zealos. If he wants to consort with criminals then that is his choi-”

    “HE’S YOUR SON, VIRGIL!” Lucrecia exploded, “He’s our son, my baby boy, and you’re just going to let him walk out on us for another eight years!?”

    Virgil didn’t flinch.
    “He’s not a baby Lucrecia, he’s a grown man who is free to make his own decisions. It’s not like I told him to run away the first time!”

    “And you didn’t ask him to come back either! Listen to yourself; Zealos is your son, he is your child, and you’re indifferent to if he lives or dies!”

    Zealos tried to intercede.
    “I’m not gonna die mom. . .”

    Lucrecia rounded on Reil with a fury.
    “Don’t even speak! You waltz into our lives after making a mess of yours and then as free as the breeze try and walk away again?! I will not let you tear this family apart a second time!”

    “HEY!” Reil felt his anger flare up, “I didn’t tear this family apart, I left because there wasn’t a family to tear apart. And I’m sorry if our broken home embarrasses you in front of your socialite friends, but that isn’t my problem!”

    The slap came before Zealos was ready for it, and he stumbled back in pain and surprise. He opened his mouth to say. . . something, but then he noticed the tears in his mother’s eyes.
    “How dare you say that! I love you. You’re my son, I’ll always love you, so you don’t get to belittle that love and demean it. And you don’t get to punish me for loving your father either.”

    “What are you talking about, I never-”

    “You never write, you never call, and you never visit. For almost a decade you punished me by ignoring me, leaving me to wonder whether you were alive or dead. You could have been dead; you might as well have been for all I heard from you. You spent hours arguing with your father the night you left, but you couldn’t spare two words for me. You thought Virgil was a bad father, and he had his faults, but was I so terrible you couldn’t even say goodbye? And I tried to forgive that pain; I ignored the fact that you were in trouble with the law, or that you were running around with young girls; I was just happy to have you home. So no, you do not get to just leave and tear my heart out again. I won’t allow it.”
    Zealos Reil thought he was hot
    so he left the sim-pod cold
    on his eighth mission he got shot
    and that's all there is to be told.
    Draw your own conclusions rookies.

  4. #19
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    The office’s anteroom had been austere and uninviting, but the office itself was grim and carried an air of foreboding. Centered among tall black columns was a broad desk, on one side of which sat Todrin Doule, bathed in pallid white light. Partially blinded by the bright spotlight, Todrin could barely make out the shadowy figure on the other side of the table.

    The theatricality employed by many echelons of the Empire often amused Doule. To his practical mind, that kind of drama was unnecessary flamboyance. The Empire was the greatest power in the galaxy, and it didn’t need to flaunt its might like a runty little aeron. An honest presentation of strength is all that is necessary to maintain order in the galaxy; anything more is just antagonistic. Still the man—as his voice indicated—managed to intimidate Doule.

    “Warrant Officer Todrin Doule. Born on Eraydia, Decimus Sector: son of the late Captain Wurth—“

    “I’m sorry, I thought I was here for a debriefing, not an inquisition.”

    “You’ll take care to speak when given permission, Officer Doule. The purpose of this… interview will reveal itself in time.

    “Officer Doule: son of the late Captain Wurth Baskalar and of Preena Doule, and brother of eight half-siblings. Verify this information.”

    “It is correct, sir.” What was this about? Was another of dear ol’ Dad’s illegitimate children causing trouble again? Would he have to remind the Empire once again that he had nothing to do with those scavenging non-entities?

    “Your current assignment: chief shuttle pilot aboard the Nuntius under the command of the late Captain Angel Krieg, sent on a mission to deliver a sensitive package to Maw Installation. Verify.”

    “Yes, sir, that’s correct.” Doule swallowed. So they were going to debrief him after all.

    “Describe the status of this mission.”

    “Mission failed, sir, due to…” he searched his mind for a proper way to describe what had happened, “due to a catastrophic astrogation mishap.”

    The enigmatic interrogator leaned further back into the shadows. “Describe the nature of this ‘catastrophic mishap, Officer Doule.”

    Doule took a deep breath. If he explained things correctly he might be able to get out of this without sounding completely barvy. “We set in a course from Temen III to the Maw Installation, but as the nav computer calculated the trip it… it hiccupped. Or something did. All of a sudden the screen reads we’re over Ryloth, and falling fast.”

    “Over Ryloth,” repeated the interrogator. “What happened then?”

    “We… crashed, sir. Most of the crew perished at this point.”

    “Name the survivors.”

    “Myself, my copilot Seeley Saral, and…” Another deep breath. If Doule explained the true nature of the death of the others this ‘debriefing’ could turn much more complicated, and possibly deadly. But if he lied to a member of the Ubiqtorate… “Captain Krieg, one stormtrooper, and Tam—I mean, the ‘sensitive package.’”

    “Our records show three survivors,” offered the interrogator. Though his voice remained nonchalant and businesslike, Doule could sense the unspoken challenge to his report.

    “Captain Krieg was... removed from his office… by the aforementioned stormtrooper per the conditions of Standing Contingency Order 65. The ‘sensitive package’ died of exposure to a local heat storm.”

    “And there is proof to corroborate these events…”

    “Krieg’s remains were recovered by the rescue team and the identity was confirmed by specialists.”

    “And the boy?” It was the first time the interrogator had referred to Tam as anything but a ‘package.’

    “He eluded us and fled into the desert. I can only assume his body is out there somewhere. We barely survived it ourselves.”

    The interrogator responded with a pregnant silence. Doule had the impression that if he added anything else to his statement it would only hurt matters. “Sir,” he said quietly, “if I may add: I made several attempts to find the body after my rescue. After that I attempted to investigate the boy’s history…” A wave of horror washed over Doule. This was the purpose of his meeting with an agent of Imperial Intelligence: he had delved too deeply into a government secret (though he’d not really learned anything that sensitive) and he would now pay the ultimate price for it. His eyes closed, his body steeled, he lowered his head and awaited whatever pronouncement of death he would face.

    “Todrin Doule, I am hereby authorized to offer you the rank of Captain in the Imperial Navy, with command of the Imperial Communications Vessel Inun. Do you accept?”

    A captain? Not a sentence, but an advancement? Doule was a warrant officer, a non-combatant. Receiving a commission and captaincy was unheard of. Something truly bizarre was happening here, and he had a feeling that if he refused he’d never be allowed to speak of what little he already knew. Confused, worried about what his future may hold, but eager to follow this proverbial lagomorph into its warren Doule said, “I accept, sir.”

    “Excellent.” The man across the desk got to his feet and extended a hand into the pillar of light encompassing Doule. Doule took the hand and gave it a firm, professional pump, then stood at attention and saluted. The enigmatic interrogator mirrored the stance and relieved the gesture. “You will report to Admiral Hermod at Orbital Docking Station CR-27 East for further debriefing...”

  5. #20
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    The sound of hundreds of beings moving about the hangar, maneuvering hoversleds packed with equipment from ships, was both wonderful and jarring to Dyl Hartor. Wonderful because his ship was finally alive again, as opposed to the past few weeks where they had just been sitting in space, now they were at work again, taking on new cargo, new blood, and it breathed life into his crew. Already the Mandalorians were becoming part of the crew, and the crew were becoming parts of the Mandalorians. He knew they would never fully be one, but it was as good as could be. His men were inspecting the weapons and equipment, of which there were all kinds, some Hartor hadn't even seen before, and the Mandalorians were showing his men how to better use their weapons, armor, and equipment.

    There was still that uneasy feeling in the back of Hartor's mind though. It was unshakable, but he knew he was just being paranoid. Besides, the Mandalorians were under Du'ul's command, and Hartor's by corollary. As these thoughts crossed his mind, the de facto leader of the mercenaries crossed his vision. Pirta Verot was ruggedly beautiful, easily a head taller than most men, and walked with the confidence and power that comes with intimate knowledge of the self. From his vantage point on a walkway above the hangar, Hartor watched her as she moved deftly around her men, helping them where they needed it and giving them a quick shot to the back of the head when they needed one. Her hair hung loosely at her shoulders, sandy blonde hair resting on deep red armor.

    As she made her way to the walkway, Hartor continued to watch the activity below. She stood next to him for a moment, taking in the sights, noting something on a datapad that was strapped to her wrist. "Quite the crew you've got here," Hartor said after a beat.

    "That's right," she said, flashing a smile. "They're some of the best there is. Not many beings can say that they've walked away from the Irregulars alive. Except for maybe a few of those Deathwatch scum. But that's beside the point."

    "Well I can certainly say that I've seen Nek dogs less well-trained, that's for sure." He produced a package of generic cigarras, and oferred one to her. She shook her head, producing two chrome tubes out of her armor, which contained two Haruun Kalian cigarras. Taking one, Hartor thanked the stars for having control over his own ship. It meant his rules, not the Empire's.

    As the smoke filled the air she said, "No, they're not trained. They're disciplined. These men have the brains to think through any situation, and the guts to get the job done. It's what we call the ramikadyc, the "commando state of mind", great determination to get the job done. They're not unlike your stormtroopers." She took a puff on the cigar. "But the difference between my Irregulars and your stormtroopers is that the Irregulars have the support, the brotherhood between them and their leaders to help them make it through. The Empire doesn't have that."

    Hartor thought that over for a second. "You make a valid point. It's a very good thing we have you on our side then. I'd hate to be looking down the business end of your rifle, or of any one of those rifles down there." A few minutes passed in silence, each keeping their thoughts private. Hartor glanced at Pirta, making his observations about her while she did the same to him. Knowing how to read people was something he was fairly skilled at, but he could get nothing out of Pirta. She was in a state of lockdown. It was intriguing to Hartor.

    She smiled, sensing his curiosity. "Well Admiral, I should probably get back to my men. An army without a leader is just a bunch of weapons waiting to go off." She turned and made her way back down to the hangar bay floor, leaving Hartor to finish his cigarra alone.

  6. #21
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    After verifying the newly acquired security ident cylinders, the reception droid informed Doule that he was expected and directed him toward a secured meeting room, three levels up.

    This was all happening too fast. Only hours ago he was a non-commissioned officer who had luckily survived a top secret transport mission and, having recovered, poked around into the history of the boy he was intended to transport. Now, after a brief but perilous interview with a member of Imperial Intelligence, he was a navy captain with a new ship at his command. Such circumvention of advancement protocol was usually an indication of high-level involvement, but what the highest levels of the Empire wanted with him was a mystery. Doule’s mind raced with possibilities: optimistically, he was a recognizably skilled soldier and the perfect choice as commanding officer of a ship despite his military position; pessimistically—and perhaps more realistically—he was the perfect scapegoat for a politically suicidal position, disposable no matter the outcome of his service. Everything in between, or all at once, seemed within the realm of possibility as well.

    Three levels down, Doule stepped into a broad, grey meeting room. Around the large circular table were a dozen men, all wearing the rank insignia of captain, minus one who stood with the broad plaque of an admiral displayed on his chest. Doule oriented himself to this man and saluted. “Captain Todrin Doule, reporting as instructed.”

    Admiral Harmod returned the gesture. “Welcome, Captain. Have a seat.”

    Doule did so, painfully aware of the mockery and thinly veiled disdain from the other captains at the table; captains who appeared to have the experience and political acumen befitting ambitious Imperials. Doule had no such aspirations, preferring the satisfaction of fulfilled duty.

    “As I was saying,” said Harmod, tapping controls to make several holographic ships appear in the air above the table, “at twelve ships we can hardly be considered a full squad, but our small size and technological advantage will make us an effective force for our given objectives. Assault Teams Aurek and Besh are light but powerful, each with an interdictor cruiser and a pair of Loronar Strike-class cruisers; a pursuit line consists of a Carrack-class cruiser, Nebulon-B, and a pair of blockade runners, all ideal for interception tactics.”

    “Pardon me, Admiral.” One of the captains in the room leaned forward. “I understand the state-of-the-art Loronars and the swift pursuit line, but this is hardly enough to even take against pirates. I mean, that star destroyer is a Victory I; even in a surprise attack we’d be hard pressed to coordinate our firepower to make any difference.”

    The admiral’s smile was inscrutable. “Indeed, Captain Whode, firepower will be a challenge, requiring unprecedented coordination. Luckily, that has been taken care of.” He pressed another button, and the viewpoint of the hologram zoomed in to the small shape indicating the twelfth ship of the squad. Its markings indicated it was much smaller than the others, smaller even than the corvettes. “This ship here is the lynchpin of the squad. Its communications abilities… well, I don’t know if I can call them ‘innovative’ but I’ve seen the experiments regarding its capabilities and if they function as projected the Empire won’t have to worry about coordinated attacks again. Thanks to the Inun, we’ll wipe the Rebellion from the galaxy and peace will be restored.”

    The Inun. His ship. It was all making sense for Doule now. As captain of the “lynchpin of the squad,” he would be at least partially responsible for the smooth running of this experimental squad, and for carrying out whatever “communications abilities” this ship had. Because he was a recently commissioned officer, because he had no political or military ambition, he would be beholden and subservient to the much more experienced officers of the line. Or so went the logic of Imperial commanders. Doule wondered just how far his duties would require him to go...

    The meeting concluded after a few more points of logistics and organization, after which Admiral Harmod dismissed the assembly. Doule remained in his seat, attempting to soak in the many dangerous aspects of his situation. It was some time before he realized Harmod was still in the room.

    “Too much for a former warrant officer to take in?” Harmod sauntered around the table to stand near Doule, taking a seat near him. “I’ve seen your face before. You think you’re a puppet captain, don’t you.”

    Straight-faced, Doule said, “It crossed my mind, sir.”

    “Well, relax. You were handpicked for this job. I don’t know the details of it myself, but I know you were requested by name. They don’t do that for puppet captains.” He slapped Doule’s knee, as if he were some father figure, or if they were old drinking buddies. “Come on. I’m sure you’d finally like to see your ship…”

  7. #22
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    Hartor woke in a cold sweat. The nightmares were starting again, having returned from whatever dark corner of the mind they had been hiding in previously. These were not the nightmares of most people. For Hartor, his nightmares were much more tame, usually involving his life going in a direction he hated; it always involved him never leaving home. He remembered each one vividly, using them to push himself far and beyond his current position. This time was different. This nightmare he could not remember except for vague feelings of helplessness and fear. Those were staples of his dreams, but this time just felt different. He got up, dressed, and headed toward the bridge for the morning report.

    The ship was still in hyperspace, having left Bilbringi hours ago. The crew was unaware of their destination, and Hartor could sense their distrust and dissatisfaction at that fact. They just have to trust me, he thought, much like I need to trust Du'ul. He half listened to the report from his lieutenant, thinking instead of the mission to come. The Mandalorians had been briefed on their part, and whatever crew members were involved were also briefed and held to secrecy for the duration of the mission. Hartor's own part in the mission was set in stone, though he was still unsure of Du'ul's role. He would have to ask him about that; it would not do to leave any loose ends.

    Almost on cue, Du'ul arrived on the bridge, flanked by two Mandalorians, one of which, Hartor noticed, was Pirta. Perhaps she was acting as an impromptu bodyguard for the man, though Hartor was hard-pressed to understand why he would need one. As the group moved into one of the briefing rooms, Hartor outlined the report from his lieutenant. "Warlord, the crew seems ready to play its part in the mission, and the teams are also set and ready to go. All ship systems are showing green, and we have all of the necessary codes we will need."

    "Excellent work, Admiral," Du'ul said. "I trust that you're prepared to play your role?" Du'ul seemed distant, as if he were focusing on something else, somewhere else. The inattention threw Hartor off as it was so uncharacteristic of Du'ul.

    "I am. My only question is what role you will be playing in this whole thing. You haven't mentioned anything of it at all." Hartor sat down at the table next to Du'ul, while Pirta and the other Mandalorian sat opposite them.

    "I have not, nor do I plan on revealing my part. Consider it part of my mystique, if you will, Admiral."

    Hartor paused, trying to formulate his words in a respectable manner. "I understand that, but if I am to execute this mission well, I will need to understand the parts each member will play so that the mission can run smoothly. I'd rather we have that than keep your mystique intact."

    Du'ul smiled, and said, "Admiral, you always were a stickler for details. And you never were one to mince words. I like that. Well, if you must know, I will be playing a backup role, in the event that something should go wrong I will be able to step in to complete the mission. I trust that is satisfactory for you?"

    Hartor thought that it was less than he would have liked, but he supposed that it would do. He trusted Du'ul to do the right thing either way. He wouldn't do anything stupid. "Yes, Warlord, that's fine by me." Turning to the Mandalorians, specifically Pirta, Hartor asked, "Is your team prepared?"

    "You bet," she said, her eyes flicking from Du'ul to Hartor. She rested finally on Hartor, and continued, "We've got our kits together, and my men are pretty amped for this. Not every day we get to be stealthy about things."

    Hartor smiled, "Excellent, I'm sure this whole thing will go smoothly, but it will be nice to have some backup there with us in case things go south." The door slid open just then, revealing the conn officer standing at attention. "Yes, officer?" Hartor asked.

    "Sir, we'll be approaching Praesitlyn in less than an hour."

  8. #23
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    Things had not gone entirely to plan. That was plainly evident to Hartor, who sat in the main control room of the Intergalactic Communications Center, his pistol pressed against the temple of an extremely nervous technician. The man was no older than twenty standard years, and he had clearly not anticipated anything quite like what happened to ever occur in his lifetime. He had been severely mistaken. The room was filled with monitors and workstations, most occupied by other technicians and administrators. At each exit, and at several strategic locations throughout the room, the Mandalorians Du'ul had brought along for the mission stood at attention, their armor and weaponry enough of a deterrent for anyone thinking of becoming a hero.

    As Hartor glanced about the room, he could see Pirta standing close to where Du'ul was typing furiously, but purposefully, into a workstation. Suddenly, he stopped, and Hartor could almost feel the pleasure that the man felt at the accomplishment of the task. It filled Hartor with a sense of peace, almost serenity, that the mission had not been for naught, that blood had not been spilled for no reason. He flashed back to the initial breach of the building, thinking about the several defense troopers that he had gunned down. They had been the first men he had ever killed, but somehow he managed to put himself past that and continue with the mission. A mission that had gone very smoothly, almost too smoothly.

    Du'ul turned to Hartor and smiled, "We have what we've come for, Admiral, I believe it's time for us to leave." He moved past the young man and Hartor and swiftly moved to the door.

    Hartor turned to Pirta and said, "Right, let's get a move on then. Are the charges set?"

    "Stang, I knew I forgot something," she said. Her face hidden by her helmet, Hartor couldn't tell if the sarcasm was accompanied by a smile or not. He assumed the best and returned one.

    "Well, I know how you Mandalorians can be," he said. His comlink chirped, and he acknowledged it. "Admiral," came Du'ul's voice on the other end. "I think it's best if we make sure that this station cannot continue to be operational after we leave."

    "I understand sir," he replied, "The charges are set and will be set off as soon as we're clear."

    "I don't think you do understand, Admiral," his voice had a bit of an edge to it now, "I mean that I think it would be best if we left no one to care for the station once we left."

    Hartor understood what he was saying now. Killing people in self-defense was one thing, but killing in cold blood? That was something he wouldn't have done even if he was still a part of the Empire. He still had some semblance of honor, and he was not about to let that bit of himself go, not yet anyway. He was about to start telling Du'ul exactly what he thought of that suggestion and where he could put it when a little voice in the back of his head made its presence known. If they left the people on the station alive, they could probably get the station up and running much sooner than otherwise. And if they got it back up and running, they would be able to track the Spacewolf to its final destination...and bring the might of the Empire to bear. If that happened, Hartor would be responsible for the deaths of all of his men, the ones who looked to him for their safety and security. Thousands of men, as opposed to the few in front of him. He shook his head, realizing that he had let his mind wander for far too long. He activated the comlink and said, "I...understand sir. We'll take care of things here."

    He looked to Pirta and said, "We have our orders, let's get this over with." As he flipped the safety on his pistol, which caused the young man in front of him to jump slightly, Pirta grabbed his wrist.

    "We Mandos may be killers, but we always have a good reason to kill," her voice was as hard as durasteel now. "I don't care what the warlord says" - she looked up to the other warriors in the room - "we do not kill unarmed combatants. The charges will take care of everything they could possibly work with, next to nothing will be left of the infrastructure. Trust me on that one." With what Hartor knew was a look that bored into his soul, she stared him down until he came to his decision.

    Flipping the safety back, he looked around and said, "Fair enough, let's get a move on then, we don't want to stick around for too much longer."
    __________________________________________________ __________

    As the shuttle lifted off, leaving the station behind, Du'ul turned to Hartor. "Admiral, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I had asked you to take care of the people in that station."

    Hartor swallowed, knowing this conversation was bound to come up. "You did sir, and we did, the best way I felt possible."

    "Oh?" Du'ul feigned ignorance. "Please explain."

    "The charges that we set are going to level the place, and so they would likely be killed in the process anyway." As if on cue, as the shuttle was about to break atmosphere, the pilot made the rest of the crew on the shuttle aware that the station had just suffered a catastrophic explosion. By the time emergency crews responded, the Spacewolf would be well away from the place.

    Du'ul looked at Hartor for a few moments, his eyes still except for a barely perceptible glance toward Pirta. Had Hartor not been paying close attention he would not have caught it at all. "Fine. But next time, I ask that you listen to my suggestions. I have a reason for doing everything Admiral, I trust you will not forget that."

  9. #24
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    “Yes. Mm-hmm. Yes, that’s him. What’s his condition? And Robinowitz? So they’ll. . . excellent.”

    Dante muted the comlink with his hand. “Looks like they’ll be out in two days,” he whispered over his shoulder to an eagerly hovering Bear. “So just a little bit longer planetside here and we’re off.”

    “You sure they’ll be well enough to fly themselves?” Bear inquired, his voice low rumble.

    Dante held up one finger and removed his hand from the microphone. “And you say they’ll be fully functional by then? Well, yes. . . well enough—yeah.” Dante nodded silently. “Perfect! Thank you. . . you too.” He snapped the comlink off and tucked it back into his belt.

    “We’ll just book them passage to the right sector and Lanith will arrange for them to be picked up. They won’t be alone.”

    “Right.”

    Bear swung his arms and let out a sigh. “So. . . what now?”

    Dante shrugged. “Whatever we want for another 30 hours or so. There are a few places to see here, if you’re interested.” He left the com-booth and entered the queue of a tram headed to the city center. “Besides, we should get out of this neighborhood.”

    “No kidding,” affirmed Bear as he eyed the dim alleyways of the block. “Why did we come here anyway?”

    Because I forgot that where we were supposed to go led us right past the office I used to go to every day.

    “Took a wrong turn.”

    “Of course,” Bear muttered as he fell in line behind his companion. There were a few dozen sentients in line with them, and a smattering more milling around the scantily-lit corridors. They had waited for the tram for nearly five minutes when Bear snapped his eyes open wide. “Sith!” he bellowed, his voice filling the station.

    Dante, and the half-dozen sentients in front of him, jumped and whirled around. “What happened?” he demanded.

    “Forgot my—pardon—satchel back at that store!” said Bear, pushing his way through the line of startled and grumpy sentients. “I’m gonna—‘cuse me—go grab it—sorry—real quick!”

    “Bear, wait! It’ll be gone by. . .” he was already making his way down the walkway. “. . . guess I’ll wait.”

    The time passed like a glacier on Hoth. He’ll be all right, Dante told himself as he stood in line, fidgeting. He can take care of himself. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen down here? He considered the question. Bad question, he concluded and sprinted after Bear.

    Heaving the air in and out of his lungs, Dante strained to catch up. He shouldn’t have, Dante fumed as he boarded a people mover, shoving past the other passengers. The store was not far, just a few more bends on the walkway, and Dante figured he would be able to catch up in the long stretch before the second turn. There was hardly anyone on the walkway now. His lungs rebelling, Dante leaned against the rail to catch his breath. The stretch was long enough that he could ride it out, he figured. Wiping his forehead, he waiting until he rounded the corner and could survey the street.

    The block was nearly deserted, and Bear was nowhere in sight. “Where could he be? He couldn’t have gotten that far. And I thought I saw him ahead. . . by that Duros. . .” The Duros in question was quickly retreating into a side passage with a few other sentients, supporting a figure who stumbled alongside him. They could almost be a group of buds going home after a few rounds at the pub, except for that the Duros was wearing. Straining his eyes, Dante made out the red wings and blade crudely colored on the sentient’s jacket. And the man alongside him, head lolling down, was. . .

    “Bear.”

    Rapidly, Dante considered his options, rejecting one after another nearly as quickly as they came to him. This was more than he could do alone. His mouth pulled into a thin line, he snatched up his comlink again and ducked into an alcove. He punched in a short sequence of numbers and listened as it connected.

    “Operator, how can I help you?” a thin voice emitted from the tinny speaker. “Hello?”

    Dante hesitated. This could be dangerous. But it might be Bear’s only shot. “Connect me to Junction Security. Now.”

  10. #25
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    Zealos felt his guilt quickly being replaced with anger.
    “You won’t let me? I don’t recall asking for permission! I’m twenty-four; my mommy doesn’t get to tell me what to do anymore!”

    “If you leave this house”, Lucrecia whispered, “You’ll never be welcome here again.”

    “Because y’all were so welcoming before.”

    “I MEAN IT! If you walk out that door. . .” Lucrecia looked away, “You’re not my son. If you leave; don’t call, don’t come back. I don’t want you if you’re just going to leave us again.”

    Zealos stood silent for a minute, but was saved the burden of replying by Cali, who had dragged their container to the bottom of the stairs.
    “Ummm. . . Are you ready?”

    Reil moved to help her carry the container.
    “Yeah, we’re going.”

    Lucrecia turned on Cali with a fierceness Reil had never seen come from his mother.
    “You’re going to run out on us for her!? Some manner less, trashy, diseased schutta you picked up on Tatooine!?”

    She practically spit out Tatooine, which in hindsight was a baffling place to put the emphasis on her scorn, but her venom was adequately conveyed regardless. Reil waited for Cali to react explosively, but she didn’t even look at Lucrecia as she hauled their crate to the door. Reil was about to react for Cali, but she grabbed his arm and whispered, “Let it go”, as she pulled him toward the door. Lucrecia made a sound like she had something left to say, one last insult to hurl at Cali perhaps, as they crossed the threshold, but it was cut off by Zealos slamming the door behind him.

    Reil took the crate from Cali, and began hauling it to the speeder.
    “You didn’t have to take that from her, y’know.”

    Cali shrugged.
    “She didn’t mean it. Not really, any how. . .”

    “What she lacked in conviction was more than compensated with spite and petulance; she had no call dragging you into all this.”

    Cali scoffed.
    “I’m fair certain I was already part of this, even before you decided to go and get yourself disowned.”

    Reil only managed to grunt a reply as he hefted the crate into the trunk of the speeder. Cali was silent for a moment, as she considered her words carefully.
    “Look, Reil. . .”

    Reil turned to her as he closed the trunk of the speeder.
    “Yeah?”

    “If, you know, you wanted to go back, and smooth things over with your folks, that’d be okay.”

    Reil cocked his head to the side in confusion.
    “What?”

    Cali looked embarrassed.
    “I don’t wanna stay, or anything, but it’s your family, and if we needed to wait for the next ferry, so’s you aren’t disowned anymore, I could bear it.”

    “. . . What?”

    Cali frowned.
    “What do you mean what? I’m giving you a chance to make amends, you nerf-herder!”

    Reil cocked an eyebrow.
    “And this is something you think I wanted. . ?”

    Cali was flustered.
    “I. . . Well. . . Sort of? Most people think family is important, you don’t wanna even try to leave on better terms with your folks?”

    Reil entertained the notion, briefly.
    “Not really, no.”

    Cali glowed beet red.
    “Oh. I see.”

    Reil gave the proposal some more thought.
    “How exactly was this plan of yours supposed to play out, anyhow?”

    Cali sighed.
    “Forget it, let’s just get going.”

    “No, I’m curious. Was I just supposed to go back in, and give some sort of sorrowful apology?”

    Cali glared as she walked around to the passenger side door.
    “Shut up and get in the speeder.”

    “Or, were we gonna go back in, and yell psych or something, like it was some sort of sick joke?”

    “I will hurt you unless you get into this speeder, right now!” Cali called as she closed her door.

    Reil grinned as he settled himself in the driver’s seat.
    “I’m touched that you care so much about it, just doesn’t seem like you thought this all the way through, y’know?”

    “Stop talking, or I will kill you.” Cali threatened through clenched teeth.

    “Didn’t think what through?” Stephen called from the back seat.

    “NOTHING.” Cali said very loudly, ending the discussion.

    Reil turned the speeder around, and began driving towards the docks. Stephen waited until they were out of the driveway, before he started asking questions.
    “So, how’d it go?”

    Reil shrugged.
    “It went. I don’t really think there’s a good way to run away from home.”

    “At least not a second time.” Stephen conceded, “Was Virgil as bad as you expected?”

    Zealos shook his head.
    “I’m not sure if he was better, or worse, but he defiantly didn’t behave the way I expected. Mom was worse than I expected, much worse.”

    Stephen scratched his head.
    “How bad was that?”

    “Chewed out Virgil, then chewed out me, then disowned me. Called Cali a diseased schutta, to top the whole thing off.”

    Stephen was silent for the rest of the trip, as he considered this. By the time they reached the docks, the sun had finally set. Fog started rising off the river, and it began to rain; the water coming down in torrents, as the air finally cooled enough for it to condense. Cali loaded their luggage onto the barge, as Zealos gave the keys to the speeder back to Stephen.
    “I guess this is goodbye. Take care of yourself, Steve.”

    Stephen grimaced.
    “You too. I guess, after how things went at the house, we won’t expect to hear from you anytime soon, will we?”

    “If you consider never to be outside of sometime soon, then yeah, I guess you might have a bit of a wait.”

    “Look, Zealos. . . It was good seeing you again. Maybe you could drop me a line sometime?”

    “Maybe. I should go, ‘fore Cali talks the driver into leaving without me.”

    Stephen didn’t wait to see his brother depart. He was already pulling out of the parking lot before the ferry set sail.
    Last edited by Ice Hawk; 04-29-2011 at 04:16 AM.
    Zealos Reil thought he was hot
    so he left the sim-pod cold
    on his eighth mission he got shot
    and that's all there is to be told.
    Draw your own conclusions rookies.

  11. #26
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    Wind and rain mercilessly pounded the boat, as it traveled down the river Tweeg. While the ferry was never in any actual danger, it did make life miserable for its passengers, quartered on the open deck. This amounted to Reil and Cali, and half a ton of packed grain.
    Cali had the coat Reil had bought here strung between two crates, in a sort of makeshift tent. It wasn’t working, as she was still soaked. Cold an irritable, she turned to voice her displeasure with Reil, who was using his coat as a blanket, and making a serious effort to fall asleep despite the damp.
    “You said we were going to be ridding a ferry down river.”

    Reil groaned, and rolled over to face her.
    “We are on the ferry. Shut up and go to sleep.”

    “This”, Cali pointed emphatically to the deck of the boat, “is not a ferry. It’s barely a barge. It’s a borderline raft.”

    Reil sat up and tried to wipe the sleep from his eyes, only to find his fingers numb. He began rubbing his hands together to try and keep them alive.
    “They’re the same kriffing thing. I think I mentioned something about pitching you off if you kept complaining. . .”

    Cali stuck her tongue out at Reil.
    “Shows what you know.”

    Reil rolled his eyes.
    “Fine, what’s the frelling difference?”

    “For one, ferries carry passengers; barges carry cargo.”

    “Not many people take the ferry this time of the month”, Reil mumbled as he put his jacket on properly, “Give ya three guess why. . .”

    “Plus, ferries have rounded bottoms; this one is a single flat deck.”

    Reil looked at Cali with scrutiny.
    “How in the hells would you know that? You grew up in a desert!”

    Cali was indignant.
    “I can read, you know.”

    “Yes, but I never see you doin’ it. What, did you filch an encyclopedia when I wasn’t lookin’? I mean if it isn’t ferries and barges, you’re on about the impossibility of an agricultural industry here. . .”

    “This weather should destroy crops!”

    “Well it doesn’t. You’re on a boat filled with crop, so we can plainly see that the system works.”

    “But how can it-?”

    “I don’t know! Maybe a Jedi did it! I’m a pilot, I fly around and blow things up, I do not understand the complexities of nautical engineering, or agricultural developments, and I still don’t know why you do. If you aren’t going to sleep, go somewhere else!”
    Reil laid back down and turned away from Cali, who sat and stewed for a couple of minutes, before taking Reil’s advice, and went exploring.

    There were narrow paths through the crates of grain that was piled on the deck, but Cali had to feel her way for them, as the night sky above was overcast with rain clouds. More than once she slipped on the wet decking, but as she made her way aft ship, she spotted the light from the driver’s tower, which sat a ways above the cargo. She had to climb over several crates, because the path was hidden, but she finally made it to the door. As she entered the bridge of the boat, the driver turned to see who was intruding.
    “Oh, it’s you.” He mumbled as he turned his attention back to steering the boat through the inky black.

    Cali cautiously moved deeper into the bridge.
    “Is it okay for me to be here?”

    He turned to her in puzzlement.
    “Sure, why not? It’s not like anyone else is taking up space. I was gonna go, and get yeh and yer friend to come in a bit, out of the cold, but I can’t be leaving the controls too long, and it’s tricky finding your way in the dark.”

    Cali rubbed her arm, which had been bruised in one of the falls.
    “You can say that again.”

    He squinted a bit, then made a minor course adjustment.
    “When you’re feeling a bit warmer, maybe you should go back and get your friend. I bet he’s chilled something fierce, and wouldn't mind sitting in here.”

    Cali grinned capriciously, but the driver didn’t turn around to see it.
    “Oh, no, he loves the rain. Can’t get enough of it.”

    The driver scratched his head in bemusement as he peered into the storm.
    “Really?”

    “Oh, yes” Cali nodded emphatically, “He’d be mad if I disturbed him, I bet.”

    The driver shrugged.
    “T’each their own I guess. Wouldn’t be out on a night like this if I was a fish, myself.”

    Cali rested against the far wall of the bridge, as the driver absentmindedly hummed a tune to himself. It sounded mournful, and piqued Cali’s interest.
    “What song is that?”

    The driver stopped humming.
    “Naught but an old man’s song.”

    “Could you sing it?” Cali insisted.
    The driver chuckled, and then, somewhat off pitch, began to sing.
    Oh! Ye'll take the high road, and I'll take the low road,
    And I'll be in Suthland afore ye,
    But me and my true love will never meet again,
    On the sunny, sunny banks of Lake Loman.

    'Twas then that we parted, In yon shady glen,
    On the steep, steep side of Ben's Coven,
    Where, in golden hue, The river shore we view,
    And the moon coming out in the gloaming.

    The wee birdies sing, and the wild flowers spring,
    And in sunshine the waters sleeping.
    But the broken heart kens, that we’ll never meet again
    On the sunny, sunny shore of Lake Loman.
    Zealos Reil thought he was hot
    so he left the sim-pod cold
    on his eighth mission he got shot
    and that's all there is to be told.
    Draw your own conclusions rookies.

  12. #27
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    The door to the briefing room slid openly with a hiss, revealing Du'ul hunched over the table, studying several holocharts that were displayed in front of him. He was so deeply focused that Hartor thought he hadn't noticed him coming in, until he raised his hand to signal Hartor not to say anything. For a few minutes he stood there, watching Du'ul plot courses and study charts. He grew more and more focused as time went on, his movements becoming faster and yet deliberate at the same time. Suddenly he stood, fixing Hartor with one of his gazes. After a pause, he smiled. “Well Admiral, I think we may have our course.”

    Hartor returned the smile, though he noticed he was putting less mirth behind it than usual, Du'ul cocked his head ever so slightly, almost as if he, too, had noticed the slight change. “Most excellent, I'll be sure to get us underway once we exit hyperspace.” He paused, then continued. “Warlord, I'm beginning to wonder just what it is that we're chasing here. You've mentioned treasure beyond our wildest imaginations, but you haven't exactly mentioned what it actually is.”

    “You're most certainly right Admiral,” Du'ul replied. “But tell me, does it really matter what we're going after? You have command of a ship, of men who follow you and respect you, and you have the chance to become richer than any being in the galaxy. Shouldn't any one of those things be enough?”

    Hartor drew his lips into a tight line. “Well, normally yes, but...well, say it's mere curiosity.”

    “Ah,” Du'ul said with a short laugh, “curiosity. You know, curiosity killed the sand panther.” He paused, almost assessing the benefits of telling Hartor what it is he was going after. “Alright, I'll tell you. But first, I must ask you a question: do you believe in the power of the Force?”

    Hartor gave a small grin, “The Force? The one that is supposed to hold the universe together? I've heard the stories, and obviously it must exist, otherwise Jedi would not have lasted as long as they did. But myself, I guess I would have to say that I'd rather feel the weight of a blaster in my hand than hope that this Force would be there to help me out.” He regarded Du'ul curiously. “Why what difference does it make?”

    Du'ul smiled, “Oh it makes all the difference my friend.” He pointed to a star chart, that had focused on an empty area of space out past the Rim. “This is the place that we will find what we're looking for. What is hidden here, in this pocket of space, is a world lost to time, a place very few beings have ever heard of, and even less have visited. This is the place where, thousands of years ago, a warlord placed a great treasure deep within the recesses of the planet. This is the planet Aeterna.”

    Hartor had a hard time believing that the empty bit of space held anything at all besides a few wayward asteroids or a comet passing through. He was almost sure that Du'ul had lost it, that he was leading them on a wayward quest for nothing, and that Hartor would have nothing to look forward to but a quick and summary execution from the Empire. Almost. There was a little voice in the back of his mind that told him that this was real, that Du'ul wasn't playing him for a fool. That he could actually find this treasure and never have to worry about anything again. And as he listened, the voice became louder and louder until all his former worries were nearly mute compared to this voice. One question still remained on his mind however. “And how do you know all of this, if this planet is so mysterious and secretive?”

    Du'ul answered, and somehow it did not come as a surprise to Hartor when he said, “My friend, that warlord was me.”

  13. #28
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    Gaarworr looked up at the sky, or what was left of the sky due to Jynton's highrises. The aliens that looked up to him had started to speak up; they wanted more land. And since Gaarworr was, if anything, a protector of the people he went along with it. However he wouldn't be doing the work of expanding, that was left to the Rodian.

    They had met shortly after Gaarworr showed up in the undercity. He couldn't communicate to the Rodian and she didn't bother to explain her past. He liked it that way, referring to his allies by their race and what they did versus the names he didn't care all that much about. But the Rodian, the Rodian's talent laid in her ability to get others to cooperate.
    What had started as two people spread to a building. Then the building spread to a block. They moved slowly and kept to what could be considered the slums. After their sixth block joined their cause the Imperials started to take notice. It could be the fact that as they expanded Gaarworr insisted on removing most, if not all, humans. In his eyes all humans were alike: slavers, murderers, and power hungry. He viewed what they were doing as a safe home for the oppressed and humans certainly didn't fit that category.

    But whatever the reason, the Imperials sent a few Stormtroopers to rid the area of the growing Pro-Alien movement. Of course, they didn't survive and the Territory suffered. Every week a dozen Stormtroopers came and every week a dozen heads were added to the line marking the Territory. And still, the aliens wanted more. So today the Rodian and Gaarworr headed out to talk to the leader of the nearby gang.

  14. #29
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    Leaning on the barge’s port guardrail, Reil exhaled slowly, and watched as his breath misted in front of him. A thin layer of frost now covered the entire ship, and by now he was grateful for the cold, as it helped him to cool his temper and resist the urge to throttle Cali. He had awoken cold and miserable, only to find that she had spent the night warm and dry. Not that there was any particular difference between night and day, now that the sun had set.

    Cali stood behind him, in silence, doing her best to appear penitent and remorseful. Reil almost believed it. He massaged his temples and tried to direct his thoughts to happier topics, like the lights of Twillingate, which he could see just off in the distance. It was only a small harbor town, but in the perpetual dark, it lit up like a beacon.

    *******

    It had taken just over an hour for the boat to close with the harbor, and once it had docked, the barge became a flurry of activity, as the dock workers rushed to unload the last ship before the freeze, and then get out of the cold. Reil and Cali managed to slip through the waves of workers, as they went about their work.

    Cali set down their luggage, and turned to Reil expectantly.
    “So now what?”

    Reil shrugged.
    “I guess we go to Sunny’s.”

    Cali rolled her eyes.
    “I figured that part, I meant how do we get there?”

    “We walk.”

    “You dragged us all the way out here on a raft, just to makes us walk the rest of the way?”
    Cali grumbled.

    Reil scowled.
    “Yeah, you had a devil of a time, warm and cozy in the driver’s box. If you don’t wanna walk, that’s your business. It’s gonna get properly cold soon, so if you want to stay here and freeze, you be my guest.”

    Cali muttered a few choice words under her breath, but followed Reil as he walked out of the marina. As they walked, Cali noticed that they were getting farther away from the center of the town, where it was brightest. It was getting harder to see, and there were few homes this way. Just as Cali was about to ask how much farther, Reil pointed to a massive lot, just a bit farther.
    “There it is, Raxus Nadir.”

    Cali turned to Reil, confused by the reference.
    “Huh?”

    “You know like Raxus Prime, the junk world.”

    Cali looked at Reil expectantly, waiting for him to explain.
    “Yes. . .”

    Reil shrugged.
    “You’ll get it once we’re there.”

    Indeed, the reference made more sense once Cali saw it. The lot was twice the size of its neighbors, with a shack half the size of the most of the homes she’d seen. The rest of the property was taken up by no less than four light transports, all in various states of dismantlement, and disrepair. Between them were half assembled, or disassembled droids, swoops, two speeders, and seven different lawnmowers, with enough parts to build two more. Tools were scattered haphazardly throughout the mess, all exposed to the elements. Cali wrinkled her nose as the air stank of engine grease, fuel, and coolant, with a number of dead patches of grass to indicate where toxic fluids had leaked.

    Reil breathed in deep.
    “It’s good to be home.”
    Zealos Reil thought he was hot
    so he left the sim-pod cold
    on his eighth mission he got shot
    and that's all there is to be told.
    Draw your own conclusions rookies.

  15. #30
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    They ran into no problems as they transitioned the boundary between what they claimed was their Territory and the fellow gang's territory. However that didn't mean they weren't watched as they walked down the road. Gaarworr could feel the eyes of humans burning on him, some may have even lived where they were set up and forced out because of his actions. And yet nothing happened as they approached what they were told was the hideout for the leader, what was once a standard republic high-rise that has since fallen into disrepair like so many other buildings in the area.
    Gaarworr knew his strengths and knew that it would be best if the Rodian went in by herself to speak with the leader. However, he had a duty to protect her to at least his office if not further. So the two of them entered the building. They were stopped by a half dozen human guards, all armed with blaster rifles and wearing blast helmets and vests over blue overalls. He started to raise his fists as the Rodian placed her hand on his arm and stopped him.
    She explained to the guards how she had come to negotiate a deal with their leader. The guards listened and thankfully trusted her, giving the both of them a quick pat down before they led her to the elevator. Gaarworr was forced to wait outside until the meeting was finished or the Rodian called for him on her commlink. Thus Gaarwoor stood outside the hideout and waited for the Rodian or her call.

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