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Thread: Star Wars: Tapestry, Volume III

  1. #121
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    "Boss? You there, boss?"

    On the bridge of the Reclamator I, Rammo the Toydarian batted Sloat's hand off the comm control and thumbed it himself. "I'm here! What's our status?"

    "Well," Kroff replied, somewhere down there on Cloud City, "Ms. Tromso and the singer jumped down a blasted garbage chute."

    "And you followed them?" Rammo demanded.

    There was silence. Then, "Boss, I'm doing all I can here, but I don't want to get killed."

    "So where are we?" Rammo demanded.

    "They're obviously headed for the singer's ship," Kroff explained. "I'll stake it out. We still on double-time?"

    "Double-time," Rammo seethed. Then he cut the connection off.

    He hovered there, looking at nothing in particular and scratching his rump thoughtfully. Romance, he concluded, is hard work. Here he was days into the courtship, paying Kroff and Sloat double-time all the while, with not even a peck on the cheek to show for it. And then there was the matter of Trask, his newly-bought agent in the Bespin Wing Guard, now dead somewhere down there on Cloud City. He was genuinely sorry about that. Although, Trask being dead also meant that Trask no longer needed to be paid, so Rammo supposed it was a net gain, all things considered.

    One thing was for sure; when Ms. Tromso was finally delivered to him, she was bound to be delighted by the lengths to which he'd gone to win her heart. Women love that kind of stuff, Rammo supposed.

    Don't they?

    * * *

    It had been a long way down, to Port Town. The curving chute that Fi, Jyllis, and Mr. Mace had leaped into to escape their pursuer had taken them to what Fi supposed was the ground floor of her apartment building, where the trio were unceremoniously dumped into a mobile garbage tank. At the tank's controls was one of Cloud City's ubiquitous Ugnaughts, who drove the scow down a long, dim tunnel. Fi and Jyll had alternately threatened and pleaded with the foul little being who, due either to a distaste for humans or a simple reluctance to see his workday complicated unnecessarily, had ignored them. They'd descended several lifts, the girls scrabbling against the tank's grubby walls all the while, until they arrived at a large, foul-smelling chamber where the Ugnaught backed the scow up against one of the walls and could be heard flipping switches and activating the vehicle's machinery.

    At this, the tank rose on one side, a hatch was lifted on another, and the girls and their fabool companion had been dumped, along with a ton of stinking refuse, into another chamber. This chamber had a door, and Jyll tried it. It didn't open, and there were no controls on the inside. The actress clenched her fists and bellowed angrily at the cold, steel walls. Her flimsy disguise of headscarf and dark glasses had disappeared somewhere along the way, but due to the accumulated filth, she was largely unrecognizable. Fi was sure that she herself looked about the same.

    Fi also had a bad feeling about what this chamber's walls were soon going to do. She didn't want to alarm Jyll, but had explained that their best hope at this point, really, was to call for help. Which they'd done, for about thirty minutes, Fi's fears growing stronger all the while. Some of their shouts had drawn catcalls, or even laughter. Most had drawn only silence. But then, like a miracle, their final plea had drawn no words but the blissful sound of the hatch opening. The garbage-covered pair spilled out into the corridor.

    "Thank you," Fi sputtered, "oh stars, thank you!" She rose to her feet. "I-"

    Zealos Reil was standing right in front of her. Zealos, and Cali. Cali Bellum.

    "Ze!" Fi could only say as, despite the sludge, she gripped the man in a fierce hug. The pilot did his best to hold the girl, nose wrinkling from the smell, and keep her upright.

    "You're on the news," he explained, pulling Fi off of himself and brushing at his clothing. "Got yourself in some trouble?"

    Fi laughed in hysterical relief as Jyllis and Mr. Mace rose behind her. "We have to get away," she explained, "someone's trying to kidnap Jyll. I, oh - this is Jyll..."

    "Hi," the holostar greeted them meekly, looking thoroughly un-holostar-like.

    "At least one of the Wing Guard are in on it," Fi continued. "We have to get to the Dawncaller..."

    "The..." Reil asked, stepping back, "the dawncaller?"

    "My ship," Fi clarified. "It's berthed in... oh, stars. I have to tell you. I have to tell you about Tam..."

    Zealos Reil looked Fi square in the eye and nodded soberly. "We know."

    Fi wiped sludge from her face. "No, you don't," she continued, tears coming to her eyes. "I have to explain."

    "Fi," Jyll laid a hand on her friend's shoulder, "Fi whatever this is, if it's hurting you, you don't have to do this now."

    The singer shrugged off Jyll's hand. "I do. I've needed to tell someone, and didn't think I'd ever get the chance." she composed herself. "Zealos, it's my fault. What happened to Tam... it's because of me." Then she broke down.

    Zealos stood in puzzlement. "Wait a minute. It's your fault that Tam's joined the Empire? That he's turned to the Dark Side?"

    Fi wiped away at the tears and grime. "The... dark? Zealos, I'm trying to tell you," she explained tearfully, "Tam is dead."

    Cali stepped forward. "Fi, how long have you been here?"

    Fi shrugged, annoyed by the pointless question. "About three weeks, I guess."

    "Yeah?" Cali countered. "Well, we got to enjoy some of Tam's hospitality nine or ten days ago. He's not what you remember, and Zealos can tell you just how alive he was."

    Fi stood stock still, mouth hanging open.

    "Come on," Reil offered, looking uncomfortably at the bystanders present. "Let's find someplace more private. We have a lot to talk about."
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 06-30-2012 at 10:46 AM.
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  2. #122
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    Coruscant
    Industrial District
    Danza Quadrant
    Sector A7G
    Abandoned Industrial Supplies Factory


    The dusk sun painted lines of shadows upon the massive entrance to the abandoned factory. A lone figure strolled through the entryway, pausing to wearily survey the area. She was tall for a human female, perhaps five foot nine inches in height and her long brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail. To a casual observer she would have appeared to wear dirty garments of a common nature. In truth her outfit was closer to those of some old Jedi order, worn and damaged from frequent action and quite soiled. Secured to her back was a tech backpack, the only item she seemed to possess that was clean.

    "So,", she mumbled quietly to herself, "just what am I doing here?" Closing her eyes she tuned out the sights and sounds of the debilitated factory; listening only to the ebb and flow of the force that was around her. And it warned the human that danger was near. Opening her eyes she instinctively turned and peered into the shadows that cloaked the catwalks above. A pair of beastly glowing eyes were staring back at her.

    Within a second she had her lightsaber in hand but did not ignite the blade. "Who are you? What are you doing here?", the brunette demanded.

    The figure leaped from the walkway above and landed on the factory floor with enough force to crack the pavement and kick up a thick plume of dust. As soon as the cloud settled the human was able to perceive the figure before her. Standing over two meters tall, was a Shistavanen with black fur who was garbed in a dark grey outfit with a crimson red vest over the shirt. And both of his hands were gauntleted up to the elbow with black metal. Upon closer inspection of the metal gloves she could see holdout sheathes along the inside forearms.

    The Shistavanen placed a hand upon his chest. "I am Paxan.", he introduced in a low gravelly tone, "Pack Alpha of the Blood Trackers Clan." He then pointed towards the human for emphasis. "And I am here to claim the artifact you possess."

    She kept her guard up. Paxan's words spoke the truth of his intent. A sinister air surrounded the creature, but was unable sense anything beyond that. "I am Elayne, no extra titles.", she mocked, "And the artifact is not for you."

    "Ah, but you see youngling, it calls to me. It will be mine. Now, will you hand it over to me?", his voice grew malevolent, "Or must I take it from your corpse while I dine on your flesh?"

    Elayne responded with a glare, then positioned herself in an Ataru defensive stance and activated her saber. It's violet blade illuminated the area around her. "Very well, then.", Paxan stated as he lowered himself into a crouching position, "Give me a good fight and I shall speak of you honorably while I feast on your body."

    Paxan burst forward with unnatural speed at Elayne, of which she was only able to dodge with force enhanced senses. The Shistavanen spun around and charged again with an arm outstretched to clothesline the human. Elayne managed to elude it but at the cost of a chance to counter-attack. He ran up a support beam only to leap from it towards the human, his right fist hammering down on the spot Elayne just evaded and cratered the floor. The girl took a risk and struck at the creature with an overhead strike.

    Paxan blocked with his left arm, and when Elayne's violet blade met the black metal her weapon shut off! A sinister chuckle came from the creature as the human attempted to reactivate her weapon. "Phrik-Cortosis alloy. Expensive but worth every credit.", Paxan gloated as he rose to his feet and fixed Elayne with a deathly stare, "Now, youngling, what shall I say about you during dinner?"

    Her instincts yelled Run!, the force added Upstairs!

    “Perhaps I will tell my pack about your exceptional reflexes and how you almost struck me with your blade.”, Paxan continued. Elayne channeled the force into a telekinetic punch that launched the Shistavanen further into the factory, then ran. Upstairs.

    Up and up, lefts and rights, Elayne followed her intuition to navigate the massive structure. She eventually found herself in what appeared to be the offices of the once active business. As she ran she tried activating her blade again and was rewarded with the familiar snap-hiss of a working lightsaber. She shut off the weapon and hurried down the hall. From the distance Paxans' taunting could be heard, "You cannot escape me, youngling! I know your scent!"

    Another left turn led to a long corridor that ended in a T connection with windows to view the city outside. She started to rush towards the intersection. Which way? Left or right?, she asked herself. The response was unexpected. Straight! Elayne called upon the force and gave herself speed then threw a telekinetic punch to knock out the windows.

    The timing was perfect. Glass fragments and pieces of window frame burst forth that left a debris free corona of which Elayne leapt through.

    The view was perfect, too. She could see a lot of the scenery from this height.

    Where the frak am I supposed to land?!

    *** *** ***

    Tach was parked on the roof of an office spire, a structure built for the sales and administration staff of the forgotten factory below. His last run through a makeshift course revealed a need to adjust some of the aircar's computer parameters.

    "..and z-axis float buffer, plus point three five percent.", he mumbled to himself while he punched in the last bit of data, "Compile!" With a tap on the datapad it beeped to confirm, then it beeped again when it was finished. Then there was a 'whoosh' like noise coupled with the sound of glass shattering nearby. Glancing in the direction of the noise Tach noticed a figure sail through a curtain of sparkling fragments, only to succumb to gravity and start a fall towards the grounds below.

    "What the f...", the smuggler started to say before being drowned out by the roar of his speeders' engines firing back up. In the next moment he was on an intercept course with the free-falling body and carefully guiding the vehicle to attempt a rescue. As soon as the speeder was matching course and speed, he rolled to face the open cockpit towards the jumper and got a clearer view of the her.

    It was a female. Quite attractive. Long brown flowing hair, panic stricken brown eyes, an outstretched hand that seemed to desperately reach out towards the car. Oh, right! Tach grabbed hold of her arm and helped her navigate into the passenger seat. Once she was secured he leveled the speeder back out.

    "Keep going!", the female urged as she turned to look back at the spire, "Get us away from here fast!"

    Tach relented with a nod and sped up, piloting his car off the factory grounds. He notices she was holding onto a lightsaber in her left hand with a white knuckled grip. "May want to hide that.", he offered while pointing towards her weapon. She looked at it momentarily as if it had just manifested into existence then sheepishly tucked it into her robes.

    "Name's Tach.", he said and offered up a hand in greeting.

    "Elayne.", she replied tersely as she gently shook his hand, "Thanks for the rescue."

    "Glad to help. Not often I get to see Jedi take a dive out of seventy story buildings. Feel like sharing your story?"

    Elayne sighed and shook her head. "No, not really."

    "Fair enough.", Tach replied politely, "Then you got some place you would like to be dropped off?"

    She was silent for a moment, as if concentrating, then glanced at Tach with what may have been a confused expression. "Um... no, I don't."

    Tach arched a brow as he looked at the woman, but resigned the subject with a shrug. Something was on her mind but he wasn't about the press the matter. Instead he drove, traveling via the established airspeeder routes until they entered a residential district. It was then the Spot-On locator sounded an alert. According to the device a candidate race was about to start in an hour.

    "So, Elayne, how do you feel about speeder racing?"

    She looked confused again.

  3. #123
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    They were only a short walk from where the Whydah was berthed, but Reil could tell Fi was seething with impatience. He lengthened his stride to keep up with her, leaving Jyllis and Cali to bring up the rear of their little group. Cali sized up the holo-star, and was disappointed to find that she didn’t look nearly as glamorous in person, but that might’ve just been the trash caked on her. Hopefully she was still rich. Jyll for her part noticed the attention she was getting from Cali, and stuck out her hand.
    “Hi, I’m Jyllis.”

    Cali returned the handshake somewhat reluctantly.
    “Cali.”

    Jyllis grinned somewhat bashfully as Cali tried to wipe her hand off on the wall.
    “Charmed, I’m sure.”

    Cali tried to nod with enthusiasm she wasn’t feeling.
    “Yeah, sure. Probably.”

    As they entered the hangar, Reil keyed in the access code to lower the ship’s ramp.
    “Ladies first.” He said, giving a mock bow.

    Fi went up first, then Cali, and just as Jyllis was about to embark she turned around and noticed the half washed stain of red on the hangar floor. She turned to Reil.
    “Is that bl. . . What is that?”

    Reil sighed.
    “That was. . . some earlier unpleasantness. Don’t trouble yourself about it.” Jyllis seemed hesitant. “C’mon, they’re waiting for us.”

    The only room Reil and Cali had bothered to furnish were their own cabin, so Reil had to lead them into the cargo hold, where he and Cali made some makeshift chairs out of crates, by lying them flat, in a sort of circle. As they all sat down Fi released Mr. Mace, and the Fabool began to explore the back areas of the cargo bay. Reil hoped it was housebroken.
    “I’m sorry the ship’s a little sparse, we haven’t had much company to-”

    Fi cut him off.
    “Reil, what do you mean Tam is alive?”

    Reil rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
    “It’s kind’ve a self explanatory statement.”

    Fi was insistent.
    “Reil, tell me now! What happened?”

    Reil launched into his story.
    “Well. . . There was some trouble, and Cali and I got pinched by police and then turned over to the Imperials.”

    Fi nodded for him to keep going, eager for Reil to get to the point.
    “And they took you to Tam?”

    Reil hesitated, not sure how much of the story he wanted to get into in front of Fi’s actress friend.
    “ More or less. . .”

    Cali butted in.
    “After you opened up your big mouth about the Disruptor.”

    “Which happened after you got yourself shot and arrested, so stow it.” Reil snapped, and then regained his composure. It’s all outta the bag now. “I attracted the attention of somebody big, Truman or Terryman or. . .”

    Fi’s eyes narrowed.
    “Tremayne?”

    Reil snapped his fingers as he felt a tingle of recognition.
    “Sure, I think. Anyway, we were put on this ship headed for a meeting with Tremayne. But before we get there, the captain of the ship pulls me aside to have a little chat. Very interested in Tam. We finish our chat and. . .”

    Fi was horrified.
    “Reil! What did you let slip?”

    Reil threw his hands up in protest.
    “If I could finish! The reason he wanted to know so much about Tam was because he was working with him, and Tam was making him uncomfortable. You see he, Tam, was already on the ship, working as some sorta crew. And he was actually pretty mad about me being there. So Tam came and paid me a visit in my cell, and that went poorly so he tried to get rid of me, in a violent and painful way that involves the phrase: Dermal Fracturing. Do you know what that is? ‘Cause I didn’t until he used his powers to squeeze me so hard my skin cracked.”

    Fi shook her head as she tried to process this.
    “No, that can’t be true. I saw his body.”

    Reil frowned.
    “Me too, when he was pummeling me with his mind powers.”

    Fi looked at Reil earnestly, pleadingly almost.
    “Are you sure it was him?”

    Reil felt a twinge of irritation.
    “Ye high? Soulful blue eyes? Blond, looks a little underfed? Can move things with his mind! Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was him.”

    If Fi noticed the sarcasm she didn’t react to it, as she was consumed by her own thoughts.
    “He’s alive.”

    Reil sighed.
    “You’re not focusing on the part where he’s evil, and tried to kill me. It’s kind’ve a big deal. The Imperial Captain stopped Tam from killing me, then helped me and Cali escape before Tam could take a mulligan. So here we are. ”

    Fi’s quiet contemplation was replaced with steely resolve.
    “We have to help Tam. . . I have to help Tam. I can’t just abandon him.”

    Cali couldn’t hold her tongue any longer.
    “Again you mean?”

    Reil glared at her.
    “Stifle it. Look, Fi, I know this is a shock for you, but I need you to think this through. We can’t help him, because he doesn’t need help.”

    Fi looked at Reil is disbelief.
    “How can you say that? You just told me the Imperials have him, we need to. . !”

    Cali cut her off.
    “The Imperials don’t have him, he is them. He’s joined, or turned, or whatever you wanna call it. Tam is in league with the people who are bad. He’s with the bad people, is this sinking in yet Fi!"

    Jyllis who had been silent up till this point leaped to her friend’s defence.
    “Hey! Leave her alone!”

    Cali rounded on the actress.
    “Stay out of it! This doesn’t concern you.”

    Jyll stood her ground.
    “It concerns me the way you harass Fi. She’s done nothing to you!”

    “And what would you know about what she’s done to. . . any of us!” Cali spat “We don’t know you, and you don’t know us, so you can take your attitude and shove-”

    Reil put a halt to fight before it got out of hand.
    “Shut up! Both of you, just shut up. Cali, just back off. Ms. Tromso, Fi is our friend, so I ask that you give us some leeway in how we interact,” Reil tossed a significant glance at Cali, “but there will be no more harassing.”

    Fi reasserted herself back into the conversation.
    “Reil, I don’t know if Tam is evil or what, but I need to help him.” Fi’s hand slipped into Jyllis’, as she started to gain confidence, “I am going to help him. If you aren’t going to help me save him, at least help me find him. I need to do this.”

    Reil sighed, mindful of what he was about to do.
    “ I’ll help you. All the way if I can.”

    “What!?” Cali balked.

    Mentally Reil amended his statement to add: If Cali doesn’t shoot me first.
    “I’ve been doing some thinking. And I figure Tam is too dangerous the way he is. I admit to being a little sore at the beating I took, but more than that, he’s like a living weapon of mass destruction, and he’s off his rock. But the truth is, I don’t have anything that could go up against the Imperials, and frankly I don’t have anything that could go up against Tam if he got in a foul mood. So, what you really need Fi, is friends who could go up against the Imperials.”

    Fi looked unsure.
    “You mean the Rebels? I wouldn’t know where to begin. . .”

    Cali glared at Reil.
    “And neither would we!” She said firmly.

    Reil dreaded the fight that this was gonna cause.
    “I might have a lead on that. . .”

    Cali’s tone was low and menacing.
    “Reil. . .”

    “Which we can discuss later. All this talk about Tam has gotten us a little ahead of ourselves. Why don’t we back up and you can tell me what the hell is going on with you two, and why people are looking for you?”
    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. #124
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    Fi was silent, lost in thought. Jyllis cleared her throat and leaned forward.

    "Someone's, well... someone's trying to kidnap me."

    Zealos Reil's face was a stony mask, but it was preferable to the outright hostility on Cali's. Jyll bit her lip in thought, then continued. "Three nights ago. We were joyriding, and I noticed we were being followed by someone."

    "A speeder was behind you," Cali summarized, eyes trained toward the cargo hold's ceiling, "sounds serious."

    Jyllis ignored the remark. "I didn't really care either, but then the next morning, I learned my hotel room had been broken into. We hired a bodyguard, and that night, the bodyguard - 'Muscles', we called him - attacked Fi and abducted me! None of us saw it coming. Luckily, a smuggler - I don't remember his name..."

    "Tach," Fi supplied, lost in thought.

    "Tach. He saved me. Fi and I spent the next day at home - at her place - and then today, on the shoot... well, I guess you saw the news."

    "We did," Reil nodded, "though they kinda glossed over the details."

    "I don't know if that beldon charge was a coincidence," Jyll stated, "but that guardsman, whatever his name was..."

    "Trask," said Fi.

    "He, Trask, tried to capture us and we, well, we killed him. But he tried to kill Fi first! Then 'Muscles' showed up again, we ran, and... here we are."

    "And so you need a ride out of here?" Zealos asked, leaning back on his crate.

    "No," Fi interjected, mentally rejoining the group. "I have a ship. But we could sure use some help getting to it, just in case."

    "Oh, right," Zealos nodded, "the, uh... the Dawncaller."

    "Then, we could meet up in orbit," Fi urged, "and go find your Rebellion."

    Cali cleared her throat and folded her arms across her chest. "Let's talk terms."

    Reil raised a hand. "Cali, maybe you oughta leave the diplomacy to me."

    "You!" the girl retorted, "sure, and we can enjoy sitting around here with an empty tank and a hold full of cooling agent for the next few years..."

    Reil frowned. "Cali's got a point. This boat's not going anywhere 'til we unload our cargo and refuel. It could take days to find a buyer."

    Jyll's posture straightened as her eyes lit up. "Could I borrow your comlink?"

    Zealos Reil sat in quiet confusion for a moment, then, with a shrug, pulled the device from his belt and offered it to the grime-encrusted holostar. Jyllis keyed a number daintily, trying to dirty the comlink as little as possible, and in short order was connected with her intended contact.

    "Helly! It's me. Yes, it's me. I'm fine. Seriously, I'm fine. Fi's fine too, thanks for asking. I'm nowhere, that's all you need to know. Seriously. Listen, I need a favour, okay?" At this she paused, wiping a filthy hand on her pants.

    "I need you to buy a cargo of cooling agent, could you do that? Well, surely one of your people could use it! It's down here in Port Town. Helly, I'm not saying you have to come to Port Town, but surely you could send a crew, right? Fantastic. Sure, his name is," she put a hand over the comlink's receiver. "I'm sorry, what did you say your name was again?"

    "Reil."

    "Rail?"

    "Reil."

    "Reil. You can reach him at this frequency in, say, twenty minutes. Yes, it's his comlink. Thank you so much, Helly-doll! And don't you worry - we'll be clubbing again in no time." she snapped the comlink off and handed it back to its owner.

    "There, you see?" Jyllis grinned winningly at Cali, a moldy slice of some sort of red vegetable falling out of her hair as she did so, "it's all arranged."

    Zealos Reil rose from his cargo crate, straightened his shoulders and adjusted the blaster at his hip.

    "Let's make tracks."

    * * *

    A short time later, Kroff stood in the cramped Port Town alley, straddling the unconscious Wing Guard sentry he'd had to stun ten minutes prior outside of the docking bay that housed the Dawncaller. Jyllis Tromso and the singer had indeed come here, just as planned. Unfortunately, that was about all that had gone according to plan - the pair had been escorted by Zealos Reil and Cali Bellum, strangers to Kroff, and all four of them were armed. Jyllis and the singer had entered the hangar, shutting the hatch behind them, while Reil and Cali had gone back the way they'd come, arguing all the while.

    "And you made your move?"

    Kroff sighed, itched his bandaged head in exasperation, then tore the bandage off in annoyance and tossed it into one of the alley's far corners. A gentle breeze in the corridor felt good on his bald scalp. "No boss, there were four of them. I couldn't stun 'em all, especially with all these bystanders coming and going. Now, Ms. Tromso and the singer have sealed the hatch. I'd expect them to lift off at any moment."

    "What was the name of the ship again?"

    "Dawncaller."

    "Alright," Rammo sighed over the comm. "Get back to the shuttle and get up here. We'll take over. You're done down there."

    Kroff stepped out of the alleyway, adjusted his suit, touched his headwound gingerly, and spoke into his comlink.

    "See you soon."
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 08-29-2012 at 03:59 PM.
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  5. #125
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    "So, Elayne, how do you feel about speeder racing?

    Elayne glanced at the man in confusion. "That came out of the blue." she thought to herself. “I think they are pointless contests. The fastest speeder racer gets to inflate their ego.”, she answered bluntly, “Why?”

    Tach looked towards the Jedi with a smirk and pointed at the Spot-On Locator. “Because we're going to enter one soon.”

    “Alright.”, she replied with disinterest.

    After a momentary pause Tach spoke up. “But there's plenty of time to tell me about yourself.”

    Elayne sighed in frustration. “Listen, Tach was it? Let me give you a quick summary. I'm on a, well, for lack of a better word, a quest. I've been following the guidance of the Force for some time now. About a week ago it started guiding me to that factory. In said factory I met an evil wolf thing. Insert a fight that I had to jump out of a window to escape.”, she paused to make an exasperated gesture, “And so here I am now. Once the Force speaks to me again I will be out of your hair.”

    “Wow, so the Force gives you everything you need, does it?”, Tach asked unimpressed.

    “Basically. It's been the only friend I've had.”, she shared bitterly.

    Tach nodded politely. After a moment of thought he stated, “Because it doesn't judge you.”

    “Fracking straight it doesn't judge me!”, she snapped harshly, “It doesn't care about how I was raised, or my choices and mistakes! I ask and it answers, no complications.”

    “If I were to guess, I'd say you ran with an interesting crowd.”, Tach quipped.

    Elayne shrugged, “That they were. Maybe I'll get to tell you about them, sometime.”

    “Why did you leave?”

    She looked away from Tach, fixing her eyes on the distant horizon. “It was time to follow my own path.” Looking back at him she started to size up the man. “What about you? What's your story?”

    “I'm on a quest, too, actually. I've been hired to locate a missing family member for a noble.”, Tach explained, “More specifically, his father. This illegal racing circuit is the only lead we have. And if you're interested I do have a pressing need for someone with your particular talents. It pays very well, too.”

    “What would you need me to do?”, Elayne asked, clearly unsure of this offer.

    “I need a navigator. The navigator keeps an eye on vehicle systems, the track for shortcuts, movements of the other racers and such. Basically you'd keep me informed on important details I could miss.”, he described.

    “Hmm, this is definitely a change from the pace I'm used to. Is there anything else I should know?”, she asked pensively.

    “Well, other than it being illegal, it's also dangerous.”, he shared thoughtfully, “And considering who you are I must tell you that we will be doing things-”, Tach paused to find the right words, then continued cautiously, “-that are not Sith or Jedi compatible. Will you be comfortable with that?”

    Elayne considered his words before answering, “I'll be fine. Quite honestly, right now both paths do not appeal to me.”

    “Oh!”, Tach blurted in surprise, “You're a Gray Jedi?”

    She arched her brow in confusion, “What's a Gray Jedi?”

    “A Jedi that isn't consumed by the Dark but also chooses not to follow the Jedi Code.”, he stated bluntly, “If you like I can tell you all about it later. Say, over dinner?”

    Elayne nodded sagely, “Sure.” Her thoughts were reeling at the idea. Jedi who walk the line between light and dark? Why am I only hearing about this now? She looked over at Tach again with a mix of respect and disbelief. And why am I hearing it from him?

    Tach guided the Stingray down into the city streets, carefully following the beacon of the Spot-On. Ahead he had spied their destination, the starting line of the race. Three other drivers had already arrived and were waiting.

    “Here we are!”, Tach announced, breaking Elayne from her train of thought. “Now don't bring up the mission. From here on out you're my navigator.”

    Elayne nodded curtly and hastily removed her backpack and vest, revealing a clean white shirt she wore underneath. “Best to not look like a Jedi, then.”, she said as she dumped the items onto the floorboard, followed by sheathing her lightsaber in her boot.

    “Good thinking.”, Tach responded with a friendly wink as they stopped at the line. He took little note of the other racers, that was until one of them opened their mouth.

    “Where'd you get that old thing? A junk yard?”, bellowed a teenage human male. He was seated in a new custom built Narglatch AirTech speeder.

    “I found it.”, Tach replied in a dismissive tone.

    “Bah, whatever. Hey, babe!”, he called out to Elayne. She looked over at him with an annoyed expression. The human continued unfazed, “Why don'tcha ride with me? After I win this race I'll show you a good time.”

    Elayne forced a sweet smile and replied in a sing-song voice, “Sorry, I only associate with intelligent lifeforms.”

    Tach found the comment quite amusing, but the boy had not. “Why you little b-”

    An ASN-121 had hovered up to the speeders and uncaringly cut the boy off. “Welcome racers. Please start your engines.”, it announced in a mechanical voice, “Race will begin in 10...”

    There was an alert from the Spot-On. Waypoint download complete. Next waypoint in 5km. it reported and showed the direction to their first waypoint.

    The hotshot youth had fired up his turbines and revved them loudly with typical teenage gusto that drowned out the droids voice. He looked over at Tach while the others started their vehicles and smirked confidently.

    “8...”

    Tach just flipped three switches purposely and fired up the turbines of his speeder. The roar they gave during start up was enough to give the flamboyant youth pause.

    “7...”, the droid's voice was barely audible at this point.

    “Brats like that get under my skin.”, Elayne shared with irritation.

    “6...”

    “With your looks you'll have to get used to it.”, Tach informed.

    “5...”

    Elayne smiled at the compliment, “Flattery won't get you anywhere, Mr. Tach.”

    “4...”

    “But it's a good start.”, she added.

    The droid was continuing its countdown. “3...2...”

    Tach held the brake while pushing in the throttle. His turbines cacophonous roars drowned out the noise of the other racers.

    "1... Go!", commanded the ASN. Like a shot from a blaster the racers quickly disappeared into the distance, leaving the lone droid on a quiet street.

  6. #126
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    Holding the Monster's Leash

    Outside the viewport of his shuttle, Doule saw the Inun, poised and oriented for a hyperspace jump leaving Denon, no doubt to rendezvous with the rest of Morning Star Squad. He had come to think of the ship as his home—his own—but after his meeting with High Inquisitor Tremayne he wondered just how much he could claim. Even his own memories might not be his own…

    He could almost sense it as he stepped aboard the prototype craft, the “lynchpin of Morning Star Squad,” as it had been described to him. Though he was ostensibly the ship’s captain, he knew that the crew’s true leader—the chittermite overmind sending psychic instruction to its grub workers—had never left. He gave a cursory acknowledgement to the deck officer who greeted him with a salute and informed him that the Inun was ready to jump at his command. Then, brushing past the rest of the welcoming entourage, Doule made a bee line for the Nexus room.

    The chamber was awash with oscillating blue light, cast by the kaleidoscoping confusion of hyperspace outside the room’s tall viewports. Tam was inside the elevated Nexus sphere at the center of the room, no doubt, but Doule didn’t want to wait for him to come out in his own due time. He marched up the curving stairs and along the catwalk so that he could bang on the Sphere until the boy opened it up.

    But just as he was about to do so, the sphere cracked along its jagged seam and, silhouetted by the twisting hyperspace light, Tam Dawncaller emerged. “You’re upset, Doule.”

    “Damn right I am. I just got back from a meeting with High Inquisitor Tremayne.”

    “That can be upsetting, yes.”

    “Do you know what he told me?”

    “That your report was a lie, and that Tremayne believed I had killed Reil and Cali.”

    Nonplussed, Doule’s ire began to lessen. “Yes, yes he did. It was quite confusing, really.”

    “That’s why you’re here, Doule.”

    “To be confused?”

    Tam walked past him on the catwalk. “Tremayne orchestrated that whole prisoner transfer. He wanted me to kill the prisoners.” Reaching the bottom level of the Nexus room, the boy looked out the bank of tall, narrow viewports. “Remember when I told you that you were here as my safety net?”

    Doule made his way down the catwalk stairs. “You almost killed Reil. I helped him escape before you could try again.”

    “You kept me from becoming the monster that wants out of me. It’s harder every day to keep that monster at bay.”
    “So I’m holding its leash.” Doule’s stomach sank. What would happen when he couldn’t keep that monster inside Tam any more, or if it turned back on him? He wasn’t a captain, or even an Imperial officer any more, really. He was a wrangler; some degenerate keeper of monsters in the dungeons of some Hutt palace. But this was Tam. He didn’t know why, but he wanted to help the boy. “I can hold onto it better if you can explain what’s going on.”

    “Tremayne knew I’d try to kill Reil, and Cali too, because he knows I want to cover my tracks.”

    “Cover your tracks?”

    “I mean, erase everything. The Tam you knew is long dead. I know you’ve thought this; I’ve felt it. The galaxy needs to know it too. Tam Dawncaller isn’t around anymore, and every trace of his existence is a blight on the galaxy.” The boy turned to Doule, and there were tears welling in his cold, sunken eyes. What could have happened to turn this boy into the broken, walking corpse of a creature he saw?

    He placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Tam, I can’t begin to understand what’s happened since Ryloth. All I know is that there must be something out there that isn’t a blight. Something you’ve left behind that might be worth keeping? Something that might…”

    “That might bring me back? No. Nothing.”

    “Tam,” Doule began, unsure of whether he should finish the sentence, “who is Fiola Shaku?”

    * * *

    Doule’s eyes fluttered open, and his vision slowly focused on a medical droid leaning over him. “So good to see you conscious again, Captain.”

    “Where am I?”

    “You are in the sick bay aboard the Inun, Captain.”

    “What? How did I get here? What happened?”

    “We aren’t sure of the cause, but you suffered blunt force trauma to the head. There may be some memory loss.”

    Thanks for the update, Doule thought. “Where in the galaxy are we?”

    “In the sick bay aboard the Inun, as I said, Captain. It appears the memory loss is still in effect.”

    “No, you bucket of bolts, where in the galaxy? What is our current location?”

    The droid paused only a moment as it interfaced with the ship’s information network. “We are currently in orbit over a planet called Owara, Captain…”

  7. #127
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    He was awake. At least, he thought he was. It was so hard to tell where the dreams left off and reality began. But the dreams always seemed so confused, not like this. This felt real. The... feeling... what was it called? He didn't remember. But he could feel. Feel the being standing in front of him, feel the smooth, curving walls of the tank he was floating in, feel the line of other presences to the left and right of him, some faded and dim, others still bright. Somehow, he could feel.

    He reached out with the feeling, to the presence in front of his tank. The presence was doing something, something that had to do with him.

    Suddenly, the tank vibrated. A low, incredibly deep thrumming noise flowed through the liquid and through him. He felt himself moving, upwards it seemed. His head broke free of the liquid; he felt the cool air on his wet hair and skin. It was then that he realized he hadn't opened his eyes. But he didn't want to. Somehow he knew he had to keep still.

    The rest of his body slid out of the liquid. He could now feel that he was strapped to some kind of board. He carefully tested the strength of the manacles, and found that there was no way he could move the hard durasteel. Durasteel. Somehow he knew what durasteel was. It was used to make spaceships, and....

    Relief flooded through his mind. He almost shouted, but the tube that extended down his throat through his mouth prevented that. But the feeling of relief soon passed. He now remembered parts about the world in which he lived, but... who was he. He still didn't know that.

    The hydraulic sound increased, and he felt himself moving again, turning so that he lay on his back. He slowly was lowered down, then the movement stopped. He tensed. The being he felt in front of him was approaching. He felt there was something wrong about the presence. It wanted to do something to him. Something that would cause him pain. He tensed even more, and the feeling started to flow through his like a raging river. The feeling mounted, pulsed, pushing at him from inside, trying to get free. He readied himself to unleash the feeling as soon as the presence got close enough. The footsteps clanked on the metal floor, comeing closer, closer....
    Last edited by Elvish_Jedi; 07-19-2012 at 02:01 PM.

  8. #128
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    In orbit around the planet Bespin, Rammo the Toydarian sat restlessly in his captain's chair on the bridge of the Reclamator I, drumming his clawed fingertips rhythmically on the top of one knobby knee. How long had he waited since Kroff's last call? Thirty minutes? In which time the man had re-boarded their shuttle down on Cloud City and inched ever further into orbit and back toward the creaky old salvage ship. In all that time, the Dawncaller was nowhere to be seen.

    The Reclamator I shuddered slightly, and a distant, muffled clang could be heard. From years of experience, Rammo knew it was the door of his flagship's modest hangar closing.

    "Kroff and the shuttle are back aboard, chief."

    Rammo looked at Sloat, slumped in the pilot's seat. The unkempt young man was beyond exhausted, having waited several shifts for something, anything to happen, but afraid to grab a quick cat-nap for fear that his double-time pay might be rescinded. The pilot rubbed his red eyes wearily, took another swig of cold caff, and shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

    "How about now?" Rammo barked.

    Sloat jumped slightly at the sound of his employer's voice, then looked at his sensors for the thousandth time. "Zip, chief," he shrugged, "they're not here."

    Rammo scratched an armpit impatiently. He'd been certain - certain - that the girls would have lifted off before Kroff did. What are they waiting for? Did the Cloud City authorities bring them in? Do they have some sort of cloaking device? Rammo dropped his almost-nonexistent chin onto one fist and considered. Maybe I should have told Kroff to stay on the city until the girls had lifted off for sure.

    "'Zip'..." the little Toydarian echoed thoughtfully. "You mean, there's nothing on the sensors at all?"

    "Oh, there's been plenty of traffic coming and going in the area," Sloat yawned in reply, "but I've been staring at this scope like a hawk, and there's been absolutely no sign of the Dog Collar."

    "Hnh," Rammo grunted. "I find it odd that..." His eyes widened. "The WHAT?!?"

    "The... Dog Collar?"

    "Dawncaller! DAWNCALLER, you numbskull!!!"

    "Sorry, chief, I guess I thought you said-"

    "Don't think! Never, ever, think! It's not in your skill-set!" Rammo took flight, hovering angrily over the back of the pilot's chair. "Check again! Dawncaller! D! A! W! N!..."

    "I got 'em!" Sloat answered, snapping upright. "One-ten degrees to port, five clicks out!"

    "Come about!" Rammo shouted, "Pursue! Intercept! Catch them! Catch them!"

    Stars whirled from left to right out the bridge's dirty windows as Sloat brought the massive salvage ship around. As its course straightened, a tiny fleck of reflected light could be seen floating in the distance.

    "Gaining," Sloat reported dutifully, his boss's wings flapping behind him. "It's weird... they're just sitting there. Almost as if they're waiting for someone."

    "They're gonna get someone," Rammo beamed. "Full speed! Ready the tractor beam!" Then he flew higher and spun around, arms outstretched, and sang tunelessly.

    "'I'm in the mood for love...!'"

    * * *

    "Fi," Jyllis exclaimed, returning from a cursory exploration of the Dawncaller and settling into one of the cockpit's contour seats, "This is a nice ship! What did you pay for it?"

    At the vessel's controls, Fiola peeled a strip of sticky, slimy plastic from one of her bare legs and tossed it to the deck, cursing that morning's choice of shorts over slacks. "I..." she grinned impishly, recalling her adventures with Inex Jonn, seemingly so long ago, "I sort of inherited it."

    Jyll grinned, her face - both of their faces - still encrusted with sludge. "Is your offer still open for me to take her for a spin?"

    "Oh yes," Fi nodded, "soon's we're out of danger, I'd love to see what you've got."

    Jyll took in the Dawncaller's vast array of controls, and wished she could touch them without soiling them with her grubby hands. Helm, gunnery, shields, navicomputer, sensors...

    Sensors.

    "Fi," she breathed, "there's something big coming in... really fast!"

    "That'll be Reil," Fi answered.

    Jyll studied the display. "No, no way... it's capital scale."

    Fi felt the weight of dread appear, like an anvil in her chest. They were at zero velocity. Hands shaking, she engaged the accelerator. "We're outta here."

    Engines firing, the Dawncaller began to move as their pursuer drew closer.

    "It's called Reclamator I," Jyllis observed, looking at the sensors. "You know it?"

    "Never heard of it," Fi replied nervously, banking the Dawncaller away from the approaching capital ship and slowly gaining speed.

    "Can we jump to hyperspace?"

    "It'd be suicide, we don't have a course computed."

    "Oh, Fi... blast! After all this..."

    As Fiola brought the ship to top speed, its engines started to groan and, sure enough, the velocity gauge began to count back down toward zero..

    "What's happening?" Jyllis pleaded.

    "They've got us in a tractor beam," Fi explained. "I can either shut us down, or blow us out."

    Jyllis said nothing, simply slumped in her seat and buried her face in one hand.

    Fi disengaged the Dawncaller's engines...
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 07-19-2012 at 09:38 PM.
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  9. #129
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    It was about to be a bad time to pour tea. The resident of the topmost north facing apartment had just set down his empty teacup. Then carefully picked up his kettle full of fresh hot tea and was about to pour when he heard a distant roaring noise outside. He had looked out the window to know the origin of the growing noise another sound joined in. Turning back to the table he noticed the teacup had begun a dance to the beat of frightful vibrations that were echoing the approaching noise. Then there was such a sound that the man who was going to enjoy the tea dropped his kettle to desperately run into the other room in a vain attempt to avoid whatever was sure to hit his home. But then the sound was gone, and his home wasn't hit, though his kettle, his teacup and his fine decorations would beg to differ.

    ...Meanwhile, half a click away...

    “That sleemo's still ahead of us!”, Elayne bellowed. She seemed displeased with the start of the race since the young upstart managed to jump ahead. Tach's Stingray was coming up second at this point.

    “C'mon! Can't this thing go faster?! You got boosters, right? He has boosters! What's this thing got?” Tach double-checked the passenger seat, just so he was sure that Elayne didn't fall out and get replaced by a cheerleader. “What happened to 'pointless contests to inflate their ego'?”, Tach asked with much amusement.

    “Palpatine's balls, Tach! We are not losing to that laserbrain!”, Elayne yelped then pointed ahead, “Look! He's already rounding the first waypoint!” The checkpoint being pointed at was in front of a high class hotel that looked stunning, all lit up under the night sky. The following checkpoint was at a sharp left turn from the hotel, of which the kid was already heading towards. “Hit a Go Faster button!”, she demanded energetically as she flicked that pointing finger towards the dashboard. Tach just shook his head and stated flatly, “I don't use boosters.”

    Elayne sort of huffed. “What kind of a racer doesn't use boost-”, the rest of her sentence transitioned smoothly into something like a shriek as Tach jerked the wheel, pointing the nose of the speeder sharply into the turn. The speeder then continued to slide through the turn at a completely unsafe velocity. Then through the checkpoint, then smartly straightened out after it smugly careened past the hotel.

    “What?”, Elayne sputtered, “Was that?”

    “A turn.”

    “We went sideways! Really fast!”

    “Yep.”

    “You gotta teach me that trick sometime!”

    “Maybe.”

    The stunt did prove to be more than flashy, it was effective. Tach's speeder was able to maintain speed and was now catching up to the race leader. Then after a few more moments was alongside him. Elayne whooped and shot a rude gesture at the driver of the Airtech.

    “The Brat Side of the Force is strong within you.”, Tach said mirthfully.

    “Oh shut it!”, Elayne responded in her best prudish voice and gave Tach the same rude gesture, “I'm having fun!”

    “Turn!”, Tach warned before wrenching the speeder into another inertial compensator straining turn. Elayne had woohoo'd through this one. She then kept an eye out for the new second place runner.

    “Hey he made it around the turn.”

    Pause.

    “Tach, I think he's catching up.”

    Another pause.

    “Yeah, he's definitely catching up.”, Elayne warned with a tinge of worry in her voice.

    “Tell me when you see white smoke.”, Tach requested.

    “'kay!”

    Tach counted down from five on his hand. When he reached one Elayne confirmed the white smoke. “What does the white smoke mean?”

    “Boosters run hot. That's why I don't use 'em. He's flushing coolant through the boosters for rapid cooling. It's an amateur mistake to attempt it this early in a race.”, Tach explained casually, “Next step is going to be black smoke with interesting noises.”

    The Airtech had finally caught up to Tach's speeder. And then there was black smoke. And there were very interesting engine noises. And cursing from the amateur driver as his speeder began shutting down important systems. Elayne smiled sweetly and waved as the red Stingray pulled away.

    ”Cali probably would have enjoyed this.”, Elayne had thought quietly to herself. She looked back at the second placer, ”Though, she likely would have shot that guy at the starting line.”

    After a few more waypoints(Tach had put extra effort into making them flashy, just for Elayne's enjoyment) an alert chimed in to announce an incoming call, of which Tach accepted. “Congratulations, driver.”, a male voice announced with a holovid quality regal tone, “You have earned the privilege of driving for me. Please, meet me at the location I have uploaded to your locator in three hours so that we may get better acquainted.” The transmission ended and the locator beeped as a new waypoint downloaded.

    “Three hours. Plenty of time for that dinner I promised you.”, Tach offered with a smile.

    “Great! I'm starved! It's a date!”, Elayne replied enthusiastically.

    With a nod Tach veered the craft purposely in a certain direction for a specific destination. There was a brief pause before he spoke up again. “Um, Elayne, I have to ask. What was with that change? I mean from bitter and indifferent before the race straight to adrenaline fueled enthusiasm with a helping of cocky trash talking?”

    “Umm..”, Elayne started modestly. Was she blushing? “Well, I was having fun. I had no idea that this silly sport of yours was this exciting. I've never done anything like this before.”, she shared bashfully.

    “Are you serious?”, Tach replied with surprise, “Never been to a club? Celebration of some sort? A party? Anything?”

    She remembered a party, on Rothana, but she had to stay behind on the ship. Had to avoid the 'Imperial eye'. All she got was take-out and undeserved enmity from being an unwitting messenger. Elayne frowned at the memory and replied quietly, “No.”

    “Well, then, that's gonna change!”, Tach stated firmly in an attempt to restore her better mood.

    Elayne allowed herself a smile at the man's enthusiasm. “That's kind of you but.. I do stand out a bit. Jedi sometimes have trouble blending in. Like we're trouble magnets or something.”

    “Give me a chance, dear Elayne.”, Tach said smoothly, “First we're going to my Image Designer, then I'm taking you shopping. Dinner will be slightly delayed.”
    Last edited by Gibson8088; 08-05-2012 at 01:02 PM.

  10. #130
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    Cali was still furious with Reil on the way back from the Dawncaller, so Reil was waiting until they were in their hangar before trying to talk with her. To, y’know, protect innocent bystanders from the shooting. And the cursing. Just as they got in however, Reil’s comlink rang. Reil sighed, and took the call, as Cali ignored him and went up the ramp into the Whydah.
    “This is Reil.”


    “Hello Mr. Reil, my, associate, tells me you have some cargo I need to buy from you.”

    Reil glanced back at the ship, and then focused.
    “Yeah. . . That I do.”


    Mr. Strand and Zealos hammered out the details of his purchase, in a relatively quick amount of time. Zealos’ entire hold of cooling agent to be picked up by Strand’s people immediately, for the low, low price of twelve thousand credits. And Reil was never to call him ‘Helly’ ever again.

    Reil was satisfied with the deal, although in hindsight he should have taken the time to define immediately, because it was half an hour later, and he was still waiting for the frelling movers to come and take his cargo. He didn’t want to go see Cali until this was concluded, because. . . Well it was mostly because he was stalling, but what if the movers came and they were still arguing? What if they came and she really had shot him? That would be awkward. No, better to let her fume for a bit longer.

    He filled the time by going over the finances with this trip. If he factored in the fuel costs, the landing fees, bar tab, what he was going to have to spend getting the electrical worked on by real mechanics, what he’d need to save so that they could afford to buy new cargo and sell it, and food for the next week, he was pocketing all of seven hundred credits. His most profitable run yet. On the upside though, no taxes!
    Reil sighed. Flying an X-Wing and killing Imperials had been so much more straightforward.

    *************


    When the movers did arrive, they made up for lost time in a hurry. Their foreman handed Reil credits, Reil in turn lowered the cargo ramp, and they went to work. It was all very professional, no smoke breaks, no chatting, nobody mentioned that they couldn’t lift this kind of cargo because of union rules and they’d have to wait and bring someone else in on it. Quietly Reil wondered how much these guys were getting paid, because it looked like they must be making more than him.

    Reil inspected the empty cargo when they were finished and gone. It looked empty. Which was good, he supposed, since that meant they didn’t leave anything behind. Which would have been bad. He raised the ramp and sighed again. Can’t stall any more. Time to face the music.

    Reil found Cali in the cockpit, sitting in the pilots’ chair. She swivelled to face him before he could begin.
    “Is this boring you Reil?”


    Reil was caught off guard by the question. For one thing there was no shouting, and for another, no swearing.
    “Is what boring me?”


    Cali made a sweeping gesture at the cockpit.
    “This. Playing at being the captain.”


    Reil frowned. Confused. More so than before.
    “I’m not playing at anything. I am the captain. I actually have documentation supporting that!”


    Cali shook her head.
    “That’d be fine, except at first opportunity to do so, you’re off to find to rebels with Fi and track down Tam, all the while we got bills to pay, and troubles enough with going off on same damned idealistic crusade!”


    Reil tossed her the credits.
    “We just got paid today. Which is entirely thanks to the fact that I wanted to help of out Fi and her damned idealistic crusade! I’m not playing at anything Cali. Why, is this just a game to you?”


    Cali sighed.
    “No, it’s just. . . I’d get it, alright? If you were not happy with how things were going. I mean, we only just escaped being sent to the spice mines, or worse, and ever since we did escape we’ve been scraping to get by, and the work isn’t really falling into our laps. We needed this job just to get off the station, so I’d get it if this was you throwing in the towel and heading back to the rebellion.”


    Reil sat down in the co-pilot seat.
    “That’s what you’re worried about? That I’d give up on the Whydah to go chase after Tam?”


    Cali nodded mutely.
    “That’s ridiculous, it’s my ship, I’m not giving it up!”

    Cali glared at Reil, who quickly amended his statement.
    “Our ship. But the point’s the same, I’m not abandoning the Whydah.”


    Cali frowned.
    “Aren’t you though? Tracking Tam won’t fix the power surges in the cockpit, and Fi’s movie star friend isn’t gonna keep being able to sell our cargo for us. And the Rebels. . . Are we gonna make cargo runs in between your combat mission’s now? ”


    “We’re tracking Tam ‘cause he used to be our friend, and because he’s dangerous the way he is. Dangerous to us,” Reil stressed, “And no, Fi’s friend isn’t gonna be able to sell our cargo, but that’s fine since we’ll do it ourselves. Like we were doing before. And there will be no combat missions for the Rebels. Ever again. You made it clear last time where you stood on that, so all we’re gonna do is give them a heads up, and then they might even buy some of that cargo from us. Just a quick: Hey there’s a crazy force user around who can rip ships apart with his mind, might wanna look into that, and while you’re looking buy our illegal goods. So no I am not giving up on our supply business. This is just. . . something we need to pursue, alright?”

    Cali sighed.
    “If this is that important to you, then, yeah, I can put up with it. I still don’t see the percentage in doing this, but we got paid today and that’s a start. So long as keeping the ship running and kitchen stocked comes before helping the helpless killer child, we’re good.”


    Reil grinned.
    “Careful now, you start agreeing with me and doing the right thing, and pretty soon you’ll develop a conscience. And then before you know it, you’re a real girl with feelings and everything.”


    Cali stuck out her tongue and began going through the pre-flight checklist.
    “Shut up.”


    ***********************


    As the Whydah broke atmosphere, Reil began searching the scanners, trying to locate the Dawncaller. When he finally did, he noticed there was a much bigger ship already docked with it.
    “That wasn’t part of the plan. Bring us in closer Cali, I don’t like this.”
    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. #131
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    Holdouts

    Imperial Center, Owara

    The smoke of new fires mingled with a new wave of stormclouds, bringing about that smell that Captain Gilian Errolt had grown to hate. The smell, strong and unmistakable, was all that remained of another of the Imperial resistance cells; the desperate Lord Pavana spared none of the city’s buildings in bringing and end to Errolt’ brave resistance fighters. Who knew how many were left now? Hundreds? Dozens? Just his own cadre of men?

    His beleaguered soldiers had fought bitterly and bravely, but in the end Pavana’s own forces had proved too strong. They had driven the Imperials from their base in the abandoned mine, surprising resistance forces by digging in from other sites. Errolt and several of his trusted men had stayed behind while civilians had fled, and had barely escaped themselves before the tunnels were overrun with Pavana’s scum. It was a bittersweet feeling, pressing the button that triggered the detonation string on what they had come to consider their home for so many months so that it came crashing down on those reprobates.

    The new home for the Imperial resistance was in Imperial Center itself. It seemed fitting, really, that their final redoubt would be in a place so named. They had wrested control of the planet’s communications relay, and surrounded it with several traps which would keep Pavana’s men busy should they try to make their way in, but it hadn’t stopped them from whittling away at those who found refuge elsewhere.

    Somewhere in the back of his head, Errolt couldn’t help but blame all this on Ziro Caldera and his ragtag followers. He couldn’t deny the help they had been when they were here, but that was the caveat. He had no idea whether or not they had accomplished the missions he had given them—no idea whether the Empire had heard his message or not—and since they up and left without the slightest report back to him, he may never know. Like all other ‘freedom fighters,’ they had their uses, but in the end they exhibited a lack of discipline that inevitably led to disappointment or worse.

    There was no denying that every day had been worse since their actions on Owara. His paranoia spurred, Pavana had redoubled his efforts on securing the planet for himself. Errolt and his men had considered sending another message to the Empire, but any outward transmission would have given away their presence like a lone shrieker. So they waited; it was only a matter of time before, booby traps or not, Pavana would bring an end to the Imperial resistance on Owara.

    “Sir,” Stebs tapped Errolt on the shoulder. “You’re not gonna believe this…”

    He directed Errolt’s attention to see Teece, her broad smile redirecting joyful tears to trace wide courses down her blue cheeks. “It’s an Imperial signal, Gil. Look!” She removed a headset from her ears and switched it to the central holoprejector, where a man stood in Imperial uniform.

    “—iral Harmod of the Star Destroyer Edacious. Let it be known that the violent seizure of the planet Owara is contrary to the will of the Emperor and will be curtailed by any force necessary. If there is any Imperial resistance with the power to do so, please respond. Repeat, this is Admiral Harmod of the Star Destroyer Edacious…”

    “Well,” grinned Errolt, “looks like my message got through after all…”

  12. #132
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    Experimental Ordinance

    “I’m glad to hear from you, Admiral,” Captain Errolt said to the blue-scanned ghost before him. “We’re hanging on by a thread down here.”

    “Hold your ground, Captain. We’re preparing reinforcements for descent.”

    “With all due respect, Admiral, I don’t know if it will get here soon enough.” Out of the corner of his eye, Errolt saw Stebs flash a hand signal at him before leveling his rifle out of a small, smashed out window. On the other side of him, Teece was gathering vital equipment, including a blaster pistol she looked like she could barely handle. “By sending you this message, we’ve given away our hiding place and Pavana’s men are on their way. We’ll do the best we can, but by the time your landing craft reach us there might not be anything left to rescue.”

    The holographic admiral considered this then turned to some unseen assistant. “We’ll have to do something faster, then. Commander, scramble the Seemacs.”

    The transmission closed as orbital forces got to work, and Errolt set about preparing himself to hold on long enough for help to arrive. Sidling up to him, Teece said, “What’s a Seemac?”



    High in orbit above Owara, the Star Destroyer Edacious angled its bow toward the war torn settlements below. Like fire wasps from a hive, a dozen swift spearheads burst into flight, trailing lambent clouds as they punched into the planet’s atmosphere. Reaching ground level, these rockets leveled off and transformed, unfolding to reveal triangular maneuvering fins and a pair of proton torpedo launchers. The cruisemissile assault craft—or CMAC—was designed by the Empire for near-instantaneous precision strikes.

    The best pilots the Academy could muster were chosen to guide these swift engines of destruction to their targets and deliver ordinance with greater accuracy than more traditional TIE bombers. Jinrai Squadron took to this particular mission with enthusiasm, approaching Imperial Center so low to the ground that their twin thruster engines ignited the already scorched fields surrounding the besieged city.

    Ahead, an army of warriors loyal to Lord Pavana amassed, their attention directed on the few brave remnants of the planet’s Imperial garrison who tenaciously held their ground behind makeshift ramparts and hastily fashioned IEDs. The hostiles never saw the CMACs until they saturated the courtyard near the city’s communication center with a barrage of proton torpedoes.

    As the smoke cleared, a young Wroonian woman climbed to the lip of a crater and shielded her eyes against the bright flames to watch the squadron bank around for another pass to confirm the hit.

    “So those are Seemacs…”

  13. #133
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    Kroff dropped to one knee and took cover at the side of the Reclamator I's main airlock door, wiped a bit of perspiration from his brow with the back of one forearm, and readied his pistol. A deep breath in, a deep breath out. Then, he reached up and thumbed the switch.

    The hatch lifted obediently, revealing the interior of an eight-meter docking tube, fully extended. At the other end of this was the Dawncaller's main airlock, its hatch also raised. And inside, the targets - Jyllis Tromso and her friend, Fiola Shaku - also taking cover, with blasters raised in his direction.

    "Don't try it," Kroff warned. "I'm a really good shot."

    "Ah, 'Muscles'..." Jyllis, on the left, sneered, "so you can speak. I think I liked you better before."

    "Just one thing right now," Kroff answered through clenched teeth, "my name ain't 'Muscles'. It's Kroff."

    Fi adjusted her aim, and called up the tube. "Your name's gonna be Prisoner Six-Thousand Twelve when this is all over, buddy. Count on it."

    Jyllis nodded. "I'm betting you're not fast enough to shoot us both, Kroff," she paused. "So what's it gonna be?"

    "I don't need to shoot you both," Kroff called back. "Just her." He nodded at Fi, upon whom his blaster was trained. "So... what's it gonna be?"

    There was silence a moment. Then, wordlessly, Jyll placed her blaster on the ground.

    "Right," Kroff nodded. "Now you."

    Fi swallowed tensely, and dropped her own blaster on the deck.

    "Good. Now, come forward. Slowly."

    The girls obeyed, standing and walking up the tube. They stopped a few meters from their captor.

    "Are they secured?" came a voice from around the corner.

    "They're secured, boss."

    "Jyllis Tromso!" Rammo the Toydarian gushed, coming around the corner with wings flapping, "Allow me to introduce my- BLEAGH!" His eyes widened at the unexpected sight and smell of the garbage-covered girls. He looked back and forth between them a few times, then reached into a vest pocket and brought forth a well-thumbed photo of the actress. Looking at the pair again, he finally settled on Jyllis.

    "What the hell happened? You look terrible!"

    Jyllis Tromso stood in slack-jawed confusion for a moment, before her face - what little could be seen of it - reddened with rage.

    "Excuse me?"

    Rammo shook his head in annoyance. "Oh, this'll never do. Kroff, take her down to the showers, let her get herself cleaned up."

    "What about the other one?"

    The Toydarian's face twisted in thought. "Hnh... you're right, I guess I'll have to keep 'em together. Okay, bring her, too. But don't let 'em run the hot water for more than five minutes," he commanded. Then, wings flapping, he retreated around a bend in the corridor.

    "And no peeking!"

    Kroff bristled slightly at the implied insult to his professionalism, then shook it off and waved his blaster toward the opposite end of the corridor.

    "This way."

    * * *

    Success!

    Rammo hummed happily as he entered his quarters, doing an awkward little dance with his gangly arms and stubby legs as he floated in the air. Then, he spun about and smacked a fist against the comm.

    "Sloat! Sloat... you awake?"

    After a moment, a groggy voice replied. "Ayuh?"

    "Hyperspace! Let's go pick up the crew, so I can show them my bride!"

    "Okay chief, but... the Dawncaller's still attached. You want me to dump it?"

    Rammo paused at this. He'd got a good look at the Dawncaller as they'd overtaken and docked with it, and it was a wizard ship. Starlight-class, sleek, black and shiny. Of course it wasn't exactly salvage per se, but he was most certainly going to have to dump its owner, the singer, sooner or later. Why let her have the ship back? It would only aid her in reaching the authorities and reporting him. Better to drop her on some backwater planet, keep the ship, and sell it later.

    "No, hang onto it. We'll perform the ceremony here, then Kroff can man it and we'll all rendezvous at Rhiev to pick up the crew."

    "Roger," Sloat replied. "Hey, chief? I've been at the board for three shifts... could use a little bunk time."

    Rammo considered. "Have a look at the scope. Anything suspicious out there?"

    "Nah, chief. Nothing I'd call suspicious."

    "Thank you for your views, Mr. Sloat. But I'm asking you if there's anything out there that I'd call suspicious."

    "Uh, no... nothing suspicious. Sir."

    "Well, stay awake and keep your eyes peeled. This is my big day!"

    "Roger," the pilot said wearily, and broke the connection.

    The Toydarian hovered there a moment, then busied himself digging through the various rubbish that littered his quarters.

    Where is it?


    Then, upon a high shelf, underneath a dusty particle fusion coil, he found it - an elegant black box. He opened it.

    Inside the box was a shiny, purple satin bow tie that Rammo had bought years ago to wear at his elder sister Harka's wedding. Rammo winced at the memory of what a fiasco that event had been. Harka was a winged witch of the worst kind, ordering her family and bridal party around like a true taskmaster, and later, at the reception, Rammo himself had actually ended up getting into a fist fight with the groom. Still, even he had to admit that it was a nice bow tie. Thirty-one credits. The salesman had wanted forty-nine for it, but Rammo had talked him down.

    He flew over to his quarters' grubby mirror, grabbed the bow tie, tossing its box onto the dirty chamber floor. Then he fastened the accessory around his neck and grinned admiringly at his reflection.

    "Lookin' sharp!"
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 07-28-2012 at 09:25 AM.
    Star Wars: Tapestry
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  14. #134
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    Owara's Last Action Hero

    As the Seemacs continued their attack, underslung laser cannons keeping time with the deafening downbeats of proton torpedo detonations, Errolt emerged from cover and sprinted across the craters and debris that was once the courtyard outside the communications building in Imperial Center. So accurate had been the reinforcements' onslaught that not a single neighboring building had suffered damage more serious than a few blast marks and broken windows. So powerful had been the onslaught that Errolt was actually having a hard time accomplishing what he had set out to do: find a survivor. He could barely even identify the species of several bodies.

    A blaster bolt zinged through the air, missing Errolt's head by mere centimeters. Instinctively he ducked into a roll and, while maintaining an erratic pattern of movement, waved his arm in a message pattern that meant, "Disable, don't kill." From his own spot near the communications building, the sharp eyed trooper Stebs fired his own sniper rifle, sending the bolt crashing through the third story window of a nearby building that hopefully left the target alive enough for a little interrogation.

    Errolt approached the building quickly but cautiously, wracking his memory for what he knew of the building's floor plan. It was a standard prefab edifice, likely configured to serve as office space for administration support services. The third floor would most likely be dominated by one large space of cubicle terminal stations. The being who had nearly shot Errolt-- and that Stebs had likely winged-- would no doubt be somewhere in that room.

    Instead of using the front doors, however, Errolt slipped along the side of the building and forced open the door to the emergency exit stairway. As he did so, an alarm klaxon throughout the building added itself to the rhythm of strafing Seemacs outside. Errolt cursed himself silently; he had chosen these back stairs for more surprise than arriving in the turbolift would have offered, but with the alarm blaring he might as well have made an appointment. No sense in complaining now. With any luck, the Pavanan sniper was under the impression that an entire platoon was converging on him. That fear was something Errolt could use.

    Ascending the stairs to the third floor reminded Errolt that his days of active field service should probably come to an end soon. Some island pension property on a paradise world sounded nice, and maybe he could convince Teece to leave her own career and take up beach bumming with him. She always talked about having a traditional Wroonian wedding back on Pantora, and maybe he'd oblige her...

    Pausing briefly at the third floor landing to catch his breath, he peered through the small transparisteel window of the door, then ducked back against the wall as a high powered blaster bolt smashed through and superheated the space where his head had been. The sniper was still up, and he was mad.

    Errolt entered the room at a crouch. It was impossible to see the whole of the office space, even when he peeked over the cubicle half-walls. Support columns and free-standing terminal kiosks staggered the room, and the sniper could be hiding behind any one of them.

    So, he thought, the tusk cat enters the minoviper's den...

    As he made his way between the cubicles, careful to keep his head down, Errolt noticed that all the alarm klaxons in this room had been blasted. Apparently the sniper hadn't liked the noise, and preferred the office space to be eerily quiet, strangely isolated from the cacophony outside.

    Finally, Errolt spotted the sniper, or rather, his feet. The being was leaning against one of the cubicle walls near the bank of windows through which Stebs had winged him, and he had carelessly left his thick, splay-clawed toes in plain view. Errolt burst into the open space to catch the sniper off guard, but when he trained his blaster on the sniper and shouted to see hands in the air, he began to realize his mistake. The sniper, a Besalisk by the looks of him, lay slumped against the wall, his wide, toothy mouth aslack, with a broad tongue lolling out to the side. Four thick arms draped lifelessly on the floor, one still holding a high-powered blaster rifle. An experimental toe poke from Errolt confirmed it: the sniper was dead.

    But if the sniper was dead, who had shot at Errolt when he first arrived?

    "You should know," a reedy, feminine voice said as the barrel of a blaster jammed into Errolt's back, "that Lord Pavana has us use the buddy system..."

  15. #135
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    The Whydah crept towards the Dawncaller and the ship it was attached to at a leisurely pace. Reil was hunched over the com.
    Dawncaller this is Whydah, what’s your status, over?”


    There was no reply from Fi, and no activity from either ship. The Dawncaller wasn’t even powered up, if it wasn’t for the Reclamator I holding it in place, it would have drifted off by now. Reil sighed.
    “Turn your back on them for five minutes, and they go get themselves kidnapped.”


    “You don’t know that,” Cali chimed helpfully as she took the ship on a wide turn around the Reclamator I, “I’ll bet there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this so we don’t have to investigate.”

    Reil turned and cocked an eyebrow at her.
    “Like what?”


    Cali grinned lopsidedly.
    “Maybe they’re asking for directions?”


    Reil considered this.
    “Who’s asking for directions, Fi or this new ship?”


    Cali shrugged.
    “Either, or.”


    “So rather than just transmit nav data, they parked, came aboard the Dawncaller, and then powered it down, because. . . nav computers work better when they’re offline?”

    “Seems legit to me. Case closed, let’s go on ahead and make the jump to lightspeed, and let those wacky celebrities catch up later.”

    Reil considered this.
    “Sure thing.”


    Cali paused, and turned to Reil.
    “Wait, really?”


    Reil nodded sagely.
    “Yeah, I’m convinced. Stopped and asked for directions. ‘Course, Fi and Jyllis never told me where they wanna head to, so we better dock and get some directions ourselves.”


    Cali frowned turning back to the controls.
    “You’re a bad person, getting my hopes up like that.”


    Reil sighed.
    “Yeah, I’m just terrible. Assuming that they are kidnapping Jyllis and Fi, and not having a grand ol time manually scanning star charts, I’d assume most of the crew is probably by the tube connecting the ships. So I want you to dock on the far side of that, and I’ll take a look around, see if I can spot some celebrities.”


    Cali turned to face Reil.
    “You take a look around? I’m coming in with you!”


    Reil shook his head.
    “I’ll need someone manning the ship, in case the crew of the Reclamator I notices that they’ve got an extra ship attached to their hull. Then you’ve gotta pull back well out of this things range and alert the authorities. The Reclamator I is way out of the Whydah’s weight class.”


    Cali was less than thrilled with this plan.
    “Why don’t we just do that now then? The whole planets looking for Jyllis, we could just call Bespin Wing Guard and have them sort this out.”


    Reil grinned wryly.
    “Since when are you a fan of law enforcement?”


    “I’m not, but this is one of those rare occasions when we don’t have anything to hide. Let the police take the risks, we can just sit back.”

    Reil shook his head again.
    “Naw, Fi seemed to think some of their guards were dirty, if we call them now they might well tip off the
    Reclamator I that we’re here and trying to rescue them. Better to save it as a last resort.”

    Cali still wasn’t convinced.
    “Well then you stay on the ship and I’ll go in and rescue them.”


    “No.” Reil said flatly.

    Cali frowned.
    “Why the frell not?”


    “Because I don’t know what’s on the ship, and it’s probably really dangerous.”

    “I can handle danger!” Cali insited.

    “So can I. And I want you on the ship while I handle it.” Reil declared, closing the discussion.

    Cali manoeuvred them to the far side of the Reclamator I, as Reil prepared to board. Preparing in this case being filling his pockets with spare power cells. He glanced up to see how Cali was doing.
    “Don’t come in too sharply, we don’t want them to know we’re here.”

    Cali compensated by veering sharply away from the Reclamator I.
    “Don’t get too far, we don’t wanna look like we’re avoiding it.”

    Cali tossed an annoyed look over her shoulder at Reil.
    “You said to keep our distance.”

    Reil nodded.
    “Yeah, keep your distance, but don’t look like you’re trying to keep your distance.”

    Cali gave Reil a blank look.
    “What?”

    Reil shrugged.
    “Y’know, fly casual.”

    Cali gritted her teeth in frustrations.
    “This is why you should be flying and I should go in.”

    Reil mussed her hair as he exited the cockpit.
    “If they spot you, there won’t be any room for subtle flying, just blast away and call in the cavalry. You don’t need me for that.”
    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.

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