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Thread: Star Wars: Tapestry, Volume III

  1. #136
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    With his hands placed carefully and conspicuosly on the back of his head, Errolt silently cursed falling into the trap and not chasing after the sniper-- snipers, actually-- without backup.

    Keeping her rifle trained on Errolt's heart, the Pavanan sniper walked around to face him directly. Her olive skin and crown of tiny thorns gave her away as a Zabrak. "What have we here?" she said, eyeing the plack on his uniform. "An Imperial captain! Things must be rough if you guys are putting captains on the front lines.

    "Step away from the window," she added abruptly, motioning with her blaster. "Let's not hang around and wait for your sharpshooter friend to get a good shot at me. Poor Segen made that mistake." She stepped over the dead Besalisk, and beckoned for Errolt to follow. "Lord Pavana will be happy to get his hands on another officer. He just loves torturing information out of you guys before watching you die..."

    Errolt ignored the rest of the female's rambling threats. "You aren't going to get very far out there, what with my friends in the sky."

    "Who says we're going outside, you arrogant feke! We're taking the tunnels."

    "Tunnels?"

    "My, but you bucketheads are thick! Pavana's been digging underground bases since he got here. We've been crisscrossing the planet under your Imperial noses for years; you'll never find all of us."

    "Spoken like a true upstart," Errolt scoffed. "You might wipe us out, but you're so used to seeing your cause as nothing more than a protest that you won't know what to do with Owara once you have it."

    That did it. Something snapped inside the Zabrak woman, and with a contralto snarl she cracked the butt of her rifle across Errolt's skull. The man fell to the ground, rolling toward the sniper and kicking out with a leg to sweep her off her feet.

    But the woman was ready, and she was spry. She easily skipped out of his reach and brought her blaster rifle to bear on him. Errolt resolved himself to the imminent death he would experience at the hands of this younger, better warrior.

    When the volley of blaster bolts pierced the air, however, Errolt never felt the white hot char of blaster bolts steal away his life. He looked up, and saw the Zabrak sniper diving for cover behind a cubicle wall, narrowly avoiding a rain of blaster bolts.

    As he dove for cover himself, Errolt looked for the source of the fire and saw, peeking through the smashed window of the stairwell door, the most beautiful golden eyes he had ever seen, framed within the blue face of the woman who had stood by him through so many hardships on Owara. "Teece!" he shouted. "Get back!"

    She heeded him just in time, for the Zabrak sniper had switched her blaster to an automatic mode, spraying enough fire that the stairwell door turned to atoms. The whole office space filled with heat and smoke, which Errolt used to shield his own attack. Lunging over the half wall, he landed on the Zabrak and wrenched the gun from her hands. He dealt the woman the same rifle blow she had given him, and after confirming her unconsciousness, he said, "Nice shooting there, Teece."

    The Wroonian woman stepped through the gaping hole that was once a doorway. "I didn't even hit her, did I?"

    "You distracted her," he offered, "which it turns out is all I needed to get the upper hand." After a moment, Errolt decided that the encounter warranted him saying something he'd never told her before. "I love you, Teece."

    "I know," she said, wry nonchalance masking her inner thrill. "Why else would I stick my neck out to save your pretty pink choobies? Now come on, let's get that backrocket bimbo back to the comm center before she wakes up..."

  2. #137
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    Mr. Mace bobbed impatiently in the air on the Dawncaller's darkened bridge. The Food Lady had ordered him to wait here and, though the little fabool couldn't understand human language, he had concepts like 'stay' pretty much down. However, as far as he was concerned, his obligation to obey such commands diminished in direct proportion to how much time had passed since the words were uttered - and though he couldn't really tell time either, Mr. Mace felt that enough time had passed to afford him a little leeway.

    Fluttering his tiny wings, the downy white globe floated aft, toward the ship's lounge. People tended to spend their time there, and it was also the one place on the small transport where he was most likely to be given treats. It was a good place.

    Alas, no people - and thus, no treats. Nonplussed, Mr. Mace studied the chamber, settling his attention on the chamber's starboard wall, on his left. Part of it wasn't a wall anymore! That was interesting.

    The hole in the wall connected to a tube, made of more of the same stuff that the Dawncaller was made of. Mace flew up the tube, and found... a whole new place! The thrill of discovery coursing through his veins, the little fabool sniffed the air. It smelled weird here, but certainly not uninteresting. With a pioneering spirit and an empty belly, Mr. Mace picked a direction at random and set about exploring the Reclamator I...

    * * *

    In the salvage vessel's galley, Rammo the Toydarian, on wings of his own, flew to the chamber's cold unit and wrenched its door open. Retrieving three large, torpedo-shaped sandwiches encased in plastic, he tossed them onto some plates he'd arranged on one of the galley's two large tables and, with a dirty knife, cut the plastic wrappings from them. Studying the sandwiches for a moment, their ends hanging off the plates, he abruptly grabbed one of them and tossed it back into the cold unit. Then, using the dirty knife once more, he cut one of the two remaining sandwiches in half and divided these between two of the plates. Examining the arrangement, he grunted in satisfaction and seated himself in front of the large sandwich, of which he took a big bite. A door panel buzzed.

    Rammo dropped the sandwich onto his plate. "Enter!" he called out around his mouthful, adjusting his bow tie.

    A hatch hissed open, on the other side of which stood Jyllis Tromso and Fiola Shaku. Though dripping wet and totally un-styled, they were finally clean. The clothing they'd worn, soiled beyond any hope of repair, had been thrown into the trash and replaced with ridiculously large, neon-green salvage coveralls with reflective silver stripes around the wrists, waist and ankles. They stood uncertainly until Kroff, blaster trained on them both, directed the pair into the room.

    "Come, sit!" Rammo invited, "Eat!"

    The girls looked at each other. The truth was, neither of them had had a bite to eat since before that morning's shoot had begun, and they were ravenous. Their host appeared to mean no immediate harm, and Kroff, though certainly armed and dangerous, didn't appear to be trigger-happy. They wordlessly took a pair of the table's many plastic chairs, and set to work on the sandwiches.

    Barely noticing Fi, Rammo watched Jyllis eat and nodded his approval. "I bet you're wondering why I invited you here!"

    The actress paused momentarily, then took another bite. "To have me call my producers and announce your ransom demands."

    "Ransom?" the Toydarian asked. "Ms. Tromso, you misunderstand; you are about to become Mrs. Rammo, the wife of me, Rammo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rammo's Reclamation Company, Incorporated!"

    Fi's jaw dropped, revealing a good portion of half-chewed sandwich. "You want to marry her?"

    Rammo's face twisted in irritation. "Lady, I don't want to marry her, I'm going to marry her!"

    "Thanks," Jyllis replied, taking another bite, "but I decline."

    "But you don't know me yet!" Rammo offered. "Are you enjoying the sandwich? They're usually five credits apiece, but I get 'em from a guy who gives me twelve for thirty!"

    "It's rubbish," Jyllis retorted and kept eating.

    Rammo frowned. "Well, after the wedding, we'll sample the instant noodles."

    "This is a big ship," Fi observed. "Where is everybody?"

    "Shore leave!" Rammo supplied. "No sense paying everyone to sit around on a job that me, Kroff, and Sloat could pull off ourselves." He turned again toward Jyllis. "You human women love a thrifty thinker, isn't that right?" he asked, waggling his brow ridges up and down.

    "What I love," Jyllis returned, "is for a guy who's made a mistake to face up to it, and make it right."

    "Seriously," Fi agreed. "What, you think you can conduct a wedding at gunpoint?"

    "Countless weddings have been conducted at gunpoint on many worlds for centuries," Rammo countered. "Why, on my own planet, King Flogar married his beloved at gunpoint, and they eventually went on to produce nineteen offspring!"

    Jyllis put down her sandwich. "I'm gonna be sick."

    Rammo studied the actress, unsure if she was being serious. "Kroff, find her a bucket."

    Jyllis Tromso straightened in her seat, and faced the Toydarian with a piercing gaze. "Mr. Rammo, I want to be clear with you. We can't get married."

    "Of course we can," the Toydarian protested. "You've got your Maid of Honour, and I've got my Best Man..." he nodded at Kroff, who nodded back.

    "But who's gonna perform the ceremony," Fi interjected, "you?"

    "Of course!" Rammo beamed. "I'm the ship's captain! That's all it takes!"

    "Rammo," Jyllis interrupted, "I won't marry you. And it's not because of a technicality. It's not even because we are of a different species. It's because you are a jerk. Do you have an equivalent of that word in your native language? It's because you are the cause of at least one senseless death, because you've terrified me and my friend, because you've brought me here against my will, and because you are, when all is said and done, even despite your crummy bow tie, a jerk. Have I made myself clear?"

    Rammo the Toydarian dropped his sandwich onto his plate, sat in silence a moment, then flew to one of the galley's comm panels and smacked a switch. "Sloat," he demanded, "do you hear me?"

    "Yeah, chief," came the reply, "wassup?"

    "No interruptions," the Toydarian seethed, "we're performing the ceremony right now!"
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 08-06-2012 at 04:42 PM.
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  3. #138
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    Reil sighed as he passed the broken turbolift for the second time. He was going in circles already. He took out his comlink.
    “Hey, Cali?”

    The response was immediate.
    ”I’m here! Trouble?”

    Reil frowned.
    “Of the less than exciting kind. I’m lost.”

    There was a pause.
    “Lost? It’s a spaceship Reil, not a hedge maze. What do you mean you’re lost?”

    Reil’s frowned deepend. If looks could kill, the comlink might’ve suffered some mild discomfort.
    “Yeah, well I’m not proud of it, but I can’t seem to find a way into the rest of the ship. I’ve done a full lap around the lower levels. It looks like these used to be crew quarters, but they’ve been stripped and retrofitted to hold. . .”

    “Cargo?” Cali supplied helpfully.

    “Junk.” Reil decided upon. “Anyway, I’ve found a lift up to the upper decks, but the control panel down here is busted, so I can’t call it down. I’d need somebody to bring it down before I could take it up.”

    Cali started to grow impatient.
    “And? Whadya want me to do about it, call their bridge and complain?”

    “Well aside from your really helpful sarcasm, I was hoping the computer had finally identified the make of the ship, so you could pull up some schematics for me.”

    “Nope, the computer still doesn’t know what the hell you’re on. You’ll have to find your own way up.”

    Reil rolled his eyes.
    “Typical.”

    Reil was about to put away his comlink when Cali chimed in again.
    “You know, if I were you, I’d look for something important to break.”

    Reil considered this.
    “Well that'd make me feel better, but I don’t see how it would help.”

    He could hear Cali sighed from across the com channel.
    “Because if it was important enough, they’d have to send someone down the lift to fix it.”

    Reil looked up at the network of pipes over his head thoughtfully.
    “Hmmm. . .”

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

    Cali waited expectantly at the com, as it fell silent on Reil’s end for several minutes. Then it crackled to life.
    “Well that outta do it!”

    Reil sounded so proud, Cali wondered if he even remembered it was her idea.
    “The turbo lift is coming down?”

    “Well, no, not right this second. But soon I’ll wager.”

    Cali was skeptical.
    “What makes you so sure?”

    “I busted the outflow to the water tank. Someone will be down any minute to try and stop the venting.”

    Cali frowned.
    “Well that’s good. I think. Where’d you get the water to drain to though, I thought you were stuck on that deck?”

    There was pause.
    “Drain? Ummm, yeah. . . Well I don’t really have a spot to drain it. So now it’s mostly around my ankles.” Reil admitted sheepishly.

    “Reil!” Cali shouted into the com.

    “Relax, Cali, everything is fine.”

    “Fine? You’re flooding the compartment you’re in! How is that fine?!”

    Reil spoke in soft soothing tones.
    “Cali, relax. Right now alarms are going off in the cockpit alerting the pilot to the water leak. They’ll send someone down any minute to fix it. And when they do, then I’m on the lift up, and it’s some other poor sap whose job it is to deal with it. ”

    Cali was unconvinced.
    “You’re sure?”

    “Don’t worry. I’ll bet news of the leak is all over the ship right now, if they’ve got a pilot who’s even half awake.

    *******************************
    Aparently half awake is too much to ask for these days, Reil noted ruefully, as the water level was already past his waist, and still no activity from the lift. He had thought about heading back the Whydah, but it seemed that to prevent flooding the entire lower level the ships computer had sealed the hatchway into the other rooms.
    "Okay, I could, maybe be in some peril here."

    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. #139
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    “What do you think, Tach?”

    Elayne was trying on her third outfit at a trendy clothing shop, Fiery Matter, and studying herself in the mirror. Not long ago the pair was finishing up with a skilled Image Designer where Elayne settled on her new hair style. ”It's called a short jagged cut fringe bang style.” with “Perma-Dye hair treatment, it's all the rage.” to keep the hair purple with black streaks. When Elayne had asked Tach why she needed to change her appearance he answered with ”To blend in with the racing scene. Besides, how many Jedi, Dark or Light, have you seen with stylish hair and wear modern clothes?”. Elayne shared that she honestly hadn't thought of this before.

    “I mean,”, Elayne continued as she studied herself in the mirror, “I can move quite freely in this outfit, and it is surprisingly comfortable, but”, she turned to view her outfit from another angle, “isn't this just a bit too revealing?

    The Jedi was wearing quite the outfit; a pair of sturdy black boots that stop just above the ankles, black leather shorts decorated with a pair of red pinstripes that run down the hips. Snug upon her waist was a combat worthy belt with attached thigh holster. And for the torso was a black and red sports bustier coupled with a black short sleeved jacket that stopped just below her ribs.

    “Tach?”, Elayne asked at the reflection of the quiet smuggler behind her. He finally changed out of that ridiculous trench coat and body armor into a decent leather jacket. At the moment it would appear he was enjoying the vision that stood before him. Admiring her jimp, fit figure-

    “TACH!”, the vision of loveliness snapped, waking Tach from some strange hypnosis. Thinking quick he replied appropriately, “What?!”

    Elayne crossed her arms in front of her and attempted a stern expression, but was unable to hide an amused smirk. “I take it you approve of this outfit?”

    “Uh huh!” He nodded, too.

    Tach was caught off guard when she started giggling. A Jedi was actually giggling! He smiled at Elayne then turned to the shopkeeper. “We'll take it and the other outfits she tried!”, he said as he handed the being an amount of credits. Returning his attention back to Elayne he asked, "Ready to go?"

    “Yes! Take me to dinner, you lech.”, Elayne commanded with a smile, “I'm hungry!”

    The pair soon left the shop and took off into the skyways of Coruscant. After a few moments she mentioned to Tach, “While I do like these clothes there's not really someplace for my-”, she held out her lightsaber to finish her sentence.

    Tach acknowledged her concern with a nod, “I was thinking about that in the store. Think I have an idea you'll like.”

    “Really? It looked like you only had one thing on your mind back there to me.”, she mischievously replied.

    “Hey!”, he objected with feigned offense. Elayne smiled sweetly. Tach returned her smile and shook his head in defeat, “Okay, I'll grant that it is somewhat difficult to concentrate with you in that outfit. But I'll manage.” She blushed and giggled again! Tach was feeling he could happily get used to that sound.

  5. #140
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    On the bridge of the Reclamator I, two separate sounds fought for supremacy. One was mechanical - an alarm, beeping urgently, tied to a flashing red readout on one of the bridge's computer screens:

    CRITICAL FAILURE:
    PRINCIPAL AQUA-TANK OUTFLOW
    STATUS:
    COMPARTMENT E-13 FLOODED 60%, ALL ADJACENT HATCHES SEALED
    REQUIRED ACTION:
    DISPATCH REPAIR TEAM. MANUAL BAIL AND OUTFLOW REPAIR REQUIRED, PRIORITY ALPHA
    ACKNOWLEDGE - 25...

    The second sound was organic. It was that of Sloat, the vessel's young pilot, head thrown back in his chair and snoring loudly.

    ACKNOWLEDGE - 13...

    The pilot twitched in his chair briefly, lost in dreams of faraway places. A thin stream of drool ran from one corner of his open mouth and, still asleep, Sloat reflexively lifted a hand and wiped it away.

    ACKNOWLEDGE - 7...

    * * *

    Jyllis Tromso and Rammo the Toydarian stood in the vessel's galley, flanked by Fi and Kroff, the man still holding his pistol in his hand. Rammo looked admiringly at Jyllis, his prisoner/bride-to-be, adjusted his purple satin bow tie, and read further from a large, old-style book he held in one hand.

    "...so it has been, and so it now shall ever be, love everlasting, in wellness, in illness, in prosperity, in poverty, until our wings no longer lift us - uh, you can ignore that part..." he looked closer at the book. "Across the stars, be it known that this man, Rammo, takes-"

    At that moment an alarm klaxon began blaring, painfully loud in the chamber, accompanied by wildly spinning red lights. Rammo's face curdled in frustration as he dropped his book onto one of the mess hall's two large tables and flew to the comm unit again.

    "Sloat! Sloat... are you there?" There was no reply. "Sloat!"

    Another moment of silence. Then, "Ayuh chief, I'm here. What's going on?"

    "You tell me!"

    "Uh..." there was another pause, made worse by the blaring klaxons, then: "Looks like we've got a busted water outflow on E-deck... there's a compartment flooding down there."

    "And what were you doing when the call came? Sleeping?"

    "Well... sorry chief, but I musta dozed off for a second. Like I said before, I'm a little tired."

    "You're gonna be a little fired if you don't get down there and sort it out! I'm gettin' married here, for cryin' out loud!"

    "Okay chief, but... who's gonna man the scope?"

    Rammo paused, trying to think despite the klaxon's hooting. Send Kroff down to E-deck instead? That'd be the quickest solution. However, it was slightly possible that his fiance, for whatever reason, might get cold feet about the wedding at the last second. Better to keep Kroff -and his blaster- right here.

    "Forget the scope! I'll take my chances. Get down there and fix it, and I expect a report the minute everything's under control!"

    "Roger."

    Rammo flew back to the group, picking up his book again and searching for where he left off.

    "Across the stars, be it known that this-"

    The alarm klaxons were drowning out his voice.

    "ACROSS THE STARS," he shouted, "BE IT KNOWN THAT..."

    Unmatched in volume, the alarms continued.

    "Oh, stuff it," the Toydarian seethed in frustration, tucking the book under one arm.

    "Let's all go up to the bridge and watch the sensors."

    * * *

    The noise in the corridor was terrifying to Mr. Mace. Such an interesting place, his exploration of which was ruined by the unnerving noise and flashing lights. He flew further down the corridor and was forced to stop at a closed hatch. The little fabool studied it, looking for any sign of comfort. All that was offered was a tiny bit of human language:

    E-13

    Of course, Mr. Mace was incapable of reading such language, but Human letters meant order - and with all the noisy chaos surrounding the little fabool at that moment, he felt like he could use a little order.

    He waited nervously beside the hatch...
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 08-26-2012 at 03:08 PM.
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  6. #141
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    Broadcast

    A planet-wide broadcast on Owara:

    Citizens of Owara, I am Captain Osiris Errolt of the Imperial Army. Let it be known that Imperial Center has been retaken, and a squad of capital ships are currently in orbit, positioned to enforce Imperial law. This message is the final effort of the Empire to sue for peace with Pavanan insurgents, after which point we will bring order to Owara with expediency.

    I now address Lord Pavana directly: doubtless, His Excellency has the wherewithal to receive this message and to respond in kind, but at this point the most effective mode of expression is through action. Call off the forces that plague and pillage the innocents of Owara and capitulate with the demands of justice.

    Now, to those of you who have pledged yourselves to Lord Pavana and his organization: renounce your fealty and you will be granted leniency. The planet's economical infrastructure has been sundered due to our prolonged warfare. Perhaps together we can rebuild what your master has so myopically undone.

    And to those within the sound of my voice who have remained loyal to the Empire despite untold hardship and tragedy: yours is the mettle that makes this empire great, and I commend you for your accomplishment. When possible, I encourage you to make your way to Imperial Center. Failing that, establish contact with us however you can, and we will arrange rescue services to see to your needs according to triage.

    This broadcast marks the turning point for the war on Owara, either Lord Pavana will exercise wisdom and cease hostilities, or the power of the Imperial Navy will root Pavana from his warren with starfire!

    Errolt Out.



    The broadcast quietly played on a continuous loop in the background, allowing Errolt to idly appreciate the smartness of the dress uniform he had worn for the holorecording. Teece had found it stowed in some locker of the communications center, and while it hadn't fit Errolt as well as his own uniform it was certainly cleaner.

    It was best to look as presentable as possible when speaking on behalf of the Empire, and he had done exactly that. One way or another, this was the turning point on Owara; he could feel it. Sitting here, with Teece quietly collating transmitted responses to his broadcast and Stebs quietly watching out the window for Pavana's next wave of invaders, Errolt knew that the end wasn't far off.

    "Here's the latest batch," said Teece, handing him yet another datapad. "Most of them are in Basic, but there's one that's encrypted. It's not any of the algorhythms I've been cleared to use, so my guess is it's a military code."

    "Thanks." That was good news. Military codes meant military men, possibly more garrison survivors. He plugged his code cylinder into the datapad to begin the decryption process. "Any word from Pavana?"

    The Wroonian shook her head. "He's holed up, scared as a jakrab. That's my guess." She probably wasn't far off. Lord Pavana was known for his paranoia, so it was no surprise that he'd made no response. The attacks had come to an end as well, but it was too early to tell whether that meant Pavana had agreed to the cease fire or whether his forces were simply assembling for a final, apocalyptic battle.

    Stebs announced the arrival of Asyn Baka only moments before the pilot entered the communications center. The captain of Jinrai Squadron kept his Seemac pilot on three-man patrol rotations; when he wasn't out on his own turn to patrol, Baka returned to the center to coordinate his pilots with the operations of the Edacious and the rest of Morning Star Squad in orbit overhead. Errolt found it infuriating, to be honest. The pilot was predictably arrogant, befitting a fighter ace, but he also insisted on being present for every communication with the navy ships. It could easily be dismissed as a desire to stay in the loop, but Errolt couldn't help but feel like Baka just didn't trust him.

    The pilot strolled into the room, his bright white flight suit looking as impeccably spotless as if there was no carnage outside. "Captain," he said, removing his helmet to show his narrow black eyes and smugly canted brows, "the crime lord's forces are nowhere to be seen. I suggest we contact Morning Star Squad for further instruction."

    Errolt stifled a snort. Spending so many months with no living superiors, he was used to making his own decisions. Baka's seeming dependence seemed humorous now, but Errolt reminded himself that it was all part of Imperial order; yet another thing that made him long for retirement. Finally, he said, "Transmission commencing."

    When the holographic being materialized in the air, however, it was not Admiral Harmod. Instead, a young boy, seated in a cross-legged position, floated in the air. Errolt rechecked the transmission details, and saw that it was not the Edacious with which he had connected but a small communications vessel called Inun. He was about to apologize for the mistake when the boy spoke.

    "I'll speak with Captain Errolt alone."

    Without the least bit of protest on his face, Baka stood and left the room. Teece met Errolt's eyes, smiling with encouragement, then she left as well. Finally, with much hesitation, Stebs picked up his blaster rifle and stepped outside.

    That voice; Errolt had heard the voice of the boy before. He recognized the boy's face too. "Hello, Mace. Long time no see..."

  7. #142
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    The First Mynock

    Captain Errolt tried not to let his emotions show. He was determined to hear the boy's story before speaking his mind. "How is Captain Ziro and the rest of your entourage?"

    "There is no Captain Ziro," said the boy cryptically, "just as there is no Mace." Aliases, then; it was the most likely explanation.

    "How long has it been since you disappeared from Owara?" Errolt mused. "Two months? Three? I had dismissed you as fickle spacers, incapable of true Imperial discipline. But now I see you've returned, and with a squad of starships, no less." He kept his own words equally ambiguous, not wanting to give voice to inaccurate assumptions or unfounded blame. After all, the presence of Morning Star Squad suggested that 'Mace,' and perhaps the others as well, had been covert Imperial operatives all along. It wouldn't be prudent to insult them now that they'd returned in force. But if that's the case, he thought sardonically, it would have been nice for them to at least let me know...

    "I've come here with a specific objective in mind," said the hologram of the boy. "Morning Star Squad not only facilitates that goal, but it allows me to accomplish other ends; blasting two mynocks in one shot."

    Errolt was aghast. "You speak as though you're in command of this rescue mission!"

    "You speak as though I'm not." Even through the imperfections of bluescan holography, the boy's eyes looked haunted and inhuman. "I command the crews of this squad by the same means I coordinated our initial efforts on Owara: psychically heightening awareness of pilots, gunners, and commanders; planting telesuggestions that ensure teamwork, implicit understanding, and a division of labor that operates with-- as you put it-- 'expediency.'"

    The Imperial captain could no longer keep his outrage from showing. "And what about the soldiers? What about my men that you sent to their deaths with your mind control? And Admiral Harmod? How does he feel about being your puppet; just a pawn you can move-- or even sacrifice-- on a dejarik table?"

    "I used to look at it as a game," the boy admitted, "but I've now come to see the subtlety of my abilities as something more like a composer, bringing together an orchestra and inspiring a virtuoso performance. But instead of musical instruments, we have starfighters and turbolasers. Instead of tablature, I use the Force."

    The Force. Errolt was no stranger to its existence. He was old enough to remember the Jedi, and their treachrous attempt to assassinate Palpatine so long ago. The Empire cut its teeth on the elimination of Force users, but Errolt knew that there were those who pledged fealty to the Emperor, functioning as his elite operatives. Even Darth Vader styled himself as one of the legendary Sith Lords. Was this boy 'Mace' a young member of those ranks?

    "I must correct you on another point, Captain." The boy must have leaned closer to his holorecorder, for the device adjusted its aperture so as to transmit only his head, and at roughly four or five times its actual size. The effect was ominous and domineering, and Errolt took an involuntary step backward. "You said earlier," the sinister youngling continued, "that this was a rescue mission. Given the reports you have given, we can't afford devoting resources to evacuation."

    All the outrage that Errolt had felt washed away in a cold wave of bewildered shock, encapsulated in a single word: "What?!"

    "As you told Admiral Harmod, Lord Pavana's organization has built a network of underground tunnels. Our sensors confirm this fact, and Pavana could be anywhere on the planet. We will be initiating
    Base Delta Zero to eliminate the threat he poses."

    The words hit Errolt like a blow to the head. Base Delta Zero! It was a military directive that had its share of hushed stories, hyperbolic jokes, and emergency instructions. Everybody knew somebody who knew somebody who had participated in an exercise where the objective was to turn the very mantle of a planet to slag. Errolt had heard his share of stories, but he believed few of them. Even the mention of it now was difficult to process. "And you won't evacuate first? What about the civilians? There are innocent people loyal to the Empire down here."

    The boy's words were cold and matter-of-fact. "Acceptable losses, given the circumstances. In the time it takes us to sow loyal Imperials from this benighted, blighted planet. Pavana could launch enough starships to overwhelm our blockade capabilities. The crime lord could be on any one of those craft or, given his physiology, all of them at once, to be reassembled from those parts of his homogeneous body at some other stronghold. It's better to keep his malignant terror contained on Owara and eliminate it swiftly."

    All those people who had fought and struggled and hoped for an end to the war on this planet would finally receive it, but not in the way Errolt had promised in his broadcast. After a final fiery nightmare, it would be over for them all. Teece would die along with the rest of them. "Please," he said, his voice cracking. "Please just send one shuttle. You remember Teece, right? She's innocent."

    The large, holographic eyes looked oddly perceptive, and even a little disdainful. "You love her."

    "I do."

    At that, the boy's face took on a frightening, predatory grin. "Good. Doomed love will make this all the more excuisite."

    "What are you talking about? If you aren't here to rescue us, then surely you're here to kill Pavana and destroy his crime ring. What do Teece and I have to do with this? Why do you have to destroy what we have?"

    "Lord Pavana's destruction is only a convenient benefit of our work here. The second mynock, as it were."

    "And what's the first mynock? What's here to make you want to decimate the entire planet?"

    "You."

    "Me?" Errolt thought he had been incredulous before, but this really took the prize. "What did I do to warrant destroying a planet? Why don't I just hand myself over and you can spare Owara?"

    "And capitulate with Pavana? No, it is decided. You have a few moments before my ships are in position to begin. Use that time as you wish, and consider it the extent of my mercy."

    Errolt regarded 'Mace' with a measure of coldness equal to what this jackal of a boy had given him. "And with that time I demand to know the reason for my death, and the deaths of everyone on this world."

    "Think of it as my own personal house cleaning. When all is said and done, you won't be around to bear witness of my existence. History is hard to erase when there are so many voices still trying to write it..."

  8. #143
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    The Symphony of Scorched Earth

    In the silence of space, the starships of Morning Star Squadron quietly arranged themselves into a double chevron formation, the star destroyer Edacious taking the point position with its two assault lines orderly trailing to either side. The squad's swifter pursuit line craft formed the second chevron, with the small Inun at its point. Their movements were graceful and organized, like a migratory flock soaring over the curvature of Owara.

    But the quiet grace of the starships belied the flurry of activity contained within. Captains bellowed orders over the dins of their respective bridges while their crews shouted status reports. Gunners powered up their stations, priming their weapons. Pilots scrambled to their fighters, preparing to launch. The frantic preparation wasn't the result of panic, however, but rather an excited anticipation at the opportunity to truly test the power of the squad. The crew's enthusiasm resembled that of an orchestra, with individual musicians tending to their instruments, fine tuning them for the coming performance.

    For his own role in the operation, Tam Dawncaller had taken his position within the Nexus sphere aboard the Inun, crouched at the core of a vast array of transistors, antennae, and other apparata that would direct and amplify his control of the Force. With this ancient Sith technology, Tam could touch the minds and wills of every crewman of the squad, inspiring them to meet their potential. He felt their suspense mount, settled into their stations and ready to begin; it was as an indrawn breath, a tensing of the fingers over instrument keys, and the placing of a bow on a string. He felt Admiral Harmod receive these reports of readiness and, like a downbeat from a conductor, he said, "Fire."

    A bright, brassy cymbal crash of turbolasers issued from every ship at once. Moments later, plumes of destruction blossomed on the planet below. With a tempo established, Morning Star Squad began its pattern of orbit, cruising forward to ensure that no square kilometer of the planet's crust escaped the assault. The turbolaser batteries strafed left and right, a staggering, staccato tattoo that built like an arpeggio of destruction, from cracking the topsoil to superheating it, and finally converting it into atomized incandescence. The first movement of this inexorable symphony had begun with all the fanfare of an Imperial march.

    Far below, the inhabitants of Owara became aware of the role they were to play in Dawncaller's masterpiece, and their panic laced the Force like a flurried counterpoint of woodwinds. As each settlement and underground installation succumbed to the fire, sharp, discordant deaths resolved into warm silence, swallowed by the growing tectonic maw.

    In a crescendo of desperation personal shuttles, tramp freighters, and starfighters powered up to blast off before they were consumed. Many were caught in the blast wave, adding their erupting power cores to the percussive splash of laser fire. But some did get away, trailing grace notes of hope as they rocketed for the stars. At this, the pursuit line broke formation, spreading out across the planet's upper atmosphere on interception vectors. Wings of TIE fighters poured from their motherships, adding the screams of their ion drives to the mounting chaos. The objective was total annihilation, and the Force sang with the anguished cries of the fallen.



    On the ground below, another movement played out, adding its heartbreaking melody to the impending destruction. Osiris Errolt, captain in the Imperial Army, burst from the communications center to greet the stunned and confused faces of Baka, a fellow Imperial captain and leader of the talented Jinrai Squadron; Stebs, a loyal Imperial soldier; and Teece, his beloved girlfriend. Errolt wanted to tell them everything, about how and why death approached on such swift heels, but no words came to his mouth. Instead, he simply took Teece in his arms, kissed her passionately, then, holding her tight, he rested his chin on top of her head and let the tears flow.

    Then he saw the Seemacs, landed but warmed for flight in the next patrol, in the cratered courtyard. Their pilots were nowhere to be seen.

    Errolt turned to Baka then, and without any words, the two men proposed their ultimatums. He and Teece were going to get in those flying missiles and flee Owara before it was utterly destroyed. Baka, with explicit secret orders, would not let them escape the fate Tam Dawncaller had prescribed for them. They made a run for the ships, but the younger, swifter Baka closed the gap quickly, producing from a hidden sheath a wicked looking blade from some ancient martial tradition. With a single swipe, he struck Errolt's heel, hamstringing his quarry.

    Shouting for Teece to keep going and save herself, Errolt rolled over to face his murderer directly. The fighter ace's eyes, which had always been disconcertingly arrogant, now shone with an eerily cold yellow. These were not the eyes of the man who had imposed himself on their communications center bastion only a few days ago, they were the eyes of the boy, who was no doubt watching Errolt's final moments through the eyes of the killer.

    But apparently the pilot's attention-- and that of the boy who guided his actions-- was so intently on Errolt that Stebs' bantha rush went unnoticed. He tackled Baka, and when the two men finished tumbling it was with Stebs on top, who lifted his sniper rifle like a club and smashed it against Baka like an enraged Sand Person. He didn't stop until the pilot's impeccably white flight suit was stained with red. Finally, his strength spent, Stebs collapsed backward and turned to look at Errolt. The hilt of Baka's blade stuck out of his chest, while the rest of it had punched through his armor as though it were flimsi. When his eyes met with those of his captain, they were lifeless.

    With the help of Teece, Errolt managed to limp to the Seemacs, and none too soon, for a glowing horizon approached. Neither of them were pilots and the controls seemed far more sophisticated than those of a civilian airspeeder, but in time they were lifting off, with the fiery razing of Owara's Imperial Center hot on their heels.

    But only the first verse of this movement was complete, and the two Seemacs increased the tempo of the chase when they closed in their triangular wings, firing their rockets in an upward trajectory. But no sooner had they risen above the smoke and steam that spread over the planet than they ran into a crisscrossing net of laser fire from TIE fighters. They juked and rolled, but their novice skills were no match for trained Imperial pilots. Errolt let out a silent scream as he watched Teece's Seemac burst with flame, and only moments later he was engulfed as well. Their voices added to the growing chorus of death and destruction.



    Aboard the Inun, Tam Dawncaller reveled in the emotions of his immolative composition. As Imperial Center was consumed, so too was the secret base in which Lord Pavana had hidden to recover from injuries and hide from hostile forces; he had not counted on Morning Star Squad. As the ringing of a massive gong, the agitated mantle of the planetary onslaught swelled and pushed through the crust, melting Pavana's underground bunker in moments and rendering he and his entourage into their constituent atoms. The volcano burst forth, sprinkling the sky with shimmering chimes of rock.

    Similar calderas blasted forth at every latitude of Owara, and Morning Star Squad gained altitude to stay above range of this destructive climax. The crust of the planet had cracked, and its burning blood seeped into the open air, covering the world with fresh stone. The symphony of scorched earth had reached its explosive end. Stray fighters and bombers withdrew to their carrier craft, and glowing, overtaxed turbolasers finally ceased their belches of fire.

    There was one final statement to this composition; a coda, quiet and brief, but no less disturbing than the previous movements. It was a din of confusion, broadcast among the few surviving escape craft around Owara, as they tried to make sense of what had just happened. Morning Star Squadron, after sundering an entire planet, had risen into space and, without any sensor trace of course alignment or hyperdrive acceleration, had simply disappeared…

  9. #144
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    Chi'ko's was one of the restaurants that catered to the upper crust of the criminal world. Their specialty was privacy and anonymity. When you wanted to dine without the CSF listening or your rivals, and you can afford it, you would go to Chi'ko's.

    Soon the couple was being escorted to their private dining room. It was tastefully decorated in noble fashion, with a well stocked bar along with other sundries. Almost like an upscale hotel, but without the beds. Elayne had to admit she was a bit awed by it all. “This is quite impressive. I've never been in a place like this before.”

    Tach was already at the bar preparing a drink. “That's because you're not a criminal, politician or noble. Drink?”

    “Umm, just a glass of wine, please. Nothing strong.”, she requested politely as she placed her backpack on the table, “So, which are you, Tach?”

    Tach skimmed through the wines and drew forth a bottle of Blossom Wine. The bottle popped crisply as Tach pulled the cork. “Criminal, but I prefer the title Gentleman Rogue.”, he declared as he filled a glass with wine.

    After grabbing the drinks he joined Elayne at the table. “Though I do like to pretend I'm noble, Milady.”, he said as he offered her the wine with a regal flourish. The Jedi gave what she felt was a noble nod before smirking as she accepted the drink. After a few sips of the wine she spoke, “So, tell me more about the Gray Jedi. You did promise, after all.”

    “And I keep my promises.”, the rogue stated as he ordered his meal from a menu tablet. After completing his order he handed the menu to Elayne and proceeded to share what he knew of the Gray Jedi.

    -=< >=-

    Paxan's face was painted in a vile toothy grin as he pulled Elayne's discarded vest from the red aircar. He had successfully tracked his prey and it was time to lay the trap. Without any remorse the humanoid canine drug a metal claw across the hood of the vehicle, leaving scars in the metal that exposed the machinery beneath. Now that the trap was set Paxan retreated into the shadows to patiently wait for his quarry to show.

    -=< >=-

    The couple continued their talk through dinner, Tach sharing his knowledge about the Gray Jedi beliefs and history while Elayne offered her thoughts. She was still unsure how to interpret the knowledge since she was still believed in the “such and such leads to the Dark Side” stigma.

    Tach stopped her with a scandalous statement, “There is no Light or Dark side.”

    “What do you mean? Of course there's a Light and Dark side!”, Elayne responded in shock.

    “Alright, then, answer me a few questions. Can a Light Side Jedi slip towards the Dark?”, Tach asked politely.

    “Yes, of course.”

    “Can a Dark Side Jedi ever do enough good to be redeemed?”

    Elayne thought for a moment, “I'd like to think so. Anyone should be able to redeem themselves if they try.”

    “So, logically, one with control of the Force can switch sides. Good to evil and vice versa, correct?”

    “Well, yes. But the temptation of the Dark Side-”, she let her statement trail off.

    “Is a farce.”, Tach finished, “Evil will do evil, whether with the Force or a gun or a stick. There are Light Side powers that can be used for evil and-”

    Elayne's eyes lit up in understanding as she remembered something, “-Dark Side powers that can be used for good! Like with Tam!”

    “With who?”

    “Tam, young force user prodigy.”, she shared offhandedly, “He got in a snit because Miss Fiola Shaku”, Elayne said with sarcasm, Tach had carefully hid his recognition of the name, “took off and he was causing trouble in an attempt to chase after her. The crew was having difficulties trying to calming him down so I”, she shrugged helplessly, “well I used the Force to choke him out a little until he passed out.”

    Tach laughed at the mental image, “See? Just what I'm talking about. Force use is all about intent. You had no intent to kill the boy, just incapacitate. Sounds like you are on the right path.”, he finished with a kind smile.

    Elayne smiled in return, “I think I understand. But what about those who fully embrace the Dark Side? I've heard about their power, and how some change physically.”

    “You mean becoming some ugly looking pieces of filth?”, Elayne nodded the affirmative so Tach continued, “Well, from what I've figured out I think it's stress. They gain power from extreme negative emotions. Like fear and rage can cause an adrenaline rush that will give a temporary boost to strength and focus. It also applies to the Force, so to keep the power they must maintain their extreme emotions. For a normal person these stresses will eventually manifest physically as wrinkles, hair loss, etc. For a Force user they are different since the Force will effect them bodily. In my opinion, if you can reign in your emotions after the job is done you should be fine.”

    Tach had paused long enough to finish off his drink while Elayne stabbed at a vegetable on her plate and ate it. Then the smuggler continued, “If you're angry, be angry! No since in fooling yourself to believe you shouldn't be, but just keep in mind what you intend to do. Force use is about intent. You intend to hurt someone, the Force will help you do it regardless of whether you use a Force Push or Lightning. Understand?”

    Elayne nodded in agreement and asked quietly, “Will you.. help me learn?”

    “I-”, he looked at her curiously and shrugged, “-well, I can try, I guess. But I obviously can't teach you any force powers.”

    “Oh! That's okay, I have all I need here. One of the strangers I traveled with, um Damon I think, inherited a lot of datapads from his Jedi family. Lots of useful information on those things! I managed to get a memory upgraded Versafuntion88 datapad and copied all of his files!”, she confessed smugly with a grin, “Here, I'll show ya!” Elayne opened her backpack and reached in to pull out the datapad. As she tugged it out a cylindrical object with strange runes had rolled out and stopped when it hit Tach's dinner plate. Upon it was what looked like a family crest.

    Tach was staring at it quietly with an emotionless expression forced on his face for several moments. Elayne watched him worriedly as she waited for the man to ask the obvious questions she thought he would be asking now. After some time she broke the silence timidly, “Tach?”

    In an eerily calm icy tone he asked, “Did you steal this?”

    “What? No!”, she replied in surprise, “It was given to me by Jedi Master Shadowsilver. I met him while I was in the Outer Rim. He helped me when I ran into trouble, then took me under his wing to help me enhance my force and combat skills. Best teacher I've had, well, ever! Then about two weeks ago he forced that thing into my hand and made me vow to find his brother. Insisted I leave immediately to do it, even. So I left the planet and have been trying to find his brother since. I don't suppose you know who his brother is, do you?”

    Tach's expression had turned to one of disgust as he picked up the strange device. “Yeah, I do.”, he stated indifferently as he studied the crest.

    “Thank goodness. Who is it? And what's that thing for?”

    “His name his Wolfe Quinn Shadowsilver, last remaining sibling of the Noble House of Shadowsilver. And this artifact is proof of his status in that noble family.”, Tach explained.

    “Oh no.”, Elayne said in a whisper as she felt the weight of his words. Jedi Master Shadowsilver was dead. “Do you know where his brother, Wolfe, is?”

    “Vow you will never let what I am about to share with you leave this room.”, Tach demanded icily.

    “I swear, no other will know.”, she vowed.

    Tach nodded and glared at the artifact. Then picked up a sharp dinner knife and cut a gash into his left thumb that bled a small amount of blood before looking at the object again. “Bet it hurt you like hell to have to do this, didn't it Lucius?”, he growled before pressing his bleeding thumb to the crest.

    The runes began to glow brightly as a tangible wave of force emanated from the artifact.
    Last edited by Gibson8088; 08-18-2012 at 02:26 AM.

  10. #145
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    Sloat was sprinting towards the lift to E-deck toting a welding kit. He skidded around the final corner when a puffed up ball with eyes flew in front of his face. He did a sort of spinning hop to keep from crashing into the fabool, as he finally managed to stop himself. Panting a little, he set down his tools and took a minute to inspect the poor creature he’d almost flattened.
    “Hey there little guy, where’d you come from?”

    The fabool hovered in front of Sloat mutely, but expectantly. He wracked his brain trying to come up with the answer. Finally he snapped his fingers in comprehension.
    “Hey! I bet you came over from the Dawn Collar didn’t you?”

    The fabool cooed noncommittally. Sloat picked up his welding kit.
    “Well, I don’t have anything for you right now, I’ve gotta go fix the water tank. Maybe I’ll get you something when I get back.”

    If Mr. Mace was disappointed by that, he didn’t give any indication. Sloat climbed into the turbo lift, and sent it all the way down to the flooded compartment. The compartment had almost completely flooded, when the lift reached the right level the doors opened spilling water into the turbo lift. Sloat was about to search through his bag for a re-breather when he was grabbed by something as it forced itself into the lift.

    There was a moment of pants wetting terror, until Sloat figured out that the figure in the lift with him was not in fact a water monster, but instead a very wet angry man, holding a gun to his head. It turned out not to be a very helpful revelation in alleviating the pants wetting terror.

    The man turned and hit the button to send the lift back up. Sloat considered trying something while his head was turned, but decided against it. They rode the lift back up in silence, and when the doors opened to let them out his assailant shoved Sloat out of the lift and up against the far wall. Sloat closed his eyes and waited for the blaster shot. It never came. Instead he heard:
    “What the frell is your problem!?”

    Sloat turned to face the gunman in confusion.
    “Buh?”

    The man was still holding his blaster, but was no longer pointing it at Sloat. He wasn’t even really looking at Sloat, and was beginning to pace angrily.
    “Seriously, do you guys get paid by the hour or something? ‘Oh look, a compartment is filling up with water, I better give it a few weeks to fill up before I investigate; I sure hope nobody is stuck down there and relying on my timely intervention’.” He turned on his feel to face Sloat and stuck a finger out accusingly. “I mean never mind that it’s a safety issue, how are you gonna fix it now?! You can’t weld pipes under water numbskull!”

    Sloat blinked.
    “Umm. . . Yes, you can?”

    The wet man cocked his head in surprise.
    “Really?’

    Sloat nodded his head vigorously.
    “They make special tools for it.”

    His assailant was skeptical.
    “Do you have these tools here?”

    Sloat shook his head. He was rewarded for his honesty with a smarting blow to the inner ear.
    “Then my point is still valid! Fracking smartass. . .”, the assailant waited for Sloat to stand back up. “Arright, now I’ve got some questions for you, and you’re gonna cough up the answers, got it? Lie to me or refuse to answer, and we’ve got a problem. And if we’ve got a problem, it really just means you’ve got a problem, got it?”

    Sloat rubbed his head.
    “Yeah fine, just stop hitting me.”
    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. #146
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    Mr. Mace stared at the lift hatch that the Friendly Man had entered, waiting for him to come back out. He didn't.

    At least the alarm klaxons had stopped. Mr. Mace hung idly in the corridor, enjoying the peace and quiet. Then, remembering that where one human came from, there were often others, the little fabool elected to float back up the corridor, in the direction that the Friendly Man had come from.

    * * *

    Rammo the Toydarian led Jyllis and Fi along one of the corridors on A-deck, with Kroff and his blaster bringing up the rear. Fi held her comically large, neon green jumpsuit up at the hips to avoid tripping on its long legs, and stumbled against an oily bulkhead.

    "Why's it so dark in here, anyway?" she asked. "Everywhere we go, it's like two out of three bulbs are missing."

    "Economy!" Rammo beamed. "In taking out most of the bulbs, I can run this vessel on eighty percent of its normal electrical requirements!"

    Jyllis curled her lip. "Oh, how I love a cheapskate."

    Rammo grinned at the perceived compliment and led the group around another bend in the corridor, where he stopped short. In front of them floated an animal, small, white and puffy, who chirped in surprise.

    "What is this?" Rammo demanded.

    "Mr. Mace!" Fi called out. "I told you to wait on the ship!"

    The fabool looked at everyone in confusion, then waggled his wings in a way that he knew most beings found 'cute'.

    Rammo, floating on wings of his own, studied the diminutive creature. "This is your pet? It's horrible!"

    "Hey," Fi countered, "look who's talking!"

    Rammo studied the creature in disgust. "It's so small... and fuzzy, and... ah... ahh... AHH... BBBBZZZHHHAAAHH!!!!"

    Fi, Jyll, and Kroff looked at one another uncertainly.

    "You okay, boss?" Kroff asked.

    The Toydarian wiped his dripping snout, looking at the others with red, stinging eyes. "I dink I'm having a reac- ack- SSHHHYYYAAHHHN!!!" The Toydarian flew backward with the force of the sneeze.

    "Uh..." Kroff asked, "orders?"

    "Blow id oud duh airlog!"

    "Hang on!" Jyllis cut in. "Rammo, I've known this animal for... well, a long time, and if you destroy it, I will never marry you! Do you understand? Never!"

    The Toydarian, snout dripping and tears running from his stinging eyes, considered this.

    "Vine... led's juzd ged do duh bridge..."

    The group, with Mr. Mace in tow, followed the Toydarian around more corridors until they arrived at their destination, where they were surrounded by a handful of empty chairs and banks of quietly beeping machinery.

    "Jeg id oud, Grovv," Rammo commanded.

    Kroff leaned dutifully over a sensor panel, studying its display. "Well, it looks pretty thin out there."

    "Wud?" Rammo asked, then sneezed again. "I dink my ears are blugging ub."

    "I said there's not much traffic out there... except for one ship, a little close for comfort."

    "Wud's id doing?"

    "Not much, just sort of crawling around on low power."

    "Joyridig?"

    "Not much 'joy' that I can see. Looks more like they're just killing time."

    "Wud's de name ub it?"

    "Whydah."

    "Begause I need do know, Grovv!"

    "No, I said that's its name - the WhyDAH."

    Fi looked at Jyll, and Jyll looked at Fi. A nervous nod was passed between them, and then the pair lunged forward, pushing Kroff against the sensor panel. With the top-heavy man almost tumbling over it, the girls turned and ran for the bridge's exit.

    Kroff was faster. Regaining his balance, he turned and reached out, grabbing the back of Jyllis's bright green salvage suit and pulling her back toward him.

    "Jendly! Jendly!" Rammo shouted.

    Seeing that her friend was caught, Fi leaped into the fray, punching at Kroff's face as best she could. The muscleman grabbed Fi by the face and thrust her away from him, where she landed painfully on the bridge's deck plating. Despite eyes swimming with stars, the musician was able to see, connected to the bottom of the pilot's seat, an emergency fire extinguisher. Yanking it from its clips, Fi regained her footing just as Kroff was gathering Jyll into an unbreakable hold. Fi swung the extinguisher with all her might, noting with a sort of detached amusement that it connected precisely with the recent wound on the man's wide, bald head. Swinging again, she hit Kroff in the same place once more for good measure, then opened the extinguisher's valve and sprayed it about the bridge randomly, coating their surroundings in a thick, impenetrable mist.

    With Jyll within arm's reach, Fi wrapped an arm around the holostar's waist, pulling her out of the stunned man's grip and backing up into the chemical fog. Somewhere in the mist, Rammo the Toydarian was yelling orders incoherently.

    "Mace!" Fi called, "Mr. Mace! Here, boy!"

    The fabool emerged from the fog, his downy fur hanging limply with airborne chemical condensation. Fi sprayed the bridge again for good measure, then led Jyll and the fabool back out into the corridor.

    "Get to the Dawncaller!" she commanded, still clutching the extinguisher.

    "Which way?" Jyll demanded.

    "I dunno!"
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 09-27-2012 at 06:26 PM.
    Star Wars: Tapestry
    A 6+ year campaign draws to a close...
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  12. #147
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    Outside of Chi'ko's Paxan was waiting patiently in the shadows when he felt a ripple of Force energy. Something had happened with the artifact. It wasn't gone, but it was changed somehow. ”Makes no difference.”, he thought to himself, ”I will claim it from her corpse if I have to.” Blood Trackers had a reputation for never failing a mission to maintain.

    -=< >=-

    Elayne was hiding behind the only cover she was able to find in the split second her reflexes registered something was wrong. That strange artifact started to act weird, and in her lifetime when something acted weird the safe bet was it could explode. But there was no explosion. Instead she was hearing a couple of light objects rattle as they hit the table and a mirthless grunt from Tach.

    Hazarding a peek at the fallout she rose from her cover and was not met with a scene of destruction, but instead a smuggler who was eying his wrists with disgust. She moved closer to him to get a better view of what was holding his attention; a pair of unusually designed bracers of black and silver metal. They were unnaturally glossy and when Tach rotated his arms to view the top it was revealed that the same crest that marked the artifact was also on the bracers; a Penrose triangle. Below the emblems were three crystals, two clear and one with a silvery sheen.

    “Tach, what just happened?”, Elayne asked carefully. Tach took a calming breath before answering dully, “I just became Baron Shadowsilver.”, Elayne's eyes were wide with surprise, “It would seem I'm the last living member of my family line.” Now Elayne had to sit down.

    “I'm so sorry.”, she said almost in a whisper.

    Tach furrowed his brows in agitation. “Well I'm not.”, he grunted.

    Elayne gaped at him in shock. “What?”

    “I said I'm not sorry they're gone.” On the table Tach had spied two new objects, a datachip and what looked like a miniature holocron. Tach pulled out a datapad from his trusty satchel, “If they wanted me in their family they'd have treated me like family.”, as he spoke he grabbed the datachip and inserted it into the datapad and began scanning the contents.

    “I don't understand. What happened?”, Elayne asked with concern, “Did they hurt you?”

    “In a manner of speaking. I was invisible to them.”, Tach stated matter of factly. Upon seeing the worry on her face he continued, “Where I'm from, being able to use the Force is a sign of status. So, when 'mommy' brought me into this verse and found out I can't use the Force, guess what happened!”

    “But you were their son, their flesh and blood!”, the young Jedi argued.

    “Ah, but family is not on that important list. No Force talent means I have weak blood, I'm something lesser. As a result, they tried to make me invisible. They hid me away because I was an embarrassment in their society and then they tried again. Now I have a brother who's the son they always wanted.”, Tach explained bitterly.

    “That's horrible!”, Elayne responded with disgust, “So, what will you do now that revenge is not an option?”

    “I like how you think!”, Tach said with some awe, then skimmed over the datapad and shook his head, “As for now, we stick with the current mission. This chip has all the information I think I'm supposed to learn about my society on it. Rules, accounts, traditions and so on. It's a lot to take in but I can mull over it later. So far what I do know that”, Tach pointed at the small holocron, “is some kind of a message from dear brother Lucius.”

    Elayne picked up a napkin and wet it in the melted ice from a wine chiller. “So why don't you listen to it?”, she asked as she took his hand and began to clean away the blood from his thumb. Tach relaxed a bit, enjoying the attention and soft warm touch of her hand.

    The smuggler sighed and was about to grab the holocron when Elayne interrupted him. “Tach, your cut is gone!”

    Tach visibly tensed up at the news, “Umm, yeah. I'm a quick healer.” Elayne crossed her arms and gave him the 'yeah right' look. “I'll tell you about it later, okay? Shall we listen to the message?”, he pointed at the cube in an attempt to deflect the subject elsewhere. Elayne glared again then nodded.

    With a light tap the cube sprang to life and projected a ten inch tall hologram of a regally dressed human in his late thirties/early forties with long black hair. He looked at Elayne, his expression one of recognition, then glanced warily at Tach before looking at Elayne again. “What is going on, Elayne? Where is my brother?”, it asked.

    She opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by Tach. “Never one to do anything half-assed, eh Lucius? Others would just send a message while you imprint yourself into a holocron!”, he berated humorously.

    Elayne huffed at Tach before speaking. “This is your brother, Lucius.”, she declared as she pointed at the smuggler.

    “This is not impossible.”, the hologram stated with irritation.

    “Why?”, Elayne asked simply.

    “Well,”, Tach said plainly, “I guess it's because your older brother is supposed to look older than you.”

  13. #148
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    As Sloat led Reil through the ill lit corridors of the Reclamator I, Reil felt the need to fill the somewhat awkward silence between them, on account of Sloat being at barrels end.
    “So. . . You are actually being paid by the hour?”

    Sloat groaned.
    “Yes, for the last time, I’m being paid by the hour. I’m being paid overtime as a matter of fact.”

    “Y’know kid, if I were you, I’d seriously be re-thinking my career. I mean even if you didn’t have me, waving a gun and slapping you around, on a good day you’re still risking serious jail time. This whole kidnapping and ransom gig isn’t worth time and a half.”

    “I don’t get paid time and a half, it’s full double time.” Sloat tossed back defensively.

    Reil stopped and waited. Sheepishly Sloat stopped and turned to face him.
    “Yeah, that seemed more reasonable in my head.”

    Reil shrugged.
    “It’d pretty much have have had to. Seriously, for future reference, if you’re gonna carry on this life of crime, make sure you’re getting paid out of the take. Not this double time minimum wage crap.”

    Reil indicated with the pistol that Sloat should keep moving. As Sloat resumed the guided tour, he mumbled resentfully to himself.
    “No take to be had. If I wasn’t getting paid a wage, wouldn’t be getting paid at all.”

    Reil frowned and came to a halt for a second time.
    “Come again?”

    Sloat turned to face Reil with an irritated expression.
    “Boss is a respectable business guy.” Sloat paused thoughtfully, “Well he’s a business guy anyway, he’s got money; he isn’t doing this to ransom her.”

    Reil tightened his grip on his blaster.
    “You have three seconds to make this not creepy by telling me what your boss does want with her.”

    “The boss doesn’t wanna ransom her,” Sloat explained patiently, “He’s in love. He want’s to marry Miss Tromso.”

    Reil cocked an eyebrow.
    “Yeah, you failed, this just got super creepy. Wait a tick, I almost drowned because your boss has a fraked up way of proposing?” Reil lowered his pistol and used his free hand to massage his temples from the pounding headache this revelation caused. When he’d recovered enough, he pointed an accusatory finger at Sloat “And you, you’re honestly okay with what you’re a part of, here? A poorly paid part of, I might add.”

    Sloat shrugged.
    “I’m just the pilot. Boss tells me where to go, and I fly him there. What he does after I get him there is his business.”

    Reil didn’t let the point go.
    “Yeah, except you’re flying him to places where he tries to kidnap and marry people! You can’t just ignore that part.”

    Sloat shrugged again.
    “Look, whad’ya want from me? Rammo’s been a really good boss to me, so I’m sure he’d be an alright husband. Buuuuut, since you seem kinda bent on stopping that from happening, we should get a move on. They were having the ceremony up ahead.”

    Reil sighed.
    “Yeah, fine, but we’re gonna revisit this talk afterwards.”

    Sloat rolled his eyes.
    “Oh boy, can’t wait.”

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


    There was a table with a two plates of half eaten sandwiches and a podium in the room, to lend credence to the theory that this was where the wedding was to take place. It was the lack of people performing their nuptials that vexed the room’s current inhabitants. Reil and Sloat stood in the vacant room, both with a vague expression of disappointment. Sloat’s was mixed with the fear of realising his assailant might actually kill him now. He turned to Reil.
    “Maybe they’re finished?” He suggested weakly.

    Reil gestured with his blaster.
    “You’d better pray that isn’t what happened.”

    Sloat looked panicked for a moment, as he tried to think up a place, any place that the boss might have relocated to. Reil seemed to be getting impatient when suddenly, inspiration struck.
    “Birdge! They’re probably on the bridge!”

    Reil took a step back so that he was no longer blocking Sloat’s way to the doors.
    “Lead on then.”

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


    By the time they reached the bridge, it was obvious that this time they had just missed them. A fire extinguisher laid empty on the floor, and its residue coated several consoles. Unfortunatly, once again, they had missed all the excitement, and were now once again, standing in an otherwise unoccupied room. Sloat began to really fear for his life, having disappointed his captor twice now. Reil sighed.
    “You know, normally, people who get kidnapped at least have the gorram decency to wait and be rescued. . .”
    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.

  14. #149
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    "This is starting to look familiar."

    Jyll looked around. "Yeah, we came by this way when we were brought aboard, I think."

    "I wonder what deck we're on," Fi wondered.

    "B," Jyll supplied. "I saw a sticker on the wall further back."

    Fi nodded. "I like the sound of that. Judging by the outside of this tug, when we docked, I'd say the connection was definitely on B-deck."

    The pair rounded a corner, Mr. Mace floating along silently behind, and, miracle of miracles, they were treated to the sight of the docking tube entrance they'd come through a short time ago. Only this time, the hatch that led to the tube, and the Dawncaller, was closed.

    Fi scanned the connecting corridors nervously. "Looks like they were already here, and sealed the hatch. I wonder why they'd leave, and not just wait for us?"

    Jyllis rubbed her hands together. "Rammo didn't strike me as the most patient guy in the worlds."

    "Right," Fi agreed. "They were probably worried we'd find another way off the ship. That shuttle we saw Kroff flying earlier had to come from somewhere."

    Jyll nodded. "Or the escape pods. Any other ships in the area would be alerted to a pod's beacon."

    Fi stepped up to the hatch's panel and examined it. "Well, she's sealed up tight. Password protected. Maybe we should try to find one of those pods."

    "Let me try."

    Jyll stepped up to the panel and quickly typed in a combination of letters. The hatch slid neatly into the ceiling without argument.

    Fi looked sideways at her friend. "Was it-"

    "Yep."

    They entered the tube.

    A few short meters, and they were aboard the Dawncaller, Jyllis scooping their blasters up from where they'd dropped them on the deck earlier.

    "Cover us, will you?" Fi asked, "I want to check something."

    Jyll nodded, taking cover in the ship's hatch and pointing her blaster up the docking tube while Fi headed for the Dawncaller's bridge. In moments, she returned.

    "Well, the Whydah's definitely out there, alright, just loitering around." She massaged her forehead with the back of one hand. "I don't get it - if Reil's sensors are operating, he must see that we're docked here."

    Jyllis bit her lip in thought. "You don't suppose he found some way to come aboard, do you? Left that girl of his to keep the engine running, and came here to try and rescue us?"

    "Reil?" Fi tossed the idea around. "No," she concluded, "no I can't see him taking a foolish risk like that, not knowing who he'd be dealing with, and all."

    "I mean, that'd be crazy," Jyll said.

    "Crazy," Fi echoed, nodding. Then, "Yeah... yeah, he's definitely aboard."

    "Uh-oh... and so?"

    Fi bounced slightly with adrenaline, and took her blaster from Jyll's hand. "We can't leave, with Reil thinking we're still aboard. We have to find him, and three blasters are better than one. You game?"

    Jyll raised her own blaster to shoulder height and smiled. "I wouldn't mind meeting our 'host' again, now that the odds are more even."

    Fi grinned and grabbed a pair of boots from a corner of the ship, pulling them on and tucking the annoyingly long legs of her neon green salvage suit into them. She offered a pair of flat shoes to the taller girl, who waved them away, preferring to remain barefoot.

    "Mace," Fi called to the little fabool, "you st- no, wait. Come along. If Rammo's allergic to you, that can help us. Plus, you make a pretty tiny target." The fuzzy animal flapped his wings in agreement, not understanding the implications, but happy to be included.

    "Right," Fi nodded, leading the group back into the oily corridors of the Reclamator I. It wasn't long before the trio heard at least one pair of booted feet running up the corridor.

    "Okay, Ms. Tromso," Fi grinned as they all took cover, "showtime."
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 09-20-2012 at 05:09 PM.
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  15. #150
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    He could feel the hostile presence coming closer. He braced himself to release the pent up energy he could feel sizzling through his veins. The footsteps stopped. Right next to me. He heard metal sliding on metal, then a clink. A male voice muttered something. Just a little bit closer.... He heard to more foot steps, then he let the energy burst from him like water from a collapsed dam.

    His eyes snapped open at the same time, so he was able to see what unfolded. It all seemed to unwrap in slow motion. A middle aged human male was flying through the air, a look of shock on his face. Bits of metal, shards of glass; the tank must have broken, yes, liquid was everywhere; tools, and what was left of the thing he had been strapped filled the space around him like a flock of hawkbats. Then time sped up and the man smashed into the wall with the glass and the debris and the metal. The man and the rest of the flying chaos crashed to the ground, broken glass mixing with metal, all drenched in a thick greenish liquid.

    That was... loud. I better get out of here.
    He looked around at the mess, saw that the unmoving man crumpled under the durasteel wall was wearing some kind of white lab coat, and then he turned and raced down the dark hallway, past rows of tanks filled with the same liquid. Most had various members of different species floating inside, some with tubes and wires connected to them. He payed them no heed. The was nothing he could do for them.

    The door at the end of the hall was a thick grey slab of some pitted metal. How am I going to open that? It's too big to even use the... feeling, Force... to move it. He looked down the hall, searching for another exit. Then, quite unexpectedly, with a deep rumbling, the door opened.

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