Rogue Squadron Board

Welcome to the Rogue Squadron Community.
It is currently Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:55 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:09 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:56 am
Posts: 559
Location: Upstate NY
At first I could recall nothing prior to awaking in the observation cell at Binring Biomedical Laboratories. With effort came the tiniest recollection of being surrounded in an alley by a Stormtrooper squad, and subsequently rendered unconscious.

Today, partly due to my cortical enhancement, but perhaps more so because it was all I had to think upon for some time, every detail of that incomplete shard of a memory is now a permanent part of my mind. This was many years ago and still today it is beyond crystal clear. The unfeeling cruelty with which they hunted me was a significant factor in my eventual decision to join the New Republic's fight against the Empire.

The air was warm and heavy with ozone, the scent of an approaching rain. I recall the jagged shape of a small crack that angled up along the wall to my left, and how the grey clouds in the sky matched the ashen grey of the bricks visible beneath the pale tan paint weather worn and flaking. I recall each ding, and dent, on the armor of the advancing troopers, each smudge of grime, and the warm umber color of the dirt beneath their boots. Their individual heights varied by only a few centimeters from tallest to least, but I could tell you the exact height of each man. I recall the smell of their sweat. It did not come from the heat. They smelled of fear. Yes, these symbols of the Empires invincibility, they feared me. They were under orders to take me alive, and uninjured, orders which required a remarkably large number of shots from their E-11’s low power stun setting.

The numbing shock that accompanied each shot filled my mind with a dark swirling cloud of hatred, as each blasts numbed ever deeper into through the outer layers of my thick skin. The sixth shot ricocheted off a ray shielded screen protecting a basement window, catching me just below the back of my left thigh, causing the knee to involuntarily buckle. As I tumbled to the ferrocrete, one over eager trooper, no doubt a fresh boot, as his armor was least damaged still baring a trace of that factory new scent, stepped in too close, foolishly thinking me down for the count. From behind, the resonant crunch of gravel under the synthihyde sole that encased his foot, told my hand exactly where to reach out. My large fingers closed around something cold and hard, grasping the man’s right calf. A casual flick of the wrist twisted it sideways. How I relished hearing the hard crack as the armor’s shin plate shattered, promptly followed by the wet crunch of bone. The others were still shooting, but as the shot count climbed into double digits, all I really wanted to do, was close my eyes and sleep. The unfortunate troopers scream was the last sound of the memory.
Before completely losing consciousness, all sensation was replaced with a new more immediate pain. This pain was caused by a piece of the splintered armor that had sliced into my hand. It was plain upon seeing the gash in my calloused green flesh, already beginning to ooze crimson from the parted dermis, how deep was the cut. Without immediate treatment, it would leave a nasty scar. ‘Tsk, too bad’. I thought ‘I’ll just go to sleep now’.

Awaking with a start, the injured hand held out before me, I prepared to wince in pain while tracing a finger along the palm. The finger contacted the flesh, but the anticipated pain was inexplicably absent. To touch it brought no hurt. That illusory sensation now only existed in the memory fragment. Incredulity set in with a realization of truth which my eyes confirmed. Indeed there was no wound, no scar, not even a bandage. The hand in front of my face lacked any sign of having ever been injured at all. The healing was complete and total, but surely even with immersion in fresh bacta that must have taken a week or more. Had I been unconscious for weeks? My head suddenly began throbbing. A hand went to the back of my head which I was surprised to discover was bandaged. All the tenderness of a recent flesh wound that was expected while examining my hand was here present in vast amounts.

An intermittent drip from a wash basin was the only sound to be heard upon awakening after the abduction. A nauseous headache caused by lingering effects of post surgical anesthesia amplified this little noise till each falling droplet created a skull battering sound more brutal than the point blank report of a Super Star Destroyers forward laser emplacements fired in atmosphere.

It was uncomfortable lying there, thinking how odd it was, that a Gamorrean, with a splitting headache, such as myself, would continue to lie there just listening to that painful sound, rather than to get up and smash the leaky faucet in a blind rage. The rational conclusion was, of course, that to do so would most certainly have ruptured the plumbing allowing even more water to flow into the room, resulting in even more noise. Then came the realization of how odd it was that a Gamorrean, with a splitting headache, such as myself, was capable of coming within 100 parsecs of a rational conclusion.

But I was a Gamorrean wasn’t I? Yes, that was undoubtedly certain. Yet, an uneasy feeling began to seep into my seemingly boundless self-awareness of not knowing WHO I was. Before awakening here, I was... I was... I was someplace else obviously, but where was that? It wasn’t here, and for that matter, where was here?

The room itself was solidly constructed of a white resin formed in a vacuum extrusion process. The thick walls offered accommodations that were somewhat less than meager consisting of the aforementioned small sink, a narrow pallet which lacked any sort of padding, that served as both table and bed, and lastly a small protrusion marked by a hole with a flap-like lid that functioned as a refresher unit, all of which were all molded in place along one wall. The opposite wall held a large viewport running nearly the entire width of the wall, through this every action was under constant observation. Sensors in the walls and bed pallet monitored vital signs. Harsh lighting was only just barely diffused as it passed through the ceilings minimal opacity, illuminating the space evenly and casting a faint green pallor over everything. This remained on continuously, negating any sense of day or night. Not knowing how long it had been since my arrival in this place there was no way to mark the passage of time.

Beneath the view port was an access door scarcely large enough to allow me egress when the time eventually came. It is still not entirely clear how my captors managed to place my inert form within the space. The door was solidly bolted shut and well fitted, with little evidence of a seam. Its most important detail was the small slot near the floor through which food arrived at regular intervals. Despite the headache, and loss of memory, I still bore the appetite of a Gamorrean.
When food arrived, enough was provided for sustenance, but the fare offered little to appeal to the palette. It consisted of double portion of standard Stormtrooper survival rations: two hard bread biscuits each the size of a human fist, served with three ounces of green nutrient paste, which time revealed, could be spread inside the torn bread, after softening the loaves lightly with water. This did much to hide the unpleasant flavor. No utensils or cup were provided, making it necessary to drink with cupped hands held under the faucet.

For many days, judging by the frequency of meals, and assuming three meals a day, I sat on the edge of the bed pallet, facing the sink, dipping bread in the basin to soak wondering where here was. During the nineteenth meal, I was struck with the image of a bachelor living alone in a dingy one room apartment, eating over the sink.

I was alone. This had occurred to me before, but for the first time in this new life, I actually felt lonely. This eventually led to wondering about my family. I must have had one. I do not remember my family, but there remains a sense of them. If I were to return to the place from whence I was taken I doubt I would recognize any formerly familiar face. I used to wonder if I ever were to encounter someone who knew me before if they would recognize me. The thought occurred, that perhaps I was betrothed, and that my mate would be missing me searching for me while I was here, but no face ever came to my dreams, and after a time other thoughts crept in to displace that one.

I chose to mark time counting days as beginning with the arrival of the meal that awakened me from my sleep, which I elected to refer to as breakfast even though the components of one meal to the next never varied. Most of the first week was spent methodically searching the room for anything that might provide a means of escape. The portal and the viewport were tested with brute force managing to withstand all the strength I could summon. Later my attention turned to the floor and walls which I systematically examined by rapping on each square centimeter to ascertain any difference in sound which might indicate structural weaknesses. The air vents consisted of tiny holes in a close grid. The small holes offered no purchase to insert a digit of my large hands, or to work even a fingernail in to grasp or tear it open wider. They were drilled deeply though the entire thickness of the walls. I even attempted to dislodge the pallet bed from the wall by wedging my legs beneath it and applying leverage at the rounded corners where it met the wall, hoping to wrench it apart, and open up a hole in the wall behind it.

People sometimes joke about how strong the material a spacecrafts ‘black box’ crash data recorders are made of. “If the stuff is so strong, why don’t they make the whole vehicle out of it?” Well, whatever it was, this stuff was even tougher.

I went about this entire process in silence having no reason to speak, and no one to speak to. All this time my captors were observing me waiting to see if I became violent or if I refused to eat. Eventually convinced that there was no way out until someone outside chose to let me out I gave up on the fruitless undertaking and spent entire days just sitting on the pallet.
In the middle of the third week just after the 49th meal (lunch)
“Subject Gamma-9104” came a voice through the air vents, “Are you in any pain?”

Not having not heard anyone speak before now, I was slightly startled. Looking across the room I saw the viewport light up from behind. Through the dark window and saw a single observer watching me. He repeated himself, his voice flat and unemotional. “Subject Gamma-9104, are you in any pain?” I marveled at this new event. It wasn’t until the third time he spoke that I realized this question was directed to me, and managed to collect myself enough to respond.

“Where am I?” I asked in the grunts and squeals of the Gamorrean tongue, but I didn’t expect that he would understand me. The observer paused briefly before replying as he checked the translator built into the control panel in front of him. His voice rose just slightly with annoyance at having to repeat himself for the fourth time.
“Subject Gamma-9104, are you in any PAIN?”

“Pain? No. No pain.” I replied shaking my head from side to side for emphasis “Can you tell me why I am here?”

“Subject appears docile,” he muttered into a recording device, “and reports no pain at forty five days post surgery. Commencing cortical enhancement acuity test level one.”

With a low beep, the viewport transformed from a window into a display screen, and the basic alphabet appeared in a tight grid in the lower right corner, capped by the numbers zero through nine, forming a touch screen input pad. I was then subjected to an automated learning program that used images to teach me to spell and read basic. It began with character recognition. A letter appeared on the screen and the observer instructed me to press the input key that matched symbol. At first the matching key was illuminated as a visual aid. After a short while I grew comfortable with the interface and the program moved on to spelling of simple words like ball and nerf, before advancing to comprehension of short stories using higher level vocabulary. I overheard the observer commenting into his recorder that my progress was amazing, and how quickly I had moved from the first lesson to a level of functional literacy. So entranced was I with this stimulating activity, after sitting idle for so long, that I completely lost track of time. Eventually, hunger pangs told me it was well past dinnertime, but no food arrived to interrupt the lessons and I would not have abandoned this joyful process of learning to eat anyway. My mind was a like a sponge ready to absorb whatever data it was given. It had taken me twelve hours to cover the data sets most sentient creatures cover in their first four years of structured education. It was almost painful when the screen suddenly went dark. Not just the screen but the whole room. For the first time since I first awoke here the lights were turned off, and I experienced, night. As my eyes attempted to adjust to the darkness, I heard a new voice, different from the flat voice that spoke to me earlier. An older, kindly, pleasant, voice that brimmed with proud admiration saying:

“Gamma-9104, you have done very well. Rest now, and we will continue again in the morning”. Suddenly deprived of all stimulation, a wave of exhaustion flooded over me washing away the exhilaration of the day’s labors. I found my way across the room, and was asleep moments after my head touched the bed pallet.

I awoke the next day to the sound of the food hatch snapping open. My nose promptly informed me that a substantially improved breakfast awaited, featuring a half dozen fresh warm biscuits with butter, including a flimsy flat plastoid stick to spread it with, and a similarly non weapon-like fork, with which to eat a generous portion of scrambled eggs. I even received a new beverage of several small cartons of cold nerf milk. I have since had better tasting food but never have I more enjoyed such a simple meal. As I savored the last morsel, and placed the dish and utensils back into the open slot, the display screen once again lit up with a welcoming beep, and my lessons continued.

Meals returned at the normal daily intervals and at the evening of each ‘day’ the lights would dim for about an hour after dinner, to be extinguished to assist my sleeping. In another six weeks I had advanced into higher education. In all this time I had no conversation with anyone other than the brief nightly praise from the voice of the kindly observer. Each night at the end of my lessons, when the display screen shut off, I would ask: the observer, “Where am I?”, or “Why am I here?”

The only response was: “Rest now, and we will continue in the morning.” I began to suspect that this voice was pre-programmed and not a real person at all.

By the end of twenty one weeks, I had passed examinations intended for students seeking advanced engineering certification in computer science, molecular biology, and quantum mathematics with my capacity to continually assimilate even greater measures of knowledge showing no discernible signs of slowing down. To this point everything had all been scientific knowledge. No literature, or history. Book learning, without any physical hands on application, my mind was a well tuned machine. My body by contrast was beginning to show signs of atrophy, due to there not being much room to engage in physical activity in the small cell, but that was soon to change.

The 445th meal arrived with an unusual addition. Sitting on the tray next to a steaming helping of scrambled eggs was a small box shaped device attached to a metalloid hoop. I was instructed to place the gadget around my neck and fasten the clasp. Picking it up, I began to ask what it was, and was startled as the thing repeated my question:

“What is ...” in perfect Basic. I paused, transfixed on the object in my hand “...this!?!”

A sense of wonder spread through me as understanding the meaning of this gift, I tried to peer beyond the portal, in an attempt to see my observers, listening to my new voice as it spoke after me:
“A translator... for me?”

The voice of the kindly observer began verbally questioning me as I ate my breakfast. This interview was to become the basis of a complete psychological profile. I was more than happy to answer, as each response, brought the delightful sounds of this wondrous little box. I was absolutely giddy to hear it, like a child with a new toy. Among other things he asked if I remembered anything prior to being here, and for an impression of my own physical health. I informed him I felt I could use a bit of exercise. He promised that I would soon be taken to another lab and subjected to a rigorous exercise regimen as well as a battery of physical skills tests.

For my part I was able to ask many questions of the kindly observer, who revealed that his name was Dr. Tuzin Gast, and the good doctor obligingly answered every question submitted to him. He explained that I was a test subject in Project Chubar which was taking place at the Binring Biomedical Product facility on the planet Saffalore. He even provided a data file that I reviewed later that evening, which included the notes of his predecessors regarding the details of the Chubar Stage One experiments. Compelling and informative, I found it as fascinating as it was gruesome.

The original scope of the project had been to increase the intelligence and behavioral controls of a myriad of ‘lower’ species in order to use them as disposable spies against the enemies of the Emperor. Various techniques were employed to this end including micro-surgical manipulations of the frontal lobe. It was presumed that the transplantation of human brain tissue into these creatures would produce the desired result of increased intelligence simply by the virtue of the donor tissue being human and therefore 'superior' to that of the recipient.

While the provenance of the donor tissue was never explicitly specified in any official records, Dr. Gast surmised privately to me, that he believed it may have been taken from the Emperors personal clones in the hopes that doing so would provide him a direct force-link to the minds of all his sub-human insurgents.

This direct surgical option was abandoned due to the complications that arose when attempting to map neural pathways from species to species. Results proved to be all but un-repeatable. The dozens of surgeries performed added up to little more than hit-or-miss investigative expeditions wherein even the most successful trials offered little information that could be directly applied to the next.

What few subjects survived these ghastly procedures were either lobotomized or in those rare cases of a successful (that is to say non-fatal) surgery, afterwards bore telltale scarring from the operation making them unusable for the Emperors intended covert purposes. In the few cases where post operative analysis indicated any measurable increase in cognitive capacity more often than not the increased awareness of what was happening promptly caused the poor creature to suffer a psychological breakdown that drove them insane making them either suicidal, or so intractably violent that the researchers had them put down.

This was in accordance with the direct orders of the Emperor stating the results of all unsuccessful experiments in this series were to be disposed of. This disposal normally took the form of incineration, which often occurred regardless of whether the subject had actually expired prior to its being placed into the activated incinerator. The complete and utter destruction of these experiments served to ensure that no element of the 'diseased unworthy mind' would remain to find its way through the force to connect with that of the Emperor.

The lack of successes in surgical research led to attempts in the area of genetic engineering via DNA manipulation intended to pass desirable traits across species to breed meta-creatures inculcated with adapted human-like behavioral modifications. Accounting for the gestation periods of the numerous species proved this process to be slow and unreliable. Multiple females of each target species had to be acquired, housed, artificially inseminated, and cared for over the natural term of incubation. Many of these females languished in captivity exhibiting signs of clinical depression and even refusing to eat. Often despite all available medical treatment the deterioration of their health advanced to the point where their bodies spontaneously aborted.

Others died of complications during gestation when the unborn hybrid creature interacted unnaturally with its host mother, sometimes causing toxic shock through chemical incompatibilities passed through the placenta. Occasionally, the development rate of the implanted fetus far exceeded that which the host was able to provide, leaching nutrients from her faster than it was possible for her body to metabolize food. Meanwhile, what few genetically induced subjects made it to term, were often so hideously malformed at birth as to not resemble any known species, let alone the one they were intended to replicate. These too were put down, if they weren’t already dying from some unintended congenital abnormality, a common side effect of sloppy genetic engineering.

Euthanasia was also the final fate of the host mother of any unsatisfactory product, assuming of course she had survived the ‘fetal extraction’ in the first place.

When Dr. Gast entered the project in Stage Two it was hoped that his theoretical work in genetic manipulation of embryonic human stem cells would prove beneficial. His first Chubar experiments marked a return to therapeutic enhancement of live test subjects, beginning with cell therapy implantation treatments based on his post graduate work with embryonic stem cells. However as with the large tissue transplants the embryonic stem cells taken from human donors proved to be poorly matched to the genetic code of the unfortunate recipients. Many suffered from either unchecked cell development resulting in fatal tumors, or catastrophic apoptosis, cell by cell suicide, resulting in an excruciating brain death. The records also mention that the incinerator was in constant need of maintenance from over use.

Scrapping all previous avenues of research in Stage Three, Dr Gast perfected a technique of induced cellular regeneration using mature stem cells which could be taken directly from the blood, bone marrow, or fatty tissues of the test subject, upon whom the therapy was to be performed.

After implantation in the target areas of the brain, he subjected the advanced stem cells to synthesized enzymes he had developed for use in Stage Two, to catalyze the highly unstable embryonic stem cells. In the earlier trials they had proven to be gross approximations of the extremely delicate and unimaginably precise triggers which occur naturally to aid in developing a creature with-in the womb. The more mature stem cells however, responded remarkably well to these crude man-made synthetic controls.

Since these ‘adult’ stem cells were extracted from the same subject to whom they were later re-introduced, they already shared an exact DNA match, meaning there was no possibility for rejection of the new tissue. The reformed cells grew as a part of the subject and were accepted as easily as any new cells of hair, muscle, bone, or blood produced naturally by the body. This technique’s first successful trail had been the repair of the wound on my hand when I was first brought to the facility. The growth of the cells was so complete that it left no hint of a scar. The therapy simply did not permit erroneous scar tissue to grow.

Furthermore, the body’s own natural mature stem cells contributed to the accelerated re-growth only in the next trial they were not just repairing damaged tissue, as would any common bacta therapy, but reforming and regenerating a new brain cell by cell in a living subject. Gast discovered it was possible to induce this new brain to grow according to a controlled blueprint. In what was to be his final experiment he employed a pre-determined sequential matrix algorithm that mimicked the organizational structure of top end high density computer data storage and retrieval systems.

Far and away, the most significant breakthrough of this therapy was the density of the resultant organic matrix. In a computer even the most advanced silicon chip reaches a finite minima of reduction as the space between conductive nano traces are limited by the physics governing the inherent parasitic inductance of the substrate. This means a conventional chip containing a few billion ‘NAND’ gates, and registry switches, can be no smaller than the size of your thumbnail.

Gast’s re-engineered mature stem cells were capable of compressing similar data processing capacities into each and every microscopic cell of the subjects newly formed brain cells. The end result being that the subject of a successful procedure became more intelligent by several hundred orders of magnitude. Of course, as I already knew, the unfortunate side effect of re-substantiating the memory centers of the brain is the erasure of all but the most recent of short term memories.

I was that last, and to my knowledge only, successful experiment in this area.
At least I was, prior to my departure from Saffalore which, soon after this day, couldn’t come quickly enough.

The following morning arrangements were made to remove me from the cell. With a deep pop the pressure seal released and the cover plug slid to the side. Bending to peer through the opening I saw a short retractable tube similar to the type used to transfer personnel and cargo in space between ships with non-compatible docking hatches. The notable difference was that this one was just larger that the cell portal itself, not much more than a meter in diameter. From the other end the upside down smiling face of Dr Gast invited me to “Step outside”.

It was not difficult for me to fit through the diminutive tunnel, having lost considerable amounts of both fat and muscle mass due to the surgery and insufficient physical activity thereafter. Crawling on my belly through the abbreviated passageway however, was an exertion for which I was no longer prepared. Emerging into the ‘observation room’ that had heretofore only been occasionally glimpsed through the large view screen, I discovered it was not a fixed place attached to the cell, but rather, more like a large elevator of sorts, a mobile booth that moved vertically as well as horizontally along a series of tracks to position itself in front of any cell of interest among hundreds, whenever direct observation or interaction with a subject was called for.

I stood up too quickly and felt a bit woozy, as my heart rate accelerated slightly from more physical strain than it had been required to attempt for some time. Dr. Gast helped me to my feet and led me to a gurney while his assistant Novin Bress looked on from nearby.

About average height and weight for a human Dr. Turzin Gast, I recall, seemed somewhat delicate as I stood next to him. Mid to late fifties with a slight paunch, hair graying at the temples and worry lines etched around his once salient features that made him look older than his true age.

The Mobile Observation Platform, also known as the ‘MOP room’, set in motion and brought us to main laboratory, whereupon the gurney was wheeled out through a conventional doorway to the farthest corner which was set up as an examination room. As we rolled, Bress lifted the gurney’s side rails, and tossed some straps across my legs and chest. “Safety first!” he murmured, tersely flashing a smile up at Dr. Gast.

Dr. Novin Bress PHX, I later learned, was a competent, well accomplished xeno-scientist in his own right, but his Imperial sympathies were obvious in his disdain for the non-humans he studied, and he spoke directly to me as little as possible. A thin angular man, he exuded an air of superiority towards everyone around him that I can’t imagine ever won him much in the way of friends. Were he entered in a competition to express the least possible amount of human compassion, he might have given someone as power mad as Grand Moff Tarkin a run for his credits.

Glancing about during the brief junket across the large lab into what was for me an entirely new world, I took in everything that I could visually, making mental note of numerous instruments, devices, experimental apparatus, as well as any printed labels or signs I could read including several computer screens and a placard above the main door of the lab which read: Sector V-01. Others indicated the location of safety equipment and detailed explicit instructional procedures for various common emergency situations. Glimpsed fleetingly on a data screen was an open text file headlined: ‘Project Chubar Phase three: Viability Analysis of Fiscal Expenditures vs. Projected Timetable ‘.

As Dr Gast moved about the room adjusting various instruments to optimize their collection of data, Bress made preparations to begin the physical exam. He picked up a grim looking implement a bit larger than a lightsaber hilt and activated it with the flick of a flat switch along its sleek casing. Though I was quite familiar with xeno-biology from my studies I had not up to this point received any training in advanced surgical procedures. I did not know what this thing was, but the distinctive buzzing whine it made instantly alarmed me. He approached, brandishing the shiny device with sweeping side to side motions. It almost seemed as if he were pantomiming slitting my throat, all the while chuckling sadistically, and taking obviously glee in the alarm that was certainly visible in my panicked expression. I attempted to sit up but the straps were fastened tight enough to prevent me from doing so in my weakened state. I glanced to one side, and noticed Dr. Gast had turned his back to enter some data into the nearest computer terminal. Bress continued to advance until he stood right at the side of the gurney. Finally the Dr. turned around and as he did so Bress simultaneously deactivated the device and assumed a completely neutral placid pose. Gast showed no sign of having noticed his assistant do anything out of the ordinary.

“So” Bress asked flatly “Are we going to cut this... thing, open or not?”

I gulped audibly and turned wild-eyed to the Dr Gast who noticing that I had become frightened, patted me on my shoulder and saying “Easy there big fellow, this won’t hurt a bit, in fact it might even tickle, I want to ask you to trust me... Do you trust me?”

His voice was so gentle and reassuring that I surrender my fear, and nodded agreement quietly whispering a feeble “Yes.”

Gast nodded and Bress once again started up the chrome plated tool, its shrill noise filling the room I closed my eyes and braced myself for what was sure to be incalculable agony. I felt the pressure of cold metal applied to my forehead and the whine of the tool filled my skull a dull vibration, jostling my brow. The sensation crawled slowly up my forehead, across the top of my pate, and down the back, but there was no pain. Actually, it did tickle a little bit. Then a loud ‘THUNK’, made me jump. Something heavy fell off the table and crashed solidly to the floor. A cool rush of air played across the exposed flesh of my head and my mind swooned as I realized that it was the fiber-plast bandage on my head which finally been removed. Wearing it all this time, I had grown accustomed to its weight, to the point of forgetting that it was not a natural part of me. After Dr Gast confirmed that all the sutures which had been hidden beneath it were properly healed, he released the straps holding my arms. I reached up to touch my head and feel the pale puckered flesh too long swathed in the protective shell. It was smooth, and cool, and then, it began to itch like crazy! Both hands rose to coarsely knead this previously unexplored portion of my hide. The vigorous fit of scratching that ensued set free a small cloud of dead skin cells that wafted to the floor.

With revulsion apparent on his face I was ushered by Bress into a stall lined with ceramic tiles whereupon Dr. Gast hit some buttons on a nearby console summoning a trio of hovering droids who promptly stripped me of the tattered surgical gown I had worn these many months, and gave me a meticulous bath in a method that can only be described as remorseless. Eloquent and verbose as I may be, my linguistic skills fail to describe how good that felt! Up to this point, small jets in the walls of the cell routinely sprayed everything with an anti-bacterial mist. It was reasonably effective at keeping down odor, but did nothing to exfoliate dead skin cells. I had done my best to wash myself with cool splashes from the basin, but in my opinion, there is nothing to equal, strong soap, hot water, and a good stiff brush wielded by someone who is not overly concerned about the amount of pressure required to do the job properly. Afterwards the fresh dermis revealed by the intense cleansing was so raw due to the excitement of the blood vessels, the pigmentation of my skin appeared more towards brown than my natural olive coloring. I was given a clean set of used but appropriately sized pale blue coveralls to put on. Bress made a face, “Blue is not really this barve’s color is it?”

“Now, I can’t let you keep calling him rude things Novin”, Dr Gast rebuked, “and” he continued turning to me “I suppose I can’t keep calling you ‘big fellow’ forever can I? No. If we are going to be interacting with you personally, you should have name. Now, what shall we call you?”

“How about what’s on his jumper?” sneered Bress pointing pale finger at a label on the left breast of my coveralls that indicated the uniform had previously belonged to a research technician with secure access to sector ‘vee, double zero’ of the BinRing Biomedical facility. Of course, as in all things associated within the physical plant of a site controlled by the military, nothing escapes the cost saving benefits of abbreviation whenever possible so the label simply read:

V-00-RT-SA
BINRING

“Voort-sa Binring” Bress scoffed, “an ugly name, for an ugly beast, if there ever was one.”

“Now, Novin, please stop that!” scolded Dr Gast.

“Actually Doctor,” I spoke up, “it is a good name, I think." I placed my hand over my translator and spoke the word so they could hear me speak it in the Gamorean toungue.

"hVurrrt"

Then with the little box uncovered I said, "It is very close to the Gamorrean word for 'infinite'.”

“Infinite?” He repeated obviously pleased at my having excised the cruel intent of his assistants’ mean-spirited suggestion. “How VERY appropriate! Well then...” he laughed, brightening as Bress scowled all the more, “Voort you shall be. Hello Voort” beamed the Dr. shaking my hand with over exaggerated formality “It is truly a pleasure to meet you.”

Physical rehabilitation exercises began that afternoon. At first, moving even a few meters was a major strain, but in the coming days, walking became easier and eventually running, until finally, I was fit enough to keep pace with human marathon runners. True, I was no sprinter, my legs were simply not designed for speed, but through training and focus my body was able to achieve a level of stamina that surpassed any reasonable benchmark for a Gamorrean. The pace was not ‘breakneck’, but I was required to keep at it daily to the point of exhaustion.

My studies continued in the lab as I ran for hours every day inside a circular treadmill. A display screen suspended before me mounted forward from the central axis displayed pages of data that flicked by at a pace suited to my enhanced ability to subsume information. Now the curriculum expanded to include galactic histories, literature and music appreciation. Admittedly the histories were severely sanitized.

During the later part of this time Novin Bress had taken a sabbatical and in his absence Turzin was not shy about explaining where the Empire was not telling the whole truth. He was at my side constantly. He brought my meals personally, and attended to me so dearly, that it was during this time I came to think of him as my father, for in a sense that is what he was. I may have been born of Gamorrean parents but I had become something entirely other, and this was done by his hand. He talked to me of his career, from his early education up to the present. How in Project Chubar he had achieved his greatest accomplishment, and how upset he had become that the Empire intended to misuse his research. He also spoke of how deeply he regretted that he had not seen the evil of the Empire sooner, and resisted their bidding, and that sometimes he wept as the faces of his earliest test subjects came to him in his sleep.

“Now Voort” said to me one morning “You have so greatly exceeded the progress of all the others that I think we will need to make up some special tests just to gauge the limit, if there is one, as to what you can learn. Clearly your intelligence is expanded far beyond the norm. We would like to put you into a series of simulated environments to see how you respond to various stimulus.”

I was then subjected to an impressive number of simulator ‘experiments’. I did not know it at the time but this was the beginning of his plan for my escape. I received training in the operation and maintenance of a wide array of space craft of all makes. There was combat and survival training, comprehensive legal codex’s, and communications education including several dozen computer programming languages. Everything needed to make a first class graduate of the Imperial Academy. In addition to all this I learned to drive civilian ground vehicles and even techniques for piloting a wind powered aquatic surface craft, all in laboratory simulations, of course.

One day short of a standard year after I first awakened in the cell, my father came to take me to the lab much earlier than usual. He explained that he had prepared a ‘final test’.
He was going to help me reclaim my freedom, and escape from the Binring facility.

For the next half hour he had me read, memorize, and then destroy a series of hand written flimsies that detailed the route I was to take to ensure my escape. Timing was critical and had been planned so that I should not encounter any guards or maintenance personnel. Also provided were access codes for storage shed outside the facility where there would be a used speeder I could use to travel along back roads to another town and how once there, I could arrange further transport to the nearest spaceport and then finally, off world. He said sadly, that he must stay behind to give the guards false information that would keep them from looking for me, at least for a while. Had I deduced that he planned to do this by blowing up the laboratory, all his research notes, and killing himself in the process, I never would have agreed to it.

Our preparations finished, he embraced me, and told me, for the last time, that he was very proud of me. I knew then that he truly felt a bond to me as a parent to a child. Turning to leave the room, the whirring of servos indicated he was cycling the laboratory’s security locks behind me, I was glad that with my back to him, he could not see the tears that were forming in my eyes. Yet again, I was alone. The difference now of course was that once off Saffalore, I would be free, to go and do, as I pleased.

Following my father’s orders I was to find my way out of the facility’s main perimeter via a path which ensured I would pass no active security sensors. Dawn was breaking and the night shift skeleton crews were winding down their assigned tasks in preparation to head home. The day shift employees would begin arriving at any moment to relieve them.
Novin Bress was due to return in two days. It was now or never.

I encountered no resistance while moving through hallways stopping and ducking into various doors in time with the sweep of the video security devices, soon arriving at the rear access doorway to the facility. Through a small security window a lone storm trooper was visible standing outside after making his rounds of the building’s exterior. Moving with extreme stealth for someone of my size, I crept up to the door and activated the control panel. At the sound of it opening, he reflexively stepped to the right, simultaneously executing a textbook ‘left face’ turn, and raising his blaster vertically to his shoulder in a crisp ‘parade salute’ posture as would be proper to recognize anyone leaving the building under normal circumstances.

I leapt in front of him and knocked out the white clad sentry with a swift rap to the top of his helmet. Inertia from his half turn carried his body fully around as he fell, landing face up sprawled across the ground cover alongside the path. Had any step of my progress so far activated any silent alarms, his helmet’s comm-link would have received an automatic warning, and he would never have been caught so easily by surprise.

Seeing him lying on his back, I noticed the distinctive pattern of wear on his abdomen plate. This man was left handed. While marching in parade formation all troopers carry their blasters facing the same direction, to the left with right hand on the trigger, but when on active duty this one clearly switched hands causing a slightly mismatched set of scuff marks just below the pectoral cleft of his chest armor.

My own head spun as I immediately recognized other familiar details of his armor. This was one of the same troopers who had originally captured me. Surely, he’d remember the mission when his squad-mate’s leg had been snapped by the green brute they’d been ordered to take into custody. From him I could learn where I had been that day and perhaps who I had been before arriving here. Removing his helmet, a quiet oath crossed my lips, sure enough he was out cold. Time being at a premium there would be no waiting around for him to regain consciousness and subjecting him to a proper interrogation regarding the details of my past. There was no way to extract that information considering his present condition, and while it would not have been difficult physically, carrying him with me until he came too, the sight of a Gamorrean nonchalantly toting the limp body of a stormtrooper down the back alleys of even a town this small was bound to draw considerable amounts of the wrong kind of attention from people who would otherwise avoid making eye contact with me altogether.

Quickly searching the man for the ID chit hung round his neck, and memorizing his operating number, I beat a hasty retreat into the shadows behind the structure and continued to the designated coordinates where my father had told me a transport could be found, hoping that at some point in the future I might find a way to access the service record of TK-6611 with regards to deployment and tours of duty.

Once outside the perimeter fence I found the public maintenance garage my father had described adjacent to the lot where a small construction company stored its vehicles. The access codes he had given me worked perfectly to enable the one whose registration plate number I had memorized, and within moments I was piloting the wheeled maintenance vehicle down a path leading to an arterial surface road. The heavily wooded terrain on either side would all but guarantee that no one who noticed my passing would get more than a glimpse of the vehicle's over-sized green driver.

By dawn the following morning I had acquired transportation off world, stowing away aboard an autonomous cargo transport full of deactivated droids headed for a reclamation facility in the Nal Hutta system. A bit of careful reprogramming in the ships systems enabled me to engage the environmental controls that normally only operate on a pilot-less ship during maintenance inspections, as well as reroute the ship to the Obroa system before continuing on its way. I covered my presence by coding diagnostic error messages into the guidance computer that would look to a maintenance query as though corrupted sectors of the autopilots memory core had resulted in intermittent engine failures causing the ship to repeatedly drop out of hyperspace during its voyage. The excessive use of the atmospheric systems were similarly attributed to a core glitch. From there a Damorian Ronto-class cargo vessel brought me to the library planet Obroa-skai, where I was able to find shelter among the Bilapheei monks who acted as caretakers of library world.

For several years I studied with them learning of philosophy and enlightenment while meditating upon all the many religions of the galaxy. The primary tenant of their order was the practice of detachment from worldly interactions which was sought as a way to eliminate ones 'sense of self' and thus find a gateway to achieving harmony with the 'all' of the galaxy. Exploring the depth of this teaching brought me to an inevitable catharsis. I had already experienced a loss of self far greater than any of the monks. That loss was not of my choosing, and every fiber of my being sought to reattach myself to the life I had lost, the life that had been taken from me. I came to realize that I was not destined to remain among them.

I made plans to leave them seeking to join the New Republic.

Brother Ulimia, who was very close to me, tried to dissuade me from going by explaining the error of seeking the world thusly: "One need not experience darkness to increase one's appreciation of the light."

"You should try spending three months without darkness." I countered "No sunrise, no sunset, not a moment when you can hide from the light, and even when you close your eyes you dream of the light. Then you will know that in darkness resides a part of the soul that cannot be seen in the light, and it is only by admitting to what lies in darkness, knowing oneself fully, that one can bring light and dark into harmony, and thus claim true enlightenment."

He smiled nodding sagely at my words for he knew I spoke of a path to the highest truth, saying "Then go you must, Brother Voort, for another way calls you. Only out there will you find what you seek. Experience brings understanding which cannot be recorded by the stain of ink upon the unmoving scrolls of history. It is the brother path to all that is written of life and of death. Nothing remains here among the collected wisdom of the infinite universe for you to learn, yet still you thirst for more. You know of the universe, now you must be of the universe. And now there can only be one more thing for me to tell you, Brother Voort."

"And what would that be Brother Ulimia?"

"That I think your father... would be very proud of you."

_________________
A Zen master walks up to a hot dog vendor and says "Make me one with everything."


Last edited by Voort saBinring on Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:23 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group