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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:57 pm 
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Rogue Squadron - Plot 18: Into The Unknown

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

The once galactic spanning New Republic has been systematically attacked
by a newly reborn
Galactic Empire. With the assistance of a newly found
planetful of Sith (Kesh), as well as the cloning facilities of Kamino, the
Empire has once more wrapped the galaxy in its iron fist.

The elite group of fighters from the
New Republic Renegade Taskgroup,
including the famous
Rogue Squadron, and infamous Wraith Squadron,
have finally made contact with the New Republic's leadership.

Now newly christened the
New Rebellion, the elite group of pilots, commandos
and agents await their next mission. One fraught with danger.

For when the good guys absolutely have to win... there’s only one group to turn to.


*cue the pan shot*


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Taking a deep breath, Colonel Garik “Face” Loran slowly turned his head, and surveyed the scene of organised chaos in front of him. The Sacul was sat inside the gigantic hangar bay of the Star Destroyer Rebel Dream, the flagship of Princess Leia Organa-Solo, and currently the largest ship in the fledgling New Rebellion.

It had been six months since the Empire (buoyed by a previously unknown planetful of Sith) had steamrollered across the galaxy once more. Task Force Renegade had made contact with Organa-Solo three weeks previously. A grateful Wedge had thankfully submitted the Task Force to join the New Rebellion’s burgeoning military.

Less than 24 hours later, everything had changed. Wes had rather wryly pointed out to Wedge that the problem with asking a senior officer for orders, is that often they gave you things to do. Despite his protestation, Wedge had been made the head of Starfighter Command, and Rogue Squadron had all but been stolen by the High Command as its personal escort and mission service. The Wraiths had been tasked by Admiral Hiram Drayson on a variety of intelligence gathering missions, but never too far from the main fleet.

Corran and Face had vented their frustration to Wedge, who in turn had passed it to the council (albeit couched more diplomatically) and a solution was agreed upon. A small group would be sent off to perform self sustaining missions all over the galaxy, or to “sow as many seeds of destruction as possible” as Face had poetically described it.

It was a mixture of the ‘old’ Rogues and Wraith Squadrons. Face and Corran would jointly lead the operation. Tyria, Dru, Theran and Halley would also transfer over from Rogue Squadron, leaving the Rogues commanded by Deven and Myn. Face, Red, Piggy, Shadow, Brya, Rrowv and Void had come from the Wraiths, filling out the roster.

A new recruit, Varen “Ren” De’mar from the Hapan Royal Guard had also been assigned to the unit. Despite the obvious political ramifications behind the appointment, Face had run the young male through several tests, allowing himself to be pleasantly surprised by the results. Zraix had rejoined the Wraiths in a technical capacity, and was happy to simply help maintain the various systems and weapons that the new group would be using.

Finally, Firestorm, without anyone to replace Locker, had been disbanded (although Face privately swore it would only be temporary). However, Alpha Squad had been kept together, and were joining the mission as a four-man unit, with Waves, Chance, Kite and Nika forming the new team.

And just like that, the mission had been authorised, which was why Face stood in the middle of a whirlwind of activity. Ordinance was the order of the day, as the Sacul was rapidly filling up to her actual volumetric (rather than load-rated) capacity, with the tools of war she wore so well.

Sacul was standing in the middle of a large group of loader droids, barking orders as dozens of crates were loaded into the cargo lifts for transportation into the Sacul’s rather small (considering her size) cargo holds. It was still an odd sight, seeing Sacul’s Human Replica Droid acting as an independent entity, whilst the advanced positronic droid brain inside the ship sat and watched. Face had just managed to get his head ‘round the technicalities of it, and enjoyed watching other people try and understand what was going on.


---------------------------------------------------------


One of the few people who had readily accepted Sacul’s Human Replica Droid was Red. This hadn’t really surprised Face or most of the Wraiths since their mechanic had viewed Sacul as a person well before her droid “joined” the crew.

As the loading process continued, Sacul paused for a brief second in her vociferous corralling of the supplies to shout up into the hold. Face couldn’t quite make out what she was hollering and made a note to remind her that even though the communications array was no longer her only way to contact members of the team, it was still often the best way. Of course, that might hurt her feelings...maybe he would ask Red to have that conversation with her. Sacul seemed to take “how to be human” advice better from her...

As if on cue, Red appeared in the cargo hatch, skillful dodging a fleet of mousebots that were flurrying in and out of the cargo hold, tasked with placing tags that corresponded to cargo containers in the designated spots where the loading droids were to deliver the supplies. A laugh and raised hand seemed to curtail the shouting Sacul and he only just picked up the start of their conversation.

“Sacul, next time just comm to let me know you need to talk. Or come inside.”

“Oh, right...”

Catching Red’s eye, Face gave a wave and smirk that showed he appreciated the commentary before moving off to attend to the business his chrono once again ‘beeped’ at him to attend to.
Red sent a short wave back to the departing Face before returning her attention to Sacul.

“So, is everything alright out here?”

In response to the query, Sacul launched into a full blown report on the status of every piece of cargo that was loaded, being prepared for loading, or still pending delivery, Red allowed her mind to wander.

The time spent as Task Force Renegade had been both an exhilarating and exhausting period of her life. She had been free of the bureaucracy and stress of dealing with a structured military: having to fill out a form for every bolt, having to justify every expense to officers with no clue of what the Sacul went through on a daily basis, having to skirt rules when trying to make upgrades or adjustments to existing systems.

At the same time, she had lost the benefits of that irritating system: having a guarantee of certain basic supplies and places to perform maintenance, the safety of larger docks and a military organization.

It had been like the shop back on Tatooine all over again - bush engineering at its best. She’d be lying if she hadn’t become worried in the days before they rejoined the New Rebellion. Supplies were running dangerously low and she had gone past the point of being able to repair some of the more sophisticated systems.

For a period of their “exile,” Sacul had become notoriously ill tempered when some of the more advanced components of her AI had been damaged in a skirmish. With Dru’s help, Red had managed to dig up necessary repair components on the black market, but it had cost her most of the back up supplies for general engine and hull maintenance. As a result, she had been jerry-rigging less important systems for some time, leaving tangles of wires hanging from the bulkheads and frustrating the crew when things like the freshers went on the fritz.

But now they were back with a fleet, back to supply chains and paperwork. Wires and simple systems were all back in neat order and Red was sorting out whether she was more relieved or saddened by the change. But sorting would need to happen later, as her ears cued in on Sacul reaching the last item on her list of pending supply deliveries. Nodding firmly, Red flashed Sacul a smile and took possession of the datapad now being extended to her.

“So, as a summary, we are at 75% capacity with the current deliveries, but the remaining cargo is estimated to need 35% of our hold space. I propose we access several of the “unofficial” storage spaces and keep several of the armament deliveries there, which should keep the cargo hold full but accessible.”

Looking over the proposal list, Red gave Sacul a nod.

“I’ll check with Face about this, but I don’t think he’ll disagree. Of course, the official report will have the excess supplies in several quarters, with a list of personnel who have been required to bunk together to accommodate the overflow.”

Sacul grinned as she took back the datapad. The pair dodged the exiting wave of mousebots and moved to activate the loader droids and have them begin taking in containers to the newly marked spots in the cargo bay the mousebots had been assigning.

“I think we should list Shadow as the new guy’s bunk-mate. I bet Ren would love that.”

“Now Sacul, don’t be cruel...”


---------------------------------------------------------


Shadow busily stashed food supplies around her kitchen in preparation for the new assignments. Thanks to Face's inventive storage solutions, the mess and kitchen no longer needed to resemble a submarine with cases of food covering every inch of floor space and then some. Still, it required every bit of Shadow's Tetris skills to fit all of her requested food stores in the various hidey-holes that Face had assigned her around the ship. Not all of them were easy to access, though, so Tryo followed Shadow around pulling around a pallet of non-perishables and to lend a hand when help was needed. Muff even tagged along to spot any unused small space that could be better utilized.

Sliding a wall panel back into place outside the kitchen, Shadow wiped her brow. All this lugging dry goods around was hard work, but it was necessary that she do it herself so that she would know where everything was. Scribbling on her notepad, Shadow noted that the flour was located “two wall panels left of the kitchen door, floor level” and the sugar was “three panels right of the door and one up”.

There, that should make sure everything can be found, she thought, flipping one last time through the five pages of notes. All of the food stores had been listed alphabetically for easy reference, though most would be amused or baffled to the extent that she had organized it all. Few realized it, but it took an incredible amount of work to locate and prepare food for the crew each day. I wonder if I should be paid more for all this... she wondered idly. Not that she needed the credit.

Shadow gave Muff a little nudge with her nose where he sat on her shoulder. It was time for a break.


---------------------------------------------------------


Tyria sat in her makeshift office (more like a cubicle, actually) aboard the Rebel Dream, jotting notes on a pad of flimsy on the desk in front of her.

Her growing “To-Do List” quickly expanded as she took into consideration all of the newly-designated responsibilities that had come upon her with all of the changes. Now that she was part of the small “special forces” group that Face and Corran were leading, she would be called upon to continue using her expertise as a pilot, as well as being the chief medic of the group. She would also be, for all intents and purposes, the only Jedi among them – essentially alone in that regard, since Corran had lost his powers. Tyria would also be learning to apply her newly acquired (and still being honed) skills in the area simply labeled “stealth.” Shadow was a good teacher, so she wasn’t worried about her involvement in the latter. But it was a lot to have on her plate. Join the club, Tyr; every one of us has more on our plates than we expected…

She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, ruminating on the events of the recent past. So much had changed over the course of the past six months. So much. Both personally and professionally.

After the Empire’s takeover, so much had been uncertain. With the Republic military forces being scattered as they were, there remained the question – “What are we now?” Tyria’s small and (as she later admitted) unrealistic hope that they could simply fade into oblivion somewhere and settle down had been shattered with Wedge’s decision to continue fighting to recover what had been lost. When he had told her of his renewed commitment to continue, it had nearly torn their marriage apart. She was furious that he hadn’t consulted her prior to announcing his plans and, in a fit of rage, had moved out of their quarters and told him that when he decided that she was an equal partner in their relationship, she might consider moving back in. He had told her to grow up.

She had held onto her resentment and anger toward him for weeks, refusing to speak to him. It had been a lonely time for her. When you’re in a group of people with nowhere to go to “get away,” it was difficult, if not impossible, to have secrets. Everyone had known that Wedge and Tyria were on the outs. Tyria maintained a very dark mood, while Wedge was strained and preoccupied. And if they happened to be in the same room, the tension was thick enough to prevent a lightsaber from cutting through it. And although everyone had continued to behave professionally, it was awkward for all concerned. Without exception, everyone had been on Wedge’s side, and Tyria knew it.

Until she finally realized (again) that this was the man she had married. The fight for justice and freedom was an integral part of who he was, and to ask him to quit now was the equivalent of asking him to stop being himself. She had then realized, too, that in spite of her best efforts at trying not to care, it was part of who she was as well. And so she grew up. She had gone (in her words), “crawling back” to beg for her husband’s forgiveness.

Wedge, never one to hold a grudge, had given it readily, and had welcomed her back home with open arms. The rest of the squadron had breathed a sigh of relief. Since then, things had been different. They were truly equal partners in their relationship, both of them strongly and steadfastly committed to the new task at hand. Their marriage had survived, and having been forged through the fire, had come out stronger. They were closer than ever.

And it was for this reason that Tyria frowned as she returned to the present. The prospect of her coming departure was not a pleasant one It was the not knowing how long she’d be away that bothered her. Having again grown close to her husband, it was hard to imagine not knowing how long it would be before they’d see each other again. She sighed. Such was the life of a member of the New Republic Military. New RebellionMilitary, she corrected herself mentally. Or just…New Rebellion.

Grabbing her notepad, she stood. Time to head over to the Sacul to check the medbay provisions, and to make sure that everything on her “medbay list” was there.

As she was heading down the corridor, she heard footsteps behind her and turned to see her husband. “Pardon me, Ma’am,” he said, “I was looking for an escort to the hangar. You wouldn’t know anyone going that way, would you?”

Tyria smiled. “I happen to be headed there myself. I’d be pleased to accompany you.”

“Alrighty then. Just…” he paused and lowered his voice, looking around surreptitiously, “don’t tell my wife.”

“Mum’s the word, Sir.”

Wedge laughed. “She still doesn’t know I spent the night with you last night either, so keep that on the down-low as well.”

“That was you last night?!”

“Very funny.”

“Yes, I thought so, too.”

Wedge caught her hand as they continued walking. “How’re you holding up?” he asked her seriously, the jovial tone gone from his voice.

She shrugged. “Oh, you know…Just taking care of business, getting things ready, keeping busy, and trying not to think about being apart.” She looked away as her eyes filled.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Wedge protested, “Aww, c’mon, Tyr; it’s not gonna be so bad! You guys’ll be coming back around to the mother ship all the time! Snap out of it, woman!”

“I know, I know,” Tyria responded, “It’s just…I’m going to miss you so much. I’ve gotten spoiled. I’ve grown quite accustomed to having you around.”

“I’m going to miss you too; you know that. But…just cheer yourself up with thinking about how great it’ll be to get…reacquainted.” He winked and nudged her arm.

Tyria rolled her eyes and shook her head. “It’s true what they say – that is all you men think about!”

“No, just mostly,” Wedge corrected her with a grin. “But seriously, Tyr. You’ve got to keep your head. It’s vital to the mission; you know that.”

“I know. I just…I feel like we just put our marriage back together, and now we’re getting torn apart.”

“But we’ll be together in spirit, Tyr. And we’ll be in contact, we’ll be able to communicate. And we’ll be together again before we know it. You’ve got to keep your chin up, though, because you have to keep your mind on the mission. I need to know you’re okay out there.”

“I’ll do my best,” Tyria answered with a sad smile. “Anyway, since we’ve reached the hangar, I’ve got to tend to some things, and I’m sure you do, too.”

“Yep. I don’t know how long I’m going to be tonight, but probably late, so—”

“I’ll likely to be at least as late as you are,” she interrupted, “I’ll try to catch up with you later and see if we can grab a bite.”

“Works for me.”

“See you later!”

With that, they went their separate ways, with Tyria heading for the Sacul.


---------------------------------------------------------


At the back of the Sacul’s secondary cargo bay normally used for ground vehicle storage, Voort was multitasking by acting first, as another strong back to stow the excessive amount of gear being crammed into the ship, all the while quietly mumbling to himself as his translator emitted a faint irregular whine. The device had been programmed to transcribe his words via holonet link directly into a special administrative file bank of the computer system. Using this method he was able to walk around unencumbered, and with the addition of a small earpiece, he could track numerous diagnostic programs monitoring all the functions of the ship, optimising code where needed, and even adding new features on the go. It had proved to be faster than hand typing at a standard data terminal, the keyboards of which were not really designed to accommodate thick Gamorrean fingers. He stopped mumbling long enough to take a deep breath and assess the situation. He stood at the center of a developing space problem. There was still plenty of room for storage, rather it was his own body that posed the problem. The more things were packed in, the tighter the allowable distance between stacks had become, making it increasingly harder for Piggy to move about. Unfortunately he was shaped such that turning sideways did nothing to ease his passage down some of the narrower aisle ways between the neatly arranged rows of equipment.

A mouse droid tried to scurry past determined to affix a label to the container directly behind him. It bumped viciously into his left foot. The next words Voort mumbled were not part of any programming language used by the New Republic. His chrono beeped. One last bit of business to tend to.


---------------------------------------------------------


“Check the scanners again, Tranz, just to be safe,” Halley said to his trusty yet mischievous arthree unit. Flying escort for the Rebel Dream was anything but fun for most pilots. Most would find it monotonous. Most would even find it redundant for a Star Destroyer that was more than capable of fending for itself to have one ship a fraction of its size act as its first form of defense. But Halley saw it as his best time to be by himself and think and gladly volunteered.

High Flight Squadron, his first command, had been disbanded, with all its experienced pilots spread out among what few other squadrons remained. Halley found this to be an odd move since most reports from Wedge and his superiors said by all accounts the New Rebellion was holding its own. But High Flight was one of the first squadrons to be torn apart, not by the ravages of war, but by the inevitable politics of war. He suspected things weren’t going as well as he and his comrades were being led to believe.

But bureaucracy and and political spin was something Halley didn’t miss about having his own command even for a second. He’d always been much better at following orders than giving them. Real control was how one carried out those orders. And being a pilot in an X-wing like the one the Colonel now inhabited, he could carry out orders quite skillfully.

And stylishly.

[Quit it with the barrel rolls and maybe I can get a good scan, Peppy.] A few annoyed tweetles caught Halley’s ears as he read the translation from his green and orange-colored droid.

With a grin, Halley complied and leveled out.

“But spinning is such a good trick.”

He was now the Wraith’s top slicer. Thankfully not the only one: Dru would be backing him up there. Wes had decided to remain behind on the Dream with Wedge.

“Fly fly, little birdy,” the General said to Halley just days before, “It’s time you left the Janson nest. I need to make room for my new espresso machine anyway!”

Despite the words, there was a seriousness in the whites of his mentor’s eyes Halley had never seen before.

“But remember: if you screw up you’ll be too dead to be yelled at.”

Obviously seriousness from Janson didn’t last too long.

For the past few days since his reassignment to Wraith Squad, Halley had been tasked with acquainting himself with the Sacul’s systems and decoding what he could of intercepted transmissions. But writing an algorithm to reliably decipher messages from “the enemy” using equipment he was unfamiliar with was proving to be no easy task.

When ones and zeroes begin to look alike it’s probably time to stop.

So he was taking a nice four hour shift-break in the cockpit of his X-wing. That seemed reasonable. Tranzo had been fine with that too as the arthree and Squeaky were in the middle of yet another fight over who the better AI was.

“Is that scan done yet?” Halley asked with mock impatience.

[Don’t rush me. It’ll be done when it’s done.]

Halley was about to come back with something witty when he noticed his HUD indicating he was drifting ever so slightly to the left. He looked ahead to confirm the movement. Then the ship began to shake slightly.

Puzzled, Halley looked down.

“Not again,” he whispered between clenched teeth. His right hand had locked up, no longer in his control. With the words barely off his lips his left hand was already digging through various pockets. So many blasted pockets on a flightsuit. What would someone really do with all those pockets anyway? Hide all the ingredients to make a salad?

Now there was pain pulsing in his right hand, and the urgency to find the golden pocket all that much more important.

Finally! Halley’s left hand grabbed hold of something cylindrical in his right breast pocket. In one quick motion he yanked it out and jabbed a pointy end of the red pen-like device into some exposed skin on his wrist between his black glove and orange flightsuit. Almost immediately his hand released its Rancor-strong grip from the flight yoke and the pain subsided.

[Stop moving! You’re going to ruin the scan, guano-for-brains!]

“Sorry, Tranz. Just wanted to mess with you some more. You’re taking too long.” Halley now had his left hand on the yoke and was flexing his fingers on his right to ensure they were no longer possessed.

He had a rare disease, Fratesi Syndrome. His dad had it, and his dad’s grandfather before him, so Halley should have expected it at some point in his life. It was like Huntington’s but with one crucial difference. It was curable.

If he could get the proper treatment.

Halley could keep the symptoms, his fingers and joints locking up, in check with steady injections of kolto: a distant cousin of the more potent bacta. This is what the doctor aboard the Rebel Dream had told him a few weeks before when he finally sought treatment for what he thought were symptoms of stress.

If he could get access to a proper medical facility and take a month or two off he could be cured completely with a chemical called rinbarem. Not a common substance found in first-aid kits or half-stocked medical bays on renegade Star Destroyers.

Halley had yet to tell anyone except the doctor that had told him. Well, the doctor and his fiancee, Tela, back home on Lianna, in a letter he’d managed to encrypt and send out recently. No one needed to know. Not yet. Especially since nothing could be done about it. The New Rebellion needed him. And he was more likely to get caught if he tried going off on his own.

He hadn’t even told Tyria yet, and of all people she would understand. He would have to tell her eventually to ensure they had enough kolto to last him a while. Especially since his lock-ups were getting more frequent. This was his second in a week.

But now wasn’t the time to worry about that. It was manageable. Halley breathed and set his right hand confidently back on the flightstick.

Right now he was on break, flying amongst the stars.

[Scan complete, despite your “fancy flying.” No enemy vessels in range.]

“Thanks, Tranzo. You can’t be too careful.”


---------------------------------------------------------


*ca-chunk* *hiissssssss*

The prisoner opened a drowsy eye as the sound of the opening security door leading into the cell block bounced around the inside of his skull. Resting cross-legged against the far wall of the cell, he slowly dragged his arms from his sides to weakly rest a hand on either knee but made no effort to rise from the forward-slumped position in which his upper body hung.

The sound of footsteps coming down the corridor was lost in the rest of the fog that enveloped his mind until just before they stopped at the door to the cell.

The cell door opened with a hiss.

The prisoner slowly blinked both eyes, acclimating to the sharp contrast in light levels between his cell and the corridor. He lifted his head enough to glance through his long, unkempt hair.

Two Jedi stood in the doorway. Carth Rand and Raye; the same two Jedi who had been dispatched to capture him after the Battle of Bormari, but ultimately failed and had been left stranded on Dathomir. It was a slap in the face to the New Jedi Order when the fugitive that had eluded the two of them for months had suddenly appeared two weeks ago, coming out of hyperspace on the tail of the Sacul, and surrendered himself to the Rebel Dream.

The fugitive had been tractored in and his shuttle surrounded by half a dozen Jedi and a dozen more commandos. The shuttle had been boarded, the sole occupant forced to his knees and injected by Raye with a serum to cloud his mind and disorient him enough to prevent his using the Force. Finally, under heavy escort, he’d been locked away in a maximum-security cell block to await trial.

A week later, the trial, if it could have been called that, lasted less than thirty minutes. With the fugitive refusing counsel or offering any words in his defense, the closed-door military tribunal had read off the list of charges. The fugitive responded with a plea of guilty. With the trial effectively over, he’d been returned to his cell to await sentencing.

“Is it time?” Captain Bowman Gavin asked as the two Jedi cautiously entered the cell.

Rand took a step forward. Like his companion, he stood with lightsaber ready but inactive. “It’s time.”


---------------------------------------------------------


Theran took a deep breath, letting it exhale slowly as is his digi-sight squared on the target. Squeezing the trigger, his KiSteer 1284 let out a quiet bark as the slug made its way down range. Staying still for a moment, Theran slowly got up, the weapons magazine now expended. Pressing the call button for his target, he then moved to the next firing lane without waiting for it to arrive.

Drawing his sidearm, a older DC-15s, while not as powerful as a DC-15S blaster the fact that the blaster pack could hold 70 shots was appreciated and made a smile come to Theran’s face at the thought.

“Ok, time for round two.” Muttered Theran to himself as he brought the weapon up.

Squeezing the trigger, the weapon let out a blast of blue energy as it kicked up. Not quite ready for that amount of kick, Theran became closely acquainted with the heavy blaster pistol as it kicked into his face.

Groaning at the novice mistake of not have a firm grip on the weapon, and his face smarting from the lesson the blaster imparted, he readied himself again. Squeezing of another shot, and another, the weapon becoming more manageable as Theran learned to compensate for the kick.

It wasn’t long before the weapon let out a click and a low whine as the blaster pack was depleted.

Hitting the call button for this lane, he waiting to see his grouping. It was adequate, not too many shots were outside of the target. Pulling the target, he moved back to his first lane, pulled the sheet after a quick glace. The rifle sheet was exactly as he expected, he had hit what he was shooting for, and the smiley face looking back at him was proof in the pudding.

Letting out a chuckle at his own foolishness, Theran cleaned his guns and put the targets in the recycling before heading back to his quarters to pack.

--------

The turbolift ride made Theran melancholy the longer he stood there. He could see his own reflection reflection staring back at him, almost like a ghost taunting him with its presence.

His one natural blue eye looking back at him, and his new cybernetic eye drawing his attention. it wasn’t that it was anything strange, or a glowing red optic, but the iris was a metallic silver. That gave it away, at least in a subtle fashion. but thinking about what he had lost on the last mission, not just the eye, but the safety of who he was.

There was something almost crushing to know that you were not necessarily yourself, or more specifically you were not who you thought you were. But instead just a clone of an original template who was made to believe something was true. His memories were all now in question, the only thing that Theran could know for a fact was true, was that he defected and was now with the rebels.

Shaking his head again, he felt the need to physically remind himself that it was the New Republic and not Rebels. Lightly hitting the side of his head against the turbolift wall, Theran let out a sigh.
“Maybe I’ve been programed to think of them as Rebels, no matter what I know,” he mused to himself as the turbolift doors opened.

Stepping out, he quickly made his way to his quarters. He didn’t want to talk to any of the others, not because he was anti-social, but he didn’t feel like they should spend time with a fake. All Theran hoped, was that the medical report he had discreetly sent off would come back that he wasn’t going to degrade too soon. his memories, true or false, were of the older clone troopers in their final days being shipped back to Coruscant.

Theran wondered how long he had left in the galaxy as he settled in for the night.


---------------------------------------------------------


Face’s chrono beeped. Glancing absently at it, he instantly double-taked and stared at it intently, the gears in his head whirring away. How the sith had time run away from him so badly? He now had two places to be, and no time to get to either of them. Instantly making up his mind, he spun on one heel... only to practically bump into a rather heavily armoured Mandalorian soldier.

“Loran.” The voice practically oozed menace. Face blinked for a second, recognising the man in front of him. Kote Skirata. Eldest son of Ordo Skirata, and trained killer. Someone who only three weeks ago, he had fought, and beaten in a bloody battle on Mandalore.

“Skirata.” Face’s voice was as cold as ice, and equally menacing as he stood firmly, his eyes narrowing slightly.

“Damn you’re good ner vod!” Kote’s voice turned merry, as he flung an arm over Face’s shoulder slapping the slightly taller Lorridian firmly enough on the back to make Face glad he was wearing subtle body armour underneath his rancor hide jacket. “But we knew that already!” He plucked his helmet off his head, revealing his broad smile.

Face grinned, covering the momentary discomfort. Beating Kote hadn’t been easy, and if it wasn’t for Tyria’s eventual administrations, he’d still be aching and limping now. But he wasn’t going to let the warrior in front of him know that. “Thanks Kote... what are you doing here?”

“Picking up Ca’tra.”

“There’s no need. I’ve bought her a ship of her own.” Face smiled, jerking his head to the far side of the hangar.

A Uulshos Manufacturing DPx yacht sat patiently, it’s dark colouring blending in with the shadows.

Kote smiled. “I know all about the Wild Star. Ca’tra commed me about it two days ago. That’s why I made my own way here, so I can take them back to Mandalore in it. Don’t worry ner vod, she’s a good ship, but I’ll make her even better.”

“Oh.” Face blinked, taken aback. “I only told Ca’tra about the Star yesterday... how did she...” He tailed off, throwing his hands in the air in mock frustration. “Never date a Mando girl. Especially those with eidetic memories, and access to intelligence sources you are unaware of.”

Kote winked. “Now you know how your squadmates feel whenever you pull that omniscient CO trick.”

Opening his mouth to retort, Face was saved by the appearance of another fully armoured Mandalorian, this one decidedly female, and decidedly holding a small, wriggling boy. “Hey.” was her simple greeting.

“Hey.” Face responded, the sinking feeling in his stomach reappearing. He leaned over, and scooped the wriggling bundle into his arms. “Hey little guy! How’re you?”

“Da!” Jaden responded, squirming around to get himself comfortable on Face’s hip.

“Been having fun with Ca’tra and Giannah?” Face smiled, tickling his son under his chin.

“Gana!” Jaden responded with a firm nod of his head.

Ca’tra removed her helmet flashing the Loran men a beautific smile. “I can do without the Nanny Droid you know. My parents raised five kids and so far twelve grandkids...”

“I know. But Jaden likes her, and whilst I know he’ll be safe...” Face tailed off.

“A fully armed, armoured and tricked out killing machine Nanny Droid is less conspicuous than an armoured Mando.” Kote finished. He shot a glance at his sister. “You good to go?”

“The fully armed, armoured and tricked out killing machine is loading the rest of the stuff on the Star.” Ca’tra turned to Face once more, holding out her hands. “It’s time cyare.”

“I know.”

The campaign on Mandalore had been a long and lengthy one. The Razorcat Battalion had managed to take down the Imperial base, but in doing so had unearthed a rather large manufacturing facility that the new Sith had managed to create. Working together, Ca’tra and Face had managed to infiltrate the complex (despite almost constant bickering) and planted enough explosives to level the base.

Sadly, their escape had been compromised, and the pair of them had endured three days in a cave whilst a raging blizzard swirled around them. After the first night of fighting (both verbally and physically) the two had spent the next night enjoying a slightly more pleasurable pastime.

Whilst it wasn’t love for Face, at least, not yet, he knew that Ca’tra was someone who he probably could fall in love with. Ca’tra’s family had a slight disagreement with her choice of suitor, and it was only after the eldest son was felled in personal combat they realised that Ca’tra had chosen a true warrior. The fact he wasn’t a Mandalorian didn’t seem to phase them, and they accepted him readily. It was confusing as all sith for the Wraith, who suddenly went from being a single parent, leading a commando unit for the New Rebellion, to having a Mandalorian family, all of whom were willing to lay down their lives for his son, who they’d never actually met.

Jaden had, naturally, instantly fallen for Ca’tra, and giggled and smiled at her, even when she had her buy’ce on, with her face completely hidden.

It was Ca’tra who had made the suggestion. Where Face was going wasn’t safe. Whilst he was going with the best fighters and operatives in the galaxy, it still wasn’t a smart move going into the sandpanther’s mouth with your son on board. Ca’tra could take him to Mandalore. She would look after him there, along with the rest of her family, and Face would visit when he could.

It was heartbreaking, but it was sensible. Face had bought her the tricked out yacht as a personal vehicle in order to ferry her back home, as well as bring the pair back to him when possible. Red, Zraix, Piggy and Dru had already spent the last few weeks rewiring, fixing and tweaking the Star in between other jobs, and Face knew that the Skirata family had their own share of technical genius’ who would be playing with the craft.

Shaking his head back to the present, Face shot Ca’tra a sad smile. “I know.”

“I wanted you to witness this though.” Solemnly, she took Jaden back off Face, holding him gently so she could look into the small childs bright green eyes. “Jaden Loran. Ni kyr'tayl gai sa'ad.”

Face blinked. “You’ve.. you’ve adopted Jaden?”

“He is now my son too Face. I love him, just as I love you. I will protect him with my life.”

“I...” Face stalled.

“I know.” Ca’tra stood on tiptoe kissing Face gently on the lips. “I know. Not yet, it’s too soon for you. But that’s OK. I can wait.” Her tone grew sombre “But Captain Gavin can’t.”

Face nodded briskly, smiling at both Ca’tra and his son once more. He turned to go, and then spun back around, taking Ca’tra in his arms, kissing her fiercely. The seconds melted into hours as their pent up frustration at their separation poured into the desperate embrace.

“Geez, get a room!”

The pair parted to see a grinning Kote stood next to an amused Red, one hand placed firmly on her canted hip. “Sorry Red.” Face smiled back, releasing Ca’tra and Jaden once more.

The Mando woman took a step back, replacing her helmet to Jaden’s giggles. “Be safe cyare.”

The sad smile in her voice carrying through her helmet. “K'oyacyi.” Come back alive.

“I intend to.” Face turned to Red. “Lieutenant, please ensure that the Skirata’s and my son leave the Dream safely.”

“Aye sir.” Red saluted.

“I’ve got to see if I can help an old friend.”


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:33 am 
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Written by the masterminds of Face, Red, and Gavin
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The court, for all its gravity, was still obviously hastily set up. It was a tertiary briefing room on one of the hangar decks of the large Imperial Star Destroyer, the de facto flagship of the New Rebellions fleet.

It was only large enough for two squadrons of pilots, but there were far less than that today. The pulpit area that was usually occupied by the squadron leader had been cleared away, with three chairs set up on a slightly raised dias. To the right of the triumvirate was another section cleared away. This space held a singular chair with a rather foreboding looking metal construct wrapped around it, leaving it clear as to who the intended occupant was.

The grim figure overseeing the event was sat squarely in the largest, most central chair. His once tawny blonde hair had dulled slightly with age, but he somehow kept the boyish charm and glint in his eyes, despite the hardness which threatened to intrude. Grandmaster Luke Skywalker. Perhaps the most powerful Jedi ever to have existed, and certainly the only person who could claim to have saved the galaxy more time than he could count, and not be over exaggerating. To his right sat Jaden Korr, a battlehardened Jedi of significant skill. To his left, Wedge Antilles sat representing the military interests of the court.

The idea of anyone attempting any form of combat, or even escape in such close proximity to the two Jedi was laughable. Throw in the fact there were half a dozen or so armed commando guards (two per exit) was rather excessive. But perhaps, the prisoner demanded such excess.

The door to the courtroom slid open, admitting the prisoner and his escorts. Gavin, with arms bound behind him in a pair of LSS 401 stun-cuffs, shoulders slouched forward, was led in by Rand as Raye took flanking position on Gavin’s opposite side. He was still a bit wobbly on his legs, having been confined for nearly three weeks, but the journey from the detention center had given him time to regain some steadiness.

“Captain Bowman Gavin?” Master Skywalker’s tone was even, and polite, but still carried enough weight to silence the gentle murmurings that were rippling around the court.

“Mostly present...” Gavin mumbled, attempting his best to straighten his posture without setting off the stun-cuffs. Raye fingered the cuff’s remote, keeping a close eye on his every twitch.

“Jedi Raye?” Once more, the tone was light, but there was a slight hint of disapproval. “I hardly think Captain Gavin deserves such close scrutiny at this time, do you?”

“With all due respect, Master Skywalker,” Raye started. “If you’d been with us on Dathomir, you would not be so lenient now.”

Gavin snorted to himself while a grin tugged loosely at the corner of his mouth. “I’d never seen anyone look so terrified before.” He cautiously glanced over his shoulder at her and shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry.”

The look Raye gave Gavin was enough to melt the grin off his face.

“He is hardly in a position to form any type of resistance at the moment.” Skywalker pointed out. “And Captain Gavin, I hardly think you are in a position to offer any type of provocation at the moment. Seeing as this court is not a trial, but a sentencing hearing, I would imagine that you would not want to antagonise your jailers.”

“No,” the captain replied simply.

“Good. Please show Captain Gavin to his seat.” The Jedi Master motioned to the chair off to the right of the triumvirate, a silence settling over the room as every pair of eyes followed the progress of the prisoner to his chair.

“Seeing as everyone in this court is familiar with the case and related charges, the only thing left is to decide your fate, Captain.” Skywalker continued. “You have pleaded guilty on all counts, with mitigating circumstances of sith alchemy and being under the influence of the late Shira Brie. Our medics have studied the data provided by Colonel Loran and can find corroborating evidence to at least the alchemy used.

“However, alchemy and influence are just that. They cannot create power, only twist it. And they cannot twist it to a great enough extent that you can claim no ownership of your actions. Whilst your feelings may have been magnified and warped, they were still your feelings and desires. At least, on some level.”

“I claim nothing more and nothing less,” Gavin answered, feeling a bit better now that he was no longer focused on keeping balance. “My actions, as twisted and influenced as they were, were made while fully aware of the possible consequences.”

A hand raised by Jedi Korr indicated a termination to the Captain’s reply. Exchanging an approving glance with Master Skywalker, he leaned forward slightly in his seat.

“And therein lies our dilemma, Captain. We must weigh the mitigating circumstances with the severity of your own actions in determining your sentence. The matter has been further complicated by the fact that the military also has a vested interest in these proceedings. Not only were your actions as a Jedi untenable, but your infractions against the military carry their own penalties.”

Korr paused, his head inclined to Wedge to indicate deference to him on the military’s stance.

“The question is... under whose detention will you reside?” Wedge inserted, a nod returned to Korr for the acknowledgement.

“How about house arrest?”

All heads turned swiftly to the new voice in the proceedings.

“Oh sithspit...” Gavin moaned, the stun-cuffs clinking against the back of his seat as his nausea returned. “I’m going to be killed right here.”

Luke’s mouth twisted in a slight but genuine smile. “Colonel Loran. I didn’t see you come in. Or sense you for that matter.”

Colonel Garik “Face” Loran smiled in return. “My apologies Grandmaster... I get that. A lot.”

“I assume you have something you would like to add?”

“With the tribunal’s permission?” Face responded, a deferential nod to the three beings in front of him. While Korr and Skywalker seemed unphased by this gesture, Wedge’s face immediately developed a suspicious expression.

“Captain Gavin has escaped from lawful custody on at least two occasions. He has attacked and wounded several people, some under my command. He has sliced the computer of a top secret, highly advanced ship, and then blown a hole in her side in order to escape. He has killed innocent people, led Imperial forces in battle, and sided with a megalomaniacal Dark Lady of the Sith.

“He has also provided information on the enemy, taken out several of their key installations, and assisted in other, major issues.

Face breathed in, steeling himself for the next part of his speech. “If he were a normal agent or operative, he would not be subjected to such lengthy trials and sentencing. He would possibly even be welcomed as a defector. The issue is, Captain Gavin can use the Force. Anything he does is magnified by that power. He is either a grave threat or a powerful ally, there is no inbetween.

“Gavin is, sadly, too great an asset to leave on the bench during these times. His knowledge of Imperial workings is too great, his skills as an operative and commando, as well as a pilot are high enough to warrant a placement in either Wraith Squadron, or Rogue Squadron...” Face paused long enough for Wedge’s begrudging nod of acknowledgement.

“Yet because he has the Force, he is treated to this...” Face waved his hand and the spectacle in front of him. “He was drugged for his own trial for Alderaan’s sake.” He fixed Luke with a pointed glare. “When you knew you had at least four ysalamiri on this very ship you could have used to neutralise him.” When Skywalker didn’t even blink, Face nodded slowly. “A fact which you knew I would notice, and be yet another reason for me to come to this charade and show my cards.”

Gavin’s eyelid twitched noticeably as he turned to face his old CO. “I thought you said the next time we met you were going to kill me in a very horrible way...”

Luke’s smile twitched once more, but motioned for Face to continue.

Face shot Gavin a glance. “Not now Gavin... the grown-ups are talking.”

Gavin’s eye twitched more, the unease on his face becoming more apparent through the haze. “You’re going to convince them to let me go and then dismember me in the hall, aren’t you?”

Before Face could answer Wedge raised a hand and cut off the exchange, an exasperated look shot between Gavin and Face. “Enough. Captain Gavin, please refrain from the unnecessary commentary. Colonel Loran...” He didn’t finish his remark, simply raising an eyebrow at his colleague.

“Apologies General.” Face responded, taking the rebuke well. “As I was saying. Grandmaster Skywalker, we both know that there is a third option, and you have played me well enough that I will be the one to suggest it. Captain Gavin is stripped of the Force, and released into someone’s custody. That someone would obviously have to be of sufficient skill, or have sufficient resources to deal with the handful even a non-Force-powered Gavin can be. Also, that person will need to be pointed in the direction of the enemy to make best use of Captain Gavin’s unnatural ability to disrupt every plan he has ever come into contact with. In fact...” Face’s eyes narrowed. “It would be even better if that person, or persons, were to be leaving the fleet on a long term mission, thus protecting the New Rebellion even more.” He shook his head. “Well played Luke. Well played.”

Master Skywalker had sat statue still throughout the dialogue and commentary, the smile that his lips hinted at only wavering that one time. Gaze passing between the Captain and Colonel, Face easily recognized the dramatic pause that he allowed before sitting forward with a slight increase in his smile. “Colonel Loran, while I am flattered by the amount of credit you are gifting me in this third solution, it would be disingenuous to disregard your own contribution of an additional sentencing option. Especially one that so masterfully seems to balance the intricacies of the case.”

The smile on Luke’s face slid to a stern expression as his focus shifted from Face to Gavin, his body turning in a subtle manner that seemed to heighten the intensity of what he said.

“Central to this entire case has been the issue of choice. Captain Gavin, you now once more face a choice. You have heard the sentences this court has considered for your judgement and now you must choose your outcome. With regards to the military, you have a choice to remain or leave. If you remain, it will be under the conditions that you not only face a demotion and other military restrictions for your actions, but that you willingly elect to be stripped of your powers in the Force. If you wish to keep your connection, you will leave with myself and other members of the order to begin rehabilitation until that point we are able to determine whether you may join the Order or must be stripped of your powers.”

Gavin’s head slowly fell forward, eyes staring unfocused at a point beyond the floor plating.

“I have had enough of the voices and the nightmares...” he finally said, his voice barely above a whisper. “The voices that cry out from the darkness and slowly gnaw away at your sanity while the Dark Side is constantly pulling you deeper and deeper into the same darkness. It’s enough that their screams and faces have been seared into my mind and will haunt me the rest of my life... but even in this fog, to constantly feel their pain and anger throbbing through Force is more than I can bear.”

“There’s no way I could successfully join the Jedi Order. Nor I don’t want the burden of responsibility that comes wi---” he felt his throat tighten as the words abruptly choked him.

Before Gavin could recover, hundreds of cries, screams, faces, and images burst violently through the haze that had clouded his mind since being taken into custody. The slaughter on Aduba III, the massacre of families aboard the Queen’s Pearl; all the lives that had been snuffed out by his murderous hatred during his self-diluted rampage under Shira’s wing.

How was this happening? Were the drugs wearing off? Had Skywalker done something to clear his mind? He reached out into the darkness; groping, grasping for some connection to the Force to raise a shield, to drown out the screams that were engulfing him and the anguished faces that stared back at him with gaping mouths and empty eye sockets. There was nothing. No beam of light or cast of shadow to take hold of. Nothing to answer to his call.

The scar under his left eye, where the shard of durasteel from the fortress had bit deep, began to throb painfully.

The voices screamed in unison.

Gavin’s head shot back, colliding hard with the seat’s head rest. His fully dilated eyes staring upwards; again at nothing.

On the skirts of his consciousness he barely registered Raye pressing the remote’s button, the shock-charge that suddenly coursed through him, his muscles contracting painfully, a lightsaber snapping to life, several blaster rifles whines, Face barking something, and Skywalker’s thundering voice commanding everyone to stand down.

A single voice stood out as the rest faded to a moderate din. Crying, weeping in misery, the Force resonated in the pain and torment. The mass of dead faces parted, expelling a body from their midst which tumbled and landed before him. The air froze in his lungs as he recognized the voice and the form that had been cast from the darkness.

Shira...” Gavin half-croaked.

Shira’s bare form slowly stretched out from the crumpled pile it had fallen into. Ragged hair covered her face as she weakly reached for his leg, using it as a crutch to pull herself upward. A chill ran down his spine as she reached up between sobs to take a fistful of his shirt and struggle to pull herself upright enough to look him in the eye. Her efforts failed; with a painful moan her fist released his shirt and she began to crumple again. Gavin’s arm caught her around her waist as she fell and, kneeling, gently set her down on the invisible floor.

Her face, once beautiful and seductive, was pale and grim. Her eyes, once deep and mysterious, stared up at him dark and hollow. Her cybernetic implants were gone, replaced by deep shadows that seemed to swallow the light like tiny black holes. The hole in her chest where the Redemptor had ended her life was still there; it too a deep shadow like the others.

“They’re coming for you, Gavin...” her cold fingertips reached up to brush his cheek. “Like they came for me.”

“They... came for you?” Gavin asked confused as he carefully brushed the hair from her face.

“They came...” she choked back another sob. “For their revenge.”

“Sithspit...” he whispered in horror.

The cries from the darkness began to grow loud again and Shira’s face was filled with terror.

“Don’t let them take me again!!” she shrieked. With both arms, she reached up to grab hold of her old apprentice, her old squadmate, and... once upon a time, her old friend.

He reached out to take hold of her again, but an unseen hand had grabbed her by the legs and pulled her back towards the faces. Gavin was left to watch in terror as Shira was dragged kicking and screaming, one hand clawing at the invisible floor while the other reaching desperately for him. With one final sobbing cry of his name, Shira disappeared into the masses, her screams rejoining the chorus of the dead.

Overwhelmed by terror, Gavin’s own scream joined theirs.

Light suddenly stabbed deep into Gavin’s eyes as the nightmare was swallowed up by the fog. His lungs burned sharply, reminding him to breath again. Nauseous and dizzy, Gavin’s eyes regained focus as he fell forward and collapsed on the boardroom floor. He felt the stun-cuffs dig into his back as he was rolled over and found himself staring up into the eyes of Skywalker.

“Cut me off,” Gavin gasped. “Cut me off now.”


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:04 pm 
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Written by Gavin and Red
-------------------------



With the moment of disruption passed, Gavin had been lifted back into his seat. Unlike the rest of the personnel present in the boardroom, Skywalker had not shown concern for the incident aside from asking Gavin what he had seen and whether or not he was sure of his decision.

“Take a deep breath,” Luke said calmly as he rested a hand on Gavin’s head. “This will not be very pleasant.”

“Just do it...” Gavin said as he slowly inhaled, exhaled, and then shut his eyes.

Inside Gavin’s head, a swirl of interstellar gases fell in upon itself, kindling a protostar behind his eyes. The protostar swelled, gathering power, ramping up intensity until the light inside his skull washed away the darkness behind his eyelids in the whited-out blaze. Beyond that, he heard and saw no more. A silent supernova erupted within his brain, and blasted away the universe.

Seconds or centuries passed in oblivion. Consciousness swam back into him, and he opened his eyes to find himself still sitting in the chair.

Nothing had changed. Everything had changed. The universe was empty now; the emptiness howled inside his head. There was nothing out there... only a vast interstellar vacuum. The Force was only the ghost of a dream from which he had now awakened.

Through blurry vision, Gavin could see that the four Jedi now stood together, halfway between the dais and the chair.

Jaden Korr retrieved a cylindrical object from his robes and handed it to Skywalker. Without a word, the Grandmaster held the object out before him and levitated it in place. Drawing his lightsaber, he ignited his blade and raised it above his head. With a single swipe, the emerald blade cleaved through Gavin’s viridian-bladed lightsaber.

“Your power is taken from you,” Skywalker said as the two smoking halves of the lightsaber clanked against the deck plates. “The symbol of that power is destroyed.”

The emerald blade fell silent as it retracted back into its hilt. “It is done.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wedge had stood from the dais and moved to stand with Face as Skywalker and the other Jedi had stood and moved to begin the ritual that would sever Gavin’s connection with the Force. Face had an uncharacteristically serious expression and Wedge was fairly certain he knew the source of his colleague’s concern.

“Statistically, the ritual to sever his connection constitutes a 100%, non-reversible process.”

The eyes of both men remained fixated on Gavin’s form as Skywalker’s hand was extended and placed on Gavin’s head. A faint sigh escaped Face’s lips as he took a moment to reply to Wedge’s preemptive reassurance.

“I know. But the process has been reversed in the past...even if it is a ‘statistical’ anomaly. Gavin might be willingly and actively trying to remove this part of himself, but I don’t think the concern that it might reappear, including the dark parts, will ever be something we can stop watching for.”

“True. But would you have vouched for resuming your role as his commander if you thought it was such a risk?”

“Wedge, you know the answer to that...”

Their hushed conversation came to a pause as Gavin’s body suddenly tensed and seemed to push forward, only held back by Skywalker’s hand on his forehead. Just as quickly as he tensed, his body relaxed and went limp, falling back into the chair and away from the Grandmaster’s touch.

“Not to belittle what I know was probably an intense and difficult thing, but was that it?”

Wedge nodded to Face, a slight frown forming.

“Corran couldn’t describe it to me from personal experience when we were discussing the option, but he said that it takes quite a bit out of the practitioner AND the subject. He said it was like being at the exact center of a nuclear explosion...it is simultaneously the most and least painful experience you could have. He warned me that Gavin will need time to adjust... it will be like waking up and not having one of our senses.”

Face nodded, eyes still transfixed as the ritual was completed with the destruction of the lightsaber. With the conclusion of the ritual, his own job began. Starting with taking official custody of Gavin and then figuring out how exactly to reintroduce him to a group of people who would be as skeptical as himself and more inclined to blowing their returned squad mate’s head off with a blaster than forgive him for his past actions.

Moving forward, Face raised a hand at a pair of the commandos who had been assigned to assist him once Gavin was in his custody. Gavin might have been granted a second chance in the military, but the bureaucracy had its own process that would need to be observed. That meant that for the immediate future, confinement to quarters while paperwork and interviews were completed was still in order.

Stepping up to Grandmaster Skywalker, Face couldn’t help but smirk slightly recalling how moments earlier the Jedi had ensured this set of events would take place.

“The military will be taking over from here, I believe...”

Skywalker nodded, setting a hand on Face’s shoulder as he spoke for a brief moment. “He is all yours, Colonel. May the Force be with you...”

“Thank you.”

Moving past the other Jedi, Face intercepted the commandos as they were meeting with Jedi Raye and receiving the remote for Gavin’s stun cuffs.

“Those won’t be necessary.”

“But Colonel, standard procedure...”

“I am aware of standard procedure with regards to the exchange of individuals into military custody. Does this situation seem standard to you?”

“No, Sir.”

Face took the remote from the commando and looked down at Gavin. After a moment of looking at the woozy form, he hit the deactivation button and offered out a hand to help Gavin rise from the chair.

“Don’t make me regret this, Gavin.”

“I take it back,” Gavin half-mumbled, half-slurred, completely drained both physically and mentally. “You can kill me now...”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Are you certain of this?” Korr leaned in and asked Skywalker quietly as they watched the pair exit the boardroom.

“Of what?”

“Sealing away his powers. Are you certain that was the wisest course of action in these dark times?”

“Bowman Gavin has the potential of becoming one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy will ever know. However, right now, his heart is too wounded, too dark, from the evil he brought upon himself and the Force has become a danger to him. In time, and much healing, he might yet return to us. Only time will tell...”


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:09 pm 
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Plotting by Red and Face!

~~~~~~~~

As Face departed, Red dropped her salute and turned to assess the situation across the docking bay where the Wild Star sat. It would probably be another standard hour before the Skiratas, Jaden and their cargo were back into the wilds of space, but there didn’t seem to be any major hold ups that would prevent them from leaving in a timely fashion.

A sideways glance was cast towards Ca’tra, who appeared to be taking a moment to compose herself from the farewell with Face. Red decided it was best to refrain from making any teasing comments at the moment. She wasn’t Mandalorian, but she understood the seriousness of the small series of events she had just witnessed and wanted to leave that untouched for the time being.

Kote, however, was not off limits and a small smile passed over her lips as her glance passed to him.

“All right, let’s make sure everything is in order.”

Beginning to head towards the Star , Red fished a respectably sized packet of datapads from somewhere in her mechanics suit and began sorting and passing them to Kote as she walked. She certainly didn’t want to make it easy on him, ignoring the fact he still had his buy’ce tucked under his arm, occasionally shouting orders or commands to the droids they were passing and generally ignored the flow of droids and technicians about them in the controlled chaos of the docking bay as she wove a path to the Star and kept a steady stream of the pads moving from her hands to his.

“So, here we have the manifest of cargo, passengers and clearance codes for take off. This one is the real manifest for the vessel.... Kee baatu baatu (Out of my way!) - Stinking mousebots!...and Face should have provided you with the security code to access that one for your own records. If he didn’t, I am sure you or someone you know can hack into it fairly easily, it has fairly minimal encryptions...Hey! You! Tell that MK-series to keep his repair station clean, he’s going to kill someone with those loose bolts everywhere...This one has the nav charts you requested.”

A pause was caught as Red stopped walking to avoid a line of cargo containers that went streaming in front of them, her eyes going from the datapads and the rest of the cargo bay activities to actually check that Kote was keeping up. A glance was also sent over her shoulder to ensure they hadn’t lost Ca’tra and Jaden behind them, discovering that they were just taking a slower pace but holding their own. She was fairly certain both of the Skiratas were managing the weaving path fine, but she had long since discovered that even elite warriors were not always prepared for the chaos of an active docking bay. Especially not one she had a hand in running. If Red was completely honest, she preferred it that way since it gave her a faint edge against others while talking business. Face and Wedge had a harder time being mad about inventory costs when they were busy dodging herds of mousebots and cargo loaders.

“The real question is, which one of these has your personal comm frequency, Lieutenant Terah?”

Looking at the grin on Kote’s face as he posed his question, Red managed to refrain from letting a similar grin form on her own face. Instead, she raised an eyebrow and kept her expression innocent and business like, as if she was clueless as to his intent.

“Oh, please don’t be so formal, just call me Red. And what exactly would you need my comm frequency for?”

“Well, I have numerous ideas for upgrading the Star, some of which might be nice to discuss. Also...” he paused as he effortlessly skirted a rather errant mousebot. “I think it would be worth having a long talk about hangar bay management.”

Red raised an eyebrow as she resumed her apparently non-linear path to the Star , a faint smile managing to escape the corners of her mouth. “Face led me to believe you had a group of your own technicians who would be taking over upgrades once you and Ca’tra left. Surely they can take care of any schemes you have.”

Kote’s grin twisted predatorily, the same twist Red had seen on Face’s features on times too numerous to count. “Of course I do. But I thought it would be nice for me to send back what I’ve done. Perhaps, if they’re not too complicated, you could learn something from it.”

It probably wasn’t the smartest thing Red had ever done, but even before Kote’s reply was finished she had come up short, turned, and put a hand up with an incredulous look. “Too Complicated? Cha skrunee da pat (Don’t count on it).”

Unfortunately, she had been taken just a bit more aback by his comment then she would like to admit, causing her to bump into him as he came to a stop behind her. A red flush crept over her ears as she quickly pulled herself back and brushed the front of her jumpsuit off as casually as she could manage at the moment, a scowl shot up at what she expected to be a smug look.

“I will have you know I could run circles around any mechanic you put up. Blindfolded.”

Kote’s head flew back in genuine laughter. “My Uncle Prudii would love to take you up on that.” He began to sidestep the apoplectic engineer, but stopped, as if waiting for something.

Two seconds later, a WED Treadwell repair droid hurtled across their path. If Kote had actually continued, the small droid would have collected him nicely. Instead, with the briefest of pauses, Kote smiled once more at Red, and continued forwards. He glanced back at her suspicious look. “I memorised the layout of the hangar and movements of the droids when I landed.“ He smiled, answering her unspoken question. “Now, where were we?”

Red managed to compose herself, a mental chastisement for rising to the obvious bait as she watched him dodge the WED. Most people had trouble predicting the paths the peculiar armed droids followed. Even though Red threatened to junk them on a daily basis, she found their somewhat erratic nature and odd appearance calming - like having a small bit of Tatooine in the middle of space with her. A small shake of her head at Kote’s confession, she fell back into step next to him, a laugh of her own at his confession.

“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by that. The alpha and beta movement plans aren’t high security. It does seem like the type of neurotic thing you would do, based off Face’s description...” Letting her last comment trail off, Red resumed skimming the collection of datapads in her hand and picked back up where she had left off. It seemed wise after her slightly underhanded use of word ‘neurotic’. “Ah, yes...cargo manifests.”

Kote smiled again. “You craftily wrap an insult to me, whilst simultaneously fingering your commanding officer.” He plucked the last of the datapads from her fingers. A couple of quick presses to various buttons, both on the pads and his gauntlet, and he handed the stack back. “Now I’m certain I require your comm code, if only to keep tabs on you.”

“I have NO idea what you are talking about.” Red sniffed loftily at Kote’s observation, taking the stack of datapads back from him as he completed the necessary data transfer. Pausing to avoid another pack of droids, Red neatly restored the pads to their appropriate pockets and gave a shrug. “If you need to keep tabs on me, ask your sister. She’ll be keeping tabs on Face, I’ll most likely be in the same location.”

Kote sighed melodramatically. “You know, Ca’tra will never let me hear the end of this.” He pantomimed a dagger in his chest. “You wound me Lieutenant.”

Red couldn’t help but grin at the feigned drama, slowing her pace as they finally came up to the area that held the Star . “Really? I thought you Skiratas were a more hearty bunch than that...I just can’t see why you’re taking such an interest in a Tatooine desert mechanic. Besides...you can’t imagine that the military just lets me give out information like that. Even to someone who is arguably one of the best mercenaries out there, Kote.”

Coming up to the docking terminal that accompanied the Star , Red began to pull up the maintenance logs and ensure that proper clearance documents had gone through, although her attention was still obviously somewhat split.

The Mandalorian placed his helmet back on, for all appearances waiting patiently for Red to complete her handover of the ship. When the diminutive mechanic nodded her satisfaction, she turned around once more. “All clear, Skirata.” She reported, a note of authority in her voice. “The Star is all yours.”

“Thank you Lieutenant.” Kote responded, his voice coming through his helmet intercom with no interference. “Oh, and if you won’t give me your commcode...” He paused, before reaching into a side pocket in his armour, and retrieving a disposable datapad. “Have mine.”

Red automatically took the datapad from his outstretched fingers before she registered what he’d said. “Oh, um...thanks....”

“See you around, Red.” Kote’s voice was unmistakably merry as he turned and walked up the entry ramp.

“See you...” Red’s reply was mostly mumbled to herself as she indulged in a moment to watch him disappear up the ramp, before turning to where her astromech Hope had managed to track her down from across the hanger. Nudging the droid with a foot, she offered the datapad Kote had given her to the R4. “Here, keep this safe for me a moment...Lose it and I won’t clean you for a month. It is Very important.”

Hope made a somewhat sour note at the threat but clamped onto the datapad. Turning away from her droid, Red had to move quickly but managed to intercept Ca’tra and Jaden as they reached the end of the ramp themsevles.

“Ca’tra! Can I talk to you a moment?”

Ca’tra stopped, glancing over at the mechanic with a cool gaze. “Please be quick Lieutenant, we have to get going shortly.”

“Of course. I just wanted to say thank you and ask if it was alright to give this to Jaden.”

The mechanic fished what looked like a mousebot control pad from a pocket, albeit one that was brightly colored and with highly simplified buttons.

“What...is that?” Ca’tra voice conveyed what Red suspected was a concerned expression under her buy'ce, her helmet tilted slightly at Red.

“Oh, sorry!” Red pressed the large green button and a mousebot came ripping over from one of the cargo boxes. Like the pad, it was brightly colored and looked as if it had been simplified from the basic model. “I had one as a kid, so...I made one for Jaden. He can drive it around, it opens up and has some basic tools in it that are kid safe...even for a baby. I never lost a finger using them, at least.”

Ca’tra’s tone softened briefly, before once more returning to their default piercing nature. “That’s a nice idea. Thanks... Red.”

“No problem.” Red passed the control into Jaden's eager hands and was about to move away from that ramp when Ca’tra’s voice caught her attention again.

“Why did you say thank you before giving him the toy, Lieutenant?”

Red looked over her shoulder, a sad smile forming. “Because you’re keeping him and Face safe by doing this, Ca’tra.”

The Manadalorian female paused, her foot on the base of the ramp. She nodded once, and then turned towards the ship. Without looking back, she continued up. “Keep Face safe for me, Red. Jaden needs his father.”

“We’ll do everything we can, Ca’tra.”

Watching the Mandalorian and Jaden disappear, Red moved back to her console and activated the last clearance sequences they would need to take off before leaving the landing pad. As she watched the Wild Star depart the hangar, she felt the tell tale nudge of Hope against her flank. Looking down, she found herself managing to smile despite the sensation of loss that hovered with Jaden’s departure.

Hope was holding out Kote’s datapad, demanding that she take it back. A larger grin formed as she took it from the R4.

“Ah, thank you. Not that I need to go through what Face did for a relationship...but who turns down a Mandalorian guy like that that when he wants to give you his comm frequency?”

Hope gave a non-interested reply, rolling away as Red activated the datapad. The grin on her face quickly faded as she read the frequency number on the screen several times.

“That low down...of all the nerve...how the hell did he?... Gaggalak mursto (Worm-eating liar)...”

Stuffing the datapad hard into a side pocket, Red fumed her way back into the chaos of the hangar bay.

The frequency number listed on the datapad was for her personal, encrypted comm channel.

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


Last edited by Octavia Terah on Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:53 pm 
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A bit by Red and Piggy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Red turned and headed back in the general direction of the Sacul. She was still fuming from Kote’s stunt, which proved he already had her personal comm frequency and had just managed to shake the black cloud from over her head when she crossed paths with Piggy, whose own demeanor suggested that of someone who had awakened after a sharp blow to the head with no idea where they were, or why one of their shoes was missing. He, was not smiling.

“Voort!!” Red chirped in a voice that attempted to conceal how sour she felt at the moment, “Where are you headed?”

“Round in circles it seems, Red.” his eyes darted about the hangar. “I know I had set aside a special crate of supplies for Shadow as she can be quite particular about how her goods are stored, but I can’t find it anywhere. For some reason, it doesn’t even appear on the supply manifest now.” He showed her a datapad and a flimsy hard copy dated one day earlier. They matched exactly save for one crate numbered 633C-AGF&TSS-354 ‘ Contents: 180 Kg ALDERAANIN GREEN FLOUR / 40 Kg THELVIAN SOUR SPICE.

Moving to inspect the datapad and flimsy that Voort produced, Red fished out her personal data pad and pulled up the master inventory lists. “I feel like I recognize that acquisition code and cargo box description...you had it stashed just behind the loading ramp, correct? Let me check the cached copies I store of the inventory. I keep a couple days worth of hourly backups on my personal server, just in case something goes missing.”

Voort nodded in the affirmative as Red entered and ran a query on the acquisition code. “I’m sure we’ll track it down Piggy. Is this really what has you all out of sorts?”

“Well, that and...” he started looking around conspiratorially, “how did the handing off of the key cards to the Wild Star go? Were you able to keep a straight face, in front of Face? I was so busy debugging the special code modifications to the living systems, I lost track of time and just barely got them uploaded through my translator linkup when my comm informed me it was time for Ca’tra to depart. I wished I could have been there but the new space efficiency parameters needed for supply storage cost me some time in getting myself extricated from Bay 3. Tell me everything. What was Face’s reaction to the toy Chubar key ornament on the chain with the key cards?”

Red lowered her head and looked up at Voort apologetically. “I hope you don’t mind, but I was a little intimidated by Ca’tra. She’s rather...serious, in a deadly way. I felt that between her personality and the fact she and Face were dealing with their separation it might be a little tacky to present it to her. I did however, leave it in the cockpit and took a holoimage so we can show Face later.”

A sudden realization dawned over Red’s face, a grin breaking her lips for the first time since the conversation started. “I left it in cockpit, where Kote is going to find it...Ha! “

“Oh, well then," Voort interjected "they are just gonna love the animated Chubar start up screen on the command console.”

“You didn’t! ” Red’s grin grew even further. “Piggy, please tell me the passcode is still “Loord Rules the Galaxy.”

Now Voort’s expression became apologetic.
“I have read it is an ancient custom, among humans, for good friends to perform pranks of inconvenience upon the vehicle of a newly bonded life pair. They will cover the viewscreen with cleanser foam, or fill the passenger compartment with large shelled nuts, and since I couldn't very well fill the whole ship with suds and Nelvaan squirrel food, I went with what I know best, computer sabotage.”

Red laughed in obvious glee “It is! And since Kote is the one flying the Wild Star out, HE is the one who will be dealing with all of the pranks you left behind. Plus, he’ll have that passcode, since it was transferred when he dumped the files from my datacards into his own data storage. Piggy, you just made my day!” Overtaken by excitement, Red actually jumped up and planted a peck on Piggy’s cheek. The Gamorrean cleared his throat and gave the tiny engineer a curious look.

“Your reaction assures me I did not make an irrevocable social misstep, by not waiting until Face and Ca'tra underwent a formal bonding ceremony, though I can’t help but feel that your excitement exceeds the appropriate level inherent to the humorousness of which I am aware. Am I missing something that happened while you were seeing the Skiratas off to make you take such pleasure in the thought of Kote being inconvenienced?”

It was Red’s turn to clear her throat, the tell-tale flush of embarrassment creeping over her ears for the second time that day. “Oh, um...nothing. He might have managed to covertly procure my personal comm frequency...and make more than one deprecating comment that I am pretty sure were semi-veiled compliments meant to get a reaction out of me. You know...they type of thing that makes me wish him nothing but images of dancing Chubars with the voice of child actor Face Lorran for the duration of their hyperspace jump.”

“Ahhhhh” Piggy nodded, “Sauce for the Goose.”

Red nodded and cleared her throat again, fingers fidgeting on the edge of her datapad as she checked the status of the inventory search, which appeared to be hung up at 98%.

“Not that the whole squad needs to know Kote got the drop on me...Also, it would be great if you could help me re-work some of my personal security frequencies. I don’t need every curious Mandalorian with hacking skills and time to spare procuring my personal information.”

“You know Red,“ Piggy teased ”the holonet is chock full of adverts for security packages to prevent loss of personal information.”

“You don’t say?” she retorted in mock astonishment. “And they’re specifically rated for Mandalorians?”

“Yup, Saw a whole bunch of them last night while watching Gamorrean Idol.”
Piggy’s wide-eyed expression, and earnest insistence upon this obvious lie sent Red into a fit of laughter, which she only managed to curb when her datapad sounded an alert signaling completion of its search. Composing herself as best she could, Red straightened and began to look through the search results that scrolled across the data pad screen.

“Piggy, I think I have an idea where your missing crate went. It looks like the acquisition line was removed after a transfer request was submitted sometime last night. When a droid retrieved the crate, it automatically transferred the entry to a new database off the military server and removed it from our inventory list.” Red pulled the last cached copy with the entry up onto the datapad screen, highlighting the transfer request code with her finger before passing the datapad to Piggy.

“Any idea who ‘Martini’ is, Piggy? Or what he would want with Shadow’s crate of flour and spice?”

“A bantha-brained slicer for one. If he can’t hide his tracks well enough to defeat a manifest cross reference check, I don’t imagine this taking very long to resolve.” He turned to Red “Do you have a moment to join me for a quick walk up to the security personnel office?”

Red tucked away her personal datapad, a smile flashed to her teammate at the invitation. “You know, I could use a break from the hangar bay.”

-----

Shortly after the duo arrived at the main security office, the personnel director stood up from her desk, and walked casually to the tall security desk shooing away her hapless window clerk to personally answer the question Red and Piggy had posed. She looked down from her perch directly at Red.

"I'm sorry” she said, her mouth the flat emotionless line of a minor functionary whose self worth rested entirely in the power she held to restrict the flow of information to others, “our records indicate there is no one currently listed in the roles in any capacity by the name of Martini. Not a very common name. However,” she added in a tone that suggested it pained her to bend the rules, but she would just for them “I can tell you that a Gungan by that name was working for a Tapcaff called Planetfall, on an orbiting base over Aaeton where Rebel Dream berthed for shore leave about half a standard year ago. Apparently, he was piped aboard to make some food deliveries. Is that maybe, who your... friend here,” her bony hand indicating Piggy, “is looking for? Unfortunately, he is not part of the ship’s complement.” It was clear she hoped this tidbit would make the pair go away. Since Martini had not actually worked on the ship the information she had already ‘divulged’ was in no way classified. Anyone who had ever set foot in the place while on leave could have told them as much, and certainly with less condescension.

Piggy nodded. “Yes!” Red responded as if interpreting for him, “I think that must be him. Is there any way to contact him?” Can we see his vetting papers?”

A long pause followed as the woman surveyed Red’s somewhat less than spotless jumpsuit and her Gamorrean companion dismissively. Military security would have of course, covertly vetted all civilian employees of station-based service businesses that were likely to be frequented by it’s members. This scrutiny would have far exceeded any standard employee background check by means of a Senate sponsored agreement with local law enforcement (ironically called the ‘Free Flow of Information Act’,) which was created to allow them to know which beings the NR Military regarded as particularly dangerous and prevent them from being hired for employment near any tactically significant locations. It also worked the other way, and she seemed particularly upset that Red was apparently aware of this. That such information was even collected was highly classified, and it was here where the woman resolutely decided to terminate her false helpfulness and the conversation as well, by playing her favorite trump card.

“Sorry sweetie, not without sufficient security clearance.” Pleased that she had fulfilled her life’s purpose in denying someone’s request for information, a smile of true personal satisfaction blossomed on her lips.

Red and Piggy nodded at each other and then, in a single, smooth, almost practiced move, they simultaneously flashed their security credentials to the woman.

”Oh my! Yes, yes! Of course!” the stunned bureaucrat sputtered, her eyes grew wide and her manner suddenly became much more amicable. Hurriedly she ushered them through the security door where she swept aside a mountain of binders and datacards to clear her own personal desk in order to set a flurry of relevant documents before her superior officers, laying each out like fine gems, flattening dog-eared edges, and quickly summarizing each “This Martini had a clean security record. No priors. His original application to Planetfall, comm number, family contacts, references. No red flags. Nothing unusual about his dismissal.” she offered up the flimsy print out, “Everything we have It’s all right there. Oh my! It appears your Mr. Martini is no longer employed there and his comm number is currently disabled. No address available, except his last known residence, in the town of..”

“O.K. That will do. We have everything we need. Thank you Ma’am.” Red interrupted. Piggy scooped up the flimsies and nodded politely as he followed Red out the door.

Once alone in the quiet hum of the turbolift headed back to the hangar bay Piggy spoke. “So long as I live, I swear, I will never get tired of that look of terror in a bureaucrat's eyes.”

Red again, burst out laughing so hard she was barely able to support her weight. “Honestly! I know it’s their prejudice showing, which should make me angry, but that only makes the reaction you get so much better than if it were just me. Although if someone ever calls me ‘sweetie’ again, I might not be able to keep my cool.”

“Glad you were there to share in the moment.” He shuffled the papers into neat alignment, “What do you think should be our next step?”

“Well, Martini is a ghost." she replied sobering to the question, "Clearly he is not aboard the Dream" at least not by that name, and the droid I sent off to check the other cargo areas reported no success in locating the crate even at the false re-routed delivery point, so we're at a dead end, right? Unless,” her eyes locked with Voort’s, “we track down when, and where Martini made those deliveries!”

"Yes" Piggy concurred, “And to whom.”
_______________________________________________

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


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:31 pm 
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Posted on Face's behalf
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



With a slight pop, the Sacul cleared the magcon field of the Rebel Dream and drifted into space. Colonel Garik “Face” Loran leaned back into the Captain’s chair on the bridge of the assault corvette and breathed out a gentle sigh.

It was odd, there was even more pressure on his shoulders now, as he was in charge of an entire special operations team, practically cut-off from Rebel High Command, but somehow, the act of leaving the gigantic ship seemed to help him breathe easier. He was back where he wanted to be, working against the Empire with a group of experienced agents, pilots, operatives and commandos by his side. He winced in guilt slightly at the slight thrill that ran through him. He had sent his son across the galaxy with someone he’d only really just met. The fact that he was falling in love with her, she had already fallen in love with him and his son helped ease his guilt somewhat. Plus, she was a Mandalorian super commando, surrounded by an entire family of killing machines, all of whom would now lay down their lives for his son. It all helped… but not all the way.

Face shook himself from his internal musings. Now was not the time. His eyes swept over the bridge in front of him, specifically the crew. Some were old, some were new, and it would take awhile for them to gel together as well as the old Wraiths had.

“Hyperdrive calculations complete.” The grunting of Voort “Piggy” saBinring was accompanied by the soft mechanical voice of his implant. “Come to heading 138.1 by 45.6.”

“Aye.” Brya’s voice responded, slightly tighter than Face would have liked. He hadn’t particularly wanted to lose Kai, his previous pilot, but sadly, her talents were needed elsewhere. She had been reassigned to a unit operating undercover in Hutt space, and quite frankly, her skills as an underhanded, lying, sneak-of-a-thief would be better utilised there. It was upsetting to lose her, but despite the logic of the situation, and the mighty power of the military, she was still a Wraith.

Out of all of the new personnel, Brya was the only one with experience flying ships like the Sacul. Well, that wasn’t strictly true. Bowman Gavin had experience, and had even previously flown the Sacul. But despite his rejoining the crew, Face knew enough not to push it. The Sacul herself would have a fit at the thought of the troubled Corellian at the helm.

Instead, Brya had been given a crash course by Kai (the name making the sultry Twi’lek smirk) on the intricacies of flying the large craft, and Brya had hardly left the simulators or the bridge since.

With only the briefest of pauses, the Sacul turned gracefully towards the heading Piggy had called out. Face nodded to himself. “Time to hyperspace?”

“As soon as we clear the fleet.” Piggy’s response came. “1 minute 45.3 seconds.”

“No need to be quite so precise.” Face smiled.

“You asked.” Piggy responded dryly.

“I did.” Face conceded. “OK, as soon as we’re clear, enter hyperspace. No reason to push her too hard. Stick to 1.5 for now. She’s still relatively new with the refurb, so let’s not break her before we need to.”

“I’m sitting right here!” Sacul responded, turning in her seat to shoot the CO with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, yes…” Face sighed. “You’re sitting there, but the ship isn’t.”

“I AM the ship.” Sacul pointed out, her eyebrow now matched by the other one.

“Then you should know that some of your systems are brand new and untested.” Face responded. “And therefore, you shouldn’t be pushed quite so hard.”

“Fine.” Sacul pouted, turning back to her sensor board.

Smiling to himself, Face leaned over, and pressed a series of buttons on his armrest. “Attention all personnel, organic or otherwise. Please report to the briefing room for a mission briefing in 10 minutes. Face out.”

Clicking the intercom off, Face stood smoothly up, looking at the three other occupants of the room. “Once we’re in hyperspace, lock the consoles down and join me in the briefing room.” Walking to the rear of the bridge, he looked briefly at the newest addition to the Sacul. A mini-turbolift system. As he stepped into the lift, he shook his head in amusement. Every time his craft went in for repairs and refurbishment, it seemed to grow, both in size and equipment. He tapped one of the controls, and was whisked away.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:51 pm 
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Written by Red, Face and myself!

------------------

As soon as the Sacul cleared the magcon field of the Dream and the hyperspace data was transmitted between engineering and the bridge, Red pulled herself away from her primary console. The Sacul’s HRD had jumped at Red’s offer to manage the final jump preparations from her console at the bridge and the engineer wanted to check in with Shadow before the team’s first official briefing.

Making her way from engineering to the galley, Red’s guess at where her teammate would most likely be during take off turned out to be correct. With all of the chaos of the preparations on the Dream, there hadn’t been time to socialize much with anyone besides her maintenance droids. It was a pleasant surprise to realize how much easier access to her teammates would be now that they were once again deployed on the Sacul.

“Hey, Shadow. I was hoping to touch base with you about some missing cargo, do you have a minute?”

Shadow turned around from her giant lump of bread dough, arms covered in flour. “Sure, come on in. Keep back a bit if you don’t want to look like you walked through a snowstorm.”

Red smiled at the invitation, a brow rising as she moved from the entrance to the galley to lean on a counter near where Shadow was working. “I’d be more worried about contaminating the dough, even if I am relatively clean of grease for the first time in weeks. I wasn’t sure if Piggy had a chance to talk to you yet, but I wanted to apologize that we weren’t able to locate the missing Alderaanin Green Flour and Thelvian Sour Spice before we departed....”

Red had to pause her line of conversation for a moment as Face’s voice came over the Sacul’s intercomm, eyes instinctively rising to the ceiling. “Attention all personnel, organic or otherwise. Please report to the briefing room for a mission briefing in 10 minutes. Face out.”

A faint nod at the reminder, Red looked back to the doughy pile Shadow was massaging. “As I was saying, we didn’t have any luck. But, we’re going to keep backtracking to see if we can figure out what happened to the flour and spice. I know it was one of the things you’d earmarked as special on the manifests.”

“That’s okay, I miiiight have remembered where I stashed them. I vaguely recall shoving stuff behind a wall panel in a supply closet off the cargo bay. I’m going to check later. Face just assigned me so many random hidey-holes that I’m having trouble keeping track, despite my lists and maps.” Shadow gave the dough a last rounding and hefted it into a large, oiled bowl and covered it with a towel. “There, that should be good until after the briefing. Just let me wash up and I’ll walk there with you.”

“Well, I hope it shows up. If not, we’ll keep following the digital trail from when it first went missing.” Red couldn’t help but chuckle, a sympathetic nod at the reference to odd storage arrangements. “I can completely understand about the strange storage solutions. My hammock space ended up being where all the spare fibre optic wires got stored. I used a few to decorate Sacul’s docking port.”

Grabbing a spare towel from the counter she was leaning on, Red was in the process of passing it to Shadow when Face suddenly appeared in the galley door. An eyebrow rose as he took in the flour storm that seemed to have settled on Shadow, but it didn’t seem to amuse him as much as such a sight normally would. As he entered into the galley it was apparent his mood was somewhat somber, especially when he finally spoke.

“It’s a bit convenient to find you two together, I had some news you both need to hear before the briefing.”

Shadow raised her brows as she used a brush to scrub doughy bits from her hands and arms. “By all means, you’d better get it out. With a look like that on your face, it can’t be good.” Shadow shook off her apron as she hung it up and grabbed a small broom to dust off her trousers and shoes.

Face nodded, his arms crossing slightly. “I wanted both of you to know that prior to departure from the Rebel’s Dream, Bowman Gavin was formally brought up on charges by both representatives of the Jedi council and the military government. He pled guilty and elected for his sentence to include being severed from his connection to the Force.”

There was a brief pause as Face seemed to take in the silent reaction of both Shadow and Red before continuing.

“I am telling you this because Gavin was then turned over to my custody and was permitted to return to his spot as a member of this team, albeit with a demotion and significant restrictions. He will be joining us at the briefing shortly and I did not want it to be a surprise to either of you.”

At first, Shadow half-thought that perhaps this was some big practical joke, one that was not at all funny. Unfortunately, as good an actor as Face was, his demeanor ruled that option out immediately.

“I’m going to need to sit down, sir, if you don’t mind,” Shadow mumbled as she half flopped onto her kitchen stool. The room was starting to spin uncomfortably and there was a sharp pain behind her eyes. “Can you maybe explain to me how, after all that has happened... Why?”

Face’s expression softened just slightly as Shadow sat down, but very rapidly returned to the stern expression he had worn when he first entered the galley. His proclamation had elicited a whitening of Red’s knuckles, but upon seeing Shadow flop onto the kitchen stool she seemed to set aside her own reaction in order to move and carefully place a supportive hand on her teammate’s shoulder. It was obvious to Face that she had her own reaction but was holding off on expressing it in the face of Shadow’s pain. Moving closer to the pair, Face met Shadow’s gaze unflinchingly.

"To be honest, I didn't intend this to happen." He paused, as if gathering his thoughts. "I guess I was kinda out maneuvered."

Despite the situation, Red quirked a smile. "The vaunted Face, out played?"

Face shot a quick grin in return. "My ego can take being beaten by Grandmaster Skywalker." He sighed. "Sadly, there was only one way that Gavin was going to walk out of that sentencing, and that was the way Luke wanted. Gavin is too volatile to be trained as a Jedi yet, and too much of an asset to be locked up. The solution, strip him of the Force and give him to someone to temper. Sadly, Luke felt I was the best choice.”

"Even without the Force, Bowman Gavin is a superior pilot and soldier. His skills will be invaluable in the upcoming campaign." Face paused once more, looking at the two women with a mixture of compassion and gravity. "This decision was not made lightly and I came to you so that you would have a moment before the briefing to prepare for seeing him. I need you to remember your bearing as an officer and a member of this team.” His voice hardened minutely. "Bowman Gavin will conduct himself as a valued member of the team, and despite your pasts, I expect you to treat him as a colleague." Almost as suddenly as it happened, his voice softened again. "And if you have any personal issues, I want them to come to me, not him, and not to let anything fester."

Looking between the two women, Face’s made the final part of his statement a clear question to the pair.

“Can you both remember that?”

As much roiling as was going on in her thoughts and stomach, Shadow nodded. She could do this, she had to. Taking a deep breath, she slowly came to her feet . “Yes, sir, I can.” Running fingers through her long, dark hair, Shadow looked over at Red and nodded again. She could do this knowing she wasn’t alone. She had a ship full of team members that had her back and would support her.

Red had let her hand drop from Shadow’s shoulder as she stood, but had held off until Shadow gave her the small nod before finally looking back to Face and replying herself. “Yes sir. Thank you for the heads up.”

Face’s shoulders seemed to relax slightly at their confirmation, a nod of his own as he turned and exited the galley. “Good. I will see you both in the briefing room momentarily.”

Watching Face leave, Red took a slow deep breath as she let her own mind run over the implications of the conversation that had just occurred. Looking back to Shadow, she seemed unsure how to proceed for a moment, before finally speaking. “Do you still want me to head to the briefing with you, or would you like a moment alone?”

“I think... I think I had better come with you. If I don’t, I’m liable to either run and hide until it’s over, or get lost in thought and never make it. This may sound silly, but... Would you hold my hand?”

Red seemed a bit startled at the request, but immediately had reached out to take Shadow’s hand in her own. “Of course. I’ll try not to crush it...I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t having my own reactions to this right now.”

Tossing the towel she had in her other hand as neatly as she could over the edge of the nearest sink, Red attempted a weak smile as the pair moved to exit the galley and head to the briefing room. “Hey, if you want to talk later...you know you can always come see me in the engine room. Besides...” the smile managed to strengthen slightly as Red attempted to lighten the heaviness that had settled over them, “I might have installed a new inter-engine fermentation system I designed during my down time, without telling anyone. The current batch is probably on level with cooking sherry, but I figure you would be the best judge of that.”

Shadow smiled wanly. “It’s a lovely offer, but I’m afraid most fermented beverages make me nauseous. Given my already churning stomach, I think I’ll pass on the beverage offer, but I’ll keep the talk in mind. Come on, we’d better get to that meeting or Face will have our hides.”

_________________
Gavin: I don't know whether to strangle you or kiss you.

Me: If you strangle me first, I'll be dead for the kiss, so you'd better do it the other way around.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:14 am 
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Written by Face and Gav
(minor detail edit)
----------------------------------





Face clenched his jaw tightly as he tried to get the image of Shadow’s expression from his mind. He knew this was going to be difficult, but seeing his crew in distress was never easy. Rolling his neck from side to side, he winced slightly at the cracking of muscles as he did so. At 35, whilst not technically past his prime, the last two decades of constantly pushing his body were beginning to take its toll.

Hoping he wasn't unconsciously preparing for a fight, Face arrived at the currently unmarked door, and pressed the call plate.

----------

In his newly assigned quarters aboard the Sacul, situated at one end of the row as his old quarters had long since been reassigned, Gavin stared hard into the mirror above the sink. Dropping the scissors onto the crumpled towel on the floor, he surveyed his work. His hair was several centimeters shorter now; less ragged, and ending mostly evenly just below the level of his ear lobes. In the past he would’ve preferred a much shorter cut, but he’d grown accustomed to the new length during his time on the run.

He turned his head to the right and the left. He still looked like a mess; especially around the eyes. He’d need at least a week of sleep to recover. What little rest he’d gotten in the hour since the sentencing, having not left his quarters since being deposited there, hadn’t been much help.

The sudden sound of the door chime made him jump. He mentally kicked himself for his trepidation... warranted or not.

“Enter,” he called out.

With a quietness customary for the Wraiths’ home ship, the sort opened on silence. Face stood, surveying the scene. "You know we have a droid on board that can do that." Face gestured to the pile of hair strewn across the floor.

Gavin flicked off the light over the mirror and entered the main cabin. The cabin was still void of anything aside from the basic amenities common to the rest of the crew cabins. With all of his personal effects still either in one of the Sacul’s storage lockers or aboard his still-unaccounted-for freighter, it barely looked like the quarters had an occupant at all.

“Call it therapy,” he said plainly. Untying the sleeves of the black and grey flight suit from around his waist, he slipped his arms into their lengths and zipped the front of the suit up to just below the collar. “‘Bout that time then?”

"I know you heard my announcement. Just wanted to check in on you before we started." Face fixed the younger man with a stare filled with no emotion. "Ready?"

Gavin took a deep breath as he fell into a habitually loose attention-stance. “I think the better question is if they’re ready.”

“They can handle the change.” Face shrugged. “They’re professional.” He stood, as if waiting for something.

Gavin turned his head slightly and narrowed his eye, puzzled at the unexpected pause. “What?”

“Waiting for a thanks.” Face replied simply.

Gavin glanced over his CO’s shoulder with a blank face, as if breaking the fourth wall to address a nonexistent audience and say why am I not surprised? “Thank you,” he started. “For not killing me on sight. The reasons of why I wonder about, but in the interest of time I’ll wait for you to reveal that at a later date.”

“Whilst I appreciate that my reputation of lethality is constantly spreading, even I would pale at shooting an unarmed prisoner. No...” Face paused, his eyes flashing with sudden anger. “How about, thanks for pulling your sheb out of a Jedi jail sentence. For giving you another chance to make a difference in this galaxy, for bringing you back into a team where your very presence is going to upset many people, including the one you used to love. By risking this very mission and ALL our lives that despite all that has gone on, I've staked my crew's life on the theory that you're a person, actual and whole, and if I'm wrong, this whole thing is going to blow up in my face.”

Gavin visibly withered under the angry glare. Still suffering the effects of the sealing ceremony, he found his brain had completely blanked. “That too...” he managed after his short term memory coughed up a few fragments.

Face’s glare vanished. “That’ll do. We’ll work on your delivery later.” He smiled, extending a hand out to Gavin. “Welcome back Mr. Gavin.”

“Speaking of angry glares and death threats...” Gavin cautiously took the hand and quickly moved to change the subject. “How’s the kid?”

“Safe, happy, growing.” Face nodded. “And for that you have my thanks.” He let go of the younger man's hand.

Gavin paused, carefully considering how to word his next question. “Would you like to know what Shira named him, the day he was born?”

Face paused, his mouth dropping open slightly, as his brain worked at lightspeed. He blinked once. Then twice. “No.” He finally responded, his mouth suddenly dry. “Never.” He shook his head, clearing it. “We best get going, otherwise I’ll be late for my first briefing, and never hear the end of it.”

Gavin nodded wordlessly as he followed Face out of the cabin towards the mini-lift.

“Jaden,” Gavin muttered under his breath enough that Face wouldn’t hear him. “She named him Jaden.”


Last edited by Bowman Gavin on Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:20 am 
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Introductory portion, up to the end of the datapad message, written by The Facial One himself.
----------------------------
“Attention all personnel, organic or otherwise. Please report to the briefing room for a mission briefing in 10 minutes. Face out.”

Tyria glanced at her chrono almost habitually. Seeing as the briefing room was only one deck above her office, she had plenty of time. It was a slightly odd feeling. Whilst she knew she would miss Wedge deeply, she was already organizing her new office to her liking. The fact that only recently, it was Elassar's office was also slightly unnerving, but she was now the CMO of the mission, and it was now hers.

A soft chime beeped from her personal datapad, interrupting her musings. Frowning, she looked at the incoming message.

Tyr, apologies for the lack of notice. Got outplayed by Luke at Bowman Gavin's sentencing. Gavin has now been stripped of the Force and is under my custody. He's joining us on the mission. Really sorry to throw this at you, but felt you deserved a heads up. Speak to me later if you need to. Face.

Tyria stared dumbly at her datapad for several seconds as the information registered. Then she frowned and held her breath, wondering how long it would take for her head to explode from this new development.

When it didn't, she let her breath out slowly, then tried to figure out exactly how she felt about...this. Unable to make heads or tails out of it, she checked her chrono again and decided she had just enough time to go see her husband before the briefing. She got up to go, and then remembered the goodbye that was still so fresh it hadn’t fully sunk in yet. She sighed, and glanced at the com on her desk.

She quickly hit “forward” on her datapad, and transmitted Face’s message to Wedge before grabbing her com.

“Antilles,” her husband’s voice came over the line.

“Wedge, it’s me. I just sent you something.”

“Just reading it,” he answered. There was a long pause between them as he scanned the message. “Ah. Well?” he said when he’d finished reading.

"You knew about this?" she asked, guessing correctly from his tone.

"I was there," he replied simply

"Sithspit, Wedge," she snapped, shaking her head, "you could've warned me. All things considered." She jumped up and began pacing around her office.

"No, I couldn't have," he responded, "Tyria, this is Face's mission. It's not my job to brief his team. Extreme breach of protocol." He paused. "All things considered."

"To hell with protocol," Tyria muttered, “What protocol? We’re the New Rebellion, remember? Our very existence is a breach of protocol!” Then she sighed. "I don't know what to do with this, Wedge,” she admitted, “I have such…mixed feelings about it. I mean…obviously he and I have a background that prevents me from ever trusting him. Not to mention the history he has with Corran. And Shadow. Sith, especially Shadow. And before you say something about how we should just try to resolve our differences and try to get along, don’t even go there. It’s more than that, and you know it.”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” Wedge replied. “Look, I know that you—”

Tyria cut him off after checking her chrono. “I’m going to be late. I have to go.”

“Hold up a second. We can finish this.”

“I don’t want to be late for the briefing. Face will have my head.”

“You’re discussing official business with your XO. If I say you can be late, you can be late. Now then. What I was going to say is that this news didn’t thrill me, either. But Face is going to do his damned best to keep things under control and, since Bowman’s been stripped of the Force, it should be easier than before. And, since he has been stripped of the Force, perhaps he’ll see things in a new light – much of his previous arrogance was due to his powers, and since he doesn’t have those powers anymore, he may be a bit more humble. At the very least, Tyr, at least give him a chance before you trounce him. You owe him that much.”

“Like hell! I don’t owe him anything.”

“Point taken. But you do owe your team that.”

“But—”

“Tyria, listen to me. You may recall that, not so long ago, you were the one on the outside of things. Pretty sure you do remember…There was a certain incident in which, for over nine weeks, you refused to have anything to do with me. And everyone knew it. And everyone managed to treat you professionally in spite of the fact that none of them saw it your way. Now it’s your turn to return the favor. One of the first marks of a professional military member is to trust your CO. So you’ve got to go in there, trust Face, and treat this entire situation like the professional that you are, in spite of what kinds of emotions get in the way.”

Tyria wilted, sinking back into her chair. “Sith. Have you always been this persuasive?”

“Of course. How else do you think I got you to marry me?” Wedge responded with a grin that Tyria could hear in his voice.

“I married you for the power and prestige that comes with being a general’s wife,” she replied in kind.

Wedge laughed. “And what a rude awakening that must’ve been for you. But anyway. Don’t you have a briefing to get to?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well then, hop to it. And, Tyr, it’s gonna be okay.”

“I hope so.”

“It will.”

Tyria had begun pacing again, but now she stopped and leaned her head against the wall. “This is going to be so much harder than I thought it was going to be,” she remarked, her voice thick with emotion. “I miss you already.”

“Don’t do this, Tyria.”

“I can’t help it. I mean…he’s here, and you’re there, and I just…I already need you and I’ve barely been gone a couple of hours! How in the Force’s name am I going to survive this?!”

“Because you are. You’re strong, and you can do this. We can do this. Now pull yourself together and get to that briefing.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Okay then. I’ll com you tonight. Tyr, I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Tyria whispered, clicking off her com.

Checking herself in the mirror, she wiped her eyes, straightened her hair, and headed for the briefing. There was business to attend to. Emotions could wait.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:59 pm 
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Posted on Face's behalf
------------------------------



Following Face’s intercom announcement, the briefing room on the Sacul began to fill up as the newly formed teammates made their way from around the ship and sat in the chairs that surrounding the large projector in the center of the room in a U-shape. While everyone was familiar with each other, old team lines were somewhat apparent in how people sat themselves.

The briefing room itself was situated at the rear of the ship on the top deck. The magnificent skylight offered impressive views whilst in realspace, but the windows were automatically tinted whilst flying through the maelstrom of colours that was hyperspace.

Rrowv and Void had been the first to arrive and after grabbing a pair of chairs in the back tier of seats on one side of the ‘u’ arrangement that surrounded the holoprojector, they had struck up what seemed to be a long running, vociferous debate over their preferred forms of ordinance.

Halley, Theran, and Ren had sat together in a small group, several seats away from the arguing Wraiths where the chairs ran along the back wall and soon begun comparing their flight escort assignments from the Dream.

Corran and Tyria had arrived with many of the others and paired off in the corner seats near the pilot’s group as they quickly got lost in a quiet conversation.

When Dru arrived, he took a seat in one of the back rows across the room from where Void and Rrowv were arguing, his eyes glued to a datapad he had brought with him.

Red and Shadow arrived just ahead of the bridge crew and situated themselves in the corner seats right next to Rrowv and Void. The two furry members of the team had cut off their debate and made an inquiry of their female teammates, having noticed that they entered holding hands. Soft deferrals seemed to cut off the line of questions, although as the pair resumed their debate on controlled explosions they seemed skeptical to the answer they received.

Piggy, Sacul, and Brya had all taken some of the remaining seats located near Dru, their presence seeming to pull him away from his datapad.

The only one left to arrive as Face, the chrono on the wall indicating that he had a minute left before his own deadline to start the meeting expired.

As the seconds began to count up the last minute left before the meeting started, the conversation between Rrowv and Void had cut off and the pair became riveted to the timekeeper with hopeful grins. As the 30-second mark hit, a soft, almost ritualistic chant developed as they began to count down the time.

“29...28...27...”

While none of the former Wraiths seemed to even notice this behavior, the former Rogues had all been drawn from their conversations and were attempting to observe what was going on without staring. Finally, Tyria broke the silence that had developed around the countdown, letting a full fledged look of confusion break across her features.

“What on earth are they doing? It’s starting to get a little creepy...”

Dru was the first to answer, a wry smile forming as he glanced over to the furry pair, who seemed oblivious to anything but the chrono. “They’re counting down the seconds until Face is officially late to his own briefing.”

“20...19...18...”

Theran was the next to pipe up, an eyebrow raised as he turned to look at Dru. “What is the significance of Face being late?”

Void pulled himself out of the countdown, a wicked, gleeful grin pasted across his features. “If Face is late by even one second, he will have to honor the bet he has with Rrowv and I.”

“12...11...10..”

The Defel resumed the countdown as Rrowv now wrenched himself away with what sounded like a purr. “Rrowv and Void will get a new demolition toy that Face had previously vetoed. He has never cut it this close!”

By now, the entire briefing room was glued to the chrono and soon it wasn’t just Void and Rrowv who were counting down, but almost everyone in the room. Even if they had no idea what the “toy” was, everyone seemed drawn into the pair’s excitement at possibly winning a long standing bet.

“7...6...5...4...”

The pitch of counting had risen as they approached the final seconds, Void and Rrowv both starting to rise slightly from their chairs as their excitement became palpable.

3...2...1!...

As the chrono hit the 1 second mark the main door to the briefing room slid open and Face’s foot crossed the threshold, hitting the deck inside the room at the exact moment the chrono changed to display the assigned meeting time. A massive groan of good humored disappointment was released from the room’s occupants, with Void and Rrowv both throwing their arms in the air as they fell back into their chairs, their expressions instantly transformed from jubilant victory to heartbroken defeat.

Face glanced up as he entered, a grin forming as he quickly scanned the room to ensure everyone was present. “Sorry boys, no new toys today.”

Even with his lighthearted response to the en masse shift in the room’s demeanor regarding the lost bet, there was nothing Face could do to forestall the next shift in group emotion, because right as he cleared the entrance into the room his place in the doorway was filled by Bowman Gavin.

The room fell deathly silent.

Gavin had expected half a dozen weapons to be instantly drawn and aimed at him, but they never came. He bit the side of his tongue and waited a moment as Face made his way towards the control panel on the holoprojector. Gavin’s eyes quickly scanned the room, doing his best to avoid the stone-cold or shocked expressions on everyone’s faces, to find an open chair and spied one of the only open ones to be in front of Dru, close to where Face stood at the holoprojector. He bit his tongue lightly again and noiselessly made his way to the open seat nearest him, simultaneously putting himself as close to Face as possible and leaving an open-chair buffer between himself and the closest neighbor.

Halfway to the chair, a wave of dizziness suddenly washed over him, forcing him to pause and lean against the wall for support. Unconsciously, out of habit, he’d tried to reach out in the Force to read the room’s occupants. The empty void was still a fresh wound and it had thrown him off balance.

A low growl from Rrowv brought him back to his senses. Regaining his composure, he continued towards the chair, quietly easing himself into it. As he sat down, a glance to where Rrowv sat across the room from him showed that the growl had been cut off by the fact that Red had reached out, her hand placed over the Togorian’s large paw. As Gavin straightened against the back of his chair, Red withdrew her hand and lowered it to rest on her arm rest near Shadow’s hand, her gaze moving up to where Face stood at the front of the room. Shadow’s gaze was firmly glued to the podium where Face now stood, avoiding eye contact with him.

Face did not allow the silence to continue past the time it had taken for Gavin to take a seat, throat cleared slightly as he cued up a few items on his own datapad in preparation for the formal briefing.

“As I am certain everyone has recognized, Bowman Gavin has been assigned to join us as a member of this new team. I just want to state that this decision was not made lightly and was only approved after he was stripped of his connection to the Force. Gavin has assured me that he will conduct himself as expected of a member of this team and I know I that I can count on the rest of you to treat him appropriately as a teammate, despite history.” His face momentarily hardened; an expression that established this decision was final and not to be questioned.

The group was quiet as Face spoke and as he gave the words a moment to settle as a series of nods and quiet murmurs of affirmation that told Face that no one was going to make a scene or an issue of the topic.

“Excellent, then let’s me move onto the official part of this briefing. As I am sure you all know, by your very presence here, this is not a traditional team assignment.”

Before Face could continue, Rrowv’s furred paw shot up into the air, drawing a raised brow and sigh from Face as he dipped his head to acknowledge the gesture, against his better judgement.

“Rrowv’s assignment briefing labeled this as a ‘special squadron.’ Is Rrowv reading that correctly as ‘special ops’ special, or is it more like ‘special gold star sticker’ special?”

A chorus of muffled laughs came from the group, including more than just the Wraiths. Void had elbowed Rrowv almost immediately for the joking question, but it was good to see some levity returned to the situation. Corran leaned forward slightly from his spot, an amused expression directed to Dru.

“I think I suddenly understand why Face always looked a little hangdog after the Wraith briefings.”

Dru sent a resigned shrug back at the observation. “This is relatively tame...you have no idea how bad it got sometimes.”

Clearing his throat, Face sent a mildly annoyed look at Rrowv and gave everyone a moment to compose themselves before he continued. “Thank you Rrowv... Now that we got that out of our systems, let’s continue. As I was saying, this is a non traditional team and one of the first things I am sure everyone has noticed is the lack of rank and title being used. This reflects the fact that we are only loosely utilizing a military rank structure as part of our missions, although we all still hold rank in the official military records. For all intensive purposes we are considered equal, save for whomever has been selected as the specific lead during a mission. There is one exception though.” Face paused, gathering himself. “I am in charge. Whilst I know that some people here have shared my rank, or even exceeded it, this whole operation was my idea. This is a Special Operations Group, not Special Forces, and not Starfighter Command. This isn’t a democracy, the whole thing is on my head, and if any of us screw up, it’s my fault.”

Face let the statement hang in the air for a moment, and then smiled. “Of course, that doesn’t mean people can’t pick holes in my plans or briefings.”

“Good.” Corran smiled. “It’ll be fun being the guy heckling for a change.”

Face mimed a dagger to his heart. “You wound me, dear Corran.”

Corran rolled his eyes at Face’s theatricalities, and motioned for him to go on.

“Not to stress the point folks, but whilst I’m all for a free exchanging of ideas, plans and plots, if I make the call, it’s final. No second guessing, and no countermanding. Anyone have an issue with that, and we’ll turn around. No hard feelings.” His gaze swept over the assembled pilots, commandos and agents, ensuring that he caught the eye of everyone assembled. “Good.” He flicked the holoprojector to life. “Let’s get cracking.”


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:26 pm 
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Look, the rest of the briefing! And lots of people had input (sorry, my brain is fuzzy from lack of sleep so I am certain if I tried to list all the names, I would forget someone).

~~~~~~~~~~~`

As the holoprojector came to life, Face was ringed by a faint glow from the primary console where he stood.

“Firstly, introductions. Whilst I appreciate that most of us know each other, there are some fresh faces, and some outright new ones. So, I’ll start. My name is Garik Loran. But call me Face. I’m the CO, and captain of the Sacul. I’m in the top percentile of unarmed combat experts in what was the New Republic. I specialise in undercover operations, close quarters combat and small unit tactics and operations.” Face flicked a switch on the holoprojector controls, and the room lights dimmed significantly. A bright beam of light sprung out from the projector, spearing Corran.

“This is Corran Horn.” Face began, pausing for the laughter to subside, and Corran to squirm uncomfortably in his seat. “Until recently, Corran was a Jedi Master, although has since lost some of his skills in the Force. He is one of the best pilots the NR ever fielded. He is also a skilled detective, undercover operative and marksman. He’ll head up our Starfighter contingent and will be the flight leader of Red flight, who will be taking charge of the four x-wings we are carrying. When in this capacity, he’ll be Red One.”

The light blinked off, and then reappeared, this time bathing Tyria. “This is Tyria Antilles. She’s a full-fledged doctor, with special training in advanced trauma surgery. It will come as no surprise that she is the Chief Medical Officer for the operation. She is also a Jedi, and with that comes the extra skills inherent. She’s extremely proficient with her lightsaber, and is also a skilled pilot who will be joining Corran in Red Flight under the callsign Red Two. On the ground, she’s adept at silent movement as well as small arms fire.”

“Joining Tyria in Medbay we have some inorganics.” Face altered the lights, flashing them onto the next set of individuals. “Cutter is our 2-1B surgery droid, Huckleberry is our MD-5 medical droid, and Flit,our GH-7 medical analysis droid. Some of you will have worked with them before, and I’m very happy to have them join the team.”

The light flickered around once more to the next victim. “In the corner, filling the role of Red Three, we have our head chef Carithlee Lightfoot, also known as Shadow. Please do not anger her or we may all suffer from a variety of intestinal difficulties for several days. If you have special dietary requirements, she can see to those, as well as many special requests. Shadow also functions as a back-up medic if Tyria needs help or if she and the droids are otherwise occupied. Lastly, she is also an expert in intrusion and stealth, second only to Void.”

Face started to move on down the list before remembering on other important bit, “Oh, also, I would highly advise staying out of the kitchen unless invited. Having a chef is a privilege we don’t want to lose.”

Shadow gave him a brief nod at the courtesy reminder.

“And rounding out Red Flight we have Halley Rylin Kadorto as Red Four. He is one of our most experienced pilots and has extensive experience not only with Rogue Squadron but as the commanding officer of High Flight Squadron. Besides his piloting experience, Halley will serve as one of our communication experts while working from Sacul. He is also our in house slicer and will be assisting on the ground when we need a defter hand to either extract, insert, or alter data. He will be working closely with Dru in his slicing ventures, gathering and planting data as needed for our various operations.”

“Continuing onto the next flight...” The light flashed to Dru, who was somehow prepared and already striking a dramatic pose. After the chuckles died down, Face continued. “Dru Kargin is our Chief of Intelligence. He’ll be in charge of sifting through various data streams to work out the truth. When he gets a spare moment, Dru will try and recruit, and run undercover agents. When he’s not doing all of this, he is an exemplary pilot and skilled small arms marksman. He’ll head up Grey Flight, under the callsign Grey One. Grey flight will be flying either our four Eta-3 Actis Interceptors, or if more punch is required, the four Belbullab-24 Strike Bombers.

Or a mix thereof.” Face shot Dru and Corran a predatory smile. “I wouldn’t dream of telling the flyboys their business.

“Grey Two will be taken by Bowman Gavin,” Face continued as the beam of light swung around to rest on the pilot. Gavin shifted in his chair slightly and crossed his arms with no discernible change to the emotionless expression on his face. “Gavin has been our Squadron’s jack-of-all-trades but specializes in small arms combat and his piloting performance is among the best. He also specializes in what we like to refer to as insurrection operations, working with early infiltration teams to recee insertion areas and support local rebellion groups or stir up distractions as needed to help cover our own operations.” Face’s tone turned dry. “As some of you are aware, Mr. Gavin specializes in causing trouble.”

“Theran is one of our newer fliers and will be designated as Grey Three. He recently joined us from the Imperial Navy and is a talented pilot. He has experience with the older Eta-2 fighters, so any questions concerning similarities can be directed to him.” and in a show of team building towards the former Imperial, Face asked Theran if there was anything he would like to add. Theran thought for a moment before quietly providing. “I’m a decent shot, and should be able fly or drive most anything you give me. I am also a fair mechanic, so I should be able to cobble something together if need be.”

Red chimed in quickly at his comment, “Oooh, I’ve never had a lackey... I mean, auxiliary mechanic. I vote we keep him!” The last part of Theran’s comment and Red’s reply drew a laugh from the assembled group.

With that high note, Face finished Theran’s introduction. “As he said, he’s fair shot and will be rounding out the group as a Sniper and auxiliary mechanic.”

“And last but certainly not least we have Grey Four, Drake Norlem. Coming to us from High Flight squadron, he rounds out our roster of regular pilots.” Face couldn’t resist the urge to rib the young pilot, clearing his throat before continuing. “While he has done an admirable job emulating my own unarmed combat experiences...” Drake looked as if he was about to protest Face’s assessment, but Face continued before he could protest. “...he does boast one of the more extensive resumes of unarmed combat skills in this group. I would recommend anyone who is looking to expand their own unarmed experience look into training with him.” Face’s final recommendation seemed to diffuse any offense Drake had taken at the initial jibe regarding his similar combat background to Face.

Face flicked the holoprojector off for a moment, allowing light to gradually rise. “As you can see, we have eight highly skilled pilots, and a variety of craft for them to fly. We’re in the process of getting some flight simulators installed near the hangar bays, so everyone can keep sharp. However, the Sacul herself isn’t exactly helpless in a fight.”

“The Sacul is 107 meters long, and five decks tall. In addition to the 12 fighters, she carries a small scout/transport vessel that Dru has dubbed the Bantha’s Den. This will be for long range scouting missions, or covert ground insertion. It can carry three full squads of soliders, as well as Rrowv’s armoured speeder transport, simply referred to as The Ride.

She boasts 4 double heavy turbolasers, 8 quad laser turrets, 8 dual laser cannons, 10 proton torpedo launchers, with 16 torps in each, 12 concussion missile launchers with 10 in the tubes, as well as mine launchers, repeating blasters as point defence, and enough shielding to fight a much larger craft. Not only that, but a sensor stealth system, and Nightshroud technology, which is almost as good as a full cloaking device. She boasts a full sickbay, computer lab, forensics lab, astrogation lab, briefing room, conference room, armoury, slight simulators, 2 combat rated airlocks, 12 swoops, a couple of landspeeders, brig, ‘interview rooms’ for prisoners, a galley to make most luxury liners jealous, as well as a lounge/dining area. Whilst this is perhaps the most advanced ship in the quadrant, she’s also our home. We also have 4 ysalamiri, Lod, Fod, Tod and Dod.”

Face stole a quick look at Tyria. “We’ve done some testing, and they all now reside in their own cages in the center of the ship. Meaning that there is only a very small pocket where their Force empty bubble will project. This means that friendly Force users can still access their talents if required. However, if we bring the cages together, then their bubble exponentially increases, covering the entire ship. My thanks to Tyria for her invaluable help in arranging the set up.”

Suddenly, the room darkened once more. “And now, the intrepid people who can keep this craft going! First, we have Octavia Terah,” the light flicked onto the engineer to find that sometime between her comment to Theran and her introduction she had leaned forward intothe next row of seats and begun adjusting something in one of Spark’s panels. Her tinkering appeared to be related to a slight ticking motion Sparks had developed in one of her hands, the droid making no move to dislodge the engineer’s attention. Not looking up, she waved a hand at Face in a ‘go on, go on’ gesture as the beam illuminated her. “Better known as Red, she is the chief engineer here on the Sacul. If you break something and I do mean anything, she is the person you want to be friends with. She will be fabricating a lot of the tech we need for ops and is one of our vehicle specialists on the ground. She also has a growing resume of undercover, stealth, and combat experience. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get a bell collar on her yet and she is very small, so please don’t be startled if she gets the drop on you around the ship.”

Red cast a slightly bemused look at Face but seemed too focused on Sparks to retort, simply rolling her eyes at the bell collar comment.

Flicking the light down to Sparks, Red managed to finish fixing the droid’s twitch in time to close the access panel and get out of the spotlight. “Sparks is our resident LE-series repair droid and assists directly in the maintenance and repairs on board Sacul. She can also assist with piloting needs, dealing with bureaucratic transactions, and assisting with cover identities as an accompanying protocol droid.” Sparks seemed nonplussed by the attention, instead focusing on a system check of her hand’s functioning.

“Seriously, you introduce Sparks before me?”

The inserted comment by Sacul’s HRD drew the room’s attention, as well as the spotlight Face was using to highlight the members. “Calm down, we haven’t forgotten you. Everyone, this is Sacul.” Sacul’s HRD beamed a huge smile and waved vigorously, allowing Face to continue. “Specifically, this is Sacul’s Human Replica Droid, which increases her processing power when she is onboard with her, either independently or hardwired. Off ship, Sacul’s HRD is an independent entity and her experiences off ship will synchronize with Sacul proper once she returns. She is able to pass most medical scans without registering as inorganic and this gives her the ability to accompany us on missions where her processing abilities are beneficial.”

Swinging the light over to Voort, Face was finally able to continue without interruption from his subject. “This is Voort saBinring, better known as “Piggy.” He is our resident genius and has on occasion beat Sacul when it comes to computing complex equations. He assists with control of the Sacul and has primary control over astronavigation. We also benefit from his extensive experience with both starfighter and ground assault tactics and he is uniquely qualified in the martial and meditative forms of the Ymeri-Drosche, as well as several other forms of unarmed combat. When he’s not doing all of this, he’ll be assisting Dru in intelligence analysis.” Face shot Piggy am apologetic look. “Sorry pal, we’re all pulling triple duty on this one.”

Voort sighed, shrugging melodramatically. “It’s our lot in life to suffer.”

Face grinned, the changed the lights. “Next we have Rrowv, our resident Togorian and demolitions expert. If you need something to go boom or need to stop the boom, he is the one who can address those issues. He also provides our heavy firepower when the situation demands for less subtle methods. When we are need of someone big and scary for a body guard cover or simply as brute force, he will also take point as the...” Face paused, his eyes flicking to the Togorian, who was grinning broadly. “...the ‘certified terror in fur.’ He apparently has also been learning some more advanced computer skills or won a bet with one of our in house slicers.”

Rrowv made a less than discreet coughing noise into the back of his hand, a claw from his opposite paw pointing to where Halley sat. The colonel gave a melodramatic sigh, hands thrown up in a guilty gesture. “So much for not getting caught.” A soft round of chuckles passed through the room, although it settled before Face had to intervene.

The light progressed, although this time it appeared on an empty chair next to Rrowv. Face cleared his throat and a pair of glowing red eyes appeared in the chair just below the beam of light, allowing Face to adjust the light so that it highlighted the grinning snout of the relocated Defel. “This is G'thek Dras'kell, better known as Void. He is a Defel and as his little demonstration shows, a natural stealth expert. He will be serving as our primary infiltration expert and sniper and will assist Rrowv with demolitions. As I am sure is obvious, they are well suited to one another.”

“This is Brya Jaa'roo," the beam moved to center on the Lieutenant. "She will be serving as Sacul's primary pilot. Previously working as an agent for NR Intelligence, she specializes in undercover operations, small arms, and unarmed combat. Any missions in which she is not needed at the helm, she will assist as with infiltration and covert action.”

“We also have a Hapan Royal Guard.” Face smiled. Ta’a Chume Tenal Ka has lent us one of her agents from her investigative branch. Varen De’mar, or Ren, as he’s known. He specialises in surveillance, forensics and interrogation. He is also a skilled flyer and combatant as well as a decent slicer.”

Ren nodded solemnly and silently, his eyes flicking around, gauging the rest of the gathering as only true intelligence agents did.

“Lastly, I feel it important to introduce the members of Alpha squad, formerly from Firestorm, even though they are not currently present. They have been receeing intel for us and the first stage of our mission will be to rendezvous with them. When not shooting people on the ground, they’ll be manning the quads.” Face switched the holoprojector from a spotlight back to it’s normal function, pulling up a series of images depicting the various members of Firestorm and motioning first to the Nautolan.

“Here we have Hiskar Losa, more commonly known as Waves. Like most of Firestorm, he is a skilled marksman and commando. His most notable skill set comes from his natural racial abilities, which make him an aquatic assault and infiltration expert. He also has one of the uncanniest olfactory senses you will run across and is exceptionally sensitive to pheromone and emotional states around him, so I would suggest our ‘prettier’ members lay off the perfume and cologne.”

A few dramatic sighs and obviously overdone complaints followed Face’s ‘warning’, although for once the pace of the briefing wasn’t broken by the interruptions. The next image he focused on the holoprojector was of a striking blonde woman, her profile only slightly disrupted by a scar that ran up her right cheek under a barely perceivable cybernetic eye.

“Jodra Skyin, better known as Chance, is the next member who will be joining us from Firestorm. Besides rivalling my own good looks, she is an expert in urban assualt and another sniper we can count in our growing band of sharpshooters. I also feel it is my duty to advise you that she is one of the most skilled, or at least luckiest Sabaac players I have ever met, so challenge her at your own risk.”

The holoprojector once again shifted its focus on the group image, bringing a human male into prominence.

“Pleth Malkite, or Kite, is the heavy and exotic weapons specialist in this motley crew and I am sure you will all come to appreciate his skill with a flame-projector as you get a chance to work with him. Rrowv, no stealing his toys. If you ask nice, he might share.” Face gave the Togorian a chance to grumble as he pre-empted the question that never had a chance to leave the demolition experts lips. “Kite is also skilled at EV and space operations, in case we ever need someone to manually pop the hatch and cover our shebs.”

Face scrolled to the final individual in the group image, highlighting the distinctive form of a Wookie.

“And last but certainly not least we have Nikawaroo, who will not take offense if you call her Nika. Like most of Firestorm she is an expert in infiltration, specializing in jungle and forest environments. She is also exceptionally trained with most regular and heavy assault weapons. Besides serving as brute muscle, she is also a talented mechanic... and medic.” The looks around the room ranged from stifled amusement to bafflement, a smirk forming as Face finished. “Yes, medic. So, if she ever feels the need to remove one of your limbs from its socket, please be assured that she can put it back perfectly fine... pending she wasn’t serious about removing it in the first place.”

Face cleared the holoprojector. We’re also going to picking up Cubber and Zraix before we start our mission. They were poached from us to fix up an interdictor cruiser the main fleet came across. We’re taking them back. Cubber will be in charge of our starfighers, and Zraix in charge of the rest of our equipment.” He paused. “Folks, I know some of you are used to having more support staff than this, but that’s the way it has to be. You’ll all be pulling double, if not treble duty, maintaining your gear and starfighters, as well as any other job your talents have landed you.” He paused. “I make no apologies for this...” He grinned. “It was a volunteer mission after all!”

As the good natured groans and catcalls subsided, Face began pulling up schematics of a star system. “I know that ate up a certain amount of our briefing time and many of us already know one another, but I felt it was important to make formal introductions. Not all of us have worked as intimately with one another as we will be on future missions and it is important that none of us feel like strangers since our lives depend on this team functioning as a veteran unit in a very short period of time.”

The holoprojector finally resolved on a cluster of planets located in the Inner Rim, one of the five planets that composed the star system highlighted in a glowing blue.

“I would like to make my final introduction. This, is the planet Tirahnn and we are going to become very close friends with her on this mission.

Tirahann is a world on the Perlemian Trade Route. Some months ago, the planet fell into Imperial hands and we could not spare the resources to oppose them. Since that time, the Imperials have used their control of the world to disrupt trade and supply lines, and High Command has tasked us with dislodging the Imperials, and reopening the trade route.

This display shows the Imperial defence fleet around Tirahnn. As you can see, the planet is extremely well defended, and a direct attack against such a fleet would be costly.
Tirahnn's capital city possesses a planetary ion cannon that was used unsuccessfully in its defence when the Imps took control of the planet. We believe a small strike force can slip past the blockade, seize control of the planetary ion cannon, and use the cannon to launch a surprise attack against the fleet in orbit. With a large amount of the defence fleet disabled by the ion cannon, our fleet will jump into the system, engage the remaining defenders, and launch a full-scale ground assault to liberate the planet.”

Dru raised a hand. “How do we find the ion cannon?”

“Before we left, Alliance Intel pinpointed the location... at least, they think they did. I’ll transmit all the information to your datapads at the end of the briefing. Dru, your first job will be to confirm Intel’s analysis, so we’re not going in blind.”

Dru nodded tightly, his mind already going over the problem.

Void was the next to raise a hand, snout wrinkling slightly, “Do we have a plan in place already for the capture of the cannon, or will we be meeting closer to actual insertion to sort out those details once we have the rest of the team on board?”

Face’s mouth twisted in a wry grin. “Command were relatively vague on that one. Their exact comment was ‘That’s up you you.’ We’ll make an on-sight assessment of the situation, and plan accordingly. However, Intel has identified an Imperial Commander Zolghast as the man in charge of the ion cannons security. If we encounter him, we’re to capture him alive for... questioning.”

Varen had sat quietly through most of the briefing, but mention of Zolghast led him to clear his throat and slightly raise his hand, as if the motion was a bit foreign to him. It wasn’t until Face gave him a clear acknowledgement that he finally spoke. “What intel do we have on Zolghast currently?”

“He’s a paranoid man, who’s tried to keep hidden during the occupation.He issues commands from a remote location, but we don’t know much else. We think he’s the only one with the firing codes for the cannon. Whilst I’ve no doubt we can slice it, something tells me that time is going to be of the essence.”

“Do we have any intel on the Imperial resistance we can expect to encounter while searching for Zolghast and preparing to take the cannon?” Corran had leaned forward in his seat, intently studying the projected image of Tirahnn.

Unperturbed by Corran’s unfocused stare at the holoprojector, Face brought up a scrolling list that was earmarked for delivery to everyone’s datapads at the end of the briefing. “Our current intel places one Regiment planetside, with one of the four Batallions assigned to in the immediate vicinity of the ion cannon. We also know of at least three air support squadrons assigned planetside.”

Corran seemed satisfied with the answer, sitting back into his chair again. Face scanned the room in search of anymore questions before deactivating the holoprojector, triggering delivery of the briefing notes and specs to all of the team members’ datapads.

“We will being holding more detailed briefings once we have recovered the rest of our team members and our own intelligence specialists have gathered more data. But for now, consider this briefing adjourned. Dismissed.”

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:20 pm 
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Written by Gav and Red with input from Face
===================================


As the briefing concluded with Face’s official dismissal, many of the team members took their time filtering out through the briefing room’s main entrance. The bridge crew was the first to exit, leaving most of the others in quiet conversations around the room, although many of the other team mates had duties to return to around the ship after only short exchanges.

Gavin, not wanting to exit with the others, had moved to stand by Face as the room began to empty. His eyes locked on Sacul’s HRD as she approached where they were standing. He’d been carefully glancing her way after she’d been introduced to the group; the resemblance to her hologram was... incredible. It was strange to see Sacul’s hologram in a physical body... an almost human body.

Sacul’s HRD slowed to a stop in front of the pair, her head inclined a moment towards Face in acknowledgment. “Sir.”

Face had just started to return the gesture when Sacul turned to Gavin, offering the same incline of her head with a “Lieutenant.”

Just before she pulled back and hooked a hard punch into his jaw.

Her fist knocked Gavin’s head to the right as he tumbled sideways into the wall, impacting hard head-first with an audible thud. His vision swam as his knees buckled and he sank to the floor.

The conversation around the briefing room abruptly died off as the remaining team members were all suddenly watching where Face, Gavin and Sacul stood at the front of the room. Looking down at where Gavin was now slumped on the floor, Sacul made a quiet “Huh” noise and without even acknowledging a faint smile from Face, left the briefing room. Looking around the room, Face cleared his throat as he bent over to give Gavin a hand up.

“Alright, don’t we all have work to do?”

The vast majority of the remaining individuals in the room cleared out at the prompting, although Corran and Tyria seemed to be finishing a deep conversation.

“You alright?”

“Yeah, I deserved that...” Gavin winced his eye shut as he covered the left side of his face in one hand and extended the other to accept the help off the floor.

Face took a moment to brush Gavin off, inspecting his jaw once he was back on his feet. Corran and Tyria finally broke off their conversation, with Tyria splitting off to join the pair and cast an appraising look at Gavin’s jaw.

“Well, it’s not broken...” she said, trying her best to stifle a smirk. “Good luck with that.”

“You should be thankful a punch to the face was all she did,” Face said as Tyria exited the room.

Gavin simply moaned as moved his jaw back and forth gingerly, feeling the sting of the impact. As the moment of dizziness passed and his eye managed to focus again, he found that Brya, the last person in the briefing room other than Face and himself, had moved to stand before them where Tyria had been a moment before.

Gavin's felt his face warm as he took in a face he hadn't seen in years.

"Brya..." he said softly. He had failed to notice her before, having kept his gaze from wandering the room during the briefing, but once Face had spoken her name in the introductions, his head had shot up momentarily in recognition. It had been a very long time. The pain in his face seemed to fade. "I never thought I'd see you ag---"

His words were suddenly cut off as Brya took two fistfuls of his flight-suit and pulled him into a deeply passionate kiss.

Face stared on with a mixture of surprise and shock, completely at a loss for his own words.

Finally releasing him, Brya took a step back.

Gavin was also in a bit a shock, his face moderately flushed as the kiss ended. He opened his mouth to say something but not before Brya pulled back her fist and let fly with a right hook to his jaw that spun him a half turn and sent him again into the briefing room wall.

"Hello again, Lover..." she growled down at him. She turned and nodded an acknowledgment at Face. Face, mostly recovered, returned the nod as she turned and exited the room.

“Oh, for Fierfeks’s sake...” Face moved to where Gavin had fallen and stooped down again, this time bodily lifting Gavin off the floor instead of offering a hand and moved him to the closet row of seats. “I’m going to have to put out a ban on inter-team violence at the rate this is going.”

Gavin, his balance completely shot, sank into one of the chairs and held his face again. This time both eyes winced tight in pain.

“Care to explain?” Face asked, arching an eyebrow. “I can’t wait to hear this story.”

“Things just got very very complicated...”


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:50 pm 
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Immediately after the briefing
======================

“Brya, wait!” Gavin called out, leaning against the doorway to the briefing room for support.

Brya stood at the doors to the turbolift, waiting for lift to arrive. The scowl she shot him as she turned her head in his direction could have melted paint off the bulkheads. “Give me one good reason.”

Gavin pushed forward, using the corridor wall for support as he closed the distance between them. “‘Cause it would be rude to run away?”

The doors to the lift slip open but Brya ignored them, her eyebrows knitted together and her fist clenched as the rest of her body turned to him. “RUDE?! After all these years, Bowman Gavin, don’t you dare talk to me around rude!”

“Well,” he said, finally reaching her, but stayed leaning against the wall with his forearm. “I had to say something to keep you standing here.

“You kriffing... ” Her eyes flashed with anger as she pulled back her hand to slap him across the face. She stopped as she realized Face’s form had suddenly filled the briefing room doorway. He stood with hands clasped behind his back and a disapproving glower on his face.

Instead of slapping Gavin, she grabbed him by the front of his suit and jerked him forward into the turbolift car. Throwing Face a quick salute followed by a crisp, ‘Sir!’, she turned and entered the car herself. Waiting for the lift doors to close, she slapped the halt on car’s control panel and gave Gavin a glower of her own.

“Why did you stop writing?!” she demanded. “I waited for months to hear from you after you said you were leaving Rogue Squadron! I had no idea what happened after you disappeared! Nothing by holocomm, no transmissions! Nothing!”

Gavin felt himself uncontrollably trying to shrink away from her, held in place only by the curved wall of the lift car. For a moment, he longed for the safety of the Dream’s brig.

“In all that time, not even a single intel report that mentioned your name!” Despite the limited space in the car, she had begun to pace back and forth, all the while keeping her glare on him. “And then, after almost five years, the first bit of news I hear about you as we went in to take down that warlord, Grant, was not that you were alive, not that you were safe somewhere, oh no... but that you had DEFECTED?!”

The last word rumbled through the car’s walls.

----------

Face stood with his back to the turbolift’s doors, taking slow methodical breaths as he did his best not to focus on the muffled shouting in the car behind him. As much as he had done to protect Gavin from the wrath of the Jedi and the Military, he wasn’t about to step in and protect him this time. Gavin would have to face this one without intervention.

Void appeared from around a corner, approaching with a datapad in hand. Upon hearing the muffled voice, then glancing at the doors and back at his CO’s cautionary expression, he pulled the pad to his chest, turned around, and disappeared back the way he came.

----------

“DEFECTED?!!” she shouted again. “I read your file, Gavin! All of it! What in all the Sithin’ galaxy would possess you to do what you did?!?”

The fortress on Aduba III, Grant’s flagship, Dathomir, the tribunal... he thought, unable to look her in the eyes anymore. Anywhere would be better than here right now.

“Well?!” she demanded. She’d stopped pacing and loomed over him with her fists on her hips.

“I ‘defected’,” he said, summoning what little nerve he had left. “In order to save someone’s life.”

“In order to...” her words trailed off as her anger bubbled up once more. Growling, she slapped the door controls, opening the lift doors again. Grabbing him by the front of his suit, she pulled and threw him out of the lift, narrowly missing Face as Face quickly sidestepped to avoid the flying pilot.

“Rest up, fly-boy!” she shouted, pointing angrily at him. “Combat practice room! 2300 hours!”

She slapped the controls again, separating her from the two men and was carried away.

Face glanced at the lift doors and then over at Gavin, who had, this time, managed not to collapse in a tangled heap.

“VERY complicated...” Gavin grunted, letting himself slide down the wall to the awaiting floor.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:27 pm 
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Written by Red and Gavin

1 Hour after the Briefing
======================


“Sacul...” Gavin said quietly from the confines of his quarters. He dropped the now warm gel-pack in the sink and moved his jaw around gingerly. “Where are you?”

“I’m all around you, Lieutenant Gavin,” Sacul answered matter of factly.

“... no, your body.”

There was a pause. He guessed it was more due to speculating his motives than a processing delay. “I am currently in the cargo bay.”

Pushing his head to rotate to the left, he winced as the vertebrae in his neck cracked back into position. “Will you be there long?”

“Is there something you require, Lieutenant?”

Gavin sighed as he pushed the door controls. “I’ll be down shortly.”

----------

The cargo bay had been packed beyond capacity while Sacul was still docked with the Rebel’s Dream, leaving only narrow alleyways to navigate between the bulkhead-tight stacks of crates, machinery, vehicles, and other supplies that the team would need for their mission. Sacul’s HRD was fairly far back in one of the narrow alleys that allowed access within the stacks of crates, for all appearances checking the contents of a smaller box that been removed from higher up in the stack.

Bending over to retrieve an object coated in a clingy, neon-blue wrapping material from the box, Sacul had just begun to unwind the lengthy covering as Gavin entered the storage area. She didn’t look up from her task as he made his way down the narrow space towards her, but was obviously aware of his arrival.

“What did you require, Lieutenant?”

Gavin stopped about three meters from her, taking a moment to survey the storage area and arch an eyebrow at the sheer number of crates in the bay. He brought his eyes back around to settle on her. Really going to take some getting used to.

“I have to say, you pack quite the punch,” he said, trying to ease a bit of the tension. “Not sure if your fist or your main cannons hit harder.”

Sacul shot the quickest of glances up at Gavin as she reached the end of the blue wrapping, releasing it to fall in a pool at her feet. It was obvious she was feigning indifference to the comment, a scoffing noise that she could only have learned from Kai made as she inspected the now unwrapped DH-17 blaster pistol in her hands.

“We could undertake a series of calibration tests to determine which of the two does in fact ‘pack the bigger punch’ if you are interested, since you already have one of the necessary datapoints we would need.” An inquiring, almost hopeful smile formed as Sacul looked up from the blaster to Gavin. “Was that in fact what you required, Lieutenant?”

“As much fun as standing in front of your primary turbolaser sounds, I’m sure we could find some fresh...” he paused. “Imperial... candidates with fresh perspectives to poll.”

“Oh...” Sacul’s HRD sighed in a heartbroken manner, fingers tapping on the blaster that she still held. “That’s disappointing; it would have been for science.” Her expression quickly returned to its earlier expression before she transferred the blaster to one hand, resuming her digging in the crate with the free hand. “Plus, it seems like a fair expectation, seeing as you blasted a massive hole in Me once.” Eyes flicked up to him from crate briefly, no attempt made to hide the scowl that formed as she leveled the accusation in his direction.

The accusation hung in the air for several seconds.

“It would. Wouldn’t it?” he answered back. His gaze down and to the right, staring off into nothing as he walked closer, stopping just past her. “I’m sorry, Sacul.”

Sacul straightened as Gavin approached her, a blaster power pack now retrieve from the crate with her free hand. She raised an eyebrow at the apology, before slamming the power pack into the DH-17 and checking over the readings as it calibrated to the blaster.

“Sorry?... you hack my systems, seriously injure my engineer, blast a hole in my hangar doors, and you say sorry?!” What had started as a level-headed reply quickly revealed that Sacul had been sitting on certain comments for some time. Stalking over, the blaster remained pointed at the ground, but the sound of the droid’s fingers tightening on the handle was audible.

“You hurt everyone on this team in someway or another. Do you know how many nights I heard Shadow crying in her sleep? I’m surprised you haven’t been shot yet by at least one of them... heck, Red could even blame you for her career nearly falling apart due to the Twin Moons incident and her court martial right after you ran off. And you say ‘Sorry’?”

By the time she finished Sacul had rounded Gavin and was standing nose to nose with him, eyes boring into his as if looking for something she couldn’t figure out. What she found was the hint of growing moisture around his eyes as he stared back. His demeanor presented no sign of defense.

“Everything has to start somewhere,” he said quietly, focusing his eyes to stare as deep as he could into her artificial eyes.

Sacul seemed torn for a moment, before her shoulders finally slumped and she stalked over to the crate, dumping the blaster unceremoniously back inside. “I suppose it is all you really could say if you’re actually taking responsibility on some level. I’d say sorry for punching you after the the briefing earlier, but I’m not.”

Picking up the blue wrapping she had dumped on the floor, Sacul started to glance back over to where she had left Gavin standing. “By the way, you’re heading into a dead end, this pathway--”

She was cut off abruptly as Gavin noiselessly covered the short distance between them and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a tight hug.

Sacul stiffened as Gavin was suddenly next to and then wrapped around her, a slightly panicked expression forming as she seemed unable to figure out what to do with her arms; leaving them tightly against her sides for a moment before slowly raising the hand that was not full of wrapping and delivered an awkward pat to Gavin’s shoulder.

“There are no words to convey my regret at doing what I did to your systems, Sacul,” he said quietly. “‘Sorry’ is a poor springboard, but unfortunately, it’s the only place most of us can start from. You may never trust me again and frankly I wouldn’t trust anyone who’d blown a hole in me either... but know from what clumsy words I have that I’ve always regretted hurting you and destroying what friendship we had.”

He let her go and took a large step back, holding his hands behind his back, and reassuming his shielded demeanor. “That... is what I required.”

“Oh...”

Sacul had only relaxed slightly as Gavin spoke through the hug, but by the time he pulled away from her, she seemed far less likely to enact some form of physical retaliation. Brushing in her clothes in a habit that was half hearted, she gave a small nod after a moment. “I will need to process that a bit more thoroughly...”

Gavin bowed his head slightly after a moment and turned back towards the path out.

“Wrong power pack,” he said, disappearing into the mass of cargo crates.

Sacul had begun to untangle the blue wrapping material, but Gavin’s comment drew a confused look as she leaned over and extracted the blaster. Straightening up, she glanced to the thin gap on top of the crates behind her, a sigh escaping as she confirmed her error with the power pack.

“Everyone seems far more intimidated when Face does that with a blaster during a conversation.”

“That’s because Face is subtle, Sacul. You were being as subtle as a Worrt in a dress.”

Her head appearing in the narrow space at the top of the crates, Red easily slid out of the gap where she had been concealed and scaled her way down to the deck using the barely present edges of the stacked crates to reach where the Sacul was standing. Taking the blaster from Sacul she carefully extracted the power pack, ensuring it hadn’t been damaged by being forced into the wrong model of weapon before handing them back to Sacul and assessing the mess the HRD had made on the floor.

“You know, I didn’t ask you to unpack that crate when we came down here. I just needed your help moving it so I have better access to the top crates. I also wish you had told me Gavin was coming down here, since I don’t think that was a conversation meant for me to overhear.”

Sacul took the blaster back and began to rewrap it meticulously. “Gavin did not hear you, if that is what you are concerned about. You were incredibly silent, I did not register a single auditory alert that would have revealed your presence during my exchange with him.”

Red sighed, her head turning to look to where Gavin had just departed. “Well, I’ve been practicing. Strangely, my unintended spying did confirm that this whole Force severance thing is real... he would have known I was there if he still had that connection. He most certainly would not have said any of those things if he knew I was here, let alone hug you when I could see it.”

Sacul nodded, a slight shake of her shoulders as if she was remembering the feeling of the hug. “It was an... odd... sensation. I do not have memory files of him hugging anyone other than Shadow since I first met him. It shouldn't be a variable in my emotional processes towards him, but now I feel less like punching him a second time."

Red couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at Sacul’s assessment of the hug, a faint shrug given in response. “Hugs are weird like that, Sacul. One of the side effects they have is making us feel less punchy towards others, especially if they are sincere.”

Red paused a moment, rolling an idea around in her head. “Gavin never hugs just anyone, Sacul. The fact that he hugged you means that you do mean something to him.”

Her words recoiled back into her own mind, And now I get to reconcile the idea of Gavin blasting a hole in my ship with him caring for her... this whole situation just keeps getting more complicated.

Sacul gave a nod at the confirmation to Red’s assessment, beginning to repack the rest of the crate contents she had disturbed in order to retrieve the blaster. “So what are you going to do, Red?”

Red sighed, turning to inspect Sacul’s packing progress as she seemed to mull over what she had just watched and heard.

“I don’t know yet. Can you make sure to get that crate back to the correct section?”

“Of course.” Sacul watched as Red left the storage area, a slightly concerned expression forming as she watched Red head towards the exit. She couldn’t quite place it, but it seemed to the Sacul as if Red was more conflicted than mad about Gavin’s return. “Red?”

The engineer paused, turning to look over her shoulder. “Something wrong, Sacul?”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Sacul took advantage of the extra time to reanalyze Red’s expression, still coming up with an incomplete assessment.

Red gave what appeared to be a sincere but strained smile, nodding once to the droid. “It is just bringing up a lot of memories. Just give me a day or so to sort it out. I promise I won’t stew on anything.”

Sacul seemed satisfied with Red’s reply, giving a wave as the engineer headed to her next round of maintenance checks. She continued repacking her failed crate of intimidation, stopping momentarily to shake her shoulders again as she devoted some of her processing power to the concept of hugs.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:57 pm 
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The evening of the Briefing
======================


“You’re late.”

The door to the combat training room slid shut behind him as Gavin stopped just inside the doorway. Throwing a cursory glance around the room, he spied the lone occupant in the center of the floor. Brya sat cross-legged with her back to him. Her brown, shoulder-length hair was pulled back into a short ponytail but a few strands had escaped and were stuck to the back of her sweat-moistened neck. A pair of black, padded training staves rested across her lap.

“I was waiting for the painkillers to kick in,” he admitted.

Brya snorted an indignant ‘hmph’.

Gavin caught himself as he felt the urge to let his senses flow over her. The last thing he wanted to do was to brush up against that chilling void again. Besides, he was already aware of everything the Force would’ve revealed.

She picked up one of the weapons from her lap and tossed it over her shoulder in his direction.

“It’s been a long time since we've done this together,” he said, catching the staff in one hand as he watched her rise from the floor and turn to face him. She wore the standard training gear, a grey tank top for the women, grey sleeveless shirt for the men, and black sweatpants. By way her clothes clung to her, he could tell she’d been here a while.

He frowned slightly, glancing over at the tall stack of floor pads against the wall. “No padding?”

“Not this time,” she said with a predatory glint in her eyes.

“Rules?”

Brya twirled the staff around with fluidity and brought it to a halt in the crook of her elbow behind her. “None.”

Gavin sighed. This is was going to hurt.

----------

Perspiration ran down both of their faces in large beads as each leapt back from the other. Both were breathing heavily, drenched in sweat. Multiple hits had been landed, but neither had succeeded in knocking the other to the floor. They’d been at it for over an hour without so much as a word between them.

Gavin took the opportunity to reach down and pull the legs of his pants up over his knees, allowing some of the trapped heat to bleed off him. After a moment, he let the pant legs fall again, straightened, and leaned on the staff. “You’ve improved.”

Brya kept her eyes on him, staff at the ready, while she took several deep, controlled breaths. “You’ve gotten sloppy.”

“It happens when you’ve been fighting with a lightsaber instead of a staff for a while,” he countered.

“Is that where those ridiculous mish-mashed forms you’ve been using are coming from?”

He noticed the dark bruise forming on her arm just below the shoulder. “Seems to be working well enough.”

She scowled and began to circle around him, indicating that the break was over.

Gavin brought his staff around and felt a muscle in his back twinge. The painkillers were wearing off and he’d apparently aggravated a muscle not yet recovered from his ordeal during the trial. He noticed that Brya had seen him wince and it had brought the glint back to her eye. He sighed to himself. He had no choice but to go on the defensive.

Brya suddenly lunged forward, whirling the staff around and bringing it down hard in an overhead strike. Gavin blocked it, momentarily surprised at how much force she had put into the blow given how long they’d been sparring. Her staff started to come up from below towards his groin, but he blocked easily. She pressed him backwards with a rapid succession of similar attacks before he swept the edge of her weapon away with a swing at her feet. She cartwheeled, pushing off the floor with her hand and landed in a crouch.

Gavin spun his own weapon around in a threatening display but didn’t attack. There was a brief lapse in her defenses as she landed, but he let it pass. He had fallen back to an old tactic: let your opponent wear themselves out and then take the offensive when they are tired.

She lunged forward again, attacking each quadrant quickly and randomly, pushing him back further. Feigning a jab at his foot, she brought the other end of the staff down hard at this head again. He caught it in a cross block just in time.

“Com’on Gavin,” Brya growled. “Where’s that ferocity you used to fight with all those years ago?”

He stared into her eyes as the weight on his staff forced him to a knee. Blinking a droplet of sweat out of his eyes, fell backwards, letting her weight carry her forward. Sliding his leg from behind, he planted his foot against her sternum and launched her. He’d expected her to be caught off guard and land hard, but his hope turned to disappointment as he watched her tuck into the roll and recover effortlessly. On his knee again, he hung his head as the sweat dripped from his nose in large drops.

“You’re a disgrace.”

He looked up. “What?”

“I said ‘you’re a disgrace’.” She was also down on her knee, weapon hand to the floor, still gripping the staff while her other rubbed her sternum. “Any kriffing idiot who abandons their allegiances and their friends for selfish gain is a disgrace.”

Gavin felt the flame of his own anger flicker to life. He took several controlled breaths, smothering the flame before it had the chance to burn. “I would’ve done the same for you if the situation was different.”

“I’d have killed you before you’d gotten to the hangar.” The frozen edge to her voice cut like a blade.

“I suppose you were going to do to Lightfoot what you did to me,” Brya continued, rising to her feet and bringing the staff around again. “Act all noble in the face of great difficulty and then bail in the name of self-sacrifice.” She spat in disgust.

The flame grew. “That’s not what happened, Brya, and you know it.”

Brya spread her arms open, feigning confusion. “Then how about you explain it to me!”

Gavin hefted himself to his feet, feeling the muscles in his back protest. “Graduation day. You'd been hand-picked by Cracken for Intelligence and I was headed for Rogue Squadron. You were so excited that you’d be working that high up so soon after graduation... a relationship across light-years would never have lasted.”

“YOU PROPOSED!!” she roared.

“What was I supposed to do?!” he shouted back. The flame grew again. “Make you choose between me and the career of your dreams; an opportunity that would never come again?!”

“Maybe I wanted that choice to make!!”

Gavin straightened, setting his shoulders back. “If I recall, you agreed to call it off; that a Light-Year Marriage would’ve been too much a strain!”

“You didn’t come to me with a choice!” she growled, pointing a finger at him. “You’d already decided, you made the decision for both of us. I didn't fight you because I knew your mind was already made up. I loved you too much to add fuel to the fire I could see you already were fighting with, to risk having you think I made things worse!"

“You'd have married a man you wouldn’t see for months on end at best, and that’s if we were lucky enough to be on leave at the same time!?”

“Well I guess we’ll never know now, will we!?’

Gavin fell silent. There was nothing remotely helpful he could say.

“Did you do the same thing to Lightfoot!? Propose to her and then decide the outcome without giving her a say in the matter!?”

“NO, I DIDN’T!!” he shouted. The flame roared to life as he fell into a combat-ready stance.

“I read the report, you bailed on her too,” she shot back, swinging the staff around and leveling the padded end towards him. “But at least you spared her the opportunity to refuse you for the coward you are!”

The flame exploded. Gavin shot forward and leapt into the air, bringing his staff high in a finishing attack.

The staff smashed hard against the floor.

In a blur of speed he’d only seen among the Jedi, Brya had dove clear to the side at the last second. Hearing a Kiai from behind, he cried out in pain as Brya’s staff slammed into his back, the weapon’s padding doing little to absorb the impact. Gavin pushed the pain aside and spun around to strike at his assailant. The end of Brya’s staff caught his, knocking it up and away, and struck hard into his stomach. Gavin’s eyes went wide as he felt the wind knocked out of him. He looked up through tears in time to watch Brya drop her weapon and then spin around to land a Reverse Hook Kick to his chest.

The kick sent Gavin flying back where he landed hard against the floor. His staff clattered as it bounced far out of reach. Gavin watched the recessed lighting in the ceiling wobble around as he felt Brya’s weight, straddling his chest, to pin him to the floor.

“Every damn time...” she whispered. “You fall for that every damn time...”

He squeezed his eyes closed, expecting another punch or a backhand.

Gavin felt a drop of water hit him in the face. He waited. Another drop hit him on the cheek. He opened his eyes. The lights had finally stopped moving. Brya was staring down at him, tears mixing with her perspiration as they ran down her cheeks. Her shoulders trembled, the anger in her face gone.

Clenching her teeth, she pulled back a fist.

He squeezed his eyes closed again.

Her fist struck the floor centimeters from his right ear. A moment later, she had fallen against him, sobbing into his sweat drenched shirt.

“I thought you were dead,” she cried as Gavin slowly opened his eyes. “As far as anyone knew, you were still aboard the Bloodlust when it exploded! I thought you’d died and I’d never see you again!”

“Brya...” he whispered softly. He rested a hand on her back, stroking her gently as she shifted her weight to stretch out and lie on top of him.

He felt something jab him in the chest as she rested her weight against him. His hand came up to her neck and felt something he hadn’t noticed before. A thin silver-plated durasteel chain. He pulled gently, dislodging whatever it was that had been poking him. With both hands he rotated the chain around her neck until he saw what it was attached to. A small silver ring pulled out from beneath her shirt and lifted into the light

Gavin froze.

“I knew what you were doing when you broke off the engagement,” she said through her tears. “I knew you were only thinking of me in your horribly broken way; that you hadn’t stopped loving me. So I waited for you... I waited for you to come back and admit you’d made a mistake... come back and we'd make it work... but you never came back!”

Her tears flowed anew as she wrapped her arms around him. “Why didn’t you even contact me?!”

Gavin swallowed hard as he brushed his fingers against the engagement ring he’d given her the day before graduation. Letting the ring fall, he slowly wrapped his arms around her trembling form. “I’m so sorry, Brya...”

“I’ve missed you for so long...”

Gavin gently stroked the back of her head as he held her tightly. “I’ve missed you too.”


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:30 pm 
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Shortly after
============

Brya nestled deeper as the arm around her pulled her closer. She let her head rest against his shoulder and closed her eyes. For the first time since she’d heard that Gavin had been taken into custody aboard the Rebel Dream, she felt at ease.

After what had seemed mere minutes but had been more in the neighborhood of forty-five, the two of them had limped their way out of the combat training room to find a more secluded and comfortable location. Gavin had been disappointed to discover that his old favorite location, the observation area in the hallway behind the brig on deck two, had been done away with during the Sacul's refit, so he had settled for the next best location: the deck one conference room with the large forward-facing viewport near the stern of the ship.

The both lay resting beneath the large conference table, leaning against its single supporting column, watching the hyperspace tunnel race past them.

From beneath the thermal blanket, borrowed from supply closet on deck three, she felt the arm around her move again and his fingers brush against the ring hanging around her neck.

“You’ve really kept it all this time?” Gavin asked.

She nodded. “Always.”

“You never thought about giving up and looking for someone else?”

“There were a few who tried, but they didn’t quite measure up,” she admitted, yawning. “Besides, it seems like the galaxy has been one mess after another since graduation; who had time for dating?”

“Doesn’t that more or less confirm what I said before?” he grunted.

“Are you trying to equate the difficulty in trying to find a decent person and hang on to them with the those of two married people?”

“That’s not an argument I’ll win, so no...” he resigned.

“It wasn’t so bad at the beginning,” she continued. “but then we had the trouble with Councilor Brom, and then Grant, and then the plague and the Imperial resurgence... everyone in Intel had their hands full.”

“Yeah...” she heard him mutter as the ring fell and reached the end of its chain. “The plague...”

“Certainly couldn’t have been easy for you,” she said, lazily opening her eyes to watch the tunnel’s violet-white colors. “Having to run from world to world as either the plague broke out or they surrendered to Imperial rule. You still have that bounty on your head, right?”

“You trying running around the galaxy when you have the Imperials, the New Republic, the Jedi, and a half-dozen pirate groups trying to hunt you down and see how easy it is.”

Brya slid an arm around behind him and lightly jabbed a finger in his side where she knew a bruise was. He flinched at the pressure. “You’re still in a lot of trouble in my book.”

He grabbed her hand and placed it against his waist, keeping his hand over hers lest she get the idea to jab at him again. Brya smiled to herself and didn’t resist the relocation.

She felt him rest his head on top of her and his hand caress her side.

“You really did read every file on me, didn’t you?”

“Intel,” she simply replied.

“I want your file...”

She smiled again. “Classified.”

“Damn it...”

There was a break in the conversation as they both settled deeper against the table’s column. Finally, Gavin broke the silence.

“So what’re we going to do now?”

Lifting her head, she rose up high enough to rest her forehead against his and gently nuzzle his nose. He returned the act. After a moment, she pulled back, hearing his quiet, disappointed sigh, and rested her weight on her arm. “You have other business before you can even start thinking of trying to get me back, gavi-eswo.”

She watched his eyes fall away as he swallowed. He didn’t speak.

“I know what she’s feeling right now; what you did to her by leaving like that. Even if you and I somehow ended up getting back together, it wouldn’t be fair to me and more importantly, it wouldn’t be fair to her to throw her aside like she didn’t matter.” Brya hadn’t intended it to sound like back-handed advice and she frowned a bit as she realized how it may have gone across.

“There’s no way she’s going to take me back,” he grimaced. “Not after all that.”

“That’s no excuse for not doing the right thing and figure out where the two of you stand with each other, however the result. Besides,” she said, running her hand through his hair, now coarse from sweat. “You have enough things haunting your mind as it is.”

“You really did read everything, didn’t you?”

She smiled softly at him. “Intel.”

“I want your file...

She kissed him on the nose. “Classified.”

“Damn it...”


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:25 pm 
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Takes place the night AFTER the Gav/Brya training session.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Octavia was having a good dream.

Good dreams were not rare for the engineer. In fact, it had been a long time since she had anything but good or at the least non-memorable dreams. She had learned her lesson after the Twin Moons incident and no matter how hard, hectic or dangerous her schedule became there was always time to meditate, relax, and maintain her mental health, processing the difficult things she faced on a regular basis. Hidden away in her hammock and surrounded by the comfortable sounds of Sacul’s engine room where she kept a private space, Octavia found herself fortunate to find restful sleep even on nights when she was only afforded a few hours.

But this was a Very good dream.

Especially considering how crazy things had been since the mission briefing a mere day ago.

~~~~~~~

Red was in an advanced training room, back pressed against the corner of a pillar as she slowed her breathing and focused on the soft noises that rang throughout the room. She was carrying a KX-60 Blaster Rifle fitted with a training laser target, a comm headset firmly fitted over one ear with an attached tactical screen suspended in front of the neighboring eye.

The current scenario was an urban guerrilla encounter - infiltration and close combat as she attempted to take out a specific target. All around her were simulated street sounds: animals rummaging in garbage, speeders in the air above her, yells from neighboring buildings. It was not a natural environment for her, open deserts and small scale settlements had exclusively made up her world for the first decade and a half of her life. Eyes closing for the briefest of seconds, she took a slow, deep breath and tried to tune out all the extraneous data in order to get a read on her opponent.

He was good. Very good. But Red didn’t care. She was up to the challenge, especially right now.

The faintest whine was pulled from the extraneous noise. The whine of a VES-700 Pulse rifle being fired.

Eyes snapping open, Red exhaled sharply and dove into a roll away from the pillar. A split second later the stonework shattered, a large chunk of the pillar was removed as the ion energy discharged from the pulse rifle struck and denoted. It might have been a simulated shot, but the force of the training pulse still pushed her red braid of hair over one shoulder. Coming out of the roll, she came to a crouch behind the edge of a low wall. Quickly rising to a kneeling position the KX-60 was already up and tucked into her shoulder, allowing her to let off a series of shots just to the right of where the pulse rifle shot had come from. Her tactical screen highlighted the armored figure she was tracking with her shots, a faint grin forming on her face. She had compensated for the distance the target should have covered after his first shot, but already he was an extra pace ahead of her expectation.

Man, he was good.

Rifle returned to her side, she took off pursuing the figure and attempted to close the distance between them. Well placed shots began to stream back in her direction, quick snaps from a DC-17 hand blaster. Thankfully she was able to weave and dodge in a practiced manner that kept him from zeroing in on her accurately as they ran. An alert suddenly sounded in her ear and she was forced to dive again, clearing her previous spot just before another ion discharge hit.

He had an increased number of shots per power pack.

She should have anticipated that he would have modified his rifle to increase his number shots. Coming up from the messy dive, her senses screamed as she realized she was in a wide open space of an abandoned lot - and she was no longer alone. Pivoting on a knee, she barely raised the rifle from her side in time to block the downward vibroblade strike that had been directed at her briefly exposed neck, hands bracing on either end of the weapon to absorb the shock of the blade.

Red used the rifle to redirect the next blow that came aimed at her head off to the side, sliding the rifle into her left hand as the viroblade connected and slamming the rifle to the ground on her left. She used the momentum of the redirection to push back up onto her feet, right hand pulling her own vibroblade from its sheath and directing it at a weak point in her opponent’s Mandalorian armor.

He easily deflect her first blade strike and forced her into a series of attacks and counter attacks, their feet moving them in constantly changing semi circles around the open lot. Keeping her breathing steady Red forced herself to focus on the flow and direction of his attacks, avoiding the urge to counter strength with direct strength. The concept was from an internal martial form that was roughly translated to ‘Push Hands’ in basic. A fighter flowed with the movement offered by their opponent, waiting for the exact moment they made even the slightest over commitment of their weight and attack, immediately using their own momentum against them. The key was to avoid being grappled while you waited for that moment, which required constant motion of the hands and wrists around the opponent’s as they attacked.

“Do not offer resistance, flow with the movement and wait for the commitment.”

Red had practiced and utilized the martial form before, but this was the hardest pressed and fastest she had ever had to apply it. Trying to use her shorter height to force her opponent into committing his weight downward, she found he followed her every dodge and duck, his speed pushing her to the limit of her experience.

As the engagement drew out, Red forced herself to ignore the stinging sweat in her eyes and sense of fatigue that was developing. Her opponent gave a sudden laugh as she sidestepped another strike from his vibroblade, her body pressing momentarily against his as she slid past and attempted to get behind him. The tell tale lack of interference as he spoke through his buy’ce brought the bemused voice through clearly. He didn’t sound as winded as Red was feeling, but she was relieved to realize he was not going easy on her either.

“Very good, Lieutenant Terah. But you know how this is going to end, you cannot keep this pace forever.”

“If you are asking for my surrender you should know better, Skirata.”

Red’s dodge and duck slid her past Kote Skirata, who easily followed the movement. His free hand finally managed to clamp down on the wrist of her open hand with his own free hand.

“Gotcha.”

Red had a split second to make a decision as he grappled her arm. His other hand was already driving the vibroblade at her and Red saw the path she had to take in order to achieve her objective for the training scenario. Instead of attempting to parry his blade away from her, she brought her own blade in against his, locking the handles together and pulling it closer. She felt the blade edge cut shallowly into her cheek as she pushed herself into the strike, ignoring the pain it caused. His blade hand and the following arm were pulled over her shoulder and she quickly dropped her shoulder and brought it up into the armpit of Kote’s armor. Pushing upwards from her grounded stance, her front leg swept in and hooked against his ankle, pull his foot from under him as she lifted him off his stance with her hip and shoulder.

Kote did exactly what she expected in response, committing to the fall as she swept in against him. He released the grip on her free hand, wrapping his arm around her as he went down to pin her from escaping. He was rolling with the fall and bringing her with it. Red let it happen, more concerned with having her free hand available. As they tumbled, she managed to rip a small, circular device from her belt, arm coming around to his back and slamming the object between his shoulder blades.

The roll ended with Kote on top of her, pinning her to the ground. His vibroblade had been freed from hers in the tumble and was now pressed against her throat, a small trickle of blood running from where the tip barely pressed against her skin. The grin he wore was evident in the bemused tone when he finally spoke.

“Wrong choice.”

Red took the moment to catch her breath, her own grin forming as she simply stared up into the slit visor of Kote’s buy’ce. Holding off on her reply, Kote’s head suddenly jerked, turning in what she knew as an attempt to see the object she had stuck between his shoulder blades. His hands released her, but neither made it back to the object affixed to his armor in time to stop the sound of a small alarm. As the alarm cut off Kote relaxed completely and stood, releasing her fully from the pin and taking several steps back before he extracted the object from the back of his armor.

Red sat up, a hand gently wiping blood from the nick on her neck and the shallow cut in her cheek. “I think my choice worked out alright.”

They had agreed to live blades so she was not upset with the Mandalorian for the injuries, although they had sanely agreed to use simulated ammunition and ordinance. Kote sheathed his vibroblade and took a moment to examine the device in his hand.

“An improvised micro charge using sticky explosive, contained in a bantha leather, directed to discharge inward. Minimal ‘modern’ technology. Strong enough to puncture through my armor.”

Red grinned as he examined her handy work. “I used a small enough amount combined with the natural casing so that your sensors would read it as trace from the environment.”

“You know an explosive of this size still would have killed you along with me when it detonated.” His tone was somewhat grave as he popped the seal on his buy’ce, pulling it off and casting an appraising look at the engineer.

Red pushed herself to her feet, a nod given to his assessment. “My odds of surviving the blast with your body and your armor as a shield when it detonated was optimistically in the 10-15% range. But my mission objective was to neutralize a specific target - you. The explosive was my last resort and considering your superior combat techniques, I was forced to make a call and use that final option. The mission was more important than my own survival. The objective briefing I received made it clear that failure would mean the loss of far more lives, including that of my team. I am sure you can understand the choice I had to make.”

Kote gave a small smile as he took a few steps, the timbre of his voice dropping slightly as the distance between them closed. “I can respect that.”

Red bent over to adjust one of her boots as Kote approached, eyes dropping from his for a second. Now that the adrenaline of the encounter was wearing off, she found her breathing was still a bit shallow and it wasn’t because of the training scenario. Straightening again, Red found herself face to face with Kote, his hand rising and very gently resting against her cut cheek. She forced herself to match his gaze, eyes following his as he inspected the injury and carefully ran a thumb across the line it formed. Despite the care in his touch, Red winced slightly, drawing Kote’s eyes back to hers.

“I would say sorry for that cut Red, but I’m not. Plus, but you traded it for victory in the scenario. I suspect you’d find an apology condescending.”

Without even thinking, Red allowed her cheek to settle into the palm of his hand. His other arm had wound around her waist as they spoke and she pulled her eyes down from his in an attempt to prevent the blush she could feel forming. Her own hand was resting against the chest plate of his armor and Red found her voice caught in her throat as she tried to parse if she would allow the very obvious sequence of events that were unfolding to continue unchecked. Her lack of voiding actions told her she was going to follow the unfolding moment to an inevitable, enjoyable conclusion.

“So what now, Tavi?”

The distinct change in voice ripped her from the momentary revery and caused Red’s body to tense, her eyes snapping back up as adrenaline surged in fear and anger.

Instead of Kote’s face, she was staring directly back at the face of the Twi’lek, Levatt Turdan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The cry of horror that escaped at the sight of Levatt where Kote had been seconds before carried over from Red’s dream into the waking world. Red cut the noise off with a gasp as she jerked into wakefulness, discovering she was drenched in sweat and curled with knees drawn to her chest in the middle of the hammock. Eyes darting across the space of the engine room, she let a raspy sigh out in relief that Sacul’s HRD was still docked in her charging port, the droid’s eyes closed tightly. Part of their roommate agreement had been that Sacul would provide the engineer with a certain level of privacy while she was sleeping. Thankfully, her scream was apparently shorter and quieter than it felt and Sacul was not alerted to her nightmare. Managing to swing shaking legs over the edge of her hammock, the engineer uncurled and bent her head as she took a moment to regain her composure, eventually murmuring quietly to herself.

“Never again...no repeat mistakes...”

Rising from the hammock in a mostly smooth motion, Red knew immediately where she needed to go. Stripping off the tank and loose pants she slept in, she pulled a small cargo bag that held her exercise body suit from somewhere under her hammock and began to dress. It only took a moment to get changed and a extra couple of minutes brushing out her hair and weaving it into a long braid that reached to the small of her back. Normally she would make a tighter, more intricate braid that shortened the length even further, but she didn’t feel like she had the time.

Stooping and grabbing the handles of the small cargo bag that still held the rest of her training gear, Red swung it onto a shoulder as she slipped out of her enclave into the engine room and headed for the main exercise and training room on the Sacul, where most of the team was prone to spend free time.

There was one person she knew was usually there at this hour and Red silently hoped he hadn’t broken with his normal schedule this evening.

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:51 pm 
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Around the same time of Red’s nightmare
==================================

Gavin sipped the at water in the glass he held as his eyes scrolled over the data before him.

Sleep was eluding him and it was turning out to be the beginning of a long night. Restless, longing to be with Brya again, he’d thrown back the sheets and powered up the monitor at the desk. Brya had made it perfectly clear that despite how much she may or may not have wanted him back, she was not about to go barging into another’s place. Even if it had originally been her’s. It was his mess to clean up and he owed Lightfoot that.

She had been right, of course.

With no duties currently assigned to him, he’d spend the day reviewing what reports he had access to from the past year, reading through Eta-3 technical manuals, and doing his best to assimilate as much information about the mission ahead as possible.

Gavin glanced up to notice the chonometer in the monitor’s upper right corner had just passed 0130 hours. As much as Brya had been right, he still wasn’t ready to face Shadow.

So far he’d reviewed the records of two other Wraiths whose names and faces were missing from the new team line-up. Myn Donos, Wraith’s previous Second in Command, had been promoted to Colonel and was now heading up the new Rogue Squadron. Kai had been reassigned to a unit operating undercover in Hutt space; the details of their operations listed as classified.

Gavin had asked Sacul to bring up the records on Face’s son, Jaden Loran, out of personal curiosity into how the child had been doing since being claimed by his father aboard the Bloodlust. The records had been restricted to higher than top-level clearance and flagged to alert Face of any activity regarding Jaden’s records. It had quickly brought the CO’s calmly threatening voice over the speakers in Gavin’s quarters that there would be brig-time and broken bones if Gavin tried to access the file again.

Presently, he was reviewing the official reports regarding the missing Wraith, Elassar Targon.

The reports were grisly. His severed leg had been discovered aboard a station under Imperial control. The same station from where the plague that was now spreading across the galaxy had originated, Gavin noted. There was a video clip of the Devorian, appearing to have been severely beaten and physically mutilated, being forced to read propaganda at gunpoint. Gavin had taken the opportunity to refill his drinking glass as he listened to the recording. It looked like they had been consistently beating the medic within an inch of his life, only to reel him back and keep him alive to read their materials, labeling what was left of the New Republic first as the incompetent government unable to save its citizens from the deadly plague, and then as renegades and terrorists who threatened the health and recovery of the infected worlds receiving care by the benevolent Empire.

The second to last report, dated a few months before rediscovering what was left of the New Rebellion’s fleet, detailed the Sacul’s discovery of the location where Elassar was being held captive. To the Wraiths' horror, they had found their medic’s freshly decapitated head resting on a table, his bloody Wraith uniform patch stuffed in his toothless mouth. The rest of him was nowhere to be found. The final report was that of the New Rebellion High Command officially declaring Elassar as KIA.

Gavin cursed twice. Once at the Empire and their inhuman brutality, second at images that would be keeping him awake the rest of the night. He finished the rest of the water in a single gulp and then sent the unbreakable drinking glass clanging around the refresher station. A moment later, he winced as he heard the mirror lose to the cup.

Crossing his arms, Gavin turned from the monitor to stare out the large viewport. “Sacul... I want you to bring up everything related to the Twin Moons incident. Visual and audial records.”

“There are both public and private records on the Twin Moons incident,” Sacul replied, her face popping up on his screen. “While I can pull up the public records, including the tribunal records, your current security level isn’t high enough to gain access to the private records.”

“What’s included in the private records?”

“You know I can’t tell you that.”

“Can you at least give me a vague idea of what’s in them?”

“Lieutenant, why is this so important to you?”

“I’d never intended to harm Red,” he said, choosing his honest words carefully. “If there were some unintended consequences, then wouldn’t you agree they ought to be cleared up as well? Secondly, it was important enough to you to lay blame on me... it would only be fair that I have an idea of what I’m being blamed for. I’m sure you can find a way to be vague enough without violating protocols.”

Sacul didn’t answer.

“You DID lay blame on me...”

Sacul sighed. “The private records include the results of Lieutenant Terah’s medical and psychological examination before and after your departure, before and after the tribunal, holo-recordings of interviews as part of those examinations, and entries submitted from Lieutenant Terah’s personal log.”

“And the results of the psychological exams were... ?”

“... Classified.”

Gavin’s right eye fluttered a moment, an odd idiosyncrasy he’d unconsciously developed to show his mind processing things. “Then it’s highly probable that the results weren’t good, and, inferring from what you said yesterday, career threatening.”

Sacul didn’t answer.

“What about this Levatt? I’m assuming there’s record of his trial.”

“The tribunal records of Levatt Turdan are on file and are not listed as classified.”

“Load everything on Levatt Turdan to my monitor. I’ll review it after I finished with Red’s files.”

Gavin bit the inside of his lip as he loosely pieced together the scraps of information. “Do her public records include a transcription of the tribunal?”

“It does.”

“Any audial records?”

“Not on file. After Red was vacated of charges, the audio recording was sealed and achieved by the High Command.”

Then Sacul said something he hadn’t expected. “Would you like me to read it to you?”

“Please.”

"Court Droid; Lieutenant Octavia Terah, do you swear that the testimony and statements that will be rendered in front of this tribunal will be an honest and truthful account? Do you also swear that these statements will be in compliance with the Officer's Moral code to which you swore at the time of your commission?"

"Octavia; I do, and...I do."


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:13 pm 
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A plot by Red and Face - dun dun DUN! To finish up where Red was heading after her bad dream.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

The trip from the engine room to the training room was a quick one, but Red still felt tension building in her shoulders as she came up to the training room entrance. The sensation quickly melted as she stepped through the door and came just inside the room, her suspicions confirmed by the sight of Face working out on the training mats. Sliding the bag off of her shoulder and lowering it to the ground, arms were crossed as she stuck to the wall in silence and observed her CO for a moment since he was in the middle of a sequence and she didn’t want to interrupt him.

Red had seen all of all of her “new” teammates training before, but there was always something different about watching when Face trained. Maybe it was his single mindedness about the task or just his natural aptitude...she suspected the sensation she experienced while watching Face train was the same one that others occasionally had when they watched her work in the engine room. It was an awareness of a skilled “otherness” that was inspiring and intimidating all at once.

Watching Face work though his current training sequence also bought Red a moment to figure out how exactly she was going to bring up the topic that was on her mind. She knew she had to talk to him about the dream, but even with the resolve to avoid mistakes of the past the subject wasn’t any easier to talk to someone else about. So for the moment, she focused on following what Face was doing.

“Rising Bantha.” The smooth tones of the Sacul sounded in the training area. Without pausing, Face sank into a new kata, his movements becoming larger and more stylised, as his centre of gravity sunk a few inches.

After almost a minute, Sacul’s voice came again. “Hijkata, third level, second form.” Nodding to himself, Face spun around, adopting the traditional opening stance of the form. It was a motion that put Red in his eyeline for the first time.

“BWAA!”

Red started a bit as Face shouted and jumped back a step upon spotting her, a small grin forming. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”

“You didn't.” Face faltered. “I was just, uh — BWAAA! That's more like a... It's a warrior like... Strikes fear into the hearts of...” He tailed off. “Y’know, it’s not wise to sneak up on a man when he’s training.”

Red’s grin blossomed into a full grown beam. “You mean to say, I managed to sneak up on the vaunted Face when he was in the zone?”

Face smiled in return. “Well, don’t spread it around, I do have a reputation to uphold.” He crossed the training mats to a small dispenser in the wall, grabbing a small paper cup, he downed several cups of water, before wiping his brow with the nearby towel. “So, Reddikins, what brings you here at this time of night?”

“Well...” Red’s grin faltered a bit, the reason she had come down resurfacing in the back of her mind after the distraction of actually getting the drop on Face. Nerves won out for the moment and she gave as casual a shrug as she could manage. “I was hoping for some training help. You ran us through some new Hijkata forms at the last group training session, but I haven’t had an opportunity yet for any practical work with the sequences.

Face raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Nodding, he gestured to the centre of the room. "OK. Show me what you remember and we'll go through the combat applications."

Squaring her shoulders, Red went into the centre of the mats, and rolled her neck from side to side to loosen her muscles. Sinking into the new stance, she nodded.

Face immediately began a very slow series of attacks towards Red’s waiting pose. Casting her mind back, Red began to go through the new form, it's stylised movements strange to her, but each new gesture managed to block Face's slow attacks in ways she hasn't initially conceived.

It took all of Red’s recall to pull up the sequence of the form in the correct order as Face continued his steady series of attacks at her, but she was pleased to find that she had managed to commit the whole sequence to memory. Unfortunately, the momentary, silent self congratulation broke her focus long enough that she didn’t shift her weight correctly with a transition in the form, a sharp clip from Face’s leg rocking her balance for a moment.

“Focus.”

Taking a deep breath, Red recovered her balance and shifted back into the low stance as Face continued his advance with the single warning. He only gave her a split second to continue and as she reached the end of sequence Face gave her a similar, one second warning.

“Again.”

Turning to recross the room in the opposite direction, Red found herself pressed at a faster speed, forcing her to abandon any side thoughts that had still been tugging at the corners of her mind in order to keep pace. It also became apparent that Face had altered his attack sequence, forcing her to make her own small adjustments and rely on the form instead of her short term memory of his previous attacks.

“Again.”

This time, Face kept varying the speed of his attacks, forcing Red to match his actions, rather than continue the form. Twice she started to block before Face had thrown the attack, being 'rewarded' by a gentle tap when Faces attacks shot through her premature movements. However, she quickly worked out where she was going wrong, and by the end of her third run through she was blocking all of Faces attacks, despite variances in timing. As the form finished, she held up her hand for a moment to catch her breath. Annoyingly, Face wasn't even breathing heavily.

Face gave her a count of three, before... “Again.”

Because asking to train with Face was an easier choice than just telling him I needed to talk....sithspit, I can be dense...

The fourth run through was less of a run through and more open sparring using the form. Red managed to fend off the first sequences of attacks but quickly found that the fatigue of the continuous sequences had taken its toll. After taking a sequence of sharp raps to her ribs without managing to block a single one, Face’s leg finally connected with her own as she stumbled back away from him and Red found herself laying face up on the training room floor, her braid of hair wrapped around her neck and draped over her nose.

Face moved to stand over her, arms crossed and brow raised as he seemed to take in the sight of his engineer on the floor before finally speaking.

“"Well, I can train all night and you're welcome to join me. However, if you'd rather talk about what you ACTUALLY came here for, then we can forgo round 5."

Red managed a weak nod as she finally willed her arms to move again and pushed herself up partially onto her elbows, braid shaken off her face.

“Talking and water, please.”

Face offered Red a hand up, a knowing look cast at her as she moved over to her gear bag, dug around and fished an metal bottle out. Sniffing the contents to ensure they weren’t too old, she seemed satisfied with the quality before taking a drink and sinking down to sit with her back against the bulkhead. Face lowered himself down next to her, watching as she dropped the back of her head knock lightly against the wall before finally speaking, letting her eyes defocus on the overhead for a moment.

“I had a dream...”

Face flashed a faint grin as Red offered him her water bottle, accepting it to take a drink.

“Ah, finally going to ‘fess up to me that you’ve been pining after me all these years? I can’t say this is unexpected. Was it a soft, romantic dream or a steamy, holo-novel type?”

The comment was obviously not serious and Red suspected he made it to purposely ease the tension she was still struggling with over talking to him. Regardless of motive, it did have that desired effect as Red made a quiet snorting noise and pulled her eyes from the ceiling to shoot Face an eye roll, chuckling a bit besides herself.

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but you weren’t the star of this dream...and it didn’t end up being a good dream, even if it started that way.”

Slowly at first, Red recounted her dream in exacting detail to Face. While there were some distinct pauses, awkward throat clears and a heavy amount of blushing and avoidance of looking at Face when she reached the moments just before when Kote was replaced by Levatt, she was able to get through the entire thing.

Face listened attentively at Red’s account, giving the silence that formed as she finished a moment to develop and let her know that he was waiting for her own assessment before he spoke. After a moment of quiet thought, Red finally looked back up from the training room floor.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I start having hints of nightmares right when Gavin returns, Face. Not a day goes by when I don’t think for at least a moment about that Skocha Kung Levatt....but he was finally starting to fade to the back of my memory and I had at least banished him completely from my dreams.”

Red sighed, letting her head tilt back to knock on the bulkhead again.

“But I also don’t think or feel like this dream is Gavin’s fault, as easy as blaming his reappearance would be...I’ve thought over it hard and frankly, I’m not even mad at Gavin for everything that happened anymore. I think this is about Kote. I’ve been doing my meditations, but I don’t know what to make of this. All I do know is I can’t make the same mistake I made before with these bad dreams and pretend they’re not there.”

Face nodded slowly. “You know that Turdan will not be a problem any more. You know he’s not in a position to hurt anyone now?”

Red suppressed a shudder. She was aware that Face and Void had conducted a ‘strenuous’ interviewing session with Turdan after he had been captured. The details, and results of which had been classified with a full Intelligence seal. She didn’t want to know the full details, but Face had assured her that Turdan was alive and would not be able to hurt her again. What she didn’t know, was whether that was owing to his incarceration, or physical/mental state at the end of the session. “I know, but it’s not that easy to forget, and I don’t want to go through that again. It was easy to flirt with Kote at the time, but after the fact I just feel...exposed and a bit scared.”

“Well, considering you kept the whole Turdan thing to yourself, and you’re already talking over the stuff with Kote, I’d say it’s a good start.” Face pointed out.

“Good point.” Red let out a soft laugh. “I mean, I met Kote once, and he stole my access codes, after basically showing me how fraking clever he can be.”

“You know that Kote is the son of a Null class clone... right?”

Red looked at Face, an expression of surprise on her face. “I knew he had an Uncle who was a Null, Prudii. Guy’s a gorram legend in engineering circles for coming up with the method of sabotaging the Separatist droid armies during the Clone wars by altering their alloy composition through the addition of 5% extra Carvanium. But no, I didn’t realize Kote’s dad was a Null as well.”

Face nodded absently. “His father is Ordo Skirata. Ordo and his brothers were the first clones created 13 years before Palpatine created the Empire. All of the Nulls have eidetic memories, optimal muscle tone, an IQ that rivals Piggy’s, and perfect balance between fast and slow twitch muscle fibres. Basically, they’re as close to optimum as humans can get.” He paused. “This must have been passed on genetically, as all of his kids seem to have the same skills.”

“You mean, Kote and Ca’tra are genetically enhanced?”

Face shook his head. “No. They’re just genetically superior.” At Red’s puzzled look, he smiled. “For example, they have excellent stamina.”

Red’s face once more matched her nickname. “Oh.”

It was Face’s turn to grin. “Look Red, Kote seems a decent guy. Y’know after he stopped trying to kill me. He loves Ca’tra and he’s sworn to protect Jaden with his life. You could do a lot worse. Also, you’ve got a while before you seen him again. Just let me know if you want to come with me when I visit Mandalore. I’m sure we can work out a legitimate reason for you to go.”

“I may actually take you up on that offer, Face.”

“However, get yourself checked out by Tyria anyway. Standard stuff, just make sure there’s nothing medically wrong which is causing the nightmares.”

Red pulled a face. “You know I don’t like Doctors, even if I am friends with them...but the thought that I should go see her had crossed my mind.”

“I know. Which is why you’ll notice I didn’t phrase it as a suggestion.” Face responded, gently, but firmly.

“Aye sir.”

“And keep up the training. You’re getting pretty good. Certainly good enough for field missions in any SpecOps force I’ve ever worked with.”

Red blushed a bit harder than she had at the previous jibes, apparently surprised by the compliment as she tossed the water bottle back in her gear bag. “Thanks...not that my family or anyone I knew before this group would think that was a possibility until I get a chance to pay one of my brothers back for years of sitting on me. You know, I’ve put on 30lbs of muscle since joining into this insanity and I bet my mother would still say I look like I need a good meal. Of course, she’s convinced eating more will make me grow taller, so there’s no winning there.”

Face laughed, pushing up to his feet and giving Red another hand up as she stood.

“You know, Red, the way you occasionally describe this big family of yours, it doesn’t sound that far off a Mando clan.”

Red chuckled, tossing a few errant items that had fallen out of her bag back inside before fastening it closed. “Based on what I DO know about Mandalorian culture, the two key differences between the Terah family and a Mandalorian clan seems to be a use of Huttese over Mando’a and a major difference in the climate of our home worlds.”

Shouldering her bag, Red fussed over a few errant strands of hair that had come loose from her braid before finally blurting out the final question on her mind, realising she had to look like some ridiculous teenage girl at the moment.

“Do you think Kote will actually comm me at some point? I mean, he’s the only person who has that comm frequency now, since Piggy helped me set another one up for ‘official’ use...”

Face shrugged. "You never know with Mandos. I wouldn't be surprised though. Kote's good, but he wouldn't do all of this just because he could. He did it for a reason. No reason you can't be that reason." Face frowned at his own convoluted phrasing. "You know what I mean."

Red gave up fussing with the loose strands of her hair, apparently satisfied with the answer as a faint hint of amusement formed on her face.

“Thanks, Face. It sounds like you’re talking a bit about Cat’ra there, too. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I think I'll pass on anymore training...after that run through if I don’t go and get back to sleep while I have time I’ll be dragging through repairs for the next two days.”

Turning to exit the training room, Red paused at the door, a final, quick comment directed back at Face before she made a speedy exit.

“Oh, and don’t get mad but I might have called Kote neurotic and blamed you for that wording and Piggy might have replaced the main ignition fob on the Wild Star with a little toy Chubar and loaded a difficult to remove program of that same ‘Chubar’ cartoon character you voiced as a kid to the Wild Star’s primary console matrix before it left, set on a loop of it singing and dancing...anyway, G’night!”

Watching Red finally duck out for good, Face smiled to himself, and glanced up at the ceiling. “Sacul, resume training from last random selection.” As Sacul beeped an affirmative, Face settled down into his combat stance, muttering quietly under his breath. “Bwaa.”

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:55 pm 
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Written by Gavin and I


Day 3
Morning of Red’s conversation with Face

=================================


It had been a few days since the briefing. Most everyone had been shocked by Gavin’s appearance, but none more than Shadow. She had hardly expected to see him again, two years later, what with all that had happened. Yet there he had been. He looked worse for wear; more rugged around the edges, a few new scars and his sunken, dark eyes betraying his lack of restful sleep. Part of her wanted to play Florence Nightengale to his Wounded Soldier, but the rational parts left in her brain were vehemently against the idea. There was still too much scar tissue in the way, not enough time and no way to start recovering yet.

And then it got worse. He was staying.

Most of the crew was just as befuddled by this turn of events, but Face had made the case in his favor. Even if he hadn’t, the end result was the same. Shadow would somehow have to figure out how to deal with Gavin again. How, she did not know.

Part of her half expected Gavin to have sought her out, to try to explain... or something. She shouldn’t have been surprised when he made no such move. He always had kept to himself, now more than ever. Still, it would have made a nice gesture, earned him a few points and touch of sympathy. Oh well, so much for that. Disappointment seemed to be the new MO.

Now, Shadow was removing part of a wall to get at some of her less ordinary supplies, cursing her lack of forethought that other people might store things against the wall of one of the supply closets in the Sacul’s cargo bay. Didn’t they know she had stuff back there? Now she was very close to being stuck between a crate, the wall panel, and several odds and ends that were about to fall from their precarious perch high above.

“Any chance anyone is walking by this closet? You’re not hearing things, I promise....” she shouted past the open door. Any help would be welcome at this point, otherwise they might have to dig her out the next time someone needed... was that droid polish she smelled?

A hand reached out to catch a stack of ration containers as they began to topple.

“Good,” a voice said. “There’ve been enough voices in my head to last me a while.”

“Oh, it’s you,” Shadow said lamely, recognizing the voice. Not sure what else to say, she shifted to the practical. “Mind giving me another hand? This wall panel is heavy and I think my leg is trapped behind this crate.”

Gavin paused a moment, glancing over the tightly packed supplies to determine the best way of going about the rescue. Several small cans caught his eye.

“Hmm, droid polish,” he said, slipping one into a pants pocket. “I’ll probably need that later.”

Shadow sighed and rolled her eyes. “If I had known you would be such a help I would have called sooner. Any chance of you climbing over here and taking this panel? I can probably shimmy out from there.”

Without further conversation, Gavin scaled the small mountain of supplies and took hold of the durasteel panel, carefully pulling it up and over the pile and free off the closet. Placing it against the wall of the cargo bay, he waited as Shadow freed herself and shimmied back out from behind the supplies.

Shadow stretched and straightened, glad to be free. “Thank you for that. I’d almost forgotten I hate tight spaces... I’ll have to unload the closet and relocate that stash. There’s just no way I can get in there again, or regularly for that matter. I can’t imagine what I was thinking, the back of a closet. Of course they were going to fill it with storage.” She knew she was stammering on, but she wasn’t sure what else to say at this point.

Gavin caught himself staring at her and quickly smothered the feeling of guilt and despair that he was sure had crept into his expression. The end of her last sentence was followed by a silence that most humans with normal social graces would have considered awkward and unbearable. He, on the other hand, had no such problems with silence and had gone back to glancing over the storage closet.

“Was there something specific you were trying to fish out?” he asked.

Shadow retrieved a small spice bottle and a few pouches with no distinguishing marks from her pockets. “I don’t usually make recipes that call for these, but I wanted to try something new for dinner.” Shadow continued to fiddle with the bottle and pouches, knowing that Gavin wouldn’t be bothered by the silence. And for once, neither was she.

Gavin’s canine tugged at the inside of his lip a few times as his mind shuffled through possible conversation starters, evaluating for the best option. He opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was, “ok then”. He turned to head back out of the cargo bay.

Now Shadow was very near to being pissed off. After all this time, he was suddenly here and was leaving without saying anything? Grabbing the nearest item, another can of polish, she flung it at his head with a shout. “Stupid... Man!”

At the last second, Gavin’s head jerked to one side and a hand whipped up to catch the projectile. He stopped walking and let hand and can fall to his side with a sigh.

“So far I’ve been punched by a ship, punched somehow harder by a woman, had Defel claws around my neck...” he said without turning around. “But I think I deserve this can most of all.”

“Well, at least you admit it,” she huffed.

“So...” he started again after a pause. “How many times did it take before you could shoot me?”

“What?” she asked, confusion showing on her now less angry face.

He turned around. “The test that Face put you through after I left. The test to make sure you could kill me if the time came.”

A little color drained from her already pale face. “How did you-- ”

“Know?” he finished her sentence. “Once a month, Face ran the same test to make sure he could kill Shira when the time came. It only makes sense that he would make sure you would be able to kill me, given the circumstances.”

“Longer than he wanted it to,” she muttered quietly. “I don’t remember how long. I just remember crying the first time, and the time after that.. And then one day I stopped. That was when I started to be a little afraid of myself.”

“You know why I did what I did, right?”

“Yes, but it doesn’t mean that I agree that what you did was right. I happen to think it was one of your more stupid decisions. I think the better question here is ‘Do you know the consequences of your actions?’”

He paused. He wasn’t ready to have this conversation, but like most unpleasant things, the moment had arrived of its own accord. “More than you could possibly know.”

Shadow huffed a bit and crossed her arms. “Look, I can tell by how short you’re being that you don’t want to be here having this conversation. Well, neither do I, but we’re here and we’re having it. Either we need to sort it out here and now or we’re just going to be forever awkwardly distant. We both know that we can’t afford that on this mission, so suck it up and deal with it.”

She would have been proud of her forthright statement if it weren’t for the unfortunate situation. “So, what do you have to say for yourself?”

Gavin glanced down at her boots a moment as he felt the emotion drain from him. He shivered slightly as the air around him felt like it had dropped ten degrees. “What I did was to keep you alive and safe from a threat that turned out to be a deception. At the time, it seemed the only option, and that if I hadn’t acted you would have died at the hands of those we call comrades. I sacrificed everything in order to prevent what I thought was a future in which you had been left to die. You were the most important thing in my life, and if the vision had been real, I probably would have done it all again if it meant you would live.”

“But...” he pulled the hand holding the container of polish she had thrown back and lobbed the container back towards the storage closet. The can hit the floor and bounced twice before rolling against a crate. “The deck was stacked and I lost. My relationship with you was sacrificed in vain and while you may eventually be able to trust me as a squadmate, you’ll never again trust me with your heart.”

He looked up. “Correct?”

Shadow took her time answering, knowing that how she replied could change both of their lives. She examined his eyes, noting his frank truthfulness within. That had always been one of the traits she had admired about him; he always told her the truth, even if she wouldn’t like it.

“I will have to trust you as a squadmate; our jobs will not work unless I do. There are too many other lives at stake for me to put personal feelings ahead of our safety and success. At first, the trust will be forced, but in time, eventually I hope I can learn do so naturally once again. As for my heart... I’m not sure ‘never’ is the correct term, but it is most definitely another matter entirely. I just don’t know. It would be a long, hard path to travel down, and not one I’m sure either of us is prepared for.”

“Then for all intents and purposes, we are no longer...” his voice trailed off, unable to produce the end of the rhetorical question.

Deep inside Shadow wanted to tell him. She wanted it to all be better, for everything to be back the way it was before. Looking at him now, Shadow saw the man she fell in love with once before. And now... part of her wanted to do it again.

Shadow slowly crossed the distance between them, catching Gavin’s eyes that tried so hard to avoid looking at her. Gently hugging him, she rested her forehead on his shoulder and released a pent up sigh. “I can’t,” she whispered softly. “Maybe some-- ”

She looked up at him, tears welling up in her eyes. Gavin, somewhat stunned at her unexpected slowly opened his mouth to say something but her fingers went to his lips to stop him before pulling her hand back to cover her own mouth. Unable to hold back her tears, she pushed past him and headed off down the corridor.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:59 pm 
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Written by Red and Gav
(minor detail edit)

Day 3
Several hours after Gavin and Shadow’s interaction

=========================================


Gavin scowled as the loading crane lifted the red and white R2 unit from Eta-3’s droid socket and began lowering the droid to the hangar floor. Compared to his personal R2 unit, Q, this astromech, designated R2-4F, was possibly the second-most incompetent droid he’d had to work with. He sighed to himself, wishing Q were here right now to be the one supporting the starfighter. Q, along with his ship were still hiding out somewhere; had been since Gavin had broken out of the Sacul and sent the signal to go into hiding before the authorities could seize and impound both craft and droid. Gavin reminded himself to send out the return signal when they were in one place long enough for Q to rendezvous.

“Your benchmarks are horrible,” he said, addressing the droid and exhaling in exasperation as he flipped through the simulation results on the datapad in his hand. The performance metrics between the droid and the Eta’s onboard computers were dismal at best: bandwidth utilization levels were nowhere near as high as they should have been, data exchange rates were a quarter of normal, and total times to complete operations were... likely fatal in real combat situations.

The droid came to a rest next to the craft, and squealed at him as it rocked back and forth on its legs, complaining that the Eta-3’s system protocols were too complex and were requiring more overhead than normal.

“Either you get over yourself and adjust to the craft’s systems or we do this the hard way and I adjust you myself.” He really didn’t have the patience to hand-hold and fine tune an astromech through the initialization process every time it loaded into the craft’s droid socket.

The droid blatted at him.

He really didn’t have time for this. The last thing he wanted to deal with after the gut-wrenching conversation with Shadow was a cantankerous droid disrupting his distraction. He tossed the datacard over his shoulder, into the ship’s open cockpit, and started out of the hanger. “Let’s go. System upgrade time for you. Now.”


-----

With his access codes lacking appropriate clearance in the droid bay for what he wanted to do to his interim droid, Sacul had informed him that he would have to speak with the one person on the ship in charge of all droid system changes: Red. Gavin had stood in silence for a couple seconds, suspecting that as the droid maintenance systems fell well within his security clearance, Sacul was taking it upon her devious self to force him to face Red as he had been subtly avoiding any direct interaction with the Engineer.

He accused her. She denied it.

Growling at 4F to follow, he mumbled something about Sacul and chess and headed towards Engineering.

-----

Red spent a large portion of her day inside the various access panels that peppered the inner bulkheads of the ship and once again found herself busy with routine maintenance in one of the primary conduits that hid the guts and wires of Sacul’s systems from view. Wearing a custom Verpine Ocular Enhancer that Zraix had gifted her early in her time with the Wraiths, Red was laying on her back with the upper half of her body tucked inside the open panel. Zraix had adapted the visor to a pair of her old welding goggles and modified it so it allowed her not only to see things in greater detail but to function in low light conditions, eliminating the need to carry a space-consuming light source into the panels. Her astromech, Hope, sat just outside the panel, standing guard over a bag of tools and a canvas sheet where Red had neatly laid out spare parts hat she brought along on her maintenance rounds. Occasionally the engineer would reach a hand out from her little cavern, the R4 perfectly content to locate whatever was requested and pass it along to the open hand, saving Red the time of crawling in and out of the tight space.

Her current project involved replacing a section of transmission wire that was showing signs of degradation, even though this specific bundle was not a part of the Sacul’s systems that were designated as critical, such as life support. The wire bundles were part of the system that regulated over half of the refreshers in the crew quarters and losing them would mean the fresher units would be severed from receiving commands from the in-room panels that allowed the occupants to do things like adjust the intensity of their sonic showers or flush the refresher. Red might know that the fresher controls were not a “critical” system, but if the fresher controls went down the rest of her teammates wouldn’t care what level priority the system was assigned.

Red had used a metal bar with a ‘V’ shaped end, called a jumper bypass, to create a temporary loop around the aging section of wires so that she wouldn’t have to temporarily disable the controls for the repair. Checking the the section of isolated wire was no longer active using a circuit scanner, Red reached a hand out and received a bundle of new transmission wire and a microfuser from Hope. Setting the bundle of new wires on her torso with the circuit scanner, Red made two quick cuts just inside the jumper bypass, catching and passing the excised section of damaged wires out to Hope.

Picking up the new wires, she adjusted the settings on the microfuser and cleaned the exposed end of the new wires off before soldering it to one half of the existing transmission wire. Pulling the new wire taut, she clipped, cleaned, and soldered the second end to the other side of the severed wire inside the jumper bypass. At the exact moment that Red finished and carefully removed the jumper bypass so that the new section of wire picked up the command transmissions, she heard the first hollow echoes through the decking that alerted her to someone approaching her open panel. Passing the jumper bypass, circuit scanner, microfuser and remaining spare wire out to Hope, she gripped the edge of the panel in front of her and slid forward, taking the opportunity not only to check who was approaching but grab a brief break from the confines of the conduit.

Gaining her feet and pushing her goggles up onto her forehead, Red was surprised to find her visitor was Gavin. He was looking more than a little put out and one of the R2s that had been assigned to the Eta-3’s was trailing behind him in an equally petulant fashion. Fishing a rag from one of her jumpsuit pockets to wipe grime off her hands and face, she realized it was the first time she had come into one-on-one contact with him since their initial briefing. The thought was momentarily disquieting, but she took a deep, slow breath to regulate the sense of tension the thought caused her and found that a small smile evolved naturally when she slowly exhaled and he closed the distance between them.

“Hey, Gavin. You look like you’ve got something on your mind...”

Business, he reminded himself, throwing a thumb over his shoulder. “This R2 unit needs a software upgrade to deal with the Eta’s computers.”

The R2 unit warbled disgruntledly and turned its head away.

“Yes, you do,” Gavin shot back. “And Sacul is being a pain and won’t let me do it myself.”

“No, I’m not,” a voice cracked through an overhead speaker.

“Yes, you are,” Gavin retorted.

Red found the initial quarreling between Gavin and his temporary astromech amusing. She had a hard time not finding enjoyment in the way most of her team members interacted with their droid counterparts, especially when the droids had strong personalities.

Her amusement quickly shifted to confusion however, as Sacul entered the argument. Sensing that things were devolving to a shouting match, fingers rose to her lips and a sharp whistle was issued, drawing the attention of all participants back to her.

“Woaaaah, back up. Sacul... why wouldn’t Gavin be able to use the available droid stations to service his astromech?”

The engineer’s voice had taken on a distinct tone, indicating she suspected something was off about the situation and Sacul was the source of her suspicion. Eyes rose to the overhead as she addressed Sacul, very much out of a long developed habit.

“He must not know what he is doing.”

Red’s expression shifted subtly at the snarky reply, fingers on one hand raised to pinch the bridge of her nose with a heavy sigh. Before Gavin could retort to Sacul’s jab, the hand left her nose and gave him a “hold on a moment” gesture.

“Sacul, I need a moment of privacy here. That means no eavesdropping.”

The ship’s voice had a distinct whine to it as she countered the request. “Red, you can’t ask me to do that.”

“I can and I just did, Sacul. Please honor it as a request or I’ll manually disable your sensors down here.”

Sacul grumbled briefly before the comm system popped around them, Red finally lowering her hand and looking back to Gavin with a faint sigh.

“Sorry about that... Gavin, why is Sacul making you come talk to me?”

“She’s been acting weird ever since-- she decked me after the mission briefing,” his brain had narrowly avoiding bringing up the events between the two of them in the cargo bay. “Probably from hanging around Kai too long.”

Red noticed the faintest hitch in his reply and found herself forced with her own choice. Something told her Gavin would be beyond mortified if he knew she was aware of his conversation with Sacul’s HRD in the cargo bay, especially the hug, but thankfully she was able to cover her momentary pause with a sincere reaction to the reference about Kai, letting a chuckle escape.

“Yeah... I’ve noticed she had some mannerisms from our Twi’lek friend. And I guess that answers the question I’ve had as to where that bruising on your face came from after the briefing. At least it’s fading quickly.” She paused for a moment, deciding to go ahead and continue the line of thought. “I assume she punched you over the whole, hacking her systems and blasting a hole in her thing?”

Gavin’s cheek tingled a bit in the memory. “There was mention of that...”

Red nodded, a sigh as her arms crossed casually. This conversation was less awkward than she might have expected, but it was obvious that was in part because they were both avoiding the topic of Gavin’s return with regards to Red’s opinion on the matter. “I can talk to her and see if I can’t get her to lighten up just a little, if you’d like. I’ll definitely make sure she at least stops doing things like locking you out of the droid station.”

“That won’t be necessary,” he shook his head. His conversation with Sacul not all that long ago in the cargo bay flickered through his mind, reviewing the key points. “I think she and I are... slowly getting things resolved.”

Red nodded, her hand once again coming up to the bridge of her nose to pinch briefly as she realized part of resolving the issue with Sacul’s treatment of Gavin required her to open the touchy subject. Mind running over her options, she finally settled on a careful wording of what she needed, or at least wanted, to say. A careful glance raised to gauge his reaction as she let her hand drop back to her side again.

“I suspect I need to say this to you in order to get Sacul to leave you alone, even if it is uncomfortable for both of us. Your return hasn’t been easy for me, Gavin, but I want you to know that you don’t have to worry about things between us. I certainly won’t be taking a swing at you.”

“Well that’s good to know, though you certainly are entitled...” As much as he wanted to direct the conversation back to the business of the droid, he had no idea how to navigate back.

“Entitlement is arguable. I was very angry after what you did to me. I even swore your actions were unforgivable while I was physically recovering, but I’ve had a lot of time for reflection since then.”

Red was unsure why, but she made at least a passing attempt at humor to try and shift gears out of the comments. “So, consider the past in the past. Just don’t, raise your hand in my direction and act like you’re trying to Force-lift me... ”

Based on her own inadvertent wince and the slight grimace that tugged at Gavin’s face, Red realized that it was still a little too close for comfort to joke about what had happened. She didn’t promise him it would be easy... just that she wasn’t going to give him a hard time on purpose. Clearing her throat awkwardly, she opted for a more direct exit from the conversation. “So, droid?”

“Yes, droid,” he started, looking behind him to make sure it hadn’t snuck off while he’d had his back turned. Surprisingly, despite all its complaining, it hadn’t. “You. Upgrades. No complaining.”

4F blatted a raspberry and rolled forward.

As Gavin had resumed his banter with the astromech, Red clicked her molar teeth to activate the small, inner ear communicator she wore when she was working inside Sacul’s panels. She had found it gave her a safety net when she was buried in the bowels of the ship and the risk of loosing it was almost none compared with a more traditional over the ear communicator. Just by clicking her teeth she could activate it, scan between channels, and deactivate it once she was done, with the primary channel patched directly into the Sacul’s communication’s array in case she found herself in an emergency while working.

“Sacul? You can come back now.”

The ship’s inner communication system gave a soft pop, indicating that Sacul was once again tuned into that section of Engineering. “Yes?”

“Sacul, I think we figured out why the droid stations weren’t working. Can you please ensure Gavin isn’t locked out of any systems he is permitted access to from now on?”

Sacul didn’t sound entirely convinced when she replied. “Is everything all sorted?”

Red rolled her eyes. “Yes, all sorted.”

With a nod, Gavin turned and directed 4F back in the direction of the droid bay. He followed the droid out, but stopped a short distance from where Red still stood with Hope..

“Octavia...” he said, turning his head to not-quite glance over his shoulder. “Do you blame me for the Twin Moons incident?”

Even though Red knew about Sacul leveling the accusation at Gavin for everything surrounding her court martial, his question still took her by surprise. She had been in the process of collecting a hydrospanner and spare parts to take back into the access conduit with her, but found herself frozen and staring at the items in her hands as she tried to formulate a response. Jaw worked open and closed in a few false starts before she finally managed a quiet reply.

“The only person to blame for what happened during that ‘incident’ is that di’kut Levatt... and myself.” She swallowed, head raised to look down to where Gavin stood with the faintest trace of sorrow in her eyes. “To be honest, I was kind of hoping you never found out about it. It would have been nice for someone, anyone, on the team to be oblivious to one of my less than admirable moments.”

Gavin raised his head slightly and bit at the inside of his lip. He grunted a quiet, not quite satisfied ‘hmm’ before turning back and disappearing down the corridor.


Last edited by Bowman Gavin on Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:04 pm 
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Theran only hesitated for a moment, looking back at the door into the Sacul’s interior. Safety was through that door, and yet nothing but painful memories and thoughts as well.

Reaching out, he pressed the door release and waited. It happened so fast that even expecting the pull, Theran was wrenched from the deck and out into space. The depressurized airlock emptying of oxygen, the cold blackness of space engulfed Theran.

Slowly tumbling around, he watched the Sacul start to pull away from him, the ship continuing along as if nothing had changed. Then the tug on his belt, a safety line.

Moving his body slightly, Theran turned away from the Sacul and stared out into the system that they were passing through. The closest planet glowed like a orange and blue marble, slowly spinning in the void. Much like Theran currently felt like, when he was honest with himself.

“I’m not real,” Theran tested the words in the safety of his enviro-suit. The thought and words bringing a frown to his face. That didn’t feel right, and so Theran tried again, “I am a copy.” This felt more correct to him, rather than saying he wasn’t real.

The stars drifted by as Theran contemplated the idea that he was just a copy, the Med Droid confirming that he was younger than his memories said. Hopefully the Rebels, “No, the Repblic”, wouldn't find out too soon. Theran had wiped that part of the droids memory banks, and none of them had seen his face under the dead troopers helmet back on the station.

The memory caused Theran’s stomach to start turning. When, why, and who dominated his thoughts. He was unable to focus on specifics as his mind grasped at details. However, nothing was forthcoming, he remembered everything as if he had done it. He had memories of the ocean and Galactic War, which was impossible for someone who was only two galactic years old.

~~~

Theran wasn't sure how long he had drifted along with the Sacul pulling him along, the half oxygen warning stirring him from his silence.

rotating back around to face the Sacul, Theran thought for a second about just releasing the latch on the safety line and floating away. After all, what good was he? He was nothing more than a clone.

He never reached for the release however, instead focusing on the fact that he was here now. In the vacuum of space, floating through a system and section of space he doubted anyone had ever just jumped out into.

Which brought him back to who and what he was: a clone for sure. But what were actually his memories, and what were the implanted ones? Everything back during the war was obviously fake, as was most of the post war. When did his own memories start? What could he call his own? A passing space rock drew his attention as it too floated past him.

His defection. He could remember that clearly. However, even that didn't add up in his mind. He clearly remembered having a droid named “Vader.” Now, however, he had a droid designated R6-T1 or “Tone” as he had been calling it. Searching for what had happened, Theran wasn't recall what had happened to Vader, or how he had come by Tone.

With a start Theran looked at the Sacul, fear gripping him. His memory of defection was fake, he was a plant. The only memory that he could hold onto was the station, everything before that was suspect. Hitting the retraction button, Theran started his return to the Sacul.

One crushing discovery was enough; he couldn't handle another. He couldn't face his memories right now. He couldn't face the truth. Instead he would hide behind his work and get all his equipment and starfighters prepped for departure.

_________________
"Your generic TIE grunt is just plain suicidal. And the TIE Defender jockey is bloodthirsty. But the TIE Interceptor pilot, he's suicidal and bloodthirsty..."


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:26 pm 
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Plotting by Tyria and Red!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The repair to the transmission wires went a lot more quickly than Red had scheduled for, including the amount of time it took her to clean up all the parts and log her report into the Sacul’s maintenance record. Fingers drumming on the primary interface console in engineering, she finally pulled up the primary crew schedule and selected Tyria’s entry for the day.

Sacul compiled a master schedule based on the data each member of the crew provided to her mainframe and while they were not obligated to log exact details beyond “personal time” or “training” or “Ewok Hunting” it generally helped to reduce the amount of time everyone was obligated to spend tracking one another down. Red logged major repair plans on hers, while Tyria had used hers to give crew members a sense of when they could find her in the Medical Bay having open hours for them to come see her at their leisure if they had concerns.

It just so happened that Tyria was in the Medical bay office with open hours at this moment and after drumming her fingers a few more times Red powered down the console and exited the engineering bay.

“No time like the present.”

Despite her initial conviction to go and see Tyria for a check over, Red paced back and forth past the doors to the medical bay a few times once she arrived before finally forcing herself to take a deep breath and enter, hoping that she was the only one visiting at the moment.

Tyria was sitting at a desk in the main part of the sick bay and looked up as Red came into the medbay. “Hi, Red,” she greeted with a smile, “What can I do for you? No one else is here, and my schedule is currently clear for the day, unless an emergency comes up.”

Red visibly relaxed at finding herself alone with Tyria and the med bay droids, a faint smile managed at the doctor’s greeting as she moved over towards where she sat.

“Hey, Tyria. Well, I know this isn’t the sort of thing that you normally get as a ‘walk-in’, but I need to get a standard check over...” It would have been easy to leave the last part of the statement off her sentence, but Red forced it through without too much show of embarrassment, remembering her discussion with Face the previous night. “And I need some brain scans, to look for signs of night terrors.”

“Night terrors?” Tyria questioned. She looked at Red quizzically. “Have you been having more recently?”

“Maybe? It was more of a bad dream, but after talking to Face he felt it would be better to be safe and check to make sure nothing major had gone awry in my head...you know, besides volunteering to come on this mission.”

Red sat down in a chair that was strategically located across from Tyria’s desk, a hand rubbed against the back of her head as she attempted to mitigate her nerves with the joke.

Tyria smiled reassuringly. “No need to be nervous, Red. These things happen. I’ve had my share of night terrors, myself. They go dormant for a while, but then sometimes they come back. Usually because of some specific stressor...Have you had anything come up recently that could be considered a ‘stressor’?”

“Ah, well...” Despite her best efforts, Red’s ears flushed as she ran over the dream and its starring character. “Does a flirtatious Mandalorian stealing my personal comm frequency count?”

Tyria raised her eyebrows and cocked her head to one side in confusion. “Uhh...was it traumatic? I’ll be honest...I’m not quite following you.”

Clearing her throat, Red gave a faint chuckle. “Sorry, I guess that isn’t a helpful description. I guess I better back up to the beginning. I saw off Cat’ra Skirata and Jaden when they left the Rebel’s Dream, including Ca’tra’s older brother, Kote. Kote and I had an, interesting, exchange that ended up with him hacking my personal comm frequency after I refused to give it to him. He starred prominently in this dream I am worried about, but at the end of the dream, Kote was replaced by Levatt Turdan. Needless to say, that was the point where it went from a really good dream to a nightmare.”

“How did you feel when you woke up?” Tyria asked, “Or, rather, how did you wake up? Did you jolt awake? Were you calm? Were you scared?”

Tyria’s clinical approach to the dream helped Red’s nerves to dissipate as she focused on recalling the specifics of her experience. “It felt...well, there was anger, some fear. It wasn’t as bad as when I would wake up from the night terrors I had previously, but it had similar sensations. It was a sudden waking, but I felt like I had control of myself both physically and mentally pretty quickly once I was awake.” Red paused a moment, thinking back to the time just after her trial when her night terrors had been the worst. “When I had the night terrors after the tribunal, I would be confused and a bit hysterical for some time after waking up and I didn’t always know where I was.”

Nodding in understanding, Tyria thought back to her own bout of night terrors. “I know what you mean. When I had mine, Wedge told me it took everything he had to calm me down; I wouldn’t fully wake up...I’d be thrashing around rather violently.” She paused. “I know what you’re going through with it, Red, believe me.” She shook her head. “I nearly killed Wedge one night. It’s...one of the most horrible feelings I’ve ever had; the disorientation afterward.”

“I never knew you had the same experience. I mean, a part of me figured someone else in the squad had to have at least bad dreams, but I guess with what we all go through, I shouldn’t be surprised I’m not the only one. I really do appreciate you sharing with me, Tyria...it takes a bit of the edge off the whole mess.” Red realised that she had actually sat forward in her seat as she listened to Tyria’s description of her own experience, elbows brought to rest on her knees.

“Talking about it like it’s normal also seems to take the edge off of it, like it’s just another machine I need to fix instead of some horrible thing I’m helpless against.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” Tyria agreed. “Back when I had mine, I talked with my doctor about it, but he was a civilian, and didn’t quite get it. You end up feeling so alone, like you’re some freak of nature because no one can understand. But really...like you said, it’s not surprising that others have dealt with it.”

Tyria paused for a moment, studying Red’s face, and then she took a deep breath. “I’m going to tell you something that I’ve not told anyone else before this. Well, except my doctor and my husband. My previous issue with night terrors came after some...events. Events in which another member of this team was directly involved. In my terrors, I was confronting that person and felt he needed to be neutralized, and that I was the person to take care of the issue. Wedge woke me up because I had woken him up. It’s not everyday that a man wakes up to find his wife sitting on top of him with her hands around his throat, trying to strangle the life out of him. Thank the Force he’s a lot stronger than I am. He had to fight me off of him, and he said it was no easy feat. Like I said, thank the Force he’s a lot stronger.” She shuddered at the memory. “And Wedge doesn't even know this one yet, because I haven't had a chance to talk to him about it. I don’t want him to worry. I had another one the first night of this mission.” She looked down, then held her right hand out toward Red. The bruising on her knuckles was evident. “I was apparently attacking the wall with some fervor.”

Red had left her elbows on her knees as Tyria confided in her, eyes going slightly wide at the end as they inspected the damage on Tyria’s hand. It certainly wasn’t out of any sense of revulsion or shock, but a deep sense of surprise that Tyria had entrusted that information to her. Surprisingly, she had a sense that for a brief moment their roles had been reversed and the candor helped her shake off the last bit of her own nerves. Leaning back in her chair again, Red brought her eyes up to meet Tyria’s. “First, I think I need to say that I appreciate you being far more open with me than any doctor I’ve ever had before. I’ll be honest that I’m more than a little surprised that you would share that with me. I know we haven’t had a chance to get to know each other too well, since our squads worked separately for most of the past.”

Red took a moment to collect her thoughts, eyes seeking something out in Tyria’s before she spoke again. “I think I can guess at who your trigger was, if it isn’t too forward of me to make that assumption. You should know that no one would blame you for having a less than ideal reaction. I thought he was my “stressor” also, but after some pretty serious thinking I am pretty sure that isn’t the case for my bad dream.”

Tyria sighed and remarked ruefully,. “What a wonderful team we all make. A bunch of misfits who are trying to win the New Republic back, all of us suffering from PTSD or night terrors in some form or another. Someday we will be an incredible study for an aspiring psychiatrist to write a book about.” She chuckled at the thought.

Red laughed a bit herself, stretching back in her chair after sitting forward for so long. “To quote Rrowv, I’m pretty sure that’s why this new rebellion has us classified as Special Ops, with a huge emphasis on the ‘special’ part.”

Glancing at the chrono on the med bay wall, Red raised a surprised eyebrow. “Ah, fierfek...I’ve been talking your ear off. I know you said you weren’t busy, but at this rate I won’t leave you any time to look at the pretty lights inside my head. Face was kind of giving an order when he said he wanted me to have a physical and neuroscan done, even if it was one of his casual styles of command.”

Tyria pulled out her datapad and typed a bit into it. “I can do a general brain scan right now, and then, pending those results, I may want to do a sleep scan for a night or two.” She pursed her lips in thought. “I’m sure it won’t be anything out of the ordinary though, Red. Well, out of the ordinary for any member of the team, anyway.”

Red laughed a bit as she rose from her chair, following Tyria over to where Flit, the resident GH-7 medical analysis droid was hovering and busying itself tidying a work station that looked perfectly clean and organized already. It turned around as Tyria and Red approached, its head tilting and three arms spreading slightly in what approximated to a greeting gesture. “Were you in need of my assistance, Dr. Antilles?”

“Yes, if you could please prepare the necessary programs for human brain scan over at station 1 and prepare the necessary tools, I will be bringing Lieutenant Terah over shortly. Thank you, Flit.”

The droid gave an affirmative noise before moving over to the area indicated by Tyria, pulling out various monitoring patches. The whole process went surprisingly quick once Tyria had Red move to sit in the chair Flit was hovering next to. Red suspected that her surprise at the speed was a result of her last scans mainly taking place while she was unconscious, leaving her with no reference point for how long it took.

“All right, Red. That’s it.”

Flit immediately disentangled her from the monitoring patches that had been affixed to various points along her forehead and inside her hair, allowing Red to rise easily from the chair.

“Thanks, Doc...when will you know if you want to run any follow up monitoring?”

Tyria tapped over a few screens on the medical datapad she had been using to run the scan before looking back up to Red.

“I will need to compare these scans to your earlier records, but as long nothing else comes up I should be able to complete that by tomorrow. Why don’t you swing by during the open hours tomorrow evening?”

Red fished a datapad out of a pocket on her jumpsuit, pulling up her own schedule. “That should work. Please don’t take it personally, but I’m hoping you don’t need to do this sleep monitoring test you mentioned. If I get to spend more time talking with you, I’d rather it was over a drink or a game of sabacc in the lounge room than over medical notes on myself.”

Tyria laughed. “No offense taken, Red. I completely understand. So how about this...go ahead and come by tomorrow evening. If we don’t need to do the sleep scan, we’ll go get that drink. I’m not big on sabacc, however...There’s some bad history with sabacc games within the annals of Rogue Squadron history. As such, I generally refrain from the game.” She chuckled. “Someday we should get all of us old-timers together and we’ll tell you the whole tale. Face, Corran, Wedge, Janson, me...Tales from the olden days.”

“I think that sounds like a great idea, if you’re willing to be a guinea pig, I can provide the drinks. We might even be able to rope some of the rest of the team in for some social time. Let’s just hope none of this gets supplanted by any new developments for the mission.” Heading for the med bay exit, she couldn’t help but laugh at the sabacc reference. “I’m sure that is a tale us ‘youngin’s’ would love to hear, based on the stories I’ve already been privy to.”

Red paused as she reached the exit, obviously far more relaxed than when she had first arrived, an easy smile cast back to Tyria.

“I hope this isn’t too forward of me, but if you ever need to talk about, your dreams...well, you know where to find me most of the time.”

With that, Red took her exit from the medical bay, heading back to her console in engineering to check on the project list and see if there were any new requests or alerts that needed her attention.

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


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