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Messages - Orell

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1
So, here's a thing I thought might be interesting. Below are the notes that I made for the Jedi Night event on 1/18, mostly written up between projects at work. Generally ideas, concepts, names, planned structure that I created as a guide for the event, fully understanding that things would go off the rails.

And that last part's important. There's a military saying about how the first casualty of contact with the enemy is the battle plan, and that's often how it works with RP. You make a plan and watch how it utterly, completely falls apart... but it also means you have a plan, a structure involved that you can push things back to. Notes below on how things played out and how I compensate :).

Side-note: The below isn't "canon" (for lack of a better word). Stuff happened and changed things because I had ideas or had to react to situations. I just thought people might find it interesting. But yeah, since I'm having trouble sleeping tonight anyway, enjoy!

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Corso/Carth Hemdall: Professional, welcoming to the Jedi, frowny and curt towards the attackers. Seems a bit tired. From Ord Mantell, ex-military, ran the Orell Medical Clinic in Kyri's stead during her exile from Coruscant.

Mostly as-is. Carth's been a very minor char for Kyri's stuff over the years, and due the the SHEER NUMBER OF PEOPLE he didn't have to do much overall :).

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Clinic is in the Vadirean Sector, pretty typical for lower levels of Coruscant, step or two above Black Vulkar dominated sectors, local gang is the Dura-Steals. Kyri and Carth roll their eyes at the name.

Names are suuuuuuper important. Vadirean is just my usual "oh fuck I have to try to think up a name" attempt, a bit overcomplicated but it works.

But Dura-Steals... I just love this. It's so goddamn stupid a gang name that it kinda loops back around to awesome. It's not super-threatening, it's memorable, it's kinda fun and silly, for what I was going for (bad guys that aren't, you know, evil), it's a perfect fit.

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Patients: Mostly quiet and thankful for the help, but a lot of... mysterious wounds, bruises, cuts and burns that seem consistent with combat, particularly on the young men/women.

A bit cliche of me, I'll admit. It didn't come up much, just trying to emphasize that the situation's rougher than might be expected from a standard hospital.

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Other doctors: Nervous, young medical students. Somewhat overawed to see so many Jedi around.

Intent was that, if the students were pressed, they'd admit that they got threatened by local gang members. But the chaos of trying to manage 11 people doing things meant that I just had to kinda roll with events.

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Gault/Gerak: Comes in friendly-like with ~10 people, demands one of the barrels of kolto after a bit of meandering. Makes it clear that he and his men will open fire on the crowded clinic if refused. Gerak and the others can be sent to be in a mix.

1: ...no idea what that last sentence meant.

2: He did not come in friendly like. This was partly because the chars were scanning the crowd (since so many of them, some were doing crowd control), and I had him be detected and getting nervous.

3: But yeah, the "holding innocent bystanders hostage" is a pretty good way to neutralize Jedi. All you have to do is hold the bluff longer than the Jedi are willing to push it. Thankfully, the Jedi didn't start fighting :).

4: In my habit of just throwing in random races wherever because people are people are people, Gerak was originally going to be Devaronian (with Gault as a stand-in)... but I had used Gault elsewhere in the instance and forgotten about him, so I had to improvise with Gerak. I might just retcon this and say he was always Devaronian (more on that relevance later), but yeah. Weirdness happens when you have to scramble :).

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If handed over: Carth will reveal that the kolto barrel has a tracker in it, this isn't the first time someone's stolen kolto from their shipments, just the first time it's been this brazen. Tracker leads to a store not very far away.

So, this totally didn't happen!

Part of running an event with too goddamn many people is that you have to find places for everyone to shine... usually by seizing whatever opportunities were granted.

So, when Sibyl-ko separated from the group to follow the dastardly thieves, instead of having Carth reveal "hey, we can track them", I just let her go with it. Another person joined her (sorry for forgetting names!), and while it wasn't in my original plan, it made sense, rewarded a player's ingenuity, followed logically from the events of the scene and let two characters do some awesome things!

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If attacked: Gerak and some of the others will open fire at the Jedi, but very inaccurate weapons means that, unless multiple people are going full defense one of the med students and a few patients are struck. Lethality depending on player actions. Rest run off. One of the slain people have weapons that one of the locals would say could only come from a "general equipment store" operating not very far away.

Also didn't happen! But for a good reason this time.

Point generally was... yeah, the PC's might not like thieves coming in and stealing shit. If violence is possible, plan for violence, if only because it makes things better when they figure out a way to avoid the bad shit.

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If refused but not attacked or handed over: One of them will move towards the barrels and take it if not physically impeded, at which point tussel, then firing.

Middle grounds! And also what ended up happening. Just figured there was a chance this would turn into a stalemate, and wanted to have the antagonists force the issue.

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Carth would tell them to investigate. He'll call CSF and knock a few heads together and get some proper security.

Wasn't needed, exactly, since SO MANY PEOPLE, but just being ready with an explanation of "why the players should move on instead of sticking around" is a good thing :).

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==Kaly's General Equipment Store==

Kaliyo/Kaly and Bowdarr/Fluffy: They seem calm, actually nervous. Pretends not to know where the weapon comes from or where the Kolto is, she and Fluffy occasionally do technical stuff or repair equipment. Shocked to see Jedi, they stonewall wherever they can.

If sufficiently threatened/persuaded, they'll reveal the hidden doorway to the underground(er) clinic. Can also be found by inspecting.

I forgot to add this to here, but the 2V droid was originally detritus from the Sacking that they had repaired and reprogrammed.

But generally, yeah, obvious place where crime-type-stuff would happen. And again, random races thrown in because screw it why not. Fluffy and Kaly have nothing about them that requires them to be Wookiee or Rattataki, aside form Fluffy trying to be the muscle to Taelios and...... nope.

But this section got pared down a lot, mostly because the party had real good knowledge that they were connected, no point in delaying.

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==Underground(er) Clinic==

Risha/Rin: Treating two small children, boy and a girl, ~8-10ish, while two men are standing nervously nearby. Children are afflicted with a disease, dark spots on their faces, coughing fits. A trained doctor would be able to identify it as Helaxian Blight in the late stages. Easily treatable in the earlier stages, definitely lethal now.

And the point of it. I don't like writing "Evil" characters, mostly because... I find them dull.  Evil for Evil's sake is easy, doing bad things for good reasons is... a lot more human. And stealing medicine from a fairly well stocked clinic (was always the intention that they only steal some of the Kolto) to save the lives of two children that, for whatever reason, they don't trust to the outsider clinic?

Similarly, the “they’re Force Sensitive” twist regarding the kids was added in to better justify why they weren’t just brought to the clinic. For whatever reason, the gang members would’ve heard about Kyri’s connection to the Jedi, and that whole “Jedi Recruitment” thing... even if it weren’t 100% true, it’s believable enough to make people afraid.

It can be an ugly reminder about how things can be.

Important bit? It wasn't my intention that Gerak was related to the kids, not when writing it up. It was only during the interrogation by the Jedi that it became clear that... there needed to be something more personal. It didn't need to be blood relation (I debated a bit in the moment about making them adopted children instead of younger siblings), but there needed to be something to explain how far they were willing to go.

(oh, and Helaxian Blight was 100% "I need to think up a suitably lethal-sounding name. Blight usually works...)

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If Kolto was stolen, it's being used to treat the kids, and is right there. Being applied a bit wastefully (using more than needed), but still effectively. Rin refuses to deal with the Jedi until the children are treated. Won't stop the Jedi from taking the Kolto, but will spit on them for doing so.

If Kolto was not stolen, she'd be trying to ease their comfort and won't turn their back on them. Asks for help.
Rin makes it clear that she doesn't trust Jedi, they ran off for years and didn't give a shit about anyone. She doesn't trust the free clinics either, no one does, no one from high up gives a shit about anyone down low. Can be calmed and reassured the Jedi are not the bad guys, but the Dura-Steals do more for the people around there than Coruscant or the Republic does.

First part, well, mostly what happened. Duh.

Second part... it came through a lot, and it's something that we too often forget about. Why should people trust the authorities if the authorities do little-to-nothing for them? It's easy to be optimistic about it, but cynicism can win out so easily, but how many times has Coruscant been attacked? How often has the Republic run off? And the Coruscant planet quests are like 95% "the authorities don't give a shit about any part of Coruscant where the sun doesn't shine". Gangs as a form of informal authority and protection, in lieu of an official authority actually doing their job... it's kinda inevitable, people need to feel safe in their homes.

Jedi know how things should be. But that's not how things often are, and that gap is some of the most interesting story material for the Jedi that I can think of. Here's hoping we have more fun with it in the future :).

2
Cantina / Re: Gratitude
« on: 01/19/18, 12:36:31 AM »
Thanks to everyone that showed up! 10 people was... touch more than I was expecting, so thank you to everyone for also putting up with the chaos, let other people take the lead at points and all in all kept things moving. It's sounding like the people of the Vadirean sector of Coruscant aren't out of story stuff left, looking forward to seeing what people will do with this thing that I totally didn't come up with in the last 24 hours!

(seriously, I'm half tempted to just post my full notes, because hooooooly crap every time I do an event things go a bit off the rails)

3
Events and Occasions / Re: Jedi Night Weekly Event Thread
« on: 01/18/18, 12:37:21 PM »
Just as a reminder, I'll be running an event for Jedi Night tonight. I prolly won't be online until 7:45 - 8:00 PM, due to work fun, so feel free to congregate (and maybe get into an Ops group) at the Coruscant enclave ahead of time.

Prompt is...



As some in the Custodum know, Doctor Kyri Orell has been organizing temporary Free Clinics at various low-income (and low-altitude) sections of Coruscant. Jedi have been welcome to assist (either as doctors/healers or nurses/orderlies), as beyond a supervising doctor, various medical students and off-duty police officers, they could use all the help they could get.

Doctor Orell has made a special request to the Custodum for assistance at one of the clinics, currently being run by Doctor Carth Hemdall and located in one of the more troubled areas of Coruscant. Most of the staff that normally worked there has "politely declined to continue volunteering", leaving them understaffed, and Kyri is getting a touch worried about what might happen.



I'll be inviting people to a stronghold for the event, Republic-side only as usual. See you later today, starting by 8pm at the latest (assuming murphy doesn't bite my head off)!

4
Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 01/10/18, 10:37:17 PM »
1-What is the "Checkov's gun" analogy mean? I have watched the ST movies many times (the new ones though not as much) but i'm not sure what this is suppose to mean/imply?

Chekov's gun has nothing to do with Star Trek's Chekov (although the Star Trek character might be named after him? "Pavel Andreievich Chekov" vs "Anton Pavlovich Chekhov", kiiiiiinda similar...).

It's a reference to the Russian Playwright Anton Chekov regarding set-up and payoff. The point of "Chekov's gun" is that if you make a point about a gun on the wall in Act 1, it better as hell get fired in Act 2 or 3, otherwise it should be removed from the play because there's no point to it. Streamline the story, avoid including elements that don't actually impact the plot at all.

In this specific case, seeing the submerged X-Wing is a note that could be read as a set-up for a future payoff: The ship's still around, that means there's good odds it'll get used later on. IF not, then it shouldn't have been included because it's a wasted shot in an already long movie.

There's alternate explanations, and things like Red Herrings, misdirection and being used for other purposes do exist, but it is a bit odd that the X-Wing gets shown off and just... sits there, corroding for the rest of the film.

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Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 01/10/18, 03:44:14 PM »
He already had that moment of weakness when Vader tripped his Enrage Timer at Endor. He overcame it, remembered why he was there, and faced the Emperor (all of which was functionally subordinate to giving Vader his moment, but that's another topic).

The difference between what happened with Kylo and what happened with Vader is that of consequences.

When Luke enraged over Endor, the consequence was that he nearly killed Vader and chopped off his hand. Yes, se seriously hurt the person he was trying to save, but no one else was harmed.

Kylo slaughtered a ton of his students, got the rest to join him, and then ran off to Snoke after putting the academy to the torch. Unless I'm mistaken, Luke's never had to deal with the weight of that kind of loss that can so easily be blamed on him.

That moment of anger and fear that led him to engage the Lightsaber was enough that Luke might consider the aftermath of that his fault, and when that many people you were tasked with teaching are killed because of your mistake... I don't see it as out of line that Luke would be sent into a depression tailspin.

That being said...

These movies are ceaseless in their efforts to invalidate everything that happened in Return of the Jedi, and Luke's character is one of those things.

There's a quote from Dollhouse that a lot of TLJ's stuff reminds me of:

"You played a good hand." "I played a poor hand well, there is a distinction."

In retrospect, one of the biggest problems that The Last Jedi faced was that Force Awakens put the franchise in something of a hole, no matter how entertaining TFA was on its own.

  • The New Republic that was meant to be the culmination of all the work of the OT was nut-punched without any other development.
  • Luke wasn't doing what everyone expected him to be doing (restarting the Jedi Order) but instead sitting on a hidden island doing jack shit.
  • Of the four (Four! Star Wars films usually have 2-3 at most!) named antagonists, only one of them had actually been developed in any meaningful way.
  • It returned to the OT status of the good guys being massive underdogs of the bad guys
  • Very, very little worldbuilding had actually been done in the film, so there was little that TLJ could refer to without taking time to explain it clearly or confusing anyone in the audience that didn't look at non-movie works (aka "just about all of them")
  • The film ends mid-scene, damn near requiring that the next film pick up without much time elapsing.

And the question of "Why isn't Luke Fucking Skywalker fighting the bad guys" is probably the biggest hurdle the film had to deal with.

I suppose there's a rational reason why they chose this course, mostly so they could do the "TFA echoes New Hope" bit and to make a big, clear, obvious break from the post-ROTJ EU works. But like the boss lady from Dollhouse said, they played the poor hand well by coming up with a legitimate, reasonable explanation for it that still allowed Luke to go Big Damn Heroes at the end of it.

But yeah, I really can't blame people for not liking what the Sequel trilogy has done with the OT's stars.

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Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 01/10/18, 01:36:52 PM »
It's like everyone forgot a valuable lesson Yoda teaches in Empire Strikes Back.

"A jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense, Never for attack."

This is why for most of his duel with Vader was him either defending himself or flat out not actually fighting. This is why he tosses away his lightsaber after realizing what he was doing after cutting off Vader's hand. And this is exactly why Luke didn't actually show up to fight at the Battle of Crait.

Then why would he attack Kylo in his sleep? Citing Jedi philosophy and Luke's pacifism and compassion is the worst argument to use in defense of Luke's portrayal in this movie... because it's the best argument for how poor his portrayal was!

Because he fucked up.

It's a defining aspect of Last Jedi Luke: He saw what Kylo was capable of, where he path laid, and in a moment of weakness drew his weapon... and then the moment passed, a moment too late. It's why he pulled a Bindo (the other kind) and ran off to a hidden island to pout: He had failed his nephew, he felt that he had driven the boy to the Dark Side and it had led to the death of every one of his students that didn't join Kylo.

All from a moment's weakness. That sorta thing would mess anyone up.

Also, I wouldn't have thought it would be out of character for Luke to show up and rearrange Kylo's body parts in alphabetical order, but Karmic does bring up a good point: Even with all the crazy shit that the Jedi and Sith have done throughout the years, going up against that entire army alone would be beyond even Starkiller. The only way he stalls for more than a minute is by making himself impossible to kill by not even really being there.

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Events and Occasions / Re: Jedi Night Weekly Event Thread
« on: 01/10/18, 01:25:11 AM »
Any chance I could steal next Thursday's (1/18) slot for an event? Doc Orell's "Free Clinic"s could use some Jedi assistance...

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Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 01/09/18, 12:15:16 AM »
Two thoughts on that here.

1: Space isn't that fast to get around in. I mean, TLJ played fast and loose with distances and time, but it'd be a bit silly if his ten year old x-wing, half-corroded from salt water, managed to get to Crait as fast as the Falcon did from much closer.

2: Remember in A New Hope, when Obi-won Kenobi lowered his weapon against Vader?

This was Luke doing that. Winning without striking a single blow, without harming a hair on your opponent's head. Meeting the rage and hatred of the Sith with a simple "Okay, I'm gone. You hold the field. Now, how does that really make you feel?"

I think it could've been executed better? But think about where Kylo is at this point. All of that drive and anger and hatred and rage... left out there, danglin' in the breeze. Short of Luke killing Kylo, I don't think there's a more infuriating end to that fight...

9
So, I've linked to this guy's videos plenty of times before, most relevantly with The Hero's Journey and The Shadow's Journey, lengthy video essays on the making of original Star Wars, and the two follow ups Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Well, he's closed out the series with the logical follow-up, The Hermit's Journey, tracking what Lucas did after Return of the Jedi, mostly focused on the prequel trilogy but also the Special Editions, the other Lucasfilm projects outside of Star Wars and culminating in the sale to Disney.

It's an interesting (if long) watch, and particularly fascinating with how the story came together... because it sure morphed a lot along the way...

10
Firstly: My real problem with the Emperor in KOTFE and KOTET was that... it felt like a complete digression from the main story. I'm no fan of factional conflict in MMORPG's, it tends to end poorly, but at least Vitiate as Vitiate was integral to both sides. Valkorion felt like... well, a side-family, but happening to be so unbelievably powerful that they can conquer the galaxy with ease.

It just... felt like a "Sweep the board and try to create something new with what's left" situation.

But for the main point? I think that it shouldn't be the collapse of the Sith Empire... but a collapse of large governments entirely.

The Alliance is a cult of personality around the Outlander. The last few content pieces has seen the Outlander micro-managing many significant aspects of the Alliance with little regard for the bigger picture, and the whole thing feels like it's only a few harsh shoves away from collapsing.

The Sith Empire, well, that was destined to fall apart. Sith just don't do well with centralized governments, after all, and if they just don't have the means to conquer any more, then infighting is all that would remain.

But the Republic should crumble a bit too. The resource crisis that Bioware's been slowly building up since Iokath, the one good bit of story we got from that trainwreck of a content patch, is exactly the sort of thing that would tear apart a decentralized confederation like the Republic. Not fall apart entirely, of course, but...

...well, picture the United States, but where faith in the integrity of the federal government is all but zero (hard, I know). There's still the structure there, but if a citizen of Los Angeles becomes less confident in the federal government, they can look to state, county and city governments to pick up the slack a bit.

You could see something like that happen to the Republic: Crumbling, bit by bit, as the galaxy loses confidence in the Republic Senate, and individual worlds start growing in prominence, groups like the Rift Alliance (led by a certain former-Jedi maybe) and isolated kingdoms under charismatic leaders (like a certain daughter of a pirate king) growing stronger to protect their people.

The Republic would be more durable than the Empire, of course. Everyone sneers at a massive bureaucracy for being slow and ponderous, but it can take a lot of hits and still find a way to chug along. The Sith Empire without the Chiss and the Sith... what's left but the military and what passes for planetary governance?

11
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 12/30/17, 08:26:01 PM »
Ahnshal Life Day

(( Belthiana Ahnshal was first seen in Hard Choices and last seen in the (long) Closure stories. She hasn't had the best life, but she's deserved every ugly moment of it.))

Republic Penal Colony L-634

"Ahnshal, where are you?"

Belthiana Ahnshal gave a small sigh, looking up at the guard's voice, surrounded by the stalks of the crops she was tending to. They never liked coming into the fields, not since one of the other prisoners used the coverage to set all manners of snares. The caught guards were never seriously harmed, it just gave the prisoners no end of a morale boost to see them clambering back to their barracks caked in mud.

She waved her hand above the stalks. "I'm over here, sir."

A long sigh was somehow audible through the sounds of labor. "...get your leks out here. Warden has a thing for you."

There was a collection of giggles and guffaws from the other prisoners at work as Bel stood, grimacing as her back objected to the strain. There was no mistaking it, she wasn't as young as she once was, too many years bent over engines, crawling under chassis or lifting a few pounds too much in exactly the wrong way.

Thirteen years from now, when her time would be up, Bel probably wouldn't able to stand up straight without a bit of pain. Price of staying alive, she supposed, but she would miss being limber.

She gave a tired smile, brushing the dirt off her gray and well-worn coveralls as she came out of the field. "Sergeant Phels, is it? What does the warden need?"

The sergeant shrugged, the young man's light armor glinting beneath the sunny sky. Phels was one of the more passive guards here, seemingly just happy for a post on a moderately temperate planet where no one's actively shooting at him, but Bel had learned early the value of staying on guard with the guards. "He didn't say. Just told me to escort you to one of the visiting rooms, so let's get on with it."

Bel fell in behind, a faint frown on her face. Since arriving to L-634, she'd had few official visitors. A Republic officer, some SIS agents, even a Jedi, all asking questions about one thing only...

...but that was years ago. No one had bothered with her since then, the few distant relations wanting nothing to do with her, the authorities either happy with her answers or bored with what little she knew. So why now?

"How are the fields?" Phels idly asked.

Bel smiled, looking around the camp as they walked. "It's going well. A few months, we'll have a full harvest. I think the warden's trying to make us self-sufficient."

"Fewer crates to unload? Yes, please," Phels chuckles, glancing at Bel again. "Warden's not working you lot too hard?"

"I think the warden's rule on working us too hard is that he can't." She gave a little laugh of her own. "No one's passing out, and the food's still better than Tatooine's."

"That's a pretty low bar. Warden keeps talking about how important hard work is for rehabilitation, yadda yadda yadda..." He shrugged slightly, and Bel finally noticed exactly what the young man was glancing at.

She let the warmth fade from her voice, crossing her arms over her chest, looking away from him. "It's his prison."

Phels got the message loud and clear and stayed quiet as they entered the colony's main administration facility, understatedly comfortable as it was. It was only a low-security penal colony, and the primary security method was just how isolated they were, with no other settlements within weeks of walking. Even the perimeter fencing was mostly for show, more to keep wildlife out than prisoners in.

And, much to Bel's continuing sorrow, it was beginning to feel like home.

"In here, Ahnshal," Phels said, rapping on the door to one of the small apartments that serve as a meeting room. "Warden said you have as long as you and your visitor want, just don't break anything or kill anyone." At Bel's confused look, he shrugged. "His words."

Sergeant Phels walked off, and after a moment's hesitation, Bel opened the door.

The smell hit her before the sight of it did. A veritable feast laid out on the table within, a glazed hunk of nerf, steam rising from candied fruits and vegetables, bottles of what looked like fine wine, dishes she'd only seen in obnoxious holos and cloying advertisements.

She took a step forward before she noticed the one other presence in the room. A younger woman, Twi'lek, yellow skin wearing a simple shirt and trousers, holding a plastic cup of wine, staring at one of the tacky paintings on the wall. She could see just enough of the woman's face to know who it was, someone she hadn't seen in seven years.

Well, seven years if you didn't count nightmares, at least. "...y-you..." Bel said, the words catching in her throat.

"...Belthiana. Happy Life Day, give or take a few weeks," Quarasha said, her eyes still fixed on the painting. "I'm not good at keeping track of such things."

Bel stared at the woman, at the Sith, at the face attached to a knife thrust into her stomach, the face that stared into her husband's dying eyes. "...w-what..."

Quarasha look at look at Bel and gave a small sigh. "It's... complicated." She gestured at the feast. "...eat, drink. Nothing's poisoned, and maybe the wine might help you relax," she said with a note of annoyance she couldn't quite suppress.

Bel staggered to the table, shakily pouring the nearest bottle of wine  into a cup and downing most of it in one go. "...i-it's good..."

There was a note of disgust on Quarasha's face. "...should've gone with cheaper wine, if it's going to be guzzled like that. Oh, don't stop on my account, just try to savor it a little?" she added as her mother froze mid-drink.

Bel nodded dumbly, staying quiet for a moment as she eyed the meal. Company be damned, Bel wasn't sure if she'd ever eat food like this ever again. "This... this is a Republic prison. How... how?" she said as she started to shovel food onto her plate, the wine's warmth spreading from her belly.

"Simple. I own the warden."

"...of course you do," Bel said, disgust managing to sneak into her voice, despite the woman's better instincts. "What of his family did you threaten?"

Quarasha laughed. "Well, that wine worked quickly."

"I-I mean-"

"You meant that a Sith would naturally use violence to get her way?" Quarasha's smile was patronizing, but it was at least something of a smile. "I don't always work that way. Rarely, in fact."

Bel just stared at the Sith. For some reason, Quarasha got the impression that her mother wasn't quite convinced by her earnest reassurances. After all, it was a look that Quarasha had seen far, far too often over the years. "Fine. He's slightly corrupt, I found out, he doesn't want to lose his position and he finds the price of my silence quite acceptable."

"The warden never struck me as a particularly corrupt man," she said, but without much enthusiasm. Gratitude over a practically perfect nerf roast sapped even the most idealistic of their harsh recriminations, and Bel's first taste of the former-beast somehow beat out even her imagination.

Quarasha shrugged, finally turning away from the awful painting and approaching the table, snagging the bottle of wine for a refill. "The smart ones rarely do. Just small things so far, a few prisoners died that weren't properly reported, and the funds allocated for their confinement are still being collected."

"Oh. Simple embezzlement?" Bel almost sounded disappointed.

"I imagine he'd object to calling it 'simple'." Quarasha smiled for a moment at her mother's faint chuckle. "He's using the funds to better equip the prison. More farming equipment, better defenses, some actual entertainment material for his guards and probably you too. It's probably why he's getting away with it, he's not using it to get rich and most that find out are probably fine with his end-goal."

"A generous embezzler?" Bel muttered, refilling her glass of wine.

"Yes, rather like a noble Sith. Rare, but not entirely unheard of."

Bel paused, a fork full of nerf halfway to her mouth. Quarasha's cheshire smile threatened to split her head in half, but the older woman swallow managed to swallow the far-too-good meat. "...why are you here, Q-... Qu..."

Quarasha looked away, a flash of... something passing across her face. "...if it helps, you can call me... Force, what wretched name did I use, Maisey?"

"...you don't like it?"

"It's... flowery," Quarasha said with a grimace. "It was a fake name I used a long time before then, when I wanted to seem unthreatening."

"...you used to like flowers..." Bel said under her breath, glancing at Quarasha, just in time to see the Sith's face flicker as she pushed away an unwelcome emotion.

Silence reigned in the room, Bel continuing to dig into the roast, Quarasha staring at her wine. "...you asked why. It's... complicated."

"Yes, you said that already."

"I say it a lot about you." She sighed, running a finger around the rim of her glass. "Last time... we didn't part under the best of circumstances."

Bel stopped eating, the meal suddenly tasting of ash. Those last moments... she had replayed them, the whole week, even the last days with her Eyan'Aola in her head more times than she could count. "...you murdered my husband and stabbed me in the stomach."

"Alright, fine, nearly the worst of circumstances." Quarasha took a long swig of her wine, and even Bel could see how uncomfortable the Sith was on the subject. "I wasn't in a particularly good mood. Or good state of sanity. In any case, I've had seven years to think about it."

"And?"

"I... I don't..." Quarasha scowled, glaring at her glass. "Damned drink. Fine. I don't hate you. Or him."

Bel stared at Quarasha, unable to believe her ears. "...what?"

"Oh, you damn well know that you heard me," she half-growled. "I'm glad you're here, I only wish Hul was in his own prison camp far away. You sold me, both of you, and then thought that your punishment should be having a cozy little house in a desert while I was being abused by fat men with a taste for young Twi'leks!"

The sound of cracking plastic drew Quarasha's eyes down to her cup, much of the wine now flowing down her arm. "...it's been a... touchy point for a while."

For her part, Bel looked about as large as a mouse, with how far she'd sunken into her chair. "...I-I... I'm sorry... we..."

"I know." Quarasha gave the broken cup a long look, then pulled one of the bottles to her hand. "You were deep in debt and desperate. If you had other options, you would have taken them, but you didn't. And so... you didn't." Quarasha shook her head as she pulled out the cork with the Force and drank straight from the bottle. "I hated you for so long... but I've heard enough variants of your story over the years."

"...that was enough?" Bel asked, pushing away an instinct to tell Quarasha to use a damn cup.

Quarasha shook her head. "No, but it was enough that I remembered how you reacted to a young slave-girl on the run." The Sith finally looked her mother in the eye, granting her a shrug and a somewhat inebriated smile. "A ploy, yes... but it was a ploy that would not have worked on the people I had imagined my parents to be."

"You must have thought we were the type of people that would bite the head off of a newborn kitten," Bel said, giving her daughter a soft, sad smile.

"Not quite. The Sith Empire is a wonderful education in the depravity of certain sorts."

Bel flinched, going back to the meal, trying to push away her thoughts of the Empire. "......the food is wonderful, Quarasha."

"The chat was going to be awkward enough as it was, there might as well have been something guaranteed to be good," she said, but wasn't able to keep her mother's gaze. "Something else troubles you."

"People visited me..."

Quarasha shrugged. "I know. Military, SIS, Jedi, the Republic can be quite paranoid when it comes to Sith. I don't blame you for telling them what you knew."

"It wasn't much... but it's not that." Bel took a deep breath. "They showed me your dossier."

Quarasha closed her eyes, taking another swig straight from the bottle. Quarasha's dossier, at least the copies that the Sith had managed to acquire from the Republic's intelligence agency, included a lengthy list of her accomplishments. Systems vassalized, political leaders murdered, known schemes that boosted the Empire's strength, nearly every dirty deed she had done in service of the nation that had allowed her to go from slave girl to ambassador.

"For the record, they've somewhat exaggerated my accomplishments," Quarasha said, still avoiding Bel's gaze. "Part of the problem with my work for the Empire, a reputation for successful clandestine operations means that some genuine accidents get blamed on you. I suppose I should take it as a compliment."

"You've... killed so many." Bel shook her head. "Murdered so many. I... I did all that. Hul and I, we... if we took you to the Jedi, maybe..."

"Maybe I would have been raised entirely humorless and dull?" Quarasha sighed. "A senator told me recently, if you throw a ball, you're responsible for where it lands."

"One you tried to kill?" Bel said, but there was no heat, no judgement in her voice.

"No!" The Sith hesitated. "Okay, I did threaten to, but she tried to kill me first!"

Bel couldn't hold back the laugh, a soft shaky thing, as much a release of tension as any good humor. And as her mother slumped down in her chair, Quarasha couldn't help but join in, and the room echoed with the laughter of mother and daughter for the first time in years. "...alright, alright, that was a touch childish of me..."

"No, n-no... it's... it's that my daughter threatens to kill Senators! She murders people, destroys kingdoms, conquers worlds, such a wonderful and innocent little Eyan'Aola!" Bel's laugh grew fractured, unsteady as she spoke, her eyes welling with tears as she grappled with her cup of wine, downing it all and following it with more from the bottle to quiet the manic humor.

Quarasha sighed, watching her mother calm down, clutching the bottle like a lifeline. "...I... try not to think about it much," Bel finally said.

"If you throw a ball, you're responsible for where it bounces," Quarasha repeated. "But, I wager, only the first few bounces. Me threatening Senators would be, oh, bounce 50, more or less. And bounce 45 involved me organizing revolutionary cells that aided in Zakuul's defeat, by the way."

Bel scoffed, peering down at the bottle. "...we might need more wine if you're going to spin kathcrap like that."

The Sith just shrugged as she downed the last of her's. "I brought six bottles. And not enough cups. I simply meant that I'm no monster, no great villain scheming to destroy all that decent people hold dear. There's... even works of charity of mine out there, mostly kept secret."

"Ah, you have to keep that dark reputation intact?" After more wine than she'd had since she was a much younger, much happier Twi'lek, Bel wasn't even trying to hide her disgust.

Quarasha sighed. "No, mostly because no one would believe they're actually charitable if they knew I was involved. Like I said, that reputation is a killer. Anyone known to be a Sith has to work ten times as hard as anyone else to earn even a shred of respect and dignity."

"You could fix that, my Eyan'Aola. Go to the Jedi. Become a Jedi. You... you should've been one..."

"...that's not me." Quarasha sighed, slumping down in her chair. "It will never be me. Maybe once, long ago, but no, not now."

"Why?"

"Because... I like who I am now." Quarasha stared at her bottle, half speaking to herself. "I'm not being used by owners or masters or other Sith. I'm not trying to balance my actions with an eye on the most insane out there. I may be mostly stuck in the shadows, resigned to pits of worlds, but I'm more free now than I've ever been. I won't throw that away for the Jedi's shackles."

"They'd be that bad?" Bel said, with a note of disbelief.

Quarasha shook her head, still staring at the empty bottle of wine. "I... I wouldn't be me. And that would be bad enough. Sorry if that disgusts you."

Bel watched the Sith, the woman... her daughter, hunched over, her voice sounding more and more like the scared slave girl Maisey, and a small slice of hatred faded away. "...it doesn't."

"No need to lie to me, dearest mother," Quarasha said, contempt seeping into her voice.

"...when Hul and I had you, Quarasha... we added something beautiful to the galaxy." Bel smiled faintly, remembering those old days, when the family was whole and happy, before the debts, before the Hutt's strongmen, before... "...and then we destroyed it. If you took what we did and... and made something out of it, something you're proud of... then no, I can't be disgusted by it, my Eyan'Aola."

Quarasha was stone-faced at her mother's words, but a faint twitch showed they had indeed left a mark, however small it might be. "So, I don't hate you and you're not disgusted by me." She gave the empty bottle an appraising look before setting it aside and pulling out another one. "I suppose that counts as progress."

"It wasn't a really high bar, was it?" Bel said, shaking her head with a laugh.

"No. But it will do." Quarasha sighed again. "...stay, leave, eat, get drunk under the table with me... there won't be any interruptions."

"I'd hate to waste the meal." Bel smiled at her daughter, gratefully taking a fresh bottle from the other woman. "Tell me how you got it here, fresh and hot, and... I'll tell you stories about your father?"

The Sith rolled her eyes, but without much feeling as she loaded up her own plate. "...I may throw things to stop you. If I don't like them. But fine, it honestly wasn't that difficult, it just involved an Alderaanean master chef, three crates of thermocrete and one of the more unusually placed listening devices I've ever found..."

12
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 12/25/17, 12:50:13 AM »
Last Jedi in Orell's Old Republic

---SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI BELOW---

At another time, in another place, in another reality, where this meeting on this topic could possibly make any sense...

Kyri looked around the table, giving her most diplomatic smile possible. "Uh... so, what did everyone think?"

The cross-talk from the assorted group, Sith, Jedi, Soldiers and Civilians left the whole thing in a muddled mess, until a growing cackle silenced the rest of them. "I'm still thinking about the rest of it," Quarasha said, grinning at a Jedi across the table, "But one thing I know is that the Princess owes me twenty credits."

Shaantil scoffed. "He could have been lying."

"She admitted it herself! No blue blood, no grand lineage, just a powerful Force user coming from nothing." Quarasha's grin only seemed to grow. "It's a shame I'm probably not her type."

"Yes, such a shame that she has standards and a moral compass." Shaantil's voice was as dry as Jakku itself, the Miraluka's sightless glare meeting the Twi'lek.

"...she should've gone with Kylo," Asori, the much younger Sith Lord, grumbled.

"Oh, come on..." Lien said back, shaking his head.

"Come on! It would've been so romantic, him making her harder-" Asori stopped, glaring at the snickering coming from the soldiers at the table. "Come on! Jedi compassion, Sith strength, it's romantic and sexy-"

"-and destined to go completely wrong," interrupted Merrant, the Zabrak's gaze fully patronizing. "Save it for your fanfics, kid."

"It's dramatic!"

"It's cliche," Quarasha said, rolling her eyes.

Asori glared at the Twi'lek. "You're one to talk! Besides did you see those abs?!"

Merrant and Shaantil hesitated for a moment, but Quarasha scoffed. "It takes more than abs, girl."

As the Force Users fell into an argument about the merit of abs, Lien looked across at the smirking Rattatki. "So, honest, how pissed off are you about Hux?"

Effet shrugged. "Not?"

"Come on, he's a pitiful lackey of a whiny Sith, he gets smacked around by everyone and he has the strategic mindset of a toddler! Ky could out-maneuver his ass, and she'd have a shitton more dignity!"

Effet just stared at the Republic soldier, even as the good doctor let out a harumph. "...and?"

"What do you mean 'and'?"

"It's how things are." Effet shrugged. "Most of the Imperial flag officers are bitches of their Sith, and they're usually only good at getting their people killed and being loyal."

"He wos gonna shoot Kylo!" Kyri shouted.

"They're also good at backstabbing their way into a promotion," Effet said, chuckling. "Alright, what would you have done different, Colonel?"

Lien shrugged. "Easy. Send the fighters out in wolfpacks, scout out the system, look for traps or safe harbor. Fog of war's too dense to just chase and pray."

Kyri chuckled. "Also, blow up the chatty pilot?"

Effet laughed. "Easy target, it's not like you're going to take prisoners."

"Repub- Rebe-" Lien sighed. "...the good guys aren't exactly innocent. Did anyone not kriff shit up?"

"The wookiee?"

"Dumbass flyboy should've followed orders. Admiral Hopeful should've given actual goddamn orders to department heads. What the hell happened to the command structure there?"

"...it got spaced?" Ana muttered, the slicer weakly speaking up.

Lien blinked. "...right. Still."

"...besides, the really dumb stuff was in the slicing."

Kyri frowned. "Really? I thought it looked pretty legit."

Ana snorted. "Oh, please. Okay, slipping out of a prison cell like that, sure, done shit like that. But the super-duper-mega Star Destroyer? Ain't no way you can put a hole any size into a shield, even for a second, without anyone detecting it, for exactly this reason!"

"Yeah, but-"

"But they get stopped by the last door? Come the kriff on, that shit's so trite!" Ana yelled, getting worked up by the desecration to her chosen profession. "Major tech areas are locked down on the perimeter, techs don't like having to slide keycards at every kriffin' door. And if the room was that important, where were the guards?! That whole ship stuff was totally contrived."

"...I guess?" Kyri said, knowing full well that she acted just like that every time anything medical came up on screen. "And no real slicer would just turn on their team like that, right?"

Ana paused. "Uh. Sure." She glanced around. "...the Jedi stuff was neat, at least."

Everyone nodded, in full agreement. The Jedi stuff was, in fact, neat.

"It needed more lightsaber fighting, though," Asori said, much to the dismay of all of the Force users at the table, and the rest of the group wanting to talk about anything else...

((...suuuuuuper just for lolz.))

13
Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 12/22/17, 11:48:23 AM »
Also, this: https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/a-list-of-some-of-the-times-the-last-jedi-told-the-olde-1821396631

Gawker writing up to its usual standards, I see.

Yeah, it's a stupid article, but my read on it is more that they're celebrating the new-direction aspect of the film, not "it changed things therefore it sucks".

Still, dumb listicle is dumb.

14
Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 12/19/17, 12:50:42 AM »
So...are we not gonna talk about the ironing droids that the first order has?

You think a Stormtroopers going to fold the commander's socks?

15
Outside Realm / Re: the last jedi [spoiler city]
« on: 12/17/17, 07:12:07 PM »
Honestly, I think people are getting way too hyperbolic over the Puppet vs CGI thing.

I use 'CGI vs. Puppet' as descriptors because it's funny, but the real distinction I intend there is that the characterization of Yoda seems so bifurcated between his original appearances (plus TLJ) and all of his prequel-era appearances. I'm not even arguing that it's wrong, or unnatural, but the prequel Yoda is a gross, unlikable character, almost unrecognizable from the enigmatic, wise, and silly Yoda of ESB, ROTJ, and TLJ, and detracts from my love for Yoda as a whole.

Yeah, okay, that's fair. I've just gotten a lot more understanding of Lucas' eccentricities when it comes to the prequels. Like, despite how effects-crazy Episode 1, it wasn't that expensive a film, being made on only a $115 million budget: Very very large, but not the astronomical amounts that you might expect... and a lot of that was the Digital Backlot stuff he was doing: Shoot everything in front of a green screen, and you don't need to worry about making a shitton of expensive sets.

I mean, it didn't work great at creating a good film, but not all experiments do :).

Oh, and one other thing I noticed about the Last Jedi?

Rey's plan with Kylo is that, even though he's a mass-murdering space nazi... "Look, Luke, he's really hot and conflicted and he doesn't really mean all of that! I'm sure that if I can talk to him I can totally get through to him, I can totally change the bad boy and he'll be able to use his hotne- I mean, the Force for good!"

I mean, more nuanced than that, but just kinda amused me because... ain't that like half of the Rey/Ren slash-fic stories out there? :D

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