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Messages - Orell

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1
Cantina / Re: Gratitude
« on: 06/24/18, 12:48:04 PM »
Thanks to @LVT, @Dassalya and @SivWysan for showing up and helping me close up the Treslanis IV plot! I'll have something for folks to read soonish, totally, I promise :).

2
Events and Occasions / Re: Soovada 2018 (Roze Garden)
« on: 06/16/18, 07:00:17 PM »
I'll be on Effet Imp-side to help out with the inviting :).

3
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 06/09/18, 04:54:22 PM »
A Jedi Holiday (Part 7)

Several days later, at Gherrod's Corner Store

"...the green of the fields will smile upon you, for they know that you did what none else could do. So if we too see the end of this fight, we'll shout out your name, and we'll sing it all night. The city will see us, the city will care. The blood on the streets is a price they must bear."

Merrant paused as he climbed the stairs, hearing the dark, gruff, rough voice quietly singing.

"I hope that one day that no fights will be near, that I'll think of my friends and not shed a tear. But 'til that day I'll fight as one of the brave, and not spend a thought on my waiting grave. So drink up my friends, for it's freedom we'll save."

Gherrod stayed quiet for a few moments. His eyes were locked on a datapad, bad news most likely, not that there had been many other sorts lately. Finally, he spoke up. "......Jedi."

Merrant stepped forward, eyeing the Cathar with a careful eye. "...didn't mean to intrude. A prayer?"

"Something like that," he muttered, pushing away a tear, somehow managing to scowl at the same time. "Back in the resistance, we'd sing it when we lost a friend. The bastard that wrote it thought that it might make things hurt less."

"...there's some hope in there."

Gherrod spat, glaring at Merrant. "Yeah. A bright future that they won't see!"

"I know."

"What the kriff do you kn-"

"The man that trained me as a Jedi, before I went Red? He was killed by Sith in front of my eyes. I didn't handle it well." For the moment, Gherrod didn't have a thing to say, and so he pressed on. "The woman that reminded me what the real point of power was? She was killed by Sith, months after I came back to the Jedi. The Jedi that taught me most of the tech I know? Killed by Zakuul, defending a ship keeping an entire planet alive."

Gherrod still had nothing to say, but there was a different look in his eye as he grunted.

"...Jedi know pain and loss too, friend. I don't know one that doesn't, comes with the job it feels. We just don't have any songs to make it hurt less."

The cathar shopkeep stared at Merrant before giving him a slow, solemn nod. "...we survive this shit, I'll teach it to you."

"Good. I intend on surviving." He raises his datapad, smiling as encouragingly as he could, with his mind sandbagged by memories of Corran, Soldin and Mireth-Kar. "I think I understand how their device works. To oversimplify, a really strong drill that lays mining charges behind it when it drills. The good news is that I know how to disable it. The bad news is I need to be inside it with maybe fifteen minutes to work."

Gherrod grunted, looking back down at his own datapad. "...I have my own good news and bad news." He took a deep breath. "The good news is that I know where the drill is. The Imps are keeping a wide perimeter, but one of my scouts slipped behind their lines and found it. Big, ugly and steel, like you said."

Merrant stared into Gherrod's eyes, seeing the tears still threatening to pour down. "...bad news?"

"I sent a dozen scouts. One got through. Two found nothing." He said nothing else.

Merrant closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. "...tell me their names, and I'll sing them all night. But we're not done yet, we need to be ready to fight."

"You're no poet," Gherrod muttered giving the Zabrak a nod. "I'll get my people together. We know where to hit them, we'll give you the hole and the time you need. Any chance we'll get help?"

"Probably. If the Force wills it." He smiled at Gherrod. "And if my friend is coming as fast as I think she is, the Empire won't know what hit them."



Meanwhile, at the Treslanis Governor's Mansion

Asori looked over the reports from her Captains, plus the unfortunate Lieftenant Gaines. Fewer incidents at the spaceport. No increase in protestors outside the Governor's Mansion. No incursions at the police station and patrols going uncontested.

Plus nine hikers apprehended in the mountains around the Hillbreaker. Up from zero before the attack on the police station.

But hey, who knows, maybe it was all a big coincidence.

The doors to the office opened, Lord Zhel née Bresix striding in, in full dress, clean shaven, and maximum arrogance. "Asori, you requested a meeting?"

By all rights, Asori's glare would've left naught but a smoking outline on the wall behind Bresix. Sadly, she did not live in so just a universe. "I told you to get your useless ass here because you're behind schedule. When will you be ready?"

Bresix sneered at Asori. She'd seen that sneer before, on high-born nobles, on prideful Sith, on rich bastards. "Dear Lord Alnas, technological advancement keeps its own schedule, I can only provide estimates. We'll be good and done with soon enough, I assure you."

Asori stared at him. "Hours, days or weeks?"

He sighed. "Less than days, more than hours, assuming no more delays of note. Rushing the project will only make it take long-"

"The rebels know about your project. Or that you're up to something out there," Asori interrupted, staring the Pureblood down. "They will attack. They might have numbers, but they do have a Jedi."

Bresix stared at her. "A Jedi here? Since when?"

"Since Day 1." She gave him a mocking, if brief, smile. "You didn't need to know. I have a blurry picture of him, Sith Intelligence identified him as Merrant-"

Bresix laughed, clutching at his side as he slumped down into one of the Governor's overstuffed chairs. "Merrant? As in Lord Merrant?"

"That was his name in the Empire," Asori grudgingly acknowledged.

Another laugh from the alleged Lord Zhel. "He was Darth Zhel's kath hound. He has as much wits as it takes to open a jar. We'll be fine, Asori."

Asori's gaze was unshaken by Bresix's reassurances. She'd gotten Sith Intelligence's notes on the man, and he wasn't so one-note. SI felt the Jedi could sabotage the drill... and no matter how much of a humiliation it'd be for the loathsome Bresix, it wouldn't do her any favors either.

"Only days? Then I'm going to be paranoid. We'll set-up at your base-camp, pull all of my ground forces besides a skeleton crew at the spaceport. It will take the locals a while to realize we've left, and if the rebels don't know about the device, it'll be too late by the time we finish it. Just get your job done, Bresix, and let's this done with.."

4
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Comments on Stories
« on: 05/30/18, 04:37:20 PM »
Thanks, Hawking! Have to keep up the tradition of having all of my characters kinda hate each other :D.

Also Kriff the Rot Worms clap clap clap-clap-clap...

5
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 05/30/18, 01:49:47 AM »
A Jedi Holiday (Part 6)

Sorialas Police Headquarters, a few hours later

"...sounded a little quiet out there for a bit. Thought they just got tired of talking. Then this guy, Zabrak I think, rushed in and started pounding on me. A club or something. It... gets fuzzy after tha-" Corporal Wilings coughed, rubbing his neck. There would be an impressive bruise there in a few hours. "...sorry ma'am."

Asori gave him a quick nod and turned away, letting the medics continue to treat him, her eyes fixed on Lieutenant Gaines, giving his best nervous salute. "Gaines!" she said, going into full, haughty Sith mode. "You were Rhizar's senior Lieftenant, right? Until further notice, you're in charge of Besh."

"Y-yes ma'am."

"Report."

He hesitated. "We're... still putting things together. They left a small trail up from the sewers, that's probably where they came i-"

"Why wasn't that being watched?"

"...w-we had cameras on the approaches. We're pretty sure the attackers had a slicer with them, they must have disabled them."

Asori growled. "How?"

He hesitated again. "I think they were cops. Before we pushed them out, I mean. And most of them were probably insurgents back when we ran this place."

"...Rhizar wanted to round up and execute all of them," Asori muttered. "I told her it would've made things worse."

Gaines took one look at the Sith Lord and kept his mouth shut. It was an old trick any Imperial officer learned early: If the Sith is angry, don't make yourself a target.

"So, they got the scientist. Anything else?"

Gaines cleared his throat again. "...they cleaned out the armory too. Mostly police issue weapons, but-"

"But they're real blasters, and are strong enough to penetrate body armor on a decent shot," Asori finished, muttering another curse.

"They... also probably found the..... holding cells," he said, carefully avoiding the term 'corpse pile'.

"And news could spread," she said, shaking her head. "With luck, Zhel won't hit any more delays and we can get away from this kriffing shithole before the riots start..."

Gaines hesitated, again. Nerves and fear were coming off of the officer in waves, and Asori had to hold herself back from throttling the man. "...do you have any changes to our orders, ma'am?"

She wanted to tear the man's head off, a pathetic excuse for an officer begging for direction now?

...but Rhizar rarely suffered fools in her company, let alone one that would command large segments of it. Rhizar demanded excellence from anyone wearing bars under her command. If Rhizar had a useless officer under her command, she would've thrown him to the dogs. Asori knew that.

She took a long, slow breath. Just an officer feeling nervous and out of his depth. One that had no doubt heard "stories" about what unhappy Sith would do. He just needed some direction to put him back on the right path.

"Double the presence here and button up," Asori said, using her best professional voice. "Make sure any backdoors are kept secure. Cut down on the patrols, they only go out at double strength. You got access to the department's arrest files?" She smiled as Gaines nodded. "Look for someone that's been arrested for slicing. Bet that's who the rebels used."

Gaines nodded back at Asori, making notes on his datapad. "Consider it done. Anything else, ma'am?"

"Yeah, one thing," she said, stepping close and lowering her voice. "Step up. Rhizar told me you were the best officer she had, and right now, your soldiers need you to prove it. Keep. Them. Safe."

Gaines blinked, then gave Asori a quick nod before stepping back, turning to start shouting orders at what were now his soldiers.

Asori sighed, looking down at where Rhizar fell. Her armorcam had recorded the attack. Most of it indistinct, too close to an assault cannon firing full auto, but it had gotten a distorted picture of the Jedi that had killed her. A brown-skinned Zabrak man weilding a green lightsaber, probably the one that had subdued Corporal Wilings. Sith Intelligence might know who he was.

And she'd know what to do with him when she got her hands on him.



Meanwhile, at Gherrod's Corner Store

Most of the cops had left by now, trickling out in ones or twos, trying to look inconspicuous as they hurried home towards a nice hot shower to get the filth off.

It was an option that Merrant was wishing he had, although Gherrod had mentioned that Sheney had offered to let him use her shower. It wasn't far, at least, but he had a feeling that it might be a good idea to keep his head down for now.

No matter how bad he smelled.

Tiln's body was being taken out into the sewers, though. Rad promised he'd see her buried proper, once all was said and done, but he needed to get her someplace cold for now.

One of the others mentioned having to break the news to a kid. Merrant knew how that talk would go.

He shook his head. Do what's right. The ex-cops would handle their own, he was sure of that. Right now, he had a tiny, shaking scientist on his hands, and a scowling shopowner wanting answers.

"Th-thank you..." Doctor Jaena said, hugging herself in the corner. She looked 25 maybe, probably some kid looking for a cushy job fresh out of university, trying to make the degree pay a bit. She didn't sign on for anything like this. "I... I'm sorry about-"

"Why did the Imps-" Gherrod began, before Merrant grabbed his shoulder.

"...mind if I handle this? You should probably make it look like your store's open," Merrant said, staring down the Cathar.

Gherrod stared back, but quickly gave in. "...fine. You can coddle the nerd," he said, stomping upstairs.

Merrant sighed, walking over to the scientist and plopping down next to her. "...he's always like this."

"I know," she said, giving a weak smile. "He gets really cranky if you open a drink before you pay for it."

"You're a regular here?"

"...I came by every now and then. Usually if I'm running late..." she said, taking a deep breath. "...D-Doctor Else Jaena. Agricultural sciences, learned on Dantooine." She extended a shaking hand to Merrant.

He clasped it gently, giving it a shake as he sat down beside her. "Came from there originally. Knight Merrant, Jedi Order." He smiled at her shocked look. "Yeah, long way from the Republic. Long story." He gave her a quick once over. "...they hurt you at all?"

Jaena shook her head. "...just grabbing and shoving. And shouting. They shouted a lot. I... thanked you for saving me, right?"

Merrant nodded. "A few times. Do you know why they grabbed you?"

She nodded back. "The governor was sending messages to me, they probably found out," she said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "They hired me a few years ago. Help increase crop yields, preventing blights and droughts and stuff. Good work, especially during the summer."

"You mean, when all the plants are planted and growing and you just have to worry about rainfall?" Merrant said, smirking a little.

Jaena let out a small laugh, relaxing just a bit. "...yeah. Spend an hour looking over the weather data, the next seven arguing with people over the holonet about why the Frogdogs suck."

"Hey, their passing game's been legit the last few months."

"Oh, kriff off, yeah they can get a few fancy scores but they can't play defense, can't win if you can't hold the mid-" Jaena stopped, clearing her throat. ".......uh, anyway."

Merrant chuckled a bit before looking back at her. "So, those messages the governor was sending you?"

Jaena shrugged faintly. "...I have them on a datachip, I... figured I might need to hold onto them." She glanced at Merrant. "...uh, I hid them... somewhere..." she muttered, gesturing at her chest.

"Right."

She looked away from the Jedi, trying to focus. "...the messages were weird though. The first one... he wanted to know what would happen to us if the Chasin Mountain Range was to go away."

Merrant frowned, fully not getting it. "Not much?"

"Not much? A whole lot much!" She shook her head. "To... extremely oversimplify modern agriculture-"

"Thanks for doing that," Merrant said.

"The core of it is about two things." She pauses. "Three- no, wait, four things..... But, uh, getting a lot of sunlight and making sure the temperature is in the right range is obvious."

"Right."

"Another part is managing the soil, toxicity and nutrients and that sorta crap. Because it's mostly crap doing the work there. It's why the ranchers are so important, their herds of walking steaks turn simple grass into cheap fertilizer."

Merrant sighed. "...I like steak. Don't ruin that please."

Jaena ignored him. "But the important bit is water. The farmlands around the city? Most of their water comes the rivers and streams, fed by the rainfall and snowmelt in the mountains. Some of the farms could get by with groundwater and normal rainfall, but it'd nut-punch the whole farming industry here."

"......that's your professional opinion?" Merrant asked, trying to hold back the smirk at 'nut-punch'.

She glowered at him. "They kidnapped me. I'm allowed to be weird for a bit."

He only gave a slight smile as he nodded. He could fell the tension was starting to drain. "I'll give you that. So, mountains go away, bad things happen to the crops. I don't want to be curt, but is that all?"

She shook her head. "The next message was... well, asking what would happen if the mountain exploded." Jaena shivered at the thought.

Merrant already knew the answer. It was the only one that made sense. "Everyone dies," he said, trying to keep the horror out of his voice.

She nodded. "On planet, eventually, at least. It'd depend on the explosion, but there's a massive amount of earth and stone in those mountains. Anything big enough to make the mountains disappear would send enough debris in the atmosphere to kill sunlight over the nearby farmlands. Anyone that didn't die when the big pieces fell would need to import food to survive."

"...and the Empire's not going to," Merrant muttered. "Why?"

Jaena shook her head. "All he said was mining. I haven't heard about anything worth mining in those mountains though. Unless it's real deep in." She paused, then turned away, digging around under her shirt. "...his last message was some schematics. I couldn't understand a bit of it."

Merrant politely looked away, flinching slightly as an unfortunately warm datachip was placed in his hand. "...I'll take a look at it. Just... stay safe, okay?"

She nodded, looking over at Merrant. "...who was she?"

"Huh?"

"...the woman that died. Who was it? I... just want to-"

Merrant held up a hand to cut her off. "...barely knew her. Seemed like a good woman. Probably chief of police before. Want my advice?" he asked, smiling when he saw her nod. "When this is all over, find some of the cops and buy them a round or five. She went out a hero, they'll praise her like one. And they'll tell you all about her."

"...thanks."

He patted her shoulder as he stands. "...Gherrod will make sure you stay safe. He's a hardass and a smartass, but that also makes him a badass, so he can be useful at times."

"You're going to stop them?" she asked, the young scientist looking very much like a little girl for just a moment.

He smiled back at her. "They don't give you the nice robes if you aren't good at thwarting Sith."

Jaena looked over him again, frowning at the borrowed clothing. "You might wanna change into them then."

Merrant let out a laugh, waving her off as he headed upstairs, the mirth falling away in favor of duty. He plugged the chip into his datapad, pulling up the schematics, eyes pouring over all the bad news.

"...how bad is it?" Gherrod said, leaning on the shop counter, glaring daggers into the Jedi.

Merrant didn't bother taking his eyes off the datapad. "Rocks fall, everyone dies."

"Huh?"

He looked up from the datapad. "...need to read more. Schematics get complicated fast. But from what I've seen and heard, they're going to blow up the mountains."

Gherrod blinked at him, clearly not understanding.

"The irrigation that the farmers use will be severely kriffed. And that's assuming the rocks don't land all over their fields. And in the city. Which they will."

"...why?" Gherrod muttered, his jaw dropping at the news. "You said this... Analas was smart, why..."

He ignored the intentionally insulting name for the Sith, partly because he had his own slurs stockpiled. "Strip-mining. There's something under those mountains they want. They just want to get the mountains out of the way." Merrant raised his head, another long frown.

"What?"

"Their numbers have been low. I was thinking quarter on the governor's mansion, quarter on the starport, half running police operations. They didn't have half there. Probably a quarter."

Gherron blinked and slowly nodded. "Meaning a quarter somewhere else."

Merrant nodded back. "Get your people together, Gherron. The Empire's building something in the mountains, and we're going to stop it. Because if we don't, everyone in the city is going to die."

6
Outside Realm / Re: Solo: A Spoiler Thread
« on: 05/28/18, 10:57:14 PM »
1: The controversy is mostly about one minor point in the film, it's delivered weirdly there, we're nowhere near the "THE LAST JEDI RAPED MY CHILDHOOD IN THE BUTT" hyperbolic territory, don't worry :).

2: God I loved that line. Not only is it a great subversion of the "I have a bad feeling about this" line, it's also just hilarious on it's own. "I have a really good feeling about this!" *does something suicidally stupid* is just a great beat :D.

7
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 05/28/18, 02:29:25 AM »
A Jedi Holiday (Part 5)

Sewers beneath the Sorialas Police Headquarters

Merrant looked around at the assembled motley crew, all of them forcibly-retired cops, Gherrod excluded. Every single one of them was trying to avoid stepping in anything that smelled particularly bad, trying not to smell anything at all and trying to avoid making it look like they cared too much about where they stepped.

On the whole, they were failing on all points. Merrant couldn't blame them, it had been a while since he had hidden in a sewer, and there was only so much a nose could get used to. At least it covered the smell of Merrant's borrowed clothing, looking much less like a Jedi and more like one of the other assorted, recently 'retired' police officers.

They'd spent the last hour or so trudging through the damp, dank and dark sewer system underneath Sorialas City, trying to reach the police headquarters undetected. There were sensors and cameras and locked gates in their way, but the people that had installed and maintained those systems in the first place were part of this team.

The plan was simple enough. Head in and split into two groups, one to rescue Doctor Jaena and get her to safety, the other to reach the armory and steal whatever real weapons and armor they could. Given that Gherrod had nearly forced Merrant to take a slugthrower sidearm with him, he couldn't exactly complain about the second part of that plan.

"Merrant," Gherrod said, tapping the Jedi on the shoulder and pointing at an older human woman, loaded up with an ugly scattergun. "This is Tiln, she's going to lead the team you're on. Stick with her and stay on the damn plan."

Tiln looked over Gherrod with a distinct sneer on her face. "...he's not a cop. Why are we bringing him along?"

"He's an offworlder, but he has a few tricks that might come in handy," Gherrod said.

"What kind of-"

Merrant just sighed and pulled his lightsaber out from under his jacket. "No, they're not here for me, yes, I'll follow your orders, we just don't want to let the Sith know I'm here." He looked at Gherrod. "See? Much faster."

Tiln stared at Merrant for more than a few moments, then just shook her head. "...alright. If things go ugly, break out the Jedi ass-kicking. I don't want my team dying because you want to keep a low profile, alright?"

Gherrod just glared at the two of them. "Fine. It's your part of the operation. Waz, how's the security coming?"

"Cameras looping, even if I can't get a feed from any of them, door unlocked... we're good!" said Waz, a skinny little Twi'lek that the cops had busted at least five times for slicing their systems. Used to just be a prankster but now, not so much, now that there was a good cause for his work. "I'll stay here and let you know if we have problems."

Gherrod nodded, finally raising his voice. "Alright, people. Let's get this done, nice and quiet."

The maintenance area was almost completely deserted when the teams slipped inside, slugthrowers and saturday-night-special blasters checking every corner. The police officers were on home turf and they weren't going to waste their advantage.

As Tiln moved forward, Merrant stayed on her back, and he could help but sense the confusion spreading through the team. The building felt more deserted than anything, little sound echoing throughout, even when the ascended to the main floor, there was almost no chatter.

It was slow going, though. Tiln seemed to know what she was doing, motioning to her squad to clear rooms, check the corners, always behind cover, always going from safety to safety, always with the deafening silence of the building surrounding them.

"...this is weird..." one of them finally muttered. "I know the Imps have arrested a few people, burglary and shit. They've got to have some people doing reports..."

"You never liked doing them, Rad," Tiln replied, but her tone was worried too. "...Waz, you're in their systems, right?" she said, tapping her comm. "Can you see if they have any arrest reports filed?"

"Sure, easy enough... huh..." the Twi'lek said, into the squad's comms. "...no arrest reports. Not even for the scientist. No reports at all. Maybe they're just not logging them into the local system?"

".....it'd be more secure." Tiln mused, although Merrant could tell she was trying to convince herself more than anything. "Okay, stay quiet, we're almost at the main holding area."

They approached down the hallway, checking the corners, staying in cover, double-checking everything until they finally reached the door to the main block of holding cells. Tiln nodded at the squad, keeping her voice low. "Okay. I'm left, Rad you're right, sweep and clear, if you see any Imps don't stop until they're all on the ground. On three."

"One."

"Two."

"Three!"

Tiln kicked the door and rushed in, the man known as Rad behind her, scatterguns sweeping over the room, a room completely devoid of Imperials...

...but not devoid of anything at all.

In the center of the main holding cell laid a small pile. Bodies, nearly two dozen of them, haphazardly piled up. Mostly humans, some near-humans, clothed, just dead and discarded in the middle of a cell.

By the time the squad could process it, the smell hit them, rotten flesh and feces and more, causing all but one of the group to mutter curses and back away, horror and confusion coming off of them in waves.

Merrant, on the other hand, stepped forward, looking over the pile of carrion. Each one shot in the back of the head at close range by a blaster, even Merrant could see that. Some a day or two old, some longer.

"...sweet mother of..." muttered one of the squad, staring at the pile. "...what... why?"

Merrant stared at the pile. He didn't want to be right. He didn't want it to be true. But he also wanted to be back on Coruscant, to be trading barbs with too-clever initiates, to be reassuring Dassalya that everything was alright.

What he wanted didn't matter. Only what was right.

Enough strange decisions were adding up. He'd heard Asori was a 'nice' Sith... but she was a smart one first. And a smart Sith could be very cruel indeed.

"They're not going to be here for long," Merrant finally said. "They're here for something, then they're going to leave. Probably after killing everyone."

"Then.. why do the patrols?" Tiln muttered, staring at Merrant now, confusion winning out over horror for the moment.

He sighs, standing and walking back to the group. "They want to keep you afraid and docile. And thinking about attacking their patrols." He stepped back into the hallway. "Hear that? Nothing. They're probably shorthanded here. They probably have a dozen or more troopers out in front, looking official and important. But nothing inside, they can't support those numbers."

Tiln nodded slowly, then tapped her comm. "Gherod, what's your status?"

"We're at the armory. The idiots only kept two people on guard, we took them down without firing a shot, Gherrod said over comms, a tone of smug Cathar pride filling his voice. "What about you?"

Tiln looked at Merrant, who shook his head in response. "...she's not in the main holding area. We'll figure something out." She sighed as she flicked off her comm. "Alright, if not in a holding cell, where would they hold her?"

"If they're shorthanded," Rad spoke up, doing his best not to look at the pile of bodies, "they'll probably hold her somewhere centralized. Building security maybe? Third floor, right near Tiln's old office. It had all the hookups for the city security grid."

"Is there a holding cell up there?" Merrant asked.

Tiln nodded. "Sort of. Interrogation and interview room. Locks from the outside. I guess we're taking back my office," she said, grinning at her squad.

The stairs were just as abandoned as the rest of the building, but as they climbed their way up they heard soft chatter, slowly coming into focus.

"Patrol 8 is at the halfway point, no rotten fruit this time."

"Thought they were vegetables."

"Nah, round and sweet, that makes them fruit."

"It's not what they look like, it's how they're grown."

Tiln's squad stayed low as they hit the third floor and creeped towards the pit, an open plan office space with monitors and charts and consoles everywhere, chairs for twenty officers to keep a watch on anything that might need attention in the city, but right now only two soldiers manning the fort, their eyes glued to the monitors.

"No one cares about that. Red, round and sweet, it's fruit. Anything happening in the building?"

"Fuck all. And they don't taste like a fruit anyway. Get over it, it's a veggie."

Tiln nodded at a pair of her officers. They drew knives, still staying low and in cover, creeping down into the pit, Merrant's frown having little say in the matter.

"Fine. Rotten produce hasn't defaced our glorious troops as they scare the local trash. I bet they're hoping someone takes a real shot at them."

"Come on, no one likes getting shot at."

"Being shot at is at least interesting! They've spent the last week just driving around doing nothing at all."

"Best part of the job if you as- gurk..."

"...Tomas, you ok- hhhhk!"

The officers held the troopers in place, knives keep in their necks, trying to hold their arms down as they breathed their last, convulsing in their chairs, trying to scream but no breath could come, no panic buttons pushed as they finally faded away.

"Disapprove?" Tiln finally said, looking at Merrant.

Merrant sighed. "Wish it wasn't the best play. Where's the interrogation room?"

Tiln pointed at a pair of doors along the wall, watching her officers return, cleaning their knives. "Right is the interrogation room, left is observation."

"I'll take observation," Merrant said, staring at Tiln.

"...do it how you want, Jedi," she finally said.

Merrant slipped his way to the observation room door. The weight of the Lightsaber was heavy in his borrowed jacket, but... no, not yet. Only if he needed to.

He reached out with the Force. He couldn't distinguish between individuals, not exactly, but he could sense two different varieties of boredom nearby. One tired and withdrawn, the other bored but scared, afraid, worried about what's going to come.

Merrant took a long breath, steadied himself, then pushed the door open.

The man inside was lounging in a chair, feet kicked up onto a desk, full armor but his helmet was off, resting on the table.

But there was a blaster on his hip.

The trooper tried to stand, but Merrant charged him, pulling out the antique pistol and bringing it down like a club on the man's head, sending him to the floor.

A wild swing stung Merrant's shoulder but he stomped down, catching the Trooper's other arm before he could draw the blaster. Another swing with the pistol, catching the trooper's temple, the man's head swaying, nearly unconscious.

Merrant dropped down, pining the trooper to the ground, his hand on the unprotected neck, squeezing, not too hard, just hard enough, cutting him off from oxygen, forcing the trooper to slowly, calmly, fade into unconsciousness.

Merrant kept him pinned for a few moments further, making sure he was out of it, before standing up and slipping out of the observation room, crouching down beside Tiln. "Clear. Get the package out of here."

Tiln nodded, a touch of approval in her eyes as she motioned to her the other officers. Distant shouting and shushing followed, and soon enough the officers exited interrogation, a scared, wide-eyed scientist in tow, creeping back towards the stairs.

"If we can get through it this easily, I'm going to be a very happy-" Tiln started, but went quiet, hearing footsteps down the hall.

"Hey, Tomas, Wick, brew's up," said an approaching voice. "Get it while it's not entirely shi-", the voice said, cutting off mid-sentence in a gasp.

Three of the ex-cops popped out of cover, slugthrowers and scatterguns at the ready. The trooper was in armor, but her helmet was off, and the rounds of slugs and flechettes tore into her head, sending her to the ground with a very pink splatter on the wall behind where she once stood.

"Run for it!" Tiln shouted, the staccato of the slugthrowers no doubt breaking any need for stealth.

The officers raced for the stairs, the scientist already on the second floor, when Merrant heard a door kicked open. The door said 'Chief Tiln' on it, but it was someone in full armor emerging from it, lifting up what could only be a very high-end assault cannon.

The barrage from the cannon tore into the retreating officers. Merrant tried to tackle Tiln, keep her out of harm's way, keep her safe... but when he looked up, her body stopped short at the neck.

Rad was taking cover, another officer clutching at his shoulder behind another piece of furniture, the whine of the heavy cannon taking chunks out of their cover.

Merrant could hear the shouts. Pinned down. Can't move. Someone shoot the bitch. The cannoneer's armor was too heavy, no slugthrower would do.

He grasped his Lightsaber and lept.

The saber ignited when he landed in the pit, the cannon's fire slow in tracking to him.

He rolled left, the Lightsaber's beam batting away the few shots on target.

Another leap, over the full spray of fire. He could feel the trooper's shock now, shock and recognition. She, and it was a she, wasn't surprised to find a Jedi on planet, just a Jedi here.

He spun to cover, the cannon pounding on the pillar he was cowering behind. She'd tear through it eventually, but not yet.

The glimpse his elbow sent the cannonfire to the right, but he stepped out to the left, another leap, closing distance, the trooper only a few meters away.

The cannon turned to him, too slowly as the Jedi stepped forward, each heartbeat feeling a minute long as he focused on the strike. It rose up, into the cannon, into the arm holding it, into the chest behind it, into the heart that beat within.

That cannonfire stopped.

Merrant breathed, slow and heavy, staring at the Imperial trooper. His eyes flicked at her armor. Captain Rhizar.

".....y-you..." she stuttered, choking on her own blood, the black visor of the trooper's helmet staring into him. "...sh-should've... known... it was... you... bastard..."

Merrant stared back at her.

Rhizar... she was just a Lieutenant back on Corellia. Her position had been broken and she was looking to regroup with the men she still had with her, she thought she could do it behind Lord Merrant.

He'd gotten half of them killed, and another third badly wounded, because he was chasing down a Jedi that had mocked him in a previous fight. He didn't care, he got the Jedi, way back then. He broke her nose when she complained about it.

He looked back at what was left of Tiln, seeing Rad crouched over her, whispering a short prayer. He remembered the bodies in the holding cell down below. Rhizar didn't give the orders, but she did execute them.

He looked back at Rhizar, breathing her last, hatred still coming off her in waves... and withdrew his lightsaber without a word.

He nodded at Rad and picked up Tiln's body in his arms. People didn't want to leave the fallen behind. He fell into step, following the others down the stairs, down the hallways, down into the sewers, down to... safety.

8
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 05/27/18, 02:32:11 AM »
A Jedi Holiday (Part 4)

Ten days later, at the Treslanis Governor's Mansion

"Captain Derris, any updates at the starport?" Asori said, lounging in the Governor's chair, only occasionally glancing at the vid screen on the wall.

"There's been a few locals asking for transport off-world. No organized resistance yet, just people not wanting to be here," Derris said on the vid screen, shrugging. "I haven't been expecting much to come around here, and they haven't been surprising me. No incidents worth reporting."

Asori paused, gave her officer a long, long look, knowing well what 'worth reporting' actually meant. She set down her datapad. "And off the record?"

Derris chuckles. "I've had to chew out a few enlisted for 'fraternizing' with the locals. Rotated things just to be safe, but it sounds less like strategic probing and more like youngsters being impressed by outsiders with fancy uniforms."

The chorus of Captains gave their own guffaws, and Asori couldn't quite hide her smile. "I'll count that as good news, then. Captain Rhizar, your report?"

Rhizar saluted, even on the viewscreen, the very serious pureblood one of the few not to laugh at the antics of young civilians and young soldiers. "We're being tested, I know that. No shooting incidents, but twelve troopers have reported being struck by projectiles in their patrols."

"Projectiles meaning what?" Asori asked, frowning.

"Four rocks, eight rotten vegetables." Her face remained impassive as the other captains laughed. "Troopers maintained discipline per orders, no escalation." She paused amid Asori's nod of approval. "Permission to speak freely, ma'am?"

"Granted."

"While these assaults were not life threatening, they were still assaults and have impacted morale. I would prefer to authorize my patrols to apprehend individuals if they are attacked again."

Asori sighed. She had chosen Rhizar to lead the patrols because the woman had iron discipline. If you ordered her to stand at the mouth of an active volcano, she would run there at full speed, no questions asked. But even for a proud imperial, some things were too much. "Denied, Captain. We aren't here forever, and sending soldiers to grab children throwing fruit would inflame things. Keep a lid on it."

The faint flicker on Rhizar's face was all Asori needed to see to know the pureblood was unhappy with the order, but she gave the nod all the same. "The other task was completed as well. Is there any reason why you had my troopers drag in a mousey scientist?"

"Yes," Asori said, staring back at Rhizar, daring the woman to challenge the lack of a true answer. "No need to treat her poorly, just keep her contained. I don't want what she knows to get public, but I'm going to want some answers from her." She looked over at the one Captain that wasn't dealing with the Sorialas mess. "Captain Hainleysen, is Zhel's site secure?"

"Of course, ma'am," the Zabrak said. "There's hardly anyone around for kilometers around, not even hikers."

Asori nodded, frowning faintly. "Just remember, if locals show up, arrest them, take them somewhere safe and then kill them quietly. We can't let the locals know what Zhel is up to..."



Meanwhile, at Gherrod's Corner Store

"...still not sure... weird and complicated... still safe... love..."

The clearing of a throat broke Merrant's meditation. He opened his eyes and looked up at the Cathar shopkeep, clearly not enjoying the Jedi's presence. "...hello," Merrant said, diplomatically.

Gherrod sighed, shaking his head. "Imperials are here for a week and a half and the most you've done is sit in my basement and restock the shelves."

"And eat your food."

"...and eat my food," Gherrod muttered, again. "The Empire's been sending out patrols, but the bait that worked in the past hasn't drawn them in. All they're doing is standing around, looking in charge and making everyone nervous. And all you've done is sit there and eat my food!"

Merrant nods as he stands, gently clasping the shop-owner and part-time militia-man's arm. "Good, we know things. Best to do this Soresu style," he said, carefully ignoring the lack of actual progress.

"...what the hell does that even mean?" Gherrod said, shrugging off Merrant's hand and stomping towards the crates of munitions that he'd hidden in the basement long ago.

Merrant had taken a look at them over the past week, and he wasn't impressed. Most of the weapons were cheap slugthrowers that had zero chance of penetrating armor, or blasters that were either poorly designed, poorly made, poorly maintained, or all of the above. He'd fixed up the ones that he could, but spare parts were at a premium. Even in a good day, these weapons wouldn't stand up to a serious firefight, and were only slightly more dangerous to the people being shot at as they were the shooter.

Merrant shook his head, sitting back down. "It's a lightsaber stance. It means you go on the defensive, stay safe and alive and wait for the right moment to strike. A master of Soresu can spend ten minutes dodging and blocking attacks, watching their opponent, getting ready, and finish it in a single, perfect strike."

Gherrod growls again, glaring back at the far-too-calm Zabrak. "That's all fine and dandy for the Jedi. It's my people being stomped on here. My people that are afraid that the Empire's going to turn on the fire from above or start seizing farms or start taking people as chattel!"

"I know," Merrant said, a sorrow in his voice that Gherrod couldn't quite ignore. "I want to act too. It hurts, not helping, knowing people are scared and desperate. But acting now won't help them. Waiting will help them, in the long run. We do what's right, no matter how much it hurts. Because we can take the hurt for a few weeks, if it leads to a sunny sky."

Gherrod stared at Merrant, his hand repeatedly clenching into a fist, anger and hatred and desperation coming off the older Cathar in waves... until it suddenly subsided. "...you're probably right. I hate that."

Merrant gave him a little smile. "Same. I've had to give myself that speech often enough. Relax, I'm sure we'll find an opportunity soon enough."

"Bah..." Gherrod muttered, before movement above caught his ears.

"Gherrod, are you down here?" came a familiar voice.

Gherrod sighed. "Store's closed, Shaney. Besides, just take what you need, alright?"
 
Sheney clambered down the steps to the basement, giving Merrant a wide smile. "Master Jedi, good, you're still here."

"Yeah, you sent him here." Gherrod said with a weary sigh, giving Merrant another dark look. "What's going on girl, you shouldn't be leaving Thol alone with Imps around."

The human glared at her alleged friend, holding her chin up high. "Tholmir is being looked after by a friend, thank you very much. And if you don't want to know what I've heard about the Imperial occupation, I can go right back to him."

Merrant couldn't quite suppress the chuckle, which only made Gherrod's glower deeper. "Your husband never gave me this much shit, you know."

"Shimoln loved you too much to call you out on your shit, Gherrod," she said, a smile cracking her face. "Well?"

Gherrod glanced at Merrant, who just smiled that indecipherable Jedi smile, then gave another groan. "Fine. I'm sorry. I'm sure Thol is fine, even if she has a schutta for a mother. What's your information?"

Merrant couldn't hold back the guffaw after seeing Sheney give Gherrod a very particular finger. "I'd be grateful to hear the information, madam," Merrant said, trying to break up the too-amusing argument before things got serious.

Sheney nodded at Merrant, only a slight smile playing her lips as she tried to look serious. "Some 'Doctor Jaena' was arrested by the Imperials last night and taken to police headquarters."

"Why?" asked Merrant, just a Gherrod butted in with "Says who?"

Sheney sighed. "I don't know why. Carabelli said she was arrested, and Mr. Oris said the convoy went right to police headquarters."

Gherrod stared at Sheney. "Did you speak to either of them?"

"...well, no, bu-" She sighed at the Cathar's beleaguered groan. "Jenny and Sal both heard it from Carbelli, and Mick heard it from Mr. Oris himself, and you know Mick's not one to exaggerate things!"

Gherrod gave Merrant a long, long stare, who just shrugged back. "We go to war with the intelligence we have, not the intelligence we want," the Jedi said. "Don't you have someone that can talk to the original sources and confirm?"

"...yeah." Gherrod shook his head, somehow getting more grumpy at the knowledge that, sadly, everyone else was right. "And it'd take me time to get people in place for a raid. You think some random scientist is worth it?"

Merrant nodded. "The Empire's playing with kid gloves here. Odd, but okay, maybe Alnas is being smart."

Gherrod nodded. "...the kids nailed a couple troopers in the head with rotten produce, and the Imps did nothing..."

"Exactly. So why arrest a random scientist? Police headquarters is a hard target, but this feels off. She knows something, even if she doesn't know what."

Gherrod nodded back. "Finally, we can do something." He turned to Sheney, a feral look growing on his face. "Talk to the original sources, make sure that they're accurate. I'll round up some of the cops that the Imps retired on arrival, we're going to show the Imps our teeth..."

9
Outside Realm / Re: Solo: A Spoiler Thread
« on: 05/25/18, 05:30:39 PM »
Oh, one pet peeve that I'm just kinda disappointed by?

So, they're heading towards a gravity well, giant space demon thing on their tail, and they need to get a burst of speed. Okay, sticky situation.

Now me? I would've said "So, we've established an escape pod on the ship, right? So, what we can do is have the Falcon enter a sling-shot around the gravity well, going in full throttle, and at the midpoint, we eject the escape pod, giving the Falcon a massive burst of speed as it flies out of the gravity well much faster than when it entered. It's a classic maneuver, nice and simple speed boost!

...........nope. They do eject the escape pod, sure, but only as a lure for the beastie. Instead, they use the unstable macguffin as nitro for one big tension filled moment.

Sigh.

Use real science when you can, people! It's not that hard!

EDIT because I don't want to triple post: Also also: Is anyone else getting really tired of the "random background aliens with no named species and are clearly hugely expensive works of CGI and/or puppetry that have never been seen before and will never be seen again"? Because the Disney era's been swamped with them, and they're getting tiresome to me...

10
Outside Realm / Re: Solo: A Spoiler Thread
« on: 05/25/18, 05:19:29 PM »
...so, I think my thoughts on Solo are split between two reactions.

As a Film

It's great! The writing's sharp, the twists and turns are well pulled off, especially the ones at the end, it was never drop-dead hilarious but it earned more than a few earnest smirks and chuckles ("I have a really good feeling about this!" *does something suicidally stupid*), the action is good, even if the effects take over too much of it at points and I have to restrain myself from yelling at Han for moving towards a guy with a knife when he has a gun...

...but strong, smart, funny, L3-37 is great even if her name is sooooo mid-naughts, just a lot of great stuff in there.

But. There's the other part.

As a Star Wars Film

This might be the first work in the Star Wars canon that's made worse by its connection to the rest of the franchise than it is made better. At least when it comes to my views.

First, Star Wars has gotten really obsessed with "Iconic" things in the Disney era, and it's wearing on me. Han's dice are the ur-example of this because... before TLJ, did anyone ever bring up the dice... ever? I mean, I guess they were set-dressing for the Falcon cockpit in the OT, but I don't remember them being commented on, I don't remember them being brought up in Force Awakens, TLJ had them as a symbol for Han and his loss, which... hey, it has to be a physical thing for plot reasons, those are as good as any...

...but here, it tried to make it a whole thing, where it's his most prized possession or something.

And there were other bits like that throughout. Han getting the blaster, Chewie tearing a guy's arms off, Han making a crack about how Chewbacca needs a nickname, the whole Han Shoots First bit that didn't need an explanation that it was the right move... for fucks sake, Han speaking Sheriwook with FUCKING SUBTITLES that Chewie's never gotten!

Seriously, I want that scene sans subtitles. I'm sure you could've made it perfectly comprehensible without them. Bet that was some test-audience bullshit. Unless I'm mistaken the only times we've seen subtitles used in Star Wars was with Greedo (because Han's encounter with Jabba was cut and they needed to make it clear why Han was being chased) and a collection of Geonosians in Episode 2. Star Wars shouldn't need subtitles for the non-english speaking chars!

...and then there's the stuff that makes the other films... weird. Like, okay, Kessel Run, fine, you want to tell everyone why that makes sense, sure, but now he did it in under 12 parsecs while a space monstrosity was trying to eat him and Tie Fighters were shooting at him, you'd think he'd bring that up too!

Also, L3-37's head got uploaded to the Falcon computer, never to be mentioned ever again because she wasn't there when the other films were written. Or Chewbacca... being implied to have killed and eaten people. Yum.

But... honestly, my biggest issue is the ending. The battle's done, good guys mostly won, Kira's Qi'ra's heading off to join... Darth Maul (...seriously, I know he survives to the Rebels series, but was he really in charge of a major crime syndicate at that point too?), and wow maybe Han helped birth the rebellion! Gasp!

ugh.

It just saps A New Hope's scene with Han returning of a lot of heart. This time, he turned down the money for the right cause so much easier, Kira's Qi'ra's betrayal doesn't change that.

If I was writing it? The nascent rebels would've been wiped out, Kira Qi'ra and/or Woodie kill everyone but Han and Chewie and let them go for old time's sake. Give Han the unhappy backstory needed to justify why he'd turn his back on the Rebels in their hour of need, because these kids in this film? This wasn't their hour of need nearly as much. I... just can't see the Han that puts his life on the line to give some kids fuel and won in the end to turning his back on the Rebel Alliance because fuck you, he got paid.

So yeah. A generally good film, just hurt because it's a Star Wars film...

11
Outside Realm / Re: Editing - Everyone Needs It
« on: 05/22/18, 09:50:39 PM »
Two things:

First, the Telltale version of Batman isn't Batman... he's Bruce Wayne.

There's a reason you spend more time as Bruce Wayne in the games than you do as Batman, why you're given the option to solve problems at various points as Bruce instead of the Bat... because Telltale's trying to develop Bruce first and foremost, something that's... honestly kinda lacking in Batman material.

One of the more minor but interesting bits of the 90's Batman animated series was that Bruce Wayne wasn't just a cover for Batman. In Poison Ivy's first episode (I think), Bruce, as the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, goes in hard against an underling/business-partner/someone who was carelessly polluting the environment, even though that's something that "billionaire playboy" wouldn't care about.

Telltale just took it further than that, by not making Bruce Wayne the mask, but letting Batman actually be the mask...

Second... look, about the English Language.

The English Language is awful. It is horrible. It is wretched. It is the literal worst. Rules are weird and inconsistent, words have bizarre alternate meanings (I'm looking at you, "literally"), not to mention the odd "optional" rules like the Oxford comma or the pluralization of nouns ending in "s".

And sometimes, that's what makes it great.

You should know the rules of grammar, you should keep them in mind when writing, you should edit with them in mind... and you should break them when breaking them makes the work more interesting. Knowing the rules so you know when to break them.

The first line of every (main) Star Wars film, after all, is a woefully incomplete sentence, lacking both subject and verb, because all it's trying to do is sell an aesthetic, like a parent settling their child down for storytime with a variant on the classic words "Long ago and far away..."

To me, the rhythm of a sentence is paramount. Run-on sentences, split infinitives, dropped pronouns and sentence fragments, they're all useful tools when crafting a sentence... and sometimes the effort to make something grammatically correct robs the words of their texture and flavor.

When I (...occasionally >_>) edit my own writing, something I like to do is say the words out loud. I don't write saying the words, so it's something new to my ears, to hear them said aloud. It lets me massage the clunkiness out of some sentences, helps me realize when an intentionally long sentence is just dragging on and on and on with little to gain from it, and it helps me practice my (shitty) English accent. It's not as good as fresh eyes, but it's a port in a loner of a storm :).

12
Outside Realm / Re: Editing - Everyone Needs It
« on: 05/22/18, 06:56:35 PM »
Example: Nick would walk to the door and open it.

Better: Nick walked to the door and opened it.

There are good times to use the "would walk", though. Basically, for an action that might be contested by another RPer and you want to flag that you're open to it. With narrative writing, absolutely, drop the unneeded words, just that it is useful to do in an RP setting.

13
Events and Occasions / Re: Jedi Night Weekly Event Thread
« on: 05/17/18, 01:56:15 AM »
Not a big scheduled event or anything, but Senator Rhybak will be paying the Jedi Custodum a visit to politely ask why their members are stumbling into interstellar incidents :D.

14
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Tales of the Orell Legacy
« on: 05/15/18, 04:47:31 PM »
A Jedi Holiday (Part 3)

Sorialas City Slums

Merrant was struggling to keep up with Tholmir through the press of people, doing whatever they could to get away from the city center, where the dropships were still landing. It wasn't quite the full-on stampede, there weren't enough people for it yet, but Merrant had to slow down more than once to make sure a stumbling woman found her feet, or to point a missing child's head towards a fretting parent.

There would be no stampede if he could help it. He came here to help, after all.

He spotted Tholmir's waving hand again, easing his way through the unconcerned and oncoming crowd. "You're slow!" the kid said.

Merrant grunted back at the kid. "You're small. How much further?"

The kid grinned, pointing at the unimpressive doorway he had ducked into, simple block text reading "Gherrod's" on the window.

Merrant looked at the window, then down at Tholmir. "...I was distracted."

"Sure," he said, the grin showing no sign of fading as he rapped on the window, two then two then three.

The door opened quickly, a Cathar with a scar over an eye and a sour look on his face peeking out. "What in the blazes are you doing here, Tholmir? Go home," he said, before looking up at Merrant.

"I was home!", the kid wailed. "Mom told me to bring Mister Merrant here..."

Merrant looked into the Cathar's eyes, and he could see the calculations running through the man's head. A glance at the bundle in worn, brown cloth. A flick of the eyes at the horns on Merrant's head, Merrant couldn't remember seeing many other Zabrak here. And then there were the faint scars across the Jedi's face.

"...and you did, Tholmir," the Cathar said, not taking his eyes off of Merrant. "Now go home and stay safe, I'll look after your friend." He gestured inside, letting Merrant inside as Tholmir, job done, ran home to mother.

The store wasn't anything too impressive, just the usual corner shop, snacks and drinks and medicine and the general sorts of things you might need at any hour. "You're Gherrod?"

The Cathar grunted, probably in the affirmative, as he looked Merrant over. "Are they here for you? I've got a scattergun with your name on it if you try kathcrap on me," Gherrod half-growled, stepping behind his counter.

Merrant shook his head. "No. And yes, I'm a Jedi."

Gherrod grunted again, pulling an oversized scattergun from under the counter and slamming it on the counter. "Want to change your answer?"

Merrant couldn't risk the smirk, but he was a bit impressed by the gesture. "Either they're not after me, or they're being worse at it than normal." He gestured up as another transport screamed overhead. "One Sith might ambush me with my guard down, get me that way. Or they'd scout out where I was and attack in force right there."

"So?"

"They're not attacking me, they're taking the city center. There's no Sith here either." He shrugged. "We're taught that there's no coincidences, only the Force, but I think the Sith were coming here regardless. Whatever they're after, it's not me."

Gherrod grunted. "...yeah, well, I'm not con-" He turned his head as the holounit beeped long and loud. "Emergency broadcast. It's a bit late," he muttered, watching the figure of Governor Baylen appear, looking utterly defeated.

"Citizens of Sorialas City, as many of you no doubt know, the Empire has invaded. They have warships in orbit, they have soldiers on the ground, and we have no choice but to surrender."

Merrant tried not to notice Gherrod's death glare.

"I have been instructed to cede control over the Sorialas Starport, the Holonet Relay, the Governor's mansion and all law-enforcement facilities within Sorialas City. All trade with and transport to non-Imperial worlds is... outlawed, but I have been assured that all produce goods will be purchased by the Empire for... 50% over the normal price,"

"...isolation and bribery. They aim to stay, not just take me out," Merrant muttered to himself.

"Shut it."

"I know it's a tall order after today's events, but please, remain calm. I will be... meeting regularly with Lord Alnas and Lord Zhel to ensure that you remain safe... I'm sorry, everyone. I wish I had another choice," Baylen finished, the broadcast closing off on his exhausted face.

Merrant blinked at the names, and when he turned to Gherrod, he was looking down the barrel of the scattergun. "Friends of yours?"

"Long story," Merrant said, tossing the bundled robe, and Lightsaber, aside, raising his hands before the shopkeeper. "I'll tell you the truth. Just don't shoot me until it's done, alright?"

Gherrod grunted, but was kind enough to visibly remove his finger from the trigger and point it slightly downwards.

"Alnas is simple. Heard of her, commands Imperial Marines, reports say good ones. Heard she was one of the nicer ones but-" he quickly added, sensing Gherrod's rising anger, "that was a bit ago, and 'nice Sith' is a bit like 'honest Senator' or 'healthy chocolate'. It's a low bar."

"So, you think those are her troops?"

"Probably. And probably good ones, not just grunts that couldn't hit me from where you're standing."

Gherrod grunted. "Okay, fine. What about the other one?"

Merrant stared at him, trying to figure out how best to break the news... and decided to go for broke once the Cathar started to lift the scattergun again. "I used to be a Sith. Nearly a decade ago. Got better. Jedi Knight now," he said, the words rushing out before the Cathar decided to squeeze the trigger. "Darth Zhel was the man that pulled me over to the Dark Side," he said, skipping over the five minute digression about who was truly to blame.

Gherrod's face gave nothing away... but the scattergun stayed put, and Merrant could sense that more curiosity than mistrust. "He said Lord Zhel. Not Darth. Coincidence?"

Merrant shook his head. "Darth Zhel died years ago. Zakuul nuked him from orbit. Good odds that one of his underlings took up the name."

"Who?"

Merrant shrugged. "Only knew of Alnas because a friend... tussled with her," he said, avoiding for the moment what else 'tussled' might mean. "Best odds... probably Bresix. Minor Lord, dealt with logistics mostly. Soft name, seems the sort that would try to upgrade."

Gherrod stared at Merrant some more, tapping the barrel of the scattergun. "Why did you come here in the first place?"

"...on vacation," Merrant said, sighing at the Cathar's involuntary bark of a laugh. "Jedi vacation. Go somewhere, help with smaller problems, try to make a few lives better. Fighting Sith, teaching Padawans, dealing with politics... wears on you. I was trying to stay connected to people."

"Do you really expect me to believe that?" Gherrod asked with an exasperated sigh.

"As Tholmir's mother how her thermal unit's working." Merrant said, looking back at him.

"...we're not in the Republic, Jedi."

"Sometimes means you need the help more," Merrant replied, shrugging slightly. "I'll be honest, I had a dozen worlds in mind, picked this one at random. That holosite with people asking for help with stuff was really useful."

Gherrod shook his head, for once a weak smirk sneaking onto his face. "Don't tell Krayg that, he'll be gloating about it for years."

Merrant started lowering his hands as Gherrod finally seemed to relax a bit. "...can I ask who you are now? I don't think you're actually Tholmir's uncle, he's not hairy enough."

Gherrod grunted, putting down the scattergun entirely. "Shaney and I go a long way back. Fought against the Empire when they had us under their thumb," he said, his face dropping. "Thol's father didn't make it. Not many of us did."

"That's why she has that antique," Merrant said, shaking his head. "You people do know that slugthrowers won't even dent the Imperial's armor, right?"

"We know," Gherrod said, glowering at Merrant. "But not all of them go around in full armor, and you can still put a round into the joints. Did you bring your laser sword?"

"Lightsaber," Merrant corrected, his face twitching just enough to notice. "I did. Those marines probably know how to fight someone with it, though."

"So? Don't you know how to beat their method?"

Merrant nodded. "Yup. Don't get into a situation where they can hose me down with fire." He smirked at Gherrod. "I came here to help you and your people, Gherrod. Plan to keep doing that, just means my vacation's cut short."

"...we'll see, Jedi," Gherrod grunted, gesturing at the backroom. "The basement's through there. And the sewer system, it's a good way of getting around without being seen, if you don't mind the smell. Just have one more question: Do you think they know you're here?"

Merrant looked Gherrod in the eyes, hesitating, thinking it over... "...probably not. Shuttle I took wasn't coded Republic or Jedi. My datapad's on me. Navcom's voice locked. Shouldn't......" He paused.

"Shouldn't what?" Gherrod asked, his tone both indicating that he knew the answer, and that he was regretting not using the scattergun earlier.

"...shouldn't see it as a Jedi craft, unless they notice something I might've left in the shuttle's storage locker." Merrant said, clearing his throat. "...and I'm okay with bad smells?"

------

Sorialas Starport

Asori rolled the purple crystal over in her hand. "This is all you found?" Asori said, looking over at Captain Derris.

The good captain saluted. "Yes ma'am, just this and some rough brown clothing. Could be nothing, just a little trinket, but it just seemed a bit big. Felt it was better to double-check."

She looked around the shuttle. Simple rental craft, the sort of awful little contraption that anyone on a budget might charter. The Jedi would use it, but so might a peasant wanting to see the galaxy.

The crystal, though... purple was used by Jedi and Sith, but the brown clothing screamed Jedi. "You were right to. It's cut for a Lightsaber, and the Force is in it..." She sighed. It could be a coincidence. This wasn't a Republic world, the Jedi showed no interest in it ever, the biggest export was grain... "Captain, Sergeant Henneses is part of your team, right? On sapper duty?"

Derris nodded. "Yes ma'am, she's taking care of the non-cargo vessels' engines right now. Orders?"

"Tell her to only do superficial damage to the engines on this one. I want it still flyable, but barely able to go straight." She lifted her head, looking over the hangar. "Spycams there, there and there, " Asori said, pointing at three secluded parts of the structure. "Make a rotation, I want someone watching those feeds every moment of every day."

"You think it's a Jedi?" Derris asked, doing his best to hide the smug satisfaction of being right.

"When this is over, you can brag about how right you were, Captain," she said smirking at the officer. "For now, do the job." She pauses. "I'll inform the rest of the 333rd officer corps myself. Other than that and those you assign to be watchdogs, no one's to know. Especially not Zhel's people. The last thing we want is the Jedi to find out that we know..."

"...and," she thought to herself, "for Bresix to think he has a chance for glory."

15
Storyboards / Re: News Channel Feeds
« on: 05/14/18, 11:51:53 AM »
Galactic News Network
Treslanis IV Joins the Empire!
In Other News: Mak Doral says that his quad-goal against the Rotworms was "just a dream come true" ... Nima'Kluub: Freedmen Holy Land, or another galactic hoax? ... Strange rumors of events over Odessen, what is the Alliance doing? ... This and more to follow!
The formerly independent world of Treslanis IV has agreed to become a Protectorate of the Sith Empire, according to a joint press release issued by Governor Edre Baylen.

Prior to the resumption of open hostilities after the Battle of Corellia, Treslanis IV was defined as a Tributary of the Sith Empire. Organized by then-Lord Quarasha Ahnshal, this world has been seen as a minor breadbasket for the galaxy, leveraging large farming surpluses to feed far-off worlds and maintain their neutrality.

Baylen, previously the head of Treslanis IV's planetary government, said that the decision to return to Imperial control was not made lightly. Speaking to GNN, Governor Baylen said, "between the unending threat of piracy and the inability for most governments to effectively combat it, it was felt that Treslanis IV needed a strong military presence to protect its citizenry."

When asked what specific incident prompted this decision, Baylen refused to comment, simply stating that interplanetary affairs would be handled by the offices of Lord Asori Alnas and Lord Zhel. Lord Alnas had no comment at time of release, while Lord Zhel stated that "The Empire's only effort here is to protect a sadly vulnerable segment of the galactic community.

The Eternal Alliance and Galactic Republic would not comment on the record of the matter, however Republic Senator Alyonna Rhybak (Feldinar) stated "This smells just like a Sith power grab. If Governor Baylen was coerced into making that statement, the galactic community, and the people of Treslanis IV, will surely respond appropriately."

Governor Baylen Rhees has represented Treslanis IV for the last 12 years, formerly the chief inspector of the Sorialas Starport. Lord Asori Alnas is a member of the Ministry of War, in command of the 333rd Imperial Marine Regiment. Lord Zhel is a member of the Imperial MInistry of Logistics and commands the Imperial Cruiser ISS Zedney's Reign. Senator Rhybak represents the Republic world of Feldinar and sits on the Senate Military, Intelligence and Near-Human Relations committees.

Galactic News Network: Your one stop for news from Coruscant, Dromund Kaas, Odessen, Nar Shaddaa and all points in between!

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