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Thread: IC: The Departed

  1. #1
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
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    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default IC: The Departed

    On the planet Tirahnn, in the city of the same name, in an older, slightly down-at-the-heels industrial/commercial business park near Tirahnn City Spaceport....

    The room (and the building it was located in) was a fairly basic meeting room in one of those bland, commercial/industrial office and warehouse facilities just outside of Tirahnn City Spaceport. The room was filled with simple plastic folding chairs and tables, and these were occupied by a diverse group of beings from all over the known galaxy. The one thing that they had most in common on this day was that it was their first day of employment at FireFly Security Services, Inc., and they were all there for their initial orientation.

    At the front of the room was yet another table, and a podium off to the side. This table was occupied by (left-to-right): a rather large gold-and brown Trianii female, a smaller (though still impressive) black-and-gray Trianii male, an ordinary looking human male, of early middle age, with auburn hair in a military crop and hazel eyes, another human male, dark skinned, with short, neatly-trimmed black hair, a blue-skinned Twi'lek male in robes, and another human male, average height and weight (or just a tad under), slender build, and slightly curly dark brown hair that stopped just short of his jacket collar. His only distinguishing features were his large, light blue eyes, that didn't seem to blink very much.

    The Trianii were resplendent in medium gray battle armor, with a DL-44 blaster pistol in their right hip holsters, and a vibroblade on their left hips; everyone else was dressed in medium-gray shipsuit coveralls, with medium-green jackets, in the style of a "flight Jacket," except for the Twi'lek in his business robes. His robes were in the same gray-green colors, though.

    The human on the right end of the table stood up, stepped to the podium, and began speaking.

    "Let me take this opportunity to welcome you to your first day at FireFly Security. I am Ashford DuQuennes, and my primary titles are co-founder, Fighter Wing Commander, and Chief Operations Officer. Since FireFly is a paramilitary security organization formed by former officers and enlisted from both the New Republic as well as the Imperial Remnant, we use a military ranking system to help people know 'where they are,' so to speak, within our organization. For instance, my FireFly rank is Colonel."

    "However, we don't stand on too much military formality here at FireFly. You don't have to salute me, or perform any other of the typical military courtesies." Ash smiled thinly, clasped his hands behind his back, rose up and down on his toes a few times, and continued, "Having said that, I, being a fighter pilot, have a fragile ego. And I'm one of your bosses. So speaking as such, a little niceness will not go unappreciated." This elicited a few nervous smiles and chuckles in his audience.

    Continuing: "Our basic business concept here at FireFly is that we ensure that our client's ships and cargo arrive safely at their destination; that their facilities are secure. We do not carry cargo, or passengers. We are not police, even if we do have certain, limited, contractually-allowed police powers here on Tirahnn. To that end, we have at our disposal two squadrons of Y-Wings, one squadron of X-Wings, two CR-90 Corvettes, and a company of 'security troops,' or infantry, if you will."

    "While technically we're mercenaries, we here at FireFly strive to be a cut above the common lot of mercenaries by adhering to a certain code of honorable conduct. We are lawful, law-abiding types, and expect our employees to reflect that philosophy in their behavior and how they conduct FireFly business on our behalf."

    "And the people that run this lash-up are: Captain Shearran." Indicating the female Trianii, she stood up and made a half-bow to the assembled new-hires, saying in a booming voice that rattled the windows, "Greeting, my comrades-in-arms! I look forward to doing glorious battle alongside you!" before sitting back down.

    Ash went on, "Captain Shearran is our infantry commander. She's, er, enthusiastic about combat." Shearran looked a Ash, and twitched her ears. It probably meant something wryly sardonic in Trianii body-language, but Shearran was too much the "officer-and-gentlebeing" (outside of battle, that is) to make undignified comments.

    Ash moved on, indicating the Trianii male and saying, "Lieutenant Reakhas, husband of Shearran, our Infantry Executive Officer, and our unarmed combat instructor." Lieutenant Reakhas stood up, and gave a simple nod to the audience before sitting back down. Ash elaborated, "Lieutenant Reakhas isn't known for his verbosity; he'll never use two words where one will suffice, one word when a grunt will do, and head-and/or-hand gesture where a grunt will do." Reakhas didn't dignify that description with anything more than crossing his arms and leaning back a bit in his chair.

    "Next up is First Sergeant Rade Tavers, senior non-commissioned officer of our infantry contingent. He actually runs the day-to-day business of our infantry-slash-security force." The hazel-eyed man stood up, and said, "This wee knockup 'as me runnin' aboot hither-and-yon, but ken ye well, we'll meet bye-the-bye, hereaboots. I've a mort a work to be doin', and few enough hands to be aboot it, so don' be too surprised if I call ye 'cork,' and put ye to gainful employment." He sat back down to a generally perplexed look from everyone in the room, before they worked through his dialect to get to the meaning of his words.

    Ash continued, "And next up is Commodore Oba-Diah Gracus, another one of our co-founders, direct commander of one of our two corvettes, as well as being overall commander of our ship contingent. Tactically, he's also my 'boss' when we're out in the black." Commodore Gracus rose gracefully, every inch the capital-ship officer, and addressed the crowd in soft-spoken (yet clearly audible), cultured, Core-world Basic, "Good morning. As First Sergeant Tavers so eloquently put it, we have much work to do, and few enough hands to accomplish it. I eagerly look forward to working with you." Smiling cheerfully, he went on, "With your able assistance, I may even get down to a 12-hour work day, here at headquarters." Again, a few smiles and chuckles from the audience, and the Commodore resumed his seat just a gracefully as he left it.

    Indicating the Twi'lek, Ash went on, "And this is Skawn'han, another of our co-founders, as well as our Chief Legal Officer and Chief Financial Officer." The Twi'lek rose and made a courtly, expansive hand-gesture-of-greeting to the new hires, and sat down. Ash told them, "While technically he works for me in my guise of Chief Operations Officer, he actually runs the business-side of FireFly on a day-to-day basis. He keeps us fed, fueled, paid, out of jail, and gainfully employed. Since he's eminently capable, I mostly leave him alone."

    "You'll meet others and get to know them over the next few days, and I'm sure you have many questions. For more detailed orientation and in-processing information, I will turn you over to your department heads. See the information on your data pads for work assignments and your specific shift information." Ash paused, looking a bit distracted for a moment, before continuing, "If you should happen to run into our Ewok contingent, be nice to them. Or they might, literally, bite your kneecaps off. We call them the "Psycho-Bear Squad" for a reason. They're really nice folks, once you get to know them. And with that, good day."
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 27 May 2014 at 01:45 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  2. #2
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
    Join Date
    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default A Day In Life...

    The work week began as it usually did with a morning conference of the high-and-mighty at FireFly Security Services, discussing such weighty topics as recruitment, how the weekend was, crew rosters, lunch menu in the canteen, job assignment, sports news, business prospects, was it lunch yet?, financial considerations, and then lunch.

    Commodore Gracus was once again haranguing the human resources department to step up their efforts at finding him senior officers; that while a good ship with a 90%-plus crew complement was all well and good, it was critical to find quality, combat capable officers for the top posts.

    Ash sympathized. He was similarly having a rough time filling out the remaining positions in the fighter squadrons, especially a squadron or even wing commander candidate. Many a capable applicant had been turned away by Ash, not for lacking in any fundamental pilot capability, but for lacking any fundamental combat capability. The process typically started with an interview, but Ash placed little real emphasis on this; he'd known many a fine fighter pilot who couldn't effectively tell someone how to pour water out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel, even if they could accurately detail every single maneuver of a complicated dogfight.

    From the interview, they'd proceed to the simulators, with the recruit taking one and Ash taking the other for a little "head-to-head" competition. This is where Ash truly got a good feeling for an applicant's combat capability. Many an applicant had failed miserably in Ash's estimation. Even though the combat was simulated, great pains were taken to otherwise make it as real as possible, short of actually shooting at each other with real weapons. And many applicants, getting into the spirit of the tryout, grew jerky and uncoordinated under Ash's merciless onslaught.

    He had just sent another group of applicants packing when Skawn'Han approached with a datapad and a pleased look on his face.

    Handing over the datapad, he told Ash, "I believe we may have a solution to your quest for qualified leaders." Ash perused the data displayed on the datapad, and whistled appreciatively. Kodi Morrigan, Corellian, combat veteran, X-jockette, Bone-qualified to boot, stick-time in combat as a squadron leader; Yes! "Oh hell yes!" Ash exclaimed enthusiastically. "Get her over here, stat. First-class bookings, transport and lodgings, per diem, limo, the whole show. I want her, Skawn; I need her!"

    Skawn began to smirk at this last bit, and Ash snapped, "You know what I mean."

    "Peace, friend; indeed I do," Skawn said in that trained, soothing tone of voice that was known to bring the most recalcitrant business opponent around to reasonable equanimity. "It's just that the look of naked hunger in your eyes nearly gave lie to your words. In any case, we also have a couple of likely types for Zylo, as well. Look down to the next two entries."

    Ash scrolled down the datapad's screen and saw two more qualified applicants for the more clandestine side of FireFly's operations, Ra Shaninci, "faceman," procurement and acquisitions; Oan Shanici (relatives?) Kodayn, slicer, and tech...hmmm...yes...Zylo should have no problem putting these two to work, and finding "cover" jobs for them on the "white" side of our books should be no problem. "By all means, Skawn, same offer as to Morrigan, red-carpet the whole way. But now that I think about it, I'm going to run these two by Zylo and Anamiika first, to see what they think. I'm sure they'll have no problem, but they're more plugged into 'that world' than I ever was, and might actually know these two."

    Skawn said, "Very well," as he accepted the datapad back, "I'll go ahead and make the offer to Miss Morrigan based upon your approval. I have a few entries for the Commodore as well, but I'll let him look them over. I'll shoot those two files over to Zylo and Anamiika for their perusal"

    "Fair 'nuff," Ash aid. "Let me know when you have an ETA for Miss Morrigan." Skawn acknowledged this, and walked back to the ground skimmer he used to get around the spaceport, climbed in, and sped away to where the two corvettes were berthed.

    Ash sent an innocuous message to Zylo and Anamiika Byxby, FireFly's "spook" team and dirty trick specialists, for a meeting, and went to the pilot's locker room to change back into the business-casual attire that was the workaday uniform of FireFly's leadership. Ash had barely finished changing when he got a reply from Zylo for a late afternoon meet at his and Anamiika's favorite hangout, a quietly comfortable (and discrete) cafe, Kalket's Garden, over in Tirahnn City's "old quarter."

    Ash took the spaceport ground taxi back over to FireFly's offices, and checked routine messages before signing out for the rest of the day. He climbed into his own personal air speeder, a Mobquet SkyRacer in bright red and white. It was a sporty little two-seater that combined aerodynamically graceful curves with a beefy, muscled look, as well as a cockpit that combined the features of a racer and luxuriously comfortable interior appointments, like the Corellian leather racing seats.

    Ash took to the skies like a starfighter scrambling to meet incoming foes, and set course northward for Tirahnn City's 'Old quarter." The Old Quarter was built in a deliberately chosen anachronistic style of classical architecture of stone and mortar, in an area that was over the delta of Tirahnn River. This led to a seemingly haphazard network of streets at crazy angles, with many a stone bridge over streams and canals.

    Ash found it a calm, charming, feature of an otherwise busily mercantile, modern, functionally practical city, and had spent many an idle hour wandering the crazy quilt maze of streets, walkways, alleys, and fountained plazas, stopping into various shops, cafes, and taprooms when the heat of the summer days grew burdensome. Zylo, and his wife Anamiika, had practically settled there, and took almost all of their clandestine-related meeting with Ash there as well. Ash didn't mind in the least. Kalket's was a fine example of what Ash liked about the Old Quarter: a cool, inviting, homey place, with fine cosmopolitan fare, a good selection of drink of every type, and, above all, discrete proprietors.

    Ash parked the SkyRacer a short way from Kalket's and walked to the restaurant, to find Zylo and Anamiika finishing up a late lunch on the cafe's outdoor patio, overlooking one of the picturesque canals filled with small, colorful boats.

    Zylo and Anamiika Byxby were a husband-and-wife team of operatives that Ash had worked with back during the Rebellion, from his Black Squadron days, when his unit was seconded to a sort of special operations team tasked with procuring illicit tech for the Rebellion in just about any and every way conceivable.

    Both were medium height, medium build humans, rather better looking than most, and snappy dressers to boot. Both were currently in fashionable business suits of conservative cut, even though they had removed their coats in the warmth of the afternoon. Zylo (currently) had short, medium blond hair, parted on the right and combed over to the left, a neat, meticulously trimmed goatee and mustache, and was sporting his round, dark tinted sunglasses. Anamiika had short cropped red hair topping an almost classically beautiful face, with matching red lip gloss.

    Zylo had started as a petty grifter in his youth, as well as picking pockets, boosting speeders, and such. This had graduated to cybersytems, cracking security on secure computer systems, and droids, as well. Anamiika's background was in communications systems and cryptography. The two had met on assignment for the Rebellion, and had hit it off almost immediately, their respective skill sets, and personalities, complementing each other.

    Ash had worked with them on several missions, pulling off some amazing capers, stealing proscribed high-tech equipment and machinery right out from under the noses of Imperial Depots and Imperial-friendly manufacturers and factories. When he and others had grown tired of the increasingly staid New Republic, it was Ash who had floated the idea of FireFly to the couple, and they had both joined up enthusiastically as co-founders. They were, as a package, FireFly's InfoSystems Directors and Communications Directors. Only four other people knew their true roles at FireFly: they were also the Special Operations Directors, and Security & Intelligence Directors.

    Pleasantries concluded, they sat down to business. Zylo began, "So, we looked over the info Skawn sent us, and I must say, Ash, we might be in for a spot of trouble with those two." At Ash's raised eyebrow, Anamiika continued, "While neither I nor Zylo worked with them directly, we've both heard of 'the dynamic duo,' as they are sometimes called. They are effective agents, in their chaotic way."

    Ash asked, "Is that a 'yes' or a 'no' on them?" Zylo replied, "Neither; just a fair warning. I personally think they'd be of good use, properly briefed. They'd do better in dark, squalid places than either Ana or me." Anamiika concurred, adding with a smile, "They might even wind up running one of the pirate outfits you're so interested in gaining intelligence about."

    Ash leaned back in his chair, thinking about possibilities, and necessities. If they were going to be escorting convoys into dangerous places, Ash thought it imperative to garner as much intelligence as possible on the various pirate outfits that seemed to be resurgent in these unsettled times.

    The trio sat for a while in the late afternoon sun, talking mundane pleasantries. Both Zylo and Anamiika understood that Ash was "rolling the idea around" in his head, considering all the angles. Anamiika brought the conversation back around to business by asking, "What's this I hear about Oba-Diah and the ship's names?" Ash burst out laughing, saying, "Who'd have thought that that man had such a sense of humor? But yes, it's true; our ships are named 'Screw Loose' and 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'."

    The Screw Loose was named as such due to an intermittent fault in her electrical and electronics systems that had taken a team of engineers a good while to run down, isolate, and correct. While they were doing that, everyone had said of the refractory ship that it merely had a 'screw loose.'" Everyone chuckled at the rather unconventional names for warships, even ones as small as Corvettes. It was perfectly in keeping with the unconventional nature of FireFly Security.

    After a few rounds of drinks and some more idle talk, Ash came to a decision. "Okay," he informed Zylo and Anamiika, "I'm going to tell Skawn to go ahead and make an offer to those two. With any luck, you'll be outfitting them and sending them off to do their thing in a few weeks, or so."

    With that, Zylo and Anamiika ordered some more drinks, and the three of them sat on the patio of Kalket's to well after sundown, enjoying the wine, the company, the scenery, the food (again; the talk went well on into supper time) and the pleasantly cool early evening of the Old Quarter. All in all, Ash thought, life could be much worse, and things are starting to come together rather nicely.
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 1 February 2017 at 01:00 AM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  3. #3

    Default Prelude, Part 1

    Crack! Breaking the ice.

    OOC: Post’s a really long one, lots of bits I've had floating round my wetware.
    Apologies for the lateness, but the Gray Haze of depression seems to have been winning lately. I'm still waiting on my Obamacard to get the VA to deal with me.

    Hope you enjoy perusing Chunk Ein der Zwei...

    It had been one confusing snarl after another since they'd set out on this mission.

    Oan hadn't been thrilled when he'd managed to track the Originator Code for their orders, a Retrieval Mission clearly stipulating "alive and unharmed" for a rather low-ranking and seemingly unimportant Imperial Officer, came up as one of Borsk Fey'Lya's trusted underlings.

    Orders from Cracken or Drayson, even Ackbar he'dve made peace with, but Fey'Lya?

    In the past year, their missions had gotten increasingly risky, and the reasoning behind them increasingly nebulous. But this one had turned into the Idiot's Array at the Stupidity Casino - with Ra & Oan as the Two and Three cardchips.

    The target was a single, and attractive (to Oan's eye anyway) woman. The "acquisition" was to happen on one of the Empire's resort worlds. Between the forged datadocs & Ra's considerable skill,it would be easy to get in & out. Why Intel would spend a considerable amount of credits to drag her all the way to the Republic was a mystery that gave Oan a migraine every time he tried to make sense of it.

    Their NRI-issue Pilot for the Mission apparently had no clue, or interest in much more than getting there and back intact. At least the Intel / Special Operations ship they were using wasn't ISO-pool issue, but one that had been unofficially kept reserved for them. Oan had repaired and rigged the Lambda on enough missions it was similar to traveling with a friend and didn't much care if they kept drawing it out or respect or spite for Oan's tinkering.

    Surprisingly, Ceria Desvyth hadn't been impressed with by Ra's flamboyance or suaveness, but Oan's quiet and calm demeanor. She seemed rather taken with Oan's eccentric & rather dry sense of humor, and genuinely interested in him.

    Once they were safely past Imperial Complications, the two quickly plumbed the depths of disaster. Ceria was a shuttle pilot with no access or exposure to the kind of State Secrets that had become their usual objective. In fact, the Empire had stereotypically repressed her talents & flying skill. Instead of flying with the higher end of TIE Pilots, she'd been pushed into shuttles where the only time she could test her abilities was occasionally flying Search and Rescue after the battle.

    She was also quite single, with no interest in any of the major Imperial Personalities, nor was she aware any of them had an interest in her.

    Oan had grown quite nauseous. Their orders weren't defending Freedom, nor Justice. They had taken an Innocent hostage, ruined her life, and become the terrorists the Empire had long insisted they were. The fact the she had started on the Other Side of some Political Line was a vanishingly thin Official Justification.

    Upon what Altar their Honor, and possibly lives had been sacrified and to what end Oan couldn't imagine, and had it been thoroughly explained to him he would likely never understand.

    It was more than enough. Oan had already been researching a number of ways out of Special Ops, even the Republic entirely, in case the decision was made they needed to be "suppressed" or even "liquidated". Mentally scanning through the options like a Gambler at a Sabacc table, he chose the best Hand he could muster.

    Ra had remained somewhat dubious about the whole scheme, but chose to trust in his Brother.

    Ceria proved she could back up her bragging, pushing the shuttle well past Stock Specifications to cover a lot more distance within their official schedule.

    At one of their planned stops at a spaceport where calling it "loosely controlled" was a compliment, Oan had relieved them of their Official Chauffeur with a trick he'd learned from someone in another group that had impressed Ra. From there they abandoned their Mission, and set a course for FireFly, and hopefully a new lease on life.

    Ra had put together a detailed explanation of the actual mission, and justified their Official Resignations at the end without being too irate or insulting.

    Oan had shot that off through an anonymous MESTOP account to their regular Controller instead of Fey'Lya's specified contact as well as adding a routing algorithm he'd put together to kill dead time in Hyperspace by analyzing several old (and probably expired) Direct Access codes they'd been given for Airen Cracken himself.

    Even if the algorithm failed, Oan was confident that the attempt would attract enough highly-placed Official Suspicion that the unaltered message would be in Cracken's Datapad within a day. Whether or not they'd be branded with and hunted down for Piracy and Desertion would largely be up to General Cracken, perhaps Admiral Drayson and/or Ackbar.

    Oan was certain if Fey'Lya had his way, they'd be charged with & summarily convicted In Absentia with the execution-mandatory crimes of Espionage and Sedition as well.

    After safely making the jump from their last stop in "Civilization" on Pengalan IV (where they'd forwarded a quick Acceptance, rough ETA & updated "manifest" to FireFly) toward Tirahnn, Ra said “Tell me again why we're doing this?"

    Oan sighed heavily, and stared out into the swirl of Hyperspace. "Ra, we've always worked for the benefit of people who scrabble and scrape to make an honest living, like our parents when we were kids.

    Fey'lya's group is taking control of the Republic and has a very polarized view of the Galaxy. The Average Being is merely a tool to be used to serve their purposes, willingly or not. We've been doing the muck-work for a what feels more like Black Sun then the Declaration of a New Republic.

    I feel like we haven't as much beaten as become The Empire. This simply is not who we are, and I'm disgusted with who we're becoming."

    Oan paused for a long moment to let his brother fully absorb & consider his perspective on the events of the past year.

    "FireFly seems to have a decent set of goals, and actual interest in helping their host population instead of abusing it. We've spent years trying to protect the Average Being from Institutionalized Exploitation. Underneath the Bluff and Bluster, it's who we really are.

    I no longer see it as possible with the Republic nor Empire and have little desire for Martyrdom under either, nor crawling into a dreadfully depressing life on some hole like Garqi or Tattooine. This is the only way I see we can be who we were, who we want to be.

    Sure this whole thing could turn into a fiasco that will kill us. But I believe it's a certainty with the alternatives, and quickly."

    Ceria had remained oddly silent and focused on Oan throughout his Dissertation, and now shot him a look he found disturbingly unfathomable...

    They had arrived at Tirahnn "flying" the cleanest of the Republican IDs Oan could think of, given the small supply of IFF modules they had on hand - Azure Banner. Skawn'Han hadn't quibbled about them turning over the extra credits for Luxury-class transport from their Official Republic Post to Tirahnn, nor gave any complaint of the very late notice of them bringing a shuttle along with a trained and talented Suddenly-Ex-Imperial pilot for it with them. Their shuttle hadn't been commandeered, but Oan suspected once they found out about all the tweaks and "options" added to the Lamb they still might try to.

    They'd been given the VIP treatment, and the presence of 2 full squadrons of Bones had Oan feeling that the first two years with the Republic he'd spent in an underrated, undersupplied, understaffed, and often overtasked Y-Wing squadron was going to keep him very valuable to FireFly's Leadership, perhaps as much as the skills and experience developed with the Foster Corps. They'd even provided him an "office" close to the Snub hangars and Capship Parking Lanes - one he'd quickly turned into a personal workshop full of scrounged bits.

    Oan had long had an affinity for Repurposing broken or scrapped things, a legacy from the duo's austere childhood on Lorrd. Once he'd learned how difficult it was for most people to slice into or effectively disable the "OldTech" most people disdained, he'd focused that ability even further to his advantage.

    Adapting a Clone Wars Alternate Signaling System he'd read about during a long trip in Hyperspace into an encryption algorithm for the now ISO-infamous Toy TIE's control and surveillance signals had, to the best of his knowledge, totally stymied Isk-Isk's slicers well past the end of the thing's deployable lifespan.

    Changing the shuttle's IFF Module to a Non-Intel set Ra had gotten from a "less than legal" deal that they'd kept as a non-NRI fallback and retuning the engines to change the spectral signature occupied a lot of Oan's time. To Oan's delight at the time, the module came with unofficially-standardized hot-swap fittings and 3 easily togglable IDs. The shuttle's engines were bound to lose some performance, but wouldn't announce to every Republic Controller they passed in front of "Piracy of Classified Republic Property".

    The kind of performance the shuttle had been issued with would've signaled to any experienced observer the investment of a lot of credits in technical talent and equipment, easily implying a high-placed Criminal or Shadow Ops connection. Tweaking it would majorly alter the spectral signature making the Lamb's "previous ownership" very difficult to trace, and still be in the well-tuned range for an Imperial-Surplus Lambda - allowing them to comfortably "Fly Casual".

    Given the near-ubiquity of Lambda Shuttles and production factories, performance-tweaking the engines was not only an often-practiced hobby of Maint Techs, but for some of the non-Sienar producer's Design Engineers. There was even a growing interest and availability in Lambda-class Aftermarket Upgrades.

    Oan had done some largely-anonymous personal checking on the IDs. Mostly Harmless showed up on a BOSS "Disable and Detain" hotlist, Merlie Wool appeared rather bland and legitimate despite coming from an old children's rhyme (Mer-lie, Mer-lie, have you any wool?). The third in the module came with a bit of Karrde-style wordplay, Ra likely would get some amusement out of it once Oan explained the whole situation to him and suggested they find a few more "clean" modules to swap with.

    Ceria had grown distant since their arrival, focusing mostly on the shuttle. Feeling betrayed by Oan he could understand, but he remained very concerned about her well-being. During the trip he'd grown a genuine interest in Ceria and hoped she'd realize that all of them had had their lives bundled up & shoved out the shuttle's airlock into Hyperspace. She'd only had slightly less of a choice in how they planned to recover and rebuild...

    As many IDs as we've run this thing under, I doubt that Lamb ever had more than an Official Serial Number. Think I'll suggest to Ra - and Ceria - we keep Miscreant Children as the ship's actual name. Either that or Severence Pay...
    Last edited by Vanger Chevane; 7 September 2014 at 08:27 PM.
    First Law of GMing: Semper Gumby
    Show me someone who has never said "It's good to be Evil", I'll show you someone who's never GM'd.

    Wisdom is a lot like the Blues. You have to suffer to get it right.

  4. #4
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
    Join Date
    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default A Day In Life, part II...

    The meeting, if such an informal setting could be called such, took place at Ash's residence on the outskirts of the upland suburbs of Tirahhn City. It was a comfortable home nestled in the foothills of the Dark Rampart range of mountains the bracketed Tirahnn City to planetary north, at a comfortable (and scenic) remove.

    The main selling point as far as Ash was concerned was the rather large back yard and patio, where its lush lawn and mature shade trees offered refuge from the hectic city, and where the main heads of FireFly were currently lounging on comfortable patio furniture, nursing various drinks amidst the remains of their dinner, in the early evening of the end of the local work week.

    The dinner itself was cause for some comment; Ash was such a notoriously lousy cook that he didn't even stock cookware in his home. Every meal came from meal packs, and while most of them were rather high quality, they were all "heat-and-serve-at-your-convenience." Zylo and Anamiika were regaling Oba-Diah, Shearran, Reakhas, and their son Sukat with the reason behind Ash's propensity for meal-packs and catered dinners.

    Zylo was saying, "He was assigned to Home One during the run-up to the attack on Endor, and he gets the midnight munchies. Instead of heading to the wardroom for a late night snack, he pops out a Quikee-Noodle and sets it to boil on an old engine pre-ignition coil that he'd jury-rigged to be a food heater. He then gets a call from the hanger deck to come down and deal with some irregularity in his datawork that just couldn't wait for morning shift. So he heads down to the hangar, but forgets to turn off the heater coil."

    Anamiika picked up with, "Next thing we know, there's fire alarms going off, damage control parties being commed to Pilot's Quarters, the whole shebang. It was really quite the show, and Admiral Ackbar had Ash transferred off of Home One before morning shift for apparently lacking the simple ability to even boil water without setting his ship on fire. Saying something about him being a greater menace to his ship than the entire Imperial Fleet."

    Everyone (except Ash) laughed out loud, and Ash protested, "I didn't actually set the ship on fire, you know. Sure, they had to pull the carpet, scrub the bulkheads down to metal, and repaint the whole thing before they got the smell out, but there was no actual fire!"

    But Anamiika never passed up an opportunity to tweak Ash over it, saying, "Ash, I saw the thermal graph from the damage control system; if you don't call that a fire, I'm going to personally confiscate every potential ignition source within a kilometer of you." To everyone else, "And that's why this evening's repast was bought from and catered by Kalket's, and why there's not even a cook pot in Ash's kitchen."

    Ash raised his hands in surrender, and said, "Allright; enough already. I admit it, I can't cook. Can we change the subject, please?"

    Oba-Diah and Skawn exchanged significant looks, and Oba-Diah cut in, saying "Sure. I'd like to revisit the notion of expansion."

    Ash groaned, screwed his eyes shut, and leaned back in his lawn chair in exasperation, before responding, "Oba, we've been over this. We can't expand and ensure adequate payroll and operating expenses for the foreseeable future. The money's just not there."

    Skawn replied, "Ash, we're covered for operating expenses for the next year. If we cut that to six months, that frees up sufficient capital to secure additional loans."

    Ash responded, "Six months is all fine, but we're just not feeling the love from the big shipping concerns that we'd hoped for. Without them, and their big, fat, juicy security contracts, we're stuck where we are. Besides, the additional interest will further erode that six-month's operating capital."

    Skawn cocked a sardonic eyebrow and said, "Who are you talking to, fly-boy? I already factored the increased interest payments into the six-month projection." Ash acknowledged the point with a weak wave of his hand.

    Oba continued the onslaught of sweet reason, saying "Our terms, we're thinking, are too stringent. Everyone we've talked to has been fine with death benefits and medical, repair & replacement, and operating costs. They balk at one-half of one percent of declared value."

    Zylo, to no one's surprise, was decidedly on Ash's side where the money was concerned, saying, "That's a pittance against their profits, and it helps keep them honest with the underwriters; they should be on the ground kissing our feet over that."

    Anamiika rejoined, "Yes, dear, and I agree with you in principle. But it's not customary. Some sort of 'flat-rate' commission is the way these things have typically been negotiated in the past."

    "But Ana," Ash said, sitting back up, "that was then...and this is now. The same situation doesn't attain."

    Oba picked up where Ana left off, saying, "What? The Clone Wars were less dangerous than our current political situation?"

    Ash, being a fairly accomplished amateur historian, said, "In a way, Oba, yes, they were. The 'lines,' as such, were much clearer. The factions more defined, and they were serious players, the Separatists and the Republic. In contrast, what we have here are potentially dozens, if not hundreds, of 'little fishes' who will nibble intergalactic shipping and commerce to death, if they're not kept in check. So, taken as a whole, we have," ticking points off on his fingers, "a New Republic Senate that seems unwilling to fund and expand the Fleet into a sufficient commerce-protection force; little tin-pot planetary despots popping up left-and-right; even little 'pocket empires' in certain sectors; increasing piracy all over the place; add it all up and we have a thoroughly chaotic political, military, and commercial situation, that we all agreed when we started this racket was perfect for the services we planned on, and are currently, offering."

    To collect himself, Ash reached for his drink, while Oba-Diah continued, "And we're stretched thin on fighters as is, covering Tirahnn's local space with two flights of fighters at any given time. That only leaves us twenty eight ships to put into the black for escort duty, in addition to one corvette."

    Ash choked on his drink at that, and coughed and sputtered, "Only :snort: twenty :ack: eight?!" Looking at Skawn, he said,":wheeze: Are you :gasp: telling these bozos that it was 'only twenty eight' snubs, more or less, at the Battle of Yavin?!" Everyone demured at that, as it was a known sore spot with Ash. He'd missed the Battle of Yavin because he'd gotten tired of sitting around Yavin Base twiddling his thumbs, and had volunteered to escort a supply run. The Millenium Falcon showed up two days after he'd left for his escort mission.

    "Ash," Skawn said smoothly, "everyone knows, intellectually, that fighters are sufficient to the task. You and Oba have even laid out the tactical reasoning in such a way that I understand it, and convey it forcefully to the potential customers. It's just emotionally that they want to see more and bigger ships escorting billions of credits of trade goods down the shipping lanes. Plus, I think we can pick up additional local work with a larger fighter force." Skawn hesitated a moment before continuing, "I haven't raised this before, as it's unconfirmed speculation and rumor at this point, but the Planetary Assembly is generally in favor of transferring more of their local space security to 'outside' sources."

    Everyone except Zylo and Anamiika sat up a little straighter at that, and Skawn was acutely conscious of everyone's intense scrutiny at that announcement. Even Shearran and Reakhas, who, being Ground Force leaders, had been content to sit quietly and let the business oriented and Space Force types hash this out.

    Anamiika chimed in, saying, "Zylo and I have also picked up on this. It's more of an 'impression' at this point, but Zylo and I concur with Skawn on this." Zylo nodded in agreement, taking Anamiika's hand in his and intertwining their fingers.

    Ash lit one of his cigarillos, puffing contemplatively and nursing his drink, while everyone digested that little tidbit in silence. Reakhas broke the silence by asking, "Would this notional expansion also include the Ground Force?" Oba-Diah, Ash, and Skawn exchanged looks. Ash shrugged minutely, and Oba-Diah didn't react at all. Skawn finally said, "I think that would depend upon how we expanded," and with a glance at Ash, who again just shrugged minutely, "that is, if we agree to expand."

    Ash said, "Okay, speaking hypothetically. Money aside, what do you have in mind for expansion?"

    Oba-Diah immediately responded, "Doubling our fighter contingent, and adding two to four Corellian Gunships."

    "Gunships," Ash said musingly.

    Oba-Diah drove on: "I honestly don't know why you Rebels didn't employ more of them. In a mass-to-firepower-to-crew-to cost matrix, they offered some of the best firepower on a budget. The ones you did have (and used) gave us fits where they were employed. Properly, that is. TIE pilots were generally afraid to go anywhere near them. They called Gunships FATS, for 'fully-automatic-TIE-swatters.' They are fast, maneuverable, tough, and equipped with more firepower, on a ton-for-ton basis, than an Imperial, mark one. A serious argument could be made for the mark two, as well."

    "Gunships," Ash repeated, before saying, "We're having a hard enough time recruiting Suicide Jockeys for the fighters we already have, not to mention decently qualified back-seaters for the Bones. And you think we should double our fighter contingent? Besides, we put four quad laser cannons each on the Nice Guy and Screw Loose. They're practically Gunships already. Wouldn't additional Corvettes give us greater flexibility?"

    Oba-Diah replied, "Missiles. The Gunship's missile complement is the selling point. You Rebel 'Suicide Jockeys' showed me, on a few occasions more closely than is strictly healthy, how effective fighter-scale proton torpedoes could be." Oba-Diah had once commanded a Strike-class cruiser, mostly relegated to military convoy escort duty, but on a few occasions Fleet escort and picket duty, too. His argument, by implication, was the the capital-scale missiles on Gunships would be even that much more effective.

    Ash grasped the unspoken point, and mused, "Wouldn't the additional fighters provide all the missile capability necessary to deal with...whatever we might potentially run into? After all, we're looking at mostly pirate gangs and small-time planetary constabulary bully boys. Not ships-of-the-line."

    Shearran interrupted, saying "Excuse us; I must confer with my husband." They both stood up, and moved off to a quiet corner of Ash's yard, conversing quietly, but animatedly. Anamiika asked rhetorically, "I wonder what that's all about?" Sukat, who was present solely as a courtesy to Shearran and Reakhas, and who had been listening closely (but quietly, as a well-bred and properly raised Trianii youngster would), merely shrugged. This brought the debate to a temporary halt.

    Zylo got it going again by saying, "But anyway, to the Commodore's point, Ash, capital scale missiles are the right 'smashers,' so to speak. When it comes to putting an adversary into immediate, quiescent submission, it's really not massed turbolaser batteries that are the most impressive, or even most effective. It's missiles."

    "As long as the ammunition holds out," Ash rebutted. "And as long as the 'enemy' isn't smart enough to hold guns in reserve for point defense. I don't see how even four Gunships can provide sufficient salvo density to saturate somebody's point defense, especially a pirate group with, potentially, lots of little ships capable of throwing up sufficient firepower. And when did you become a space tactical expert, oh-guru-of-cloak-and-dagger stuff?" Zylo's return smile said, Go to hell, Ashford DuQuennes better than any spoken words.

    Anamiika rolled her eyes, sighed, and said, "Behave, you two, before I put both of you in your respective places."

    "Besides," Ash continued, with an apologetic glance to Anamiika, " the New Republic are already giving us grief over our armaments. There's quiet, vague, but persistent pressure to revoke our licenses at our current load-out. How are we going to get permissions for Gunships?"

    Wth the exact same smile he'd just been directing at Ash, Zylo said, "By saying 'go to hell' to the New Republic, and securing local permissions instead."

    This rocked everyone at the table (except Anamiika; she and Zylo had obviously been discussing this) back in their chairs. Because it would mean, effectively, a complete break with the New Republic on an administrative and legal level. Part of the perceived benefit of FireFly as a service provider (in the minds of those that had founded it) was the somewhat 'close' relationship many of them still had with the New Republic Military.

    Ash finally said, "If we're going to even discuss that as a hypothetical, I'm going to need another drink. Or three."

    Sukat leapt up, saying, "I'll get it. Anyone else while I'm at it?" Everyone held up empty or near empty glasses for refill, and Sukat went into the house to get a fresh round of drinks from Ash's well-stocked bar. "He's a good kid," said Oba-Diah approvingly. "How's he shaping as a pilot?"

    Ash replied, "He's a natural. Needs some seasoning, and that teenaged 'I-will-live-forever-nothing-can-defeat-me' attitude knocked out of him. It'll be a while before I even think about putting him in the line of fire, though."

    Skawn said, "I would think that having those two as parents," indicating Shearran and Reakhas with a hand wave, "would be sufficient to 'knock' any attitude out of anyone." The two in question were still talking quietly over in the corner of the yard.

    "You would think," said Oba-Diah. "Speaking of attitude, how's the lawsuit against us over the psycho-bears?"

    Skawn chuckled and replied, "The magistrate took one look at the security footage and tossed the case, laughing his posterior off. The sight of six Ewoks swarming a vibroblade-wielding assailant and taking him down without injury sealed the deal. 'Emotional trauma,' and I'm quoting, 'is a small price to pay for a valuable learning experience, and the peaceful resolution to a dangerous situation.' So that, as they say, is that. We've had some employment offers specifically for the psycho-bears, especially as bodyguards for children. I've had to explain to them that the P-B's aren't, in spite of their court appearance, the cute, cuddly types."

    Shearran and Reakhas finished their conversation and walked back over to the table. Shearran said, "I might have a partial solution to our capitalization problem."

    At the blank looks from everyone present, she continued, "I can call a clan-moot, and put the issue to my clan. With their approval, we will pledge funds to FireFly for expansion."

    This left everyone even more confused. "Wait a moment; your clan?" asked Anamiika.

    "Oh, yes," Reakhas confirmed, "As Dame of our clan, Shearran has that authority."

    Dawning (slowly) comprehension began to spread about the table. Sukat returned presently with a platter of fresh drinks, saying proudly, "Yup. That's my Momma," as he set the platter on a side table and began distributing drinks.

    "A clan-moot. And clan financing." Said Zylo slowly, rolling the thought (and revelation) around.

    "Yes," said Shearran, a little impatiently. Apparently she was perplexed at the slow uptake of this new information. Reakhas' body language said he was beginning to get a little offended at this perceived slight to his wife and clan-leader.

    Oba-Diah and Skawn, ever the diplomats, both simultaneously tried to head off any insult.

    "Forgive us for being slow," said Oba-Diah, and Skawn said, "Please, this came at us unawares; we mean no offense."

    Ash, Zylo, and Anamiika, being only slightly slower on the uptake, all stammered out apologies; Shearran and Reakhas both visibly relaxed and resumed their seats. Looking pointedly at their empty drink glasses, Reakhas cocked an ear at his son, who abashedly withdrew for fresh drinks for his parents, too.

    Ash cut in over the apologies and sentiments, saying, "I'm, hey, sensitive to the kindly offer, Dame Shearran. And let me say for all, we had no idea we were in such prestigious company. In our defense you never let on that you were such a distinguished VIP amongst your people."

    Shearran brushed it off with a dismissive hand gesture, while Reakhas reached over to gently rub his wife's cheek affectionately. Accepting the apologies and compliments of her friends, she said, "It was not a matter of import or significance; are we not free beings? Friends, equals, and counterparts in this endeavor? Besides, amongst the Trianii, there are clans, and then there are Clans. Ours happens to be one of those somewhere inbetween. Respectable, if not wealthy."

    "Too true, Dame Shearran, and well put." said Skawn. "Still, I'm sure none of us ever meant any disrespect to you or your personage as clan-leader. But more to the point, just what are you putting on the table, here?"

    With an inscrutable Trianii expression, she looked at Oba-Diah and replied, "The resources the Commodore proposes would represent a significant outlay for my clan. But it is feasible."

    Again, a stunned silence descended on the table as everyone digested this revelation, and most of its myriad implications. Zylo and Skawn were wondering how "wealthy" some of the otherTrianii clans must be, if springing for a starfighter wing and a couple of capital ships (even small frigates like Gunships) was "a significant outlay," but not "wealthy," by Shearran's reckoning.

    Sukat returned with fresh drink for his mother and father, gave Shearran an affectionate lick on her head, and said proudly, "Yup. That's my Momma."
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 24 May 2014 at 08:31 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  5. #5
    Moderator: Roleplaying Forum coldskier0320's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 2003
    The Steel City


    “You do realize, of course, what this means.”, Hal spoke into the silence of the deserted room, not bothering even to face the woman seated next to her.

    “Mmm.”, Kodi mumbled despondently beside Hal, staring into her watery drink, “Clock’s ticking.”

    Hal’s friend, and their current host, Uopled had just left the bar, Shallazar’s, after informing them that after this week, he was moving his operation, Petabys Station, to a new location. He’d spent the last several months running his shadowport and black market from this undisclosed location, somewhere in deep space along the edges of the mid rim, but lately he’d been getting reports of pirates, slavers, and other scum raiding traders and smugglers both arriving and departing his station.

    Normally, he’d have packed up and moved in spite of any protests, but in this case, he had a station full of squib with their technology, several hutt delegations who’d arrived credits in hand, and a few of his more rare patrons, who had abnormally high stocks of droids and stolen Imperial hardware. Business was among the best he’d seen in nearly a decade, and in the face of such profit, he’d been loathe to leave the area. But slowly, the envoys of the hutts had been loading their ships with weapons and droids and leaving, and just this morning, the squib had announced their intentions to return home within the next few days...a sure sign that this boom had nearly run its course.

    Uopled, for his part, turned out to be a surprisingly magnanimous host, despite Kodi’s initial reservations. Hal had vouched for him, apparently having worked with him at some point after their defection but during one of the brief spells where they’d worked separately. When they’d been searching for work many weeks ago, Kodi had blanched at the idea of trusting her people and their ships and droids to a black marketeer savvy enough to own his own battle station...still armed to the teeth and (mostly) fully functional...but after caving to Hal’s petitions, she’d hit the InfoNet in search of the shadowport, and over the next several days went through the extensive vetting process.

    As it happened, due to the increase of raider activity, Uopled was looking to offer his guests additional peace of mind, in the form of an armed escort for the last leg of their trip to the station (and first leg out). He didn’t like the idea of fielding his own Z-95s for the job, but mercs were a bit expensive, so when Kodi and her group came looking for work, he offered them the gig, in exchange for lodging, supplies, and fuel for their ships, with a sort of on-station allowance on top, all while they put out feelers for more stable, profitable work among the various visitors to the station.

    As it happened, though, there were precious few leads that resulted from their efforts. Fewer still that didn’t amount to acting as an aerial hit man group, and virtually none of the convoy escort/security work that they’d initially hoped for.

    And now, with the current flurry of business drawing to a close, they’d just gotten the kind reminder that once Uopled moved the station, the need for additional security would be gone.

    While they’d be welcome to stay as long as they liked, he’d have to ask them to pay their docking and lodging fees. With their combined funds slowly dwindling over the past few months, that meant one thing: time to move on.

    “How’re the greenies working out?”, Kodi asked, making a conscious effort to change the subject.

    “All things considered”, Hal replied, “not bad. Not great, mind you, but as much as we can test them out here, they’re passing.”

    “Even the Velo kid?”


    “Hallyce --”

    “He’ll do okay.”

    “Not good enough. You know that. ‘Okay’ is a liability with a group like this. And in our line of work, a liability results in failure...usually of the exploding variety.”

    “Kodi, he can fly. And he’s got instinct. Hell, he’s even flown sorties with a planetary defense picket-”

    “-from which he washed out within his first tour. Face it: if he leaves Petabys with us, he’s the weakest part of our group. The biggest question mark.”

    Hal grimaced as she slurped in an ice cube, finally turning to face her long time friend, “What do you suggest then? We can’t leave here with fewer than twelve, and you’re not likely to find a better candidate. If you do, by all means take ‘em...but don’t rule out the kid just because you don’t like him.”

    “It’s not that I don’t like him, Hal...I just don’t want to see him get lit up on my watch...much less get anyone else lit up.”, Kodi grabbed for her drink, only to realize it was empty. Looking around, she also now realized that the place was only half lit, and all of the stools save the ones at the bar were turned up on tables, “Ready to close up, Shal?”

    “Stay as long as you like, Miss Morrigan”, the aging Chevin called from the back as he lumbered out toward the bar, “I’ve got nowhere to go...kind of like having a few other souls around, truth be told. Stick around, I’ll fix you another. On the house.”

    “One of these days, Shal”, Kodi joked as the bulky Shallazar fixed her a drink, “you and your hospitality are going to convince me to stay...then you’ll be stuck with me!”

    “I could think of worse fates, Miss Morrigan...least you and Miss Ardo-kai here are easy on the eyes. And a damn sight nicer than those gunrunners!”

    After setting fresh drinks down in front of the two women, Shallazar shuffled back to his relatively tiny (considering the chevin form) office, leaving the two pilots, once again, alone with their problems.

    “So regardless of whether our twelfth man is Velo or’re sold on Dray?”

    Kodi nodded, “He’s exactly where he needs to be to fit in with us. A hot hand in Uopled’s Z-95 group, as high up as he’s going to get in this food chain without someone else leaving or getting vaped...looking to take himself to the next level. Should be a seamless transition, though I’m sure Uopled will be less than thrilled.”

    “Uopled will understand. He’s a businessman, and for Callen Dray, this is a smart business move. Besides, he’s nearly over-qualified for his role here, and it won’t be difficult for Uopled to replace him with another down-on-his-luck snubjock passing through.” Hal took a long drink, then added, “You’re thinking of putting him with Sheed?”

    Kodi nodded. Asheeda Naj had been with the squadron for a long time by most snubjock standards, but for Viper, was among the newer members, getting her transfer orders a few years after Endor. She looked the part of the quintessential Twi’lek pinup, but the way she took her piloting so seriously usually caught most people off guard. Kodi had taken to pairing her with new additions to the group early to instill some of that attitude in them as well; Sheed would accept nothing less from a wingmate, and wouldn’t hesitate to let them know if they weren’t flying to her satisfaction. That intensity usually translated into recruits driven to prove themselves.

    “I’m sure Darik and Nazor will be thrilled to hear it.”, Hal added with a smirk, “Sheed was starting to make respectable pilots of the two of them.”

    At this, Kodi smiled in spite of herself, in spite of their uncertain circumstances. Sheed’s wingmate had decided to re-up with the Starfighter Corps, prompting Kodi to adjust the third flight to a three-fighter element. While the other pair, Darik and Nazor, were hot hands in their own right, the ambition and intensity of their new partner was something the more relaxed pair weren’t used to in their exercises, not to mention out of the cockpit. Sheed was the type to insist on regular sim time, above and beyond the regular exercises, and neither of her current wingmates had been very receptive to those demands. Luckily for all three of them, Sheed would soon be turning her intensity on Callen, who couldn’t really refuse. Sheed would get her sim time (and ‘fresh meat’ as she liked to put it, Callen would get an intense welcome to the group, and Darik and Nazor would be able to return to business as usual...likely trading sim time for blaster target practice. Nazor had been a bounty hunter and arms dealer before flying with Viper squadron, and Darik had been a part of the Imperial Military, and prided himself a skilled fighter in any context...and in their current situation, Kodi reasoned, it was probably a really good idea for more of them to brush up on their blaster skills.

    “I’m sure Reshe will be just delighted to draw babysitter duty.”, Hal mused.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well, unless the fates see fit to lead Baron Fel into this station, unemployed, in the next few days, our last seat is looking like it’s either going to be the Velo kid, or someone with only a bit more experience...either way, the greenest hand on the roster.”

    “True...but I don’t want to saddle her with looking out for the kid. The twins are pretty much autonomous...she would have to make a big adjustment from basically having double the wingman to the full flight with added concern.”

    “Reshe could handle it”, Hal asserted, “but what are you thinking? Moze?”

    Kodi grimaced a bit. She was a big believer in letting pilots get comfortable with their position within the squadron, especially with their wingmate...but losing two pilots in the process of their discharge was the biggest roster shakeup Viper had seen in over a year...things were going to require adjustment anyway, so she might as well get people in the positions where she felt they’d fit best, long term.

    “I’ll take Velo.”, Kodi declared, “He will need a lot of guidance, and I can’t ask any of you to do that for me. Reshe deserves a skilled, experienced wingmate, and she’ll be a better pilot for it.”

    “So we’re not gonna be best friends anymore?”, Hal asked, faux pouting, “Years together and I get tossed aside for the first cute thing that comes along? I see how it is…”

    Kodi grinned. While the two longtime friends had indeed flown on each other’s wing more often than not since they met, Kodi frequently had made adjustments to the squadron lineup that allowed her to pair with the greenest flyer, or the one that she felt may be especially vulnerable.

    “Don’t worry, you like flying with Moze...and Vix is adaptable enough to fly with anyone. He and Reshe should be a fine element, given time to gel. Besides, for the times we fly in trips, that puts us back together with Velo, and Moze with Reshe and Vix. The twins fly with Darik, and Nazor flies with Sheed and the other new guy. Callen.”, Kodi mulled this over for a moment, then added, “Sheed leads that flight, of course.”

    “Of course.”, Hal agreed without hesitation, “Nazor’s a hot hand, but in a good furball he tends to lose track of his wing...needs someone like Darik or Sheed to be at his best. And I do like flying with Moze.”

    “So it’s settled then?”, Kodi asked, “Sounds like a solid plan going forward?”

    “Since when do I get any say in how this squadron is run?”, Hal asked with a smile.

    “You know I’ve valued your opinion since our days in R&D”, Kodi offered candidly, “But more to the point: since the chain of command got cut off at my link. I’ve always been responsible for giving orders, but it’s always been within the confines of someone else’s orders. Without an overall objective aside from longevity, I’m in somewhat unfamiliar space. While I don’t intend to make this group a free-for-all, I certainly intend to allow the opinions of every member to weigh more upon my decision making than ever before.”

    Hal swallowed a sip of her drink before replying, “You’re adorable when you pretend to be modest, you know that? Like that time back on--”

    Hal’s anecdote was interrupted by a chirp from Kodi’s datapad, in a pouch on her belt. Retrieving the device, she said, “Continue. Back where?”

    “Who’s that?”, Hal asked, story forgotten.

    Taking the total subject shift in stride, Kodi responded without turning from the screen, “It’s that Givin infochant...Delnor.”

    “Right. Left here just as the Squib started showing up. What’s he got for us?”

    She read a moment, then the slightest of grins broke across her face, “He says he’s been in contact with an infochant working on behalf of a representative of something called FireFly Security. Merc outfit somewhere on the fringe of Republic space, I guess. Escort type work. Says they’re looking to expand, adding a fighter group or three.”

    “Sounds good so the very least, twice as good as the next best thing we’ve heard since Uopled said he’s packing up. What’s our next move?”

    “Well, I’m telling him we’re interested, and to either set up a meeting with their rep, or put us in contact.”

    “This could be big, Kod’.”, Hal asserted, having looked up something on her own datapad, “Looks like a perfect fit for us...they’ve nothing more dogfight ready than bones.”

    “Well”, Kodi continued, “He just said they’re willing to fly us out to their compound to take a look around...and I’m inclined to take him up on it. Worst case, we can’t make a deal. And even then, we end up in the same situation we’d have been in anyway.”

    “I’ll go tell the gang to get ready!”, Hal said, rising from her stool.

    Kodi put a small stack of Petabys Station scrip on the bar, shouting her thanks to Shal as they turned to go...
    W.W.G.D. - What would Grimace do?

    What kind of dust?
    Dirt-laced dust. Probably originating from the ground.

  6. #6
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
    Join Date
    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default A Day in Life, pt. II (continued)....

    Ash restarted the conversation, saying, "Okay, Shearran. This is a game-changer for us, and I think we need to get some things out in the open, just so there's no misunderstanding."

    Shearran gestured for Ash to proceed.

    "First things first," Ash said, "and this has been hitting my curiosity button since we met. Trianii have a rep for being mostly quiet homebodies, if you follow my meaning." Both Shearran and Reakhas nodded to show they understood the colloquialism, and Ash continued, "Yet you, Reakhas and Sukat are definitely 'well-travelled,' and comfortable dealing with people from all kinds of different cultures. So, what's up with that?"

    Shearran replied, "While it is true that most of my people are 'homebodies,' as you say, there are still plenty who have the wanderlust, and want to see the larger galaxy. Reakhas and I are but two such people."

    "Fair 'nuff," Ash allowed. "That's about what I figured, but as I said, I was just curious. Next up: the amount of capital you are suggesting your clan can put up is not insignificant. I suspect you, and by extension, they, will be looking at this as an investment? And also be looking for a return on this investment?"

    "Oh, certainly," Shearran replied. "I can think of few races who would think otherwise."

    "Again, fair 'nuff," Ash said. "My concern is that, tactically and operationally, when it comes to FireFly, you're looking at it." He gestured to everyone else sitting around the table. "I'm, ah, leary of having a council-by proxy," gesturing at Shearran, "looking over our shoulders and getting in our business. While neither you nor Reakhas put up any initial investment capital, you both were exactly what we were looking for, so we didn't quibble. Indeed, in spite of that lack of initial investment, both yours and Reakhas' resumes, and your positions within the organization as our Ground Force command team, is what got you two a place at the 'head table,' so to speak. But you both have been content to let the business aspect be handled by everyone else. How is this going to change?"

    Shearran straightened a bit and thought a second or three before replying, "As clan leader, I have no authority to pledge anything to anyone, aside from my, our," indicating Reakhas, "personal finances. As I said before, amongst the Trianii, there are clans, and then there are Clans. My particular clan is not very, erm, demanding of my time, which is what allows me to travel about and work for extended periods outside of Trianii space; I can typically handle almost all clan business, what little there is that needs my direct attention, that is, via HoloNet, or even just basic messaging. There are other, more traditional clans where the clan leader is very involved, on a day-to-day basis, in the dealings of their clan. Whether it is business, or private matters, those particular clan-leaders actually sit in office and deal with their clan's business directly. Then there are other clans where the title is little more than ceremonial, and the clan-leader does nothing, or as close to as makes little difference."

    Continuing, she said, "I will send a message to the various septs of my clan, outlining my proposal, and offering to act as guardian, or steward, of whatever funds the clan decides to pledge to this endeavor. Some may decide to join in this venture, some others may not. In either case, whatever they decide to pledge will go into a 'fund,' under my directorship. I will then transfer it to FireFly, with all appropriate legal and financial documentation attached. But I will say now that I will be looking at the business side of the, erm, business, a lot more closely; and, of course, expect that mine and Reakhas' 'seat at the table' will be more than just courtesy. But I have had no objections to the business or operational model thus far; rather to the point, I have privately approved. So do not expect me to be putting forth any radical new notions on how we conduct business or operate."

    Skawn chimed in at this point, saying, "What you're proposing could conceivably make you the majority partner in FireFly. No offense, but that's something the rest of us will need to take up at a Board level."

    Ash snorted, and said, "We have a Board? Last time I looked, we had a folding table, and chairs. We use it for the weekly Sabaac game. In fact, I borrowed it for tonight's get together."

    Everyone at that point lifted their sections of the table cloth and checked. "Huh," said Zylo, "I guess this means we are, literally, at our Board's conference table. And, in fact, we have a quorum."

    Ash looked at Zylo in alarm, saying, "Wait a minute, now..."

    Anamiika overrode Ash, saying, "Come now, Ash. A serious proposal has been put forth. We are the Founders."

    Ash objected, saying, "It sounds kinda pretentious when you put it that way, Ana."

    Oba spoke up, saying, "Ash, I know you enjoy the small-business aspect, the feeling of being in a small, close-knit community of friends, and all that. But the sums, equipment, and scope we've already been dealing with, and with what Shearran is proposing, is, as you said just a few moments ago, a 'game changer.' Even if we just get another squadron of fighters, this is not the kind of money a small business throws around."

    "Money?" Ash said pithily, reaching into his pockets. He withdrew some credit coins, and tossed them onto the table, saying, "This is money, Oba. You buy basic groceries with money, you get your speeder recharged with money. What Shearran is talking about isn't money; it's capital. And I think it needs some serious contemplation, discussion, and negotiation before going to a vote, and not a round-table discussion over a backyard cookout."

    Skawn said slyly, "And since when did you become an expert of things financial and corporate, oh-non-cooking-guru-of-blowing-stuff-up-with-starfighters?"

    "A hit!" Crowed Oba-Diah amidst the general laughter. "A palpable hit! He's got you in a tractor beam now, Ash." Dropping his voice several octaves in a credible imitation of Darth Vader, he continued, "There is no escape. Shut down your engines, and allow yourself to be pulled in."

    Ash leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and cupping his head in his hands, saying, "Mixing business, metaphors, and alcohol makes my head hurt. Stuff that makes my head hurt makes me want to climb into the Meanstreak and shoot torpedoes at it until my head stops hurting."

    Skawn laughed, and said, “Come, now. You just bought this place. Think of what some proton torpedoes will do the property values around here. As your investment advisor, I cannot in good conscience recommend such a course of action.”

    “Okay, okay, a thousand times okay,” said Ash, straightening up and leaning back in his chair. He picked another cigarillo out of his pack, lit it and puffed a bit before saying, “I take it we’re all in favor of Shearran’s proposal?”

    A chorus of “Yes’s,” “Aye’s,” and “Hell Yes’s” came back.

    “Okay; fair ‘nuff. Shearran, contact your people and see what they say. Skawn, you can start the preliminaries on expanding the corporate charter?”

    “Oh, easily; I initially drew it up in such a fashion as to allow for expansion. It will be little more than an addendum to our charter.”

    Ash smiled pleasantly and said, “Then I guess it’s done. Done, and,” holding up his empty glass in Sukat’s direction, “on to the next one.”
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 16 August 2014 at 04:16 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  7. #7
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
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    August 2000
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    Default A Day In Life, pt. II (finale)...

    The backyard party broke up a little after midnight (local), and Shearran, Reakhas, and Sukat were riding back to Tirahnn City with Zylo and Anamiika. Zylo, always the decadent near-hedonist, had sprung for a Mobquet Grand Phantom Ultra Deluxe, an airspeeder that, if it were any bigger, would qualify as a limousine. In fact, many a rental agency used them for just that. As such, the (not really large, but not exactly small, either) Trianii had room enough for a riot in the rear passenger compartment.

    The group had been riding in tired, contemplative silence, when Reakhas, uncharacteristically, started a new conversation.

    To Zylo and Anamiika, he said, “I understand you two worked with Colonel DuQuennes during the Rebellion.”

    Anamiika replied, “Yes, that’s right. We were a sort of ad-hoc special operations team tasked with locating and procuring proscribed technology and equipment. Ash, and his Black Squadron, got assigned to us for missions where ‘direct procurement’ was called for. The Y-Wing’s ion cannons were ideally suited for disabling target ships and freighters for boarding and commandeering.”

    Reakhas pondered that for a moment, before observing, “He seems to be an, ah, forceful personality.”

    Zylo and Anamiika laughed at this, and Zylo said, “Well, he is a fighter pilot. An attack fighter pilot, at that. Not the sort to sit quietly by and wait for things to happen.”

    Shearran joined the conversation, asking, “I’ve heard him make the distinction between pilots, and fighter pilots, often while turning away applicants. You just made another distinction, there, with ‘attack' fighter pilot. I think, by context, I understand the distinction, but could you elaborate some?”

    Anamiika replied, “Well, to paraphrase what you observed about Trianii clans a while ago, there are pilots, and then there are fighter pilots. Many fine, skilled, qualified, and experienced pilots wouldn’t last thirty seconds in combat. They just don’t have ‘it,’ that combination of situational awareness, courage, instinct, aggressiveness, and all that stuff, that separates combatants from non-combatants.”

    Shearran agreed, saying, “Yes, I too have observed this amongst warriors, of the infantry variety. It only makes sense that many of the same attributes would apply to fighter pilots as well.”

    Zylo said, “Very true. But an attack fighter pilot takes all that standard, gung-ho, do-or-die fighter pilot stuff, and takes it to whole new level.”

    Shearran and Reakhas were digesting this, when Sukat joined the conversation, asking, “What was he like, during the Rebellion?”

    Again, Zylo and Anamiika laughed out loud before Anamiika replied, “His in-service nickname was ‘Wild Child,’ or sometimes ‘Brat,’ depending upon whom you talked to.”

    Zylo concurred, adding, “And other, less complimentary epithets applied as well. Ash had a singular ability for getting on his superior’s bad sides, on numerous occasions. There are plenty of higher ranking New Republic officers who said ‘good riddance’ the day Ash tendered his resignation.”

    “How so?” Sukat prompted.

    Anamiika said “Well, you know how he missed the battle of Yavin, yes?”

    “Just that he had, not the how,” said Reakhas.

    “Well,” said Zylo, “therein lies a tale…”

    Yavin IV, Rebel Alliance Headquarters, Back When…

    Without knocking, or invitation, Ash walked into his superior’s office, and, without preamble, announced, “Dutch, I’m going stir-crazy, here. Tell me you got something, anything, for me to do.”

    Commander Jon “Dutch” Vanders looked up from his conversation with Davish “Pops” Krail, and said, “You do know, Lieutenant, that it is customary to at least knock before entering your CO’s office?”

    Ash reached behind him, and knocked twice on the door sill. “There. Military protocol satisfied. C’mon, Dutch, gimme something. I can’t play another hand of Sabaac without pulling out my hair.”

    Pops chimed in, saying, “You know, kid, you could be enjoying the downtime, while you have it. In this line of work, you never know when it’ll be your last. Go outside, breathe the air, run barefoot through the grass, count the clouds, or stars, or whatever.”

    Ash waved off the advice dismissively, addressing Dutch, “There’s got to be something, a patrol, an attack, something I can do.”

    “There’s always Turnip Patrol,” Dutch offered. Turnip Patrol was the derogatory nickname the fighter pilots had given to supply convoy escort duty. It was considered the most boring duty for a fighter pilot, especially since the supply convoys were routed in such a way that Imperial entanglements were virtually nonexistent. It was almost a punishment duty. But that didn’t deter Ash.

    “Fair ‘nuff,” he said, “Turnip Patrol it is.”

    Dutch told him, “Report to the Command Center. Your name will be on the roster by the time you arrive.”

    “Yes sir, your Dutchness, sir!” Ash snapped off a salute, did a parade-ground about-face, and hurried off to the base’s Command Center.

    Behind him, Dutch and Pops traded knowing looks, and Pops said, “Kids.”

    Back in the present…

    Anamiika was saying, “The Millenium Falcon arrived two days after Ash left for ‘Turnip Patrol,’ with Princess Leia and the astromech, R2-D2, that was carrying the stolen Death Star plans. They analyzed the data, found a weakness, and when the Death Star showed up, the remaining fighters went out to meet it. And they defeated it, at the cost of ninety percent casualties amongst the fighter force, including his mentors and friends Dutch and Pops.”

    Zylo continued, “When Ash got back to Yavin Base, he was devastated. Not just for missing the battle of the millennium; I doubt that that was much of a factor. No, what tore him up was losing so many friends, and a healthy dose of survivor’s guilt.”

    Anamiika agreed, saying, “He very nearly had a breakdown over it. But what started him down the road to being a problem for his superiors was what happened after the award ceremony….”

    Yavin IV, Rebel Alliance Headquarters, Back When…

    The Rebel Alliance didn’t run much towards any kind of luxuries for its people; just getting food and other necessary supplies was trouble enough. But for special occasions, there was always a little something kept in reserve. And thus the post-battle, post-funeral, post-ceremony victory celebration was in mixed spirits, literally and figuratively. And Lieutenant Ashford DuQuennes was deeper in his cups than he should be, given his frayed emotional state.

    “Who in the blazes is Luke-freaking-Skywalker?” he asked loudly in the Pilot’s Ready Room.

    One of the other pilots from the Turnip Patrol, Lieutenant Bruck “Puck” Panib, told him, “Ash, take it easy, man. It’s done. Drink to their memories, and let it go.”

    “Let it go, he says,“ Ash said to the ceiling. “Let it go. I’ll let it go, alright. I’ll let it go right through me.” With this, he reached, unsteadily, for the bottle of near-rotgut they were sharing. Disdaining a glass, he pulled, long and deep, straight from the bottle. Setting the bottle back down on the table with exaggerated, drunken care, he said to no one in particular, “So, somebody, anybody, tell me, what happened.”

    One of the other pilots present, an X-jock by the name of Antilles that Ash was friends with, gave Ash a concise run-down of the battle.

    Ash looked at Wedge with frank incredulity, before drunkenly bellowing, “What mentally deficient cretin thought up that absolutely idiotic battle plan?”

    A dead silence descended on the Pilot’s Ready Room. Ash noticed several large, mortified pairs of eyes directed to the door to the ready room, behind him. Turning slowly in his chair, Ash saw General Jan Dodonna and Commander Vanden Willard standing in the doorway.

    "Well, sh..."

    Back in the present…

    “And that, as they say, was that.” Anamiika told the Trianii. “Ash was marked; a ‘disrespectful, insensitive, loud-mouthed, know-it-all.’ General Dodonna let the incident slide, so to speak, and put it down to grief compounded by alcohol. Plus, Ash had, ah, distinguished himself while out on Turnip Patrol…”

    Turnip Patrol, Back When…

    Two days into Turnip Patrol, and Ash was already sorry he had volunteered. Sitting for days on end in a Y-Wing cockpit was not the vacation from boredom he’d though it would be. At least his backseater, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Flynn Melvar, was a decent, agreeable sort.

    Turnip Patrol was mostly safe, due to the Alliance’s system for routing freight convoys. What happened was that an inbound freight convoy, with fighter escort and an empty passenger shuttle, would meet up with the receiving unit in the deepest of deep space. The receiving unit would meet them, with a fighter escort and a passenger shuttle full of ship’s crew. The freight convoy’s crew would board their empty shuttle, and leave. The receiving unit’s passenger shuttle would then dock with the empty freighters, disgorge the ship’s crews, who would then fly the fully-loaded freighters back to whatever base they had originated from.

    The inbound convoy had arrived three hours ago, and the inbound crews had boarded their shuttle and left. The Yavin Base crew was in the process of boarding the freighters, and setting up the coordinates in the various ships’ navigation computers for the trip back to Yavin Base.

    GM3C Melvar was regaling Ash with the conventional wisdom that admonished about getting what you asked for when the entire situation went right into the latrine. Over the subspace comms came the almost panicked call, “Hyperspace emergence! Danger close!!

    Ash’s eyes flicked immediately to his scope. Carrack-class light cruiser, twelve turbolasers, four batteries of three, twenty P-D cannons, four batteries of five, four TIE-class fighters, external racks, oh happy day! The thought flitted though his mind in an eye blink, on a near-instinctive level.

    Ash kicked the Meanstreak’s engines to full attack speed and brought his ship around smartly, lining up on the Carrack.

    “Uh, Boss?” GM3C Melvar asked.

    “Shields full front, stat!” was all Ash had time to say. He switched his armament selection to torpedoes, and didn’t wait for target lock; he just lined up his gunnery pip on the Carrack and let his first torpedo fly. Closing rapidly on the light cruiser, they slowly awakened up to the fact that they were the ones under attack. The Carrack’s shields were already up, and sporadic turbolaser fire floated out to meet the incoming Y-Wing, green fireflies twinkling in the black of deepest space.

    Ash loosed a second, and then a third torpedo, and rode in right behind them, jinking to avoid the thickening fire. Behind him, GM3C Melvar had frantically brought the Meanstreak’s shields on-line, switching them to double-front, and began bringing the fighter’s electronic counter-measures systems on-line.

    Ash stopped jinking long enough to let a fourth and fifth torpedo fly before resuming his evasive maneuvers. One of the gunners on the Carrack was awake, and let a powerful turbolaser blast go that would have blotted the Meanstreak clear out of existence, if Ash hadn’t put his fighter somewhere else when said turbolaser blast came by.

    The Carrack’s forward point-defense laser cannons opened up on the first torpedo as it came into range, but proton torpedoes were small, hard-to-hit targets, and Ash’s attack had come so swiftly on the heels of their hyperspace emergence that the point-defense gunners hadn’t had time for target acquisition, or good target locks. The first torpedo floated right through the sporadic point-defense fire and impacted on the Carrack’s shields spectacularly.

    The explosion rocked the light cruiser, and the resultant radiation made a momentary hash of both the turbolaser’s and the point-defense cannon’s fire control systems, and a moment was all that was needed.

    Torpedoes two and three impacted one after the other in near simultaneity; the cruiser’s shields still held, but the torpedoes did impact near the cruiser’s notoriously large bridge viewport, and the Carrack’s bridge crew threw themselves to the deck in instinctive reaction to the massive concussions, as well as the roiling fireballs washing over the bridge’s viewport.

    Torpedoes four and five impacted a few seconds later; the Carrack’s forward shields flared, and died under the double impact.

    The Carrack-class light cruiser also had a notoriously tough hull; the fifth torpedo did very little damage.

    Ash wasn’t sticking around to do a damage assessment; he drove under the torpedo’s fireball, switching to laser cannons. GM3C Melvar grabbed the yoke to the ion cannons, and let fly several blasts. At this range, he couldn’t miss.

    Ash was aware of Melvar’s attempts to join the fray, but had his own targets in mind, thinking rapidly, external racks, four TIE-class fighters, yep, there they are. Lining up the lowest fighter in the rack in his gun sight, Ash depressed the trigger and spewed blasts from his laser cannons as fast as they would cycle, walking his fire up the TIE rack. The first TIE fighter, having just detached from its launch rack, exploded without ever having seen its attacker.

    The second TIE fighter pilot was reaching frantically for the release controls when he saw the Meanstreak boring in on him, and switched instead to a frantic grab at the ejection handle; the consequence of which, he did nothing but die as Ash’s fire walked up the rack, and right through the second fighter’s front view port. His hits also disbaled the fighter rack, putting an end to the cruiser's attempts to get any more fighters into space.

    Ash was past the cruiser’s fighter rack, and he spun the Meanstreak through three axes simultaneously, pointing his engines at the cruiser and speeding away in mad, evasive gyrations. “Shields rear!” he snapped, watching angry green death follow him. But those gunners should have been paying closer attention elsewhere.

    Ash’s wingman, Lieutenant Bruck “Puck” Panib, was at first dumbfounded at Ash’s insane attack, but had (reluctantly) followed Ash about ten seconds after Ash took off for the cruiser. The cruiser’s command and bridge crew had just picked themselves up from the deck when the first volley of torpedoes from Lieutenant Panib again impacted the front of the cruiser, knocking the bridge crew back to the deck.

    These did considerably more damage than Ash’s hasty, off-the-cuff attacks; warning lights flashed, and damage alarms blared, on the cruiser’s bridge. Unfortunately for the bridge crew, the second volley of torpedoes from Lieutenant Panib made it impossible for the cruiser’s bridge crew to hear the alarms, or see the flashing warning lights.

    Because sound doesn’t propagate well in vacuum.

    And the bridge crew was floating away from their ship with an appreciable velocity imparted by the explosive decompression caused by the rupture of their large (notoriously so) bridge viewport.

    Back in the present…

    “You see,” Anamiika was saying, “when a ship emerges from hyperspace, there's a brief window when its sensors are a total hash. Say, five to fifteen seconds, depending upon local conditions, sensor quality, and the skill of the person or persons manning them. Ash realized, almost instantly, given the range to target, and the nature of the target itself, that he had a very narrow window of opportunity to get in ‘first licks,’ but only if he attacked immediately.”

    Zylo nodded, adding, “If that cruiser had been further away, they would have had time for their sensors and fire control systems to clear up from hyperspace emergence, and they could have engaged Ash more effectively; probably much more. If they had been closer, the cruiser’s gunners probably could’ve picked up the fighter’s on visual, and, maybe, fended them off.”

    Anamiika concluded, “As it was, they did enough damage on those first passes to blind and cripple that cruiser. Between the two of them, Ash and Puck circled around and pounded it to scrap with repeated torpedo volleys.”

    Zylo told them, “When they got back to Yavin Base and reported the encounter, no one believed them, even with their fighter’s sensor logs to back them up. But the freighter crews saw, and recorded, the whole thing. So as ticked off as General Dodonna was at Ash, he really couldn’t do too much, except pin a medal on Ash, too. And then tell Personnel that Ashford DuQuennes was to never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, be assigned to any unit he, the General, commanded.”

    Turning in her seat to face the three Trianii, as Zylo brought the airspeeder down towards the landing pad on the roof of the residential tower the Trianii lived in, Anamiika told them, “And that was the beginning of Ash’s, ah, ‘colorful career’ as a fighter pilot for the Rebel Alliance.”

    Zylo set the airspeeder down on the tower’s landing pad, and he also turned in his seat to address the three Trianii directly, saying, “Ash has simulated the Death Star attack dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, using his tactics and battle plan. If I recall correctly, the worst outcome he experienced was seven X-Wings killed, no Y-Wing losses, and the Death Star destroyed on the first pass on the exhaust port.”

    Sukat's eyes were huge. Zylo keyed the passenger compartment’s door open as Anamiika looked Sukat dead in the eye before telling him, “So, rocket-socks, if you want to be a fighter pilot, and think Ash is the person to teach you, just remember that on the day he was born, some capricious deity of war stamped the motto ‘Lead, Follow, or Get-The-Hell-Out-of-My-Way’ on his soul.”

    The three Trianii climbed out of the passenger compartment. Shearran hesitated for a moment in the airspeeder’s hatch, and turned back to Zylo and Anamiika, asking, “What was Ash’s tactical solution?”

    Zylo suggested, “Ask him.”

    Ash's back yard...

    Ash was having his final drink and cigarillo for the evening. He had turned off the backyard's external lights, dragged a lawn chair out into the middle of the yard, and settled into it, reclining it back until he was looking at the sky. Kicking off his sandals, he ran his feet and toes through the grass beneath him, luxuriating in the sensation.

    Looking up at the twinkling stars, Ash raised his drink to them, thinking, You were right, Pops. You were right.

    ETA: Happy Memorial Day
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 28 November 2014 at 02:45 PM. Reason: continuity revision
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  8. #8
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
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    Default FireFly: Genesis (aka, "Lookin' For The Door...") pt. I

    Two years ago…

    "Puck, what are we doing here?"

    Colonel Ashford DuQuennes, CO, Espilon Base Fighter Wing, CO, 467th Fighter Squadron (Attack) ("The Black Aces"), addressed this to Lieutenant Colonel Bruck "Puck" Panib, XO, 467th Fighter Squadron (Attack) ("The Black Aces"), over a dilapidated and scuffed table in the Pilot's Ready Room of Epsilon Base.

    Epsilon Base was located on LV-8275, aka "Perfection;" a nowhere planet in a nowhere system in a nowhere sector, about midway between the Parelmian Run and the Daragon Trail, a little core ward of the Gordian Reach. As a system and a planet (or even a sector), there was nothing there to recommend it to anyone. No significant mineral wealth, no significant agricultural prospects, no significant commercial or mercantile activity, just the occasional tramp freighter dropping in (to either drop off a load of the cheapest consumer goods, or attempt to locate a cargo that would make it worth their while to have even bothered), servicing the scattered pockets of hardscrabble settlers who had come here looking for a little patch of dirt to call their own.

    Said dirt being so worthless that the Empire had, in their day, done little more than drop in from time-to-time to make sure that it was, more-or-less, still where they had left it.

    The dilapidated, scuffed table was typical of Epsilon Base. It was an assemblage of cast-off near-junk left over from the days of the Rebel Alliance. Composed of pre-fabricated buildings, it was equipped with old bunks, old mattresses, old tables, old chairs, etc, none of which was much more than “serviceable, at best” when it was all the Alliance had. It was a thoroughly depressing place.

    The lack of any significant mineral wealth on Perfection had not dissuaded the numerous two-for-a-credit mining outfits from trying their respective hands at mining on Perfection, and Epsilon Base was adjacent to one of the perpetually, perennially, “almost played out” mine heads. The current mining operation was so pathetic (being almost entirely comprised of desperately poor contract-laborers) that the shantytown of bars, brothels, and pawn shops that almost any mining operation had was even more moribund than Ash’s mood.

    Puck looked up from the bored semi-trance that he’d achieved in order to pass the time without running screaming from the base, and replied, “Protecting the New Republic.” Ash had known Puck long enough that, even though the words were spoken with bland sincerity, they were in fact dripping with irony.

    Epsilon Base was symptomatic of the New Republic Defense Force for the last few years. Take its CO, for example; General Onoma was a capable enough military administrator, if all you were concerned with was thoroughly and correctly ‘dotting the i’s’ and ‘crossing the t’s’ on your datawork. The base was fully stocked with the mandated allocation of fuel, food, ships, personnel, armaments, and parts. It was General Onoma’s point-of-pride that their actual inventory deviated from the allocated levels by less than 0.6%. His posted “Goal of the Month” was to bring that number down to 0.5%, or less.

    That looked and sounded impressive, until you realized what this meant for operational reality. For instance, of the twenty-four Y-Wings assigned to Epsilon Base, seven were down- checked for various parts problems. Two more looked likely to join them in the near future. Ash had sufficient parts in his squadron’s inventories to remedy this, but the last time he had used parts from his allocated inventory General Onoma had written him an official Letter of Warning for “Failure To Comply With Mandated Logistical Requirements.” A Letter of Warning was one step down from a Letter of Reprimand; it was a notice to an officer of some deficiency in their behavior or performance, and an admonishment to come correct, stat.

    So Ash had had to send a Supply Requisition off to Starfighter Command on Coruscant (Epsilon Base didn’t rate a Sector Command); which, since General Onoma approved all outbound official correspondence, got tagged lowest priority.

    It had waited in the outbound message queue until the monthly supply shuttle had arrived with the groceries before going out.

    A month later, Ash had received his reply from Starfighter Command, which had three main points for Ash’s direct notice:

    1. Why can’t you use the parts out of your allocated inventory?
    2. Why is your OR (Operational Readiness) at only 71%? (In reality, it was now at 62.5%; those two questionable fighters? Down.)
    3. Get your act together, get your ships fixed, or face official Administrative Action! (At best, a Letter of Reprimand; at worst, being Relieved for Cause.)

    Some days, it just didn’t seem worth the effort to get out of bed.

    And then there was the actual, operational situation at Epsilon Base. Not long after Ash arrived to take command of the base’s starfighter wing, he had drawn up plans for a good patrol pattern around Perfection, and the neighboring systems in the sector.

    General Onoma had called him on the carpet, and had explained, as if to an idiot, that that level of fuel expenditure was unsustainable. In point of fact, it was very sustainable given their current level of fuel bunkerage and the typical amounts delivered; the allocated fuel and routine delivery was predicated on patrolling the area! When Ash had, respectfully, pointed that out, the General had merely shaken his head wearily, and informed Ash that, alas, he was obviously going to have to assume direct operational control of the starfighter contingent.

    Since then, the lone X-Wing squadron flew one three- or four-ship flight of ships on patrol around Perfection for a single eight-hour shift per day, from 0800 to 1600, local. Said patrol to consist of the fighters reaching a stationary orbit around Perfection, and then returning on a fuel-conservation course back to base.

    Ash was authorized, once every other day, to fly one two-ship element of Y-Wings on training rotation for no more than four hours at a time, from either 0800 to 1200, or 1200 to 1600. Said training flight to consist of achieving a stable, stationary orbit directly over Epsilon Base, then returning to base at the end of the training flight.

    Some days, it just didn’t seem worth the effort to even go to work.

    Finally, there was the “personnel incident” with the current mining concern on Perfection.

    It started around 0300 one morning when the base’s antiquated but functional perimeter security sensor net had detected a pair of intruders. The system set off the base’s alarms, troops scrambled to their perimeter bunkers, pilots raced to their ships, all per The Book. In spite of the fact that Epsilon Base hadn’t run a single drill since Ash’s arrival two months ago, it was a fairly creditable performance.

    The intruders that had caused the entire ruckus were a brother and sister pair of humans from the mining camp, attempting to make their way to Epsilon Base. On being apprehended, they were taken into custody. Examination revealed a boy and girl of about sixteen or seventeen years of age. A medic checked them over, and diagnosed them as over-worked, undernourished, suffering from low-grade toxic metal exposure from the mines, and sexually abused. Both of them.

    The Sergeant of the Guard for that duty shift got them water, and a meal pack for each. Between gulping bites of food, the kids told a tale all too common in these kinds of two-for-a-credit fringe operations: a contract-for-labor job, where the employers charged for transport, food, lodging, and stuff, and deducted said costs from the laborer’s wages. Consequence of which, they wound up owing more than they were making. They had to work double-shifts just to keep up with interest and payments on what they “owed” their employer.

    Several troops were incensed at the kids’ condition and plight; there was quiet muttering about going over to the mining camp and having “a talk” with its owners/operators. The word spread. The quiet muttering escalated to rumblings.

    All this was interrupted by a comm from Base Operations. The mine was sending a delegation of representatives to discuss the situation with General Onoma. The Sergeant of the Guard was directed to report to the General’s Office with the fugitives. That’s what the Duty Officer called them: fugitives.

    The so-called delegation of representatives was a squad of mercenaries hired to work mine security. Given that it was mining low-grade, low-yield industrial ore, there was no reason for heavily armed security guards to protect the mine. They were there solely to keep the contract-laborers in line.

    Upon arriving at the Base Command Post, the Sergeant of the Guard was ordered to turn the “fugitives” over to the mine’s security personnel, who promptly manacled them and put slaver’s collars on them. The kids were openly weeping, and begging General Onoma for mercy, to intervene. General Onoma simply told the “security guards” to “…get this scum out of my sight.”

    Later that morning, after daybreak, there was another ruckus, originating from the base’s Observation Tower, on top of Command Center. It seemed that, over in the mining compound, all the workers were being assembled. Several of the base’s personnel broke out macro- or electrobinoculars.

    What they saw was the boy from the night before being secured, naked, to a whipping post. What they saw was one of the mining camp’s “security guards” begin flogging the boy.

    With a neuronic whip.

    The ruckus escalated to a near-riot. Alliance soldiers and NCOs began running towards the mining camp, shouting in incoherent outrage. Epsilon Base’s public-address system blared, and General Onoma’s voice boomed, “STAY WHERE YOU ARE! RETURN TO YOUR POSTS IMMEDIATELY OR YOU WILL BE BROUGHT UP ON CHARGES!”

    The incipient charge stumbled to a horrified halt. Many faces turned back towards the Command Center, in shock, in disbelief, and, amongst the wiser (or more cynical), horrified, dawning comprehension.

    The flogging continued. The dispenser of punishment stopped to grin evilly at the scattered New Republic soldiers before resuming his task.

    Senior Sergeant Mumbin Nukkels, a Gungan from Naboo, was not currently Sergeant of the Guard; but he had been last night. Looking back-and-forth between the flogging and the Command Center, he came to a decision.

    “Oh, Hell No!”

    Bringing his BlasTech A280 blaster rifle up to his shoulder, he set the charge to maximum, took aim, and fired a single blast at a range of just under 100 meters.

    The whip-wielding security guard’s body fell to the ground. It was going to be a closed-casket funeral for him, unless someone loved him enough to pay a mortician to do a full cranial reconstruction for viewing.

    All of which brought Ash to the present. The monthly supply shuttle was due to lift off within the hour. Expected to be on board was one Corporal Nukkels, reduced in rank by the Administrative Proceedings that was all that General Onoma was willing take on his own, out here “in the field.” He had enough Field-Grade Officers to convene a full Court Martial, but the fat-head had better sense than to try.

    The charges? Three counts of Insubordination, with the offense descriptions given as, “Unauthorized Dispensation of Military Resources to Non-Republic Personnel (Meal Pack, two each), Unauthorized Expenditure Of Ammunition, All In Direct Violation Of The Commander’s Posted Policy Regarding Logistical Resource Management”

    Ash had climbed the base’s Observation Tower, took out his electrobinoculars, and began to slowly search the camp. Of particular interest to him were the mercenaries. Thumbing his ‘binocs to “record,” he began watching and tracking the various “security guards.” He wasn’t memorizing faces or anything; just getting a good look at how they behaved, how they carried themselves. Scum; thugs and bullies with guns, nothing more. What in blazes is the General thinking? Slaver’s collars, neuronic whips, these are proscribed items in the Republic! He has the authority to act, to arrest them all, to put an end to that outfit and put all its management behind bars! And all he can think of doing is cashiering a good NCO over Unauthorized Expenditure of Logistical Assets!

    Some days, it just didn’t seem worth the effort to even have a conscience.

    The Present…

    Ash was doing one of his “walkabouts” around FireFly Security Services, Inc. Not really checking up on people, just keeping his finger on the pulse of things. The hangar doors were standing wide open on the pleasant, sunny day (the temperature and humidity had dropped with the arrival of a weather front overnight), and astromechs and techs bustled around the fighters parked inside, undergoing routine maintenance.

    Approaching the hangar entrance, one of his infantry “Security Guards” stepped forward to challenge him. It was mostly pro forma, but Ash waved his code cylinder at the security reader anyway, as a good example.

    Addressing the security guard, he asked, “How're you doing today, Sergeant Nukkels?”

    “Mesa doing jus’ fine, Colonel. Yousa may proceed.”

    Some days, it just didn’t seem worth the effort to even have a conscience.

    But most days, nowadays, it did.
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 7 November 2015 at 12:33 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  9. #9
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
    Join Date
    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default FireFly: Genesis (aka "Lookin' For The Door..."), pt. II

    Twenty Three Months Ago…

    Ash knew he had to do things right. Flying off the handle, going behind General Onoma’s back to the IG (Inspector General), or straight to Starfighter Command, would all be…bad. So he took a few days, after the monthly supply shuttle had departed with Corporal Nukkels onboard, to gather his thoughts, order and organize his arguments, and calm himself. This he accomplished, and he bided his time until the day before the monthly supply ship's return, before comming the Duty Officer to request a meeting with General Onoma.

    The Duty Officer was not obligated to inquire as to what Ash wanted to see the General about, but it was a generally wise move to do so; Ash told him, “Logistical Asset Allocation, Operational Issues With Regards To Epsilon Base’s Fighter Contingent, and Clarification & Amplification of Epsilon Base’s Overall Mission.”

    The Duty Officer, a mere Lieutenant, had been at Epsilon Base long enough to know what time of day it was, experienced enough to read between the lines of Ash’s declared intent, and sufficiently junior in rank to not want to get between a Colonel and a General that were about to have it out, however militarily correct (or not) that freak show went down. So he blandly acknowledged Ash’s request and told him that he’d put the request in the General’s message queue immediately.

    General Onoma saw, almost immediately, the message-request on his data terminal, and almost immediately deleted it as a waste of his time. Some inner-sense, call it a military bureaucracy survival instinct, stayed his hand-fin. He instead ignored it for the rest of the morning. Ash, sitting in the cramped cubicle that he called his office, stewed quietly.

    Around lunch time, having still not heard back from the General, Ash decided to do something he had not done since setting foot on Epsilon Base: he went to the Officer’s Dining Facility for a meal. It wasn’t any deficiency in the food that had kept him away; on the contrary, the Officer’s DFAC had the only really decent food on all of Epsilon Base. No, it was the company that kept him away. In retrospect, he decided that that may not have been the most politic of actions.

    General Onoma was previously from Logistics Command; he was, essentially, a supply clerk writ large. He did not much care for combatants, of any type. They consumed inordinate amounts of resources, in his opinion. He especially did not like ships, whether they were big ships, medium ships, or little ships. He really did not care for the types of people who flew around in ships; who flew ships; or who crewed ships. He didn’t like the amount of resources ships took to keep them in space. He didn’t like the amount of resources necessary to support the people who flew in, piloted, or crewed ships.

    In short, they made a hash of his beautifully crafted, efficiently run, supply system.

    These attitudes were readily apparent in the way Epsilon Base was “managed;” many a trooper and pilot had nicknamed it “Upside Down Base.” It was (now) probable that this had gotten back to the General. While Ash had never been anything but correct military subordination to the General, some of his private disdain must have leaked through his military correct responses, and demeanor.

    As such, the General was not returning his comm. He was, in fact, “playing silly games.”

    So Ash went to lunch at the Officer’s DFAC, which was the nicest building (that wasn't saying much) on the dilapidated base, with the least dilapidated furnishings, and the best food, if not the best company; the base had sufficient officers that there were, inevitably, sycophants. And that’s where Ash found General Onoma, surrounded by two lieutenants, a captain (of the ground force variety, not Fleet) and a major, listening with rapt attention (or at least well-feigned rapt attention) as the General held forth on the virtues of a well-managed logistical system in any military organization, in between bites of the rather large plate of food he was jamming in his maw.

    Ash went through the serving line, taking normal proportions of the well-made food (no starfighter was kind to a plump pilot), and headed into the seating area with a blandly pleasant expression plastered on his mug. Walking casually by the General, he stopped and assumed an expression of pleasant surprise by the General’s table, and waited for the General to take notice.

    General Onoma stopped mid-sentence, looking up at Ash, and said, “Yes, Colonel?”

    Ash smiled pleasantly, and replied, "General! Good afternoon, Sir! How do you do, today?”

    General Onoma looked a bit doubtful, but responded, “Quiet well, Colonel, thank you.”

    Ash smiled broadly, as if that was the absolute best news he had ever heard, and continued, “Excellent! I’m happy to hear that.”

    General Onoma now looked a bit confused; saying “Was there something you needed, Colonel?

    “Well, Sir,” Ash replied, a pleasant smile still on his face, “There is. I was wondering if you had received my request for a meeting from the Duty Officer this morning.”

    General Onoma paused for a moment before responding a cautiously neutral tone, “I did.”

    “Ah, Excellent!” Ash beamed at him. “I was a bit worried that it may have slipped his notice.”

    “No, I received it. I was, ah, considering my rather hectic schedule, before responding.” The General told Ash.

    “Yes,” Ash commiserated, assuming a serious, concerned look “I understand completely. But I was rather hoping that you could make time for me in the near future, as I have several pressing items that I could use your guidance and experience on.”

    The General looked back down at his plate wistfully before responding, “Very well, Colonel. I will clear my schedule for you to meet at 1400 hours. Will that be soon enough?” The last bit was a tad acerbic.

    “Thank you very much, General,” Ash enthused with genuine relief. “I look forward to our meeting, and receiving the benefit of your many years of experience. I’ll leave you to your lunch, now. Enjoy!”

    Ash turned and went to sit down as far away from the General as the Officer’s DFAC allowed, sitting with his back to the General’s table. The General, for his part, resumed eating, but new worry had killed his appetite, and he did little more than pick at his food. The major and the captain glared (quiet, military) daggers at Colonel DuQuennes’ back. Of the lieutenants, one looked concerned, and the other puzzled, at what had just happened.

    Ash arrived at the General’s Office at 1355 hours, his uniform nattily (militarily) perfect, with his datapad tucked precisely (militarily) in his hand at his side. The Duty Officer, one of the lieutenants from lunch, looked up, and stood to attention. “Colonel DuQuennes. How may I help you?”

    Ash left the lieutenant standing at attention, and said “I have a 1400 appointment with the General. Please let him know that I have arrived.”

    “Very well, sir.” The lieutenant turned to his duty station and pressed the intercom button to the General’s office.

    “Yes?” came the General’s gruff, curt response.

    “Colonel DuQuennes to see you, sir.” the lieutenant informed him.

    “Send him in.” The General ordered.

    The lieutenant, resuming his position of attention, turned back to Ash, and informed him, “The General will see you, sir.”

    “Very well; carry on, Lieutenant.” Ash let the junior officer relax back into normal-duty-mode, walked the two steps to the General’s door and knocked twice.

    “Enter!” The General’s voice boomed from inside the office.

    Ash keyed the door open, and marched precisely up to the two paces in front of the General’s desk, snapped to attention, and said to the wall behind the General, “Colonel DuQuennes, reporting, sir!”

    The General left Ash standing at attention for a couple of beats, before saying, “At ease, Colonel. What is it you need to talk to me about?”

    Ash's feet snapped to shoulder-width apart, and his hands (including the datapad) went to the small of his back. Still addressing the wall behind the General, Ash said, “General, thank you for seeing me. I wished to discuss with you three items that concern Epsilon Base, and my area of authority and responsibility within it.”

    The General again waited a few beats before saying, “Very well, Colonel; proceed.”

    Still addressing the wall, Ash began: “General, the first item of concern is Logistical Asset Allocation, specifically with regards to its impact on the Operational Readiness of the military assets under my direct command authority.”

    Ash paused to let the General digest this; the General looked at him blankly for several seconds before saying, “I see. Please elaborate.”

    Ash resumed, “General, it has been brought to my attention from Starfighter Command through official channels that the Operational Readiness of the military assets under my direct command authority are below standards, and unacceptable.” Again, Ash paused to let the General soak this up.

    The General again paused for several seconds before he said, “I see. And what do you propose to rectify this deficiency?”

    Still addressing the wall, Ash replied, “Given the General’s posted policy on Logistical Asset Management, and Starfighter Command’s directive to repair and maintain the assets under my direct command authority from local resources, I am unable at this time to rectify the deficiencies in the Operational Readiness of said military assets under my direct command authority.”

    “Oh?” The General said dangerously.

    “Yes, Sir. I am drafting a Report of Deficiency for the attention of the Office of the Inspector General, with appended copies to the attention of Starfighter Command, Office of Operations, for guidance, and resolution.”

    “Oh!” exclaimed the General is surprise.

    Ash rolled on relentlessly, “The second item of concern I wished to address is Operational Issues With Regards To Epsilon Base's Fighter Contingent. Pursuant to not only Starfighter Command’s Policies and Directives for the Usage and Deployment of Starfighter Assets, but also the New Republic Defense Force’s Training and Doctrine Command, it is my considered opinions that the military assets under my direct command authority are not being utilized in accordance with the standards set forth by the aforementioned offices and agencies.”

    General Onoma was gaping, Ash hated to think, like a fish out of water.

    But the onslaught continued, ”Furthermore, it is evident by the flight hours logged and recorded by the military assets under my direct command authority, but under your direct operational control, that the military assets under my direct command authority are deficient in their allocated training goals mandated by both Starfighter Command’s Office of Operations and the New Republic Defense Force's Training and Doctrine Command. I have therefore drafted a Report of Deficiency for the attention of the Office of the Inspector General, detailing the type and quantity of training that has been logged under your direct operational control of the military assets under my direct command authority. I have additionally appended copies for the notice of Starfighter Command, Office of Operations, as well as the New Republic Defense Force’s Training and Doctrine Command.”

    General Onoma turned gray, and started wheezing.

    “Finally,” Ash said, “I wish to discuss Clarification & Amplification of Epsilon Base’s Overall Mission; specifically with regards to the mining operation adjacent to this facility and the incident of Centaxday, last. It was clearly observed by numerous personnel on this base that the mine’s ‘security force’ possessed and employed proscribed implements on another sapient being. Furthermore, and while this cannot be proven as yet, it is my belief that the financial activities and policies of said mining concern are, most likely, in direct contravention of New Republic law.”

    “Since this sector is not under the direct control of the New Republic Civilian Government, but rather a militarily administered district, it is my opinion that the activities of the mining concern, and its security personnel, and the incident of first Centaxday, three weeks ago, should be referred to the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the New Republic Defense Force for Investigation and Review. I have drafted a letter asking, and recommending, that this happen in as expeditious a manner as feasibly possible. I have appended the recorded images from my electrobinoculars as prima facie evidence for instigating an investigation.”

    “I have further asked for a Report of Activity on Major Hannser, who, as Epsilon Base’s designated Provost Marshal, has thus far failed to initiate even a preliminary investigation in spite of overwhelming prima facie evidence of several felony crimes having been committed within the jurisdiction and legal purview of Epsilon Base, and in plain view of not only himself, but the Commanding Officer of said base, as well as dozens, if not hundreds, of New Republic Defense Force officers and enlisted personnel.”

    “I have brought these letters, for your endorsement, if you should choose to do so.” Ash held forth the datapad.

    Ash finally lowered his eyes, and looked General Onoma directly in his beady, bulging eyes before continuing, “If you do not, I will send them anyway. All of them.
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 7 November 2015 at 04:41 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  10. #10

    Default Prelude, Part 2

    OOC: Chunk Zwei here, have fun with the new NPC Ash. I'm still unclear if Oan'd been told he's running the shop yet...

    As usual, mashup of a coupla different ideas.

    Tavers had yet to hit him with a lot of demands, nor had the Snubjock Leaders. He had a lot of freedom to go largely where & when he wanted. Either he was being given space to decompress from the last month's disasters, or they were waiting to see what he really could do.

    Very few of FireFly’s base staff seemed to recognize the FOSCOR patch he’d affixed to his issue Tech’s Shipsuit, and no comment was made about the Special Operations Group flash he’d designed & tacked to the right sleeve at the shoulder – mostly as he felt FireFly had a desperate need for a multi-talented and flexible SOG team that could be quickly pulled from normal duties as the need arose, and was waiting for one of the Higher-ups to express an interest, or at least some genuine curiosity.

    It seemed those who know of the Foster Corps and it’s “Funny-dressed Jawa” Mascot presumed he felt the high point of his Republic Career was being assigned as a rear-area asset to an ISO Team. If anyone here knows that I didn’t just work for the Dirty Tricks Department, but wrote several pages of The Manual, they're very few & quite tight about sharing…

    The Maintenance Chief – a Duros who went by Burkile, had insisted he look in a few of the shuttle’s inspection hatches and commented that the shields had been upgraded to very well-maintained Chepat Supreme Defender. After pulling his head out, the Chief’s eyes then registered that Oan was sporting a FOSCOR Detachment patch. “Fixed this have you?” Oan automatically responded in the Chief’s native Durese “More than I care to recall”. The Chief secured the hatch he had been looking through and grunted “All yours then” and had quickly disappeared.

    It seemed to Oan after that the Chief had significantly more respect for him, and their shuttle had been declared Off Limits. If the Chief had something he wanted Oan to help with, he asked, and often in Durese. A few of the more adventurous techs had made a habit of hanging around the vicinity of the shuttle when Oan was working on it, perhaps hoping for an invitation or opportunity to dig into the forbidden.

    Oan felt a few of the hangabout techs had potential, and that they wanted to learn beyond the normal skillset was a decidedly good thing for FireFly. But he also devoutly wanted to avoid having his Wild Cardchip shifted into The Destroyed Starship – especially if they found a sudden and urgent need to move on.

    Ceria remained largely distant and professional when they worked on the shuttle, despite Oan’s efforts to break through the facade without getting pushy. She didn’t seem to have any trouble sporting her Pilot’s Wings, or Imperial Heritage, but Oan still wondered how much trouble she was having with the other pilots as well as settling in. His being isolated by her was really beginning to bother him, but he couldn’t figure out how to express it without offending her.

    Ra had never complained about the "Cleaning Service" Oan had found for their quarters while they were away on missions, but he knew Ra silently questioned the expense. Oan was sure his brother had no idea he'd made an arrangement with a Bothan they'd previously worked amicably with on several occasions to have their belongings not only looked after, but packed up and stored out safely out of Official Reach, then returned shortly before their return.

    While nowhere near as expansive as Talon Karrde's organization, Chann Vre'Hu had a decently-sized network of contacts and movers, plenty to work around either major government reasonably unhindered. She also had no love of Borsk Fey'Lya, or for that matter traditional Bothan politics - making her an Outcast's Outcast.

    If they decided to make a lasting commitment on Tirahnn, after Oan sending off the right message and making the proper (and reasonable) payment, they'd have all their belongings intact and untampered within a Standard Month...barring any third-party complications.

    The people he worked with in the Tech Pool & Hangar Security quickly developed an appreciation for Oan’s easy-going personality & ability to develop a reliable fix around the short supply and/or turnaround problems most units faced, as well as the magic he could work with the hangar’s aging and unreliable (until Oan got his hands on it) Caf distiller.

    An informal end-of-the-day analysis, planning, and general bull session among the more senior techs quickly becoming known as Caf O’Clock had materialized around Oan setting the Distiller to provide something a lot more enticing to both physically and mentally worn-down Techs after the day’s work was done than the vastly-improved Caf it spat out during the workday.

    While not Officially In Charge, the Techs, and a few of the Security Team had recognized he was more than some Hydrospanner-Holder. Oan was treated with a quiet respect, and a surprising amount (for Oan anyway) of people were seriously listening to what he said, if & when he felt a need to say it, as well as soliciting his opinion.

    While Oan doesn’t feel himself to be the Leader Type (as far as he knows, he doesn’t even hold an Official Rank) especially when he’s the Karking New Guy, he also understood something few people without well-used toolkits rarely did – almost any Tech Pool is the most Democratic and Meritocratic place in a military organization.

    One of the Ewoks had either not paid much attention in Basic Class or felt too self-important to listen to some “Non-Combat Tech” about not poking around the Snubfighter Oan was helping a few of the Bone Techs re-rail a launcher tube after the last piece of ordnance down it had screeched to a stop partway out the exit port. Oan was very familiar with the design, this one had apparently missed several unofficial upgrades to prevent one of both a Pilot’s and Tech’s worst nightmares - a Hang Fire.

    Most of the techs either appeared to Oan to either accept the trooper’s meddling as something they had little choice but to tolerate, or were waiting to see how he responded to the challenge.

    After several blithely ignored attempts to convince the intruder to leave, Oan's last resort was to poke the little fuzzball with his Stun Baton in the only effective place he could reach - right in the hindquarters.

    Oan had expected some Official Griefing from the Infantry Captain, or further up the Food Chain for later unceremoniously dumping the wayward trooper in front of the Infantry barracks thoroughly stunned, self-soiled, hog-tied and gagged with Engine Tape then going on his way as if none of it had happend.

    Instead, Corporal Curiosity gathered a few of its buddies to try and intimidate Oan. A squirt of Depil from a lubricant injector and the resulting chunks of fur coming off in their paws had signaled a hasty retreat from that tactic, as well as Oan's presence in general.

    A few days later, Oan had passed by a group of the Ewoks field-stripping their blasters. Noticing they were having difficulty working with the Imp-issue E-11 Carbine, Oan had stood there for several minutes, recording the session with one of several datapads he normally kept on him. The next evening, he returned with a small bag of parts, checking none of the troublemakers seemed to be present at the cleaning session. One of the Ewoks, (it was a bit of a challenge for Oan to really tell individuals apart - let alone male from female) noticed his presence. It said to him "Booshee", and offered him the E-11.

    Oan took the proffered weapon, ensuring it was safe & cleared, then sat down and quickly field-stripped it down. Digging into the bag of modified fittings and attachments he'd milled out after analyzing the video he'd taken, he set about replacing parts he'd seen the Ewoks having trouble with, and showing the one who'd given up the blaster how the new ones worked.

    Mission accomplished, Oan simply stood up, gave the Ewok a half bow, and left. As he walked away, he heard more than one of the Ewoks say, in what seemed to him to be a reverent tone, "Booshee".

    Oan stopped by the Canteen early, having learned a long time ago the Senior Interference was usually preoccupied supervising Ritual Exercises or absorbed in Morning Reports and Briefings first thing, leaving him a several hour stretch where he could get Real Work done. Ra, the window of his focus usually running from lunchtime to late at night or even the wee hours of morning, was rarely up until mid to late morning unless they were on a mission or it was a strict requirement.

    Oan rarely felt a need to join the Morning Exercises unless forced. Working on everything from blasters & comlinks to Snubfighter engines and cannon was plenty of a workout and kept him in very good shape. Although he'd always been short and rather skinny, he had plenty of muscle & definition if you caught him out of a shipsuit - certainly enough to attract Ceria's attention when they'd first met.

    The Canteen, like most Navy Enlisted Mess Halls, seemed well-prepared for people who weren't much on a sit-down meal. Oan loaded up an old Y-Wing HUD Case (OOC: think smallish IRL Ammo Can - Oan's version of an old-school lunchbox) from the Galactic Civil War, when the Rebels' Advanced Display System Upgrade for the Bone was so new that they kept them uninstalled and locked up except for shortly before to after missions, with some pre-packaged items then filled up a modified Thermal Isolation Sleeve as well as a separate cup with Caf.

    Being far too early for a heavy meal, he'd enjoy the quiet and cup of caf now, then snack on the rest throughout the morning. To his surprise, Reakhas set his tray on the table opposite and to the right of him, sat down, & gave Oan a nod. Instead of the expected talking-to or threat for messing with his troops rather than going through him or even high up The Chain, the Lieutenant simply stated "You modded Shawgus' Carbine, she likes it."

    Mentally well off-balance at this point, Oan defaulted to a Technical Explanation to cover his surprise.

    "The E-11 is designed for an operator of Human size and proportionate strength. If a Wookiee handed you their Bowcaster, parts that are finger- or hand-tight would take you or I a lot of extra muscle, possibly even power tools to pop loose and get back in place without risking the whole thing exploding instead of firing.

    Take the Upper release pin. You or I can easily push that out. For an Ewok, that’s going to take a tool, and maybe some bashing to get loose, and back in solidly. I put in a two-part sleeve and pin that locks with a half-twist. The folding tab on the top lets them put enough torque on it to lock or unlock it easily, the tab folds flat to the body so it won’t snag.

    Strikes me the E-11 fits them more like an assault rifle, so I put a handle on the foregrip. It’s a pull-release, letting them easily slide it to either side or fold it back then lock it in place by letting go. That’ll improve accuracy and tactical efficiency of the system.

    If you want, I can tap out the reasoning, analysis, and specs in a datafile, then shoot it to you and DuQuennes for approval when I have the time.”

    Reakhas chewed thoughtfully for a moment then simply said “Please”. Oan got the impression the Lieutenant rarely said the word, and usually only when he felt he had to.

    Encouraged by this, Oan responded with “I’ve a question. I keep hearing the Ewoks say booshee when I’m around. I don’t grasp the language, and asking a 3PO would likely result in hours decrypting the dissertation I’d get.”

    Reakhas snorted, but before he could answer Shearran slid a tray onto the table across from Oan, sat, stared straight at him and started answering.

    “It doesn’t have a direct translation, but the root translates as ‘magic’. Not the kind a Shaman usually wields, but with both respect and fear implied. ”

    Reakhas’ body language gave no indication he was offended at being cut off, chewing and watching the situation calmly.

    “So it’s something like ‘Wizard’ then? I’ll take it.” “I’m sure you would, harassing my troops like you’ve been. Why the Depil stunt?”

    The challenge in her posture and tone was quite clear to Oan. “It’s my understanding that among most furred people, having one’s fur shaved is a socially-enforced mark of shame.”

    Reakhas murmured “Observant.” Shearran’s gaze flicked momentarily over to him, then back to Oan.

    “I’ve seen more than enough bullies to know where they were headed. Discipline was clearly being bypassed or not enforced, so I terrorized them first. Lets me get something useful done instead of chasing Ewoks with Wookie-sized egos all day.”

    “So you thought to discipline my troops?” The challenge was clear in her words and tone. Oan sighed inwardly Lovely, another bully who needs an Attitude Alignment. I’m not the easy meat you nor your Goon Platoon think I am Sweetie…

    Without a word Oan put down his Caf Cup and placed both elbows on the middle of the table, forearms and palms vertical, fingers spread, and locked his gaze on Shearran's eyes. The Trianni's registered a moment of surprise, then what seemed to Oan a bit of smugness as she leaned forward and mirrored him in the Jalinese Table-fighting pose - her arms pressed against his from elbow to wrist, interlocked her fingers with his and gripped his hands. Surprising Oan, she didn't immediately try to push his arms off balance or apply much pressure or leverage, apparently confident in letting him make the first move.

    Oan waited a few heartbeats, watching Shearran’s eyes to pick his moment. With a quick motion that would appear as only a blur to anything other than an expert hand-to-hand fighter, or high-framerate photoreceptor, Oan had bent her hands out and twisted, then just as quickly released his grip.

    There was a thud from the Trianni's chest as her hands slammed into her opposing shoulders. Oan snapped out a hand and tapped her lightly on the muzzle, just behind the top of her nose with his left index finger. When she moved to cover her face or trap his hand, he pulled his hand up and to the side. As her eyes instinctively tracked that movement his other index finger tapped her on the breastbone halfway between the collarbone and solar plexus.

    With shock and acknowledgment of a significant defeat riding clearly enough on Shiarran's face that Oan felt confident (despite having a disadvantage reading Trianni) he'd made the point he wanted to without having to hurt her…much, he leaned back off the table putting one arm on it in a manner that wouldn't signal much of a threat, and without looking smug picked up his Caf Cup with the other and had a sip.

    Reakhas had not moved to defend his mate, in fact he was making a deep breathing/sniffing noise that struck Oan as a bit like laughter.

    After massaging the backs of her hands to relieve the pain of tendons Oan had stretched to ensure she wouldn't claw his hands, in a rather confused (to Oan's limited estimation) manner, she locked eyes with him again and simply asked "How?".

    "What I normally do gives me better hand and forearm strength than most people. I also have a good understanding of physics, and a bit of anatomy. I applied leverage, you thought I was trying to break your wrists. When you countered, I let go and you folded up neatly, leaving yourself quite open."

    He took a long, casual drink of his caf, then summed it up. "You severely underestimated me, I used it."

    Apparently thoroughly amused, Reakhas said one word in an a teasingly reverent tone "Booshee". Shearran's left ear flattened as she glanced over at her mate.

    Oan grabbed both his snack pack and caf cup then stood. "Best get to it, lots to be done." Shearran must have been giving his utility belt a quick visual inventory as she commented "No blaster". Oan turned his head towards her and told her "You've never encountered the Technician’s art of Tool-Fu then. I've plenty of options without having to pack a blaster in a technically friendly area."

    Waving the Caf Cup in the general direction of the small Fusion Cutter on his belt, "Take the tip off this, you can own a hatchway or bout three meters of corridor. Once someone's had an experience, or near-miss for the smarter opposition, you generally discourage approach for another five meters or so."

    He nodded in the direction of the Trianni "Be seeing you".

    As he walked off to deposit the Canteen's Caf Cup on his way out, it struck Oan that both Trianni were silent and that Reakhas was no longer sniffing/laughing.

    Oan guessed Reakhas had either realized the kind of agony walking into a raw blast from a Fusion Cutter would be, or had seen someone who'd had "The Experience", upping the Threat Level for Oan in his mind significantly.

    Or he'd notice the short loop of high-strength filament run from a tiny ring on the Fusion Cutter's tip to another on the fore of the body, implying it could be very quickly disconnected without getting lost...
    Last edited by Vanger Chevane; 7 September 2014 at 08:28 PM.
    First Law of GMing: Semper Gumby
    Show me someone who has never said "It's good to be Evil", I'll show you someone who's never GM'd.

    Wisdom is a lot like the Blues. You have to suffer to get it right.

  11. #11
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
    Join Date
    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default FireFly: Genesis (aka "Lookin' for the Door...") pt. III

    Twenty Three Months Ago...

    Ash strode form General Onoma's office like a man on a mission. The Duty officer started to jump to attention, but only made it halfway before Ash's snapped "Carry on," came from over his retreating back, heading towards the base's Communications Center.

    The door to the Comm Center was normally locked, and Ash wasn't sure whether his code cylinder would grant him access; he'd feel a bit deflated if he had to ask for admittance, with the possibility of a refusal. There was no particular reason, as Epsilon Base's wing commander, that he shouldn't have access to the Comm Center, but certain policies and procedures at Epsilon Base were, in military parlance, FUBAR.

    But the Comm Center door swished open efficiently when Ash's approach brought him into the door's sensor field's range; reading his access code off of his code cylinder, it allowed him access.

    Ash didn't break stride, moving quickly over to the hypertransceiver before the Comm Center's Duty Officer could officiously pry into his business. Startling the tech on duty at the hypertransceiver's console, Ash handed over his datapad before the tech could even begin to rise to attention, saying, "For immediate transmittal. All the proper node addresses and routing headers are already in place. Just dump and pump."

    The tech, wide eyed and completely out of his depth, took the datapad from Ash as if he wasn't entirely sure what to do with it. The Comm Center Duty Officer was edging over to see what was going on. Ash asked testily, "Is there a problem , Technician 2nd Class..." squinting at the tech's uniform, "...Zilar?"

    The tech gulped, and started to rise, and Ash snapped even more testily, "Carry on." Slumping back into his seat, the tech looked imploringly at the Comm Center Duty Officer, who asked diffidently, "Is there something I can help you with, Colonel?"

    Spinning on one heel, Ash glared ice-cold daggers at the junior lieutenant, before replying, "Yes. You can return to your station. Dismissed." Without even waiting to see what the lieutenant did, Ash spun back around to the hapless tech and let an edge of feigned anger creep into his voice, saying, "Sooner would be better than later, Zilar!"

    The tech gulped again, looked at the lieutenant's hastily retreating backside, before answering, "Yes, Sir!" Turning to his console with the datapad, he plugged the portable device into his console and transferred the messages into the "outbound" queue. Since nothing else was waiting to be sent, they transmitted almost immediately, pausing just long enough for the antenna dish atop the Comm Center to realign and lock onto the appropriate satellite.

    Technician 2nd Class Zilar handed Ash back his datapad, and Ash relented, offering a thin smile as a peace token, and saying mildly, "Very well, Zilar. Carry on."

    Ash left the Comm Center at a much more sedate pace, tossing a look at the Duty Officer, who merely kept his head and eyes down and concentrated furiously on his own console. Leaving the Base Headquarters Building, Ash walked across the compound, back over to the fighter contingent's offices and barracks. Entering the Pilot's Ready Room (and general lounge area), Ash stopped just inside the door, and just stood there.

    All the pilot's (who weren't busy somewhere else) looked up. Ash didn't insist on strict military courtesy with his pilots; they worked too close together to be too strack on them. As such, most nodded, and a few murmured quiet, polite greetings to him. Ash just stood there, a brooding, thoughtful look on his face. Card games slowly came to a halt. The holoprojector was put on mute. Several of his people, lounging lazily on the sofa in front of the holoprojector, came erect. Within ten seconds, all eyes were on him.

    "Sir?" asked one of the pilots uncertainly.

    Ash casually reached down and unsnapped the flap on his sidearm's holster. He casually drew his issue sidearm, a DL-18 blaster pistol, and conspicuously checked its charge reading on the side of the gun. Making sure every eye was on him, he visibly snapped the safety to "off," before re-holstering the pistol. He then pulled his vibrodagger out of its sheath, thumbed it on, and cut the flap off the holster. The holster was a military flap-style; great for keeping a sidearm very secure, and mostly protected from the elements, it was a lousy for easy access to that sidearm.

    Puck piped up, and said, "The General's going to take that out of your pay."

    With just a hint of a sneer, Ash pulled a five-credit coin out of his pocket, and tossed it contemptuously onto the floor.

    He told the assembled pilots, "I just gave a general a piece of my mind, and backed him into a corner. He has friends, here on Upside Down Base; especially on the Ground Force side. I think I'm mostly in the clear, and that nothing’s going to happen. But until the messages I just waved up the food chain cross someone's eyeballs, and they have time to respond, and that response comes back down to us, all bets are off. Watch your six. Watch everyone's six."

    Three days later…

    Nothing untoward happened on Upside down Base for three days. Then a shuttle arrived, with orders relieving Ash of command, of both Epsilon Base's Starfighter Wing, and of the 467th, with a routine change-of-station transfer order for him to Starfighter Command, and specific orders to report to the Commanding General, Starfighter Command, Office of Operations, immediately upon arrival to Coruscant.

    Quickly packing his few remaining belongings (one of the ground crew had already taken his "spacer's chest" with the bulk of his belongings over to the shuttle), with Puck observing (he'd been temporarily put in command, with a brevet promotion to Colonel), Ash was making sure Puck was up-to-speed on the Wing issues. It was mostly just a time- and conversational-place holder, to forestall any awkward questions; as Ash's XO, Puck was already up-to-speed.

    Puck finally asked, "What's going to happen, Ash?"

    Ash chewed on this for a moment, before replying, "I honestly don't know, Puck. Could be good, could be bad. The way things have been going in the New Republic lately, odds are, it's bad."

    Having flown with and worked for Ash since before the Battle of Yavin, he knew his friend and superior as well as anyone; better than his own parents, by now, which led him to say, "Ash, don't go looking for a battle. You'll find one, even if there isn't one to be had. And, you'll lose."

    Slinging his ditty bag over one shoulder, Ash looked Puck in the eye, and said, "I know. There's a lot of that going around, these days. It's not like the old days, where the people you answered to were the same people you flew and fought with." Picking up his duffle and moving towards the door, Puck offered, "Let me carry that. You look like an eighteen-year-old recruit on his first day of boot camp. Didn't your momma feed you, growing up?"

    It was an old joke between them; Ash was a bit under average height, and skinny; his metabolism let him eat meals big enough for two. Puck was a bit taller than average, and had always eaten like a bird, but had started to pudge out a bit around the waistline anyway with age.

    Handing his duffle over to his taller friend, the two walked out of Pilot's Quarters and over to the base's landing pad, where a shuttle was standing by, specifically for Ash. Stopping at the base of the shuttle's ramp, Puck handed the duffle over to a ground crewman to take onboard, and turned to Ash. "Drop me a wave, and let me know how it turns out."

    Extending his hand, Ash said, "You got it. And thanks." Trading grips, the two friends parted, Ash up the shuttle's ramp, and to Coruscant, and Puck back to his new office.

    Two days later…

    Ash arrived at Coruscant around 10:30 PM local. Since his orders specified “report immediately,” he commed the office of the Commanding General, Starfighter Command, Office of Operations, only to be told that the General would see him at 0800 hours in the morning. Ash was signed in to Transient Quarters for the evening. Transient Quarters weren’t much better than a cheap hotel, but even a cheap hotel on Coruscant was kind of pricey, and Transient Quarters were free. Thus, Ash had a late supper, served out of a vending machine in the hallway outside his assigned room.

    Arriving at the General’s Office at 0758 hours, the Colonel who acted as the General’s aide told Ash that the General would see him presently, and escorted Ash into General Horton Salm’s office. General Salm glanced up briefly from his data console at Ash with a look of mild irritation, then courteously dismissed his aide, saying, “Thank you, Colonel. That will be all.” The General returned to reading his console, and the Colonel quietly withdrew, closing the door behind him.

    Ash came to attention, and said, “Colonel Ashford DuQuennes, reporting as ordered, Sir!”

    Again, the general glanced up briefly, with the same look of mild irritation, before once again returning to his console. He let Ash stand there for a minute, two minutes, all the while perusing the data on his console, before finally stating in a hard, flat voice, “Your flight status is revoked. You are being assigned to the Office of Logistics, Desk of Environmental Consumables.”

    Ash couldn’t have been more stunned if you’d shot him with a blaster.

    He stood there for a moment, his thoughts and emotions a whirlwind in his mind, before he composed himself enough to stammer out, “S-sir, I don’t understand.”

    Again, the brief, annoyed look. "What don't you understand, Colonel? I thought I spoke clear Basic."

    Ash's hand flapped involuntarily in a vague gesture, and he said, "All of this, Sir."

    General Salm, finally turned to Ash, a hard, dangerous look in his eyes. The tone of voice matched them, and he said, "Just who the hell do you think you are, Colonel? Regardless of any merit in your reports," he gestured to several hard-copy print-outs of Ash's reports lying on his desk, "the gross disrespect you showed a ranking officer of the New Republic Defense Force is not the way I taught you to conduct yourself as a command officer!"

    Warming to the exchange, Ash retorted, "Sir, the same set of circumstances doesn't pertain. You were a combat commander, and, if I may say so, a good one. You know what needs to be done, operationally and tactically, down on the sharp end."

    Rising furiously from his chair, General Salm thundered, "I didn't bring you here to have a debate, Colonel! You have your new, permanent , assignment! I suggest that you close your insolent mouth, leave here at once , and attend to your duties! You are dismissed!"

    Ash gazed bitterly at General Salm, and asked quietly, "That it, then?"

    General Salm leaned forward over his desk, his fists on the edge of it, and he replied equally quietly, and with menace, "Be careful, Colonel; be very careful of what you say next."

    Straightening back to attention, Ash replied in a normal tone of voice, "Very well, Sir. I will attend to my new assignment."

    Sitting back down in his seat, General Salm returned to his data terminal and simply said, "Get out of my sight."

    Ash reported to his new office. It was a nice office; large, comfortably furnished, with amenities like a conversational lounge off to one side, a small chiller for drinks, and a private bathroom that was larger than most of the quarters Ash had been assigned to, "in the field."

    His "staff" consisted of two thoroughly efficient Lieutenants and a round dozen enlisted personnel, ranging in rank from Private up to Master Sergeant. They were concerned with the routine preparation of three different reports for Starfighter Command's Logistics Office: the WEGUS, MEGUS, and QAGUS. These were the weekly estimated gross usage summary, monthly estimated gross usage summary, and the quarterly actual gross usage summary.

    The Desk of Environmental Consumables was in charge of tracking the amount of environmental consumables being used by all the fighters in Starfighter Command. Said "environmental consumables" being air, and water.

    His staff had been compiling and submitting these reports for several years. Ash quickly came to realize that all he had to do was show up, review their reports, and sign off on them. Ash listened with distant politeness and feigne dinterest as Lieutenants “Frick & Frack” (as he thought of them) laid out, in excruciatingly dull detail, exactly how they prepared these reports, and the crucial importance of them being very, very accurate. They were to the point of breaking out spreadsheets, flowcharts, and holo presentations, when Ash abruptly cut them off, saying, “Yes, yes; I understand completely. Please carry on with your regularly assigned work. I just arrived on-planet yesterday, and I'm staying in TransQ. I’d like to get with the base Personnel Office and see about permanent quarters.”

    He could tell the Frick & Frack were deflated; they were obviously very into environmental consumables, and proud of their work. In an attempt to mollify them a bit, he said, “I’m sure we’ll be going over all the details in the next few days as I settle in.” They perked up at this. Lieutenant Frick (or was it Frack?) enthused, “Yes, Sir! I’m sure you’ll be very impressed with our presentations!”

    Ushering them gently to the door, Ash pleasantly replied, “I’m sure I will, lieutenant. Please, carry on.”

    Closing the door behind them, Ash went over to the couch that was the centerpiece of the conversation lounge, flopped face-down onto it, and steadfastly refused to give in to despair. Eventually, he got up, and commed the Personnel Office like he'd said he would.

    Later, in the early evening, Ash was surveying his new permanent quarters. Fully furnished, in a somewhat bland style, they were actually quite nice. A townhouse-apartment in a new residential tower, it had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spacious kitchen and dining area, and an even more spacious living room, that let out onto a balcony damned near large enough to land a Y-Wing on, with a magnificent view of the residential tower facing his.

    The Personnel Office had thoughtfully stocked the place with a few "house warming" items, the most important of which, to Ash's current frame of mind, was the half-dozen bottles of beer in the kitchen's chiller. Taking two of them out of the chiller, Ash went to the balcony, and slid the plasglass door open. Immediately, the sounds of speeder traffic increased markedly; Ash was impressed with the soundproofing on the patio door, and the apartment's in general.

    Popping the tab on one of the beers, Ash tipped the bottle up and slowly drank it down to the last drop without pause. It wasn't the best of beers; a mass-produced/mass-marketed brand not known for the highest quality, it nonetheless had several things going for it that Ash desired at that moment: it was cold, he was thirsty, and he was in a mood to kill a few million brain cells.

    Setting the empty on the patio table, Ash popped the tab on the other bottle, and took it over to the edge of the balcony. Leaning on the balcony's rail, he leaned out and looked down. A vertiginous drop greeted him, with hundreds of floors to the residential tower beneath him, and with the various levels of speeder traffic zipping about industriously. It always did, on Coruscant. The "natives" often bragged that Coruscant was "the city that never slept." Ash, ultimately being a "country boy," found that vaguely depressing.

    Twisting around to look up, Ash saw that there were only five or six dozen more floors above him. On Coruscant, that made him a V.I.P. Leaning back in, he rested his elbows on the balcony's rail. Taking a long pull from his beer, he turned to his thoughts.

    Well, you really stepped in it this time, boyo. "Grounded." Permanently assigned to a dead-end, unimportant job that a lobotomized Kowakian monkey-lizard could do. Salm was always a bit of a hard-case, and strack with his units, too, but I thought he was a friend. What happened to him?

    Ash's thoughts were interrupted by the door chime announcing a visitor. Ash wasn't in the mood for company, and ignored it, taking another long pull from his beer.

    The door chimed again. Heaving an exasperated sigh, he went inside to answer the door.

    Opening it up, he saw an average looking man and woman standing there. They had "Bodyguard" written all over them. Standing behind them, though...

    Ash received the second great shock of his already trying day.

    Standing slightly behind the bodyguards, an expectant look on his face, was Admiral Hiram Drayson.
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 7 November 2015 at 04:44 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  12. #12
    Registered User Ash DuQuennes's Avatar
    Join Date
    August 2000
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Default FireFly: Genesis (aka "Lookin' for the Door...") pt. IV

    Twenty Two Months And Three Weeks Ago...

    Ash stood in the doorway, his mouth hanging open for several seconds, before he simply blurted out, "Admiral Drayson!"

    Admiral Drayson gazed at Ash severely (but with a hint of a twinkle in his eyes), and replied in a dust-dry tone, "Why, yes, Cadet, and thank you for telling me who I am. I trust I'm not going to be standing in the hallway all night?"

    This kicked Ash out of his mental rut, and he said, "Oh! Yes, yes, come in, please" as he moved aside to allow the trio to enter. The female bodyguard came in first, sweeping the entry foyer, kitchen, and dining area. She made an unobtrusive gesture to her partner with one hand before moving further into the apartment. The male bodyguard followed Admiral Drayson through the door and into the foyer, where he keyed the door closed.

    Looking blandly at Ash, the bodyguard said, "Please wait here one moment, sir." It was said with the utmost politeness, but Ash had the impression it would be a very bad idea to not follow his directions. Deeper in the apartment, the female bodyguard was checking the bedrooms, bathrooms, and the patio. She made another subtle hand gesture, apparently an all clear, because the male bodyguard simply said, "Proceed," before coming to parade rest by the apartment's door.

    Ash waved the Admiral in, saying, "If someone had told me you'd show up at my door tonight, I would've called them a liar. Something to drink? The Personnel Office was kind enough to put some beers in the chiller by way of welcome. Other than that, it's tap water."

    "Beer, please, and thank you." the Admiral replied, looking about the place a bit before commenting, "Pretty nice. After what you pulled at Epsilon, and the resultant political poop typhoon, I'd have rather figured a stone dungeon with chains on the walls."

    Ash pulled a fresh beer out of the chiller for the Admiral, popped the top, and handed it to him before replying, "Give me time. I'm sure someone could dig up an old Imperial Inquisitor to give me some additional grief." Ash motioned towards the living room, and he and the Admiral settled in comfortably.

    "That's what I'm hoping to keep you from." The Admiral informed him.

    "I'm all ears," Ash informed him.

    The Admiral took a pull on the beer, and took a long look at it, before replying, "You know, there's a shopping level every thirty floors, with a complete grocery. And they all deliver, every hour of the day."

    "Duly noted. If we need reinforcements." Ash replied.

    "It may come to that. Ash, I'm here to explain a few facts of life to you. Not that an Admiral would normally worry about the career of a lowly Colonel, but you were one of my 'kids' at one point, plus you're a fellow Chandrilan, and we are related, so I figured I owe you one." Ash's father was related to the Admiral's mother by marriage, at several removes. Technically, they were cousins, in the extended-clan mash up that was the Chandrilan "gentry."

    Ash nodded, to show he understood.

    "First," the Admiral began," let me outline the general political situation in the New Republic. There are at present three 'factions' at the very top levels of Republic politics. There are the Militants, the Isolationists, and the Centrists. These are crude labels, but adequate for our discussion."

    Continuing: "The Militants are in favor of using Republic might to, oh, 'bully,' I guess you'd say, the unaligned worlds into the Republic's sphere of influence. They favor a large 'War Fleet,' disdaining smaller combatants suitable to patrol and law enforcement. The Isolationists feel the Republic should just mind its own business, and leave the rest of the galaxy alone. If other systems want to join the Republic, then fine, they can join. If they don't, then they won't, and that's that. The Isolationists want to gut the Fleet, even the smaller combatants, and let system force's handle piracy and smuggling suppression. The Centrists are just that: a fairly balanced blend of the two extremes. They're also the smallest faction, by about 3:2."

    The Admiral paused to take another drink of his beer, and let Ash digest this. Ash said, "Okay," to indicate he was keeping up so far.

    Resuming: "The result, then, is that the three factions get along together about as well as badly synchronized gears, and Epsilon Base is a prime example of what happens when a committee of all three factions arrives at a decision. It was the Militants who wanted additional bases; the Centrist support was lukewarm on that, mostly about timing and location. And the Isolationists were dead-set against it. So in a political favor-swapping session, the base was approved, but in a remote, unimportant sector, with a second-rate commander, third-rate equipment, and a meager fighter wing to defend it and patrol the surrounding sector."

    Ash bristled slightly, saying, "If you think my Bone squadrons are third-rate..."

    The Admiral brushed that off with an irritated wave of his hand, admonishing Ash, "Stop. Not tonight, Ash. This is too important."

    Ash relented abashedly, and motioned for the Admiral to continue.

    The Admiral continued, "General Onoma was another compromise. He was 'bumped' up to Republic Service from Mon Cal Planetary Defense. In his defense, he is a competent enough logistician. But from your reports, a miserable line commander."

    Startled, Ash interrupted, "You saw my reports?"

    Admiral Drayson favored Ash with a look familiar to every cadet who ever went through an academy. It said, essentially, You know how we say that there's no such thing as a stupid question, Cadet? You're pushing that line, Cadet. The Admiral replied, "Yes, now quit interrupting."

    The Admiral resumed, "General Onoma screwed-up by the numbers, as your reports clearly indicate. Letting that smash-cash-and-run mining outfit set up on his door step was mistake number one, for starters. Failing to take action when his nose was rubbed in their methods of operation was another. The base's Provost, Major Hannser, is on the chopping-block for all that, too. Finally, his overall management of the base, and, specifically, his interference in your wing's maintenance, training, and general operations are the last bits."

    "Speaking purely technically, you did nothing wrong. You were absolutely, one-hundred percent in the right to run all that up the food-chain for action. The hot, steaming plate of poop you ladled out to the Militants and the Isolationists, and made them eat, is another matter entirely."

    Taking another long pull of his beer, the Admiral pointed the bottle at Ash for emphasis before continuing, "You didn't just throw egg on the their face; you shot them in the head with them, right out of a proton torpedo launcher."

    Ash leaned back and finally took a drink of his beer; it was getting warm, and it wasn't doing good things to its flavor. "So, I embarrass some people who should've known better, and I take the blame?"

    "Politically? Yes. That's how it works." The Admiral confirmed.

    "Great," Ash said sarcastically. "So, do I fall on my sword by way of apology? Kiss some high-ranking butt and get my old job back?"

    The Admiral shook his head sadly, and said, not unkindly, "You don't get it Ash. You will probably never fly again for the Republic. Or be promoted. At best, you're going to be shuffled from one dead-end job to another, each probably worse than the previous, until you give up and quit. There may be some hope, if there's a major realignment of the political factions at the top, but as long as the Militants and Isolationists have any power, you're through."

    "I know General Salm's ticked off at me, but I never thought it could be that bad."

    The Admiral said, "Well, I had a little chat with Horton, and it seems he's a little hurt, personally, that you didn't 'back-channel' this mess to him for more, ah, discrete action."

    "I couldn't," Ash explained, "not without going behind Onoma's back. It was General Salm who drilled into me the importance of being loyal to your commanding officer, no matter what, and using channels and going by the book. So that's what I did."

    The Admiral allowed, "A fact that I pointed out to him. He didn't take it gracefully, but he did take it. Honestly, he's the reason you're still in uniform. There were enough politicos screaming for your head that he had to do something, or risk a political rift for all of Starfighter Command. In the grand scheme of things, cutting off the mivonks of one Colonel and then tossing him under the hoverbus in order to 'preserve the peace,' so to speak, was a small price to pay. Really, you got off light. I think he's hoping to hang onto you, and maybe put some bureaucratic 'polish' on you, and maybe, in time, reinstate you. I think he's being optimistic."

    Ash leaned back even further in his chair, closed his eyes, and contemplated this in silence for a few moments, before opening his eyes, looking at the Admiral, and asking, "So, now what?"

    Admiral Drayson returned the look and said, "Well, that's the other thing I wanted to talk to you about."

    Ash said, "Yes?"

    Admiral Drayson asked, "What are your assets? As an officer."

    Ash immediately said, "I'm one of, if not the, meanest hands with a Bone. I can take most X-jocks in a Bone. I know tactics, big-and-little-ship, and can teach any combat pilot how to be an attack pilot. I can lead combat pilots into the nastiest furball and bring most of them home in one piece, with lots of butt-hurt and broken ships, big-and-little, on the other side."

    Admiral Drayson smiled with genuine humor, and said, "You know, I asked General Antilles about you. Do you know what he said? 'DuQuennes? Big mouth, lots of attitude. But he knows what he's doing. He's almost as good as he thinks he is.' I now know what he meant."

    "Wedge said that about me? Remind me to kick him in the mivonks the next time I see him."

    The Admiral ignored this, and asked, "So what are you going to do with that talent? Sit in a nice office, counting liters of air, until you retire?"

    Ash shrugged, and asked, "What else am I supposed to do? You just said I'm through being a pilot for the Republic. Should I resign and go work for some planetary militia or constabulary?"

    The Admiral responded softly, "Think outside the box, Ash. Think about those security thugs you saw on Perfection. Could you do a better job than them?"

    Ash spat out, "I wouldn't have taken that job in the first place!"

    The Admiral said, "I know you wouldn't. But, if you were in that line of work, that is, 'private security,' what sort of work would you take?"

    Ash finally saw what the Admiral was getting at, and asked incredulously, "Merc-work? Some sort of fly-and-fire-for-hire? Not exactly how I saw my career going at this point in my life."

    "But Ash," the Admiral said softly, "You don't have a career anymore; not in the Republic Defense Force. Just a succession of dead-end offices, shuffling data-chips around, banging out reports, and things like that. Is that how you saw your career going at this point in your life?"

    Looking at the Admiral though narrowed eyes, Ash asked, "Where are you headed with this, Admiral?"

    The Admiral considered this question for a moment, finishing his beer, before replying, "Ash, I can't get into the specifics of my current duties. But let's just say that I do odd jobs, in odd places. Well, not me, personally, but the people who work for me. I see and hear things. Like, that the Y-Wings are being phased out of service. That said phase-out is going to be accelerated, thanks to the Isolationists. Especially the two-seater versions you're so fond of."

    "Neither ForsCom*, PersCom*, nor TraDoc* were ever that into them, the two-seaters. The personnel and training requirements for an effective two-seater were not, in their opinion, offset by a significant enough tactical advantage to be worth the effort." Ash snorted derisively at that, but Admiral Drayson ignord it, and continued, "And a lot of those Bone pilots and gunners are going to be out of a job, and RIFd*. And that those ships are going to depots, for retirement, and after that, the scrap yard. Or auction."

    Ash worked past his disbelief, and began to seriously ponder what the Admiral was saying, and telling him.

    He slowly said, " think I might make a try at being some sort of 'private security' type...a fly-for-hire mercenary...but a kind of honorable one...that I might get others to join in with me...especially those RIFd Bone drivers and gunners...." Ash finally trailed off.

    "It's not altogether unreasonable," the Admiral said reasonably. "If you pay attention, you're in a decent position, there in Starfighter Logistics Command, to make the bureaucratic contacts to arrange for people, and ships, and all the stuff that might be necessary."

    Ash rolled this around some, mentally looking at it from several angles, before replying, "Admiral, I don't have that kind of cash. Hell, that's capital. I don't know of any bank that's going to take a 'flyer' on me and bank roll that kind of setup."

    Admiral Drayson pondered this for a few moments, before standing up and handing Ash the empty beer bottle, and saying, "Well, don't dismiss the idea out-of-hand. Think it over; sleep on it." Ash stood up to see the Admiral to the door. The male bodyguard went to the door, opened it, and looked up-and-down the hallway before motioning an "all clear." The female body guard moved up close to Admiral Drayson.

    "I will," Ash told him, but only half-heartedly. Ash didn't see any way around the singularly immense financial obstacle the idea presented.

    Picking up on Ash's doubt, Admiral Drayson stopped in the door way and informed him, seemingly as an afterthought, "Did you know Zylo and Anamiika are here on Coruscant? Skawn, too. They occasionally do 'odd-jobs' for me. I'm sure they'd be pleasantly surprised to hear from an old friend."

    "Really?" Ash asked.

    "Yes. Good night, Colonel. It was nice seeing you again."

    "And you, too, Sir. And, thank you, Admiral. For everything." Ash said sincerely, before closing the door.

    *Forces Command
    *Personnel Command
    *Training & Doctrine Command
    Last edited by Ash DuQuennes; 7 November 2015 at 04:45 PM.
    A. DuQuennes

    I am the one you warned me of.

  13. #13
    Moderator: Roleplaying Forum coldskier0320's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 2003
    The Steel City

    Default Kodi (Part 1)

    Kodi stood out on the tiny balcony of the apartment she and Hallyce were sharing, leaving the door behind her open as she gazed out over the Tirahnn spaceport. In the morning sun, the pristine hull plates of the ships taking off and landing shone like silver raindrops as their crews took the first steps of conducting the day’s business. Shifting her weight to the other leg, Kodi wished she could do the same. For now though, all she could do was stand on this tiny balcony, sip her tea (a surprisingly nice Chandrillan blend for a merc outfit’s accommodations), nibble half-heartedly at the pastry the autochef spat out at her, and wait.

    Since arriving late last night, local time, the small receiving party FireFly had sent to the spaceport to meet them had driven the squadron to this row of apartments and assured them that their superiors would be in contact the next morning, and that they should relax and get some sleep. After the long trip from Petabys Station, the group was only too happy to oblige; long hours spent in hyperspace, alone with one’s thoughts (and one’s astromech) in an X-wing was really not at all as comfortable or relaxing as it might seem to a casual observer.

    As was typical for Kodi, she had no trouble catching a bit of sleep when and where she could, meaning most of the hyperspace journey to Tirahnn, and again soon after they were left to their lodging for the night...but by the same token, she was also up far earlier than was strictly necessary in the morning.

    She heard Hal stirring in her room a long while before she heard the door swish open and Hal’s footsteps across the tiny kitchen, still she found herself snapping out of her thoughts as the still groggy Hal, never much of a morning person, came up behind her and croaked, “Nice tea.”

    “Thought you’d like it.”, Kodi agreed, taking another sip as if to confirm, before turning away from the spaceport traffic pattern to face her longtime friend, “Ready?”

    “Hell no.”, Hallyce frowned sleepily, still clad only in a robe, hair a mess, even in it’s severe, no-nonsense cut. Then with a raised eyebrow, “Are you?”

    Kodi, for her part already fully dressed in a neat jumpsuit, hair brushed and pulled back in a simple style, and the military picture of presentability answered candidly, “No.”

    With a nonverbal grunt, Hallyce stepped up to the balcony railing beside Kodi, and both turned back to the procession of traffic to and from low orbit taking place in the distance. For a long while, neither spoke. For Hallyce, because she was still waking up, for Kodi, because she was deep in thought, indulging herself in the luxury of having the time and foreknowledge of an upcoming ordeal to overthink the moment. There was a lot on the line, to be sure, and of many possible outcomes of the meeting today, only one was truly favorable. And while a lot of that outcome depended on how she acquitted herself, Kodi still agonized over the portion that relied entirely upon the thoughts and actions of others.

    As if speaking directly into her thoughts, Hal murmured, “Relax. Even if you flame out, it’s not like any of us are getting dusted today.”

    Kodi betrayed herself with a slight, but genuine smile, “I’ll have you there to bail me out in any case.”

    “I’m used to it.”, Hal teased as she ran a hand along the tangled mess atop her head, “They call yet?”.

    “Not yet. I’m guessing either just before or just after lunch. You know how it is.”

    “Mmm. On that note, how’s the grub?”, Hal asked, nodding toward the half finished pastry in Kodi’s hand. In response, she offered it to her. Taking a big bite, Hal started again, mouth full, “Taftes ‘ike ‘hippin’ foam.”

    “That’s why I offered it to you.”, Kodi grinned, “Beats ration cubes, though.”

    “Mm hmm”, Hal agreed, nodding...then frowning at the half eaten pastry, “Not by much though.”

    “Eh...I have cheap tastes.”

    Hal snorted, “Oh get over yourself, Fleet Girl. You never lived cheap in your life before throwing in with the Alliance.”

    “Not true!” Kodi objected, “I lived most of my childhood following dad around with the navy. Port to port, never in one place long enough to make friends or settle in...I was in my teens before we started spending months at a time back on Corellia.”

    “Ahh yes, the admiral’s daughter...”, Hal taunted.

    Before Kodi could issue a rebuttal, however, her comlink beeped from a pocket of her robe.

    “Morrigan.”, a brief moment, “Absolutely. The whole group, or just my XO and myself? Understood.”

    In the time it took for that short conversation, Hallyce’s demeanor had undergone a complete transformation, and she was all business, “How long do we have? Shall I muster the troops?”

    “One hour, and no. Their...uh...HR man? Skawn’han. He seems to be confident enough in his appraisal of myself...and you, no either accept or reject the rest of the crew. Basically, if they’re sold on me as a leader, that includes a vote of confidence on my past recruitment.”

    Hal shrugged, “Pragmatic.”

    Without looking up from her datapad, Kodi added, “The city computer says with current traffic conditions, it’s about a fifteen minute trip to the fighters. Go get ready, and be back here in fifteen. I’ll summon a robo-hack.”

    To Be Continued...
    W.W.G.D. - What would Grimace do?

    What kind of dust?
    Dirt-laced dust. Probably originating from the ground.

  14. #14
    Moderator: Roleplaying Forum coldskier0320's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 2003
    The Steel City

    Default Kodi (Part 2)

    Forty minutes later…

    The glowpanels in the cavernous freighter bay flickered to life as the motion detectors responded to the two women walking across the permacrete landing area.

    It didn’t take the Vipers long as freelance pilots to learn in their travels that it was far more cost-effective for all of them to share one large bay intended for a medium transport than to get separate shuttle bays or arrange for a block of slips with airlock systems set up for their small craft. Better still, such an arrangement put everyone together, usually with some sort of small office area that had all too often lately been utilized as cramped lodging. This bay was barely discernible from the last half-dozen such accomodations they’d hung their helmets in over the past few months, but in that, it certainly managed to feel close enough to home for a group that had been bouncing around this part of space since leaving their military roles...not to mention those same military roles.

    “I told you they wouldn’t be here yet.”, Hallyce murmured at Kodi’s side as they neared the middle of the twin rows of six silent fighters each, facing one another in the now clinically bright lighting.

    “Yeah, well, they’ve still got twenty minutes.”

    “So...our contacts. Skawn’han...and Ash...something…”

    “DuQuennes. Do you remember nothing important that I tell you?”, Kodi hissed impatiently. For as much as she loved Hal, she really had a way of getting under Kodi’s skin, usually at the worst now.

    “Just messing with you. Lighten up.”, Hal brushed away the rebuke, “So anyway...they’re ex-Republic, right? How ‘strict military’ did they seem from what contact you’ve had thus far?”

    “Well it’s hard to tell. I mean...they’re in roughly the same position as us...only with far more funding, personnel, and equipment...a wider skillset, permanent residence, steady work, and prospects for future expansion and profit.”

    “So they’re nothing like us. Fantastic. And that doesn’t answer my question.”

    Kodi thought for a moment, then continued, “I suppose they’re relying on their military background to see them through the gradual transition away from that life. It’s better to be too strict and stifling at first because once you lose that, it’s impossible to get back. That said, though, they seem like a reasonable sort. As long as everything is getting done, they seem like they’d be pretty content to let their people do their thing.”

    “So I won’t have to go off-base to smoke for a change? I’ve changed my mind; let’s try to get this job.”

    Kodi smiled in spite of herself, shaking her head a bit. For all of Hal’s refusal to take anything seriously in life that occurred outside of a cockpit, every once in a while, it seemed to be just what Kodi needed. Of course, a moment later when she started to dig her pack of nic sticks from an arm pocket, the withering glare from Kodi assured Hal that her friend was still plenty nervous.

    As Hal replaced the pocket flap, the personnel access door at the far end of the cavernous bay swished open, and two individuals strode through, one human, one twi’lek. Kodi resisted the urge to snap to attention, suddenly aware of how much of her life she’d spent in some sort of military role.

    When the pair neared Kodi and Hal, the twi’lek swept an arm out and nodded, “Greetings, Ms. Morrigan”, then a nod to Hal, “...and Ms. Ardo-kai. Though I’m sure our envoys sent along our salutation, allow me to welcome you both, along with the rest of your squadron, to Tirahnn...both personally, and on behalf of FireFly. I am Skawn’han, and this is Ash DuQuennes, the head of our starfighter contingent. I trust your stay thus far has been pleasant?”

    “Of course”, Kodi responded, doing her best to mimic the twi’lek’s graceful nod, “and thank you for handling the accommodations. I understand those rooms were set aside due to your influence?”

    Skawn, for his part, brushed the compliment aside casually, “My associates and I like to make sure prospective business partners are comfortable during their stay.” he said simply, then continued without hesitation, “If you’d prefer to continue our conversation in a more comfortable environment, we’ve made arrangements at a local cafe.”

    While well-mannered, Kodi by no means had the sabacc face of a true diplomat like her mother...or Skawn for that matter...and at this, the shift in her attitude was perceptible across her face. Skawn saw it and noted it as an expected event. Ash detected it as well because while he experience the same reaction, years with Skawn had him hiding it better: the momentary flash of confusion when Skawn implied that a fighter bay was somehow uncomfortable, or a less than ideal location for a meeting. While it was by no means a deal maker, Ash was nonetheless pleased to see the reaction of a real fighter jock, who’d spent more time in this kind of setting than not. As they walked toward the door the two men had used to enter, Kodi introduced herself, and Hal, more formally.

    “As you know, I am Kodi Morrigan, former commander and squadron leader for Viper Squadron, Republic Third Battle group. Before my time with the Alliance, I attended the Imperial Academy, and briefly worked as analyst...for Raith Sienar...on Corulag.”

    At this, both men mentally perked up. Though they had their fair share of core worlders in the organization, and even several highly placed within the Empire, Sienar plus Corulag meant experimental TIE designs...certainly a unique distinction that few fighter pilots could place on their resume. Before either could inquire further, they were climbing back into the open-top speeder, and Kodi continued.

    “ Ms. Hallyce Ardo-kai, of Chandrilla. She also attended the Academy with me, then returned home to serve in the CDF before coming to Corulag on my recommendation. She was part of my research team, and my flight partner for most exercises and tests. After our resignation, she has flown as my wing more often than not, but as we fly now, she’s currently flying as Viper Three, and is my XO and right hand woman.”
    W.W.G.D. - What would Grimace do?

    What kind of dust?
    Dirt-laced dust. Probably originating from the ground.

  15. #15
    Moderator: Roleplaying Forum coldskier0320's Avatar
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    January 2003
    The Steel City

    Default Kodi (Part 3)

    Kodi paused for a moment, and Ash spoke for the first time, “Research team? Sienar? Tell me more.”, looking to Hallyce, “Chandrillan? We’ll talk about that momentarily.”

    “Agreed. I’d read your records, but there’s precious little on the Imperial portion of your service. This is something I’m very interested in hearing about, especially from the source.”, Skawn added.

    “Not Imperial.”, Kodi clarified, holding up a cautionary hand, “When I left the Academy, I was passed over for many commissions, as were most female graduates.” Her eyes shifted meaningfully toward Hallyce, “I met Mr. Sienar on Coruscant at this time and was offered a job in the private sector with his company. I spent the next several years, until just before the destruction of Alderaan, working as part of a research team that reported directly to Raith Sienar from the Corulag facility.”

    “Fair enough”, Skawn conceded, “You mentioned leaving Sienar’s employ prior to your throwing in with the Rebellion. What prompted this defection?”

    “I won’t presume to speak for Hallyce, but for me, it was very much a two stage decision. First, the decision to leave Sienar and his company, second, the decision to support the Alliance with more than simple ideology. In fairness, though, the two were strongly linked, and I prepared for eventual defection months before I actually made it happen.”

    “How did you manage that? And why wait?”, Ash jumped in.

    “By creating a memory cache, bio-coded only to myself and my research team. Within the cache, I held complete technical readouts, performance and stress analyses, spec sheets, materials tests results, sourcing documentation, tactical data, purchase order requests, shipping records, design variant details, and responsive data...all for what was then the cutting edge of starfighter design and the focus of my research: the TIE interceptor. Understandably, the Rebels at that time were suspicious of anyone with Imperial connections just strolling in and asking for something to do...offering this package would make proving the honesty of any defection short of Tarkin himself a fait accompli. As it happened, I wasn’t wrong.”

    Ash whistled. Even Skawn paused. But the twi’lek was quicker to move on, “My colleague also asked why you delayed your decision.”

    “Family mostly. The way the Empire was at that time, I had no idea how news of my throwing in with the Rebellion would affect my parents. My father was a flag officer at the time, commanding an entire task force in the Corellian sector. He’d served since the Clone Wars, and had long been considering retirement, but as the reports of atrocities kept coming in, he eventually decided it was time. As soon as I learned of his retirement, I put out feelers for a local cell. I was in the process of training and integration into a cell or military unit when the reports of Alderaan came through, and with the wave of recruits that brought in, I quickly got fast tracked into my crack at a fighter group. Naturally, I met their expectations.”

    There’s the snubjock ego. Ash thought to himself. She keeps it on a leash, but it’s there in full force. Good.

    “Naturally.”, Skawn agreed evenly, “And your team? You mentioned they defected with you...or at least defected inasmuch as one might call going from being a leading researcher for one of the top Imperial defense contractors, to stealing sensitive information and joining the rebellion against the Empire within a matter of months...a defection.”

    Kodi smiled thinly, and when Skawn returned the smile, she continued, “Fair enough. Yes, my team...four pilots...all disillusioned with the Empire, decided to resign from the research facility together. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as when one member of a team like that leaves, the team is always dissolved, and the individual remaining members are usually permanently transferred out of department anyway, but yes, we left together, and we joined the Rebellion together. Four of us: a Corellian, a Chandrillan, and two Alderaanians. I suppose you could say it was only natural, considering that.”

    At this, Ash was reminded of this common bond with Kodi’s right hand woman. Addressing Hallyce directly, he asked, “About that...Ms. Morrigan said you were CDF...when and where within the force?”

    “Only very briefly.”, Hallyce answered directly, “Kodi and I left the Academy together, and while she hung around Imperial Center for a commission, I went straight back to Chandrilla and received a commission with the CDF immediately. I started out as a flight leader for the fighter corps, and was promoted to squadron leader within a year. Of course, soon after that promotion, Kodi approached me with the Sienar offer, and after a bit of discussion between my superiors and the Sienar reps that came to Chandrilla to speak with me, I received an indefinite transfer. I suppose by the books, I’m still listed as ‘inactive’ rather than being completely absent from the CDF rosters.”

    “You are.”, Skawn chimed in, “We tried to do as much reading about you as possible before your arrival on Tirahnn, and that was one of the few sets of records where it was fairly easy to find your name for that time period.”

    Ash continued, “How closely did you work with Admiral Drayson?”

    “As rarely as I could. When I joined, he was there to welcome my group to the Force. A month later, he was on the judiciary panel when I got written up for...uh…conduct unbecoming an officer.”

    Wordless, the raised eyebrows and expressions from Skawn and Ash did all the talking, and even Hal knew she’d better explain herself.

    “I was on a weekend pass with a few friends. Went to a bar one night and a few guys were coming on a little too strong. Told them to back off, they wouldn’t take the hint. One grabbed my arm and I made the point very clear to him.”

    “That wouldn’t get you written up.”, Ash pressed, “Not in the CDF I know.”

    “ didn’t help that it was some wealthy investor’s son…”

    A stare from Ash.

    “...or that he was out cold...along with both of his friends by the time the police showed up.”

    This seemed to both slightly amuse and satisfy Ash, as he sat back slightly into his seat.

    “Hal…”, Kodi started, with a pained tone.

    “Okay, probably had a lot more to do with the fact that that I posed over the out cold creep like a big game hunter over a kill, with a great big smile for the holos.”

    “There it is.”, Ash agreed, now smiling contrast to his partner Skawn, who, for his part seemed to regard Hal as if she were mildly disturbed.

    “My XO is not one for subtlety.”, Kodi added, superfluously.

    Ash continued, “If there’s one thing most Chandrillans don’t like, it’s someone who has fun in an awkward situation. You’re lucky you didn't get shown the door for that one.”

    “Don’t I know it. I think that’s part of the reason my transfer papers went through so smoothly.”

    “No doubt”, Ash agreed, nodding as the speeder came to a stop near a small restaurant, and the four exited the small craft, “But getting back to the matter at hand, you left a squadron leader position to take a position as...a flight leader?”

    “Not even. It wasn't a military command structure at Sienar...more corporate...or even academic. Kodi was the testing lead, and the research team consisted of just the four of us pilots and about a dozen scientists, one of which was the development lead. It was an endless back and forth...discuss, design, prototype, test. Lather, rinse, repeat. Every so many cycles, they’d release a new baseline model across all the research teams like ours on the TIE project, and the process would begin anew, working from that platform. Usually, you’d see one or two changes to the new baseline that were distinctively from your own group.”

    “Sounds like interesting work.”, Skawn mused as they sat at a table on an outdoor balcony, then addressing Kodi, “Anything else to add about your work with Sienar? What were your responsibilities as testing lead?”

    “As far as the typical routine, Hal knew it every bit as much as I did. My role as a test lead was mostly an interpreter, converting my team’s pilot-speak, to practical reports in language that engineers could make sense of. Sort of quantifying the difference between, say, a shimmy and a wobble. In the other direction, I had to take the very technical details and testing requirements of the engineers and translate them into test flights and sims that would put specific systems to the test. Life as a test pilot is all about riding right along the razor’s edge...but knowing to stop before you slice yourself. It’s a job for a young a fighter everything it can handle...landing in a space dock and seeing the hull stress points glowing hot from the strain...I can’t say I’d want to do it again, but it’s an experience I’m very glad I had.”

    Ash half-nodded in agreement taking a sip of tea, before responding further, “If you feel that test piloting is a young pilot’s turf, what makes being a combat pilot any different? You came up through the war just like I did, you know how it is. Was. What makes a furball any better a place for an old pilot?”

    “A furball is different because experience is a factor. Testing, there’s no external’s just you and your craft, and your whole job is to push it til it breaks. You don’t have to be defensive minded or think about how your maneuver might leave you open to threat. Likewise, you don’t have to worry about a wingman, or directing an entire squadron, and there’s no overall objective aside from the flying itself. Testing really accommodates the one-track mind, and in a furball, you’re never offered that luxury.”
    W.W.G.D. - What would Grimace do?

    What kind of dust?
    Dirt-laced dust. Probably originating from the ground.

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