Hull 721, plot arc the second

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2010-09-04 12:27am

Vianca wrote:Nea, they mounted that thing in the ISD's spine.
Thus blocking off any possibly movement of heavy gear inside the ship....

It's that or moving rooms into storage.
Mmm, just check Wookieepedia, looks like he removed rooms since he didn't need them anyway.
Even so, there are issues of power trunking, bracing... it's got to be a very nontrivial operation; if it were easy to do more than one person in the galaxy would have done it. It's not unreasonable, but it does imply that Terrik must have been able to get his hands on the parts and maintenance facilities to do the work, or find a way to do the work on a shoestring budget by exploiting the ship's own resources (which is how Mirannon would have done it).
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2010-09-05 06:12pm

With the Errant Venture, it's not so much the big gun, although they probably did have to rip off the bow of the ship to fit it, it's the power systems- there's no way to cram that kind of generating capacity into an Imperator, not without very large and obvious bulges, it has to charge up, and the mind boggles at the thought of how vulnerable and volatile the energy storage banks for the bloody thing would have to be.

As an aside, I read some pop-sci article years ago about maximum-efficiency computing, how much information could physically be crammed into a space, can't track the article down- googling "litre of light" produces lots about lubrication and beer, but nothing about photons per cubic centimetre- but I remember reading it and thinking it wasn't a computer, it was a capacitor they were describing.

A high proportion of the ships that survive into the New Republic era are modified, but the most important word in that sentence may be 'survive'. The breakup of the Empire caused the destruction by fratricide of most of the class, and the continued existence of so many of the tinkered-up ones may be partly due to whatever advantages the modifications gain them, but equally likely to their sitting in some dockyard somewhere out of it for a while.

The confusing bit is Skorb; he was trying to get through by pretending to play the bluff old spacedog, and it didn't work, he was forced to admit to being quite intelligent after all, and this is him admitting it and Aldrem calling him on it.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2010-09-05 07:50pm

Certainly possible. But the point remains; modification of surviving star destroyers is hardly unpopular in the post-Endor era. Especially for someone who spends a lot of time figuring out how to effect repairs on their ships using onboard resources. Errant Venture isn't an exemplar of the ideal ISD modification; it's just a poster child for modification.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2010-09-06 12:49am

The Death Star's main weapon is realy several lasers firing togeter.
Is it possible that Terrik Booster found a way to do this with standaard Star Destroyer laser weapons?
The Clone Wars have heavy shuttles with similiar laser weapon pods, thus those plans should be easy to get, especially for a weapon dealer.

And then there is the quistion of: Is there a limith on weapon size/weight with private ships?
I rather have 9 standaard heavy ion canons and one planetary ion canon then 10 standaard ion canons.
The rumors about any super weapon might be just that, rumors.
Terrik Booster might just be able to get away with things by doing them non standaard.
Death Star style laser array options for his remaining ten heavy turbo lasers, some of his ten heavy ion canons replaced with the planetary version, ect, ect.

Errant Venture.
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Marko Dash » 2010-09-06 06:21am

it's good to see Vader portrayed as being good at his job.

most fanfiction, especially post epIII, always write him as a black armored whining emo psychopath. they seem to forget that he did co-lead one of the most successful fleets in the wartime republic, and i believe obiwan was a fish out of water once outside an atmosphere.
If a black-hawk flies over a light show and is not harmed, does that make it immune to lasers?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Crazedwraith » 2010-09-06 04:33pm

Nice chapter. Though I didn't think it likely Aldrem wouldn't get off. Though hopefully the end of this plot line will encourage some of the other to started gathering pace/colliding with each other.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby darthdavid » 2010-09-06 04:49pm

Vianca wrote:The Death Star's main weapon is realy several lasers firing togeter.
Is it possible that Terrik Booster found a way to do this with standaard Star Destroyer laser weapons?
The Clone Wars have heavy shuttles with similiar laser weapon pods, thus those plans should be easy to get, especially for a weapon dealer.

And then there is the quistion of: Is there a limith on weapon size/weight with private ships?
I rather have 9 standaard heavy ion canons and one planetary ion canon then 10 standaard ion canons.
The rumors about any super weapon might be just that, rumors.
Terrik Booster might just be able to get away with things by doing them non standaard.
Death Star style laser array options for his remaining ten heavy turbo lasers, some of his ten heavy ion canons replaced with the planetary version, ect, ect.

Errant Venture.

IIRC, it's not a question of being 'allowed' with planetary ions, they use the ground as a heat sink and there's just no way for them to dump enough heat on an ISD sized vessel.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2010-09-06 05:23pm

darthdavid wrote:
Vianca wrote:The Death Star's main weapon is realy several lasers firing togeter.
Is it possible that Terrik Booster found a way to do this with standaard Star Destroyer laser weapons?
The Clone Wars have heavy shuttles with similiar laser weapon pods, thus those plans should be easy to get, especially for a weapon dealer.

And then there is the quistion of: Is there a limith on weapon size/weight with private ships?
I rather have 9 standaard heavy ion canons and one planetary ion canon then 10 standaard ion canons.
The rumors about any super weapon might be just that, rumors.
Terrik Booster might just be able to get away with things by doing them non standaard.
Death Star style laser array options for his remaining ten heavy turbo lasers, some of his ten heavy ion canons replaced with the planetary version, ect, ect.

Errant Venture.

IIRC, it's not a question of being 'allowed' with planetary ions, they use the ground as a heat sink and there's just no way for them to dump enough heat on an ISD sized vessel.

Reactor and STL-drive engines perhaps?
Maybe somekinda heat gun?
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby darthdavid » 2010-09-06 09:42pm

Vianca wrote:Reactor and STL-drive engines perhaps?
Maybe somekinda heat gun?

I'm pretty sure that the second law of thermodynamics makes those sorts of shenanigans impossible, but you'd have to ask someone else about it because it's been a while since I've studied that and I'm a little fuzzy on the details at the moment...

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2010-10-03 06:20pm

Further segment of ch 18;

Another hospital bed, Rafaella grumbled to herself. At least this one was in a reasonably well lit...dreck.

Her memory caught up with her, and replayed the last few seconds of consciousness, and there were stormtroopers in there. So we ran out of options, she thought. Tentatively, she tried to move. Most things worked- her foot didn't hurt. No obvious restraints.

That was even more worrying. She tried to sit up, managed it- medical facility, impossible to tell for sure but probably not on a ship, too lavishly spaced out for that. Pastel- green and blue walls, soothing colours to most species- a civilian facility?

Either that, or a highly improbably decorated Imperial facility. She brought her eyes into focus, and wished she hadn't. Small private room, chair, guards. One officer, dressed in the stark simplicity of Imperial Starfleet working uniform.

Tall, dark haired, medium-fair skin, she had no clue what the rank insignia meant in detail, but probably not a senior officer. 'So, what happens next?' she asked him.

He looked very surprised by that, so obviously hadn't been expecting to have that thrown at him that he was either completely unconnected, or a really bad actor. In fact, he was the doc.

'I'm sorry? I'm your physician, Diagnostician-Lieutenant Thirbhnhald. You have several interesting conditions that-'

'You're going to be responsible for stitching me back together after what's supposed to happen next, happens; just wait, I'll probably have acquired a few more by then.' The gallows humour affected him a lot more than it did her.

'Oh. Feeling doomed is a symptom of several metabolic disorders, but- what is it you do for a living?' he said, visibly pulling himself back to the professional which was apparently almost as disturbing.

'At the moment, political prisoner. I'm actually thinking I need a change, the pay and conditions are lousy.' she said. She was starting to worry too, but cautiously. This could be a trick, she hardly knew what, but a soft interrogation, one that only a certifiable paranoid would realise was an interrogation- yes, that would make sense.

'What was your last legitimate occupation? It says here, archaeology student. Is that true? More to the point, have you ever received any kind of panimmunity treatment?'

'Why, specifically, do you ask?' she said, carefully. He could still be official and probing for information, but he was a very good actor if that was true. Which he would be, of course.

'Let me put it the other way. Have you ever investigated the remains of a bioweapon arsenal? Archaeologised- searched, what the word is- a plague ship? Dug up a graveyard full of hermetically sealed coffins? Anything like that?'

'Why, am I contagious?' she said, considering it. Digging up old nasties was a recognised hazard of the profession, and as far as she knew, or the university med centre knew, she had a clean bill of health.

Not according to the naval doctor. 'You really ought to be dead. You have traces of eight toxins and bacterial secretions which, individually, survival chances at most probable dose are usually under ten percent. Eleven more, less severe but still life threatening.'

She thought she understood the situation now. 'I suppose there will have to be tests?'

'Oh yes, definitely. We have to establish how you got out with your life...' the situation sank in.

'Say that again in six months.' she said, and was not at all surprised when a voice behind him called him away. There was a shimmer in the air- she focused on it, evidently she was in some kind of airlock of containment fields, there had been one between him and her at all times. He had just stepped back past the second.

They were either going to wait hours and let me stew, or do this straight away, she thought- and they decided to follow up directly. There was a short moment before the far side of the forcefield airlock slid open and another man stepped into it, more senior and a line officer.

She pre-empted him. 'Congratulations,' Raffaella said, 'you have a very elegant threat mechanism. Torture by chemotherapy is a nasty, nasty option, although admittedly the medicalisation of dissent is hardly new.'

He hadn't even had time to introduce himself, and this already. He was a Senior Lieutenant, one of the Rear- Admiral's aides, and had, he now suspected deliberately, not been fully briefed- sent in as a sounding device, to see what sort of impression she would make on him.

He could say something like “so why do you think we would want to torture you?” but, captured in the company of known rebels, it was alas fairly obvious. Still, she wasn't down as a primary investigative target. 'Why do you assume the worst?'

'I'd have to be a complete Pollyanna to assume the best.' she pointed out.

She hadn't had time to think about her options, had automatically assumed that she was in deep trouble- and the less trouble she appeared to be in, the deeper and more political the waters actually were. He looked quite surprised, though; is there a chance of blagging my way to better status? she asked herself.

Considering that better would include anything other than death row, it might be worth a shot. Although more information would be a good thing to have. 'Actually, I'm not sure I know anything worth interrogating me for; the only rebels I could point you to are the ones you captured with me anyway.'

Not actually true; there were a few bits of the past that really weren't the way the government liked to hear it told, and there was a small bank robbery, but best not go into detail.

'You are more valuable to us for who you are, rather than what you know.' the officer confirmed.

'Damnit, it's true.' she said, and he looked at her quizzically. 'Even a postgraduate archaeology degree doesn't get you far in the modern workplace.'

'Most people, in your position, would be terrified.' he pointed out. She was pretty, and witty, and quite probably as doomed as she thought she was. Not being of primary interest wasn't necessarily enough to spare her.

'What would be the use of that?' she bounced back. 'You've already essentially confirmed that the worst is going to happen anyway, all I can really hope for is that I can learn to scream with dignity.'

'Very few people have ever managed that, trust me on this.' he said heavily, confirming her suspicions that he was staff, and intel at that, rather than a harmless line officer.

'Besides,' he added, 'if you're trying to get me to reassure you and say that the worst might not happen, forget it. You're perfectly capable of talking yourself into a session through sheer sassiness alone.'

'The fact that I was being held hostage by the rebels, because of my family connections to the Empire, doesn't mean anything at all?' she said, wondering if it was smart to dwell on it.

He sighed, and tried again. 'Your status is... complicated, and bringing up your family connections might not achieve what you think it will.' He actually did make that sound more like a warning than a threat, this time at least.

'Well done, you manage to make it sound like you almost care- actually, we've hardly been properly introduced. What specific interest holds me?' she said, contrarily.

'The Empire holds you, of course.' he said, both of them knowing that it wasn't that simple, and he offering her a brick wall to see if she would take his advice about not asking.

She wouldn't, of course. 'Go on, add that there are no internal politics involved; I want to see if you can manage to make that sound even remotely believable.'

'Do you think I was kidding about talking yourself into trouble?' he replied.

'Do you think I was kidding about being there already?' she snapped back.

Actually, a frightening possibility had occurred to her. Pain- being driven in on herself- tended to drive her closer to the Force. Brought more visions and hallucinations, anyway.

In fact, the diagnostician- lieutenant had had a point; there had been toxic digs, precautions had been taken and medical scans taken afterwards, but...that damned dungeon-ship, she realised.

She had been crawling all over it, trying to get at enough of it's systems to shut it down, through who knew what stew of centuries old bioresidue, persistent poison and drug traces and industrial toxins related to working the ship.

I did feel like dreck afterwards, she realised, but I put it down to exhaustion, stress and grief; if I was unwittingly calling on the Force to purge that and keep me alive- that makes sense. It also makes me more valuable to them and my position even worse, she realised.

He didn't cue in on the details, obviously, but he did notice her pause to think ugly thoughts. 'You're in the hands of Starfleet Special Operations.' he decided to tell her.

Ah, dreck. 'Palpatine's Own?' she guessed.

'Close enough for practical purposes.' he said, and turned to leave.

He didn't make it. The worm turned- or at least decided there was no future in being wriggly. Let's see how well they managed to fix my foot, Raffaella decided, and vaulted off her high hospital bed- leading with the one she knew worked, no sense getting overoptimistic- aiming for his head.

She landed a flying kick in the naval officer's face; as he collapsed, she compounded by landing- with more grace than she had thought she possessed- on his stomach. Something squished.

He was in no state to stop her grabbing him, banging his head off the floor and shouting 'No, you listen to me. I have had enough, enough of being pushed around, threatened, intimidated, arrested, stunned, bullied-'

she would have gone on, but it was obvious he was in no condition to listen, and his jaw was in too many pieces to make an answer. She hauled him to his feet, and it was too easy.

For a moment she wondered if the Force was taking an interest, and if so, which side. Knowing that now, she had been lucky to reach adulthood sane; she had an active imagination as a kid, and it would have been easy to let childhood dreams and fantasies carry her away into laa-laa land, floating disconnected on the force.

That she hadn't, that most people thought she had overcompensated and was much too controlled, was another reason to be thankful for her adoptive parents. They had both been familiar with the ugly side of life, being a nurse and a cop, and while they certainly hadn't held it up to her and rubbed her nose in it, they had generally refused to sugar-coat and fairy-tale.

That was probably one of the reasons she had become an archaeologist, that collection of educated guesses trying to raise itself to a science; searching for rigour in all the wrong places probably did have something to do with the force, or at least coping with it.

Something similar must have happened to my father, she thought, to turn him into a practising combat mathematician- and what would my mother, the light side Jedi, say? Well as far as I'm concerned, she thought, this definitely falls under the heading of using the force for knowledge and defence.

She took his sidearm, pushed it into the small of his back, and shoved him into the containment field. He yelped, but didn't seem to burn or dematerialise, so she stepped through it after him with eyes closed- it felt like an instant and slightly acid bath, tinglingly clean- and emerged in front of a closed doorway.

Door, not hatch. Sealable and currently sealed, but at least it didn't look naval- although the lock had clearly recently been changed. She took his rank cylinder and waved it at the lock, nothing happened. Smenge, biometrics, she thought, and wrapped his hand round the cylinder and held his hand up- that worked.

The hatch opened, she shoved him, stumbling, through it first, let the distraction buy her a little time; followed close behind with gun already raised. There were two guards, stormtroopers; she shot the first while he still had his hands full of lieutenant, managed to nail the second before he could get his gun up.

They both dropped. Of all the things, she thought, that I never wanted to turn out to be good at...

Next thing to do was to find a way out. For a moment she thought of stealing one of the suits of stormtrooper armour, but decided against it- no training. That left her in a hospital gown.

In a hospital, at least, which was something. A leaf in a forest- albeit potentially armed, there were two carbines for the taking, and preventing deforestation was a positive thing, at least for the leaf.

Take one and set to stun, hide it under the gown- not great, but enough to avoid a casual eye. It would be easier to get lost in the chaos, she thought, if there was some chaos to get lost in; this seemed to be a complex of private rooms, the posh wing of the hospital.

Could be some sort of elaborate mind- screw, but the feel was wrong, the air, the walls, the place just seemed like a large and busy institution whose procedures had probably gone a bit soft round the edges from stress and overwork.

The wing must have looked something like fennel from the air or on the plans, a spread of spreads from a common entrance, and she was lurking just outside it trying to figure out a more subtle method than blaster fire of getting out when she heard an irate droid voice call 'Lieutenant.'

Dive into the staff freshers, close the door and place an ear against it, listening to the robotic ward-sister ranting at a voice she recognised as the naval medic who had been first in.

'Your special patient, the one you commandeered one of our most expensive recovery rooms for- she has discharged herself. In your lexicon, escaped.'

'What?' Thirbhnhald said. 'She's ill, she's toxic, she-'

'She is quite fit enough, the droid cut across him, 'to reduce one of your colleagues and two stormtroopers- whose medical records are so incomplete and unlikely we may have to demand indemnities and waivers before attempting treatment, your record keeping is shockingly bad-

she reduced them to patients themselves.' Rafaella grinned; she could tell what was coming next. Also with relief, that she hadn't actually killed them. 'That's another three bed spaces you're taking up- you will be billed for this.'

Thirbhnhald burbled a little, there was a hissing noise behind her, and Rafaella turned to spot one of the staff emerging from a fresher cubicle. Surprise was on her side.

She looked ready to scream, so Rafaella went straight for the pressure points; a couple of stiff-fingered jabs later, she emerged from the freshers in the gown of a junior house officer- student doctor, in other words.

Assuming I haven't been kept under sedation for months on end, she thought, it's roughly 260- the start of the killing season. Perfect, luck is with me for once; an ideal excuse for dodgy biometrics, imperfect knowledge and wandering around aimlessly.

Which turned out to be not far from the truth; how many levels and wings did this place have? Enough that no-one who worked here was remotely surprised by a lost JHO, anyway. At least it actually seemed to be on the surface of a planet somewhere.

She asked everyone who stopped her for directions to accident and emergency, guessing that it, at least, would possess some kind of exit from this mad maze; and when she got there she realised she had made a mistake.

She had been thinking chaos, motion, easy to slip out in the confusion; unfortunately not that easy- A&E was where the nutters and other assorted civilians were filtered into the hospital, and it had a lot of security. Should have gone for Outpatients, she realised.

It was still a sprawling maze in it's own right- there were signs and arrows on ceiling and floor to half a dozen separate admittance wards with their own clusters of waiting and examining rooms, patients must be triaged at the entrance and directed to one of the admittance zones.

She was passing through one, trying to split the difference between looking lost enough that she had a cover story ready and not so lost that anyone tried to help her, when there was a loud series of beeps from one of the cubicles just on her left.

What a moment for someone to have a medical emergency. She looked round; eyes were starting to turn towards, she was dressed as a student doctor, she might be able to plead ignorance but...

she drew back the curtain and looked in. It was a Krevaaki, a tentacled insectoid and one of the very few species whose physiology she actually knew anything about- partly from 'ewww' factor, but- he (she, it?, no- by the chart at least, he) looked as if they were on the way out.

Conscience jumped Expediency while it was focused on something else, and she stepped into the cubicle. Ten thousand years, she thought, how much can have changed? All I want to do is get out, and here I am playing kriffing first responder.

They had a weird, warped system of breathing- gaseous diffusion should have stopped any insectoid getting to a respectable size for a general purpose lifeform, but the usual collection of evolutionary flukes had wobbled them towards forced draft; never mind biology inventing the wheel, in the Krevaaki it had taken a damn' good stab at inventing the turbine compressor.

There were all sorts of physiological things that could go wrong that were a bastard to treat in an exoskeletal lifeform; by the time she had got her bearings and assembled her random collection of lore into something that made vague medical sense, there were five other people looking at her.

'Right, ipotic acid, two thousand milligrams in solution, dribble it through the orifice- massage, those plates that are moving, work with them, stimulant, got to increase muscular oxygen demand, stabilise high then cool.' She said, to nobody in particular, and was surprised to find them doing it.

Basically, it looked like an aggravated obstruction- something he was allergic to had got stuck in the breathing intake and caused a toxic shock to the tissue around it. She thought.

They were not a particularly popular species, having very opaque body language- it was almost impossible to tell what they were thinking, the occasional failure of communication had got out of hand, and the ugly details of what had been done to them and what they had done to each other were where she had picked up what she knew of their anatomy.

She was probably going to kill the poor bastard; was there nobody else here who knew what they were doing? No-one prepared to take over, no-one for that matter who could tell she was bluffing? Now there was a truly terrifying thought.

Almost as bad as the fact that it seemed to be working. The intake plates were whistling, air was being drawn in and circulated, but not enough, not fast enough- 'Restraint, please. Him, not me. I'm going to physically stimulate the, damn, Zonules of Ylbik.'

As he went eerily still for a moment, then started to thrash violently, siezing again, “physically stimulate” turned out to mean punching him in the equivalent of the adrenal glands. If it wasn't kill or cure before, she thought...

He convulsed wildly, tentacles lashing about, she had to duck out of the way of most of them, there was some commotion behind her, but the biomonitors were saying she had done the right thing, the obstruction was at least clear of the main inlet and being broken down by the acid their flesh was resistant to into pieces small enough to be cleared.

'Right, he's osmosing again. Now-' she said, and turned round to find what the commotion had been about; it had been replaced by a heavy, white-filled silence and she was looking down the bores of three guns.

'Now you come with us.' the stormtrooper sargeant said.

She still had the sidearm, but where there were three stormtroopers there were likely quite a lot more. She might manage to bluff her way out on the strength of the Force, but- oh kriff, that was right, if they were doing tests that extensive they would have taken a midi count.

They knew, and they were taking no chances. As soon as they saw her hesitate and try to think what to do, they shot her with stun bolts. This time, she didn't black out, just wished she had. Nerves on fire with the shock of the bolt, agonised and paralysed, she was unable to stop them picking her up and carrying her.

They led her to a glass-walled office with the name “Dr W. Domus” on the door; whoever he was, he was terribly disorganised, papers and journals and children's toys- why?- and gadgets strewn everywhere.

It was a fairly safe bet that he had been turfed out of his office to make room for the piercing- red eyed, blue- skinned humanoid in naval uniform currently occupying his desk.

The stormtroopers dumped her on the chair facing the cluttered desk and waited outside; the non- human was obviously trying to show that he felt no fear of her, he didn't need them to protect him. It would have been a good psychological move, except that in her current state she thought it was probably true.

Why settle for half measures? 'What do I have to do to you to get your guards to shoot me properly? Would trying to claw your eyeballs out and strangle you with your own optic nerves be enough?'

The chiss rear admiral was outwardly unruffled. He had already read all of the relevant files there were to hand, digested them, correlated them and planned accordingly. Now he was evaluating the young woman in front of him, to see if the files had been accurate, and what adjustments would need to be made.

'Turning against the state,' he began, 'is an undesirable outcome; if it carries enough pain, apprehension and misery with it to drive you to a state of suicidal foolishness, as a serving officer I cannot say that displeases me. Also, you do have a strange manner of introducing yourself.'

'Is it foolish to be tired of being on the receiving end? Fed up with being a victim? I seem to have acquired this habit of having strange things happen to me, and I don't want to take it any more.'

'So you decide to turn to me to be relieved of all your problems?' the chiss looked her over carefully, trying both to gauge what of her father there was in her, and subtract him to see how she stood purely on her own.

Her midi count had been an unpleasant revelation- that seriously limited the available options. Her aunt was high but subcritical, three hundred or so, her mother was an unknown; that left her father. The chiss was only refusing to rule that out on the general principle that once the impossible had been eliminated, whatever was left, no matter how improbable...

The possibility of using her as conspirator bait had crossed his mind, and been dismissed for the same reason he had objected to the first version of the sideways-to-the-truth plan; no aftertouch.

She would disappear into a black labyrinth of cultists and acolytes, in which minds were readily mined, loyalties were easily unmade and remade, and who could control what would happen from there? Certainly no-one outside the labyrinth.

There had been time to do a little background digging, she was a postgraduate teaching assistant, and apparently with a real talent for the physical side of the job that almost but not quite managed to hide how sharp she actually was.

Sacrificing her to the dark side would have been unfortunate but necessary- if there was any actual objective to be served by it. There was not; but there was something else she could usefully do, which was to serve as a spur to her father by presenting the possibility.

'Considering the state your aunt and her husband are in, If I do not have intelligence service games played with them I needs must condemn them out of hand. They have put themselves so far beyond the pale that, for them at this stage, to be used and abused for political gain is mercy.

You, by contrast, are declaring defeat a shade too soon. Would you say that you are a professional cynic and miserabilist, prone to meticulous spin-resonance analysis of the oesophagea of the offered equine?'

'I can't imagine what you would consider to be a positive outcome from this mess, that I would agree was a positive for me. Intelligence service games, you said.' she stalled for time. She suspected that whatever way out the nonhuman was offering would be very much to his advantage and none at all to hers.

No, I do not want to die, she thought, but I can see several fates worse than death in my immediate future, and this is looking like one of them, possibly several. He's more than merely nonhuman, she thought looking at the chiss, he's inhuman; a purely rational calculator and manipulator, and the chances of my being able to out- wrangle him are nonexistent.

'If I had permitted you to simply stroll out of here, where would you have gone? Corellia? You have a fiance, and a father- and presumably a mother although I cannot imagine any woman putting up with Captain Lennart for any length of time-' and the calculated indiscretion drew blood.

She showed surprise at that, quickly brought it under control but it was still more than enough of a tell. She knew something about her mother, and that confirmed the chiss' suspicions- her aunt had showed her, then managed to destroy, Alliance Intelligence's file on Lennart. It hadn't come out with them.

Could possibly be reconstructed from the interior of her head. Or, there was some poetic justice in this. 'Your father introduced me to some remarkable new techniques in brain probing; I think I will try them out on his sister. Don't bother resorting to the Force, you're only going to affect the weak minded.'

That was pure psychological warfare, unsettling her enough to shake and weaken her abilities, more than that her willingness to use them to the full. A strong will was worth a lot, but nothing and no-one was force proof- although there had been certain intriguing hints in Jerec's private archives...

'You, personally- I shall send you where you have no other choice than to go anyway. Your sentences- including three attempted murders now- will be suspended, and you will be released into your father's care.' He said.

'With a line of case files trailing behind me? You're sending me to him as a poisoned gift-' and the lightbulb went on. There had been really no reason for a bank robber to be in the maximum security political cells. 'How much of this was a setup from the beginning?'

'That depends on where you consider the beginning to be; twenty- four years ago, when you were concieved? Twelve, when your aunt reached a position from which she could be of key use to the Corellian Resistance? Two months, when you kicked over the traces and closed down most of your options thereby?

Of course you have been manipulated; you are also out of alternatives, unless you really do do something stupidly self destructive, which wouldn't even achieve damage control at this stage.' the chiss cautioned her.

'No.' she said, in the existential sense but also in simple disbelief. 'A genuine master manipulator wouldn't waste time and energy on gloating- unless that's just another layer of mind game.'

'A game of nigh-on infinite complexity, that never ends.' the chiss said, believing that now she would do what he expected of her and calculating what steering and contingency plans were worth fleshing out. 'Is there any other kind worth playing?'
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby jpdt19 » 2010-10-03 07:23pm

Oh i'm SOOO happy to see this carried on with.

I must ask though, have you been watching the fugitive recently :D

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Andras » 2010-10-03 08:32pm

Nice update, glad to see you back ECR.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2010-10-04 12:13am

Second to Andras, this is interesting.

Also I felt a hint of Firefly there, with the person who knows alien first aid stopping an escape from a hospital to tender assistance... and this time, the predictable consequences ensue.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby drakensis » 2010-10-04 06:28am

Dr Domus indeed. Well who else would have child's toys in his office?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2010-10-04 07:43pm

The fugitive? No, unfortunately not- my local area doesn't even get Freeview. and in Firefly, was the sick alien coincidentally very ill at just the right time? The fact that it was one of the few species she knows much about?

It would have been pointless to try to find a Hutt to use as a plant. For one thing, the concepts of 'co-operative' and 'Hutt' do not naturally gel, and for another, although she knows their physiology and psychonomy rather more thoroughly, she wouldn't have stopped to help.

Those tactical moves backwards, the fencing, measured retreat and apparent giving away of tactical points- they all just paid off.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2010-10-04 08:16pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:The fugitive? No, unfortunately not- my local area doesn't even get Freeview. and in Firefly, was the sick alien coincidentally very ill at just the right time? The fact that it was one of the few species she knows much about?

It would have been pointless to try to find a Hutt to use as a plant. For one thing, the concepts of 'co-operative' and 'Hutt' do not naturally gel, and for another, although she knows their physiology and psychonomy rather more thoroughly, she wouldn't have stopped to help.
Well, the more you know about Hutt psychonomy, the less inclined you are to offer them medical assistance...
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Master_Baerne » 2010-10-05 07:27am

Excellent as always, and I'm thrilled to see more of this story.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby SeaTrooper » 2010-10-10 10:05pm

Whoo-hoo! Love the story, and the characters are just getting better and better.

Sure sounds like the seed didn't fall far from this particular tree.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby FFBandit » 2010-10-14 06:22pm

ECR, I just spent a little under a week reading this and your previous arc and I must say I am in awe.
Amazing story and wonderful to read, this is hands down the best SW fic I've read. As well as being one of the top 5 recommended stories for SW by the viridian dreams forum (quite the honor).
I'm not entirely sure what all the griping was about with formating it seemed fine to me. If there is one thing a might offer as a suggestion, mostly applying too Arc 2, it is to try and work clues into the text to help with the sense of the passage of time. particularly in your last few updates as you have been jumping from one plot line to another with a separate point of view it was difficult for me as a reader to say for example how much time had passed before Lennert's daughters prison break. You already have one fairly simple way you could use to insert timeline clues, for example a brief mention of how far along in the repairs the ship is (of the estimated 80 days how many are left) or how far along is that command course. Its a minor point but I think it would help the flow and readability of the story.

other than that I just cant say enough how much your story has captivated me, I just hope that week late english paper wont be to much of a problem *grimace* opps

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2010-10-16 08:36pm

Well, that's generous of them- what are the other four?

At this point, I need to curve back to Raesene's part and see how the rebels are getting on, and it's about forty days into the refit; which I may as well ramble about at some length.

One thing I wish I could retcon is the crew numbers- I was using the standard estimate, and I think it's much more likely that Black Prince would have had a lot of the fat already sweated off (so to speak), a lot of the crew positions that don't require any real intelligence or judgement handed over to droids; between casualties not replaced and buyings- out, down to about sixteen thousand including flight crew (but not the legion) by the end of the refit, plus about eight thousand astromechs.

Hull; the main superstructure has taken a fair pounding, and there are fewer living quarters needed now, so it's going to get a lot smaller, and the bridge module is going to rise directly out of it- changing to a late- style neckless bridge tower, and a fairly subdued, hunched- forward version of it at that. Edges of the main superstructure parallel to the outer edges of the ship, more triangle than block, three main sensor domes two in the usual position, one forward of the bridge. Forward launch complex removed entirely, secondary large reactor mounted in the bay, protruding slightly.
The upper surfaces of the ship are extended outwards and downwards, covering over the brim trench then zigging back in, forming a kind of lip- lower outer edge parallel to the lower hull plane, lower inner edge parallel to the upper surface. Total length of the ship is probably 1760m, between the thrust paddles and the new forward gun mount.

Propulsion; the main engine bells won't have been replaced, just relined, but the thrust deflectors will. As a result of earlier refit, Black Prince ended up with both ring and paddle deflectors; it works, but...the replacement is going to be full sets of paddles, twelve in each covering the entire circumference of the engine. An additional pair of Gemon-4 secondary engines will be added in the roots of the hull extensions. The standard KDY- pattern hyperdrive motivators will be replaced by Corellian Engineering Myrddin-C motivators, the precise rating of which should be determined on the shakedown but ought to be better than two.

Small craft; with the forward bay sacrificed to the cause of firepower, things are going to get cramped. Most of the hangar and ready space is still there, but it all has to go through the main bay- which means that one major objective, the provision of survivable landers for the legion, has to go by the wayside; there simply isn't room. The pie- plates are going to have to stay.
The fighter complement is straightforward enough, a fighter wing of four squadrons of Avengers (two new, two old bomber-wing), a bomb wing of four squadrons of Starwings, a multirole wing of two squadrons of Hunters, two squadrons of Sentinels.

The shuttles and transports and things, I am seriously considering going monoclonal-; the escort shuttles, assault transports and assault shuttles can stay, they're credible fighting units, but that leaves twelve Sentinel assault landers (which would just cause confusion if they were retained anyway) and six lambdas, six stormtrooper transports; the Sentinels are bulky enough that one for one replacement could work, the Lambdas and Delta DX-9 are a lot smaller. Twelve to replace, three for one, that would make four squadrons of four YT-1930m.

The dash-M ("Military") would have to be modded- a custom job off the production line in fact. Delete the secret compartments, use their volume for drives and powerplant; delete the escape pods- breakaway cockpit's probably a better bet. Dorsal and ventral main attack gun mounts in the gunwell, single light six-by-six turbolaser; port and starboard secondary turrets, corellian quad- laser. Whatever missile launchers and ion cannon can be mounted above, beneath or in the forward forks, or beneath the cockpit- the forks themselves could be tapered slightly and a Naboo-looking sloped hull (without the chrome) used, creating spaces above and below the core fork, four fix-forward ion cannon above, four eight- round drum and tube torp launchers below. Crew of seven, possibly eight- pilot, flight engineer, com/scan, four gunners, loadmaster if acting as a troop transport.

Weaponry; ah, the fun part. The current fit is eight main barbettes, four parallel to the keel in the starboard battery and four parallel to the outer edge of the hull in the port battery, and three rather improvised turrets in the old axial positions, plus bow tractor mount and closed off port and starboard trench mounts;
the three axial mounts are to be replaced by properly mounted barbettes for single, flattened-dome turret, 320 teraton HTL, at the forward edge of the superstructure,
the starboard side turrets are to be remounted to run parallel to the outer edge also, each main battery is going to consist of, the after position, one twin 175- teraton HTL turret, as mounted on the Imperator- I; no 3 position, octuple light capital (32- teraton equivalent) ion cannon; no 1 and 2 position, octuple 32- teraton HTL as before.
the power and structure connections of the trench mounts are going to be extended outwards and used as a basis for, on each beam, three turrets for Corellian Engineering 'Rattler' multimode gravitic emitters, drawing 40 teratons power-equivalent each;
the bow is where most of the new things are going to happen, the power and structure connections of the pursuit tractors and at least the output of the secondary reactor bulb going to serve four main turrets, one directly under the prow, one built into the lip of the extensions and superfiring past that, and two above the bow, beside each other port and starboard. The forward prow turret is a twin 175- teraton HTL mount, the lower prow turret is an octuple 32-teraton-equivalent ion cannon, both upper prow turrets are something different again- quadruple 70- teraton HTL turret.
Torpedo launchers are added in the extensions about 500m back from the new bow, five above and five below the midline on each side- short, embedded accelerator tubes each connected to an 8-round ready magazine.
There are another two rattler turrets, one on each beam forward of the torpedo complex.

Light and defensive weapons are divided into eleven zones, eight main hull- forward port ventral, aft starboard dorsal, etc- plus superstructure, engines, hangar bay; each zone operates it's own short range scanners in addition to feed from the main sensors, and mounts six single 6-by-6 (6 megatons/bolt, 6 bolts/second) LTL, four twin customs- corvette 0.5 megaton/bolt, 60 bolts/second LTL, four corellian quad lasers, four quad autoblasters, three single heavy fighter ion cannon, three triple light fighter ion cannon, four concussion missile launchers. Total gunnery crew is about thirty-nine hundred.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby fractalsponge1 » 2010-10-16 11:44pm

A few questions about the layout:
1) regarding the bridge tower, are you thinking the whole neck and the ex-module will be lowered by removing a few decks, or just that the terraces are pared down and some structure is built up near the module to make it seem "neck-less"?
2) how many torpedo tubes are mounted now, and where? (inset on the hull extensions?)
3) do the hull extensions have notches?

As for small craft, there is always the Muurian Transport for a minimal height fast armed transport - seems almost military spec to begin with. But then again, we are in Corellia now...

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2010-10-17 04:21am

Might I suggest that for that YT-1930m it's cockpit, you take a look to the YT-2400 or rather the Outrider?
If the cargo points of the YT-1930 are inside cargobays with outside docking points for cargo-containers, then I can see why Mirrannon would choise them.
Remove those engines and if you do it right, you could move them their own lenght towards the back.
Think what that would do, if you also upgrade to a more powerfull engine/reactor combo.

Your thinking about a Interdicter it's bridge section, only with the current bridge section being used, right?
Don't let Mirrannon forget to use some Victory parts as well, the older Wessex happens to be a better designer and thus could offer him a way to get rid of some design flaws.

If you check out the link I gave you, Remnant, you find that there were three uses of that hull.
Interdictor, standaard and interdictor rebuilded to standaard.
The last one is intresting in that this gave a better power grid after removing the grafity wells from the design.
Can see Mirrannon wanting to look into that, since it uped the whole design it's overal performance.

As for the closed off hanger bay, connect it to the other (remaining) hanger bay and put in some side doors like a Venator has, though smaller.
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2011-01-09 06:42pm

Story part; I know, this should be moving more quickly, but if I write more, it takes longer. Oh, and for the Moorcock fans out there (and I suspect there really is no polite abbreviation for a Michael Moorcock fan)- this is pretty much the happiness-and-fluffy-rainbow-bunnies light alternate universe version of the character.

Hull 721 arc 2 ch 19

The news that Pel Aldrem had been exonerated spread like wildfire throughout the crew; there was talk of a party. Of course it was far more likely to turn into a small riot, the captain realised, and if it was allowed to go ahead the place would be full of intoxicants, stimulants, loose tongues.

He had, obviously, heard all the evidence that had been given, and he could tell far too many people about that. What he could be told was just as bad- there was more than enough ambient information around to clue him in on the fact that he hadn't actually killed the dark jedi.

Rumour control was, therefore, necessary.

He was called to the office Lennart was using on the dock station, and he brought his team with him, but only Jhareylia came past the waiting room into the inner chamber. There was a change, and for a couple of seconds Lennart let them notice him studying them.

Objectively, this was one shipboard romance that the regs probably should be applied to; she was an ex- rebel, although she hadn't exactly formally resigned- how, precisely, did one go about quitting the Rebel Alliance? Probably varied from culture to culture, cell to cell. They probably objected, too.

She was taking his focus away- witness that she was here with him, not any of his team- and she made him think too much, which was paradoxical considering how they had met. They had become an item before either of them had really realised it; for that matter, he had helped.

She could be good for him, and it had been enough of a could to be worth taking a risk on- he could be a monomaniac, and loosening him up could make him a better person, and probably better suited for the job Lennart wanted him to do.

Provided she didn't try to change him too fundamentally and so things like trying to get him to consider his loyalties and examine his conscience, which she probably would- and over this business, it was hard to blame her.

'Sit down, Lieutenant. I would prefer it if you never had to know this, but as you're likely to work it out know, or will find out, that several of Kor Alric's personal guard escaped the bridge tower, and had to be tracked and destroyed by the other people who got dragged into this bloody mess.'

'I saw his personal transport get hit.' Aldrem admitted. This wasn't entirely a surprise- it had been obvious that many dubious things had happened, and it would be good to talk about them- in principle. In practise, he had already had an argument with Jhareylia, on the subject of just how much it was safe and sensible to know.

She had gone pale when Lennart had started talking- this definitely did not fall under need to know, as far as she was concerned. He didn't want to know either, but was starting to get the idea of what had really happened.

'And the timing, we were too heavily engaged- yes, they had time to get out. And I know perfectly well that "get him" wasn't addressed to me.' Aldrem said, heavily.

Lennart looked at him closely, trying to estimate how much he had figured out so far. Aldrem wasn't stupid, certainly wasn't the fool Skorb had tried to portray him as during the trial. He was actually looking more intellectual lately- acquiring worry lines at a rapid rate.

He could work it out, probably had, but the consequences of it, where the conclusions led- Aldrem skipped to the part his brain had tripped over. 'You let me blow a hole in the ship?'

'Not exactly let, that fine I was talking about still're right, you didn't get him. What you did was blow up his personal staff- and his data, that would have gone a long way towards helping us find out the rest of his plan.'

Before he could finish thinking it through, Jhareylia had a thought she probably would have been wiser not to say. 'I thought something was missing, there weren't enough electrical noises for the inside of a turret. More than cleanup-'

'So why,' Lennart said, 'do you want me to know that you know?'

She looked annoyed with herself at that; interesting, Aldrem had largely cured himself of the habit of thinking out loud which he had had in the early days- negative reinforcement had worked there.

It was an extraordinarily bad habit for a spy to have, and it was interesting that she felt unthreatened here enough to slip to that degree- it wasn't calculated, he was reasonably certain of that.

'Either way, you're right. I had the background noise removed that would have given away exactly where on the ship it occurred, and who specifically it was that drew blood.

A whole bunch of complicated things happened after that, among them your being accused,' Lennart said to Aldrem, 'and my realising we had more chance of getting away with it if you were the defendant than if we resorted to the whole truth.

You should know better than to want to know that, particularly as you are publicly responsible now- you'll be an assassination target- or a recruitment target- for all sorts of dark side, and probably Alliance, fruitcakes.'

'Oh, crap.' Aldrem said, and Lennart had to acknowledge it as fair comment. 'Seriously, skipper, do I look like a spy?' He had worked it out, and although it was a kind of poetic justice, although he really couldn't see a sensible alternative, it was definitely worth a protest.

'Some people say that the first qualification for being a spy is to not look the part.' Lennart pointed out.

'Intelligence professionals, sir?' Jhareylia asked, acid in her voice. And realised slightly too late what she was doing there.

'How opportune of you to volunteer your services, Specialist Hathren.' Lennart closed that particular trap. 'In any case, what would the technical definition of this be? Officer, agent, what?'

'Decoy.' she said with some bitterness. She was on the back foot now, on her guard and not liking what was going on at all. 'Do we have any choice in this?'

'We could simply not bother setting an ambush party to cover you; think the situation through, who wants what, and tell me if you think wandering around without backup is an option a sensible being would take.' Lennart said, calmly enough to worry her, and convince Aldrem that they really had no choice in the matter.

'They, whoever they are- who are they?- are they stupid enough to be out for revenge?' Aldrem asked.

'They have practical reasons to want you and the rest of us dead- stop up loose mouths. They still don't know how little we really know. The ISB did make one grab for you, but that was because they wanted you to repeat your trick- shot for them, and while it would be interesting to know who on, I don't see how to find out.

They are one problem, but from the other side, whether murder for revenge or abduction for intel comes first will depend on how cool- headed Adannan's colleagues in darkness actually are.' Lennart said.

'Oh, no.' Aldrem thought about something, and groaned.

'You've just realised you're going to have to go back through infantry training?' Lennart guessed, correctly.

'This time I want to keep the gun- actually, I have an idea...' Aldrem said, and Lennart was sure (rightly) it involved explosives.

'How much of the chief engineer's time is this going to waste?'

'Oh, it's- actually, yes, it kind of is exactly like that.' he said, face falling, obviously whatever he had come up with would need technical assistance which probably meant it was a bad idea. 'So,' he recovered, 'what is the plan?'

'See who turns up to kidnap or kill you, get the drop on them, brainstrip and work upwards from there.' Lennart said.

'Can't they at least come at us in starships?' Aldrem grumbled.

'They have.' Lennart pointed out. 'When we were attacked by "rebels", the first and third waves weren't legitimate, they were an Imperial special political action group. The second wave were genuine Alliance, and they must have been very confused. But how much of this is really your problem, hm?'

'Captain...' Jhareylia began, unsure of how much to say, how far to go. He nodded to her, as if to say out with it; she did. 'Actual proof of something like that would be massively valuable to the Alliance. It could be bait-'

'And how much, really, about that hypothetical operation do you think it would be right for you to know?' Lennart pointed out. If someone else came up with it independently, maybe it might not be such a looney idea.

'Then why did you tell us in the first place?' she said, baffled- if that had been with mens rea, she had no business saying it.

'Good question. it really isn't your problem.' Lennart said, thinking of something else that arguably wasn't her problem- 'and in that vein, you can go now. Not you, Lieutenant.'

She would have liked to come up with a quip, and the captain could sense her being about to- something to do with being booted out of the boys' club- but she had enough sense not to say it.

Once she had gone, Lennart said 'Entirely apart from imminent poverty, you have a particular personal problem; in all the chaos, did you manage to take in the medical advisory sent to you about your midi count?'

Aldrem looked blank for a second- he had been expecting several other varieties of trouble- before saying 'No, but it's hard to see how it could be good news- what, they're swollen or the wrong colour or something?'

'Too many of them. If you understand the statistics they rho-tail out with a Launchester prevalence number- if you don't, then you have a midi count- of 698. I'm telling you, specifically, because she used to work for a gang of force- worshipping fruitbats and she's likely to do something silly about it.'

'No, sir, I don't understand the statistics. Is that a lot?'

'It's exactly the wrong amount; enough to get you into trouble with the Force without being enough to get you out of it again-' Lennart held up a hand, a stop signal- 'and before you say the inevitable "so what else is new", it's worse than that.

Naval discipline only expects you to be a uncomplaining, loyal, unassuming, politically correct, unaggressive homicidal maniac, and you know how unlivably futile things would be around here if I enforced all the regulations on the books, not just the ones about the last part;

The Force is...childishly simplistic in it's morals- there are goodies and baddies. Like acting in a play produced by a five- year old. It is very difficult to reconcile the promptings of the force with the ethics of a professional combatant.'

Aldrem had let the last part fly straight by him; he was still in the middle of not believing it. 'That can't be right. I'm not that drug resistant, I can't breathe space- I know, that lets me out for being secretly MynockMan as well.

I don't throw myself off cliffs for fun, I've never felt an eldritch attraction to glow- sticks, I look like Blodgit in a robe, and if I say it now it'll be the first time I ever said om- see, there it was- in my life.'

'I'm not expecting you to and I don't want you to; you're a damn' sight more use as a gunner.' Lennart said. 'What I am worried about is, may as well put it in your own terms, MynockMan. The Force wants you to be a cartoon superhero, or possibly more accurately caricature.

Listening to it is a good way to get first of all, stupid, then because of that, killed. You have to ignore it, refuse the impulses it offers, reject the ideas it sends up.'

'How am I supposed to- oh. You mean I'm going to have to start second guessing myself? Start thinking about what I'm doing, and why?' Aldrem said, looking like a deer in headlights.

'I knew there was a silver lining to this somewhere.' Lennart said. 'Off you go, and get organised.'

That was probably oversimplifying the picture, he thought after Aldrem had left, and probably by a hell of a lot; if the Force really did flow from all living things, life had more subtlety than that and some of it should show through.

It had, however, been the line he had been continually pitching to himself and to everyone else who would listen. Aldrem really was below the threshold of any kind of useful power at all; telling the force to go kriff itself probably was his best option as an individual, and probably best from the point of view of what the ship expected of him.

That done, time for what was actually the commander's job- to sit down and try to make sense of the big picture. Black Prince's datanet-architecture was...'post-organicist retrobaroque' just about covered it.

For a relatively new ship, she had the feel of a much older one, none of the brutal simplicity of the standard Starfleet SOMS/SCAP which most people (including a lot of those subject to it, but not where they could be monitored) called simple brutality, the digital equivalent of a gulag.

The ship had been laid down with a high degree of control redundancy and holographically independent subsystems, more than would actually have been tolerated in a Kuat- built craft and it had only got worse from there, as additions and modifications to the physical structure mandated additions to the data- architecture as well.

Subprocessors and co-processors, caches and used redundancies, damages and failures being patched over and worked around and then as often as not fixed anyway, entire alternative main processing units being grafted in to run the ELINT gear the ship was never officially supposed to have, and officially still didn't.

It actually reminded her captain of a Tionese palace that he had visited once, that had originally been the fortress defending a sea port, that had in a more sophisticated age become maritime traffic control and customs headquarters, that had then mutated into the control tower of the spaceport;

that had been shut down because the port was incapable of taking modern vessels and building reused as a national museum, that had been reopened as a customs and excise training centre, that had...

In its' favour, it had been one of the very few spaceport control towers in the galaxy which could fire a salvo from a battery of black-powder cannon at an approaching starfreighter. In fact, Lennart had wanted to do exactly that, and would have if he could have thought of a diplomatic way of suggesting it.

The practical upshot of this was, of course, that there were all kinds of odd and nonconforming processing ability sloshing about, all sorts of highly sensitive corners in which a search routine might be run without arousing suspicion.

Recent efforts to search for any traces Adannan had left behind had done something to clear out the thickets and accomplished the essential job of charting them, there was still a lot more to be done; for the moment, there was plenty of room to do a little searching work of his own, on the recovered fragments and on the party almanac.

It was widely known, although very quietly acknowledged, that the New Order Party was neither particularly orderly nor remotely fun-loving; and Lennart had his doubts about the "new", as well.

He had always known it was a snakepit, had said so often enough to anyone prepared to listen, nothing in the close look he was taking was really a surprise, but the volume and viciousness of the incidents a between-the-lines survey showed up was just depressing.

What kind of message did it really send when the revolution not only ate it's children in full public view, but then proceeded to publish the recipe book?

The open show trials weren't even the half of it. For instance, Indutiomarus Trachta had dropped off the full-spectrum transceiver one day. Ceased to be mentioned, one of the most powerful people in the Imperial state suddenly converted to an unperson, and another name started to be associated with his title and duties.

The legal officer in Aldrem's show trial- the exception that proved the rule that such things always ended in a guilty verdict- had let that slip, hadn't he? "Trachta vs. the State."

Whatever had happened, there had been legal precedent set about it- but whatever that was had never got further than the bare mention of it. A secret, classified judgement that set a precedent that no-one outside a certain charmed inner circle was allowed to know. Catch-22 lost its' humourous aspects when it was you, personally, on the receiving end.

Actually, the old cyborg was starting to look increasingly relevant; there were a few others who had disappeared from circulation at the same time, including a cannibalistic little shit of a fleet officer and a wannabe warlord.

Executor had departed her patrol station, and gone on a fuel- atomisingly expensive maximum-speed run to Coruscant, at the same time; something they hadn't even been able to come up with a good cover story for had happened- what?

Something drastic enough to require an even nastier cyborg. Trachta had used his position as Minister of Security to misbehave quite spectacularly, and Vader had stopped him. Knowing Vader, permanently, and possibly quite messily. Any legal judgement against him would have been post- facto.

That could have been one of the conspiracies Adannan had been hoping to collect up the pieces of- or equally trying to use as cover, there was that, but too many of the pieces seemed to actually point somewhere, he wasn't simply lying to impress the new recruit.

Of course he had the access himself to pull it all together, cleared up to state- secret level, which made it all the more infuriating that his notes had not survived.

From the recovered fragments, ap-Lewff was a nobody, an entity without a past. No criminal, economic, political or war record. Therefore, possibly, a renegade Jedi who had learned enough to live off the grid before dropping or being kicked out of the Order.

Actually, that was one thing missing from Trachta's band of fellow disappeared; no wibble-mongers, no om-o-matic psychodweebs. Trachta had been at the heart of the government for years and almost certainly knew almost all of whatever the ugly truth would turn out to be. It certainly hadn't been a conspiracy with the Force; had it been a conspiracy against?

Maybe it was just wishful thinking on Lennart's part, maybe it had been something as simple as Trachta's mid-life crisis- or considering how much of him was metal, possibly the mid life upgrade.

What it did look like was that an improbable and noticeably greedy and corrupt group had assembled themselves behind him for, well, the full story was not likely to ever be known, but it had or had come close to achieving something that had brought Vader sprinting back from the Outer Rim. Assassination attempt?

It had also got rid of Trachta, no bad thing- having met him, Lennart considered the now ex- Grand Moff of Imperial Centre to have had all the leadership qualities and charisma of a speaking clock.

If I was organising a conspiracy against the highest levels of the state, Lennart thought, among people who knew a lot about previous conspiracies and had probably suppressed a few themselves, who would the candidates be? Who would be the optimum recruit- where do conspiracies usually go for their human material?

Certainly not among the happy and contented, that much was certain, nor among the poor and powerless- there neither was not could be anything at all grass- roots about this. Nor those with nothing to lose- desperation made poor discipline, at least for political actors.

No, the obvious thing to do was to aim for those who had some power and influence and standing, enough to make them effective members of a secret cabal, and who somehow stood to lose it; the ambitious who foresaw the end of their rise, the powerful about to be demoted, the anonymous about to have the spotlight shone on them.

Except, logical as that was, thinking it didn't help; who would know who those people were? Not an out-of-the-loop, combat crazed three quarters renegade destroyer captain, that was for sure. They would know, and they would know each other.

The Ubiqtorate would know, although they probably came under the same heading.

What names did he have? A few; the orders to probe and spy on his ship at anchor had been issued over the signature of ISB General-Governor Hewl Wennod's name- not one of the great ones of state. Looking him up, the book was full of praise for him, but Lennart and the Almanac had very different ideas about what lay behind the phrase "heroic police action."

He was basically a troubleshooter now, sent in to sort people out when party discipline had broken down; had been a very early member of the Party, and chief warden of a correctional facility under the Republic.

Politically, specifically, he looked like a Monarchist, a palpatinian-ultramontane, which, well, if that was who had taken a dislike to me, Lennart thought, here we go for a credit a day. Unlikely that it would be an indirect approach, though; Wennod was not known as a subtle man, he undoubtedly was a sadist and a fascist- although that didn't mean he was actually stupid, it did set an upper limit.

It also meant he was likely to be an operative rather than an operator, a great deal of positional power without much vision, likely to be doing someone else's dirty work. According to Adannan, this was all about the beta-through-omegas combining to pull down the alpha, Palpatine, or at least was supposed to be. So who were the beta-through-omegas?

There was a contact, and old friend who might know something... 'ComScan? Milnet access, track and place a call to Max Pyat, last known rank ISB Colonel, last known duty station Panipat.'

The com team would try to track him down, and while he waited for that Lennart kept flipping through the Almanac, trying to separate backstabbing and infighting from conspiracy.

Often, there was hardly any difference between the two- take that notorious idiot Moff Balfour. He had been practically mocked into political oblivion by a carefully conducted smear campaign which he had, to be fair, handed a great deal of material to; he had been made to look like an utter fool, shorn of all external support, and anyone capable under his command got out as soon as they could.

That had helped the Alliance greatly, when they had made their move. Parmic Sector was a de facto Alliance stronghold now, more planets there paying their taxes to the Republic than the Empire.

It was one of those notorious incidents that had made the Empire look gimcrack and silly, along with the Hapan disaster Black Prince had collected a fair few of her scars in and the Nar Shaddaa debacle. So who had been behind that smear campaign?

Bored by party jargon, his mind wandered a little- there was no recorded case of anyone actually having a bacle, was there? There was definitely such a thing in a few Outer Rim dialects as a bauchle, which did more or less translate to modern basic as 'fool'. Although a debacle certainly didn't mean being de-fooled.

As, temperamentally, a follower of the cock-up theory of history, Lennart was finding the world of conspiracism fascinating; apart from anything else, a good multisided, multilayered conspiracy must be one of the easiest things in the galaxy to get wrong.

Although, a protective shell of fools was always helpful to a real conspiracy. Meaningless in and of themselves, conspiracy theories- and theorists- provided the protective undergrowth in which, just occasionally, there lurked a real tiger.

Was there not an entire major branch of the Ubiqtorate devoted to pumping out conspiracy theories of increasingly absurd and ridiculous nature, for the purpose of confusing and misdirecting the people of the galaxy, and getting them so tied up in mental knots they had no idea what truth was any more?

There were even some in the Core prepared to believe the entire Rebellion was a conspiracy theory- and some in the outer Rim who appeared to reject hypotheses of the existence of the Ubiqtorate, which was only fair.

Then again, like many mind games, there were tricks of perspective involved- one street corner ranter's conspiracy was another well dressed businessbeing's normal procedure. Where did office politics end, and crime begin?

The front of the book might be a place to start. The Commission for the Preservation (or was it promotion, protection, he could never remember) of the New Order had run the ISB, and had dreams of becoming first a parallel state, then eventually replacing the old, corroded machinery of the Republic in its' entirety.

Those dreams didn't get heard about much, anymore. There had been possibly, to the nearest round numbers, ten thousand members; a handful had made good- Il-Raz, Pestage, Vandron- but the overwhelming majority of the commissionnaires didn't get heard from very much either.

That puts me in something of a quandary, Lennart thought; these people were, basically, assassinated by the state in what can only be called judicial murder- on the other hand, good riddance.

There was a ping from the com unit, and a head-and-shoulders hologram appeared; unprepared, unkempt, out of uniform and in all probability entirely naked. Anyone looking at that face could have easily have mistaken it for a ruined, alcoholic philosopher, a good and wise man fallen on hard times. About half of that was approximately correct.

'Max? Jorian Lennart. You went on the run eighteen, no, nearer twenty years ago now, dragged me along with you, remember? Did I interrupt you in the middle of anyone?' After twenty more years of his lifestyle, I'm surprised he's still recognisable, he thought. Maybe he reformed? Nah, not a chance.

'Jorian! When my com system told me there was a Captain of the Line calling for me, I thought it was somebody military. How have you been, what has Time done to you?'

Didn't stop you answering the holo bare from the chest- hair up, Lennart thought. Max Pyat was so completely unlike his half- brother, it was hard to believe they had even that thin genetic link in common.

'Time, not too badly- it's the spacelike trajectories in between that tend to the catastrophic. This isn't exactly long time no see, I'm afraid, Max; I'm the one in deep schtuck now- I don't want to say too much in case it sticks to you too, but-'

'Problem, of course you have a problem, there you are still in the Starfleet. I had expected you to have your own smuggling syndicate by now, I was looking forward to working with you when I retired, what happened?' Well, that was still the same old Max at least.

'Oh, basically when service, fealty, fidelity didn't work, they bought me off with warrior daydreams of honour and glory instead. You didn't check the originator ID, did you?'

'I- grief- by the nine million gods who no longer believe in me, Jorian, that was really you? I thought the name was just coincidence, there was no way they would let anyone who knew me back in, and now here you are practically an official hero of the Galactic Empire. Did you not even receive the Emperor's Will?'

'I was never politically correct enough to be an Imperial poster-boy,' Lennart pointed out, 'and after I dodged the award ceremony twice, they basically gave up trying to catch me and pin it on. These days I'm a frothing looney they let loose whenever something big needs broken.'

'For shame, Jorian. To think that you have so much death in you.' Pyat chided him.

'Come off it, Max, you know perfectly well I don't- can't- think about it like that. It's about protecting everyone else from the people you have to shoot, has to be, you know that- and do you really think my sense of what constitutes a legitimate target has changed that much?'

'I would like to hope not, but I have great difficulty imagining you commanding a star destroyer. All that did you overcome your allergy to pomp and circumstance, and what did it cost?'

'Oh, fraud, deception, influence-peddling, lies and deceit- office politics as usual.' Well, that was the easy, cynical answer to that question. 'You are still a securidoodle, right- no, wait, how many ISB agents are you?'

It was Max who had coined the phrase, although it probably wasn't original- in a galaxy of a hundred quadrillion people, it was damn' hard to be the first at anything- in the course of a long, drunken discussion in which he had been extremely rude about his own arm of service, describing it as the lapdogs of the powerful.

Running-dog lackeys, he had actually said in a way that made it seem that he was quoting, and quoting somebody he didn't like at that, willing to do anything except fight against the real criminals. He had, unfortunately, been drunk and stoned enough to start listening to himself.

The result had been a libido- fuelled attempt to break into Andoche Tarkin's apartment, fortunately unsuccessful, that a rather less wrecked Lennart had managed to rescue him from; she was a frighteningly good shot.

That had been followed by an attempt to, initially, arrest a statue of Palpatine that had involved Max handcuffing himself to it, losing the plot entirely, and Lennart frantically slicing the surveillance cameras before they could notice what he was far enough gone to do to the statue. They had left the planet shortly afterwards.

'How could you even suggest that I should do such a thing?' Max said, with almost convincing indignancy. 'Drawing multiple sets of pay and allowances for imaginary people under me, imaginary versions of myself, surely such a thing is beneath the notice of a martial hero of the Empire-' and Lennart said the last bit with him, 'besides, the bureaucrats are wise to it now anyway.'

'You're going to appreciate this, Max. There was a hideous paperwork cockup when this ship was commissioned. You know the old Republic Fleet prize regulations? We may be one of the last ships in the fleet they still fully apply to.' Lennart said, with a twisted grin.

'You mean- all that wonderful, hieratic old language about shares of the value of the prize? With such a golden incentive, no wonder you became a military hero.' Max said, envious.

'I never understood your relationship with money.' Lennart said, sadly. 'Not convinced that you did, either- and I don't think the Empire could get the same effect out of you unless they paid you in drugs and women. Do you remember Vittoria? That night in the Purple Feather on Jehamia?'

'Ahem.' Max said.

'All right, women and marsupials.' Lennart corrected. This man and his half- brother were more than chalk and cheese, they were matter and antimatter; bring him and Firmus together and something probably would cease to exist. With any luck, it would be the ramrod up Piett's spine.

The drunken, drug-addled, Casanova-in-his-own-mind, fallen aristo Max was certainly a more amenable companion, although looking back, Lennart wondered if that was because he had simply blotted parts of it out of his own memory.

'I remember her.' Max ignored the jab, probably because it was true. 'I remember her spending most of her time with you.'

Lennart snorted with laughter. 'I'm surprised you had time to notice. There was no way in the nine hells I was going to be able to keep up with you in quantity- or variety- so I had to go for something.'

The Purple Feather had been a house of ill repute, and the night in question had been the night the local police had raided it. Max, offended at being disturbed, caught literally in flagrante, had deputised the prostitutes as officers of the ISB and ordered them to arrest the police.

The girls, not entirely surprisingly, had turned out to have more incapacitating and stunning weapons and much more creative restraint devices than the law. The pair of them had run for it before the situation had finished shaking itself out.

'I was flipping through the Party almanac, and I noticed her name; she must have really taken to her new career- she made Lieutenant-General last year.' Lennart said, and it was actually true.

'An unexpected friend in high places. In these times, one can do with as many as possible.' Max sighed, in a way that Lennart interpreted as a prelude to his being tapped for cash.

'It's these times that I need to talk to you about.' Lennart said. 'One of your lot, actually, a Hewl Wennod who seems to have taken something of a dislike to me- who are his friends, his patrons, his paymasters? If I can talk to them I might be able to sort this out.'

'What, Holier-than-thou Hewl? That joyless, soul-less puritan? There is someone in the galaxy who thinks he has friends?' Max said. 'I do not move in the same ever-decreasing circles as such as he.'

'Max?' Lennart said, hackles rising. 'You say puritan- do you mean that in the civil sense, that he just isn't particularly broad- minded?' To be fair, Max was a challenge to most people's broad- mindedness, so that didn't say much, but... 'Or do you actually mean that he is a religious fanatic- and if so, which religion?'

'Now you bring it up...yes, something to do with the Prophets of the Dark Side. Whatever they are.'

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-01-09 08:20pm

Delightful; for the first time in my life I feel at least some impulse to read Moorcock. Some day, time permitting, hopefully. However...

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:'Can't they at least come at us in starships?' Aldrem grumbled.

'They have.' Lennart pointed out. 'When we were attacked by "rebels", the first and third waves weren't legitimate, they were an Imperial special political action group. The second wave were genuine Alliance, and they must have been very confused. But how much of this is really your problem, hm?'
What incident does this refer to?
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Singular Quartet
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Singular Quartet » 2011-01-09 08:31pm

The Purple Feather had been a house of ill repute, and the night in question had been the night the local police had raided it. Max, offended at being disturbed, caught literally in flagrante, had deputised the prostitutes as officers of the ISB and ordered them to arrest the police.

The girls, not entirely surprisingly, had turned out to have more incapacitating and stunning weapons and much more creative restraint devices than the law. The pair of them had run for it before the situation had finished shaking itself out.

'I was flipping through the Party almanac, and I noticed her name; she must have really taken to her new career- she made Lieutenant-General last year.' Lennart said, and it was actually true.

This bit of insanity right here had me giggling for a solid five minutes once I came to it.

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