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DoctorOblivious

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About DoctorOblivious

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  1. After the initial blast-hiss of the compressed air tanks ejecting the escape pod into the void, silence held court in the tiny pod and attended to an audience of one. Once disconnected from the thumming of sublight engines, hiss of life support and the myriad unidentifiable groans and creaks that civilian spacecraft were liable to produce, space was silent--save for the grunts of exertion from its single inhabitant. Her face smooshed uncomfortably against the stamped-metal floor of the escape pod, Sophia attempted to motivate her deadened muscles into motion. In any minute, the Mandalorians might be upon her--and even if this escape pod was equipped with a blaster pistol, her resistance would be nothing to match against the assault troops of the race of elite warriors. No, her continued survival laid in regaining the use of her limbs and accessing the engines of the escape pod. So she continued to groan and strain against nothing. Pins and needles eventually began to stab into her thighs. Full use first came to her face--for all the good that mumbling into the floorboards would do her. She eventually became aware of the motions of her arms and legs, even if the only sensation that lingered was a dull ache in her knees from having been thrown into the escape pod. Sophia pulled herself to her knees with some difficulty and managed to twist about to face the controls of the hapless escape pod. Steadying her numb right hand with her equally-deadened left, the historian leaned against the control panel to punch a set of coordinates and ignite the engines. With a hoarse bark and hammering blow, the escape pod rocketed towards the planet surface, the powerful acceleration knocking the half-senseless woman back down to the floor. Eventually, the thrusters exhausted their fuel and the pressing force relinquished, allowing Sophia to rise to her feet. Withdrawing a small knife, Sophia pried apart a panel just above the controls of the escape pod and a tangle of fibers and circuit boards fell to her eyes. Ripping and tearing at the fibers with her knife, Sophia managed to free one of the boards and allowed it to fall to the floorboards. The escape pod’s distress beacon and transponder went silent. Now, the tiny escape pod would go undetected by sensors unless a Mandalorian was practically on top of it. It would now be an uninterrupted arrival to Coruscant… albeit a long descent that would take hours by the minimal engines of the escape pod.
  2. The journey from Carida to Coruscant being only a matter of hours by hyperspace, Sophia had had little time to dwell on the mistakes of the last week, instead having to think of a plan of how she was to navigate the planet without being murdered by the Mandalorians. If the Mandalorian fleet still dominated Coruscanti orbit, there was a possibility that even reaching the planet would be an impossibility; presumably the crash of Hesperidium had so disrupted the planet’s infrastructure that the turbolift system was in total disarray, if not reduced to the point of being nothing more than a series of studio apartments strewn about the city. Her gear strewn over an unplugged Dejarik table, Sophia was at least able to plot out the optimal routes to her objective. The Memorial Tower had somehow escaped the worst of the damage of the crash, but no news had reached her of the state of the Eastport campus of the University of Coruscant, to say nothing of the megablocks surrounding the campus. No doubt every building at Usk-Cresh had been looted of anything obviously valuable, but perhaps her research projects hadn’t been completely destroyed. An unfinished holocron was a fairly unremarkable object to look at--nothing more than a kilometer of fiber through a proprietary crystalline lattice--though its uniqueness might single itself out for looting. It was the travel that worried Sophia, however. The journey from the Memorial Tower to Usk-Cresh would take weeks if the turbolifts were in disarray, and the historian barely had enough nutrition pills to last five days. “Oi, Doctor Moriarty!” came a shout from the cockpit of the saucer-like craft. “Reversion from hyperspace in five minutes!” So that was it, then. Sophia cast a glance at the glossy shielded case that contained her armor--her counterfeited armor, of molded plastoid in a shoddy imitation of beskar’gam. That would be her passport to Coruscant and her papers on the planet--assuming that one of the locals didn’t try to take a shot at her. In the next five minutes, she hastily donned the orange-and-black plate, securing a stun blaster to her hip and her datapad to her wrist. There was only one sure way to reach Coruscant--but it was likely to be a one-way trip. She drew her blaster pistol and began to stalk down the wing of the YT-2100 freighter towards the cockpit. “Alright, Coruscanti airspace is a mess,” the Twi’lek’s voice gradually grew louder as the pilot left the cockpit to check on her portage. “Multiple Mandos in orbit, but I think that we can shake ‘em. Getting out’s gonna be--” In the corridor leading to the cockpit, the eyes of the red-skinned Twi’lek fell upon a Mandalorian warrior in full beskar’gam and an armored kama. The warrior might have been lightly armed with only a small-caliber blaster pistol, but to her untrained eye the orange plate was as authentic as the mythosaur decal on her pauldron and the glyphs on the plate. Reflexes kicked in and her hand shot down towards her hand-cannon with the speed of a dedicated Han Solo-wannabe. “What the pfask!” Even taken by surprise, Giza’valla outdrew her passenger, who somehow managed to duck to the side of the corridor and dodged to the edge of the azure stun blast that rushed past her. In this tight corridor, there was no hope of taking cover. Sophia stood in the middle of the corridor and took careful aim. That was all she needed to do. The next stun blast took her just below the solar plexus. At spitting distance, even stormtrooper-grade plastoid didn’t mitigate the impact of the blow--instantly, her entire body seized up and even muscle contracted as though she experienced a full-body cramp, and she dropped to the deck just in time for every muscle to relax again. Her face hit the deck and the plastoid jammed painfully into her forehead and cheeks--or she imagined it would have, but every nerve ending had fallen numb. Sophia supposed that her lifeless fingers had probably dropped her pistol--the next sound she could make out was that of Captain Giza’valla kicking away her sidearm. Footsteps approached her and the text thing that she heard was a hateful voice scorning her “Gods, I pfasking hate you people. Come into our galaxy looking for glory and honor, and the first target you hit is pfasking Coruscant? Pfask you people. No, seriously, pfask you. Pfasking schutta--yeah, so much glory and honor in vaping a bunch of pfasking cruise liners and bulk haulers. You really demonstrated your skill there, didn’t you? Maybe next time you feel like a real challenge you’ll start shooting vrelts in an barrel. Ace--gimme a hand with this schutta!” Something heavy came stomping from the corridor, and Sophia was ungently hauled over the shoulder of a hulking pilot droid. “Get her off my ship--I, you know, she wanted to go to Corrie, then shove her in the escape pod. Let the Mandos decide what to do with her.” Her face mashed up against the grey plate of the droid co-pilot, Sophia couldn’t see where she was being carried. The droid wasn’t being too delicate with its burden, however. Twice her head smacked against the walls, and the side of her head rammed the dejarik table so roughly that Sophia felt the blow even through the stun blast. That was a good sign, however--it meant that the numbness was starting to wear off. “Have a nice life, meatbag,” the pilot droid pressed at a control panel that Sophia couldn’t see, and a sealed bulkhead shot open. The historian was then unceremoniously tossed into the escape pod to land on a cot and tumble limply to the floor. With a hiss of a sealing airlock and the muffled roar of the pod’s compressed gas tanks blasting to propel it from the ship, she was blasted away into the chaos of Coruscant’s orbit. Sophia made a number of incoherent grunting and growling noises, trying to motivate her limbs to usefulness. The escape pod would have automatically transmitted a distress signal the moment it was ejected from the Twilight Dancer, but its engines would only fire on command. So for all she knew, a Mandalorian vessel was already on its way to investigate the distress signal and Sophia was all but helpless to wait for it. “Hurrrrrrrr….. Kurrrrrrrrrrrr….. Kummmmmmmmmm ahhhhhhhhhhhh Sooooooo…” She tried to talk her limbs into motion, but was the best she could manage for the moment.
  3. Sophia did not sleep well after she had completed her “I may be dead in a few days” message. Perhaps it was the diet of cheap beer, greasy flatbread, and instant-caf with which she had been sustaining herself had twisted her digestion;perhaps it was her week-long streak of self-insomnia and dwelling in a concrete closet reeking of motor oil for nearly two days; it perhaps it was a somber reflection on her imminent mortality and what afterlife a being such as her could anticipate; sleep did not come naturally. When faced with these bouts of insomnia, the historian tended to rely on a proven regimen of pharmaceuticals to lull her to sleep (largely in the form of orally-administered ethanol), but she supposed that recovering from a skull-shattering hangover wouldn’t be conducive to her continued survival… so it was a long night of tossing and turning for her. The next day, Sophia began her search for a pilot. As Carida was the capitol world of the Imperial Remnant, there was a nonstop stream of refugees fleeing from Coruscant and other planets in the core--but not much outgoing traffic. Just like everything else on this planet, the pilot’s cantina she was guided to was obsessively clean and obnoxiously-lit. The stench of stale ale that tended to linger in these establishments was absent; the clientele was predominantly human, and a mediocre band of jizz-wailers piped from one of the bar’s well-lit corners, occasionally pausing to advertise one of their uncreative covers. Two or three people, probably close friends or a producer, made a valiant show of applauding after every song. Sophia hated this place more than her narrator could possibly describe. An appropriate fate, she decided, would have been to seal every exit and flood the entire establishment with tihaar. The foundations would then be razed by orbital bombardment and paved over to make room for an appropriately rundown dive. But she had a job to do; coasting through the bar while nursing an mass-produced ale best described as a bad date on the Great Western Sea, the historian plied the lingering crowd of resting pilots in the hopes of hiring transport to Coruscant. However, after even mentioning her destination, the typical reaction was to outright laugh in her face or leave while muttering an expletive along the lines of “frack that spit.” Sophia met with a lot of species and was rejected by a lot of accents. Until Sophia met with Giza'valla (“My friends call me Giza,” the red-skinned Twi’lek explained). The pilot seemed to be putting on an impression of a younger Han Solo; she wore tight-fitting pants lined on either side by a series of yellow stripes and a beaten jacket of cheap, fake nerf leather. But she didn’t run when Sophia named her destination. "I need passage to Coruscant." Her prospective pilot let out a bark of laughter. Seeing that Moriarty's expression was fixed, her voice lowered and a tremor of disbelief regulated down her lekku. She muttered a low phrase under her breath--probably some phrase in her native tongue that couldn't easily be translated to Basic. "You must be pfasking kidding me. After what the Mandos did? They'll kill you the first opportunity they get." "'Magine so." Another spasm of the headtails followed. "Do you... actually want to die? I don't take suicidals or--" "I'd rather not. Honest. Look, I just need you to get me to Coruscant, I don't care which starport, no one is expecting me--that's all I need. I can pay ten thou in ash." "Fifteen." That reply came in an instant. Sophia coughed and set down her mug of warm ale. A paroxysm of reflexive coughing followed as her lungs attempted to expel an inhaled gulp. "Beg… beg your pardon? For a one-way?" "This won't be like a hop and skip to Corellia. Triple Zero is a warzone, I have to expect that the planet is blockaded and that the Mandos are running caparound the system. If I'm going to risk my neck, it's going to be extra. Fifteen, all in advance." Sophia ran some calculations in her head--fifteen thousand was nearly enough to purchase a beat up freighter or a shuttle and to take the risk of running the blockade on her own. That ship wasn't likely to survive for a return trip, but she was already expecting the journey to be a one-way trip. Credits were not exactly a concern of hers in that light. However, she would have preferred being smuggled onto the planet surface, rather than alerting every Mando within a light-hour to her presence and living on the run. She took a sip of lomin-ale, the drinking souring in her mouth. "Very well. Fifteen it is." "Pleasure. I’ll start pre-flight checks right away, sooner we can take off the better. I’m on landing pad seven-two-five cresh, ask for the Twilight Dancer.” ____ Sophia shook Giza’valla’s surprisingly warm hand. Taking a glance at her half-full glass of lomin-ale, she promptly decided better of finishing off the disgusting beverage and simply departed the vile den of mass-produced beer, terrible music, and scarcely-tolerable fried food. The cost of the ferry would drain the majority of the funds that had been donated by Misal’s organization, but she supposed that a return flight from a planet conquered by the Mandalorians was an unlikely eventuality. The historian inwardly groaned when she saw the vessel piloted by her ferry. It was an old YT-2400 light freighter, and the unpainted saucer hull of the vessel was speckled with random patches of hull. The outline of a co-pilot droid was visible through the tinted canopy of the cockpit. As it happened, her perception of her ferry’s appearance was incorrect. Giza’valla, she noted as the Twi’lek came strutting down the boarding ramp of the freighter with a stubby blaster pistol slung inconveniently-low on her hip, wasn’t attempting to imitate Han Solo--she was attempting to put on a display of a Dash Rendar. The Twi’lek was an imitation of an imitation. And Sophia was betting her survival on a poor imitation of a Mandalorian. The historian put on a stolid mask of a stiff upper lip and marched up the boarding ramp, pausing only to deposit a password-protected credit chit into her pilot’s hand. She could guess at the layout of the freighter well enough. While the floor of the ship lifted and turned under her fleet over the course of their lift-off and approach to their hyperspace vector, Sophia, with some difficulty and minor bumps, went through the routine of donning her ersatz beskar’gam in the tiny refresher of the vessel. Fifteen minutes later, exactly according to schedule, they retreated into hyperspace.
  4. A brief voice/text transmission arrived for Beth Andromina on civilian channels. Its sender had no idea if the intended recipient would ever see it, or if it would be swallowed up by hyperspace travel or edited to the point of incomprehensibility by the Imperial Remnant's censors. “Beth, I’m still alive. Hopefully you can say the same. The Sith haven’t gone after Carida yet…. but… I have a personal errand that requires me to go to Coruscant. No, I haven’t completely lost my marbles… well, maybe. I left some information there that might be critically important, like ‘might get a few million people killed if it falls into the wrong hands’ sort of important. I’ll be able to sleep a lot better if I know that it’s destroyed or off Corrie. If you hear from me again, I’ve probably succeeded and I’m on my way to safety. If not… well…......." There was a long pause. "At least I tried. I know that I can’t ask you to be safe. That’s the life. So shoot straight--and shoot first. Soph.”
  5. ((Weaponized cosplay!)) Fifty hours later, it was completed. Those two days were a blur of weaving, durathrash music, programming on her datapad, flatbread, sleep deprivation, and the occasional lomin-ale with her fellow nerds. Once the cuirass came off the molprinter, Sophia immediately laid it out over a tarpand sprayed it over with an aerosol of a vivid shade of orange. The durathrash pounding and a Twi’lek growling incomprehensible lyrics in the background, the historian leaned over the pauldron and carefully stenciled a traditional mythosaur icon in black, making sure to allow her fingers to slip a few times to lend to it a roughly-drawn appearance. Seconds later, one of her comrades in books blasted the cuirass with an ultraviolet lamp to rapidly dry the paint. Slightly addled by paint fumes, Sophia dragged put a blast-shielded helmet and tibanna-fueled welding torch. Humming along to the spine-tingling lyrics being blasted in the workshop, Sophia attacked a few non-vital segments of the plate with the torch: few grazing slashes to imitate near-misses with blaster fire, and a pair of lingering scars on the abdomen and greaves in facsimile of direct hits. The charring did not quite have the same appearance as blaster hits, but it after examining the abused plate from further away, Sophia decided that it would at least pass for battle-damage from a distance. Then came pre-aging the armor. Attempting to pass as a Mandalorian mercenary would never succeed while wearing armor that reeked of fresh paint. Fortunately, two of the reenactors were happy to take turns trodding upon the plates and assaulting the plastoid with their carving knives to lend it a weathered, beaten appearance. That part was simple--merely a matter of waiting and reimbursing her fellow nerds with flatbread and beer to take turns venting their loathing of the Mandalorians out on her imitation. The attachments were somewhat more complicated. Though the helmet boasted an imitation of a sensor antenna, no hobbyist store on Carida was going to sell quality-spec sensors to a civilian and Sophia only had hours to spare to write and steal coding--not nearly enough time to write even a crude sensor interpretation algorithm. The jetpack, fortunately was more simple--the physics of a small object in flight were not terribly complicated, and with generous cribbing from various Holonet sources, Sophia was able to piece together a guidance algorithm that she almost trusted with her life. Eyes heavy from fifty hours of continuous work, Sophia took a few moments to survey her work. Painted orange with black trimming, her suit of imitation Mandalorian beskar’gam certainly wouldn’t blend in with any environment, but the world she was about to attempt to infiltrate didn’t offer any camouflage. Pounding the breastplate with a fist, she also recognized the distinctive clatter of stormtrooper plastoid--subtly different from the denser, more metal-rich beskar. It would have to suffice. But she knew that it would never pass inspection by a Mando’ad, especially with the webbing around her shoulders and legs. Not that she would stand a chance against the nomadic warriors in a close-range firefight. “Let’s put it on. Boots, shinplates…” Sophia’s thin frame gradually grew heavier as she began to mount pieces of plastoid plating on her black bodyglove. When the helmet went over her face, her breath immediately grew warm and she fought to control the pace of her breathing. Finally came the woven kama, a handspun cloth of armorweave that rested just above her hips. It fell around her legs, the weight strangely reassuring around her thighs and knees. “How does it feel?” “All in all, pretty good. actually. I feel… big, though, rawr.” Sophia smiled under her helmet. She stretched out her shoulders and felt her motions only slightly restricted by the joints of the pauldrons “The peripheral vision in the helmet is actually quite a bit better than I would have expected. Really warm, though. Shoulda thought to put in a climate control unit.” “Room to upgrade, then. We… will see you again, I hope? You’re not going to do anything too stupid with that armor?” There was a pregnant pause before the historian answered. “My account is settled, correct? Peth-Osk got cleared and everything?” ______ Two hours later, Sophia had returned to her meagre lodgings on Carida. The room barely more than a closet, there was hardly even space to walk on the floor without stepping on pieces of discarded armor. A holograph of Coruscant’s lower levels--at least, what had been the lower levels before Faust had sent a moon into her atmosphere--lay nested in her lap and the historian charted out several routes to her apartment and the University of Coruscant. Utterly exhausted by the day, she felt her eyes grow heavy and she began to nod off. Three hours later, she woke up, her lips still smeared with some red-orange hot sauce from her dinner. The holograph still shimmered below her, albeit with some incomprehensible gibberish scrawled over Coruscant’s skyscrapers when she had been attempting to work in her half-awake, half-asleep state. Sophia closed down the map and pushed her hair out of her face. There were perhaps five people in the entire galaxy who knew that she was still alive and cared for the fact. Her voice strained from nervousness and exhaustion, the historian began to record a message from her acquaintance in the Imperial fleet. Maybe it would reach the TIE pilot.. “Beth, I’m still alive. Hopefully you can say the same. The Sith haven’t gone after Carida yet…. but… I have a personal errand that requires me to go to Coruscant. No, I haven’t completely lost my marbles… well, maybe. I left some information there that might be critically important, like ‘might get a few million people killed if it falls into the wrong hands’ sort of important. I’ll be able to sleep a lot better if I know that it’s destroyed or off Corrie. If you hear from me again, I’ve probably succeeded and I’m on my way to safety. If not… well… at least I tried. I know that I can’t ask you to be safe. That’s the life. So shoot straight--and shoot first.” Her message completed, Sophia laid down on her cot and instantly fell asleep.
  6. The frantic events of the next week were a blur, and a time that Sophia would later find painful to recall.: Coruscant; Kuat; the Galactic Alliance; the Imperial Remnant. What Sophia had expected to be stable, or at least sufficiently well-founded to stand its ground, evaporated in a matter of days. She watched G-Span as system after system seceded from the Galactic Alliance. She endured the dread of standing before a reunion kiosk and inquiring after some twenty people she gave a damn about on Coruscant--no information was available about the fates of any of them. That didn’t mean anything. If her Coruscanti friends and colleagues had escaped, it was likely that they were still in hyperspace or had yet to be processed into the exploded refugee system. If not… the civilian Holonet transceiver networks were overloaded to the point of uselessness, and the better odds were that no remains would ever be found if they were lost. No information was available regarding the fate of the Darkfire boy. That was classified information, Moriarty understood, not to be divulged to someone who wasn’t immediate kin. There had been a frantic Holonet transmission from Andromina, the pilot that she had briefly met--and made a libidinous fool out of herself in front of--on Coruscant. That felt like it had been years ago. Recalling the incident in her closet of a hotel room, Sophia found herself staring at the blank screen of her datapad once the transmission ended. The average crew of an Impstar Deuce, she reminded herself, was something along the line of forty-six thousands. Beth’s time on the terminal had to have been extremely limited, and the pilot might have had to wait hours for her limited session. And Beth chose to contact her, of all people. Didn’t she have family? Close friends? Why her? Sophia wiped her hand clean of the greasy slice of flatbread onto her bed and closed down her datapad. The historian swept her fingertips through her hair and just stared at her knees for a few minutes Moriarty rose and paced the perimeter of her room, an exercise that only took a few seconds. The exercise repeated itself and Moriarty stammered to herself, hammering on the dull beige walls of her room with a small fist. “Too much left on Coruscant. Everything I have, everything I was counting on. And Draygo’s stuff. Too much to leave. Too much to just leave. Gotta go there. Somehow. Somehow. Think think think think.” The anxious stammering continued for several minutes, accompanied occasionally by the frustrated pounding against the walls of her room. Someone in the next room started to yell angrily. “Maybe. Just maybe. Urban environment, chaos, lots of verticality, the bastards probably aren’t consolidating their territory. Can they really keep unit cohesion in an environment like Coruscant?” Some things were worth dying for, Sophia had told herself just before setting on this adventure. She fell upon her datapad and set to work. Two hours later, an advertisement was blasted out across Carida’s civilian networks: “Require time on a tri-dorn molprinter capable of molding armor-grade plastoid composite. Est 18 h. Will supply mats, paints, prints, just need the gear. Highest priority, will buy out current contracts if needed. Available?” _______ Six hours later, Sophia found herself in a garage frequented by a local chapter of historical reenactors. She breathed deeply of the scents of oil and welding torches and paint and immediately felt her shoulders loosening, the anxiety in her mind fading away. The historian had never met any of this motley menagerie of humans and aliens, but immediately upon stepping into their territory and inhaling the comforting scents of their craft and having to shout over the din of pounding, she knew that she had met her own people--hobbyists, tech enthusiasts... nerds. Sophia brushed hair out of her face and went over the holoprints of her armor with a well-built human. Only now did she notice that the dark-skinned human had the words “Rebel Scum” tattooed on his knucklebones and she resisted the urge to arch an eyebrow. After seeing the distinctive T-Visor in the armor’s helmet, “Really? You’re gonna recreate a son of Mandalore right after what they did to Coruscant? Too soon?” “Can he do it?” “The plastoid shell…. sure. But this wiring and metalwork for the jetpack… I think you’re gonna need forty-eight for this job.” “That’s fine, I’ll buy out the next two days.” That would drain her life savings to almost nothing, but chances were that she wouldn’t need them much longer. “Shiny. I’ll queue up the parts. Lamarr’s all yours for the next forty-eight hours.” Sophia took a moment to regard the centerpiece of the garage’s equipment, a tri-dorn molprinter that was larger than her hotel room and boasted enough chrome-plated arms to be confused for an ancient torture device. Each of those fiendish appendages terminated in an equally-dangerous device: welding torches, electromagnetic torques, nanoscale forges--everything that a mechanically-inclined and overimaginative individual needed for a great night. Evidently, this clan of historical reenactors had given the machine of “Lamarr”, but Sophia decided that a more masculine name better suited it. “Hello, Mister Zirtech 9001.” She approached the apparatus and stroked one of those arms with an appreciative finger. This one ended in a durasteel vibrosaw and she withdrew well before the blade. “Sing me the song of your people…” Her hand hauled up the canister of plastoid slurry and shoved it into a cylindrical intake. Next followed a spool of heat-treated durasteel wire. Those arms went to work,, traversing around an empty space within the center of the molprinter and applying individual drops of plastoid and steel. Gradually, a grey shell began to take shape around a repulsorframe. After watching the beginnings of a cuirass take shape, Sophia knelt down on the concrete floor and dusted off a square meter of space with her hand. As magnificent as that eight-armed beast of an apparatus was as it performed its craft, there were pieces of work that required a more delicate hand to complete. Producing a mass of thermalweave cloth and a simple needle from her satchel, her fingers deftly raced through the fabric to stitch together a simple garment: a traditional Mandalorian kama. Weaving at least took her mind off the subject of her mortality.
  7. Sophia flushed pale, her skin became cold and clammy, and her limbs trembled as though she a spice-addict jonesing for her next fix. She grimaced and glanced from side to side. Odd--she wasn’t normally prone to panic attacks, but now it seemed as though these reinforced underground corridors were about to embrace her in a tender wampa-hug and choke the life out of her. The historian had no comprehension of what was about to happen, but buried under hundreds of meters of rock and durasteel-reinforced concrete where no Holonet signal could reach her devices, Sophia had managed to work through the events that hailed a catastrophe that was about to doom Coruscant to years of irrelevance. “I… uhm… I’m very sorry, but I need a refresher--thiscan’twaitIswearI’mnotspiced--oh Force... make a hole!” Sophia found herself sprinting away from the archivist and she searched desperately for signage indicating a refresher station. She plowed through a one of her fellow scholars, inadvertently shoulder-checking the grey-furred Shistavenan to the ground--but there was no time to glance to check that her older colleague wasn’t hurt. Fortunately, only seconds before the death of hundreds of billions struck and the Force reflexively kicked her in the bowels, SOphia, half-blind from a thrumming migraine, managed to follow the scent of ammonia to a refresher station, skidded over a film of drying cleaning supplies, shoulder-checked her way into an unoccupied stall, and thrust her head into the porcelain throne. At that moment, the Force decided to sucker punch her in the gut, and the historian retched miserably. She felt as though this entire underground complex was in danger of collapsing around her, burying her alive--she was simultaneously burning up, and yet so frigid that Sophia didn’t dare remove her jacket. Her ears rang with… something, but Sophia couldn’t make any sense of the keening racket. And something kept punching her right under the solar plexus and in the bowels at the same time. Groaning miserably, Sophia felt the unmistakable trickle of bile struggling to rise from her gut. She shut her eyes and just held herself above the refresher. “It’s okay, Lachelle. You’ve got this. It’s okay. It’s okay. Just breathe and let it pass.” It was not okay. Sophia did not “have” this. And as for breathing, it was impossible to breathe and let a wave of nausea pass at the same time. The unmistakable sounds of a woman in misery could be heard from her refresher station as she expelled a tide of sickness from her bowels into Carida’s plumbing. It was nearly an hour before the historian trusted herself to lift her face from the faux-porcelain. When she managed to push herself away, she just sat on the cold tile, shivering and drawing her jacket closer towards her. Tears streamed down her face and she occasionally wiped at her eyes, but she knew that her face was a swollen, makeup-streaked, snotty, and generally unhygienic and unsightly mess and mess. “Frack me…” she whispered. “The actual frack was that?”
  8. Sophia had glanced away from the technician for a moment, her brown eyes focusing on a document that had somehow been stuffed into the mounds of paperwork that she was sifting into. There was little time to glance over the document, a fragment of a journal entry that had somehow found its way into the Imperial archives on Project Genesis. She had only a second to skim the text, but her hurried glance at least made out the name of Admiral Druger—one of the poor, neglected sods who had been abandoned by the Imperial Navy in the Unknown Regions, the Emperor (which one? Sophia had wondered), and the commencement of the bombardment pattern Base Delta Zero. A cold name that belied the brutality of the maneuver, Base Delta Zero was the most severe atrocity that the Empire could visit upon its subject worlds in the days of the Sith Emperors. Base Delta Zero called for the sterilization of an entire world: cities obliterated from orbit, rural areas sterilized by repeated waves of turbolaser bombardment, even survivors exterminated and droids melted down to slag. Most of the Sith Emperors had actually preferred less thorough atrocities, the psychopaths desiring their victims to suffer from the ruination of their worlds’ ecosystems by toxic contamination and biological attacks. Supposedly, a full record of the Base Delta Zero maneuvers committed by the Empire was held within the bowels of the Panopticon and lay under heavy guard. There was no chance that Sophia was supposed to have come across this journal entry. Her left eye twitched. Her first thought had been to turn over the memo and pretend that she had never come across this particular record, but that involuntary gesture had just immortalized the document in her personal archives. Sophia rose from her seat and made a concerted effort to not appear as though she was attempting to escape from her seat as she allowed herself to be escorted away by the technician. “Look, I don’t know what you expect, but I’m not taking stims. I haven’t tried that sort of thing since uni, and that was a bad idea. I was sick for a week, nearly had a mental breakdown in quals.” An evasion, but what Sophia was concealing would be difficult to uncover. A little bit wobbly from lack of sleep, she nonetheless managed to notice the weariness in Parvati’s face. When the two departed the archives and were well on their way to the medical ward, Sophia took advantage of a gap between surveillance holocams and continued on with her whining. “I’m just tired. Can we just get this done so I can get back to—“ Her voice dropped down. “She’s a person? I fracking knew it!”
  9. On the exposed page of Sophia’s notes, underlined and written in a shaky and frustrated hand, was the name of KALI. Scrawled in the margins were a number of attempts at parsing the alias, the author clearly believing that the name might have been an acronym or a reference to a mythological or literary figure. The historian glanced up--her eyes had been rendered bloodshot by over twenty hours of almost-nonstop work at the terminals and the paper archives, and the excessive amount of caffeine that she’d been ingesting during that time had turned her hands somewhat twitchy. Sophia had heard this tone often enough to recognize it on hearing: the forced-cheer of a bored professional who had been rendered dead on the inside by the doldrums of their shift. “Can’t. Too much work to get done, don’t know when or if I’ll ever be here again. Gotta make the most of this. Deadlines.” She set aside her notes and found that her hands were shaking even at the effort of pushing the piles of flimsiplast and pens. That probably wasn’t a good sign. “...and probably going to be a lot longer, considering how this is going." She sighed. "You’re not giving me a choice, are you?”
  10. Lost in an overabundance of data, Sophia continued to pore through a mountain of reports from Kamino regarding the Jedi attack several years ago. From what the historian could gather from the Imperial perspective, the attack had been a disaster from almost the beginning for the Jedi; coordination with the Rebellion’s fleet appeared to be spotty at best, and at least one Jedi had been downed by turbolaser fire--turbolaser fire, of all things--early into the engagement. What exactly the Jedi had been attempting to accomplish with their attack on Kamino was a mystery, but it soon became clear that the assault simply caused widespread, indiscriminate devastation, resulting in a loss of civilian lives estimated in the millions. From a glance through casualty reports from the civilian authorities, most of these lives were terminated with an entry in their file stating that they were merely missing, but Sophia understood perfectly what that meant: that it had been impossible to recover their bodies, and that they had drowned in the turbulent depths of Kamino, trapped in their sinking cities. It was a terrible way to go. In the chaos of the dogfight, it was nearly impossible to keep track of individual fighters, but a rescue and recovery operation that had taken place after the Jedi withdrawal confirmed that the sinking of one of the floating cities had been accomplished through the destruction of a critical power juncture that fed the city’s repulsorlift arrays. The torpedos that had sunk that city had been delivered from beneath its platform. Requiring unimaginably precise piloting to avoid diving into the waves or colliding with the floating platform, only a Jedi would have managed that maneuver. Only Grandmaster Trevelian was confirmed to still be in the air when that city was destroyed. There was something to be said about the confusion of battle, but there was no possibility that Trevelian couldn't have known about the potential collateral damage of his attack. At nearly the same time as the attack on Kamino, the Rebellion had led a similar attack on the Empire’s shipyards at Kuat. Similare results seen in that attack; although at least Kuat Drive Yards was a valuable strategic asset that had constructed a disproportionate fraction of the Empire’s military orders, including a significant portion of their fleet of Star Destroyers. Whether Kuat Drive Yards was still a valid target for a military campaign was a topic of vociferous debate amongst the community of contemporary historians, however; there was an ongoing argument concerning whether orders for military equipment and ships were still being processed at the legendary shipyards, whether Kuat Drive Yards ever intended to reopen the Star Destroyer production lines, and whether the planet’s history marked it as a valid target, even just to deny a potential resource to the Empire. However, what couldn’t be denied was that the Rebellion hadn’t given enough time for the orbital shipyards to evacuate their dockworkers, and that countless civilians had been killed when Starlisk had ordered his bombardment and destroyed them. When Sophia finished reading those reports and took a moment to think over a cup of caf that had long gone cold, she let out a whisper of “holy shit!” when she realized that Draygo had saved the Rebellion’s sensor data in her personal archives. In a palm-sized device on Sophia’s belt, known only to her, there was incontrovertible evidence (from the perspective of the Rebellion, no less!) that the Rebellion and the Jedi had both engaged in hideous war crimes. Starlisk and Trevelian, both war criminals. The former was an essential component of the Republic's struggle against the Empire until the very end of the war. The latter, though not a member of Draygo’s Jedi Council, was a close personal friend of the Jedi Grandmaster’s and was undoubtedly trusted with critical assignments. Draygo knew. She even kept personal files that could have been used to prosecute the Admiral of the Rebellion’s fleet. This supposed icon of virtuous warfare, sometimes the very symbol of principled resistance against domination by the Sith, had done nothing. It would have been politically inconvenient to do so. Sophia fished through a mountain of reports, trying to locate a file that she had skimmed over nearly twenty hours ago and had since been buried under a stack of books. It was a status report on an Imperial operation that had been called Project Genesis, a Sith-Imperial collaboration that had expanded to Kamino only a few months prior to the raid but had been in operation for years. It clearly involved something involving genetic engineering, but the biology was far beyond the comprehension of the historian and she suspected that the few redacted sections within concerned secrets regarding Sith mysticism. The commanding officer on the part of the Empire was someone or something named KALI. Sophia frowned and wiped at her bloodshot eyes when she read that name. She had hoped to interview a person. It was obviously a pseudonym or an acronym or a division within the Empire at the time. No rank or service number was attached to that name, but the acronym didn't follow any conventional military system of nomenclature that she was familiar with. It was most likely that it was a decommissioned division within the Empire or a pseudonym, Sophia decided. “Yeah, she's still at it. I'm a little bit worried about her, actually. You don't think that maybe she's taken spice or something?” Sophia’s head jolted upright and overstrained neck muscles complained at the day spent hunched over a desk. Yet another duty shift change had taken place; the librarians had exchanged their station; the acrid low-level lights for the night shift had been exchanged for bright overhead lighting. She swallowed another nutrient pill and downed it with another cup of cold caf. She needed to find out what this Project Genesis was, find out who or what KALI was… and she suspected that she wasn’t going to find out with the Empire’s assistance.
  11. Sophia’s shoes clicked on the polished concrete of the floor of the Imperial Archives, a vaguely circular room surrounded by innumerable reams of dataslates, terminals, and paper books, affectionately known to military officers and academics alike as the Panopticon. Now that the historian had finally had the pleasure of visiting the repository of information and the workstations that were surrounded by centuries of sensitive data, Sophia could see the resemblance to the building concept, but the moniker was chosen more for the institution's’ reputation for collecting virtually all available information in the galaxy. Striding to the center of the multilayered library, she gave the attending archivist a big grin. “Hello. My first time in the Panopticon. I don’t suppose you could help find some rather… specific reports? “Be happy to. Your identification, please.” Something in the officer’s accent stuck out to her--there was clearly a bit of Coruscant in his voice that military training couldn’t completely obliterate, but not the strained accent of the posh Upper Levels... She held out the badge for the librarian’s inspection. “Sophia Moriarty, embed with the Imperial Knights. Coruscant?” “Eastport.” That was it--there lingered a very slight twang of the lower classes of that thoroughly working-class precinct. “I was reassigned just a little bit before the armistice. You’re… not that Sophia Moriarty, are you?” Sophia was taken aback. She hadn’t expected her presence on the planet to have been noted. Shoving a loose strand of hair away from her face, she responded carefully. “Well, I was with the Knights at Y’Toub...” “Not what I was thinking of. The Last Full Measure: An Accounting of the Final Days of the Galactic Civil War? Or Hydia to Aequita: The Founding of the Galactic Republic?” Sophia found herself blushing. The former was the first successful history that Moriarty had published--the first actually successful text, that had finally allowed her to cease subsiding on a diet of ration bars and instant noodles. That second text was her graduate thesis, an accounting of the organic growth of a loose confederation of star systems situated vaguely along the route of the Hydian Way into the Galactic Republic. Despite the tremendous effort in compiling the sources used to tell the story of the founding of the government that would co-opt the Rebellion and fight the Empire to a stand-still, she had imagined that the text was mouldering in the proverbial shelves of academia. “I didn’t think anyone ever actually read those.” “Are you kidding me? Where were you able to able get a primary source for the Jedi perspective of the Battle of Coruscant?” “I was working in their archives at the time.” “Spast--to have a few hours in those halls… I… anyway, what can I help you with?” “Kamino. ‘Round the same time of the Jedi attack. Anything that you can give me--Aurek-Aurek-Resh, casualty reports, sensor data, briefings, civilian facility reports...” “Working on something new?” Now was the officer’s turn to grin. Clearly, most of his workday consisted of retrieving reports and documents for the analysis of general staff and intelligence. Tracking down the recollections of a controversial battle for the purposes of finally bringing the misfortunes of that terrible day to public attention was far out of the realm of the ordinary for him. “I'm about ninety percent there. Unfortunately, that last ten has been a real… the Jedi have not exactly been forthcoming about their perspective of the battle.” “A moment, Doctor Moriarity.” Ignoring the historian’s correction of “Sophia”, the archivist took a few minutes to hammer away at his workstation, locating some of the archives that would provide the her with a starting point. He pointed with a three-fingered hand towards a nearby workstation. “I’ve set up a temporary log-in for the archives at that desk there, though I highly recommend that you leave the retrieval to me. Our archival system is somewhat… idiosyncratic. Obviously, you won’t be able leave the Archives with any of the originals, so you’ll need to take notes, and… oh dear.” His eyes widened slightly at a report that appeared on his datapad. “Oh dear what?” “...Are you certain that you wouldn’t like to narrow down your search query? I’m pulling up quite a bit of information. You’ll be here for weeks if you don’t know what you’re looking for.” “I’ll manage. I don’t sleep very much.” Sophia took her post at the workstation and began to scroll through the first of the documents that had been transferred to the screen of the secured datapad: an After Action Report from the General who had been in command while the Imperials attempted to repulse the Jedi assault. Sophia took notes occasionally, then moved on to the next document. So began a long, long day of research--the historian appeared to have been welded to the workstation and scarcely left, and the archivist occasionally located additional documents from the Imperial and civilian facilities on Kamino. Hours passed. More and more documents were transferred to the workstation that Sophia had claimed as her territory, and a small fort of paper books began to fortify the perimeter of her realm. A slight, somewhat unassuming woman, the historian quickly disappeared behind the walls of data surrounded her. She took no notice, lifting her head only occasionally to thank the archivist for locating yet another paper book or dataslate and further reinforcing the fortress of texts that surrounded her. She reappeared from her realm only occasionally for refresher breaks and to retrieve more caf--at the moment, she was subsiding mostly on nutrient pills and caffeine. The duty shift eventually ended. Sophia was jolted out of her trance when the archivist was relieved of his post, overhearing the conversation of the archivists in the background. “She’s been there all day--barely even moved. She’s a machine.” Sophia heard in the background as Rishard left his port. Sophia rubbed at her bleary eyes and dug in her pockets for a pair of reading glasses. This was going to be a late night...
  12. After some hours of meditation, Sophia’s trance was interrupted by a knock on the door of her rented room. The historian sat upright from her slouched position with a jolt and peeked outside her door, noting the delivered carton of pizza with raised eyebrows. She furtively glanced down the hallway after she peered into the carton’s lid; she wasn’t aware that she even knew anyone on Carida, least of all someone who might think to handwrite a private note… She read rapidly as she ducked back into the oversized closet, surprised that she had made enough of an impression on Andromina for the TIE pilot to have tracked her down. She folded up a slice of the pizza and devoured it with abandon, peering at the attached identification badge with her free hand. Her eyes widened when she realized exactly what she was looking at. This little strip of plastisheet was an research identicard that bestowed complete, unescorted access to the Imperial archives. Sophia’s mouth dropped open and the greasy slice fell out of her mouth--even if Beth had managed to procure this identicard through legal means, it was a tremendous security risk for an outsider like Moriarty to come into possession of a badge with this level of security clearance. It couldn’t possibly be legal for her to even possess this kind of clearance without enduring months of background checks and security interviews… However, if the Ubiqtorate ever bothered to read some of her previous works, they would understand that even if her earlier writings took something of a pro-Republic slant, she was not a raving, pro-Jedi fanatic. She peered closely at the plastisheet identicard, instinctively angling it to watch the security holos shift under the light. There would be other security features built into the card that weren’t immediately visible, but it at least seemed genuine. If she did have this kind of clearance, it would practically be criminal for her to not make use of it. Sophia reached into her bag, retrieved the archival disc, and placed it in front of her crossed legs on the mattress of the bed. Before the historian had even had a chance to place the device on her bed, the inlaid holoprojector shone to life and displayed the convoluted holographic user interface. A set of icons pulsed occasionally; her eyes traced over them to investigate. Sophia read over the holographic display while biting the inside of her lip; the first of the updated documents were manuals for the various gadgets that had been left in her room. Sophia transitioned to the remainder of the alerts: these were updates on the locations of the Wolf Spiders. Half of them had deployed to Iridonia, half of them to Sullust; reports of ammunition expenditures, damage reports, a compilation of sensor recordings… a report that the Journeyman had been shot down over Iridonia. There was no mention of the fate of its crew. Sophia suddenly lost her appetite. At least two other vessels had been present at this skirmish, but there was no report concerning the fate of Misal Draygo or the others on that shuttle. There wasn’t anything that she could do for Misal, and if something had happened to the Miraluka hag and her secretive operatives, Sophia likely would have joined their fate. She reached out and pushed the holoprojector disc away, the image winking out of existence as she lifted away her hands. There wasn’t anything that Sophia could have done for Misal in a battle, the historian told herself; she was untrained, barely more competent than the average Coruscanti civilian; her place was in intelligence analysis. Sophia ran her hands through her hair and stared at the mattress of the bed. She needed to get to work, needed to document the war that these people had fought. A quick shower later, the historian summoned an airtaxi and made her way to the Panopticon, the reinforced-looking building in the Imperial Citadel where the Remnant’s archives were housed. A squat, eight-sided building in the midst of one of Carida’s largest installation, the Imperial archives were actually mostly excavated into the bedrock--the majority of the structure was buried deep into the planet’s crust, where even orbital bombardment or EMP burst might not damage the records. Certainly, the multiple checkpoints manned by helmeted stormtroopers hinted at how sensitive some of the documents under its aegis might be, as did the fact that the majority of the functions of Sophia’s datapad were disabled upon entering the facility. Nodding along with the rhythm of a thunderous Sullustan rap that had rendered Sophia partially deaf during the airtaxi ride, the historian displayed her identification--both her scholar's credentials and the misappropriated pass from Andromina--to a final checkpoint before entering an armored turbolift that sent her into the planet’s crust. When the doors to the turbolift opened, revealing a facility with polished duracrete floors and steel fixtures, Sophia sniffed at the dehydrated, recycled air when she entered the historical stacks of the Imperial Remnant. She detected more than a hint of dust, and the delectable scent of acid-free, conservation-grade paper--real paper, not micron-thin flimsi or plastisheet. Most of these records would rarely be visited. Indeed, Sophia could only make out the clicking of one individual’s shoes against the waxened floors. However, when the doors to the turbolift opened with a chime to the silence of the stacks of the Empire’s archives, Sophia thought she heard the accompaniment of a chorus of angels. This was Sophia’s mileu. Here was the home of unimaginable depths of data, reports needed to be written into stories. All that was needed was a historian who was willing to sift through the mounds of data and navigate through the redactions. Naturally, the task was typically aided by a dedicated research librarian who understood these waters and could guide visitors to their destination. Although she was hardly dressed for such a strategy, Sophia walked over to the librarian’s desk in the middle of the floor and offered the attending officer a big grin…
  13. ((I am making some assumptions with my character’s standing here. If there are objections, I’m happy to edit the post. No espionage is planned; this is just an in-character narration of a very deep dive into the JNet archives.)) When Sophia first came to Carida, she was an itinerant scholar, not certain whether she would be welcomed with open arms or escorted from the away from the planet's military installations under armed guard. On her second visit, she would be a guest of the Imperial Remnant and the Knights of the Head of State, a known quantity to the Imperial Navy, and with security clearance for some of the Empire’s more sensitive records. Previously, she had simply been begging for the graces of the Knight-Commander; she had returned with authorization to access the Imperial archives. A long week awaited the traveling scholar, one filled with sleepless nights, navigating her way through the shoals of redacted paragraphs and combing through an ocean of data. It would be a grueling campaign, but with enough coffee and donuts, she would be victorious. Sophia had hitched a ride on a troop transport and had spent a cramped and sweaty voyage in the steerage of the vessel, keeping to herself and ignoring the fact that she had been using the same change of clothing for the last two days by immersing herself in the findings of her peers. A contact in the Engineering Department of Usk of Cresh had finally reported his findings of a set of crystalline wafers that the historian had recovered from the ruins of Draygo’s vessel. Through a series of nondestructive assays, the Verpine had concluded that the wafers were components of a highly-advanced data storage device. The polymorphic organo-crystalline lattice allowed for extraordinarily dense, almost incalculable storage of data, increasing exponentially with the complexity of the assembly that the cross-section was assembled into. As for interaction with the device, the Verpine could only offer conjecture; his scans detected elements of a type of proximity sensor that was often installed into room-scale holocomms, but the materials scientist hadn’t an inkling of how the end user would interact with the device. Sophia understood immediately. These wafers were attempts at assembling a holocron--forty-one attempts, each a failure. Her passage through customs went much more smoothly, as this time she was sandwiched between a score of Imperial soldiers, some of whom had attempted to smuggle minor pieces of contraband from Coruscant. Her room (closet was a more accurate description) was still rented--and still draining her meager reserves of credits--but much to her surprise, the crate full of electronics that Misal had supplied was still present. This time, Sophia was able to take more time to examine the various pieces of equipment in the package. A miniature holocomm no larger than the palm of her hand was present, but Sophia was surprised to find that the disk was completely devoid of any contact information--it probably had been wiped by the miserable crone. A smaller satchel contained a curious set of contact lenses floating in an odorless saline solution of some description--the historian spent at least fifteen minutes poking herself in her amber eyes, trying to become accustomed to the lenses and blinking rapidly to the irritating, foreign objects sitting in her eyes. She stared at herself in the solitary mirror in the unit’s refresher and wiped at a trail of makeup that had been smeared by the saline. “Um, record?” Sophia recited lamely in the refresher. “Link? Begin recording?” She sighed. What was it that those blackguards and assassins always said to each other before beginning an operation? It was obvious. “Sync.” A miniaturized heads-up display in light brown outlines bloomed around her irises; Sophia recoiled in surprise and nearly blinked the lenses free from her eyes. A tiny pixel of crimson blinked repeatedly in her lower left eye--likely an indication that something in the lenses was recording either image or sound. Sophia glanced at her datapad, having brought it with her to the refresher; something was uploading both holo and sound to the device. She was going to have to play around with these curious little creations and test their capabilities, she resolved, and discover whether they offered any other features. Sophia returned to the satchel that Misal’s associates had left. A small stash of credits in varying denominations was also included--not an insignificant sum, enough for a few interstellar journeys in modest furnishings, but not so much to draw suspicion of counterfeit or seditious purposes. A few metallic pieces of jewelry of classic, geometric design were present; the historian couldn’t even guess at their operation, but a trace of an earring’s pins with a fingertip hinted at a trace of serration: a data output, perhaps? She spent a few more hours in her room playing with the various knick-knacks that had been abandoned by the spurned Miraluka, trying to discover any hidden features in the electronic wonders that she had overlooked--but also trying to find out how to turn off the blasted gizmos. Wandering into Imperial archives outfitted for a clandestine operation would have been a fantastic method to earn berthing for life in an Imperial prison. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that Misal had left any documentation for any of the devices in the satchel, either trusting Sophia to figure out operation of the widgets through trial-and-error. Sophia munched on one of the flavorless ration cubes that she’d managed to save from the Misericordia, puzzling over why the bitter old crone had entrusted these clandestine marvels without leaving any instruction. No additional files, save for the recording being streamed from the contact lenses, had been uploaded to her datapad. No documents were included in the satchel. The historian pondered over the question, slowly accumulating crumbs on the rooms cot, until an idea so patently obvious that she cried out in frustration sprung to her mind. Sophia had in her possession a device that was nearly unique in the galaxy, whose encryption seemed nearly unbeatable to any but the galaxy’s cleverest hackers: Draygo’s archival disc. Sophia placed the metallic cylinder before her crossed legs, in the middle of the cot, and closed her eyes. Steadying her breath, she began to meditate...
  14. ((Making some rather generous assumptions with NPC actions. I’ll edit if anyone needs me to.)) A persistent whine lingered in Sophia’s ears after the climactic finale of the teenaged pop star’s performance. The charmingly disheveled bartender managed to locate a shatterproof ceraplast mug under his shelves and a flask of low-grade wine, both of which he was rather surprised remained after the bar was prepared for a meeting of the galaxy’s wealthiest and politically powerful. The historian sipped aggressively at her mug of cheap wine during E’lann’s speech and remained after the party broke up, having bid farewell to Beth with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She quietly ruminated on the parting words while the restaurant’s staff cleaned the ruins of the dining hall, her mood darkening as she emptied her glass. The words were bland, diplomatically spoken from a diplomatically-written script, chosen carefully for their calculated effect to please the relevant parties present. They spoke of military cooperation with the Empire and striking back at the parties that had wounded the two governments. More important, however, was what was unsaid. There was nothing said of the terrorist attack by Faust that had decimated the Galactic Senate and left the Galactic Alliance in the hands of an interim government that operated by martial law, of the need to rebuild the galaxy’s institutions after decades of war and distrust. The Alliance was in the hands of a former cop--his kind were never good for democratic institutions and rule of law. Its military was headed by an unprosecuted war criminal, a beast of a man who had executed prisoners of war and knowingly ravaged Coruscant with the wreck of a crippled Super Star Destroyer. As far as Sophia was concerned, there wasn’t any crime that Slaughter wasn’t capable of committing. As for the Imperial Remnant… even though it wasn’t dominated by a lot of As for the Imperial Remnant… even though it wasn't dominated by a lot of omnicidal, overprivileged Sith megalomaniacs and misogynist, reactionary rapists, it obviously hadn't shed any of its fascist baggage. However, with the Imperial Knights spouting their creepy, holier-than-thou, sanctimonious, pseudotheocratic dogma, it was difficult to say what extremes the Imperial Remnant would descend to in order to preserve their security. And where were the Jedi? With the galaxy’s governments abandoning their principles for the comforting, soporific embrace of fascism or outright criminal empires, where was the one institution that had pledged itself to protecting representative government? Millions of people--perhaps billions--were going to die soon. Billions more would be caught in the clash of these titans, unable to do anything but hope that their war machines would overlook their worlds and their homes. Did none of these sapients have any sense of history--that they were simply fighting the same wars that had ended barely a few years ago? Did none of these people have any sense of shame? Nothing was going to get accomplished by continuing to get drunk and brooding over the mistakes of the galaxy’s authorities, she decided. She needed to sober up--she needed to travel, and to get to work. Sophia slid away the mug of cheap red wine with her fingertips and tugged at the sleeve of the bartender the next awaited he passed by on his cleanup duties. “Special request: double-shot of stimcaf, two eggs, and a large helping of coconut water in a blender.” An expression of horror twisted the bartender’s face. “Yes, it’s disgusting, but it works miracles. That osik got me through uni.” Only a minute later later, the foul concoction arrived and the bartender watched with a mixture of fascination and disgust as the historian held her nose and downed the bitter, viscous slurry in a single gulp. It was beyond repulsive--Sophia fought the reflex to gag as she downed the bolus--but this occasion called for a hangover preventative. A long week of research awaited. She tossed down two more mugs of water to wash away the foul aftertaste of the hangover preventative and retreated from the bar, fingers tapping sharply into her datapad. The Imperial fleet might be deploying to Kashyyyk or Bespin or some other strategically-important location, but Sophia wasn’t formally embedded with any military unit. The only items that she would be leaving on the Imperial fleet were a change of clothes and a few scraps of flimsi--nothing that couldn’t be easily replaced. Sophia needed to pay a visit to a few friends she had in Coruscant’s academics, but after that, she would be returning to Carida.
  15. “Well, archivist working for the Jedi Order. The Force is weak with this one. But the Jedi--Draygo especially--appreciated someone that could sift through mounds of data and produce a recommendation that could be acted on.” She gulped from the glass of water, all the better to return to her poison of choice. Her datapad chimed again to announce that yet another deadline was passing by. She twisted her wrist to glance at the screen of the device. “And that… was my publisher voicing their annoyance at me missing another deadline. I’ve been trying to put the finishing touches on a manuscript on this weird period of the Jedi Order when this junior Knight--Relmis was his name--managed to take command of the entire Order… but… something’s missing. Been driving me nuts.” That something that was missing was an almost complete absence of witnesses to the attack on Kamino and the other ruinous offensives that the pretender had launched. Trevelian had been at Kamino, though the Grandmaster was notably reluctant to divulge any details on that particular battle. An obvious place to look for the Imperial perspective were the military records on Cardia, even if the historian hadn’t managed to negotiate access to what was undoubtedly highly classified data. Although, if one of their officers was casually announcing that he was a product of a genetic engineering program to create an ultimate soldier, perhaps the Empire’s policies towards data security were somewhat permissive. “And Slaughter--no, he wasn’t even in the Republic fleet at the time. That was…” Sophia’s attention, somewhat addled by the influence of two generous pours of tihaar, shifted over to the performer. The genre of music that Wolfstar was performing wasn’t exactly her preference, but the chorus of the second song was obnoxiously catchy and she found it difficult to pass up what seemed an invitation to sing along with the chorus. She glanced from side to side, then shrugged and set down her glass, voice ringing out in a clear but unpracticed alto as she swayed to the rhythm. Having only heard the song previously from passing airspeeders and obnoxious teenagers playing their music in public, she stumbled over the lyrics a few times. “Let go of all your troubles Be free of your mind and let it go And… lal la la la, my friend If you keep on listenin’ 'til the end La la la lala lalaa There’s nothin' like… la la? La la la lala lalaa So why not sing along with us?” Sophia had forgotten the final refrain of the song and turned to the bar as the final few “la la la’s” blasted from the stage. A fresh glass of water and another pour of the potent Mandalorian liquor waited were waiting for her, having been delivered while she was embarrassing herself. “So what happens now?" She asked quietly, as though thinking aloud. "Fleets rendezvous, start drilling together… and the war starts up again?”
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