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The next several hours faded in and out of Sophia’s conscious memory. She remembered setting a timer to alert her to the Machine’s reversion to realspace–and then her memory blanked until she was being grabbed by one of her passengers–one of Dinsa’s parents, a Duros, who was driven almost to incoherence by the complex mixture of emotions unique to a parent who was terrified for their child’s safety and enraged by a perceived slight in customer service. The historian had no recollection, but a red mist had descended on her vision and she shoved the alien’s hands off of her shoulders, and proceeded to step uncomfortably close to the mother.


“I don’t think you understand, but I just took you and your family through hell. They’re shelling Nar Shaddaa. No targets, just people, millions of people. So I’m sorry,” she began to step forward, driving the Duros into the wall of the common room. “If the ride got a bit bumpy, but those psychopaths are just killing people there so you are very fracking welcome okay?” Sophia finished breathlessly.


She remembered the tears in her eyes and that she mumbled an apology before retreating to her quarters.


The next event that Sophia remembered was sitting on the floor in her quarters, her hands holding a fake Mandalorian-style helmet down onto her head as though shoving the plastoid shell down would protect her head from the migraine-like pounding. It didn’t help. 


A muted buzzing resonated within the little room–that was the realspace reversion alert. She must have fallen asleep. Amazing, that she could have fallen asleep while millions of people were dying to planetary bombardment and everyone that she cared about was fighting for their lives. A wave of nausea began to bubble up from her stomach. That provided the necessary motivation for Sophia to push away the helmet and leave her room, even if that was just to rush for the refresher.


She next regained conscious memory during the descent through Ylesia. It was a familiar planet to her; humid climate, turbulent and unpredictable weather, a day-night cycle that left that body’s internal clock frustrated and melancholy within a week. Emphasis on the turbulent, unpredictable weather, with an unexpected surprise of gravity that was just a little bit higher than what most spacers were prepared for. In some dim, conscious part of her mind, she reflected that seeing the blinking lights of hazard spot-lumas and the spaceports must have awoken her mind from its trauma-induced daze. Yes, it was probably trauma, she told herself, along with a healthy lack of sleep, caffeination, and fresh food. It would be a landing by instrumentation only.


Sophia reached towards her right side and found a stubby mug of tea that she had abandoned before the jump from Nar Shaddaa. The historian blinked and glanced down upon feeling steam. It was fresh–and she was almost certain that it wasn’t her that had brewed it. There were even a couple of biscuits beside it.


“Thank you!” She called out towards the passenger compartments.


The landing was routine by Ylesian standards–that was to say, a spontaneously-developing storm cell required a diversion and another fifteen minutes circling a landing pad, all the while nervously watching the anemometer and the fuel gauge. But Machine eventually settled, without even suffering any damage from a final insulting Ylesian cross-wind and Sophia’s exhaustion-induced hesitation.


She didn’t remember wishing her passengers farewell. She was… fairly certain that most of them were grateful to have reached safety, even if Sophia had some recollection of the stench of alien effluent. She might have even been hugged by a couple of them–a dull ache at her lower back suggested that little Dinsa had probably jumped right into her arms for an overly-enthusiastic tackling hug. None of them had attempted to stiff her or even negotiate down their fare, which was… a pleasant surprise, considering the acrobatics.


And then Sophia sat on the boarding ramp, looking slightly dazed and staring into the middle distance, periodically pushing her hair out of her face. She wasn’t entirely sure what to do next.


Her head was still pounding.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Womp. Womp. Womp.


The floor crunched under Sophia’s back as though a beast of prodigious size was stomping towards her. The historian stirred in her sleep; she was exhausted. Forty-plus hours of constant activity had crept up on her, and she had reached a degree of fatigue that no amount of caf, no primordial giants jumping up and down on her ceiling could awake her from.








The crumping sound of explosions was growing closer. A shiver coursed down Sophia’s spine. That last one had been very close. Her eyes shot awake and stared at a ceiling made of books.




And then little Dinsa, the Duros child that had sat next to Sophia during the flight from Nar Shaddaa, screamed in her ear. It wasn’t a happy scream of delight mixed with giggles, or even an incoherent gasp of startlement: it was the blood-curdling scream of pure terror, of someone confronted with danger so gargantuan that all they could do was stand, stare, and scream at their encroaching doom. That sent the historian straight past the grogginess of being awoken from her nap and into an adrenaline-fueled rush that launched her from the bed and onto the floor in a single spin and full-body leap. It was almost graceful.


And then she hit the floor.


Sophia stumbled and fell into a floor that seemed comprised almost entirely of saucers and half-empty mugs of caf. She pushed off the floor, smooshing her hand into the creamy stickiness of a cinnamon bun, and turned to collect the Duros girl into her arms. Dinsa was shaking like a malfunctioning repulsorlift array–seemed ready to shove off and take her chances on her own. Wading through the ankle-high tide of cold caf and soggy pastries, the historian made her way towards her bedroom door, yanked it open hard enough to leave a dent in the wall… revealing…


Another wall. This one, being made of books. And datapads. And a couple of holocrons. And a few of the more esoteric forms of media storage that a small number of species had invented. Sophia recognized a few of them as texts that she had been forced to memorize during her doctorate–a couple of encyclopedias… there was even a copy of her infamous biography of Admiral Bruce Slaughter in that wall.


“Hold on, love, arms around my neck. Good, like that.” Sophia adjusted the child onto her hip and tucked her shoulder in preparation of a charge. “Sophia… smash!


Charging forwards, she plowed through that puny wall and burst through, scattering manuscripts and books and leaving a path of literary devastation in her wake. Sophia almost slipped on one of the fallen books–she glanced down and saw the sultry cover of a volume of bodacious girl-smut–but she managed to regain her balance and avoid falling flat on top of the illustrated form of a sensuously-reclining Twi’lek.


“Alright, I’ve got you. Hold… oh.”


In the living room of her apartment, gazing out the window towards the view of Coruscant’s lower-Upper Levels, was a woman dressed in oversized Jedi robes. She was not an attractive woman, not in conventional terms. Handsome might have been the word best used to describe the woman. She was tall, with raven-black hair that was so streaked with gray that it gave the impression of a cascade of pepper. Her eyes were of a piercing, almost metallic light-green that made Sophia hesitant to exchange eye contact. The lines of her face–the hardness of her cheeks and bloom of scars that spread across her face like the veins of a delicate plant–the set of her shoulders–the power in her legs and back and the way she stared down the approaching shockwaves as though they were an opponent that could be fought and beaten… all of those gave Sophia a reminiscence of an enormous bird-of-prey.


“It helps to try and block it out. The screaming, I mean.” Armiena Draygo turned towards Sophia and smiled–or twisted her lips in a movement that approximated a smile. “You have to try and block it out, keep focused on the big picture. You can’t stop… all of this, but you might be able to help in the oncoming disaster. You’ll need to let go of that girl first. Her fate is out of your hands.”


Sophia took a half-step away, placing her shoulder and torso between the Duros child and the Jedi Grandmaster. Something hit the window and bounced off. The historian startled and watched as an old Imperial TIE Fighter shrieked away into the city-scape, one-winged and on fire.


Beyond that was the sight of a dying city. The sky blazed red-orange in a violent sunset that roiled with nuclear blasts. Far into the distance, the curves of a modern, post-GA tower crumbled and sank into a cloud of dust and debris that was quickly approaching the two women.


“I understand that it’s horrible. But you need to stop being… selfish. You’ve been lying to everyone about what you are, what you can do–lying to everyone, especially yourself. You need to let go of that–f–


What Armiena was about to say, Sophia never found out. Another nuclear blast landed closer to the apartment, almost directly in the middle of that wave of debris cast by the death of the nearby tower. Cast upwards by the blast, spikes of molten glass and steel pierced through the window–Sophia turned and fell over Dinsa, as though her frail body could somehow protect the child from the doom of a nuclear holocaust–




“Frack!” Sophia startled awake and threw away the helmet of her Mandalorian-style armor. The plastoid bounced as it hit the ceiling, wall, and rolled about on the floor, hollow and light against the durasteel plate. For a few seconds, the historian just breathed. She was soaked in cold sweat.


Oddly, she didn’t feel nauseous.


Sophia crossed the short distance from her stateroom to the refresher, stripping sweat-soaked clothing along the way. When she finally emerged from the sonic shower and splashed cold water into her face, she stared herself in the mirror for a few seconds and nodded.


“Yep. Back to Nar Shaddaa it is. This is going to suck.”


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((For @Trill Scout Squadron))


Ten minutes and a mug of caf later, Sophia had returned to the cockpit and was busy harassing the Ylesian air traffic controllers. Most unhelpfully in this time of war, the Rebel Alliance had replaced the civilian staff with their own military controllers. Aside from clearly having a poor opinion of civilian freight, the military structure seemed to operate on an alien set of navigational rules that prioritized keeping shipping lanes as empty as possible above… all else.


Pacing from the cockpit to the common room and back again, Sophia stabbed the air with the tip of a half-eaten slice of flatbread. A drop of grease oozed from the indentation that her teeth had made in the crust and fell to the deck.


“What in the…” Sophia swallowed hard and thought better of cursing out a military officer who could easily terminate the conversation without any threat of accountability. “Ma’am, this is not according to regulation. Codes of Navigation section nine-point-three and subsequent clearly state that independently-operating freight may employ themselves in contracts with traveling refugee populations by their own means, and that their movements–”


“--Are similarly subject to the same requirements of conflicting military operations, Captain Moriarty. The Y’Toub system and all spacelanes between it, the Cha Raaba system, and any nearby systems are currently within a military exclusion zone. Civilian traffic is forbidden for the foreseeable future. This is for your own safety. Good day.”


In hindsight, Sophia supposed that she should have considered herself fortunate for even being extended that minor courtesy, but that that moment and in that silence, the historian just glared at the controls and proceeded to devour the slice of flatbread. And then she obliterated a biscuit that had been leftover from yesterday and a lukewarm cup of caf. It was rage-eating, the kind of wrathful consumption that scattered crumbs in terror and sent drops of caf fleeing for the hills–that is to say, about half of it wound up on the collar of her jacket, the floor, and everywhere except its intended target.


Had Sophia been of sound mind, she would have taken her medicine and gone to do something potentially lucrative. Hauling bacta or proton torpedoes or even rations would have been a perfectly sound alternative to risking her own neck for nothing but wounded pride. However…


Give her regulations, that schutta. There were lives to be saved,  post-trauma fever-dreams to be defied.


The historian plopped herself into the pilot’s seat and curled around her datapad. She began to type furiously, with the kind of productivity that was born out of late-night deadlines and anger. Anger, despite anything that the Jedi might espouse, was quite a productive emotion–possibly the most productive emotion that could be conjured by the human mind. It allowed a human mind to endure pain, exhaustion, indignity–it could inspire sapients to throw themselves on the weapons of their oppressors and fell empires… or at least individual ministers.


It certainly inspired Sophia to break through the layers of encryption surrounding the Rebel Alliance’s air traffic control systems with all the frantic activity and subtlety of the many-tentacled vaapad of Mon Calamari. While that grim determination resulted in the Machine being redesignated as a military contractor, authorized to transport munitions and even more colorful cargos into conflict zones, it also tripped a few security tripwires with the enthusiasm of that mythical beast dragging a ship into the depths Much like that great beast, Sophia barely took notice of the electronic havoc that she had wrought, and happily set off to the real work of her profession.


Within a few hours, a short conga line of trauma medicines and anti-radiologics were being loaded into the VCX-100 light freighter, with its proprietor happily guiding the loading droids through the cargo hold. Happily, and obliviously, for the vaapad that had plowed through several layers of military encryption had forgotten that the passengers left bobbing amidst the flotsam probably had harpoons at their disposal…


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  • 2 weeks later...

((For @Trill Scout Squadron))


If any of the scout troopers had been on safari or had any experience hunting big game, they would have recognized the expression on Doctor Moriarty’s face as it snapped towards the four soldiers. Her face drained of color and her right hand froze in the middle of guiding a hovering loading droid towards one of the boxy habitation units that was affixed on the keel of her freighter. Her jaw had dropped open and her eyes snapped open and darted between all of the blaster barrels that were pointing in her direction. The number of weapons trained on her was wholly discouraging and far greater than her usual experience–to be more precise, exactly zero.


The expression was that of a Naboo ikopi staring into the headlights of a low-flying airspeeder, trying to determine whether the approaching vehicle was a predator and which way to run. Coincidentally, the sound that escaped from her lips–a pathetic sort of strangled whimper–was almost exactly the kind of cry that an ikopi made when it finally decided to flee, only much more quiet.


“Eh? Ehhhh?” Her hands instinctively went clear of her hips, never mind the fact that she had left her blaster on board Machine. The most lethal item on her person was her datapad, and that was clearly visible on a wrist mount. She swallowed heavily.

“I… I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Acutely aware of the firepower trained on her person, Sophia quickly followed up with more self-preserving babbling. “I mean, this, uh, this task you’re alluding to. I’m just trying to get back to Nar Shaddaa to try and… help.”

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It was all a bit overwhelming. Whenever Moriarty was sufficiently provoked to voice a protest to one of the soldiers, another was there to provide back-up in the form of yet another accusation. By the point that the soldiers were beginning to walk their speeder bikes, she was about to demand to know exactly how stupid they believed her to be. Did they really believe her to be so staggeringly brainless that she would have raided the stocks of the Rebel Alliance and filled her hold with pilfered medical supplies? Well…. She had. A little. Most the medicines and rations were legally obtained–even the ryll and bacta were legally traded–but the anti-radiation chelators were… less-than-legally obtained. 


But those were relatively inexpensive. They were just very difficult to locate on civilian markets.


Before she voice that protestation, another of the soldiers had approached her from behind, tapped her on the shoulder, and shook her hand as gently as the plastoid gauntlets would allow. “Charmed, under these circumstances,” she hurriedly replied as she glanced towards the heavy clang of a speeder bike settling into Machine’s cargo hold. “And it’s Doctor Moriarty, please.”


Being reminded of the military hardware reminded Sophia of yet another potential complication that had arisen–and it wasn’t the ambiguous nature of Machine’s registration. Expecting but never quite getting around to cleaning off the dust and buffing the scuff marks from Coruscant, she had left out a counterfeit Mandalorian armor in the hangar. By counterfeit, it was ordinary plastoid that had been molded in a decent facsimile of the infamous warriors’ armor. It couldn’t possibly be missed. It was bright orange, marked with black runes, and it looked like a suit of Mandalorian armor.


It was almost certainly too late to do anything about that now. Her thin face tightened in a cringe at the sight of the loading droids departing her ship with mostly-legally-obtained cargo. Those, she imagined, were almost certainly going to be seized by the Rebel Alliance on forfeiture charges.


“You know what? Fine, finish unloading–do your kriffing jobs. Bet you’ll all have a kriffing restraint bolt on you by the end of the week.” Sophia snarled as she boarded the ship and shoved past a hulking humanoid loading droid. It just glanced downwards towards the gangly biological and issued an electronic moan best described as disappointed.


Once Sophia reached the cockpit and sat down heavily in her seat, she ran her hands over her face and through her dark hair in dismay. When her vision refocused from her palm and onto the control surfaces, she found the helmet of that armor resting on a stack of papers, staring her directly in the eye. By its side were her blaster, her stun baton, and most dangerous of all, a pen. She sighed and keyed the internal comms system.


“I’m ready when you guys are. Whoever you guys are.” Her weary voice paused for a second. “And… uh, when one of you guys get to the cockpit, you’re going to find my blaster. Right side of the control boards, the co-pilot’s station. Please don’t panic when you see it.”


((Go ahead and post our departure, @Trill Scout Squadron))


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