* Format has been fixed for the new boards, so older posts are not truncated if anyone wants to start reading. Title: Shark Kibble: The Datapad of Student ISBTECH 815761 Author: Kahara Timeframe: Beyond the Saga, starting 21 ABY Characters: OC’s (Lydia Shelvay, Inder Barrett, Xenon Bramer, Tamir Zelenus, Aika Lesedi, Jarl Ombyrne, various), minor canon characters (Elena and Corwin Shelvay, Antinnis Tremayne, various) Genre: Diary Challenge, General, Adventure, Imperials with Personalities, Non-Jedi who Do Stuff that Matters, Jedi who Got Over Themselves Already (I’m looking at you, Caedus), Mysterious Things Happening, Excessive Worldbuilding with Obscure EU Trivia, It’s Not a Family Reunion If Nobody Loses a Limb, Where Is the Plot Going and Why Are We in this Handbasket? Keywords: EU, OC Summary: This is a diary told from the viewpoint of Lydia Shelvay, a young woman from one of the most obscure of the scattered Outer Rim backwaters of the Imperial Remnant. She seeks to join the Second Imperium as a technician for their growing intelligence organization, but her journey to the last warlike holdouts of the Empire leads to some uncomfortable discoveries. Not the least of which regards the presence of unsuspected objects of much too centipede-like origin in her brain. Worse yet, she finds that some of the mysteries of her new world are inextricably linked to her family’s troubled secret history. And don’t even get her started on the thing with the sharks… Notes: This was inspired by the Dear Diary Challenge in the Resource Forum, though the character whose viewpoint I decided to write has been in my writing files for a while now. The story is centered on original characters and non-major canon characters, since all of my plot bunnies seem to gallop off in that direction sooner or later. If you recognize them, they’re not mine. If you don’t, they may still be from canonical Star Wars sources. This is what comes of too many hours browsing Wookieepedia. Since her character is fairly obscure and only appears in one source, I wanted to make a note that Elena Shelvay comes from the Star Wars RPG book Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim, written by Simon Smith and Eric S. Trautmann. She’s not an OC, just relatively unknown. The calendar system Lydia uses for her entries is based on that of the Galactic Empire, which I am assuming members of the Imperial Remnant continued to use. Since there don't seem to be any sources on exactly how dates were written by the Imperials, I've made it up. Year dates are given in BE (Before Empire) and AE (after the formation of the Empire.) 40 AE is equivalent to 21 years after the Battle of Yavin. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ This datapad belongs to Lydia Shelvay, soon to be Student ISBTECH 815761 at the University of Karkaryss. If found, please return to the lost and found at the students’ quarters on campus. Or not, since I’m not much of a diary person. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 40 AE, Month 1, Day 15 After searching through the small pack full of random odds and ends I threw together at 4:00 in the morning, I found this half-busted old datapad and decided to start a journal. I can’t say there was any planning behind bringing this thing along, given that I packed all the essentials yesterday morning. The only real reason for gathering random junk was that I couldn’t sleep and needed something to do. There was little point in trying to go back to sleep, since the kelele birds and squarriks were making a prize-winning racket outside the window. It’s like they knew this was their last chance to inflict insomnia on me. I spent hours laying awake and listening to the early morning creatures crow, shriek, and warble away, knowing that I was going to miss even this. Shullia has been my homeworld since I was a baby, though I was born on the SSD Imperishable. Long story short, having the Rebellion blow up a vital chunk of the government that one worked for tends to alter one’s plans for maternity leave. Mum was lucky enough to have a true friend in Captain Tancred, who made sure that she and I were safely deposited planetside in an Imperial-friendly system. Since she worked for the ISB before everything went to the Ninth Circle in a handbasket, it wasn’t exactly possible for her to settle down in New Republic territory with a brand-new kid. Elena Shelvay was not as notorious of a name as Ysanne Isard, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have enemies among the Rebels. I don’t know if she missed being near the center of civilization while we were living out here. There was always work for her to do, since Shullia is pretty much in the middle of one of the last scattered Outer Rim territories that are still Imperial. She was an agent of all trades, dealing with everything from arranging food production contracts with the Deep Core to keeping the New Republic’s nose out of classified business (not that there’s ever been a lot of that on Shullia.) Maybe it wasn’t what she always wanted out of life, and it’s kind of strange to think about that, but I know she loved this planet. She’d take me out on long walks through the blue-green fields of nisu grain and into the wooded hill country nearby. Out there, she always seemed different. Not as though she were another person, but more relaxed and happy. Where she was always vigilant and diplomatic around other people, when we were out among the trees that constant mask of perfection disappeared. She smiled more and laughed like most people laugh, embarrassing unpredictable snorts and all. You’d never catch her sounding like that in public, where she was always pleasant but cool and controlled. Any time I had a question about the living things of the fields and forests, she had some kind of an answer. Mum grew up on Galtea, which is a long way from Shullia, but it was a farm world and she learned all about the plants and animals that lived there. She was the one who showed me how to find slitherbugs and other creepy-crawlies under rocks and rotting logs (a choice she may have come to regret a few times, since it took a while for me to learn to leave things where I found them.) Of course, she never let me forget the time I discovered the drakemoths when I was six years old. In my defense, they’re not exactly your standard backyard bugs. Anything that looks that much like a miniature gundark with wings is a bit startling to find inside a flower. It wasn’t so much my being surprised by a weird-looking creature, or even my letting out an undignified yelp, but the fact that I managed to backpedal through a patch of slimy marshweeds and land in the mud among a colony of frogs would be immortalized in story to visitors for years. Mum came over quickly to check on me, helping me back to my feet and picking the last few persistent frogs out of my hair. After the usual litany of “are you hurt” and so on, she guided me over to a mossy rock and sat beside me. I was undoubtedly a tearstreaked, runny-nosed mess by this point. She wrapped her arm around my shoulders and waited. Even if Mum did tell other parts of the story over and over, she never mentioned that bit of it. When I had calmed down, she asked me, “So, what happened there? You sounded scared, but all I could see was that you tripped and fell backward.” Though I now think she must have been a little amused at my bedraggled and be-frogged state, her inflection was as serious as if she were discussing trade routes with an ambassador. “The flower had a big bug thing in it. Like a spider and a lizard, and a butterfly, and a bee, and a… I dunno. It was weird-looking.” I traced patterns in the moss, trying to put my thoughts together. “Don’t know, not dunno, Lydia”, she said automatically. Six-year-old grammar was one of the banes of Mum’s existence back then. She leaned over to see my moss art, adding a cartoonish kelele bird to edge of the tree I’d sketched. I could tell what kind it was supposed to be, because no other bird on Shullia has such a ridiculously-long and strangely-shaped tail. “Can you show me where you found the bug?” Short stubby wings were added to the bird. I didn’t really want to see that creature again, but I nodded and led her over to a patch of yellow-orange flowers. “It was in the flower.” I chewed on my lip a little. “It kinda looked like the Molator from the story holos at the library.” “You know those give you nightmares.” She sighed the sigh of a woman who had fought a long-running, losing battle against my need to scare myself silly. “If you didn’t read those things you wouldn’t be seeing terentateks and glooths in the shrubbery.” Mum crouched down by one of the flowers, carefully brushing the petals aside with a stick. “Hmm.” It sounded like an I-told-you-so sort of “hmm.” A slight crooked smile crept onto her face. She withdrew the stick, drawing out a creature just like the one I had seen before. It crawled up and down, fluttering its green-striped wings in the late afternoon light. Having had some warning this time, I was more disgusted and intrigued than afraid. I moved closer to look at the insect. “It won’t sting you?” Suspiciously, I pointed at the creature’s wasp-like tail. “Not at all, but you have to be very careful not to touch it’s wings. They are fragile and the bug can’t fly if its wings are hurt.” She gradually tipped the insect into her hand, letting it walk off the stick and into her palm. “This is a drakemoth, Lydia. We had these on Galtea, too. Not the same exact kind, but many animals from different planets are related.” My eyes were fixed on the insect’s shimmering exoskeleton. Mum seemed totally oblivious to the creepiness of its appearance. “They look like they do because it makes the predators afraid to eat them. There’s another type of animal that looks a little bit like this, but it could actually hurt you. We called that kind a mothdrake, since it looks more like a moth or butterfly but is actually a venomous lizard. If a mothdrake stings or bites you, the wound will usually swell up and hurt for several days. Drakemoths, on the other hand, are harmless. They look like a mothdrake with an even nastier stinger, but they’re really just a moth. All they eat is nectar. They can’t bite or sting you.” With her other hand, Mum tucked a strand of golden hair back behind her ear. Her deep blue eyes took on a faraway look. “There was a story on Galtea about Flichter the Green Moth and Gath the Dragon-Lizard. Of course, Gath was nowhere near as famous of a fighter as his fire-breathing cousin Pyrrhus of the Stinking Nostrils, nor as great of a tracker and hunter as Umbra the Grayish-Brown. But he was proud and believed himself to be the most handsome and clever of all dragon-lizards. Every morning, he sharpened the scales of his spine ridge with a stone from the river and dipped his claws in muckweed to make them just the right shade of yellow-green…” I curled up as best I could beside her, my worries more or less forgotten. It wasn’t very often that Mum told the stories of her homeland, but I had always loved them. The animal characters, magicians, and forever-quarreling trees of Galtean folklore never failed to captivate my imagination. The Shullian countryside seemed to bring the stories out of her without the tension that usually accompanied mentions of her old home. By the time the afternoon was fading, I was able to hold the drakemoth in my hand without fear, marveling at the soft tickling sensation of its tiny feet on my skin. Mum and I made it back home by the riverside trail just as the last of the sunset light disappeared, and I nearly fell asleep on the couch before muddy clothing could be exchanged for dry pajamas. Even if the frogs in my hair were embarrassing, if we’re being honest, that was as close to a perfect day as I could imagine at that age. I miss her and I’m not going to stop living in the past unless I can get away from Shullia. For the last two years, I’ve been trying to go back to a “normal life.” Zain took care of me for the first few weeks, and I’ve been staying with our Grannan neighbors, the Meurics (they always have room for one more, so long as you don’t mind farm work and a plentitude of toddlers running around.) My friends are going to miss me, I know that. Going to Karkaryss is something I need to do now, while I have the chance. Having a family friend in Captain Tancred, who was able to deal with the bureaucratic mess in order to allow my attendance at the University of Karkaryss, provided the impetus for me to get moving. The university is in the Deep Core. It’s one of the few top-notch educational facilities left to what the New Republic people call the “Imperial Remnant.” If there is one thing that the invasion two years ago should have taught us, it is that we need to be able to defend our world. Shullia is located in a supposedly obscure and insignificant region bordering the Parmic sector, largely surrounded by New Republic territory. That doesn’t mean that we are safe from the many threats that are allowed to run wild on the Outer Rim, as we should have realized sooner. All it took was a pirate fleet (and not even an especially big one) to almost bring the whole Neredda system to its knees. If my mother hadn’t been there, if she hadn’t had the training from her days with the Imperial Security Bureau, we’d probably all be enslaved or dead by now. And I guess I take it personally, because there was no fleet of Star Destroyers and definitely no help from the New Republic when we came under fire. All we had was a shoddy local defense fleet and an ex-ISB agent who knew her stuff. Maybe I’m biased, but I tend to think the latter was more important in the end. Trying to fight off Vastag Slone’s pirates with a brute force attack would never have worked. It was Mum who knew how to organize a local resistance to drive back the pirates, and she was the one who led a team to infiltrate and destroy Slone’s fleet. Every time I go over these events, I keep trying to find some way, some strategy that would have placed her somewhere else and had everything turn out all right. It wouldn’t change anything now, though, and that road leads nowhere. The one thing that I can’t ignore is that the Neredda system’s victory was largely due to one person. And she’s gone, and there’s nothing left at home that doesn’t remind me of her. So I’m recording all of this on an ancient datapad in the cramped quarters of a Sigma-class shuttle that has seen much better days. We’re talking about days when the Max Rebo Band was music for people under forty. The shuttle is a bit scratched-up and worn out, though it’s still spaceworthy – I hope so, anyway. I’m not sure I like recording all of my thoughts like this. It reminds me of why I’m leaving Shullia so far behind, instead of taking up farming like a sane person. Still, it’s not like there is a lot else to do here. Most of the ship has been modified to be used for cargo, so there aren’t many other passengers. The main pastimes of the last several hours have been reading, sleeping, and reading some more. Before I left home, my friend Vera told me I was going to her ultimate nightmare, a planet full of almost nothing but shark-infested waters. That isn’t exactly true. Karkaryss has a number of island mountain ranges. In the past couple of decades, its cities have been expanded to hover over the water on a combination of repulsorlifts and anchored frameworks. The Second Imperium has invested a lot of money into making it a technological center and they’ve done a decent job too, according to Captain Tancred. There are sharks, but by this point I’m looking forward to them.