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Saga - PT A Drop in the Bucket [DDC 2020] - Updates Weekly

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mechalich, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Title: A Drop in the Bucket
    Author: Mechalich
    Timeframe: The Clone Wars (22-19 BBY)
    Characters: Rig Nema
    Genre: 2020 Diary Challenge
    Keywords: Jedi, MediCorps, Doctor, Near-Human, Clone Wars, Coruscant Underworld, Police, Bioweapon
    Summary: Jedi Medical Corps Doctor Rig Nema is assigned to a goodwill mission in the Coruscant Underworld as the Clone Wars rage. Unprepared for the nature of the realm below, she must find a path to face challenges that threaten the very heart of the Republic.
    Notes: Rig Nema is the Jedi Doctor who appeared in 'Voices' a single episode of The Clone Wars (S6E11), where she put Master Yoda in a tank. To my knowledge, she is the only member of the Medical Corps to be identified in either continuity. This story will, at least for now, predate that appearance.
     
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  2. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry One – Days after Geonosis, One
    I can’t sleep. Twenty straight hours working, desperately trying to stabilize the wounded, to halt the terrible progressive injuries, and every part of me is exhausted, but sleep won’t come. I can’t meditate either. When I close my eyes all I see is blaster burns and shrapnel punctures; once hale bodies coated in crimson and indigo, twitching feverishly until suddenly still.

    I’ve turned to writing instead. At least this way I can sit down and ease the strain on my feet a little. Perhaps if I vomit enough thoughts onto the page I will find sufficient emptiness to allow sleep. Force send it so.

    War. Such a little word, but what power it holds. The power to change all things, to completely redefine the state of the universe. Yesterday matters were strained, in emergency conditions even, but I still lived in a galaxy at peace. Today that is all gone and everything is broken. The galaxy tears at itself and the Jedi, comrades and friends all, are the first to bleed. I can barely absorb how this has happened. I cannot absorb why.

    Mass casualty shifts are not new to me. I have faced the overwhelming rush of the wounded and dying before, more than once. Tramline accidents, fuel-line failures, building collapses, these things happen at intervals, but though the scope is similar, I find myself upon an entirely different scale. Never have I seen a great mass of wounds of this kind, all deliberately inflicted, the offspring of killing intent. Nor have I, or any other living being, ever encountered a mass of victims comprised of Jedi before.

    Their pain howls in the Force, a raging wound echoing endlessly entwined with my core. It pulsates behind the eyes with every blink. Even here and now, on the opposite side of the temple and with my shift finished, I can still feel it. That wail hurts me and destabilizes my center, but for all the pain it brings I’d rather hear it forever if it would hold back the silence. Pain can be endured, suppressed, but the silence sears supreme. It heralds gaps, holes in the great tapestry of the Order once filled with warm and welcoming glows. So, so many empty spaces. Over one hundred perished on the ochre sands of Geonosis, and despite our efforts to save them, nearly half again as many have expired since. The greatest healing sciences in the Republic, aided by the Force, are not equal to the killing arts of the same. I keep the math from my mind. This is the greatest disaster to befall the order in a thousand years, perhaps far longer.

    Worse, I can imagine only worse to come. After all, this battle has already been declared a great victory. So the official news reports, and the Council has confirmed. If this is victory, what then does defeat bring?

    While I fought, far too feebly, to save those few not beyond our power to assist, messages archived on my terminal. I have paused to read them now, in part. War, it seems, changes everything. That little word has turned Jedi Knights into Generals; placed them at the head of vast armies of clone soldiers that yesterday no one knew existed. Even the Padawans have been drafted as commanders.

    That duty does not await me. Is it shameful to be relieved to learn this? Or perhaps some sort of pre-emptive survivors guilt? I cannot say. All that I know is that the new legislation, formulated by the Chancellor’s office, makes no direct provision for the Service Corps. Whether oversight or deliberate, I remain grateful for this. Perhaps cowardice plays some role in demurring battlefield service, but I possess not the slightest understanding of how to lead soldiers, and it has been years since I ignited my lightsaber outside of training exercises.

    I am sure that someone will find a role for us in this great conflict soon, whether the directions come from the Chancellor or the Council. I confess I could not say what role the AgriCorps might play, but for myself and my fellows in the MediCorps the path seems clear enough. There will be more battles to come, and injuries to heal. Doubtless field hospitals, or something like them, will be established, and they will send us there. I have no desire to repeat the trials of today, but I will face them as they come. That is my role. I can trust the Council to steer a proper course for the rest. Worry fills me at the cost, however. Ours are not idle hands in peacetime. Sent to the battlefield we must leave all other work behind. Lives will be lost and suffering will spread in our absence, it is inevitable.

    How did this happen? Greed motivates corporations, and they measure lives in numbers, not the Force. That their unbounded avarice could lead them to take up arms I can at least derive. They even fight with machines; their casualties are measured in credits rather than blood. But they do not fight alone. Many worlds have joined this Separatist coalition, and they are prepared to give their lives for the cause. Already many Geonosians have perished facing the clones, and surely they will only be the first to face the counterblows of the Republic now that an army has been passed to it. I am familiar with the demographic data, many of these worlds are impoverished or isolated and the Senate has long failed to represent them. Their grievances are real, but how will war help them? Even if they somehow obtain victory they would take possession of a galaxy impoverished and ruined. The Republic may have failed them, but in this they fail themselves.

    The worst news of all is that Count Dooku has betrayed us. He has lost himself to the dark side, there can be no other explanation. This baffles me, I can find not even the slightest edge to tug upon in search of a reason. He was always so collected, so at ease, even when engaged in strenuous argument. His advocacy for a new galactic politics seemed genuine, born of a true vision for change. I always respected him, even as I completely disagreed with his advocacy.

    But the evidence is incontrovertible. Anakin Skywalker endured surgery only one table over from my station. He will live, thank the Force, and lightsabers wounds usually adapt well to prosthetics so in time he should regain full function, but to think that it was Dooku who inflicted such a grievous injury. Nothing makes sense.

    Yesterday everything was simple. Today I see only chaos. Perhaps it was always present and has only now extended its reach.

    What solace I can find comes from the continuance of tasks. War requires healers. They will send me somewhere, surely, but my duty will remain unchanged. The Force placed me upon that path, and however many bends I must endure, I will ever walk it.

    I think maybe I can find sleep now, for a little while.

    Notes
    This entry makes the assumption that Jedi wounded on Geonosis were evacuated to Coruscant. As no medical centers existed in the field at this point, I feel this is a reasonable assumption.

    Rig Nema’s lightsaber is referenced here. She is established as having one, and it is shown on her belt in ‘Voices.’ Sources conflict regarding lightsaber possession by members of the Service Corps, but at least in Nema’s case she was allowed to carry one.
     
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  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh wow! :eek: This is already powerful, weighty stuff. I can only imagine to being a healer in the Clone Wars. Already, Rig's reflections are relatable and understandably heavy. Everything has changed, in unimaginable ways, and it's to healers like Rig who are trying to stem the worst of the damage.

    I already love this so far and can't wait to read more. =D=
     
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  4. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Thanks, though this introductory chapter is probably splashier than most subsequent ones will be. Geonosis was a massive event in terms of scope, with particularly significant shockwaves.

    As a technical note, I've chosen to refer to the character as 'Nema' rather than 'Rig.' There are two reasons. First, she is referred to only as 'Doctor Nema' during "Voices," her first name was only revealed in the end credits. Secondly, and more personally, I think 'Nema' has more impact as an appellation, and 'Rig' calls to mind 'rigger,' a profession that doesn't fit the characterization I have in mind. I will probably create some sort of explanation for why members of Nema's species preferentially use their last names for identification in due course.
     
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  5. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Two – Days after Geonosis, Seven
    A week has passed since Geonosis. The initial chaotic flurry seems to have run its course, and we have begun to settle in to the new grinding reality of conflict. Diagnosis made, the treatment begins, though it promises to be long and painful. It seems the entirety of the Republic faces reorganization in order to prosecute this struggle. The Senate remains fractious, but the Supreme Chancellor’s office has unleashed a storm of new directives and regulations via his emergency authority. It is slightly disturbing to see one man exercise influence to this degree, but I confess that without such unified authority the Republic might be paralyzed in the face of the Separatist threat. So far the Chancellor has not issued any orders to the Council, but there have been a number of strong suggestions. As of this morning it seems his office finally recalled the existence of those of us in the Service Corps.

    Many of my friends are to be dispatched to the front, sent off to serve aboard medical frigates or staff vast medical clearing centers. Over half have been called up in this way, sent to face the endless demands of the war wounded, and I suspect there will be more to come. The overwhelming majority of our ongoing projects have been canceled indefinitely. My medicine adaptation trials are among them. Inevitable I suppose, as the Mid and Outer Rim worlds where testing was intended to begin later this month are now in the hands of the enemy.

    The enemy. Strange, I have already begun to think of so much of the galaxy in that way, defined them apart from me and all I know. Surely most of them desired war no more than I did, but it seems we are now divided. Not until one side has been shattered, all dreams of triumph crushed, shall that gulf be bridged; perhaps not even then.

    No dispatch orders to join the army have come for me. Supposedly this was a medical decision. The army is made up of clones, all based on a single human male genetic template. My specialty is the adaptation of medicines and treatments across species lines, and apparently this was considered a poor match. I do not think the person who made this decision understood that in order to adapt a treatment designed for humans one must first obtain an understanding of human biology, but I find myself without any inclination to contest this decision. The prospect of endlessly operating on men bred in bottles purely to fight holds little appeal, there is something decidedly mechanical about the idea, more maintenance than medicine. Truthfully, identical as they are, the clones will face few problems droids cannot handle faster and with greater precision than living hands could. This may be for the best.

    Despite this, the task that has fallen to me is not one I approach without considerable trepidation. I have been asked to take over a long-standing mission in the Coruscant Underworld, all the way down on level 1314. It seems the Order has for many years tasked one of its members with maintaining a presence there, providing humanitarian aid, keeping watch on criminal syndicates, liaising with the underworld police, and searching out new force sensitives. Traditionally this posting has been staffed by a Jedi Knight, but it seems the demands of the war effort have pushed the responsibility down the chain several steps.

    Truthfully I was surprised this outpost was not entirely abandoned, but Master Rancisis spoke to me himself regarding the importance of this mission. He also appended an additional parameter. It seems that a widespread belief exists that a significant portion of Coruscant’s underworld populace harbors Separatist sympathies. This seems rather ridiculous to me, why would residents of the capital world support those who would happily bombard it to slag? Though I suppose seeds may sprout in the strangest of places, and the population of Coruscant is such that even a tiny proportion represents a large absolute number. There is also the possibility, grim though it is to consider, that a long-term planner like Dooku may have seeded the underworld with sleeper agents in preparation for this conflict.

    I do not like the idea of serving as an informant, even for a good cause. A doctor is meant to preserve confidentiality with her patients. That the Supreme Chancellor has rescinded that legal mandate in the case of ‘treasonous affiliations’ comforts me not. A line of new doctrine does not drive away long-cultivated instinct, nor will I ever acquiesce to viewing my patients as potential enemies. I will not.

    Hopefully it will not matter. The purpose of this mission makes my position clear, and surely no one would be foolish enough to confess such associations to a Jedi, even if only one of the Medical Corps.

    It is said that the underworld hosts an endless diversity of sapient species, some of whom have never been recorded anywhere else in the galaxy; origins lost to time. Even assuming this is moderately exaggerated, I suspect the myriad forms will be more than enough to occupy my attention. I can only hope my presence will be welcomed so many levels down. In my experience doors tend to open for healers, but I worry war will change that. I must seek to prevent isolation from claiming me, for with the Order’s attention consumed by conflict, I do not think there will be much help from above.

    Notes

    Very little is known about the role of the Jedi Service Corps during the Clone Wars. Supposedly they were militarized over time, which makes sense given what happened to the Jedi Order as a whole, but there are no details. It seems reasonable to assume many members of the Medical Corps were directly attached to the GAR in a medical role. I have exempted Nema for my own reasons, though “Voices” establishes that she was on Coruscant for at least a portion of the war.
     
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  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Intense and very thoughtful couple of entires as Jedi Nema contemplates the momentous changes on a professional and personal level as well as still wanting to heal and provide solace litrally and otherwise to her patients, and finding repugnant having to view anyone as an enemy that was at least a neutral or unknown. [face_thinking] It adds a level of suspiciousness and wariness that I can well imagine she finds distressing.
     
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  7. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Three – Days after Geonosis, Eight

    Three thousand, eight hundred, and thirteen levels down. A number in itself bizarrely large and absurdly specific all at once. Its very nature highlights the reality of the descent, the true vastness of the Underworld. I confess that until actually making that journey today I had no true idea of its full extent. To drop through one of the immense vertical portals is to plunge to a depth that on most worlds would require a descent to the ocean floor and beyond. Even granted a priority airspeeder route the actual journey takes almost an hour.

    Despite having been here only a day so far I can tell this is a different world. Truthfully it is not a ‘world’ at all. Everything here is artificial. Air, water, lighting, the ground plating, all of it is synthesized, provided by a massive network of vast industrial machines. The result is not any kind of planetary environment, it is a space station. An impossibly vast construct containing a staggeringly immense population within durasteel confines; that is the underworld. It feels strange, both physically and through the Force. An almost imperceptible sensation that everything is somehow out-of-focus, slightly displaced from the proper order of things, persists. It is as if the sheer size of this synthetic realm somehow distorts physics at the most basic level.

    Then again, perhaps it is just the air quality. My scanner reports that the ambient atmosphere meets Republic minimum standards for habitable spaces, but only just. It also detects numerous trace chemicals of highly obscure origin, many of which have never been properly evaluated for long term impacts in a mixed-sophont population. Then there are the organic compounds, the endless mélange of hormones, secretions, and wastes diffusing out from thousands of different species and only imperfectly filtered. Such endocrine outputs were never meant to mix in this fashion. Subtle neurological impacts are regrettably plausible. I believe I shall have to start practicing my Force-based breathing techniques again.

    I was briefed on the nature of the Order’s facilities here, but I confess it feels even smaller in person. Everything on Coruscant, even the luxurious upper levels, is compact compared to counterparts on worlds with open environments, and no doubt the gradual drop in prosperity alongside the physical drop in elevation induces further compression. Even so, the result is rather more extreme than I anticipated. Not since my years as an initiate have I found myself confined to such a limited space, and I was smaller then. Personal space is limited to a single narrow room, the balance of which is occupied by the narrow bunk. The refresher and food processor unfold from the walls. As does the tiny private terminal, which one must sit on the bed to use. It is all made decently enough, and not outwardly uncomfortable, but I must admit that I expected somewhat more, no matter how un-Jedi-like that might be. I miss the presence of a proper desk already, and I do not look forward to meditating where I sleep.

    The limitations of the workspace are perhaps more worrying. I had hoped for enough room to establish a proper clinic, but it seems that will not be possible. There is a medical station, tucked into the alcove behind the tiny office, but it contains only a single bed and limited diagnostic equipment. A single DD-13 Medical Assistant droid has been crammed in under the stairs opposite. The unit is an older one, with considerable surface wear visible. I’ve never loved the model either, they have cold personas and are overly fond of invasive procedures, but at least I know it’s capabilities. There are both older and less competent designs out there.

    The actual office is only big enough for one on one interviews and lacks a decent terminal or a live holonet connection. I suppose I’ll have to make due with navigating the packet queue. There’s a tiny waiting room for visitors and a small storage space. Available supplies, medical and otherwise, are limited, and I fear the needs of the war will make it difficult to procure replacements.

    I had hoped to meet my predecessor upon arrival, but they had already gone. A pity, they must have known this level well, and had local contacts, knowledge of current leaders, and other information that would have been of great utility. I’ve sent ahead a list of questions, but whether they will find the time or even be authorized to communicate any answers if something I cannot rely upon. It seems I shall have to start as if completely new. If only the official databank regarding this level and its neighbors was not so woefully scant.

    It seems there will not be much time to settle in. I had been present for less than an hour when my very first case arrived. A Twi’lek male, young, suffering from a serious fungal infection. Apparently the local automated droid stations are not programmed to treat this particular malady in Twi’leks. That is not especially surprising, since the fungus in question is native to Champala and normally attacks the attachment points of Chagrian horns. It seems a minor mutation allows it to shift to the cartilage at the base of lekku. Most likely he contracted the affliction by brushing up against a communal refresher not being regularly sterilized.

    Once I convinced Dee-Dee to recognize the diagnosis the actual treatment was a routine sub-dermal application of anti-fungals. The droid handled it without any need for action on my part. Cross-species contamination must run rampant down here. Droids, regrettably, are poorly equipped to handle diagnosis and treatment outside of clearly defined contexts preset in their registries. I have begun a file documenting all such cases I encounter. Hopefully in time I can locate a slicer able to help me develop an update package.


    Notes
    Officially the surface of Coruscant, also referred to as Galactic City, is level 5127. This leads to some rather bizarre questions as to how deep the underworld actually goes. In particular, it is completely unclear how thick any given ‘level’ is supposed to be. Images of the underworld in various sources seem to imply that each level was at least multi-story, due to the presences of buildings of that size and open airspace, with some of them apparently containing skyscrapers (though this may represent areas where levels were conglomerated). This gets a little weird because, if the average level is, for example, 100 meters thick, then the surface of Coruscant would be 500 kilometers above the actual crust, which would make the underworld almost impossibly massive. Even at 10 meters thick on average, the underworld is still 50 kilometers thick. For comparison, if you dug a hole that deep most places on Earth you’d end up running out of crust and being submerged in the mantle. Heck, even if the levels averaged only 1 meter in height, then the underworld would still descend further than the average depth of Earth’s oceans. Honestly, I’m not really sure how to handle this. For now I’m going to go with 10 meters per level and assume many of the more habitable areas conglomerate numerous levels at once.

    The DD-13 medical assistant droid is canonical. It’s the frightening black tripod model that puts Darth Vader together in Revenge of the Sith. It feels like the right sort of medical unit for this particular backdrop.
     
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  8. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Another excellent few updates. =D=

    I really appreciated this reflection - all of her reflections, really, about the Secession Crisis and its further reaching implications. It was one of the most fascinating things about TCW, watching how masterfully Palpatine engineered the conflict in the first place and then seized more and more power over time! In the present, Nema's reflections are really all that are possible to conclude. [face_plain]

    Nema's studies and field of expertise with cross-species medicine are fascinating! I can only imagine how much good she is going to do stationed in Coruscant's lower levels, especially with her background in mind. Still, those few sentences hurt my heart for my dear clone boys all over again. What sad, limited lives they were expected to live and then die for. =((

    I can't blame Nema for this in the slightest! She's right to be concerned. I'm very interested to see how this develops in the future. [face_thinking]

    I LOVED your description of Coruscant's lower levels. =D= It really is boggling, when you think about it, just how massive a planet Coruscant is and just how deep and buried they are - and they're not even all the way down yet! :eek: The claustrophobia, of a sort, and feeling that kind of pressure - both on a physiological level as well as through the Force has to be intense!

    Then, of course her resources are meager when she arrives in proportion to what is truly needed - sadly, RL has trained us to expect no less. But Nema has a big heart and she's determined to persevere. I remain very interested to see how she makes the best of her post and what the Force has in store for her next! =D=
     
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Sheesh, Nema's living and work space is cramped to say the least! :eek: Especially worrying is the lack of amenities and Holonet connectivity for the clinic. [face_worried]
     
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  10. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Many thanks for the replies!

    One of the things I find interesting about using Nema as a character is that while she's both highly educated ('Doctor' implies an actual medical degree, not just being a Jedi Healer) and a Jedi, she's not plugged into the military and political channels in the same way as the Jedi attached to the GAR or the way a Senator like Padme is. So she has this kind of unique perspective on Clone Wars events as they develop. Hopefully the contrast of her viewpoint versus those of certain other underworld residents will show up once they get introduced.

    Not going to lie, I specifically developed her medical background for the express purpose of allowing a maximum amount of interaction with cool aliens and set this story in the underworld because it probably has the highest level of species diversity per cubic meter of any place in the galaxy. Still, it seems like the kind of thing a Jedi Doctor would specialize in, because the Force would allow a massive streamlining of the testing process.

    And yeah, the clones really had it tough. In truth, the Clone Wars as a whole are this massive tragedy in a way that I think often goes unappreciated because most of the portrayals are heroic adventures of great daring and we audience members forget that this has all been staged and the only one who'll ever win is Palpatine. To some extent this story is 'Clone Wars: the Homefront,' so hopefully I'll be able to highlight how the war impacted the civilian population even though they weren't actually called to fight directly.

    One thing I discovered in embarking on this is how little is really known about the economics of the Jedi Order. They're a monastic religious order dropped into what is otherwise a hyper-capitalist society. They obviously have some income from somewhere, because they're able to purchase starfighters and ship their members across the galaxy and so forth, but it's not clear whether individual Jedi draw a salary or have an expense account or what, and the source of this money is opaque. The only reference I can recall that addressed this at all was in Rogue Planet which implied that the Order was funded via philanthropy, but that's hard to swallow. As this story proceeds this element will reoccur.

    As far as cramped living spaces go, I definitely want the underworld to feel closed in, and even though Nema's personal space is small, it is actually her own. She's nowhere near the bottom of that hierarchy. I imagine a lot of people in the underworld are living (or squatting) in super-cramped living spaces in line with the so-called 'coffin homes' of Hong Kong or similar hyper-compressed environments. And TCW makes it fairly clear that there's a significant population that is simply living on the street.
     
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  11. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Four – Days after Geonosis, Nine

    This far down, all lighting is artificial. This should not matter, but it does. Properly designed and deployed, artificial lighting systems are fully capable of delivering illumination indistinguishable from the natural sunlight patterns of essentially any habitable star. On this level, and I suspect most of those within easy reach, this has not occurred. The lighting is strong enough to mimic proper daylight, where no large buildings or obstacles cast nearly permanent shadows, but the metallic walls and duracrete floor sections reflect it poorly. The chosen wavelength is also not a match for the primary of Coruscant or any other hospitable Core World, but instead matches the spectrum of Eriadu’s primary, meaning it was probably manufactured there. I suspect whatever Senate subcommittee or municipal agency was responsible simply picked the lowest bid.

    As a consequence the lighting is shifted away from a standard state comfortable to the majority of the residents. Limited maintenance, illegal coverings, and power diversions further weaken the luminosity. The result is a world that appears strongly yellow-shifted, likely more to my blue-blocking eyes than a human’s, but the effect is surely still present. Everything takes on a vaguely rotten cast, a layer of decay appended to all surfaces embedded within our retinas themselves, inescapable.

    In the face of this environmental malaise I begin to understand why goggles, helmets, masks, and other means to implement a privatized visual and olfactory environment are so prevalent here. Even I have already begun to adopt a version of my own through Jedi breathing and vision techniques. Obscuring barriers to interaction of this nature extend even to law enforcement. The glossy blue police droids with their chipper personalities are not to be seen here, nor are the noble sons who patrol about Galactic City in their dress uniforms. Underworld Police monitor the streets from beneath armored coats and helmets, and even their eyes are obscured by mechanical interfaces. Until you see them move and their musculature reveals their organic origin they appear more like droids than people.

    One of these gray-cloaked representatives has been assigned by the CSF as my contact: Ven Morne, which might be the blandest Coruscanti name I’ve encountered in some time. He kept his helmet on throughout his visit. Truthfully, I found this rather rude. Perhaps he hopes to protect his anonymity. I wanted to tell him that hiding your face does nothing to prevent a Jedi from recognizing you. I might lack the skills of a knight, but a physician learns to differentiate individual presences in the Force all the same. It is essential to our work.

    Morne did not greet my arrival with much enthusiasm. I suspect he was unhappy at the reassignment of my predecessor, who I gather was a fairly talented investigator at home in the rough environment of the underworld. It is rather obvious that this does not represent my strengths and I believe the officer perceptive enough to recognize this rapidly. He also reacted rather distinctly upon first hearing my accent, something only a long-time Coruscanti would notice. It would seem that this far down it telegraphs me as an outsider. I almost wonder if speaking Huttese would be considered more socially acceptable. Not that I would speak such a throat-clenching language willingly, I’ve treated too many cases of vocal cord damage inflicted by that miserable tongue.

    I suspect Morne believes I will prove useless here, and in truth I cannot easily invalidate his assessment. The Underworld might occupy the same planet as Galactic City as a matter of astronomy, but even after a mere two days I can tell that this is a different world. Two linked worlds, certainly, but it is rather like the connection between the deep ocean and the bright surface. Creatures from the depths may swim upwards at night to feed and those from the surface dive deep for the same purpose, but they can only remain for so long. If I am to be of use in this place, both to the Order and the residents, I must find a means to navigate this realm, even if I will never be able to call it home.

    I discussed several matters with Officer Morne, and for I suspect longer than he initially intended. I do not think it my words that held his interest, however, but rather my appearance more likely. I am well aware that my figure and features qualify a quite attractive by most mammalian humanoid standards, and though it may be vanity, I cannot say I do not enjoy a measure of appreciation on that axis. It is really rather flattering, so long as it does not become excessive, though I admit my experience with negotiating such attention is rather limited due to the nature of Jedi life.

    Morne has an oddly optimistic view regarding the war. He cannot conceive of the Republic losing and seems far more interested in the potential benefits this conflict might bring to the lower levels. He seems to think that large scale urban restructuring contracts and major military spending will offer both significant infrastructure upgrades and abundant work to the local residents. I lack his certainty. Perhaps this will happen, but I do not think either the Senate or the Supreme Chancellor view this region as essential to the war effort. Too many Jedi have told me tales of the Senate’s corruption to let me believe that the bulk of the funds will go anywhere other than to their chosen corporate supporters. It seems more likely that whatever privations the war brings to Coruscant, the depths will feel them keenly.

    Regarding the possibility of Separatist sympathizers he was considerably less sanguine. The CSF is quite certain that not only is there widespread sympathy, but that there is an organized network with off-world support dedicated to mobilizing it. It seems there were actually public demonstrations when news broke of the Battle of Geonosis, and not just among those species associated with the major CIS factions. If I judge Morne correctly, these assemblies were quite raucous. By the standards of Galactic City they might well qualify as riots. He fully expects sabotage, and apparently all officers are to be trained in ‘terrorism prevention and mass incident response.’ It would seem the Chancellor’s office shares their opinions.

    Morne seems earnest enough, and dedicated to his duties. Despite this, he gave remarkably perfunctory answers when I tried to ask questions regarding the motives of this pro-Separatist faction and what they could possibly hope to achieve. I don’t think there was any malice behind such limited answers, certainly I sensed nothing of that nature. Instead, I suspect a distinct lack of intellectual curiosity. For someone dedicated to upholding the law in this harsh artificial landscape I suppose withdrawal makes sense as means of insulation, but I know I must fight against such mental accommodation when it comes to my own perspective. If I am to be the Order’s eyes, I must search for truth.

    Having patients will help, I hope. I’ve formulated a schedule of operations to utilize my limited space as a free clinic, subject to any CSF demands upon my hours. With time I should be able to build up a connection to the communities here, and ideally a measure of trust. If I do encounter those who support the Separatists I can only try to convince them to exercise restraint. After all, this Clone War will be decided by great battles in the far reaches of space and on distant industrial planets, not demonstrations in the Underworld.

    Notes

    There’s a bit here about ‘blue-blocking eyes.’ Rig Nema has golden eyes. To me this is suggestive of specialized sunglasses of similar color that block blue wavelengths, so I have incorporated this into her physiology.

    With regard to Ven Morne’s name, I wanted a common name for the character, something that would be suitably generic to provide a sort of ‘Officer Smith’ vibe. Ven is a name that’s been used by at least four characters (five if you count Nawara Ven), two of whom were Clones, while Morne has been used by two characters, one of whom, Eos Morne – a patron in the Outlander Club scene – was Coruscanti.

    Rig Nema’s accent is referenced here. In TCW she was voiced by Catherine Taber, best known for voicing Padme Amidala. Nema has similar cadence and diction to Padme, which makes sense given that they’re both educated women of apparently similar age and build, but Taber distinctly accented Nema’s words to provide her a unique voice. I can’t place the accent myself (I want to say Balkans, but I don’t think it was intended to be representative of any specific culture), but it’s clearly different from other Coruscanti characters. An explanation for how a Jedi, raised in the temple since early childhood, would have acquired an off-world accent, will eventually emerge.

    And, since I made a reference to Nema’s overall appearance here, I should probably add some context for that. Truthfully the nature of the digital animation used to produce TCW doesn’t really allow for the existence of unattractive characters, everyone is fit and in shape just by default. However, the show had a distinct tendency to portray female Jedi characters in distinctive outfits very clearly not traditional Jedi robes. Rig Nema is shown wearing a tight-fitting dress-and-leggings combination that reveals a considerable amount of skin (there's an image on her Wookieepedia page of her standing with four Jedi Masters that clearly displays the contrast). She would absolutely attract amorous attention. Why she has chosen this specific personal costume is something that I hope to eventually address.
     
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  12. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Five – Days after Geonosis, Eleven

    Coruscant’s vast underworld, I am beginning to discover, is itself divided into little worlds of its own. Like the exposed strata of some great canyon wall it can be grouped into layers joined by proximity. Each such layer represents a number of individual levels. Every one of these informal accretions shares a certain identifiable character, a colloquial identity applied to broad clumps rather than individual numbered layers.

    Though these divisions are generally not actually recorded in any official documentation, they seem to be well known. Many are linked to rather stark changes in physical structure. A huge portion of the underworld is comprised of levels devoted wholly to industrial processes where standard organic life cannot survive without advanced hazard equipment. These are perhaps the most obvious, given that all the access points are blazoned with stark warnings and it seems only droids ever mention them. Others, while accommodating life, present significant physiological boundaries. Levels 1371 through 1392 possess an atmosphere tailored to methane-breathing metabolisms that would kill the average oxygen-breather in seconds.

    My current residence, on level 1314, is part of a block from level 1310 to 1335. It is considerably more hospitable to standard humanoid biomechanical processes than many neighboring areas. This is even reflected in the local name for the area, the Bucket. According to Officer Morne, who keeps stopping by despite the lack of any official business, this name refers to being as far down as you’re usually able to go and still return to the surface someday. While many of the levels below are technically habitable and some do support permanent residents, none of them are zoned for residency and the government has fewer eyes and fewer protections available to anyone that far down. The whole bottom 1300 levels are primarily given over to essential industrial processes necessary to keep everyone higher up alive.

    That goes a long way toward explaining the highly concentrated amount of criminal enterprise that seems to practically consume this region. This being as far as you can get from the authority high above on the surface, all the criminal flotsam washes up in the Bucket (I’ve begun to notice this name has all sorts of metaphorical convenience). It would appear that at least one syndicate has influence over almost all local businesses, and the quantities of illegal narcotics just on open display are staggering. I’m fairly certain I saw a deal for a commercial container’s worth of death sticks conducted in broad daylight. Morne claims the police have things under control, but since I was approached by some fool seeking to extort me for kickbacks while he was actually visiting I find that assertion particularly dubious. Especially considering that the youth displayed no fear at all of the police, but sputtered furiously when he realized the little office suite he’d accosted belonged to the Jedi Order. Coming after one of our charities has to be the worst risk/reward calculation imaginable. Even so, I’ve ordered Dee-Dee to keep a strict eye on the medical supply inventory. There’s nothing else worth stealing, and I will not have lifesaving tools taken away to line the pockets of some sneak thief.

    I have begun the process of arranging a routine to my days here by opening the office as a free clinic for ten hours each day. I’ll fill up the remaining hours in time. For now, I’m trying to ease my way through nearby neighborhoods. Thankfully there have been no major distractions yet. Officer Morne thinks the criminals are bidding their time. No one knows what enforcement, and especially punishment, will be like under the new emergency acts and therefore no one wants to go first. He also thinks that, with the war on, some of the smarter class of crime syndicates will transition as much as they can into ethically dubious but technically legal war profiteering. I confess my understanding of the criminal mindset is minimal, but this sounds plausible. At least one sign has been clearly visible, in the form of endless banners showing clones in full battle armor and sporting various political slogans. There is not much variety, yet, and they have not penetrated beyond the major corridors, but it seems no depth is too great for the Chancellor to wave the flag.

    The reception of this white-armored imagery with their identical appearance and perfectly precise marching patterns has been rather cold. Even in human-dominated areas where patriotic symbols are painted on every door there is little pro-clone imagery. Politics aside, my guess is that no one knows what to think regarding this instant army that spilled out of vats in the distant Outer Rim. Confusion reigns. Several patients have questioned me directly in the hopes that a Jedi might have answers not available on the official feeds. If only that were so. Sitting here, I can only stare at the blank screen of my terminal and wish for knowledge of my own. Beyond the basic unknowns like who setup the contract and how in the galaxy the Kaminoans were paid, I simply do not understand why anyone would want to create a clone army in the first place. Certainly there are some efficiencies inherent in utilizing a single biological template, but a lack of diversity comes with vulnerabilities as well.

    More than that, I cannot shake the feeling that it is somehow cruel to produce people solely for the purpose of combat. I’ve reviewed the edited template that the Medical Corps was cleared to examine as part of the development of treatment protocols. The clones have been modified to age at twice normal human speeds, but given extraordinary physical nature of their model, most will still live for forty to fifty years. The war cannot possibly last that long, what happens when it ends? Could the Republic not have built its own droid army if the prospect of conscription was too terrible? I suppose there is probably some strong strategic reason I cannot imagine, I was never any good at military exercises, but the absence of an answer gnaws at me.

    But the clones are not my responsibility now, the inhabitants of this Bucket are. I need to focus on learning all I can about them. Some things have already become clear. This region’s structures were built to accommodate a standard-sized humanoid form, and consequently humanoids overwhelmingly dominate the population. Humans are the most numerous species by a considerable margin, but my initial impression is that they do not constitute an outright majority, a clear deviation from Galactic City. The other species are mostly representatives of the usual mixture found in advanced industrial civilization throughout the galaxy, with Rodians and Twi’leks particularly common. Outside that well-established group there are a few uncommon species that appear regularly enough to be a noticeable presence, Biths and Siniteen most recognizably. I have not yet determined what draws them here. There is also a boundless diversity of rarely seen humanoid species scattered about in pockets.

    Non-humanoid species are relatively rare. The uncompromising built environment no doubt combines with the usual prejudices to dissuade them from residing here. Deviations exist, of course, with two being easy to recognize; Ithorians and Anacondans. Perhaps surprisingly, and in a pattern I have not seen before, these two species appear to partner closely. They form a core component of the Environmental Stability Guild or ESG, the society of workers who devote their lives to maintaining the local environment as a habitable space. Apparently the Ithorians are primarily responsible for atmospheric balance and the Anacondans the hydrological systems.

    Regrettably, the evidence suggests that neither group is doing a particularly good job. My suspicion is that lack of resources is the primarily deficiency, though when I spoke of the subject with Morne he immediately blamed corruption. I confess that is likely a significant issue as well, and there are doubtless other factors involved. Regardless of the cause, the air and water quality here is universally poor. Already I have observed a clear pattern among my patients. Whether bacterial, fungal, parasitic, toxic, or viral in origin, the majority of their ills trace back to chronic exposure to these marginal conditions. Many face illnesses further exacerbated by a lack of key vitamins and trace minerals. Supplements are added to the synthesized feedstock that provides the majority of the calories available on this level, but I suspect the various combinations have not been properly calibrated to match the needs of the many uncommon species living here. The members of these rare populations are already forming a disproportionate segment of my patient pool.

    If I have time I must try to get a closer look at ESG’s procedures. There must be some way to improve the overall quality of the environmental controls. Otherwise nothing will prevent continued suffering.

    Notes

    This entry makes clear the rather literal explanation behind the overall title of the piece. However, it seems to me that this sort of multi-level banding would be common throughout the underworld, leading to a sort of 'nested worlds' construction overall.

    Most of the images of the underworld in TCW involve Ahsoka's brief period as a fugitive there. Those episodes involve a nearly omnipresent police presence, one that keeps her almost continually on the run. However, this has to represent a massive priority deployment, not the background level. I just can't imagine an area that displays such obvious government neglect on the visual level would have a massive police presence, so the police will generally be portrayed as weak and outclassed in this piece, though they may gain resources over time (the Ahsoka episodes are also set much later in the war, after considerable militarization has happened).

    There's some speculation about the clones here, notably the bit where Nema estimates most will live 40-50 years total. This is based on the idea of Jango Fett being some kind of physical freak almost certainly to at least hit 90. The presence of clones in Rebels seems to sort of bear this out, as even clones in their relative 60s appear hale and capable aside from their war injuries.
     
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  13. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Six – Days after Geonosis, Fourteen

    There has been an incident. Incident. Such an anodyne term, one that spreads dishonesty through its innate blandness. No, I will not use it any further, not in these recollections.

    Starting over then. There has been a bombing. Yes, that is the truth, harsh and stark as it must be. It conveys at worst the least implication of the unfolding horrors.

    The bombing is simple enough to describe, frightfully so in truth. The underworld police figured it out quickly, and I have no reason to fault their analysis. The terrorists, unidentified for now, simply added several bottles full of industrial grade explosives alongside empty ones in a box carried by an ASP assigned to pick up used liquor bottles and take them for recycling. The bombers waited until the oblivious labor droid entered a bar primarily frequented by Judicial Department veterans and then triggered the detonation.

    Thankfully the ASP conducted its rounds in the morning, when traffic was light. It would have been much worse on a busy evening. It seems a ridiculous thing to be thankful for, considering the consequences, but I must take whatever blessings I can find for now. Anything to push back against the frigid toll of eight dead, nine seriously wounded. We managed to save eight of them.

    I have learned several things today. I need to record them now, to make certain I remember them. There would be a price to pay should I need a reminder, so I must not allow myself to forget. First among these things is that I was wrong about the terrorist threat. The underworld police were right, the threat is deathly real. The officers are enraged at this attack. They consider the Judicials part of some unspoken brotherhood of lawmen. They intend to extract a price in blood, I can feel it around them. I fear that if they find the ones responsible they will never come before the courts. Two weeks only into this war, and my eyes have opened to such wretched possibilities. Has it dragged us down so far so fast? I do not know. Some part of me, a part that I am not certain I should trust, carries the suspicion that much of this is simply the nature of the underworld, that there have always been debts paid in blood at the bottom of the Bucket. Even so, I never expected to encounter such sentiments spoken aloud on Coruscant.

    Another lesson learned is that I cannot carry with me any expectations regarding emergency services at this depth. The underworld police do have medical droids on staff, and they are decent models, if rather outdated. Some of the officers are also surprisingly skilled at deploying first aid. Yet when I jumped out of the passenger seat of Morne’s speeder I was the only doctor present, and no others arrived subsequently.

    I can say I saved two lives today. Something to hold onto against the hardships and the loss. One by preventing a droid from attempting an extremely high risk neural extraction procedure because it was unaware of the new neural clotting method developed four years ago. The other by conducting experimental field surgery on a green-skinned humanoid who despite an outward appearance at least as close to human baseline as my own had a completely alternative organ positioning. My best way to describe the arrangement was as if the profile of a human-sized aquatic quadruped was displaced into a humanoid frame. Her species, which her retired sector ranger husband told me is named Ellne, was not in my field reference database. He claimed he liberated her from slavery two decades ago out past Rattatak and knew nothing of her true origins. Unfortunately it is rather impossible to ask any questions of a person anesthetized to unconsciousness while a six inch spike of jagged durasteel shrapnel is extracted from their liver. I can only trust to the Force that the drug cocktail I formulated on the fly based on her genetic print has no unforeseen side effects. The next few days will tell.

    The Bucket does have hospitals, something I discovered by riding with the medivac speeder. Technically, I believe that action was outside my jurisdiction, but even here Jedi status carries some privileges. My presence was not questioned. The ride was regrettably lengthy and, due to aged compensators, not particularly smooth. I did what I could to keep the patients stable, but I fear that had we been transporting a case in immediate need the nearly twenty-five minute ride would have overwhelmed anything that could have been done. As for the medcenter itself, it betrayed the expected combination of overburdened and understaffed from the first glance. The rest was merely confirmation. I suspect that my own credentials rate out above any of the doctors on staff, a highly distressing possibility. Medical Corps training is some of the best in the galaxy, of course, and it is common for me to exceed the prestige of peers my own age, but there were those here with several times my career experience. I should not have been in a position to override them.

    Within the confines of that hospital, immersed in a situation where I understood exactly the difference between what ought to be and what was rather than merely intuiting it, struck hard. The measure of it is so much clearer now, the deficiency made manifest. It is very late, but sleep eludes me. And that is in spite of foolishly agreeing to join the underworld police at one of their local haunts while they tried to blunt the damage of the day in the ancient way; with alcohol. Thankfully I indulged only lightly, and retained the presence of mind to leave before the various amorous hints segued into obvious advances. Though I cannot say I was not tempted, a little.

    By the Force! What a thing to think. This has cut deeper than I realized.

    It’s the neglect. That’s the heart of this. I cannot say I was unaware of it, at least intellectually. The medical press is quite good at highlighting points of concentrated misery, and even it was not above criticism of ineffectual Senate activity. I think it is the proximity that strikes hardest. Reorient the artificial gravity and the walk from here to the surface along the side of a portal would not take even a day. On a priority speeder route I could be back in the Jedi Temple in less time than it took to reach that hospital. The scale too, shocks me. I joined several crisis response deployments during my training, landed in the ghostly spaceports and dilapidated industrial colonies far out in the Rim that bear the same uncaring decay, but they were always small, isolated. Never more than a few million people at once. There is no real census of the Underworld, but reasonable estimates suggest that the Bucket alone, twenty-five levels, house almost twenty billion residents. The underworld as a whole has a population exceeding that of many Outer Rim Sectors, and yet though it sits at the center of the galaxy it has been allowed to decay to the very brink.

    No wonder there are Separatist sympathies. If anything, it is surprising it is not much worse. Coruscanti are known for their cynical resignation, and I suspect it may be only that feature of their character that keeps these lower levels from open revolt. Thinking upon it now, the mission Master Rancisis gave to me carries great importance. I have drafted my first summary report to him just now, cautioning the absolute importance of maintaining the flow of resources. I suspect any serious shortage of critical supplies, even of limited duration, could lead to mass riots or perhaps a full-fledged popular uprising. I now understand Officer Morne’s disappointment at losing a Jedi Knight’s support.

    Much as it hurts to acknowledge, it is far beyond my power to change this alone. Instead, I must trust in the Force and do all that I can. No matter how overwhelming, a task can never succeed if it is not begun. If I can earn the trust of the populace then perhaps I can borrow enough strength to catalyze a change.

    Notes
    Separatist bombings on Coruscant are an established feature of the Clone Wars, with varying levels of sophistication. Using a basic labor droid like an ASP as a walking bomb seems like an obvious Separatist tactic (they used specially designed droids of this nature later in the war to disrupt the power grid).

    I have simply made up a population figure for the Bucket that seems reasonable to me. I figure the underworld probably has roughly 1 trillion inhabitants, giving it a total population roughly equal to that of Galactic City on the ‘surface.’ The Bucket’s twenty billion would therefore be about 2% of the total, which makes it fairly high density since it represents only about 0.5% of the total underworld, though no drastically so since a substantial portion of the underworld is functionally uninhabited.
     
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  14. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Seven – Days after Geonosis, Twenty-Six

    The bombings continue, day after day. The level they strike varies, as does the location. Often they are on the other side of the planet. The vastness of the underworld limits their impact. Spread across so much, even a daily bombing is soon reduced to a routine event.

    Officer Morne explained that the basic Separatist bombing technique, loading explosives onto common droids, is almost impossible to prevent. Moreover, the police can only secure high-value targets, the gathering points of everyday life remain vulnerable. At the same time, this indiscriminate method limits the overall loss of life, as does the general use of industrial grade explosives rather than far more potent military munitions.

    The police have caught a few of these terrorists, or at least they have claimed to do so, by carefully tracking the explosives back to the point of sale. All identified parties so far have belonged to species strongly associated with the Separatists, mostly Koorivar. This seems rather convenient, but I suppose we will have to wait on the courts to learn more.

    Thrice more I have joined the emergency response to these heinous bombings. Two were relatively close by, but the most recent call was sent out from thousands of klicks to the north. The medical technicians needed assistance trying to treat members of a species called the Kiamkik, curious sophonts that resemble a gunmetal-gray fox flattened and stretched out. They kept having seizures when the droids attempted to remove shrapnel from their skin. The actual issue turned out to be specialized charge-accumulating cells in their blood. These reacted to any contact with even the slightest conductive surface, causing neural disruption upon discharge. We were able to work around the process by swapping out the usual instruments with highly insulated plastoid variants.

    This represents my first accomplishment on this assignment directly traceable to my Medical Corps status. All the diagnostic equipment available to both the local hospital and myself failed to find the connection, but the Force was able to guide me where I needed to see. It seemed word of my expertise has begun to spread through the Bucket. I imagine that these indiscriminate bombings will inflict their suffering on further exotic species and I shall be requested again. I can only hope that I will continue to discern the insights of the Force with equal efficacy.

    The networks of the underworld are mostly informal and convoluted, but it seems word travels swiftly along whatever channels there may be. My office has begun to receive a steady flow of non-human patients. Most are still members of common species – humanoids sporting additional head appendages seem to be particularly vulnerable to infection by airborne fungus – but some are truly unusual. Most of these are not total unknowns like the Ellne. The Jedi Archives contain legitimate entries describing their biology and culture and they are tied to long-standing population clusters scattered here and there across the underworld. Instead, they share a specific empty space in their species profiles where the coordinates, and often names, of their homeworlds belong.

    Curious as to this pattern, I asked the archivists if they had an explanation. Master Tera Sinube replied that the most likely reason is warfare. The great conflicts of previous ages swept up prisoners, refugees, and slaves from across the galaxy and deposited them on Coruscant. They remained here, living out one generation after another, even as the chaos and devastation of those terrible struggles obliterated all data regarding their origins. As hypotheses go it sounds plausible, and Master Sinube is very wise, but something suggests to me that another piece remains to the puzzle.

    I have made one significant medical discovery. The fungus that afflicts so many with debilitating and painful cranial infections is in fact a single highly mutable strain. It adapts rapidly and easily by altering its outer protein coat across myriad textured patterns. This allows it to attack almost any point of weakness on the surface, especially the transitions between tissue types. With the limited access of my office terminal my literature search is still in progress, but it seems there is hardly any humanoid species it is incapable of attacking. I’ve even had to apply topical treatments to myself, as it attacked my fingernail cuticles, and I’m fairly certain I’m the only Rebagaic to reside on Coruscant for centuries.

    Consequently, I’ve begun an experiment to try and counter this particular pest utilizing the rapidly spreading empty shelving in my supply closet. I’ve applied a wide range of coatings to the standard particulate filters in the hopes of finding one that completely scrubs it from the atmosphere. Hopefully I can refine a modification that might be applied to later filters and drastically lower the prevalence of this affliction. Though it is not life-threatening, it causes significant discomfort, lowers productivity due to the demands of convalescence, and requires expensive broad-spectrum anti-fungal compounds to treat. Eradication, or even significantly reduced incidence, would have major benefits.

    Notes

    Briefly, with regard to alien species, this entry contains a combination of references to canon and species of my own design. Koorivar, for example, are a near-human species strongly associated with the Separatists, since one of them, Passel Argente, served as the head of the Corporate Alliance. Meanwhile species such as Ellne and Kiamkik are ones I have just made up. This entry also has Nema provide the name for her own species, the Rebagaic. Rig Nema is one of several characters in TCW who is clearly not a human but whose species has no official name because they are the only representative. Nema, as a Jedi, has been socialized to be human, but she retains certain physiological differences from the human norm – such as variant color balance to her eyesight – that I hope to explore over time.
     
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  15. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    ***Important Notice***
    To anyone who has read this far, it is strongly recommended that you read the short story Dr. Nema and the Assassin in Yellow prior to continuing, as it takes place between Entries 7 & 8 in the chronology of this diary. That piece introduces several notable characters who will be referenced regularly going forward and also a major overarching storyline. It is not included as part of this project because it is written in a traditional third person narrative format. Thank you.


    Entry Eight – Days after Geonosis, Thirty-Seven


    It is still difficult to accept the events of the previous two days. If not for the persistent ache in my ribs I might imagine it was all some sort of maddened hallucination. Bioengineered assassins from a completely unknown system of life, private militias with high-end assault weaponry, secret partnerships between the police and narcotics syndicates; all these things seem ridiculous, absurd even. That I briefly held a military command seems least likely of all, a farce dreamed up by some anti-Jedi satirist, but my datapad contains the certified official documentation confirming it did in fact occur.

    Those records represent a curious mixture all their own. Prefect Xeril’s drowns beneath a flood of legalese, barely a sentence passes without some parenthetical reference to an obscure point in the civil code. The document reeks of an effort at self-protection, though not merely a personal one, I can tell he is trying to shield his men from consequences as much as himself. That actual substance is not particularly complementary of anyone, least of all me. I hope I have not made an enemy of that man, it is something I could ill-afford, but the doctrinal asides obscure the meaning so much that I cannot say. Perhaps I can simply avoid any encounters for a while. I have no desire to engage in political affairs anyway, and I think that any actions taken at the stage of a Level Prefect are inherently political.

    Major Kayi’s report, by contrast, is much more positive. One gets the sense, reading the highly concise prose, that she rather enjoyed unleashing her arsenal in all its bright glory. Not an impulse I share. Better that we never need such weapons. But, given that they exist despite this I do understand the desire to utilize a rarely handled tool. There are certainly pieces of medical equipment that have induced that feeling. Thankfully, her report barely mentions me at all, relegating me to a text box with no reference in the narrative whatsoever. Appropriate, since I did not actually do anything except tell her to go ahead.

    How do the Knights act as generals? Certainly I never received any training in how to run a military force, not even as a padawan. No more than a handful of Jedi have led armies or acted as military advisors in over a century. Do they simply stand aside and let the clones organize the battlefield as I did? Or does the Force offer them some special insight into the ways of warfare?

    I dislike the latter thought. That the Force should tell us how to better kill each other, to end lives rather than preserve them, seems antithetical to the Jedi Code. Far better to leave such choices to those like Kayi.

    As for my own report, finally sent off to Master Rancisis, I confess it is uncharacteristically muddled. I am not happy with it. In my work, I have always tried to present findings with clarity, to inform the reader and never obscure, but this incident is beyond my descriptive capabilities. I find no proper path to presentation. Worse, I have now lied to the Council, if only via omission. I kept my promise to Prefect Xeril; Takul received no mention in the report. I simply stated that I synthesized a tag capable of identifying the assassins and offered no details.

    This will not be questioned. I know it. Many on the Council are skilled healers, Master Rancisis not least among them, but Force Healing is not medicine and they lack the training to deduce the skipped step. I can be confident that this deception will pass undetected, even as I despise myself for formulating it.

    Perhaps regret will keep the memories fresh. I suspect that will be necessary. Every day now brings with it a sudden flurry of news. Reports of great battles in far off star systems fill the HoloNet, while local channels resounded with endless coverage of Separatist bombings and murders. The war brings other changes too, less violent but perhaps ultimately more disruptive. A huge fraction of the galaxy’s industrial output is part of the CIS and therefore lost. The endless array of products they once produced and shipped have vanished from sale. Little in the Bucket is purchased new, of course, but the flow of second-hand goods, recycling, and salvage from above has slowed significantly as the people of Galactic City and the Upper Levels delay their typical conspicuous consumption. Many of my patients are grumbling at this, for it has impacted their working hours, and it has been little more than a month.

    Strangely, the death of nineteen prominent political officials scattered across a mere trio of levels has gone largely unremarked even as holos of the Ayae assault – thankfully without my face in them – circulate on every street corner and diner display. I acquired an explanation from Officer Morne, one of several I consider myself owed. It seems that the various appointed political administrators have rather severe constraints regarding their authority. They control the patronage network that determines permitting and development, which allows them to grow spectacularly rich, but they can do little to change the pace of that process and have very little influence over other aspects of life here. The true government of the Bucket is controlled by institutions that report through their own internal hierarchies to the leadership of the Municipal Authority, bypassing the local politicos entirely. This includes such massive institutions as the police, the atmospheric, power, and water utilities, and the all-important Maintenance and Disposal Administration.

    I also learned that Officer Morne’s father sits on the board of the Power Utility, which answers the question of why his work history consists of a string of liaison appointments and other unusual jobs far removed from the daily grind of police work despite his complete lack of any special qualifications. He was admittedly both reluctant and somewhat embarrassed to mention this, which I suppose I understand, though truthfully displaying any shame at the profit one’s connections provide seems to be a rare trait down here. If anything the complex nepotistic network of family relations, intra-species favor sharing, and inter-species alliances seems to govern much of the social map of the Bucket. Regrettably it is wholly foreign to an outsider such as myself. No matter how long I stay here I do not think I will ever learn it well enough to navigate those currents with any success.

    Many portions of this network have astonishing ancient roots. I have had patients casually mention to me informal agreements hundreds or even thousands of years old that hold weight to this day, such as one that apparently reserves a monopoly in the category of ‘exotic dance’ for Twi’leks over all other species with flexible cranial appendages. Such long-term stasis seems to be a characteristic of the artificial nature of this realm, where little ever changes and that which replaces the old is almost identical to what came before. It is a stark contrast to the rapidly shifting trend-consciousness that characterizes Galactic City. Like the stubborn fungus whose activities continue to fill my waiting room, it seems the underworld itself envelops all.

    It worries me, this pervading characterization. What will happen if I stay here too long? What already has? I cannot forget Takul. Working with him, a being who traffics in misery and madness, that is not something I can soon erase from myself. And he is merely a lesser representative of a terrible shadow network that is threaded, a black spider web, throughout this realm below. The power of the syndicates would dwarf that of the government, or so Morne believes, if they did not expend so much of it upon their boundless hatred of each other.

    I have scheduled a brief trip back to the Jedi Temple, ostensibly to lodge my samples of the assassins everyone has taken to calling Yellows in the archives. Perhaps it will help to spend some time there, to see a real sky and cleanse myself of underworld air. Admitting that I should need to take such a step hurts. I have never felt the desire to run back to the Temple before, not even during terrible pandemics. Why now? Why here?

    I cannot find an answer, worst of all.

    Notes

    I made the important point here that Rig Nema is a doctor, not a Jedi Healer. In fact, she cannot utilize the Force Healing ability at all, despite being very capable at probing people with the Force as a diagnostic aid. This is the reverse situation for most Jedi Knights and Masters, who may know a great deal about how to move life force around but would probably struggle to identify internal organs on a standard anatomical model. Consequently, Nema can spout just about any amount of technobabble to the Jedi Council and they will have no idea whether it’s true or not.

    With regard to the extremely unrepresentative nature of the Coruscant Underworld government, I feel this fits with the timeframe of the Clone Wars and the extremely corrupt final period of the Republic. It is a democracy in name only, with the number of people per elected representative so large as to become effectively meaningless. This allows the entrenched bureaucracy to function more or less autonomously, and like most bureaucracies it’s far more interested in preserving its own fiefdoms than actually changing anything for the better.
     
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  16. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Nine – Days after Geonosis, Forty-One

    My shame at working alongside Takul no longer scours me nearly so deeply. This is not forgiveness, indeed it is not anything I have done at all. Rather it is the consequence of a shift in perspective, for I now find myself part of truly extensive fellowship of those guilty of great ethical compromise. It seems this war has taught all Jedi to forsake their principles, and done so with striking swiftness. The weakness I indulged has therefore been revealed not as some unique personal failing, but instead one common to us all.

    This is the opposite of comforting.

    Doubly so given that it seems the war is going poorly. The Separatists have tightened their grip on the major hyperlanes and our fleets have so far failed to force them back. Apparently unless this hold is broken they can strangle the Republic. After our various failures to breakthrough it seems a new strategy has been advanced, one that was relayed to me during my brief return to the Temple. The Hutt Clans have an entire alternative transportation network, hyperlanes hidden and unknown to the Republic that can bypass the Separatist blockade. We are to make common cause with them and forge an agreement whereby they will allow Republic shipping the use of these routes.

    Perhaps, from a purely military perspective, this is a good plan. I cannot speak to such matters. I can be certain there will be a grave price to pay, and it will go further than whatever trade concessions and payments the Hutts demand. The war is barely a month old and already we have forsaken all hope of triumph without the support of one the galaxy’s greatest nests of horrors. The Hutt Clan is powerful, certainly, but they care nothing for any standard of ethics or fairness. They are antithetical to democracy, freedom, and justice on a level rooted in their basic psychology. To a Hutt other sapients are slaves at best, and many do not rise above the level of fodder in their minds. Their network is a poison lose in the veins of the galaxy.

    But it seems there is no choice. Even with the Clones, the Republic cannot match the readiness of the Separatists, and without access to the resources of distant worlds the industrial powers of the Core will never acquire the supplies necessary to rectify this deficiency. The Hutts can change that purely through the exchange of data, so appeals are inevitable. The directive behind this strategy comes from the Supreme Chancellor, a curious maneuver from a man who built his career as an anti-corruption crusader, but I suppose war usurps all other policy priorities. Regardless, though it may be the politicians who write out such rules, in this war it falls to the Jedi to implement them.

    This extends even to such a minor personage as myself. I have been asked to attempt the identification of any Hutts of influence within the Underworld and if possible arrange for a meeting with a suitable representative. It is not a task I approach with any eagerness. I broached the idea with Officer Morne, as he is one of the few here I feel I can truly trust, and he said he would assemble a summary of which syndicates are most likely to have the appropriate connections. He made it clear that he dislikes the prospect of negotiating with the Hutts at all. Apparently such discussions rarely go well.

    Worse than the compromise itself it the implications it carries. I cannot guess at the Chancellor’s motives, perhaps he forecasts some long-term benefit due to closer ties with what is arguably the galaxy’s largest independent power, but the Order’s agreement carries with it a horrific forecast. Somehow, it was one I had not even considered up to this point.

    The possibility that we might lose.

    An embarrassing thing to admit, I have to say, but it truly seems that I had simply believed the Republic’s victory to be inevitable until now. I would blame the propaganda, but prior to my brief return to the Temple I’d barely encountered any of it. That campaign has yet to filter down to the lower levels. Truthfully, beyond the bombings and assassinations there is little direct evidence within the underworld that the war even exists. My patients speak little of it, and Officer Morne claims that major gang conflicts have unleashed far worse spasms of violence even within the last decade. People here have felt the conflict only through supply shortages and other economic means.

    Among those I have spoken with, through my clumsy and half-hearted attempts to discover Separatist sympathizers, I detect mostly indifference to the whole affair. For all that they live on the capital world of the Republic, most residents of the Bucket are largely disconnected from galaxy-wide politics. They are also naturally cynical. One Twi’lek patient, blessedly frank, told me point blank that no matter who wins nothing down here will change.

    I do not believe that, and I find this conviction is strong. Dooku has embraced the dark side, this is not simply a war fought over economic developments or even inter-species hatreds. It goes deeper. Having seen the slaughter unleashed by the Yellows firsthand I cannot discount the horrific reports of atrocities from the Outer Rim as so many others do. In the dark hours of the artificial night cycle I imagine a victorious Separatist regime simply sterilizing the Bucket and replacing all its residents with droids. That is probably unlikely, doubtless it would be more profitable to ship them all to the asteroid mines of the distant rim instead, but that particular fate might well be worse.

    The neglect the people here feel fuels their indifference, and I am not blind to it. They have no true representation, no control. Decisions from above appear to them arbitrary and capricious, and ultimately changes do nothing but shift the reigns from one source of exploitation to another. Yet for all the very real suffering I have encountered in ruined alleyways and squatter camps this is far, far from the worst place in the galaxy to live. Though drenched in grime, this is actually a realm of prosperity. I have seen true desolation, and the Bucket is not of its kind.

    We have to win. The consequences of defeat are immeasurable. I will do my part, even if it means talking to Hutts. I only wish I believed this path led to victory.

    Notes
    At this point this diary begins to intersect with canonical events. The events of TCW are sorted into chronological order, but unfortunately they are not matched to any particular dates. I have formulated a timeline accordingly to try and gauge how long events take. The first major sequence is the one described by the animated movie, which begins with a Separatist seizure of the major galactic hyperlanes and the subsequent effort by the Republic to forge an alliance with the Hutts. One thing I intend to stress during this narrative is that while the TV series moved at a breakneck pace from one event to the next, a significant amount of time actually passed between sequences over the course of at least 1100 days of warfare.

    It is an interesting consequence of the chronology that, because the animated movie happened first, it means that the first major development of the Clone Wars was the Republic forging a successful alliance with the Hutt Clan. Considering this, it puts all the various ethical lapses and consequences from the rest of the war in perspective. The Hutts are not nice people, and if the Republic was willing to countenance such an alliance so early on, no wonder Palpatine was able to pass all that horrible legislation. It’s really an amazingly significant development that has received relatively little attention (mostly because I think everyone wants to forget about the animated TCW film), and it’s going to be a major focus of many subsequent diary entries.
     
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  17. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Ten – Days after Geonosis, Seventy

    It seems I have been spared the need to negotiate directly with any Hutts. In the complex nested binding that forms the Bucket’s criminal syndicate hierarchy they are lesser players. Their influence cannot match that of Black Sun, the Pyke Syndicate, or Wandering Star. Also it seems that the Hutts find the distribution of those narcotics popular among the locals and the small time graft that dominates everyday criminal enterprise in this region to be beneath them. Coruscant’s most prominent resident Hutt, who due to the nature of Hutt hierarchical systems must dominate all the others, is Ziro. He resides in a glamorous palace in Galactic City. I suspect that some equally glamorous Senator will be chosen to negotiate with him, a burden I am grateful to avoid, at least for now.

    Unfortunately, an accord with the Hutts remains elusive. Strange to think of that as a problem, but the impacts of the war have begun to filter down to the underworld in a serious way. The price of droid parts has spiked. Food prices have also increased, though only in a manner that impacts restaurants and luxuries. The vitamin-enriched nutrient pastes and ration bars that serve as the staple diet of the average Bucket resident remain perfectly plentiful, and there is little risk of malnutrition or starvation. I do fear that many businesses will suffer, however, as they may soon be unable to offer meals at a price their customers can afford. The gradual loss of the ability to express one’s sense of taste serves as a particularly poignant representation of the war’s impact.

    This privation does seem to have reduced support for the Separatists, or at least the activity of their loyalists. The number of bombings has fallen, and several cells have been reported to the police. Despite this, there has been no commensurate increase in support for the Republic. Instead there is a general discontent directed against all outsides. I have largely been spared this. Apparently my presence here is considered welcome. This is not greatly surprising, healers are rarely driven out in times of struggle. Such limited arguments as I have been able to make on the Republic’s behalf have fallen on deaf ears however. I do not think I have convinced anyone.

    Shortages have also impacted medical supplies, drastically in fact. I confess I did not properly anticipate this, even though the result is incredibly obvious. I have received one round of additional medicines to replenish my clinic, but the receiving officer at the Temple made it clear that he can make no promises going forward. The limited funds available for my mission will not support substantial purchases, and even an emergency medpac now represents a significant expense. Even anti-fungals, a material with little direct linkage to battlefield action, have become a restricted commodity. That much I was at least able to research. Apparently clone forces have deployed to a number of worlds with dangerous ambient spores and such medicine is essential to sustain operations.

    My stock of anti-fungal medication is already dangerously low. This has become the singular most common ailment I encounter. I do not find that problematic, the various fungal forms present a unique symptom profile for almost every species and formulating regimens suited to the vast local diversity that walks through my door not only provides stimulating work on its own, it is well suited to my expertise and the insights offered by the Force. Should I somehow find the time I believe I have at least ten papers worth publishing. For now I worry that time will become available when my stores run dry.

    I have meditated on this problem and found no solution. Not surprising really, meditating rarely seems to help, but I haven't searched out a conventional one either. All the local hospitals have similar problems. Medical production has increased in response to massive wartime purchases authorized by the Chancellor's Office, but it will be some time before new production matches wartime demand. I have made some basic estimates of the possible outcome of a year of unrestricted incubation. The possibility of a pandemic is quite serious.

    The ideal solution is a vaccine, and that would have benefits far beyond the immediate crisis, but fungal vaccines are tricky and though I have some ideas for the Bucket's resident spores – which remain nameless, a problem to correct when I find a suitable label – I'm at least a year or more away from even basic testing. Absent such an achievement I need to somehow secure a new supply, for myself and the local hospitals too. Perhaps it is possible to manufacture what is needed locally. A surprising number of my patients work in manufacturing, and though the best anti-fungals utilize botanical compounds that must be grown in specific planetary environments, perhaps there is an entirely synthetic secondary option that might serve. I shall have to research this, though I fear it may be difficult to find funding for any such project. Perhaps not though, I truly do not know. It's strange, I never really worried about credits before. Medical Corps projects always had generous grants supporting them, and no one spends credits in the Temple. Truthfully, I do not understand the mechanisms of the everyday economy, especially not in this strange place. Officer Morne is slightly better, but he too has lived his life in the world of government. Perhaps I should try and make friends with someone in business. Pity I have no idea how to do that, nor any time to spare.

    Notes

    The three crime syndicates mentioned here are all canonical and known to have underworld associations. Ziro's presence on Coruscant does indicate that the Hutts have interests there, but it seems likely that they focus on a high-tier of the economy.

    With regard to anti-fungals, this is a real class of medicines including the compounds used to treat such conditions as Athlete's Foot. Like that condition, fungal conditions tend to proliferate in damp, warm, crowded environments, which fit the underworld perfectly, so they will play a outsize role in this story. Also I kind of wanted to be a little non-traditional and not use bacteria or viruses.

    Fungal vaccines, mentioned here by Nema, are cutting edge and in some cases slightly theoretical medicine on Earth today, but it seems reasonable they would have been developed long ago in the Republic.
     
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  18. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Eleven, Days after Geonosis, Seventy-Two

    I received an unexpected visitor today in the form of Major Kayi. She arrived shortly after Morne left and insisted on taking me out to dinner. She stated that she wanted to make contact earlier, but apparently there is some sort of serious taboo among the Ayae with regard to approaching another for personal reasons while they are at their workplace. She managed to catch me outside watching Morne drive away, which I suppose was enough. It seems I have been spending almost all my time at work. It does not feel that way, but then it never really does, certainly not with so many mysteries in front of me.

    Kayi claimed I am living like a monk, which is probably as good as an approximation as any with regard to life in the Service Corps. However, in the course of my work I have met many dedicated doctors who lack all access to the Force yet manage to be continually busy all the same, so I do not think this a trait necessarily characteristic of Jedi. Besides, if there was ever a time to devote everything to the work, war surely qualifies.

    Kayi is not a person easily denied, even without heavy repeaters strapped to her skull, and I somehow ended up joining her in a bizarre open-air restaurant; a peculiar place where the tables are set out into one of the Bucket's rare public squares. Not an Ayae place at all, for I saw none other than Kayi. It seemed a highly mixed neighborhood, for we were surrounded by a wide variety of humanoid species. Apparently the Theelin proprietor deliberately stocks a menu appealing to many palates and cultivates a diverse clientele.

    The employees, by contrast, were far more uniform. They were mostly Stegoceps, who apparently have a plurality locally. To see so many out and about openly surprised me, for their homeworld is among those that sided with the CIS. This sentiment does not appear to have much influence here in the Bucket, or at least, none of the other patrons could be heard to make note of it. I wonder if this represents a sort of underworld solidarity or if it is a product of limited information. Aside from the handful of dignitaries who comprise the senior leadership, almost all images of the Separatists that appear on the news are of droids. I think this leads us to forget that this war divides the galaxy, with countless citizens on either side, rather than a mock battle between automaton armies. I suspect that among people on Separatist worlds, who must see similar images of clones in identical armor, there is a similar disconnect.

    It terms of other experiences that might be countered among the bizarre, I confess that there is a certain surreal sensation attached to watching someone whose mouth is positioned on the bottom of her skull eat. The nature of the musculature attached to the deflected jaw makes it so that there is almost no indication of any activity on the front of the face while chewing or swallowing. It is as if food rises to the head and then simply vanishes. Ayae are vegetarian, thankfully, which does mitigate the impact to some extent. She spooned in discrete chunks of some sort of pasta salad, far less disconcerting than the idea of some sort of squirming foodstuff.

    Kayi peppered me with a great many questions. Most of them addressed military affairs and I could not answer. I hope she recognized that I was not attempting to be evasive, but that I simply have no knowledge of military science. I do not know if I was able to convince her of this. The major seems a sensible sort, and I have no doubts as to her competence, but I think she looks at all Jedi as great warriors. It is a common view, I should not be surprised to find it prevalent here; for all that the Ayae defy Republic standards in many ways. I did my best to explain the broader scope of the Order's mission, but I don't think I was very convincing. It does not help that some Jedi seem to have a natural talent for the arts of war and their exploits are plastered all over the news. Strangely though, some of them are not who I would have thought. Master Plo Koon makes sense to me, always able to pierce directly to the heart of a problem, but Master Kenobi was ever polite and restrained. Who would have thought he'd be a great general?

    I did get the chance to question Major Kayi about the Ayae in return. Helpful, considering how remarkably perfunctory their entry is in the archives; even their homeworld is listed as unknown. Apparently their species was, or probably still is, a regional power somewhere deep in the Unknown Regions. Long ago they were caught up in some terrible war and their world came close to annihilation. In response they deliberately established far away colonies to insure the survival of the species. When I noted that Coruscant does not suggest itself as a candidate for colonization, Kayi responded that it is the least likely planet in the galaxy to suffer an extermination-level orbital bombardment. Even if the CIS should somehow manage to attack this star system, they would never dare to pulverize the galactic capital. Strategic targets might be destroyed, but she believes that the underworld will remain unscathed.

    I feel that this point is somehow of great importance. If correct, and I have no reason to doubt Kayi's assessment, it leaves me with further questions regarding the strange attacks by the Yellows. I still cannot fully understand what they intended to accomplish. Their silence since worries me greatly.

    The Ayae Militia has access to advanced processing facilities, their weapons attest to this, but this productivity does not extend to medical supplies. Their internal physiology is close enough to human standard that they can utilize most commercial products with only adjustments to dosage. Kayi did say she would look into their source of supplies, which I appreciate if only as a gesture. Perhaps her connections will turn something up.

    I confess that our conversation did not remain confined to serious topics. Kayi insisted we were out to enjoy ourselves. I suspect her rank and position create their own barriers within the tightly knit society of the Ayae. I cannot imagine why she would come to me otherwise. She also planned her moves well in advance, for as the cycle turned to night the restaurant pulled back its tables and put out a mobile bar as the square converted into a dance space. Truthfully, I ought to have guessed as much. With as many Twi'leks as there are in the local population almost any significant gathering will acquire a dance component. Stegoceps too appear to be very fond of the practice, favoring rapid movements that set their head fins waving up and down.

    Many of them were quite skilled, though that seemed to be rather ancillary to the overall purpose. The majority sought companionship instead, with men and women threading through the crowd according to complex unspoken patterns. It is always strange to watch events like this. It feels so foreign. Being approached and asked to dance was particularly alien. I should not have been surprised, but of course I was. I know my appearance is quite close to human standard, more than enough to match internal criteria, and my figure qualifies as attractive by such measures, but I suppose this is a blind-spot to a Jedi. Still, I ought to have anticipated offers after Kayi – far further removed from the anatomical baseline – acquired no shortage of attention.

    Instead I simply felt foolish. The Major actually let a taller Stegocep twirl her about for a time, exactly as spritely and light on her feet as her thin limbs imply. For myself I settled into a sequence of polite refusals.

    This reticence earned me a snide remark from Kayi regarding Officer Morne. It left me completely speechless. Truthfully, if I am to dredge the depths of my confusion, the whole scenario stirs up deep-seated discomfort. The Jedi Code forbids attachments, with romance perhaps the most famous form of note, but I would be remiss if I did not recognize that enforcement among the Service Corps is somewhat...lax. In far flung branches of the Outer Rim I have met AgriCorps members with children, albeit unacknowledged. Down here in the Bucket I suspect it would be all too easy to conduct a clandestine affair, if I chose.

    Officer Morne would certainly be open to such a liaison (ha, even in these pages I cannot resist that particular pun). He has not been explicit, but his actions express interest obviously enough that even an alien like Kayi picked up on them almost immediately. Truthfully I have no idea what to do about it. I do not think I'm actually interested in the possibility, not really, however gratifying it is to be so politely pursued. It has been some time since I've had any sort of intimate companionship, and he's certainly been polite and courteous about his courting, but sleeping with my official liaison would be a spectacularly bad idea. Frankly I believe Morne knows this too, which is why he has avoided any explicit questions to this point.

    Unstable as this equilibrium is, hopefully matters will remain as they are. The Code provides all the cover one could wish, and I should do my best to abide by it. Though I confess my feelings do strain against such admissions after long days coupled with bad news from the war front. Strange how what was otherwise a happy evening, for it was nice to watch others doff their cares a while even if I could not share in the moment, should lead me down such as dour path. What can it be like on the front lines for all my comrades? At least the clones are spared such regretful reflections in the depths of night. Surely they were engineered accordingly. No doubt something was lost in that elimination, but if they must be sent to war I believe it better that they not suffer overmuch.

    Notes

    'Stegoceps' is a made up name, but the species in question is a canon one. Specifically, I'm naming Voe Atell's species. Voe Atell was a Separatist Senator who appeared in the episode “Heroes on Both Sides.” I chose the name Stegoceps because the little fleshy appendages on the side of the head in this species look to me like the bone plates on the back of a Stegosaurus. 'Stego' means 'roof' in the original Greek, so 'Stegoceps' would mean something like 'roof heads.'

    I'm making a particular judgment about the Jedi Order with regard to romance here, specifically that they aren't exactly very good at practicing what they preach in regard to the whole 'no attachments' department. I don't feel unreasonable doing this, since in some ways it's harder to find a Jedi characters whose gone through an in-depth character study who hasn't indulged romantic inclinations to at least some degree than the reverse. In any case, if Anakin Skywalker, possibly the most popular and highly scrutinized Jedi in a thousand years, can get away with secretly marrying and conducting an affair with one of the galaxy's most important political figures, then the Jedi Order must be turning a blind eye to this sort of thing. That would have to filter downwards to the Service Corps.
     
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  19. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twelve – Days after Geonosis, Seventy-Five
    There has been an important legislative development, something that, to my chagrin, I seem to have played a direct role in enacting. The Supreme Chancellor's Office has passed a set of rules that drastically expands the number and scope of the Coruscant Guard, a unit of clones previously used only to secure military bases and guard prisoners of war. However, it appears that a string of incidents here on Coruscant has convinced the chancellor that a fully militarized police force is necessary for the capital's wartime security. I have to admit that the confrontation I precipitated between the Ayae Militia and the Yellows is specifically mentioned among the legal justifications. Despite this, the current orders do not yet call for the deployment of these troops to the underworld. I suspect there are not yet enough clones with the requisite special training available.

    I'm not sure what I think of this move, beyond confusion. Certainly there is a need for resources here on Coruscant, I do not question that, but is not the need greater on far away battlefields? No amount of military police will spare Coruscant unrest if the supply situation is not resolved. Perhaps these specially trained clones are unsuited to other purposes? If so, why create them at all? I see no specific reason to have clones patrol the streets. Surely the CSF can hire more officers or commission more droids. It seems a curious set of wartime priorities to fill every role with clones critically needed on the front lines.

    I passed this news on to Major Kayi, partly as a warning. I suspect these clones will be far less accommodating of independent private militaries than the local police. Perhaps telling the Ayae is an act of disloyalty, no doubt their weaponry is illegal for private citizen possession, but it feels correct. They are Republic citizens, for all that they place little value on that privilege, and they have fought to defend their homes. That is more than most have done.

    Hopefully the Ayae and others like them can avoid outside attention. I can only imagine that if the clones should attempt to try to clean the Bucket out in force it will be a hideous bloodbath. The syndicates would surely fight, and though they cannot match the firepower or training of a true army, they know this place and in building to building combat the toll would be brutal. Even one without training such as I can see it. Considering that the Chancellor openly seeks an alliance with the Hutt Clan I strongly doubt he intends such over-zealous action, but as this war grinds on I fear many things may change.

    The Chancellor is an unusual figure. He is surprisingly popular, at least compared to my expectations, here. The people of the Bucket treat the Senate as naught but an object of mockery and the butt of crude jests, but Palpatine himself seems to have garnered a measure of respect. Perhaps it is the anti-corruption message he has long stressed, though whatever impact it has had elsewhere the underworld seems completely unchanged. I struggle to imagine another reason. Surely the residents of this artificial landscape have little in common with a rich nobleman from an idyllic world in the Mid Rim. All in all I find the matter curious, but I confess that the overall politics of the Bucket are exceedingly complex and well beyond my grasp.

    This is not by any means a united region, but factional lines do not take shape in obvious fashion. The artificially imposed geography of levels and sectors that dominates the maps in the official databases matters little to the average resident. Instead it is other bonds that form networks independent of physical infrastructure in a three-dimensional space: species, language, labor unions, and even sports teams all appear to hold a great deal of sway over local loyalties, far more than any political affiliation. Morne has told me that the various syndicates control the labor unions and guilds, excepting the government bureaucracy – that one they simply purchase as needed – and therefore those organizations serve as a proxy for their influence. I have already learned that the Pyke Syndicate controls the all-important Maintenance and Sanitation Workers Union (the MSWU, which has caused development of a strange set of idioms centered around a presumably apocryphal figure known as 'Ms. Wu'), as a number of my patients who acquired their fungal infestation from work in the air-exchange systems sported tattoos signifying this affiliation.

    The syndicate influence extends to sports as well. They seem to control many of the underground and dubiously legal sports such as pit fighting and swoop racing outright, and each syndicate openly sponsors its own team of doomed souls to participate in the horrifying snuff game known as Huttball. However, a number of the more aboveboard and popular sports such as football seem to have the power to resist such influence and their fan networks represent legions of support spread across many neighborhoods. I confess to finding it all very confusing.

    Notes
    The events Nema refers to in the opening paragraph are those related in “Dr. Nema and the Assassin in Yellow.” That event is particularly significant because Nema used her authority (borrowed from Master Rancisis of the High Council) to order an independent militia unit into action. Palpatine very much does not want that to become a trend, as it would jeopardize the viability of Order 66.

    I’ve snuck in a brief mention of Huttball here, which should be familiar to any SWTOR players. While there’s no evidence that the game continued to exist outside of the Cold War Era, it seems like such a simple and effective concept that it would carry on in underground areas everywhere.
     
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  20. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Notice: I've reached a point in Dr. Nema's story where fanfic has unexpectedly intersected with everyday life in a way that I need to at least mention, specifically, there are eerie parallels to between this story and events involved in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The eerie part is that this chapter and several subsequent chapters were written in mid-January. I have not made any significant edits to reflect current events and I wanted to make it clear that this was not intended as some sort of commentary on the news.

    Entry Thirteen – Days after Geonosis, Eighty-Four
    The supply situation has become acute. I will not last out the week on a number of critical materials. Not only anti-fungals, which I anticipated, but several common antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-protists, and rejection suppressors are all reaching critical levels. There has been a substantial increase in the frequency of illness, especially infections. I believe exhaustion is responsible, as huge numbers of workers turn in additional hours to support the massive orders called for by the war effort and as they attempt to make up for the loss of imports. This problem is not limited to my little clinic, several regional medcenters have contacted me and reported similar shortages. They hoped the Jedi Order had some sort of special sources they could not access. Turning those pleas away was particularly painful.

    I feel that I need to do something. It may not be my responsibility but the burden of expectation is there all the same. How can the Jedi protect the Republic if its citizens sicken and die? But it is hard, nearly impossible. I notified the High Council of the problem, and went so far as to ask for permission to brief the Senate, which might be the most presumptuous thing I've ever done. Master Rancisis, to my astonishment, actually approved this. However, it seems the Senate is not impressed by the credentials of the Medical Corps. I spoke only briefly to Senator Bana Breemu, though her staff listened to me for far longer. She sounded uninterested in attempting to produce any sort of crisis distribution plan, or at least not one involving the underworld, and sighted widespread shortages as something everyone must endure. Her staff did at least provide data that indicates even Galactic City's hospitals have begun to ration certain medicines. I recognize that in such a state there will not be any transfers approved lower down. Under current conditions, I suspect the surface would prefer to pretend that lower levels do not exist at all.

    I have no confidence in my ability to convince any other Senators to take action regarding this problem. Perhaps they will succeed in forging an alliance with the Hutts, or perhaps some general will manage a brilliant breakthrough against the Separatist hyperlane blockade. I truly hope so, but until then alternatives must be found.

    The Jedi Code teaches us to reject coincidence in favor of the guidance of the Force, but with regard to Takul's appearance outside my door shortly after my return from Galactic City I believe I shall attribute it to simple spying. Only a fool would believe the major syndicates lack eyes in the Senate, indeed popular opinion is that they own more than a few Senators outright, though it is disconcerting to consider that this cynical view point might actually be true. Nor do I appreciate knowing that my movements are being watched. I never thought I was anywhere near important enough for that.

    I confess Takul was not the representative I expected them to send. I always thought the first open visit would be far more aggressive.

    The Mutaratak did indeed want something, but it was not the shakedown I anticipated. It seems the combination of supply shortages and increased scrutiny of freight imports have seriously impacted the ability of the various syndicate labs to produce narcotics. Amusing that this should be the first positive impact I can attribute to the war, but it too has complications attached. Takul, who is either the most shameless person I have ever encountered or Mutaratak psychology has some inhibitor attached to that neurological center, did not hesitate even slightly to present it.

    Apparently the syndicates see an opportunity in using their idle production capacity to churn out medicines for the underworld's masses. They are fully aware of the shortages faced by medcenters and private doctors and see an opportunity for profit. Takul claims they are not alone, that charlatans and faith healers have already begun to multiply in the back alleys and dark alcoves. He came to ask for my assistance in 'channeling' the syndicates' nascent pharmaceutical productivity.

    The Mutaratak displayed considerable, and truthfully quite ridiculous, flattery in the course of his appeal, but the crux of the matter is that he believes I have the right combination of experience and knowledge to provide a list of medicines that can be synthesized from commonly available chemical precursors that will offer the maximum efficacy for the least harm. He cited both my work in medicinal adaptation and my history of Outer Rim missions as reasons.

    The whole thing was stunning. I had no idea what to say, and I had to fight down a spike of desire to hack his smiling face apart. I mumbled that I would consider the matter. He left me a list of materials that are not at risk of running short.

    As much as I wish it were not so, Takul was not entirely wrong. I do understand the nature of this task, and I have developed treatments in the past in the understanding that only local materials could be depended upon. Further, the Jedi Archives contain numerous records of alternative treatments developed outside of the Republic and subsequently discarded following the integration of their planets that another researcher might not be able to query.

    If I can be truthful with myself, difficult as that is, I have already conducted some exploration of this idea. I could provide Takul with a list of replacements that would function and hopefully produce minimal side effects. I could, in fact I find myself trawling through aged publications even now. As much as it would be the easiest answer, my ability to fulfill is request is not in question.

    It comes down to one question then, not whether I can act, but whether I should. I am not a fool. Takul and his sponsors will acquire a list from someone. There are many talented doctors in Galactic City who could perform this task. Doubtless there is one susceptible to a large offer of credits or vulnerable to blackmail. The syndicates will not allow their machinery, or their distributors, to lie idle, nor will the hospitals and pharmacies refrain from buying from such questionable sources with the need great.

    Perhaps I can provide a better list than someone else. One that will do more good and less harm in some marginal way. But what is the cost? Is it right to aid these syndicates, to enrich such hideous parasites as the Pykes in order to produce such marginal benefits to the population? I do not know. I have searched myself; tried to find the Force and unearth an answer within, but to no avail. I do not know how to make this choice.

    Notes
    Senator Bana Breemu is the Senator from Hubmarine, another ecumenopolis and therefore potentially someone who would understand the issues of cities on such scale. She is a canon character, being one of the Senators cut from the theatrical release of ROTS.
     
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  21. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Fourteen – Days after Geonosis, Eighty-Six
    I gave Takul his list, may I be forgiven. I still want to vomit every time I think about it, but if the Republic believes in the necessity of victory enough to negotiate with the Hutt Clan, with Jabba himself, how can I balk when the burden descends upon me? I doubt I will ever view this choice with anything but regret, but it is done now. I have to move on, events continue apace, I cannot become frozen. Small solace though it is, I did extract a concession out of this arrangement. I now have full freedom to utilize the Mutaratak laboratory as I wish. Auspices aside, the facility is a fine one from a technical standpoint and I can only hope that its resources lead me to a breakthrough.

    Though he balked at first, I have managed to train Dee-Dee on the most common treatment options for everyday ailments not in his database for the more prevalent Bucket populations. With his help, I was able to convert this into a programming patch and arrange for distribution among the droids in the frightfully fragmented medical network. It will take some time for this information to propagate, and the lack of formal publication means that some professionals will not trust it, but it should help, and the ability to refer patients elsewhere should reduce the burdens on my little clinic. I desperately hope so, I need more time to research, uninterrupted hours to consider complex problems. For now the fungus, which I have learned is officially known in the Bucket as the ‘Mutli-Species Cephalic Integument Abrasive Delamination Fungus’ or MSCIADF and colloquially called ‘Miscaf,’ is my number one priority. We are going to become the very best of friends, and then I will tear it to shreds. I feel no hesitation embarking on this project. It is the right thing to do, all the moreso now. A vaccine to eliminate this chronic problem would save billions in treatment costs and restore tens of millions of lost working hours to support the betterment of the underworld, and the war effort, every year.

    If the Separatists are winning the war so far, and despite the claims on the news it could be argued they are, at least part of their success is attributable to ruthless efficiency. We dare not discard democracy as they have, but perhaps other means to bridge the gap can be found. There are thousands of species living here in the Bucket, and any one of them could hold the key to victory. I will not let illness hold back their potential.

    Takul, to my considerable surprise, is eager to assist me on this project. Any possible cure would drastically cut into syndicate profits, both in the sale of medicines and in the sale of narcotics to serve as distractions from daily miseries. In a perhaps ill-chosen moment I made this point to his face, absolutely explicit. He did not disagree at all, but instead claimed that the way of the crime syndicates is not the way of the Mutaratak. Truly, I do not grasp how any such division could be meaningful.

    Information on his species is decidedly limited. Even the Jedi Archives hold a mere handful of entries, and no proper xenobiological profile. The species is from the distant Outer Rim and all access to their homeworld is controlled by the Trade Federation. They are not known to travel widely, though I found a two-thousand year old note from a Jedi Investigator suggesting that individuals are not unknown in the private retinue of many Hutts. As a matter of official record their modest colony here in the Bucket, and their pharmaceutical business, does not exist. The municipal zoning database claimed their laboratory is used for ‘chemical waste decontamination.’ The listed owner is one of the endless shell companies that clog the database. Morne taught me to recognize the signs, apparently there are nearly ten false businesses for every real one down here. It is obvious enough why they are here, Underworld Police case studies claim Coruscant refines and ships more finished narcotics than any other planet in the galaxy, but how they arrived and why they chose to come here remain a puzzle. Perhaps Takul will let something slip in time, but for now he is explicitly opaque with regard to his people. I doubt I will much like the answers.

    As hard as the choices have been here, I fear others have been confronted with worse trade-offs. Word from the frontlines of the war is miserable. Too many friends have sent out horrible laments keyed to a single word: triage. There have also been casualties, which I feel I should have expected but each one is a hammer blow to the gut all the same. The loss of Jedi Knights in battle is one thing, I mourn but it somehow doesn’t hurt much. Tragic though it is, it feels like an inevitable part of the process. In war, some warriors shall fall, that is the nature of conflict. Healers, by contrast, are supposed to be respected, held inviolate. There are laws! Our enemy, heinously, has discarded this rule. Field aid stations and medical frigates have been attacked and destroyed, and the Republic has been forced to conceal the location of regional medical centers lest they too suffer assault. This is barbarism unequalled since the armies of the Sith last marched.

    I suppose the foe, with an army of droids that incorporates no wounded, feel they have nothing to lose. Certainly such atrocities have not yet stirred many neutral systems to take up arms on behalf of the Republic. The Jedi way may be to forgive, but I cannot help but hate such heinous actors. Truthfully, mere months ago I would have called the very concept of civilized warfare a poor joke. Now that it has been discarded I find I miss it terribly.

    I do not want to think about how many more friends will not come back. Even bargains with traffickers are better than that.

    Notes
    The existence of obscure species in the Star Wars galaxy is a funny thing. There are really only a few dozen species that show up with any sort of regularity, while most others are one-offs known from a single character in all sources. How this actually works in practice is curious, considering that the Jedi Archives should contain thousands of years of records including ethnographic studies. One is forced to presume massive levels of historical data loss at points (Legends canon is explicit about this, the new canon mostly implicit), which would allow thousands or even millions of species to avoid any real detailed study. The Mutaratak are one such, as they make a pint to avoid notice by legitimate authority due to their particular predilections with regard to neurochemistry.

    Jedi casualties during the Clone Wars are difficult to gauge. We know Jedi died during the conflict, and in TCW we even see the occasional death on-screen, but there’s no good measure of the overall numbers and all of the principle characters are super-competent Jedi Masters (plus Anakin and Ahsoka) who have to be way to the right of the survivorship bell curve. The scope of the losses is therefore difficult to reckon with.

    Separatist attacks on medical centers are well established in TCW.
     
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