1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

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

    Feb 2, 2010
    That is all completely true in Legends. However, this is technically a story set in the Disney version of canon (because it allows commentary on events in the Clone Wars in a more coherent fashion not because I actually like the Disney canon that much) and the only source that speaks to the matter in Disney canon says the Service Corps don't carry lightsabers. Of course, this is rather contradictory since Dr. Rig Nema is the only known member of the Service Corps in the Disney canon and she carries a lightsaber because her appearance is based on concept art intended for Mace Windu. So, tangled webs and all that.

    Oh dear, you've given me an excuse to haul out my soapbox on this point.

    So, in ESB, Yoda tells Luke, in a one-liner for the ages, "Wars not make one great." Despite this, if you look at the body of evidence across all Star Wars material, Luke's original assumption that 'Great Warrior' proxies 'Jedi Master' would appear to be entirely correct. With a tiny number of characters (Cilghal, Tionne Solusar, etc.) excepted, pretty much every Jedi character is a lightsaber-wielding murder machine, and as I've worked on this piece I've come to the opinion that the Jedi Order has it's priorities absolutely backwards. They've taken the Force, this magical power that can do all sorts of things that could benefit the galaxy, and tied up its use in producing devastating combat monsters, and this is doubly wasteful given that if there's one thing the GFFA has in excess supply it's devastating combat monsters (this is one of the reasons that when Nema meets Isoxya the Stoneweb Runner is just kind of lounging around). It's like the entire Order deliberately chose the least efficient use of their powers they possibly could.

    Consequently, as this work has developed I've tried to highlight that paradox. It's one of the reasons that rather than just making Nema a sort of generic, boringly mediocre lightsaber duelist (there have been several such characters among the Jedi across various works) I deliberately made the choice to have her be abjectly terrible in that regard.
    Kahara likes this.
  2. scienfictionfan

    scienfictionfan Jedi Youngling

    Jan 1, 2020
    Honestly I think that says less about the Jedi Order itself and more about the writers of the stories we read since the writers tend to default to discussing battles and focus less on the Jedi's diplomatic role. I personally assume all those missions mentioned to occur actually occur its just we don't see them in stories. In fairness while a story about a diplomat negotiating a treaty can be rather interesting it takes a different writer from the generic science fiction writer.
    Kahara likes this.
  3. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Eighteen – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Twenty-Two
    I have made an important discovery regarding the fungal spores. This organism is originally native to Champala, and its extraordinary adaptability is due to a period of intense radiation bombardment that afflicted that world. The genome of the fungus contains an immense number of disassociated non-nuclear fragments and it naturally shares these fragments with other fungal cells. At some point in its evolution it began to incorporate bits of genetic material from cells it consumes into these fragments in order to produce signaling proteins that fool immune systems. The rapid sharing of such false lures across the entire pan-variety population allows new varieties to emerge and jump from one species to the next with remarkable ease. The same high level of genetic plasticity allows for the spores to survive in an immense range of environmental conditions.

    Though the extremely adaptable nature of the fungus means it rapidly gains resistance to treatments and switches easily to new target tissues, this discovery is promising. Despite the existence of perhaps millions of individual strains modulated by variant fragments of DNA, the core nuclear genetic component is largely unchanged across them all as a result. Therefore if a point of vulnerability can be found inherent to those core functions, it may be possible to exploit it across every last strain throughout the Bucket and beyond.

    Unfortunately, the story behind this discovery is not a happy one. No, it is terribly sad, difficult even to write down, much less speak of. Normally, this fungus attacks points of transition between tissue types or the exposed stem layers of surface features such as head appendages, nails and claws, and cartilaginous protrusions; all weak points in the body’s defenses. This may cause intense discomfort, and in severe cases may cause permanent necrotic scarring of the afflicted surfaces, but it is almost never a direct threat to the patient’s life save as a gateway for possible secondary infections.

    However, it seems something unexpected happens when the afflicted surface region is…unusually malleable.

    As a matter of official record little is known of the Clawdite species. Being changelings, they rarely reveal their true forms and are often only properly identified upon death. They have a nearly universal tendency to avoid doctors, because the various surface-level changes utilized to alter their appearance are useless against even simple blood-based identification methods. Apparently they have long addressed their medical needs by cultivating their own class of healers and through heavy utilization of nearly universal cures such as bacta. The war, as it has everything else, has disrupted this.

    It would seem that there has been a substantial black market trade in bacta for roughly as long as bacta has existed. Morne explained the reason behind this. For those unwilling or unable to show their face in a medcenter such as addicts, fugitives, and those in similar predicaments it is incredibly useful. Grim though that assessment is, the logic is airtight. This is doubly true given that most medical droids, if unable to solve a problem using the materials on hand, will suggest bacta before offering any other option. Though I never thought about it before I suspect there might be some programming bias, supported by the bacta cartel, behind that. The underworld makes cynics of us all.

    But the combination of current supply constraints and the astounding demands of a wartime military have made bacta extraordinarily precious. All shipping and storage is now tracked with munitions-level security. The black market has been all but eliminated and what little can still be siphoned off due to high-level corruption has reached prices only kingpins can afford. Even I, backed by the authority and reputation of the MediCorps, have been authorized to store no more than a liter of emergency spray in my clinic. The premises were not deemed sufficiently secure to house more.

    This shortage, this sudden reduction in bacta availability, has combined with the fungus to cause a disaster in the Clawdite population. I do not wish to speak of this, I’ve been rambling on and on trying to avoid it, but I know I must. I need to find the words. It hurts though, so very much. No one is specifically at fault, everything is circumstances, but they remain casualties of war.

    Mechanically it is simple. Every time a Clawdite changes shape the variable epithelial tissue used to form the dermal mask is reabsorbed into the osteoderms beneath their skin that serve as reservoirs for the necessary cells. If their disguised form carried any sort of foreign substance with it, that is also absorbed. Usually the osteoderm environment kills any foreign organisms, but the fungus is sufficiently flexible to propagate in the stemcell-factory conditions of Clawdite osteoderms. Consequently, when untreated it will eventually spread throughout the bone marrow and kill the host from within.

    Fungal growth in the osteoderms and bone marrow inflicts severe pain, analogous to suffering numerous microfractures all at once. Such pain is more than sufficient to drive the Clawdite to seek out a bacta purge, which will cure the body of the fungus. However, in the absence of bacta the cheap mass-market medical droids diagnosed their symptoms as bone disease, and prescribed bone replenishment drugs instead. These, to everyone’s regret, do nothing to the fungus.

    Finally, a mother brought her afflicted youngling to see me two days ago. The child was only seven years old. Her mother was desperate, and apparently someone managed to convince her I was trustworthy. I can only wish they had won that argument sooner, because it was too late, too late, too late. The fungal infection had spread to the bone marrow, deep within every part of the skeleton, eating it away. I had her rushed up to Galactic City for emergency treatment. Morne drove them personally, sirens screamed the whole way, but all for nothing. The Chandrilan Charity Clinic has the very best emergency medical staff in the galaxy, bar none. They took one look and said nothing could be done. Too late even for a bacta tank. The decay was irreversible.

    They put the little girl in hospice care. She expired in ten hours.

    That was only the beginning. I’ve slept three hours at most in two days. Everything blurred together, an endless scramble through underworld hovels seeking out the scattered and barely connected pods of Clawdites in the hope of administering treatment. Too many losses, and too many who could not be found. Even those we could save will face consequences. The massive quantities of crude anti-fungals we had to flush through their systems caused permanent damage to the osteoderm cores. Many will never shapeshift again. Upon learning this a horrific fraction of those so injured killed themselves.

    Between the dead, the missing, and the suicides the current estimate is that at least one third of Coruscant’s underworld Clawdite population, as many as six thousand people, have died. All such deaths were unnecessary. Every. Single. One. The affliction is entirely treatable.

    Supply shortage, general paranoia, and specific species and cultural traits combined into a catastrophe. No one can be blamed, no corrupt official, no criminal syndicate, no improper medical response, nothing but ‘the war.’ For the residents of the Bucket that will not be good enough. Truthfully, it’s not good enough for me, but where I blame myself – the Force offers enough to know I should not, but that stops nothing – they will blame the government. The Senate, the bureaucracy, everyone who took away their precious bacta. The Clawdites will be worse, many will join the Separatists now. Morne says the police are already planning anti-changeling countermeasures.

    This is ironic, in a tragic way, for it is ultimately the Separatists who are behind this supply shortage. Yet even they are not specifically to blame here. Their blockade efforts are both a perfectly acceptable military tactic under the existing laws of war, and, if what Major Kayi told me is true when I asked her before, a strategic necessity. Restricting shipping is the easiest way to cripple the Republic’s economy, and if they cannot do that they have little chance at victory.

    Grand strategy demands that little girls and boys from a community that has no allegiance to any side die in misery.

    This Clone War must be ended, as soon as possible, but I cannot think on that now. I have a new war of my own to fight. This fungus shall find in me no mercy. In official records it is named MSCIADF, but I intend to append a single word to its entry in the archives: extinct. The Clawdites, through the window of their unique biology, have illuminated its workings. I must do this. I must make this breakthrough bought with blood and scales mean something. If I do not there will be a next time, and it might not be an extremely rare species then.

    Even so, this should not have happened. War was coming for years, since the legendary Naboo incident if not before, but no one made ready, not here, not in the Senate, not even in the Jedi Temple. A secret army was fashioned, and the clones alone among us were prepared, but war is not simply a matter of armies. Nothing else that should have been done, needed to be done, was. Instead now, with war upon us, we must become ready. But how can Cosucant achieve this? Even its soldiers do not know war.

    Force be with us that we find a way before all is tears.

    Champala is the homeworld of the Chagrian species. The radiation bombardment mentioned here was established in description of the species.

    A massive bacta shortage during the early stages of the Clone Wars seems extremely plausible.

    An osteoderm is a bony deposit embedded in the dermis, best known in Crocodilians. It seems a plausible sort of mechanism to support the sort of structural changes Clawdite shape-shifting. There has to be some sort of tissue reservoir to allow the transformation to take place.
    Kahara likes this.
  4. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Nineteen – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Twenty-Seven
    There has been a great victory. Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka Tano saved the life of Jabba the Hutt’s huttlet Rotta and with assistance from Senator Amidala of Naboo exposed Ziro the Hutt as a Separatist conspirator. At long last the elusive alliance with the Hutt Clan has been secured.

    One hundred and twenty-seven days. Such a short stretch of time to go from looking upon the Hutts as malevolent parasites draining the galaxy’s life blood to cheering the announcement of an alliance with them. Truly, I actually did cheer. I jumped up from my desk when the news update played. Childish perhaps, but I cannot help but find joy at this. The Separatists will never be able to blockade all the shifting byways known to the Hutts. Supplies with get through again. The miserable shortages, and the lives they take away, will end, or at least ease.

    Strange, mind-boggling truly, to think of how many lives depended upon the fate of a single huttlet. Such is the leverage the Hutts possess, the power to turn the tide of the war – and the incalculable riches they will obtain from choosing the victor – whichever way they desire. I suspect Jabba probably favored the Republic all along, he has centuries of experience in twisting Senators to obtain all he wishes, but the actions of Ziro indicate the existence of an almost equally potent faction seeking opportunity through drastic change. Frightening to think that even the Hutts suffer the same divisions we do.

    I noticed something very strange as I traveled about this evening. This news seemed to have had a decidedly minimal impact here in the Bucket. The populace is hardly unaware, the various propaganda appendages wasted no time in plastering the announcement across every screen to celebrate Skywalker and Kenobi. Appropriate of them to limit Tano’s exposure, a padawan does not need such distractions. Few cheers greet this. Instead there is generalized apathy, as if the war was something waged between two faraway states in the distant Outer Rim. Truthfully, I cannot say that this has not been my own reaction to certain news bulletins in the past. Indeed, perhaps my reaction to this specific incident comes only from my awareness of its consequences, and their highly personal impact.

    I suspect that in certain ways this war is too large, too widespread for us to wholly grasp. Battles rage across a thousand star systems every day. Most can only be named properly if the observer has extensively studied astronomy, fewer still truly understood. In the grand strategic scheme of this war whole planets, perhaps whole sectors, are reduced to minor objectives, supply depots, and forward firebases. The underworld too may face such a relabeling in time. Military development projects have been modest so far, but with the supply routes open I suspect that will change, and swiftly.

    How people will react I do not know, but the more time I spend down here the more my view has drifted towards Morne’s. Development will bring with it significant disruption, that is certain, but these projects will also supply essential upgrades and replacements for neglected basic infrastructure, much of which itself has not been properly built since the last great crisis of the Republic a thousand years ago. After all my fungal nemesis would be never have become a problem in the first place is the air filtration equipment here met modern starship standards.

    That it takes a terrible conflict to allow such advances serves as cruel commentary on the failures of those past thousand years. Can war heal us? Surely not, but it seems there will be positive side effects. It is very strange, especially as the impetus for these projects comes not from the Senate, but the Chancellor’s Office.

    For now I can only hope that Skywalker’s heroism is a match for all that the HoloNet claims, and that the Hutts’ routes prove decisive. Even a single day less of fighting is a victory.

    Accordingly to the chronological listing of TCW episodes, the alliance with the Hutt Clan as portrayed in the TCW feature film is the first major event of the Clone Wars. Exactly when this happened is unclear, and the one hundred and twenty-seven days I have afforded to the war prior to this is entirely arbitrary. However, it does seem likely there was some delay. Notably, it is very strongly implied that Anakin has been on campaign for some time prior to meeting Ahsoka, and that he and Obi-wan had fought other battles prior to Christophsis.

    The notation that the Jedi Council and the media limited Ahsoka Tano’s public exposure seems reasonable given later events. Despite spending the better part of three years fighting beside the most famous Jedi in the galaxy, Ahsoka remained startlingly anonymous up to the very end of the war. Only a deliberate policy choice could account for this.

    The general apathy of the Republic populace, and Coruscant’s population specifically, to various Clone Wars events has been shown in other sources. I feel Nema’s observation here is important – the conflict itself is so massive that the actual effects of any given battle are impossible to observe save through statistics. Nema has access to those statistics, at least with regard to the flow of medical supplies, but most people don’t. There’s an eerie current events parallel here, actually.
    Kahara likes this.
  5. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Thirty
    The Bucket acquired its first official Coruscant Guard unit today. At the moment it’s not a very large unit, only a single company, but there are apparently plans to expand the presence. The clones took official possession of a shiny new base on Level 1325, though only the barracks wing for this one company is complete for now. Apparently the army loves ceremony. The simple business of arrival became an entire event. Every police prefect in the Bucket attended, plus a one hundred officer honor guard. Xeril wore his dress uniform, not well. I think he has been stress eating, but the usual coat hides weight in a manner the shiny blues do not. Myself I was obligated to attend as the representative of the Jedi Order. I have difficulty imagining a more complete waste of three hours.

    Perhaps ceremonies of this nature have useful symbolic value, but one presumes this usually involves an audience. Absolutely no one not required to appear did so, not even off-duty officers. The local residents almost completely ignored the affair. I note almost because someone arranged for a sliced camera droid to project the Blue Comet, the symbol of the Wandering Star syndicate, onto the barracks roof at the same time they raised the Republic flag. The clones shot the suborned machine down quickly enough, but the incident was still seriously embarrassing, or would have been had anyone been watching. Instead I was able to observe corruption in real time as several prefects snickered openly at the embarrassment of the clones.

    I was able to meet with the Clone Captain afterwards. He goes by Eights, apparently a reference to his identification number. I felt bad for the man, he clearly was unable to converse with me with any sort of casual nature and kept obviously battling with some sort of programmed compulsion to call me ‘commander.’ It made even bland discussions miserable.

    The clones, now that I have finally had the chance to meet them up close, unnerve me. Reports and guidance from the Council have stressed that each clone is an individual, how their unique natures can be felt in the Force. Maybe that’s what the Masters feel, but my senses kept counting out identical reactions to similar stimuli. The contrast with the backdrop of the underworld could not have been starker. When they raised the flag up all the clones turned and saluted as one, and in the Force they shown out as a furious beacon of focus and pride. The officers, though they all managed to appear roughly at attention, were out of sync. They balanced on their feet differently, continually bent their hands in new directions, and presented the same muddled inconsistency as any assorted crowd in the Force.

    The clones may be unique, if one looks closely, but they are still clones. Their distribution curve forms a bare spike even when compared to other professionals in the same field. Compared to the galactic population as a whole it is a practically dimensionless line. It is not simply biology. The way they move and stand, every aspect of their body language reveals how these men, bred from an identical template, were brutally trained to be the same. Identical twins, as anyone who endures a genetics course learns, often display wide phenotypic variation despite their mirrored genotypes, but these men were nurtured to be copies of each other above and beyond their shared heritage.

    I do not like it. Everything about the project, about this army, it feels like a mistake, a path that should not have been taken. Not that I can blame the Kaminoans, cloning is built into the very structure of their society. They were given a set of objectives and met them with considerable efficacy.

    But why clones? Why not droids? Certainly there exist specialized tasks where the flexibility of a living mind combined with the consistency of cloning is ideal, older records suggest the Kaminoans often produced batches for a variety of hazardous environment industrial jobs in the past. I can see the utility of such moves, but this grand army is entirely different. Clones may well be superior to droids in combat, and surely they will make better police, but warfare demands death. Bloodless victories are anomalous. Soldiers perish even during training exercises; Kayi showed me the statistics for the Ayae. How many human lives were birthed on Kamino and never even lived to see combat?

    If a clone is worth ten droids in combat, then I say build eleven droids. At least then no one dies.

    Even a volunteer army seems as if it would have been superior. The Republic produced the clones, and now it pays for them, but there was no shortage of desperate souls before. The Bucket alone contains enough downtrodden hopefuls to populate a vast army in return for room, board, and a regularly paycheck, and I have seen firsthand many places that are worse across the galaxy. War demands suffering, truly, but why could we not have taken some measure of ill from elsewhere and repurposed it? Why did we create fresh new faces purely for the ax to fall upon?

    This troubles me greatly, and I feel my own perspective is woefully inadequate. I need to talk to understand it. Isoxya and Kayi will know much, I think, but I should find a clone to speak too, one on one. Captain Eights would be far too awkward, but there are clones with medical training. Perhaps this unit has one with who might talk with me. That would even fit my duties, maybe even offer a path to access military medical supplies. I shall have to find out.

    Wandering Star is a canonical crime syndicate active in the Coruscant Underworld. Though not one of the big galaxy-spanning names, it is a significant local presence.

    Clones having difficulty reconciling the problem of a person they mentally put in the ‘Jedi’ category but who does not have a military rank was something that showed up in the most recent batch of TCW episodes with regard to Ahsoka.

    Speaking of TCW, Rex has the memorable line in the final arc emphasizing ‘without the war, we wouldn’t exist.’ As it happens, and as Nema is ruminating upon here without realizing the truth, that’s not actually correct. There is no military need whatsoever for the Republic to have specifically produced a clone army, it was absolutely bursting with volunteers who would have joined up for three meals a day and a paycheck (one of the better bits of Solo, as a film, is how it demonstrates this same dynamic with regard to the Empire). The clones only exist because they allowed Palpatine the means to spring Order 66. The tragedy is boundless.
    Kahara likes this.
  6. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-One – Days after Geonosis One Hundred Thirty-Five
    The CIS invaded Ryloth today. Major Kayi, with whom I have taken to discussing the evening war news, says this represents a very smart move by the Separatists. Though nominally a Republic member, the Twi’lek homeworld has long been heavily influenced if not outright controlled by Hutt enterprises. Kayi’s very awareness of this is testament to how deep-rooted and prevalent the connection goes. Apparently a great many of the routes provided to the GAR by the Hutts are likely to use Ryloth as a transfer point due to its position on the Corellian Run. That means that so long as the Separatists can contest the system the benefits of our freshly struck alliance with the Hutt Clan will be minimized. The Council, it seems, has made the same strategic calculations. Records show master Ima-Gun-Di is stationed there with a clone garrison. He is a veteran warrior with a stalwart reputation, though not one I know personally. I hope the Force grants him strength.

    News of this attack is on everyone’s lips, ironic considering it represents a direct countermove to the results of the widely ignored recent campaigns on Christophsis and Teth. I suspect the difference in underworld public attention is tied to the participants. Though the Christophsians are a genetically distinct population, their planet is treated as simply one of the galaxy’s countless human worlds, and of course the wise citizen does their best to avoid thinking about Hutts overmuch.

    Twi’leks, by contrast, are found everywhere and known to everyone. While demographic estimates on the galaxy wide scale tend to be rather nebulous, regrettably, it is highly probable that Twi’leks represent the galaxy’s second most populous sapient species. Intuitively I believe this is not only true, but that the margin over other highly numerous species is considerable. Found throughout the galaxy at almost every possible position and stratum of society, they are shockingly well known. Generally, if a person knows a member of only one species not their own, it is liable to be a Twi’lek.

    And Ryloth is their homeworld. That too is curious. The planet’s actual native population is quite modest and as such represents only a minute fraction of the total Twi’lek diaspora. I strongly suspect Coruscant, and perhaps the underworld alone, may have a greater number of Twi’lek residents than Ryloth, and the same is likely true of other extremely populous systems such as Denon or Metellos. However, and the anecdotal representation among my patients strongly supports this, all Twi’leks nevertheless identify Ryloth as their homeworld. This remains true even when they have never visited it and most likely never will.

    This measure of solidarity is quite different from the status of most other widespread species whether their homeworld is unknown, as in humans, or known, as in Zabraks. Members of these species tend to view their planet of birth as their homeworld, not some distant orb they have never visited. There are also those species, such as Rodians, who seem to hold to both approaches at once.

    I suppose I find all this fascinating because of the mirror it raises to my own circumstances. Twi’leks are spread across the whole of the galaxy. No world can be said to possess even a plurality of their population and no individual is likely to ever be far from others of her people. Whereas I am not only the sole Rebaigaic on Coruscant, I can reasonably believe I am the only one not on my homeworld at all. Strange that I should be prompted by this news to think about that again. It brings to me a conscious awareness of my headdress I have not felt in some time. My wearing traditional costume was part of the conditions under which I was admitted to the Order. I’ve usually don’t think of it at all. Master Undili and others have similar arrangements in place, and no one among the Jedi ever comments on them. To do so would be impossibly rude, utterly inappropriate for Jedi. On Coruscant itself, surrounded by wild and endlessly varied Coruscanti fashions, the headdress itself is utterly innocuous. Truthfully, I suspect many people on the street consider me to be human, simply wearing skin-spray.

    I wonder what I would think if the Separatists attacked my homeworld? Would it feel personal as it does to the Twi’leks? Or would it simply be another statistic? It is not my home, and truly never was, but I must have some connection even if I cannot name it now. I suppose I will never know, since Rebaig is not notable enough to attract pirates, never mind armies. That is probably best.

    The bit about Hutt Clan hyperspace routes running through Ryloth is speculative, but seems reasonable.

    Twi’leks are in fact the second most common species, behind only humans, in all Star Wars media, by a huge margin (Wookieepedia lists nearly 900 Twi’lek individuals, their nearest competitor is Rodians, are slightly over 600). Presumably this reflects actually galactic demography on at least some level.

    Legends sources list the population of Ryloth at 1.5 billion, of which only 1.1 billion were Twi’leks. While the Disney canon version of Ryloth is considerably more habitable and may consequently have a larger population, it’s unlikely to be more than a single digit billion number. This cannot be more than a tiny fraction of the galactic Twi’lek population and might not even be in the top ten for Twi’lek populations throughout the galaxy (not only Coruscant, but even a place like Nar Shaddaa probably has more Twi’lek inhabitants than Ryloth).

    Some background regarding Nema’s origins as I have conceived of them. She is from a no-account desert planet called Rebaig in the Mid-Rim (I chose to make her origin a desert planet because her costume reminds me of those of Egyptian pharaohs) where the tiny population of her species is confined to the north polar region. Though not technologically primitive her species simply does not practice spaceflight on its own. She was discovered by a Jedi mission to the planet and brought to the temple after negotiations. As a result, her cultural solidarity with her species goes essentially as far as her clothes and no further. She’s been socialized entirely into the mores of the Republic and Jedi Order.
  7. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Note: the following three entries form a sub-arc that is rather, shall we say, on the nose with regard to current events. This was written back in February in a somewhat different context. Also, I feel it is important to stress the response to an outbreak of disease for which there is an extant cure is very different from one without.

    Entry Twenty-Two – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Forty-One

    There has been an outbreak of Nova 13. The virus is dangerous, a respiratory disease that regularly pops up around the galaxy due to the long term viability of the virus particulates in space dust. Thank the Force it is treatable. There has been a vaccine in place for over five hundred years, a triumph of one of my long ago MediCorps predecessors. Coruscant keeps a modest supply on hand to safeguard major spaceports and more can be synthesized easily. As long as we are able to control the spread of the virus and insure rapid vaccination of at risk populations the damage should be minimal.

    Normally that might have presented severe challenges, especially given that the outbreak’s epicenter is the notably lawless Level 1313. The initial patient was almost certainly a smuggler working for the Pyke Syndicate. The current concentration of the outbreak inside two sectors with a large Nikto population serves as implicit confirmation. For the same reason, the Underworld Police are notably hesitant move into the affected area in force in order to establish transit barricades.

    The clones, by contrast, seemingly fear nothing, certainly not any notorious gangsters, and the gentleman at the Municipal Authority in charge of public health emergencies appears perfectly willing to exercise the full scope of wartime emergency powers. He also decided, less helpfully, because it says ‘Jedi’ in front of my name in the medical directory of underworld doctors that I am to coordinate the incident response. This is absolutely ridiculous. I have none of the sort of administrative training and experience needed to coordinate an operation of this magnitude. Unfortunately, I don’t see any reasonable way to refuse the appointment. Certainly no one else has come forward to volunteer.

    Thank the Force for delegation. Prefect Xeril took my com and agreed to handle the law enforcement oversight role after only a modest amount of swearing. He seems willing to coordinate fully with Captain Eights. The Captain, thankfully, has all sorts of training in area security, movement restriction, and transit monitoring, though I wish it did not all come from a course titled ‘occupation methodology.’ Disturbing as the name might be, a quarantine with accompanying mandatory vaccinations is an occupation of a sort. After a modicum of persuasion I was also able to convince the Vice-President of Supply and Distribution for Athakam Medtech, the company that produces the vaccine, to volunteer as vaccination coordinator. This mostly leads me troubleshooting problems and conducting community outreach.

    I hate it, but it is manageable, mostly. I feel worse for Officer Morne, who has found himself pressed into the role of my communications manager. We’ve relocated to a miserable room in the center of the level police headquarters. Nowhere else has sufficient communication equipment available. In between endless comlink conversations and scribbling out notes in an attempt to retain perspective I’ve been searching for a decontamination firm large enough to scour the area and functional enough to actually do the job properly. Fruitless to this point. I may have to discard the idea of local support and pay a premium for a company from thousands of levels up. It’s the government’s money, which seems to be endless, but I still find the idea of frivolity galling. After all, presumably the money comes from taxpayers at some point. Truthfully, prior to the war my impression was ever that the Republic was nearly broke. Certainly the whole formation of the CIS seemed to involve endless complaints regarding taxes and insufficient security spending.

    Now the fiscal resources are presented as functionally endless. I cannot complain, money spent up front to combat the virus aggressively should save money in lost work and expensive treatments though a quick resolution to the plague, but the difference is stark. The medical records clearly reveal that during the Bucket’s last Nova 13 outbreak, 78 years ago, the Senate did nothing. The politicians cited high costs and many were forced to beggar themselves purchasing dubious vaccines on the black market. The death toll reached almost three hundred thousand before the outbreak burned out.

    Myself I will always put lives first, no matter the cost, but this is not a sentiment I expected to find shared at the heights of government. Especially not with regard to the citizens of the Bucket.

    It seems this aggressive response has upset others due to its efficacy. Specifically, the Pyke Syndicate feels undercut in their ability to sell black market vaccine when the health service is giving it away for free. A certain Imperator Marg Krim has called Morne repeatedly and demanded a meeting with me. Morne says that agreeing would be a bad idea. I disagree only partly. The syndicates have significant influence here, and if they felt it necessary to make contact directly rather than feed me a message through Takul this has become a serious matter. However, I am not able to conduct binding diplomacy on my own, nor would I dare meet with this Krim personage on his terms.

    Thankfully, I’ve met at least one diplomat, and I think Major Kayi will be happy to serve as a neutral host. At least these incident coordinator powers are useful for something.


    Nova 13 is an actual disease in Legends canon, appearing as a minor item in the Smuggler plotline for SWTOR.

    The establishment of an inter-agency leader to manage large-scale crisis events is a common government protocol (in the US it is used heavily by FEMA and other disaster response agencies). This incident coordinator position is the role into which Nema has been pressed.

    Athakam Medtech is a canon company.

    How did Palpatine bankroll the Clone Wars is one of the more interesting questions that has not been entirely answered in either version of canon to my knowledge. The Darth Plagueis novel suggests that the Rule of Two Sith simply commanded a vast financial empire and made use of that, but even if the resources were available it's never been clear how he managed to hide such massive outlays. The financial clueless aspect of the Jedi Order probably helped a lot. A few forensic accountants probably could have pegged Palps as a Sith Lord way before Anakin did.

    Marg Krim is of course a canon character. His appearance here predates his canon appearances in Dark Disciple and TCW and, critically, at this point in time Lom Pyke is still alive and Krim is his subordinate. That's why I've placed him on Coruscant and not Oba Diah.
    Kahara likes this.
  8. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 21, 2016
    This is an angle I had never thought of before, mostly because I know very little about forensic accounting, but now that it has entered my awareness, it sounds right.
    Kahara likes this.
  9. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Forensic accounting is mostly the act of reviewing existing accounts materials and looking for fraud and/or tracing links between money and known criminal activity (this is one of the reasons why drug dealers smuggle huge amounts of cash, because all electronic transfers are tracked). In the case of the Clone Wars, the key point would be taking the invoices, receipts, purchase orders and other records from Kamino and Rothana Heavy Engineering (among others) and working backwards to figure out who paid for it all. That money had to come from somewhere (Kuat Drive Yards does not build warships on credit), and the Republic's outstanding pre-war expenditures simply wasn't large enough to support the production of the GAR. The Clone Wars probably increased outlays not by some percentage, but by several times over. That would have been hard to hide. Presumably Palpatine simply bribed and/or mind-controlled the relevant Senate committees and bureaucracies into quashing any sort of detailed investigation, but the Jedi surely could have launched an independent one. But it seems to me it just didn't occur to them to do so. And the more I think about just how isolated from everyday life the overwhelming majority of the Jedi actually were that no longer seems ridiculous.

    And that's kind of a big part of the overall thrust of this story, how Nema, cut off from the traditional Jedi Order support system that would allow her to stay in her comfortable medical researcher bubble, has to build up her own network instead, and the impacts that follow from that.
    Kahara likes this.
  10. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-Three – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Forty Three

    There is a truism, in some societies, that illness afflicts the high and low, rich and poor, alike. As it happens, with sufficient technology joined to resource inequality this ceases to be true. However, even highly advanced air purification systems are unlikely to prevent contracting MSCIADF when one’s community is suffering at pandemic levels. Darnak Selless appears human, most days, and in that capacity serves as a highly valued member of the Republic Diplomatic Corps. On certain other days, when the RDC finds a need for a diplomat of a species not available on staff, he appears otherwise accordingly.

    He was one of the lucky ones. The condition had not progressed far in his body or that of his family prior to detection. He was barely showing symptoms at all. They made a full recovery. His gratitude was, truthfully, unreasonably intense, but the availability of a trained diplomat to assist me is invaluable, and one who can negotiate with the Pyke Syndicate while modeled perfectly as a Pyke and backed by an unimpeachable identity crafted by Senate staff is genuinely hilarious while also having the not insignificant benefit of saving me from actually having to talk to Marg Krim directly.

    Among the well-known species of the galaxy’s criminal underworld, most have at least one trait that explains both their predilection towards criminality and their particular role. Hutts are disgusting and struggle to fit into high society on their merits, but they are masters of dominance games and can afford to be almost endlessly patient. Falleen are almost sociopathic in their ruthlessness, but combine excellent emotional control with pheromone-mediated charisma. The Pykes though, they simply happened to emerge in the ideal location from which to dominate the galactic spice trade and were both greedy and lazy enough to exploit it heavily. I confess that I simply do not like them, as a species. Such prejudices are unfair, and I know I should do my utmost to overcome them, but it is a challenge given that I have yet to meet a single Pyke who was not heavily engaged in the narcotics trade in some fashion. Their hideous industry seems to have wholly enveloped them, and they have lost all else they might have been. Truly, it is a tragedy.

    Marg Krim struggled to deal with Mr. Selless, for in truth he had little to offer but veiled threats, and the diplomat could throw ‘clones’ back at all such crude insinuations. This seemed most effective at impressing upon the syndicate just how circumstances have changed. Irony rears its head again regarding the clones here. They are, to a man, almost comically honorable, a far cry from the ruthless bounty hunter chosen as their base template. Not only does the Republic have an army to utilize for the first time in a thousand years that its leadership is shockingly willing to unleash, it has one almost totally immune to the usual military sins. The Pyke Syndicate was given a very clear message to not become a priority for this new and devastating instrument. In the current crisis that should be easy enough, if they can tamp their greed down far enough to stay out of the way.

    I cannot get much of a read on Pykes, whether through body language or the Force, but Mr. Selless told me that at least for the present the syndicates will step aside. However, he also suggested that over the longer term the criminal element will demand an ‘appropriate’ share in all new expenditures and if they do not receive what they consider their due violence will erupt. I only hope we are ready when the time comes, for I do not see this newly muscular government accepting a compromise.

    For now I will simply take the opportunity to put this aside and return to work. Sick people need medicine. Drug lords can wait in line.


    This passage highlights secondary traits of the clones that are actually very important. Not only are they incredible fighters, they are also literally inhumanly disciplined and honorable. As such they are incredibly well-suited to pursue an anti-corruption agenda because they cannot be bought, blackmailed, or otherwise subverted. This is probably a key reason why the Jedi, who ought to have been extremely suspicious of everything regarding the clones, actually trusted them so easily. For many veteran knights and masters it would have been the first time in their careers dealing with allies who were not in bed with their enemies.

    *Progress Update*
    I just wanted to note, for any potentially interested readers, that as of today I've finished the complete arc of this tale. That is, all fifty-two entries, five insert stories, and the concluding novella (Dr Nema and the Genesis out of Time) are finished in draft form. So this will definitely reach its end. I hope to move ahead with a second piece that covers Nema's ultimate fate and the consequences thereof during RotS after this.
  11. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-Four – Days after Geonosis One Hundred Forty-Seven
    The outbreak is now well contained and on its way to elimination. Despite the inevitable spotting beyond our quarantine zone, for the idea of completely restricting any part of the Bucket is laughable, new regions have been vaccinated via rapid response and the core outbreak zone blanketed. I have even been blessed with a handful of chances to actively participate as a doctor with regard to reformulating the vaccine for a handful of individuals representing species never previously exposed to the virus. The Geranite male was particularly interesting, as the best way to insure the vaccine did not react with the hydron-three gas mix they need to breathe involved rewriting a protein compound extracted from the virus’ coat itself. That was a fine day’s work, an escape from the endless mind-numbing discussions of ‘resource allocation’ that form the heart of an incident coordinators job.

    It was not until today that Mr. Selless advised me to purchase a management droid for this sort of operation. I felt extraordinarily foolish, having missed such an obvious solution. Of course I cannot actually purchase an appropriate droid for myself and it seemed ridiculous to requisition one with the outbreak almost entirely resolved.

    Officer Morne stepped forward and solved the problem through the expedient method of buying a surplus crime scene analysis droid and then just giving it to me outright. It was such a ridiculously gallant gesture, I was completely overwhelmed, and I absolutely gave him a hug that was about three times as tight and five times as long as was proper, which is to say not proper at all.

    Honestly, I have no idea what I’m going to do about that. Especially considering how handsome he actually is under his mask, for a human. The temptation to indulge his crush and engage in some sort of torrid assignation is well…despite it being a truly ridiculous idea I confess its becoming very difficult to ignore.

    I don’t love Morne, not romantically, at least. That helps, a little. He is a friend, and loyal, and I trust him, but I do not think the core relationship will change. It might be fun to sleep with him – actually it would probably be great and would go a long way to pushing down the tide of death – but doing so would surely ruin our friendship and I could not keep working with him afterward. I cannot do that, I need this friendship down here, and I need the support of this man who’s saved my life twice, once in person and once by proxy. Asking Prefect Xeril to assign me another liaison, a different one, is not something I’ll ever have the strength to do. Yet I cannot let matters continue as they are, not indefinitely. The balance is unstable, vulnerable to the moment when we both let our defenses down at the same time and give in to our hormones in a spectacularly stupid fashion.

    By the Force, I wish there was someone I could talk to about this. It is easy to assess that my knowledge of relationship dynamics, such as it is, is woefully insufficient to this mess. A few short-lived flings as a padawan and then medical student are hardly a solid baseline to use in navigating such complexities. Of course, the Jedi Order’s rules generally make that sort of counseling impossible. All of us stumble through stupid little affairs without telling each other. I suppose that causing our relationships to crater in a void of silent inexperience does serve to prevent attachments, but there are certainly consequences. I’m glad psychiatry is not my specialty.

    For now I have a droid, or technically the Jedi Order has a droid that I have assigned to myself indefinitely. Intriguingly, I learned something when I registered this new unit, named Tesso-ISC. It seems the Order actually owns a number of these droids, kept available for use by Jedi Investigators. Less enlightening is that most of the investigators don’t like working with them.

    The crime scene analysis unit is fairly obviously a modified SP-4 Analysis Droid chassis. I’m quite familiar with that model, they’re used extensively in the Archives, and I suspect this one retains almost all the base functionality underneath its investigative programming. I don’t need an investigator, but he can probably be reprogrammed for use as an administrative aide. That’s likely a better use for him anyway. The Underworld Police didn’t put him up for surplus on a whim. His legs are massively damaged and degraded from endless hours marching across duracrete to the point that he limps miserably when trying to walk. He’s also absolutely covered in carbon scoring. Apparently someone shot him with a high-grade ion blaster several times over in a failed effort to erase his hardened case file collection. That evidentiary archive is apparently extremely durable, but the attack scrambled almost everything else. Rather than try to re-imprint such an old and worn down unit from stock the police let him go instead. I can’t blame them, a quick diagnostic suggest he’s permanently lost about fifteen percent of his processor capacity.

    I’m not much good with droids, but I met someone during this incident command sojourn who I think will be able to sort him out easily enough. However, she’s extracted a nasty price in return. Isoxya invited me to a traditional Atsev victory feast, and now I’ve been pranked into agreeing to the invitation. From the way the Stoneweb Runner laughed when I told her I would attend I expect the experience will be harrowing. I have the wretched premonition that I’ve going to have to eat some sort of spidery creature.

    I regret this already.

    Geranites are a canon species based on a brief figure in ROTJ. The hydron-three breathing requirement has been preserved in both versions of canon.

    Crime Scene Analysis droids are canon, one of them was shown in TCW as part of the investigation of the Jedi Temple Bombing. Though it is not established in canon is visually extremely obvious that they share the same chassis as the SP4-analysis droid, which is also canonical.

    When Nema says she doesn’t own Tesso, the Jedi Order does, she’s making an important point about the Jedi with regard to possessions. It is not entirely clear if Jedi actually own well, anything, with even their lightsabers reverting to the custody of the Order upon death. This fits with the monastic nature of the Jedi, but at the same time we do see certain Jedi with prized individual ‘possessions’ such as Starfighters, which suggests that a certain level of informal control exists. Thus, Nema assigning Tesso to her personal use in perpetuity.
    Kahara likes this.
  12. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-Five – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Forty-Nine
    Someday, a day far into the future, I will forgive Isoxya for inviting me to a festive dinner whose primary sustenance consisted of Kinrath legs the attendees were obligated to self-grill over red hot metal spits. A day long after I have forgotten the part where she singled me out in front of everyone and dared me to prove I was actually eating some of it through a drinking game. That darkly awaited day shall also include a complete purge of all memory of the sickly sweet and sour taste of the Kinrath as it went down, or the furious burning sticky pebbled slime texture as it came back up in the middle of the night.

    I can still taste that as I write this. By the Force the memory flashes up my throat and churns my stomach all at once. Technically I should be able to digest Kinrath flesh, if cooked thoroughly, but it seems my stomach has chosen to refute the findings of molecular gastronomy through a most practical demonstration. Strange how the Atsevs, outwardly so similar to human standard, should have such a vastly variant palate.

    In some ways what is worse than the taste is that Isoxya told me she hunted the Kinrath herself, down on Level 998. Apparently the creatures haunt the great hydroponics farms found there used for gas exchange and the production of nutrient paste. I am now forced to confront the fact that a considerable portion of my meals can be traced to an industrial ecology dominated by nightmarish colonial pseudo-spiders. That relaying this information to the Atsevs caused them to cheer as one somehow made it so much worse.

    I have also learned that anyone without access to advanced alcohol-processing ampules to forestall the uptake of spirits into the bloodstream should not drink with the Atsev. Their metabolism can process certain sugar-like alcohols such as erythitol as an apparent adaptation to the unusual ecology of their beehive-cluster homeworld and consequently drink a large amount of it made from fermented arthropod shells. An ordinary human attempting to keep pace will induce alcohol poisoning in just over an hour. It’s quite disappointing actually, since the liquor was somehow surprisingly good.

    Inebriation did not seem to bother the Atsev’s much, aside from inducing a tendency to break into a series of raucous songs in their native tongue. I could not make out much, but a later search suggest their music focuses on the struggle to ‘defend the nest’ from the various deadly predators of their homeworld. This was somewhat ridiculous coming from the throats of a group of mostly middle-aged to elderly engineers a considerable distance diverged from peak fitness. They all managed to somehow participate in a drinking game where the subject hangs by their feet from the ceiling, however, so looks are somewhat deceiving.

    I spoke with Isoxya’s husband for some time during dinner. Nothing like his vigorous and fearsome wife, this amicably jovial engineer managed to completely exhaust my knowledge of lightsaber construction with a series of piercing questions. He seemed both fascinated and frustrated by the central function of the Khyber crystal within. He even offered, having drunk a considerable amount, such a potent resource ought to be put to a better use than ‘laser swords.’

    Partly that sentiment is understandable. There probably are uses for the crystals with greater societal utility than that of a lightsaber, but history suggests that in the past attempts to harness them in such ways led to the production of terrible world-shattering weaponry. Perhaps it is better that such power be divided up rather than combined.


    Kinrath are the vaguely spider-like creatures that appear on Dantooine and Kashyyk in KOTOR I.

    Erythitol is a total real form of sugar-alcohol used as a non-sugar sweetener. It can’t get you drunk, but a further fermented version that would include ethanol as well could. Atsev’s actively metabolize these substances and therefore avoid devastating alcohol poisoning as a consequence.

    Harnessing Khyber crystals for non-lightsaber use most notably led to the Death Star. So yeah, messing about with them is maybe not a good idea.
    Kahara likes this.
  13. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Note: The short story "Dr Nema and the Pale Mist" takes place between the previous diary entry and this one. If you are reading the whole interconnected tale it is suggested that you read that story prior to continuing.

    Entry Twenty-Six – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Fifty-Six

    Force preserve me, but I truly hope the next after-action report does not mandate yet another detailed description of the injuries I incurred. How do the knights manage it? Combat training goes far, no doubt, but lightsabers are poorly suited to block shrapnel or shockwaves. Perhaps they can blanket themselves using the Force, but I have never thought of that technique as sufficient to properly impede the devastation advanced weapons are capable of producing.

    Truthfully I do not understand. Perhaps it is merely denial. If the warrior’s sentiment is shared between Jedi Knight and Stoneweb Runner then I can begin to grasp the method, and the deception. Isoxya reported herself uninjured following this brutal altercation, despite the obvious evidence of the Yellow’s blows in the form of no less than six holes in her armor.

    I now suspect many such glancing strikes, minor scratches, and serious soft-tissue bruises go unreported. This seems particularly likely given how few of my fellows seem to compose their own after action reports. Jedi Council debriefings have long been handled informally, with all involved trusting to the Force rather than dry verbiage. The new duty imposed by military rank has apparently been largely co-opted by the clones. Captain Eights offered to write my report, even though he was not present for any portion of the incident and his subordinates only witnessed the closing moments. He seemed almost disappointed when I insisted on producing it myself.

    I am glad I insisted. The assembly of that dry, miserable document served to anchor my thoughts at last. It also adjusted my understanding. We did win a victory, one far more substantial than my first impression indicated. They were producing contact biots in bulk, quantities suitable for a possible mass attack, not simply another test. Morne estimates that we set their development back by several months at minimum, and I cannot fault his math. That will help. My report has been appended to a request for enhancements to the underworld surveillance network and utility monitoring structures, including all airflow functions. By the time they are ready to attack again there will be a warning system in place.

    Or at least I can tell myself that. It offers some measure of comfort against the warped blackness I see whenever I close my eyes. Something exists on the opposite side of this, and I believe it knows about me now. A Jedi should not retain fear, but I confess I am terrified of this thing. I wish I truly understood what was happening, why this is unfolding.

    Morne spoke to Xeril and arranged to allow me to observe the interrogation of the two captured workers and suggest any questions I felt appropriate. Police interrogation is a slow, grim process I would have preferred not to see. Laws were obeyed, but persistent, repeated questioning to break all resistance down and lead to a blubbering confession does not make for pleasant viewing.

    Regrettably the workers knew almost nothing, and I do not think they withheld anything in the end. They were committed Separatists, of course, but very low in the power structure. Their recruiter remained anonymous and their on-site superior was a modified protocol droid. They simply followed pre-set instructions and worked to maintain conditions within set boundaries. They had no knowledge of what the overall process actually did. Their droid supervisor self-destructed quite completely. It left no clues behind.

    I am beginning to wonder whether the source of the YH-lifeforms, which I suspect is linked to the horrid black-and-yellow thing hiding past the edges of my vision, is even properly part of the CIS. Perhaps it is something far stranger, allied to them to serve a private interest. Certainly the Separatists would not turn down a potential source of devastating bioweapons. Despite the laws of war they have not hesitated to develop and deploy such materials elsewhere, though they have been much more conventional varieties. I wonder if they truly understand the full scope of what they have unleased.

    I know I do not.

    Progress on the research front remains regrettably limited, and this time I am directly responsible. By blasting apart the central tank I ruined the production environment. Everything died; nothing but small quantities of decaying biots could be recovered. Understanding these lifeforms represents an unsurpassed challenge, one I am ill-equipped to tackle. I fear that it will not be solved in time, or worse that the being on the opposite side will solve us instead. What terrors it could unleash then I can barely conceive, but they will be dreadful.

    I would submit as evidence for both the Jedi Order’s denial of injury and their lack of proper after-action reporting, Revenge of the Sith, specifically how Anakin and Obi-Wan just sort of walk off after the big rescue of the Chancellor from Dooku and Grievous like they just got back from a light lunch. Of course, this was yet another weakness of the Jedi Order that Palpatine was able to use against them, because if the clones were writing all the reporting – which seems logical – Palpatine could censor the official record while the war was going on without the Jedi Order even aware of it. Nema writing her own reports fits in with the very existence of this extremely lengthy diary in the first place.

    Separatist use of biological weapons in the Clone Wars is well-established in numerous sources in both versions of canon, perhaps most famously in the Blue Shadow Virus plot.
  14. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-Seven – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Fifty-Eight
    Fallout continues to emerge from the production facility raid. Unexpectedly, some of it has been positive. Officer Morne was promoted to Sergeant today during a brief ceremony. Apparently this sort of thing violates standard procedures for police promotions, but Clone Captain Eights pushed hard for it in order for Morne to have the ability to properly interface between me and his men. I am grateful for this, and not only because Morne surely deserves the recognition. Though it represents a personal weakness, I am simply more comfortable working alongside him than the clones. I cannot say exactly why, though perhaps it is their manufactured nature, given the foe that has emerged here in the Bucket.

    The Kaminoans took a man and produced copies of him that became themselves individual persons, but the existence of the Yellows has fostered in me a terrible revelation. They need not have done so. Humanoid-shaped warriors lacking sapience could be generated in their vats, terrible warbeasts in the shape of people. An illogical move, of course, brainless soldiers are of little use, but it is hard not to see the clones as machines rather than people. It is unworthy, both of myself and doubly so for them, but that has not stopped me from keeping them at arm’s length.

    Morne’s promotion has not resulted in a reassignment. I am glad of this, perhaps too much. The flutters I feel during his daily visits are wildly inappropriate, I am not so foolish as to miss that. At the same time, I depend upon his friendship. Without his support I would feel a veritable prisoner in my clinic, unable to take essential actions.

    I have arranged for Lia to repair my lightsaber. That breaks certain rules, but I’d rather not let the Council know the true extent of the damage. I cannot shake the terrifying premonition that they might ask for it back. Logically I know this to be dreadfully unlikely, but I also know I shall never properly dispel that fear. How hard this is, the desperate desire to retain a precious possession I cannot truly claim as my own; cannot feel I rightly earned.

    Lia will be discrete I am sure, and she has access to all the correct materials to rebuild it identical to the previous design. The crystal is undamaged. The rest is simply a mundane assembly job. A droid could do it. The task should not take more than a day. Hopefully when I get it back it will still feel the same. I fear that too.

    Intellectually it seems so very strange that in less than half a year I have attached myself to this peculiar network of underworld residents. I never formed close bonds on work deployments before. Those jobs were all brief in nature, and tightly focused on a specific task, while my service here has been far more open-ended. I suspect that contributes heavily. Additionally, previous efforts were always sponsored. Some company or medical institution would pull together a team and supply its own infrastructure. It was all too easy to throw myself into work, whereas here I have had to build everything from the beginning.

    Perhaps it is nothing more than that, or perhaps the war really has changed everything. News continues to drip down of great battles fought and massive sieges begun. Casualties mount daily, and while the majority of the fallen are clones recorded by their operating numbers, the list of allied officers grows alongside them. The roll of fallen Jedi also expands steadily.

    The heart of the Order’s losses are in my age cohort. Veteran knights and younger masters, many working on a second or third padawan, field the heaviest blows. They stand upon the frontlines in the Outer Rim, battling with the core forces of the droid armies day after day. Some have fallen to swarms of blaster fire or the overwhelming power of artillery, but the majority of the losses come in fleet combat. All too many Jedi have perished in the death throes of their command vessels, unable to reach escape pods in time. No amount of combat skill can spare a Jedi from such immense detonations. Already I have lost several comrades I knew as initiates. I mourn them, though the grief feels distant now, as if I was separated from their path long ago.

    And of course I was. Perhaps that is for the best. May the Force be with them.

    As yet the ranks of the Medical Corps have not been equally denuded. Grievous, horrifically, does not respect the sanctity of medical outposts or vessels as the laws war demand, but the Republic still places such facilities well back from the front and takes great care to protect them. So long as they are not swept up in major routs my colleagues should enjoy relative safety. I hope this remains true. Even the handful of names on that list hurt dreadfully.

    I cannot help but wonder what will happen to the Order when the war ends. How many of us will be left? I hope the Council has increased recruitment efforts substantially. I suppose I should take the time to do my part on that front myself. Many of the species found here in the lower levels have not produced a Jedi in centuries, despite significant numbers. Maybe the inspirational efforts of wartime heroes will change that. We could use additional hands in the years to come.

    Nema’s speculation as to the nature of Jedi casualties is largely my own. Jedi are unlikely to die in combat with droids unless completely enveloped (as at Geonosis when they foolishly charged into the middle of a literal arena), and the clones are tactically adept enough that such massive failures should be rather rare on the battlefield. However, anyone can get blown up when their ship suffers a catastrophic detonation.

    With regard to age cohort, for the purposes of this story Nema is forty years old (the same age that her voice actress, Catherine Taber was when I began this story), meaning that she’s been active in the Medical Corps for just under twenty years. She failed the Jedi Trials at seventeen, but spent five years in university and medical school after that. As a result, her peers are mostly well-established in the Order in their various roles and on the front lines. For reference, she’s five years older than Obi-Wan.
  15. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-Eight – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Sixty-Eight

    After much dithering, favor trading, and outright vote-buying the Senate Committee for Wartime Development finally completed their Phase One plan for the Core, Coruscant included. The various news outlets have almost universally condemned the Senate’s process and many have circulated an unconfirmed report that the final plan only reached approval following an ultimatum from the Chancellor. This seems at least possible. I have read through some portions of the Coruscant-related sections and they appear sloppy, unrefined, and filled with unedited droid-written legalese.

    The plan, hurried as is it, also takes the path of least political resistance at the expense of efficacy or wisdom. Here on Coruscant the overwhelming majority of sites targeted for new construction are currently held by squatters or owned by members of species primarily aligned with the Separatists. The former have no political support, and the later have lost theirs due to their association with the hated enemy.

    With the law finally passed and funds duly appropriated the various contracted construction firms wasted no time. The law offers bonuses for speed and they are eager to claim them. Within hours of ratification plots were cordoned off and demolition droids dispatched. Perhaps this rapid deployment went well near the surface, but here in the Bucket the local residents registered their displeasure at these sudden seizures and evictions, many of which came utterly without warning.

    They were numerous and violent.

    There has been rioting all evening, and not of the mild sort. It has been very bad. The police, surprised by the sudden passage of the law, were unprepared. No units were pre-positioned. By the time officers could be summoned and assembled into emergency details it was far too late. Fires rage still across huge swathes of neglected sectors as the Underworld Police refuse to storm barricades or attempt to disperse organized and armed gangs and militias. I do not blame them, many of their opponents have equal or superior armament, and the number of clones available is nowhere near sufficient to begin to grapple with this.

    I spent all evening out in the chaos, treating the injured on both sides of this spontaneous struggle. I should be sleeping, but there will be no rest tonight. I cannot watch this place, my home now, tear itself apart. Nor can I reconcile myself to the part I have played. Geranite, Kage, Tassia, these three species acquired the official ‘Separatist-aligned’ affiliation because of actions I took personally. Over three-quarters of their property is scheduled for redevelopment, and compensation for such seizures is woefully insufficient; with values calculated using ancient surveys rather than reflecting the current market.

    They are being robbed, they are fully aware of it, and they already despise the Republic. Armed resistance was almost inevitable. The storm is growing fast, and many are being drawn to one side or the other.

    I worry for Lia. That is self-centered of me, but of those who live here that I call friend she is at the greatest risk. The Stegocep homeworld joined the CIS and one of their number serves in its sham senate. I believe their diaspora, much of which is here, as is common for so many species, remains deeply divided. Lia’s residence has not been targeted for redevelopment, not yet, but I do not know if that will sustain. Many Stegocep fighters joined the barricades in solidarity with others, and I suspect Phase Two will treat them harshly.

    No part of me expects this desperate resistance to succeed. The rioters have taken control of large areas, but the police have contained them for now. None of the Bucket’s true powers have backed the protesters. The Syndicates are too busy finding their own ways to leech into this stream of new money, a position shared by the bureaucracy. Independent military powers such as the Ayae have not been roused, for the plan ignores them. Even the better armed Separatist affiliates such as the Tassias or Koorivars have not committed the balance of the resources the police believe they have in hiding. Whatever influence Dooku retains in the underworld he has not yet summoned it to battle.

    The rioters will be broken. All know this, it is a matter of dreadful inevitability that hangs down over all. For now the only question is who will do it. I do not think it will be the police. Perhaps the Chancellor will dispatch clones, or maybe the construction corporations will pool their resources and hire mercenaries. Better if it is the latter, if anything can be said to be better in this wretched circumstance. Frightful as they are, the clones are good men and startlingly innocent in some ways. This failure is not one that should be forced up them to mop up.


    Nema's point about the Stegocep diaspora actually holds true for many species. The structure of hyperspace lanes and corresponding Republic expansion is such that while it pushes human settler populations outward toward the Rim it draws non-human emigrants back in toward the core. This parallels how rural development programs might send huge numbers of immigrants out into the countryside even as the current residents of those regions retreat toward major cities. Coruscant, because it is located where the hyperlanes stop, has a much larger and more diverse populace as a consequence compared to other extreme-populous Core Worlds.
  16. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Twenty-Nine – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Seventy-One

    The newsfeeds are calling it ‘The Bucket Brawl.’ A ludicrous title, suitable for the boisterous drunken revelry following the planetary shockball championship not four solid days of armed riots. Thousands have died, injuries reach into the millions, and the amount of property damage is positively immense, especially given that many of the rioters turned to looting in the final stage before the mercenaries moved in.

    That it was mercenaries, and not clones, is actually something of a surprise. The various contract holders originally lobbied the Senate hard for on-planet GAR units to end this ‘seditious sabotage’ as they called it, but the exigencies of war prevented it. Apparently some mysterious Separatist weapon has claimed a frightful toll out in the Rim, whole fleet units annihilated without a trace. Additional forces have been dispatched from Coruscant to prevent the development of a gap in critical deployments. No units were left to conduct large-scale riot suppression. Consequently the contractors assembled their security forces from other sources.

    And so we are witness to the foul fruit of the Republic’s alliance with the Hutt Clan. Thousands of Jilruans, Klaatonians, Nitkos, Weequays, and other slave warriors either descended upon the lower levels or emerged from their hidden refugia within, gathered into combat groups, and conducted a brutal structure by structure purge of all target areas. Motivated only by profit and trained by cruelty, they in turn looted anything of value remaining and smashed the rest. It was the largest assembly of Hutt-backed military force on Coruscant in recorded history.

    Prefect Xeril, Force be with him always, made a stand I shall never forget. He ordered the underworld police to demand all sapient beings taken by these savage legions remanded to police custody, and when a group of Jilruans dared to test his resolve he called Major Kayi for heavy fire support himself. The Hutt Clan understands this sort of ritual challenge. They backed down when the Ayae arrived on their combat speeders. It will never be known how many died in those fire-ravaged streets behind the barricades, but I do know that none of those who came out ended up in slavery to the Hutts. A small victory, but in this dark moment even the little wins count immeasurably.

    Many questions yet hang over those who have lost their homes. Local jails lack the ability to hold all but the most egregious offenders, and barely even those after such a prolonged paroxysm of outrage. Others have simply been treated in field triage centers such as the one I currently occupy and handed citations for hefty fines before being sent on their way. I suspect hardly any of those shall ever be paid. The construction contractors stopped paying out government rate property compensation once the rioting began and no one expects them to resume. Those who did not accept the insufficient sums offered in the initial round are now homeless and destitute. Many have nothing but the clothes on their backs. There are millions, perhaps tens of millions, of them; a crisis almost impossible to fathom.

    Xeril, speaking on behalf of a council of senior police officers and municipal officials, has asked me to lead a delegation to the Senate and request funding for war relief. Of course I agreed, though I am so tired I can barely stand, and though I have little confidence in such an effort. Some means must be found to help these displaced persons. Failure will only mean more rioting, more suffering. As it is many are already afflicted from the complications of smoke inhalation and toxic shock from the combustion of hazardous materials. I fear another outbreak of respiratory disease if treatments cannot be conducted. These emergency field centers have helped, but it’s not enough, and those now burdened by fines they cannot pay will avoid contact with official medcenters. A solution must exist, but my mind cannot find it now.

    I hope the morning will bring answers.


    The 'mysterious Separatist weapon' Nema refers to here is actually the Malevolence, as this is happening concurrently with it running around the Outer Rim blowing up fleets.

    The comment about evading medical centers at the end is based on he assumption that the Republic does not have anything resembling universal healthcare, which seems to be the case from all available context.
  17. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Thirty – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Seventy-Three
    Senator Bana Breemu at least remembered me, so I suppose my presence in the delegation counted for something. The rest of the subcommittee seemed blithely disinterested in paying serious attention to our requests. I suspect none among them have ever even visited the Bucket, or spent any significant time in the underworld at all, save perhaps the more expensive class of brothels. They were wholly incapable of imagining the true scope of the struggle, and their eyes glazed over when presented with actual statistics.

    Except, hideously, Senator Lott Dod. The Trade Federation representative – I remain distinctly confused as to why he is in the Senate at all and not languishing in some miserable cell – has a very good grasp of numbers. His goals are unclear to me, but I can state quite definitely that holding on to every last credit he can is among them. Senator Breemu, perhaps out of recognition that at least one Jedi was witness to this, proposed that funds earmarked for eminent domain compensation that were not spent due to the rioting be repurposed for relief efforts instead. Though the amount in question could not possibly have met the needs of the displaced, I will admit that this was at least a good faith proposal and with the funds already appropriated could have been used to bring real and significant relief to the most hard pressed.

    Lott Dod countered by arguing that the contractors had been forced to spend all of those appropriations to hire mercenaries instead, and therefore the funds had already been used. He then spun out some long and complicated economic fiction I could not follow but that many Senators apparently found convincing. Senator Breemu’s motion was voted down overwhelmingly.

    It is strange. While in recent struggles with YH-lifeforms or battling disease on the streets I have often felt terrible fear and great anger, but not once have I felt the spike of contemptuous rage I did then. I wanted nothing more than to cave in Lott Dod’s skull during that moment. Even now, hours stale, the echo of that cold fury, and the dark tendrils it summoned, remains close.

    I have never much struggled with the temptations of the dark side in the past. My master told me I was born a healer, not a warrior, and called it a blessing, for the dark cannot truly restore. I believe that, but it did not save me from a step toward that forbidden path today. I did not act on it, the hideous stupidity attached to striking at the Senator of the Trade Federation during open debate was more than enough to dissuade any rashness, but it scares me how far the corruption of just one person could push me. Maybe the neutrality of the Trade Federation is true and not simply legal fiction, though I do not believe that. Even so, the merciless rejection of the least charitable impulse surely ought to be turpitude worthy of removal all on its own.

    In the end we walked away from the Senate almost empty-handed. The committee did approve a one-time outlay to recoup the expenses incurred by the underworld police in order to contain the rioting, and I managed to secure an equally pitiable donation of medical supplies from Galactic City stockpiles to treat conflagration victims. All just enough to let the Senators claim they took action.

    Unexpectedly the hardest moment of all came when we left the Senate and were promptly surrounded by the press. All of the other delegates from the Bucket gave fairly bland statements expressing their disappointments. What I should have expected, but somehow caught me completely by surprise, were the unceasing attempts to interview me. HoloNet News itself shoved a holocam in my face.

    Jedi do not express political opinions, do not take sides in Senate debates, and members of the Service Corps certainly do not speak their minds on non-technical matters. During the session I restricted all testimony to purely factual information; answered questions of need, scale, and scope. The offer to speak out, to address the entire galaxy, was a sandstorm to the face.

    To say nothing, to refuse all comment, that might well be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It was so much easier to jump into a pool of toxic metals. I managed only to whisper “no comment.” Then I turned to stone. It hurts. It still hurts so much. Was it right? Was it really?

    There was nothing dark and cold about my desire to excoriate Lott Dod’s greed. No whispers of the dark side told me to plead with the luxurious grandeur of Galactic City for some small kindness for those below. The words I swallow up might have been impolite, inopportune, and naïve, but they were righteous. If I were just a doctor I could have spoken them.

    But if I were just a doctor I would not have been there.

    Is that enough to mandate silence? Maybe when I run out of tears I will know.
  18. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Entry Thirty-One – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Seventy-Five
    Unlike the Senate, the Municipal Authority cannot simply ignore millions of internally displaced citizens, not when the problem spreads throughout the underworld and creeps all the way upward into the underdeveloped sections of Galactic City. The Bucket may have rioted the hardest, but there was widespread unrest on every level. The bureaucracy struggles with the task of managing an ever-expanding number of homeless people. The official estimate for the Phase One plan is that nearly two billion person-units worth of housing will be erased by redevelopment, but this number does not include any of the territory currently occupied by unofficial housing or true squatters in non-residential environments. The reality is likely double the estimate. To the Senate that is merely a number, but down here the problem takes on a tangible form.

    In desperation, the Municipal Authority has partnered with the GAR Logistical Corps and hacked together an emergency relocation plan. Huge numbers of people will be transported, at government expense, to priority resettlement zones. I had Tesso analyze the plan for me, I’ve been too busy treating smoke inhalation cases with exotic breathing apparatus to study such materials. He says that most of these resettlement locations are off-world, mostly on industrially or strategically important planets liberated from the Separatists. The actual purpose is quite clear. This is no charitable enterprise. It is a back-door draft measure to acquire industrial labor to support the war effort.

    This plan discomforts me, and not simply due to the questionable ethics of the policy. Sending individuals to live on new biospheres is always risky, and most of the underworld’s residents have not lived one second of their lives surrounded by a functional ecology. Many are shockingly unaware of basic concepts like forests or grasslands. Even without considering the inevitable local resistance to this maneuver this plan presents serious difficulties.

    Then there is the question of what happens when the war comes to an end. Weapons production and fortification development are certainly active industries now, but what happens when peace returns? Will all these people be stranded on dying worlds?

    Discussion among my patients suggests little appetite for this plan. The people of the Bucket view this artificial realm of yellow durasteel as their home, and call themselves Coruscanti. Their idea of upward mobility is startlingly literal. They dream of moving upwards, one level at a time, never of leaving the planet. Most among them have never seen the stars – even from the lower portions of Galactic City they are not visible – and have only an abstract conception of the existence of other planets. I have, by myself, visited more worlds than whole communities of millions.

    The Municipal Authority will gather up only the utterly desperate and totally broken. The rest will evade this offer and instead burrow deeper into the cracks and crevices of the underworld and wait for a day of improvement that never comes. It will take blasters and binders to haul them out. I hope it does not come to that.

    Somehow I must find a way to improve conditions down here. A vaccine remains my best hope, but perhaps there is something else. I have set Tesso to building a database of medical needs compared against treatment costs. Perhaps it will crack open some unexpected alternative.

    Maybe, maybe, when this development plan completes, things will change for the better as we all hoped. Morne says the utility boards are seeking a massive increase in inspectors, to insure this new work is tied to long-term improvements in core infrastructure. That seems a good idea. I do not trust these megacorporations and their contractors, not anymore. Of course, such hopes are thin. I do not think they have enough money either. It seems that is always the case. Force send another path opens.

    With regard to Nema’s travel estimate, it is my general viewpoint that the bulk of the GFFA populace is simply not very mobile. Space travel is a privilege of the rich or a duty of the military and the merchant marine and most people never leave their home planets save due to massive upheaval.
  19. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Note: So, um, apparently I miscounted my production and doubled-up Entry Thirty-Two. I have re-numbered accordingly, but in order to maintain the overall posting schedule, I'm putting up a double feature today.

    Entry Thirty-Two – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Eighty-Five
    The Bucket is not without defenses against outside invasion. A unique environment with a suite of specific traits to match the environmental idiosyncrasies of any planet, it offers none of the sterile security a newcomer might expect to find in a fully closed system. The clones, who practically sleep in their armor and observe strict hygiene discipline, protected themselves against this. The Hutt Clan mercenaries did not take such pains.

    Now they are sick. This is not surprising, all the major warrior species employed by the Hutts are native to arid environments, while the Bucket is often wretchedly humid. This constant is one I am intimately familiar with myself – I outfitted my room with a dehumidifier after only three days. The new arrivals are extremely vulnerable to a wide variety of plagues and parasites that they find completely unfamiliar and they have already begun to exhaust such medical supplies as they carried with them.

    I do not think they expected a prolonged deployment, but conflict has persisted along the edges of the redevelopment zones, and the brand new construction machinery, tools, and droids brought down from the surface presents an irresistible target to thieves. Several airspeeder convoys have been subjected to coordinated hijacking, millions of credits worth of supplies seized at a stroke. It is almost amusing, in a dark and deranged way, to watch even the Hutts underestimate the dangers of the underworld. Inter-syndicate rivalries further exacerbate this chaos. Black Sun is furious that they did not receive these lucrative security contracts, the Pykes lament that the Hutts’ warriors, being slaves, have no discretionary income to waste in their vice dens, and Wandering Star’s arms merchants deeply desired to unload their stockpiles of battlefield salvage on new commissioned security officers. Even many underworld police are grumbling. Apparently crowd control and guard duty are lucrative side jobs and they feel deprived of the extra income.

    The leaders of the Hutt Clan are anything but fools. They have purchased a huge amount of medicine from the Pykes and have acquired weapons from Wandering Star that they then gave to locals with grievances against Black Sun. This has reduced the pressure on their mercenaries while keeping violence levels high and the police occupied. Of course, none of this profit protection has made life any better or reduced local suffering. After all, if not for constant complaints from patients I would never understand the issues.

    Somehow this complex intrigue has seen me wrapped up within its threads as well. The Miscaf fungus is a major source of illness among the newly arrived mercenaries, and while treatments for Niktos and Weequays are well established, those for others such as Nimbanels and Vodras are poorly known and have not been previously performed using the simplified drug regimen currently available. The Hutts, to my general amazement, sought out my help to resolve this impasse. Grubba the Hutt actually visited my clinic in person, one of the nephews of Jabba himself came to meet with me. Lia had a camera drone capture the whole thing, just to prove that it happened.

    Of course I will do all I can to aid those afflicted. Hutt mercenaries or not, no one deserves to have treatment withheld, and few in the service of the kajidics came to that place by choice. Besides, any opportunity to study the fungus is useful. However, the Hutt Clan shall not receive my services for free, most assuredly not. I am not inclined to generosity towards malevolent gangsters, and besides, failure to assert oneself in negotiations with a Hutt costs all respect. Nothing must be given among them, all must be taken. It is a foul philosophy, but those are the terms of their culture and I do not have the strength to avoid playing their game.

    Mr. Selless negotiated a suitable level of compensation. Not to me, of course, but in the form of an agreement. Their mercenaries will escort medical droids on charitable missions throughout the worst sections of the Bucket. A small benefit, but every credit’s worth of effort liberated from them is a victory of its own.

    The bit about all major Hutt Clan warrior species being native to arid environments is, so far as I can tell, true to canon. This is kind of ironic, given that Hutts themselves seem to prefer swampy, humid conditions.

    Grubba the Hutt is actually a canon character (really), and is legitimately established as Jabba’s nephew. He seems like the kind of person to send on a mission of this nature.

    Entry Thirty-Three – Days after Geonosis, One Hundred Ninety-One
    There is no ignorance, there is knowledge, though I confess that the path to understanding is mysterious and strange. Truly the ways of the Force are beyond our limited understanding. How else can I explain an agreement with the Hutts leading me to a true breakthrough? Such a circuitous and bizarre path, I need to record it or lose the thread.

    Among the Hutt mercenaries there is a small cadre of Rybet females, a peculiarity in its own right as their species hates the Hutts. I suspect they were enslaved to pay a debt of some kind. The entire group came down with a fungal affliction of the extremities and their leaders, thinking it was Miscaf, sent them to me for examination. Their diagnosis was wrong, the actual pathogen was mundane and easily treated with common pills, but there was a considerable amount of visual similarity. The far more important discovery is that Rybets are totally immune to Miscaf.

    Not one of the mercenaries, despite extreme exposure levels and high spore counts on their membranes, displays the slightest degree of infection. I was able to isolate the cause through a test exposure of Miscaf spores to Rybet mucosal secretions. A series of specialized nucleic acids generated as part of the exceedingly complicated Rybet mating and developmental cycle serves as a natural transcription blocker for one of the fungus’ essential growth operons. Exposure to Rybet mucus causes the fungus to go completely dormant. It must be a natural adaptation keyed off some similar organism from the Rybet homeworld.

    Tesso’s search of the medical literature suggests that this is the first documented encounter between the two species. Though Rybets are cosmopolitan, they dislike underground environments and are almost totally absent from the underworld. Further, if they had not arrived alongside the vulnerable desert-bred mercenaries there would have been no reason to suspect Miscaf. The chances of this specific connection are too low to consider chance. It must be the Force at work.

    This is the essential piece I needed. I am certain of it. This mysterious nucleotide holds the key to a vaccine. An immense amount of work remains, but I truly believe there is a solution now. It is a good day.

    Strange how something so small can open the door to such a grand possibility. It has been one setback after another during this war, a terrible struggle just to maintain already miserable circumstances. Finally I have a chance to make real progress, to make things better here. To reclaim some hope from all the horrors.

    I almost do not recall how to feel optimistic anymore. That was a failure of my own, I see. I let the darkness seep inside, but I will keep going and I will succeed. No matter how strange the allies needed or the steps along the path.