Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ewok_Slayer, Jan 9, 2015.
Perfect plans and loved the interactions
Good update! And it's a minor thing, but great work on making the hotel room feel "real." I've been in enough that your description of their actions and locations in the room threw me right into the scene. Marvelous job.
Completely agree with Revanfan -- the description of the hotel room was essential to create the atmosphere for this scene (and I loved that "beginning of a tasteless joke" ) It's interesting to see how I-Five is slowly adjusting to the fact that he's a droid. And with that woman walking freely around town, the mystery deepens. I'll be waiting eagerly for the next update!
Great chapter! I liked seeing Sacha's sneaky side -- her expertise in getting into the surveillance recordings from the presets that no one bothers to change seems like such a realistic touch. People don't really question the technology they work with a lot of the time -- I know there's a world of stuff that I don't know about the things I use every day. No reason it wouldn't be the same for people in a galaxy far, far away.
Also liked this little scene of the crew -- it just seems like a really cute expression of how they're all trying to adapt, the others to I-Five's identity crisis and him to "yeah, okay, I'm a droid -- though I'm not sure I like it."
Interesting to see the missing woman wandering around, apparently unaccompanied by any humans -- captors or otherwise. The mystery deepens. Beginning to wonder if this situation is as simple as it first appeared (fairly predictable slavers), or if something else is going on. Although I have no idea what that something might be! Intriguing. Liked their discussion on how to approach Ksassa; it shows the effectiveness of their teamwork that they're able to assess the risks and benefits of different ideas and come to a workable decision. They've grown a lot as a crew.
Thanks everybody for waiting for this update. It is not exactly how I want it, but I can't delay much longer and I doubt I will have time to make things perfect. DRL has kept me busy. Nothing horribly bad, just college administrators irritating me.
Plus it gives me a chance to get I-Five and Magash alone.
Thanks. I hate writing scenery, but I have travelled enough to know most hotel rooms look the same. I should have had them open the desk drawer and find the GFFA version of the Gideon Bible.
I feel bad for I-Five, but you know you have to put your hero into a bad place to make plot tension. And he really isn't it too bad a place. He gets to hang with Magash.
Thanks. I watched a news report on nanny cams that hook to the internet and the owner's manual says to change the password, but people don't. There was a website up that streamed all of the unprotected nanny cams. You could see babies all over the USA. The website developer said it wasn't made to snoop on people but to give everybody a wake up call. I was shocked that those images were easily accessible.
This group of friends have grown together. They don't do stupid suicidal stuff as much. I think they learned their lesson. Of course now they are not with Whiplash or the Rangers so they don't need to risk their lives as much.
Thanks everybody for reading.
We rushed downstairs and caught our airtaxi. A blurry Phindian driver turned to us and said in broken basic, “Where to?”
I put my comlink near my face and whispered. “Do you have a place for us to go Sacha?”
“Tenth and Highroad Avenue,” she responded.
I gave the driver the destination and turned to Magash. “Let’s slave our wireless earpieces to my comlink. This way we can both hear what Sacha says and it won’t be so conspicuous when we talk to her.”
Magash nodded as she pulled a small earbud out of her jacket pocket and keyed it to my comlink frequency. I did the same and pushed the device into my ear. It is noticeable, but everybody has them nowadays. I did a communications check with Sacha to ensure everything was working properly.
“Sacha, you do have a location of the woman?”
In my ear I heard her reply. “She heading toward the location I gave you. She is still about two blocks away. When you get to the intersection walk south and you should intercept her. She’s on the east side of the street.”
“Got it.” I broke contact and turned to Magash. “Did you hear that?”
She nodded. “As we make our approach let me initiate conversation. I believe she will be less intimidated that way and if she is monitored another woman approaching might not trigger an alarm.”
“Okay,” I whispered as the gravity of the situation began to sink in. “What happens if she tells us she’s in jeopardy? What if she’s being monitored? Some slavers put explosives in their captives’ body for remote detonation. That might explain why she is moving around free.”
“That is a concern.” Magash turned to me and smiled slightly. “But I have confidence that together we can handle any situation thrown our way. We make a good team.”
I felt my face warm at that compliment. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about just the two of us or our entire group. Before I could get a clarification the air speeder swooped down to the surface street and landed with a jolt. The dour faced Phindian turned towards us. “Ten credits.”
We handed him the proper amount of credit chips and exited the vehicle. I touched my earpiece activating the small microphone. “Sacha, we are heading south.”
“We see you in the live feed. She is heading your way. You should see her soon.”
The sidewalk wasn’t too crowded in his area and within minutes we spotted the human female strolling about and window-shopping. When she was almost upon us Magash broke away from me and put on the most amazing performance. She made a very out of character girlish squeal of delight as she waved to the woman enthusiastically. “Ksassa!” she shouted as she quickly approached the lady. “I haven’t seen you since you left Svang. How are you?”
By now I have caught up with the two. The woman looked positively confused. “You have me mixed up with somebody else. My name is Genna Tova.”
Magash’s hand flew up to her mouth to muffle a fake gasp of embarrassment. “I am so sorry. You two could be twins.” She reached back towards me and locked her arm in mine as she pulled me next to her. “Honey doesn’t she look exactly like Ksassa Lengrada?”
I looked the woman over, memorizing ever mole and blemish. It was then I saw a small portion of a tattoo peaking out from under her sleeve. It was exactly like the one listed in the missing person announcement. I was sure this was our woman. “You could be sisters,” I remarked. “Are you related to the Lengrada family?”
The woman started to look a bit uncomfortable, but not more than any person would when accosted by two strangers. She shook her head. “No, I don’t know any people with the surname Lengrada.”
I turned to Magash. I assume she is trying to sense deception or apprehension from the woman using the Force. My Zabrak friend smiled apologetically. “I’m so sorry. I haven’t seen her in months and I got all excited.”
The dark haired woman smiled back warily. “No problem. Enjoy your day.” She walked past us and continued down the street.
Magash pushed the earpiece button to talk to Sacha. “She claims she is not the woman and I felt no deception from her.”
I unlinked my arm from Magash’s and activated my microphone. “She was lying. She has three distinctive identifying features of the missing woman. A tattoo of a bird, a slight scar over the right eyebrow and a small mole on her neck. I am certain she is Miss Lengrada.”
There was a slight pause before Sacha spoke. “Follow her. Den and I will keep an eye on her movements using the surveillance vids. Let’s see where she goes.”
Magash and I followed her for the next hour. We walked arm-in-arm trying to play the part of two young lovers out for a stroll. I must admit I like this part of undercover work. I truly enjoy her company.
We stayed far enough away so not to be noticed. When she went into a bakery Magash and I stopped and pretended to be fascinated with a jewelry store window display. A soft smile crossed my lips as I gazed at the diamond and jewel encrusted necklaces. “Do you see anything you like?”
Her lips pinched together before she shook her head. “Jewelry is worn by my clan members, but it is almost always symbolic. We don’t wear expensive trinkets to flaunt wealth.” She glanced over to me. “If a clan sister defeats a deadly predator such as a Saurian or a great dragon they will make a necklace from the teeth of the beast. It is a testimony to their hunting skills and bravery.”
I should have known Dathomiri women wouldn’t wear anything frivolous. “The men don’t make jewelry to impress the ladies in your clan?”
Magash gave me the most incredulous look I have ever seen her make. “Men do not woo women in my culture. Women select breeding males. Once they fulfill their reproductive duties they are sent back to the fields to work.”
“Oh.” I turned my attention back to jewelry display not knowing how to respond to that comment.
Magash raised and eyebrow questioningly. “You do not approve of the way we treat males?”
I shrugged. “It is not my place to judge a foreign culture.” She gave a noncommittal nod of the head before she turned to keep an eye on the bakery. I became curious if her opinions of males had changed in the months since she left her planet. I was especially interested in her feelings about me. “Magash, can I ask you a personal question?”
I hesitated for a moment trying to find the correct words. “Do you see me as a human male?”
I was a little disappointed she made a scoffing noise. “No, of course not.”
“Oh…” My eyes dropped as a sickening feeling crept into my belly…or whatever is in my abdominal cavity. Once again I cursed my fate. I was a droid capable of feeling very real human emotions…and I was fairly sure what I was experiencing now was sadness and heartbreak.
Magash must have noticed the wounded look on my face. Worry darkened her expression as she put a hand on my shoulder. “Why do my words distress you?”
I let loose a breath that was half frustration, half disbelief. “You just told me you don’t view me as a real person. Why wouldn’t that bother me?”
She cocked her head to the side looking completely befuddled. She stared at me for a long moment before eyes went wide with a spark of comprehension. “Oh,” she said before laughing. “You misunderstood my meaning. You asked me if I viewed you as a human male. In my culture males are inferior.” She gave my shoulder a squeeze. “You are not inferior. You are my equal. Your question should have been ‘do I view you as sentient and as a friend’. The answer to that question is yes.”
The knot in my abdomen loosened as an embarrassed smile danced across my face. “Thank you.” At that moment I saw our enigmatic female leave the bakery and continue down the street. “Our target is on the move.”
Magash dropped her hand from my shoulder and wove it around my arm as we continued our walk.
There was an awkward silence before Magash cleared her throat. “I hope I did not offend you.”
“No, not at all.” I glanced over to her. “How about Jax? Do you see him as inferior?”
“Jax is a Jedi. That is similar to a male witch. I was impressed with him from the day we met. I would not have left my people to train with somebody I did not respect. As for other men...my feelings about human males are changing, but you cannot completely wipe away decades of cultural teachings in such a short time.” I saw a change in her mood to one more somber. “But my views are changing. I do not think I can return to Dathomir and embrace our culture of misandry. I want what Sacha has. She is bonded to a male that is her equal. I will not find that on Dathomir.” She drew in a deep breath and blew it out in frustration. “Unfortunately, my clan expects me to find a mate from within the clan breeding males. Maybe one day I will return to Dathomir to breed. I am approaching my prime reproductive age.”
I could feel my cheeks heat up. That was more information that I ever expected from my usually stoic friend. Perhaps because I am a droid she finds it easier to talk to me. “What would you do then? Stay on Dathomir?”
“I believe I would become bored on my planet. I would leave after conception.” She gave me a curious look. “Perhaps you can go with me when the time comes and help me select a mate with the proper physical and mental attributes.”
I tried to mask my surprised scoff as a cough, which probably wasn’t the best disguise since I doubt human replica droids cough. “Excuse me?”
She gave me a furtive glance before she focused back on the woman we were following. “I apologize. That is probably a role best performed by another female.”
I heaved a sigh. “Probably. I don’t believe I have the capability of selecting a suitable breeding partner for you.” I tried to make my words sound upbeat, but there was an unmistakable dejected tone in my voice. I know it is ridiculous for me to feel jealous. I can’t father children. I can’t be anything to Magash but a friend. I hate these very human emotions. I feel like a man trapped in a droid’s body. I hate this. I truly hope my brain self-repairs and I can once-and-for-all stop craving things that I can’t have.
“She turned into a residential area.” Magash’s words mercifully pulled me out of my dismal musings. I looked up the road and saw the woman heading down a street lined with townhouses. As the woman neared one house a man outside gardening stood and greeted her lovingly. He gave her a tender kiss and hug before they walked up the stairs to their little townhouse, closing the door behind them.
Magash and I continued past the home and went around the block so we could communicate our observations to Den and Sacha.
Magash activated her earpiece comlink. “We’ve recorded the location of her home. She doesn’t appear under any duress and I could sense in the Force that she believes she is who she says she is.”
“Could it be amnesia?” I asked.
I heard Den speak up on my earpiece. “If she had an accident and doesn’t remember who she was, she might have just wandered away from Svang.”
“Possibly.” I glanced over to Magash. “Did you feel any reaction from her when you mentioned Ksassa’s name?”
“The surprise I felt could be the result of having two strangers approach her. She absolutely believes her name is Gena Tova.”
“Come on back to the hotel,” Den interrupted. “Jax sent us some surveillance video of the hotel in Svang where Magash was attacked. He found something interesting.”
I put my finger to my earpiece. “We’ll walk back to the main part of the city and flag down an air taxi. We’ll be back soon.” I keyed off the comlink and then turned to my friend. “Shall we go?” I offered Magash my arm, and despite the fact there was no longer a need to continue the young lover façade, I was greatly please when she accepted.
I guess ‘Just friends’ isn’t so bad.
Nice update! Magash is a fascinating character and I can see why I-5 has such feelings for her.
Interesting turn of events for the missing woman. At first I thought she was lying abour her new identity, but she seems happy. This juxtaposes with Magash's description of "love" in her culture, which seems lonely and cold even to her. Can't wait to see what happens next!
Wow, that is interesting. The missing woman sees to be who she claims to be, i.e., not held captive or the one who they're looking for. Hmmm. Enjoyed the Magash and I-Five talk and his continued frustrations etc. You have given Magash real depth and openness.
Love to see that more about Magash and I-five's frustrations
Liked the thought-provoking discussion with Magash -- one case where I-Five being seen as other than human was actually a positive. Great dialogue there, and it's also a look into her current state of growth as a person. She's not entirely accepting of the Dathomiri views on males anymore, but the underlying reflexes and expectations are harder to shake -- and I get the impression that she's still intent on remaining a part of her clan, given that she lets their concerns rule who she thinks would be an appropriate mate. (So much LOL at poor I-Five being asked about helping her pick -- I think he really would rather delete that moment. ) But she realizes now that it's a rather lonely prospect when she could find someone she actually cares for instead. It will be interesting to see how that all turns out. I know you mentioned earlier that droid/Zabrak would be total crack, but honestly here I kind of ship it. (Given that I-Five is the ultimate odd case as far as being a droid goes. )
And the mystery deepens with the disappearances. Ksassa thinking she's someone else entirely... very strange and a little ominous, but I'm not sure what to make of it yet.
Thanks. The Dathomir culture does seem strange to me. It is like the Spartans but the women are the warriors. I read somewhere that Spartan relationships with the opposite sex were different from others, with the men gone most of the time. I don't intend to write a droid/Zabrak love story. After all, Comms are feverishly discussing whether same sex relationships should be allowed. I doubt a droid/organic romantic entanglement would be welcome. Although it has happened in Legend Canon with the HRD Guri and Prince Xizor (or at least it was highly suggested). My intent is to write a story about a friendship without benefits. But who knows...I may change my mind.
Thanks. Magash didn't grow up with droids so she might not have a prejudice against them like she does for human males.
Thanks. We will see more of them. I am not much of an action writer. I like writing about relationships.
I'll see how this relationship between Magash and I-Five plays out. I don't intend on writing a love scene for the two, but a strong friendship will be formed.
Thanks everybody for reading!
It took us about fifteen minutes to get back to the hotel. Inside we found Sacha and Den analyzing more security vid feeds.
Magash and I looked over their shoulders to the monitor. “Did Jax send that footage?”
Sacha gazed up from where she sat. “Yes, he tried to get the security recordings from the hotel we stayed in at Svang by bribing a maintenance worker, but it turns out the footage is gone. He doesn’t know if the police confiscated the security recordings after Magash’s attempted abduction, they never existed, or somebody at the hotel destroyed them.”
I pointed to the screen. “So what are we watching?”
“This is the security feed from the building across the street. It is a liquor store that has had multiple robberies in the past. They have cameras everywhere and one security imager was pointed at the side entrance of the hotel. Jax paid the store owner for holovid footage during the time Sondra Soren was kidnapped and this is what he found.”
She pointed at the screen showing a nighttime shot of the hotel. The recording wasn’t of the best quality due to the low light, with only the few areas illuminated by building lights or street lamps. As we watched I noticed movement at the hotel side entrance. Two human men came out the lodge carrying a large duffle bag. A third man opened the trunk of a speeder parked in the alley. The two males struggled with their obviously heavy and cumbersome bag before they finally managed to get it into the trunk of the speeder. The third man moved the bag around a bit before he closed the lid. He then shook hands with the other two men before he jumped into the speeder and took off.
Den looked to me. “We think Sondra might have been in that bag.”
I nodded. “Somebody was definitely in the bag.”
Sacha turned in her seat and eyed me curiously. “Why do you say that?”
I leaned over her shoulder to the computer keyboard and reversed the feed to the point where the two men had lifted the bag into the trunk. “Look at this end of the bag.” I pointed to the man on the right. “He keeps readjusting his hands as if struggling to keep whatever was inside still.”
Sacha leaned closer to her monitor and frowned. “I don’t see anything.”
“Really?” I was surprised, but I guess this was simply another indication that I was a droid—I was able to discern minuscule movement in a grainy vid. “Okay, wait until the bag is in the trunk. Look at the third man. It looks like he is rearranging the bag but he isn’t. He is pushing it down…after it rose up.” I flagged the first and last frame of the vid feed I was interested in and put it in a loop. “The bag goes into the trunk, then the left side of the bag lifts up slightly. His apparent adjustment of the bag is him actually pushing the duffle down before shutting the lid.”
“I see the movement,” Magash whispered before giving me a wide smile. “Your eyes are good. I would not have caught that small movement if you did not point it out.”
I don’t know why I always feel embarrassed when complimented by Magash but I do. I gave her a sheepish grin. “Thanks.”
Sacha sat back in her seat. “If it’s Sondra inside the duffle bag, then there are only two places for them to go. She could still be in Svang and in that case hopefully Jax and Norro will find her or she was brought here. There is only one road through the forest from Svang and that leads here to Laressa. I just need to get the recordings for the twelve or so hours after this speeder left the alley and we should be able to figure out if it travelled here.” She grabbed a cup of caf off the desk and took a sip. “This is going to be a long night.”
We left Sacha to her slicing as Den questioned Magash and me about our run in with Ksassa also known as Genna Tova.
“Are you sure Genna is really Ksassa the woman that went missing almost a year ago?”
I gave a nod. “Her features are the same, she has the same tattoo and matching moles. If it is not her, then it is her clone.”
“That’s so strange.” He sat on the edge of his bed and picked up his datapad and started to view the live surveillance data. “I might as well get back to work.” When Magash excused herself to use the ‘fresher Den waved me over and whispered, “I see you and our lovely Zabrak friend were getting along extremely well while on your little undercover mission.”
I sat down next to him and elbowed his side. “Knock it off. We’re just friends.” I kept my voice as low as possible so Sacha couldn’t hear.
Den gave me an evil grin. “But you would like to be more than friends.”
I believe Den was simply trying to have friendly banter, but his question triggered a despondent feeling within me. “That’s the problem. I can’t be more to her. It doesn’t matter what I want. I am not an organic. I cannot be anything to her but a friend.” I blew out a frustrated breath. “We’ve discussed this before. Why do you keep bringing up a possibility that absolutely cannot be?”
Den leaned in closer, speaking in hushed tones. “You don’t know what you can or can’t be until you try. You are a good friend and you have the ability to perform…umm…let’s just say…romantically if the situation arose.”
I felt a blush creep over my face. I was told this was actually warm reddish hydraulic fluid suffused through a thin membrane under my cheeks in order to mimic embarrassment. That may be, but emotionally I wasn’t mimicking anything. I was extremely discomfited by this conversation. “How would you know that?”
Den shrugged. “I read the owner’s manual for your HRD model. This body was designed for spying and sometimes seduction is a key component of infiltration.”
I groaned as I dropped my head into my hands. “Please don’t talk about a droid having sex. Even I find that disgusting and if Magash heard about this conversation she would have our heads.”
“I’m not necessarily talking about her. I’m just saying if you had a relationship with a woman, any woman, the only function you cannot perform is fathering a child. You shouldn’t put limitations on yourself. And I’m not encouraging you to try to have sex with anybody. I’m just saying…well, don’t rule out the possibility of being able to be a true companion to a woman.”
I left my head cradled in my palms, not wanting to look Den in the eye. I assume my feelings of embarrassment were similar to a teenager getting a sex talk from his father. It may be informative but also exceedingly awkward and humiliating. “I refuse to discuss this topic while I am still having memory problems. What if I wake up tomorrow feeling like a droid once again—a droid who is no longer attracted to organic sentients? I cannot entertain your suggestion until my memory is back and I no longer think of myself as a man. So, please stop talking about sex.”
I must have said that louder than I intended because Sacha turned from her computer monitor and said, “Who’s having sex?”
I kept my head down and groaned softly while wishing the ground would open up and swallow me whole.
“It is nothing about you,” Den assured Sacha.
I didn’t look in Sacha's direction, but I could hear the smile in her voice. “Who then? Magash?”
I jumped when a voice sounded out behind me. “What about me?” I looked up to see Magash leaving the ‘fresher.
“Nothing!” I said a bit too loud and with obvious panic in my voice. “We’re not talking about you or Sacha. We’re just talking. Can’t two guys talk without people butting in on our conversations?”
Magash’s eyes narrowed slightly. “It was not my intent to infringe on your conversation.”
I rubbed a hand over my face. “I’m sorry. It’s just…Den likes teasing me and I am having difficulty deflecting his barbs. Prior to my memory problems I assume I effortlessly disregarded all of his gibes…but now…I find it problematic if not impossible to do so.”
Magash walked over to Den and gave him a playful smack to the back of his head. “Leave my friend alone or I will cast a Dathomiri vexation spell on you.”
Den frowned. “And what is that?”
Magash grinned. “It is a spell to give you the smallest bladder and the rustiest zipper.”
Den chuckled. “I see you are picking up some of I-Five’s cutting humor.”
She turned to me, her mouth relaxing into a sensual smile. “I can learn much from such a man.” She picked up her datapad from the dresser before hopping onto the bed and sitting cross-legged. She turned on the device and began examining live feeds.
My eyes widened at her comment, not knowing how to interpret her words. I turned to Den who had a scat-eating grin on his face. I shook my head not wanting to deal with his goading and walked over to Sacha who continued her efforts to slice into the archived security vids. “Did Jax say anything else about his mission.”
She turned to me with an amused look in her eyes. “He said while they were socializing with some of the local workers a group of young miners dared Norro to eat a Nitrox Pepper and wash it down with an non-alcoholic drink called a Lava jet. Apparently both the pepper and the drink burn going down and it feels like you are pissing fire and defecating magma when it’s coming out. Jax said Norro has been camped out in the ‘fresher for the last few hours moaning and insisting he didn’t feel this bad when he was reduced to eating rancid vermin on Despayre.” She turned back to her monitor. “You guys should get some sleep. This may take most of the night.”
“I’ll pull guard duty.” My offer was pragmatic. I don’t need sleep.
After all, I’m only a lifeless droid…I think. To be honest, I am not sure what I am anymore.
Honestly, hotel rooms are too small to have a private conversation without anyone overhearing.
And that's awesome. I promise not to start a petition for Zabrak/droid lovin'.
Oh, now that's just annoying! At least they managed to find something in spite of it. Good thing they were thinking outside the box to look for footage from a store when the other way didn't pan out. It's also interesting to see that I-Five is that sensitive to minor visual details -- or maybe just has the attentional abilities to spot what's there.
The discussion with Den was hilarious, as was Sacha walking in at exactly the wrong moment. But it's an oddly endearing friendship moment too. It's an entirely weird situation, but Den's just trying to give some decent advice to I-Five. And embarrass the poodoo out of him in the process, because why not.
That is one seriously evil curse. Are they sure she's not a Nightsister in disguise?
Oh, Norro. Why do you do this to yourself, kid?
poor Norro, eating that.
That is true.
Thanks. I have some ideas in my head about I-Five and Magash. The Witches don't really live with the men, but socialize mainly with women. I would think Magash sees Sacha and what she has with Jax and is conflicted. She wants to have a family with a husband, but she may not be able to break out of her anti-male thinking to pull off a real marriage. I think I-Five is attractive to her because he can be her friend. He may be the person that can help break her conditioning. We know I-Five gets his memory back after three months. Who knows how he will feel then.
Norro is a teenager so he can be dared into doing just about anything. Just Google "Cinnamon Challenge" and see how idiotic people are when it comes to dares.
Thanks everybody for reading. I really appreciate all the comments.
I stood at the window most of the night gazing at the streets below, watching Phindians and an occasional human stroll down the illuminated sidewalks. When all the restaurants and cantinas closed and the traffic outside trickled down almost nothing, I went back to watching the live feeds from across the city.
Sacha was still awake and trying to slice into the archived security vids. Her eyelids were droopy and more than once I saw her head bob as she drifted off to sleep before the the jolting movement abruptly awoke her.
“Why don’t you take a break Sacha? Staying up this late can’t be good for the baby.”
She turned in her seat and gazed up at me looking dead tired. “I’m close. I know it. Give me another hour and then I’ll get some rest.” She waved me over. “Talk to me. It’ll help me stay awake.”
“Okay.” I sat down at the edge of the bed closest to her. It was occupied by Den who grunted and rolled over when my weight shifted the bedsprings. I smiled at Sacha. “What do you want to talk about?”
She gave a delicate shrug of her shoulder. “It doesn’t matter. Tell me how you are feeling lately. Do you still have false memories?”
I let out a sigh. “I do. I still recall growing up as a human. I know I am a droid. There is no getting around the fact that I don’t have normal human biological functions. I can’t fool myself into accepting the falsehood that I am human. My brain knows the truth, but my emotions give me conflicting data.”
Sacha typed in a sequence of commands before she turned to me. “You do know all of us see you as something more than a droid. You are a sentient. It doesn’t matter what your body is made of.”
I nodded. “I know.”
She concentrated on her monitor as she typed a few more lines of code. Her work was interrupted when she suddenly grabbed her belly while making a gasping noise.
“What is it Sacha? Is there a problem with the baby?”
She took a few deep breaths as she pressed her hands to her small baby bump. She turned to me and smiled. “I think I felt the baby move.”
My rudimentary understanding of human gestation allowed me to determine this was a good thing. “That’s wonderful. Is this the first time you felt the baby? You are approximately twenty-three weeks along, correct?”
She nodded while grinning wildly. “Yes. This is the first time I felt the baby kick.” She reached out and grabbed my hand and pressed it to her abdomen. “Can you feel him move?”
I quietly waited for some indication of life and I was not disappointed. It felt like something kicked my hand. I grinned like a proud soon-to-be uncle. “He’s strong. It is a male, correct?”
She nodded. “According to Jax. He saw a son in a vision. We haven’t been able to confirm the sex of the baby medically though.” She put both of her hands on her belly, closed her eyes and concentrated. “I think it is a boy.”
I smiled widely. “I am glad you and Jax are together and creating a family. I believe this baby will bring you great joy.”
“I do too.” She turned back to her monitor and continued typing. After a few minutes she let out a whispered announcement of triumph. “I did it!”
“You sliced into the archives.” I stood and leaned over her shoulder. “Show me what to do and I will examine the recordings while you get some sleep.”
It looked like she was going to object, but decided against it when exhaustion began to take its toll. “That sounds great.”
She showed me how to do an archival search before she went to the next bed, stretched out next to Magash, and quickly fell asleep. I sat down and began watching vids from the time the suspicious speeder left Svang. It was going to be a long night. Luckily I don’t need sleep. For once in recent memory I am glad to be a droid.
The surveillance data proved the land speeder did depart from Svang and travelled to Laressa. The vehicle entered the capital city and traversed a number of streets. I had to locate the appropriate holocam view every time it maneuvered down a different avenue. Eventually the speeder turned into an underground parking garage for a medical facility. That had me extremely worried. We assumed the women were part of a slave trade, but what if they were victims of an organ harvesting syndicate? That was a horrifying thought.
The speeder was only at the facility for approximately twenty minutes before it departed the parking area and travelled to a docking bay. I watched as the driver and a woman exited the vehicle and walked up to a freighter. I examined the features of the woman and realized this wasn’t Sondra Soren, but she did look familiar. I searched my memory and realized this was another woman who went missing approximately two months prior to Sondra’s abduction.
“Alexa Kendet,” I whispered to myself. I was happy to see the woman alive, realizing organ harvesting probably wasn’t the purpose for the kidnappings. I zoomed in to the identification marking of the ship and recorded the time and date of the vid. It shouldn’t be hard for Sacha to slice into loading bay information and identify the owner of the ship, where it came from and where it was going.
I observed the woman happily chatting with her companion and later to the ship captain who met the couple at the bottom of the boarding ramp. To my eyes, her actions were not of a woman kidnapped or under any duress. She looked happy as she laughed at something her companion said. This mystery was getting stranger and stranger every day.
When the woman and the captain disappeared into the ship the man from Svang got back in his speeder and drove off. I watched his movement until he returned to the lone road returning to Svang.
At that point I decided to check the archived video for the day Alexa Kendet disappeared. If I remembered correctly she was not taken from Svang but from a manufacturing center on the other side of the planet. Both speeder and ship could reach that town, therefore my best bet was to watch the medical complex for any after-hour deliveries and then backtrack and figure out where the vehicle originated.
I watched hours of nighttime holos of the building until a speeder finally arrived and drove into the underground complex. I watched for another hour until the speeder left the building and once again drove to the docking bay. I wasn’t surprised to see the vehicle park next to the same freighter. This time a different man exited the speeder and another woman accompanied him. I was shocked to recognize the female.
“Jenna Onnus,” I whispered. It was a woman reported missing three months before Alexa Kendet’s disappearance.
I jumped when I felt a hand touch my shoulder and I made a very undroid-like gasp of surprise. I turned to Magash who was looking over my shoulder. She grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I chuckled. “I guess I was a bit preoccupied.”
“Did you find anything?”
“I have found something…and I think it is something big.” I pointed to the woman on the screen. “That is Jenna Onnus, reported missing months ago. She came out of a Medical clinic that appears to be the center of our mystery. The speeder that left Svang travelled to that particular medical facility. It left with a woman named Alexa Kendet that was reported missing a couple months before Sondra Soren. I backtracked to the date Alexa disappeared and I saw a speeder make a late-night visit to the medical building and when the speeder left it was carrying the woman you see on the screen.”
Magash leaned over my shoulder to get a closer look at the lady. She was close enough for me to smell the sweet aroma of her shampoo. Her hand remained on my shoulder and the warmth of her palm somehow sent shivers down my spine. This woman was driving me crazy. I stood, quickly breaking contact, and offered Magash my seat. “Go ahead and sit down.”
I was hoping to calm my obviously overactive arousal programing, but from where I now stood I was able to see down Magash’s nightshirt. I took a deep breath and stepped back until my line of sight no longer offered me such a spectacular view.
She turned to me, her brow creased in concentration. “What type of medical facility is it?”
“I don’t know yet. The sign simply said ‘Drogan Medical Building’. It should be easy enough to look up on the holonet.”
She nodded before her gaze returned to the screen. “Do you think our women are being held there until they are sold?”
I thought about it for a moment. “I don’t know. Look at her.” I pointed to Jenna Onnus who was shaking hands with the same ship captain I observed earlier with Alexa. “She doesn’t look like a woman who’s been kidnapped.”
Magash ran a finger over one of her cranial horns. It was a gesture she did when in deep thought. “On Dathomir the Nightwitches sometimes would kidnap female children and raise them as their own. They would put a spell on the child so she would forget her true mother. This way they would not be tempted to run away.”
“You think these women had their memories altered?”
“It is possible. I doubt Nightwitches are involved, but I am sure there is technology that would allow such a thing to happen.” She turned in her seat and gave me a sideward glance. “It has happened to you by accident.”
I chuckled. “True, but I’m not human.”
“Den told me about the soldiers in the Clone Wars. They had memories introduced into their brains, did they not?”
I nodded slowly. “It is called flash-training. But in the case of the clones they had a clean slate to work with. These women have at least two decades of recollections that would counter any attempt to alter their memories.”
“Ahh.” She stood and gestured toward the seat. “I am sure you will solve this mystery. You are the most intelligent person I have ever met.”
I scoffed derisively. “I may be intelligent, I’m not a person.”
I startled when her hands reached up and gently grasped my shoulders. She looked me straight in the eyes, practically glaring. “Do not say that again. You are my friend. You are a person. I realize self-pity is a very human trait, but it is not an attractive one.” She leaned in and gave me a friendly hug that got something inside my chest beating frantically. I jumped when I felt her breath caress my ear as she whispered, “I can feel you through the Force. I can sense your feelings, desires, and emotions. You are very much a person.” She then gave me a platonic kiss on the cheek before she backed away and disappeared into the ‘fresher.
I stood there slack jawed and frozen in place. ‘She can sense my desires?’ I knew Force-users could do that, but I didn’t think my feeble Force signature could be read.
I wasn’t sure why she decided to reveal that information to me, but I was now embarrassed beyond mortification. I dropped back into the seat and pretended to be deep in concentration when she exited the ‘fresher and climbed into bed. I wish I could learn how to clamp down on my feelings like a Jax can, but I’m no Jedi.
A slow grin crossed by face. I’m no Jedi, but it appears I am a person.
Love his interaction with Magash. He sure is a person. And he is finding out more about the women
Wonderful assurances from Sacha and Magash and a crucial clue! Hmm. What is happening at the med clinic?
Interesting mystery here. Love the interactions with both women, as well.
OMG, I-Five and Magash? OTP!!!!
Okay, I just caught up on your last three entries and as usual this is very nicely written. You're really handling I-Five's transition back to sentient droidhood very smartly and subtly - the teasing by Den was, as always, hilarious, and the conversations with Magash are very touching under all the humour. And now, as a bonus, we get a mystery, a proper mystery! If DRL doesn't interfere, I'll be here on the day you post next time.
Thanks. He does have a crush on her. I am trying to figure out how to end this story so he isn't left heartbroken.
Thanks! I don't see it too odd that humans could accept a droid as an equal and form a bond. Humans here on Earth fall in love with people they met online having never talked to them on the phone or Skyped. We want somebody to listen and interact with us. I-Five is a great companion. He reminds me of the internal speech Sarah Connor gave in Terminator 2. She mused:
Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Terminator would never stop. It would never leave him. It would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine was the only one that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.
I-Five could be the perfect human. He is sentient, but, other than sarcasm, he doesn't have the bad habits of humans. He isn't cruel, he doesn't stab his friends in the back, he doesn't borrow money from his buddies to pay the rent and then gets drunk and blows it all at the casino. He is the perfect friend.
Thanks! I think I-Five will be a great uncle.
They are a good match. I think her interaction with I-Five and Jax improves her chances to get past her anti-male upbringing. I-Five is a good friend for her because she sees him as an equal. I would think for Force sensitives being able to sense I-Five in the Force can only fortify their belief that he is something more than a droid...something alive. I wish the profics explained why I-Five has a Force essence. I often wondered if he was being haunted by a Force ghost. I guess we will never know since I really doubt any Legends books will be written in the future.
Thanks everybody for reading. I have been busy lately. I hope I can write more soon.
In the morning I showed my companions what I accomplished while they slept. All-in-all I found four missing women tied to the medical facility: Sondra Soren (if she truly was the person in the large duffle bag), Alexa Kendet, Jenna Onnus and another woman I located later that night named Bryssa Lorkan. I am not sure if Ksassa Lengrada, who we spotted shopping in town, was part of this conspiracy, but she makes the number of discovered missing women up to five.
Sacha immediately got on the computer and began slicing into the docking bay records. She was looking for the registry information on the freighter the women boarded and a cargo and passenger manifest.
“This is odd.” Sacha motioned for us to come to her desk. “The freighter has a standard crew and on the days the women boarded the ship there was only one female passenger listed on the flight documents…but none of the names correspond with our missing women…so they are obviously using aliases. Alexa Kendet is listed as Milta Travd. Jenna Onnus is Ora Korbert and Bryss Korkan is Assya Lidia.”
Den walked back to his bed and grabbed his datapad and began inputting the names. “I’ll see if I can come up with any information on these women in the public records.”
Magash was also recording the names into her datapad. “What would you like me to do?” she asked Sacha.
“Look up the women’s original names and find out the name of the police or private investigator searching for them.” She turned around and gave Magash an apologetic look. “And see if there is any reward money for information on their whereabouts.” She put her palms up in a contrite gesture. “I know that seems callous, but we do need money. We’ll notify the authorities no matter what, but if they are going to give out money…we might as well be the ones to take it.”
“How about me? What should I do,” I asked.
Sacha chewed her bottom lip in thought. “Go on the holonet and try to figure out everything you can about that medical facility.”
I have to admit I was a bit excited at the possibility of exposing a possible slave trade ring…but then I began to think of the publicity. We didn’t want Jax or Sacha’s face plastered all over the holonet. Darth Vader may have spared them once, but it is doubtful he would do so again. We would have to figure out a way to solve this case, cash in on available reward money, and avoid unnecessary media exposure.
‘This is not going to be easy.’
Jax and Norro left Svang and returned to Laressa once we determined there was a high probability that Sondra Soren was at the medical facility in the capital city.
They met up with us at our hotel room where we were hard at work monitoring surveillance data and slicing into various computer systems. Jax was exceedingly happy to be back in Sacha’s arms. Norro did not appear well. His skin color was pale and he groaned miserably as he held his hands protectively over his stomach.
I put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you still ill from your adventures in gastronomy?”
Norro moaned. “It feels like there’s a monkey-lizard knife fight going on in my intestines.”
I grimaced, feeling sorry for the boy. “It should pass soon. I did some research on the Nitrox Pepper you ate. Norpsaicin is the active ingredient and it is known to cause temporarily tissue inflammation. The mucosa of the stomach and intestines might experience debilitating damage if you ate a lot of them, but since you only ate one, you should be okay in a few days. It is recommended that you drink Nerf-Milk or Blue Milk. It helps neutralize the Norpsaicin.”
“Thanks.” Norro flopped down on the nearest bed and curled up into a fetal position. “I’ll drink some milk once the Monkey-lizards take a break and stop trying to cut their way out of my body.”
“You shouldn’t take dares from other boys,” Jax admonished the young man.
“But they double dared me,” Norro clarified.
A wide grin crossed Jax’s face. “Ohhhhh,” he drew the word out. “That makes it perfectly alright then.”
Norro rolled over so he was facing away from us. “Stop teasing me and just let me die in peace.”
“You’re not going to die. You may wish you were dead, but you are not going to expire over one hot pepper.” Jax sat down on the edge of the bed and addressed the rest of us. “You said you found some information on our missing girl and some other women?”
Den walked over to a dresser and retrieved his datapad. “Sacha was able to slice into a number of governmental data archives. We discovered possibly five missing women. We say possibly because we haven’t confirmed Sondra Soren was the person put in the trunk of the speeder.” Den turned to Sacha who picked up where he left off.
“We are fairly certain of the identity of the other women.” She looked over to me. “I-Five made the identification.”
She didn’t say it, but I know her unspoken words were, ‘And since he has a droid brain that can memorize ever detail of the missing persons’ reports, I doubt he is mistaken.’
“I also found a couple other interesting discoveries,” Sacha continued. “The missing women were traveling under aliases…complete with official identification cards and travel documents provided to them by the Phindar Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Clone Wars created an influx of undocumented refugees to Phindar from various planets. Most of these people fled war torn areas with only the tunics on their backs. Phindar has been especially helpful in assisting foreigners get replacement documentation. And by helpful I mean they are incredibly lax when it comes to proof of identity. If you can get a couple people to vouch for you they will give you a new ID card. Obviously false identifications were acquired for these women.”
Jax gave a nod of his head. “What was the other interesting discover?”
Sacha turned back to Den who pulled up a holonet site on his datapad. “I found a wedding announcement for one of the women in the news. This happened shortly after she was seen leaving Laressa. I couldn’t find a full match on the other women, but on a hunch I inputted the first names only and found all four first names in an online matchmaker site. You have to be a member to actually see the photo of the girls…and becoming a member is costly…but the general descriptions of the women match the name. There were no last names listed on the holosite.”
“Do you think this matchmaker site is a cover for a slave trade?” Jax asked.
Den shrugged. “To be honest. I have no idea what is going on. The women we saw seemed happy and not in distress.”
“I have a theory on that,” I interrupted. Everybody but Norro, who continued to moan softly, turned to me. “As you all know, Phindar was dominated by a brutal crime syndicate for decades until the Jedi liberated the planet. Probably half the population is inflicted with severe depression and suffers from extreme anxiety. The Drogan Medical Building is the center for Situational Stress Response Disorder Research.” I paused for a moment to let that sink in. “Their therapy includes biofeedback and memory erasure.”
Sacha’s eyes went wide. “They erase memories? How?”
“From my research it appears they use a variety of techniques to include drug-induced amnesia or destruction of neurons. Often the patient has false memories implanted into their psyche to fill in blank spots. That was introduced when it was discovered that having large chunks of missing time—albeit a time of horrible trauma—was traumatic in itself.”
Den shook his head in dismay. “Can a person’s entire life get rewired?”
“I don’t know.”
Jax ran a hand through his dark hair in thought. “It doesn’t matter. We were hired to find Sondra. I am fairly certain she is in the building. We can tell her father where she is located and let the local authorities raid the place and rescue her.”
“That won’t work.” We all turned to Norro who flipped over on the bed to look at us. “I think that would be a mistake.”
Jax’s brows furrowed. “And why do you say that?”
Norro sat up with a groan. “I know I’m just a kid and you’re a Jedi, but I grew up with criminals and on Despayre they liked to talk. Everybody was what we would call a jailhouse lawyer. They would brag about how they got away with crime, they’d complain about how they got caught, they’d explain the laws and procedures the police have to abide by and how a criminal can make the law turn a blind eye. This whole situation smells of police corruption.”
Den made a confused gesture with his hands. “Why do you say that?”
Norro chuckled. “Because we found five missing women in a few days. The police should have found them just as easily. They are walking around in public. They have their image printed in marriage announcements. How can the police not be involved?”
I have to admit, that does make sense. “So what do you suggest?”
The boy rubbed a hand over his stomach and flinched as an ominous gurgle came from his abdomen. “If you can’t trust the local law enforcement it is best that we get the father of the missing girl to contact Imperial authorities.”
Jax shook his head adamantly. “Oh no. Remember we want to avoid Imperials.”
“We’ll be gone by then.” Norro gasped as his stomach grumbled a protest. “But to get the Imperials involved we will have to have solid proof that Sondra is in the building. We need to get an imager into the building and record a holo of her.”
“Easier said than done,” Magash pointed out.
“Yeah, I know.” He dropped back down on the bed. “I have a question about the Phindar Bureau of Consular Affairs.”
“What?” Sacha asked.
“Can I get an identification? I have no official record. Can we ask for a replacement identification for me?”
Jax nodded. “That sounds good. Sacha, Den and I were in the Republic system, so we can’t chance getting new identifications, but there is no reason Norro couldn’t.” He turned to Magash and me. “Magash is probably not in any database and I-Five could pass as human. We can get identification documentation for you three.”
“Me?” I was surprised by the comment but it makes sense if I decide to remain in my HRD body. “What name would I use?”
Jax smiled. “Any name you want.”
Norro looked to Jax. “I want to be Norro Pavan.”
Jax’s smile grew wider. “I think that would be perfect.”
“I would like to be a Pavan also,” I said softly. “I was raised…or created by Lorn Pavan.” I looked to Jax. “And I see myself as your brother.”
Jax looked a bit choked up. “I would be honored.” He turned to Magash. “I guess your name would be safe to use. Magash Drashi.”
She nodded. “Perhaps. I may wish to use an alias. I will think about it.”
“Hey,” Norro exclaimed. “You can be a Pavan also.”
Her brow knitted in confusion. “I do not have a family resemblance.”
“You can pose as I-Five’s spouse. Missus Magash Drashi Pavan wife of I-Five Pavan.”
I inwardly groaned at the teen’s suggestion. It is bad enough that Den teases me, but now I have to endure taunts from a teenage boy that hasn’t learned to keep his playful thoughts to himself or toxic peppers out of his mouth.
Magash shook her head. “That will not do.”
I remained silent, refusing to be drawn into this uncomfortable conversation, but Norro asked the question I wanted answered. “Why not?” He gave a devious grin. “You two make a good couple.”
Magash gave Norro a dismissive gesture. “I-Five is not a suitable first name for a human male.” She turned to me questioningly. “Don't you agree?”
What? Her only objection to that absurd suggestion is my name?
“I…um…you’re right. I-Five is not a practical first name. I will think of something suitable.” I quickly changed the subject. “I suppose we should schedule an appointment to the Consular's office and in the meantime we need to figure out how to confirm Sondra is inside the building.”
That should occupy the group for a while. In the mean time I need to think of an appropriate given name.
This is gonna be fun.
Great theorizing about what is really going on with implanted memories etc. and agree with Norro's suggestion that law enforcement is dragging their feet intentionally in finding those who are "missing."
This is already fun and is going to be even more fun!
I'll skip the funny bits in these two entries (between Norro's upset stomach and Magash deciding that I-Five isn't an appropriate given name, there were lots of laughs) and cut to the chase: a still-recovering I-Five is going to investigate a clinic that tampers with people's memories. My bet is, he's going to take it personally and it's going to have interesting results.
Fun sure with all the new identities. But they have to be careful
I love Norro. He is a hoot. And smart, too.
This is going to be interesting! I wonder if the women are leaving on their own accord, trying to get off this planet of nasty stinky men miners.Maybe this isn't something as nefarious as it seemed at first.
LOL like the GFFA version of mail-order brides