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Saga - ST Saga - Legends Detours - ModChallenge, ST-era, scout and astromech OCs

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Thumper09, Nov 24, 2022.

  1. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Title: Detours
    Author: Thumper09
    Characters: OCs - Resistance scout, astromech, civilians
    Timeframe: Before TFA, approx. 32 ABY
    Genre: Action-ish drama-ish
    Summary: A Resistance scout encounters difficulties after buying a used astromech on a remote planet.
    Notes: This is my response to the Mod!Challenge, Tier Two with five prompts.
    My particular assigned prompts are as follows:
    Trope: Directionless Driver
    Words: Satchel, Aesthetics, Prismatic
    Dialogue: "I can't hear you over the sound of my music."
    Random Story Element: Sparks
    Picture:
    [​IMG]

    This story is completed and is about 14 pages long on my word processor. It will be split across two posts.

    Constructive criticism is welcome. Star Wars is owned by Disney, etc. etc.

    ---------------------

    They said that any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

    It was a blatant lie, likely meant to coddle and soothe fragile pilot egos. Lieutenant Tizbyr Vad didn’t know who “they” were, but he was quite sure that if “they” had experienced that same landing, then “they” would certainly not classify it as “good.”

    The only “good” thing about it was that he’d landed in a sandy area that had sufficiently cushioned his Mu-class shuttle Rumor on impact. The bad thing about it was that the Anomid almost would have preferred a ship busted to billions of pieces on hard rock versus spending the next five years-- at least-- picking out sand particles from the internal circuits of every onboard system and dealing with the sudden and unexpected failures they would cause. Having an unreliable ship was one of the worst things an advanced scout like him could have, yet he loathed the idea of selling Rumor. He hoped it wouldn’t need to come to that.

    Tizbyr would also bet the nearest being fifty credits that even though he’d been sealed safely inside his ship when it hit the ground, he would probably find sand particles in his vocalizer mask within a standard week.

    The first step to placing that bet was to find the nearest being. He also hoped the nearest being would be able to tell him where to buy some essential repair parts. With even more luck, the nearest being could also explain if the ion weapon mines that had hit him in this system were set by pirates or belonged to the First Order, and could let Tizbyr know if he had to report their existence to the local authorities.

    He wondered if the nearest being knew how important he or she was going to be shortly to the rest of Tizbyr’s day.

    As he’d been unceremoniously descending toward the planet Svarget Minor in a mostly nonresponsive, ion-blasted shuttle, Tizbyr had seen what looked like a small town to the east in the early morning light. That would be where he would go.

    He was honestly glad that he’d remembered to look for towns or other marks of civilization while he’d been fighting with his ship coming down. Those skills and reflexive actions had once been second-nature to him but had grown rusty with the passing years of disuse. These days the extent of his scouting was to travel from one known system to another looking for indications of First Order activity for the Resistance. It was a far cry from the cutting-edge scouting he’d first started with, where Tizbyr would be the one discovering new hyperspace routes, finding unexplored systems, and blazing the trails for others to follow. Those had been exciting times that had left him with quite a few scars and countless stories, but things had changed. He didn’t need that sort of constant danger in his life anymore. Now he was assigned routes and destinations and objectives. It was relaxing. Refreshing.

    And a bit boring, to be honest.

    Tizbyr sighed and shook his head to himself. Boring meant safety, and he was grateful for it. He’d paid his dues. And hopefully he could dig down into his memory and make a withdrawal from those past dues to help him get back in the mindset of how to survive and operate self-sufficiently with a broken ship. It’s not like it was the first time. It was just the first time in quite a while.

    Once he started taking stock of his situation, he was a little surprised at how quickly some of those memories came back and reminded him of things to do and details to attend to. Soon he was assessing the interior and exterior damage to his ship, cataloging available consumables, recording his last known coordinates both in orbit and during landing, and more.

    Tizbyr made a list on a datapad of the few most important repair parts he could tell offhand that he would need. Some of that knowledge was based on the exterior physical damage he found from the rough landing, and some of it was admittedly a guess based on which consoles in the cockpit had emitted the largest amount of sparks after Rumor had been hit with the massive ion blast. Unfortunately the comm was down and would need a hard reboot at the very least, and his navicomputer and sensor interface were both significantly damaged and inoperable.

    Tizbyr stuck that datapad in his shoulder satchel along with his credit voucher, some food and water, a few basic survival tools in case he was out longer than anticipated, and the removable flight log computer drive from his cockpit. Even if parts of the drive had been fried in the ion blast along with the navicomp, he couldn’t risk leaving it in the shuttle unattended. There was too much valuable data on it from his scouting runs that could be recovered by a good slicer, and too much information that would endanger Resistance lives if it fell into First Order hands.

    Next he made sure his Resistance uniform was still hidden in the small storage compartment and hadn’t gotten knocked loose during the so-called landing. He rarely wore it, opting instead to fly in garb more appropriate for nonaffiliated spacers, but there were times he needed it. This was not one of those times, though. Right now it would be a liability if the wrong person happened across his ship and searched inside it while he was gone.

    Tizbyr hated the thought of strangers tromping all through his ship, and he shuddered. Best get going now so he had a better chance of getting back before anyone came looking for the ship they might have seen flailing through the air like a drunken Cha’wen’he. He straightened his tunic and put on the impractical long, flowing black cloak that he didn’t like but wore in public to play to the expected visual stereotypes of his people. Next he slung the satchel’s strap over his shoulder, made sure his blaster pistol was holstered but easily accessible and set on stun, adjusted his vocalizer mask, and walked out of the shuttle. He closed and locked the door, hoping the security measures were still operational and would properly seal it from intruders.

    Tizbyr rested one six-fingered hand gently on the door for a moment, letting his light purple, translucent skin visually mingle and merge with the soft grey hues of Rumor’s hull. Then in his silent native language he signed, I’m sorry about the crash. Stay safe, and I’ll go get some parts to make you good as new in no time. I promise I’ll be back soon. He liked to think his ship, his long-time partner, preferred the quiet, more tender Anomid language of hand signs and body gestures just like he did. The electronic sounds of Basic grating through his vocalizer mask always hurt his ears, so he avoided it when he could.

    Adjusting his grip on the satchel’s strap, Tizbyr oriented himself, marked his location, and then set off eastward over the sandy dunes and scrub brush in the cool morning air.

    *****

    As it turned out, the nearest being was a young Human who was apparently doing some early morning chores near a shed on a plot of farmland. The Human was engrossed with his activity and didn’t notice Tizbyr’s approach, so before he walked too close Tizbyr called out a greeting in the most friendly voice he could manage, though it was electronically mangled by his vocalizer mask like always.

    Startled, the boy jerked his head up. When he finally spotted Tizbyr walking closer, the boy shrieked in fright and ran for the nearby house while yelling something about a purple Darth Vader coming after him.

    Tizbyr stopped and sighed. Dealing with local populations was a tricky part of any scout’s life, especially during the exploration phases when a new planet was discovered. Would the populace be friendly or fearful? Would Tizbyr be met with smiles or weapons? Svarget Minor at least was part of the galactic community, even if it hung to the outskirts, so there was less risk here than on a world that might never have seen an Anomid before.

    But he still knew precious little about this area of the planet, and while he waited he racked his brain for similar situations from his past and what options he would have. Hopefully it wouldn’t end up like the situation on Lennerak VIII. The main question was if the boy’s parents would come out bemused or shooting. Tizbyr decided to stay put, standing a good twenty meters from the wooden house amid the scraggly crops struggling to grow in the sandy soil of the farm fields. He hoped the suddenly heavy weight of the blaster pistol could stay encased in its holster.

    The boy had disappeared through the back door of the house, and a few moments later that same door opened again and a Human woman walked out wearing utilitarian clothing. She moved with confidence and carried a small holdout blaster, but the weapon was pointed down at the ground. She spotted Tizbyr immediately, and he cautiously held up an empty hand in greeting.

    The woman relaxed, stuck the blaster in a belt pouch, and seemed to be chuckling to herself and shaking her head as she began walking toward him.

    “Sorry about that,” she called to Tizbyr as soon as she was in easy earshot. “His imagination moves faster than his common sense sometimes.”

    “I didn’t mean to startle him,” Tizbyr said, slowly closing the distance between them. “I’m sorry that I frightened him.”

    “I’ll talk to him. He’ll be fine. Is there something I can help you with? We don’t get many Anomids wandering around out here.”

    “Actually, yes, I’m hoping you can point me in the direction of the nearest town that will have a repair shop. My ship had some difficulties on landing.”

    The dark-haired woman nodded and pointed northeast. “Nearest town is Caluna, about five kilometers that way. You’ll come across the road pretty soon, so just follow that. Don’t expect much in the way of variety, though.”

    “Thank you,” Tizbyr said. “And one more question, please. My ship was hit by an ion mine in high orbit. Are your local authorities aware of them, or do I need to report the mines’ presence?”

    He didn’t expect the woman to roll her eyes. “Oh, they’re aware of them, all right,” she said. “They’ve been saying they’ll clear the leftover active ones from the system for weeks now, but they never do. Maybe you can tell them it’s bad for tourism if they don’t clean up their mess. Can’t even get supply ships down here to the surface with any decent regularity-- they won’t risk getting hit by the mines.” The woman snorted in frustration, then shook her head again. “Sorry you and your ship got caught up in our orbital trash.”

    “I’ve had worse days and worse welcomes. Thanks for the directions.”

    After an exchange of farewells, Tizbyr nodded to the woman and headed in the direction she had pointed, taking care to keep to the edges of the fields and not trample any crops.

    Sure enough, he found the packed dirt road with little difficulty, and he followed it as the surrounding area slowly transitioned from the sandy soil to stringy grasslands hosting thorny bushes with burnt red leaves. The cool breeze strengthened to a moderate wind, sending airborne excursions of stinging sand particles into his exposed skin, and a couple times he brushed some leftover sand out of his short, dark grey hair. No vehicles passed him as he walked.

    Eventually the sporadic houses grew slightly more clustered, and soon there was a modest grouping of them. The number of groupings increased until Tizbyr figured he had entered the town proper. Old landspeeders and wheeled vehicles traveled down Caluna’s roads, and shops were beginning to open for the day. A few quick assists from passers-by helped Tizbyr locate the local shop selling repair parts.

    It was slightly bigger than he’d expected, but based on the fixer-upper condition of the vehicles he’d seen in town so far, the repair shop probably did good business.

    Inside, the front of the shop held a few cluttered displays of greasy hardware for sale and a small counter for sales and transactions. A waist-high partition ran the width of the shop, and on the far side the room was packed full of overflowing shelving units and tables heaped with scrap metal and different parts in various stages of repair and disassembly.

    Tizbyr heard the familiar sound of powered tools operating in the back of the store, past most of the shelving units and tables. Looking in that direction, he saw sparks flying from a welding station that a pale red Bith was working at while clad in protective gear. Despite the noise of the equipment, the Bith seemed to immediately know a customer had arrived, since the Bith’s head raised and the welder powered down. The fountain of sparks died out in an anticlimactic sputtering. The Bith removed the protective mask, heavy apron, and gloves, set them aside, and then walked over. She stepped through a squeaky, swinging gate in the store’s partition and approached Tizbyr.

    “Hello, how can I help you?” she asked eagerly.

    “Hello,” Tizbyr replied. “I’m looking to buy some parts for my ship.”

    “Then I’m looking to sell you some parts for your ship.” Her large black eyes lit up with merriment. “What do you need?”

    Tizbyr took the datapad from his satchel and handed it to her. She peered at the list, running one long finger down it as she read. After she reached the bottom, she returned her finger to the top and started down the list once more as she spoke, commenting on each entry.

    “Silicone seals, not a problem. Got a bunch in both the thirty centimeter and fifty centimeter sizes. TrekTak 650 gear actuator... maybe. I’ve got two actuators around that size, but I’ll have to see if they’re compatible. Thruster fin for a Mu-class shuttle, I don’t have one but they’re simple to make. I could have one done from scrap metal in an hour. Filters, yeah, I have all the filters you need. SoroSuub LKP power converter, surprisingly, yes, I have one in pretty good shape, as well as all the cable hookups if you need those too. But these...” She tapped her finger on the final items displayed. “A PNX-1050 control board, Gerris-900 control board, and two HV-6 circuit cards. These are very hard to come by these days since so many ships started getting ioned in orbit by the mines. Due to their sensitivity, these are usually the first parts to fry when that happens.” The shopkeeper cocked her head at Tizbyr. “Did you join the club?”

    Tizbyr nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. And now both my navicomp and my sensor interface are useless without those boards. Sensors I can limp along without for a while, but not my navicomp.”

    The shopkeeper winced. “That’s... not good. Like I said, demand for those items has spiked, and you won’t find any around here or even in the larger cities. Can’t get new ones in without the supply ships arriving. Your best bet is probably seeing if you can purchase them from someone who has them installed in their ship, but since that would put their own ship out of commission it might cost more than you want to spend. Then-- oh, wait!” The Bith whipped her head around and scanned the cluttered back area of the shop. “I might have a workaround.” Without looking, she passed the datapad back to Tizbyr, who took it in surprise, and then she headed through the partition gate to the storage and work area, gesturing for him to come with. Tizbyr followed. It was hard moving through the tight passages between the tables, shelves, and boxes of parts, and he silently cursed his cloak the third time it caught on something.

    The Bith stopped next to a shelving unit and hefted some haphazard boxes off of a powered-down astromech droid beside it. The shopkeeper patted the droid’s flattened head and turned to look expectantly at Tizbyr.

    Tizbyr wasn’t impressed, and he tried to convey that in his expression since his vocalizer couldn’t be trusted to impart that nuance. “An R5?”

    “No. No, no, no. Definitely not an R5.” The shopkeeper was quick to clear up the initial misconception, probably because of the R5's spotty reputation. “This is an R6. An R6-C4N, to be exact. The head shape is the only thing it has in common with the R5. It’s really more of a new and improved R2. It can plug into your ship and act as your navicomp until you find a new circuit board. It’ll also be able to bypass the sensor interface and access your sensors directly. It’ll at least let you take off and fly somewhere with better supply inventories and fewer ion mines.”

    Tizbyr considered that idea, but finally shook his head reluctantly. “I don’t think I can afford an astromech, especially with the other parts I need to purchase. And especially one that looks like it’s in pretty good shape and hasn’t been used much.”

    “Well... you’re not wrong.” The shopkeeper’s chipper attitude dimmed slightly. “Here’s the deal. I recently got this droid in a trade as part of a lot. I said the same thing you did, and the person just told me the droid never quite worked right and they didn’t want to deal with it anymore. They didn’t seem to care that they were giving me a good deal on the trade value. I ran a couple diagnostics and everything came up clean. I checked it for obvious things like trackers or bugs and haven’t found any. That’s all I’ve been able to do with it-- I haven’t had time to really put it through its paces and see what the supposed issues are. Normal operation seems fine. So I haven’t exactly invested a lot into this droid, and without anything obvious coming up on diagnostics it’s probably going to take me a lot of effort to track down any problems, which costs time I don’t have and frankly don’t want to spend. I have enough other projects to work on. I’ll make a similar low-value deal for it as-is.” The Bith shrugged. “Up to you, though. Feel free to run your own diagnostics on the droid and check out what you want with it while I gather your other parts. I think this is the best alternative I can give you, though.” With that she moved away, heading for another shelving unit jammed full of worn boxes.

    Tizbyr studied the astromech, weighing his options. Take an unknown risk with the droid, or be stuck without a navigational computer on a world that couldn’t help him fix it?

    Option B wasn’t much of an option. What good was a scout who couldn’t fly and couldn’t navigate?

    He grabbed a data cable from a nearby table and plugged one end into his datapad. Then he plugged the other end into one of the droid’s data sockets and powered up the astromech.

    The light grey R6 whirred to life. Lights flashed as it booted up, casting odd hues over the painted blue and yellow accents on its chassis. Finally the droid trained an optical sensor on Tizbyr, and a tinny, monotone mechanical voice sounded from a small loudspeaker on the astromech’s front. “R6-C4N is online. Please state directive.

    Tizbyr almost chuckled at the thought of two vocalizers having inflectionless conversations with each other. “Hello, R6-C4N. I’m going to run a standard diagnostic on you from this datapad.” He entered the commands and started it.

    Ah, another one. R6-C4N acknowledges.” The astromech dutifully fell silent.

    “I’m trying to determine if you’ll be able to help me with my ship,” Tizbyr continued as the diagnostic results began popping up green one after another. “I heard that a previous owner said you had some issues. Do you know what those issues were?”

    That owner had unrealistic expectations. That owner would tell R6-C4N to do things, R6-C4N would do them, and then the owner would be angry.

    “I see. What sort of things did they ask you to do?”

    Basic things. Standard operations that R6-C4N easily accomplished. Things that are part of R6-C4N’s standard programming and functionality. The owner said R6-C4N did not do them correctly, even though R6-C4N did, and then the owner would get angry.

    “And what did that owner do when they got angry?”

    Sometimes that owner would take R6-C4N back to the place where R6-C4N was purchased and try to leave R6-C4N there in exchange for the money that owner said he was entitled to. But the employees at the purchase location would run diagnostics and say that R6-C4N could not be returned because R6-C4N was fully operational and there was nothing wrong.

    “So what did that owner do when they couldn’t return you and get a refund of their money?”

    That owner tried to correct the perceived problems. Once, that owner reinstalled R6-C4N’s software, but nothing changed. Another time, that owner got very angry about how R6-C4N did something and contacted Industrial Automaton to tell them how broken R6-C4N was, which was untrue. After several conversations with Industrial Automaton and additional attempts at troubleshooting what that owner thought the problems were, that owner said R6-C4N was not worth it and left R6-C4N here.

    “I see,” Tizbyr repeated neutrally. He studied the datapad readout. All the diagnostics had completed and showed no issues, just like the shopkeeper had said. Tizbyr used the datapad to enter a few commands that interfaced more directly with the astromech’s systems and ran some systems checks that way. If there was a software error in how the droid interacted with the diagnostic program that would cause a standard diagnostic to always read as green even when it shouldn’t, then those commands should bypass it and show the true story.

    A few minutes later, though, the new commands indicated no faults with the droid. Tizbyr considered the results. Maybe there wasn’t actually anything wrong. Maybe it was just an inexperienced prior owner who didn’t know that they were operating the astromech incorrectly. Maybe this would all work out.

    He made his decision. “Well, I think you’re worth it. I do a lot of flying, and my navicomp got damaged,” Tizbyr said. “You interested in being my co-pilot and helping with that?”

    R6-C4N confirms desire to assist.” The astromech managed to make its voice sound excited as some of its lights flashed rapidly.

    “Then come on, let’s go up to the front and see how much all of this is going to cost me,” Tizbyr said while he disconnected the cable and set it back on the table. “I’m Tizbyr.”

    Designation R6-C4N.

    Tizbyr chuckled and stashed the datapad back in his satchel. “Yeah, I got that. I’m not calling you that, though. We need to find you a good name.”

    After some tight maneuvering in the narrow pathways, they reached the front counter about the time the Bith was depositing an armful of various items on top of it. Tizbyr recognized most of the other things on his list. The Bith saw him eyeing the items and said, “I still have to check on that actuator, but if you want me to make you a thruster fin, I’ll have an answer on the actuator’s compatibility by the time the fin is ready.”

    “Sure.”

    “So you decided to take the droid?”

    “Yes, I think we’re going to give it a try.”

    The shopkeeper nodded. “Okay, good. So... let’s talk pricing.”

    After a few minutes of haggling and detailing a couple of options dependent on the actuator’s usefulness, Tizbyr found himself the new owner of an R6-C4N astromech droid.

    *****

    Svarget Minor’s surface receded behind them as Rumor shot toward orbit with Tizbyr in the pilot’s seat and R6-C4N in the co-pilot’s area. Tizbyr kept a steady hand on the controls, watching the consoles carefully for any indication that the lengthy field repairs might not be holding up to the strain of flight.

    The R6's scomp arm was plugged into Rumor’s console, and the astromech’s lights flashed as it worked. “Based on the residual electronic damage to the ship from the ion mine’s blast, R6-C4N was able to calculate an approximate EMF frequency the mine was using,” the droid said. “R6-C4N recalibrated the sensors to detect that frequency. An approximate map of the mines in orbit and their estimated detection and blast zones is being routed to your display should you desire to avoid the mines while leaving the planet.

    Tizbyr gave the R6 a brief but incredulous look. “You were able to do that? I didn’t realize you could calculate something like that based on the damage.”

    It would have been much simpler if the shuttle was not so old and its systems so obsolete. Perhaps consider getting a newer ship with better capabilities. Due to the limited capabilities available in this ship, these calculations were a challenge for R6-C4N, but R6-C4N is a top-of-the-line astromech droid.” The droid’s voice now held what sounded like smug pride.

    Tizbyr decided not to mention the R7-series, given that mere seconds ago he’d thought he’d likely be running into a mine on the way out as well. He also decided to ignore the insult to Rumor, since the droid had just helped the ship by providing a way to avoid the mines. He signed a quick apology to the ship before saying, “Can you plot a course that gets us through the mines without tripping any?”

    Certainly.” A red line appeared instantly on the displayed map, winding between the various plotted mines. Tizbyr nimbly guided the ship along the safe route, and soon they were out of Svarget Minor’s gravity well and far past any mines Rumor’s sensors could detect.

    “Excellent work,” Tizbyr told his new co-pilot. The droid beeped with pleasure.

    Now that the highest chances of being ioned again were behind them, Tizbyr reached into the satchel he’d kept at his feet during take-off and pulled out the flight log computer drive he’d removed before going into town. He was finally on his way again, on the job, and the drive needed to be recording where he went and what he found. He reinstalled it, made sure it was operational, and then looked to the R6.

    “Okay, time for us to get back on track. Plot us a hyperspace course for a system called MG-2185.”

    R6-C4N acknowledges.” After a minute, it spoke up again. “Course plotted and set.

    “Then let’s go.” Tizbyr got on the correct heading, throttled up the engines, and jumped to hyperspace.

    The hyperspace entry went smoothly, unlike a few other post-repair times in his younger days that had led to the formation of some crazy stories and one particular scar on his arm, and Tizbyr let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding as a result. That made him feel silly and a bit embarrassed, and he reminded himself that he didn’t need to worry anymore or get so tense. He was no longer in that cutting-edge life where everything was a nanometer away from chaos. This tiny stretch of time brushing off his old exploratory scout skills on Svarget Minor had been an amusing little jaunt, but the detour was over now. The problems were fixed, the uncertainty was gone, and he was back to his predictable assignment and predictable life. Tizbyr shoved that old version of himself back to the past and focused on his present.

    Now it was time to see if the First Order had any operations in MG-2185 that the Resistance needed to be aware of.

    *****
    (cont'd)
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2022
  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooh, I like this! Which, granted, I say about your stories a lot. :) You’ve crafted a very intriguing “broken down in an unfamiliar place” adventure here with an equally intriguing main character—the Anomids are new to me, but I looked them up, and they sound fascinating! (And the whole concept of two vocoder-using beings having a conversation with each other is fascinating… corollary to which, I also wonder if Tizbyr’s ship actually can understand his signs? [face_thinking] ) So far Tizbyr was able to find a solution fairly smoothly and quickly, and get back in the air fairly smoothly and quickly—but that just intensifies my feeling that a shoe is going to drop soon, and loudly. As savvy and competent as R6-C4N seems, there’s something that feels a bit off about him—he’s almost too quick to solve all the problems, and it seems… callow and cocky somehow? (The Directionless Driver character? [face_thinking] ) I have to say my curiosity is piqued about its former owner; there is definitely a story there, one we’ve only heard one side of. Great job rising to this challenge—really looking forward to more! =D=
     
    devilinthedetails and Kahara like this.
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    I like your OC and his new companion. The droid is good but what are its motives?
     
  4. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thank you very much! I'm not sure how common Anomids are in the greater SW lore, but I think they're an interesting and versatile species. I'm tending to use more of the Legends interpretation for them here, which is why my story prefixes might seem a bit drunk, but I rely pretty heavily on my "Ultimate Alien Anthology" RPG sourcebook for alien ideas and info. :) As for the rest, all I can really say at this point is [face_whistling], heh, but hopefully answers will be forthcoming in the next post. Thanks a bunch for reading and commenting!

    Thank you very much! These two characters are turning into an odd little duo, but they've been fun to write about. :) Hopefully more info about the droid will be coming soon. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    ------

    The second and final post will be up shortly. It grew a little bit yesterday during final edits so I need to adjust the story length info in the first post. Thanks to everyone for following along!
     
  5. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    When the swirling blue tunnel of hyperspace snapped back to show the prismatic stars speckled against the black field of normal space, the last thing Tizbyr expected to see was a large blue star far ahead in the viewport. Tizbyr’s fin-like ears flattened slightly in thought.

    “R6, what system are we in?” he asked.

    MG-2185, as requested,” the droid dutifully relayed.

    “That can’t be right. There aren’t any blue stars for light-years around that system.”

    Tizbyr wasn’t sure how, but he was sure that the droid stiffened slightly. “R6-C4N confirms that this system is MG-2185,” the droid repeated firmly.

    “Then why am I looking at a blue star when MG-2185's star is a red dwarf?”

    Your information must be incorrect.

    “No, I’m quite sure the star charts list MG-2185 as a red dwarf. Query the system’s identification and nav beacon.”

    To Tizbyr’s surprise, R6 did not follow the instruction. “That is not necessary and would only be an inefficient waste of time and power,” R6-C4N said.

    “It is necessary. We need to find out where exactly we are. I’m telling you, R6, we’re not in MG-2185.”

    Have you been to MG-2185 before?

    Tizbyr was thrown by the odd question. “No,” he said slowly.

    Are you an astromech?

    “Of course not.”

    Are you a top-of-the-line astromech who is specifically designed and programmed for the purpose of navigating to different star systems?

    Tizbyr didn’t like where this was going. “No...” he repeated.

    Then perhaps you should believe R6-C4N, who is a top-of-the-line astromech specifically designed and programmed for the purpose of navigating to different star systems, when R6-C4N says that R6-C4N has brought you to MG-2185 as requested.” The astromech was sounding a little huffy, which Tizbyr hadn’t known was possible for a being who couldn’t breathe.

    Tizbyr thought for a moment before finally shrugging. “All right.” He wasn’t completely convinced they were in MG-2185, but R6 had planted the seed of doubt. Maybe Tizbyr had transposed some numbers in his preliminary research and had accidentally looked up MG-2815 instead, and that's where the red dwarf was. Arguing navigation with an astromech was a futile and pointless endeavor. Besides, he could always double-check their position later by comparing the recorded star field to the star charts. For right now, though, they were here-- wherever “here” was-- and he might as well check it out.

    He urged Rumor deeper into the system.

    *****

    Rumor shot out of the system as fast as her engines could take her.

    Smoke streamed into the cockpit. R6-C4N hurried to repair the offending system as Tizbyr focused on piloting and evading the laser blasts from the nimble First Order TIEs pursuing them.

    “R6,” Tizbyr said with deadly calm while he jerked the ship out of the line of fire again. Another hit would make for a bad day. “Do you remember how I asked you to plot a microjump to the west side of that planet so we could lay low and gather some information on the First Order cruiser that was in orbit on the east side?”

    R6-C4N confirms memory,” R6 replied.

    “Then tell me--” Another hard evasion. “--Why did our microjump put us on the east side of the planet right on top of said cruiser?”

    R6-C4N cannot be held responsible for the sudden movements of a First Order vessel that unexpectedly brought it to our targeted location,” R6 said.

    “It--” Tizbyr couldn’t even finish the dumbfounded thought. “Never mind. Just plot us a course out of here. Now. The Serrana System is close by, and that’s safe. Take us there.”

    Course to the Serrana System computed and set.

    The instant Rumor was out of the effective gravity wells of both the planet and the large blue star it orbited, Tizbyr pulled the hyperdrive lever, and Rumor leapt into the safety of hyperspace, leaving the First Order ships in MG-2185 behind.

    Tizbyr exhaled in relief. The hyperspace travel time between MG-2185 and Serrana was about fifteen minutes, so they could get some repairs done before they had to revert. Tizbyr unbuckled his seat restraints and stood.

    The flight console beeped, indicating their hyperspace route was nearly at its completion. “What?” Tizbyr asked in confusion as he immediately sat back down. “There’s no way we’re at Serrana yet.”

    You were correct when you said the Serrana System was close by. It was a good choice for a recuperation point,” R6 said. “As the console is showing, we should be arriving in 5.2 more seconds.

    Baffled but without any other options, Tizbyr pulled the lever for reversion at the appropriate time.

    When the familiar prismatic starfield snapped back into place around them, Tizbyr was even more confused. The system’s yellow star should have been visible, but he didn’t see it. Some of Rumor’s flight displays flickered, and oddly he had to fight the flight controls to maneuver enough to look for the star. The flight controls must have gotten damaged by the TIEs.

    “Where’s the system’s star?” he asked.

    R6-C4N helpfully transferred the sensor data to a display, but that only generated more questions in Tizbyr’s mind. He waved away wisps of smoke to see the display better. The star being shown was tiny and dim, likely a neutron star and not at all what the Serrana System contained. As he watched the sensor readout, several bright flares rippled across the star’s surface and expanded outward in huge, grounded loops rising toward space. He couldn’t remember ever seeing a neutron star do that before. “What am I looking at? Some sort of neutron star?”

    R6 paused in its repairs just long enough to turn an optical sensor at Tizbyr. “Of course. That is the system’s magnetar. R6-C4N believed that was why you wanted to come to the Serrana System. No one else will pursue us here. That makes it quite safe.

    Tizbyr’s usually excellent reflexes failed him for a moment as the words registered. Finally he snapped himself out of his stupor and exclaimed, “Magnetar? There’s no magnetar in the Serrana System! We need to get out of here now!” Tizbyr put everything he had into turning the ship away from the neutron star’s extremely powerful magnetic field. They were already too close for comfort if the magnetic field was attracting the metal in the ship. If they got any closer, that magnetic field would completely disrupt every electron in Rumor, R6, and Tizbyr himself, and that was assuming the high-energy X-rays and gamma rays the magnetar emitted wouldn’t kill him first. Tizbyr prided himself on keeping a calm head during stressful situations as every competent scout did, but panic took over and he saw no good reason to stop it.

    “I hate to even say this at this point, but plot us a course out of here! Anywhere that won’t instantly kill us!”

    R6 flashed a few lights and emitted a sad-sounding beep. “You are beginning to sound like my previous owner. Course plotted and set.

    Tizbyr couldn’t respond: it was taking every milligram of concentration and effort to get the ship to the right heading and speed as it continued to be pulled closer and systems ominously flickered more frequently. With R6's help Tizbyr was able to keep the ship operational long enough to finally make the jump to hyperspace.

    *****

    Tizbyr was tense and braced for anything when they exited hyperspace several minutes later. All that was there, though, was a whole lot of nothing. Just a black sky speckled with jeweled stars surrounding them.

    “Distance to the nearest star,” he demanded. If there was another tiny neutron star close by that he couldn’t see they would be--

    Ten light-years. We are in interstellar space,” R6-C4N replied.

    Tizbyr let out the breath he’d been holding, closed his eyes, and sat still for a moment. He wasn’t used to that surge of adrenaline anymore. Risky flights and unknown destinations belonged to his younger self. The thrills that Younger Tizbyr had intentionally sought out now caused Current Tizbyr’s hands to shake.

    “R6,” he said at last, “something is wrong, and we’re going to have a nice long look at your navigation programming when I calm down a little more.”

    R6 blatted. “You are again sounding like my previous owner. Nothing is wrong. This is an inefficient use of time.

    “It’s my time to waste.” He was still more rattled by his series of unexpected detours than he cared to admit, so to soothe his nerves Tizbyr indulged himself by putting on one of his favorite songs over Rumor’s interior speakers. He closed his eyes again and let the intricate instrumental notes permeate his frazzled mind and distract him.

    After a minute had passed, Tizbyr heard R6 speak up. “R6-C4N notices there are no words in this song. All the songs my most recent previous owner played in the repair shop had words. Is this song broken?

    “No, it’s not broken. It’s an Anomid song. Our native language is silent, so we never developed songs with spoken words.” With his eyes still closed, Tizbyr shook his head. “Why any species would want to ruin a perfectly good song by obscuring it with spoken words, I have no idea. It forces a single interpretation of the song onto every listener. Besides, it ruins the aesthetics of the music. The sound. The emotion. The message.”

    R6-C4N does not understand how a song with no words can carry a message. Is there a subharmonic data stream embedded in the frequencies? R6-C4N is not detecting any.

    “No, it-- never mind.” Tizbyr wasn’t in the mood to defend his favorite songs to a droid.

    Another minute passed. “There is nothing wrong with R6-C4N’s navigational programming.

    “R6, I don’t want to talk about this right now,” Tizbyr warned.

    A pause, then, “R6-C4N carried out all instructions completely accurately and as directed.

    Without needing to look, Tizbyr hit a console button that increased the volume of the song to an almost deafening level. “Sorry! I can’t hear you over the sound of my music,” he called.

    There was a longer pause before R6 let out a flat beep and somehow made its monotone voice a mutter. It was barely audible over the music’s volume. “Ship sensors indicated the First Order cruiser had been deploying ion mines.

    Tizbyr’s eyes snapped open. “What?” He immediately turned the music off and gave the astromech his full attention, his frayed nerves forgotten. “What did you say?”

    R6 sullenly flashed a few dark-hued lights. “When we were close to the First Order cruiser orbiting the planet in MG-2185, Rumor’s sensors picked up ion mines being deployed that matched the EMF frequency of the ion mines in orbit around Svarget Minor.

    “But that-- What does that mean? Was the First Order responsible for the mines around Svarget Minor too?”

    R6-C4N cannot draw informed conclusions at this time with the data available.

    “I wonder what they’re up to. This is something we need to check out, or at least get enough info on to turn it over to Resistance Intel. If they’re mining numerous systems, that could be extremely dangerous for our ships.” Tizbyr absentmindedly patted Rumor’s console as he considered the matter, then he turned to R6. “How are your slicing skills?”

    R6-C4N is a top-of-the-line astromech. Slicing skills are superior.

    “Okay, then. I heard from a local that Svarget Minor’s government had something to do with the mines’ original deployment, so maybe there are some official records there we can find that will shed some light on this whole situation. Once again, I hate to ask this, but without a navicomp I have to. Can you get us back to Svarget Minor?”

    R6 blatted in indignation. “Of course.

    “Then let’s get some repairs done and then see if our jump actually gets us there.”

    R6 blatted again and focused once more on the system it was repairing. Thankfully the smoke was clearing from the cockpit as the air recycled.

    Tizbyr stood and went to the controls of another system in need of attention. As he did so, for just a fleeting moment, he caught himself half-hoping the jump would get messed up again and take them somewhere unexpected and exciting. He shook his head hard to dislodge the thought and went to work on fixing his ship.

    *****

    Rumor sat perched on a tall cliff on Svarget Minor, and Tizbyr loitered outside his shuttle, waiting restlessly for the expected inbound ship. Far below, the waves of a sea crashed against the rocks, beating them incessantly and spitting up white foam as they did so.

    Over the last few days, Tizbyr had felt like that sea. He and R6 had tirelessly battered every database, every file, every lead they could get access to on the planet in order to get a better idea of what was happening here.

    As far as they could piece together, there had been a significant amount of pirate activity in this system not too long ago, and the First Order had offered the planetary government the use of some experimental orbital ion mines to stop it. After the pirate activity had ceased, however, the First Order retained operational control of the mines and left them in place as a means to extort certain concessions from the planetary government. Tizbyr wasn’t certain what those were or what more was going on, but since the mines were still operational and adversely affecting the local populace, it didn’t appear to be going well for the planetary government. In addition, from what he and R6 had found, it seemed like very few citizens on the planet knew or even suspected the First Order’s involvement with their world. They were only told that their own planetary leaders were responsible for the mines. Digging up anything beyond that, though, was a job for Resistance Intel, not an advance scout.

    Once he’d felt like he had enough data to turn over, he’d contacted the nearest Resistance group and asked them to send someone to meet him planetside to collect the info and his report as well as deliver new circuit boards for Rumor. Ever since then, though, Tizbyr had felt less like the relentless sea and more like the rocks getting pummeled by it. Every hour that passed was another hour closer to the Resistance shuttle’s ETA and another hour closer to when Tizbyr would be done with this mission and back to his normal, routine job of scouting assigned systems looking for First Order bases and activity.

    So why did that prospect suddenly make him feel like he’d been getting pounded on relentlessly for years with no end in sight?

    Actually, that wasn’t a fair question. He knew why. It was because Younger Tizbyr had gotten to come out and have an adventure with the R6 droid, and these last few days Younger Tizbyr had been surprisingly vocal about and resistant to getting shoved aside again so Current Tizbyr could resume his boring responsibilities and duties. Every hour that passed made Tizbyr wonder more and more what life would be like if he listened to his younger self’s desire, and he couldn’t believe he was even entertaining the notion of putting himself back into danger and chaos. For what? An adrenaline rush? Would that adrenaline rush be worth it when he was bleeding out from an animal bite on a world with no name and no help for light-years? His current job was necessary, it was safe, and he was good at it. He knew he should stick with it and be grateful for it.

    However, arguing with himself using logic was pointless when Younger Tizbyr had both reason and emotion on his side. Yes, he was good at his current job, but he was good at his old job too. Others could handle what he was doing now. Fewer could do what he’d done in the past. Besides, there was value in his old job. If the people on Svarget Minor were experiencing hardships due to First Order activities, he would probably never have known about it if it wasn’t for his unexpected detours. And then what? The Resistance certainly wouldn’t have learned about it. Would these people ever have gotten help if he’d stuck to his assigned routes and duties and jumped to the actual MG-2185 system? He doubted it.

    Tizbyr paced next to his ship. He was getting a headache, but his current self wasn’t willing to give in yet. There was undoubtedly value in his old job, but he’d paid his dues in that life. Was it so wrong to want more stability and safety day in and day out? Was it worth sacrificing that safety just to get more fodder for exciting stories?

    Or was that even the right question? Tizbyr wasn’t certain anymore. He’d joined the Resistance to help others. If taking up his old job again could mean others would be safer, like the civilians here on this planet or the other people in his fleet, wasn’t that a good thing to trade some of his personal safety for? Wasn’t that the right thing to do?

    A high-pitched repulsorlift whine reached his ears, and Tizbyr looked up. High above him, the inbound Resistance Lambda-class shuttle broke free of the morning clouds and circled to land nearby on the same tall cliff. The shuttle’s arrival was both a welcome sight and one he was dreading, as it meant he had to at least make an initial decision when he went inside and gave his report of the past week’s events over the Lambda’s more secure comm. Tizbyr wasn’t sure which doors would open and which would close if he told his superiors what he was contemplating.

    The Lambda settled to the ground. Thankfully it looked like the data Tizbyr had transmitted for avoiding the mines had worked for them. He should pass it along to the shopkeeper before he left as well in case she could get it to some supply ships or knew someone who could.

    The Lambda powered down and lowered its loading ramp, revealing a Resistance fleet officer who waved at Tizbyr in greeting. Tizbyr took a deep breath and walked toward the ship, trying one more time to convince Younger Tizbyr that this sudden excitement was just a phase that would pass again and there was merit to routine assignments and a long life.

    Younger Tizbyr laughed.

    *****

    It was almost dark out when Tizbyr walked back to Rumor with the new circuit boards in hand. What a relief it would be to get his navicomp and sensor consoles operational again.

    When he reached the cockpit, R6-C4N was waiting there. The R6's optical sensor focused on the circuit boards in Tizbyr’s hands, then several lights flashed a dark blue. “You have obtained new circuit boards to fix the ship.” The monotone statement sounded a bit sad. How a droid could manage to get more emotion out of its vocoder than Tizbyr could with his, he would never know.

    “That’s right. We can get the navicomp and sensor interface fixed now,” Tizbyr replied.

    R6-C4N didn’t reply for a long moment, and then it finally said, “Ah. So you will no longer require R6-C4N’s services. You too have determined that R6-C4N is not worth it because actions do not happen as you expect them to. Will R6-C4N be going back to the repair shop?

    “No, I don’t think so,” Tizbyr said. “What good would it do me to have my navigator and co-pilot sitting in a repair shop on some random planet?”

    R6-C4N flashed green and yellow lights as it attempted to process what Tizbyr had just said, and then finally admitted, “R6-C4N does not understand. You expressed displeasure in the past when R6-C4N calculated hyperspace routes. When you can again operate the navicomputer, why do you wish for future displeasure and disagreements with R6-C4N as navigator?

    “Because R6-C4N is a top-of-the-line astromech.” Tizbyr wished the vocalizer did a better job of imparting the humor he’d intended into that line. Blasted thing. “But really, flying with you has snapped me out of my rut. For so long now I’ve been assigned known routes and have just popped in to take a look around. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed true exploration, going to systems we don’t have mapped, and never knowing what would be on the other side of that hyperspace tunnel. I used to do that when I was younger, and I just talked to my superior officer and said I want to try doing it again. So instead of looking for First Order activity in known systems, you and I are going to start looking for new planets we can use for bases or hiding places for Resistance groups. Your style of navigation is exactly what I need for that. You interested?”

    The astromech chirped happily. “R6-C4N confirms desire to assist.

    “Good. Then help me repair the consoles, because there will be times I’ll need to calculate a jump myself.”

    Tizbyr moved to the navicomp, and the pair began working. Tizbyr removed the navicomp’s access panel and was unsurprised to see sand particles lodged within some of the tight corners. He sighed, then got out a small suction tool to clean out the sand. “Also, it’s well past time for a better name for you. I’ve been giving it some thought. What do you think about Waypoint?”

    A trill came from the droid. “R6-C4N approves.

    “Excellent.” Tizbyr smiled. He had originally wanted to call the droid Detour, but he didn’t think the R6 would appreciate that moniker. He continued, “Then there are three main things we need to do after we finish these repairs.” Tizbyr paused long enough to hold up three fingers to emphasize his points. “First, remind me to contact the repair shop owner here so I can send her some info and get some extra supplies and parts.”

    Waypoint acknowledges.

    “Second, I’m going to find a data packet or something you can download so you’ll be able to understand my native language. That way I won’t have to use the vocalizer mask to communicate with you all the time. I don’t like using it.”

    Waypoint acknowledges. That will be a simple matter as Waypoint can understand visual communication as well as audible communication. If you desire for Waypoint to use your native language as well, Waypoint also suggests finding a module that will allow Waypoint to project a customizable holo of an Anomid performing your language using words Waypoint wants to use.

    Tizbyr was taken aback with pleasure at the droid’s offer. “If we can find something that would work like you’re suggesting, I would really appreciate that. Thank you. So finally, the third thing we’re going to do is teach you about the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me.’ But I know an astromech like you with superior skills will pick it up in no time.”

    Waypoint blatted, a harsh, gutteral sound. Tizbyr snorted in amusement, then gave his full attention to repairing the navicomp. He had a feeling he was going to need that system in perfect operating order quite a bit very soon for hasty getaways.

    A smile crept onto Tizbyr’s face underneath the vocalizer mask. He was looking forward to it.


    The End
     
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    a quirky droid but they will be working together now. Excellent piece with likeable characters.
     
  7. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @Thumper09 Well done! I really enjoyed reading this! In particular, I enjoyed:

    What a first line! Wow. Really captured my attention from the outset. A great perspective on that "any landing you can walk away from is a good one" cliche. You always write pilots and flight so well. Quite a gift!

    Ah, good old technology. Always so reliable:p

    Great details with the shop. Really sets the scene and helps me picture it in my head!

    Thanks for sharing this, and good luck with all your future writing:D
     
    pronker and Findswoman like this.
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Caught up at last, and how relieved I was to see the story end with none of the ulterior motives or dangers I had feared, and with friendship between Tizbyr and that top-of-the-line astromech, Waypoint! Although I admit that Waypoint’s “directionless driverism” had me a little scared at first (as it did Tizbyr), it turned out to be just the thing to inspire Tizbyr, rekindle his ideals, and get him out of his rut. The two of them have all the makings of a great team, now that they have come to an understanding. Once again, I love the way you worked in the details of Tiz’s Anomid physiology and communication style, right down to the music! (Yes, R6, there can be songs without words!) Great banter between these two mutually foiling characters, and AMAZING job working all the prompts in in completely organic and convincing ways (right down to “aesthetics” and the picture of the ocean waves hitting the rocks), even though the set you worked with had some quite disparate ones. So glad you were part of this challenge—congratulations on a job fabulously done! =D=
     
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  9. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thank you! I think quirky droids are the most fun types, especially when I'm not the one who has to personally deal with their eccentricities. :p Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Thank you! Between the ship and the droid, it was fun exploring GFFA technology and its reliability. I've known things like cars and computers IRL that don't show any obvious problems but still don't quite work right, and the effects of something like that happening in interstellar space in the GFFA could be considerably amplified. :p I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks for reading and commenting!

    Thank you! There are a lot of ways this story could have easily gone, but I got kind of attached to this odd pair. :p For better or for worse, I suspect Tizbyr is going to be having some "interesting times" with Waypoint, and he'll probably both hate and love every second of it. The Anomid physiology and culture was interesting to work with, even on this surface level, since it made me stop and think a few times about things I take for granted. They're a fascinating species IMHO. I'm glad the prompts felt integrated and that you enjoyed the story. Thank you for reading and commenting!
     
  10. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    And we need to be honest with ourselves, excellent introspection.

    He's duty bound to use the thing, but doesn't like it, just like hearing aids.

    got a big LOL from me!

    Naturally, I picture Artoo's rendition of an astromech doing this, with an extra flourish from your OC. :)

    True words.

    Aw..... :(

    So Waypoint rejuvenates a somewhat jaded outlook here, well done! I liked the visual of the crashing waves and cliffs particularly, sort of like Waypoint's influence on the rock of routine that is Tizbyr.:p
     
  11. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thank you! Yeah, to Tizbyr the vocalizer mask is a sort of necessary evil to interact in a galaxy that insists on using vocal cords so often. He's much happier without it.

    Thanks, Artoo's actions are my mental guide for how astromechs express emotion, though to my annoyance it's much harder conveying it in text than an audio/visual medium, LOL.

    I hadn't thought about the waves and cliffs being a metaphor for Waypoint and Tizbyr as well, but that's a really cool idea and now I'm going to steal it and pretend that I intended that all along. :cool:O:) It'll be especially apt if, in their new partnership, Waypoint gets Tizbyr in over his head too much and puts him under the metaphorical water during some of their adventures. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and thank you for reading and commenting!