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Before - Legends Goodwood Writes... (drabbles, vingettes, miscellaneous cruft) Flying Leathernecks!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Goodwood, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Edited...Round One — FIGHT!!

    — — —​


    "Snap it up, Breezy!" the sergeant growled as he patrolled the obstacle course. "Keep it cool or you'll wind up just like Jinkins!"

    The Marine recruit in question had sprained his ankle on the O-Course yesterday while trying to hero his way through the last wall; the idiot had landed badly after vaulting the summit, falling into the mud pit beyond. No one else in the platoon had even paused to help him up; the score was all that mattered at the moment and no one wanted to waste precious seconds on one fool. I had given it a brief thought as I had passed, but dismissed it instantaneously.

    "Sir yes sir!" I barked in the DI's wake, unaware and carefree as to whether or not he'd heard me as I continued to claw my way up a cargo net. Breezy was my nickname because I had a habit of rushing through conversations, trying to bluster more than I knew; this was unhelped by my hair always looking as though I'd been riding in an open-top airspeeder with no windscreen. Cool-looking though it was, the drill instructors were ubiquitously and unanimously unimpressed, particularly during inspection.

    Diligently I climbed headfirst down the other side and began to sprint toward the next obstacle, but then my right foot mutinied and I faceplanted spectacularly into the loamy ground. Rolling to my side and gazing rearward, I spotted the duplicitous source of my misfortune: an empty Gizer Ale bottle, blue as a muddy sapphire.

    Who the kriff goes drinking at the O-Course!? I wondered angrily...
     
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Very good response to the challenge. =D=
     
  3. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Thank you! This one just...came to me...as these things usually do, upon seeing the requirements.

    I love writing challenges like this. :D
     
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great response to the challenge with your military forces
     
  5. KELIA

    KELIA Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Loved the salute to the military.

    And hopefully, the recruit will learn a thing or two about drinking :p
     
  6. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Rain and Memories

    The pitter-patter of water droplets on the broadleaf greenery lining the path were soothing in their own way, tapping out a steady timbre to the bass thumps of thunder and the staccato of the dreary breeze. As the small party walked along a grassy path through ferns and the bases of gnarled, sprawling and vine-filled trees, the rain continued to fall apace. Vima remembered that this moon's surface was almost never dry; indeed, rare was the day in which the weather broke for more than a few hours at a time. Sunlight, when it did deign to break through the iron-gray clouds, would give the surrounding flora an almost surreal glow in a vibrant host of greens, ranging from the bright lime of fresh growth to the midnight luster of forest floor moss.

    It had been a decade since she had boarded that transport out, after that hard-won victory in a war not at all missed.

    Vima could feel that her companions knew it affected her, even if they didn't say it. Their safe harbor, temporary and unexpected it might be, had not been a welcome one. She didn't like being back among the trees, ferns, grasses and other, more exotic varieties of plant life—and the stupendous variety of fauna it played host to—but it beat the alternative. Even as they exited the ramp, the pilot had warned them that the space battle was still going on, and Vima, looking toward the heavens, imagined for a brief moment that she could see the reds and greens of cannonfire streaking across the sky. She regretted now the minutes of pleasure she had derived at taking control of the dorsal laser mount and keeping their foe at bay; while it was true that she had avoided as best the Force allowed at taking any lives, death had been inevitable in keeping her ship, her party, and her mission safe.

    But her defenders were not to blame for her ill ease. They had not been here ten years prior, during those terrible weeks of verdant hell that made pitched battles in space seem placid by comparison. So Vima trudged on, her thoughts to herself as she, Kreia and Mira trudged deeper into the jungle. Her breath was shallow as her eyes and senses fluttered about, taking in their surroundings with half a heart. Her skin puckered under her robes in a chill at odds with the warmth in the air that carried despite the rain. Here and there the trio came upon subtle reminders that, even after all this time, evoked memories of the campaign to take Dxun away from the Mandalorians.

    She had been a Jedi then. Part of her wondered, as the trio continued on, if she would ever be able to call herself that again.

    Exile, most referred to her as. Vima disliked having to give her name, as doing so almost always brought recognition to the eyes of the inquirer, recognition she neither wanted nor deserved, and which could cause any amount of unneeded complications. It might even, in these dangerous times, get her and her companions killed on the spot.

    The name of Sunrider had once been upon the lips of every sentient being who cared for the well-being of the Republic, a luminous icon of justice and peace in a sea of darkness and the strife it evoked. As of this moment, as she ducked to avoid a low branch that loomed over the path, thoughts of her mother and the life she had led filled Vima's mind. It was a legacy she had done her best to uphold, and at times she had wondered whether it had been a fool's errand. For ten long years she had had no one but herself to share these thoughts and memories with, and though she still spoke of them rarely, it felt good to be among company once more.

    It was at that precise moment that this comforting realization manifested itself that the smell of death tickled her nose.

    "Over there," Mira said in a hushed murmur that was almost occluded by the rain. "Take a look at this."

    She was pointing toward an indent in the path, a short branch that led to a small prefabricated structure that looked as though it had been there for a century. It was no wider or taller than the plasteel door that led inside, pockmarked with age and exposure, indicating that it was nothing more than a toolshed of some kind. However, there was a subtle texture to the rock outcropping it had been built into that suggested that all was not as it appeared. This was reinforced by what looked like piles of dead leaves that had been gathered next to it. This, however, wasn't the subject of the bounty hunter's investigation.

    The dead Mandalorian was.

    "Fresh kill, looks like," she elaborated, though Vima knew it could be nothing but. "Which means there are probably more of them."

    The three women shared a glance, but nobody spoke as they took in their surroundings in greater focus.

    "Looks like this place was built in a hurry," Vima remarked in a would-be casual voice that fooled no one. "Still easy to hide, given the terrain."

    "And easy to booby-trap," Mira smirked. "This guy either forgot about that fact, or a critter got him. But what I don't get is—"

    "—why they've come back," Vima finished for her. "It's been a decade."

    "And the signs of battle are yet evident, even here," Kreia put in somberly. "You remember, yes?"

    Vima shook her head fractionally, as though her nose was dodging raindrops. "Scattered reports of traps and mines placed for no logical reason," she rattled off as though touring old battlefields was a daily occurrence. "The only common theme we could work out was that they were within small glens very similar to this. Mira, let's see if we can get that door open."

    "Whatever you want, Jedi," Mira replied with a grin as she pulled something from her utility belt. "Just don't get careless, you're still my bounty."

    Vima allowed herself a small chuckle. Though the droid representative of the Exchange had agreed to work with her little gang, it had made no indication that the contract the organization had put out for her capture had been taken off the table. It would be front-hour news throughout the HoloNet if it had been fulfilled or canceled, if only so that audiences could groan about it to themselves or their colleagues. Treading lightly, she joined Mira at the plasteel door and set about checking it over.
     
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  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent details of the scene and setup of the mysterious discovery. Liked reading Vima's musings. =D=
     
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  8. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Thanks! It's been something on my mind to write for quite a while. KotOR II really sets the mood well when you're traveling on Dxun.
     
  9. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Edited, second attempt, round one...FIGHT!

    — — —​

    "Myri, get that damned cub outta here!"

    It was all I could do to prevent myself from taking my laser torch and zapping the young gurrcat, so that he'd leave me alone while I tried to fix my wife's landspeeder. I still don't understand what she sees in that thing; even us Corellians are hesitant to take them in as pets. But nearly hitting the thing and, in so doing crashing the vehicle into a tree, must have knocked some sentiment for the creature into her. He continued to stare at me from under the speeder, though.

    "Coming!" Myri finally called from the living room, the chinking of glass interrupting the sound of her footsteps. "Honestly Sten, if you'd take the time to try and—"

    "Not going to happen, dear," I replied curtly as she entered the garage, carrying a glass of ale, which she handed to me as I stepped toward her. "Thanks."

    From the look on her face, I could only assume that she was about to compare our courtship to her adoption of the gurrcat, however—

    "SITHSPIT!" I yelled as the security alarm, all one hundred and fifty decibels of sheer agony, activated for no immediate reason. Wheeling around I swiftly spotted the culprit and, in a fit of rage, hurled the ale mug straight at him.

    "STEN!" Myri shrieked. "Get a hold of yourself!"

    "Get a hold of that thing first!" I demanded as I reached into the cockpit and stabbed the deactivation key.
     
  10. Sokolniki

    Sokolniki Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Seems that strays are going to be the unspoken theme of this round ^_^.
     
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  11. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    I swear I didn't read your story first...actually I haven't read it yet... O:):oops:
     
  12. Sokolniki

    Sokolniki Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 7, 2014
    No worries ^_^

    Anyways, looking over your other entries, I'm quite surprised you never made it past round one. Best of luck to you this time around.

    Especially loved how you described the alarm, hehe.
     
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  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    LOL and =D= =D= I am so with Sten on this one [face_laugh] :p
     
  14. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
  15. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Love it! Now I'm curious to hear more about why their courtship was like the adoption of the gurrcat. (Namely, was Sten the analogue of the gurrcat?) :D

    I do see Sten's point--all the same, poor kitty! :)
     
  16. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Edited, round two...FIGHT!
    — — —​
    "Who goes to shooting matches in their dress reds, Lieutenant?"​
    The corporal's query struck me as humorous, not only because I had once held his rank. "Part of being an officer is to look good in public," I told him mildly. "Particularly when in competition."​
    The noncom, a Chadra-Fan newcomer to the team who was a whiz with blaster rifles, was clad in the standard Marine-issue BDUs, which did seem a bit more practical for such an occasion. Of course, I'm the only officer currently on the Marksmanship Team, and the lurid crimson of my dress uniform definitely made me a standout. But we weren't here to look pretty, though that was an unavoidable side effect in my case; rather, the six of us were here to demonstrate that there are no better marksbeings in the galaxy than the crack shooters of the Republic Marines.​
    "If you say so, ma'am," he replied, slapping home a fresh power cell, the last in the box, before taking his stance. "Range is hot in three...two...one..."​
    As the rest of us stepped back from the shooters' line he began to fire his weapon, which was easily twenty centimeters longer than he was tall. From over a kilometer away, a succession of ale glasses began to pop out of existence in quick succession. I looked on, a tight smile on my face, knowing that as he worked through this latest practice setup prior to tomorrow's match, one of us had been cooking up something special. It was a tradition in this unit to play a prank on the newbie, and Corporal Tzig-Tzik's turn was about to arrive.​
    The last of the glasses, this one set within a large tree stump sixteen hundred meters out, exploded in a shower of superheated fragments. Instead of the puff of smoke that usually greeted such an event, however, the entire stump and a fair bit of scorched hillside erupted in flames. At that moment, a loudspeaker mounted over the Chadra-Fan's bench blared into life.​
    "YOU'RE DEAD!" it announced with the voice of Sergeant Jundaat, a Weequay who had joined the team before I knew what hyperdrives were. "CONGRATULATIONS, MAGGOT!"​
    With a horrified shriek the diminutive Marine flung his blaster aside and turned toward the source, looking for something to whack it with. Nothing was available, however, and the hapless corporal began to climb the bench in hopes of wrenching the speaker out of its socket. The rest of the team were laughing themselves silly at this; I only barely managed to avoid busting a rib holding in my own mirth. It just wouldn't do for an officer to condone such pranks by appearing to enjoy themselves.​
    "Oh, you should see your face," the culprit growled smugly. "You could fry an egg on it!"​
     
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  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, you are really quite talented at these little vignetty things! Bravissimo! =D= Poor Tzig-Tzik, though... :3

    For a sec I wasn't sure where the "empty box" was. But I see where it is now. :)
     
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  18. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Thanks, Findswoman! :D

    There's just something inherently funny about a Chadra-Fan with a blaster rifle, particularly a sharpshooters' model which would tend to be rather long...
     
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  19. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Edited, final round...FIGHT!
    — — —​

    "Lighting is all set up."

    "Holocams two and three on hot standby, cam one and mobile ready to go..."

    The producer, a portly Gran in his mid fifties, leaned in close to Hallis, who was fiddling with the sound pickup attached to her blazer. "Good luck, Saper," I heard him whisper. "Knock'em dead."

    "Will you stop that?" she snapped back. "It's bad enough we're cracking open tombs..."

    "Not a tomb," I assured her gently once the Gran had tottered off. "My sources are dead certain that this room dates back to the Jedi Civil War."

    It was true that this part of Coruscant hadn't been seen by sentient eyes for centuries at least. Indeed, even the Vongforming that had engulfed so much of the planet twenty years prior had given this place a wide berth. While not at bedrock level, we were very deep within the foundations of the capital world. At first Hallis and I had thought that getting a permit to film down here would've been mired in red tape, but thanks to our Gran friend the process had been easier than finding sand on Tatooine. However, only Hallis knew what I meant when I said "sources," and it was a secret we were keen to keep.

    "Let's kick this gornt!" the director barked, his voice echoing down the corridor. "Places!"

    Stepping back amidst the film crew, I watched as Hallis stood next to the durasteel door that was the center of attention. We had already gotten shots of the area prior to uncovering the entrance, and now it was time to see what was inside.

    "Action!"

    Her silvering hair catching the light, Hallis began to narrate. "Our research has paid off," she began, her voice professionally brisk, "and we have located a heavy door that, like this corridor, isn't on any of the building's schematics." She pointed to an ancient locking mechanism centered around a finger-sized hole. "We were unsure at first what kind of key would open this lock, though it does seem to be a genetic scan."

    "Cut!" the director interjected. "Phase two, ready up! Action!"

    The producer handed Hallis a green jumjha pepper. "As odd as it may seem, we think this produce from Deralia is the key to opening this room." She took the pepper and inserted it into the hole, causing the lock to emit a soft beeping. "This is it!" she breathed. "It's opening!"

    The door gave a booming series of groans that shook the entire corridor as, slowly at first, it ground aside to reveal a room with walls lost in darkness. "We may be the first to enter this chamber in a millennium!" Hallis continued. "Let's see what's inside!"

    The mobile holocam's light ignited as its wielder crept toward the door and entered, with Hallis squeezing past. "Look at the walls," she said, her voice muffled. "They're...bare. No furniture, no computer terminal...nothing."

    "CUT!" the director yelled loudly. "Get in there and find something interesting, or we're done here!"

    The cam operator backed out of the door, his ample rear narrowly missing the director's assistant. Drawing a glowrod from my belt, I activated it and entered to find Hallis muttering to herself in the gloom. "You okay?"

    "What do you think?" she asked huskily. "All this preparation, trying to launch our own documentary series, and we've stumbled at the first hurdle."

    "Hey now," I prompted consolingly. "At least we didn't do this on a live feed. Heraldo made that mistake and his career never recovered."

    She fixed me with a look that could have been worn by Palpatine at his most malevolent. "I'm going to kill you. Slowly."

    "At least wait until we've scoured this place," I replied in a deadpan, casting my light into a few corners. "Then you can take all the time—"

    "What is it?"

    "Not sure," I said, striding toward a small lump wedged into a corner. "An old glove," I continued as we knelt to examine it. "Nibbled at by rodents?"

    Hallis carefully picked it up. "Old styling, possibly military—"

    Something metallic fell out of it, briefly catching the light as it bounced and rolled. "A coin!" I gasped, scuttling after it. "If it's as old as we think this room is, it'll finance our series for years!"

    "Klyne, there's a slot here," she muttered. "A coin slot...but why?"

    "I guess there's only one way to find out," I replied, proudly displaying it and the handful of others that had been stuffed into the glove. "Time to play slots..."
     
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  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent response to the challenge =D= LOL I thought that was a vending machine and a soda - a real old soda would fall out 8-}
     
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  21. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    You are good at facing any given challenge.

    =D=
     
  22. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Interview with a Fighter Pilot


    "Quick, here he comes!" Olro whispered, causing my lekku to vibrate in anticipation as I turned toward the exit. Someone had tipped the network off to the fact that Commander Ravartin kept his personal swoop in this particular parking facility, attached to the southwest part of the starfighter base, when on duty. Within a few minutes after our arrival my cam operator and I had staked out the closest entrance, lurking in waiting for the Human pilot to leave the facility. This was my big chance to show the affiliate and HoloNet News as a whole that I had what it took to be a war correspondent, and I wasn't going to blow it for all the spice in Kessel.

    "Get ready to flip over to live feed," I hissed as the large transparisteel door rose into the ceiling, opening the way for a handsome, if still boyish-looking, Human male to leave the facility. Dressed in a simple Marine-issue olive-gray flight suit that went undecorated save for a paradoxically gaudy unit patch on each shoulder and a identifier plate sown into the right breast above an angled pocket, he carried himself with an inner strength and poise that belied his years, and I felt my face heating up slightly at the sight of him. They don't make'em like that on Ryloth, I thought to myself with an embarrassed sort of whimsey. "Here he comes..."

    I knew that he would have to pass within close proximity of our little ambush in order to get to his bike, so I was willing to wait for the fighter pilot to make his own time. It simply wouldn't do to be seen as mobbing a war hero in some pathetic attempt to get a holo and a few muttered words, all for the sake of a scoop. No, if the public was to understand the true face of war, they weren't going to get a good sampling that way. So far as I knew, this would be the first chance any journalist was going to get to interview this particular Cross of Glory holder; some Devaronian harlot had gotten hold of Commander Pia within hours after that particular ceremony, and in my opinion she'd squandered the opportunity to really get into the head of a hero. I wasn't going to make that mistake.

    "On three, we'll make the introductions," I whispered back to Orlo, and the Duros readjusted the holocam as it rode his shoulder. "One...two...three!"

    The commander of the 23rd Marines was barely two meters from our stakeout when Orlo and I emerged from the shadows. "Commander Ravartin, may we have a few moments of your time?" I said, lowering my head in an abbreviated bow before identifying myself. "Gali Shoshak with HoloNet News, Pols Anaxes 3. This is Orlo Setillae, my cam operator."

    The young pilot seemed momentarily taken aback, but I could tell by the glint in his eyes and the way they took in his surroundings that the astonished expression was a feint. He was looking to see if any other shills were lying in wait, hoping that he would decline my invitation. After a beat he shrugged fractionally and said, in a precise and formal Coruscanti accent, "I'm still a bit tired, but I'll give it a shot."

    "Of course," I replied smoothly, artfully arranging my lekku while giving the young man time to compose himself. Orlo handed me an auxiliary audio pickup from his menagerie of pockets, and I offered it to the commander. "Here, just tack this to your collar and the cam will do the rest."

    "Thanks," he replied quite politely as he tucked the device into a fold on his flight suit, his visage unsure. "Before you start, what did you want to talk about? I've...never been on the business end of a holocam before."

    "I'm a war correspondent," I admitted, managing to keep from betraying a few tingles of nervousness. It was part of being a field reporter, and I knew they'd go away once the cam went live and the whole show got rolling. "The public wants to hear what it's like on the front lines. Just relax and answer my questions to the best of your ability."

    "The connection is on standby," Orlo advised softly. "We're ready to go whenever you are."

    "Alright," I replied, cocking my head back at him. "Commander, you'll know we're live when Orlo starts the count, going down from five. The last two will be silent and he'll cap it off with a slicing motion." I illustrated the gesture for the pilot's benefit.

    "Sounds good," he replied with a shrug, taking in and exhaling a deep breath as the cam operator moved laterally to get a better shot. "Let's do this."

    "In five...four...three..." Orlo said, then continued the silent countdown.

    "Ladies and gentles," I began, my voice transforming into the melodious but crystal clear mezzo that had gotten me this gig in the first place. "This is Gali Shoshak with your local HoloNet News. I have had the very real pleasure to encounter Lieutenant Commander Chak Ravartin, recent recipient of the Cross of Glory, the highest honor the Republic can bestow. Commander Ravartin has just participated in—and won—a mock duel with his executive officer, Lieutenant Elam Breaustar. Both men are veteran pilots, with many kills to their credit, and have served our Republic faithfully in the war against the Sith. Commander Ravartin, would you mind if I called you Chak?"

    As I had hoped, the young man's awkwardness seemed to vanish into a facade of confidence. He probably didn't know that I could tell he was putting on a front, but for all intents and purposes it didn't matter. "Not at all, ma'am," he replied briskly.

    "Thank you," I replied. "As you have no doubt become aware, you and your exec were observed by quite a large number of beings who paid for the privilege. How does this make you feel?"

    Chak's expression was inscrutable, but his reply was almost nonchalant. "Any pilot worth his wings likes to have his skills appreciated. It's not always easy to tell how good someone is at flying when laser bolts and other craft are flashing about the battlespace. It's good sometimes just to put on a show."

    "If the war were to end tomorrow, would you still be flying for the Marine Corps?"

    "It's funny you should ask that," Chak replied amiably, bringing a hand to his chin in thought. "I can't say exactly what options may be open to me, and until this war is ended I don't think it's appropriate to do so, at least not for very long."

    "From what I understand, it sounds as though all you have to do is plot a course and go. Do you feel comfortable with that situation?"

    "Not really, no," he admitted. "My pilots and my mission have always come first, anything else is a distraction. Flying a starfighter in combat isn't something you can do with your mind on your next meal, because while you're thinking about that nerf steak and mashed tubers in chobits gravy, the enemy is lining up for the kill."

    "I see," I replied, a small shiver betraying the fact that I was venturing into unfamiliar territory. Still, I hadn't stepped into this situation blind, after all; my producer wouldn't have let us go otherwise. "According to publicly-available records, you graduated from the Marine Corps Starfighter Training Program not long after this war began. Can you tell us what it was like to integrate into your first squadron when so much was going on?"

    Chak's shoulders sagged visibly, and he blew a sigh that, fortunately, wouldn't be picked up by our audio equipment—it was designed for it, in fact. "Let me put this into perspective, if I may: On my homeworld, I grew up on swoop bikes. I placed third in the All-Coruscant Junior Championships when I was sixteen, and second when I was seventeen—just in time to hear about the victory over the Mandalorians at Malachor V. The Marine Corps headhunted me, you see; it's traditional to recruit from the ranks of the amateur swoop racing circuit. So I signed the datawork in time to enter flight school a couple of months shy of my eighteenth lifeday, spending the time between the wars in the company of my fellow recruits and our instructors, combat veterans all. They taught me how to fly and the basics of how to fight, but one can never fully comprehend the sheer magnitude of space warfare until one participates in it. Flying against an enemy who means to kill you just as surely as you mean to kill him is what makes a combat pilot out of a flying nerf."

    He paused for a moment, seeming to collect himself, and I let him have that moment of profundity. A lesser reporter might have mistaken this as a complete answer, but I had a feeling it wasn't, and the commander didn't disappoint.

    "What was it like, acclimating to life in a line unit?" Chak continued somewhat huskily. "It's hours and hours of sheer boredom punctuated by a few minutes of pure unadulterated terror. Trite and cliché this might seem, but it's still true even after nearly two years of experience. But over time you learn to manage the downtime, to find ways to fill the void that will contribute to you and your comrades' ability to fight and survive. You learn to manage the fear, to acknowledge it but not let it rule you, and take the adrenaline it produces and put it to good use."

    "So, anyone who tells you they're not scared is lying or a fool, Chak?"

    "That's about the size of it, ma'am," he answered, a shrewd gleam in his eye telling me that I had impressed him. "If I were ever to overhear one of my pilots telling another that he wasn't scared, he'd be bounced from my unit sooner than you can say 'punch it.'"

    Clearly, this man was serious about running a tight unit. "I have to say, that seems quite harsh. Have you ever heard of a fellow pilot having to be suspended from duty for such reasons?"

    "I can't speak to that question, ma'am," he replied brusquely, but his voice then softened a bit. "Every man and woman who has served under my command understands that above all, the needs of the Republic and its citizens are paramount over all other concerns. If my unit was asked to face down a fleet of enemy capital ships, we would do so without hesitation. Though we might be vaped to the last, we would make the enemy pay dearly for each of our lives. When you never know when such circumstances may arise, you cannot afford dissent or discord. The military is not a democracy, but a meritocracy, and that is as it should be."

    I only barely managed to keep the shock of his words from showing on my face, though my lekku twitched a bit in horror. Such callousness in such a young Human... "Do you see yourselves as defenders of democracy, then, and not practitioners of it?"

    "There's no simple answer to that, ma'am," Chak muttered resignedly. "I can only speak for my own unit, however. Everyone from my exec on down to the most junior pilot knows that they can come to me with any suggestions they may have, be it for an upcoming operation or something much more mundane. It is my duty to take any such suggestions and evaluate them, incorporating what I feel has potential and discarding what does not. The ultimate responsibility of any commander, no matter the size of his unit, is to answer for the performance of those he commands,"

    "And yet you seem to acquit that responsibility so effortlessly," I added, almost in awe. "Do you have any regrets at all?"

    Chak's reply was short and to the point. "With all due respect, ma'am, even if I did, it wouldn't be right expressing them on holo."

    "I understand," I replied sincerely—it was a stupid question to ask, really, and I felt grateful that he hadn't beaten me over the head with it. "Let's move on to more recent events. How do you feel about holding the Republic's highest honor? Do you feel that it has changed you?"

    Though the holocam couldn't see it, I noticed out of the corner of my eye as the commander shuffled his feet slightly. "To be honest it's a mixed bag, ma'am," he began somewhat tremulously. "I don't feel as though I deserve the Cross, but it's mine whether or not I accept it, and it can never be taken away. So I don't hold it for myself."

    "Who do you hold it for?" I wondered aloud, throwing the clearly-struggling commander a safety cable.

    "I hold it for those I knew who gave their lives for the defense of the Republic, and the civilization it guarantees," he replied, his voice becoming stronger. "For me it is a symbolic thing, an acknowledgement to those who helped me to become the person I am, and who I can never repay. So the answer is no, I do not feel that holding the Cross has changed me. It has reaffirmed who I was and who I have become."

    "That is quite the burden," I said, nodding solemnly. "I am sure that our viewers can appreciate how you feel. Have you ever wondered about how the public views this war we're in now?"

    To my mild surprise, this elicited a soft chuckle. "I'm sure the show we put on over Axum got quite the view earlier. But as to your question, I don't dwell on such things. About the closest I got to Public Relations was participating in last year's Corulag swoop circuit, forming a Marine Corps squad to compete with the professional racers."

    "Ah yes, that was quite the team you put together," I acknowledged, having wondered how I was going to be able to fit that angle in. "Do you feel that your role as a squadron commander does not include being responsible to the citizenry at large? Or do you simply concentrate on the task at hand and let the upper echelons deal with public relations?"

    "Definitely the latter," Chak replied emphatically. "My superiors and the chain of command I can handle, it's a part of being in the military. But to me, opinion polls and public feedback are potential distractions to be ignored."

    Well, that was it, I had run out of questions—or rather, questions that seemed appropriate given what I now knew of this dashing young commander. After a moment's thought, however, I came up with a conclusive inquiry. "If you had known beforehand that this duel would be turned into a charity fundraiser with a live audience, would you still have participated?"

    Chak seemed a bit flustered at this, taking his time in answering. "Yes," he said simply, after taking a deep breath. "Yes, of course I would have. But to be honest, I might not have done so well."

    Now it was my turn to show surprise. "If I may ask, why do you feel that way?"

    The man mulled over his answer, grimacing slightly in thought. "When civilians are present in a battlespace, even if they are beyond the established boundaries, any number of things can go wrong and I would have to have accounted for that. In a duel setting, that is just mental overhead, more than any pilot can afford to dedicate. As defenders of the Republic, it is our sworn duty to ensure the safety of all. The Sith have thus far demonstrated that they do not care what collateral damange they cause, even when their own forces are caught in the crossfire. This is why we fight, why we are willing to sacrifice our lives for those who cannot defend themselves."

    "From what I saw, the both of you performed brilliantly," I reassured Chak, who shrugged fractionally. "Ladies and gentles, I feel honored to have had the chance to speak with Lieutenant Commander Chak Ravartin, victor in the recent War Orphans Charity Exhibition. He is truly an inspiration, and the Republic is fortunate to have beings of his character defending us from the ravages of the Sith Empire. Thank you for watching, this is Gali Shoshak with your local HoloNet News, wishing you a good evening."

    I held the smile as Olro pushed a button on his cam unit, not releasing it until a small red light mounted in the casing just above the lens winked out. With the feed terminated, I released the expression and whuffed out a big sigh; given his shared insights, I felt the pilot wouldn't mind at all and probably would've done the same thing. "Thank you for the interview, Chak," i said, offering a hand.

    He shook it firmly but not too hard, fixing me with an expression that was half scowl, half grin as he let go. "Next time you want to get some holo, let me know by comlink," he said sardonically, pulling the audio pickup from his flight suit and handing it back to Olro. "As a rule, fighter pilots don't like being ambushed."

    I let out a small giggle—I couldn't help it—and soon it was echoed by the commander. "I'll keep that in mind," I said as the Duros and I moved off to let him get to his swoop. "I guess any calls should be routed through the Public Relations office, then?"

    "Something like that," Chak called from over his shoulder, he was already leaving us behind. "But I'm not the one to ask, really."

    As the Human drew out of sight, Olro leaned in. "Did you tell him this was a live feed?"

    An electric shock jolted down my spine, and I very nearly slapped the hapless holocam operator with my unfurled lekku. "N-no, I thought you did!" I gasped. "Burning stars, he's not going to like that, is he?"

    "Don't worry about it, Gali," he assured me as he began packing away his equipment. "The talking heads back at headquarters are already spinning this like a pulsar. We did manage to get Commander Val'rath in as color commentator, remember?"

    "Yeah, you're right," I replied, calming down considerably as I led the way back to our speeder. A veteran of the Great Sith War and a few incidents later on, the Gotal was a gruff but fair analyst who seemed to delight in the fact that millions of beings actually paid attention to his opinions. "I don't think he'll mind hearing the old conehead tell it like it was."

    Fin
     
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  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Interesting and amusing adjunct to Chak entry number one oh one. :) Neat opportunity to see our hero as others see him, complete with nifty behind-the-scenes holobroadcasting details. As always, Chak's answers are sensible and perfectly in character, and good to see Gali's appreciation and understanding growing over the course of the interview.

    "I thought you did!"—very famous last words, there. :D
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh I enjoyed that! Chak's articulateness and eloquence are fantastic and genuine and qualities many twice his age haven't acquired to such an admirable degree. :) Gali's questions were focused and things the audience doubtless wondered about also. She didn't wander into unnecessary or controversial terrain and was perceptive as to his nonverbal cues. :D
     
  25. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    I'm glad you ladies liked it... ;)

    At some point in the near future (probably this week) I'll be writing up the interview with Reeka, but it will be in the format of a news magazine article much like Yank! and Stars and Stripes.
     
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