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Before - Legends I do it for the Fruit, a Mandalorian Wars Journal -- Updated 2/15

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SoA, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Title: I do it for the Fruit, a Mandalorian Wars Journal
    Author: SoA
    Timeframe: Mandalorian Wars (3965-3963 BBY)
    Characters: Kionee Rinnh, Veea Tewa, and a host of other OCs
    Genre: Adventure
    Summary: Kionee Rinnh, a young produce freighter pilot, travels to all corners of the galaxy buying, selling, and shipping fruits and vegetables for her father's company, but when she finds herself caught in the midst of a war zone, she cannot turn her back on the people in need.
    Notes: This is written for the 2012 Dear Diary Challenge.

    A while back, LaForzaViva was giving me a hard time about how, though she shows up as a major side character in my main epics and has a whole slew of short stories about her, I had no plans for Kionee Rinnh to have an epic story of her own. She just isn't an epic character. Then he pointed out that it is epic situations that pretty normal characters get caught up in that make them epic.

    It got me thinking, and so I decided to spend this year writing Kionee's story, about how she got involved in the early Mandalorian Wars by accident and really couldn't get herself back out again.

    For the purpose of this journal, I will be dating the entries using the]Galactic[/url] Standard Calendar in the format of day.month.year. As a dating system, BBY doesn't really make sense in context, so I found the nearest likely epoch defining event to call year 0: The Great Hyperspace War in year 5000 BBY. This year starts in 1034 AGHW (After Great Hyperspace War), which would be 3965 BBY by our usual fandom calender. The Mandalorians have been picking at systems in the outer rim for over a decade and the Republic has been ignoring them as a nuisance. Little do they know that Mandalore the Ultimate tires of the Republic's attitudes and plans to finally make his move against them.

    For those of you who have not yet met Kionee, I present to you the mandatory introductory entry before we start to have some fun.


    Pierelos, Glee Anselm, Jalor Sector

    This journal belongs to Kionee Rinnh of the Javan-class freighter, the Viridian. If found, and the Viridian has already left the system, please forward it to:

    Gad Rinnh, CEO
    Rinnh Imports Galactic Headquarters
    Lavencroth-Wilder Tower, Level 346
    Eastern Commerce District 47-32-99846-123

    If getting this all the way to Coruscant is too much trouble for you, just drop it at the closest Rinnh Imports sector office and they'll make sure dad gets it back to me. Or find any traders affiliated with Rinnh Imports, and have them forward it to the same address.

    Well, now that that's over with, I can actually get down to what this journal is actually for: journaling.

    Veea, MT-412, and I are on Glee Anselm again. This is the end of our second day in Pierelos with the Nautolans, and then we're heading to Anselom, the Anselmi capital city before we take off at the end of the week. It's nice to be able to spent almost a full week on one planet, and Glee Anselm is a really nice place. The Nautolans and Anselmi are really nice to me and Veea, even if they don't treat each other very well. It's a shame that two amazing peoples like them can get along so poorly, just because they look differently and one likes the water while the other prefers dry ground. You'd think that because they split up the planet so nicely in the wet parts and dry parts that they'd compliment each other perfectly. I guess it's the sentients' curse to hate sharing what you have with anyone, even if you both were born on the same planet.

    I've had the Viridian for a little more than a year and a half now, which is kind of hard to believe. Even at seventeen, I'm pretty much the youngest pilot in all of the Rinnh Imports fleet. Some systems would argue that that's hardly legal to let someone my age work the freighter circuit, or work like this at all, but being the founder's daughter, it's different for me. Cash, Roshind, and Everel have all had their own ships and doing the rounds since I was nine or ten, so I couldn't wait to have a ship of my own, flying all over the galaxy, just like them. Granted, I was Roshind's co-pilot for a couple of years, and traveled around with Dad before that, but that's not the same as the freedom you have of setting your own course, making your own way.

    Besides, Dad only let me have the Viridian if I promised to keep up my studies and sent MT-412 along with me. MT sure takes his job seriously, and I get lessons and homework every time we're in hyperspace. He wouldn't let me go off on my own without a partner either, so he hired Veea Tewa as my co-pilot and business partner. She's much more of a salesperson than a pilot, so it works out great with the both of us. Roshind tells me that the screening process Dad went through to pick her out of all his existing employees was the most intense set of interviews he's ever done, and I'd believe it. Veea is a sharp Rodian and she looks after me almost as well as she looks after our cargo and earnings. So, I get to have a job, adventures, and still stay in school to keep the Republic Board of Education happy. And that keeps me happy.

    The best part about my job, my life, is all of the traveling. I guess that might be obvious, being a freighter pilot and all. The people I meet and the things I get to see are amazing. I can't believe that there are so many people in this galaxy content just to stay where they are and not itch to see more of what is out there. I've probably visited hundreds of systems in the last couple of years alone, since I got the Viridian, and I'm always getting assignments to new places. Dad knows I like that, so he hasn't stuck me with a regular circuit yet like most of the rest of his pilots.

    Though there are sectors of the galaxy that Rinnh Imports deals in that Dad has been keeping me out of. He never told me himself, but Veea noticed it a couple of months ago. He's keeping us far away from any of the zones the Mandalorians have been fighting their skirmishes in. All three of my older siblings too. Rinnh deals with both Republic and non-Republic systems alike, but I haven't gotten any non-Republic assignments in months. I can't blame Dad for being nervous though. The Viridian doesn't have much of a weapons system and we never know where the Mandalorians are going to strike next. At least Lorrd isn't off his list for me. I love Lorrd, and he's finally letting me go back there on our next drop. The way they crystallize their half-frozen juices there is amazing. It's like a cross between those fancy sparkling juices I always wind up drinking at Dad's parties instead of wine and fruit smoothies, only way better.

    Then there's all the amazing, exotic fruit and vegetables. Like, I can't believe that no one core-ward has ever heard of uiqqi before. It's this great little fruit that grows in bunches and looks like a shriveled nut or berry or something like that, but has the texture of a melon, and this mellow, sweet flavor, all in bite-sized nuggets. It's my new favorite fruit. It gets passed all around the outer rim of the galaxy, as it's a huge favorite among Nikto, and Nikto are really everywhere out here. I'm really surprised that it hasn't picked up farther in though. I keep telling Dad that his publicity folks should start pushing it on Coruscant. We'd make a lot of money if it takes off there too.

    And then there's that people wouldn't look at me like I'm crazy when I rave about how good it is.

    Not all the time, but in a lot of places, our major suppliers, and the newer minor suppliers, will usually treat us to nice meals of the produce they are trying to sell us. That is always delicious. Well, almost always anyway. The puree mush those Verpines served me last month was hard to get down with a straight face. It was some kind of local comfort food, I understand, but not even Veea ate it after a couple spoon-fulls. She likes to pretend that Rodians have more sensitive stomachs than humans do.

    That sounds like Veea right now, back with the port loader droids. She really is fast. I hope I learn to be as good a negotiator as she is some day. I should put this down and help her load up the new shipment.
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    love to see your character Kionee
  3. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    Hoorah for Kionee finally getting her own story! I'm definitely excited to finally be getting the details, from her perspective, of how she got herself into this war. :D
  4. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    I'm humbly stunned that I'm even mentioned as providing you with an idea, but I'm so glad to finally see a Kionee story as to how she got herself so mixed up in the Mandalorian War!

    This is going to be what, the fourth PM list of yours I'll be on? :cool:
  5. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    I'm waffling whether I want to move into more of a first-person narrative style for this, but for now, it's very much Kionee rambling into a journal. Here we have part two:


    Lorrd City, Lorrd, Kanz Sector

    Veea and I are on Lorrd now, and I can't even say how glad I am to be back. I think it's been just about two years since I came here last, when I was still my sister Roshind's co-pilot. Lorrd is one of the coolest places in the galaxy. Of course, it's plain old cold, not just cool. The whole planet is covered in ice, but a thin crust with an active core not far beneath the surface makes it livable. At least, that's what all the tourist brochures say. Hot springs and geothermal power and all that make it happen. Though, there aren't many settlements on the planet, just moderate sized cities like the capital here. It's hard to sustain anything smaller on an ice planet like this, I guess.
    What makes Lorrd so amazing is how the cities really are like a part of the natural landscape. They make their homes out of stone, mostly, but then they coat the outsides with ice and carve amazing designs into it. With ice as a decorative coating, people are always dousing it with water and re-carving whenever they feel like their neighbor has a nicer ice facade than they do. I swear whole neighborhoods are trying to one-up each other. The outcome is spectacular. Every street you go down is lined with amazing ice sculptures, impossibly arching doorways, and spires like up-side-down icicles. There isn't a whole lot of color, but the way the ice reflects the blue sky above more than makes up for it. The most anyone does is a bright colored door or canvass overhang. I'm glad we got to take an above-ground speeder to the Premiere Palace today while the sun was up, now that we're on the mag rail subway on the way back to the suburbs. I didn't want to miss all the beauty of Lorrd City.

    We got here early enough this morning that our hosts were just making their breakfast. Dad insisted that we take the invitation of the Relems and stay at their estate while we were here. Rinnh hasn't been dealing with Lorrd as much as the locals would like, lately, and he says it's important to make our major clients feel important. Especially since our trips to Lorrd aren't for trade, they're purely for sales. Lorrd is an import economy, as far as food is concerned, because they don't really have the capability to farm even enough food for their own economy. I came here with a full hold, and Veea and me are going to do our very best to sell it all.

    The Premiere of Lorrd wanted to see us as soon as we got here. He is one of our biggest clients. There was already an order manifest waiting for us at the Relems' estate when we got here, so, after breakfast, we loaded up everything we could into a speeder and went into the center of the city to the Premiere's Palace. Some of the Premiere's people unloaded our crates while we were practically carried off on a tour of the palace, its grounds, and their iced-roof greenhouse.

    If the one-up-manship in the city created spectacular works of art on the front of people's houses, the palace was incredible. Even as we toured, a group of sculptors were at work in one of the wings, making it even more beautiful. Somehow, they manage to heat the floors without melting the ice on the walls and ceilings. All the same, you have to wear a coat and hat indoors, and there are little space heaters under all of the furniture to keep you warm when you are sitting still. I'm not sure I could live here, as fashionable as their coats and winter wear are, but I sure do like to visit.

    Just how they keep their gardens going in the courtyards is a wonder too. Our guide said something about hot spring water being constantly circulated through the soil just below the surface to keep the frost off, but it still baffles my own sense of how things should be seeing beautiful, delicate flowers in the ground when I can see my own breath in the air. The greenhouse is less of a mystery, but I am amazed at the variety of things the Premiere has managed to grow here. I saw some trees that I thought only grew in tropical climates. Just when we were in there, I saw at least twenty gardening staff keeping the plants happy, and that can't be all of them. That kind of indoor garden must be an incredibly expensive luxury on this planet.

    By the time our tour was done, it was time for lunch, and the Premiere and his wife themselves had us at their table. We were introduced to all sorts of ministers of this and that, and they made sure that we were seated near the Minister of External Trade and the Minister of Agriculture and Husbandry. The meal was mostly meats and grains. (I'm sure the grains were imported. They don't have the land for that kind of thing here, even if they had hundreds of greenhouses.) Though they did also include a small salad of their own local and hybrid greens. It looks like there are some green things that can grow here on this frigid planet.

    I really need to get Veea to stop trying to chat with me in Rodian when we're with our clients. I know she hates using Basic except for when she has to for business, and it's not because she can't speak it. She is as good at it as any other alien, but she's a proud Rodian and doesn't like to admit to the culture that Humans dictate what language the galaxy uses for trade. It's bad form to talk in front of your hosts in a language they don't understand. I keep telling her that. We save Rodian only for when we need to have a few private words in the middle of a business deal. Even then, it's not really even polite. MT-412 has drilled me well. I should have him give Veea a good etiquette lecture one of these days when we're stuck in hyperspace for a few days at a time.

    After lunch was a meeting with the Minister of External Trade and a bunch of his people. Veea was back to her manners and polite as she ever is. They had already looked over just what we had to offer them and proposed a deal for it. Veea drove a hard bargain and got us far more than they initially wanted to spend. I really wish I had her skill at that. Though, sometimes, I think she charges people far more than what our produce is worth. Of course, they pressured us to send more shipments in. I expected that, but I couldn't make any promises. That is Dad's department. I just fly the fruit in where he tells me to. By the time that was over, the sun was already going down and the Relems were expecting us for dinner, so we made our exit. Veea insisted that it would be much more cost-effective for us if we took the subway back, and that it would be too dark to see the city even if we did take a speeder, so here we are on the mag rail in a tube underground, taking the long journey back out to the suburbs.

    There's not a whole lot of people on the train with us, and they're all human, except for Veea. Lorridians all have really fashionable coats this year. It makes me want to go out and get one for myself before we leave here. They are all these nice wool coats in bright jewel tones, with contrasting lining, sometimes in fun patterns. The women's coats are almost skirted at the waist, with all sorts of tucks, pleats, and gathers. Over all their bulky, warm clothes, they almost look like winter dresses. I really do want one. I should take a look at my account when we get back to the ship to see if I have the credits to spare for a nice coat. MT-412 always tells me that being well dressed is half the battle in getting new business partners to respect you. I say the other half is the fact that my dad owns the company, but I really do try to earn my way without having to play that card. It doesn't seem fair otherwise.

    Something has just happened. I don't know what yet, but I think we lost power. All of a sudden the lights dimmed really low and the train stopped humming. I think it's just coasting now, to a stop. The only lights in here are the glow strips along the floor and some dim glow bulbs near all of the exits. Someone is saying that it's emergency power. No one seems to think that this is normal and some folks are already getting really worried. The lady in the seat across from me just started complaining that her comm can't get any reception, and no one else seems to be able to reach anyone on the surface.

    One man mentioned that it might have something to do with the recent problems with Arguzdan terrorists on Lorrd. That sure isn't helping the mood here.

    That was just the train driver announcing that we should all stay calm and stay where we are while they figure out how to get us going again. Veea says that telling us to stay calm is all the more reason to believe that there really is a crisis and it's out of even the driver's hands. I am going to go see what I can find out.
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    excellent details of the planet and nice update
  7. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Sorry for the delay on this! I know I've fallen way off the challenge by now, but this is still a story I want to finish at some point. I've had this and the next three chapters done for a long while hand written on the sly while I was supervising study halls this summer, but it took me until now to get them all typed up and revised. That, and the board crash.

    I'm glad you liked Lorrd Earlybird. We really don't have anything in canon to explain what Lorrd was like before the Kanz Disorders, so I went and had some fun with that.


    Lorrd City, Lorrd, Kanz Sector

    The last three days have been something like a bad dream that doesn't end when I wake up, it just gets worse. I'd rather be asleep and dreaming, but here I am awake in the dead of night, not that day time brings any light down here, because it's my turn to keep watch. Not that I could sleep anymore anyway, not with my stomach feeling like it's trying to wrap itself around my spine.

    It wasn't the Arguzdan terrorists that caused our mag train to short out of power. It's worse. Much worse. The Mandalorians are on Lorrd. The best anyone can figure is that they attacked Lorrd City's main power plants first thing when they arrived. In the last three days, only two people have managed to get comm calls out, and the news was all bad. The Premier Palace was vaporized from orbit, leaving one giant puddle in the middle of the capital, and the Mandalorians with their war droids pounded all the major air fields into icy rubble.

    At first, no one could imagine why the Mandalorians would come here. Lorrd is hardly a strategic planet on any trade routes and it's not known for being a world of warriors to challenge the Mandalorians. Then Marno, a Lorridian man who has kind of headed up our little group since the attack, said that they might be after Lorrd's shield production facilities, like where he works. Lorrd produces some of the best shielding technology on the outer rim, thanks its harsh habitat. That, and the rare metal mines.

    Marno was really the first person to make any sense of the situation when our train stopped. After sitting in the dark, waiting for more instructions from the train conductor and getting none, for almost three hours, someone in our car finally got a comm call through. That was when we knew it was the Mandalorians. We were sitting near that lady when she made the call, and so was Marno. He talked her down and wouldn't let her panic. Us either. He didn't even let her tell the rest of the car what she'd heard. He just told everyone that we needed to get out. People were scared, but somehow he managed to keep everyone calm, giving everyone a job or something to watch for.

    We pried open the side doors and all jumped out onto the tracks. Some people still in other cars of the train watched us squeeze by shaking their heads. They didn't know, and we kept going anyway. Marno said a big group would be even more dangerous, we just had to get ourselves out.

    I'm not sure how long we walked, but we hadn't made it to the next station when we heard people coming. I thought for a second that maybe they were coming to rescue us, but there were no voices, and the foot falls were in too careful of unison. You could hear the clatter of armor and weapons echoing down the subway tunnel. Luckily, we had just passed a maintenance passage, so we all turned around and got inside that crowded passage as quick as we could. I think we were just barely all inside when the lights of their head lamps came around the bend. I was hardly breathing I was so scared. Had they heard us run away? We weren't exactly quiet. I watched them march by through the grate in the wall I was shoved up against.

    No one said anything after that for more than an hour, I'm sure. A while later, I could hear something that sounded like shots back down the tunnel where we came from. Screams too, but that might have just been my over-active imagination. I felt sick. I wanted to throw up. We could have warned those people and told them to run. We could have helped them, but now they're either dead or captured. I'm sure everyone else heard it too, but no one said anything. No one has said anything about it, not in the last three days. Nobody wants to. Sometimes the injustice of it all just makes me want to scream, but I can't. I'm too afraid, to hungry, too exhausted.

    Maintenance tunnels like the one we were hiding in usually lead up to the surface or at least to another tunnel. This one kid who can't have been much older than me, I think his name is Tarrin, volunteered to follow the tunnel up to its end. He came back less than an hour later saying that he could hear the Mandos on the other side of the exit, wherever it led. We were stuck.

    I think we spent the night in that crowded piece of tunnel. I guess we could have spread out more, but no one wanted to stray far. Once everyone was awake the next morning, we all agreed in whispers to keep moving. There had to be another way out. But every maintenance shaft we passed was either blocked by rubble at the top or clearly would take us out into danger, so we kept walking in the dark. We always had to pass through the stations really carefully, in ones and twos. I don't know where the Mandos get so many soldiers, but there seemed to be one or two occupying every station. We must not be the only ones trying to use the subways as an underground road if they're watching it so carefully.

    All this sneaking around, not saying a word, being so careful so that you don't even breathe too loud, the stress is wearing me thin. I haven't eaten since that first night. No one has, so I can't complain, but that doesn't make it any easier. I feel like I'm sitting on pins here, just waiting for the Mandalorians to stop ignoring us, show up, and put a blaster to my head. I want to cry or to throw up, but I can't. Veea has hardly said three words together since we got stuck down here, and that's not helping either. I just keep thinking about how we're only four more stations away from the Relems' house, MT-412, and the Viridian with its cargo hold still half full of food. I need something familiar. I need to get back to my ship or I may just fall apart down here. I am so glad someone like Marno is taking charge. When he talks and gets us going every morning, I start to think that it might not be so bad after all.

    The problem now is that we really are stuck. We're just outside North Central Station, the main exchange point for all of the northern suburb lines, and it's crawling with Mandos. Tarrin ran up ahead a few hours to check it out and came back with that terrible news. There doesn't seem to be any way to get past. So, we're holed up in another dead-end maintenance shaft, waiting for something to change. I think we're resting hiding a lot more now than we did at first. Everyone is getting hungrier and weaker. No one complained when Marno called for an early stop today. I think some people are starting to give up. How can we get past North Central Station? Marno promises to go out first thing tomorrow morning to see if he can find some way around, or some gap in the Mandalorian guards’ watches that can let us slip by. He sounds way more optimistic than I think he feels. I saw that look in his eyes.

    Dad and everyone else must be worried sick. I want to tell them all that I'm alright now, even if I don't know how we'll ever get out of here. The Mandalorians can't stay forever. Eventually they'll have everything they want from Lorrd and they'll leave. We just have to keep from getting ourselves caught or starving to death before then.

    Why Lorrd? Why now? I want to go home to my ship. I want my family.
  8. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    And because I want to get this rolling again....


    The Viridian, Hyperspace

    After almost a week after the occupation started, the Mandalorians weren't showing any signs of leaving. Really no one had any idea why they were hanging around so long. Maybe the Lorridian's were putting up a fight somewhere after all. But really, our little group ceased to care any more. We stopped moving some time during the fifth day and settled in. Everyone was so hungry all they wanted to do is rest. Marno kept taking trips out and looking for another way past the Mandos, but he always comes back, saying nothing. He doesn't lose hope, though. Even Tarrin stopped asking to go along.

    Yesterday morning, Veea suddenly got that determined look in her eyes and stood up. She was this awful gray-green color that she gets when she's really sick, but the way she walked right up to Marno when he got back from his scouting and asked him, in Basic, to relate everything he knew about the Mandalorian's guard posts, I knew she had decided that she wasn't going to just sit here and die. Rodians are fighters, and she has it in her blood. Marno was pretty shocked to hear her speak such clear Basic, but he told her everything. I didn't get a chance to ask her what she was on about before she slipped out of our hiding place and disappeared.

    I think it was four hours later when she finally came back. She ignored Marno and the rest of the people and came straight for me. “Are you strong enough for a climb, Blondie?” she asked me right away in Rodian, “I think I found us a way past the Mandalorian guards.”

    How are we going to get all these people past them?” I asked, “I would have thought Marno would have found a way by now if it was at all possible.”

    Marno didn't grow up climbing in the jungles of Rodia like you and I,” Veea replied, “No, Kionee, it's just going to be the two of us.”

    That was when the argument started. I was really glad that none of the others understood Rodian. All the same, they recognized an argument when I started raising my voice and they all started to stare, in that exhausted, sleepy way.

    We can't just leave these people here to starve!” I exclaimed.

    Yes we can,” Veea snapped, “Unless you want to sit here and starve with them. That's our only other option right now, and you know it. Either we leave for the Viridian right now, or we starve to death, and personally, I don't like the idea of just sitting around and waiting to die.”

    I didn't like it, but I didn't like the idea of dying either. I had just kept on hoping that the Mandalorians would pick up and leave and this nightmare would end. So far, it hadn't, and it was getting to be too dangerous. I bit my lip. “If we can get past the Mandalorians, and if my ship is still there, and if we can get off-planet, then we can go get help,” I said, but it seemed like an awful lot of if's.

    I'd rather die trying than die waiting for help that isn't going to come,” Veea replied.

    I took a deep breath, suddenly doubting it all, then told everyone our plan. I told them where to find the Relems' estate, if they could sneak past the Mandalorian guards too, and that I would leave my whole cargo there for them, or whatever was still left of it. Some people looked mad that we were trying to leave them and go out on our own, but most of them were too weary to care.

    So Veea took me near the edge of the station. I nearly fainted when I first got up and started walking, but then I got used to that light-headed dizzy feeling. Veea showed me what she had found. There was a slim ladder built into the wall for ceiling maintenance just before the station. Although it was a good ten meters off, she pointed out that there was a narrow ledge, only a few centimeters wide, above the sliding station doors. We would have to repel from light fixtures and pipes in the ceiling from the ladder to the first of the doors, and then swing on the pipes between each door ledge, and be completely silent about it. The whole stretch of climbing was almost hundred meters long, the length of a train.

    Just looking at it made me dizzy, but I couldn't argue with Veea. This was our only chance. I let her go first, watching her every move. Veea, as a Rodian, is a natural climber, but even she looked strained. Still, I saw how she did it, and I know waiting any longer wouldn't help, so I climbed up after her. It was hard, probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. My hands got sweaty and it was hard to keep a good grasp on the cold pipes. I was already light-headed, and the heights and swinging only made it worse. I started to shake so badly that a couple of times I just had to stop and cling to the wall, breathing hard, for five minutes at a time until the shaking stopped. I was so scared that I was going to slip and fall. If the fall didn't kill me, the Mandalorians sure would, and then they'd start looking for our friends to kill too. I have never been so glad I spent all those years as a kid goofing around in the Rodian jungle with all the other kids.

    Somewhere near the middle, the pipe I swung on didn't like all of my weight and made this terrible grating, screeching noise. I almost let go of it right there, I was so startled. I almost screamed too. Good thing I was too out of breath to scream. I heard the Mandalorians debate what that sound was, and I heard their footsteps come closer. I desperately leaned into the wall above the doors and held my breath, but that only made me dizzier. My heart was pounding so loud, I was afraid they would hear that too. Luck or the Force must have been on our side. They came to the tracks and poked their heads out, shining their lights up and down the tunnel, but they didn't look at the ceiling. They talked for a while, standing practically right under me, and then the went away again. It took me a couple more minutes before I was feeling ready to start moving again.

    We made it to the other side without any other trouble, Veea glared at me for making so much noise, but I think she knew that I was doing my best. I can't even say how glad I was to have solid ground beneath my feet again and give my sore arms and hands a break. I was still shaking pretty badly as we crept away and down the tunnel. I don't think I made it more than ten steps to safety when I practically collapsed against the wall. Without saying a word, Veea found the closest maintenance closet and helped me there step by step. I know she was annoyed and anxious to get on, but she knows just how much easier humans get tired out than Rodians do. I fell asleep almost as soon as I hit the floor.

    Veea only let me sleep for a couple of hours before she got me up and going again. I know she feared that the longer we sat around and rested, the harder it would be to get going again. The next two stations were much easier. There was only one guard at each, and we just had to wait until his back was turned to duck below the level of the doors and sneak by.

    The last station was more of a problem. This time, we had to get up to the surface, and walking right past the Mandalorian guard to the lift wasn't an option. Veea found one of the maintenance shafts near the station. I hid in that dark closet, resting, while Veea climbed all the way up that ladder tube. For once, this one's exit wasn't blocked and it opened up in a street that wasn't heavily guarded. Veea said that when she peeked out, she didn't see any Mandalorian boots at all. All the same, we decided to wait until after dark to make our move.

    Once Veea said that the coast was clear, we pushed off the man-hole cover and climbed out. It was cloudy and gray; that kind of not-quite-dark right before dawn. It was cold, but the whole stillness of it all made me shiver. Cities shouldn’t be that still, even in the early morning.

    Now I’m even more glad we took a cab to the palace. We had come out on the main street that we drove down on our first day here. Thank goodness for Rodian sense of direction (and I’ve got some of that trained into me too). We snuck down those icy streets as fast and quietly as we could. I was always afraid of Veea’s green skin or my bright blue jacket catching someone’s eye, but there was no one to see us.

    Neither of us felt comfortable traveling on the main street, even if that was the easiest way back. We wound up cutting through a maze of icy back porches and alleyways, always trying to keep parallel to the main street.

    When we were a little over half way there, there was a screeching roar in the sky. It sounded like some terrible bird—on a rocket. Veea went head-first into the snow bank, but it took me a second to react. By then, I was gaping up at the narrow band of sky between the buildings, watching one of those Mandalorian war droids blast through the sky over us. It was so low, it was a wonder that it wasn’t melting the icy facades of the buildings with its engines.

    Other than that ringing in my ears, there was no sound in the city. When Veea got up, I was still staring frozen at the sky. She slapped me and chewed me out in an angry whisper that I might have been seen. She dragged me down another side alley and we buried ourselves in a snow bank and waited, but no one came looking for us. I guess I hadn’t been seen after all.

    After maybe half an hour of that, my fingers were turning blue and I convinced Veea to get moving again. The sun was beginning to come up and we’d be more easily spotted in daylight. The closer we got to the Relems’ house, we heard more patrols on the main street. We heard the war droids pass over not too far away a few more times. Through those times, Veea insisted we keep moving faster.

    We skirted way around the main shopping street and were finally in the right neighborhood. The roads were wider and there were fewer places to hide. There was no one else on the street. We ran two blocks at full tilt, zig-gagging between speeders and snow sculptures for cover.

    Less than a hundred meters away from the Relems’ house, we ducked panting beneath a big delivery speeder. We couldn’t go straight for the front door. That left us too exposed. I wracked my brain for another way in, trying to remember the layout of their house from our brief stay before, but ti was like wading through a fog of my hunger, cold, and exhaustion-inflicted dizziness. Laying there on my belly beneath that speeder, all I wanted to do was sleep—or die. Veea was hardly doing any better, but we were both pretending hard to each other that were okay. Suddenly, out of that delirious haze, it occurred to me that there was a back entrance for foot traffic into their private hangar in the hillside. Mrs. Relem did say that she would leave it unlocked in case we got back late that night. I hoped it was still unlocked then.

    It would be another mad dash across exposed ground into who knows what on the other side of the hill, but ti seemed like a good idea at the time. Crazier still, Veea thought it was a good idea too.

    We crawled out from under that speeder and ran. We were so close I didn’t want to worry about cover any more. I think I must have slipped and fell once or twice on the icy ground—I have a bruise on my leg I can’t explain—but it was all a blur.

    Suddenly, we were leaning on the sheltered door frame to the hangar, panting and grinning. For only a second, I thought the pounding in my ears was the sound of Mandalorians following us. When I realized it wasn’t, I almost laughed out loud.

    I did laugh when the door opened up, still unlocked, then I broke down and cried, collapsing right there on the duracrete hangar floor, when I saw my Viridian again. MT-412 was clanking down the loading ramp almost immediately. He would have been crying too, if he had the facilities, he was so relieved to see us. I think I gave him a hug. I forgot about being tired or hungry or being stuck on Lorrd. I was so happy just to be back and feeling safe.

    MT took us staring to Mr. And Mrs. Relem. They were hiding in their basement with only a small glow light to see by. There were more tears and hugs. They had taken us for dead after all this time. They gave us some food and water and blanked, at then we told each other what we knew of the invasion.

    The Mandalorians had knocked out all the residential power and imposed a lock-down. Everyone was to stay in their home or “face the consequences.” Already, the cold was starting to get to them and they were starting to run out of food.

    MT apologized for giving them some of our stock for free, but that is exactly what I’d hoped he’d done.

    When I told them of my plan to get off planet and get help, they thought I was joking at first, but when they realized I wasn’t, Mrs. Relem tried to convince me not to go. Her husband realized that if I was willing and wanting to help them, they should help me. He convinced me to rest, recover, and wait until just before dawn the next morning with the light was flattest.

    I thought waiting a whole day would feel impossible, but I conked right out and was asleep for most of it. By the time I woke up, after dark, MT had off-loaded all off our produce to give away, as I had asked, and Mr. Relem had planned out the best route for me to follow. I was to go west along the ground and away from the city so I could run away from the dawn and any cities or mines where the Mandalorians might be.

    For the last hour or so before we left, we all sat together around the glow lamp in their dark basement talking about nothing: fruit business, our families, the Coruscant vs. Nubia sphereball game last week, and then it was finally time to go. Suddenly both of the Relems had tons of advice. Just how to fly, where to go, when to leave surface flying and climb up to the atmosphere. I really don’t remember much of it. It was right about then that everything started feeling unreal.

    Veea, MT, and I loaded onto the Viridian, they opened the hangar doors and waved us off. I engages the lifts, then the engines, and we were off. As soon as we were out in the open air, out in the gray darkness, I wanted to turn around, but one thought of all those people hiding in the subway tunnels, basements, or wherever and starving made me keep going.

    We flew west along the route Mr. Relem gave us, stay low to the ground. In minutes, we were away from the suburbs and flying over open snowfields. With any luck, the silver Viridian would blend in to the snow from above. We swerved northward, away from a set of mines the Mandalorians might be occupying, slowly approaching our escape zone. Veea said nothing the whole while, just fine tuning our calculations and keeping her ear on open chanel com chatter, just in case. MT sometimes said something hopeful, then shuffled back out of the cockpit again.

    I was too focused to be scared. It occurred to me every once in a while that if the Mandalorians spotted us, we were toast. The Viridian had atmospheric head shields, but nothing that could hold out against repeated laser fire, and our single drop-down blaster turret below the cockpit couldn’t hurt anything larger than a speeder. For that hour-long ground-hugging flight, I willed myself not to think about it.

    A huge white mountain range rose up before us out of the cloudy haze. That was our escape. I rose with the ground into the foothills, then to the craggy mountains. As we broke into the clouds, I gave the stony peaks more space and turned the Viridian’s nose upward, giving the thrusters as much power as was still safe. We rocketed out of the clouds and into the inky black, star-spattered sky faster than I had ever pushed the Viridian into the atmosphere before. All of my attention was on the controls. Veea was supposed to be watching for Mandalorian ships. My tension grew, but she didn’t say anything.

    The Viridian started to hum and rattle as we cut through the atmosphere. It didn’t like the noises my ship was making, but I didn’t dare slow down. When I thought I couldn’t bear it any more, we were out, but I couldn’t breath easily yet. We still had to get out of Lorrd’s gravity well without Mandalorians blasting us out of the sky.

    Suddenly Veea was sitting stiffly, antennae twitching. “Two ships coming in fast from the southeast,” she reported, “I’d be they are Mandalorian war droids.”

    For a second, I froze. “How fast?” I asked.

    “Too fast,” she answered.

    “Have those hyperspace calculations ready,” I ordered, then yelled for MT, “MT, get us all the power you can to the thrusters. Cut the power to the refrigeration units, the climate control, and the cabin lights, whatever. Just get me more power!”

    Veea as right, I could see two specks of silver coming around the planet’s horizon way too quickly. They would be in range too soon. I leaned on the throttle harder, but it didn’t help. I yelled form MT to hurry, then suddenly, the ship gave a lurch and lunged into a faster climb. The lights flickered out and the air started to feel stale, but we were moving.

    I twas beginning to be able to see blue suited Mandalorians on their silver droids in the distance when Veea yelled, “Hyperdrive, now!”

    I punched the lever forward and we were out. For a second, I didn’t believe it. It wasn’t until Veea started spouting her muttered relief in rapid Rodian profanities that I realized we were safe. I think I screamed out of relief.

    We made a brief course correction stop once we were out of system. There, we transmitted messages to our families that we were alive and going for help before we set a course for Mgren Station and jumped to hyperspace again.

    We still have about forty-five minutes before we arrive there. I don’t know what I’ll say when we get there, but they have to know about Lorrd.
  9. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    It's been over two months... time for another update.


    Mgren Station, Mgren-4, Mgren System, Kanz Sector

    I’ve been to Mgren Station several times before as a produce supplier. It’s the main command post for the Republic operations in this sector, as I understand it, and the leadership likes to keep eating fresh food on the other rim, even when the station is orbiting a lifeless moon of a lifeless planet in a lifeless system. I’d just been there last month. Dad usually sends a Rinnh to do military jobs like this, for security reasons, so this is a pretty frequent stop for me.

    There usually are a few of those Hammerhead ships docket at the station, but today there was one of those flat T-shaped frigates. Usually, I’d have the security clearance codes send to me just before each drop, but I didn’t have anything current this time. I hadn’t been back in real space for five minutes yet when the station hailed me, asking for clearance codes. I gave them my most recent codes, but they wouldn’t take it. The Viridian was in their database, however, so they didn’t call out the fighters on me right away.

    “Cut your engines and hold your position, Viridian,” a voice ordered over the comm, “What is your purpose and cargo?”

    “The Mandalorians took Lorrd,” I told them, “We just got away. The Republic has to know about it.”

    There was a pause. “So you are requesting asylum as refugees of war?”

    That wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I said yes anyway. I just wanted to dock, for starters, anyway. They directed me to one of the usual civilian docking bays. We landed and all three of us got out to meet the man who was already there to greet us.

    “Welcome to Mgren Station, crew of the Viridian,” he said stiffly, “I understand you are refugees from an Outer Rim conflict with the Mandalorians?”

    “They’ve invaded and occupied Lorrd,” I answered as confidently as I could, “I think the Republic Military should know about how they attacked Lorrd and what they were doing there.”

    “Ah,” he said, thinking hard, “I will take you to a conference room then, and see who is available to debrief you.” He paused then asked, “Do you need any medical attention? Repairs to your ship?”

    “No, we’re pretty much fine,” I stammered, “Really hungry, still, though. We haven’t really eaten much in the last week since the invasion.”

    He agreed to send in some food once we were settled in a conference room. After leading us down a couple of corridors and up (or down, I don’t remember) a lift or two, he left us alone in a long conference room. A droid came in with food and water soon after that. I was disappointed that it was all re-hydrated stuff, none of our produce, but any food tastes great today. We waited for a long time, but no one came, so I dozed off in my chair.

    I woke up to MT saying, “Mistress Kionee!” as the door opened. A blond man in a neat gray uniform came in and introduced himself as Captain Saul Karath of the frigate Reciprocity.

    I stumbled to my feet and introduced us, “I am Kionee Rinnh. I pilot the Viridian for Rinnh Imports. Veea Tewa is my partner and copilot, and this is MT-412, my protocol droid.”

    “You being one of our Rinnh delivery girls is how you know about this station, correct?” he asked crisply.

    “Yes, and I didn’t tell anyone where we were going,” I suddenly realized why he was irritated, “There’s no way the Mandalorians could have gotten a tracker on us, and we took two decoy jumps getting here.”

    He nodded and sat himself down at the end of the table, so I sat down again too. “I understand you just came from Lorrd, which has recently been occupied by the Mandalorians.”

    I said yes, but before I could ask him anything, he set this little recording device on the table, and looking annoyed about the whole thing, began asking us specific questions about the invasion. Between what Veea and I experienced and what MT found out in the suburbs, we were able to answer most of his questions, if a bit vaugly sometimes. His questions lasted a good ten minutes before he even started asking us about our experience underground and how we escaped. I told him everything I could remember and offered to get him a copy of my journal. Veea put in some details here and there too. He seemed satisfied and turned off his recorder, looking ready to go, but I quickly said, “I’m going back. I can’t let all those people starve, but I need food and supplies to give them.” He laughed at me, but I argued, “No, I’m dead serious.”

    He frowned and replied, “You want to fly alone back into a war zone with a commercial freighter? Lorrd isn’t even a member of the Republic.”

    “But Lorridians are people too, and the Republic owes it to all the peaceful sentients in our reach to help them,” I argued.

    “You go too far with generosity that is not your own,” Saul disagreed, “This is not a humanitarian supply station.”

    “Fine, then let me buy back everything you have left from the last Rinnh Imports drop. I can afford it,” I begged, “My father is the CEO. He will make sure it is all more than replaced by the end of this week.”

    Mentioning Dad’s position at Rinnh Imports had a greater effect than I thought it would.

    “Ah, your father is the head Rinnh,” he realized. I worried for a second that he would refuse, not wanting to let me go into danger in order to not anger Dad, but he said, “I will see what we can spare in the way of non-perishables and first aid for your return trip. I will have our techs fit your ship with additional surveillance to see what we can learn about the Mandalorians, and give your shields a boost. I will send down one of our pilots to coach you through relief drop procedures. You can stay on the station in the mean time. That is all I can do for you, however, kid.”

    “That’s more than enough! Thank you!” I wanted to get up and hug him, but somehow I suspected that wouldn’t have gone over well. He had someone show us back to the Viridian, and Captain Karath made good on all his promised. The techs came to work right away, and a pretty chill pilot named Marcus came and told me everything I need to know about making a drop. I’m glad he did. There was a lot to it I’d never even thought about before.

    When we got back to the Viridian after our meeting with Captain Karath, I found all sorts of messages from everyone in my family as well as a couple of friends and business partners. I called Dad back first. He didn’t want to know much about Lorrd, just that I was safe. I told him that we were safe with the Republic navy, and that we’d had a debriefing. I made excuses that we’d be staying with them for a few days more, because I just couldn’t tell him the truth that I was going back. He would worry too much. He made me promise I’d come straight back to Manaan as soon as I was done here. He already found someone to cover all of our route for the next couple of weeks.

    It took me the rest of the day to return all the calls and messages everyone sent, and I couldn’t tell a single one of them what I had planned.

    We stayed the night at the station and early this morning we took off for Lorrd again. That pilot Marcus came to see us off and to remind me of some pointers before we went.

    As we flew away from the Mgren Station, Veea turned to me and asked, “You’re sure you want to do this, Blondie?”

    “I can’t sit back and let those people starve,” I replied, “Not when there’s something I could do about it. And, as long as Lorrd is occupied, there won’t be any other food coming in.”

    “You’re crazy,” Veea grumbled, “One of these days, your bleeding heart is going to get you killed, and I won’t be able to mourn you, because you had it coming.”

    “Rodian sense of honor,” I grumbled. Veea would never understand generosity. She was too Rodian. With them, it’s always about getting what you deserve and not getting what you don’t deserve. All the same, I’m glad to have her as my copilot.
  10. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    The Viridian, Hyperspace

    My heart was pounding hard even before we came out of hyperspace. Marcus said that we needed to revert to real space as close to the planet as possible, to give the Mandalorians little time to chase us down. We calculated the lengths of jumps, angle of entry, and time of day just right so that our drop would take us right down towards a hospital near the Relems’ estate in the Lorrd City suburbs. It was where Mr. Relem had suggested before we left. I hoped he was watching for us now.

    As we approached Lorrd, I turned off the gravity well safety settings that would pull us out of hyperspace too early and kept my eyes on the positioning screen. Pulling out even a second too late would smash us into the planet.

    The proximity sensors started to scream, and a breath later, I pulled us out. The gray sphere of Lorrd at night snapped into reality before us, filling the whole viewport.

    I put full power into the engines again and dove towards the planet. Evidently, the station techs had tuned up my sublight engines too, given the speeds I was getting. Veea was already in the cargo hold, ready to shove off our relief crates, while MT was my extra set of eyes in the cockpit.

    Following Marcus’s instructions, I pulled up hard as soon as I could make out the shapes of the dark buildings below. We didn’t want to come in so fast that our cargo would smash when we dropped it. The cargo hold alarm started to whine, and I knew Veea had began to open up the loading door. I corrected my course towards the hospital.

    I leveled us out, just above the rooftops. As we skimmed over the drop zone, I yelled over the comm, “Veea, now!”

    The Viridian lurched as Veea shoved the two crates off the loading ramp. After the second lurch, I waited just a moment for Veea to close up the hold again before I turned the Viridian’s nos star-ward again. I hoped she was strapped in already.

    As we rocketed back out of the atmosphere, I was terrified that one of those war droids would take off and give chase, but none did. We burned back out through he atmosphere without any trouble. Although there was a Mandalorian warship orbiting Lorrd just at the edge of our horizon, nothing pursued us. There was nothing like the chase of last time. Before I knew it, the whole terrifying thing was over and we were safe in hyperspace. My heart is still pounding now.

    We did it. We delivered the supplies. I really hope they got into the right hands. But, I don’t feel relieved Two crates was hardly enough to save an import-dependent planet from starvation. It was something, but it’s not enough. I can’t let go of that feeling. What was the Republic doing, ignoring all the terrible things that the Mandalorians are doing on the outer rim?

    And then, what were the Mandalorians doing, just letting us go? They had to have known we were there, but didn’t do anything. One food drop didn’t matter enough to try to shoot us down?

    “Well that was easy,” Veea said as she walked back into the cockpit, “I hope it was worth all that.”

    “It’s like they didn’t care we came at all,” I said.

    “They didn’t,” Veea replied, “Clearly.”

    “But why? We were violating their occupation,” I protested. Part of me wishes that what we did was more important, I guess.

    “So you wanted to get shot at?” Veea asked dryly. “My bet is that they’re almost done here. They wouldn’t care that you were feeding people if they were about to leave.”

    Veea was probably right, but it makers me feel like I accomplished even less. Well, we still need to return to Mgren Station so they can download the surveillance data, then we’ll refuel and head home to Dad on Manaan. I’ll have to admit to Dad what we just did, and I know he’s not going to like it.


    And with that, I'm caught up with myself. Let's be honest, I'm a little afraid to face Kionee's dad too after all that.