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Before the Saga If This Is a Man | Distant past, OCs, drama/thriller | Short story, Fifty Titles Challenge

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Chyntuck, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Title: If This Is a Man
    Author: Chyntuck
    Timeframe: early centuries of the Galactic Republic (let's say 20,000 years before TPM)
    Characters: OCs
    Genre: Drama, adventure
    Length: Multi-post short story
    Summary: A medical genius is on the run after one of her experiments goes horribly wrong.
    Notes: Written out of competition for the Fifty Titles in Search of a Story challenge. The title is borrowed from Italian essayist Primo Levi. I'm open to concrit and to excerpts of this fic being used as examples in the challenge discussions.

    Table of contents:

    Last edited: Sep 29, 2023
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  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014

    It was a long time ago, well before the Clone Wars, the rule of the Empire and the Battle of Endor. It was the time when Tatooine had oceans and Hoth had forests, when Ahch-To was the home of the Jedi and when the Hundred-Year Darkness was still to come. It was the time when the Galaxy was smaller, for much of it was unexplored and one feared wandering into the unknown. It was the time when there were fewer places to hide – and survive.

    A place to hide was precisely what Doctor Protyp needed.

    Metra Protyp had been one of the most acclaimed scientists in the early days of the Republic. She was young, she was talented and she was ambitious. From the moment she began publishing her findings, her groundbreaking research into the replication of living cells and its application to the development of prosthetic limbs grown from the tissue of the host was hailed as the solution to the plight of millions of sentients maimed in the endless conflicts that raged across the Galaxy. For many years, it seemed that no setback could tarnish her reputation. And there were setbacks galore – the medical community’s understanding of the replication process was still in its infancy, and many beings who applied for a replacement eye or leg found themselves with a graft that continued to grow past its intended size, resulting in hideous deformities that caused them to be shunned by their own kin. But despite the risks, of which they were fully aware, test subjects kept volunteering for the procedure. Doctor Protyp was their hope. She was so famous that her renown smothered any doubts they might have and she was always seen everywhere – in the streets, at Galactic medical conferences, on the HoloNet channels. After the Great Fire of Coruscant University, a freak accident where her lab was destroyed, thousands of samples and datacards were lost, and most of Doctor Protyp’s colleagues were reduced to charred remains, donations came pouring in from every inhabited planet to help her recruit new staff and reconstitute her work.

    It took Metra Protyp an entire decade to train a new generation of students and restart her experiments from scratch to improve the technique and ensure that her patients didn’t turn into monsters. It took her another decade and a half to track down the hundreds of sentients who had fallen victim to inadequate procedures in order to reverse their gruesome transformation, and she was finally beginning to contemplate the perspective of a comfortable retirement when a new issue arose.

    It had been nearly forty years since the first recipient, a spacer who had lost his hand and forearm in a blaster battle, was given a replicated limb, and as the patients grew older it became clear that the grafts didn’t age at the same pace as the hosts. Moreover, there was no single, identifiable pattern to the disharmony. For some long-lived species, the artificial organs degenerated exceedingly early and had to be replaced, while those who had a lifespan similar to Humans found themselves with a youthful limb that drained the energy of their declining bodies. Metra Protyp didn’t only have to cope with the sneers of those of her colleagues who had always supported the concept of mechanical prosthetics, she also had to face rising discontent from the populace. Her patients numbered in the thousands, those of her students numbered in the millions, and fixing the mess she had created now looked like an insurmountable task.

    It was around this time that, one after the other, the scientists who had worked under her tutelage went missing. The first disappearance went unnoticed outside of the University of Alderaan, where Hal Dane, who had been one of Metra Protyp’s less prominent students, had obtained tenure after completing a controversial dissertation about the possibility of replicating not only body parts, but entire beings, in the process that came to be known as cloning. But as the abductions multiplied, it became clear that they were targeting any and all of her associates – doctors, researchers, assistants and even lab droids – and the Republic’s newly established Galactic Security Force had to take action. Bodyguards were appointed to protect the scientists, but the kidnappings continued, and by the time the Jedi Council became involved, it was reported that Idio Ektrom had put a bounty on her head.

    Little was known of Idio Ektrom. Few could claim to have seen him in person, and those who had seen his face were no longer around to talk about it – it was said that he would remove the mask he was constantly wearing only for those who were about to die at his hand. No one knew who he was and where he came from, no one could tell which species he belonged to, and people used the pronoun ‘he’ when referring to him merely out of necessity in the common tongue spoken across the Galaxy. He had appeared out of nowhere one day with his ship, the Copycat, to take down the fleet of the Hutt crime lords who, until then, controlled the smuggling channels on the hyperlanes, and he had quickly established himself as the undisputed master of the underworld. His wealth was believed to be immense, yet no one knew where it could be found or how to trace it. It was not even known where he had his base.

    Despite all the assumptions, hypotheses and rumours about Idio Ektrom, the citizens of the Republic were not particularly fearful of him. He did not engage in the most abject practices of the underworld, and it was widely acknowledged that his domination of the crime scene had put a cap on the spice and slave trades. There were even stories of how he had taken over entire planets to free the indentured workers – victims of long-forgotten conflicts who had been subjected to Metra Protyp’s botched early experiments, and who, in their desperate attempts to obtain further medical treatment, had sold all their possessions until they surrendered their lives. No one knew if the stories were true, for the Republic’s hold on those far-flung worlds was shaky at best. But the tale had taken root and kept being repeated, growing an extra leg with each retelling, and Idio Ektrom would have come to be thought of as some sort of benevolent prince of thieves, a mythical figure whose very existence was doubted by many, had it not been for a name associated with his – a name that was only ever whispered in fear.

    Idio Ektrom’s chief enforcer was Homion Teras, and if the crime lord was the stuff of legends, the bounty hunter was one of those terrifying figures that parents around the Galaxy mentioned to disobedient younglings to get them to comply. His existence was a certainty, and many could describe him, although the description differed from witness to witness – something that was chalked up to the state of terror in which they spoke, if they even accepted to speak, to the authorities. By all accounts, he had the shape of a Human, the strength of a Wookiee and the skin of a Weequay, and he was as cunning as he was ruthless. He never missed a target, and, after he was reported dead a few times but kept reappearing, it was accepted as fact that he was immortal or that, at least, he could not be killed by conventional means. So when word came that his master had put a death mark on Metra Protyp and her team, the entire Galaxy shook its collective head in dismay. The scientists didn’t stand a chance if Homion Teras was coming for them.

    The Supreme Chancellor even convened an emergency session of the Senate to discuss the issue, for the bounty hunter’s targets were among the best and brightest minds in the Republic, and their loss would set back medical research for decades to come. “Homion Teras is the most dangerous man in this Galaxy,” he said in an address that was broadcast live on the HoloNet, to underline the gravity of the situation. “He has no mercy, he has no values, nothing matters to him but the orders of his boss. He is so cruel, so brutal and so merciless that he must be stopped at all costs, and –”

    A loud bark came from a mid-level box on the left of the amphitheatre, and all eyes turned to the Gran delegation, whose lead representative was standing up and shouting in his mother tongue. The interpreter leaned closer and whispered a translation in the Chancellor’s ear, who let out a sigh.

    “I have unfortunately no argument to oppose to my honoured colleague from Malastare. Homion Teras has constantly evaded our Security Force, and it is only with the help of the Jedi that we can hope to stop him. We know very little – almost nothing – about him. As a matter of fact, we do not even know if he is a man.”
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2023
  3. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010

    First off, I love the opening paragraph - great bit of opening lore. The entire prologue has a Frankenstein sense to it, which makes me wonder who really will be the monster in this story?

    I loved some of the hints you dropped, particular this one:

    I take it there will be a reason why history (as we see cybernetic limbs in the Saga) is not to kind to Doctor Protyp and I am excited to find out why.
  4. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 27, 2005
    Loved the opening of this! Really keys into the fairy tale aspect of Star Wars, but of a more traditional kind in a newer, wilder galaxy where monsters abound.
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= Wonderful opening Chyntuck @};- You really get the sense of an earlier time when things that are settled and "old hat" or at least well-established science by the PT/OT are like new untested frontiers ... Brilliant use of your title.
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  6. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    I liked the way you focused in onto the story, going from extremely large scale (time and space) to the tight focus on the character of Metra Protype. It's interesting how the good intentions of rebuilding people became such grotesque monstrosities. And the idea that people were so desperate to have a new limb or organ were willing to eventually sacrifice their own liberty for it.

    The idea that the bounty hunter, Homion Teras, would liberate entire planets whose people were those desperate indentured servants hints to me that this job will be personal for him.

    Beautifully written and very intriguing!;)
  7. Irish_Jedi_Jade

    Irish_Jedi_Jade Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 19, 2007

    I 100% agree with all the above comments--I love the opening paragraph (oceans on Tatooine??:eek: ) and I love your sense of scale coming from the big world you're painting for us down to one single Senate session! Beautiful!

    However, I'm a sucker for symmetry and tying all the ends together, so that OCD part of me LOVES that you put your title into your first post, and worked it in flawlessly!!!!! So, bravo there!!! Plus, it just adds to the mystique of the story. I'm curious to see where you go, and from what perspectives you're going to tell the story. I have a feeling there is more to this "Unknown" man than we think!!
  8. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Love your tale of the ancient history. An evil doctor and what's that unknown?
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I have chapter 1 ready and it's not five minutes to the deadline :p but before I post it a few replies to your very kind reviews.
    Thank you! The plan is that history won't quite remember Doctor Protyp, but that some of her findings will survive and be used again much, much later in the GFFA. Of course, by then they will have been perfected, but they're still creepy :p

    Thanks! I'm having a blast trying to imagine the GFFA in the distant past. In a way, the idea that much of the galaxy is still unexplored is the easy bit -- I'm struggling a lot more with elements of technology and social conventions that I need to make more archaic, but not so archaic that it's the bow-and-arrow stage. I hope I can pull it off.

    Thank you! You were the one who picked this title for me, and even though it puzzled me a bit in the beginning I'm thinking that you made a good choice there. It opens some great possibilities :)

    Thanks so much! The idea of people giving up their freedom for medical needs is actually something I borrowed from RL. I dealt with a few cases of asylum-seekers who had been essentially sold into slavery to pay for medical treatment of a family member (yes, this happens in the 21st century :() This segued neatly into some of the seedier aspects of the GFFA that we see in the films, notably the crowd in Jabba's palace where you do kind of wonder how many characters are there of their own free will. As for Homion Teras... well, I guess you'll find out ;)

    Thank you! I think I have the same OCD issue as you, because I managed to insert the title in chapter 1 as well :p I'm not entirely sure yet from what perspectives/POVs I'll be telling the entire story, but for now I can introduce a new OC and we'll see where it all goes.

    Thanks :) Does she look that evil already? She's going to be a lot more evil in coming instalments!

    Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to read! Next chapter up straight away.
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  10. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter 1

    To the citizens of Coruscant, the bar of the Hotel Meurix was the epitome of everything civilisation had to offer to those who could afford it. The seats were upholstered in the finest bantha leather that could be found within the confines of the Republic, its tawny hue shining softly in the iridescent light that was refracted through the myriad crystals of the chandeliers hovering high above on cleverly camouflaged repulsorlifts. The tables were made of the rarest varieties of wood and had been carved, engraved and inlaid by the most talented artisans in the Galaxy in patterns reminiscent of their homeworlds’ flora, while the fresco that adorned the ceiling had recently been replaced by a single, immense holographic panel where stars, comets and nebulae raced, collided and exploded, only to be reborn again in a plausible – if scientifically inaccurate – depiction of the birth of the universe that held the establishment’s patrons in its thrall evening after evening. Even the waiters were not immune to the strange, hypnotic quality of the display, and their eyes frequently darted towards the reflection of the shimmering blazes in the panoramic window that overlooked the gardens of the Chancery. The dome of the Senate was hidden from view by the heavy towers of a large stone building whose origins were lost to history – legend had it that it had been the home of the planet’s rulers before the sentients of the Galaxy united to form the Republic – but the location of the legislature’s seat was clearly indicated by the cluster of modern cloudcutters that reached for the skies behind it. The game of lights on the limpid pane of glass that separated the bar from the hustle and bustle of the city was simply mesmerising.

    Jedi Knight Mon Adik paused briefly in the doorway to take in the sight. This wasn’t the first time that his duties called him away from the sanctuary of Ahch-To, but everything in the Hotel Meurix – the embroidered clothes, the vertiginous headdresses, the oversized trays that the waiters waltzed with as they weaved their way between the tables, the glimmering stone of the floors, the heady scent of the walls’ Fijisi wood panelling and the spicy aroma of tabac smoke that wafted across the lounge – all these manners of finery made him feel like an Outer Rim bumpkin, and he chided himself for his own vanity as he tugged at the collar of the plain tunic that the Jedi Order had adopted as a uniform of sorts for its members. Appearances, fashion, luxury – these were things that a Jedi should not value or crave, but such precepts were easier to follow on an island in the midst of a remote ocean planet. Every foray into the wider Galaxy was a source of constant temptation, and many a knight had been sent on a mission to the Core never to return to the Temple, choosing instead to live the life of a layman on one of the most developed worlds and, more often than not, using the special skills nature had gifted him to improve his or her standard of living by means that bordered on dishonesty. A barely civilised debate was still raging among scholars of the Force about the need for the Jedi to remain isolated on Ahch-To so as to better dedicate themselves to their studies of the invisible energy field that bound together all living things, but proponents of wider Jedi involvement in galactic affairs had scored a decisive victory some fifty years prior when the Force Covenant had been amended. The Jedi were now officially the guardians of peace and justice in the Republic, and it was only the continuing reluctance of a substantial fraction of the Jedi Order that had prevented the Temple from being moved to Coruscant itself. However, Grand Master Thaaban seemed determined to overcome these lingering objections, and the formal establishment of a Jedi outpost on the galactic capital was thought to be his utmost priority.

    Mon Adik didn’t have any particular opinion on the matter until now. It was his skill with the blade and his unwavering loyalty to the Order’s goals and ideals that had led the Council to assign him the mission of protecting Metra Protyp against her would-be kidnappers, but his talent notwithstanding, he was still a young man with limited experience of the Galaxy beyond Ahch-To and the few worlds he had visited so far had little to offer that would induce him to abandon his duties or even to cause him to question the lifestyle that had been chosen for him when he was an infant. Coruscant however was an entirely different matter, and he had become aware of it as soon as he set foot on the spaceport’s landing platform. The Force here was crowded, there was no other word for it.

    This wasn’t one of the sparsely populated worlds of the Western Reaches where he had negotiated a settlement between warring factions and where the vast majority of the Force signatures came from the local flora and fauna. The galactic capital was populated by millions of sentients of every possible kind, and every millimetre of its soil was occupied by multi-storey constructions of stone or duracrete. Even the famed Chancery gardens were established on a platform under which a hive of office workers administered the institutions that ensured the safety and well-being of the Republic’s citizens, and urban planners were now debating whether the sheer pressure of demographics should lead the city to expand upwards in the form of cloudcutters, or to occupy the surface of those seas and rivers that hadn’t already been drained by the population’s constant need for more water. If Mon Adik’s observations since his arrival that morning were anything to go by, it would be both – and the thought of a planet entirely devoid of natural life made him deeply uneasy. He had caught himself several times during the day reaching out through the Force to sense the amphibians, pisceans and aquatic mammals hidden in the depths of Coruscant’s oceans, and he realised that he was doing it again as he took a deep breath and stepped into the Meurix’s bar. There was something about the contact of non-sentient minds, of unaltered life forms, that he found soothing, and he made a mental note to request a permanent assignment to Ahch-To when this mission was over. He didn’t want to spend the remainder of his days on Coruscant if the main body of the Temple were to be moved here.

    The buzz of the hushed conversations died down as the patrons of the bar stared at this unusual visitor whose getup clearly indicated that he didn’t belong among the Coruscanti elite, but curiosity and disdain were soon replaced with awe when their eyes fell on the lightsaber hanging from his belt. Mon Adik allowed himself an inner smile before chiding himself once more. To most citizens of the Republic, the Jedi were preternatural beings capable of feats and exploits that were the stuff of legends, but the secret archives of the Temple were full of stories of knights and masters who had persuaded themselves of their own superiority and followed the basest instincts of lust for power and glory that, sooner or later, led inevitably to their fall. Mon Adik wouldn’t allow himself to become one of them. Still, he thought as he straightened himself and made his way to the table where he was awaited. It was good to know that the name of the Jedi commanded this sort of respect across the Galaxy.

    He barely had the time to notice that the Grand Master’s tunic, while similar in cut to his own, was made of the expensive-looking fabric favoured by the wealthy of the Core, before he stifled a gasp at the sight of the other man who was rising to his feet to greet him. He had been informed, prior to leaving Ahch-To, that his mission was of utmost importance for the future and well-being of millions of sentients, but he had not expected to receive his instructions from the Supreme Chancellor himself, and he suddenly felt woefully unprepared for the conversation to come. Yet even as the Grand Master introduced him, it was the fourth guest sitting at the table that threw him utterly off-balance. The petite, elderly woman merely acknowledged his presence with a nod, but the cold edge of her pale grey eyes belied her studied indifference. However, it was the sense of her that he could gather through the Force that caused him very nearly to recoil. Her mind was as sharp, as hard and as focused as an Ilum crystal, and a small voice in the back of his head told him that the challenge in protecting Doctor Protyp wouldn’t be the faceless menace that hunted her. It would be Metra Protyp herself.

    He brought his thoughts back to his interlocutors as the Grand Master finished the introductions, and with a final bow he took his seat across the table from Doctor Protyp. She inserted a cigarra in the long, delicate holder she had been toying with, lit it and blew a puff of fragrant smoke as the Supreme Chancellor began to speak.

    “Before we start, Jedi Adik, let me extend once more the deepest gratitude of the citizens of the Republic to the Jedi Order for agreeing to assist us with the protection of our scientists. As you are no doubt aware, the situation we are facing is reaching a critical point. There have been three more disappearances in the past week alone, and the Chancery’s Intelligence Bureau believes –”

    Metra Protyp let out the faintest of snorts and Grand Master Thaaban chuckled. “For the sake of clarity, Jedi Adik should know that the Intelligence Bureau has not even been able to ascertain the existence of Idio Ektrom,” he interjected. “We do not know at this stage whether he is man or myth. As for the bounty hunter Homion Teras, we do still not have proof that we are speaking of a single individual. For all we know, it could be an entire enterprise of criminals operating under this one name.”

    “Indeed,” the Chancellor said smoothly. “The fact that he has managed to strike on diverse planets in such a short amount of time could certainly be an indication that that direction, and the Bureau is investigating the possibility. However, this discussion is far beyond the scope of the mission assigned to Jedi Adik or to any of his fellow knights who have been tasked with the protection of one or more of Doctor Protyp’s colleagues.”

    Doctor Protyp snorted again, attracting a scowl from Thaaban. “I would like to point out that our knights would have been in a better position to fulfil their duties had they had access to all the information, or even been in charge of the investigation.”

    “If I may ask,” Mon Adik piped up before the Chancellor could reply. “It is obviously not my role to question the manner in which this matter is handled, and I can only grieve for my fellow Jedi who fell or were maimed at the hand of Homion Teras. However, the file I have been given does not include the investigation reports on the kidnappings of Doctor Protyp’s colleagues. Such information would be highly useful, as it would give me some insight into Homion Teras’s mode of operation. It is difficult for me to protect Doctor Protyp when I know virtually nothing of the threat she is facing.”

    Grand Master Thaaban gave the young Jedi an appreciative look. “We will of course provide you with all the documentation relevant to the case,” the Chancellor said. “We have been keeping it under wraps for fear that Idio Ektrom may have found the means to intercept and decrypt our communications, but the Intelligence Bureau are expecting you tomorrow for a thorough briefing. I have made arrangements...”

    Metra Protyp crushed her cigarra in the ashtray and inserted a fresh one in the holder as he droned on, interrupted every now and then by the Grand Master who apparently couldn’t resist the temptation to fling a few more barbs at the Republic’s security services. The tension around the table was palpable, and Mon Adik couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was amiss. It was fairly obvious that there was an uneasy alliance between his three interlocutors and that each one of them had an agenda to defend, but the sense of foreboding that crept over him went well beyond the bureaucratic obstacles and the conflicts of ego he could anticipate to encounter in the course of this mission. He reached out with the Force again to better read the sentients around him. The room was humming with hypocrisy and deception as the patrons of the Meurix chatted with contrived politeness about the frivolous issues that seemed to dominate their lives, and Adik found it difficult to focus on his interlocutors. Each one of them was hiding something, that much was clear – but there was more to it. He could feel a surge of anger, of pure, unadulterated, animal rage, and despite the confusion surrounding him he was convinced that it came from Metra Protyp’s Force signature.

    Grand Master Thaaban touched his hand, bringing him back to the realm of material practicalities. “We have established a safe house for Doctor Protyp to spend the coming weeks until this issue can be resolved,” the Chancellor was saying. “The location is a secret that will be disclosed to you tomorrow by the Intelligence Bureau. It has not been communicated even to me, in order to ensure maximum safety – this came after the hideout of a group of scientists was raided by Homion Teras despite the precautions we had taken.”

    “You should be aware that the Intelligence Bureau suspects a researcher from the University of Alderaan of betraying his colleagues’ whereabouts to Idio Ektrom,” Grand Master Thaaban added. “It seems that, for petty scientific rivalries, some would go so far as to wish their own colleagues’ disappearance and presumed death.”

    Mon Adik sighed. “It is disheartening to hear of this lack of solidarity among the medical community. I am certain however that such cases are a minority. Scientists of immense talent like –”

    “I am afraid that there are as many weak-minded, envious types among the Republic’s top scientists as the populace,” the Grand Master said disdainfully. “The ideals of the Jedi Order have unfortunately not permeated into galactic society, and...”

    The Supreme Chancellor seemed increasingly exasperated as Thaaban continued his lecture about the ethical superiority of the Jedi, and Mon Adik couldn’t blame him – but his attention was distracted again. His danger sense tingled with growing urgency, but all he could sense was Doctor Protyp’s Force signature. A signature that was warped, distorted, as if it had been somehow deformed, but it was hers nevertheless...

    And then all hell broke loose.

    The panoramic window blew inward, showering the bar with shards of glass as a masked figure was propelled inside by a jetpack’s flaming thrusters. The man – if this was a man – landed with a loud thud amidst the screaming patrons and raised an arm in the direction of Metra Protyp. A thin rope whipped out of his wrist gauntlet and wrapped itself around her, and he was already pulling her away when a beam of blue light whirled across the room and cut the cord in two. The glowing blade flew back towards its owner, who was already leaping over the table to catch his weapon in mid-air. He received himself with whisperkit-like grace on the floor between the intruder and Doctor Protyp and saluted his opponent with his lightsaber, as if about to begin a harmless training duel.

    Mon Adik had sprung into action.

    The sword masters of the Jedi Temple considered the young Jedi to be the finest blade of his generation, constantly praising his ability to maintain his calm composure and anticipate his adversary’s moves under any circumstances, but Mon Adik feared for a moment that, for the first time, they might be proven wrong. It took all of his concentration to stifle the buzz that echoed in the Force, making him feel as if his head were about to explode, and it was only the bounty hunter’s surprise at being confronted by such an opponent that gave him the fraction of a second he needed to gather his wits. His lightsaber slashed across the air almost of its own accord to meet the dented disks that his foe was launching towards him, and the duel began in earnest.

    Homion Teras, if this was indeed him, was a giant of a man whose muscular frame was made even bulkier by the heavy armour that covered his torso, shoulders, arms and legs, but his appearance did not intimidate Mon Adik – nor did the aura of mystery that came from the T-shaped visor of his helmet, or even the uncanny ease with which he bowed, swirled and jumped to avoid the Jedi’s strokes, borrowing from combat styles that were practiced by at least half a dozen different species across the Galaxy. No, what disturbed the young Jedi was the whirlwind of emotions that the bounty hunter’s presence had unleashed in Doctor Protyp’s soul. There was fear there, of course, but also passion, fury, hatred, and, more surprisingly, a stubborn determination to achieve the goal she had set for herself, whatever that could be in the moment when death was looking her in the eyes. But this was not the time to probe deeper into the scientist’s motivations. The bounty hunter seemed to be equipped with enough weaponry to kit out an entire army corps, and Mon Adik had to focus on repelling the multitude of projectiles that were being hurled his way without killing inadvertently one of the waiters who were cowering behind the bar, or the Supreme Chancellor, who had thrown himself face first on the floor and had pulled Metra Protyp to his side. The ceiling holopanel and the chandeliers came crashing down as a miniature rocket was deflected upwards, chunks of plexiplast, crystals and pieces of electronic circuitry flew all over the room, Mon Adik took a step back to better parry a staccato of laser bolts, Homion Teras took two steps forward – and that gave the Jedi the opening he needed.

    He fell to one knee and spun his lightsaber in a tight curve, slicing neatly through his opponent’s blaster, then sprang back to his feet and brought his weapon down on Homion Teras to cut off or at least maim his dominant arm – only to find it blocked by a retractable blade that slid out of the bounty hunter’s wrist. The contact of the two weapons sent a shower of sparkles into his eyes. He heard Grand Master Thaaban gasp behind him, and it took him a second to process the thought that the dagger, and presumably the armour, were made of an alloy that could resist lightsaber strikes. Homion Teras pushed him back with all his might and pointed his arm again – the gauntlet apparently still had a few surprises in store – when a broken table levitated in front of him, seemingly of its own accord, and took the full blast of a jet of flames that emerged from the bounty hunter’s hand. There was an animal-like roar, and by the time Mon Adik had recovered his vision all there was to see were two pinpricks of light outside the broken window as the jetpack carried Homion Teras away into the night.

    The young Jedi wiped a trickle of blood from his brow and turned to the Grand Master, who was already busy extinguishing the fires that were threatening to reach the grand tapestry that adorned the eastern wall. “Thank you, Master. Without your intervention –”

    “Thank you, Jedi Adik,” the Supreme Chancellor said shakily. “Had you not been with us tonight, that... that monster would have flown in here and walked away with Doctor Protyp before any of us had time to react.” He straightened himself and brushed the dust and crushed glass off his robes. “I can see that these much-vaunted duelling skills of yours were not exaggerated. The Republic’s most talented scientist will be in good hands.”

    Metra Protyp had disentangled herself from the bounty hunter’s rope and was examining it, visibly indifferent to the conversation and the destruction that surrounded them. She finally looked up, inserted a cigarra in her holder and spoke for the first time, her voice as sharp as a well-honed vibroblade. “Next time, do try to capture him, will you, Jedi Adik? I have no wish to be subjected to your company forever.”

    The bar of the Hotel Meurix is borrowed from the RL Hôtel Meurice in Paris, which has got to be the poshest, most elegant place I have ever been to. If you ever visit France, do go there and have a coffee just to see the place. It's straight out of a novel.

    More generally, the geography of Coruscant as described in this chapter is borrowed from downtown Paris. The Meurice is across the street from the Tuileries Garden (renamed the Chancery gardens in this fics, with the Louvre presumably being the Chancery) and the ancient stone building that hides the Senate from view is the Conciergerie, which was the palace of the kings of France before the Louvre was built -- although this is rather approximate topography as the Conciergerie is further to the east. The real difference with Paris though is that there are no skyscrapers behind the Senate :p
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2023
  11. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010
    I loved all the interesting aspects of this chapter , especially the idea of a Jedi’s first experience (or one of his first) beyond his temple on Ahch-To, and how even this far in the past, Coruscant is seen as this sprawling planet-wide city (now I want a fic about why the Jedi moved from Ahch-To to Coruscant since, as you have described, it is so polarizing to the Jedi philosophy).

    Great action. Though, do I sense some sass in Metra Protyp?
  12. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    This is interesting writing, and very literate and visually interesting to the mind's eye. Your opening paragraph in the first chapter is particularly striking, moving from the most recent history back into the far distant past without any distraction from the flow of time into the narrative. Quite interesting.

    Overall, this is very elegant in terms of writing, and an intriguing look into a slice of life in the early years of the Republic.
  13. Irish_Jedi_Jade

    Irish_Jedi_Jade Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 19, 2007
    Fascinating update!!!!! I am very intrigued by this historical look at the Jedi. Its interesting that they are the total OPPOSITE of what we see in the PT. How crazy to think of them preferring to be reclusive, rather than rolling in on every crisis! :p

    Mon is quite the cool dude. I think I like him. I particularly liked how he would center himself with the non-aware life forms. That's a really interesting detail that speaks to me that he is looking for serenity, or a blank slate in a sense.

    Now this bit...

    I am INTRIGUED!!!!! I think there is more to the good doctor than meets the eye! (Or the Force perception!). Again I must applaud the use of your title. I still haven't gotten to work mine in, but it'll happen! ;)

    Excited for more!
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Your attention to detail is breathtaking. I felt I was in that lovely elegant setting. Mon Adik - another compelling OC from your skilled hands [face_love] He is thoughtful and idealistic and pragmatically talented and also perceptive of the undercurrents of others' personalities. @};-

    Metra is indeed something - a veritable jumble of "attitude." :p

    Interesting how it is stated plainly that the interlocutors are hiding things for their own reasons and that never bodes ill - like Mon was kept in the dark about something crucial but they were too busy nneding to keep secrets... :rolleyes:
    Kahara and UltramassiveUbersue like this.
  15. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 22, 2008
    The start of this is awesome.

    I can't wait to see how this is going to turn out. If you build Protyp with the ego of a medical specialist, this is going to be amusing indeed. The poor Jedi will join the dark side in about 2 hours.

    Also: "But the tale had taken root and kept being repeated, growing an extra leg with each retelling." [face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh] Super.

    Please let me know when you update this.
  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Great first chapter and likeable OC's.
    Love the action with the Jedi and the bounty-hunter
  17. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 27, 2005
    Love the opening description of the bar - it's certainly somewhere I'd like to go for a drink! If I am ever able to go back to France I'll have to go and see the inspiration.

    And very interesting look at Coruscant, even this early the galaxy's city - it must have been even more of a shock back then to find an entire planet consumed by a city, especially when used to the remote, natural and wild beauty of Ahch-To.

    I'm very intrigued by Metra, and Mon's perceptions of her. He is a young and eager Jedi, idealistic and much to learn - I expect they'll be great foils to each other despite their roles as protector and protected. He seems to have been chosen for this mission for his skill, but I wonder if there is something deeper going on, given his unfamiliarity with Coruscant and the importance of the mission.
  18. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    The moment I started reading the description in this chapter I thought, Ah, Chyn is writing about Paris. @};-

    I like your character of Mon Adik. He seems sincere and forthright, someone who tries to do the right thing. His connection to the Force reminds me a bit of Qui-Gonn's in that he seems so connected to the way the Force weaves throughout every living thing. No wonder he prefers the quiet, secluded Ach-to to Coruscant - so much quieter there.

    Excellent scene where he intercepted the assailant. But I can't help but wonder why Metra wasn't at all fazed by the appearance. Does she expect that she will be attacked, so much so that when it happens she's like, "what took you so long?" And toward whom is all that rage directed?

    Great update! :D
  19. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    *ahem* It took me just over a year, but I finally have a second chapter for this story.

    Thanks for the reviews, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read despite the absentee author :)

    I'm not too sure how to handle replies after all this time, and even less how to handle requests for tagging [face_blush] Unless I'm missing something it's only Jedi_Perigrine who wanted to be tagged, can you please confirm that you're still around and still interested?

    Thanks again for the reviews! And without further ado, here is chapter 2.


    Chapter 2

    She hadn’t spoken to him once.

    From the moment she had stepped on the Gene, a nondescript civilian freighter upgraded with concealed weapon systems and equipped with a research lab whose facilities could rival the best universities of the Core, Metra Protyp had isolated herself in the passenger area and let Mon Adik deal with all the practicalities of their trip – from handling the luggage to running the pre-flight check to obtaining clearance for take-off from the Coruscant Spaceport Authority to piloting – as if he were a mere servant, not a bodyguard assigned to her by the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic and the guarantors of peace and justice in the galaxy. She didn’t acknowledge his presence when she came on board; she didn’t ask which cabin was hers, heading instead directly for the most spacious one; she didn’t even come to the galley at mealtimes. She was treating him like an nuisance, a cumbersome piece of furniture whose presence in her life couldn’t be avoided, but that would be made to understand, once and for all, that it wasn’t worthy of her attention.

    The young man sighed as he leaned back in the pilot’s chair and stared at the mottled blue of hyperspace outside the viewport. Like many of his fellow Jedi, he usually enjoyed the long, quiet moments of interstellar travel when he could be alone with the Force. In the void of space, the intrusion of other beings in one’s mind was virtually nil, and to Mon Adik this had always been an opportunity to connect to the energy field in its purest form. It was in those moments that he experienced the fullness of the universe itself, and often in his deepest meditations he thought that he could see the stars and the planets – not as chunks of rock and liquid magma floating in the vastness of the black, but as a luminous web that ran from one edge of the galaxy to the other, tying together the elemental forces that formed what is known as life.

    But not today. Today his every attempt at meditation was thwarted by the presence of a razor-sharp mind in the back of the ship, of a mind that deliberately told him that he was not welcome to approach it. He had met sentients hostile to Force users before – there were beings across the Republic who feared that the Jedi could and would not only read their emotions, but manipulate them and control them – but this was something else altogether. It wasn’t only that Doctor Protyp was inimical. It was as if she refused to be a mere spark in the world he could see, as if she were trying to set herself apart, outside the lattice of light and life. He had never encountered such pride, such arrogance, such assertiveness, and it made him deeply uneasy. For the umpteenth time, he wished that this mission had been assigned to someone else – to someone with a thicker skin perhaps, he often told himself reproachfully when he lamented his own sensitivity, or simply to someone more experienced. He knew how to remain imperturbable in the face of danger, he had confronted and vanquished a myriad threats in his short life, but he felt deep in his soul that Metra Protyp was a hazard of a different sort, not only for himself and his Jedi serenity or for the Jedi Order, but for the entire Galaxy.

    It was clear now that he wouldn’t be able to soothe himself through meditation. He sighed again and returned his attention to the documents he had been studying during the first part of the journey through hyperspace. The agents from the Chancery’s Intelligence Bureau – a large, furry male of a species he had never encountered before going by the name of Er’in Nyês, and a middle-aged human woman named Nomia Taxea – had provided him with a comprehensive file about Homion Teras and the scientists he had abducted or killed, as well as a black-and-white surveillance recording of the events that had unfolded in the Hotel Meurix two days prior. He activated the monitor and watched a shaky ghost of himself enter the bar, greet his interlocutors and take a seat. He focused on Doctor Protyp this time, trying hard to remember when he had first sensed the turmoil of her Force signature. In that moment, he wished with all his heart that Master Musamana had made sufficient progress on his study of memory enhancement through the Force to teach this skill to others at long last. Everything had happened so fast that his recollection of the evening was dazed, as if something unnatural had taken place, and despite knowing that an attack from Homion Teras was something he should expect at every turn, he couldn’t shake off the nagging feeling that something was amiss – but he was unable to say precisely what, or why.

    The recording came to its end and Mon Adik sighed once more. There was nothing new to be found here. The bounty hunter’s combat style was wild and unpredictable, as befitted a being who had likely travelled to dozens of planets and learned from the natives; his powerful, lightsaber-resistant armour remained a mystery – the Intelligence Bureau had run every possible specification through the databases to no avail and concluded that it was crafted on an uncharted world outside the boundaries of the Republic; and the only element of information that the young Jedi had been able to glean from his observations was that Homion Teras was left-handed, as, most probably, was Doctor Protyp. Not that the scientist’s dominant hand mattered of course, but knowing the bounty hunter’s could come in useful in the future. He deactivated the monitor and was about to open a printed version of the case file when the console beeped to signal that the ship was about to drop out of hyperspace.

    The mottled sky turned back to starlines and then to shimmering pinpricks of light, and as the freighter rotated to align itself with its destination, Corellia came into view outside the cockpit. Mon Adik allowed himself a smile. He had experienced a slight trepidation on his way to the meeting with the Intelligence Bureau, fearing that the location they had chosen for Metra Protyp’s safe house was a densely populated world where the telltale signs of an impending attack in the Force would be blurred by the presence of millions of sentients around him. But Corellia prided itself on its lush forests and jungles and had done the utmost to preserve them so far, with a task force of Nature Rangers who monitored all construction and logging activities – although the pressure of an ever-growing population in Coronet City would probably lead to their destruction in the future and turn the planet into a Force-forsaken wasteland of stone and duracrete like Coruscant. Until then, however, it was a world of wilderness, and the geneticist’s hiding place was in a remote mountain area a half day’s speeder flight from the nearest Ranger outpost. The young Jedi would be able to sense any threat long before it could reach them, and, if the Supreme Chancellor were to be believed about the absolute secrecy that had been maintained as to their whereabouts, no threat would reach them at all.

    He immersed himself in the Force to better sense the planet below. Coronet City and its people were a buzz of singing bright lights on the coast of the southern continent, whereas the rest of the green-and-blue sphere shone with the dimmer glow of non-sentient minds and plant life. Mon Adik saw the safe house in his mind’s eye before the navicomputer finished plotting the course to their destination, and he was already enjoying the serenity of the place – but then several things happened at once.

    The navicomputer beeped again to signal that it had completed its assigned task, the Jedi’s danger sense tingled, and the proximity alarm started blaring as an ovoid-shaped spacecraft appeared with a flicker of pseudomotion at the Gene’s side. Mon Adik’s heightened reflexes would normally have prevented a collision, but, like in the Meurix, his mind immediately began to hum with the warped version of Doctor Protyp’s Force signature that seemed to blunt his ability to think. The incoming ship grazed the freighter’s dorsal fin, sending her into a tailspin, and before the young man could stabilise her the newcomer was shooting at them.

    It took all of Mon Adik’s inner strength to shut out his passenger’s mental surge of fear and hatred and engage in evasive manoeuvres. He managed to pull up from the nose dive into which the attacker had sent him before the ship touched the outer layer of Corellia’s atmosphere, and he sent her into a wild series of loops and twists that brought him back to face his opponent. He had recovered his focus now and his fingers found the triggers of their own accord, aiming for the top end of the egg, just above the cockpit, where he assumed that the engines would be located. His purpose was to disable the enemy craft and knock out the pilot, so as to ascertain who had come after them.

    His laser bolts splashed on an invisible field and dissolved into space.

    That wasn’t possible. He immersed himself deeper in the Force and shot again.

    “Do not waste our time,” Doctor Protyp’s cold voice said behind him as his laser beams vanished once more upon reaching the enemy craft’s outline. “He has magnetic shields.”

    In the heat of the battle, Mon Adik had failed to notice her arrival in the cockpit. “Magnetic shields don’t exist,” he protested as he took aim once more. “They’re a myth from futuristic tales.”

    She watched the fresh volley of green light rebound and disappear before replying, her tone dripping sarcasm. “They obviously do, Jedi Adik, if my eyes and yours are to be believed. Now will you please do something useful? Or should I wait for that bounty hunter to kill us both? I would very much prefer to die alone, all things considered.”

    A barrage of torpedoes erupted from the ovoid ship and sped towards them. Mon Adik pointed the Gene’s nose upwards and took her in a series of wild loops again. He didn’t dare let go of the controls as the missiles – somehow, unexplainably, – readjusted their course to track him, but he glanced at the navicomputer and flipped a switch telekinetically. A set of pre-programmed coordinates appeared, and with a final flourish above Corellia the freighter vanished into hyperspace.

    The young Jedi spun his seat around to face Doctor Protyp. “How did you know?”

    “How did I know what?”

    “You said ‘bounty hunter’. How did you know?”

    “Did you even look at that ship?” she asked scornfully. “The cockpit window has the same shape as his helmet’s visor. What more proof do you need? It was Homion Teras.”

    Mon Adik studied her for a moment. She was still shaken behind her ice-cold façade, but the distracting hum in the Force was gone. “Homion Teras couldn’t possibly have known that we were coming here,” he began. “Our destination is the best-kept secret in the Republic and –”

    The scientist shrugged. “Certainly. A secret you kept so well that he was waiting for us. Make no mistake, Jedi Adik, I will get to the bottom of this when we arrive on Coruscant.”

    “We are not going to Coruscant, Doctor,” the young Jedi said as calmly as he could – Metra Protyp’s contemptuousness was beginning to grate on his nerves. “I am taking you to the backup safe house that has been prepared for you, and I will contact the Intelligence Bureau and the Jedi Council for further instructions.” She gave him a furious look and opened her mouth to object, but he raised a hand to stop her. “I will forward any letters of complaint you may have to the proper authorities, to the Chancellor himself if that is your wish. But I was given a protocol to keep you safe, and I intend to follow it to the letter.” Metra Protyp was still glaring at him but he had found his stride. “Now if you will please return to your cabin,” he said firmly. “I have work to do.”

    He knew that he shouldn’t have lost his temper in such a way, and he fully expected that she would make him pay for his insolence, but he needed to read up on their next destination – a small planet called Naboo in the Mid Rim, that had been colonised only recently – and most importantly to determine how Homion Teras, if this was indeed their attacker, could have tracked them to Corellia. He watched her walk away with a huff, went to the galley to make himself a cup of aromatic salab, and returned to the data terminal. The Chancellor had been adamant that not even he was informed of the location of the scientist’s intended hiding place, and before Mon Adik started pointing fingers he wanted to make sure that Doctor Protyp, in her arrogance, hadn’t let slip a clue to anyone she might have spoken to. He could not access the HoloNet while in hyperspace and he doubted that Naboo would be equipped with a high-speed communications array, but he knew that Metra Protyp’s entire archive had been copied to the Gene’s memory banks. This, presumably, included a record of her messaging logs, and it was as good a place as any to look for an indication that would point him in the direction of the source of the leak.

    The doctor’s files were heavily encrypted, but despite their reputation for a low-tech approach to problem-solving the data masters of the Jedi Temple had taught their students well. It took Mon Adik some time, but soon he had sliced into Metra Protyp’s filing system and he began to examine the various folders one by one.

    Two hours later, he had reached the conclusion that either a great many interactions had been purged from the records, or that Metra Protyp was a very lonely person indeed. Her log didn’t show a single message over the past several weeks, and this was a pattern that repeated itself as he scrolled back into her older communications. The only correspondent whose name came up with a semblance of frequency was Hal Dane, the obscure scientist from the University of Alderaan who had been the first victim of Idio Ektrom’s scheme to abduct or otherwise eliminate Metra Protyp’s team, and the last of these messages dated back to nearly a year prior, just before the young man’s disappearance. Moreover, Mon Adik could see that the vast majority of the patient files that constituted the bulk of the geneticist’s archive had not been updated in months, and he would have thought that Doctor Protyp’s entire life had been put on hold from the moment the kidnappings began, had it not been for the list of her financial transactions.

    Here, the amount of recent activity was staggering. Not only was the doctor’s wealth immense – the documents showed that she was still receiving hundreds of thousands of credits in donations every month – but she was constantly shifting it around, transferring mind-boggling sums of money or even withdrawing them in cash every now and then. What was more – and this puzzled Mon Adik to no end – the location of the transactions indicated that Metra Protyp had been travelling both inside and beyond the Republic until just a few days before their meeting in the Meurix. It was truly a miracle of the Force that Homion Teras hadn’t got hold of her during one of these journeys where she was such an easy target. Dimly, the Jedi wondered if she had been told not to access her various accounts while he took her into hiding, as a single operation from Corellia or Naboo would reveal her whereabouts to an untold number of bank employees who could, in turn, leak or sell it to Idio Ektrom’s henchman.

    Mon Adik sat back and stared at the monitor a little longer before shaking off this train of thought. He needed to resolve the matter at hand before thinking of the future, and there was nothing in Doctor Protyp’s financial transactions to indicate that she would be heading to Corellia, nor was there anything to be found in her non-existent communications. Assuming that no records had been deleted, the only way the scientist could have betrayed her plans to anyone was during a personal encounter, and he doubted she would be willing to discuss any private conversations she might have had with him.

    He decided to try a different approach before taking up the matter with her and slid the tape with the electronic version of the file provided by the Chancery’s Intelligence Bureau into the data terminal’s external media slot. The file included a profile of every scientist that had been abducted, beginning with Hal Dane, as well as any known details of the incident that had led to their disappearance and a list of possible suspects who might have been involved in the crimes by tipping off Homion Teras to his prospective victims’ whereabouts and habits. It was a long shot, but cross-referencing the names in the intelligence file with Metra Protyp’s archive might, just might, help him narrow down the scope of his inquiry.

    The terminal chirped and whirred as it started processing the data and Mon Adik stood up to fetch yet another cup of salab from the galley. This would take several hours, but the journey to Naboo would last three days according to the navicomputer and slow progress was better than no progress at all. He was back in the pilot chair, his empty tumbler long forgotten in his hand, and he was replaying in his mind the details of the space battle with the ovoid ship to ponder the implications of the fact that magnetic shields and tracking torpedoes might now be a reality, when the computer beeped to signal that it had found a match.

    His first reaction upon glancing at the monitor was to chastise himself for not refining the parameters of this search. The search script was telling him that Hal Dane had been Metra Protyp’s sole regular correspondent, but this was something he had already noticed on his own. He selected the long list of hits in the messaging log and was about to delete it when a particular item caught his eye. There was a file bearing the name of Hal Dane – and, bizarrely enough, it was archived among Doctor Protyp’s patient records.

    His curiosity piqued, Mon Adik ploughed his way through pages and pages of scientific jargon to come to the conclusion that Hal Dane had been in perfectly good health from the day he was born to the moment he disappeared. The Jedi couldn’t understand the exact nature of the tests to which the young scientist had been subjected since infancy – if he was reading the file correctly, Metra Protyp had been present at his very birth – but the conclusion that came after the results was always a variant of ‘no divergence from the baseline was observed’ or, more simply, ‘no anomalies were found’. It puzzled him to no end that Doctor Protyp had dedicated so much time and energy to examining a subject that was thoroughly unremarkable, over a period of twenty-eight years no less, and he was scanning the document again, looking for a clue that would explain her interest in this particular individual, when the console beeped again. He switched back to the search results and froze.

    The second match that his search protocol had yielded pertained to Evmen Ide, another researcher from the University of Alderaan whose name had come up as a suspect in the case of a group of her colleagues who had gone into hiding only to disappear without a trace once they reached their safe house. Mon Adik grabbed the printout of the file that had been supplied to him by the Chancery’s Intelligence Bureau and shuffled through the pages. The profile of the suspect detailed every aspect of her life – her personal details, her family background, her studies, her research interests, her movements on Alderaan and across the galaxy over the past several years, her known interactions with Hal Dane and the other colleagues who had fallen victim to Homion Teras – but at no point did it mention that she had been one of Doctor Protyp’s patients. On the contrary, it appeared that Metra Protyp had explicitly told the Bureau’s agents that she had never been in contact with Evmen Ide at all, with the exception of a single medical conference that they had both attended. Yet if the doctor’s own archives were to be believed – and Evmen Ide’s patient file, while not as long as Hal Dane’s, was certainly substantial enough to warrant a mention, as it chronicled a series of experiments to replicate and replace her reproductive organs that had ended in failure... If Metra Protyp’s own archives were to be believed, Metra Protyp had lied.

    And she had lied to protect someone whom the Chancery, the Jedi Order and she herself had every reason to believe was involved in the kidnappings, disappearances and likely deaths of her colleagues.

    The young Jedi leaned back in his chair, wondering how he should handle this unexpected turn of events, when the data terminal beeped once more to signal this time a partial match. He stared at the monitor in disbelief before turning to the last page of the Intelligence file printout and glancing back and forth between the two to make sure that his eyes weren’t deceiving him.

    The computer had directed him to the patient file of one Th’ano Nyês, a large, furry alien whose species was identified as Gigoran, and who had died from complications related to the untimely growth of the replicated eyes he had been fitted with.

    And the Intelligence Bureau agent who had prepared the Chancery’s case file on the disappearances, the one whose picture featured on the last page – the large, furry alien of a species Mon Adik had never encountered before – was named Er’in Nyês.

    The Jedi paused the search script and opened the Encyclopaedia of Galactic Species that was stored in every Republic ship’s data terminal. He needed to learn about Gigoran naming customs, and he needed to do so before the Gene reached Naboo.


    The idea that Corellia was a nature preserve of sorts in ancient times is my fanon. I was initially planning to have a scene take place on Corellia where I would have depicted the planet as a greener version of the Wild West with a variety of never-tell-me-the-odds types among the Nature Rangers. I ended up dropping the scene but I kept the general idea.

    Salab is also a fanon drink based on RL salep/sahlab.

    Gigorans on the other hand are a canon species. I hesitated between the canon version in which they need a vocoder to speak Basic, and the Legends version where they can speak it themselves, and went with the latter.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2023
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Intriguing stuff with the bounty hunter knowing they were coming [face_nail_biting] and the clues about contacts with Protyp [face_thinking] I have this on watch again. LOL [:D]
    UltramassiveUbersue and Chyntuck like this.
  21. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    So you are taking this story and making it into one of your mysteries! I love it.

    Dr. Protyp (I keep vacillating between reading that as "polyp" and "prototype" :p) is a really interesting character. She is obviously brilliant, but also arrogant and furious. Her disdain for her protector, who happens to be one of the best Jedi of his generation, is pretty remarkable. She does make an interesting observation that the ship and the bounty hunter's helmet are the same design, so she is very observant. (If this is a bounty hunter, who is he working for? Who is collecting these scientists and for what reason?)

    But the last part, where we find that the missing scientists are connected to Dr. Protyp not only on a professional level but also as her patients, is the most intriguing development. And she has been studying Hal Dane since his birth, and she is a geneticist -- something is definitely fishy here. Now I wonder how this genetic component will tie in with the title of the story.

    I love how you are taking these familiar environments and tweaking them into somethign new. The idea of Corellia being a verdant, green planet with Nature Rangers rocks, and having Naboo as an outpost that is barely settled really strikes me. We're so used to Naboo having this established, ancient history and here it's brand new. It makes the GFFA so different. Travel is slower, populations are less dense. It adds an interesting flair.
  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    A miracle just happened and I found my writing mojo for this story after just over 6 years since the last post – and as usual I've been rotten at doing replies, so I'm doing them now.

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you! I don't know if you'll want to keep reading this story but I just want to say thanks for giving a try to something that's so far removed from your usual interests [:D]

    @divapilot Thank you! Let's see if I'll bring you out of lurking for the second time in a week (I have plans to tackle Kyberkerk in the not-too-distant future as well, so you should really stick around – and also and MOST IMPORTANTLY because we miss you). As you said, there's something very fishy going on with Doctor Protyp (and you're onto something when you're reading her as "prototype") and things are just about to get fishier. As for the galaxy in the distant past like this story, it has to be one of my favourite aspects of writing in this era. I get to imagine what worlds were like before "development" and there's a lot more of that coming up.

    Lastly, thank you to everyone and anyone who had a look at this story while I was away :) And now, chapter 3 at long last!
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    This chapter uses the “Putting the Star in Star Wars” prompt that @Thumper09 gave me in the Mini-Games Challenge. My prompt was the variable star; I went for the specific sub-category that is the cataclysmic variable star.

    Chapter 3

    The warning signs came on early. The remote island in the middle of one of the lakes that dotted Naboo’s countryside was idyllic, a place of wild natural beauty where the only lifeforms to be detected in the Force were the lush plant life and the fauna of small rodents, pisceans and insects. It had taken Mon Adik and an irate Doctor Protyp a full day to reach the safehouse after they had arrived on the planet. The young Jedi categorically refused to land the Gene on the island, hiding the freighter instead in a cave behind a waterfall on the mainland, and he had patiently ignored the scientist’s constant bickering throughout their journey. He built a small raft to take them across the lake and camouflaged it in the reeds on the northern shore. There was nothing to indicate that they were there, and Homion Teras couldn’t possibly know that they had settled in – unless, of course, he already knew where they were headed.

    If the turmoil that Mon Adik could sense in the Force right now was any indication, he did.

    Or, at least, Metra Protyp knew that he was coming. Mon Adik shifted on his treetop observation post and scrutinised the horizon for the bounty hunter, wondering all the while how the pieces of this puzzle fit together. If Er’in Nyês was indeed betraying Doctor Protyp – and the Republic – why would the scientist be in on the plan? If, on the other hand, it was Doctor Protyp herself who had, for some reason he couldn’t fathom, informed the bounty hunter of her destination, what was the Intelligence agent’s role? Who was deceiving whom in this scheme? More often than not, over the past several days, he had experienced a pang of guilt at the idea that he would be using the woman he was assigned to protect as bait for her would-be kidnapper – but just as frequently, he had found himself pondering that she may be turning the tables on him. He wasn’t quite certain who was the predator and who was the prey in the trap he thought he’d laid. It was a disturbing thought.

    The rising intensity of Metra Protyp’s fear and hatred brought him back to the here and now. What mattered at this point wasn’t how she knew that Homion Teras was nearby; what mattered was that Homion Teras was here. A whisper in the night carried the sound of movement from the opposite shore and a pinprick of light appeared in the dark sky. At least Mon Adik had anticipated the bounty hunter’s strategy correctly, although how a jetpack could carry anyone over such a distance was yet another unelucidated mystery to add to the already long list he would eventually be taking back to Coruscant. But before he could glean any satisfaction from his clairvoyance, a second pinprick – one that was moving much faster – sparkled to life beside the first. For a brief moment the young Jedi surmised that Homion Teras had not come alone, and he began to consider how he would confront two such opponents at once; at the same time, he occurred to him that, due to the sharp buzz in the Force that emanated from the scientist, he could not remotely sense their presence…

    And he only understood that the second speck of light was an explosive rocket when it slammed into the tree where he was hiding.

    It was all he could do to throw his hands before him and project with the Force to try and cushion his fall as the blast sent him tumbling into the brush. By the time he was able to extricate himself from the tangled branches, the bounty hunter had broken into the cabin and was dragging Metra Protyp outside.

    The scientist was putting up a terrific fight, hissing and biting and kicking, but it was obvious that the struggle between a small-bodied woman who was nowhere near her prime and a wall of armoured muscle would be short-lived. Mon Adik wrapped his hand around the hilt of his lightsaber and was about to summon the Force to enhance his leap – he had to reach Doctor Protyp before the bounty hunter’s jetpack could carry her away – when he saw Homion Teras knock her out with a headbutt. She crumpled to a heap on the ground.

    To the Jedi’s great surprise, rather than subsiding, the slew of emotions that came from her warped Force signature only became more intense. He remained still for a few seconds while the helmeted man busied himself with a length of monofilament to tie up his victim – the bounty hunter was left-handed, as was Doctor Protyp – and then it dawned on him.

    He sprang out of the bushes and ran straight at the attacker. Homion Teras spun around and began to hurl volley after volley of projectiles at him, but Mon Adik could deflect them with ease – the hours he had spent studying the holorecording of the scene in the Hotel Meurix was serving him well. Within seconds, he had slipped under the bounty hunter’s guard; after a few seconds more, his lightsaber found the gap between two plates of chest armour and stabbed Homion Teras through the heart.

    And with his death, the buzz in the Force vanished.

    The young Jedi saluted his fallen opponent with his lightsaber. He took the time to check for a pulse on Metra Protyp’s neck and removed the bounty hunter’s helmet.

    What he saw left him in awe-struck silence.

    * * *

    Mon Adik was deep in meditation in the Gene’s lab when Metra Protyp finally stirred. It took her a few moments to find her bearings, but soon he felt her razor-sharp mind focus and he opened his eyes to see her sitting up on the examination table. She ran a hand over her bruised temple and gave him a contemptuous look.

    “Am I to understand that you intervened at long last when that monster was assaulting me, Jedi Adik?”

    He wasn’t going to let her get under his skin this time. “I did, Doctor, and I saved your life. Or at least, I saved the life of one Metra Protyp. For that, I had to kill another.”

    At this she was thrown off-balance. “What are you talking about?”

    “I’m not entirely sure, actually. I was hoping that you could explain it to me.”

    He stood up and unsealed the cryostasis chamber where he had stored Homion Teras’s corpse after ferrying it back to the Gene. Metra Protyp glanced at it and let out a gasp. “This is impossible,” she exclaimed.

    “And yet, it is right here in front of us.” He turned to face her. “Please explain to me how and why the bounty hunter sent after you has a face that looks so very much like yours.”

    The doctor’s jaw worked for a moment, but no sound came out. “Allow me to elaborate, then,” Mon Adik said mercilessly. “This being, this creature, this… man – if this is a man – has your face. He also has the skin of a Weequay, and further presents several features of Wookiee anatomy, such as the fur on his arms and legs and the set of retractable claws on the tips of his fingers. I am certain that an examination by someone more knowledgeable than me would reveal elements borrowed from several more species. You are the foremost specialist on living tissue replication and development in the Republic. Therefore...” his voice trailed off.

    “Are you accusing me, Jedi Adik?” Metra Protyp asked sharply.

    The young man snorted. “You gave unscrupulous people the means to splice together several species in order to create a living weapon with your face. Surely you understand that this isn’t a good look for the Republic’s most acclaimed scientist.”

    For the first time since he had met her, Doctor Protyp seemed to deflate a little. Mon Adik let out a bitter laugh. “It’s nice to see that your reputation is of more concern to you than the ethical implications of your work. Now, again: explain this to me. I seem to remember that your student Hal Dane was working on replicating entire living beings and not only body parts before he was abducted. Is this the result of his research?”

    She shook her head. “It can’t be Hal. He’s just a young man. We know of Homion Teras’s existence since Hal was a small child.” She paused. “I would also like to point out that he was Homion Teras’s first victim, and that this bounty hunter has been coming after me. Why would I create the monster that seeks to destroy me?”

    The Jedi held her gaze steadily. “You tell me.”

    There was a long silence. Mon Adik hesitated to throw in her face the results of his snooping in her private archive – her lies about Evmen Ide, her constant monitoring of Hal Dane’s health, and most importantly her financial transactions, which he was certain had allowed for the development of the wretched abomination standing in the cryostasis chamber – but he had no doubt that she would lie to him, and he decided to play the Sabacc cards close to his chest. “Very well,” he said finally. “Probing your work for medical malpractice is well beyond the scope of my mission; I will therefore leave it in more capable hands when we are able to return to the Core, and I have no doubt that the Chancellor will order a full investigation. For now, however, we need a new place to hide, since there is clearly someone in the Security Bureau who leaked our list of safehouses to Homion Teras.”

    The doctor gave him a puzzled look. “Why not stay here, now that Homion Teras is dead?”

    Mon Adik turned to her with a withering glare. “Because, Doctor, if someone was able to craft this Homion Teras, they may have crafted a second one, and a third one and… For all we know, there is an entire army of such beings out there. I can defend you against one at a time, but I cannot defend you against an army, and I very much want you to remain alive so that your role in this travesty can be clarified once and for all.” He took a deep breath. “The closest Jedi outpost is on Iskalon. The Galactic Atlas is loaded in the navigation computer; please choose a planet for us to settle from where I will be able to contact the Order and ask my masters for advice.”

    He stormed out of the lab, made his way to the cockpit and sank into the pilot’s chair. In truth, it was his own place in this entire charade that made him most uneasy. He had killed the creature that was known to the galaxy as Homion Teras, yet he wondered, as he thought of it, whether this being that had been cobbled together from a miscellany of species wasn’t more deserving of mercy than the scientist who had made his creation possible. As much as he tried to calm himself, he couldn’t help but feel deep anger at Doctor Protyp for allowing her research to be used in such a way – because, unless there was another geneticist whose genius had gone entirely unnoticed in the Republic’s academic institutions, there was no doubt that the crafting of Homion Teras was a direct result of her work. Besides, how could anyone have acquired an adequate sample of genetic material to replicate her face if she wasn’t involved?

    He pushed the thought away and had begun to prepare his report to the Jedi Council when Metra Protyp walked in and sat by his side. She flipped a few switches on the board and indicated a planet on the navicomputer. “Tatooine,” she said. “It’s close enough to Iskalon to allow for long-range communications without a signal booster.”

    Mon Adik scrolled through the information on the screen. “A binary system?”

    She nodded. “Yes. The smaller sun is a cataclysmic variable star – a dwarf nova, to be precise. Its repeated outbursts are making the planet increasingly inhospitable. There appears to still be some flora and fauna, but the desert is advancing and the settlers are moving out. We should be able to find an abandoned structure for shelter until the Jedi Council respond.”

    The young man gave a last look at the navigation data, checked the fuel gauge and began the pre-flight sequence. “Very well, Doctor. Tatooine it is.”
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2023
  24. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Yes continuing this story. And now to Tatooine. What will happen next to Protyp and Mon Adik
  25. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the review @earlybird-obi-wan and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read!

    This chapter further elaborates on the ‘variable star’ prompt that @Thumper09 gave me for the Mini-Games Challenge.

    Chapter 4

    Tatooine was a dying world.

    Mon Adik wasn’t particularly well-versed in astrophysics, but the information he had read on the navicomputer and the arid wasteland he could see from the cockpit of the Gene spoke plainly of what was happening here. The twin suns had been in such proximity that one was distorting the other, attracting an ever-growing volume of particles from its mass until the accumulated matter added enough to its density to cause a flare-up. The resulting radiation had slowly killed the native flora and starved the fauna, and a recent outburst had been so mighty as to push the two stars apart. This, in turn, had shifted the planet’s orbit ever so slightly and pulled it closer; as a result, the surface temperature had passed the critical threshold where the rivers and oceans began to evaporate at an accelerating pace. There were still a few patches of green and blue amidst the browns and ochres, but it was obvious that the expanding desert would devour those too within a decade at most.

    The landscape that unfolded beyond the viewport bore no resemblance whatsoever to the maps and satellite images that were included in the Galactic Atlas, but the Gene’s instruments included a scanner that could match the relief below to the geological surveys stored in the ship’s memory banks. They were currently flying above what had once been a sea in the direction of the Jund Island. The island was one of the first locales that Tatooine’s settlers had abandoned when the water levels receded; the ocean floor was now a salt flat dotted with a few murky puddles and its dust made life unbearable for anyone in the vicinity who was caught in the region’s sandstorms. The archives stated that the local governor’s palace still stood; it was a large complex that had been reinforced against the howling winds over the course of several decades before the local population decided to evacuate. Metra Protyp had pointed out that it was an adequate refuge for them, as it stood on a ridge that had likely been a cliff above the waves in times past and featured a spire would provide them with shelter but also with a lookout on the surrounding area if, somehow, a new version of Homion Teras or another of Idio Ektrom’s henchmen found his way to them. At the same time, the main rotunda’s hangar bay would protect the Gene from the elements and ensure that it was still in good working order when their predicament was somehow resolved. If they were lucky, they might even find residual energy in the palace’s power banks to recharge some of the ship’s equipment that needed a little sprucing up.

    This was all fine and good, and there was no indication that the area wasn’t deserted, nor was there any possible way Idio Ektrom, Homion Teras or anyone else could know where they were headed – Mon Adik had made sure to disable the Gene’s transponder altogether before they left Naboo rather than broadcast one of the fake codes that had been supplied by the Intelligence Bureau – yet as he brought the ship to land before the massive metal doors that shut the palace’s hangar bay, he couldn’t help but feel that they were about to step into grave and imminent danger. Of course, Metra Protyp didn’t pay any heed to his misgivings; she had heavily emphasised the cleverness of her choice of a refuge throughout their journey, and, as soon as the Gene touched down, she trotted down the boarding ramp to check if the doors were still powered. The Force was screaming as he followed her outside, and he wrapped his hand around the hilt of his lightsaber, ready to fight back against whoever was there…

    And suddenly they were surrounded. A group of sentient beings – some of them tall and lanky, others short and stocky, but all of them masked, clothed and gloved in such a way that not a millimetre of skin showed – materialised around them, blocking the passage to the metal gates but also back to the ship. A closer look revealed that they were covered in cowls, hoods and cloaks, or even wrapped in bandages from head to toe, but they were unarmed and didn’t appear otherwise menacing at all. One of the taller ones, apparently a female, limped forward and bowed gingerly.

    “Greetings, visitors,” she said in a voice muffled by the layers of fabric. “Lady Hemi is glad that you have arrived.”

    At this, all blood drained from Metra Protyp’s face. She grabbed the young Jedi’s arm in a vice-like grip. “We must leave.”

    “I am afraid that this is not possible,” the bandaged woman said. “Lady Hemi has been expecting you for a very long time. It would be unwise to disappoint her.”

    “If I may,” Mon Adik intervened, “you must be confusing us with someone else. Lady Hemi couldn’t possibly have been expecting us when we didn’t know ourselves that we were coming here.”

    The woman shook her head. “You didn’t know. But she did. This way, please.”

    The grasp on Metra Protyp’s hand on his arm became even tighter. “Jedi Adik,” she whispered, unable to suppress the shaking in her voice, “kill them and get us out of here.”

    For the first time since they had landed he brought his full attention to her. She was deathly pale and her teeth were chattering in fear; yet he couldn’t bring himself to feel any compassion for her. “I am not a murderer, Doctor. These people are unarmed. Why should I kill them?”

    The scientist took a deep breath to regain some of her composure. “If you do not kill them, they will kill us.”

    “If they express any such intention, I will protect you,” Mon Adik said coldly. “But I am curious to find out why you chose to bring us to a place where we were expected. I have no doubt that the explanation is to be found in this allegedly abandoned palace that you chose.”

    And with that, he untangled himself from her grip and followed their guide into the building.

    More shadowy figures, most of them humanoid but some definitely alien in physiology, came out of a series of lateral chambers as they made their way through a vaulted stone hallway illuminated only by a series of skylights. The newcomers simply stood there to watch the little procession pass. Many were limping and using a cane or a crutch; many more sat in old-fashioned wheelchairs, or had an arm in a brace, or even missed a limb altogether; others yet who didn’t bother to cover their faces had one eye that was disproportionately larger than the other or displayed a gaping hole in the place of their nose. Mon Adik observed them with a sinking feeling as he walked past. This was a colony of cripples – a few of the thousands of beings who had come to Metra Protyp in the hope of restoring their dexterity or their eyesight or their ability to walk, and had emerged from her botched experiments with a new organ that had eventually turned on them and maimed them in a far worse fashion than the wound that had led them to volunteer for the initial procedure.

    They finally arrived in a vast hall that was much brighter than the corridor they had just crossed. The light lifted the young Jedi’s spirits a little, but a new monstrosity was awaiting them. As soon as they entered the circular room, a line of spidery creatures – not creatures, droids – that had been standing along the walls began to move in their direction. Soon they had crowded around a terrified Doctor Protyp and were poking her with the tip of their legs. Hanging under each metallic body’s central unit was a spherical jar filled with liquid, and within it floated…

    … a brain.

    Mon Adik closed his eyes and inhaled a deep, soothing breath to calm the turmoil that threatened to overcome his soul, trying with all his might to block out the sense of sheer dread that emanated from the doctor. He still couldn’t comprehend any aspect of this situation – from the fact that the greatest scientific mind of his time had brought about such freakish aberrations to the chain of events that had led them to this particular place at this particular time – but he expected that explanations would come soon, and he feared that they would prove worse than the worst of his suspicions. He had very nearly managed to reach a deep state of meditation when he heard Metra Protyp’s voice ask, “What are they?”

    Her lack of respect for the wretched beings around her snapped him out of his trance. “The correct question, Doctor, is: who are they?”

    “Indeed,” an eerily familiar voice said from the shadows beyond the hall. “These are sentient creatures, Metra. These are some of the people who found themselves in such pain after the failure of your ill-advised grafting operations that they had to renounce their bodies altogether in order to survive.”

    Mon Adik experienced a surge of loathing when he noticed the gleam of curiosity in the scientist’s eyes. She began to examine the six-legged mechanicals with renewed interest, even swatting away their outstretched legs for a better look at the brain vats. The invisible speaker laughed bitterly. “Don’t think for a second that you’ll be allowed to conduct experiments on them, Metra. But I’ll allow you a looksie. After all, this is the fate that awaits you until we can put things right.”

    That voice… “Who are you?” the Jedi called towards the shadows. “Show yourself!”

    There was the clatter of metal on stone, and an absurd-looking being appeared on the far end of the room. Its lower body was not unlike the brain walkers, albeit larger and with four sturdy legs instead of six gangly ones. Atop it sat the torso of a woman that appeared to be attached to the mechanical contraption at the pelvis. One of her arms was atrophied and the shoulder supporting it sloped downwards awkwardly, but her face and cold grey eyes were neat and sharp – and they were unmistakably Doctor Protyp’s.

    “Hello, Metra,” the unnatural creature said with an ominous grin. “It’s been a while.” Her metal legs clattered once more as she brought herself around to face Mon Adik. “Greetings, Master Jedi. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Hemi Protyp – although you are probably better acquainted with the name I have been using for the past few decades: Idio Ektrom.”

    * * *

    For a long, dazed moment, Mon Adik stared at the half-woman standing before him in silence. Her face was a perfect replica of the scientist with whom he had spent the past several days, down to the mannerisms: the twitch of her eyelid, the dimple in her chin, the way she pressed her mouth into a straight line. Even her Force signature was uncannily similar; it didn’t cause the overwhelming buzz that he had felt emanating from Homion Teras, but the anger, the hatred and the determination that the bounty hunter had broadcast were there, clear and unwarped – and the Jedi had no doubt that the being that had been created by splicing together several species with elements of Doctor Protyp was this bizarre creature’s offspring.

    Idio Ektrom – Hemi Protyp – observed him in return and finally spoke. “I imagine that my sister hasn’t been very forthcoming with explanations.”

    Mon Adik arched an eyebrow. “No. Doctor Protyp never mentioned having siblings, or even any family at all – not even to the Republic’s Intelligence Bureau.”

    Hemi Protyp snorted. “She wouldn’t, would she?” She glared at the doctor, who still stood amidst the spidery brain walkers. “Metra and I are twins. Identical twins, conjoined at the abdomen at birth. When we were separated, she kept the body we had in common, and I was left as you see me: a monster, a cripple to be tucked away, no more than a half-person who –”

    At this Metra Protyp raised her head. “This isn’t how I saw you and you know it,” she said fiercely. “Mother and Father hid you, but I – I shared everything with you, always, and you –”

    Hemi Protyp’s laughter was so bitter and cold that the temperature in the cavernous hall seemed to drop by several degrees. “And I refused to share with you the only thing that you do not have, is that what you are about to say?” She turned back to Mon Adik. “You will allow me to elaborate. As Metra said, our parents kept me hidden as a mark of shame; they even declared my death to the civil registry. And indeed, when we were children, Metra was my only friend. Every day, she came from school and taught me what she had learned. I may not look like much, but I have what it takes up here” – she touched her deformed hand to her temple – “and I caught up quite fast. As we grew up, we began to dream about how we would revolutionise medicine to help people like me. Metra went to university and began her research, and I kept learning from her. Being locked up at home, I could also do further reading and teach her in return, and I was essentially advising her from the shadows as she launched her career. Until –”

    “Until it turned out that Doctor Protyp’s motivations were far more selfish and self-centred than she let on,” a new voice intervened.

    Metra Protyp’s entire body jerked. Mon Adik glanced at the dark corridor beyond the hall. Two silhouettes were approaching, and when they came into the light, he immediately identified them as two of the scientists who had been listed in the case file: Hal Dane, Doctor Protyp’s student who had been the first geneticist abducted by Homion Teras, and Evmen Ide, the researcher from the University of Alderaan who was suspected of abetting in the disappearance of her colleagues. The young man merely glanced at the woman who had been his mentor reproachfully before coming to stand at Hemi Protyp’s side, but Evmen Ide’s expression was one of pure loathing.

    “You see, Master Jedi,” she continued as she stepped into the hall, “when Lady Hemi and Doctor Protyp were separated as infants, Lady Hemi did keep something that Doctor Protyp lacks to this day. Namely, a uterus.” She focused her angry eyes on the scientist. “You may claim all you want that you did everything you did to help your sister, Doctor, but I know better. I was your lab rat in this and I still suffer the consequences. You wanted the only thing your sister had that you did not: reproductive organs. And, rather than experiment on yourself, you experimented on me.”

    “And when your experiments failed, you used me,” Hemi Protyp rejoined. “You used what little there was of your sister’s body to carry a child for you, and you took him away from me.”

    Mon Adik nodded slowly. It was all coming together now. “I imagine that you are the child in question, Doctor Dane?” he asked the young man, whose hand now rested on his progenitor’s shoulder.

    The half-woman looked at him appraisingly. “It seems that you are better informed than we expected, Master Jedi.”

    Despite the seriousness of the situation, Mon Adik allowed himself a small smile. “I sliced into your sister’s records when I began to suspect that something wasn’t quite right and saw that Doctor Protyp constantly monitored Doctor Dane’s health. This is taking on a whole new meaning with the context you supplied.”

    “I did what any mother would do for their child –” Metra Protyp began.

    Hemi Protyp reared on her hind legs, and for a fraction of a second, the Jedi thought that she would stab her sister through the chest with one of her raised appendages, but Hal Dane intervened. “You are not my mother,” he said calmly. “You are my kidnapper. I would never have known my parentage if my true mother had not done” – he waved his hand to encompass the room, the palace and all its denizens – “this.”

    The silence that followed was deafening. Metra Protyp’s shoulders slumped in utter defeat; once more, Mon Adik couldn’t bring himself to feel any sort of compassion towards her – albeit for every different reasons this time. He returned his attention to the being he – and the entire galaxy – had thought of as a common crime lord. “I assume that the great fire of Coruscant University was your doing.”

    Hemi nodded. “It was. Once I understood what Metra was actually doing – and that she had used both my body and my mind to her ends – I sought to destroy it all. Alas, I failed, and I also failed to recover my child.”

    “So you fled and forged the identity of Idio Ektrom,” Mon Adik continued. “You sought out other beings across the galaxy who had fallen victim to Doctor Protyp’s experiments and you mobilised them, and…” His voice trailed off as understanding dawned on him. “And you funded your endeavour with the donations that were flowing to your sister’s research.”

    The half-woman grinned. “Precisely. I share so much genetic material with Metra that it was easy to create fake IDs that could fool even the most advanced scanners, and Metra couldn’t reveal my existence without thoroughly discrediting herself – while incurring no small amount of legal trouble, I may add. There was a poetic irony to the idea that the funds intended for experiments that would ruin the lives of scores of people would be used instead to obtain justice for them.”

    The Jedi pondered her words for a moment. As much as he wanted to empathise with her and the people she had taken under her wing, this didn’t feel right – none of it felt right. “It seems to me that what you seek is not so much justice as vengeance.”

    Hemi Protyp’s grey eyes narrowed and hardened ever so slightly, but this minute change in her expression was so ominous that, in that moment, Mon Adik saw the fabled Idio Ektrom in her. “In this case, justice and vengeance are one and the same, Master Jedi,” she said coldly. “We will extract Metra’s brain and keep it in a jar like we did for those of her patients who couldn’t live in their bodies anymore. We will have the satisfaction of her agony while using her knowledge to seek a means to right the myriad wrongs she has inflicted upon the people who stand in this room with you.”

    Mon Adik shook his head. “Do you also intend to right the wrongs you inflicted on the beings known as Homion Teras – however many of them you created?”

    “Homion Teras was a necessary evil,” Evmen Ide protested. “All those who gave genetic material to create him were fully aware of the implications, and –”

    “And they agreed to create an expendable sentient being – a living weapon, as it were,” Mon Adik interrupted mercilessly. “Something far worse than a slave. Did any of you even give them a choice as to what they would be? Your sister may have opened the gates of hell, Lady Hemi, but you stepped inside willingly.”

    “I live in hell, Master Jedi,” Hemi Protyp said very quietly. “There is no hope for me to ever escape.” She motioned towards two of the taller bandaged beings who had stood there silently throughout the conversation. “Take her to the cellar. We will conduct the procedure in the morning.”

    Metra Protyp didn’t even try to resist as the two beings came to stand on either side of her and lifted her by the armpits. Hemi watched them take her away. “Are we done here, Master Jedi?”

    Mon Adik examined her carefully. She was clearly asking him if he would ignite his lightsaber and seek to free her sister, and she was fully aware that her ragtag group of amputees were in no condition to stop him – the Force didn’t indicate the presence of any of the hired muscle she no doubt used for her criminal operations as Idio Ektrom – but he wouldn’t and couldn’t take up arms against people who had already endured such suffering. “We are,” he said. “However, I would be grateful if you were willing to humour my curiosity for a moment longer. How did you know that we would come here?”

    Hemi smiled. “You forget that I am my sister’s other half, Master Jedi – her better half. I do not only share her body, I share her mind. I know exactly how she thinks. I knew that, after she was forced to flee Naboo, this palace featured all the traits she would seek in a place of refuge.”

    Mon Adik gave her a puzzled look. “So you moved your base here when we fled Naboo?”

    Hemi smiled again, this time with a hint of pity for his naivety. “No, Master Jedi. My base has been here for nearly three decades. I simply ensured that you ran out of safehouses once you reached Naboo.” She waddled forward in a clatter of metal on stone and patted him on the shoulder. “I have my sister’s mind, I have her funds and I have her network – the network of her disgruntled patients. Believe me, infiltrating the Republic was much easier than what you seem to imagine.”