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Saga Metal Coils -- X-wing pilots, OCs, OT era, completed 3/21

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Thumper09, Jan 17, 2010.

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  1. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Title: Metal Coils
    Author: Thumper09
    Timeframe: OT era, approximately three months after the Battle of Yavin
    Characters: OCs (Rebel X-wing pilots)
    Genre: Drama, some Action
    Summary: An inexperienced X-wing pilot's life is complicated by rookie mistakes, computer glitches and two feuding astromechs.
    Notes: Many thanks to all those who have been my sounding boards and idea generators. I couldn't have done any of this without you.
    This takes place after my story [link=http://boards.theforce.net/the_saga/b10476/29543892]"Commencement"[/link], but I've done my best to make this into a standalone so previous knowledge should not be required.
    The story has been finished in advance. Updates will be made weekly, most likely on Sundays. Update PMs are available on request.
    Disclaimer: Star Wars isn't mine, but we all knew that already. All original characters in this story are mine. Poor guys.

    Constructive criticism is most welcome.

    ----------

    Corona Squadron Roster

    Corona One / Lead - Cdr. Quentell "Mack" Mackin, human male from Treminal III
    Corona Two - Lt. Ikoa "Rancor" Fyndcap, human female from Rin
    Corona Three - Lt. Jayke "Chopper" Forsgren, human male from Brentaal
    Corona Four - FO. Kalre "Parsec" Unatel, Rodian male from Druckenwell
    Corona Five - FO. Maptoo "Admiral" Moog, Gran male from Malastare
    Corona Six - FO. Chryse "CC" Cerac, human female from Avalar
    Corona Seven - FO. Tictintco "Slurry" Tnis, Bilgana male from Bilgan
    Corona Eight / XO / Two Flight Lead - Lt. Steen "Snubber" Weas, human male from Plonia V
    Corona Nine - FO. Darin "Thumper" Stanic, human male from Craci IV
    Corona Ten - FO. Hentil "Quiver" Yanilr, human male from Druzien
    Corona Eleven - xxxx
    Corona Twelve - xxxx

    ----------

    "Metal Coils"


    Prologue

    One week ago

    "Coronas, retreat. Jump out immediately. Meet at Rally Point Echo."

    Flight Officer Darin Stanic was relieved to hear his commander's order. This hit-and-run had turned brutal, and he couldn't wait to get out of there. It was hard to convince his racing heart and sweaty palms that this was only a simulator run, and he had too much else on his mind to bother trying. Besides, everyone always told him to treat sims like they were real anyway.

    Darin disengaged from the TIE he had been firing at in an attempt to discourage it from coming after his temporary wingman. He'd been flying with Flight Officer Chryse "CC" Cerac ever since they had both lost their regular wingmen earlier in a particularly heavy part of the fighting, and things hadn't improved much. Three of CC's engines were inoperative, and her X-wing was having difficulties fighting the gravity of the gas giant below them.

    "Six, come on, let's get out of here," Darin said over the comm while he flew over to join up with her. He noticed one pair of the surviving pilots from Corona Squadron jump into hyperspace, and he kept an eye on his scope for any TIEs turning in CC's direction.

    "I can't, Nine," CC replied. "I can't jump with three of my engines out. Hell, I can't even get out of this gravity well. You go on."

    Her words made Darin stop for a moment. She didn't really say that, did she? Or mean it? "But what about you?" he blurted out urgently. His stomach knotted.

    "One knows my status. My X-wing will be able to stay in orbit a little longer, then I'll eject to give myself more time for a rescue to come. Maybe my droid can fix an engine before then too."

    Even though he'd only been flying starfighters in combat for about a month, Darin saw way, way too many things wrong with that plan. CC would never survive that, especially with so many TIEs still present. He looked around desperately. There had to be another option. "But--"

    "Nine, go! Don't worry about me. You've got retreat orders," CC said, somewhat sharply.

    Another pair of Coronas jumped to hyperspace. A
     
  2. Thorn058

    Thorn058 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Heck of a start Thumper, edge of your seat stuff. Nice:D I'll be back looking for updates next Sunday
     
  3. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    What a great start! I love it. There's something about your characters that come alive within the first few words, Thumps. You're a master at sucking us in quickly and making us feel for your characters--even the angry (but hopefully not homicidal!) droids. And then the situations you stick them through, so plausible, so real, and yet so well worded. Great stuff! I can't wait to read the next section. Please put me on that PM list!
     
  4. H-BOMB

    H-BOMB Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Awesome! I love fighter squadron stories! Keep it up, I 'll be back here for sure.
     
  5. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thorn: Thank you, and thanks for reading! Here's the next update. The weekend's been a bit busy, but I'll be catching up on your story really soon. :)

    Peri: Thankya! I'm happy there's a sense of realism and sympathy for the characters. Hopefully that'll continue through the story. Smack me if it doesn't. I'll be sure to PM you with updates.

    even the angry (but hopefully not homicidal!) droids

    I promise nothing! [face_not_talking] :p LOL

    H-BOMB: Thanks! I'm glad to meet another person who enjoys fighter squadron stories. I'll be happy to recommend some of my favorite squadfics here by other authors if you're ever interested. :D

    ---

    Chapter One is short and Chapter Two is too long for one update post, so as much as I didn't want to split Chapter Two into two posts, I did. The first part of it is included in today's update. It's an odd stopping point, but I chose it because it's right before Chapter Two shifts gears a bit. Thanks for reading, everyone!

    --------

    Chapter One


    A series of beeps cut through Darin's sound sleep. He scowled, fighting the external pull from his slumber. The galaxy was way too unfair if it was morning already, and five more minutes of peace would be a good first step to making up for this injustice. Darin blindly reached out to swat at his alarm, but his hand smacked prematurely into a large piece of metal. His alarm squawked at him in annoyance.

    "Huh?" Darin rubbed his stinging hand and pried his eyes open with difficulty against the inexplicable ambient light. He didn't expect to see Botch there right in front of his face. His droid beeped at him again.

    "Oh. It's you. Sorry 'bout that, Botch," Darin mumbled. He closed his eyes and turned over to succumb to his exhaustion again.

    That plan was foiled when Botch squealed insistently, then he began emitting harsh, grating noises, each one louder than the last. After the tenth round of torture to his eardrums, Darin gave in. "All right! All right! I'm up! Crazy droid." The pilot rolled back to face his astromech, reluctantly sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. For the first time he realized where he was: he'd fallen asleep on the old couch in the pilots' lounge again. The light was even still on. According to Darin's chrono it was 0218 hours, and he found some small comfort in the fact that it really wasn't morning yet and he might have a chance for more sleep. Darin positioned himself to get a good view of the small text readout on the front of Botch's housing. "Okay, now what is it?" he asked through a yawn.

    Botch's more regular beeps, whistles and grunts translated themselves into Basic words on the display, and Darin read them incredulously. Sleep was soon forgotten. "Really? Are you sure?"

    An affirmative, plaintive beep answered him. Darin sighed and rubbed his eyes again. "Okay, I'll see what's up." He picked up the datapad he'd been reading from where it had fallen to the floor when sleep claimed him, and then he rose stiffly and walked out with his astromech following.

    *****

    Standing there in the droids' small repair bay, Darin briefly second-guessed the wisdom of his decision not to ever memory-wipe Botch.

    Sure, there were lots of reasons why he kept Botch memory-intact. It improved Botch's interaction with his X-wing, which could mean the difference between life and death in a dogfight, and Darin knew he needed all the help he could get in that area. It allowed Botch to learn from experience, just like sentients did. Finally, Darin couldn't help but anthropomorphize droids. He wasn't sure why; it might have been something to do with his upbringing or maybe it was nothing more than a weird quirk, but droids were individuals to him, not mere collections of nuts and bolts. How could he purposefully take away the memory of someone-- or something-- he saw as a friend? It seemed wrong. He'd talked to CC about this topic at length when he'd first arrived and had to d
     
  6. Thorn058

    Thorn058 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Oh the plot thickens, devious droids and all. I really enjoyed the interaction between the three at breakfast. I think you captured the group dynamic of a fighter squadron well. I could almost see expressions and body language in the dialogue and hear the character's voices coming through. Thermostat wars isn't that the truth lol I have to wear hoodies and thick socks alot since nobody likes to be toasty warm like I do. Great update and you are right that was a good point to pause at.
     
  7. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Sorry I'm late. I'm glad to be back here and reading this, though!

    Awww, the droids are feuding, how cute. Which one's the Hatfield and which one's the McCoy? :D

    "Ruby can get a little cranky, but he's a better friend to me than Quiver is."

    Love that line. Nothing says burn like making a somewhat inanimate object better than you. But I really wonder what's going on...I don't think Ruby's behind this on his own. And who changed the lock on Darin's door? Inquiring minds want to know!
     
  8. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thorn: Thanks, I'm glad the dynamic is coming across all right. I love writing these three together. Doing scenes at a table is tricky for me. Heh, you sound a bit like me: I'm always bundled up inside because I freeze in the air conditioning here. Thanks, and thanks for the reply!

    Peri: Well, there is a Civil War tie in here, just on a slightly larger scale. ;) Though Botch and Ruby are supposed to be on the same side in the Galactic Civil War, not like the Hatfields and McCoys on opposing sides of the American one, so I dunno? LOL.

    The inquiring minds unfortunately won't have any answers this week, but maybe someday. :p In the meantime, we might see another burn or two. Thanks for replying!

    ---

    I doubt I'll have a chance to post this tomorrow, so here's the rest of Chapter Two. Sorry for the "talking heads" chapter, but I promise there's a reason for all this. ;) Thanks for reading!

    --------

    (cont'd)

    "He'll come around, and things will get back to normal. I can't really speak for Botch, since his previous pilot performed regular wipes on him. I don't know what he's like while memory-intact."

    Darin shrugged. "He's been a great droid so far."

    Quiver shook his head and cut into the conversation. "I swear, I can't understand why you two don't memory-wipe your droids," he said. "This little droid war wouldn't be happening now if you did. Granted that it's funny to watch, but they also woke me up from my nap the other day with their racket."

    "Admit it, Quiver," CC said with a sly grin. "The only reason you wipe Sonic's memory is because you don't want a permanent record of all the stupid stuff you do."

    "Why would I need another one? I've got you here to constantly remind me. Case in point, the Corellian Incident. You always talk about that."

    "I'm not the one who always brings it up, though. That's your fault. Case in point, right now," CC replied.

    Darin raised an eyebrow. He'd never be able to decipher all the inside jokes these two had. "'Corellian Incident'?" he asked.

    Quiver groaned and covered his face with a hand, and CC's light brown eyes lit up. "You haven't heard about that yet?" she asked Darin. "Oooh, this'll be fun!" She shot a smirk in Quiver's direction and turned back to Darin, almost too eagerly.

    "The pilot who was unfortunate enough to be stuck as Quiver's wingman and roommate before you was a big guy called Cracker. Skull Cracker, actually, after his favorite smashball team and his favorite hobby," CC started by way of explanation. Her words had the air of a well-practiced narrative, yet one that still held opportunities for improvisation to tailor to the audience. "He was a fierce loner, always keeping to himself, and he'd get hostile if anyone pushed him to interact on an even remotely personal level. I'll let you imagine just how much this annoyed Quiver, since mere words cannot describe it."

    "He was never any fun," Quiver muttered.

    CC shushed him. "No interrupting. But you see my point," she said to Darin. When the younger pilot nodded in complete understanding, she continued. "One day, for whatever reason, Quiver convinced himself that Cracker was from Corellia. His warped little mind saw a way to use this supposed knowledge to get Cracker to like him and do stuff. Can you guess what that plan was?"

    Darin shook his head, and CC went on. "Whenever he was around Cracker, Quiver would start gushing about how wonderful Corellians were. Everything he saw or did would be compared to a Corellian version, which would always be superior. What Quiver didn't know, though," CC said as she started to snicker, "was that Cracker wasn't Corellian and in fact did not like Corellians whatsoever. There was some really bad blood there which I think involved some previous prison time.

    "One day, I was walking with the two of them to a briefing or somewhere, and Quiver made another praise-filled Corellian co
     
  9. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Hah, that was a fun post. Now I know what you meant about the talking heads comment at the beginning, but it was definitely funny. Quiver wins the contest, if there was one. That sounds like something I'd do, somehow. :p

    Sounds like poor Darin's gonna be rookie for a while. Unless he gets himself killed. That doesn't sound very good, either. Can't wait till next week! :)
     
  10. Danaan

    Danaan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Just found this! Wonderful to see the next installment. I really like the chemistry between the Corona's, including the droids. Looking forward to more!
     
  11. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Peri: There's always a contest. :p And yeah, I agree Quiver won that one hands-down. For some reason it's easier to write Quiver getting into trouble, LOL.

    Unfortunately Darin has a long rookie road ahead of him. I can't let him out of things that easily. ;) Thanks for reading!


    Danaan: Glad you're here! I'm happy the chemistry is working with them so far. Thanks for reading!

    ---

    This is another early update due to schedule conflicts tomorrow.

    I've always had problems with a particular part of this next post, and I'm not certain I've been able to fix it despite my best efforts. Forest for the trees, and all that. If anything doesn't make sense, smack me and I'll try to explain and fix it a different way.

    --------

    Chapter Three

    Another day, another sim run.

    Corona Squadron's briefing that morning had led them directly into this simulator exercise. It was another iteration of the mission they'd been practicing for the past week, a hit-and-run against an Imperial monitoring station orbiting a gas giant. Quake Squadron, the other starfighter squadron stationed on Crescent Star, was joining them; the earlier sim runs had determined the Imperials were too strong at that location for the Coronas to do this mission alone. In this particular attempt, the Coronas were to conduct a fighter sweep in their X-wings and act as a remote escort to keep most of the Imperial starfighters busy while the Quake Y-wings came in behind and pounded the station. Once the Quakes had dealt enough damage, all of the Rebels would hyperjump out.

    Darin hoped this sim would go better than the others had, especially last week's. Even without having to worry about pushing another X-wing out of a gravity well, he was still having difficulties adjusting to flying with such an experienced squadron. Trying to catch up to them skill-wise was exhausting.

    Darin's cockpit console beeped, indicating five seconds before reversion to real space. He took some deep breaths, remembered to fasten his helmet's chinstrap at the last minute, and pulled his hyperdrive lever at the appropriate time.

    The swirling blue tunnel around him became elongated streaks of light, and the elongated light snapped into pinpricks of stars sprinkled haphazardly on a black backdrop. Darin formed up with Quiver's X-wing, which had reverted immediately in front of him and to the side, and the rest of the shorthanded Coronas also fell into formation. The Quakes would be reverting a few minutes later to give the Coronas a chance to soften up the opposition. The station loomed before them in orbit around the greenish-blue gaseous planet.

    Commander Quentell Mackin's voice came promptly over the comm. "Coronas, S-foils in attack formation, accelerate to attack speed. Check your shields. You know your job, now let's do it." The pilots obeyed, and the ten X-wings swiftly approached the station.

    It wasn't long at all before Darin's scope showed the red dots of enemy TIE fighters coming to intercept them. Lieutenant Steen "Snubber" Weas, the Coronas' XO, reported them. "Lead, we have two incoming squadrons of eyeballs. We should have jumped in closer and taken our chances with the gravity well. They have too much reaction time this way."

    "Agreed, Eight," Mackin replied. "Coronas, ready two torpedoes each and fire on my mark."

    Clicks of acknowledgment sounded in Darin's headset. Darin switched his weapons controls to torpedoes, picked out a random TIE fighter near the middle of the formation and centered his targeting brackets over it. While they were still out of firing range, Darin's mind wandered a bit. If this had been a real mission, that particular Imperial pilot might not live to see another day, all because Darin had chosen to target that fighter on nothing more than a whim--

    The steady tone of his targeting computer indicating he had a torpedo lock snapped him out of his thoughts. An
     
  12. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    What an awesome post!

    Poor Thumper. He's trying so dang hard to get up to speed with the rest of his squadmates, but it's hard to go straight from the academy to the real world...simulator. We can only hope things go more smoothly for them when they do the actual mission. Assuming Darin doesn't get sidelined first. Or lose all his self confidence.

    You did an amazing job with this post. The fighter sequences were spot on, I could see everything happening perfectly. I was nervous for all the Coronas, but felt especially so for Darin. You definitely don't need smacking. Maybe a good hug, but no smacking. :D Can't wait for the next post!
     
  13. Danaan

    Danaan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Aha. Information overload. Classic :D . A very typical sign of being a rookie, indeed. And when Situational Awareness breaks down, the rookie breaks down. Therefore, any veteran should challenge the SA of the opponent and thus weed out the hapless rookies and deal with them mercilessly! Awesome description of just how this happens! =D=

    Oh, and feel free to add me to any PM list you might be keeping!
     
  14. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    A very interesting and well put together story so far. The interaction parts are funny and the starfighter combat (simulations for the moment) are well done (though as a personal preference I always think X-wings get to milk the shields a little too much, but that's kind of inherent in the pilot squad fic, since you can't kill everyone).

    A minor suggestion I might make is that there is relatively little description, particularly during the dialogue between the pilots. Possibly this was covered in the earlier work, but from the perspective of a new reader such as myself its difficult to get a grasp of what these people look like, even in general terms. This came up in the little green hair story, when you don't say what her hair color was until after she's mentioned dyeing it.
     
  15. Thorn058

    Thorn058 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Sorry i didn't get a chance to post after the last update and before this one Thumper. THe previous one was a blast. I can totally see them sitting there at the end going "Dark times, Dark Times."[face_laugh] really bringing their characters out well with their interactions.

    As for our boy Thumper who can blame him. I can't remember how many times in the numerous starfighter games that LucasArts makes that I have been so focused on the eyeball in front of me, or the pirate's snub fighter that I forgot about my wing man or some sleezy Imp slipped behind me and started pouring coherent light into my shields. It happens to the best of us. Thankfully it was a sim and he can correct the mistake. His training wheels will be off soon and he will be vaping eyeballs before he knows it. Go Thumper!

    Nice updates loving where the story seems headed.
     
  16. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Peri: Thanks! Trying to fit himself into the flow of things when he doesn't have much experience is tough for Darin. There's nothing like being thrown in the deep end. :p I'm glad the dogfight was follow-able (is that a word?). Thanks for reading!

    Danaan: Consider yourself added. :) Yup, whatever situational awareness Darin may have had completely failed him here, and a dogfight is not a pleasant place to be when that happens. Unfortunately this is a lesson he's learned the hard way, but at least he was dealt with mercilessly in the sim rather than real life. Thanks for replying!

    Mechalich: Welcome, and thanks for the reply! I freely admit that descriptions are unfortunately not my forte, but I'll do my best to pay more attention to them and improve them from here on out. Thank you for the suggestion-- I appreciate it! :D

    Thorn: I imagine it's a fairly common occurrence for a person to get too focused on what's right in front of him or her in a fight, even a game or a simulated fight. Piloting is such a multitasking-intensive thing to begin with, and it amazes me how people manage to add combat on top of that. Heck, I've never been good at any of the X-wing games or related ones, and I'm envious of you. ;) Darin will certainly be trying to fix his mistake. Thanks for reading!

    ---

    Two chapters today because each is fairly short. Thanks for reading, everyone. :)

    --------

    Chapter Four

    Darin did his best to will himself into invisibility in the small briefing room. He stayed as quiet as the animal that had inspired his callsign and simply listened to the lively debate filling the air about whether it was best to jump in closer to the planet and risk getting caught immediately in the gravity well or to jump in farther away with a chance of a quick escape but giving more notice to the Imperials. Most of the pros and cons brought up on either side by the pilots were things Darin would never have thought of. Blast, he felt so naïve.

    Operation: Please Forget About My Stupid Mistakes went rather well for Thumper until the debate wound down and Commanders Mackin and Unirt began their usual debriefing procedure. They went around the room and had each pilot relate how the mission had looked from their perspective and what had gone well or could be improved upon.

    "So the TIE was dumping all his laser power into my poor X-wing. About that time I figured it would have been really nice if I'd had a wingman with me like I'd thought I did," Quiver said as he ended his tale of woe during his turn. He still sounded aggravated. "By the time I finally got Nine's attention, though, I'd transformed into a 'regret to inform you' letter for Mack to write to my parents. Which I hope would contain lots of wonderful adjectives and adverbs."

    Mackin crossed his arms casually, and the stocky commander with a black, regulation crew cut half-sat on the table at the front of the room. "Depends," Mackin replied. "For instance, what should I tell Mr. and Mrs. Yanilr about their wonderful son's teaching skills?"

    Quiver immediately opened his mouth to answer but stopped as suspicion clouded his face. "What do you mean?" Quiver asked skeptically.

    Mackin shrugged. "You know Nine's new, so you should be devoting a bit of extra effort to making sure he's doing what he's supposed to be doing instead of assuming he is. Right? That's how he'll learn. When we're flying, you need to teach him."

    The words were mild, but there was a quiet reaction and stirring from all the other pilots that was best summed up by CC. "Busted," she muttered under her breath to Quiver from where she sat beside him. On the opposite side of Quiver, Darin's stomach sank. The cobbled-together metal chair felt a hundred times more uncomfortable, and he fidgeted in his seat.

    Quiver looked caught off-guard. "Huh? Sir, how is this my fault? I tried to get Nine on the comm when I saw he wasn't there anymore, and
     
  17. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Poor Darin, things just aren't going his way at all. I'd say someone--or some thing is giving him a very hard time. There's too much potential for badness to happen, this is more serious than they expect. Maybe more serious than I expect. I sure hope someone gets to the bottom of things fast, before all heck breaks loose.

    Wonderful post! Your characterizations are still spot on. Great job!
     
  18. Danaan

    Danaan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Methinks a droid might be throwing a wrench in poor Darin's already troubled life..
     
  19. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Peri: I agree, the badness potential is quite high. They haven't caught a glimpse of the bigger picture and its implications... yet. I'm glad the characterizations are still working. :) Thanks for reading!

    Danaan: Yup, and we'll be getting some of the details now. :) Thanks for reading!

    ---

    I'll be posting this chapter in two parts, partially due to length and partially due to my having to work on the second half some more. I can't promise anything, but maybe I'll be able to toss in a midweek update. Thanks for reading, everyone!

    --------

    Chapter Six

    A blaring alarm jolted Darin awake. His immediate thought was to take action, but his next immediate thought didn't know what kind of action to take. Run? Fight? Freeze? It was dark all around, and for a moment Thumper couldn't remember where he was.

    Then he heard Quiver yelling over the deafening, awful noise, "Darin, what is that?!" Quiver turned his small, bedside reading light on.

    Reality flooded back. With his heart still pounding after the initial scare, Darin rolled out of bed and headed toward what sounded like the source of the alarm, desperate to turn it off. The sheer volume was killing his ears. To his surprise, the horrible sound was coming from his computer console.

    Darin logged into his console in record time, and after another agonizing minute he located the offending program and shut it off. Silence prevailed. Darin studied the culprit for a short time: somehow the computer program that was used to send gentle audio reminders about meetings and deadlines had been set to blare that racket at-- Darin checked his bedside chrono, not certain he wanted to know the answer-- 0241 hours. No, that was knowledge he'd rather not have.

    The problem solved, Darin turned around to go back to bed; he was blocked, however, by Quiver, who had been standing directly behind him and who did not look happy at being woken up in that fashion at that hour. "What the hell was that?" Quiver demanded.

    "I don't know. My reminder program did that for some reason."

    "How could that happen?"

    "I don't know, Quiver," Darin repeated. He prayed Quiver would let it go for now so he could get back to sleep. He was so tired from that triple patrol earlier and everything that had happened before it. "Either someone logged into my computer and set it up manually, which I find highly unlikely, or whatever glitch corrupted my reports also affected this."

    "Strine blink, rookie, why is every computer on this ship out to get you?!"

    "I don't know," Darin said once again. "Look, I'm tired. I'll figure i--"

    The alarm blasted through the darkened room again, making both pilots jump. "Didn't you turn that program off?!" Quiver said loudly once he recovered, putting his hands over his ears.

    "Of course I turned it off! I don't know what's wrong with it!" Darin called back. He turned back to his console, but now he discovered that the console had locked itself down while the alarm program was still running. It wasn't supposed to do that, but Darin had given up trying to figure out the computer's logic.

    He quickly typed in his authorization code and password, but instead of allowing him to log in, the computer screen greeted him with a simple message: "Your password has now been changed. Shutting down." The screen went blank, and the alarm continued.

    "What?!"

    Darin tried to log in again, but he couldn't call up the screen. Both the computer and the alarm program remained inaccessible. At this point Darin opted for the brute force method: he punched the computer's on/off button, harder than was necessary. The room was once again plunged into tranquility as the whirring of the console faded into silence.

    "That does it," Quiver said. "Comm Maptoo. Have him come over and look at it."

    "In the morning."

    "
     
  20. Danaan

    Danaan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Well, it's a good thing they're onto that little astromech, but somehow, I have a feeling things won't be that easy...
     
  21. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Muahahah, the busted alarm scene was freakin heelarious. I can only sympathize with Darin while laughing at him where hopefully he can't see me. I think we've all had that nightmare before where the alarm just won't go off...and I think it's been more than once that I've dreamed about tossing the thing right out the window. Of course, Darin can't chuck the whole computer system out the airlock, but I bet he wishes he could.

    I'm just hoping this is all a bit of mostly harmless fun on Ruby's part. Hope she hasn't really gone all psychodroid on them.

    Keep up the awesome work! :)
     
  22. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Danaan: Things are rarely that easy, and we'll see the beginnings of why in this update. ;) Thanks for reading!

    Peri: No worries, I simply told Darin you were laughing with him, not at him. He's gullible. :p This new post should help with the question of whether or not Ruby is a droid prankster. Thanks for reading!

    ---

    Here's the rest of the chapter. Next week's chapter might be a bit on the long side. Thanks for reading, everyone!

    --------

    *****

    The one time Darin wished Quiver's laziness would kick in was the one time it didn't.

    Darin slouched against the wall and yawned. The third shift foot traffic in the corridor was lighter than during other shifts, but every so often a crewmember or two would walk by. Most had learned to ignore the strange behaviors and antics exhibited by the pilots on this deck.

    Beside Darin, Quiver pressed the door chime to CC's quarters again. "Come on, CC, open up," Quiver called.

    The door finally opened. "About time," Quiver said with a snort.

    From the doorway, CC glared at him, or as much of a glare as she could muster while squinting into the bright corridor. She was wearing an old sweatsuit that was grey and dark green with a logo on it that Darin didn't recognize, and her pet Hue lay curled up on top of her head. Darin doubted he would have been able to distinguish between the small, four-footed, black-furred avian and CC's black hair if Hue's fur and wings didn't also have shimmering, multicolored highlights.

    Hue squeaked in sleepy protest at the unwelcome interruption, and CC muttered, "That's right, Huey. Tell this big mean pilot that it's almost 0330, and that he'd better have a damn good reason for waking us up."

    "Oh, he does," answered Quiver, not fazed one bit. "Your mean little droid is behind all the glitches and computer problems that Darin's been having, and it's made our night quite miserable. You have to make it stop."

    "That's all?" CC asked incredulously. "And you couldn't have waited a few hours? If Ruby's really the problem then I'm sorry, but blast it, Quiver, it's too early for this. I'll deal with it in the morning. The real morning." She stepped back and reached for the door controls, but Quiver put his hand on the inside of the door frame to prevent the door from closing.

    "No, you'll deal with it now," Quiver said stubbornly.

    "Oh, you are so on my list. Why does tonight have to be the one time you dragged your lazy butt out of bed to come bother me instead of putting it off and going back to sleep like you do with everything else?" CC grumbled.

    "Because I don't think I'll be able to go back to sleep tonight," Quiver replied. "We've been up for almost an hour now because of what your droid is doing. How can I think it won't start up again as soon as we go back in there unless you do something about it?"

    CC gently lifted Hue off her head and set him on the shelving unit by the door, then she stepped into the corridor, and Quiver allowed the door to close behind her. She turned to fully face him, and the gentleness that had been evident in her handling of her pet was completely absent from her voice. "Okay, I'll play along for one minute. So you're telling me that, despite all your self-proclaimed intelligence, you're completely powerless to stop an R2 from waking you up tonight, and it's imperative that I be the one to do it because I'm the only one who can?"

    Quiver actually smiled. "Hey, fine, if you're giving me permission then I'll go memory-wipe that crazy droid of yours right now. Problem solved!"

    "Don't you dare touch Ruby, or Force help me you will regret it dearly," CC shot back in a low voice. Unnerved, Darin shifted his weight; while he'd heard CC and Quiver threaten each other in pure fun and mock annoyance countless times already, this was the first threat he sensed was real. Even Quiver must have pi
     
  23. Danaan

    Danaan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Wow! Talk about feisty droid! This will not end well...[face_beatup]

    And I loved the "Sparks" touch on the protocol droid!
     
  24. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Oooohhh poor Darin. He was doing so well there. Now he's really in trouble. I never knew how vindictive a droid could be! Ruby's pure unadulterated EVIL! And, well, maybe a little bit justified. A little. <shakes head> How the hell is the rookie gonna fix this?!

    Fantastic post, you made me feel each characters point of view and I was beginning to get stressed from all their bickering. Stupendous job with this one!

    I want MO!
     
  25. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Danaan: Feisty is a good word. ;) And thanks-- Sparks was fun to play around with and start to develop even though he didn't get much "screen time" here. Thanks for reading!

    Peri: Aww, but poor li'l Ruby is merely defending himself against the aggressor! [face_worried] :p j/k Yeah, Darin's in a bit of trouble now. I love it when characters make things worse for themselves, LOL. Thanks for replying!

    ---

    This is, I think, the longest update I've ever posted. I was going to split it, but I couldn't find any split points that balanced the length of the parts well. So instead of doing that, here's the chapter in its entirety. Thanks for reading, everyone!

    --------

    Chapter Seven


    Finally, something had gone right.

    Despite everything that had happened overnight, Darin almost felt like smiling while he climbed out of the sim along with most of the other pilots at the conclusion of the latest iteration of their mission preparation. He hadn't died. He hadn't caused the death of any allies. He'd stayed with Quiver a lot better and for the entire time. He'd gotten a kill. And he certainly hadn't fired his weapons anywhere in the vicinity of CC and Ruby.

    Ironically, that had been his only big mistake during the sim run.

    "Okay, rookie, here's the deal," Quiver said mildly as he walked up to Darin's simulator. Darin finished disconnecting Botch from it and turned to his wingman. "Remember at the beginning of this sim when we were going after those TIEs that were on CC and Maptoo? In the future, you can't freeze up like you did and not shoot. If we don't pick the Imps off at times like that, CC and Maptoo could have gotten killed. I even told you that this time, so you can't say you didn't know better."

    Darin made a face and sighed. "I know." He just couldn't win. Firing weapons near CC's fighter endangered her, and not firing weapons near it endangered her.

    "So what was the problem then?"

    Darin raised a tired eyebrow. "With my luck, I would have accidentally missed the TIE and made Ruby think I was aiming for him and CC again. The last thing I need now is for him to go completely ballistic on me."

    Quiver nonchalantly stepped beside Darin, and the next thing Darin knew, he was in a docile headlock. Startled, Darin reflexively struggled to pull away, but Quiver held on just tightly enough to keep him in place. "Thumper, listen," Quiver said in a conversational yet pointed tone. "Do not let that psychotic little droid make you develop a dangerous habit like that. You do not want to lie in bed at night thinking that you let a friend die because you were intimidated by an astromech. If it'll prevent all that and possibly save someone, I have no qualms about reporting Ruby's behavior to Mack this very instant."

    Darin was glad Quiver couldn't see his cringe. "I know, I know. But don't-- Quiver, will you please let me go?" Quiver obliged, and Darin thankfully straightened up. "Don't tell Mack. It won't happen again. I swear." He meant it, but it was only one of the many things he was dealing with in trying to overcome and learn from the mistakes he'd made in that bad sim run two days ago. Like he'd told Mackin then, he was attempting to remain more aware of the entire situation around him, but that seemed to come at the cost of losing focus on his primary activity, whether that was flying with Quiver, tracking a target, defending a squadmate or going evasive. But when he focused on only one of those things, he lost the bigger picture. Thumper couldn't find a good balance point. Trying to do so in this sim had been mentally exhausting.

    "All right. As someone whose life may literally depend on that answer, I'm going to hold you to that," Quiver replied. Darin's internal pressure kicked up a notch at hearing those words and realizing the truth and gravity of them.

    Quiver led a now-silent Darin around the other milling pilots toward CC's simulator, where she was cro
     
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