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Before - Legends Recognition (Horror, OC) 3,000 years pre-TPM, Updated 10/14

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Exeter, Dec 11, 2005.

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  1. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Title: Recognition
    Author: Exeter
    Timeframe: 850 years after events of KOTOR 2, 3000+ years before The Phantom Menace
    Summary: After an innocent day at the beach with friends, two mercenaries are plunged into a terrifying nightmare that will challenge what they think they know about the universe.

    This story was originally inspired by stormqueen874.

    ------------------------------------------------
    Recognition


    Looking back, it seems impossible that I didn?t see it coming sooner. Hindsight is always optic-implant quality, I suppose. I like to think that, given the situation, you or anyone else would have acted in a similar nature as I did. How could anyone not? What line of thought could prepare any thinking being for what I experienced? How could anyone have seen this coming?

    They say that there?s one time in your life when everything seems just right. You?ve got a steady job, you?re in the best shape of your life, and for once there?s nothing to worry about but getting a bad sunburn and which speeder model to buy. I guess you could say that?s the point I was at in my life.

    At the time, I was working escort duty on a backwater planet known as Delta Psamtik. It wasn?t much of a planet, just two archipelagos in a worldwide sapphire ocean. But I?ve been to a lot of places, and Psamtik was right up there in terms of beauty. Some of the locals that live down by the sea call it Hejjra-da, or Paradise. I?m inclined to agree. The skies are almost always clear, the temperature warm but accompanied by a cool breeze, the sands and surf?and the women, let me tell you, are just incredible.

    It?s just one of those perfect places. I was basically there on vacation, though I was pulling nights providing security for a few of the island?s wealthy land owners. As a neutral world, Psamtik hadn?t yet undergone a sweeping caste reform or political restructuring that inevitably followed admittance into a galactic government the size of the Republic. It?s just as well, because authority is bad for my business. You?d probably warn your kids about me by calling me a mercenary.

    In my youth, that was a title of honor. That?s what happens when you grow up in a place that was once a part of the Mandalorian war empire a thousand years ago. Some things never change. Nowadays, merc is just another four-letter word. But that?s beside the point.

    As I said, my presence on Psamtik was more of a waterfront retreat than a career move. I?d just finished six tours with a starship captain by the name of Bandax Rieekan and was contemplating a nice relaxing jaunt to my brother?s place on Ruuia when I came across a home-for-hire listing on the employment holochannel. Five months work on Psamtik for ?enterprising security specialists? ? I liked the sound of that ? and you?d end up with wages and your own piece of property. I figured I could turn the trip into a vacation with fringe benefits: rake in some credits, lounge around on a dream planet, and get a beach house out of the deal while I was at it.

    I was tempted to get on my knees and thank the gods I don?t believe in for the opportunity.

    Now, looking back on what that time on Psamtik brought me, I really wish I?d never even seen that job listing.

    It all started one particularly hot day, about three months into the long Psamtiki summer.
    -------------

    I was diving with Markos Sunrunner a few hundred meters off the coast that afternoon. We both ran protection for a local arms dealer with a crew of mercs from just about every port world you can think of. We?d met over a few drinks one night after work and had tipped them back together ever since. He was the kind of guy you wanted to have your back and at your side all at once.

    We had a group of women diving with us, among them my latest no-future fling, Evadné. She had a nice body, but she?d never make it on the cover of Galactic Illustrated. Not that I?m anything to write home about, either. I?m a soldier-for-hire, not a holo-mod
     
  2. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Community Squirrel Whisperer star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2000
    This is a fanscinating start. Seems all so ideal and yet what is with that creature? I have to know where this is going now. May I ask for PM updates?
     
  3. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2005
    Coolness, we're back to Psamtik!

    Great start. I love spooky water related nastiness.

     
  4. Bale

    Bale Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 9, 2005
    Another masterpiece underway, Exeter.

    For some reason the line, "There's always a bigger fish," comes to mind. And I can't help but get the feeling that this "paradise" will soon turn into a living hell. [face_worried]
     
  5. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2004
    I can't WAIT to see where this one goes! =D=
     
  6. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Nowadays, merc is just another four-letter word.

    [face_laugh] Loved that. And the description of the laaymahi and the predator was pretty disturbing. But I like creepy. :D

    Great character you've got. Please PM me when you update!
     
  7. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Leona - This is a fanscinating start. Seems all so ideal and yet what is with that creature? I have to know where this is going now.

    Yeah, Psamtik is a fun 'ol planet, just waiting to be spoiled. It's because I'm secretly cruel, I think. Thanks for checking it out and I'm glad you're interested!

    May I ask for PM updates?

    Absolutely not :p

    Sure, you got it.

    oqi - I learned from the best and decided to start worldbuilding and linking my stories together a bit.

    Spooky water-related nastiness isn't the half of it! I appreciate the comments and hope you stick around.

    Bale - You know, it's funny you should say that, since the scene from TPM in the depths of Naboo came to mind as I was writing that part.

    As for paradises turning to living hell, what can I say - you know me too well. I'm glad you caught this one.

    VaderLVR - Wait no more :D

    Jade - If you like creepy than hopefully you'll enjoy where this goes. Consider yourself PM'd. And thanks for reading!

     
  8. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Chapter 2
    -----------------

    Work was as uneventful as always that night; my client sold his weapons to so many people for prices so reasonable he had less able-bodied enemies than a rancor at feeding hour. After my shift came to an end, I took a seat at the bar and had a couple of potent kelp beers. I traded a few husky, flirtatious lines with the young bartender ? not Evadné ? even though I knew I shouldn?t. I don?t know why I thought I shouldn?t, though?my relationship with her, if it can be called that, was just a hollow shell. She was a pretty girl and liked to be reminded of it, and I had no problem being the one to do it.

    But a relationship? Not really. More of a steamy, short-lived vacation romance broken by occasional conversational hangovers. I?ve found things work better that way, when you talk as little as possible with your partner. Interestingly enough, the same is true when you?re hired to neutralize a target.

    Go figure.

    Anyway, I decided I?d walk back along the beach to my cottage rather than drive. The exercise never could hurt and I enjoyed the soothing feeling of wet sand and surf over my toes. I headed out and locked up my speeder, then began the oceanside trek. It was the dark of night, though Psamtik?s twin moons threw enough light my way to get around. My cottage was about three kilometers from the retrofitted warehouse I worked in. I got halfway there when I came across him.

    Markos was standing knee-deep in the surf like a duranium statue, staring expressionlessly into the sea. After our shift I?d invited him to have a few drinks and play a game or two of pazaak, but he?d been pretty tired and said he was heading home. Yet here he was, more than a kilometer from his own cottage.

    And it suddenly occurred to me what he was looking at.

    The grey-fleshed thing was in the same position as it had been that afternoon, curled up and appearing lifeless. I looked at Markos and felt a chill, despite the comfortably-warm temperature. His face was deathly pale and his eyes were empty pools, reflecting nothing but a great void. The sight haunted me to the core, and let me tell you, it takes quite a bit to shake up a merc. But this?

    Just seeing Markos standing stiffly out there in the water frelling messed me up. I knew him. He was as tough as vibroblades. There had been a time when a group of thugs tried an armed robbery of our client?s sizeable weapons inventory ? you know, you really got to ask yourself what they were thinking. In between shots of Jawa Juice, did one of them grin and turn to the others and say, ?Hey Porkins, let?s go rob a gun merchant!?? I can think of easier ways to off yourself that don?t involve mass plasma pulverization.

    But anyway, through sheer dumb luck they managed to catch us on shift rotation ? Markos and I were about to be relieved of duty and in one of my less brilliant moments, I had left my weapon belt out of reach in the break room. So these four Wookiee-sniffers come striding into the place, blaster carbines drawn and ready. And would you believe it, Markos barely looks up as they storm in, finishes his drink, then calmly gets up and turns to look at them. He appraises each of them slowly, sizing them up, and then says ? I?m not making this up ? ?This should be fun.?

    And he yawns. Stretches. Then he idly puts his hand on his blaster and tells them in this cold as ice voice, ?I?ll let you go first.? And I?ll be trapped in a Hutt?s underarm if these dirt-faced jockeys didn?t look at each other uneasily, drop their weapons, and flee ? just because of the look on Markos? face.

    So you?ll understand me when I say this scared the midichlorians out of me. That vacant, dull look in his eye, the stiff posture knee-deep in the surf?

    It was freaking me out.

    I rushed out into the sea and grabbed him by the shoulders.

    ?What in the hells are you doing, Markos? Don?t you think it?s a bit too late for seafood??

    Markos didn?t look at me for a while. I gave him a nice shake and he fin
     
  9. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2005
    Ha! I love this!!!
    Fear not, I'm in for the long haul.

    Great premise!! =D= I'm so happy to see more horror on the board it makes me want to give you a hug.
    Spooky captivating creature, missing time, erratic violent behavior--some of my favorite things.

    You did a really nice job providing a touch of back story for Markos to solidify his 'tough guy' characterization.
    Additionally, I like the first person POV that you're using here. The author has a comfortable narrative voice.
    One of the nice little tricks about linked galaxies within the galaxy is that you don't have to spend as much time on the setting as your readers are learning and relearning as they go, that way you can focus on other story elements or highlight different cultural aspects of the worldbuilding--at least that's what I tell myself ;)

    This is really off to an excellent start.

    Great work.
     
  10. Chaos_Clone

    Chaos_Clone Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    wow a freaky mind controling jelly fish
    i like it:D
    gd first 2 chapters i really like creepyness of this story and were it might b going[face_thinking]

    gd story well done=D=
     
  11. Kudzu

    Kudzu Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Great start!

    ...But are you going to finish The Golden Siege? [face_worried]
     
  12. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    [face_laugh] Love these little tidbits. They give Kaeso that much more life.

    Really? Let's hear them! [face_laugh] I liked seeing the name Porkins mentioned. :p

    Quoted all of those because they're the lines that really make Kaeso's voice speak out. For me, the entire tone of the story is set in thoughts like those. Because you could do creepy like Edgar Allen Poe, but it would be a completely different experience. If that makes sense. :p

    Ewww! Hypnotic zombiefying creature. You were right, I really am enjoying where this is going. :D By the way, liked the PM. [face_laugh]
     
  13. Bale

    Bale Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 9, 2005
    The 1st person POV continues to brilliantly add to this story's suspense.

    you know, you really got to ask yourself what they were thinking. In between shots of Jawa Juice, did one of them grin and turn to the others and say, ?Hey Porkins, let?s go rob a gun merchant!?? I can think of easier ways to off yourself that don?t involve mass plasma pulverization.

    You just about had me in tears laughing at that. [face_laugh] [face_laugh]

    Great work, Ex.
     
  14. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    oqi - Fear not, I'm in for the long haul.

    Glad to hear it - it's always great to read your comments.

    Great premise!! I'm so happy to see more horror on the board it makes me want to give you a hug.

    You're telling me...an underappreciated genre, apparently. Burn! Burn! Burn! was a godsend.

    Spooky captivating creature, missing time, erratic violent behavior--some of my favorite things.

    [face_laugh] Whether in stories or in life, right?

    You did a really nice job providing a touch of back story for Markos to solidify his 'tough guy' characterization.

    Thanks, I definitely tried to get that across. I wanted readers to realize this isn't some pushover, it's a hardened mercenary. They both are.

    Additionally, I like the first person POV that you're using here. The author has a comfortable narrative voice.

    It's something I worry about each chapter, since I haven't done a lot of first person work before. It's a relief to know that the style isn't as reprehensible as I feared :p

    One of the nice little tricks about linked galaxies within the galaxy is that you don't have to spend as much time on the setting as your readers are learning and relearning as they go, that way you can focus on other story elements or highlight different cultural aspects of the worldbuilding--at least that's what I tell myself

    Definitely. I've got all kinds of ideas in mind for linking upcoming stories with each other.

    Thanks an eleventybillion for reading!

    Chaos_Clone - I appreciate your comments. Creepy is the name of the story (err...wait) and would like to know where it is going as well [face_thinking] :p

    Kudzu - Thanks for checking this out, man. I owe you +50 chapter reviews on AIDW and the 100,000 vignettes you've written over the last month or so.

    I'm going to finish Golden Siege, I just needed to take a break from it for a bit. I'm planning on getting moving again pretty soon.

    Jade - Love these little tidbits. They give Kaeso that much more life.

    Awesome, that's what I aimed for.

    Really? Let's hear them!

    Well, this one time at space camp... :p

    I liked seeing the name Porkins mentioned.

    Then you'll like the next chapter.

    Quoted all of those because they're the lines that really make Kaeso's voice speak out. For me, the entire tone of the story is set in thoughts like those. Because you could do creepy like Edgar Allen Poe, but it would be a completely different experience. If that makes sense.

    What are you going on about? :rolleyes: :p

    No, I know exactly what you mean. I tried to approach the story from the perspective of a guy who operates on what he can see and doesn't buy into mysticism or things of that sort. He's laid back, but in an instant he can turn serious and aware. Then something comes along and shatters that worldview, and so it's a bit of indignation mixed with humor mixed with fear. If that makes sense.

    Ewww! Hypnotic zombiefying creature.

    I bet you can count on your fingers the number of times you've said that in your lifetime.




    4, right? [face_plain]

    Thanks for reading!

    Bale - [face_laugh] Well, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. As always its good to have you as a reader.
     
  15. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Xeks321 - I'm glad you're interested in this one. As for the new chapter, I apologize...I was having some trouble with the boards and couldn't get it posted. I'll update it now, though.

    It's good to have you aboard.
     
  16. Xeks321

    Xeks321 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 22, 2005
    As I was reading the first two chapters, I was really getting into. The creature has peeked my interest and I am curious as to what it is. The characters here are starting to develop, which is always a good thing, and we learn more about them each chapter. Kaeso is one of those characters you can relate to. That is always a plus. Anyhow, I start reading the first two chapters and I am eagerly scrolling down for the next chapter and I find that....it is not there. I was amazed at first when I was actually expecting the next chapter to be up and I didn't see it. This is one I definitely want to follow. Way to break the mold. Keep it coming.

    Xeks
     
  17. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Happy Holidays, folks.

    Chapter 3
    ------------------

    The next day went by without a hitch until I got in to work.

    ?Landrith! What the kriff is wrong with you?! Where have you been? We got three shipments coming in five minutes!?

    That was my boss. Kruge Merr-Kessex was crew chief for our group of muscle, a great lumbering man who was rumored to have fought in the Wookiee Uprising and been present for the Great Slave Riots fifteen years after that. You didn?t want to be on his bad side.

    Didn?t look like I was going to avoid that.

    ?What did I do this time, sir?? I asked, honestly in the dark about my supposed infraction.

    ?What did you??? Kruge repeated incredulously, his face turning purple. ?You?re two hours late!?

    The words struck me like a thunderclap and its accompanying bolt of lightning.

    I gave a tinny laugh, still trying to gather my breath. ?What??

    ?I know you offworlders think you can straggle in at your leisure, because I?m an offworlder. But if you don?t start ??

    ?Look,? I interjected, giving him a look, ?you feeling all right, Kruge? I don?t mean to be rude, but I think you should lay off the drinks a bit and take another look at the time.?

    That may seem a bit forward for a conversation with your boss, but Kruge was a mercenary just like us. He drank with us after work, he partied with us on our off days, and he stuck up for us when our clients got irate over some petty thing.

    ?You?re stuck on stupid, Kaeso. You were supposed to be in at eighteen, and its 2000 hours. See, look. Read it. Two Zero Zero Zero,? he snapped.

    I looked at the wall timepiece with mild surprise. Sure enough, it said 2000. So what, I thought. A busted clock. Not the first time in the history of the galaxy. I scoffed and looked at my chronometer.

    And gasped.

    Words can?t describe the feeling that came over me. It was like some freakish mix of horror, disorientation, outright bewilderment, and a whole lot of other things all slammed together.

    My chronometer also read 2000.

    ??happens again, I?m going to have to let you go. There?s just no room for this, Kaeso. I?ll work with you if you work with me, but if you?re going to walk all over me??

    I was barely listening. His comments went in and out of the background. This couldn?t be possible. I went right to work after I had finished watching the holo-film (a good one, too; you never know what you?re going to get from the bargain counter, but it was a pretty interesting story of a disenfranchised Jedi and his padawan who he?d tried to manipulate into giving him this information he wanted ? it was called Monsters, if you ever have a chance to check it out). That had been at 1730, plenty of time to get to work. In fact, I fully expected to have some time to socialize in the break room before my shift started.

    What is going on?!

    ??normally wouldn?t be such a problem but Markos called in sick and we?re underhanded enough as it is??

    I froze.

    ?Markos is sick?? I asked, suddenly feeling cold, very cold.

    ?Eh? Oh, yeah, he said he?d been retchin? pretty bad, didn?t think he could make it in. Normally I?d tell him to get his ugly arse in here anyway, but he really didn?t sound too good,? Kruge recalled.

    I knew how he felt. I wasn?t feeling too good, either. Two hours? How could I simply have a two hour blank spot in my mind? I specifically remembered jumping into my speeder and heading to work. In my memory, there was no gap. I left for work and arrived at work, just like I always did.

    Where could I have gone in that time period?

    In the recesses of my mind, where I refused to acknowledge them, ideas were beginning to jump around.

    I was afraid I did know where I could have gone.
     
  18. Xeks321

    Xeks321 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 22, 2005
    I love the mix of humor in this. The first POV is really beginning to show and is working out very well. The third chapter was well worth the wait. So many different ideas are coming to mind about what is going on. I can't wait to see how it turns out. Keep it up Exeter.

    Xeks
     
  19. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Community Squirrel Whisperer star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2000
    Missed the post form 12/16. How very creepy. While it seems the creature is harmless enough, it deos appear to have some sort of hypnotic influence even Landrith can't shake.


    Uh oh, Markos calling in ill and now Landrith missing a 2 hour chunk of time? We know where his friend might very well be odnt' we?

    This is a very well done fic Exeter. Gives me a feel of the old Outer Limits or Tales From the Darkside.
     
  20. Chaos_Clone

    Chaos_Clone Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    very gd post=D=


    markos sick :eek: oooooooooooo thats not gd
    an after effect of the freaky jelly fish thing maybe?

    im enjoying this story very much keep it coming:D
     
  21. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    You?re stuck on stupid, Kaeso.

    [face_laugh] That's a good one - I need to start using it.

    Kaeso's experiencing missing time? Sounds like encounters with UFOs from the X-Files! I was honestly expecting Kaeso's chrono to give a different time, so that he'd wonder if everyone but him was crazy. And yet I got a nice surprise - he's going crazy, too. :p Just hope he doesn't end up in Marko's condition...

    I don't know what I like better, this story or your update PMs. :p
     
  22. Kudzu

    Kudzu Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Yikes...creepy, creepy. Nice update; short, though.
     
  23. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2005
    Missing time... Classic creepy old horror movie feel!!!
    I love this story.
    I keep envisioning it in black and white.


    This is great fun.

    =D=
     
  24. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Xeks - Thanks for the comment. Like I mentioned earlier, when drafting the character of Kaeso, I wanted to amplify the fear of the story by presenting it from the perspective of this hardcore mercenary who believes in tangible realities - to him this is as incomprehensible as it is terrifying. I think that makes it all the more eerie, and hopefully, entertaining. I'm also glad you're formulating ideas about the direction and the mystery itself.

    Leona - Yes we do know where's he been :D

    Or is that a [face_hypnotized]

    I think we'll split the difference and go with a [face_devil]

    Glad you're enjoying it. I won't deny that watching Tales from the Darkside and similar movies/books didn't inspire this story. I've always been interested in the horror genre.

    Chaos_Clone - You'll soon find that Markos is sick all right, but not exactly in the way the boss assumed. An after affect, indeed!

    I appreciate the generous remarks.

    Jade - That's a good one - I need to start using it.

    [face_laugh] You should. There are so many openings every day in life where it works perfectly.



    Kaeso's experiencing missing time? Sounds like encounters with UFOs from the X-Files!

    Crap! Well, there goes the story, folks. Guess there's no point in denying it...this is all the work of the Cigarette Smoking Man [face_plain]


    :p

    I'm glad you were pleasantly surprised to find Kaeso crazy - I'm sure there's something sadistic about that, but I'm no judge - after all, I wrote the thing [face_laugh]

    As for Markos' "condition", you don't know the half of it. Stay tuned.

    I don't know what I like better, this story or your update PMs.

    It's like two updates in one! Or something.

    oqi - I love creepy old horror movies. I'm happy that you're enjoying yourself! I just hope it lives up to your expectations.

     
  25. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Chapter 4

    After work I decided to go check on Markos, still deeply disturbed by my apparent blackout earlier. I was concerned that Markos might be having similar episodes ? maybe from something we ate, I desperately wanted to believe ? and so I headed out to his oceanside cottage.

    I arrived and gave a quick rap on his door. These beachfront houses, in the vein of Psamtiki architecture, were naturalistic in design and had little in the way of electronic or technological additions, such as a holo-comm system for visitors to make their presence known. There was no answer, so I knocked harder. The door slid open slowly at the force of my movement.

    Now more than a bit worried, I entered the cottage slowly and looked around, calling his name and searching around for sign of my friend. The house was completely silent ? no automated processes in the kitchen, no HoloNet broadcasts, nothing. It lent an eerie effect that was only magnified by the events earlier that night.

    Then I heard it.

    Screaming, gibbering. From below my feet. I was shocked into paralysis by it, just standing motionless listening to the caterwaul. Finally, I forced myself to move and realized the noise must be coming from the dwelling?s cellar. I found the staircase easily ? the cottage was an exact copy of my own ? and raced down.

    The sight was maddening.

    Markos was writhing around on the stone floor, smashing his body into the permacrete violently. His hands were locked together with binders, as were his legs. His hair, greasy and unkempt, was thrown over his face and it gave him the appearance of a diseased animal.

    But most frightening were the syllables he was spewing out of his mouth, each word dripping with acid. They were unlike anything I?d ever heard before. The words themselves didn?t even sound like something a man could utter, and I know nine languages. They were foul and impure, of that I was sure. The way they oozed as he spoke them, yelled them?

    They sounded other-wordly?not even of this galaxy.

    The only one I could recall after the fact was ? and I?m sure I?m butchering it, because no sentient should be able to say it right ? Nhssthhp. Yes, that?s right. Imagine a terrifying hissing sound with layers upon layers of dark meaning, and that?s about what it sounds like. Except there?s no way to imagine what I heard, or what I saw.

    I charged over to his flailing form and gripped him, yelling and shouting and shaking, trying anything to get through to him. Then, abruptly, he collapsed back to the cold floor and just lay there as if in a wide-eyed coma. He didn?t respond to anything I said. After a cursory search over the cellar, I found the control circuit to the binders and freed him. Wary of any sudden movement, I hauled Markos up and began to move him out of the cellar.

    By this point, I was running on autopilot. Things were sort of a blur because I was so far outside my realm. I?m paid to kill, guard, and prevent others from doing the same. I wasn?t trained for blown durasteel gaskets, fried neural circuitry, or plastoid-padded rooms. It looked like Markos had just purchased himself a one-way ticket directly to the asylum; it remained to be seen if I would be joining him as a bunk mate.

    So like the two-tone droid dimwits that have grown so popular in our wonderful galaxy, I fell back on some kind of mechanical subroutine to get me through what needed to be done. If you?ve ever been in a fight ? a real fight, not those lame cantina brawls that turn into something closer to a Selkath mating ritual, flopping fins and all ? you know exactly what I mean. You don?t perceive every blow as if it?s a million credits, but instead each maneuver is blurred together into an instinctual holo-chess game where both combatants are not just fighting each other but trading repertoires. The most traditional thinking you do is on the level of ?Ow! That hurt, you stench-ridden Di?kut!?, ?Fierfek! That really hurt, scumsurfer!?, ?Ow! Damn! Stop that! Listen here
     
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