Saga - PT "The Clones of Kamino" (OCs, short story, COMPLETED)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Kurisan, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Summary: CW short story, original characters with some cameos from familiar faces. Action/adventure/mystery.
    The Clones of Kamino
    Chapter 1
    RAIN LASHED THE CANOPY of Maya Qwan’s Delta-7 starship. The young Padawan guided the wedge-shaped fighter through the lightning storm, searching for her target. Then, across the churning oceans she spotted it: Tipoca City, capital of Kamino.

    A complex of domes and spires ascended from the grey tumult, reposing upon mighty columns that thrust deep into the seabed below. Maya took in its magnificence; over a hundred square kilometres of gracefully curving architecture, a bastion of tranquility amid the violent environment.

    She zeroed in to the appointed landing platform, which jutted from the edge of one of the larger domes, and extended her craft’s landing legs. R4-T0 tweeted from his astromech’s socket set beside her cockpit, confirming the landing cycle completion.

    Maya popped her canopy and a deluge of rain immediately soaked the smart maroon tunic she had chosen for the meeting with official dignitary. She scampered across to the oval portal that opened, inviting her into the glowing white interior.

    “Come on, Tio!” She waved and the green-and-white droid detached from his socket then wheeled in behind her. Inside, a statuesque alien greeted them in a smooth, androgynous voice.

    “Greetings. I am Halle Burtoni, Senator of Kamino in the Galactic Republic. Thank you for coming at such short notice.”

    Halle’s ovoid head swayed upon a long, willowy neck as she gestured Maya to follow her down the wide, spotless corridor. The Aeien silk of Maya’s short dress soon dried as she trotted to keep up with the Kaminoan’s long strides.

    “I am Maya Qwan, Senator.”

    Halle blinked large obsidian eyes that sparkled like starfields.

    “I trust that you have been briefed on the situation, Maya.”

    “Yes, Senator. Master Yoda informed me you have had an intruder – into your genetic control centre.”

    “The city is on high alert. We have teams checking the laboratory computers now to see what has been taken or changed. We still have not found the intruder.”

    Maya cast her gaze about. The curved corridor was deserted, and clinically clean. If the whole of Tipoca City was like this, she couldn’t imagine anyone hiding here.

    “This is your first time to Kamino, Maya?” Halle’s white face turned to her.

    Maya nodded, “My first time to the surface. I have trained in the orbital arenas.”

    “I see. You should be aware then, that while no-one actually lives here, Tipoca is the workplace of millions of Kaminoans, either directly on our cloning programmes or associated administrations.”

    “Where do they all go after work?”

    “We reside in satellite cities situated around the capital. We have set up security on all entrances to the city and are appealing for information about the intruder. Our security systems are extremely advanced: I think perhaps we will find this intruder before you do.”

    And there it is. Master Yoda had warned Maya about the Kaminoans’ arrogance. Delicate diplomacy this mission will require, young Padawan. The words echoed in her mind. She brushed off Halle’s implication of her redundancy.

    “What do we know about the intruder so far, Senator?”

    “A vague description from the technician that sighted him: A humanoid in dark armour.”

    A him. A humanoid. Dark armour. Not much to go on.

    “I would very much like to meet this technician.”

    “Of course. She is in the GCC laboratory. Please follow me.”

    Halle escorted Maya along the corridor. Through the transparent top half of the passage Maya saw bright halls rising to reach the domed ceilings high above. Networks of oval tunnels interweaved the lofty spaces.

    “I wondered,” said Maya as they walked, “how the intruder got here, and perhaps how he made his escape. You have checked records of flights, incoming and outgoing, against sensor logs?”

    “Of course,” said Halle. Maya could not read the tone of voice. “All flights check out – and all personnel have been verified through our advanced genetic recognition systems.”

    Something has got past their system, then, Maya thought but did not say. They rounded a corner and the tunnel’s clear upper half looked out upon another hall. A muffled explosion shook the transparisteel and a great burst of flame blossomed…

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  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Hooray, new Kuri story! :D Off to a suspenseful and engaging start, as usual—who could this mysterious human "him" in dark armor be who's been messing about in the genetic control center? (And I wonder if it's someone we may have seen before in your earlier Maya Qwan story?) If whoever it was was recognized by the security system, I almost wonder if someone from inside has gone bad and turned to subterfuge. [face_thinking]

    And, as usual, a rip-roaring cliffhanger! :eek: But maybe this explosion means the answers are closer than Maya or anyone else predicted? We shall see.

    Is what you say about Tipoca and its satellite cities your own creation, or something from the official lore? Because if the former, well, you know which thread I'm about to send you to. :D

    Looking forward to more! :)
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  3. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman Hi and thanks for looking in! As I would expect from a fine Gand hunter such as yourself, your deductions are on the right track...:cool:
    Can't remember where exactly I read that about Tipoca, but Wookieepedia seems to back it up.

    Chapter 2
    “WHAT WAS THAT?” Maya instinctively reached for her lightsaber.
    “Do not be alarmed, Maya. This is one of our clone training areas.”
    Darkness shrouded the huge space, in contrast to the previous halls. As her eyes adjusted more details then came to the attention of the novice Jedi. The indoor area resembled a rocky planet’s surface, and armoured troopers bustled about in military formations. Kaminoans monitored the activity from oblique repulsorlift craft that hovered above, watching, calculating. Another explosion lit up the darkness. Streams of azure-blue blaster fire arrowed back and forth.
    Maya peered into the simulated battle-zone, trying to glimpse details of the clone troopers she had heard so much about. A mix of emotions rose: Thrill at finally seeing the warriors that had so quickly earned such a fearsome reputation. Curiosity: Some of her seniors talked of them as little more than organic droids, others referred to them by individual names, just like any other sentient. And trepidation: Master Chodo’s final proclamation during their recent argument returned to her memory.
    The creation of an entire race of beings whose sole purpose is to battle and kill is unnatural and unbalancing to the Living Force. Nothing good will come of this. What will these men do when the war is over?
    “The laboratory is this way,” Halle’s voice intruded into her thoughts. Maya followed her as the corridor circuited around the arena dome. They reached an oval doorway where the senator entered a long code and it irised open. Tio whistled as the little droid caught up with them.
    Maya stepped into a science lab with technical apparatus upon tables, and walls crammed with computer screens. Complex genetic configurations revolved and mutated in simulations on the monitors. Two Kaminoans looked up from their computer stations and blinked large eyes at the newcomers. One addressed Halle.
    “Senator, all files appear intact. There is no record of copying or alteration on the keylogs. However, I noticed two other projects on this station and attempted access. One is denoted Niorde, the other without name. They are security locked so I have no way of entering them. Do you know what these are?”
    “That is strange,” said the senator, then paused thoughtfully. “Maya Qwan, this is Cherta. She is the one who witnessed the intruder. Please feel free to ask her anything.”
    The other Kaminoan ascended from her seat on the far side of the room and acknowledged Maya with a tilting nod.
    “Hello, Cherta. I am Maya Qwan of the Jedi Order.”
    “I am very pleased to meet you, Maya.”
    “It must have been a shock to see the intruder. Can you put your mind back to that day, that morning? When was the sighting, exactly?”
    “Just before seventh hour, when the shift starts. I had just arrived.”
    “OK. Did you eat breakfast before you came?”
    “Of course…”
    “Remember what you ate. Does it have a distinctive smell? Then, how was your journey to work that day?”
    “It was quite clear, but I don’t understand how…”
    “Bear with me. So you’re about to start work. Was it something special, a big project?”
    “We are activating the ARC units now, it is quite complex…”
    “Uh-huh. That sounds tricky. Were you working on it by yourself or with colleagues?”
    “We are all focused on it, Maya. It is a priority right now…”
    “I see. So, you are about to start on this complicated task and there!”
    Maya clapped her hands to surprise the Kaminoan. “You see him. What does he look like?”
    The Padawan reached out with the Force to brush the consciousness of Cherta. Through the technique of resetting the Kaminoan’s memory to that moment through various stimuli, along with a brief mind-touch, she hoped to get a clear image of her quarry, untainted by post-memory prejudicial assumptions.
    “Oh! I see him now, just as he was then,” exclaimed Cherta. “Dark grey armour, a human male by height and weight. Blaster carbine. Ah, I forgot something before, but now I remember a T-shaped visor on the helmet.”
    Through the Force, Maya verified the description in her mind’s eye.
    Halle straightened and said, “A Mandalorian? She describes a Mandalorian, like Jango Fett. But he was killed by a Jedi at the Battle of Geonosis, was he not?”
    “That is how I understand it,” said Maya. “This is quite perplexing. I think if we can find out what this man wanted to steal, a clue to the motive – and then the identity – will follow. I really think I need to see these locked projects…”
    Halle frowned, “I am sorry, Maya. I am Senator of Kamino and must report on all clone projects, but these are unknown to me. It is quite embarrassing…”
    Maya blinked. “Well, then. There is something I wanted to ask you about in the clone training arena. Could you step outside a moment?”
    When the portal had closed behind them again Halle said, “What is it, Maya?”
    “Look, I know security protocols mean you must keep certain projects secret from your workers, but I need to see everything that could be connected to this investigation.”
    Halle spread her palms, “I am sorry, Maya. The security clearance of this project must be over even my head. The only person who can unlock it would be Prime Minister Lama Su.”
    Maya folded her arms. “I have put you in a difficult situation, Senator. I apologise. Then I must speak to President Su immediately.”
    Halle interweaved her long fingers, “I am sorry again, Maya. He is unavailable at the moment and will not return until tonight.”
    “Can I not contact him?”
    “I’m afraid not. He is in sealed negotiations at a satellite city and the storm interferes with holo and comlink. No contact until tonight.”
    Maya huffed and gazed out at the training arena. What do I do now?
    “Perhaps you would like to examine the clone training area, Maya?”
    “I am interested in meeting the clones…”
    “Let me see when it will be safe to enter,” said Halle, before gliding down the corridor. Maya decided it could not hurt while she was waiting for the Prime Minister.
    She thought of something. “Tio? Can you come here?”
    The droid bustled over with a beep. She leaned in close, “Hook up to the network. I’m no good with computers as you know, but rerun that keylog thing, will you?”
    Tio beeped enthusiastically.
    “And… have a look around… anything out of the ordinary that they might not have thought of looking for… I don’t know. They saw him first thing in the morning. He must have known it would be deserted at night. He came in, did what he needed to do, locked it all up again. Then he’s seen. He needs to escape quickly. That’s when mistakes happen.”
    Halle returned so Maya finished with, “Thanks, Tio. I’ll be back soon…”
    Then she followed the lofty alien into a hellzone.

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  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Plot's definitely thickening here. These two mysterious new cloning projects are ver bizarre indeed, and I wonder what it means for one to be named and one not. How in the Galaxy did someone other than Prime Minister Lama Su himself get a security clearance that high? I wonder if Tio's second extra check will come up with something that wasn't noticed before.

    Something about the timing of this whole thing makes me go "hmmm," too. Did the mysterious intruder act exactly when he knew Lama Su would be away? (Or, alternately: is Halle hiding something herself...? Well, I guess I shouldn't jump to that conclusion yet.)

    The mind-touch technique is very cool indeed; kind of a Force-aided "retracing of steps" of the kind we Earthers sometime use to remember things. I am guessing it's original to you? :cool:

    Maya makes an immensely good point when she observes:

    ... an excellent question, and it's kind of a wonder that it doesn't come up more often in either fanfic or profic! What indeed was Sifo-Dyas's plan for that, hmmm?

    As always, looking forward to whatever new insights will be revealed in the next chapter! :)
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  5. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman Thanks again for the feedback. Looks like just you and me on board for this ride LOL (*waves to Ewok Poet* Thanks for liking, too).

    I like how your thought process comes up with exactly the same ideas Maya was having at the time. The memory stimuli thing is another bit of trivia I picked up somewhere, somewhen; the capacity of the brain to remember things is extraordinary, you just need to find the right triggers - sights, sounds, smells, moods, associated memories, etc. Think I might have been reading Sherlock stories or Thomas Harris (Hannibal Lector books) at the time and decided to try it out in the game.

    Force: Empathy is a skill from the RPG which is quite versatile and useful. Rather than true telepathy or mindreading, the player can get a surface reading of a target; their mood, if they lying or scared, for example. A very strong image they are concentrating on, perhaps. You can use it both ways - to send a surface feeling to a target, too. Usually I wouldn't use it for diplomatic situations (Maya would probably think it an abuse of her powers), but here I think she would feel it is an innocent verification method.
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  6. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 3

    TROOPS HUSTLED IN SQUADS across the rocky landscape. Repulsorlift trolleys carried equipment, debris, and even wounded troopers. One of them was screaming. Maya shivered in the twilight. Dark emotions swirled like phantoms about this place.

    “We can witness a training drill soon, Maya,” said Halle.

    “Seems dangerous,” replied the teenager.

    “That is the point. We take pride in our training simulations; it prepares the soldiers to do their jobs.”

    Maya peered as two groups of armoured figures mustered at each end of the arena. She said, “Your blue team there has a big numerical advantage.”

    Halle followed her gaze, “Well, in numbers perhaps, but the other team is ARC unit 3-1.”

    “ARC? Cherta mentioned them before.”

    “Advanced Recon Commandos, Maya. They are special forces, personally trained by Jango Fett.”

    “How is that possible? I mean, after Geonosis…”

    “They have been cryogenically frozen. We are only now waking them up. These are very different from our standard clones, Maya: trained for specialist missions and not behavior modified. They are independent, resourceful, able to operate on their own initiative: Truly wonderful weapons of war.”

    Maya reflected on the use of the word wonderful in that sentence.

    “You said you were only now reviving them?”

    Halle took a deep breath. “There was some concern over the ARC project. Fett himself advocated it, but there were some discipline problems with early versions and some abhorrent clones. But we have finally perfected the product, I think. Would you like to meet them?”

    The senator hailed the ARC team. They dashed over and Maya was confronted by three helmets with blank stares. The faceless gladiators towered over her, powered armour broadening their muscled physiques. Each was easily twice her weight. She noticed one of the warrior’s helmets included an enhanced visor, while another sported yellow pilot flashes on his shoulders.

    “This is Maya Qwan, a Jedi,” said Halle. The three snapped to attention and saluted. The central figure, his shoulders marked with red rank-flashes, pointed.

    “You’re a Padawan, Ma’am.” His voice was tinny through the helmet speaker.

    Maya self-consciously reached up to touch the woven hair-braid that marked her status. “You know the ranks of the Jedi?”

    “I know of Padawans, Ma’am.” The tone was emotionless.

    “Maya, this is ARC-5-10, and his supporting team; CP-2-9-7-6 and CS-3-0-4-5,” said Halle.

    With the alpha-numeric names Maya felt like she was looking at three droids.

    “Can you remove your helmets? I can hardly tell you… oh…”

    In unison the soldiers swept off their helmets. Maya was now looking at three identical faces. She caught herself staring. They exchanged a knowing glance, as if they were used to such a reaction.

    ARC-5-10, the one that had recognised her braid, said, “We begin the drill soon, Ma’am.”

    “Perhaps you would like to join them, Maya?” said Halle. “It would benefit the troopers to see the prowess of a Jedi. You can join the ARC team.”

    Maya glanced at ARC-5-10 as he weighed it up. Another trooper with an identical face had joined them now, this one with blue flashes across his shoulders.

    “That hardly seems fair, Flint,” said the newcomer.

    A tiny spark of annoyance ignited in Maya’s gut. She did not like the implication that she could not handle a fight. How many times had she proved herself against bigger Padawans?

    “Alright, count me in,” she said.

    ARC-5-10 – or Flint as the other clone had called him – exchanged a shrug with Blue as they both donned their helmets. Flint said, “Too bad, Armo. Battlefields change like that. Deal with it.”

    He beckoned Maya to follow and his unit jogged to their staging area. When they arrived he gestured to a rack of blasters.

    “They are all set to stun, Ma’am,” he sized her up with a look. “Most of these might be a bit heavy for you. How about the DH-23?”

    Maya gaped at the offered pistol. “I’m sorry, Flint. Can I call you that?”

    “Of course, Ma’am!”

    “And please call me Maya. But these are not Jedi weapons. If I guarantee that I do not follow through to hurt an enemy, perhaps I can use my lightsaber instead?”

    Flint exchanged another glance with his team that was unreadable beneath the helmets. Maya said, “Is that a problem?”

    Flint shrugged back, “Nothing beats a good blaster at your side, Ma’am. But if that’s what you want...”

    A siren sounded and lights dimmed. The drill began…

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  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    So when Armo says "This hardly seems fair," I get the feeling he's referring not so much to (a) making someone of Maya's small size fight as (b) the fact that Flint's team (I am guessing the shoulder colors indicate the different sides of the mock battle) now has a Jedi on it as well as the elite ARCs? Or similar? Whatever it might be about, this definitely seems to be a hint of a bit of friction that exists between the ARCs and the regular troopers, or at least between some of them, and given the loose-cannon tendencies that have characterized the ARCs in the past, that worries me a bit! [face_nail_biting] But for now, let's see how this drill goes; it should be at very least an educational experience for Jedi, ARCs, and regular troopers alike. :cool:
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  8. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman Yeh, Maya misinterpreted that comment and projected her own anxieties onto the situation...

    Chapter 4

    THE CLONES TOOK COVER BEHIND A BOULDER. Maya followed, lightsaber hilt in hand. Flint turned to her.

    “We’re the assaulting unit. We have to take out their command station.”

    Maya nodded, “Capture the flag, huh?"

    “Or we kill all of them!” said the one with yellow flashes. Maya thought he sounded too enthusiastic.

    “Alright, stow it Blanco,” growled Flint. That one’s calledBlanco, Maya logged. Flint continued, “We’ll take attack pattern alpha. Marker, you’re on suppression. Blanco, with me.”

    “Yes, Sir!” they acknowledged in unison. Flint turned to Maya, “If that’s alright with you, Ma’am?”

    “I… umm, of course.”

    “Can you advance down the right flank? Secure us from a crossfire?”

    She brandished her lightsaber. “Leave it to me.”

    Then the bombs started falling. Explosions rocked the arena and bruised Maya’s ears. They didn’t appear to target one side or another or follow any pattern.

    Maya flinched, “I can’t believe they do this!”

    Blanco said, “If it ain’t got that thrill, it ain’t worth the drill!”

    A pause in the barrage came and Flint said, “Move out!”

    Flint and Blanco scrambled out of cover, ducking between rock formations as electric-blue blaster fire erupted from across the arena. Marker – the one with the enhanced visor – leant over the boulder and snapped off a shot from his long-barreled rifle. Maya took a deep breath, then scrambled across to the right flank.

    Shots tracked the nimble Jedi, skipping off the ground at her heels. She found cover behind another rock and peeked out: Four troopers from the other team, spread out with carbines pointed her way. Ordnance exploded uncomfortably closely and Maya shrank deeper behind cover as splinters of rock showered the area.

    Then she sprang. Leaping over the rock, she activated her weapon and a sapphire blade extended with a snap-hiss. The blue-marked troopers opened fire. She cartwheeled towards them, somersaulting between the first volley of azure arrows. They corrected aim quickly, much quicker than the droids on Sewosta, and Maya was forced to use her saber defensively.

    Her blade whirled, batting away blaster shots as she strode towards the enemy. Adrenalin rushed through her body with the thrill of combat. She reached for calm, letting the Force guide her limbs as several shots barely missed. From the corner of her eye she thought she saw Flint and Blanco, crouched behind cover, watching her.

    The trajectory of enemy arrows shifted. She saw they were changing positions, widening their formation, trying to set up a crossfire on her. She reacted, spinning between boulders and preventing the nearest clone from getting round behind her.

    There was another explosion and the outflanker sprawled from behind his cover. Maya realised the bomb had got him as he clutched a leg where the armour had been shattered. The man screamed and Maya halted, horrified. She held a hand up to the other enemy clones.

    “He’s injured! Wait a moment.” They exchanged stunned glances.

    Maya dashed to the wounded clone and knelt down beside him. She checked the leg and saw bones shattered and flesh ripped. Blood gushed. It didn’t look life-threatening, but she wasn’t sure about moving him.

    “Hold on,” she shouted to him over the din. “We need to stop the bleeding.”

    The warrior had removed his helmet now. He stared at her. Maya met his gaze. He looked exactly like Flint. Then he raised his blaster and shot her in the face.

    * * *

    MAYA GROANED AS CONSCIOUSNESS RETURNED. She sat up, finding herself on a hard bed in a white-walled cabin. The open doorway at one end of the medical bay showed the dark arena beyond. An IM-6 droid hovered over to her.

    “Are you alright, Ma’am?” it spoke in a soothing female voice.

    Maya massaged her aching neck, “I’ll live.”

    She spotted an unconscious clone trooper across the bay on another couch, his leg encased in a sealed tank swishing with green liquid, and surmised he was the one who had zapped her. She glowered for some moments, but considered the terrible injury of his leg.

    “Will he be alright?” she asked the large-eyed robot.

    “Oh, yes. The bacta will knit the tissue back together. He’ll have a scar, but they like that. It makes them different. And he’s given the 501st legion something to boast about tonight. It’s the first time they’ve ‘killed’ a Jedi.”

    Maya groaned internally. She thought back to Armo’s comment on her participation: That’s hardly fair. Only now did she realise he meant having a Jedi on their side actually gave the ARC team an advantage. Or did it? She stepped out of the bay and saw Flint’s team at a computer station across the arena. She reluctantly trudged over.

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  9. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, OK, let me make sure I got this right: the wounded clone—who was from the 501st team—shot Maya as she was trying to treat his injury?! Definitely not Geneva-Accords-friendly behavior, methinks. And yes, I bet the 501st will boast about this—and I shudder to think what form that might take. (I also to shudder to imagine what implications it might have for [hl=black]Order 66 later[/hl]—though I understand that's probably outside the purview of this story.) I'm glad Maya's all right, in any event; it says a lot about her own good-heartedness and moral character that one of the first things she does upon regaining consciousness is ask after the health of the man who shot her.

    This was quite a striking quote from the med droid:

    Which of course gets me thinking of Maya's much earlier comment about the imbalance the whole cloning project creates in the Living Force. If the only way to "make onself different" is to get so badly hurt that you're physically scarred, well... that says something pretty dire! :eek:
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  10. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman I like how you're "getting" the darker themes and issues around the clones that I'm flirting with in this story. I'm keeping the events of ROTS firmly in mind, even if it's not even on the horizon of the timescale of this story. Yes, that it was the 501st was not a coincidence...

    Chapter 5

    MAYA HUNG BACK as Flint lectured his team. She figured they had ‘lost’ the simulated battle from the commander’s tone of voice.

    “Look Blanco, here,” said Flint, gesturing to the video screen. “One, two, three times you went right past good cover before you got hit.”

    Blanco held up his hands in appeal. “I have to keep up…”

    “You have to stay alive!” Flint thumped the screen for emphasis. “If I get too far ahead, signal me. And now you, Marker. Give me your 20a.”

    The scout handed over his rifle and Flint examined it.

    “Five shots. Four hits.”

    “Wow,” said Blanco. “Eighty percent.”

    “Yes, remarkable,” said Flint. “But you only fired five shots in the whole mission. When I say suppressing fire, I mean spray the enemy location to keep them down. You don’t always need a clean head shot.”

    “But we have to preserve ammunition…”

    “You have enough clips. Short bursts, just like in training, but enough to let them know they’re under fire.” Flint huffed. “Bottom line: You are too reckless, Blanco, and you are too cautious, Marker.”

    “Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir,” they replied in unison.

    Flint finally noticed the youthful Padawan. “Officer on deck!”

    Blanco and Marker jumped from their seats and all three snapped to attention.

    “Oh, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to disturb… as you were?”

    Flint turned to the others and said, “Go take ten, then we’ll look at the rappelling exercise again.”

    They jogged away and the ARC commander turned to Maya.

    She said, “You were quite harsh on them.”

    “I handpicked these men, requisitioned them from their parent regiments. If they do not perform on the battlefield, it’s on me,” he jerked a thumb at his chest.

    Maya spotted herself getting blasted as the video screen reran images from the drill.

    “I can’t believe that clone stunned me!” she scowled.

    Flint said, “Yes… I was surprised you made that mistake.”

    “A mistake? I was trying to help him.”

    “Until the siren goes he is an enemy combatant…”

    “But he was actually, really hurt…”

    “Look, I know this is can be a shock for a Padawan, but in war people do actually, really get hurt.”

    Maya fixed him with a glare. Flint looked away as if he hadn’t meant to say that comment out loud.

    “What do you mean by that?” she said. “You have a problem with Padawans?”

    “We all have complete faith in the Jedi, Ma’am!” he snapped a salute.

    Maya knew a scripted, programmed response when she heard it.

    “Come on, Flint. What do you really want to say?”

    He shifted on the spot. Maya said, “You’re a commander, too, which makes us technically equal. Forget ranks for a moment. Talk to me...”

    “Alright,” he took a deep breath. “Don’t get me wrong. What you Jedi can do – your powers – it’s amazing, unfathomable, scary even. It’s like magic to us. But, I don’t know, I’ve heard that some Padawans… hmmm… well, flake out when it comes to a real battle. A battlefield unleashes mass ultraviolence. Not everyone is prepared for that, and, well… you are not really soldiers.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well, take your insistence on using those lightsabers. Again, don’t get me wrong; I can see the defensive value, and they are obviously deadly in hand-to-hand situations. But they are ceremonial dueling weapons, not practical on a battlefield. They are bright and loud, they give your position away. And you can’t deflect a grenade blast. You can’t duel a heavy laser cannon on an OG-9. You come up against hardware like that, you need a rocket launcher or you need to bug out.”

    Maya touched her saber, processing the words. “OK, you’re right. A Jedi’s ways are not all about just designating an enemy then finding the most practical way of destroying that enemy. I have to worry about more than that.”

    “Well, I don’t.” Flint folded his arms across his armoured chest.

    “Look, I have been in a battlefield situation,” said Maya.

    “Did you kill anyone?”

    “Yes… Well, no. I thought I did.”

    “Uh-huh. Did you risk your life – and mission – to aid an enemy combatant?”

    Maya opened her mouth to answer, closed it again, scowling. A distant siren called. Flint said, “That’s five before the next drill: Time for me to go.”

    Maya sighed. “So, we are different. That doesn’t mean we can’t work together, Flint.”

    “I hope so, Ma’am,” he said, then donned his helmet and jogged away.

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  11. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    I still need to lead the last couple of chapters of the previous story...and then I come here and see that you're on a super-quick schedule again. Aaaaargh. :p Anyway, just to say that you do have at least two readers, but one is late, late, late. ;)
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  12. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Ewok Poet Oh, that actually means a lot to me, EP. @};- I thought I'd lost you towards the end of Sewosta, which secretly saddened me a bit as you were amongst the first to welcome me to these boards. I do understand we are working on different timescales lol. Sorry for being so quick, and please please feel free to take your own time.

    Chapter 6
    HALLE SHOWED MAYA INTO HER QUARTERS. She took in the clinical white finish of every surface; walls, chairs, tasteful sculptures, even the molded sofa.

    “Prime Minister Lama Su is scheduled to return in three hours, Maya. Please make yourself comfortable until then.”

    The graceful alien retreated to leave Maya alone in her suite. She found a sleeping chamber and refresher station adjoined to the main lounge. She gazed out of a panoramic window that dominated the far wall. Amidst the storm, a cetacean broke the churning surface of the sea, flapping wide, leathery wings with tremendous strength. Maya thought she saw the willowy outline of a Kaminoan riding on its broad back.

    Tio beeped excitedly in a corner, where he had been busily working at a computer station. Maya jerked from her thoughts.

    “You found something?” She crossed to the droid.

    Tio warbled a stream of electronic language and Maya peered at the display screen. “OK, what am I looking at? Routine maintenance logs?”

    Tio beeped the affirmative and a section of the report highlighted.

    “Hmmm, three entries on the venting system. What about it?”

    Tio turned his omnitool in the interface port and previous reports flashed up on the screen.

    “I see. That’s rare – and coincides with the time of the intrusion.”

    An anomaly? A clue? Maya’s pulse quickened just a fraction.

    “Can you show me where they are?”

    Tio obliged with a three dimensional map revolving on the display screen. Maya studied the locations highlighted in magenta.

    “Those two are right outside the lab, across each other from the corridor!”

    Tio’s domed head spun in a circle as he trilled with excitement.

    “Something the Kaminoans missed… Where’s the third? Hmmm, that’s a landing bay, but it has no identifying number.”

    He was in a rush. He entered the venting system, then got out at this point. Maya knelt beside the droid and caressed his shoulder.

    “Well done, Tio. This could be it.” Then she straightened as the little robot trembled with happiness. “I’m going to check this out… alone.”

    Tio trilled an enquiry.

    “Yes. I don’t want anyone to find out. If someone calls for me, tell them I’m indisposed – imply I’m in the fresher. No, don’t outright lie. I don’t want to cause an incident if you are found out, just let your words be open to interpretation. Can you do that for me?”

    The robot hooted doubtfully.

    “Don’t worry. I’ll be back in time for my date with the Prime Minister. It’s not that I don’t trust the Kaminoans…” She thought about the similarity between the soldiers’ T-shaped visors and the image she had of the intruder, about the clone with an identical face to Flint that had stunned her at point blank range.

    “Well perhaps I’m not sure who I can trust right now…”

    She activated the oval door and found a deserted corridoor outside. The agile teenager checked her lightsaber and equipment clipped to her belt, then darted in the direction of the numberless landing bay.

    Maya passed through more spotless passages without meeting a soul, past the laboratory and training areas, until she reached the outskirts of the city dome. At the end of a corridoor a wide portal barred access to the mystery landing bay.

    First, Maya scaled a wall and found the venting section in need of maintenance.


    It was just the grilled cover. It was not quite straight and a sensor built into the holding bolts had been left uncovered. Maya visualised the sequence of events in her mind.

    “He’s seen, he has to get out quickly but avoid patrols from the emergency alarm. He breaks into the venting system – these shafts are wide enough even for a big armoured man to crawl down. Then he gets out here. He’s in a hurry and doesn’t replace it properly.” She paused for a moment. “Why take time to replace it at all? Why cover your tracks? Once you’re off-planet it doesn’t matter…”

    A disquieting thought settled on her like a wet blanket covering her shoulders.

    “He’s still here. That’s why they couldn’t track his starship.”

    She jumped back down to the floor and peered through the transparent section of the portal. No sign of a starship.

    “Of course not,” she told herself. “Did you expect him patiently waiting for you here?”

    The storm raged outside. Maya took a deep breath and depressed the door opening control…

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  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oopsy-daisy, I've fallen behind again! Sorry about that.

    I like the way chapter 5 really unpacks the whole business of how Jedi and clones see each other in a way the films don't at all, and in such a way that one can see that both interlocutors—Maya and Flint—have good points. Indeed, what Flint says about "flaking out" and "not really being soldiers" is something that came to mind for me when I saw padawans and very young Jedi leading the clones as generals in ROTS (Aayla Secura, for example, was barely finished being a padawan herself in her Order 66 scene, as I recall), and I think he has a point there and about what he says about lightsabers (which is a rather cool point in itself and one that I can't believe no one in the official lore has broached—at least not to my knowledge). Both Maya and Flint have some things to think about there, it seems.

    And finally, a few answers in chapter 6 about the mysterious invader, thanks to the ever-faithful Tio! So our mysterious T-visored fellow (!) I now wonder if the clone who had stunned Maya really is involved in this in any way—if he had a suspicion that she was on his trail, that might explain why he did what he did to her. Or something; it's hard to know. It's definitely sobering to think that this intruder might still be around in some way or other, and indeed there have been hints throughout the story so far that this could indeed be an "inside job." Though in a way, if it were, that might actually make Maya's job easier? Maybe, kinda sorta? I guess we'll have to see. Keep it comin'! :)
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  14. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman Thanks for those comments. That was a tough dialogue to write - had to re-watch Jango & Obi-Wan's scenes from AOTC a few times, and wanted to get the right amount of respect for the Jedi coupled with the natural confidence of an elite soldier.

    Chapter 7

    THE SIGHT THAT GREETED MAYA SURPRISED HER perhaps even more than discovering an Infiltrator-class starfighter. As soon as she opened the portal, flurries of rain-lashed wind whipped her bare arms and legs, though the circular bay was somewhat protected from the storm by a canopy above.

    Instead of starships, Maya witnessed a colony of the dragon-like cetaceans huddled together in groups. Feeding troughs dotted the inner space while intermittent fence panels following the pad’s circumference offered further shelter to the creatures. The beasts nearest to her shuffled and squawked, disturbed by her appearance.

    A bent-backed Kaminoan bustled out from behind a trough, heaving a container of kelp. He turned a wrinkled grey face towards her and dropped his load, oval head swaying on his gangly neck.

    “Oh no! The intruder!” he croaked.

    Maya quickly raised hands and beamed her best smile. “No, no. I’m sorry to startle you. My name is Maya Qwan, of the Jedi Order. I’m here looking for the intruder. Are you the keeper of these magnificent creatures?”

    The aged Kaminoan squinted at Maya with pale eyes.

    “Ah, you won’t find him here I think, young Jedi. Only those familiar with the city know of this place. My name is Jiisama, and yes, I look after the great aiwhas.”

    Aiwhas. Maya logged the name of the creatures.

    “Tipoca City officials keep trying to phase us out for those newfangled speeders – don’t even acknowledge our landing bay – but these great creatures are still the best way to get about Kamino. I don’t know… sometimes I think we have become too obsessed with our mastery of technology, but no-one cares what an old one like me thinks!”

    Maya considered the words of the ancient native.

    “Yes, I know what you mean, Jiisama. My planet was once enslaved by the Quarren. We developed a form of self-defence known as Teräs Käsi. This was key in our fight to gain our freedom. Now it is falling away, practiced merely as a dance or demonstration. Sometimes, the old ways are better. Technology can fail.”

    The old man chuckled, “Yes, yes. And please call me Jiji.”

    “Jiji, these aiwhas look very strong. I’ve seen them breaking the surface of the sea to fly into the sky. Do you think they could carry me?”

    “A little thing like you? Of course!”

    “How about an armoured male human – as big as one of the clone troopers? Have you seen anything like that recently?”

    Jiisama squinted again, a sly smile breaking across his wrinkles.

    “You think the intruder used one of these to leave Tipoca? I suppose that’s possible, if he knew the city well enough… I’m not here all the time.”

    “Where would he go?”

    Jiisama scratched his chin. “There are islets dotting the ocean around here – the tips of undersea mountains. No Kaminoans live there, but the aiwhas need to nest in season.”

    Maya gazed out to the violent sea, hunting for a clue.

    Jiisama said, “If it were me, I’d go to Black Talon Point. It’s at the furthest range for an aiwha and well clear of the satellite cities. Big enough to hide on, too.”

    Black Talon Point. Maya looked at the fearsome cetaceans again. Jiisama noticed.

    “The trick is to get their trust first, little Maya, but then show control. They are hierarchical creatures, used to living in groups. I can show you what to do after that. Here, this one’s a skillful flyer, and she’s used to riders.”

    Maya stood before the beast. It rose and flapped great wings. She looked it in the eye and called upon the Force. She gently nudged the mind of the animal, showing her feelings without words. The aiwha settled and squawked.

    “Well I never…” muttered Jiisama. “I’ve never seen her take to a stranger so quickly. You’ll be fine, Maya. Just guide with your knees and tug or push down here on the neck to increase or decrease height. It’s instinctive. She’ll figure out where you want to go.”

    The old Kaminoan helped the lissome Padawan to mount the aiwha behind the shoulders. He pointed, “Black Talon Point is that way, at least ten leagues out. Show her the way and she’ll probably know where you are headed.”

    “Thank you, Jiji,” said Maya.

    He gave her a long look. “Are you sure you want to do this alone, little Maya?”

    “The Force is my ally, Jiji. And one does well to not judge by size alone.”

    Maya smiled at his concern. But he had a point. She reached for her comlink.

    “Tio, I might have a lead. I’m leaving the city to check out an island. I still hope to be back for my date with the Prime Minister. But if not, tell them I’ve gone to Black Talon Point.”

    Tio babbled a stream of stern notes but Maya switched off the comlink.

    “I’ll be looking out for you, too,” said Jiisama. Then he smacked the rump of the aiwha and with a screech it was airbourne, sailing through wind and rain.

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  15. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, I'm at least glad that when Maya opened that ominous door out into the wind and rain, it led her to a good lead and to a helpful contact. At least I hope it will prove to be one, and not just a red herring, because it sounds like this Black Talon Point is a long way away and out of sentient reach. One little observation: in the previous chapter, Maya says "perhaps I’m not sure who I can trust right now," and instructs Tio to tell anyone who asks about her that she's indisposed—but now she's telling Tio to tell the truth if asked about her whereabouts. I wonder what changed her mind? Will she make it back in time, thus obviating the need for anyone to tell anyone about her whereabouts? Though one has to consider, too, which is more likely to yield further clues: this excursion or the meeting with the PM, and it's really not easy to say at this stage. This is all very [face_thinking] and a little bit [face_nail_biting], though of course also :cool: .
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  16. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Wow that was quick Findswoman ! I think I meant Maya to instruct Tio to tell the truth only if she's not back in time for the date - IE becomes overdue. If there's an enquiry before that the droid's to imply she's busy in the shower. I see how it can be confusing despite the "But if not" bit. So thanks for pointing it out. [face_peace]
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  17. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 8

    THE RAIN STORM WAS PASSING. But the wind continued to whip Maya’s soaking hair across her face. She squinted through the greyness and spotted her target. Black Talon Point. A spike of dark rock clawed at the glowering skies.

    Her aiwha stretched its wings and glided in a circle about the desolate spar. Maya noticed a colony of more of the giant cetaceans huddled around a relatively flat bay on one side, while the eastern edge of the islet cradled treacherous slopes and caves. Those caves might offer a good hiding place, Maya decided. She pressed with her knees and gently exerted pressure on her mount’s neck to direct to the flat side of the islet. The aiwha soon understood the idea and dived towards the bay. At the last moment it angled its body upright and Maya clung to the bullish, sinewy neck. Several mighty beats from its wings and it settled near to its fellow beasts.

    Maya leapt from its back and paused to bow her thanks. A quick brush of minds and she showed her gratitude through the Force. The aiwha squawked acknowledgement. Then Maya set off for the far side of the peak.

    She tracked through crevasses and along narrow ledges, the wind clutching at her slender limbs. More than once her sandals slipped on rain-slicked stone and she was forced to grab at sharp-edged rocks. Finally a flickering light caught her attention. Maya froze, hugging a boulder for cover and peered downwards.

    Below her on a flat spur near to the sea’s edge a campfire danced at the entrance to a gaping cave. Maya spied a figure and smiled. He was a burly human male inMandalorian armour. She had acquired her intruder at last. He clutched his helmet under one arm and Maya saw the familiar T-shaped visor. She squinted. From this angle, the top of his head looked remarkably similar to Flint, too. Next to the warrior was hunched a unit of machinery – some kind of laser cannon – which tweaked her interest.

    The Mandalorian raised his face to the sky and Maya shrank further into cover. Her eyes widened. He had the exact same face as Flint.

    “The storm is passing, D’harhan. It is a good omen. The time has come. This day we strike the Republic, and you will have the troopers you need to retake Niorde.”

    Niorde. Project Niorde, Maya remembered from the lab technician. Then the laser cannon beside the Mandalorian started moving. Maya stared as it rose onto cyber-assisted legs, only now understanding that it wasn’t an it, it was a he. Some kind of genetic-cyber construct? The bulky housing unit and fat barrel of the formidable weapon entirely replaced the being’s head. Power cells lined the spine, lending it gyroscopic support for the weight. A segmented metallic tail as thick as her thigh swished behind him. The two legs and arms looked vaguely humanoid, but enhanced, and the torso was replaced by more machinery contained within armoured plating. Maya wondered what desperation would drive a being to do such things to himself… if he had a choice

    Maya’s shock was not over yet. Sounds of tramping feet came from inside the cave. As Maya spied wide-eyed, a phalanx of battle droids marched out to the lip. Humanoid heads swiveled upon humanoid bodies, resembling the familiar 3PO protocol droids, but protected with drab grey armour plating. It took Maya a moment to decide what unsettled her so much about these units. The way they moved… their visibly more flexible joints granted the robots the fluidity of organics. Even though they marched in unison, Maya could see the advanced dexterity in their agile steps. She shook her head. Before, she had been given the impression of robotic organics by the clones. Now she was disquieted by the image of living droids.

    They each clutched blaster rifles to their chests and humped jetpacks on their backs. Another company appeared, then another.

    “It’s a staging point. They’re going to attack Tipoca City,” she breathed as the last of at least a thousand of the androids assembled.

    The seas beside the spur bubbled and churned as a flotilla of submersibles surfaced. Maya counted at least thirty droid sub-fighters, shaped like giant manta rays and loaded with torpedoes. Amongst the mass of bobbing discs, a behemoth arose. This submersible battleship was two hundred metres long, its oval length flanked on each side with rocket-shaped engine wings. A massive blast door on top of the underwater battleship’s main hull groaned open and the androids embarked, one phalanx at a time.

    The Mandalorian and the cannon-being, D’harhan, watched. Maya now saw a cadre of officers had joined the generals of this secret army. They wore Mandalorian armour too, and carried a variety of exotic rifles and close combat weapons. Maya sensed they were elite, professional soldiers. Mercenaries? The easy confidence and coiled power in their stances reminded her of the commando, Flint.

    As the last of the androids entered the battle-sub, Maya realised a window of opportunity was closing. The Mandalorians and D’harhan strolled on afterwards and the great portal started groaning shut again.

    Maya took a deep breath then scurried from her hiding place. She scrambled down the rockface to the lip. She paused for a moment as the blast door closed to a gap of two metres, knowing what she was about to do was reckless and dangerous. Then she leapt onto the hull of the behemoth and slipped inside the doorway just before it clanged shut.

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  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh goodness gracious. And now the (presumable) Mandalorian-armored intruder also looks exactly like Flint! Perhaps that shouldn't surprise me given that we're dealing with clones, but there was also that clone who shot Maya point blank during the exercises while she was trying to tend to his wounds, and he too was described as looking exactly like Flint. My first thought was that the facial similarity meant that this renegade on Black Talon Point was also a former ARC, like Flint, but the trooper who looked like Flint and shot Maya was from the 501st rather than being an ARC, so perhaps it really is just down to the whole cloning business. Still, I can't help but think it's being mentioned for a reason...

    It's very concerning that this fellow on Black Talon point has pretty much his own sort of a twisted version of a clone army—sort of bizarre organic-droid hybrids that I'm guessing are intended to combine the best of both worlds. He's clearly up to zero good. Maya's definitely brave to follow them all the way she did, and I am raring to hear what she'll find on board the submersible! (Hopefully before anyone finds her first!) And at this point, I guess we'll just have to see if she makes it back in time for her meeting with the prime minister! [face_nail_biting]
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  19. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman Thanks once more for your kind attention. As it's just us (for the moment) I see no need to hold back the next bit any longer...

    Chapter 9

    THE LEVIATHAN LURCHED. The hydraulics completed their cycle, sealing the great portal against external pressure with a deafening clang, and the monstrous submersible descended into the watery depths. Maya slipped into hiding behind a nest of piping and saw the water level rising past transparisteel ports in the hull.

    In the main assembly area the androids stood motionless in perfect ranks. With all the mechanical noise and the passing of the storm’s interference, Maya saw her chance and reached for her comlink.

    “Tio, it’s me!”

    A stream of electronic hoots answered her.

    “Tio, listen. Tell the Kaminoans to go to battle stations: There is an underwater attack imminent! Mobilise all clone units!”

    She shut off the comlink as the astromech trilled with alarm. The cadre of Mandalorians was near enough for her to overhear them.

    One said, “Timing’s too tight. Mandalore waited too long for the storm."

    Another voice said, “Don’t worry; this leviathan-class is fast enough. And the Niorde protocol is on a countdown, so we couldn’t move too early.”

    A third stated, “Mandalore will not let us down. He is the Resurrector, the one foretold to return our glory. Destroying the cloning facilities is the key step to ending Republic domination in the galaxy.”

    “Aye,” the second voice again. “At last we will have revenge for Galidraan.”

    Maya tried to make sense of the information. A dull history lecture by Master Adi Mundi surfaced in her memory: The Battle of Galidraan, where Mandalorians were slain over a misunderstanding. Not the Jedi’s finest hour. Great: another faction that hates the Order. This is personal, even if they are mercenaries. She surveyed the hall from behind cover. A portal at the far end looked like the entry to the command deck. That must be where this Mandalore the Resurrector is – and where I need to be if I’m going to stop this attack before it starts…

    She ghosted from her hiding place, darting to another behind stacks of metal equipment crates. She stole a glance round a corner and reckoned the static androids were on temporary power-down mode. She chanced another dash to more pipes, skirting the circumference of the hall as she headed for the command deck. She turned around a pipe… and came face to face with one of the humanoid battle droids.

    Instincts kicked in as it swung round its blaster. Maya activated her lightsaber and sliced through its neck before it could react. The android clattered to the grilled deck plates. Then the sound of over a hundred rifles swinging to firing position echoed in the hall. Maya realised her mistake too late. Lightsabers are loud and bright, give your position away, Flint’s words repeated in her mind. Maya faced a battalion of fully alert androids now aiming at her. The Mandalorians jumped into action, rushing towards the disturbance. Maya only had time to notice that these men – all hard-faced humans – were not clones. Different faces, different voices. Then she made a run for it.

    The acrobatic Jedi cartwheeled down the hall, then leapt and ducked as blaster shots filled the air around her.

    “Beware of breach! Set for stun!” commanded one of the humans. Maya kept running. Blasts pinged off pipes and around her ankles. Then a shot clipped her thigh and she lost feeling in her leg, toppling to the floor.

    In moments rough hands seized her. A gang of Mandalorians stripped her of her equipment belt. Then six androids grabbed her limbs and carried her, squirming and kicking, towards the command deck.

    They threw her to the deck as Mandalore and D’harhan turned. One of the Mandalorians jammed an electrostaff into her back and Maya convulsed with agony.

    “What’s this?” growled Mandalore. He had Flint’s voice, too.

    “A stowaway…” said one of the Mandalorians, displaying her lightsaber.

    “A Jedi?” said Mandalore. “You had better start talking, fast. Who are you?”

    Another jab from the electrostaff added painful impetus to his order.

    Maya groaned as the coils of electricity faded, climbing to trembling hands and knees.

    “I’m the one who’s going to save your life, Mandalore. Tipoca City is alerted. They are ready for your attack. Stop now, while you still have the chance.”

    Mandalore laughed. “You have no idea what is happening, do you, Jedi?”

    “Don’t be a fool,” hissed Maya. “The defences are ready. It’s suicide to press on with the attack now.”

    “It is too late,” said Mandalore. He glanced at the other Mandalorians. “Do not worry, brothers. The Niorde protocol will take them completely by surprise. Nothing can stop us now.”

    Maya tried another way, “Are not the Republic clones your brothers, too? Count Dooku is manipulating you, just as he did the Jedi at Galidraan. There is no need for this!”

    “My brothers? Hah! Yes, you have seen my face. Yes, I was made on Kamino, but they considered me abhorrent because I thought for myself. Your troopers are but slaves. I escaped that fate.”

    Maya recalled the early ‘problems’ Halle had mentioned in the ARC project. She turned to the other Mandalorians.

    “He’s leading you to your deaths. Do you really believe he is the Resurrector?”

    “Someone shut her up. The attack begins!” Mandalore turned away and focused on the forward viewing ports. Hands seized Maya again and hauled her to her feet. Her wrists were shackled and she was dragged from the command cabin.

    Outside in the main hall one of the Mandalorians grasped a deep hook dangling from a heavy chain. Maya’s hands were forced over the hook and a control button was pressed. An engine whirred and Maya realised the hook was attached to a winch for lifting and hauling cargo. The chain creaked upwards, hoisting her cuffed hands with it, stretching her arms until she was dangling from her wrists, the shackles biting into her skin. She teetered on tiptoes, barely able to touch the surface below. The electrostaff rammed into her stomach and Maya groaned as debilitating pain flooded her senses.

    “So, shut up,” growled a voice. “You two, keep an eye on her.”

    Two of the androids hustled over as movement rippled through the submarine’s hold. Maya recovered and peered through tear-blurred eyes. The sea level was falling again past the portals. She saw the familiar mighty struts of Tipoca City outside. Already, the manta-droids were making their attack runs, pounding the structure with torpedoes and drawing attention away from the approaching leviathan. Mandalore’s right, she realised. Nothing is going to stop this elite army from getting into the city.

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  20. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooookay, things have seriously thickened up here. Not only is Tipoca City in danger of an imminent underwater attack led by a renegade clone who looks just like Flint (confirming some of my suspicions voiced in earlier comments about ARCs, etc.), but said renegade clone has apparently decided also to reclaim whatever Mandalorian heritage he has (insofar as the heritage of a clone's genetic host belongs to the clone too), and that in such a way that gives him a personal grudge against the Jedi. All with a healthy does of origin-loathing, which of course connects to the fact that his companions are not former clone troopers of any sort. But where did he recruit them? And how did he come to be regarded as the Resurrector? Those things I wonder. [face_thinking] For now, though, it seems like nothing is going to stop these fellows from rushing headlong into the assembled forces of Tipoca City, and likely a pretty epic battle will ensue. I wonder what Flint would think of this situation! :p
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  21. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman You have been expert-level attention (as I would expect from a top-level Gand hunter like yourself! ;)). Maya is indeed thinking the same things re: Flint...

    Chapter 10

    THE GREAT BLAST DOOR ABOVE GROANED OPEN, and the android phalanxes moved to ready positions. They clustered in squads, each led by two of the mercenaries. Maya peered up past her shackled hands. Stocky starships with triangular wings filled the grey sky, jousting with clone fighters. The scream of blasters and roars of explosions filled the air. Simultaneous attack from above and below, marveled Maya. She guessed that this precision strike would be something an elite soldier like Flint would appreciate. Mandalore was true to his boasts. She really hadn’t suspected the scope of their plan. But I have to stop it, somehow.

    Mandalore and D’harhan exited the command cabin. The Resurrector wore his helmet now. The armoured gladiator paused, T-shaped visor regarding her as he passed.

    “She’s dangerous,” intoned D’harhan from a voice synthesizer built into his chest. “We should kill her now.”

    “She’s also valuable,” said Mandalore. “The Dragon will pay well for some quality time with this one…”

    “We need every legionnaire droid in the attack. And she’s already cost us one.”

    “Yes,” Mandalore turned to the command deck, where two more mercenaries crewed the controls. “You two, come here. Keep an eye on her.”

    He handed them an electrostaff. “Any sign of trouble, use this. Hold position until my signal.”

    Then he moved off with the two androids to join another waiting unit. Maya turned, wincing as her bonds wrenched her wrists. At staggered intervals, squads of the attacking force ignited jetpacks and soared upwards on cherries of red flame. Hails of electric-blue blaster fire rained down from above as clone troopers on the city platforms desperately defended against the surprise assault.

    The staff punched point-first into her stomach and Maya groaned, trembling as every nerve in her body jangled. One of the Mandalorian pilots, an unshaven brute, grinned at her as she tried to breathe. The shocker-weapon crackled in his fist.

    “No trouble, eh Jedi?”

    The leviathan rocked, pounded by blaster fire from above.

    Maya said, “This ship’s going down, and you’re going down with it!”

    Another blow answered her and she whimpered, eyes screwed shut against the pain. The two mercenaries could not help but be captivated by the spectacle unfolding above the submarine. They stared up as the droid legionnaires reached the defenders on the platforms above and the battle intensified into chaotic close combat.

    Maya saw her chance. The supple Padawan called upon her aching limbs and swung her body upwards. Dangling upside down for a second, she caught hold of the chain between her calves and lifted her shackled hands from the hook.

    “Hey!” growled her torturer. The weapon swept towards her.

    Maya dropped, twisting mid-air to land into a crouch, and the electrostaff smashed through empty space. Maya faced the two stunned Mandalorians as they poised ready to fight. Emotions rose like bile in her throat; anger at the bully that had tormented her, fear of their weapons. She rose and pushed out her cuffed hands, unleashing the pent up energy of the Force.

    An invisible charging bantha of energy slammed into the two guards and they flew backwards. Their heads clanged against the metal wall and they slithered to the grilled floor, eyes closed.

    Maya stood trembling, horrified by what she had just done. Master Chodo had started teaching her the technique of the Force Strike, but that was the first time she had produced such a powerful effect. The emotions that fueled it had come from the Dark Side: fear, anger. She crossed to her tormentors and checked their necks for a pulse. Still alive, but I have no excuse. Then she imagined what Flint would say; It was effective, practical.

    Maya sighed, pushing aside the conflicting thoughts for now. She would meditate upon this trouble later. She had a battle to halt. She dashed into the command cabin and located her confiscated equipment belt, then cut her bonds with her lightsaber. The weight of her weapon’s hilt back in her hand was reassuring.

    She studied the cockpit controls, learning quickly she had no idea what did what. But that was not a problem. She re-activated the saber and the sapphire blade extended. She stabbed it into important looking computer controls and warning lights flashed angrily at her. An alarm went off somewhere. She kept stabbing. Somewhere from outside a series of great bursts rumbled through the superstructure.

    “Yes! That’s the air tanks blowing,” she said as the battleship lurched.

    She dashed outside again as the floor tilted. It would take time for a vessel this big to sink, she hoped. She glanced at the fallen pair of guards and scowled. Right above their heads was a life-vest locker, almost as a message. She grunted and pulled out two lifesavers then took several moments to secure the jackets around the unconscious guards. The gesture assuaged her conscience somewhat.

    The submersible lurched again. Maya peered up to see the water level rising past portholes again. It wouldn’t be long before the sea would rise above the open blast doors and start flooding in. She needed an escape plan. Then she spotted D’harhan…

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  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Yep, Mr. Mandalore T. Resurrector, you should have listened to Maya! You didn't, and now you and your band of toughs in for it—ditto your "very valuable" prisoner. Good planning there. :p Maya, meanwhile, seems to have just had a brush with the Dark Side in her use of the Force Push—it clearly was a matter of saving her own life (and in her defense, she's in a very, very extreme situation here), but I bet it won't be without repercussions of at least some kind later on. I would say that the fact that she gives the guards life vests shows that she really is still in the Light—because who knows but they might be able to be of help to her later on! I wonder what escape plan she has in mind involving D'harhan... whatever it is, I bet it's risky, because, well, D'harhan! :p
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  23. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    Findswoman That was an interesting moment in the RPG: The rulebook we are using states that using Force Strike against a sentient earns the player a Dark Side Point. But it is out of date, written before RotS, where Yoda clearly uses it to whack those two royal guards in blue cloaks against the wall, before the final confrontation with Palpatine. I thought the state of mind of the Force user is important, and considering she had been beaten and tortured and was likely pretty mad, accepted the DSP, then tried to cancel it out later with the good deed. Anyway, time for the Saturday update!

    Chapter 11

    BATTLE RAGED BENEATH THE BLEARY SKIES, and D’harhan proved his worth. The cybernetic held position on a raised gantry, just below the open blast doors which provided battlements for the living cannon. As Maya watched a nova-bright beam erupted from his upraised barrel. The concentrated stream of energy held for a full second as D’harhan adjusted aim with dexterous movements from his enhanced exo-skeleton. The continuous blast raked the platform far above, vaporising several clone troopers and forcing the rest back. Now that’s what Flint would call suppressing fire, Maya decided.

    The battle-sub listed to port and the first waves of water tumbled over the open portal’s edge. D’harhan staggered a step, his tail bracing on the gantry and correcting his balance. But now he knew something was wrong. He turned and the barrel swung downwards into the hold. Red visual orbs fixed on Maya.

    The laser cannon recharged with a high-pitched whine and Maya struck a defensive stance, holding her lightsaber poised diagonally. Another beam erupted from D’harhan’s head and Maya adjusted to intercept. Focused ultra-heat energy converted to kinetic power upon contact with her blade and physically shoved Maya backwards along the deck plates. Her sandals skidded in water that was quickly rising to her ankles. The beam was a continuous stream, unlike a blaster bolt, and the agile Padawan had to carefully bend the jet down into the water. Seawater was flash-vaporised and clouds of steam billowed up around her.

    On the gantry above D’harhan touched a control on his chest unit, and the concentrated beam widened a fraction. It was now too broad to be contained by the lightsaber. Maya spun away with a gasp as the stream of laser burned across her thigh. The deck listed at a crazy angle, and Maya saw gallons of seawater gushing into the leviathan from the opposite flank to D’harhan’s gantry.

    She scrambled up to another walkway that circuited the sub’s hold, keeping above the rising water level. Another blast from the head-cannon erupted towards her and she dived behind some drums. The incessant beam tracked her and one of the barrels exploded. Maya kept running.

    Saber deactivated, she sheltered behind a hefty pillar and tried to catch her breath. She heard the cannon recharging again. The thick metal of her hiding place crumpled and Maya was forced to run again. She lost sight of D’harhan in the clouds of steam. Wait, she thought, then how can he track me? The roars of battle above were far too intrusive for him to find her by sound. Infra-red vision through the steam? Or… heat?

    An idea came to Maya. She had been avoiding the rising water level as well as her hunter’s cannon. Now she dived off the walkway and into the churning pool that was filling the leviathan’s hold.

    She survived the numbing shock of the plunge into the cold water and forced her tired limbs to pump, swimming towards the gantry. She peered up and through the blur saw the outline of the abomination perched above, the chunky barrel swinging back and forth as he tried to locate her heat-signature, now camouflaged by the frigid water.

    She waited a few more moments as the level rose; closer, closer, now. She swam to a point behind the cybernetic and surfaced. The sea level had risen enough and she hauled herself out of the water and rolled onto the gantry. Then she was on her feet and activated her lightsaber.

    D’harhan spun at the sound. Maya rushed towards him. Then the cyber-warrior did something odd. He turned away from Maya as if flinching from her incoming blow. Her momentary confusion ended a fraction too late as she realised what he was doing.

    The armoured tail swung round in a whiplash from his torso’s movement. Maya’s legs were smacked out from beneath her and she landed on her back, knocking the air from her lungs. She rolled aside as the segmented whip smashed towards her again, this time in a vertical strike. It dented the metal gantry where she had been a moment before. She flipped to her feet then somersaulted backwards as yet another swing of the tail lashed inches from her face.

    Maya paused and D’harhan charged, right arm swinging like a club. She ducked under the intended blow then thrust forward with her lightsaber. Using the momentum of the cybernetic against him, the tip of her blade drove into the armoured barrel of his torso. Layers of durasteel peeled back as the energy weapon sank deeper. There was a pop and fizz and then the charging machine-creature crumpled. His brain was in the torso. Maya withdrew her lightsaber as D’harhan toppled to the gantry. The red eye-orbs extinguished.

    Maya caught her breath, sensing the life-force of D’harhan fizzle out. My first kill. She felt numb for a moment as the realisation settled in her heart. Then her thoughts moved on. A battle was raging on overhead. This was far from over. Something Flint had claimed popped up in her memory and she said out loud, “Who says you can’t duel a laser cannon?”

    Water slushed around Maya’s knees as the sub sank with increasing speed. In moments it was past her waist and she was forced to swim. Concern turned to panic as she felt her body dragged downwards by the sinking vessel’s irresistible downwash…

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  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Quite a confrontation there! And a close thing for Maya, too. Definitely kind of lucky that this... being's brain turned out to be in his torso (and thus hittable by a nice lightsaber thrust). Though it's rather concerning the way these echoes of Flint still seem to hang around Maya at every step—she's even finding herself talking and thinking like him at this critical juncture, at least a bit! Well, one can learn something from everyone, I guess. For now, though, she'd better think fast, or it's Davy Jones's Locker for her! :eek:
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  25. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 26, 2016
    @Findswoman Yeah, looking back, that scene and dialogue with Flint kind of set up the whole story... Which makes me happy because I created that part (it didn't happen in the RPG lol)​
    Chapter 12

    MAYA KICKED FOR HER LIFE. The dim light descended into darkness as she was dragged deeper underwater by the current. She managed to swim clear from the portal of the open blast doors, but could not muster the strength to move against the down-swell. Then her heart skipped a beat as a huge shape loomed in the murk.

    The teenager reached for her lightsaber as the sea monster closed in on her, knowing she would be desperately disadvantaged in any fight here, in its shadowy domain. But as its head became visible, she recognised the blunt face of an aiwha. It hooted and now she was sure it was the cetacean that had first carried her to Black Talon Point. It halted beside her, allowing her to grab onto its neck and slide legs over its back. Then with a push from its great wings it thrust upwards. Maya held on, eyes closed as its mighty muscles powered them through the gloom. Finally, with a rush of adrenalin and cold wind, she knew they had broken the surface and were airbourne.

    Maya gulped in air and dared to open her eyes. Battle raged across the platforms and circling walkways of Tipoca City. Squadrons of clone troopers exchanged blasts in frenzied close-range firefights with the androids. The aiwha squawked and dived towards a lower platform away from the fighting. She spotted Jiisama there, waving them down. The pad was now deserted, the other cetaceans having fled the battle, but the aged Kaminoan shuffled over. He smiled as Maya dismounted.

    “Told you I would be looking out for you, little Jedi.”

    “Thank you, Jiji,” she managed between trembling breaths.

    “And I believe this faithful one has been seeking you, too.”

    Jiisama stepped aside and a familiar green-and-white droid rolled up.

    “Tio! Am I glad to see you…”

    Tio interrupted with a stream of beeps. He reached an appendage towards her belt. Maya understood and said, “My comlink? Oh, I switched it off.”

    She thumbed it on and a mess of static-muffled signals competed over one another: “501-Actual: Hab-sector secure. Think they might be pulling back.”

    “Hold there, Actual. The sub’s down: They’ve got nowhere to retreat to!”

    “Roger that. Recon-20; advance on sector 5!”

    Explosions and a chorus of blaster whines crackled in the background. Maya hoped her early warning and actions had turned the battle in the Republic’s favour. Suddenly a new signal barked, “ARC-3-1 here: We got 2, no 3 battalions converging on sector 3. We need back-up!”

    “ARC-3-1? That’s Flint!” said Maya. She thumbed the comlink, “This is Maya Qwan to ARC-3-1. Where are you?”

    “Commander Qwan? You’re alive! We’re at the training arena.”

    “On my way,” sent Maya. “Come on Tio!"

    She thanked Jiisama again then dashed through the corridoors, retracing her steps from earlier. Tio trundled along behind as fast as he could go. She passed burned and disintegrated bodies of legionnaire droids and clone soldiers, the dark emotions of battle swirling like a miasma. Black claws of fear, anger, violence clutched at the back of her mind. She skidded to a halt when she reached the corridoor that looked down upon the simulated rockscape of the training arena.

    Through the blaster-scorched transparisteel she spotted pockets of clone troopers holding off an equal number of androids. The Republic soldiers seemed to be well dug in, but Flint was right: Several units of Mandalore’s army had converged at this point.

    “The rest of the assault was a feint?” she murmured. “The objective is here.”

    She saw Flint’s team sheltering behind boulders not far from her position and flicked the comlink again.

    “Qwan to ARC-3-1. I’m right above you. Can you get to the turbolift?”

    She saw Flint’s helmet turn towards her. He saluted, then the three clones dashed towards the lift pipe she had indicated. A moment later they clambered out. Maya was once again confronted with three, much more scarred helmets.

    Flint said, “We’ve got them penned in front of that main entrance, but they’re trying to break out to these upper levels. What do they want?”

    “I think they’re trying to get to the genetic control centre,” said Maya.

    Blanco nodded, “It’s shielded against bombardment. They can only blow it from the inside. They destroy that it’ll put the Republic back years.”

    Flint looked her up and down. “Are you alright, Ma’am?”

    She looked down at her bruised and cut limbs. “I’ll live.”

    “No, I mean are you alright up here?” the warrior tapped the side of his helmet.

    Maya’s hands trembled. “I don’t know, Flint. Ask me again later.”

    “Something is happening!” reported Marker. The scout was watching the battle.

    They looked across the battlefield and Maya spotted Mandalore. An electronic voice was counting down through the arena’s PA system and the mercenary general was checking a vambrace-mounted datapad. Maya strained to listen over the roar of battle.

    “4… 3… 2… 1… Niorde protocol execute,” announced the synthetic voice. Maya and the members of ARC-3-1 watched, stunned, as half of the clone troopers in the arena stopped fighting, turned, and attacked their own brothers…

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