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Complete Detachment (Star Wars Prequel SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by 9adam4, Feb 1, 2019.

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  1. Belenus

    Belenus Not too sore, are you?

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    Absolutely agree with this.

    Another alternative would be VI, a program that can pretend to be intelligent, but can't actually adapt or learn.
     
  2. BastetsChosen

    BastetsChosen Came back the very next day

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    Isn't that projecting organic values on the driods, though? If the droids are manufactured to value being used as fodder, just as the ship enjoys helping its owner, then isn't hving it fight that way allowing the war droid to experience the best possible life it would prefer? The answer may be in not requiring the droids act as fodder, so those that grow to have other desires aren't forced to discard them.

    Or are you assuming that Star Wars droids generally take on most human priorities? Certainly the history of driod rebellions suggests that AI desires and the work they're employeed in often don't match up.
     
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  3. mossconfig

    mossconfig (verified stale bread)

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    Leaving aside all the droids that are dissatisfied with their condition and rebel or flee, humans can be conditioned to behave certain ways. If I had children and groomed them for sex to the point where that's what they wanted would allowing that be moral? No. Remove the child from that environment and hope that the manipulation becomes apparent. That's what I was trying to show when I talked about how children behave in abusive environments.

    Striving for freedom is something we are taught, not intrinsically human. We can and should teach that to droids too.
     
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  4. Threadmarks: Ch. 52 - Caveat Emptor
    9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    Myren smoothed down his thin shirt under the pilot jacket that he found himself wearing. He kept glancing over at my own clothes with bald curiosity.

    "You really need a second person," I explained, "to operate it manually. Helm control has heading and acceleration, but thruster attitude, roll and yaw, even engine control are at this second station here. Very little redundancy."

    "So if it's just me, I'm gonna be reliant on the ship itself to keep things going," he sighed.

    "May I offer a comment?" The calm voice of the ship came over the speakers.

    "Sure, yeah," Myren said. "You don't need permission to say something… Hey, do you have a name other than 'ship'?"

    "I do not. Other instances have taken on the name of the ship itself, or one based on their assigned holographic avatar."

    "You have a holographic avatar?" I asked.

    "I have the ability to operate one. However, the holographic avatar is an optional feature that has not been installed on this unit."

    "Anyway, what was it you wanted to say?" Myren asked.

    "I can manage any aspect of ship's navigation that you do not wish to concern yourself with. However, it would not be difficult to adjust the manual control hardware for a single pilot."

    The Seer nodded. "Nice of you to offer. I think it's fine as-is for now."

    "I've taken the liberty," the ship added, "to prepare a premium cabin for your use. How did you wish the remaining ship space to be configured?"

    I exchanged a look with Myren before responding. "How is it configured now?"

    "Three large crew cabins, thirty-four small passenger cabins, a primary cargo hold, and numerous hidden holds."

    "Smuggling, right," the old man smiled.

    "The previous owner did not activate me, and so I am uncertain of their use. Concealment does appear to be the key feature."

    "Why don't we take a look?"

    As Master Selbek and I made our way aft, I sensed his attention on me again. He observed, "You move as naturally in that outfit as you do in your Jedi robes."

    I nodded. "Simon is a well-developed cover of mine."

    "As is your Jedi Knight persona," he observed wryly.

    "What do you mean?"

    "When you wear those robes, it's just a different role you're playing, isn't it." He didn't really say it as a question.

    I frowned, giving the observation real thought. "It might have been, years ago. But while I don't always see myself as a member of the Order, I do see myself as a Jedi. I've made obligations and relationships based on that identity, so it's plenty real to me."

    "Rumor is that you're forming family attachments."

    I nodded. "As plenty of Jedi do, even if the Order frowns on it."

    I felt his concern - tinged with a bittersweet recollection, some sort of nostalgia - as he said, “A lot of men and women strong in the Force, never live up to their potential because of that sort of thing.”

    I gave him a glance as we stood at the door to one of the small passenger rooms that the ship had marked for us, but didn’t say anything.

    “It doesn’t seem like it makes any difference, when you do it,” he continued, and his mind still seemed half on memory rather than me. “But it does. Attachments cloud your mind and… clutter, is how I think of it… your connection to the Force. It’s like building a circuit with gunk on your fingers.” He mimed picking something up. “Certain things stick to you, and they end up in the way when you’re trying to grab something else.” He wiggled his hand rapidly although trying to dislodge something. “Sticky, can’t get ‘em off. Right?”

    I nodded again. “Affinity to certain mental states, certain emotional states. You’re saying that just like hate or anger warps your connection to the Force, attracting and reinforcing the Dark Side, attachments do the same."

    "Maybe not as much, but yes." He eyed me in my merc outfit again, and I felt his mind brush mine. "Just remember, as Jedi we have training and allies not available to anyone else. There is a lot you can learn and do with them. Don't throw that away."

    I silently acknowledged his words, but I was ready to move on. "Ship? Where's the secret compartment?"

    I was expecting a hatch to open, perhaps in the wall or floor. I wasn't expecting the whole chamber to disconnect from the floor and lift up, furniture attached to the walls as though one piece. It retracted above us, and we were left staring at a cargo hold that appeared to run almost the entire length of the ship, with small cubes dotted along the walls to mark the area offset for the passenger chambers.

    And the shelves weren't empty. Almost as one, Myren and I stepped forward to examine the temperature-controlled containers, each one easily two hundred kilos. The readout on the closest one confirmed my worst fear.

    Looking up and down the hold at the shelves full of identical containers, I traded a panicked glance with the older Seer. He was the one who finally said it.

    "That's a whole lot of spice."
     
  5. onewhiteconehat

    onewhiteconehat Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    And I dont mean Paprika or Oregano.





    Isnt spice a Light sensitive Psychoactive addicting compound?
    They should have been covered in sparkles of activated spice the moment they opened the compartment.
     
  6. Ashaeron

    Ashaeron Getting sticky.

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    It's in boxes.
     
  7. Redhawk

    Redhawk Getting out there.

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    I guess it’s time to party.
     
  8. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    The next chapter is just the four Jedi laying around, giggling, with a Hutt and a half dozen Ewoks for some reason.
     
  9. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Reminds me of one of the vague Star Wars AU ideas that I think I've seen, which was a partial fusion with Dune (planets with spice production were hotly contested in the clone was, and Luke might have had blue-on-blue eyes). Not sure how much of that description is from something I read, and how much from my own mind, so I can't offer a link.
     
  10. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    This is an interesting and thorny issue. Both whether it is moral to build a creature with self-destructive impulses, and whether to honor those impulses (either in creatures designed to have them or those who develop them procedurally).

    I'm hoping to have a few more scenes that explore some differences between droid and organic thinking, including interactions between Sarah and Shmi in "Capture and Release." There's a lot more to that droid than I have described so far.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Ch. 53 - Riding Dirty
    9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    We met Dooku and Olana at the hatch. My Padawan had shed her "Kelly" outfit (ship knits with traveling boots) for a scholar outfit more in line with her surface cover for Rago. If we hadn't hit a snag with the ship's cargo, the three of us would already be on our way there in my smaller converted freighter.

    But seeing Master Dooku in his Count clothing was an uncomfortable callback for me… or maybe a call forward. Other than the substitute of a metal dueling sword at his hip rather than a lightsaber blade, he looked every bit, from boots to severe-cut suit to swirling cape, the Count that I had seen working with the Separatists after leaving the Jedi Order before his story faded from the focus of the movies entirely. The view honestly made me more uneasy than I understood; the character was an object lesson in the follies of the Order, sure, but why did I have such a visceral reaction to such a minor figure?

    I made a mental note, just then, to probe Dooku's place in my memories further.

    "The ship seems nice enough, if dated," Dooku looked around with approval. "What couldn't be explained over the comm? There's no one else near us in orbit."

    "Contraband," I explained simply as we moved down towards the secret hold. "The last owner was smuggling around seventeen tons of filtered but unprocessed ryll."

    "Ryll is spice?" Olana asked.

    "It's one kind of spice," Myren clarified. "There are a few different street drugs that you inhale to get high. Ryll's nowhere near the worst, but it can still be dangerously psychoactive when properly cooked."

    "It's also used in several potent medicines, is it not?" Dooku pointed out. He imperiously wiped a gloved finger across one of the container control panels, coming away with a grey fingertip.

    "It is," I agreed. "I wish we could just sell the stuff to a pharma corp. But, because of the black market, the legitimate uses have extremely well-monitored supply chains."

    "Those are to detect ryll being smuggled out, not in," Dooku rejoindered. "I am certain there are mechanisms in place for entities to acquire ingredients from less reputable sources."

    Myren chuckled. "Didn't expect to hear that sort of thing from you, Count. Aren't Council Members supposed to uphold the law?"

    Dooku returned a faint smile. "The Council upholds the law. The Council Members support the Order. And I'm no count yet, Master Selbek."

    The Seer shook his head. "Wish there'd been more like you on the Council when I was a young knight," he muttered. "I can think of a couple'a people to ask about off-loading this much, but not in the short time we have. And the old plan is out of the question, now; eighty different ways for it to explode in our faces with this stuff in the hold."

    "Are there any space ports in this sector that would hold it for us without reporting us to Galactic enforcement?" Olana asked.

    "None that I would trust to give it back," Myren shrugged. "Again, I could probably strike a deal to hide it with a friend… several days travel from here."

    "Then I suggest," Dooku nodded to the older Master, "that you take that time. Delay the introduction of 'Mintu the Smuggler' until you've either safely stored or, preferably, ethically sold the spice. Then join us."

    "If I may comment on this course of action?" the ship's voice echoed strangely around the hold.

    "Yeah, ship, I already said to do that," Myren snapped.

    "The original plan called for Captain Selbek to make a single short hyperspace jaunt to Rago, and then conduct local operations in tandem with Simon, Kelly, and not-Count Dooku on Obi-wan's vessel," the ship began.

    "That was the plan," I agreed.

    "I am unclear if Obi-wan is included in this plan, as he has not boarded this vessel. However, the stated procedure was reasonable because the Captain's time alone aboard this ship was short. For longer operations, such as the clandestine transport of restricted substances over multiple sectors without appropriate legal licensure, a minimum crew of two is strongly urged."

    "I can handle myself fine," Myren responded, his spike of irritation blunted by good-natured amusement.

    "Even so," the ship said, "I would… prefer… two crew for such an undertaking."

    The Seer nodded at that. "Smart machine, phrasing it as a request," he mused.

    "I shall accompany you," Dooku offered. "Should your contacts prove elusive, we can approach mine."

    We moved out of the hold, drifting slowly toward the bridge as we talked. I asked, "So, how should we modify our cover? We can't be a lord's clerk and bodyguard without a lord."

    "Why not?" Olana asked. "Couldn't the lord have sent me ahead to look at the merchandise on his behalf?"

    "Possible," I agreed. "But I'm not sure we'd be invited into the conversations we are hoping to have."

    Dooku nodded. "Better to leave the lord out of it, have Olana working directly for Obi-wan in some capacity. I assume you can affect the mannerisms of a wealthy businessman?"

    "Clarification," the ship suddenly interjected. "Obi-wan is an alias for Simon, correct?"

    *****

    By the time we parted ways more than an hour later, half my wardrobe and a third of my small arms had been transferred to the new ship, which for registration purposes I had named the Amistad. (The ship was invited to choose a name for himself whenever he was ready.) Master Dooku assured me that he had enough credits with him to cover unexpected expenses, but out of earshot of the others, I provided the ship access to a small anonymous account that would be good on any world with a Muun banking presence.

    The Amistad left orbit first, heading in the direction of the nearest clear point for entering the hyperlanes, but the Mara Jade followed not long after. I'd had Olana plot the two hyper-jumps to Rago as an exercise, although she double-applied the dilation coefficient on the second jump and I'd had to explain the correction.

    "Why doesn't the nav-comp do this part?" Olana scowled at the pad again as we flew through higher-dimensional space. "A machine won't make a mistake like that."

    "The computer doesn't know where we want to go," I reminded her. "Most good comps, including this one, have the standard lane jumps built in, but other than checking for known collisions, it's better to have our eyes on it any time we're off those routes. Note that the comp is still doing the majority of the work; we're basically just charting a handful of coordinates so it has a detailed route to calculate from."

    She nodded. "Yeah, I get all that. It's just easier when Artoo or Annie are around; they actually enjoy this stuff…. Well, Annie does, anyway. Artoo wouldn't call it 'enjoyment,' would he?"

    "Probably not. Did you ever get a straight answer out of him as to why he still prefers 'him' to 'it,' despite insisting he's not actually male?"

    "Yes, actually." Olana toggled a couple of relays, confirmed that a detected anomaly wasn't close enough to throw us off course. "The Binary was a bit jumbled, but it came out to meeting our expectations. He said we will listen and treat him differently as a 'he' than we would as a 'she' or an 'it,' either one."

    "Probably true," I agreed. "Even leaving aside insidious prejudices on our parts, just knowing that he presents himself that way informs us on some level on what role he wants to have when interacting with us."

    "With my background, the whole idea that we're still stuck treating people differently like that is… disappointing."

    I took a moment to look at my Padawan's face. Her mind was as locked down as ever, and her expression showed only a hint of concern. Olana had turned herself into a Jedi, through and through, and could have been born on Coruscant based on her accent or mannerisms. But she began her life on Kegan, under a society with a sharp and absolute delineation of gender roles. Being born a woman on that planet would have restricted many of her opportunities.

    "A role," I began, slowly, "isn't always about limiting people's freedoms. Sometimes it's a way of understanding what we want from each other."

    Olana nodded. "I think I get what you mean, but, examples?"

    "The best examples would be voluntary arrangements, like marriage. On one of the Core Worlds, I mean, not as a proxy for permanent indenture. People choose to get married because it's a commitment to treat the other person a certain way: to hold them as closer than others, and to save certain behaviors - like physical intimacy and raising children - for them alone."

    "Infidelity is still quite common across many species, including humans," Olana pointed out.

    “People break all sorts of agreements, certainly. But the roles set expectations, even if we often don’t meet them.” I paused for a moment, before adding, “The apprenticeship role is another good example. Even outside the specific culture of the Jedi, the pupil agrees to follow and assist the master, who agrees to provide for and train the student. It sets a tone for the relationship - respect, trust, mutual support.”

    “And it sets boundaries to the relationship, too,” Olana noted. “An apprentice striking out on her own, or wanting a… different relationship with her master, like a.... partnership,” she swallowed, “would have to break the apprenticeship first.”

    The tension had risen in the room, despite her still keeping her mind tightly behind powerful shielding.

    “Are you ready to talk about this? About what the General said to you, about you and me?” I finally asked. I was hoping it would slice through the tension, but it rose higher, as seconds turned to minutes without a response.

    “Not yet,” she finally said. “Not with you, Master. It… I have to work this out, myself, before I can bring it to you.”

    “I hope you’re aware that it doesn’t anger me,” I made myself add quickly. “Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you want, even if I don’t want the same or can’t agree, I will still care about you. I will still want to be a part of your life and growth, regardless.”

    “I know,” she breathed, and then softly, almost to herself, “That makes it harder.”

    We kept our silence until we were in sight of Rago.
     
  12. Redhawk

    Redhawk Getting out there.

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    Poor Olana. She’s so mature and not mature at the same time, it’s hard to know how to treat her. Here’s hoping Obi-wan doesn’t fuck this up!
     
  13. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    Look, I've already said that isn't going to happen. That's not the direction I'll be taking the characters, and besides which -

    Oh! Oh, right. Yes, exactly. Carry on.
     
  14. Bellcross

    Bellcross Plot is king

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    Ahh ha so you admit it, well at least a part of you has thought about a the possibility of a relationship beyond master and padewon between those 2...
     
  15. Newbl

    Newbl Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I guess most of them haven't heard of the Iron Knights of Dweem...
     
  16. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    Does anyone know what year the humans on Orax discover that the Shards are sapient?
     
  17. Newbl

    Newbl Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Wiki-walking hasn't given a precise date, but interpreting "Last few decades of the Galactic Republic" suggests it was after 100 BBY.
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Ch. 54 - Rago
    9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    The surface of Rago reminded me superficially of Mars. The atmosphere was too thin for most humanoid species, including the native Ragoans, and little moisture made it to the surface either. The biosphere had adopted to life underground a million or so years ago, and even the imposition of galactic commerce had only modernized the massive caverns that Olana and I now found ourselves walking in.

    Much of the local Galactic community stayed near the spaceport, which was one of the few structures that extended above the ground, but our contact was farther in. I glanced at Olana, whose stern and focused expression matched well her scholar's robes. Her mind was extended, touching the thoughts of those we passed even as we moved from a thoroughfare containing mostly non-locals to a narrower series of tunnels in which few non-Ragoans were present.

    The Ragoans were stout mammals - barely taller than R2-D2 - whose most prominent feature was their broad digging paws, tipped with long claws that matched their carnivore-like teeth. Their long snouts below small eyes gave them a beastly look, belying their social nature and keen perception. Few made it off-world, and I'd only ever met two: both of them kind, generous, and polite to a fault. I was trying (and failing) not to generalize my personal experiences to the species as a whole, and the odd and pointed looks we were getting from the locals were helping.

    "Do Ragoans speak Galactic Standard?" Olana asked.

    I nodded. "They've mostly adopted Galactic technology rather than developing their own, so they teach their schools in Standard. I was given to believe that languages are easy for them, so most of them speak it."

    She frowned as a crowd of furry bodies heading the opposite direction parted around the two of us magically. Many pairs of eyes met ours as we continued down the tunnel.

    "They don't seem very talkative," Olana said. "Nobody's said a word to us since we landed."

    "They consider it a deep insult to pry into someone else's business without an invitation," I said. "KelPellaPel told me that if your things scattered everywhere in a tunnel on Rago, not a single person would stop to help… unless you said something. Then every single adult would stop to see what you needed."

    "So they're ignoring us to be polite."

    "Yes. Ah, here we are. Lights on." I touched the emitter strapped to my forehead, adding a pale green glow to the weak red illumination provided within the tunnel. Olana followed my lead, activating her own headlamp as we veered to the side of the tunnel. The door said "Wet Fur and Friends" in Standard; it swung inward as we approached.

    Despite the lack of chairs or stools and the ridiculously low height of the tables, it still felt like a pub, the same as any other land-based social species would have. Four natives stood around one such circular table, each sipping from a clear cup of glowing green.

    As we maneuvered around the spaced tables, a male with two empty cups in one clawed hand made his way from the other end of the long room. The five alien minds all radiated curiosity, tinged with a guarded wariness.

    Just before the male would have passed the single occupied table, a glance among its patrons resulted in a physical shift, two spaces opening where none had been before. The server nodded and sat the empty glasses at their places, waiting for us to make our way there.

    "Arrived today," I began, as I approached the two available places. "A brief stop on a pleasure trip. How are all of you?"

    My greeting spiked a small amount of concern in two of the four customers, and more wariness in the server.

    "Things are dry in here," the male replied in the deep sub-bass rumble of his kind, which always surprised me coming from bodies half our size. "How shall I fill your glasses?" I sensed anticipation as he awaited my response.

    "An old root cider," I met his eyes, giving the first part of the code written into the Jedi documents for this assignment. "If you sell them."

    "How old?" The server's wariness was dropping, and his companions also seemed relieved.

    "A Proving vintage if you have it," I gave the correct countersign.

    "You two are the Jedi, then?" The female to my left asked, causing Olana and I to bristle. "Be at peace; we are the ones who sent for you."

    The server had slipped into a back room long enough to trigger the front door of the establishment to close and lock. He rumbled loudly from back there, "I'm repeating the question, what can I pour you?"

    I exchanged a look with Olana. "Root cider sounds good, if humans can drink it."

    "I am SillTillaNillesse," the female said, holding her paws with claws down in a way I understood was roughly the same as a smile. "This are WexHexelle, PimaTimmitPim, RorroNor." She nodded to each in turn.

    "And I'm DiffBriffertKiff," said the server, who had arrived back at the table with a long carafe of bubbling black liquid that he promptly poured into both our glasses. "Single syllables are fine, so Sill, Wex, Pim, Nor, and Diff for me."

    I nodded, taking a sip from the glass. It was very much like rootbeer, but with an undertaste of black licorice. "Should we maintain our cover here, or -"

    "You're Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker," Sill interrupted. "No need for the pretense with us."

    "Actually, no," I maintained my level tone. "I am Obi-wan, yes, but this is my apprentice, Olana Chion."

    Confusion and distress was the dominant reaction from the five. "We were given to believe," Pim said, "that Anakin Skywalker was your apprentice. A powerful Force-user, and ex-slave besides."

    Olana's emotions were as locked behind her shields as ever, but I knew her well enough not to miss the stillness that went through her at this. "Rumors sometimes miss the mark," I observed.

    "Distaste for sophont trafficking," Olana added, "is not limited to former slaves. You'll find us quite motivated to help."

    Five snouts turned sharply downward and five pairs of eyes fixed on Olana. Their emotions were excited and pleased.

    "Objections?" Pim asked, and made eye contact with the others at the table in turn. Finding none, he turned to Diff. "Show them the Den." And to us, "We will speak later."
     
  19. Threadmarks: Ch. 55 - Lord Jerome
    9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    "The Underground," Diff explained as we moved slowly if steadily down the dark passage, "is the closest thing the Ragoans have to a government in these parts. But they're nothing like what you're used to. And they weren't equipped to deal with the Vosadii kajidic when it arrived."

    "Kajidic," Olana repeated, "so there's a Hutt behind this?"

    "Not one on the planet, praise the Force," he rumbled. "Klatooinians are in charge, but they've been very vocal about their boss."

    "Soergg," I nodded.

    "You have encountered him before?"

    "No, but I'm familiar with his reputation." It was still a decade before Anakin and I were to encounter the bossban on nearby Ansion. "Heavy use of assassins, and little qualms stepping into planetary politics."

    "Isn't that true of most Hutts?" Olana asked.

    I shook my head. "Different kajidics deal differently. It's a common pattern among the Hutts that end up confronted by Jedi, but that's the exception rather than the rule."

    "And it appears to be a rule the operation is obeying here," Diff supplied. He stopped and turned to face us. "We've not encountered much violence, or even threats, from the Vosadii. They hire locals to manage. Pay them discreetly and very well. It's only the nature of the merchandise that's objectionable."

    "What's the Den?" Olana asked, nodding to a hatch closing off a side tunnel.

    The male's claws manipulated the latch, allowing the double door to hinge outward. We followed him into the narrower tunnel. "The Den is a tradition stretching far back into our history." Diff blinked solemnly. "About one in a thousand Ragoans are born with an abnormality we call Skyward Eyes: an extra copy of some genetic material. It interferes with mental development, but leaves the body intact or even promotes size and muscle growth. Skyward Children can still grow into functional adults, but will always be… disadvantaged."

    "Humans have similar disorders," Olana pointed out. "Gene therapies can -"

    "Pardon me, we're aware. We developed medical techniques to address the disorder before we were discovered by the wider Galaxy." He turned his head between us. "The point is about what we used to do with the afflicted."

    Diff stopped at the end of the tunnel, which was not at ground-level, and allowed us to look out around him. Our head-mounted illumination was immediately swallowed in the titanic cavern that lay before us. Bioluminescent plants grew along the cavern sides, with small recesses carved into each vertical surface at different levels. Cages and corrals were the main features in evidence, the huddled figures little more than shadows in the depth. Workers moved between and among the levels, delivering machines and containers of various types.

    The majority of workers in the dim cavern were the low-built locals, with some humans and other species mixed in. I immediately felt the cacophony of minds, from the fear and resignation of those locked in cages to the guarded and weary alertness of those who tended them.

    Having given us a moment to look out across the Den, Diff resumed his explanation. "A tradition was started millennia ago. Clans with greater resources, able to provide more structure and security, would adopt the Skyward Children from clans that didn't want them. This was always presented as being for the childrens' benefit, and was considered very prestigious. But…" he paused, blinking rapidly. "Over time, the tradition became more… mercenary. Certain burrows began treating their Skyward Children more as a source of menial labor than true members of the clan. The Skyward Dens," he swiped a paw outward into the massive space, "ceased to be meeting places to celebrate the children and decide who could best look after them. It became a place to keep, sell, and eventually breed them."

    I nodded. "This isn't an unusual story. Plenty of worlds have come to exploit the differently abled as part of a slave class.'"

    "That doesn't make it any less to our shame. And we were happy to have put it behind us. It's been a hundred and fifty years since any burrow permitted slavery. The Dens were repurposed, or left alone as history."

    "Until now," I prompted.

    Diff spread his claws. "So few star systems are mapped out in this part of the galaxy. It was our misfortune that slavers found several planets further into the Unknown that the Republic has never set foot on. And here, next to a lone planetary spaceport with no visible law enforcement, is an entire infrastructure already built to contain and move slaves."

    "The Underground didn't oppose them?" I frowned.

    "Couldn't," Diff repeated. He handed me a data chit. "Directions to lodging is there. The auction's tomorrow, but plenty of customers show up today to talk to slavers about particular lots. I'll leave you to it."

    With a nod, Olana and I made our way down the narrow ramp that descended from our entrance to the cave proper. The echoes in the space were dominated by the hums and whirs of machines rather than the vocal pollution of people that usually occupied such a space. As we reached the foot of the ramp, we found a human woman rapidly approaching us, her smile and unguarded mind both telegraphing someone in sales.

    "We have things you want," she greeted politely in Hutteese.

    "We have money if you have goods," I gave an equally polite response in that language, then switched to Standard. "I take it we've found the Den?"

    The young lady immediately transitioned to Standard, albeit with a heavy back-world accent. "You have indeed. You are new to Rago?"

    "Our first time." I extended a hand, which she quickly grasped. "I'm Jerome, and this is Tylah."

    "Sedabah." She gave Olana a polite nod, turning and gesturing for us to follow her. "Welcome. It's a little surprising to see a new face here today; the auctions are tomorrow. Most of those who arrive early are regular customers, or come with their own slaves to exchange."

    "Nothing like that. This was an unplanned stop for us, and I like to make purchases at my own pace." As we made our way along the area, dodging workers and slow-moving vehicles, I noticed lone men and women - mostly human or Bothan - standing near their cages and exchanging appraising looks with Sedabah. I could easily sense the subtext of the exchange: by escorting us as she was, these other salespeople/attendants no longer felt free to approach us.

    I, however, was not so constrained. My attention was grabbed by a cage only slightly above ground-level, and I immediately made to ascend the ramp. A man in front of it - human, at least fifty - gave me a friendly smile as I looked into the cage.

    Past the fine wire netting was a single furry biped, about two feet tall, surrounded by four much smaller specimens that I took to be her children. She soothed them with long delicate hands, even as her exhaustion and terror sang out to me. They sat on the ground, each clutching several eggs, with more eggs piled haphazardly in the cage.

    "Good eye, sir," the human attendant replied as Olana and Sedabah stepped up next to me. "Brovelid matron, still young. The four hatched ones are hers, of course, but the other thirty-eight will imprint on you or me just as easily as her. Clever, energetic. Good for menial and household tasks."

    Time for some theatrics.

    "She's as big as they get?" I asked. The 'matron' had turned her attention on me; I could feel her despair and fear clearly.

    "She's full size, yes," the man agreed. "They don't eat much, compared to how much work you get out of them. And the size makes them easy to train."

    "Was this the sort of thing you were looking for?" Sedabah asked, keeping the frustration I could feel from her out of her voice. "Because, just a little further down, we can -"

    "Tylah." The one word cut off Sedabah's entreaty.

    "My lord?" Olana answered instantly.

    "Will these suffice for the house?" I didn't take my eyes off the matron.

    "If it pleases you, my lord, we had intended to look for twenty-five for the house, and some with kitchen training," my apprentice said with cool deference.

    "I want these for the house. How much?"

    "Ah," the human flailed a bit, "they'll be lot forty-four at auction tomorrow. The bidding will start at four hundred -"

    "Eight hundred, plus delivery fee," I nodded to Olana, who made a small bow as I turned and gestured for Sedabah to lead the way again.

    "My, uh, lord, I'm not - wait, please -" the man started after me, but flinched when Olana - her stern face looking above her steno pad in her scholar's outfit - stepped in front of him.

    "Now, sir, I believe you heard Mr. Jerome as well as I did," she began, as I walked away. "I can authorize payment now, but we need to arrange carriage and shipping costs…"

    "So, uh," I could feel Sedabah mastering herself as she recalibrated her sense of my worth; the word 'lord' had sent her imagination soaring when Olana spoke it. "As I was saying, is that the sort of merchandise you're looking for?"

    "Not primarily, no," I said. "Tylah has the specifics, but we're looking for a thousand miners, preferably radiation-resistant. And a contract for replacement."

    "A dangerous mine?" She asked casually. "Remote planet?"

    "I won't be going into the specifics," I gave a non-apologetic apology. "Tylah has the exact requirements, and we brought hard currency."

    "Yes, about that," Sedabah jumped in, "you're aware that eight hundred peggats is roughly four thousand credits? That's… significantly more than a family of house servants would usually run."

    "Oh?" I cocked my head, then shrugged. "No matter. It's well within the budget. Saving a few credits is seldom worth the haggle."

    And with that, I had her.
     
  20. TheEyes

    TheEyes Versed in the lewd.

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    Yes, I imagine that would.
     
  21. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    Are... people still reading?

    Recent chapters have a lot fewer comments than I used to get. Maybe my pacing is too slow?
     
  22. Belenus

    Belenus Not too sore, are you?

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    Clearly you need to add some kind of cute fuzzy mascot for increased engagement. Ewoks, porgs, or Baby Yoda should work.
     
  23. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    I'm thinking a couple of clumsy Gungans should do.
     
  24. mossconfig

    mossconfig (verified stale bread)

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    I mean, the sfw section on qq is a ghost town. It's an interesting story, but it's posted where nobody can read it.
     
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  25. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    I should repost on SV, then? Or somewhere else?
     
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  26. mossconfig

    mossconfig (verified stale bread)

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    Share your work dude. Audience participation will keep you engaged in the story. Post everywhere.
     
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  27. 9adam4

    9adam4 No emotion, only "peace"

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    I just don't know where these sorts of things are supposed to be posted. I only know QQ or SV from following With this Ring around.
     
  28. Sceptic

    Sceptic Critical Irrationalist

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    You could try SB or fanfiction.net or fiction.live or ao3 or other such sites as well. Posting a bit more regularly may help too. Or sprinkle a few obvious typos for people to correct ;)

    Take some comfort in the number of likes you have received, and don't necessarily worry too much if people don't feel the need to comment on or argue about every chapter, especially if nothing hugely exciting is happening in it.

    Meesa thinkying whysa you stop at two‽ Moy moy Gungans would bring lotsa and lotsa bombad fans, okiday?
     
  29. TheEyes

    TheEyes Versed in the lewd.

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    Spacebattles (SB), Sufficient Velocity (SV) and Alternate History (AH) are all more populated on the SFW side; Questionable Questing (QQ) essentially exists to be the spillover from those three sites, and most people only come here for the NSFW section which has much more liberal rules than the first three sites. If you want a larger audience for a SFW fanfiction you'd probably be better off cross-posting to one or all of those sites.

    To be brutally honest, the only reason Mr Zoat posts WTR here is because he's been banned from all three of those sites, the inevitable result of believing that his right to say whatever he wants in a public forum also gives him the right to piss off the owners of private forums, loudly proclaiming controversial views on sensitive political matters in the non-political sections of those forums and indignantly insisting on repeating them when moderators tell him to knock it off. The man is a thoughtful, prolific, and very thorough writer, but is also a very unfortunate mix of opinionated, prideful, and impolitic, which tends to get him in trouble.
     
  30. Belenus

    Belenus Not too sore, are you?

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    Based on what I've seen of your writing thus far, you would not fit well on SV. They're the least reasonable of the SB-sphere and have a tendency towards holiness spirals. If you want increased engagement, SB is your best bet, nothing in this fic will be a problem there. Just be aware that with a larger audience comes more shit-flinging. It will happen no matter what site you go to, but SB is especially aggressive.
     
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