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Officer of the Republic (A SW SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by GSpectre, Jan 4, 2017.

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  1. Ame

    Ame Know what you're doing yet?

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    Yay! Looking forward to seeing more of this again!
     
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  2. SerbobIV

    SerbobIV Know what you're doing yet?

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    Great to read this again. Will be interesting to see how the jedi deal with the war fleet they find on their hands.
     
  3. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    The expression 'you aren't half dumb' usually means that the person being spoken about is all dumb. The meaning might be clearer if you took out the 'half'.
    Patience.
    This doesn't flow quite right. I suggest 'I have no doubt we'd be rather good at it' or 'no doubt be rather good at it'.
     
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  4. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Huh. In the US, the expression 'you aren't half bad' generally means 'you're pretty good.' I guess it doesn't apply the same way when 'dumb' is used (or Britain uses it the opposite of how the US does).
     
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  5. GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Fixed the second two, left the first alone as its idiomatic and may be a regional thing. Thank you for the corrections.
     
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  6. Threadmarks: 3.3
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Ori awoke slowly, his head felt like he had wrapped it in cotton and then slammed it into the walls of the Serenity multiple times. He grimaced and centered himself, trying to figure out just why he felt so off. Not being a naturally light sleeper, it took a minute for him to clear his mind and then he rolled over to look at the crono mounted on the wall. That caused him to grimace. According to it he had been out for the better part of three days, although he knew he hadn’t been sleeping that whole time. With a sigh he levered himself up and went to the fresher to get a shower. It seemed that he had taken one just before he crashed but from the way he felt he knew he had been asleep long enough to build up a film of filth, something he abhorred.

    By the time he got out of the Fresher he felt like a Twi’lek again, a thinking being rather than a mess of jumbled contradictory impulses. Looking over his bunk in distaste he stripped the sheets and replaced them, shoving the old ones into his laundry bag before taking it to the ship’s laundry. That took another couple of minutes but by the time it was complete he felt almost ready to face the day. Considering it was still very early morning according to the ships clock he simply started the laundry cycle and then made his way to the kitchen for some Caf. Without Caf he never was truly ready to face the day. Others in the order might criticizes him for his habit, but it was a holdover from his last life and he wasn’t inclined to give up more of who he had been to please them. Especially since he was hardly the only Jedi to have a morning ritual to center himself. Most did, even if they refused to acknowledge just what they were.

    Taking his first cup, and setting the carafe within easy reach, he savoured the bitter taste of the Caf with closed eyes. It wasn’t quite coffee but it was close enough for government work. Certainly, better than some of the dreck that was served in fast food restaurants in his last life. Pouring himself another cup he pulled his data pad to him with the Force, and was surprised by how easily that action came to him. He usually got up and walked to his pad, especially in the morning, so this disruption in his routine made him suspicious. The Force was clearly at work here and he did not like it.

    Opening the pad and looking over his notes Ori could feel his jaw dropping. They made no sense! The words, taken as individual unit’s, were clear enough but when they were combined into sentences, he didn’t comprehend just what they meant. It was clear he had been looking at something to do with accounting, the mentions of accounts, escrow, and payments received he could decipher easily enough, but he lacked the training to read through this dense, technical jargon filled, set of notes and put it into basic so that a lay person could understand it. He had clearly written it, his distinct spelling errors and the constant presence of homonyms were a glaring tip off to that, but he didn’t understand it. Something that put him edge more then the earlier disruption to his morning routine had. Silently he resolved to do something about this, he might not be knowledgeable enough in the Force to resolve just why it was coming so easily to him this morning, but he could figure out just what he had been doing over the last couple of days.

    “I need a translator,” Ori spoke aloud for the first time that day. “No, I need training in accounting for the moment all I can get access to is a translator.” Pouring himself another cup of Caf he pulled up the ships status and checked if his Master had left him any instructions when he crashed. It seemed that he was in the clear for the moment, but that would change when his Master woke up. Worrying his lip Ori connected his pad to the planetary net and rand a quick search. If he didn’t understand this, and needed it translated, then his best course of action would be to find a translator. Of course, that proved to be the wrong thought when he contemplated it for a moment. He cleared his search, ignoring the com listings for accounting firms he had pulled up. This was an official Judicial investigation, while he had the credits to hire a skilled accountant to decipher what he had put down, and the accounts themselves, due to their earlier sale of the accounting droids it would not do to pull in an unvetted and uninvolved party. It would taint the evidence.

    Actually, that gave him an idea. He didn’t need an organic, he needed a droid. Cursing himself for not having the foresight to keep one of their cargo on hand in case they needed it at a later date he went looking for a professional droid shop. Given this was a world which had an expansive banking sector there had to be a thriving market for droids to help out the accountants. He would just need to find one and then purchase what he needed from there. Refining his search and looking up the best shops for accounting droids took another twenty minutes but by the time he was done with his pot of Caf he had an answer. It wouldn’t be cheap but he could solve this issue before his Master woke up and began to question him on just what the hell had happened.

    Ori refilled the Caf maker then tried to figure out the best way to go about accomplishing what he wanted to. Silently he made his way back towards his bunk, making only a minor diversion to open the ships safe and pull out the credits with. He paused for a moment and then with a nod pulled out both of his carry blasters for his captain persona. He wouldn’t be doing this as a Padawan after all, best to make sure he looked and acted the part. It only took him a few more moments to get the rest of his costume on, and call an air speeder. Then he was on his way towards the shop he had picked out earlier.

    Most shops were closed this early in the morning, and the traffic in the air was sparse to put it mildly, but those droid shops closer to the financial districts were always open. It was a function of the banks being open twenty-seven hours a day to serve their clients throughout the galaxy. If something came up then they would need access to a droid shop and so the droid shops also stayed open. Good luck for him, or the will of the force as a more traditional Jedi would put it. Finding his destination took no time, the mapping function on the rented air car took him to his destination without any fuss. He parked on the modest pad the shop provided and made his way inside, much to the horror of the human on duty. It seemed his looks were not what this human was used to dealing with, not to mention the firepower he was carrying openly displayed.

    “May I help you?” The proprietor asked in a clearly condescending voice. He wasn’t pleased to see a heavily armed Twi’lek waltz into his shop, and was probably worried about being robbed. Ori paused as he noted that he was sensing this beings’ intentions better than he had ever managed at the temple. It seemed that his Force sense had been substantially expanded by whatever the kriff had happened over the past couple of days, best to be cautious.

    “I need an accounting droid,” Ori replied as he made his way over, ignoring how the human kept himself within arm’s reach of the cash register. Probably had his finger on the silent alarm, especially with the worry the human was projecting. “Professional grade is preferable, with a fluency in basic, but binary would do in a pinch.”

    “You want an accounting droid?” The human asked disbelief clearly showing in his every word as he looked Ori up and down. “You do know how much a professional grade droid cost do you not?”

    “Ten to fifteen thousand credits, assuming they are new,” Ori replied easily. “I want to keep my ship and that means making an investment in keeping my books in order.”

    “Ah,” the human didn’t relax much but he did a little. From what Ori could sense he must have said the right thing. “Kelvin Melakar at your service, proprietor of this humble shop. I would ask if you have looked at the used droid shops closer to the spaceport. They tend to have what you need at a lesser price.”

    “With no idea of just what their previous owner was up to, and the additional programming that was put into the droid, I do not want to have my accounts inexplicably drained one day because I missed something.” Ori replied easily. “Captain Ori’Daki at your service.”

    “Very well Captain,” Kelvin felt himself relax a fraction more. It seemed that the good captain had at least a modicum of sense and was looking for surety in his purchase and was willing to pay for it. Coming to the most respected shop in the financial district made sense in that light. You never did know just what you were getting when you purchased a used droid, and there were horror stories about second hand droids still having the programming from their original owners bouncing around the galaxy. If it was hard coded into the droid, they could be very effective thieves. There was a reason why this shop never dealt in second hand goods after all.

    “Just what are you looking for captain, if I may ask?” Kelvin arched an eyebrow at the Twi’lek. The Captain might not be his usual type of customer but he could respect what looked to be his motives. Not that he would allow himself to be drawn more than an arm’s length away from the silent alarm buttons as he served the Captain. That was common sense after all.

    “Like I said professional grade, doesn’t have to be mobile, but it does need the processing power to handle accounts at least as complicated as those which a minor corporation would use. My ship my not seem like much but it is a small business, and as things go forward, I may want to expand. Having extra capacity in my accounting droid would allow me to be more inclined to trust those I deal with in the professional sector. My appearance puts me at a disadvantage when dealing with bankers and the like which means I need my own expert on tap to make sure they are not feeding me a line of baantha poo doo.”

    The words sounded sincere to Kelvin, but he was well aware that the Captain was feeding him a line of crap. Respectable traders, even those starting out, did not wear what Ori wore. They tended to stick to custom tailored coveralls or line uniforms, and they certainly never went to see higher class beings with weapons strapped to their hips even if they did carry them when on their ships. The good captain was clearly a smuggler, especially given his species, and probably a slaver. That said it sounded like he did actually need accounting help. Given he was looking to purchase a droid rather than going through one of the many accounting firms of galactic repute on world he probably didn’t want to end up in debt to the Hutt’s. Kelvin weighed his options for a moment before deciding on a course of action. He would fulfil the Captains stated request, and act as if it was legitimate. True Captain Daki would get exactly what he asked for, rather then what he needed, but the extra couple of thousand credits wouldn’t hurt Kelvins bottom line. After all he got a commission on every droid he sold.

    “This way please,” Kelvin motioned to the Captain and led him to the corporate display case. Unlike the astromechs with financial programming these looked simple, they were little more than cubes containing a droid brain, vocoder, and a data spike. They didn’t move, or have bodies of their own. If Captain Daki wanted more out of them he would have to put them into a body himself. If the Captain had been legitimate, then Kelvin would have pointed him towards the more multi-functional models, but given what he suspected he was inclined not to do so. The Captain wanted an accountant, and so an accountant he would get. Even if the droid did end up costing more than his ship was worth. “These are our corporate models, note that they are single function, and they come pre-loaded with several respectable basic sets of accounting software. Their vocoders are simple, binary, but they can be expanded on request.”

    “How much,” Ori asked clicking his tongue as he looked over the models. Most of them didn’t speak to him, but one did. It looked like the simplest out of the droids, its casing was plain and utilitarian, lacking the decorative touches that the others had.
    “Basic models start at nine thousand credits; they are functional for small businesses with up to fifty employees. Book keeping is included in each model using banking clan certified software, and they can be directed to monitor accounts. Their encryption protocols allow them access to the first level of any banking institution, if their owner clears it with the institution in question, so they have the capacity to monitor your accounts in real time. That said the encryption is a subscription service and without constant updates it will fall out of certification resulting in your droid being locked out of the banking net.”

    “How much per year for the subscription?”

    “One thousand credits, and while I offer the initial package re-enrolling can be done at any banking institution with many offering automatic re-enrolment if you have a linked account. It can be done automatically, so you don’t have to worry about your subscription expiring when you are in deep space or otherwise unavailable.”

    “This one, tell me about it,” Ori pointed to the plain droid. Kelvin was clearly surprised but covered it well. He had thought that Ori would go for one of the more decorative models.

    “X-1500, product of a small corporation on Muunilist. Capacity for managing up to one major project from a galactic corporation, auditing software included, they are relatively new to the market but the Muun have a good reputation and their previous droids have done well with auditors and the like. Very good for spotting irregularities in accounts, and breaking it down into basic without devolving into jargon.” Kelvin paused and then considered how to get the captain to actually shell out credits rather than just browsing. He would have to list some downsides to the droid he decided with a mental grimace. Beings like this Ori were not inclined to trust, and if he stuck with the standard corporate script, he would think it was a line. “The downsides to this model are the price, and the lack of reputation that the firm has. It has only recently begun to produce droids and while the first model they made was relatively well regarded it is uncertain if they will survive. Support might become an issue in a couple of years as start-ups in this sector do not have the best reputation for survival. If you do decide on this model, I would recommend that you pick a second droid to double check its work from a more reputable company, especially if you intend this to be a long-term investment. You might end up with an unsupported droid in a couple of years with no way to upgrade it.”

    “While my last run has left me with a substantial cash infusion I am not made of credits,” Ori replied. “How much?”

    “Base model is ten thousand,” Kelvin replied swiftly. “Adding on a basic language package for the vocoder is another thousand, as is the initial security and encryption subscription. The advanced auditing package is another two thousand.”

    “That’s almost as much as my ship costs…” Ori grimaced as he admitted that. “Still… Do you have more language modules available or is basic the only one you offer?”

    “We have several,” Kelvin went for the sale immediately. When a customer started asking about addons then you knew they were serious. “Unfortunately, Ryl is not one of them, the physical component of that language is impossible for the droid to replicate. Huttese is available, but again it is an additional thousand.”

    “How long would it take you to load one of the droids with basic, Huttese, the auditing software, security and encryption, and an advanced bookkeeping capacity?” Ori asked cautiously.

    “Twenty minutes at most, everything you listed comes in a read only chip which can be slotted in with ease to the brains expansion ports.” Kelvin replied wide eyed. “It would take longer if you wanted to have an expanded number of ports, up to twenty hours.”
    “Does the brain have the capacity to accept a proprietary encryption module?” Ori asked biting his lip. “Or is that functionality something that will take time to install?”

    “It comes standard as long as the encryption module uses a republic cat twenty port,” Kelvin replied quickly. “I know many are still using the cat eighteen or nineteen, but with the twenty on the market that was the connection used.”

    “Understandable,” Ori looked at the droid again and then sighed. It looked like he was about to spend a lot of money. “Wrap one up for me, basic and Huttese language modules, enhanced auditing and bookkeeping, and the security and encryption subscription. That’s… seventeen thousand credits?”

    “Nineteen with tax,” Kelvin said holding out his hand.

    “Sometimes I wonder about the government,” Ori grumbled as he passed several of the credit chips, he had received from selling the astromechs to the Trade Federation over. “They make it awfully hard for an honest trader to make a profit.”

    “Price of doing business,” Kelvin replied covering his surprise when the credit chips checked out. It seemed that the smuggler was at least honest enough with the money. Given how much Captain Daki had spent he could at least be sure that the captain wouldn’t try to rob him while he prepared the droid. “I will be back in a minute, if you would care to wait here.”

    “Receipt?” Ori asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Will be included with the certificate of ownership when you take possession of the droid,” Kelvin answered easily.

    “Very well,” Ori frowned as he said that. He wasn’t inclined to be that trusting, but this was a different world then he usually operated in. Then again in his last life he had gotten an immediate receipt every time he had made a major purchase even if it wasn’t delivered immediately. He certainly had gotten one when he put a down payment on his cars, even when he hadn’t taken delivery immediately. That might be biasing his thinking here.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
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  7. Abnormalus

    Abnormalus Getting some practice in, huh?

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    Re-read from scratch, very much enjoying this story, thank you for your time and effort.
     
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    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Skrath Kri was unsurprised to find his Padawan up and active when he had completed his own morning ablations. Ori had crashed hard after immersing himself deeply in the Force. After going over his notes he had come to the conclusion that Ori had reached too deeply. He certainly didn’t have the training needed to accomplish what he had done with the accounts, and so had drawn himself deeper than he needed too in order to do what he had. That was going to be a problem. Ori was already leery of the Force and this experience would hardly make him more trusting. Especially since what he had done had been so out of character.

    Pouring himself a final mug of Caf he made his way down to the cargo bay and observed his padawan. It seemed that despite his misgivings he hadn’t cut himself off completely from the Force. He was busy working out with three droids, using his Jar’kel to reflect blaster bolts with his eyes covered. Skrath forced down a wince as he observed. Ori was decent with a sabre, especially when he had two in his hands but his footwork. Skrath was going to have to work with him on that. As he watched Ori took a knee to avoid a stinger and then bounced to his feet completely out of position. He managed to impose his sabres before being hit by two bolts but a third that he should have been able to block got him. Skrath couldn’t hide his wince at that. If Ori had a better grounding, he could have dealt with that. Yet another thing to add to his list to work on with Ori. First things first though, dealing with the fallout from yesterday.

    “I see the sleeper has awakened,” Skrath said mildly as Ori swept the improvised eye covering off his head. “I trust you had a good sleep?”

    “I did,” Ori replied as he pulled out the remote which controlled the droids and then sent them back to sleep mode. “Not the way I wanted too though, and if this morning is any indication, I have no idea of just what I did.”

    “That is understandable,” Skrath took a sip of his caf before continuing in a mildly reproving tone. “You went deep in the Force this time, too deep.”

    “I am aware of that. It is not a danger I had anticipated when I tried to understand just what you were doing with Master Dza’lya. I had thought I was just sensing what you were doing and learning from it but it seems I started to act without being aware of myself. That is going to be a problem going forward.”

    “It wouldn’t have been so bad if you hadn’t chosen to immediately get to work and then ignored the needs of your body, and more importantly in this instance your mind. The longer you immerse yourself in the Force, especially when you use it to refresh yourself rather then getting the sleep you need, the deeper you get. It is a self-reinforcing cycle that that has caught even more experienced Knights by surprise. For a Padawan that is a very real danger, you can get lost in the currents and never come out. There is a reason why we insist on having a Padawan bond at the temple before you are allowed to learn any of the deeper skills of our order. Part of our jobs as Masters is to pull you back out before you do something stupid and kill yourself on accident.”

    “I had thought it had more to do with knowing when your Padawan was doing something smart but not wise then keeping your Padawan healthy.” Skrath could hear the question in Ori’s comment.

    “It is, but what else could you call immersing yourself so deeply in the Force? Especially for you. You tend not to use the Force as much as other Padawans, so it does not surprise me that when you do you let it run wild. You didn’t have the lead up exercises to keeping yourself, because you always thought the Force was foreign. If you had a more normal relationship with it then this would have been less of a problem and you wouldn’t have gone nearly as deep as you did. As it stands, I’m going to have to work with you on that. Your antagonistic relationship with the Force is going to cripple you going forward unless we can get a handle on it.”

    “More exercises on opening myself to the Force? Are you sure that’s wise? My reaction was not anything like what I had anticipated…”

    “Ori,” Skrath almost groaned as he heard that it seemed his Padawan had an even more contentious relationship with the Force then he had first thought. “You are a Force sensitive.”

    “Well yes,” Ori cocked his head to the side in confusion. “How else would I be a Padawan if I wasn’t?”

    “Have you thought at all about what that means? Not in the abstract philosophical sense, but in the duracrete every day sense?” Skrath asked as mildly as he could. It would seem he would need to spend more time working with his Padawan on the basics then he had thought. The Temple had obviously badly miss handled his initial education in the Force, but he never would have thought it would be this bad.

    “Not really,” Ori replied, his scepticism obvious even without the Force. “I mean its just a part of me, one I have to deal with.”

    “Exactly, being a Force sensitive means you use the Force. If you weren’t trained then it would be unconscious use. Seeing as you have received at least the basic training it means you can consciously choose to use it, and will. Not using the Force isn’t an option for you.” Skrath took a deep breath before continuing. “Should you try not to use it then you will eventually call on it in an uncontrolled manner and that could be bad for you.”

    “Not to mention my surroundings,” Ori acknowledge with a grimace.

    “Exactly. Being a Force sensitive means you will use the Force, the only question is if you will be in control or not,” Skrath stated flatly. He didn’t mention the disturbing holes in Ori’s sense of self which were making the whole situation more complicated. If Ori had a more solid sense of self then he wouldn’t have nearly as many issues with using the Force and its effects on him would have been less then they were. How he had developed such an adaptable sense of self Skrath had no clue, but that was a problem for another day. “You have the potential, and some of the skills, but not the wisdom to know when and how to go that deep. It was impressive in its own right but…”

    “It could be dangerous.”

    “Very much so.” Skrath nodded in approval. “I know you dislike doing it, but you are going to have to get a handle on yourself when using the Force. Otherwise you could very well end up lost in the Force.” Or end up destroying things that I would much rather you didn’t. Planets are not especially replaceable after all Skrath continued in his head.

    “Just what I wanted to find out…” Ori grimaced then changed the subject, not wanting to think further on the topic. He would have to clear his head before he tried to figure out what to do. “Have you looked over the data I generated?”

    “I have, it was interesting if a little dense. I was forced to look up more than a few of the terms you used. My accounting certificate was not enough to understand everything.”

    “You have an accounting certificate?” Ori asked wide eyed.

    “Of course? How else would I know how to run an audit? Immersing yourself in the Force is all well and good as a temporary measure to acquire skills you do not have, but you still have to understand and explain your conclusions to other beings. Most of whom will not be as knowledgeable about accounting practices as they need to be to understand what you are telling them. Most beings who I work with on audits are judicial officers, and they have little understanding of the intricacies of banking. Even when I work with those who are in forensic accounting, I still need to be able to make our conclusions understandable to the judges we take our data to in order to get arrest warrants, or even further search warrants. That means training…”

    “I should have thought of that,” Ori admitted. “Still I wish we had kept one of the astromechs we sold to the Trade Federation. It would have been cheaper than what I ended up doing after I looked over the data and couldn’t understand it.”

    “Oh,” Skrath ran his hand over his face. This was going to be interesting. It seemed that Ori had gone and done something unexpected again. It only remained to be seen just what sort of disaster he had unleashed. “What did you do?”

    “Well… I couldn’t understand what I was looking at and I thought that bringing in an outside firm to look over and audit the accounts would not be a good idea.”

    “That was wise of you,” Skrath felt himself relaxing a bit when he heard that. He was halfway expecting that Ori had contracted looking over the banking data to an auditing firm. That would have been disastrous unless they were certified by the Judicial Forces as being an acceptable contractor. Even then he didn’t want this data to be widely spread about, letting other beings know that the Republic was in the process of starting to rearm could very well end up touching off the war they were seeking to avoid. No matter how well certified an accounting firm was they were not as discrete as a Jedi in their investigations. Perhaps the Judiciary’s financial crimes unit would have been a good idea but they were already overloaded. It would take them years to get around to processing the data, and they needed answers now rather then in a decade. Skrath lacked the authority to get them to concentrate on this problem, especially when he was well aware of their prior commitments. “The financial crimes unit then?”

    “I… actually didn’t think of them,” Ori said in wonder. “We can ask them for support?”

    “We can, though they are overloaded at the moment. Several of Chancellor Valorum’s allies are under investigation and that is taking up the majority of their time.” Skrath shook his head. “You do know that we are considered part of the Judiciary, yes? We can call on their assets in our investigations. You don’t have to deal with everything on your own.”

    “I was under the impression that this was best dealt with discretely… and I am not sure just how much trust there is in the Judiciary at the highest political levels. Given what I found and could understand I thought it best to find my own way rather than involving others.” Ori covered nicely. Skrath could tell that it had never even crossed his mind to call in the rest of the Judiciary but his after the fact reasoning was sound enough not to comment on. He had no doubt that it hadn’t occurred to Ori to even try and call in support but he covered it nicely enough to avoid censure.

    “So, what did you do?”

    “I went and bought an auditing droid,” Ori replied promptly. “I may not understand what I’m looking at but with the droid to explain it to me…”

    “Pricey…” Skrath considered the action and nodded his head in approval. They did have credits to burn at the moment and it was the most logical course of action. Ori would of course have to account for the money he spent, but it was hardly the first time a Jedi would need to pay for outside expertise. “I presume you have it going through the data now?”

    “Yes Master, plugged in and crunching the numbers. It said it would need at least twenty hours before it was ready to present its preliminary results so I decided to take the time to work on my sabre skills.”

    “And you believe we will be able to understand what the droid puts in front of us?”

    “It is currently set for law enforcement auditing protocols, I believed that would be simple enough for us to understand it.”

    “Security on the data?”

    “Off line on a standalone system, and I plugged a Jedi encryption module into the droid, so unless the weakness comes out of the temple the droid should not be able to endanger the data.” Ori frowned a bit. “That might have been a bit paranoid of me but…”

    “Best to be paranoid when you are using a second hand droid, financial crimes using droids is hardly unknown.”

    “Oh, no, I bought the droid brand new from the most reputable shop in the financial district that I could find.” Ori said swiftly. “I remember you commenting about several cases you had where the criminal turns out to be the finical droids which were bought second hand. I would have chanced a second hand droid if I was better at understanding accounting and droid programming but…”

    “You tend more to engineering and star ship design in technical matter and mercantile pursuits in technical matters so you played it cautiously. I approve… though expect to be grilled when we get back to the Temple about your expenses.” Skrath shook his head. Ori should have simply gone through the second-hand droid market and trusted the Force to find him what he needed, but he was unsurprised that Ori hadn’t. Despite what he was saying and acting like it seemed that Ori’s deep immersion in the Force had affected him more than he knew. Or at least more than he was willing to admit to. That could be a problem in the future, but it was one he was well equipped to deal with. “Since we are left waiting for your new droid to give us more data before we depart this world, I think it best if we continue on the path you have started… perhaps a spar?”

    “It would be my pleasure!” Ori fiddled with his lightsabres, setting them to training mode.

    “Single blade if you would,” Skrath said mildly as he set his own sabre to training mode with a burst of telekinesis and floated his now empty mug back to the kitchen. “I see that you are well acquainted with controlling your blades, but your footwork needs to be refined. That is best worked on when you only have a single blade to work with.”

    “Yes master,” Ori stowed his second blade and drew himself up into the high guard of Niman. Skrath nodded, having expected that and advanced to the centre of the hold taking the low guard of his own favoured Makashi. Ori would need to work on more than just his form Skrath observed to himself. His mindset wasn’t quite were it should be. Too much free-wheeling improvisation and not enough precision as shown by his choice of forms. Also too generalist, if Ori wanted to be a successful investigator he would need to learn precision and focus. Perhaps pointing him towards Soresu? Ori would never have the patience for Makashi. Another ongoing project to add to the list. Who knew taking a padawan would be this exhausting?


    *Edited to fix errors pointed out on SB and AH*
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  9. Threadmarks: 3.5
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “A thousand repetitions of the basic stances was excessive master,” Ori grumped as he walked into the mess. “I understand your point about my footwork, but springing that on me was just cruel.”

    “It is the best way to learn,” Skrath replied eyeing the droid and its connected computer system sitting on the messes central table. “Be thankful that I didn’t decide to make you repeat each misstep ten times. You need to have these down, instinctually, before you are ready to move on. It’s like you missed the point of your missteps in the Force and never applied the lessons you learned to the rest of your life. Basics first, then build on that knowledge. You jumped too far ahead with your lightsaber forms and were good enough that the instructors at the Temple failed to point out your errors. That’s part of the reason why I told you that you would never be more than a competent swordsman.”

    “I hadn’t thought of that,” Ori frowned as he contemplated what he was being told. “With the blaster and RCMA lessons I did follow that path… but in the saber?”

    “I think the errors occurred before you came to your revelation about your path to the Force and because no one was correcting you naturally you thought that you were on the right track. Especially with how dominant you were in the spars I observed between initiates. Your bout with Master Koon should have pointed that out to you but…”

    “I assumed he was just that much better than I was,” Ori admitted with a grimace. “I thought that I needed more practice not to revisit the basics again.”

    “Well, it’s not as if you were wrong about that,” Skrath allowed. “Now onwards to actually doing our job.”

    “X-RAD, display results and summarize if you will, in basic,” Ori said politely even as the holo projector built into the messes table sprang to life.

    “In basic?”

    “X-RAD is capable of binary, basic, and huttese,” Ori replied evenly.

    “Huttese.” Skrath replied flatly.

    “Ryl was not one of the language options offered at that dealer,” Ori said looking over the flow chart which was being projected and pointedly ignoring his Master.

    “Of course, you asked for ryl,” Skrath said with a sigh. That was going to cause problems when they went back to the temple. He knew that language modules from a respectable dealer were expensive, especially those which had specialized vocabulary like the one which was surely loaded onto an accounting and auditing droid. Still it was a problem for another day. “X-RAD?”

    “Multiple streams of credits,” X-RADS vocoder was very basic, lacking the sentient tones of a more expensive model. “Projects differentiated from source. Initial stream marked as R and D funds. Escrow accounts established with Rendelii and KDY. Smaller vender’s escrow accounts listed as undifferentiated at this time. Conclusion, KDY and Rendelii contracts confirmed. Smaller contracts still in process of bidding.”

    “Smaller contracts which have been confirmed please,” Skrath said even as he looked over the numbers. KDY and Rendelii, given the trillions held in escrow those would be capital ships.

    “Rothana Heavy Engineering subsidiary of KDY, smaller items and large contract both confirmed.” X-RAD continued on. “Incom, Subpro, Slayn & Korpil, KDY Kuat still in process of being awarded contract. Data confirms competitive bidding process. Contract yet to be awarded. Research and Development funds released.”

    “Interesting. Date on confirmation of Rendelii and KDY larger contract confirmation?”

    “Two months.”

    “Conclusions?”

    “Research still ongoing, design process finished for one major asset by both parties. Secondary major assets yet to be accepted but contracts in place to cover eventuality. Competitive bidding procedures not in place. Recommended action audit of awarding parties.”

    “Ori?” Skrath asked his padawans opinion mildly.

    “Surprised CEC wasn’t on the list…” Ori replied promptly. “Still… black project, with a capped budget? I would say KDY and Rendelii are going to be the primary contractors for the Republic’s capital assets going forward. That said, that’s a lot of tonnage master. If I’m reading this right then we are looking at more than thirty thousand ships ordered. Assuming there is a one to one correlation between the escrow accounts and a ship. Just eyeballing it, it looks like they established a production budget and then turned that over to the contractors with orders to build to the budget. Not a good practice but…”

    “It’s a black development project,” Skrath agreed with his padawan. “These aren’t going to be Consular class cruisers.”

    “No master, I think what we’re looking at is proper all-up capital ships…”

    “And the smaller contractors?”

    “Fighters.”

    “Which leaves Rothana as the odd contract out. X-RAD, any indication of if that was a competitive bid?”

    “No data. Contract locked in and additional accounts closed. Historical analysis impossible at this time.”

    “Back to Master Dza’Lya?” Ori frowned as he suggested that.

    “Not at this time, and not without disrupting his cooperation.” Skrath frowned as he thought about that. “Given we have a major contract, capital ship I would agree, and a minor contract awarded to Rothana I think we know where we are headed next.”

    Ori opened his mouth and then paused. He pulled out his data pad and looked at what he had been working on just before he had been chased to bed by his master. There was a discrepancy here, between what X-RAD had found and his own recommendations. That made him pause before he spoke, thinking back and trying to figure out just where he had gone wrong given, he had been deeply immersed in the force, and if that was a problem.

    “That would be my recommendation as well…” Ori chewed on his lip and tried to think of how to phrase his question. “Master, before I went to sleep one of the stops, I recommended was Rothana… but…”

    “Something is bothering you,” Skrath stated flatly, remembering his own doubts about that conversation and the way that the force seemed to have deserted him when he was talking about testing the fighter craft. Despite having slept on it, his lack of interest in getting non-force sensitive pilots to look over the craft kept needling him. Reminding him every time he thought about it that there was something off here.

    “Yes. I never bothered to look at the larger contract,” Ori replied slowly. “We would have gone and looked over what I presume is the ground forces equipment and completely ignored the ships which are already in production if the data says what we think it does. We would have completely ignored them. Or at least we would have if they didn’t catch our eyes while we were on planet… though given the way the Force has been acting, it wouldn’t surprise me if we missed them completely.”

    “That…” Skrath paused and thought about what Ori was saying. The ships suddenly taking on an even more sinister overtone then the one they had just a moment before. Something was clearly at work in the Force here and he did not like it. There was no way he should have overlooked a contract for capital class assets, and his padawan who was specifically working on that very problem wouldn’t have overlooked it, let alone the disturbing possibility that they would have overlooked the ships being built while in system. If that was the case then they had bigger problems than just the Republic rearming in defiance of Ruusan. Of course, thinking of that brought forth the less then welcome thought of just who was rearming the Republic and why they were doing so without the support of the Jedi order, or at least the order in general. They might have the support of the council, but he doubted it. They tended to be stodgy and dogmatic at times, but reliably open about what they were doing, at least with their people. Even when they kept a secret, they still let you know that they were keeping a secret, not leaving you completely in the dark. Which brought him back around to Ori’s recommendations verses the data they were faced with when it was looked over by a professional. “Ori bring up your recommendations and let’s have a look to see what the Force nudged you into thinking was important…”

    “KDY major contract, KDY minor contract, Rothana minor contract, and Slayn & Korpil minor contract were my recommendations for further inquiry,” Ori replied promptly.

    “Not Rendelii, not Incom, not Subpro, and not the Major contract Rothana has…” Skrath tried to think of where the difference would be. Incom and Subpro were working together if he was reading this right, Rendelii had a capital ship contract, as did Rothana. Yet Ori had spent the majority of his thoughts on the minor Rothana contract, KDY, and Slayn & Korpil. Closing his eyes Skrath dredged up what he knew of the corporations involved, and tried to sort out just why the force would focus on those contracts. “There has to be something rotten at KDY. Three of the four contracts you recommended we look at were awarded to them. Yes, I know Rothana is nominally an independent but that’s as much baantha shit. Slayn & Korpil is an unknown to me, but if I had to guess they were looking to make inroads in the Republic with their fighter design. If I were given to speculation… you might have focused on what was going to directly affect you. KDY will probably be designing the Republics new command ship, they already produce the fighters most Jedi use so their next generation fighter is going to be something you and I would use. Given our reflexes I would say they’re coming up with a next generation interceptor. A next generation of their D line, to replace the D-6 Sprite we currently favour, though how in space a non-force sensitive is supposed to get the best out of those I have no idea. The Sprite is already too technically challenging for any but the best fighter pilot and the Jedi only get away with our obsession with it due to our nature. Slayn & Korpil are probably going for the main line contract as opposed to the interceptor contract so… you might very well end up using them as well. I really hope that they design for normal sentients, but it’s a coin toss if they do or not. I haven’t heard of them before so they’re a new company, so no clue which way they’ll go. Rothana? That’s for heavy ground side vehicles. Something you might end up working in concert with…”

    “Does Rothana have any more contracts you are aware of X-RAD?” Ori asked, his lekku quivering as if he was a hunting Krath on the scent.

    “One minor contract, subset of minor contract under discussion.” X-RAD Replied simply. “Unknown purpose, contract has higher per unit cost then minor contract under discussion. Contract has higher number of units on order. Reasoning unclear, taken from data should be the major part of contract under discussion but is subset of contract.”

    “I don’t think we have the data we need,” Skrath frowned as he admitted that. “We are speculating just based on the accounts and their accompanying notations. I think our best course of action is to head to Rothana and see just how what we assume matches up to reality.”

    “Of course, master,” Ori said with a grin. “I’ll get us clearance to lift and we can be on our way.”

    “You do that,” Skrath replied his voice distracted. There was clearly something deeply wrong here, and he was going to have to meditate on it. There was no way they should have focused on just a few of the contracts while ignoring the majority of them Especially since they would only be taking a look at two of the five corporations involved. It was deeply disturbing that the Force had almost led them to ignoring the majority of their data. Yes, the Force should have pointed to the important bits, but they shouldn’t have almost been directed to ignore the rest of the data set. He would need to meditate and then probably to call the council. This sounded like it was the fabled veil of the dark side acting up, something he had not come up against before or even believed to really exist despite what the council said, so he would need to be cautious in how he approached this investigation. Or it could be some trick pulled from the archives by Dooku, for all that he was an ass the man was powerful in the Force and he did know how to research. Skrath wouldn’t put it past him to go into the archives and find a Force misdirecting skill and then put it into practice both to hide his actions from the council, which had been getting increasingly testy with his erratic behaviour before his resignation and to guarantee that no Sith uncovered his plot. Given he had resigned just after the Sith had surfaced once again he probably would justify himself by pointing to them as a threat, with the disruption of the council’s ability to oversee his little side project being a nice side benefit.

    From where Skrath was standing it looked a lot like someone was actively working against the Jedi in the force, and that wasn’t a comforting thought. If that was the case then he very well could have uncovered the first corrobatory piece of evidence that the order had found since the confrontation on Naboo that the Sith were active in the galaxy again. Of course, that depended entirely on Dooku not being the one to put this into place. Even if it was a dark side technique Skrath wouldn’t put it past Dooku to use it if only to get the Jedi thinking along the lines, he wanted them too. Given that this was a direct violation of Ruusan… Dooku’s proposals would almost certainly need to be looked at yet again. With the Republic in violation then the Jedi would be obliged to look at the treaty again and decide just what parts they wanted to keep and what parts to let fall by the wayside. The council could very well choose to ignore the violation and continue on like they were, it might even be both the politically expedient thing to do and the will of the Force. Too many possibilities, the politics of the situation made Skrath’s head hurt, he always preferred a nice simple investigation like the embezzlement of a few billion credits through means unknown to the complicated mess of politics. Especially Jedi-Senatorial politics, which made no sense to anyone.

    *Edited in corrections from SB*
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
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  10. Fallen Gods Rise

    Fallen Gods Rise Getting out there.

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    In 3.3 there's a mention of escarole that should probably be escrow. :D unless they've discovered Dooku's secret gardening club.
     
  11. Threadmarks: 4.1
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Thank lloyd007 over on SB for this being less of a grammatical disaster then it was :p

    “Rothana, a ball of dust and ice filled with corporate sharks, be cautious here my Padawan, if you show weakness, they will eat you alive,” Skrath intoned gravely as they made their way off the Serenity and down to the waiting welcoming party.

    “From time to time I think you have a problem with melodrama master,” Ori replied even as his eyes scanned what was on display in front of them. Aside from the design team it seemed that Rothana Heavy Industries had taken out all of the stops when they were informed that an auditing team was on the way to their little corner of the universe. They had everything the Republic had ordered on display, and Ori couldn’t help but be impressed. The various AT-TE walkers were an impressive sight, especially in their variety. That said their numbers were dwarfed by the LAAT’s on display. Neither of the Jedi had expected them, but they were here so they both assumed that they were part of the contract. Given their heritage Ori was forced to nod in approval. Finally, there was the center piece to this display, a fully functional Acclimator class cruiser with its embarkation ramp down.

    “Given this sight are you surprised? I had not thought that they would have been this far along…” Skrath said easily. “Impressions?”

    “Looks like the shuttle is a variant of the AIAT platform, which has a good reputation from what I’ve read. If they kept parts commonality, I can see why they were selected without a competing bid. We already have the logistics structures in place to serve as a pipeline for those parts… and it is getting to be old enough that secondary manufacturers are offering replacement parts. Unless this turns out to have re-established the patent then we could be saving millions on repair costs,” Ori said meditatively clearly showing just how immersed he had been in the financial details of their investigation. He had been trying to learn everything he could from his new droid and Skrath approved. Following the money was one of the oldest investigator tricks in the book, both for the Jedi and the Judicial forces, and Ori had clearly learned of its importance.

    “I had not thought of it that way, but I do agree… The rest of the hardware?”

    “On the walkers… I have nothing. My own inclination would be to go with a repulsor tank similar to those deployed by the Trade Federation on Naboo… but, I don’t have the experience to judge. We will have to look over the test results carefully there, unless you have expertise in the field?”

    “I do not, but I have seen enough faked tests to know about them. I think I will deal with that part of the investigation. The capital ships?”

    “We could be in trouble there. I will need to look over the plans with the design team to get a real sense of it, but I would assume it’s a transport… a rather effective and heavily armed one, but still a transport.” Ori paused before continuing cautiously. “My concern there would be that it might have a completely new system architecture, one that hasn’t been tested yet. Unless this project goes live in less time then I think it will then we will not know if that is any good before the first time these ships go out into hostile space. Then again I have a suspicion on where it came from, and why it was approved for construction so quickly.”

    “Your thoughts?” Skrath allowed a bit of scepticism into his voice.

    “The frames different but…” Ori cocked his head to the side in thought. “I will need to look at the plans but I think it might be a derivative of the rescue ship KDY has been trying to get into service with the Judicial forces since the Stark hyperspace war. Of course I would need to get my hands on the plans that KDY submitted to be sure but…”

    “You were the one who told me about the weakness of the hypernets security,” Skrath’s mouth quirked up at that. He had never thought about that before Ori had raised it but now he was aware he was being extremely cautious about using the hypernet. That was the reason he had for not reporting in to the Temple about the odd direction his investigation was taking him in. It was best not to let the information get out just yet, especially if the Techno Union really was as close to the Trade Federation as they seemed. Letting those two organizations know that the Republic was at least starting to rearm seemed like a really bad idea.

    “I know, I just dislike not having access to all of the information I might need for this audit. I’m also not happy to be completely on our own for this… it seems too much like a single point of failure any enemy could take advantage of… and with the Sith active again…” Ori frowned as he said that. “Especially if I need to do any problem solving when I see the test results for the ships.”

    “You think there will be problems?”

    “It’s a new ship there are always problems, the question is if there are major issues or not. It could very well be a solid design but I will not know that until I look over its blue prints and see the testing done for myself…”

    “And then perhaps arrange for there to be a little more testing?”

    “Of the components, possibly,” Ori let his voice lower as they approached the gathered beings there to welcome them. “Perhaps we can convince them to put out a competitor to the Dreadnought heavy cruiser using their newly developed systems.”

    “An idea for the future,” Skrath said guardedly. He knew all too well just what kind of mischief his padawan would get up to unless sufficiently restrained. He wouldn’t put it past Ori to redesign a whole new class of ships, or at least pass the design team the idea, and then act confused when someone asked him just why there were new capital ships being acquired by the system defence forces. It might be a good idea, especially since this had been a no bid tender, but it could very well disrupt the balance of power within the Republic as the newer system defence forces grew in power over their older counterparts. That had the real possibility of sparking a war or two if it got out of hand.

    “Master Jedi, I am project leader Evianthia Moril, and I welcome you to Rothana,” The leader of the delegation which had come here to meet them said easily. An older human with an aristocratic air about him he was exactly what Skrath envisioned when he thought of a project lead for a corporation like KDY or RHI, which made him slightly suspicious. He wasn’t fool enough to think that reality matched his expectations so completely.

    “I thank you for the welcome project leader,” Skrath inclined his head in a minute bow. The man was clearly Kuatii and it wouldn’t do to allow him to think he was thought of as more then he was. It would be wise to walk softly here, despite his suspicions. “I see that the Republics credits are hard at work here. The new lander, a version of the AIAT?”

    “You recognize it, excellent,” Evianthia clapped his hands in delight. “Yes, exactly! I told the committee that it would be appreciated if we stuck with an existing design. The technical challenges posed by the Walkers and the new heavy cruiser, the Acclimator, were more than sufficient for my engineering teams. By sticking to the AIAT framework we brought the project in two years early, and more then a couple of million credits under budget. I’m sure as an auditor you can appreciate that!”

    “Naturally,” Skrath smiled easily at the delighted man. “I will need to go over the books with my Padawan, but that can come later. What can you tell me about these new walkers? How extensively have they been tested? And a new heavy cruiser? That is quite the accomplishment…”

    “The walkers were a bit of a challenge, nothing we couldn’t overcome,” Evianthia enthused leading the two Jedi towards the waiting crowd. “Engineer Lothal here was the project lead on them, I’m sure once you have had time to adjust you can ask questions to your hearts content. As for the Acclimator project? Young mistress Kuat lead the design team, she’s been trying to get a grasp on the more technical aspects of her family’s business and felt it best to start at the bottom rather than at the top.”

    “Engineer Lothal, I expect you and I will have many fruitful conversations in the days to come,” Skrath shook the engineer’s hand readily finding his solid impression in the force to be reassuring. He was a good man, and one that could be trusted to do the job he was set too, unlike the other project lead. She was clearly calculating just how she could turn this to her advantage within seconds of finding herself in front of a Jedi Auditor, and despite Evianthia’s claims her path to this point was not as simple as he had represented. Sometimes Skrath wondered at people’s abilities, you would think that a major project lead would have known better then to lie to a Jedis face. He swiftly reached behind him and tapped Ori before his padawan could say anything and dropped into a core style bow as cover for his movement. “Mistress Kuat, I’m sure I will enjoy your acquaintance as well.”

    “And your own entourage?” The young noble asked as she replied to his bow with a minimal curtsy.

    “My padawan, Ori’Daki,” Skrath replied blandly. “He has a substantial interest in engineering… I expect him to be of great use to you when dealing with the bureaucratic difficulties inherent in bringing a new ship to market. I imagine you will get to know him very well over the next few weeks as he seeks to assist you in avoiding the usual problems the civil service throws into the path of a hard-working industrialist like yourself. Despite the secretive nature of this project the Acclimator will still require Republic certification.”

    “While I do not deny my part in bringing this project to fruition perhaps, he would be better served by working with my second, Reginal Kiilik, as he has been the driving force behind the engineering team much to my pleasure,” Kuat deflect deftly. Skrath simply smiled, it seemed that things were going right today as Ori would end up with an introduction to the person whom he really needed to talk to. Mainly due to the Kuat scions core bread speciesism. Still there was information to poke at here, and now did seem to be the time.

    “Excellent, I must compliment you mistress on your decision to do things the right way. All too often in my line of work I run into scions of impeccable breeding who decide that the galaxy is their oyster and all that is needed is a word from their family before it conforms to their wishes.” Skrath hid his grin as a sour look stole over the young noblewomen’s face. It seemed his guess had been right on the money; she was here as a punishment for some offense and had joined the project as a way to regain her stature with her family. An old story one he had heard many times before, but suddenly Ori’s concerns about the cruiser took on more weight. A young engineer, and Reginal was young, under the guidance of an ambitious noble was a recipe for disaster. She would have pressed for the project to be brought in on time no matter the obstacles and given his youth there would have been tests that Reginal might not know to run. Still that was a concern for later.

    The rest of the introductions passed in a blur, even as Skrath made sure to put names to faces in his own mind. Most of the engineers here would not be important to his audit, just the project leads who controlled the purse strings. They would be the ones he focused on first, letting Ori loose on Reginal to prove or disprove his worries over the fitness of the cruisers. While he and Ori worked to see the utility of the equipment that was to be provided to the Republic X-RAD would chug along in the background completely ignored, finding all of their dirty little financial secrets. Ori might have spent too much on the droid but it was a useful piece of equipment. He might end up getting one of his own when his padawan graduated to knighthood.
     
  12. Threadmarks: 4.2
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Once again thanks go to lloyd007 over on space battles for giving this a once over, mistakes remain my own fault.

    Lester Con had been a twenty-year man, served his time in the Judicial Forces before retiring to a lucrative position as a KDY/RHI test pilot, as such he had worked with Jedi before unlike the rest of his co-workers. They hadn’t known what to expect when a Jedi auditor popped up out of the blue on them. Lester had just shrugged and gotten on with making preparations, and he was pleased he had been spot on with what to expect. Despite needing to look over every scrap of data which they could get their grubby hands on the Jedi always wanted first-hand knowledge. It wasn’t enough for them to read it on a screen, or see it on a holo, they had to be there and experience things for themselves before they came to a real conclusion.

    That tendency to be hands on very neatly explained just why the Acclimator, name ship for the class and general test vessel, had been pulled out and was once again run through its paces. Padawan Daki had wanted to be on board while the Acclimator was tested, he had been especially interested in the final approach tests. He had enough pull to get the RHI upper management to allow the tests, even if they had been completed satisfactorily before. Testing had gone as expected, fully within the established parameters. The Acclimator was a good ship, and she did her job well. The only surprise was that Daki had asked for several crash descents, even going so far as to ask that they simulate being under fire while on final approach. That concerned Lester, he didn’t know of any enemy to the Republic who could threaten the new ship. Still Jedi would do what they would do. Better to do as they asked, getting the results you wanted, rather then allow them to report you were an obstacle to be overcome to the Senate.

    “Master Pilot Con,” Reginal Kiilik said as he noticed the pilot walking down the corridors towards the LAAT bay. Daki wanted to fly a few of the LAATs, as expected of a Jedi, and so Lester was serving as his co-pilot. “How do you think this inspection has gone?”

    “Well,” Con replied easily.

    “I had thought so too… and then Padawan Daki started to ask for more hands-on testing,” Kiilik grimaced as he said that. “I don’t understand that. He already had the data; we gave it to him after all. It seems like a waste of credits to me.”

    “Never had to deal with the Jedi before?” Lester laughed lightly as he said that. “They aren’t like other beings. Data isn’t enough for them, they need to be hands on before they are satisfied. Mind you they usually come to the conclusion that the data they had was right… but every once in a while, they find something that the data didn’t cover. Every time I’ve had to deal with them its ended up with at least a little hands on work.”

    “You have experience?” Kiilik raised an eyebrow and fell in beside the pilot as they made their way towards the landing bay. “I would ask your advice then, as I have not had the pleasure before.”

    “Very hands on, they believe things they experience for themselves above any report.” Lester shrugged as he said that. “They might call it the will of the Force, but from what I’ve seen they just train their intuition to an absurd level. Don’t bother trying to lie directly to their faces, you can get away with it over a screen but when they can see you it’s pointless. Better to deflect and answer truthfully but misleadingly if you want to hide information. Mind you I doubt you need to, but just in case keep that in mind. Being forthright with them will win you points, they won’t show it but if they think you’re telling them the truth they won’t dig nearly as far. If they think you’re lying then they will never stop digging. It’s why the Senate believes their reports so completely, even when they publicly pretend not to.”

    “And this Force they talk about constantly? I know many in the galaxy believe such superstition but I have yet to come across anyone who knows of it beyond the usual dogmatic religious answers,” Kiilik frowned as he admitted that. Lester knew why of course. Everyone had heard of the Force but actually seeing it in action? That was rare. For those who hadn’t seen real evidence with their own eyes, especially logically minded beings like engineers, it seemed to be more religious dogma then it was a real thing. He knew better, having served three times with Jedi during his Judicial career, but he could understand just where his superior was coming from.

    “It’s real, although I don’t think it’s nearly as all powerful as they like to pretend. Most of what I’ve seen Jedi do can be explained by training or insane twitch reflexes.” Lester pondered how to get what he knew across to Reginal in a form he would accept. “They can move objects with their mind, I’ve seen them do so, and reflect blaster bolts if called to do so. Beyond that? For all they talk of foresight and the like I have seen them be blindsided so I don’t believe that is an actual thing, just part of the mystique which makes their jobs easier. If your opponent thinks you already know their transgressions…”

    “Then they don’t bother to hide as well as they should,” Kiilik replied easily. “It’s a trick I have used myself from time to time.”

    “Yes sir.”

    “So, I should treat them as smart and capable investigators, not religious nuts who have the confidence of the senate.”

    “Exactly sir. They have more in common with the best Judicial Force investigators, thirty-year men and the like, then they do with monks despite the trappings they affect. You can’t hide anything from those sorts of people, they always know, so best not to try. I think it’s the age which trips people up when dealing with the Jedi. They don’t have the years a veteran investigator would have, so people dismiss them and think that they don’t have the instincts when that’s exactly what the temple trains them in. I always thought that’s why they are taken so young. They start teaching them how to read people better than an Echani at a young age, and that sort of training sticks with you throughout your life. Not to mention that despite their talk of the Force, well I’ve never seen one who was successful and didn’t do the background work needed. The only time I ever saw a Jedi run into trouble was when the idiot didn’t do the work.”

    “Makes sense, thank you for your time,” Reginal broke off just before they reached the hanger allowing Lester to walk in without having the project leader there with him when he met the Padawan. It seemed Reginal was still getting a handle on how to deal with the Jedi who had just popped into his orderly world. When the blast door opened and he got his first look at the Padawan Lester decided to concentrate. The concerns of his nominal superiors couldn’t be clouding his mind while he was walking a pilot through their first time using a new craft, familiarization flights could get exciting in a real hurry if you didn’t have a measure of just who you were working with.

    Silently Lester looked over Daki, he knew that the Twi’lek was a Padawan, a larval Jedi, but all of the Jedi he had worked with before had been knights. Lester compared what was before him, and the attitudes he displayed, to his own experience and was pleased to see that this Padawan was demonstrating the habits of the better Jedi he had worked with. He was dressed in a flight suit, not in robes, which was always a good sign. It meant Daki was taking this seriously. The only objection he had to the Padawans appearance was the lack of a crash helmet, but that might be a piloting arrogance thing not a Jedi thing.

    “No helmet?” Lester asked as soon as he was close enough to be overheard over the cacophony of the bay.

    “Wrong species,” Daki replied with a wry smile. “Apparently no Twi’lek or Togratu pilots have been assigned to this project so everything I could find was made for human or near human norms. With my Lekku, I can’t wear one of those helmets without injuring myself.”

    “True,” Lester admitted with a slight frown. He was well aware of just how heavily over represented humans were in the Judicial Forces but there should have been at least a couple of flight helmets set up for alien physiology. Something he was going to have to look into later, especially given only humans had tested these vessels. There might be unanticipated issues when another species was in control of one. “I presume you read the ten eighty on the LAAT?”

    “Of course,” Daki nodded his head with a grin. “I’m pilot enough to know better than to try and control a new ship blind. It was an interesting read, though you might want to revise it a bit. It spends too much time going over the LAAT as if it’s a new craft, and not enough time pointing out the differences in flight characteristics between the LAAT and the AIAT which most judicial pilots will be used to. If you keep the documentation as it is, you’re going to have a lot of veteran pilots disregarding the ten eighty and going with their own experience. Too many of the sections are the same, especially at the beginning of the form, and you know pilots…”

    “All too well,” Lester mentally cursed and resolved to have a second look at the ten eighty for the LAAT. He had read the first draft, but he hadn’t seen it since then. It sounded like he was going to need to do that before these ships were released into general service. He was well aware of pilot’s tendency to cut any corner possible on the paperwork side of things in order to get in more flight hours. If the ten eighty was too similar to the AIAT’s then it was going to be disregarded, costing the Judicial forces a lot of veteran pilots when they ran into trouble and tried to use the old manual to get out of it. “Any questions come to mind before we mount up?”

    “How much testing was done on the angle of descent maximums?” Daki replied promptly. “Most everything else I’m comfortable with but that section was a little thin.”

    “Not as much as I would have liked,” Lester admitted. “Doctrine is to come in on a closer to level flight path then a crash dive, as such the testing was a bit less thorough then I would have liked. It made sense, especially given that trying a crash dive with a walker underslung would be a bad idea, but I’m well aware of just how crazy some pilots can be.”

    “I thought so… They focused on the walker lander variants, didn’t they? Makes sense as this is really close to an AIAT but…”

    “There are enough differences to concern you.”

    “Exactly.”

    “True enough,” Lester clicked his tongue on his teeth in agreement. “Let’s get you loaded up and run through what you want. We’ve got the trainer variant to fly so I will have a mirror of your controls, and the ability to override if I think you’re getting too crazy, but I trust that will not be necessary. Just about the only difference between this and the line LAAT is the lack of turrets. They don’t effect the flight characteristics so they were left off, but keep that in mind while you’re throwing it around the sky. In atmo it is possible to rip them off, but I want you checked out before I let you try to do that.”

    “You really think I would try?” Daki asked innocently.

    “Jedi you may be, but I can tell you’re a pilot first,” Lester replied with a grunt. “No pilot worth his salt wouldn’t want to push his craft to the limit and beyond. Plus, Jedi, I’ve worked with you crazy bastards before so I know just what sort of pilots you make.”

    “True enough…”
     
  13. Threadmarks: 4.3
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    lloyd007 once again volunteered to improve this section, though the mistakes remain my own.

    “This is a mess,” Ori stated blandly to his master as they looked over the documentation that they had going through for the past week. “The RFP is inadequate for any army, the Acclamator is good for its role but the LAAT’s? There we have a major issue.”

    “I take it your familiarization flight with them was less than satisfactory?” Skrath replied even as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing in the documents he was looking over. He might have been more qualified than Ori to look at the ground vehicles but that wasn’t saying much. He had ended up giving himself to the Force, much as Ori had to analyze the accounting, and like his Padawan had been left scratching his head at what he had produced. That was one of the downsides of giving yourself to the Force, although he had the training to make sense of the results better then Ori had.

    “In some ways yes, in others no,” Ori replied. His face scrunched up into a look of concentration. “Given the specifications which RHI worked off of they did a wonderful job. The LAAT is a masterful design compromise, it utilizes the repulsor systems from the AIAT transport to achieve its job without inventing a new system but…”

    “You think the requirements were written wrong?”

    “I think the requirements were written from an overly focused viewpoint,” Ori replied readily. He was fully prepared to defend his position. “For the Acclamator, they were good. They specified getting down to a low atmospheric level or even landing while under fire. That is sensible, and it works considering the mission of the ship. Mind you I would have liked to see at least some of the firepower being turreted so it was more useful during planetary approaches, but that is a compromise that the designers made with full knowledge of the trade-offs they were making. They prioritized the landing mission over the penetration mission and I can’t really argue with them about that. It’s the LAAT requirements which bother me, they are way too peculiar, especially in light of the Acclamator design.”

    “How so?”

    “Lack of space capabilities at the moment, its one of the corrections which I submitted to the design team. The other major issue I have is the troop compartment, there is no way to strap in as it stands now and if LAAT’s come under fire when landing then you are going to have the troops thrown across the compartment injuring them even before they land. The restraint system is if anything even worse, it’s a series of overhead holds. When the pilots throw their ships across the sky to avoid enemy fire then you are going to have a whole rash of broken arms and dislocated shoulders from the troops.” Ori leaned back with a sigh. “I swear those parts look like they were taken from some other vehicle and not improved, but by the Force I can’t figure out which one. Whatever it was it certainly wasn’t a military assault craft.”

    “You have more concerns,” Skrath turned his attention fully to his padawan. Ori hadn’t said anything, but his tension was bleeding out into the Force even as he spoke in a calm and collected manner.

    “Not… so…. Kriff it, yes,” Ori admitted with a slight slump of his shoulders. “It’s a minor thing but… the troop accommodations on the Acclamator, they are too uniform.”

    “Too uniform?” Skrath asked with a raised eyebrow. “I rather thought that as a military transport they would be uniform?”

    “They should be, yes, but the Republic is a multi-species entity. The troop barracking portion of the request doesn’t leave any room for customization based on species… and…” Ori tried to think of how to verbalize his worries. “Also, the specifications in the request are too specific while at the same time off the galactic average. If you take humanoid species with a propensity for militarization you end up with an average height of somewhere around one meter seventy, so the request should be for the ship to accommodate humanoids with an average height of one meter seventy-five. Even when you include less militaristic species the average doesn’t go above that, if anything it goes lower even when you include species like the Wookie’s or accommodating Togruta’s montrails. It doesn’t make any sense to me for the specifications to be outside of the established galactic averages. But they are, and to a worryingly specific degree. Instead of going with the average, they went with accommodating troopers who had an average height of one meter eighty-three centimetres, which isn’t a number I can understand. It’s too specific to be drawn out of the air without cause, but the cause isn’t available in the request.”

    “You…” Skrath pursed his lips and tried to work through his Padawans logic. He wasn’t sure if the numbers Ori had stated were completely correct but given the disparities, he could see the logic in what Ori was arguing. He could also see just why the specifications overly specific number, which was off the established galactic average, would disturb his Padawan. “Are correct. If we take the height as given that means someone is already recruiting soldiers, or at least has established physical requirements for the soldiers they intend to recruit. Given we in the order haven’t heard anything about such a recruitment drive that is a worrying discovery. We will have to look into it when we get back to the Temple. Now, not to dissuade you from speculating, but expand on the issues with the request for the LAAT?”

    “It’s far too focused, like I said, whomever came up with it is assuming that the Acclamators will be able to penetrate any contested orbitals to land their troops, at least getting as far as the atmosphere. I don’t think that’s true, its wildly optimistic… on their own, at least. The exclusion of an interplanetary drive, and a hyper drive, on the LAAT might be a money saving device but it cripples the landing potential of the craft in operational service. If I were writing up the specifications for the LAAT I would have started with the AIAT frame, shrunk it down a bit to hit the troop capacity, and then left it alone. Whomever wrote this request pulled most of the versatility from the AIAT in the interest of their own priorities. That’s especially visible in the troop compartment as I was saying earlier,” Ori explained his position. Skrath found he couldn’t disagree with his Padawan about the loss of utility which the LAAT accepted over the AIAT, or about his suspicion of why that had occurred. “As it stands the Acclamator, or some other capital ship, is going to be needed to put our theoretical troops into atmosphere before they can land. I don’t think we have enough capital assets in the Judicial Forces to do that.”

    “So, you think we should amend the request to provide an interplanetary lander?”

    “That or we amend the capital ship requirements to accommodate the AIAT in sufficient numbers to fill the hole in the LAATs capabilities. If nothing else then commando missions are going to require smaller ships for their insertion, and I don’t think that anyone whose standing up a galactic scale army is going to want to set up a completely separate supply line just to accommodate the needs of any commando units.”

    “Why does this worry you?”

    “Because it will directly affect us, as Jedi,” Ori replied promptly. “If there is a war then we are going to be called on to serve on the front lines, probably attached to the commando portions of the army if we aren’t asked to take command. When that happens… Jedi serve best as small unit commanders. We should have a standardized means to pull a company or less along with us when we go on missions. From what I see in this request we are going to need to pull a full legion in order to have standardized transport or go on every mission using our own resources.”

    “You do not believe we should take command of the army being built,” Skrath said with certainty. He had never gotten a clearer indication from the Force then he had now. Something about the thought Ori had just verbalized had made the Force jump up and down like an excited puppy. For all of his extensive knowledge, and use, of the Force this was a first for Skrath. He had never been one for prognostications, and so he was left unsure of how to deal with this. He badly needed the wisdom of those Masters who regularly attempted to divine the currents of the Force for answers, and given the situation he did not think it safe to do so over a Holonet call.

    “No, I do not,” Ori answered firmly, but there was a note of trepidation in his voice. As if he feared saying what he saw out loud. “I think I could do so, eventually, but the cost of learning how to command would be unacceptable in terms of lives lost. I believe with training I could easily lead a company or smaller sized unit, but an entire legion such as one Acclamator would bring to the battlefield? I would be lost, and swiftly overwhelmed by the currents of the Force when I’d leaned on it for the expertise which I would desperately need. I’m not sure if there are any Jedi who have the basic requisite knowledge to lead such a large force without extensive training and retraining. I think the only Jedi who would be able to use the Force to navigate such a situation would be those who sit on the council…”

    “And if they were out in the galaxy leading army groups then they would not be doing their primary jobs and lending the Jedi who need it their wisdom…” Skrath contemplated the hypothetical situation which Ori was sketching out. A terrible suspicion entered his mind, and he thought about voicing it but decided that doing so would not be prudent at this juncture. He would have to talk with Ori about his prophetic abilities at a later date, but now was not the time. “Have you checked the data we got from Master Dza’Lya to see if there was a request for proposal for an assault shuttle? Because it sounds to me like that is exactly what you are looking to turn the LAAT into.”

    “I hadn’t considered that,” Ori frowned as he made that admission. “You think that another company would have gotten that contract? From what I’m seeing Rothana seems to have snagged most of the troop related contracts, at least in terms of space assets.”

    “Yes,” Skrath thought for a moment, remembering exactly who made the current shuttles that the Judicial forces used. “Perhaps Cygnus Spaceworks? If I remember correctly, they already make shuttles for the judiciary. Then again, perhaps not. Still the idea that Jedi would need to command such large forces is a worrying one.”

    “Exactly. It’s why I want to push for RHI to use what they have already developed to provide the mid rim with an acceptable warship. If the Jedi aren’t prepared to lead a war then we need to have established a reliable source of commanding officers. The SDF’s which exist at this time, aren’t that. The only ones big enough to provide the officers we would need are…”

    “Completely unacceptable to most of the galaxy,” Skrath acknowledged. He was well aware of just how few friends the core worlds had made over the past century, and how they were viewed by the rest of the republic. This was something he would need to meditate one, deeply, before he came to a real conclusion. For the moment, perhaps it was best to let his Padawan have his head. “We cannot change the requirements laid down in this contract, much as I would like to. We do not have that power. My own inclination would be to let things shake out, discover the currents of the Force and let our investigation lead us to the answers we need. Unfortunately, we do not have the time to do so… perhaps it would be best if you went ahead with your scheme for the Mid Rim. If nothing else it will provide us with a fallback position should the worst come to pass.”

    “You are not worried about it creating the very threat whomever contracted this fleet expected to face?” Ori asked wide eyed.

    “No, this fleet, and everything connected to it is clearly bent towards countering a threat which exists now, in this moment. It isn’t the result of a Force user prognosticating; it is too narrowly focused. Someone in the senate fears just what the Trade Federation and its allies will do once their will is thwarted too many times through the legal channels available to members of the Republic,” Skrath laughed without mirth as he said that. “Everything we have seen here is built to directly counter a known part of their military, and I would not be surprised if the rest of the contracts we have discovered are the same. If anything, that worries me more than it should, everything we have found is too symmetrical. It’s as if our mysterious senatorial friends looked at the intelligence reports the Judicial Forces provided them regarding Naboo and then used those to set the requirements for this contract when they should have said that those intelligence reports were the minimum requirements.”

    “To play the Sith advocate,” Ori again hesitated in reluctance. “They might very well be doing just that. Everything we see here has been done covertly, and I doubt that hiding the funding for this was easy. Could it be that they lack the resources to do more then give us parity for the beginning stages of any war they predict?”

    “That is logical,” Skrath agreed mildly then speared his Padawan with a look. “But since it’s your ‘Sith advocate’ position, you don’t believe it.”

    “I don’t,” Ori admitted without concern. “I think that the Senate is, at this point in time, an inherently corrupt institution. One which has grown to reward corruption in almost all of its forms. Given that war is inherently wasteful, then greater opportunities to gain power and money exist. I… feel… that anyone senate side who sees a war coming is looking at the opportunity it represents for them personally, and not for the good of the Republic. They are investing now on the cheap, and waiting for their investment to thrive when and if a war breaks out, before they reap the rewards of their foresight. Not only that but by aiming for parity with their initial investment they can guarantee a long war with many follow up contracts as the Republic struggles to gain the upper hand… and that would mean profit for any far sighted being who predicted the war in the first place.”

    “That is an unfortunately plausible explanation,” Skrath admitted. He could see just how Ori had reached that conclusion, one wouldn’t even need the Force to see the plausible scenario Ori had concocted, just a sufficiently cynical outlook. One that Ori had in full, along with very little belief in the value of the senate, or the rest of the institutions of the Republic. “Which is why I am entertaining your suggestion at all.”
     
  14. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Sidious is going to be annoyed. Possibly a little amused, depending on what he finds out, but annoyed.

    Luckily for Ori, Palpatine isn't likely to think that a mere padawan could possibly know so much, nor have figured this all out on his own, and he may not believe that Skrath could. IMHO, he's more likely to think that someone is feeding them information, but isn't likely to believe that that someone is the Force.
     
  15. Threadmarks: 4.4
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Massive thanks to lloyd007 on SB.com. He not only got my grammar ect to an acceptable levels but put the ending of this section to rights. Much better then what I had come up with.


    “Your report X-RAD?” Ori asked softly as he tried to calm his mind while making his way towards the office of the engineering team in charge of the now Acclamator project. He was about to try and immerse himself in the Force once again, to control the flow of conversation, and achieve his objectives. Skrath might believe that he was going to be finding everything there was to find about the Acclamator project from first hand observation and he had every intention of getting Skrath his information, after all anything that made Palpatine’s life harder made his more likely to continue, but just finding the clones wasn’t the only avenue available to him in order to disrupt Palpatine’s plans.

    “Accounts check, minor deviations within the expected standard deviation,” X-RAD answered in huttese. Ori had taken to having the droid converse in just that language as long as they were on world. KDY and RHI employees tended to be core worlders, and they had absorbed the racism and speciesism that the empire had later preached as easily as their mothers’ milk. High human culture was a cancer on the galaxy, but it could not be removed due to the political situation. With the Core holding almost all the power in the Senate the toxic ideology was allowed to flow unchecked from the Core out to all of the human colonies. Yet another reason for him to work to subtly strengthen the Mid Rim, they didn’t have that problem. With the generalized retreat of the Judicial Forces from the Rim and the rise of corporate militias they had bigger problems. “Tranches of Acclamator class vessels identified. Data on where the finished vessels are to be delivered not available, escrow accounts to be closed at the other end via one-time pad coding protocols. Close code indicated satisfactory delivery.”

    “Has there been enough activity in the materials purchasing accounts to indicate that the vessels have been completed, and has payroll logged the hours needed to complete the ships?” Ori asked mildly. He thought he knew where they would go but if Palpatine had made a mistake here he might be able to delay the clone wars. Especially if he could prove more than one of those ships had slipped its mooring and headed out before Naboo had occurred. One Acclamator on its own could be plausibly denied, not serial production.

    “No. Indications of expected industrial accidents and insurance pay outs match with past performance of the yards.” X-RAD replied firmly. “Combined with resource account activity and payroll it can be concluded that the ships are still being built.”

    “Any indications of where those ships will go?” Ori asked faintly. He had a very good idea, but he wouldn’t be able to prove it. Kamino was for the moment a lost world. Or at least he thought it was, he had never been clear on when it had been removed from the Jedi archives and his memory wasn’t perfect. “Additionally, is there any indication on how those ships are to be delivered? Perhaps hiring an outside crew?”

    “No data available.” X-RAD replied primly. “Termination and acceptance codes are accepted via hypernet. No plans registered in RHI systems for delivery, indicating outside sources for delivery and verification plans.”

    “So, we know the ships are being built and they are going somewhere in the galaxy, just not here. X-RAD, go to observe and record mode for this next meeting, best not let them know we brought a proper auditor to back up the Jedi,” Ori sighed as he said that X-RAD did have an ego, and it was best to placate him or he might intentionally disrupt things. Then he squared his shoulders took a deep shuddering breath, and let himself go. He let the Force flow through him, the calming energy filled with a great and terrible purpose. Something felt wrong here, he knew it deep in his bones, but Ori took another deep breath and let himself push the door open and greet the engineering team he was here to see. He couldn’t afford to let his issues get in the way of accomplishing his missions, all of them. “Master Kiilik it is good to see you again!”

    “Padawan Daki,” Reginal said evenly. The young human was a bit overweight but he looked healthy to Ori’s eyes. The rest of his team, not so much. They all showed signs of sleep deprivation and their skins held the pallor of those who rarely if ever saw the light of a true star. “You requested the team brief you on the testing performed on the first Acclamator before it was accepted into service…”

    “Yes, it was rather odd we did not have an independent team out here to do the evaluation,” Ori replied simply. “Outside of procedure you could say. Having the yard which designed and built the ship being the same one to test it, is going to raise issues in the Senate. Having looked over your documentation I liked what I saw, but you know politicians…”

    Ori looked around to see the effects that his words were having on the team. They had looked slightly reassured when he announced he had looked over their documentation, but their faces fell when he mentioned how irregular their testing had been, and soured even further when he mentioned the Senate. From what he was feeling they all believed in the project, and thought it would work as advertised. That said sentients did have this little self-delusion problem so it would be better if he went over what they had done with them and tried to poke holes in it.

    “What more could you want!” one of the female engineers spoke up with a distinctive Kuatii accent. Not having been introduced Ori didn’t know her name but he did know that she would be the key to getting what he wanted, this knowledge washed over him even as she continued a belligerent tirade. “We ran all of the standard tests, not just the ones required, we pushed that ship almost to destruction with the testing we did. Then when that was over, we took her into dark space, set her computers to run a simulation, and ran that simulation while at full power. When that worked, we went back and did it again with a couple of corvettes who shot at her while she was running the simulation just to be sure that there wasn’t an error in her power grid.”

    “Myra, enough,” Reginal said plaintively running his hands over his face. “I know the testing was good, you know it, but Padawan Daki wasn’t there and he has to convince the Senate that we did what we said we did.”

    “They should take our word for it,” Myra snapped back mulishly. Suddenly Ori knew just how to get her onboard. She had been the lead engineer on the Venator hanger section he had accidentally been sent. He should have just thought it was part of a proposed refit for the Acclamator, but he had recognized it as part of a Venator, a project he shouldn’t have known about. He had his in. She would want to show the engineers back on Kuat they were wrong to send her into exile and that her designs would have been perfect for their big project. Of course, he had to do this without letting on that he knew what the design had originally been for.

    “Well yes, the results from your tests were impressive. I was particularly impressed by your dedication during the run with the corvettes, that was inspired… I think the recordings you gave me are good enough, they certainly are thorough. Still I actually do a bit of dabbling at engineering so I know a bit about it, unlike most of the Senate, I’m sure you saw my ship after all,” Ori smiled gently.

    “Dabbling is right,” Myra shot back waspishly, ignoring the horrified looks she got from her colleagues. “For all the good idea you did a scrapyarder’s implementation. Just taking parts from other ships and plugging them into your own while praying to the Force it holds together does not make you a qualified engineer!”

    “Oh, I agree completely,” Ori’s smile transformed into something closer to what you would see on a shark just before it bit down. “But that’s the galactic standard for amateur engineering. So, with that in mind, and in the interest of making my life easier, I had a bit of an idea for you all. You see the issue is the components, you have a brand-new environmental system, a new weapon fit and power grid, new engines, and worst of all from an amateur prospective a new hyper matter reactor.”

    “Of course, we do!” Reginal sounded offended. “Nothing else would allow us to meet the specs we were given!”

    “So, what you need is for those components to be recognized galaxy wide as the top of the line,” Ori set the bait. He wanted to pursue just where those specs had come from but the Force was being very clear that he wouldn’t get anywhere asking about it.

    “And how are we to do that? The Acclamator is a proprietary project for the Republic, we can’t sell any of them to other customers for at least a decade, probably longer…” Myra grumped out in support of her boss.

    “Exactly,” Ori strode to the center of the room and made his way to what looked like a holo projector. “If I may?”

    “And what brilliant brain storm do you have to show us?” Reginal asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “This.” Ori stuck a chip into the holo projector and his rough sketch came to life, only it wasn’t just a rough sketch of a ship. There were detailed blueprint stage parts of it, mostly the systems he had named and the hanger bays. “As you can see, this is just a reuse of your already developed components in a smaller package, one that can directly compete with the Dreadnought for the growing Mid Rim market. Now you would need to get the rest of the ship completed, but by the time the Acclamator is revealed to the Senate at large rather than the select committee on judicial procurement, I’m sure you can have this or something very like it be one of the most popular military vessels in the Mid Rim…”
    Ori knew Naboo had been a wake-up call to the Mid Rim, making them realize that they were on their own if a hostile power came knocking. That their defences based on fighters just wasn’t enough. Naboo had the almost peerless N-1 as a strike fighter, making its defence forces better then anything else in that region of space, and they had still lost against the Trade Federation. Unlike the Outer Rim, where not having a strong military was an invitation to be raided, the Mid Rim had long relied on a combination of the Judicial forces, Outer Rim security services, and the occasional Core based defence force punitive expedition to keep their planets free of conflict. With just enough striking power kept locally to give the other forces time to respond when they yelled for help.

    The way the Republic’s military was run now was similar to the ideal put forth by the founding fathers of the United States in his last life. A small professional army backed up by a capable militia. That was a system which could work, especially as each planet and sector had their own defence force, but it left the Republics Judicial forces with very little combat power. Especially when you considered just how large their area of operations were. The Mid Rim had just received a brutal wake up call that without combat power of their own the Judicial Force just didn’t have the weight of metal to come running and solve their problems. The politics of the situation meant that no core defence force was likely to back them up with the heavy metal they needed either.

    When the clone wars broke out, things would get worse, everyone would look out for themselves first, the rest of the Republic a distant second. Ori needed to allow the Mid Rim to build their own defence forces to the point where they could be used in offensive operations. If they held the line perhaps then the clone army wouldn’t be needed, and the Senate cared less about dead Mid Rim soldiers then they did about those from the Core. Even better the clones might not end up under the Jedi, instead being put under the command of successful commanders from the Rim.

    Ori had spent the last night going over the engineering documents that the project had generated, and a few that had accidentally been included when they were sent over, and had a solution to offer those Mid Rim planets. The standard answer of buying one of the many variations of the Rendelii Dreadnought Heavy Cruiser wouldn’t work for them. The vessel was just too crew intensive. Instead Ori had taken the armament, power plant, and environmental system from the Acclamator project and shoved it onto a rough six-hundred-meter wedge shape, with two hanger bays stolen from what he thought was the Venator project in the bow, creating what looked very much like a Gladiator class light Star Destroyer, or at least what he remembered it looking like. It was hardly a finished design but it would give the team ideas. He was counting on their greed taking it from there.

    “It would answer the Senate’s questions. Certainly, having something like this would let us avoid the inconvenience of a full senatorial investigation,” Reginal agreed with wide eyes as he looked over the sketch. Internally his mind was racing, why was the Jedi suggesting this. Sure, it would make RHI’s life easier, as they wouldn’t need to call in any of the KDY internal security teams to manage a senatorial audit and keep their trade secrets secret. He didn’t see how the Jedi were served by keeping RHI in the clear. Unless, maybe, it was an issue of manpower? Everyone knew that the Order had an extremely limited number of operatives and a direct senatorial degree was one of the few things that could get the Order to open a full investigation, one that would consume more than ten Jedis full attention for at least a year. Perhaps that was his answer. “Interesting, I see you included the modular hanger from another project. How did you get your hands on that, if I may ask?”

    “I thought it was an idea for turning the Acclamator into a carrier, or at least producing a carrier variant of the hull. After all it was included in the technical data dump you sent over. Considering how well your team has done on the rest of the ship I saw no reason not to include their good work. Especially something like this where you managed to get it up to the detailed blueprint stage,” Ori answered with a shrug. “I thought that with the major components already designed and in production it would take you maybe a year to get this into the testing stages, a year and a half to two in order to bring it to market… at which point the questions about the Acclamator I will need to answer will be substantially reduced.”

    “Zack, Derren? You two handled most of the human comfort parts of the Acclamator,” Reginal said firmly stroking his chin. “How much could you reuse and could your teams do it?”

    “The troop bays are modular,” an older human answered looking over the projection. “If I may?”

    “It’s your equipment,” Ori replied and stepped back. He watched as the two humans advanced on his design and started to slot other completed components into it. It was interesting to watch, and would probably save more than a few months of design time, but he also knew this was just a start. More importantly in his eyes were the words which Reginal had used, human comfort. It seemed that the design team was aware that the Acclamator was meant primarily to have human crews, another data point to bring up with the council.

    “Two battalion sized bays would do the trick,” The older human said to his younger companion. “How many of the crew modules would work here Zack?”

    “Not as many as I would like.” The now identified Zack moved up to the holo projection and put a couple of clusters of crew quarters into the design. They also looked like they were modular. That was interesting, Ori would have to keep an eye on the Kuat design team when he went there. It seemed that Rothana had come to the conclusion that individual modules were the answer to almost everything, how many would be used on the Venator, and later the Tector class. Perhaps this was how Lira Wessex had completed her Imperial class destroyer as quickly as she had in the future he knew from the films. “We would need to re design the connection points for the interior modules, this design isn’t as linear as the Acclamator… that said… I think it’s very doable.”

    “Software?” Reginal was getting excited, even as he tried not to show it. He clearly could see how this would advance his own career. Putting out a ship like this with the market for defensive ships being in such high demand as it was? That could very well land him in the ranks of upper management and his greed was rising.

    “Fire control, engineering, and Navigation can all be left alone. The only issue is going to be with the environmental controls but that’s not that big of a project…” and we’re off to the races Ori thought with a mental smirk. Now his idea had the attention of the design team, and they were investing in it. A feeling made him turn and he found himself studying the frowning face of Myra.

    “Good enough idea for a hack job,” Myra kept her voice low so as not to be overheard over the babble coming from the other engineers. “Still that can’t be all of the issues you have…”

    “No, it’s not,” Ori answered her softly. “This will just make my life a bit easier. If I can say that the tech is proven then there will be less questions. Answering questions before the entire Senate is not something, I look forward too. If I can keep the inevitable interrogation to the select committee on procurement, well that’s a win for me.”

    “And all you have to do is convince us to do your work for you,” Myra’s cynicism came through clearly in her reply. Ori wetted his lips and tried to formulate the best response; she clearly knew something more then she had let on but he wasn’t sure how to get it from her. The force decided to take a hand, nudging him back towards his design and away from the questions he wanted to ask her about where the ships were going. He opened his mouth to start back on his original track of questioning but the force just nudged him harder away from that. Silently Ori closed his mouth and tried to think his way through, before simply accepting that it would be a bad idea to ask.

    “There are a lot of questions on this project, and you aren’t the only manufacturer we need to audit. Anything that reduces the work load is appreciated. Especially given there are only two of us, where we should have full auditing teams for each of our stops. Unfortunately, the Chancellor wants this to be done quietly, for all that he wants it done right, so we have limited trusted manpower to get the job done.” Ori shrugged as he admitted that. “Frankly I wish we could call in those auditing teams, while I’m confident enough in my own skills there is a lot to do and I’m sure that I’m missing things. Even with what I’ve already seen I really want to take a close look at the committee which came up with the specifications, the bunking specs have been bothering me since I saw them.”

    “Agents of the Senate, can’t you just ask about that?” Myra shook her head, clearly dodging the question as she shifted into a verbal attack. “There are times I think you Jedi do more harm than good. You offer the politicians too many short cuts, create too many miracles for them, and so the rest of us end up not doing our jobs as well as we should because we know you will be there to catch us if we stumble.”

    “I am well aware of the issues in the Order, thank you very much,” Ori replied sharply. He didn’t want to get into this with her, especially since he agreed with her basic point. Not to mention the annoyance she was radiating at him through the Force. There were times when he was amazed by the way non force sensitives could affect the Force through their emotions, and this was one of them. “You just have to look at where we failed to deliver to see what things would be like without us. Still it would be nice if the politicians would allow the other arms of the government the funds, they need to do their jobs, certainly would mean less work for all of us.”

    “Aren’t you worried about how these ships will be manned?” Myra challenged and Ori found himself replying without thought or will.

    “That will be another team of investigators, we were only supposed to look at the financials of this project and found ourselves with a bigger job then we thought.” That wasn’t what he had wanted to say, that wasn’t it at all. Ori's thoughts suddenly raced, and for an instant the calmness of the Force seemed to switch off leaving the great and terrible purpose of its designs revealed... and it was familiar, but yet not. As an adult human and twi'lek toddler, Ori had had no comprehension, much less control, over the maddening event that had defined him, but that was then. The calmness rushed back and it was changed into the straitjacket that wrapped around the panic, dragging it and the revelations of the future away to where it would no longer threaten the objectives he'd just accomplished. Ori made his good byes, saying just the right words to encourage the engineers to think further on the project even as the screaming in his mind started to echo, each one louder than the last.
    As he walked back to the Serenity, his pace grew quicker. The screaming of that first panic creating new panics and empowering them against the straitjacket of the Force as if his panic had a Force of its own. Ori started taking shortcuts to get back to the Serenity, passing through restricted areas without care or hindrance as he muttered "You do not notice me" under his breath as a mantra, and no one he passed was even startled as he danced unseen around them. The echoes of screaming panic abated as he entered the Serenity's hangar bay, but then the noise in his mind grew louder as the screaming that was still there was joined by shouts of rage, howls of despair, peals of cynical laughter and more besides. An ugly thought broke through and Ori beat back the sudden urge to pull the hangar's cargo crane out of its moorings and chuck it as far as he could. If Starkiller could pull down a Star Destroyer with the Force, he could chuck a crane. Ori sprinted up the gangplank as the hook on the end of the crane started to sway, not stopping until he stood before his fresher mirror, staring into it as the single unifying thought ran through all parts of him, and all parts quailed a bit at having to voice that thought, but they all did, "My will is my own. mywillismyown mYw iL L ismyO wn MY WILL IS MY OWN! MyWillIsMyO..." Ori crumpled bonelessly to the floor.
     
  16. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Oh, wow. Ouch!
     
  17. Abnormalus

    Abnormalus Getting some practice in, huh?

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    I have no idea why this isn't more popular, your grammer is on point and the story is highly entertaining, along with it being a story that isn't out there a whole lot in SW.
     
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  18. Kite

    Kite Getting out there.

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    I'm rather on board with a Jedi who does the sithspawned paper work. Giving the master an accounting cert was a nice touch.
     
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  19. Threadmarks: 4.5
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    I took a three year break on this one, as what I had down wasn't very long... well it kinda fell into obscurity. That said, thank lloyd007 over on SB for keeping the Grammar on track yet again.

    Ori was not feeling refreshed this morning, if anything he felt beaten down and confused, a condition he couldn’t seem to shake. Sleeping on the ‘fresher floor wasn’t conducive to restful sleep. After his near explosion last night, the last thing he wanted was to let his emotions go. That had been all to close, for him and if he had really lost it for the entire star port, possibly the planet depending on what had been in the docks. He hadn’t, wouldn’t, look that up for his own peace of mind. Before he did anything today, he needed to find his center, and he could already tell that would prove to be… difficult.

    Ori’s thoughts wondered, to an uncomfortable degree, before he gained a semblance of control by focusing on his need for normalcy. Normally when he woke up it was easy to brush off the cobwebs of sleep and quickly center himself. It wasn’t a sure thing, there had been times when he needed to meditate in order to regain his center but… nothing had ever affected him like last night had, not even his Force binge had left him this discombobulated. Worse still, in his opinion at least, he wasn’t even entirely sure what had happened. He knew he had nearly lost it, but the emotional storm had come from somewhere, and not just being trapped in the Force. Or was it that he wasn’t sure just how he came to be trapped in the force?

    With that thought in mind Ori made his way down to the cargo hold, and started to run through his lightsaber velocities. Jar’kel, the more complicated the better. Even as he completed the first motion, though, he realized slipping into the velocity’s wasn’t what he had sought, his mind still churned with emotion and unwanted thoughts. He almost snarled in frustration, just barely restraining that impulse. Emotions were the enemy at the moment, he needed to be calm, to be contemplative. It was just that his normal paths to that state didn’t seem to be working. He stopped barely halfway through the second velocity and frowned. This wasn’t doing anything for him, it might be that it was too familiar. Ori was good enough with a saber that he didn’t need to think about running velocities, he didn’t even bother to call on the force when he did so some times. He had thought it was good practice for those times when he became overly emotional, allowing him to find comfort in a familiar routine and bring himself under control, just another little trick which he had figured out.

    Of course, that wasn’t his only trick. He worried his lip for a moment, before deciding. If the velocities couldn’t hold his attention then he would need to make sure he didn’t allow his mind to wander. Ori deactivated both of his lightsabers and fiddled with them. Turning the intensity up from their training setting to full power. Ori was never careless when he had a weapon in hand, and running the velocities would force his mind to be concentrated on the sabers, lest he lose a limb. Once that was done maybe he would be able to actually think.

    It didn’t work. Ori got halfway through the opening routine before his attention slipped and his left hand saber got just out of position enough to take the very tip of his boot off. Ori scrambled to deactivate the sabers and just stood in the center of the hold, his breath harsh and panting as he dealt with the excess adrenalin. It had been years since his own stupidity had come this close to hurting him in light saber practice, and the feeling wasn’t one he would ever forget.

    “Kriff it,” Ori’s voice rang strangely hollow around the empty hold. He couldn’t go with any of his familiar routines, not even the emergency back ups he had thought up in his spare time. This was a kriffing disaster. Ori realized he was going to have to sit and meditate properly, and he couldn’t even use the Jedi style meditations which Skrath had forced him to do recently. This was going to have to be a true 'forceless' meditation session, just him and his own mind, without any external factors. No little short cuts, no cheating by moving, no playing with the Force while his master's back turned, and especially no letting the Force guide him. Ori silently let his shoulders slump, even as he clipped his sabers to his belt.

    “This is going to suck, isn’t it?” Ori’s plaintive question was left unanswered. The Force was quite now, something he was grateful enough not to question. He didn’t think he could deal with the force on top of his own issues. He had always had issues with meditation, both in his last life and in this life, Ori’s mind was too active to easily fall into a contemplative state. Thoughts raced through it, diving off into rabbit holes without consideration or any input from his will, even when he concentrated. Just about the only way he had managed to make it through initiate training had been to play with the Force while meditating, that or perform active meditation where the need to concentrate on his body overwhelmed his thoughts.

    Ori sank to the floor, in a controlled slump and crossed his legs to get comfortable. He would be here for a while and it would be best if he didn’t come out of this more sore and aching than he already was. Once he had settled, he frowned, as he tried to work through the best ways to calm his emotions and keep his train of thought from derailing. Music would be an easy topic to concentrate on, but he had always mentally linked emotions and memories to songs. It would be all too easy for him to call up the emotional storm that still rumbled threateningly.

    Ori ruled out pure thought next. He knew himself well enough to see how futile that path would be. Perhaps food? No, again that was linked to memories of his past life and the emotions he had never directly confronted. Something he was going to have to do sometime in the future, but not now. He was already a mess, throwing that firmly sealed can of worms open would do nothing for him. Ori huffed in frustration as he thought of new methods, memories, and sensations, only to disregard them one at a time. Nothing he could think of would work.

    Despite his frustration Ori pressed on, presenting new ideas to his mind and then rejecting them. Until finally, finally, a stray thought gave him an idea. Sensation, that might be the key. The reason he found moving meditation so easy was sensation. The closest he had ever come to true meditation in his last life had been while hiking, the feel of his muscles working had always offered a focus to his mind allowing him to clear it. A facet from his last life which had carried over in full, running velocities might take a bit longer but the effect was the same, muscles calling for attention and focusing his mind. Of course, doing so directly had not worked, but the mental exercise might.

    Thinking hard Ori tried to call up a set of sensations which would calm his emotions and allow him control. He had to deal with that first before he even thought about trying to deal with the Force. Finally, he settled on a memory, much to his surprise it was one from his past life, lying in bed with his cat on his chest. The feel of fur and the cat's soft rumbling purr echoing through his chest was easy to concentrate on to the exclusion of everything else. Each time his brain tried to turn away from the memory he was contemplating a new sensation brought his attention back to it. Claws gently kneading his chest, the rough feel of a cat’s tongue on his nose, and further to the chill of a cool winter day on his skin.

    Ori wasn’t sure how long he sat there, lost in his own memory, but finally he could think again without feeling like his thoughts were a flock of birds flying through a thunderstorm. Gently, ever so gently, he pushed the memory back and went through the exercises that Skrath had taught him in order to minimize his Force presence. He pulled himself into a smaller and smaller ball, cutting the Forces access to his being, controlling the connection and making it his own. Then, once he felt he had a firm grip on that connection, he deepened his presence in it for a bit and started using that force to construct a barricade between the thoughts and emotions he knew were his and those that were... otherwise. Finally, emotionally calm and away from the influence of the Force, he began to think. Letting slack on the leash he had kept on his mind, allowing it to run free, but ready to pull the leash back in an instant if crane tossing and other, similar thoughts reared their ugly heads.

    Point the first; the Force was not human, or alien on a contemplative level, it was a vast and unknowable entity. No singular being could comprehend it, it was simply too big. Point the second; he had asked it in an accepted way to accomplish goals, and it had. He had achieved two out of the three goals he had set out to accomplish. The Gladiator... no... Upholder project was beginning, and the engineering team was invested in bringing it to completion. The data that Skrath, and Ori himself to be honest, had wanted was discovered. They knew everything there was to know about the Acclamator and how it had been presented to the engineering team. They had been able to discover guidance which hadn’t been on the initial request for proposal, little things which the Force would amplify into starting points for further investigation.

    Everything had gone well, right up until he had tried to force his last objective. He had utterly failed to find out where the Acclamators were going to be delivered. Or had he? That was a worthy subject for a follow up investigation in its own right. Had had tried too much? Pushed the Force in too many divergent directions? Was that why he had been slapped down so thoroughly? Or had it been something he had brought into the Force? He had never been one to plan, his preference to keep flexible and change when circumstances changed being a feature of his personality in both lives but… when he had made a plan, spent the time and effort to figure out the most logical path and then attempt to follow it up, he had hated last minute changes to that plan. Was that why he had been controlled away from the final objective?

    That was a possibility. Ori was well aware that each being’s connection to the Force was intensely personal. You got what you put in when you used the Force. It was established by Master Odan-Urr in his seminal book Meditations that was why the dark side came so easily to most beings. They were putting more of themselves into the Force then a Jedi ever could, he had described it as sacrificing parts of your vary being for power. Emotional use of the Force pushed more of a being into the force then the calm contemplative method of the Jedi. Considering the power of the Force pushing behind his panic assisted flailing last night, Ori could believe that. He might have unknowingly pushed his own attitudes into the Force and then slapped himself down without realising it. That was an unpleasant thought to contemplate.

    That wasn’t the only possibility. The Force might have pointed him away from wrecking his primary objective when he tried to divert to what in his mind was a secondary objective. He knew where the ships were meant to go after all, so had he subconsciously ordered his priorities with the Gladia... Upholder being the most important? That was another unpleasant possibility to contemplate. Of course, the fault for last night laying squarely on his own shoulders wasn’t the only possibility. In hindsight, Ori had to acknowledge that it was the most likely possibility. He had tried to do too much and been overwhelmed; it was a logical supposition which could fit the facts. Even minor mistakes when you were working with as much power as he had been using yesterday could have vast consequences, and the paranoia Ori had only started trying to tame since becoming a padawan waltzed back into his thoughts, turning them to darker and worse possibilities.

    The veil of the dark side was real, and he might have run into it here. After all he was working directly to counter Sidious’s plans. An oblique approach like the Upholder project hadn’t pulled any response, but a direct attack? He didn’t think that his redirection and the subsequent panic had been motivated by the dark side. The Force hadn’t felt any different in emotional content as it had locked him into a course and made sure he kept to it. Then again, his panic attack and the emotions which had been stirred up once the Force had released its grip on him, that could very well have been backlash from the dark side. He had avoided even thinking about poking that particular bear, so he wasn’t sure. Ori just didn’t know enough.

    But beyond the veil there was the Force itself, and Ori allowed some notes of panic to sound in his contemplations to forestall them all from stampeding back in thinking about the possible will of the Force and how it was both incomprehensible and yet... blunt. Was the Force dedicated to the destruction of this incarnation of the Jedi Order as they had become too corrupt? That was a possibility. Ori had succeeded in his personal project, one that might have been sparked by the Force pointing him in that direction. He had followed its dictates in order to see what there was to see on the second. He could easily be said to have been following the will of the Force there. Discovering the Clones and the Grand Army of the Republic… while beneficial in the long run was a desire motivated by politics. There were other avenues of investigation which were open to follow up that lead, and the Force had been remarkably silent on the subject. Had he pushed too much political influence into his interactions with the Force and been slapped down for it? He knew he hadn’t been following the will of the Force with that avenue of investigation, and maybe that’s why it had been cut off so bluntly. Or it could be that by following up on the clones he would have wrecked his already in motion objectives. Perhaps the Force was prioritizing? If he were better with the Force then he might have been able to thread the needle, fulfilling all of his objectives, but he wasn’t. Could it be that the Jedi as a whole were pushing too much of their own agenda into the Force, annoying it and making them seem corrupt? Was that why the Force had allowed the Order to fall in the movies? Would...

    That's DEFINITELY enough of that! Ori pulled all the slack out of the leash, slammed on the emergency brakes and let other metaphors of that sort sweep through his mind to put a stop to those thoughts. For all the contemplation Ori had managed all that he could think of was that he couldn’t allow himself to use the Force at the moment. Even if he were perfectly calm at the moment, just the possibility that he had run into the veil of the dark side or something worse meant he needed to minimize his Force use here. If he had created his own punishment inadvertently or if it had been inflicted on him by the Force or Sidious didn’t matter at the moment. He couldn’t allow himself to trust the Force until he knew for certain and that couldn’t be accomplished here, or in the time he had. The investigation was still ongoing and he didn’t have the time to fully sort out his mind. He had made a start on that, but it wasn’t complete.


    “Meditating? I never thought I would see the day Ori’Daki willingly sat in contemplation without being prompted,” Skraths voice interrupted his building cycle of self-recriminations. Ori opened his eyes and gave his master an annoyed look.


    “You hate contemplation, don’t give me that look,” Skrath continued, watching his Padawan closely. Now that Ori was up and moving again, he could see that last night something had affected him deeply. “That said you look like poodoo, and I felt your panic, briefly, last night. Are you okay to continue?”


    “I…” Ori wanted to say yes, to deny his distress and charge forward. Unfortunately, that would be a terrible idea. He wasn’t sure of himself at the moment. “Do not know.”


    “Dangerous,” Skrath commented taking in his Padawans appearance. Ori looked like he hadn’t slept, the flesh surrounding his eyes had deepened in colour to a purple in sharp contrast to his normal teal flesh tone. If he hadn’t known better then Skrath would have thought his padawan had been without sleep for at least a week. “You have a meeting with Mistress Kuat this evening, just under seven hours away, do you want to put it off?”


    “No,” Ori answered swiftly. He could handle that easily enough, even if her prejudices would rub him the wrong way. He had already planned to keep the Force to himself when interacting with her so his confusion and unwillingness to use the Force wasn’t an obstacle to doing his job in this instance. “I do not want to deepen her prejudices, or validate them. Best to deal with her head on and get it over with.”


    “Are you completely sure?” Skrath raised an eyebrow. He disapproved of his padawans chosen course of action, Ori was obviously too shaken up in his eyes. Worse still his padawan was doing something to the Force, it almost felt like he was blocking it. A gentle probe against the phenomenon made Skrath pull back in shock, it felt wrong not in a dark side manner but more unsettling and unnatural. Skrath hadn’t thought that possible. “I could handle the meeting myself while you pull yourself together. You have made a good start but I can still feel your distress, even with you pulling your Force presence back beyond what is healthy.”


    “Again, that would play right into her prejudices and validate them,” Ori replied with a shake of his head. He began to rise only to sink back onto his ass. It seemed his legs had fallen asleep during his long meditation session. He started to rub them, welcoming the pins an needles sensation as it grounded him in the here and now. “Her unthinking dismissal of non-humans and their contributions to the Republic is dangerous, we cannot allow ourselves to feed into that.”


    “Agreed,” Skrath pursed his lips to argue and then changed his mind. Ori could be as stubborn as any of the council masters once his mind was set on a course of action. Ori also had a rebellious streak which would encourage him to go behind Skrath’s back if he thought what he was doing was right. Given his already out of sorts state Skrath didn’t need the Force to tell him simply forbidding his Padawan from attending the meeting and expecting obedience of any kind was a bad idea. Still he had to be sure that Ori would be able to do this. “That said you don’t just look like poodoo, you feel conflicted and confused even with you pushing the Force away from you as if it is an anathema to your very being. Can you really do this? Face feeling her contempt and hatred without responding?”


    “That would have been difficult even if I were in the best possible mental state. As it stands now, I have every reason of my own to keep the Force out of it, and that will be an advantage when dealing with her. I can do it; it will just be even less enjoyable then I thought it would be to begin with.”


    “I will accept your decision, but I have conditions. First, you will brief me in four hours on the specifics of your main talking points, so that no matter who attends it will be a fruitful meeting. Second; If you aren’t there an hour before you leave the ship, I am going to stop you.” Skrath decided. “I don’t just mean conflicted, but also if you are too emotional. A Jedi might have to push through their confusion and mental anguish at times but you do not need to now. If you are too out of sorts and in danger of hurting yourself of others, I will stop you before you take the first steps down that road.”


    “That makes more sense then I would like.” Ori finally got himself standing and shook out his legs one at a time. “Still in the long run my confusion should be good for me. If I can learn here how to deal with being in this state then when I am called to do so when it matters then it will be easier.”


    “No Ori, it won’t,” Skrath expressed his disapproval clearly. “You are planning on not using the Force, on keeping supressed for your own reasons. You are going to have to stop suppressing the Force the way you are before I let you leave. It’s giving me pins and needles from here, I don’t even want to think about how it would feel to a non-Force sensitive. But, far more then that practicality, is that this is not a lesson I want you to learn. Perhaps the mindset will be useful in time, but the actions you are planning to take are not the correct way. Given the way you learn it is possible that I am wrong, and that is why I am even considering allowing you to do this, but I want you to know that this is not the way. You are making a mistake here, and I am only allowing you to make this mistake because its safe enough to learn from.”


    Skrath felt the unnerving, twisted, absence of the Force abate, noting his Padawans blush almost as an afterthought as his own equilibrium returned. Whatever Ori had done had possibilities as a future combat technique, but it was deeply unpleasant to be around. If this was the sort of thing that his Padawan came up with while hiding his ‘frivolous’ playing with the Force Skrath would need to encourage him to ‘play’ out in the open where he could keep an eye on him. All Padawans played with the Force, much to their masters disapproval, and it was a right of passage to come up with a little trick or technique which would benefit them, and the order, in the long run. Ori on the other hand had come up with what looked an awful lot like a combat technique right out of the gate.


    “Possible,” Ori replied with a shake of his head. “I can even agree that this could very well be a mistake, my own mind is too conflicted for me to give you a solid opinion, but I think using the Force here would be a greater mistake. I am still not centered, and that would be even more dangerous then just supressing my connection to the Force. Even my attempts to center myself feel muddled and off, I’m not sure if it’s what I did to myself last night by going too deep into the Force or if there is an aspect of the Force which is off here on planet.”


    “That…” Skrath started and then stopped. Now was not the time to have that discussion with his padawan. He had felt that the Force was off here, but he hadn’t realised his padawan had also felt it. “Is a discussion we will be having later. For the moment, get ready, and for Forces sake keep your emotional control, don’t let your emotions control you no matter what Mistress Kuat says or feels.”


    “I will try,” Ori replied as he began to leave the hold.


    “Do or do not, there is no try,” Skrath replied severely.


    “Then I choose to do.”
     
  20. Threadmarks: 4.6
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Lloyd009 again consented to make this better, the errors remain my own.

    Yennefer Kuat was a nobles noble, and before her unfortunate incident at one of the most popular nightclubs on Kuat had been a rising star in the KDY management team. Unfortunately, despite her impeccable breeding, and powerful family connections, the scandal she had created meant she had been banished to Rothana. The official reason was to oversee a project for her family, but everyone on Kuat knew the truth. Worst of all her sideways promotion meant that she was out of the running to control her family’s corporation, something which burned her daily. She should have been on track to manage one of the major sections of the ring within the decade, at the very least, if not having risen to the rank of vice president for the entire corporation. A bit too much too drink and some unfortunate comments to the alien scum who had dared interrupt her relaxation on camera had ended that though. Damn publicity flacks and their power with the upper management. Now she would need to fight to reach even a proper middle management position at KDY, although… there were some interesting opportunities here at RHI. Being out of sight did have some advantages.

    “Your report, junior auditor?” Yennefer refused to use the meaningless Jedi title of Padawan, preferring to remind him of his station. It would have been proper to deal with Knight Kri; this blue whelp in front of her was clearly hung over, unacceptable, and yet because of the power of his organization she was forced to grit her teeth and bear Skrath’s insult without comment.

    “The reports from the engineering team check out, and we have the confirmation reports taken from the rescue vessels which were along for the initial trials on the Acclamator. The secondary trials you engaged in are also on chip and ready for the Senate’s perusal at their convenience. It should be enough to convince the procurement subcommittee, but there might be problems when it is released to the general senate.” Ori replied, ignoring the churning hatred and derision in front of him as best he could, clamping down hard on his connection to the Force yet again. He had allowed his concentration to lapse, and the feelings she was projecting were hardly subtle. This was his first time personally dealing with a high noble from one of the core systems and he had already decided that if he could avoid it then interacting with that set would not be happening. Every time one or more of the Republic's high nobles had visited the Temple, their contempt for ‘aliens’ had been a beacon in the Force, even as they were polite to the masters they were interacting with.

    “I have been hearing about 'your' suggestion there yesterday,” Yennefer grinned slightly as she contemplated the amount of power she was set claw back if the suggestion could be implemented. “For some reason my engineering team seems to have been working themselves too hard after you had a couple of words with them. What exactly did you say, if you don’t mind me asking?”

    “I just pointed out that they would be in line for a bonus should the vessel prove to be viable, and that they had already done something like seventy percent of the work,” Ori replied with a shrug. He was hoping to keep this short so he didn’t have to endure this woman for a moment longer than necessary. She was wearing at his already frayed control, and it didn’t help that without active suppression, his control over his own connection to the Force kept slipping so he was feeling flashes of something no matter what he did. He would have put this meeting off longer, but it had been scheduled a week ago. This was his duty and hiding in the Serenity was unacceptable, no matter what Skrath thought. Despite the pain of standing in front of this aristocrat, being here gave him a sense of accomplishment and structure, one he badly needed at this point in time. With his thoughts and emotions so chaotic still, Ori feared he would need structure for some time to come.

    “I see the Jedi have kept to a proper standard of education,” Yennefer commented dryly. It was good to see that the loss of so many good Jedi during the Potentium debacle a century ago had not completely crippled the Jedi. Such a pity that the order had not bowed to the wisdom of the nobility there, it would have made the Order so much more effective. Still, manners should have prevailed. They had sent one of their lapdog aliens to her instead of a respectable master. It was clear that the welp in front of her wasn’t the one who had put the initial proposal together, he was just the one who had delivered it. “The rest of the audit?”

    “Surprisingly clean, just two trouble spots,” Ori replied promptly. Internally grinning as he realized that he actually had something on her. Her pride was fully engaged in the Acclamator project and any defect he found would be taken personally.

    “Trouble spots? Where?” Yennefer narrowed her eyes at the auditor.

    “Your third shift materials transfer supervisor seems to be receiving a larger salary then I could account for. You might want to have an expert look over and check the loads he was accepting. While all of the materials he accepted that were tested during other shifts checked out, but you might want to re test what he accepted and see just why he’s getting such a large pay check.” Ori easily pointed out the first issue he had found. He had been very surprised at how ruthless Yennefer had been about stamping out even minor political corruption in this project. He could name more than three hundred beings who had been summarily dismissed just for the suspicion of graft or bribe solicitation. Then again, her pay was directly tied to how this project performed so she had good reason to keep the corrupt out.

    “Yan…” Yennefer let out a sigh. “I know where he’s getting his money and it’s not a problem, at least not for us.”

    “Oh?” Ori invited comment but Yennefer refused to be baited. She was hardly going to tell this outsider that Yan was one of her internal security people, charged with taking any bribes that came his way and then reporting them. Considering what she had read about how the Jedi operated, Kri might choose to get shirty about such entrapment. Of course, he could belong to one of the more grounded strains of thought which ran through the Order, but she doubted it. Sensible beings didn’t raise scum from Ryloth as high as this one had been raised. Knight Kri was undoubtedly one of those fuzzy headed dreamers.

    “I find myself surprised that you two found him,” Yennefer chose to respond with. Her tone clearly implying that Ori was too ignorant to have made the connection himself, asking with the same tone just how they had discovered Yan.

    “The Order offers some rather impressive training,” Ori simply stated blandly before moving on. It was clear to him he would not be getting anything from her over that particular issue. “The second major issue I found relates to how you award the commissary contracts. It seems that someone in your accounting department is taking at least a minor kick back. Three times over the course of the Acclamator project, commissary contracts have been abruptly terminated with the contractor replaced, and after each time there have been a flood of complaints from the workers. It might be a security issue, but considering at least one of the vendors in question was awarded another contract which was listed as an Acclamator project dependency on the internal paperwork soon afterwards I doubt it. I don't have access to the personnel financials of your accounting department, but they certainly were the ones who authorized the switches so…”

    “That I’m going to have to get security on,” Yennefer nearly snarled. She hated that this scum had found a defect in her organization, or at least been allowed to know about it, and from what she was hearing it was a legitimate one which her own auditing team had missed. There were going to be consequences for this, especially since she had been embarrassed in front of this strung out blue whelp. “I presume the data will be available to my own internal auditing team?”

    “Of course, as an Officer of the Judiciary I would be happy to lend my expertise to your auditing team should they need it.” Ori set his barb with precision, noting just how stiff and angry Yennefer got. The Kuat Noble would likely never forgive him for this, but he couldn’t help but take the opportunity to needle her. He would have taken it further, but his exhaustion was weighing him down. Even with his formidable will he was barely keeping sleep at bay, passing out was not sleep, as last night had proved. It didn’t even occur to him how bad an idea it was to further irritate a woman who was in such a position of power, especially when his own efforts were going to increase her power base.

    “I’m sure that will not be necessary,” Yennefer’s nostrils expanded like a bull and her tone went downright arctic. Ori would have known he had scored a hit from that alone, had her emotions not battered their way into his head, setting his teeth on edge. He fought down the fight or flight urge, letting nothing of his inner turmoil show on his face. His emotional turmoil has struck again, this time worse than it had been since he woke up. It would be best to get out of here before he started doing…things.

    “The remainder of the issues I found were minor, probably misfiled paperwork and the like. All of the instances were for values of under a thousand credits. Nothing to be concerned about on a project of this magnitude.”

    “I would still like my team to have a list of the inconsistencies you found,” Yennefer replied, her tone still icy. “I have found it best if small problems are handled promptly so they do not turn into larger problems down the road.”

    “Naturally,” Ori replied with a blinding smile and rose to exit her office as fast as was politely possible. “I will have the data couriered over to your auditing office by the end of the day. To whom should I address it?”

    “Marco Slaavik, he is the head auditor, with a second copy to myself,” Yennefer rose and gave the infuriating alien a slight bow, which he returned promptly before exiting her domain. As soon as the door had finished closing, she engaged the privacy field and spent the next three minutes cursing the incompetents in her auditing department. Getting herself under control was a bit of a chore, but worth it. It wouldn’t do to appear anything less than completely put together when she headed down to her team. She would need all of her hard-won patience to keep from physically attacking them when she verbally ripped their heads off for allowing her to be embarrassed in this way. If there was corruption it should have been found by her auditing team or hidden better, not exposed to her and the Judiciary by some two-bit Jedi and his alien scum apprentice.
     
  21. Threadmarks: 4.7
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “Reginal I know that this new project of yours offers some exciting possibilities but I do not understand just why you have thrown yourself into it to the exclusion of everything else,” Yennifer’s voice was made up of the frozen tundra of Hoth. Reginal was a good enough subordinate, but there were times she needed to yank his leash in order to keep him on task. Otherwise she would be faced with reading through an entire project's communication when it was finished, out of context notes and paper napkin sketches included. She needed to be able to head off any of his wild ideas before they metastasized into monsters.

    “Because…” Reginal’s face took on a stubborn mask for a moment before he broke in the face of his superior’s disapproval. He was well aware that she could kill the project with just a few words and that the paperwork he had been sending to her office was just a bit light. “It costs us next to nothing to do the back end work we need to do. The team is already assembled and unless you have another project to direct us to, we are simply waiting. I know that’s not the most efficient use of resources, and this gives us a chance to use what we have rather than let that expertise sit around doing nothing but costing us credits.”

    “I am well aware of those costs,” Yennifer answered sharply noting that Reginal had yet to answer her original question. “That hardly explains your new mania.”

    “I had a talk with Lester after the Jedi had brought up the project…” Reginal almost flinched back from the increased disapproval which Yennifer radiated.

    “And what exactly did Lester have to say which motivated you?”

    “That the Jedi were the Senates hammer,” Reginal answered gingerly. He wasn’t willing to go against Mistress Kuat when she was in high dudgeon like this. “That if there is a problem that cannot be solved by the regular forces then the Senate dispatches a Jedi to solve it with extreme prejudice.”

    “You repeat what is already known to me,” Yennifer’s voice contained a very clear suggestion that Reginal should stop wasting her time..

    “As you say, but they are a limited resource, and they know that,” Reginal found himself growing more confident as he saw he'd struck a chord with that logic, and laid out his case. “If they are suggesting that the Republic needs to upgrade its already existent forces, and they are the best trouble shooters that the Senate has access too, what does that tell you about the state of the galaxy at this point in time?”

    “I hadn’t thought about it like that,” Yennifer leaned back in her chair and pondered the implications of what Reginal was saying. Even as she did so her mind was racing to consider just what implications Reginal had missed. Unlike herself, he did not have access to one of the best spy nets in the galaxy, nor was he allowed to read the reports which were regularly sent to her as a member of the Kuat Family. She had known that the Republic was in for a time of unrest, the Naboo crisis only being the first undeniable symptom, but everything she had access to indicated that existing, or building, forces should be able to contain the various flare ups across the galaxy. Now she had just been provided an interesting bit of data from an organization which had a much better spy net. The Jedi must believe that they, and the multiple projects that were being completed even as she was having this conversation, were insufficient to meet the needs of the Senate at this time. It was the only logical reason for them to push for a ship which was designed to replace the 'venerable' Dreadnought in the hands of system defense forces across the galaxy. They obviously thought that such a ship would be needed, and that was a can of worms she didn’t want to contemplate. Considering that corporate intelligence had ferreted out just how many projects the Senate had recently launched, and which the Jedi were obviously aware of from their presence here, the Republic must be in for an even rougher time then she had thought. She needed to be cautious though, for despite the opportunities such a disruption might offer to industrialists such as her, the tidal wave of unrest could just as easily sweep over her as much as anyone else. Yennifer’s family was not the first to bare bear the Kuat name, they had seized it from another family centuries ago and made it their own. Should the galaxy experience a sudden disruption, then there was the very real possibility that another family from the upper crust of Kuat could very well do the same to them. She pursed her lips and tried to work through the pitfalls, before realizing the most obvious pitfall of indecision and inaction.

    The opportunity here was real, and enormous, but only if she and the rest of her family acted on the unexpected knowledge which had been dropped into her lap. They were already preparing for the disruption that the Senate worried about after all, the few extra precautions tied to a project like this were not that onerous. Her own actions might be secondary, but… Yennifer found herself grinning as she contemplated the possibilities. Her family would naturally need to remain on top of Kuat in order for their system to prosper, but who said that it needed to be the current branch of the family which bore the title Kuat of Kuats. She just needed to keep her mouth shut for the moment and make her own plans. Clawing back what little power she had before her fall from grace was nothing compared to the power she could taste, just waiting for her to reach out and claim it.

    “I want you to proceed with all haste,” Yennifer said slowly as she mentally plotted out the moves she would need to make in order to get back into a position of power on Kuat. One successful project would not be enough to end her exile, but two? Especially one which proved to be a far-sighted response to a threat her own family hadn’t seen coming? That could very well put her in a very solid position on the mother world. “Be thorough when you do the design. Don’t just take the initial documents' suppositions as facts, but actually look and check its assumptions so you don’t accidentally cripple the design. Remember the design studies about how the Dreadnought was crippled, despite its success for Rendellii. I do not want to have a similarly flawed project on my hands when you are done. Also, does it have a designation?”

    “The project is currently going under the name of Gladiator, a Rothana series Gladiator class 'Light Destroyer,'” Reginal answered swiftly.

    “Light destroyer?” Yennifer almost cracked up as she heard the designation. It sounded like the basic concept was for a customs frigate or the like. Perfect for throwing off anyone who wanted to sniff around the project for its purpose. No one would expect a heavy cruiser to be labelled using such an archaic designation for a frigate, and if they did then they would think it was just obfuscation in order to hide what they were seeking to build. After all, frigates and the like were Rothana's bread and butter, space side at least, the Acclamator was the largest ship that they had ever designed and built. The Acclamator itself being another way to throw off suspicion, and best of all it was one she could use on her own family without fear. Clearly this was the work of one of the more politically aware Jedi. Skrath and his teal skinned flunky manifestly didn’t have the savvy or brains for such a maneuver, but whomever was pulling their strings did. She would have to see if intelligence could put a name in front of her, better to deal with the puppet master then the puppets if she didn’t want to end up on the end of his or her string. “I rather like the concept. Why Gladiator though?”

    “I don’t know… it’s what the original file was labelled as when the Jedi dropped it on us,” Reginal shrugged as he admitted that. “I didn’t feel the need to change the name until we had officially begun working on it as a Rothana project rather than a blueprint and paper study.”

    “Don’t... change the designation that is,” Yennifer grinned as she saw what the Jedi behind this was doing. They had seen a need and were doing everything in their power to allow the project to go forward without any outside interference. It was nice when such a powerful organization went out of their way to clear your path, and it certainly made life easier for her. “I believe it would be best if we did proceed with this project, if nothing else it will keep home office from raiding my team now that our project is completed. Blissexhas certainly been vocal enough about her want for Myra from your team. That said I believe that marketing will have our heads if we use the name Gladiator, too militant, it would sound like we were marketing to pirates and their ilk.”

    “Of course, she is,” Reginal scowled as he said that. “That bitch wants everyone who has even the slightest scrap of talent working under her so she can steal the credit for their ideas. Now she is on her own and without her father to leach off of her reputation has been decreasing. Myra is exactly her preferred target too: young, naively cynical, and not knowledgeable enough about politics to avoid the knife which is destined for her back. As for the name… Lineholder?”

    “Tell me how you really feel,” Yennifer's eyes rolled a bit at the drama, she had known Reginal had issues with the outsider who had been brought in by KDY before his exile here, but she hadn’t known it had been so personal for him. Still, she would need to keep him in mind when she moved back home. It was always a good idea to have a competent engineer on tap to double check the work which came out of such wonderkids as Wessex. They might produce results, but all too often they tended to sell you a bill of goods unless you checked them carefully. “Even so, keeping your team intact is a goal we should strive for. This project just gives us the cover we need to do that without home office asking any awkward questions. Lineholder is too pedestrian… we need something evocative before we even bring it to the marketing department.”

    “Do we really need to have an evocative name for the paper study?” Reginal couldn't keep the whine from his voice. He really hated dealing with marketing, they kept telling him why his ideas wouldn’t be accepted even after he got them to work.

    “Of course, we do,” Yennifer snorted at her engineer’s reluctance. It figured that he missed the importance of doing his paperwork properly. “Once a project like this one is finished the materials requisition files go to the low security archives. You know how other shipbuilders dig through those for advantage. We need to make it look like this was a thought out concept from the moment when an engineer laid pen to paper, that we had a unified concept from the get go or your team is going to end up being the target of every corporate head hunter in the galaxy, not just the ones on Kuat.”

    “Kriff… I hate this publicity shavit,” Reginal cursed.

    “Language, you are not a barbarian outlander.” Yennifer interjected sharply, but when no censure followed he continued, “Go with the concept, it’s an asset to upholding the stability of a system. A defensive threat… something to show off the power of a system. Perhaps Defender?”

    Yennifer turned Reginal’s suggestions over in her head and thought about them. “Not Defender, the home office would know what we are doing the second that name crossed their desks. They tend to be a bit defensive about where the heavy metal is actually made, after all the ring cannot be allowed to spawn its own competition. Also, even if they somehow miss it, the name is ripe for ridicule the moment some 'Defenders' are either defeated or used offensively. Yennifer pondered out loud since Reginal wasn't coming up with anything. "Hmmm... maybe... Upholder? Yes, Upholder, now that has possibilities. It even sounds like a frigate, upholding a systems sovereignty and all that feel good rot.”

    “You think we can hide this?” Reginal asked his eyes widening in shock.

    “Long enough to get a finished product to market.” Yennifer answered confidently. “The Jedi have given us a reason to keep the team together, but I doubt it was solely for our benefit. If I had to guess, they think that the Acclamator will need to be tweaked once it is in service, handing us a minor project to enhance our standing while pushing back against the dangers that the Republic faces seems to be a very Jedi like move to me. They never take an action with just one purpose in mind. Everything they do, at least according to what I have read, is meant to have multiple meanings, and cover multiple axis. That, beyond any obscure power they may weild, is the reason the Senate uses them as trouble-shooters.”

    “I can understand that,” Reginal frowned as he contemplated Yennifer’s words. “I don’t like dancing to someone else’s tune. Even if it benefits me in the short run, there is always a catch.”

    “I’m glad to see you've fully engaged your brain,” Yennifer couldn’t resist needling her subordinate. The implications that he hadn’t thought everything about this project through hung between them like mist in the morning on Kuat. “Still there is profit, and political benefit, to going along with what they want for the moment. Be aware that they do not have your best interest at the heart of their actions, except in the most abstract sense, and do not allow yourself to fall in with them without considering the angles. This project is safe enough, after all they just brought it to our attention that it was possible, and that there was a ready-made market for it, but you must be aware that having done us a favour they, or their Order, will ask for it to be repaid one day.”

    “True, but will it matter to us?” Reginal squared his shoulders as he disagreed with his superior. “They did very little after all, not much there to be repaid.”

    “Ah, but if this drives you to prominence? How small a favour will it seem then? How much pull will they have once your name is known galaxy wide for such a success as this will be?” Yennifer narrowed her eyes as she explained the realities of the galaxy to the engineer. “The Order is a political entity, and it’s been on top of the Republic since there's been a Republic. Organizations with that much history behind them do not stay on top of the heap without being politically aware and relevant. They might be doing us a small favour now, but fully expect to pay them back from the profits of your hard work building on their initial investment. They might say they work for the benefit of the galaxy, and the Republic, as a whole but never forget that they have kept on top of the political heap. Altruistic people do not wield the kind of power they do, and I’m not talking about their mystical Force, but real tangible political power.”

    “I’m an engineer? How much could they hurt me? You are the one who should be worried,” Reginal scoffed. He knew the Jedi could be dangerous but he doubted that they would be a danger to him. His interests were not likely to cause him to come to their attention again.

    “Me?” Yennifer raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow with a look of scorn at Reginal’s naivety. “I might have to burn a few credits on one or more of their feel-good publicity projects, not like I wasn’t already going to have to do that when I make it home, but that will end up benefiting me in the long run no matter how costly it might be in the short term. You on the other hand? Someday a proper Jedi Knight will sidle up to you with a suggestion that cannot be ignored even if it destroys the design you are working on, and should you object he will casually mention that engineers who steal from undergraduates might not want to go against those who know their secrets.”

    “Really?” Reginal was skeptical of the scenario and showed it. “How did you come to that conclusion?”

    “They sent one of their apprentices here, with an almost insultingly amateur design proposal. One that I know you have seen similar from the engineering interns in your office. They probably had some poor Coruscantii hack put it together to pay for another semester at their second-rate engineering school. Of course, the idea behind it is better than any freshman would think of, so he probably built his proposal to their specifications.” Yennifer decided to indulge Reginal and let him know how the galaxy really worked. “There is no way a being as idiotic as Ori'Daki put in the work to do a study like that.”

    “Really? I had a rather favourable impression of him,” Reginal cocked his head to the side and wondered just what he had missed. “He certainly managed the objections of the engineering team easily enough.”

    “Naturally he did. If I had to bet this was his final test before the Order as a whole decided his fate. He needed to prove that he could interact with all levels of society and I would say he failed that badly. Coming into my office hung over was a mistake which will probably end up costing him his life,” Yennifer shrugged as she said that. There were a few worthwhile aliens, but they were vanishingly rare and it took too much effort to find them. If you wanted something done right, better to have a human do it, rather than engaging in roulette with the many alien species. Although, perhaps she should spend the time looking for a few of those rough diamonds before she returned to Kuat, it would certainly help her image.

    “His life? Really? That sounds like something out of bad holovision,” Reginal couldn’t contain his guff at the sheer absurdity of what his superior had said. “The Jedi are hardly going to have him killed for one mistake.”

    “Of course not,” Yennifer rolled her eyes at the very suggestion. “If he had proven to be able to interact with the upper crust here then he would have been set. He would have been sent on diplomatic missions across the galaxy, and we would read about him in the morning faxes. Despite my notoriety, I am from one of the foremost families in the galaxy, but I’m currently in disgrace, any mistakes he made here were safe enough. Because he made those mistakes he is going to be put onto their investigative and intelligence track, and given his species he is going to end up infiltrating criminal gangs. His death will come when he screws up again, or when the order uses his information a bit too freely and he gets made, or heck, considering the nature of his assignments, from some john who turn out to be a serial killer. Criminals aren’t the most forgiving sort, so he’ll end up face down in an alley with a blaster burn through his head.”

    “That would be a shame, he had the beginnings of talent, or at least it looked that way to me,” Reginal shook his head, dismissing the visceral image she had conjured up. “Are you sure he won’t end up in a technical field?”

    “Of course not,” Yennifer laughed at the very suggestion. “From what my cousin, who worked on the D-6 project, tells me in his letters, the Jedi have an entire division of technically minded beings at their beck and call. They call it something along the lines of the technical core or something similarly asinine. If one of those Jedi had turned up you would have a completed blue print on your comp, and be tearing your hair out trying to explain to him that the rest of the galaxy doesn’t have the trained reflexes of a Jedi and that the design is completely unworkable.”

    “Any suggestions for how I should manage the risk I have accidentally exposed myself to?” Reginal had been struck by the certainty in Yennifer’s voice. He knew she could be a self-assured bitch at times, but she tended to be correct when she started to pontificate.

    “Be careful about projects you end up involved in,” Yennifer answered with a shrug. “When an older Jedi, probably human, approaches you, contact security and get their direction on how to handle the request. If it's an alien who makes contact, you can probably deal with whatever they want on your own, unless its one of their token ‘good’ aliens. If it's an alien you’ve heard of again contact security and let them take the lead on how to handle the situation. For now, though… how different can you make the Upholder from the initial idea? Back date a couple of the failed ideas your team comes up with so it looks like you were already looking at using Acclamator designed components for paper studies. I’ll sign off on the data trail modifications, and you know that data security answers to me…”

    “If I switch the single laser cannons out for quads that would be a start… The Upholder does have a larger power budget then the Acclamator… cut down on the troop compliment and that gets even higher…” Reginal worked his way through the problem aloud, much to the amusement of Yennifer. “Missiles make sense, they’re a cheap way to increase firepower at short range… the only thing the design is really missing is an ion cannon or two for capture.”

    “As you say, I look forward to seeing what your team comes up with…” Yennifer dismissed the now thoroughly engrossed engineer from her office. He was in her pocket for life now, and she had every intention of using that leverage to her advantage. Given his anger at Blissex it wouldn’t surprise her if he could be induced to ripping her projects to pieces, and she could use that against the rest of her family. Now all she needed to do was bring this project home, and she might just be in line for the big chair in a couple of decades.

    (reviewed by lloyd007)
     
  22. App E

    App E Know what you're doing yet?

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    Alright, Yennifer continues to be racist, but in all the hubbub, I may have missed what has actually occurred. What actually happened this chapter, as far as ship approvals and plot elements? Was it that the small scale pre-release was approved with stipulations? Pardon any confusion, techno speak goes past my head sometimes.

    Edit: Got it! Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  23. MyddynEmrys

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

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    Didn't Skrath just said Ori's mistake was an affordable one?

    Never defy the Will of Murphy...
     
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  24. GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Yennifer laid out how she sees the Jedi operating, and the general core nobility view on them while approving work on the Upholder design. Reginal started to think about how the design would work in operational service, and got a lesson in avoiding Jedi entanglements. Basically one large butterfly was set loose, and the repercussions can now fly free.
     
  25. Toad

    Toad Know what you're doing yet?

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    They changed the name of the ship class, and the Kuat told the engineer to not screw up the design, which you would think is a given.
     
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  26. Threadmarks: 4.8
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Surrounded by data pads, Skrath once again wished his talents lay in the more direct Jedi arts. Normally, the Force flowing through him would focus his attention on the boring but important minutia needed to wrap up an investigation and call it well done, but right now it was an echo chamber for his thoughts of hitting the bad guys with his lightsaber. Of course, as Yoda would say; 'Adventure and excitement, a Jedi craves not these things,' but with the difficulties he was presented by the Force and his Padawan, he couldn't hardly call anything about this 'well done.'

    Up until Rothana, the investigation had been proceeding well. The data was clear, and easy enough to get to. He had targets to run down, information to dig up, and interviews to arraign arrange. Now though things were getting more complicated. The Force wasn’t acting... right... here, it was difficult to ask the right questions and let the Force guide him to the answers he sought at the best of times, but here and now it was nigh impossible. All his training, experience and exceptional ability to figure out the truth were barely pushing past the resistance that the Force was putting up, and even then he could only come to the most barebones conclusions as, for the first time in his experience, the Force was outright filibustering him on entire lines of inquiry with that echo chamber of daydreams. As bad a time as he was having, however, he knew Ori was suffering much worse, and it hurt to realize that he couldn't help his Padawan while he was barely navigating such strange Force currents himself. Something had happened to his Padawan at his meeting with the Engineering team three days ago that was leading him to using that Force blocking technique, and Skrath huffed with no small amount of frustration at the effort it took to make even that simple conclusion. But as much as the Force was bending around Ori, that bending had strangely helped him see flashes of the root cause of why the Force might be acting the way it was. Skrath's exposure to Ori's Force blocking had left him with a roaring headache for hours afterward, but after it passed he'd sensed the presence of a certain ex Jedi Master, Count Dooku, and certain facts and data points that hadn't made any sense before started making a disturbing amount of sense. Dooku had been here at some point and twisted the Force to divert anyone and everyone away from this project.

    The independent use of such skills as Dooku had employed here had been banned by the council in the aftermath of Ruusan, and for very good reasons. Much like Form VII Juyo, just using it put you perilously close to the Dark side, even if you used it with the best of intentions. Twisting and using the Force rather than following its will was all too close to the actions of a Sith. Of course, Dooku wouldn’t care about that, he was arrogant enough to follow his own path and proclaim it to the galaxy with little regards for the aftermath of his actions. In that man’s mind the mental distress he caused to any other Jedi who blundered into this was well worth the concealment he had achieved. Skrath paused in looking over yet another walker technical performance report and frowned.

    If Dooku had come here, to one of the lesser sites that he and his Padawan had uncovered, then what were the odds that he had gone to the major sites and repeated his actions? Mentally Skrath weighed what he knew of Dooku, and then decided that it was almost certain. The whys would need to wait, especially given that he didn’t know for sure if this had been on the orders of the Council or the Chancellor, but the effects were clear. Weighing the consequences of leaving the investigation halfway done against the damage that continuing on in the face of such opposition would do to his Padawan... and himself as he silently admitted, Skrath found himself grimacing. He hated to leave things incomplete, but if he stoically pressed onward he suddenly had the dreadful feeling that not only would he fail his duty to Ori, he'd also fail in the investigation. As it was, they were going to have to spend more time at the Temple then he wanted to. Ori would need to regain, or more accurately, if Skrath's suspicions were correct, find his center before they could be used as an investigative team again.

    “More walker reports?” Ori asked taking a seat across from his Master. Skrath shook his head in agreement, think of the devil and he will appear he snarked to himself. Skrath's mood perked up at seeing Ori had gotten a full and restful sleep, but his eyes still held a half haunted quality which deeply worried him. “If anyone had told me that investigations would be this boring, I would have tried to find myself on the path of the guardian.”

    “You should know better, half of the stuff you got away with at the Temple was only through long and thorough preparation. Did you really think that it would be any different out here in the galaxy?” Skrath replied calmly.

    “No, but I did think we would be doing more undercover work,” Ori grimaced as he admitted that. “More sneaking around and finding answers, less sitting around reading old paperwork.”

    “Hengh,” Skrath barely restrained his laugh at his Padawans expression. “You do know that the most common cover I’ve used is as an accountant?”

    “No…” Ori looked at his Master with an only partially mock horrified expression.

    “It’s easy enough for me; everyone needs to have someone watching their money, criminal or not. Given the way I look its best for me to blend into the entourage of powerful beings to find what I want rather than trying to be front and center.” Skrath gestured to his unimpressive form. “Besides, being in the background allows you more options to get your objective done in secret. Those Jedi who take problems head on never find everything, unlike me.”

    “Is that why you have an accounting certificate?”

    “Of course! Having legitimate credentials makes it much easier for me to be hired on where I want to be,” Skrath replied with a grin. “You are going to have problems though. You are a bit too visually distinctive to follow my path, we are going to have to find you a cover you can use regularly. That is going to be… challenging.”

    “I had thought I would end up as a smuggler or the like,” Ori cocked his head to the side in contemplation. The question he wanted to ask clear to Skrath even if it remained unvoiced.

    “For some investigations that will do, but even the most successful smugglers or free traders are not brought into the close confidence of the powerful. General criminal investigations will be easy enough for you, especially with your slicing skills, but going after the powerful? You are going to need to find an 'in' you can work before we start you on those types of investigations,” Skrath smiled at his Padawan mildly. Before letting him know that his latest misbehaviour hadn’t gone unnoticed. “Mistress Kuat’s reaction to you should be indicative of just how easy it is for you to go wrong.”

    “She’s a specieist bitch,” Ori shot back contemptuously.

    "Ori!" Skrath interjected sternly, all humor gone from his voice in an instant as he started speaking in a tone that, while not angry, brooked no argument, "Stop your train of though right now. You're channeling her contempt into a mirror of your own emotions and that is..." and Skrath paused, his own train of thought derailing as he realized, for all the terrible venom in Ori's statement, there was also no Force behind it. Ori held Mistress Kuat in as much contempt as she did him and yet his passion wasn't eliciting any greater response in the Force than their previous banter...

    "Master?" Ori's fearful question brought him back to the present and Skrath quickly realized that even though this wasn't the teaching moment on the Dark Side that every Master inevitably had with their Padawan, it was still a teaching moment... for both of us, he though, unsettled.

    "That is a dangerous thing to do as an Investigator. Hating your target and holding them in contempt just leads you to underestimating them... both in their capacity for good AND for evil. I speak from experience in being Master Ganjay Tulgree's Padawan when Senator Nyist was brought to justice."

    Ori shuddered at that name, Senator Kilan Nyist of Hosnian Prime had been found guilty of a relatively minor kickback scheme, but paid his fine and accepted his censure with such good cheer that Master Tulgree had continued the investigation when everyone else had seen him as an ineffectual political tool who'd sold his influence for next to nothing... until the first child's bones were dug out from underneath his estate manor... "Alright, I... take your point, Master. But how do you NOT hate someone like Nyist?"

    "Oh, you do." Skrath read the shock in Ori's eyes. "We're not Consular Jedi who must take the high road in their own minds all of the time, but to dwell on your hatred for one person means you will focus on them to the point of missing others who are doing the same or worse. Dwelling on your hatred for a group means you will be lumping the innocent in with the guilty and creating a mentality that the guilty will see, and be able to use as a shield. Think about how you reacted to Kuat, do you think a woman as smart as her missed it? The next time you have to deal with her she will know exactly how you see her, and no matter what she is doing she will act in a way to conform to your expectations. Now, we have uncovered no evidence that she, or any of her people, have committed a crime. Much to the contrary she has kept her department clean to a degree you very rarely see. If she is being less law-abiding next time you interact with her, or if another Jedi sees your report and acts on that prejudice, she will have an easy time hiding what she thinks needs to be hidden. I'm saying this both as a lesson and a warning. That and… sometimes the only way to refuse the dark side is to remove yourself from the temptation entirely. Master Tulgree took us off the case when the second site was uncovered, as we were both emotionally compromised, but the both of us were in attendance for his execution. It was disturbingly satisfying for me, and Master Tulgree was wise enough to see that. We spent more than half a year after that case back at the Temple meditating so that I could regain my balance."

    There was a silence as both Master and Padawan took some time to reorganize their thoughts; it was Skrath who spoke first, answering Ori's question before he voiced it, "It will take me some time to collect the final Investigator and Judicial reports, sift through them and put those I feel useful together in a manner that is instructive rather than just a 'True Crime' story." If there was one Padawan in the galaxy who could gain insight and instruction from such reports without most all of the Force derived context he would have thought necessary to be of much use for a Jedi Investigator, it was Ori.

    "Thank you, Master." Ori replied respectfully, realizing the difficulty of the task Skrath had just agreed to. "So... going back to our current audit, and the cluster I made of my meeting with Kuat, what do you want of me? I will go back and apologize if you believe it will help.”

    “If the Force wasn't so strange in the here and now, I feel it would have, since she isn’t one to forget an insult or a slight; but it is and so you will be on her mind long after we leave this system because you managed to get under her skin.” Skrath shrugged as he said that. Mentally he noted that his Padawan was again showing signs of prescience as there was a reaction in the Force before Ori nodded in agreement. This would need to be dealt with at the Temple as Skrath himself had no talent for those arts and the youngling / Padawan required reading for such arts consisted of a pamphlet that might as well have been titled 'Signs to tell if you might be prescient: Hint, you aren't'. “You proved to be more competent then she had thought, and then went and found something her own internal teams had missed. It may be misguided but she regards that as an embarrassment, and that is not something any Noble will easily forgive.”

    “It wasn’t that hard to do,” Ori rolled his eyes. “X-RAD just had to crunch the numbers…”

    “Well yes, but you exposed faults in her internal security,” Skrath sighed and ran his hand through his hair in a gesture of exasperation as Ori's contempt for Kuat crept back in. “It might have been easy for you to do but you managed to get your hands on one of the most ridiculously good accounting droids I have ever heard of. I had thought that you paid too much at first but… XRAD has been so useful that I might recommend to the Council we invest in them for general deployment at least among those Jedi who do auditing jobs. Or at least have a stock of them available at the temple. Though why you chose that ridiculous designation I have no idea.”

    “Republic Auditing Droid is ridiculous? I rather thought it was on point?”

    “Oh yes, lets broadcast its function to the galaxy at large,” Skrath replied. “It’s not like it’s a small droid which can be easily destroyed or stolen now is it?”

    “Easy to defend as well.”

    “True…” Skrath paused and considered just how to approach presenting his decision. With the Force being uncooperative they were not going to get much further in their audit. They could press on but, he was well aware of his own limitations. Whatever Dooku had done here was severely hampering him, and he knew that his Padawan would need time back at the Temple after this. Ori wasn’t one to ask for help, if he could help it, but he clearly needed it. “I think it best if we head back to the Temple, soon. While we have accomplished more than I thought we would when I took this mission, it has become much more complicated then I could anticipate. You need time to clear your head, and I need to alert the council about what is going on.”

    “Much as I want to disagree with you…” Ori grimaced and looked down, hiding his shamed expression. “That would be the wisest course of action. I don’t like leaving this early though, there are issues with the LAAT program which need to be addressed… and I know you noticed the AT-TE’s exposed gunner.”

    “Agreed,” Skrath went with the bluntest possible path here. “While the technical faults of the project are a concern, there might be a larger issue here. Huge portions of the project could be in direct violation of the Ruusan laws, and the Order needs to get a handle on that before it blows up in everyone’s face.”

    "Is it really that bad though?" Ori chewed his lip and tried to work out just where his master was going with this. If he was remembering his own reading of Ruusan correctly, then none of the ships they had seen so far violated it. At least on a technical level. “Aside from their existence, they kept to the turbolaser restrictions. Admittedly the Republic having a navy at all is a violation but…”

    “You think it’s a needed one,” Skrath put in mildly. “You may be correct but this could cause a political firestorm when it gets out. Ruusan is the foundational set of documents on which the legitimacy of the Republic rests and the naval restrictions have stood unchanged since it was ratified over a thousand years ago. "If the violations are as bad as I suspect they are, whoever commissioned this project is either making an end run around those restrictions or attempting to set off a political firestorm under Palpatine's administration that would make Valorum's fall from grace look like a camp fire."

    “There isn’t much we can do about that. Chancellor Palpatine won't be caught flat footed by our discovery though, he will have an answer for the Senate already prepared.” Ori spoke slowly, his gaze distant for a split second. “Would getting ahead of the release do anything for the Order? At least let us avoid some of the fallout.”

    “We will need to,” Skrath nodded in agreement. He was pleased to see his Padawan was finally looking at the bigger picture. Ori had been bogged down in the details of their investigation, and he had missed the forest while checking on the health of the trees. His assessment of Palpatine was interesting as well. Something to be explored at a later date though. “We'll have to present our information to the Council. You wouldn't know him aside from his celebrity, but I've felt the presence of the ex Jedi Count Dooku both on world and specific to this project, which concerns me since he was a Council member.”

    “He did something to the Force,” Ori looked up, suddenly very intent. It was interesting that he hadn't missed the cause of the disruption in the Force. even though he didn’t know the count and so he would not have been familiar with his Force signature the way Skrath was. “that is something that needs to be looked into.”

    “Is that your intuition speaking, or something else?” Skrath leaned forward to see how Ori would respond.

    “I think its my intuition,” Ori spoke slowly, obviously picking his words with care. “Something about the man bothers me though. Every time I've heard his name spoken I get a shiver down my lekku, and that is not natural.”

    “More reason to head back to the Temple then…” Skrath noted the jump in Ori’s lekku. Something about what he had just said had hit his Padawan's defensive instincts, and he put up his hand in a placating gesture. “Calm, Ori, we'll work things out, you need to regain your center. Being out here was good for you, but as soon as we hit this system? You have been having problems far beyond what a Padawan should have. Considering your progress before now… It’s both not your fault and nothing getting away from here and back to the safety of the Temple can't fix.”

    “Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Ori stated flatly, visions of Philip K Dick's Minority Report dancing in his head, ratcheting up his paranoia. Being known as precognitive probably wouldn’t have him end up as a future crime asset, but this galaxy wasn’t a nice place to live. Given that Star Wars had been just as fictional to him before his rebirth he REALLY didn’t want to find out the hard way that Dick had also been right. Ori really didn’t want to end up with any shred of a reputation for that ability. He doubted that any of the Masters on the Council would take his memories of the movies seriously, they were just too different from the recorded visions he had access to in the archives. Too clear and concise, lacking all of the symbolic elements which were a hallmark of precognition as he understood it. He'd toyed with the notion of faking some vague Nostradamus style 'vision' for the first few years after the Event before discarding that idea since it wasn't like the Council had taken The Chosen One himself's visions seriously. But now he knew he wasn’t capable of lying to Skrath, omitting things was fine but directly lying? Not happening. Trying that with the council masters, could have consequences he didn't want to face. As it stood it was more likely that they would think he was making everything up, and then over react if his memories were proven to be correct. If he was proven to have clear visions of the future... precrime became a very real possibility. Which one would play Director Burgess though? Ori thought darkly. On top of that issue was the Temple's complete lack of data security, any copy of his memories getting out would just cause Palpatine to change his plans the moment he heard about them. Ori gave it all of two minutes between his report being on the intranet and Palpatine getting a copy, if it lasted that long. “You are right, I just don’t like it.”

    “You aren’t going to be sent to the Agricorp,” Skrath rolled his eyes at his Padawan's jump in paranoia. He barely needed to touch the Force to feel that, Ori was broadcasting so loudly. He really needed to do something to boost his Padawan's self-confidence if THIS was his reaction to a setback. “I think once we get out of this system you are going to be fine. On the way back to the Temple I'll get you back to work on your force concealment. There are holes in the way you use it which concern me.”

    “Holes?” Ori’s expression switched to a mass of confusion, but his paranoia didn’t abate in the Force.

    “I don’t know how else to describe what’s happening when you use it. Going too far and leaving no force signature is a standard amateur mistake, one which you make, but when you are locking down your signature… you leave parts of yourself out. That is what worries me. You forget your lekku, leaving them visible in the Force until you have suppressed the rest of your signature, and then scramble to get them locked down. It’s an issue that’s pretty consistent too. You do the same thing when you are engaged in active meditation, doing handstands and the like, you always remember at the last minute to hold them up with the Force but…” Skrath sighed heavily. “You also need to learn to control yourself when you immerse yourself in the Force. You did a good job letting the Force guide you when you took on the accounting analysis, but you went way too deep. The Force overwhelmed you, and that might be because you tried to jump right into the deep end, but I doubt that was the only reason you created your own issues.”

    “You don’t think it was because I used the Force to teach myself an entire discipline, I had no familiarity with?” Ori’s eyes widened in shock.

    “No, that is something I have done myself. Any talented knight would be able to do that,” Skrath allowed himself a soft chuckle. “Most end up just as confused as you were by their reports, they write but… they know exactly what they did and why. You couldn’t answer those questions, and that speaks to a lack of control, which we are going to be remedying.”

    “How?”

    “By starting small,” Skrath grinned wickedly and leaned in across the table to look his Padawan directly in the eyes. “Has your handwriting improved at all in the past week? Because I know you still need to write some apology notes…”

    “I was hoping to put that off,” Ori said, suitably abashed, “Especially once you pointed out the political issues which we found. The Council Masters, yes, those need to be done but…”

    “Ah.” Skrath leaned back and thought about what his Padawan had said. He wasn’t exactly wrong now that he thought about it. Writing an apology to Palpatine when, depending on how the Council followed up on his report, the Order could be bringing down substantial portions of his administration or even himself if he was involved … that might create more issues then he wanted to deal with. He would have to consult the Council about that before he came to a decision.

    (reviewed by lloyd007)
     
  27. PeaceBeforeImpact

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

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    Officer of the Republic.. . Huh I wonder which service he is going to be in? Maybe that will be his "In" for future investigations. Will he stay in the Order??? Lol questions, questions.
     
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  28. Hylas_Daemonem

    Hylas_Daemonem Getting out there.

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    Thanks for writing this! I've enjoyed it greatly thus far. Your portrayal of the Force as a controlling entity is very interesting, and not really something I've seen before.
     
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  29. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    Bred

    Quiet

    Obvious.

    Just a stray "








    Nice story. I like how the conflict between old and new is screwing with him, as well as helping. I also like how the memories of the Movies is being missidentified by his Master.
     
  30. Kite

    Kite Getting out there.

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    Well, I'll be damned, the paperwork is literally sithspawned.
     
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