Author Topic: VE: Alive  (Read 127382 times)

Offline Medivh

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VE: Alive
« on: October 13, 2009, 12:02:15 PM »
Alive
The Continuing Saga of Mara Anna Gellar

Time Frame:
Immediately following the events taking place at the close of the Legacy of the Force Universe, specifically shortly after the end of "The Federation Chronicles" and "Corellian Rebirth" and running parallel to the latter portion of the "Vogue Empire" saga

Synopsis:
Mara Anna, a Human Replica Droid, created and programmed for the purpose of espionage and assassination is now free of her programming.  Changing her name and appearance to mimic Valerie Gellar, who played an unwilling yet key role in her creation, Mara now seeks to create a new life for herself on Corellia, the very world she had once aided in destroying, while trying to discover more of herself, and determine how 'alive' she really is.

Meanwhile, the new Corellia has a far more militaristic, chauevenistic society, forming a multi-world confederation under the military rule of High Commander Saga Judec.  Judec's chief opposition comes from the current civil governor of Corellia, William Tacofer, who is fighting to end the marshall law and return civil rule, at the threat of Judec's wrath.


Cast of Known Characters:
Mara Anna Gellar - Human Replica Droid, Female Programming - Aide to the Corellian Governor
William Tacofer - Human, Male - Governor of Corellia
Saga Judec - Human, Male - High Commander of the Corellian Confederacy
Frank Farmer - Human, Male - Director of Corellian Security Force

For Reference:
PHAGE -  Highly Modified IG-100 MagnaGuard Droid, Male Programming
Medivh - Human/Cyborg, Male - Former Trade Federation Viceroy
Valerie Gellar - Human, Female - Former Governor of Corellia

Credits:
To Syrenscream for the development of Valerie Gellar, Frank Farmer, and the other facts and characters of "Vogue Empire" and for aiding in the continuation and completion of "Corellian Rebirth"
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 12:33:25 PM by Medivh »
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2009, 06:43:44 PM »
Alive
The Continuing Saga of Mara Anna Gellar

Corellia: Capital of the Corellian Confederation
Coronet City

It had been just a few weeks ago when the Corellian Defense Force was decked out in its best for the arrival of the Imperial Emperor.  He had been asked to Corellia, the Confederation requesting an alliance with the ever growing Empire.  But he had come with criticism.  Ignoring the High Commander, he had confided in the governor, William Tacofer both advice and a threat.  Advice, in that he needed to defeat the high commander before the high commander ousted him.  And a threat, should Corellia choose to remain a separate entity from the Empire.

That threat remained on the back burner, the Emperor and his apprentice focusing their attention elsewhere upon his rather abrupt departure.  The governor had bigger concerns to deal with at home before responding to the Emperor.  For no sooner had the Emperor and his star destroyer left the system, that High Commander Saga Judec began to work to undermine and eliminate Tacofer.

He could not arrest him - not yet anyway - for no particular crime could be associated to his name.  But he was powerful, and with the expansion of the Confederation, the growth of the 'defensive' fleet, he was growing stronger still.  And the ability to declare martial law left him with the upper hand.

Since the Emperor had left, Judec had used his influence, and begun curtailing both Tacofer and other political opponents.  It became illegal to speak negatively of the military in public, considered an act of treason.  The process of granting a vote only to military and former military or law enforcement personnel meant that come the next election, Tacofer would be likely be ousted entirely, as would the sad remnants of the parliament.  Finally, Judec managed to strong arm a rule that said that the civil government could not act contrary to the military government.  To guarantee the end of the governorship, he just needed Tacofer to act.

William Tacofer, however, was not sitting idly watching as this all happened.  He had support where Judec did not, among most of the populace of the planet Corellia itself, if not on the other worlds of the Confederation.  And Judec had the support of CorSec - the Corellian Security Force, led by Director Frank Farmer.  Much like the musketeers of medievel France, they were the most loyal guards of Corellia's leader, and though law enforcement, they preferred a government led by a civil rather than military leader.

Tacofer also had a most capable staff, continuing the everyday administrative functions of government - something Judec knew little about.  But the one he trusted the most was a young woman named Mara A. Gellar.
Mara had told him that she was the cousin of the late Valerie Gellar, hero of Corellia, and she had proved to be extremely resourcesful, and a trusted confidante.  He needed this, needed someone he could trust when many would rat him out to Judec for the sake of some pittance of a reward.  Mara seemed to despise Judec almost as much as Tacofer.

There was one peculiarity about Mara though.  Any discussion of the war with Phage, the menacing droid created by the Trade Federation and run amuck, and she would often withdraw in on herself.  The governor assumed, that this was a result of her feelings of loss toward her cousin.

Mara, however, had an alterior reason for quieting down when discussion of the war came up.  She had been Phage's right hand servant.  Mara was not, as Tacofer or others on Corellia believed her to be, human.  She was a droid - an advanced human replica droid.  And she had been responsible for the deaths of countless individuals on Corellia, and elsewhere.  If Tacofer ever learned who she was ... if anyone did ... they would hate her. Probably try to destroy her.  And she could not blame them - she often felt like she hated herself.  Her programming had forced her to act the way she had, and though now she was free of that particular programming, the blood on her hands still haunted her.  And unlike other droids, she was not able to just get her memory erased.

It is to Mara that we focus, and we find her currently on Coronet, the capital city of Corellia, standing on the steps of the newly constructed CorSec Academy, kneeling beside the memorial for Valerie Gellar, a place she would often be found.

"I miss you sister" her voice was a whisper, and if she had tear ducts, she would likely be crying.  But she felt ever more pain knowing she could not cry.  Valerie was not in fact Mara's sister, but the programming used to create Phage and ultimately Mara, was based off of the genetic code of Valerie (in a way that is too complex to describe in this post).  Mara was thus the perfect, cybernetic version of Valerie.  At least in theory.  And she came here for strength and guidance.  Valerie Gellar, the only one who today knew her secret - beneath a thick slab of duracrete that made up the Academy's Cornerstone.

Her thoughts and prayers were interrupted by a voice behind her.

"Hello Mara.  I've seen alot of you here.  But I know the truth - you are not what you claim to be"

To be continued ...
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2009, 02:11:52 PM »
Alive
The Continuing Saga of Mara Anna Gellar

Corellia: Capital of the Corellian Confederation
Coronet City

"Hello Mara.  I've seen alot of you here.  But I know the truth - you are not what you claim to be"

Mara turned, immediately recognizing the deep blue of the CorSec uniform, and more particularly, the insignia of the director of that agency.  Director Frank Farmer.

"Director - I don't understand what you mean?"

"Yes you do.  I know you are not a Gellar"  the director's gaze was inquisitive more than harsh.  A quick glance around would clearly indicate Farmer was alone, and had no intention of apprehending Mara.  And yet still, here he was, accusing Mara to her face that she had lied about herself.

"What makes you say that?"

"I was close with Valerie - very close.  I knew everything about her, about her family.  About her real family"

"I was a distant cousin - even Valerie didn't know me that well, I just"

The director cut her off, a hand raising "there is a problem with your argument.  You claim you look like Valerie because you, like her, are a Gellar.  But Valerie was not actually a Gellar.  Valerie was the daughter of Kyrie Patten."

This fact was something Mara was unaware of, but normally, she was able to brush off such arguments by claiming a connection to Valerie's mother. Somehow, she sensed that argument wasn't going to work.  But what did the director actually know?  If he knew who she was - WHAT she was, he would not be standing here alone. He would have sent an entire platoon to take her captive - and in all likelihood, she'd still be difficult to apprehend.  Maybe he didn't know - maybe he was just guessing.

"I don't lie about who I am.  Valerie meant  alot to me. Still does."
"As true as that may be, when someone is lying about who they are and ends up in a position like your own - close to the governor, a position of influence - it can be worrisome.  I'd much rather you tell me the truth than discover it myself"

So he didn't know.  And yet here he was, revealing his investigation of her

"You won't find anything that contradicts what I've already said"

She hoped

"Maybe not - but I would imagine that is more a result of insufficient evidence than lack of it being true"

"Why are you worried about me?  What have I ever done to you?"

"I'm worried because you have no background, no past, no family.  There is nothing to even prove you are a Corellian citizen.  And these are dangerous times, Mara.  It is hard to trust anyone.  I would hate to find out that everything Corellia has been trying to rebuild is suddenly threatened because of a girl who happens to have a resemblance to planetary hero"

This struck her with an ironic sort of pain - she had been responsible, had threatened what Corellia was rebuilding.  She was a major reason for Phage's second attack on the planet, an attack almost successful.  All because she looked human.

"You don't need to worry about me, director.  I only mean the best for Corellia"

"How can I can trust you,someone I know is lying?"

Mara thought about it for a second, before taking a breathe.
"You don't have to trust me director.  I'll prove it to you.  One day, when Corellia is in peril, you'll see that I can tip the balance, and save this world"
"I can't let that opportunity, that delicate balance, fall to your hands"
"Unless you don't have a choice."

Farmer was about to respond, when the conversation was interrupted by a comm beeping.  Farmer lifted his comm.

"Farmer here.  yes?  What?  No!  Alright, I'm coming inside"

Mara looked at him inquisitively.

"What is it?"

Farmer frowned as he replaced the comm at his hip

"The governor has been arrested - taken into custody by military police"
"Under -"
"Under the command of the High Commander."

Mara looked shocked.

"He can't do that"
"maybe not. but he just did.  I need to see what I can do"
"Can I come?"

Farmer hesitated

"I can help you. I know I can.  Maybe even earn your trust"

Another moment before the director relented "very well. come on"
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 03:27:31 PM »
Time passed, and then ...
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 03:28:12 PM »
Flash - a dark, metallic figure with crimson, glowing eyes stalks across the wreckage of a large behemoth of a ship. In one black hand, it holds an electrostaff, the only light in the darkness coming from the faint electricity it casts off, reflecting on black metal.

Flash - same dark figure, locked in hand to hand combat with a fiery woman, black hair, slim figure. She fights hard, like someone who has both a devil and an angel inside her, and still undecided which she wants to win. But it is in vain. She is human, fighting an untiring machine. She falls, the electrostaff is raised high ...

Flash - a powerful rapid fire blaster shoots repeatedly at the machine, as it stands over it's fallen foe. Even a droid can be taken by surprise, red crimson eyes look to her displaying a kind of betrayal. Blaster kept firing
"Goodbye, father"
The black droid falls, metal strewn apart. Red eyes fade out. Phage is dead.

Flash - A battalion of humans, dressed in navy colors march in front of a flag waving, Corellian Confederation. A leader -no, a dictator - speaking, sending out the troops. To fight off threats from the outside, Corellians had hardened on the inside.

Flash - under arrest for crimes against the Confederation. armed soldiers at her door. Forced to fight. to kill. to flee.

Flash

Mara Anna Gellar opened her eyes with a start. She was breathing heavily. And she was frightened. Not just because the visions were all memories, her past haunting her, but because those memories came to her while her body rejuvenated, recharged.

Mara had never ever had a dream before.

Droids were not supposed to be able to dream.

To be continued...
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 03:28:45 PM »
It was cold - that much was apparent before any of her other senses were fully functioning. The breeze carried with it the threat and warning of oncoming winter, as it brushed across her prone form.

Mara's eyes blinked and opened. She could feel the vibrations of the hover train as it moved along its designated track, the side door of the car was not air tight and every few seconds a gust of outside air would breach inside.

Around her, packages and crates, mostly large and sealed. she had been resting against one and had apparently fallen asleep.

Asleep - The concept was foreign to her. As were most of the sensations she seemed to be subjecting herself to. She could not remember ever requiring sleep before this particular journey. Mara was, afterall, no human, though she looked the part. Every part of her, from skin, to her inner organs, from hair, to eyes, to toes, and all throughout, was designed to look, feel, behave human. Scanners would not pick up the subtle differences. But all of that was an illusion. Mara was a machine. Her body was created, not in a womb, but in a laboratory, using the most state of the art bio technology. It allowed her to breathe, to eat, to bleed. It was the advanced technology that allowed her to feel the cold air, and caused her skin to create goosebumps, the way a normal human's flesh would.

All these traits that made her a perfect human - or rather, a perfect spy AGAINST humans - had been designed assuming she would be in normal situations, facing others, interacting, fooling, even seducing other humans. She had taken for granted what normal parameters were, and rarely if ever had factored them in together. She would eat, not because she had to, but because it was part of the facade.

That was quite a long time ago. Or so it seemed. She had since suffered from her own morality - a trait that her creator may never have really meant to put inside her. It was that morality that caused her to eventually kill it. To kill HIM. Mara, of all people, recognized that Phage, like herself, was more alive than not. She thought killing Phage might redeem her, might somehow cancel out the other acts she had done - assassinating a host of figures and allowing Phage his almost conquest of Corellia. She wanted to start anew.

But Corellia would not have it. With the fall of Phage, and the encroaching greed of the empire, they had sought a strong hand to protect them from any future attacks. And that hand had taken over the society Mara so wished to join. She, with her newfound morality, had attempted to protest, had tried to free Corellia once again, through political means.

And she failed. Corellia had come after her, declared her an enemy of the state. they had raided her small apartment in Coronet. She remembered that fateful night. Remembered in a way she could not quite recall anything else. The sound of the door busting in. She was fast – instantly standing and grabbing blaster, turning, firing several shots while taking cover. Her inhuman speed had saved her – milliseconds after she’d moved, rapid fire was streaming where she had just been. She could feel the heat of lasers close to her skin. And they kept firing. Whoever was after her, not only knew where she lived, but knew she was not the normal target. Because they kept streaming inside. More than a dozen black-ops with hidden faces were streaming inside. And they kept the pressure up. She managed to circle around the apartment, but they must have been tracking her somehow- because she turned to find herself in an all new blaze of fire. Cold, calculating hands responded, firing off several shots as she again took cover, this time behind a chair. The furniture would not last long, wood splintering away. She took several more shots, carefully taking out several gunners while flipping backward into another room. But she knew she was in trouble. Even as she was landing back on her feet, she saw the grenade tossed toward her. She batted it back with her free hand, calculating the time it would take to fire – but the gunners were good. Too good. Even as the grenade began sailing back the way it came, a blaster shot struck it, and it exploded. Too close.

Mara felt the heat then the shrapnel as she fell to the ground from the blast. The entire apartment began to cave in. She felt pain – a fairly rare sensation for her. And something else. Something was wrong, inside her. It was almost a weakness, draining. But she didn’t have time to address the issue just then. As the apartment collapsed over her, she rolled her body to a nearby vent, crashed through, and let herself fall to the ground two stories below. Her reflexes were sluggish, but she had to keep moving. Using the collapsing apartment as a diversion, she moved to the nearest manhole cover, flipped the lid, and made her way into the sewers. Then she ran.

She kept running. She wasn’t sure if they were following or not, but she knew she couldn’t stop.

It had been hours later when she first dared to stop and take the time to run a self diagnostic. Damage from the grenade could have been worse, but she had her share of troubles. Shrapnel had severely damaged her internal batteries. Most droids ran quite efficiently, able to run for months or even years without a recharge. This damage, however, meant she would run out of power much sooner. She had to start being careful. Running like she had done would deplete her battery faster. The stomach she had, always cosmetic before, would allow her to process at least some food, albeit at a lower efficiency than a natural metabolism.

As she continued her run, away from Coronet, she learned she could get extra boosts of energy from discarded equipment, with wasted extra batteries. Food scraps. But it was all temporary. She had to get repairs. Her scrounging would only postpone the inevitable. She felt weaker each day.

That was why she ‘slept’ – powering down allowed her to conserve energy. She was traveling north by train, quite an unexpected passenger among the freight, and she was hoping to get to her destination without being spotted. She had not expected the flashes – while powered down, she had started getting flashbacks, memory files buzzing from her archive momentarily to active status then back again. It seemed they were the same set of memories over and over again. When she got a more thorough diagnostic, she would have to see if she could repair whatever glitch was causing memories to misfire across her cranial synapses. Because those same memories were haunting her. And they were disrupting her desperately needed power down time.

Mara glanced outside the train once again. Winter was coming. And she was cold.

To be continued
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 03:29:19 PM »
The soft hum of the train began to slow as she reached the destination. It had been over a week since she first stowed away on board, and Mara had begun to grow antsy with anticipation, unsure whether she was followed or would be discovered.

The fact that she had taken a week was a bit abnormal for travel. With modern technology able to travel worlds in a week, and space craft that could circle a planet in a few hours or less, most people were too impatient for the slow pace of a train. But freight was heavy, and the cheapest way of transporting it was on the ground at this particular pace.

It had suited Mara well enough - giving her the chance to hide, diagnose her ailments, attempt minor repairs. Her body was shut down as much time as possible, in order to conserve energy.

Now though, her destination was coming - a base in the far northern portion of Corellia, far from Coronet, and far from most of the planet's civilian locations.

The base served as a training area for Corellia's specialized snow troops, though whether they would serve as defenders or aggressors in Corellia's continued attempt to consolidate power was unclear. What mattered was that the contingent here was small, that radio contact was spotty, and air travel to and from her was slowed by the cold northern winds.

Also of importance was the laboratory situated within the base. Crude compared to the sophisticated lab that Mara was created in, but sufficient for her purposes - battery replacement and replenishment, and a more thorough diagnostic to figure out the level of damage to her, and perhaps figure out the flashbacks her memory continued firing at her.

The train slowed further and she could hear the soft sound of breaks applying friction. She glanced out the small crack in the door and could see the train approaching the base and entering into the small train yard before finally coming to a halt.

Time for her to move. Mara made her way to the back of the car to a crate that she had long ago jostled open. Its contents included some of the newest state of the art equipment that was to be installed in the lab. Glancing behind her, she slid herself inside, closing the crate over her head. And shimmied her way beneath a rubber matting that protect the equipment inside. It was cramped, and it was dark. But it was necessary. She could hear outside the crate – train car door was opened and voices.

“Scan the carts, then transport them into the laboratory”
“Yes sir”

Mara would have held her breathe had she had any. As it was, her throat constricted and muscles tensed as carts began to be moved. She closed her eyes, knowing time was short. And shut herself down.

A small magnetic lift grabbed the cart, picking it up and running it through a scanner.

Beginning scan now...
Contents ...
... electronic signatures ...
... computer systems ...
... software grade A: highest level of sophistication ...
... droid hardware ... grade A ...
... Life signs .... negative ...
... threat level ... green ... no threats detected ...
... contents approved for entry ...

Mara’s design had been created to emit the signatures of a standard biological human female. Unless of course, she overrode that signature. Shutting herself down had ensured that she also was not emitting an electrical signal greater than what would be inside the crate. The rest of her scan signature was “camouflaged” by the computers around her. Those outside, meanwhile, had already sent her container on its way to the lab, moving on to the next piece of cargo.

Magnetic lift unit dropped the container carefully on the floor along the side of the lab and went back the way it came.

Four crates, lined up together, sitting and waiting.

Hours passed – apparently, the freight had arrived close to evening, and the equipment would not be dealt with until morning. Security guard passed through. Lights are shut down. Silence.

Gasp – flash – Mara’s eyes open and she gulps a deep breath, despite the lack of needing it. Eyes wide as she gets her bearings. More dreams, more flashbacks. She saw herself killing Phage, saw herself being hunted. Over and over again. It took her a moment to register her location. Inside a crate, filled with electronic equipment. Laboratory.
She could not hear any noise outside, save for the hum of a few machines still running. She heard the sound of the security guard come and go, and then it was time. Lid was opened and she slid out as carefully and quietly as she could. Quick scan of the area around her. She nodded to herself – this would suffice.

Fifteen minutes later, the security guard nonchalantly was walking through. The whole idea of security seemed absurd- what would infiltrate the base this far north? Where would they hide? He was walking past the laboratory when something caught his eye. Shaking his head he turned to get a closer look. Apparently, one of the lids of the containers was open. He stepped up to it, pulling out a flashlight and looking at it. He could have sworn it was closed before. Light lifted and he looked around the mostly dark room slowly. Maybe one of the techs had come in to look at the equipment?

“Hello?”

While left hand held the light, right hand moved to the blaster at his side. The doctors would be very upset if he started firing in here, but hey, procedure was procedure. Maybe one of those blizzard creatures had gotten in – but he hadn’t heard anything, and there were no claw marks.

He made one turn around and found himself face to face with a woman. Dark hair, curvy figure, and deep, deep eyes. He was startled by how close she was, but he was catching his bearings. Blaster was lifting up, but before it could be leveled, she took the few steps to reach him. Blaster was knocked out of his hand, while her other hand reached out, grabbing him and lifting him high by the throat. Tight, such a tight grip ... her hand tightened, his neck broken in one smooth motion. Discarded on the floor.

Mara turned to and moved to the computer, turning it and several other pieces of equipment on. She was in a rush. The guard was down, but the night was only so many hours long.

To be continued
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Medivh
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Re: Alive
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 03:29:47 PM »
The laboratory had a dimness that implied privacy. The fact that she had smashed several security cameras added to that feeling. But Mara knew that such distractions would not save her much time. In fact, even as she was dealing with the very issues that brought her here, her cerebral processors - among the most advanced in the galaxy - were also calculating whether the time she would save by creating confusion was worth the time used in creating that confusion. The numbers came out inconclusively.

Besides, most of her processing power was focused on the task at hand. The computers here were state of the art and were able to provide her a much more elaborate diagnostic of her systems and the damage that had been done. And it hadn't taken too much time, which was the more important part.

As previously discerned, her battery systems had been damaged, leaving Mara in a state of perpetual degradation. She had to actually consume additional sources of energy -organic or otherwise - to supplement the weakening battery. She had to rest to recharge her systems. Both of these things, though they added a level of humanity to her (something she desperately was seeking out) also left her vulnerable at a time when vulnerability could mean her termination.

She would need to sacrifice at least part of that element of humanity in order to survive. Luckily, this lab had at least some of the equipment she would need. Chosen particularly for its efforts in computative and droid technology, it had a wide variety of deactivated droids that could be donors in this life-necessitating organ. The irony that she felt she could simply take parts from an inactive droid in order to keep herself - a droid as well - alive did not escape her. She forced herself to rationalize that there was a distinct difference between her level of autonomic function versus theirs. Even the most sophisticated droid present - a high end protocol droid - was not as independent as she was. Plus, if she could kill an actual flesh and blood being, like the guard, a droid should not be treated as differently.

Setting up the various equipment in the lab - an assembly table with mechanical arms - she programmed in the necessary operation, took one more glance at the lab doors that she had sealed shut, and slid onto the table, laying down, closing her eyes. She could run the program herself from here, but she wanted to make sure it kept running even if something happened to her. Her artificial breath went in and out and she activated the control with her hand.

Skin pierced. blood spilled. she could feel the pain, and she clenched her hands tight as the metallic arms began working inside her. She could feel them cleaning out the damaged pieces, finding the battery units that were damaged, slowly disconnecting them.

Darkness. Paralysis. Mara had other, weak sources of power that allowed her to still run - reservoir power available in just about any droid. But it was not really worth having. She could not open her eyes, or register anything visual. She could not move any part of her body. She was essentially a mind - or rather, a portion of a mind just aware enough of how little was functional. And it frightened her. If anything went wrong, if a guard stepped inside too soon, if ...

it felt like an eternity but suddenly, she felt again, could see again. It was pain at first, that sensation of numbness disappearing and replaced with the reminder to her body that she was cut open. But she welcomed it. And what was more, she could feel the energy she had been lacking for weeks now. The battery replacement was working, and though it was not the same quality as her original (it would need to be replaced much sooner), it was something that worked, could be recharged with ease, and did not leave her fatigued. At least, that was the hope. She could feel the machine stitching her up, much as if she was a person being operated on. Metal and organic material being reformed together.

Eyes remained closed as the pain dulled ever so slightly from its monotany.

Flash - brain wires did their misfiring again, recalling the horrible memories that plagued her in sleep. But she wasn't asleep right now. She was awake. Did this mean the misfires were getting worse? If it could affect her by day, she was still vulnerable, possibly more so, since she could not predict.

Flash - a new memory crossed its path in her dreams - killing that security guard. It had seemed so necessary at the time, but her memory recalled how easy the kill was, the look of sudden panic and fear in his eyes during the seconds before his life was over. Perhaps each death would bring a new nightmare.

Flash - her eyes were open now, the last of the incision being cleared, when she heard something at the door. Guards, returned. No, it was too soon. Nude form slid off the table, the markings of a scar where the machine had not finished its work. More banging at the door, and the sound of a blaster. Mara grabbed the blaster of the guard, deactivated the safety, and took shelter behind several of the droids she had cannibalized for parts. She took a single shot, a circuit board she had left open. The lights flickered. As the doors to the room burst open, she took one more shot, and the windowless room flickered into utter darkness.

The guards had seen a blaster shot, had a slight sense of where it came from, but the darkness was disorienting. A few had flashlights, activating them But as soon as they were lit, precision shots struck them between the eyes - three guards were down quickly, and the rest, though they fired in the direction the shots were from, hit nothing but equipment (expensive equipment.

Soldiers that they were, they knew better than to try entering and catching someone who clearly had an advantage on them - backing out into the hallway, they secured the entrance, called for backup, and ordered several flash bangs to be thrown into the room.

Mara did have an advantage on them - eyes were equipped with the means of seeing in the dark - and so shots were easy enough to take. She had to be careful though - each shot revealed her location, and she could only take one or two at a time before a rain of fire came down on her. She shot, moved, shot again - and they had backed out, leaving her alone in the darkness. She knew she couldn't have long. Sliding on the jumpsuit she had come in, she made her way to the very back of the lab, knocking in a vent and shimmying her way inside. She glanced back inside, replacing the vent, before moving on as far as she could.

Not 30 seconds later, just as the guards were preparing to storm the room, a huge explosion went off, destroying the lab and knocking the guards outside to the ground.

=============================================================
It seemed like only a few hours later when the scene was being perused. Lab doctors lamented the loss of millions of credits of equipment and years of research. Security was trying to cover their backs. But the newest arrivals -they had something else in mind. Dressed similar to a swat team, faces hidden, they wore the Confederation logo on their uniforms. They had not only clearance to enter, but top priority authority. Entering the room, a quick scan of the area told them what they needed to know, and they commed their boss in Coronet.

"She was here"

The voice on the other end was calm, but clearly, that masked a deeper upsetness

"And she got away?"
"Yes sir - a small fighter took off without authorization just minutes after the blast. We believe it made it to hyperspace"
a pause, and then
"Did she get what she came for?"
"We believe she did. We'll need to analyze what the computer systems can tell us"
"Indeed - see to it. She may have just given us exactly what we wanted"

To be continued
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Medivh
SWSF: Legacy of the Force
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Re: Alive
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2011, 03:35:48 PM »
Slip into the Corellian Snub Fighter, as everyone headed the opposite direction, toward the explosion.
Carefully seal the hatch
Power up systems
Take off and fly as fast as possible.
Corellia had a strong defensive fleet, and regular fighter patrols. But she had come from a remote base in the north, an area not likely to be targeted, and thus less protected by the active fleet.
As she gained altitude, sensors detected several squads of fighters moving to intercept, and two capital ships following behind. There were also two similar snub fighters, closer than the rest, that had taken off from the base she had just left. They managed to get a few shots off, but she had the advantage of surprise and distance - the shots harmlessly missed, and they were too far for a missile lock.
The fighter shook as it protested against the atmosphere and the gravity, but shot forward as soon as it reached space. Fighters were closing in on all sides, but the gravity well of Corellia was all that was keeping her here. She passed that invisible barrier, the nav computer set, and hyperdrive activated.
Before she could be stopped, Mara Anna Gellar had disappeared into the safety of hyperspace
========================================================
Several hours later ...

Mara did not have the fuel for a long trip - certainly not in a fighter of this kind. But she could reach a rather important destination. Coruscant.

Or rather, what was left of the center of the galaxy.
She exited hyperspace and immediately began the evasive maneuvers necessary to bypass the asteroids of shattered planetary rock and scrap metal. Ionic interference was messing with her sensory equipment (this fighter was not designed for heavy duty or customized to deal with this kind of stress), but she knew the path to travel by heart - or by head - and she flew effortlessly through the clutter, toward the floating fortress in its very center.

It was home. Or to be more specific, it was the place of her birth, the place where Phage had designed her, grown her, programmed her, and brought her to life. It was the only place she could think of going after Corellia, and with any luck, the base was still functional enough that she could use its equipment to finish her repairs.

Repairs - the hours in hyperspace solitude had been filled with the horrible dream/memories flashing constantly. And seeing Phage's dark space platform brought those memories back. Red eyes, black body, and the ability to kill without mercy. That was her father. And she had killed him.

As she approached closer to the structure, she noticed with some alarm, that it was not the same as she had left it. Portions of the structure seemed to have caved in, and it looked like there were signs of a battle - scorch marks across the hull, molten metal holes, seeing into the structure.

The signs of struggle were visible as she landed as well. Marks of impacts against walls, leaving huge indentations, saber scars that cut into the metal that was not reinforced. She had heard only slight rumors of Sith activity, and she recalled that Phage had allied with one, a broken down remnant of Alexia Winton. She had been left here when Phage had been destroyed. But it looked like Winton had been taken down as well. She exited her small shuttle and cautiously made her way through the structure, seeing signs of a fight - a very singular, one-on-one fight - all throughout the platform. She had heard of the power of the force, but the amount of destruction it brought was mindblowing. How could two people do this to a facility that was made of the strongest materials around?

And of course, she worried that the victorious being would still be around.

Ahead, she could hear the shuffle of sounds, metal against metal, and she pulled a blaster from her side. Taking only a few steps, she rounded a corner. And came face to face with the most primitive residents of the platform, a horde of spider droids. These many legged creatures had served as Phage's grunts and workers. And served as the stations main security. They scuttled toward her, preparing to deal with her as they would any invader - but upon closing in, the hesitated, several running a thin red scanner sweep over her.

They recognized her, and instead of moving forward, these preprogrammed automatons cleared a path for her to proceed ahead.

Mara cautiously took a breathe, keeping her gun tightly in her hand, and moved into the next cooridor, heading toward the platform's inner sanctum.

So the spider droids recognized her, allowed her to proceed - but she had no idea what lay further ahead. Time to find out.

To be continued.
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Medivh
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Re: Alive
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2011, 03:36:20 PM »
The Ruins of Coruscant
Phage's Platform

Mara's boots clinked lightly on the steel floor as she proceeded forward through the dark cooridor, the soft scuttling sound of spider droids surrounded her, echoing off the walls. But slowly, ever so slowly, the sound began to fade behind her. The droids were not following her as she rounded the next corner, weaving her way through toward Phage's throne room. The sound eventually disappeared entirely, leaving her in an eerie silence, broken only by her own footsteps.

Ahead of her, blast doors, sealed shut - but on closer inspection, it wasn't just a set of closed doors. The metal to the blast doors was pushing out toward her, and the seam between the two sides of the doors looked like they were welded shut. In fact, the entire door looked as though it had overheated very quickly, and then cooled very quickly, leaving it oddly bent and irregular.

Mara stepped up to it, free hand tracing over the metal door while her other hand still held the blaster. Glancing over at the security controls, she sighed - the panel was not just inactive, but clearly had been destroyed in whatever caused the distortions to the door. And the blast door had no manual override (Phage never saw a need to create a contingency to what he considered the perfection of the machine). Mara took several steps back, leveled the blaster at the door's seam and fired a single shot.
The door quaked slightly. A good sign. She took a few more steps back, braced her position, and then let loose, firing shot after shot at the same point on the door, hoping to exploit a weakness. And boy did she ever.
The door quaked with each shot, and then, simply shattered, metal scrap falling to the ground.

Instantly, Mara felt a rush of compressed air from the chamber beyond, and she kept the blaster leveled, ready in case anything besides oxygen came out toward her. But after a minute, the air equalized and again there was silence.

Mara cautiously made her way forward, passed the shattered metal and into the chamber.

The room looked like there had been a contained explosion of some sort. Ever wall, the ceiling, and the floor looked like they were blown outward, giving the room a very round shape. Various pieces of equipment were in various states of disrepair or destruction, also looking as though they had suffered through some type of blast. But in the center of the room, in the lowest dip of the floor, one piece looked unscathed. Phage's throne, a huge mechanical chair that it seemed still had running electronics. Lying on the throne now was the deformed, destroyed body of Alexia Winton. Eyes were open but clearly dead. Dry blood clung to open wounds and, as Mara glanced around some more, to other parts of the room as well. Here is where the battle took place.

And there remained a feeling - something Mara couldn't quite place, but a feeling, like electricity.

"INFILTRATOR-01: You have returned"
Mara turned, blaster raised to look where the voice had come from, a mechanicalized voice.
In front of her, she saw the remains of a mechanicalized droid, one of Phage's minions. Optical sensor was lit with a soft red glow emanating from a cylinder at the top. A rotator module, allowing the 'eye' to turn connected to a base that looked much like a computer - though the computer itself was heavily damaged.
"INFILTRATOR-01, I require an update on the status of the war. I have lost the connection with our lord, the Baron Phage. He has been gone for some time. Mistress Winton maintained Lord Phage's home in his absence - until another woman destroyed her. It has been empty here ever since. Can you tell me where the Baron is?"

Mara stepped up to the machine, giving it a curious inspection. It didn't know. Didn't know that Phage was dead, or that Mara herself had killed him.

"Phage has been destroyed"
"Destroyed? But why has his backup systems not been triggered?"
"backup systems?"
"Yes - the Baron has a linkup that is designed to trigger a reconstruction and download should Phage ever be destroyed."
"Perhaps the trigger didn't work"
"I should activate the system then. Our Lord Phage has been absent and should be returned"
Mara could feel herself panicking. No, Phage had to be gone. And stay gone. No redesign or reprogramming.
"Wait! Your systems have been compromised. You could cause a flaw in Phage's programming, or mechanical design. Let me run an inspection of your systems and the construction facility"
The machine contemplated this for a moment before responding.
"INFILTRATOR-01, you speak correctly. We should run a diagnostic of the station's systems before attempting to reinitialize the Baron Phage. Diagnostic expected to be complete in approximately ... 36 standard hours"
Mara was about to try holding off the droid, but it's optical sensor already deactivated, and she could see, in its damaged shell, processors were already buzzing to life.

36 hours. She had 36 hours time before Phage might be brought back to life. She had to make sure that was not going to happen. At the same time, she could not destroy what she came here for - information on her own droid configuration.

A timer flashed on a small display near the droid's optical unit. 35 hours, 59 minutes. Time for her to get to work.
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Medivh
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Re: Alive
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2011, 03:41:52 PM »
The Ruins of Coruscant
Phage's Platform

Mara had two tasks that she had to complete in a very short amount of time: (1) find the information on her programming and mechanical configuration (2) destroy the proces by which Phage would be recreated.

Time was quickly running out. Despite her uninterrupted time, the damage to the station left many files and file pathways corrupted, leading Mara down one faulty trail after another. Where was ... she? where was her programming, her blueprints - where was everything that led to Mara being Mara - or more appropriately, where was all the stuff that brought INFILTRATOR-01 into existence that allowed it to change into what Mara had become, something more human.

She let out a sigh of frustration as she glanced over at the flashing red timer unit, frowning as she saw that she had lost half her time already. Only about 15 hours left, and with the complexity of a droid program buried in the utter mess of the systems she was pillaging through, it could take even the most sophisticated search far more than that to find what she was looking for.

Now had she had any luck finding the trigger program to Phage's download, or even find a map as to where on the station Phage's reincarnated form would be constructed. She knew her only option was to utterly destroy the base, and with it, any trace of Phage or her past.

She was going through one last try at the machine, before she would start setting the necessary explosives, when she came across a file with a name that struck her as familiar.

"G-U-R-I Project"
Mara's curiosity got the best of her and she tried entering

ACCESS DENIED

That was odd enough. The encryptions within the platform would have prevented outsiders from any access. Why put an additional password on a data file? Mara began typing furiously, in an attempt to bypass the system, but kept getting the same message

ACCESS DENIED
ACCESS DENIED
ACCESS DENIED
ACCESS DENIED
ACCESS DENIED
ACCESS ... wait for it ... DENIED

Damn it! What could be in this file that Phage was hiding from his droids. And then of course, it hit her just what that meant. Phage was hiding files from droids he himself had programmed. Which meant Phage didn't trust his own creations. Well, that made sense - Phage himself was a creation that ultimately turned on its master. But Phage did not have many creations with the processing capacity to allow independent thought. Except for her. Phage had not just password protected this file from anyone, he had blocked it from her. Which meant this file, of all of them, was somehow important to her and her existence, something that Phage didn't want her to know, which made it all that much more important for her to find out.

She pulled from her jumpsuit a software disk, slipped it into the computer, and activated it. A decrypter program, created by herself. Maybe, just maybe, it would work. She watched patiently as the program booted up, then saw as it began trying to slice it's way around Phage's own fences.

WORKING ....
WORKING ....
WORKING ....
WORKING ....

The program kept repeating itself. It would be hours likely before any results came in. And Mara figured she might as well not waste time.

Leaving the computer to do battle with her slicer, she stood and headed out of the room, back into Phage's command center.

"Alright, now where could HE be"

Phage was remarkably tied to ceremony - his rebirth would need to be something spectacular. Plus, it would be in the most secure location in the platform, which was supposedly this very room.

Mara glanced around. She knew the cooridors by heart, imprinted in her memory banks. But there must have been a part of this station that Phage never revealed to her. If she was untrusted, than Phage withheld vital information from her. Including where his new form would be located.

Mara closed her eyes, picturing a blue print of the platform in her head. Where were there inconsistencies between the outer shell and the inner rooms? Where was there a place for extra space, enough for a factory? No, there was none, unless her data was faulty. Where could it be?

She circled the room again before moving to the throne itself. Alexia Winton's lifeless body stared up at her. But Mara looked past that, to the throne itself. A huge metallic chair, seemingly unscathed, where the rest of the chamber was in shambles. Mara looked over the controls of the chair, musing softly to herself, before touching her hand to it and pressing a curiously small button that would not have been visible were it not for the slight splash of blood providing contrast. So inconspicuous. Immediately, she heard a hum from the chair, then a louder vibration, as the throne began to rotate. Most of the chair. The backside remained stationary as the seat and armrests circled around. Where the back would have been, an open shaft, leading downward, wide enough and tall enough to fit a small turbolift.

And in fact, a moment later, just such a turbolift appeared, a hiss as the door opened. Mara stepped inside, watching as the door closed and she moved downward. It seemed mere seconds before the door opened again, revealing a portion of the station Mara had never seen before.

The walls were thick, and made of a material that Mara's sensors could see was denser than even reinforced durasteel. The ceiling was low, the entire room in fact was extremely small. A cylindrical shape, that was no more than four meters in diameter. A heavily insulated cable extended down from the ceiling and spread to what looked like a dish, pointed downward. The floor itself looked like a sealed porthole. On the far side of the room, a small screen was flashing with the words
Running ... Diagnostic ... No Errors Reported .... and a status bar indicating how much time was left. So this was it. This tiny room was where Phage was to be reincarnated. Except that was impossible. The room was too small, and there was no secret droid here. If this is where Phage would be - than where was Phage?
Mara circled the the central dish, to the diagnostic screen and looked it over.

"Infiltrator - 01 ... what are you doing here. This is an unauthorized location"

It was the same droid entity from before, that had been upstairs.

"it was necessary for me to make sure that the physical location was intact and unharmed"
"That does not compute. You are unauthorized in this location."
"With the Baron gone, I'm in charge. He made me his second in command"

A pause

"that does not compute. All Phage droids are subordinate to only the Baron himself."
"Phage trusted me with his missions"
"The Baron programmed every droid with a specific task. Your task was to infiltrate and destroy the five primary targets. My task is to insure that the Baron is recreated. there is no heirarchy. There is only our lord, the Baron Phage, and all other subordinate droids"
Mara shook her head - a useless gesture, talking to a box
"Phage required a more sophisticated droid to be in charge in his absence"
"Negative, Infiltrator-01. The Baron had separate subroutines in case of his demise. You are in violation of said subroutines. You are ordered to power down immediately"
"You are not authorized t-"
"INFILTRATOR-01, your programming is faulty. Diagnostic shows that you have been attempting to access unauthorized information. Analysis predicts that your software has been compromised by enemies. Your slicing attempts have been cancelled. You are to power down immediately for repairs, or will be categorized as a hostile"
"No, wait, you-"
"INFILTRATOR-01, you have failed to compute. Prepare for forced deactivation"
Mara heard a sound from behind her and she ducked down just in time to avoid a metallic arm aiming for her. Quick as she could, she grabbed the arm and jammed it into the computer display.

"Platform has been compromised. Cancelling diagnostic and transmitting PHAGE reactivation programming"

"NO!"

Mara glanced around, noticing several lights beginning to flicker on the dish in the center. Phage wasn't here. He wasn't on the platform. Instead, the dish was sending out the broadcast signal to somewhere. It could be anywhere in the galaxy - or it could be some other rock in the asteroid field. Mara grabbed that metallic arm, watching sparks fly as she yanked it from wiring and swung it around to hit the dish.

"Phage upload ... 50% complete. Preparing decompression sequence"

Below the dish, the hatch began to open with a hiss, and Mara could feel herself being sucked toward the opening. that metallic arm she was swinging managed a last swing at the remarkably durable dish, before Mara was forced to cling onto it to avoid being sucked out the hole, her feet dangling into a small chute that opened into space.

"Phage upload .... 75% complete."

Mara had no time to think. Pulling hard on that metallic arm, she forced her legs upward and hard as she could, slammed them into the dish, once, twice, and then a third time before she lost her grip and felt herself shooting outward. Did she succeed? Did she stop the transmission? It was hard to say. But as the force her exit took her further away from the station, she began to focus on other problems- - such as getting back to her ship and escaping.

Space had nothing for her to push off of, and her trajectory was away from where she was going. Closing her eyes, Mara began to use some of her less human features, in hopes of making some progress.

Activating ... sublight transmitter
program ... activated ... sending power up sequence ....
She could feel her ship receive the signal, feel it respond by slowly beginning to warm up. Now all she had to do was survive long enough for the ship to reach her. Not that she needed air or food, but eventually, the platform may have some weapons it would fire on her. Who knows?

What she did know is that she made matters worse - she may have just reintroduced a monster of a machine to the galaxy, and her efforts to crack her own mysteries had failed. She felt as lonely as she was. Drifting with no direction.

It was an hour later before she managed to remotely command the ship out into space, let it circle around the facility, and then beacon in to her. She had had the fortune of plowing into the remnants of a ruined starfighter, bruising her form but giving her the reverse trajectory she needed to start moving back toward the station, albeit at a slower pace. Sending out the ship's tow cable to make sure she wouldn't drift away, she pulled herself in, and then remotely commanded the ship to drag her back to the base. She wouldn't be staying long. No longer was she a welcomed servant of Phage - now she was an enemy, like everyone else. And likely as not, she would not survive another trip within.

Drifting along, she had no idea what she would do next.

TBD
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Medivh
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Re: Alive
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2011, 09:31:20 PM »
The Ruins of Coruscant
Phage's Platform

The snub fighter had passed through the docking bay entrance, and already Mara could hear the scampering/clanging of droids rushing to meet her.  Using the tow cable, and the sudden return of gravity, she swung herself around, remotely opening the hatch of the fighter.  Agile artificial musculature curved around just so, allowing her to use the gravity in the most efficient manner, arcing around, prepared to land directly in the cockpit.

Blast.

A heavy weapon had fired straight through the tow cable, slicing it and changing her trajectory.  Instead of landing in the cockpit, she smashed into the open hatch.  More shots fired now as her body fell clumped, upside down into the seat.  No time to think, she leaned a hand behind her head and pressed the button to lower the hatch, then pressed the button to fire lasers.  No, she couldn't see where she was firing, but hopefully it would give her attackers some pause.  The hatch started coming down, and she began to right herself in the seat, finally facing forward just in time to see - a large metallic hand grasp the side of the cockpit.

An IG-100 MagnaGuard, unmodified, one of Phage's lieutenants.  Most had been destroyed on Corellia, but apparently, a few remained here on the station.  But Mara wasn't worrying about others - this one had latched onto her ship, it's body and arm tall enough to grasp even with the vessel a meter off the ground.  She leaned over the cockpit, mostly closed now save for where that metal hand was preventing it from sealing and glanced downward.  Cold glowing eyes stared up at her as a second hand reached up.  Two hands of an IG droid might be strong enough to pull her ship, anchor it in place.  She wasn't going to let that happen.  With a yell, Mara pressed full reverse on the thrusters, the ship jettisoning out of the docking bay as it continued taking fire.

The IG droid, however, was not so easy to be rid of, hand grasp strong enough that he came right with her.  His free hand now was reaching behind him, and pulling out an electrostaff.  The weapon of choice for most magnaguard droids.  He didn't have enough force to pull her anywhere or even bring himself up - but that weapon, properly struck could do some significant damage to her ship.  And in a few minutes, she'd likely be within firing range of whatever defenses the platform had active.  She needed to be able to escape, and not be a sitting duck.

Without anything shooting at her, she focused on the ship's controls, sending the ship spinning, diving, circling about, trying to get the droid's grip free.  Finally, she was rewarded when the electrostaff was flung from the metallic grip, yet still that stubborn droid held on, bringing his second hand up to try and break inside.

Also, the movement of the ship was not designed to withstand the kind of friction of having the hatch not entirely closed, and the gears at the top of the hatch groaned in protest.  too much strain, it would fly off - and that could make a very unpleasant hyperspace trip, even for her.

Looking for options, she felt around the cockpit for something that could be helpful.  Under the seat, she felt the familiar feel of a blaster, corellian, standard issue.  Wouldn't have much power, but hopefully enough.  Pulling out the gun, she aimed it at the droid's hands and began firing. one shot, then another.  Finally, the droid's fingers lost their strength, and fingers separated from the body that began to float away as it was knocked by the nose of the fighter.

The hatch finally sealed, and not a moment too soon.  Turbolaser and laser fire began coming at her from the platform, threatening to destroy her in one strong blow.  Mara pushed the joystick forward, punching the fighter ahead as fast as it would go.  Hands gripped tightly as she began to navigate through the ion storms and asteroids, trying to make it clear into deep space.
 . . . .
Coruscant, or what was left of it, was far behind her.  Along with it, more questions than answers.  She had not had access to her programming, but she had discovered a file with the name "GURI"  Guri was a word she had heard before, but the context of the conversation was missed.  She went through her memory banks trying to see what she knew, but alas, all she had heard was that it was the name of some droid - or some droid experimentation program.  That much she could have deduced herself.  But what kind of program? and where?

The archives of Coruscant were now years destroyed, and Corellia, which had an extensive library of its own was no place for her right now.  She would need to go to a place where nobody was expecting her to go, yet had the resource of information that she needed.  And so, she would have to brave into the depths of the Galactic Imperial Remnants, and visit the capital of Byss.

She frowned.  The last time she had encountered the imperials, it had been when William Tacofer had been the Corellian Governor, trying to prevent the military takeover.  Emperor Dementat had wanted Corellia to join the Empire, but Tacofer declined the offer.  The Emperor, of course, had been right - Corellia had fallen to its own militaristic powers.  Not at war with the Empire, as the fledgling republic was, it was certainly not at peace either.  Would the empire immediately fire on her, in a corellian fighter?  Or would she be able to land?

Only one way to find out.  With a press of a few buttons, and a pull back on the throttle, her ship entered hyperspace to the very deepest parts of the galaxy.

TBC
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Medivh
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Re: Alive
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2011, 04:39:08 PM »
Byss
Capital of The Imperial Remnants

Throughout the reign of Emperor Palpatine, and for millenia beforehand, Coruscant had been the capital of the known galaxy.  Palpatine's imperial palace, the greatest commercial routes, and the greatest defenses all were a part of Coruscant.  But Palpatine foresaw the value of having a hidden world, still deeper in the galaxy's center.  His intuition proved worthwhile for the Empire - when Coruscant fell to the New Republic, Byss became the capital of Empire.  And long before its existence (let alone location) became public, Palpatine and his successors had transformed Byss into a world far more protected and possibly more valuable than Coruscant ever could be.

The gravity was different here, so close to the center of the galaxy.  Mara could feel it - register it in her sensor readings.  But she also could picture in her cranial processors something else.  Byss was no ordinary world.

When she exited hyperspace, her first impression was that the world looked like Coruscant - a planetwide city.  But on closer inspection, she saw that she was mistaken.  It was not that the world was covered in cement and durasteel.  Instead, it was what orbited around the world that made it glisten metal:  Multiple skyhooks, drydocks that could be used to construct vessels many times the size of a super star destroyer, Golan platforms, and ships - hundreds upon hundreds of ships of every shape and size seemed to block the world from every angle from outside attackers.

The sleek image of a super star destroyer could be seen in one drydock, but the ISDs that abounded were equally impressive, combining their size with the sheer number of them.

The Empire had recovered significantly from its years of losses to the Republic, and Emperor Dementat had made clear his goals of expansion.  But Byss was not the secret it had been years ago, and defending the capital with the largest of the imperial fleets was no doubt a sign that Dementat was taking no chances of leaving his home base unprotected.

Mara saw other ships as well, smaller, and in varying shapes and sizes.  As she drew closer to the world, small pinpoints that looked like dust materialized into fighter squadrons that were on patrol.

Cargo and freight vessels also seemed to be streaming in and out of the planet, multiple TIE squadrons patrolling along the lines of vessels seeking permission to land.

Mara had yet to figure out exactly how to approach her arrival on Byss.  Come in secret, and try to sneak into the heavily fortified imperial archives?  Or ask permission first?  Each answer carried its own perils.  All were practical issues, not moral.  Mara was not a jedi - she had been influences by the morally gray: the Trade Federation, Phage, Valerie Gellar, Corellian and Imperial Intelligence.  Even considering her new found ability to choose, she wasn't sure what to choose, or why to choose the "morally superior" republic or the autocratic empire.  She knew that she wanted Corellia to be free, because Valerie wanted Corellia to be free.

But "free" like "alive" could mean any number of different things.

The small fighter was navigated into a path of descent.  She was now close enough to see the details on the sides of the star destroyers, see which ones had battle scars and which ones had the pristine look of newness.  Passing through the screen of defenses, she could now see the soft blue-green glow of light reflecting off the planet from the sun.  Something to do with the use of the Force on this world by Palpatine.

Flying closer still, she could make out the larger cities on Byss, covering vast continents.  This was when she first was contacted.

"Corellian Fighter, state your purpose and destination"

Mara's ship now detected two TIE fighters closing in behind her, weapons warming up.  Ah well.  She wasn't going to evade them.  Too much trouble. Plus, how long can you hide in the belly of the beast?

"This is Mara Gellar.  I seek to land in the capital city"
"Hold your course"

The TIE fighters closed in, but refrained from firing.  It was a few minutes before a response.

"The Imperial Diplomatic Core has contacted us.  You are listed as a criminal renegade from Corellia.  What is your purpose with the Galactic Empire?"

Despite the Empire's gains, they were hardly an 'empire' at this point - but Mara was not going to tell them they were still known colloquially as 'remnants'  not a good idea when trying to get in their good graces.

"Corellia has labeled me a criminal, but I have done no wrong.  Those in power feel threatened by me.  I wish to meet with the Emperor."

"No one meets with the Emperor"

Mara frowned.  No, that would have been too easy.

"In that case, I wish to meet with an emissary of the Emperor.  I recall meeting Admiral Saevia in the past?"

She knew her time was running out.  If she didn't get permission to land, she'd likely be blown out of the sky before she had the chance.  It was another few tense minutes before she received a response.

"Mara Gellar, you are directed to land at docking bay C-32, following the flight path we are transmitting now.  Deviate from this course, and you will be shot down."

"I understand"

Mara began her descent, following the directed path into the capital city of Byss, the large Imperial Citadel towering in the distance.  She had no idea what would happen when she landed.

==========================================
Imperial Diplomatic Core Offices

"Sir, we are tailing a correllian standard fighter making a descent toward the capital.  Pilot says her name is Mara Gellar, and our files indicate she is listed as a criminal from Corellia.  She wishes to meet an 'emissary of the Emperor.'  Actually, she wanted to meet the Emperor himself, but of course, that is not allowed.  Shall we let her land?"

The head officer frowned - everyone wanted a word with the emperor.  But there was protocol.  He transmitted the message up the next rung, on the off chance that the criminal had something of value. The Empire, after all had been eyeing Corellia for sometime now.

He was startled to get the message, ordering her to be allowed to land immediately.  High priority.  and he had no idea why

To Be Continued by her Royal Highness ...
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Medivh
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Offline Medivh

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Re: Alive
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 10:16:46 PM »
Byss: Imperial Capital

Surface: Emperor's Citadel

" ... Have the landing party bring her to me and keep it quiet. I am not in the mood for a public showdown."
The handmaiden nods and scampers away, leaving Karen with a haze of questions and angles. She squares her shoulders, stands and stalks off into wardrobe to find something more betting a future Empress.
A smaller, more intimate reception hall with a breathtaking view into the pulsing green and blue cityscape below is prepared.
The twinkling lights amplify the intensity of Karen's emerald eyes as she awaits a girl who calls herself a Gellar. 

Before Mara had even landed, the TIE fighters behind her already began zooming off, heading back into orbit before most in the city would even notice them.  Mara's landing would look like any other ship landing.

A bit odd - they had been so forceful about her keeping to her lane, but now it seemed it was more important that her landing NOT look important.

When she had landed, the odd behavior continued.  She was greeted by two imperial officers in their standard black garb.  No storm troopers could be seen.
And her landing location was, despite its closeness to the palace, a rather decrepit looking sight.  Old freighters could be seen on either end being serviced.  Obviously, her landing was meant not to draw attention.

Mara had no qualms with that.  Meeting with an imperial emissary could cause her more trouble than was worth, and secrecy could only help her (unless, of course, the imperials wanted her dead - then secrecy would mean they would not hesitate to finish her off).

Without so much as a word, the officers led her down a narrow underground passageway.  The path began to slope upward, and the walls began to look neater, the steel lined walls looked cleaner, more pristine as they moved further from the landing bay.  Finally, they reached a set of blast doors that when opened, revealed a set of turbolifts.  The room was plain, but the turbolifts were fancy enough.  Mara could not get a sense of where she was, but her best guess (her processors had done a fairly good job of narrowing down the number of possibilities) was that she was in the basement of a small but well known reception hall that had a high rise looking over the city, just a short distance from the citadel.

The turbolift inside was just as nice, and Mara took note of the shiny chrome handlebar and plexiglass windows, allowing her to see inside the turbolift shaft.  Several stories up, the view changed, and she could see herself rising higher and higher above the city. through a now transparent wall.  Higher still before the turbolift began to slow and come to a stop at the penthouse level.

With a hiss, the doors opened, and she stepped out into a dimly lit yet well decorated hall.  Windows were covered with heavy curtains, giving the room a more intimate feel.

And ahead of her, a woman with fiery red hair and green eyes.  Mara stepped forward, though her escort hung back.  This woman had a presence about her.

Mara was not as well put together - her jumpsuit, stolen from a pilot, was ill fitting and torn from her recent excursions.  But her hair and her face would be recognizable to Karen - the black hair, dark eyes, pouty lips - they looked like Valerie Gellar, not exactly, but close enough that someone would think they were sisters.

Mara recognized Karen too.  Seeing her face, she immediately began processing what she saw through her databanks.

The first entry that popped up:
- Imperial Counselor, Karen Winton, Emissary to Contruum.

Public information regarding the socialite-gone-sith flooded through Mara's cortex.  But then more information, connecting Karen to the sister that had allied with Phage. 
- Alexia Winton, terminated, Coruscant

Other bits and pieces of data filtered through, but Mara did not know the whole story, either because Phage didn't know, or didn't want her to know. All these thoughts ran through her head in the seconds it took her to approach Karen.  But one thing she did know, as images scrolled through her head, old tabloids of the redhead and her cohort.  This was a friend of Valerie's.

Mara approached Karen and nodded her head in a sign of respect.

"Counselor Winton - it is good to meet you.  I am Mara Gellar.  I am Valerie's cousin"

TBC
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Medivh
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Offline Syren

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Re: Alive
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2011, 09:01:53 PM »
Byss: Imperial Capital

Surface: Emperor's Citadel

The reception hall is quiet and still as she reflects on the unexpected. It all seems like a lifetime ago. Memories flood through her mind, filtered by the darkness that now consumes it. All the ways Valerie was that Karen could never let herself be back then. The freedom, lack of shame and reckless abandon in which she took from the worlds was often the source of conflict. And when she got the bright idea to drag Kimber along to come looking for Karen after Dementat had called on her, she instead found St. Claire and began the rise to her greatest legacy. She set in motion things that had been written long before any of them were even born.

Destiny's a bitch but then again, so was Valerie.

A soft chime signals the arrival of the lift. Karen turns around, running her fingers along the smooth fabric of the simple but elegant gray one-shoulder pleated gown. Her crimson hair is stylishly tousled and spills halfway down her back. The girl steps into the room accompanied by two escorts, disheveled but strikingly beautiful. There is no mistaking those features. The raven hair, smoldering eyes, and perfect pout. Waves of the past crash against the shore of the present.

"Leave us."

The escorts vanish.

Karen is so taken aback she has to stifle a gasp. The resemblance is overwhelming. Still, there is something ever so slightly off. The girls skin is lighter, devoid of Valerie's naturally darker complexion. There is something else too. She can't...feel her. Not in the way she can feel everyone else. When she speaks, it is with a voice she knows.

"Counselor Winton - it is good to meet you. I am Mara Gellar. I am Valerie's cousin."

First thought; counselor? Oh yeah right, that. She had convinced herself the whole diploserve thing was a cruel joke played on her by an even crueler father. He paid quite a price for it too. Second; cousin? Until recently, family was not something Valerie Gellar knew she had. Kimber, the Major, so many secrets. Perhaps there are Gellar's no one has yet heard of. Even so, names and appearances do not automatically establish trust. It must be played a certain way.

Karen smiles broadly, moving toward her slowly.

"It's very nice to meet you, Mara. I'm Karen Winton. I was one of Valerie's closest friends on Coruscant. My deepest condolences on your loss. We all anguish in her absence but I am honored to be in your company."

Mara regards her curiously.

Karen sashays toward the table, motioning over the refreshments laid out upon it.

"Please, make yourself comfortable."

There are several moments of hesitation before she sits. She certainly shares Valerie's suspicious nature. Karen eases into a chair directly across from her, gazing openly at the ghost of a dearly departed frenemy.

"I am told you seek audience with the Emperor. I also have been made aware of your status on Corellia. While I'm not saying the two are mutually exclusive, it does beg certain questions. So I must ask, why have you come?"


-TBC
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 09:11:24 PM by Syren »
Syren