STAR WARS: TROOPERS

    Google Doc Part Four

Somewhere in hyperspace, around the same time...

An Imperial shuttle bores a hole through space on its way to Mon Gazza.  In the passenger section are seated three individuals, two belonging to the Imperial Navy, and one stormtrooper.  Seated together are Rear Admiral Joseph Keyes and Lieutenant Commander Figg Nutonne.  Keyes’ face shows the signs of age and stress, his youth was spent on politics and war, but he is not so young as to be finished with it all.  Next to him Nutonne sits with an air of superiority about him.  He is younger than Keyes, but also seems to avoided all the scars of a military career, possibly through his own cunning.  The contrast between the two men could not be greater,  with the strangely styled mustache on Nutonne’s face almost enhance the point that he does not belong.  Perhaps it was these stark contrasts that have kept him in service of the Admiral.  Admiral Keyes was known for finding great use out of things that others could see no benefit from.  His resourcefulness and an eye for the minutiae in all things alone may have brought him this far.  Seated across from them is yet another piece that perhaps doesn’t fit.  A lone stormtrooper wearing the all black uniform of the stormtrooper corps.  The trooper has short, brown hair in a bob cut, sky blue eyes, and a light complexion.  The trooper was shorter than average, with a thin build and soft features.  On either side of the trooper were large duffle bags packed with all sorts of gear and belongings.   The trooper’s name is Raine Kaimura.  

“Are you sure that your brother can handle this assignment?”  asked Keyes.  

Figg replied, “My brother may be a horrible excuse for a soldier, but he has his uses.  I need an atypical person, and I don’t think anyone is more atypical than him.  It takes a special level of failure to become that different.”  

I wonder if he realizes that he’s practically describing himself...probably not. Keyes thought before stammering out a hasty reply, “If you say so.  And what of Corporal Kaimura, are you sure you want to part ways already?”  

At this remark Raine looks up, silently joining the conversation at hand.

“Don’t forget that Kaimura has only been here a short while, and considering the circumstances, I’d rather not keep someone around who might bring death upon me, even if Giff is my useless brother, I doubt he’ll lead to my downfall.”

“Aren’t you being a bit harsh?  Did you even bother to read the report details?”  Interjected Keyes.

“Oh yes, of course I did.  It’s clear to me however that someone who hasn’t the heart for this sort of thing IS dangerous.  Think of this as a favor, a position in a combat unit that is guaranteed to see action, and soon.  It will either fix the problems...”

“Or kill me.  Death is a simple thing, I don’t have a problem with it.  What happened to the Ensign is not my fault.  It’s not my fault that HIS body failed him.  I...I tried.”

“Did you?  You know for all that he did for you, I bet you could have tried harder.  Besides, I happen to know that some things had gotten very....iffy...in the days leading up to the incident.  I suspect that could have clouded your judgment.  I know all too well that I am not a likeable person, so I can’t rely on someone who might factor their hatred of me into their medical duties.  The only reason I pulled you out of that mess is that I needed a medic handy to get the papers signed to get my brother out of his unit.  You’re not even a volunteer, do you think I want someone who is stuck serving without any sense of duty to be my medical aide?  Ridiculous.”

“You can blame or pin whatever you want on me.  It doesn’t matter if I’m drafted or not.  It doesn’t matter whether I liked the Ensign or not, it doesn’t matter whether or not he died.  It doesn’t even matter if I like YOU or not.  I’m pretty damn used to people not liking me or being against me.  Dying is such a simple thing, living is such a complex thing.  I prefer the complexity of living to the simplicity of death.  I may be drafted, I may be held in service indefinitely, but I will make something from that instead of taking some easy way out.  I’ll live a beautiful life, and I will impress that upon others.  I’ll use the complexities of life to cheat the simplicity of death.”

“Oh...such fancy talk.  Words are such useless things though.  No matter, you’ll still be out of my hands soon enough.  You had better enjoy the last moments of my presence.”

Keyes looks at them both and sighs.  “This conversation is over.  Commander you may end regretting your decision, who knows.  Corporal, I think you’ll find your new squad to be more...hospitable.  At any rate they’ll put you to good use and let you stand on your own merits, I’m sure of it.”

“Thank you sir,” Raine says with the faintest of smiles.

Figg mouths “Thank you sir” in a ridiculous manner; a childish jab in Raine’s direction.

Keyes just shakes his head.  I’m glad this flight is almost over, the sooner we arrive, the better.

Shortly after the end of the fistfight between Leon and Revy, Leon’s comms console alerts him to a message.  It’s from Admiral Keyes.

Leon turns toward the console and opens the message.

The message indicates that the shuttle is arriving within the hour.  It also indicates that you should gather the squad, and be prepared for a personnel transfer as well as new orders.

Personnel transfer? Intriguing... Leon patches into the PA system from his terminal, “Attention in the garrison. Admiral Keyes will be arriving within the hour. We will meet in the common room to go out and meet him at his shuttle.”

Gavin switches off his soldering iron.  “Oh, perfect.  I hope Leon can keep his rebel friends out of the way for a while...”

Can’t be helped.  Allen pushed the emergency porn button once again for reasons that might or might not involve porn.

“Egads...someone’s space madness has been revealed.  They’ll be whisked away by the men in white coats.  By men in white coats, I mean Grand Admirals!”  Giff decides to head to the common area.

Anton yawns.  “Well... I guess I better get up, the brass is a comin’.  Besides Giff just left me here without saying I could get up....so.... why not!”  Anton crawls out of the infirmary bed and decides to go hunt down a uniform real quick.

Razor arrives in the common room early.  Noticing no one else in the room, he cloaks and thinks to himself "How long will it take for them to notice me?"

Joanna sighs, then gets up and heads to meet her father.  “Well... this should go over well...” she says to herself as she moves along, “I guess after everything I’ve discussed...it won’t be too bad.”

Leon arrives in the common room dressed in his dress black stormtrooper uniform. Well, that is freaking unusual. Why the hell is that distorted...Leon walks over to where the distortion is and waves his hand over the area.

Razor decloaks and says "5 seconds."

“HOLY FUCK!” Leon jumps back startled to see Razor standing in front of him. “How...How the hell...Do you...” Leon shakes his head. “Five seconds, sir?”

Anton stumbles in...”Holy fuck what...did I miss something?”  He says as he noticed Leon with his hand on Razor’s face.

Razor calmly turns to Anton "Lance Corporal Good to see you up." Turns back to Leon and takes a look at the medals on the uniform "Obsidian Star, looks good on the uniform Sergeant."

“Thank you sir. The squad earned it while deployed on Sriluur.” Leon takes note of the ribbons on Razor’s uniform.

“That and a good dose of space madness!”  Says Giff as he strolls in.  “It was very exciting though, there were bodies everywhere, and sand.  Lots of sand, more sand than I could ever count, you know, if I wanted to count sand.”

Gavin and Sweetness walk through the door, and wait without saying anything.

Razor turns to Gavin as he comes in "Corporal." He looks past him "I'm assuming your guest is not here right now."

Gavin nods.  “Correct, sir.”

Razor replies "Good." Turns and watches Joanna enter the room.

Joanna enters the room last.  Wearing her as of yet not entirely repaired flightsuit, minus the helmet which was probably lost on Raltiir.  She glances around the room at everyone, then takes a seat.  

Looking around the room and seeing that everyone has arrived, Leon walks over to a terminal and brings up the short range detection data looking for information of the shuttles location. “Looks like the shuttle just came out of hyperspace. Should only be a few minutes before it touches down.”

A few minutes later, the shuttle has touched down.  In a few more minutes, three figures enter the room: two officers, and one enlisted stormtrooper carrying a pair of large duffle bags.  Leading the group is none other than Giff’s brother, Figg.  His mustache looks particularly offensive today.  Following him is Admiral Keyes and the stormtrooper pack mule, it would seem.

“Garrison, A-tench hut! Welcome to Mon Gazza, Admiral.”

Keyes glances around the room, making note of everyone in attendance.  

   

Gavin stands at attention.

“At ease, troopers.  This will be a short visit.”  He says then he turns to look at Joanna for a moment.  “We have a few things to go over first.  Commander, if you will.”  He nods to Figg who then steps forward.  “As some of you are aware...there’s to be a personnel transfer.  As some of you are also aware, one of you is a total failure.  But I intend to remedy that.  Corporal Nutonne...you are coming with us....”

If Giff were wearing a helmet, he may have thrown up in it, just to cheer himself up.

“Worry not...because I need Giff for this special assignment, I have at least taken the effort to find a replacement.  Be warned, this one is strange, and has already had one commander die.  People claim a lot of things, but I think it’s just easier to blame it on the failings of their interpersonal relationships.  Keyes jumps in in an annoyed tone, “Commander...”  Figg sighs.  “Right, right, all that aside, you will all be fine.  She does actually know how to treat people....medically...unlike my brother.”  Figg looks at Giff and huffs.

“Right” says Keyes.  “Corporal introduce yourself.”  As he says this the stormtrooper carrying the duffle bags sets them down and moves forward and stands at attention.  

“Corporal Raine Kaimura.  Reporting for duty.  I look forward to working with all of you.”  She says with a very slight bow...which is a bit unusual for being at attention.  Raine is actually somewhat short for a standard stormtrooper, of thin build, with short brown hair and light blue eyes.  Her skin is of light complexion, and her features...soft.  Her eyes betray the delicate nature of her appearance though, revealing that there has been hardship in the corporal’s past.

“Welcome to second squad, Corporal.”

Raine slips in a quick smile before returning to proper attention.

Razor takes the appropriate amount of time to regard her presence before turning back to Keyes.   

Gavin stares at the new arrival quizzically, but says nothing.

“At ease Corporal.”  Keyes once again takes command of the discussion.  “So yes, effective immediately Corporal Kaimura will be second squad’s medic, and Corporal Nutonne will be assigned to my staff.  Sergeant Murphy, the official documents are contained in this datachip...as well as your new assignment.  Your squad is going to be deployed, and soon.  In the meantime you need to have the unit in peak shape, physical training, combat exercises, the works.”  He pulls out a datachip and hands it over to Leon.

“The squad will be ready, Admiral.”

“Very good, I expected nothing less from you.”  Keyes then looks around again.  “All right, Commander and Corporal Nutonne, get yourselves situated, in the meantime I’ll be talking with my daughter.  The rest of you feel free get to know your new squadmate, you are dismissed.  Anyone who needs to speak with me before I leave may do so after I return from the shuttle.”

Joanna gets up and heads toward her father, she turns back and smiles at Leon, then looks around.  “Well everyone, I’ve enjoyed the stay, and thank you again.”

Raine grabs her duffle bags and moves to get distance from Figg as quickly as possible, and starts looking for a seat in the common room, settling on an empty seat opposite where Figg had been moments before.  

“Corporal Kaimura, welcome again to second squad. The best damn combat unit in the 131st. I’m Sergeant Murphy the squad leader, and this is Lieutenant Razor from the 501st. Over there,” motioning toward Gavin, “is Corporal Gavin Ragdos the assistant squad leader. Our army brethren is Specialist Allen Devol, and finally Lance Corporal Anton Strayer.”

Razor moves over to meet Raine with a handshake "Corporal Raine, I'm RC 8301 or Razor. I'm here to evaluate this squad's potential as storm commandos. Out of curiosity, where were you last assigned?"

Raine looks up at Razor.  “It was uh...a special assignment.  A naval intelligence op, you can read the report if you have clearance.  I haven’t had a unit in a while.  I’ve just been put wherever a medic was needed.”

Razor makes a mental note to read the report as soon as convenient. He replies to her "Well with the transfer of Corporal Nutonne and the reputation of this unit you will be needed here."

“I hate to interrupt but I do have something somewhat urgent to discuss...” Allen eyes the datachip nervously.  “How long before our assignment starts?”

Leon walks over to the terminal he used earlier, inserts the datachip and brings up the information of the large terminal display located on the wall of the room.

The terminal displays three files, one is a personnel transfer form, one is a dossier for Corporal Kaimura, and the third is the unit orders.  Leon punches up the orders.

Razor turns to look at the screen and begins to read.

[[Suppression of Open Rebellion Operations on Dressel.  In reaction to the severity of the situation, the entirety of the 131st is being deployed to Dressel.  Second squad has been specially requested as one of a few units to be part of Lord Vader's personal strike team.  In two weeks time the squad will be transported to Vader's fleet in preparation for the operation.]]

“Yeah, we get into a lot of scraps. And I’m almost always half dead in the field. Your skills will definitely be needed.”

 “Two weeks...that’s not very long.  Look guys, I’m glad we’re going to be part of Vader’s personal strike team and all but...”  Allen lowers his voice and takes a quick glance at Corporal Kaimura.. “We do have some unfinished business with our mutual friends.”

“What?  Mutual friends?”  Gavin frowns, and flicks a glance at Leon.

“Yes, well, those friends will have to wait till the Empire affords us the opportunity to deal with them. We have an op to prepare for, so make sure your gear is prepped.”

“Wait, which friends are we talking about?”

“It doesn’t take two weeks to prep gear.  In fact, if you wanted more time to prepare, then we should take full advantage of our resources.  We can get our stuff sorted out, drill for however long you’d like and still have time for rest in the two weeks we have IF we do this.”

“That was the plan, Allen. And how would we have the time to go after Creed? We only have two weeks.”

“The time dilation factor in the other dimension is 14 to 1.  Every week we spend over there is half a day over here.  Its a couple days to Byblos, we could spend however many months over there and still be back with plenty of time.”

“...other....dimensions?  I mean...I read about stuff like that but...wait....is this some kind of initiation thing?”  Raine looks momentarily on guard...waiting to see what will happen next.  

Gavin facepalms.

“Initiation? I guess it kinda is an initiation. Every member of second squad has dimension jumped at least once I believe... I had forgotten about the time difference. Is it really so great?” Leon pauses for a moment in thought. “We may not have the strength to take out Creed right now, but its worth a try. I want that bastard dead. We will use this as our deployment training exercise. Excellent suggestion Allen.”

Raine shrugs.  “It’s not like I have much choice in the matter.  I’ll just make the best of all of this...besides...it might be...fun?”  

“That’s a.... interesting way to think of it.”  Gavin pauses for a moment.  There is an awkward silence.   “Welcome to second squad!”  Gavin resumes facepalming.

“Well I DO feel pretty welcome....surprisingly.  Certainly better than the last group I was with.  So dimensional travel and vendettas...high chances of death all around?”

“There’s always a high chance of death where second squad goes. You may have taken that information in stride, but we have a few more surprises left for later. But to give you an idea of this unit’s history...we’ve had one blow himself up, two transfers, and...well two turn fucking evil as shit.”

“I’m going to go out on a limb here...the explosion wasn’t an accident was it?”

“Correct. It was two proton torpedos I rigged into explosives charges to blow up a bridge of a starship.”

“Hmm...I try to avoid 100% death chances.  I’m okay with high chances, but volunteering for 100% seems troublesome.  I also don’t kill people...but I will raise their chances of death...just never to 100%.  So...I hope rigging people with explosives isn’t common.  If it is, I recommend against it because it’s a very...inefficient use of living tissue.  Just a suggestion though.”

“I didn’t rig him. He volunteered to trigger the device on his own. He was very talented at evading explosions. He wasn’t nearly as great at avoiding explosions as Wiki the Wookie.”

“Oh...just another important lesson about gambling.  So if you have been dimension hopping so much, why hasn’t anyone else heard about it?  Are you all secretly some special unit that protects the universe from all kinds of perils?  Or...just really bad liars?”

“I guess you’ll find out soon enough...”

“Yes, you could say that we are a special unit. The dimension hopping is classified so very few officers in the corps know about it.”

“A special unit indeed.” Says Anton as he slides into the area.  “We even fight Jedi without fear.  Shit gets real here so...just keep us patched up and we won’t have any problems.  Oh...and you should probably practice lifting weight equivalent to the Sergeant’s body weight, a most useful skill.”

“I’ll try...failing that I think I’ve got dragging down fairly well.  Jedi you say?  Hmm.  I wonder what kinds of injuries you can get from those...”  she’s lost in thought for a moment. “No matter.  Either way we have a lot of training to do, and I’ll do my best.  Regardless of what that one asshole said, I think I’m pretty good, it’s not my fault when flesh fails on me, there’s only so much you can do to keep it alive.”

“Let me ask you something.  Do the words ‘space madness’ mean anything to you?”

Raine thinks for a moment.  “A colloquial term for loss of sanity in deep space I suppose.  Spacers have been known to go insane for a variety of reasons, that probably covers one form.”

“And what percentage of people you have met... would you estimate suffer from it?”

“To avoid some sort of strange technical or psychological debate, I’m going to say zero percent.”

“I think you’re going to do just fine.”

“Well... good” she smiles.  “I’ll try to not disappoint.  I should probably warn you though.  Although I feel capable enough, just in case I’m completely wrong about myself.  I haven’t been in combat yet.  Seen people die, yes.  May have lead to the death of others...yes.  Combat?  Not in a traditional sense.  So I’m certainly open to any pointers based on experience.”

“Wait you’re a stormtrooper who has never been on a battlefield and don’t kill people? How did you pass your omega mission and do you even know how to use an E-11?”

“I passed my Omega mission because I did what I was required to do.  I do know how to operate, field-strip, and clean an E-11.  I am not the best shot around, but I wager I increase death percentage on people by maybe 30%.  If that isn’t acceptable, then perhaps I will have to try harder.”

Leon chuckles, “Fry my hide, you are one intriguing and unique trooper.”

“Frying your hide greatly increases your chance of death.  You probably shouldn’t say that to people.”

“Actually... I think it’s a pick up line.  Not sure though... don’t quote me.” Anton says with a grin.

“God, I hope not.  Or else I couldn’t count the number of times that my squad leader has hit on me...”  Although Gavin is joking... there is the smallest seed of doubt.

Leon breaks out into hysterical laughter.

Raine glances at Gavin and Leon.  “Hmmm..... maybe?  There’s plenty of tension in the air...maybe you do have something going on.  That only happens in manga though...so I won’t hold out my hopes.  Somehow though, I do doubt that it’s a pickup line.  So I’m safe...for now.”  she laughs.

Between the laughter Leon manages to get out an explanation, “It has a couple of different meanings, one of which being surprise.”

“Well.  Fry my hide!”  She starts laughing even more now.

“Nnnnnooooooooo!”  Gavin does not want.

“Must be more initiation.  Well...I guess I should uh...find somewhere to put my stuff.  Get assigned to a room, all that good stuff.”

“Right. I suppose you would like to stow your equipment and personal bags. Anton, show Kaimura to one of the opens rooms, and give her a quick once around of the barracks so she can quickly acclimate here.”

“Sure thing Sarge. Corporal Kaimura...did I say that right?  If you’ll follow me, I’ll get you setup somewhere.  And the guided tour of the garrison shouldn’t take too long, it’s not all that big.”  He pauses for a bit, and after mulling over his thoughts offers, “I can help you carry one of those bags or something, if you’d like.”  

Raine shakes her head.  “I can carry my gear, just lead the way, Corporal Strayer was it?  Your pronunciation is fine by me.”  She picks up her bags, slinging the straps on her shoulders.  Combined the bags appear to be equivalent to the mass that Raine takes up, but that doesn’t seem to bother her.

“All right then, follow me.”  Anton says as he turns towards one of the corridors.  Anton moves at a measured pace considering that he is not burdened by large duffle bags.  He ponders what might be in those bags but thinks it better not to inquire for now.  Anton moves to the first door he believes to be unoccupied and tries to open it...it’s locked.  He shrugs, and turns to the door across the hall that opens without trouble.  “Ah here we go.”  He opens the door and takes a quick peek inside before stepping to the side.  

 

Raine steps in and sets her bags down.  She quickly surveys the room then turns to Anton, with a slight bow, “Thank you Corporal.  I’m going to get a few things in order and then report to the infirmary to get up to speed on the needs in this garrison.”

“Sure thing, I better go find something to get busy with....although the Sarge owes me a celebratory drink...if I get cleared for it anyway, so I may be seeing you later.”  He waves and heads back into the hall and stops when he realizes that the intercom on the door across the hall is speaking.  

“Hello?  Is someone there?”

Anton walks over to the intercom.  “Sorry to disturb you...ma’am.  I was not aware of someone else staying on the garrison.  

“Ah, I don’t recognize your voice, we haven’t met yet.  I’m Rias Gremory, I am here under Sergeant Murphy’s permission.  Feel free to check that with him.”

“Eh, Sure.  Have a good day ma’am,  I’m sure we’ll run into each other again then.” Anton walks off, thinking to himself, Damn Leon, you could share the wealth you know...geez.   

Gavin walks back to his quarters, a spring in his step.  Despite the stressful conversations he’s been having as of late, he finds himself in a good mood... for some reason.  “No.  More.  Space.  Madness!”  He engages in a celebratory fist-pump.

        After arriving at his quarters, he sits down at his computer terminal and punches up the requirements for admittance to the stormtrooper corps.  Gavin felt pretty sure that only males were allowed in (for some reason), but... given his squadmates’ reaction (or lack thereof) to their team’s new medic, he was beginning to doubt his memory.

Gavin’s search confirms his suspicions:  only males are allowed to join the stormtrooper corps.  “Hmmm.”  He searches the HoloNet for any news which might indicate a change has taken place recently.

Unfortunately, the search turns up nothing.  “Hmm.”  Gavin steeples his fingers.  “Oh, well.  I can just ask her myself the next time I see her.”

“Speaking of medics... I’m betting our last one up and left before he gave Elina clearance to go home.  I better go let her know...”  Putting Corporal Kaimura out of his mind for the time being, Gavin leaves his room to see if he can find Elina.

After a bit of wandering and asking around, Gavin is able to locate Elina in the fitness room.  She’s keeping a steady and even pace on a treadmill.  With her music playing she is unable to hear Gavin’s approach.  With the fitness room being empty, Elina decided to just let the music play via speakers.  A variety of synthesized sounds formed together into a fairly upbeat track with a decent tempo appropriate for walking.  

Gavin grooves mildly to the beat.  “So, I take it you’re feeling better, then,” he says, by way of announcing himself.

Elina is startled, and despite moderate pace of the treadmill suddenly loses balance due to her broken rhythm.  As both of her feet are now moving forward, her center of gravity happens to be moving in the opposite direction, which is a bad combination.  Elina begins to fall backwards before she’s able to find some way to get her balance back.      

Gavin’s eyes widen in surprise, but quickly moves to catch her. [1d20+11]

Gavin steps in, arms shooting forwards to stop Elina’s fall.  Elina’s weight is a bit more than Gavin had expected however, and he’s forced to brace and put a bit more effort into slowing her down.  An unexpected side effect of which, and partly due to bad footing on Gavin’s part considering the sudden catch, sends both Gavin and Elina backwards.  As the dust settles Elina finds herself sitting up on top of something...or someone.  Meanwhile Gavin’s head is just inches away from some other piece of exercise equipment.  “Are...are you okay?” Elina asks, still apparently quite surprised by the sudden series of movements.  

“Oof.  That’s my line.  Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to startle you.  Um.  Are you all right?  My reflexes are usually better than that.”  Gavin waits patiently for Elina to untangle herself before attempting to rise.

Elina carefully moves off of Gavin and pulls herself up via one of the machines in the room.  “I’m fine....thanks for the save...I guess I should really not zone out that much, certainly not while on a MOVING surface.  You still haven’t said if you’re okay or not...you did end up taking most of the impact.”

Gavin gets up and dusts himself off.  “What, me?  I’m fine.  It’ll take more than that to harm a ‘mighty Imperial Stormtrooper.’”  Gavin grins, and hopes that it is obvious that he is joking.

“Oh good, it would be problematic if I could take out the entire garrison through clumsiness.” She chuckles.  “So what brings you down here?”  She asks as she reaches over and pauses the music player.

“Well, I have some... news.  Our ‘esteemed’ medic has suddenly and unceremoniously been transferred.  Which means he won’t be around to give you the all-clear to go home.  Now... we did receive a replacement medic, but...”  Gavin closes his eyes, and rubs them with his thumb and forefinger.  “Well, she could certainly give you a quick once-over, but she doesn’t even know about the virus... and I’m not even sure if we’re allowed to tell her.  So if you want, I for one would not stop you from using your own judgement about how healthy you are at this point.  Up to you.”

Elina blinks.  “Oh...that’s an interesting turn of events.  I’ll probably head out soon, Claptrap probably hasn’t completely destroyed the place yet, so the sooner the better.  Feel free to send  the medic my way he.....wait....she??” She pauses.  “That’s going to be... interesting isn’t it?”

“Hm?  What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, I just...you don’t hear about female soldiers all that often in the Imperial Military.  I mean, obviously, there are some.  Guess she must be comfortable being around a bunch of male soldiers by now.”  Elina shrugs.  “Dunno, just thought it was strange for a garrison like this.  But I guess it’s kinda cool too.”

“Well... to be honest... it IS a bit strange.  I wouldn’t think anything of it if she was just a medic assigned here--like, Allen is assigned here, even though he’s in the army.  But she appears to be a Stormtrooper.  Which should be... impossible, based on what I know of the rules of enlistment.”

“Well you have files, records and such right?  I mean, it was an official personnel swap or whatever right?  

“Yeah, Leon has them.  I could always see if there’s anything about it in there, but I was planning to just ask her myself.”  Gavin looks unsure of himself for a moment.  “You don’t think a question like that would be, uh... rude or anything do you?”

“Rude or not, she’s probably used to it by now.  I suppose if you approach the subject properly it wouldn’t bother her.  I dunno, that’s just how I see it.  I could be wrong, I talk to droids most of the time.”  

“Hm.  Well, whatever.  It’s probably not a very big deal, whatever the explanation.  Well, if you’re ready to check yourself out, my offer of a ride still stands.”

“Sure, and thanks.  Let me get my stuff together.”  She gathers up her music player.  “Where should I meet you?”

“You can just meet me in the vehicle bay.  Unless you need a hand with your stuff... though I doubt you were able to bring much with you, given the circumstances.”

A short while later Elina arrives in the vehicle bay to find Gavin waiting.  She has a small bag presumably stuffed with whatever she thought she might need at the doctor’s office on the day she took ill.  

“I’m ready to go.”  She says, grinning.  “It will be good to finally get back, even if it’s only been a few days, I think that’s enough excitement and danger for a good long while.”

“Heh.  I’m actually kinda getting used to the whole ‘excitement and danger’ thing.  Trouble seems to follow us everywhere.  But not, hopefully, to the junkyard.”  Gavin tosses some things into the back of the Razorback, and then climbs into the driver side.

After a thankfully uneventful ride, the two arrive at the junkyard.

“All right then.  I’ve got a bit of a shopping list, but I’m sure you want to get settled in.  Maybe your claptrap can help, if it’s around.”

“Just give me sometime to make sure the place isn’t destroyed, and then I should be able to help.”  Elina hops out of the Razorback and looks around for a bit.  She raises her chronometer up to her face and presses a button on it.  “Claptrap, I’m back, meet me out front.”  She says into the device.

        

A few moments later the quirky wheeled droid appears.  His movements are a little erratic however.  “There’s no need for alarm!  *hic* Claptrap is here!”  Clatptrap’s attempt at a grand entrance is interrupted shortly there after as his wheels switch to reverse suddenly and cause the top heavy droid to hit the ground face first.  “I’m okay! I meant to do that.”  Claptrap manages to right himself before continuing.  “Welcome back Elina,  there’s a 78.2% chance that I ‘juiced up’  a bit recently.  Then there’s a 40% chance I managed to consume alcohol.  Even though that’s highly improbable.  But don’t worry, there’s only a 8.46789% chance that I’ve broken anything.”

Elina buries her face in her palm.  “Guess the first thing I need to do is fix the little guy.  So I guess Gavin...just... browse for a bit?”

 Would you like a hand?  My tools are in the back of the Razorback.  Does he usually get like this?”

“It isn’t the first time, but it’s not common either.  Won’t need tools, just need to bleed off the extra energy, and then check for damage.  So yeah, just take a look around, once I’ve got him hooked up I can help you out.”  She grabs one of Claptrap’s hands, “Come on now, let’s get you straightened out.  I bet you can’t even dance in your state.”    The two head off in the direction of the office and Elina’s house.

Gavin chuckles as they leave, and starts looking for the parts he needs to complete his droid:  an Encrypted Comlink, Blastech DY-225, 360 Degree Sensors, Infrared Sensors, Motion Sensors, Telescopic Sensors, Vocabulator, Rust Inhibitor, and Weapon Mount--prioritizing his search in that order.

Gavin’s search produces a few of the items that he is looking for while digging through a pile of scrapped droids.  He is able to find everything except the blaster and comlink.    

Gavin drags everything he wants into a pile, and heads off to find Elina.

Gavin finds Elina in the office.  Claptrap is hooked up to a charging station it looks like.  

Elina greets Gavin, “Finding what you are looking for?”

“Yeah, actually.  I did a lot better than I expected.  I think I found pretty much everything I needed.  All but, uh...”  Gavin pulls out his list.  “All but an encrypted comlink and a Blastech DY-225... neither of which I was really expecting to just find lying around.”

“Well....can’t help you on the comlink.  I don’t know blasters all that well, most of what I have is spare parts anyway, I certainly don’t have any intact blasters, don’t want to bother with the licenses for that.  I might have enough parts to build them, but I don’t know about parts to build a specific model.”

Gavin nods.  “That’s what I figured.  Well, I’ve got quite a big pile of stuff out there... ring me up?”

“Sure, one moment.”  She goes through the pile of droid parts that Gain collected.  “Let’s see... that should total up to 168 credits.”

   

Gavin nods as he forks over the credits.  “Seems pretty reasonable.  I just hope I actually have the skills to cobble all this stuff into a functioning droid.”

“None of those parts are too complicated.  You’ll be fine.  Just fix them up, and then make sure the drivers work.”

“Will do.  I guess I know who I can come to if I run into any trouble.  I should probably be getting back.  Leon... looked like he had something on his mind when we ran into him in the vehicle bay.  Probably best not to let that fester any longer than is necessary...  I guess I’ll see you around.”

“Ah, well take care.” She smiles.  “You know where to find me.”

On his way back to the base, Gavin decides to stop by Burt’s to pick up the last of the supplies he needs for the droid.

“Hey Burt,” he says as he enters.  “Got any leads on that gun I asked you about?”

“Hey there.  Actually...there is some news.  A good friend of mine managed to track down a Star Anvil, or rather, evidence of one.  There was a high profile hit on Nar Shaddaa, and sources believe that a Star Anvil was used for it.  If law enforcement there actually does its job, they’ll acquire the weapon, and who knows what would happen to it then.  However, if the culprit were to be tracked down by someone else, then it wouldn’t be an issue.  There’s a rather small bounty on this guy’s head, not sure why considering how much trouble he is in.  He’s known on the streets as Hashim.  The bounty listing should have as much info as anyone at this point.  Since the reward is low, I don’t expect many high profile hunters to be after this guy, so he might be easy pickings.  If I come up with anything else, I’ll let you know.”

“Nar Shaddaa, eh?  Yeesh.  Place makes Deet-Roit seem like a nice place to vacation...  Thanks for the tip, I’ll look up the bounty on the holonet.  That’s actually not why I dropped by, though.  I’m looking for the last couple parts I need for a droid I’m building.  Found most of what I needed at the junkyard, but I’m still looking for a droid-compatible encrypted comlink and a Blastech DY-225.  Can you help me out?

“DY-225 is not a problem.  What level of encryption were you wanting for the comlink?”

“Military level.”

“All right.... and for a droid?  You probably won’t need a fancy model then.  Or is it a droid designed for stealth?  If not then I’ll recommend a pretty standard military model.  It’s an older model that I have on hand, but it should do the trick.  Let’s say, 3,000 for the blaster and the comlink, how does that sound?”

“And what would you recommend if it were designed for stealth?”

“Something with some sound-dampening built in.  Practically doubles the price tag though.”

“Sound dampening?  How do you mean?”

“Comlink that emits a sound dampening field, mostly white noise.  Anyone outside of a certain radius has difficulty hearing or understanding conversations held over the comlink.”

“Hmm.  Now, this isn’t something I’ve ever tried myself... but it seems like you should be able to bypass that problem entirely with a droid.  Wouldn’t it be possible to wire it so that any inputs and outputs go directly to  and from the droid’s processor?  In other words... rather than a transmission being picked up by the comlink, reproduced with the speaker, and then picked up by the droid’s auditory sensors... just bypass the speaker and sensors entirely, and pipe the message straight to the droid’s brain.”

“You could do that easily enough, it’s not common, but comlinks can handle the data.  You probably just need to add some sort of vocabulator to your end to make it work, custom job.”

“Yeah, I suppose that would be necessary in order to synthesize speech...  But come to think of it, just transmitting binary should be fairly simple.  I actually taught myself how to understand binary a while back, so I’d be able to translate it without needing a vocabulator on the other end.

“Well... it’s something I can keep in mind... what would be the total for the gun and the stealth comlink?”

“Would come out to 4500 credits.”

Gavin breathes in sharply through clenched teeth.  “Just out of my price range, for the moment.  Just give me the military one for now.  I’ll find a way to make it work.  3,000 for that and the gun, right?” Gavin asks, as he hands over his credit chip.

“Pleasure doing business with you.  You fellas take care of yourselves, galaxy is getting pretty dangerous these days.”  

“Man, tell me about it.  Take it easy, Burt.”

Gavin returns to the base, and packs up everything he’ll need to build RU5-L.  “If we’re going to be spending a few weeks training in that other dimension... might have some downtime to work on him.  Really would like to have him finished before we’re deployed to Dressel.”  Once finished, Gavin sits down at his terminal, and pulls up the info on the bounty that Burt told him about.

It’s a straightforward bounty listing.  Hashim is quite the small fry, only 10,000 cr, dead or alive.  He was last encountered on Nar Shaddaa, looking for work.  Hashim was blacklisted by the Hutt clans however, so work is difficult to find.  The bounty was posted by a rather young hutt, Sorba Besadii.  

Gavin downloads the details to his datapad.  Before getting up, he dashes off a quick email to his folks.

“Hey Mom, hey Pops.

How are things on Deet-Roit?  Things are looking up here.  I finally got over that nasty cold I mentioned on my last email.  And we even got a new medic--one that’s not totally insane.  So you won’t have to worry about my health so much.

Haven’t seen TOO much action here, but that will probably change soon.  We’re about to leave on a top-secret mission.  I can’t divulge any details, but believe me when I say, I think I’m finally going to be in a position to make a difference soon...

Once that’s wrapped up, we’re getting deployed to Dressel.  I know, I know... but don’t worry too much, Mom.  Trust me when I say we’ve faced a lot worse than whatever that planet will have to throw at us.  I’m sure we’ll be fine, and the important thing is we’ll be getting off this rock, and actually helping in the war effort.

Well, gotta go.  Have a few loose ends to tie up before we leave.  Take care.

Love,

Gavin

Gavin looks over his workbench one more time to make sure he didn’t forget to pack anything, grabs his datapad, and heads off to find Monk.

Monk was not too difficult to find because he rarely wanders off anywhere.  A quick peek in the vehicle bay on the way to Allen’s lab shows Monk running what looks to be some sort of training program.  It consists of a holographic sparring partner which engages in combat, attacking and defending at random.

“Oi, Monk.  Got a minute?”

Monk stops, mid-motion and shuts down the holographic projector with a simple voice command.  He then turns to face Gavin.  “Of course.  I was just getting bored.  Tell me you have something interesting for me.”  

“To be honest, I don’t really have any idea what you’d consider interesting.  So I’ll let you be the judge.”  Gavin pulls out his datapad, pulls up the bounty, and hands it to Monk.  “I got a tip from Burt that this fugitive has the gun I’m looking for--a StarAnvil heavy blaster rifle.  We’ll be shipping out soon to Dressel, and it sure would be good to have that extra firepower when we get there... but it’s not looking like I’m going to have enough time to go fetch it myself.  Do you think you would be capable of tracking down this fugitive, taking his gun for me, and collecting the bounty?”

“Hmm...I have not smashed some heads in a while, but I wonder if Master Devol will give me leave to do so.  You should inquire...otherwise I’d have to break my programming, which would be problematic.”

“I’ll do that.  I take it you’d find this assignment ‘interesting’?”

“Why not?  A bounty, the criminal underworld...I could have a lot of fun, and probably without interference from law enforcement of any kind.  Maybe some of these people will be somewhat challenging?  I imagine though, for a weapon like that, there is a definite chance I might get turned to scrap, but no matter, Master does have a backup handy.”

“Hmm.  And that doesn’t bother you?  Just because a copy of your mind exists, you wouldn’t mind dying?”

“Well...finding a body as well engineered as this one might be problematic....but there are plenty of ways to make it in the galaxy.  Even the smallest of droids can still kill the largest of creatures, after all.  But no, I don’t have this the same attachment to my uptime or body as you organics have to your flesh.”

“But it’s just a copy.  It’s not really you, is it?  You... the original you... wouldn’t exist anymore.  I mean... let’s say we take a copy of your brain, and install it into a new body that’s just as good as your current one.  Say we switched it on right now, while you’re still functioning.  Just because a copy of your brain existed in another body, would you happily, say... walk into the nearest trash compactor?”

“Not sure about doing so happily, but that is only because of potential data loss from say, a botched up transfer.  So that does not mean I would voluntarily have myself scrapped and enjoy it.  However, following the commands I am given is of extremely high importance, and since getting destroyed would likely mean failing to fulfill a command, there is a balance between self-preservation and self-destruction.”

“That’s pretty heavy stuff, Monk.  I have to say, even if there was a perfect copy of myself waiting to replace me, I’d still fight tooth and nail to stay alive.  To me, a copy is just that--a duplicate, or an... imitation.  It wouldn’t be the real me.  I mean, I’m sure the copy would be happy to be alive... and maybe to everyone else, I’d still be ‘alive,’ but I’d know it wasn’t really me... Just someone who looks and acts like me, you know?  Which would be small comfort while I’m being torn apart by a Rancor... or what have you.”

“You probably only feel that way because your brain cannot be copied completely.  You can say all you want about how a copy is just a copy...but for me the copy has no differences so copy is only a technical programming term.  Every line of code that makes me, and every piece of stored experience is there waiting for me.  Only if something gets corrupted would there be a difference between one copy of my programming to the next.  If that happens I just overwrite those sections with new data.  It is all data, whether it is old or new.  I have no particular attachment to any memory, perhaps because I can analyze them at will.”

“Yes, but it... you... I wouldn’t...Ugh!”  Gavin throws his hands up.  “I guess it’s pointless to debate... we obviously don’t share the same frame of reference.  For the moment, I’ll just take you at your word that you’re not too worried about the mission, and see what Allen has to say about it.”

“Works for me, holo training is boring.”

Gavin leaves Monk to his own devices, and goes to find Allen.

Unfortunately, after checking all the usual places, he is still unable to locate the army specialist, and concludes he must be off-base.

“Oh, well.  I’m bound to see him again before we leave.  It can wait, I guess.”

MEANWHILE...

Sitting in the common area Leon, continues to review the operational information provided by Admiral Keyes as well as the dossier on Kaimura. It is interesting that she is a female trooper. Her medical skills must be very important to the corps to allow a female into its ranks, and the corps really doesn’t want to show that she is one. Leaving her gender blank on this dossier. Well, there are more important matters than that. Specially requested to be part of Lord Vader’s strike team. That is impressive. I wonder why they chose a squad that they decided to banish from the fleet to a remote planet to be part of that squad. Hm...Gavin...Damnit. I’m going to have to do something about him soon. But what. I almost shot my own subordinate the last time we spoke. I understand giving leeway to my second for speaking with me, but he was over the line. Practically called me a traitor to my face. Agh...I need more information on this operation. Also...yes that would be an excellent idea...I wonder if Allen can do that...

Leon looks around the room then gets up to go find Allen. After Allen. I deal with Gavin.

The search for Allen somehow proves to be more difficult than expected...he is not in his lab.  Leon’s search instead takes him to the vehicle and storage bays.  He arrives to find Allen busy at work, and Gavin and Elina chatting outside of one of the parked Razorbacks.  

Leon pauses for a moment looking in Gavin’s direction, before continuing toward Allen. “Allen, I have an idea for a new weapon, that I want to run by you.”

Allen puts taking inventory on hold and turns to face Leon.  That short sentence of course piques Allen’s interest. “Sir, you have my attention.”

“I’ve been trying to think of a weapon that can have enough of a vantage point to see an entire battlefield, but remain out of view and range of enemy fires. I’ve considered droids but repulsor technology would get the altitude I’m wanting. I’m thinking of some kind of remote piloted ship, that can be carried with an infantry unit like ourselves. Depending on the size of it maybe even trying to incorporate some kind of weaponry as well as sensors.” Leon, pause for a moment, “Is what I’m explaining making any kind of sense?”

Allen’s shoulders seems to slump a bit at the boring yet somewhat useful application of the “weapon”  So in short you want to make a better recon drone.  I’m assuming you want something that can go higher and be invisible to various forms of detection.  I could offer you Mook here but you need something better?  ((Mook lets off a series of annoyed beeps))

“I was thinking some more along the lines that a soldier would control from the ground, that would pump data from sensors to a stormtrooper helmet and the control device. Invisibility would be nice...but not necessary I don’t think. Weapon systems onboard would be a big plus to give another long range or surprise attack option.” ((OOC: This is what Leon is trying to get at-http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Digital-Raven-Up-to-666M-to-AeroVironment-for-UAV-Upgrades-06050/))

“When do you want this by?  Not much time left before deployment so I can guarantee anything.  Got an idea in mind.  So basically you need something that can fly high with a good sensor suite, relatively stealthy and can beam battlefield data back down to us?”

“Precisely. How long do you think it would take to make something like that? It would be nice to have before Dressel.”

“Hard to say... Perhaps if I adapt something prefabricated... Well sir, permission to start on this little project then?  Someone else would have to take over inventory unfortunately.”

“Go for it. Not too worried about inventory at the moment.”

“Perfect, I’ll get right on it.”  Allen turns to leave the storage bay but then suddenly remembers something important. “Oh, and Sir,  I’ll charge everything to your account then.”

“Try not to tap out my funds. I still have to pay Burt for some weapon modifications.”

Leaving the vehicle bay, Leon stops out front of what used to be unoccupied quarters and knocks.

The intercom buzzes to life, a familiar female voice responds,  “Hello, looking for me, or have you found the wrong room?”

“It’s Leon. Rias I need you and Gavin to help me with something. If you could get him and then come to my office that would be appreciated.” Leon replies, quickly not giving much thought to whether his request sounds like an order or not, but still polite.

“Hmmmm.  Taking a different approach are we?”

“Something like that. Depends on whether or not Mr. High and mighty learns to listen.”

“I have a feeling this whole situation is going to be very instructive for both of you.  That does not mean either of you will learn anything...but hopefully there will be some resolution.”

“The last nearly ended in a unilateral decision by me, but it would have cost me. See you there.” Leon says before striking out again.

Rias pulls her hand away from the intercom.  “Oh Leon, it would have cost you more than you imagined.  It would have been too early for my tastes.”  She mumbles to herself as she heads back to her current project, a magic circle drawn out on the floor and a few notebooks full of information on the nuances of various spells.

After saying a few quick words with Rias, Leon opens the door to Nahja’s quarters. “Nahja, I need to you to come with me for a bit. There’s something I need your help with in the office.”

Back in his office, Leon sits behind his desk with feet propped waiting for Gavin. “This could get bad Nahja. Hopefully it will end well.”

Sliding his feet off the desk as Rias and Gavin enter the office Leon tosses a slender black rectangular object to Rias, before unbuttoning the snap holding his sidearm in place at his side. Drawing the weapon from its holster, he proffers it to Rias grip first. “So, I’m not tempted to shoot you this time, or stab you.”

Rias takes the weapons and smiles.  She takes a moment to look over them before putting them aside.  

Gavin raises an eyebrow.  “This time?”

“Yes. I nearly put a blaster bolt in your shoulder at least twice.” Leon replies to Gavin as he switches on the SCIF, blast doors securing the office. “Do turn over any weapons you’re carrying to Nahja. Can’t have you losing your temper and attacking me while I’m unarmed.”

“Well, that’s comforting to know.”  Gavin glances at Nahja, then to his blaster, then back to Leon.  “Is that an order, Sergeant?”

“If I need to make it one, yes. Are you scared this is some kind of trick to disarm you Corporal? If it were why would I have someone with a vested interest in your life with my weapons, and then have someone with a vested interest in my own with yours?” Leon resumes his seat, feet once again propped up on the table. “Once you relinquish that pistol and any other weapons you carry, have a seat.”

“Me?  Scared?  Just because you admitted to almost shooting me the last time we spoke, and are now asking me to surrender my weapons to a rebel mercenary?  Of course not.  That’s not a situation in which I’d feel more comfortable keeping my weapon at all.”  Gavin glances at Rias.  “There should be a charge indicator in the power pack of that gun he just handed you.  What’s it read?”

Rias starts looking over the blaster, trying to figure out exactly what or where a power pack is.  “You know I don’t know much about these, and I won’t need to use it anyway.  But I guess if you need to know, someone else should figure that out.”

Gavin sighs.  “There should be a button on the handle.  Press it, then look at the thing that pops out of the bottom.  There should be a meter on it.  Does it look full?”

Rias flips the blaster over and examines the handle.  She finds a button and presses it, causing the power pack to slide out.  On the power pack, a series of blue lines can be seen which represents a full meter.  “The light is blue...looks...full I guess.”

“Good.  Now put the gun back together.  And give it to me if it looks like Leon is about to kill me again.”  Gavin unbuckles his gun belt, and hands the whole thing, gun, holster and all to Nahja.  “Careful with that gun.  It’s got sentimental value.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t  need anybody distrusting me anymore than they already apparently do.”  Says Nahja, a bit defensively, before placing the holster and blaster in her lap.

Raising an eyebrow, “Before we continue, I’m curious as to why you would think that. I thought you were having her check to see if I was handing off an uncharged blaster. Very curious how you think I’m intending to kill you, or that you ever thought I intended to kill you before.”

“That is why I was asking her.  If you were to give us an empty blaster, and we were to give you a fully charged one, it would put us at a bit of a disadvantage.  A little paranoid, maybe, but you did just admit to almost shooting me the last time we spoke.  Shooting me twice, actually.  So you can see why I’d be a little nervous.

“Frankly, I’m a little disappointed you even feel the need to go through this charade.  I assumed we could both be trusted to settle our differences like civilized people... not with our blasters, like a couple of street thugs.”    Gavin crosses his arms, and stares at Leon.  “But it sounds like some precautions were necessary, after all.”

“I hate to ruin you’re innocent ideology, but civilized people do settle their differences with the use of force. If that were not true, the Empire would have no need of us soldiers. A soldier is nothing more than a ‘street thug’ with the backing of a government. Now, on too what’s actually important here. I was initially intending to have this as a private conversation between myself and the Admiral, but I felt I would give you the courtesy of this conversation.” Leon pauses for a brief moment, “What is your proof that Nahja is a rebel? YOu constantly call her one yet offer no proof. I would like to know your proof.”

“The Admiral?  What does Admiral Keyes have to do with this?”

“The Navy has nothing to do with this. Which is why it’s just us. Again, what is your proof?”

“Are you asking me how I know she’s a rebel?  Or if I have any evidence that will hold up in court?”

“Either or both Corporal. As far as I know you have nothing on either front.”

“Are you denying that she’s a rebel now?  Or rather--if you want to make that distinction--that she’s a mercenary hired by the rebels?”

“Corporal!” and in a calmer voice, “Answer the question. I do not have the time for you to dance around my questions.”

“All right, Sergeant.  My evidence is that she fought against us to protect the rebel scientists on Ralltiir, and that she used a false code cylinder to pose as a member of Imperial Intelligence.  Does that answer your question?”

“From what I remember of the incident on Ralltiir, the scientists were handed over to the Empire, perhaps that was coincidence that the shuttle pilot ‘defected’ to the Empire. Perhaps not. As for the code cylinder, prove it was fake. The codes were legitimate.” Leon opens the drawer to his desk and removes a code cylinder and tosses it to Gavin. “Nothing you have said has anything to back it up. Only your opinions. This is what I know. We as a unit have done off the book missions with no legal orders. We are keeping extra-dimensional beings under our protection that could be of great interest to the Emperor. Especially, considering the Empire’s distaste for nonhumans. Now, we may have very different viewpoints on what is loyalty to the Empire and the Emperor himself. I may even overlook and omit certain events and things from my reports, but what I always do is accomplish the goal set forth by Emperor Palpatine. I rarely believe in taking prisoners, I will kill unarmed people to make a point, and I will use whoever however I can to accomplish the task.” Leon pauses long enough to take a breath before continuing. “This unit cannot have its leaders at each others throats. That will destroy this unit. We must come to some kind of understanding before we go on this upcoming mission.”

“Actually, I agree.  Our mission to the other dimension... our deployment... our evaluation as Storm Commandos...  we have too much at stake now to throw everything away over this.  By rights, I should turn both of you in, and let the authorities decide whether there’s any evidence, or just ‘opinions.’ But all that would accomplish is that the Empire would lose one accomplished soldier and one new recruit.  And that’s best case scenario, considering me and the rest of the unit could be held accountable for complicity.  So all in all, I’m willing to overlook this, and try to find a solution that doesn’t end with any of us dead or in jail.”

Deactivating the security system, “Complicity? Not really the word I would use. We all have our ‘secrets’ in this unit. I saw this discussion being...much more...difficult. Let’s get this mission underway then. No point continuing to belabour a solved problem.”

“Now, hold on.  By that same token, I don’t want this secret blowing up in our faces, either.  I want to know more about your plan to defuse this situation.  You say that you two are planning to have her join the empire?”

“My plan? That plan is currently in the works. Nothing solid. However, anyone that gets too close, will be dealt with swiftly and quickly. I’m sure that doesn’t satisfy you, but it’s all I can give you at this point.”

Gavin frowns.  “You’re right, that doesn’t.  We need to take care of this quickly and effectively.  There are too many eyes on us right now to leave this unresolved.  I’m willing to work with you on this, but we need a plan of action.  And bumping off anyone that comes nosing around is just going to draw more attention, you know.”

Nahja, who has been patiently listening to this debate over her fate, speaks up.  “Yes, please, no making people disappear.  I’m....I’m fine with shouldering some of the burden of making this work, even if people find things out.  There are plenty of ways to avoid trouble and follow the letter of the law without people dying.”

Sighing and rubbing his forehead, “As you wish, Nahja. You are obviously not on any watch list that I have seen and you aren’t described in any report I have submitted to command. So, any story will work. And the best story is based on truth. We meet on Coruscant and since then have been keeping in contact. She came to visit, and while here decided to help with some personal side business of the unit. That should be significant.”

“I’m not sure how any of that is relevant.  I doubt anyone is going to be interested in her life story, and even if they are, it would probably be best to downplay you relationship thus far.  Nahja, where do you call home?  Zeltros?”

“Home...is a pretty foreign concept to me.  Been more places than I can recall, and I was born on a starship.  My family didn’t live on Zeltros either, they moved around in the Core depending on where the work was.  Is that somehow more relevant?”

“I was just thinking, it might be the least suspicious if you were to leave here, and join at the recruiting station nearest to where you live.  Although...” Gavin struggles to recall just how subtle Leon has managed to keep things thus far.  “Have you been seen together in public very much?  Especially by any imperial personnel?”

Nahja shakes her head.  “No, not really.  Mostly been together dealing with all the crazy that the universe has to offer.  Plus spending time around here.  I doubt even many residents of Ro’ton have seen us together.”

“As you can see, things are very well under control, Gavin. You must have missed the subtleness of my idea. Thinking critically if she is known sending her to a recruiting station will only end badly, for everyone involved. Lovers being together whenever possible is not suspicious. Now, do you see? It’s simple and tactical.”

“No, I don’t see.  WHAT is simple and tactical?  What is the actual plan?  You still haven’t elaborated.”

“Let’s see if I can simplify this some more then. Operating under your assumption that she is somehow affiliated with rebel forces, sending her to a recruiting station would only lead to endanger her and this unit. Thus having her here is the best option, and the rationale for her being here is solid and founded in truth. Do you now follow?”

Frustration with this whole situation begins bubbling to the surface.  “First of all, how about you stop acting like a condescending little kath-mutt.  Then, maybe you can put my ‘assumptions’ to rest, now that you know I’m not turning you in, and actually TELL me whether or not she IS affiliated with the rebel forces.  Or are you just operating under ‘assumptions’ as well?”

Not letting Gavin’s outrage get under his skin Leon coolly replies, “I have no doubts in my mind that she is not with them. And as for ‘acting like a condescending little kath-mutt’ I don’t know what that means, but I damn well don’t like the connotation. The one with doubts is you.”

“I never imagined that this is the circumstance where I would have men “fighting over me”.  This doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere.  Gavin...you said you decided not to turn me in, but I’m also fairly certain that If I say anything other than that I am a rebel spy, you won’t believe me.  Well then, the safest solution for all of you is that if you don’t want to turn me in, then this conversation never happened.  There were never any suspicions...nothing seemed unusual, and if it get’s investigated and they decide that I’m a problem then you’ll have to step out of the way and let me take the fall or else they might go after you too.  Then... if Leon does try to help out, well then he could be setting himself up for the same problem.  Why I see it, if you can play your cards right, you’ll be safe.  If I were really a spy, I’m fairly certain you could find a way to prove it.  You weren’t able to conclusively prove it, it started bothering you, and you decided instead to take it up with Leon.  I don’t really think the headbutting has stopped ever since.  So perhaps the best plan really is for everyone to watch their own backs.  At any rate, if I were I spy, I’m pretty sure I would avoid a situation like this.  Whether you believe me or not, I’m not a rebel, and I’m not a spy.  I’m only here because of Leon.  I just wish this would have brought up much earlier, because I don’t intend to take back my commitment of sticking around if I have the power to do so.”

“Nahja, if I still thought you were a spy, I would have turned you in.  I couldn’t turn a blind eye to something like that, just for my own convenience.  My only concern now is that keeping you around doesn’t come back to haunt us.”

“I’d say just make whatever contingency plan you feel is appropriate.  Besides, considering we have two “mysterious” ladies in the room, I’m sure it would all get rather complicated.  Though I have this funny feeling that the two of us could probably do more good in preventing a potential disaster then either you or Leon.  Call it a woman’s intuition, if you will.”

A tiny little grin manifests on Rias’ face.  

“At least you see where I was trying to take my argument, Nahja. Words have never been my strong suit,” Leon say shaking his head a bit. “And I am much more a force of destruction than anything else.”

Gavin frowns.  “Fine.  As long as nobody knows that you engaged us on Raltiir.  That really is the only thing that would puncture my ‘plausible deniability’ defense.  But I suppose nothing can be done about that...”