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  1. #41
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    While Neva was glad that the blasters didn't seem to be that much of an issue after all, she had two things on her mind that were distinctly unpleasant. One, that someone had packed boxes with who knows what inside them and they were on her ship. Two, that having members of the Republic at the aid site was going to restrict what they could do for the Imperial refugees. Having members of the guard present certainly solved the first problem, but the second...

    As soon as she heard the man approaching, she knew what he was going to say - at least to some extent. Unfortunately, Jedi meditations had not been part of Neva's training and her irritation showed plainly both on her face and in her voice. Neva addressed the arrival directly, without apology to his superior.

    "Take a breath, soldier. Someone being born a Pureblood or on an Imperial world isn't worth getting this worked up over. I have tattoos and horns on my head. Perhaps you should report that as well."

    At this, Neva turned back to the commanding officer. "The accusatory and alarmist tone of your visit is frankly offensive. You can make it up to me by escorting me to the first camp where I will be dropping cargo. Please return to your vessel and I will send you the coordinates. You may certainly confiscate anything you deem unacceptable once we are on the surface."
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #42
    Siralai Mahr



    "You are wasting time," Siralai said. It was a statement of fact - there was no anger or frustration in her voice, just straightforward explanation of the situation. "While we stand here and debate, innocent lives may be put beyond saving."

    She pulled her holopad out of the pocket of her traveling coat and flipped to a couple of documents, showing them in turn to the officer and trooper.

    "Copies of proof of residency for my husband and my daughter. They are both citizens of the Republic living legally on Coruscant. As Captain Xolte said, it is not a crime to be born Sith or Imperial. If we treat defectors as though it is, we will lose this war, because we'll be forced to fight the other side to every last man and woman standing, rather than winning as many as possible over to our side instead. I ask that you show wisdom here and stop being so reactionary."

    She put the holo aside and said, "But I suspect there is a reason for that response. You were tipped off to something, I assume? Or I should say, tipped off to planted evidence. Don't you think this is all a little too convenient?"

    The officer looked instinctively toward Neva, but his expression suggested he was starting to think it might be.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #43
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    Neva still had her arms crossed over her chest and gave the officer a raise of an eye brow before breaking her stance to gesture at the cargo chamber.

    "Allll these boxes...and the one you needed was loose? I would be considering the source of your intel very carefully. In fact, I would like to know the source of your intel. While my reputation can certainly withstand whatever they might have said about me and my vessel, they are currently keeping me from completing my service and in my business time is money."

    Time had never been part of the discussion between her and Siralai - and truthfully, Neva didn't much care how long the job took. However, most captains did and she felt that capitalizing on that would be reasonable under the circumstances. Money was something most people understood and thereby it was often a good motivator. Ultimately, Neva had zero patience for the type of behaviour exhibited by these Republic officers. Impatient, she gestured toward the crates once more.

    "Is there anything else you want to see, or may we be on our way? As stated, people are suffering. It is time we get to the surface."

  4. #44
    Siralai Mahr



    The officer did not seem inclined to answer Neva's question, but before he had the chance to decline, the trooper breathlessly spoke up, eager to justify their apparently rash actions now that their evidence was looking increasingly flimsy. "Our tip came straight from a Senate source!"

    "Really?" Siralai said, with zero surprise in her voice. "What an interesting coincidence. My sister is a senator."

    "You really expect us to believe--?" the officer began, but Siralai cut him off with a sharp look.

    "Believe as you wish. You have my full name in your documentation, I think."

    Realization dawned. "Mahr. You're... you're Senator Keela Mahr's sister?"

    "Yes," Siralai said. She seemed neither proud of that information nor embarrassed by it. It simply... was. "I assume it isn't mere chance that caused a convergence of Senate connections."

    "No... um... no ma'am. No. We'll be going now. Thank you for your cooperation. And um... thank you, Captain!"

    The officer hastily rounded up his small squad and undocked their vessel from Neva's ship.

    "Well," Siralai said to Neva. "That was odd. We can proceed to the planet's surface... but I doubt we've heard the last of this."

    Siralai hoped she was wrong, but this Senate connection was all too fishy to disregard.

  5. #45
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva was rather surprised by the very direct relationship Siralai possessed with the Senate. She didn't keep up with politics, so she hadn't made the connection between the Jedi's last name and that of one of many members of the Senate. But why would someone set up Siralai's mission for a road block like this? Unless...she didn't have her sister's blessing. This job was getting more and more interesting by the minute.

    The Zabrak grinned, back to her good humour. "Odd? That is one way of putting it. I suppose we should get on to our next surprise then."

    She gestured for Siralai to follow her up to the cockpit, picking up the other passengers along the way. "My thought is that we should go to the Imperial town first, even though we don't know what else might be in the packages in my hold. If we don't, I fear the Republic may find another way to stall our mission. What do you think?"

    Ultimately, Neva would go wherever Siralai wanted her to go, but felt the need to put her thoughts on the table.

  6. #46
    Siralai Mahr



    "I agree," Siralai said. "And the Imperial colony will likely view us with suspicion either way, so we stand to lose less there. I suspect the Imperial citizens may also be in more urgent need. While neither government has mounted an ideal response to the earthquake, the Republic does have some default vested interest in our civilian populations, whereas the Emperor and his ilk see their citizens as mere fuel for the military machine. My guess would be that we'll find all the colonists struggling, but that the Republic citizens will have more infrastructure still in place. I think we'll save more lives by visiting the Imperial colony first."

    Fortunately, they faced no further opposition on the way to the surface. The blockade ships remained in place, but made no further attempts to hinder them or follow them into the atmosphere.

    Siralai gave Neva coordinates a short distance from the Imperial colony. There was no point trying to conceal their arrival; that would only raise more suspicion. There were a few people armed with blasters guarding the town, but they clearly weren't soldiers - some may have had some militia training at some point, but most looked like they had picked up weapons by necessity in the aftermath of the quake. She noticed some shaking hands and worried expressions even as the weapons were aimed at her, and she made no move toward her lightsaber.

    Instead she made an open-handed gesture indicating nonviolent intentions, and said, "Hello. My name is Siralai Mahr. That is Captain Xolte, and over there my husband Trystan and daughter Rossi. We mean you no harm. We've come to provide aid."

    She paused, allowing Neva to add anything she might wish to. After that, Siralai would let Trystan take the lead - these Imperial citizens might have greater trust in one of their own.

  7. #47
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva had given the blockade ships the stink eye as they glided by, as if challenging them to try and stop her again. She let out the breath she was holding once they entered atmo. The Imperial colony wasn't hard to find - tendrils of smoke muddied the sky and the grey buildings contrasted with the green of the planet that seemed to be fighting back against the colonists' incursion. She found a level, open spot near the largest concentration of people - many hands made for light work, after all.

    When the group disembarked, Neva immediately regretted not putting her hood up before doing so. She forgot how unusual Zabrak were off-world - and how few of them visited small planets without a strong military presence. There were stares and some nervous ramblings, which she was somewhat used to. Of course, when Rossi exited the vessel, some of the focus shifted to her - poor girl. Though the situation was uncomfortable for the two non-humans, ultimately she hoped it didn't affect the handing out of supplies. They weren't going to be here long enough to worry about dealing with prejudice.

    The men on guard looked green and more than a trifle nervous. Still, when Siralai gave her an opening, she addressed them. "I apologize for setting down without warning. I didn't see a proper airstrip. If this isn't a good place to unload, let me know and I can shift places to suit your needs."

    Besides, in a quake zone, her ship could be sitting over a fault and she wouldn't even know it.

  8. #48
    Siralai and Trystan Mahr



    The settlers conversed amongst themselves in low, not-quite-audible tones. They made no secret of staring, and a few even pointed openly at individual newcomers as they became the source of discussion in turn. It appeared the settlers were understandably struggling to parse the seemingly conflicting bits of information they were seeing. A Jedi - Siralai might wear ordinary traveling clothes instead of robes, but there was no mistaking the bearing of one who had been raised from birth in the Jedi Temple... or the lightsaber hanging untouched from her belt. That meant a potential enemy. A Zabrak captain, seemingly cool and collected. That one could go either way. A young Sith, ostensibly expected to be on the Imperial side, but the position of Sith purebloods in the social hierarchy and their relative rarity that made them a bit of a wildcard. And then there was the last newcomer, a man who had yet to speak.

    After Siralai and Neva had finished speaking, Trystan made his own contribution to the conversation, raising eyebrows even further.

    "My name is Trystan Mahr," he said, his strong Imperial accent coloring his vowels and the odd consonant as always. "I was born on Rivekk," he added, naming what they would all recognize as a minor but solidly Imperial planet. "I assure you, we're here to help. I want to be open about the fact that I am a defector. I am a citizen of the Republic now. But earthquakes don't discriminate by citizenship. Natural disasters affect everyone on the ground equally. Because I come from the Empire like you, I understand that you are people too. Some in the Republic see you as a mindless, faceless enemy. We don't. And we want to assist."

    There was silence for a moment, then a man in the crowd spoke up. "What's with the Jedi, then?" he asked suspiciously.

    "Like she said," Trystan told him. "I'm her husband. We're together on this."

    Siralai nodded, and put her arm around their daughter's shoulder to indicate solidarity among the unexpected arrivals.

    Another pause, as old hatreds warred with the desperation of their current plight.

    Finally an elderly woman spoke up. "We'll take any help you want to give us, with our thanks," she said. No one else stepped in to agree, but no one contradicted her either.

    "Excellent," Siralai said. "We'll start unloading the supplies."

  9. #49
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva nodded and spun on her heel back toward her ship, only stopping to punch a code into the computer pad next to the open door. Immediately, the large door at the back of the ship released and lowered to the ground. She walked up the ramp first and scanned the first box, picking it up after she received the data.

    "Food rations." she called out as she turned around. It seem like none of the crowd had moved. Letting out her breath in a puff, she used a louder voice. "I don't have a hover mover, so we'll have to work together to move these boxes out. This one contains food rations. I suggest forming up a line and passing these boxes along to where you can make the best use of them."

    She was going to have to invest in a mover of her own one of these days, especially if she was going to be doing more of these aid missions. There wouldn't always be this many able bodies around to move supplies. Neva made a mental note as she placed the box down on the ramp and scanned the next one. Whoever was bravest among them could pick it up, but she had a feeling that it wouldn't be the townspeople picking up the box, but one of the Mahrs.

    The next box wouldn't scan. Great, another suspicious package. This box Neva lowered to the ground in front of her and popped the hasps. Hopefully it was something as benign as a couple of blasters.

  10. #50
    Siralai Mahr



    As predicted, it was Siralai who stepped in to begin the assembly line of moving boxes, and Trystan who received them next... but seeing that nothing bad was happening, the townspeople subsequently started getting in line to help. All went smoothly until Neva arrived at the box that wouldn't scan. A man from the colony stepped in to help - but Siralai raised a hand to stop him.

    "Hold a moment, friend," she said, her voice conveying perfect Jedi calm even as she perceived and agreed with Neva's hesitation. "Best to check the contents first."

    Inside the box was... another box. The surface of this second, inner one was smooth and metallic, giving no hints as to what was inside, but it was of a fairly standard Republic design that was used to hold anything from first-aid supplies to plant seeds to dehydrated rations. Siralai placed her hand against the surface and reached out with the Force, letting her consciousness slip past the metal casing and methodically feeling around inside. Then, abruptly, she took her lightsaber and plunged it into the left upper corner of the inner box without ever lifting the lid.

    "What...?" one of the colonists asked.

    "A small explosive device," Siralai said, showing no emotion in her tone but allowing her brow to furrow slightly to convey the seriousness of the situation. "I destroyed the detonator, so it is harmless now."

    The man who had tried to take the box looked horrified. "Someone is trying to destroy our colony!"

    Siralai shook her head. "This device wouldn't pack enough power for that," she said bluntly. "It would kill the person who opened it and a few people near them, and injure some more within a slightly larger radius. It would not obliterate your town, though. No - there would have been witnesses, and that was deliberate. Someone is trying to start a war."

    "But who? And why?" the man asked. His voice sounded angry, but Siralai sensed that the anger was a mask for fear.

    "I don't know," Siralai said. "But you have my word that I will do my best to find out."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-30-2018 at 06:25 PM.

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