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Old 01-15-2006, 06:47 PM   #30
JasraLantill
No One Liners
 
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Scotland, UK
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Current Game: SWOTR
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Chapter 6--part 6

Berland was working on his report for Prefect Keel when Ithra returned to the dormitory. From the corner of his eye he watched her sit down heavily on the edge of her bed and let out a sigh, though whether it was one of relief or exhaustion he couldn’t tell.

“So, I see you survived your encounter with the Cathar,” he said without even looking up from his datapad. “Tell me…what did you talk about?”

“Well,” said Ithra, as she took the container of nuts from under her cloak and set it on her lap. “Basically she urged me to be the best Senator I could be by weighing my choices against the considerations of those with different points of view.”

“Typical Jedi drivel,” Berland huffed as he continued to enter data. “It’s obvious she knows nothing of politics.”

“I told her I needed more time to think about what she said.”

Berland nodded approvingly while he continued to work. “A wise move.”

“She also mentioned that she was once a slave,” Ithra continued. “And the reason why she wanted to become a Jedi was because she so admired the Jedi who freed her.”

“Yes, the Jedi often meddle in affairs that are none of their concern,” Berland commented absently.

“And, she said that holding to the Jedi path is difficult for her being that she has, as she put it, ‘hot Cathar blood.’”

“Indeed.”

A moment of silence passed—Berland busy entering data, Ithra watching him.

“She fell to the Dark Side once,” Ithra blurted.

Berland suddenly paused.

“She said it was Rade who showed her the path of the true Jedi,” Ithra continued. “She seems to hold him in very high regard.”

“Fell to the Dark Side?” The corner of Berland’s mouth slowly rose upwards into a twisted grin as he looked up. “Interesting,” he mused. “Ithra, you’ve done well to gather such worthwhile information. I shall mention this in my report.”

“Thank you.”

While Berland quietly resumed his work, Ithra opened the container of Zorgang nuts. There were so many colours to choose from, she wasn’t sure which one to try first. The hard nuts rattled and grated along the sides of the box.

It wasn’t long before the irritating sounds caused Berland to glance up and glare at her. “Ithra, would you please be quiet,” he said, frowning. “I am trying to work here.”

Ithra smiled apologetically and held up a bright orange nut. “Zorgang nuts. Jolee Bindo gave them to me,” she said. She popped the nut into her mouth, then nodded with satisfaction. “He was right. They are quite tasty.”

Berland stared at her dumbfounded. “You conversed with another outlander? On your own accord?”

Ithra nodded while she daintily selected another nut, this time a bright blue one. “And, I also encountered the T’wilek girl, and the Mandalorian, and the Wookiee.”

Berland nearly dropped his datapad. “Why, Ithra,” he said, astonished. “I’m impressed.”

“The Jedi Juhani sent me to Jolee Bindo when I asked her about alternatives to the food dispensers." She paused to eat another nut. "But I only met the others because I took a wrong turn in the corridor on the way back here. I found the Mandalorian to be true to rumour. Ill-mannered and vulgar.”

Berland donned an amused smile as he set down his datapad. “And what did you discover about our fellow travellers?”

Ithra took a moment to consider, and to eat another nut. “Well, the old man, Jolee Bindo, is easily distracted, and I found his thoughts often hard to follow. He talked mainly about Wookiees. He said he spent years in a place he called… the Shadowlands?”

“A place on the Wookiee’s homeworld,” Berland explained. “Go on.”

“When I encountered him, he was busy rearranging the medical supplies to hide containers like this one.” She raised the container of nuts. “I’ve heard that smugglers often do such things. I think he could have been one once.”

“Maybe he still is,” Berland concluded.

“At any rate, he seemed most eager to help me.”

“Perhaps a little too eager?” Berland hinted.

“Perhaps,” Ithra agreed. “But I believe his benevolence was genuine.”

Berland held up a mindful finger. “Beware of generosity without familiarity,” he cautioned. “He could be just trying to win you over so that he may ply you with questions later on.”

Ithra gave an obedient nod. “I asked him about the T’wilek girl. He said she was a…a ‘slicer?’ I’m still not sure exactly what that is, but it sounds criminal.”

“Indeed. Go on.”

“Then I asked about the Wookiee, what he did on board the ship. Jolee said Zalbaar, that’s the beast’s name,” she added condescendingly, “was sort of the security officer on board—skilled with all sorts of weapons as well as in demolitions. Oh, and the Wookiee has a life debt to Rade,” she added. “Some sort of honour debt that he will serve until….”

“Yes, I know what a life debt is,” Berland interrupted. “Excellent work, Ithra,” he praised her. “Anything else?”

“I witnessed the T’wilek, Mission she’s called, and the Mandalorian, Canderous, playing a wagering game called Pazaak. She invited me to join them.” Berland’s eyes widened. “The game seemed easy to play—the person that has the highest total not exceeding twenty…”

“Please tell me that you did not accept her invitation to play,” he pleaded.

“Certainly not!” she said defensively, although her eyes belied the fact that she had wanted to. “I politely declined.”

“Good. Never play a game until you know all of the rules. Especially if the game involves a wager.”

“They weren’t wagering credits. They were playing for nuts.”

Berland rolled his eyes. “Wagering is wagering. Do not be fooled by such poor camouflage.” He sighed. “Did you learn *anything* useful from observing them?”

Ithra considered for a moment. “Despite his overconfident attitude, the Mandalorian is not a good Pazaak player.”

“Well, I suppose that might be useful,” Berland said with some disappointment. “Still, you did well. The information you gained could be advantageous later on. Now, do you understand why I was upset with you earlier at having a droid assigned to us instead of a sentient being? Sentients can be plied, influenced, persuaded to do things by using their weaknesses against them,” Berland explained. “Droids cannot.”

Just then, the privacy chime on the door activated.

“Enter,” Berland said authoritatively.

The door whooshed open, and HK-47 stood at the threshold. Berland’s mouth dropped at the sight of the familiar rusty red droid.

“Greeting: I am HK-47, a fully functional protocol droid, temporarily assigned to insure any of your petty and incidental meatbag needs are met with minimal disturbance to the crew.”

Ithra raised an eyebrow. “Meatbag?” She gave Berland a strange look.

“Retraction: Oh, did I say that out loud?” said HK-47. “I apologise. It has been a long time since I have been assigned to serve a meatbag in this capacity.”

“Berland, this droid is malfunctioning,” said Ithra as she moved closer to investigate it.

“Statement: Keeper Ithra, I assure you I am functioning perfectly within my established parameters.”

“Which are?” Ithra asked.

“Answer: Why, to facilitate communications and terminate hostilities. However, my master has restricted the use of some of my more… unique abilities.”

“Ithra,” Berland asked, while his narrowed eyes were focused on the droid, “do you recall my earlier comments about droids and influence?”

“Yes.”

“Well, they don't apply to this one.” Berland eyed the droid over. “Well, well, HK-47 is it? I seem to recall a very capable droid of the same designation and likeness when I served Lord Revan.”

“Proud Answer: Why, yes! In fact, I am the very same droid that selected you, Berland, as my Master’s personal meatbag assistant. Sadly, my master had transferred you before I was able to terminate your employment myself.”

“Berland…?” Ithra took a step backwards.

“And is that why you are here?” Berland asked warily. “To ‘terminate’ me?”

“Negatory: I have been specifically instructed to ignore my previous protocols and ensure the safety of the meatbags now under my care.”

“And Rade Chano has assigned you to care for us?” Ithra asked, more of a statement than a question.

“Answer: Yes. As degrading as the task is, I have been instructed to serve you and your meatbag mentor while you are aboard the Ebon Hawk.”

“Degrading?” Berland suddenly brightened. “HK-47, with your exceptional skills and qualifications it must be very frustrating for you to be treated as a common utility droid. It’s a shame that your master holds such little regard for you now that he’s been… redeemed.”

“Disclosure: I am programmed to obey my master. However, I do find it somewhat disconcerting that my master has developed such an irritating fondness and concern for meatbags and consistently refuses to utilise the full range of my more ‘unique’ skills.”

“Unique skills?” Ithra asked Berland.

“He’s an assassin droid,” Berland said.

Ithra gasped in horror. “What?! But that’s illega…”

Berland clamped a quick but gentle hand over Ithra’s mouth. “Shh.”

“Statement: Possession of an assassin droid is indeed illegal. Clarification: I am a fully capable translator and cultural analyst skilled in facilitating communication and terminating hostilities.”

“Which incidentally requires it to have knowledge of personal combat skills,” Berland said to Ithra as he uncovered her mouth, “for example, during specific situations that may require more aggressive negotiations.”

“Commentary: I am quite surprised, Berland, that your meatbag mind is able to appreciate the nuances of my programming.”

“It’s a shame, really, that a Jedi has no need for your sophisticated talents,” said Berland. “If you were my droid, I’m sure I could manage to find tasks more suited for your superior qualifications.”

“Conjecture: I do not believe my master would sell me to a meatbag such as yourself.”

“No, I don’t suppose he would.” Berland sighed. “Never mind. It’s probably the Jedi’s intention to allow your ‘special’ protocols to be corrupted by disuse over time. Pity really, but,” he shrugged, “what can a droid do?”

“Query: Are you suggesting that my master desires my programming to be altered?!”

“I am not suggesting anything,” said Berland. He gave Ithra a quick look, and then grinned. “I’m merely making an observation. Tell me, has Rade Chano ever asked you to eliminate a target?”

“Answer: No, he has never given me such an order.”

“Ever asked you to covertly sabotage someone’s ship?”

“Answer: No, he has not.”

“Hmm, well, I suppose he wouldn’t do those things, being a Jedi,” Berland said contemplatively. “What about asking you to incapacitate a target so that he may capture them alive?”

“Answer: No.”

“How about allowing you to interrogate a captive yourself?”

There was a pause. “Answer: Sadly, no.”

“Ach, to see such valuable skills wasted.” Berland shook his head and tutted. “Very sad indeed. Still, I suppose such things can’t be helped, being as Rade’s *your* master and you must obey *him*.”

HK-47 went unusually silent.

“Please, thank your master for placing you at our disposal,” Berland said. “And if we require any mundane or petty tasks for you to do, we will summon you on the comlink. Until then, you may remove yourself to the cargo bay.”

“Statement: As you wish.” HK-47 turned and left, and Berland closed the door.

“Berland,” Ithra asked, “is it wise to attempt to plant a seed of dissention in an assassin droid?”

Berland grinned secretively. “We shall see. Now, then….” He rubbed his hands together. “I have a report to finish.”


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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Last edited by JasraLantill; 01-17-2006 at 08:11 AM.
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