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Thread: Meanwhile, on Coruscant

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    Closed Meanwhile, on Coruscant

    0 ABY

    Zizzy Starseed was shoplifting again. Dana Stryder cast the teenager a sideways look, the blue skinned Twi'leki lurking by the candy aisle wearing a canvas jacket three sizes too big for her skinny frame. Their eyes met briefly, and the thirteen year old alien girl quickly averted her gaze and walked briskly out of the store.

    Dana rubbed a hand gently over her bulging stomach, shuffling forward in line as the checker seemed to have fallen asleep while counting up change at the register. The shopping basket on her arm was beginning to drag her down toward the ground and she looked up with relief as it was lifted from her arm. "Oh, thahnk you Corrahn."

    Her husband leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Anything for the mother of my child," he teased, sorting through the contents of the basket before adding in a pack of stims.

    Dana frowned. "You sahd you were going to quit. The smoke..." She tapped her pregnant belly and added, "I know, you're going to smoke outside."

    "Yeah, yeah, I'm going to," Corran agreed, as they finally got to the checkstand. He started unloading the items onto the conveyer belt as the check-droid scanned and put them into bags. "And then I'm going to quit. I promise. Before our baby comes." He kissed her on the tip of her nose and gathered up the bags as she fumbled with a credit chit. The droid waited patiently for her to program the correct amount onto the chit, and then accepted it from her, pressing it into a slot on it's barrel-like body.

    "Have a good day, gentle beings," it said haltingly, and then turned to the next customer.

    Dana hurried out into the afternoon twilight of Coco district, the manufacturing zone where she and Corran both worked. He was waiting outside, a stim already between his lips. She felt like scolding him, but sighed instead and took one of the thin plastic bags from him. "C'mon, let's go home."

    Corran grinned at her, that grin that made her weak in the knees and her heart skip a beat, and she found herself grinning back, despite the humidity of the day and her exhaustion. They were lucky to have each other, and luckier still to have jobs in Coco. Thankfully she looked human enough, but it was a matter of record that she was a quarter Balosarian. Having to live in Invisec, or, as the Empire liked to call it, the Alien Protection Zone, would be a nightmare. Here in Coco Town different species lived together in relative harmony, as long as everyone kept their heads down and no one rocked the boat.

    The Stryders did not rock the boat. She hooked her arm through her husband's, and they walked to the turbolift that would take them down to their small apartment.

    Dinner was a quiet affair, though she could hear the Starseed's yelling at each other in Twi'leki or whatever their language was called through the wall. They were the only Twi'lek's in the area that Dana knew of, and so they stood out like a sore thumb amongst the more human-like aliens of Coco Town. It was hard not to think of the Starseed's as former sex workers, but they probably were. Dana pulled the bread pockets out of the oven and set them on the stove to cool while she finished the meat filling and Corran flipped through the channels on the holonet.

    He switched past the news, and then went back, sitting forward on the chair he called "comfortable" and she called "old and stinky."

    "Ahre uou going to help me cut the lettuce?" she asked, only to be shushed. "Whaht? You wahnt me to be quiet?" she raised her voice to be funny as she walked around the penninsula to their tiny living room, knife still in hand.

    "...Alderaan, a long supporter of the Rebel Alliance, was destroyed yesterday by the Empire's newest space station, the Death Star. Causualties are measured in the billions."

    Dana blinked, the surge of emotion coming from her twenty-five year old husband causing her to start shaking. "Whaht... whaht does it mean 'destroyed'? Your fahmily, Corrahn."

    He was shaking his head, flipping to another news channel only to find the same story running. Alderaan. Gone.

    "They ahre cahlling tomorrow, just like every week. It cahn't be true." Dana looked down with mild surprise to find the knife still in her hand, and she shakily placed it on the counter behind her. "Corrahn -"

    "Shut up!" His face was ashen and he was picking up his commlink. They couldn't afford the call, that was why they waited for his parents to call them every week. Dana bit the words back before she could say them, and sank to her knees beside his chair, using the overstuffed arm for support. "It's not connecting," he said. "It's not fucking connecting." Corran punched in the string of numbers again and waited. "Connect, dammit!" There were tears in his eyes.

    Dana just stared blankly at the holoscreen, her blood rushing through her ears like a roaring waterfall. How could an entire planet just be gone? How could the Galactic Empire justify such a thing? She clutched at her Alderaanian husband's arm as a pain grew in her lower abdomen until it was all she could think about. After a moment it receded. He was still using the commlink, calling up his cousin Dorn Tillisk who lived a block or two away. He was trying to be calm, but to her Balosar sensitivity he might as well have been screaming, his throat ragged and hoarse. She was crying, and the pain came on her again and suddenly she was kneeling in a puddle of water, her legs drenched.

    "The bahby," she said, pulling at his arm. "Corrahn! The bahby!"

    He stared at her blankly, his face shell shocked, and then he looked down and registered what she'd been saying. "I have to go Dorn. Dana's in labor." He hung up and grasped her hands. "What do I do?"

    Dana pulled him in for a hug, clutching him tightly as another contraction came over her.

    He buried his head in her neck and she could feel the wetness of his tears. "What do I do?" He sounded so lost.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Jun 9th, 2012 at 06:49:21 PM.



    oh what a tangled web I weave


  2. #2
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    0 ABY

    "She's beautiful," Corran said, kissing his wife and then the fuzzy haired head of their new daughter. Kasari. His mother's name. He swallowed the lump in his throat, and unlocked their front door. "It is so good to be home."

    "Yes," agreed Dana, walking slowly over the threshold with Kasari in her arms. "I did not think they were going to let us leave. I hahve hahd enough of the hospitahl for a lifetime, I think." She smiled at him, but the smile faltered after a moment. He just closed the door behind them after he pulled their bags inside. Dana bit her lip and turned away, taking the baby to their room where a cradle was set up.

    He felt awful. She didn't know how to deal with his loss. How could she? He didn't even know how to deal with it. He had two more days of fraternity leave from his job, and then he had to be back on the line. Things were supposed to go back to normal.

    But Corran knew that things were never going to be the same again. He scrubbed a hand through his hair and then over his face, walking to the refresher. He hadn't had a shower in a few days, what with all the excitement over the birth and the hospital stay. He hadn't wanted to leave Dana's side even for a moment. Her sensitivity to the emotions of others meant that he was probably burdening her with his raw feelings while she was also trying to deal with the hormonal surge and shift after giving birth. Corran turned on the sonic shower and stripped off his clothes, stuffing them into the clothes compartment in the wall before stepping into the shower.

    The ion bombardment tickled a little, his hair standing off from his body a bit as the shower did it's work, and he used a scrubby brush to loosen dead skin cells and leave his skin shining and smooth in the aftermath. In the mirror he poked at the bags under his eyes, and then pulled on a pair of clean shorts and his robe, walking to the bedroom.

    Dana was lying on the bed on top of the covers, sound asleep. Kasari was in her cradle, looking around with her big dark eyes. He was afraid to touch the baby or even look at her too much, not wanting her to be startled into crying suddenly, so he gave Dana a kiss on the forehead as he retrieved a shirt from the closet and then he tip-toed out of the room.

    Someone was already knocking on the door. Corran pulled the shirt on over his head and kicked the bags out of the entryway before checking the security cam. He opened the door. "Dorn."

    His thirty year old cousin walked inside. "I hope I'm not disturbing Dana and the baby. I would have come by the hospital but I couldn't ..." he trailed off. Corran popped open the refridgerator and pulled out a couple bottles of Corellian ale. He handed one to Dorn and they sat down in the living room.

    "It's okay. She's sleeping -" Corran looked over his shoulder as he heard the halting cry of his baby daughter. "Hold on a minute."

    When he came back he had Kasari cradled in his arms, a blanket bundled haphazardly around her. How women knew instinctively how to wrap a newborn up he'd never figure out. Kasari screwed up her face for another cry, and then stopped, her hand poking out of the top of the blankets and clawing at her face. "Stop that," Corran chuckled, pulling the errant limb away from her eyes and trying to tuck it back down into the blanket. "Here, it's your cousin Dorn, Kasari."

    Dorn held up his hands, "Don't hand her to me. I might drop her." He peered at the baby as she settled down and closed her eyes, content to be held by her father. "You named her after Aunt Kasari."

    "Yeah," Corran started, but his voice cracked. "It seemed. Appropriate." He took in a deep breath. "I just can't believe that the Senate would be -"

    "They aren't," said Dorn. "No, just stop. We can't talk about it here." He looked around the small apartment with a meaningful glance that Corran couldn't interpet at all. Dorn sighed. "Palpatine dissolved the Imperial Senate. Two weeks ago."

    "Two weeks?!" Corran settled down into his chair, his body moving slowly and carefully even as his mind reeled. "How did that happen and no one know?"

    "Oh, people knew. It takes forever for news to trickle down to us here though. You know that." His cousin looked around again. "We can't talk here. Your walls are too thin, Corran."

    "Oh, okay." Corran looked at his baby daughter's face, still not really understanding. He reached for the remote and turned on the holonet.

    "The Empire suffered a terrible loss today after the Rebels destroyed the enormous space station called the Death Star. Thousands of loyal naval officers and enlisted men were killed in the explosion in the Yavin system..."

    Corran felt tears coming up again, and he rubbed his face. When he closed his eyes he could see the faces of his parents and his sister. They were listed as missing among millions of others from Alderaan. There was a process he had to go through to get them listed as legally deceased, but he had tossed the datapad with the information into the bag at the hospital and was trying not to think about it. "That's a huge victory for the Rebels," he said, numbly.

    Dorn looked at him, and nodded. He reached over and turned up the volume while the newscaster went on to talk about the life and accomplishments of Grand Moff Tarkin. "A huge success," he said, his eyes glistening. He looked almost feverish. Corran felt Kasari move in his arms, and he realized he was holding her a little too tightly. It took a little effort to relax.

    "What are you talking about?" He looked over at Dorn.

    "Our victory," his cousin practically whispered. "Don't you see, you can't just live here like this anymore, Corran. We have to take a stand. All Alderaanians are going to be suspect anyway, now that the Empire has singled us out as the most seditious planet."

    "What, so I should just - no. Just no." Corran looked at Kasari and then at Dorn. "I have a family. I can't just join some cause. I just... can't."

    "What life are you and your family going to have here, on Imperial Center?" asked Dorn. "Just think about it. We can take a transport -"

    "With what credits? The hospital bill alone is going to eat our savings and more," said Corran. "Stop talking like this. I feel helpless too, but that doesn't mean we need to start making decisions like that right now."

    Dorn shook his head. "I'm meeting with an Alliance agent tonight. Getting off planet with a group of others and joining the fight." He sighed. "I understand if you don't come now. But you can't live here forever."

    Corran steeled his face, staring unseeingly at the holoscreen as the news reel kept playing. "I hate this Empire as much as you do, cousin. But I have others that I have to think about."

    "What about your parents?"

    He surged to his feet. "Don't you talk about them! Just get out. Go run around the galaxy, as if you're going to make a difference. My family - my only family," he croaked, "Is here. In this apartment."

    Dorn opened his mouth as if to say something, but then just shook his head and saw himself out.

    Corran winced as the door closed, and then he realized that Kasari was crying again. He held her close and tried to tell her it was going to be all right.

  3. #3
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    3 ABY

    "Get yoor hands offa me," Zizzy hissed, lekku twitching out an obscene exclaimation mark to her words. "I am naught yer plaything." She slapped away the offending hands, the Human snatching them back with a curse.

    "Get back to Invisec where you belong," he said with a sneer. "We don't like your kind around here."

    "Yoo liked me plenty good when yoo thaught yoo could feel me up," the sixteen year old retorted. She pressed the recall button for the turbolift again, and then again, as other people were starting to take notice of the scrum. Zizzy thought about the vibroblade tucked away behind her back on her belt and was just about to reach for it when someone grabbed her shoulder. She jerked away roughly, and then punched the offender in the gut.

    "Gah! Zizz... it's just me." Silus Ordona wheezed, practically doubled over from her fist. "Aahhh, what have you done to me?"

    The 'lift doors opened and she took his elbow and towed him inside with her, mashing the 'close doors' icon until they did. "Oh my gods, I am sorry Silus. I thaught yoo were -," she blushed purple, and tried to help him stand up straight. He waved her off weakly. "Just, sorry."

    "It's okay," he said after a moment, testing a more upright position. Silus rested his hands on his knees and took a deep breath before straightening completely. "I saw that creep, I just wanted to help you out."

    "Ha," she replied, "Yes, I think yoo did help. No one messes with the crazy Twi'leki bitch tooday, look what she did too her friend!" Zizzy patted Silus lightly on the stomach. "I am sorry. But also glad I didn't have my blade in my hand."

    He paled a bit. "Was it that bad? Fucking 'phobes. It's bad enough they're kicking your family out to the Protection Sector, but they've gotta hassle you until then."

    She nodded silently, leaning up against him in the 'lift as it whooshed them downwards. "Yay. Invisec. Yoo'll never see me again. No accidental knifings."

    Silus put an arm around her. "Well, I won't complain about you not sticking me with your vibroblade." He rested his cheek against the smooth skin of her head, enjoying the feel of the warmth in the cool of the 'lift.

    "Yoo might like it," she teased, and then added, "Sorry, I don't know why I - yoo would naught like it."

    "No," he agreed. "I could come with you."

    Zizzy was listening to his Human heart beating in his chest, and took a moment to process what he'd said. "Yoo - no. Not to Invisec. Yoo are Human. Yoo would be... no. No, yoo can't." She hugged him tight until he squeaked that he needed air, and then released him slowly. The turbolift stopped, pinging as the doors opened. They walked out together, hand in hand.

    "I could," he insisted. "The Stryders are both going."

    "Yeah, and it's bullshit," she said. "Dana is only a quarter non-Human. Their kids are even less. Naught fair. Manufacturing plant goes under, we loose jobs and then we loose homes."

    "Lose," he said absently and then urked as she jabbed him in the gut again. "Okay, okay. But don't worry. I'll figure something out."

    "Yoo betta naught," Zizzy said, but she turned outside her family's apartment and kissed him on the lips before disappearing inside to help finish packing.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Jun 1st, 2012 at 03:28:56 PM. Reason: forrrrrmatting *shakesfist*

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    3 ABY

    "Kasahri, please just... stop."

    Kasari stopped. Frozen with one foot in the air, her arms outstretched and her hands like claws, the three year old kept a manic grin on her face until she started to fall over. Overbalanced she stomped her foot down, giggling wildly until Mommy shouted at her again. Giggles were banished, and she hung her head sadly. Mommy was yelling a lot these days.

    "Dana, I'm on the comm!" Daddy pointed at the door and Mommy made a face and then herded Kasari into the living room, closing the bedroom door behind them.

    "I sowwy Mommy," said Kasari, hugging Mommy's legs tightly. Mommy stumbled and hissed between her teeth, but then her arm came down and patted Kasari on the head.

    "It's ok, Kahssie. I know you're just plahying. But Dahddy needs quiet. I need quiet." Mommy sat down on the couch, pushing a box out of the way.

    Kasari tripped over to where Shera was sitting in her swing and started making faces at her. The baby was fun. Not a lot of fun, but she would be fun soon when she got bigger. Baby Shera cracked a huge smile at the sight of her big sister, and Kasari stuck her fingers in the sides of her mouth to pull it wide and make an even funnier face than before. She stuck her tongue out and waggled it. Shera made a growly noise through her grin, and Kasari looked over her shoulder to see if Mommy was watching.

    She wasn't. Mommy had her hands over her face.

    She climbed over a box, the one she'd helped Mommy put all her toys into that morning, and flopped onto the couch next to Mommy. "You ok? All wight?" Kasari pulled on Mommy's arm, and Mommy sniffed, and surprised her by hugging her tightly. Kasari squealed with surprise and hugged Mommy back.

    Mommy kissed Kasari's head. Her hair was still wispy, but it was finally growing in thicker to the point that pig tails were an option. "Mommy's ok, Kahssie." Mommy's arms tightened around her for a little bit and then she let go. Kasari squirmed into Mommy's lap. "I'm just... a little sahd."

    "Moving is fun, Mommy," parroted Kasari, from what Mommy had told her a few days ago. "We gettin' a big house!" She pumped her little fist in the air to punctuate the sentence.

    "Apahrtment," said Mommy, and she sniffed again. "But yes, a bigger plahce. More room for Kahssie and baby sissy."

    "My own woom?" Kasari knew the answer but she liked to make Mommy tell her again.

    "You and Sherah get your own room, yes." Mommy snuggled her in her arms and kissed her noisily on the cheek. "It will be good."

    Satisfied, Kasari put up with two more seconds of hugs, and then squirmed free. "Gotta go peetee," she explained, and skipped through the apartment to the refresher. After she'd taken care of her toilet business, she washed her hands thoroughly, dropping the towel on the floor when she was done mopping up her hands and arms. Kasari peeked into the hallway and could see Mommy starting to put more things into boxes. She snuck down the hall to the bedroom and opened the door quietly.

    "I'm just glad you're alive, Dorn," Daddy was saying. "I'm glad you called. Sounds like a real nightmare."

    A nightmare? Kasari crawled from the door to the bed, staying out of sight even though Daddy wasn't looking at her. Nightmares were bad. She'd had a nightmare about a Hutt crawling out of the refresher and Mommy had had to hug her all night to make it go away.

    "No, the kids are fine. Yeah, Shera is four months old now." Kasari peeked over the edge of the bed toward Daddy, and then flopped down on the ground again when he started to look toward her. "You've been gone since - well yeah. Three years now.

    "You know how it is here. The plant closed down last week and they're moving all the non-Humans to the - yeah us too. Of course I don't like it! What am I going to do? File a complaint? Shoot the relocation officer?"

    Shooting was bad. Kasari made a finger-gun and pew pewed at the ceiling from where she was laying.

    "No, you look, I appreciate what you're doing. Living on an ice planet until the Empire comes and rousts you all, fighting the good fight for the galaxy. I'm just doing what I can for my family. No, of course I - look Dorn, I know you're fighting for my family too but -" Daddy sighed. "It's all so far away. I'm sorry. I just can't see that you're making a difference at all, other than getting a whole bunch of people killed."

    Kasari opened her eyes and squeaked to find Daddy standing at her feet, looking down at her. He frowned and pointed at the door, and she scrambled for safety, crawling as fast as she could for the hallway. Once she was outside the bedroom Daddy closed the door and she could hear him talking loudly to Cousin Dorn. Kasari meowed like a whisperkit and crawled down the hall to where Mommy was throwing things from the kitchen into a box. Everyone seemed unhappy. Everyone but Shera. Kasari meowed at her sister and the two girls giggled together.

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    3 ABY

    "Lieutenant, there's still a family unaccounted for." The Stormtrooper turned his expressionless helmet toward his superior officer, a datapad in his hand.

    "What?" Vash Madine turned around, his hands clasped behind his back, just like Grand Moff Tarkin always stood in all the holos. "Well, take care of it then. We're helping them relocate but the Empire's good graces have limits." He looked toward the transport, already loaded with the aliens and their belongings, ready to be moved from Coco Town to the Alien Protection Zone. Better for everyone that they go - the aliens get to be among their own kind, and humans don't have to put up with them anymore.

    "Certainly, sir." The Trooper motioned to his squad, switching from his helmet's speaker to internal comms, leaving Lieutenant Madine in momentary silence. He stood for a moment, surveying the transports waiting for the last group of aliens to emerge from the apartments they were emptying. Frankly, it was amazing that aliens had lasted as long as they had in Coco Town. It was high time to get them among their own people. Why, the Protection Zone had monuments to alien heroes, schools, stores - everything that they needed for day to day life.

    Yes, yes. Better for everyone.

    He wanted to check his chrono, but thought it would ruin the image he was projecting, that of an Imperial officer completely in control of his environment. They were not running late yet, and there was no need to worry about being behind schedule in the first place. Allowances were made when dealing with non-humans, time buffers in place to account for any delays.

    The 'lift doors opened, and the Stormtrooper squad emerged, two adults and two children contained within their ranks. A Trooper was pulling a suitcase while the parents held their youngsters. Madine narrowed his eyes against the fluorescent artificial light of these low levels, the sun long since set here, though it would not set for hours up where he normally called home. "Wait," he called. "Trooper, hold." The sergeant stopped, said something to his men, and walked over to where Vash was waiting. "These people appear to be Human. Are you sure you have the right family unit?"

    "It's right there, sir," the Trooper said, politely indicating the datapad resting on the duracrete barrier next to the Lieutenant. "The female is part Balosar. He is Human, but originally from Alderaan." His tone indicated what he thought about that, though Madine supposed that not all refugees from the doomed rebel planet were actually Rebels. The likelihood was no doubt greater now than previously, of course.

    His brown eyes scanned the datapad, and then he looked over the quartet still pinned in by Stormtroopers. The baby was crying, the mother trying to shush it. Thank the Emperor he wasn't going to have to travel in the transport with them. Aliens smelled funny, anyway. "Everything seems to be in order then. Thank you, Sargeant."

    "Sir." The blank helmet nodded, and the Stryder family was herded into the last transport, their suitcase stuffed into a cargo area that was already overflowing with containers.

    Madine clicked his heels together smartly, longing for the day when he didn't have to rub elbows with this sort of scum anymore. It was too bad about the last family, of course, he was Human and the children were only barely tainted, but rules were rules. They weren't fully Human, and so they were moving. The Relocation Office would have a case worker assigned to this batch of aliens, to make sure they settled in their new homes and got jobs. It was really more than they needed to do, but the Empire took care of all of it's citizens, not just the Human ones. The Lieutenant watched the transports start pulling for the skies, and finally walked to his own speeder, his driver ready to follow behind to make sure everything went according to plan.

    Everything always went according to plan. No one resisted being moved to the Protection Zone anymore. Everyone knew it was the right thing to do.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Jun 12th, 2012 at 03:24:46 PM.

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    4 ABY

    The employment line was out the door again. Dana wanted to turn around and head back home, but she'd already arranged for the girls to be watched by their neighbor for the day and they needed the money. As she settled in at the end of the line she leaned against the brick facade of the building and let the gossip flow around her.

    "Didn't you hear? The Emperor is dead."

    "No, no. No way! Iz impozzible! Zere waz none announcement."

    "Yeah, 'cause that's something they'll be telling us right away. 'Oh yes, the symbol of our Imperial might, Emperor Decrepit-ness himself was killed by the Rebels! Everyone go about your business!'"

    "Well, zey would not be zaying it like zat. But ztill, it iz true? He iz dead?"

    "Overnight. The Empire was rebuilding the Death Star - the space station that was supposed to bring peace in our time, remember?"

    "How could I forget zis? Not zo peazeful for Alderaan I am thinking. But go on."

    "Yeah, same old bullshit, right? Something so terrible that no one will dare rebel anymore, blah blah blah, but they still are rebelling, and they damn well blew the fuckin' thing - sorry, my language -"

    "It'z okay."

    "- blew it sky high. Or whatever they call it in space. Endor system, I think that's where they were constructing it."

    "What! Now I know you iz pulling my legz. What iz in ze Endor system? Zat gas giant haz nothing - well, I guez zere iz zat moon, but really. Ze Rebelz zhould come up wiz zome better propaganda zan zat!"

    The line inched forward. Dana looked up at the duracrete and neon filled sky, still dark at eight in the morning, and sighed. They'd been living in Invisec for over ten months, and Corran had only just found regular work. Rather than the specialized manufacturing work they had been doing in Coco, he was flipping burgers at a diner. Most jobs didn't offer childcare as a perk, so Dana was stuck in their tiny apartment with their girls.

    She did temp work when she could - mostly filing or other menial office jobs. There was a cleaning service that was usually hiring, but by the time the neighbor could watch the kids and she got into line the spaces were filled for the day. Dana shuffled forward a step with the others. On the other side of the galaxy people were fighting and dying to try to bring the Empire to its knees, while she would be content with a stable income and a slightly bigger apartment.

    They wouldn't even know if cousin Dorn was still alive until he managed to get a call in, which came fewer and further between. The two in front of her kept gossiping about new of the civil war, and Dana wiped at her damp eyes, looking up at the towering city and praying for peace.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Jun 30th, 2012 at 11:18:30 PM.

  7. #7
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    4 ABY

    "Get your ass in gear, Stryder." Ms. Wohler of Wohler's Catering snapped her fingers. "You're human, so I need you for this job but don't think you're irreplaceable!"

    "I'm sorry, I just got distracted. I won't let it happen again." Corran adjusted the tray on his arm and carried it over to where the extensive buffet was set up. The All Party Rally was underway above them. Chancellor Anar was speaking to the gathered dignitaries and soldiers, and soon he and the most senior officers would be down here, partaking in a celebratory dinner. Dana was at home with the girls, most likely sitting in a blanket fort and watching cartoons while eating popped grains. His wife was depressed. Life was hard, but they'd pull through this rough patch.

    His employer eyed him, and he returned to work, setting out the food carefully on the white tablecloths. Corran flicked his eyes up at the closed circuit screen where the Chancellor was pontificating. "The Empire! Will! Endure!"

    The crowd surged to its feet and roared as one, uniforms clean and pressed. Corran knocked over a vase, and reached out to catch it before the flowers spilled. There was a loud whump, and he looked up just in time to see the flames as the wall next to him disintegrated.

    He didn't even have time to flinch away from the explosion before it overtook him.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Jul 1st, 2012 at 01:23:29 AM.

  8. #8
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    4 ABY

    "Momma." Kasari waved her hand in front of Mommy's face. "Mooooom!"

    Mommy flinched, and looked down from the holo screen at the four year old. "I heard you the first time, Kahsahri. Whaht do you wahnt?"

    "Lunch!" She did a little silly dance, flailing her arms and turning in a circle. "Please Momma. We're so hungry."

    "Where's Daddy?" Shera was walking all around their house again. "When Daddy come home?"

    Mommy grabbed Kasari and Shera and pulled them into a tight hug. Kasari hugged her back just as tight, but little Shera wriggled and protested. She was little. She didn't understand that Daddy wasn't coming home. He'd ...gone somewhere. To be honest, Kasari didn't really understand what had happened. Daddy was dead.

    Dead meant gone, and never coming back. Dead was a better place. Kasari thought maybe he'd gone to Alderaan, which was a place that Grammy and Grandpa lived and it was gone too and they were all dead. Before she was born, even.

    The four year old hugged her mommy, and could feel the wet on her face. Mommy was crying again. Kasari cried at night when the lights were off when Daddy didn't read her a story and kiss her good night, but Mommy still cried every time Shera asked when Daddy was coming home. And Shera asked every day.

    "I love you, Mommy." Kasari gave her a big smooch on her wet cheek.

    "I love you too, honey." Mommy sniffed and wiped her eyes. "I'll mahke you lunch in a bit, I just hahve some more work to do." She let go of the little girl and turned back to the data entry work that she did all the time. Kasari sighed theatrically, and grabbed Shera's hand, dragging her back to their little bedroom.

    "Wanna eat food!" Shera screeched, throwing herself on the floor.

    "We hafta wait," Kasari said. "Momma's busy with work again. Let's play babies."

    "Noooooooo!" Her little sister took her favorite doll from Kasari and threw it against the wall. "I want Daaaaaddy!"

    Kasari pressed her lips into a hard, angry line, and hit her sister across the face. Shera howled, slapping at the bigger girl, and then they were wrestling on the ground. Mommy came in, screaming at them both, and two swatted bottoms later they were sitting in their time out spots while Mommy made sandwiches,

    Daddy wasn't coming home. It wasn't fair that Shera didn't understand. It wasn't fair Daddy was gone. Kasari bunched her hands up and crammed them into her eyes, her chest aching with how much she missed him.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Jul 4th, 2012 at 09:50:41 AM.

  9. #9
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    6 ABY

    "Theese betta not be far," huffed Zizzy Starseed as she followed Woro Lonarcch and Silus Ordono through a slimy vent. It was large enough to stand up in, meant to service a huge building that was now several hundred feet under the 'surface' of Coruscant.

    "Not too much further," promised Silus, turning his head to flash her a grin, his teeth white against his grungy face. She rolled her eyes and adjusted the synthetic leather straps of her top, the shift exposing a sliver of blue against the greyish green that her skin had become during their journey. Woro said nothing, the light from his headlamp bouncing against the inside of the vent as he continued walking.

    He was older than the two nineteen year olds, and he was also the only one who really knew where they were going. A cache of smuggled goods deep in the Underground that Zizzy and Silus had bought from Woro's employer. In turn, they planned to bring the items to the surface and sell them to the perpetually impoverished of Invisec, turning a neat little profit.

    Zizzy tugged the hovercart along behind her. Just as promised the path they had taken was large enough to accommodate the 'cart. She quickened her pace to keep up with the two men, and nearly bumped into Silus' back as he paused at a junction with a smaller vertical shaft. "What -"

    "Shh," he pointed upward, and then tugged her back, almost tripping over the hovercart in his haste. Ahead of them Woro looked back, his headlamp playing over them until Silus gestured wildly and he turned it off. Silus had already deactivated his light, and Zizzy fumbled with the switch for hers until Silus simply yanked it from her head and pressed it against her body. She finally found the switch and the last glimmer of light disappeared from the tunnel. In the darkness she noticed a faint glow from the vertical shaft, and then there was a subdued whump from above, and the glow brightened to an orange red as a blast of hot air rushed past them.

    She pressed her face against Silus, waiting for the ceiling to collapse on top of them. It did not. After a few tense minutes that seemed like hours Silus moved, tentatively switching on his headlamp and holding it in his hand. There was a fine mist raining down the shaft, and the air smelled of burnt paper and fried electronics. There was also something else... like a well done steak. Zizzy ran a finger along the floor of the vent, drawing a line in a new layer of whitish ash that covered the old grime.

    "Fire retardant spray," said Silus quietly, his hand outstretched in the gap. He brought it back and wiped his palm on his coveralls.

    "We need to keep moving," grunted Woro.

    "Ookay," said Zizzy, getting to her feet as Silus jumped the space where the shaft bisected the vent tunnel. She tried not to look, but it was obvious the gap was very, very deep as she made the leap herself. The wet spray from above was irritating, but better than being roasted alive in the metal vent. The hovercart followed her without incident.

    Woro led them through the vent for another five minutes, and then he gestured at a ragged opening in the metal. "It's here."

    Silus crouched down, shining his headlamp through the hole. "I don't see anything."

    The smuggler grunted. "The pallet is through there," he gestured, "An' down. It ain't a far drop." He didn't make any moves toward the opening, and Silus still hesitated.

    "Oh, stop beeing such poosies." Zizzy dropped the tether for the hovercart on Silus' thigh and walked to the edge. Her lamp played over the cavernous room that the large vent tunnel fed, and then she grabbed the side of the hole, swinging out into the vast space. Behind her she could hear Silus suck in his breath, and she laughed. There was a pile of crates and detritus that she stepped onto, long cemented by crud and shit into a mostly solid conglomerate that worked like a lopsided staircase.

    Silus peered out at her, and then smiled. "Wait, I'm coming."

    "I haave heard thaat befoore," she said, scurrying down the crates on nimble feet before he could catch up. The pallet of goods was still shrink wrapped, and sitting on the floor of the room. She looked around, her light playing over the rest of the space as she moved her head. The smugglers probably had used another entrance to bring it here. The improvised stairs would be nearly impossible to drag a laden lifter or hovercart up. Silus had the same thought when he joined her.

    "We'll have to break it down and take it up to the cart." They both looked back up at the vent. "Where'd Woro go?"

    "Fullfilled thee bargain," Zizzy said. "Musta left." Being in the Undercity gave her the creeps. She turned her head abruptly. "Didja heer that?"

    "Just a rodent." Silus cut away the wrapping, and opened one of the boxes. "Look at that, just as advertised."

    "Good theng," she grumped. "I would nut be surprised if we had boughta pallet oof empty boxes." He put his arm around her, hugging her into his side, and she snuggled close before pushing him away. "Yoo stink!" He laughed, and they got to work moving the goods into the vent and onto the hovercart.

    It was at least an hour later before they were slowly moving down the tunnel back toward Invisec. Once they reached the place where the vent system was bisected by the vertical shaft Ziggy groaned in frustration. The horizontal vent was halfway blocked by a large... desk? Silus cursed, and she said, "I told yoo I heard sometheng."

    He jumped past the obstacle to the other side. "The cart is never going to fit past this."
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Nov 7th, 2012 at 02:08:53 PM.

  10. #10
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    "Give me a meenit," said Zizzy, tugging on the charred furniture and then pulling herself up onto it.

    "Wait, that's not - never mind," sighed Silus, peering up anxiously as Zizzy pulled her lithe body up the shaft. "Just don't fall!" He looked at the hovercart and muttered, "Or listen to me, either, that might be a dangerous precedent."

    "I heard yoo," she called down, pressing her body against the sides of the vent and working her way up. She didn't even know what she was looking for. The problem was down in the tunnel, not up here. Zizzy coughed, the air thick with residue from the fire retardant spray, and then her head and shoulders popped out into an open space. She climbed out of the vent and crouched on the damp floor, shining her headlamp around.

    "It is laike an office oor sometheeng," she said.

    "What was that?"

    "I am gooing too look around for sometheeng to help moove that," she called down the shaft, and then stood up and took a few steps. The ground smushed under her boots, the light revealing uneven piles of burnt flimsies soaked through from the fire suppression system. As her light played over the walls Zizzy could see where an explosion had sent flames ripping into the room. Everything smelled like smoke, combined with the tang of chemicals.

    The next room was dripping wet, and blown nearly completely apart. Zizzy picked her way through the mess, cautious and peering upward where the explosion had ripped a chunk of duracrete from the ceiling. She could see up into the room above, a dark hole still swirling with trapped smoke.

    She coughed, covering her mouth with a scrap of fabric as she kept going. Why was she still exploring? The interior of this space didn't match the time period of the rest of this section. Even burnt, exploded, and covered with liquid she could see that it had been a modern office of some kind. Someone had renovated, worked here, and then blown it up.

    Zizzy tripped, and she caught herself before falling, looking down and behind her to see what had caught her foot. "Been blown up," she amended, shuddering and averting her eyes from the crispy corpse.

    Modern office, hidden in the Under City, kept a lot of hard copies of whatever they were working on rather than trusting it all to a computer... Zizzy picked her way to a door that was off it's track and peeked inside. The headlamp played over something metallic. A cage.

    Her skin felt very cold suddenly, and she pressed her back against the broken door, forcing it wider to allow her to lean in more. Not just one cage, but several, each with a bundle of ...something ...her eyes picked out the shapes but had a hard time processing what she was seeing. Bodies, surely, but they were so small.

    Zizzy pressed her hand to her mouth. Children.

    She backed away blindly, suddenly aware of every smudge her passage had made into the soot. "No, no. No!" She turned and hurried back to where the ventilation shaft had been blown open and dropped into it, sliding down quickly enough to rub her back and shoulders raw. Zizzy landed awkwardly on the desk, scrambling into the larger tunnel and sprawling into the grime that lined it.

    "Watch it!" said Silus, trying to grab her while her lekku slapped his hands away. "What the hell were you doing up there?"

    Zizzy shook her head violently, lekku wrapping around her neck. "We need to go."

    "Well, yeah. Duh." He turned to look at the desk, and put his hands on his hips. "Maybe if we -" Zizzy leaped up and shoved at the obstruction, pushing and wiggling it back and forth as best she could. "-Do that?" Silus joined her, and they managed to move it to the side just enough.

    "It's ah modern office oop there," Zizzy gasped, jumping across the chasm and waiting impatiently for Silus to follow with the unwieldy cart. "And some sort of detention center fulla dead keeds. Someone bloo eet all up. Means Rebels. Means troopers coming. Means -"

    "We get out of here," agreed Silus, jogging up the tunnel with the hovercart behind him. Zizzy slipped in the algae and caught her balance, hurrying after him, looking back over her shoulder just once as they made their way back to Invisec.

  11. #11
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    7 ABY

    Dana sat on the couch, exhausted from a long day fixing machinery at the factory. Shera was coloring at the table while Kasari stirred a pot on the stove, full of cheesy noodles for dinner. She closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling slowly and willing the tension to leave her muscles.

    When she opened her eyes she found her seven year old daughter pulling a blanket up over her body. "Sorry Mama," Kasari said, "I was trying not to wake you up."

    Dana reached out and pulled the skinny girl close, hugging her. "It's okahy, Kahsahri." She released her and struggled into a sitting position. "Did I miss dinner?"

    "I saved you some." The girl skipped into the kitchen, and emerged with a bowl. "Shera is brushing her teeth for bed."

    "School tomorrow," murmured Dana. "No waiht, it's a holiday. The coronahtion?"

    "Recorded," Kasari nodded, "I saved it for you." She grabbed the remote and activated the holoscreen, navigating to the coronation of their new Empress. An empress! How positively progressive for the Empire. She couldn't bring herself to feel excited about it, however. Day off from school or not, little would change in Invisec regardless of who was in charge.

    Dana scooped the overly hot noodles into her mouth (Kasari had been generous when reheating it) and watched the ceremony with her daughter who seemed to be holding their little family together. She put her arm around Kasari and patted the couch next to her as Shera emerged from the refresher in her nightgown, and the three Stryder females watched history as Miranda Tarkin accepted the responsibility of the entire Empire.

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