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Thread: [M] Star Wars: The Bureaucrats [Hannelore & Kach]

  1. #31
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    There was something sinister in the way he said her name. Not in his tone, he was pleasant as always. In a sense, it felt as though she were late. The smell of was as close to coffee as one could get was hanging in the air. Her eyes caught a glint of light catching on the bright metallic surface of the mug. Marienna was traditionally the one who was early, who stayed late, who worked until there was no more work to be done. She would need to learn to allow this odd new sensation to merely wash over her without significant thought. On the other hand, it was exceptionally pleasant to see that he taken her note, and when it was the two of them, he used her given name. A conflict pleasantness that she had not expected.

    Corwin was an odd one. Or perhaps it was she that was truly odd. He seemed to exist to varying degrees of intensity. There was the Corwin that was hyper focused, the one who could not bring himself to look away from his screens for longer than moment. There was the Corwin who at once seemed angered by innocent questions of galactic travel, to the cool, almost warm Corwin that listened carefully to her speak of her adoptive home world. There was the Corwin who seemed incensed by notions of trivial thievery, who took quiet calls and vanished into the night. Marienna began to wonder if she should attempt to unravel the complex web, or simply let it alone.

    To say that Marienna was meticulous would be an understatement. If one take a look at her work station nothing would be more apparent, data pads were perfectly organized by category in a neat little row. There was a method to everything she did, and at least to her mind, it contributed to her success and overall efficiency. In one swift motion she could grab the material pertaining to the next item on her to-do list. Taking a moment to remove her hat she had settled in and began quickly looking over files relevant for the day.

    It was with a careful shake of the head Marienna stood up, and silently made her way across the room to stand behind Corwin. The added benefit of having removed one's boots, socks allowed for a fairly efficient stealth operation, the fact that he was engrossed in his work substantially helped, she surmised. She allowed her slender frame to begin to bend at the waist, she leaned in over him, allowing her cheek to to almost rest alongside his, barely a few centimeters between them, delicate strands of her hair falling over his shoulder, the gentle scent of her perfume spilling over in close proximity. "You might want to look at the people you speak to, Corwin." If one had listened closely enough, her tone was bordering on playful. As quickly as she approached, she pulled back and moved to stand before KV, a gloved hand giving him a pat on the "head" as it were.

    "This morning... she drifted off for a moment as though lost in thought. "A farm worker got caught beneath a harvester last night. Both now out of commission. I thought it prudent to expedite my survey of the harvesters and other related equipment so I can get the parts fabricated before week's end." She had made a graceful return to her most comfortable state, direct, matter of fact with little embellishment. "KV." she mused, turning her attention to the droid. "Do you mind terribly if I move your maintenance from mid afternoon to the end of the day?" Yet again, a hallmark of her fondness for droids over the company of flesh and blood. Only she would bother to ask a droid if it was okay to do something like that. She listened carefully to set of whirs and ranges of beeps it played in response.

    "Right then. That shouldn't me too far behind. Were there any locals in particular you were hoping to meet?" As she spoke she made her way toward the door, settling on a window from which she began to put her boots back on. "Besides, you owe me anyway." she added straight forwardly. "You know something about me, tell me something about you, Lieutenant." With something of a gentle sigh as she completed the act, she patted her hands against her thighs and stood stood once more. KV beeping something feverishly at her as she did. "KV would like to remind you, that you should avoid Dalan. Almost killed the last Imperial who even looked at him. Messy business.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

  2. #32
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    Cowin hadn't heard Marienna moving, but he did feel her moving about the room. It was a skill he had developed in his youth. His sister Terisa had taken to stealthily approaching her younger brother to sneak a peak at what his was going, if not surprise him. At first he was an easy target, when engrossed in a task, and it had gotten to the point where her monkeyshines had made him angry and Terisa enjoyed it that much more.

    It was a slow processes at first, diverting most of his attention to how the room felt, whether anyone's eyes were upon him. He had no shortage of practice, and every success elated him with vindication. Eventually, years later, he could do it without thinking about it, and sometimes identify who it was entering his space. Mercifully, unable to startle Corwin anymore Terisa abandoned her little game. The skill remained, Corwin had found it helpful a number of times.

    He smiled broadly as he felt Marienna close behind him; expecting that he was unaware of her proximity. Corwin was surprised when he caught the scent of her perfume. He hadn't imagined how the woman would have smelled previously, but he realized he had not expected her to have a scent at all.

    He stopped his work, troubled for a moment. Marienna was quickly proving his expectations incorrect and it puzzled him some. He had expected her to be a cold, calculating, spartan woman; that wasn't the case. She was sentimental and cordial when the opportunity arose, even her dealings with the locals was on the friendly side of stern. He had definitely not expected to be joking openly and laughing with the woman. For a moment he wondered if it had something to do with him before dismissing the thought as unlikely.

    His workstation had lists of farms with number designations and data for the size and yearly yield of each. They were color-coded with most being grey, a handful in green, and the remainder in yellow or red.
    The data pad had list of designated farms with their workers and start dates only a handful were indicated by yellow.

    "You might want to look at the people you speak to, Corwin."

    "I didn't realize you were sensitive to such things Marienna."
    He replied still smirking in amusement, though it was plain he was still in thought.
    "You do smell nice though." His grin widened.

    He nodded approvingly at her report. He normally would have remarked at a job well done, but didn't feel Marienna would appreciate what could only seem as a patronizing complement on doing her job.

    He found it amusing how she spoke to KV and wondered if it was her fondness for the droid in particular, or if she treated all droids that way. He wasn't sure he could, to him it felt like talking to furniture. Even protocol droids, despite their attempt to appear alive and speak, unless he imagined a person inside the metallic shell, he felt foolish.

    "A few farms scattered around the region, not far. I want to see what this data looks like practically."
    He replied, still working away on his data pad, but clearly listening, he still had not turned to look at her.

    At the change of subject, Corwin scooped his data pad off the table and turned to regard Marienna with his full attention, resting the data pad with a dark screen in his lap. He leaned back in his chair with a curious look on his face. He seemed a bit surprised at the revelation but a smile returned to his face.

    Corwin wasn't one to talk about himself. He never had been. It wasn't that he avoided the topic, he would just rather hear about other people and the things they had done. He stood and stretched letting out a satisfied sound.

    "I am not much of a story teller, I wouldn't know where to begin. I cannot say I am very interesting either."
    He mused rubbing the hair covered sides of his chin and heading to don his own boots having grabbed his cap from the table and pulled it on.
    "Perhaps it would be easier to answer any questions you had on the way?"

    He was bemused by KV's sudden fit, but smirked at Marienna's translation. Could she really understand those noises?

    "Have no fear Kay-Vee, I have Lieutenant Beren to keep me out of trouble."
    He replied to the droid, feeling foolish, but he felt it worthwhile for the remark. Data pad in his left hand he gestured to the door. He wasn't expecting to come across this 'Dalan' and wasn't terribly concerned if he did.
    "After you Lieutenant."
    In the end, the most humble of creatures defeated the Reapers.
    A human with a pile of guns and the power of friendship.


  3. #33
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    Something happened during the course of their conversation that was rare, so rare that Marienna couldn't quite put her finger on the last time this had happened. She found herself surprised, perhaps that wasn't the right word for it. Perhaps Marienna more so found herself taken aback. Corwin had complimented her scent, moreover he had noticed it at all. She supposed that from her proximity to him, that wasn't particularly odd. Why had she been wearing any perfume at all? Perhaps it was to help with the stench of the planet, just a little bit to mask some of what she had already, largely gotten used to. Had she worn it for him? That would be out of character she thought.

    At Corwin's urging, Marienna stepped out of their office, looking up toward the sun, again raising a gloved hand into the air in a motion to block some out, she cast her down then and across their surroundings. The day was just coming into its own, assorted Imperial figures making their way to and fro, each like a worker bee with their own slate of tasks for the day. In a certain sense, it was admirable how everyone simply did as they were told. Wouldn't it be wonderful, she thought, if suddenly everyone decided to stop doing as they were told. Granted, she included herself among that number, for even that was bravery she found herself not in possession of.

    "You think it's weird don't you? That I talk to droids like they're people." Marienna noted once more in a matter of fact tone of voice, being careful to avoid sounding at all accusatory. Most thought it odd. Most people, even most species had a relatively small number capable of understanding droids. It was a rare skill that in certain situations was incredibly helpful. "I prefer them, to people that this." she added as a qualifier. "You see, droids aren't good. Droids aren't bad. They don't have agendas." Marienna continued as the two began to walk in the direction of the set of farms Corwin wanted to look at and meet the owners of. As was her custom she folded her hands behind her back, allowing her fingers to interlock perfectly. "A droid does exactly what it is programmed to. If a droid does something awful, it's usually because a person instructed them to do so." There was a trace of sadness in her voice at the last remark, once again disappointed in the actions of people.

    But..." she began, "they all have personalities that are unique to them. No one can really explain why or how it happens... it just does." Marienna smiled softly, and as she walked along side him, she bumped her shoulder against his and shook her head. "I know, it's cynical, maybe a bit weird. Spend enough time with them, you learn to speak their language, and then you realize. They are horribly judgmental." A small laugh left her at that moment. As they walked, Marienna was approached by a uniformed officer holding a datapad. "Lt. Beren?" the officer called.

    In response to hearing her name, Marienna stopped turning to face the man who had called it out. Cocking her head to side there was a small, but somewhat awkward moment of silence between the two parties. "Are you going to keep me waiting all day, or was there something I can help you with?" Her tone was impatient, it was the signature Marienna Beren experience, when it came to her work she wanted nothing but efficiency, no wasted time, no pointless conversation. "Apologies, ma'am." The officer of lesser rank had a worried look on his face, knowing he had displeased a superior officer, he was clearly nervous. Turning to Corwin the man nodded. "Lieutenant." he said in greeting before quickly pulling himself together. "A Mr. Kuna Syko dropped this datapad off for you, he said you requested it." He extended his hand which contained the pad, Marienna took it quickly and nodded in acknowledgment. "If that's all, you should get back to your post. You shouldn't have left it in the first place. Next time have the couriers take it over, okay?" There was no harshness in her comments to the officer. Rather, to her mind, it was helpful advice for the future. Whether or not he perceived it that way was another matter entirely, one she would not take the time to consider. The officer left quickly.

    Marienna resumed her moving toward their destination. With a few swift motions of her fingers she took a preliminary look at what was on the data pad. "I'll examine this in more detail once I've introduced you to the first on your visit list." Stopping to review it on the spot would have run counter to their goal for the morning, rather she thought it more efficient to review while Corwin did his thing with the locals. She would be curious to know if the data had been tampered with, it was likely. Turning her head to watch Corwin, she would make good on his offer to answer more specific questions, should she have them.

    "Ah, here I am. You've given me license to ask you questions and I've just been talking about myself. I apologize, I didn't mean to be rude." Corwin was a clever man, between this comment, and her one earlier regarding looking at the people you're speaking it, it would continue to be evident that manners were important to her. "Where to begin?" she mused out loud. "You have friends, family, a wife? Anything waiting for you at home?" Everyone had friends. That was a given, well for most. Marienna fell slightly short in that department. Though it didn't terribly surprise her. "Have you always been with logistics or... did one Lt. Corwin Fischer start his career in another way?" Marienna had taken a rather round about route to this position, it was something she often thought of, wondering if she made the right choices along the way.

    Last edited by Hannelorian; 09-06-2021 at 01:51 PM.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

  4. #34
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    "Weird in that it is unusual for me; I would say a fair characterization. No judgment here, though I do find it fascinating."
    Corwin replied with his normal warm tone, though his curiosity was evident. His attention now entirely on her, he didn't pay much mind to the goings on elsewhere on the street; he was very interested in learning more.

    He was a bit surprised at the revelation; her preferring droids to humans. Marienna's reasoning was sound enough, though it did hint that she may underestimate people once she thought she knew what made them tick.

    He wondered what happened in Marienna's past to cause the behavior. Possibly a personal or professional relationship that soured or was dysfunctional. It accounted for her wanting to keep people at arms reach. He would need to be more careful of how he handled her trust going forward.

    Corwin watched Marienna as they walked together down the street. The example of behavior she used seemed too specific not to have some personal meaning to the woman. He knew droids had been used extensively in the clone wars, years ago; but surely that could not be anything relating to Marienna's opinions.

    At the mention of droid personalities he realized it had never occurred to him before, though it was obvious now that she mentioned it. All of the droids he had worked with were quirky in one way or another. He was enraptured. A new world he had never noticed was being revealed before him. Then that elusive smile crept across Marienna's thin lips and he could help but delight at her enjoyment. She almost seemed like two different people, the hard porcelain façade softening like clay in a mist.

    Corwin joined in her laughter, pleasantly surprised by her sudden mirth. Despite her preference for automatons, Marienna was easy to get along with. He appreciated that about his colleague. It had not been the same during his last posting.

    He wasn't quite sure if she was serious, it seemed an odd trait for droids that were to run on logic. He wondered if KV had expressed an opinion to Marienna about him.

    Corwin stopped beside Marienna, offering the junior officer a friendly smile. He marveled at the switch flipping inside her; demeanor becoming rigid once more. He admired her efficiency, another trait she seemed to share with droids. He watched the exchange serenely; surprised that the man simply hadn't had it delivered it to their office as well. Perhaps he had been hoping for a pat on the back at going the extra mile? He would have been sorely disappointed.

    The critique was well put together, concise and informational, excellent work as far as he was concerned. Lieutenant Beren continued to confound him. She was willing to humor the abrasive civilian, but her fellow officers received no quarter. He watched the man march off and pondered that thought for a few moments.
    Finally he nodded at her remark.
    "Very well, have Kay-Vee analyze it as well to check for discrepancies."

    Corwin seemed thoughtful, the slight smile that seemed the permanent bend to his lips was there, but it wasn't for anyone, simply a place holder. He gazed in the direction the officer had marched off in.

    His attention snapped back to her, the smiles warmth returning.
    "No apology necessary Lieutenant, I don't mind listening. I cannot say I have put that much consideration into droids before, though it is intriguing. I would like to hear more about how you picked up their 'language' but don't think it will entitle you to more answers." he smirked.

    He gestured once more, in the direction of the motor pool. It would be a very long walk across the countryside to even the closest farm. Not a very good use of their time. A relatively short speeder ride would be much preferred, for Corwin anyway. As they began walking Corwin replied.

    "My parents are on Coruscant, they do clerical work and like to joke I am in the family business. enlisted in the Naval officer academy as soon as she finished schooling and commed me all the time to tell me how great getting out and seeing the sights is. A handful of friends I grew up with or kept in touch with from my old job. No significant other to speak of."

    "I was working in a similar field for private companies before I got bored of the drudgery and wanted to get out and see the Galaxy. I blame that on my Sister."

    He beamed at the memory.

    They arrived at the motor pool and Corwin headed for the same speeder. He still had the access key signed out.
    "Would you like to drive or are you just along for the ride?"
    In the end, the most humble of creatures defeated the Reapers.
    A human with a pile of guns and the power of friendship.


  5. #35
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    Marienna was not entirely surprised by Corwin's response to her relationship with or preference for droids. In fact, he had been markedly kinder in his response than had some of their colleagues on assignments past. This of course, did little but to reinforce her own closely held beliefs. It was something of a vicious cycle. She would attempt to be more trusting, more considerate, and in the end, humans too would fail her. Their own ambition for power, for control would consume them and lead to nothing but betrayal and pain.

    The Empire had been cruel, the Empire was still cruel. It worked day in and out to grind everything around it into submission, to expand its reach. People and the Emperor were not entirely dissimilar, driven by baser instincts. It wasn't hard to take note, however, of this side of Corwin. The side that smiled and laughed, the side that seemed to genuinely enjoy her company. It was something of an odd sensation, it was not what she had been used to. Was she softer on him than on others? Was this her own subconscious method of saying all she had to do was give those around her a fighting chance to change her mind? It was possible this was once such matter she should not spend her time on.

    The young Lieutenant was not one for action for the action. An officer going out of his way to impress would inherently never impress her. When there was too much that stood in the way of work, it was simply too cumbersome. Was it so hard to do as one was told? Of course it was. Humanity saw to that, each decision one made had a ripple effect. Each decision driven by a number of factors, personal and or professional. Emotion was the peskiest part, it made following orders difficult. How could Marienna justify serving the Empire after what they had done? How could she simply nod her head and meet her expectations? On the other hand, how could she not. Thinking too much, acting on those thoughts, that is what got one into deeper trouble. Too much of one thing on either end of the spectrum wasn't wise. Marienna understood this, and yet in this moment she was perhaps letting her boundaries down.

    "When I first joined the Bureau, I got benched a lot. As you've read, I'm sure." Marienna began as the pair gradually made their way ever closer to the speeder. "So, in additional to desk duty, mostly analytic work, I was put on droid repair. I've always had a knack for it." There was a gentle shrug of her shoulders just there, as though she couldn't explain it, when really it was her entire childhood of tinkering that lead to her success in mechanics. "When it's just you and them, no one else around you get lonely at first... so you start to talk to them, and they respond. Over time you pick up on patterns, patterns become words and phrases and with their encouragement... you just learn the way of it." She was modest, Marienna worked hard, as she did now, to learn these skills. It always seemed though, when you enjoyed what you were learning, it never quite felt like work.

    "Ahh..." Marienna began, still softly smiling. "So you come from a line of bean counters." She had continued. "At least, that's what my brother calls it. I'm a professional bean counter." This was the first Marienna had likely mentioned of a sibling, just as moments before was the first time she learned of Corwin's. Her brother was among the precious little she had left by the way of family. The war had taken much from her, less than it had for many others, but enough to leave a mark on her psyche, a blemish that she could not imagine fading. Perhaps her own inability to attempt to allow it to fade was futile, what joy did it bring her? Little.

    As they came to the same old speeder they had taken the last time, Marienna allowed her smile to finally fade. She stood then closer to him than she had before, facing him down. "Your sister... sounds like a good one." She commented, largely agreeing with the notion that the only way to exist in the galaxy was to explore it. "I'm sure the next mud ball will be more exciting." She commented softly, keeping her gaze fixed directly upon him. With a deft hand, she had reached into his front pocket, and plucked the access key from where it was firmly placed. Clutching it in her hands she nodded somewhat seriously. "I'll take on this burden in your name, Lieutenant." The response was sarcastic, she quickly and neatly had planted herself in the driver's side, activating the craft.

    Once Corwin was securely inside, Marienna leaned ever so slightly forward and began to rapidly increase their rate of acceleration. A genuine laugh bursting from her as the wind began to rip wildly through her hair, rippling along the fabric of her uniform. "Just enjoy it all, Lieutenant. You end up missing places like this once you're gone." There was a sad truth in there, you never truly realized how much you enjoyed the madness of these places, as inconvenient and horrid as they could be until you left, and an odd nostalgia overwhelmed you. In the distance, the direction of the first farm they were to visit, Marienna noted smoke filling the air, flame rising beneath it. Something had gone very wrong. With an outstretched arm she motioned toward it. "Corwin! Look! We should go." There was a concern, or a hint of terror in his voice there. Something was amiss, as it wasn't nearly hot enough yet for the kinds of wild fire one might see during the summer.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

  6. #36
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    Marienna's professional history was familiar to Corwin. He had looked over the file when he was assigned, though after meeting Lieutenant Beren in person she was quite different than from what he had anticipated. So far it had been a pleasant surprise, though she was a bit soft with the locals for his liking; but not an unexpected concern.

    Seemingly enraptured by his compatriot, Corwin listened intently as they walked. Her interactions with the droids fascinated him. It may have been an unusual situation, but he was fairly certain he would have done the same had their roles been reversed.

    Perhaps he would ask for some tips when they returned to the office and KV-2 seemed to have one of his outbursts. He had been amused by the droids warning of caution. Did it care what happened to them? Was it programmed to?

    He felt a pang of sadness as she described the isolation of her duties. The fact she felt so secluded she had began talking to machines hinted at the coldness at the Empire's heart. It was an efficient organization but that offered little solus to the people inside of it. His thoughts wandered back to his previous posting for a moment before he pushed the unpleasant thoughts aside.

    Bean counters
    He couldn't help but grin at the term. He knew many that had used it as a pejorative for his line of work, but it always gave him a sense of pride. Like it or not, the galaxy needed every little bean accounted for. A bean here and there and suddenly star destroyers couldn't be paid for, governments collapsed, planets starved, and wars were lost. They kept the Empire running behind the curtains.

    He noted that she only mentioned a brother. Perhaps she didn't have any other family left. The war had done that to a lot a people. He didn't want to speculate further, she had her own reasons for what she wanted to share and what she did not. Corwin decided now was not the time to ask.

    He did find it interesting how the woman opened to him. He had been expecting a handful of questions met with silent nods, he was supposed to be the one being questioned. It made him think of a pleasant conversation with a friend. Normally he would have suspected she was probing him for weakness, leverage to get ahead. As far as he could tell, Marienna had no such ambitions. Perhaps they had become fast friends? Or maybe LT beren was just being friendly. It would not be the first time his demeanor had warmed people to him.
    Corwin had not been expecting her to suddenly turn on him upon arriving at the speeder. He stopped short in front of her, his smile wilted slightly showing his surprise.

    "Your sister... sounds like a good one."

    "Yes, she is."
    Corwin replied nodding thoughtfully, his faded smirk replaced with a slightly troubled look. He had plenty of other words for Terisa Fischer; nosey, opinionated, stubborn, fearless, but good would suffice for the time. They had fought like animals in their youth, but had grown very close in their adult lives.

    Corwin tried to remember how he had described Lt. Beren to his sister, but nothing came to mind. He hadn't thought he had said anything unusual. Terisa had been very pointed in her interrogation for details on his colleague and showed only the faintest interest in anything else after his mentioning her.

    "Well we are not done on this mud ball yet. Still plenty of time for things to liven up."
    Corwin's smirk returned, though he still seemed to have his mind elsewhere. He didn't wish for the planet to be any more lively. A smooth routine job was what both of them needed on their files right now. If Kuna Syko's thieving was the most interesting thing happening on the whole planet, that was plenty for him.

    Marienna moved with startling quickness. Had she really just done that? His neck flushed crimson, the only apparent sign of his heart pounding in his chest. Corwin was not used to close proximity with others, he had always been an 'arms reach' person socially, though even that didn't account for the entire reaction. Maybe it was her normally cool distant demeanor, or maybe her intimidatingly statuesque features, he wasn't certain. Whenever he noticed it, he found her close proximity... uncomfortable.

    Only offering a slight nod he strode to the far side of the speeder and slid over the side, dropping into his seat looking forward. He was grateful for the whine of the drives and buffeting of the wind as they raced out of the compound. He took those moments to regain his composure.

    Who was Marienna Beren? Every time he believed he had an idea, she threw him for a loop with something unexpected. Was it him that was making her more relaxed in his presence? Perhaps just no one reporting on the woman had bothered to spend any time getting to know her? Certainly possible with the little he knew of her career so far.

    The laugh caught his attention over the noise, it would have seemed more likely that the sound was a noise from the speeder than his coworker’s laughter. He couldn’t help but grin at the sight of the wide smile across her snowy face. Marienna’s troubles, past, and hardship; black tendrils, struggling to stay with her as the air pulled them.

    Corwin was not certain if he would miss this place, the smelly mudball. It was a quaint thought he had never considered. Thinking back, he hadn’t really missed anywhere before. His last posting he would have rather forgotten, and even of his home fond thoughts were few and far between.
    The porcelain woman’s profile, black locks trailing as wind rushed, drives roared, and golden fields shimmered in the morning sunlight, would make quite a memory to look back on. He enjoyed the view as they rode.

    He realized he had been daydreaming when her shout brought him back to focus. His attention snapped back to the road ahead of them as the orange flicker grew. As it came into focus, his smile faded to a grimace.

    “Take us in.” The warmth had drained from his voice, its cool hardness commanding. He glanced back to Marienna, his voice taking on a more reassuring tone. “Quickly.”

    If he was nervous it didn’t show on his suddenly hardened features. He leaned forward and poised in his seat to leap into action as they raced closer, a cloud of dust trailing them.

    It was chaos.

    A large crater deep enough for either of them to stand in below the road surface pocked the dirt road between the first and second vehicles; dirt clods of varying sizes covered everything for one hundred yards from it’s center.
    The first vehicle lay on its roof, the hull crumpled from the impact but relatively intact. White figures were scattered around it; some on the ground writhing in crimson streaked armor and others ambled aimlessly around their comrades and the troop carrier.

    The second troop carrier had borne the brunt of the explosion, its nose wrent and the jagged remainder gouged into the road. Gouts of flame lashed angrily from the glowing wreck’s sundered front and hatches thrown open by the blast as the power cells oozed out their stored energy. Charred bodies smoldered around the wreck having been thrown clear or dragging themselves free before succumbing.

    Barely out of the range of the flames from the second vehicle, three farm transports were parked haphazardly nearly touching. The lead utility hauler’s windows had been blown out and it’s front was peppered with jagged shrapnel, door hanging open a figure limply dangled from the seat.

    Farm workers scrambled around the trucks loaded down with containers meant to hold freshly harvested Barq as they tried feebly to quench the flames with handheld extinguishers or shovels of soil. A handful of farmers adorned with glistening metal shards lay in dark growing puddles. Shouts, screams, and cries punctuated the roar of the inferno.

    Corwin signaled to stop a safe distance from the scene.
    ”Comm the compound for support, and keep the speeder parked here.”
    Corwin shouted as he threw himself out of the speeder just before it completely stopped. Without missing a beat he broke into a run toward the scene drawing his sidearm into his left hand. He didn’t expect anyone to start shooting, but he wasn’t going to take any chances. He didn’t look back hoping Morienna listened, the farmers were so spooked they could drive miles away from the scene ,and any help, if someone didn’t stop them.

    ”Get those transports out of there!” He shouted to the farmers as he closed. ”Load the wounded and back up, now!”
    He had seen enough speeder wrecks to know what ruptured power cells looked like. They very seldom exploded, but in the odd times they did, you didn’t want to be anywhere around them. They had to get back and drag as many wounded as they could. He didn’t know how much he could do, he wasn’t a medic or even combat trained beyond the most basic academy training, but if he could keep even one more person alive; maybe that would count for something.
    In the end, the most humble of creatures defeated the Reapers.
    A human with a pile of guns and the power of friendship.


  7. #37
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    The compartment lights were dimmed, simulating evening hours. The ship hummed almost happily as it travelled through space, carrying a small contingent of Imperials to their destination, the agricultural stronghold of Qiilura. The vessel was a small one, designed primarily for troop and cargo transport. Marienna found herself in the odd position of being the most senior officer on the ship. Predictably, in an effort to escape from the mundane triviality of such a role she had hid herself where she was most comfortable, in the droid maintenance bay. Lt. Beren found herself laying against the cool metal floor, staring at the ceiling just listening to the sounds of the ship and the droids busying themselves all about her.

    It was here she was at peace, allowing her mind to slowly cast off all of her unwanted thoughts. The pressure of a new assignment, a new partner, a new challenge. It wouldn't be long now. Letting her head drift toward the side, her cheek now pressing against the metal, a deep sigh escaped her lips followed not long after by a rather shrill noise from one of the droids. Marienna picked her head up, looking at the droid who dared disturb her. "Oh not you too!" Marienna decried, eventually laughing lightly to herself. The same droid repeated the noise and prompted Marienna to come to a sitting cross legged sitting position. "Alright, alright, put it through." The droid made another affirmative beep, and a thin blue beam emitted from a lens, rapidly expanding into a holographic image, an incoming communication of a figure formed in a pale blue light.

    "What is it now, Galen?" Marienna asked in an exasperated voice, as though this one particular interaction was the last thing in the galaxy she wanted to do. She cast her eyes against the holographic representation of the man, he shared similar features to hers though they weren't the clearest to identify. He dressed in the traditional garb of the nobility of Naboo. "I called the main office. They said you were being deployed." The man's voice spoke. There was concern, perhaps even judgment in his tone. "You didn't think to tell your older brother that you were leaving?" Galen asked, bordering on patronizing. The question had succeeded in inducing an eye roll from Marienna.

    There was a long silence then, maybe it wasn't long, but it felt like an eternity was slowly passing them by. She couldn't tell if she was doing it on purpose, or she legitimately couldn't come up with an acceptable response. "It was a last minute assignment. She had finally replied, flat in nature and entirely unenthused by having to answer the question at all. "So you've known for weeks then?" He contended, prompting yet another roll of the eyes. He wasn't wrong, she had known and neglected to tell him, instead opting to abruptly depart from a short trip home. "It doesn't matter now. Surely you aren't calling just to give me a hard time?"

    "No... I suppose it doesn't. I just wanted to thank you for coming home, it would have meant a lot to mom." Galen's tone softened now, sounding kind and genuine. "I didn't do it for her." Marienna's response was swift, direct and serious. Furrowed brows and indicator of her overall mood, or feeling on the matter. "Whatever your reason, thank you... Where are they sending you this time?" He had conveyed his message and changed the subject, knowing full well that pressuring his younger sister into discussing the matter would have only strained their barely existent relationship. "The barq capital of the empire. Qiilura. The kind of place you wouldn't be caught dead in." She spoke with honesty and with little regard to his feelings. Marienna supposed she should be more kind, he was her only family, and now he had a family of his own making.

    "Mari..." Galen began only to be cut off. "Let's not do this. This isn't who we are. What's for you to know? I'm going to a remote world, to do my job, count the beans as you like to remind me. My commanding officer is according to all accounts, far more pleasant than I am. The keep your head down, do your job type. Yes, I imagine it will smell terrible. Does that cover it all?" She ended with a question that was most definitely not a question. She wanted no answer, she wanted nothing more than to end this interaction and that is precisely what she would do. "End transmission." The droid cut off the beam it had been projecting. Another sigh before she allowed herself to collapse back to the floor.

    Marienna wasn't sure what brought that memory to mind as she pushed the speeder to the top of its limit heading toward the commotion and chaos that wasn't too far ahead of them. Perhaps it was all the talk of family, or perhaps it was knowing that ahead they were sure to find death, or mortal injury. Perhaps this was her brain's way of telling her she should pay more attention to her own, make amends. Then again, this was hardly the time for such distraction and Marienna moved to strike the thought from her mind. So too would she strike her thoughts of Corwin which has been brewing as she drove. She had observed his every reaction to her actions. How his neck reddened she slipped the keys from his pocket. The way he watched her when he thought she wasn't entirely paying attention. She wondered if she made him uncomfortable, likely. She wondered if he spent some of those moments simply trying to unravel the mystery she presented as.

    Stopping the speeder at the spot Corwin indicated, she watched somewhat in awe as he leapt into action, throwing himself right in the middle of the danger to take command and render aide. It was something she wasn't sure she expected from him, but it brought a smile to her face for only a moment before she nodded in acknowledgment of his first order. Getting on the comm line she conveyed the nature of their situation back to their headquarters. "Come in, Imperial station 1. This is Lieutenant Marienna Beren of logistics, it looks like a collision and explosion due east. Send medical and fire suppression immediately. It is unclear if this was an accident or something else, any spare troopers may also be of assistance." Her voice was calm, almost analytical. There were few things in this life that truly phased her. A voice ont the other end repeated and confirmed the request.

    With that taken care of, Marienna quickly hopped out of the speeder and followed behind Corwin who began to attend to matters at hand. Looking around the edge of the site, she noted the crowd that had arrived to stare, many had likely been witnesses. It was a small farming road, there wasn't much chance that anyone in the area would have missed what had happened. "Alright everyone. We've gone ahead and radioed for help, it should be here any moment now. If everyone could just get back and just stay here." She spoke directly, seriously with a hint of compassion and concern therein. Moving forward with outstretched arms she began to shepherd those around toward safety. A small group of troopers which had been near by had arrived at this point, one of their number running up to her, she nodded in acknowledgment. "Keep them here. No one leaves. Have the rest of the troops form a perimeter. We'll need statements from everyone. When the cavalry gets here, they'll help us attend to the wounded." The trooper nodded and quickly got to work, letting Marienna begin to turn her attention toward the same wounded she had referenced.

    Coming across a trooper with blood staining that crisp white armor, leaning down she sighed, it was too late for him. As an act of confirmation she slid two fingers beneath the helmet resting them against the neck, there was nothing. Getting up she repeated this action several times, moving from body to body, desperate to find someone still alive. At one body, a hand reached up and grabbed her arm tightly, pulling her slender frame down toward him. Looking downward Marienna noted that his leg was hanging on just barely. "H...he...help me. I...can't die...here..." he begged. Marienna nodded and smiled down at him. "My name is Marienna, and I'm not going to let you die today. You're going to be just fine." Marienna's voice was uncharacteristically soft, entirely reassuring. She looked over at Corwin briefly, and turned her attention to the man before her, she freed herself from his grasp, and summoning whatever she could of her strength took hold his arms and dragged him backward as far away as would be safe. She would do this as many times as she could as backup had finally arrived.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

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