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 Ask  Plot There Are No Comms, Only Zakuul

Discussion in 'Outer Rim Territories' started by Klara Kadell, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. Klara Kadell

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    Thermally insulated gloves, a face shield, and her trusty fusioncutter; it wasn't much, but it was hopefully all Klara would need to start repairs on the crippled Circus. In what should have been a fairly routine landing cycle, her employer, an eccentric Rodian who went by Kodee, and his less-than-trusty Nautolan co-pilot managed to clip a tree, shearing off their comms array, blowing out their electrical systems, and sending Kodee's droid through the central viewport. Suffice to say, the 'easy job' the Onderon native had been offered was turning out to be anything but easy—if not an unmitigated disaster—and, to top it all off, they were now stranded in the middle of nowhere on the swamp planet Zakuul until repairs could be carried out.

    The humidity of the planet had long since invaded the freighter's innards, but stepping off the ship still felt like stepping into an even more intense sauna than Klara had ever experienced. The sooner she could get the environmental controls up the better, which meant getting the electrical systems up and running would be her first task. Technically speaking, the woman's area of expertise was in droids, but ships were basically just large droids, right?

    Right.

    Squeezing through what looked and smelled like a rarely used maintenance shaft, Klara's head appeared from the roof of the old Mynock Freighter. It didn't take an especially skilled mechanic to identify the source of the Circus' woes; even a blind man could see the scar of gnarled metal and exposed wiring where the comms array formerly stood. The woman's working theory on the electrical system fault was that the impact ripped a few vital free wires that were now shorting out the entire system. She'd seen the same thing happen in droids countless times before and, climbing up onto the roof of the freighter to get a better look, she found her theory confirmed by the mess of wiring that greeted her.

    "Hey kid," she called down the maintenance shaft and into the ship to the Mirlukian boy she'd been left with. "I'm gonna get started on repairs up here, why don't you and that droid go see if you can find what's left of our comms array?"

    She didn't wait for a reply and instead returned to the daunting knot of wiring. Like any good mechanic, she had isolated the array from the auxiliary power that still thrummed through the ship. After all, it simply wouldn't do to go getting herself electrocuted. So, with safety precautions in place, Klara set to work.

    Red wire to red wire.

    Green to green.

    Blue to blue.

    Twist that off, crimp there...and good.

    The next half an hour went by without incident as the Circus' newest mechanic mentally narrated each step she took. She found such a habit helped to ward off most of her more embarrassing mistakes. Confident in her re-wiring of the ship—or as confident as a droid mechanic could be—she pulled out the remote she'd rigged to the central power to and gave the red button a push.

    Nothing.

    She pushed it again and came up with nothing again, not even a spark. Furrowing her brow, she glanced down at her work once more and there, at the very bottom of the nest of wires she saw it, a disconnected coupler. How had she missed that?

    Oh well, it could be easily fixed and, with that in mind, she reached her gloved hand down through the wires. Perhaps she should have known better or perhaps she should have listened to the precognitive prickle that went down her neck as she grasped the coupler and shoved it into the receiver, but she didn't. It seemed the arrogance of expertise had gotten to her, as it does to all skilled individuals eventually.

    The shower of sparks that followed sent her flying back from the damaged array and off the ship itself with a soundless scream. Her muscles seized uncontrollably, her hand went numb, and the impact with Zakuul's surface sent a sickening crack up Klara's right arm. And then there was the pain, the unbearable, sickening pain that washed over her in waves until she couldn't take it anymore.
    Everything went black both onboard the Circus and for Klara as the last conscious thought that went through her mind was to curse that damned Rodian and his choice in landing zones.
     
  2. BD43

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    On a list of the many planets BD had seen in his time with his Rodian, he ranked Zakuul considerably low. This planet had an air of bad luck around it, and the swamp's foliage was beginning to accumulate in uncomfortable areas. BD swore he had water swashing around in the clear portion of his chassis, and it was driving his audioreceptors haywire. The humidity consistently fogged his photoreceptors, and the swamp was teeming with life, more than BD's sensors were capable of picking up. The numerous songs of birds and amphibians calling one another to engage in reproduction, the gurgling of bog water churning as beasts moved throughout it - it all disgusted BeeDee. For a droid specializing in the well-being of such life, he had a tendency to grind his hydaulics. Adding the groans of hungry predators looking for a meal, BD-43 was a little more than weary, if not more annoyed that frightened. Luckily, he was armed to the extent of his carrying capacity, and the occasional blaster shot was more than enough to keep the creatures this swamp had to offer at bay. There were neither rancors nor terentateks here. At least not yet. Though BD estimated he'd be able to take one out if need be.

    It wasn't long before the blind boy had found him as the droid presumed one of the crewmembers would. The landing had effectively left a trail of downed trees leading right to him, and, presumably, the lost communications dish. After a short exchange, however, it was apparent that the daylight was growing thin, and the search would have to wait. The firing of a blaster was enough to keep most monsters at bay, but the night often yielded larger, less... convinceable predators, and BD wasn't particularly enthused with challenging his hypothesis of taking down one of the larger beasts.

    When BD and the boy returned, night had fallen, and it was considerably darker than the droid had predicted, mostly because the ship was completely powered off. BeeDee stood in silence for a moment, processing recent events, the soft murmur of his internal processors melding with the sounds of the swamp. A mechanized sigh escaped vocabulator. "You did leave this ship in good hands, didn't you?" The droid asked, the question more rhetorical as he began to set foot onboard.

    The ship had taken the air of the swamp with it where BD had hoped for a cooler environment. Clearly this was no attempt at blending in with the environment as absolutely nothing was working. "Where is everyone?" BD inquired, looking around the vessel. He stepped back outside and found his answer, at least partially. The woman the crew had taken on, BD hadn't bothered to remember her name, was laying on the ground, surrounded by a swarm of bog kreeglers - nasty things. Is she intent on taking a nap? BD thought, making his way to the unmoving human. "Oh," he chimmed with light surprise, his glowing eyes peering at the woman in the dark. "She's unconscious," he stated, noting her still breathing. Fleeting sparks illuminated her body as the droid moved in, prepared to assess the damage. It wasn't too considerable. Had she been electrocuted, her heart hadn't stopped. If anything, BeeDee was more concerned with the state of the ship. With a tug, the droid brought the girl up by her shirt, smacking her across the face to wake her up and dropping her back to the ground. "Greetings," BD said, sparks behind him silhouetting his chassis. "I'm pleased to inform you that you are not dead, nor am I an angel." His voice was as dry as ever.

    Upon further examination, the woman's arm appeared to have been broken, and, without power, the ship's kolto tanks were less than useful, unless drowning before mending the arm was a preference of hers.
    "I'm going to have to splint that arm of yours, and a lack of use with it may be in the best interest of your health for the time being anyway. And the better interest of my time. Follow me, please." Assuming she followed, BD would lend his manipulator arm to raise her and take her onboard.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  3. Garren

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    Finding the droid proved to be easier than expected. Although Garren had trouble sensing droids due to their lack of force sensitivity, he had Red scout ahead in the general direction of the incident until he found signs of their recently submerged medic. BD appeared to fine, with no visible signs of damage, but being underwater couldn’t have been good for his circuitry. The blind boy would have to remember to tell Red to keep an eye on him. The three would have a short conversation while walking back to the ship, small talk about the job ahead of them. Garren was still unsure about his feelings towards the droid. He felt that anyone dumb enough to let themselves get launched out a window wouldn’t be able to carry out the rest of the job, but since he was mostly unphased by his flight, Garren wondered if it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to him. As they walked towards the ship in the dwindling light, Garren was hopeful that the mechanic would be able to pull off her end of the job and have part of the ship up and running by the time they got back.


    Alas, finding the droid unharmed was where their luck ended. Instead of returning to a fixed ship, there was only darkness around them. “The mechanic seemed to know what she was doing when I left, dunno if fixing a window is in her job description though.” He quipped in response to BD’s accusations. When they were making their way through the campsite, Garren noticed that the firepit had been out while; the smell of smoke completely absent. The girl must not have maintained it while she was the only one around.


    “Klara should be around here somewhere, and the other three went to complete the mission. It’s our job to have a way off this planet when they get back.” He note to BD as he sat down on a log next to their supplies. For a moment, Garren wondered what he was to do next, he couldn’t exactly help with repairs since his force sensing abilities didn’t allow him to see the detail needed when working with wires. But his mind quickly snapped back to reality when he heard the medic exclaim that Klara was unconscious. What could she have done to knock herself out? Was that why there was no power on the ship? Or did someone do that to her? He sensed her body rise, jerk and then fall back to the ground, the sound of metal hitting her face echoed through his ears as he put together what happened. “No need to be that rough friend, we still need her help if we ever want to get off this forsaken planet.” He’d pick up a few rocks and throw them into the forest, listening to the sounds of the wildlife fleeing.


    Just moments proceeding BD and Klara entering the, Garren began to feel the presence of people around him. At first, the boy assumed the rest of the crew was on their way back but he became more alert once he realized it was five new presences advancing on him. Garren turned into the direction he thought Red was in and whispered, “Go plant yourself on top of the ship and keep a lookout. I'll handle these guys, but if something goes wrong find Sleen and tell him what happened.” The stealth droid gave a scared beep in response but complied with the order. He didn’t know why the reptile was the first person to come into his mind, but he assumed it was because they had some mutual understanding of each other. Garren fastened his dagger close to his chest for quick access if needed, and undid the cover on the blaster in his belt.


    Within a moment the lifeforms approached Garren, making whirring sounds at him in the pale moonlight. Lucky for the blind boy, he recognized the language as Kubazian since he did a job for some Kubaz on another planet, but unlucky for him the job only took a few days and he could barely understand their language. He stood up from his log slowly with his hands at his side. “Hello friends, what can I do for ya?” He’d stutter trying to formulate the words he needed in Kubazian. Next they all spoke at once. Five Kubaz voices came at him, he tried to gather what they were saying but he only recognized a few words and phrases. “Humans… Missing… Come… This way…” Were a few of the words he could make out.


    “Kark. Kark. Kark. They must’ve been with the guys Sleen mentioned we crushed when we landed. Can’t really take them on by myself and I don’t imagine that the mechanic or medic will be much help in a fight.” Garren tried to remain calm and collected even outmatched. He’d be done for by showing any small sense of weakness. His only choice was to try to continue to reason with them, the humans must’ve been the only ones in their crew that spoke basic. “No humans here.” In his mind he knew he needed to get the ship fixed and they probably had the resources, but there wasn’t a great way to communicate with them, if only he had a language processing droid with him. “My ship is…” he’d muttle his way through, he didn’t know how to explain that it was broken, so he picked up a stick off the ground and snapped it in half, “no good.” He’d say to back up his demonstration. The boy would try to stitch together another sentence “You help me fix ship, I help you look at humans,” he’d mistakenly used the word “at” instead of “for” but his point still came across.


    To start their reactions to the boy seemed almost apathetic, like they didn’t care about him and only sought to find their friends. They’d try to talk communicate with him some more, saying they’d look at the ship, but the passive reactions turned negative quicker than BD flew out the window of the ship. One of the Kubaz stepped into a puddle next to the ship, the blood puddle made when the ship landed. Squeels would come out among the Kubaz as they all started to formulate their suspicions. “You kill... where humans…” were the words he understood. Quickly one of them pulled his blaster out and pointed their blaster at him while the rest followed suit.


    Garren threw his hands up in response, “Easy! Easy. Easy. No kill.” There wasn’t anyway he’d be able to defuse this situation himself, and he was worried if he kept talking he’d missay something that’d cause them to start firing. They’d shout at him to remain still as three of them approached the ship’s entry way. “We have some visitors,” he’d shout in basic, hoping that Klara and BD could come up with something to get them out of this situation.
     
  4. Klara Kadell

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    Consciousness returned to Klara in a gasp; her chest heaved, her body ached, and all she saw was BD-43 standing over her. The droid's unchanging visage and backlit eyes appeared almost sinister in the woman's pain-wreathed vision. Worse yet, each of the droid's words seemed to slur into the next in what the woman was certain was some alien language. This slurry of incomprehensible language, however, soon solidified into recognizable words and concrete sentences as Klara's facilities began to return to her in earnest, not that they were any help at the moment. Indeed, all the medical droid would receive in response for its trouble was a pained groan and an initial rejection of its offer of assistance.

    Trying and failing to stand up under her power owing to the sharp pain in her arm and the throbbing in her head, the mechanic swallowed what little pride remained and took the droid's cold hand in hers. With considerable effort and no small amount of patience from the BD unit, Klara stood on her own two legs once more and, though her compromised sense of balance threatened to throw her to the ground, made it back to the Circus without incident.

    It was walking up the landing ramp that the smell hit her. It was not the same foul stench of Zakuul that crept into one's nose and putrified there. No, she'd already gotten used to the planet's less than pleasant aroma—this smell was something new. And, though it was new, it still smelled vaguely familiar as if someone had mixed the acrid smell of an electrical fire with that of a thousand dying plants, a clash of the inorganic with the organic. The source of this smell, the dazed Klara found as BD-43 clipped away the sleeve from her injured arm, was none other than her own person where the scent of her singed glove and mud-caked back mingled together into one.

    ka-CRACK

    Klara's vision swam and she nearly made a second trip into the void as the droid set her arm into the splint. Perhaps, had she not been so infirmed, she would have heard the muted tones of speech coming from outside the Circus, but she was and she did not. Instead, it took the blind boy's warning echoing up the landing ramp into the ship's cabin to alert her to the danger. With the splint in place and adrenaline surging through her body, she tried her stand only to collapse back into her seat when two separate waves of pain washed over her, one originating in her head and the other from her injured arm.

    "Help him," not 'thank you', were the first words Klara said to her erstwhile medic. "Please, help him."

    Using her good hand, she unclipped the fusioncutter she'd affixed to her belt before the incident and straightened her posture best she could. Once more, and much to her dismay, her fate lay in the hands of a defective droid. Whoever these 'visitors' were they weren't likely to be friendly given the boy's tone. Well, if the droid failed and she died here then at least she would do so with a fusioncutter in hand—her life hadn't been all that bad either.
     
  5. BD43

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    Taking the human up the loading ramp and to the medical center housed within the Circus had been very much like guiding a blind drunk suffering from a concussion. BeeDee wasn't entirely sure the woman understood what he had said at all, much less understood what was even going on. Miraculously, the journey went without incident, no doubt due to BD's acute reflexes and remarkable skill in leading. This ship was often full of malfunctioning drunks. Why they hadn't started calling him the captain was beyond any mental processing, even for a droid.

    Setting the human down, BD-43 immediately went to work splinting her arm. It was fortunate he could not smell, lest he suffer an emergency shut down in this critical moment from the foul stench alone. This operation was something he'd done numerous times to the point of excess, and, even had the familiar sound of splintered bone snapping back into place been disturbing to him at first, it certainly wasn't at this point. In fact, BD fancied it a song of sorts, in the same was silence was a song. That being, the patient usually fell into unconsciousness depending on the severity of the break. This girl was strong though. Certainly no droid, durasteel was not so easily snapped, but resilient enough - for a human. Perhaps BD would have to remember her name, maybe upon hearing one of the other crew members speak it. That is, if they are still alive.

    As with most things involving this planet, one problem sprang another. BD's audioreceptors pinged, picking up a new source of sound from outside the ship. At first, BeeDee thought it was some sort of instrument, but he quickly recognized it as speech, unintelligible as it was. Unfortunately, it appeared the blind boy had found company, and, from the tone alone, BeeDee was not convinced they were entirely happy. This was later confirmed by the boy yelling up the loading ramp.

    The woman seemed to have heard them too, even in her drunken stupor, and, rather than thanking the droid for his efforts, she offered a new command - to help the sentient who was actually blind. Were medals given out to droids, BD figured he was in need of one.

    The sentients outside had spoken, no, tooted a language BD was unfamiliar with. Fortunately, the medical droid had his bases covered with one of his slaves, a protocol droid named 2B. The medical droid quickly made his way over to the shut down droid, flipping the switch behind its neck to activate it.

    The droid sprang to life, it's singular photoreceptor sparking into a yellow glow. "Greetings, Master 2B-43, how might I serv-"

    "Shut up and listen," BD interjected, giving pause for the protocol droid. A moment passed, and the echoes of voices traveled through the ship.

    "Oh, it appears we're accompanied by Kubaz! Oh, Master BD, I've always wanted to test my Kubazian. It's quite the language, more a Growdi Harmonique than speech, actually, I-"

    "Yes, 2B, what are they saying?"

    Another pause. The protocol droid sat silent for a moment, then flinched. "It appears they want to terminate us. Something about killing humans? And blood?"

    "I gathered that, yes."

    "Oh my. Apparently, we seem to have landed on their friends. Crushed them."

    BD paused. "Follow me," BeeDee said, leaving the medical bay with the chiming protocol droid's whirring joints trailing behind him with each step.

    When the pair journeyed outside of the ship, three Kubaz were at the bottom of the loading ramp, brandishing their weapons. Unfortunately for them, BD's were bigger. They slowly backed as the two droids stepped onto the surface, BD assessing the situation. Not a single power cell on this ship and they'd been found. And the boy, for all intents and purposes, captured.

    "2B," BeeDee chimed, rotating his head to face the protocol droid. "Tell the Kubaz that I murdered all of their friends and am fully capable of doing the same to them. I do not care about the blind human's well being."

    The droid was stunned, stuttering as he began his speech. What followed was a series of honks, words, or so BD imagined. The Kubaz were quite clearly stunned, even with their goggles equipped. This was something they'd never heard come from a droid before.

    BeeDee drew one of his grenades, keeping his rifle trained on the nearest Kubaz. "Tell them that I am equipped with a thermal detonator. And," he paused, "Inform them of my kill count. Say it is within their best interest they leave, or else I will be forced the gun down the majority of them and incinerate the rest."

    The droid did as he was told, and, within moments, the Kubaz retreated, leaving 2B a quivering mess. The running steps of the poachers tapered off, and BD turned to look to the boy. "Should you ever find it within yourself to call upon my services again," BD said, turning to go back on board the freighter, "don't."
     
  6. Garren

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    Standing before insect guzzling bad guys filled Garren with terrible feeling of helplessness. He wasn’t strong enough to stop the Kubaz on his own. He wasn’t cunning enough to make them go away. He couldn’t do anything to prevent failure of the mission. There was nothing he could do. The blind boy just stood there while three of the Kuaz entered their ship, he was certain the crew would be taken hostage or worse.


    When BD came out of the ship with a protocol droid the boy couldn’t do anything but shrug at him with a grin on his face. Fake it till you make it, he thought to himself. The same silly droid who let himself take a dive out a had a new interesting play to make on the Kubaz. He threatened all their lives. Every single person on board the ship; not just the Kubaz, all of them.


    Much to his surprise, this situation didn’t end in blood or chains. The medical droid was able to fix Garren’s communication mistakes convince the Kubaz to leave. The feeling of relief washed over the boy as they lowered their weapons away from his face and simply scurried off into whatever hell hole they came from. The sensation that all his burdens were gone was short lived as BD made it very clear that this performance was a one time only event. “Hey, we’re even now. I got you back to the ship earlier and you just stopped some glorified insect vacuums from trying to capture us.” He’d take a breath, “Even.”


    Following his recent capture Garren took some time to try reconstruct the camp around the ship again since Klara had been unconscious and let the fire burn out. Red flew overhead keeping watch on the perimeter for other unwanted visitors. As the time past the blind boy couldn’t think that they still didn’t have any power on the ship or more importantly a way to complete the rest of their mission. But the Miralukan started to think that the Kubaz likely didn’t live on the swamp filled planet of Zakuul, which meant they had to have a ship and a way to communicate with other planets.


    Garren started to head into the jungle towards the camp Sleen had described earlier. He wasn’t familiar with the terrain so he followed Red to avoid running into trees. The campsite was easy to reach, however his small journey proved wasted as his little guide droid informed him that the place seemed recently packed up, all supplies taken away. “Just once on this damned mission I’d like for something to go my way,” he complained to his droid. But little did he know his bad luck wasn’t over yet. Three of the Kubaz were still loading up their camp supplies to move them elsewhere, likely far away from his crew’s ship.


    If he couldn’t take them before there was certainly no way he could take them now. The blind boy needed to make his way back to the ship now before needing another rescue mission. Garren attempted to mask the sound of his feet as they sloshed against the ground but alas he stepped on a tree branch, causing a large cracking sound which alerted the Kubaz. In a quick attempt to deflect them, the boy concentrated to use the force to pick up a ten pound rock and hurled it as hard as he could in another direction to deflect the attention of his foe.


    Instead of waiting around to see if they would take the bait, Garren took off in a dash back towards his ship. Now in the beginning he seemed to do fine following Red, but the full speed sprint led him to sacrifice his carefulness in exchange for a quick escape, which eventually led to him tripping into the swamp ridden water. For a brief moment the world turned black as he felt himself in a time of distress, but when his senses returned to him he realized that he and Red were alone in the woods, they were successful in evading the Kubaz.


    Once back to the campsite, Garren figured he’d had enough excitement for the day and positioned himself in front of the fire to rid himself of the swamp water smell. All his efforts resulted in nothing to show, his place on the crew had been thus far meaningless. Again the boy had failed.
     
  7. Klara Kadell

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    Catching every other word from her place in the cabin, Klara clutched her fusioncutter tighter each time she heard the whirring clicks and buzzes of the strange Kubaz language. She'd listened to stories of other mechanics using cutters as weapons in a pinch but had never done so herself nor had she ever dreamed of having to. Hell, she hadn't even shot anything other than a target once or twice under her father's supervision and, yet, here she was mentally planning out her last stand should negotiations go sideways. It was far from an ideal situation and it left Klara's already fatigued body on edge.

    And then, just as soon as the crisis started, it was over. BD-43's metallic footsteps echoed up the landing ramp, the blind boy's dulcet tones filled the air once more, and the adrenaline ebbed from Klara's veins for the final time that day. Her whole body ached as if she'd hiked mile upon mile without rest and the pain emanating from her arm through her body was unending. And yet, sleep found the woman a ready companion as a benign unconsciousness washed over her.

    If anyone were to check on her they would find her pulse steady, her breathing calm, and her hair in disarray. In her unconscious state dreams of the past came to her; days in the shop spent with her father, cooking dinner with her mother, and the lazy hours she spent minding the family business all swirled together in the metaphysical ether to create an ongoing reel of images and emotions. Soon, however, even these images blurred into indiscriminate blackness and where it was almost comforting to find nothing at all. Sometimes, it seemed, rest was the best medicine one could take.
     
  8. BD43

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    Even, BD echoed, his internal processors churning the word in his mind as he stopped at the top of the loading ramp. The medical droid turned, sticking his head out of the entrance as he looked to the Miraluka. "Master Garren, if I may be so bold, I believe I've just saved you from a kidnapping and possible life of slavery, involving intercourse or otherwise, where Master Kodee's piloting gave me a trail of broken trees right to the ship," the droid argued, his voice devoid of any sort of moisture and with little variety in pitch. He turned away, then stopped, facing the boy once more. "I do believe you still 'owe' me," BeeDee chimed, "as it were. Perhaps in the future you can do me the service of not getting kidnapped. Then we shall call it 'even.'"

    With that, the droid marched on to the medbay, poised to wait out the night until their compatriots returned with the bounty, and, hopefully, a means of fixing this ship.
     
  9. BD43

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