Monday, October 22, 2007

A Message from Home

The thing about baths, it seemed to Toob, was that once one was an option, it became the only option.

Trill would go hunting, she would take a bath. She fixed the pod, she took a bath. She tinkered with her weapons, she took a bath. At this rate, it really seemed like the hedonistic female would start rewarding baths with yet more baths.

Of course, there was a certain therapeutic benefit to the heated whirlpool, especially for a pregnant human woman. Even someone in her excellent physical condition had a lot to gain by soaking for long periods of time. There was, however, something to be said for moderation. Trill would no doubt reply that that saying was "Moderation is for monks".

Fortunately, Toob had something that would keep her out of the tub for some time. A project he knew she would not refuse and would likely obsess over until it was completed. As long as it got her out of the bath and back into real life, he was content.


Trillinae looked up through the wisps of steam around her. "Yeah, Toob? What is it? Here to scrub my back again, sweetie?"

He was very much not here to scrub the human's back. Not again.

"No, mistress. I have something for you. Something I have had stored since we were last on Cularin."

Her eyes lit up. "Chocolate?!?"

He shook his head, swivelling at the neck to indicate a negative. It wasn't technically a lie; he did have chocolate but the piece he was carrying had been put in his receptor cavity on Coruscant. Thus, he could maintain its secrecy a bit longer.

"No, mistress. I have a small parcel from Master Jeht. It is now time for you to open it?"

Instantly, Trill's face fell. He could see the indications of a dozen different emotions play across her visage. Loss, sorrow, frustration. Loneliness. That one more than most. Eventually, a quiet resignation won out over the rest. "Okay. Give me a moment. I'll get out of the tub."

Toob felt a small personal victory in his processor core. he had successfully estimated the behavior of his mistress, not something he could often do with any accuracy. She was a very fickle creature at times, prone to outbursts and irrational actions. Aside from a tendency to keep herself and those close to her as comfortable and safe as possible, there was no real pattern to her activities.

He held out a bathrobe, slipping it over her shoulders after she toweled off. Finding the emergency blankets under a panel in the crushed side of the pod had been a stroke of luck. Though it was torn, its fabric made for excellent rags and absorptive cloths.

"Okay, Toob. Lemme see it." Her voice was measured, calm. He could detect a lot of turmoil in Trill but thought better of confronting her about it. Once of the key facets in his counsellor training was knowing when not to use it. Right now, his mistress was not in any shape to talk about her feelings. She needed time to ponder them on her own.

After giving her the black cloth bundle, he stepped back to a suitable, respectful distance and watched, hoping the parcel would not be an unwelcome sight. The last thing he wished right now was to drive the woman back into the tub.

Trillinae sat down, cross legged, and opened the package in her lap. Inside was a number of small metal objects, a long shard of crystal, a round glass container of jewels and a strange device made of etched bronze panels inlaid onto a two-inch clear blue cube. That item she picked up, turning it over and over in her hands.

"How odd. This almost looks like a..."

"Holocron." Toob nodded and stepped forward slightly. "The Master made it for you and entrusted it to my keeping until there was a time and place for you to use it. The activation phrase is Wookkie Liberation Front."

Trill could not help but chuckle a bit at those words, remembering all the insane misadventures associated with W.O.L.F. and how hard a time they used to give Darrus for being so stuffy. It brought a smile to her face, something Toob appreciated seeing.

She held it up, touching its sides in the proper places and saying the right words to turn the cube on. It began to glow with an inner light, shedding a pale blue radiance all over the small bathing grove within a matter of moments. Shortly thereafter, it flickers along its metal sides and leaped out of her hands, propelled by tiny repulsors into the air.

The holocron hovered four feet into the air and moved forward just out of reach. Then, sparks flaring along the lines of the cube's bronze panels, it started to spin, generating a field of rapidly changing lights around itself. Just as Trill started to look away to ask Toob if he knew what the bizarre thing was doing, its patterns resolved into a very familiar form.


The cube, now barely visible within the hologram it was projecting, crackled as its speakers activated. Trillinae sat in mute fascination as a voice she'd not heard in far, far too long whispered through the clearing.

"Hello, Trill. If you are seeing this projection, it means we have been parted for some time and there is no way of telling when we might be reunited. In keeping with your training, I have imprinted this holocron with a copy of my lore, my knowledge and the lessons I have long neglected teaching you."

Trill glanced at Toob, a mixture of confusion and gratitude in her eyes.

"This cube is a copy of my mind, a record of anything and everything I might ever be able to teach you. I do not know how much of it you will need and it is no substitute for a living mentor but if you are seeing this at all, it will have to suffice."

Trill stared at the glowing shape, a strange expression coming over her. At the first sign of tears, Toob started moving closer. It had not occurred to him that this would be traumatic but he should have guessed it. In her condition, different colored socks could be traumatic.

She held up her hand, shaking her head at him. "I'm... I'm okay. Really." Even as she spoke, the hologram continued.

"Your first lesson will be an important one. While most learners have to wait a long time to reach this point in their training, wherever you are is likely dangerous and hostile."

"Good guess, dark eyes." Her voice was still a bit broken but the mirth was a good sign.

"As such, I do not want you there defenseless. I have no doubt that you are carrying an arsenal of firearms but you also know how I feel about blasters. That said, you should have found with this holocron all the parts you need to construct your own lightsaber."

She blinked. "Lightsaber?"

"Yes, Trill. You heard me right. I will now teach you to build a lightsaber. Pay very close attention and watch the lesson all the way through before attempting this on your own. You have only one focusing crystal and if you ruin it, you may not be able to replace it. You can play this lesson again as many times as you wish by requesting it.

Take your time with this, my dear. I cannot stress enough how important a step in your teaching this is. Were I with you, I would never push you this far this fast. But desperate times and all that, right?"

Trillinae looked down at the parts in her lap, picking up the shard of crystal and staring at the light of the jungle canopy above through its facets. Putting it back down, she looked over the rest of the materials. "Wait a minute, what about...?"

"You will no doubt notice there is one thing missing. The weapon's casing. The handle, so to speak. Every Jedi builds his or her lightsaber within a housing that means something to them. That personal connection is part of the lesson, part of the bond that will make your saber a part of you."

She sighed and nodded. "I had a feeling you were going to say that." Then, a little louder, "Toob!"

"Yes, Mistress?"

"You remember that raptor that tried to eat me when we first got here?"

Toob digitally cringed. "Yes, mistress. Of course I recall that creature."

"You think we still have any of its bones?"

"I believe I know what you are contemplating. Yes, mistress, we do. I have kept some of them to grind into calcium supplements for your meals. There are a few that would serve quite adequately for what you have in mind."

Trill smiled softly. "You really are a life saver, Toob. Thank you." Her gaze then shifted back to the Holocron, confusion setting in when she saw it doing nothing at all. The image was just hovering slightly off the ground, motionless.

"Ummm, Toob?"

The droid had already turned to return to the pod after the bone in question. "Yes, mistress?"

"The holocron. I think it's stuck."

"The lesson was paused while your attention was elsewhere. Shall we continue?"

She blinked again. "Toob?"

The droid stopped moving completely. Until this was over, there was little point in going anywhere. "Yes, mistress?"

"The thing... It stopped on its own."

Toob turned around to regard both the human and the curious device in front of her. He had limited understand of holocrons but knew enough to answer her implied question. "The device is a mimetic copy of the creator's mind. It is in many ways similar to my heuristic processor yet even more advanced."

"And that means....?"

"The holocron is quite capable of independent decision making, just as I am."

"Oh." Trill stared at it. "So..." She addressed the hologram. "Does that mean you can hear me?"

"I am aware of you, yes."

Trillinae sat back on her hands, eyes widening. "And you can talk to me?"

"It would appear I am doing that, yes. Shall we continue the lesson?"

For more than a moment, she did not respond. She said nothing.l She did nothing. She just looked down into her lap in complete silence. Toob moved to Trillinae's side, regarding the water leaking from her eyes with growing concern.

"Mistress, if this is too stressful for you, we can deactivate the holocron for now."

"No... Please, just leave it. I... I just need a moment."

Toob nodded again and walked backwards a few steps, turning to face the pod once more. "I will retrieve the bone we discussed, mistress." His forward movement was stopped by contact between his leg and Trillinae's trembling hand.

"I just... I miss him, Toob." Her voice was quiet, softer than he had ever heard her before.

"Of course you do, mistress."

Humans. No matter how many files he had, no matter how data he compiled about them, they would always remain a mystery to him. He could treat their ailments, repair their wounds, even replace their crippled limbs and organs but in the end, he knew basically nothing about them.

All Toob really knew at this moment was that his current charge seemed as happy as he had seen her to date and as sad as he'd ever seen anyone in his existence.

The paradox made his circuits hurt....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Little Luxuries

"Toob! This is wonderful!"

Trill leaned back, almost purring, and stretched out against the shaped metal back rest of her new tub. It was made from a section of pod casing, a heat shield that was discarded off her escape capsule during its descent. They had come across it a few days ago while scanning the planet's surface for anything useful or unusual.

This definitely fit into the "useful" category. Toob, using his surgical laser and plans found on one of Trill's many and sundry data chips, had transformed the concave alloy shell into a bathing tub. In what Trillinae had later called an "act of pure genius", he has managed to fit the basin with one of the pod's circulating spare heaters.

The result: pure bliss.

"I don't know what I'd do without you, Toob! Gods... this is better than sex."

That might have been an exaggeration, especially given how much Trill enjoyed said activity but at this moment, even she believed it. The hot water, moving and roiling over every raw nerve and aching muscle, was a little bit of heaven in this world of overgrown hell.

Toob had not built the tub for pleasure's sake and she knew it, not that she cared. In the medical droid's eyes... err, optics.... the washing basin was a therapy device. Trill's body was undergoing far more stress than a pregnant woman should; the strain was not good for her health or that of her unborn. To Toob, the bath was a way to alleviate some of the worst factors of his patient's difficult lifestyle.

At least this time the annoying droid wasn't blaming her for everything. Back on Cularin or while on her old ship, the medical busybody was constantly riding her about her health, her habits, her irresponsible intake of comfort foods and alcohol. Here, most of the things Toob did not approve of were impossible or at beast highly unlikely.

That meant fewer lecture and that meant for a happier Trillinae. If she could go a week without hearing from Toob about something else she was doing wrong, she became a little more relaxed and - even better - less likely to find a heavy object and perform some "reprogramming".

The tension relief was worth its imaginary weight in gold, both for Trill and Toob. While his mistress was in the tub, she was not out fighting reptilian beasts with makeshift melee weapons or highly dangerous jury-rigged firearms. Even that alarming activity he could overlook as a necessity of survival but her frequent battles had stressed his logic receptors to the point of voiding his warranty.

If they were truly going to be stuck here for an indefinite period of time, he needed to see to her safety. The Maelstrom was either not coming or would be delayed for quite some time. There was every possibility it had been lost with all hands, including his master Darrus, in which case there would be no rescue at all.

There was a war going on, after all. A war that his master served in as a high ranking military officer as well as a front line combatant. Both roles represented high risk factors when considered separately. When combined, the odds of anyone returning to this world any time soon became even smaller.

If that were true, this constituted a true emergency.

And if that were true, it was time for him to access his Primary Command directory and implement the instructions Master Jeht had programmed him with more than a year ago. The prospect of completing these new commands sent the worry protocols in Toob's heuristic processor into near meltdown... but there was no choice.

If they were going to be stranded here, even for just a little longer, Trillinae would need what he was carrying inside him, regardless of the personal cost.

Toob stood in the doorway of the escape pod, watching Trill enjoy her bath. When he was certain she was too distracted by the pleasures of the warm water and swirling jets, he turned away and opened his main housing. To do as Primary Command directed, he would have to remove his secondary power core.

Despite being ordered to do this, Toob hesitated. The loss of his backup core meant that if anything happened to his main energy cell, he would shut down and restoration, especially on this primitive world, would be impossible. Without this secondary power unit, his run time expectancy would be cut in half. Literally, doing this would take decades off his serviceable lifespan.

His metal fingers closed around the small metal cylinder in question. Six years. If he did this, that was all the time he would have left. 72 months of function, depending on power consumption needs and unforeseen cascade failures and external damage.

Toob stood completely still, his logic centers in serious conflict. No one else knew of this order, not even his mistress. She would never have to know. He could even access his own memory and delete the commands. Even he would not be aware of any directive violations. It would be as if none of this ever happened.

Slowly, quietly, Toob released his hold on the secondary core and started to pull his hand out of his chest. Just as he did, Trill's voice echoed in from outside.

"Thank you so much, Toob! I know I've been really hard on you lately but you take such good care of me. How about an oil rub-down when I'm done in here? Like... in an hour? Or ten?"

His hand twitched. His heuristic processor shifted most of his run time from worry to guilt. He had been worried about shorting his lifespan when hers was in real danger of being ended if he did not finish what he had started. His secondary power cell was a luxury. His mistress didn't even have the benefit of "reserve life". She only got this one and he could help her protect it.

Without another thought, he detached the core and removed its trailing leads, tucking them back in his torso chassis before closing himself back up. The rest of the parts he needed were in his lower abdomen cases.

Carefully, he laid out everything Trillinae would need on her bedside table. His memory bank called forth the instruction file his mistress would need and downloaded it into her favorite datapad.

When she finally did come out of her whirlpool bath, Toob's mistress was going to be in for a big surprise...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Uninvited Guests

They kept pace with each other, thrusters maintaining equal burn all the way through the ionosphere. As an primeval world with a fairly young life cycle, its air envelope was remarkably thick, causing most of their thermal shielding to slag into vapor within seconds of fiery contact.

The first barrier to pierce was the upper cloud layer, dense and wet with coalesced hydrogen from the tectonically heated geoplates below. With so much water in the air, the clouds were nearly solid walls at the speeds the metal twins had achieved. They slammed through them with only minor damage, secondary defense systems glimmering as their integral force fields absorbed the majority of the kinetic shock.

The lower weather band was much lighter but, in its way, more difficult to breach. These clouds were dark and active, moving at high speed from the twin powers of turbulence and electrical discharges. Both hurtling orbs were struck dozens of times by lightning, voltage crackling over their surfaces, scoring deep lines of ionic etching across their barrier plating.

But still they pressed on, shooting groundward at ballistic pace. The electrical flares blinded them temporarily, making landing a matter of automated systems, predetermined coordinates and the vagaries of fate.

One of them slammed into the upper crust of a dormant volcano, shattering both the stone shell and its armor before plunging into the mountain's unforgiving cauldron.

It melted instantly.

The other came down a few hundred yards away, devastating a swath of jungle trees and undergrowth before finally grinding to a halt at the end of a long, charred scar. The ground cover around it ignited from the temperature of its outer hull, grasses burning to ash within moments.

One plate fell off, clattering to the ground in a half-melted pile of glowing detritus. Then another. Then another. Layers of resilient shielding broke away, shed like silvery onion skin until what lay beneath was completely exposed.

From the outer wreckage, something dire was born.

It unfolded, legs shifting to move beneath it as its repulsor engine fired and raised it on a translucent column of white-blue force. Mostly spherical, it opened its five optics, each one placed radially around its rotating upper half. The lower half was also active, extending a gun ports, a sensor array and three manipulator arms. Each arm silently tested its onboard tools, including its vibro-claws. Finally, its concealed turbocannon turret rose from an irising bay.

All systems online.

After five minutes spent failing to establish contact, the droid concluded that it was on its own. A nanosecond ticked by before it decided to continue with its mission instead of aborting and using its Endgame charge, a proton warhead capable of atomizing a two kilometer radius. Its sensor array went active, sweeping the immediate area for signs of its prey.

It was a Consortium stalker droid, charged with hunting down the only real threat to the Separatist movement - the Jedi. This one and its ill-fated cohort had been dispatched to track communication signals originating from a vessel called the Maelstrom. After homing in and following a shuttlecraft assigned to that cruiser, the droid had calculated a 78.125% chance that the survival pod the shuttle launched to this world contained its quarry - a Jedi General.

The droid took less than seventeen seconds to pinpoint the Republic escape pod's landing zone. It would scan the impact site.

It would find an trace of biological occupants.

It would track survivors relentlessly.

And when it found its prey...


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Trill's Quest

Toob had always known this day would come.

Since starting to serve his mistress nearly three years ago, there was never any doubt as to her basic medical status regarding certain matters. Given her gender, present physical condition and chemical dependencies, this most recent development in her increasingly erratic behavior could hardly be seen as a surprise.

Even so, he approached the pod slowly. She was armed after all and since her weapons had proven to be as devastating to the environment as to their targets lately, the medical droid was none too eager to provide a target.

"Mistress, can I render assistance?" Toob felt it was a reasonable offer phrased in a calming, gentle tone. There would certainly be no need for anyone hearing his soft, modulated voice to take sudden umbrage and blast him into a thousand spare parts. At least, that was Toob's intention. Reality could, and often on this planet did, prove otherwise.

Inside the dark escape craft-turned-transport, there were just clanging and shuffling sounds. The vehicle was shaking slightly, rocked by the sudden impacts of someone moving around virtually everything inside. A frantic search or an angry emotional tantrum, perhaps; Toob could not be sure. Either way, his mistress was not happy.

Then, from within the pod, a battle cry of sorts came echoing out. It was a word he'd been fearing he would hear for several weeks. He was honestly surprised it had taken this long for his mistress to reach this point of biological insanity.


The pod shook again, this time with the sound of all the shelving on the port side being pulled down in a desperate search for what the medical unit new was not present. At this rate, she would tear the entire ship apart and quite possibly strand herself in her mindless hunt for sucrose-infused herbal by-products.

Toob was well aware of the medicinal effects of chocolate, though he considered such elements to be a wasteful form of administering them. He could synthesize everything in the confection and at much greater dosages but his behavioral anticipation routines suggested less than a 5% chance that Trillinae would find that solution to her liking. More probable would be her accepting the injections and then heading right back into the pod for a continuance of her demolition efforts.

In a way, Toob blamed the Republic for this. The pod was a standard VIP escape pod, used by senators and other dignitaries transported aboard military vessels. The accommodations were premium quality, the navigation and flight systems were all state of the art and even the smallest amenities were thought of in advance by well-paid approval committees.

That meant that every last comfort detail had been included in the pod. This had proven to be a very good thing for his pregnant patient. The ability to have a comfortable night's sleep was a wonderful boon in this otherwise savage situation.

Unfortunately, his mistress also knew all this and was not ignorant of a small detail that he had hoped she would not have known. VIP pods include a full medical suite of emergency supplies including a few "comfort items". One of those essentials, though why such a foolish extravagance could be considered an essential was quite beyond his programming, was a one pound bar of fine grade Dellibian chocolate in a pressure-sealed package for long shelf life.

In this case, the chocolate was going to live longer than the shelves. CRASH!

"Where the HELL is the chocolate?!"

If Toob had possessed any real facial features, he would be wincing. Her vocal inflections reveals a critical level of stress and emotional intensity. There was little else to do; he was going to have to provide a small amount of relief for his patient's condition.

Loading his smallest hypo-dart with pseudoseratonin and a strong soporific, he took his shot the next time any part of Trill passed in front of the pod's open door. The dart took her in the leg, sending her endorphin levels through the ceiling even as she crashed in an unconscious heap to the floor.

A few minutes later, Toob had the smiling, sleeping Trillinae tucked into her bed, none the worse for wear. She would nap for a few hours and wake up chemically back in balance. Sadly, Toob knew there was little he could do for her mentally. All of his files told him that women with children, regardless of species, are simply crazy until... and sometimes after... delivery. Like a tropical storm, the best he could do was hope the devastation wasn't too serious.

Walking away from the craft to go collect new plants for his synthesis modules, Toob checked his locked chest compartment. The foiled package of rich, dark chocolate was still there, temperature controlled and intact.

There might be no hope of surviving Hurricane Trill intact but it never hurt to have a back up plan...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Day.... Whatever

Toob walked slowly up the hill where his mistress was sitting, surrounded by strange things.

Little piles of herbs, a small hill of yellow-white powder, metal implements and broken egg shells from half a dozen different birds - these all laid scattered around her as she sat in front of the pod's spare climate furnace. Beside that, a mound of blackened... something was piles almost as high as the steel fusion incinerator itself. She was staring at its front panel expectantly, as if something was going to happen.

"Pardon me, mistress, but what are you doing?"

Trill glanced up at the medical droid, her face covered in smudges of various colors and her hands just as messy. There were bowls in her lap and other containers near her feet. "Oh, hi Toob. I'm baking a cake."

The droid stood there, its processors trying to cope with the logic fallacies of baking acake on an alien world with no proper ingredients or utensils.

"In a fusion reactor?"


"With ground up random plants?"


"And dinosaur eggs?"

She smiled. "Right again."

Toob walked away slowly, leaving the mad woman to her delusions. If the big pile of burned matter beside the incinerator was what he thought it was, she had been at this for some time with no success. By the time he got to the bottom of the hill, a question forced itself to be asked.

"Mistress, why are you baking a cake?"

Trill called out over her shoulder, "Because it's our one month anniversary on this rock... I think." She kept staring at the fusion cell's main window, watching the makeshift cake pan inside for signs of scorching.

Toob could at least process that answer. Organics tended to commemorate odd holidays by eating unusual things. It wasn't a practice he understood but his digestive database contained the knowledge that around chosen dates of the galactic year, certain intestinal and stomach ailments became more prevalent. Humans ate too much animal flesh, Twi'leks ingested enough ryll to kill a gundark and Wookiees swallowed rocks. None of it made any sense but at least there was a precedent for the odd behavior.

"So you are celebrating the dodecatennial date of our forced captivity?"

She nodded. "So far, all correct."

He started walking away farther. Trill's increasingly strange actions were beginning to worry him in more than just a clinical sense. Before he could completely vacate the area, he found himself compelled to ask just one more thing.


"Yes, Toob?"

"After you manage to construct and bake a suitable confection, what do you intend to do?"

Trill laughed deeply and waved in his direction. "Silly 'bot... What else? I have to make icing!"

The medical droid started walking faster. There was a curved panel of the pod nearby and he suddenly felt a sincere need to hammer it flat with his cranial casing...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Day... sometime after the last one...

Toob was much happier with the current landing zone. The ground was stable, it was high enough up that no significant predators were present and the local flora was both abundant and rich in the minerals and chemical properties he required for proper synthesis.

His skill set included some basic meal preparation and although his human patient did not much appreciate a mostly vegetable diet, he was at least capable of keeping her well nourished. A few slain prey animals provided both necessary protein and a way for Trillinae to work off her frustrations. He had also noted her growing proficiency with so-called "primitive" implements of violence.

He called them implements of violence; Trill had other names for them. Her engine-flange axe was named Beylan, a bad pun considering Beylan was known as the best slicer on the outer rim. The axe wasn't exactly a computer component but it did slice pretty well. Titanium engine casings had to be good for something once they rupture, after all.

Her knife, a worked piece of iridium welded to a spanner handle, was Keth-Keth. Like the jawa of the same name, it was small, abrasive and often did little more than annoy whatever it came into contact with. However, also like the jawa, it proved invaluable when nothing else was at hand. She always remembered the midget's catch phrase when she killed something with it. "Whatever I can reach, you can't afford to lose."

Lastly, her bow - Mil. It was always at hand, ready to help her take something down or bail her ass out of a fight too big for her to handle alone... just like her sister. This was the longest she'd ever been apart from Millinae and the separation was starting to show. Darrus had always said there was a bond of the Force between them, one that strengthened both siblings.

She wasn't sure she believed that but she was feeling pretty damn weak by herself now, light years from her sister or anyone else. All she had was Toob, not that she wasn't grateful for his electronic company. Without him, she'd probably already be dead. And her baby...

That always brought her out of her depressive funks. She wasn't just here for herself; she had to press on for her lovely little parasite.

With the way it constantly made her brood, always made her dwell on dark thoughts and depressing realities, she was pretty sure it was Jeht's. Only a child of Ol' Dark Eyes could be both an utter blessing and a complete wet blanket at the same time.

That made her chuckle. Out here, she needed all the funny she could get. Between her own inner monologues and lizard-rat sniping, there was precious little entertainment on this big green rock. And the lizard-rats were learning to avoid her so they weren't as amusing any more. Now, each one was a 50-50 shot at a wasted arrow or dinner; that was too serious a matter to take lightly. If she missed her one and only shot at the quick little things, she would go hungry that night. Enough failures in a row and she would starve...

"Hey!" she shouted as she thwapped her stomach. "Cut it out, you morose little tummy-leech!"

Trill shook her head and snapped off a shot at the running shape startled into flight by her outburst. Her arrow flew true, guided by a moment of concentration. Force or not, she was getting pretty damn good at putting a length of steel rod wherever she wanted it to go. Its sharpened tip impaled the scaly rodent, pinning it to the grassy earth.

"There! See that, munchkin! I am NOT gonna starve."

Walking over, she pried the arrow out of the ground, taking a good long look at the dead critter. Its scaled hide was covered in warts, its teeth and claws were yellow and chipped and its eyes were leaking blood from the impact of her killing shot. Its mouth, lolling wide open, issued a dying breath that could stop a rancor.

Trill winced at the sight of it. "On second thought... maybe I'll just have a salad tonight."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

<--- Rules Update - 2B1B (Toob) --->

Trillinae's faithful (and much put upon) medical droid, Toob has been through a number of scrapes while serving his current mistress. While he was no stranger to peril before, working as he did for a band of mercenaries on the Outer Rim, his time with Trill has been far more dangerous. Blown apart several times, Toob is one dismantling away from suggesting that he be fitted with snap-on joints for ease of reconstruction.

2B1B (Toob): Diplomat 2/Tech Specialist 3; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Defense 12 (+2 armor); Spd. 10m, VP/WP 12/13; Atk +3 (1d6 damage, laser scalpel) melee, +3 (2d6 damage, internal blaster in head) ranged; SQ Skill Speciality (Treat Injury), Synthesize Chemical; SV Fort 2 Ref 3 Will 7; SZ M; Rep 1; Str 10 Dex 10 Con 13 Int 18 Wis 11 Cha 12.
Equipment: Improved sensor package, translator unit (DC 5), recording unit (audio), vocabulator, weapon mount (sporting blaster, head) x2, masterwork medkit (reusable), chem synthesizer, heuristic processor
Skills: Appraise +9, Bluff +5, Computer Use +11, Diplomacy +5, Forgery +10, Gather Information +7, Knowledge (medical) +9, Listen +7, Move Silently +2, Repair +5, Search +8, Spot +8, Treat Injury +15.
Feats: Skill Emphasis (Treat Injury), Skill Emphasis (Computer Use), Weapon Group Proficiency (simple weapons), Weapon Group Proficiency (blaster pistols).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Day... whatever.

She had been sulking long enough. It was time for him to do something about it.

Toob gathered his digital courage and made his way into the back of the pod where his Mistress had been holed up for some time. The privacy door was closed but, due to the violence of the crash, could no longer lock.

"Mistress? I have conducted a series of repairs to our flight systems utilizing the escape vehicle's internal schematics. I believe this vehicle might actually convey us a considerable distance this time."

There was no immediate reply. Only the sound of breathing and the shifting of thermal blankets could be heard beyond the door.

"Please, Mistress. I do not think this precipice is entirely safe. My examination of our surroundings earlier leads me to believe the ground beneath us is inherently unstable." He did not add the rest of the sentence, "...much like yourself."

Again, there was nothing. The motion he could hear indicated she was conscious and he had no reason to suspect her incapable of hearing him. She was therefore choosing not to respond, even now that a present danger had been indicated. As a medical droid, he was well versed in every aspect of organic beings but, for all his knowledge he could not and would not presume to say he understood them. This particular organic was, without question, the least understandable of them all.

His files had led him to believe that pregnancy was capable of causing behavioral anomalies in female humanoid species. These changes had a range of severity from mild to radical, with most human and near-human females falling closer to the mild end of the spectrum. Toob was tempted to permanently rename the "radical" category of behavior shift to Trillinae, but such acts of pique were beneath a professional droid of his caliber.


As it was, he had not been bluffing about the instability of their current landing site. There was genuine cause for concern. He was incapable of piloting the pod with any degree of skill and, damaged and complex as it was now, this vehicle needed a steady, expert hand to guide it. It needed Trillinae and one way or the other, he had to convince her to come out of her "cave".

"Mistress, if you are still concerned over your unprovoked attack upon my person, I assure you that I am undamaged and do not reserve any umbrage regarding the incident."

Still nothing.

"Mistress, you require a number of medical boosters and vaccinations. I suggest we try to find herbal approximations I can use to synthesize the needed chemical components. Perhaps our next landing zone will contain them?"

Utter silence.

"Mistress, there are a number of negative factors regarding our current situation and your present state of mental health. I highly recommend you extricate yourself from this chamber and pilot us to a more stable location. Then we can discuss how best to improve our situation. Agreed?"

There was still no answer. Just more vague motion and breathing. The latter had increased slightly, indicating that Trillinae was moving inside the small room, but she was making no efforts to come to the door or answer him in any way.

"Mistress, I must insist that you respond to my queries. I am your medical counterpart and I have expressed grave concerns regarding your physical and mental well being."

More motion. More breathing. No answers.

Despite himself, Toob clenched his servo hands. This was becoming intolerable. he was not truly programmed with a temper but as a heuristic computational robot, it was possible for him to learn one. Before speaking again, he nearly doubled the volume output on his speaker.


The door opened and Trillinae came out, dressed only in a bed robe and a thick towel. A set of headphones perched over the arch of both ears, a faint music audible from them as she moved past him with a relaxed smile.

"Sorry about that, Toob. I was just taking a long soak and listening to the same five songs on infinite track." She puttered past him, checking various welding joints on her way to the cockpit chair.

"Hey, nice work on these. Did you do these repairs? Not bad at all." She settled into the seat, strapping in and starting her pre-flight.

"I was just thinking, I've sulked long enough. How about we get this big bucket into the sky and see if we can't find somewhere safer to put down? I really don't like the looks of this cliff side. Just doesn't seem safe, you know?"

Pre-flight finished, Trill pulled back on the engine throttle and brought up the pod's power systems. As she idled its hovering jets, bringing the craft slowly up into the air, she glanced back and asked sweetly, "Oh, I thought I heard your voice a minute ago. Did you want something, Toob?"

The medical droid was quite incapable of answering her, as he was repeatedly slamming his head cowling into the nearest bulkhead....

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Day Eleven

Mood swings.

What had caused fifty pounds of leftover seafood to go spoiled because someone didn't feel like packaging it?

Mood swings.

What was responsible for the new dent in Toob's headplate after one of his examination needles pushed into someone's arm a little too far?

Mood swings.

What was behind the ten new craters and mile long scorch trails through this planet's primordial jungle because someone was feeling too stubborn to stop and make incremental repairs to the flight pod?

Mood swings.

What caused a reasonable sane woman to break down into an hour long sobbing fit because someone's rumpled flight jacket reminded her of her sister?

Mood swings.

What was going to drive the creation of the first tree-based hyperspace engine because someone would go to any lengths to get some bloody CHOCOLATE?!?!?

Mood swings.

Trill laid back on a warm rock, pitching smaller stones into the nearby lake. "Toob?"

The medical droid came closer, still trying to stay out of arm's reach in case his Mistress' current goal was to give him a matching fold in his cranial case.

"Am I really this pathetic? I mean, have I always been this out of control? If Mill were here, she'd never let me hear the end of it."

"Perhaps, Mistress, your behavior is indicative of how your hormonal balance is altered by the state of pregnancy. My files indicate that the effect varies between races and even within the same species."

She sighed, not really looking at the robot, and tossed what appeared to be her last rock into the water. It didn't skip, it didn't hop, it didn't even really arch. It just went in with an explosion of droplets all around it - a resounding SPLUSH. Even that did not bring a smile to her face. Nothing did these days. Nothing except the thought of going home... wherever home was these days.

"You think I should try the chemical therapy you suggested a while ago? You don't think it would hurt the infant?" Her voice was calm, almost detached.

Toob came a little closer, concern overriding self-preservation. "Yes, Mistress. I believe it would be best for your state of mind and ability to function under this world's adverse conditions if we attempt the treatment."

She immediately turned on Toob, glaring angrily. "Oh! So you think I'm out of control?! You think you need to drug me?! Is that it? I don't think so, metal head!" Her hand whipped out, throwing a rock she'd been concealing in her grasp. It ricocheted off his head with a loud CLANG! and shattered into pieces.

A second later, her face fell into surprise and regret. "Oh Toob! I'm sorry! I'm so....!" She turned and ran back to the pod, bawling and stammering incoherent words in a few different languages.

The medical droid watched her go, sensors still reeling from the impact. Once they settled out, he issued a soft, metallic sigh and trundled slowly after her.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Day Ten

Blasters were nice, but right now Trill was far happier that she had a knife. As long as she could cut faster than she was running out of air, all would be well. Otherwise...

She knew better than to waste time asking herself how she got into these situations. She knew how she'd gotten into this; she'd relaxed long enough to try and take a bath. The pond had looked tame enough and Toob said its chemical balance was acceptable. So, given it had been nearly two weeks since she'd been anything approaching clean, it was definitely bath time. Just her, a scrub pad from the first aid kit, and some soap mixture Toob created in his dispenser.

Yep, just her, those things, and a fish-thing big enough to swallow a landspeeder.

Five minutes into her soak, the sun seemed to pass behind a cloud. The shadow on the water was immense, so she'd looked up to see how bad the weather was about to be. The forecast wasn't hopeful.

Partly obscured, with a 100% chance of gigantic fish in the late afternoon.


Now she was in the belly of the beast, literally. Her blaster was on the shore, since its makeshift construction barely worked when it was dry; waterproofing had not been an option. Still, common sense had dictated taking a knife with her, something she was really, really grateful for now. An airtight vibration cutter with a long blade served the purpose well.

Right now, its purpose was to get her through the stomach of this damned pond whale before her lungs gave out. It was going to be a close race.

Hack. Her hands were moving feverishly, with her right one slashing and her left pulling apart the fresh incision and dragging her a few inches closer to freedom.

Slash. The oils and ichors of the fish's digestive tract coated her as the stomach membrane finally gave way. Now she was in its guts, with thick, rope-like cords of dense flesh between her and escape. Lovely.

Hack. Each strand she cut through sprayed half-digested pond rot all over her. Bugs, mud, and unidentifiable slime coated Trill from head to toe. Even holding her breath, she could smell the foul reek inside this beast. Smell it, and desperately wish she couldn't.

Slash. The blade was gumming up, cutting intermittently as its edge ground to a halt. Now she had to saw with the weapon; its vibro motor was shot. Even though it was a sealed system, the gore caking along the blade had proven too much for the poor thing. All she could do now was try to force it through the fish's rigid hide, every muscle screaming from the effort.

Hack. As her oxygen started to run very, very thin, Trill became desperate enough to try something she normally avoided like a Kessel Spicelung Plague. She stole a few precious seconds and reached out to the Force. Darrus had taught her that the power of the Universe flowed through all living things. Right now, "living" was the important part, since she wouldn't qualify for that status in another few seconds.

He'd also taught her that what she was about to try should never be used on a living creature, as that kind of aggression was a path to the Dark Side.

Well... tough.

In her last moment of urgent focus, Trillinae released all her power forward in as forceful a wave as she could. All she wanted was out.

Out, out, out, out, out, OUT!


On shore, all Toob could see was a massive fish, writhing in pain and rolling over onto its wide, pale underside. The body of the beast distended violently as its mouth gaped. Then, its stomach bubbled for a moment...

...and exploded. A geyser of chunky seafood burst forth, coating the medical droid, several feet of bank all around it, and extending out in a cone more than a hundred meters long. In the middle of the meat storm, Toob's mistress hurtled through the air and landed in the branches of a wide jungle tree.

She hit the foliage, smacked off the trunk, and groaned, "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ouch. Ow," breaking the tree's limbs all the way to the hard ground below.

Hastening over to her nearly unconscious form, Toob scanned Trill and saw that while she was badly bruised, she was not directly or direly injured. Crouching as far as its legs would allow, Toob reached to help his mistress to her feet. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yeah," muttered Trill painfully. "Mix up a fish fry."

Then, after catching her breath, "It's my turn."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Day Nine

Trillinae had earned herself a new Tarasin name.

She was now, "The Death of Trees".

Cussing, she climbed out of the pod and took another pass at pulling broken limbs and leaves off its front end. With the air intake jammed up like this, she couldn't fly very far or get much lift what what little engine power she had in this rust bucket.

Of course, thrust wasn't really the problem. The pod steered like a Corellian corpa, offered almost no visibility and had no working navigation systems, and its landing gear consisted of picking somewhere soft to touch down and praying the damned thing didn't roll too much. She had screaming headache, the pod was looking worse than normal, and she was leaving a trail of deforestation behind her.

Between the shattered tree trunks and the spreading fires, she wasn't accomplishing much beyond adding to her kill totals. At this rate, she'd run out of room on the outside of her makeshift craft for all the deciduous stamps. Not that green paint would last very long with the way she was rampaging through the forest.

It was actually sort of amusing. Even abandoned and alone, she was managing to have a real "impact" on this alien world. It was a lame joke to be sure, but it counted as high comedy right now. Toob didn't have a locatable sense of humor, so she had to depend on herself for amusement.

Still chuckling, she fixed the flaps around the pod's engines again and climbed inside. Each flight, and flight was a generous term for the pathetic hops this little ball of metal and spit kept making, lasted about two minutes and took nearly half an hour to repair. Going at full speed like this, Trill estimated she would reach somewhere useful in say... her baby's 5th birthday. This was beyond pathetic.

At this point, she'd gladly fly a Tug rather than sit behind the control stick of this bowling ball with ailerons. The thought of taking off again was almost enough to make her nauseous. Just the idea of powering the pod up again felt... so....

Before she knew it, Trill was running to the pod's door and emptying a half day's raptor rations into the scorched crater outside. Down on her knees, gasping for breath, she came to the instant conclusion that dinosaur tasted far better the first time one ate it. Ewwww.

A metal hand settled on her shoulder as she heaved again. And again. "What... what's wrong with me, Toob?" she managed to gurgle out between attempts to spit up her own toes.

"Congratulations, Mistress. You are experiencing motion sickness."

There were no words to describe the hate in her eyes as she looked savagely back at her medical droid. "Congratulations?!?" She spit a mouthful of something foul and reached for the canteen Toob offered. "This is NOT a good thing."

"But it is, Mistress. Without proper diagnostic materials, my ability to monitor your pregnancy is limited. Your nausea is a sign that everything is proceeding properly. If you had miscarried or if there were hormonal imbalances, you would not likely be so afflicted."

She narrowed her eyes. It was against her hedonistic nature to believe that anything so nasty could be a good thing, but the droid made sense. Still, maybe the universe could bless her just a little bit less violently in the future? Please?

"Okay, Toob. I'll buy that. Damn tummy grub. Sooner it's out, the better." She groused all the way back to the pilot's chair. "Strap in; we are gonna try that again. And if my parasite wants to survive the next few months, it damn well better let me keep something down. Bloody useless lump of goo."

She said it, but she didn't mean it. Once Trill was sure Toob couldn't see her, she put her hands over her stomach and closed her eyes. Under her breath, she murmured a prayer to whatever out there might hear her.

Trill's life was damn hard right now, but it wasn't just hers any more. No matter what happened, she had to survive. Nothing else mattered. Nothing at all...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Day Eight

"You are in excellent condition, all things considered, Mistress."

Trill relaxed after hearing Toob's diagnosis. She'd been getting short of breath and slight pains in her limbs for the last few days. On an alien world, illness was a chief concern even for someone struggling to find enough food to eat or shelter. It didn't do any good to be warm and fed if a bizarre virus ravaged your body while you were comfortable.

"So there's nothing wrong?"

The droid shook its chrome head slightly and raised a hypodermic attachment. "Negative, Mistress. You have borderline malnutrition, your blood work shows multiple deficiencies, and your pregnancy is putting your immune system under serious stress. You are in excellent shape considering your circumstances, but you are far from being in optimal health."

As Toob spoke, he injected Trill with something orange. She looked down at the syringe, could not immediately identify the substance, and tapped him on the thick plate over his forehead.

"What was that little cocktail?"

"Not an incorrect analogy. It is indeed a mixture of different components, including a vitamin and mineral supplement, a broad spectrum antibiotic, a pair of high-scale antivirals, and a..."

Trill chuckled and tapped him again. "It's all right, Toob. I don't need an ingredients list. As long as they'll help, you can do whatever you need." The droid nodded and walked back to the supply cabinet to replenish his chemical stocks. Trillinae watched him for a moment, a sudden concern creeping in. "Hey, Toob?"

"Yes, Mistress?"

She glanced at the meager-looking pantry. "How are we doing on medical supplies?"

Toob sounded almost apologetic as he replied, "Not very well, I am afraid. I can maintain your health barring injury until after delivery with what I have, but these materials will not allow me to properly care for you and an infant for very long. I estimate less than a year of useful supplies remain, and that is with me fabricating what I can from the local flora."

She sighed; it was better than she'd feared but still dire. If they didn't gain either escape from this world or some mobility around it soon, there's be nothing for them here once the baby came. She could hunt now, but for how much longer? Who was going to defend them when she was unable to fend for herself?

"We have to get to a more defensible position." All her training with Darrus hadn't gone to waste. While he was studying tactical readouts and learning soldiering from his troopers, she'd been listening closely. She might not have been some great General, but she knew a bad location when she saw one. Right now, she could see one all around her. "If we stay here, the babe and I won't last very long."

"I regretfully concur."

"Don't worry, Toob. You're a great help. You've got nothing to be sorry for." She stood up and headed back over to the tool storage. She'd cannibalized some of them for the makeshift blaster rifle over her shoulder, but there was still a lot left. "Toob, you have any mechanical training?"

"Negative, Mistress. I mentioned before that my specialty is human and near-human physiology. I am not a repair droid, unless bandaging a wound could be considered an organic repair."

She chuckled again. "I suppose it can, Toob, but you're right. That doesn't help much." Picking up a spanner she'd already learned could fit the retaining bolts on the outside of the pod. "Think you could act as an extra set of hands, though?"

"I will gladly assist in any operation you wish to perform, even if the subject is not one I would normally consider a patient."

She smiled and handed him the spanner, hefting the rest of the tool caddy. "Good! Because we need this pod up and functional again." They headed outside, going down the ramp and around to the landing thrusters.

"If you will pardon the question, Mistress; why do you wish to repair the pod? It is not likely we will ever need to escape from another vessel with it."

That caught Trill off-guard, though after a moment she understood why Toob couldn't imagine what she was trying to do here. Droids, for all their heuristic processing power, still had trouble with nonlinear thought. To the medical bot, an escape pod was just an escape pod. It had one purpose and since its job was done, the pod held no meaning to Toob any longer.

To Trill, this hunk of metal was a lot more than just the way she survived crashing here. With a little work and a lot of luck, it could be something much greater than an escape pod. "I don't just want to repair this thing, Toob. I want to fly it out of here. A pod has engines, maneuvering jets, and directional fins. I think we can turn it into a shuttle of sorts."

That thought obviously took a while for Toob to process. As he stood there, lights blinking, she used him to hold an access panel open. The wiring inside was scrambled, but she was pretty sure it could be fixed.

"Mistress? The pod's integrity is jeopardized. We cannot take it into space and even if we could, it has nothing approaching sub-light speed."

Trill grinned. The droid might be a medical genius, but it wasn't much of a creative thinker.
"Silly, I don't want to take it out of the atmosphere. I'm going to slave its landing jets into a lower-burn, high thrust engine. It's got plenty of power; I think we can use it to fly around on this rock ball."

Now Toob looked to be getting her plan. "I see. If we can travel from place to place without being on foot, we can avoid many hazards and possibly locate better resources?"

She beamed. "Exactly! We can also find a safe place to hole up when it's time to deliver. That way, we can be safe and I don't offer some big lizard dinner and an appetizer."

"A macabre piece of humor, Mistress, but not wholly inaccurate."

"Glad you approve. Now hand me the torque adjuster."

Toob walked over to the tool kit, reached in, and sifted through the various pieces of metal and electronics inside. After a few minutes, he turned his impassive blue-light eyes to Trill and asked, "Pardon the question, but what is a torque adjuster?"

She thumped her head against the side of the pod and sighed again.

"This is going to take a while..."

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Day Seven

"Ghgestfhathel juktavashi olgatanek!"

Trill tilted her head and looked at Toob. "Excuse me?"

The lights in her medical droid's severed head flickered twice, eventually coming fully on and remaining steady for more than a minute. Its vocabulator unit, a microphone-like mask she'd only just attached to its face, crackled slightly. A spark flew out of the side as smoke wafted up from its grill slits.

"Vish vish nanna kovortani. Ulak! Aganwei."

Trill shook her head. "Something's not right here. Maybe I wired the thing in upside down?" She was honestly lost; robotics was so very not her field. Trying to put a droid together out of more parts than a razor cat had teeth was a challenge for a real techie. For someone like her, she might as well have been shoot gnats out of the air with a carbine. This was just never going to work. Why did she always have to be so useless? Yelling in frustration, she slammed Toob's head against the floor of the pod.

A burst of static came out of its mask. "Ah, that is much better, Mistress. My language recognition circuit was loose. That seems to have tightened it." His eyes flickered again.

Trill laughed and hugged the med-bot's head. Finally, someone to talk too! "Toob, you're alive! Well, sort of!"

More static. "Well, Mistress, yes in a manner of speaking. I do seem to be functional again. I appear to have... Where is my body?"

Trill sighed and turned his head so that he could see the nearby crash couch and the tangled mass of limbs and torso resting there. "I am working of that, Toob. You see..."

"I do indeed see! And vision is my only useful function right now! My body is in a terrible state of disrepair. What happened to me?!"

With a low sigh, she put Toob's head down next to her and breathed in deep. All in one long run-on sentence, she explained everything from the crash to the raptor attack and then some. She didn't stop talking until the air was completely gone from her lungs. She'd been alone for days now; rambling was a welcome relief from the silence.

"I think I made all that out, Mistress. Might I offer a suggestion?"

"Anything! I am at wit's end trying to figure all this out."

Toob's eyes dimmed for a moment, a sign that he was accessing his memory banks. Since most of them were in his torso and as such unreachable, he had to be searching the hard storage in his cranial computer. Trill didn't know robotics worth a mynock's toss but she did know computers. He was as functional in that department as she could make him.

"If you will follow my suggestions, I can use my diagnostic program to guide you in my reconstruction."

She looked thrilled. "Really? You can do that? I was worried your monitoring routines were in your chest. I couldn't really tell what you had up here." As she spoke, she tapped his head with a spanner.

The eyes flickered wildly and for a moment, Trillinae was worried she'd knocked something loose again. Then, "There is not much in my head storage, but my main programs are all intact and my system checks are online. I believe that we can work together to repair me, Mistress."

"Fantastic, Toob! Let's get started." Trill picked him up, carried him over to the mass of wires and pistons that had, until she'd gotten to them with a soldering laser and a socket wrench, been his arms and legs. Now they were like something from a Jawa's nightmare. Toob's tact protocols, which were fortunately active, kept him from commenting.

Trill, oblivious to her droid's holding his none-existent tongue, settled down to work. "You know what? I think I am getting better at this. Here's a part I can fix!"