Monday, July 7, 2008


Months had passed now. Though she was now far beyond being able to hide her condition, Trill seemed to be one of those women blessed by a very specific gift of heredity - active pregnancy. Even though she was getting irritated at moving around this persistent tummy of hers, she was still capable of virtually everything she could do before.

Fortunately, that included hunting. Though she couldn't wear some of her clothes any longer, especially her armor, she had managed to compensate for that loss with Toob's help. His medical skills included improvisation at materials creation, programming he had managed to parley into making her clothing.

The stolid droid had tried to explain it once, something about extending his ability to weave bandages out of local plant life into making larger sections of cloth. From there, crafting garments was a logical outgrowth of his heuristic... blah blah... and his intrinsic... snore.

Though his storytelling left a lot to be desired, Trill had do admit his fashion sense wasn't bad. She wouldn't be dazzling any Coruscanti runways any time soon, especially not with her beloved belly grub here, but this half robe and limb-wraps outfit was really comfortable. It held lots of belts and straps for all her gear and kept her both protected and free to move. Panels of dinosaur hide offered protection as well. It was feral... but functional.

She loped through the fallen tree trunks, hands and feet and springing over what she could not dash under. Every step of the way, Rip was right there at her side.

Speaking of feral, Rip was a prime example. It seemed she had another gift she'd never known about. This one was courtesy of the Force, not genetics. Her lessons with the holocron had continued, every day as its hologramatic taskmaster insisted. In one of them, she had discovered why this overgrown eating machine liked her.

It was a subtle form of mind trick, a special talent that apparently few Jedi possessed. Instead of directly influencing the will, it acted on the most basal instincts and emotional centers of the brain. Her particular skill was a form that worked best on animals. Even without knowing she could, Trill had affected this raptor in a simple, permanent way. As far as its limited mind could perceive she was a friend, another of its kind to be admired and protected.

Having an razor clawed guardian beast was great to be sure, but there has been a few odd side effects. Rip, as she'd come to call it because of its nervous habit of toe-slashing leaves down off of branches and biting at them as they fell, insisted on snuggling at night. She did not really mind that part, but there were moments when half a ton of snoring was... awkward.

And of course his habit of leaving presents was interesting to say the least. Sometimes it was just odd, like the occasional nibbled tree branch or unidentifiable gnawed bone. Other times, it was actually useful. Severed animal parts made for good eating if they were fresh enough.

And then, of course, there was the droid arm.

She and Toob had talked that over for days now. It was not one of his and it could not have come from the pod. Logically, that meant only one thing. What worried them both was the condition of the arm itself.

Well, aside from the chewed part.

There was no corrosion, no sign of age. If it was a cast off from an old crash, as was Trill's first suspicion, it would have been in far worse shape. Its wires were free of rust, their plastic coatings clean and still elastic even at the rent edges. The arm was new. That meant the droid it came from also had to be new.

But if that was the case, why hadn't it announced itself? Most classes of droid were programmed to see out sentients in case of emergencies. If it was mauled by Rip, it should have come out of hiding for repairs or raised an alarm.

That was assuming it was in any shape to do so, of course. Trill and Toob had covered a lot of ground since finding the arm, all to no avail. No other wreckage. No other pieces. It had vanished completely, disappearing into the jungle without a trace. This was the reason for her morning runs ranging so far out now. She was sweeping, looking in expanding circles for the armless droid. She had been doing this for days now with no luck...

...until today. As Trill came down off a tree trunk to the edge of a small valley, she stopped short and brought her hand to her mouth. "Oh, frack!"

There, stretched out and twisted under the rising sun, dozens of serpentine bodies lay rotting in their skins. Burned holes riddled their bodies, young and aged alike, sections of their corpses hacked away or dissolved by pools of hideously caustic acid. It was death, unnatural carnage as far as her wide eyes could see.

That's when it occurred to her that there was one class of droid that would not seek out help - battle droids. And if this was any indication, there was one out here right now. A battle droid that was damaged, hidden and obviously still lethal.

"Well this just keeps getting better..."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hunting Season

It slipped through the low foliage of the dense jungle, a black steel sphere with folded limbs. Held aloft on bursts of gravity, it was as silent as it was deft. No trace of its passage was left behind. No tracks or smoke, no signs of its approach to startle its prey.

It was a stalker droid, elegant in its design and efficient at its sole purpose - assassination.

Programmed to hunt and kill, the device had all the tools needed to accomplish its goal. Its sensory array was second to none, incredibly small but amazingly powerful. Sonic, motion, heat and even pressure sensors were placed around its body, enabling data collection from all directions. There was a blaster built into its chassis, a pair of dart launchers in its lateral cowling and four manipulator arms equipped with retractable, vibrating blades.

As advanced as it was, there was nothing special about its mundane equipment, nothing that would visually set it apart from a thousand other illegal combat models. What made this droid truly unique was not its weapons or its function. Rather, this droid was singular in its class because of the nature of its prey.

This model of stalker, dubbed Evil Eye, was a modified DarkEye probe, and it was built specifically to kill Jedi.

Dangerous quarry called for an equally dangerous hunter. The Evil Eye fulfilled this role well, using a state of the art detection grid to sense the eddies in the Force that surrounded those capable of using its mysterious abilities. This detection system was highly experimental and relied on an organic interface deep within its core - a small piece of living cerebral tissue sensitive to the Force.

In this way, the relentless stalker could track its prey no matter where it tried to run and sense its use during combat engagements. This gave it an almost preternatural ability to react to Force-wielding opponents, a great advantage in battle against the Jedi.

Lastly, its hull has a bonded shell of neosteel and cortosis weave. Strong enough to repel small arms fire and able to withstand a direct hit from a lightsaber, the Evil Eye could survive heated combat with a trained Jedi long enough to inflict serious or lethal injuries. Few droids could claim any kind of viability against such opponents but with its array of tricks and defenses, there were few Jedi in the galaxy safe from its pursuit.

Now it was on this Outer Rim world, a system isolated enough that the planet had only a stellar code for a name. It had been dispatched as part of a scouring project, a sweep of outlying systems where Jedi might flee the hand of the new Galactic Empire. Drawn to this world after a passing sensor ship detected a metallic mass on an otherwise uncolonized world, it was fulfilling its directives.




It was deep in the commission of its first directive now, tracking the passage of a small vessel across this overgrown world by means of its dirty particle emissions. The vehicle was not very efficient; ion signatures were usually gone in a matter of hours. Whatever ship was lurking on this planet, it was either damaged or badly built Either way, its trail was much longer lasting and thus easy to detect.

As its magnetic sensors warmed it that it was approaching the vessel in question, it brought up its stealth systems and vanished from sight. This invisibility cloak was not perfect; it left a slight 'haze' around the droid while it was active. At a distance, though, the stealth field was quite effective.

Hovering slowly through the undergrowth, the Evil Eye opened the port on its chest blaster and brought up its telescopic sight. Small impulses of its repulsors took it top the very edge of the tree line where, last the green barrier, a rocky outcropping surrounded a large, barren hill. There, parked in the shadow of the the small peak, a converted escape pod rested on makeshift landing gear.

After a quick visual scan revealed no one on the site, the Evil Eye switched to thermal optics. The heat scan showed one living humanoid occupant neat the middle of the craft, prostrate, likely asleep. From this position in the trees, it could just wait. Sooner or later, the occupant would step out of the sheltering vessel and right into its gunsights...

...but waiting was not on the mind of the creature that had been stalking the droid for the last few hundred yards. A very efficient killer in its own right, the nycaraptor was a four foot tall, seven foot long scaled killing machine drawn here by the scent of recent meals around the pod and kept around by the scraps fed to it by the strange two-legged creature inside.

Now there was some strange intruder in its hunting territory. The sauroid was not sure what this thing or why it could no longer see it very well but it still had a scent and it seemed to want to linger nearby. This could not be tolerated. There was, of course, only one thing to do.

The Evil Eye had been tracking the dinosaur for several minutes but, on a planet this populous, the indigenous life had been determined a negligible threat. The droid considered the raptor to be just another native pest, unworthy of notice. Even as it crept closer, the Evil Eye remained focused on the escape pod, focusing its blaster targeting on the craft's only visible door. The overgrown lizard was, in its estimation, no significant threat.

That was a mistake.


The next morning, when Trill came outside to put the night's remnants in the little metal dish she'd set aside for her strange 'pet', she almost tripped over something. There, just outside the pod door, there was a metal manipulator arm with teeth marks in its plating. Nearby, a proud looking raptor with a burn mark down its side paced expectantly by its bowl.

"Hey, Toob?" She said, picking up the bent arm and staring at it. "Did you lose something?"


A long way off, resting almost completely powered down in the hollow of a dead tree, the Evil Eye waited while its self-repair systems toiled to get it functional again. Its core computer, unable to process much beyond basic system needs, managed to run a single command override.

-=[ targetpriority change: downgrade 'Jedi' ]=-
-=[ targetpriority change: exterminate reptilians ]=-

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Passage of Three Months

Jedi training, it had to be said, was some of the most rigorous and intensive instruction in the known universe. Some Mandaloreans would balk at the dedication it required. Even Clone Troopers had been known to falter keeping up with the dedication and pace demanded of padawans during just the first stages of their lessons.

For an increasingly pregnant woman with a long history of well-practiced hedonism, this was Hell.

Every day, it was the same. Up at dawn. Not around dawn, not near dawn. AT dawn, the holocron would turn on, hover to wherever Trillinae was and begin blaring an awakening song drawn from its vast archive she could only assume was labeled "Music to Annoy Corellians" somewhere in its evil little memory banks.

In any case, that harsh rising would be followed by a set of stretches and limbering exercises that lasted thirty minutes. Nothing too strenuous, at least not before breakfast. Toob was stretched to his culinary limits creating the menu the holocron demanded but somehow, every meal, the droid succeeded. It probably helped that while there were stringent nutritional requirements, there were no rules about what the food had to taste like.

Trill already wanted to throw up every morning. The food was not helping.

Then there was the run.

The run.

A Jedi run was not like a normal job or hike. It accomplished exactly the same nothing; you started in one place, made a big circuit around whatever you happened to be near and ended up exactly where you were when you began. The difference was that a normal runner avoided obstacles. A Jedi made them part of the exercise.

The first month, this was a serious problem and the hovering metal taskmaster just had to cope with Trill using mundane ways of getting around fallen logs, wide cravasses and rushing streams.

Eventuially though, the holocron's instructions began to take hold. It was not always possible but sometimes she was able to make that jump or move that log, all with the power of her mind and her immense irritation at having to do so. "This," she would tell the metal slavedriver, "is the Pissed Off side of the Force."

After the run each day would be time for private meditation. The holocron would power down after giving her a topic to contemplate and she would wander off to do anything other than sit and think. Play solitaire Sabacc, work on the pod, scream at trees. Nap. Nap was a big one.

She liked naps.

After private reflection time came sparring, her second favorite part of the day. The way she saw it, this was when she got to use her lightsaber and try to punish the holocron for being a self-righteous nerf-head. Sadly, the holographic device was equipped with a shield and a low-powered saber of its own, making even scoring a blow basically impossible.

Though she would never admit it, she loved sparring time so much because it was the only time each day she was guaranteed to see Darrus again. The holocron would create his image for her to spar with, essentially taking the place of his hands and fighting with her as he used to do.

It was fun and it was also great exercise. Fighting Darrus was never easy but the holocron also added the element of frustration to the mix. Its saber was fixed with a special crystal, one that changed its energy frequency to something incapacitating rather than lethal. In non-tech speak, every strike hurt like a bitch.



"OW, you fragging metal bantha-humping excuse for a toaster-bot!!!"

Practice, inevitably, led to a resting period or, as Toob called it, mandatory first aid. As thw eeeks wore on, these faded in severity until by the end of three months of training, he usually only had to administer a slight topical analgesic to the worst of the surface burns. She was getting better, avoiding most of the blows. She was even getting in a hit or two.

"I swear, Toob. If it wasn't all I had left of him, I'd take a hammer to that thing when it was sleeping."

"I know, mistress. Please, you need to watch your blood pressure. You do not want to risk injury to the child."

"Bah. This tummy-grub could survive armageddon. It's me I'm worried about."

This conversation would almost always be followed by a period of retching. Morning sickness. Afternoon sickness. Inconvenient-moment-while-leaning-too-close-to-sad-medical-droid sickness.

After the sparring and recovery time, which never felt long enough, more cerebral instruction would fill the rest of whatever was left of the day. History, philosophy, the Jedi Code. A whole lot of things Trill could care less about but had to learn or the lessons would just repeat until she got the holocron's questions right.

By the time each night rolled around and the holocron settled into its base to recharge and rest, she was more than eager to do the same. It was getting harder. Her skills were growing but her body was starting to betray her. Already she was front heavy and felt ponderous. It was such a paradox; she was in the best shape of her life and yet completely encumbered by this beloved little leech inside.

Soon, very soon, the lessons would have to stop. She just could not not keep up this pace.

And if the holocron, if the little surrogate Darrus could not understand that, she'd have to convince it...

...with a rock.