Part 12 - Osmur.   Posted by The Force.Group: 0
Juragga
 player, 215 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Mon 14 Jan 2013
at 16:37
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Juragga kept his place at Shard's flank as if he were held there by invisible string, his teal eyes ahead.  But it took effort not to let them slide towards the shield generator.  This was big.  Very big.  Bigger than them.  His mind was dancing over ideas of sabotage and wondering if they would have an opportunity here.  If they did... if they could damage or even slow down a project this big...

Wouldn't that be worth the cost?
The Force
 GM, 350 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 14 Jan 2013
at 18:16
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
The admiral's laughter, following Shard's witticism, sounds a little forced, and nobody else in the room joins in with it.  Despite the fact that it's much cooler here, in the soon-to-be control centre, the admiral is still sweating.

"The shield would have been fully functional at this stage, but it was decided to spend some time upgrading it from the original specifications.  The projector will be capable of generating spherical shield with a diameter of 175 kilometres, and estimated as able to withstand a sustained bombardment from a light squadron.  We also have a squadron in orbit, to provide further protection in the event of a Rebel attack.  Rebel ships would not be free to initiate such a bombardment."

A holoprojector in the centre of the room flickers to life, then winks off momentarily, before coming back to display... something.

It's a narrow vertical cylinder, partly sheathed in metal, but with a lot of exposed girders.  There is a bulge at the centre, a complex array of metalwork sketching out a spherical chamber.  There is movement around it, like a swarm of tiny insects.

"Ah... excellent timing.  This is a view of the construction work as it currently stands.  I'm afraid that, at this stage, it doesn't give much idea of the final structure."

One of the insects suddenly flares with blue-white light, and the scale snaps into focus.  Those insects are ships.  The object is huge...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 475 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 15 Jan 2013
at 05:22
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Rhijans' mind boggled, luckily hidden by the expressionless mask of the stormtrooper helmet.  175 kilometers?  For a shield?  That could enclose and protect a huge number of ships...or a single--something.  Whatever it was they were building, it was enormous.  He ran down the list of the various rumored Imperial armaments he'd heard of...the only thing that sounded even close to this was a torpedo sphere, but if he was judging the scale of the structure correctly...

He couldn't know for sure how large, exactly, it would be, because he didn't know the size of the ships around the structure.  They could be single-seat fighters, however, and the thing would still be way beyond the size of what he'd heard described for the torpedo spheres.  At least, I don't THINK they were that big...the description didn't come across as THAT large.  Again, he cursed a lack of solid intel...he wasn't a ship specialist by even the loosest definition of the term, and ships generally fell into four categories for him...fighters, freighters, and small and large warships, which left a lot of room for variance between estimated and actual size.

But, between the shield and the Imperial warships in orbit, the Alliance would be powerless to do anything about whatever was being built, as long as it stayed here.  They'd have better luck sending in suicide missions to try and blow the shield generator on the planet than they would directly attacking whatever it would be protecting.
Shard
 player, 520 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 15 Jan 2013
at 16:41
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
"Given the forces in the area, it seems wise to have taken the time," Shard muses.  "You certainly have the capacity to defeat any Rebel incursion at the moment.  Once the shield is complete...well, that's unimportant until you finish."  She cocks an eyebrow at the holoprojector.  Curious.  A axial shaft within a sphere.  Then the eyebrows almost rise.  Almost, but she stops them at the last instant.

An axial shaft within a huge sphere.

They could dock Star Destroyers in that thing.  What in the Void are they making here?  Suddenly the rumors of the recently destroyed superweapon are far more digestible; the scale on this creation is immense, and why would the Empire be concerned about Rebel attacks if it isn't a war machine of some kind?  "No, it doesn't give a good idea, does it, admiral?"  Reaching out, Shard gestures at the holoproj.  "So overlay the image of the completed structure."
Haarmon Dak
 player, 212 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Wed 16 Jan 2013
at 16:03
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Haarmon followed along, keeping his thoughts and his words to himself. Self-preservation might not be his forte, but even he knew when to keep his mouth shut. Look at that thing, he thought to himself, Look at it!

He needed into that computer. Like, now.
The Force
 GM, 352 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 17 Jan 2013
at 23:09
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
The admiral bows his head, "As you command, Lady Nimadda."  A flick of his right hand, and a tech reaches out to make an adjustment to the projector.  A translucent sphere appears, surrounding the central cylinder.  Then further layers are added, increasing the diameter of the sphere.

Then the growth stops.

The final sphere is marked with a grid of broad lines which divide it into sections.  The sections themselves have a fine grain of smaller sections divided by narrower lines.

The image revolves, and on one side, in what would be the northern hemisphere if this were a world map, is a large, bowl-like depression, cutting through several of the outermost layers, with a comparatively small opening in its centre leading deeper into the sphere.

"As you know, Lady Nimadda, this one is almost eight times larger than the first, at nine hundred kilometres.  The shield generator will be upgraded as construction continues, so that the output can be increased to enclose the growing station."

"We estimate that construction will be completed in less than four years, only twenty percent of the time taken to complete the first one."

Rhijans Thanus
 player, 479 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Fri 18 Jan 2013
at 02:29
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Inside the helmet, Rhijans' face hardened in an impassive mask.  Under different circumstances, with different people, he might be awestruck at the engineering prowess involved in creating a ship...or station...or anything else...that size.  Grim resolve settled over him...if they didn't destroy that thing before it was completed, they might never be able to.  They certainly wouldn't get it done without the loss of thousands, possibly millions of lives.

And they weren't equipped to destroy it, now...they were here to find out what was going on, and report back.  But by the time they reported back, if they didn't do something, the shield generator would be active, and the projector would have the core of that...monstrosity...protected against all the firepower the Alliance could muster in this sector.

Okay, he told himself, resorting back to the analytical processes that had served him so well, thus far.  Objective one, achieved.  We know what's going on here.  Wouldn't hurt to come up with more specifics...but we know enough.  Objective Two and Three, Report our findings and delay work.  Three will have to come before Two, though, if Two is going to be useful to anyone.  So how do we slow this beast down?

He'd stiffened, almost imperceptibly, at the shock of seeing the size of the finished project.  As he began sorting options and ranking priorities, he relaxed.  The armor made either change difficult to notice...but they'd been there, if anyone looking at him knew what to look for.
Haarmon Dak
 player, 216 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Fri 18 Jan 2013
at 13:47
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Haarmon had a plan. At least, he thought he did. It seemed like a good idea. But he'd become painfully aware in the past little while how far plans could drift from reality. Even the really good ones. His eyes darted to each of his team-mates in turn. He would have given a lot to be able to take one of them aside and run his idea past them and see if he was being stupid.

But no dice.

He gritted his teeth and willed himself not to fidget and twitch. Even a dumb kid like him knew that invincible Imperial spies didn't do a lot of fidgeting. Even when stuff was boring.

And he waited.
The Force
 GM, 353 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 21 Jan 2013
at 19:56
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
The admiral continues speaking as graphics flow across the holo image.  "Of course, Osmur is merely the final assembly point.  Most of the components are being constructed elsewhere, and brought in on transports, some of which you will have seen in orbit.  The main weapon focussing array, for example, is being constructed in orbit at Sulust, and the computer cores at Coruscant."

"The next stage in assembly will begin when the cores are delivered and mounted on the central armature.  After that the support structure for the main laser will be attached, along with the weapon's independent power generator."


The admiral seems quite happy to talk about his new toy, even if he does have other duties...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 481 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 22 Jan 2013
at 04:18
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Rhijans began making mental notes...Sullust, Coruscant...Alliance Command would have new reasons to look closely at any system with unusual amounts of traffic.  Of course, they'd need to bring copies of at least some of the plans. Otherwise, the bigwigs planning strategy for the Alliance would dismiss their reports as overblown hysteria, fed by rumors of Imperial superweapons that were too ridiculously large to even exist.

He was sure they would, because prior to seeing the schematics of how this thing was intended to go together, he would have done the same.  The spine of the thing was already up there, its heart was being built somewhere else, and before long, the whole monster would be on the loose.

Their reports would be useful, yes...but some corroborating evidence would give them a lot more credibility.  He shifted his gaze slightly, as the Admiral seemed focused on bragging up his pet project, and looked over at Dak.  The kid was looking like their best bet, when it came to getting word to the Alliance.
Juragga
 player, 219 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Tue 22 Jan 2013
at 05:06
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Not for the first time, Juragga's eyes slid subtly to Dak, and then he forced them back front and center.  He had faith in his friend and trusted companion.  Only his skills would save the day, here.

Short of relying on Wookiee smashing of things and blowing up of all kinds of objects, that is.  But that approach was likely to be a one-way ride...
Shard
 player, 523 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 22 Jan 2013
at 12:32
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Void.

The rumors are true.  There had been a superweapon, and they hadn't exaggerated.  This, this is the exaggeration of that weapon; bigger is better, it seems, and this monstrosity will be fully capable of...of...

...destroying a world?

How will the Rebellion succeed if this finished?  How can the Rebellion succeed?  Its combined fleet could never even dent this machine, much less battle against the ships it could carry and supply, and if the Empire is willing to obliterate entire planets?

Put it in perspective, Shard.  They are.  That has been part of the rumors as well, and she hadn't paid much credence to them.  After all, not only is it ridiculous to think of the Empire willing to simply annihilate planets, but the capacity...

Oh, they have the capacity, it seems.  And if they have the capacity and have forged the tool, they are willing.  Bank on it.

Please be getting this, everyone.  This information needs to make it out.  And on that note...

"I would like a report, Admiral," she hears herself saying.  "Something I can go over at my leisure as well, not that your own explanation isn't edifying."  Snap of the fingers, point and crook one at Haarmon, calling him forward.  "Have someone provide one to my tech.  Nothing too detailed; this information is sensitive.  Just the particulars."

Turning back, she studies the holographic machine with one eyebrow cocked speculatively.  "This...instrument will give the Emperor what he requires to end the Rebellion," she muses.  All true, that.  "With your name upon it, Admiral.  He will certainly be pleased."

Her thin brows furrow. "But...four years?  Four?"
The Force
 GM, 354 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 24 Jan 2013
at 16:45
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
"A report, My Lady?  Of course." followed by something which is almost a perfect duplicate of Shard's gesture.  One of the officers in the room, not Captain Alates, hurries forward.  "Provide Lady Nimadda's assistant with all current information on the status of the project."

"Yes Admiral." the officer replies, then looks at Haarmon, "This way."  Without waiting for a response, he starts to walk away, towards one of the few consoles in the room that doesn't appear to still be under construction.

Taking a seat, he works through several layers of security protocols before reaching  the files themselves.  "Where would you like to start?"

The admiral, meanwhile, is busy talking to Shard about power outputs, tonnages, ranges, shield strengths...  The numbers involved don't really seem possible...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 482 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Thu 24 Jan 2013
at 17:24
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
As more and more people in the room were more and more occupied, Rhijans began to feel like he could begin to do a more tactical assessment of the place.  There was the Admiral, the Captain, the tech that was helping Dak...as best he could, without moving, he tried to get a headcount of the number of Imperial personnel present, and looked for any obvious security measures...audio and video monitoring devices, primarily, but also any sort of motion sensors.  Given his limited security background, if he didn't recognize the function of something right away and its position put it in an area to monitor the room, he assumed it was a security device of some sort.

There had to be something they could do to at least set back the project.  Construction was so wide-spread that there was nothing they, as a team, here at this point, could do to halt it completely...but if they could slow things down...maybe find some way to build in a system to deactivate the shields on command...attacking with that Imperial fleet up there would be suicidal, but if they could guarantee the shields would fail, attacking after the first crucial components had been attached to the main core would undo years of Imperial effort.

There had to be a way...  And he kept inventorying the room and its equipment, looking for a loophole or oversight...
Haarmon Dak
 player, 217 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Thu 24 Jan 2013
at 19:42
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Haarmon followed the officer over to the terminal, his mind spinning with what's happening all around him. Did he really think they could stop this? All this? How could it be stopped? It was like a natural disaster. Once it started, all you could really do was try to stay out of its way.

But saw what Admiral guy had spun out. He had just enough engineering knowledge to know that, once complete, there would be no staying out of that thing's way.

So he had to do something. But important stuff was usually Juragga's job. Not his. He felt miserably out of his depth. If only he could get at that terminal himself. Preferably without anyone watching. He didn't need much time. But he needed some time.

Wait, does this guy know the first thing about computers? Only one way to find out. Just as the officer sat down, Haarmon leaned over him. "What system are you using? Are you operating on the new upgrade yet?"

He tried his best to sound all flat and professional and business-like. He was, in fact, doing his best Rhijans impression.

Hope it's enough.

This message was last edited by the player at 19:44, Thu 24 Jan 2013.

Shard
 player, 525 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 28 Jan 2013
at 19:35
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Perfect.  Now it's up to Haarmon.  He's erratic at times, but performs well under pressure, Shard feels, and if anything describes the current situation....

So she stands and listens to the Admiral as Haarmon does his thing, nodding thoughtfully along with the technical details.  Many of them pass over her head, but over the years Shard has heard enough of weaponry and ships to give her a general idea of what people are talking about, and the few numbers she grasps paint an appalling picture of the final product.  If this thing is finished, the only possible way of stopping it would be another one of its kind.  No infiltration could possibly succeed in destroying it from the inside, no fleet would stand a chance against its massive firepower, its shields, its onboard escort, and no planetary defense would have a hope of stopping it.

All current information on the project's status...I'll take that.

The problem is, what to DO with it?

Could they possibly sabotage the whole thing from here?  It seems incredibly unlikely.  But if they take time to get the information back to command, before any serious assault can be prepared they'll have the shield up.

Two.  Days.

But if they can push THAT back, they stand a chance.

"Admiral," she begins abruptly, choosing a point that doesn't cut him off mid-sentence (resentment would breed issues).  "It's all very impressive, but...security?  How are you ensuring no sabotage occurs during the preparation for the shield generator?  Obviously once the generator is active, it will protect itself from any possible orbital bombardment, but what stops the Rebellion from a ground assault?  And what of the workers on the generator itself?"

A slight edge enters her voice - not directed at the Admiral, but perhaps at some distant memory.  "Do you use indentured workers?  Economically viable, but it is far more easy for terrorists to slip spies among slaves, and to bribe slavemasters: notoriously unreliable, those.  How are you ensuring there can be no issues with construction?  Or with information falling into the wrong hands?"

Her features relax...a hair.  "You have a fine record here, Admiral.  No sabotage so far...that I have heard of."  A small, sharp smile appears and disappears.  "But two days to go is still as yet 'unfinished'.  For the sake of the Empire, and for the sake of your own efficiency and capability, I would not see that good record smeared by failure.  Given this -"  A wave of the hand at the holoproj "- your success thus far, I expect as fine a report regarding your security."

This message was last edited by the player at 19:36, Mon 28 Jan 2013.

The Force
 GM, 355 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 28 Jan 2013
at 21:27
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
"We are not using slaves in any sensitive work areas.  I too find them unreliable.  Naval technicians are working on the shield, and qualified personnel are tasked with orbital construction.  At the moment we would have difficulty using slaves, even if we wanted to, because there is no suitable environment for them to work in."

The admiral smiles, as he adds, "Security is... heavy.  You saw part of our contingent of ground-based stormtroopers when you landed.  Others are patrolling in the desert at a range of five to twenty kilometres out from the facility.  Additionally, we have troop transports in orbit, and assault shuttles for rapid deployment of extra forces, should they be required."

"We can have three battalions of stormtroopers on the ground within fifteen minutes.  This will change as the work proceeds - more of the troops will be moved to barracks here, on the ground."


The tech gives Haarmon a puzzled look, "I don't know.  Not my speciality."  Then, perhaps remembering whose assistant he's talking to, he helpfully suggests, "I can check for you?"
Juragga
 player, 221 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Tue 29 Jan 2013
at 06:30
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Juragga stood very still, attendant to Shard as his role demanded. But his eyes widened as he considered the possibilities.  Perhaps he was being defeatist... just an old run-down Wookiee who'd lost everything he'd ever cared about, save his friends... but this was looking more and more like a suicide mission.  At least, if they were to have any impact on the construction of this, this monstrosity.

He studied the guards and troopers for signs of lax attention.  He had no interest in selling his life cheaply.  But if they didn't do something here... and soon...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 486 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 29 Jan 2013
at 08:19
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Rhijans noted the personnel around the room...not good odds for them to accomplish much in an open confrontation.  He focused his attention on the ceiling and walls, looking for surveillance equipment.  If they did get an opening to pull something off, he didn't want anyone to be able to trace it back to anyone specific.  That meant anything they planted would need to be done by Jalt or himself, their identities safely hidden by the faceless frontmen of the Imperial military forces.  But he also needed to know how difficult it might be for one or both of them to sneak back in here.

Part of his mind listened, almost idly, to what the Admiral was describing.  Shard was doing a great job of stringing him along, keeping him talking about the station and the defenses.  Ground patrols out to twenty kilometers, three battalions on or around the planet--but, apparently, the troops that they saw when they landed were the bulk of the troops that were currently on-planet, except for those assigned to guard duty...  The situation wasn't likely to get anything but worse, but one battalion was better than three.  The guards he could see were naval troopers, not stormtroopers...maybe stormtroopers did routine patrols of the base?  More intel...we need more intel...  He pursed his lips, inside the helmet, as fragments of options began to present themselves to him.  So far, all of them were blatantly suicidal...and didn't have much of a chance of success.

But it was already more than they had when they walked in here.  The more he learned, the better the odds became.  Keep him talking, lady, keep him talking, he urged, silently.
Haarmon Dak
 player, 220 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Tue 29 Jan 2013
at 13:28
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Haarmon shakes his head in a deliberately robotic fashion. Left, right, centre. He saw a bad guy do it in a holovid once and it looked really badass and he always wanted to try it out on someone.

"No need. I'll check."

And so saying, he removed his personal terminal from its case and went to attach it to the Imperial system. Just before he plugged it in he paused and looked back up at the tech officer and started him in the eyes. He tried to raise one eyebrow in a quizical fashion but both went up (as usual).

The look was meant to say Back away and let me do my thing, huh?
Shard
 player, 528 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 29 Jan 2013
at 18:24
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Shard studies the Admiral with narrowed eyes as he explains the security, then nods her head and joins his smile with a small one of her own.  It doesn't quite reach her eyes, but that's fine, given the role she's playing.  It's unlikely anyone here expects a true smile from Nimadda unless she's cutting an enemy down, and possibly not even then.

"Wise decisions, Admiral.  I especially like the idea of billeting more of your troops here as things continue.  Certainly they aren't needed above."  She purses her lips.  "Casting your nets wide is a fine idea as well; it forces terrorists to cover a larger distance under risk of discovery, in the event they actually achieve planetfall."

"I also applaud the lack of slaves.  Too many officers would attempt to come in further under budget, sacrificing security and competence for cheap labor.  I'm glad to see that such foolishness isn't the case here.  You'll have enough appreciation by finishing a quality job in a timely manner."

Curse the Empire for appointing someone competent!

It's Haarmon who stands the best chance for pulling something interesting out of this.  The computer holds all the information, and he will be given enough to convince Command that they're not joking about the threat.  If he can convince it to give more...

...convince it...

That small smile steals back onto her face, and this time it stays.  Leaning back against a railing, Shard eyes the Admiral, a man deeply proud of his project, a man so taken with his success that he's willing to forgo business in order to try to impress his same enthusiasm upon a visitor.  It's not only self-interest here, she suspects, though that cretainly plays a part.  He really, really loves his work here.

"All very interesting, Admiral.  But...also a touch generic.  Oh, not in magnitude: a project this size is colossal in all ways.  But this is, when all is said and done, what I would expect to gather from a report.  If more interesting when delivered in person."  A corner of her mouth quirks further.  "I am certain you have more.  Give me something interesting.  Something surprising I can take back that will raise eyebrows."

"Astound me,"
she challanges.
The Force
 GM, 356 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 31 Jan 2013
at 21:13
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
The tech hesitates for a moment, and then glances towards the admiral, who is deep in conversation with an ISB officer.  A smiling, and apparently high-ranking, ISB officer...  "Go ahead."  With a nod of the head and a slightly nervous smile, he moves aside to leave the seat open for Haarmon.

The admiral himself considers for a moment, unsure what might impress somebody who apparently doesn't find the thought of an artificial moon with the ability to destroy a real planet sufficiently... astounding.

"The attack which destroyed the first Death Star has been thoroughly analysed, My Lady, and the design of the new station has been modified to ensure that the same tactics will not work a second time.  Furthermore, intelligence gathered during future engagements with Rebel forces, and by agents in the territories controlled by other potential enemies, will be incorporated into design refinements as this project continues.  Our goal is to ensure that the design will evolve to keep pace with enemy tactical doctrines."

"Additional stations are planned to follow this one, of course, and they too will benefit from the continual development and evolution from the basic design.  In effect, every station which is constructed will inherit the technical and tactical advances of its immediate precursor, and improve upon them."
Shard
 player, 532 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 5 Feb 2013
at 14:22
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
"'As an innovation, we plan to innovate.'  I should be sarcastic, Admiral, but honestly, lack of flexibility has a tendancy to plague military doctrine." Shard nods her head, pursing her lips.  "Continuous design improvements, treating each station in an experimental fashion, evolutionary modification of the systems...such a strategem outdoes any single, splendid improvement you might have shown me." 

An eyebrow cocks alongside the crook of one corner of her mouth.  "I like how you think."
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 490 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 5 Feb 2013
at 18:47
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Rhijans' eyes narrowed further in the helmet as the Admiral explained how they intended to continuously upgrade each of these behemoths.  That philosophy, if applied to standard Imperial military doctrine, could be crippling for the Alliance, and anyone else who dared oppose Imperial rule.  One of the best weapons against the Empire was its own strict adherence to tactical and strategic doctrines...you could predict what they were going to do the vast majority of the time and take steps to counter it before they did anything.

But this...this could jettison that rule in a torpedo tube.  Adaptive military theory would leave the rebels flailing to try and stay one tactical innovation ahead...and you can only keep that pace up for so long.

If the opportunity presented itself, the Admiral needed to be removed from the equation.  He was intimately familiar with the details of construction...if someone could get him talking, he'd be a trove of information.  If the opportunity presented itself, Rhijans decided, they'd have to see about that.  Barring that, shooting him would be a good option.  At the very least, Alliance Command needed to know that he was a high-priority target.  Getting rid of him might not disable the whole project, but it could slow it down, and if his replacement was of a more rigid military mind...well...who knew what options could present themselves?
Haarmon Dak
 player, 223 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Thu 7 Feb 2013
at 16:16
Re: Part 12 - Osmur
Haarmon took a deep, deep breath and tried to calm his nerves. It didn't work. He could feel his palms sweating. And his scalp. And his upper lip. And he could feel things going on under the tight tunic that he didn't even want to have to think about.

But he tried to ignore that. All of it. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, when he was on the Nets, and really in the zone, sometimes he felt like he was part of the network. Like the information was not just in front of him, but in some way was him. When this happened he was capable of such feats of data manipulation that he astounded himself. He could almost watch himself perform beyond his own ability.

That was the state he was trying to reach. Because he wanted to do something absolutely impossible.

He plugged his own terminal ("Personal Badass Device" he called it, the PBD) into the Imperial terminal and turned it on. He tried his very very best not to give the tech any sideways glances. He wanted that guy to be studiously ignoring him. Whether from fear or boredom, he didn't much care.

He scrolled through some menus on his PBD, noting the foolish names he'd given everything (current menus included "Crap I Might Need Later" and "Dudes Who Pissed Me Off" and "Don't Delete this Shit it's Important") and hoping the Imp wasn't staring as he tried to get past them quickly. As he reached his destination, he had a vague, almost totally unformed thought that maybe it was time he grew up a little.

After a moment or two he reached a heavily encrypted folder deep in the recesses of his terminal. Things were different down here. There were no bright colours. No clever names. No ironic graphics. Everything down here was cold and grey and had complicated alpha-numeric strings for names and was as organized as any Stormtrooper's footlocker. It was almost as though Mr. 'Am-I-right' Haarmon had been left behind at the doorstep. As though that Haarmon, the gun swinging, dirt-talking, finger-twitching, wookie-mocking Haarmon wasn't allowed down here, down in the basement where the really important stuff was kept.

Harmon's fingers flew across the keypad. He knew he had only a few seconds before the tech was going to start getting suspicious. Or at least curious. And either one was dangerous. Lethal maybe.

He opened a file. Started typing. Lines of code arranged themselves in his mind and iterations and algorithms spun out into infinity behind his eyes. He had to get the most done with the fewest steps. He needed to fundamentally alter the operation of a long, complicated program in moments by reaching down into its essential nature and tweaking it just enough so that the cascading consequences of starting it would push it in the direction he needed it to go, until eventually it did what he needed it to do. It was like trying to bring down an entire installation with a single charge. Or bowling over a thousand pins with one ball. Or changing the weather on Coruscant by flapping your arms on Tattoine. It was an act of exacting precision that bordered on madness. The only reason he was even attempting it was that it had to be done.

Somewhere inside of him, inside that zone, he was warmed by the thought that all three of his friends, each for their own reasons (Rhijans his pride, Shard her ghosts, Jurraga his family) would understand. And even approve. Sometimes, just sometimes, when there was no other way and the stakes got high enough, madness stopped being the problem and started being the solution.

And down in the basement, somewhere in the white-hot crucible of everything Haarmon was and everything he wanted to be, there was a moment when it seemed like the complex, jagged, discordant pieces of the universe all turned to reveal themselves as simple reflections of one single glorious whole. Down there, in that moment, everything seemed so simple, so joyous, that he only just stopped himself from laughing out loud. He pressed Send.

And he took a breath. And he stood up. Unplugged the PBD. Nodded to the tech. "It's fine. Now I'll take that report." He said, and was shocked at how calm his voice sounded.

This message was last edited by the player at 18:14, Thu 07 Feb 2013.