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This Estate Needs Repairs!

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#1
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 10:12 am

Location: Masha Estate Wineries, Alderaan

 

The blonde found herself studying the blueprints of the vineyard estate that she had just bought not too long ago. Everything was relatively well maintained, with most of the workers who had worked for the previous owner still around. She had agreed to continue to hire them, after a talk with Gordon Crett, the butler of the manor. He had assured his new owner that it would be a wise idea to keep the existing workers on the payroll. Experience, he explained, was more important than costs. The blonde found herself agreeing, since she had no idea how to take of a manor and also required the help of the vineyard workers to continue maintaining the grapes that had been growing.

 

That had been two months ago. Since then, the new owner had renamed the estate after her own name, calling it Masha Estate Wineries. As part of her new ownership, Gordon had reminded her of the need for some patchwork. Certain parts of the roof had been leaking, the pool needed to be clean up and a part of the cellar had caved in for many years. Hands needed to be hired to fix up the place, which meant more credits. Luckily for Mariya, the money granted by the Kiribi government to establish her company had been generous and there was more than enough left in her coffers to do the maintenance works.

 

Mariya was not satisfied with merely maintenance works. She had grander plans for her new house.

 

Major renovations were currently in place. First up was the collapsed area at the cellar. Workers had spent the whole of yesterday manually digging out the dirt and moving the debris. Using machines were out of the question, as the foundations of the house should not be shaken. With luck, the area should be cleared by end of today.

 

"My lady, there's something you need to see," the voice of Gordon Crett took her by surprise as she looked up from the blueprints. 

 

"Something's wrong?"

 

"The workers had discovered an old trapdoor while digging. Suffice to say, I have told them not to move anything until you have given the green light."


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 18 January 2018 - 01:57 PM.


#2
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 10:30 am

Location: Underground cellar, Masha Estate Wineries, Alderaan

 

"What do you make of this... pattern, Gordon?"

 

Mariya examined the trapdoor closely, a solid metal door made of durasteel with a faded pattern engraved on it. The engraving was faint, but she could vaguely see a small bird like circular crest. An explosive would do the trick, but that might be the end of Masha Estate if the explosion shook the very foundations of the house. No one would ever wish to take the blame for that.

 

"That is a symbol of some sort... hmm... remarkable..." her butler took a step closer and squinted his eyes at the faded symbol.

 

"I know, Gordon. I thought I am mistaken, but... it's looks like the symbol of the Rebellion or the Resistance. They both shared the same symbol, but with different colours," Mariya recounted the history accurately. She could still remember the history module that was taught to all officer cadets graduating from the Republic's officer academy. Most of it was boring stuff, but certain tales like the legends of Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker were entertaining tidbits everyone. Still, it meant the door was probably made around eight centuries ago. No one could guess what could lie within.

 

The next question on everyone's mind was obvious.

 

"Any ideas how to open the door? Let's get the supervisor from the renovation company for a chat..."

 

The blonde waved at a yellow Twi'lek wearing a white safety helmet and beckoned him to come over. Soon, a discussion was taking place within the cellar itself, with the supervisor agreeing to a suitable price to ask his workers to cut down the door with a portable laser drill. Judging from the thickness of the door, it would take at least an hour of effort.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 12 January 2018 - 11:05 AM.


#3
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 12:05 pm

Location: Dining room, Masha Estate Wineries, Alderaan

 

Breaking down the door took more than an hour, since it was a delicate procedure. While the door was being worked on, Mariya busied herself by talking to the servants and workers from the estate, trying to find out if anyone had heard of about the sealed door. It turned out that no one had actually known what was behind the debris all these years, resulting in a dead end after all the attempts to seek an answer. By the time the door had being cut down, lunch was already served. Mariya was tucking in the food at the dining area when the completion of the work reached her ears. 

 

No one was willing to enter through the trap door, not when an eerie darkness was peeping out. It would take a brave soul to take the plunge in with the necessary military hardware to navigate in the darkness.

 

A brave soul like the new owner of the estate.

 

Mariya was lost in thought, her mind running through the possible dangers that she could find herself in if she were to climb through the door and explore the darkness beyond. The only comfort was that if the door was really built by the Rebellion or the Resistance, the dangers should be relatively less as compared to exploring an ancient Sith ruin. Still, the mercenary was not going to take any chances. She had brought her gear along with her when she came to Alderaan, in case she needed to suit up. She had never expected this to happen though.

 

"I'm going in after lunch, Gordon," she made her intention clear to her butler when he came in to see if she needed additional food on the table.

 

"I had a feeling you would be, Miss Fleischer. I have already ordered the chef to prepare some rations for you to bring along. Also, your equipment has been carried into your room, should you wish to access them later."

 

She nodded her head and smiled. The day was going to be more interesting than she expected.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 12 January 2018 - 11:32 AM.


#4
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 1:37 pm

Location: Into the unknown, Alderaan

 

The mercenary took a step gingerly through the cut door. The renovation crew had done a decent job to make sure the hole was big enough, something she was thankful for. She was suited up from head to toe, including the helmet that she usually hated to wear. Her favourite weapon, a highly customisable DC-17m was slung across her neck and her sidearm was a KYD-21. The last time she fought with a Drexl during a contract job with Sol Damerin, her sidearm had failed her. The KYD-21 should pack a more powerful punch despite its size and was her attempt to make things better.

 

"Comms check."

 

"I heard you loud and clear, Miss Fleischer," the voice of the now familiar Gordon Crett came on through the other end of the line.

 

"Good. Please keep an eye on my position via the tracking device on my suit. I'm going in now."

 

"Be careful. Remember to come back for dinner."

 

"Haha, I'll try... no promises, Gordon. Mariya out," the blonde ended the conversation and turned on her goggles attached on her helmet. The familiar MFTAS sensor view popped up on her heads up display. The tactical flashlight attached to her rifle had red filtering enabled, producing a reddish hue of light beam that was difficult to detect from afar. It also meant that her MFTAS would need to do its work to pick up the faint light source and process through the sensors to give her a decent view of what was ahead. All the stealth craft that she had learnt long ago was being applied instinctively. Stealth suited her best anyway. Rushing head on into a battlefield was never something she liked.

 

Another step into the darkness. A flip of the button on her belt and she vanished, merging with the void completely. 


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 12 January 2018 - 12:17 PM.


#5
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 1:58 pm

Location: Unknown, Alderaan

 

She had been walking slowly in the darkness. Her flashlight remained dim and filtered, which made her navigation difficult and painful. Many times, she had been tempted to remove the red filter from her flashlight and let the shining beam light up the darkness. But caution and patience ultimately won out, though it made her progress painfully slow. After twenty minutes or so of slow movement, she finally stepped into a larger opening. She pointed her rifle at the ceiling, her helmet allowing her to make out the faint outline of burnt out lights. Satisfied that there was nothing hiding on top of her, she relaxed a little and examined her surroundings more closely.

 

"Gordon... are you there?"

 

"Miss Fleischer... glad... to hear your voice..."

 

"I'm looking at a rather large opening, with some sort of terminals and equipment in place. The stuff's all dead though. Can you check with the renovation crew and see if there is any technician available? Ask him to come in with some light and a generator. There's no danger so far."

 

"There's... one. I'll ask... him to come in..."

 

"Cool. Mariya out," the mercenary cut the communications line and planted a glow stick near the entrance as a visual aid for the technician. Feeling secure that there was no immediate danger in the room, she turned on the flashlight to full beam and let it illuminate the surroundings while she took off her helmet. There was a dirty looking chair nearby, which she gladly sat down and took a drink of water. While waiting for the technician to arrive, she shone the light at some of the more interesting clutter around her.

 

A few data pads were found stacked up, which she took one and attempted to turn it on unsuccessfully. Undeterred, she pulled out the wires from the pad and connect them against a spare battery that was usually used to power her flashlight. The screen flickered to live and she browsed through the documents, trying to pinpoint what the unknown room was housing. After several minutes, she determined that it was one of the hideouts used by the Resistance. It appeared that the Rebellion or the Resistance was a concept that had continued throughout the ages. Factions such as the Empire, the First Order, the Republic had continued to exist for centuries in one form or other, even after the legendary heroes had long been gone. The need for people to rise up against oppression had always remained.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 14 January 2018 - 11:07 AM.


#6
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 3:45 pm

Location: Unknown Rebellion or Resistance Cell, Alderaan

 

The technician had made into the room long ago, accompanied by two other workers who had carried in the generator. The ceiling lights were damaged beyond repair, but the room was now well lit thanks to the portable lights that the crew had brought in. A quick survey around the room showed that the place was probably a Rebellion or Resistance Cell, though the era when it was used was unknown. There were simply too many instances of an Empire or First Order rising and a subsequent Rebellion or Resistance force appearing to oppose the hard lined factions throughout the ages. 

 

Not that Mariya actually cared about that. She was not a historian and all the work done so far were costing her valuable credits. Especially the current work done by the technician. The main console in the room was dead for centuries and salvaging the data bank was too risky. The technician had proposed a total replacement of the console parts with existing technologies, before connecting it to the generator that they had brought down. Mariya ended up agreeing to the whole proposal, simply because she had spent too much effort to give up now. She could only pray that all the hard work would pay off somehow.

 

"Let's see here... it's working!" The technician gave an excited shout to the blonde, who turned her head around and walked over to the console. The screen flickered for a moment, but the technician had definitely done his work restoring the console. Now all they needed to do was to access the data. 

 

"Crap, it needs an login ID," the technician who was excited moments ago found himself unable to log onto the terminal.

 

"Hey, let me do the trick this time," Mariya pulled out her hacking chip from her gauntlet and pushed it into the hub slot. Her training in the past had included hacking, since her main purpose was intelligence gathering. While it was not her strongest skill, she knew there was always one way to break an authentication login.

 

Brute force.

 

By guessing every single password available in the holonet dictionary, she might just be able to access it. The problem was the waiting time. Again she would have to wait. It could take minutes or hours, depending on how secure the password was. Mariya decided to head back into the manor with the renovation crew to play the incredible boring waiting game. The hacking tool would alert her when the whole process was completed.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 12 January 2018 - 03:12 PM.


#7
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 8:53 pm

Location: Underground cellar, Masha Estate Wineries, Alderaan

 

It seemed that luck was on Mariya's side. The whole brute forcing process to guess the password for the terminal login took a little more than five hours instead of the whole night. Mariya was stripping off her armour halfway when her hololink on her wrist blinked continuously, a sign that the password had been cracked. She looked at the gauntlets and chest piece on the floor and sighed. Now she would have to spend another few minutes just to get dressed and get herself mentally ready for more exploration.

 

Perhaps she could do it tomorrow morning. But she knew herself well enough. The mystery below the basement of her house was begging to be solved. She would have to go or else she would find it difficult to sleep at night. And so she picked up the armour pieces from the floor and suit herself back on. She grabbed her rifle from the weapon stand and walked down the stairs into the cellar, where the renovation crew had already left for the day. There was something else at the cellar though.

 

"Gordon? What are you doing here?"

"Miss Fleischer. I heard footsteps walking down the stairs and knew that you would be coming into the cellar. And so here I am, ready to assist you in anything."

 

"Very well, Gordon. Would you mind manning the communications channel again while I explore the ruins?"

 

"As you wish. I will be here in the cellar until you are back."

 

Mariya nodded her head, glad to have someone else to talk to as she stepped through the hole in the trapdoor. Hopefully she would be able to find something interesting in the terminal.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 14 January 2018 - 11:08 AM.


#8
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 9:15 pm

Location: Unknown Rebellion or Resistance Cell, Alderaan

 

She was back in the strange room, now affectionately known as the unknown rebellion cell by the renovation crew. Or unknown resistance cell, depending on the person's fancy. The name did not change the fact that no one knew much about the place itself. At least the lights remained working, which gave Mariya some ease to see her surroundings. The room remained eerily quiet, except for the low humming sound of the portable generator powering up everything in the room.

 

Emerald eyes stared at the dust covered screen, with wipe marks made by her fingers to allow her to see slightly better. She bypassed the authentication screen with the cracked password, hoping that it would work. A few moments later, the operating system popped up into view, granting her the rights of an administrator. Mariya did a mini fist pump to celebrate, her fingers flying across the keyboard and buttons to see if she could retrieve something useful.

 

She spent an hour or so browsing through the documents available. Most of them were old communication stuff which served no purpose. Only a few remained of slight interest, with one particular data mentioning the existence of another door that would lead to the mountains of Alderaan. She looked up at her surroundings. There was no sign of another door, saved for the one she had entered. A hidden door was her conclusion, though there was nothing to tell her where it was.

 

Mariya got up from her seat and walked around, slowly against the room's walls and knocking on them every few steps. It was a laborious process, but she finally found her reward when the knock sounded different behind a shelf. She tossed out the junk from the shelf and pushed rusty furniture aside, her eyes looking around for an access point. A small keypad hidden behind the self. Lifting up the rusty panel, she pulled out the wires and grabbed some extensions left around by the renovation crew to extend them to the portable generator. It was a make shift solution to hot wire the keypad, but she could not think of an alternate way. 

 

"Hissss....." the new sliding door slowly and painfully opened till the mid point before getting stuck. Still, it was sufficient to squeeze through, which she did. Another set of tunnels greeted her.

 

"What else would you expect? Treasure?" The mercenary softly to herself as she stepped into the darkness again.

 

******

Year: 851 ABY

Time: 10:46 pm

Location: Masha Estate Wineries, Alderaan

 

"Here's some hot tea to warm up your body," the butler placed the cup of tea on the table.

 

"Thanks... "

 

The blonde held onto the cup for warmth, her body shivering near the fireplace under a blanket. She cursed silently, knowing better to explore the dark tunnels at night. A misstep was all it took to take her plunging into a deep pool of water. Her backpack paid the price and she had to trod her way back to the manor.

 

Tomorrow. She told herself. Tomorrow she would continue her exploration.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 15 January 2018 - 08:07 AM.


#9
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 9:27 am

Location: Unknown, Alderaan

 

Day 2

 

The blonde found herself looking at the pool of water that she had fallen in last night. The waters were murky and her backpack was somewhere below the depths. She had no wish to repeat the same mistake again, nor dive in to retrieve her backpack. It was too dangerous to rely on a flashlight to see what laid beneath the waters. Besides, she had brought her thermal wear and climbing gear instead of diving equipment, in preparation for a possible mountain climb. The hacked terminal last night mentioned some sort of mountains in Alderaan. 

 

The blonde had no idea how how steep the ascents she would be facing. She had done altitude training before, but climbing a mountain alone was definitely risky. If the slopes were too dangerous, she would need to activate a mountain climbing expedition. She hoped that would not be necessary. All the costs she would need to incur, just to chase some crazy lead from an unknown ancient ruin. But before she got ahead of herself, she needed to cross the water. A sturdy rope should do the trick.

 

She fired off a rope harpoon to the other side of the water, hearing a dull thud as the piece of metal sank deep in the ground. A couple of secured knots to a big rock nearby, with a few extra rounds for good measure. The rope felt tight enough and she climbed onto it, her limbs holding onto the rope while her body hung itself below the thick fiber. Slowly she moved, monkey crawl style under the rope, feeling the rope straining a little under her weight. She prayed silently and continued on, trying hard not to think about any bad possibilities. A few minutes was all she needed to scramble off the rope and stand on the other side of the pool. 

 

"I'm across the water now. Will be entering into another tunnel," she gave an update to her butler who acknowledged her message. 

 

Off she went, back to exploration mode and into the tunnel. Her flashlight was on full beam, guiding her path. She reckoned the speed granted for using such a strong light source was worth it. So far, there were no dangerous encounters throughout the tunnels and she would not expect any.



#10
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 10:12 am

Location: Somewhere in the mountains, Alderaan

 

Day 2

 

The tunnel exploration had turned into a mountain hiking expedition. The tunnel ended abruptly on top of a small hill, with a muddy trail that was overgrown with grass. The temperature was noticeably cooler and the blonde was glad that she was wearing her thermal suit underneath her armour which helped to regulate her body temperature. Short of a sudden drop in temperature, she should be able to continue her climb.

 

She unhooked her machete from her belt, wading through the grass and cutting her way into the overgrowth. She had no idea what she was going to find, all she could do was to try her best to see where the path would lead her to. There were too many mountains in Alderaan to be explored fully. 

 

"Great, I'm now a gardener..." she muttered to herself.

 

***

Year: 851 ABY

Time: 11:25 am

Location: Somewhere in the mountains, Alderaan

 

The sun was being covered by the clouds, offering no warmth to Mariya. She felt colder with each step. The wind was getting stronger and following the trail proved to be challenging. The path had been unused for so many years and she had to keep cutting her way through the bushes. She pushed on, cursing under her breath as her vision continued to be blocked with each few steps. The wind howled stronger as she continued.

 

She dragged herself on, her machete swinging angrily at the next bush that greeted her way. It proved to be the final obstacle as she found herself looking at a clearing. Or it used to be a clearing. There were several ships lying around, rotten to the core. An abandoned outpost with the distinctive bird symbol stood in the distance. 

 

"Crap... curses..."

 

The sky suddenly turned dark and rain began to fall. At this cold temperature, the clouds were raining hail. Pellets of tiny ice hit the ground and Mariya's armoured body. She hastened her pace, racing towards the output and entered in for shelter.



#11
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 11:27 am

Location: Abandoned outpost in the mountains, Alderaan

 

It felt good to escape the hailstorm. However, Mariya knew that she had landed into deeper trouble when she entered the outpost. There was a low growl. A beast. Somewhere within the outpost itself. She looked at the swipe marks near the edge of a table, then the ones on a overturned chair at the far corner.The beast was territorial and the markings indicated its territory. But to leave the outpost and brave the hailstorm seemed like a sure way to be frozen to death.

 

Beast or no beast, she needed the shelter. 

 

She turned on her cloaking device and hung her machete on the belt. Since she was dealing with a beast, the cloaking would not stop the creature from sniffing her out. Perhaps she was already noticed by the creature when she entered. Mariya disliked losing her advantage before striking, but the creature was a beast and not a humanoid. She took a few steps towards the growling noise, her rifle pointing at the closed door.

 

A loud crash and a giant blue beast sprung out.

 

Mariya could barely keep her voice quiet while she stared at the strange beast. Blue fur, horns on his head and a mean bite. The locals called him a Vorn tiger but Mariya knew nothing of his name. All she knew was that she needed to dodge when he sniffed the air and looked towards her direction. She rolled across the floor as the beast roared and leapt towards her direction, avoiding his claws. She returned fire immediately at the blue tiger, blaster sounds ringing through the air.

 

Another roar. The tiger was struck by two rounds but became angrier, running towards the near invisible enemy. He could smell her at such a close distance and leapt.

 

Its claws gripped onto the mercenary's arm, which protected her from the vicious bite. Mariya tried to pull her arm away but the bite was strong. She had no wish to have her limb crushed by the tiger's strong jaws and desperately pointed her rifle at his abdomen, squeezing the trigger. The roar was deafening, blood flowing freely from the magnificent beast's body as he slowly loosened his bite and slumped onto the ground. The mercenary continued to spray her rounds at the body for another few seconds before stopping. She had been screaming, her voice covered by the blaster shots and the tiger's roars. Until now. She finally stopped her shout and found herself trembling. The adrenaline slowly drained away, replaced by her natural fear instincts.

 

"Too close... too close..."

 

Her trembling hand reached out for her water canteen. She drank a gulp. Followed by another. 


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 16 January 2018 - 05:41 AM.


#12
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 12:34 pm

Location: Abandoned outpost in the mountains, Alderaan

 

Day 2

 

"The hailstorm is going to last a while, Miss Fleischer. I will send for a ship to pick you up when the weather has cleared."

 

Gordon's voice sounded relieved when he responded to Mariya's communication line, knowing that she was alright. While she was still rather new to the traditions and culture of Alderaan, the butler had grown to like the spunky blonde. The previous owners were more concerned with preserving the vineyard business, but the new owner had brought in new ideas with her presence. Asking him to maintain the communications channel and treating him like a support operator was just one of her ideas. One which he had enjoyed so far.

 

"Well, good to know. I'll poke around for the time being then. Mariya out," the blonde agreed to his suggestion and turned her attention back to her lunch. It consisted of the newly developed food ration made by her own company. The main course was spicy octopod with potatoes, something that the chefs in her company had come up with. She had been enjoying the lunch, a far cry from the unappetising food rations that other food companies had been making. Someday, she hoped to sell her designed products to one of the major factions. It would be a huge deal considering the quantity needed to support the faction's military personnel. That was something in her pipeline.

 

She finished up the remaining scraps of her meal and tossed the trash back into her backpack. The Vorn tiger was lying just a few meters away from her. She got up and examined the beast closely to satisfy her curiosity. The blue fur was definitely something that she had never seen before. It had a vicious fight and she was glad to remain unscathed. Curiosity satisfied, she turned her attention to the next room where the beast had made its lair.

 

The lair was filled with clutter. Bones and remains from the tiger's meals, messed up furniture and stacks of datapads. It appeared the outpost was researching something important, judging from the large number of data available. Most of them were destroyed, but she managed to catch sight of one which was clung tightly by an ancient skeleton hiding inside a cupboard. She gently lifted the bony fingers off the valuable loot and plugged her hololink to the datapad to download the contents over. The contents were mostly corrupted, much to her disappointment.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

VW1WemFYTjBZVzVqWlNCUGRYUndiM04wTENCQmJHUmxjbUZoYmcwS1FYSjBhV1poWTNSekl

GSmxjMlZoY21Ob0lFTmxiR3dnUVZKRE1ERXdEUW9OQ2xkbElHaGhkbVVnZEhKcFpXUWdhVzRn

ZG1GcGJpQjBieUIyWlhKcFpua2dZV3hzSUhCdmMzTnBZbXhsSUhOdmRYSmpaWE11SUZSb1pYSm

xJR2x6SUc5dWJIa2diMjVsSUd4dlkyRjBhVzl1SUd4bFpuUWdkMmhsY21VZ2RHaGxJRzlpYW1WamR

DQmpZVzRnY0c5emMybGliSGtnWW1VdURRcEpkQ0JvWVhNZ2RHOGdZbVVnVTNWc2IyNHVJRTkx

Y2lCcGJuUmxiR3hwWjJWdVkyVWdjM1ZuWjJWemRDQjBhR1VnWTI5dmNtUnBibUYwWlhNZ1lYSmx

JREkwTXpJeU9Td2dNelEwT0Rrd0xnPT0=

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

After everything she had done, all she had gotten was this unreadable junk? Mariya could not help but feel slightly disappointed. However she decided to keep the data with her. She could always go back to civilisation and spend some effort to try and clean up the data.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 18 January 2018 - 09:04 AM.


#13
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 10:23 am

Location: Sulon, Sullust

 

Day 34

 

The blonde found herself entering Galactic Alliance space without much difficulty. While she was technically tossed into jail, the Collective had managed to weave its magic to let her escape while the jail ship went up into flames. Her intergalactic records currently indicated her as a certain Mary Rehcsel, a play of her real name. "Mary" felt a certain sense of deja vu when she walked past the customs gate, noticing how some things never changed. The Galactic Alliance had certainly entered into massive fights with other factions, with news of latest happenings flashing on the monitors. It seemed that propaganda existed in all forms, whether in the Republic, the Alliance or other factions.

 

Hence the mercenary had decided to be loyal to no one but herself these days.

 

Barons Hed was the city in Sulon, but she needed to leave the city to somewhere else. After her return from the abandoned outpost found in Alderaan, she had spent a few days trying to figure out how to restore the corrupted data. However, it turned out that the data was not corrupted, merely the encoding format. Her hololink had jumbled up the encoding format for the words to be displayed due to a bug during the data conversion. All she needed to do was reverse the Base64 encoding twice to get a clear message:

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
Resistance Outpost, Alderaan
Artifacts Research Cell ARC010
 
We have tried in vain to verify all possible sources. There is only one location left where the object can possibly be.
It has to be Sulon. Our intelligence suggest the coordinates are 243229, 344890.
 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
The coordinates had pointed her to a remote location outside the city, so she ended up renting a hover bike and sped off towards the unknown location, located among the plains.

Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 18 January 2018 - 09:04 AM.


#14
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 2:47 pm

Location: Unknown plains, Sulon, Sullust

 

Her navigation pad was not exactly receiving the best signals from the satellites, making her journey more difficult than required. During her drive, she almost knocked into a herd of Curlnose, a native creature of Sullust. She also managed to spot several sand cats running around in the wild. After several rounds of detours and cursing, she found herself stopping her bike in the middle of nowhere. Mariya turned off the engine and hopped off the bike, detaching the navigation pad from the vehicle to follow the marked location.

 

"Hmm... strange... they said it's around here.... Argh!"

 

She tripped over something and nearly dropped her precious navigation pad onto the ground, a disaster that she managed to avoid. She turned around and saw the object that tripped her was a root of a Tap tree. There was also something on the ground next to he trunk, which prompted her to investigate. It was a slab of rock that seemed to be a graveyard of some sort. A careful examination on the rock allowed her to make out the words "For my love". 

 

"Okay, do I really have to be a grave robber?"

 

Mariya sighed, wondering if this was really the location that she was looking for. She walked around the area for a moment, hoping that the pad might indicate a new location after receiving better reception. But nope, the location remained the same, pointing to the unmarked grave. Mariya frowned, keeping the pad out of irritation and tossed it into her backpack. She grabbed the entrenching tool from her backpack and walked over to the grave, staring at the rock again. 

 

"I... I'm sorry to disturb your grave, unknown stranger." 

 

With that, she started digging.

 

***

Year: 851 ABY

Time: 5:34 pm

Location: Unknown plains, Sulon, Sullust

 

She finally found herself hitting onto something solid after an hour or so of tedious work. She continued on, digging the sides to reveal a stone coffin. The lid was heavy and took her several attempts to push it off, but she managed to do so after grabbing an energy bar for an extra morale boost. Excited by what she discovered, she shone her torch into the coffin and saw a tattered robe. Her hand went in and lifted the robe, but there was nothing else of value.

 

"Are you satisfied now, stranger?"

 

A deep low voice boomed behind her suddenly, taking her by surprise.



#15
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 5:35 pm

Location: Unknown plains, Sulon, Sullust

 

Mariya turned her head around, blinking in surprise. Her brain froze for a moment, unable to process who she was looking at. The unknown stranger was a man. Or more specifically, he looked like a ghost of a man with a grizzly beard. The man appeared to be semi transparent and she could literally see the scenery behind him. No way, her mind screamed in panic. There was no such thing as a ghost. 

 

"You think I'm a ghost, do you," the old man smiled at the blonde. How did he know she was thinking about ghosts? She wanted to run away, to reach for her weapon, to scream... but somehow she found no strength to do it. All she could do was stay rooted to the ground.

 

"Ah, you are afraid of me," the ghostly figure floated slowly towards her with the same smile, showing her that he was indeed what she had thought.

 

"Don't... don't come any closer! Who... who... who..." Mariya found herself stuttering. Was she really that afraid? Her heart was pounding rapidly and she could hardly feel her legs, she even felt like pissing in her armour. That would be the worst scenario possible, to stain herself in the middle of the wildness while trying to fight or escape from the ghost.

 

"Who am I? I'm just an old man with a few questions."

 

"You are a ghost! A ghost! Ghost!!!" Mariya suddenly found her voice back, shouting wildly at the ghostly figure who was inches away from her.

 

"Relax. I'm technically not a ghost. Look, I'm not going to harm you. I just wanted to ask a few questions."

 

The blonde took a few breaths. Deep ones. A couple more might be good, she told herself. And that she did, probably more than necessary. Her heart was beating slower now, her mind telling her to just listen to whatever the ghost was going to talk to her about. If he was going to kill her, she would already be dead anyway. Death by a ghostly encounter. Now that would sound so ridiculous.

 

"If you are not a ghost, then what are you?"


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 24 January 2018 - 11:15 AM.


#16
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 5:37 pm

Location: Unknown plains, Sulon, Sullust

 

"Me? I used to live here," the ghost replied with a smirk. He was clad in a simple rugged outfit, but Mariya had a feeling he was more than simple. At the very least, he was a talking ghost.

 

"That's not what I asked, Mr... Ghost," Mariya found her courage to respond back, thought somewhat still wary of the stranger. Why won't she? She had no idea who he was and what he was even. How could she kill a ghost? She had no idea. All she could do was to reply and talk her way out of the situation.

 

"Mr Ghost? That's a new name, hahaha. You are a spunky one, ain't you?" the figure chuckled and nodded his head, floating comfortably next to her. Mariya took a step back defensively, but he just floated in closer. "You haven't answer my question yet. Who are you?"

 

"You haven't answer mine as well."

 

"I already did. Told you I used to live here. It's your turn now."

 

"I'm a mercenary. A nobody."

 

"A nobody? Everyone has some place in this universe. You remind me of someone."

 

"Who?"

 

"My younger self. Stubborn and head strong."

 

"Hey!" 

 

"...And yet spirited. I haven't finished, so remember your manners and don't interrupt an old man. Your name?"

 

"... Mariya."

 

"Mariya... a nice name. Do you believe in destiny?"

 

"Destiny?" the blonde had no idea if she believed in such stuff and merely shrugged her shoulders. The whole thing was puzzling to her. An old ghost who kept asking her questions, which admittedly were going to be more than a few. "I have no idea. Do you?"

 

"I don't know actually. That's why I am asking you."

 

"This doesn't make any sense at all."

 

"No, it doesn't. Just like it doesn't make sense to find someone disturbing my rest after all these years."

 

"Oh..." the blonde reddened, knowing full well the old man was probably referring to the grave she had just disturbed. "I... er... I'm sorry."


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 18 January 2018 - 11:52 AM.


#17
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 5:40 pm

Location: Unknown plains, Sulon, Sullust

 

"Ah well, I guess it can't be helped. Tell me, how did you even find this place?" the ghost was clearly curious and asked the mercenary.

Mariya cleared her throat and tapped a few gestures on her hololink, showing the ghost the data she had found in the abandoned outpost. The ghost took a glance and pondered for a moment. "Hmm, I never knew they would be so desperate to chase a myth."

 

"Sorry, what myth?"

 

"It's nothing."

 

"You really don't explain much, do you?"

 

"Nope, I don't have to," the ghost gave her a smug look again. "Look, the Force has obviously led you here for some unknown reason. None of us know why, but that's how it works. You do believe in the Force, do you?"

 

"Erm... yes, I know the Force exists and the Force users can use it. I have seen them in action."

 

"Then do you know it exists in every living thing?"

"I was told of that."

 

"Have you felt it before?"

 

"Nope. I mean, the last time I tried meditation and felt absolutely nothing. Except my own breath and wondering how long the whole thing would last."

 

"Hahaha, you don't need to meditate to learn about the Force. What is the task that makes you focus the most?"

 

"Eh... when I'm looking through the scope of my sniper rifle."

 

"Good. Why don't you try shooting at that small branch on top of that rock?"

 

Mariya had no idea why she was even doing this, but she decided that it was best not to anger the ghost. She unslung her rifle and set it to sniping mode, aiming at the broken branch that the ghost had wanted her to hit. It was a fair distance away and she could only see it when her scope came into view. A crazy two hundred meters and no rifle tripod. This was going to be difficult. She adopted a prone position and felt the familiar feeling of her rifle pressing against her cheek, holding her breath as usual while she aimed. The cross hairs caught the branch itself and she easily squeezed off the trigger.

 

"Nice shot. You are indeed talented."

 

"Thanks," she got up from the ground and brushed the earth off her armour. Everything made little sense to her. The ghost asked her to demonstrate her sniping skills, something she was already good at. The old man was clearly pleased though with her marksmanship and seemed to be hinting at something deeper.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 18 January 2018 - 12:20 PM.


#18
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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Year: 851 ABY

Time: 5:43 pm

Location: Unknown plains, Sulon, Sullust

 

"Now, try shooting that pebble off the grass patch."

 

"Again? Fine..."

 

She groaned and prone down, the usual firing position. Her rifle in the familiar position. Her eye peeped through the scope and found that tiny piece of rock that the ghost wanted her to fire upon. An estimated one hundred meters. An easier target. Now all she needed to do was to put her cross hair in position.

"Take out the scope."

 

"What?"

 

"Take out the scope and try it."

 

"You got to be kidding me. I can't hit that kind of target if I'm using iron sights. I will need to try at least a couple of shots before I could..."

 

"You can do it."

 

"I..."

 

"Do it. Trust yourself. Use the Force..."

 

She reluctantly took out the scope. This looked impossible, she told herself. There was no way she could do it. But the ghost had insisted and so here she was, behaving like an idiot. She tried her best to squint through the iron sights, finding it difficult to aim. Her vision blurred and she had to rub her eyes. Another try, she told herself. Emerald eyes opened again, peeping through the iron sights and she suddenly found herself going back to the tunnel vision of her scope. Her sight... was magnified and she could see the rock suddenly, clear as day. She squeezed off the trigger and the pebble bounced off.

 

"That's not possible. Impossible...."

 

She muttered to herself repeatedly and looked up at the ghost floating above her. She got up to her feet and stared at him, emerald eyes in astonishment. Did she just use the Force? Was she... actually Force sensitive?

 

"So, do you believe in the Force now?"

 

"I... I already said I do earlier."

 

"No, you were merely echoing what others have told you," again the ghost smirked at her, seeming to gloat over her choice of words. He was right. She did not say she believed in the Force. All she had said was she knew the Force existed. She nodded her head resoundingly this time, "I believe in the Force."

 

"Good. Good. Because you have a long way to go."

 

"A long way to go? You mean..."

 

"You will need to find your own purpose. All I know is that the Force has guided you here, probably to claim something. Follow me," he floated away from her and gestured at her to follow him, which she did dutifully. The ghost pointed to a small button near the edge of the coffin and made her press it. A concealed panel glided out, revealing a long metallic tube fit for a hand.

 

"Take it. It's now yours."

 

The blonde reached out for it cautiously, gripping onto the metal and feeling its weight in her hand. She stood up, metal piece in hand and instinctively pressed the button. A single blue beam of light shot out, a low humming noise that she had seen countless Force users using all her life. She gasped, unable to believe what she was holding for a second and swung it around. The blade hummed in the air, cutting through a bush in the process effortlessly. Curiosity satisfied, she turned off the blade and looked at the smiling ghost. "You are giving this to me, Mr Ghost? Why?"

 

"I believe you have earned it. Use it well. And now, I think it's a good time to say good bye, Mariya."

 

"Good bye? But I have so many questions! I don't even know your name! Are you even a Jedi?"

 

"I'm no Jedi. I'm just a guy who used to own a lightsaber and like to ask questions. Farewell, Mariya. We'll meet again," the old man laughed and disappeared, leaving behind a rather confused looking blonde with her new weapon.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 18 January 2018 - 01:58 PM.