Objective: Survive and Escape
"Just how many prisons have you been in, so far?"
"How much time do you have?"
"Since we're sentenced to die here? I've got time."
"Ah. Well, that's a shame. I don't intend to stay here long."
"You seem pretty sure of yourself, given the situation. You got somebody coming for you?"
"There's always somebody waiting. I like to think it's the next prison warden, anxious to add my name to his or her honorary list of guests."
"You're basing your hope for escape on the fact that there's another person waiting to throw you in prison?"
"Oh, most definitely. So far, I have a good record of not letting them down."
Some time ago...
The Kalina Halefjord Company's headquarters had an ominously iridescent glow about it on an otherwise gloomy afternoon. Neon screens that decorated the inner and outer walls illuminated the ten-story building in vibrant hues that cut through the ghostly gray of an abandoned former commerce district. Once the central location of an assortment of trades, the Halefjord Company building was recently refitted to serve as a Praexium way-point and military hub in the outskirts. Its primary function was to suppress protesters looking to utilize Halefjord's private airbase to ferry stolen Praexium property off-planet. The luminous billboards remained active as an unnerving reminder of the Praexium's watchful presence while concurrently extolling the latest dental hygiene products from Halefjord's subsidiary, ChompWhite.
Under Praexium Constable Malore's watch, operations ran smoothly and tightly. She had served as the regional office for the past several months, shaping the sparsely staffed Halefjord Company - the regional Praexium military unit self-titled to the namesake base of operations - into a proper authority. Elena Malore was a woman of cold efficiency who brought her rigid, structured lifestyle into her work matters. The once loose-knit band of soldiers found themselves tightly bound to hourly reports, half-day patrols, and scheduled personal time allotted to biological functions.
The dominating force of Malore stood perfectly poised with militant posture as she gazed at the assortment of screens displayed throughout her sizable office. Through her silky jet hair, styled in a neatly cascade down the right side of her strong-jawed face, Elena's carbonite gaze alternated in regular intervals from various cameras to the regularly scheduled hourly reports. It had been six hours since her personal assistant, Marjorie, had first witnessed her boss standing in her usual spot. And while Elena had clearly demonstrated her robotic discipline, it never failed to both impress and terrify Marjorie.
"Madam," Marjorie spoke with discernible quiver to her voice that she couldn't quite shake, "you asked me to return when the sixth hourly report from Bravo team was delivered."
Marjorie's thin figure did not retain the same washboard firmness of Elena's. Her form-fitting uniform revealed a wiry figure that stood with an uncertainly noticeable in a collapsed knee and a slight hunch to her shoulders.
"You're slouching. Leave at once and return properly." Came the icy command of Marjorie's superior.
A trembling nod from Marjorie followed, with twists of curly red hair falling in front of her pale, freckled face. She bit her lip and performed an about-face, hastily retreating from the room. She drew in a deep breath, feeling the wind inflate her shoulders and spine. Upon an exhale, the tremble worked its way through her body and paste her pale lips. Dimpled chin lifted, Marjorie half-marched into the room, stood firmly, and spoke with greater confidence.
"Madam! You asked me to return when the sixth hourly report from Bravo team was delivered."
Elena turned her entire form to face Marjorie. For a moment, the red-haired woman could feel a chill in her very soul. "Go on," Elena said.
"Madam!" Marjorie repeated, "Bravo team has delivered their hourly report."
"Very good, Marjorie. A little sloppy on the first entrance. But you've improved considerably over the seven times last week. Do make sure you start getting it right the first time."
"Thank you, Madam!" Marjorie uttered. She could feel her spine begin to crumble.
Elena offered her affirming nod. "Please continue."
"Madam! Bravo team has reported no unusual activity this hour. All Praexium property under the care of Halefjord Company is accounted for and secure." Marjorie reported.
Elena made no expression. She simply raised her left arm and summoned a holographic screen to her palm. She wiggled her middle finger and the display switched to a camera view of a room containing several men, sitting and waiting for placement. "And what of the newest asset, acquired earlier this week. Is it adapting well?"
Marjorie drew in a sharp breath. Something Elena had said struck her personally, but she swallowed any subconscious tells and inquired with a professional tone. "Renly, Madam?" She asked, avoiding the quiver in her voice for once.
Elena scanned the room out of the corner of her right eye with an expression that Marjorie interpreted as contempt. "We do not name them, Marjorie. And we do not allow them to name themselves. It is an asset to be used during these critical times. Am I making myself clear?"
Marjorie nodded, "Absolutely."
"Ah! Absolutely....Madam!" Marjorie replied hastily.
"Good." Elena coldly concluded. "How is our asset acclimating."
Marjorie swallowed again. "The asset appears to be operating within expected parameters, Madam."
Elena nodded and relocated the screen to her room's exterior window, where just outside, a looped advertisement for ChompWhite had concluded its pitch, CHOMP RIGHT!ChompWhite!For a hair of a moment, Marjorie could almost see a twitch break the icy casing that glazed her superior's face.
"Do you have anything else to add, Marjorie?"
"Intelligence reports that various parties within the neighboring Confederacy are interested in our politics." Marjorie summarized. "They will be sending envoys soon."
For what seemed to be the first time in hours, Elena moved from her spot, walking in a slow pace toward the window. "I have gathered some information on various diplomats that I would like to meet with. A number of the Viceroyals would be suitable."
"Yes, Madam!" Marjorie repeated, feeling her body starting to give in to the trembles once more.
"Please pick the best three who are willing to meet under open conditions. I want no demands from them. I simply wish to talk." The cold Constable spoke.
Marjorie paused. She had reviewed the files of various Viceroyals per Malore's orders. "Would not the Minister of Influence be the most obvious choice?"
"I said three, Marjorie. And do be quick about it." Elena waved Marjorie off.
The red-haired assistant nodded and performed a clumsy about-face, tripping over the toe of her shoe. Her shoulders tensed quickly as she peered back at Elena. Hoping to escape quietly, she tip-toed to the door. But the cold voice of her superior called out to her again.
"Marjorie." She said in a way that was firm but still had a hint of taunt.
"Be sure to bring something to scrub the scuff off my floor when you return."
After a pause, Marjorie squeaked out, "Yes, Madam." And quickly left the room.
A shorter time ago...
Among the almost incalculable data streaming across millions of networks came a verifiable secure communications from the planet Aikhibba directed to Mr. Kip Ridel, Minister of Influence for the CIS. After the usual screenings for subterfuge, the R3-A2 droid forwarded the message on to Kip's datapad, to be accessed when the human had completed his second daily digestive byproduct purge.
When the human emerged from the defecation facilities aboard a luxury cruiser, he promptly ignored the flashing message on the datapad. This particular act irritated the droid. This unit, like many of its kind, had mathematical processing power to dynamically stabilize thrusters in four-dimensional space at speeds faster-than-light. And yet here it was forced to sit idly by, relegated to menial tasks such as commodity outlooks of meat markets in Coruscant in correlation with Tatooine hide trade declines. Child's play.
The greatest insult was to operate as a messenger proxy for a carbon-based organism with sub-par survival genetics, even among others of his own species and a proclivity for putting himself in precisely the exact situations his own biological programming has warned against. The only saving grace was that for all of the biological worthlessness of the carbon-based life-form known as Kip Ridel, his personal network proved to be somewhat of an interest. Well, at least, as a distraction or a hobby for a droid whose brain capacity was, comparatively, the size of a moon.
After a stream of coded audio emissions were uttered and interpreted by the human's inferior input devices, Kip flashed what R3's facial recognition software coded as a "grin", and grabbed his datapad. The human proceeded to carry it to his bed and laid, clothed simply from his midsection down to his ankles, while he reached haphazardly for a piece of fruit.
While Kip's trembling hands signaled to R3 an urgent need to sync-with and stabilize his phalangeal implants, R3 sat, motionless. Kip's face formed into a solid line as he clumsily chewed into the piece of fruit. In the time it would take R3 to calculate the decay of a quarter of the molecules of that piece of fruit, the organism named Kip mused on whether or not he would accept an invitation. It was not the organism's proudest moment.
But decide he did, as he tossed the uneaten remains of a perfectly viable piece of fruit into a trash chute. He strode over to the R3 unit and offered his hands, but the unit shifted to hibernate mode. Frustrated, Kip rapped his trembling hands on the dome of the unit for several minutes.
"Hey! Hurry up and fix these. I have a meeting with a bunch of crazed dictators to get to and I still need to pick out a shirt."
The lights turned off, except for a brief crescent shaped flash of a blue light. A sort of wink. And with a cooing sound, the droid reactivated and began the implant stabilization process. Kip's audio receptors and meta-cognition interpreted the sound as a grin.
Edited by Kip Ridel, 01 November 2018 - 11:50 PM.