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Free As A Bird

- - - - - Repaying debts

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#1
Loreena Arenais

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Lori was ready. Her time was up. And fortunately it all went in her favour. A year ago Kaine Australis built her Jaster's Sparrow. Not only that, but he paid for her upkeep and crew salary, giving her a full standard year to pay him back. She could have had her parents pay for it, or used some of her inheritence, but no. Lori wanted to earn the credits and do everything properly. So she had gone through crew members and managed to keep a few of them that were loyal to her. With them she had taken up a variety of jobs going from simple cargo delivery, to helping do some drug busts as well as treasure hunting. The last one earned her more than enough to repay her debt.

And now to contact Kaine.

Lori typed up a message on her datapad to send a message through. Whether or not it'd reach him, she didn't know. But she hoped that he'd get it eventually.

Kaine,

It's me! Lori! I hope you're not dead. Anyways, my year is up and I've got the credits that I owe you. I'm not sure if you want me to give it to you in person, or just do some electronic transfer. Either way, I need to know where to send it.

Lori.



#2
Kaine Australis

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Aboard The Scythe - Alsakan System

 

Kaine was napping when the comm beep woke him. He'd long since set his buy'ce to only alert him for important messages, so he wasn't irritated. Without opening his eyes, he reached across to the side table beside his bunk where the helmet rested. Finding a recessed button with practiced fingers, he pressed for audio and was rewarded with a fail beep. Sighing, he sat up, opened his eyes, and dropped the helmet over his head.

Immediately the HUD flooded up across his vision. After a moment or two of commands, Kaine brought up the text of the message. A welcome one. Loreena Arenais was a friend, and somewhat of a protege of his. He'd met her years back, when she was still a child, and she had fought like a warrior. That had piqued his interest as well as earning his respect, and he'd made sure to form a friendship with her.


Activating the recording function, Kaine dictated a brief reply, which he sent out to the recieving address.

::Su'cuy, Lori.::

A quick chuckle, and then he dropped the serious tone. ::Good to hear from you, ner vod. I never doubted you for a moment. If you send me your coordinates, I can come to you, or we can meet on, say, Folor. Thats far enough from the fighting that we shouldn't run into any trouble. It'll be good to see you.::

He ended the message, and ensured it had gone out properly, then contacted the bridge.

::This is Kaine. Let's prepare to get underway.::

The crew, well practiced in ferrying the General around without usually knowing why, didn't bother with questions. If they needed to know, he'd tell them. A ship with crew on shore leave took time to recall them all back to the ship, so even though Kaine didn't yet know their destination, letting the Scythe's crew get a head start back to the ship would save time, and they could be on their way all the faster. He, meanwhile, was going back to his nap. Rank had its privileges, and he was already aboard.
 


Edited by Kaine Australis, 18 April 2019 - 02:30 AM.

S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#3
Loreena Arenais

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Lori wasn't near Commenori space. That was SJO territory now. Instead she was still on Lujo, having gone there for more trinkets and to enjoy a bit of a breather from everything. It was neutral territory.

The message from Kaine Australis was well received. She had always admired the man. He took the brunt of some of her pranks during their first encounters. And he never got mad at her for them. Instead he took it in stride. They sparred together and he never held back for the sake of her age. And he gave her her first sip of alcohol!

Lori sent off the co-ordinates for where she was parked on Lujo and a quick message.

Great! I'm out in a field. There's plenty of room to land. See you soon!

Lori.



#4
Kaine Australis

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Neutral space, thought Kaine, as the reply from Loreena came back through. Probably for the best. Wasting no time, he commed the bridge.

::Lujo system.:: It wasn't that far from Anaxes, so the jump would be short. Kaine relaxed on his bunk as he felt the vessel pull away from orbit, and head outsystem to clear the gravity well. Not long after that, they jumped away.

 

...

 

Decloaked, the Scythe popped out of hyperspace and approached Lujo.

 

Kaine didn't bother with the traffic control, the ship would remain well clear of the planet. He'd grabbed a Fury-X from the hangar and headed for space, preferring to keep the military presence to a minimum. The capital ship might spook the locals.

Space was relatively free of traffic, and in a stealthy fighter, he'd hardly be noticeable, even to military-grade sensors. Enjoying the feel of the fighter beneath him, Kaine brought the craft in towards the coordinates Lori had sent. Soon enough, Lujo's atmosphere began to heat things up as he descended. He kept the speed reasonable, not wishing to spook anyone.

Soon enough, he saw the landing area, and brought the fighter in nearly to a landing.


Hissing and whining, the Fury-X touched down on Lujo, and Kaine popped the hatch and sprang the distance to the ground, thumping down noisily.

This place is beautiful. He had a soft spot for green fields. Yasha preferred forests, and they were nice too, but he loved wide open spaces.

Loreena Arenais


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#5
Loreena Arenais

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The sensors on Jaster's Sparrow picked up on the Fury-X before it came into view. With the loading ramp down, Lori could hear the beeping. She was relaxing on a chair in the shade that her ship created, her feet propped up on a crate.

Seconds later the fighter touched down. Lori grinned and then got to her feet. She walked on over in a bit of a saunter. Of course she really wanted to run to Kaine Australis , but figured this approach was more appropriate.

"It's a nice little planet, isn't it? No worries, no troubles, and one can see their enemies approaching from nearly every angle." Lori also liked the quiet. Here she could be herself and try to work things through. There were just too many paths that she wanted to walk on in life. And every one of them had their pitfalls. At first things seem to be fitting in right, but then it all changes.

As Lori got close to Kaine, she pulled out the credit chip from her pocket and held it out to him. "Before I forget. It's all here. There's even some extra. I managed to score a gig that paid really well."

#6
Kaine Australis

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And there was Lori. She'd grown up a bit more, she wasn't dead, and she'd come up with the credits. He hadn't expected less, but it was still damned good to see she had more than lived up to his expectations.

Kaine increased his pace slightly to meet Lori, but didn't bother with decorum, and scooped her into a hug, careful not to injure her as he was wearing his armour. In his exuberance, he knocked the credit chit from her hands. After a few moments, he set her down again, and picked up the fallen chit. He gave it a quick scan with his HUD. She had indeed popped a little extra onto it. Kad, she had done well for herself. He slotted it into a belt pouch, and then reached up and took off his helmet, clipping it to his belt.

He smiled down at her, blue eyes shining with genuine warmth. It's good to see you. I want to hear all about your adventures.

He coughed. And thanks for paying me back. I never doubted you, you know.

Then he looked across at her ship, which was a fair bit bigger than his fighter. Looks like she's in good shape. 

 

Kaine was relaxed. It was a safe planet, and Loreena was someone in whose presence he was always at ease. Her mother, he had to admit, intimidated him a little with her regal bearing. Royalty always had that effect on him, being commoner than dirt himself. Lori was royalty too, but she didn't wear it. She was her own person, and he had tremendous respect for her.

Loreena Arenais
 


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#7
Loreena Arenais

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Lori grinned as Kaine Australis picked her up for a hug. She wrapped her arms tightly around him. She was used to him being in his armour, so she knew just how to hug him right without getting pinched by it. Her eyes kept closed while they embraced.

Once he set her down she opened her eyes and stood with her shoulders back, a warm feeling of pride enveloped her as he approved of her results.

"I'll tell you all about them. Let's go sit in the shade. Do you want a drink? I've got some liquor in the cargo hold."

There was so much for her to tell him. And there was much advice that he could give her. She looked up to him, a lot. He had helped her through tough situations. There was going to be more of that ahead. So it was best to get that all over with now while she had his ear.

If he wanted a drink she'd fetch him one, otherwise she'd sit in one of two chairs that she had in the shade. "Most of my jobs were of stealing drugs from some criminal gangs for disposal. And this one time I snuck onto a Destroyer and stole a holocron with my crew. That one paid the most. I also had my heart broken for the first time...But not too much, really. I didn't give myself to him or anything. I don't think my Dad liked him either. He was older than me and I made him part of my crew. But that's overwith though. I don't need anybody to get close to me. I worked fine on my own before." In truth she was bummed out about it more than she liked to let on. Her crew had been on leave for a couple of weeks now while she fixed herself.

#8
Kaine Australis

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Kaine raised his eyebrows, but nodded emphatically when Lori offered him a drink. Flying was thirsty work.

He followed her to her ship, and waited while she got him a drink, nodding appreciatevely, and taking the seat across from hers. He listened without reacting outwardly as she spoke of her work, and of the young man who'd broken her heart. Kaine would have offered to shoot the barve, but he figured if the barve needed shooting, Lori could handle it just fine.

Life teaches those sorts of lessons, and the first time's always hard. You seem to be holding up well. He saluted with his drink in the direction of the ship.

To the Sparrow and her Captain! And drank.

 

It was good to sit and talk with old friends. Kad knew he didn't have that many left, the older you got, the more the universe seemed to take more than it gave. He wasn't quite done with life and ready to retire, even though he was, to his constant astonishment, approaching sixty. 

 

I want to hear about the holocron heist. He grinned. This had to be a good story.

Loreena Arenais

 


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#9
Loreena Arenais

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Lori didn't sit up all proper. No, she was fully relaxed. So she sat in the chair all slouched and layed back with her legs straight and crossed at the ankles. She had a drink of her own nestled inbetween her hands that she rested on her belly.

"I'm doing alright, I guess." She shrugged her shoulders a little. More or less that was true. She was holding up okay. Probably a lot better than some would in her situation.

As Kaine Australis gave a toast to her and her ship, Lori raised her drink too and took a gulp after he did.

And then he asked about the holocron heist. She grinned, leaning her head back against the chair. "My crew and I were summoned to the outer rim. There we were brought onto a Destroyer that accompanied a fleet. Turns out that I was given command of the fleet by a former Sith Lord that we found months ago. This was hus thanks; to send us on a treasure hunt. We needed to find a ship that came and went like a ghost. Plans were set to lure it out, then we parked the Sparrow at a spot where the sensors didn't cover. We snuck on board through an emergency escape panel and searched for the Captain's quarters. I was the only one among my crew that had seen a holocron before, so of course I was the one to go look for it. It took some time, but I managed, and there must have been some kind of alarms or something for we were chased down. But luck came to the rescue! We got out of there and used a series of hyperspace jumps that backtracked on itself at times to loose them. My crew and I got paid 20 million credits for it. EACH. Pretty neat, huh?" And that's where her crew were now presently, each spending some of their riches. Lori had purchased a couple of droids to help her fly the Jaster Sparrow when her crew weren't around. She couldn't fly it on her own.

#10
Kaine Australis

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Kaine listened and enjoyed the story. Lori told it well, he was able to picture her and her crew rifling through a ship and making off with the valuables.

And a nice payday at the end. Holocrons are a valuable commodity it seems. Might have to try pinching some myself some day soon.

He chuckled. Gotta pay the bills somehow. It was a bit of a joking aside. He didn't need credits. Holocrons though, were worth more than credits to some, and he did have some old debts to pay off, or goodwill to purchase, depending on how you looked at the situation. There were things credits were no good for.

You've done damn well for yourself in a short time. A ship, free and clear, with credits to burn. Now you can go find the things in life that credits can't buy you. And maybe a few things that they can, eh? He grinned.

She at least had acquired taste in drinks, it was good stuff.

What am I drinking, by the way? It's smooth as a bantha's backside.

Loreena Arenais


Edited by Kaine Australis, 26 April 2019 - 06:33 AM.

S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#11
Loreena Arenais

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Lori smiled. She still had a bunch of credits leftover, but hadn't slurged on anything yet. She still had to look after her ship. Maybe she'd buy a couple of droids in case her crew decided to leave her. Yeah. That could work. "I might be in the market for a couple of droids to help me with the ship when I'm on my own. Know of any trustworthy ones?" She didn't know any of course. Not ones for sale anyways.

She smiled as Kaine Australis seemed mighty pleased with her. And she needed that praise. It made her feel good instead of just being goofball Lori. "Thanks. You've done well for yourself too."

As he asked about the drink, Lori was quick to answer. "Commenori Brandy. I like to keep some of home with me. But I don't really fit in there anymore. I spend time with my Dad on Kashyyyk when I can. But I don't quite feel as though I fit in much there either.
I don't really know where I belong or what I'm supposed to do yet. But I'll figure it out some day."
Lori wondered if her twin brother was also stumbling around the Galaxy like she was. Living under the shadows of their parents was tough.

#12
Kaine Australis

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Kaine indulged himself, polishing off the brandy while Lori spoke.

 

This Commenori brandy is good stuff. I'm going to have to get some laid in aboard my own ship.

 

He waved the empty vessel, smiling with an eyebrow raised in a silent entreaty for more. He wouldn't have, but if she was twenty million to the good, he didn't feel so bad about downing her expensive booze.

 

Droids eh? I might just have something for you there.

He pulled out his personal comm unit and fiddled with it for a moment, setting it for encrypted burst and Cerani's frequency. If she didn't answer, one of her trusted vode would. The frequency was monitored around the clock.

::I want number two. My location, extended duty.:: He didn't bother with pleasantries or wasting words, speaking in clipped Mando'a. The shorter the message, the harder it was to decrypt, not that Australis military codes were easy to break. It didnt pay to take chances.

Kaine replaced the comm into its pouch.

It'd take time for the request to be filled, and for the individual to make it to his location. He knew also that they'd waste no time, knowing Kaine wouldn't use that frequency or give the order if he didn't want something done yesterday.

I'll get you someone to watch your back. I think you'll like her a lot.

He suspected Arla and Loreena would get along very well. The droids were intensely dedicated, and very very loyal. It might surprise Lori to have an assassin droid working for her, but she would find Arla's skills as a pilot and engineer to come in mighty handy too.

 

Loreena Arenais


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#13
Loreena Arenais

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"I've got a crate you can have. That'll last you a bit." All depended on how much Kaine Australis liked to drink it at a time though. She saw his gesture for a refill. Lori just laughed a little as she shook her head a bit and got to her feet, taking the glass in hand.

"You get me a droid, I'll get you a bigger glass." Within seconds she left him and headed up the ramp. It only took a minute or two before she returned with a wide bottle, as well as the glass. She poured some into it and then handed him the rest of the bottle while she kept the glass for herself.

Lori lifted the glass in a salut and then had a sip. "Yeah? You know of a good crew member for me? The others are busy with their riches. I guess that I should have expected it." They all had their own lives, which was fine.

"Have you heard anything lately about my mom?"

#14
Kaine Australis

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Kaine's eyebrows shot up in surprise and appreciation.

A whole crate? I might even share some of it then!

He took the glass and the bottle, examining the label carefully, as if committing it to memory, which he was, and nodding thanks to Lori.

Kaine considered what she'd asked. He skipped over the droid, and decided to answer the tougher and more pertinent question first. Family came first, as always.

I've heard about your mum. With his borleian accent, and the strong flavour of Manda'yaim, he pronounced the basic word a little differently.

I don't know if it's good news or not though. He wouldn't sugarcoat it, he respected Lori too much for that, and treated her as if she were one of his own supercommandos.

She's going to be the next Eternal Empress of Zakuul, out in the Unknown Regions. I'm going to have a look for myself. Quietly, of course, but i'll be there to give her what help I can.

That was pretty much all he knew. Not much news came out of the Unknown Regions, and had he not been a recently decorated hero of Commenor, he might not have been able to find out even that much. Kay's security was damned good. They weren't so worried about friends who'd risked their lives and their careers for her though. Commenori remembered their friends. So did Mando'ade.

He took a long drink. That usually helped bad news go down.

Loreena Arenais


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#15
Loreena Arenais

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Lori snickered at the idea of Kaine Australis sharing his booze. Hopefully it'll be at a good party or gathering.

She listened intently as he spoke of her mom. The last that Lori knew, her mom was in jail. Now she was out and set to rule a new world? How did that happen?

"An Empress? Does that mean that I'm royalty again? Did she marry someone else to get it? I don't think that Dad's gonna like that. After you check it out...can you let me know if it's okay for me to go there too?" No one just decides to be an Empress. There had to be something more to it than that. Did she kill people for that position too? Like she did on Commenor?

#16
Kaine Australis

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Kaine nodded soberly. He didn't actually know about the jail part, though he shouldn't have been surprised. People were always trying to use @Lady Kay, or imprison her, or make her do things. Scum. That was why Kay had Kaine's personal comm code.

I'll let you know how she is, and you know i'll try to look out for her as best I can.

 

He smiled over at Lori, trying to lighten the mood.

I don't think your Dad's the Emperor type. And I certainly can't see them marrying other people.

He didn't know a lot about the current state of affairs, nor did he know the Arenais family as well as he knew some of the Mandalorian Clans, but he'd seen the concern Veiere Arenais held for his wife firsthand, when they'd all been back on Commenor. Kad, this Zakuul business was going to be a mess, Kaine could tell. The galaxy seemed to like things that way.

Loreena Arenais


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#17
Loreena Arenais

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Lori got up and carefully gave Kaine Australis a hug so that she didn't spill his drink at all. Especially after he said he'd look after her mom.

"Thank you. Thank you so much!"

As for her Dad not being the Emperor tyoe, she snickered. "I think my Dad would probably only go all Emperor-like if my Mom did marry someone else. He'd go all Emperor Palpatine!" She laughed as she retook her seat.

"Now...what about the robot you're getting me?"

Edited by Loreena Arenais, 03 May 2019 - 06:37 PM.


#18
Kaine Australis

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Any time, vod.

 

Kaine returned the hug. Lori was grateful he was going to put his shebs on the line for her mom. Loyalty was important to Clan Australis, and they did not forget their friends. Nor did they measure friendship on a sliding scale. It was very much all or nothing.

Sipping at his ale, Kaine laughed, coughed, and nearly spilled it all himself, when Lori said the word ''robot''.

Don't call her a shabla robot to her face! Having saved himself, he continued laughing. After a few moments he got under control.

I suppose I should give you fair warning not to think of Arla as a robot or a droid. She certainly doesn't think of herself that way.

Save for the engineers and scientists that had worked on the Assassin droid project, Kaine had told no one save Yasha of their existence. Cerani knew, no one could keep secrets from her, but she wasn't the type to talk out of turn. Lori would be the only other.

Arla is a very advanced assassin droid. Her cover personality is a pilot and an engineer. Best to think of her that way. She can fight just fine without giving herself away, but if you get into trouble, she's better armed than most battle droids of human size.

He sipped at the ale, raising a finger. I trust you enough to tell you this. Apart from the Mand'alor, you're the only other being i've told.

He left out the part where he'd sent one of the other units to Commenor, and that the unit was still there, covered nicely as a citizen, and ever watchful. Lori didn't need to know that part.

She'll be here shortly. Treat her as she is, it'll go easier. He winked conspiratorially. Given her nature, she'd not be pleased if you revealed her true facilities to anyone.

Loreena Arenais


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'


#19
Loreena Arenais

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Lori 's eyebrows raised as Kaine Australis started laughing and nearly choked on his drink. As he described Arla, she listened very carefully. An assassin droid that didn't appear to be a droid at all. That sounded so.....wicked!!

She crossed her heart and nodded as he let her know that just the knowledge of such a droid was to be kept secret. Oh it was awesome! Here she was, Lori the Goofball, the Holder of Secrets, one of a select few to guard a secret program from the rest of the Galaxy! So, so utterly wicked!

"I won't tell. I promise! What's she like? How old is she supposed to be? What sorts of classes of ships does she know to pilot and maintain? How long do I have her for?" Oh an ocean of questions began to pour out of her as she got really excited.

#20
Kaine Australis

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Kaine grinned. The excitement of the young for new and dangerous things was quite infectious, and he was glad he could bring Lori some happiness in such a trying time for her family. Arla would keep her busy, of that he had no doubt.

 

Arla can fly any ship, whether she's seen it before or not. She learns incredibly fast, and what she doesn't already know, she can find out in seconds. She looks about twenty or so, I guess, the series was designed to be attractive and disarming to both males and females.

Kaine gave Lori a detailed explanation, accessing his personal files to show some holos of the droid series, something he kept a closely guarded secret. Wireframe displays showed the internal construction, including the weapons systems, and various graphs showed the intellectual power of the artificial intelligence programming.

Some time had passed, and a shuttle began to make its descent towards them. Before too long, they could hear it, and see it coming in for a landing not far from where Kaine's fighter was parked. It came down, and the ramp lowered. A young woman in a grey flight suit came down the ramp, which retracted. The shuttle lifted off, leaving its passenger delivered, and headed back to space.

 

She's here. Kaine said, unnecessarily.

Arla walked across the grass towards Lori's ship. Already she was making a detailed survey of Kaine's files on the Jaster's Sparrow, its systems, and familiarizing herself with the design. By the time she arrived, she'd also accessed and reviewed the ship's log, filling herself in on the history of the ship and its adventures.

Kaine stood, showing courtesy as if the droid were not a droid.

Good to see you again, Arla.

Arla gave him a smile that could melt Hoth, and spoke in a very low and sultry tone.

General Australis. He knew it was a droid, and he marveled at the lifelike nature. Inwardly, he pitied any fool that trifled with this particular model. Arla then turned to Loreena, and extended a hand.

Captain Arenais. Nice to meet you.

Loreena Arenais


S7IVynM.gif

'It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for; I can never fight for myself, but for others, I can kill.'