The Real Unknown Regions

18 years after the Battle of Yavin...
A divergent, persistent and interactive Star Wars timeline with a rich history and established characters.

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Beorht
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The Real Unknown Regions

Post by Beorht » Fri Apr 23, 2010 7:07 pm

“There’s four hundred billion stars in this galaxy, give or take. Out of those, how many d’you figure developed sentient life?”

“Uhh…” He knew the answer…he just couldn’t remember it. Thresh had given this lecture at least half a dozen times in the last month. One of his many lectures.

The crew of the Solid Sunrise really could have warned him. But of course, then they might have lost a paying passenger.

“Twenty million,” Thresh sprayed, hammering the table with a fist the size of a small speeder. As he had done the last time they’d had this discussion, somewhere between Abregado-Rae and Umaren’k’sa. Rel nodded thoughtfully. “A lot of room to get lost in,” he said, because that was what he was supposed to say. Thresh nodded. Rel had never found out what mammalian species Thresh represented. Even by their standards, he suspected the hyperdrive tech was ugly. “And that’s just the inhabited ones. Don’t forget about the little bolt-holes, the dribs and drabs, the places so far off the charts that…that…well, they’re far.”

“Yep.”

“It’s the Unknown Regions, brother!”

And Wild Space.”

“And Wild Space.” Thresh lapsed into silence, staring at the cold food in front of him. Shrugging, he started to eat. Rel made his escape back to the galley with his own empty plate. He’d just returned to his bunk, intent on a late-afternoon nap, when the intercom clicked on.

“Rel?”

“Yeah?”

”Come up to the bridge.”

It barely deserved the name. The Sunrise had begun life as a Mobquet Medium Transport, possibly the least sane or aerodynamic starship ever conceived. At just over a hundred metres, most of which was either cargo bay or extraneous strut, it had no room for a ‘bridge.’ What it did have room for was an enclosed multilevel cockpit lifted from some kind of three-man patrol ship and welded, almost intact, to the exterior of the hull. Rel half-sat in the hatch, where he could get a clear line of sight out the skewed front viewport.

Captain Pike and his two navigators weren’t much for words, and Rel didn’t feel like asking any questions. To be fair, he doubted even Pike would have been able to put a name to all this.

They were approaching a small round moon, the kind that every gas giant has to spare. Its surface was pitted, a pale blue-gray. No atmosphere blurred the edges. Some stars moved, most toward or away from the moon. Soon they were distinguishable as ships – prospector craft, smugglers, the rough kind. At a guess, some were pirates.

The…base?...looked like someone had taken a few dozen starships and welded them together, without much regard for ‘down’. A skinny Lancer frigate, joined fore and aft to bulbous freighters, made up one whole edge of the thing. Half a Gallofree transport overlapped the frigate, and that was the last ship Rel could recognize. The designs were immutably alien; the plan nonexistent. As he watched, some indistinguishable part of the base fired engines and lifted free.

“What kind of ships…”

Pike half-turned for a second. “Ssi-Ruuvi, Jade Worlds clans, Confederacy, Kartanin, Ebruchi, Rai…I dunno, son. This is the Unknown Regions, and this part less known than most. We had to do five hyperjumps in the last thirty parsecs.” He shrugged. “That egg-thing setting down is a Ssi-Ruuvi picket ship some friends of mine found floating near Borealis. That corvette with all the retrofits was actually captured from Vagaari slavers a couple years back.” Something cut across the field of view, and then the Sunrise set down in a metal canyon with sides made up of ships, tubes, and transparisteel.

“And this place is called…?”

Pike shrugged again. "I heard someone call it Baobab's Landing once."
Last edited by Beorht on Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:08 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Beorht
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Re: The Real Unknown Regions

Post by Beorht » Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:04 am

It was, of course, inevitable that their first stop would be a cantina. That had been their routine for as long as Rel had been aboard, and the crew of the Sunrise had shown him some fairly dodgy establishments. In the categories of disreputable clientele and questionable hygeine, this place eclipsed even the Ol' Sendstorm on Nar Shaddaa.

And it was huge, a jumble of floors, ramps, stairs, pools, with a zero-gee forcefield tube along one wall. No fewer than six industrious bartenders of various species moved within it, choosing from the free-drifting bottles around them. There might have been more: the tube kept going in both directions. An upside-down Wookiee, whose hair floated out to all angles, reached out through the field and handed someone a drink. His arm hair lay flat as soon as it passed outside the zero-gee zone. Rel considered the matter as he followed the crew towards the tube. On a civilized world, it would have been expensive to set up something like this. This moon's gravity was pretty low, about one-tenth normal: it would actually cost less to cancel that than to turn it up all the way.

Drinks in hand, they took a table two levels down. A Kubaz and a Maccabree, knee-deep in argument and bug parts, were ignored by all and sundry. Rel glanced over his shoulder now and again; in the corner, a huge, haltered, thick-skinned, four-legged alien devoured a carcass. It looked like someone's guard animal, right up until it caught Rel's eye and snorted something in Sy Bisti. That earned Rel a slap upside the head from Thresh. "Don't stare at anyone, kid."

Yeah. They'd definitely have lost a paying customer.

"Especially not a Wharl. Nice people. Big teeth." Thresh finished his drink, a stein he'd called a triple-header. Why, you ask? Because the glass could easily fit three humanoid crania. And he was done already. Rel sipped gently at his lum and tried not to stare at anyone. As Thresh disappeared into the crowd in search of a refill, someone took his seat.

She was tall. She was really tall. And really blonde. Not Rel's type, but absolutely gorgeous. Also missing an ear, and wearing that golden hair in a ponytail to emphasize the injury. She threw an arm around Pike's shoulders and gave him a resounding kiss. Rel had the satisfaction of seeing Pike blush under the grease and stubble. He cleared his throat. "Rel, meet Dane."

"Nice to meet you," Rel said politely. On second examination, Dane was anywhere from twenty-five to forty, and wore mechanic's coveralls with more grease on them than in Pike's whole wardrobe, which was saying something. Still a little young for Pike, but hey. "'Tsup," she said, tossing her ponytail. "That the house lum?"

"Oh, uh, yeah."

She nodded and the glass jumped out of his hand into hers. Rel bit back a curse. She drained it while Pike and the rest of the crew laughed hysterically. "She does that to everyone," Ralters said. "Likes to show off. Our own liddle Jedi, ain't she? Our own little Sith Lord."

"Well, that's nice."

"Nice?" Dane's very blue eyes had gone wide, probably with amusement. She put down Rel's empty glass and physically reached for Pike's. "Where'd'all pick this'n up, Abe?"

"He's not as fresh as he looks," Pike said with a shrug. He did that a lot. But he kept his drink out of Dane's reach. Ralters harrumphed. "Believe it or not, Coruscant. Good part of town."

"And why'd ye-" Dane overreached for Ralters' drink and failed, only to retreat to Pike. Rel began to consider the possibility that she was an alcoholic.

"I killed a couple people," Rel said. "Funny story. Maybe I'll tell you sometime."

"Who?"

"A spy, a customs officer, and my mother-in-law. Not in that order."

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Beorht
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Re: The Real Unknown Regions (Open and open-ended)

Post by Beorht » Thu May 06, 2010 8:33 am

He had the satisfaction of seeing Dana blink. "Izze serious?"

"Not in the slightest," Rel said, not entirely truthfully. "What's that?" He jerked his chin in the direction of a large brown saurian, whose thick tail counterbalanced a forward-slung body. Dana gave it a glance. "P'w'eck. Kind of a low-caste Ssi-Ruu. After the Imperium got blasted, a few'v'em got left behind, all over t' place. I guessome got drafted or somethin by the Xen'Chi, which spread 'em even farther."

"I've traveled pretty far, and I've never seen one before."

"Give 'em time." She glanced at it again. "That's a big'un. Might be a half-caste or somethin'. Apostate, o'course, or else 'e'd be hightailin' it back to - heh, hightailin'. Heh." She grabbed for someone else's drink. This time she succeeded. She'd drained half of it when Rel saw her face go rigid. He glanced over his shoulder. "What are you staring at?" By the time he'd glanced back, she had her hair free of the ponytail, hiding the scar where her ear used to be. She leaned low, and Thresh and Pike leaned in farther on either side of her. Rel blinked and looked over his shoulder again. In the mass of species all over this dimly lit floor, nothing really stood out. "Hey," Pike said, voice tense. "Look back over here, kid. And get your blaster ready."

"Who is it?"

"The ones with - never mind. We're blown." Pike and Thresh stood; the big tech produced a blaster from somewhere, and Pike held a nasty Czerka vibroblade, fingertip hovering at the activation stud. Rel stood and shuffled to the side before turning around. Three men wove through the crowd, head and shoulders above most; almost as tall as Thresh. Their faces bulged out into grinning canine muzzles, complete with teeth. Thin fur covered their skin; one was gray, two brown. The biggest, one of the brown ones, had a bizarre, angular gun of a type Rel didn't recognize; the others carried BlasTechs.

"Zshoulda come in on your own, Szalphorisz," the big one said, oblivious to the fact that the standing crew had him outnumbered. His voice buzzed. "Sztill got a chanczze. Come with ussz and it will all go away." Beings started to drift away. Sooner than Rel expected, at some unspoken signal, it all blew up. Blaster fire started to pour in from two more points in the crowd. Thresh upended the table and forced Dane down behind it. Rel yanked his blaster free, ducking back from the light and sound, looking for cover. His return fire put a nice hole in the ceiling.

It was over as quickly as it began. The big brown wolfman lay with Pike's vibroblade in his chest; the gray was down too; and Thresh, blaster burns all over, put the table back upright, while Dana picked herself up off the floor and examined a new splotch on her coveralls. Rel tried to breathe, but his body seemed to have forgotten how.

The bar returned to business as usual. Pike retrieved his vibroblade. "Most of them got away. Time to go."

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Beorht
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Re: The Real Unknown Regions (Open and open-ended)

Post by Beorht » Fri May 07, 2010 4:22 pm

Thresh took point despite his injuries. Pike, the big wolfman's angular blaster in his free hand, draped Dane's arm over his shoulders to half-lead, half-carry her through the hallways of the outpost. The others stayed more or less around their captain; Rel did his best to keep up. Lighting, gravity and floor angle changed without warning every few steps. At one point he could have sworn they were scaling the exterior of a Corellian Gunship, embedded deep in the complex. The markings certainly matched, barely visible under a series of welds that might or might not have had a purpose.

"We're getting close, kid," Amber said over her shoulder, eyes catching Rel's briefly. The rangy Nagai female was Pike's relief pilot, an accredited hypernavigator with an advanced degree. Right now she looked much more like the Rebel she'd been in her youth. "There'll be some kind of trap, guaranteed. Be ready, but not too ready. Nothing would spoil my day like friendly fire."

"Deal," Rel said, and tried not to blush.

A few more turns, and Thresh stopped at the rim of an angled power door set in bright blue hull plating. The group stopped when he did. Thresh peered around the edge and was rewarded by a stream of plasma that clipped his ear and forced him back into cover. He muttered a vicious Bocce curse. "Twelve badger-boys, Cap'n." It seemed an improbably quick assessment to Rel, but perhaps Thresh's species had that kind of a brain. Pike took it in stride. "Amber and I will keep them pinned down. Thresh, carry Dane to Port Nineteen-V, fast as you can go."

"Nineteen Vee?" Thresh angled his blaster around the doorframe and let off a few cursory bolts. Return fire bit into the tunnel walls. "They won't let us in. Guarantee it, Cap'n."

"They don't have to let you in - they just have to let her in." Pike handed a wobbly, silent Dane off to Thresh and took the hulking alien's place by the door. "And they might let the kid in, unarmed. Sorry to deny you a piece of the action, Rel." He actually seemed sincere, bewhiskered face contorted with the effort of showing emotion. "That last drink was almost one-ninety proof, and she can barely take beer as it is. When she gets this drunk, she's a danger to herself, and the Kotala won't know a thing about human physiology. Plus they'd be unwilling to restrain her."

The logic was full of holes, but if he'd learned one thing, it was to trust the Captain, even when it seemed like he had only half the story. There had to be more to it, but he'd find out what he needed to, eventually. He checked his blaster charge - still over half-way.

Ten minutes' run later later, Thresh, Rel, Dane and Ivory - the last member of the crew - came to a panting halt outside an airlock marked '19-V'. Thresh knocked, hard.

After another few minutes, the airlock hissed open, and a strange alien stepped out, like a crustacean approximation of a humanoid. It exchanged words with Thresh in what Rel barely recognized as Minnisiat; its tentacled mouth gave the Chiss trade language an odd cadence. Dane crossed the threshold under her own power and promptly vomited across the interior of what Rel assumed was the Kotala ship's entry chamber. Bowing nervously to the Kotala, who didn't appear to care about the projectile vomiting, Rel gave his blaster to Thresh and followed the drunk woman inside.

"All right," he muttered in Rammocate, "let's get you settled in..."

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Re: The Real Unknown Regions (Open and open-ended)

Post by Beorht » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:40 am

They watched him without emotion, staring every time he moved. He supposed they were checking him for hidden weapons, examining him from different angles. Somewhere behind curtains and bulkheads, Dane hurked. Water ran. She gargled without compunction. Rel and the Kotala stared at each other throughout.

At last she slouched back into the entryway. "I tell ya s'nice ship, though y'cant see from th'inside." She really sounded about the same drunk as she did sober. Whatever slumdog accent hers was, it dropped syllables and left vowels to the imagination. Big blue eyes smoldered drunkenly. One of the silent Kotala procured a folding bench from somewhere; Dane lunged for it and missed. She skidded along the deck on one shoulder, yowling, then curled into a ball and fell asleep.

"Finally."

At first Rel thought he'd said it himself. Then one of the Kotala - a gray and battered elder - shook his head.

"You speak Basic?'

"I speak what I need to speak, beloved. Help me lift her."

Despite the phraseology, Rel ended up mostly picking up Dane by himself, though the old Kotala steadied the unfolded bench as Rel lay the woman down on it. Blaster fire rang outside - was the fight still going on?

"Do not be afraid," said the alien. The other Kotala made their way into the ship, leaving him/her/it alone with Rel and the benched blonde. "They will not disturb us. The Fedrek, those who come from the world which is called Joy...they know our kind. Even the most hardened will not endanger a Jukre Star Sailor. Your captain knows this. I am Hagron-tides-of-green; you may call me Hagron. And you, beloved?"

"Rel."

"A good name." Hagron did not elaborate. "The out-of-tune girl, who has neglected her instruments - are you her friend?"

"I guess I am. Well, the captain is, and I'm pretty sure I'm his friend."

"A friend of a friend; a friend's friend. The ancients said that a friendship is one soul in two bodies. Are you, then, one soul in three?" The Kotala made a sound that Rel guessed might be laughter.

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