The Show Must Go On...

Takes place immediately after the Battle of Yavin
Tales and stories set during the events of Episodes 4-6...

Moderators: VagueDurin, Nichalus

Post Reply
User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

The Show Must Go On...

Post by sidekick » Sun Aug 17, 2003 10:11 am

The Show Must Go On.

Courscant. Throughout the horrors of the Galactic Civil War the public face of ‘Imperial Centre’ carried on, and almost flourished, with a perverted sense of normalcy. The upper classes enjoyed expensive food, exquisite wines and only the best in entertainment, for one simple reason. The Empire knew if they could keep these businessmen and nobility happy, then they would not have to force authority onto them, like they had on almost every other planet of the galaxy, thus averting the threat of another political and economic front of the war – the Rebellion was sapping quite enough resources already.

So, the toffs were kept pampered like they’d been used to through the age of the ‘Great Republic’. One of their little luxuries was the theatre. Going to watch a play was actually one of the most preferred past times of many of the rich denizens of Courscant. “Much better than this holo-nonsense that seems to be all the rage these days.” One ex-Senator had once proclaimed to his friends, over brandy and chocolates in his comfortable dining room, while light-years away on Chandarilla Grand Moff Tarkin was lowering his ship onto a group of protesters – killing scores of innocents in one fell swoop.

Indeed, the theatre was something people like the ex-Senator liked to refer to as ‘magical’. Tales of death, love, tragedy, victory and loss told to the privileged few, mere metres in front of their very eyes. This made them feel cultured – gave them another reason as to why they were superior to the millions starving in the undercities below.

This was a thought that always haunted young Amon Tone. Amon was brought up by loving parents of the Courscant middle-classes – a strange group of people who spent the entirety of their perfectly comfortable existence trying to advance just one tier higher. This was why, Amon worried, he was put into acting school. The actors of Courscant were much revered – held in high repute even by the Empire itself (they were, after all, another link in the propaganda chain). The young boy had never wanted to be an actor, until he discovered his apparent skill at it. From then on the practice grew on him, and he chose to keep his dreams of flying through space to himself.

But, Amon was haunted at what went on miles beneath his feet. He was surrounded by fat, stupid humans far to up their own backsides to know what was going on in the world. Sure, there were aliens around the theatre – the stagehands, cleaners and other servants were normally humanoids (Twi’leks, Sullusteans – “nothing too ghastly”, the owner had once commented) – yet they were held in shockingly low repute. Amon never saw the actual figures, but he guessed they were paid a pittance for their huge workload and long, tiring shifts. And this saddened him.

Not in the same way as some of the upper classes. The way a man can feel sorry for a beggar in the street, throw him a coin, and walk on by muttering “damn shame…”, but in a real way. Amon talked to the aliens. He knew their names, knew enough about them to talk for hours, and enjoyed their presence. He was, to put it lightly, “frowned upon” by the other actors, but he didn’t care. Or rather he did care – for the right people.

--

It was the opening night of ‘Tragedy of the Republic’, in make-up and costume, that the problem started. The make-up woman, a rather pushy girl born in the same suburb as Amon, fussed around with his hair while her two assistants put the finishing touches on the two ‘leads’. Reginald Baltane was one of their theatre’s most well-known and accomplished actors – despite his apparent age. His usually pale features had been darkened with foundation and his head was now half-cowled in a hood. He was playing the part of ‘Master Frans’, a ‘Jedi’ vying for the heart of the woman next to him – Rene Disra.

The plot of the play went thus: ‘Madame Tyrin’ (played by Rene) took the central role as a young Courscantian lady torn between two prospective suitors. The good, just Imperial officer ‘Stellian’ and the tainted, wicked – yet masquerading as ‘good’ – ‘Jedi Master Frans’. These two would proclaim their undying love for her throughout the piece through poetic verse and song, until the finale – when they would fight to the death for her hand in marriage. The ‘Jedi’ would of course lose, because of the need to make the Order look bad and justify their recent ‘disbandment’, and the Imperial would win the day. It was an awful piece of writing, Amon had to admit. The rhyming, when present, was pathetic and the songs only just in key – it really stood out as an example of the lengths the Empire would go to, to make themselves look good in the eyes of ‘those who mattered’.

And one of the worst things, for him, was how the author had written the aliens. One of the smaller parts of the piece was that of a Trandoshan who had also fallen in ‘love’ with ‘Madame Tyrin’. The part was written in the style of a bloodthirsty predator, an unfortunately common stereotype of the Trandoshan race. Carnal, aggressive, unthinking – the character itself would be killed off by ‘Stellian’ as a show of ‘love and dedication’ to Tyrin, just before the main interval.

“Did you hear?” Baltane had begun, chuckling “Dear old Franny tells me one of those ghastly lizards actually enquired for the part of Vorsk!”

“Oh, darling, you must stop!” the woman giggled, “You and your tales crack my make-up up something wicked, you know!”

“I’m deadly serious, my dear. Some dirty underworlder actually wrote in for an audition. Attached his biography and all sorts, so I’m told!”

The two laughed unabated for what seemed to Amon like minutes before he could muster up any sort of words. “Pardon my asking, Reginald, but… logically speaking… wouldn’t having a Trandoshan playing a Trandoshan be best? I mean-”

Their laughter stopped, abruptly, and for a brief moment the air felt as cold as a night on Hoth. The two older thesps swapped a glance, gauging the other’s reactions, before they smiled once more. Rene got up from her chair and walked over to the lad. “Oh, my dear Amon… such innocence. I know you like to… convene with the staff now and again, but you can’t let such frivoralities cloud your judgement,”

He bit back words. This was not the first time his relationships with the back stage crew had been jovially dismissed as ‘roughing it’ or even ‘something he’ll grow out of’ and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last. But he couldn’t afford to speak up, lest he prompt the wrath of the director, and surely the Empire. He had to listen to what they had to say and deny it only on the inside.

“She is right,” Baltane barked, melodramatically “To be terribly blunt, my boy, humans are superior to aliens… and we cannot let them forget it! If we did…”

“Imagine! Aliens at the Concourse! Aliens on the committees! Aliens… everywhere! What would our world come to if that would happen, Amon?”

“I… don’t know, Miss,” he conceded, trying hard to keep the emotion from his words. He wasn’t sure if he was successful.

“Give it time, young Amon, give it time… And, before I forget,” she grinned, leaning in closer to his ear “My daughter has requested your presence after the show. I trust you will pay her this honour?”

Amon managed to follow her dramatic change of subject without looking too shocked. The cast, it seemed, had a habit of such dramatic changes, and he’d been forced to grow used to it. “Of course,” he smiled

Reginald hopped up from his speak as the lad spoke, trotting over to link arms with his leading lady . “Haha! The boy may not have his morals in place just yet, but he knows his duty! Bravo! See you on stage!”

--

Despite all this laying on the lad’s mind, the show went on without a hitch. Amon had a lot of lines in the role of Stellian’s best friend, performed more than adequately and went down well with the audience.

As usual, though, the major show of appreciation went to the lead players – a typical standing ovation while the three actors bowed at the edge of the stage, conveying their heartfelt gratitude to the stage-crew, director, producer and so on. Whether they actually meant such thanks, or were just following the old traditions because that was “what was done” was unclear - Amon didn’t really care. The show went on without any hitches, and his little “mistake” seemed to have been forgotten. That was what mattered, for the moment.

Safe in this assumption, he made his way back to the dressing room he shared with three of the other ‘secondary’ actors in the piece. The trip was usually a quiet one. He’d taken in the still-strong smell of wood, greasepaint and the homely aroma that hung around the older, more worn-in costumes. Such sensations were often what kept him interested in theatre, ever since the plays had became increasingly influenced by popular (by that, he meant Imperial) opinion.

He didn’t have the usual five-minute walk alone, though. On his trip back he spotted Teelo, the young Rodian in charge of airel props, waiting nervously at one of back-stages many intersections. This was one of the many places backstage lit only by dim ‘mood’ lights. The place was not specifically important, and if it was lit constantly there was a chance someone could have see it from the audience – the management really couldn’t have that.

It was, perhaps because of its perpetual darkness, used by the non-humans as a place to meet and relax between their frequent shifts. The theatre wouldn’t shell out the couple of hundred credits it would cost to convert one of the storage rooms to a ‘lounge’ for them (Baltane had once talked about the subject in such terrible terms Amon couldn’t bring himself to think about what the man had said, never mind repeat it) so they made do with what they could scrounge. In this case there was an old table and a couple of chairs clustered in the corner. Glasses and bottles could be seen glistening in the scraps of light.

Teelo wasn’t sat down, resting or having a drink, though – he was stood up, shifting weight from one foot to another. Amon gave him a knowing look, before he sidled over and leant against a wall next to the Rodian.

“What’s up, Teelo? You’re more jumpy than a Gundark in an ear-piercing store,”

The alien’s almost insect-like mouth twitched into his form of a smile, and Amon could see some of the tension leave his body almost immediately. “The guys and I,” he began, “We’re wondering if you’d like to join us for a drink, once we’ve cleaned up. We’re going down into the underworld, see – you always said you wanted to come,”

It was strange; the way Teelo had mastered basic. He used conjunctives and other advanced techniques with ease, yet it still sounded rather outlandish when he spoke. High-pitched, sometimes drone-like when he let his old Rodian vocal characteristics kick in. But Amon loved it – it was original, special… so much better than the ‘Emperor’s Basic’ they were taught in the school when he was young. That bane of his was something he’d succeeded in getting rid of when he’d trained as an actor, yet tints of it remained. He wished one day he could have an accent as original as Teelo’s – something he could call his own.

He was about to smile, and tell the man he’d be glad to go with them, before his memory kicked in. “I have plans… and by that, I mean someone else has planned things for me,” he chuckled, ruefully. The Rodian nodded along, understanding. “But I would still like very much to come. How about I get this little duty of mine over as quickly as possible and follow you all down?”

Teelo’s expression had changed – but not, Amon had to say – to disappointment. Rather, it became one of contemplation. “The underworld is a complex place - you won’t be able to get down there on your own…” he replied, muttering something to himself in his native tongue for a moment. “But! Bre’lyn has to complete a full sound-check for tomorrow – she’s following us down half an hour late, and she knows the way! Could you go with her?”

“That works with me. Tell her the plan, and that I’ll meet her in the control booth in about half an hour, okay? I have some things to attend to,”

“Right, boss,” he nodded, his grin making a return. Amon gave him a wink, before spinning on his heel and making for the dressing room at a much quicker pace. If dealing with Teelo had been hard, dealing with Cleo was going to be impossible.

--

Cleo appeared to represent the young female population of Courscant perfectly. She was beautiful, well dressed and happy to be alive. And this was true, for the most part. It was around the fifth time Amon and her had been set up for such a meeting – a quiet, private affair in one of the theatre’s many entertainment rooms with drinks and nibbles – and he’d found she was not exactly like her stereotype. After a little drink, and a lot of talking, she often loosened up some (yet never, it seemed, lost her obnoxious sense of ignorance).

She was fine, as an acquaintance, yet he knew his parents (and hers) had designs on them becoming a couple. He’d given it a surprising amount of thought in his spare minutes between rehearsals, and late nights in front of the holoprojector but hadn’t been able to come to a conclusion. On one hand, the fact that a lot of her morals were founded on nothing but what ‘mummy and daddy had told her’ grated on him a lot and he wasn’t sure he could survive a relationship with such a girl. On the other hand, however, he felt as if he could rescue her… that is to say; change what she thought to something closer to the truth. If she became more ‘worldly-wise’ that could fix some of the flaws in her personality he found it hard to put up with.

“We ate at this delightful little Barabel place last night, Amon, I wish you would’ve been there. Transparisteel tanks everywhere filled with all manner of fish and… oh… those little things in shells…”

“Crustaceans,”

“That’s it,” she smiled, taking another sip of her wine “You are useful, sometimes. And quite intelligent – for an actor,”

Amon raised his eyebrows, only half jokingly. It was a little habit of hers, he’d noticed, to wind him about the ‘actors are stupid’ stereotype. He was sure she meant it in a flirtatious way, yet it still touched one of his main nerves. At least it shows she’s trying, he told himself, forcing a smile. Time for a subject change.

“So, what did you think of tonight?”

“You, of course, were wonderful – that is to be expected. But the piece itself seemed to lack… something,”

Amon’s ears perked up at that comment. He had to admit the girl was a lot more interesting when she was acting unexpectantly – even better when the unusual behaviour was a show of intelligence. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, I don’t know if I should… I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings,”

The lad leaned closer to her, conspiratorially, and tapped his nose. “Between me, you, and these four walls, I’m not the biggest fan of this piece either,”

“Oh, good,” she giggled, following his lead and leaning in over the small table that separated them. “Because I thought it was, pardon my Corellian, space trash. The songs were musically inept; the other lines were recycled Republic romanticism – and bad recyc, at that. Please do tell me if I’m wrong, you are the actor, after all…”

He took a moment to take in what she was saying. To comprehend that Cleo, the normally stuck-up ‘believe whatever you’re told’ girl he knew, thought the same as him, before he could muster up a reply. “N… no. You’re not wrong, at all – you’re quite right, in fact. I completely agree,”

In that moment a strange sense of relief seemed to settle in over the pair. She felt relieved that the ‘rebellious’ thoughts she’d been having were not simply a side effect of lack of sleep, or (as her mother had put it) ‘the stress of womanhood’. He, relieved (and hopeful) that the girl seemed to have a lot more sense than she’d shown in previous meetings.

They let the moment reign for a while, until the inevitable happened and it became awkward and stale. Nervous laughter (every single person’s get-out clause) erupted from each of their mouths, cutting through the air of discomfort like a vibroblade through butter, while they struggled to choose a new path for the conversation to go.

Amon, being the man, was the one expected to do so, and this posed a conundrum. He could raise his point about the Trandoshan who wanted to be an actor and see if she agreed with him, yet a little voice in the back of his mind reminded him not to push his luck. There’s a huge difference, it said, between not liking a piece of theatre and abandoning notions that have been drilled into her since she was born.

But, another voice reminded him; she’d taken a risk. He owed it to her to take one back.

“Actually, er… on the note of bad decisions by the management… um… I heard…. I mean… you remember the Trandoshan?”

“The big, lumbering, scaly thing and died half way through? Oh dear – terrible choice of alien, if you ask me! So carnal and savage… makes me shiver just thinking about it,”

And at that moment, the elation he’d felt at her previous show of intelligence faded back into the darkness of ignorance. He knew it. He’d built his hopes up too soon – pictured her as something she wasn’t. Yet.

“Why do you ask?” she smiled, interrupting his train of thought. He’d almost forgotten she was sitting just a metre away, watching him reflect on a subject he couldn’t have her knowing about.

“You know…” he began, bringing the completive look on his face into his tone.. “I really can’t remember… All this acting takes it out of you, you know,”

She looked on, with a smile that told Amon she didn’t suspect a thing. “I can imagine. It’s not as if you’re used to much thinking, is it?”

Again, he forced a smile as she giggled on. Best to contain emotion for later, when she wouldn’t be around to suspect any kind of disappointment. “Exactly. And on that note I may have to cut our meeting short, I’m afraid. I’m really not feeling myself tonight – I do apologise,”

She stood up, her lips still curved into a genuine smile. “You shall just owe me an hour some other night, won’t you?”

“I’m sure I can fit that hour in tomorrow night, after the show, if you’re free?”

“I am, and would be delighted. I shall arrange a time and place with mother and she will let you know tomorrow,”

She spoke as she walked, and before he knew it she was at the door, back facing the portal, waiting for him. Amon stood up and walked over quickly as to not prolong the inevitable. The thing he hated about these meetings the most. Every week the same charade, every week he’d have to pretend he understood.

Courscant Charm Singing. A ritual among the rich denizens of Imperial Centre, invented – Amon was sure – to complicate the already complex concept of romance. She would perform some gesture that, to the untrained eye, would seem perfectly ordinary yet meant something deep and complex in the language of Charm Singing. He’d been given a crash course by one of the other actors, and knew (barely) that placing her hands behind her back meant he hand permission to kiss one of them.

He knelt down and took one of the gloved things. If were not such a good actor he was sure the girl could’ve guessed he was not completely happy with the ritual, yet such irritation was hidden behind a mask of chivalry. He kissed her hand softly and returned to his feet “I shall look forward to our next meeting,”

“As shall I, Amon Tone. Good evening and sweet dreams.”

And with that, she was gone, back to her perfect house in Courscant City. A couple of seconds later, Amon was also gone – to a much different place.

--

The trip down to the ‘Underworld’ was unusual only it’s normalcy. A passenger train, operated (Amon would later find out) by a rather opportunistic transport company, took them most of the way – round and round in a disorientating spiral descent course closer and closer to the city planet’s actual surface. It was ironic that even the aptly named ‘Underworld’ was klicks above surface – a place feared for more reasons people could remember. Down there lived a strange collection of beings without civilization – it was home only to the insane, the lost, and twisted creatures that had evolved in the dark, cold depths of Imperial Centre.

He was, he couldn’t help notice, the only human on the train down. A couple of the aliens on the carriage looked at him curiously, but the atmosphere was relatively friendly, compared to the mood if he had been an alien on human public transport. He supposed that was mostly due to the well-built Bothan sat next to him, glancing at the other non-humans with a look that said ‘Don’t worry. He’s with me’. Bre’lyn seemed to emanate confidence even when she wasn’t communicating with the other non-humans – a sharp contrast to the meek, quiet female sound tech most of the cast were familiar with. Even Amon, who had relaxed with her in good company, had never seen her so happy and assured. He supposed it was something to do with people being in their element – the Underworld was, of course, always going to be hers.

He stepped off the train into a hustling metropolis even he wasn’t prepared for. The pictures in his mind of some quasi-city bathed in shadows immediately shattered. Neon gaudiness from bars and shops lit the dark ‘sky’, while more conventional illumination provided their immediate surroundings with light, reminding him very much of parts of Courscant City at night. The noises hit him nearly as hard as the light – street vendors touted their wares at unbelievably high volumes, the high-pitched whine of speeder engines could be heard overhead, and above it all, the collective conversations from hundreds of pedestrians accumulated into one almost tangible sound wave, washing over the train.

The strangest thing of all was where he stood. The ground – a mix of old duracrete and older metals – felt steady underfoot, blowing away another one of his previous images. Rather naively, he’d feared the ground would feel different to how it did on the ‘surface’… that it wouldn’t feel nearly as solid. Yet it did, and once he’d felt it, he couldn’t understand why he’d thought anything else.

“Come on,” the Bothan said, flashing a toothy grin. “We’re late already,”

With that, she took his hand and led him off into the crowds of people up a less busy side street. This would turn out to be one of the many turns in the start of their trip – turns so numerous Amon didn’t even try to keep track. “Where are we going, out of interest?”

“Jax Bar… A Trandoshan place that seems to like us,”

Amon had virtually no idea how Trandoshan culture worked. He’d touched upon them in school, but even then Palpatane was wary about teaching anything objective – especially when it came to non-humans. All he knew that was that there were a lot of Trandoshan warriors and bounty hunters – so presumed that the beings were found of fighting. Such an assumption offered him very little comfort considering he was being taken to one of their bars.

He didn’t have a lot of time to look – still being dragged by an eager Bre’lyn – but the outside of the place seemed constructed solely of some kind of stone, painted in bright oranges and reds. If he didn’t almost live by the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, he probably would’ve been even more apprehensive – but he would’ve been wrong to do so.

The first thing that hit him was how alive the place was. Small tables, this time painted in a dark orange-brown motif that dominated most of the interior, were crammed with beings of every species he’d ever seen, drinking, laughing – generally having a good time. Even Mon Calamari and Quarren – two species publicly separated by animosity – patted each other on the back at the end of one friendly Sabacc game.

Bre’lyn smiled, giving him a moment to take in the place, before dragging him off to the bar. One of the lizardmen – verging on two-metres in height and seemingly in width – stepped up to serve, folding his arms.

“If it isn’t my favourite furball,” he laughed, his grasp of Basic shockingly firm “The others are over clogging up table seven,”

“As usual, eh? Well I’ll go join them – once I’ve got a drink in my hand,”

“Firstly,” the Trando began, his tone becoming much less friendly “You know how I deal with… humans. Who’s the skin?”

With that, something changed. A dark cloud seemed to settle in over the two square metres the three occupied, and the lad felt himself stepping back away from the bar and Bre’lyn. Amon looked at her, fretfully, but she didn’t mirror such emotion. “This,” she replied, placing a furry hand on his shoulder “Is Amon Tone,”

He frowned, wondering how his name was going to save him from death by Trandoshan, and frowned even harder when the alien’s malice turned back into mirth. “Jax has heard a lot about you, human. And if what I hear is true, I think a free drink is in order,”

The man turned around to his rack of bottles, leaving one confused Amon in his wake. He looked back at Bre’lyn, as if she may be able to give him some answers, but she was still, smiling to herself.

“One Jax Special – nothing like the watered down trash they serve up where you come from,”

Amon’s bemused gaze moved down from the barman, to the drink he’d just served up. The yellow liquid was still steaming with apparent heat… or alcoholic strength. Worse still, it sloshed around in a thick, metal tankard – perhaps, Amon feared, to contain whatever effects the beverage could have until in someone’s mouth.

But if there was one thing he’d learned at an actor, it was never to look a gift horse in the mouth. And if there was one thing he knew deep down, it was never to offend a seven feet tall Trandoshan.

“I don’t know how you know me, but thanks,” he smiled, taking a sip.

It was hot. In fact, hot wasn’t the precise word for how it felt in his mouth. Tea was hot. Coffee was hot. This was h-o-t . The two non-humans laughed as his face turned red with the drink, and he let it slip down his throat – burning as it went.

“Hot,” he sighed, the two laughing harder. “But good. I’ll be back for another one of these later,”

“Impressive,” Jax nodded, shocked at such a positive reaction. “And as to how I know you, you’ll have to ask your friends over there. I know only what they have told me. Now, furry one, I suppose you’d like a drink...?”

--

“So what brings you down here, anyway?”

It was some time later. Amon had moved onto less… potent sustenance – the only one who had, in fact. Indeed, the others around the table were still on their drinks of choice: Twi’leki brews and Rodian spirits littered the table, testament to how both species liked their alcohol. Amon couldn’t help but smile how each alien brought their own tastes and preferences to the floor – a practice which had killed a lot of time, but made him quite drunk. Hence he’d finished off the last drink they’d bought him – a bitter Ithorian vodka mix (a perfect example, so he’d been told, of their legendary skill when it came to botany) and went on to the much more tame Lomin Ale.

He took a sip of the crisp lager while thinking about just how to answer Jax’s question. He turned slowly to the Trandoshan, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, and frowned. “I was going to say curiosity, but that doesn’t really cover it. Curiosity… and escapism, I suppose. All my life I’ve been told what Courscant is and what aliens are. The small, doubting part of me wanted proof, I think, that Palpatane is wrong. The other part of me wanted to get out of Imperial City,”

The lizardman nodded, happy with the answer. The others mirrored his sentiment. “And what do you think?” Bre’lyn asked

Amon didn’t have to think up the right words for that question – they came out with the fluidity that always accompanied honesty. “I love it – I really do. And not in the way people above would,”

“What do you mean?”

“Like it was some kind of getaway. Some kind of retreat there for their pleasure, respite from their busy little lives up there,”

The entourage chuckled in realisation and agreement. Although they didn’t voice it, they shared the opinion that Amon had a sensible head on his shoulders.

“Don’t get me started on humans,” the Twi’lek, Jel’dria, in charge of lighting up in the theatre smiled, the shine and glint of his teeth not those of any ordinary FX Technician. “They’re never happy with our work,”

Bre’lyn growled, a sound Amon couldn’t recall ever leaving her mouth before, in agreement. Jel gave her a nod before going on.

“All day long, it’s ‘Oh Jill, could be bring up the lights just a tad?’ or ‘Jem, this is completely wrong! We need this light in act four, not three!’”

Amon raised an eyebrow, the skills that had been drilled into him from an early age kicking in over the mist of alcohol. Jel’dria’s impersonations of Baltane and an other actor had been good – very good, in fact. He had purged of a lot of the Twi’lek ‘hostility’ from his voice – an act that shocked Amon. Even he, as open-minded as he was, had never heard any aliens act. On that thought he realised everyone was looking at him, awaiting some kind of reaction. He laughed at his lapse, and got back into the spirit of the night – not forgetting to file the little nugget of information away for later.


OOC: A re-post, I know, but I have something in the pipeline for Amon and Co..

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Tue Aug 19, 2003 5:35 am

The information’s full relevance would only hit Amon later, when he was much more sober. When he’d gotten over the shock of what the non-humans had said to him.

He’d known something was coming the moment they all went quiet. For a distinct, tableau-like second everything around their table went silent and still. Papers rustled, and from his raggedy cloth bag, Teelo produced a package.

“Amon,” Jax ventured, even his normally brash voice subdued “We’ve written something and we want you to be in it,”

His mind still foggy from the after-effects of alcohol, the weight of the Trandoshan’s statement took a while to sink in. A script! Even Amon, who counted himself among the most liberal on Imperial Centre, hadn’t imagined the underworld aliens had the drive – the raw ambition – to do anything like write a play for themselves.

The revelation had the effect of a couple of cold showers. Teelo slid the script – paper, as with scripts around the galaxy – over the cluttered table until Amon could reach out and pick it up. It wasn’t the thickest he’d ever held, but its symbolic weight seemed to stretch off into the mega tonnes.

An air of expectancy hung over the table like a cloud of cigarette smoke. All eyes were on the human as he opened the first page, and started to read. As he skimmed the whole documents, pages at a time, they watched for any slight movement in his boyish features. A twitch of a smile at the edge of his mouth, or his eyes opening just that bit more out of sheer shock. It took five agonising minutes for the youth to finish the script – by then the non-humans were barely able to contain themselves.

“Who wrote this?” he asked, rather distantly

All went to speak at once, battering Amon with a storm of stray syllables before they realised what was going on. “All of us, really,” Jel’dria said, finally.

“A collaborative effort,” Bre’lyn added

He was silent for a few more painful seconds, considering his words. “It’s… awesome. I mean, I know I’m only an actor, but this is the best thing I’ve read in years. You haven’t showed this to anyone else, have you?”

“Noone on the surface,” replied an excited Teelo

“Excellent!” Amon grinned “Wow… I mean… wow… Where do you wanna perform it?”

Jax smiled in return, his predatorial teeth glinting in the bar’s mood lights “The Bowl,”

“Somewhere down here?”

The group looked at each other as if the boy had grew three heads, it took them a moment to remember that he was new to their world. “Oh, yes,” Bre’lyn began “It’s an old Republic place. Not many home comforts, but people have used it before for plays and… other things. With all the equipment we’ve been lifting from The Royal we should be able to make it into something resembling a theatre space,”

Amon laughed at that last comment. He’d suspected the non-humans had been stealing – taking seemingly unimportant equipment once in a while, here and there, so none of the other staff would notice. They all knew that, with the money the Empire was pumping into propaganda, the theatre could easily afford to buy replacements for anything they lost. The management probably believed the aliens were too stupid to think of stealing a wooden beam, or a couple of light fixtures. Thank the Force, Amon reminded himself, that those management types lived in a much different world than his new friends.

“That’s great! So you have a place, and you have the resources. What do you want me to do?”

The sudden excitement faded back once more into anxiety. Jax’s smile disappeared behind his scaly lips, Jel’dria’s brain tails drooped and Amon suddenly felt as if he’d said something wrong.

“I mean,” he said, trying to compensate “I assume you want me to play the human lead?”

“Yes,” Teelo said, slowly methodically “But we were also thinking…”

Bre’lyn sighed, annoyed at herself and her friends reluctance “We know how to light a stage, and set one up, to add the sound. But we don’t know how to make what happens on there really happen,”

“Oh!” Amon exclaimed “You want me to direct the piece, too?”

They nodded, hesitantly, and suddenly – in that single moment – he felt as if he’d put them in the same position humans put them in every day, without even realising.

“Why didn’t you just say?” he compensated “I’d love to direct a piece like this,”

He watched, with muted amusement, as the group blinked a few times – looked at each other to make sure they weren’t imagining things. “Really?”

“I haven’t directed before… so I can’t guarantee any results, but I’d love to give it a try,”

Their celebrations came from nowhere – a welcome interruption. They shook hands, patted each other on the back – their previously angst ridden faces turned into almost comical smiles. He waited for them to calm down before speaking again.

“Have you cast parts yet?”

“Cast and rehearsed,” Bre’lyn answered, her voice quickened by the good news “But we can’t seem to get it together. Kind of why we asked you in the first place…”

“I can see some of the material on stage, then?”

“Soon!” Teelo chirped

“The sooner the better. How about after rehearsals tomorrow?”

The aliens looked towards Jel’dria, who Amon presumed had been previously voted director and organiser. “I’ll start making a few calls,” she said, springing up from her seat. “But once the cast know you’re in, I’m sure they’ll drop everything to turn up,”

Amon silently wondered what the cast had been told about him – if he was going to have a lot to live up to. But, a big part of him couldn’t help be excited. This kind of thing was exactly what he loved about the prospect of becoming an actor. Name in lights, people almost begging to work with the wonderful Amon Tone…

Okay, it wasn’t the most down to earth of fantasies, but it was his. And he had a very good feeling about this underworld performance. A very good feeling.

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Surprise..

Post by sidekick » Wed Aug 20, 2003 8:20 am

And so it began. Amon and his players would assemble, every night, in the dusty room above Jax’s bar and rehearse. After the first rehearsal, Amon had told Jel’dria that they’d perform in a week. It was funny, really – the actors were all good, better than a lot of the humans Amon had worked with in his short career – it was just they lacked the confidence, and the on stage savvy, to make their play as great as it could be. He found himself recalling old, dusty directing classes from his youth – lectures about adjoining gestures to their words, on vocal projection (a problem that Jax, at least, had no worries about) and blocking. It was two days away from performing, when the piece was in a state that Amon thought could pass even the highest standards of the underworld that the second shock of the week came.

“I shall not lay down in the face of oppression! You may take our bodies, but you will never touch the spirits within!”

“Does your alien insolence know no bounds?”

Amon sighed, but immediately shut up as he realised the scene had stopped, and all eyes were on him. He still wasn’t used to the directing business – the diplomacy, the right and wrong ways to word criticism. But he was getting there. “Sorry. It’s just that, this scene needs to move more quickly. It needs to be bang, bang, bang! You know what I mean?”

Although in full costume – one made up as a human Imperial, the other as a Wookie slave – he could see them both blushing, and again cursed the fact that he wasn’t a better director.

“Don’t worry about it – it happens to actors everywhere. Now run it one more time from the top, but, this time, I want double the energy,”

They both nodded and began to walk off stage, when he heard Bre’lyn’s polite coughing to his left. He nodded for her to speak. “Boss, there’s a man at the door who’d like to speak to you. Seems pretty important.”

Indeed, as he looked over to the now open doorway, he could see a shadowy figure blocking out what little light there was. It was strange - the moment he set eyes on the man he had a feeling – not a particularly foreboding one, rather a sensation that told him: ‘Something big’s coming. Something very big.’

The sensation, and his utmost trust in any that he got, probably explained why he told the cast to take a short break while he went to the see whoever it was. As he got closer, and the house lights wiped out the shadows, he was surprised to see it was a human male, not a lot older than himself. Surprised because, in the past week he’d been visiting the underworld, Amon hadn’t set eyes on one of his own kind. He’d only escaped any hostility towards humans because of word of just what he was doing getting around. For another man to come down meant he was either very brave, or very stupid. Either way, he’d need an awfully good reason.

Amon walked up, open, earnestly, and smiled. “Can I help you?”

“I’m sorry to interrupt, I’m sure this is a very busy period for your troupe,” the man began, his voice educated, with a rough edge. He sounded, Amon theorised, as if he came from Corellia, or somewhere nice on the Inner Rim, at least, but had been educated somewhere better. “But I have a proposition for you,”

“And what’s that?”

“I’m aware that you’re planning to perform this piece of theatre down here in the underworld. Do you have any other plans for it?”

“Not as of yet, I want to see how it’s received in The Bowl before planning anything else. Where do you think we’d like to take it, the Emperor’s Palace?”

The man smiled, but Amon wasn’t sure if it was just humour on his face. There was definitely amusement, but he wasn’t quite sure at what – or whom. “Not quite. But how would you care for taking this play back to your old home?”

For the third time in one week, the actor was completely lost for words. His mouth opened and closed a few times, as if the words themselves didn’t know what they were doing. Finally, after they put themselves together, he spoke “The Theatre Royal..?”

“My name is Alec Trellian, and I’m with the Rebel Alliance. We’re interested in having you perform this astounding piece in the Theatre Royal, on Gala night,”

“Gala night?!” Amon exclaimed, fighting the urge to burst into laughter “You’re crazy, Mr. Trellian. Absolutely insane. They’d never let us show this piece on a normal night, never mind the biggest night of the season,”

“I never said we were going to ask permission,” the man replied, the same amused, slightly predatory smile on his face. “Allow me to put it this way – we’d deal with the reservations, and make sure you were uninterrupted for the duration of the piece. All you and your troupe would have to do would be to perform,”

“Oh sure. All we’d have to do is perform, leave the building and get shot full of holes. What could be easier?”

“I find your lack of faith… disheartening, Mr. Tone. The Rebel Alliance would never leave such friends hanging around to the scathing critique of the Empire,” he replied, with a touch of wit Amon had only ever heard from some of the best actors and directors “We have already arranged to lift your company from the planet minutes after the final curtain. I could guarantee your safety, if you were to accept,”

Again, words escaped the actor-come-director. A minute ago he was directing a piece of theatre that would entertain the downtrodden aliens of the underworld. Now, this Rebel was offering him the chance to take the piece above ground to the impressionable Cleo’s of Imperial Centre – to change how people thought of aliens in the place were they were hated most.

It was a big responsibility. Huge, in fact. What he’d been hinting at to Cleo, to Beltane and the other actors. The urge he’d felt the first time he saw someone spit at a sick Twi’lek on the street. That part – the passionate, get-up-and-go – part of him was screaming at him to say yes. And, if not for the smaller part of him – the part which had listened in class, took notice when his mother and father spoke, that part of him that would disgustingly always be Courscant – he would’ve accepted right off.

But as he looked around, he realised the offer wasn’t his to accept at all. It was for the others – the ones who wrote the script, worked hours on end to get the words right, put the stage together – to decide, not some two-bit actor who’d been called him to give them confidence in themselves.

“I’m convinced, but I’m not the man who matters most, Mr. Trellian. These guys are the ones you’re going to have to convince.”

User avatar
TalRaimi
'Will finish a thread one day…'
Posts: 1201
Joined: Sun Feb 16, 2003 1:35 am
Location: The Uncharted Territories
Contact:

Post by TalRaimi » Thu Aug 21, 2003 2:54 pm

OOC: Wow... now this is one of the most original threads i've seen in ages. Even if the first part was a repost. :)

Nice work pete, keep it up.
'Would you do it with me, heal the scars and change the stars?'

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:34 am

OOC: Thanks, mate. Keep an eye on it as it gets interesting...

This next post isn't what I'd imagined, but I want to move things on pretty quickly and I didn't want to weigh the process down with speeches and director-babble. Tell me what any of you readers think, please:

IC:

And somehow, he did. Amon had thought that, no matter how much his fellow players hated their lives on Courscant, getting off world was never their biggest priority. He had a feeling that they would want to stay for the simple fact that, if they left, it would be rather like surrendering. Giving in.

And he was partly right. Alec’s first version of his proposal was greeted with disbelief, verging into disgust. But, as the Rebel spoke on, fewer and fewer of the aliens were rejecting the idea straight out.

He spoke with an almost mystifying quality. Amon, the only classically trained actor of the group, recognised it immediately, while the others – without this knowledge – could not but be taken in. The mysterious man spoke of a new life for them – journeying from planet to planet, from star system to system, putting on all different types of plays and changing people’s minds.

Amon had loved the idea – new experiences, meeting all kinds of people, and best of all, acting against the Empire without putting your life directly on the line (so he thought). But, he wasn’t too sure the aliens dreamt of the same life. Wasn’t sure if they’d go for it.

And yet, as Alec went on, it became more and more obvious that they would. In the nicest possible way (with a diplomacy that Amon envied no end), the speaker managed to convince them that their lives on Imperial Centre, while fine in their own way, would pale in comparison to the life as players for the Alliance.

And so, Jel’dria held a vote. If one of them didn’t want to go, then none would – that was the deal. They didn’t leave anyone behind.

Unsurprisingly, they never did.

--

The rest of the rehearsal time, for Amon, at least, went like a blur. Weeks later, he vaguely remembered getting more and more passionate by the hour – issuing directions while made-up in full costume, running around the stage giving the other actors little, but very useful, advice on what to do and just how to do it. He remembered feeling happy – feeling as if he’d accomplished something huge by the time that they’d performed for The Bowl’s packed house.

Again, for some reason, all that remained in his memory of that performance were images and emotions. Pre-stage butterflies, the likes of which he’d never even dreamt of before. The silence of hundreds of expectant spectators, packed into the old duracrete ruin, behind the rapidly erected curtain. Their roars of laughter, and gasps of surprise. The image of every single one of them – beings from every corner of the known galaxy – stood up and applauding like their lives depended on it. And, most vivid of all, the hammer blow of fatigue that hit him the moment he left the stage for the last time.

The only other memory – a mere shard of the night – that remained was of Alec emerging from the darkness of backstage, his hands beating a slow, steady clap. He needed no words – the applause spoke a thousand of it’s own.

They were ready.

User avatar
Nivest
The Sojourner
Posts: 1458
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2003 6:21 pm

Post by Nivest » Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:28 pm

OOC: Keep it up man, your thread is one of my favorites on the boards. Btw, interesting plot twist by bringing the Rebellion into it; I didn't see that coming at all.
As for critique about your last post, it wasn't as interesting as the others, but it was well written and it well fufilled its purpose to move the thread along to the climax. I probably would have done the same thing.

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Sat Aug 23, 2003 4:59 am

OOC:

:)

Thanks, man. It's comments like that which keeps this thread fresh. Not to mention going.

Anyway, I'll probably hold back posting until tuesday - I have a heavy amount of work on (It's a Beatles celebration over here in Liverpool, which means the bar I tend in is going a bit crazy).

But watch this space for more surprises..

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

A slight update...

Post by sidekick » Tue Aug 26, 2003 6:35 am

He’d read the daily news reports, watched the propaganda, listened to the hear’say – and yet Amon couldn’t have predicted – not in a million years – how it’d feel to sit in the same room as the galaxies most infamous terrorists.

The Rebel Alliance.

Amon, on Alec’s recommendation, had been brought in on the primary briefing session. It was, as he expected, set up in a dank and dingy room in the bowels of Courscant. And the people were dressed in dark, hooded clothes. But that was were the similarities between the Empire’s view and the real life ended.

“Don’t worry, Amon, we won’t be pushing blasters into your hands and asking you to shoot the audience,” the head Rebel smiled “The success of this mission, in fact, depends on zero civilian casualties. Captain Wi’kii?”

Another of the Rebels – a particularly lean Weequay – nodded and waved at the actor through the candlelight. “Indeed. Weapons will be set to stun, with the exception of interruption by an Imperial counter-terrorist unit. Even then, innocents will not be harmed,”

Amon nodded, impressed. Although he’d never really believed it, it was good to know that the Rebels were not the pack of bloodthirsty marauders the Empire made them out to be.

“Would you take us through your strategy, then, Captain?”

“Certainly. Maps supplied to us by Mr. Tone and his friends show there are three locations where we can gain entry without being detected. Three teams of five will slip in fifteen minutes before the performance. Further information, from past Gala events, has given us a rough outline of security strength and protocols. We will be able to compensate for these and all security personnel – civilians, you understand, rather than Imperial slugs – will be taken prisoner for the duration. Team B, the all-human insertion group – will pose as these security corps and make sure the audience observe all proceedings on stage.

“Once the, as you put it, ‘final curtain goes down’,” the alien explained, the phrase seeming strange from his mouth “My people will escort you to our main exit, or if this is unavailable, one of the secondaries. Commander?”

The one who’d spoken first, a dark haired, light skinned human, nodded graciously. “We will, by this time, have a lighter waiting on one of the luxury landing pads. It was bought and registered through legitimate channels before we… aha… acquired it for our own use. A friend in Courscant Traffic Control so I’m told – provided its previous owner – once a rather wealthy slave lord, with an unlimited take-off window. Our escape should, therefore, be relatively simple. This operation will only work once before the Empire condemn Courscant theatre and begin to crack down-”

“Even more…” Amon added

“Indeed, on exactly what gets put on stage. If you and your friends are still sure you want to go through with this, Amon, I believe we are ready,”

“So are we.”

“Excellent,” the Commander said, rubbing his hands together. “Captain, prepare your men. Amon… well, do the same. It’s time to open some eyes.”

OOC:

I'll post the theatrical coup when I have more inspiration...
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Sat Aug 30, 2003 7:46 am

People had told Amon, in his younger days, that doing certain things over and over meant they got easier and easier. These people, Amon reflected – as he surveyed the mass of bodies in front of him – had never been involved in the theatre business. Or, for that matter, the insurgency business.

He’d never been the one to give pep talks. Pep talks were, to be fair, acting – but acting without a script, working out of the box. He’d always been the one in the crowd, the one nodding, listening while worrying if he’d remembered all his lines. Never responsible for anyone else.

But, he told himself; the whole week had been a baptism of fire. There was no point getting worried seven days into it. And so he began.

“I regret that I don’t know you all – a mistake I hope to rectify in times to come. From what I do know, the majority of you have never acted before – and none of you have acted before an all-human audience on Gala night. It’s not going to be easy – Sithspit, I still get shivers thinking about it,” he chuckled “But over this past week I’ve witnessed you all grow from individuals with separate talents, into a cast of the likes I have never seen before – even in this grand old place.

“All of those of you who think they’re not ready are wrong – and, as of now, since I’m the director, you’re not allowed to argue.” That got some laughs, from the more laid back of the group, and Amon couldn’t help notice other people following suit. “You’re ready to act. That is important. What’s more important, though, is what you’re ready to act on. Injustice. Cruelty. Prejudice. Big things for a play to tackle, but things, you’ll agree, that are worthy of such risk.

“When the curtain goes up, and we step onto stage, keep those three things in mind. I’m human. I have only the tiniest idea of what it must be like to feel these things, so I’m doing this for the good of all. And, although you should, too, you should also be doing this for yourself. This play, this single action, will have consequences beyond our comprehension, throughout this star system and many others – and we cannot forget that. But we can also not forget what it means to us. So go out there, and do yourselves proud,”

He was expecting some sort of response – this expectation didn’t prepare him for the applause the aliens threw his way. He didn’t think they were going to start stamping their feet, shouting out loud… but they did. He took a big breath and walked into the group, shaking hands and slapping backs. The curtain was going up in a matter of minutes. Wi’kii had called him five minutes ago to tell him the ‘other’ part of the operation was ‘in the green’. All they had to do was go out on stage and act. It seemed to simple on paper – no gun battles, no putting lives on the line.

It seemed so simple.
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Sun Sep 07, 2003 9:29 am

It felt like nothing he’d ever felt before – in performance or otherwise. The audience, like lambs to the slaughter, watched the proceedings on stage like they always did. They weren’t, after all, bright enough to do anything else. But, as they watched, Amon could hear mutterings… concerned whisperings echoing around the stalls. Is that a real lizard on stage? No… the make-up is just so realistic. It’s amazing what they can do these days… Are they allowed to say that about the Emperor?

It took all of his training to ignore what was going on past the orcastra pit. Their piece had turned out just too small to qualify for a interval, and he was on-stage for almost the entire play. No small feat on it’s own – never mind having to ignore the mutterings below.

So, they carried on regardless. He couldn’t ever look straight at the audience – something like that could ruin the atmosphere, and indeed the mutual suspension of disbelief that theatre relied on, but on off-glances he could see the audience was enthralled. The reasons, he was sure, differed. Some of its members really were passionate about what was going on on-stage and really did follow the plot and it’s meanings. Others were just trying to remember every little detail so they weren’t left out when their friends talked about the play at some later date, over aged Corellian Brandy. Whatever their reasons, Amon told himself, barely able to contain the excitement welling up inside They’re watching. They’re listening. The message is there right in front of their eyes and they’re not shying away.

And so, in his (and the plays) last monologue, he gave what he was sure to be the best performance of his life. He’d rehearsed the thing over and over, of course, and blocked in gestures at certain times, flourishes at others, but as he stood up in front of all those impressionable faces, something - the spirit of the Rebellion, he guessed - took him over. His voice projected perfectly, echoing off the far wall with ease. His words were clearer than crystal. The tone of his voice varied wildly, but precisely as the script and character demanded.

And, when he was finished, and the lights went down, it took him a moment to realise that there was perfect silence. No muttering, no coughing, no shifting in seats. It was as if each and every member of the audience was sucking in every last word, every final feeling.

And then came the applause. He almost wasn’t ready for it – expecting the silence to run along for a good hour more – but when it came, it made the Bowl’s applause seem pitiful. The piece had been adored in the Underworld because the people were those who could identify with the goings on. For the hundreds of humans who had just watched, it was something completely original. Like someone had opened a door in their mind they never even dreamt existed.

Amon blinked a few times in the darkness, his mind still grappling with the weight of what they’d just done. He obviously wasn’t alone – it took the cast and crew a few moments to get back into the swing of things. His fellow actors walked onto stage, almost dreamily, to line up for the final bow.

The lights came back up, and as if on cue, the applause stepped up. It wasn’t the raucous, foot stomping cheering that they had received days ago, but concentrated – determined – ovation from people who really were in the moment.

And the cast took it in, bathed in it – hoping such a feeling would… or at least could, last forever. Amon thought the half-moon smile that had etched itself across his face would never go away. That was until he saw the Captain in the wings, staring back at him with an expectant, worried look that couldn’t have been good.

--

He’d ushered the cast off stage quickly after that, sharing the joy that always erupted when a successful cast finished their first real performance for a few precious moments, before reluctantly ducking away to talk to the Weequay.

“We’ve got a problem?”

He nodded. “We fear the Imperials know something is amiss. We have to leave now,”

“As in right this minute?”

“I am sorry. Alec has been loading our ship with as much of your equipment as he could. You must take some less conspicuous clothing and follow my teams out,”

This is it, Amon thought. This is where we see if the anti-Imperial propaganda we see so often is true.

He wasn’t a particularly brave person, but Amon knew that there were certain times when certain things had to be done. He jumped, effortlessly, onto a piece of scenery and stamped his foot.

“Cast!” he shouted. They heard him, but assumed it was something trivial and went back to their celebrations. “Listen to me now!” That got them. The talk died down, and they all rotated so they could see Amon. They were smiling still, causing Amon to shudder… they didn’t even know what was going on “You did great out there, and you have a right to be proud… but right now we have to leave!”

“Right now?”

“What about our things?”

“Your choice: your things or your lives!” he went on, such harsh talk alien to his usual friendly voice “Find a security member – follow them,”

Hopping down, he was surprised to see the Weequay still there. His gaze was sympathetic – the hand placed on Amon’s shoulder the same. “We all have to do things we’d rather not, Mr. Tone. No-one will judge you for that,”

“I know… Okay. We’ve wasted enough time, let’s make our leave,”

“Excellent idea.”
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Blast off?

Post by sidekick » Mon Sep 08, 2003 8:03 am

It was a wet Courscant evening – the troupe could feel it in the air. That usually wonderful smell of rain, or rather just before rain hung around the theatre like a invisible curtain. It was normally a refreshing change from the inside of the building, something they could enjoy on their various routes home. Amon had no time to enjoy it, this time. He was busy, stood at the concealed exit with a pair of Rebel troopers.

The taller man looked him over critically “You sure you want to wait?”

“The tech crew still haven’t got out yet,” he explained “We’re not leaving without them,”

The man shrugged. “How long do you think we’re going to have to wait?”

“Well, they’ve already had five minut-”

It was then that something happened to Amon – something that’d never happened before and something he hadn’t had the foresight to think about when he first accepted Alec’s offer. An ear-splitting screech exploded from somewhere in the darkness and his vision lit up with a crimson flash of light. Before he knew what was happening, his side lit up with a searing pain. The smell of burning clothes, and what he guessed to be burning flesh.

“What the frelling, frelling…” he found himself yelling

“What’s the matter?” one of the Rebels, now flat on the floor, asked

“I’ve never been shot at before!”

The two troopers, despite the apparent danger, swapped an amused look. “Then, take it from pros – you probably want to duck,”

He did – and just in time. The previous sniper shot, that had sliced across his fleshy side just above his right hip, had been replaced with much more automatic suppressive fire. He’d said before he wasn’t a brave man, yet he didn’t feel as in-your-face terrified as he’d thought he would’ve. He was more concerned about the rest of his people, and whether they’d see what was happening before wandering out into the dark alleyway.

He got down on his hands and knees, and looked across to the still open door. It was dark inside, he couldn’t see if they were coming or not.

“Stay here,” he muttered “I’m going to go and get them out of there before it’s too late,”

The two men didn’t argue. They were busy returning fire at the Imperials – hiding somewhere out in the dark. So, with as much speed as his silly position could muster, he began to wiggle over to the doorway – hoping the Empire’s finest wouldn’t spot him.

--

An eerie quiet had settled over the backstage area. There was normally the ever present humming of the big rig lights, and the faraway sounds from the stage and beyond, but, for the first time he could remember, there was nothing.

He jogged, as quietly as possible through the shadowy depths. The Imperials had obviously shut off power to the theatre, so he was navigating on memory alone. He’d spent a lot of time backstage, practicing lines, talking to the crew, but this was the first time he realised just how much time he must’ve spent there . Skidding a left on one of the areas main cross sections, groped out into the near darkness to the door he was looking for.

And, with a silent sigh of relief, he realised it was the right one. He’d thought he may have made a wrong turn somewhere and not be able to find it - the only passage to the control box, where most of the technicians sat out the theatrical proceedings. If they were to he held up anywhere, it’d be in there.

But, to his dismay, the door was locked. Not very tight - he could feel the door rattle in his hand – but it was locked all the same.

They must’ve only put one of the locks on… If I can find enough room for a run up, I might be able to break it down and…

“Don’t move,”

It wasn’t a natural voice. Amon knew about natural voices – they were different, had imperfections. This one sounded flat, almost robotic. He knew who spoke before he even turned around.

“Put your hands up,” the trooper ordered – his white armour shining in the dark “You’re under arrest,”

He didn’t speak. He could hardly think. Images, inspired by rumours and hearsay, were flashing through his head – torture, incarceration, even his own bloody death. It took all his self-control to keep a straight, unemotional face. He’d been taught how to banish emotion when on stage, but he usually dealt with a case of the giggles – not fear. And this was definitely a case of fear.

He was so busy trying to keep a grip on his fears that he completely missed what happened next. A orange-red blur swung out of the darkness, smashing into the side of the solider with a sickening thud that Amon knew wouldn’t be out of place in a speeder crash.

By the time he’d actually shook the terror from his head, it was over. There was a white body, crumpled up on the floor, under the boot of one of the funniest sights he’d ever seen.

It was Jax – there was no doubt about that. The black eyes, the scaly orange skin – the teeth curved up into a predatory grin. That would’ve been comparatively normal, as near-death rescues go, but he was still the costume of his character; a loud, street-urchin with as much taste as Jabba the Hutt.

“Thank the Force!”

“Surprised to see me?” the big creature grinned

“Elated… I never thought one of our characters would save my life, but I’m not going to argue. Where are the others?”

The Trandoshan pointed to the now open doorway, and as if on cue, three more figures fell out. Fell, because they were so overloaded with sacks and bags. Amon couldn’t be sure, but they looked packed with electrical equipment.

Bre’lyn was the first to catch his eye. “What, you expected us to leave here forever with a few soveniers?” she quipped

The elation, not for the first time of the evening, faded fast, and Amon found his temper rising. “We don’t have time! There’ll be more of the guy we just crushed flooding the building any minute. Guys with guns and itchy trigger fingers.”

The techs had never really been on the frontline when Amon had shown any sense of anger, and it seemed to hit them like a slap in the face. “Right,” said Teelo, his previously jovial features now determined. “Sorry,”

“Don’t worry… just follow me. And hope our escorts are still holding out.”

--

They were. The Rebels had chosen their exit for many reasons – one of them was availability of cover. Dumpsters and other rubbish littered the alleyway, and meant the two brave men had the advantage over the Imperials. Stormtroopers had to step out into the open to even get close, while the Rebels had much more cover to shoot from.

And, indeed, the troupe had much more cover to escape through. They crawled across the passage one-at-a-time, while their new comrades kept the Stormtroopers at bay. It was a slow, painful process – especially for Amon, the memories of his near miss still fresh in his mind, not to mention his nostrils.

It got even tenser as a new sound filled the air. Nor particularly unfamiliar, but bearing definite ramifications – after all, even the Courscant natives knew what ion engines sounded like. On top of that, the four aliens knew that their escape ship was using them.

Jax growled, a low, unnerving rumble “If they leave without us…”

“They won’t!” the lead Rebel shouted, popping up for one last salvo. “Well, they will if we stand here chatting shavit all day! Head straight up the next alleyway! We’ll be right behind you!”
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Tue Sep 09, 2003 9:59 am

It was the first time they’d all stopped for the past week. Sure, they’d slept when they needed to, and ate once in a while, but none of the cast or crew could remember when they had a chance to sit down without nothing do to.

The cargo hold wasn’t really the best place to stop, either. Warmth was the only real home comfort, and that was pushing it. The hold was a reasonably large room, painted long ago in navy gray. The corners were packed with some non-descript cargo crates, while the troupes own cargo was stacked up against all four walls. Bre’lyn and Jel’dria were rooting around inside one of the largest crate; cursing in more languages anyone had ever heard them speak about the quality of Alec’s packing.

Other than those two, though, the company seemed to be at a loss of things to do. Amon sidled up towards one of his bemused looking cast members and smiled. “Amon to Teelo… Amon to Teelo, do you read me?”

The thin-nosed alien shook his head, as if trying to banish some thought or feeling, and looked up. “I’m sorry, Amon, I suppose I just feel a little lost,”

The human surveyed the other thespians, scattered around the cargo hold, and could only smile. “If it helps, I don’t think you’re alone. We all feel a bit out of place – a lot of us haven’t even left Courscant before! Did anyone tell you just where we’re headed?” He shook his head “Hm, you and everyone else on this ship. I think I’m going to go and find out – go talk to the others, see if you can find all that morale we had before take-off,”

That little line seemed to do the trick for Teelo, his insectoid mouth splitting into the Rodian version of a smile. “Yes, sir!” he exclaimed, throwing his hand up into a mock salute.

I didn’t think they’d get into the Rebel spirit this soon, Amon thought to himself. But if it’s good for morale, it can’t be bad…

--

The cockpit was nowhere near as calm as the rest of the ship – it was a lot more interesting to look at, not just navy gray and empty. Amon knew a few of the controls from flight sims back home, and, from what he could see, they weren’t away clean, just yet. He almost felt guilty to be intruding into the rather heated discussion with such a trivial query. Wii’kii was there, as was the Commander who had briefed him about the mission. Finally, as he edged closer towards veiwport, he saw Alec perched in the pilot’s couch.

“We have a recon TIE inbound – about six minutes out,”

“Could she be after someone else?”

“She could be after anyone in the outbound stream of traffic,” Alec replied “But, take it from me, she’s after us,”

Amon couldn’t think why the two other Rebels seemed to take this as gospel, but they did. Before he could listen in any more, the Weequay turned around to greet him.

“Greetings, Mr. Tone. There are no problems with the cargo hold?”

“No, no problems. It’s just that everyone feels a bit out of place, sitting around… If you could tell us just where we’re headed it might give the troops something of a direction,”

“The Rebel fleet,”

“If,” Alec added “We can find it,”

Amon’s mouth opened and closed a few times, as he tried to figure out what Alec’s little comment meant. “If we can find it? What do you mean?”

The unnamed commander turned around, almost apologetic. “The fleet has to move around a lot since Yavin… We’re just not sure where it’s moved to, this time,”

“You’re ‘not sure’? Are we going to be able to find out?”

“Calm down,” Alec cooed “They’ll send out an encoded message soon enough, we’ll find them from there. Just go into the back and keep your people calm. Apologise for my packing, it was rather haphazard. I fear you may need it when we get there,”

Amon, of course, knew how to read people. And he knew that Alec, in the politest possible way, meant ‘Go into the back and leave us alone.’

He did.
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:04 am

OOC: Post coming, soonish, i think

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Sun Mar 28, 2004 10:00 am

OOC: This week, i promise..
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
KetMaliss
Credit Cop
Posts: 2476
Joined: Sun Feb 16, 2003 7:59 am
Location: Dragonmount outside of Tar Valon

Post by KetMaliss » Tue Mar 30, 2004 5:42 pm

OOC: Sidekick man...this is some original stuff; great reading. Don't let this go under buddy.
"The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

User avatar
Nivest
The Sojourner
Posts: 1458
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2003 6:21 pm

Post by Nivest » Tue Mar 30, 2004 10:09 pm

OOC: If he drops this I'll... *takes deep breath* tie-him-up, beat-him-up, and-throw-him-out-of-Babylon.

Don't ask.

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Thu Apr 01, 2004 6:08 am

Cast and crew alike clustered around the cargo bay’s sole veiwport, watching the sat speckled blackness of space go by. Amon was right when he said a lot of them had never left Courscant, never mind seen deep space close up and personal, and so it was a huge thrill for a lot of them.

“Wow! Look, over there – what’s that purple thing?”

“Nebula,” Jax replied, knowledgably. Somehow, Amon, deep down, had known as soon as he met the Trandoshan that Jax wasn’t one of the innocent, knew the alien had travelled around the galaxy – at least a little.

“Is it going to hurt us?” one of the younger actors asked. Jax could only laugh.

“It’s light-years away, it couldn’t hurt us if it wanted to. It’s re-” he was interrupted, mid explanation, by an impact that sent a shockwave through the small ship. A force so strong that it knocked the unaware off their feet, threw them to the floor. “But that might,” he growled. “Someone’s attacking us!”

As if on some sort of theatrical cue himself, Alec appeared in the doorway and smiled. “I would hold on to something if I were you, we have an angry group of critics behind us, attempting to file a rather scathing review,”

“The Empire?” Amon asked

“Indeed. A Star Destroyer, in fact,”

Another one of the youths gasped “A Star Destroyer? Aren’t they the strongest ships in the Imperial Fleet?”

“Of course not,” Alec lied, entirely convincingly. “Hold on, lightspeed should be upon us soon enough,”

His lie seemed to convince most of the group, but – as usual – Amon wanted to know something more. As the ex-Imperial turned to leave, Amon rushed up to him and tapped him on the shoulder “Anything I can do to help?” he said, his voice low

“Keep your entourage calm. The pilot of this ship is exceptional… to an irritating level. I’m positive he can outrun a few TIE Fighters,”

Something exploded in the hallway outside, and they could hear the pilot curse in some foreign language. The look on Bre’lyn’s face told Amon was probably Bothan “And bombers!” the pilot called back “Alec, get back up here!”

“My curtain call, I believe. Remember, keep them calm. We’ll be out of this momentarily,”

And with that, the man was gone. Turning back around, Amon saw the group split in two. The more brave, or foolish – depending how you looked at it – were still clustered around the window, trying to catch a glimpse of their pursers. Every time a TIE would zoom past they’d gasp, and try and follow it out of view. The more sensible of the group had sat down and attached themselves to whatever they could. I hope this is the kind of thing you get used to, Amon thought, Because something tells me this isn’t the last time we’ll find ourselves running from a Star Destroyer.

“Hold on to your hats,” the pilot shouted again “We’re going into lightspeed!”

The ship jolted again – a lot more gentle this time - as the blue-white tunnel of lightspeed swallowed it whole. If the first group were fascinated by TIE Fighters, they were positively thrilled by the streaming mist that now filled the veiwport and bathed the cargo bay in an aquamarine hue. The others just seemed glad to have gotten away alive. TIE Fighters, Stormtroopers, Star Destroyers and lightspeed? Amon asked himself Too much… When we get to this Rebel Fleet, remind me to have a lie down…
Your mum, yeah?

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Fri Apr 09, 2004 8:25 am

OOC: Another filler, kind of, but it's needed to get the story along...

IC:

Lightspeed, to Amon, was still exciting. Like when he’d first learnt to fly speeders back home, it was the sense of freedom that made it so. Many spacers, starship captains, and members of other such professions found the phenomenon to become mundane, over the years, yet Amon still held it in a child-like, magical light. Even exiting hyperspace, the stars all slingshoting back into place on their ever-present black canvas gave him butterflies in the bottom of his stomach. By the looks on the command crews faces, they didn’t share such fascinations.

And so - spread out in an untidy formation before them - lay the Rebel Fleet. Or, at least a decent part of it. Ships off all different sizes all clustered in one place. Angular escort frigates, bulbous bulk cruisers, and, of course, the Mon Calamari vessels. If hyperspace was magical, then those ships were just as captivating, if not more so. The contrast, between the industrial, dirty war machines and the smooth, aquatic starships of the Mon Calamari really did take his breath away. And if their reactions to deep space were anything to go by, the cast would be equally breathless.

Independence, this is the Maro’iz,” the commander began “Requesting permission to land,”

Amon had been concentrating so much on the panoramic view of the fleet, that he only just caught onto the pair of X-Wings that had looped away from patrol and joined the lighter, escorting from the front. He had never seen a snubfighter up close, and was taking in all the lines and surfaces. It was particularly hard to miss the blood red stripes on each of the wings, and along their fuselages. By Alec’s reaction, a rather subtle raised eyebrow – they meant something important.

“Commander, good to see you back,” came a female voice, tinny over the comm unit “Permission granted, we’re clearing a space for you in Bay One,”

“Will someone meet us there?”

“We’re a bit stretched for men at the moment, Commander. The Admiral has requested you send our guests to see him as soon as you’re down,”

“Roger that, Control, I’ll escort them up personally. Maro’iz out.”

Closing the channel, and adjusting their course, the man turned around and smiled at Amon. “An audience with the Admiral, people really must’ve taken notice of your antics on Imperial Centre,”

“I guess so,” he shrugged. He wasn’t a military man, had no idea how to react to news of any commander wanting to ‘see them’, never mind an Admiral. But, as was becoming a disturbing trend of recent times, he was just going to have to improvise his way through.

“Get back, and organise your things for offloading. Your men will probably be free for a while, so tell them to get some rest. It’s probably just you who’ll have to see the Admiral,” Alec explained, ushering him off into the back. “The Commander, Captain and I will be present, too, so don’t worry. Too much.”

User avatar
sidekick
Prince of Skankers
Posts: 761
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:42 am
Location: Liverpool, England

Post by sidekick » Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:52 am

OOC: after Christmas, I'm going to throw together one mammoth post which will end this chapter, and give hints to what will happen in the second part..
Your mum, yeah?

Post Reply