"Affirmative," came the computerized reply, moments before the taxi went off like a blaster-shot, jerking the pair of Sith back against their seats. "Requesting permission to divert from skylanes."
"Granted," Niamh answered, before tilting her head in confusion. "I thought you had that already."
"Air-taxis by default are authorized to leave skylanes for rapid transportation. However, protocol zero dictates that transportation of such prominent personages requires secondary permission."
"Protocol zero?" Niamh raised an eyebrow.
"Informal designation. The safety of Sith and other high-ranking officials is paramount. This unit is authorized to attempt any course of action in your defense, even those exceeding factory specifications. In the event of invasion or civil unrest, this unit is honored to lay down its existence for your preservation! For the Union!" it chanted in a credible imitation of patriotic fervor, visibly bouncing in its seat as it weaved between streams of traffic.
Vaeros' master gave him an uneasy glance. "Very... noble of you. Try not martyr yourself on the way to the station, please?"
Niamh pursed her lips and pulled her legs up onto the seat, apparently not comforted.
I'm never sure what to make of droids, she mentioned to Vaeros telepathically. Sometimes they're just machines, other times, they can seem very alive. Then you run into droids like this.
Vaeros had barely had time to settle into his seat when he was thrown into it by the rocketing acceleration of the taxi. Grimacing worriedly, he took a moment to adjust to the change in momentum, then shifted again to get comfortable, and listened to Niamh's exchange with the droid pilot. He mirrored her awkward glance in the wake of the droid's rather hollow-sounding patriotism.
He opened his mouth to speak, only to be stopped by the sound of a voice in his mind - Niamh's voice. She had previously made the point that properly practiced telepathy could enable whole conversations to be had in silence and privacy; apparently she meant to let him practice.
It takes all kinds, he answered her after a few moments' preparation. Though if I'd wanted to be ferried to a spaceport by podracer, I think I'd have asked for it. He gave a jesting smile to signal his intent, hoping to go some way to assuage his master's apparent discomfort.
Swoop-bikes are more fun, anyway, she remarked offhandedly. The view is nice, though.
As the taxi shot out of the overcast area that contained the Sith Temple, it was a rather nice view. The light of New Bethrezen's artificial sunrise bathed the city below in a golden glow, and the skyline of the Old Consul's District was nothing if not elegant. The Old Consul's Palace and New Bethrezen's magnificent Gardens could be seen, rapidly shrinking as they ascended.
I wonder if they've fixed that statue?
The change in altitude had Kasto's ears popping unpleasantly. Niamh visibly worked her jaw with a grimace, indicating a similar sensation. This is the one part of flying that I don't like. I should have brought gum or something.
"We will arrive at the nearest spoke shortly. From there, a turbo-lift will deliver you to the hub's space-station."
"Thank you," Niamh gave a terse nod.
"I am also programmed to offer a list of reputable restaurants and other facilities past the customs check point."
"Thank you, but we'll make- By the force, watch it!" she barked as the droid swerved, narrowly avoiding a speeder. "What happened to protocol zero?"
"Apologies. If you are unsatisfied with this units piloting, please submit formal complaints to our offices at-"
"-Don't talk, just fly!" Niamh snapped, clinging to the seat. Never again! she declared. I am getting my own speeder, and I am never subjecting either of us to this again.
Just as Niamh did, Vaeros screwed up his face at the popping sensation in his ears. Perhaps that was why droid skytaxi pilots were so popular; they could make manoeuvres like this without any risk of their flying being impaired. That, and they tended to be - whoosh!
With a cry of panic, Vaeros reflexively ducked in his seat as if to shy away from the speeder that skimmed past over the top of their taxi, mere inches from colliding. Alright, so droids only tended to be better pilots - no guarantee that would always be the case.
Mercifully, their flight came to an end less than half a minute later, depositing them on a platform. Pulling her harness off wearily, Niamh tossed several credit ingots into the droid's lap before clambering out of the sky-taxi. "Never again," she repeated, mostly to herself.
It wasn't hard to find the nearest turbolifts. If the transparisteel tubes was too subtle, there was a large line of sentients of all stripes waiting for them, and off to one side, a smaller line, filled primarily with official-looking individuals, with armed New Bethrezen Security personnel flanking the turbolift doors themselves.
"Hold that lift, please!" Niamh called, her voice ringing across the platform with surprising volume, drawing a few confused gazes. Sprinting faster than any being that short had a right to, rapidly outpacing her apprentice with an application of Force Speed, Niamh was across the platform in seconds, skidding to a stop a short ways away from the front of the line. Kasto couldn't hear quite what she was saying, but she was presumably explaining the situation, given that she gestured in his direction, received an affirmative nod from one of the security personnel, and quickly ducked under one of the security barriers before turning to beckon to her apprentice.
Never again, indeed. Vaeros followed suit quickly, unbuckling himself and climbing out behind Niamh. He grimaced silently at the sight of the taxi's much more leisurely departure, calmly banking upwards to join the flow of speeder traffic overhead.
Once more, he fell into step behind his master, content to follow her lead. He too found himself startled by her sudden, deceptively loud call to what appeared to be a VIP queue for one of the turbolifts. Blinking, he broke into a jog across the broad platform in pursuit, and slowed to duck the barrier, after giving the attendant guard a smile and nod of acknowledgement.
Priority taxis and turbolifts? I could get used to this.
You're a Sith, Niamh told him simply. The number of people above you in the Union's social hierarchy can probably fit in the same turbolift.
The guard replied with a small bow and shifted to one side, permitting Kasto and his master to enter the turbolift. After a brief wait while a few last ID's were checked and their owners shuffled in, the doors slid closed and the turbolift shot up. For most of the trip, it was awkward silence, with only a few snippets of conversation here and there. About half-way, up however, there was a strange sensation of falling, which seemed to be sensed by the other passengers, as well.
We're transitioning into the artificial gravity from the hub-section. Just keep breathing.
"I think I'm going to be sick," one of the passengers, a twi'lek, moaned.
"Not on my new boots, you won't!" snapped another, this one a large, grizzled human.
Shortly after, perhaps in an attempt to distract themselves from the feeling, a pair of passengers struck up a mildly interesting conversation.
"So, what's up with the whole Wookiee-Trandoshan thing?" a human with a clipped, coreward accent asked.
"It goes back a long way," replied the passenger, this one harsh and rasping. "We invented space-travel, met the Corellians, and tried to colonize Kashyyyk. They drove us off, stole one of our ships, and ascended to the stars by copying our technology."
"So, you hate them for defending their homes?"
"We didn't know they were sentient. As far as we could tell, they were just a bunch of primates."
"You look like a big lizard, you're sentient."
"I'm wearing clothes, making sounds that are obviously a language, even if you don't understand it, and using tools. I'm not a massive, hairy ape, swinging naked from trees and incapable of saying anything that sounds remotely like a real word. If you didn't know ahead of time what they were, their language would sound like some animal roaring."
"Okay, so let's assume you couldn't tell they were sentient. That doesn't explain why there's still a feud. It was a mistake, get over it."
"The 'mistake' didn't end there. I assume you know that the system we share has been called Kashyyyk until now."
"Of course, same as Dac being called Mon Calamari."
"Well, imagine that your people had been the first to ascend to the stars in your system. You establish trading relations with a different species. Then some upstarts steal one of your vessels, make a crude imitation of it, and suddenly, the galaxy says they're your overlords, because they like them better."
"That's not what happened!" the human objected.
"Actually, it is. During the entire reign of the Old Republic, the star system we lived in was given one representative in the senate, and it was always a Wookiee. We invented interstellar travel and established interstellar commerce, but their world became the trading hub. We made contact with the rest of the galaxy first, but the Wookiees were the only ones allowed to represent us to that galaxy."
"That's not being 'overlords,' and maybe if you'd tried making up, they'd have been more amicable."
"We did try making up. We tried holding a series of talks to work out our issues. But then the Wookiees found out we were pushing for senatorial representation with Trade Federation backing, and they walked out. Even the Jedi couldn't make them stay. Destroyed the translator droid, too."
"When they 'found out'? You mean you didn't tell them?"
"No, we didn't, probably because we didn't want them storming out of negotiations."
"Or maybe they didn't like you going behind their backs."
"So we should have gone to the people who represented our system and begged them to undercut their own power? I bet they'd have been very receptive. 'Oh, yes, sure I'll do that for you. But I'll need some time; I've got a thousand bills of galactic importance to work on. Maybe you could 'lend' me a few ships, so I remember it? I promise I won't let your petition get, shall we say, lost in the paperwork.'"
"Wookiees on the whole are pretty reasonable. I don't think they would have done that."
"'Reasonable.' Is that what you call ripping someone's arms off and beating them to death with them because they beat you at dejarik? And people say we're the savages."
"Alright, so they've got foul tempers. So do Trandoshans. And I notice you're leaving out the part where you enslaved them."
"We enslaved individuals; they enslaved our species."
"It wasn't slavery, and it was after you started enslaving them. You started the conflict. You're the perpetrators, not the victims. The fault lies with the Trandoshans."
"So if I slaughter the next diplomatic envoy the Ascendancy sends our way," Niamh piped up, "you'll tell the Consul it was their fault, because they invaded my home planet some time ago? Good to know."
The other passengers shifted uneasily in response, the larger, grizzled human even subtly placing a hand on his blaster.
"With all due respect, my lady, you're not your entire species," the young, core-born human pointed out.
"And if I were? If the Yashuvhi populace found out our ancestral myths about blue-skinned demons with eyes like the coals of Hell are true, and we started a systematic genocide? By your admission, we're good. The Chiss started it, after all."
"I... well, I guess not," the man admitted. "I suppose you can't simply absolve someone of all responsibility based on someone else's actions."
"You mean to tell me a complex sociopolitical issue spanning several thousand years isn't entirely black and white?" she asked sarcastically. "Maybe you should go back to the core. If you stay here in the outer-rim too long, you might just learn something." The man looked away in embarrassment, while the Trandoshan snorted in laughter. His celebration withered under Niamh's glare however. "Don't get smug; enslaving the Wookiees was a bad move." The reptilian passenger reluctantly nodded.
As the doors slid open, Niamh and Kasto were the first ones out, the few who had boarded after them parting to let them pass.
Don't bother with the snack kiosks here, it's all over-priced. I booked first class, so the complimentary in-transit menu will be better, anyway.
Vaeros was content to hold his silence for the lift ride; he had nothing pressing to say at the moment. Partway down, though, his stomach lurched and a sudden bout of dizziness overcame him. He clutched at his head, and glanced at Niamh questioningly as her voice in his mind explained the sensation as a shift in the gravity acting on the lift. Straightening up, he focused on regular, deep breathing to distract himself from the unpleasant feeling.
Across the car, two other passengers busied themselves in conversation, no doubt also distracting themselves. Vaeros could only partially follow it - his understanding of the Trandoshan language was rudimentary at best - but he was able to follow the Coreward human's commentary and fill in the blanks. Niamh's interjection brought a sudden pall of tension over the car; Vaeros noticed the bulky human across the way reaching slowly for his blaster, and he placed a hand inside his jacket in return to settle upon the grip of his own weapon, just in case. Before tensions could mount any further, though, the lift came to a stop, and the other passengers parted to get out of Niamh's way. Still silent, and thankful for having adjusted by now to the hub's gravity, he released his blaster and followed her away.
That was... not the most enjoyable lift ride I've ever had, I have to say.
Sorry you had to see that. Lift conversations irritate me. So do bigots; I lose a lot of my natural charm around them.
Almost immediately, Kasto's view of his diminutive master was obscured as a new crowd rushed forward to take their place in the lift behind him. As he forced his way out of the crowd, Niamh was waiting for him a short distance away.
We're looking for bay 56. It's a Brotherhood of Independent Traders bay; they organize all commercial transport to and from the station. I know the way. I've been planning this trip for a while, so I memorized the route.
Niamh nodded towards one a hallway to their left. As Vaeros' gaze instinctively followed, he spotted the grizzled human from the lift heading that way already at a brisk pace, along with the Twi'lek who'd complained about sickness eariler. "You know, I nearly got arrested the first time I came here," Niamh noted casually, straightening her jacket before setting off at a leisurely pace. "I crawled through an air vent to get around the crowds. Security wasn't thrilled about that for obvious reasons, but they let it slide when they figured out why I was here." She chuckled. "It never ceases to amaze me what the galaxy produces. We don't have anything like this on Yashuvhu."
A short while later, true to her word, Niamh had guided her apprentice to the appropriate bay. "You've got about an hour to get settled in once you're aboard. The ship I booked passage on is the Trade Winds," she pointed towards one of the airlocks, which helpfully displayed the name above it. "You've got luxury accommodations in cabin seven, towards the front of the ship." She placed a hand on his arm affectionately. "Take care of yourself, apprentice. And make sure you come back in one piece."
In such a deeply interconnected galaxy, most people took interstellar transport for granted. To them, buying passage on a shuttle between planets was as trivial a task as hailing a skytaxi to cross just a few city blocks. Vaeros, though, had never yet lost his love for travel; study of archaeology had instilled in him a boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for new places and experiences. This would be no different, and so it was with a smile on his face that he welcomed the familiar rush of excitement when he came to a stop before the ship that would bear him to Telos.
"I'll be alright." He turned his grinning expression upon Niamh. "Thank you for this opportunity, Master. I'll take any excuse to get out and see the galaxy, and this promises to be fascinating."
Darth Ares: Don't forget to watch the original Clone Wars by Genndy Tartakovsky though, it's incredible and it's also the only Star Wars media where Grievous isn't a punk bitch
Mar 26, 2018 0:33:31 GMT
Darth Ares: It's good isn't it? Season 1 is a slog until Ryloth and then it gets crazy good crazy fast.
Mar 26, 2018 0:28:30 GMT
Chi-Ki-Meyee: Finally started the Star Wars animated series and I've somehow almost finished the Clone Wars in just a few days.
Mar 25, 2018 23:07:45 GMT
Darth Xaos: I'm well. And have just replied in PM.
Mar 21, 2018 2:50:12 GMT