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Aft - Servant Mercy

Normally pristine and beautiful, the main lounge of the yacht's interior has been gutted down to its infrastructure, allowing the space to be retrofit into a mobile scientific workstation. Most of it is dedicated to the droid sciences, but there is a medical table and computer workstation, along with three sizable holographic research tables.

To aft, there is a nondescript cargo area dedicated to storing of supplies, with cargo loading doors directly aft. However, the floor is able to open up, transforming the cargo bay into a small hangar capable of storing a single, small starfighter. The main boarding ramp lies to the bow of the ship, just below the cockpit's hatchway.

Personal quarters extend to port and starboard, and are the one reminder of how luxurious the ship once was. Sleek, black walls with bountiful lighting lead to comfortable sleeping and personal areas, four of them in total that line the vessel's outer bulkheads.

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Siika

This young, human woman carries a skin tone that is somewhere between dark and fair, framed by black hair and brown eyes upon an angular face with full lips. She has an average height for her age, and her slender frame has just enough shape to be on the light side of curvy. Her thick hair is braided and pulled back into a ponytail, revealing some sort of cybernetic enhancement affixed to her head. The sleek, black metal covers part of her ears and wraps around the back of her head, starting at the temples and disappearing behind her hair. The skin around this technology has the appearance of scar tissue, suggesting that it is a permanent implant that cannot be removed.

Woven fabric in earth tones is draped over her upper body, the darker weave breathable and fitting much like that of a tank top. Beneath is a lighter fabric that drapes down her arms, covering part of her hands. Black metal piping winds down her fingers, appearing to be some sort of cybernetic implant lining what would be her bone structure, complete with tiny servos where the knuckles would be. The fingers themselves are encased in a material that fits like a second skin; the same material is worn up to her neck, suggesting it may be a bodysuit of some type, closely matching her natural skin tone. A leather belt is clinched around a slender waist, matching the necklace worn around her neck. The necklace is adorned with three artistic baubles of mysterious origin. Her legs are covered by trousers of a similar color to her woven, tunic-style top, fitting just loose enough to hide the cybernetic supports worn on her legs. Brown leather boots are worn up to her calves, and a single earring dangles from the left side of the cybernetic halo upon her head.


Trina

With slender limbs and a narrow waist, Trina has the silhouette of a human female. At a glance, however, she could easily be mistaken for a droid. Both her arms and legs have been completely replaced, the incomplete outer surfaces of each appendage made up of a mixture of brushed aluminum and mirrored chrome. Wires and servos are exposed in places, either as an aesthetic choice or due to lack of funds to complete the work. More chrome covers the crown of her head and down the back of her neck, a sharp contrast to the tan flesh still visible over her cheeks and clavicle. One eye looks upon the world with a blue, human iris, the other takes in the light through an optical lens and sophisticated technology.

From her choice of attire, Trina shows no desire to blend in with the unmodified humans of Regency society. A gray tank-top reveals more than it hides, exposing where her synthetic shoulders meld with the remaining flesh of her upper body. All along her bare midriff, lines of metal contour with shape of her abs, a crude map of where bio-mechanical equipment has invaded her torso beneath her ribs. Simple black shorts function for the purposes of modesty, another wardrobe statement to show where her fully cybernetic legs blend with the remaining human anatomy. No shoes cover her feet, nor gloves cover her hands.


Delphine

Bright, light, golden blonde tresses are what first strikes whenever this human woman catches the eye. They part near the center framing her lovely and expressive features, with a smile that is broad and quick, and flow down to her elbows. She's of average height for her species with an athletic frame and a healthy build. Her nose is narrow, straight and pert, fitting nicely between her large eyes and full lips. Her brows are slightly darker and expertly styled. Long dark lashes frame aquamarine eyes that shine with confidence and intelligence. High cheekbones and a well-balanced chin and forehead lend perfection to her stunning appearance.

She wears a lightweight white tunic with light grey pants that go to mid-calf. Over this she wears a crisp black tabard cinched at the waist by a black leather obi and matching utility belt. A clean black blaster is strapped to her left hip in a black leather holster. She wears short black leather boots that leave her legs bare for a few inches before her pants hem begins. She may also wear a light grey cloak over her outfit and black leather gloves.

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The cargo bay remains a shambles. Dead droids are scattered about, the deck is littered with blood stains and carbon scoring, and half of the supplies stored here have been blown to bits. Even a few of the lights are flickering, and one conduit still blasts steam into the room, heating it beyond the warm temperature Siika prefers.

Regardless, soft music has been put onto the comm speakers, a stringed quitare quartet that fills the messy room with complex rhythms and smooth melodies.

Hunched over a repair droid, Siika has the machine opened up and is in the process of installing a new power core. Micro-goggles are worn over her face, allowing her to see the small movements needed to carefully solder the new cell into it's needed home.

Her hair is pulled back into a tight braid, but she still wears the skinsuit that reveals the majority of her exoskeletal cybernetics in full detail, not to mention the curves beneath them. At least she's thought to put boots on, and a simple scarf around her waist to provide some decency.


With all of the other sounds of the ship, from the music to the basso rumble of the ship's engines, from the warning indicators quietly chirping about low volume in a non-vital fluid store to the incessant buzzing of an ajar cooler door, it is the sound of Siika's tools sparking into the droid that catches Trina's attention and draws her back to the cargo bay.

Tentative steps bring the cyborg across the cargo area. Trina was never particularly stealthy, even before her change in condition. Metal feet tapping on metal flooring makes a quiet approach all but impossible, yet Trina does her best not to startle her friend in the middle of an important operation.

Kneeling, Trina focuses on trying to assess the direction and flow of Siika's work, then reaches out to stabilize and help where she can.

"How long have you been at this?", Trina asks, her voice quiet.


It would be close to impossible for another person to startle Siika during this kind of work. This is where she thrives, and her hyper focus does not start and end at the work itself. It is immersive to her; the sounds of the ship, even those that she cannot fix or do anything about right now, are still there, like the symphony that is backdrop to her microscopic surgery. Trina's footsteps are no different. They serve neither to urge nor distract her, they simply are.

"Ever since we got the last of those pirates stabilized," she confesses, never once looking away from her work. "I triaged the damage, and K7-8 here is the first we need up and running. He's a workhorse and won't require sleep, just the occasional 30 minute recharge."

A final spark, and she leans out of the droid's chassis, setting her tools down on a rolling table. She sighs with content, then turns to Trina with a tired smile. "Wanna help me close him up and get him a fresh heartbeat?"


Trina gives Siika a quick nod, then leans in to help with the closing. This work calls to Trina, in a sense. Reaching into the droid's chassis to take hold of a poly-synthetic coupler, she can't help but imagine herself in front of them. Opened up, inner workings exposed and vulnerable. Yet, the two pairs of hands, Trina's and Siika's, are working with care and precision.

"I haven't closed from this angle before," Trina admits with a lopsided smile. "My focus has always been on... limbs."

Preparing for the next steps, Trina reaches to a power coupling and a charge clamp. The heartbeat won't start without the power. Whatever happens with the spark after that, it will be up to the more experienced droid tech.


"Poor Boomer," answers Siika, quietly grinning at the thought of the one droid who wasn't victim of her suicide attack. "One of these days I'll find legs for him, but, he's a very very old droid. You literally can't find a matching servo configuration, and the programming is beyond me. I could totally reprogram him and jury rig a servo connection to give him legs, but... that would take away his personality, and his backups would be..." Here, she frowns. "Non-compliant."

In techie language, it would be the equivalent of killing him, and shutting his memory files into a proverbial coffin.

With the charge clamp attached, K7 begins his bootup sequence. "Okay," she says, suddenly breathing more quickly. Her fingers touch dip switches one by one, echoing their functions verbally. "Power conditioning sequence. Sequential core functions. Servo and hydraulic controls. Sensor array." She turns to Trina and nods her head toward the nearby rolling computer console. "Grab that data cable and be ready to commence downloading his memory backups. The file's already loaded."

K7's pale blue eyes light up, and his limbs begin cycling through a test sequence of movements.


At the mention of Boomer, Trina turns her attention momentarily towards the quiet droid with the huge cannon arm. Before the pirates, she'd heard about his utility in helping with the ghost ship. She hadn't really appreciated him until she'd seen what he could do first hand. First hand through a thermal screen, anyway.

The problem of attaching legs fascinates Trina as Siika describes it. Having been one to lose her legs and have them replaced, it is hard for Trina to conceive of Boomer being trapped in the limitations of his body. From a technical perspective, she gets it. But philosophically...

And then Siika is directing Trina to interface with K7. She reaches for the data cable, and just before connecting to the droid, she stops.

"I have an idea," Trina says. She opens her palm, then opens it again. She slots the cable into a universal interface in her palm, then reaches to interface with her other hand for the droid's coupler.

"I can do a checksum and correct for errors along the way." Trina pauses and withdraws a fraction. "Unless you don't want me to?"


"Just be careful," Siika warns. "That's a short range, high band data cable. 100 teracycles per second. It's a lot of data. Full specs on the ship and all its components. You do not want it scrambling your grey matter."

Finally, she turns back to the dip switches. The final one will begin the process of reloading K7's memory; either the raw, built in start up sequence, or the reloading from the data cable attached to that computer console. Not just the droid's memory, but his personality. To Siika, it is like bringing another being back from the dead.

"Ready?" she asks, then flips the dipswitch. "Go."


The cyborg's mind races back to schematics and technical readouts and numbers, delivered to her by dry, unsympathetic scientists and engineers that never expected Trina to take her condition in the direction she chose. There had been something about a failsafe. Hadn't there?

For a moment, Trina is uncertain. It seemed like a good idea when she suggested it, but her brain...

Trina rests her free hand on what would be K7's forehead. She always feared that this was her ultimate future. How much humanity did she have left to lose? How long before she was simply a droid herself, and everything left of Trin "Trina" Corina was just a memory in old holos?

Too late to back out now. She nods when Siika asks if she's ready, and she braces for the ride when her friend says "Go."

A sea of numbers and symbols overwhelms Trina, and for a moment, it's all she can do to hold onto consciousness. The complexity of the data is beyond what she'd anticipated.

But then the failsafe kicks in, and Trina's human eye dilates. She's no longer seeing the world through her biological senses, but the cybernetic, unblinking lens of her robotic existence. And she sees... everything.

Memories not her own are relived, most out of sequence, all faster than her human side would be able to comprehend.

"You cared for him," Trina says, her voice full of static and digital noise. "So many times you... and then... but he... and you..."

Trina rides the waves of droid personality and memories, and she finds the holes. The tricky parts where fragmentation and compression errors have crept in, jeopardizing the pattern in such a way that over time, K7 could collapse entirely. As quickly as she finds them, she bridges the gaps. Patches the holes. Provides stabilizing structures so that K7 will be healthy when fully restored.

Siika's work is doing its part to raise K7 from the dead. Trina, for her part, channels K7's spirit through her and back into its shell in attempt to save the droid's... soul? Essence?


There's no way for Siika to truly understand what is happening. She caught a glimpse of it when she plugged herself directly into DLM-1, but her cybernetics are different. Less technical, more a mixture of technology and medicine. A way for her brain to control the devices that allow her movement; electrical stimulation to prevent her muscles from atrophying completely and giving her the physical appearance that, to her ego, would be nothing short of ugly.

Rising, she steps away from K7, goggles now propped upon her forehead and over the cybernetic halo that serves as her cerebral interface. She moves to the computer console and watches as the numbers scroll, pausing for brief moments as gaps in the code are filled. It is with a sense of wonder that she looks from the computer screen to Trina's dilated human eye, understanding that her physical mind is... bypassed.

".... I care for all of them," she admits quietly. It might explain how emotional she became after her droid army sacrificed themselves at her command. It ripped at her to do it; it reminds her that, in a sickening way, she still places organic life above that of synthetic. It explains why she wanted nothing more than to swing her crowbar through that Trandoshan's head and throw the rest of them out of the ventral airlock, with their dead friends.

"They'd have a purpose without me," she says quietly. "I'm... not sure if I do without them."


Trina continues to ride the data stream to its end, her posture straight and stiff, her face blank, her hands unmoving. There is no time for anything else.

Like an old projector making images appear to dance and move by changing them at a high rate, a semblance of K7 takes shape within Trina. The droid, looking through Trina's eye, regards Siika with the fullest measure of devotion.

The stream completes and Trina gasps. It's the opposite of what she experienced when breaking contact with Corsair during the invasion. Rather than her consciousness collapsing back into itself, it expands, refilling the places momentarily occupied by the droid and the task of repairing its data integrity.

"Sweet stars," Trina says, slumping back and away from K7. "I was not..."

But then Siika's words register. Trina takes several moments to breathe and center herself before responding. "Don't say that. You have purpose. You... you mean a lot to me."


For a long moment, Siika remains by the computer console, looking at Trina. These kinds of conversations trigger her desire to withdraw and pour herself into something mechanical. That's her way. At least it was until she landed on Valentine's World for that bloody festival and started making friends who had real blood in their bodies.

"Mistress Siika."

K7, with a decidedly male vocoder that somehow mixes gruff with posh. The repair droid rises to his feet and turns his head to look around at the cargo bay, and he somehow seems upset. "What... happened?"

Siika releases a shaky laugh, and turns from the computer console to rush over to K7. "K...! It's..." She takes him by the shoulders, smiling and shaking her head. "It's... a long story."

"Either my internal clock needs to be reset, or I am missing a number of days in my memory banks." The droid's head lowers on its neck piston. "This... might explain why your cargo bay looks like it went through a blender."

Stepping away from the droid, Siika turns to look at Trina. "Thank you," she says with earnest. It's entirely possible that she's not just talking about her work on the droid, but, she doesn't say as much.

K7, meanwhile, turns to look at Trina. "Hello. I am K7-8. I am a repair and maintenance droid." His head cocks to the side, and his voice adopts a reproachful tone. "I appear to have my work cut out for me."


It takes a moment for remnants and shadows of the repair droid to leave Trina's memory. In that moment, she feels a weird mixture of Deja-vu and out-of-body confusion, watching K7 move and talk without her, speaking in words that are second nature to her.

Then the buffers clear, and Trina is alone within her head once again. She draws in a deep breath and pushes her way to her feet.

"It's good to meet you, K7," Trina says, nodding to the droid. She looks around the cargo area at the other droids requiring repair, then looks back at Siika. "Yes. I believe we all have our work cut out for us."


Trina receives a warm smile from Siika, and perhaps the promise of more conversation on unspoken things. When she's ready. Whenever that may be.

Moving around to K7's back, she disconnects the data cable and closes up his chassis. "There was an attack," she explains to the repair droid. "Pirates. Vee-Four and Boomer are the only droids who are still operational, but, we're back in hyperspace and en route to our destination." Her hand rises and touches K7's shoulder again. "Don't worry about all the carbon scoring. Most important thing is that you take stock of all the supplies. Document what's damaged in the manifest, and put everything back where it belongs. Prioritize medical supplies, droid power mechanics, and... find me a munitions power cell for Boomer. His ran dry."

"Its never done that," K7 answers.

"I know."

K7 turns to look at Boomer, who is resting in sleep mode. "Incredible," he says, before taking a step away from Siika. "I will get to work, then."

"Thank you, pal," Siika tells him. "We'll get all of your friends back online, I promise."

K7 turns then to Trina, and cocks his head again, studying her curiously. It's possible that something of her imprinted herself upon the repair droid, and he's not quite sure how to process it. "It was nice to... 'meet' you, Mistress Trina." Then, he turns and gets to work.


When K7 turns to set to work on the other droids, Trina stoops to touch the cold chassis of one of the non-functional droids, a bulky, older-generation load lifter with a faceplate Trina can't help but think of as "cheerful." Past the load lifter is another, thinner droid with narrow limbs like uncooked pasta. And another. And another.

Trina turns back to look at K7. Would they all be so complicated, so rich in their memory and complex, Mandelbrot patterns of personality?

Trina looks back at Siika and her trepidation evaporates. She straightens, smiles, and says, "When do we revive the next one?" Within, she's recoiling at the idea of losing herself to the process again. To become a non-person again, even if for just a few minutes. But there were bodies at her feet, and they were friends. Siika's friends.


"Medical droid is next on the list," Siika answers. "To be honest, I really shouldn't have fried her. There just wasn't enough time to be more selective with the programming." She pauses after saying this, struck by the coldness of her own words. Her memory flashes back to the screams of death, knowing how many lives were taken by her own hands. It causes a tremble to form on her lower lip, and her own eyes dilate a little as the tunnel vision starts to creep in.

Abruptly, she touches her wrist computer and kills the music. "First, I could use a drink." She gestures for Trina to follow, and makes way for the main lounge, leaving the cargo bay and its cleanup in the capable hands of K7. "Come on."

Striding into the lounge, Siika makes for her makeshift wet bar and withdraws a bottle of green liquid. The cap comes off, and she smells it for a moment before shrugging, and pouring two glasses. "I've found a supplement," she says, while offering a glass to Trina. "Makes it so my body metabolizes booze differently. So I can have more than one drink without blacking out."

A small pill box resting upon the wet bar is opened, and a tiny pill is popped into Siika's mouth. "Can't become all non-functional just because someone offers me a drink, you know?"


From the quarters down below, occasional sounds of activity can be heard as Delphine and the others set about cleaning the areas of the ship sullied by the pirate encounter that had damaged everyone and everything shy of the cockpit. Delphine has concentrated on the living areas, scrubbing and sanitizing and washing linens in spurts of recycled grey water. At last, it's done and she finds herself a fruit juice to drink.

It had been good dropping off the criminals and making a much needed supply run for food and sundries. With a satisfied sigh, she sits down in the lounge. She watches the two cyber enhanced women come downstairs and listens and comments, "That's handy!"


With more than a little curiosity, Trina eyes the supplement. Before The Incident, she'd been able to handle her liquor okay. She wasn't winning any drinking contests, but she was far from a light weight. Now... but it made sense. She didn't have as much organic body mass. Her synthetic kidneys and liver did their job to combat toxins, but that didn't seem to apply much to alcohol.

"What's in-" Trina starts, but then Delphine is there, and Trina is smiling at the blonde Acolyte.

Trina feels the glass of green liquid in her hand, and then she looks back at the pillbox. Well. If it worked for Siika, maybe it would work for her, too. She reaches with her other hand, pulls one of the pills, and pops it in her mouth, chasing it down with a sip from her glass.

While focusing on trying to combat the effects of the alcohol, she finds herself unprepared for the taste of it. She chokes, coughs, snorts, then gasps, waving at her tongue with her free hand.

"Sweet stars, what is this?"


Similarly, Siika chases her own pill with a swig of the vile liquid. She's much more accustomed to it, but it still prompts a brief cough and a hiss of air.

"Wormiste," she explains, her voice a bit hoarse. "It's from - from my home world."

Delphine's arrival has her reaching for another glass, holding it out to the Acolyte with a single raised eyebrow. "Fermented spaceworm secretion," she explains, and immediately takes up a defensive tone. "Before you both get your panties in a wad, lemme just- spaceworms are a Paranan delicacy. It's not gross. Not any more gross than eating fried nerf. It's insanely clean, because there's no dirt in space, and..."

Right about now, the initial burn and bitter taste of the liquor is fading, replaced by a lingering sweetness that fills the olfactory glands with an insanely pleasant aroma.

"... and it has a splendid aftertaste."


Delphine happily takes the offered glass but then hears the description of what's inside it. Her pert nose wrinkles in distaste. She sniffs it and turns her head, her lips curling with disgust. "Seriously? Uh...hold up." She takes the pouch of fruit juice she was holding and empties it into the glass with the vile green liquid. "Uh...no offense," she says to Siika. "Bottoms up!" And with that she knocks it back and chugs. "Ahhhhhhhhh."


The after-kick hits, and Trina melts into a chair. Her human eye dilates slightly again, but this time for a much more pleasant reason.

"Spaceworm... secretion," Trina repeats as she watches Delphine dilute her glass with the fruit juice. "It's... it's not the worst thing I've heard. There's this Kaf they serve on High Centre. A thousand standard a cup! But the seed used to make the Kaf is first consumed by these little fire lizards, which are then eaten by felids and then--"

And the next part of what happens is disgusting, and Trina decides not to gross out her friends. She leans back in her seat and laughs, careful not to spill her glass. "It has such a nice after taste, though. The Wormiste, I mean. The Kaf is just Kaf, as far as I'm concerned."

Trina dips a metal finger into the liquor and she gains a wistful look. She raises her hand up and lets a few drops fall to the back of her mouth, skipping her tongue entirely.

"That's a little better," she says. "Still get the after taste."


"Like a shock to your system," Siika says happily, before downing the rest of her glass in similar fashion to Delphine. It's the usual custom; the first is chugged, to get your tongue accustomed to the burn. The next glass is sipped.

Listening to Trina's story, her face curls when she guesses at what's next. "Ugh. I mean, I shouldn't judge, because... but I can't help it."

Turning, she takes the glass and finds a seat, sprawling her legs and free arm out in total, absolute comfort. "They have these orbital farms, you know," she says. "Where they lure them in with treated gamma radiation. That's what's in Parana's rings, draws them to our system. Anyway, once they lure them in, they slowly siphon their skin secretions. It's a good thing, really. At one time there was such an infestation in orbit that it started to jam up travel, mess with communications. These worms, you see - illanorus tertiama - they're used to living in deep space. Such higher exposure to the gamma radiation makes them 'sweat' too much, jacks up their reproductive cycles, but it jams up their dermal lungs, so mining the secretions actually helps them."

Siika turns her attention to Delphine next, and presents a thankful smile. "Thanks for helping out with those slug-heads, by the way. They were stinking up my ship."


Delphine has obviously partied before. She wants to say that even with the juice it smells and tastes like the cleaning fluid she used to scrub the mess table they're sitting at. But she decides to be polite. But it isn't long until she feels the the liquid's more sedating effects. Enjoying the floaty feeling she leans back into the padded bench she occupies and takes in a couple of slow deep breaths. "That's incredible. It almost makes it taste better..." She sniffs her glass and shakes her head with a mischievous grin. "Nope, it does not make it better."

When Siika addresses her she is tracing patterns in the table top with her fingers. "My pleasure. We needed a clean restart to this trip." Then she says, "Bright Stars! I hope that was the worst part!"


"I hope that was the worst part, too," Trina agrees. I can't imagine it getting--"

Trina catches what she's about to say and claps a hand over her mouth. They had already been attacked by pirates. The last thing the cyborg wanted to do was curse their trip further. What could be worse, anyway? Getting swallowed by one of Siika's giant illanorus tertiamas?

Sucking some of the Wormiste from her fingers, feeling warm in her belly and behind her eyes, Trina decides even that probably wouldn't be the worst.

Trina lowers her hand from her face and continues speaking. "Have any of you been to Telmaria before? It's an oceanic planet, so I hope you all enjoy seafood."


"Zastorva," Siika says. The word bears the suggestion that it is an oath of agreement to such sentiments. "I guess it all depends on how this Revace chumbah reacts to being tracked down through his mean droid."

The Wormiste is sipped now; with every sip, the human tongue begins to experience less and less of the vile flavor, in favor of a quickening of the pleasant aromas. Scientifically, in fact, it is a desired taste.

To Trina, she shakes her head. "Never. Wild guess it rains a lot there, huh?" The thought of it curls her nose a little, but talk of seafood has her sitting up a bit more straight.

"I love seafood."


"Oh me too!" Delphine exclaims even though her eyes have been closed and she might have seemed down for the count. "Lincoln's mom made us this incredible fish stew once. Mmmmm, so good. That woman can cook!" She pauses for a beat then thrusts her arm up in the air, index finger pointed. "That reminds me! Ocean world, yes. Rainy, depends. Lots of platforms...whole tiny cities on platforms."


Trina sits up and nods as Delphine talks about the platforms. "I've never been there, but I had to study some reports on non-Regency shipyard planets, once. There aren't many cities on Telmaria, and the ones they do have are on these mobile platforms. They originally developed the technology to protect themselves from the mammoth sea creatures that swallow ships that sit in one place too long. The mobility of their cities make them invulnerable to orbital bombardment, too."

A pause, a beat just long enough to realize what she just said. Trina looks at remainder of the green liquid in her glass, then sets it down on the counter. "Anyway, I'll have to go back to Valentine's with you some time when Lincoln's mother is cooking. That would be very nice."


A blush rises to Siika's cheeks when Lincoln's mother is brought up. She makes herself distracted by looking at her drink, swirling the green liquid around for a moment. However, the talk of mammoth sea creatures has her looking toward Trina with a frown.

"I swear, if some giant tentacle monster swallows this ship, I'd better be inside of it, so I can blow my way out."

Her attention remains upon Trina for a moment longer. She looks back down to her drink again, feeling the weight of multiple unfinished conversations forming in the room. She casts a look back toward Delphine, very close to commenting on how she'd like to experience Kira's cooking, but instead, she looks down to her drink again.

"Have either of you ever seen an orbital bombardment?"


"Well I'm moving out anyway...oh and yeah. I've had that poodoo coffee you talked about. And ya know what?" She pauses dramatically then motions sideways with her hand and shakes her head. "Nothing special."

Delphine's closed eyes fly wide at the talk of giant ship-eating sea creatures. "Oh..." But thought of exploded from the inside-out ocean mammoth reminds her of the carnage she's been wiping off of the Servant Mercy. She looks over to Siika at her question and sits up a bit straighter, her fair features frowning with concern. Hoping the answer is no she looks to Trina, then asks Siika, "Have you?"


Leaning back in her seat, Trina tries to imagine what it would be like confined in the Servant Mercy while a massive sea creature tried to consume it. There'd be no tight-beam hacking her way out of that one. Completely at the mercy of the ship and the firepower it could bring to bear against a colossal monster... Trina shudders.

The shiver continues as she contemplates the question about bombardment. Damn that Wormiste, and damn her for mentioning it at all. The cyborg's eyes unfocus for a moment.

"I haven't seen a bombardment first hand, no," Trina says, her voice quiet. But she'd read about them. Too many of them. She remembered an account of one buried in that planetary shipyard planet report she mentioned before.

Trina's eyes refocus on the ceiling. Terragena. There'd been bombardment at one point on the same planet where this ship had been made.

Again, Trina shudders and looks back to Siika, curious what her response will be to Delphine's query.


Siika's eyes rise up from her drink, and she shakes her head from side to side. "Once I asked Father about the one on Parana," she says quietly. It had happened before she was born. "He refused to talk about it."

Leaning forward, her metal-lined arms rest upon her metal-lined legs, causing a little clank of sound as the external limbs and joints strike each other. Her shoulders slump forward, and she shakes her head after a moment's thought.

"Parana is close to the hypergate," she says. "It's how I knew about the Force. Used to monitor the hypercomms when I was little, you know, trying to learn things about the other side."

Her hands wring together about her glass, and as she considers some of those things she'd learned as a little girl, her frown deepens. "I heard once that there was a weapon. One that could destroy an entire planet. Not by bombardment, you know, which is possible if you have enough time and firepower..." She looks up to the two, eyes going back and forth between each. "With one shot."

The drink is lifted, her frown becoming worrisome. "I hope... nothing like that ever happens here."


The time had come for Delphine to think. With a small amount of concentration she sobers up even more than the subject matter had done for her. In fact, a suspicious person might think her previous composure to have been an act, but they'd be wrong. Delphine trusted these women. Well, almost. Trina was still a quandary for the Acolyte. She seemed to want to help but the mech pilot's ties to the man Kalden, who was not only aligned with Malideus but had been on Orum's Bastion as well, and knowing that man tied Trina to the Regency. She wonders if she could have insisted Trina not come along. Then comes Siika's story about a planet killer from the other side, where Sarna had come from. "That's...that's the worst thing I've ever heard." In a beat she becomes incensed at the universe, a flicker of something more than just anger coloring her eyes more towards purple. "How can people do that to each other?!"


So it was Siika's planet that had been bombarded. Trina remembered reading about it, dispassionately at the time, because it had happened a long time ago to a people she would never meet. Panara? There was no cause to send someone like Trina there. She wouldn't have been given an assignment there even if she volunteered.

"This... world killer," Trina says. "If The Regency has designs on any kind of weapon like that, I do not know about it. They don't tell me much, anyway. I'm not... I'm sort of a specialist, or a contractor. They only tell me what I need to know in order to get my job done, and that job is to extract information."

This is it. This is the conversation Trina wanted to avoid, but not even the distraction of pirates and a messy clean-up couldn't push it off any further. "I gather information. Usually through hacking, but sometimes I'm called to do other things. Like on Orum's Bastion."


Watching the change in Delphine's demeanor, including what she could swear was a coloration of her eyes, Siika finds herself numbly recalling her first experience as a killer; the blind rage she almost fell into when she held that metal rod against the Trandoshan pirate's neck.

Her attention shifts to Trina as she talks about the Regency. She shakes her head and says, "Even if it's just a story, it means, someone has thought of it. Considered it. As some... acceptable solution to handling something you don't like." The mere thought of it is disgusting to her.

She goes quiet for a time, sipping at her beverage as Trina confesses just how her ties to the Regency exist. So, she's not a commissioned or enlisted officer. More something of a hired third party, as her father might have put it. And yet, her cybernetics are owed to the Regency, something that explains just why it's so much more sophisticated than her own.

"So they knew something was going down," Siika confirms, her attention still upon Trina. "And they hired you to go and figure it out." She shakes her head, and turns her attention to Delphine. "And your Enclave, they also knew something was going down, and they sent you there. To figure it out." Her eyebrows lift, as if quietly asking whether she has all of this right, or not.


Delphine tries to open her mind to Trina's words as she basically admits to being a Regency spy and operative - like her associate Kalden, Kalden who was aligned with the Telgossian. She begins to speak slowly, her tone lower than usual. "So you were there to what? Capture Ravace? But you got shot by the man's droid. And then that other man, Kalden, you work with him and he left you there to die. And yet...you say your tech is valuable and you owe them for it." The Acolyte regards Trina with utmost pity in her lightening seaglass gaze. "I don't think they value you at all."

Delphine then hears Siika tie the paths of herself and Trina together and she feels uncomfortable all of a sudden. She doesn't mention the data chit she has tucked away that a Proctor had given her to deliver along with her instructions to meet a client for a routine job. She looks pointedly at Trina. "So you're really here to report back to the Regency." Then she sighs and rolls her eyes, gesturing to herself. "And that's what I'm doing for the Enclave. I wonder if there's any other faction pursuing this Envoy."


"There was just this rumor," Trina says, first to Siika, then to Delphine. "A high level Dissident going on a campaign to do... something. I wasn't there to kill him. I was supposed to figure out who he was and then find out what the Dissidents are planning."

To Trina's ears, Siika is asking questions, while Delphine has fallen back into interrogation. Even berating her. All at once, it's too much. Perhaps it was the Wormiste. Maybe the experience of restoring K7 was more harrowing than Trina cared to admit, even to herself. Whatever it is, something inside the hacker's mind slips and she stands up, furious.

"Of course they don't value me! Just look at me!" Trina shouts, pointing an angry finger at Delphine. "I was never smart enough, or strong enough! I wasn't as good a pilot as my brother. And now I'm not human enough! I'm always questioned. Where is your loyalty, Trina? Who are you really working for, Trina? Do you want to know who Kalden is? Find yourself a mirror, take a good long look, because as far as I can tell, you and he are the same person!"

Trina ends her yelling by picking up the rest of her green liquor. For a moment, she looks like she's about to throw the glass on the floor. Then she tosses the rest back in one gulp, like Delphine and Siika had done before. She winces, the taste still hard on her tongue, and she slams the glass back on the counter before turning to stomp away.


And here, Siika had stumbled in on the whole mess by being in the wrong or right place at the wrong or right time. She wouldn't have even gotten involved had Lady Aurelia not been there, a face she recognized more easily than Trina's at the time.

A contemplative expression forms upon her face, one that is quickly shot down by surprise at Trina's sudden outburst. There is surprise, then perhaps a touch of fear, followed soon by a worry that there's going to be more fighting on her ship.

"Heyheyhey," she says rapidly, and rises to her feet, leaving the glass on a nearby table when Trina makes to leave. "Wait just a damn minute, Trina."

There is a strength to her words, one she hopes cuts through everything else to cool things for a moment. "This is my ship, and you're both here." She looks from Trina to Delphine. "An Acolyte of the Enclave." She then turns back to Trina. "An agent of the Regency."

Each hand rises, aimed with hands pressed into a calming gesture aimed at each woman. "Don't think I didn't suspect it, Tri," she tells her fellow cyberwoman. "Yeah. I thought about telling you to shove it and stay on V-World. But I didn't. You know why?"

She takes a single step toward Trina, lowering her arms. "Because you mean a lot to me, too." Her head shakes. "And I don't think you are happy with your situation. Maybe..." She looks between the two women again. "Maybe when we all find out what the hell is really going on, we can all make some pretty big decisions on our own. Until then... we move forward. As a team."


Dissident. Delphine turns the word around in her mind. Dissident. A dissenter. Someone who objects or opposes. "Dissident." She says the word out loud and hates it even more. She watches Trina make to leave and reaches for her own glass. Residue of the fruit sickly concoction has settled into a last swallow and she tips her glass back to get at. "You don't owe me anything, Trina. That's the difference." She didn't regret her questions. She needed to know that if Ravace made his case to her, that Trina wouldn't be required to take some regrettable action. When Siika speaks she only mildly regrets her own words. She strongly regrets allowing Trina on this trip at all, being unaware of how she'd saved their skins against the pirates just hours ago. Siika's naivete is showing to the Acolyte but she's decided she's sewn enough dissatisfaction in the ranks for one hyperspace journey. But she was also sympathetic to Siika and this was her home. After being mostly silent she nods softly and says, "I can try that."


Trina is stopped by Siika's words. She half turns, her cyborg eye taking in her friends while her human eye remains closed and away. She doesn't want them to see the tears. Not now.

A defense of The Regency comes to Trina's mind. How if they had been in Regency controlled space, they never would have had to fight the pirates at all. The civilization. The technology. The rule of law. These were qualities Trina valued in The Regency, even if The Regency didn't value her in return.

This isn't the time for a political speech. Other words, bitter words, come instead. "I work for people that devalue me because of what I look like. Because of what I became. And now I'm on a ship with people I considered my friend, people that judge me because of the jobs I take. But I take jobs so people don't die. I work hard to make sure there are no bombardments. I go where I go to make sure people don't get hurt."

A pause. A step further away. Then, "I came with you because I wanted to make sure people I care about didn't get hurt. And you judge me for that."

With that, Trina moves quickly away to one of the sleeping quarters. She can't afford to look back, because she can feel the tears on her cheek, and it burns.


Delphine watches Trina walk away and just makes a mournful, frustrated sound and puts her head in her hands. "I've got a very bad feeling about this."


Siika watches as Trina goes, and the words strike home. The stubborn part of her wants to berate Trina, reminding her that she's looking past all of that and welcoming her here. Another part of her wants to berate Delphine for being so forceful and direct.

Instead, she turns back to her seat and sits down, eyeing the unfinished beverage with a sense of bitter remorse. After a moment, her eyes turn to Delphine, long after Trina has departed and the sound of her quarter doors sliding shut.

"She's not like Malideus, you know." Siika turns her eyes down the corridor of Trina's departure. "Her heart is in the right place." Eyes turn back to Delphine, and she asks, pointedly, "Isn't that all that really matters?"


Delphine lifts her head from her hands and lays her fingers flat on the table before sitting back and lifting her eyes to Siika. "It is. Until her beliefs override everything. I've spent time at High Centre. They have an entire caste system and people there are locked into whatever role they've been indoctrinated into." She takes a beat. "And I know the Enclave is neutral politically so...I'm confused myself as to why I'm being sent to meet with this Envoy. Whether he's some upstart against the Regency or if he's just someone who's spoken out against them in free space. Either way...does he deserve to have his location outed to an agent of the Regency? I may be signing a man's eventual death warrant by bringing her along. Nothing about this is easy."


"Everyone wants to know who he is," Siika confirms, "what he is, why he is." She shakes her head. "Makes me half tempted to take this ship out of hyperspace, turn her around, and remotely fry my tracker on that droid."

Taking the glass with her, she stands up and breathes out a long sigh. "I'm gonna go get my medical droid up and running," she says, and begins moving toward the cargo bay once more. As she goes, Delphine receives a side eye. "I'm gonna need it in case you all decide to start shooting at each other."

It may be unfair to Delphine, since that remark isn't aimed at her alone, but she's the only one here. Turning back, she disappears into the hold, tipping back the rest of her drink as she goes. Tradition be damned.

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