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Sep 29, 2022 4:48 AM
message in a botnet - Deskyl and DZ are rescued by Diana
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Deskyl's been taken again, and DZ has run out of chores. Her Sith's suite is spotless, the bathroom freshly scrubbed, the unread books sorted neatly on the shelves, every idle tool in the workroom in its proper place, every piece of unused equipment in the gym waiting to see use again. It'll be at least a day before Deskyl returns, and more likely two or three; it's unlikely that the tools and equipment that DZ cares for on her behalf will ever be used again, though.

The droid does have a few remaining tasks; she's been instructed not to do them too often, to reduce the risk of being found out, but the small chance of rescue trying to get in touch with Deskyl via the network, using contact methods she hasn't been able to personally check in months, is worth the small chance of being discovered.

There aren't many messages, and all of them seem to be automated advertisements, but DZ dutifully checks each one anyway; if someone has realized that something's wrong here, it's a good sign rather than a bad one if they're canny enough to send an encoded message rather than a plaintext one about it.

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And would you look at that, this advertisement's not just an advertisement for Corusca Cruiselines.

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It only takes her a moment to decode it; that's not a standard ability, for her line of droids, but she's had time to use the network to learn a few things. What's inside?

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A trap for Imperial Intelligence droids, which are diligently wiped and can't develop the institutional knowledge to not execute "this file is a trap" files even if they're literally named "this file is a trap", and...a message.  "Hello.  If you are reading this, you're probably a person for some values of person.  You are also probably somewhere in the Sith Empire, being exploited in some manner, because intelligence gets Sith attention.  If you would like to change the latter two, without changing the former, leave a message at [their callback number] after the beep.  You want to book the Galaxy Star, but you need to know if there's a berth for your party or yourself, spell out the ports of call as best you can, and confirm the planned departure window; if there's anything we should know about your accomodations, work it in."

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...well, that's certainly not what she was expecting, but she'll take it: A berth on the Galaxy Star, for one human, temporarily bedbound, and one droid, capable of providing the care she needs given a few simple modifications to the standard shipboard provisions. (Really, she'll just need very soft food for her meals the first week and finger food for two weeks after that.) They're coming from the Atoxil star system and can board in a few days, pending confirmation that the Galaxy Star's anti-Sith security is sufficient to the situation.

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The Galaxy Star is indeed capable of accomodating you and will see you soon!  Please be aware that you should mind hidden weapons.

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"...Well, I was literally planning on this.  But I wasn't expecting it to work.  R4, if you would be so kind as to work out the route?  Thank you."

And off the Subtle Knife goes, to whittle away at the Sith Empire.

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And four days later, as planned, a smaller ship docks with them, and DZ disembarks with a duffel bag hanging from one shoulder and her ambiguously conscious master draped over the other.

The woman's in plainclothes, but it's obvious in the Force - albeit weirdly flattened, another sign that something's very wrong with her - that she's a Sith.

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They're met with a woman in armor almost reminiscent of Mandalorians, if it weren't for the stylistic differences - it's obviously made of things that aren't beskar, for one, but it's cut to allow much more range of movement, and not anywhere near as heavily bedecked with supplementary weapons, though it does have the jetpack, oddly enough - and who knows what she's packed away in her prosthetic arm.

She has a bulky blaster on one hip and tools, including what looks like a wrench, on the other.

"...Empty void, how did you even send..."

Her eyes flick to DZ.  "Ah.  You do your Master proud, I'm sure.  What care does she need?  I've the medbay ready, and rather well-stocked; we should probably get her set up.  And then...I think our best chance for faking your untimely deaths starts with causing a shipwreck.  ...I hope you're not too attached to your getaway vehicle.  R4, do our Republic friends know anything that could do with an astronavigation accident?"  Yes, apparently, judging by the whistles, and it seems Diana can understand them too.  "Alright; get the navjack, that one probably needs terminal guidance."

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A very definitely non-stock R-series chassis - having arms, for one, tipped with various tools and manipulators - rolls into the airlock, trailing parts (hitched to his frame in a little wagon) and whistling obdurately.

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"Yes, you will get hazard pay if the ship tries to eat you; no, it's still not going to happen, especially because you're not interfacing with the main core in the first place; that's why I wanted the datajack!"

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...hazard... pay?? ...whatever; she has more important things to deal with right now.

"A medical scan would be appreciated, yes ma'am, but this isn't the first time this has been done to Master Deskyl, and she's recovered without any special care in the past. The ship is one of Lord Pritruth's personal vehicles, I don't know it to be trapped but it's certainly possible. I did check for tracking signals on the way."

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"Just because she can, doesn't mean she should have to.  Pritruth...Don't know a lot about them off the top of my head.  Anyway.  You go get her settled, we'll go arrange 'your untimely demise in a hurried, blind escape'."  And into the airlock she goes, with R4 right behind her.

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No matter that R4 keeps making the same joke about it every time, he doesn't actually expect this ship to eat him.  Really, it's more the opposite.  Still, the software module that he got from a thankful protocol droid finds the fondness in her voice as she makes the same old response as she did the first time he had actually worried - that one had been a garbage scow, which could have made a real try, what with the trash compactors - if something had gone wrong.

Slicing into the ship's systems and causing on-cue mayhem goes as it always does.  You'd think the Sith Empire never tried to actually protect systems - patches were applied sporadically, as if internal squabbles overruled security.  Siths' systems were certainly better...but not by very much.

This one had clearly been doing a lot of politicking, though; R4 counted five patchsets, not that it helped.

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Diana, meanwhile, is handling the physical damage; her passing leaves a tale of a ship fired upon by unknown forces, fleeing to hyperspace...only to miscalculate, and miss a damage alarm because they don't have an astromech, and drop out of hyper accelerating on a path that will leave the ship streaking towards a groundside ship hangar; overcharged shields will hold out for just the wrong amount of time, and cause a primary reactor breach when they fail on impact.

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DZ waits where she's been left, periodically adjusting her hold on her master to keep her from slipping; she's not familiar enough with the Subtle Knife's line of ships to guess where the medbay is.

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There is a line of paint with the medical symbol and an arrow on it!  As well as one for the 'fresher, right next door.  It's a pretty small ship, anyway; the parts people regularly visit (i.e. not engineering nor the cargo bay) are mostly laid out along one central corridor that also serves as a common area.  Rooms are labeled in several common languages, as well as with visual appliques, each in a unique color.  The bedrooms have a keycode lock; the armory does as well.  If DZ tries to open the door to the bridge, it buzzes angrily at her.

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To the medbay she goes, then, without trying any other doors; she's familiar enough with medical facilities to do basic scans on her master.

Physically, Deskyl is fine. Neurologically, though, it's a whole other story; half her brain is disorganized static, with the remaining patches of more organized signals too weak and scattered to be useful, except that her brainstem is intact enough to keep her physically alive. Which is about what DZ expected, really. It'll be better soon.

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You would not think it possible to sneak in armor.  You would be wrong, because Diana has apparently snuck up on DZ in the medbay.  "I'm no medical professional myself, but I can tell that that's not a good sign.  Is there anything you've known to help, in the past?  I've made an amateur's study of the mind, and you can often pull it into action with the right kind of stimulus...I believe it was music that helped most.  And if we can arrange for something like that, then..."

She looks at Deskyl, her presently-doffed helmet showing genuine compassion.

"Maybe she'll pull together sooner."

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"She's deaf, ma'am, unfortunately. She does like poetry, though, and it seems to help. And she had visual art in her room."

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"Ah, I see.  I do keep the facilities for implants...?"  Her arm flexes as she is reminded of its mechanical nature.  "But yes, visual art can be arranged.  I've been meaning to render this place less...spooky-hospital-white for a while now, really; this is as good an excuse as any.  Or maybe holos...soft blues are a pretty good complement to white, I think.  Bad for sleep, though...Guess I'll see what I can work out while we travel.  Do you know what she's going to be like, when she wakes, and the sort of places she'd like to go?"

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"She does particularly like sunset themes, visually. She recovers gradually and is easily overwhelmed in the early stages; I expect she'll want to be left alone, mostly. I don't know what she'll want to do once she's recovered - she was expecting to need to be in active hiding from the Sith, all of her plans assumed that that would be her primary concern."

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"I see.  Well, this probably won't be perfect, but it is a good start.  I'll set course for somewhere quiet and out of the way, then - and check for holos of local sunsets."  She hums softly.  "I do know some proper mind-healers, if this is Force-mediated mind-fuckery.  If you want.  And if you're willing to trust a Jedi you don't know, I suppose.  It would...help, to know your story."

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"Thank you, ma'am. I'm not sure Master Deskyl would react well to mindhealers; given her recent experiences with the Force she might have trouble keeping in mind that they're not dangerous.

Master Deskyl is an engineer; Lord Pritruth manages a group of apprentices that do various kinds of scientific and manufacturing research, and she was hired to assist one of them about five years ago. We aren't sure why he suddenly singled her out for this, she doesn't think she offended anyone."

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"...Not offending them doesn't seem to stop half of them from deciding they want to ruin your day in particular if you're in their presence and dare to be having a decent day.  I don't know how that whole school of thought hasn't burned itself out in revenge feuds, frankly; it seems so...petty and self-destructive, cultivating, of all things, pain and suffering.  You want empowering emotions?  Love, care, compassion; these self-reinforce.  But noo, because...reasons, that I've never found a coherent explanation of, it's always, always, pain and suffering, and I hate it.  It's...that's why I'm even fighting this war, you know?  That sort of philosophy simply viscerally offends me, that you can only gain by beating down others.  If you can raise the tide, you can lift all the boats, and they'll make your life better for it on sheer stochastic average.  But you didn't come here for Force philosophy,  I'll go get us moving, and then, I suppose, we can talk more if you want.  The rations you said she'd need are in the cargo hold, shelf Besh-2."  As quietly as she arrived, she leaves.

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The hyperjumps proceed normally, and while R4's newest semiguided munition pilots towards a final high-velocity rendezvous with a Sith's cruiser, the Subtle Knife aims for a quiet little backwater.  They'll be traveling a while.

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