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Drake

Chapter 3: Archaic

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Drake

It has been three weeks since the brave members of Revenant Squadron decimated the Imperial production facilities of Ithyari. For some, the time has been relaxing. For others, it has been a struggle to recover.

Just a few days into their official shore leave, most of the squadron has left and the base is running on a near skeleton crew. Little do the Revenants know that they are about to face their toughest challenge yet.

Having tracked the squadron back from Ithyari, bounty hunters have located the secret moon base and are, even now, ready to strike. They have only one target. Only one bounty. And they won't stop until they have her. For Archaic is offering a high reward....

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Drake

The halls of Altagak Base were uncharacteristically empty for being the middle of the day. It had been only a few days since half the base personel were given two weeks of shore leave. That half also included the members of Revenant Squadron. The other half, including Screaming Mynock Squadron, was scheduled to take their leave when everyone else got back to take over.

Most of the Revenants had left already. Captain Aeric Tunon had gone to Coruscant to spend some time at the New Republic Defense Force Headquarters. Szen Brǽnen had spent the past few weeks, since returning from Ithyari, at Coruscant Medical with Nima Secura, who had overseen surgery and the recovery process. Lieutenant Nat Riamor had gone home to Ryloth to visit his clan. Atuarre had also returned to her homeworld, Trian. Arlan Vaar and Jya Orson had gone away to some vacation world. Aston Kendall had decided to return to Coruscant. Intelligence Captain Brier Fae, though not subject to NRDF rules of leave, managed to arrange for vacation time and took Kaden Staal with her to Corellia.

There were, however, still a few stragglers hanging around waiting for transport out of the system. One of them was Jaim Adarra. He had slept in and missed the last flight to Corellia with Brier and Kaden, either intentionally or accidentally, no one was sure. Lieutenant Takeshi Beskar, though having told everyone that he would be going to Umgul to catch some races and meet some old friends, was waiting with Layla Nasrin to go visit her daughter on Zeltros.

***

Takeshi walked down another empty corridor and made a turn into the section of living quarters for the squadron. Most of the doors were currently locked so he walked up to one that wasn't and rang the chime.

Edited by Andy

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Rogue

Layla walked to the door, pressing the switch to open the automatic door and leaned in the doorjamb with a sweet smile. "Hey there handsome. Getting a little stir-crazy in your cabin?"

Three weeks ago on Ithyari, opening the door to see the handsome face of the Squadron's third in command would have caused fear to run through her. However, since leaving the world, her nightmares had subsided, and her fear along with them. Paranoia had gotten the best of her there, but Takeshi had only shown her kindness since their return, and even before that. It would be foolish of her to compare him to someone else.

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Drake

Tak smirked. "You could say that. Stir-crazy was two hours ago. I just got back from a bout in the sims and a run around the base. Still bored, though. You got anything lying around to help pass the time?" He gave her a grin. "We still have, what...five hours before the transport arrives?"

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Rogue

"Let's see...I think I have a deck of sabaac cards in here somewhere."She moved to let him in. Her side of the room was closest to the door, and more...colorfully decorated than Sena's side, which lay bare now. A couple weeks ago Layla had finally given in to the girl's insistance that she couldn't stand being there anymore. Layla had set her up with some distant family members who were staying on Commenor. She knew the girl would be safe there.

That little fact meant that the room's second cot was bare, and Layla had pushed it against the wall to give the space more room. "Although I wouldn't play against Adarra anytime soon. I think he uses a skifter. I've got some holodramas...but they're probably too sappy for your tastes."

Edited by Rogue

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Drake

Tak brushed past Layla on his way through the door giving her midriff a tickle before going over to her cot and plopping himself down. He kicked off his boots and lay back, hands behind his head, making himself comfortable.

"Oh, I don't know," Tak said. "Just as long as it isn't The Datapad. That flick is laaaaame."

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Rogue

Layla smirked, shutting the door before sauntering over and taking a seat beside him on the narrow bed and turning sideways to look at him. "Figures you'd say that. Every guy says that...that's because it made you're big manly tearsacks cry, and you know it."

She smiled sweetly down at him. "Lucky for you, I don't like that movie either. Not a big thing for Zeltrons to have people upset around them...we feel it, times the number of people who are feeling it. I had to leave the holotheatre when it was a new release."

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Drake

Takeshi laughed. "I can see it now! Wow Legs, you sure know how to clear a room." He leaned closer to her and put his hand on hers. Over the past few months, the two of them had grown closer, past their professional relationship. Regulations be damned.

"Oh yeah," he added. "I got something for Ayana back in my quarters. Wrapped it up by myself and everything."

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Rogue

"Did you really?" She smiled brilliantly, all white teeth betwen pink lips before reaching over to run her other hand through his hair. "You didn't have to do that you know. I hope it isn't something sharp and pointy. I get a bad feeling that Mandalorian kids play with different toys than Zeltron children do."

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Drake

"Yeah, I got her one of my daggers and a blaster." He grinned. "Never too late to start 'em off early." After a laugh, Tak added, "Nah, I got her a stuffed Ewok." He paused. Then, in the most serious voice he could pull off under the circumstances, said, "Sadly, I couldn't get a real stuffed Ewok. Something about interspecies rights. I had to settle for a fake."

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Rogue

She smiled again, leaning down to place a soft kiss on Lieutenant Beskar's lips. "I think it's the perfect gift for a three year old girl. Ayana's going to love it."

Layla Nasrin's life had never really been without turmoil, so to her, sitting in here hiding out with the man she was growing to love---a man who outranked her, was risky, but normal. Sneaking him home with her to meet her child was something new and exciting altogether though. Ayana was staying with family right now. She had been astranged from her parents when she was a member of Archaic, so she knew that at home was the very last place they would actually look. "I bought her a few presents too, some bookchips because she'll be reading before I know it."

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Bad furday

* * *

Gold Beach, Corellia

The flight in had been pretty standard, Arlan thought.

Before boarding, he had been pulled aside and scanned separately. The various robots and equipment in his carry-on bag had set off the security alarm.

The scanning was done by a rather bored Gotal, who seemed more interested in when his next break was than why Arlan "vacationing robotics scientist" didn't

leave his tools in the lab.

The guard had waved Arlan though, and then began scanning Jya. After a few tense moments, she had been motioned forwards as well.

"Why did you bring your robotics stuff?" Jya had asked him.

"Because," he'd replied, " Someone needs to take our pictures." He had then given her a lecherous wink.

The look on Jya's face had been priceless.

Onboard the space cruiser, the two of them had fallen asleep while watching the onboard movie. It hadn't been an Imperial holodrama, but it was just as boring. A narrator droning

on and on about some massive "Gateway of the Sun" carved from a single block of stone, believed to be thousands of years old, and bearing some sort of sun god motif.

And here they were now, in a hammock on the beach, Jya's leg draped over him and the two of them basking in the sun.

Arlan caressed Jya's hip, casuing her to snuggle closer.

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Ender

Jaim groggily half-stumbled down the corridor of the base, pulling on his shirt. He didn't care that he had missed his flight, the night (and most of the morning) before had been well worth waiting around the military base a few more hours. New Republic officers, usually stuffy by Jaim's standards, became quite fun when inundated by large amounts of ale and wine.

Hmm... wonder if those Mynocks are over their hangovers enough to lose some money, he thought. Jaim had never suffered from hangovers, something which regularly confounded both his friends and enemies.

Jaim headed for the rec room, now eager to take his comrades' credits.

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Vergere

********

Three Days Before

About a half hour outside of Tyrena, Corellia

Brier Fae couldn't help but smile in pure glee as she landed her personal spacecraft down in the middle of a large estate that had its own hangar.

She commed back to the lounge of the ship, "Mr. Staal, we're here." She shrugged as she flicked off the comm. She'd more or less, with the help of most of the squadron, convinced Kaden to get offplanet, even if he didn't want to. Although she hadn't told him yet, she was going to do everything in her power to try and convince him to at least babysit the kids for a night. Of course, she still hadn't yet told him about the fact that she even had a family, let alone a huge one.

Brier took off her restraining device and opened the hatch to the outside, and not seeing Kaden around yet to introduce, walked out of the ship, only to be knocked to the ground and literally covered in small, screaming bodies that, sometimes, were isolated enough from each other to look like individual children. Several grinning adults, on the other hand, had come out at a more casual pace. None of them, however, helped Brier out from under the pile of children.

After a moment of convincing, they let her up, and she hugged each of the children individually, appeasing them long enough to get a breather from their excited yells and screams. They looked like they ranged in age from about 12 to 2 years old, and not all were human. Only two were even a human-Arkadian-looking mix, having light skin, hair, and eyes, looking more Corellian than Brier but less Corellian than everyone else there.

She got back to her feet and smiled tiredly at the man who was coming towards her. She walked to meet him halfway, albeit quickly, and they hugged each other tight before the Corellian kissed her and dipped her in a fashion fit for the holodramas. She laughed as he pulled her back up amongst cheers from the family, and she kissed him sweetly again. She then pulled away to go hug everyone else that came out to meet her, and then she glanced at the ship where Kaden was standing at the top of the ramp, just watching the chaos before him without saying a word.

Brier smiled warmly and motioned that he come on out. She spoke in her soft, soothing and gentle voice, "Come now, Mr. Staal. They don't bite. I swear." At that, all the children of various ages moved away from the shuttle so he could exit, and went to stand by their respective parents. Brier stepped over to where Kaden was, and to motion and point out various people. "That's my adopted father, Taner Novar. My husband, whom Szen had met on Ithyari as Kier Taylor, is Zak Novar. My brother-in-law slash adopted brother, Wes Novar, and his wife Drea. I also met up with Wes and several of my contacts on Ithyari during our second mission, even though he went under an assumed name. And my sister-in-law skash adopted sister, Zana Midanyl, and her husband Garik."

She smiled as one of the youngest children, which actually was a twi'lek girl, tugged on Brier's pantleg. After picking her up, Brier motioned to the five children in front of Zak and the one she was holding. "And these are my children. The two oldest are mine and Zak's, and the other four we adopted as their parents - our friends - were killed and they were left orphans. The others, besides..." She looked around at the group, "...three are my nieces and nephews. The other three, it seems, we are babysitting for friends while they're out... working."

Brier smiled charmingly at Kaden; it would be difficult not to smile back, even if she had seemed to pick up several Corellian mannerisms. "As it stands, we have several rooms that you're more than welcome to choose from to sleep in during your stay. And the children really aren't that poorly behaved... I just haven't been home to see my children for about four months." She smiled and rubbed noses with the small twi'lek she was holding still.

Edited by Drake

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Mara

near Tyrena, Corellia

He would have much rather stayed on base and help out the mechanics or get in some more flying time, but after long discussions with his squadronmates, he accepted the Intel officer's offer. The flight was rather uneventful, except for Artie's electronic grumblings. The droid had wanted to stay to play games with others on base, hoping to scalp for credits, but if he had to go to a strange place with people he didn't know, Kaden wanted at least one more being he would know. So Artie came along, too.

Kaden just hoped it wouldn't be too awkward or that he wouldn't be getting in anyone's way. Brier had assured him that he wouldn't, but he was still a little wary.

He lifted his hand in what he hoped was a friendly wave. "Uh, nice to meet you all..."

Behind him, Artie zoomed down the ramp, excited to see a new place and get out of the cramped shuttle where he was strapped in for safety. He headed right away for the youngest children.

Edited by Mara

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Vergere

The youngest children squealed and laughed as the droid came near them, and they broke ranks from their parents and ran over to the droid to, they hoped, play. Brier put down the girl she was holding and looked at Kaden. "Shall I give you a tour and show you your options for rooms?"

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Mara

He shrugged, glancing at Artie. Seeing that the droid was handling himself, he shifted the strap of his small bag to a better position on his shoulder. "Lead the way."

Artie opened a couple of his compartments, showing the children some of his safer, duller instruments, not wanting to hurt them. He beeped and squealed. Then he spun his dome in a circle and broke through the crowd of kids, closing everything up and hoping to lead them on a chase or game of tag.

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Vergere

At that, even the older kids joined in the chase, racing after the little droid as he ran through the stone courtyard.

Brier nodded to the commotion as they walked, "Your droid does well with children." She stops just outside a door and motions to the large open area that they were just in. "That's the main hangar, and above us is the main courtyard. You'll see it in a minute. But first, I'll show you the house."

'House' was a relative term, it turned out. As she led Kaden through it in a tour-like fashion, it was obvious it was a mansion with a decent estate attached to it. There were long corridors with windows that looked out over grassy areas on one side, and the stone courtyard on the other. There were rooms after rooms in the house, but unlike most estates this large, it all looked well used and very warm and inviting. Brier led him to a section of the house, and motioned, "You're welcome to any of these rooms, Mr. Staal. I shall let you choose. Each one's individual - different sorts of furnishings, different colors, different styles. Find what you like most, and its yours."

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Drake

Tak smirked and planted Layla with a bigger kiss than the first. It was interrupted by a low growl coming from Tak's stomach. "Hmm. It looks like I'm hungry again. Want to hit the cafeteria for some lunch?"

***

A small fleet of ships passed through the upper reaches of the gas giant which the Revenant's hidden moon-base orbited. It was a rag-tag grouping of warships and cruisers that were dirty and covered in various shadings of old paint. They bore marking that identified them a mercenaries and pirates. Three smaller ships escorted the larger vessels through the miasma of red gas. The smaller ships belonged to bounty hunters.

All of them were on their way to attack Altagak Base.

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Rogue

"Sounds great to me." She smiled down at him, her eyes dancing playfully as she said, "Besides, I'd like to be able to have a conversation without your stomach chiming in."

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Bad furday

* * *

Beach resort hotel, Gold Beach, Corellia

"Hey," said Jya, coming up behind Arlan, "Look what I've got!"

She waved two slips of flimsi in midair.

"Podrace tickets!" exclaimed Arlan gleefully. He pulled Jya to him and gave her a kiss that left her

gasping for breath.

"I'll get the speeder ready!" winked Arlan.

* * *

The directions to the pod race were actually pretty straight forwards. The course was a few miles from the beach, as it wasn't legal to race pods within the city center.

The rental speeder hummed over the sandy landscape, dotted with grasses.

Arlan looked over at Jya, her hair whipping wildly, and noticed that she had brought along a holocamera. He smiled to himself,

As long as the being we give our camera to to take our picture doesn't run off with it!

Minutes later, after paying the parking droid, Arlan swung the speeder into a parking space and climbed out.

He joined Jya at the front of the vehicle.

"Excited?" asked Jya, smiling. Arlan could only give an ear to ear grin.

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Drake

Tak smiled. "You and me both." He got up from the bed and stretched a bit. "Hey, I have to head back to my quarters real quick. Need to grab something. I'll meet you there!"

Edited by Drake

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Mara

"Yeah, I know. I wish I knew why, but I wasn't his first owner...er, companion." Kaden changed his mind, knowing that after a few weeks of acquiring him, Artie had ceased to feel any master/droid status with him. If anything, Artie was his master.

He hadn't wanted to pry, really, it wasn't in his nature, but he still found himself wondering what her family was into. Instead he said, "You can just call me Kaden." Kaden smiled wryly, "'Mr Staal' makes me think you're talking to my father..."

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Vergere

"As you wish, Kaden." She motioned to the hallway, "Well, go on. See if one of them works."

Edited by Tyche

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Mara

He stood there, glancing up and down the hall and shrugged, stepping towards the nearest door on their end. Kaden slipped through the door to check it out. He was almost astonished at the opulence of it all; he hadn't had quarters near that since he was a boy. And even his apartment on Coruscant was a shack compared this this place.

"This one is fine. Closest to the main area of the house."

Kaden walked in farther and, after a second thought, dropped his bag on the large bed.

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