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Thread: Forces of Attraction and Repulsion

  1. #1

    Closed Forces of Attraction and Repulsion

    Major Untaaura Verratoa had what most would consider a full daily docket.

    She was out of her bunk at 0430, which left enough time for an hour of PT, then fifteen minutes each of sonic shower, chow, and dress before another fifteen to get her to her security station at 0630. Once there, about an hour and a half sort out any sad sacks who had the misfortune to land in her brig and then deal with whatever busy work landed on her desk. An hour for joint commands meeting, two hours for patrol, 30 minutes for mid-day chow, and then about an hour after chow that was set aside for whatever minor fires she had to put out or random bullshit she had to muck out.

    Today, that bullshit was in the form of a MSE unit, that she was forced to carry to the repair depot herself. A MSE unit that, by her estimation, had gone out of order three times now - each time with a bad motivator. And since it happened precisely at the time that every junior officer or patrol trooper was tending to something actually important, the onerous task of taking this metal piece of shit to the depot fell on her. She didn't ask someone to do anything she wasn't willing and able to do herself, but she damn-well didn't have to like it. Despite how good the cut of your uniform looked, people didn't give a wide berth for someone carrying a bum mouse droid with them.

    The shop was its usual state of mess. Metal shavings finding convenient corners to gather in. The air always had a slight sense of closeness to it, a little too warm for comfort, which caused it to hold humidity and a persistent bouquet somewhere between old lubricant grease, inert-stage coaxium, and sickly-sweet coolant funk. Something unfamiliar to her played on the audio net, a little too dancy for her taste.

    Finally with a counter to relieve her of her burden, Untaaura set the MSE unit up top with a half-disdainful clatter. She couldn't see any of the usuals within sight of the front desk, so the Major tapped the bell. With a ding, the tiny droid unfolded itself under her claw tip, and looked up at her.

    "Welcome to the Spire Two Repair Depot. Do you have a work order number?"

    Untaaura gave the MSE a sharp rap with her knuckles.

    "No tjicket. Motjivatorr'ss out. Agajin.", she added, pointedly.

    "Oh I'm sorry to hear that!" the droid began spooling through its de-escalation subroutine as small manipulator arms began to work at the paneling leading to the tiny compartment that housed the MSE's brain. Retrieving a data wafer, the greeter droid quickly scanned it. "Yes, I see that you have had two previous motivator servicings on this unit..." it suddenly swiveled its oculus to Untaaura and quickly scanned her face, "...Major Verratoa. I will be glad to assign you a work order as well as a service technician to fix this problem!"

    With that, the "bell" droid collapsed back into a puck-shaped disc, righted itself on it's wheel edge, and careened off the counter, wheeling down the corridor beyond.

    Untaaura watched it go with a muttered "Damn drrojidss" under her breath. Hurry Up and Fucking Wait. The true Marine motto.

  2. #2
    And with that, we can certainly deduce that there were ancient civilizations that created great, star-faring empires that spanned star systems before the advent of the hyperlanes. The only thing that arises from that though, is what sort of help did these empires have? Because surely they couldn't have done such exploring without help! There's simply no way. And if we acknowledge and understand that, then there has to be only one logical conclusion we can reach. And I guess I'm not outright saying that it's the Celestials, but... who knows?


    She rounded a corner, heading from one of the many service corridors out into the open of Spire 2. Her commpad was switched off then, as she ended the episode of Archaic Astronauts she'd been watching before it could start in on the ending credits. With a quick swipe of her thumb, she shut the 'pad off and stuffed it into a back pocket.

    Her eyes lifted, and she spotted a diminutive figure waiting at the service desk. Being on service duty was always an 'adventure', and it was always the one day of the week that she both dreaded and anticipated. It could be a ghost town, or it could be an absolute tipyipshit operation.

    Except, she'd already had her one day yesterday. There had been a callout, and she had been picked to fill the gap. So when it came down to it, she wasn't even supposed to be here today.

    "Oh hey! Can I... "

    The body turned to look at her, and Tamera slowed her pace, not expecting the face that met her.

    "Major Verratoa... surprised to see you... ?"

    There was a moment of mild panic, as she wondered if she had managed to get herself into some sort of trouble for... something? Had she done anything, though? Her mind raced to backtrack, and after another few moments she mostly satisfied herself with the fact that no, she'd not done anything to warrant the Major's critical eye. Well, as of late, at least.

  3. #3
    Untaaura was used to people having her at a disadvantage. She was the senior officer of the Jaani'saari, which meant that she was a part of the senior command at Jovan. That, and to be frank, she had a distinctive face. She'd definitely heard a few whispers of Major Scarface when someone thought that she couldn't hear it. So she wasn't shocked when the service tech knew her on sight.

    She gave a curt nod and paused, catching something familiar about the face. Not one she'd seen in person, but one of the hundreds that had crossed her desk for whatever reason or other. Her investigative mind tried to fast forward sift through a mountain of past mentions and reports. A name floated out of the soup, and she tried it on.

    "jYourr name'ss Beck, rrjight?"

    Human. Late 30's to early 40's maybe. Brunette hair, fair features, glasses. Cute smile...no that was a grimace. Well, that was also an expected reaction to interacting with the Marines.

  4. #4
    "Ah, yes Ma'am," she got out.

    Reaching up, Tamera adjusted her glasses before sending both hands down to swipe across her work shirt in a bizarre effort to clean any lingering grease or grime. Of course there was none, but it was a habit that was difficult to break.

    "What can I do for you?"

  5. #5
    The Major gave two claw raps against the durasteel shell of the defunct MSE unit.

    "Motjivatorr'ss sshot. That'ss the thjirrd one thjiss thjing'ss popped jin ssjix monthss."

    Untaaura's posture never really signaled much relaxation in general. Even her casual stance was close enough to parade rest to think that she could spring into action at a moment. Her words functioned the same way. They were clipped and direct, pushing to the heart of the matter.

    "jI don't have tjime to keep brrjingjing thjiss thjing back herre. jIf jit can't be fjixed forr rreal thjiss tjime, jI need to rrequjissjitjion one frrom ssuppljy."

  6. #6
    Moving forward then, Tamera sidled up to the counter and reached for the cute, little droid. Pulling it close, she depressed a button on the underside. the upper shell gave a little pop, and the brunette lifted it up and off to expose the innards.

    "Poor thing," she practically cooed to it.

    "I think I remember reading a report about this guy from some of the other attendants," she went on, addressing the Major this time. Fingers poked into the wiring, gently moving them about in a search for the motivator bank.

    "Something about a problem MSE that just kept faulting out and going through motivators like a Rodian teen going through jungle glob tea."

    Carefully, she grasped the spent motivator between two fingers, and reaching in with her free hand, depressed a small release tab. A click, and the motivator came free.

    She held it up then, inspecting the connector pins. Everything looked ok, but there was still one more test to perform, and she lifted it up to give it a little sniff.

    "Oof! Yup! Burnt right up."

    It was always a particular scent when a piece of electronics burned itself up. The offending motivator was dropped on the counter, and Tamera once more went to inspect the insides. A few more minutes passed, and she frowned.

    "Looks like you've got a ground that's frying the motivator... oh... about every two weeks, I bet?"

  7. #7
    The way that Beck handled the MSE unit definitely spoke to her expertise. There was no hesitation, and she went right to it. Untaaura found herself standing on her tip-toes as she angled for a better view of the work. If she could figure out how to get to the bottom of this and to fix it herself, she wouldn't have to spend her time heading to the depot the next time one crapped out. Of course, it was a little weird that she talked to the thing like it was a pet or a cub, but from the look of this place it didn't look like there was a lot of other social engagement to be had.

    "Therre werre thrree burrnoutss," Untaaura recalled what she could about the service log, "but it had pathjing rrecaljibrratjion whjich was...yeah. jYou'rre rrjight. Jusst about everrjy two weekss.

    Droids were not a training speciality for Untaaura. She knew roughly how they worked, and how to do basic field work on a few common models that might be damaged on the battlefield, but slapping a strut onto an astromech didn't take a lot of thinking.

    "Sso jyou'rre ssajyjing that'ss what'ss caussjing all of thjiss?"

  8. #8
    "Oh for sure!"

    She spoke with the sort of excitement that any mechanic would, when having found the root cause of the problem.

    "Poor little man was shorting out his motivators without even thinking."

    And like any over-excited master-of-whatever, Tamera began to point out all of the different interior parts for the Major.

    "See that right there? That's the CAN device. It communicates with the servo drivers and tells them what to do. But right here," a finger moved over to rest against another small bank of driverchips, "... this is where the sensor data is filtered. It's like a little brain that only focuses one thing. And that one thing is the directions it needs to navigate around obstacles."

    She pulled her hand free then, giving the disassembled MSE a light pat.

    "Little man kept having his marbles scrambled, then burned out."

    Turning a smile to the Major then, Tamera tapped her temple with her index finger.

    "I'll make sure your guy here gets properly fixed up."

  9. #9
    Watching Beck talk about the poor little man was the most gleefully absurd thing she'd seen in a week, and it was hitting her with zero warning. The surprise attack broke Untaaura's defenses.

    "heh..."

    It was a breath on its way out that got caught and formed into a laugh, barely audible. Loud enough to Untaaura in her own ear, which gave a surprised twitch. The Major could feel the corners of her mouth turning up, and she stowed that away just as quickly.

    Beck was looking at her now. Did she hear it? Did she see it? The possibilities were flying through her head, when she realized that Beck had said something that probably should be replied to about two seconds ago.

    "Ssorrrjy. Ah, good."

    The Major gave a curt nod, which hid a nervous swallow just in time. When she looked at Beck again, she was batten down once more.

    "Thank jyou, Beck."

    Damage report was coming in hot. It wasn't the corny names and the cub voice. Not really. It was definitely some of that, but the smell of her sweat mixed with the engine grease. The way that her glasses looked like they might fall off her nose if she leaned too far over the droid. Part of that mix was obvious, but the other was more of a memory than a smell. In that smell, she was 15 again and spending her academic break working in Kanrrauui's snowspeeder garage. That was a memory that shouldn't be sexy but now she was thinking about it because Beck was making her think about it and so it was.

    Suddenly, Untaaura felt like an Academy cadet once again, standing at attention before the barracks commandant, and waiting to be dismissed. Hopefully she would be soon, since Untaaura wasn't sure if she could hide from Beck's scrutiny.

  10. #10
    Goddess above and below, that man had a lot of pillows! I was not going to stick around and ask the dude why he had so many all over his office. It had taken a lot of negotiating to get this far with the Guild Master. It wasn't normal for a non-guildie like me to have the opportunity to drop off a bounty at a regional office but I had managed to sweet talk the old man into taking the body, and had given up a big percentage of the bounty for it. To say the Bounty Hunters guild didn't like me would be putting it lightly. Fook had spared no details when he told me what a glorious fuckup I was being. So I was taking my leftover credits and getting the fuck out of there before they changed their minds or I managed to screw things up and stick my foot in my mouth like I always do.

    Still, dropping off on Jovan might build some goodwill with the Guild. Probably not, but it couldn't hurt. Also meant I could stop in and see Beck while I'm on this giant spinning trashcan. I hadn't wandered far from the station in awhile. There was decent work to do out here. Sheegoth wasn't happy about it but the old dragon could sit in syrup for all I care. I didn't always get to stay the night or spend any significant time with her, but I chiseled what I could between jobs. Price of fuel these days was making my overhead a fucking nightmare and taking any time off was less gas in the tank.

    But hey, I have credits now, and I've never been a saver; and I wasn't going to start now. If Beck was free then we were going to hit one of those fancy-shmancy places on the top floor of the promenade. It was still a working day so I hadn't had a chance to change out of the armor, but it was shiny from a fresh coat of sealant and polish. I stomped my way down to her shop. If I'm wearing the armor then people are going to fucking hear me coming and going. Gotta build that rep. The door swished open and I stepped through with all of the almost six feet of shiny black armor plates and opaque mask that I know just screams badass and mysterious. Just what the ladies like.

    I stopped in my tracks for a second, frozen in place. There's Beck. Standing at the counter. It took a few seconds for me to notice the droid in her hands and the customer at the counter. Shit. Not a customer. Looked like a security officer. It was starting to look like a day of dealing with people who really don't like me. As far as security officers go, at least this one wasn't hard on the eyes. I'm really not into Cizeracks but I have to admit this one wasn't so bad looking from behind. I had a soft spot in my soul for short stacks. Not as much as mousy brunettes, but close. Shit, she's missing a chunk of her ear. No cosmetic surgery or prosthetic either. That's hardcore.

    Beck had looked up at me, and I waved back and moved along the counter to one of the empty service stations. Out of the way, but where I could get a better look at my big booty queen and her customer. The face matched the ear. Shit. I really want to ask how she got those scars, but she was talking to Beck and seemed really focused on the conversation. I'll keep it to myself for now, but I swear to the Goddess I will explode if I do not get the chance to ask. Thankfully I had mastered the art of nonchalantly leaning against things. I would look a lot cooler if I had all my blasters, grenades, and knives but nooooo I wasn't allowed to have those on the station. Goddess. These people have no idea how important the full kit is for completing this fashion choice. Walking around in battleworn armor was a lot less cool without a blaster at your side. Now I just look like a guy who's accident prone but really good at repairing his armor.

    Shit. I probably look like a chump.

  11. #11
    "Ok so," Tamera waved away the more boring particulars that she'd initially intended to talk about. The Major was already looking like she was about to go cross-eyed.

    It was the clomping footsteps that sealed the deal though, and Beck hurried into her end-bit spiel.

    "Yeah, it's just a ground, you know?"

    A furtive look to Abby, then back to the Major.

    "Gets 'em every time. I'll make sure the CAN device is properly rewired and your motivator isn't turned on its' head, yeah?"

  12. #12
    "jYeah-jyess." Untaaura corrected, as the sound of servomotors and heavy footfalls pricked at her good ear, causing her to pivot slightly to acknowledge the person in powered armor. She'd never crossed paths with this one, but the name had dropped on her desk enough times for Untaaura to clock him as Abaddon. A few fights, some property destruction, a couple of other petty violations. Not the worst of the scum, but also not someone she'd trust to stay within the lines.

    What was he doing here with Beck? A naturally investigative and pessimistic mind peered down every warren of ill possibility. Everything from installing black-market armor upgrades to armed robbery. Maybe they knew each other. Absolutely not. She could just tell about Beck, she was not the kind of woman who let scumbags darken her door.

    Pivoting from a mild dip into paranoia, Untaaura returned to Beck, not about to have some skug-licker interrupt her.

    "Sso, when jit'ss done, jyou'll brrjing jit to mjy sstatjion? Orr jI could gjive jyou mjy frrequencjy."

    Both of those options sounded like perfectly reasonable things to ask or suggest, but to Untaaura hearing her own voice they sounded suspect as fuck. Did she just invite Beck to her place and offer her comm digits? Untaaura bit the inside of her cheek, hoping a little bit of pain might steer her out of the drift.

  13. #13
    I couldn't help myself. I waved when the good little soldier girl looked over at me. Hey. It was just a wave. I wasn't asking her out or anything. She's not my type, remember? It was going to take some getting used to... whatever it was Beck and I are now. We never said anything about being exclusive but it felt rude to flirt with someone else right in front of her. But hey, Beck had to turn her back at some point, right? I mean, like to go get a part or find some paperwork? Maybe I'd find an opening in here somewhere. Gotta ask about those kickass scars. Beck would probably say it was rude. Oh damn, if she walks away I'm gonna want to be looking at that badonkadank.

    Fuck.

    My attention was immediately wandering around the shop. There was a nice picture of the team on the wall; a grouchy, old looking man with a bunch of ladies surrounding him with big smiles on their faces. I recognized the Herglic from when I came to the shop last time, and I knew the Codru-Ji from the holonet. I wondered if Beck really knew the four-armed engineer. Stuff I've read on the 'net would curl your toenails. I haven't done any Black Net jobs in a long time. Only when I've been really desperate for coin; but I look every once in awhile and there's quite a hefty sum on that girl's head on the Black Market. A tempting amount of credits. I'm crazy, but I'm not crazy enough to ever try to grab a bounty on Jovan fucking Station. This little cutie here would have me behind bars before I could say "Whoops Sorry, my bad."

    "For the right price she can gift wrap it, too..."

    Heh. I'm funny as shit.

  14. #14
    Making an admittedly funny looking face, Beck stared at Abby for a few seconds. And then a shake of her head as she smiled and returned her attentions to the Major.

    "I'll just ping your office comm," words spoken almost breezily as she turned the burned-out motivator over in her hand.

    "Give me a few hours and your little man will be right as Kaminoan rain."

    Internally however, Tamera couldn't even begin to understand the circumstances that she now found herself in. Stuck in the middle between two Cizeri women who wore their scars on the outside in magnificent fashion??? Who even had that sort of thing happen to them?!?!

  15. #15
    Trouble splashed cold water on the moment as Abaddon's synthetically-scrubbed voice piped up with a joke no one asked for. Untaaura heel-pivoted, her ear and stump angling slightly back.

    "jI wassn't asskjing jyou. jIf that wass a joke, jyou mjight want to jinsstall a new vox fjilterr. jIt ssoundss sstale."

    Before the Major could target lock, Beck's voice broke the tension as she replied back. Untaaura shifted her feet back.

    "Ssurre." The word seemed to come out different. It wasn't angular and clipped like her usual manner of speaking. It wasn't relaxed, but it wasn't the tone that had lashed Abaddon the moment before.

    "jI'll be wajitjing forr jyourr call, Beck."

    Abaddon aside, it was the best window for a tactical retreat that she had, and Untaaura took it and dusted off, but not before her shoulder made contact with Abaddon in a way that was probably not an accident.

    Once well outside of the repair depot and out of earshot, Untaaura deflated with a sigh and leaned against the bulkhead, letting the cool of the metal offset the sudden flush of the shaved back part of her head.

    "Sstupjid, sstupjid, sstupjid" she berated herself in a whisper before quickly putting herself back together again.

  16. #16
    Excuse. Me. What?

    I began running a diagnostic immediately. Sounded fine to me from in here, but the armor did take a beating on a regular basis. So it could be faulty. And then she ran into me on the way out the door, and everything clicked in my mind. She wasn't trying to drop some advice. She was being an asshole. Well, you better buckle up sugar tits. Two can play that game.

    Turning to Beck I pressed two gloved fingertips to the forehead region of my helmet and dragged them downward to my vision line. Angry eyebrows emote engaged. Turning aside I marched right up to that door before it could even close behind her, took the most heroic standing pose I could think of, and pointed at the retreating back of the security officer.

    "Oh yeah!? I like your scars you big, stupid butthole."

    She turned the corner and was gone, so I went back inside to Beck.

    "Showed her."

  17. #17
    Her jaw dropped as Abby turned back to her after delivering her scorching zinger, and Tamera finally set the motivator on the counter.

    "Abby," her voice dipped to a low tone as she put her hands on her hips. Her comm beeped, but she ignored it.

    "... you're not jealous, are you?"

  18. #18
    "Jealous, of that little goblin? Nah. I could take her in a fight for sure. Ninety percent sure."

    I definitely thought she was kind of cute in a short stack kind of way, but I was definitely one hundred percent not intimidated by her or felt that she was better than me in any way. Nothing to be jealous of. I can't for the life of me figure out what her deal was. She was just so rude and shit. I didn't do nothing to her. I've been on my best behavior. Better than I ever behaved in school, church, or family dinner. If she wasn't some hoighty toighty security officer that could get me permanently tossed off this trash can I would have followed her and given her a piece of my mind.

    Shit. I kind of want to fight her now.

    "What was her deal, anyway? Did you see her shoulder check me? Dumb idiot. She's gonna have a hell of a bruise." I gave my chest plate a solid knock-knock to prove it's toughness. Ain't nothing getting through this armor. Well, except for all those blaster shots that penetrated it and have since been patched up. You can barely see the damage!

  19. #19
    It was actually incredibly adorable, hearing that synthesized vox scrambler speak, when she was already imagining the answer in Ori's voice. Abby was Abby, she had come to realize rather quickly, but there were also times that the brunette couldn't help but see the woman beneath the armor no matter what.

    Now though, she was with Abby.

    "She was just here to get a mouse droid fixed. Nothing sinister, I promise."

    Moving closer, she couldn't help but further inspect the body armor, frowning here and there, as a finger traced along the pivot lines.

    "It's the Major, after all. Not anyone who's interested in anything but work and sour faces."

  20. #20
    "The Major, huh? Cool name. She needs to chill out."

    The Major sounded like the nickname of a man the size of a cliff with an attitude that could tear starships in half. Not that little cutie.

    "Pssh I'm not worried. I know you can handle yourself just fine. I bet you could take her in a fight. I've felt your muscles, you little beefcake."

    My sensors softly blipped to indicate tactile connection. I finally tore his eyes from the door and looked down to see Beck running her finger along the armor. That's right baby. I'm big and black and hard all over. My grabbers wasted no time reaching for her waist and pulling her closer.

    "Got any plans after work? I got paid today and I wanted to take you out to dinner."

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