Disclaimer : Star Wars is the property of LucasArts. HALO is the property of Microsoft Game Studios.
Rating : M for graphic violence, sexual references, and a soldier's usual language use.
Author's note : I forgot to give Kojak a last name. Whoops. And… uh… someone tell me if I'm keeping all the Jedi true to character. I have absolutely no idea how to write for about three of them.
arturus : Hopefully I'll be able to keep that up, I make no promises.
Drake-C13 : And I'm happy to see you again.
Anon : I'm going to guess your Anon, the reviewer system changed and I'm not totally sure about that. Correct me if I'm wrong. I've added in which class of frigate the Valiant in per your request for information. Your request for certain Jedi appearing worked out rather well for me, and some of the clones have already made an appearance I just couldn't use their names because they haven't been named yet. I'll keep Sir Issac Newton in mind as well. Um... you should also see Slink T. Ferret's answer below.
Slink T. Ferret : At this point, all I'm going to do is nod and smile. I'm still confused, but I'll take your and Anon's word for it. When I'm being obtuse about something factual, please just tell me like I'm someone stupid. I promise I won't get mad. I've got a kinda bad habit about that.
Ny'Kle : True. But, there is a lot of ammo on the Valiant. It was a transport ship for soldiers after all. There's an armory somewhere in the ship with enough ammo for at least a battalion of soldiers. In fact, that's where Fred-104 likes to hang out, but that's not very interesting.
Kane : The Xeno orders are a actual set of laws in the UNSC. They actually refer to the treatment of Xenoarchaelogical finds, such as the Forerunner artifacts. Cortana was stretching the truth a bit, but she likes the idea of keeping him for Ash-127 to amuse herself with. Repairs... uh, just the hull was in desperate need of repairs, the Captain flatly refused to my face to let aliens on board to repair anything else.
Godzilla2 : I'll try, but when the words are common like the rest of this chapter, I can't really see doing that. When Ash-127 and Jango get around to arguing again, I'll put a copy of the translations after what they said. On a brighter note, the only new Mando'a words are way at the end.
Matchstick800 : Thank you, I like where this is going too.
Alec McDowell : Jango's going to feature more in this story than in the movies, not that it would be hard seeing as at this point in the movies he's dead, but I really liked him too. It was the only point of the story that remained from my initial story board for this challenge. I've tied in your other question with Anon's, and that's answered in the chapter. Frigates were rather well used, but the Pillar of Autumn, if I'm recalling right, was an oddly built one.
Nianque : For the moment, we're still loosely following the movies. Loosely. Trust me, you'll know when the rails come off that track.
MEleeSmasher : Eventually, there will be more Jedi, and more Clones, appearing in the story. But for the moment, they're kinda moving slowly on me. We've got five to seven chapters of nothing but the war coming up soon.
Lieutenant Wills, using the guideline Cortana had pulled for him on starship docking procedures for Coruscant's orbital shipyard, carefully maneuvered the Valiant into position given to the Captain from Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. With less than a bump, the frigate set her bulk down on the mooring jetties so work crews could get around the hull for the repairs.
Looking back at the Captain, the pilot saluted as he set the ship to hold her position. "We're here, sir."
"Let's hope 'here' isn't a bad idea." Sully responded dryly, watching the blips of life on Staffer's screens encircle his ship to start fixing the temporary patch job holding the hull together.
Cortana just raised a digital eyebrow at the comment, locking down everything that was not essential to keeping the crew alive and the ship in place.
The dark skinned woman shrugged as if to covey the question of what other choice they had through the simple gesture. "We don't have the supplies to conduct the repairs ourselves, and we've overtasked the engineers we still have well beyond their limits, sir. If the Spartans hadn't conducted the bulk of the repairs they could when they woke, I highly doubt we would have made it this far under our own steam."
Ron sighed heavily, rubbing at his forehead with one hand. "Wills, you're on watch first, right?"
"Yes sir, with Kojak."
The Captain blinked, looking over to the pilot. "Does Kojak have a last name?"
"Sethi." The AI supplied, still concentrating on the proper procedure of shutting down nonessential parts of the frigate.
"Really?" Kailie asked, twisting around from watching the dockyard workers examine the ship to her fellow bridge crew. "Where is he from, anyways?"
Sully looked up the technician's file when all Victor could do was shrug and Cortana ignored the question as non-relevant. "Huh. Alright then, Wills, you have the bridge. Come on, Staffers, you have some down time due as well."
"I have the bridge, Captain." The pilot blinked as he responded to the change in control, then twisted around his swivel chair to look after his superior officer. "So where is he from?"
"Ask him yourself." Ron shot back before the automatic doors to the bridge slid closed.
Fred-104 was helping the engineers out with the droideka Cortana had hijacked from the Geonosians. With his extra strength it was simply easier to let the Spartan handle dismantling and putting the droid back together as Grall and Kujiki took careful notes on what went where and what operated what. Kojak was assisting when needed with replacing or removing wires, or when Fred simply needed an extra hand.
So the Spartan was a bit annoyed when the technician had to leave to watch the ship with Wills on the bridge, and the other two decided to stop for the rest of the shift with their third unavailable.
As he replaced the droid in the far corner it sat in when not being tinkered with, Cortana activated the intercom system to talk with him. "Why not continue on your own?"
"I don't understand half of what it's designed to do, and I'll probably break it if I tried." Fred responded shortly, setting the tools he had used where Lily could easily find them for cleaning later. "Without Grall or Kujiki here to tell me what goes where, I couldn't even begin to guess."
Cortana considered that, well aware that the Spartans needed something to do other than servicing their own equipment. After the fiftieth time, even that could become rather more mind numbing than the critical, careful systems check it should be.
Ash-127 had her Mando'a, which she was using to argue or talk with the two Mandalorians on the ship with some limited success, John-117 had his Spartans to worry over and the problem of getting them back to the UNSC, and Kelly was exploring the ship's mess since there wasn't a cook anymore. Fred was the only one that had not found something diverting to do yet, and the AI had hopes for his association with the three surviving engineers.
"There are programs on file about engineering, both from the UNSC, to be used as reference by the crew, and some I took from both Kamino and Geonosis, one-zero-four. If it would interest you to understand more of what you are currently doing, I can have them routed to the computer stations in the engineering decks for your use."
Fred paused, looking at the blue light on the far wall that indicated Cortana's presence. "How extensive are these files?"
"The ones from Kamino and Geonosis are rather extensive, and far more comprehensive than the ones this ship has, and I calculate that a normal human would need months if not at least half a year to read through them. Understanding them would be another matter."
The scarred Spartan straightened up and pinned the blue light with a stern look. "And what about one of us?"
Cortana smirked in the safety of the frigate's computer banks and baited the Spartan. "I calculate it would take you at least three months to make sense of the material."
Fred snorted at the obvious ploy the AI was trying, nettled at the dig even with knowing full well what she was trying to do. "Give them to me then." He figured it would make him feel less like an inept assistant to the engineers at the very least.
Heeding the demand, the digital entity uploaded the information she had stored in the Valiant's computer banks to the computer equipment in the bay the Spartan male was in. With Fred at least somewhat interested in something other than cleaning his rifle for the umpteenth time, Cortana searched out the other members of the frigate's crew while keeping her sensors on the repair crew patching the hull.
John was asleep for once and Ash was prowling around the lower decks again for some reason only known to her. Ron had retired to the Captain's cabin, and by the log reports from his computer terminal was updating his record of the day's events. Grall was back in the main engineering bay, checking over everything to ensure it wouldn't blow up anytime soon, and Kujiki was in the crew women's washroom, obviously preparing to get some rest herself. Leaving Kelly in the mess, and Staffers about to meet up with the Spartan scout.
087 was still poking around the kitchen area, examining some of the cookware curiously and checking the amount of foodstuff the ship still had that wasn't foreign to her when the navigational officer let herself into the mess. The darker skinned woman blinked at the sight of the taller brunette who had jerked stiffly upright at the sound of the doors opening.
"Oh!" Kailie peered at the other woman; sure it was one of the two female Spartans on the ship and hoping desperately she was guessing which one it was correctly, since she hadn't seen either of them out of their armor enough to notice any physical differences. She wasn't sure if there was some Spartan/Navel procedure to what would happen if she called the Spartan by the wrong number. "Umm… zero-eight-seven? Are you hungry?"
Staffers hesitated; a bit nonplussed on how to tell the other woman she was in the way. "Well, I was going to make something. Are you sure you don't want any?"
The scout looked around the kitchen area she was in. "I can make you something, ma'am, if you'd rather."
"You can cook?" The navigator blessed her dark skin when she flushed after blurting out the rather rude question and the amused look she received from blue eyes. "I mean, um… sure?"
"I actually learned from the Master Chief, ma'am." Kelly's lips actually quirked a small bit, taking some pans down from where they had been secured to the walls and double checking that she had the ingredients she thought she had.
"One-one-seven can cook?" Kailie took a seat where she could watch the Spartan move about the kitchen and see what it was she intended to make. "Can all of you?"
"Oh, no ma'am. One-two-seven is rather hopeless at it, although she can just about eat anything without getting sick from it. One-zero-four can grill, but he can't make anything else edible."
Since it seemed the soldier was putting together an omelet, Staffers started watching the Spartan instead of what she was doing. "How did you learn?"
"Survival training." Kelly deftly put the omelet on a plate; collected some utensils with her other hand, and took it over to the Petty Officer. "You learn real quick how to not burn what you're going to eat that way, or to let the others that can't cook take KP duties the day they're supposed to."
"Sit. You can call me Staffers, you know. Or Kailie." The dark skinned woman took a careful bite, as it was still hot, and slid a sly glance over to the Spartan that had gingerly sat across from her. "You were the one cooking those casseroles on the way here, weren't you?"
"Uh… yes ma'am." Kelly actually acquired a bit of a blush under the navigator's scrutiny. "Should I not have?"
"Oh hell no. Keep it up, please. I can't even begin to guess the time you saved me."
Confident that all of the crewmembers of the Valiant were either usefully engaged in something or resting, Cortana returned the core of her attention to the repair crews working on the frigate's hull.
Obi-Wan smirked at Anakin's expression when the younger Jedi caught sight of the Valiant's outer hull. "Looks rather bad, doesn't it?"
"That's… one way of putting it, Master." Skywalker winced in sympathy when one of the temporary patches done to the inside of the ship was removed and the full extent of the gash was revealed. "What were they fighting against?"
"They called them the Covenant, but anything else about that I do not know."
As the lift they were on came to a stop, the younger Jedi cast a guarded look to his old master. "You don't seem to know very much about them, Obi-Wan."
"Well, since for all they knew I was some traveling vagabond telling them tall tales, I think I learned a great deal." Kenobi replied philosophically, taking the marked tunnel that lead to the frigate's assigned docking moor.
Anakin rolled his eyes, but had to grin fondly over his Master's way of looking at things.
There was some confusion as to why there were two Jedi on the docks, but Obi-Wan got the both of them through with little trouble. Gaining access to the Valiant was even easier; since Cortana had probably watched the both of them walk up to the moorings of the frigate and opened up a path for them.
"Now, there is something you should know, Anakin, about the residents of this ship."
"One of the Spartans, one-two-seven, likes to-"
"Su cuy'gar, Jetii."
Kenobi stiffened, and turned to the red head standing down another hallway. "Likes to sneak up on you if she can."
"I'm still waiting on that bell, Master Kenobi." Ash grinned at both of them, not missing the younger Jedi's motion to grab his lighsaber's hilt and mentally tallying him as someone to surprise when standing far enough away that she'd have the time to dodge if needed.
"Yes, well. That is one oversight I should correct." The Jedi Knight gave the saboteur a less than amused look for her little stunt. "Skywalker, this is one-two-seven, their saboteur. She was the one that did the damage to Geonosis' droid production factories and starship part factories."
Anakin's eyebrows rose up, glancing from the Spartan's gray eyes to his Master's blue-gray ones. "Alone?"
"I had Cortana to help, but that still counts as mostly alone, so yeah." Ash shrugged, dismissing the mission. "Not the worst task I've ever been assigned."
"All I did was reprogram a few things, you're the one that wanted to play with the explosive chemicals, one-two-seven." Cortana's amused voice drifted to them from an intercom on the deck's walls before she greeted the two Jedi. "Master Kenobi, Master Skywalker. Can I ask what brings you to the ship?"
"I have a request from the Jedi Council that I need to discuss with both Captain Sully and the Master Chief, Cortana." The Jedi Knight answered her. "I can wait if need be."
"You're in luck, Obi-Wan. Both requested members of the crew are on the bridge. You will need to take the auxiliary route up, but one-two-seven can guide you."
The numbered Spartan crooked her finger in their direction and started walking deeper into the ship.
The older Jedi followed along, used to the look of the frigate's decks, but Anakin looked around curiously. "Where are you keeping the Fetts?"
"Two decks up. They've been restricted to that one until we figure out what to do with them." Ash answered as she pried open one of the doors along the wall. "You've got a bit of a climb, but this will avoid the decks that are opened to space at the moment."
"Thank you, one-two-seven."
The Spartan saboteur saluted the both of them before wandering off back to what she had been doing.
Since there were about twenty decks to the frigate, and they had arrived on the fifteenth, it wasn't as bad of a climb as some of the missions both Jedi had conducted for the Council before. That, and as Jedi they kept themselves in good physical condition, so neither man was out of breath by the time they reached the top deck where the bridge was.
Now orientated as to where he was, Obi-Wan led his companion to the ship's main control center.
Both an unarmored Master Chief and the Captain of the ship looked to him when he entered; neither surprised at their entrance for Cortana had alerted them to their visitors.
"Master Kenobi," greeted Sully, putting down the data pad he was holding on the different fuels available and their chemical makeup, "what brings you back?"
'The Council has a request for you, Captain."
"The Republic does not wish to start a war, but we also need to investigate the Separatists' actions. Using one of our own warships to do so would simply be painting a target on our backs, so the Council wishes to know if we can hire you and your ship for the purpose of investigating."
Ron leaned back in his chair, glancing to the stoic form of the Master Chief. They hadn't told the Jedi what the real purpose of the ship was actually for, other than ferrying troops from point A to point B. But the Valiant, which was a Paris-class heavy frigate, was normally intended to shore up the gaps in ship-to-ship battles, boasting both heavier armor plating and larger point defense guns. "I don't have the crew to support anything long term, Obi-Wan."
"I gave the same fact to the Council, and they suggested taking on a crew of clones for the time we would require your services."
Ron glanced over to the Master Chief again; John just shrugged to say he had no objections to that plan of action, and then looked to the pad of fuel comparisons he had been struggling through. "We need deuterium to fuel the ship, but if you can find it, the Valiant is at your disposal, Jedi."
Obi-Wan blinked, not having expected the easy compliance given that they had just figured out they were not where they were supposed to be. "Ah… deuterium?"
"A stable hydrogen isotope." The AI supplied when the Captain had to dig through his notes to find out. "How many Jedi does your Council intend to send along?"
"One of the Masters from the Temple, a few other Knights, Anakin, and myself, Cortana."
"Repairs are calculated out to take at the very least another standard Corruscant day, if you can handle the resupply we will be ready to depart at the local sunset, Obi-Wan. Where is our first destination?"
"Well, after Kamino it would be Geonosis. Master Unduli has decided that Count Dooku would be a viable source of information, willingly or not."
Ron shot a look to the male Spartan that had been helping him figure out what to use in the ship's repairs. "Master Chief?"
"I'll alert the others, sir." The nearly seven foot tall Spartan got up, stacking what he had been working on in a neat pile, and nodded to the two Jedi as he left the Bridge.
Although Skywalker moved to follow the Spartan out, Kenobi hesitated and looked to the Captain with a question. "I was expecting more resistance to any suggestion, given the recent news you just found out."
Sully snorted, turning his attention back to figuring out what was going where in the repairs, but Cortana smiled and answered him. "As the Master Chief has stated, the first duty of any stranded UNSC soldier is to survive and find a way back to the main unit. We cannot survive without some type of income, and since the Jedi Temple and your Masters have assisted us, we shall assist you while figuring it out."
Obi-Wan bowed to the two and led Anakin out of the bridge. "Now, where to find a stable hydrogen isotope?"
"The Kerdos Company's recycling plant? They might be able to make some for us."
Palpatine looked over the repair estimation the space dock had sent him, looking for any information about the ship or the crew he could use. He had paid extra for one of the workers to note down everything he could when within the ship, but the report was still frustratingly vague.
They had refused any internal repairs beyond fixing the decks that had been damaged, or to let any technicians board the ship to inspect the hyper core or any related systems, and the one time his informant had managed to sneak away into the ship he had been politely but firmly redirected by both an AI and a red headed human of the crew.
Even if he hadn't gotten much on the internals of the so called frigate, he did have a comprehensive look at what the ship mounted in weaponry and armor. Two feet of medium grade armor plating, some of which had been gouged out by some kind of battle and was the reason the ship required repair, forty missile pods, twelve turrets, two larger turrets situated on both the forward and rear sections of the ship, and some kind of cannon built down the length of the frigate, opening up at the very tip of the ship.
He couldn't even begin to guess what it was all intended for, or how it became so damaged in the first place, but it probably had enough firepower to take on much larger ships and destroy them. But he did managed to ensure he would know where the ship would be at any given time, considering that he couldn't rely on the usual methods for where the strange ship appeared.
His attempt to keep Jango Fett from assisting the crew or the Jedi had failed even before it could begin, when he couldn't locate the cloned child Boba Fett and take him into custody. Looking over the security cams' feeds later the other day he had located the fourth Spartan, the ice blue one, taking the cloned child another direction when he had approached them. How she knew he had another purpose to meeting up them with he couldn't even begin to guess, but he decided she was the most annoying out of the four armored figures so far.
Figuring his Sith apprentice would at least deserve a warning of what the Jedi were intending to do, he contacted Darth Tyranus and sent him the information he had on the four 'Spartans' and the heavily armed ship the Jedi Council was sending his way, again.
Since Cortana was correct in her estimation of when repairs were due to be complete, the other Jedi that followed Kenobi and Skywalker to the ship the next evening had a much more complete fist look at the frigate than the other two.
Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, the overseeing Master for the Council's investigation, took in her first look of the formidable ship with a frown. "It is very… strong looking."
Her old Padawan Barriss Offee, who had volunteered in her capacity of Jedi Healer to the likely long term mission, looked to where her fellow Mirialan was staring. "This is the Valiant? I was expecting something smaller when you said frigate, Obi-Wan."
"I haven't quite gotten to find out what the ship was intended for, but she is obviously a type of warship." Obi-Wan backtracked a bit to where the Master and Knight were standing to see what they saw.
Without the patched up scores down the hull, and a fresh coat of paint covering the repaired sections of the ship, the Valiant cut an impressive figure against the backlights of the jetties, even if the Jedi Knight knew it was mostly empty inside without the original crew present.
Anakin had stated he thought the ship looked like it was built around something when the two of them left the previous day, and with the new angle to look at, it did almost look like a geometric blaster rifle suspended in space. Painted gray instead of left with bare metal, there were a number of weapons that bristled down the length of the ship, and four massive guns mounted fore and aft that none of the Jedi standing with him wanted to see in action.
The rest of their number, the Knights Aayla Secura and Kento Marek, waited politely for the Jedi Consular to stop examining their transportation.
"Now then, as I've warned Skywalker, a few of the residents are a little…"
"Strange?" Anakin spoke up when his old master seemed to hesitate for a polite word to use.
Kenobi gave his old apprentice a sideways look. "Strange." He agreed wryly, leading the rest of the way when Unduli motioned for him to continue. "Four of them only respond to a series of three numbers, although one-one-seven will also answer to the title of 'Master Chief'. You will not need to worry about remembering who's number is who's, they are rather... easy to tell apart after a while."
"Numbers? Why in the Force would they choose to use numbers?" Barriss asked as the group entered the ship through a hatch docked to the jetty.
"That is how they were addressed since the approximate age of five." Cortana supplied, closing the docking hatch behind them once the last Jedi had made it through. "They are used to it. Welcome to the Valiant, Jedi. I am Cortana, the Master Chief's AI."
Obi-Wan introduced his fellow Jedi as he took them to the main lift, tacking on a question once he was done. "Where is-?"
The lift doors opened before he could finish his question, and Ash smirked at him from within. "Is one-two-seven? Why, right here, Master Kenobi. Can't you see me?"
The Jedi Knight pointed a finger in her face, a smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. "I have that bell, somewhere."
"And I look forward to you trying to attach it." The saboteur shot back, hitting the button for the eleventh deck once all the robed people, and the blue skinned alien woman in leather, had gotten on with her, ignoring the stares. "This was originally intended for the officers of the troops assigned to the ship, but since we don't have any it's been cleared for your use. I'm two decks down with the Fetts; the other Spartans are on the deck between us, the mess is on the fifth, engineering on seventh, the bridge is up top, and if you go straight down it's the hangar."
Obi-Wan stayed with the Spartan as the other Jedi split up to either explore the deck they would be living on or to find a quiet place to meditate. "Same layout as the others?"
"Not quite. There's a meeting room in the middle of the deck, one-one-seven thought you might have need of it." Ash tilted her head as her ears picked up the faint sound of the thrusters starting to warm up. "We've got about an hour before we leave the docks, so I'd suggest you settle in for now."
Kenobi gave her a short bow before walking off to join his fellow Jedi.
127 then hit the button for the deck she had been moved to. She had another task to do that day.
Boba greeted her happily enough, but the older Fett tried to ignore her when she wandered into the gym that level had for the troops the ship transported. Ash figured he was still a bit sore about her below the belt hit in their last argument, and proceeded to do what she normally did when she actually managed to hurt someone's feelings. She ignored that he was ignoring her.
"I've got some good news, some interesting news, and some bad news. What do you two want first?"
The ten year old cloned child looked up at his father, who had been playing with the weights in a bored manner. Jango figured she wasn't going away without an answer, and gave a short reply to hasten her departure. "Surprise me."
"We're on our way back to Kamino, to pick up a crew out of the clones you trained for an investigation the Jedi Council wants done." That had the Mandalorian's attention squarely on the red head, who arched an eyebrow at his sudden shift of focus. "There's also a small number of Jetti on the ship, two decks up. And… if you really want to be dumped on Kamino again, the Captain's all for it since we're on the way there."
The bounty hunter straightened up and glared at the woman. "What was the bad news?"
"If you leave the ship on Kamino, you're not coming with us to see how your soldiers do in any combat situations we get into."
Jango rocked back on his heels, giving the verd a searching look. That was one hell of a piece of bait to dangle in front of him, since it was the validation of ten years of his life's work she was referring to.
Giving his son another look, he pressed his lips together and thought hard. He was well aware the woman across from him had taken to teaching Boba a few of her own skills, probably out of boredom. Another of them, the scarred one, had started teaching the young clone the proper way to hold an older type rifle when the two of them made their way to the frigate's mock firing range.
He was all for multiple teachers for the proper development of skills, that was why he had formed the Cuy'val Dar in the first place. What worked for one may not work for another, after all was said and done.
"Fine. It seems we're going to be staying a while longer." He rolled his eyes at Boba's cheer and frowned over at the verd. "Can I get my armor back, at the very least?"
Ash smirked at him as she turned around to leave. "I'll see what I can do. No promises."
Since some of the Jedi had not worked together before, other than the Masters and their ex-Padawans, Master Unduli gathered them in the meeting room Obi-Wan directed them into for a pre mission briefing after the frigate left the space dock and started its way out of the planet's star system. It was starkly furnished, just like the rest of the deck they were on, but that did not bother any of the Jedi Knights with her.
She addressed them all with her hands folded into her dark robes and a frown on her tattooed face. "We have been directed by the Council to investigate the military buildup of the Separatists, with the assistance and support of the crew of this ship and a number of the clones that Jango Fett has trained for us. We will go to Geonosis after picking up the rest of the crew, and begin our investigation there by seeking out the ex-Jedi Master known now as Count Dooku."
"Are all of us really necessary, Master?" Aayla asked, gesturing to her fellow Knights. "I understand sending a Master to seek out information, but why so many in addition?"
The Mirialan turned to Kenobi to answer the Twi'lek's question. "In my investigation of the assassin sent after Senator Amidala, I reached Geonosis with the Spartans only to note the large number of Confederate ships in system. One-two-seven went with me to the surface, and we found several droid production facilities operating at full capacity as well as a number of starship part factories."
"And then she destroyed them." Anakin added wryly to his old master's report, causing Marek to try and hide a smirk.
"The Council believes the Separatists are nearly ready to begin open warfare against the Republic. We are being sent to try and sooth the turmoil so less of the galaxy will become embroiled in the actions of a few warmongers as well as to try to defuse the situation before open warfare is declared." Luminara then turned to the Jedi Knight more familiar with the ship than any of the others. "I heard some manner of sabotage was involved in your last mission, but I did not get to hear the full report."
Obi-Wan nodded to the unspoken question, and he raised his voice to address the AI he was sure was listening in. "Cortana? Can I have the files on the Geonosis mission?"
"Of course, Master Kenobi. To which part are you referring to?"
"The initial approach to the Stalgasin hive, as well as one-two-seven's targets on the planet's surface."
Cortana displayed the requested information using the meeting room's tactical display, with images taken from 127's helmet and the approximate locations the saboteur had visited before leaving the second time.
"Anything else, Obi-Wan?"
"No, thank you Cortana."
"One of them did all that?" Barriss asked; the healer in her appalled over the number dead in the wake of the saboteur's actions.
"They are very competent soldiers. I would advise you not to ask something of them lightly." Kenobi sated, looking over the same information the other Knight was. "But that was on the Council's request, to buy us the time to try and complete this mission."
"I was aware of that, Barriss. I was part of the Council that asked this of them." Luminara told her old Padawan, calming the younger Mirialan in her concerns. "Although the loss of life was regrettable, we did request speed over care and must live with the consequences."
Neither Skywalker nor Kento seemed too upset over the destruction's' toll on the population, but the Jedi Master figured that was because the both of them were Guardians and more prone to using strong arm solutions in facing problems, rather than being dismissive over the loss of life.
Looking around the table at the five Jedi Knights with her, Unduli laced her fingers together within her dark robes. "We will reach Geonosis within two weeks, and we must be careful to not spark any conflict early during this mission. The Republic is counting on us."
"Ah," reminded of another issue, Obi-Wan addressed both his fellow Jedi and the AI listening in, "their method of travel is a little harsh on those sensitive to the Force. Cortana, a warning before your slipspace jump, please?"
After the rather jarring jump to slipspace, Barriss left her quarters to explore more of the ship the Jedi had hired to escort them. The empty halls were unnerving, as it seemed the frigate was intended to support a number of crew other than what was required to support its operation.
Picking another deck at random, the Mirialan followed the faint humming sounds she could hear on that deck to a larger than normal door.
There was four individuals within, taking apart the lower chassis of a droideka and examining the three legs it stood on before the engines, which had caught her attention. Her entrance attracted the other's attention, and all four of them looked over to her.
"Um… hello?" The smallest of their number greeted a little awkwardly, straightening up from the disassembled battle droid and smiling weakly. "You're one of the Jedi we acquired recently, right?"
The Jedi Knight inclined her cowled head to her. "I am Barriss Offee, miss."
Her smile turned a touch more welcoming and the other three went back to what they were doing, leaving it to the smaller woman to introduce them. "I'm Lily Kujiki. The bear of a man behind me is Jordan Grall, the other is Kojak Sethi. And the Spartan helping us out is one-zero-four."
Once named, each of them looked over to the Jedi and nodded to her, but the scarred Spartan just cut his eyes over to her for a moment, and then turned back to what he was doing.
Interested now that she knew one of the Spartans was there, the Jedi took a seat to watch them work.
Lily just shrugged at her action and went back to arguing with Kojak about the droid's method of conveyance. "I think it needs another leg. How in the world would it get up a flight of stairs?"
"As a wheel, I would think." The technician pointed to the severed part of the droid they weren't working on, the part that had the sensors and the blasters. "If it got enough momentum it could probably jump whatever was in its way."
"And on unlevel ground or tight spaces?" Kujiki asked tartly, taking one of the legs the Spartan passed on to her and looking it over to see what would be needed to make a new one.
Sethi opened his mouth to protest, paused, and then frowned after he could find nothing to argue with her. "Well… damn. Why build it this way then?"
"The Colicoids built those droids in their own image, but they have a fourth leg they stand on as well." Barriss offered from her spot to the question.
Grall looked from the Spartan's work to her in confusion. "What are they then, bugs?"
"I do believe the proper term would then be insectoid, sir." Lily scolded as she manipulated the leg given to her.
The Chief Engineer rolled his eyes at her and continued planning out how they were going to attach a fourth leg. "Would still explain why there are so many freaking problems with the design."
"That would just mean it works for these Colicoids fine as is, just not as well as everyone else, sir." 104 offered as he and Kojak finished detaching the upper chassis from the lower mobility unit, raising a dark eyebrow at the insides of the part they had just removed and turning to the Jedi Knight watching them. "Are these Colicoids also thinking with their rears?"
Since he tilted the part so she could see, the Mirialan could only shrug. "I do not know, they have a head like any other sentient creature I've ever seen, so I thought they had a similar location for their brain as any other creature."
"That really doesn't mean much." Grall mused thoughtfully, looking at the same computing core as the Jedi. "You can take off the head of a cockroach and the damned thing will still run around for a while."
"You can do the same thing with a chicken, but that doesn't mean you didn't take the brain out with the rest of the head." Sethi argued, still inspecting the attachments from the unit he and the Spartan had uncovered to the rest of the unit.
Lily looked up from her measurement taking to the others in the bay. "Didn't the old Brontosauruses have a second brain in the tail section?"
"The genus of dinosaur you're looking for is Apatosaurus, and no. That idea was discarded in the late twenty first century by paleontologists, Miss Kujiki." Cortana informed them all from the speaker on the wall.
104 blinked at the tiny engineer, who huffed at his patiently amused look and hefted the droid leg given to her to copy. "I'm well aware that was way off topic, leave me alone." She stuck her nose in the air and left the bay for the machinist's corner in the next one, where any needed fabrication took place.
Offee also got up to leave, assuming that the engineers were done with what they had to do. Her movement caught the eye of the soldier helping them out, and he offered to show her more of the ship so she could navigate around better.
Obi-Wan Kenobi showed the Jedi Master Luminara Unduli to the bridge to meet with the Captain of the ship. He introduced the Mirialan woman to both the bridge crew and the Master Chief, who was again standing by at the AI interface where Cortana's cube was housed. "Master Unduli, this is Captain Ronald Sully, the pilot Victor Will, the navigator Kailie Staffers, and the Master Chief."
The Captain took one good look at the blue eyed, yellowish green skinned black robed woman with the tattoos over her chin and suppressed the initial question that rose to mind with the image she presented. "We'll be at Kamino before the end of the week, ma'am."
"Why are you dressed like a nun?" Apparently, Victor didn't quite have the Captain's sense of tactful topics.
"All Mirialans dress like this, for our home world is far colder than normal." Luminara looked down at her elaborate, for a Jedi, robes, then back up to the pilot in confusion. "What is a nun?"
Kailie turned around and glared at Wills, answering the question only when the pilot ducked his head and went back to what he had been doing. "A type of religious woman who has taken vows for a purpose. Either chastity, poverty, or to meditate on their religious views. They're best known for wearing a cowl similar to yours and a floor length black dress."
"I took my vows at the Temple, but the Jedi only practice the Force not religion, unless the individual wishes to continue whatever practice their race has."
"Oh." Staffers blinked, surprised. "Well… then I guess you could be called a nun... in a very loose sense of the word."
Cortana activated her avatar to join in the conversation, grinning broadly at the organic crew. "Wouldn't that make Master Kenobi a monk?"
"Right." John tapped the display that was showing Cortana's digital form. "Let's go before this gets any stranger."
Obi-Wan raised a sleeve to hide his grin until he could control his impulse to smile at the Master Chief's disinclination to continue the conversation, moving out of the way so the unarmored soldier could leave with Cortana's cube.
Ron rolled his eyes at the Spartan's manners, turning back to the pilot now that human interaction was required to steer the ship. "Wills?"
"Cortana's got us on course, sir. There's really little more to be done, except to keep an eye on the ship's trajectory and pull us out of slipspace once we're there." Wills turned around to the others on the bridge with a grin pulling the corners of his lips up. "So, about that nun thing…"
"Don't even." Kailie pointed a finger in his face, scowling. "There's not enough liquor on this ship to get even one of us through that discussion."
"There had better not be any liquor on this ship." Sully stated forcefully to the both of them, frowning himself at the current topic.
Staffers nodded firmly as she pushed herself up from her station. "My point exactly, sir."
The Captain rolled his eyes again as he got up as well. "You have the bridge, Wills."
"I have the bridge, Captain."
"Master Kenobi, Master Jedi, a moment if you will."
Surprised, the robed man nodded to the commanding officer of the frigate. Ron motioned for both of the Jedi to follow him and his Petty Officer out of the bridge, and he waved the darker skinned woman on when she asked if she could get them anything from the mess.
The older man lead the two of them to his ready room, the office attached to the Captain's quarters. "I have a question about the clones we're going to take on."
"Do you have concerns about their capability to run a ship this size?" The male Jedi asked as he took one of the seats the Captain waved them both to.
Unduli tucked her slim hands into her dark sleeves and furrowed her brow. "Isn't it a bit late to have reservations about taking on the clones as crew?"
"I have no reservations. The Spartans have been exceptional in helping us keep the ship running, and I have no doubt they can get whatever clones we get up to speed on how things work on board." Ron shook his head at her. "The issue I have is one of conflicting orders. By law, I'm not to share technology the UNSC has declared classified to anything not validated by command as at least an asset. However, I can't get orders clarified or cut from high at the moment; if I could we wouldn't be having this particular problem with the missing crew."
Kenobi put all of his diplomatic training to use trying to find a way for the man across the desk from him to avoid violating some of his government's laws. "Could you not just keep running the ship with the crew you have, and use what clones you need for minor tasks?"
"Not really. We're already stretched rather thin at the moment. I'm already running the engineering crew ragged in keeping the slipspace drives running as long as I have. Spartan one-zero-four's been a blessing in disguise, because he's been pitching in every now and again when needed. And with Cortana on board, there really isn't a need for a crew, but she's attached to the Master Chief's field equipment and won't always be available to shore up the gaps in personnel."
"What are the consequences of violating your law?" Luminara asked, for she could see no way for the Captain to both uphold his law and keep the ship running if he was already straining his crew.
"Since we are, or were if it's all over now, at war, it could be a capital offense." Sully grinned grimly at the two alarmed Jedi he had before him. "Given the circumstances though, I would say the worst I could get if the death penalty isn't what command goes for would be a court martial, the best would be if some General understood the only other option would be to abandon the Valiant, and any possible way to get home, and just gives me a slap on the wrist."
Shaking his head, the Jedi Knight refocused on the other man's question and not his probable fate. "What was your question, Captain?"
"Given that I'm going to get in trouble either way, the clones I'm going to have to get trained in the more sensitive equipment on board, could I keep them?"
The Jedi Master blinked at the change of topic. "I'm sorry, what do you mean by keep them?"
"I mean keep them on board even after your mission is done." Ron put his folded hands on his desk, staring at the two Jedi intently. "It'll only mitigate some the damage I have to do, but if I still have the additional personnel, or at least can honestly report their demise to my superiors, I might get out of the worst of it."
Unduli nodded gravely to his request. "Given what you are risking to aid us, that is the very least of what we can do. I'll inform the other Masters of this, they will see to it you will not get in more trouble than you wish to."
"Then that's all I had for you two. It's going to be a rather boring week, so try to amuse yourselves."
Obi-Wan nodded to him and got up to leave, but the Mirialan held up one hand to prevent the military man from leaving just yet. "If I may, Captain. Where are the Spartans now?"
Ron rubbed one hand over his shaved chin as he gave the question some thought. "Given that one-one-seven took Cortana with him, I'd guess he and zero-eight-seven are in the hanger doing checks on the ships stored there. One-two-seven usually keeps to the lower decks where the Fetts are, and one-zero-four is usually with the engineers if he isn't obsessively maintaining his equipment again."
Luminara inclined her head to him in thanks as she got up to join her fellow Jedi in leaving the Captain's Quarters.
Sully watched them leave, remarking to himself once the two of them were safely far enough away, "Damnably odd people."
As the Captain had guessed, Kelly was in the hangar waiting on Cortana and the Master Chief to help her with the system checks on the Pelicans and Longswords stored there. She had started the first one, the Pelican they had used in the Jedi Knight's mission to Kamino and Geonosis' surface, by the time the hanger's lift doors opened again.
Checking to see who it was; she was a little surprised to see one of the Jedi they had picked up recently wandering in the direction of R-4 and Kenobi's star fighter. Unsure if she should stop him or not, not knowing what Obi-Wan would want in this event, Kelly hesitated long enough for the Jedi to notice her in the rear hatch of the Pelican.
Anakin looked sharply to his left when he became aware that someone was looking at him, catching sight of the tall brunette woman standing in the opened section of one of the oddly built ships. "Oh… uh… hi?"
The Spartan frowned at him curiously, not really seeming annoyed at the interruption. "What are you doing?"
"I'm going to see Arfour and see if she needs any repairs done." The Jedi took in the ship the woman was in, from the geometric design to the stubby wings. "What are you doing?"
"Running diagnostics." Since the man knew the name of the Jedi Knight's droid, the Spartan assumed he was allowed to do so and went back to what she had been doing, checking the levels of fluid in the Pelican's engines.
Skywalker looked from the ship the obviously a Spartan woman was working on to his Master's star fighter. R-4 was a known element; the other ship was new to him and a bit exotic looking. "Do you need any help?"
Kelly raised a dark eyebrow in his direction, studying the Jedi Knight standing in the open hatch of the Pelican. "It'll be tedious. There are a lot of Pelicans to service."
"I'm used to it. I keep both Master Obi-Wan's and my own star fighters in good repair."
The Spartan rolled her eyes, but motioned for the younger man to enter the drop ship. "Fine. Come here and see how this is done."
Anakin moved to where he could see what she was doing leaning slightly over her shoulder to get a good view. That was how the Master Chief found them, and instead of interrupting he just continued on to the next ship down the line so Cortana could get the diagnostic data out of it.
Since they really didn't have anywhere to be like the others, Aayla Secura and Kento Marek opted to wander around the lower decks. The Twi'lek was in the lead, since it had been her idea to explore.
Rounding a corner, the two Jedi came to a halt when they found an older male with what looked like his son walking down the same corridor.
Jango scowled at the two of them, correctly identifying them and why they were down there. "Perfect. Usenye Jetti."
Marek stiffened at the insult and glared at the older man. "Excuse you?"
"You heard me." The bounty hunter sneered back, irritable since he couldn't find one annoying red headed woman about the issue of his armor. "Usenye. I've got better things to do than waste time with you."
Aayla pressed back against the Jedi Knight behind her, forcibly reminding him that there were others about. "We do not mean to disturb you, we were only passing through. Let's go Marek."
The older Fett rolled his eyes at the Rutian Twi'lek and curled his lip in the younger man's direction as the two of them passed him. "Di'kut."
Kento whirled around to face the Mandalorian, but he and the older man was pushed back against the wall by light blue armored hands.
"Jango, stop trying to pick a fight." The slightly muffled voice of the woman made the bounty hunter stiffen and glare at the armored woman.
Boba, who had been resigned to his father irritating the Jetti into something he could vent his frustration on, perked up at the sight of the Spartan. "One-two-seven, why are you in armor?"
Ash released the Jedi Knight and removed her helmet so she could grin down at the younger Fett. "Had to go outside for a bit and check something over. What are you and your father doing?"
The young clone answered her before his father could stop him. "Looking for you. Are you free right now?"
"I will be in a bit." The saboteur ruffled the clone's curly hair, pinning the two Jedi with a stern look. "I'm not all too sure how you got on this deck, but you're not supposed to be here, for obvious reasons. We don't like letting him out for social occasions."
"I can see that." Secura masterfully hid her smirk and grabbed her fellow Jedi's arm. "We'll be going now."
Ash cheerfully waved as the two of them disappeared back down the hall that lead to the lifts, giving Jango an exasperated look once they were gone. "You know, if you can't behave yourself, the Captain's never going to trust you armored, much less armed."
Ignoring the slight reprimand, even if she was right, the Mandalorian crossed his arms and glared straight at her. "Where have you been?"
"Here and there." The saboteur shrugged as she started walking down to her quarters, stripping off her armored gloves as she walked.
Boba followed his favorite verd on the ship without question, and Jango had to follow just to keep an eye on his son, who was asking the Spartan questions. "What were you doing outside? Isn't it impossible to be outside the ship and travel like this at the same time?"
"Yes, but Cortana knew where I was, so I was in no real danger." Ash tossed her gloves on her berth, raising one boot on the edge of the cot so she could take off her greaves. "And I got back inside before she took us into slipspace."
"What were you looking for?" The bounty hunter demanded behind her, having turned his back when it became apparent the verd was stripping out of her armor.
127 turned her head to answer him, pausing when his position and the reason for it became apparent. "I've got my under suit on, Jango. And I don't know, you tell me."
She placed something on his shoulder before unlatching her chest plates, and the Mandalorian reached up a hand to see what it was.
Turning around, the older man rolled the device around his fingers. "It's a tracking chip."
"That's what Cortana thought it was when she sent me out." Stripping off the last pieces of her armor, the Spartan secured it so Boba wouldn't play with the systems that might pulverize his bones. She turned around and took the device from the Mandalorian. "So then, for the million credit question. Who put it there?"
"The dockworkers, the Jetti, some official attached to the space docks, any mercenary group that may know of you, and that's just off the top of my head." Jango frowned as the woman shook her red head at him. "What?"
"Very few people knew we were on Coruscant, or even who we are. The High Chancellor, the Jedi Council, a few other Jedi Masters and Knights, and maybe a handful more than that depending on how much the Jedi and the High Chancellor tend to talk. The dock workers weren't allowed on board, so they wouldn't know who we are…"
"So someone's being naughty?" Boba asked of her when the Spartan trailed off while looking at the transmitter.
Ash tossed the small device up in the air and caught it squarely in her palm. "Apparently. Excuse me, boys. I have to go talk to the Master Chief and the Captain." She interjected another comment before the Mandalorian could ask. "I'll ask about your armor, Jango, but no promises."
Mando'a – Language of the Mandalorians
Su cuy'gar, Jetii. – (Polite hello), Jedi.
Jetti – Jedi
Cuy'val Dar – Those who do not exist
Verd – Soldier
Usenye – An obscene way to tell someone to get lost
Di'kut - Idiot