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BT Devil’s Shroud: Slice of Life RO (May 2016)


This thread will be used as slice-of-life plot for Battle Team Devil’s Shroud, with the sub-objective of constructing their base on Aeotheran for May 2016 and the proceeding month(s). Please keep it to a single thread so as not to flood the Discourse.

One month after Operation: Firestorm
Above the jungle
Southeast Continent, Aeotheran
Orian System

“We couldn’t have gone to the Gilded Archipelago. Nooo, it has to be in the middle of the mother-frackin’ jungle, they said. It’s Devil’s Shroud, not Devil’s Resort, they said.” Qyreia shifted in the pilot seat of the shuttle, her comfort disturbed by her frustration. “The hell is a ‘Myrmidon’ anyway? I’m gonna have a long talk with whoever got this plan started.”

It had been a recent revelation in the aftermath of the incursions against Naga Sadow by the Dominion that there was much consolidation to be done down the ladder of sub-units. Up until this point, Qyreia had largely lived out of the Temple of Sorrow on Sepros, with the occasional trip to the Gilded Archipelago either for business or, even more infrequently, to relax. Now, in order to alleviate the relative homelessness of her Battle Team, the mercenary had dug up the old Myrmidon resettlement project and taken to finishing the work that had been started. What she hadn’t really factored for was the utter isolation from the rest of the planet that the location afforded.

Looking at a map of Aeotheran, Myrmidon was originally posted on eastern edge of the large southeastern continent, nestled deep into the thick jungle and butted up against a small mountain range that ran north to south. The Battle Team Leader had been given full reign in organizing the base of operations, which would inevitably be a full-time task in addition to her normal duties.

Just one more thing to tear her away from more enjoyable pursuits, like her Gray Jedi girlfriend or recently-Knighted Pantoran apprentice. Add city planning to the list of skills on my resumé. They don’t pay me enough for this Sithspit.

The Zeltron’s attitude was particularly agitated because of the timing. Rather than face a deal of downtime after the operations against the Dominion, and the follow-up wargames by the House leadership, she was working on this grandiose task. This despite her complete lack in knowing how to build a city, much less populate it; her blaster was already prepped in the event of copulation jokes.

A break in the jungle on the horizon and a soft beeping from her terminal told Qyreia that she was nearing her destination. She was unsure of what to expect, considering that Myrmidon was supposed to have been built under the “shroud of Aeotheran,” a call-out to the Battle Team’s namesake.

“Probably some backwater that makes Anchorhead on Tattooine look big by comparison,” she grumbled before switching to her communication unit. “Myrmidon Control, this is Qyreia Arronen. Requesting permission to land.” No response followed. “Control tower, you awake there? I need to know I’m not gonna crash into something here.”

Still no response was given, prompting the mercenary’s hand to instinctively grab for her blaster. Quietude meant that someone was probably dead, and the former smuggler was well aware that she was coming into this place alone, without backup, and without many people knowing where she even was. Make a quick pass, see what’s going on, and go from there, she thought as the treetops broke away to reveal the settlement below.

Or, what should have been a settlement.

Nestled into the dirt patch that made up the clearing were an amalgam of structures haphazardly placed, some of which looked like prefabs that hadn’t even left their delivery frames. Where there should have been a starport, only a large swathe of grass stood, the only clue to its use being the array of depressions in the foliage from landing gear and thrusters. A scattering of people came out to watch the shuttle flying above them, but none appeared armed or hostile. Lacking any options other than going back to the Summit, Qyreia landed the ship in the field even as a handful of the locals approached at a light jog.

“Are you the officer we were told was coming?” a human female leading the pack said as the merc came down the ramp from the ship.

“Dunno. I couldn’t even get a traffic controller on the horn, so I didn’t think you had communication with the outside world.”

“We’re settlers, Zeltron, not podunk moisture farmers or chronic revelers.”

The latter comparison made the former Black Guard’s teeth grind and her hands tighten into fists, but the expressions of the others that had accompanied the woman made Qyreia rethink throttling the human outright. “So,” she half-growled, “I was told there was a settlement here. Why’s there just a bunch of half-done pre-fabs set up?”

“Maybe we should take a walk,” the woman said, almost kindly but not without an edge. “It’s not just that they’re half-done.”

Out of curiosity, the Zeltron followed her on a tour of what little there was of Myrmidon. The woman was named Rhess - a middle-aged spacer who had come to Aeotheran to settle down when she heard about Myrmidon, only to see the project fall flat. Rhess was taller than Qyreia by at least a head, rather muscular for a former spacer, and touted a ponytail of thick blonde hair. She was pretty, if a little gruff for the mercenary’s tastes.

What truly caught Qyreia’s attention, however, was the dilapidated state of the place that was supposed to be the Battle Team’s base of operations. Things were just as Rhess had suggested. Not only were a mere handful of building fully up and operating, but many on the fringes of the settlement were being reclaimed by the jungle flora. The population itself had only developed enough of the infrastructure to be self-sustaining: aeroponic farms supplemented small exterior gardens for food, parts were salvaged from the unused materials, and the people otherwise lived very relaxed lives. A utopia by most standards, but not what the Battle Team Leader needed.

“Rhess,” the Zeltron said tiredly after the tour was over, “I don’t really understand what’s been going on 'til now, but come tomorrow, I’m gonna start getting this place sorted. In the meantime: got a bed for me to lay my head on?”

“We do,” the human said, almost as though pleased with herself. Qyreia was escorted to a relatively centrally-located pre-fab home - small, but not as cramped as a ship - in which there were all the basic amenities: bedroom, refresher, a small living room, and a small kitchen. As soon as they parted with a quick “goodnight,” Qyreia flopped onto her bed after only taking off her boots, and quickly fell asleep. This would be a long project; hopefully the rest of the Battle Team was faring better than her.


Lambda Class Shuttle Fate Star

Making his way back to the cockpit, Kaayn stumbled as the Fate Star shook violently. “Sith spit!” the Dark Jedi spat as he pulled himself to his feet and climbed into the pilot seat. Strapping himself in, he slowly disengaged the hyperdrive. The harness dug into Kaayn’s flesh as he lurched forward with the Lambda Class shuttle slowing to realspace. The aging shuttle had taken quite a beating before making it to hyperspace.

Here we are…” Kaayn thought as he looked over the expanse that was the Orian system. It had been almost a year since he’d been to the Orian system. Seeking lost knowledge? Hunting some great beast or Jedi? Fighting in a glorious battle? No. He was pursuing an old apprentice that abandoned him and his teachings. She had left to forge her own way… to seek power for herself. And now, she was dead. “Foolish Sith…” the Krath smirked. She wasn’t the first force user he’d killed and certainly wouldn’t be the last…

His focus was brought back to reality as the ship shook violently again. He persuaded the craft to head toward Aeotheran. He let off his thrusters and let the gravity of the planet draw him in. Entering the atmosphere, the ship again shook with the force equal to a violent storm ripping off the dorsal stabilizer and sending the shuttle skidding across the surface of the planet. Everything went black.

Kaayn slowly opened his eyes and looked at the the wreckage that was once his personal shuttle surrounding him. He unfastened the harness and limped out of the destroyed craft. His feet sank into the mud in the small clearing in the forested area. “Probably saved my life” Kaayn thought as he trailed off into the forest.


Aeotheran, Orian System

“Rise and shine, Rhess ol’ girl!” Qyreia shook the human with vigor, evoking a grumpy, borderline-homicidal expression from the waking woman.

“Mrph… what time is it?”

“Oh-eight-hundred. Time to get up. We’ve got work to do.”

“Work can wait,” the blonde responded sleepily, planting her head back firmly on the pillow with an unceremonious plop. A contented smile crossed her lips as she heard what sounded like the Zeltron shuffling away. Too easy.

When the blaster bolt struck the wall right behind her bed, Rhess bolted upright and saw the Sadowan standing overhead with pistol drawn.

“Now that I’ve got your attention,” Qyreia said, holstering the pistol while the human caught her breath, “I’ll be in my ‘house.’ Get dressed and meet me there. I’ve got breakfast waiting.”

As she watched the mercenary walk briskly out, Rhess didn’t know how to react. Part of her wanted to grab the nearest weapon and shoot back, but curiosity about this free breakfast and urban planning got the better of her, so she dressed quickly and made fast speed for the Battle Team Leader’s prefabricated home. Well… she did some redecorating. What had been a low-end house the previous evening had been transformed into a rudimentary command center, with a portable computer set up amidst a flurry of datapads and architectural flimsis strewn across the dining table, save for two small spaces for the promised breakfast, still steaming on the plates. Smells good, she thought as she approached, the Zeltron concentrating hard on a particularly large sheet of paper.

“You’ve been busy.”

“Got a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it in,” she responded before taking a sip of what smelled like strong coffee; her expression upon drinking it only reinforced the observation. “Here, take a look. I came up with this rough outline last night.”

The older spacer moved around the table to view the plans and was sufficiently impressed. “Not bad, Red. I honestly didn’t expect you to be able to draw up anything like this.”

“Well, enough coffee and anything is possible.”

Rhess looked the Zeltron over, noting a subtle bodily shaking. “Did you even sleep last night?”


“Kriffin’ hell, Red,” she chuckled, moving her eyes back toward the plans. “Alright, so first order of business is to clear out the forest edge, then set up the landing pads.”

“Yep. Once that’s done, we can start moving more supplies and heavy equipment in.”

“What’s this bit in the center of town?” she asked, pointing to a pentagonal complex on the map.

“That’ll be the headquarters and general hub for Devil’s Shroud. I partitioned off the districts in concentric radial patterns to keep things neat and tidy.”

“I can see that,” the human said with an air of surprise. “Well, I’ll get some work teams together and start getting the vegetation cleared away.”

“Great! I’ll get to work on the farming stuff and…”

You need to go to bed. At least get some sleep before handling any heavy equipment.”

It was a begrudging look that Qyreia gave her, but the mercenary understood just as well, and walked away into her little bedroom to send up a report to her superiors before laying down and quickly falling asleep. Meanwhile, Rhess looked at the blueprints with no small amount of apprehension. This is gonna be a lot of work, she thought, tracing a finger along the street lines. She glanced toward the silent bedroom and grimaced, unsure of what to think about the overarching hand of this Battle Team that would effectively be in charge of the settlement.


One week later…
Myrmidon, Aeotheran

The starport was built - at least they had that much going for them. It would be months, if not a year before the platforms were expanded and reinforced enough to handle large freighters and corvettes, but it was already catching enough attention to be bringing in supplies as well as manpower. The trees and vegetation on the fringes had been cleared for agriculture and industry, with some of the more scenic spots reserved for nature-going tourism. “Can’t let the Archipelago have 'em all,” Qyreia had joked when Rhess had questioned the logic of saving the trees when they were literally surrounded by the stuff.

Reorganizing the housing had been a more difficult task. Smaller housing units, meant for one or two occupants at most, were placed in neat blocks at the inner and outer fringes of each radial partition. Prefabs that would create taller apartment buildings and business hubs when placed on top of one another were less prolific, and less apt to be moved by their occupants, who were well-entrenched in these units already. With some help from her human adviser, Qyreia had managed to get everything moved and re-inhabited without much issue. The terrain looked even more barren as the buildings were consolidated, with large tracts of grass exposed where prefabs had been the day before.

“Got a transmission for ya, Q-ball,” Rhess said as she entered the “command center” that was the Zeltron’s temporary home. Qyreia dismissed the Ugnaught engineer that she’d been speaking with, motioning the human to approach. “It’s about those prefabs.”

“What is it this time?” Already the project was wearing on the mercenary’s nerves. “Igg is trying to get the underground reserved for his people,” she said, referring to the departed Ugnaught. “I keep telling him that Myrmidon isn’t going to be built like that, but he just keeps insisting.”

“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news, then.” Qyreia motioned for the older spacer to continue. “Good news is that we’re gonna start getting them shipped in, along with the families of some of the folks here.”

“Bad news?”

“Bad news is that the buildings are coming in at a trickle, and the people aren’t. Crunched some numbers for ya, and it looks like we’ll be tight on space for about a month before everything equalizes. Then we’re going to start having a surplus of space, and no one filling it.”

“Spread people out to administrate the apartments and keep the aeroponic gardens running. Once settlers do start showing up, I want there to be enough food for everyone.”

“Speakin’ of folks showing up,” she said, spinning a chair around to sit with her arms resting on the backrest, “when’s this Battle Team of your’n gonna be riding into town?”

“They’re kinda solitary. They’ll trickle in slower than the settlers.” The look in the human’s eyes caught Qyreia’s interest. “Why?”

“I looked at the plans for your little ‘headquarters’ building. Seems like a lot of guff for such a small group.”

“That building is going to serve as a police station too, as well as a defensive structure if this town ever gets attacked.”

“And that’s a thing that might happen?”

“It all falls under a group called the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Take a wild guess.”

Qyreia’s plans were fairly simple - Igg had been helping her with the finer architectural points in the mercenary’s spare time. The structure would in fact be a small, enclosed complex, surrounded by a six meter tall duracrete wall. The wall itself would slope for half of its height, which would protect from direct-fire weaponry, as well as preventing armored vehicles from simply battering their way through by reducing their momentum and deflection angle. The interior would house an armory, training ground with small firing ranges, barracks, and the “bastion” that would serve as a defensive tower as well as administrative building for the Battle Team and local police force.

In the Zeltron’s head, it was just as intimidating as it was graceful, but some of the settlers had already began to grumble as word of the plan leaked out.

“We don’t need police, Red. Hasn’t been a single crime since we set down, and that was well before you got here.”

“None reported,” Qyreia chided. “Besides, what do you think is going to happen once this place really starts getting filled with people? Think all of them are going to just be helpful and work for the greater good?”

“Not much of an optimist, are ya?”

“Says the one who made the racist Zeltron comments when she first met me?” Rhess’ bombast soured into a quiet grimace. “Listen, this is the Battle Team’s base of operations, first and foremost. Compared to some other spots in the Brotherhood, I think I’m doing pretty good with making sure that everyone else is taken care of; not just looking out for my own interests.”

“So what other projects do ya have, then?”

“A school. Maybe two, if enough people show.”

“How big are ya planning on making this place?”

“Once the apartments get to their max-capacity size, I’m thinking we could handle twenty… maybe twenty-five thousand, plus.”

The human balked a little. “That’s… that’s a lot of people.”

“This isn’t gonna be some backwater. It’s gonna be a town, Rhess. Might even be able to call it a city eventually. My little plan for one police station might not even be enough: might need two, or three, or one for each quarter. And maybe its the Zeltron in me, but I want it to be pretty as well as functional.”

“You can’t build paradise, Arronen. It never works.”

“I can try,” she said, her excitement dropping soberly. “Look around Rhess. This is how I’ve been living for the last eight-some years. Bags only half-unpacked, never in one place for long, just trying to make ends meet enough to get some normalcy. I haven’t seen my girlfriend for a while, my apprentice is doing Force-knows-what without me to point her the right way, and I just…” She laid her head down on the table, exhaustion showing in the slump of her shoulders. “…I just want to go home. Have a place I can call home. At least for a little while.”

The human stared at the mercenary, unsure of what to say after such a revelation. Her home had always been the bunk room of a freighter or transport - whatever she happened to be captaining at the time - while the Myrmidon project was going to be her retirement plan. Go from trader to merchant, or some such nonsense. Rhess wanted to be in Qyreia’s shoes: to be able to travel the galaxy and fight the proverbial good-fight, or at the very least be young and spry enough to go barhopping looking for a one-night-boyfriend. This Zeltron’s mindset seemed completely foreign, and yet she could sympathize at the same time, and that made the situation all the sadder.

“Listen… I’ll work with Igg and see about setting up your little fortress-thing. Hell, might even be a good thing. Aeotheran ain’t peaceful, despite what the scenery looks like. I’ll even talk with the others and see about gettin’ ‘em to shut their yaps about this whole ‘despotism’ fear they’ve got goin’.”

“Thanks Rhess.”

“Don’t thank me yet, kid. I’m setting up your house next, and you are going to owe me a lot more than a case of Corellian rum when I’m done with it.”


Two weeks later…
Myrmidon, Aeotheran

It was no glittering jewel of civilization, but it was home. Looking over the burgeoning settlement from the main tower of the Shrouded Redoubt, as Qyreia had named it, more buildings were being constructed or raised higher, while settlers trickled in by the day. Rhess had done no small amount of work looking for any sort of refugee, retired spacer, or frontier family to populate the town. With all the conflict of late, there didn’t seem to be any sort of shortage.

“Lookin’ good, ain’t she?” the human said from her seat on the desk behind the Zeltron. “Igg and his folk have the better part of the power and plumbing sorted for the eventual expansion. Businesses are starting to move in, as are the credits into the coffers.”


The simple, brief reply caught the older spacer’s attention. “Something wrong, Arronen? I’da thought you’d be happy about all this.”

Qyreia turned from the window and took a seat in the chair at the desk. “I’m just tired. Too much going on lately.”

“Girlfriend trouble?”

A dark look crossed the Zeltron’s face for half a heartbeat. “…No. Too much time looking at the bottom of a glass.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a whole lot of ‘too much’ lately. Think of quitting this whole Battle Team gig of yours?”

“I’m going to have to soon anyway. Been drawing a lot of heat from the wrong people the past few weeks.”

“I ain’t seen nothing.”

“I hope to keep it that way,” the red woman said, casually making small quarter-turns in her chair left and right. “I’m appointing you the Speaker for Myrmidon. Mayor, governor, whatever equivalent you want to call it by; you’ll be in charge of the civilian structure here for the time being. You’ll have a council to represent the different sectors here, and a second-in-command to train up that’ll take your place when you retire.”

“You gonna write us a whole constitution to go with that, your Redness?”

“I’m serious, Rhess. You’ve known since the beginning that I aimed for this place to be equal to all, with none of the corruption of other cities. I know it’s probably a pipe dream, but it’s worth trying for at least. And you can bet your choobs that I’ll be keeping an eye on this place even when I’m not in charge.”

That made the human laugh. “Sure your people will let you?”

“When they stop needing me to pilot their shuttles into combat zones, they can start complaining. Just know that a sliver of the civil revenue will go to maintaining the Battle Team’s assets and, so long as there’s no legal trouble, we’ll stay out of your hair.”

“Sounds good,” the human said, running a finger along the desk. “Y’know, you could’ve at least gotten some better furniture for this place.”

“It’s an office, not a penthouse, and if any of my successors try to change that, I’ll personally show them the error of their ways.”

The blonde’s face pulled back in mild surprise. “Still comin’ off that bender, I see.”

“You have no idea. My head feels like a Gammorean shoved an axe between my eyes.” As though to more accurately display her anguish, Qyreia tenderly massaged her temples with extreme care. “By the way, I know I said it before but: the house is lovely.”

“Glad you like it. We have similar outfits reserved for the other members of your Team, should they decide to move in.” Rhess’ tone echoed the Zeltron’s pessimism in that regard. “We’re still interviewing for the security forces around here, but we should have at least the Central Force covered by next week.”

Qyreia nodded tiredly. With little more to be said, Rhess left quietly to attend to her duties while the Zeltron mulled over her internal monologue. With as careful wording as she could muster, the mercenary pulled up her communications monitor and wrote out a message to her superiors, detailing the completion of Myrmidon and its readiness to accommodate the needs of Devil’s Shroud. It covered the future plans that were in place, the civilian organizational structure, and the utilitarian details that they might find necessary.

It also included her resignation letter.

It would be a month or more before it took effect, but it was coming, and Qyreia wanted Darkblade and O’Maille to have her successor ready to go. She owed that much to her Battle Team. Her finger hovered over the Send button for several long minutes, part of her wishing it didn’t have to be this way, thinking that maybe she could retain the position. When the keypad caught the pressure on the icon though, it was too late to take it back. Myrmidon was established, and Qyreia was leaving her post.