0630 hours ...
Moira Drakengard forced her senses to remain open to the barrage of what happened in the Atrium, trying to strain raw cut open sensations as the Major manipulated the force to his will. More than once, she had to grit her teeth against the pain, though intellectually she knew it was raw sensations of experiencing the force used so violently around her for the first time. It felt like sharp spines of ice were driven into her skull at each use. Then, as the Major began expounding upon the things a dark trooper was taught, the excess amount of energies utilized transformed those sharp spikes into a pounding throbbing pain. It was enough to make her vision bleary as they became far too sensitive to the ambient light. A buzzing in her ears which only she could hear, as it was a peripheral effect of being over sensitized to the force felt deafening when she heard the Major’s words, backed with the power and strange intonations of the force, was enough to send a shiver down her spine.
The echani took a few deep breaths to steady herself to regain some of her fortitude, barely noticing the appearance of a red robed royal guard that seemed to materialize at her side. The guard began a silent assessment of her, before tilting his head, as a silent order was posed.
‘ Be ready.’
Still shaky on her feet, she nodded and stumbled after the group as they were dispatched at the pace of a light jog, though it seemed she tripped over her own two feet more than once. Eventually she was brought into a single room, one she recognized from before as being the initial testing room. Without a word spoken on her side of things, force knew that had gotten her in trouble before, the young woman sat down in a seat opposite the royal guard, before a glass with a single leaf was placed in front of her.
”Your original circumstances were not in a controlled environment. So we have been asked to include you in a second test to help better determine what your primary affinity is.”
She nodded, arching an eyebrow as a silent question on whether to begin.
“For the record, these are the instructions: Please place your hands around the glass, but not touching the glass itself, and channel your flow. Let what occurs naturally happen.”
The echani nodded then winced as her hands ventured to the sides of her head to allow her fingers to rub her temples to ease the pain of her headache. Her mind still hurt from what she sensed. But that did not stop her from complying, not this time. Moira closed her eyes to meditate and touch that burning ember of the force inside of herself, fanning it to an icy stoked flame as the energies were drawn from the pool of her stomach, and traversed their way up her spine, to her shoulders and down to her fingertips.
In the end, ice had formed completely around the glass as metal shards could be seen glinting as the water turned black around a spinning leaf.
“A very strong materialization skill; like we thought.”
The royal guard said before looking down at a datapad, “We’ve gathered enough data for now. Stand and follow me, now.”
Without further communication, the girl was ushered itno the room she had been told was called the PIT. She allowed a moment for her eyes to take it in, trying to memorize the layout from whatever she could see. The PIT was a rather large room with a series of concentric rings spaced out in vast rows embedded into the floor.
0730 hours, Day I …
She was instructed to enter the ring and stand in the center of the circle, so she descended the tiered step like crenulations to do so. As she stood in the center, there was a dull whine as three rings rose from the floor on repulsors to hover about chest high as holographic screens flickered to life, encapsulating her in a semi- sphere of displays set up about her.
A disembodied voice began to speak, ”Greetings trainee, welcome to the Prominent Intensive Training Room Terminal Number Thirty-six. This training area possesses a number of composite features. Primarily it utilizes several sound dampening devices, pressor fields, and hard light holographics in order to create a viable testing, training and learning center for those involved in Advanced Areas of Study.
At present, please state some basic information as biosensors record your identity and set up a training folder on the ship’s confidential servers.”
‘So she was on a ship, that was good to know.’
A screen popped up asking, What is your name?
Sex? Male Female Other?
“Not till Marriage please.”
”I’m sorry, the reply could not be completed as spoken. Please try again.”
Her legs were shaking at this point, and she felt a little week.
”Are there any titles or positions of authority, or service you claim from your own society?”
Her eyebrows knitted in frustration, “Yes.”
”Last of the House of Yusanis and heir to the head of house. Also, all echani that go through Eshan’s academy at some point are considered reservists in case the homeworld was ever attacked.”
“Are any of these positions capable of forcing you to not keep any training receieved here confidential, due to the classified nature of the programs you have been submitted for. Please state any reservations now.”
“No. but if there is a conflict of interest later, I would presume to make an inquiry to the designated authority of the program, be that the Emperor’s office , the royal guard, or the echelon’s of the Federation’s military for permission of disclosure. I presume I will be instructed on proper formats of appeal later.”
Variable, due to time spent in carbonite, and stasis fields, currently about sixteen years of experience I think. Galactically I was born a little before the fall of the Empire. I’m sure you can cross index the files I expounded upon that subject.”
The questions came and went until a chime was heard, by this time she felt a little light headed. ”Are there any questions you would like to ask before we begin?”
”Is there a chair I can use? I’m not feeling too good.”
”Normally trainees are not permitted during test phases- However, monitoring devices are showing erratic data of your biosignatures at the present time. Wait one moment. Interrogatory Request sent.”
Moira took the pause in the conversation to just breathe easy. ”Override Accepted.”
From beneath her feet a small repulsor chair rose up, forming around her as it forced the young girl to fall back wearily upon it’s seat cushions as it floated above the floor. ”Please remain still trainee as a trainer enters the testing area.”
The sound of footsteps appeared behind her, as a robed figure walked their way around to Moira’s right hand side before a voice whispered in her mind.
’Extend your arm.’
She did, not quite understanding as a drinking bulb was deposited into her open palm followed by a hand reaching to clasp about her wrist. It was only a moment, and an arched eyebrow in silent question before the a soothing rise of warmth flooded into her and washed away her prior fatigue. Before the hand withdrew, it latched a small bracelet about her wrist.
”A medisensor that’s more precise then in the testing area. You are still suffering effects from the extreme exposure despite the prior bacta treatments. Medical staff have been made aware, and are monitoring all trainees. For now, please continue the testing cycle and keep hydrated to stave of some temporary effects.
The girl nodded once, and forced aside her thoughts from the little bit of worry that creeped into her mind. She almost didn’t notice the red guard’s departure, that was how swift it was. Soon enough, it was just her, and the voice.
”Are you ready to begin, Trainee?”
”A verbal response is necessary unless you toggle a selection on the holo window.”
she croaked out. ”May you please bring the window closer?”
A single rectangle of light detached itself from the bubble of holographic windows, coming to about waist high, in a comfortable distance away. ”Thank you.”
”You’re welcome trainee. Now the first test is a comprehensive IQ test. You have five hours to complete as much as you can. Workspace may be used by utilizing the writing stylus provided to sketch equations in the air if it becomes necessary.”
the computer said before the first question popped upon the screen. Twisting the top of the drinking bulb off the Echani took a sip as she pondered a reply to the hyperspace calculation on the screen.
She sketched out a few corollary basic equations to help jog her memory. Plugged in a few numbers, did some longhand equations before selecting to submit her answer. The next questions were on the temperature stresses of different alloygs, grades, and metals, including resistances to radiation. She remembered writing a few answers in comparisons to lead, mainly steel at one and a quarter inch gave the same radiation resistance as a quarter inch of lead.
After that she remembered choosing a few answers based on the comprehensive makeup of atmospheric elements which contributed to rates of erosion in durasteel. The questions only got more numerous and harder after that. Suffice to say , for the first time in many years, Moira thanked her parent’s foresight in buying three modified TTS-15-series education and tutorial droids for her education that they had kept the basic educational packages while diversifying their specializations in languages(Basic, Echani, and Huttese) in the first, literature, multi-cultural literature, and cultures in the second, with the third rounding it out with Galactic history, Material and Theoretical Sciences and Mathematics in the third droid.
She didn’t have much friends on the ships, wandering from battlefield to battlefield before being sent back to Eshan. She had her droids, and a sense of learning. Not to mention, her parents were able to bring home a Class I- Fleet simulator used in the Advanced Tactics courses from their time helping the training cycles of the Royal Guard, and she found out later- involvement with assisting members of the Old Empire’s Inquisition.
She’d taken to study everything, drawn like a moth to the flame, and soaked up as much as she could. Adding in her parents lessons on starship repair, Engineering, and various other tactical and strategic subjects ranging from logistics and battlefield control. In retrospect though, it was obvious her parents had been preparing her for something, though the possibilities could have ranged from a CEO of her own company, to someone capable of massive project oversight, or governing of a planet. By the Force, the people on Naboo did that all the time with their queens. Accelerated training was almost a must if one was to get ahead in the galaxy, and her parents had sacrificed a lot to get her such opportunities. Truth in told, she thought her parents wanted her prepared to help her people, even if that Inquisitor eventually took her under his deceitful wing to use as a tool. That made her angry a little, and that anger lent her focus as Moira began to answer the questions faster and faster as her confidence rose.
Add in the survival aspects, armor theory, weapon creation, and a bunch of related subjects and she was pretty sure she was showing various aptitudes in which she knew a lot more than normal sixteen year olds. However, it did upset her a bit when the questions veered towards descriptions of the proper methods of crochet. Stitches was for wounds, or for accentuation of armor and the natural beauty of objects, not handkerchiefs to blow one’s nose… well maybe if they were a gift to someone. She’d have to experiment on that. The questions on dance were easy enough, members of that
organization had required her to learn in order to get close to a few marks but present fashion was something she knew nothing about.
The questions on cooking, and ingredients set her back a little as well. Why did one need to know a piece of bantha meat could have over eighty two cuts to it? Or which cut of meat was proper at a formal setting? In her mind, a steak was a steak was a steak, heck any meat based product not in a ration kit was a delicacy.
The questions got further downright odd as she was pressed into recalling and translating several sith’ari phonetics and other dead languages about lightsaber and sword based combat. Then it veered into theory about a few force usages that she had to fill in. After all, when you were once trained to hunt down force users as a new generation of an Inquisitor’s personal hellish organization, it paid to know one’s enemies and their abilities. As the Major had said, a lot of theoretical knowledge was dangerous to her, she supposed, she’d have to be careful to watch out for her own weaknesses and contemporize her gains with the risks.
But, despite the difficulty, she answered as best she could until a chime sounded with over two thousand questions answered. By the force, only the single thought of a laughing Mikka Thellis came to mind as her friend-slash- sister pointed at her and called her a nerd. She swore if that ever happened she’d dunk the girl with as many hot water balloons as she could. Sighing loudly, she rubbed her temples, sat back in the chair, and waited for a response. ”The time is eleven hundred and thirty hours, a small satchel, including a nutrient bar and a shake is available for your consumption at this time. You will have fifteen minutes until we begin a two hour personality test.”
At these words a small pedestal rose from the floor of the three meter diameter area, on top was a single bag containing another bulb and a ration bar. ”When you are finished the pedestal acts as a recycling station. Mous droids will take the waste to processing later.”
Moira tore into the rations with an abashed hunger after her stomach growled loud enough to press her to satiate it. She didn’t care how bland they tasted, as it was probably the first thing she had had besides water for the past three days.
It seemed only a few moments, but at eleven hundred and forty five hours by the chrono, the chime sounded again. ”For the next two hours a personality test will be administered, Then a fifteen minute break before moving onto the next series of tests. Are you ready to begin?”
”I’d give you a personality test if you had one.”
”I’m sorry, that is not a permissible response-“
She cut it off, ”Yes I’m ready. Please bring on the next test.”
”Question one: You are almost never late to appointments, Yes or No?
By the Sith I hate these things!”
the echani spoke before settling in to answer yes or no to the various questions. A hundread and eighty questions later she had to choke over a given question.
Your friend has been obsessed over seeing a concert with the famous band Exonauts. When you arrive one of the band members gives her a cat call and then insults her grieviously. What would you usually do?
”D. Definitely ‘D’. I’m not even going to think about the other choices.”
- (A).Address the problem immediately with a blaster bolt to the face.
(B).Think about what to do and then take action.
(C). Sit back and let things work out for themselves.
(D).Stop your friend from crying and say you’ll make it better somehow..
(E). None of the above, just leave and take her with you.
She paused a moment, and then relented, ”Well maybe E.”
”Which is your final answer?”
Letting out a sigh she gave her reply to the over officious program, “D. My answer is D.”
At thirteen hundred, and forty five minutes on the chrono on the screen another bell chimed. In came the royal guard to escort her to the refresher where she splashed some cold water on her face, used the sonics and tried to stop some uncontrollable shivers before she was put back in that chair for the next round. Feeling a little winded she hardly noticed the red guard placing a hand on her shoulder and a sensation of fatigued leaving her. She was about to ask why she kept feeling what she thought was a manipulation of the force when that damnable voice came back on and the royal guard disappeared once more.
”Are you ready to begin?”
”Very well, Trainee. You have two hours to complete as many patterns as possible. If you don’t know the solution for a single one, then please skip to the next.”
Lines and lines of symbols and numbers came to the forefront of the holographic display as the test begun. Sighing loudly, she began to work on factoring what the next symbols might be, drawing them in midair. She skipped over a few but things eventually began making sense. The patterns started jumping between two dimensional to three dimensional geodesic puzzles and schemas that resembled the multidimensional representations of data streams she usually found Mikka playing with, and it started to become almost a game to her. One which absorbed her attention fully, on the way to solving the fourth example of such a patterned problem her thoughts were interrupted by that damn chime once again.
”It is now sixteen hundred hours. The time for this test is complete trainee. We are moving onto the cryptology test. On the left hand screen will be a codex, some symbols mean words, some mean letters. On the middle screen will be a story. Your job is to translate that story from the symbols. However, you must understand that some word use may be out of order, spelled backwards or even jumbled up. Your translation will be displayed on the right most screen. The trainee will have two hours to complete this task. Are you ready to begin?”
Moira curtly replied.
She was getting tired, and it felt like staying awake was a chore. Trying to work out some kinks in her neck she took the time to do a few stretches. She even slapped herself once to wake up. The Major hadn’t lied about the fact this testing phase would be brutal. Add in computers that could calculate results in real time, she was sure every trainee was having a different experience in the types of questions. But then she shook such thoughts aside, and concentrated on getting back to work.
It took some time to memorize the codex, and then the girl’s linguistic skills began to come into play as she started to put entire words strings together. She finished in about half the time before another bout of shivers ran down her back. She didn’t realize it, but the chair warmed a little. Just enough to offset her discomfort.
”Do you want to review your answers?”
”May I have another drinking bulb as I do so?”
In silent response the pedestal that had brought her lunch rose again to display another drinking bulb. She sipped it carefully, the tissues of her mouth taking the moisture like a sponge. Honestly, she felt like she had six weeks of the tyrellian flu all in one day. What was wrong with her? Trying to take her mind off things she concentrated on the review.
After about ten minutes, she addressed the computer, ”Alright, I’m done.”
The chrono read seventeen hundred and fifteen minutes.
”Do you wish to move onto the next test?”
”The time is now seventeen hundred and thirty minutes, the next test is a test of memory. A series of images will flash on the screen. The trainee will memorize them, then at the end of each series the trainee will write down what each image is in the order of appearance.”
The chime sounded again, and Moira noted a set of images flash upon the screen. Taking the stylus up, once more from the chair, she scrawled her answer in midair before waving it to the screen set aside for recording her answers. A chime sounded about two minutes later, ”Be aware that the next series will pass by quicker than the previous. Complexity, Length, and amount of objects in each string may vary as well.”
For the next hour and a half, Moira’s mind was starting to feel like it had the consistency of mashed potatos as the strings continued. She was lucky if she got nine out of ten during the later stages as the series progressively got faster and longer.
Finally the chime rang again. ”It is presently eighteen hundred hours. A nutrition shake and bar have been provided for your consumption. In fifteen minutes a break for the refresher will be possible. At eighteen – thirty the second to last test will begin.”
“Erh, Thank you, Computer. I guess, erh… what is the proper way to address you.”
“During normal operations, it is appropriate to address the computer by terminal number, in this case ‘PIT number thirty-six would be an applicable denominator for address. However, at this time you might refer to me as OSIRIS as I am presently correlating all trainess datum for review.”
“OSIRIS, that’s a strange name. Does it mean something?”
Moira asked, the only computer she knew of with an acronym on the observer was what was called a HELIOS. Were they similar? Or was one just a dumber artificial intelligence?
“That’s classified. Please be ready to address the next test in thirty minutes.”
“Erh, understood OSIRIS. Thank you for the notification. May I speak to you again in the future?”
“Perhaps, though such discussions will not be a priority to my routines unless I am instructed to make them so by a higher authority, at this time please take your required nutrition.”
Moira replied, in her mind the pieces were coming together, like little cogs in a machine as she wondered if there was an actual intelligence on the other end of the examination stations, and the simulated testing environment described in later days would suggest it. She hoped she hadn’t hurt that thing’s feelings if it was an actual sentient, made of flesh or not.
Another shiver went down her spine as she considered that, but she shook it off. At least with the first day’s testing there was a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, though Moira had to wonder if that light would lead to blue skies, or the unfortunate event of an air train barreling down the tracks in her direction before it ran her over.
Regardless, she ate the meal, drank her shake, and was escorted to the refresher. Somewhere along the way she noted a passing gauntlet settle on her shoulder long enough for a blast of warmth in the force to soothe her fatigue away. In the back of her mind, she vaguely recognized the gauntlet as the Major’s but had little time to ask what was going on before she was ushered back to the chair and another drinking bulb placed in her hand by the escorting royal guard. Then the chime sounded once again. ”The next test will be another memory test. Answer the following as best you can utilizing the codex from the prior test.”
”There are a total of eighty questions, you have two hours to answer forty questions.”
Recalling what she could of the codex, the echani began to write down a little cheat sheet for herself in the holographic workspace. Then she began to tackle the translations of the questions, collating what she had, with what she could figure out, but had forgotten. This allowed her mini-codex to grow enough to the point where she grinded her way through the questions.
In the end, she answered about forty-five of them before the chime sounded once again.
”It is presently twenty hundred and thirty hours, the last test consists of a thirty minute time period where one is to describe visual shapes and tell what they could be. The Trainee is also to describe any feelings associated with the image.
”Understood, please begin.”
Blinking blearily, Moira yawned with fatigue before shaking the cobwebs out of her head. She felt rather unsteady, but pushed on. ”Cat, dog, butterfly, tauntaun, blaster rifle, Sniping perch. Two daunagwyn fighting.”
At the end of the thirty minutes the chime sounded again. ”This concludes the first day’s testing period in the PIT. Trainees will be escorted to the barracks by training officers. Medical personel are on standby to give them a physical and further instructions before sleep. Trainee, your results are currently being tabulated and disseminated to appropriate training officers to assist in your next tests. Thank you for your participation in the first stages of the VDQAE Program’s Testing period and have a nice day.”
One by one the holoscreens switched off and sounds began to enter the circle’s environment. Wearily, the echani got up to her feet before the chair sank back into the floor with a whir. Then the repulsor rings, which had been rotating around her gave a whine. Then they descended to meet with the floor, fastened by the thudding sounds of molecular locks. All of this left her standing in front of another red robed training officer who barked out a call for attention.
The Major stood at the front of the room, holding a hand a moment to draw attention as he began to speak. ”Alright Trainees! That was an excellent start. Just remember that tomorrow begins the testing of your physical limits, where we intend to push you to your limits and you’re screaming in pain! But don’t worry, it’s all in the name of science and progress for you to develop yourselves further in the ways of the force! Shame that we need to set baselines first, but the good news is, I promise that unless you have a heart attack, you won’t die! And even if you do have a heart attack, don’t worry, we’ll pop in a cybernetic and have you back to testing in five hours! I promise, tomorrow will be some of the most rigorous testing you have undergone in your lives, so are you all ready for the challenge?”
A few gung ho trainees, namely from the dark trooper gave a chorusing cry of , “Yes Sir!” before silence was back in play.
”Good. I’ll remind you of that when your needing to go the extra mile. Now I need all the males, whatever species you are, to step forward into one line and be ready to be escorted to the barracks where medical stuff will hook you up to a bunch of sensors so we can get a baseline for your nocturnal biosigns and sleeping habits as well as the mandatory sonic shower, and a physical. Then I need all the females to line up to be escorted to their own barracks to do the same. You should know that unlike most barracks on a federation ship the bunks you will be sleeping in are state of the art bio-beds with the ability to have a filtered light screen descend over them to allow sleep regardless of any time of day, or lighting. So that should make all of you feel a little special! Don’t worry, we trainers are going to ensure we beat that right out of you real quick! Just remember, when you arrive to follow the staff’s directions, or else! Trainees Dismissed!”
Moira could tell the Major was harkening the atmosphere back into the settling structure one usually received in basic training for a military. And many like herself merely shrugged and smiled before composing themselves. A bit of familiarity of structure seemed a good thing to her, so long as it kept them all on task and on target, while keeping their minds from being unsettled by the implications of what they were there for.
A crutch as it were, but she wondered when it would be removed. Her blood chilled when she felt a small featherlike touch, ‘smelling’ faintly of ash, upon her senses. ‘An interesting observation Trainee, but keep it to yourself. You don’t realize it, but you are projecting, child. We will protect your mind for now, but soon you must learn control.’
She gulped nervously, before she could feel the oily smudge of the royal guard in front of her extending some sort of encapsulated force shield around her. ‘Thought shield child. You will learn to do this as well, though it may pose difficult.’
As the lines formed to move out, she stumbled her way after, trailing behind the rest as her feet seemed to get heavier and heavier. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw two Royal Guards, beside her escort approach and take her by the elbows.
Stubbornly, she took a look at the deck at her feet and plodded on, ”I can make it on my own to the barrack-“
She was cut off by some sharp pains that racked her body. ’Do not be concerned about the barracks, alternate measures and accommodations have been prepared. The reasons you are in pain is why we are taking you to a medical support staff now. Remember, you are still suffering from the effects of exposure and your Awakening.’
The two royal guards, levered the girl down the hallway, and turned a corner. Disappearing from the sight of the other trainees, as the medisensor began beeping loudly as it turned red. At this time they abandoned all pretense of walking calmly at a sedate pace and began to rush her forwards, utilizing a combination of their speed and telekinetics to lift and keep her isolated from the pressures the faster velocity placed upon her. In hear ears the sensor beeping became a high pitched whine, as the peal of the alarm got louder. A set of double doors hissing open, accompanied by the shouting voices of orderlies was the last thing she heard before blackness took her.
The two Royal Guards rushed the one they were carrying into the room and deposited her on an Athakam Medtech Med Unit. ”I want this room cleared of males now!”
the lead doctor ordered in a tone long accustomed to command. Trainee or not, no female that young deserved to have her dignity stripped from her without being aware of it.
“Prepare for a cardio stimulator if she crashes! We don’t want to be unprepared.”
Medical droids were already beginning to run tests as two of the three red guards in attendance left the room. The last one, a female, though you would have never known through the suit, stepped around to place her palms against the sides of the Echani’s head as the royal guard began to transfer force energy into the unconscious patient. Within three minutes, the patient had been covered in a sheet as various sensors were attached to her skin.
A chime from above chirped, as a voice came online. ”How bad is she doctor?”
Cursing the doctor spoke out loud, “She suffers from extreme exhaustion, dehydration, her endocrine and her adrenal systems are in a state of flux that show stress from overuse, probably during that blizzard as a property of whatever kept her alive. Not to mention we’re reading damage to her lungs from exposure, add into a dozen other problems involved when a force sensitive almost rips open parts of their brain to use things they were never trained in before and well- It’s not a pretty picture. She should have been here hours ago!”
”The risk was manageable doctor. Do what you can.”
The doctor looked over at the young woman, the hologram above the bed already showing her vitals. But what skin was uncovered, beneath the sheet had been mired by scars, was now too deathly pale to be healthy. Not to mention her patient’s skin glistened with a cold sweat.
“That’s a bullshit excuse Inquisitor! I want justification for the risk to my patient’s life. Now please! I’ll need access anyways to her past files in order to watch for possible breaks in her psychology during her recovery before training.”
“She will be pushed to train while recovering doctor. For her, it has to be shown what was expected of her for compliance reasons. That’s why we had the MRP produce a high caliber life support suit for her. You don’t need to know more. The only question I need answered right now is a simple one: Will she live?”
The doctor sighed and wondered if the Emperor would allow her to shove her rarely used force glaive into a pompous Inquisitor’s arse, but then dismissed such thoughts. Not all doctors didn’t know how to fight, and she was as good at taking lives as she was as saving them. Her time in the Royal Guards had taught her that. It gave her some immunity at least, as the only one able to discipline a royal guard was the Emperor himself, well at least theoretically. ”Ask me in six hours Inquisitor. Until then it’ll be touch and go for at least the first two hours till we can put her in the tank.”
The answer came not over the coms, but in her mind. ‘Do your best doctor, for now other matters require my attention.’
’Then please stop distracting my attention from my patient, and I want that file on her past, not just the last incident that described her awakening her abilities.!’
the Doctor snapped back before proverbially slamming the door shut on the Inquisitor’s mental face. Cursing again as the presence left her, the doctor turned back to focus back on the problems at hand.