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Failure is Always an Option

Striges's Avatar

09.30.2013 , 07:41 PM | #1
With no anticipated spoilers beyond the identity of each class’ companions and a smattering of companion background, this is the thread everyone can enjoy! Featuring the characters of Striges!verse in silly, not-quite-canon situations.

Our characters love their companions, they really do. Companions love them back. They follow directives and do their best to complete the jobs our characters give them even when they aren’t best at the task. And when the task doesn’t go so well they’re upfront and honest about it. Or are they? Inspired by the Short Fiction Challenge Thread prompt “Confessions,” this thread explores what companions really did with those mission credits. Because, as an excuse, “Failure” is always an option.

The first story here ran in the SFC thread. Afterward, a number of posters asked for more, but quite frankly I couldn’t come up with anything other than Kaliyo blowing the whole wad at a Nar Shaddaa casino (or something less savory, knowing Kaliyo) and that just didn't seem like as much fun as something less obvious. I got partway through one thought and the whole thing fizzled. So the idea sat in a mental slow cooker for a while. A long while.

I can’t promise Failure will update as often as Cleaner. In fact it probably won’t. I’m also very open to suggestions for this thread, but don't feel bad if I don't use one or if it takes me forever to get around to it. I’m not all that prolific. I do promise to acknowledge the original poster when I use someone’s idea.

One more thing. Be sure to imagine the Rocky and Bullwinkle narrator’s voice whenever you read a title.

Thanks for reading!

Striges's Avatar

09.30.2013 , 07:43 PM | #2
The Good Doctor or What Do You Mean You Failed Again?

Featuring Sha’ra’zaed, Chiss Imperial Agent

Sha’ra’zaed entered the medbay on her ship. She glanced around. She’d let Lokin install some equipment for his research, but the space was getting crowded. “If you don’t mind, Doctor, I’d like a word with you.”

Doctor Lokin looked up from his datapad, “Of course, agent. What concerns you?” he asked.

“I noticed you’ve put in a lot of new equip—“ a shiny new device caught her eye, “is that a molecular sequencer?” she asked.

Lokin beamed, “It is. Lovely, isn’t it? Not quite top-of-the-line, but then, even your ship doesn’t have enough power for one of those. A little tweaking, though, and I’m sure I’ll get the same functionality.”

“I’m sure,” Sha’ra’zaed replied. She approached the new machine. Lokin had squeezed it in between two other new arrivals. “A…an amino acid synthesizer? And you have it integrated with…” she examined the connections, then turned back to Lokin, “a recombinant viral protein array?”

“You do know your way around a lab, agent,” said Lokin, still smiling, “I must say, it’s refreshing to work with a colleague almost as interested in medicine and biology as I am. Most of my former associates barely gave thought to using a medpack. They relied on me to patch them up—often. Not a knock, mind you,” he said, setting the datapad down, “Just a statement of fact. I’ve enjoyed being able to get some real research done instead of spending all my time tending a patient in a kolto tank.”

“Ah, yes, about that,” Sha’ra’zaed began, “where did you get all these things?” she asked, waving her hand at the equipment.

Lokin shrugged, “Oh, here and there. I’ve collected quite a few over the years.”

“But these are new,” said Sha’ra’zaed.

“Not all of them,” said Lokin. He crossed the room to a smooth, silver device nearly as tall as he was. It resembled nothing so much as an old-style thermal flask elevated off the floor on short, sturdy legs. Distressed caution labels covered the outside, warning of everything from extreme temperatures to powerful magnetic fields. “This nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscope is practically an antique,” he said, patting it with affection.

Sha’ra’zaed approached the machine, “Doctor Lokin,” she said, “I appreciate your improvements to the medbay. But I want to know what happened when I asked you to collect specimens on Ryloth.”

“Oh, that,” said Lokin. He clasped his hands behind his back, “Terrible heat storm. The authorities wisely forbade anyone from visiting the surface. I wasn’t able to collect anything. Shame, that.”

“I see,” replied Sha’ra’zaed, “and Bhargebba Six?”

“I arrived too late, I’m afraid. The extermination order had already gone through,” said Lokin, “I said as much when I returned.”

“And Ord Dorlass?” asked Sha’ra’zaed, “I thought you would be interested in the plague there, regardless of my request. Your experience with the rakghoul virus could have proved invaluable.”

“Ah, recall that I was unable to circumvent the quarantine,” Lokin answered. “But I suspect you aren’t really curious about these events, are you agent?” he asked.

“No,” she said, her voice low, “I’m not. I’d like to know what happened to the funds I gave you for these—and other—expeditions. You’ve returned empty-handed every time.”

Doctor Lokin shifted his weight, “A run of bad luck, I assure you.”

“Come now, Doctor,” she said, “you don’t really expect me to believe that, do you?”

“One can always try,” he said, “You’ve come to a conclusion already, though.”

“I have,” she said.

“That I’ve used the funds to advance my own research,” he stated.

“Precisely,” said Sha’ra’zaed.

“You’d be correct, of course,” he admitted.

Sha’ra’zaed folded her arms, “Just like that? No denial?”

“Well, there’s little point,” Lokin said, “You can see the results for yourself,” he indicated the medbay with an expansive wave, “A top-notch medical research facility. Far better use of your credits than collecting some minor samples to indulge your—if you’ll forgive the term—hobby.”

Sha’ra’zaed frowned, “My own work is hardly a hobby, Doctor. I’ve improved on the Empire’s mass-produced adrenals and medpacks—“

Lokin cut her off, “Yes, yes, I’m aware of your efforts. Fruitful, of course, in their own way. These improved facilities benefit you as well. More so, I should think. To be frank, the technology I’ve incorporated here exceeds your requirements by a wide margin. You ought to thank me.”

“For embezzling my funds?” she exclaimed.

“Embezzle is such a strong word,” Lokin said, “I merely reallocated the funds to a more deserving project. Which still furthers your medical and biological analysis and experimentation. Which, if I recall correctly, was the stated purpose of the expeditions in the first place.”

Doctor Lokin,” Sha’ra’zaed began, smoldering, “the next time I assign you a task, I expect you to complete it. Not take it under advisement while you advance your own agenda.”

Lokin shrugged, “If you insist, agent.” He stepped around her to retrieve his datapad, “Will there be anything else?” he asked.

Sha’ra’zaed sighed, “No, that was all,” she said and turned to leave.

“Oh, agent?” said Lokin, looking up, “I believe Kaliyo just returned from Nar Shaddaa. You may want to see how she fared.”

Sha’ra’zaed stopped at the medlab door, “What was she doing on Nar Shaddaa? She was supposed to investigate Demagol’s lab.”

Lokin shrugged, “I’m sure I don’t know, agent. She must have her reasons.”

“Yes,” growled Sha’ra’zaed, eyes narrowing, “I’m sure she does,” she concluded, stalking off toward the rear of the ship.

Striges's Avatar

09.30.2013 , 07:52 PM | #3
Not Nar Shaddaa Rules Pazaak or Crit Happens

While not necessary to appreciate this story, there are two other stories that provide a bit of background:

Sith Warrior Bug Report (contains Sith Warrior story spoilers), which started it all. And To Market, To Market, which contains no spoilers at all.


Vette strolled into the conference room, took a seat at the table and started shuffling cards. She flipped on the intercom, “All right, everyone, Vette’s exclusive Sith Casino of Fun and Non-Maiming Entertainment is now open! Pazaak anyone?”

Pierce’s head peeked in from the doorway immediately, “Thought Umrahiel got rid of your deck,” he said.

“Yeah…” she said, cutting the deck and performing an elaborate weave with the cards, “he got rid of that one. He didn’t ask about any of the others though,” she said with a mischievous grin, “So, you want to play or not?”

“What’s the rules?” he asked, tapping his fingers on the doorjam.

“Same rules,” she said sweetly.

The intercom crackled to life, “Our lord expressly forbade any more Nar Shaddaa pazaak games on this ship,” ordered Quinn.

Vette set the cards down, “Aw, come on Quinn. Even you have to admit that was funny,” she said.

“It was nothing of the kind,” Quinn said through the intercom. Vette held up one hand, making a mouth of her fingers and moving it like a puppet’s in time with Quinn’s words. “It was an acute embarrassment for both our lord and the entire crew.”

Vette rolled her eyes, “How was I to know someone would buy the uniforms off the GTN that fast? It’s not like they’re collector’s items or something.”

“Likely purchased by criminal elements for nefarious reasons. You should have anticipated the possibility,” growled the intercom.

“Not everyone is a tactical genius, Quinn. All right, all right, no more Nar Shaddaa rules,” Vette grumbled. “Killjoy,” she whispered under her breath.

“Still playing?” asked Pierce.

“Sure,” said Vette. She leaned in toward the intercom, “We’ll use my naughty-Nautolan deck.” She kept the channel open for a moment hoping for an amusing response from Quinn, but all that came through was a pained sigh. “So, joining us?”

“Absolutely not,” he replied, “I have no desire to sit around holding cards with pictures of undressed aliens on them while pretending the game amuses me. Or even challenges me. I have far more important things to do with my time.”

“What, polish and catalog his lightsaber crystals? Again?” Vette quipped.

“A simple creature such as yourself could not possibly appreciate the complexity of my duties,” sputtered Quinn.

“Suit yourself,” she said and punched the intercom off. Her puppet-hand made a rude gesture at it. She picked up the cards and resumed shuffling.

Pierce took a seat at the table, “Too bad. Be months before we get him to play again,” he said.

“Yeah. Probably should have strung him along for a while first,” Vette agreed, “but you have to admit it was hilarious.”

Pierce chuckled, “Quinn answering the holocall and forgetting to block the vid feed? Priceless.” He set his own side deck on the table and started shuffling it, “Almost makes you think we planned it that way.”

The sound of Broonmark’s claws on the deckplates echoed in the hallway and he appeared in the doorway. He made a snergelly noise and held up a scratched side deck in one paw.

“I suppose, Broonmark,” said Vette, “But you don’t get a free ride this time just because you have fur.” Broonmark murmured something as he took a seat opposite Pierce, spread his cards out face-down on the table, and slid them around with both hands.

Pierce set his deck to his side, “Not Republic Senate rules, then?”

Vette finished her weave and pushed the main deck toward Pierce, “Aw, come on, what’s the fun of pazaak without a little risk?” she asked.

Pierce cut the deck, “How much risk?” he asked.

“Ten credits a set,” she replied brightly. She retrieved the main deck and set it in the middle of the table, “as many games as you want. Or can afford. Come on, ten credits is nothing. It’s Republic Senate rules without being a complete waste of time.”

“Ten credits a set, then,” agreed Pierce. Broonmark made a noise of assent and gathered his cards.

“Excellent!” Vette said. She tossed a ten-credit chip on the table and drew four cards from her side deck. Pierce and Broonmark did the same. “Let’s go,” Vette said, drawing a card from the main deck and setting it on the table.

Hours later, they were still at it. Vette was by far in the lead with a pile of credit chips and other assorted valuables on her end of the table. And she’d already won two sets this game. She sat smiling behind her array, standing on a score of eighteen. Broonmark tapped his claws rhythmically on the table, having busted out earlier in the set. “Well, come on, Pierce, it’s your turn,” she said.

Pierce glanced at his cards. He had a total of fifteen. The only card remaining in his hand was a minus four, and he had to draw from the deck. A four or a five would win him the set, as would an eight or a nine. And he’d pull off a tie with a three or a seven. Not terrible odds. He reached for the top card on the deck—leave it to Vette to have a male naughty-Nautolan deck—and flipped over the card.

It was a ten.

Pierce cursed and tossed his minus-four on the table. “Bust,” he complained.

Vette let out a little cheer and collected the chips, along with a small group of uncut gems and crystals. She looked at the height of the unused main deck. “We can get another game out of that. Unless you want to reshuffle?”

Pierce stood up, “I’m done. Be a bit lean until next payday.”

“Aww, come on,” begged Vette, “you just had a run of bad luck. You’ll be able to win it back.”

Pierce grunted, “Naa. No more chips.”

“How about the same deal we did for Broonmark?” she said.

“Use the stuff I got off that Hapan salvager’s claim?” Pierce rubbed his chin, “Not thrilled with that idea.” Broonmark warbled and scritched his claws together. “Just because you want to keep playing don’t mean I do. I know when to cut my losses.”

“Pi-erce,” wheedled Vette, drawing his name out into two syllables, “it’s going to be ages before anyone gets back. Please? I’ll never get Captain stick-up-his-rear to play, and pazaak isn’t much fun with just two. Besides, Broonmark’s almost out of alternate currency anyway.”

“Told you. Umrahiel will have my head if I don’t have the crystals he asked for,” Pierce began. Broonmark whistled at this statement. “I did warn you. He won’t be happy,” Pierce said.

Vette leaned back in her chair, “Look, how about I spot you a hundred and let you rebuild your side deck?” Broonmark chirupped hopefully. “Okay, okay, same deal for you too, Broonmark.”

The Talz slipped out of the room with his cards to get a better selection. Vette fixed Pierce with pretty-girl eyes, “Please Pierce? Umrahiel’s not going to be mad over a few crummy crystals and dusty bits of junk. They aren’t even the good ones, just extra ones for repairs and things. And you’ll have to go through that hundred first.”

Pierce scuffed the deck with one foot. Turned out that Hapan bastard sold the claim to a number of other interested parties, no doubt why he let it go so cheap. To top it off, the blasted ruin nearly fell in on him afterward. He could go back for more but he was perfectly happy handing over the bits he scavenged and calling it good. His gaze wandered to the pile of credits near Vette. She’d already added the promised hundred to Broonmark’s meager hoard and had a similar stack set aside for him. “I can completely rebuild my side deck?” he asked.

“Sure,” said Vette, “Broonmark already is. I’ll even reshuffle the main one so we start fresh,” she reached for the main deck and scooped the discards into it. “And I’ll keep mine the same. That’s more than fair.”

Pierce sighed, “All right. You’re on. Be right back.” He headed off to his bunk to swap out for some of his better cards.

The airlock door swished open. Captain Quinn stood at attention just inside the Lemures’ common room. He snapped a crisp salute, “Welcome back, my lord,” he said as Darth Varrel Umrahiel boarded the ship.

The Sith strode into the central space, bringing with him the smell of smoke and scorched earth. He waved a hand at Quinn, “At ease,” he said.

Quinn caught himself in a flinch before relaxing into a parade rest, “I trust your mission went well, my lord?” he asked.

Varrel halted, “Well?” he asked, looking up at Quinn, “Well enough I suppose. Pointless squabbling for resources. Just once, I’d like to visit a planet that really is in desperate need of my help.”

I enjoyed it, husband,” said Jaesa, “I relish any chance to hone my skills.” She sidled up next to him and stroked his shoulder.

“These opponents were hardly a challenge for you, pet,” Varrel said. He patted her rear and nudged her off toward the dejarik table. “Go on then. I have things to discuss with the Captain.”

Jaesa raised her arms in an exaggerated yawn and stretch, “I’m soooo tired. I think I’ll take a nap. I’ll just clean up first.” She sashayed off to the ‘fresher and the door slid shut behind her.

Both men stared at the closed door. Quinn blinked rapidly and shook his head, “My lord, I presume you’d like my report?”

“Hmm? Oh. Yes,” Varrel turned his attention back to Quinn. “Your report.” he requested, holding out a hand. Quinn gave him a datapad and Varrel perused it.

“I have crafted several sets of replacement lightsaber components for you,” Quinn began, summarizing the report, “As per your request, two thirds of these are made to Jaesa’s specifications as she seems to require repairs more often,” said Quinn. He held his breath for a moment. Lord Umrahiel did not appear to interpret his factual statement as a slight against his wife-apprentice. He merely nodded acknowledgment. “You’ll see by my figures that I was able to make efficient use of your supplies. One hundred thirteen point three percent, to be exact. Which proved fortunate as we are now critically low on several key components.”

“I see that,” said Varrel, returning the datapad, “Odd, considering I detailed the rest of the crew to acquire more raw materials. I don’t see them listed here.”

Quinn shifted his weight, “Perhaps they have not been added into inventory yet, my lord.”

Varrel glared up at Quinn, “Why not?” he demanded.

“I’m sure I don’t know, my lord,” he replied with a smirk, “shall I assemble the crew? You may interview them directly.”

“Do so,” commanded Umrahiel.

In short order the four of them—Jaesa having retreated to the main cabin for her nap—gathered around the main holoterminal. Varrel paced before them, “I gave the lot of you very specific assignments to complete in my absence. Yet here you all are, and Quinn informs me that none of the materials are in the ship’s stores. I trust this isn’t a repeat of the nude-pazaak incident?” he asked, glaring specifically at Vette.

“Absolutely not, my lord,” said Vette, “No more Nar Shaddaa rules pazaak games. You were very clear on the subject.”

Umrahiel nodded, “I see. Well, I also notice by the accounting figures that while you’ve not managed to complete any of your tasks, you’ve all found time to turn in your expense chits. Would anyone care to explain what exactly I have in exchange for my funds?” He glared up at each one in turn, "Broonm--" he began. The Talz twittered something nigh inaudible. His claws scratched together. Multiple black inscrutable eyes somehow managed to focus on everything but the fuming Sith before him. “Never mind. Pierce,” Umrahiel turned his attention to the soldier.

Pierce snapped to attention. Quinn, hovering behind Umrahiel with a datapad, let out a derisive snort. Pierce ignored it for the time being. He’d have ample opportunity for payback later. “Yes, my Lord?”


Pierce nodded sharply, “Claim was played out, my Lord. Previous scavengers got to it first, probably why the rights came cheap,” he said, launching into the story he’d rehearsed for the past several hours. It was at least partly true, “I apologise for my failure, my Lord. Couldn't determine the value of the claim without visiting. Left me on the hook for expenses, regardless.” A trickle of perspiration ran down the back of his neck. He took a deep breath, protection against the inevitable.

Umrahiel’s eyes narrowed, as though searching for the lie. His wrath passed over Pierce and he focused on Vette, “And you?”

Vette piped up, “Everything’s in my bunk, my Lord. Just give me a moment to collect it,” she said, cheerful as always. She returned in a moment with a bulging bag, “All here, my Lord. I wanted to get a complete record before turning it all into stores. Just to be sure there weren’t any discrepancies,” she smiled at Quinn and he flushed red in embarrassment or fury, Pierce wasn’t sure which. Either suited him.

Umrahiel reached into the sack and withdrew a few fragments of stone decorated with alien symbols and a handful of uncut gems and cloudy crystals. Pierce’s gaze snapped to Vette. He knew those gems. He grabbed them after the firefight with a dozen or so other salvage operations also claiming ownership of the Hapan’s discovery. But he couldn’t say a word. Not after the tale he’d told Lord Umrahiel.

Varrel replaced the treasures in the sack and handed it off to Quinn, “Excellent job, Vette. Though next time I expect you to complete your personal inventory in a more timely fashion. The rest of you could take a lesson from Vette. This is the kind of result I expect from my crew, not empty hands and poor excuses.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Pierce barked in his best please-the-drill-sergeant voice. He’d take a lesson from Vette all right. Never let her deal. And the next time they played pazaak they were using his main deck.

marissalf's Avatar

10.02.2013 , 09:11 PM | #4
These are fun!

Leave it to Lokin to dismiss all that the agent does as a mere "hobby." And sneaky Vette, love it!

Striges's Avatar

10.03.2013 , 06:41 AM | #5
Now we know how Vette manages to crit so often on Treasure Hunting missions.

I was going for a 'companions get the better of the OC' theme. That seemed more fun to me than having my OC's beat up on the companions all the time. We can do that enough in-game.

Xakthul's Avatar

10.03.2013 , 04:24 PM | #6
Hahahaha! Leave it to Vette to strip the guys of their money....and clothes. She probably enjoys the view, lol.
Duelist Mixalot, Grand Champ Tellsa, Lord Saml, Apprentice Syynx, Captain Cirris, Skirmisher Janewei, Jedi Knight Jugger'not, Agent Ez'zio of <Wookies and Cream>, Harbinger
"Aim for the trolls! Kill the trolls!"- Gandalf

kabeone's Avatar

10.03.2013 , 05:11 PM | #7
I remember the first one! The explanation of the constant crew failures was awesome. The second one was especially funny after the uniform debacle. Yay Vette!

Striges's Avatar

10.03.2013 , 10:00 PM | #8
A Precious Thing or Tulak's Hoard

Minor spoilers for early Sith Inquisitor story.

Khem Val turned the object over in his hand, his claws brushing its fine polished surface. His chamber was dark, his red Dashade eyes dilated to complete blackness. He didn’t need his eyes to see. To feel the power radiating from the artifact resting in his oversized palm. A thing of pure darkness despite its burnished precious metal exterior. He never imagined the ancient vault would conceal such a treasure.

The signet ring of Tulak Hord.

Even now, ages later, it felt the same. Khem stroked it. Traced the deep Sith runes engraved on its surface. Savored the echo of his long-lost master and companion, that familiar figure whose shadow he was. He toyed with the dark tendrils emanating from the thing, weaving a pattern invisible to all senses but his. Reveled in the memories of days gone by.

A sudden shaft of light cut through the gloom. "Are you still in here, Khem?" came the voice of his new master, "Quit brooding. The vault was empty. I don't care anymore. Thieves probably cleaned it out ages ago."

Khem turned his attention to the Sith standing in the doorway. Dark tendrils surrounded her, too, like a black Kirlian aura in his sight. She was strong in the Force, a relic of her heritage, but she was no dark lord. No one feared her name. Not even him.

His claws quickly closed over the ring, hiding it from her view, “I am not brooding, Little Sith.”

“Could have fooled me,” she said, tapping her fingers on the doorframe, “I have another job for you.”

Khem Val stood, the ring still tucked away safe in his paw, “I recall the days when I accompanied the great Tulak Hord into battle. Glory, honor, slaughter on a scale you never dreamed of. What do you ask of me? Errands. I do not run errands. It is beneath me.”

The Sith straightened, “I defeated you. You aren’t Tulak Hord’s servant anymore. You’re mine. And you’ll do whatever tasks I assign.”

Khem towered over her, “The fight was unfair. I care not whose blood runs in your veins. I may be bound to serve you, but you are no Tulak Hord.”

“Tulak Hord is dead,” she said, drawing herself up to her full height, “I am Jealousy, and I am your master now.”

“You may command me, but you are not my master,” Khem Val insisted.

“Well then I command you to visit the junk piles on Orma and being back something useful,” Jealousy said.

“Junk piles,” Khem scoffed, “a task for slaves or droids.”

“Maybe I should have sent slaves or droids to the vault,” Jealousy said. Khem Val opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He tried again. Nothing. Jealousy turned to leave, “your ship departs in an hour.”

The door closed. The darkness enveloped him. Khem relaxed his grip and gazed lovingly at the ring, comically small in his palm. She would try to take it from him, but he would keep it from her. Khem brushed it one more time before secreting it beneath the unused mattress of his bunk. He would keep it secret, keep it safe. The ring was his. His precious.

Xakthul's Avatar

10.04.2013 , 03:52 AM | #9
Nice. Khem has a er.... teddy bear? teddy ring?
Duelist Mixalot, Grand Champ Tellsa, Lord Saml, Apprentice Syynx, Captain Cirris, Skirmisher Janewei, Jedi Knight Jugger'not, Agent Ez'zio of <Wookies and Cream>, Harbinger
"Aim for the trolls! Kill the trolls!"- Gandalf

bright_ephemera's Avatar

10.06.2013 , 01:05 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Striges View Post
Multiple black inscrutable eyes somehow managed to focus on everything but the fuming Sith before him.
This is a marvelous image.

As for Khem Val and his preciousss ring...that sounds just about right.
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