Diana DeRiggs and Runt
Sometimes, you can dream up a good story -- one of us had two dreams, which were woven together to produce this story. Many thanks to Rosie for being a nice plot beta!
"So, General, you're saying she's Force-strong? Isn't this something Master Skywalk--"
"No," interrupted the senior officer, "it has nothing to with the Force, believe it or not. She is rumored to have ability to utilize sound to break barriers. That part is not what interests us. In addition, she can ..." There was a pause, with the General wondering how to word it, " ... age people."
Captain Garrick Loran smiled, "That's so cute, General. Does she fly by flapping her wings, too?" He didn't want to give the other man the satisfaction of his open bafflement.
When he wanted to, General Airen Cracken could look really sour. "Loran, this is no joke. She has the ability to age people -- older or younger, as she chooses. He says she can do it with just her voice, but our intel says it's apparently a subconscious act. But, she can even age whole populations if she concentrates hard enough.
"In the wrong hands, she'd be a brutal enemy! We have to obligate her to us, before any of the Imperial warlords find out about her. Or neutralize her."
Face pursed his lips in thought, "So this is where the Black Sun connection comes in?"
"Very good," the General was still tense, "you see now where the problem may lie?"
"Well, it seems to me that we have more to worry about from the Black Sun crowd than the warlords, Sir. They're pretty scattered, and no matter how organized they are, the infighting will kill them off, like it did the Sith."
"But if one got her, there would be no others, or they'd be subjugated quickly enough. No, we have to go after her, and Black Sun is our key to her. Besides," the General was concluding his remarks now, "Black Sun is not interested in control that way. They want money more than political power, unlike the warlords."
"Um ... about this contact," the man known as "Face" now let concern invade his voice, "you said, Black Sun ... isn't that normally against NR policy? I mean, organized crime lords and such, the Rogue's previous efforts during the liberation of this fair planet city, notwithstanding?"
The general grinned, "I have also solicited help from Booster Terrik, and even let him keep an Imp Star Deuce. Anything else?"
Face smiled again, "Nice to know that a guy like Han Solo can be emulated."
The general frowned, "Shaddap. I didn't say I liked it. But there's simply no other way to grab this woman, and to guarantee she'll help us."
"Hee hee ... we can get Kell to sleep with her--"
"That's part of the plan."
"I was joking!"
There was silence.
"Okay. Can I hear the rest of the plan?" Face thought this was getting kind of interesting.
The General darkened the room and projected a holo on the desktop. It was of a stocky woman, rather on the plump side, but not that repulsive. Face didn't think Kell would have trouble romancing her. "Her name is Agnus Dei; she's called Agni by those close to her. She is the niece of our contact. According to him, there is no family history of this ability, though when her mother conceived, there had been a Force storm, you remember hearing about when the former emperor had that purge party?"
"That makes her awfully old."
"Yes," agreed the General, "but remember her unique 'talent' -- she can age or 'youthen' beings, including herself. So she has been tweaking her age at approximately 25. She's the fountain of youth, though her uncle has uncharitably mentions that she has no ability to make herself beautiful."
"Aww, that's mean!"
"Well, he's no looker, himself," assured Cracken, "family resemblance, you know? Anyway, the she is near-human, and her mother was human. Nothing is known about her father. In fact, she was born out of wedlock, and her mother was stoned for her promiscuity."
"That's rather harsh. So if Kell sleeps with her--"
"All pre-Empire stuff," Face's concern was waved away, "it's not what you think anyway. She was chemically altered and her gonads removed -- they refer to this as 'stoned' --"
"Ah, like removing a seed is referred to as 'pitted' and removing the bones from a meat animal is 'boned.'"
"Very good, Face, you're a smart man," the older man teased. Face tried to remember that this was Pash Cracken's father. "It's not known what happened to the mother, but the child was raised by the rest of the family, those these days, she's been locked way. They do fear her ability, but don't want to assassinate her themselves. They are willing for us to have her or to execute her."
Face was silent for a while, wondering what sort of family would even consider such a thing. "So we get Kell to wine and dine her and otherwise ingratiate himself to her, and then we're good to go?"
It was Aren Cracken's turn to be silent. Face had never seen his boss look sheepish before. "Um ... well, we also have to do a little cleaning job."
"Cleaning?" Face scratched his head, then his face lit up with understanding, "Oh! That's why Kell, and not me!"
Cracken squinted at the commander, "Were you jealous, Loran?"
Face blushed, "Maybe."
* * * * *The tall, handsome man sighed, "So I have to get into this fugly's panties, then blow up the port?"
Face shook his head as the women of the unit all took turns smacking Kell Tainer on the head. He knew that Kell loved the attention. He had sisters at home, and the demolitions expert of the unit missed their presence in his life.
When the sounds of shrieking and pelting ceased, Face turned on the holoprojector and showed a layout of the spaceport that Black Sun required to be 'cleansed' before they would release the girl. "Here are the fuel field, probably simplest to hit them."
Voort saBinring, the team's Gamorrean member and local mathematics genius, snuffed loudly, "It's too bad, commander, that the targets will be docked on the other end of the port. If I may ..."
"No, me! Me!" Elassar Targon was hopping up and down, "Ooh, it's not fair! You promised I could point it out next time! Why is it always him?" He was raising his hands above his head, nearly flapping them in his excitement. "Oh, please! Pick me, commander!"
Face Loran nodded and Elassar pointed to the appropriate areas of the holo and gestured broadly, "We move the targets to the fuel field!"
Everyone applauded and the Devaronian bowed, with hand flourishes.
Runt Ekwesh bellowed over the noise, "Or the fuel field to the targets!" They further mouthed "ooh" and "aah" in mock-admiration and giggled a lot. That was when Face sent them off in groups to come up with ideas. It was a method that had always worked well for this unit, dating back from their origins as a starfighter squadron under the legendary Wedge Antilles.
They had soon hammered out a simple plan that would probably work, if the staff could be distracted, if the fuel deliveries were on schedule, if the security scanners could be fooled, if the wind direction was right, and it was a day when there were a lot of people in the port, but no one would get hurt.
* * * * *Passengers were running and shoving to get to the newly announced entry gate. The customs and visa office had decided to decrease the terrorism threat to the planet by reducing the efficiency with which visitors could be processed. It led to occasional rioting at the spaceport.
It was a sort of lottery to get through the processing stations. New gates would be announced from time to time and the people would clamor to try and be the first through. The officers referred to it as "aerating the crowd."
Several Wraiths in various and appropriate costumes were salted throughout the throng. For once, the Thakwassh and Gamorrean could be part of the milling groups, rather than being forced to hide their distinctive selves and being relegated to support functions. They both relished being able to shove along with everyone else. Both Runt and Piggy were small for their species, and they didn't attract any notice. It's just as well because they were really enjoying themselves too much.
In any case, this ensured they would not be out of place for the fireworks.
* * * * *Kell Tainer was in a hotel on the far side of the field, watching out the window at the progress of the maintenance and custodial staff of the spaceport. As he tracked their movements, he tried not to notice the fat woman clinging to him in bed. They had made love a dozen times since they'd arrive here, but she was insatiable and wanted more. In fact, since they'd met, Kell's tally for lovemaking with this woman numbered in the hundreds, and he was in danger of forgetting what day it was.
They met by apparent accident, less than a week ago, in the gardens of the Sisters of Youth convent. She had been sitting in the garden, peering out through a hole in the durocrete wall. Agni was without enemies these days, for she had aged the children who had teased her homliness, so that they died soon after. No one knew she had performed this awful deed, and had assumed there was a virus going around. It was the perfect crime. Her uncle knew of her ability, of course, and feared it. He had funded the spiritual movement and had installed Agni there for safekeeping, hoping that the nuns there would restrain the girl from using her talent.
Agni had no remorse about using her ability, but often did it without conscious effort, which made it harder to control. She understood it was wrong -- the sisters at the convent had explained this to her -- and she was wondering if it would be better if she simply took a vow of chastity and humility and just stopped wondering about the outside world.
On that particular day, she was very lonely and wishing for a friend -- perhaps someone who wasn't afraid of her, and who didn't know about her ability to 'youthen' or age people. She didn't want to think about taking the vows today. Agni just wanted to be normal. Someone who would just drop in for a drink, like in the holomovies, she sighed to herself sadly. That was when the man called Cornelius tumbled out of tree above her and landed on her roughly. It was the first time a man had actually touched her and she was much too excited to scream.
He had clamored off her quickly and apologized. He was lost, and had tried to take a shortcut across some neighboring gardens but he noticed that many of them had vicious watchpets. So he came upon a plan to climb and swing on the trees and walls, but he had lost his grip and fell on her. He was ever so sorry, what could he do to make it up to her?
Agni was impressed by the beautiful young man. He was the first to not run away from her! Subconsciously, she touched up his features so that he became more youthful and more handsome.
She tested her legs and said she thought she twisted her ankle, could he help her back into the house, and maybe help her soak it? He quickly came to her side (feeling suddenly more youthful and energetic) and put his arm around her rounded shoulders, "Lean on me, I'll support you." She relished his touch and shyly asked if he'd rub her ankle for her once they got inside.
Agni felt a strange sensation run over her as his strong fingers massaged her bare flesh. She squeaked in her effort to hold in her scream.
Kell tried not to scream himself as he made the ugly girl orgasm just by rubbing her foot.
* * * * *He told her she was lovely. True, not in a classical sense, but he charmed her by telling her how her beautiful personality leached through her large pores and imbued her with charm. She ate up his poetic words, and was panting with desire for him.
Kell had never seen a female so obviously in heat. It made timing his moves very simple, but he kept feeling like he was taking advantage of a very large nuna. And even though he knew in advance that she was virginal, half-human and many years his senior, he hadn't expected her voracious sexual appetite nor that putting himself into her would feel almost exactly like the time he drilled a hole in a sunfruit. (He had been young and inexperienced; it had been his very first lovemaking effort with something or someone other than himself.) It was surprisingly nostalgic.
After the dozenth time, Kell actually enjoyed making love to Agni. He started to tease her, asking her to do things that other girls might find offensive or quirky. Somehow, her rather cartoonish body proportions made it okay to ask her to perform these openly kinky acts. He had her dress in a little skirt of feathers, so she looked rather exactly like a plump swimming bird. She even waddled and made clucking noises, making him laugh. Agni wasn't offended; she was delighted to please her young lover. He made love to her in the corridors outside the nuns' rooms, with his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. They performed in the middle of the roadway in the middle of the night, or in the garden during the day. Kell could explore all the kinky schoolboy fantasies from his past with Agni, stuff that he didn't have the nerve to try with previous lovers. She even didn't mind when he called her dirty and silly names during the act itself!
Kell used to imagine Tyria, his girlfriend, when first enduring the experience with Agni. He simply needed to do it in order to get "in the mood." But after the twentieth time or so, he was surprised to discover that he didn't need to think of Tyria anymore. The fat girl was keen to make up for lost time, and -- he hated to admit it -- Agni was rapidly becoming the best lay he'd ever had. He was amazed at how many times she managed to get him up and ready, and how great he felt with her. Agni was a natural!
So when he proposed that she come with him to the spaceport, she didn't hesitate at all. Without bothering to pack, she left the convent behind, not even looking back as she walked with him on back roads till they found an unsecured speeder, which Kell hot-wired. Agni giggled with glee at his boldness, and thought to herself she had never had fun like this! Kell, on the other hand, was startled at the extreme guilt he was feeling about this easy kidnapping.
Agni's uncle Dei had arranged for surveillance to watch his sister's bastard daughter, and was delighted that his homely niece was apparently so happy. In fact, he thought her glee actually made her kind of attractive, and he knew he was making the right decision. In truth, he loved his niece, and hated to see her moping and sulking, and considered this a gift to her, even if it was fated to turn out badly. After all, in real life, what did a handsome boy like that want with his ugly duckling? No, this trade-off was the best he could hope for her. In all honesty, he was rather relieved that he would never see her again. The sacrifice would be worth it, and Agni would understand, surely, even if the New Republic did not keep their end of the bargain.
* * * * *At the hotel, Kell tried to keep his mind on his mission parameters as he thrust into the chubby girl for the thousandth time since they'd arrived. Her back arched as she stretched herself, tightening her muscles around him. He had planned to tire her out so he could perform his mission tasks undisturbed, but he would probably lose that battle.
"Cornie, darling, come away from the window, sweetie." Agni had discovered that her lover liked having the back of his neck licked.
Kell didn't stifle a giggle, "Don't do that! Give me a rest, woman! Or I'll make you wear the feathers again!"
The female shrieked and tackled him, so that he lay flat on his back, where he passively watched her gyrating over their joining. She "youthened" them both so that their endurance would improve. But finally, she tired herself out and snored gently as he slid out from beneath her. He locked and bolt-coded the door, in case she awoke and tried to leave. Kell made sure to leave a note letting Agni know that he went to forage for some food, and would be back with a picnic meal, so she wouldn't panic.
It was an easy matter to steal a uniform. Dressed as a mechanic, he mounted the detonation devices he had built onto a power-up grid. As the simple droids were fed enough power, they trundled away to their distant targets, attaching themselves onto the fuel tanks or the electronics boards, whichever were warmer. These devices would communicate to each other, as well as to a computer via a proprietary frequency. On signal, or when preprogrammed conditions were met, the devices would run through their assigned tasks. After they were done, they would be perform the ultimate sacrifice and destruct completely.
* * * * *The Wraiths had infiltrates the spaceport in various jobs and capacities. Dia and Elassar were customer service representatives inside the passenger terminal, Piggy and Runt were irate passengers in steerage, and everyone else but Kell were working in the platforms and control offices. Kell would act as lookout, while babysitting Agni.
The fuel field was quite a standard one, consisting of large cylinders fed by an intake pipeline on top of each container, and a outflow pipe that fed into a common trunkline which was directed toward the maintenance and docking bays. Intermittently, other gas and solvent lines joined the main pipeline, so that fuel mixes could be customized for the many different vehicles using the spaceport facilities.
The plan was to make the targeted destruction of the vessels look like part of an unfortunate accident. The appropriate ships and container targets were to be hooked up to the trunk line at a specified time. A maintenance flaw would result in an explosion along the common trunk line, feeding the flames into the storage cylinders and toward the ships. Kell's 'droids would destroy electronics and detonate on cue. In truth, the targets would not be full of fuel, but instead would be drained of it, allowing oxygen and air to seep into the otherwise empty tank. The fumes would create a volatile mix that would explode and rip the ship apart into small shrapnel. Kell's devices would enhance the experience for the ship by feeding electromagnetic pulses circuitously into the ship's main computer memories. They would not only erase data, but the circuits would be timed to overheat and further the damage and permanently shut down the ship's physical systems.
To ensure the appropriate targets were all hit, Shalla had taken a position in the administration and scheduling center for the port, and had manipulated the assignments. Other innocent ships would be somewhat banged up, but the explosions would do no more than horrific cosmetic damages to them. They'd look bad, but the repairs to make them spaceworthy would be cheap.
Inside the passenger terminal, Piggy's vocoder had been modified to receive messages from Shalla and Kell. That way, he could signal to the others how the timing was progressing. Dia and Elassar took turns being incompetent and/or misleading with passenger queries; it was basically business as usual. Other times, they would just be bureaucratically stubborn to frustrate the customers and enhance their bad mood.
The signal was given, and a tiny o-ring between pipes in the trunk line failed; a truck passed by too closely and grazed the pipe -- not enough to break it, but enough to weaken it. The fuel supply pressure dropped as the ships in the bays input a simultaneous demand for fuel. A maintenance worker at the control center opened another feed valve to compensate for the lack of flow. The spaceport was looking to upgrade to automated systems within the decade, but for now, it was cheaper to employ a live person to do this task. But it was a boring job, and the being performing the task tended to not pay much attention to the readings.
Of course, the failed o-ring crumbled away and the valved leaked, allowing incompatible solvents to mix. Though this seems like a small thing, it is normally defined in maintenance manuals as "catastrophic," since the result is a potentially lethal cocktail of volatile gases. And that's what happened.
In a well-maintained piping system, the explosion might have been contained within a specifically contained "safety zone." Instead, the weakened spot where Face had "accidentally" grazed the overground piping also failed, and an explosion full of heat, light and sound ripped the section apart. The fireball was large enough to breach into adjacent safety zones and ignite them as well.
The vacuum caused by the demand for fuel, as well as by the empty tanks within the targeted vessels themselves, sucked the superheated plasma directly into them. Kell's 'droids pulsed with the heat signature and melted down the systems, and cause failure of the ship's own safety features and devices. To add to the total destruction of the targets, the devices themselves detonated on location, where they could do the most damage. Of course, they were made of rather normal substances and were no more than a spoonful of ash mixed with all the other destruction products resulting from the missions. Analysis of the ash would resolve nothing, even if authorities knew where to look.
Within the passenger terminal, Dia and Elassar played their roles as dull and poorly paid representatives of the commercial passenger lines and screamed, "FIRE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!" then proceded to run themselves, igniting the panic. Piggy and Runt bellowed and shoved, further inciting the crowd. Several loading and maintenance speeders crashed outside the terminal, some actually breaking through the transparisteels walls.
Kell watched the sequences and signaled to Piggy as each target blew up. Piggy and Runt responded by herding the passengers and staff around and around to create the most confusing pattern of witnessed events. Piggy had formulated this mathematically, and the apparent chaos was actually a calculated and well-ordered pattern. Everyone admired the Gamorrean's cleverness.
In the end, there were no deaths, several major injuries and many minor ones. Despite the many potential witnesses to the explosions and accidents, the Wraiths had panicked the crowd so thoroughly that no single picture could be surmised on analysis.
Agni woke up from her nap when a nearby building collapse with a roar. Kell, acting the part, scooped her up and ran out of the hotel room and brought her outside. She was crying and clinging to him, babbling about having a bad dream.
* * * * *Elassar had tried to drug Agni for the trip back to Coruscant, but her physiology seemed to resist normal sedatives. The corpsman's efforts just confused her further and she kept crying and couldn't be left alone. Kell was forced to stay with her, and the poor man felt he had to explain why she was in this shuttle. Unfortunately, she wasn't listening. At least he managed to keep her focused on him, so that none of the crew suffered from her ability to age them.
To further his pain, Tyria had walked in on Kell as he was making love to Agni, and she had heard her lover assure the dumpy woman that he'd never leave her. Tyria, who was otherwise an understanding and sympathetic woman, chose this moment to "need" to have a discussion about their relationship. He, of course, couldn't do that in front of Agni, and had to ask Face to take Tyria away from him. The beautiful blonde was wailing and weeping and Face had to bodily remove her from Kell's cabin.
Later, when Agni had been delivered to NR Intelligence, Kell tried avoiding Tyria, but of course, no man is a match for a determined woman. He tried assuring her that it was just a mission, just like hundreds of others; but he had to admit that making love to her wasn't a turn-on anymore. After the frequent and kinky sex he'd had with Agni, Tyria was just too bland and tame for him. Also, he was feeling suddenly old and tired, and he realized that the "youthening" that Agni had done to him during sex was one of the things he'd missed.
As usual after such a mission, Kell was in counseling and appeared to get better. But he knew that even over time, he'd never get over the guilt and desire he had for his target. He started looking forward to difficult missions so he could avoid Tyria. In turn, Tyria started talking about leaving the unit and going back to Toprawa.
Many months later, he went to General Cracken to see if he could visit Agni, but the General, knowing about Kell's problems, denied him access. He assured him that his lover was being "taken care of" and that he needn't worry. To keep the link between the Black Sun remnant and the New Republic secret, all information and knowledge of the mission was highly classified, and even the team members who performed the task were not privy to any details.
None of the Wraiths ever knew what happened to Agni. She might have been dead; killing her was an acceptable result to the mission, after all. No news concerning the use of her strange talent ever reached them, and the team members continued to age as normal. It was clear to all of them that she had been sacrificed by her uncle in exchange for destruction of the spaceport and vessels full of "difficult" contraband.
Kell finally ended up going to a small spiritual center run by the Sisters of Youth. He was unsure why he was there, or what he should do, but he missed Agni and wanted her to know he was sorry. For the very first time in his life, he earnestly prayed for the well-being of someone else.
He recognized a melody the choir was chanting, and he remembered it from the convent Agnus Dei had lived in. It was even possible that the hymn was about her, with the theme of sacrificing one being for the good of all beings. Kell let the tears flow down as the music and words washed over him:
O Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace ...
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