Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’


Inspired by Vorcha Girl’s playlist for her Shepard character from Mass Effect, I wanted to post the playlist I made for one of my characters from Star Wars: The Old Republic: Jeana, the Light side Sith warrior.

Theme Music

“Break On Through (To the Other Side) [Remix]” by BT vs. The Doors — Jeana’s theme song. As a Sith, she’s seen the other side.

“Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani– Jeana, Vette and Jaesa are three badass women. They ain’t no hollaback girls and they’ll knock you the eff out.

“Goddess” by Soho — Jeana’s a true heroine, fighting darkness when there’s no other light but hers.

“D’Artagnan” by Michael Kamen — This epitomizes Jeana as a low-level character: incredible potential, hopeful, full of life and a dash of well-deserved arrogance.

Dance Music

I was playing through Jeana’s missions while I was first getting into the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. Any hero has a life outside of saving the world, and Jeana’s first love is dance. These are the kinds of songs she would enjoy dancing to.

“Peace and Love, Inc.” by Information Society — I first heard this song watching an NCAA gymnastics competition. The power, grace and fire that I saw remind me of Jeana.

“Trip Like I Do” by The Crystal Method — Jeana would shred a song like this!

“Right Here, Right Now” by Fatboy Slim — This too!

“Veins” by Charlotte Martin — Quirky, cool and mysterious. This is where science fiction veers into magic.

“Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon — And sometimes, you just dance like a badass.

Scene Music

“The Thorian” by Richard Jacques and Jack Wall — As a Sith, she’s fought a lot of nightmares.

“Distants” by Celldweller — Jeana watched the twin suns of Tatooine set beneath a stone arch the size of a mountain. With the dry air, sharp as a blade, she thought she could see every crevice, every crack and pit in the rock face. She said to Vette, “Now I understand why prophets come to the desert. It burns away what doesn’t matter.”

“Sand” by Nathan Lanier, featuring Karen Whipple — This is one of my favorites. The song opens as Jeana sees a vision on Tatooine that lays her destiny before her. Her childlike hopes for a peaceful Empire vanish. As much of a gut punch as it is, she sees what she has to do: join forces with a Jedi padawan who experiences the Force with as much passion as she does.

“Eptesicus” by Hans Zimmer — Having the will to act is the first step.

“Enter Sandman” by Metallica — Like I said above, sometimes she’s just a badass.

“Ra” by Nathan Lanier — There’s a villain in the game named Thana Vesh, a Sith who is Jeana’s equal: arrogant, fast, vicious, and fights like a tiger. This is the music for their confrontation in the middle of a burning space port.

“Girls With Guns” by Tommy Shaw — Jeana’s friend Vette carries twin blaster pistols and shoots them like a demon!

“Samara” by Jimmy Hinson — This captures the awesome power of the Force that surrounds her. I imagine Jeana walking into a room full of bad guys, trying to reason with them, then their sense of dread as she fires up her lightsaber, throws some across the room, and they realize how much trouble they’ve gotten themselves into.

“Mother vs. Daughter” by Jack Wall — “Jeana and the Sith fought like a bladed whispers. They moved too quickly to see.”

“Torn” by Nathan Lanier — Jeana is nearly killed by her Darth Baras, her master. Her mother picks up her lightsabers again to avenge her daughter. Darth Baras has no idea what fury he’s unleashed.

“Rise Above” by Veigar Margeirsson — Heroine or hero, anyone can have a crisis of faith.

“Bernini’s Angels” by Kerry Muzzey — Or as I call it, “Like Mother, Like Daughter.” Jeana and Raffa fight Darth Baras’ apprentices while her mother and father cut through his armies like chaff.

“Don’t Let Go Yet” by David Roch — On the verge of turning to the Dark side, Jeana finally finds something to give her hope. Vette sobs as she watches Jeana dance again.

“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons — Jeana defeats Darth Baras and takes her place as Darth Soleus. The Empire is about to change. Welcome to the new age. Roll the end credits!


Maybe I Organize Too Much

Posted: August 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Dubrillion Burning
Tags: , , ,

Dubrillion folder

I spent about an hour today working on organizing the “miscellaneous” pages for the novel. I swear there are more than 20.

In addition to real-life scene wall, now I have a virtual one, too. The benefit of doing all this is that I can see everything that this will help me keep track of the ideas I’ve written and where the arc of the story is going. The risk in doing all this is that I’ll spend all my time organizing and none of it writing, or that I’m going to bury stuff so deep inside folders that I’ll never find it again and it won’t help me anyway.

Which is why I’ll do some writing tonight, though you may not see it, as well as some writing for the mermaid story.


Posted: August 18, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , , , , , ,

wine corks

Raffa had his favorite gun – he called it Final Echo – pointed at general Kathal. He wanted to kill him, but he was only worth 100,000 dead. He was worth a cool million alive.

An explosion near the palace lit the window, casting Kathal’s face in shades of red. Kathal stared him down. He undid the catch on his holster, then curled his fingers around the grip of his sidearm. He drew the weapon. Raffa waited. The general raised it to point at Raffa.

The corner of Raffa’s mouth curled up. “Well. Now we have a situation. Wanna play catch?”

“Shoot, captain.”

“As much as I’d like to, I want you in one piece. I can probably squeeze a bonus if you’re not even scratched.”

Kathal didn’t move. He knew that if his fingers fluttered or a muscle twitched, Raffa would fire. And he would probably kill him.

“Have you ever been to Alzarius?” Kathal asked.

“I do good shipping with wine there,” Raffa said.

“I consider it my second home. We have a vineyard on one of the southern continents.”

Raffa chuckled, without moving Echo. “You know, I think I’ve bought some of your wine. Is there a chardonnay called Autumn?”

Kathal tried not to smile, but a grin cracked his face. “We do. I particularly enjoyed coming up with that blend. It was challenging mix of apples and fall scents. Did you like the cinnamon?” His sidearm moved a touch down. Raffa saw a muscle tremor in his shoulder.

“I don’t drink wine, myself. Some of my friends enjoy it.”

“A pity that you haven’t tried it. I think you would enjoy it.”

Raffa saw tremors in Kathal’s tricep and elbow. They didn’t buckle, yet. It was like watching a breeze blow through his torso. Another artillery strike hit the ground nearby, rolling the ground under their feet. Raffa’s arm held steady. His eyes did, too.

“Ever been to Dantooine in the spring?”

“I’ve gone hunting there. And you?”

“Camping. I like the Acadia hills. Once I saw a herd of wild horses on a migration. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.”

Kathal’s chest lifted up and down as he breathed. “I can only imagine. We have red eagles on Nordena that fly magnificent circles with their mates in the spring.

Raffa saw a twitch in his cheek. He was a tough son of a bitch. Raffa gave him that much credit. The twitching spread.

Kathal lowered his sidearm. He slowly flipped the weapon in his hand and lifted it again toward Raffa. “I’m your prisoner, captain.”

“Thanks very much, general. I hoped it wouldn’t get ugly.” Raffa kept his blaster aimed at the general and took his sidearm with his free hand. He gestured toward the door.

“I admire your willpower,” Kathal said. He began walking toward the door, his back still straight. He looked like a man prepared to face his fate.

“You know how it is. It’s for more than card games.”

A little something to get back into the groove. This was based on a scene from the science fiction cartoon Star Blazers, also called Space Battleship Yamato. The hero and a bad guy finally come face to face while battle rages outside.

I have a hard drive and I have MS Office again, but some of my applications still need to be reloaded. Remote backups are good for saving files but they’re not perfect. I think I’ll buy an external hard drive and start using Mac’s “Time Machine” application.

Photo credit: “Wine Corks!” by peddhapati at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

This is the first fanfic piece I wrote for my Star Wars: The Old Republic characters. Cartog, the Imperial Agent, meets Jeana, the Sith Warrior, while Cartog is visiting Korriban, the training ground for new Sith.

Cartog and Kaliyo went to the medical ward after their meeting with Darth Zhorrid. It was a busy section, busier than you would’ve expected at any academy but this one. Cartog didn’t know of any clinics on Hutta. Gang members were treated by their friends or in one of the palaces by the Hutts’ doctors. There might’ve been one in the capital city.

They sat on adjoining bunks and waited for the next available medical droid. Cartog’s eyebrows went up when saw an honest-to-God human doctor. Several. As he kept looking around the room, he saw that they looked as young and green as the dozen or so Sith acolytes who were being treated.

The acolytes were in their late teens and low twenties, not much younger than himself. All wore black. All radiated the rabid arrogance of Sith that Cartog had met. All had training swords at their sides or within easy reach. Cartog wasn’t sure if they kept them as a mark of warrior’s honor, as a symbol of their status as Sith, or if they felt threatened by the other wounded rags in the ward. Probably all three. Two were unconscious that he could see, and a few others were laying flat on their backs and moaning as the doctors tried to administer pain killers. The wounds were a variety, too. Mauls, slashes that might have been sword cuts, blaster fire… it was a little bit of everything.

While Cartog was studying the medical ward, the young girl on the bunk next to him was studying him. Cartog looked back. The girl said nothing despite being stared at, which made an impression on him. He amended what he’d thought earlier. This one didn’t radiate arrogance, at all.

She couldn’t have been more than seventeen years old. She had short blonde hair tied back off her face, and the large, beautiful brown eyes of a fawn. The girl had the graceful build of a dancer or gymnast. Her easy confidence reached out to him, like she’d seen it all before.

She smiled at him, and cocked her head to the side. “Are you in Intelligence?” she asked.

Well! “What makes you say that?” he asked casually.

“Well, for starters, you’re not a student. You’re carrying a blaster, and rather than a sword, you’re carrying a knife.” She shifted her weight on her bunk to get more comfortable. Cartog noticed she was holding a field dressing on her leg. She followed his eyes there. “Just a scratch. Anyway, you’re wearing armor, but it’s lighter than the heavy stuff the troopers wear.”

“You’re on a roll,” he said. There was much more here than met the eye.

She grinned. “It looks like it’s been used a lot lately. It also looks new, and in pretty good condition, so I don’t think you’re a bounty hunter.” She jerked her chin toward Kaliyo. “Your friend might be, but you’re not. You’re Imperial, and that leaves Intelligence.”

Kaliyo snorted. He offered his hand. “Cartog.”

She shook hands with him. “Jeana Lysset. No last name?”

“I could tell you but I’d have to kill you. Training accident?”

“Training,” she said. “This is every day. But what happened to you?”

“I had an audience with Darth Zhorrid. She wanted to see what we were made of. A few of her servants paid the price for it.”

Jeana sighed. It was Cartog’s turn to tilt his head to her. “You don’t approve?”

“The acolytes put their faith in their masters. Their lives shouldn’t be thrown away for theater.”

“I’ve met a handful of Sith, including two members of the Dark Council, and not counting the ghosts in the temple on Dromund Kaas.” He wasn’t joking. “You aren’t like any Sith I’ve ever met.” Jeana lowered her head shyly, looking more like the teenager she still was. He continued, “You’re smart, respectful, and you have a stitch of honor.”

“Just a stitch,” she said with a wink.

Oh, he liked her.

As he was heading to the shuttle platform, he walked past the outer ruins of the temple. About a hundred yards off, he could see a field of training areas for the Sith acolytes. Training swords flashed like dozens of gold splinters in the sunlight. From left to right, the students and lessons ranged from the beginners to the deadliest. There were only three training circles in use at the farthest right. In one of them, a girl with familiar blonde hair fought three students who looked older than she was.

Jeana was magnificent. Hypnotic. She knew, or her body knew, what her opponents would do before they did it. Cartog didn’t know anything about the Force, but watching her move brought thoughts of music into his mind, buffeting his soul in waves. He could feel her passion from here.

She made them look silly. Her effortless dodges slipped into vicious, needle-dart strikes that left two of the three completely off balance at any time. She took them apart, one at a time, until all three were unconscious or holding their wounds on the ground.

As if she’d known he was there, she looked directly at him, smiled, and waved. The lethal Sith who’d just taken out three opponents looked like the fresh-faced seventeen-year-old he’d met in the med center.

Cartog waved back. He smiled and gave her a gang sign from Hutta. It was a backwards peace sign that meant ‘long life.’ “Good luck, Jeanie,” he said to himself. He hoped he’d see her again someday.

Risha and Jeana talking about battle plans at the end of the story. Yes, this is jumping way ahead. For all I know I’ll never use this scene. I wrote it for a few reasons:

I wanted to see Risha and Jeana acting like Elizabeth and Walsingham.
I wanted to see Risha acting like a queen, where her criminal genius background came into play.
I wanted to write a scene that passed the Bechdel test.

Artillery explosions rumbled in the distance. A smear of fire glowed over the lip of the horizon, like early sunrise. The city and the enemy positions burned. Risha heard a hiss, then a clatter of falling bombs. Air strike. She considered having coffee. Someone had left a pot of it by the map deck.

“Still strategizing?”

Risha looked up. Jeana walked in, looking strangely calm. “Don’t you get tired?” Risha asked.

“Battle meditation. I know how to relax myself so I can sleep.”

“I wish I could do that.”

“You’re doing fine so far. I’ll teach you a few techniques when we have a moment.” She looked at the coffee pot. “You need sleep more than caffeine.”

“I couldn’t sleep. Better to just keep busy than lay there fighting it.”

Jeana nodded toward the map. “What are you thinking about?”

“The fucking Fels. We need them to attack, in force, from the north. Otherwise in a week we’ll be up to our britches in Ro’s troops. The problem is they’re known for their patience, not their ferocity. They’ll fight when it suits them. Let someone else do the bleeding.”

Risha rubbed her eyes. She yawned. She couldn’t see, but Jeana smiled at it. “I have two ideas on that. First, sweeten the deal. Soften up the enemy position so they can get a decisive victory. They’ll have something to crow about and I’ll pretend I’m impressed.

“Second, bring the battle to them. Hit Ro to the west so that they retreat east. It’ll drive them into Fel. Better to fight Fel than us. Fel outnumbers them two to one. They’ll still win but it’ll be bloody.”

“Fel will be bleeding rather than us.”

“That’s it. “

“Play it out for me.”

“We’re in the end game. Everyone knows it. No one’s worried about the win, or justice. They’re thinking ahead to the next move.

“Fel wants to keep Staven’s lands. We don’t have enough power to force them to give it back. They earned them with blood, but we fought this war for freedom, not conquest.

“I want Ro. I want to put him on trial and make his end a symbol for the planet’s new beginning. I’ll take his head, too. Either one works.

“The worst case for me is that Ro escapes to Fel and they grant him safe haven. No trial, nothing. It’s a mockery of what we fought for. Fel holds him as revenge because I didn’t give them Staven lands.

Jeana waited. Risha folded her arms. “Rekkish Fel is a chess player. He already has what he wants. All he has to do is sit still, leave his armies where they are, and wait for the game to end. If he gets his hands on Ro, he has leverage on me to validate his claim on Staven lands.”

“What if you don’t?”

“Then I’ve made an enemy.” Risha smiled. “Which he already is, anyway. So nothing lost there. Nobody else in the aristocracy wants Fel to have those lands. They’ll stand behind me. The Fels leave Staven and I’m stuck with rebuilding the country. The citizens of Staven, and even Ro, are grateful to me for not letting them be wrung out by Fel.”

Jeana nodded. “Ro is only a symbol. Like that crown Merritt was so worried about.”

“I still want his head.” And she did. People craved symbols. And the bastard had tried to kill her three times. Justice mattered.

Risha brushed her finger along the troop positions on the map. She tapped the citadel in the center. Ro’s palace. A dangerous, daring idea was taking shape in her head.

“What is it?” Jeana asked.

“If Ro is gone, his inner council will crumble. Ro’s army surrenders.” Risha pressed her finger on the citadel. “One more lightning strike. Could we do it?”

Jeana laughed. She stopped. “You’re serious?”

“General Tsavo told me today that he has a division of paratroops that are itching to assault the citadel just to have a chance at taking the bastard alive. I told him no. The cost in lives is too great.”

“I’m guessing 25% casualties at least.”

“I did a bank heist on Ularov once. We started a fire in the building next door. We arrived disguised among the fire company—they were cut in for half—and we worked on the safe while they took their time with the fire. We blew a power feed to cover our tracks on the way out. Worked like a charm.” Risha drew a circle around one of Ro’s units on the eastern flank. “That’s our fire company.”

Jeana’s eyes widened. “Are you sure?”

“They’ve already parleyed with us on a prisoner exchange. Their commander would have been shot for treason if Ro knew.”

“If Jaesa can get close enough, she can give us a sense of whether or not they’ll help us.”

Risha laughed. She leaned on the table. Risha hung her head, still smiling. “I feel like a ten-kilo weight just came off my head.”

“It must be have been your crown.”

“Maybe. Thanks, Je. On that note, I’m going to bed.” Jeana bowed. “Knock it off. I’m still just Risha to you.”

Risk game map

Maybe I should use this map

Post #45 of the Dubrillion Burning series

I originally came up for the names of the royal houses of Dubrillion using The Star Wars Random Name Generator, which is where I get a lot of the names in this story.

The Bad Guys The Good Guys Neutral
Da Res

I came up with the name “Kala Ro” when I first had to put a name to the usurper king. For some reason I thought it should be a short, three-syllable name, something punchy and aggressive. I like it but I don’t love it. We’ll see if it sticks.

For simplicity’s sake, I started out assuming that Dubrillion was about the same size as Earth, with about the same population. Maybe less; maybe much less, even as little as 1/10th as much, which to me is still a very populated world. The more technologically advanced the civilization is, the less population you need for farming or industry. While Dubrillion isn’t a frontier wasteland like Tatooine, it’s at the edge of the galaxy, and the Star Wars wiki doesn’t have much more to say about it other than it’s lush and pretty. So while it may have some good things to offer, it’s not an industrial, technological, educational, or cultural hub.

Next, also for simplicity’s sake, I assumed that four or five evil houses that were ruling the planet, including the usurper’s, and on the order of a dozen weaker houses opposed them. Combined, they’re stronger, but alliances are very, very tricky to keep together. To spice things up a bit, I’m currently leaning toward five evil houses, six good guy houses, and five neutral houses. They might be small fry, or they might be opportunists. I need to work all that out.

So there are 16 houses, on a planet the size of Earth. Over time, whatever nations originally populated Dubrillion unified themselves along geographic and cultural boundaries that formed the houses we have today. Here’s the first stab that I took at how the houses break out geographically:

Central America
South America
South America
Sub-Saharan Africa
Northern Africa
Da Res

The names above are rough geographic zones for the houses. Note, these are not parallels to our Earth in culture, weather, or resources. For example, I’m assuming that Antarctica is littered with volcanoes and hot springs that generate enough heat that it’s bearable to live there underground, and that it’s rich in natural resources.

When I first started thinking about it, there were no neutral houses. Based on the geography above, here’s how I saw the rebellion shaping up:

Indonesia (Da Res) and China (Rinald) knock Australia (Laurent) out of the war quickly, if Rinald can’t cut a deal with them to stay neutral.

Central America (Montari) would hold on bravely against South America (Foda) but it’d only be a matter of time.

Locke and Widom (Africa) would attack Europe (Bishto) from the south while India and Russia (Hannica and Fel) would attack from the east. Bishto would fight bitterly but they can’t hold against so much force.

This puts the king in a vise. Rinald invades over Alaska and Fel hits from the sea. By now, someone’s probably fired nukes in desperation.

Now, if some of these houses are neutral or the militaries aren’t evenly matched, things become much more interesting. I don’t know much about geopolitics, but I do know that everyone is out for themselves. Everyone. This is where Risha’s ability to see angles and play sides will earn her a seat at the bargaining table.

Photo credit: “Risk game map” by Orthuberra at Wikimedia Commons
Photo is unmodified
Shared under GNU Free Documentation License

Post #44 of the Dubrillion Burning series

All right, spell it out.

Dubrillion is a constitutional monarchy. Normally, the king appoints his successor with the consent of the aristocracy. When Arak Drayen was overthrown, the ruling family was murdered. There was no lawful succession. When this happens, the aristocracy can appoint a new king. The usurper had enough allies to get himself appointed.

Nok’s father’s body was someone else’s, with the genes manipulated to appear to be him. Arak must have prepared for this as a contingency in case someone tried to take his crown. Everyone thought the Drayens were dead. That’s why no one hunted them. That’s why Ro goes ballistic when he finds out Risha’s alive and getting ready to marry his greatest rival.

Then what?

I did some wiki research on the legend of Anastasia Romanov — the real one and the Disney one. So, let’s say that Soviet Russia doesn’t work and slowly falls apart over the twenty years after the czars are deposed. Let’s say that Anastasia is really alive and comes forward as riots are breaking out across her country. People rally behind her as she promises food, liberty and prosperity.

Risha’s not as messianic as that, but that’s the image I used to start.

Risha has the strongest claim to the throne but it isn’t enough. She needs the approval of the nobles. If she comes forward, she’s a hero of the Republic, but she has no land, no army, no people behind her other than her friends. Bad ending: She’s killed before she can take the throne back. The Drayen line ends and usurper’s rule becomes legitimate if the aristocracy agrees. Worse ending: the usurper captures her, threatens her friends with being tortured to death, and forces her to marry him.

That’s why she needs Rinald. This is where the politicking comes into play. To the aristocracy, voting for her is actually voting to put their buddy Rinald in power. They don’t know they’re getting a real queen, too. Merritt’s smart enough to be impressed with Risha’s war record, but even he doesn’t fully realize what he’s getting into.

Since Risha’s claim is valid no matter who she marries, she would have been approached by multiple noble houses. She would have done research on all of them and already come up with a short list of the ones she wanted to meet. That also means background checks on her suitors. Some of those rejected would be bitter and angry, others would be willing to form alliances with her when she comes to power. If Rinald is the most popular noble on Dubrillion, I’m assuming that his house is one of the most powerful.

Continued Friday in Part III: The Royal Houses.

I’m heading on vacation for two weeks, so I’ve laid out posts that are going to be published automatically while I’m away. “Likes” are always appreciated and I’ll do my best to respond to comments when I get back, but I can’t promise anything. Take care and I’ll see you on the other side!

Post #43 of the Dubrillion Burning series

I’m thinking about the political background that Risha is walking into, where she fits in, and how it all comes together. Spoilers ahead if you plan to play Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Here’s the background from the game.

Risha’s grandfather, Arak Drayen III, was the last of a dynasty of war heroes that ruled the planet Dubrillion. He was overthrown and killed by his nobles for reasons that aren’t described. The game paints him as a harsh, cruel king. We don’t get to see his son, but we assume he escaped and fathered Nok Drayen, who became a legendary crime lord during the war between the Sith Empire and the Republic which precedes the game. Risha is Nok’s daughter, and spent her youth becoming a criminal mastermind while dreaming of returning to Dubrillion’s throne. She lives in hiding, because the usurper wants to stamp out the Drayen family line.

Fast forward through the game: Risha meets Raffa (that’s what I named my “smuggler” character), a fast-shooting, fast-talking, hell on hyperjets charmer and free trader, who becomes the most daring and successful privateer in the Republic. As I see it, while he’s doing that, Risha makes connections with Alderaan royalty, captains of Corellian industry, Jedi and members of the Republic senate, positioning herself to return to the throne.

Enter Count Merritt Rinald — it’s actually “Rineld,” but I’ll keep my spelling for now. Rinald is the most popular noble on Dubrillion, where the king has become very un-popular. He’s apparently losing his sense of reason. My thought is that, besides old age and too many lifespan extension treatments, he’s been obsessed with killing Risha ever since she let it be known that she’s still alive. She’s foiled multiple attempts on her life. The king’s power base is unstable. Rinald believes that Dubrillion would rally behind a return of the Drayen dynasty. She needs to join the aristocracy, so he offers her his hand in marriage. She says yes.

This is where I pick up the story. Brainstorming follows.

What I don’t like about this is that Risha is important because Dubrillion will rally behind a return to the last dynasty. Risha is a symbol and that’s all. Unacceptable. So let’s turn the problem on its head. Risha isn’t an outsider looking for a claim to the throne — Risha is the one who has the BEST claim to the throne. Nobody has a lawful claim to the throne EXCEPT Risha. That’s what makes her so dangerous to the current king.

Continued Wednesday in Part II: Path to the Throne.

Just thought I’d whip together something fun for tonight. I love poker movies like Rounders.

Post #42 of the Dubrillion Burning series

Sutter turned the next to last of the river cards — four of diamonds. The river showed ace of hearts, four of diamonds, three of diamonds, jack of clubs. The tricky part of playing Devil Poker was that the fifth card wasn’t turned over until the players decided whether or not they were in. Raffa had the jack of diamonds and the jack of hearts as his hole cards.

Sutter threw in his chips. “Five hundred.” Raffa heard the brush of an Imperial accent in his voice again. He’d placed weak bets off the flop and the turns. He was acting like he had a flush.

Raffa put his hands behind his on his belt, nodding slowly. He was thinking. It was also his signal to Corso, who stood nursing a beer behind him, to look for trouble.

Teddy, a skinny Corellian with bad breath, tossed down his cards, swearing something close to “pig dog donkey bugger” in Gutter slang. Damon, a blond gun runner from Tatooine, folded too.

Beryl smiled sweetly. She always did when she was about to take your money. “Five,” she said, staying in. Beryl had placed the same bets all the way through. Raffa was guessing she had a straight, topping at the ace.

“I’m in, and I’ll raise you two thousand,” Raffa said.

Sutter smiled. “This is a dangerous game you’re playing, Mr. Korsaro.” There. A light twang in the word game. He wanted Raffa to hear it. Raffa saw someone in the crowd behind Sutter with good sight lines who became still.

“Really? I call it Tuesday night.” Where Sutter couldn’t see, Raffa brushed the edge of his blaster with his thumb.

Sutter pushed his chips in. “Ten thousand. All in.”

Beryl tossed down her cards. “Fucker!”

It wasn’t worth it. Raffa had more credits than that, but not here. To match his bet, Raffa had to put up the Comet. Sutter didn’t have the flush. With a bet like that, he was just done playing cards.

Raffa tossed down his cards. “Buy something nice.”

Sutter grinned, teeth spreading back to his ears like rows of bullets. Damon sat back in his chair. Teddy got up to get a drink. Raffa’s eyes never left Sutter.

Beryl reached across the table and flipped their cards and the Devil. Jack of Spades. Raffa had four of a kind, and Sutter almost had a flush.

“You had him!”

“For money, I’d make that play. For the Comet?” He shook his head.

“Well played, captain,” Sutter said.

“Well bankrolled, Imperial.”

Beryl froze. Sutter gestured toward the private booths. “Will you join me for a drink?”

It had sounded generous. It wasn’t a request. Beryl’s hand drifted toward her blaster. Raffa stood up. “If you’re buying? Sure.” His eyes ticked to Beryl. He waved her off below the table.

Two more Imperials waited in the booth, a Lyrian and a Cormian. Raffa ate some of the chips and guacamole in the middle of the table.

“They have the best guac in the galaxy here, don’t they?” Raffa said.

Raffa clapped Sutter on the back. If they were feigning friendship he might as well have fun with it. “So. You guys here long? Here to check out the dog races? I hear they allow bio-mods. Six legs, eight legs. If they can run, they’re legal.”

Sutter said, “Same as you. We’re here on a job. I like this station. My friends, not so much.”

Raffa held out his hands to the Lyrian. “Raffa Korsaro.”

“Tosha,” the Lyrian said. She shook Raffa’s hand, looking like she’d swallowed a gallon of bile. She didn’t like playing games. Inflexible. Easy to outfox but don’t fight her straight-up.

Raffa held out his hand to the Cormian. The Cormian reached for him with a funny set to his shoulder and his hand fixed like a claw. Raffa held back his hand. He said, “My friend, don’t move if you don’t want to die.” The Cormian’s eye twitched. On the other side of the bar, Corso had his pistol halfway out of its holster. He might burn Raffa’s arm but he could put a shot between the Cormian’s eyes from here.

Sutter chuckled. “Victor, there’s no need for that. Mr. Korsaro is our friend.”

Raffa grabbed Victor’s hand and shook it like they were old friends. He slapped his arm. Victor looked sick. He was a deadly weapon, good at killing.

Raffa sat down. A sweaty, breathless waiter with a dirty towel over his shoulder walked over. Some of the stains on the towel were red. Sutter said, “Give us a bottle of 24-year old Dantooine whiskey.”

Damn it. They even had that in their files? What else? His underwear size?

“We don’t have anything that good,” the waiter said.

“I hear the firewater here is good,” Raffa said.

“Firewater, then,” Sutter said. The waiter walked off. Sutter turned to Raffa. “You know when to walk away from a bad hand.”

“Depends on the stakes.”

“Your princess isn’t doing well. Her luck may get worse soon.”

“She’s a queen. I like her odds.”


This is how my brain works. It’s not pretty.

Post #41 of the Dubrillion Burning series

I promised myself that after the battle of Cainar spaceport was over, I’d try mapping out the story, just to see if I could do it. It’s far harder than I thought it would be.

I’ll start from here and see how far I can go. I’m going to keep it high-level because the first time I tried I got bogged down in the weeds.

The team has to go after the plasma bombs. That’s what kicked off the story and it needs resolution. In fact, I’m going to say that if the story was a five-act play, the end of act one has to be getting rid of the plasma bombs. Our heroes start out as newcomers, at least to this game. By the end the good guys, the bad guys, and the common people have all taken notice of who they are and what they’re trying to do.

So in act two, we raise the stakes.

Jeez. What’s higher than nukes?

Fate of the planet. People’s souls. Hearts and minds.

Something tangible.

Got it. They’re driving on Ro’s forces. At the same time, Risha gets to use her diplomatic skills and her smarts to drive wedges between Ro and his allies. (I get to challenge my creativity to figure out what the ever-living gesundheit that would look like.) People are noticing Risha and getting drawn to her as a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, the Republic and the Empire both start taking steps to intercede in their own interest. There are a multitude of smaller threads that involve the other characters, but this is all about Risha.

And then, turning point. Risha has gotten too good too fast and people in power are threatened. Assassination attempt? Betrayal? Powers that be setting her up? Something like that. Nemesis? Maybe but I can’t see one for her. There’s no one like her—that’s what makes her so dangerous as an enemy, in the field and politically. Enemy gets smart and she suffers a crushing defeat? Or they go after her friends. Or a friend betrays her.

Hmm. Lots of good (awful) opportunities here. I’m imagining Risha’s sitting on the other side of the room saying, “I’m glad you’re enjoying this.”

Focus on Risha.

It’s her rise to power that threatens everyone. Ro, the Empire, the Republic, and the established nobles. They begin taking aim at her and her friends, chopping her legs out from under her. They may discredit her, have it so that she’s blamed for a defeat, something like that. She may even get word from someone: play nice, or lose it all.

I like it, but I feel like… a normal person would write that. It makes sense. What would I do?

Still going after Risha, but it’s Jedi. Sith. Something mind-blowing happens. Someone under mind control does something unthinkable. Someone is captured and cracks under interrogation. The spacer fleet gets bought off and betrays them, leaving them in the field surrounded by foes. It doesn’t have to be grotesque, but I want the reader’s jaw to drop. Hard.

That’s more like it. I don’t know which one it’ll be, but it’s something like this. What would Risha do?

She’s smiling now, by the way.

She would outsmart them. Risha is a younger, prettier Danny Ocean. She would anticipate their moves and be ready. Hmm. Thinking about it… tearing her down only makes her stronger. It puts her back in the shadows where she’s untouchable. It’s probably the worst thing they could do. On a side note, Risha would also see very clearly who her real friends are, because the fair-weather ones would leave.

I want to see her stage a victory with the common people of Dubrillion, with local partisans or someone like that. By the time it’s all over, everyone knows that she spins straw into gold. This girl is magic. She’s also not going away, like the naysayers said she would.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have lost multiple battles and are about to settle for a negotiated peace. With her underground contacts, Risha finds out that Ro, or the Empire, or even the Republic plan to slaughter everyone at the meeting. She’s the only one who can save the day, along with our heroes.

Hmm. Snazzy. I was really looking forward to writing about Risha leading from the top, though, not the bottom. I’ll think about that, see if there’s a way to throw everything into doubt and keep her in charge.