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About Auron_Shale

  • Birthday April 8

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  1. Thank you! And if you've read the newest Thrawn book, you'll know of Eli Vanto.
  2. Here's my entry:
  3. Ensign Valon stepped cautiously through the doorway leading to Thrawn’s private meeting room, nestled among the labyrinth that was the Chimaera. He barely had time to celebrate his graduation from the Imperial Academy before his presence was requested by the Grand Admiral. His anxiety skyrocketed all the more for it. Did Thrawn know of how he hacked into the Academy database to alter grades? It wasn’t his fault that Outer Rim cadets were given such a harsh grading curve, falsely justified as a means to ‘prove their mettle’. He simply set things right. Valon gulped, lost in thought. Sliding into his chair, he took notice of the meeting room. It was as cold and sterile as any room aboard a Star Destroyer, save for a small statue placed across the table. It seemed oddly familiar… “Ensign Tak Valon, I presume?” The Grand Admiral had found his way into the room while Valon was preoccupied, much to the young Ensign’s shock. “I assume you have some inkling of why you sit before me now?” “N-no, sir, I do not.” Valon lied, knowing, if he were caught, this wouldn't bode well for him. He was just relieved he was holding it together, especially in front of Imperial High Command. “Oh, I believe you do, Ensign.” Thrawn stated, placing one hand upon the statue and effortlessly sliding it across the table, just in front of Valon. “Would you happen to know where this artifact came from?” Valon pursed his lips tightly. Out of all of the possibilities, he was called in front of Grand Admiral Thrawn to identify a statue?! “Is something the matter, Ensign Valon?” Thrawn frowned. “N-no sir, not at all.” Valon cautiously responded, taking the same care in holding the statue, studying it as Thrawn was studying him. “Well, I can’t tell for certain, the markings are faded, but this looks like it must be from…” Tezlyk X. It had to be Tezlyk X. The memories returned to him with the force of a disruptor rifle. He had spent countless hours in his youth exploring deserted temples, tinkering with discarded robots in childish fantasies to reenact their own ‘Clone Wars’. “This does appear to originate from Tezlyk X, Sir. Is there anything else you need?” Valon stated, mindlessly pushing the figure towards the Grand Admiral.“As a matter of fact, I do, Ensign. “ Thrawn rose from his seat, his pure white tunic reminding the young Valon who he was talking to. “This Tezlyk X resides within the Outer Rim, and seeing as you originate from there specifically, I can assume you know Sy Bisti?” “I do, sir.” Valon’s anxiety went into orbit, unsure what Thrawn was leading to. If any of the rumors about the Grand Admiral were true, his unexpected methods usually came in quick succession of the prior. A barely noticeable smile grew upon Thrawn. “That is good to hear, Ensign, because as of this very moment, we are on the hunt." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Remind me again why we needed disguises to go ‘hunting.’ Valon muttered, adjusting his façade, an old pre-Clone Wars flight suit. “With all due respect, we have the firepower on the Chimaera to glass the insurgent hideouts”. “That may be true, Ensign, and given your education, it may also be the most viable option,” Thrawn replied, prepping his own concealment. It was a blending of eras and cultures: an ancient Pantoran gladiator helmet coupled with battered Coruscanti Senate armor. “A short term option, at best. Tell me, what do you know of the Hydra?” “Well, it’s an Imperial I-Class Destroye-.” Before Valon could even finish, Thrawn cut him off. “While I applaud the interest in our Navy, I’m speaking of the myth. “Oh, my apologies,” Valon shot out. “Well, as I remember, it was akin to a serpent, and immortal?” “Precisely, Ensign. And what a better analogy to pair with insurgents. A vile, serpentine thing.” Thrawn locked his helmet into place, the gold finish clashing violently with the blue tones of the senate armor. Perfect for blending in with smugglers. “Now, we must move on. We have a great many locations to investigate before nightfall.” After several hours of traversing between the harsh wastes of Tezlyk X, they had finally reached a destination of merit. The moment Valon laid eyes upon the decrepit temple, memories flooded back akin to a raging current. The temple had stood for over a millennia, and yet appeared as if time stood alongside it. The entire front of the ‘ruins’ reached high into the unforgiving glance of a harsh sun, embedded glass catching the sharp light, sparkling like crystals. The only major deformity that caught Valon’s eye was the ancient clock, but that could be explained away by a malfunctioning droid, stupidity, and some death sticks. He emphasized the ‘could be’, and made an effort to push that out of his mind. Yes, it seems like some things never change. Thrawn’s voice crackled through the headset implanted in both their helmets. “Ensign, I suggest you attempt to hack the access panel, to the left of the door. Speed would be appreciated, we need to act as if we are simply entering the access code. I was under the impression that this was a speciality of yours?” Valon gave a worried glance, grateful that Thrawn could not fully see him. “Beg your pardon, sir?” Thrawn turned to face the Ensign. “Your report from the Academy, of course. Your excellence in the System Integrity courses. The report is correct in that, would you agree?” “Ah, yes sir. Well, I’ll get to work on that.” Valon let out an extended and inaudible sigh of relief. For yet another moment, he feared Thrawn was leading on about altering his grades. For the time being, he was safe. Valon strode over to the control console, opening the terminal to begin a barrage of clicks and taps. The program to open the door was legacy code from the Separatist army, and within a few short minutes, it was overridden. “Almost… there we go!” Valon exclaimed, taking a step back to join Thrawn while the entrance hissed and squeaked, its age very apparent. Three figures stood in the newly formed opening of the temple, each one a reminder of what the Empire was calling enemies as of late: ragtag smugglers, castaway pirates and self-proclaimed ‘heros’. One stepped forward, clad in a breathing apparatus, most of it lying underneath the cloth covering the being’s forehead. “Ah, if it isn’t Nuodo!” The being proclaimed in Sy Bisti, its voice guised under the layered voice encryption. “I take it you’ve brought the product, as promised?” “Of course, Iaelox, one crate of standard issue blasters, complete with power cells” Thrawn replied, one hand reaching for a beckon call situated on his wrist. Valon wanted to speak up, he wanted to inquire why Grand Admiral Thrawn, of all people, was aiding in the supply of insurgents. But he held his tongue. He was, of course, the Grand Admiral, and his authority outranked him in every way. “That sounds about right, yeah,” Iaelox snorted out, suddenly taking notice of Valon. “What’s up with the new meat, Nuodo? Last partner get too cocky for your liking?” “He’s currently attending to other matters,” Thrawn said, activating the beckon call. “This one here goes by Ooland Freyr.” The smuggler turned to face Valon. “Ooland, ey? Where you hail from? Sounds like an Outer Rim name to me.” “It is, actually from an Outpost not far from here. Ever hear about the T’Shax caverns?” “Of course,” Iaelox answered. “If you don’t know that, can’t be a tried and true Tezlyxian, can you-“. He found himself unable to continue, as the sound of thrusters at full power became increasingly louder. Thrawn’s cargo made its sudden descent, halting just short of slamming into the ground below. “Well then,” Thrawn articulated, “I believe discussion of payment is in order?” "Of course, of course. Let's just get everything accounted for, then we'll discuss credits." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The hissing emanating from the closing door marked the end of Valon's debriefing. While the Grand Admiral explained the basis of what had transpired, he had kept the true motives tucked away. The young Ensign had not a clue, his only concern still revolving around his transgressions at the Imperial Academy. But the doors opened just as quickly as they shut. "I've brought you the effects from Tezlyk X, Grand Admiral." Thrawn turned to face the elderly gentleman, clad in a similarly pristine white tunic. "Excellent, Yularen, you may place them beside the statue." The Colonel did as much, taking a seat across from the Grand Admiral. "I still have no idea why you insist on these covert operations," Yularen stated. "You have no need. We have some of the greatest infiltrators among our ranks, yet you assert you must be involved on the field." "Well, Colonel, surely you must know of the idiom, 'if you want it done right..." "Yes yes, I understand all of that. And while we're on the subject, what is it you're hoping these outings will achieve?" "Colonel, I thought after all these years, you would trust me a mite more than that." Thrawn retorted, his fingers interlocking as his chin nestled upon them. "Those 'shipments' I've been supplying to the insurgents? All of them contain trace elements of a mineral commonly found from the bowels of Scarif." Yularen gave a quizzical look towards the Grand Admiral. "Why would that be beneficial to us in any way?" "As you may know, Scarif is one of the most heavily guarded planets under Imperial occupation, you and I both know why." Yularen nodded, slowly beginning to connect the dots. "And I assume there's something unique to this mineral?" "Precisely, Colonel." Thrawn smiled, sitting up to adjust his posture. " The mineral itself is in no way illegal, but upon adjusting certain scanners in Imperial checkpoints, its unique properties allow it to be detected even through the most resilient of smuggling compartments. Allowing us, in a way, to trace multiple insurgent cells at any given time." "Simply amazing." "Indeed, Colonel. In a sense, if we were to liken this to a hydra, I've essentially poisoned its blood stream. Instead of attempting to tackle it head on, which would encourage the insurgents to grow in numbers, it will reduce them to a mere shell of what they once were. More easily kept in line." "Well, that's all well and good, but that doesn't explain why you chose Ensign Valon for your recent operation. Last I heard, the Academy was about to repeal his status, due to the recently uncovered hacking of the Academy grading. In fact, why isn't he sitting in the brig right now?" "Well, Colonel, that's why I had you bring these items. I'm assuming you've noticed how these statues are so similar in design. Simplistic,with faded hieroglyphs covering their torsos. But one thing caught my eye." "And that is?" "Well, the blast marks, of course. When I first discovered them, it seemed only natural to search for the source. Hence the helmet in front of us." Yularen nodded. "Yes, the helmet recovered from the scrap droid at one of the temple sites." "Well, with these scrap droids, specifically, they are able to emit a highly concentrated laser from the view piece, similar to one of our higher powered blasters. And this specific model was found across multiple temple sites, along with these statues. The ballistic markings do match up, which led me to assume they were used for some form of target practice." "And this has to do with Ensign Valon how, exactly..?" "Well, it may appear to be separate at first glance, but note this. The programming used within the still functional scrap droids have many similarities to the coding style of the Ensign. This young man may have altered records, a very severe transgression, I might add, but his talents should not be wasted rotting in a jail cell, Colonel. This coding, in a sense, is his art form. I merely want to encourage it. Hence why I've 'suggested' that he be assigned as my aide for the near future." "Trying to fill the gap left by Commander Vanto, are you?" Yularen asked, now understanding. Thrawn took a long and thoughtful look at Yularen. After a moment, he simply stated "Perhaps I am, Colonel. Perhaps." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here's a link to the album for more photos!
  4. Wow! VaderFan voting for Vader! How unexpected! I'll have to go with Vader as well. :P
  5. Going to have to go with Watto.
  6. Just found some in Rockford IL, had one or two full boxes if anyone's near there.