Template:PostIn CatH Post 17 Clear finds the unconscious body of Turbo, who was injured in CatH Post 14, and sits with him while she drinks. Wai, now trapped as The Hopeful's A.I., is able to instate Clear as captain of the ship and she promises to find him a new body. She's then taken to the medical bay and meets with Warlord Strang who presses her, and The Hopeful, into his service. He requires, however, that Wai be purged from the systems. He then engages the ship to jump to his shipyard, XL-Sigma 4, where The Hopeful could be repaired. Pully opts to join Clear aboard The Hopeful, feeling she owes Clear a debt because the salmitton saved her life in CatH Post 13.
On her way to find Turbo, Clear had ducked into her room and grabbed a few bottles of bubbly alcohol. It would help her nerves and ease the physical pain of her injuries. When she found Turbo, still laid out in the middle of the corridor, she checks his pulse. He's alive. She slides down the wall and drinks from her first bottle. He remains oblivious to everything and she envies him for that. He's a white-skinned human with a shaggy mat of blonde hair and the makings of a short beard. Pully is still in the docking bay and, when Clear left her, she was communicating with The Excellence. They had already been mobilising a second squad after they lost contact with Captain Londris. With Pully's report, the new squad would not arrive as gung-ho as originally intended. Clear closes her eyes.
When she opens them again, she's sure she drifted off for a while. But there's a nagging sound that is pestering her to wakefulness.
Wai: "Are you listening to me?"
Clear: "Who's talking to me?"
Wai: "Wai. I'm trapped in your bloody ship's mainframe. Where'd that ancient calamity of an A.I. take my body?"
Clear: "Uh... I hate to be the bearer of bad news but... I sort of drove a shuttle into your body and crushed it..."
Wai: "Wow. Thanks."
Clear: "Sorry. Said A.I. had gone pretty bonkers inside your body and needed to be put down."
Wai: "I hope you intend to reimburse me with a new body?"
Clear: "I'll see what I can do. If a spare body shows up, it's yours."
She chugs on her bottle. All she needs now is for one annoying A.I. to be replaced by another. Wai seems much more self-aware and capable of making more worldly choices than Note ever could, however with that comes his unique personality. She feels Wai is more like a person and that means he's self-interested. At least Note wanted the best for The Hopeless. She doubts Wai will do what's best for the ship at the expense of what's best for him.
Wai: "Why am I not reassured by your claim Miss... Clear?"
Clear: "Stop checking my files."
Wai: "Well I don't see why I shouldn't check the ship's files if I'm going to be stuck in here. I have to entertain myself somehow. By the way, you should really cut back your alcohol intake. According to your last medical sc--"
Clear: "I'm going to go through the ship and systematically destroy every single comms unit if you begin pestering me."
Wai: "Well, I can see you're going to be difficult to deal with."
Clear then perks up.
Clear: "Wai. Can you make alterations to the ship's records?"
Clear: "Instate me as captain."
Wai: "And why should I bother doing that?"
Clear: "Because I told you to."
Wai: "Still not sure why I should do it..."
Clear: "You want a new body, right?"
Wai: "Instating now. Wait. Apparently there's already a captain."
Clear: "She's no longer capable of command."
Wai: "No I suppose she mustn't be considering how old she appears to be..."
Wai: "Congratulations Captain Clear."
Clear starts chuckling to herself. Then she outright guffaws and rolls on the floor.
Wai: "Uh... seriously.... you need to lay off the booze."
A few hours later Clear is lying on a bed in the medical centre of The Hopeless. She had never even known of its existence until Wai directed the medical staff that came over from The Excellence. The medical staff carried Turbo there on a stretcher made from hard light, while Clear was able to hobble there. They fed her drugs to relieve the pain, speed up the healing process and cure infections. Then she was hooked up to an intravenous drip containing something they called bacta. She didn't know what the stuff was but it was supposed to heal her wounds and even prevent scarring. They wanted to dunk her into a whole tank of the stuff but she vetoed that crazy scheme quickly. Turbo, unfortunately, didn't have the luxury to refuse. After he is brought from the brink of death they would take him back to The Excellence and shove him in a tank of the liquid ooze. It took a while before Pully was also brought into the medical bay. She is sans her armour and is wearing the tight bodysuit that the stormtroopers all seemed to wear beneath their armour. It's only now that Clear thinks Pully may not be entirely human, or if she is she's had some changes made. The woman's hair is flat to her skull, but longer than the other stormtroopers seemed to have, and coloured navy blue. Her eyes are also dark blue but her lips also have the same lip sheen. Clear doubts that the stormtroopers are permitted to wear lipstick when on duty so she assumes that somehow Pully has a natural blue hue to her lips. Her skin is very pale but she has some freckles on her nose that off-sets the otherwise perfect angular beauty she has. Clear feels the woman has a strange kind of masculine quality to certain features that only serves up the more fanciful female beauty of her face. As Clear watches she noticed that Pully is now able to wiggle her fingers. This imperial medicine is quite unlike anything Clear has experienced before.
Warlord Strang: "So this is the aftermath..."
Deonal Strang marches into the room as though it were his own. The medical staff all salute him. Pully jumps to her feet and tries to move her arm automatically, but whines with pain. She manages to raise her left arm instead. Clear, of course, doesn't. Strang seems to wait a moment, as though expecting her to do so, but moves quickly on when he realises she isn't about to do it.
Warlord Strang: "This ship has cost me several very fine soldiers, Miss Clear. I hope she is worth it..."
Clear: "I'm sorry... Sir. The ship means a lot to me, but I would never sacrifice those lives just to get my home back. I would give up The Hopeful in a moment if I could bring them back..."
Pully is now lying on her bed again and trying to look like she isn't listening.
Warlord Strang: "Captain Londris was one of a kind. Truly. Loyal, skilled and dedicated. The perfect soldier. It is a great loss for me and my military. To be out-foxed by a mere rebel... I suppose they'll be the death of us all if we don't eradicate them first!"
Strang picks up her chart and reads though it without asking for permission.
Warlord Strang: "The ship is capable of making a jump, correct?"
Clear: "Seems to be, yes. It can't move at sub-light speeds but I could get a jump out of it."
Warlord Strang: "A single jump is enough. We'll jump to my shipyard and there they'll be able to get your engines working enough to get this ancient ship into dock. Then we can start repairs!"
Clear: "You're willing to repair The Hopeful?"
Warlord Strang: "I believe you've been made official Captain of the ship, right? That means you need an admiral to serve. I think you and your ship would be a welcome addition to my fleet."
There it is. The condition she has been expecting for sometime. She is indebted to him, lives under his care have been lost and her ship still needs his aid. How could she possibly refuse? She doesn't want to work for him, she doesn't want to join a military. But she doesn't see any option. If she says no, what then? There's nowhere she can go. There's no Note to repair the ship, even if she could find materials.
Clear: "The Hopeful is probably not much of a battleship... Sir."
Warlord Strang: "I wouldn't be too certain of that. But if she's not, there are other uses for a ship of this size. Accommodation, transport, medical, cargo. All sorts of things! From my understanding you yourself are not even aware of most of the ship's systems? We'll uncover what's hiding beneath her skirts!"
Clear neither liked the crude metaphor nor does she like the prospect that it entails. The ship's secrets are hers to discover, not a maniacal despot's. She feels that she's losing the one thing that belongs to her all over again. She saved it only to now have it claimed by someone else.
Warlord Strang: "I believe that robot has somehow wound up in the ship's A.I. systems? We'll have to purge it. Can't have an escaped prisoner roaming around our mainframes. Especially one suspected of rebel sympathies."
Purging sounds suspiciously like executing.
Pully: "Admiral Strang, if I may?"
They turn to Pully who is sat up in her bed. Strang nods.
Pully: "I'd like permission to remain aboard The Hopeful to help Captain Clear manage her ship and integrate into the fleet. She saved my life and I have no squad. I believe she'd benefit from having a familiar face as support and I'd like to repay my debt to her."
Warlord Strang: "We don't do repaying debts here, lieutenant. That being said I think it would be beneficial to have you aboard to help Captain Clear. We'll sort out roles and duties later. For now we have a lot of work to do on the old dear. She is quite a marvellous machine. I've never seen anything like it. She has that kind of majesty only ancient ship's posses. If anything she will, at least, be eye candy amongst the fleet! The other warlords will surely marvel at such a graceful creature amongst my powerful stardestroyers."
Clear is taken aback. She has never considered The Hopeful even approaching things like grace or beauty. The ship certainly held old-world appeal and has a certain charm, but she isn't aware of its aesthetic allure. Perhaps a lick of paint might help Clear see what Strang sees. In a small way this helps soothe Clear's wounded pride. At least he seems to admire her home and that may be enough to keep it safe. She nods at Pully in thanks. She isn't entirely sure why the woman wants to join her, but Clear supposes the sense of debt must be strong with a soldier like her.
Warlord Strang: "My technicians are already preparing your ship for jump. They tell me it's a rather archaic method that may not be suitable for the wounded. This soldier shall be removed to The Excellence first. Perhaps you and the lieutenant should also make the jump aboard my ship?"
Clear: "It is an uncomfortable jump, but I'm used to it now. I'd rather stay here. The Hopeful is my home."
Warlord Strang: "I understand. Very well. I shall have a medic remain here, along with the lieutenant and the technicians. I shall see you again once we arrive at the repair yard..."
Clear is now in the Command Centre. The medic tried to get her to remain in the medical centre, but she was adamant she wanted to see the shipyard. The screens flash up and show a massive skeletal structure in deep space, far from the gravitational pull of any planet. Looking like sets of ribs, there are three ports for ships to dock. The first appears to be constructing a new ship, its bare bones barely formed. The second and third docks are empty.
Pully: "XL Sigma 4..."
Clear turns to see Pully standing in the doorway. Her arm is still in a sling and she winces when she accidentally moves it without thinking.
Pully: "But it got slurred into XL Si-or... so everyone just calls it that. Excelsior!"
Clear jumps a little when Pully absent-mindedly raises her voice when saying Excelsior. It's the kind of word you just feel you have to cry out.
Clear: "Seems like Excelsior is going to be the home of my home for a good while."
Pully: "They work quick. Surprisingly quick. They'll have the basics up and running before you know it."
Clear: "I doubt it. Not with this relic."
Pully: "Maybe you're right. I've never seen anything like this behemoth. As big as any Stardestroyer and yet there's nothing on her. No armaments, no big gun at the fore. Really makes you wonder what it's all for."
Clear: "Just getting the engines working would be enough for now. It took Note... I don't know. Centuries to get them working. Then again they may have been working a long time ago and he hid it from me."
Pully: "Speaking of your A.I.. You've gone from bad to worse. I think the first thing to do will be to remove that threat."
Clear: "Wai seems harmless for now..."
Pully: "He conspired to kill Captain Londris..."
Clear: "I... hadn't thought of that..."
She really feels that Wai was probably dragged along by Duke Hyperon but she doesn't know the robot or his personality. Even when she thought she knew her own A.I. it turned out she didn't. She would, however, prefer to get Wai a body. Free of her systems and he can than serve his prison sentence for whatever crimes he's found guilty of. She isn't sure the Galactic Empire has robots though. Not a single one seemed to be aboard The Excellence, save the occasional droid but she, like many, could hardly consider them the equivalent of a real robot.
Clear looks at Pully.
Pully: "I know. I believed you when you said you'd give everything to bring them back. Hell, you almost gave your own life for mine. We can honour their sacrifice by getting this ship into service."