Monthly Archives: May 2016

Unexpected Part III: I Won’t Say It

Parts I and II can be found here and here.  Takes place during The Shadow of Revan storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  PC is the Imperial Agent.  Minor spoilers.

Part III

I don’t know what to do any more.  I’ve been disavowed for the murder of Colonel Darok.  The chancellor wanted me arrested and imprisoned.  Satele wants nothing to do with me.  She won’t even talk to me through the holonet.  Thanks, Mom.  Good to know that you don’t trust your own son in this matter.  They won’t listen.  They don’t understand that Revan is back and a real threat.

So now I’m on the run.  With Lana.

If you asked me two months ago if I would ever trust a Sith with my life, I’d have laughed in your face.  But she’s the only one I can trust right now.

Except maybe you.

“You made it,” Lana sighs.  I lean against the table behind me, crossing my arms over my chest.  Ever the picture of nonchalant.

“The way Revan was laying waste to that place, I wasn’t sure you’d come out of it in one piece.”  It comes out smooth and casual, but I can feel my heart quicken.  I really am glad that you made it out alive.  The thought gives me pause for a moment.  I haven’t had time to really examine my thoughts and feelings from earlier, when you were on the rooftop and I couldn’t get to you.  Too much was going on then.  Too much is going on now.  But the thoughts drift to the surface none-the-less.  I really am glad that you are alive.

“What are you talking about? I’m hardly in one piece…” Ceetoo Deefour complains.  Jakarro growls at him to stuff it.  I think he also threatened to dismantle the droid further, although I’m not sure how.  Ceetoo is just a head at this point.

“Anyway, my point is: glad you got out of there.  Any ally right now is a welcome ally.”  The picture of casual.  No feelings what-so-ever.

“So coy,” you reply, practically cooing.  “I think someone in the SIS has a crush on me…”

I can feel the heat rising off my face.  There it is.  Out in the open.  Just like that.  I can handle this.

“What, me? Into you?  That’s so… You know, don’t be ridiculous.” I practically stutter.  Smooth, Theron.  Real smooth.  That’ll show her what I think of that.  Me, have a crush on the Imperial agent?  Yeah, right.  Right?

“If I may say, Agent Shan, you appear to be rather flush all of a sudden.” Ceetoo comments.  Damn that droid.

“We’re gonna—Jakarro and I and the droid, we’re leaving now so you can have your… official Imperial debrief or whatever.”  I turn and stalk out of the room, being very careful to not appear as if I’m running.  I don’t even wait to see if Jakarro is following me.

“Lana, when you’re done, we can start picking out backwaters to go lie low in.”  I don’t look back, but I can practically feel you watch me as I leave.  I can picture your piercing blue eyes following me as I turn a corner.  I can almost see the small smirk on your full lips, the hint of a thin eyebrow raised in amusement because you must see that your joke has clearly gotten under my skin.

I stop a few paces from the hanger where Jakarro’s ship is waiting.  It seems rude to just barge into a ship that isn’t mine.  I lean with my back against the wall, arms across my chest, head back, and close my eyes.  I take a deep breath and let the thoughts roll over me.  You can do this, Theron.  You’ve been calm and collective in many circumstances that should have killed you, many times over.  You’ve thought your way through each and every one and come out on top.  This is no different.  Just be calm and relaxed and think it through.

“Ah, Agent Shan,” Ceetoo Deefour’s voice cuts through my concentration.  “We were worried that in your haste to get away from the commander that you forgot where the ship was docked.”

“I wasn’t in a hurry to get away from anyone,” I counter.  “They just seemed like they didn’t want me there.”

Jakarro growls in Wookie.  “I agree,” Ceetoo replies.  “It does appear that Agent Shan left quite abruptly after the commander’s comment about his crush.  Perhaps the commander’s observations where more astute than-“

“Stow it, Ceetoo.  That’s ridiculous.  I do not have a crush on the commander,” I put as much bravo and mocking into my tone as possible.  I’m not in to that Imperial spy.  “She’s not even my type.”  I add as I follow Jakarro into his ship.  He growls and grumbles a reply, something akin to “sure sure, whatever you say.”

“She’s not!” I insist, but Jakarro is no longer listening to me.  He has a galactic map pulled up and is discussing places to hide with Ceetoo.  How can they possibility think that I like you?  You’re good in a fight, to be sure, and I’m glad you’re alive.  I’m not sure why, exactly, but I’m really happy that I got to see you again.

“Nar Shaddaa is out of the question,” Ceetoo points out with a sigh, or as close to a sigh that a droid can get.  “We’re wanted there as well.”

“How about Rakata?” Lana pipes in from behind.  I didn’t even hear her board the ship.  I tweak with my sensors a little, but they are working just fine.  Need to upgrade if a Sith can get past them.  Maybe a quick side trip to Nar Shaddaa wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“She thinks you’re cute,” Lana says casually as she leans in for a better look at the map.

“Wha-?” That catches me completely off guard.

“The great Jakarro says it would also give him some satisfaction to take out the remaining Revanite bases.”  Jakarro growls something, but I miss it.  I’m still stuck on Lana’s off-the-cuff remark.  I realize that my mouth is open and close it.

“Yes, but we want to hide from the Revanites, not announce our presence, at least not until we know more about what they are planning.  Hmmm.”  Lana moves the map around, trying to find an out-of-the way planet.  “I meant the commander of course.  She told me that she’s glad I reached out to you because she thinks you’re cute.  Or maybe handsome?  Or was it good-looking?  I can’t really remember the exact words.  You get the point, though yes?”

“I don’t… I mean… I’m not… Stop looking at me like that.”  I turn back to the map, but I can barely focus on the images in front of me.  I’m sure my face is on fire because it feels warm.  Come on, Theron, get it together.  You are an adult who doesn’t get distracted because some girl – woman – thinks you’re good-looking.

“We have some intel from the Revanites on Rakata.  No, Jakarro, we don’t want to destroy them just yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep track of their movements.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Lana.  We need more information.”  You think I’m good-looking…

Jakarro growled about something about Nal Hutta.  “The wonderful Jakarro says that he has contacts on Nal Hutta that might be able to help us.

“We’ve nowhere else to go,” Lana replies, pushing back from the map display and smiling.  “Theron?”

“I’ve, uh,” Snap out of this.  “Yeah.  If Jakarro has some contacts that won’t immediately turn him in, I think it’s a good place to start.  Plus, I bet I can find some supplies and parts I need to help me decode what we got from the Revanite databases on Rakata.  With any luck, we can figure out what they have planned next.”

“Then it’s settled.  Jakarro, plot a course.  We’ll see if we can find any more allies on Nal Hutta.”

“We have allies?” I ask, but regret it as soon as it leaves my lips.

“The commander, of course,” Lana replies.  She seems to relish that fact that just the thought of you scrambles my brain.  I can’t think straight and this is not the time to lose my head.  Blast it.

“Look, she’s not even my type.  Plus, she was clearly joking.  I don’t have a crush on her.”

“Of course not,” Lana replied, but in a smug way that made me kind of want to punch her in the face.  I refrained.  It’s not nice to punch literally the only person in the galaxy who has my back in the face.  Well, maybe not the only person.  I guess Jakarro is in this with us.  And you.  At least I hope you’re in this with me-us!

“I’m going to see if I can decode more of the Revanite intel we gathered on Rakata.” I say to the room, but Jakarro is already off to plot our course and Lana just waves me off.

“Let me know if you find anything.”

I do not stalk back to my quarters.  I have every intention of doing what I told Lana and Jarakko I was going to do: work on decoding the intel.  But your eyes dance in front of my face and I can’t focus on the delicate task at hand.  Instead, I sit back on my bunk and try to figure this out.

I wasn’t lying when I said you weren’t my type.  You’re not really.  You’re smart, yes, but enhancements do that.  It’s difficult to hide your implants when the slim tendrils attach above your eyebrows and at your temples.  I assume the ones that caress your checks and sit above your mouth are also microphones.  I suppose you do that because you’re not interested in hiding your implants.  Why would you be?  Mine aren’t exactly hidden either, what with the flashing yellow lights at my temple.  So, yes, you’re smart.  And quick, which isn’t always the same thing.

There is a pose to you that I’ve not seen in many other woman, a grace that defines your every move.  Oh sure, I guess some would say the Jedi have the same grace when they move, but yours is different.  You move with economy, no step wasted, every movement has a purpose, but there is a fluidity to it as well.  It’s the confidence that you have, the way you hold yourself.  Some have told me I move like that.  I’ve rarely seen it in others, even other SIS agents.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it attractive.

You’re not beautiful though.  Or really even pretty.  I’d use the word handsome, but that somehow seems insulting.  You are striking, though, with your sharp check bones and sharp nose and amazing eyes.  And your full lips.  I’ve always gone for the pretty ones, with the delicate features and the need to be rescued.  You have proven more than once that no one needs to rescue you.  You are the exact opposite of delicate.  I know you can handle yourself, I can see that you are perfectly attune to your own needs and have no fear in pursuing them.  Perhaps that why your flirting has taken me so off guard.  I’m not used to someone being so direct with me, especially when that person is another spy.  Perhaps that’s why I’m more attracted to you than I’m willing to admit.

Huh?  Maybe you were joking or maybe you’re just better at reading people than I am.  That wouldn’t be too hard, actually.  For all my skill as a slicer, I’m not great with understanding people.  Blast it!

It’s fine, Theron.  So I’m attracted to an Imperial Agent.  It’s not like I’m going to see you again in the near future, especially since I’m running for my life from the very people you happen to work for.  Not like it would work out anyway, what with you being an Imperial spy and me being a Republic spy.

Still I certainly don’t have to tell Lana and Jakarro that you were right!


Dear Graduates,

Congratulations!  You’ve made it through high school!  All of your work has paid off and you are getting a diploma.  You’ll sit and listen to the valedictorian gushes about the wonderful memories you’ve all made together.  You’ll clap as the senior class president regales tales of homecoming and prom.  You’ll role your eyes as the principal talks about the responsibilities of adulthood.  You’re friends and family will cheer when your name is called.  You shake hands with education board and the principal and the assistant principals and you get to finally move that tassel (is it left or right?) to indicate that you have reached a major accomplishment in your life.  You’ll hug your best friend (friends for life) and kiss your significant other (we’ll always be together) and you’ll have an amazing night.

And then you’ll get up the in morning and realize that it’s over.  High school is officially done.  Now what?

It’s an okay feeling to have.  There might be lots of excitement for the future.  There might be some dread that you have no clue what you are going to do with your life.  There might be some anxiety over college or the military or your job.  It’s all perfectly normal things to experience.  As you enjoy your summer and prepare for your future, I hope that you’ll remember the lessons learned from your friends and teachers in high school.

Some friends are worth keeping and some friends are there because of circumstance.  I know it’s hard to hear because BBFs and all.  I’m still friends with a few people from high school, and yes, one of my best friends from high school is still one of my best friends today.  But I rarely talk to other people that I considered close friends in high school.  It’s not because we didn’t care for each other, but we grew up and went separate ways.  I still remember them fondly and see occasional updates on Facebook, but our lives no longer bring us together on a daily basis.  It’s okay to let friends go and make new ones.

Teachers really do care about you.  It might not seem like it, and maybe all teachers don’t care specially about you.  But I’d bet that every single graduate can point to at least one teacher in high school who genuinely cared about you.  That gets more difficult to find as you go into the scary “real world”.  Professors and bosses and drill sergeants are more likely to see you as just another number or responsibility unless you do something to make them see more.  Be involved, introduce yourself, try as hard as you can, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, don’t be afraid to push yourself and show your dedication.  Get to know these people as people, as much as you can, at least.  I mean, don’t cross any lines where you will get kicked out or fired.  Have some boundaries, of course.  My point is, make connections with people and show that you care about what you do.

You will forever be a student.  You might not always be in the halls of a school or sitting at a desk, but keep learning.  Find things your interested in and passionate about and read about it or listen to podcasts about it or watch YouTube videos.  Get involved in local organizations or clubs were you can experience new things.  Travel and experience the world because there are so many things out there that are interesting and cool and fun.

Good luck to you all.  I wish you all the best whatever the future brings you!

Congrats, class of 2016!!


Why? Why not?

I consider myself a scientific skeptic.  I try to look at claims with a healthy dose of science and evidence.  I like to consider what the evidence says before I make up my mind about things.  I like to take a step back and ask “wait, what’s the proof for that?”  I like to doubt things it they sound implausible.

Of course, that often translates to my friends and family as being a doubter, as being contentious, as being difficult, as not believing in things.  I think my friends and family see me as being a nay-sayer to the things they believe such as homeopathic medicine, global warming, and the existence of ghosts.

I got into skepticism due to two podcasts: Science…Sort Of and the Geologic Podcast.  I wasn’t always a skeptic.  I believed in ghosts and spirits and Bigfoot and the conspiracy behind global warming.  And then I started listening to these two shows and they talked about science and skepticism in an easy-to-understand way.  Those podcasts lead to others such as Skeptoid and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe and to more involvement with local skeptic groups.  That involvement lead to more research and more understanding of how important it is to examine things critically and not take claims at face value without good evidence to back it up.

This, of course, has lead to family and friends to start saying “there was a study about this” when they tell me things.  Great, I’m glad there was a study about it.  How good was the study?  How controlled was the study?  Did you actually read the study or just the reporting on the study?  What conclusions did the researchers reach?  Where those conclusions in line with the data they actually collected?  It’s a nuanced process that needs to be followed.  I understand that can’t be for everything.  I’m not going to doubt it when someone tells they hit a deer or they feel better when eating a gluten-free diet.  I just also don’t like to take everything at face value.

Sometimes it’s hard to describe why this is important to me.  I think George Hrab said it pretty well in his TEDx talk, so I’m just going to leave that link here.  The video is about 23 minutes, but it’s well worth the watch if you are interested in learning why skepticism is important.

GWC-keep-calm-and-question-everything-3Sometimes it seems like it is all pointless and why should I care.  But most of the time, I think it’s important to continue to inform people that they shouldn’t believe every miracle cure or health claim or wonder product out there.  They should stop and say “hey, wait a second, how does that work?”.  It’s okay to question how a product works and to demand that a product or procedure has been rigorously tested to ensure that it actually does what it should do or prevent what it claims to prevent.  So I’ll keep questioning and just hope that my family and friends realize I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just trying to make them understand that science is complicated and claims should require evidence.

Image credit: www.quotehd.com and larochecollege.blogspot.com and globalwomenconnected.com


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