Supposedly, Republic Fleet Forces Command was an impenetrable maze of checkpoints, set droid intercepts, and randomly alternating guard patrols, all designed to make the Shipyards infiltration-proof. At least, that's what Captain Qatul had told Carth when he'd taken command of the Fifth Fleet and made his headquarters there. In reality, however, the security apparatus had proven to be far more porous than expected, especially where Mission Vao, inveterate sneak, was concerned. Or his own son, the nascent Sith assassin. Or even Zaalbar, a 2 meter tall walking tower of fur. In short, security was a joke, and wasn't improving in the face of two teenagers' very spirited attempts at professional embarrassment. So Carth wasn't terribly surprised to find Mission and Dustil placidly playing Pazaak for candy at his office's conference table when he arrived back at the Shipyards.
"Hey, you two," he greeted them casually as he started unbuttoning the jacket of his formal uniform. Sithspit, but it felt like it was strangling him. "Stay out of trouble while I was reporting to the Senate?"
Mission just grinned at him. "You know better than to ask questions you don't want an answer to, old man!"
Dustil, Carth was pleased to see, smiled a little before ducking his head.
"Well, you know the rules," Carth said, playing along. "As long as I don't hear about it later-"
"-it never happened," Mission finished in a teasing tone of voice. It wasn't really true, and both Mission and Dustil knew it, but it was still funny, especially when Captain Qatul stormed in to complain about whatever sneak attack or sabotage prank Mission had performed last. "How was the Senate?"
Carth sighed a little, carefully hanging up his jacket. "Oh, you know, the usual. Everyone is still rebuilding from the war, and they all want the Navy to assist them with reconstruction...which isn't really possible, given our current status, but-"
"So basically it's the usual claptrap you've heard for the last year," Dustil summarized abruptly.
Carth smiled a little, but he knew it wasn't anywhere close to being a happy smile. "Got it in one, kiddo. We can help move people from the refugee camps to settle a new world, but we can't guarantee their safety from pirates these days because we don't have enough ships; we can ferry food and medical supplies to some of the galaxy's lightly-damaged worlds, except there isn't enough to go around. And there's really nothing the Navy or anyone else can do about the worlds the Sith bombarded into slag over the last few years."
"Yeah," Mission agreed, her pixie face uncharacteristically solemn. "What can anyone do for a place like Taris at this point?"
"Actually, I might be able to assist you with that," a stranger said in a calm, placid voice, and Carth reflexively pointed his blaster at the man before he finished his sentence.
Dustil, of all people, smoothed the whole thing over; the stranger, apparently, was Lieutenant Colonel Bao-dur, from the Army Corps of Engineers. Dustil had met him during his Shipyard "infiltration" two days before, when he'd been helping Mission on one of her "classified missions" - she had looked particularly shifty at this part in the tale, and Carth resigned himself to another shouting match with Qatul. Apparently, the colonel had seen whatever little gizmo Mission wanted placed, and had offered a few tips on improving it; in return, Dustil had advised the man on a few alternate routes to Carth's office so he could arrange an impromptu meeting.
"And what - you just waited for my personal shuttle to arrive at the port before making your way here?" Carth questioned, a migraine already starting behind his eyes. Maybe this time he would be the one to shout at Qatul. Bad enough that she was letting a couple of kids and a Wookiee through; Bao-Dur was a big, tough Zabrak from the colonies, and he looked like he was trouble, even with only one arm.
Bao-dur just shrugged his broad shoulders, totally unapologetic. "I'd apologize, but it was obvious Security wasn't going to let an Army officer into the Shipyards, not after what happened the last time they did that."
Scratch that, Carth was definitely going to scream at Qatul; the way to deal with uncertain threats was to allow them in under supervision, not keep them out when you know you had a problem plugging your security wall. Carth saw Mission, then Dustil, look at him with curious eyes; they were probably wondering why an Army officer wouldn't be welcome on Foerost. Carth rolled his eyes at the Zabrak, still standing like a particularly steady and patient rock, and explained to the children, "The last time Security let an Army officer in, it was Revan, and he liberated every available ship for his Army. The Navy still holds a grudge about that."
Both of them looked thoughtful at that; remembering Revan, their clever, brave friend who'd saved the Republic, was Revan, the traitor who'd nearly destroyed it in the first place, always put that look in their faces. Carth didn't bother to tell them the other reason an Army officer wouldn't be welcome on a Naval base: fully three-quarters of the Army had defected with Revan after the Mandalorian Wars and hared off towards the Unknown Regions. Carth knew why - the Republic Army, such as it was, had essentially been created by Revan during the Mandalorian Wars, and it wasn't a surprise that so many of the people he had recruited would follow him, but it was still a source of resentment from the other branches. Personally, Carth was more upset over the Naval defections, which had been far less a portion of the Navy, but had included far more of the professional officer class pre-dating Revan. Ultimately, no service had come out with clean hands from last decade of war, but each damn well wanted to pretend they had.
Bao-dur nodded at him slightly, lips pressed into a firm line. Carth holstered his blaster and went to sit at the head of the conference table. "At ease, colonel. What brings the head of the Army Corps of Engineers to Foerost Shipyards? From what I hear, your crew's been doing stand-up work on renewing planetary defenses in the Mid-Rim."
For the first time since this strange meeting began, Bao-dur smiled, and the man relaxed a little as he took a seat. "As I'm sure you know, Admiral, my professional specialty before the war was large-scale force-field systems, specifically the force-fields used to channel global weather patterns."
Carth had not known this, but frankly, what he knew about Bao-dur was mostly limited to a service summary he'd read at the end of the Mandalorian Wars and the periodic cross-service updates he'd been getting about which planetary defenses systems were currently ready to divest of Republic Navy assistance. Probably his full file had the relevent information, especially regarding his involvement in developing the Mass Shadow Generator, but Carth's clearance hadn't been high enough for more than the summary right after Malachor V, and when it had gotten high enough to read the full, declassified file, he'd been busy fighting on the frontlines against Revan and Malak. Rather than say all that, Carth just nodded his head and hoped it looked authoritative.
Bao-dur took this as encouragement to continue, and pulled a holochip out of his uniform pocket before inserting it into the conference desk. A hologram of a planet sprung out of the center of the table, the landmasses and oceans delineated and divided by a stylised pattern of some kind. Mission leaned forward, very curious. Bao-dur gestured towards the hologram sharply, and the the stylised patterns began glowing.
"The weather fields are always based on the prevailing wind maps of the continental landmasses, and the ocean currents at sea - that is what drives most weather, and how it is controlled and guided on planets with a healthy, well-mapped ecosystem," he lectured, and gestured again. The wind maps abruptly changed into a complicated hexagonal grid pattern, and the ocean and land borders disappeared. "One of the side affects of an orbital planetary bombardment is the ocean is boiled into steam. In combination with the landmasses being heated to a melting point, the water stays in steam form for a relatively long time - several years to a decade. However, the ocean beds begin cooling first, and when that happens, the steam begins interacting with the the hot former continents and the cooler oceans beds in an interesting way - it starts creating wind of a sort, and superheated storms."
Bao-dur gestured again, and the hologram was overlaid with visuals of a bombarded world, storms crackling upon the surface. "I took this holo of my homeworld about five years ago, right before Revan showed back up with his little attitude adjustment," Bao-dur said, smirking. "You can see that there's minimal atmo loss from the bombardment at the beginning of the Mandalorian Wars. Most of it was retained, but it survives as superheated lightning storms, scouring the surface nearly constantly."
"What good does that do, then, if it's superheated?" Mission cried out, frustrated. Carth looked at her from the corner of his eye, and saw Dustil hesitantly lay a hand on her shoulder.
Bao-Dur just grinned. "Ah! I see you don't know much about weather fields! They're not on the surface-"
"They're in low orbit," Dustil said, interrupting again. "I learned about them in school a long time ago."
If anything, Bao-dur's smile just widened. "Exactly," he said, a little self-satisfied, and gestured again. This time, the hologram depicted a physical grid of some kind overlaying part of the planet, and as Carth watched, the gridded area began to clear of clouds, grow plants, and nurture wildlife. Slowly but surely, the grid expanded to cover new ground, while the previously gridded areas were dismantled, showing a normal patch of habitable planet.
"Essentially, I want to use the wind and heat to power the climate arrays. We can use that to start condensing the steam into rain, and the rain into actual weather. Once that's done, we can begin introducing microbes to colonize the surface once more, and then plants once there is steady sunlight to photosynthesize, and then import breeding animals. Once a section is complete, we can move to the borders; and I believe that after the initial condensation and microbial intervention, we can just start deactivating the fields between the two areas and let them mingle freely, spreading the new life more naturally."
As the kids 'ooh' and 'ah', talking excitedly about the possibilities, Carth looked very sharply at Bao-dur. "This is a very ambitious project, from what I can see. But how will you handle the biological side of things? I didn't think you had any experience with terraforming, and that's essentially what you're doing."
Bao-dur looked Carth straight in the eyes, and stated, "I've been thinking about this since my first tour with General Surik; it's hard not to, after seeing all the planets the Mandalorians destroyed. As for the terraforming side... Admiral, I run the Republic Army Corps of Engineers, and have since I was recalled from inactive status four years ago when Revan invaded. If we don't have the requisite expertise in the biologic sciences - and we might not; a lot of them were poached by Revan to make bio-weapons, and then a second group was poached by Medical Command to deal with the aforesaid bio-weapons - I have a list longer than the Senate directory of potential contractors who will be happy to serve."
Carth was a little taken aback by his fierce tone. Bao-dur had seemed calm and collected during this meeting; this is the first moment he's lost even a little bit of his composure, and Carth was a little amazed at the tightly-leashed passion underneath his professional facade.
"I'm not the first person you've pitched this to," Carth said, utterly certain.
"No," Bao-dur replied, pursing his lips and shaking his head slowly. "But you're the first person to listen to the whole presentation without throwing me out."
Dinner that night was Chandrilan take-out. Carth was too tired to cook, and the kids are at that stage of growth where they will eat anything to stop feeling hungry. Zaalbar joined them afterwards, and Mission took him aside to tell him all about their unexpected visitor this afternoon. Dustil, on the other hand, moved to sit closer to Carth, bringing along two bottled ales from the fridge.
"Where did you get these?" Carth questioned with a frown. "I don't remember buying this brand before."
Dustil just rolled his eyes, totally ignoring Carth's questions as he deftly twisted the caps off the bottle before handing one to his father. They just sit and drink for awhile; Carth admits internally the ale is pretty good, if a little bitter for his taste. Finally, he put his bottle down and looked at his son, waiting for Dustil to stop drinking and start talking. Dustil paused a second before swallowing another gulp of ale. Only then did he put the bottle down and turn towards his father.
"So what did you think of the presentation?" Dustil asked forthrightly.
Carth thinks for a moment before answering, "Not bad. I'll need a second opinion of his work, but Colonel Bao-dur has got a rep for solid, yet groundbreaking, work in the past. He's going to present the full technical specs to the general staff in two days, so we'll see what happens then."
Dustil took another sip of beer, more to hide his smile than anything else, Carth thinks. "Good," he said, voice unexpectedly firm. "I hope it goes well. He's a cool guy."
Carth raised an eyebrow as he took another drink himself. Dustil's smile turned into a lopsided grin.
"I mean, don't you think it'll be awesome to see Telos turn into a garden again? Mom would love it."
Carth's heart seized a little in his chest; this is the first time since their confrontration on Korriban that Dustil has even mentioned Morgana.
"Yeah," Carth stammered, clearing his throat again. "Your mom would love it. She always loved our home best of all planets I took her."