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Sabine Wren tightens the last screws into the assembly piece she builds for her sculpture, masking as the Arc Pulse Generator as she promises to the new Imperial overseers of Mandalore. Small scale studies show that the Arc Pulse Generator works when mounted on vehicles and starships. The focusing beam melts the core of the beskar alloy while avoiding any pre-programmed armor into the computers. At least that is what she touted to Clan Saxon, particularly Tiber Saxon wants. But, she was only a 14-year-old lanky Imperial cadet and only desires to please everyone in her workgroup who has failed the class project. Sabine Wren’s idea of the Arc Pulse Generator, she labels as the Duchess -- of Mandalore, who lays ash to the planet as Maul the Zabrak to overthrow her and kill the Death Watch Overlord Pre Vizsla.  Sabine had not been born at that time, and now the Galactic Empire rules Mandalore through machinations unknown. It is as if they erased that history.

“ONE. LAST. TORQUE.” Sabine strains to speak as she twists the wrench tighter then determines if her last physical movement holds the seal with a datapad.

Then Tiber Saxon strolls into the room in white plastoid armor that is not Mandalorian but very much Imperial. His messy blonde hair covers his receding hairline in a combover. His hair loss started when his brother became viceroy of Mandalore, Gar Saxon. The rumor is that Tiber’s ego exploded once the Empire appeared in Mandalore. Tiber had one course at the Royal Imperial Academy on Coruscant on firing a blaster. Not that he had any skills in anything that the Empire wants, except silly Grav-Ball, and he plays that game poorly. All Tiber can do is what the Mandalorians would say: "sheb’urcyin" or kiss the behinds of the Imperials, and Tiber did that exceedingly well, often quoting that the Emperor has shown him the way to enlightenment since the Jedi were traitors to the Republic, and now Galactic Empire.

Most Mandalorians shrug, and Sabine is old enough to understand why they did. Neither the Republic nor the Separatists were that good for the Galaxy.

“Hi, Sabine!” Tiber Saxon chirps. “How’s our gun manufacturing today?”

Sabine ignores his irksome reference as to “gun manufacturing” by not returning her gaze on his mug. “It’s fine. Few more measurements to make. It’ll take me a day or two to complete them.”

“Well, cyar'ika,  I need your weapon -- err -- to show the Empire.” Tiber hovers close to Sabine’s tiny frame as she backs away to loop around to another torque point.

“Copy that. But if these modifications are incomplete, there will be a total system failure.” Her voice stops then she looks up at him, pushing up her tiny goggles. “You agreed to a test run without my knowledge? I am the designer.”

“You said you could scale up and build this ‘gun’ - err - weapon? Did you lie to me, cyar'ika? Since I am the Minister of Defense, I can take whatever I want in the name of the Empire.”

Sabine stops ratching the wrench without showing her disgust at Tiber, calling her "cyar'ika" or "darling or sweetheart." She grabs a hydrospanner to show him she is not his sweetheart. “Would you not want to make sure the Arc Pulse Generator works before you show your prize plans to the Empire?”  She activates the lights from the hydrospanner directly into his eyes and moves to various joint touchpoints on the Duchess. “And what’s the vehicle you will use, Tiber? A droid? A landspeeder? What?” Underneath her breath, she says, "Di'kut." for "idiot."

Tiber moves to her side to see her mouth and where she works. He leans on the equipment and twirls away from her line of sight. “I was hoping, and you’d help me with that -- Mesh'la.”

Then she drops the tool and screams. Tiber is flirting with her, and she is 14 years old, calling her "beautiful" with that flutter from his tongue. “OUCH!” She yanks off her goggles and glares at him.

Tiber rushes to her and cradles her hand and the wound. His queasiness shown by his squint shows he cannot stand the sight of blood. “Let me see? Eww. Nayc. Get that away from me.”

Sabine shifts her head when she watches Tiber, then turns to her cut that is barely bleeding now. She grabs adhesive to glob it over the wound and smooths over it. It was less than 2 millimeters wide and 0.25 millimeters deep. “I think you should go, Minister Tiber Saxon. I will have your weapon ready in three days, tops.”

 


 

Tiber grabs her shoulder to yank her out of the laboratory. “Let's take a break - Mesh'la. Do you drink Netra Gal?” A milk Mandalorian ale, which is the only thing that makes Tiber Saxon close to a Mandalorian with his prancing around in Imperial Stormtrooper gear.

Unable to fight him off, Sabine manages to push him away and stumbles to the outside quad nearby where she works. The local bars were a block away. “Nayc. I do not drink. I really should return to my duties if I am to complete your project in three days.”

“Nonsense. I can get droids to finish it. They have your datapad that has the calculations, right?” Tiber laughs. He drags her tiny bicep as she trots behind him to enter the bar. She sees several holocams record her, and she starts to fidget. Tiber's cheesy grin causes him to sit in an isolated booth further away from the holocams, although many were there. Interestingly, there were ID-9 probedroids that hover in the place as it plays blaring music on a playlist that no one her age jams. Oldies. No Modal Nodes or Max Rebo. Now their music is popular in some corners of the galaxy.

The bar is filled with a mix of Mandalorians from various clans, Stormtroopers and TIE fighter pilots, and a few low-ranking gray-suited Imperial officers. Not much in the way of decor. A drab place. Sabine experimented with some graffiti with a few rebellious cadets late at night to tag places. The outside walls of this bar may have been one of the tagger spots. It got painted over immediately, but the idea is to get it on there and not get caught. Her mind ruminates, and perhaps she should suggest to the graffiti group to tag the bar again.

A waitress droid comes to the table to take their order, and Tiber spoke for their order. The waitress droid leaves and then returns quickly to hand him the ales. While he purposely turns his back toward Sabine, he adds an unknown substance to one of the glass mugs and gives her the "tainted" ale. Then he salutes for libations, and they drink.

Within seconds, Sabine, a 14-year-old girl, suddenly becomes loopy. Her eyes drop, and her body is unable to move. She can barely keep her head up as her neck muscles give. She slurs her words. “What did you put into my---”