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Sandy Sarna

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Everything posted by Sandy Sarna

  1. Sandy kept her place next to Kirlocca, playing the part of close company, her own hood pulled up enough to cover the bright platinum of her hair. She spared a smile for the imperial officer, but her pale green eyes kept watch between the door and the bar. Leena had done the right thing exiting when she had, and it spaced their already overcrowded group out. And gave an avenue for escape should the need arise. Her gaze turned to her apprentice and the hutt she was talking to. She would have cried out in alarm and grabbed her sabre from its hidden place had the force not told her that there was no threat from him. She kept her gaze on him for a moment until a new danger revealed itself in the form of two massive Falleen men and a lithe lilithesque figure. She let her gaze fall naturally down to the table. Willing herself and her allies to not be seen as a threat and for them to be passed over as normal patrons.
  2. Sandy could feel something off in the force. Not just the constant drudgery of evil that seemed to permeate the world, but this was coming from her new friend, someone who always struggled with her own evil. Sometimes thrust upon her, and sometimes, like now, the vain temptation put forward by biology and desire. This was certainly an odd world, and though she had experienced the pheromones of the local species before, it always came as a shock. It stirred emotions deep in the pit of her stomach desires that she hadn’t really put fully away after her time with Aidan. But she did learn to control those feelings so long ago, that it felt like secondary nature to let them pass through her and out. She took a breath, using a little bit of her energy to dispel temptation and desire, and replace it with the fierce calm of the force. She reached out a scarred hand and lightly touched Keenava’s wrist. She let the force flow through her touch. Not the willful and forceful touch that she may have experienced from prior masters, but a calm reassurance. Letting her lean on that strength, should she need it, to resist temptation and to steady her nerves. There was no reason to harm herself to try to regain composure. She smiled warmly at the waitress, and took a seat next to Kirlocca, slipping a thin arm around him to give him fierce hug. He had lost much. More than all of them. And though his presence was a surprise, she was very glad to see him here. There was no one better to rely on than the wookiee Jedi master.
  3. The force was strong on this world, its dark hue battering against each of her senses as she strode down the boarding ramp onto the dark duracrete landing pad. Even the smell of the world was off, as if an evil was clinging to each molecule of oxygen. Clawing its way down her throat with every breath. Furtive gazes looked up from datapads as the pedestrians and techs did their utmost to not be seen. An oppression could be felt from their every action. Minds closed off from the outside worlds in fear and submission. She glanced back at the group behind her. Her whisper carrying only as far as their ears. “Remember, if we show ourselves as Jedi, and that includes calling each other ‘master’ we are likely already dead. Let us find a place to stay the night, and a place to base our operations out of.” She let her eyelids flutter closed as she tentatively reached out into the force, it was only for a moment, and she could feel a dim presence she had not felt in many years. A comforting presence, even if wracked by grief. She could not put her mind directly on the presence, and quickly withdrew behind her own silent mask. Blending into their surroundings as they walked towards the market square. There would be information to be found there.
  4. The datapad laid out the bulk of the mission details and was surprisingly in depth with its functional knowledge of Falleen. Most of the information likely had been plundered from the minds of the Sith Survivors over Nar Shaddaa by enterprising Imperial interrogators who were eagre to find anything and everything that could teach them the fate of their beloved Empress. And though the Falleen cultists had been scarce in knowledge about the Empress, they had spilled a hundred thousand and one tales about what had been occurring on their homeworld. Cultish devotions to the dark side and some manifestation they called the “Fanged god.” Enslavement, rape, ritual sacrefice, and a complete mind control program that had washed over the population of Falleen, snaring everyone they could grasp in the name of the Sith. The world had become a demon’s plaything, and there was naught to do, at least according to the interrogators’ notes, but wipe the slate clean and start again. The planet had been built in the image of its masters, its priceless native culture plowed over and replaced with vile sorcery and a death cult. Its scenery and foliage hacked down and replaced with thousands of miles of trenches, fortifications, and artillery emplacements. Its pristine skies turned into a shipyards that stripmined moons to crusted bare rock. Sandy could feel the pique of anger flare up behind her eyes as she read on, letting the stories and reports wash across her consciousness until she was too disgusted to keep reading. She took a deep breath, then another, and let the bitter anger drain away from her. She wiped at a tear with the back of her wrist, then took another steadying breath. It would take such strength to survive the coming days, and in the back of her mind somewhere she wished that Aidan was there to walk beside her into this mission. He had always been her cornerstone, for almost a decade she had kept his sly grin as the secret memory to cherish. A source to draw hope from in the darkest moments of a bitter night. But now that too was gone, and though hope was far more prevalent in the galaxy with the passing of the Sith Empire. The loss still felt as sharp as a knife. She took another breath and drew on the force to steady herself. It was time to go. She tucked the datapad away, and took the short walk to the shuttle, a small satchel of clothes, equipment, and medical supplies her only possession for the moment. The plastoid armour segments of her 98th Caridian Infantry regiment uniform also tucked into the bag, giving it most of its bulk. She tossed it into the small gargo bay on the shuttle and gave Leena and her apprentice an unconvincing grin. She gave Keenava the same smile. And gestured to her to put her own satchel in the bay. “It is going to be a long ride, taking civilian routes all the way in. Lightsabers hidden best you can. It’s not likely going to be an easy time, come what may. But I wouldn't have anyone else beside me.” The engines fired up with a roar that cut off anything else she may have wished to say.
  5. Sandy looked from her datapad to Leena, then to her friend's new apprentice. then at last to Keenava. The briefing was a quick one, more of an outline than anything final and set in duracrete. But it was her responsibility to make the mission work, and she would not have chosen a better Jedi team than the few people that stood around her. “Thank you for joining me on such late notice, as the situation stabilizes on the galactic front, it appears there are still dozens if not hundreds of Sith allied worlds whose governments have not been willing to or have been unable to approach the Alliance for help. One such world is called Falleen. A previously peaceful world whose goverment was overthrown by the Sith. We have not been able to establish contact since, and any reports speak of a blood cult, slavery, and massive brainwashing programs.” She looked up again. “We are to infiltrate the planet under disguise, identify leadership, and identify if there is a way to help the people of Falleen overthrow their oppressors, or if it should be left to the Imperial Military.” She smiled wanly at the thought. “We are not a member of the alliance military due to being Jedi Affiliated, which gives us a lot more leeway in how we proceed. Are you in?”
  6. Sandy smiled in response to the touch that traced the scars on her hand and arm. There was peace there, an understanding that passed between them that could not be easily expressed. A pain that they had both experienced, and a healing that would come in time. And in that moment at least, Sandy could sense a seed of friendship blossoming between the two of them. A pure and genuine one, which brought a wide smile to her pale lips and she clasped the other woman’s hand just as tightly. “Thank you, Keenava.” Who knew that in the midst of a horrific loss of life, the near destruction of an Alliance planet, and galactic turmoil, there was still an opportunity to meet a friend? Sandy was grateful for it, even though she knew even in the speaking, that their time for rest was nearly finished. Her datapad chimed annoyingly, persistently informing her that she had been dispatched on another mission for the Jedi Order. She sighed and sat back, releasing the other woman's hand and reaching into the pouch that hung from her belt. A single glance told her that a priority mission was in the works and that her presence was requested at the command headquarters a few kilometers away. Her green eyes glanced up from the screen and she sat he datapad down on the table beside her. “I have been summoned, and another mission takes me off world in a few hours. I do not want to pressure you to follow with me, but if you wished to, you would be most welcome.”
  7. She gave the woman’s hand a tight squeeze before she let go. “I think most of us in the Jedi Order have our own unique tale of woe. Though before I start my own journey I must say that your outlook and direction towards those that hurt you, is admirable and very healthy." It was the approach of a Jedi knight, and even if the woman never set another foot onto the path of the Jedi, Sandy could feel a bud of hope grow in a section of her mind. A hope towards the future of the galaxy that had only ever, much like this woman, seen the ravages of abuse and war. “Some jedi try for decades to release their trauma in such a way, your approach gives me a lot of hope towards the future of the galaxy.” And perhaps the future of those many Sith that had disappeared after the end of the battle in Nar Shaddaa. The Knights claimed that they had not died, as many had claimed, and the rumours regarding the soul of the Empress being lost in the fight told her much more about the future of the Galaxy. But for now, There could be healing, even in in places where the light has rarely shone. She held up a thin white hand where the telling micro scars of skin grafting could still be seen. As she began to talk. How much to tell? How much to tell of a failed mission that had turned her life on its head? A failure of Galactic alliance and Jedi High command. A master sending her still untrained apprentice into a den of slavers with nothing but a training saber? An ambush, capture, failed rescue attempt. Rape, torture, leering grins from the shadows of her cell. Days of it turning to weeks. Rescue, and then the long solitude and depression. Failure, hate, despair. She turned the hand over, a long line of crisscrossed marks stretching from wrist up to disappear in the hem of her tunic. A patchwork of pain and despair, written into flesh with a pen of sharpened steel. Lines crossed over lines, and though they were now faint, no amount of bacta could remove that old self infliction. But when at last, in the depths of despair, abandoned by masters and friends alike, she had held her lightsaber to the side of her head, the trusty weapon had failed. At that point there was hope, even as slim as it may have been, she had clung to it.Pulling herself up from the depths of despair, each hope leading to the next, until she was able to rebuild herself. It was a tale of woe, but one she was glad to share with a friend.
  8. Very few Sith began their journey with that soul ambition. It was true that many came from trauma, only to later inflict a trauma on all those who they interacted with later in their journey. Was it calloused self deception? Or a selfish desire that led them to choose the swiftest path to healing? The thought was one that had constantly tickled at the back of her mind since her encounter with her old mentor in the Maw. Even in that small reflection she could feel the warmth of his blood on her hands. And the smell of boiling flesh and blood crept into the back of her nostrils with her next breath. If she let it, the memory could overwhelm her, dragging her back to the Eternal Vigilance as it was being pulled into the abyss of the Maw. But it was important to not let such a memory have a power over her, and with a blink the face of her old mentor was replaced by the pretty face of the twi’lek. That, afterall, was the life of a Jedi, to deal with the traumas of a galaxy in a century of nearly constant war, while dealing with their own personal journey. So she listened to the woman’s tale, reflecting upon how she could have been in the very same place if she had made only a few other decisions in her own life. And would she have had the strength to pull herself out? Sandy did not know, but she did know that the Twi’lek should be commended for surviving such a tragic journey. And that she would be a lifelong friend. “Thank you for trusting me with your experiences. You will never go back, not if I have any say in the matter!” She gave the woman a genuine smile. “If you saw these old masters before you now, say if Exodus walked through those doors behind you, what would you do? Would you seek a revenge for your treatment?”
  9. Sandy nodded solemnly as the older woman began to speak. “I want to know about you, to learn to appreciate you for who you are today, not whoever you used to be.” She did not need to know every last dark secret the woman possessed. It Would be unfair to ask someone to be so vulnerable and to reveal their trauma before they were comfortable with such a thing. She leaned forward and looked into the other woman’s eyes. Emerald green looking into bright amethyst. “I am not going to judge you, for you have chosen a different path than what you were walking before, that is all that matters.” She gave the woman a smile that was genuine. The corners of Sandy’s mouth turning up and revealing the slight latticework of pale scars that traced up her freckled face. A gift from her very first mission in the Jedi order. A mission that had left far more than just physical scars. “I do not know how far you have come, and I do not need to know. But I do want to say that I am proud of you for making that change. I know many strong men and women that did not choose to turn their back on the addiction that is the dark side.” It was strange to be proud of someone she had just met, but she could feel the surge of emotion in her breast. There was hope in Keenava. A hope that the Galaxy would need.
  10. As the force moved through Sandy Sarna, she let it flow in and out of her like a tide. Relieving the pain of the dying woman beside her. She was swathed in bacta bandages that had bled through in transport, her skin and organs coming apart from deep tissue radiation damage with every jostle of the medical evacuation ship. It had been a turbulent journey, and the young imperial officer cried silent tears that streaked blood red down the side of her face into a congealed mess of her now equally red hair. The Jedi would not speed the natural death of someone who could not be saved, but they were there to comfort and lead like angels to the gates of hades. She could feel her own tears sliding gently down her tired face. Unimaginably hot as they traced their way to her chin. Bacta had miraculous powers, moreso when paired with the organic and ancient kolto that was still shipped off of Manaan. But it was not a cure all, and with only so many tanks and supplies, many of the most grievously wounded were given sedatives and left to pass away as peacefully as they could. In that way, as well as many others, the stain of the tragedy of the Nar Shaddaa permeated the force around them. It stuck to the refugees and the wounded like a thick oil, oozing out of their pores with every heaving breath or sobbing cry. Sandy felt the grip of the young officer strengthen for a moment, her clear gray eyes staring into Sandy’s as she struggled against a dissolving larynx to speak. There was resolve there in her eyes, where minutes before they had been clouded with pain. “Tell him Serro I still love him.” Sandy returned the grip with her own. Squeezing the woman’s hand hard as she nodded. “I will.” And the young officer smiled once, before her face went slack and she breathed no more. Sandy held the grip for a minute before her other hand reached up and closed the sightless gray eyes that stared without fear into oblivion. One death among the trillions that had perished in the battle of Nar Shaddaa. If ever there was evidence of a tear in the force, a great tragedy that would last a multitude of generations. Spinning a trauma that could last until the last star in the galaxy burned into a shroud of darkness. It was something to discuss with the council, if anyone of the council still remained alive. She could sense Leena, and even see her, but Draygo she could not feel. Nor could she feel Kirlocca. And for a moment she could feel a rush of emotion as her heart sank for him. He had found someone truly special in the Empress, and now with her death, she could not fathom how he must feel. It would cut her to the core if she lost Aidan. He had been her cornerstone since she was a teenager. So as she stood and tried to wipe away the tiredness of the day, she whispered a prayer for Kirlocca before opening her eyes to look for her apprentices. They were both assisting in the comfort of the wounded as they should have been. She glanced up to the Roene and gave him a nod of appreciation before gesturing the two apprentices to her. “I believe it is time that we break for a while, get some food in us and get to know each other before we continue into exhaustion.” She gestured them to follow her to the sanitation station and from there into the small attached cafeteria which was sparsely populated with exhausted medical staff and a few serving droids that were dishing up food. She grabbed a non discript salad and sat down at one of the empty tables, when they had joined her she gave them each a smile before taking a bite of her food. “So tell me about yourselves. What brings you here and what are you are trying to become.”
  11. From the twitching of Keenava’s lekku, there was a lot moving under the surface of the ex-sith lord. Her complicated past would reveal itself in time Sandy knew, and such things should not be picked at, nor should they be exposed in front of an audience. It could take years for the woman to be comfortable enough to expose her pain and work on its healing. But that was what Sandy was for, and she had been through a lot of pain and darkness in her early years as well. So she gave the black skinned twi’lek a warm smile, and walked with her and Meku to the foot of the Marine’s bed. Where the smell of burned flesh was now nearly overwhelming. The marine stared up towards the ceiling of the triage tent, his eyes slowly tracing the lines of fabric, counting each thread he could see as he tried to fight against the urge to scream, or to cry out in pain. He was a soldier, and he knew that as such he should bear the pain with grace and dignity. The infernal sounds of crying and begging that echoed down the long tent from other victims turned his stomach. If there was much of a stomach to turn left after his encounter with the Sith. But his eyes betrayed his fear. His fear of unmanning himself before the end. The fear of not knowing if his family had made it off world. They had lost so many friends at Kuat, even grandpa… and he had not yet repaid the galaxy for what his father had done at…but he did not want to think about that. And if his family had made it out, his son would redeem the family line and the imperial pension board would take care of Lucy. They had to. He took a deep breath that faltered near its end into a long stream of extremely painful coughs. Each cough causing his torn and burned flesh to grate against destroyed nerves until his coughs ended in a long hiss of pain. His bandages now soaked with the greasy brown of burned and denatured blood. “Sergeant Alsinon.” Sandy spoke softly as she walked to his side. Trusting that her two apprentices would listen and observe. If they looked at him through the force, they would see that his life was now measured in seconds and minutes. His internal organs thoroughly destroyed by the rage of the Sith. The man looked up with eyes that could barely see and Sandy reached into the force to guide her words. Flashes of his worry came before her eyes. And she seized at the very root of many. “You have fought well, and no stain remains of your past.” His sightless eyes widened. “Now go in peace and joy. Walk again in the sunlight without shame.” Sandy laid her hand softly on his brow. And the man breathed no more. For as much as the Jedi were healers, they were also comforters of the dying.
  12. Sandy let a smile flash across her face for a moment as she watched Keenava and then young Meku understand the first of her teachings. There was much to say about the lesson, much to caution about love and how its pursuit could become perverted and dark, how one could become completely lost in its shadow and never emerge again. But those lessons could only be taught when she knew Keenava and Meku. With their acquaintance only just beginning, anything like a lecture on love would only feel misplaced and even harmful. It was good to see Meku caring for the ex-sith, even offering a set of medical scrubs to replace the scraps that she had been wearing. It was a good sign of the heart of the young apprentice. When the twi’lek had returned in a different set of clothes Sandy stood and looked each in the eye before she spoke. “Now we have many more patients to work with before the day is spent, and you will see death close at hand. Are you ready for that task?” The way of the Jedi was a harsh one, one fraught with death and loss. And there was no better way to show them the way of the Jedi than to see it close at hand. She gestured down the ward to where an imperial marine was laying, his body covered in the burns that could only come from lightning summoned by the force.
  13. “Do not let small defeats and dismays bring your spirit low.” She laid her hand lightly on the apprentice’s back as they stepped into the Refugee Triage unit. “You must take each encounter in stride. Do not rely on pride to bolster yourself, and do not embrace dismay. Encounter everything with a desire to learn. I am not disappointed in you, nor do I reject your appeal to become my apprentice. So chin up, and you may want to hold your breath when we enter the ward.” For someone who had trained under the great healers on the old Gala Temple, Sandy still was affected every time she walked into a triage. Pain echoed through the force, mixed with the copper smell of blood, and the stench of vomit, it would bring many able beings to turn and walk away. But it did not deter the young Jedi Apprentice and nor did it deter Sandy. Except the slight tingle of danger that ran up her spine at the arrival of the Twi’lek and her droid. She gave the black skinned twi’lek a look of appraisal, before putting her hand on her apprentice’s arm. Indicating him to put away his training blade, for there was no threat in Keenava’s eyes or aura. She inclined her head to the older woman in greeting then looked back to Ruin. “Thank you for bringing her to me, please give my dearest affections to your master. And best of luck to you in your hunts.” She waved for the Twi’lek to come closer and for her to walk beside young Meku as they began to enter the medical ward. Most of the screaming was dulled by the soundproofed curtains that were strung between each long line of beds, but it was still very audible, causing Sandy to have to raise her voice. “We are here to heal and serve, you are most welcome to join us if you are up for the task. Keep an eye for the black tags. They are the ones that only the force can save.” She would get to know the Twi’lek as they worked, just as she would get to know Meku. There was nothing to be ashamed or nervous about. She was glad the ebony twi’lek had left the shadows of the darkside behind her. And only time would tell if she would be bale to stay away from its temptations. She pulled aside a curtain on a black tagged triage unit and saw a long line of victims, some dozen or so laid out as neatly as possible, hooked up to little more than pain medications to keep them from screaming their way into the grave. She knelt beside the bedside of a silent and horribly burned young woman. Human. Late teens. A survivor of one of the many evacuation shuttles that had been shelled by the sith on their way out of the gravity well projectors. A single glance at the holographic chart explained it, the burns were radiological and had come from one of the decimator torpedoes that the Sith had been using. “Now both of you sit beside me.” She waited until they had knelt beside her then she placed both of her hands onto the huge and seeping wounds. “Watch, learn, and consider.” Her eyelids fluttered closed and she let the force flow through her. Gathering in its tides and waves as she began to reach out to the young woman at her fingertips. Pain, suffering, despair, guilt. It all roiled out of the young woman, like the waves of radiation that had melted and burned her flesh. “Many wounds, both physical and mental, have their source in the mind.” Her voice was so soft. Barely above a whisper as she concentrated. “The body will obey the mind always, even to the point of destroying itself and giving up a struggle it can win.” The force echoed in the young woman’s pain. Flashing horrible memories with each unsteady heartbeat. A life long in its suffering. Slavery, freedom, family, death, despair, agony. Each thought and idea flashed before her eyes like she had been seeing them herself. But deep below the pain, in the farthest crevasse of the memory she could feel the hope. The joy of family, even the sad and resolute joy of a family now gone. A love that could never be taken away. A love that would endure through a long recovery. “In life, even in the pain, there is love and there is joy to find solace in. From the smallest memory or love, or desire, they are enough to carry this woman through what is to come. And when she has recovered enough, she can choose for herself how to go forward.”
  14. She could feel her own eyebrows raise for a moment at the young man’s revelation, it was certainly coming as a surprise, and since she was often one of the Jedi who were deployed to active war and conflict zones, she had her doubt that such a nervous young boy would be of any advantage to her. It was a great way to get an apprentice killed, and the weight of that revelation caused a frown to cross her freckled face. “Well met Mekuma Simka.” She extended her hand in the classic human gesture of greeting. “Tell me about yourself and all that you have learned at the temple as we walk together.” She set off towards the large medical ward that dominated the plateau the temporary spaceport was nestled into. If there was any way to harden a new apprentice, or get them to ask for a transfer it was to take them straight into the heart of darkness. To see and experience the horrors of war first hand. To witness death and decay, heartbreak and injury that he would experience every day of his life if the war dragged on longer.
  15. She let the kiss linger for longer than it probably should have. Enjoying the warmth of his embrace and the firm pressure of his arms around her waist. In those strong arms she felt the peace that she had always longed for, and if her Comm had not so irritatingly chirped, she may have been able to have stayed longer. But her life was not her own, and the few pleasures that she was afforded would need to be postponed. In peacetime there would be time to rest, to let the dark circles under her eyes finally go away. But there was more to do. She gave him a sad smile and walked away. Striding the long twisting halls of the prefab barracks as she flipped open the holographic display on her comm unit. It was a message from the makeshift port authority telling her of another delivery of medical supplies from Corellia that was destined for the medical tents. Mundane as it might be, in a refugee camp, there was always the threat of such supplies going missing, or being acquisitioned by the wrong authorities. She shrugged her light pack over her shoulders and had begun to push her way through the long lines of refugees when she felt a prickling at the back of her neck. It was not danger, but it was certainly the touch of an unfamiliar mind on hers. She stopped and let the force flow freely into her, washing away the tiredness and clearing her vision completely. She could feel fear and anxiety in the force, and she would track that mind down. A young mind, alien to her own human one. An Apprentice? She reached out in turn. Pinpointing the small presence in the force and she pushed her way through the crowd until she saw a very lost looking blue Nautolan, Not too many years younger than herself. Wearing the robes of a jedi apprentice. “Are you lost Apprentice? Where is your master?”
  16. The heated water ran across her body, washing a mix of blood, grime, and duracrete dust into the drain at her feet. It would undoubtedly be collected and recycled, and with the distinct lack of Jedi population in the surviving quarters, she let herself spend a few extra minutes under the warm water. She let her mind wander, enjoying the emptiness, and feeling wave after wave of exhaustion wash away from her. She breathed slowly as the water cascaded over her face, letting it wash every bit of grime and sweat away, mixing it with the cares and fears that she had carried throughout the battle, letting them drain away until her mind was solid again. Aidan had survived. The Council had survived, the Imperial Knights had survived. Her friends had survived. The Alliance would continue, and they might even turn the tide… Her eyes caught the corner of her datapad, and she saw the headlines. Nar Shadda lay in ruins, and the empress’s ship destroyed. The Fleets scattered to the winds. She gulped back another surge of emotion, then stepped out of the steaming refresher unit. It was time to face the day, and time to face the future. She could not stay in the safety of a shower forever, just like she could not stay meditating forever. There was a future to find, and a new life to build. She dried quickly, slipped into a pale blue tunic that was slightly too large, which she tied down with the belt around her thin waist, before walking across the hallway to where she could feel Aidan. She tapped on his door and waited to see if he would answer.
  17. “Considering we had the majority of the non training Jedi Order on location at Nar Shaddaa…” She lifted her tired head and scanned the crowds of refugees. “We are likely in the same boat as the Imperial Knights.” It was an odd turn of phrase, but she had been raised on the backwater world of Gala after all. Where such old phrases were commonplace. But she did not speak her fears, though the Jedi Order had always been much larger than the revanchist faction of imperial allied Knights. They had likely been just as decimated. And as a Jedi Council member she would need to see the compiled list of names, likely many pages long of all those that died as heroes in this latest engagement. Would the fighting ever end? Would they finally have the chance to catch their breath? She did not speak that worry to Aidan, but instead leaned in for another hug. Pulling him close, close enough to smell the scent of death and fire in his hair. She probably smelled the same, but she did not care. A few seconds later she pulled herself back from him. “The Jedi have always been welcoming to the Imperial Knights. If you need help rebuilding, we will help.” They had been fighting alongside each other for what felt like a decade by now. She looked from Aidan to the Queen and gave her a quick curtsie before beckoning them both towards one of the barrack prefabs that had been placed in the low point of the triage zone. “That is the Jedi barrack, please take a shower or whatever you need. There is food and fresh clothes for the both of you.” What she did not say was how empty the barrack was, or that they had a lot of extra equipment and rooms because of how few Jedi had actually made it safely home.
  18. The exhaustion was so utter that she could not have felt Aidan’s presence unless she had caught his eye. One glance up from her last patient and she could feel an involuntary smile creep up her tired face. She deftly tied off the bacta bandage and slowly stood up. She knew she must have looked a wreck, clothes burned and torn, and covered in dried blood. But for a glimmering moment she was happy. Pure unadulterated happiness that caused the pallour of two days of constant fighting and destruction to lift. If only for a moment. But what a blissful moment it was. She quickly walked towards the imperial knight, struggling with a thousand different emotions. Many which brought a healthy tear to her eyes, and which overflowed in dirty cascades down her cheeks as she gave him a light and wound avoiding hug. “I’m so glad you made it Aidan.” Her voice was a hoarse whisper as she placed one hand lightly upon the red bandage that covered his torso. Her eyelids fluttered closed for a moment, and she drew heavily upon the force. Letting the force move through her joy, through her love, and into the deep cut wound. Within a few minutes of work the wounds had at least stopped bleeding and a healthy scab had formed where burned and destroyed flesh had once been. Only then did she notice the young girl in the outfit of the Naboo starfighter corps. She wanted to ask ten thousand questions, but settled on the only one she cared for. “How have you been Aidan?”
  19. Methodically, the white blade of the lightsaber peeled away layer after layer of melted duracrete and durasteel as she carved a passage through the rubble of a fallen prefab residential tower. The small group of non combatants that huddled behind her, staying silent as they watched her carve a way through the fallen building. She spared them a glance through sweat stung eyes and gave one of the children a reassuring grin. Most of them were the younglings of both orders, a mix of children from age twelve to the two toddlers that were being held by the older kids. At the one glance Sandy caught the eyes of the two oldest. Both Imperials, whose high cheekbones betrayed their royal lineage as either from Kuat or one of the inner rim colonies. They were the most calm, and gave her a reassuring nod as she pushed her saber through the last half a meter of permacrete. They knew their orders, and knew that one of the last shuttles out of the doomed planet lay on the other side of the fallen skyscraper. The two oldest kids made sure everyone else was on their feet, then when they were ready. Sandy kicked the permacrete apart. It came away in a large section, and she was greeted by a blast of superheated air and the prickly copper taste of radiation. She took a step back and called upon the force. Letting that singular joy run through her body before she let the force form itself into a shield around the opening. It was time for the children to go. The engines of the Corvette were already flaring to life and the support crew waiting on the ramp. The last transport out of Hell. “Go quickly.” The shield would not last forever, and with the large amount of radiation that was raining onto the shield from one of the many nuclear detonations nearby, Sandy doubted she could hold it much longer than it would take the last kids to make it to the corellian corvette. The kids ran then, the last one turning to give her a look of appreciation and regret as they sprinted their way through the rubble. Sandy watched them run, keeping the shield positioned above and around the stretched out line of children. That is until one of the Imperial Acolytes tripped on a chunk of transparisteel and slammed her head into the ground with a wet thud. Spilling the toddler she was carrying into the hot ground. Sandy moved, pulling heavily on the force as she kept a shield over the two fallen forms as well as the others. She knew she was close to the end of her reserves, the long day of battle meditation, fighting, and rescue operations stretching her to near a breaking point. But this was now a matter of life and death, and Sandy could afford to risk it all. The planet beneath her feet was dying, and would take many billions of innocents along with it. But for now all she could concentrate on was what lay before her. In half a second she had covered the distance and she scooped the two forms up into her arms. Joining the rest of the children as they ran up the ramp into the Corvette. At least one part of the next generation of Knights and Jedi would survive. And the starship sped up into the atmosphere.
  20. Sandy walked beside the Imperial Knight as they made their way deeper into the busy hallways of the Red and Black. Though their bond had been shattered at Vernza-Torrah and it had not yet fully healed, she could still sense his mind working. She kept her silence, her own mind working in tandem. Thoughts flying at a thousand kilometers per hour as they walked through the whitewashed halls. But she was used to the intrusive thoughts by now, those negative little voices that shouted her insecurities back at her, and she knew how to sort them. To let their wicked words waste their energy and fall away, and to focus on the now, and the good future that might be around the corner. She gave Aidan a gentle smile as they paused beside a turbolift. He blurted out his thoughts and she cocked her head to the side. Her smile drawing a crooked grin on her lightly freckled face. “Aidan, as much as I love and respect your mother-” She put her hand out and placed it lovingly on his armoured shoulder. “-Shouldn’t we talk first?” Last they had left things before their rescue mission, they had both been a mess of raw emotions. Both of them left totally devoid of the love that had sustained them for so long. There was no doubt in hermind that she loved him. Even through it all she loved him more than before. But they should at least talk about this before taking it to the grandmaster. She could feel his determination, so she sought to reassure that determination. “Aidan I love you-” The rest of her sentence was drowned out in the explosion of shattering glass and the nauseating feeling of the darkside. It was strange how sudden and overwhelming it was, even as screams echoed up from the observation deck below them. She leaned forward and planted a short and distinct kiss on his lips. She loved him, and no matter what happened in the coming days or hours, she wanted that to be the thing he thought of when in the breaks of the fighting he could afford to let his mind wander. She gave him a smile, shrugged out of her cloak, and then lept off the edge of the walkway towards the pull of the Darkside. He had his assigned missions, and she had hers. Protect the innocent. Even to death.
  21. So they had finally arrived home, such as it was, to the Red and Black fortress. A great and magnificent piece of Neo-Imperial architecture, it cut a harsh line against the horizon. Hulking there like a beast out of time against a profile of new prefab housing skyscrapers. Sandy blinked the stale sweat out of her eyes and then used the hem of her tunic to wipe away the grime on her hands with a scowl. She needed a refresher and quickly, especially if the Jedi council had anything to meet about. But she could not care too much about that. Aidan was facing a probable crisis, and Sandy had just seen a lesson that she needed to think a long time about. Perhaps she had never once seen it in her life. Someone willingly accepting death. Not even fighting it, but walking into the embrace of the eons with arms wide open. There was something powerful in that. The peace was astounding. And she gave the older woman a smile. A grateful smile as they walked through the doors into the imperial stronghold. They were safe for now, even if all three needed a shower. She took a look at Aidan and placed her hand on his shoulder. She said nothing, but he would know that she was there.
  22. Sandy slowly walked behind the Grandmother and Grandson duo. Her concentration equally divided between the tasks of disguising them from any errant patrols, and hoping that Aidan was taking his Grandmother’s advice. He was a good man, and one that had the opportunity to become the one that fully redeemed the Darkfire lineage. Not to mention keeping the Imperial Knights from becoming a Revanchist group. Instead focusing them away from their eternal hatred of the Sith and into a fight for peace and justice instead of death and violence. She loved him dearly, but there was something self destructive in him that she could not quite pin down. So while they finally finished their trek Sandy kept her eyes on the back of his head. Saying silent prayers.
  23. Sandy smiled wryly at the old woman’s remark, but kept up her healing connection nonetheless as they made their way down the long ladder. There was no need to be secret with their force use anymore, since it appeared that all of their objectives had been secured. Aidan freed, and Misal’s hidden objective of espionage also equally secured. That one would be hard to answer for if she was questioned on it. The Imperial remnant had been fighting the Sith in the outer rim since before Sandy had become a Knight. And she, like many of the other of the knights in her generation, had cheered them on while the jedi council forbade them from pursuing the Sith. Something that had fatally stabbed the jedi in the back, by both the schism of the revanchists, then the same sith smashing a moon down on their heads. Sandy shook her head to push those thoughts out of her head. Regrets and second thoughts had plagued her for most of her teens and she would not let them come back. Those decisions had not been hers to regret. She held Misal upright and spared a glance to the bisected creature. Then with the sound of speeder bikes rushing towards them Sandy called upon the force. Not an illusion like those the Sith could conjur, but a cloak of the force fell upon the three of them. They would not be discovered unless one of the speeder bikers were an imperial knight. “Let’s keep our heads down eh?” Sandy grinned and passed the support of Misal to her grandson. Such use of the force took a lot of concentration.
  24. Sandy, a counselor with no little knowledge of the healing arts let a grim smile flash across her face. She reached out with the force and let her mind touch the wounds, the exhausted muscles, and let the warmth of the force flood into them. The first stage of healing, giving old flesh the motivation to knit itself back together. Nudging it along with the force. She steadied the woman and made sure her arm was properly supported as they began their walk back. It was time for silence, time for her to work on the physical wounds, while Aidan did his work with the emotional ones.
  25. Though Sandy was not horrified in the slightest by the site of the pale and empty sockets. She knew that revealing them would be of some embarrassment to Misa, but there was always a solution at hand. With deft fingers she grasped the hem of her light green tunic. She tore it from one end of the seam to the other, so that she held a long strip of clean soft fabric that she gently pressed into Misal’s hand. Sandy did not know if it was because of modesty that the Miraluka wore coverings over their eyes, or a longstanding vain tradition. But she would let the woman cover herself if she needed to. But there was something more concerning. The old woman spoke in such fatalistic tones, that she was worried that she could fall quickly into shock. She kept a grin on her face and crouched beside Misal. The Mission, as much as a failure as it may have been, was no longer important. “Are you alright?” The sound of speeder bikes roared again overhead and Sandy tighten her own grip on the woman's upper arm. “Can you stand?”
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