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21  10:16am 13/09/15        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
A few miles outside Toron City…



Janna came to slowly, and opened her gritty eyes wearily. Despite the red haze that hung in the sky dimming the natural daytime, a result of all the planet had suffered in the past few days, they still stung as they reluctantly adapted to the light.

Momentarily disoriented, Janna struggled to comprehend how she came to be here, and just where 'here' actually was, which appeared to be on a beach full of grassy sand dunes, under some kind of makeshift shelter, one of many dotted about the area.
Although there appeared to be more than one 'bed' (if you could call it that) … she seemed to be alone.

Urgh…Headache.

Alright. Lets start with the basics. 

Alive?

I think so, at least for the time being… A good start. We can check that off the list.

Name? 

Check.

Getting better, things can only improve from here…

Date?

hrm…


Janna looked around, and found no real way to determine how long she had been… (Her thoughts trailed off) just what had she been?
Asleep? Unconscious? In a damned coma?


Okay, well, we'll come back to that one…

Janna sat up stiffly, and worked her limbs, from her toes, up to her legs, and down through her arms to the tips of her fingers…

Right, everything accounted for, I'm still in one piece. (Also a good thing)

Hurrah! things are looking up!

And with a wry smile, Janna Novak, rose awkwardly from her 'bed' and for a brief second, wished she hadn't, as her head began to spin causing her stomach to lurch somewhat.

Woah! Sitting back down.

As she sat there for a moment, everything came back to her in a sudden wash of emotions…

The great wave had arrived with almost no warning at all, leaving them precious little time to actually do anything except brace themselves.
As the events started to unfold they had been recalled for relief and patrol duty, but before they could be of any use to anyone the wave had struck, and the frigate had been sent reeling, powerless to fight against the giant swell.

Before they could fully recover, a second wave hit soon after, a kind of residual after-effect from the first, and in the chaos Janna had been thrown to the deck, and had hit her head, hard.

Eventually beached miles inland, the vessel had been badly damaged, and Janna had given orders to abandon ship. Hardly the most glorious of endings for her newest commission, but it seemed the fates had left her little choice.

A frown began to crease her forehead as she struggled to recall the events after, but found she drew a blank.

Memory loss?

Great.


Evidently , she had hit her head harder than she had first realised, since things got very hazy after that… Janna touched her forehead gingerly, feeling where it had swelled, the skin was still very painful to the touch.

"Novak?"

A familiar voice from behind made her jump, and she replied with a wry smile, without turning around, recognising it's source immediately…

"Landaker…might've known you'd survive you tough old Bantha!"

The stocky first officer grinned, as he responded…"Good to see you too, Captain" 

Janna looked up to face him directly, and studied his appearance, he looked somewhat dishevelled, but otherwise well, it was also good to know, evidently, her memory wasn't that badly affected.

"What the hell happened?" Janna asked, as she massaged her temple gently…

The first officer chuckled throatily as he spoke "You gave us a bit of a scare there, I had to damn near carry you out"

Janna nodded thoughtfully, and then tried to stand up again, reaching out towards her fellow officer with both her arms "Well, wipe that grin off your face and help a lady out?" 
Still smirking, Landaker did exactly that, heaving the Captain to her feet, and letting her rest her weight upon him. "Easy now, don't need you passing out on me again"

"No promises" Janna replied with a half smile of her own, before asking  "How long was I out for?" her tone changing serious…
"Almost two days" Landaker replied.. "The crew will be happy to see you up and about"
Novak turned to face the officer as he spoke, "How many made it out?" The concern for her crew clearly evident in her voice…

Landaker's eyes dropped to the ground for a moment before answering "We lost seventeen hands, most of them drowned, some missing in action, we had some discipline issues, but that mainly stemmed from those wishing to go to Toron city, many lost family there"

Janna held a breath for a moment, as the realisation struck, almost as if remembering itself was enough to wind her …


Toron city!


…Mum!…Dad!



It was as if someone had punched her full force in the stomach, and for a split second Janna would have given anything to be knocked unconscious again, so keenly felt was her loss.

As if sensing this, Landaker steadied her, worried she might lose her balance "Are you alright, Janna?" He asked gently, breaking protocol...

For a brief awful instant, she felt the grief was going to overwhelm her, but she swallowed it down, closed her eyes, and let loose a ragged sigh.

"I'm….I'm fine" She replied. Unconvinced, Landaker just nodded, but remained respectfully silent, as she collected her thoughts.

"Have we heard anything from command?" Janna asked eventually,changing subject…

It was Landaker's turn to fall silent, and he looked down at the ground for a moment before he answered "No. We haven't been able to raise anyone, there seems to be something wrong with our radio equipment, we're getting nothing but heavy interference"

Novak frowned "We need that fixed Landaker, what about supplies, food, water?" Landaker returned a reply with a furrowed brow himself "We're rationing, we managed to get a fair bit off the ship, but, it'll be used up quick, I'd say that was a matter of priority"

"I'd say so too" Janna responded, as the true impact of their predicament began to sink in.


Limited food and water.


No command…


…and no ship.



Janna suddenly felt the urge to just crawl back into the cot she had just awoken from.



 
22  7:33pm 14/09/15        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
Back in the forest...



The Jeep came to a halt with a short skid, and before the cab had finished it’s rocking, Brannigan had his feet planted firmly on the ground and his shotgun gripped tightly in his hands. The Ranger paused and threw a glance towards Tarik, and was about to speak, before the boy pre-empted him “I know, I know!…stay in the car”
Brannigan nodded and flashed the boy a wolfish grin “you’re catching on” before adding gruffly “If anything happens, use the horn” 

Tarik watched him slink off towards the source of the black smoke drifting amongst the trees, with a knot of trepidation beginning to form in his stomach. “Like that’s gonna help” The boy grumbled to himself with a huff.


Brannigan quickly picked his way through the wooded undergrowth with consummate ease, undoubtedly in his element, he only slowed as he sensed he neared the crash site. The ranger lifted his shotgun up to peer down its sights, ready to pull the trigger the moment he saw something he didn’t like.

The impact had created a small clearing, of sorts, with trees felled by the force of the craft’s landing spreading outwards. As he warily clambered over one of them, the craft itself came into full view.

The smoke both of them had seen from miles back, streamed from the other end of the vessel he now approached, leading Brannigan to surmise that was where its engines were placed, and as such was most likely the rear of the craft. He decided to keep his focus on the front.
The ranger crept closer with his shotgun still raised, until a series of metallic ‘clunks’ and grating noises, followed by a loud hissing sound made him freeze instantly.
Brannigan knelt down on one knee and took aim, as a hatch opened up and a figure began to emerge from the smoky interior.
“Come out slowly, with your hands up, no sudden movements!” The ranger demanded, raising his voice over the wheezing drone of the winding down engines, and cocked his shotgun as if to reinforce his words.

“Don’t shoot” A female voice shouted back.

The ranger lowered his weapon slightly to gain a better view of the attractive yet flustered young woman who had just emerged from the ships interior dressed in a close fitting jump suit of some description.
The woman held her hands up, as he had asked.

Huh…

Brannigan’s eyes narrowed in reaction, this was not what he expected, come to think of it, the ranger wasn’t sure exactly what he had expected.
It was this brief moment of hesitation which cost him. In what felt like the blink of an eye, the dark haired woman shot forward, at such superhuman speed that by the time the grizzled ranger had mentally registered what was happening, it was already too late.

A powerful blow knocked him from the side, connecting with his jaw, and his shotgun was wrenched from his grasp, all in what seemed like one fluid movement, sending him reeling to the ground.

“Sonvabitch!”

Brannigan rubbed his now aching jaw and threw an angry glare up towards his assailant only to find the woman now standing over him with his own gun pointed at him, a subtle smile playing across her lips.

“I come in peace” She said dryly.




 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (2:29am 13/08/17, 1 years ago)
23  7:51am 20/09/15        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
The two regarded each other for a long moment, with Brannigan scowling up at the young Jedi and nursing his aching jaw.
“You sure as hell got a funny way of showing it lady!” The ruffled ranger shot back at the woman angrily.

To tell the truth, he was still somewhat dazed from the blow the woman had caught him with. A look of confusion spread across his face as he took in the stranger’s overall appearance and build.

The speed of which she had disarmed him and the power of her punch had simply astounded him into a temporary dumb silence. It just didn’t seem to make sense; to say the attack was disproportionate to her size and frame was no mere understatement. With no ego, Brannigan could honestly say he was no pushover, but the ease of how she had bested him, felt deeply humiliating.

The ranger was just glad there had been no-one else around to see it happen.

What the strange woman did next however, confused him even more, as she gently tossed the gun at the man’s feet…

The ranger glanced down at the weapon and then back up at the odd visitor. For a brief second he contemplated snatching it up and showing her the butt of it up close, but after remembering how he ended up on the floor in the first place, thought better of it.

Natalya’s tone of voice was calm and measured as she spoke “Sorry for that, but I didn’t come all this way, just to get shot by a local…I assume you do come from this planet?”

Brannigan’s already confused expression deepened further (if that was possible)

He blinked at her odd and perplexing question, wondering whether it was some kind of trick “Uh…well..of course I bloody do! Where do you think I come from? Outer space?” He threw back sarcastically, as an unthinkable and almost frightening realisation began to dawn upon the ranger. He looked upon the woman’s clothes, the unrecognisable items she carried, the craft she had arrived in , even her damned accent.

Brannigan’s brow deepened even further, as he began to wrap his head around the, quite frankly ludicrous notion that had crept into his head and had begun to take root, like an unwelcome yet persuasive weed one found in a garden.

The woman remained ominously silent, but in spite of everything, something held deep within her gaze seemed benign, friendly even.

 “Hold on a second, Just, where are you from?” he asked emphatically.

The moment Natalya had seen Brannigan and his archaic weapon, she had realised something for herself, and the enormity of its repercussions, had hit her with a jolt.

Natalya had dropped everything and rushed across the breadth of corporate sector space to get here based on virtually nothing more than a gut instinct, a vision, a belief in the Force, and backed up only by a distress signal. Only to stumble onto what seemed to be a ‘pre-hyperspace’ culture seemingly oblivious to the rest of the galaxy.

Forget pre-hyperspace! Nat suddenly thought, as she glanced back at the shotgun at the floor…these people are still using gunpowder!

Nat found herself at a loss for how best to proceed, or to put it more accurately the ethical dilemma of whether she even should.

The Jedi had come, expecting to warn the authorities of impending disaster, and to perhaps aide in some form of evacuation. KO-BE had already informed her of the disturbing news of the system’s unstable sun, which while both confirmed and (she felt) vindicated her decision to arrive here in the first place, did not exactly put her at ease. 

Though, it was nice to know she wasn’t going bat-shit crazy.

This apparent reality, however, was not what the young Jedi had anticipated at all, and complicated things somewhat, like the immediate matter at hand, for example.

Natalya made her decision, and with it reached out with her right hand to help the ranger to his feet.

“You’re, ah… probably not going to believe this…” The young woman started cagily...

Brannigan hesitated briefly, but then cautiously took the offered hand, and slowly got to his feet, as the mysterious young woman with the killer right hook seemed to struggle to find her words. “After the last couple of days I’ve had” the ranger interjected “Try me”

Yet despite this, no matter how many different ways Natalya ran the words over through her head, all combinations sounded so ridiculous, that she elected instead to start with the basics…

“My name is Natalya, Natalya Vinda, but you can call me Nat” and smiled brightly.

The weathered ranger stared at the odd young woman standing before him with a mixture of suspicion, curiosity, and no small amount of trepidation “Alright Natalie Vindar, my name’s Brannigan, my friends call me Bran, but you can call me Brannigan” He returned, curtly.
“Right” Natalya nodded as she spoke “Still angry about the punch, I take it?” she added with a sheepish expression.
“What gave it away?” Brannigan replied sarcastically, and rubbed his jaw to underline the point, while he slung his shotgun across his shoulder.
“Where the hell did you learn to punch that hard?” Bran asked, still clearly taken aback.
“Uh, let’s just say, I train a lot”

Brannigan’s frown burrowed deeper into his forehead at this cryptic comment, and he cast her an annoyed expression.
“Okay then” he muttered, raising his eyebrows “why are you here? can you at least tell me that?”

The strange visitor paused for a moment, as though considering how best to answer his question. “Well, putting it simply” Nat began “You are all in danger, I came here to warn you all, try to help if I can” 

Brannigan fixed her with a disbelieving stare, before abruptly letting loose a bark of laughter. It was Nat’s turn to be perplexed.
“What’s so funny?” She asked, her tone insistent.

“I’m sorry lady” Brannigan said, between slips of laughter “but if you’d experienced what we’ve just gone through, you’d be laughing at that too. Not to mention the fact, I was just about to say the same thing to you”

Nat folded her arms, unimpressed, and when Bran saw, he raised a hand in supplication “Alright, I’m sorry, but what did you expect? You’re kinda late don’t ya think?”

The young woman looked up at the sky, and the remnants of the planet’s moon could be clearly seen, despite the reddish haze that threatened to block out the daylight.“I can see that” She said, her voice heavily laden with concern, for she knew what had happened to their moon was just a precursor. Whatever was coming next, was what really worried Nat, but how to convey this to the man now standing before her was a problem in itself. 

“Anyway, you still haven’t answered my question” Brannigan continued, pointedly.

Natalya sighed, and then threw him a furtive glance “Okay” The Jedi started, cautiously… “What if I was to tell you I don’t come from here…like you” She began to pace backwards and forwards, it seemed, Brannigan observed, as though the walking helped organise her thoughts…

“I figured that much out for myself” The surly ranger returned flatly.

Nat stopped pacing abruptly , and then threw a wary glance at Brannigan before speaking…

Okay, here goes…

“No I…. I mean,  I come from a different planet altogether” The young woman kind of grimaced as she spoke, as though she found merely saying the sentence physically painful, and she looked up to gauge the ranger’s reaction.

The rough looking man didn’t reply right away, instead he narrowed his eyes slightly and then stole a glance back towards her ship, before eventually returning his steady gaze to meet hers.

Brannigan scratched at his facial undergrowth nonchalantly, and an awkward silence fell upon the two.

“Honestly…”He began slowly…“I really don’t know what to say to that”

Natalya got the distinct impression he thought she was a lunatic, and was mentally preparing herself to argue her case, when the ranger shook his head and laughed again.

“You know, if you had told me this a few days ago, I would have thought you were either crazy, or that this was some kind of wind-up, but now…”He drifted off…as though searching for the appropriate words, and after seemingly finding none, just added with a shrug…
“Hell, I don’t know what to think” 

Brannigan stared at her, as though sizing her up again, from head to toe.

“Besides, you don’t look very alien” He said eventually.

Natalya could only stop and blink at this unanticipated comment...“I’m not!” The Jedi protested, but then clearly as an afterthought added “Well, I guess I am, I suppose…but” The ranger looked even more confused “Well which is it? you either are or you’re not” He interrupted impatiently. This Natalie woman was starting to get on his nerves...

“I’m human, like you...apparently” Natalya responded, with a nod in his direction.

“Well how come I can understand you?” Brannigan challenged, incredulous “Shouldn’t you be speaking some weird alien language?” The ranger waved his hand absently as he spoke, as if batting away an unwanted fly.

Natalya stared at the unshaven man, and found herself nodding in agreement. The Jedi had to admit, the man had a point. 
“I’d like to know the answer to that myself” she replied thoughtfully.

The ranger looked distinctly unimpressed.

“Listen, I know how all this sounds, but I really am telling the truth, and I can prove it” Natalya insisted.
Brannigan held his hands up, and shook his head in response...

“Okay, let’s say, for arguments sake, I believe you, how are you going to help us exactly?” He inclined his head towards her downed ship as he talked “Looks to me like you are just as much in the shit as we are”

Once more, Natalya found she could not argue against the ranger’s logic.
“Well, yes, that part was unplanned” The young Jedi conceded, and ran an absent hand through her hair as she surveyed the state of her craft.

“Why do I get the feeling” Brannigan started, with a gravelly chuckle “you haven’t really planned any of this through at all?”

Natalya was about to reply to the man when a sharp, but distinctive sound suddenly blared through the forest, sending birds scattering and squawking all around. Nat whirled around instinctively , trying to pin-point it’s origin.

“What was that?” Nat yelled , as the ranger swore under his breath, and abruptly began sprinting away in what appeared to be it’s direction.

“The boy!” He shouted back over his shoulder, as if no further explanation were needed.

“What boy?” The Jedi yelled after the man, but when he did not answer, Nat swore herself and followed after him.







 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (2:32am 13/08/17, 1 years ago)
24  4:48am 02/11/15        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
Back at the Jeep…


“Let go!....Get off me!”

Tarik shouted angrily as he squirmed under the vice-like grip of the man’s strong arms.
“Keep still you little shit!” The stranger replied venomously as he strained to keep the boy from wriggling his way free.

Tarik scratched, punched and kicked desperately as the burly man attempted to pull him away from the jeep. In the scuffle the boy spied an opening and elbowed him square in the gut, and as the man’s grip slackened Tarik reached out and slammed his palm down on the steering wheel’s horn, causing it to blare out across the forest once more. If only briefly.
For the next instant, Tarik felt a solid fist slam into his stomach and he doubled up in pain. He tried to scream out but found he couldn’t, and a momentary feeling of panic welled up within him as he struggled to even breathe.

There were three of them.

Tarik had gotten bored of waiting inside the jeep, and had edged closer to the forest to try if he could see where Brannigan had disappeared to, only to be set upon by the strangers. To begin with the boy had managed to wrestle himself free, running back to the jeep, seeking refuge.
Tarik had not been quick enough however, as before he could close and lock the door, one of the men had grabbed him. He managed to use the jeep’s horn several more times before the man successfully pulled him out of the vehicle.

They were refugees, drifters, survivors turned pillagers. 

The three of them had also seen the craft crash land, and were heading towards it themselves, when they had spotted the jeep with just the boy, and more importantly the supplies it was clearly loaded up with. After days of being on the road, they were hungry and desperate. An opportunity like this was like a gift from the gods.

Tarik felt himself dragged out of the jeep and dropped onto the floor. Still winded from the blow he could only grunt in reaction.
“Stay down, or I’ll put you down, for good” One of the men, a muscular brute who seemed to be the leader of the trio, spat menacingly towards him.

Just then, a surly voice interjected the exchange, causing both Tarik and his assailant to turn and face it's source.

"Couldn't have put it better myself" Growled Brannigan loudly through heavy breaths, betraying the speed of which he had come through the forest. The man froze as he saw the barrel of the Ranger's shotgun aimed directly at him.

“Hands up, and step away from my off-roader”

The man threw a furtive glance over to his fellow scavengers and slowly did as he was asked.

“You alright boy?” Bran asked Tarik, who rose groggily to his feet and nodded weakly, and then moved to stand by Brannigan.

“Alright Ranger, you might be fast enough to get a shot off, but you might not be fast enough to hit me” The brute said coolly, as he bought his gaze level with Brannigan.

“At this range, I won’t have to” Bran shot back icily.

The man nodded and smiled faintly “That may be, but you can’t shoot all three of us, seems to me like we outnumber you”

Bran glanced at the other two men as they began to slowly step forward, revealing their weapons, one a large thick branch, another with what appeared to be a piece of heavy metal piping… 

“Look, all we want is the off-roader and the supplies, we don’t want you or the boy, I guarantee no-one has to get hurt” The leader of the three continued.

“I guarantee that if you or your friends over there take another step forward, I’ll blast a hole through you so big, I could park that off-roader in it” Brannigan threatened gruffly in return.

The man seemed taken aback at this, and frowned “Wrong choice Ranger, I tried to be nice!” He snapped angrily before raising his voice louder for his friends to hear “I bet he doesn’t even have any ammo! rush him lads! kill them both”

And as Brannigan tensed himself for the inevitable fight, a voice Bran recognised as the Natalya woman he had met just moments earlier interrupted the tense stand-off.

“That, would be a very bad idea”

Something within her voice, made everyone look towards her and freeze, it held the air of complete confidence, not a threat as such, more a matter of complete conviction.

“Leave now, and don’t come back” Natalya said slowly and evenly, folding her arms across her chest.

“What the?” the burly leader of the group blurted out, “Where the frell did she come from?” and with that he took a moment to take in her appearance, and seemed to like what he saw “Well now, don’t you worry, after we’re done with these two, we’ll be sure to give you our full attention, right lads?…” He replied, his tone leering, and the others voiced their agreement.

“Why not now?” Nat smiled, her tone light and flirtatious, as she stepped in-between the man and Brannigan and Tarik, and threw a surreptitious yet knowing glance towards the grizzled Ranger.

Tarik observed the proceedings with a mixture of alarm and confusion, and he looked up towards Bran with a concerned expression, causing the Ranger to glance down briefly and wink reassuringly, which only served to confuse the boy even further.

To be honest the Ranger was just as clueless as the boy, but at this point, he wasn’t in a position to refuse help, no matter how odd the person seemed to be, but the boy didn’t need to know that, besides, he’d already seen and felt first-hand what she was capable of, and something told him she was capable of a lot more.

Bemused, the leader of the bandits laughed and glanced over to his fellow rogues, who all grinned back at him, egging him on…

“Alright my love, if that’s the way you want it” The man started, “I like ‘em feisty!” and with that, he stepped forward as if to grab the young woman.

Tarik would remember this moment until the day he died, the first time he ever saw a Jedi, Natalya, fight.

Though, he would later recall with the benefit of hindsight, to call it a fight, was somewhat overstating it.

He watched in astonishment as the woman held her ground, calmly closed her eyes and simply raised her right hand, and from out of nowhere some kind of…force threw the man back, so hard and so fast he literally flew up into the air about six foot clear from the ground straight into the forest undergrowth in what must have been almost ten metres behind him. His arms and legs comically flailing frantically about him in a mad panic as they snatched uselessly at nothing but air.

The other two men faltered for a moment, confused, but regained their composure, and rushed the woman.
Brannigan shouted out a warning, but it proved to be redundant, as the strange lady moved so fast she became nothing more than a blur, and evaded their clumsy attacks with a skill and deftness that would leave a permanent impression upon the boy.

As the two flustered men regrouped, the woman reached for something, and a loud snap, followed by a distinctive buzzing sound made Tarik jump, and suddenly the small clearing by the roadside was bathed in an eerie violet light.

The strange weapon the young woman now held poised in front of her, she held as one would a sword, but Brannigan had never seen anything of it’s like before in his entire life; a sword of bright light that lit up her whole face, and as one of the two men swung for her with his metal pipe , the Natalya woman stepped into it and chopped it clean in half with one swift swing of her own, as easy as a hot knife through butter.
The man still following his own momentum stumbled forward, expecting resistance where there was none, and the woman simply shoulder barged into his chest, sending him sprawling into a heap backwards.

She stepped over him, her glowing sword at the ready, and the man now clearly terrified backed away, before scrambling to his feet and bolting for the safety of the forest. 

That left only one more, and after seeing what this mysterious woman had just done to his compatriots, he decided to cut his losses and run, literally, as he threw down his tree branch, held his hands up in surrender and ran away in the general direction of his friends.

It was over as quickly as that.

The buzzing sound stopped as abruptly as it had begun, and the light was gone.

Natalya turned to face an open-mouthed Tarik and Brannigan, and looked sheepish, as she tucked a rogue strand of hair back behind her ear, she suddenly felt oddly self-conscious.

“I uh, don’t think they’ll be back” She said with wry smile, and approached Tarik, her blue eyes settling their steady gaze upon his.

“You must be the boy Brannigan was talking about” The young Jedi said softly as she held out her right hand in greeting “My name is Natalya, you can call me Nat”

Tarik, still dumbstruck by what he had just seen, glanced at her hand warily, and shook it gingerly “Tarik” He said, simply.

Natalya smiled kindly at the boy and then turned her attention to the Ranger “Can I travel with you Brannigan? it seems I need a ride, and I really need to speak to someone in charge” She asked dusting herself down.

Brannigan finally shook himself out of his own amazement, and laughed incredulously as he replied “ Lady, you can travel with us as long as you like” He paused for a beat before adding “As for whoever’s in charge, your guess is as good as mine right now, though we were heading for one of the refugee camps to the north, some place called ‘camp Bravo’ some of my guys told me about, might find someone there who can help?”

Natalya frowned for a moment, considering this, and then nodded as she responded “Seems a good place to start, let’s get going…oh wait, mind if I stop by my ship for a few things first?”

“Knock yourself out” Brannigan replied “But, on one condition”

The young Jedi looked up quizzically…

“You call me Bran” The Ranger added with a grin.





 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (11:12pm 06/11/15, 3 years ago)
25  11:58am 20/05/16        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
 
Onboard the Harbinger…



Saladin's claws dug into the arm-rests of his command chair, and his feline-like eyes narrowed at the monitor before him.
Mastor risked a glance towards his master and observed the look of annoyance sweep across the Bothan's face…

"Should we follow it, my Lord?" He ventured cautiously, referring to the stricken freighter that had appeared and crash-landed upon the surface.

Saladin's eyes glided towards his subordinate and as he answered his voice was almost a deep growl…"Are there any more?" He asked levelly…"No my Lord…but” Mastor started , his voice revealing traces of doubt”

Saladin raised a hairy brow… “but what?” He asked deliberately. 

Mastor answered hastily sensing his superior’s impatience…”Nothing detected my Lord, either on long or short range scanners, but we are getting intermittent bursts of a type of radiation we’ve not encountered before…”

As Saladin’s expression began to shift to one of concern, Mastor clarified promptly… “It’s interfering with our scanners and affecting our long range communications, indications are that it is the sun itself producing this …energy…”

“I see” Saladin replied, warily… “Will it directly affect our operations?” 

Mastor glanced down at his instrumentation on the panels in front of him, and after a momentary assessment, shook his head cautiously “As long as all crews are made aware, and are kept within close range…no, at least not at this stage, but as the star becomes more unstable…”

Mastor trailed off at this and looked up towards his superior pointedly…

“So be it then“ The Bothan replied decisively, and the tension evident within his voice seemed to ease a little…"We focus on what we came here for, do not not alter our course, head for the biggest concentration…but start jamming all frequencies, just in case"

"very well Lord" Replied Mastor.

With that Saladin activated the ships comms, and began to issue orders throughout the ship…

"All crews, prepare for immediate launch on my mark, collect as many as you can, concentrate on the young and the strong, I am not interested in the old and infirm. Remember while we need them alive, time is against us, so should you come up against any resistance…"  The Bothan paused for a moment to ensure his words sunk in, and then added as casually as if he were ordering fresh fruit juice…. 

"Crush it"


The looming eight-hundred metre long ship entered the atmosphere with a deadly grace that belied it's size. To those on the ground, who had already experienced the nightmare of losing their homes and their loved ones in the destruction they had witnessed only days before along with its aftermath, soon began to realise their true nightmare was just beginning.

The triangular metal hull of the ship cleaved through the swirling clouds like an angry god's knife, heralding it's arrival with a deadly yet perversely beautiful light display that decimated anything it appeared to deem a threat. 

The planet's inhabitants could only stare up in a mixture of awe and horror as the hulking metal invader swept past any resistance thrown against it. With the defenders in disarray, panic began to spread amongst the populace, some fled at the sight of it, others could only stare up at the spectre dumbstruck, and those who had weapons tried to shoot at it, but their attempts were all in vain.

The Harbinger had lived up to it's namesake well, and had selected it's point of attack with perfection as it brought itself to bear against one of the many make-shift refugee camps hurriedly set-up to aide those already fleeing the disasters inflicted upon the region.
What little was left of the airforce buzzed around the enemy vessel like a swarm of angry bees, but to little effect. Surface to air batteries still active let loose a barrage of flack only to see it harmlessly dissipate around the strange aura projected by the monolithic ship. 
As soon as the alien vessel unleashed it's otherworldly weapons against those who attempted to fight , they were mercilessly blasted away by it's staggering firepower. No matter what defence they threw at it, all appeared to be futile.

The speed of Camp Alpha's fall was frightening, and when the ship's Master's were sure nothing remained to challenge it's supremacy of the sky, it disgorged wing after wing of smaller craft, flanked by fighters to both finish the resistance on the ground, and collect what it had come for.

The people themselves.

Saladin watched with grim satisfaction at the efficiency of the operation before him, and allowed himself a small smile to form across his lips, so far the crew were performing well, at this rate they would have a full cargo in a matter of hours, and they would be away. He might even go down to the surface himself and inspect some of the cargo, why not? For all the rush , things had gone so smoothly it appeared they had the time after all, better to check the specimens now, while they could still source more. 

Quality over quantity, after all!

Saladin turned to face Mastor abruptly, who looked up expectantly in response "Ready my personal shuttle, I will inspect the merchandise myself.."

"Very good my Lord" Mastor acknowledged, and watched as the Bothan arose from his command chair to leave the bridge but then stop to speak once more, as if an afterthought had suddenly struck him…

"That freighter that crashed…" Saladin trailed off, his tone thoughtful…before following up with "Send a unit to investigate, kill any survivors" 

...and with that the Bothan swept out of the bridge, a thought had tugged at the corner of his mind, one that had nagged him since the arrival of the lone freighter, and the Bothan did not like loose ends…


 
This post was edited by Seth Vinda (7:12am 22/05/16, 2 years ago)
26  8:27pm 16/09/16        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
Back at the freighter...


“I’ve never seen anything like this” Brannigan started, as he surveyed the inside of Natalya’s downed ship, with his eyes wide, and his mouth slightly agape…“I mean it looks similar to some of our planes, but, well, do you really know what half of all these flashing lights do?” He asked, genuinely curious,  gesturing with his hand at the computer console he stood next to.

Natalya, who had been packing her knapsack on the ground glanced up in reaction, and chuckled slightly “I’d be lying if I said yes” and quickly started to explain “These things fly themselves for the most part, just input your co-ordinates into the navicomp, and sit back, well, apart from take-offs and landings….”

Brannigan raised his eyebrows in response and then replied, with a subtle nod of the head “That right? Perhaps, you should have used it for landing too then”

Nat quickly fired a glance back up to see an unexpected grin from the usually taciturn ranger, the young woman was about to respond to the barb, when the door from the cock-pit abruptly slid open.

“What the HELL is THAT?” Brannigan blurted out in alarm, as KO-B1 burst into the cargo area the trio had congregated in, chirping and whistling frantically, Bran’s instinct was to reach for the shotgun still slung across his shoulder.

Natalya stifled a laugh while raising her hand to reassure the ranger “It’s okay, he’s with me” She explained briefly. 
“He?” Brannigan repeated as he eyed the R2 droid suspiciously, before murmuring“How can you tell?” and was about to ask more, when he noticed the smile fade quickly from the Jedi’s  face, as she double-checked something on her silver bracelet.

“Trouble?” Bran asked warily, he’d already guessed the bracelet was more than just jewellery.

Natalya rose to her feet quickly, “I’m not sure” She replied with a frown “But I think we’re about to find out” Nat muttered half to herself…

The way Natalya had spoken put the gruff ranger on alert, and he readied his gun, before glancing around to find Tarik… “Tarik! Tarik?” The disconcerted ranger looked about the cargo hold as he called after him , before throwing a worried look towards the Jedi “Where is that damn boy?”

Natalya looked up at Bran blankly “I thought he was with you?”




Outside.


While the strange woman’s ship had been fascinating at first, Tarik had begun to find it’s interior….uncomfortable, too confined, claustrophobic even, not to mention it smelt funny. So he had stepped outside for some air, and even though the overriding scent of the forest was still the acrid smell of smoke, he had felt better for it.

It was while he watched the plumes of smoke unfurling and rolling skywards into the air from some forest fire still smouldering in the distance, that he first caught sight of something glimmering in the sky. 

It was barely perceptible at first, the flickering lights of far away stars.

Gradually, though, they began to get bigger, at first he thought he was imagining it, and he clambered onto the roof of the strange lady’s downed vessel to gain a better view. It took a fair bit of climbing, but he was good at that, at least Molenka had always told him so. 
In the time it had taken him to negotiate his way to the top of the hull, he realised they had gotten bigger.

No! Closer!… 

Tarik squinted his eyes trying to make out the three distinct shapes that had started to emerge…

He suddenly realised what they were!…

Planes! 

Yes! He could hear them now, the sounds of their engines roaring louder with each passing moment…

Perhaps they were searching for survivors! They were saved!

Excited, Tarik started to wave his hands above his head so they could see him….

It was at this moment, the Natalya woman burst out of the ship’s oddly shaped doorway followed by Brannigan close on her heels , and both started to shout towards Tarik, but he could not make out what they were saying, as all sound was now drowned out by the unfamiliar drone of the oncoming craft… 

As Tarik looked down at the pair of faces shouting up at him, and then back up at the rapidly approaching craft, the realisation that he was wrong and in very real danger hit him like the low blow to the stomach he had experienced earlier, and while Tarik could not hear what they were yelling over the noise, their frantic expressions told him all he needed to know.

JUMP!

Instinct took over.

Over the next few seconds time itself seemed to come to a standstill.

The young boy leapt off the roof, as a flurry of coloured lights jolted past him. Tarik felt the blazing heat singe his left cheek as the coloured beams of light shot past, barely centimetres away from his face.

…and as Tarik fell forwards, once more his entire world seemed to erupt into explosions.



 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (8:04pm 18/09/16, 2 years ago)
27  12:41am 18/09/16        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
Meanwhile…




“By the gods!”

Janna Novak whispered to herself as she looked up at the alien vessel which hung menacingly in the sky with a mixture of both awe and horror. Unable to break her gaze away from the scene playing out before her, Janna gripped her binoculars tightly as she tried to get a better view of the battle raging on in the distance. The throbbing pain from the blow to her head, momentarily suspended, along with her disbelief.

“What the hell is it? Where did it come from?’ Her first officer Landaker asked rapidly, evidently just as awestruck as her.
“I have no idea” Janna replied almost breathlessly, as she saw the ease of how the vessel wiped out the camp’s defences, whoever was down there , well , they were fighting a losing battle.

The Captain stiffened as she watched flying machines of some description emerge from it’s belly, and swarm the sky around it, and the steady sickening feeling of dread crept upon her. 

After gathering the men and whatever supplies they could carry, Janna and what was left of her now very motley crew, had decided to try to make their way to an emergency outpost they had heard about from some passing refugees; Camp Alpha. Only to find it under attack. They were about a mile or two away, and were on the crest of a hill looking down at the chaos unfolding below.

Janna felt a mix of emotions wash over her, frustration, at not being able to do anything but watch, guilt for not being there to help fight, and yet, if she was honest, a small part of her felt relieved that they had not set out earlier, or they’d all be there now.

The overriding feeling that gnawed at her however. Anger.

Anger at whoever, whatever was doing this.

Suddenly Novak felt a knot of fear tighten in the bottom of her stomach as she watched the alien fighter craft split off into formations and spread out.

Her eyes narrowed as she saw one squadron veer off towards their direction.

“They’ve seen us” Janna muttered, her tone flat,  “Your orders Captain?” came the loyal officer’s quick response

Janna lowered her binoculars, threw a grim glance towards Landaker and then turned to face the bulk of her crew, raising her voice so all could hear, and pointed to the forest…“All hands! prepare for attack! incoming enemy aircraft! I want everyone to get to that tree-line and hide, whatever weapon you have, get ready to use it!”

The tired bedraggled bunch simply stared at her for a moment, not quite believing what was happening, until Landaker broke the spell…

“NOW PEOPLE! MOVE YOUR ARSES!”

The men did as they were ordered and bolted untidily for the relative cover of the forest tree-line. Landaker joined Janna as they both scrambled and stumbled through the undergrowth, eventually taking refuge beneath a large pine. They both exchanged a tense glance with one another as they caught their collective breaths… “You okay Captain?” Landaker asked, still concerned for her welfare…

Janna’s eyes searched the trees above her , seeking a gap in the canopy to try to catch a glimpse of the sky  “Ask me that again later” She replied, between deep breaths…
Soon enough the strange droning sounds of the alien fighters grew louder as they shot past overhead… After a few moments of silence, Janna was just starting to entertain the notion they had not been spotted after all, until the sounds of the their engines returned, and this time stayed. 

Janna realised they , whoever they were, were landing.

Unholstering her sidearm , and checking it was loaded, Janna looked up to see Landaker had done the same, and they both looked out through the brush waiting for the enemy to show itself.

“I bet you regret waking up now eh? Captain?” Landaker muttered with a wry grin…

Novak couldn’t help but return his comment with a faint smile of her own, and then threw a quick furtive glance around her, catching sight of many of the men she had commanded, seeing their tired but stoic faces, gave her a sudden overwhelming feeling of pride, and she turned back to face her first officer…

“If we have to go, lets give them hell first” 

Landaker’s steely gaze met hers, and he nodded firmly in response.

“With you all the way, Janna”

As the unmistakable sounds of feet on the ground, voices and crashing undergrowth grew louder, Janna Novak aimed her weapon in it’s general direction and held her breath…



 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (6:53pm 18/09/16, 2 years ago)
28  7:25pm 18/09/16        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
Reflections of the past….



I once heard of a religion, where one of its fundamental principles was that everyone, and everything, had multiple lives.

Through a constant cycle of death and rebirth. 

The idea being that, this current existence in which we find ourselves, is really just one of many, countless lives lived.

Reincarnation, I believe they called it.


I think, they were only half right.


For I myself, have realised many truths though all of this, 

I learnt, that this universe is cruel and unforgiving….

That the weak are prey for the strong…

That you are on your own in this existence…


True survival, was not down to how strongly you could fight, how quickly you could build a fire, gather rainwater, or stomach eating bugs…

It was not something that can be trained for, or read in a book… though of course all of the former would improve your chances, given the right circumstances…


No.


True survival, came down to one thing, and one thing only...


Strength of will.


Want to live?


Then don’t give up.


(Simplicity itself)


Or is it? For how many of you are truly tested?…and why are some tested more than others?

Understand that when you are happy living your blissfuly ignorant life, you are merely living on borrowed time.
Inevitably one day, all you hold dear, will turn to cinders and ash.

You will learn the real taste of bitterness.

On that day, you will know your true strength of will.

And you will also learn, as I did…


That you do not need to end this life…


…to begin another.
 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (11:49pm 23/09/16, 2 years ago)
29  3:44am 24/09/16        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
An unseen hand.

Somewhere on the other side of the galaxy…



A cloaked figure swept silently through the dimly lit chamber, the only noise it made, were footsteps upon the metal floor which echoed throughout the cavernous space.  With a face obscured by a black silken hood, it appeared to be human, and as it entered, a trio of men who had been waiting patiently, all bowed deeply, and averted their gaze to the floor.

The diminutive figure glided across the chamber with absolute command, unhurried , yet purposeful, with a grace that belied a measure of physicality.
One of the men, well dressed, and different to all the others, both in manner and build spoke without moving his gaze, his voice, measured, as the figure simply stopped before him.

“My Lady? You summoned us…” The man started to speak, but the figure interrupted…

“Salazar, is dead” The woman stated plainly, as if it were nothing more than passing interest.

The message was simple, but it’s implications held a greater weight, and the trio of men knew it. The well dressed man raised his head, and smiled gleefully his eyes widening as he spoke. “Wha?… When?…after all this time…how?” He asked eagerly, his excitement barely held in check.

“The Nightsisters, played their part” The mysterious woman answered cryptically.

The man clapped his hands together in delight as he heard the news…

“Events are unfolding as I foresaw” The woman continued, her voice detached and cold, but there was something about the way she pronounced her words, her elocution precise and imperious, regal even.

“Then, Salazar and his pet, Severina have both failed!” The man exclaimed, appearing almost giddy with this news…

“You celebrate prematurely” The robed woman turned her head to face him directly, and although the man could not see her eyes beneath the hood she wore, he could feel their scrutiny.

The man’s excitement was quickly extinguished, as he watched the figure turn in a flurry of black silk, and start walking towards the building’s hanger bay “There are… complications” The elegantly robed visitor started ominously.

The man followed by the woman’s side as she walked...“The daughter?” He ventured, cautiously…
The woman stopped abruptly, as if to reinforce her point as she spoke “Yes. A complication you failed to deal with on Borgo Prime…”

The man visibly winced, for the woman was not known for her forgiving nature. “That, that was not my fault!” The well dressed man protested instantly “The Hutt promised she would be alone, besides, it was your apprentice who failed to kill her”

The moment the man had blurted his words out , he knew he had crossed the line, and once again the woman stopped, but this time turned her full attention to him. Slowly, the woman reached for her hood and pulled it down to reveal beautiful features, high cheekbones, full ruby red lips, long shiny black hair, and razor-sharp brown eyes. 

It was these the man found himself fixed by, their malevolent glare now radiated from her as if it were a malleable force she could manipulate at will, and something held deep within them, chilled him to the core.

At first the man thought he was imagining it, but slowly, unmistakably, he felt an invisible force wrap itself around his throat, like an unseen hand strangling him. Alarmed, the man fell to the floor in panic as he felt his wind-pipe constrict, despite this, he struggled through wheezing breaths to beg forgiveness for his apparent transgression.

“When I wish to hear your opinion on the matter…” The woman stated calmly, as she turned away from his choking body, and absently straightened her attire… “I will ask for it”

The man gasped for breath, and through watery eyes, he could just make out the figure of the woman make the smallest of gestures, and all at once, the vice-like grip was gone from around his throat.

As he frantically gulped in air, he rubbed his throat, and threw a fearful glance towards the woman who had stopped, and now stood as if waiting for the man to recover.

“I am truly sorry my lady, I…I forgot myself” He stammered, deeply unnerved by what had just occurred, he had heard stories of the force users and their , quite frankly, ludicrous claims of what amounted to magical powers. While he had known this woman to have these abilities, it was the first time he had experienced it firsthand.

It was not something he wished to be demonstrated again.

​“Save your pathetic apologies for one of your whores, you are only alive because I still have use for you…” Came the woman’s dismissive reply, her tone of voice, disinterested…

The man nodded sharply, and got to his feet…

“I am moving the timetable forward…” She continued flatly…
The man, though still visibly shaken, ran through the implications in his head… “Hapes?” He asked eventually as realisation sunk in..

The woman simply nodded slowly in confirmation.

“…and the daughter?” The man asked carefully…

“You will have your second chance, I highly suggest you take advantage of it” Came the woman’s carefully worded response, the thinly veiled threat was not something the well dressed man had missed.

“What about you my Lady…will you be joining us in the cluster” The man asked warily…
“No” Came the woman’s response, and her gaze told him, she had a definite plan, but what that was, he could only guess…

“Another matter has come to my attention” The Lady replied thoughtfully and with that gently raised the hood back over her head, signalling the end of their meeting, and made her way to the hanger.

The well dressed man massaged his neck stiffly, and watched her leave with what could only be described as relief...



As the woman patched in her desired location into the navicomp, she could barely contain her disdain for the imbecile she had just met.

Men. Fools! the lot of them.

Such pathetically weak creatures…and so easily manipulated!

The more she traversed the galaxy, the more she realised the cluster had the right idea…

Women should be in charge.

Just then she was reminded of an axiom she had once heard from her own mother…

“If you want something said, ask a man…
…but if you want something done, ask a woman”


No truer words were ever spoken in the cluster!

…and it was with this in mind the woman fired up the engines to her private shuttle. It was time for more direct intervention.
The daughter of Severina and Vinda had turned out to be more of a problem than she had expected, and had even joined the ranks of the Jedi. Despite her efforts to prevent it.

No matter, she would be dealt with, in time, just like her Mother, and her now headless Jedi mentor...

No. The woman was after something else, something that could tip the balance in her favour for when the time finally came.

She had almost missed it, for it was just a glimmer in her mind's eye, almost snuffed out by the rapidly encroaching darkness, and yet when she had finally caught a glimpse of it during one of her meditations, she had revelled in its true potential.

Unwittingly, it called out to her across the void, like a beacon.



 
This post was edited by Natalya Vinda (8:59pm 25/09/16, 2 years ago)
30  8:50pm 25/09/16        
Jedi Apprentice - Back in Black
Meanwhile…

Camp Bravo Infirmary.




General Carl Novak, walked through the medical ward with a heavy heart. So many injured, so many to care for. 
The medical facility and it’s personnel were doing their level best, but they were inundated, filled with displaced people, who had lost their homes, their families.

But what more could he do?

After arriving back, his mind raced with all he had learnt from the strange ISA agent, Mr Fisk, and his bizarre revelations, and no matter how much Novak tried to put it from his memory, to concentrate on their current situation, the thoughts on its implications still reeled inside of him.

No! He had to concentrate on the matters at hand! 

For what use was any of it, if none of them survived beyond this present crisis? 

After all, he had an obligation, a duty to the people under his command, which at this point now extended far beyond just his troops. 

To that end, after a brief meeting with ‘command’ ( a laughable description of what was left of any former government at this stage) he had taken it upon himself to inspect the medical facilities, ostensibly to see what was needed, and what more could be done. However, a deeper motivation compelled him.

If he kept moving, kept pushing through, remained busy, then he would not have to sit and think about all he had lost himself.

His wife, Anni, his daughter Janna…

The General shook himself out of his dark thoughts, for the cold hard reality was that mourning for anybody, at this stage, was a luxury he simply did not have the time to indulge in.

That did not mean he didn’t still feel the loss. On the contrary, he felt it keenly. Acutely. Like someone had pushed a dagger though his heart, leaving a heavy black mark across his very soul, and like a spectre lurking in the background, it shadowed everything he did.

Novak knew full well, he would have to face that particular demon head on, eventually.

For no-one gets to cheat death, especially not its survivors.


Just then, the General looked up, and froze in the corridor as he recognised the figure of the man who had arrived earlier with the young and badly burnt girl. The father was watching intently through the observation window as the doctors treated her injuries in one of the few intensive care units they had at the compound.

Novak joined him at his side and introduced himself, as did the father.

“Whats her name?” Novak asked softly…

“Molenka” Calvin replied, without breaking his gaze upon his daughter now lying in a hospital bed.

“We…we were split up, I was at work, Molenka and Tarik, were with their mother…” Calvin dropped his head as he started to explain, clearly still deeply worried about his missing son, and still struggling to come to terms with his own sense of loss…”They were both playing outside, when… it happened, Tarik is still…he’s still missing…”

Instinctively, Novak placed a reassuring hand upon Calvin’s shoulder, and Calvin turned to face the General in response, meeting his sympathetic gaze….“I know he’s alive still, I just know it” Calvin continued, the conviction of his belief was enough to convince Novak himself…almost.

Novak nodded slowly as he spoke, and tried his best to sound positive “If he’s out there, we’ll find him”

Calvin, reached out and shook Carl by the hand “Thank you General , for all you have done…I don’t know what we would have done if…” Calvin’s voice trailed off, and he returned his gaze to his daughter.

Novak shook his head, kindly deferring the man’s gratitude “You’re the one who found her Calvin, you saved her, and its down to you Molenka is alive, don’t forget that”  And with that, Carl patted the worried father on the back, and took a last glance towards the injured girl who now appeared to be now fully unconscious, whether medically induced or just asleep from exhaustion, Novak could not determine which, as Molenka moved about restlessly upon the bed.

The General hoped, that whatever dreams she was clearly lost in, were good. After all, they had all experienced enough nightmares to last a lifetime.

“General Novak Sir”

A concerned voice interrupted his thoughts, and Carl turned away from Calvin and Molenka to see a very worried looking private as its source…

“Sir, Colonel Brayden told me I could find you here”
“Yes?” Novak answered warily… “What is it?”

The private glanced up at Calvin, clearly uncomfortable at discussing anything important in front of a civilian..

“Command requests your presence, Sir… we have a situation”



 
This post was edited by Seth Vinda (9:55pm 22/12/16, 2 years ago)

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