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So comes snow after fire.

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#1
Atham'aali'kema

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I'll catch up.

 

He recalled stating that as she rushed around the room, reassuring her that he would be only a few moments behind. She was worrying about food, about not having time for a hot breakfast. But he couldn't understand the need to rush. After all, they wouldn't leave without the duo. They were involved, there to help save who ever needed saving. Though...

 

How many could really be left for rescue? That bit confused him. Almost as much as the area that stood in front of him.

 

She seemed really mad about the chrono. Maybe it held sentimental value?

 

"What can I get you?"

 

Maybe I'll get her a new one. That's what people do when they care. They get each other things.

 

"Sir?"

 

Maalik blinked and looked up. "I want whatever you can give that is equal parts fast and equal parts fresh. And warm."

 

"Uhh..."

 

"Do you do assortment boxes?"

 

"Sure."

 

"Good. I'll take..." He held up three fingers. "Three muja-fruit filled donuts. Three sweesonberry rolls. Three buttersweet mufkins. And..." He narrowed his eyes. "Ah yes. Three crisp-munchies." As he was talking, the pastry guy was filling a box with the dozen requested pastries. And just like that, the box was handed over and credits were exchanged - an allotment provided by the quartermaster for per diem. 

 

Once he had the box in a bag, he bolted off towards the spot Harla mentioned. Hangar 29B. By his estimation, he would get there just in time. Good thing the pastry shop didn't have a line.

 

Taheera Sollo

 

 


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#2
Taheera Sollo

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Head turned anxiously to the hangar door at every flash of blue. Where was he? The last of the supplies was being loaded into their transport. The healer was already outfitted in snow boots and all the warmer clothes that Hoth required. Beanie was on her head, a pair of snow goggles snuggly on top. Gloves were clipped to her belt and a warm cream jacket was zipped open, hanging off her form with several warm layers beneath along with some moisture wick material. Only her green face was uncovered in some way. Rebellious strands of chestnut hair slipped free from the confines of the warm hat.

A small pack rested at her feet.

The captain of their expedition swung by. "Pushing out in ten. We've got a very small window to work with here. There are several locator signals of those MIA we hope to pick up on scanners once we exit hyperspace." The captain grinned, catching the healer's curious look toward the cargo hold. "And don't mind the tauntauns. They smell and spit but they won't bite. You geared up Sollo?"

She nodded numbly and her gaze drifted back to the doors. "Come on Maalik," she whispered, wondering for a moment if he got lost.

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#3
Atham'aali'kema

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Who would have thought such an awkward figure was a capable and accomplished warrior? Looking around as he ran, catching glimpses of different symbols that indicated different facilities. Restrooms. Cafeteria. Recreational Facilities. No. No. No.

 

Hangars. Yes. 

 

Running head long with a bag in his hand, he came to a sliding stop as he read the sign above the next hangar bay. Slowing his step, he leisurely strolled out with pastries in the bag as he lifted molten orbs to Harla. With a very serious gaze, he shifted to a smile and somewhat whimsical wave. Looking over to the ship, he dropped his hand and approached the Captain.

 

"Looks like you are changing en route."

"Again?"

"Well. Learn to be more punctual."

"Last time wasn't my fault."

"This time it is."

"Yes. That's true."

 

Hmm. The captain plopped the gear in Maaliks outstretched hands. Burning eyes looked down, bag of pastries dangling beneath clothes and boots.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#4
Taheera Sollo

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"Maalik. What were," myrtle ellipses followed his magma gaze. "Are those what I think they are?!"

Reaching out, she plucked the bag from his grasp as she and the small group of soldiers and medical team were ushered into the medium-sized transport. Tauntauns milled about one side of the hangar, the jumpseats lined along the walls. Picking one, she settled down, green-fingers settling the pastry box on her lap and flipping the lid open.

"Wow," she whispered, no small amount of awe hidden from her voice. Mouth was already watering. "Thank you!"

There were so many options and she wanted to try a bite of each. Selfishly. She settled for taking one of the sweeson berry rolls and a crisp. She motioned for Maalik to pick one. The rest of the crew was already offering curious and longing glances their way.

"Oh yeah, anyone is welcome to have some." She held the coveted box up.

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#5
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Knew it.

 

Molten orbs widened as she made her selection. She didn't go for the mufkins or the donuts, but he knew she would like the crisp-munchies. He, on the other hand, took a mufa-fruit filled donut because that seemed the least messy. After all, he still needed to get dressed en route and couldn't do it with sticky fingers.

 

Then the herd came for the remainders. He stood with mouth agape, half eaten donut in hand, as the remainder of the donuts were polished off. He blinked, quietly, as they moved back into the transport ship. Looking over to Harla as she ate, he felt an inflection of confusion. He had purchased those predominantly for them to share, though obviously the preference was put towards her joy of pastries. Right?

 

That quickly transitioned to something more clearly resembling happiness. Whether that was her happiness or his, remained to be seen. Perhaps another form of mimicry, built in by the vong shapers.

 

Nabbing the box from her and throwing it in a nearby pale, he hugged his gear to his chest as he found his way into the vessel with Harla. "I knew you'd like the crisp-munchies." He stated with an air of confidence. "Called it."

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#6
Taheera Sollo

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"Pffft," she finished off the krisp and wiped her hands clean from the sticky residue.  "Why were you so sure I'd choose that one?"  A single chestnut-brow lofted, almost lost beneath the base of her beanie-hat.  An easy-going small smile flickered across her lips.  Hands reached up and pulled the crash webbing across her chest and waist.

 

One of the tauntauns gurgled and spit fairly close to their seats.  

 

Myrtle-ellipses eyed the clothes he clutched.  Something triggered a warning in the back of her mind.  Leaning forward, she spoke quietly up to the chiss-hybrid.  "Don't strip down in front of everyone."  She could feel a slight amount of heat rising to her green cheeks.  "Probably wouldn't be appropriate."  The Mirialan never knew what Maalik would think as socially acceptable.

 

The transport hummed to life beneath them as the cargo-doors began to close.  The Captain spoke through the comm-system.  "Everyone get into your teams of two.  We've got two M.I.A signals for each team.  Maalik and Taheera.  You're in Alpha Group.  We're dropping you first at the site of the avalanche.  Beta team goes to the pass.  So on and so forth.  No guarantees they'll still be alive.  Could be an ambush so be careful out there.  Keep your signals in tact or we won't be picking you up.  Don't need to add to the M.I.A. on this.  We have thirty-six hours.  Questions?"


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#7
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He looked over, tightening the webbing, with a confused expression. "Why not? It's not like it is anything they haven't seen before?" He looked over to a soldier who was closing his eyes as the vehicle moved towards planet. "Hey, you."

 

The man opened his eyes.

 

"Are you a male?"

 

He laughed nervously. "Uhh, yeah."

 

"Have you ever seen other males in a locker room or changing for field preparation?"

 

"Yeah, of course."

 

He turned to Harla. "See."

 

"Why?" The female next to him piped up. "You gonna strip here and change? Might not be too appropriate given that some of us aren't males. Not that we haven't seen men change before..."

 

Maalik's vision narrowed as he internally recanted. "Fair enough." He lifted his head as he listened to the announcement. Given that he had his name dropped, he assumed his turn for jumping would be coming up soon. "Harla..." He whispered. "Should I change once we are on planet?" It hadn't occurred to him that it might be a bit cold. Not to the best circumstances for a field change.

 

Taheera Sollo


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#8
Taheera Sollo

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There was a slight lift as they took off.  Back pressed against the seat and somehow, even though she was the farthest thing from a pilot, she knew they'd entered the short hyperspace jump to the icy and snowy planet. "No," head shook vehemently.  "You'd freeze before you even hit the snow.  Even with your...skin."  Myrtle ellipses traveled the length of his exposed arms then searched around the hangar.

 

"Uhh.  Looks like your best bet might be behind those tauntauns."  Green-chin tipped almost apologetically to the corner where they were tethered to the walls.  "Probably safe to unstrap long enough to change."

 

Fingers gripped her restraints a bit tighter out of habit.  She'd never been to Hoth and found herself a bit nervous.  She and the cold didn't do so well, as Maalik learned on the ship last night.


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#9
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He let out an uncharacteristic sigh as she more or less told him that he needed to change in the barn. He really was having difficulty with cultural differences. "The Tauntauns..." Molten eyes narrowed in that direction as he unbuckled the webbing around his chest. "Maybe I will stay back there. Since they don't mind me changing in front of them." Maybe a little bit of sass. After all, he just bought everyone donuts. The least they could do was let him change where he wanted.

 

Strolling back, he pushed his way through the beasts and made the best of the situation.

 

Several moments passed before he came back out, decked out in the appropriate weather gear. He was so confounded by the situation that he left his other clothes behind. Though, in truth, he had very little attachment to his clothing - given that his flesh was armor, he preferred a lack of clothing altogether. But these pesky social norms were going to continue to get in the way, it seemed.

 

Adjusting his ear muffs and buttoning up the wool layered collar, he fixed his sun cap and sat back down in the seat. Looking around, he strapped himself back in and settled his vision on the Mirialan sitting next to him. "I decided to not stay back there. They smell worse than me."

 

Still carrying old bar grudges, it seemed.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#10
Taheera Sollo

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Lips quivered but she didn't quite smile.  Tugging against her harness, her shoulder bumped lightly into his.  "Well, I'm thankful you sacrificed smell and inconvenience for me.  The pastries, I mean."  Without really thinking, her mouth kept running.  "And I'm sure you'll have plenty more opportunities to change in front of me where I won't mind."

 

There was a snort to her left.  Myrtle ellipses slowly widened as she realized what she'd said.  Color rose to her cheeks.  "I didn't mean...just never mind."

 

She gulped and eventually the other passengers sobered up.

 

Head turned to Maalik again, warmth starting to recede from her cheeks.  Finally.  "Have you ever been to Hoth before?"


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#11
Atham'aali'kema

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She was under the impression that she could just deflect from the topic. But this changing business was serious business. He looked over to the person who snorted, not really understanding. "That's good though. People shouldn't mind changing around each other. It's the nature of this sort of occupation, right?"

 

Another person laughed and Maalik turned towards them, smiling because what else was there to do in response? He could have been mildly frustrated but evidently, culture disparity was a real thing. Leaning over as she asked about Hoth, he whispered, ensuring that she wouldn't be embarrassed by group acknowledgment. "I wouldn't mind seeing you change, either." The confession came with perhaps a mixture of attraction and normal operating procedure.

 

Leaning away, gaze moving about the group who were now going back to whatever it was they do before landing on an ice world. Shaking his head, molten orbs looked back to Harla. "No. Not that I can recall. Though perhaps before the shaping, memories might have been removed. My recollection might change as we approach the surface."

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#12
Taheera Sollo

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Chestnut brows lofted as he whispered to her.

 

"Oh," somewhat shy-gaze flickered quickly to those molten orbs of his.  She couldn't help their downward trajectory to his lips and then back up again to lock into his dueling suns.  Throat cleared and she looked away but she did but couldn't stop thinking about what it would feel like to have no space separating them at all.  Not trusting herself to look at him, she kept her gaze firmly forward, staring at the closed-cargo doors.

 

"I've never been," she breathed.  "But I imagine if it's as cold as they say it is, this will be a one and done trip for me."  She tried to smile but it faltered.  There was a sharp lurch as the transport exited its microjump straight into Hoth's atmosphere.  Took as second longer for the ship to set down softly and with a rumbling vibration, the cargo doors began sliding open, letting in bright-white light with a cold blast of air that made the tauntauns gurgle in protest.

 

Green fingers pressed the release to her restraints, quickly pulling on her gloves.  "Here we go."


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#13
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He nodded, letting out a breath of air. "I don't know if I've been to Hoth. But I have been to Csilla." His eyes drifted upwards, looking towards the ceiling. Molten orbs, warm and radiant, could have burned a hole in the hull. "As we walked out of the caves, large glaciers stood in distance. Vibrant blue in an otherwise gray sky."

 

He could almost see it, a memory that was dissolving in a shroud of shaping. Memories purposely washed clean of detail in an attempt to remove his love for his home. To create a form of hatred within him towards his own kind.

 

There was a strong disparity between his home world and the place he was captured, like being torn from a freezer and thrown into an pressure cooker. While Chiss never had any true evolutionary advantages in terms of the cold, he had always favored the chill. He wondered if would be the same now, where armor replaced the blue flesh of his ancestry. He wondered if the same response would occur in the high oxygen volume that exists in cold.

 

Stepping out of his webbing, he grabbed his pack and walked toward the open door. There was no blue, not really. It was white and fresh, snow blowing into the open hull. "You stated that there was a recent avalanche..." He spoke as he looked down, pleased with the footwear that more evenly dispersed his weight. Stepping out into the snow, he looked back. The intensity of his eyes even more apparent in the grayscale behind him.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#14
Taheera Sollo

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The healer shouldered her pack but went toward where Maalik changed and grabbed two harnesses of a tauntaun, firmly leading the beasts toward the hull opening.  Feet left the firmness of the hull-plating and transitioned onto the smooth powder.  She sunk a little but not much.  Breath came out in puffs of grey.

 

Eyes squinted and she quickly pulled her goggles on in the glaring light.

 

Being in a Mirialan body was interesting.  Ever since the transfer, she'd felt more of a connection to the environment.  She imagined that's why she'd suddenly been able to....control the weather with the force.  Well, haphazardly and definitely far from an expert.  She'd felt the storms on Varonaut.  And here?  She felt that energy even though it was different and unique to the planet.  There was a buzz of something that was building far off.  For now, she dismissed it.

 

Gloved-hand passed off one of the tauntaun reins to Maalik as she nodded.  "Yeah.  First Order set it off and destroyed their own base from reports.  I think Alliance allies did one too.  I'm not sure.  At least we won't have to worry about another.  Or so I hope.  See those lumps in the snow about twenty yards away?"

 

Gloved hand pointed to the East as the ship began taking off behind them.

 

"Should be the remains of the outskirts of the base in the distance."  She frowned, looking around.  They were exposed here.  First Order troops could appear at any moment.  In fact, she was surprised no one was out here now.  Perhaps dumb luck?

 

"Our comms are programmed to pick up those two signals we were assigned.  I'm getting a reading toward the mountains."

 

Behind them.


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#15
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"Destroyed their own base?" He looked out towards the mounds, areas indicated by the Mirialan. Pulling the goggles over his eyes, the polarized lens immediately brought relief from a particular pain in his eyes. He recalled using the same on Csilla and how it can immediately provide comfort from the effects of the sun. "Cutting off their nose to spite their face. They would prefer destruction over capture."

 

Turning towards the mountains, he walked up towards one of the tauntauns. With a gloved hand across it's coat, he realized just how much tamer they were to the beasts on Selvaris - the sort shaped by the Legion. The beast recoiled for a second and Maalik held out his hands. "Oh, don't be like that." He approached, patting the animal across its abdomen. "The smell comment was a joke.

 

Grabbing a set of reins, he hopped on with a graceful step and the Tauntaun bucked twice before flinging its head defiantly. Running his hand down its neck, Maalik looked towards the woman. "Well, they wont be rescuing themselves. No time like the present."

 

Taheera Sollo


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#16
Taheera Sollo

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She thought of their own encounter with the First Order agents on Anoat.  "I no longer try to apply logic to their actions," she spoke dryly.  "Somehow they always manage to come ahead."  Once again, it was the Alliance who had to retreat.  The healer couldn't hide the bitterness that edged her tone.

 

She smiled as Maalik spoke to his tauntaun.

 

"Glad to see you two are fast friends," she retorted and maneuvered to the side of her ride.  "I'm coming," she huffed, gloved hands grabbing at the horn of the saddle, one foot in the stirrup.  Going to heave herself up, her foot slipped along with her gloved-grip on the tauntaun's neck and she ended up butt-first in the snow, landing on her back and staring up at the crisp, blue sky.

 

Head popped up.

 

"Don't you dare say anything."

 

Of course she was speaking to Maalik and anticipating his quip about her coordination or lack there of.


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#17
Atham'aali'kema

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All he was going to say was that he's never been jealous of snow before...until just then. But he refrained since obviously she didn't want any sort of commentary like that. So he did his best to keep it somewhat professional.

 

"You know. It is quite cold out." He looked towards the other Tauntaun as his own huffed out a plume of steam. "If we leash the reins of your Tauntaun to mine, you can ride with me." He patted the back of the Tauntaun behind him as he kicked the heel of the Tauntaun, moving over to her. 

 

"I can tell by the muscle development that these can withstand more than our weight combined, easily. Besides..." He paused, hopping off the Tauntaun as he offered a hand to help her up and help her mount the Tauntaun. "In case we find any survivors, we can keep one fresh to carry others and, additionally, riding together will preserve heat."

 

Taheera Sollo


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#18
Taheera Sollo

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Atham'aali'kema

 

The mirialan found herself quickly on her feet with his proffered hand.  She wanted to retort some sort of argument to his logic.  Mostly because her pride was hurt.  She should be able to ride a tauntaun.  However, she'd never ridden one before.  Never exactly ridden any sort of beast.  She stuck with mechanical things - like speeders and swoopbikes.  And even those?  She certainly wasn't the best pilot or driver.

 

The healer wasn't about to admit any of this to Maalik.  So instead, "That...makes a lot of sense."  Besides, they would waste too much precious time for her to learn all this now.  IF there were survivors to those signals, they didn't have extra time.

 

And further, Taheera wasn't about to say no to warmth.

 

Legs straddled the furry beast and for a moment, she was terrified she'd fall off the other side.  Teeth clenched and her gloved-hands tightly gripped the saddle, trying to get used to the muscle movements beneath her legs.  And the smell.  They definitely smelled.  Looking down and over to Maalik, she anticipated to shift a certain way.

 

"Wait.  Are you riding in front or back?"


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#19
Atham'aali'kema

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He paused as he looked up to her, sitting in the front seat of the Tauntaun. The question struck him as odd considering the fact that he was clearly trying to be professional. He was starting to think he had spent too much time working in the engine rooms of ships, mind grown dirty with the soot and slag.

 

Grabbing the reins of the other Tauntaun, he strapped them to the back of the harness and adjusted tightness for a bit of length. Didn't want them heel to heel, could cause a bit of unnecessary aggression. Beasts of burden were always happier when given their space, it seemed. At least, that was the case for the harvesters back in the lambent fields.

 

Stepping up into the seat, he took position behind Harla. "I'll take the back, it's my preference anyway." Straight faced, he reached both arms around her and flicked the leather, resting his arms along her legs. Scooting forward, he was pleased to have a bit of height on her. "Once they catch their breath, we'll run them a bit harder. But for now, we can take it slow." Molten orbs looked out beneath the glass of the goggles. "Just...guide me."

 

It didn't occur to him that she might want to drive. 

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#20
Taheera Sollo

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All double entendre references were lost on the Mirialan as she clutched for dear life to the saddle pommel in front of her. A large part of her was tempted to just lean forward and encircle the tauntaun's neck in a death grip. But her dignity and pride wouldn't allow it.

As they went though, she became more aware of Maalik's heat at her back and his arms along her legs. With the angle of the ride, it was more or less like she was nestled against his chest, gravity pushing her back. Gloved fingers finally began to relax as she realized she was in much LESS danger of flopping off. She also quickly realized her entire body would be horrifically sore after the ride.

Maybe they'd get lucky and find survivors right away....

"I'm glad we're taking it slow," she blurted letting one hand come up to wrap the creme scarf more firmly around her exposed face. Wrist came up and checked her chronic, programming the coordinates in so it would allow her to have her hands free instead of clutching a comm that would likely end up on the snowy ground.

"I'm used to speeders. Not beeeeeeahsts," she yelped as the tauntaun pitched but quickly straightened as it hit a soft spot in the snow. Gloved hands were clutching tightly to Malik's arms. "Stars don't let me fall."

Throat cleared as she realized she was acting like a little school girl.

"I mean. Okay. We're good." She checked her chrono and tapped Malik's right hand with her glove. "We need to go a bit more east according to the heading."

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