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So comes snow after fire.

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#21
Atham'aali'kema

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He felt the rigidness of her form lessen as they moved. This wasn't mechanized, it rocked and bucked to a natural rhythm, the likes of which required a more relaxed rider. While he hadn't trained all that much in riding on Selvaris, there were times when he could sneak out in the night and experience the wind in his hair. Of course, it often ended in punishment, but all things did. And once everything was a punishment, nothing was.

 

He smiled as the Tauntaun stepped over over a small mound, bucking Harla off the seat. His grip tightened around her as he clapped the reins. "You aren't going to fall." He let out a breath of air, watching the plume pass by as they moved. Casting a glance over his shoulder, he laid goggled eyes on the Tauntaun that was following. The wind was blowing hard enough that within moments, the track disappeared in fresh powder.

 

Tapping his right arm, he looked over her shoulder at the Chrono, noting the direction and nodding. Not that she could see it but it was a matter of body language. Pulling on the left rein and slacking on the right, the beast turned left and adjusted course. "There, that should put us in the right direction.

 

Smacking the leather with a fluid movement of his wrists, his heels kicked at the legs of the Tauntaun. It immediately began a mild gallop as the beast behind them worked to keep up. He leaned in around her as the wind hit them. "If you need to switch position, I can ride in front. The cold doesn't bother me. Though..." He stopped and looked towards the gear they were bringing along. "We didn't, by chance, bring any personal shielding equipment?"


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#22
Taheera Sollo

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You aren't going to fall.

 

"You say that now," smirk was hidden beneath her scarf.  All the green of her face was covered at this point and still, the cutting chill of the wind seemed to find breaks in her defenses.  She shivered.  They were beginning to traverse into a rockier region, the base of several mountains.  At least it would help cut the wind down once they got closer.  Or so she hoped.  

 

"I'm not sure about the shield," head turned to look behind them and the side of her covered face brushed close to his.  "We could stop and check.  Or...I can create one for a bit with the force if you think we need it?  Are you picking up on the signs of an incoming storm too?"  Head turned back forward and her back shifted against him.  "I can sense one brewing," she spoke quietly but with enough volume to be heard above the wind.

 

"We'll have to be careful.  Wampas like to hunt in the storms." 


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#23
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For the time they had spent together, it seemed he had forgotten that she was a Jedi. Or force user altogether. The fact that he asked if she had a personal shield, in retrospect, seemed silly - given that she had saved his life with the very ability he was inquiring about.

 

"Mmm...cloud formations in the distance. The spiral and the way the light from the sun is clearing up. It is a sign of things to come." He continued to push the beasts to move. "But the question about the shield was in regard to you and the wind, considering you are taking the brunt of it now."

 

Now that they were running at a steady speed in a straight line, he had no need for steering. Wrapping the corded leather in his right fist, his hands moved to clasp tightly around her abdomen. "Tell me if I'm hurting any remaining wounds..." He nodded forward. "The mountains edge should be riddled with caverns where we can wait out the storm. It will give us an opportunity to collect ours..." He paused.

 

"You can sense storms? Is such a thing possible with the force?"

 

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#24
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A hitch went down her throat as he wrapped his arms around her. Even with the cold and all the layers that separated them, there was an undercurrent of electricity. Thoughts tried to stay professional, focus on the mission instead of the underlying wellspring of belly butterflies and attraction. With Maalik so close, it was easier for her to match his riding rhythm and that of the tauntaun beneath them.

Yes, think about that.

Myrtle ellipses beneath goggles saw the signs he mentioned of the horizon. And as to her wounds. "No, you're not hurting me." A flash of heat went over her skin even in the chilling winds. "Yeah," a bit of embarrassment filled her tone. "I think it has partly to do with being a Mirialan. They seem to be more connected to their environments and I didn't have that ability before the transfer."

Already the shadow of a low thick cloud was spreading overhead, flurries began silently swirling in the air around them. A gloved hand reached forward. The air around them suddenly shimmered with a green-tint as a half protective bubble popped into place.

The bite of the wind was instantly gone and the flurries seemed to roll off around a nearly invisible apparatus. "This should help us make it to the foot of the mountains." She no longer had to speak with such volume. And she could hear Maalik's puffs of breath next to her ear. "If it gets worse I might have to try manipulating the storm. But that....will be a last resort."

There were obvious dangers associated with that. She'd only done something like that once before and it had expended her energy completely. Then again, she'd hadn't been as strong back then as she was now. However, there was a chance she'd make the storm even worse.

Head tilted as she glanced at her wrist and frowned. "The transponder signals are gong in and out."

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#25
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"Good." He responded as his eyes lifted to the shield and the way snowflakes caught against it. With the way it was set up and the way it trapped heat, he could already see the flakes melt against the shimmer from the collective warmth of their bodies and the tauntauns. "Your ability for healing is quite impressive. Even if I've already mentioned that before. Same with your other various powers."

 

Far removed from the apprehension he first felt when first shrouded in it. Seemed like such a long time ago but in reality, it wasn't. He was just adjusting to her being nearby. The jungles of Varonat, the station of Anoat, the snow fields of Hoth. It seemed unfortunate circumstances had a way of bringing people together. Or maybe it was more than that.

 

"Though..." He shook his head slowly, molten orbs looking towards the sky. "We should not manipulate the weather. We are here to rescue survivors, not remove balance from this system. Your abilities are profound but they come with consequences." Everything came with a consequence. Shifting forward, he looked at her wrist and agreed. "We'll have to find cover soon, if that is any indication."

 

"You know." He clapped the leather and took off in a harder run, given the reduction in air resistance with her shield. "You never did tell me of your life before this body. Before your green skin and the tattoos of treasure and dragons."

 

They would be there in minutes, given their pace. If they were lucky, they would just barely miss this cold front passing over.

 

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#26
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If he could've seen her face, he might've caught the flush of heat on her skin from his praise.  His words were encouraging when she found herself struggling still, with so much.  And it meant more coming from him.  "Thank you," she mumbled quietly.  "One day I may even learn how to master riding a tauntaun," tone was light with humor. 

 

"And I agree.  Storm manipulation would only be a last resort if it was needed to save the lives we came here for."

 

Still, even then.  Maalik was right. There were always consequences.  Somehow, she was aware she'd take the brunt of whatever the damage may be but it came with her fatal character flaw - to put others first and protect them.  Hand that wasn't holding up the shield, shifted, to wrap around his own across her stomach.

 

"It's complicated and long but I'll try to give you the quick version," she smiled beneath the scarf, then sobered up.  "I think I was made to be a tool for the Dark Lord.  I had a brief time with the sith when I first...uh...I guess awakened is a good word, in a female body that was a younger version of one of the force masters I was cloned after in the care of a man named Ordo who left me with a sith called Gerion Ardik.  I left, or escaped, depending on your point of view and joined the Republic."

 

She took a breath, adjusting the shield.  The mountains began to loom above them with craggy peaks.  "I fought in many wars with the Republic and eventually left to join the Alliance.  I was stationed on some fringe, outpost planets who needed help in their rural clinics until pirates came and diverted my path which eventually lead me to death and this body."

 

The tauntuan slowed and eventually stopped as they neared the walls and rock-hangings.  Snow was swirling violently outside the barrier.  Still, she couldn't help the bubble of laughter.  "I was worried I wouldn't be able to go back to the Alliance because I found out this body was -  is, still wanted in many systems."


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#27
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He stepped off the Tauntaun, still within the sphere of her power, and let out a huff of air. Stepping forward, he held the bridle of the Tauntaun with one hand and offered the other to Harla. Whether she took it or not, he would find no insult."So we are similar in that way, in being created for purposes that were beyond our control."

 

Moving towards the rocky outcropping, he placed gloves hands against various small boulders, mostly covered in snow. "It sounds like an unfortunate journey for you as well. That in one hand, Ordo would teach you how to eat soup and in the other, would hand you off to a Sith. Seems irresponsible." Pushing away the snow, he realized that it might not be best to tie the Tauntaun's up outside of the cavern that stood before them. Even with their resiliency, they were likely to die in the coming storm if exposed for too long. "I am glad that my time with the Legion did not cause us to meet before we did. Otherwise we may have been enemies. Instead of...

 

He stopped short of wherever he was going with that. With a smile that filled the silence, he stepped forward and grabbed the reins of the Tauntauns and began leading them into the cavern.

 

"I am glad you found the Alliance. And that your questions led you to Varonat." He made no comment on her still being wanted, given that he may very well have the same sort of circumstance. Though he doubted to the same degree.

 

He knocked his tongue at the beasts, soothingly, as he led them into the interior of the rock outcroppings. Depending on if he left her shielding or not, he would feel the gusts of wind pick up as snow was blasted across the entrance of the cave. This felt oddly familiar to Varonat, though he was pleased to not be running for his life through steamy jungles.

 

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#28
Taheera Sollo

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She definitely took the hand because her legs were already stiff as two Kashyyyk boards.  Shield evaporated as they entered the cave.  Footsteps half walked and limped behind Maalik, gloves trying to massage blood-flow back into her stiffened and sore muscles.  She grimaced, realizing she hadn't quite gotten the rhythm of riding the tauntaun down yet.

 

"Yeah, we might've killed each other," a quick, grim smile flickered across her lips as she thought about how to maneuver around the instead of...

 

Going to the back tauntaun, she began pulling some gear from the side packs, looking to the swirling and now violent snow on the cave's entrance.  Myrtle-ellipses traveled back to the tracker on her wrist and she frowned.  "If there are survivors, I hope they found a cave like this because there won't be much surviving that without any gear or other shelter."  They might be there a few hours, might as well heat up some water and make some tea or caf.

 

She turned to Maalik, holding a portable stove and some waterproof blankets they could sit on.

 

"I'm glad it was you on Varonat too.  Otherwise, I might be rotting away in some First Order work camp right now."

 

Or dead.  Perhaps essence transferred into some other body.

 

"And instead of?" Maybe she was feeling a bit of the pirate queen's boldness from the body she inhabited.  "Bunkmates?  Becoming more than friends?  Lovers of food?"


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#29
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He was busy collecting bits of debris and dried roots that had collected on the interior of the cave. Fungis, moss, materials that were biotic but dried due to the arid environment. While the rock walls weren't particularly good for plant growth, it didn't keep the plants from trying. Though he wondered what the point was, for them, given the harshness of this environment.

 

Leaning down, he set his pack down and looked through it. Pulling out a fire rod, he ignited the material as a light and flames were cast into the interior of the cavern. It was an odd juxtaposition to have what would effectively become a warm and inviting abode, set against a howling blizzard not 10 meters away. At the mouth of the rock face, large snowflakes scattered about in the wake of the wind.

 

"Well..." He stated, molten orbs looking up to the Mirialan as she moved towards him with a stove and blankets. Standing up, he took one of the blankets from her and flung it out. Running it near the fire but not too close, he scratched one of the scars running down his cheek. He then realized that his goggles were still on. Pulling them up over on to his forehead, the tight goggles left an imprint around his eyes. "None of those things sound mutually exclusive so...all of the above? I am removed from the force so the future remains a mystery to me."

 

Setting cross legged on the blanket, he pulled his gloves off and held his hands near the fire. "But I can hope."

 

He made the statement without even thinking. Though he felt her earlier comments were also worth reply. "And I agree about the survivors. We will continue forward on the expectation that they survived the harshness of this planet. They were trained Galactic Alliance, after all."

 

Taheera Sollo


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#30
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She too pulled her goggles off and had a similar imprint that went along her tattooed cheeks.  Hat and gloves were peeled off next as she took a seat next to Maalik on the blanket.  Kneeling, she set the stove up, gathering some snow along the cave floor and putting it inside the kettle.

 

But I can hope.

 

She became more aware of the clenching feeling within her chest and the heat of the fire along her face and exposed skin.  "Caf or tea?"  Turning to Maalik, she rummaged around in her pack for two mugs and brought them out.  "And," she began quietly, that sudden boldness melted as quickly as the snow in the pot over the stove.  "Just because I'm exposed to the force doesn't mean I know what the future holds either.  At least, I've never experienced it.  But I hope you're in it...with me."

 

She looked up as she said that last part, eyes locking onto his own and traveling along his face and those scars.  Without really thinking about it or how appropriate it may or may not have been, green fingers reached out and brushed along the side of his cheek, fingerpads running gently along the scars there.  She'd withdraw just as quickly unless he stopped her.


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#31
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"Tea is fine..." He stated as his hand moved to press against hers, touching across the scars on his cheek. Uniform slits, evenly distributed across his face, all with an almost perfect depth. One might wonder where he obtained them, what value there would have been in such torture. It was a more personal affair, the sort where he was forced to drag the blade across his flesh himself. A lesson in values, the shapers had told him, for removing his attachment to the Chiss. To his own people. It always seemed to revert to that purpose or another.

 

Hate your people. Love the Legion. Everything else was insignificant so long as they didn't stand in the way.

 

Thumb rubbing across the back of her palm, he squinted as he looked back towards the fire. "You asked me why I was fond of you, before...after Anoat. Yet...I would ask the same of you. Why do you hope for me to be a part of your future?" He wasn't entirely confused but at the end of the day, he wasn't taught to hold value in himself. He couldn't see it, beyond his abilities to kill, so why would she want him to be a part of her future.

 

Eyes lifted towards the mouth of the cave, burning irises of molten rock - locking on to various flakes of snow. "Is it because of my impeccable taste in pastries?"  

 

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#32
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She tried to bite back a smile but wasn't successful.  Head ducked down before looking back up, her palm entrapped against his own.  "Naturally, yes.  Skill of pastry selection is very hard to come by these days.  In fact, I'm surprised you haven't been snatched up already."

 

Her smile widened.

 

Free hand tucked strands of chestnut hair behind her ear.  "But I...this might sound odd but I...trusted you the moment you snuck me into that crate."  Free hand rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly and she lowered her hand from his face though her fingers didn't move to separate themselves from his own.  "Even later, when you reacted differently when I used the force.  I still didn't stop trusting you.  Though, I was sure I'd done something to offend you and figured you'd be mad at me the rest of the trip.  The way you cared about your crew before the betrayal.  And your care with my safety ultimately softened my heart.  That's probably naive but that's how I began to want to spend more time with you."

 

She squeezed his hand and plucked two tea bags from her pack, letting her eyes lock with his again as she attempted at some safer humor rather than the deep waters she'd just been treading.

 

"That and you're really attractive.  Some might say hot, even."

 

Ha.  More of an answer he'd given her when she'd asked the same question earlier.


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#33
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"Hot huh?" He smiled, having spent enough time at space stations and dry docks to catch up on some soap operas - when time allowed. While the Yuuzhan Vong had nothing for such a concept, given that it was largely a cultural idiom, he recalled inferring the meaning from interactions of the holonews. "Well, maybe I'll just put the fire rod out since we don't need it against this tenacious storm."

 

He was far removed from ego and given his numerous disfigurements, he wasn't sure she was being honest or just being polite. But he knew how to take a compliment, either way. He followed her hand movements as she went for the tea bags, molten eyes assessing what would effectively pass as their drink for the time being. "It wasn't so simple as something as offense. You have to understand the Yuuzhan Vong were forcibly cut off from the Force. What was a punishment was instead treated as a reason for honor, for glory. The majority of the universe is affected by the force and here stood this species, removed from it. Lightning, force barriers, these are the few things that can affect us. And it was instinct, deep insult, that caused me to respond like I did."

 

He made the explanation with an air of embarrassment, not one to respond emotionally if he can help it. But it was one of those things, ingrained in his shaping, that was hard to overcome. Leaning over, pleased with the contact of her hand against his own, he withdrew it for a moment take over tea preparation. With the snow melted in the warming cups, he ripped the tea bags open and dunked them in the warming water. "You know, you're lucky you're so pretty...otherwise, I'm not likely to forgive such grievous transgressions. I was Chiss once, after all."

 

Such admission wasn't one that would have come so easy in the past. But he was making progress. Pulling off the goggles and setting them near the oven, he scooted back and sprawled back on the warming blanket. With hands behind his head to block against rocks cutting through the blanket, he looked over to Jedi Healer. "Have I ever told you about Yun-Harla?" He knew the answer to the question.

 

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#34
Taheera Sollo

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"Yeah, well.  You offended me because I was just trying to save the person's life who jumped off a ship," she grumbled but there was a twitching smile on her lips.  Turning over her shoulder, she gave the cave entrance one last look.  Looked almost like a whiteout.  Eyes drifted down to her chrono.  No signals were coming through.  The storm was still affecting the device and the transmitters on the other end.

 

They were still forced to wait even though she couldn't help the guilt of sitting in relative comfort while maybe the survivors were fighting to stay alive.  Still, she knew if they went out there now, they might need rescuing and that wouldn't help anybody.

 

"If we met before your transformation it might not have worked out.  I tend to offend easily, especially with my appetite," the Mirialan settled down next to him, secretly feeling giddy that he thought this body was attractive.  Turning on her side to face him, she stretched her sore muscles with a slight wince across her face.  "And no, you haven't.  I'm assuming this has something to do with the nickname you assigned me when we met?"


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#35
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"I can tell that offense had a lasting effect." He smiled as he looked at her from the corner of her eye. "And yes..." He stated slowly, eyes drifted back to the ceiling. "It does have to do with your nickname."

 

Stretching and letting out a breath, he took in a deep breath of air. "The Yuuzhan Vong operate in accordance with religious entities. Gods. They are called the Yun'O." His accent shifted to emphasize a particular dialect of the Shai Domain. "The Great Ones. The True Ones. So on and so forth. Yun-Yuuzhan, the creator. Yun-Ne'Shel, Yun-Shuno. Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q'aah, the Lover Gods. And there are the twin gods, Yun-Yammka and Yun-Harla."

 

He paused, deciding whether he should continue. But he wasn't one for mincing words. "Yun-Yammka is the God of War, Yun-Harla is the God of Deception. But it is often interpreted more as the God of Subterfuge. Both are considered critical components for the Yuuzhan Vong victory at war." Deception was more of an insult, perhaps subterfuge would be taken better. "Yun-Harla was considered the cloaked one and though we often found ways to portray her, it was believed that often cloaked herself in borrowed skin."

 

He looked over to her, molten eyes burning warmly. "As a Slayer, I was taught to praise Yun-Yammka in everything I did. But in truth, I always preferred Yun-Harla. She looked for ingenuity and creativity, while Yun-Yammka merely demanded blood and sacrifice." His gaze drifted back towards the cavern ceiling. "I think, in moments of clarity and removed from the Yammosk, I merely wanted to be someone else."

 

Taheera Sollo


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#36
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The healer listened closely, fascination lighting her features.  She knew only what Maalik told her of the Vong and their traditions - which, wasn't much.  There was something she enjoyed of hearing Maalik's experiences and his thoughts during them.  He'd endured a lot.  He was a survivor, not a victim.  Much like herself, though, she'd never claim to be so bold or brave.

 

Or having to endure as much as he had.

 

Sitting up, she reached for her tea and handed his over.  Legs curled beneath her.  Hip brushed against his side as she sat close to him and the fire, drawn to the warmth from flames and body.  "Wait.  You think I'm a master of deception?"  Chestnut-brows lofted as she brought the cup of tea to her lips to hide her expression.  "And it's funny you called me that before you knew about my essence transfer," cup was lowered and there was a small smile on her purple lips before curiosity got the better of her and she asked the next question.

 

"Can you tell me more about the Yammosk?  When you were removed from it.  What does that mean exactly?  When you're...a part of it?"


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#37
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He took the cup of tea in hand, lifting to his nose as he took in the vapors. Too warm to drink, he set it above him on a small outcropping of rock. As she scooted over, he smiled – a gesture that was becoming more and more natural, like a memory that was sharpening over time.

 

Hand moved to brush a few locks of caramel brown from her face. “Master of deception, I am not sure…but you were wearing a cloak. So, in fashion of the cloaked one, the name made sense.” It was entirely happenstance, occurring before admission of her ability to switch bodies. It seemed convenient but when the grip fits, he was always told to wield it.

 

He searched her eyes for intent on her question, regarding Yammosks. He wasn’t sure that it was something that could be told, as it was an entirely mental experience. Like trying to describe color to someone who was blind, but it he would do his best.

 

When you step into a ship, you put on a helmet. And from that helmet, you hear a voice from command that tells you where to attack, when to attack, and when to retreat. The Yammosk is that command system but it speaks through the mind, directly to your intent. It is like a secondary subconscious that overrides your primary concerns. It reassures you of your responsibility, reminds you of your obligations, and informs of consequence upon failure.” He reached over, holding a hand over the tea. Still too warm. “I was never directly connected to it. But I was always connected. And when the Legion was forced out of Selvaris that voice disappeared. Everything that guided me from my new birth…” He lifted his hand and snapped his fingers. “Gone in a flash of silence.


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#38
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Scooting around so she could face him as he spoke, her legs were crossed, bent knees fanning out on either side.  One bent leg rested across Maalik's torso, hip still against his as she held her mug in both hands.  Heart stirred in her chest as the deep greens of her eyes watched his face as he described an answer to her question.  "I'm impressed you didn't go insane without the voice you were so used to hearing and guiding you suddenly....gone."

 

The healer took a sip of her tea and let the silence linger between them.  Relative silence, minus the howling storm outside.  Thoughts drifted briefly to the other extraction teams.  Hopefully they would also be okay.  The last thing the Alliance needed were more bodies added to this world.  Perhaps the storm was why they hadn't encountered any First Order opposition when they first landed.

 

She'd told Gabe once...or perhaps it was Trextan, that she'd heard a voice when she was first born...awakened?  And when she essence transferred.  Seemed connected to an ancient sith power or spirit but she didn't want her thoughts to dwell there in this moment.  She refused to be a tool of the darkside, no matter the cost.  Even if that had been her creator's original intentions.

 

Placing the cup down at her side, she let her elbows drop to her knees and an upturned hand catch her jaw as she leaned forward, finding herself unable to look away from the warm depths of Maalik's eyes.  "When you were first taken, did you think about escaping?  Or was that a thought they snuffed out before it could even take root?"


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#39
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I am not sure I didn’t go insane. I did willingly go to Hoth to get stuck in a cavern during a snow storm.” He smiled as he rebutted her comment following the silence, jokingly, before sitting up and grabbing his mug. It was soothing, the temperature, enough to take sips or even small gulps. Finally taking a sip, he pulled his legs into a fold, gingerly placing the cup near her leg – the limb that was extending into his sphere. “Though the company might have been a deciding factor.”

 

He met her unmoving gaze with his own, shifting in his position so that he was facing her. So that her bent legs sat fight in front of him, her verdant gaze ever close. “Of course I thought about it. But…” He paused, molten irises lifting up and to the left. “They have ways of figuring out what someone thinks. Particularly when held beneath their blade.” It wasn’t a sad thing he discussed. In fact, he often felt removed from the memories. As if he had not experienced it, as if someone else was there and he had simply watched from afar.

 

He leaned forward, fingers warmed by the cup, as he pressed a thumb against the spattering of tattoos on her left cheek. “Thoughts are superficial to them, like tattoos. You think of a thing such as escaping, and they know it. And then they punish you. Until you learn to not even consider options. Future exists in the linear space in front of you. Commanded, you move where you are told, and you don’t question it.

 

He stopped, burning orbs shifting from her eyes to the markings on her cheeks. “Were these on this body before your transfer?”


 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#40
Taheera Sollo

Taheera Sollo

    Cursed

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Atham'aali'kema

 

"The company and access to pastries, no doubt," she grinned, adding her own humor to his.  Layering, like a cake.  And like someone turned up the temperature in their little, shared cave, she felt a flush of heat run through her body as he sat ever closer, thumb along her cheek.

 

Green hand came up instinctively, making contact with the one on her cheek.  Her other hand reached out and rested lightly on his leg as if contact would create a closer connection.  The healer wondered if this was what Gabe felt and yearned for when he could so easily share memories with touch through psychometry.  She knew for her and Maalik, connection would happen the old fashioned way, through words and shared experiences.

 

Myrtle ellipses finally broke from burning molten to look downward, as if she could see the markings on her green skin.

 

"Yes," she spoke quietly.  "I think it has something to do with the Mirialan's devotion to their religion and their connection to the world around them."

 

Eyes lifted to meet his warm gaze again.

 

"It's frustrating.  I feel like I'm a stranger visiting and this body is a temporary home.  Nothing on it is mine.  I'm nothing but a thief.  This is going to sound silly but," eyes drifted beyond his shoulder to the tauntauns munching what little grass they could find, "I was fighting on Kashyyyk and a sith stabbed me in the abdomen with his lightsaber.  Gave me a scar.  I actually miss that sometimes.  The marks I knew that I had earned."

 

She smiled slightly.

 

"Sorry.  Don't mean to be so morbid.  If it wasn't for the transfer, I wouldn't even be sitting here now.  I never would've met you.  You never would've had to share a tauntaun ride with a healer who could barely stay in the saddle.  Tragic.  I know," lips curled further upwards.


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